Thursday, October 24, 2013

No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

I made this cake last week specially for my beloved wife.  Yes, it was her birthday!  16 October!  Her 40th birthday!  Well, at this point of life, we no longer look forward to celebrating birthdays anymore.  Instead, how we wish that the day would never come so that we will stay as young as ever.  We deliberately choose to be denial, not wanting to acknowledge the digits that come tagging our age.  So, on this note and coupled with other family matters, I tried to keep everything as simple and as modest as possible.  No celebration!  No present!  No flowers!  No surprises! But....a birthday cake!

I was insistent that a birthday cake was still a must-have thing on this special day, at least to satisfy my 4-year old girl.  You know, at this age, she is just too obsessed with cakes.  The thing that excites her the most is the blowing and the cutting, definitely not the eating.  Just looking at her running around innocently with candles and a lighter in her hands, all excited and glowing, is indeed the greatest gift that we could ever ask for. 

Come back to my cake, this is truly my first time baking a birthday cake for someone, and that someone special happens to be my wife.  God willing, I hope to bake her a birthday cake every year for as long as we are still together and I am still functional.  I chose cheesecake simply for the reason that to me a cheesecake is always a class above the rest, having a character and style of its own - simple and plain yet elegant and posh!   Perfect for a birthday gift!

Personally, I like this bake a lot.  The only drawback is I am not quite pleased with the crust.  I thought that it was a little overspiced.  For those who do not like cinnamon and nutmeg, the taste could be quite irritating.  Secondly, I used coarse sugar instead of caster sugar thus making the crust a little sandy.  Biting the sugar crystals can be quite a bit disturbing when you are eating the cake.  Other than that, the cake was near perfect.  The cream filling was light and velvety and certainly has that melt-in-the mouth effect.  Also, the taste was just nice - not too sweet and not too cheesy.  The blueberry filling complemented perfectly with the cream cheese filling.

All in all, this recipe is worth trying.  Indeed, it is another keeper recipe.  I adapted this recipe from Michelle of My Mom-Fri here.  This is another pass-down recipe and has been around for not less than 20 years.  I am glad and somehow blessed to have found this recipe.  A perfect gift for my beloved wife.


The Recipe:

The Crust: 
1 1/2 cups graham cracker*(I used digestive biscuits, 15 pcs)
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder *(I regretted using this as not many of us like cinnamon)
1/4 tsp nutmeg*(I shall omit this next time, too overpowering)
1 tbs sugar
1/2 cup (approx. 100g) softened butter
1 tsp lemon juice and grated rind (optional)*(I overlooked this)
I added a pinch of fine salt

The Cheesecake Filling:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (approx. 100g) softened butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice and grated rind (optional)

Cheesecake filling:
1 cup (1 brick) cream cheese (use your brand of choice)
1 cup (1 brick) all purpose cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons liquid milk
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (1 sachet of Knox)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

1 can Comstock Blueberry pie filling
- See more at:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (approx. 100g) softened butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice and grated rind (optional) - See more at:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (approx. 100g) softened butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice and grated rind (optional)

Cheesecake filling:
1 cup (1 brick) cream cheese (use your brand of choice)
1 cup (1 brick) all purpose cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons liquid milk
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (1 sachet of Knox)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

1 can Comstock Blueberry pie filling
- See more at:
1 cup cream cheese (use your brand of choice)*(I used 300g of cream cheese)
1 cup all purpose cream*(I used whipping cream, 250ml)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp liquid milk*(I used plain water) 
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)*(I overlooked this) 

The Topping:
1 can Blueberry pie filling 

The Method: 

To prepare crust:
Crush graham crackers.  You can use a food processor or hand mixer to make crumbs fast and easy.
Mix all dry ingredients and add butter to bind.  Mash well.  
*Crust mixture should be close to texture of moist sand; add a bit more butter if too dry.  
Transfer and press evenly on bottom of ungreased springform pan (or any pie dish you prefer).
*I used an 8" round baking pan and pressed down the crust with a glass bottom.
Place in the freezer to harden the crust while you make the filling. 

