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Monday, July 28, 2014

Caramel chip and walnut cupcake

Caramel chips and walnut is a clever combination.

I have put off baking for quite a while because everyone is on some kind of diet or other. But when I appeared at a social gathering recently with nothing but 2 boxes of diet-friendly strawberries, some of the folks were almost rummaging through the plastic bag looking for a hidden strawberry related baked food.

I looked sheepish after the second “ So, what did you bake today ?”

On the good side, I think my friends enjoyed my baking so some re-evaluation needs to be done. Luckily in this world of dieting folks, there are many who still wish to enjoy the good stuff.

I exercised moderation as shown in this tiniest of cupcakes. Each little snack always ends with the question, “Should I have another one since the last one did not amount to much”.

The caramel bits has echoes of my favorite biscoff lotus spread here and there. The small footprint of the tiny cupcake is inadequate to showcase the crunchy caramel bits  on the top ( should have taken this with the macro lens and make it into a cupcake specimen ) but trust me, together with the toasted walnut , it is one crunchy cupcake inside and out.

Sweet and crunchy in  a mouthful, what is not to like ?

Makes 18.

Ingredients :

A:
120g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
80g fine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

B:
150g plain flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

C:
120ml milk

D:
½ cup caramel chips
½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped


Method :

Preheat oven to 180C.

Cream butter, sugar until pale and light.
Whisk in vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time.
Beat until the mixture is fluffy.
Combine items in B.
Sift in half of dry ingredients ( B ) and whisk.
Add milk. Whisk again.
Repeat the last 2 steps until batter is well mixed.
Fold in ( D ) chips and nuts.

Spoon batter to cupliners until ½ - ¾ full.
Bake at 180C for 20 minutes.

Cake is ready when skewer comes out clean.
Cool well before storing.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Quinoa salad

Cheesy quinoa salad
For the longest time, I thought that the quinoa and couscous are similar, at least in the looks department. It was until recently that I finally decided to work with the seed that I realized that the old adage ‘ don’t judge a book by its cover’ is absolutely true.

Unlike the couscous pasta which is almost like a convenience food , cooking quinoa needs a little more work. For one, I do not rinse the couscous as I would with the quinoa. The quinoa also needs a much longer cooking time and after which it sprouts a chi-chi curly tail. 

The quinoa makes a satisfying meal without getting me all bloated up. Perhaps it has to do with the mild crunch, which makes me slow down so that I can enjoy every spoonful of it.

To make fluffy quinoa salad, keep the ratio of water to quinoa at 1.5:1. This ratio retains the seedy crunch without getting it to mushy.  It is like tofu and takes on the taste of its accompanying ingredients, so I pair it with at most 2 strong tasting ingredients to keep the taste simple. So far, it has either been roasted garlic and ham or sundried tomato and bacon. However, the cook is king and there is no reason to experiment with many other combinations for a killer recipe.

Ingredients :

1 cup quinoa.
1.5 cup of water
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp roasted garlic
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup diced smoked ham
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
handful of grated cheese

Method :

Place quinoa on a fine sieve and rinse using running water .
Add water, salt and oil.
Cook , uncovered, until it boils.
Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
Leave it to rest for another 15 minutes.
Add chopped ingredients of your choice and stir in, using a fork or chopstick.
Serve warm.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kai Lan wrapped in sliced beef



I caught this dish from the culinary inspiring Korean show called ‘ King of Food’. This show is timely because I have lately been so uninspired in the kitchen. The dish takes a bit of work but the effort is all worth it. If all things fail, it is at least elegant looking and makes an impression when guests come over.

Ingredients :
10 slivers of beef
10 stalks of mustard green with flowers or kale with flowers

Method :
To prepare the meat, line up beef and drizzle with thin layer of bulgolgi marinade or any of your favorite seasoning.
Chill meat while preparing the kale.
Use a vegetable peeler and shave off the tough, fibrous part of the kale.
Blanch in boiling, salted water ,  thickest part for 1 minute followed by the leaves, 10 seconds.
Drip dry and leave to cool.
Wrap the beef over the stalk of the kale.
In a hot pan, heat olive oil.
Sear the wrapped vegetable.
Pour in one cup of broth over the vegetables.
Cover and leave to cook, 1 minute.
Serve immediately. Garnish with sesame seeds and oil if desired.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Chewy Tang Yuan ( rice balls )



I can never say I know it all because there is always something to learn even if it is something I have done all my life.

I thought I knew all about making tang yuan until I stumbled upon this.  It uses the same glutinous rice flour all right but the secret is in the temperature of the water used.

It seems that partially cooking the flour and then kneading the daylight out of it gives new life to the same old glutinous rice ball. Thereafter, boil it in a pot of pandan scented pot of boiling water until it floats. Give it another 2 minutes for its center to cook before serving it with your favorite red bean soup for a down-Chinatown-memory-lane snack.

Freeze excess already rolled balls. To cook, do not thaw. Simply put it in boiling water  as you would for the fresh ones but allow for another minute or two ( depending on size ) so that the center is thoroughly cooked.

Makes 30 small balls.

Adapted from here.

Ingredients :

A: 50g glutionous rice flour, ½  cup hot water
B: 50g glutinous rice flour, ¼ cup tap water
1 drop of coloring ( optional )

In a mixing bowl, add hot water to 50g of flour to cook the flour.

Stir with a fork to form a shaggy mass.

Add the remaining 50g flour.

Knead the flour into the cooked flour. Drizzle the reserved tap water by the spoonful and knead  the dough until it is no longer sticky, about 5-10 minutes. Depending on humidity, you may need ¼ cup of water or less.

Add coloring if required.

Knead for 5 more minutes. Roll out into a rope.

Pinch enough dough to roll out marble sized balls.

Cook the balls in boiling water, flavored with pandan leaves. I cooked them in an already boiling vat of red bean soup, 3-5 minutes.


Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sandwich in a waffle ( ham and cheese )

More than one dish meal. It's a one waffle meal. 

I wanted to make ham sandwiches but except for the ham, there was nothing in the fridge that would make a sandwich. But because of my girl’s ingenuity, we ended up with ham and cheese waffle sandwich instead.  

With the success of this waffle sandwich, there is no stopping what else we intend to put inside the waffle next.

Recipe : Hope C

Makes 12 medium waffle sandwiches

Ingredients :

Bowl A : Mix these items -
2 cups plain flour    
½ cup of toasted soy okara ( omit if not available )
2 tsp baking powder
2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Bowl B : Mix these items -
2 eggs
1 ½  cup low fat milk
½  cup olive oil

Misc :
3 pieces of smoked ham, quartered

Method :
Heat up the waffle iron. Lightly oil cooking surface.
Add contents of bowl A to bowl B.
Stir to mix. Add cheese. Stir again.

Divide batter to 12 portions.
Ladle 1 portion to each side of the waffle iron. If your waffle surface is small, subdivide the portion.
Place a slice of ham on the batter.
Close the iron gently and cook according to iron instructions.

Eat waffle fresh and be relieved that for the first time, the contents of the sandwich does not slip out of the bread with each bite.