Thursday, November 27, 2008

Doggie & Almond cookies

Today my 2nd daughter has a year end party at her playschool. It also marks the end of her "school days" over there. Frankly I'm quite depress since I won't be able to meet up with the mothers there regularly now. The thing is it's actually quite therapeutic for me to have regular conversations with the mothers there, rather then all those kids talk with my girls all day, if you know what I mean, haha.

The mothers and the organizer at the playschool has been more then nice to me and I really appreciate that. :) Anyway, I hope I can stay in touch with them as I have come to treasure the friendship they gave me. So if you're one of them, and reading this, I just want to say "THANKS!" ;)

I made 2 kinds of cookies for the party today. One of them is the Chocolate Doggie cookies you see below. I got the cute design from one of my favorite blogs Happy Home Baking. However I made changes to the cookie recipe.
Ingredients (makes about 30 to 35 Doggies):
200g unsalted butter (room temperature)
60g Milo powder
60g cocoa powder
200g cake flour
80g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
Koko Krunch enough for 30 to 35 Doggie cookies' ears
Chocolate Chips enough for 30 to 35 Doggie cookies' noses
Chocolate rice enough for 30 to 35 Doggie cookies' eyes

  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Sieve cake flour, salt, Milo powder and cocoa powder into the butter mixture and mix until well blended and the color is uniform.
  • Diving the dough about 12g each and roll them into a ball.
  • Preheat oven to 150°C.
  • Using the chocolate chips, pressing the pointy side into the dough to make the nose. As shown below:
  • Using 2 chocolate rice, as the Doggie's eyes, as shown above
  • Using 2 Ko ko Krunch as the Doggie's ears, as shown above.
  • Put the Doggies cookies into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Let cool on rack completely and store in air tight container.
Try them, I'm sure the little ones will love them!

The other cookie I made for the party was a Almond Shortbread cookie. Saw a recipe online, but made some changes to it to suit my taste. :)
Ingredients (makes about 40 cookies):
225g unsalted butter, room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
180g all purpose flour
100g almond flour (toasted ground almonds)
1/2 tsp salt
30g cornflour

  • Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  • Butter or place parchment paper on baking pan.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add in vanilla essence and mix well.
  • In another bowl, using a whisk, mix all purpose flour, almond flour, cornflour and salt together until no clumps.
  • Using the palm of your hands, form the dough into balls about 12g in weight each.
  • Put the dough balls on the baking tray, using your thumb, press it down slightly, then using a fork, dip in plain flour and press on the cookie to make the patterns.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or till light golden brown on the side.
  • Cool completely and store in airtight container.
It's light and almost melt in your mouth. Goes great with a cup of tea in the afternoon. If you like, you can add almond essence to it to enhance the almond taste. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Small Raisin Loaf

My girls love raisin bread, so my mission today was to make a nice raisin loaf for them.
Somehow my loaf did not quite "rise to the occasion". Or perhaps there was some step that I did not do it right. But it still soft and nice and my girls love it anyway. *phew*

250g bread flour
5g of active dry yeast
125ml of lukewarm milk
1 egg
, lightly beaten
40g of sugar

1/2 tsp of salt
40g of unsalted butter, room temperature
80g of raisins, soaked for 20 minutes in warm water, pat dry

  • Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk, let stand for 5 minutes until foamy.
  • Place bread flour, salt, sugar in mixing bowl, add yeast mixture, egg and stir to form a soft dough.
  • Knead the dough for a couple of minutes before adding the butter and mix it until the butter is well blend into the dough.
  • The dough will be very sticky, but resist form adding more flour, as it will make the bread tough. Continue to knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's not sticky, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • When it's not too sticky, form the dough into a round ball and place in an oiled bowl to proof for 1.5hrs.
  • After 1.5hrs, punch down the dough and divide it to 3 portions. Roll into balls and let rest for 10 minutes for easier handling later.
  • Press down the dough ball to form an oval disc, scatter one third of the raisins on it. Fold in the sides and cover the raisins completely and again press down to form a oval disc.
  • Roll the dough in from one end like a swiss roll as shown below:
  • Repeat with the rest of 2 dough balls and let proof in loaf pan for another 1.5hrs.
  • After 1.5hrs, brush the top of the bread with egg wash (1 egg + 1 tsp of water) and baked in preheated oven @ 180°C for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove from loaf pan and let cool on rack before slicing.
This is the best picture I can show the "softness" of the bread, haha. :) Try it and let me know how it worked out for you. ;)

