Happy Mother’s Pie

A bit of a belated post – I suppose you can now see approximately how much lag time I have between cooking and posting, my patient reader.

And a belated happy mother’s day. For mother’s day, my mum requested an apple pie.

I guess given how much nonsense I pull sometimes, my long suffering mother definitely deserves apple pies on mother’s day.

Check out the "creative" lattice work

Surprised as me? It actually looks relatively presentable. I was not expecting that. My poor mother, I make pies “for her” but they’re actually experiments. Could have gone horribly wrong (don’t stare too hard at the crust, you’ll suddenly notice it isn’t latticed properly and one of your eyes will start to twitch).

The crust on this pie has a hint of cheddar, and I amped up the spices loads compared to the original recipe. I was also too lazy to pre-cook the apples and it turned out fine. You know me by now.

A note on the forgiving nature of pies: I forgot to put about half the butter in the crust; it still tasted nice and crisp with a slight cheddar sharpness. I do apologise my dear apple pie. I’m sure you will be way more awesome when the total amount of butter is added. Things can only get better! 🙂

Apple Pie with a Cheddar Crust

Adapted from Poh’s Kitchen, butter forgotten, no food processor, and spice mix completely disregarded. If I can do it you can too!

Crust

2 ½ cups plain flour – I substituted a gluten-free flour
190g unsalted butter, coarsely grated from the freezer is easiest – I only used 100g…let’s try and forget this ever happened
170g sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
½ cup cold water
½ teasp salt

  1. Mix salt with flour
  2. Add grated butter (still cold!) and rub it into the flour with your fingertips (yes…I left my chopper in Melbourne. I miss him). You need to get a bread crumb-like texture.
  3. Rub the grated cheese into the flour. If it doesn’t rub in like the butter, it isn’t the end of the world (mine didn’t). Just make sure that all the cheese is relatively well distributed in the flour mixture.
  4. Add water…only a bit at a time. You only need enough water for the mixture to just hold its shape.
  5. Divide into half, smush into two balls and refrigerate in cling wrap for at least half an hour.
In the meantime, make the Apple Filling

800g of peeled and roughly chopped apples (about 8 or so). I used a mix of green and red. Pie tip: apparently the large red delicious apples aren’t good for pies because of their structure. Don’t quote me there, I haven’t tried it out!
1/3 cup plain flour – I substituted gluten-free flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablesp ground cinnamon – yes I do, I do like my spices
½ teasp ground ginger
½ teasp ground nutmeg
Probably nice with some raisins 🙂

  1. Peel and chop the apples. Put them in a big bowl
  2. Add flour, sugar, and spices. And raisins if you have them. 
  3. Mix mix!

Then, it’s time to get artistic! As you can see…I’m not. 
Build the pie!
Dish – I used a shallow 28cm diameter pie dish
Crust from the fridge
Chopped apple filling
50g unsalted butter, diced into little cubes
1 egg, lightly whisked (for glazing)
A little caster sugar for dusting the pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Get the crust out of the fridge and let it soften up for about 10 minutes.
  3. Take half, roll out on a floured surface until about 3mm thick, or slightly thicker. Transfer into your pie dish as best you can without breaking it – I used a big spatula to try and pick the crust up. If it breaks, nobody will ever know. It’s not like they’re going to tip your pie upside down and inspect it. Just add more crust and squash it in the hole to fix it. Leave a bit of an overhang on the outside for crimping if you know how to do those fancy things. 
  4. Add the apples and shake them around until distributed relatively evenly. 
  5. Randomly put blobs of butter on top of the apples.
  6. Make the lattice! And crimp the edges! Clearly I don’t know how to do this. If it makes you feel any better, I simply cut strips and stuck then across the pie in a random order, perpendicular to each other across the pie. Then I squished the ends into the crust. If you want a proper tutorial I suggest you follow the link, I’m not at all qualified to teach you how to make a lattice or crimp anything at all 🙂 
  7. Throw it in the oven and bake at 200 degrees C for 15 minutes
  8. Remove, and brush on the eggwash. Sprinkle some sugar on the top. This is the big cheat, and how you make your pie look pretty even though the latticework all broke.
  9. Stick it back in the oven at 180 degrees C for 35 to 45 minutes. Mine was fine at 40 minutes. 
  10. Serve immediately! Don’t bother waiting for it to cool, why would you eat cold apple pie??? Add ice cream, or whipped cream, or vanilla yoghurt if you’re pretending to be healthy. Try not to burn your mouth.
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Desperate Times and Tempe Kering

Deprivation is a sorry sight, and sometimes you have no choice but to cave and help. Home cooked food is often the only cure, because, for whatever reason, the people outside don’t cook the food that you want to eat. Unfortunately, sometimes the recipient is so excited about the food that you end up having to eat it 3 days in a row. Not that that’s a problem.

