Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Baker's Challenge: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake!!

Wow...i've had a quick look at what other daring bakers have done- there are so many creative and beautiful versions of the same recipe!!!!

Culinary Princess invited me to her house for the first time and I wanted to bring something which will definitely impress..after hearing so much about Dorie Greenspan (and of course with the DB deadline coming up!), the Perfect Party Cake was the natural choice!!

But I only realised that the eggs reserved for the meringue frosting were cracked (must have put some heavy stuff on the carton unknowingly) late at night and so i made something else for the feast at Culinary Princess' place...

but Weiqin convinced me to bring the unfrosted cake as well...

and this is what we did with it!

Sarah made the butter cream (we didn't follow the meringue recipe cos we were short on time and everyone was hungry!!)
Weiqin took pictures and cheered us on on the side and kept telling us that the cake was goin to be fine..

i sliced the cake and spreaded strawberry jam that Culinary Princess made...homemade jam!! mmmmm..!!

and Sarah took over again and frosted the cake..

decorated with fondant flowers made by Sarah!

and Culinary Princess was in charge of taking pictures of the finished product...!!


see the pretty layers? And check out the yummy indian food in the background!!

a close up...u can see some green bits..that's the lemon zest...

so u see, making this month's challenge was a successful team effort and wonderful ice breaker!! heheh!!

and yes, it was a perfect party cake...mainly cos of the lovely people who were there!!

verdict on the cake?? I must have done something wrong..cos the cakes didn't rise very much and very quite dense, almost like a pound cake but what's important is that all of the girls liked it anyway...most probably won't make it again just cos it's hard to think about what to do with 8 egg yolks!!!

Hop on over to the daring bakers blogroll and see what everyone else has done!! And be prepared to be bowled over!!! :D

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chips for breakfast anyone??

just wanna share something amusing....went supermarket shopping with a coursemate today and was going to buy my regular cereal...which is a gluten free one (no, i dun have cealiac, i just like the taste of this cereal)...really yummy n i lurve it... (i also tot it was 'healthy'..) but to my horror, my coursemate who is an expert label reader pointed out that it's more than 27% fat...!!!

which means it's almost as if i m eating potato chips for breakfast... wonder it was so satisfying...

(and yes, i will still buy it next week..when my coursemate is not around.. :P )

Monday, March 24, 2008

Korean Cabbage Kimchi

Korean Cabbage Kimchi
recipe slightly modified from Fabulous Foods

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt
6 cups water
2 lbs. Chinese (Napa) cabbage, cut into 2-inch squares (I used regular cabbage..)
6 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths, then slivered
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons Korean ground dried hot pepper (or other mildly hot ground red pepper)
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Dissolve the 3 tablespoons salt in the water. Put the cabbage into a large bowl, a crock, or a nonreactive pot, and pour the brine over it. Weight the cabbage down with a plate. Let the cabbage stand for 12 hours.

2. Drain the cabbage, reserving the brine. Mix the cabbage with the remaining ingredients, including the 1 teaspoon salt. Pack the mixture into a 2-quart jar. Pour enough of the reserved brine over the cabbage to cover it. Push a freezer bag into the mouth of the jar, and pour the remaining brine into the bag. Seal the bag. Let the kimchi ferment in a cool place, at a temperature no higher than 68° F, for 3 to 6 days,until the kimchi is as sour as you like.

3. Remove the brine bag, and cap the jar tightly. Store the kimchi in the refrigerator, where it will keep for months.

comments: I didn't do the brine bag part cos i didn't understand the instructions..... but the kimchi still turned out alright!! :) And also added capsicums, just because there were some lying around...Will i make it again?? Definitely...!! Great way to use up left over cabbage!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!!

a surprise gift from sweet Aira...

A pretty Easter Bunny with two chocolate eggs...

May your Easter be filled with unexpected blessings as well!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chestnut and sweet corn congee

cooked this a while back too...the recipe is from a book i bought when i went to the Suntec Bookfair with the lovely V...she picked it up and passed it to me with a bemused expression...well, the book does have a ridiculous sounding title, "Delicacies for Skin Whitening'...
I think she didn't expect me to buy it but i did...(every time i go back to Singapore, i get chided by my sisters for becoming darker..."Ting ah!! why u so dark!!! Never use sunscreen???!!!" So for my birthday this year, i got from my three sisters: Sunscreen, whitening serum and goat's milk whitening body wash...!!!!)

According to the book,

"Chestnuts benefit the stomach, the spleen and the kidneys. There (sic) are hard to digest. Do not eat too much at one time. Diabetes patients should avoid chestnuts altogether.

