Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Melt-in-the-mouth Buttery Butter Cookies




Well, I should say this is the type of butter cookie that is to die for. If you are looking for a cookie that is smooth, crispy and has that melt-in-the mouth magic, then you should continue reading.

I have always loved butter cookies ever since childhood.  So, how do I personally perceive a butter cookie?  To me, butter cookies just go perfectly well with a cuppa of hot coffee, especially when you are catching up with a group of close friends or relatives over tea time in a secret garden.  Doesn't that sound heavenly?

Anyway, I happened to stumble upon the recipe well not at all from a middle-aged housewife who spends most her time in the kitchen making good food for the family, neither from any popular chef who has won countless of awards nor a granny who desperately wants to pass down her secret recipe but simply from a young city chic who just has a passion creating good food!  I was completely astounded that he could (yes, it's a HE!) concoct a recipe by just knowing the ingredients.  Amazed! Amazed! Apparently, this cookie had once been a craze in Hong Kong, popularly known as Jenny Butter Cookies.  So, what is so special about this cookie, which I highly recommend that you try has to offer?

Personally, the texture of the cookie wins it all!  As mentioned earlier, it is soft yet crispy, fine and smooth, buttery and melty in the mouth.  Almost perfect!  The only flaw that I can think of right now .....it has to be handled very gently!  Why?.......it is fragile and crumbly!  Is this THE cookie you are looking for?  It's a definite YES, for me!!

    
Ingredients
(Recipe adapted from ZaTaYaYummy)
  • 150 grams (5 oz) of salted butter, softened
  • 30 grams (1/4 cup) of icing sugar
  • 95 grams (3/4 cup) of plain flour
  • 75 grams (8 tbsp.) of corn starch 
Note: 
1.  The recipe yields about 15 cookies.  You may double/triple up if 15 is insufficient.
2.  Make sure you use a high quality butter (Golden Churn, Lurpak, SCS etc etc)

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 150C or 130C fan-forced.
  2. Cream softened salted butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Stir in plain flour and cornstarch.
  4. Transfer into piping bag with a star tip. Pipe evenly onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake it in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

HAVE A NICE DAY AND HAPPY BAKING !!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Light & Fluffy Mashed Potatoes


Personally, I have a great weakness for potatoes!  I have been  making mashed potatoes for years but can't seem to get it right.....until I found this recipe!  It is definitely a keeper.  It gives you a super soft, light, fluffy, lump-free and creamy mashed potatoes!   The first mouthful indeed puts a smile on my face.  Mmmmmm, so smooth!  I've also received a fair amount of compliments from friends and family members. 

I never know that the preparation requires quite a few techniques to be closely followed.  To me, this is a simple straightforward side dish to prepare - just boil, mash and flavour!  I was very wrong!  Little did I realize that I have overlooked some steps which appears to be very small insignificant but fairly important! 

I got the recipe from allrecipes.com, under the name Chef John's Perfect Mashed Potatoes.

The Recipe:

Method:
  1. Place the potatoes into a large pot, and cover with salted water. 
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. 
  3. Drain, and return the potatoes to the pot. 
  4. Turn heat to high, and allow the potatoes to dry for about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.
  5. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher twice around the pot, then add the butter and milk. 
  6. Continue to mash until smooth and fluffy. 
  7. Whisk in the salt and black pepper until evenly distributed, about 15 seconds.
 
I am sharing the link below if you wish to view the video of how Chef John prepares the mashed potatoes.  
 
 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Super Flaky & Crispy Curry Puffs


I do admit that I have a weakness for curry puffs.  These curry puffs that I am presenting today is one that is to die for.  Undeniably, one of the best curry puffs that I have ever eaten.  Well, this is my second posting on curry puffs.  The first one was somewhere last year {Curry Puffs} but that version was slightly different from this one that I am posting today.  One thing that makes this curry puff so very yummilicious and so distinct from the normal ones which I used to eat, solely lies on its pastry which is super crispy and flaky.  Super-dee-duper if I may say again! 



Now, let me caution you if you are eating these puffs.  Whether you are taking it at home or at a dinner table or even in a restaurant, before you take your first bite, make sure you do it very gently and if possible take a plate or a bowl and lay it just below your chin otherwise you will see bits and pieces of the flakes flying here and there and eventually messing up the table, the floor or even your clothes.  Let me also warn you that when you are at a dinner party donned with nice make-ups trying to look elegant and posh hoping to impress the guests, please avoid this snack at all cost!  Otherwise, be prepared to see pairs of weird-looking eyes goggling at you as though you are standing there naked.  LOL!  Anyway, I hope that you've got my point here! 



