Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Passing of a Grand Old Lady

My Paternal Grandmother passed away on the 29th March 2010. She was 103. Some say 102 as she completed 102 years last November. It doesn't really matter though. 102 or 103 she had a remarkable life. To put it in cricket terms, she had an Outstanding Innings! When I think about it, she actually lived through two World Wars and that by itself is pretty amazing.

Chop_Sign

From the time she turned 90, each year we we would often think that it would be the last birthday we would celebrate or the last christmas we spent together or the last easter but she kept soldiering on. And on and on and on.

Back in November, 2007, I had the honour of baking the cake for her 100th Birthday and I'm glad I had the chance to do that. Since then she has had bouts of illness and been hospitalised but she always seemed to come out stronger than before.

The time has come to pass though that there will be no more Christmases or Easters or even simple visits to my grandmother's house. She has gone and in many ways I am thankful that she has moved on to a better place.

This is my small tribute to you Grandma - a post on my blog in rememberance of you. Thank you for all these years of love, advice and guidance. Thanks for all the fun times in your house where the family would all gather over the years. Thanks for the good food that you always managed to whip up and the recipes that have been passed on down the generations. Thanks for the brass ornaments that used to sit in the 'holes in the wall' that you gave Michael on one of his visits. Thanks for everything and most importantly, thanks for all the memories!

God Bless you Grandma and may you Rest In Peace...

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Bond makes Orange Tian




The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.


Bond was downcast. He left the party but for the first time in many years, if ever at all, he was alone. True, many women had laughed at his jokes, flirted with him even, but they had all left with men much younger than he was. Not as good looking no doubt, but younger nonetheless. This was not how it was supposed to be for Britain's finest. Damn the years, Bond thought to himself. Damn the women too that had spurned his advances. Damn everything!

With a sulk and a frown, Bond slid into his Aston Martin and drove home. Alone. As he drove home, he thought about his life. He realised that after he was forced to kill Veronique, due to her betrayal, that his demeanour had changed somewhat. His outlook on life had darkened and he realised it showed. Perhaps that was why he had little success at the party tonight. He was dreading spending the night by himself and he wished, almost willed, that his phone would ring.

Ring it did and it was none other than M, requesting his presence at MI6 headquarters. His spirits lifted as he knew that he was only called upon when no one else could be depended on. He was after all, Bond, James Bond, Agent 007! Quickly he spun the Aston Martin around and headed back to headquarters.

"Good to see you again Bond." M said. "I'll get right to the point. The Chocolate Cartel in the USA are in a quandary. A group, led by this lady called Jennifer, has infiltrated the Chocolate Labour Union and all the chocolate has been reduced to shavings. The entire baking industry is in a mess."

"So you want me to kill her." James said matter of factly.

M frowned and sighed deeply, causing her very attractive bosom to rise and fall - something James didn't miss.

"James," M said softly, almost kindly. "Not everything needs to be solved by killing. You used to be much better than that."

The softness in her voice quickly faded as she returned to her commanding tone.
"To complicate matters, this Jennifer is Canadian. From Montreal, Quebec to be precise. By destroying all the chocolate, she's hoping to create some sort of diplomatic incident. You know how the Americans and Canadians are. Much like us and the French."

"Why not get the CIA, FBI or whoever it is in the US that does things to help out." James questioned.

"Well, all the US Agencies cant seem to figure this one out." M replied.

"So it's up to Britain again. As usual." James said, almost drolly.

"Well, technically Canada is stil ruled by HRH Queen Elizabeth. The White House is using that to put part of the blame on us."

Bond snapped his heels together and stood at attention at the mention of The Queen. "So what am I supposed to do?" James queried. "Since I can't kill her."

"Its really quite simple James. Make a Tian. Make an Orange Tian. Then showcase that to the baking world and show this Jennifer woman that the MI6 is not to be trifled with."

James nodded and smiled as he retreated out the door. Only problem was, he had no frigging idea what a Tian was...


