Beggar's Chicken

'Resourcefully', I searched the history behind the given name to this dish. Seems that long time ago, a thief wrapped the stolen bird in clay and baked it in a hole in the ground to avoid being caught in the act. Clay and mud (natural earthenwares, which are now our modern casseroles) are natural insulators that can retain the natural juices of the food during the process of slow cooking. Smart aleck, i mean thief.

This was my 2nd attempt cooking this receipe which I found in Lee Lee, Baking Mum's blogsite some time back and this was cooked for last night's dinner. Arh, no mud or clay was used to wrap the chicken in retaining the juices and gravy, and in this current era, we are using the natural fragrance of lotus leaf wrapping and our 'modernised' aluminimum foil to insulate heat during the baking. However, I skipped the making of the outer most layer made from plain flour (you know, as a replacement of mud ./ clay wrap) but, as I wasnt in the mood to do it coz the last round when i attempted that, the hardened baked plain flour, it was tough to crack and had to be thrown once it was cracked open to unveil the end product.

Instead of baking the chicken for 3 hours, mine was only baked for 2 solid hours. Nevertheless, the chicken meat was tender, moistly soaked in the juices, and no knife was used for the breaking of the chicken parts. We, literally, could detach (tear in the ancient term in the act ) the parts as we desire as the chicken was already very cooked to the bones to the extent that breaking it was effortless.

Again, this dish was a winner with my family members who readily gave thumbs up. Credit goes to LeeLee for sharing the receipe.


Rainbow Wheels

It has become 2nd nature for me to browse the shelves at the community library, in which i will dwell in the maze of rolls and rolls of shelves which houses a mass variety of books relating to interests, hobbies, reference or knowledge etc. Well, a visit at least once in 2 weeks when the books are almost due for return is deemed necessary so as not to incur additional 'cost' for any overdues. Alas, if only I had been so diligent during my schooling days, then perhaps, just perhaps, my English language could have fared better. But of course, things have taken a different course in my living years, so lets move ahead.

Came across this rather seasoned looking cooking book titled 'Asian High Tea Favourites' by Betty Saw, a renowed veteran chef in Malaysia, in the community library last week, and I was rather taken aback that the book was first published in 1979, that was when I was still a small kiddo. (shant elaborate further lest my age gets unveiled). A walk back to memory lanes.

Then again, the receipes in this book are interesting too as it is written by an Asian for Asians. And so I decided to give this receipe called 'Rainbow Wheels' a try out bake. At 1st glance, its color captures your attention, and then the guessing game of, is it swiss roll cake? rolled buns? Well, its actually baked cookies. Lovely right? But of course, I am not professionally trained nor skillful enough to roll the dough that perfectly, nor did i register the dough freezing time correctly, and hence, my end product looks like a 'deformed' semi circle instead of the perfected round shaped biscuit look in her book.

Even my Mom was 'enchanted' by the colors in this biscuit. And yes, this was inspired from the sightings of the wonderful colors array in Aunty Yochana's blogsite.

A colorful trial bake start for the week.

Marble Cake

I've not been able to bake as frequent due to 2 main reasons :
a. flu and cough virus has caught up with me for the past 2 weeks ;
b. my 'avid' supporters in bakes, ie. my 2 sisters are away, having a well deserved holiday overseas.

And today, I decided to bake because my sisters are scheduled back on Tuesday morning. So, this bake should be good as a mini welcome munch for them. Bravely, I wanted to emulate the making of the lovely marble muffins which Aunty Yochana baked recently. The swirl patterns on her cakes simply looks artistically divine. Have a view via her receipe link at http://auntyyochana.blogspot.com/2007/10/marble-muffins.html and be convinced of her talent. Seeing is believing!

But alas, my bake did not turn out as arty as I desired (pardon my lack of 'technical' skill and my not so nimble hand work as this is a self learning process and I was never artistic to begin with. =p). No one said it was gonna be easy especially for amateurs like me. Ah well. Practice, practice and more practice.

