Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mango Sago Pomelo (杨枝甘露)

I guess every year after all the praying at home is done, we are usually left with a (or more) ripe pomelo fruit. Yes of course you are welcome to just peel and consume it as is. But some might think it's bitter after taste ain't that palatable...unless you get Ipoh Pomelo heehee (Confirm sweet yo). So why not make dessert out of it? Of course the most common one is Mango Sago Pomelo (杨枝甘露). If you have attended Chinese dinners or weddings, there's bound to be once you will have this as a dessert. Well, now you can satisfy your appetite by making a whole lot of it and chill it in the fridge to consume whenever you fancy over the next couple days, yoohoo!  
There is quite a number of different recipes out there, which I am pretty sure everyone has their own concoction and preference of sweetness. Personally I love the soup to be stronger in mango taste, not too sweet and a creamy after taste. And of course with loads of liao (sago, mango and pomelo!) inside, yum!

Ingredients for Sago Mango Pomelo (Serves 6-8 pax)
2 large ripe mango (oops picture only shows one haha)
  • Peel the mango, cut out all the flesh. Then weigh out about 250g of the flesh for puree (Which I usually picked out the not so nicely cut ones) 

  • Cut the rest into bite size cubes and store in a air tight container to chill in the fridge.
  • Puree the 250g mango flesh till smooth. Set aside to use later.
70g sago
3 cups water
250g mango puree   
150ml fresh milk
200ml evaporated milk
200ml water
70g caster sugar (you can add less first, taste test then add more to your preference)
Fresh mango flesh (cut earlier) 
Pomelo pulps (I added half of my pomelo fruit in, so go crazy and add more if you love this fruit) 

  • Soak the sago for 5 minutes in the 3 cups of water in a sauce pan. 
  • Then place the pan over medium fire and start boiling. Stir constantly making sure the sago doesn't clump together or the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook for about 5-7 minutes till the sago is transparent. Off the fire ans let sit for another 5 minutes.
  • Drain the whole mixture in to a fine sieve. Run cold water over it and set aside for use later.
  • In another pot, add in milk, evaporated milk, water and sugar in. Place the pot over medium fire and bring to a simmer and stir constantly to make sure the sugar melts.
  • One you see bubbles on the side of the pot, remove from fire.
  • Leave the mixture to cool for 30 minutes. 
  • Add in the mango pure and sago. 
  • You can whisk if necessary to break up the lumps and making sure everything is incorporated nicely.
  • Add in the pomelo and mango cubes and give it a gently stir. Chill the whole mixture for at least 2 hours in the fridge in an air tight container. Best eaten when cold. :9 Enjoy!

This dessert is best enjoyed after a nice hot pot dinner. So make for your family soon! I am sure they will love it too. ;)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Seafood Pizza On Wholewheat Sweet Potato Crust

I have been meaning to post up a pizza recipe for the longest time. A good one that I always fall back to whenever I bake one for my kids. Well, today's THE day! I am sharing this easy, delicious and wholesome pizza recipe that I am sure even your family is gonna love it too. :9 Seafood Pizza On Wholewheat Sweet Potato Crust:

This right here is plain old family comfort food. I guess every mother has their own special recipe that they can cheer their own kids up whenever she whip it up in the kitchen. And this, I say is probably one of my kids' top favortites. :) Com-on ... which kid doesn't like pizza? 

Bare in mind, this recipe serves as a basic guide which I am sure you can use the bread crust recipe and top it with another another ingredients you or your family fancy. :)

Let's have a look at the ingredients for my seafood pizza shall we?

Ingredients for Seafood Pizza (makes a 30-35cm diameter, serves 4 pax)
Pizza Dough:
215g bread flour
60g wholewheat flour
50g egg
50g sweet potato, peeled, steamed then blended till smooth
60-100ml water
1/2 tsp salt
20g caster sugar
5g instant active yeast
20g olive oil

*Note the sweet potato is excellent in enhancing the bread texture. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, add in all the ingredients and knead together. I used my KitchenAid to do all the kneading, knead about 10 minutes.
  • Once the dough is pulling away from the side of the bowl and it is very elastic, stop kneading.
  • Let the dough proof in a greased bowl till it doubled in size. Takes about an hour.
Ingredients for the toppings