Bond woke early on a Saturday morning as he was accustomed to doing. He nuzzled the gorgeous woman lying beside him as his hand sneaked along her naked thigh. She moaned softly as James nibbled on her neck. Bond noticed that she was actualyl being receptive! Things were certainly starting to look up!



Suddenly she sat upright. "Don't you have an appointment with the Chiro this morning James?" She asked him softly.

Bond cursed under his breath. Just when he thought he would have his way with this nubile woman, he was reminded of the treatment for his bad back. He quickly showered and dressed and as he was towelling himself dry, the gorgeous beauty appeared and shed her clothes. Certain things are certainly looking up, Bond thought to himself as he stared at her pert breasts. He reached in to pull her close for an embrace.

"I really dont have time for that now, James Darling. I have to take my mother to run some errands."

James quietly grumbled to himself. It was either her Mother or The Queen or her friends or The Queen or the marketing or The Queen. How was a special agent to ever get some loving in his life!

Having been spurned by the ravishing beauty, James realised that he had a little time to kill and so he decided that he would make the dough for the Pate Sablee.

The dough came together rather quickly and easily. Bond then wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge. As he was about to leave for his treatment, the Venus like beauty strolled down the staircase in a vision of beauty. His breath caught in his throat as he watched her sashaying figure. Her watched as she bent down to pick up her shoes, admiring the pink lace that peeked out from under her jeans as she bent down. James sighed as he left the house. Time was never on his side.

40 minutes later and he was back from the Chiro, feeling a little recharged after the treatment. No doubt the recipe called for the dough to rest for 10 minutes but he reckoned a longer rest would do it no harm.

Bond decided he would next segment the oranges. He cussed and swore as he segmented the fruit. Who'd have though it would be so difficult? He wished Q was around to whip him up a super segmenting gadget. Heck, it was far easier removing the clothes off women than it was segmenting oranges. Then again, he had far more experience removing women's clothes than segmenting oranges. Bond smiled as he thought of all the undergarments he had removed in his life. Lovely Memories indeed! With his thoughts focused on lacy undergarments, he managed to segment the fruit with a minimum of fuss.

Next came the caramel. No issue here as James was rather well versed with caramel making. While waiting for the sugar to melt, James thought back to Veronique. Although she had betrayed him, she was perhaps the one woman he had loved. That was probably why he had become so cold and heartless. He decided there and then that he would change his ways. There were far more important things to do in life and his duty to Queen and Country was definitely a key priority. Bond stood up smartly and years suddenly seemed to vanish from his face. He felt a renewed vigour as the sugar turned to caramel before he added in the freshly squeezed orange juice. James then poured half this mixture in with the orange segments and let it rest.

Now it was time to bake the Pate Sablee. Bond rolled it out and decided he was going to make the Orange Tian as a rectangle. With this in mind, he cut the pastry into two rectangles - not sure if he would make two tians or one.

As the Pate Sablee baked, Bond read through the recipe again. Marmalade. He was required to make his own Marmalade!! He had two issues with that. Firstly, he didn't have enough oranges. Secondly, and more importantly, he couldn't bring himself to make marmalade. It required too much effort as it reminded him of the spy Lady Marmalade. He had had more than one night of lustful passion with her many years ago as he was just starting out in MI6. Lady Marmalade was French and educated in the art of sexual epsionage. She had tricks that no other woman he had met had ever known, far less even heard off. Lady Marmalade had just the right combination of citrus alure, oozed tanginess and the most succulent peel - all in the right places. James felt his heart racing just at the thought of her. Her undergarments were always of the finest lace and orange in colour - all the time. James sighed at the memory of her. He particularly remembered the time she had tied him to the bed. She moved to the edge of the bed, letting her long hair fall over him. she had moved up slowly, very slowly until...

