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Archive for the ‘baking’ Category

Getting back into the groove with sticky date pudding muffins

In Amy Beh, baking, child-friendly recipes on October 26, 2014 at 7:26 pm
I managed to take this photo before it rained! It was a close call.

I managed to take this photo before it rained! It was a close call.

In between laziness and packed weekends, I’ve neglected trying out recipes for quite some time. Even blogging about recipes I’ve tried in the past have been put off week after week. When there is a free day, I just want to chill out and read the newspapers or tackle much-needed household chores. Before I know it, it’s already Sunday night and it’s time to get ready for another work week ahead.

I managed to give myself a kick in the butt today with a super easy, fuss-free pudding/muffin recipe and I’m writing about it on the same day! I had no excuses. I had all the ingredients and it’s a good way to use the dates bought last Hari Raya.

I’m a bit confused over the naming of this recipe. So is it a pudding or muffin? I reckon more of a muffin. It’s not as moist as a pudding. This recipe makes six to eight muffins, depending on the tray you use and how much you put into each mould. Personally, I prefer food in smaller sizes. They just seem to taste nicer and there’s less of a ‘jelak’ factor. I made eight and devoured four today during teatime. The other four are reserved for Monday and Tuesday’s breakfasts.

This recipe is easy enough for children to attempt (with adult supervision of course). Time needed is under one hour, from prep to washing up. It doesn’t call for fancy tools and all they need to know is how to stir/whisk and spoon the batter into the moulds. Make this your weekend project with your children/nieces/nephews/grandkids. Its great for bonding, teaching life skills and at the end of it, there’s something to eat!

Shopping list: dried dates if you don’t already have  them (feel free to substitute with other dried fruits)

From the pantry: butter, self-raising flour, bicarbonate soda, soft brown sugar, eggs

Hardware: whisk, muffin tray (I recommend silicone for easy removal of muffins), oven

Can I do it?: Even a kid can do it. What’s your excuse?

Tip: Serve with ice cream if you are feeling decadent.

Credit: Amy Beh, StarTwo. Original recipe here.

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Plum and almond tart

In baking, fruits, Jamie Olver on June 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Jamie Oliver's Plum and Almond Tart

Sometimes I get too ambitious. Let’s bake a tart from scratch! That means no store-bought tart shell. Boy, was I in for a lot of work.

The dough was difficult to form because I used the wrong type of sugar. The recipe calls for confectioner’s sugar, which I assumed was granulated sugar. I later found out it is icing sugar, which would easily melt and thus make the dough more pliable. So, with the tough and crumbly dough, there was some great effort pressing the dough onto my Pyrex tart mold. Then I had to freeze the shell before putting in the filling. But that’s not all.

For the filling, the almonds need to be blanched, then chopped fine with the food processor. Next up for the food processor is the butter and sugar. Then mix the butter and sugar and the chopped almonds with the pistachio and beaten eggs. And after all this, the filling has to be chilled.

By the time it went into the shell with the plum, I was shaking from hunger. After an hour of baking (or less – watch that the almond does not burn – nuts tend to burn easily in the oven), another half hour is needed to cool it down. My advice is, there’s nothing like a nutty tart you make with your own two hands, but do not attempt it on an empty stomach.

Shopping list:

For the pastry shell – vanilla bean, lemon (zest), cold milk (or water)

For the filling – plums, almonds, pistachio nuts, vanilla sugar (or use caster sugar plus vanilla)

From the pantry:

For the pastry shell – butter, icing sugar, salt, flour, eggs (yolk), salt

For the filling – sugar, eggs, butter, sugar

Hardware: oven, tart mold, fridge, food processer

Can I do it?: It’s not difficult as you think if you buy a readymade tart shell. If you attempt to make the shell from scratch, be prepared to spend a lot of time on this. Maybe you can make the shell a day or two earlier.

