Dough-splosions

This is another classic case of recipe-in-progress that gets posted, so that I don’t forget what I did and what I want to try next time. Don’t ask what possessed me to attempt making bread, I don’t know. No less, bread that I can actually buy from down the road (since I’m still based in KL).

Perhaps stubbornness because I wanted to see if I could do it myself?


Not membrane-like at all. Think I didn't knead enough

I also had a bit of an explosion because I forgot that I was making bread and went off to do something else. Note to self: don’t leave dough alone to proof for 4 hours, it will try to escape the bowl.

Boom!

I made two types of bread, one was cinnamon sugar and the other was cheese sugar. I’ve provided the recipes for both. It wasn’t quite as fluffy as I would have liked, but I think that’s because I kinda don’t know what I’m doing. Suggestions welcome, and I’ll try again soon ūüôā

Cinnamon LoafCheese Sugar LoafNot quite fluffy enough - but I think that's my fault

TangZhong (śĻĮÁ®ģ)¬†Bread

Adapted from Do What I Like, though I also looked at Bush Gourmand. I made a bigger loaf and scaled the Tang Zhong for one loaf of bread.

Tang Zhong – apparently this fluffs the bread

130g water
3 1/3 teasp unsifted flour

  1. Mix everything together, and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously.
  2. Keep going until the mixture starts to thicken, and you see streaks across the surface when you drag a spoon across the top (I’ll add a picture next time).
  3. Cool to room temperature.

Bread

500g flour
200g water
10g milk or some skim milk powder – make up the liquid in water instead
2 tsp salt
2 tablesp / 30g sugar ‚Äď the typical amount in Hong Kong style bread is about double this, pump it up if you’re making a sweet bread
2 tsp yeast
50g melted cooled butter – I just melted mine in the microwave and let it cool to room temperature

2 teasp vanilla essence
2 teasp cinnamon
2 teasp brown sugar
OR
1/4 cup grated cheese
2 teasp brown sugar

Oven temperature: there are options…either 220 degrees C or 180 degrees C (I tried the 220 degrees C here)

  1. Mix flour, water, milk, salt, sugar (30g for cheese loaf, 60g for cinnamon loaf), yeast, melted butter, and tangzhong together in a bowl. Also add the cinnamon and vanilla if you’re making the cinnamon loaf.
  2. Knead until it gets stretchy, the “membrane stage”. I didn’t get there, so pics next time if I do. It also works in a bread machine for 2 cycles, about 10 to 15 minutes if I’m not wrong.
  3. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover loosely to allow it to rise. Leave it there until it doubles in size. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half in a warm room.
  4. Punch the air out, and dump it into the baking tin. Let it rest there for 15 minutes or so. It should pop out above the baking tin.
  5. Now add your toppings:
    1. Sprinkle on the brown sugar for the cinnamon loaf, or
    2. Sprinkle on the cheese and brown sugar for the cheese loaf. I added too much cheese so I had to “rescue” it, hence the crown shaped top. Don’t over-do it so that it gets too heavy or the top of the loaf will slip out the sides of the tin when it bakes.
  6. Bake at:
    1. 220 degrees C for 25 minutes. Then remove the tin, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes so the outside gets crispy. Note that the cheese burnt a little on this setting, so a little tweaking may be required.
    2. 180 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, with the lid of a pullman baking tin closed. I haven’t tried this yet, but the time seems a little short to me – to be updated!

Boilin’ Bomlea and the Pufftastic Tuna Puffs

Bigfoot found a fictional name generator and apparently my chef name is Boilin’ Bomlea. Go figure, I burn stuff sometimes. His was much more boring, after a few attempts he got BBQ’in Bigfoot, which isn’t anything to do with kitchen explosions at all. I like to think that I have a flamboyant style, rather than posing a threat to anyone else in a 10m radius of the stove.

He made these puffs, but doesn’t seem keen to guestpost. But, unless I write down the recipe, I’m pretty sure he will forget exactly how they’re made and then I’ll never get to try them. This would make me sad, because they look pretty tasty. And also, they appear to present the perfect laziness:impressiveness¬†ratio that I do love so. Hence, I could not let such a snack be¬†relegated to the depths of “some random yummy puff I ate that day”.

