Friday, April 29, 2011

My Hong Kong & Shenzhen Food Trail (Part 2)

Day 2: Breakfast at 翠华餐厅


Dining at a Hong Kong-style cafeteria (茶餐厅) is a must-do item when you are in Hong Kong.  There are so many cafeterias with their wide variety of dishes and beverages that you will be spoiled for choice.  For our Day 2 breakfast, we went to 翠华餐厅 (Parkes Street outlet), which is just a 5-minute walk from where we stayed.  There are many other 翠华 outlets in Hong Kong.  The restaurant is famous for its 奶油猪仔包 (baguette toast) and  鱼蛋粉 (fish ball noodle soup).  The top left picture is fish paste in bean curd puff with thick bee hoon in a rich and flavourful fish soup (鱼腐米线).  The fish paste is made from 鳞鱼, a specialty in Shunde (顺德), a city in the Guangdong province.  鳞鱼 is a popular item in Hong Kong and mainly used in dishes such as 鳞鱼球粥,炸鳞鱼球, 蒸鳞鱼生菜 etc.  Our local Crystal Jade restaurants used to have 鳞鱼球粥 in their menu or upon request.  But now, they seem to have taken this out (sigh...).  

Spent: Breakfast sets around HK$25 to HK$29 each.  

Recommended:  Try their  fish ball, fish paste soup - REALLY GOOD with homemade taste.  We did not order the  奶油猪仔包, but it looks very tempting (customers at the next table ordered this).  Thumbs up for their coffee - thick and smooth.

Location77-78 Parkes Street, Jordan MTR, Exit A

After breakfast, we were all ready to take the 250 over steps up the wisdom path to where the Big Buddha (天坛大佛) is seated, at the Lantau Island.

To get there: Take the MTR to Tung Chung Station (Exit B), then take Ngong Ping Cable Car.

While you can also catch a ferry there, the cable car ride offers a spectacular bird's eye view of the Lantau Island.  There are two types of cable car - standard or crystal cabin.  The crystal cabin is equipped with a glass bottom, so you literally have the mountain and sea underneath your feet.  You can also take a 3.5 hours guided tour of Lantau Island by Ngong Ping 360, which covers a few places of attractions on the island.   This is quite a good deal if you have half a day to spend at Lantau Island.

The Big Buddha statue looks magnificent and you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you reached to the top (catch your breath and remember to enjoy the scenic view from atop!).  To reward ourselves for the vertical marathon that we have just completed, we tried the famous 山水豆腐花 (bean curd jelly)  at one of the shops just below the Big Buddha.

滑溜溜的豆腐花+ 香浓姜汁糖浆

Day 2: Lunch at 镛记酒家
Our next stop:  To search for the famous 飞天烧鹅 (loosely translated as "the roast goose that fly").  Not just fly, but fly across to countries all over the world!  

镛记超名气烧鹅,生鱼片炒芥兰, 皮蛋酸姜,猪扎蹄, 香炸豆腐

Mention roast goose, most people will think of Yung Kee Restaurant.  It has been four years since I last went to Yung Kee.  I had a great dining experience then.  The roast goose was fantastic - the skin was crispy and the meat was tender.  So this time, with my mum and MIL together on this trip, I went back to this voted No. 12 of the Asia's Top 20 finest restaurant by the Miele Guide 2010.  The century egg is still nice with a soft centre, served with slices of preserved ginger.  However, the rest of the dishes were a great disappointment.  While the flavorings of the roast goose was good,  the meat was too tough (must be an old goose)!  The other dishes were either too bland (the fried tofu) or too tough to chew (the fish slices).  The pig trotter slices is supposed to be an award-winning dish, but I do not find it tasty at all.  We also had a fish maw chicken soup.... errmmm... but hardly see any fish maw in it  :(

Spent: The bill was around HK$600 (Half a roast goose costs HK$250).

Recommended:  There are far better roast goose at better price elsewhere.  Can skip this place.  

