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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Crispy Fried Calamari and Nyonya Fried Chicken With A Twist of Spice

Mom: "What you guys wanna eat for dinner tonight?  I have squid and chicken wings in the freezer."
Daughters: "Squid! Squid! I wanna have crispy fried squid!"
Son: "No! I want fried chicken."

Well, that's the conversation this afternoon in deciding what to have for dinner.  At least, they know what they want to eat tonight.  Which makes it a little easier in planning what to cook.  Usually they would say "anything la"..urgh!..all moms are afraid of that word..."anything la".  So, my dear darling girls, here's crispy fried squid for you and for my dear son, Nyonya Fried Chicken Wings.  I've added tandoori spice and yogurt to it. 
Crispy Fried Calamari

 Cut squids in rings. Dip squid in 1egg mixed with fish sauce.
Coat the rings in plain flour mix with cornflour and dash of black pepper.
Fried till golden and crispy.

Nyonya Fried Chicken with Yogurt and Tandoori Spice
Marinade:  Salt, cornflour, tumeric powder, plain yogurt and tandoori powder
Marinade chicken wings with the marinade mixture for 3 - 4 hours.
Deep fry.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Triple Chocolate Cake

This is a wonderfully moist and delicious cake.  Taken from the cookbook 'Favorite Brand Name CHOCOLATE'.  It's a compilation of chocolate recipes.  I've been 'eyeing' this recipe ever since I purchased this book and that was a couple of months ago. I'm glad I bought this book and since this cake is so delicious especially if eaten chilled, I'd like to share the recipe with you.  At the end of this post, you will find a video on how I iced this cake with the chocolate ganache...hope you enjoy watching it!

Triple Chocolate Cake
(I used chocolate ganache for the filling and the frosting)

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup)
3/4 cup/180g butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 sour cream (I used yogurt as substitute)
Chocolate Ganache for filling (recipe follows)
Easy Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans.
2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.
3. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Beat in egg and vanilla until blended. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk and sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix well after each addition. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
5. Bake 30-35 mins or until done. Cool cake in pan, remove to wore racks to cool completely. Cut each cake layer in half and frost the cake.

Chocolate Ganache Filling:  Bring 3/4 cup whipping cream, 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp sugar to boil, stir until sugar dissolved.  Place 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips in medium bowl, pour cream mixture over chocolate and let stand 5 mins. Stir until smooth, let stand 15 mins or until filling reaches desired consistency.  Filling will thicken as it cools.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Note:  since I use choc ganache for the filling and the frosting, I doubled the recipe.

Easy Chocolate Frosting:  Beat 1/2 cup (1 stick/115g) softened butter in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add 4 cups (reduce this as I think 4 cups is too much) powdered sugar and 3/4 cup cocoa in batches alternately with 1/2 cup milk; beat until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. Makes about 3 cups.

Garden Frenzy!

Let me take you through my garden...again! haahaa!

My first cherry tomato!

 Our pride & joy!

 There are more bunches of grapes but couldn't take all of the pictures.

 Chili Padi or Bird Eye Chili

 Capsicum Flower. Hope to get the fruit pretty soon!

 Dwarf Bean


 Turmeric Leaf - those leaves are huge!

Sweet Basil

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival also locally known as The Lantern Festival or The Mooncake Festival is here again.  This festival is celebrated in the 8th month of the Chinese Lunar calendar.  This is the time where all the confectionaries and bakeries aggressively market their mooncakes.

When I was little, the mooncakes are sold in packet of 5 cakes in it and filling used to be simpler, either lotus paste or red bean and for those who can afford it, will opt for mixed nuts with bits of ham in it.  Now, the delicacies are sold in various flavors where you are spoilt for choice!  The options are plentiful - there are pandan flavor, lotus paste with salted eggs, red bean, durian, green tea, mixed nuts, white beans, etc.

There are different kind of mooncakes in the market.  There are the traditional ones like the picture above, or you can have Shanghai Mooncake which has a flaky crust, 'Ping-pei' which is chilled soft pastry and even Jelly Mooncake. Where ever you go, you will see stalls being set up in the supermarket or in the Chinese medical halls, selling all types of mooncakes from various bakeries.  And the price for a piece?  Oh my! It has certainly appreciate for sure!

