Wednesday, February 29, 2012

David Lebovitz's crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies

Everyone in the family loves chocolate chip cookies.

More specifically, famous amos chocolate chip cookies! In fact, all our (piggies and me) cookie bakes have been geared towards getting the same flavor, taste, texture and smell of the great famous amos cookie. We are still no closer to the chase (> <)..

But I must say David Lebovitz's choc chip cookies are absolutely delish! This is a very american version of choc chip cookies - the crispy, chewy kind. And piggies really like it. So do I. I've never had choc chip cookie cravings before.. I'm not that big on cookies. But I actually wanted some yesterday!

David Lebovitz's crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies (adapted from smitten kitchen)

100g caster sugar
120g brown sugar (I used 100g)
115g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
200g chocolate chips
100g of nuts or raisins or dried fruit (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celcius.  (I baked mine at 165 degrees)

2. Beat sugars and butter till light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla extract till combined.

3. Fold in flour, baking soda and salt.

4. Mix in chocolate chips, nuts/dried fruits if using.

5. Bake for 18 minutes, or until pale golden brown. (I baked for 22 minutes)

Baby and I tried this recipe last week but I didn't get the chance to post the photos as the camera had to take a trip to Germany. But since I baked another delicious batch today, I just had to share how yummy this recipe is.. without the photos taken earlier.

The cookies are really not big on looks. They are kinda pale due to the short baking time. But the taste is really, really good - crisp on the outside, chewy soft inside. It's a change from the usual all-crisp cookie that I bake. But like all american cookies, they are excruciatingly sweet! I don't recommend halving the sugar, maybe just a little, if you really must. Because if there's anything we learnt from our many "famous amos" cookie experiments, is NOT to reduce the sugar too much and use ONLY white sugar if you want crisp cookies! This recipe is a KEEPER! (^^)

Crispy, chewy soft yummy-licious good!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ultimate quiche lorraine

What do you do with leftover whipping cream? You make quiche, of course!

I haven't made quiche for at least 5 years. I remember making it quite often then, but probably stopped due to the fact it is a very FAT-tening dish. Quiche isn't really that high in calories, but it always is after I finish adding all the extra ingredients like ham, luncheon meat, bacon and corned beef!

wild combo of onions, luncheon meat and corned beef!

And chubby big brother loves it with all the works! In fact, he was the one who suggested that I should add all the "bad-for-the heart, good-for-the-belly" stuff! (^^). Anyways, I'm too lazy to get ham or bacon today. So it's just luncheon meat and corned beef. But feel free to mix your own combo of meat, you can't go wrong.

Ultimate quiche lorraine (recipe adapted from easy bake by alan ooi)

Short crust pastry
200g plain flour
a pinch of salt
110g unsalted butter
2 tbsp cold water

Filling (my extreme version)
150g yellow big onions
190g luncheon meat (a small tin)
220g corned beef (half a tin of Libby's)
some butter or oil, for cooking
2 eggs, beaten
200g dairy whipping cream
70g fresh milk
salt & pepper, for seasoning
60g cheddar cheese, grated
40g parmesan cheese

1. Prepare pastry. Mix flour, salt and butter until you get crumbs. Add water to form dough. Press to tart mould/s and refrigerate.

2. Make filling. Cook onion till brown and soft. Add luncheon meat and corned beef to onions, and cook, if you wish.

3. Beat eggs, cream and milk together. Season if you wish. I didn't because I feel that the luncheon meat and corned beef is already salty and tasty enough.

4. Spread onion and meat mixture on pastry shell and pour egg mixture over. Sprinkle grated cheddar and parmesan over the filling. Be as generous as you want.

5. Bake on 180 degrees Celcius for about 40-50 minutes, or until the top is golden. If using small moulds, baking period could be shorter, around 30 minutes.

This really is the ULTIMATE quiche lorraine, UNCENSORED! The pastry is soft and flaky, just the way I like it.. and it's so subtle and buttery, perfectly complementing the extreme filling! And the combo of eggs, sweet onions, dairy and meat is really ooh-la-la out-of-this world SUPREME! However, I recommend eating this "extreme" dish with caution (^^||).. it is not exactly artery-friendly..

But this really is TO DIE FOR!!! (^^)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cream cheese pound cake

I love cheese! Any way, every way.