Location: 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong (Central MTR, Exit D2)

Back to Jordan station with a less than satisfying lunch, we took the Exit D and headed towards Tsim Sha Tsui, along Nathan Road.  After five minutes of walking, we detected a nice aroma of baked biscuit.  We followed our nose and found the popular Hong Kong's street snack - 鸡蛋仔:

One serving of 鸡蛋仔 for HK$15 - crispy on the outside and resembles a bunch of grapes

Next, we made a U-turn, crossed Nathan Road and took a left turn towards Parkes Street.  This street is lined with many fantastic eateries worth visiting.  Before this Hong Kong trip, I read good reviews about this Australia Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司), famed for its steamed milk pudding and scrambled egg with toast.  

杏汁炖蛋,蛋白炖鲜奶 (HK$22 each)

I saw online pictures of long queues forming outside the shop.  Luckily, we waited for only 5 minutes to get into the shop.  Funny enough, there was not a table for five of us.  Instead, the waiter showed us to a table with four diners (who had finished or were about to finish their food) and an empty seat.  We felt rather embarrassed as it was very obvious that the waiter was chasing people to leave once they had finished their food.  No slow-munching or chit-chatting is allowed here.  Order, eat and leave is their motto.  

As for the steamed milk pudding, the texture is like soft jelly, quite smooth with a pleasant taste.  But I prefer the earlier bean curd jelly over at Lantau Island as the texture and taste is better.  Overall, I can't see why the raves over this cramped little shop.  Perhaps is another miracle created by the can-do will-do Hongkongers or another "must-see, must-try" itinerary for the tourists.


Directions: Jordan MTR, Exit D: 鸡蛋仔 and Exit C2 for Australia Dairy Co

I Can Sing A Rainbow -  A Symphony Concert For Kids
Our initial plan is to catch Jacky Cheung's concert at Hung Hom on Easter Friday.  Too bad, tickets fully sold out for all possible days that we were in Hong Kong.  Plan B - enjoy the breeze and scenic night view in front of the Hong Kong Harbour Front, before "catching a rainbow" at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall:

Professional symphony orchestra with a light-hearted setting

Day 2: Supper at 糖朝

After concert, we crossed Salisbury Road and strolled along Canton Road towards "The Sweet Dynasty".  I like the name as it is very eye-catching and easy to remember.  糖朝 has a nice decor right from the entrance to the interior of the restaurant.


Besides having a wide variety of desserts, it has various types of porridge, noodles and dishes in its menu.  We ordered porridge, noodles and two desserts (I could have just eat their desserts alone for main course!).  Nothing fantastic or close to Hong Kong's standard for their porridge and noodles, yet it costs us double the usual prices at other HK cafes!  Bad choice!  We should have taken a light dinner at one of the nearby cafes first, before hopping over for its desserts.  Thumbs up for the rich walnut cream with silky smooth bean curd jelly.  I think I can easily finish two bowls of this!  However, the mango sago with pomelo failed terribly.  The mango puree is too diluted (my mum and MIL prefer their mango sago at 满记, another popular dessert chain in Hong Kong).

Spent:  About HK$300 for dinner and desserts.

Recommended:  Jelly bean curd.  Great place for desserts and chit-chatting before or after shopping.

Location100 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR, Exit A1)

Coming up next ....  

Day 3 Food Trail

Breakfast at 美心皇宫酒家 (沙田)
Claypot Teochew Porridge at 深运潮洲粥 (深圳)
Sichuan Dinner at 俏江南 (深圳)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Hong Kong & Shenzhen Food Trail (Part 1)

Day 1: Breakfast at 得如茶楼饼家

皮蛋瘦肉粥,叉烧肠粉,韭菜猪红, 烧卖,虾饺,牛肉球,凤爪

This is a typical old-time neighbourhood dim sum restaurant.  The place looks old and run-down, but it was very crowded when we were there around 8.30 am on Thursday.  We shared a table with a middle-aged man, who was reading papers and sipping tea after his breakfast (it is a norm to share table  in Hong Kong).  The food was generally ok (similar to our Crystal Jade), but you must be prepared for the very little or no service from this restaurant.   The best item is the garlic chives with pig's blood (韭菜猪红).  This dish is practically "lost" in Singapore as pig's blood is no longer available in our local market.  

Spent:  About HK$120, including tea for 4 pax.