To prepare the filling:
Using a mixer, whip the chilled cream (NOT cream cheese, yah!) with 2 tablespoon of sugar until stiff. 
In a separate bowl, gradually mix the remaining sugar into the softened cream cheese.
Beat until fluffy and set aside. 
In a small sauce pan, combine milk and gelatin powder.  Heat until completely dissolved (don't boil, use a wire whisk to remove lumps).  Remove from heat and pour into cream cheese mixture.
Fold in cheese mixture to the whipped all-purpose cream and beat on medium to high.
Add lemon juice if you want some zest in your cream filling. 

To assemble:
Bring out pan from freezer and pour in the cheesecake filling.  
Spread evenly with spatula and tap pan lightly to set and release air bubbles. 
Cover pan and chill for a few hours.
Top with blueberry pie filling or fruit compote before serving.   

Hope you like this post.  Have a great week ahead! 

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (approx. 100g) softened butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice and grated rind (optional) - See more at:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chicken Curry

I cooked this dish last Sunday.  My wife invited her mom and her sisters over for dinner.  As always, I will have to rake my head thinking of what to dish out. always, I will spend hours and hours thinking and surfing the net searching for ideas and after what seems like ages I finally come out with NOTHING!  No choice, my wife will have to come to my rescue and give her suggestion and I will always be like "Oh! Why didn't I think of that?" Useless bugger!!

So, this time round - chicken curry.  Well, this is my second attempt cooking a chicken curry after my disastrous shot on my kids' birthday gathering, exactly a year back.  I could still recall one of my guests asked, "who cooked this curry? Taste funny la..!"  &%$#@#$#

Well, I am proud to say that I have somehow succeeded this time round after I surprisingly received a thumbs up from my brother-in-law for the dish.  However, to say that this is the best curry I have ever tasted is perhaps an overstatement and a far cry. 

Of course, there are many variations of curries ie the Chinese, the Malay, the Nyonya or the Indian style.  Which does this version fall into?  I have no idea.  But why bother?  Nobody is going to say "I like the Indian/the Chinese curry I ate yesterday!"  If the curry is good, they will always say, "OMG, I love Kuan Yoon's curry yesterday!" So, who cares which curry you adopt?  Just adapt, add, mix and match.  Make it your own and that's exactly what I did on this dish!  There are scores of recipes on the net that will leave you spoilt for choices.  I simply did not know which to choose from.  All seemed so good.  So, the easy way out was I dug out the kiasu itch in me and used everything that caught my eyes.  I know that this may not work all the time but for this time round, it did!
Anyway, I adapted the recipe from Choesf from Happyhomemaker88 here, with quite a bit of modification.  Apparently, it was her mother-in-law's recipe.  It's nice to see recipes being passed down to our loved ones.  Although we may not be around, at least our food continues to provide comfort to the family.  I am now wondering what my future daughter-in-law will say about me once I am gone.  Will she say:

"Thank God, luckily I managed to learn from that senile old man how to cook 
his chicken curry before he kicked the bucket!"

The Ingredients:
3 whole chicken legs, cut up and marinate with 2 tbsps salt and 3 tbsps curry powder
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks deep fry in oil until half cooked *(I didn't deep fry)
2 large onions, peeled and cut into chunks
15 shallots, chopped

1 cinnamon stick*(I added this)
2 star anise*(I added this)
curry paste (pls see below for recipe)
2 cups coconut milk (mix 3/4 of the thick coconut milk with 2 cups of water, reserve the 1/4 left for later use)*(I only used 1 1/2 cup)

1 bunch curry leaves*(I used 5 sprigs)
2 stalks of lemon grass/serai – smashed a bit to release its aromatic oils
2 pcs tamarind slice/asam keping*(I added this to give the curry a little sourish tang)

Curry paste
5 tbsps curry powder, 
5 candlenuts/buah keras, 
5 cloves garlic, 
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, 
3 fresh red chilies 
(all blended) 

Method -
1) In a hot wok, heat up 1/2 cup (125 ml)  of oil and fry shallots, star anise & cinnamon stick 
    until golden and aromatic.

