Mid Autumn Day's Makings

I am truly amazed and inspired into the wonderful baking creations of other talented ladies linked with Lee Lee, Florence and Jo. Its like a new-found world and hobby into the wonders and colors of baking and cooking arena. There are many other talented ladies out there! Theres Jes (hut of cranberry), Lucy(aunty yochana), Lily Wai and many more.

Mere surfing and visits to their daily blogs will simply take your breathe away with their cooking and baking passions and delights which also means that, you will be left drooling away, helplessly, literally spoken. And far beyond doubt, many will envy their immediate families and close friends who benefits from their give aways, well, in hope, soon that i could be one of the lucky receipient too. (teasing. =p)

And to catchup with their amazing talents, being an amateur, I follow ever so closely with their guiding steps to the makings of few new bakes and cooking for my family and they have been most encouraging, naturally.

On Mid Autumn's, i made my final batch of snow skin moonies. And thanks to the recommendation in the blogs of Jes, I managed to get a simple flower mould (the last of the last piece) from Ailin Bakery House with the help of the lady boss there. Though my intended purchase was something prettier, you know, like the ones Jes purchased, but just couldnt resist the mentality of "must get something" to make the trip worthwhile.

So tempted I was with the lure of the red wine berry paste from KCT posted in Jes's blog, I got a small pack from KCT and indeed, the taste was pleasing to the delight of my palate. Thanks Jes! Not forgetting, receipe with thanks from Aunty Yochana. =D

On Mom's suggestion, I went along with the idea to making sushi for dinner. Quite cool idea, as the sushi roll will be round round. Well, its the first time I am making sushi and yes, i fumbled here and there but the roll came out decent. No fancy japanese ingredients to go along as this was a 1st trial. Bought the basic stuff like sushi short rice, sushi vinegar seasoning, bamboo mat, bamboo spatula etc for the making. Once everything was ready, I rolled in cooked eggs, blanched carrot, cucumber and japanese pickled radish and that was my version of "futamaki", simplified version. "oishi" were compliments well received by me and boy, I was thrilled when the first roll came off quite pretty though theres room for improvement in the tightening of the rolls.

Theres plenty more to bake and cook and learn from the wonderful ladies. Me, an amateur, a follower will continue in looking out for more guidance in this new 'adventure'.


Spiral Yam Mooncakes

Was still in the mood to challenge myself to complete, well, basically, the common variations to making mooncakes based on the dialect groups. Personally, yearly, without fail, our family will purchase the teochew spiral yam mooncakes from Eater Palace. This year may not be an exception. Others may beg to differ in the choice but to each his own, i would rather not argue.

So i "ventured" into Jo's site http://www.jodelibakery.netfirms.com/ and followed as closely as i possibly in hope to achieve the pretty spiral yam mooncakes that she made. as this is my first attempt, at least 4 out of 8 had the proper pretty spiral look. if only i had observed closely during the making process to focus on the importance of placing the paste in the centre where the "dune" shaped likeness could be seen on the pastry as i was rolling the finale roll before adding the paste, that could have made the difference.
in addition, i would need to improve on my yam paste texture did not achieve the paste-like texture at all. a pat on my own shoulders, well, at least i tried. =D
based on my personal attempts so far, i would rate the level of difficulty as follows :
most difficult = traditional brown skinned moonies
challenging = snow skin moonies
not so difficult = spiral moonies
easiest = flaky moonies
what about you ?


Traditional brown skinned mini moonies

After 3 failed attempts in the making of the traditional brown skinned mooncakes, I must say I was really on the verge of giving up, you know, as in surrending white flag. Even my most supportive Mom was commenting about the wastage as in the hardened products were not edible and had to be thrown. The consolation was that the portions were small hence it was not huge wastage.

Then again, I have been told that baking brown skinned mooncakes are more challenging than making snow skin mooncakes. Not only on the baking timing, but also other areas like the kneading process etc. Then again, I was deep down curious to get to the root and find out what went wrong.