Recommended: Garlic chives with pig's blood (韭菜猪红)

Location: 378 Shanghai Street, 2nd floor, Yau Ma Tei MTR (Exit A1)

After breakfast, we went to the Wong Tai Sin Temple (黄大仙祠) - take MTR to Wong Tai Sin station.

Day 1: Lunch at 池记


Located on the 4th floor of Langham Place Shopping Mall, Mongkok, this restaurant offers value for money set lunches with a clean and nice ambience.  Choose your main course (porridge, noodle or rice) from the A, B, C or D menu + dessert, blanched vegetable or a snack (from HK$49 to HK$72).  Top up HK$3 for a glass of homemade barley or soya bean milk (usual price: HK$14) when you ordered a set lunch.  We ordered two set lunches - braised pork knuckle set and braised pork soft bone set; and a bowl of porridge.  Both set lunches were served with steamed rice with chopped vegetable/ham.  The pork knuckles and soft pork literally melts in your mouth and radish is full of flavours from the rich gravy.  The homemade barley drink was very good with a refreshing hint of orange peel (橙皮).  The only disappointing dish was the deep fried prawn roll in beancurd sheet, which was super tough to chew (this was the snack item, should have ordered the soy braised chicken wings instead).  

Spent: About HK$160, including tea for 4 pax.

Recommended:  Braised pork soft bones with radish (猪软骨焖萝卜), steamed rice with chopped vegetables/ham (菜饭), barley drink.

LocationHong Kong Langham Place Shopping Mall, 4th Floor, Mongkok MTR (Exit C3)

After lunch, we crossed over to the other side of Nathan Road and took a stroll down Tung Choi Street (女人街).  We stopped by at the cross junction of Nelson Street and Tung Choi Street, to savour the traditional herbal dessert - Chinese herbal jelly (龟苓膏) at 恭和堂:

We went back to our hotel for a short rest, and thereafter, I took a stroll along Nathan Road, starting from Jordan towards Yau Ma Tei.  Along the way, I stopped by a dessert shop (near Temple street) and have my favorite dessert:


Then, it was shopping at a local bake ware supplies shop,  二德惠 (Twinsco), near to Yau Ma Tei MTR.  In fact, this shop was just diagonally across the restaurant where I had breakfast in the morning.  After shopping, I crossed the street (Shanghai Street) to a small confectionery shop (besides 7-eleven) that sells bread and  freshly baked egg tarts.  The egg tart has a flaky skin with a soft and smooth custard filling, and not too sweet.  The best thing is - it costs only HK$30 (S$0.50) a piece!  I forgot to take a picture of the egg tart, but this is really one good find in Hong Kong.

Day 1: Dinner at 稻香超級漁港 (佐敦)


We had our dinner rather late at around 9.30pm.  Not wanting to travel too far away,  we decided to try this restaurant,  稻香超级渔港, which is just two streets away from my hotel.  哎呀.... just after we placed orders for our food, I looked around and realised that we should have tried their steamboat instead, as many diners were having steamboat and the spread looks good! 

Spent: About HK$280 for 5 pax, including tea and a stir-fry vegetable dish (not in above picture)

Recommended:  Try the steamboat.

Location: 378 Nathan Road, 2nd Floor (Nathan Hotel), Jordan MTR (Exit B1)

Coming up next .....

Breakfast at 翠华餐厅
Smooth as silk 山水豆腐花 at Lantau Island
Roast goose lunch at 镛记酒家
Local snack: 北角鸡蛋仔
杏汁炖蛋 at Australia Dairy Company
Supper at 糖朝 (The Sweet Dynasty)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shopping Spree at Hong Kong

Back from Hong Kong.  No shoes, bags or clothes for me.  Instead, I brought back these:

Loots from Hong Kong

It was a super fast shopping trip.  I think I'm done with my shopping within an hour!  Thanks to Cathy for listing down her finds on baking supplies shops in Hong Kong.  I zoomed in on 二德惠 (Twinsco) that's conveniently located in Kowloon, 5 minutes walk from yau ma tei MTR (油麻地) - Exit A1.  This baking supplies shop is similar to our local Phoon Huat, small and compact in size.  But, it was super crowded!  There were many shoppers, even at 4 plus on a weekday afternoon!  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lemon Curd Soft Cheesecake

Cotton soft cheesecake with a tangy topping

Soft and delicious cheesecake that melts in your mouth with a sweet, tangy lemon citrus finish.  This is similar to my earlier Nutella Cheesecake, except that I replace the Nutella cocoa mixture with lemon curd.  The cottony soft texture is credited to the same method for making chiffon cake.  Compare to making chiffon cake, I find this is easier to handle with a higher success rate.

