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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Squid Ink Pasta

There is a new supermarket in town. At Turf City where Giant Hypermart used to be, it is now taken over by Hao. Sounds Chinese? But the 'world food' is anything but Chinese. Some brands are foreign and I had fun going over all the products. I had to be held back from carting more squid ink pasta than I can stomach.

The wine sauce tastes great with the complex seafood and bacon flavor. In fact this is a sure-win kitchen sink pasta that anyone can do. The secret is to caramelise the garlic and deglaze the pan with wine.

What a way to start the week!

For 2

Butter (20g) + Olive oil (generous amount)
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 shallot, sliced
1 handful of smoked bacon, diced
1 tub of mini brown inoki mushrooms
prawns, octopus, mussels (1/2 cup each)
5 mini peppers, diced
1 handful of cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup Shiraz to deglaze
Chopped fresh red chillies (garnish)

Cook pasta according to instructions.
While pasta is cooking, heat butter and olive oil.
Saute garlic, shallots and bacon until garlic is caramelised.
Add inoki. Saute.
Add seafood. Toss until seafood is just cooked.
In the same pot, add a dash of olive oil.
Sear peppers.
Toss in tomatoes. Immediately at wine to deglaze.
Remove the pan from the stove.
Add the reserved cooked ingredients.
Add the pasta.
Toss to coat evenly.
Serve pasta.
Garnish with chillies.

Revved up cornflake cookies

This is a revved up version of the recipe 7 years ago. I am into my 3rd batch because friends gave the triple thumbs up for the nibbles.

This cookie is all I did this season. Hopefully this final batch will mean that hubby can figure out for himself why the folks love it so much.

Makes about 60 bitesized cookies.

Ingredients :

120g unsalted butter, room temperature

50g castor sugar + generous pinch of sea salt flakes
2 egg yolks
135g cake flour + 30g corn flour
100g plain corn flakes ( I used Kelloggs )

Method :
Mill the sugar and salt if possible. Set aside.
Cream butter until it turns pale and fluffy.
Whisk in powdered salt and sugar mixture.
Add egg yolks, one at a time. Whisk until fluffy at low speed (so as not to deflate the batter).

In a separate bowl, combine flours.
Sieve over the butter mixture.
Mix in the flour  until just combined.
Add cornflakes. Fold or give it a quick stir until combined. Take care not to break up the cornflakes too much.
The batter will appear thick and clumpy.

In a lined pan, spoon and drop the batter on the tray using a teaspoon.
Do not press the dropped cookies.
The cookies do not expand much so it is safe to drop the batter close to each other.

Preheat oven to 160C.
When cookies are ready for baking, reduce the temperature to 140C.
Bake the cookies at 140C for 22-23 minutes or until golden brown.
Cookies are soft when hot but will turn addictively crispy when cooled.
Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Laksa Cookies

It's that time of the year again, the time to take out the whisk and baking things that has been languishing in the cupboard the past 11 months. Dazzle your friends with this recipe which is a little out of the norm where CNY cookies are concerned.

Way before savory, spicy and sweet cookies were popular, my kid suggested a cookie like this, a laksa-in-a-cookie. Brilliant idea, just that I only waited until now to try this out.

Verdict: hits all the right notes. If there is a word to describe this cookie, it would be 'umami'. If garnishing little leaves on cookies is not your cup of tea, just minced moderate amount of the leaves and incorporate them into the flour before mixing.

Makes 36-40

Credits: Makansutra with modifications

70g unsalted butter, room temperature and softened
50g castor sugar (+1 Tbsp optional)
50g canola oil
3 Tbsp laksa paste
200g cake flour
1 Tbsp prawn floss
2 laksa leaves, minced

garnish:laksa leaves, stem trimmed

Preheat oven to 170C.
Lined the baking tray.
Cream butter and sugar.
Add oil. whisk.
Ask laksa paste. Whisk to combine.
Fold in flour, floss and leaves until well combined.

Spoon out 1 tsp of dough.
Press in prepared cut leaf with a knife blade.
Flatten slightly.