The sweet corn is nutritious, as it contains protein, fats and vitamins. Having this dish in meals regularly improves appetitie, benefits the spleen, whitens the skin and improves skin resilience."

Honestly, i never knew sweet corn was so marvelleous.... :P

Chestnut and sweet corn congee

225 g shelled fresh chestnuts
1 cup canned sweet corn kernels
3 dried scallops
1 cup pearl rice (short grain)
1 quarter dried tangerine peel
salt and white pepper to taste

1. rinse the dried scallops. Soak in water until soft.
2. Soak the dried tangerine peel in water until soft. Scrape off the pith and rinse well.
3. Boil the chestnuts in water for 3 mins. Remove the brown peel. (I couldn't find fresh ones, so got packaged ones and skipped this step)
4. Boil 10 cups of water in a pot. Add rice, chestnuts, dried scallops and dried tangerine peel.
5. Bring to the boil and then switch to low heat. Simmer for 1 hour or until the chestnuts are tender. Add sweet corn and salt.
6. Bring to the boil and serve.

What i did differently:
rinse the rice, drain and added a tsp of sesame oil and left it overnight. This makes the congee really smooth.
And the next morning, i just added everything else, other than the corn and salt to the slow cooker and put it on high for 6 hours or thereabouts.

PS: I think the whitening foods and products are not working very well...The Australian Sun is too strong....

Longevity Noodles!!

In traditional Chinese culture, the elderly are revered and there is a well-known saying: "Jia you yi lao, ru you yi bao" (loosely translated: Having an elderly person in the home is the same as having a treasure!)

So I was really honoured and privileged to be able to join in the birthday festivities for Mrs Dixon.

First a picture of the birthday girl....

Guess her age??

She stays independently and has a terrific memory...when you ask her for a recipe, she can just give it to you on the spot...and she can add up sums faster than me...(i m not that slow...but man, she is FAST!!)

75?? 81?? 90???

Happy Birthday Mrs Dixon!

See the candles??? NINTY FIVE. Really.

She says her secret to her good health is a happy heart... :)

and to wish her many more good years to come, I made some longevity noodles... followed a recipe initially but it turned out a bit bland which explains the mix-mash of sauces in the seasoning..


400g dried somen
6 tbs oil (yes, quite a lot but noodle dishes tend to stick n break easily without sufficient oil)
2- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
4 slices ginger
200g snow peas, sliced
250g mung bean sprouts
1 can shiitake mushrooms
1 can 225g water chestnuts, sliced
1/3 cup coriander (around 2 bunches)
2 eggs, hard boiled and cubed

seasoning: (the tricky part cos it wasn't my pantry and i was frantically just using anything i could find!!!)

2 tbs light soy sauce
2 tbs vegetarian stir fry sauce
2 tbs oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbs honey
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup water (use stock if available)

-all mixed together


1. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
2. Heat up oil in wok until shimmering. Add shallots and fry till light golden. Fish out and set aside.
3. Add garlic, ginger and stir fry til fragrant. (around 2-3 mins.)
4. Add snow peas and fry til colour brightens up. Add mung beans, mushrooms and chestnuts and fry for around 2-3 mins.
5. Add noodles, followed by seasoning and make sure that seasoning coats noodles evenly.
6. Top with coriander, shallots and eggs. Serve hot.

Mrs Dixon- Happy Birthday once again and may all your wishes come true!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Banana and tapicoa agar agar

i stumbled onto a very beautiful blog,Qlinart, the other day when i was looking for banana recipes..and found a banana and tapioca pearl pudding....the recipe looked and sounded so good that i made it the very next day....but the unforgiving weather has put a damper on my taste buds, making it hyper-sensitive to rich and creamy foods...(i just crave for icy and salady stuff nowadays!!)..and so i've turned the pudding into a agar agar(asian seaweed jelly)!!

I'm not sure why it looks kinda purplish though....the flavours were very exotic..Weiqin loves it cos she figures that it tastes like Chai...(cardamon and mint)...

to make anything into agar agar, i just estimate the volume and add enough agar agar's around 8 g of agar agar powder to 1 litre of liquid...just make sure that the liquid is hot so that the powder can dissolve. Oh, and remember to add sugar too..
Leave to set in the fridge and serve chilled.

When i made the agar agar, i boiled some pandan leaves with the syrup...why?? Hmm...pandan leaves are like the vanilla essence of Asia?? Adds a light fragrance to most desserts and can be used for savoury dishes as well. They supposedly have diuretic effects and are 'cooling' for the body...and can be chewed on as a breath refreshener (the last bit of information was new to me too)!!