And instead of muffins, i tweaked it and made a marble cake instead using a 8" inch round baking tin. And instead of using the fresh plain milk, i used the new-on-shelf, Marigold HL Strawberry flavoured milk. The cake looked flat, laddened heavily with more chocolate than the, well, intended effect. And my so called swirled effect was visible only from top view, only if you zoom in very, very closely.

Nevertheless, I am pleased with the texture of the cake. Moist and soft. During the baking, the aroma soaking the kitchen was scented with the whiff of strawberry milk mixed with chocolate, a delightful inhale.

Thank you Aunty Yochana for sharing the receipe. (p.s. i'll make it look better next round. hopefully. =p)


Lemon Yoghurt Muffins

After last Tuesday's fried chicken wings for dinner, the following day I had sore throat, followed by fever, cold and coughs. Probably due to the weather also, but the main root for the sickly frame of mine, which i am certain was the 'over indulgence' of the deep fried chicken wings. Yupz, greedy me. =p

So you can imagine how 'trapped' I had been able not being able to access the kitchen to cook or to bake. Half the time for the last few days, i was blowing my 'biggy' nose one minute and then coughing within the next second. Felt so lousy. All I could do was to eat the medications timely to nurse and rebuild my stamina back again.

Feeling less zombie and much better today, i 'itched' to bake something simple. And while thinking, I searched the fridge and realised that the lemons which I bought about 2 weeks back were still untouched. One had turned mouldy, and had to be thrown away immediately. I needed to salvage ('make something good') out of the 3 remaining lemons and fast is THE word. (no wastage allowed!)

Promptly, I did a quick check online and found Aunty Yochana's receipe on Lemon Yoghurt Muffin.
http://auntyyochana.blogspot.com/2007/06/lemon-yoghurt-muffins.html and incorporated some additions of the lemon zest and the glaze touches from another webpage.

Within an hour, I had 6 lemon yoghurt muffins, 3 with lemon glaze and the balance lemon juice into a small glass of lemonade. Pretty effortless but the warm muffins are moist and soft in texture and I had to quickly take a foto shoot of the remaining 4 muffins before its all gone.


Gula Melaka Fa Gao @ Prosperity Kuih

I've come across the making of this Gula Melaka (Ye Jiang Tang) Fa Gao in the blogsites of Jo's Deli, Aunty Peony's, Aunty Yochana. And today while browsing through Amy Beh's cooking book 3 which was borrowed from the community library, I decided that I had to try making it too.

Zooming into the steps, it seemed easy and it requires only basic ingredients. Oh yes, I am aware we are still couple of months to CNY, I thought I will start 'practising' on the goodies for Christmas and CNY, (some may say k.s. but I am a 'greenhorn' in the kitchen werkz, so gonna need more practice lah!). Hence, whenever I chance upon goodies receipes or when the craving 'tempts' the taste buds, but provided I happen to have the necessary ingredients at home, 'wonders' cook & bake in kitchen will kick start.

I have got some remainder chopped gula melaka in cling wrap 'sitting' in the fridge and this receipe just seemed right for my practise. I 'tweaked' the receipe abit by using canola oil instead of butter, used reduced amount of castor sugar in place of soft brown sugar, instead of using tea cups which is usually recommended, 6 small bowls were used instead.

The whole process of preparation sets off with the natural fragrance from dissolving gula melaka with pandan leaves, then once the coconut milk is added, the smell was sensational breathe in of goodness for the lungs, (my personal take on that. =p). An hour of waiting for the yeast to 'proof', the steaming in the mini tefal steamer. All in all, it took about 2 hours.

End product was 6 bowls of pale looking, gula melaka flavoured 'huat kueh' with only 2 ' fas'. Need to review on the steps again to get all to 'fa' for next making.

Nevertheless, the texture was moist, soft and just the right sweetness.


Banana Nut crunch cereal biscuit

Out of the blues yesterday, Mom made a passing remark that 'theres nothing in the fridge to munch'. In that instant, I laughed and replied teasingly, ' ya hor, my fault, no bakes.' Last weekend, I was engrossed in some other arrangements and had 'neglected' to bake 'goodies'. And as I did not 'stock up' ingredients, there was not much variety or assortments I could whip up and I was at loss initially at what to bake.

