Thursday, October 27, 2011


Today is sweet potato day. I've just made some sweet potato cinnamon rolls that are the moistest, softest, cushiony-est, sweet potatoe-iest buns I've ever made. This recipe is one that I concocted. There was a lot of vacillating between cake, buns or onde-onde. But finally ...a decision. And more importantly ....action. And these rolls are here to stay. You just have to make them. Have to make them. Have to make them.

I used Japanese Sweet Potatoes....the purple skinned kind. The smooth inside kind,  the yellow inside kind, the non fibrous kind...yes I did. Things may turn out differently if you were to use a different kind ~  I know you know that ~ I'm just saying ~ :)

The large proportion of grated sweet potatoes gave the buns so much flavour, moistness ans richness. I'm so soo pleased. It was a hit at home. You must try.

I must declare too that those sweet potatoes were steamed, drained and sat in my fridge for the longest time. Like a week. Or more? I must also declare that the bread dough sat in my fridge for 2 whole days before being baked. Yes it did. 

The recipe ~

420 gm steamed, cooled completely, peeled then grated sweet potatoes (Japanese kind)
400 gm plain flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
40 gm butter
1 whole egg, beaten to just mix
120-130 ml water at room temperature 

Extra butter, softened, about 3 oz...maybe
Some brown sugar to sprinkle ( i didn't measure)
Cinnamon powder

Grease a 9 inch tube pan well and keep aside.

Mix flour, yeast sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir to mix. Add butter and rub in the butter into the flour until it becomes crumbly. Add the grated sweet potato and mix it in. Add egg and then the water. I added 125 ml. Mix with a spoon first to gather up the dough and then use your hands to bring the dough together and then turn onto a floured board and knead for about five (5) minutes. 

The dough will be very soft and sticky so knead very lightly and don't put too much pressure otherwise the dough will simply stick to your hands. If too sticky ...flour your hands rather than the dough and continue to knead until reasonably smooth. Don't worry if its still soft and little sticky.

Oil a large bowl lightly and place the dough inside and cover with a damp cloth or cling film and allow to rest for 1 hour or more if necessary until the dough doubles in size. I left it in the fridge for 48 hours.

Turn out the dough, once it has risen, onto a very well floured board, press it down to flatten a little with your hands and roll out with a rolling pin into a large rectangle about 15 inches by 10.I didn't measure but I think it was about that size. This is just like making a cinnamon roll.

Using the softened butter spread the butter all over the rectangular dough like spreading butter on bread but leaving 1 cm clean all around the edges. Then sprinkle brown sugar, then cinnamon all over the buttered dough as much or as little as you like but make sure it is evenly spread.

From the 15 inch end start o roll the dough into a swiss roll puling to tighten as you roll so that the roll will not come loose.

Cut the rolled dough into 12 equal pieces. Arrange the slices of cut rolls into the greased tube pan at an angle until it is filled up with all 12 pieces. Let rise, covered with a damp cloth or cling film draped loosely over the pan. Once the dough has risen I sprinkled a little more brown sugar and cinnamon over the top. Bake in a 350 F pre-heated oven for about 20 -25 minutes until golden brown.

Invert and pull the rolls apart and serve. 

Note : the sliced raw rolls may be kept overnight in the fridge and baked the next morning. That's what i did.

I think the purple just didn't do it. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I craned my neck to look at the translucent sheet of rice paper rain that H had pointed out to me. It was pummeling the ground, before us, a few meters away. Within seconds I heard it drench our black Hyundai as we entered its realm. I ducked. It sounded like a Niagara. But I felt the eerie-ness of a clenched fist, at first knocking then spreading its fingers, softly, on top of my head. Have you ever felt that?

Juxtapositions of weather never fail to fascinate me ....nature's abrupt seperateness of downpour and clearness existing within meters of each other...side by side, face to face, meeting up, merging, yet apart, clear on one side, grey on the other, dry over here and wet over there. How cool is that?

