Friday, February 27, 2009

Red Bean Buns

Wonder if you have tasted those half dozen sweet buns with filling, normally mashed red beans, sweeten grated coconut and Kaya, that are usually sold in those traditional bakery stores. Those used to be such a treat as compared to plain white bread when I was a little girl. Nowadays you rarely seen them selling in those brand new bread stores in town...time has really changed, I guess sooner or later no one is gonna sell these good old sweet buns. So today I decided to make some red bean buns from scratch....literally, making the red beans filling myself. I was quite intrigue by a website, Just Hungry that teaches people to make Adzuki bean paste, AKA. Japanese red bean paste. Equipped with just regular red beans, I took up the challenge and also decided to try out a new sweet bun recipe I found to go along with the paste.
Frankly speaking, making the red bean paste is a no-brainer, very easy, but it very time consumming. First was the soaking time and then the boiling time. I figured there's always a first time for everything, so why not?! Those interested in making the red bean paste from scratch, can follow this recipe. Mine did not turn out as I expected them to be, since I suspect I was using those regular old local beans and not those higher quality Japanese red beans. :-P Some of my beans did not boil down soft enough even after such long hours. O well...perhaps when I have more time next time, will try with better beans. :)

As for the sweet bun dough, it was quite a good recipe, it turns out that the bread was still soft even on the third day when I had it for breakfast! So will definitely keep this recipe for future use. ;) Anyway, here is the recipe:

Ingredients for Sweet Bread:
175g bread flour

75g cake flour
55g caster sugar
40g egg (about 1 large egg)
70g fresh milk
45g heavy cream
20g unsalted butter, room temperature
5g of milk powder
5g of instant yeast
½ tsp Salt


  • In a large mixing bowl, place bread flour, cake flour, sugar, yeast, salt and milk powder in, mix well until all incoroperated.
  • In another bowl, add lightly beated egg, heavy cream and milk, stir to mix well.
  • Make a well in the flour mixture and add liquid mixture into the well. Stir till everything comes together to form a dough.
  • Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes when it feels less sticky.
  • Add the soften butter to the dough and continue to knead till dough is smooth and pulls away from the work surface easily. Roll it into a ball.
  • Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let proof for at least 1½hr to 2hrs.
  • After proofing, punch down the dough and roll out on a lightly floured work surface and divide dough evenly, about 50g piece. (more or less is up to your preference)
  • Flatted each piece of dough with the heel of your palm and place a heaping tablespoon of red bean filling in the center, as shown below:
  • Seal up the dough neatly and roll the dough gently with your palms to make it nice and round. Repeat with the rest of the dough pieces and filling.
  • Place the dough in baking pan to let proof for at least 1hr before baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Brush the surface of the buns with simple egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbsp milk/cream).
  • Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes or till the tops are golden brown.
Its such a simple recipe and it's something traditional that's kind of fading out which probably our kids' kids won't see in their future...or maybe they will? Maybe if there's more people like me around whom enjoys making all those traditional dishes from scratch, these good old recipes will last for years to come. :) What can I say...I'm quite old fashion and traditional, haha! ;D Anyway, give it a try and enjoy them!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Having gone back to California for 2 weeks sure brought back some good old memories for me. Especially my kitchen...did quite a bit of cooking and baking back then too. ;) The first recipe that came to mind was my all time favorite Blueberry Cream Cheese Pound Cake. I'm sure good friends of mine in California will agree it's one of their favorite recipe that I've shared with them too. :) All of the people that have tasted it have only rave reviews about it. So I was really happy when I saw blueberries in season now, and could not wait to make this yummy recipe! :-D Furthermore the ingredients involved are few and readily available...who would not love this recipe?!

This recipe originated from Martha Stewart website but I made some slight changes to it to suit my personal preference. Here is my version:

Ingredients for Blueberry Cream Cheese Pound Cake:
165g All purpose Flour
170g unsalted butter, room temperature
125g (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs
180g Castor Sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp fresh lemon zest (optional)
½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla & lemon zest. With mixer on low, add flour and salt in two additions, beating until just combined.
  • To the blueberries, sprinkle a little plain flour over it, making sure all is lightly coated. ( this will prevent the blueberries from sticking together) Then add the blueberries into the cake batter and stir to combine.
  • Generously coat a 8 1/2-by-4 1/2- by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans (1 1/2 quarts each) with cooking spray; immediately pour in batter (pan will seem full). Tap pans on work surface to eliminate any large air bubbles.
  • Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out almost clean, 45 to 50 minutes (if the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil).
  • Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Turn out the cakes; cool completely, with top sides up, on a wire rack.
This pound cake is good even after 3 days, just store it in air tight containers and refrigerate it after if it does last that long. :) Here's a close up of the cake....mmm. :) Go ahead and give it a try today, have fun!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fried Carrot/ Turnip Cake

