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)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

 

Personally, I love this cake a lot, from baking it, eating it or just by looking at it.  The texture, pattern and color combination are just too pleasing to the eyes and irresistibly indulging to the palate.  

I am never a fan of cheesecake as I find it too creamy and fattening and a lot of it is cloying but for this particular one, it just wins me over.  To me, chocolate and cheese is indeed a great combination, thus it never fails to make a great dessert.  The moment my eyes caught sight of the photo and recipe (by Ann Low of Anncoo Journal), I was all set and fired up to make my very own one.


Of course, it doesn't take too long to bake and the process itself is nothing complicated.  The ingredients used are pretty standard and predictable if you are used to making butter cake and cheesecake.  The only thing that caught me by surprise is the use of whipping cream instead of milk. I am not sure whether was it that the cream made the cake so soft and fluffy.  Whatever it is, this recipe is worth trying and definitely a keeper.  It certainly makes a great and presentable dessert for any potluck or home party.



Recipe:

Ingredients: 

(A)

250g Butter, softened

160g Caster sugar

4 large Eggs (about 70g each)

1tsp Vanilla extract

170g Self-raising flour plus 4tbsp cocoa powder, sift together into a bowl 

5tbsp Milk (I used whipping cream)



(B)

250g Cream cheese, room temperature

60g Caster sugar

3 tbsp Whipping cream (optional)

1 large Egg, about 70g

1tbsp Self-raising flour

      Method:

  • Grease and line a 8 inch square cake pan. Preheat oven to 160 deg C.
  • Beat ingredients (B) till fluffy and set aside.
  • From ingredients (A), beat butter and sugar till pale and fluffy, add in eggs one at a time and mix well, add in vanilla extract and whipping cream, mix well.
  • Fold in sifted flour and cocoa powder with a rubber spatula in 2 portions into butter mixture, mix well.
  • Spread half portion of batter into pan, then spoon in cheese mixture (B), cover cheese mixture with the remaining portion of cake batter (total of 3 layers). Then use a chopstick to swirl through the batter to create the marbling effect.
  • Bake for 60-70 minutes or skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake



RICH! RICH! RICH! This is the only adjective that I can think of right now.  This is my first time baking and eating a flourless cake.  I baked this cake together with my cousin, Doreen when she came to visit me.  While she was whisking her soft fluffy orange cake, I was busy whipping this gorgeous little sweetie.  YES, we baked two cakes that morning.  You can image how my entire kitchen smelled like.

On a personal note, loved the cake a lot.  My son, who is never a cake lover was seen scampering back for a second slice.  As soon as the cake is out of the oven, the smell almost instantly wafted the entire kitchen and within seconds invaded the entire house.  Even cooling the cake for five minutes seemed too long a wait.  As soon as it was ready to be dug in, only then I remembered that I needed a photo shot.  So, this explains the rather messy and unorganised pictures. 




I particularly loved the texture of the cake.  The egg yolks and whites are separately whisked which gives the cake a slightly mousse-y consistency.  Be prepared, this cake is just goddamn smooth and moist.  It certainly has the melt-in-the-mouth effect but will turn a little denser after a day.  Having said that, it is still heavenly gracious!

I must credit this recipe to Christine of Christine's Recipes, whose cook book is currently selling like hot cakes within the Asian countries particularly Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.  

Recipe
(adapted from Christine's Recipes)

Ingredients:

  • 250gm dark chocolate
  • 5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 120gm caster sugar
  • 150gm unsalted butter
  • 50gm ground almond (almond meal), optional
  • Icing sugar, for garnish

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 170C (335F). Melt chocolate, butter and sugar in a bowl over a pot of hot water at low-medium heat. After melting all ingredients, remove from heat, stir thoroughly to combine.
  2. Mix in ground almonds. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. (Note: Make sure the mixture is not too hot, as you don't want the egg yolks cooked at this stage.)
  3. Beat egg whites with slow-speed electric mixer for 2 minutes. Then turn to high speed and beat until the egg whites become very stiff and peaked.
  4. Fold in a few spoons of egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the rest with small amount at a time for 3 times just until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not beat.
  5. Turn the mixture into a greased and floured 20cm round bakery tin. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Insert a needle to test the cake. If the needle comes out clean, it’s cooked through.
  6. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Claypot Chicken Rice


Please do not be deceived by the name of this dish.  Certainly, there's no claypot used to cook it. All the ingredients are dumped into one big magical pot......the rice cooker.  After thirty minutes, a nice savoury meal is on your table ready to pamper your rumbling tummy.

