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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mango Tango and Banana Rama

Do you like fruits in your cakes?  Not the canned syrup type of fruits..it's fresh fruits.  I decided to bake something that uses fresh fruits.  But what? Hmm...

So, I browsed through my collection of recipe books and decided to make not one but TWO cakes at a go.  Wow, that means, I've to spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  That's fine.  I love to bake.  You'd think who would want to eat that many cakes?  Not to worry.  I have many mouths that are just waiting to sample my bakeries!  Haahaa..if only they know what's baking in the oven!

So, here are my two selections - Mango Choc Chip Butter Cake, a recipe from Kevin Chai's 'I love butter cake' cookbook.  This cake is so moist and you can taste the fresh goodness of sweet fleshy mango in between the layer of cake and the topping as well.  The topping has 'struesel-like' buttery sprinkle with chocolate chips.  This is one fantastic cake with full of flavors.  The smell of fresh mangoes is so strong that it makes your mouth water by the aroma of the cake after baking.

The other cake is emm..well, a combination of recipes that I put together and called it 'Choc Mud Cake with Banana and Brandied Butter Cream'.  Sounds hot ya, I mean, there's chocolate in it, there are fresh bananas in between the cake and brandy in the buttercream filling and to top it, the chocolate ganache!  The texture of the cake is, well, mud-like and moist..You can taste the lightly brandied buttercream which is not too sweet and the banana just compliments the whole cake!  Mmm, mmm...heavenly!

Mango Choc Chip Butter Cake!

 200 g butter
80 g margarine
200 g caster sugar (i used 150g)
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla
80 ml milk
250g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
150g mango flesh (diced)
70g choc chips

Topping: 150g mango flesh (diced)
80g plain flour
20g caster sugar
50g choc chips

1. Beat butter, margarine and sugar till light and fluffy.  Add in eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
2. Stir in vanilla and milk, mix well.  Fold in sifted flour and baking powder, mix until well blended.
3. Spread half the batter into a greased and lined 20cm (8in) baking tin, sprinkle mango and choc chips.  Then spread the remaining batter.
4. For the topping, sprinkle the mango over the cake. Rub the margarine with flour and sugar, sprinkle on top of the mango, follow with choc chips.
5. Bake in pre-heated oven at 17d celsius about an hour or until cooked.









YumYum!!


Chocolate Mud Cake with Banana and Brandied Buttercream

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 cup strong espresso
2 tsp vanilla essence
300g self raising flour
75g plain flour
1 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
185g unsalted butter, softened
330 g caster sugar (I used 220g)
3 eggs
180g dark choc, melted and cooled

Fresh bananas, about 3-4 bananas

1. Pre-heat oven to 160d celsius and grease 8 in baking pan.
2. Mix cocoa powder, coffee, vanilla essence and 1/2 cup cold water in a bowl and whisk.
3. Sift flour, b.o.s. and pinch of salt together.
4. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beating well.
5. Stir in melted choc.
6. Add flour and cocoa mixture alternately into egg mixture
7. Pour into pan and bake till set approx abt 1 - 1.5 hrs

Brandied Buttercream:
125g butter
2 cups icing sugar (I used 1 cups)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp brandy
Cream butter in small bowl with electric mixer until as white as possible, beat in sifted icing sugar, cocoa and brandy.

Chocolate Ganache:
200g dark chocolate (broken into small pieces) or choc chips or choc buttons
2/3 cup thickened cream or whipping cream
Heat the cream in a saucepan on low heat but not boiling.  Take off heat and pour on chocolate pieces and stir till chocolate melts and it turns glossy.

To assemble:
1. Slice the cake into 3 slices.  Place bottom slice on a cake tray and spread brandied buttercream.
2. Top with fresh sliced bananas.
3. Place the 2nd slice of cake on top and repeat no. 1 & 2.
4. Assemble the final slice on top and pour chocolate ganache on cake and spread the top and sides till  all areas are covered.

Cake can be refrigerated.





Great with a cup of coffee!!
Try this and you will never regret it!!




Saturday, May 21, 2011

Life is all about Food!

What brings people together? Irrespective of which part of the world they come from, color, race, religion, language, culture, tradition etc? FOOD! Of-course, it's Food!  Food is the universal language.  Even though you may not understand the language of others but you can certainly understand and appreciate different types of food around the world.  That brings people together.  Well, it definitely bring my family together.

Two of my sisters and their family came over to my house yesterday.  So, my husband and I decided to go for Indian Cuisine...yep, again!  We come for families of curry/spicy food lovers!  And what was dinner last night??  Lamb Rogan Josh, Tandoori Chicken and the rice?  Hmmm..well, it's my own creation..so, i shall call it Nyonya Pilaf Rice (since I'm a nyonya!)...haaha..







Now, here are the recipes.

