Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This is another grilled chicken recipe from Rachel Allen. Thai influenced and easy. I was tempted to add some coconut cream but decided otherwise at the last minute because I thought her chicken looked yummy enough. 

We had this for dinner. I was expecting it to be a little stickier considering the name but it wasn't as sticky. Okay I'll admit I did not follow the recipe to a T.......neither did Rachel on tv.....but it was tasty. The next time I make this i would add some dry  roasted and crushed cumin seeds or a dash of cumin powder and a splash of coconut cream to the marinade. I think it would be much more flavourful. Having said that, this wasn't bad at all.

I like baking or roasting chicken. I get to nap.

The Recipe ~ adapted from Rachel Allen

6 chicken thighs and drumsticks
2-3 red chillies, chopped
1 inch ginger, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sticks lemon grass, white part only and sliced
2 - 3 T brown sugar, I used palm sugar
juice of 2 limes
3-4 T fish sauce
a small bunch of coriander, chopped roughly and extra for garnish
salt to taste, if necessary

Put all ingredients except chicken into a small food processor and process until a loose wet paste. 

Dry chicken pieces well, slash each piece twice at intervals to allow the marinade to penetrate the meat. Place chicken into a large plastic bag. Pour the marinade/paste into the bag and massage chicken pieces gently so that the marinade covers the chicken and coats evenly. Reserve teh excess marinade for later. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Pre-heat oven 350 F

Take chicken pieces out of the marinade and place on a  baking or roasting tray. Roast for about 40-45 minutes at 350 F. Take the roasted chicken out and check for doneness by looking at the juice that runs out. If it is clear and has no pnkish hue it's done. Using a tong lift off the chicken pieces onto a large platter.

Take the excess marinade and pour into the baking tray. Place the baking tray over the stove on medium heat. Stir and adjust seasoning if necessary and reduce the sauce until it becomes a thick syrupy liquid. Pour it over the chicken pieces. Serve with hot steaming white rice.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Seeing that I have only one one rack in my oven a Dobos Torte was not something I was keen to attempt. But I did it. In 4 hours.

The sponge layers took only 5 minutes to bake but must be watched and baking those thin layers should never be paired with accidental naps in between.

The chocolate frosting made me falter and I almost went for another recipe because 3 raw egg yolks could mean salmonella attacks, hospitalization and doctor's bills en masse. I decided to be brave and went ahead. We are all well, alive and hungering for more Dobos Torte. Thanks be to God.

I had cut the last piece of sponge layer into 8 wedges and seperated them a little before pouring the amber caramel over. One thing I learnt was that you only need to cut through the caramel when the caramel has hardened. With a very sharp knife. It is much easier than having sticky caramel globbing up your knife and gooey caramel threads stretching between your fingers endlessly.

A Dobos Torte looks much harder to make than it really is. And it is very very delicious and beautiful to look at. Maida Heatter's recipe is a winner. The birthday boys yummied it. 

The recipe ~ taken from Smitten Kitchen ~ a Maida Heatter recipe.

Serves 12

Cake :

7 egg, seperated
3 egg yolks, additional
455 gm (1 lb) confectionaer's sugar (icing sugar)
94 gm all purpose flour
1 T lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt

Frosting :

227 (8 oz) bittersweet chocolate ( I used 60 per cent cacao)
226 (8 oz) gm butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 large egg yolks
2 T confectioner's sugar (icing sugar)

Caramel :

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 T water

Make cake ~

Line, butter and flour well 8 8 inch round pans or 7 9 inch round pans. I only had 3 8 inch round pans so I had some relining and buttering and flouring to do.

Pre-heat oven to 450 F

Beat 10 yolks on high of an electric mixer for a few minutes until it turns pale and lemon coloured. Reduce speed, add sugar gradually and increase speed again and continue likewise until sugar is finished., and mixture is thick and glossy.

Reduce speed again and add flour gradually and then increase speed and mix for about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and mix a few seconds more.

In a seperate bowl that is clean and dry beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. 

