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Living in the uncool part of town. Recipe: jam-filled muffins

>> Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jam-filled mini muffins


It is not easy to move away from the city. Now I am living far from the city, in an opposite direction of my old shelter in Melbourne. The house is nice, the suburb is, well, different. It has more of a countryside vibe to what I am used to (Especially after a year of living in Sydney CBD).

A thing or two about my new life…

#1 It took me one hour more or less to get to work. That would be ok if I do not have to start that early (like 7.30am). On the first day after the holiday, we tried to drive in and faced a horror called traffic jam. I turned to public transport the next day. At least I can get 45 minutes of beauty sleep in the train. For the record, I always manage to wake up at the right station. Cool or what?

#2 Shopping is such a nightmare in this part of Melbourne. Everything is under construction or “it’s coming”. Sigh. Ironically, even though I see the banner “Goats for sale” and say hello to the cows almost every morning, I have not located a decent farmers’ market close by. In the meantime, Preston market is decent and full of vibrancy.

#3 Well, #2 is not that bad if someone knows how to drive. At this very moment, I am still struggling. Hopefully, all the frustrations will get me working on that. So the first resolution for the New Year is: learning how to drive!



When 2 hours of your daily life are devoted to public transport, the eating habits should also change. For me, breakfast is the most important part of the day. I normally only need some good coffee. At the moment, I love the taste and artistic vibe of C.O.T. Muesli is also nice, and I have a box in the office. And once in a while, I bring one or two homemade muffins to munch on.

These jam-filled muffins are such a breeze to make. Their texture is somewhat close to donut, and any jam can be used here. For the batch in the photos, I used the remainder of my homemade slow-cooked apple and rhubarb jam from last autumn. Speaking of season, I cannot wait for autumn, so come quick!

Jam-filled mini muffins


JAM-FILLED MUFFINS

Recipe via Cook almost anything at least once

150g butter, melted
1½ cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2½ cups self-raising flour, sifted
½ cup caster sugar

A tablespoon or two of your favourite jam

Grease and butter a 12 hole muffin tin (or in this case I used a friand tin).

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

Whisk the milk with the eggs and vanilla paste.

Place sifted flour and caster sugar into a large bowl, stir to mix together. Make a well in the centre of the mix, then pour in the milk mixture and melted butter.

Stir until it's only just combined - you don't want to over-mix it or you'll get hard muffins. If there are some lumps that's fine.

Half fill the holes with muffin mix, then place a spoonful of your favourite jam/jelly in the centre of each muffin. Top with another spoonful of muffin mix.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until they are golden brown.


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Sweet Monday. Weekend Point + Shoot

>> Monday, February 22, 2010

The art of preparation



Sweet Monday. Weekend Point + Shoot

It’s Monday again and I’m racing to finish some more tasks before flying to Sydney for work.

The weekend? Late nights, sleep in and brunch at home. A couple of hours at the gym. Kinda relaxing and ordinary.

Point + Shoot – the weekend – my messy kitchen while I made pancakes for brunch. No photos of final product because sorry, I was hungry. {Pont + Shoot is an idea by this blog. Check out other photos and join us if you want here.}

All the best for the week ahead, guys!




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Poh’s Kitchen Episode 1.Recipe: Orange chiffon cupcakes with orange blossom scented cream

>> Thursday, February 18, 2010

Orange chiffon cupcakes with orange blossom scented cream

Now this is the new idea for my blog. I have felt much uninspired in my cooking adventure. Ya know, laziness is certainly a factor. So, here it is, the new challenge for my new year: I will find a cooking show, old or new, review each episode and cook/bake something out of it.

Sound good? Of course the major requirement is the show is interesting enough to sustain my interests. At the moment, it is Poh’s Kitchen, produced by ABC . Onto the first episode of the show, which premiered last Wednesday. (Scroll down for information on the series and where to watch).




This episode is the opening for a new series, and I think the first 10 minutes or so is a bit forced. Basically, it gives a chance for Poh to talk about her art gallery and connection with food. Sounds like a segment of Master Chef to me. *yawn*

But things get better and Poh is much more alive in the kitchen. She met up with pastry chef Emmanuel Mollois . I adore these two together. Poh was quirky and wild, untamed in her cooking approach whereas Emmanuel was disciplined and very French.



