On The Menu :: Marble Cake (Mayhem)

On my days off – if I’m not teaching – I’ll lazily get into the kitchen for a spot of baking. I’m terrible like that – lots of plans swimming around in my head but such a procrastinator, it’s disgusting! Anyhow, in the last month or so, muffins of all shapes and sizes have been making quite the appearance. Alongside (some pretty ugly) Portuguese Egg Tarts. So as you can imagine, I am well and truly sick of baking – and consuming – muffins or egg tarts.

So seeing as I did not have to teach today, I thought I ought to bake something a little more “special” to munch on this week. At first I was tempted to revisit The Little Teochew’s Steamed Chocolate Cake but decided against it and in the end, settled to bake her Marble Cake.

Now, my Monday had not started out manic. But as I began to bake, I slowly but surely was descending into a kitchen nightmare. Hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20. For starters, I wish I’d read The Little Teochew’s post a little more thoroughly and had instead gone with Pick Yin / Life is Great’s Marble Cake … …

(a.) I would not have chucked into my MIL’s old food processor 225g of flour, 225g of sugar and about 100g of not-quite-softened unsalted butter; only to say to self …

(b.) “OMG. This food processor isn’t big enough! HTF am I going to blitz this all up?!” Keeping in mind that some 4 eggs and another 125g of butter hadn’t gone into the mix yet.

(c.) I then pushed on because I THOUGHT that a blitz or two will help “reduce” the “total size” of the unmixed ingredients (I know. WTF logic is that?!), so I switched on the food processor and hit “HIGH”. No. “LOW”. No… “PUSH”.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING TO MEEEEEEEEEE……….!!!!!!!! THE FOOD PROCESSOR DOESN’T WORK! HTF AM I GONNA SEPARATE THE FLOUR FROM THE SUGAR SO THAT I CAN CREAM THE BUTTER AND THE SUGAR?!

FMFL.

Now ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, if ever anyone tells you that they have a particular kitchen appliance in their possession, PLEASE DO NOT EVER assume that said appliance is in good working condition. ESPECIALLY IF YOU’VE NEVER EVER SEEN IT IN USE.

In retrospect, I should probably have tested out the food processor – hit a few of those damn buttons to see if it’d actually whizz or not. But being the ever so impulsive me, I just threw all the ingredients in. As instructed. I could have picked out the cubed butter and simply threw out the flour and sugar but I’m McScrooge remember?

To cut the long story short, after throwing out the obviously broken food processor, I cursed, swore, beat, blended, huffed, puffed and FINALLY, produced a Marble Cake for afternoon tea.

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The cake is decently yummy but I do agree with The Little Teochew on the texture of the cake’s crumb. It isn’t as fine as I myself prefer it to be so my next marble cake recipe will definitely be Pick Yin’s!

Bon appetit, mes amis! Have a lovely week ahead! xx

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Pocket Rocket :: Almost TWO!

In just a little under a month, Pocket will turn TWO YEARS OLD! I know, I know… I look like a crazy dog-lady which really, I am! I’ve always loved dogs/puppies and had always just lived vicariously through my friends who are dog owners. I never thought I would one day have my own little fur-baby to love and that I would be quite so nutty 😛

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so batty a dog-mummy. I take Pocket everywhere I can… And if I have to, I put him in a shopping bag 😛

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I can’t remember life without Pocket and I simply cannot bear the thought of life without him. He has brought such joy and happiness into our lives with his playfulness and cheekiness. Even at his naughtiest, we still love him heaps 😀

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Pocket’s very first picture that his breeder sent to me… To think he was only as large as that flower pot behind him!

Now that we’ve moved out of the apartment, I’m proud to say that Pocket is FULLY toilet-trained, which means he no longer pees or poos in the house on a pee-pad. I thought the day would never come and that I would have to buy him pee-pads FOREVER (as horrible a thought as having to buy disposable nappies forever)! After a few accidents and some crazy Mummy-moments courtesy of yours truly, Pocket now ONLY goes when he’s let out of the house. 

Thing is, Pocket doesn’t realise that he can use his “voice” to let Mummy and Daddy know that he needs a wee. He will simply sit quietly at the sliding door and sometimes, this means he’s sitting there for quite a while before A or I notices! OOPS. Bad parents we are but goooood boy, Pocket! Well done hunny! 🙂

At just the tender age of two, Pocket’s been to the vet a fair few times. The very first time was because of a TERRIBLE ear infection. The poor boy endured it for almost two weeks without so much a whimper. Gah. I felt horrible then for not paying closer attention to him.

