Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I made yummy bak kwa! ^^

Fatty hubby and piggies love bak kwa @ long yoke @ pork jerky. Me, I can pretty much go without it and not miss it at all ^^

But we don't eat much of it these days due to the nitrate scare, and the other additives/preservatives that (might) come with it.

This CNY, fatty hubby and I shared the tiniest piece of bak kwa ever! So fatty still craves for a bite or two, or more! Hence when I told him about the homemade bak kwa I read in mel's blog (thanks, mel ^^), he's been bugging me with.. "when are you going to make bak kwa???"

Bak kwa (recipe inspired by mel@melspantrykitchen, adapted from nasilemaklover)

450g minced pork (I used 100% minced pork belly ~ a mistake! best to use a mixture of lean and fat)
100g sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp chinese rice wine
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp dark caramel sauce
a dash of pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a chopstick. Blend and stir in one direction till the meat comes together or becomes "gluey". Store in the fridge for a few hours (Oops! I missed this part and used immediately! ^^|| no harm, I think :p)

2. Spread the marinated minced pork thinly onto a 13x13 inch baking tray (no need to grease), using fingers to spread.

3. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 160C for 15-20 minutes.

4. Remove baking tray from oven and turn oven to 240C.

5. When meat is cool, cut into desired size and shape using scissors, knife or pizza cutter.. ~ makes 9 pieces.

6. Place meat back into oven and grill (using top heat only) at 240C (I recommend using 230C) for 10 minutes, or when it's golden brown. Then flip meat over and grill for 7 minutes, or till golden brown. Be very careful while grilling, as meat tends to burn very fast at 240C! 

I cannot believe I made bak kwa! So easy! And the best part, EVERYONE loves it! Especially the thick bak kwa over the thin ones ^^! Yes, greedy me made 2 portions! ^^

And now, I'll just leave you with the thought of baby pig licking his bak kwa ^^ It's that good!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pad krapow moo ^^

Thai night ^^!

Pad krapow moo (recipe inspired by chez pim's description)
~ serves 3-4
500g minced pork
6-10 cloves of garlic, minced
4-5 bird's eye chilies, sliced
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet dark soy sauce/kicap manis
some pepper
1 cup/ a big handful of holy basil leaves

1. Heat some oil and saute minced garlic and chillies for a few minutes.

2. Add minced pork and stir fry for a bit till almost cooked. Then add fish sauce, soy sauce and sweet dark soy sauce.

3. Toss basil leaves with the minced meat and give it a quick stir-fry before removing from heat. Serve immediately with rice.. and a runny fried egg for a simple thai meal ^^

I was planning to replicate a crispy pork dish we enjoyed at a thai restaurant some time ago.. but I forgot it was cooked with kaffir lime leaves, not basil leaves ^^|| So dinner became stir-fried minced pork with basil leaves, pad krapow moo, instead ;p

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Toscakaka, swedish caramel almond cake

"Big, would you like a good cake?" That's what baby pig said.. a good cake ^^

Toscakaka, swedish caramel almond cake (recipe posted by poiresauchocolat, adapted from Scandilicious Baking)

70ml milk + 1 tsp lemon juice (= 75ml buttermilk)
3 eggs
150g caster sugar (I used 120g ^^)
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder, sifted
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
75g unsalted butter, melted

150g flaked almonds, preferably lightly toasted
125g butter
125g light brown sugar (I used 100g ^^)
50ml milk (I ran out of milk and used cream instead, no problem ^^)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional, or replace with vanilla)

1. Cake: Whip eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract on medium high for 5 minutes till mixture is very thick. Fold in 1/3 sifted flour+baking powder+salt into egg mixture gently using a big spatula. Drizzle and mix in 1/2 the buttermilk. Repeat with the next 1/3 flour+baking powder, the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour. Finally drizzle half the melted butter and fold in GENTLY. Repeat with the remaining butter, folding GENTLY and scraping the bottom to ensure mixture is well combined. Pour into a lined 8-9" removable bottom round tin (I lined an 8" round tin with a big piece of aluminium foil for easy removal ^^) and tap on the counter once to remove air bubbles. Bake in a preheated oven of 160C/320F for 25-30 minutes or till golden and set.

2. Topping: Put toasted almonds, butter, sugar, milk, salt and espresso powder (or vanilla) into a saucepan over medium heat and stir as the butter melts. Let it bubble and thicken slightly before removing from heat. Pour almonds over baked cake and spread evenly. Turn oven up to 200C/390F and place cake topped with almonds in. Bake for 8-10 minutes till the topping is browned and bubbling. Remove to cool. Best served when cake is cooled to room temperature.