He shook his head to clear the wanton images of Lady Marmalade from his head and just in time as the oven bell rang signifying the end of baking time for the Pate Sablee. Bond took the baked dough out of the oven and broke off a small piece of the extras for a taste. It tasted much like shortcrust pastry, only more flaky and delicate.


The next day, James assembled the Tian. He began by whipping the cream and then folding in the orange marmalage - from a jar! He then assembled the Tian - upside down as instructed. He started with a layer of orange segments, then smoothed a layer of cream over it before covering the whole thing with marmalade covered Pate Sablee.

He had a little extra so he made a small circular serving in a ramekin dish. Another challenge done and completed.



James beamed with pride and felt the darkness leave him. There was no longer a sense of foreboding about him and he was back to being Bond, James Bond, Jedi Master - released from the Dark Side. Oh wait, that's Star Wars...uh, where was I... Ah yes, He was back to being Bond, James Bond, full of arrogance and grandeur!




With the challenge completed and chilling in the fridge, Bond kicked back with a Martini, shaken not stirred, and reminisced about Lady Marmalade. In particular how she would wear sexy lingeries in her boudoir and whisper to him:
Voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir.

To which he would reply:
Coochie, Coochie, yaya dada, Come On Lady Marmalade!!

** **** ***


This dessert was served when The Lovely Wife had two of her friends over and they all loved it! The Lovely Wife sampled the small Tian and declared that it was indeed very interesting and tasty. The kids really liked it too.

I have to admit that I was skeptical about how a dessert with everything orange based would turn out but I was pleasantly surprised. This dessert was really delicious and the orange caramel is a new skill that I think I will use often!



Thanks Jennifer for a great challenge and I'm really sorry I didnt make my own marmalade. If it makes a difference, the intent was there but I just didn't have the time to pull everything together. Forgive me??!!




For the Pate Sablee:
Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams
Directions:
Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.
Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.
Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.
For the Marmalade:
Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked
Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.
Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.
Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.
Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).
Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.
In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).
Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.
For the Orange Segments:
For this step you will need 8 oranges.
Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.
[See YouTube video in the References section below for additional information on segmenting oranges.]
For the Caramel:
Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams
Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.
Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.
Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.
[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]
For the Whipped Cream:
Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatine
1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon
In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]
Assembling the Dessert:
Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.
Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.
Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.
Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.
Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.
Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.
Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.
Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.
Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.
Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.






Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Michael makes Pesto for a Presto Pesto Pasta



Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

I've always believed in that saying and I try and put it into practice with the kids. I always like to teach them how to do something so that they learn how to do it themselves - instead of always doing it for them.

The same thing applies in the kitchen. It's no point always cooking good food for them if they never learn how easy it actually is to cook! That's one of the reasons why I've always encouraged my children to help out in the kitchen and both of them are more than happy to help. I'm slowly trying to get them to do more things in the kitchen on their own in the hope that one day they will be able to manage themselves in the kitchen and maybe cook a little something for us on their own.

A few posts back, Sarah helped me out with a batch of Choc Chip Banana Muffins and in fact, since she did most of the work, I gave her all the credit for it!

This time, Michael wanted to help me make a pesto as The Lovely Wife (or in this case, The Beloved Mother!) wanted a pesto pasta for lunch. This is the step by step of Michael making the pesto - with just a little help from me.


We used Cashew Nuts instead of pine nuts. After weiging out the nuts, the first thing with Cashews, as I learnt from MY Mother, is to always break them in half to check for sand, mites or any other foreign object. Get your sister to help out too!



Next, wash the basil leaves and place them in a colander to shake the water dry. Get the nuts and the basil leaves ready.



Get the food processor out and place it together with the basil leaves, nuts, olive oil and cheese on a table.
Yes, we forgot the garlic but more on that later...




Process the Basil leaves into a nice smooth paste.




Add in the nuts and process till smooth. Some people like the pesto a bit chunky so process it however fine you want it.



Oopps!! This is where I realised that we had forgotten the garlic. No matter, add it in as everything is going to be whizzed up anyway!