Stir in a few tablespoons of the egg white  into the egg yolk mixture to loosen the yolk mixture up. Then add the rest of the whites in 3 batches until the whole mixture is smooth. I used a wire whisk to do this.

Divide the batter into 8 or 7 portions depending on the size of your pan ( I weighed my batter) and pour into tins, leveling the batter and baking each layer for 5 minutes.

Keep the baked sponges aside and if you stack them please make sure you have baking paper in between. 

Make frosting  ~

Melt chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter till soft and smooth. Add vanilla and 3 egg yolks. Add sugar and cooled chocolate beating well until thoroughly mixed. 

Spread this frosting thinly on each layer on cake leaving one layer unused.

Cover the whole cake with the chocolate frosting and chill in fridge while making the caramel layer.

Make Caramel Layer ~

Place the unused layer of sponge on baking paper. Cut the into 8 wedges. Seperate them a little. 
Meanwhile place sugar and water in a small pan and heat on high until the sugar melts and turns amber. Immediately take off heat and pour the caramel over the cut sponge cake.Let teh caramel cool and harden somewhat before cutting with a very sharp knife seperating teh wedges and neatening the edges if necessary. 

Arrange on top of the frosted cake. 

Friday, August 12, 2011


I had planned to do a Hokkien Mee for dinner and then decided that I might as well blog about it. This is one of my favourite noodle dishes apart from a  hearty and spicy mee mamak. To be honest I didn't know that there were variations of this dish until I googled it. I had always thought of Hokkien mee as the dark, thick sauced, fat noodle dish. Period. Now I know that Penang has it's own version as does Singapore. All three look absolutely scrummy!

This version however is really quick to put together and it must be made just before serving. Because the sauce is a simple mixture of sweet dark soy sauce, some oyster sauce and stock I find that the yellow noodles used in this dish cannot be substituted by any other because the flavour of the noodles contributes to the flavour of the dish as a whole.

I had tried using my own home made noodles but it didn't quite taste the same because it did not have the flavour particular to Hokkien Mee made with yellow noodles. The yellow noodles made a whole lot of difference. I also fell a little short cooking it this time around. I had not made enough sauce. More sauce.

The recipe ~

Serves 4 

I have to give you this recipe from memory because I had not measured the ingredients when I made it. So the measurements are approximate. 

450 gm packet of yellow noodles, blanched in hot water to soften and kept aside

Any green leafy vegetable that you like, I used sawi, washed and cleaned and cut
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
4-5 T dark sweet soy sauce
1 T kecap manis, I used ABC brand
About 3-4 T oyster sauce
 1- 1/2 cups of water or stock
a handful of prawns shelled, deveined with tail left on
1 large squid, skinned and sliced into bite sized pieces
1 slab of fish cake, sliced

salt, pepper
vegetable oil

Heat wok, pour in about 2 T of cooking oil. When the oil is hot throw in the garlic and stir fry till fragrant but not brown. Add them prawns, squid and fish cake slices and continue to stir fry till the prawns just turn pink. Add the three sauces and the  water or stock and allow to come to a boil. Just as it comes to a boil add the noodles and greens. Stir well to coat evenly with sauce. Add salt and some pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

* Adjust the water/stock and the amount of sauces to your taste. I personally wish I had made more sauce. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


You'd probably like to know what this is all about. Well this has been my latest pre-occupation. I'm almost saturated with excitement.

                                                                                           Back view

I don't have an excessive weakness for bags. Or shoes. But when I first saw Kelly Moore's B-Hobo camera bag on Pam's Sidewalk Shoes about a month ago I couldn't resist. I had to have it.

I've been fondling it ever since. And H has been giving me funny looks. But it was worth the wait and the dollars spent. Unless you have an odd fondness for the bulky and the black, ugly camera bag this is a stylishly sweet respite. Finally, a camera bag that doubles as a trendy handbag :) A camera girl's dream.

                                                                         Front view with the flap up

It has compartments for one camera, a lens or two and for your girlie what-nots. 

Just one grouse though. The inside of the bag is lined with Velcro all along the bottom. The purpose being that the size of the compartments may be adjusted to fit your needs. Good.

