Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chicken Shepherd's Pie

Both my daughters love to eat the Country Pie from the Coffee Club cafe and each time, they visit there, they will not miss that dish. I came across this Shepherd's Pie recipe from a magazine few weeks ago but could not find a suitable time to bake.  Today, I decided to cook this dish for dinner since I had some cheese and whipping cream in the fridge.       

Since this is my first attempt, the turnout is quite satisfactory (in fact, I didn't follow the recipe strictly).  It's quite delicious although a bit at the dry side (I think I must have forgotten to add the 1 tbsp of fresh cream),  I would say it's about 75% close to the one serving in the Coffee Club cafe.   If I will go for another attempt, I should not short cut but will add more chicken meat (since my daughters prefer more meat) ...In addition, I should buy some individual baking dishes so that each will have its own serving. 

If you are interested in giving this recipe a try,  here you go...

Chicken Shepherd's Pie Recipe
Ingredients A
  - 5g butter, 50g Onion (chopped), 15g Garlic (chopped)

Ingredients B
  - 250g Chicken meat (diced), 70g mushrooms (sliced), 120g mixed vegetables
** I double up the chicken meat and mushrooms and omitted the vegetables**

Ingredients C
  - 100g fresh milk (I used whipping cream), 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder, 1 tsp chicken powder, 1/2 tsp pepper, 4 slices cheese, 1 tsp sugar
** I used whipping cream, cut down cinnamon powder **

Ingreditents D (mix to a batter)
  - 1tsp flour, 1 tbsp water

Ingredients E
  - 750g Potato (skinned, cut inot small pieces)

Ingredients F
  - 75g cheese (grated), 1 tsp chicken powder, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tbsp fresh cream

Ingredients G
  - 75g cheddar cheese

Method:
  1. Melt butter over medium flame, saute chopped onion and garlic together
  2. Add ingredients B and stir fry to semi-cooked.  add in ingredients C and cook till thicken.
  3. Add batter to further thicken the mixture, dish ito a 20cm square bowl, set aside.
  4. Place potato into a pot with 1 tsp salt and enough water, cook till soften (abt 30 mins).  Drain the water, place into a mixer while hot, add ingredients F.  Blend well to form potota mash, dish up and cover over prepared fillings.
  5. Lay shredded cheddar cheese onto potato mash.  Bake at 220 degrees in pre-heated oven for 15 mis till golden brown.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Feast

So much eating and parties during the Christmas period and now, I am feeling very dreadful and guilty.    Oh my gosh!  I am feeling myself more clumsy than before, I really need to watch out my diet as since after my last thyroid  relapsed, I can never get back to my "normal shape" and I guess it has become an unachievable task for me to deliver forever ... it's harder than my work! 

Having a Christmas lunch with my family is such a bliss and joy.  This year we went to "The Ship Restaurant".   I like the  setting and atmosphere there as it's very cozy.  The restaurant is decorated with full of ship accessories.  It made our dining experience very relaxing.   In fact, during the courtship time, my hubby used to bring me to the Ship restaurant located at Scott Road.  This is a new outlet just opened at Serangoon lately.

Price was relatively economical and reasonable for the X'mas meal, we only paid $18.9 for each lunch set.  It included a soup, main course, drink and dessert.  We ordered two sets of steak, one set of chicken with prawn and one set of fish.   We were very satisfied with the food and enjoyed the time together . I believe it'll be a memorable lunch!

On Sunday, we had a gathering with my brother families.  We did this every year at my place and it was a potluck dinner.  Therefore, each family would bring along at least 2 dishes.   I baked a BBQ Chicken pizza and made some durian cream puffs.  In addition, I asked my maid to prepare a dish of Trotter Meehooon, vegetables as well as fried sotong balls and samosas.  My other brothers brought along the crab meehoon, hofan noodle, fried oyster, roasted duck, vegetarian frog leg dish and satay.  In addition to the soft drink, I also prepared some longang with almond jelly as dessert for them. There was so much food on the table and we were having fun time enjoying the food and chit-chatting to each other!

On Monday, it's another binge.  This time was a house swarming of my hubby's colleague.  Again, it's a potluck and we had to bring something there.  I decided to bake another BBQ Chicken pizza.  In addition to that, I made some coldset strawberry cheese desserts and a durian cream cake.  I think these are the all time favorite treats and most people will like it.  With preparing 3 items on the same day, it's quite a challenge for me.  Fortunately, I managed to finish everything by 7pm and arrived the place at 7:30pm.  As expected, there was a lot of food there and everyone was stuffed.  I was glad that the dessert and cake I brought over were well received by my hubby's colleagues.