Okay, back to the recipe.  I got the recipe from Faeez of Bitter Sweet Spicy.  Basically, making the puffs involves four steps :

1. Preparing the pastry
2. Preparing the filling
3. Assembling
4. Baking

Frankly, the whole process is rather time-consuming especially preparing the pastry.  It can easily eat almost half of your day.  Therefore, I strongly recommend that you divide the above steps in two/three different days instead of doing everything in one go which can drain you away.

The pastry itself takes about 2 hours to prepare.  As preparing the pastry involves quite a lot of steps and the explanation is rather lengthy, I have separated the making process from this post. To make the pastry, please click the link over here {How To Make A Super Flaky Pastry}.
  
Please do not be daunted by all these steps.  Though it may sound a little laborious, trust me that the final outcome will blow everyone away making you feel all your efforts are just satisfyingly worthwhile.  Before you can even realize, you are already on your way making the second batch the very next day!  So, do give it a try and you know what I am saying!


THE RECIPE:
Adapted from Faeez of Bitter Sweet Spicy


1) Preparing the pastry
    - please visit this link {How To Make A Super Flaky Pastry}


2) Preparing The Filling
     
     Ingredients:
     500g potato (peeled & cut into small pieces)
     200g onion, cubed
     200g meat (I used chicken breast, cut into small pieces.)
     4 tbsp meat curry powder (mix with some water to form a paste)
     1 tbsp ginger & garlic paste
     3 cloves, 3 cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon stick
     2 tbsp cooking oil
     chinese parsley & spring onion
     salt to taste
     

      Method:
  1. Heat up oil in a frying pan.
  2. Fry cloves, cardamom & cinnamon stick until fragrant. Add garlic & ginger paste & continue frying until fragrant.
  3. Add curry paste and continue frying. Add meat and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add in potato and cook until potato is soft. Add water when necessary. Finally add in onion, chinese parsley, spring onion & salt.
  4. Once cooked, remove from stove set aside to cool completely.

3) Assembling & baking
  1. Bring out the dough (which has been cut into smaller squares) from the refrigerator.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  2. Using your fingers, press each square gently and coat it with flour.
  3. Starting from the middle, roll out each piece upwards and then downwards, turning it at 90 deg after every set of upward-and-downward rolling. This is to ensure that the square shape is maintained throughout the rolling process.
  4. Then, turn the dough such that you are facing a diamond shape dough. Starting from the middle, roll out upwards and then downwards, once only. 
  5. Place the side of each square with lesser veins facing upwards. So the side with more veins will be the outer part of the puff.
  6. Spoon the filling on the square. Brush egg white or water on the edges.
  7. Fold into a triangle and seal. (I pinched the edges into plaits)
  8. Then dip the puff into a bowl of water, & using your other hand, rub off any flour that is stuck to the pastry. Lift up the puff and drain as much water as possible.  (I skipped this altogether)
  9. Place the puffs on a baking tray which has been lined with baking paper. 
  10. Just before putting the tray of puffs in the oven, pour a tsp of oil onto each puff and spread it evenly using a brush.
  11. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 deg C for about 25 minutes.
Voila! Here you go, the baked puffs.......


Thursday, October 22, 2015

How To Make A Super Flaky Pastry (for puffs and pies)

 
I used this pastry to make curry puffs and chicken pot pie.  This is one hell of a super flaky pastry.  Looking at the flakes will just leave you all excited and go bananas for a while.  Frankly, as a newbie to baking and not a trained cook/baker, I am not sure whether this is a puff pastry or not.  Whatever it is,..........I know that this IS a PASTRY,......... that makes a commendably great recipe. 

Before you scroll down any further, I wish to caution you that the explanation in this post is rather lengthy involving lots of steps.  I can't seem to find ways to simplify it any further.  If this is your first time making a puff pastry or something similar, be sure that you read everything very carefully.  I do recommend that you read the steps a few times to get the whole process digested and visualized before getting your hands dirty. 

I have also used color codes on the words to ease readability and understanding:
  1. Red indicates you need to let the dough rest for 20 minutes. By knowing this, it helps you plan your work more easily.
  2. Blue indicates the ingredients used. 

