Friday, January 28, 2011

TGIF and My Two "Boys"

TGIF and thought I'd leave you with some pictures of my two "boys".

Milo 1

Benji 1

Milo 2

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sambal Petai Udang (Spicy Prawns with Stinky Beans)

You'll either love it or hate it. If you live in South East Asia you would have likely come across this particular bean. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is known as Petai. The botanical name for this is Parkia Speciosa. To the layman, it is known as stinky beans and it is really an acquired taste. Reason being is that it has a very strong all-pervasive smell that lingers in the mouth and in the excretory systems of the body.

The beans are popular in Asia, particularly Malaysia, Northern India, Indonesia and Thailand. They are sold in clusters, still in their pod, or the seeds are sold separately in bags. Petai beans or seeds look like broad beans. Like mature broad beans, they have to be peeled before cooking. The beans are known to help in treating depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and constipation.

Petai 3

Sambal Petai Udang (Spicy Prawns with Stinky Beans)
Serves 4 persons


Rice bowl petai shelled from four or five petai pods, and peeled
4 tbsps oil
10 shallots, ground with one stalk lemon grass
2 Tbsps dried chilli paste
3 chili padi, sliced (bird’s eye chili - optional)
1/2 tsp dried shrimp paste (belachan)
1 tbsp tamarind paste mixed with 250ml water
200g fresh prawns, shelled and de-veined
1 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 to 1 tsp sugar (depending on taste)
Salt to taste (depending on taste)


1) Heat oil in wok and fry the ground shallots and lemon grass till fragrant. Add the sliced onion, chilli paste, chili padi and shrimp paste and saute for a minute.

2) Add tamarind juice and continue to stir till the desired consistency.

3) Add prawns and stir till three-quarters cooked.

4) Then add in the petai and cook for about two minutes. Add sugar and salt to taste.

5) The petai should be just half cooked to taste good.

Petai 1

Petai 2

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Matcha Macarons with Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache

It has been ages since I have made any french macarons. Not because I have been lazy but the last few times (which was more than half a year ago) I had tried making some, they have all failed. I had cracked and shapeless macarons, and all without "feet". Not that they lacked in taste, they were simply ugly!

So when my niece, Caitlin, from Melbourne came to visit me before Christmas, one of the things she wanted to learn to bake was french macarons. She is 11 years old and quite a little budding baker I must say. She recently baked a whole black forest cake including decorating it with icing for my brother's birthday last November. She even ventured into making her own fondant using a recipe I had posted in my blog and made little figurines out of them. So enthusiastic was she in this, that she sent me photos of them to comment. So how could I disappoint her by denying her wish. I did however warn her of my past failures and not to keep her hopes too high on seeing "feet" on these macarons.

When I first tried my hand at french macarons, one of the "safe" recipes that I had used was from David Lebowitz's blog. So I decided to fall back on this recipe again and it worked like a charm. Caitlin helped me to pipe the chocolate macarons onto the baking trays and she was extremely excited when "feet" eventually appeared.

A couple of weeks later I decided to make another batch of macarons on my own and I adapted the same recipe for matcha flavour instead of chocolate. I think I am going to stick to this recipe in the future since it has worked twice for me in less than a month.

Matcha mac 1

matcha macaron 2

Matcha Macarons with Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache
Makes about 15 macarons
Recipe adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway) by David Lebovitz

Ingredients for Macaron Batter:

110g icing sugar
1/2 cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
2 Tbsp matcha powder
2 large egg whites (about 60g), at room temperature
4 Tbsp granulated sugar


1) Preheat oven to 160C.

2) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

3) Grind together the icing sugar with the almond powder and matcha in a food processor for about 10 seconds. Remove and sieve through a fine siever and set aside.

4) Place the egg whites in a microwave bowl and microwave it for 10 seconds. Remove and place egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites until they begin to be frothy, about 1 minute. Then slowly add in the granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks. Do not overbeat.

5) Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).

6) Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

7) Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons. Leave the macarons aside for about 40 minutes. After that bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache


12 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
2 tbsp light corn syrup
¼ cup half-and-half at room temperature
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature

1) Melt the chocolate with the butter and corn syrup in a double boiler over barly simmering water. Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth.

2) Whisk in the half-and-half and sour cream. Refrigerate the ganache for about an hour before using to sandwhich the macarons.