Monday, November 24, 2008

A birthday treat - Fine Dinning @ Sage

Yes, another year, another year older. I guess best not count the candles, why not indulge oneself in good food? Haha. My dear husband brought me to this nice French restaurant, Sage, in Singapore near Clark Quay. Read about it's good reviews and decided why not give myself a treat! ;)
The ambiance is okay, a little dim, but I guess they are trying to make it a romantic atmosphere. :) One look at the menu, my husband decided on the spot that we should go for the Menu Degustation, meaning the taster's menu or chef's recommendations. It's a 6 course meal, including desert and coffee.

My first course is Beef Carpaccio with jellied horseradish consomme, top with Arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano shavings. Not exactly my cup of tea, wish they have substitute the horseradish with something sweeter like stewed raisins or cranberries.

My hubby's first course is yummier. Risotto of Burgundy escargot & tiger prawns, top with Parmesan crusted poached egg and Italian parsley foam. When the creamy egg yolk mixed into the risotto, the whole dish taste even better .
Our 2nd course is seared scallop on Belgium endive topped with avruga caviar in Normandy and Parmigano Reggiano sauce. I like it, the scallop is fresh and sweet, yes sweet, that fresh seafood sweet taste. ;)
Our 3rd course is Seared Scottish salmon fillet on white leek, with emulsion of fennel cream and sweet basil sauce. Salmon is fresh and tender and I love the combination with the leek.
Fourth is Pan-seared duck foie gras on pear and walnut chutney, topped with muscat poached figs. Not my first time tasting foie gras, other words I've tasted better, but still, this one of the better ones. Didn't like the presence of walnut, didn't go well with the creamy, melt in your mouth feel from the foie gras.
Fifth course is Kurobuta pork loin with orange marmalade on slow cooked pork cheek topped with tomato fondue and aioli. The marmalade goes really well with the pork loin and the pork cheek is tender soft, yummy!
Final course, desert, my hubby has Chocolate souffle with Amaretto ice cream and vanilla bean custard. He said "Heavenly", haha. :)

Mine is Chocolate fondant with fresh raspberries and vanilla custard cream, and vanilla ice cream.
I love it, it even has a hidden surprise, a white chocolate truffle inside. The chocolate cake is a little crusty on the outside but soft and melt in the mouth on the inside.
Our bill comes to a total of S$277, (including tax etc.) Overall, I give this restaurant a 7.5 out of 10. If you're in Singapore and want to give your taste bud a treat, check this place out.
Here's a picture of the restaurant entrance, it's quite well hidden. But look out for the Thai Massage place, it's just next door.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Baked Siew Pao

I did it, my first attempt to making baked Siew Pao. The end result? It's to my satisfaction. ;)You know every time we drive to and fro Singapore on North South Highway, we'll pass by this Seremban Siew Bao Restaurant. We tried their Siew Bao and thought it's quite nice, especially when it's fresh out from the oven. But guess what, now that I know how to make these goodies, we don't have to stop on the busy highway anymore, heehee. :)
I got inspired by the Cook book that I recently bought, call Flour Magic, shown below. It shows all the ways and methods on making all kinds of breads and pastries, quite a keeper, but it's in Mandarin. :)The ingredients I show below is enough to make 25 of the medium size Siew Bao.