Next, Add in the cheese and process together. The mixture will get a little thick at this stage. Use a good quality cheese like Pecorino or parmesan although cheddar works as well.



Next, Add in the olive oil, a little at at time till the pesto forms a nice paste. The more oil you add, the thinner the paste - again, a matter of choice.


Finally, add some salt, dip you finger in, scoop up a little bit and taste it, adding more salt as required!



Hey Presto! Here's your Pesto!




Ingredients
3 Cloves Garlic
50g Sweet Basil Leaves
100g Cashew nuts
100g good quality cheese - grated
Olive Oil

Method
Blend everything up together in a food processor, adding the oil a little at a time at the end till the right consistency is achieved. The consistency is basically up to you.



To make a Pesto Pasta, boil your pasta of choice till Al Dente, then drain and toss together with your pesto. Again, how much you want to use is all a matter of taste.



I whipped up some meatballs to serve together with the Pesto Pasta for a little more body. The Lovely Wife however, preferred to have it just with some sliced cherry tomatoes. Did I mention she loves Pesto??!!



Michael was very proud of himself and so was I! As usual after eating, both kids thanked us for the meal. This is when I quipped, "Thank yourself! You made the pasta!"

You should have seen him beam!

Michael is proudly bringing this pasta over to Aqua from Served with Love who is hosting Presto Pasta Nights this week. Presto Pasta Nights is the brainchild of my friend Ruth over at Once upon a feast



I hope you not only enjoy this dish as much as we did but have just as much fun in the kitchen making it! Remember, kids are never to young to help out in the kitchen and cooking with kids is such good fun!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Egg curry with eggplant



When I was young, my mother used to make a delicious egg curry. However, as I grew older, started cooking on my own, grew older, got married, grew older, had kids, grew older, this dish hardly made an appearance at our dining table.

That changed a few weeks ago. The Lovely Wife has been having a penchant for cooking Indian food using recipes from her collection of Indian Cookbooks. She decided to make this Egg curry and to say that it was delicious would be a tad of an understatement. It certainly brought back fond memories too!


This version of Egg Curry is a little different from how my mom used to make it. For one, this recipe uses eggplant that give the egg curry a nice distinctive flavour. I found it kind of funny (punny) that Eggplant is used in an Egg Curry - get it??!!



This is The Lovely Wifes interpretation of the recipe.

Ingredients
6 eggs
4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 onions, sliced
3 green chillies, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch ginger, ground
handfull of curry leaves
1 tsp Tomato Paste
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
3 tomatoes, sliced
1 small eggplant, cut into large pieces
200g spinach leaves

Method
Place the eggs in a large saucepan. Cover with water and slowly bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 mins or till hardboiled. Drain and let cool in a bowl of cold water. Peel shelss and rinse the eggs to remove stray shells.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add onions, chillies, garlic, ginger and curry leaves. Cook stirring frequently until onions are soft. Add the tomato paste, ground coriander, turmeric, chili pwder, garam masala and a little salt. Cook, stirring for one minute.
Add the tomates, eggplants and spinach leaves. Cover and cook stirring from time to time for 6-7 minutes or until the gravy has blended with the eggplants and spinach. Add the hard boiled eggs to the pan and let them heat through in the curry for about 5 minutes before serving.



The recipe above comes from the book Indian Shortcuts to Success by Das Sreedharan.

Das claims that "Spicy egg dishes, such as this one are a favourite with my friend Jamie Oliver..."
While the egg curry was tasty, I wouldn't put it at the same level as something that Jamie would endorse - then again, Jamie aint not friend of mine is he...?

Regardless of whether Jamie Oliver likes this dish or not, it is very tasty and very nutritious. I really enjoyed this dish and to me, it's best eaten with rice, although I reckon it would be good with bread too!


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Roasted Garlic Vegetables and Brown Rice



Ever since I stumbled on the secret of making a sauce out of roasted garlic, I have used this trick many, many times. I usually make a pasta dish but figured one day that it would probably go well with rice as well. The best thing about this dish is that you can use any kind of vegetable and you will still get a delicious tasty dish.





