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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chocolate Banana Quick Cake - Tish Boyle

Hey, guys, as promised, I'm sharing this wonderful cake recipe and unlike my recent posts, this recipe does not come from Australian Women's Weekly.. kakakka    I'm taking a break from that cook book for now.

Well, I am one person who will only purchase a cookbook with plenty of visuals.  I'm not a fan of a cookbook with no pictures or very few of them, no matter if the review is super good or not.

Having said that, I do own one of Tish Boyle's recipe book and if you own her book entitled 'The Cake Book', you will know what I mean by saying that it has not many pictures in it.  And how come I own one you might ask since I'm not one for only full of text kind of book, well, I've been influenced by my sis who recommended this book to me.  She's all but singing praise for this book.  So, I thought, hey, this is my sis.  If she says it's good, then it's good.

I've tried one or two of Tish's recipes and they are good.  I ate this Chocolate Banana cake when I visited my sis one weekend and it was super duper yummy.  She then told me that it's from Tish Boyle's recipe, so I decided to make this and brought some for my colleagues to try.  They simply love it. Thank you sis, for your good judgement in always purchasing full boring text cookbooks.. hehehe.. you know what I mean. 

Even though with limited pictures in the book, this book I have to admit, has good recipes.  To me when I select my books, a good recipe and equally tempting mouthwatering clicks go hand in hand.  By reading the recipe, I can gauge if the recipe book is good to buy or otherwise....     Most times I made good purchase but at times, not so good as well.  Pictures sometimes can fool you but you need to use some good judgement and common sense when purchasing a good cook book.  After making a few bad decision, you'll find the tricks and tips the next time you want to make a purchase.  I guess for cook book collector like me can relate to what I'm trying to say here.  Anyway, let's proceed with the recipe shall we??

What you will need:

1 1/4 cups (151g) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (23g) Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar (I used brown sugar)
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups (320ml) mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium sized bananas)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup (121g) sour cream
4 ounces (113g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Here's how you do it:

- Pre heat oven to 180dC, grase bottom and sides of a 9" loaf pan.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl.  Whisk to combine, set aside.
- With electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 min. Gradually beat in the sugar at high speed until blended.
- At medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
- Add mashed bananas and vanilla at low speed until blended.
- Add the flour mixture at low speed in three additions, alternating with the sour cream.
- Remove from mixer stand and stir in chopped chocolate and scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 55 - 60 mins or until done.  Cool cake pan on wire rack for 15 mins and unmold cake.  Cool completely.

The texture of this cake is so moist and soft with good flavor of the bananas.  The melted chocolate chunks add the gooey-ness of the cake.  I love this! Especially with a cup of hot tea!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pecan Pie

I am in the mood to bake this weekend.  No idea on what to bake but just wanted to bake something.  So I posted on Facebook for suggestions and a friend of mine suggested Pecan Pie.  Although I have been wanting to make this pie for quite awhile but some how, didn't attempt to try until now.  Thanks to my friend, I finally made it.

I always thought that the process is so complex but to my surprise, it's so simple with not much effort at all!

Since my sisters and their family came over for dinner yesterday, I decided to make this for dessert.  All of us love it. I shall make this again and again for sure.. it tasted like butterscotch but with just the right level of sweetness.  Mmm..mmm..mmm!!

And guess what?  Where did I get this simple recipe from?  Wanna guess?  If you have been following my recent posts, I bet you can guess it... yup, bingo!  The Australian Women's Weekly!  None other than... kakakakka   

So here's this wonderful recipe which you must try.. you must you must!

1 cup plain flour (I like the crust to be thicker, I recommend 1 1/2 cups)
90g butter (if use 1 1/2 cup flour, suggest to use 135g)
2 tbsp water (3 tbsp)
- Sift flour into bowl, rub in butter.  Add enough water to make ingredients cling together.
- Press dough into ball, knead gently on lightly floured surface until smooth; cover, refrigerate 30 mins.
- Roll dough on lightly floured surface large enough to line 24cm round loose based flan tin.  Lift pastry into tin gently, ease into side, trim edge.
- Place tin on oven tray, line patry with paper, fill with dried beans or rice, blind bake in moderately hot (190dC) oven for 10 mins, remove paper and beans, bake further 10 mins or until pastry is lightly browned.
- Pour filling into pastry case, bake in moderately slow oven (160dC) for 55 mins or until set; cool.

