Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Snowskin Mooncake - good soft skin!

A basic snowskin dough is made with kou-fen (fried glutionous rice flour), shortening and water.  If you have made them before, you will know that it is not difficult all all.  If you haven't, then its time to get started.   

Anyway, what i meant to say, the challenge of making a good snowskin mooncake is finding a recipe that gives you soft smooth skin that will withstand the test of time in fridge until it gets eaten.  

I started with this which is very simple but would often struggle to get smooth skin.  Then I found Aunty Yochana's Ice Cream Soda Snowskin Mooncake ... I was rewarded with smooth nice skin, and 490g of tang mien flour to contribute to the landwaste.  Yet, on the 2nd day, while the skin is still soft and pliable i could see the remarkable difference in its texture. 

they say imitation is the most sincere compliment!
Goto Ann's blog to see step-by-step instruction.

I also read from some blogs whose claimed the skin stayed soft for upto a week but I compared the recipe and found the only difference is the slightly higher proportion of liquid to flour.  If you add more liquid to the flour, it gets sticky and chances are you will compensate the stickiness with some kou-fen so that it becomes manageable. Hmm, so you are back to square one ya?

This year I found Ann's recipe - it uses a combination of koufen & snowskin premix and a different method where the shortening and liquid is boiled together before adding to the flours.  I made it on Sunday, and really pleased to report that the skin is still very smooth, soft and tasty when I tried some after dinner just now! 

I am really happy with this skin - its "toink toink" like the Hada Lada ad!

It was really generous for her to share her recipe.  Strangely, she published her recipe 2 years ago... I wondered how I could have missed this!!!

Ann's Snowskin Mooncake

50g    Kao fen (糕粉-cooked glutinous rice flour)
230g  Snowskin flour ( KCT Pinpe Premix Powder ) - do not sift
50g    Icing sugar (I reduce to 25g)
46g    Crisco/shortening
300g Water (boil 500g water with 4 pandan leaves, leave to cool) and measure 300g water.  see note 1
some extra kao fen for dusting

  • Combine kao fen and snowskin flour (KWT Pinpe Premix Powder) in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In a pot, add 4 pandan leaves (knotted) water with icing sugar and shortening together and bring them to boil until shortening melted, stir with a hand whisk.
  • Pour the hot liquid mixture to the flour and use spatula to stir mixture to soft dough and leave dough to cool (you'll find the dough is quite oily at this time) then knead dough again to smooth, add more kao fen to it if the dough is still too sticky.
  • Add different colour dough for different type of filling.
  • Measure dough to 21g and wrap in 25g lotus paste or any other filling you prefer.
  • Roll it into a ball and dust with some kao fen (kao fen 糕粉) and press firmly into mould ~ unmould it and store in an airtight container.
  • Chill snowskin mooncakes before consuming. 
Note 1 :  Boiling water with pandan leaves is a natural way to add frangrance.  But if it is not avail, replace with some flavouring (e.g. banana, orange etc)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jamie Oliver Chicken in Milk

Whenever I need to feed a big group of people and do not want to spend too much time in the kitchen, I go to this recipe.  It is very easy to make, the only work involves pan frying the chicken, and some cutting.  Everything else is then poured into  oven-safe casserole and bake till you are ready to serve.

Who knows that milk and chicken can give you such satisfaction.

The only thing to take note is frying the chicken.  The last time I gave my sis this recipe verbally, I told her to pan-fry till it brown.  So she skipped this step at her discretion.  It ended up her dish has a thick layer of yellow liquid floating on top.  Quizz her further than realised that's the chicken fat that should have been take off after pan-frying.

The photo was taken during my recent vacation in UK, cooking for my friend's family. The original recipe uses whole chicken but I used thigh which is relatively cheaper there!  :-)

Also, I added vegetables (whatever I can find in the fridge which happen to be carrot and fresh mushrooms) to make the meal complete.

Chicken in Milk

1.5 kg chicken parts
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
½ stick cinnamon
1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked
zest of 2 lemons
10 cloves garlic, skin left on
565 ml milk

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.

2. Marinate chicken with black pepper and fry it in a little olive oil, turning the chicken to get an even colour all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the oil left in the pot. This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan which will give you a lovely caramel flavour later on.

3. Put your chicken back in the pot/casserole with the rest of the ingredients (including vege if you are using), and cook in the preheated oven for 60min. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce  which is absolutely fantastic.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Braised Balsamic Chicken

I always enjoy eating my lighted toasted bread with olive oil and balsamic mix.  Each time very little balsamic is used up that a bottle will easily last me a year.  I still remember the last bottle (a very good one *sob*)I had ended in the bin cos it was more than 2 years old.  My mum used to tell me that vinegar, like salt and sugar, has an infinite shelf life but i just felt a little funny knowingly consume something so "ancient".