Ingredients for BBQ pork filling:
350g of BBQ pork, cut into small cubes
1 cup of green peas

1 small onion. diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 shallots, minced

  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in the wok and add onion, garlic and shallots and stir fry until soft.
  • Add the chopped BBQ pork and stir fry for 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Cool the BBQ filling completely before use. So you can make ahead and store in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for Water Dough:
400g all purpose flour
130ml of water
5g of salt
45g of confectioner's sugar
110g of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Method for Water Dough:
  • In a large mixing bowl, add flour, confectioner's sugar, salt and melted butter, then add the water to form a soft dough.
  • Knead dough until it's not sticky and smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Let dough rest for 20 minutes and cover with kitchen towel.
  • Roll dough into a long log and divide into 25 pieces.
Ingredients for Oil Dough:
300g of cake flour
150g shortening

For Assembly:
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tsp of water

Method for Oil Dough:
  • Mix the shortening into the cake flour. It will feel crumbly at first, but continue to knead to form a dough that is pliable.
  • Roll dough into a long log and divide into 25 pieces.
  • Roll the water dough flat enough to encase the oil dough inside. Place oil dough inside water dough, cover and seal the edges.
  • Then press and roll out the combined dough into long flat oval. Then start rolling in from one end to make the dough like a swiss roll.
  • Using your rolling pin, roll out the dough into a roll disc at least 10cm diameter.
  • Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling in middle of the dough. Gathering the edges of the dough into top middle, pinching the edges together to seal up the top.
  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Brush the surface of each Siew Bao with egg wash and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the light golden brown.
If you want a "pictorial" description online, I suggest you go to this great blog, Cafe Coner to see the step by step instructions. I merely followed the book I bought, which is very similar the steps in Cafe Corner.

Check out the flaky crust. :) Best eaten when it's still warm. Otherwise, keep in the refrigerator up to a week and reheat in the oven for 10 minutes @ 140
Do try out this recipe, it worth every effort you put it. ;)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Easy Fish and Chips

Tonight for dinner I decide to give my girls a treat, Fish and Chips! ;) My version of this recipe couldn't be easier, so read on. I'm sure you all out there have tasted tempura before, that yummy crunchy outer crust encasing the seafood / vegetable inside. So I went to a Japanese grocer recently and bought a pack of tempura flour, as shown below:
I've tried using plain flour (with baking soda), self rising flour, but it never quite yield to the quality as compared to using tempura flour. Anyway there is instructions behind the packaging that tells you the amount of tempura flour you need to mix with the amount of cold water, that easy. One last secret ingredient that makes it all so crunchy, 1/2 tsp of baking powder. Add that into your batter and you'll get that crunchy skin outside!

Any kind of firm white fish will work for this recipe, so choose the one you prefer.
  • Cut fish into small pieces, about 2 inches by 2 inches.
  • Season fish with a little pepper, a dash of sesame oil, a teaspoon of light soy sauce , 1 tsp of gula melaka and 1/2 teaspoon of chicken seasoning. Set seasoned fish aside for 15 minutes.
  • Heat up some frying oil in wok.
  • Dip the fish into the mixed tempura batter and gently lower into the frying oil and cook for 5 minutes each side until golden brown.

As for the" chips", I cut up 2 medium size potatoes into wedges, pat dry them and drop them in the frying oil to cook for 10 to 12 minutes on medium low heat. Then remove chips and increase fire to high, return the chips and quick fry for 2 minutes. This step will make the chips crispier.
After the chips are done, leave on paper towel to soak up the oil and sprinkle some salt on it for taste. Serve with tartar sauce or ketchup....yummy!
Bon Appetite!

Egg in Toast

Got this easy, tasty and creative recipe from Baking Mum blog. It's basically 2 slices of white bread, a slice of Kraft cheese and an egg. Using a cookie cutter, cut out a circle on one of the bread slice. Cutting the cheese into 4 thin strips and line them along the sides on the 2nd slice of bread. Place the cut out bread on top and crack the egg in the "hole". Then bake it in the oven @ 180°C for 10 minutes. Make sure the egg is room temperature and also you have a conventional oven, else the egg won't cook well. My husband and girl totally love it. Will make it more often. Thanks for sharing Baking Mum.
It's crunch on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Check out the yummy yolk oozing out ....mmmmm, hahaha. ;)
Give it a try, it's worth every trouble!! ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

M&M mini brownie cupcakes

This post is a continuation from yesterday's. Besides the Oatmeal cookies to bring to my girl's playschool, I baked a batch of brownies as well. I got the brownie recipe from Cookie Madness Blog. I baked the brownies in these mini cupcake holders and added M&Ms on top.
Turns out the kids love the brownies and the colorful M&M really appeal to them. ;)
I made 50 of these little babies and now only 5 left....guess it won't last, since my girls can down these in less then a minute!