Wriggle wriggle wriggle wriggle wriggle wriggle yeaPuffy bellied puff

He also takes much better iPhone pictures than me. Though I suspect everyone takes better iPhone pictures than me. Cry cry. I shall never be a photographer.

Cheesy Curry Tuna Puffs

Inspired by Sweet Whisk.

2 sheets puff pastry
2 cans tuna in tomato sauce
1 red onion
2 tablesp fish curry powder
1 teasp chilli flakes – or to taste
1/2 to 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated – or more, to taste
1 egg, beaten

Oven temperature – follow the instructions on the puff pastry, ours was 180 degrees fan forced

  1. Fry onions until they brown a bit, then throw in the tuna.
  2. Mix in the chilli flakes and curry powder. Keep frying until the mixture is a bit dry.
  3. Let the mixture cool down. Meanwhile, defrost the puff pastry and cut it into squares.
  4. Put a spoonful of tuna mixture into the centre of each little square, followed by a spoonful of cheese.
  5. Roll up the puffs, and dunk them in the beaten egg.
  6. Bake according to the puff pastry instructions, ours took 18 minutes.

To try next time – add chives / spring onions, or cubed bits of potato

Yet Another Lazy Pasta

Lazy pasta needs no introduction, it’s the staple of quick weeknight meals. Using only one pot and requiring only one ingredient to be chopped. If you eat it out of the pan, you don’t even need to wash a plate (I definitely don’t eat out of the pan *cough*). What more can you ask for on a busy day?

Well, I’d also ask for a single serving sized tub of chocolate mousse. Oh but yes.

This pasta is like the comforting old house slippers of the pasta world – easy, quick, warm, and makes you feel happy. I don’t think I’d want stilettos for dinner every night, but that’s another story.

Not so appealing, but beautiful all the same.

No shoes were harmed in the making of this dish.

Spinach and Cheese Pasta

A riff on this pasta, but slightly less sophisticated and more spicy. And based on what I had in the cupboard/freezer. Takes all of about 15 minutes to come together.

5 cloves garlic
A generous handful of spinach, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup grated cheese – I used cheddar is fine, if you use something stronger you can use a less. It’s really up to you.
2 teasp chilli powder – I probably used more than this
1/2 teasp basil
A pinch of salt

Pasta for one – I used macaroni

  1. Cook the pasta, set aside. Drain but let the pasta stay a bit wet – this helps the sauce come together later.
  2. Chop the garlic, and cook over medium heat in a little oil with a pinch of salt. After the garlic starts to brown, add the chilli powder and basil, and stir.
  3. Dump in the spinach (mine was still frozen and it defrosted in the pan). Stir until it warms up and wilts.
  4. Pour in the pasta and the grated cheese, stir until the cheese is melted and everything is nicely mixed together.

Dirty Old Google, and Cake

Google, you have a problem.

Why? WHY?

Why would you do this to me, google? In the middle of the supermarket where people might see? They will think I’m some really dodgy person who looks up lots of dirty words on my phone in broad daylight, in public.

Before you start calling me a perv or any other slightly more colourful names, note that the reason why I was trying to find out how many inches were in 16 cm was because I was buying new baking tins. Cute, small, cheap Japanese baking tins, just the right size to split one cake recipe into two tiny cakes, one of which can be frozen for a rainy day (like today). They even have little detachable bottoms so they are a bit like mini spring-forms, isn’t that nice?

Cute lil cake tins

No, I do not search for weird stuff on my phone. You try googling “16 cm”, see if you get all these funny links too. I swear it isn’t just me, I tried it on a couple of different computers with similar results.

Anyway. Words don’t do justice to this cake, it tastes awesome. Even people other than me admitted as much. So that means I’m not just tooting my own horn. Snigger. Okay, inappropriate, enough.

All that's missing is a little squirrel Brown butter does not look appealing Hazelnut powder Dry like the desert

But seriously, don’t you think blogging is a little self indulgent sometimes? Who wants to read whatever random drivel I decided to spout, standing on my little soap box in this corner of the web?

