Wednesday, 28 February 2007

The Bread Post: Garlic Bread

Garlic Bread

We make our own Garlic Spread - it's not difficult at all, and it jazzes up plain bread so easily.

Garlic Spread

100g Butter (left out for a while so that it softens)
5 pieces Garlic (or more if you really like the garlic)
1/4 tsp Dried Oregano Flakes
1/4 tsp Dried Basil Flakes
Salt to taste
A dash of Paprika (optional - and any other herbs or spices you enjoy)

1. Put all the ingredients into a chopper or blender and hit the switch.
2. Once the garlic pieces are pluverised, use a spoon and mix the spread more evenly.
3. Spread the Garlic Butter on any bread and pop it into an oven until you can smell the garlic aroma.
4. Serve the Garlic Bread with soup.

The Garlic Spread can be made beforehand and kept in the fridge until needed. While the spread can go on any bread, we love it on crusty French loaves.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Chocolate Shortbreads

Q: What do you get when you combine a very rich, thick, butter cookie with chocolate?
A: A little bit of heaven in your mouth!

This particular recipe did not come from an internet search engine, nor from an online forum. This recipe came from a children's book that Ethan borrowed from his school library. The book is called "Fort Biscuits" by Leslie Howarth.

Ethan insisted that we try out the very simple cookie recipe at the end of the story, and because it was so simple, and because we literally had all the ingredients at hand, we did. Since then, I've made quite a few batches of this delicious biscuit/cookie. Essentially the biscuit is a Chocolate Shortbread. It crumbles in your mouth into a chocolatey goodness! And YES, flavanols in chocolates have been found to be good for both the brain. Yummy brain-food, anyone?

Although the recipe actually calls for the biscuit to be rolled into balls and pressed into shape with a fort fork, I've found that using a cookie cutter makes the biscuit very pretty. Since I was baking this for Chinese New Year on Valentine's Day, I decided to use the heart-shaped cookie cutter to get this:
Pretty hearts all in ready for the ovenA mouthful of heaven in every bite!

Fort Biscuits (Chocolate Shortbread)

180g butter or margarine
60g icing sugar
120g plain flour
60g cornflour
30g cocoa powder
½ tsp vanilla essence

1. Preheat oven to 190°C
2. Cream butter and sugar.
3. Add flour, cornflour and cocoa powder.
4. Add vanilla essence.
5. Knead into a soft dough.
6. Roll dough into walnut sized balls.
7. Place on baking tray and press down lightly with wet fork.
8. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
9. Dust with icing sugar when cooled.
10. Store in an air-tight container when biscuits are cooled thoroughly.

The chocolate shortbreads go very well with a tall glass of ice-cold milk or milo.

Excuse me while I brush chocolate crumbs off my laptop. Smile

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Nuts! It's Steamed!

I love eating steamed chickpeas because they are such a cheery snack. They're my guilt-free snack, full of yummy goodness. I pack some for Ethan to take to school for recess, and he shares it out with his friends. Edna loves eating chickpeas as well, and would growl (yes, literally growl) if we don't feed her with it fast enough!

Steamed Chickpeas

1 Packet/1 Cup uncooked chickpeas (can be obtained from dry goods section at any supermarket)
1 Stick of cinnamon (optional - I just like the cinnamon for a kick)
Salt to taste
Water, at least 3 times the amount of chickpeas used

1. Soak the chickpeas in the water with salt and the cinnamon stick for at least 4 hours. Overnight is perfect. Make sure that the chickpeas have expanded.

2. Put chickpeas with the soaked water (enough to cover the chickpeas) in a bowl and steam it in a steamer for 1 to 2 hours.

3. Strain the chickpeas and remove the cinnamon stick.

Vóila! Chickpeas done. Enjoy the guilt-free snack! Very Happy

I've suggestions for soaking the nuts with tumeric instead of cinnamon. My granny used to do that, and tumeric gives the nuts a lovely yellow colour. However, tumeric stains, so if you're using it, soak the chickpeas in a metal container.

My family loves chickpeas also because if you look at a chickpea, you can see it looks like a little chick-head.

Friday, 16 February 2007

My Favourite Cotton Cheesecake Recipe

There are a lot of Japanese Cotton Cheesecake Recipes online, with a variety of methods and ingredients. What I like about this recipe I found is its simplicity. So far, it appears that this recipe uses the least amount of ingredients, and the least steps. (Can you tell? I like zen-cooking! *grins*)

Made for Christmas 2006

Made for Chinese New Year 2007

This cheesecake tastes great with fruits, so I decorated it with sliced peaches and marachino cherries for Chinese New Year... I figured the colours of the peaches and cherries were excellent for the season, and the abundance of fruits herald a fruitful year ahead.