INDGREDIENTS:

600g plain flour
1 egg (beaten)
250ml warm water (not hot)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yellow colouring (I used turmeric powder to get the yellow hue)
200g pastry margarine


STEPS:

Basically, making the pastry involves 3 steps : 
 
A) Making the dough
  • Combine warm water, salt and colouring in a bowl and mix until salt dissolves.
  • Combine flour, egg and water in another bowl and mix just until the mixture forms a dough. Do not overmix. Don't worry if  there are still specks of flour in the dough as they will 'disappear' after the rolling and folding process. 
  •  Cover dough with plastic and leave it to rest for at least 20 minutes.  

B) Preparing the pastry margarine
  • While the dough is resting, place the pastry margarine on a plastic.
  • Place another piece of plastic on the margarine. 
  • Roll out the margarine evenly into a rectangle. Leave aside.

C) Rolling and folding the dough
  1. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1cm thick, as evenly as possible. Then place the rolled-out pastry margarine on one side of the dough. (Pic 1)
  2. Fold dough into 2, just like you would close a book. (Pic 2)
  3. Press the edges to seal.  Cover dough with plastic & leave to rest for at least 20 minutes. (Pic 3)
  4. Turn dough at 90 deg. Then roll dough into a rectangle.
  5. Divide the rectangle vertically into thirds,  marking the dough lightly with the edge of your hand. Fold  the first third of the dough, overlapping the second third (Pic 4)
  6. Then fold over the last third of the dough overlapping both the 1st and 2nd thirds, brushing away the excess flour from the inside as you fold.  You should be getting a long vertical rectangle facing you. (Pic 5)
  7. Next, divide the dough into thirds again, this time from top to bottom.  Take the 1st third (right on top) and fold, overlapping the 2nd third.  (Pic 6)
  8. Now, take the last third and fold, overlapping the 1st and 2nd thirds to form a square. (Pic 7)  Cover dough with plastic and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes.
  9. Roll out the dough into a rectangle again. Repeat Step 5 & 6.
  10. Now, divide the dough into thirds again, from top to bottom. Then, cut the dough. (This step is just like step 7 except that this time the thirds are cut.) 
  11. Place the bottom third onto the middle third & followed by the top third. You'll end up with a tall squarish dough. (Pic 8) Cover dough with plastic & leave to rest for at least 20 minutes.
  12. Using a knife & a ruler, divide the dough into small squares and make markings on the dough. (I divided it into 16 squares.  Then carefully cut the small squares. (Pic 9)  At this stage, you can divide and cut into any sizes as you like, depending on what you are using it for.
  13. Refrigerate for a while and here you go..........the dough is ready for use!

    Tuesday, October 20, 2015

    Chewy Caramel Popcorn



    This is my first attempt making my very own popcorn. Though not a popcorn-mania, I do sometimes crave for it especially when the aroma of caramel sips into the nose. One thing for sure, I am not those kind that would sit in front of the telly binging on bowls and bowls of popcorn. 


    It all started when I was bringing my 6-year-old daughter to a home fair when out of a sudden she asked for popcorn. After much persuasion, I gladly bought a small tub and both of us ended up sitting on a bench happily munching away our popcorn, totally oblivious to what was happening around us. For the first time ever, I was acting like a six-year old fighting over popcorn with another six-year-old and yes it was in public. Anyway, it was indeed a sweet father-daughter kind of bonding moment which I can one day look back and reminisce with a smile.  


    Now, I realize that I am really obsessed and hooked to this junk, just finished making my fourth batch of popcorn in one week.  Well, after my fourth attempt, all that I can conclude is......MAKING POPCORN IS  NOT AS EASY AS IT MAY SEEM.  To me, the hardest part is preventing the the popcorn from getting burnt.  You sure do not want to end up standing in front of the stove picking and choosing the burnt popcorn one by one as this can really be time-wasting and will very likely drive you up the wall.  Also, you sure do not want to munch on a burnt popcorn which can really be unpleasant and disturbing.  

    To cook the popcorn, you can either use the microwave oven or the stove (which is the conventional way).  As I am using the stove, the downside to it is the kernels can get burnt pretty easily, even at the slightest few extra seconds.  So, after googling, I found out this useful trick.......

    Popcorn Popping Tip
    • Firstly, throw in 3 kernels into the pan/pot after you have cranked up the oil (over medium-high heat) 
    • With the lid ajar, let the kernels sit and pop up.  So, this will be the prime popping temperature for the kernels.  
    • Take out the three popped kernels and immediately pour in the rest of the kernels into the pan. 
    • Cover the pan and remove it from the heat.  Wait for 30 seconds.  (By doing this, you are reducing the time the kernels expose to direct heat and get burn easily.)
    • Place back the pan onto the heat.  Very soon, the kernels will start popping.  
    • Remember to give the pan a good occasional shake when the kernels are popping.     
    • Open the lid when the popping almost come to a complete halt.  This is to let the steam out to keep the popcorn crisp.
    • And finally here you are.........a bowl of white fluffy aromatic popcorn!   