They went for sweet stuff, naturally. Poh put a Western spin on the orange chiffon cake by slicing it in three parts and fattening it up with lots of cream , hazelnuts and chocolate ganache. Emmanuel, on the other hand, turned to a French classic – croissants. Not your normal plain one, but with almond pastry cream (more butter!). If you have to run 30 mins for each plain croissant, I wonder how much harder we have to work out for this version?

Thought on the episode: Poh is lovely. I like her sense and style (her dog is so cute, yes?). The guest chef for this episode is a really good choice, since his sense of humor complements Poh’s style greatly. The editing of the show is not that good but forgivable. All in all, a refreshing cooking show, which brings out the fun of the kitchen.

Recipe: Now, the almond croissants look delicious. I was turned off by the labour intensive work involved though. (Of course, I can just buy ready-made croissants, but I doubt that they will make it to my tummy first before I even reach home). So I chose orange chiffon instead.

Chiffon cake is no stranger for some of us. It is so popular in Asia, especially the green pandan one. Having packed my chiffon pan somewhere, I decided to bake chiffon cake in a form of cupcakes, and filled them with orange blossom scented cream. The inspiration is from Hokkaido chiffon cakes, which were very popular among Asian bakers last year, especially those from Taiwan. They are best served chilled. Excellent on those hot summer days (or anytime, actually).

Recipe note: Use the brown paper cups if possible since they “hold” the cake batter. Remember to bake the cupcakes in a slow oven, so they will not collapse so much after cooling down.

Orange chiffon cupcakes with orange blossom scented cream

Orange chiffon cupcakes with orange blossom scented cream

Ingredients
Mixture A
5 egg whites (at room temperature is best)
75g caster sugar
Mixture B
5 egg yolks
7 tbs coconut milk
5 tbs vegetable oil
75g caster sugar
5 tbs orange juice
1 tbs orange zest
150g self raising flour, sifted
Mixture C
150ml full cream
2-3 tbp castor sugar
1 tsp orange blossom water

Method
Preheat oven to 150C (not fan-forced).

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer till soft peaks. Add sugar one tablespoon at a time a beat thoroughly. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks with caster sugar till fluffy. Add coconut milk, vegetable oil, orange juice, zest and self raising flour and whisk until combined. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture 3 batches.

Pour into cupcake cases (see recipe note). Bake 30-35 mins @ 150C. Test if the cake is done, then cool completely.

Beat cream with sugar and orange blossomwater until soft peaks. Put cream into a piping bag. Use a small knife, cut a cross through the centre of each cupcake, and fill with cream.
The cupcakes are best served chilled.

Verdict: I love the concept of the cream-filled cupcakes. Love the filling. The cake does not collapse, so it’s nice. I am not a big fan of Poh’s chiffon batter, it feels heavier than the normal one I bake before. But it holds up batter in cupcake form, and tastes nice, so I won’t complain much.

Where to watch Poh's kitchen?

~ In Australia: ABC1, 6.30pm every Wednesday.
~ Streaming: the two latest episodes are available here. I am one episode behind on recap, but good things take time! :)



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Are you watching this? Poh’s kitchen is on tonight!

>> Wednesday, February 10, 2010


For your information (if you are not in Oz land, that is), Poh Ling Yeow was the runner up of last year hugely popular reality cooking show, Master Chef. She will return on Australian TV for a cooking show, where she travels around the country and tries out different recipes.

Some people find cooking quite stressful and a boring chore to be avoided at all
costs - Poh is not one of those people! For Poh, cooking is all about nurturing
and sharing, and she loves inviting new friends into her kitchen to play,
experiment and help her refine her unique cooking style. An artist by trade, Poh
is only a recent convert to cooking but she’s taken to it like a duck to water,
using her great natural aptitude and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
Quote from ABC online

First confession. I did not watch Master Chef attentively last year. A certain judge annoyed me to no end (I did not expect to see him everywhere after the show, even in real life at the airport!). But I did watch bits and pieces, and the person that stands out for me (in terms of her “playfulness” with food) is defenitely Poh.