200g salmon steak
5 large prawns, peeled and devined 
salt, pepper and dash of sesame oil
5-6 crab-sticks, shredded
1 ripe avocado
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 

Bechamel  Sauce
50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp plain flour
180-200ml fresh milk
salt and pepper to taste

300g shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

  • In the meantime, prepare the topping while the pizza dough is proofing. 
  • Marinate the salmon steak and prawns with salt, pepper and a dash of sesame oil, set aside for 10 minutes.
  • In a saute pan, add 1 tsp of olive oil and add the salmon steak in. Cook till golden and opaque.
  • Next saute the prawns till pink and cooked through. Shred the crab sticks if you have not done so.

  • In a small sauce pan over medium low fire, add in the butter. Once the butter melted and starts to bubble on the sides, add in the flour. Give it a good stir to mix in the flour and cook it.

  • Once it is slightly thicken, slowly add in the milk and whisk well. The mixture will slowly thicken up in a few seconds, so DO NOT walk away. Add more milk if you find the mixture is too thick.
  • Next you add in the seasoning, salt, pepper and stir well. So this is basically the Béchamel sauce that will be going on top of your pizza to go with the seafood. :) Set aside covered to be used later.

  • At this point, the pizza dough should be ready. Check by poking the dough. If the hole stays and doesn't "bounce back", it is good to go.
  • Press out the air and flatten the dough on a prepared baking tray lined with parchment paper. Press it to the thickness you desire, it will poof up a little after baked. Remember to leave a slightly thicker dough edge.

  • Let the dough proof for 15 minutes before baking it. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200C.
  • After 15 minutes, bake the dough for 8 minutes till it is slightly golden brown on the outside. Remove from oven.
  • At this point, you can add the toppings. First you spread the Béchamel sauce over the surface of the pizza leaving an inch on the sides not covered.
  • Next you flake the salmon steak and sprinkle the meat all over the pizza top, followed by the prawns and crab sticks.

  • Now you can cut the avocado, remove pit and scoop out the flesh. Slice the avocado into thin wedges. Then remember to give it a good squeeze of lemon juice to prevent it from browning.

  • Place the avocado wedges on the pizza, follow by the two cheeses.

  • Bake the pizza in the preheated oven at 200C for 10-12 minutes till the cheeses is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.

This is seriously delicious, I promise. :9 That crusty wholewheat bread topped with creamy béchamel sauce, and that sweet chunky seafood and cheesy wonder my kids loved it so much. :D

Check out the sliced section. The fluffy pizza dough....yes it is wholewheat too. You won't want to miss out trying this out. :) If you do, let me know how it worked out for you! ;)

Alrighty, need to call it a night! Thanks for tuning in again. ;) Happy cooking or baking guys!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Kumquat Preserve Butter Cake

It is interesting how people love having layered cakes during Chinese New Year. Yes, I am talking about Kueh Lapis. Don't get me wrong, I love lapis cake, but it is so time consuming and tedious to bake that I always shy away from it. The only time I taste it is when I visit other friends or relatives, or when my dear sister buys me one haha! And don't get me started on the calories! 

Anyway, I always opted for baking some other cakes every year. And this time I decided to try something citrus in lieu of the seasonal fruit, kumquat! Maybe Mandarin oranges next year mmmm... :P

So here we have it, Kumquat Preserve Butter Cake:
I got the inspiration to make Kumquat preserve from Wendy, Table For Two or More Thanks Wendy! Hers is marmalade version which she blends the sweetened kumquat halves. But I kept mine as halves and used it as topping for the cake. :)

Anyway here is the recipe for easy reference:

 Kumquat Preserves:
250g kumquats
250ml water
125g sugar

  •  Wash the Kumquats and half them. Remove all the seeds.
  • In a heavy duty sauce pot, place all kumquat halves and sugar in. Then add in the water and bring to a boil. Then simmer the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cook till the kumquats are soft. Let cool before putting them in to clean sterilized jars.
I actually made this 2 weeks ahead when the kumquats were on sale. :D 