Don't you just love Asian foods?? It seems like almost every ingredient has some sort of a medicinal/ beneficial property?!

Thai Style mince pork & pineapple noodle salad


1 tbs oil
500 g minced pork (i used kangeroo mince)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk lemon grass, finely chopped
2-3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tsp finely grated ginger
1 small chili, finely chopped
5 kaffir lime leaves, finely shreded
200g mung bean noodles (tang hoon)
60 g baby spinach noodles (used grated carrot and beansprouts instead)
1 cup coriander greens, chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves

1.5 tbsp shaved palm sugar / soft brown sugar
2 tbs fish sauce
80ml lime juice
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp peanut oil


heat a wok until very hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the work. Add the garlic, lemon grass, shallots, ginger, chili and lime leaves and stir fry for 2-3 mins/ until fragrant. Add the minced meat and stir fry until lightly golden.
Set aside.

Place the noodles in a large bowl and voer with boiling water for 30 seconds or until softened. Rinse untl cold water and drain well. Toss in a bowl with the spinach, corainder, pinaapple, mint and meat mixture.

To make the dressing, mix together the palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Add the sesame oil and extra peanut oil, and whisk to combine. Toss through the salad and season with freshly ground pepper.

Serves 4

Recipe taken from Family Circle's Salad Days.


this salad does taste better the next day, when all the flavours have properly mingled. Cos this is a 'western' recipe, i find that the amount of meat to be more than sufficient...usually for asian cuisines, u'd be quite safe portioning 40- 60g of meat per person but for western recipes, i find the range is 100-150g of meat per person. What I did was to double both the noodles and dressing...tot that the sesame oil didn't work too well together, so perhaps i wouldn't add it the next time...but all in all...a yummy the combination of pineapple and lemongrass!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Weird taste -identified!!!

was very troubled previously cos i couldn't quite place the taste of the shiso-lookalike leaves. I was pretty sure that i had tasted something similar before but just couldn't relate it! Frustrating to say the least!!!

After eating it for the third time (made a batch of kimchi with it and have been working my way slowly), I finally got it!!!

PAPADUMS!!! These leaves taste like papadums!!! I kid you not!!! I think papadums are made of lentils (Culinary Princess, correct???) and these leaves obviously bear no resemblance whatsoever to pulses but they have the same aftertaste!!!! So interesting!!!

So even though i do not exactly know the name of the plant, i m happy.... :D and happily eating's great as a 'ban chan' / side dish.....!!

(Seen here with Piggy's mushroom rice)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eating mindfully...

Marion Nestle has a blog!

She is a prominent US dietitian and i read her book 'What to eat' last december..(perhaps it should be called 'what NOT to eat'...
very informative..somewhat scary but not as scary as Jane Goodall's 'Harvest for Hope'..
after reading these sort of books, i always have the impulse to become vegan, or if not, vegetarian...or at the very very least, eat less meat...)

Still, don't let me scare you off in becoming a more conscious consumer...

this website is also very interesting...featured on Bloggers 'Blogs of Note' recently. Yoni Freedhoff's 'Weighty matters'.

Have fun browsing!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Apple and walnut rissoto with gorgonzola

i made this a couple of weeks ago just cos i like how the word sounds..."gor-gon-zola..."
but not actually the is a very pungent cheese for the uninitiated.. :P



as with Jamie Oliver's most other recipes, very rich....most probably won't make this one again...
it's alrite....interesting but not memorable..

recipe is as per the usual basic rissoto with the addition of 2 large handfuls of parmesan, 200g gorgonzola, 100g feta, 2 apples, handful of walnuts and a sprinkling of fresh marjoram/thyme leaves.

Ken Hom's Cold Cucumber with Garlic

There are some recipes, when you look at them, u think that they can improved upon somehow...and this is one of them..

I had to resist the very strong urge to make modifications and follow it more or less exactly...

"i'm sure i can omit the oil...dun need to fry the garlic....just use about sesame oil??? Sesame oil will give it a great fragrance!! But then it might be too similar to Korean type cold dishes....."

and surprisely, the dish turned out fantastic!!! Now i m a new fan of Ken Hom!! Heee...can't wait to try more of his recipes...!