That happened a few days ago. And it has nothing to do with these spring rolls. I just had to tell you. Because the past month has been a sort of tropical winter. Wet and gloomy most times yet smouldering in between. And my enthusiasm towards cooking or baking have shifted according to the weather. You can tell, can't you?.... from my blog.

I feel paralysed and unmotivated most times but with short sunny bursts of enthusiasm in between. Today I have three things in the making after a period of relative dormancy. Sometimes I wonder what makes me tick. And then tock  :D

Anyway.....To cut a long story short.....with the excitement of eating healthy I had baked these spring rolls after swiping them with oil. But they looked so pathetic that I finally agreed to fry them in a little oil. That straightened them up, they came to life,looked perky crisp and sunny. What a difference a little frying made. yea...grease..tell me about it. 

I would have left them at baked if I didn't have to take photographs didn't spend 2 hours clicking 10,000 frames until the sky started to sulk and began to cry. 

The Recipe ~

Dip these in Thai Sweet Chillie Sauce. O. Yea.

Yield : About 16 rolls

A packet of spring roll sheets.

8 medium sized prawns, shelled, de-veined and chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced finely
1 small Chinese cabbage, washed and finely shredded
2 small carrots, washed, skinned and julienned
1 sengkuang (turnip?) (tennis ball size, maybe larger), skinned, washed and julienned
A handful of shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stalk removed and sliced finely

2-3 tsp light soy sauce
1 T oyster sauce (optional) I didn't use this
1 tsp sugar
1 T cornstarch mixed with a little water to a slurry

1 2/2 T vegetable oil

Make a paste from about 2 T plain flour and a little water to use as glue later.

Heat a wok until hot. Pour in the oil and saute the garlic for a few seconds until aromatic but not brown. Throw in the shitake mushrooms, carrots and turnips and stir to mix evenly. Add salt and pepper, sugar, soy sauce and oyster sauce if using. There is no need to add water at all. Just keep stirring and tossing and when the carrots and turnips are a little softened throw in the Chinese cabbage and mix and toss again. Adjust seasoning to taste. Keep stirring until the cabbage just softens. Add the cornstarch slurry and mix again and the cornstarch slurry thickens and the vegetable mixture is just slightly wet.

Note : The vegetable mixture should not be overly wet...just damp. And cool completely before making rolls.

Remove the spring roll sheets from the wrapper and cover with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out. Peel off one sheet and place on a board. Fill with the vegetable mixture (about 2 T) and roll into a firm and reasonably tight roll. Not too tight that it tears though. 'Glue' the end of the roll with the paste of flour and water that you made earlier. Keep aside on a tray while you make the rest.

If baking the oven should be pre-heated 15 minutes before at 375 F. Spray or swipe a baking tray with oil. Place all the spring rolls on top and swipe the rolls with oil on top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the rolls turn a light golden brown. Serve immediately otherwise the rolls with get wrinkled and limp.

Alternatively, shallow fry the rolls to a crisp. They'll look better and stay crisp longer. :) 

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I'm not much of a drink person. I'm more of an eat person. So spoonfuls of Nestle's Everyday Milk Powder, cod liver oil, Wood's Peppermint Cough Syrup and Milo from the tin/bottle were weird combinations of snacks for my mid-afternoon-after-school indulgences before I resumed frolicking aka wrestling aka as punching matches with my brother or careering down the tarred, bumpy and sandy road on our nailed together four wheeled sled/plank. Those were the muted turquoise, mint and tangerine vintage-coloured years of my childhood.

I want it back. NOW.

Back to the future........comes Milo Dinosaur. I first heard of this concoction when N the man returned home from Singapore and gushed about it several years ago. I gave a glazed smile and the Milo dinosaur slipped into a small fissure of my brain. Then yesterday H and I found ourselves wandering into a food court like lost and aimless souls. I sashayed over to the drinks counter and my eyes fell upon the printed out price of a Milo Dinosaur at RM 5/. I almost shook with laughter and swore I'll make a Milo dinosaur when I got home. 