2) Add in the curry paste and keep stirring to prevent burning until the oil separates from 
    the paste and it is very aromatic, about 5 minutes or so. This gives the curry a rich, 
    bright orange colour when it is cooked.

3) Add in the marinated chicken pieces and stir fry until it is half cooked – this is to 
    seal in the chicken juices and make the chicken fragrant and tasty

4) Next, add in the half-cooked potatoes, large onions, lemon grass, tamarind slices 
    and curry leaves.

5) Give them a good stir for about 2 minutes.

6) Pour in the diluted 3 and 3/4 cups of coconut milk. My rule of thumb for this is 
    to make sure that the coconut milk is enough to just cover the chicken and potatoes.

7) Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium to simmer the curry for about 
    25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender, the potatoes soft. 
    Remember to stir the curry often to prevent burning. Add a little more water if 
    the curry appears to be drying up.

8 ) When the curry is ready, season with salt and pour in the last 1/4 cup of 
     thick coconut milk. The coconut milk loses most of its aroma when boiled for a while,
     and by adding a bit of thick coconut milk at the last minute gives the curry a 
     richer, aromatic taste.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nan Khatai/Indian Short Bread

If you are a cookie-mania, then this is definitely a must-try recipe.  Seriously, you just have got to try this!  Believe me, it's super devilishly crispy!  The best ever cookies I have tried alongside Famous Amos!

I got this recipe from another foodie papa who cooks, hails from Singapore, Ken Goh with his blog named Guai Shu Shu.  Upon looking at the photos and reading his post, I instantly got hooked up with this recipe and eventually bookmarked it before I got the chance to make a batch the previous Sunday.  Unfortunately, it only lived for two days and I had to make another one on Wednesday.

For my first batch, I followed Ken's recipe strictly where I used ghee, a kind of clarified butter.  However, I tweaked the recipe a little for my subsequent batch where I experimented it using just normal butter.  The verdict?  Well, I have to say that I would choose the former, Ken's original recipe.  Though both are deliciously crispy, somehow or rather, the one with ghee holds the edge by a wee bit.  It is apparently lighter in texture and undoubtedly crispier, giving it the extra kick upon nibbling as compared to the other one using butter (which is more buttery, more compressed and looks sturdier).

The Recipe:
(yields about 70 pcs)

150g of self raising flour *
50g of semolina flour
70g of castor sugar
150g of ghee or butter
1 egg beaten
1/2 tps of vanilla esence
3/4 tsp of salt**
Adequate almond flakes or whole almonds for the cookies

   *I ran out of self-raising flour, so I used all-purpose flour 
     with 1 1/4 tsp of baking powder
** I added some salt to give the cookies a tinge of 
     sweet-salty  taste

Pre-heat the oven to 185 degree Celsius.

Prepare 2 baking trays, lined with parchment/baking paper

In a mixing bowl, beat the ghee and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add egg and vanilla, beat until well mixed.

Pour the batter into a piping bag and pipe the batter on the baking tray.  Leave adequate space for 

Put some almond flakes or almond chunks or the whole almonds on top of the pastry.

Baked in the oven for about 15 minutes or slightly before the cookies turn golden brown.

Cool the cookies completely before storing in an air-tight container.  
Hope that you like this type of cookie.  Forgive me if my photos do not look appealing and convincing enough.  Seriously, you've got to try it to love it!  Just as Ken put it:

"If there is any cookie that I want to sell during Chinese New Year or other festivals,
this will definitely be my top priority."