Cold Cucumber with Garlic

450g cucumbers
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tb white rice vinegar
1.5 tbs oil
1 tbsp minced garlic

slice the cucumbers into half lengthways, and using a spoon, remove any seeds.
Cut the cucumber halves into small pieces. (original recipe said 7.5 cm by 12mm...opps, didn't pay attention!)
Combine the cucumber pieces with salt and allow to sit in a colander. Set aside for 10 mins.
Rinse them in cold water, blot them dry and toss with the sugar and vinegar.
Heat a wok until hot and add the oil and garlic. Stir fry for 15 seconds or until it is lightly brown.
Mix with the cucumbers and serve.
(I chilled them in the fridge for 30 mins before serving)

Monday, March 10, 2008

"What am I??"

i bought this thinking it was Shiso....but it doesn't look like the Shiso from google images ...

can't quite place the taste of it...very slightly minty..reminds me of indian food....but not sure which spice...

i have made it into a kimchee, thinking it's some kind of perilla leaf, following this

...but still would like to find out exactly what it is...

any idea anyone???

The shop keeper couldn't tell me the exact name..he just said :"Purple Salad!!!"


Steamed Pumpkin Cake!!

The alternative title for this post is 'the kindness of blogging friends"...

why?? Cos Crystal from the Modern Vegetarian especially dug out another recipe for me to try when i mentioned previously that the steamed banana cake with bicarb was 'thirst-inducing'...

i love the recipe that she has sent me and fresh from the steamer, it really reminds me of 'orh-nee'/ yam paste...the texture and perhaps cos of the shallot oil i used to grease the pan with...after cooling down, the cake/ kueh firmed up quite nicely...
Somewhat similar to tapioca kueh but more fragrant.. :)

moist and soft...mmmm...

firmed up version

Oh...the original recipe called for bananas but i wanted to use up my hulk of '99-cents-special-offer' pumpkin first...

Steamed Pumpkin Cake

375g grated fresh coconut or dried coconut (I used dried coconut and added water...around 125g to 1.5 cups water)
700 g pumpkin, cubed
150g rice flour
30g tapioca starch
200g sugar (originally 375g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
100ml coconut milk (original recipe called for 125ml coconut cream)

1. Reserve 1/4 of the coconut for garnish
2. Microwave pumpkin for 10 mins with 1/4 cup water. Mash.
3. Mix with the rest of the ingredients and pour into a greased tin.
4. Smooth the top and sprinkle with reserved coconut.
3. Steam 30 minutes or until done. (mine took around 50 mins)

--- Original recipe from Thai Home Cooking by Robert Carmack, Sompon Nabnian.

Thanks Crystal!! You really made my day with your email! :D

Dead good carbonara

Was flipping through the recipebook that Linda gave me for Christmas last year and came across this recipe...

"Dead good carbonara'.

Ambitious name huh? (I mistakenly remembered the name as 'Drop dead carbonara' and told that to Dr's really rich so that could be an apt name too...)

Was it as good as promised? You bet!!!!

Very easy..very fast and excellent for impressing guests with minimum effort... :)

It should look creamier...this picture was taken the next day after reheating in the microwave...changed the texture of the sauce somewhat...

and the recipe... (note: definitely not an everyday dish)

Dead good carbonara
serves 2


250g spaghetti
1 shallot, finely chopped (do not substitute for onions, shallots improve the flavor immensely)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 rashers bacon, chopped
2 eggs
150 ml cream
25 g parmesan, finely grated


1. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Fry bacon in pan til light brown and crisp. (start with cold pan, the bacon will fry in its own fat.)
3. Add garlic and shallots and fry for another 3-5 mins til everything is golden.
4. Beat together the eggs, cream, most of the parmesan and plenty of black pepper. (note: this sauce does not heating up)
5. Add the shallot and egg mixture to the pasta and toss till evenly coated.
6. Divide into two portions and serve with the rest of the parmesan and a sprinkling of black pepper.


Gazpacho!! Chilled tomato soup!!!! And the world's best at that!!!! :D Woohoo!!

Got it from LobsterSquad...Ximena''s done many variations and versions and declared this to be the best. I have only tasted gazpacho once so i shall take her word for it.
Used 1 tiny chili padi instead of the two long green chilis and mayo instead of egg.

So refreshing and velvety..!! Just the thing for 39 degree days..

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Win Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets!!!

Dorie Greenspan??? Who's that?? Well, I haven't tried any of her recipes but have heard good stuff about her from various baking blogs....

So how do you win the book??


Marye of Baking Delights needs a new tagline for her blog...and if u'd just blog about her contest and leave her a comment with a link to your post...u're in the running!

And if u come up with a tagline, u'll get another entry in the contest...!

The writer of the winning tagline also gets a $10 amazon voucher!

sounds interesting??? Get your creative juices flowing and hop on over to Marye's!

