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Happy Hump Day with a green cake

>> Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Happy Hump Day everyone! I am so over the hump since starting from tomorrow, I am on two-week leaves. My dearest mom and sister are coming to Sydney. We three mother and daughters have not spent time together for a long while, so this is a good time to enjoy our company – ladies only! ;) I expect mom to bring me a lot of goodies from Hanoi, especially the really nice coffee from a very famous coffee shop near the Old Quarter. Perhaps I will feature it here and talk about how to make the perfect Vietnamese coffee at home?

Speaking of family heritage, I am still learning about my husband side of the family. With the Singaporean heritage, chicken rice, har mee, curries and laksa seem to be the favourites. Oh, did I mention that loving durian is a requirement to be part of the family, too?

My MIL (mother in law) tends to cook simple (and very spicy) dishes, but occasionally she does spend time in the kitchen and make dishes from scratch. Her popiah is the best since not a lot of restaurants here do this dish well. She does not bake but loves sweet stuff. Her sweet palate is typical Asian. That is the dislike of anything too sweet or buttery and the love for cottony soft, simple cake and bread. She still loves the durian pound cake that I baked in our first “official” meeting together (I did know how to please my future MIL for sure ;))

And of course, the family loves chiffon cake, especially pandan chiffon cake. Pandan leaves are much loved in Asia. They lend beautiful green color and especially vanilla-like fragrance to food. I grew up drinking pandan-scented water after a meal, and it was refreshing.

There are a lot of recipes out there for pandan chiffon cake, but I was fortunate enough to get a hand-written one from a Singaporean aunty… One of the “secret” ingredients is the use of coconut milk in the cake batter. This makes the cake a lot lighter and a touch richer, just the way I like it. Coconut milk and pandan flavours are match made in heaven and this cake confirms just that.

Pandan Chiffon Cake

In the old days (or if you are fortunate enough to get fresh pandan leaves at cheap price), the leaves were pounded to get the paste (or juice). In Australia, I got lazy and used the ready-made pandan paste instead. The cake was still lovely and beautiful, but it was a bit too… green. I was fine with it, but Mr. B. was like “honey, is it safe to eat?”

So well, the cake was stunningly green. But it was beautiful, and the flavours were just right. I guess we should not complain right? Because I love bold colors, I do not mind a green cake at all. I made the cake ages ago, and these photos have been on my Flickr stream for a while. I took a look the other day and discovered it was on explore before. So see, I am not the only one who is impressed with a green cake.

Happy Hump Day! Perhaps I should start thinking of a rainbow cake.

Pandan Chiffon Cake

The greenest pandan chiffon cake

Adapted from Aunty K.’s recipe

Ingredients (for 20cm chiffon cake pan. I used slightly larger pan for the cake in the photo)

A: 100g flour (see baker’s note)

1 tbsp baking powder

1 pinch of salt

0.75 to 1tbp pandan paste (to taste. I used 1 tbp and my cake was green)

125ml coconut milk

5 egg yolks

B: 5 egg whites

¼ tsp cream of tartar

110g castor sugar

Method

Preset your oven to 170C.

Mix all the ingredients in A together, except for the flour and baking powder. Sift flour and baking powder to the mixture, mix well to combine.

In a clean bowl, whisk the eggwhite, gradually add the sugar and whisk until soft peak forms.

Take 1/3 amount of the eggwhite, mix well with A to lighten the mixture. Carefully fold the rest of the egg white into A.

Pour the batter into an un-greased chiffon cake mould. Put in the oven and bake for around 50’-60’.

Take the cake mould out of the oven and invert it over a cooling rack onto its feet or over a thin-necked bottle. Let the cake hang to cool completely.


Once the cake is cool, use a thin-bladed knife to run around the edge and the inside to help release the cake from the pan. Push the bottom of the pan up, away from the side. Gently run the knife around the tube to release the cake.

Baker’s note:

* You can use normal cake tin to bake the cake. My friends have tried and it works. Lightly grease the tin in this case.

* Pandan paste can be purchased from most Asian groceries. It’s an Indonesian product. There are other flavours (durian, strawberry etc.), too, but I advise you against those.

* Try to get cake flour to get softer texture. However, I have used plain flour and it works fine.

*If you want to use fresh pandan leaves to make the juice, feel free to ask. I’ll update the recipe.