Another view of the CNY Cheesecake

Cotton Cheesecake

7 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (If you're using the block, divide the block into 8 equal parts. They will be exactly 1 ounce each)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup superfine sugar (caster sugar; separate the sugar into two 1/4 cups)
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch (don't use plain flour!)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 1/2 cups boiling water

For the glazing
2 tablespoons jam (Apricot or Strawberry)
1/2 tablespoon water

1. Preheat oven to 175 deg celsius.
2. Prepare an 8-inch cake tin, line the bottom of the tin with baking paper and grease the entire tin with a bit of cooking oil. (I use Canola Oil Cooking Spray, available from Phoon Huat.)
3. Beat cream cheese with milk to soften.
4. Add half of the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and lemon juice.
5. Beat until smooth.
6. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until foamy.
7. Gradually add remaining sugar and cream of tartar to the egg white, beating until soft peaks form, about 8-10 minutes.
8. Put about 1/3 of the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, stirring gently.
9. Pour the new cream cheese mixture into the egg whites and fold in gently.
10. Pour into cake pan and smooth the surface.
11. Place cake pan into a larger roasting pan and place in lower rack of oven.
12. Pour enough water into the roasting pan to come half way up the side of the cake pan.
13. Bake 40-45 minutes, until a pick inserted in the middle of the centre comes out clean.
14. If the surface becomes too dark while baking cover with a piece of tin foil, but be careful not to open the oven door until it has been in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
15. You can eat like this, or you can put jam/glaze on top of it.

1. Put the jam in a sauce pan with the water on a low heat and warm up until it's melted.
2. Then spread the glaze on top of the cake.

The recipe originated from

The cake will rise and fall a little after cooling, but the texture is light and yummy. I added chopped peaches into the glaze mixture for the CNY version.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes

This is a new twist on an old favourite - Mac 'N Cheese in Cupcakes!

This recipe is fabulous because you can make the macaroni and cheese in advance, and pop them into the cupcakes and into the oven when needed. It's a great party food for both kids and adults.
Mac 'N Cheese in Cupcakes

2 cups milk
2 tbsp plain flour
1 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese (separate into 1 cup and 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
200g elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.

2. In a saucepan, dissolve flour to 1 cup of milk, stirring constantly until all flour lumps have dissolved. Add the remaining milk, stirring thoroughly.

3. Place saucepan on stove and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. (This is a Bechamel base; a typical 'white sauce' base for most pasta dishes.)

4. Add in the 1 cup of Cheddar and 1/2 cup of Mozzarella into the saucepan and stir until the sauce is blended. Add more milk if sauce is too thick; more grated cheddar if sauce is too thin. (You can add more cheese if you like it cheesier).

5. Add macaroni, stirring gently to coat well.

6. Line muffin tin with paper muffin cups and place one scoop of mac and cheese mixture into each muffin cup. Top with reserved 1/2 cup grated Cheddar. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.


6. Coat oven-safe dish with butter or oil and scoop mac and cheese mixture into the dish. Top with reserved 1/2 cup grated Cheddar. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

1. Add sliced button mushrooms or diced ham or bacon or french beans to give zest to the dish.
2. Top off with a dash of paprika, and dried basil or oregano.

I usually add the spices to give the cupcakes more 'colour'. I've made the Mac 'N Cheese Cupcakes for Ethan's birthday party and the kids love it. I made 2 versions - plain (which the kids love) and with button mushroom (which their parents love). Just allow about 5 minutes more in the oven if made in advance and taken out cold from the fridge.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Golden Bamboos (Cheese Sticks Biscuits)

More Chinese New Year preparation sort of recipes. This cheese stick biscuits (cookies, if you're American *winks*) , is a recipe from a Moderator, Jam, from Moms4Moms is a forum for Singapore parents and topics on the board range from dealing with children to family issues to lifestyle issues. The forums' cooking and baking threads are always a chockful of interesting recipes to try out - especially familiar family favourites.

I like Jam's recipe because it doesn't contain any salt - the grated cheddar cheese is already salty in itself, and the baked cheese flakes gives the biscuits a nice crunch. Besides, the golden sticks look great for CNY particularly because they look like little bamboos - and this being the year of the Pig, with the bamboos ('zhu') sharing the same sound as 'Pig', Golden Bamboos and Golden Piggies sounds appropriate, doesn't it? *grins*

Egg Wash and Sprinkled Grated Cheese

Golden Bamboos all ready for munching!

Golden Bamboos (aka Cheese Sticks Biscuits)

200 gm butter
1 egg
325 gm of flour (sifted)
40 gm of corn flour (sifted)
150 gm of grated cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1. Beat butter and egg in a mixer till creamy, then add in the vanilla essence, the flour and the cornflour. Mix well.

2. Add in the grated cheese and continue mixing till all are evenly mixed.

3. Roll the dough into long strips. Cut the strips into about 1 1/2 inches (see picture) and place it onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.