I like the spotty batter See the little bit that flaked off? Line your baking tins! I will figure out how to get the hazelnut spread to set soon. I think the oil content was too high Rustically artistic, or messy? Who am I kidding?

It’s okay, don’t feel sad. Eat some cake, you’ll feel better. About yourself and about the world and about everything else, all of which will turn into sunshine and unicorns, after you eat this cake. Seriously. Do iiittttt. And stop thinking about google and dirty words, you’re kinda disgusting.

Sunshine and ponies and butterflies

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake with Cream Cheese White Chocolate Faux French Buttercream

Bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? The cake is adapted from Smitten Kitchen (who originally got it from Sunday Suppers at Lucques). The faux French buttercream is adapted from Bravetart’s recipe, edited slightly because I ran out of butter and reduced to reflect the number of egg yolks I had left.

Cake

140g hazelnuts – I didn’t bother removing the skins FYI, no big deal
225g butter
135g icing sugar
40g flour
5 extra-large egg whites – I used 6 because my eggs were smallish, save the yolks for the buttercream
3 tablesp caster sugar
1 teasp vanilla essence

Oven temperature: 175 degrees C. I used 2x 6 inch pans, it’s probably a good idea to line them if you use anything larger.

  1. Toast the hazelnuts for about 10-15 minutes, until they turn chocolate brown and smell like nutella. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cook the butter over medium heat until it turns brown and smells like toast. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t burn or bubble over, and cooks evenly. Once you’re done, leave the butter to cool. Let it cool to close to room temperature before adding it to the cake batter!
  3. In a food processor grind the hazelnuts with the icing sugar until fine like breadcrumbs. Add the flour and pulse a couple of times to sift and mix. If you’re so lucky as to have hazelnut powder, just sift everything together instead.
  4. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites with the caster sugar until they are stiff and dry. Stiff and proud like a captured knight in armour, who has lost the battle but never his dignity. Yes, I’ve been reading too many fantasy novels, leave me alone. Turn egg whites out into a big mixing bowl.
  5. Fold in the hazelnut flour and (cooled!) brown butter into the egg whites in thirds, alternating between the two. Be gentle! The egg whites look like they deflate a lot, but that’s alright as long as you’ve whipped them good earlier.
  6. Pour out into a the cake tins, and bake for about 40 minutes, checking afterwards.

Buttercream

6 egg yolks – you saved these from the cake batter earlier, about 100g
100g sugar
200g butter – softened
100g philly cheese – softened
150g white chocolate – melted, whisked, and cooled
1 teasp vanilla essence

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they go pale.
  2. Put everything over a water bath, and heat until about 65 degrees C, stirring all the while. You need to see some steam coming off the top. Once you see the steam, take the eggs off the water bath.
  3. So now you have two choices. You can either whip the eggs until they cool (takes forever!) or you can bung it in the fridge for a bit, have a cup of tea, then come back when they have cooled down. Then whip them on high until the mixture thickens and approximately doubles in volume.
  4. Drop in the chunks of butter and cheese, and keep mixing on high. It should come together and get shiny after a while. If the buttercream gets too runny, put it in the fridge for a bit and then try again once it cools down.
  5. Add the chocolate and vanilla essence and keep mixing. See how it holds its shape much better? I think (not sure) that that’s because of the chocolate.
  6. You’re ready to go ice cakes now. If the icing is a little soft just stick it in the fridge for a bit, it’ll firm up.

Notes: the buttercream recipe makes enough icing to ice both cakes “sandwich fashion” like I did. But, I only torted + iced one cake, and froze the rest of the icing along with the second cake – the icing keeps for a couple of months in the freezer pretty well apparently. I also had a nutella sauce that I put in the centre of the cake, but that was a bit runny so I’d advise just spreading some nutella on the underside of the top tier if you want to match that effect. If I figure out how to get the nutella sauce to set nicely, I’ll add the recipe for that too.

Sambalicious Greens

Random thought: asparagus looks more like fingers than ladies fingers (bhindi), in my opinion. Stubby, weird fingers, but still.