The Lovely Wife had bought some brown rice and I decided to serve this dish with it. The irony of brown rice is that in days of yore, it used to be eaten mainly by those who didn't have enough money or who were sickly. Nowadays, where most of us are more health conscious, we realise that brown rice is actually much healthier than white rice and is in fact more expensive now. Funny how things work out!

This is how I made the vegetables.


Ingredients
1 tsp oregano
200 g mushrooms - sliced
1 stalk celery - chopped
1 stalk leek - chopped
2 zucchini - sliced
200g spinach - blanched and chopped
2 tomatoes - chopped
2 red capsicums - cut into large squares
1 large bulb garlic
Black Pepper
Method
Cut the end of the garlic and then place the garlic bulb in a small dish. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil over it and roast in a 200C oven for about 20 mins till soft. Squeeze the cloves of garlic out of their skin and process to make a paste.

Fry the oregano till fragrant. Add in the mushrooms and cook till juices are released. Add in the leek, celery and zuchini and cook till just tender. Add in the spinach and tomatoes. Pour in the garlic paste and mix well. Finally toss in the capsicum and cook till slightly tender. Serve with brown rice



The brown rice has a nice nutty flavour and a nice bite to it. It went really well with the vegetables and it was a most satisfying meal. The Lovely Wife rates this as one of her favourite dishes and I like it too. I also have to admit that with this kind of dish, you really don't need meat to enjoy it. Then again, maybe some meat may make it better...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Honey Chicken and more cultural exchange



My son's favourite dish to order at Nasi Kandar restaurants is Honey Chicken. For my foreign readers, Nasi Kandar is basically rice with a variety of dishes, usually curried or spicy. Nasi Kandar is thought to have originated from Penang and is is basically food with a strong Indian Muslim influence.

Literally translated, from Malay, Nasi is Rice while Kandar is a yoke or to carry with a pole on the shoulders. Picture a vendor in days of yore, balancing a pole on his shoulders with each end of the pole attached to containers of rice and curries! Today, Malaysia is full of Nasi Kandar shops and the key or trick to a good Nasi Kandar is to mix a little bit of curry/gravy from every dish in addition to the main meat dish that you choose. Ergo, if you chose to have a chicken curry with rice, you would take a serving of chicken curry but you would also add a litte of the gravy from the mutton curry, the fish curry, the chicken kurma, the chicken sambal... you get the idea.

One of the specials at most Nasi Kandar restaurants is the Honey Chicken. This is basically chicken cooked in a honey sauce flavoured with spices. Some shops add a bit of chilli powder to make it a little spicy. Most times, the chicken is fried first and then coated in the sauce.





Any time we go to a Nasi Kandar restaurant, my son will order Honey Chicken. Since my son loves his Honey Chicken so much, The Lovely Wife decided she was going to try and make this at home - without frying the chicken first so that it would be healthier. This is what she did.



Ingredients
Chicken
4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
1 onion - sliced
cinammon stick - broken into pieces
1 Tbsp Dark Soya Sauce
1/2 Tbsp light soya sauce
3-4 Tbsp Honey
Method
pound ginger, garlic and marinate the chicken together with the dark soy sauce. Fry the cinammon until fragrant. Add onion and cook till soft. Add in chicken and cook well. Add light soya sauce to taste and then add in the honey. Continue to cook until chicken is well coated and honey is caramelised.



It turned out really well and we all really enjoyed this. I guess the true test of the success of this was my son licking his fingers and declaring. "No need to go to Nasi Kandar shops anymore Mummy!"


Friday, 5 March 2010

Rasberry Chocolate Chinese New Year Cake



Recently, The Lovely Wife and I were invited over to a good friends house for dinner on the second day of Chinese New Year - February 15th 2010. Ms Lor Siak Por had also just moved into a new apartment and so this was kind of a double celebration.