If you are looking for a quick and simple meal to prepare, this could be the one to consider.  Only three steps :

1. Marinate the chicken
2. Stir fry the marinated chicken
3. Dump everything into the rice cooker

THAT'S IT!  As easy as ABC!!  Though quick it is not entirely express as you may need to marinate the chicken pieces for at least half an hour and further cook the rice for another half an hour. 

Frankly, I don't really know much about the origination of this dish, all I know is you can find it in almost every food court in Malaysia and Singapore.  



I cooked this dish last week.  It was my second try dishing this out for my family.  Sadly, I ruined the rice on both occasions in that the rice came out mushy.  Not to be worry, it is not because of the recipe but merely my clumsiness by being kiasu adding too much water.  Anyway, here are three different rules of thumb when cooking rice :
  1. Double the water to rice, minus a few tablespoons. So, for 1 cup of rice, it would be 2 cups of water, minus 2-4 tablespoons. 
  2. Put the rice in the pot and add enough water so that the water level is about 1 inch above the rice.
  3. Fill pot with water so that the level of the water is one thumb knuckle above the level of the rice. 

Claypot Chicken Rice Recipe
(adapted from Ms I-Hua of The Chronicles of Ms I-Hua)

Ingredients:
500 grams of boneless chicken [breast and/or leg pieces] (bite sizes)
3 cups of long grain rice
500 ml of water (or enough to cover the rice and up to the first line on your index finger –> as demonstrated)
2 lap cheong
6-7 dried Shiitake mushrooms
5  cm x 10 cm piece of salted fish (optional) + 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
Ingredients for the Marinade:
 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon ginger juice
1 teaspoon cornflour
2 tablespoon Shao Tsing wine (Chinese Rice Wine)
Pinch of salt
Drizzling Sauce (mix together):
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoon sesame oil

Procedure
  1. Mix the marinade ingredients with the chicken and let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes, of course the longer the better, giving the marinate ingredients to permeate into the chicken pieces.
  2. Whilst the chicken is marinating, soak some dried Shiitake mushrooms in hot water, to rehydrate them. Slice the lap cheong (3mm slices) and set aside.
  3. Once the mushrooms have been plumped up by the hot water, drain and squeeze out the excess water. Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
  4. Slice the salted fish up into tiny pieces. In a small saucepan, heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and shallow fry the salted fish pieces. Add a teaspoon of sugar (if you like), to caramelise the salted fish. Set aside for garnishing later.
  5. In a rice cooker, cook the rice according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A general rule is to cover the rice with water until the water reaches the first line of your index finger (from the top layer of the rice, not the bottom of the pot).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine With White Wine And Chicken Nuggets

Nothing can stop me if my palate suddenly craves for a certain food.  Just like any loving dad who easily spoils his child by submissively giving in to his request however unreasonable they may seem to be, I too will find ways and means to satisfy and fulfill my hungry pang, no matter how unreasonable the situation turns out to be.

Two days ago, for no particular reason, I suddenly craved to have fettuccine pasta for breakfast. Though rushing for time and knowingly that there's nothing much left in the refrigerator, this hard headed bozo just bulldozed against the odds and finally managed to whip one out in a miniscule 20 minutes, yes from boiling the pasta to making the sauce....all from scratch!

I immediately made a quick browse on the net looking for something simple and fast to prepare.  So, here's the recipe my ravenous eyes scanned and caught.  In fact, there were abundant on the net and most of them were so simple to prepare that I did not even bother to have them bookmarked or jotted down.  As a result, I wasn't able to credit the source of the recipe.  I did try to find it back but gave up finally as it was just like looking for a needle in a haystack.     