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Apples in autumn

>> Saturday, June 20, 2009

Apple chips

Sydney weather has not been so kind of late. Rain has been falling for the past week, and sunshine has become so rare. My mood, too, has not been in its best form. However, I have recovered a bit. Sometimes it takes ages for me to get over one particular ‘issue’ even though the answer might be real simple. Patience is what I am still learning the hard way. But setting aside, I have discovered some really beautiful angles of Sydney in autumn. And trust me, they look particularly beautiful in the rain…


I am enjoying autumn produces a lot these days. Persimmons are real love. And also apples. I am re-discovering the love for them after sampling some gorgeous crunchy ones at the farmers’ market. As I am trying to find nice words to describe the, I stumble into these sentences in a gorgeous cookbook by my favorite chef Skype Gyngell:


A good apple...


Apples are so versatile, I am sure each of you has one or two much loved recipes featuring them as the main ingredient. My current favourite is apple chips. A perfect snack which is particularly nice with a cup of warm tea, a book and some nice music.

There are a lot of apple chip recipes out there and all of them use sugar. Well, personally, I believe that if you are able to get some flavoursome apples, sugar is entirely optional. Baking will only intensify the apple flavours. Cinnamon (or other spices for that matter) is a must though.

I am sending this entry to Weekend Herb Blogging. During my time away from the blog world, it has changed a bit. Kalyn has entrusted Haalo with the event. And our host for this week is Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs). Do go to her blog early next week for the round up.


Apple chips


APPLE CHIPS

Ingredients: apples (unwaxed ones if you can buy them), cinnamon powder

Tool: a mandolin (my cheap plastic one works like a charm)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to the lowest setting.

Put some lemon juice in a bowl of water. We will dip the apple slices in here to avoid discoloration.

Slice the apples thinly using the mandolin. Place them in the lemon water mixture.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pat dry the apple slices and place them onto the baking sheet, avoid overlapping. Sprinkle with cinnamon powder.

Place the baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 1-1.5 hours or until the apple slices are crispy. Transfer the chips onto a cooling rack.




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Happy Hump Day!

>> Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Hump Day!

Today is hump day! Only two more days to the weekend. I will start to include random posts on Hump Day. Anything that inspires me really. Hope that will inspire you as well.:)

The inspiration for this week is fresh persimmon. And you see, not all persommons are alike ;). Sometimes we are just lucky to see something different.

And God created persimmon...

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Wasabi-pea flavoured sushi layer ‘cake’ with salmon, avocado & cucumber

>> Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wasabi-pea flavoured sushi layer ‘cake’ with salmon, avocado & cucumber

When I am sick, I crave for weird stuff. Like right now I want nothing but a bowl of instant Shin Ramen, the spicy type that makes you want to cry! After all I am living with a really cute Korean flatmate who has introduced me all sorts of Korean food and snacks. But only until yesterday I discovered that she had never tried wasabi peas. What?

I actually believe that almost everyone I know has tried wasabi green peas. I happen to know someone who ate wasabi peas religiously during her exam back in her undergraduate years. I remember seeing tones of tins like these in her Melbourne CBD apartment. Literally, tins and tins of wasabi peas. I don't know whether she still likes them, but well, they are great snack. Crunchy and a bit spicy, wasabi peas can be really addictive.

I love wasabi peas, and I also adore sushi and salmon. I also like those flavoured rice balls I used to get from a tiny Japanese cafe in Caulfield, Melbourne. So why don't we have wasabi peas flavoured rice ball? However, there is a technical problem - I don't know how to mould or roll sushi. So I cheat and create a sushi layered cake instead.

The so-called 'cake' is actually nice. I like the crunchiness of the crushed peas in the rice. Making it is such a breeze as well. The only thing you have to cook is the rice (which can be taken care of with a good rice cooker). The 'construction' part is easy as a well. No need for fancy mould or rings. Just use a foam cup (picture shown).

Wasabi-pea flavoured sushi layer ‘cake’ with salmon, avocado & cucumber  - the making

Simplicity it is, good ingredients are essential. Sashimi grade salmon is a must. And venture out to Asian shops (particularly the Korean and Japanese ones) for premium grade sushi rice. This type of rice has firmer and larger grains than the variety found in chain supermarket. For vegetarians, you can top the sushi with marinaded tofu, picked carrots or whatever you fancy.