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Dad called me the “greasy Italian” for as long as I had to be administered with the ear drops! *pouts* and Mum really shoulda closed that toilet door behind me!

Since the last time we visited the vet, there haven’t been any incidents, so for that we are super thankful! We just want Pocket to be happy and healthy – we really couldn’t ask for more. 

He is SUPER EXCITABLE when we have visitors over – he goes absolutely berserk when he hears the door bell! Once he calms down however, he is the sweetest pup you ever did meet and will let everyone and anyone carry and pet him. He’ll fall asleep in your arms and there he’ll stay… Until he sees food!

Pocket is sooooo greedy, I really think he could eat until he implodes and still not stop! A is such a softie with him and tsk-tsk, feeds him at the table. If I’m in the kitchen cooking, there Pocket will be too. He, of course, LOVES his treats and anything roasted, barbecued, raw and cooked. I’m surprised he’s still a really good weight and not obese or anything like that. I suppose it helps that he’s pretty active when we’re home with him and also because he currently only has one meal a day, most of the week. 

Two years old my darling boy… You’re still Mummy and Daddy’s baby and that’s how you will be for a long time more. We hope, at least! I promise you a playmate/companion soon but only after the house is ready k? *hugs* Remember, Mummy and Daddy love you heaps!

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Lucky me! I get to be on Mummy AND Daddy’s phone wallpaper! Coz imma cutie patootie!

食 chi restaurant, Victoria Park

With Asian restaurants in Australia, you never really know what to expect. More often than not, the food is always a little off the mark, so to speak. It’s always an interpretation of what the chef deems to be Asian or worse still, it’s been re-worked to suit the Australian taste buds. 

So when a friend suggested dinner at 食 chi restaurant, A and I weren’t holding our breaths. We just hoped that the food will be to everyone’s liking and really, it’s about the company, right? 

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|source: 食 chi restaurant |

Our reservation was for 8pm and when we arrived, the restaurant was buzzing! Every table was occupied, save for the booth seat that had been reserved for us. Even though there wasn’t an empty table in sight, the restaurant didn’t feel cramped, which is great because 食 chi isn’t massive.

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| The obligatory group photo before we started stuffing our faces :P|

Anyhow, we got straight into ordering and decided on the Kung Po Chicken, Beef Brisket Hotpot, Chilli Pepper Soft Shell Crabs, Crispy Boneless Duck in Plum Sauce, Sizzling Egg Tofu with Combination Seafood and Wok Fried Seasonal Greens. We later wrapped up dinner with an affogato for me and a Crispy Pancake with Red Bean Filling for the table. 

Did we over-order? We sure thought we did at first! But the food was so yummy that we polished everything off, without a hitch! The silence at the table as we first started eating were our compliments to the chef indeed 🙂 Although we felt the Kung Po chicken was a little on the sweet side and that the beef could have been a bit more tender, it was all good because the ingredients were very fresh and there was no extreme re-working that the food didn’t even feel Asian. 

And of course, with my sweet tooth, how could we skip dessert?! I’m always partial to a good affogato which IMHO requires great espresso and an equally great scoop of Vanilla ice-cream. In 食 chi restaurant’s case, the Sega Fredo shot was just what the doctor ordered with the right amount of crema. MMMM YUMYUM, Trina was a happy girl.

The best part of dinner was how affordable it was! With dishes at approximately $20 each, a lovely night out didn’t have to cost us an arm and a leg. 

If you’re in the area (Victoria Park) or just looking to visit a new restaurant, give 食 chi restaurant a go! Reservations are a must, especially on the weekends, so call in advance. 

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食 chi restaurant

14/366 Albany Hwy  Victoria Park WA 6100
(08) 9361 0036

On The Menu :: Moroccan Chicken Stew with Carrots, Apricots and Raisins

If you haven’t already guessed, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Dessert is probably my favourite course at dinner and I’ve always been a little partial to main courses that have some sweet, dried fruit in them. I guess I’m a big kid like that – need something sweet or I won’t eat my vegies etc 😛

After having Moroccan-style chicken stew for lunch at Kindy some time ago, I was determined to recreate it at home. I loved the party in my mouth with every bite of currants I got and I figured I could do the same with raisins – my favourite snack! To complete that journey to Morocco, I threw in some apricots too. The result – a lip-smacking dish that took no time to prepare! #WINNING 😀

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Carrots, Apricots and Raisins (Serves 4-6)

INGREDIENTS

1KG chicken drumsticks

3 large carrots, coarsely chopped

2/3 cup of dried apricots

1/2 cup of raisins

3 tbs plain flour

2 tbs lemon juice

2 tbs tomato paste

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

500ml Campbell’s chicken stock

salt and pepper

METHOD

1. Marinate the chicken drumsticks with a pinch of salt for about 30 minutes in the fridge.

2. Whisk together chicken stock, ground cumin, ground ginger, plain flour, tomato paste, lemon juice and a dash of black pepper. Set aside for use later.

3. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep casserole pot and brown chicken drumsticks, taking care not to over-crowd the pot. 

4. Once all the chicken drumsticks have been browned, add in chopped carrots, apricots and raisins.

5. Pour in chicken stock mixture and bring stew to a boil. Lower the fire and allow stew to simmer for about an hour. 

6. Serve hot and on a bed of couscous.

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So, tell me, do you like fruit in your savoury dishes? I know of people – chefs included – who simply will not stand for it. Why not, I will never know! I, for one, am pretty turned off by cashew nuts in food 😛 

I hope you give this recipe a whiz and if you do, let me know how it goes! Bon appetit! xx

On The Menu :: Steamed Egg Custard

I’m no MasterChef but I do love cooking and I love knowing the science behind it. I’m a bit of a nerd like that. Some tips and tricks I can understand the logic behind, but other things just stump me. It just simply, IS. A’s grandma will also tell me – as she’s teaching me – that as long as I do as she says, I’ll be just fine 🙂

One of the dishes A and I really love is steamed egg. Such a simple Asian dish and every mouthful just brings back wonderful memories of having mum and grandma force feed me 😛 The first time I made steamed egg, I THOUGHT I knew what I was doing. I used the very same bowl my mother-in-law always uses; I put water into the bowl up to the line as per her instructions; I even left a little gap so that steam could escape during the cooking process.

The result was a horrendous looking dish… The eggs were steamed but where was that smooth silky texture?! My husband and I had to make do with a steamed egg dish that was full of holes and just kinda BLEAH. We finished it, mind you. But we’re good Asian children like that – we finish off everything that’s placed in front of us. 

When I once again managed to get A’s grandma in the kitchen with me for a lesson – because she’s the chef bomb diggity in the family – I asked her to PLEEAASE tell me how to get a good steamed egg custard. And here’s what she said:

– Boiled water is best.

– Approximately three “shells” of water per egg used.

– Sieve the egg mixture and carefully spoon out as many bubbles from the surface of the egg mixture as possible, before steaming.

– Bring water to a boil in steamer and ensure that fire is on low when steaming.

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Have I done as I was told? Hell yea! And since then, we have not EVER had steamed eggs that did not look like this:

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To change things up a little last night, I decided to use dashi broth, instead of just water, and hey, presto! Japanese Chawanmushi 🙂 We had ours straight up – without the fuss of any fish cakes or shitake mushrooms. If you’re feeling fancy, please knock yourselves out! The best thing about anything home cooked is that you can have chawanmushi just BURSTING with fish cakes and mushrooms!  

Here’s how my Chawanmushi went down, if you’re interested:

INGREDIENTS

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

Dashi broth — 15 “shells” of broth was approximately 750-800ml. I’d save a “good” egg shell and fill it 15 times with the cooled down dashi stock. This is what I use to make my dashi stock:

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I used 4 packs because I really wanted a very strong taste of dashi coming through but you might want to use just 2 packs on your first attempt.

Pinch of pepper

Dash of sesame oil

METHOD

1. Add dashi stock to the lightly beaten eggs and mix to combine. Add a pinch of pepper.

2. Sieve egg mixture into your bowl(s) of choice and scoop off any bubbles from the surface of the egg mixture.

3. Bring water in the steamer to a boil, lower fire and start steaming your egg mixture. 

4. A large bowl of about 5 eggs will take approximately 45 minutes. If you decide to use individual ramekins/bowls, I’d say to check on your eggs after 15-20 minutes. 

5. You’ll know your eggs are done if they wobble a little. If the center still looks very wet, allow eggs to steam for another 5-10 minutes.

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Please have a go at this recipe if you, like me, love EGGS 🙂 I love eggs in all forms – steamed, fried, sunny-side up, scrambled… You name it, I love it! 😛 Let me know how you go if you do attempt this! Bon appetit! xx

Cook’s Block

“Cook’s Block”, not too different from the widely-known “Writer’s Block”, is what I believe I’m suffering from at the moment. I am just so BORED of the recipes that I’m recycling day in…. day out. Don’t you sometimes feel like you need a new recipe ever so often just to spice (pun not intended) things up a little?