Ladies fingers (bhindi) look like talons that come off some strange and massive creature from a long distant past.

A pile of green

Sambal asparagus (well, sambal-anything really) is one of my favourite vegetables to eat in restaurants, but not to eat at home. Why? It’s more hassle than the garlic-oyster-sauce variety. But well, the result is worth it. And if you make loads of sambal ¬†and store it like Rasa Malaysia suggests, then I suppose a sambal-vegetable should be faster than any other sort. ¬†I’m an inconsistent sambal-eater at home, so I didn’t bother making extra.

Sambal necessities

As you might have guessed by now, you can make sambal-anything and it will still taste good. Mostly green veg will work the best (I think), but it would be nice with eggplant too. Perhaps pumpkin? I’ll have to try that.

I could eat only sambal asparagus for meals on end

Sambal Asparagus

Adapted from Rasa Malaysia. I reduced the sambal amount because I only wanted enough for this dish, so the proportions are just slightly different.

5 dried chillies
2 fresh chillies
2 shallots
1 clove garlic
1 teasp belacan

200g asparagus – use young asparagus, or peel it! I forgot and served unpeeled large asparagus, fellow diners were not amused
A few prawns – with the shell removed is easier to eat
1/4 teasp sugar
1/4 teasp fish sauce

  1. Blend the chillies (dried and fresh), shallots, garlic, and belacan into a thick paste.
  2. Fry the sambal in a wok in a little oil, until you smell the belacan (believe me, you won’t miss it. Open your windows).
  3. Add the prawns and stir them in quickly, then dump in the asparagus.
  4. Add the fish sauce and sugar, and stir in. Taste, and adjust as needed. Keep cooking until the asparagus is done through.

 

Leeks and Bouncy Prawns

Sometimes you want real food, and sometimes you make pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying pasta isn’t food. All I’m saying is that the times I make pasta don’t seem to be the times when I’m exceptionally excited / ambitious about cooking. Pasta fulfills a very important role as “standby food”.

I make pasta when:

  • I’m tired and I can’t be bothered to cook
  • There is nothing in the cupboard and I don’t feel like shopping
  • I’m being cheap because I just bought something fancy and used up the rest of my food budget for the month
  • I want to do as little washing up as possible because it’s cold outside and I’m cold and washing up makes me cold (yes, I hate the cold)
  • I’m not really hungry but it’s dinnertime and the auntie who lives in my brain is forcing me to have a so-called square meal

Some like it hot Leeks are quite pretty somehow Bathing in icy water Yes chilli please And next the leek And the lightly cooked bouncy prawns Also tastes good cold, and for lunch tomorrow

I’m totally misjudging pasta here because it’s really quite satisfying. Especially when it has bouncy bouncy prawns in it.

boing boing boing

Chilli, Leek, and Prawn Pasta

Inspired by a combination of Taste.com.au, and The Age. Neither of them did exactly what I wanted though, much editing ensued.

3-4 servings of pasta – spaghetti or similar is better
2 leeks
5 cloves garlic
2 chillies
200g prawns – shelled
1.5 tablesp lemon juice, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan to sprinkle, I like lots

  1. Peel the prawns and let them sit in a bowl of icy cold water to ensure optimum bounciness while maintaining laziness. For a true bouncy prawn you apparently need to marinade at pH9.
  2. Cook the pasta. Drain and set aside. Keep a little cup of the pasta water.
  3. Dump the peeled garlic and chilli (with the stem and end cut off) into the chopper for a quick whiz. Start frying in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt too.
  4. Slice the leek into rounds. Throw away the super hard green part. When the garlic goes golden, throw the leeks into the pan.
  5. Once the leeks soften, add the prawns. Keep going until they’re just cooked.
  6. Put the pasta into the pan and mix it all up. Add a little pasta water to get the sauce moving.
  7. Season with lemon, salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parmesan. Toss and enjoy for dinner, and tomorrow’s lunch.

Oddities involving Orange, Cheese, and Raisins

So some people have already told me that this sounds like quite a strange cake. They even went as far as to say something to the effect of: “so if your cake sounds weird, can I always assume in future that the weird bits are things that you added?”