After the Christmas, we will be embracing the New Year very soon.  Again, there will be another gathering in coming new year eve but this time, it's an invite from my hubby's brother.  I must remind myself not to let loose this round! 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Bundle of Love for Christmas

My niece is so sweet, she wanted to bake some cookies for her colleagues as she wanted something more personalized.  She asked whether she could come to my house to bake as she doesn't have an oven at home.  It's my honor!  I asked her not to buy any ingredients unless something very special which I don't stock up.

I shortlisted a couple of recipes for her but finally narrowed down to these two: - one is the Shortbread of Love and the other is the Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies.   Frankly speaking, these recipes were new to me, I wasn't sure how it would turn out and therefore, I didn't have much confident in baking these. 

I hardly bake cookies, the last bake was in last Chinese New Year.  Actually, I wasn't sure why I was so engrossed into cakes.  Cookies supposed to be the easiest thing to make and it's a prefect item for giveaway gift,  I think I should explore more variety of baking moving forward.  I used to love Famous Amos Cookies and I could finish 200g at one go.  Somehow, after taking up baking, I am no longer craving for it.  I think it's better as cookies are such unhealthy and fattening foods same as cakes and other desserts, we need to be very moderate in our intake in order to maintain a healthy diet.

 
I helped my niece to do all the baking so that it would allow her to put focus on decorating her cookies.  Surprisingly,  these two cookies turned out very yummy,  I believe her colleagues and friends will appreciate. 

 If you are cookies lover, I trust after you have the first piece, you will not stop at one. Here are the recipes for sharing. Enjoy baking.  Cheer!


1. Shortbread of Love
 Ingredients:
-          250g butter
-          120g castor sugar
-          250 plain flour (sifted)
-          120g rice flour (sifted)

Method:
1.      Cream butter and sugar till well combined.
2.      Add in plain flour, rice flour and mix into a pliable dough
3.      Place dough between 2 sheets of grease-proof paper and roll into ½ cm thick
4.      Cut with love-shaped cookie cutter and arrange cookies onto a greased baking tray.  Sprinkle some caster sugar on top as decoration
                    5.      Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180*C for 15-20 mins till lightly brown 
                    6.      Remove, leave to cool before shorting into an air-tight tin

2. Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients
-          160g butter
-          80g caster sugar (*can cut down 5-10%)
-          80g light brown sugar
-          ¼ tsp salt
-          1 egg
-          ½ tsp vanilla essence
-          190g plain flour
-          1tbsp rice flour
-          ½ tsp baking soda
-          100g chocolate chips
-     60g chopped almond or any types of nuts

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180*C.
2. Cream butter, salt and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Slowly beat in the egg and vanilla essence until well combined.
4. Sift flour, rice flour and baking soda together.
5. Fold in flour, chocolate chips and diced almond into Step 3 using spatula.
6. Scoop the cookies dough and drop it on a greased tray.
7. Bake in a preheated oven at 180*C with fan-forced for 5 mins and then change to top and bottom heat for another 10 mins until firm.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry X'mas!! 圣诞快乐

 This is the first log cake I baked for this year and most likely will be the last one since tonight is X'mas eve.   After tomorrow, Christmas will be over and next to embrace will be New Year 2011...
I didn't want a traditional log cake as it's normally coated with butter cream, it's too oily and not to my preference.  I chanced upon this recipe from Honey Bee Sweets' blog, I decided to give it a try since it's highly regarded by her.

Overall, I think the chiffon sponge turned out quite well.  The only reservation I have is the cream as using non-dairy whipped cream, it makes the cake sweeter.  I normally prefer to use dairy cream as I can control the sugar level couple with it tastes much nicer.

Of the recipe, I made into two log cakes.  The smaller cake was kept at home for own consumption, I gave the bigger one  to my maid for her to share with her friends during her outing tonight .   I believe her friends will like it.

Let's cheer and all be jolly during the X'mas Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pre-Christmas Joy

Christmas is round at the corner and many of my colleagues have started exchanging or giving Christmas presents since it's very difficult to catch hold of people in the office during the Christmas eve day.  This is because many of them will be either on leave or working from home ..