However my vintage mind had no clear idea where to begin so I googled a forum by teenage kids discussing their favourite Milo Dinosaurs and incredible Milo concoctions. They were so cyuute that I spent a good hour reading and giggling like a teenage schoolgirl over the threads of their conversation.

It turned out that a Milo dinosaur is a no-brainer and in my experiment I decided against using any hot water at all. I was right. The Milo dinosaur was lumpy, cold, thick, chocolatey and yummy. I also gave it a twist by adding 1/2 a teaspoon of instant coffee. Oh MY...

However, the sizes of what I made were more like baby Milo dinosaurs.....someone said.

More about Milo here.

Recipe ~ 

No exact measure what you like....its the how that makes it what it is ~

A standard mug or a small mason jar was what I used
2 T Milo powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp instant coffee
2 T (about) of very cold fresh milk
more very cold fresh milk
Crushed ice
More Milo powder

Mix ingredients 2 to 5 in the mug with a spoon until it looks muddy and the Milo granules somewhat dissolved. Add more cold milk 2/3 way up and stir. Top with crushed ice. Then top with lots of Milo powder until it looks like an anthill. Serve cold and immediately. Drink/eat with a  spoon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Here's a fictional bau story and a true recipe.

A Bau Story ~ (or skip it) ~

It's hard to picture bau on a plate and Dad on a chair together, face to face. But curry was a different matter altogether. He had to have it everyday. Like water. Especially a fish curry. So if Mom asked (which she would do almost everyday) what she should cook with this or that, accompanied by a plagued and tired look on her face, Dad would simply answer "curry" without flinching, without looking, without thinking. You would think that that would be the end of Mom's problems. But no. That was her problem.

Was that why she left him? We often wondered. Because right after she did she abandoned curry and went for bau. Bau this, bau that, it was bau, bau, bau. 

Finally, exasperated, Janna asked her one day after school 

"What's with the bau Mom? " 

"This is the one thing your father hated. Bau. And I hated all that curry. Everyday. To cook, to eat, to cook, to eat. Why do you think I left him? "

Janna who was strangely unaffected by our parents' divorce until that moment glared at Mom through her dark, almond eyes from behind her thick fringe. Yes, it was a long fringe that she grew so she could stare at a boy at school without looking like she was staring at a boy at school. Then she got up, scraping the kitchen chair backwards against the floor, stomped over and reached for a pau. As soon as she snared it in the palm of her hand she headed for the kitchen door, opened it and stood there for a moment as if debating if that was the right thing to do. Then with a fling of an arm the white, round bun flew like a jet plane and crashed into the Cat's Eye tree about 10 meters away. Leaves rustled, birds flitted, bird wings flapped and Mom opened her mouth to start a cry of astonishment that didn't come. That was when my older sister walked out, lived with Dad and never came back.

Ever since then Mom started making bau with a curry filling. She made it like a machine, emotionless, her fingers deftly pleating white circles of dough over a crimson, spicy filling, her dark eyes blank, her lips a line, almost as if defiance and submission had fought out a duel and neither won. I would watch her and feel my mind wander. Was this what life was all about? Curry or Pau? Either this or that? Or this and that? Or this with that?  Often in bed I would shake my head in the void of the night so that those confounding and senseless thoughts would spill out and things would be right. It never did. Then one day, two years later, Mom whispered in a wasted and dying voice, 

" If you hate something bad enough it will surely come back and haunt you." 

With that she let out her last breath, closed her eyes and died before me. I felt her dry hand go limp in mine. I looked down at the dead tributaries of bumpy veins embossed on the back of her hand. I ran my finger along one of them, slowly. And in that silence, alone with my dead mother I heard my heart thumping and felt my temples being squeezed by God.

I have never, since, hated anything as badly as I hated my mother at that moment, and myself, for not figuring it out. So that she could have saved herself. Because it was not the bau or curry after all. It was hate that consumed her life.  

And Janna knew.

