Sunday, May 31, 2009

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Can I tell you about what may possibly be the best muffin I have ever made? The husband said it first - and I gave him a look of disdain.  

Was he saying that my baked goods have not been yummy?

Secretly though, I think he may just be right.  I haven't made anything that the husband would eat up within a day of it being made.  For this batch of muffins, I was lucky to even be able to get photos.  Maybe the problem was that there were only 6 to be shared between the both of us (I halved the recipe you see).  But even then, 6 between the two of us can be classified as indulgence if you think about the butter, sugar and chocolate that went into the batter.

Anyway, I am so very pleased with this recipe that I would give it a 5-star!  I am planning to go and grab some more bananas to ripen so that I can make another batch this weekend.  It's really that yummy!  

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins.
Adapted from Baked - New Frontiers in Baking

Makes 6 muffins

3/4 cups mashed very ripe bananas (abt 1 1/2 Del Montes)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/8 cup whole milk
1/2 egg (or 30g of an egg that has been beaten)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (3 oz) semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 170C, and prepare muffin pans.

In a medium bowl, stir banana, sugars, butter, milk and egg.  Set aside.

in another medium bowl, whisk flours, espresso powder, baking soda and salt.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill the muffin pans 3/4 full and bake in centre of oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Domo-kun Cake


We had a belated mum's day celebration on Sunday.

And I brought a Domo-kun cake. What's a Domo-kun, you say?

According to Wikipedia, he is a strange creature that hatched from an egg. His favorite food is Japanese-style meat and potato stew and he has a strong dislike for apples, because of an unexplained mystery in his DNA. Domo-kun is known to pass gas repeatedly when nervous or upset.

Not very glamorous right?

And it really probably wasn't very smart of me to bring a Domo-kun cake. The aunties all had a good laugh over the "monster-mum-in-law" cake. I actually guessed that would happen but I really wanted to make the cake after reading A Table For Two here!

On the plus side, my mum-in-law (I think she may be my biggest fan!) thinks my cake was very yummy! That's not too bad at all, considering that I basically used the chocolate cake recipe from the back of a box of Hershey's cocoa powder (it's my fave choc cake recipe!)

P.S. For the record, my mum-in-law is THE BESTEST mum-in-law in the world!

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake
Adapted from the back of a Hershey's Chocolate Box

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup veg oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 180C. Grease and flour 2 8-inch square baking pans.

Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water and pour into pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a cake rack.

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup dark chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

Melt in bowl over simmering water on low heat. Cool before using.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

There are two things about me that salespeople really shouldn't know of. First, I am easy to persuade. I mean, REALLY easy. And I fall for every trick in the book - hook, line and sinker. Second, I like buying things. The thrill of swiping my card and the awesome presence of a one-hour old belonging in my house really makes buying things tops in my list of favourite things to do.

So, it was really no surprise to my husband when, after a cooking class at Shermay's a year back, I carted home a box containing a pizza machine.

What's that you ask?

Well, it's a super duper pizza machine, one that is guaranteed to churn out freshly baked hot pizzas in 5 minutes! It's perfect not just for a quick dinner for two at home, it's also perfect for a dinner party. Just lay out the ingredients, and let your guests do the work!

(By the way, an oven works equally well but don't tell my husband that)

Anyway, in order for this little red pizza maker not to turn into a white elephant, I have been making and baking pizzas from scratch using a recipe from Shermay. So that was great!

Problem was, I was getting more and more dissatisfied with my creature of habit of a husband who when asked, will without fail request for a ham and mushroom pizza. I think I've made ten pizzas using my little red, and I think all ten are ham and mushroom pizzas.

So, in an effort to persuade the creature of habit of a husband that there are other things in life that are just as yummy as a ham and mushroom pizza, I flipped to my Women's Weekly Book of Modern Classics, plag 56 and pointed.

And said -

Look, I have to try ALL recipes in ALL my books before I can buy a new cookbook. I have no choice. We HAVE to put olives and anchovies in our pizza tonight.

And implied -

If you want to make me happy, eat some olives! (I knew the husband really doesn't like olives but I thought I could persuade him to acquire the taste for olives, the same way I acquired mine...)

Verdict? Creature-of-habit-husband really doesn't like olives. He doesn't like basil leaves. And he doesn't like anchovies. Back to ham and mushroom then.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chocolate Mud Cupcake


Ok, here's a confession.

Wiggly, the reason why you didn't get birthday cupcakes from me is this:

They all SANK. Oh the shame.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Scrambled Eggs

I decided today that we should air the house. That means all the aircons are off and the windows are open. It's getting really warm but I like being able to hear sounds from the outside world - that means the leaves rustling as the wind blows, the water gushing at the fountain near the koi pond, and the neighbour's windchimes.

I made us brunch today. I think it's probably the first time I cooked a proper breakfast at home. We've had breakfast at home before, but as far as I can remember, we've only had cereal and toast - never something quite so greasy! I also thought that today would be good opportunity for me to try the scrambled egg recipe in my Delia Smith cookbook. I never realised until today how many different variations of recipes for scrambled eggs there are (I have four different recipes in my collection which was surprising to me because I didn't even think that scrambled eggs deserve recipes in the first place! It's almost like a recipe for boiling water!)