3 eggs, light beaten
3/4 cup light corn syrup or golden syrup
1 cup brown sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
30g butter, melted
1 1/4 cups (125g) pecan nuts
- Combine all ingredients in bowl, mix well.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!


And today, I baked Chocolate Banana Quick Cake which shall be featured in my next post.. guess where did I get this recipe from?  You sure you guessed it right? Well,  let's wait till then ok.. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mocha Truffle Cake

My son turned 16 last month and he wanted me to bake him a cake.  So I baked this Chocolate Truffle Cake from The Australian Women's Weekly recipe.  Yup, again from that recipe  Now do you believe me that I'm crazy over The Australian Women's Weekly??   

I'm a big fan of The Australian Women's Weekly recipes as I find that at most times, you don't need to make any adjustments to the recipes.  They are all perfect and the cakes are all moist and delicious and not too sweet.  Whenever I feel like baking and want to bake something out of norm but just don't know what to bake, well, out comes this book.  I do, mind you, have quite a few of The Australian Women's Weekly cook books and I love all of them.

I like to challenge myself to do a slightly more complicating recipe than the ones I had baked.. well, again it depends on whether I'm in the mood to be adventurous or if I'm lazy.  For this particular cake, well, you can say that it's not very difficult for me and the word 'trufle' caught my eyes.  I would however, try to bake a more complex ones like the Dobos Torte,a 7-layer cake.  Wow!  Let's see..when I have the sudden 'oh I must bake this now' kinda feeling and when I do, I'll definitely tell you all about it. 

So here's the recipe for Choc Truffle Cake.  This cake is so chocolaty dense and moist.  One word to describe it... HEAVENLY!! Especially for chocolate lovers like me and my family.

3 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cornflour
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp Tia Maria or Kahlua
2 tbsp milk
2x300ml cartons thickened cream
100g white chocolate, melted
200g dark chocolate, melted

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup whipping cream/thickened cream
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Method: Boil cream until bubbling, take it off heat.  Put in the choc chips and let it melt into the hot cream.

1. Grease 23cm round cake pan, cover base with paper and grease.
2. Beat eggs with electric mixer until thick and creamy, gradually add sugar, beat well.
3. Lightly fold in sifted flours and cocoa, spread mixture into prepared pan.  Bake in moderate oven 180dC for 30 mins or until firm.  Turn onto wire rack to cool.
4. Split cake in half, brush with combined liqueur and milk.
5. Beat cream until soft peaks form, divide into 2 bowls. Quickly stir cooled white chocolate into one bowl of the cream and cooled dark choc into the other bowl of cream.

Assemble cake:
1. Place 1 cake half into a springform pan and spread cake with half of the white choc cream and top with dark chocolate cream. Then spread with the remaining which choc cream.
2. Top with the other half of cake.  Refrigerate cake for several hours or overnight until firm.
3. Carefully remove cake from pan and spread with chocolate ganache.  Chill before serve.

HAPPY 16th BIRTHDAY, Son.. Enjoy just being 16.  Love ya much... muachk!

Friday, March 21, 2014

New York Cheesecake

Oh my gosh! It's already almost end of March which means 1Q14 is almost over.  It does seems like the globe is spinning faster and faster each day.  Anyway, do you know that most of 'creative' people are born in the month of March?  Err..hmm.. wink wink. lol

Today, I want to share with you this wonderful wonderful recipe from The Australian Women's Weekly on New York Cheesecake.  If you love the creamy smoothness of real cheesecake, you don't want to miss this.

Easy to make and delicious to eat!  Try it..