(makes an 8" round cake)


160g cream cheese
90ml milk
60g unsalted butter

50g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
30g corn flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon curd
Zest from half a lemon

4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
50g caster sugar

1) Place  ingredients (A) in a bowl and place over a small pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat.

2) Beat egg yolks and sugar (from B) till pale and creamy.  Mix in corn flour, vanilla extract, lemon juice, zest and lemon curd.  Mix well to ensure no lumps, pour in ingredients A (from Step 1) and mix well to combine.
3) In another clean bowl, whisk egg whites and salt till foamy.  Add cream of tartar and gradually add in the  50g sugar.  Continue to whisk at high speed till soft peak, then whisk at low speed for 2 minutes.
4) Mix 1/3 of the egg whites into the cheese mixture.  Then, pour the cheese mixture into the remaining egg whites and fold till well incorporated (similar to making chiffon cake).
5) Pour batter into an 8" round loose bottom cake pan (see notes below).
6) Bake in preheated oven at 140C for 30 minutes (need to cover with foil after 15 minutes to prevent top from burning).  Reduce oven temperature to 120C and bake for another 30 minutes.   Leave to cool in oven with door ajar for 20 minutes, before transferring to rack to cool completely (see notes below).
7) Gently pour a thin layer of lemon curd on top and chill in fridge for at least 3 hours before serving. 

1)  If you want a nice and tall cheesecake, you need to line the sides of the cake pan with baking paper (extend higher than the cake pan by 2 inches).  This allows the cake to expand and rise properly.  I omit the side lining and just fill the cake pan to 3/4 full and use the remaining batter to make another small cheesecake.  I did not grease the cake pan either, as after cooling, the cheesecake will shrink a little and it will detach from the cake pan easily.  I only lined the bottom of the cake pan (just in case it sticks).  

2) This cake needs to be bake in a hot water bath (i.e. wrap the cake pan with foil, then place into a bigger pan/tray filled with hot water and bake in oven).  My oven is too small to accommodate a big tray, plus I do not want to risk water seepage into the cheesecake.  Simple solution:  Fill a few aluminium foil muffin cups or ramekins with warm water and place them at the bottom of the oven.   They provide the necessary sauna for the cheesecake.  I have been using this method all along and it works well.

Lemon curd topping
2 egg yolks
100g sugar
60ml to 80ml lemon juice* (depends on how tangy you want)
1 lemon zest (grated)
1 tbsp butter, thaw to room temperature

* I run out of lemon, so mixed in some lime juice.

Mix all ingredients, except butter & zest.  Simmer over double-boiler (ie over a pot of simmering water) until mixture thickens slightly (about 5 mins, stir throughout).  Then, strain it through a sieve.  Stir in the butter and lemon zest.  Return to double-boiler for another 2 to 3 minutes till mixture thickens (note: the curd will thicken further upon cooling).

If not using the lemon curd immediately, need to cover with plastic wrap to prevent a layer of skin forming on top.  Keeps well in fridge for 2 to 3 days.  

Plain lemon cheesecake without the lemon curd topping

I will be submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #6: Say Cheese! (April 2011), hosted by  Jean of Need More Noms.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend meal: Fun to make, Good to Eat!

Stock-take and clearance again .... hee... I mean clearing my fridge.  Let me see .... some leftover romaine lettuce,  a small turnip, two to three carrots (amazing ... I started with 1.5kg last week), half a packet of breech mushrooms, a bamboo shoot, a small chunk of  pumpkin, two tomatoes, three avocado.  Not much left in the freezer, except for some frozen food.  I've got an idea ... it's weekend, we will make something fun to eat and at the same time, clear some veggies off the fridge!

My simplified popiah with crepe. 

My little girl had some fun time wrapping her popiah and eating it.  This is really a good way to encourage little children to eat their veggies.