Anyway, I have always made scrambled eggs by gut feel - crack, beat, add salt and pepper to taste, cook, stir vigorously, serve.

What I didn't know was that there are rules to this. Like how the heat should be not too high and how the eggs should be removed from the heat when 3/4 of the egg is a creamy, solid mass and a quarter of it still liquid. Or what a great big difference butter makes (the more the yummier apparently).

Scrambed Eggs for Two
Adapted from How to Cook by Delia Smith
4 large eggs
20g butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crack and beat eggs in bowl. Add salt and pepper. James Peterson advocates adding a tablespoon of milk or heavy cream for each egg before beating. While my eggs are lovely this time around, I will try milk/cream next time - just to see if there are any real difference. Swirl half the butter in small saucepan over medium heat, until the bottom and the sides are covered. When the butter is just beginning to foam, pour in the beaten eggs and stir briskly using backwards and forwards movements all through the liquid eggs until 3/4 of the egg is a creamy, solid mass, and the remainder liquid. Remove pan from heat, add the rest of the butter and continue scrambling. As soon as there is no liquid egg left, remove from pan and serve immediately.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pork Bone Soup

So here I am, sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon, feeling all lethargic and lazy. I had a church wedding to attend this morning but I think we woke up just a couple of minutes before the bride was due to walk down the aisle. Can I say eeeks? I am now beating myself up with guilt. Really. I know I am terrible and that it's terribly insincere. But I woke up feeling like I needed to stay in my ratty old t-shirt and shorts and sit around the house and do absolutely nothing the whole day. I wasn't fancying a battle with the hair and putting warpaint on the face, or stressing over what to wear what to wear (the bride specified "late 19th century colours"). Sigh.

I think I will also give Muay Thai a miss this week. I don't think I can deal with a pair of smelly sweaty gloves today.

And even cooking - something that will normally get me up and going - failed to energise me today. I opted for an easy way out - we called in McDonalds for lunch.

Last week though, was a different story altogether. I made really good progress with my cookbooks.

Because I have to cook everything in my cookbooks, not just dishes that catch my eye, I am trying new things - things I wouldn't ever try if I had the choice, and in process, enjoying new flavours that are coming out from my kitchen. Like this pork bone soup. Normally, my thought process in relation to such a dish would be dude, it's just soup. With pork ribs. My mum makes pork ribs soup all the time. Who needs a recipe for pork ribs soup?

Except that my mum doesn't make soup with taucheo (salted soy beans), and what an interesting soup it was. I'd say it's more a pork-dish-with-lots-of-gravy rather than a soup - seeing how the broth is so rich and thick. It's comfort food at its very best and I'd definitely try this very easy dish again.

Pork Bone Soup

"A soup of pork and potatoes seasoned with garlic, salted soy beans and ginger" ~ Shermay Lee
Adapted from the New Mrs Lee's Cookbook Vol. 2
Serves 2
300g pork ribs (I added about 500g worth of pork bones to make the soup richer)
2 po
tatoes, cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp salted soy beans
3 tbsp oil
6 slices ginger
800 ml water
salt, to taste
a dash of dark soy sauce

Fry garlic and ginger in oil until light golden brown. Add the salted soy beans and pork. Stir-fry for one minute. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, and add potatos. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Add salt and soy sauce to taste.

Serve with rice.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bow-tie pasta with fried eggs and cheese

I love this dish for its simplicity.
When I first moved into my new home, I had two cookbooks to my name and I loved them to bits. That was just over a year ago. Now, I have maybe about 40 cookbooks sitting smugly on my shelves. My acquisitions have been quite deliberate. I generally only buy cookbooks that came recommended on reputable food blogs, and even then I'd pore over the reviews on Amazon before clicking the buy button.
I've never been drawn to this book - somehow it fell through the cracks. None of the bloggers I read mention this book. For me, the internet silence was deafening. I wasn't sure whether this book was worth it. I took the plunge though when a colleague of mine, a very good cook, had high praises of Jacques, and in fact attributed his good cooking skills to Jacques. Wow, that was inspiring, I thought and so I clicked buy.

Unfortunately, when the book arrived, I felt rather disappointed and uninspired. You see, the basic principle of the book is that food needn't be complicated. It can be fast, uncomplicated and still taste really good. I wasn't convinced. So the book sat on my shelves for the longest time.

I don't know why but I felt compelled to pick up the book recently. Immediately, I was captivated by the photo of an egg with a runny centre on top of a pile of pasta.

And so, the bow-tie pasta with fried eggs and cheese came into the picture. I really love the simplicity of this dish. It was very easy to prepare, and my trip to the supermarket was only for one ingredient, cheese. If I were to do this again, I'd do two eggs as recommended by Jacques Pepin. Two eggs would be just right.

Bow-tie Pasta with fried eggs and cheese
Adapted from Fast Food My Way, Jacques Pepin

Serves 2

Because of the simplicity of the dish, use the best possible olive oil, salt, pepper and Gruyere cheese.