As I was browsing over the containers (sometimes the word is 'ransack' ), I realised I had small balance of banana nut crunch cereal and my sister recently commented that I had not baked home made biscuits for quite some time already (which is very true ever since i started to dwell more focus and curiosity in cakes baking and kuehs making ).

So, I dug out my photocopied receipe and decided to bake (somewhat a twig from the original receipe), my version of simple, rounded, banana nut crunch cereal homebaked freshness biscuits. Its a two in one strike. =D

It took me less than an 1 hour to make a small container of baked banana nut crunch cereals biscuits. My very own round, round, plain plain looking biscuits. Freshness delights.

Simply love the aroma of bakes in progress. Do you share the same sentiments ?


American Carrot Cake

Is this call impulse ? spontaneity ? craving ? whatever excuse I could think of. None better than, yes, I have done it! Yesterday evening, had this sudden desire(a better word?) to eat American Carrot Cake and I remember Aunty Yochana had a receipe on it and quickly browsed through the receipe steps and within minutes, you can visualise me busy in the kitchen, grating the carrots, chopping the walnuts, measuring the ingredients etc etc. Yes, the me in the kitchen in the very 'engaged' mode.

As usual, the 'sotong' me assumed that I had enough cake flour for the baking and only when I commenced on the weighing and measuring that I realised that there is slight shortfall. 'Should I re measure the rest of the ingredients?' I thought not. So, in the end, I had flour mixture of cake flour, self raising flour with abit of corn flour to sort of balance up, hopefully. Yeps, I was keeping my fingers crossed during the mixing.

And as I was going to follow the topping icing frosting layer exactly according to Aunty's receipe, I kinda reduced the sugar to the US carrot cake to only 150gm (half of the recommended sugar) instead so that the overall cake taste will not be too sweet. (coz theres a need to cut down on sugar intake for my Mom per se).

However, I was pretty generous with use of the cinnamon powder, instead of just 1.5tsp, I added in about 2.5tbsp. I love spice and herbs, both Chinese and Western. It sets off a natural, fragrant aroma that fills up the whole house and maybe my neighbour's as well. This is the link to Aunty's homemade goodness receipe for American carrot cake :

The preparation time was about 30 mins, baking time about 1 hour, cooling time 1 hour (room temperature), mixing of the cream cheese about 10 mins, spreading of the topping on the cooled carrot cake about 5 mins, into the fridge for the topping to settle about 3 hrs. (all manual labour, yepz, you know, whisking with all my might, shifting the flour, grating the carrot, blending and mixing... phew.... )
{of coz the baking and the frosting will be the oven and the fridge. =D)

The whole process of the baking was really worthwhile. My 'Americano' Carrot Cake was dome shaped, perhaps because of the cake flour with baking powder plus self raising flour with corn flour. Ill trained as I am, the frosting layer is not levelled, but i like the unlevelled 'look' coz it reminds me of the snow covered rocky mountains in NZ when I was there for holiday some years back.

Lets say I would give myself a pass rate for this moist, soft, crunchy walnuts, topped with lemonly taste cream cheese frosting. Lovely!

Thank you Aunty Yochana for the generous sharing and guidance.


Wife's Biscuits @ Lao Por Bing

Last week i visited Florence's blogpage during the daytime of 3 Oct and came across her latest bakes. Yes, its the popular Lao Por Bing of HK. Coincidentally, on same night, Aunty Yochana also loaded her wife's biscuits bakes in her blogpage. ' That does it,' i told myself. And very resourcefully started to search for the ingredients for the bakes the very next day and my 'desperation' (or kan cheong spirit rather)to the extent i even 'manjaing' to Aunty Yochana when the candied winter melon was not available in medical halls or even NTUC or even Cold Storage. Come to think of it, goodness me, so shy.

I managed to get the newly arrived candied winter melon last Sunday at Phoon Huat and got into the making and baking today. The process was not easy for me as i fumbled during the preparation getting confused over which shorterning weightage for which portion etc. Had a good laff at myself actually. After getting over that little huddle, the rest was easy. The rolling and wrapping was almost similar to that for the flaky mooncakes and the crispy moonies, of course with a slight twist. Check out the comprehensive steps to the receipe at Florence's blogpage at http://www.wlteef.blogspot.com/.