Why yes, you can in fact assume that it was me who created the odd flavour combination. This was originally a plain orange cake, with a chocolate sauce. The recipe’s original creator intended to be one of those wedding cake types that stacks 3 tiers high with white chocolate¬†cigarillos¬†stuck to the outside of it. I just threw whatever was in my fridge into it. Totally not expecting it to taste so good. This is the first cake I’ve ever made that was eaten in its¬†entirety¬†almost immediately. It has a nice crunchy crust and does absolutely not need any icing, being very satisfying all on its own. My favourite kind of cake.

I feel calm just looking at this

Be warned that it’s not mega-sweet, probably because of the orange rind in it. So you feel fresh and happy after eating, rather than sick from overindulgence. This means you can eat more. Again, I like it that way, so there.

It’s the sort of cake you eat in the afternoon, when it’s cold and raining outside, with a mug of steaming tea. You can look out the window in a state of contemplation while watching raindrops falling if you choose, but I think that’s boring and would rather read a book. If you like you can toast a slice and have it with a little butter, but you really don’t need to do that (in fact, I never do that with cake. I feel like it’s a waste of cake. But you could, if you wanted to). I realise that you can eat most cakes in the afternoon with a cup of tea, but you will feel the calmest after eating this one. It’s a soothing, peaceful, unpretentious kind of cake.

Moist crumb and a crunchy crust. What more could you want in cake and life?

It’s also a one bowl recipe, which I made pretty much entirely in a food processor / blender-type creature. Which meant that it took a grand total of about 15 minutes prep time (hence lack of process photos). Serious bonus points awarded.

Whole Orange Cake with Raisins and a Cheese Crust

Yeah so I’m not exactly sure where the original recipe was from, because I only have a photo of the single page in the cookbook showing the original recipe. It’s not my cookbook, and I have no idea who the author is. But….from what I understand, if you change more than 3 major ingredients, the recipe is basically yours. I changed 4 major ingredients and a bunch of proportions, and the method – I suppose that makes it my recipe?

115g butter – softened
115g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
165g flour
1.5 teasp baking powder
1/2 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of hard cheese like cheddar or parmesan Рgrated using the small holes on the grater. You can use a bit less if you like, but I enjoy the burnt cheese crust
1 orange
2 cups water
2-3 tablesp milk (if needed)
A pinch of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C

  1. Zest the orange. Take the naked orange and it it in the blender with about 2 cups of water. Whiz it a food processor until it is thick and pulpy, then strain the big bits out with a pasta colander (big holes!). Keep 1 cup of liquid aside for the cake. You can drink the other cup if you want, but I wouldn’t, it’s rather bitter.
  2. Chuck the butter in the food processor and whip it a little until it’s a bit creamy.
  3. Dump in the sugar, keep whipping until the mixture goes pale.
  4. Throw in the eggs and about a tablespoon of the flour to prevent curdling. Keep on mixing. Yes, still in the food processor.
  5. Pour everything into a bowl, and fold in the flour, baking powder, salt, raisins, zest, and the cup of “juice” you kept aside earlier into the batter.
  6. Check: is the batter loose enough that it plops off the side of a spoon easily when you pick it up and turn it upside down? If not, add some milk. Keep adding until you get to a slightly looser consistency. You need the batter to plop off the spoon easily back into the bowl. I added about 3 tablespoons of milk.
  7. Put everything into a baking tin, smooth out the batter and sprinkle the cheese on top. I baked for about 45 minutes, but used a shallow baking tin. If you use a loaf tin it might take a little longer because the cake would be thicker. I actually think it’d be even nicer in a loaf tin, because you get a better crust:slice ratio ūüôā

Vege + Dressing = Instafood

Problem: want to eat fresh vegetables, but too lazy to cook after the effort of making onigiri. Here is your solution!

Fresh and crisp and tasty

Tastes best with crispy fresh asparagus, because it’s one of those recipes where the taste of the actual vegetable comes through. It’d probably work with any vegetable actually, or even as a nice salad dressing.