Personally, I would prefer the Mooncake Biscuits which is made from the leftover dough  of the mooncake pastry.  The leftover dough is being shaped in little animal moulds as in the shapes of little piglet, fish, chicken,  etc.  I'm a big fan of these soft chewy biscuits.  It's yummy with a cup of chinese tea.  However, these biscuits are not easily available unlike the mooncakes.  Since I can't find them near my home, I've decided to bake them myself.  So, this morning, after buying lanterns for my daughters, I popped over to the baking ingredients grocer and bought a wooden little piglet mould.  Then the searching for recipe starts and I found one from Amy Beh's Cookbook.  The recipe requires 3-4 hours of resting the liquid and then another 6-7 hours of resting the dough.  It just takes too long. So I decided to just add everything and let the dough rest for 3 hours...and voila! Here's my very first little piglet biscuits!

200g golden syrup
1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 alkaline water
50g corn oil
Mix all together.  (this is the part where you need to let it rest for 4-5 hours but I omit this stage)

300g superfine flour, sifted
a little dark soya sauce for the color 

1. Mix the liquid mixture above with the dry ingredients and mix with wooden spoon. Do not knead.
2. Cover dough with cling film and let rest for 6-7 hours (I let it rest for 3 hours).
3. Shape dough in mold and bake in pre-heated oven at 180C for 7-8 mins.
4. Take it out of the oven and let cool for 1-2 mins.  Brush with egg wash (1 egg yolk mix w 1tsp water).
5. Return to oven and bake for another 5-6mins.
6.  Cool on rack and store.

*Note: For more flavor, I would suggest to add 1tbsp of five spice powder to the flour.

The texture of this biscuit should not be crispy but rather soft and chewy.

And now, the best part.  Lantern time!

I remember when I was a kid, my siblings and I would round up our friends and since we can't afford to buy the lanterns, we put on our creative hat and did our own version of lantern - a makeshift of empty milo tin or margarine tin, make a straight cut about 4 slits around the can (at that time, safety never crossed our minds at all!) and compressed the can a little so that it will 'open up' and placed a candle in the center.  Make 2 holes at the top of the can from opposite ends by knocking in a nail to form the holes and run through a wire so that it will not burn and use a twig as the lantern holder.  And that's our lantern!

I recall then that our neighboring kids (they could afford paper lanterns), always got theirs on fire.  Then they started to cry and demand a new one from their parents.  Well, being kids then, it was kind of satisfying to watch their nice looking lantern burned! Especially when it happened to the arrogant neighbor! That's when my siblings and I thought, 'Huh! No one can fight our lantern..ours don't get burn'! lol.  Well...that was eons ago!

Anyway, my kids and their BFF get to play their lantern today!  And their's definitely not a cut out Milo tin!  They can burn their lantern too if they want cos that's what being kids are all have fun AND the fact that lanterns don't last...unlike a milo can (until it gets rusty)!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to all who celebrates this wonderful festival!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

 If you love chocolate and peanut butter, you will love this cupcake.  It's simply gorgeous.  It's light and at each bite, you will get a nice chunk of peanut.  This is the first time that I tried this recipe from 'Cupcake Galore' by Gail Wagman.  I've tried a few other recipes from this book and they all turned out good.  This is no different.  The frosting is so fudgy and chocolaty.  If you have school-going children like I do, drop this in their lunch bag as an 'after-lunch/break' treat at school.  Provided if you have any left at all!

You don't have to frost these cupcakes if you don't want to.  They taste just as good without any frosting!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
yields: 18 cupcakes
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
60g dark choc
60g unsalted butter
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
 (I used chunky peanut butter and you'll get the peanut in the cake)
200g sugar (I used 150g)
2 eggs
180 ml milk
120g peanut choc chips (optional)

90g milk choc
60g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar (I used 2/3 cup)
pinch of salt
60ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter (again, I used chunky peanut butter)

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
2. Mix flour, b.p and salt together.
3. Melt choc in a bowl over simmering water. Set aside to cool.
4. In large bow, with an electric mixer, cream butter, peanut butter and sugar til light and fluffy.  Add eggs ones at a time, mixing well.  Add melted choc and mix well.  Alternately beat in dry ingredients and milk.
5. Spoon batter into cupcake papers till 2/3 full. Bake for 25 mins or until done. Cool on wire rack.

To make the frosting:
1. Heat choc and butter in large bowl over simmering water until just melted. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Using a whisk or wooden spoon, beat sugar, salt, cream and vanilla until smooth.  Add cooled choc mixture and peanut butter and beat until blended.  Put the frosting in the refrigerator until it thickens. (about 20-30 mins)
3. Remove from refrigerator, beat until frosting is of spreading consistency, and frost the cupcakes.  Decorate with peanut-choc sweets or sprinkles.