As it's gonna be quick preparation, obviously there's no way I would have enough time to prepare the chicken pieces.  Instead, I substituted it with chicken nuggets.  Hey, surprisingly it turned to be just as good.  The flavour from the nuggets just complimented so well with the creamy pasta.  Slurp!  I would highly recommend that you try this for once if you are looking for a super quick meal.  While preparing the sauce, I  concurrently boiled my pasta and popped the frozen nuggets into the microwave to defrost them and subsequently into my mini oven to toast them.  By the time my sauce was ready, my pasta and the nuggets were also cooked.  Quickly, I dished them out onto a plate, sprinkled some pepper corns and voila, an elegant-looking pasta dish was waiting for me, all ready to put a big smile on my face.

Now, here the step-by-step method preparing the creamy white whine mushroom sauce..... 

Stir fry the garlic, then the mushroom
Add in the white wine and simmer for 5 minutes

Add in the thickened cream
Simmer until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency
Ingredients
(serves 3-4)
fettuccine pasta, boiled al dente
6 pcs chicken nuggets, oven baked
6 pcs button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup white wine
1 cup thickened cream
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper


Method:
  1. Boil the pasta as per packaging instruction.
  2. Oven baked the chicken nuggets.
  3. Stir fry the chopped garlic until golden brown.
  4. Add in the sliced mushrooms and fry them until the sides are brown.
  5. Add in white wine and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add in the thickened cream.
  7. Add in the grated parmesan cheese. (I omitted this)
  8. Simmer the sauce until the it thickens to the desired consistency.
  9. Add in salt and pepper.
  10. Drizzle the sauce over pasta.
  11. Top the dish with chicken nuggets & pepper corns.
  12. Ready to dig in.




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Udang Masak Lemak Nenas, a Nyonya Classic


Masak Lemak Nenas is another quintessential nyonya dish, a must-try dish when you attempt to explore nyonya cuisine.  You walk into any nyonya restaurant, this dish is undeniably one of THE dish that the waiter will highly recommend that you order.     

The sweetness from the pineapples and prawns, the saltiness from the salted fish, the creaminess from the coconut milk, the spiciness from the chilli paste coupled with the extra tang from the lemongrass, galangal, tumeric and ginger all of which just blend so perfectly, giving the whole dish a good balance, guarantee to please and satisfy your palate to the max.  This is indeed a dish your taste buds will thank you dearly.


Needless to say, this has always been one of my top favourite nyonya dish and my classic comfort food until today. Masak Lemak Nenas is always served with steamed white rice.  For my personal preference, I always complement it with sambal belacan (another must-try nyonya-style chillie paste) or sambal cili garam (another classic Nyonya sambal).  Like most nyonya dishes especially if they are gravy based, we the Peranakans (the Sraits born) will always eat using our five fingers as we can practically lick each of them if the dish is good.  Oh, I'm drooling now!!

Now, let's get down to the recipe.....

Ingredients
  • 200g prawns
  • 150g pineapples, sliced
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 3 cups of water 
  • 1 salted Ikan Sepat (Gourami fish)
  • sugar
  • salt
  • oil to fry
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (optional), I omit this
  • 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste
 To blend (A)
  • 10 fresh chillies, I used about 6 as my family can't really take too spicy
  • 15 shallots or a palm full
  •  3 pips of garlic
  • 1/2 inch of galangal
  • 1/2 inch of turmeric
  • 2 stalks of lemon grass, sliced
  • 3 candlenuts
  • 5g of belacan (shrimp paste)

Steps to prepare

  1. Toast belacan over fire or on a dry pan until fragrant.
  2. Blend all ingredients in (A). Add some water to ease blending process.
  3. Add oil to pan and fry (A) until fragrant. When it’s fragrant, the paste will change into a darker shade of red.
  4. Add water.
  5. Add pineapples and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Then, add coconut milk. Make sure the fire is small and keep stirring or else the gravy will turn lumpy.
  7. Add prawns, ikan sepat, tamarind paste and sugar. Wait until prawns cook.
  8. Finally, switch stove off and add kaffir lime leaves. Stir evenly and serve.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steamed Pumpkin Cake


This savoury dish is a typical Chinese snack usually taken during breakfast or afternoon tea.  I made this over the weekend as I was ordered by the 'home minister' in my house to clear the two pumpkins that had been lying idle in the kitchen for almost three weeks.  