Anyway, now that I found this recipe shared by Wendy at Table for 2, I am sure no balsamic vinegar will ever go to waste.  Not only for the sake of consumption, this dish has a very balanced taste of sourness and sweetness making it a hit with B.

I served it with rice and some accompanying vegetables as my family must have rice. 

Just a word on cookware.  Personally, I felt that when cooking with acidic liquid like balsamic, it is best to use a non-reactive cookware such as enameled cast iron (e.g. Le Crueset) or stainless steel.  Aluminum cookware will colour acidic foods with a grey tinge while cast iron (the one with enamel coating) will have acidic food leach iron from the pot.  Though you can argue that this is one way of getting your douse of iron that your body need!

Below is my version:

Braised Balsamic Chicken
3 pieces of chicken leg (1 for each diner)
Some salt and black pepper to taste.
1 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup water

2 tbsp honey
1 tsp dried italian herbs

Some corn flour & water for thickening

1. Marinade the chicken with black pepper, preferably overnight.
2. Heat up a non-reactive pot, and add some olive oil.  Fry chicken leg with skin side down until it brown.  This will remove some fats.

3.  Remove excess oil, and keep about 1 tbsp to cook the onion and garlic.  It is ready when onion turned translucent.

4.  Add all the rest of the ingredients (except corn flour) and cover the pot until chicken is cooked through, about 20min.  Also check the taste, and add more salt/pepper/honey when necessary.  I used more honey.

5.  Take out the chicken and thicken sauce by adding corn flour/water mixture.  Though Wendy said this is optional, I find that thickened sauce will enable the sauce to "stick" to the chicken better.

6. Serve the chicken with steamed rice and vegetables, drizzling the thickened sauce over the chicken.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cooking for one: vegetarian mee sua

Last Sunday was my mum's 100th day and also my dad's lunar birthday.  It must be a big bag of mixed feelings for him!

Late ma used to make Mee Sua for every one of us on our lunar birthday.  I just thought that my dad would like one too... But due to the tight schedule that day, I didn't get to serve him the mee sua soup. 

Since all the stuff were already in fridge, I made them for my work day lunch instead.

Simple stuff like tow gey, choy sim, hard boiled egg (it may look like fishball, but its egg) and mock mini sausages served with mee sua, but to me, this is the taste of our family tradition.

What's your family tradition?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A deep dark secret... an almost Awfully Chocolate Cake

"Almost Awfully Chocolate..." was what attracted me to this recipe shared by Jamie, celebrity and owner of Twelve Cupcake
Indeed it is - very moist, deep and dark chocolate that I haven't had for a long time.  The cake turned out to be a hit even though I mistakenly used Valrhona cocoa powder (which is dutch-processed) when the recipe call for "not dutch processed" in the original source.

The cake is really so dark - almost like black!

Double Chocolate Cake

Here's what I did:

85gm semi sweet chocolate (i used 60% choc)
1 cup brewed coffee (I used Nespresso :-))
- Combine both.  There were enough heat from the freshly brewed coffee to melt the chocolate.

2 eggs
1/2 cup veg oil
1 cup buttermilk (add 1 tbsp lemonjuice to 1 cup milk if you dont have buttermilk. let it stand for at least 10mins)
1/2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Pure Chocolate Extract (or vanilla extract/essence)
- these are the wet ingredients

1 and 1/2 cup sugar
1 and 2/3 cup self rising flour
1 cup natural cocoa powder (e.g. Hershey)
1 and 1/3 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
- sift the above dry ingredients together


(preheat oven to 180deg celsius - for cupcake, and 160C for big cake)
1. beat eggs (on speed 2 for about 3mins on my Kenwood mixer) till fluffy.
2. add all the wet ingredients (including coffee and choco mixture) and combine well. that’s really quick with the mixer.
3. add all the dry ingredients which you’ve already sifted and mixed together.
4. combine it well with the mixer. that’s quite quick too.
5. pour batter into cupcake liners or cake tins (line the bottom with baking paper so it’s easy to remove cake later)
6. bake for ~21 min (for cupcake) or ~50mins (for cake) or until the skewer/satay stick comes out clean when you poke the center of the cake with it.
7. let cake cool completely before frosting.

Frosting - I halved Jamie's recipe:
100ml whipping cream
20g butter
200g semisweet chocolate

1. microwave above and stir til it’s a smooth mix.
2. cool the mixture cos it might be too watery to spread before that.
3. Pipe the frosting when cupcake is cool.

The cake stores very well - it is soft even when just taken out from the fridge!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Eggless Pineapple Tarts - new recipe

I make pineapple tarts every year.  This year, I saw it from Facebook that many of my friends also decided to make their own pineapple tarts.  Ha, I am just glad that I have a good 5 years head start!!!
What's more?  This year, I decided to be a good girl and grate my pineapple instead of leaving them to spine endlessly in the electric blender.