250g plain sweet biscuits (I used digestive)
125g melted butter

750g cream cheese, softened (I used only 500g as I think 750g is a bit too cheesy)
2 tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
3 eggs
180g (3/4 cup) sour cream
60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice

Sour cream topping:
240g (1 cup) sour cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

1. Process biscuits until fine or put them in a plastic bag and using a rolling pin, crushed them to fine crumbs.  Mix the butter in and press mixture over base and side of 24cm springform tin.  Place tin on oven tray, refrigerate 30 mins.
2. Preheat oven to 180/160dC fan-forced.
3. Make the filling by beating cheese, rinds and sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth.  beat in egss, one at a time, then cream and juice.
4. Pour filling into tin, bake 1 hour or until the sides are brown but jiggly in the center.  Remove from oven, cool 15 mins.
5. Make the sour cream topping by combining all ingredients in small bow, spread over cheesecake.
6. Bake cheesecake for another 20 mins, cool in oven with door ajar.
7. Refrigerate cheesecake 3 hours or overnight.

Nothing beats homemade!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Nyonya Pineapple Tarts

G O N G   X I   F A   C A I ,    E V E R Y O N E!

It's time to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous Chinese New Year! May the year of the Horse brings you an abundance of good luck, good fortune, good health and much joy.

The first cookie to be eaten for this auspicious celebration should be this authentic Nyonya Pineapple Tarts.  Why?  Because pineapple is called 'Ong Lai' in Hokkien dialect which means luck has come.  In Chinese community, everything and anything that is considered 'good' will be largely consumed or celebrated on such auspicious occasion.

Here, I present to you the authentic Nyonya Pineapple Tarts.  My family and I love to eat this tart.  Some would call this a cookie but actually it's not.  The pineapple jam should not be too sweet.  If too much sugar is used in cooking the jam, you will not get the taste of sweet-sourness of the pineapple.  That slight sourness of the pineapple that compliments the pastry.  The store bought jam is usually loaded with sugar and they thicken it with cornflour so that less pineapple is used.  Pineapples are not that cheap.  So for commercially processed jam, all that matters is the profit and not the taste.  That's why I don't buy commercialized pineapple tarts.  I'd prefer to make them although it is a very tedious process at making them.  So, I only do this once in every few years.. :) - provided I'm in the mood to be 'hardworking'! lol

The secret to making this tart is in the kneading of the pastry.  I don't exactly have the right measurement of the margarine used.  My late mom thought my sisters and I when we were younger on how to 'feel' the dough when making this tart.  The dough should not be too dry or too wet.  That's why most people who do not have the 'right' method or tricks in kneading the dough but rather follow the recipe book, may not get the right texture or taste for this tart.  So, I guess my siblings and I are rather lucky to have learned the tricks first hand.

There's really nothing to it if you know how.. wink! wink!

So, here's the recipe for the ingredients and I try to give you the exact measurement as I can...

Pineapple Jam:
3-4 large pineapple (try to get the ripe ones)
Granulated Sugar to taste (approx. 500g, depending on the natural sweetness of the pineapples)
(I know that some families use spices like the star anise or cinnamon sticks when prepare this jam.  My family prefer not to use the spices.  We like the natural taste of the pineapple that is not being overwhelmed by the spices)

1. Cut the pineapple and cut out the 'eyes'.  Chopped into bite sizes.
2. Blend the pineapple and strain.  Run it over clean water and leave to strain for an hour or so.
3. Cook the pineapple in a wok, keep stirring for about 45 mins, then add sugar.  Cook until pineapple is almost dry and the color changes to darker golden yellow.  Leave to cool before use.  Can be frozen for a couple of months.