Especially cheesecakes. But I've been banned from making cheesecakes by papa pig (> <), and have to settle for something lighter. So I made cream cheese chiffon cake (which flopped big time, so we will not go there) and cream cheese pound cake today. I'm being ambitious, baking 2 cakes at one go, as I have 2 packs of tatura cream cheese to get rid of. However both recipes uses very little cream cheese.. as such I'm still stuck with 1 expired pack (> <||).

Cream cheese pound cake (recipe adapted from the little teochew)

150g unsalted butter
150g cream cheese
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
200g flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
4 tbsp fresh milk (optional, I added milk "hoping" the cake will come out more moist)

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celcius.

2. Beat butter and cream cheese till smooth. Add sugar and beat till light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time, till well combined. Mix in lemon zest and vanilla extract.

4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and sift well. Mix into batter in 3 batches. Add milk and mix till combined.

5. Pour into a 7-inch square tin or your preferred tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

I do not know the difference between a butter cake and a pound cake. And after baking this cake, I still can't tell. Ingredients? Texture? It still baffles me! It looks the same, taste almost the same, texture also almost the same, maybe a bit more dense and heavier... otherwise almost everything's the same! I guess a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet (^^)

I'm quite pleased with how the cake turned out, even though I did think that the top was a teeny weeny dry. Maybe because I baked too long at 50 minutes as per original recipe? Anyways, next time I'll bake for 45 minutes and see what happens. I might also add 2 extra tbsp of milk and beat the egg whites with half the sugar till stiff.

I can't taste much of cream cheese just yet.. maybe the taste will develop after letting it sit overnight (if there's any left, that is..). Anyways, fatty hubby really liked this cake and enjoyed a huge portion over a cup of coffee. And my piggies finished almost a quarter of the cake in one sitting. Does that tell you how good the cake is? (^^)

Perfect for tea.. or coffee.. anytime (^^)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cordyceps soup

I'm really not big on soups. And definitely not chinese herbal soups.

But fatty hubby is. He was practically fed nutritious soup daily by his mama, till he married me. And I don't do soups.. Anyways, while I was out shopping with a friend at a chinese medical hall cum supermarket, we came across this bag of readily assembled herbs to make soup. All you need to do is the add meat and a nutritious soup is ready for consumption. So I thought I'd make some for fatty.. and myself too, since I felt faint twice yesterday. Probably, low blood pressure again..can do with some nourishment, I think.

Unfortunately, the cordyceps soup is not my cup of tea.I really don't like the smell and taste of most chinese herbs. Mum didn't use much of chinese herbs in her cooking and not growing up on such things, haven't exactly endeared me to these kind of ingredients. Though the cordyceps was ok (it doesn't have much smell or taste), the herb sachet smelled horrid. I couldn't stand the smell and took it out of the soup almost immediately after putting it in!

Anyways, no worries. I added grated ginger, minced garlic, yamasa soy sauce and mirin to the cordyceps soup and VOILA! we have a yummy soup that tastes a teeny weeny bit of bak kut teh soup. A delicately sweet (added loads of pork spare ribs) nourishing soup for fatty hubby and me!

Fatty likes! So do I!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentine's!

It's Valentine's day! A perfect excuse to bake and cook to my heart's content!

be my valentine

And what better way to celebrate valentine's day with all things SWEET.. and STRAWBERRIES!

I've been meaning to do something special for big pig for a while now. Since he tasted strawberry shortcake, the american version, he's been raving about how good and special it is. I think it's the novelty of having this kind of strawberry shortcake that makes him drool. The american version is not at all popular here, as opposed to the light, sponge-cake japanese version.

After many searches, I decided to make smitten kitchen's strawberry shortcake. And it's absolutely lovely! I can now understand Big's "thing" over american strawberry shortcake. Though the shortcake does look quite a lot like scones, it tastes way, way better than scones. This shortcake is really nice and moist, and has a zesty tang. My shortcake probably didn't rise as much as it should, as I only used 3/4 tbsp baking powder as opposed to 2 tbsp as per recipe. It's not much to look at, but it's absolutely scrumptious! I've never been a fan of scones.. but I LOVE this shortcake!

Flat shortcakes

You'd think that's all I did this afternoon, right? Wrong! You think I'd let such a good opportunity pass.. it's a free pass day today! Papa pig who? ^^

Last night I read daily delicious's post on white chocolate cups: soft mousse with strawberries.. a simple dessert for valentine's and I couldn't resist! It looked so pretty and easy, I had to make this too.