However, Velcro may cause scratches to the monitor of your camera. So super duper DIY H fixed it. He cut out a soft piece of foam rubber to the required size and lined the bottom with it. Thank you. My camera now sits snug and safe inside. 

This is not a sponsored post. I wish it was. And I hope they heard me. Because I'm craving another one. 2 Sues in Raspberry  OMG 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Amber is beautiful, saffron is precious and so are dear, close friends. 

Back from her trip to the Middle East A had bought me a pack of these beautiful saffron infused sugar cubes in addition to two boxes of saffron threads, a beautiful, giant sized ornamental glass tazbih and...get this.... a pair of glamorous 'diamond' studded high heels. Wheeee ~

I had inadvertently earned the last by pure luck. A had bought the wrong size. Unfortunately  for Z or fortunately for me, depending on how you see it, it fitted me perfectly. So you see...size does matter. Now, all I need is a fairy god mother.

Aren't friends sweet? Thank you. Not just for the gifts but for being there. ~ :)

These precious sweet saffron infused sugar cubes I would revel in, in a cup of hot tea, when I am alone, curled up with a book on a couch so that I can sip and enjoy it in all its glory. They are far too precious to be used with gay abandon. 

I am enjoying a cuppa now. And it is infused with the fragrance of saffron. Love it :)

I can't get over how gloriously beautiful these sweet saffron infused sugar cubes are. Saffron are as precious as gold. "It takes about 80,000 crocus flowers to make 450 gm of this ancient spice....the most expensive of all spices, often more costly per gram than gold..... Saffron's name comes from the Arabic za'faran which means yellow and it's made form the fiery red stigma of the purple crocus" ~ Excerpt from Hugh Fearnly Wittingstall's article.

Here is a recipe I found here for making your own sugar cubes. I have not tried it but perhaps you would like to. Now I know how sugar cubes are made ~ I learn something everyday ~

DIY Sugar Cubes ~

2 cups sugar
1-2 tsp hot water
1-2 drops food colouring or flavour (in this case saffron)

Mix sugar, water and colouring. Make sure sugar is not sopping wet but just wet enough to hold its shape. Put into moulds, press into moulds, turn it over and tap it out of the mould.. let sugar cubes dry until hard. About 30 minutes to an hour. 

How easy is that?
I have plans for the saffron threads. I can't wait to play with them :)

And I have something else to share with you my friends. Something that I have been waiting for... for weeks. I will show it to you in my next post. I can't wait to share. You will be excited too. Perhaps you will want to get one too. Like I did when I saw it.  :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011


On the occasions when I accompanied my dad to do a take away from the Malay food shops in Section 17 after school I always wondered whether this dish was a rendang that had been cooked until it was bone dry or was it simply a dish of fried chicken with lots of scraps from the bottom of the wok put and piled on top thus making it an accidental but delicious dish. 

I have wondered for more than 4 decades and have never encountered anyone who cooks this at home. I don' t think many know what its called. I could not do a google search because of that. But if  you were to go to a Malay food shop you will surely see it. So I sometimes wonder if all this is just me ? Or is this all just me ?

Then I found a photograph and the elusive recipe of this I-didn't-know-the-name dish on Jom Masak Jom Makan who got it from Ummi of Home Sweet Home. Finally.

The name of this dish is Ayam Masak Kalasan Berseri. It's no wonder I was unable to locate this recipe. It's named after a place I have never heard of and I would never have guessed that this dish was named after a place. That I've never heard of. Phew. I'm feeling rather Nancy Drew-ish.

It originates from an area called Kalasan in Yogjakarta in Indonesia. Apparently Kalasan is famous for its fried chicken fried in this special way. Thus it's name. The original recipe is here. It has a lot more ingredients, uses onions, garlic , chillies, coconut milk...etc.. ..very similar to a rendang recipe. But this shorter version adapted by Ummi is most delicious  inspite of the omission of onions and other ingredients. This is the second time I am making this within a week. Yes it's good. 