:) Thanks Cookiedoc for sharing the news!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Recipe suggestions for hot days

if anyone has any, I really would appreciate some suggestions...hopefully less than 30 mins in the kitchen..satisfying and doesn't heat up the place/ has strong smells...(feeding 6/7 for catering business next week......)

Adelaide's got a heat wave again...til next Friday.. hot hot hot!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

these are supposed to be good for you...

"eeeeeeiii..but what are they????!!!"

If my parents didn't start me young, i most probably would not dare to try them too. Sea cucumber, as written about previously. Thus named for their shape. Some call them sea slugs but i reckon that won't make for good marketing... :P

see the cut up pieces...need to get rid of the grit inside

cooked it a long while back....for the CNY gathering....i followed Amy Beh's recipe on Kuali (the server seems to be down atm) but made a number of modifications.....and i forgot to write them down...tasting the dish and adding stuff until it tasted just like my mom's....('au pif' new term i learnt from this blog today....for 'cooking by taste').

the completed dish...yes, it looks like that usually...brown and gooey... :P

Thursday, March 6, 2008

steamed banana cake

I have a sneaky feeling that alot of dishes were invented to use up ingredients which were either rapidly going bad (happens alot to me) or were readily available and abundant in the backyard (my grandma had a farm..i think she grew a lot of plants and spices and almost didn't have to buy anything from the market at all..other than fish...oh...but fish, u can catch from the rivers as i wish i live on a farm!!)

Anyways!!! Faced with 3 almost black bananas, i started a quest for banana recipes...banana bread and muffins are the fail-proof fall backs..but having no special occasion/ the presence of many friends to share the calories, i wanted to make something without additional fat... and ta-dah!!! Steamed banana cake!!

The main rising agents were baking powder and bicarb...and i think that might have contributed to the 'thirsty'/ dry lips after taste...but on the whole, quite nice..very easy and relatively guilt-free....sugar, as advised by Zu, can be reduced, to i think around 1/3 cup or even less. Next time, i might omit the bicarb altogether and see if that helps...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Golden Olivale

This bottle of cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil was bought at the Farmers' Market...

the stall selling it looked very plain and unadorned so i wasn't expecting anything special..but it's one of those foods, which u after tasting, do a double take...! Aira once told me about one of her friend's father who imports olive oil from South Australia to Japan. Apparently that extremely premium olive oil is meant for drinking straight...a shot every morning (confers a myriad of health benefits of which i m not entirely sure).

I reckon u can do the same with this one. It is that good. :)
Fruity and fragrant with an extremely pleasant aftertaste. Perfect with fresh bread and dukkah!!

By the way, this oil only won the bronze prize in last year's Olives South Australia competition. I wonder how the ones which won the Gold must taste like.....Mmmmmmmmmm.

Golden Olivale
0412 796313

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mee Hoon Kueh

sometimes i think this blog should be renamed "Review of Lily Ng's recipes" cos i try out so many of her recipes...(and they are fantastic, each and everyone of them..)

last week it was her tien tsin pau...which took much longer than expected and made me stay up til 1.30am..but when i tried the first bite, the 3 hour effort was all worth it!!! It reminds of xiao long bao/ soup was that juicy!

today i made mee hoon kueh/ handmade noodle pieces in soup...
also quite time consuming..the rolling out of the dough mainly....i think these were invented in the days before machines...
aye...yar...pre-packaged noodles will perhaps suffice..but hey, nothing beats home-made anything right??

made almost exactly as per Lily's recipe...down to fried shallots and garlic (something new) with chili padi, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Bought soy beans absentmindedly so used that in the stock as well. Next time, i will just get premade noodles...though these tasted more like italian egg pasta cos they were quite 'Q' (firm/ springy to the bite).

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Adelaide Showground Farmers' Market

this is a post which i have been meaning to share for quite a while...the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market!

Fresh produce straight from the farmers,(not always cheaper but definitely fresher and good quality), gourmet food gift options (olives, nuts, jam, almonds), cooking demostrations, extraordinaryly delicious busk tucker ice-cream not available anywhere else in Adelaide, throw in an occasional 2 piece jazz idea of heaven...

If i remember correctly, they only used to open during the warmer months, which may explain why u will find mainly locals there cos most of the international students were holidaying at home...BUT as of last year, the organisers have decided to make it a year round event..!! Yippee!!
Every Sunday, it says on the banner..

organic bread

un-homogenized milk (means that the milk is in two separate layers...cream on top)..never seen it in supermarkets before!!

crisp fresh herbs

Pates and spreads

assorted goodies...mmm...

Visit the Market's official website for more details! Hope to see you there!!