Nyonya Pilaf Rice (What's Baking own recipe)
Basmathi Rice
Cardamon Pods
Cloves
Star Anise
Garlic and Ginger (pound to a paste)
Evaporated milk
Salt to taste

Wash the rice and heat some oil in a non-stick pan or a work.  Fry the ginger and garlic till fragrant, add in the cardamon, star anise and cloves.  Then add in the rice and fry for about 5 mins.  Transfer rice to a rice cooker, add some water and half a can of evaporated milk.  Add salt and turn on the rice cooker to cook.

Tandoori Chicken
1 chicken - cut into quarters and make three slits
1 cup natural yogurt
garlic - pound
ginger - pound
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp tandoori powder
2 tsp tumeric powder
4 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp red coloring
salt to taste

Rub the chicken with all the ingredients and marinate for a minimum of 3 hours using non-metalic bowl.  Overnight will be better.
Preheat the oven to 240 degree celsius and bake the chicken for about 40 mins or until done. Serve with lime wedges and sliced red onion.

Lamb Rogan Josh
Boneless Lamb (and cut into chuncks)
2 large onion, thickly sliced
garlic and ginger, pound to a paste
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamon pods
4 tbsp medium curry paste
1 can chopped tomatoes
6 tbsp (or 1 small can) tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
400ml lamb stock (I used water)
potatoes, cut into chuncks
salt and pepper to taste

Heat heavy-based casserole and fry the lamb for 3-4 mins, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Fry the onion and cook for 10 mins, stirring often until soft and lightly browned.
Add the garlic and ginger, cinnamon and cardamon pods and fry for another 2 mins.
Then add the curry paste and the lamb.  Fry for 2-3 mins, stir in the tomatoes and puree, sugar, stock or water and potatoes. Season well and bring to boil.
Reduce heat and simmer gently for 2-2.5 hrs or until lamb is tender.  Remember to stir frequently to avoid burning.

Ok, once that's done, here's the dessert.  This is a quick dessert to make and it's so simple and yet so smooth and delicious.  It will make you beg for more after the 1st helping.  Here it is, the Creme Caramel Pudding.  The texture is so smooth and yet firm.  Look at how my nephew and my children enjoyed the pudding!









Creme Caramel
1 cup (250ml) milk
1 cup (250ml) cream
1 1/2 cup caster sugar (use 3/4 cup is enough as
you only need a thin layer to coat the ramekins)
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup caster sugar, extra

Preheat oven to 200 degree celsius. Place milk and cream in a saucepan and gradually bring to boiling point.
Meanwhile, put the sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally as it begins to turn golden.  The sugar may clump together - break up the lumps with a wooden spoon. Pour toffee into base of 6 (125ml) ramekins or ovenproof dishes.
Combine vanilla, eggs and extra sugar in a bowl.
Remove the milk and cream from the heat and gradually add to the egg mixture, whisking well.
Pour custard evenly over the toffee.
Place ramekins in baking dish and half fill it with boiling water. Bake for 20 mins or until set. Use a flat knife to run around the edges of the ramekins and carefully turn out the creme caramel onto a serving plate. 
    My cute 'little' nephew!  His cheeks are as soft as the pudding!




Delicious dessert to end an equally wonderful dinner and the secret ingredient is, Family Bonding!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Garden, My Sanctuary

It's been a while since I posted updates on my little garden of herbs and fruits.  Since it's a public holiday today with nothing much to do except laze around and find inner peace (it's Wesak Day today), decided to spend some time 'inspecting' my fruit trees ie. grapes, passionfruit, kaffir lime, terung assam.  To my delight, I discovered another bunch of grapes.  This bunch is the 9th bunch!  Oh, what joy! So, this is the sign to my prayer for inner peace in this stressful life! Work stress la, what else!!

So let me take you to a brief tour of my little garden but a bountiful one, nonetheless!

This is the 8th bunch which we discovered from 'flower to fruit' stage.


  

 After more than a month.

 Discovered this today- the 9th Bunch! Woohoo!!

Purple Orchids!


 You know what flower is this? Yep, none other than 'Misai Kuching'.  This is a type of herb which is known to help in regulate blood sugar.  All you need to do is just steep the leave (flower too can be used) in hot water as you would tea and drink it.  It's flavorless.
Below are some pictures of the 'Terung Assam'.  I only have one plant and the pictures are taken from each different branches that produce the fruits.  See how many fruits it has from one single plant!  Can't wait for it to ripen.  This fruit can be eaten raw by making it into 'sambal belacan terung assam' as an accompaniment or can be added to Assam Pedas dish.  Thinking of it makes me salivate..oohh laa laa!  I know my neighbour is eyeing the fruit!!


 This is the flower..
 




And now, my kaffir plant is full of fruits too except that to get the fruit to grow is a challenge.  It always falls off prematurely from the stem.  To protect it and hope it will remain on the stem, I had it covered with plastic bags to keep from the wind and rain.  Looks promising...again, different branches from a single plant.