DIY popiah - it is fun to make and good to eat!

Popiah fillings:
Carrots, turnips, bamboo shoots* - all finely shredded
Some breech mushrooms (Chinese mushroom will be tastier)
Handful of dried prawns - soaked and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 to 5 shallots, sliced
1 small piece of ginger, sliced

* I used those vacuum-packed, pre-cooked bamboo shoots.

1) Heat up some oil and fry the shallots till light golden brown.  Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
2) Use about 3 tbsp oil from frying the shallot, add ginger and garlic.  Add the chopped dried prawns and stir fry till fragrant.
3) Add the carrots, turnips, breech mushrooms and stir well to combine.  Season with some oyster sauce and add water to cover the content plus a cup more.  Transfer content to pot or casserole and simmer over low heat for an hour.
4) Stir in the bamboo shoots and half the fried shallot.  Add salt to taste.  Simmer for another half an hour.
5) Garnish with some chopped spring onion and fried shallots.

Prepare toppings:
I prepared some romaine lettuce, shredded egg, shredded imitation crabsticks, shredded seaweed, spring onion, minced garlic, chili and black sauce for the popiah toppings.  You can prepare any toppings to suit your preference, such as fried bean curd, blanched bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, Chinese wax sausages etc.

Piping hot porridge from leftover popiah fillings

We finished our crepes and had some leftover popiah fillings and the rich gravy.  I moved the casserole to the stove, add some water and bring it to boil.  Add some chopped pumpkin, a bowl of leftover cooked rice and let it bubble away while I cleared the table.  Stir in a beaten egg at the end and garnish with some shredded romaine lettuce and seaweed.  Simple, yet satisfying!

Braised Beef Ribs

Other than cooking 3-plus-1 or 2-plus-1 fares, I find preparing one-dish meal fast & easy (generally).  This is the first of my one-dish meals:

Bought some chunky beef ribs and cooked beef stew with carrot and radish.  Same method as previous beef stew.  Add some blanched vegetables for a healthier meal.

Friday, April 15, 2011

玩一下文字游戏的 Chiffon Cake

What do you call a chiffon cake in Mandarin: Is it 威风蛋糕 or 戚风蛋糕?

This is not a question lifted from our primary school examination papers nor is it a quiz taken from 《华文?谁怕谁》.  The characters 威 and 戚 looks quite alike to me and interestingly, I found both terms used on the internet.  So, should it be 威风 (wēifēng) 蛋糕 - 那高高蓬松的海绵蛋糕,让你吃了感觉格外神气"威风"?Or should it be 戚风 (qī fēng) 蛋糕, literally translated from the word "chiffon"?  

Take a break, relax your mind with the recipe first ...

Pandan Chiffon vs Banana Chiffon

Pandan Chiffon Cake - 21cm chiffon pan
(adapted from kitchen tigress, source: kiamnianwong's recipe)

7 to 8 pandan leaves
120ml fresh coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pandan paste
25ml vegetable oil
4 egg yolks* (about 55g)  
45g sugar
50 g cake flour + 50g top flour + 1 tsp baking powder (sift together)

5 egg whites* (about 172g)
½ tsp cream of tartar
45 g sugar

* I used NTUC pasar eggs - 55g net weight each

1) After rinsing the pandan leaves, microwave it for 10 seconds on high.  Cut into small pieces and blend it together with the coconut milk.  Add one tbsp water if the mixture is too dry to blend.  Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes and sieve (and press) to obtain about 120ml pandan coconut milk mixture.  Mix in salt, pandan paste and oil.  Set aside.

2) Whisk egg yolks and sugar till pale, thick and creamy.  Pour in the mixture from step 1 and mix well.  Sift in the flour mixture and mix well till smooth.

3) Whisk egg whites till foamy on medium speed.  Add in the cream of tartar, followed by sugar and whisk on high speed till peak (some recipes called for stiff peak egg whites, but I prefer the whites to be just before stiff peak, for easier mixing with the egg yolk mixture), continue to whisk for another 2 minutes on medium-low speed.

4) Take 1/3 egg whites and mix with the yolk mixture.  Pour this mixture into the remaining egg whites and carefully fold to combine the mixture together.