Here is the instruction for the recipe with the longest name I have ever created!

Wasabi-pea flavoured sushi layer ‘cake’ with salmon, avocado & cucumber

Wasabi-pea flavoured sushi layer ‘cake’ with salmon, avocado & cucumber

I 'eye-ball' while cooking, so please adjust the recipe to your taste. The quantity specified is enough for 4-5 medium sized 'cake' (which can be eaten for lunch). Use smaller foam cup for appetizer.


Ingredients
1+1/2 cup sushi rice, cooked as per packet direction with a pinch of salt and cooled.
1 cup (or more) wasabi peas, crushed
200g sashimi grade salmon, cubed
1 cucumber, cut into cubed
1 small avocado, cut into cubed
1/4 cup Rice wine vinegar, mixed with 2-3 tbp sugar
To serve: Japanese soy sauce, wasabi paste (the real thing ;))
Method
- Mix the cucumber and avocadoes with the rice wine vinegar & sugar mixture. Taste and adjust to achieve sour-sweet balance.
- Mixed crushed wasabi peas with the rice. Taste and adjust!
- Get one foam cup, cut off the bottom and use as a mould. Place the mould onto the serving dish. Press a layer of rice into the mould, followed by cucumber & avocado mixture, then another layer of rice. Top up with salmon pieces. Remove the mould.
- Serve with soy sauce and wasabi paste.
- It is easier to eat this with a fork and a knife. :P

Vegetarian option: replace salmon with marinaded tofu, picked carrot/daikon.

***
I am sending this entry to Monthly Mingle event. This event was created by Meeta from What's for lunch, honey? This month theme is 'rice', hosted by Nags from Edible Garden. Enjoy!

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A Moment in Life #26

>> Friday, June 12, 2009

Wear more sock(s) if you are cold!

It is so cold in Sydney today and I am down with a fever. Need more sock(s) and colors to brighten up my day!

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Wave goodbye … and Say hello!

>> Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Miscalenous things


It has been more than six months since I last updated this blog. So many things have happened since then. Marriage life has been sweet, although Mr B. and I are living in two different cities for a while.

I said goodbye to Melbourne and have started a new “crazy” life in Sydney. Gone are my peaceful university days. Now I face the burden of work and study. No complain now, but well, I do see that time has become more limited these days.

On the bright side, we have settled in a lovely apartment in Sydney. Our first home! The apartment is nearly ready and I will show you around when things are in order. But here is the very first photo – view from our balcony. (Can you spot the Opera House there? All I can see is my work building! :P)



And of course I have started cooking in my new kitchen. Not a lot of exciting stuff since sometimes I just do not bother cooking just for one. But well, the joy of cooking is always there. All I need to do is to find some time to cook (and hoping that there is still enough light to photograph my food!)

So here it is, the first thing I bake in my kitchen. Really simple small pound cakes, which are full of flavours and love. Apples are in season, and I got the really delicious un-waxed ones from the farmers’ market. I also used the maple syrup that a lovely friend from Canada sent over as housewarming gift (Thanks sister Feb!). Adding in some cinnamon, I could sense the fragrance of fall in my very own place.

These cakes are really lovely and a breeze to make. They have the texture of doughnuts so you can roll them in cinnamon sugar mixture. I like them warm with a bit of mascarpone cheese, a drizzle of maple syrup and light dust of cinnamon.


Apple and maple syrup pound cake


Apple and maple syrup pound cake

Recipe from Donna Hay magazine


Ingredients (for 12 generous small size cakes)

375g self-rising flour, sifted

1 tsp ground cinnamon

250g butter, melted

175g brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 eggs

6 red apples, peeled and grated

Mascarpone cheese and extra cinammon powder & maple syrup to serve

Method

Preheat oven to 180C. Place flour and cinammon in a bowl and mix to combine. Add butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, egg and apples - mix well to combine. Spoon to 12 well-greased tins (muffin pan works fine). Bake 20 mins or until cooked though.


Serve warm with cheese, mapple syrup and cinnamon powder.


**


I am still adjusting to the whole blogging thing again after so long! I opened my google reader just now and there are more than 1000+ entries I have not read! I will be going around all my fav blogs to get inspired all over again :D.

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