600gm wheat flour
250gm margarine (has to be margarine.  Do not use butter) - add more as needed
1/2 cup hot salted water (hot water mix with 1/2 tsp salt)
3 egg yolks
1 egg white

1. Rub flour with margarine.  Texture should not be too sandy or too 'wet'.  When you pinch the dough together, it should be able to hold the shape.
2. Add the egg yolks and the egg white.  Knead well and add the salted water.
3. Roll out the dough and use the tart mould to cut out the tart discs.  Fill the center with pineapple jam.
4. Use the same dough to make the center pattern.  However, the original version, for the pattern dough, do the same for the pastry dough but add more egg whites to it so that it'll be stiffer and stretchable.
5. Brush egg wash on the pastry and bake at 160d C until the pastry is golden brown.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blueberry Sourcream Cupcake

This weekend has been quite a busy one.  Well, most weekends are kinda busy in my household but this weekend, we managed to buy Chinese New Year clothes for my kids.  Chinese New Year is just round the corner, at the end of January.  For the next two weekends, I'll be tied up baking Chinese New Year cookies.  My nieces and nephews will be waiting to put their hands in the cookie jars... lol

Not only did we managed to do some shopping, I also had my hair cut short.  Yup, really short and don't ask me why.  I guess it's just that sometimes you have that spur of a moment to do something so not you and this I guess, was the crazy moment for me.  Although the thought has been lingering at the back of my mind for weeks but never really wanted to do it until yesterday.  Was undecided as I love long hair.  Have been having long hair for ages.  So I asked my hubby's opinion and he said 'Cut'.  So I went for it.  If I had waited, I might not have the guts to do it.  Anyway, so it's short now and my head felt so light and free.  Not only that, I decided to go another step further with my hair.  Colored it Caramel Brown.  My hair is really black although I've noticed a few strands of grey lately.  I had my hair dyed many many years ago but the dye didn't stick to my hair.  I tried a few times back then but all didn't work.  I then learned that if I wanted to color my hair, I had to treat it first by bleaching.  Bleaching??  No way I'm gonna bleach my hair.. So after many many many years have passed, I thought okay, since I have a few strands of grey, probably this time it will absorb the color..then, guess what.. same thing.  My hair is still black and not brown.  Well, maybe if under direct sunlight, hopefully, hopefully, it will show some highlight to it.. anyway, so much for having a new hair color for the Chinese New Year... kakakaka

So, hair dye doesn't really work.  Now, I know what works.. let's bake some cupcakes!  Yay.. This is Martha Stewart's Blueberry Cupcakes.  How you want to serve it with, really depends on your creativity.  Here, I cut the cupcakes in half and since I have some leftover chocolate ganache that is slightly thickened, I spread some on the bottom half of the cupcake, top it with the other half, and add a generous dollop of good quality vanilla ice cream.  Not only is it yummy, it looks elegant too.  You can use whip cream with choc fudge drizzle or you can also drench it with some blueberry jam or some sort.  So versatile and don't be afraid to try various flavors of icing or topping.

Cupcake recipe:

1 2/3 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 180d C.  Line paper cups in muffin trays.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix well.
3. On medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy, then add eggs one at a time.  Add in vanilla.
4. Reduce speed to low, beat in flour in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.  Fold in blueberries.  Fill cups 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 mins until cake is done.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Nyonya Assam Prawns

Hi there! My first post for 2014 is this wonderful simple dish.  The Nyonya Assam Prawns.  'Assam' means sour.  In this recipe the 'Assam' actually refers to 'Assam Gelugor' which is Tamarind pulp.

This dish is so versatile.  It's perfect eating on its own but we just love to eat this with hot fluffy rice.  The way to cook this is by using the whole tamarind pulp including the seed as well.  Some people prefer to just use the tamarind juice.  It's personal preference but my late mom loved to cook using the whole tamarind, seed and all.  It's tastier this way. You will be amazed at how ridiculously simple this recipe is and yet it's so so tasty and aromatic.  I hope you will give this a try.

30 medium to large size prawns, cleaned with shell intact
3 - 4 tbsp tamarind pulp with seed mixed with 1 tbsp of water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar

1. Mix all together and marinate for 1/2 hour or longer if preferred.
2. Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in wok and wait till it's really hot before you add in the prawns.  Prawns will release some liquid.  Stir fry until the prawns are almost dry.
3. Serve with hot white rice.