I love carrot cake! I'm not sure about you all, but most of the time when I go to the hawker center, I'll order a plate of dark soy sauce fried carrot cake. Something about the sweet and savory dark soy sauce taste mixed with the soft carrot cake and fried eggs, so yummy. ;) BTW, I realize that the fried carrot cake in Malaysia is pretty different from Singapore. In Malaysia, they add bean sprouts to it, perhaps for more texture and crunch? Well, maybe I grew up eating the Singapore fried carrot cake, so I much prefer the Singapore style fried carrot cake (AKA Char Kway). So today I took up the challenge of making carrot cake from scratch and of course fried some later.It's actually quite easy to make carrot cake once you know how. The recipe I used was from one of cookbook my sister gave me for Xmas. Title "Singapore Hawker Food" by Jimmy Chua. Below is a picture of the book. I made some slight changes to the recipe to suit my personal taste, below is my version:

Ingredients for Carrot/Turnip Cake:
350g shredded turnip (white radish)
5 tbsp cooking oil
½ tbsp chopped garlic
2 Chinese sausage, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup dried shrimp
5 dried mushroom, soaked till soft and diced small
600ml water
½ tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
pinch of ground white pepper
1 tbsp of chicken seasoning granule
Thickening Glaze:
500ml water
350g rice flour

25g Caltrop flour

* Mix well till blended

  • Heat up wok with cooking oil. Add garlic, Chinese sausage, dried shrimp and dried mushroom and stir fry until fragrant.
  • Add shredded turnip and stir fry. Add seasoning ingredients and stir well till well blended.
  • Bring to a boil and add thickening glaze. Lower heat and stir constantly as mixture will gradually thicken. Add a little more water if needed. (I added about 50 to 80ml more of water)
  • Pour the batter into prepared pan (8 X 8 X 2 inch) and steam for 45 minutes or till it's firm to the touch.
Once the carrot cake has cooled down, cut it into chunks and assemble the following ingredients for frying.

Ingredients for Fried Carrot/Turnip Cake:
200g carrot cake, cut into chunks
tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp preserved dried radish (AKA "Chai Po" in hokkien)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce

1 tbsp sweet dark soy sauce

Spring onions, sliced

  • Heat non-stick frying pan with 2 tbsp of cooking oil. Add chopped garlic and preserved dried radish and stir fry till fragrant.
  • Add carrot cake chunks and fish sauce. Stir fry for awhile. Move the carrot cake chunks aside and add a bit more cooking oil and proceed to add eggs and stir fry till cooked.
  • Turn off the heat. Add Hoisin sauce and sweet dark soy sauce and stir well. Dish up and garnish with spring onion. Serve hot.
It's so good with a cup of "teh-si"(chinese milk tea). Once you get this mastered, you pretty much can enjoy Char Kway @ home anytime you want and not having to drive down and queue up to purcahse a packet from your favorite hawker. Have fun trying out and let me know how it work out for you. ;) Enjoy!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Back from California

Hello all! I am so glad to be back in my normal routine again....traveling just makes me really tired these days. And it's been so long since I last made a post...I'm lost for words, haha. :D After CNY, it's been crazy busy for me and my hubby, getting ready for the trip was alot of work. And even while we were in California, it was mostly work and little play. Lot's of things to settle, house, bank, school for kids etc. :-P But it was good to see my house and my Bay area friends again after 2 years...very little seems to have changed, well except for the children! Somehow when you see other people's kids after a period of time, they tend to grow much bigger then yours?! :) Of course, you don't see them everyday. ;)

There were a few of my favorite eateries in California that I like to mention in this post. First is a Ramen place in Milpitas call Maru Ichi. I remember my family and I used to frequent this place twice to three times a month while we were in Bay Area. They serve several different soup base ramen, personally I like their Shouyu Ramen the best, not too salty and their noodles have good texture. The left picture shows Kuro Ramen, which is their house colour looking soup, got a spicy kick to it.
It was really good slurping the hot noodle soup on that very cold and wet night there....brought back quite a bit of memories too. ;)