Now the  fun part, baking the butter cake! :9 Here is my recipe:
Ingredients for an 8" by 8" by 3" square size cake
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
150g caster sugar
5 large egg yolks
Zest of one orange
1 vanilla bean pod's seeds (or you can use pure vanilla extract, 1 tsp)
 250g cake flour
100ml fresh whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 egg whites
50g caster sugar

  • In a big mixing bowl, place the butter and caster sugar in and beat till light, fluffy and not grainy.
  • Add in one egg yolk at a time and continue beating after each addition.
  • Next you add in the the orange zest, vanilla bean seeds and continue to beat the mixture.
  • Shift in cake flour, salt and baking powder.  Continue to mix.
  • Then lastly add in the milk and combine. Then set aside and work on the egg whites.
  • Preheat the oven to 175C and grease and lined a 8"by8" square pan with parchment paper.
  • In another mixing bowl, add in all the egg whites and beat till foamy. Add in all the sugar and beat at high speed till stiff peaks.
  • Then combine the egg white mixture in 3 separate portions, fold in gently.
  • Then pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Now you can top the cake batter with the Kumquat halves.

  •  and bake in the preheated oven for 50-60minutes, testing with toothpicks to make sure it comes come either clean or fine crumbs.
  • Remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before removing it or cutting it.
I cannot begin to tell you how awesome my kitchen smell at that moment. :) Love baking butter cakes and citrus ones are even more wonderful!

Thin crusty sides which is perfectly browned and moist fluffy center with juicy kumquat halves to surprise you in some bites, :9
Yeah, I had to add in this close up shot of the bitten cake to show you how fluffy, moist and amazing this cake is heehee. :D Convinced? Try it then and also wowed your friends and relatives when you serve this up during the Chinese New Year gatherings. Wheeee!

Okay folks, got a midnight movie to catch...till next time, happy baking and eat well!

Pen Cai (盆菜) 2015

Chinese New Year is always the time of the year which I would over work, over spend and over eat. :P Over work because between spring cleaning and baking for everyone (even for neighbors), I pretty much do till the very last day. Over spent...well, Mommy needs some new dresses and shoes ya? Over eat...duh?! And besides all these, it's also a time for me to try new Chinese New year recipes, yay! And this time I decided to attempt the "impossible"...Pen Cai(盆菜)! A couple years back if you ask me how to make Pen Cai, I probably would say NO WAY! But now...., yes! Still apprehensive? No worries, let me walk through this with you. :) Just bare in mind, my recipe is just a guideline and you are free to change the ingredients to whichever one you prefer. :)

Pen Cai to me signifies togetherness. Much like eating hotpot, this brings people together, crowding around it and enjoying all the goodness together. Such a heart warming dish, so I hope this is one dish more people should try to cook at home. :)

So here is my Pen Cai (盆菜)
I have to say there are several steps involved that makes this dish really lengthy and elaborate. So do bare with me as we go through step by step in this rather long blog post. ;P

Here are the list of ingredients for this recipe:
I do apologize for my poor's not easy trying to fit all in one shot! Anyway, it's just for pictorial reference, so you get an idea on what it is. :) 

Ingredients for Pen Cai (盆菜) -Serves 4 pax
1 can Baby Abalone (8 pcs) - You can opt for 1 whole big abalone
150g Roast pork or Roast Duck (I bought from my favorite hawker)
2 strips dried Tau Kee (beancurd skin), rinsed
200g Napa Cabbage, washed and cut into 4 sections
1/2 red carrot, peeled and slices into thin wedges
4 dried Shittake mushroom, soaked and sliced
4 large Tiger prawns, washed and trimmed
200g firm white fish (I used Toman fish), sliced
6-8 fresh scallops (I opted for fresh verses dried because my kids aren't dried scallop fans)
4" ginger, peeled and grated 
4 slices of ginger
4 gloves garlic, minced
150g dried Fish maw, washed
Fa-cai (发菜) (you can omit this but fa cai means  "发财" haha!)
1 boneless chicken thigh, skin removed and cut into cubes
1 chicken bone (for making soup) 
1 sprig spring onion

Seasoning for Chicken:
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp white ground pepper

Seasoning for Fish:
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white ground pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp Chinese Shaoxin wine (绍兴酒)

Seasoning for Prawns and scallops:
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Now we get some ingredients cooking, especially those that means more time.
  • First things first, you need to "pre-boil" the abalone. A technique used by many restaurants which really improves the abalone's taste and texture. So have a pot of water ready, enough for the can to be submerged completely.
  • Once the water boils, remove the paper wrapper on the abalone can and gently place the can in.