    Well, basically making popcorn only involves 3 steps:

    1. Popping the corn kernels
    2. Preparing the caramel sauce
    3. Baking the popcorn in the oven (to make the popcorn crispier and evenly coated).  Beware! This is another part which will leave you with a burnt popcorn

    The whole process takes about 1 1/2 hours before you can happily sit down and start storing up your calories.  Now, let's get down to the recipe.

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
    • ½ cup popcorn kernels
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • ¼ cup honey
    • 70g unsalted butter
    • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    INSTRUCTIONS
    1. Place the popcorn kernels and vegetable oil in a bowl and stir to coat kernels in the oil.
    2. Place the kernels in a pan/pot and cook them over medium-high heat.
    3. Place popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.
    4. Preheat Oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.
    5. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add brown sugar, honey, unsalted butter, and lemon juice (the lemon juice is not detected in the caramel, it just helps to prevent crystallization while cooking.  You may also use cream of tartar).
    6. Bring to a rolling boil on medium-high heat, but do not stir, gently swirl the ingredients in the pan occasionally to help ingredients incorporate. Stirring will cause crystallization of the caramel. Boil for 5-6 min, or until caramel reaches 242 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Watch carefully so at to avoid burning the caramel. If the mixture starts to burn to edges of pan, remove from the heat.
    7. Once boiled and removed from heat, quickly add the salt, baking soda, and then vanilla all at once. The baking soda* will immediately react causing the mixture to foam and become frothy.  Stir to combine and pour over the popcorn. Toss and fold gently to evenly coat the popcorn with the caramel sauce.
    8. Spread the popcorn in an even layer on the lined baking sheet.
    9. Place in the oven for 50 min, turning and flipping the popcorn every 15 min to continue coating the popcorn.
    10. Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes. Using a gloved hand or spatula, break apart the caramel corn to desired clump size. If the popcorn cools completely before you break the kernels apart the will form a mass. It isn't necessary to break them apart before they harden, but I like the kernels to be individual rather than formed in clumps. They still taste amazing no matter how you break them apart.
    11. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. If they become sticky or soft, spread out on a baking sheet and dry them in a 200 degree F oven until crisp.
    * Note : The use of baking soda is to react with the acid (from the brown sugar), which creates tiny carbon dioxide air bubbles. Hence, the foaming you see in the caramel mixture. Once the caramel has cooled on your popcorn, the air bubbles inside the caramel create a softer texture. The softer texture means you won’t be biting into hard caramel. Rather, the caramel is chewy and only slightly crunchy. It will melt in your mouth.




    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    No-baked Mango Yogurt Cheesecake

     
    For those who love mangoes, then this cake can be a winner and is certainly worth trying!  To me, mango blends just well with cream cheese.  The aromatic smell of mangoes just lingers around giving a nice fruity smell to your kitchen.  

    Well, this cake is not at all difficult to prepare.  Nothing complicated.  Pretty straight forward.  All that is needed is just measure, mix and pour.  So, it is suitable for any newbies who want to impress your guests or to prove to someone that you can actually bake.  Trust me, this cake will sure to blow them away.


     

    Make sure you take it when it's chilled.  Believe me, the moment the cake sets in your mouth, the feeling is just heavenly so much so that your taste buds can't thank you enough!  Everything seems fall into place and your palate is suddenly perked up with all kinds of tastes and senses - sweet, salty, sourish, creamy, chilly, fruity and the list goes on!



    This recipe is definitely a keeper.  I stumbled upon the recipe on Facebook, from Anncoo Journal.  My ravenous eyes were captivated by her photos which to me were just picture perfect.  The cake was standing gorgeous and irresistibly appetizing!  I strongly recommend that you take a look and visit her blog, here!