So was it as good as it looks? I'm quite sure it would have been.. if only my white chocolate didn't fail me. The white chocolate that I used had a 'funny' after taste, which kind of spoiled the taste.. and maybe, the texture too, which I thought was rather heavy. I would have liked it better if it was lighter. Anyways, it's not too bad, but it wasn't great either. I'd still like to make this again, but not with this brand of white chocolate!

I was so ambitious this afternoon, I tried to make tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlets) too, recipe from just hungry. I don't normally fry stuff, and this is probably my 2nd time.. And failed miserably. I was expecting nice, golden chops like what you get in the restaurants. But it was nowhere near 'golden'! It was a mess of brownish tints! So much for my deep-frying attempts.

grilled 'vintage' cheddar pork chops

I gave up after frying 2 pork chops and decided to grill the rest. I topped the chops with some grated 'vintage' cheddar cheese. Result? Looks much better than the deep-fried version. Taste wise, the deep fried chops were more juicy and succulent. Next time I would bake first and then grill to brown the crust.

Anyways it's been a wonderful day. An adrenalin-rush afternoon! A sugar-rush evening! What more can a girl ask for!

LOVE you, piggies! I LOVE you, fatty hubby (^ ^)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Grilled pork ribs (doeji kalbi gui)

I love korean grilled meat.

But I don't always get to order bbq at our favorite korean restaurants, as there's usually a minimum order of 2 portions of meat required.. which is just too much for fatty hubby and me. So we usually end up eating our other favorite korean dishes like bibimbap and yuk gae jang.

I've always had a soft spot for korean food.. ok, I'm MAD about korean food.. and dramas and almost all things korean!!! There's a robustness and homey-ness about korean dishes that is oh-so familiar and endearing. Perhaps it's the use of garlic, ginger and chilli powder that evokes such "warm" feelings. Whatever it is, it is hitting the best spot in my belly (^^). 

I was not planning on cooking doeji kalbi gui today. But I suddenly remembered to look up my favorite korean recipe book, korean favorites ~ periplus mini cookbook.. and found this scrumptious spicy dish.

Grilled Pork Ribs ~ Doeji Kalbi Gui

As there's no mention on how to cook the meat using the oven in the recipe, I used the grill function at 200 degrees Celcius, and grilled for 30 minutes. And even though I didn't turn the meat, it still cooked perfectly.

This is a really easy, and delicious dish to prepare. Best served with hot rice. My kind of dinner ~ a hot 'n spicy dish with rice (^^|||).. yums!

Hot and piquant on its own, but even better with rice! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Best moist butter cake EVER!

Butter cake always feels like an unchallenging bake..  it just sounds too easy.. That equals boring in my books. 

As such, I've never felt inclined to bake the "simple" butter cake. Further more, most butter cakes or cupcakes that I've eaten are usually dry. Even the supposedly expensive "good" cupcakes too. And the worst ones, are the ones with the fake sweet buttery aroma! Eeewww...

Anyways, I started baking butter cakes upon a friend's request after many many cheesecake bakes. And I thought it was going to be a breeze. How wrong I was! I failed at EVERY attempt to bake the perfect butter cake, in taste and texture, for at least 4 years!

But I've finally found my PERFECT butter cake last december. After all the misses in the past using recipes straight from different cookbooks and even online, I've come up with a FAIL-PROOF recipe combining the best from malaysia bestnasi lemak lover (tried her recipe, nice.. but not what I was looking for as it's more egg-y sponge cake like), my kitchen snippets and other bloggers. This is my version of the BEST BUTTER CAKE EVER! Guaranteed success in rise, moistness and texture. 

Best Moist Butter Cake 

250g SALTED butter (use Golden Churn Butter, or extremely good quality salted butter)
100g CASTER sugar
4 eggs, SEPARATE yolk and whites 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
230g self-raising flour, SIFTED (250g will not hurt too, don't worry)
6 tbsp fresh milk (use best milk possible ie. Farmhouse or your favorite ^^)
90g CASTER sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Beat butter and 100g sugar till light and fluffy. Don't over beat. Just till it turns a shade lighter/paler and the sugar is still slightly grainy. I beat mine around 3-4 minutes on high with my electric mixer.