Bake in the preheated oven at 170C for 17 min. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Baked Brie

This is one of the prettiest and  simplest appetiser to make. It takes only 5 minutes to assemble excluding baking time. Pop it into a preheated oven (180C) for 10 mins and it is ready to be enjoyed.

Serving : 10 small bites

Handful of chopped walnuts and cranberries tossed in marmalade
Brie at room temperature
Sprinkling of coconut flakes (optional)
Pinch of Maldon Sea Flakes

Lightly grease the base of a small pan.
Place the Brie on it, rind and all. It must be at room temperature.
Spread a thin layer of marmalade on the brie.
Garnish the brie with the walnut and cranberry mix.
Sprinkle sea flakes over the topping.
Do the same for the coconut flakes.
Bake at 180C for 10 minutes.
Poke it a bit to feel the brie becoming soft and ozzy. If not, bake for another 5 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Toasted Walnut

This is a scalable recipe. Adhere to the recommended baking time but increase the nuts,oil and seasoning accordingly. Best enjoyed in small batches.

At 160C, the sugar doesn't properly caramelise. To make walnut clusters, bake at a higher temperature (180C) but for a shorter time. Baking time varies according to the starting temperature of the nuts.

Tip: Walnuts go rancid fast so store them in  the chiller until they are ready to be baked.

130g walnut 
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp caster sugar
1 pinch of crushed sea salt

  1. Coat the nuts with the oil.
  2. Add sugar and salt. Toss to coat.
  3. Transfer the nuts to a lined tray.
  4. Baked in a cold oven at 160C. If your nuts are just out from the fridge, bake for 20 minutes. If the nuts are at room temperature to start with, bake for 18 minutes and increase the time by 2 minutes until the walnuts are to your desired crunchiness.
  5. When done, leave the nuts in the oven with the door ajar.
  6. Store only when cool.


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Quiche (bacon onion cheese)

For lovers of flaky pastry

This recipe took me a good half of the afternoon and gave me lots of washing to do. But after the first mouthful, I knew I had to keep this recipe for an encore bake. There is no running away from the unhealthy things a quiche calls for. At least I used a flour with 25% wholemeal flour. Hopefully my doctor will be pleased with my sincerity.

Credits: KAF (with slight modifications) 

Prepare a 7 inch pan with removable base. A perforated pan is ideal.

Quiche pastry:
90g plain+25% wholemeal flour (Prima)
½ tsp sea salt
120g unsalted butter (chunks)
3 tbsp cold water

Method (Pastry base):
Combine all the above ingredients except water.
Pinch/rub butter into the flour.
Add water. Knead contents until just combined.
Transfer to a sealed bag/container.
Chill for at least 30 minutes. This is crucial for water absorption and suppleness of dough.

Preheat oven to 190C.
Prepare a 7 inch pan with removable base. I use one with perforations.
Roll out the dough to a flat disc on a lightly floured worktop, 9 inch in diameter.
Transfer the dough to the pan, with a slight overhang if you wish.
Use a fork and make holes on the pastry base.
Freeze the pastry for at least 10-15 minutes.
Bake the cold pastry in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Remove to cool thoroughly.

While waiting for the baked pastry to cool, proceed to prepare the filling.

Ingredients (Filling):
150g of lean bacon, chopped.
1 medium sized yellow onion, coarsely chopped
20g butter
60g heavy cream (I used whipping cream)
30g milk
3 eggs
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of maldon or sea salt
60g cheese, coarsely chopped (I used smoked cheddar)

Method (filling):
Pan fry the bacon and onion with butter until bacon is cooked and no moisture is left.
Reserve to cool.
Combine cream, milk, egg,  pepper, salt. Whisk.
Add cheese and cooled bacon mixture.
Reserve. Chill.

Method (final assembly):
Preheat the oven to 190C.
When the oven is ready, ladle the filling into the pie base.
Baked at 190C for 40 minutes.
I like it well cooked. For jiggly center lovers, bake at 190C for 35 minutes.

The onion gives the umami taste like no other. This recipe is  a keeper.