When I read about this cake in poiresauchocolat (thank you! ^^), I just knew this was going to be a delicious bake! But I was distracted by her mention of chez panisse almond tart, and made that first instead ^^ And so, I can now tell you how very alike both the almond toppings are ~ VERY VERY VERY DEEEELICIOUS! ^^

And if you must know, chez panisse almond tart beats toscakaka by just a whisker in my opinion, because of the amazing perfect tart crust.. and perhaps because I messed up a little on the toscakaka sponge cake too, oops.. ^^

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Parmesan, cheddar and caramelized shallot crackers

When I saw Parmesan and Caramelized Shallot Crackers at authenticsuburbangourmet, I knew I had to give them a go! It has big pig's name all over it! ^^

So I decided this was going to be his valentine, baked in advance.. I can come up with all sorts of excuses just to bake.. and feed my piggies ^^.

And these crackers really taste as divine as they sound! They smell incredible too! Think quiche in the oven! It's an amazing treat ^^!

They taste and smell so good and robust that you'll think there's ham (yes, you read right.. ham! ^^) in the crackers. ^^ There's none!

Parmesan, cheddar and caramelized shallot crackers (recipe found on authenticsuburbangourmet and lemonsandanchovies)

2 shallots / medium red onions, sliced thin
Olive oil
8 tbsp / 115g butter, room temperature
4.5 oz parmesan cheese, grated (I used 2.5 oz parmesan + 2 oz cheddar ^^)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1-2 tsp water

1. Saute shallots in olive oil (medium heat) for about 10 minutes, or till shallots are soft, caramelized and golden brown.

2. Add butter, cheese/s, flour and salt in a processor or mixer, and pulse/mix till combined. Add water till the dough comes together. Roll dough into a log with a diameter of 2 inches. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. Slice log into 3/8 inch or 1 cm rounds. Bake in a preheated oven of 350F/175C for 18-22 minutes or till lightly browned.

These are so easy and delicious, you just have to try them yourselves ^^. Big and baby just couldn't stop munching on them! Big loves these and thinks they'll be great for the next get-together ^^. Baby though, says gougeres are still his preferred savory snack ^^.

They were more excited about these crackers than my 8 1/2-hour pineapple tarts! ^^||

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ong (-lai) aka lucky.. or not??!!!.. pineapple tarts

Why did I ever think making pineapple tarts, the enclosed version, is do-able???

Because it looks and sounds easy.. as in all you have to do is roll, wrap and shape them into rounds/balls?? So simple, right?

That's what I thought.. and boy! was I WRONG!

I've never attempted nor seen anyone make pineapple tarts in my life. In my mind, they're a lot of work and difficult to make. However, when I saw the enclosed version in nasilemaklover's blog, I thought how easy she makes it look.. no fancy shaping required, just shape into rounds/balls! How difficult is that? My interest was piqued. And when dearest mel of melspantrykitchen made this recipe right after, I was convinced I should make it one day.. when I find ready-cut pineapples.

So guess what I found at the mall last night? Tubs of ready-cut crystal pineapples! Whoa! Must be my lucky day!.. Or not?!!

Now why didn't anyone warn about how difficult the enclosed version is???!!! Wait, mel, did say it's easier to make nastar rolls.. but I didn't realize/understand what she meant ^^|| I've never used a nastar mould (don't own one either!) nor have I ever done any "enclosed-version" of anything! So I couldn't tell ^^||.

Of course, I totally get what you mean now, mel! after spending 8.5 hours making these pineapple tarts!!! I was working on it from 12.00am to 8.30am!!! That's 1.5 hours of making the filling and 7 hours of trying to shape those balls!

Ok, my point is, this pineapple tart (enclosed version) recipe is NOT for novices!!! And I'm an ignorant novice ^^||!

Well, now that I've shared my thoughts on the difficulty of this bake ^^, I must tell you that this recipe makes a most AWESOMEly beautiful melt-in-the-mouth buttery (real butter ^^!) crust and a most-perfect filling.. every bit worthy of the word "BEST" ^^ I LOOOOOOOOOVE IT!!!

There have been times (I hope to keep this rare ^^) where I unwittingly trap myself into doing a bake that looks and sounds easy, but it's actually not. This recipe, however, takes the cake for that. It's the longest and most difficult yet.. I only finally got the hang of folding/wrapping the dough over the filling after the 66th tart! But it could be just me ^^.