Last Saturday night, as I was browsing through the delightful, colorful pages of Florence latest blog pictures loaded with the wonderful creations of her baked and snow skin moonies, thick headedly I consulted her online about the hows and whats.

Florence is an amazing lady with great patience. View her blog page at http://www.wlteef.blogspot.com/ and you will be caught up in awe and amazement at her talents. And upon her advice, I picked up my broken pieces of shattered passion and followed her precise steps very closely.

And patiently, today being the 3rd day after the baking of the moonies. Yes, the texture turned out wonderful. Thanks Florence for your guidance!


Lotus Leaf Menus

By chance, i came across this interesting receipe from http://bakingmum.blogspot.com/2007/07/beggars-chicken.html giving the precise introduction to the making of beggar's chicken. Its a dish i have long heard of and on Tuesday evening for dinner, after having marinated the chicken from Monday.

It was interesting as it is not everyday that you will 'catch' my Mom unaware of any type of fresh produce marketing. Well, she hadnt any idea what lotus leaf looked like, whether dried or fresh etc. Neither do I. But she managed to get around that by asking her friends, and bought 3 dried lotus leaves sold by a medical hall in one of our neighbouring HDB shopping area for $2.

I did not have any picture taken of the baked Beggar's Chicken but it was a winner with my siblings & Mom indeed and its definately a unique receipe which retains the sweetness of the well marinated sauces, coupled with the aroma of from the baking & the wrapping with lotus leaves giving it a fragrance which sweetened the appetite.

And just last evening, I browsed through a cooking book which I borrowed from the Community Library and saw this receipe of Lotus Leaf wrapped rice and it was a instant "hit" in getting me to cook it.

Ingredients :

5 - 6 chinese black mushrooms (well soaked, softened & diced )

1 chinese sausage (soaked, plastic removed, neatly diced) (portion to your own preference)

{ instead of roasted, cooked chicken meat as recommended as we had chicken the nite before}

lotus seed (50g) (optional) (if its dried, soak it in warm water for 20 mins, use toothpick to remove the green colored bitter centre piece & boil for about 25 mins till cooked)

2 spring onions (washed & cut finely)

1 cup of cooked cooled steamed rice

1 lotus leaf (if dried, soften it thoroughly by submerging it in hot boiling water, drain & wipe dry for use)

2 kitchen strings

Sauces :

2 tbsp fish sauce

salt & pepper

3 tbsp of oil

Steps :

Stir fry mushrooms, lap chiong & lotus seed for about 3 mins adding salt & pepper to taste. Dish out into bowl.

With the remaining one tbsp of oil, stir fry rice with the spring onions adding 2 tbsp of fish sauce to taste.

Next add in the fried mushrooms, lap chiong & lotus seed & stir fry till evenly spread and mixed.

Dish out onto centre of lotus leaf, fold it neatly like a parcel, bind with kitchen strings & steam for about 10 mins for the fragrance of the lotus leaf to soak in.

Serve hot.

Tom Yam SeaFood Soup

For the longest time, I have been wanting to cook Tom Yam Soup at home but my family members were not "supportive" of the 'idea' back then. So, whenever my craving comes around, and if I am out shopping, I would hunt around and pop by a thai restaurant or kopi tiam which serves thai food and will order a bowl of 'must have' Tom Yam soup. Then again, you know, when the chefs are in the most generous mood, the extra lime juice will instantly change your facial expression and you will squirm with displeasure.

Recently, Mom came back from one of her usual "aunties" chit chat sessions and was sharing with us that one of the them suggested the intake of Tom Yam Soup which was good for the body. You know the aunties hearsay theory of Tom Yam for Thais, Kimchi for Koreans etc... the best of the authentics and origins, all the goodness etc.

So, on Monday, 10 September, I decided to cook Tom Yam Seafood Soup for dinner. Chose the Knorr's brand Tom Yam paste as recommended from a friend who advised me not to get the granules version as it will result in courser, sandy residue.