 I have stopped buying Christmas presents for colleagues for few years as I hardly go to office.  Buying Christmas gift can be very stressful as you are not sure whether the person likes it.  I find no point getting something that is useless or become rubbish for the receiving party.  I also stop buying Christmas gift for my nieces and nephews  as my brothers find it too much a hassle.  However, this year, I decided to bake something for my colleagues and these are the cupcakes and muffins I brought to office.   Hope they appreciate this better.
Since I baked extra, I asked my hubby to bring some to his office as well.  Baking the cake is a bliss but the wrapping part is a hassle to me since I am not skillful in it.    Last night, when I finished the whole wrapping work, it's almost 2am.  Somehow, I wasn't very tired,  I guess I must be too excited!

These are not the new recipes.  One of them is Banana Walnut Buttermilk Muffins and the other is Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake.   Hope my colleagues find them yummy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Soufflé Cocoa Cupcake

I attended a colleague's wedding dinner yesterday and met up with some ex-colleagues.  From one of the conversation, I got to know one of my very old colleagues suffered with stroke lately and she was on medical leave for a couple of months.  Her condition is quite serious and now has to go for an extended leave. It's quite sad to hear about her unfortunate.

I know this colleague more than 15 years, she was my senior during my early day of the working.  After leaving that company, we had no contact till 5 years ago I met her in one of the company meeting.  We were surprised to know the world is so small, we are in the same company again.    I remembered the last time I spoke with her was in Apr/May this year.  I couldn't believe this had happened.  Life is so fragile and unpredictable ...

This is the 2nd bad news I heard this week.  Fortunately, this colleague is in her recovering stage.  Hope she will get well soon!    With the X'mas festive season coming, I would like to wish everyone good health, happiness , prosperity and a Merry Christmas!

Below is the recipe of the Soufflé Cocoa Cupcake which I would like to share here.. it's moist, spongy and chocolaty.    

Recipe modified from 孟老100小蛋糕. This recipe can make 6 cupcakes. 

Ingredients:
-          70g egg yolk
-          50g egg
-          20g caster sugar          
-          40g top flour                } sift together
-          35g cocoa powder        }
-          120g egg whites
-          80g caster sugar

Method:
1.      Beat egg yolk, eggs with sugar together at high speed  till color turns pale (about 2-3 mins).
2.      Sift in flour and cocoa powder, continue to beat till smooth.   Set aside.
3.      In another mixing bowl, beat egg whites at high speed till bubbly stage and then add in sugar, continue to beat till 90% peak/ stiff. (about 2 mins).  
4.      Take 1/3 of egg white mixture fold into cocoa mixture in step 2 using spatula.
5.      Follow by folding in the rest of whites till finished.
6.      Scope the batter into cupcake case up to 80% filled.
7.      Bake at 180*C for 25-30 mins.

** Please do not cut down sugar, else it’ll be bitter.

Coffee Condensed Milk Cake

Again, this is a recipe from 孟老师的100道小蛋糕 but with a slight modification.  I reduced the amount of coffee powder and replaced with cocoa powder in addition to  adding extra 20-30g of chopped macadamia nuts to the batter. 

Don't expect this is a moist cake, the texture of it is quite unique, it's dry, powdery but melt in your mouth.  It tastes more like eating cookie than cake but not hard.  I would say this cake is very tasty and not too rich.

If you are a coffee lover, I bet you will like it.  

Here you go.. Recipe for Coffee Condensed Milk Cake.   This recipe can make 2 x 4" or 1 x 6" tube pan.

Ingredients:
-          20g macadamia nuts (toasted)
-          5g brown sugar
-          80g butter  (softened)
-          80g cake flour          }  sifted
-          ¼ baking powder     }
-          30g eggs
-          10g caster sugar
-          50g condense milk
-          1 ½  tsp coffee powder
-          ¾ tsp cocoa powder
-          20g macadamia nuts (toasted & chopped)

Method:
1.      Grease baking pan with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and line with macadamia nuts.
2.      Beat butter till smooth at low speed (about 2 mins), add in flour and baking powder and mix well.  Change to high speed and beat till smooth batter ( about 30 sec).
3.      Add in egg, sugar, milk, coffee & cocoa powder one at a time , continue to beat at high speed till well combined (about 30 sec- 1 min).
4.      Pour batter into prepared baking pan and level the top.
5.      Bake at 180*C for 25 -30 mins.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Banana Yogurt Muffins

Few days ago, we heard a very shocking news.  One of our US colleagues suffered with some type of Pulmonary collapse at airport when she returned back from a business trip.  She was then rushed to hospital but never regained consciousness.  The next morning, we received a very sad news that she had passed away ...