Thanks for sharing the recipe, sonia@nasilemaklover.. and thanks, for the advice, mel.. ^^

Oh, guess what I found at the mall too? A cotton cheongsam that fits! yay! ^^.. makes me look kind of slim when I'm actually not so.. haha! Guess it's true what they say about the cheongsam/qipao ~ it has a slimming effect with the right cut! Happy Chinese New Year! ^^

p.s. i like baking at night.. but didn't expect this would be an all-nighter! ^^

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Old stuff..

My refrigerator's usually full.. but this last two weeks, it looks like it's about to burst at the seams!

 delish petit kumquat almond cakes 

Even fatty hubby who never notices such things, commented on it! ^^||

I suspect it's because I haven't been cooking/baking very much.. but sssshhh, I told fatty it's because of the "stuff(??)" we have to stock for CNY! ^^

Well, I've been trying real hard to "clean" the fridge as much as I can. While I've cleared most of the old fruits to store sweet tangerines (see it's full again!), the rest of the fridge is still a mountain of work ^^||!

Anyway, I've made "some" inroads over the past few days, clearing what's left of the kumquat halves, syrup and puree, minced beef, sour cream, chicken breast meat, kimchi (in a jar that's taking up a lot of space!), rice, canned tuna, chopped nuts and half a block of butter amongst others.

Brown butter banana cake (adapted from christine's easy recipes, also in here, with slight changes)

3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
60g unsalted butter, melted (I used 120g and made brown butter ^^)
1 egg, whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh milk
100-150g sugar, depending on bananas' sweetness
245g all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda,sifted
a pinch of salt
a handful of chocolate chips or more ^^
a handful of toasted walnuts, chopped
a handful of raisins

1. Preheat oven to 170C.

2. Mix all the wet ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Then fold in the dry ingredients till well combined. DO NOT OVERBEAT.

3. Bake in a loaf pan or 2 small tins for 1 hour, or till the skewer comes out clean.

This is not my usual banana cake, but I thought I'd give it a go since I had half a bar of butter to get rid of.. and it looks super easy and quick ^^! And since I've always wondered how chocolate chips and raisins taste in banana cake, I added some too ^^. I like this cake ^^.. it's extra loaded with flavors, moist and spongy-soft.. very nice ^^ And like most cakes, this banana cake shines when it's rested and cooled. ^^

gochujang minced beef served with rice, seaweed and a runny egg ~ yums!

baked chicken tenders with honey mustard sour cream dip ^^ 

very spicy kimchi tomyam fried rice ^^ we like!

While it seems everyone has (almost-)finished their marathon-baking and preparations for CNY, I'm making a wild, mad sprint to spring clean the kitchen/fridge and the rest of the house! At times like these, I wish I had a bigger kitchen to store a bigger fridge and a smaller living space (in an already tiny apartment) so that there's less to clean! Or maybe i should just wish for a maid??? ^^

I really don't prepare much for CNY, no cookies, no ang-ang decorations or whatsoever.. but I really like having a neat and clean house to welcome the new year ^^.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dinner alone made special with avocado ^^

Guess what I found while browsing at tonjiro recipes last night?

An avocado chicken parmigiana recipe at the fussfreechef! ^^

I was totally craving for cheesy food after looking at squishy angie's super bowl food ideas pics! And I had an avocado to clear too. So what luck ^^ to stumble on to a recipe which combines the two!! ^^

This is an easy recipe made super-duper easy (and fuss-free, true to the blogger's name ^^!) with just boneless chicken (salt/pepper to season), egg, milk, breadcrumbs, tomato ketchup ^^, grated mozzarella and avocado ^^.

It's so easy, there's really no need to measure as per recipe, unless you really want to. Ok, lazy moi didn't.. it's a bit of this and a bit of that, and it still turned out amazing ^^! And I love how the fussfreechef omitted the use of flour and replaced tomato paste with ketchup ^^. This is so my kind of cooking! ^^

The avocado chicken parmigiana is not only gorgeous to look at, it's exceptionally delicious too! The flavors are amazing! Thanks for sharing, esther@fussfreechef and ellena@cuisineparadise ^^

p.s. since fatty hubby had dinner with clients last minute, I gave his share to piggies.. mr-difficult-to-please, papa pig, loves it! big and baby couldn't get enough of it! and mama pig barely had a bite ^^! this chicken parmigiana with avocado is definitely a winner! ^^

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chez panisse almond tart

Not quite.

It could've been, but it's just not..

Well, since I've been unsuccessful at dieting (you are right, mel ^^ I'll do it after cny ^^.. maybe!), and I do so miss eating.. I mean, baking!, I decided to reward myself with an almond tart, which I've had my eye on for a while ^^.. unfortunately, it didn't quite turn out the way it should..