Now wasn't that simple

Asparagus with Sesame Dressing

Adapted from About.com’s Japanese Food section. I wonder if it’s some sort of crime to use recipes from here? I’ve never seen other bloggers use anything from About.com.

About 200g of young asparagus
2-3 tablesp sushi vinegar
1 tablesp soya sauce
1 tablesp sesame oil
2 teasp sugar – or to taste
A few shakes of white pepper
Sesame seeds – I didn’t have this but it would be nice

  1. Cook the asparagus somehow. I fried mine in a little oil, but you could also steam or blanche if you feel so inclined.
  2. Mix up all the sauces and the sugar. Taste. Adjust if you like.
  3. Pour the sauce over the asparagus, add the pepper, and some sesame seeds if you have them.

Japanese Food-Smuggling

I like onigiri. Very much. It’s satisfying and fun, and a bit of a novelty to me to be honest. But it’s a bit of a hassle (because I’m slow and not a professional Japanese food person).

What that means is that I need an excuse for onigiri, else I feel like I’m spending far too much time on what is essentially a snack.

Raw salmon is one of the prettiest raw fish in my opinion Salmon spa therapy Probably it's a bit black because of the sugar in the sushi vinegar Flaked and back in the pan

Watching Batman in on Imax ¬†in a country that doesn’t seem to understand the greatness of caramel popcorn is a reasonable excuse. Seriously, Melbournians. Do you not know what a crime this is? Cinema without caramel popcorn?

If anyone finds a cinema with awesome caramel popcorn in Melbourne, give me a shout because I’d love to know about it. Until then, please don’t squeal on ¬†me as I smuggle food into the movies. I’ll share, promise!

Furikakeeee-haiMisshapen yes. Remember what I said about not being a professional Japanese food person?Back to the onigiri – this filling keeps well and is a little more exciting than the tuna filling I used here. Apparently it also freezes well. I didn’t have any leftover to freeze because I ate the remainder on rice for lunch with asparagus. You can sprinkle it on pretty much anything ūüôā

(Mini) lunch

Spicy Salmon Furikake

Adapted from Just Bento. As I might have mentioned before, I don’t generally cook with wine so I’ve subbed out the mirin.

You can find the onigiri rice and shaping method here, I didn’t fry them this time – I just wrapped them in clingwrap. Keep them at room temperature if you’re going to eat them soon, else you can stash them in the fridge. I’ve frozen onigiri as well for a week or two (but the rice gets a little hard). If you freeze/fridge them, you can either zap them in the microwave for a few seconds and then eat once they reach room temperature, or just wait for them to warm up naturally.

1 slab of salmon – mine wasn’t that big, as you cansee
Approx 1/4 cup sushi vinegar – to steam
2 tablesp sushi vinegar – to fry
2-3 teasp soya sauce – I added 2 first, and then a third because it was a little sweetish
1-2 teasp sugar – taste it and see what you like
Chilli flakes to taste
A bunch of salt

  1. Rub the salmon with salt and stick it in the fridge for at least an hour to dry out.
  2. Wipe any moisture off the fish, then put it in a non-stick frying pan (or a normal pan, skin side down if your fish has skin). Pour in about a 1/4 of a cup of sushi vinegar.  I also added a little bit of oil to prevent stickage. Cover the pan and steam the fish over medium heat, until most of the sushi vinegar has evaporated and the fish is cooked through.
  3. Take the salmon out and flake it with a fork.
  4. Wipe out the inside of the frying pan, then throw the fish flakes back in. Add 2 tablesp of sushi vinegar, the soya sauce, and sugar. Taste and rebalance if you find it a bit sweet or salty. Keep stirring, the heat should be on medium.
  5. Keep going until the furikake gets as dry as you want it to be. As you can see mine was still a little moist. When you’re done, shake in a few chilli flakes and stir (I put in quite a bit more than a few…)

Massive MacFails

Oh it can’t be so hard. Macarons are just meringue and I know how to do meringue. It’s all just talk, people complaining about how they are so difficult. How tough could it be? Perhaps I can knock out like a hundred and fifty of them easily. Because meringue is easy and I know how to do meringue.

Cue deranged laughter wahahaha. I bet they failed just to spite me.