5) Bang the mixing bowl against the counter-top (laid with kitchen cloth) a few times to release air bubbles in the batter.  Slowly and carefully pour the batter into a 21cm chiffon pan and run a chopstick round the side of pan to remove trapped air bubbles in the batter.  Level the top with a spatula.

6) Bake the chiffon at the lowest rack of a preheated oven at 175C.  When the cake rise almost to the top of pan and starts to brown - about 10 minutes into baking (and before it starts to crack), quickly place a piece of foil over the chiffon to block off heat from top.  Continue to bake for another 25 to 30 minutes.  

7) Remove the cake from oven, invert over to cool on rack for an hour.

For Banana Chiffon Cake:
Same method and recipe, except to:
@ Replace pandan coconut milk mixture with 160g mashed banana (about 2 large banana) and 50ml oil.
@ Replace pandan paste with 1 tsp vanilla essence

Now back to my question at the beginning.  Is it 威风蛋糕 or 戚风蛋糕?  I think 戚风蛋糕 should be the correct translation (I may be wrong).  But one thing for sure, it is not 咸风蛋糕 ^_^ What do you think?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2 plus 1 menu: My Favorite Soup

Home-cooked meal for less than $10!

Tonight's menu (serves 3 to 4):
Fong's Favorite ABC Soup (马铃薯蕃茄红萝卜煲鸡汤) - S$4.00
Corn Fritters with Avocado Dip (黄金玉米片) - S$3.00
Broccoli with Egg Whites in Milk Broth (奶汁蛋白西兰花) - S$2.00

Total: S$9.00

I am sharing this dinner menu at "$20 Budget Meal April", a blog event organised by Cuisine Paradise. 

For more of my 3-plus-1 or 2-plus-1 menus, check out the page here. 

Ingredients: Corn, carrots, potato, onion, tomato, chicken bones & meat, few red dates (not in pic)

ABC Soup - 马铃薯蕃茄红萝卜煲鸡汤
This has been my favorite soup since childhood.  I usually use bones from one chicken plus the breast meat to cook this soup.  To make the soup even tastier, you can either add a few pieces of dried scallops (瑶柱) or you can add a thumb-size piece of preserved vegetable (大头菜) - available from dried-goods provision stalls.  Prices of dried scallops has been shooting rocket high - a 50 cent sized piece of dried scallop is about S$180 to S$200 for a kilo (it was about S$140 to S$160 last year).  For everyday food, I just used a small piece of 大头菜.

To cook:
1) Blanch chicken bone + meat in hot water and set aside.
2) Cut all vegetables into big chunks.
3) Bring a pot of water (about 1.8 litres) to boil and add in all the ingredients, except for tomato.  Cover and simmer over low heat for an hour and a half.
4) Add tomato and simmer for a further 30 minutes.  Add salt to taste (if necessary).

Approximate costs
Chicken bones/breast meat ($2.00) + corn/carrot/onion/tomato/red dates ($2.00) = $4.00

Cost saving tips: 
1) I usually buy a whole kampong chicken from supermarket.  Wash and separate into various portions: bones for soup, wings/thigh/drum for dish, breast meat for stir-fry, make into meatball or for soup.
2) For this menu, I briefly simmer the corn for 15 minutes (in step 3). Remove, let it cool for preparing another dish - corn fritters (see below).


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato & Herbs Focaccia

My house smells like a Italian kitchen!  I was baking this yesterday and my kitchen was filled with the wonderful aroma of rosemary, basil, thyme, olive oil and garlic ......

This is a relatively easy recipe to follow and uses mashed potato and bread flour for the dough.  Probably due to the present of mashed potato, the focaccia is very soft and airy.