3. Add egg YOLKs one at time and mix in well. On slow speed. Batter should turn creamy and kinda stiff.

4. Mix in vanilla extract. Beware of poor quality vanilla essence that smells like butterscotch or caramel, looks a pale amber and liquid thin. It's ok to use vanilla essence, I do (^^).. just get the better quality ones. 

5. Quickly fold in self raising flour in 2 batches.

6. Add in milk and combine gently. Batter should be soft now. 

7. In a clean bowl, beat egg WHITES till frothy and then add in the 90g sugar in batches/bit by bit. Beat till stiff and shiny. 

8. Add egg whites mixture to butter batter in 2 batches. Fold in quickly but GENTLY. 

Bake in 2 - 12 cupcake tin for 25 minutes, or an 8 inch round / square tin, or loaf pans for 50minutes.

This is what I made today to feed my little piggies as I wasn't too confident that they will like carrot cupcakes.

vanilla dreams or screams

Anyways, I did make a promise to chubby pig that I'll top his best store bought butter cupcake, vanilla skies. And mine's called vanilla dreams or screams.. depending on whether they like it (^^) or not (> <).

Oh, I topped the cupcakes with this dreamy vanilla frosting. Tastes like vanilla ice-cream.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

250g UNSALTED butter
200g icing sugar, SIFTED
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
2 tbsp fresh milk

1. Beat butter till soft and smooth.

2. Add icing sugar till light and fluffy.

3. Mix in vanilla extract and fresh milk. Combine till smooth.

Personally, half the recipe is good enough to frost this butter cake recipe. Which is what I did. Anyways, don't bother with how the frosting looks. It's how it tastes that matter (^^). I can't frost and you should know by now.

"best" vanilla dreams

And yes! It's VANILLA DREAMS all right (^^). Pricey vanilla skies move aside!

Can you see the oh-so moist and oh-so perfect texture of the cake? It really tastes as good as it looks, believe me. Everyone loved it! More so than the carrot cake with sublime lemon cream cheese frosting. Only big pig prefers the carrot cake more.. baby and chubby had 1 piece each right before dinner and another right after dinner! Almost everyone else had seconds. And that's two at a go, immediately after dinner!

Fatty hubby had his right after supper after dinner! He loves it! It's a perfect day (^^)


p.s I've found the perfect frosting for my perfect cake ~ swiss meringue buttercream! (^^) updated on 23rd June 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting

I like good carrot cakes!

But it's not very often you get really good ones outside. I once discovered a shop that made carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting that really hit the right spot with EVERYONE in the family, including baby pig. I think they used butter in their cake.

It's unfortunate that we do not patronise this shop any more. It's really sad when the owners can't decide on the price, short-changing the ingredients, or whether to make a cake or a flat (?) cupcake/muffin. The price keeps increasing every time I visit, but the ingredients and cake got smaller??!!! And all this happened within 3 weeks! I gave up..

Anyways, why is it that most carrot cake recipes uses sunflower or some neutral oil? Maybe to keep up with the healthy theme.. carrots.. get it?

After comparing the many recipes online, it looks like making carrot cake using sunflower oil is just like making hummingbird cake.. just mix everything together. Sounds easy.. I like it already. But I love my BUTTER. And I have a really nice recipe using butter.. but I think I'll save it for another day. Today, I'm going to make my first carrot cake using sunflower oil... ok, so I added some butter (^^||)

Carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting (adapted from many recipes found online ie. delicious asian, fatboy bakes)

250g self raising flour
200g soft brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp nutmeg powder (I would use less or omit this next time)
a pinch of salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup / 250ml sunflower oil (I used 125ml sunflower oil and 125ml melted butter ^^ )
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium carrots, grated
60g raisins
60g dried cranberries
a handful of walnuts, chopped (optional)

Lemon cream cheese frosting

250g cream cheese
50g butter
200g icing sugar, SIFTED and mix in 2 batches (I did, and it worked out really well)
1 lemon, grated rind and a bit of juice

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. In a bowl, mix grated carrots, mixed fruit and chopped walnuts together.

3. Combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon powder. Add vanilla extract, eggs and oil to the dry ingredients.

4. Then stir in the carrots, fruit and nuts mixture. DO NOT BEAT mixture.

5. Pour into cupcake pans, or 2 - 8 inch pans and bake for 30 minutes. I made 12 cupcakes and the rest of the batter, I poured into 2 - 6 inch pans and made a cake (^^)

Leave to cool before frosting. 