  • Let the can simmer in the water for 3hours. Then off the fire and let it cool completely in the water before removing it to use. So yes, it is okay to do this ahead, like the day before to save time.
  • Next you get your chicken stock ready. Get ready another pot of water boiling and parboil the chicken bone. Drain the water away and refill it with fresh water and boil with the chicken bone and 4 slices of ginger. (You can get the chicken bone in NTUC, perfect for making stock!)
  • Ooops looks greasy even after I parboiled it. :P Let the water boil then lower it to a simmer and cook for a good 45 minutes.
  • Next you marinate the chicken cubes with the chicken seasoning. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Heat up the pan with 2 tsp of cooking oil. Then add in half of the minced garlic and grated ginger to cook till aromatic.
  • Now you add in the shittake mushrooms and stir fry for a couple minutes. (Yes, that's my brand new HappyCall pan which I bought from Tangs at a 20% sale heehee)
  • Next, add in the marinated chicken cubes and cook till toasty brown and opaque. Then add in the chopped green onion and give it a stir before dishing out.

  • Marinate the fish slices with the indicated seasoning. Also marinate the prawns and scallops. Let sit for 10 minutes before using.
  • Next you cook the seafood. Again add in the 2 tsp og cooking oil and the remaining minced garlic and grated ginger into the cooking pan over medium fire. Cook till aromatic, then add in the toman Fish slices. 
  • Be extra careful when you flip to the other side not to break up the fish.
  • Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside for later.
  • Add in the prawns and scallops, cook till just turned pink/red. 
  • Dish out and again set aside for use later.
  • At this point, your chicken stock should be ready. So get your vegetables and fish maw ready to be boiled!
  • First you boil the beancurd skin which takes about a couple minutes in that simmering stock. Remove and set aside.
  • Next you boil the napa cabbage and carrots. You leave the carrots in the stock to simmer for a good 3 to 4 minutes. While the napa cabbage only takes 1 minute to boil. remove both respectively and set aside.
  • After that you proceed to boil the fish maw in the stock. This one will take about 10 minutes. So just leave it in the stock to simmer. After 10 minute, it should be soft, so remove and set aside for use.
  • Last but not least, the Fa-cai! All we need to do it put it on a fine sieve and dip it in the stock. Then remove and set aside for use later...again. :P
  • Once the abalone can is cooled, open and remove the abalone from the can and save the abalone water for use later.
So yay! We finally finish all the preparation! Check out all the ingredients.
But before all that, you have to make sure you have a good trusty claypot to contain all the good stuff you prepared. Lucky me, I bought this really nice Tanyu clay pot from Orchard TANGS recently. It was going at a 20% sale, yay! It is 22cm diameter which can fit a standard size chicken nicely. :) And the design on the clay pot is super nice too heehee. :D Go grab yours now, sales end before CNY!

Now we assemble! 
The bottom layer will be the chicken mushroom stir fry.
Spread it out. Next layer is adding the fish maw:
Then over the fish maw, we place the bean curd over.
At this point, we pour about 1 to 1.5 cups of the reserved abalone stock in. Yes, DO NOT throw the water away, it is really flavorful and it will make your Pen cai so good!
Now we top it off with the Napa Cabbage.
Then top it with the roast pork, prawns, scallops and fish pieces.
Lastly, we add in the Fa-cai and the carrots and we are complete!
YooHoo! Finally, we are done! This dish is truly a labor of love! But again it ain't rocket science, just takes a wee bit more time then just cooking other dishes. It's all about the "art" of knowing how to assemble all the good stuff together in one BIG pot. :)

I am truly happy that this turned out great. My kids whom aren't that big on dried scallops or abalone, actually love eating this Pen Cai. I guess having it together makes the difference too. So hopefully my post will motivate more people out there to try this out. No pain no gain haha! Try it and let me know.

Have a great weekend ahead and Happy Gooooat year ahead !