The recipe ~

Chicken Fried in Dry Coconut Sambal ~ adapted from Jom Masak Jom Makan

I made a large amount using 6 whole chicken legs, bone in. You may halve the recipe.

6 whole chicken legs, bone in, each leg cut into two pieces
3 cups grated coconut, you could sub with dessicated coconut
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil

Dry spices :

4 T coriander seeds
2-3 T black or white pepper

Wet paste :

6-7 stalks lemon grass, white part only, sliced
1 1/2" fresh ginger, peeled
1 1/2" fresh tumeric, peeled
a little water

Dry roast the coriander seeds and pepper in a small pan until fragrant. Then grind in a processor or pound in a pestle and mortar until medium fine. Keep aside.

Process the lemon grass, ginger and tumeric in a food processor until fine. Add some water if necessary to loosen it up. Then mix with the dry ground spices.

Place the gound spices and wet paste into a  large wok or pot. Add the grated coconut and water and mix top combine the mixture evenly. Add the chicken pieces and about a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, covered until the chicken is cooked through or 3/4 way done. Turn off heat for a moment. It will be still be a wet pasty mixture. Take the chicken pieces out from the pot or wok shaking of excess moisture and the coconut/spice paste.

This is where you are supposed to deep fry the chicken in oil. I did not. Instead, I placed the chicken pieces on a baking tray, brushed each piece with oil and then placed them under a broiler until they turned a golden brown.

While the chicken is broiling in the oven continue to cook the coconut-spice mixture on the stove top until most of the moisture has evaporated then pour in the 1/2 cup of oil and continue to fry until the mixture becomes drier and golden brown. 

Note : Originally this coconut-spice mixture is also deep fried in the oil used to deep fry the chicken pieces. I thought that was too much deep frying for one's health. So I opted to simply add a 1/2 cup of oil and then dry-fry the mix until a golden brown.

By which time the browned chicken pieces should be ready  and thrown back into the coconut-spice mix in the wok. Stir the chicken pieces in with a spatula to coat the chicken pieces evenly and continue to dry fry a couple of minutes more until everything is evenly mixed and golden brown and dry. 

This is simply good served warm or at room temperature with steaming hot white rice eaten with the coconut sambal mixed into the hot rice and accompanied perhaps with a hot vegetable soup or curry.

Wishing you a lovely day ~

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Papaya trees grow from a seed to a fruit-bearing 20 foot tree in about eighteen months. And they fruit the way rabbits breed. In a bunch. They are not one of my favourite fruit because they have a slight bitter undertone. But young green papaya when made into a Thai salad transforms into something quite, quite wonderful. Utterly refreshing. 

My first encounter of a Thai papaya salad was at the Thai ambassador's cocktail party many years ago. In an effort to promote their cuisine they had booths set up to demonstrate the makings of various scrumptious Thai dishes. Surprisingly amoung all other mouth-watering dishes the one dish that I fell in love with was the Thai papaya salad. 

I think it was the combination and perfect balance of fresh fruit, toasted dried shrimps, hot chillies, salty fish sauce, tart lime juice and crunchy peanuts that won me over.

With the Thai papaya salad comes the above, right, which, I  believe, is a Thai invention. The papaya/fruit shredder. It looks like an ordinary fruit or vegetable peeler the only difference being that the blade is grooved intermittently across. 

I saw this device on Luke Nguyen's show and have been scavenging the shops ever since. I had asked the Thai girl at the organic shop which I frequent where to get one. She looked at me incredulously and said ...anywhere. Obviously I had not been anywhere. Well finally it wasn't anywhere that I found this pretty device but at Vivahome along Jalan Loke Yew....a large spanking new mall that has shops selling nothing else but kitchen things and home furnishings. From end to end and top to bottom. Finally mother and I had landed in heaven.


The recipe ~

I bought a very firm, dark green, young papaya, the inside a light orange and firm, the shredding of which was bliss.