Matcha mac 4

Matcha mac 3

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

How could any one resist chomping down on a delicious chocolate chip cookie? I am sure it is every kids favourite cookie. And pair it with a glass of cold milk .. even yummier! I personally prefer a chewy chocolate chip cookies but I do know of friends who prefer the crunchy ones. The most famous crunchy chocolate chip cookie which comes to my mind would be "Famous Amos".

When I first came across this recipe from Alice Medrich claiming to be the "best chocolate chip cookie ever", I knew I had to give it a shot. Maybe to proof otherwise. After having made them, I do have to agree that they are delicious and very much addictive. You can reduce the baking time about a minute to have a more chewy cookie or increase it by another minute to have a crispier one! Isn't this good - one recipe to cater to two different taste.

choc chip cookie 2

choc chip cookie 4

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
Adapted from 'Cookies and Brownies' by Alice Medrich


226g (2 sticks) unsalted salted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


1) oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until very creamy (If using an electric mixer, beat 4 minutes on medium speed).

20 Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until very creamy, about 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour. Cookie batter should be somewhat thick. Finally, add chocolate chips and mix well. If you want, refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to harden it a little and make it easier to work with.

3) Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough two inches apart onto a baking sheet lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, or lined with parchment paper.

4) Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

5) Transfer cookies to a wire rack or a cool surface. Wait about 5 minutes before serving.

choc chip cookie 3

choc chip cookie 1

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Pink Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Today is my birthday and I baked myself a cake over the weekend. A pink coloured cake to be exact as I do like pink. However I'm not the fanatical "pink" type of person where my whole wardrobe or furnishings are smoothered in this colour. I love a subtle pink hue and I think the "little" girl in all of us, do!

Anyway today is suppose to be a happy occassion - however a tinge of sadness does underlay it. The sad part is that I would never be able to to celebrate such days with my dearest LT. In the more than 15 years I have known him, he was never the type to display the romantic side of himself in public. However on special occassions he would present me with little gifts when I least expect it of him. He knew I liked pink and he would go out to buy me small little items in this colour, such as handphone cover, a pink tee shirt, pink golf set covers.


I remember on my birthday last year when I picked him up after work to go out for dinner, he sheepishly placed something at the back of the car. I didn't know what it was until we reached our destination. He then told me that he had bought a dozen and half pink roses for me. In the day time he would ride a motorbike (as it was easier because of the work he did), so I can only imagine how he had transported the roses back from the florist. I thought it was so sweet of him to do this.

In writing this, I dedicate this post to my dearest LT and to everyone who is in love.


"The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart" Quote by Helen Keller

Pink cake 2

Chocolate Cake with Pink Swiss Buttercream Frosting
Makes 2 layer 8" cake
Recipe Adapted from Here


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (alternatively use 1 less 1 Tbsp cup milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar. Let sit for 10 mins before using)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (eg. canola, corn, sunflower)
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I used espresso coffee sachets)


1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Grease the pans with some butter on the bottom and sides. Then line with parchment paper

2) Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.

3) In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

4) Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 6 cups
Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart


452g (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 egg whites
1 tsp pure vanilla extract


1) Beat butter with electric mixer until fluffy and pale. Transfer to small bowl.

2) In double boiler over simmering water, whisk sugar and egg whites until warm and sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to clean bowl of electric mixer; beat on high with whisk attachment until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes.

3) Reduce mixer to medium-low; add butter a scant 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

4) Switch to paddle attachment; beat on lowest speed 3 to 5 minutes. Leave at room temperature if using same day. (If you are staying in the tropics, it is best to put the frosting in the fridge for about 30 minutes before using.) Or store airtight in refrigerator up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature; beat until smooth.

Flower 1

Pink cake 3

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tom Kha Goong (Thai Coconut Prawn Soup)

Thai cuisine has such an interesting array of dishes as well as flavours. Their dishes incorporates the four vital flavours which is spicy, salty, sweet and sour. The basic ingredients used to achieve the four flavours are:

Spicy - chillies, peppers, fresh and dried spices, shallots, garlic
Salty - fish sauce, soy sauce, dried shrimps, shrimp paste, salt
Sweet - coconut milk, palm sugar, fruit
Sour - lime juice, tamarind, vinegar, vegetables

The ideal Thai meal is a harmonious blend of all the four flavours above. The dishes are meant to be equally satisfying to eye, nose and palate. A typical meal might include a clear soup, a steamed dish, a fried dish, a hot salad and a variety of sauces into which food is dipped. The meal is then rounded off with sweet desserts or fresh fruits.