    Ingredients:
       
      Cake base
         100g digestive biscuits
         80g melted butter
    • Grease the sides of a 8 inch removable cake pan and line the bottom. Blend biscuits coarsely and mix well with melted butter (add little more butter if you find the crumbly biscuits are too dry). Pressing the biscuit crumbs with your hand at the bottom of the lined cake pan. Put the tin in the fridge for later use.
          Cheese filling:
          250g cream cheese, room temperature
          3 tbsp fresh milk
          3 tbsp icing sugar or to taste
          280g mango yogurt (about 2 small tubs)
          1/2 tbsp lemon juice
          150g fresh topping cream/non-dairy whipping cream
          1 fresh mango, cut into cubes
          1.5 tbsp gelatin + 2 tbsp water

          Mango Topping
          2 fresh mangoes, chopped , about 320g
          1 tbsp sugar or to taste
          1/2 tbsp lemon juice
          1 tbsp gelatin + 1 tbsp water


    Method:
          Cheese filling: 
    • Put gelatin and water in a bowl and soak for a while. Then place it in a double boiler until gelatin dissolved. Keep warm.
    • Beat cream cheese and icing sugar at medium speed with 3 tablespoon of fresh milk until smooth. Pour in gelatin and mix well. Add mango yogurt and lemon juice into cheese mixture, continue beating until combined.
    • Whisk fresh topping cream until soft peak and pour into the cheese mixture, fold well.
    • Pour half of the cheese mixture into the prepared cake pan; add in mango cubes, followed by the remaining cheese mixture.  Set aside in the refrigerator.
          
           Mango topping
    • Put gelatin and water in a bowl and soak for awhile. Then place it in a double boiler until gelatin dissolved. Keep warm.
     
      
      

    Tuesday, April 28, 2015

    Japanese Cotton Cheesecake



    It took me two years to regain my confidence, wake up and eventually try again making this cake after my first attempt which I considered as a complete disaster.  Today, I walk out tall and can go around telling the world that I can make a good cheesecake......YES, I holler again - a GOOD CHEESECAKE!  As I have always said, it's not that I am good but I am just lucky that I have with me a GOOD recipe shared by GOOD amazing people around.  All I did was - I  F-O-L-L-O-W-E-D!! As simple as that!



    Yes, for those who are looking for a good cheesecake recipe that yields a cake so cottony soft, light and fluffy, then you are reading the correct post.  THIS is the recipe you should be trying and THIS is the recipe you should be keeping.

    When you hear your kids bicker over the last piece as to who is to finish it, then you can claim that you have baked wonderfully. And if your little girl comes running to you hugging and telling you,

    "Papa, I like the cake you baked.  Can you bake for me again some other day, please?  I love you very much and thank you, Papa!"

    then this tells you that this recipe is a priceless treasure that you must keep and share it out to the world.  So, friends, this is exactly what happened to me last weekend and so here I am sharing it with you.  Believe me, you go out and bake one today and you will come back for a second batch very soon!


     

    So peeps, I hope that you like the post today.  Happy trying and have a nice day ahead!  Cheers!

    A special cheer to Jeannie of Jeannietay's Blog, the kind-hearted soul who shared this amazing recipe!  I strongly suggest that you visit her post.  Amazing bakes with amazing photos!


    The Recipe:
    (yields an 8" round cake tin and 4" x 6" rectangular tin)

    250g cream cheese (1 block)

    6 egg yolks

    70g castor sugar

    60g butter (1/4 block)

    100 ml full cream milk

    1 Tbsp. lemon juice

    1 tsp lemon zest (or lemon essence) (optional)

    60g cake flour

    20g cornflour

    1/4 tsp salt

    2 tsp Vanilla extract (optional)


    6 egg whites

    1/4 tsp cream of tartar

    70g castor sugar

    2 tablespoons cocoa powder


    Method:
    1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C (Top and bottom heat, no fan force)
    2. Line bottom of the cake pans and grease the sides.
    3. Whisk cream cheese and butter till smooth over a water bath or can do double boil method.
    4. Add the sugar (70g) and whisk until dissolved. Remove from water bath
    5. Add cold milk and whisk until combined.
    6. Add egg yolks one at a time and whisk until smooth.
    7. Add vanilla, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest and whisk
    8. Sift flour and fold into mixture. Set aside.
    9. Whisk whites at low speed till foamy
    10. Add cream of tartar and beat at high speed till bubbles become very small but still visible
    11. Gradually add sugar (70g) and beat till just before soft peaks 
    12. Fold whites into batter 1/3 at a time. Set aside a couple of tablespoons. Divide batter into 2 portions and add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder into one portion together with the reserved meringue. Gently fold until combined.
    13. Pour both batter alternately into prepared pan and tap the pan on the counter to release air bubbles
    14. Bake on the lowest rack in a preheated 200 degree C oven (top and bottom heat, no fan force) for 18min, lower to 160 degree C for 12 mins and turn off the oven and leave cake in the closed oven for 30 mins. Open the door of the oven slightly at the end of the baking for 10 mins for cake to cool. (I baked mine at 155C for 45 mins then 140C for another 15 mins then leave in oven for 30 mins with oven door closed)