And thus began the great Melbourne tempeh hunt. I’m sure that the natives of this fine and freezing city* are going to be able to tell me exactly where to get the  nicest and freshest tempeh, wrapped in a leaf just like how it is at home. But, at the time, I wasn’t privy to such information.

The search started, cold and damp, with a trip to the market.  Not just any market, but the Queen Victoria market. On a Monday, at 4.30pm. They should have everything right? Yes, it was closed. Please try not to laugh too much, it’s only my third trip to Melbourne. I don’t know these things. I tramped across the road to the nearby Asian supermarket, only to find that Korean supermarkets don’t seem to sell tempeh. Cold and despondent, I caught the tram home.

The next day I decided to search in a more targeted manner. I used the internet! Internet sources would have me believe that tempeh could be found in Safeway in QV. That sounded positive, and matched up with what my friend had told me the day before about a Safeway in QV. Full of hope, I made the 40 minute journey through the cold to QV only to find…that Safeway doesn’t exist. There is no shop called Safeway in QV Melbourne. How could both my friend and the internet lie to me this way?

After a thorough examination of the QV directory board I decided to try and check out the Woolworths in the basement. I haven’t had the best opinion of Woolworths so far, based on my very lengthy experience with them (a whole two trips worth of supermarket study!), as they don’t seem to have many local ingredients in comparison to Coles. That’s my local not Australian local, in case you’re confused. As I suspected, they didn’t have tempeh.

Now, I already knew that the directory board didn’t mention a Safeway but I thought that perhaps QV was being tricksy, and that Safeway had an external entrance, or was on another level. So I walked around the outside of the shopping centre. No Safeway. In a last ditch effort I headed to check the directory on the upper levels of the building, because, perhaps, they might have different shops, you know? Logic was slightly lacking at this point.

But as luck would have it, I spotted a different shop on the directory on that upper floor – Laguna Asian Supermarket! Certainly there was no mention of this on the ground floor directory (I’m not very observant it seems). Of course I couldn’t find the shop at first. So, I did the next best thing. I followed some Asian student-looking girls around the upper floor until I eventually found myself near the shop entrance. Just to clarify, I’m not a large man, I’m an Asian student-looking girl too so it doesn’t qualify as stalking. In that house of glory, tempeh awaited!!!

After the day’s escapade I found myself questioning again whether Safeway really existed – seeing as, after looking at the directory three times, I only spotted Laguna Asian Supermarket on the third go.

I was later told that Safeway = Woolworths. Anticlimactic much.

 

Tempe Kering / Tempeh with Chilli, Peanuts, and Sweet Soya Sauce

Borrowed from Cooking Tackle, and edited.

1 block of tempeh, sliced thinly – about 3mm thick. 1 block is about 300g.
2 handfuls of peanuts, raw
6-7 small to medium sized (5cm length) chillies or equivalent**
3/4 large onion (preferably red)
4 cloves garlic
4-5 thin slices galangal
3cm asam jawa / tamarind pulp, mashed into 3tablesp warm water
4-5 tablesp kicap manis (sweet soya sauce)
1 teasp sugar, more to taste
Salt as needed

  1. Fry or grill the tempeh slices until crunchy.
  2. Dry fry the peanuts
  3. Grind chilli, onion, and garlic in a chopper. Traditionally done with a pestle and mortar, feel free to sweat it out if you like 🙂
  4. Add fried peanuts to the chopper and pulse for a few seconds
  5. Heat oil in a wok, and fry galangal with the chilli paste. Fry over medium heat until the colour of the mixture darkens.
  6. Add the asam jawa liquid, reserving a little and tasting as you go so it doesn’t get too sour.
  7. Add the kicap manis, sugar, and salt, tasting until you are satisfied. Add all of the kicap manis, asam jawa, sugar and a pinch of salt to have it taste like mine – but be warned, I like mine a bit more sour than usual.
  8. Add the tempeh slices to the wok, mix til coated.
* Actual temperature:  between 10 and 18 degrees C. That’s really cold. Feels like: 2 degrees C. I am relatively short person and therefore have a high surface area to volume ratio.
**You can play with this to change how spicy it is. For a less spicy dish, use 3 large chillies and 2 small ones. For a bit more burn, use 1-2 large chillies and 4-5 bird’s eye chillies. I was unable to get bird’s eye chilli, and used regular small chilli instead.