And finally but not least, my water lily plant...

Until the next time, I'll patiently wait for more grapes to appear! What about my passionfruit?? I'm impatiently waiting for it to flower! when? when? when? hmmm....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Four Course Western Dinner

The same question will be asked on every weekend and that is, 'what you guys wanna eat for dinner tonite?' And the answer will always be, 'I don't know' or 'Anything la'.  That's the standard dialogue in most household that will leave the mothers some kind of a challenge on what to feed the family.  Since I have a whole bird in my freezer, my husband suggested for a roast chicken.  Ok! That's not difficult to decide, is it?  So I've decided  to do a full course western dinner!  So it got me planning the menu.  Of course, it has to be some kind of soup as a starter, followed by an appetizer, a main and dessert!  Now we are going somewhere! Haahaa..satisfied with my menu, then the marinating and cooking starts.  Here's the menu (inspired by Jamie Oliver's cookbook titled 'Jamie's Dinner', the mothers day present from my hubby and children-you can see it in my recent post):

Starter
(Recipe from JO)
The Ultimate Onion Soup

Appetizer 
(my very own recipe)
Baked Mozarella Eggplant

Main
(Recipe from JO)
Roast Chicken with Lemon and Thyme Roast Potatoes

Dessert
(Recipe from Kate Zuckerman 'The Sweet Life')
Roasted Honey Glazed Pear


 The Ultimate Onion Soup
5-6 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
Chicken stock (I used anchovies)
handful of thyme, leaves picked
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
olive oil
a good knob of butter
salt and pepper

In non-stick pan or a pot, slow fry the onion with the thyme and garlic with a good drizzle of olive oil and butter.
Slow cook for 15 mins stirring occasionally so the onions don't catch on the bottom. Then turn up the heat and color the onions until they are light golden. Add the stock and simmer for 20 mins. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with toasted garlic bread.

Baked Mozarella Egg Plant
2-3 eggplants, cut into thick slices
Grated Mozarella Cheese
Salt and Pepper

1. Heat a non-stick pan and drizzle some olive oil.  Rub salt and pepper on egg plant and shallow fry on both sides. Cook till egg plant is slightly soft.
2. Dish out and place on baking dish.  Sprinkle mozarella on the egg plants, drizzle olive oil and pepper.  Bake till the cheese starts to melt.  Serve it hot.


Roast Chicken with Lemon and Thyme Roast Potatoes
Marinate chicken with salt and pepper all over including the cavity, for 4 hours or more
Boil potatoes, 6 pips garlic and 1 lemon in salt water for 12 mins, drain.  While the lemon is hot, prick it all over.
Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.
 Put in the lemon and garlic in the chicken cavity and followed by a handful of thyme. Pour a generous amount of olive oil all over the chicken and bake for 45 mins.  Take the chicken out of the oven, and add in the potatoes.  Coat the potatoes with the juice from the chicken and continue to bake for another 45 mins or until the chicken is done.


Roasted Honey Glazed Pear


 6 pears peeled and cored from the bottom
1/2 lemon - juice and peel
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp butter

Arrange the pears in a baking tray and add in all the ingredients together.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180degree C for 30mins.  Lay the pears down on its sides and continue baking for another 30mins. Do the same for the other side and bake till it's soft and tender.  Serve with the caramel sauce from the pear and a dollop of whip cream or in this case, I serve it with vanilla ice-cream.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mothers Day!




It's Mothers Day today and we are missing our wonderful late mom, Nyonya Chwee, who left us two years ago to continue her karma with Lord Buddha. We know deep in our hearts that she's now happy and in peace, overlooking us for our well-being and with much love.

We love you mom, with all our hearts and you will forever be with us!


My hubby and wonderful loving children treated me to an early Mothers Day lunch yesterday at La Goumera, a spanish restaurant. Received lots of homemade cards from my children and plastic roses too! As you can see from the picture on the left, my 6 yrs old gave me her birthday card and wrote the word 'Mommy' inside and gave it to me. She even drew a picture of me complete with a crown too! The cards below are drawn by my children...it's a wonderful feeling that I can hardly describe to receive such thoughtful gifts. Of course, not forgetting, I get to choose recipe books from Book Xcess, present from my hubby and children! Of course, I chose none other than my all-time favorite chef, Jamie Oliver! It's a promo package inclusive of Meditarranean recipes on tapas.





The Cheeky Girls!

What lovey dovey son!

And loving hubby too!


And now a tribute to all mothers out there, here's a very healthy recipe of avocado dip to go with nachos, sandwhich or to serve it with grilled fish or chicken dish. It's so simple to make and you don't have to cook it.

Guacamole


2 avocados - mashed
1/2 lemon- for the juice
salt and pepper

Mixed all together and it's done!