Chez Panisse Almond Tart (recipe from the fab david lebovitz)

1 cup / 140g flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup / 115g chilled unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
1 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract (I omitted since I didn't have any ^^||)

1. Mix flour and sugar in a mixer, processor or by hand. Add in chilled butter and mix till it resembles fine crumbs. Then add water and mix till the dough comes together.

2. Press into a flat disk, wrap in plastic/cling wrap and chill thoroughly. I skipped this step and went ahead with step 3 and 4.

3. Put pastry in a greased 9 or 10-inch tart pan by pressing with hand, after letting the dough come to room temperature.

4. Chill the dough thoroughly in the freezer before use.

5. Bake in a preheated oven of 375F / 190C for 20-30 minutes. If there are holes in the shell, patch with leftover dough.

1 cup / 250ml heavy cream (if I make this again, I will only use 200ml!!!)
1 cup / 200g sugar (I used slightly less)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup / 80g sliced almonds (I toasted them before use ^^)
1/8 tsp almond extract (I omitted)
2 tsp Grand Marnier or Amaretto (I omitted)

1. Heat the cream, sugar and salt in a big pot (at least 4L) until it comes to a boil. Continue cooking till it starts to foam up, then remove from heat and stir in the sliced almonds, almond extract and the liquor. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes.

2. Spread the filling evenly onto the shell. And bake at 190C (or 200C?).

3. After 10 minutes, check the tart. Using a heatproof spatula, tap and break the surface of the tart. Continue checking every 5-8 minutes and break up any dry crust forming on the surface. Stop tapping when it begins to caramelize. Tapping is very tiring and hot! Read david lebovitz's very detailed instructions here.

4. Remove tart from oven when the filling is the color of coffee with the slightest bits of cream in it (not big pockets of white filling!), about 30 minutes. I really didn't get the 30 minutes part (??!!) as I was tapping away at imaginary dry bits for almost 20 minutes and the filling was only just about to caramelize at the sides.. I finally took the tart out of the oven after baking for a total of 1 hour.

** Best served when cooled.. shared with lots of family and friends  ^^ 

Alas, my almond tart looks nothing like david's! ^^|| The filling had too much caramelized cream and the sliced almonds practically drowned in them, creating 2 layers in this tart. Nothing like the crisp almond tart in david's pics. Sigh!

Anyway, expecting the worse, I found the tart very good actually ^^. I love the very buttery crust, but beware, it's very crumbly (ok, I might have been too impatient and started to cut the tart while it was still pretty warm ^^ it's much easier and firmer to slice when cooled ^^). The sweet, caramel-y sticky chewy toffee filling was exceptional!!! ^^

Big and baby pig went "mmm.. mmm.. mmm.. mmm.. mmmm.. it's GOOD!" *one thumbs-up 'cos the other was holding on to a piece of tart* ^^ Fatty hubby loves it too.. especially with a cup of coffee. Guess, this didn't turn out too badly at all. ^^

a cross section of my sliced almond tart ~ after I've taken a bite or two ^^

So I wasn't completely honest about saving tummy space for CNY goodies.. ^^ hey, it's just a tiny wedge! ^^

p.s. this is a seriously decadently GOOD tart.. a happy tart ^^ not so good for the arteries or the waistline though! so I highly recommend that you plan ahead to share with lots of people! ^^

Friday, February 1, 2013

Oops.. it's february already!

this galette really tastes better than it looks!

Ok.. losing weight to fit into a cheongsam is a lost battle.

Not when there's so much temptation and feasting for the eyes with the many yummy-licious CNY goodies posted online! And well.. some pineapple tarts and mini fried shrimp wanton rolls may have already found its way to the tummy and thighs too ^^||!

Anyway, moving on.. ^^

I don't bake CNY cookies. That's aunt's domain. But that doesn't mean I don't drool after the many CNY bakes posted ^^ There have been many times where I've been tempted to run into the kitchen to bake a batch of cookies! But in the end, common sense prevailed.. I'm no cookie monster (and papa pig's watching! ^^||). And so I shall continue to feast and lust with my eyes, over others' (I mean you, of course! ^^) tempting delicious CNY bakes and dishes. ^^

Since I've been taking it really, really easy and not baked for weeks (aren't you happy, papa pig?), I offered to bake gougères and nami's japanese cheesecake for big pig's sleepover today ^^. And I threw in a super-duper easy country apple galette (recipe by jacques pépin) last minute since I remembered I had to clear off some apples to make way for sweet tangerines ^^.

So I'm pretty happy and satisfied ^^ especially since knowing the boys enjoyed it all! ^^

Meanwhile, I'm saving tummy space for all the new year goodies coming my way! ^^