6 oz bow-tie pasta
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced fresh chives (I used spring onions, since I had that sitting in my fridge)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp unsalted butter (I used cooking oil)
2 large eggs
3.5 oz grated Swiss cheese (I used Gruyere)

Cook the pasta and drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Combine olive oil, chives, salt, pepper and cooking water in a large bowl. Add the pasta and toss well. Plate the pasta and sprinkle on a heaping spoonful of cheese. Cook the eggs, covered over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Place eggs on top of the pasta and add more cheese. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sook Muy Tong

Did you enjoy the long Mayday weekend? I did, very much. I came back to work this Monday morning, rejuvenated from three days of surf-all-you-want internet and much-appreciated quality time with the husband (who has no choice as he is desk-bound by virtue of his upcoming exams).

I've been so inspired by my cooking successes over the weekend that I couldn't wait to come home and try the next recipe that I have earmarked.

Now, I am no stranger to this soup - it is probably my most favourite soup in my childhood days (I can't decide whether it is this or watercress with pork ribs soup). I reckon my mum knew this because we had corn soup a lot. We weren't really finicky eaters but I guess a mother of three needs a sure-winner every now and then (and every now and then would appear to be very often).

Meanwhile, I am dying to buy something on Etsy but the husband will view my purchase as disturbing behaviour...More on this at an appropriate juncture, else you think I am exhibiting disturbing behaviour as well...

Cream corn and minced chicken soup
Adapted from The New Mrs Lee's Cookbook Vol 2

200g minced chicken
1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp salt
a dash of pepper
4 tbsp cornflour
1 l chicken stock
2 eggs, beaten
425g cream corn

Add wine, salt and pepper to the chicken. Dissolve the corn flour in 5 tbsp chicken stock and combine with minced chicken mixture.

Bring chicken stock and cream corn to boil. Add the chicken mixture and stir continuously for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the flame and pour the beaten egg into the hot soup while stirring.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chicken Moolie

I woke up today at 12.30pm (needless to say, I didn't go to church - again) and had this on the table by 1.15pm.

I think though, that the quick cooking doesn't give the curry enough credit. There's simply not enough time for the flavours to come through. I have definitely made better curries (although I must admit that the "better" curries were all made from instant paste, never from scratch).

Having said that, this curry dish is really quick and easy, and perfect for days when you crave curry and need a fix in a rush. This is also lighter and not as rich as your typical curry.
"A mild and simple chicken curry"
Adapted from the New Mrs Lee Cookbook Vol. 2
1 kg chicken parts
1 tomato, quartered
5 tsbp oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 l coconut milk
For the rempah:
1/2 thumb size knob ginger
12 shallots
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsbp chilli powder
Prepare the rempah by grinding all the rempah ingredients together.
Heat wok until it smokes and add oil. Stir-fry rempah for about 3 minutes. Add 5 tbsp coconut milk and allow to simmer for 1 minute. Add the remaining coconut milk and bring to boil while stirring continuously. Add the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Add tomato, sugar and salt and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.

Plain Mee Char

My motto for the moment is waste not want not (a refinement suggested by the husband after I proclaimed that my new motto in life shall be "don't waste food!" or alternatively, "not wasting food").
Last week, I made char kway teow. It was no big deal since almost everything came from a Prima Deli box. The recipe required some kway teow noodles, and some egg noodles (like a handful out of a bag I bought especially for the occasion). As a result, I had a bag of egg noodles left (come on - I only used a handful). I think it's kind of perishable. So in light of my motto, it was imperative that I use the noodles up.

Now, I HATE yellow noodles. They are really the reason why I don't ever eat fishball noodles although I lurve fishball. But this plain mee char is not too bad at all. And very easy recipe to make (although I did set my pan on fire at one point) . I think I may just be able to eat these yellow noodles after all!

We have rated this: Yummy! Can cook again! (Husband: without parsley, please!)

P.S. I have been feeling really guilty about my recent indiscriminate cookbook spree. So I proclaimed to the husband that I will not buy anymore cookbooks until I've cooked everything in each of my cookbook. (Even the husband was taken aback by the ambition. He said "erm, about 3 recipes from each book should be enough, la). But I would have none of it. Nosirree, when I decide on something, I will not change my mind (I'm a dumbass).

I'm starting with Shermay's Book 2 (because I can't remember where I left Book 1). So here goes! Wish me luck!

"A vegetarian fried egg noodles dish served in a sweet sauce"
Adapted from The New Mrs Lee Cookbook Volume 2

2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
2 sprigs Chinese parsley, finely chopped
6 spring onions, finely chopped
12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp oil
3 chillies, sliced
1 1/2 tbsp gula melaka
1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
250g bean sprouts
500g yellow eggs noodles
3 tbsp fried shallots

(1) Stir-fry garlic until light golden brown.
(2) Add chillies and palm sugar. Add water to prevent burning.
(3) Add the soy sauces and salt. Stir-fry.
(4) Add bean sprouts, sliced tomatoes and noodles. Stir-fry.
(5) Add the spring onions and Chinese parsley. Toss.Garnish with
fried shallots.