As this is my first attempt, I was not 'adventurous' in the cooking process. I played safe in using 1 litre Knorr's chicken broth, added lemon grass, ginger, onion, prawns, fish and 2 tbsps of Tom Yam paste with chinese parsley for garnishing. The result was a bowlful of hot, spicy Tom Yam Seafood Soup which warmed up the body with the very first sip, sending the chill away. However, I had to fine tune the spicyness down abit with a tbsp of sugar as my youngest sister was not into hot & spicy food. Mom had two bowls of the soup instead of her usual of just a bowl of soup. And most of my siblings & of course myself loved the soup too.

Cooking has indeed been made easier with these instant paste & sauces. Everyone can learn to cook, its just a matter of trying.


Steamed Tapoica Kueh

The last time when I attempted to try the baked tapoica kueh (also known as kuih bingkat ubi or cassava kueh) a month ago, the feedback i got from my family members then was that the texture looked oily and tasted heavy (i.e sinful indulgence) with generous loading of coconut milk.

When my craving came around again over the week, I asked my Mom to "look out" and buy tapoica from the wet market when she does come across it. Seems that tapoica is not widely or commonly supplied. And yesterday Mom managed to get 2 pieces of tapoica weighing about 600g. Straight after lunch, I geared myself to process and prepare the steaming of the kueh.

Grating the tapoica was taxing and a test of manual endurance especially the arm strength. Hence, cuts on the hands by the grater was part of the process. Following Florence's self tried and tested receipe, I had a plateful of delightful, pandan flavoured, reduced coconut milk, steamed tapoica kueh which passed the tastebuds of my Mom. Time well spent and yummy kueh which is a preferred kueh for tea. Yes, I am beaming with delight.


Carrot & Orange muffin

With so many receipes galore on the variations on the making of assorted muffins, i decided to try my hands on baking homemade muffins as well. I came across a receipe from a cooking book borrowed from the community library which features mostly collections of dishes focussed on healthy living, healthy cooking, which means low carb, low fat and high fibre.

The simple steps of this carrot & orange muffin caught my eye. This is my 2nd attempt at the making and the muffins turned out lovely indeed. In fact, carrot & orange as blended juice are already a "hit" with many as the combi of both contents are high in fibre and Vitamin C. A delightful indulgence without feeling sinful and 'fuss free'.

Ingredients :

150g self raising flour

75g sugar

100g semi skimmed milk ( i used meiji low fat fresh milk instead )

zest & juice of one orange

125g coarsely grated carrot

2 eggs (lightly beaten)

2 tbsp corn oil

1/2 tsp baking flour


Shift flour, baking powder, grated carrot, orange zest & sugar into a mixing bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

Mix milk, sugar, orange juice, oil till well blended.

Make hole in the centre of the flour bowl and pour in liquids and mix till well blended.

Pour into muffin cups and place in well greased muffin tins.

Bake in preheat oven of 200 degrees for about 20mins.


Flaky Moon cakes

Attempted making the traditional brown skin mooncakes last night. And due to my over sight, the baking time was stretched and I ended up with a tray of "tough cookie" exterior with the paste instead. Pretty disappointed at the 1st trial failure.

Undeterred, i browsed more blogs this morning for inspiration from a few home made chefs and decided to give the making of flaky mooncakes a try instead.
Though the steps seemed easy at a glance, the actual practical hands on was not so. Perhaps I had been too forceful in rolling the water & oil dough together that the 1st ball became dry initially. From thence, I took care to apply gentle, patient moves to roll the dough and managed to salvage the final product.

After about 2 1/2 hours, there were 9 loose flaky pastry with the lotus seed paste topped with white sesame seeds.
This being my 1st attempt, I am pleased at the end product with the texture looking pretty indeed and edible flaky pastry. I had followed the receipe very closely from Jo's Deli & bakery. ( Thanks for sharing the receipe !)

Well, at least now I am a step closer to knowing how my favourite "dou sa ping" can be made using the same method.