Recipe (mainly from Janine's Not the Kitchen Sink)

1 potato, about 150g (boiled or microwave till soft,  mashed)
180g bread flour
1/2 tsp dried yeast
60ml warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Herbs mixture:
2 to 3 tbsp olive oil, warm up slightly
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp salt (preferably sea salt, I just used kitchen salt)
1 heap tbsp mixed dried herbs
2 pieces sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1) Mash the potato, let it cool.  Set aside.
2) Dough starter - combine yeast, warm water and 50g bread flour.  Set aside for 10 minutes.
3) Combine & mix well the remaining flour, salt, mashed potato with the starter (from step 2).  Add in the olive oil and knead till a soft dough is obtained.  This dough is very wet and sticky, so I used my stand-mixer to do the kneading for about 8 minutes.
4) Round the dough and let it proof in a well-greased bowl for 60 minutes, or till doubled in size.
5) While the dough is proofing, prepare the herbs mixture by mixing all the ingredients together.  Set aside.
6) Oil your palms and deflate the dough.  Gently press and spread the dough thinly (about 1 cm thick) on a well-greased pan (I used a pizza pan).
7) Spread the herbs mixture evenly over the dough (I have leftover herbs mixture) and dimple the dough with your fingertips.  Let the dough proof for another 40 to 50 minutes (I left it in the oven to proof).
8) Remove the dough from the oven.  Preheat the oven to 220C and bake the focaccia for 15 to 20 minutes till golden brown.  Cover the focaccia with a foil, half way into baking to prevent over-browning on top.
9) Remove and cool on rack.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2 plus 1 menu: 怀念的台湾味道

Taiwan is famous for her bustling night markets and the wide variety of snacks.  There is one particular dish that I adore, to the extent that I can have it everyday while I was in Taiwan on holiday!  It is not the XXXL deep fried chicken (超大鸡排), although I do miss the charcoal-grilled chicken with its special seasonings.  It is not the warm bowl of vermicelli soup with oysters (蚵仔面线), the cool & refreshing bubble milk tea (珍珠奶茶), the juicy pan-fried steamed bun at shilin night market (士林水煎包 ), the love-it or hate-it fermented fried bean curd (臭豆腐), or the sweet mango shaved ice (芒果冰).  All these are interesting and yummy Taiwan snacks, but I do not go gaga over them.  

Rather, it is this simple dish that wins me over and this is none other than the stewed pork rice (卤肉饭).  The rich gravy and the melt-in-your-mouth stewed pork is simply irresistible!

最佳拍档:卤肉 + 卤蛋 + 卤豆干 + 白饭  = 赞!

I replicate this dish at home, based on my fade memory from watching a Taiwan cooking show, about two years back.  I remembered two VIP INGREDIENTS for making this dish.  One is the deep-fried shallots (油葱酥) and the other is the pork belly (五花肉).  This is certainly not a healthy dish, with all the fats in the pork belly.  But, let's face it, you need these fats for that rich collagen-filled gravy.  If you go for the healthier lean pork, you will get a different texture and flavour altogether.  I tried to strike a balance in terms of health and flavour, so I used part minced pork and part pork belly.  I have also included chopped carrots and a handful of dried shrimps for that added natural sweetness.

Ingredients:  Pork belly, minced pork, shallots, garlic, ginger, mushroom, chili, spices, carrots, dried shrimps

Monday, April 11, 2011

2 plus 1 menu: Simple Light Menu

From left: Seaweed Egg Roll, Chinese Yam & White Fungus Soup, Steamed Fish w/ Tomato

2 plus 1 Menu:
(serves 3)

Chinese Yam & White Fungus Soup (淮山雪耳瘦肉汤) - $5.00
Seaweed Egg Roll (紫菜腐竹鸡蛋卷) - $3.50
Steamed Fish with Tomato & Salted Vegetables (蕃茄咸菜蒸鱼尾) - $4.50

Total: $13.00

I will be sharing this menu idea to "$20 Budget Meal" (April), hosted by Ellena of Cuisine Paradise.

For more of my 3-plus-1 or 2-plus-1 menus, check out the page here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Results for {Giveaway}

My giveaway - a basic cookie starter kit!

A BIG thank you for all readers who have spent time reading what's cooking/baking in my kitchen and participating in my simple giveaway.

Yes, I have an owner for this set of cookie cutters and I am pleased to announce - Eileen, you are the one!

Research Randomizer Results
1 Set of 1 Unique Numbers Per Set
Range: From
 1 to 15 -- Unsorted
Top of Form
Job Status: 
Bottom of Form

Set #1:

Congratulations to you, Eileen!  Hope you will have lots of fun creating yummy cookies with this set of cookie cutters.  I will be contacting you via email for the postal details.
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