Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Daring Challenge

May's Challenge

This month's challenge is.... Apple Strudel. Hmm... Pat likes apple strudel or so I thought.

Never made it before so I was up for the challenge. Yeah, managed to get the dough to strech ... ish.., but not as good as the other daring bakers. Laid the sheet on dining table but it kept moving around. Luckily Liana was around the hold the cloth down. Had so many holes whilst trying to stretch the dough.

So here is my completed product! Back to Pat... he likes applie strudel but he prefers puff pastry to this pastry! oh dear. haha.

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Apple Filling
2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

- Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn’t come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;
- The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster;
- Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;
- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Sambal goreng

Sambal Goreng

I finally managed to get tempeh. I have been looking high and low for these. Tempeh is basically a fermented soybean cake with a textured and nutty flavour. They can be bought from certain health food shops but I could not find them or looked in the wrong shops. Then I thought perhaps I could make them myself but they dont sell the starter here in the UK but even if they did, the process is tedious. So gave up of eating my tempeh.. that is until last week when I was in a forum and someone recommended someone who made and sold tempehs amongst other Asian products. My goodness, was I so excited. Made arrangements to meet Fara and finally got my tempeh.

This is what I made. Sambal goreng is normally cooked with beef and a chilli paste, but I wanted to try a different recipe this time without chilli. This recipe is taken from http://mamafami.blogspot.com/search/label/Lauk-pauk

Life (food) is good! My craving has been satiated!

Potatoes ~ diced
Tempe ~ diced
Tauhu ~ diced
Long beans ~ sliced
Onion ~ sliced
Garlic ~ sliced
Red chillie ~ sliced
Mung Bean vermicelli ~ soaked
Fresh prawns
Tamarind juice
Shrimp paste
Coconut milk
Cooking oil

Method :

1. Fry the potatoes, tauhu and tempe separately till golden brown. Set aside.
2. With just a bit of oil, fry the long beans till slightly soft. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan and saute sliced onion, garlic and red chillie.
4. Add in the fresh prawns and su-un.
5. In a small bowl, mix tamarind juice with shrimp paste. Pour into the pot and stir.
6. Add in enough coconut milk just not to let the vegetable become dry.
7. Add salt and sugar to taste.8. Lastly, add in all the fried ingredients and stir to mix.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Gai see meen

Gai See Meen (Chicken with Noodles)

This is a dish that I make occasionally which is rather easy to do.


2 or 3 pieces of chicken thigh or breast (I like thigh meat)- sliced
6 pieces dried mushrooms - soaked and sliced
green vegetable - I used spinach
egg noodles - 150 - 200 gm/ person
1 cube chicken stock
2 tbsp dark soya sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
handful of bean sprouts
water from the soaked mushrooms
1 tbsp cornflour - mixed with some water

1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and then drop the noodles into it. If using fresh egg noodles, blanch for about 3 mins and remove from water. If using dried noodles, then cook for about 7 mins.
2. In the meantime, pour the water from the soaked mushrooms (1 cup) into a pan and add about another 1 cup water. Add the sliced chicken and mushroom and cook for about 5 mins. Add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and chicken cube or stock. Bring to
boil and simmer for about 15 mins. Add spinach and bean sprout and corn flour slurry and add seasoning to taste.
3. Divide noodles equally and pour chicken gravy over the noodles and serve.


Friday, 15 May 2009

Crab and corn gratin

Spinach and Crab Gratin

Today I had planned to make crab and sweet corn croquettes. But by the time I got home, boiled the potatoes, made the roux for the croquette, etc, etc, it was almost 8pm. (I got home at 7.15, btw). So I was thinking by the time I got the roux to cool down, my poor dears will only be having their dinner around 8.45. The roux has to cool down sufficiently for it to gel together to form into croquettes. I boiled the potatoes to make potato salad.

Ok, ok, change of plan. Decided to concoct a gratin dish then. Tada, my Spinach and crab gratin!

2 potatoes (depending on size)
1 can crab meat
1 can sweet corn
150 gm button mushrooms, sliced
1 onion sliced
25 gm butter
2 tbsp plain flour
Chicken cube
Grated Parmesan cheese
Spinach - blanched and squeezed dry


1. Skin potatoes, cut into cubes and boil till soft. Remove from heat and drain.
2. Melt butter in frypan, add onions and mushrooms. Fry till onions and mushrooms are soft.
3. Add crabmeat and sweet corn and stir. Add in the flour and fry till well mixed. Add in the chicken cube. Add in milk to make a roux and stir throughly. Stir for about 5 mins. Mixture should be gooey and not too thin. If it is, then add a bit more flour to thicken the mixture.
4. Mash the potatoes and add some butter and milk. Stir to mix. Add seasoning.
5. Spread the spinach on the bottom of a pyrex or heat proof dish. Pour the crab mixture on top of it. Add the mashed potato and lastly add grated parmesan cheese on top.
6. Bake in preheated oven - 200 deg C until top is brown and bubbling.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Daring Cooks

Daring Cooks - First Challenge

We've had Daring Bakers and now Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice have started the Daring Cooks! For our very first challenge, they have chosen Ricotta Gnocchi!