4. Prepare an egg wash of 1 egg+1/4 tsp yellow colouring. Coat all the strips with the egg wash. (You can omit the yellow colouring, but the sticks will look a little pale.)

5. Grate more cheddar cheese and sprinkle over the strips.

6. Bake in a preheated oven of 180 deg Celsius for 18-20 minutes.

The cheese biscuit dough can actually be made into any shapes according to the fancy of the baker. Jam recommended using a cookie cutter to shape it. I suppose this is one recipe that can be versatile for many occasions, and is certainly a very kid-friendly project to do. The dough is malleable enough for smaller hands to get involved without creating too much of a mess. And the result is a biscuit packed with calci-yum for those growing bones. *grins*

Monday, 5 February 2007

Homemade Bak Kwa

So, my first recipe here would be appropriate for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

Noel's dad says that the price of bak kwa is now about $38 per kg! Well, here's a fun (and cheap) project to do for Chinese New Year - make your own bak kwa!

Fresh out of the oven and sliced into bite-size pieces

A close up of the delectable sweetmeat

Bak kwa coins!

I found the basic recipe from, and like all intrepid investigators, I followed the trail of her bak kwa recipe to an obscure Taiwanese text. The internet has a few other bak kwa recipes (I tried googling "rougan", "rou gan", "bbq pork", "pork jerky", etc.), but most required long hours of marinating, drying the meat in the sun, and one even required the meat to be sliced in a specific manner.

The simplicity of Tazz's recipe is the use of minced pork. The difficulty? I suppose it's having to watch the oven for the first few slices to get the temperature just right. That said, watch the oven sure beats watching a barbecue fire! *grins*

I've tweaked Tazz's recipe because the bak kwa turned out too brown. To get the lovely red colour, I added Red Wine Dreg (or Fermented Rice Residue) or 红糟.

Here's the Recipe:

450g minced meat, with some fats (The fats makes the bak kwa taste better – trust me)

1½ Tbsp Fish Sauce
½ Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1½ Tbsp Hua Tiao Jiu
¼ Cup Sugar
¼ Cup Honey
1 Tsp Red Wine Dreg/红糟

1. In a big bowl, add the seasoning to the minced meat.

2. Stir the mixture with a pair of Chopsticks in one direction, until minced meat becomes like glue.

3. Put some (or all, depending on the size of your oven and baking tray) gluey minced meat on a baking paper (You can buy this paper in the supermarket. It's used to line the baking tin for baking cookies.). Cover the meat with a big cling wrap or plastic sheet and use a rolling pin to roll the meat to about 2mm thick.

4. Remove the plastic sheet and put the entire baking paper with the minced meat on a baking tray.

Baking (This is the tricky part):
1. Bake in preheated oven at 125 deg Celsius for 20 minutes.

2. Then increase the temperature to 180 deg Celsius and bake for about 15 minutes.

3. Remove the baking tray from the oven and let the meat cool for about 5 minutes.

4. Flip the meat over onto a fresh baking paper and bake for another 5-10 minutes at 180 deg Celsius.

5. Cool the bak kwa and cut into pieces* before storing in air-tight container.

*Be creative! You can use a cookie cutter to cut the bak kwa into round coin-shapes or any shapes you fancy.

This is a very kid-friendly recipe. Your children are able to help with the rolling as well as the cutting. Just watch out for their licking their fingers though - they might not understand that they'll soon get their saliva into all the bak kwa! *grins*

Edited on 15 Feb 07 to Add:
Cecily of, hit upon using char siew sauce in place of the Fermented Rice Residue and Fish Sauce. Although I haven't experimented likewise, I thought it is a distinct possibility in tweaking the recipe in the right direction. You can read more about her bak kwa here.

Posted by Picasa

Joining the Bandwagon of Food Blogs

There's something very inviting and droolworthy whenever I surf into a food blog. Somehow, seeing the yummy pics in those blogs excites my conceptual thinking and suddenly, I'm itching to try out the recipes that follow to see if the final product tastes as great as it looks.

Most of the time, they do. And if they don't turn out the way they ought to, I try to tweak the recipes until I get something I like.

My main purpose to begin this food blog is to publish the results of my cooking journey. The recipes I will post here are those that I've tried myself - and they work.

The secondary aim of this food blog is because Noel and I both believe that home cooking is an important part of being a family. We feel that being involved in the preparation of food somehow draws the family closer together. Certainly, Ethan enjoys participating whenever I bake something, and when he knows that the food he consumes is made by myself, especially for him, he eats more.

Finally, in this age where food scares are aplenty, we are undoubtedly concerned about what our kids eat. Moderation is key, but so too, are the ingredients that go into the food: No MSG, no sugar replacement etc.

Just making most food from scratch - and believe me, it's not that difficult to do at all.


If I can cook, so can you.

Just ask my grandmother! :D