Exercises in Bribery and Rojak Pasembur

It’s said that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Let’s just say that someone scored a double hot chocolate and macaroon afternoon tea for this little kitchen adventure. There is really nothing better than food for bribery, apologies, persuasion, and blackmail. Also, it was pretty good – and I don’t even like rojak pasembur (shock! horror!).

If you’re in Malaysia there’s probably no point making this, because you can just take a stroll down to your rojak-man to get one that tastes 5 times better. But for the overseas-and-deprived lot, I hope it makes your day a little spicier 🙂

Rojak Pasembur

Basic sauce recipe adapted from Kuali.com. To be truly authentic you should make the fritters too… I’ll save that for another day, it seems like a lot of work!

Sauce
400g sweet potatoes
3 cups water
1/2 an onion (preferably red)
5-8 dry chillies
3-4 handfuls of peanuts
4 tablesp kicap manis
2cm knob of asam jawa / tamarind, squeezed into 3 tablesp warm water
Sugar and salt to taste

  1. Boil sweet potato until soft. (I boiled the normal potatoes with the sweet potato to save time)
  2. Blend onion and garlic in a chopper until roughly chopped. Stir fry in a wok until fragrant.
  3. Blend sweet potato, then add the sweet potato and water to the wok. Stir and bring to a low boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Add asam jawa liquid and stir well. Simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Dry fry peanuts and pulse in a chopper for about 10 seconds.
  6. Add peanuts and kicap manis. Taste, and add more kicap manis if necessary.
  7. Add sugar and salt to taste (I only needed a pinch of salt, no sugar).

Component Tasty Parts
1 cucumber, grated
2 handfuls, of beansprouts, washed and rinsed with boiling water through a sieve, before being rinsed with cold water
3 small potatoes, boiled and sliced
1 block of pressed tofu, sliced and fried (preferably taukwa)
1 handful, chopped coriander (optional)
2 handfuls, mixed seafood (preferably squid and prawn), fried in batter – I used a box of batter mix, and added a dash of white pepper, curry powder, and chilli powder

  1. To serve, separate out each of the finished components onto separate small bowls / places. Each person can choose what they like, before adding the sauce. Enjoy!

Salt to the wound

“Emotional truffle salt”, I guess, is what drove me to write this post. My blog persona is about as non-existent as Kristen Stewart’s smile, and like her, I don’t really want to apologise for it.

We all know Lea is moving to several places in the coming year: KL, Australia, the North Pole. She’s like a serial mover. Like a serial killer, except she’s going to ravage each place instead with her appetite and ‘nom nom’ prowess.

And as for me? Well, I’ll still be here in good ol’ Singapore, attempting to find the best least-rated places. It is one of my goals in life to stop going to places that people say are “SO GOOD” and instead venture out to oddball hole-in-the-wall joints and find good palatable food there instead. I think I’ve just described myself as a hipster foodie, but whatever; at least I have the glasses and plaid shirts to match.

Anyway!

After months of pestering – “did you get it yet did you get it yet” – Lea finally got me the truffle salt I’d been begging for. I was all ready to give her money for it until she told me that Bigfoot told her that it should be some sort of consolation for leaving me here half a year earlier than intended.

Salt to the wound indeed!

Plus she hadn’t actually thought of the idea herself! Bigger ouch.

The grand flipside is that I get at least a year’s worth of truffle-flavoured French fries and pasta and corn and fried egg sandwiches. I’m going to run my full second marathon with a belly (bellea?) full of truffle avocado pesto pasta. That’s a pretty sweet deal to me, if I do say so myself.

So, whether we may be separated by a vast expanse of ocean – or the Straits of Johor – as long as we’re hungry, as God is my witness, continue to expect random sporadic posts about brutal dessert-making and street food reviews from around the world.

Good night.

How Not to Bake

Sometimes, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Other times only most of the things that can go wrong will, and you, to your surprise, end up with a rather presentable cupcake at the end of the day. Fortunately for team Bellea, this was one of the latter days. Of course, if it was one of the former, we might not tell you about it, because no one would want to read it. Except for me of course, because if I read about it on another blog then I’d know that all these so-called kitchen gods and goddesses scattered across the internet are mere mortals just like me.

This was a recipe that Bel had told me about quite a few times in the last week. It sounds amazing. It doesn’t disappoint. We think it’d be better with cream cheese peanut butter icing instead, but didn’t have enough $ in our wallets to cough up for a box of Philly today ($6 for a little pack! $6! Okay fine, we were just being cheap. But to scoff down the whole lot in one sitting…well I suppose we shouldn’t really be eating a whole block of Philly in one sitting anyway but that’s besides the point.)