They have chosen a recipe from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

Hmm... very excited to try and make it as have not ventured there before. And I made Ricotta to boot. Recipe was from Audax. Thanks Audax. The ricotta was so easy to make. And it tasted great as well.

My hubby is not a great fan of gnocci, potato or otherwise - but I told him that this was my challenge and we would be having ricotta gnocci at the weekend.

Made my ricotta the night before. Read the instructions wrongly, so only had 1 cup but receipe called for 2 cups, so put in another litre of milk to boil, followed instructions but this time, couldn't get my ricotta to separate. Yikes, what am I supposed to do. Never mind, just add a little more lemon juice, wouldn't hurt would it? Ha, that did the trick, in a few seconds, got the curds separating from they whey. Woo hoo! So anyways, put in in a colander to drain overnight.

Next evening, started preparing the gnocchi. It was a little soft but managed to hold its shape even after poaching. Whew! Made a mixed mushroom sauce to go with it.
Verdict: My daughter liked it, I liked it but him.... still no! haha

Ricotta gnocci

Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi
Source: From The Zuni Café Cookbook.

Yield: Makes 40 to 48 gnocchi (serves 4 to 6)

Prep time: Step 1 will take 24 hours. Steps 2 through 4 will take approximately 1 hour.


- If you can find it, use fresh ricotta. As Judy Rodgers advises in her recipe, there is no substitute for fresh ricotta. It may be a bit more expensive, but it's worth it.
- Do not skip the draining step. Even if the fresh ricotta doesn't look very wet, it is. Draining the ricotta will help your gnocchi tremendously.
- When shaping your gnocchi, resist the urge to over handle them. It's okay if they look a bit wrinkled or if they're not perfectly smooth.
- If you're not freezing the gnocchi for later, cook them as soon as you can. If you let them sit around too long they may become a bit sticky.
- For the variations to the challenge recipe, please see the end of the recipe.

Equipment required:

- Sieve
- Cheesecloth or paper towels
- Large mixing bowl
- Rubber spatula
- Tablespoon
- Baking dish or baking sheet
- Wax or parchment paper
- Small pot
- Large skillet
- Large pan or pot (very wide in diameter and at least 2 inches deep)

Videos that might help:

- Judy Rodgers Gnocchi Demo
- Making fresh ricotta demo
- Making ricotta gnocchi

For the gnocchi:

1 pound (454 grams/16 ounces) fresh ricotta (2 cups)
2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter
2 or 3 fresh sage leaves, or a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg, or a few pinches of chopped lemon zest (all optional)
½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about ¼ cup very lightly packed)
about ¼ teaspoon salt (a little more if using kosher salt)
all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi

For the gnocchi sauce:

8 tablespoons (227 grams/1/4 pound/4 ounces) butter, sliced
2 teaspoons water

Step 1 (the day before you make the gnocchi): Preparing the ricotta.

If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. In her cookbook, Judy Rodgers recommends checking the ricotta’s wetness. To test the ricotta, take a teaspoon or so and place it on a paper towel. If you notice a very large ring of dampness forming around the ricotta after a minute or so, then the ricotta is too wet. To remove some of the moisture, line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels and place the ricotta in the sieve. Cover it and let it drain for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can wrap the ricotta carefully in cheesecloth (2 layers) and suspend it in your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours with a bowl underneath to catch the water that’s released. Either way, it’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.

Step 2 (the day you plan on eating the gnocchi): Making the gnocchi dough.
To make great gnocchi, the ricotta has to be fairly smooth. Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it as best as you can with a rubber spatula or a large spoon (it’s best to use a utensil with some flexibility here). As you mash the ricotta, if you noticed that you can still see curds, then press the ricotta through a strainer to smooth it out as much as possible.

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta.

Melt the tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the sage if you’re using it. If not, just melt the butter and add it to the ricotta mixture.

Add in any flavouring that you’re using (i.e., nutmeg, lemon zest, etc.). If you’re not using any particular flavouring, that’s fine.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the salt.

Beat all the ingredients together very well. You should end up with a soft and fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well).

Step 3: Forming the gnocchi.
Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously and keep it at a simmer. You will use this water to test the first gnocchi that you make to ensure that it holds together and that your gnocchi batter isn’t too damp.