Tip: 1. Make sure you have enough space in the freezer to freeze your tart shell.   2. The recipe is actually enough for two tarts. I made one first and froze the leftover dough and filling. The second time around, I left out the plums and used a silicone muffin tray instead of tart mould. I find this easier as the baking time can be halved and the portions are perfect for single servings. It’s also easier to store muffin-size tarts in the fridge compared to a tart mold. And no more messy slicing if your crust doesn’t turn out perfect. You could use a tin muffin tray too but line with cupcake paper for easier removal of baked tart.

Credit: Jamie’s Kitchen by Jamie Oliver. Full recipe for tart here

Sausages with caramelised onions and parmesan mash

In baking, Bill Granger, pork on June 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Sausages with caramalised onions and parmesan mash

I have a neighbour who makes his own bacon and pork sausages. I’m not much of a bacon person. No matter how mouthwatering bacon sounds, I usually end up disappointed. Maybe it’s the dry texture. I prefer my meat moist, like my neighbour’s homemade sausages. None of the processed stuff of compacted meat and ‘other parts’, his contain minced meat that crumbles out when the casing bursts from the heat of the pan.

I’m usually quite lazy when it comes to sausages. Just fry with onions and eat with bread. But since I’m on a quest to try new recipes, it doesn’t hurt to have something more fancy once in a while.

The onions are baked in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar, plus a sprinkle of sugar, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. The sausages are just fried while the mash is made with boiled potatoes, mashed and mixed with heated milk and butter, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Shopping list: sausages, desiree potatoes (or any red skin potato), milk, parmesan cheese (grated)

From the pantry: red onions, olive oil, soft brown sugar, butter, red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar,  salt, black pepper

Hardware: oven, potato masher

Can I do it?: This is as easy as it gets.

Credit: Every Day by Bill Granger.

Tip: Use good quality sausages from the deli. If you’re using those cheap ones from the frozen section of the supermarket, you might as well order a hot dog from Ikea or neighbourhood Ramly Burger stall.  


Baked apples

In baking, fruits, Jamie Olver on March 31, 2013 at 10:01 pm

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When I have guests over, I like to offer them something they may not have tried or don’t often get to eat. This is one of them. It’s impressive but not too difficult to make. No special skills are needed. Just bash the cloves and bay leaves, mix with everything else, squish the mix (this gets pretty messy, so have paper towels at hand), stuff into the cored and halved apples and bake. Like Jamie always says, it’s easy-peasy!

Shopping list: green apples, sliced almonds, orange and lemon (for zest), raisins, brandy or whisky (I left this out because I had neither)

From the pantry: unsalted butter, bay leaves, cloves, mixed spice, soft light brown sugar

Hardware: baking pan or bake-proof dish, apple corer, oven, grater, pestle and mortar

Can I do it?: Most certainly yes but be prepared for squishing your fingers into the butter and sugar.

Credit: Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver. Full recipe here.

Pão de Queijo

In baking, bread on January 29, 2013 at 12:51 am

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I love bringing back a little something from my travels, and this includes food. Pão de queijo (cheese bread) is a popular Brazilian snack sold in bakeries. It’s crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Along with pinhão and the local flavours of Maggi instant noodles and Knorr seasonings, I brought home a premix of the pão de queijo from my 2011 trip to Brazil. The bread was incredibly tasty and I was very sad when I finished the pack.

I had downloaded a recipe for the bread but forgot about it until recently. We were having a potluck party in the office and I needed a plan C.

Plan A was crème caramel. I made it over the weekend and brought it to the office a day before the party. It did not survive the bus and train journey. I made them in little stainless steel bowls which I placed in Tupperwares. All that rattling around from the bumpy bus ride caused an ugly mess.

There was already a plan B, which I executed at the same time as plan A. It was supposed to be a bonus contribution, and also my first try of a new recipe – almond squares. That too tanked.

The baking powder was flat, so the mix did not rise. By the time it cooled down, it was hard and had to be scraped off the pan. Plus, the nuts I scattered on top burned. Note to self: mix nuts into batter, never sprinkle on top even if the recipe calls for it as nuts burn easily in the oven.

The double disasters called for a plan C. I wanted to make cinnamon and walnut buns  which I had attempted before (they tasted great!) but couldn’t get bread flour.