Thai Papaya Salad ~

2 - 2 1/2 cups of shredded young papaya
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup palm sugar , grated
1 T water
1 red chilli, chopped finely or 2 bird chillies crushed
1 T fish sauce
2 T dried shrimps, toasted or lightly fried in a little oil
a few sprigs of coriander leaves with stems, chopped finely

Put the shredded papaya into a large bowl. throw in the chopped chilli and coriander.

Mix the palm sugar and water in a small pot and heat until sugar dissolves. Keep aside and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile pound dried shrimps in a pestle and mortar and then add peanuts and pound gently to just crush peanuts. Do not pound to a paste.The mixture should be crumbly and the nuts in small chunks.

Mix the cooled syrup with the lime juice and fish sauce in another bowl and pour this dressing over the shredded papaya mixture. Add the pounded shrimps and peanuts and mix with your fingers or two spoons gently to coat the fruit evenly with the dressing. Add fish sauce or extra lime juice to balance the flavours.

Sprinkle more crushed peanuts over the top.

Serve cold or at room temperature as a side dish.

Note : A combination of shredded cucumber and papaya is good too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I thought I could s'nail' this since arts and crafts has always been my forte but these flower or snail buns were quite a challenge. And chignons I have never made. Unlike Terri. So perhaps that explains why I was struggling. I almost didn't post these. Some of them looked ridiculously laughable. These were the best of the worst. N looked at me with a question mark on her face.

But I think they taste good. I'll know by sunset. I will have to re-heat them though. These are best eaten warm.

I have always loved Chinese steamed buns but especially buns with a spicy curry meat filling. Yes.... you cannot take the Malay out of me but there's always room for Chinese. And chocolate. And ice cream.

These would be good soaking up a curry I made last night. Oh. My. Yum. 

Terri was spot on with the recipe. I used exactly 200 ml of water and  I didn't need to add a drop more. I kneaded the pau dough in the machine until it didn't stick. I had no sticky problems. The dough was as good as a good dough could get. I too chose to use ordinary plain flour and not the fine, white special Hongkong pau flour. I find that buns made from plain four have more substance and flavour with a  lovely cream-ish hue. The white ones seem bland in comparison.

This is a recipe I'll have written out and blu-tacked onto the kitchen wall in front of my work table. Yes I will.

The recipe ~ from Terri of A Daily Obsession 

350 gm  plain flour or special Pau flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp baking powder
50 gm sugar
200-250 ml water
1 T vegetable oil or shortening

Sift flour and put into a bowl. Add all other dry ingredients including the yeast. Stir to mix. Add wet ingredients and knead on the machine until the dough is no linger sticky and can be pulled away easily from the dough hook.

If kneading by hand knead until smooth and not sticky. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth.

Let rest for about 30 minutes (my dough needed about an hour).

Take dough out from bowl and divide into 50 gm balls or smaller, the size of golf balls). I made 40 gm balls of dough.

Take each ball and roll out into a small longish oval. Terri says about the length of your hand and 3-4 cm in width. Using a pastry scraper cut the dough lengthwise into thin strips about 1/2 cm thick or slightly thinner all the way. Brush the surface with vegetable oil lightly.

Pick up the strips of dough with both your hands (don't worry they won't fall apart unless you deliberately seperate them).

Twirl one end around your left thumb (if you are right handed) while pressing the end of the dough with your thumb and forefinger to anchor it. Continue twirling and covering the tips of your two first fingers and back around to your thumb again all the while gently stretching the dough with your other hand as you twirl. By now the dough would be twirled around most of your thumb and the top half of your first two fingers and looking like a cone or snail shell........hopefully.

Please do go over to Terri's blog to see her wonderful photographs. I had no one to ask to take photos while I was at it :(

When you reach the end of the strip tuck it in and under the base of the 'snail'. 

Place on 5 cm squares of baking paper straight into a steamer rack but do not place the rack on the steamer bottom yet. Let rest for 10 minutes while you bring the pot of steamer water to a rolling boil. Then place the steamer rack of buns onto to the steamer pot of boiling water and steam for about 4-5 minutes.

I used a bamboo steamer. So indispensable. Why? Go here.

Serve hot.


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