See how fibrous the grated pineapple are!

When I attended the formal baking lesson, the chef actually use the same jam for both open and close tarts.  But I always feel that they should be different:  the jam  for closed tart should be drier or else the dough will crack while the dry jam will be harden on the open tarts. 

So I made 2 different type of jam:

For the dough, i use the interesting recipe from Kitchen Tigress (whom, btw, has much a wonderful blog!).  After using the creaming method and rub-in method, I am only too excited to test-drive the boiling method!

KT was kind enough to advice that this recipe is only suitable for close tarts as "it is very delicate and crumbly", and the pattern made mould was indeed puff-up in the oven and all I got was a fat characterless blob.   But I really wanted to keep this buttery pastry for my sister who has a penchant for both all-things-buttery and open tarts.  Stubborn.  My problem lah.

To cut the long story short, I had a fun time playing with the dough, and after using up 1 kg of Elle Vire butter (yes, I am a slow learner as far as baking is concern =p), I figured out the trick to make it more pliable for open tarts and retain its form after baking.  You wanna know...  c'mon, send me some Elle Vire!

 Swee boh?

Just as KT put it - 101% buttery and melt-in-your-mouth!

RECIPE - Pastry for Pineapple Tarts
(from David Lebovitz via Kitchen Tigress)

360 g unsalted butter
60 ml vegetable oil
75 ml water
60 g sugar
½ tsp salt
600 g plain flour

1. Put all ingredients except flour in a pot. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Continue boiling till foam subsides and colour darkens.  Alternatively, weigh pot and contents before heating, then boil till weight is reduced by about 65 g.

2. Turn off heat. Tip flour into pot. Mix thoroughly and leave till just cool enough to handle. Knead to make sure mixing is even, adjusting with 1-2 tbsp water if mixture is crumbly, or 1-2 tsp plain flour if sticky. Use a cookie scoop to divide the dough into equal parts.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ushering the Water Snake Year

Happy and Prosperous New Year to everyone! 

For me, I can't wait for the dragon year to be over; it hasn't been my greatest year in so many ways, my numerous health problem and more importantly mum's health which eventually took her away from us. 

What I do know is that when you are at the bottom of your luck, the only direction it can go is UP! 

How was your luck?

Here's my usual eggless Pineapple Tarts using this recipe. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cooking with Chef Veronica - Porcini Risotto

Following ma's passing, we observed her religious practice to abstain from meat & alcohol. 
I took this vegetarian class with Chef Veronica Cherry from Food-to-Serve to add new item to my repertoire.  Chef V is a very patient and helpful instructor who has loads of tips for us... I enjoyed her class very much.
Porcini Risotto is a very yummy Italian mushroom rice, and best part, it is vegetarian!  After you learn how to cook this, you no long willing to pay so much for the simple dish in those fancy restaurants.


What you will need:

300g       Arborio rice                       
500ml    Vegetable Stock (must be hot at all time)
3 tbsp    Olive oil                               
2              Shallots                               
60-80g   Porcini mushroom (Soak 30minutes before use), Keep the soaking water
2 tbsp    Freshly grated parmesan cheese                                             
30g         Butter                   Cube, keep cold
1 tbsp    Fresh herbs (Parsley, chives, chervil)
Salt & Pepper to taste.
How to do it:
1) Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a deep sauté pan and add the shallot to fry for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Stir in the rice and to coat with oil.  Allow the rice to cook for 1-2 minutes.
2) Add 1-2 ladles of stock to rice. Stir the rice and allow the rice to absorb the stock.   Add the porcini mushroom into the risotto. Cook the rice for 1-2 minute and add the soaking water to the risotto for extra flavour.
It is important not to add too much stock to the risotto. Only add the stock a ladleful at a time, allowing each addition of stock to be absorbed before adding another ladle.
3) When the risotto is al dente (firm to the bite), remove the pan from the heat. Add cold butter a few cubes at a time; stir to mix the butter into the risotto. The risotto should be moist and creamy at this stage.  Add in some grated parmesan cheese into the creamy risotto. Season the risotto with salt and pepper.
4) Garnish with fresh herb and grate some more parmesan cheese if desire. Serve immediately.


Adding cold butter to the rice allows the proper emulsifying...  otherwise you may end up with oily rice.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Its been another long break...  so much happened in the last few months, so much yet so fast....
From ma's diagnosis in June, bed-ridden in Oct, hospitalisation in Nov, and finally passing on the day day of December.

During this period, we saw through the ugly but real colours of her sons and their wives who struggled to put up the filial act in her final days.

For ma, i am glad that you are following the Divines and Supremes, leaving behind the pains; not only the physical ones but also the the emotional pains from disrespectful children.

ma, always happy with the grandchildren!