Then I considered slut’s spaghetti (will post about this later) but there was already too much carbs (rice and noodles) on the menu. I went through my recipe collection, wreaking my brains over what is doable in the morning before I leave for work and new to my colleagues but yet not too strange (I brought couscous to a house party once and had to take home most of it).

I stumbled upon this forgotten recipe and it made perfect sense to choose this because my new boss is a Brazilian. And the recipe looked simple enough. The ingredients are also minimal.

I woke up an hour earlier on potluck day and set out to work. The dough was sticky (from the tapioca starch) and a challenge to handle, but I had help from the electric mixer. And although I kicked myself for getting grated Parmesan cheese instead of a block (cheaper per gramme), it turned out to be a blessing because I did not have to slave over the grater.

The smell coming from the oven was the kind that makes you wish you had a home above a bakery. The bread is best eaten when it’s still warm. Oohh… it’ll make you go mmm... The bread was well received at the party. Even the Brazilian approved.

Shopping list: milk, tapioca starch, grated Parmesan cheese

From the pantry: eggs, oil, salt 

Hardware: mixer (optional), oven, baking paper

Can I do it?: Yes. Easy but messy because of the sticky dough and having to coat your hands in oil to shape the balls.

Tip: To store the bread, let it cool down completely before putting it into an airtight container. Do it before and the bread will deflate because of the trapped moisture.

Credit: Unavailable. Recipe sourced online.

Maple-glazed Wings with Bacon

In baking, chicken on January 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

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With a title like Fifty Shades of Chicken and a suggestive cover of a voluptuous chicken all glazed and bound bondage style, this book had me quivering in anticipation of the pleasures of the flesh nestled with the bosom of its pages.

Yes, this is a parody cookbook of the wildly successful Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. Fowler was quick to jump onto the gravy train of Fifty Shades. Expect lots of thrusting (of fillings into chicken cavities – now get your mind out of that filthy gutter!), begging (to be marinated and cooked), sliding (into the oven), screaming of safe words (Golden! Golden! Black!!), ripping of (tin) foil and spanking (with a rolling pin). Fans of Fifty Shades will appreciate the references to the trilogy and get to relive the tense attraction between the two protagonists – Shifty Blades and Miss Hen.

I’ve marked the book with many post-its as many of the recipes seem easy enough and the ingredients readily available. For my virgin attempt, I chose Maple-glazed Wings with Bacon. Only because I had chicken wings and bacon in the freezer.

The recipe calls for restraining of the wings with bacon. Hmm… Christian Grey would approve. Unfortunately, Miss Steele feels like this is more vanilla chicken than a hot, kinky experiment. Patience, my dear. Hopefully the rest of the recipes will live up to its kinky-cookery inspiration.

Shopping list: maple syrup (I used honey instead), scallions (spring onion) chicken wings, bacon

From the pantry: soy sauce, rice wine vinegar or apple cider, garlic, black pepper

Hardware: baking tray, tin foil, oven

Can I do it?: Yes, baby, yes!!! But be gentle with the bacon strips when you tie up the wings.

Credits: Fifty Shades of Chicken by EL Fowler. And thanks to Wee for the book.

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies for the Clients

In baking, Bill Granger, cookies on January 25, 2013 at 4:38 am

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Cooking in a household of one poses a slight ‘problem’. Especially with baking, because you can’t just ‘halve’ the recipe. Baking is an exact science – reducing the ingredients according to the serving you want doesn’t work.

Well, I think I’ve found the perfect taste testers for my cooking experiment, and earned a few brownie points along the way. I served this to the clients when they came to the office for a meeting. The clients and suits almost finished the whole Tupperware of cookies, but then again, the meeting lasted the whole day. They could’ve just been starving!

These cookies have less ‘guilt’ because of the oats and raisins. The brown sugar gives them a mellow sweetness, not the toothache-inducing sweetness of white sugar. As for the butter, well, I never apologize for butter.