After 4 consecutive weekends of baking muffins in under one hour, I decided I had HAD IT with them blueberry muffins! Choc chips included or otherwise! I had had ENOUGH! Especially since my very last round of muffins turned BLUE from me leaving my frozen blueberries in the mix for much too long (and also because I had thrown in an additional 100g too much of raisins). I was annoyed and was desperately seeking a new challenge.

So off I went in search of a new recipe and chanced upon The Little Teochew’s recipe for a STEAMED chocolate cake. The result – a cake that satiated the thirst for a new recipe, as much as it did a craving. A sweet, moist, fudgy, chocolatey craving. And boy did it bring back great memories! Childhood memories of my favourite Royal Chocolate Cake from Dino’s Cake House 🙂 The Royal Chocolate Cake is very much like Lana’s but for a fraction of the price and with a much lighter and fluffier sponge.

MMMMMM 

As for the chocolate pudding recipe, the following is what I used, except I should have spent a little more time whisking it AFTER taking it off the heat. Not that my pudding/frosting wasn’t good, but it could have been BETTER without a few visible lumps here and there.

Chocolate Pudding Frosting

INGREDIENTS

4 cups water (1 cup will be used to make the cocoa paste)
175g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
120g butter
90g cocoa powder
90g cornflour

METHOD

1. Combine cocoa powder, cornstarch and 1 cup of water to make a smooth paste.

2. Bring all other ingredients to a boil.

3. Take butter mixture off the heat and whisk in the cocoa paste.

4. Return butter/cocoa mixture to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and continue whisking for another 2 minutes.

5. Take the chocolate pudding mixture off the heat and place it into a larger bowl of icea, all the while whisking as it cools to avoid a skin forming on top of the pudding.

6. Cover with cling wrap, making sure to press the cling wrap lightly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.

7. When the pudding has come to room temperature, leave it to cool further in the fridge until the cake is cool enough to be frosted.

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I had soooo much pudding leftover after frosting my cake GENEROUSLY that I could take some into work for my colleagues to tuck into. It was also my husband’s after-dinner dessert for three subsequent nights 🙂

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The verdict: Well, the parents-in-law said that the cake is so wonderfully moist and fudgy – much better than those store-bought mudcakes! I guess it’s a win!

Bon appetit, mes amis! xx

 

On The Menu :: Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’ve been on a muffin baking spreeeee because these beauties – they’re so easy to bang out and always always ALWAYS taste yummy! Best thing is knowing that I have our “on-the-go” brekkie sorted for the week! 😀 If you know me, my car is where I eat and where I used to make/answer phone calls. It was the only time I didn’t have to sit in on a meeting or reply an email! A no phone zone it definitely wasn’t… Before I get stoned, please know that I used a hands-free set! 😛

Anyways, back to muffin baking! So, in my research to DEFINE the act of not overmixing, I chanced upon Michael Ruhlman’s culinary ratio and by golly, it all just made perfect sense!

Now:

For every 200g of plain flour, you will need 200ml of milk, 100g of eggs (beaten), 100g of oil/melted butter, 100g of caster sugar and roughly 2.5 teaspoons of baking powder.

Which means that the ratio is 2:2:1:1:1 🙂

In addition, the main “ingredient” should be about the same as the amount of flour. You can also replace all or a part of the milk with tea, coffee or any other flavoured liquid.

So now, we have a GREAT standard muffin recipe that we can adapt any way we so please 🙂 I know, I know – this probably isn’t NEWS to you, but it is to me! I love that I will ALWAYS have great muffins, as long as I work with THE RATIO.

With regards to not overmixing (which was what I’d set out to DEFINE in the first place), make sure to only combine all the ingredients in just 15 – 20 strokes. I could probably have settled for 15 but after biting into one of my muffins, I don’t think the extra 5 strokes hurt at all. As long as your batter looks lumpy and gross, you’re on the right track 😛

Bake muffins at 180 degrees celsius for about 15-20 minutes and when done, turn them out onto a tea towel to cool (as per Alton Brown’s muffin method man) or simply use a wire rack. Because I made mahooosive muffins, I only got 8 out of this recipe.

I have to state that my preference is for the muffin method – that is, one bowl each for wet and dry ingredients. I’m happy to skip creaming the butter and sugar because that just means less to clean up! What about you? Are you for the muffin method or the creaming method?

Can’t wait to try out other (sweet) muffin flavours! Gah! Bon Appetit mes amis! xx

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My mahoosive muffin!