I simply love the aroma of the bakes and the crispy bite into the homemade freshness of my first batch of wife's biscuits. So pleased.

Thanks to Florence, the amazing lady from HK.


Brownies are a "hit"

This has to be Jes's (Hut Of Cranberry) fault. (blessing in disguise. bear with me. =D). Why ? Well, because she posted such lovely brownies topped with melted chocolate and colorful icing & designs specially made for her kids and the other children on children's day, 1 Oct. Totally temptinglicious! (yep, theres no such word in any given dictionary.)

I am not (or was not) a chocolate lover but with the lure of the lovely posted pictures of chocolate related receipes whipped up by Aunty Yochana and Jes, alright, gradually I am getting 'influenced' to love the look and 'magnetic draw' of chocolates.

As always, I thickheadedly 'pester' Jes for the receipe and from which the link to another lovely Mommy, Brenda. From which I learnt that she had sourced the receipe from http://allreceipes.com/ , I couldnt wait to bake the brownies. And on Friday, I 'charged' my way to Phoon Huat in Sembawang and bought the basic ingredients (though I had wanted to purchase other ingredients for other tempting bakes as well, but there aint any stock on the shelves).

The brownies were freshly baked yesterday as I was engaged in cooking up a new dish, "black vinegar chicken" for last Saturday's lunch. The receipe is from a cooking book which I borrowed from the Community Library. The chef is none other than the renowed Amy Beh, a household name in Malaysia for home cooked receipes. The dish turned out lovely with no picture taken to share. Nonetheless, only Mom and I savoured and enjoyed it most coz we both love the black vinegar spiced up with ginger soup. yums.

Alright, shant digress. I almost forgot to add sugar for the brownies during the making. By sheer chance, some of the mixture 'splattered' on my fingers during the mixing process, and when i was licking off from my finger that I realised that I forgot to add the sugar. So, you can imagine the 'panic' to blend the sugar in at almost the final blend and mix with my utmost effort and strength. Not exaggerating coz i was doing manual mixing using the wooden spoon and yes, theres a bubble on my right small finger. arh well.

Viola, it turned out tasting great ! Though the end product was just good old simple plain brownies with chopped walnuts, and though it does not have the 'professionally' levelled nicely look, the texture was cakey, moist and the aroma of the brownies at baking was welcoming amidst the humidity over the weekend. Its a thumbs up with my sisters and of course, with me too!

Thanks to Jes and Brenda for their joint sharing enabling me to whip up easy, home made brownies.


Sesame Seeds & Walnut Muffin

There are many baking receipes that I would love to try my hands on making and today, while rummaging through the cabinets, some remaining balance of self raising flour and cake flour. And so had to make do with whatever ingredients in the house as the supermarket seems so far away under such humidity. (yep, thats my excuse.)

I came across this lovely receipe on Sesame Seeds & Walnut Muffin from Aunty Yochana's blogsite and as usual, drooled over. Unshyly and thickheadedly, I loaded Aunty with queries and she patiently gave me tips. Hence, I decided to give it a shot.

During preparation stage, what caught my attention were words in bold print which read "wash before use" on my recently purchased black and white sesame seeds packs from NTUC. Hadnt seen those bold words before from the previous leftover pack. Well, the product is Made In China, so there had to be some valid, good reason(s) for the recommendation. So, 'clumsily and obediently', the black and white sesame seeds were rinsed and washed before roasted under slow fire in the fry pan. Simply love the aura of the roasting sesame seeds, popping and jumping in the fry pan, fragrance refreshing.

Followed the steps in Aunty Yochana's receipe http://auntyyochana.blogspot.com/2007/08/sesame-and-walnuts-cupcakes.html and viola, lovely muffins (instead of cupcakes) for me. Even my brother who is not a cake eater, munched one and half portions with compliments on its unique taste and fragrance.

Thumbs up for this receipe! Thanks to Aunty Yochana for sharing.