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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chicken & Spinach Curry

 Curries! Curries! I love curries.  This Chicken & Spinach Curry is very different from most curries that I've eaten.  This is very light and none of the thick and creamy broth.  This is so refreshing for a change and taste great.  The spinach is tender melting soft and the chicken is soaked with the wonderful flavor of the cumin, ginger, tumeric and mildly infused with cardamon.  If you are looking for something spicy and hot, you might be disappointed.  This curry is not spicy in any bit unless you add bird eye chillies for the extra kick.

1 tbsp sunflower oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthways (I used 3 chicken thighs, cut into bite sizes)
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
4 cardamon pods, lightly chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground tumeric
250g baby leaf spinach
300 g tomatoes, chopped (I was out of fresh tomatoes, so substitute it with whole canned tomatoes)
150g natural yogurt
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick saucepan or frying pan. Add the chicken, onion, garlic and chilli and fry for 4-5 mins until the chicken begins to brown and the onion to soften.
2. Add the cardamon pods, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, ginger and tumeric and continue to fry for 1 min.
3. Add the spinach to the pan, cover and ook gently until the spinach wilts, then stir in the tomatoes adn simmer for 15 mins, removing the lid for the last 5 mins.
4. Stir in the yogurt and chopped coriander.  Season with salt.

Serve with basmati rice or white fluffy rice.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Have I told you that I love to make cakes with vegetable oil rather than butter?  I find that the oil makes the cake lighter and very very moist.  I like it even better if it has yogurt or sour cream or buttermilk.  Fantastic ingredient there.  For this recipe, again, it's actually a sandwich red velvet cake but I convert it into cupcakes. This recipe is taken from my newly favorite book called 'Piece of Cake'. It is what it says it is..a piece of cake.  You don't need all the hassle of creaming the fat with sugar or beating the eggs separately.  You just dump everything in a big mixing bowl and beat it up with the mixer.  I'm quite lazy, so I just use a wooden spoon and mix all fine..actually works really fine!

Texture of this cake? It's soft to the point that it's quite springy and very moist.  Not too sweet either.

Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting
(yields 23 cupcakes)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup red fool coloring (i used 2 tbsp)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp white vinegar

Mix all ingredients together and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed and beat for 1 min.
Bake at preheated oven at 180d C for 20-30 mins or until done.

Cream Cheese Frosting (i made lemon cream cheese frosting)
makes 3 cups (750 ml)

2 1/2 cups icing sugar
500g cream cheese, softened
125g butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract (for lemon version, omit vanilla and replace with 2 tsp lemon zest and 3 tbsp lemon juice)

Mix all together and beat with an electric mixer till combine. Spoon frosting into piping bag with rosettes nozzle, pipe a swirl on cupcakes.  This recipe definitely is a keeper! I have a feeling that there'll be a request to make this again.
My neighbour as usual, is very happy to receive some and a few of my colleagues will be happy as well when I bring this over to the office tomorrow...:D

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pineapple Lime Cupcakes


It's MOTHER'S DAY today!  Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there!  May you be blessed with wonderful health and be safe!

This recipe is actually for a bundt cake but decided to make into cupcakes. It yields 24 cupcakes.  If you like pineapple with a tinge of spices and lime in your cake, you will like this.  The texture is very moist and  soft.  It has a tinge of gingery taste.  The lime is not too overpowering and if you ask me, I'd add another tablespoon of the zest ..I love it.

 3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 can (8oz/227ml) crushed pineapple, with juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp finely grated lime zest

1. In large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together.
2. Add eggs, crushed pineapple with juice, butter, oil and zest to flour mixture. Using an electric mixer (I was lazy, so I just used the balloon whisk), on medium speed, beat for 1 min until blended.
3. Fill cupcakes cases 3/4 full and bake in preheated oven at 180d C for 30 mins or until done.

If you decide to make this into bundt cake, spread batter in bundt pan (make sure you grease the pan first and coat with flour) and bake for 65 mins or until done.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cream Puffs

Made these cream puffs a couple of days ago.  Was thinking what to make for dessert and hubby says 'cream puffs?'.  So, thanks to youtube again, got some useful tips on how to make a really puffy puffs.  On top of that, thanks to my pastry cookbook (a gift from my sis), Michel Roux, the ultimate ultimate pastry chef, my first cream puffs were a success! Except for the cream  :( ...I've made a mistake when making the cream. Instead of using whipping cream, I didn't realized that I used heavy cream. No wonder it didn't get to the stiff peak consistency.  So, gave it up and went out to buy the canned whipping cream.  Anyhow, anyway, hubby and children loved it.