For the cream cheese frosting, just beat the cream cheese and butter together till light and fluffy. Add icing sugar and beat till smooth. And finally add lemon rind and a dash of lemon juice.

Look at my perfectly domed cupcake! I'm so pleased with the result! Cupcakes and me have a thing going on for the longest time. My cakes may turn out perfect on a tin, but it hardly turns out right when I make them into cupcakes! It's either lopsided, or the cupcake paper cup doesn't work or fit the pan, especially the nicest looking ones (?!).

Haha! Look again! Perfect! I've finally found the right paper cup, size and all.. and it worked! Yay! And I must say a big thank you to all those out there who shared the tip of using an ice-cream scoop for pouring the batter into the cupcake paper. It works! No mess and makes work so much easier! Oh, the joy of getting an ice-cream scoop (^^)!

The cake texture is really nice and moist. But I can't really taste the carrot flavor just yet. The spices seems to have 'over-powered' the rest. Maybe it'll turn out different, and taste even better tomorrow (^^). They almost always do.

I like the cranberries and raisins in the cake, but I'm not too sure if my little piggies, baby and chubby, will like it. But I'm counting on my 'killer-weapon', the lemon cream cheese frosting. Little piggies are really suckers for frosting. And the frosting is just SUBLIME! I really really love this frosting. I'm going to use this recipe FOREVER. And for the first time, I actually piped out the frosting instead of slapping it on. Look how pretty and tidy it turned out. I'm quite proud of myself today (^^)

I've topped the frosting with some chopped walnuts, which I didn't add to the cake batter. I remember mama pig saying that nuts topped frosting takes the cake to another level. I agree.

The lemon cream cheese frosting is AMAZING!!! Who cares about the cake???

Dried oyster porridge

I've never been a fan of dried oysters! And shiitake mushrooms and radish!

They all smell so bad to me, I'd run a mile when someone cooks any of those stuff! But all 3 ingredients are ALWAYS cooked during Chinese New Year.. aaargh!

Anyways, during our trip home to Kuantan for the chinese new year last week, we stopped by a shop selling dried stuff like oysters, scallops, anchovies, fish maw, baby shrimps, and the very famous kuantan "ham yue" aka salted fish. We were not planning to buy much until I spotted, or rather 'smelled' some dried oysters. They were huge! And they looked really fresh and juicy! They still smell bad, though.

Dried oyster, otherwise known as "ho see" in chinese, has a very good connotation, especially so during chinese new year. "Ho see" means good things, an abundance of good things.. and to the chinese, this is very very good (^^)

As turned off as I was with the smell, the dried oysters looked so succulent, that I couldn't resist buying some for ourselves, MIL and fatty hubby's bosses. A good way to start the new year on the right foot with the bosses, don't you think? (^^)

Anyways, woke up real early today to cook dried oyster porridge with minced meat for fatty hubby, who loves dried oysters.. shiitake mushrooms and all!

Dried oyster porridge with minced meat

1 cup rice (used 2/3 brown rice and 1/3 normal rice)
8-10 cups water
6-10 pcs of dried oysters (depending on size and personal preference)
1cm of ginger, grated or minced finely
100g of minced pork
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
A bit of corn flour (optional)
Salt to taste
Sesame oil to taste
Spring onion, to garnish (optional)

1. Wash dried oysters. Soak dried oysters in hot/warm water for 30 minutes. Keep water and add to porridge later.

2. Marinate minced pork with soy sauce, oyster sauce and some corn flour for 30 minutes.

3. Boil rice and add dried oysters, minced ginger and minced pork till cooked. Season with salt.

4. Add some sesame oil and spring onion before serving.

So what did I do wrong? I soaked the dried oysters twice and threw away the water. They smell especially 'fishy' soaked in water (> <). Aunt says that I've washed the flavor away, doing that. And I should have added the water to the porridge.

No wonder I thought the taste of the porridge was quite nice (^ ^), no strong-fishy flavor. I thought the minced ginger took away the 'fishy-ness'. By the way, I think the koreans really got it right about the use of grated/minced ginger and ginger juice in their cooking. Beats sliced ginger anytime! Can't see, can't taste, can't feel.. really good! And best of all.. all dishes taste amazing!