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

It's my turn to bring in the snacks for the kids in my girl's playschool tomorrow. Looking through my pantry, I decided to bake up a double batch of Banana Oatmeal cookies. I got this recipe from bakingsheet blog, thanks for sharing Nicole!
The cookies taste great! However, I did reduce the sugar, since I added an extra banana and extra strawberry chips in the cookie. So if you like your cookie less sweet, reduce 2 tablespoons of caster sugar & 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
My 2 girls are the best food tester for my bake goodies, haha. And since they both munch down 2 cookies (just 30 minutes after their dinner), I think it should be a hit for kids tomorrow. ;)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crispy Honey Chicken Wings

So what's for dinner tonight ? How about Crispy Honey Chicken Wings? Sounds good? It's one of my family's favorite too. There was one time I have to cook it every week since my family keeps asking for it. :-P So you might want to give this recipe a try, it's a keeper! ;)
6 large chicken wings, wash clean, dry & cut into half
1/4 tsp of pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp of chicken seasoning
4-5 tbsp cornflour
Enough cooking oil for deep frying

4 tbsp honey (any kind of your preference)
4 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 of chicken seasoning

1 tbsp water

  • Place the chicken wings inside a mixing bowl, add in chicken seasoning, pepper, sesame oil and marinate the chicken for 20 minutes.
  • Add the cornflour to the marinated chicken wings and mix well until all wings are well coated and it's dry to the touch, not sticky.
  • Preheat the oil in the wok, deep fry the chicken wings until golden brown.
  • Set chicken wings aside on paper towel to soak up the oil.
  • In a small bowl, add all the ingredients for the sauce, mix well until well combined.
  • Heat up the wok again, without any cooking oil, add the chicken wings back, followed by the sauce.
  • Stir fry until the sauce thickens and sticks to the chicken wings.
  • Dish up and serve with white rice while still warm. Bon Appetit!

Last Day of School

Another academic year has ended and today is the last day of school for my elder daughter. The school is holding a party and parents are asked to bring some "finger" food for the children. I took this opportunity to bake a batch of Rich Moist Chocolate Cupcake With Rich Chocolate Toppings. I got this recipe from Elinluv, and she's nice enough to share it with me, thanks! :-)

My cake's appearance did not turn out as nice as Elinluv's. :-P I might have added a little too much cake batter into the cupcake holder, so the cake is oozing out. :-P And I didn't want to pipe too much chocolate topping on each cupcake, worrying the drive from home to school might cause the topping to run down to the sides.

But overall I like this recipe, will make it again when I'm having chocolate cravings, haha. :)

To thank the nice teachers that have patiently teach and care for my daughter in school, I decided to make some cookies for them.
Personally I love shortbread cookies, so when I get the chance, I always bake a batch and store it in an airtight container for late afternoon snacks. Today I used this lovely recipe that I got from Tea and Wheaten Bread Blog. Its light, and slight crisp, perfect with a cup of tea. :)The tiny black specs you see on the cookies are the vanilla seeds that I add to the cookie dough. :) If you love vanilla, you'll want to try this recipe. ;)I used heart and star shape cookie cutter. To make the cookie more colorful, I added a couple drops of pink food coloring to the vanilla icing.
After putting the icing, I placed the cookies into the refrigerator to "harden" the icing before I place the cookies into the cellophane bags.
Anyway, I hope the teachers like the cookies. May they have more motivation to keep up the good work! ;)