Therefore I am now.....balanced.

love Bau and Curry. Curry with Bau, Bau or Curry, Curry over Bau, Bau over Curry, Curry inside Bau. I love bau. And curry. :)

The recipe ~

The bau recipe is from my previous post taken from Terri's Hunger Hunger

Chicken curry filling ~

370 gm chicken breast, skinned and diced
1 large medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cm ginger, minced
1 - 2 T curry powder, any, mixed to a slurry with 2 T water
1 T cornstarch mixed to a slurry with a little water
1-2 T cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
1-2 T oyster sauce
salt to taste

Heat the pan and then add the cooking oil. Throw in the diced onion, garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant or the onion pieces turn translucent.

Add the slurry-ed curry powder and stir and watch carefully so that the paste doesn't burn. Add the oyster sauce. Add the diced chicken, mix well and then add salt to taste. you may add a little water if the mixture seems dry.

Finally pour in the cornstarch slurry and stir quickly so that the sauce won't get lumpy. Taste again and adjust salt.

The final mixture should be a thick curry almost a paste with diced chicken in it. spaghetti sauce or sambal.

To make buns ~

Tear off pieces of risen dough into 50 gm pieces. Roll into a ball and roll out with a small rolling pin on a floured board into a small circle about 3 inches in diameter. Thin the edges by lifting up the circle of dough and pressing the edges with your thumb and first two fingers all around the circumference. Then place the flattened circle of dough onto the palm of your hand.

Then using a teaspoon scoop up some filling and place in into the centre of the dough. Start pleating the edges like in this video. :)


I made a mess . Some of the curry sauce leaked out while I was "pleating" and my 'pleats' were not exactly pleats. But who cares :)

As each bun is filled and shaped line them with squares of grease-proof or baking paper and place them in the basket of a steamer (detached from the steamer bottom) about 1 inch apart. Let them rest for 10 minutes but not more (if left to rest too long the buns will rise and flop after steaming). Meanwhile heat the water of your steamer to a rolling boil them place the basket of buns over the steamer pot and steam the buns for 10 - 12 minutes until risen and puffy. 

I didn't count but this recipe definitely made more than 10 buns.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I love Aglio Olio...

I love colours and...

I love Pinterest. Why didn't anyone tell me that Pinterest could be so addictive? To the point of ridiculousness. Yours truly now needs a neck brace. And a good spanking.

Oh and I love presents.

J had given me these from her travels to Italy and Spain recently. How sweet ~ as sweet as the presents.....rainbow coloured pasta and a delicious looking red pesto sauce in a cute little jar. The pasta colours were all natural :)

I'll use the pesto sauce tomorrow but for today I was craving some Aglio favourite way to cook pasta...forever.

A, my sis, had also given me an enchanting kitty dish cloth  she had bought in Perth ...and which I'll never use as a dish cloth of course. I never use presents in a way that will make them wear out. I like keeping them like little treasures for important 'little moments'...... unless they are to be eaten of course.

N the girl had also given me a stack of beautiful Japanese plates and bowl "for your food photography" I had used them for some food photography as suggested. 

Aren't people nice? :)

Rachel Ray's Aglio Olio scored five stars. I just had to try it.

I quartered the recipe and used coriander leaves instead but this is the original ~

The recipe ~

Aglio Olio and Spicy Shrimp

Spicy Shrimp :

1/2 kg jumbo shrimps
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 chopped flat leaved parsely
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
coarse salt, about 1 tsp
2 T extra virgin Olive oil (evoo)

Aglio Olio :

1/4 cup evoo
1 tin anchovy fillets ( I did not use this..I'm sure it made a difference)
6-8 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp crushed pepper flakes
1/4 chopped flat leaf parsely
coarse salt
500 gm spaghetti, boiled until al dente

tomato and onion salad on the side
crusty bread as accompaniment

Combine shrimp with next 5 ingredients and toss to coat evenly.

Heat a large frying pan add the oil and fry shrimp in 3 seperate batches. Fry until the shrimps just turn opaque, lift it out and keep aside.

Return pan to heat, add 1/4 cup olive oil, add anchovies, garlic and pepper flakes. Break up anchovies until they break up and dissolve into  the oil and garlic mixture.