I had offered to make a cake and initially I had planned on making my version of the Le Kit Cat but a quick check with her showed that there may be some problem with space in her fridge. I also didn't know how many people she would be inviting so I thought I would make a cake that didn't need refrigeration.


Deciding on what cake to make was a bit of a challenge. Ms LSP had indicated that she wanted a red cake - in line with the Chinese New Year festivities and also the fact that Red is considered good fortune. The only red cake that I know of is the Red Velvet Cake but I'm not a big fan of that due to the amount of colouring that goes into the cake. I considered making a normal butter cake and topping it off with red icing when I remembered that I had once made a cake using Jelly crystals (but never posted about)that my friend Naomi had told me about.

The fact that Ms LSP also likes fruity, summery flavours convinced me further that this was a good idea. So I made a Raspberry Chocolate Cake! I sandwiched the cake with chocolate icing and also piped on the Chinese Characters for Luck in dark chocolate.



For a bit of added flavour, I tossed in some strawberry jam in the chocolate icing as well!

The beauty of this cake was that everyone thought I used real raspberries for the cake. The cake had a lovely reddish tinge (okay, maybe more pinkish) with a nice subtle taste of raspberries. The strawberry jam laced chocolate icing complemented the cake very nicely.




How to make a Jelly Cake? Just use your favourite Butter Cake recipe - plain of course.
The trick to this cake is to just substitute an equal amount of sugar with jelly crystals. If your cake uses 200g of sugar and your jelly crystals are 90g, then use the 90g of jelly and 110g of sugar. Get it? Very easy, very tasty and everyone will wonder where you got the flavours from!


The cake was very well received and everyone really enjoyed it. The only trouble with this cake is that it gets a little dry after some time - especially if left uncovered. It does have a nice crumb though.



Ms LSP was really thrilled with the cake and the next day she sent me the photo above to post on this blog...

I'm glad you liked the cake Ms LSP!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Peanut Butter Choc Chip Cake



Over the christmas period, we had a few friends over for tea. I wasn't quite sure what to make but I knew I wanted to bake a cake. I also wanted something different yet quick and easy. So I looked through a cupcake recipe book that I have called 500 Cupcakes and Muffins by Fergal Connoly. I got intrigued by a recipe for a Peanut Butter cupcake especially when there was a variant that included adding in chocolate chips. Why was I so intrigued by this? Well, My little princess loves peanut butter; I've never baked a peanut butter cake before and as I said earlier, it was different.

I ran the idea by my little princess who was rather excited about the prospect of having a peanut butter cake especially when I said there would be chocolate chips in it. She immediately mentioned that it sounded like Hershey Reeses Cups - which she absolutely adores. She was completely sold on the idea.



Instead of baking cupcakes though, I baked it in a bundt pan. I was going to leave it as it was but my little princess was playing with The Lovely Wifes I-Phone and chanced upon a recipe for a chocolate glaze. She came running to me and asked if I knew how to make a choc glaze and if I could please, pretty please, put it on the cake.



So that's how I ended up with a layer of chocolate glaze on my cake although I think that in my rush, I kind off heated the chocolate a bit too much and it became a rather thick mess rather than the fine smooth glaze I had in my mind. I had to spread it on rather than just pour it over but it still tasted great.



Ingredients
250g butter
225g caster sugar
250g self raising flour
4 eggs
120g crunchy peanut butter
100g chocolate chips
Method
Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and continue to beat till thick and creamy. Combine the peanut butter and then add in the chocolate chips. Bake in a 180C oven for about 40 minutes or till done.





This cake was a little heavier and richer than I expected and although it was really delicious and enjoyed by all, it was a little dry. I put that down to baking in the bundt as it spent quite a while in the oven. The insides of the cake didnt bake as fast and so the outer parts turned kind of dry. Lesson to be learnt here - cut down on the amount of batter when baking in a bundt or just bake in a normal pan!



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