So let’s look at the things that went wrong here, and then look at the final product and pretend that none of this ever happened:

  1. Batter on the wall
  2. Batter on the microwave
  3. Batter on the stove top
    … I think you’re getting the picture here. Lets just say I broke my high sided mixing bowl a few months ago*, and my hand whisk has a tempestuous relationship with my normal bowls.
  4. Ate too much batter with raw eggs (well.. I think this was worth it!)
  5. Put the oven on grill setting, realised 15 minutes later
  6. Ate too much icing (as above. You know my stance on these things now.)
  7. Bel had a peanut butter overdose and became comatose later in the evening
As you can see, this is quite a forgiving recipe.

There does need to be a disclaimer here. This is a very rich peanut buttery recipe, and only peanut butter heavyweights need attempt to eat a whole cupcake. Bel got sick the day afterwards with an unexplained illness, which may or may not have been due to mild peanut butter poisoning. You have been warned!

PB&J Cupcakes (aka Peanut butter and JAM. If I had said “jelly”, I suspect my inner ancestors might stage a revolt. Same with chips and fries. You know which one is correct! You can’t call them fries when you can cook them in the oven too!)

Halved, borrowed from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Makes 6 massive cupcakes – my cupcake tin’s quite large!

Cupcakes

185 grams all-purpose flour
45 grams unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 cup peanut butter – we used Skippy Supercrunch
130 grams brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablesp vanilla extract
1/2 tablesp baking powder
1/2 teasp salt

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C. Don’t use grill by accident, it causes uneven baking.

  1. Cream butter, sugar, and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium, until fluffy. Takes 3-5 minutes, or longer if you’re a masochist who decides to do this by hand
  2. Add eggs one by one, mixing between each. Then mix in the vanilla essence
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder
  4. Add dry to wet, alternating with milk. Try not to spray it all over your kitchen like we did 🙂
  5. Fill cupcake tin with liners, and fill these 2/3 full.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes, test with a toothpick

Icing
1/2 cup peanut butter – again, we used Skippy Superchunk
1/2 cup  unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup icing sugar
1 tablesp milk
1/2 tablesp vanilla extract

  1. Mix peanut butter, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy
  2. Add sugar and milk, beat until combined
  3. Set aside, you may need to cool it a bit if it’s a bit runny

Build the beast!
Cupcakes
Icing
Raspberry jam + a teaspoon

  1. Carefully cut a small hemisphere out of the cupcake. The bigger the hole, the more jam you can put in!
  2. Spoon in the jam
  3. Smother with icing
  4. Repeat until you can’t take it anymore and *accidentally* cut one of them in half, thereby necessitating that you eat it, because you can’t exactly serve it to anyone after that, can you?

* I tried to bake with it because I thought it was pyrex, and I didn’t want to do extra dishes. Turns out it wasn’t. Sometimes I do these clever things.

In Praise of Simple Vegetables

This is one of my absolute favourite ways of eating kangkung, but I can never figure out how to do it. It’s crunchy, and fragrant, not overly sauced or spiced. Comfort food at its finest.

But: no matter what combination of garlic, onion, chilli, udang kering I try, it never never works for me. I don’t know why. It makes me sad. It looks so easy, why won’t it work for me! Why, why, why?!

BFoot cooked this last night, and I immediately harassed him until he told me how he did it. I’m still suspicious as to whether this will work for me. Well, at least this time I’ll have it written down and can try again.

Stirfried Kangkung with udang kering

Serves 4 – 6, reduce as needed

1 large bunch of kangkung, enough for 4 – 6
1 whole garlic, chopped
Half an onion, chopped
2 chillis, sliced
A handful of udang kering, washed in warm water (dried prawns, small ones)
A few splashes of light soya sauce
Salt to taste

  1. Throw the garlic, onion, and chilli in a wok, and stir fry until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the udang kering and fry for a bit until the garlic is fragrant, but not crunchy. Add a soya sauce, equivalent to about 2-3 tablespoonfuls
  3. Mix in the kangkung and fry until limp
  4. Add salt to taste

This is a bit deceptively easy, and he laughed at me when I said it never worked for me. Laughed a lot. I don’t think this is any laughing matter. Apparently it’s a “no fail” recipe. Well, the purpose of this blog (for me anyway) is as much a store of unwritten recipes, as much as it is a journey through those that succeed…

Here’s a picture of kangkung cooked in a similar style stolen from the internet. Because I forgot to take any photos, because I was too excited. All credits to the linked photographer. My pics will be added next time! 🙂

Melbourne Series

I spent a week in Melbourne. Impending Fatness approaches.

There is no escape…


I just like to torture people 🙂