Toss spaghetti in the pan with parsely and garlic oil, then season with salt to taste. 

Serve spaghetti and onion and tomato salad and crusty bread if you wish.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


We went to the BIG BAD WOLF book sale! N the man, N the woman and R the man At MAEPS in Serdang......We arrived. We queued. We hounded. We hunted. These were what I snared. Thirty eight books with a total damage of RM415. NICE!

Ten of them were hard cover cookbooks, nineteen were novels and the rest were what-nots. :PPP

All books were at 75-95 per cent discounts. Al novels were a mere 8 ringgit each, hardcovers were 20-25 ringgit each and the rest were pure cheap as well. 

N the man snared a stack, N the woman snared a stack and R the man snared a stack. But I snared the mostest. Need I say more?

Don't be too jealous. I'm going a-huntin' again. Bulls eye!

YUM!.... Look at those cookbooks :)))

WOO HOO ! I snared the mostest. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I used to spy these gems at Chinese grocery shops. They were sold amoung many other kinds of biscuits which were stored and displayed in gigantic glass jars with push-down galvanized caps, usually placed strategically at the open end of the shop and were sold by the catty. 

Apart form Iced Gems we also had our local 'Oreos', our local Chocolate Bourbons, our local custard creams and our local Jammie Dodgers.....all being delicious legacies left behind by our then colonial masters. 

KGB (not the Russian kind) manufactures these biscuits locally today, packs them in large square tins and places them on supermarket shelves. The only thing that's missing in them are Iced Gems and loads of flavour. 

So this post was inspired by what I saw at Molliemakes. I now vehemently and officially declare Molliemakes as my number one craft magazine. Trust me ~

However, it wasn't as simple as getting the weighing scale out and dusting off the flour.  I found a (only) recipe for it from a blog called Pimp That Snack. I must say they came very close in flavour to the real thing. The real thing meaning average. Let's face it...we bought these because they were pretty, adorable and colourful. And who could resist biting off that hard sugar dome which dissolved in your mouth after a few bites and crunches. I couldn't. 

The most challenging part about making these Iced Gems was finding a small enough cookie cutter to cut out the rolled out dough into tiny half inch rounds.

After much hand wiggling and mind bending I settled for the round end of a large piping nozzle. I then had a hard time easing each dough circle out of the nozzle after every stamp. I used my clean fingernail. But ...yes I suppose they were worth the effort for Nostalgia's sake. Once the rounds were cut out i then used a fork to make the characteristic lines around the edges and pressed the circles down with my finger to flatten it a little before baking them. Jeeeez.

Iced Gems ~ the recipe ~

8 oz flour
1 T baking powder1/4 tsp salt
3 oz butter
1/4 pint milk

Pre-heat oven to 375 F, 180 C.

Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Rub in butter until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs. Pour in 2/3 of the milk first and bring the mixture together to forma  dough. If the mixture seems too dry to form a soft but firm dough add more milk. Roll out the dough on a floured board to about 1/2 centimeter thick. Cut into rounds about 1 cm in diameter. Mark the edges with a fork to make indentations all around the circles of dough and press down with your finger to flatten it a little because the cookie will rise upon baking. Place on a cookie sheet and brush with milk before baking for 25-30 minutes. take out from oven and cool before icing them.

Royal icing ~

450 gm icing sugar, sifted
2 egg whites
1 T lemon juice

food colours of pink, light green, violet and yellow

Whisk egg whites until frothy using a whisk. Stir in sifted icing sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the lemon juice and mix again. If the mixture seems too soft add extra icing sugar. the final mixture should be smooth but firm enough to hold a soft peak that doesn't flop over itself too much.

Divide the icing mixture into 4 seperate bowls and colour them accordingly. 

Place each bowl of icing into a large piping bag fitted with a medium sized star nozzle. I used a Wilton 22 start nozzle. you can also use a plain round nozzle. Pipe dollops onto each of the baked and cooled biscuits.

Let the icing harden and then store in air tight containers.


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