I wasn't sure whether she had any medical condition previously but it was extremely unexpected of her death.  I knew her more than 10 years although we didn't work very closely, I had very good impression of her as she was very approachable, knowledgeable, cheerful and dedicated.  The last time I met her was in Jun this year when she was in Singapore.  I'm very sad to loss such a good colleague, she will be missed by whoever knows her.  I could only say life is so unpredictable!  Such incident has served as a wake up call and remind us to treasure our health,  life and the people we love... we should never wait till no chance to act and regret ...

Let's drop the sad topic and back to baking.  I wanted to bake something for the next morning for breakfast, therefore, I decided to try out this recipe - Banana Yogurt Muffins.  This is the recipe from  Do What I Like , however, I baked it into muffins.   I could say the turnout  was very soft, light and not sweet.  If you like something light, I trust this recipe is what you are looking for.

Ribena Konnyaku Jelly

 
I like the konnyaku jelly texture as it's chewy.  Normally, after I cook the jelly, I will throw in some canned longan or cocktail fruits.  As it tastes so refreshing, I can never stop at one. 
 
I recalled one of my baking friends recommended me the Ribena flavored Konnyaku Jelly before, however, I barely recalled the portion of the Ribena to add in.  Since I wasn't sure the proportion, I decided to search for a recipe online.  

I finally decided to adopt the recipe from  Blessed Homemarker with slight modification.   Overall, the jelly turns out very tasty but I think I could further increase the Ribena for another 30ml since I prefer a stronger taste.  

Here you go..  Ribena Konnyaku Jelly recipe

Ingredients
  •   1packet Konnyaku Jelly Powder  (10g)
  • 120g Caster Sugar
  • 700ml Water
  • 120ml Ribena blackcurrant juice(can increase to 150ml )
  • 1/2 tsp kiwi seeds
Method
  1.  Soak kiwi seeds for 20 mins.  Drain off water. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix konnayku powder and caster sugar together. 
  3. In a medium pot, bring water to boil.  Pour the konnyaku mixture into water gradually and stir till sugar dissolved.
  4. Pour in kiwi seeds and stir mix well.
  5. Turn off flame and keep stirring till the bubbles dissipates and the mixture becomes clear.
  6. When the mixture is slightly cooled, add Ribena and stir well.
  7. Pour the Konnyaku solution into the moulds.
  8. Leave to cool and chill in fridge before serving.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Makan and Shopping Trip to Malaysia

Eating is always a pleasure and I believe majority of the people will enjoy good food.  Although I have been in Malacca and KL many times, I love to go there as their local food are delicious and it's much cheaper after the currency conversion.  Since both of my daughters are having their school holiday plus they are food lovers, we decided to go for getaway trip there.
 
Given that we have been to Malacca many times, I wanted to explore something new.  I saw this Philea Resort from a tour package advertisement and  decided to check it out.   The resort is indeed uniquely designed with pine log wood,  it's quite lovely and attractive.   As the resort is quite far out from the Malacca city, it is not convenient since our aim to Malacca was to spend more time explore the local food around Jonker street.  Since we didn't book a room there, we could only explore the area nearby lobby and took some photos and then move on to Jonker street.

We love the Baba-Nyonya cuisine at Jonker Street and therefore, decided to settle our lunch at Nancy Kitchen which was recommended by our friend. The place was full house, it was quite a long wait before our turn.  We ordered 5 dishes and all of them were delicious.  Probably due to the fact that we were too hungry and couldn't wait, we forgot to take a picture of what we had ordered.   Their candlenut chicken and fish were the best among all the dishes we ordered.  The Nyonya cendol was decent as I remembered other stall tasted much better.  Anyway, it was a great lunch as all of us were very satisfied!   

We booked into Renaissance Hotel this time as Hotel Equatorial was fully booked.  Although it's 5 star hotel, it's not very well maintained as compare to Hotel Equatorial.   My younger daughter went for a swim while all of us just hang around and relax.  The internet charge was too expensive in the hotel and we refused to pay.  Since the Old Town Cafe provides free wifi, we decided to have our breakfast there to enjoy free internet.

Malacca has rich heritage and history, it is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site which everyone knows.  Although the place is small, it's a friendly city which why many Singaporeans love to go there.