On another nice morning, we drove to Los Gatos to enjoy one of my favorite burger joints, Main Street Burgers. I find their burgers pretty good, toasted buns, fresh vegetables and a juicy patty....and not forgetting their sweet potatoes fries and onion rings...delish!Sorry couldn't resist taking a bite first. ;)

Next stop, we went to another favorite spot in Los Gatos downtown, a pastry & confectionery store call Fleur de Cocoa. I remember during birthdays and special occasions, we'll order a cake from here. They serve no ordinary cakes, I would describe it as "heavenly" or "out of this world"...seriously. But the con side is it's quite $$$$....if you know what I mean.
But too bad we were too stuffed from the burgers that we didn't get any pastry. :-P *sob*

Our stay in Bay Area was so a pretty short one and we didn't get to all of our favorite eating perhaps next time I'll post it when I get back ...for the benefit of my friends in Malaysia and Singapore. :)

Regrettably, I was unable to make a Valentine's Day post this time, being away and all, not to mention I'm still suffering from jet-lag and common cold. I guess I just need more time to settle back and of course rest.
My family and I have actually spent Valentine's Day in California Disneyland...the happiest place of earth?! Even though it's not our first time there, we decided to stayed in Disney's Grand Californian Hotel again, being it's close proximity to the park and the great hotel services it provide. :)

On the evening when we arrive @ the Disney hotel, we went dinning @ this Italian restaurant call Naples Ristorante and Pizzeria. We were famished when were finally seated and we ordered whatever that sounded good to us.
The food came fairly quickly and we dive in straight away. I ordered three cheese ravioli with tiger shrimps and my hubby ordered tangelini with lobster in cream sauce. The kids had pepperoni pizza and meatball spaghetti.
I have to say the food was okay, not too fantastic....a little too salty for my taste buds. However my girl's pepperoni pizza taste okay.

The following day we had a lunch "date" with the Disney princesses! You hear me right...well, technically the princesses just come to your dinning table to talk to you and take photos etc. Well, it's more then you can imagine what it means to my girls! They were totally excited about it the minute we told them.

The lunch took place @ this place call Ariel's Grotto. Thank goodness we got to seat indoors because it was quite cold that day. The first thing we did was to meet Ariel herself, we took pictures and were quickly seated down and ordered our food. In the mist of waiting for our food, all the Disney princesses started to come out one by one, first was Cinderella, then Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), then Belle (Beauty & the Beast) and last Snow White. My girls couldn't settle down and eat, because they kept looking and waiting for the Princesses to come to our table!
They girls really had a wonderful time meeting their favorite princesses and this will give them a lot of sweet memories. So if you have a little girl that adores princesses, don't'll so great to see that sparkle in their eyes and that smile on their face...;)

In fact the food has improved quite a lot since 2 years ago when we visited them. For my main course, I have Santa Maria Style Tri-tip, which is slow roasted over rock salt and smoked with red oak wood and serve with Chedder-herb mashed potatoes and with some seasonal vegtables.
While my hubby got Cioppino which include lobster claw, pink scallops, red fish, green-lip(no idea what's that), mussels and shrimp, plus Bibao chorizo (type of sausage) bathed in a robust fire-roasted tomato broth.The girls have thir usual kids meal, pasta and fresh fruits on the side.
As for desert, a selection of yummy pastry which includes seahorse lava cake, chocolate-chip strips, cheesecake tarts with raspberries, s'more chcoclate bites and a white chcoclate conch shell of garden fresh berries!Everyone was satisfied and happy after this meal...and my girls asked are they gonna have dinner with the Princess later?! Hahaha!!

For the rest of the stay we concentrated on having loads of fun in the park, taking most of the rides and watching the Fantasmic show and the Aladdin Musical show (a MUST if you visit Disneyland), which was so entertaining even though we know the story so well. And again my girls get to meet yet another princess, princess Jasmine of course. ;)

Even though it was really cold, we still enjoyed ourselves totally...and stayed in the park up to the wee hours of the night. Every night it ends with this wonderful fireworks which lights up the entire sky with different sparks of magical!! It's really hard to describe it to you, but it really took my breath away watching the of the best I've seen so far. ;)

I have loaded a minute of the fireworks video from my Cannon camera....not the best view but still can show you a sneak peak of that wonderful 15 minutes long fireworks show ....

Overall, I had a great trip back to California, but again I feel great too to be back home safe with my family and back to my usual routine. :) So looking forward to more baking in my kitchen too! So stay tune my friends!