Shopping list: eggs

From the pantry: butter, soft brown sugar, oats, raisins, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt

Hardware: baking tray, baking paper, flour sieve, egg beater, oven

Can I do it?: Definitely. One of the easiest cookie recipes I’ve tried. You don’t need delicate hands too because these cookies are earthy rather than pretty. Just roll the mixture into balls and flatten them with a fork.

Credit: Bill Granger’s Every Day. Full recipe here.

Cranberry Muffins

In baking on October 26, 2012 at 10:53 pm

My nephew celebrated his first birthday recently and it was a good excuse as any to try this simple recipe. I’m not a big muffin fan, so muffins (along with cakes) are made for others.

If you have all the ingredients at home, this is also a great recipe to whip up when you have unexpected company coming your way. Preparation takes less than half an hour and baking time is only 25 minutes. You can clean up and be done by the time the muffins are ready.

Shopping list: milk, eggs, cranberries (you can also use other dried fruits like raisins or chopped apricot)

From the pantry: butter, sugar, baking powder, salt

Hardware: muffin pan, muffin paper cups, oven

Can I do it?: I didn’t know muffins were this easy to make!

Credit: ben’s

Madeira cake to impress your mother-in-law

In baking, cake on October 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm

No, I don’t have a mother-in-law. But Nigella Lawson does, and this is her mother-in-law’s recipe.

I made this on a whim. Have not been cooking/baking seriously (as in trying out a new recipe) for months. Then last weekend I came across this recipe as I was browsing my Facebook. I had all the ingredients and the recipe seemed easy, so what the heck. It’s time to get back on board. Bree Van de Kamp may bake when she’s feeling down, I’m baking to get my mojo back!

Whenever Bree Van de Kamp was feeling low she found solace in the act of baking. When her first husband passed away, she made coffee cake. When her second husband went to jail, she made sugar cookies. And when her teenage daughter got pregnant, she madecrème brûlée. So when Bree’s best friends stopped speaking to her, she hoped that her warm cherry scones might thaw their chilly relationship.

Intro from ‘Putting it Together’, Desperate Housewives Season 8, Episode 9

Madeira cake is said to be similar to pound cake, which I had attempted before. Comparison between the two:

  • Both use lemon juice. Madeira cake includes the zest.
  • Pound cake calls for buttermilk or yogurt.
  • Pound cake uses more sugar. A lot more.
  • There’s more butter in the Madeira cake. Fine by me. I love butter more than sugar.

Verdict: Pound cake is more dense and sweet. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, go for the Madeira. Both are simple cakes. No fuss, both in taste and preparation. Goes well with a cup of hot tea. Perfect for lazy Sundays.

Shopping list: lemon, eggs

From the pantry: butter, caster sugar, plain flour, self-raising flour (if you don’t have this, substitute with plain flour, baking powder and salt – follow the guide here)

Hardware: cake pan or loaf pan, oven

Can I do it?: Absolutely. If you can measure and keep an eye on the oven, you’re all set.

Credit: How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. Full recipe here.

World’s Best Baked Onions

In appetiser, baking, Jamie Olver, vege on November 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I first saw this on The Naked Chef years ago and have wanted to try it ever since. Jamie always manages to make whatever he’s dishing out seem super delicious. And anything that’s wrapped in bacon is bound to make me salivate.

Onions are rarely eaten on their own, especially whole like this. Don’t worry. You’d need to boil them first for about 15 minutes, so the sharp taste would be gone by then.

How this works is you dig out the middle part of the onion, chop it up and fry with some rosemary and garlic. Then, add double cream and Parmesan.

Slice off the base of the whole onion (so it can stand), wrap the bacon around it and secure with toothpicks (or rosemary twigs). Finally, put in the cooked onion mix into the onion cavity, place on a roasting tray and bake in the oven – 200 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes.

Shopping list: white onions, fresh rosemary (or dried), double cream, Parmesan cheese (grated) ginger, pancetta or smoked streaky bacon rashers

From the pantry: cooking oil, garlic, salt and pepper for seasoning

Hardware: grater (for the cheese), toothpicks, oven

Can I do it?: It’s Jamie’s, of course you can!

Credit: Happy Days with the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver

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