Second confession. I think Poh will bring a sexy sophisticated female touch to Australian food shows. It is about time, really. I absolutely adore Maggie Beer, have a half interest in Kylie Wong and do not care much about other Australian TV female chefs/cook. Poh always looks adorable, fashionable and very sexy. A beautiful lady with an attitude to food and cooking. Now, let’s pray that she also has a good TV personality to complete the package.

The question is, what to expect? Frankly, I am not sure. The show has been marketed to be thrilling, with lots excitements as Poh experiments different recipes and cooking methods. But, Poh is no Heston Blumenthal with his quest for perfection which I find interesting. Jamie’s America is ok to watch, although I do fall asleep here or there. My big question at the moment is whether the show producers can capture and show the excitement of cooking to us audience. Without a particular theme (at the moment) or a competitive premise, this is not an easy task.

Having said that, I love “The cook and the chef”, which Poh’s kitchen is replacing. However, “the cook and the chef” has a clearer theme. And to be frank, Maggie and Simon’s down to Earth personalities and non-pretentious cooking are such a pleasure to watch.

So Poh, bring it on!

Poh’s kitchen is on ABC1 at 6.30pm Wed.

(I won’t reach home at that time due to work. But I will stream the show later).




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Remembering the time – Lemon Melting Moments {Pictorial}

>> Monday, February 08, 2010



It has been ages!! And my life has changed quite considerably. I have a lot to say and to share. But first, I need to patiently find my inspiration for baking, cooking and photography. It does not come as easily as I thought.

About me so far? I am fine, still well-fed. My new place is still in a big mess with tons of unopened boxes. Just a few days back, we received our small bar fridge, which we forgot to pack and send down to Melbourne …

No, you did not read it wrong. We literally left our mom’s fridge back in the Sydney apartment. Thanks God after recovering from the initial shock and (ok, quite a lot of) embarrassment, the removing company helped to return the fridge to its owner. Now it is sitting in the lounge area, waiting to be used.

The good news? I had a walk-in wardrobe and walk-in kitchen pantry. I can tell you, these are the best!! Ok, the walk-in pantry is actually a small study room, which mr. B. has been kind enough to “sacrifice”. Finally, I seem to find a solution for my huge amount of kitchen items.

Still, I wonder in which box my Kitchen Aid is???

I have started to cook in my new kitchen. Quite comfortably, except I nearly burnt my Vietnamese baguettes the other day (I’ll re-do the recipe and post it some time soon). A new year surely brings a lot of new inspirations and resolutions. I have a new vision for this blog. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I do something.

Back to the title of this post – remembering the time. Yeap, I made these lemon melting moments with my sister last year, in Sydney. Such period seems so far away now. Yet, the memories of the baking session always bring certain joy. This is one of my favorite recipe, a keeper, something I will make over and over again, regardless of where I live.

Lemon Melting Moments

A baking session with my sister, Mai Mu. :) I was the photographer and essentially the Kitchen Nazi here.

Ingredients (for 20 cookies, with filling)

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
60g icing sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
40g corn flour
210g plain flour
Zest from one lemon (organic preferred)

Filling
150g icing sugar
45g bơ, at room temperature
3 teaspoon lemon juice

Method
Preheat your oven to 150C. Line the baking trays with baking paper.

To make the cookies: beat the butter, sugar and salt until light and creamy.

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Add in lemon zest

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Sift plain flour and corn flour into the butter mixture. Using your hand mixer, mix everything together at low speed.

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Divide the dough into 30-40 pieces and place them onto the baking tray.

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Using your folk, push down gently to flatten the cookies and leave a lovely imprint.

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Bake for 20 mins. Cool thoroughly.

The filling: Beat butter, sugar and lemon juice until creamy.

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When the cookies are cool, using your spoon, spreadsome filling onto one, joined by another one.
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These delicious cookies can be kept for 2-3 weeks in air-tight container.


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