Staying in Renaissance gave us an opportunity to explore the area along the river.  It was something new to us since most of our previous visits were confined within the shopping mall and Jonker street. It had been a pleasure strolling along the riverside and got to see the Malay antique yet unique houses.

Palm Tree Resort is a new grand sea hotel located in the new golden triangle of Sepang.  Again, I was attracted by the amazing image of places they advertised.  It was quite a long drive from Malacca plus the journey to there wasn't pleasant as the road was narrow and wiring.  Frankly speaking, we were quite disappointed as the beach there wasn't beautiful, the sun was so hot.  If I would to stay there, I really wonder what I could do there beside lying on the bed.  Food was very expensive there and beside that hotel, there wasn't any choice of places for food.  Luckily, I made a wise choice in choosing not to stay there.

The reason of visiting Mid Valley again was because I didn't do enough shopping and exploring the place in my last visit.  The place is full of excitment with fashion, food, leisure and it offers a comfortable convenient shopping experience.  We booked two nights in Cititel Hotel which is only doorstep to Mid Valley Magamall and premier Gardens Mall.  

The other reason of going back to Mid Vally was I wanted to go back to dine in Madam Kwan's restaurant as I missed their dishes.  Madam Kwan's is famous for its local specialities such as Nasi Lemak, Sambal, etc but out of the dishes we ordered, I love its Beef Rendang, my daughter love their Sambal Kancong. The food was really yummy and mouthwatering. 

With the X'mas festive season coming, Mid Valley Magamall has beautifully decorated and lighted up.  You could tell from the photos we took, this year is a toyland theme and therefore, there are many teddy bears and toys displayed all over the places.  I believe the kids will enjoy the decor since it's like walking in a Disneyland.  The mall was very crowded and everyone carried a camera taking pictures.

Bak Kut Teh is another dish we craved for and must have it in KL.  We managed to find one in Mid Valley,  it saved our time hunting around. Although their dishes were quite good, we still prefer the soup type as theirs are more of the gravy type.The prices were quite expensive  based on Malaysia standard as it's as high as Singapore rate.  Anyway, it was a good try.

The Gardens Mall is just next door to Mid Valley Mega Mall but it's a upper class shopping mall as the place is crowded with all the branded stores.  It's much quieter as compare to mega mall and the decor there is ordinary. Nothing special.  We didn't spend much time there since nothing we could pick up.

Although we stayed in Mid Valley for 2 nights, effectively, we only had one full day there as we arrived late in the evening on the first night and left early the day after.  As it would be a long journey back to Singapore, to prevent the rush during the peak hour plus I needed to go back to take an evening call, that's reason we wanted to leave early in the morning.

Overall, I was very pleased with this trip since it was very relaxing and food was divine.  However, with all these eating, I have another headache - that's weight and I've to to starve myself  for next few weeks to get back my waistline :(

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcake

I reckoned that this Hokkaido Chiffon cake is one of the popular recipe among the blogger community.  However, to me, it's just an ordinary chiffon cake, nothing special.  I am curious why it could draw so much attention.

I decided to give it a try despite I knew I would not expect any surprise.  I adopted the recipe from Hearty Bakes   and as expected,  it's basically light and  fluffy, same texture as chiffon cake.  Since  I didn't pipe in any custard or fresh cream, it's just a simple and plain cake.

If you are someone who only like very light and simple cake, this recipe will suit you. 

Mango Pudding

I picked up some mangos from supermarket last weekend as my initial plan was to bake a mango cream cake or mango cheesecakse but I was too lazy with thing that had some degrees of difficulty and therefore, I decided to go for mango pudding instead.  No baking needed!

 
I adopted the recipe from Baking Mum as based on her review, this pudding could compete with  those served at the Tim Sum restaurant.   As the mango I used wasn't sweet, I decided not to cut down the sugar but added abt 1 tsp of lemon juice.

How is the turn out?  I think it's too creamy, milky and soft for me.  I prefer something that is less creamy but a bit "springy".  Regret that this recipe doesn't really fit my bill, however, both my daughters and maid are fine with it.  Anyway, it's a good try!

 This recipe can make 10-12 cups.   If you're interested, please pop in to Baking Mum's blog for recipe.

Afternote:  My elder daughter suggested to sprinkle 1/2 tbsp of evaporated milk on it when eating, I realized that it tasted so much better after that.   My hubby totally agreed :)

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