In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s ½ an inch deep.

With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl and form a large mass in the centre of your bowl.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter and then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour.

At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi and cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour and plump.

Gently place your gnocchi in the simmering water. It will sink and then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes.

If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter and beat that in. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success.

Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them.

Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper and dust it with flour.

You can cook the gnocchi right away, however, Judy Rodgers recommends storing them in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up.

Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi.
Have a large skillet ready to go. Place the butter and water for the sauce in the skillet and set aside.

In the largest pan or pot that you have (make sure it’s wide), bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil (you can use as much as 3 quarts of water if your pot permits). You need a wide pot or pan so that your gnocchi won’t bump into each other and damage each other.

Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.

Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes (as in the case with the test gnocchi).

When the gnocchi float to the top, you can start your sauce while you wait for them to finish cooking.

Place the skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Swirl it gently a few times as it melts. As soon as it melts and is incorporated with the water, turn off the heat. Your gnocchi should be cooked by now.

With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water and gently drop into the butter sauce. Carefully roll in the sauce until coated. Serve immediately.

Variations: For the gnocchi, you can flavour them however you wish. If you want to experiment by adding something to your gnocchi (i.e., caramelized onion, sundried tomato), feel free to do so. However, be forewarned, ricotta gnocchi are delicate and may not take well to elaborate additions. For the sauce, this is your chance to go nuts. Enjoy yourselves. Surprise us!!!

Freezing the gnocchi: If you don’t want to cook your gnocchi right away or if you don’t want to cook all of them, you can make them and freeze them. Once they are formed and resting on the flour-dusted, lined tray, place them uncovered in the freezer. Leave them for several hours to freeze. Once frozen, place them in a plastic bag. Remove the air and seal the bag. Return to the freezer. To cook frozen gnocchi, remove them from the bag and place individually on a plate or on a tray. Place in the refrigerator to thaw completely. Cook as directed for fresh gnocchi.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Fried Tapioca Kueh

Fried tapioca kueh

Had a craving for the pasir malam type fried tapioca kueh


250 gm grated Tapioca
150 gm sugar
60 gm plain flour
125 gm grated coconut (without skin)
5 gm pandan juice
green colouring paste/liquid
3 tbsp water

1. Mix grated tapioca with sugar together in a mixing bowl.
2. Add pandan juice an a drop of green colouring.
3. Sieve flour into the bowl with the grated tapioca and stir. Add in the grated coconut and mix well.
4. If the mixture looks wet, no need to add water but if the mixture looks dry, add a tbsp of water at a time to get a dropping consistency.
5. Heat oil in a pan and when hot,drop a tablespoon of the mixture into the oil and flatten it. Fry using low fire.
6. When the underside is brown, turn the pancake over and cook again till the other side is brown.
7. Remove and serve.

Monday, 4 May 2009



Saturday was a beautiful spring day, about 20 deg C. Weather forecast for Sunday and Monday was windy and cloudy but being ever the optimist, I planned then to have satay today. I thought even if we couldn't BBQ the satays outside I could do them indoors and that is what I ended up doing! Weather yesterday and today was windy, cloudy and overall not so nice. Hmmm... why does it always happen on a bank holiday? Never mind... such is life. Prior to marinating my satays, had to put my ingredients into the breadmaker to make bread for Pat and Liana to take to work tomorrow. Am making curry buns for them. Will post pics of them tomorrow, (if I remember to take pics)

So anyways back to my satays, made beef and pork and pineapple satay. For veg, cut up some sweet potato and baked them and also grilled some asparagus.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Sugarcraft / fried tapioca kueh

Sugarcraft rose

Today being a Sunday and as tomorrow is a bank holiday, I thought I would take out my sugarcraft stuff and try and make a rose.

I had no idea how to make a rose except that I knew I had the cutter for it. Cut the first petals and stuck them together. Hmm... looks more like a frangipani than a rose. Nope, that isn't it. So let's try again. This time with a smaller cutter. Nope, still not looking like a rose. Let's try a different way. Ah got it. Looks better but still quite a way to go before I get it. So after about 4 tries, I think I got the hang of it. What do you think? Does it look ok. I know I have a bit more to go, but at least, it has the makings of a rose! Sorry that the picture is out of focus. Got too excited.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Japanese Curry Rice

Japanese Curry Rice

Simple fare tonight, but I thought I'd make a face! Do you like it?

Friday, 1 May 2009

Chirashi sushi

Chirashi Sushi

It's Friday and it's fish day for us. As we haven't had chirashi sushi in a long time, bought sashimi from Japan Centre this afternoon and then cooked rice and tada -chirashi sushi!