And you know what? This is soooo easy to make. The pastry for the puffs is called Choux Pastry..really a wonderful pastry.

So here's my cream puffs.

Choux Pastry: (makes 40-50 little choux buns)
125 ml milk
125 ml water
100g butter, diced
 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
150g plain flour
4 eggs
eggwash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk)

1. Combine the milk, water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and set over a low heat. Bring to the boil and immediately take the pan off the heat. Shower in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.
2. Return the pan to a medium heat and stir continuously for about 1 min to dry out the paste, then tip it into a bowl.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating with the wooden spoon. (batter will get lumpy and wet).
4. Once the eggs are all incorporated, the paste should be smooth and shiny with a thick ribbon consistency. It is now ready to use.
5. Put the pastry in a piping bag with a round nozzle, pipe into a round spiral and flatten the tip.  (I was lazy so I just dropped tablespoonfuls onto tray lined with parchment paper. They size that I made, it yields 20 puffs).
6. Brush the egg wash on each of them.
7. Bake in pre-heated oven at 200d C for first 15 mins as this will get the pastry puff up.  Turn down the heat to 180d C and bake for another 30-40 min or until the top is brown and crusty.  This is the tip that I got from  And the result?  It works!
8. Slice the puffs in halves (horizontally).  Fill the bottom half with whipping cream and cover the top with the other half, sprinkle icing sugar on it.  Serve immediately.

Whipping cream:  1 1/2 cup of whipping cream, 2 tbsp milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.  Mix all together and beat on high until you get stiff peaks consistency.  Put it in a piping bag with a rose nozzle and pipe in the rosettes.

However, when the puffs are done, it will have a crusty top but as it cooled down, it will soften.

This is just lovely..try it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tipsy Pound Cake

What comes to mind when you see the title of this cake? Happy days and a little tipsy?  Right on!
This recipe calls for 1 full cup of good brandy or rum or whiskey or any liqueur of your choice. Since I have this bottle of whiskey, god knows how long its been sitting in my cupboard, I decided to use it.  It's a good bottle of whiskey (I think!) family don't drink alcohol.  We usually use it in cooking or baking and even that is hardly ever.  So, I really can't tell the difference if you give me a bottle of cheap liqueur or an expensive one but I have a feeling that this whiskey, is decently a good one.  Hmm..I've forgotten how this bottle of whiskey landed in my cupboard...!  and the VSOP, Contreau, Red Label, Charleston Follies (don't even know what this is), Hennesey and Rum (from my sister), that's a whole lot of liqueur for non-drinkers!

I followed the recipe and put in 1 full cup and I tell you, you can smell and taste the whiskey in full force! Especially to non-drinkers, we are more sensitive towards it.  Pay attention to the time stated in the recipe when baking this cake.  I didn't. And the result? Under baked in the center.  When the cake turned golden, I had a skewer in to test the doneness and I thought it's done after 40 mins cos the skewer came out clean. Don't be fooled.  When I cut a slice, the center is still moist.  I gave a slice to my hubby and the moment he took a bite, he can taste the strong bittersweet of the whiskey and almost immediately he felt a little tipsy!  You can see in the picture below that the center is a little wet. So in the oven it went again and baked for another 40 mins.

See the difference after it's fully baked.  From this picture, it may seem to be dry to you but it's totally the opposite. The cake is very dense and heavy but extremely moist.  I like the texture and it's full of flavor.  The butter and the liqueur blends well and the aroma of the whiskey is just heavenly.  This cake can be kept up to a week at room temperature and if wrap in plastic and foil, can freeze up to 6 months.

I like this cake but the next time I bake this, I'll reduce the liqueur to 1/4 cup!  My sisters came over the day I baked this and when they tasted it, they asked me how much of whiskey I put in. They were shocked at the quantity and said "so much! what a waste for a good bottle of whiskey" that I'm gonna drink it straight but I do agree with them. 

Tipsy Pound Cake:

3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar (I used 2 cups as I think 3 cups is too sweet. Remember the liqueur that you use is sweetened as well)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 salt
6 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup liqueur or alcoholic spirit such as rum, Irish cream liqueur, whiskey, limoncello or brandy (I used whiskey and instead of 1 cup, I will use 1/4 cup when I next do this as I think 1 cup is a bit too strong for me)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
2. Add eggs, butter, liqueur and shortening to flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat for 1 minute until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula, beat on high speed for 2 mins.
3. spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours (about 1 hour and 40 mins in a light colored pan) or until done.  Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 mins then invert cake onto rack to cool.

You can drizzle the cake with drippy icing of your choice but I think on its own is good enough.
Bottoms Up!