I was cracking my head hard thinking of what to cook the pumpkins with.  Of course, I was trying to be creative (oh, please!) and thinking of something different and special......like pumpkin juice, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkins buns, pumpkin breads or even pumpkin ice-cream.   Well, none of them seemed appealing to me.  Not wanting to take the risk, I finally decided to go back to the usual savoury steamed pumpkin cake, a popular breakfast or party snack among the Chinese community.


Well, preparing the dish is surprisingly easy, nothing very complicated.  The ingredients used are rather standard and easily available.  The 3 most basic ingredients are rice flour, water, and of course pumpkin (mashed, grated, or cubed).......that's it!  To make it savoury and flavourful, minced meat (either chicken or pork), mushrooms, chinese sausages, dried shrimps and fried shallots are added.  Then, comes salt and pepper for taste AND spring onions and sliced chilies for garnish.

Now, the most important part is the texture of the cake.  This is where personal preference comes in. Some like it hard and springy AND some like it slightly softer.  It all depends on the water used.  The standard flour-water ratio is 1:3.  For example, for 100g of rice flour, we may need 300g of water.  From here, you work your way up or down.  If you prefer a slightly softer texture, then add a little bit more water (about 50ml) and vice versa. 

The Recipe:
(adapted from Fong's Kitchen, with slight modification)

Ingredients
700g of pumpkin
250g of rice flour
1 tbsp of corn flour (to make the texture smooth)
750ml of water (this amount of water yields a rather soft texture.  I suggest that you reduce to 650ml)

100g of chicken/pork meat
70g of dried prawn (I find it a little too much, maybe should reduce it to 50g)
1 tsp chicken stock, powered form
3 dried mushroom (optional)
1 chinese sausage (optional)

2 tsp of oil
2 cloves garlic

1 tsp Salt
1 tsp pepper

10 shallots
1 red chilli
1 stalk of spring onions

Preparation :
  1. Soak the dried prawns, mushrooms and chinese sausage for half an hour or until they are soft. (As there's flavour in the water, I did not throw it, instead I used it to make up to the 750ml of water required)
  2. Skin and cut the chicken meat into cubes.  You may also mince the meat.
  3. Mince the garlic.
  4. Skin the pumpkin and cut it into small cubes.
 Method:
  1. Steam pumpkin until soft and fork tender.  Lightly mashed half of it.  Set aside.
  2. Add water and chicken stock to the sifted rice flour and corn flour.  Stir well until flour is completely dissolved.
  3. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium heat. Fry garlic and dried prawns until crisp and fragrant.
  4. Add in chicken meat, mushrooms and chinese sausage and stir-fry until it is cooked.
  5. Add in pumpkin and continue stir-frying, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper. 
  7. Pour in the rice flour mixture, and stir it till it turns sticky.
  8. Pour mixture into a 21cm round cake tin and level the surface with a spatula.  (You may drizzle some oil on the spatula to ease leveling the surface)
  9. Steam it over boiling water at medium fire for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  10. Prepare toppings while steaming the cake. Cut shallot into slices and fry it till light brown. Slice the red chillies and spring onions.
  11. Remove the cake from the steamer and sprinkle topping ingredients immediately on the hot cake. 
  12. Wait for the cake to cool down before cutting into slices and serve.
Notes:
  1. If you want your pumpkin cake to look slightly yellowish, mash the pumpkin a little.  
  2. The cake can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week. Before serving, heat it up in the microwave oven or steamer. Alternatively, it can be cut into rectangle and pan-fry until light brown. The pan-fried crisped pumpkin cake is utterly delicious. 
Updates - 23/4/15
* Made with one whole pumpkin (weighs about 1600g).
* Double up the rice flour to 500g with 1300ml of water.
* The texture of the cake turned out perfect, just the way I wanted it (neither too soft nor too hard)