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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Milk Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Can't decide what to bake this weekend.  Was thinking of making apple pie since I've got apples and frozen pastry puffs.  Then, thought about making good old butter cake.  Then, thought of muffins with chocolate chunks in it.  And the muffins won!  I love to make muffins or cupcakes that you can't buy right off from a bakery.  I love the ones that are more complicated which gives you a wonderful surprise as you take your first bite and discover the wonderful filling in it.

This muffin has chunks of milk chocolate in it, just like it's name.  At my daughter's special request, I add on marshmallow on top.  That gives the muffin a special twist especially if eat it warm, the lightly burnt marshmallow gives a crunchy top.  Fantastico!

 See the slightly burnt marshmallow!

The hidden treasure - chunky milk chocolate ... oo laa laa..

All you need to make these wonderful surprises is....

400g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
170g muscovado sugar
100g butter
185g milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
(Makes 11 large muffins)

Filling:  150g milk chocolate, rough chopped
Topping:  small marsmallows or big marshmallows cut into 2

1. Preheat oven to 180dC, prepare muffin tray with paper liners.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix together.
3. Melt the butter in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, beat together the milk, eggs and vanilla with a fork.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently fold together with a large metal spoon until just moistened.
5. Gently fold in the milk chocolate chunk and spoon batter into the paper liners.   Put one or two marshmallows firmly on top of the batter. Bake for 20 mins or until muffins are done.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Udang Lemak Nenas (Prawns with Pineapples in Coconut Milk)

This is a typical dish served in most Peranakan homes during the Chinese New Year or any big gathering and celebrations.  Prawns symbolize happiness and good fortune and pineapples is called 'wong lai' in Chinese which means luck had arrived.  Hence, this dish is prepared during celebrations.  Not only does it 'brings' fortune, happiness and good luck, it tastes absolutely yummy but in my home, my family cook this whenever we want.   We are not going to wait till there's a reason to celebrate to eat this.  Nuh-uh..

The pineapple adds sourness and sweetness to the dish and it's so appetizing to the palate. If you don't like prawns, you can use homemade fish balls or with salted fish.

 Like this?
Here's how to cook it....

2 inch Galangal
2 inch Tumeric
10 shallots
5 Lemongrass - use only the white part
Handful of dried chilies
5 Candlenuts
1 inch square shrimp paste

Blend all ingredients to a paste.

300-500 gm medium to large size prawns, trimmed but with skin intact.
1 pineapple - skinned, de-eyes and cut into bite sizes
200 ml thick coconut milk
200 ml light coconut milk
kaffir leaves
salt to taste

- Heat oil in a deep pot, fry the paste till fragrant and oil separates.
- Add thin coconut milk and thick coconut milk and add in the pineapples.
- Simmer until the pineapples are soft.  Add salt to taste.
- Finally add in the prawns.  When prawns turn pink, take off heat.

Serve with hot fluffy white rice.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Strawberry and Mascarpone Cream Tart

This is my first tart.  Although I can do with more practice in making the pastry, but this'll do.  Family love it.  Mascarpone was out of stock so I substituted with cream cheese instead.  That is why I love baking.  If you don't have the ingredient that the recipe calls for, you can always use a similar substitute.  No hard rule about it.  Just be bold and try it out.  If it doesn't turn out well, then you know that you've used the wrong substitute and try again.  Having said this, do please take note that some recipes do not compromise with ingredient replacements.  So, read the recipes first and use your own good judgement.

The crust is called Rich Tart Pastry or also known as pate sucree.  It's very tender and similar to cookie dough.  You can prepare by making the crust a day ahead and keep it in the fridge.

Rich Tart Pastry
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp heavy cream

1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse 1 - 2times to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse 7-8 times until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas.
2. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks with a fork then stir in the cream until blended.
3. With motor running, add the egg mixture and process just until the dough begins to come together but does not form a ball.
4. On a work surface, shape the dough into 6 in disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 45 mins or for up to overnight.
5. When dough is ready, remove from refrigerator and if dough is too cold and hard to roll out, let stand at room temperature for 10-20 mins. Lightly dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour.
6. Roll dough into 13 inches in diameter and 5 mm thickness.  Use firm and steady pressure and work quickly to prevent dough from becoming warm.
7. Lift and turn the dough several times as you roll to prevent sticking and dust the surface and rolling pin with additional flour as needed.  If pastry round sticks, use a bench scraper or an icing spatula to loosen it.
8. Carefully roll the dough around the pin and position the pin over a tart pan with a removable bottom.  Unroll the dough and center it in the tart pan.
9. Roll the overhanging dough back over itself and press it into the sides of the pan, creating a double thickness to reinforce the sides of the tart crust.  Freeze the crust until it is firm, about 30 mins.

 Blind bake the crust
1. Pre-heat oven to 200dC, line the frozen tart crust with large piece of aluminium foil.
2. Fill the foil lined crust with dried beans, uncooked rice or ceramic or metal pie weights.
3. Bake until it dries out about 15 mins. Once crust dries out (when the foil no longer sticks to it), remove the foil carefully and reduce heat to 180dC. Bake until the crust is lightly browned on the edges, about 5 mins longer.  Transfer to wire rack until completely cool.
4. To unmold, place the pan on a large can or inverted bowl and carefully slide the outer ring down.  Using a spatula, carefully loosen the tart from the bottom of the tart pan and slide it into a serving platter.

Strawberry and Mascarpone Cream Filling
1 cup cold mascorpone cheese (I substituted with cream cheese)
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp strawberry jam (warm the jam in a saucepan, remove from heat and coat the strawberries with the jam)
Fresh Strawberries

1. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer or stand mixer, combine the mascarpone cheese, cream, icing sugar and vanilla. Beat until firm peaks form about 2 mins. Using an icing spatula, spread the filling evenly in the cooled crust.
2. Carefully arrange the jam coated strawberries on top of the filling.  Cover and refrigerate until cold, serve cold.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Loh Chi Sau (Braised Pork Trotters)

Today, I'm gonna share with you this melt-in-the-mouth braised pork trotters.  My family love this dish.  This is one of those dishes where it taste even better overnight.  The flavors seeped into the meat and the sauce will thicken up as the pork fat acts as a natural gelatin ..ooh just wonderful with hot steaming rice.

1 or 2 trotters cut into big pieces (Blanced with hot water as this will discard the strong odor of the pork. Strain and set aside)
2 pieces of 2 inches galangal - skinned and crushed lightly
A few pieces of Star Anise
2 tsp of cloves
2 tbsp of peppercorns - lightly crushed
2 bowls of water (you may need to more water until the pork is tender soft)
Chinese wine
Dark Soya Sauce
Light Soya Sauce
1-2 tbsp sugar (optional)

1. Heat a little oil in a pot.  Fry the star anise, cloves and galangal for a few minutes. Add the pork and fry for 1-2 mins.  Add the pepper.
2. Add the water, dark and light soya sauce and Chinese wine to taste.  If you'd like you can add a little sugar.
3. Simmer until the pork is tender.  May take an hour.

This dish is best cook in a claypot for enhanced flavor in the cooking.