This particular tom yam dish which I have posted is probably the lesser known of the two. It is much lighter and less spicy and uses coconut milk. You would find this recipe using chicken instead of prawns. Preparation wise this dish is easy and takes no time at all to put together. End result is a really delicious soup.

Coconut tomyum 2

Tom Kha Goong(Thai Coconut Prawn Soup)
Serves 4


500ml chicken stock (fresh or canned, unsalted)
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
1 lemon grass, crushed (white part only)
1 lemon grass, sliced diagonally 1" (white part only)
12 thin slices of galangal
200g fresh prawns, shelled leaving tail intact, deveined and slit along the top mid-way
100g red snapper fillet, sliced to 1" thick
500ml coconut milk (fresh or canned)
60g canned mushrooms
4 Tbsp fresh lime juice
4 Tbsp fish sauce (to taste)
8 pieces of bird's eye chilli (chilli padi), 2 lightly crushed, the remaining leave whole


1) Heat the chicken stock in a pot. Add in the lemon grass, lime leaves and galangal and simmer for about 10 minutes,

2) Then add in the coconut milk, chillie and seafood and bring to a boil.

3) Add the mushrooms, lime juice and fish sauce to the pot. Cook the soup on medium heat, uncovered for another 5 minutes.

4) Remove from stove and dish out into individual bowls. Serve immediately.

coconut tomyum 3

Coconut tomyum 1

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rich Sugee (Semolina) Cake

A sugee cake is really a butter cake but one ingredient that is different is the use of semolina flour. We have always associated this cake with Eurasian households and they would make this particular cake for Christmas or for wedding cakes as it is somewhat dense. It uses a lot of butter and eggs and therefore the rule of thumb is "have a small slice and don't over-indulge".

If you are unfamiliar with the word "sugee", there are alternatively spellings to this word which is ‘sugi’, ‘suji’, ‘sooji' or ‘soojee’. I further discovered that the word "suji" is actually Northern Indian and the origins of this recipe may have come from there.

This particular cake keeps very well in the freezer. You can also add in a bit of brandy for exra flavour but if you don't like the taste of liquor, you could add in a bit of orange zest instead.

Sugee cake 2

Rich Sugee (Semolina) Cake
Recipe Adapted from Here


220g unsalted butter, softened slightly at room temperature
100g caster sugar
3 Tbsp milk
100g semolina (sugee) flour
3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
110g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
80g plain flour (all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder1
1/4 teaspoon salt
120g ground almonds
50g finely chopped almonds (almond nibs)


1) Cream butter and 100g sugar in a mixer for about one minute at medium
high speed. With the mixer still on, add milk gradually, followed by the
semolina flour. Mix till combined. Switch off the mixer and let the mixture
stand for an hour. This allows the semolina to absorb moisture.

2) Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a rectangular tin of 7" x 9" or an 8" round pan on the bottom and sides. Line the bottom of the tin with parchment paper.

3) Beat eggs and egg yolks in a mixer till frothy. Add 110g sugar gradually
and beat at medium high speed for a full five minutes till pale-coloured. After that add in the essence and beat to combinine.

4) Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add ground and chopped almonds. Mix

5) Add half the egg mixture to the butter mixture. Fold gently till almost
combined. Then add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and fold.
Add remaining egg mixture and flour mixture alternately. Fold till all
ingredients are combined. Do not overmix.

6) Pour mixture into cake tin and smoothen the surface with a spatula.

7) Bake for 45 - 50 minutes. If the top of the cake starts to burn, remove the cake
from the oven after 25 - 30 minutes, cover the top of the cake with aluminium
foil, then bake for another 20 minutes. The cake is ready when an inserted
skewer or satay stick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes
at room temperature before removing it from the tin. Run a knife round the
side of the cake and overturn it onto a wire rack to cool.

Sugee cake 3


• Milk adds richness and flavour to this cake. If not available, replace with
water but expect a slight loss in flavour.
• The extra egg yolks add moisture and richness to the cake.
• It is important to beat the eggs well. This incorporates air into the mixture,
which helps the cake rise during baking.
• It is not necessary to toast the almonds before use in this recipe.
• Chopped almonds add flavour and some crunch to this cake. Do not omit.
• Buy ready ground almonds and chopped almonds to save time and effort.
• Plain flour gives the cake structure and should not be entirely replaced
with semolina flour.
• When folding the flour and egg mixture into the butter mixture, do not
overmix as this will result in a heavy and dense cake.

Sugee cake 1

Sugee cake 4

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