Sunday, September 30, 2012

Love at First Bite: Shanghai Mooncake

After making my traditional baked mooncakes and snowskin mooncakes, this is my final batch of mooncake for this year - the Shanghai Mooncake.

Compared to traditional mooncake which requires longer preparation and wait time, Shanghai mooncake can be prepared within an hour or two.  So if you have not made any mooncakes for today's Mid-Autumn Festival, there's still time to do so!  The pastry dough is very manageable and does not stick to your hands.  No special mould or tools required.  Just dust your hands lightly with flour, flatten the dough slightly and wrap the filling.  It's really easy.  And the best part I feel:  Shanghai mooncake tastes better, with a good balance of pastry crust, sweet lotus paste and the salted egg yolk.  If you have never tried this mooncake, I will highly recommend you to give this a try.

Many thanks to 鲸鱼 for sharing this wonderful recipe (muak muak muak and hugs).  Her original recipe is much simpler and straightforward.  But as I do not have enough low-protein flour (ie top flour) at home, I made some adjustment to it.  I have also replaced half the Planta margarine with butter.  Next time, I shall try with all butter.  The cheese powder is an important ingredient in this recipe.  It adds a slight salty taste to the mooncake (to balance up the sweetness of the lotus paste) and a wonderful aroma, without the strong cheese smell or taste.   

(makes 12 mooncakes)

90g Planta
90g butter (add 1/4 tsp salt if using unsalted butter)
60g sugar
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp cheese powder
100g top flour
140g plain flour
40g custard powder
12 salted egg yolks
35g x 12 lotus paste

[Note: Dough: 45g  ; Filling: 35g lotus paste + 1 salted egg yolk]

1) Cream Planta, butter and sugar till creamy and white.  Add in milk and cream well to combine.
2) Sift top flour, plain flour and custard powder together.  Mix in cheese powder.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture to form a dough.  Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, rinse salted egg yolks to remove traces of egg whites.  Add a few drops of sesame oil to the egg yolks and bake in oven at 160C for about 8 minutes.  Remove and let it cool.
4) Wrap each salted egg with 35g lotus paste and roll it into an oval shape.  Set aside.
5) Divide the dough into 12 portions and wrap each lotus filling with the dough.
6) Bake in preheated oven of 180C for about 10 minutes.  Remove and apply egg wash.  Sprinkle top with sesame seeds.  Bake again for another 20 minutes or till light golden brown.

[Source: Adapted from 鲸鱼蓝蓝蓝]

4 mooncakes fit perfectly in this festive red plastic container

Wishing all a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, 中秋节快乐。

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stir Fry Sweet Leaf with Eggs

Here I have, the most talk-about and featured dish for this month's Malaysian Food Fest.    Sweet leaf or mani cai (马尼菜)is a totally new vegetable to me.  I have not tried this vegetable before, or perhaps taken it without knowing, as I read that sweet leaf is commonly added to ban mian (板面), a popular handmade noodle, served in soup.  Initially, I thought it was wolfberry leaves (枸杞菜), which has bigger leaves and sharp thorns on the stem.  The picture below is the bunch of sweet leaf that I bought from the wet market.

I read from Kelly's post that there is an important step when preparing this vegetable:  Remove the bitter juice from the leaves by adding salt to the leaves, wait for a few minutes, squeeze out the juice, then rinse with water. Too much of these bitter juice is harmful to our body, though I'm not sure how much is considered excessive.  And removing the bitter juice also made the dish tastes better.  Since this is the first time I cooking this vegetable, no harm taking this step.

Preparing the sweet leaf:
Remove the leaves from the stem.  Place your thumb and index finger on the stem, glide down and the leaves will come out easily.  Rinse the leaves.  Rub some salt (I used 1 to 2 tsp) into the vegetables, wait a few minutes, then squeeze out the juice.  Rinse with water thoroughly and squeeze again.

How I prepare this:
Beside the main ingredients, sweet leaf and eggs, I added one salted egg whites (leftover from my mooncake baking...), a little crushed fried shallots and some wolfberries, for colours and added flavour to this dish.  I have also taken an extra step to lightly stir fry the eggs first, dish up before stir-frying the vegetable with garlic.  This adds aroma to the dish.

The taste:
Now, the most important part ... how's the taste?  I do not find any distinct taste from this vegetable.  It does not taste bitter (maybe cos I have squeezed out the bitter juice) nor sweet or any special flavour/fragrance.  If you have tasted other leafy vegetables like cai xin, kailan, baby spinach, shanghai green, etc  you can identify them immediately as they have their unique flavour.   One thing I noticed is the tough texture of the leaves, like chewing paper.  Maybe I have bought the older and tougher leaves?  I kept some leaves to cook soup noodles the next day, as I want to taste the different (if any), if cooked in soup.  Hmmm... it tastes the same in soup.

(serves 2 to 3)

A big bunch of sweet leaf (see above for preparation)
2 eggs, beaten + 1 tbsp fried shallots, crushed
1 salted egg white (add a little to the beaten eggs)
1 tbsp wolfberries, soaked in warm water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
A little soy sauce, to taste (optional, since I have added salted egg whites)

1) Heat up wok and add some oil.  Pour the beaten egg into the wok and use the wok spatula to scramble the eggs immediately.  When the egg turns soft and scrambled, dish it up.

2) Heat up the wok and add some more oil.  Stir fry the chopped garlic and add the sweet leaf.  Stir fry the leaves till soften, then add in the scrambled eggs.   Toss to combine the leaves and eggs (add a little water at the same time for flavours to combine).  Add in the wolfberries and the remaining salted egg whites.  Stir well and  dish up.

3) Garnish with some fried shallots.

I am submitting this dish to Malaysian Food Fest, Sarawak Month hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Colourful Snowskin Mooncake

Strawberry snowskin with cranberry lotus filling

The last time I made snowskin mooncakes was several years back.  Just one attempt and I never make it again till now. No doubt, snowskin mooncake is pretty to look at and allows for more creativity, compared to traditional mooncake.  But taste wise, I prefer traditional mooncake.  Nevertheless, here I am with my colourful snowskin mooncakes:

Colourful snowskin mooncakes

Strawberry Snowskin with Cranberry Lotus Paste
The snowskin is made with homemade strawberry compote.  I soaked some dried cranberries in orange liquer, chopped and combined with lotus paste for the filling.  The sourness from the strawberry compote and cranberries help to balance out the sweetness in the lotus paste.

Honey Citron Snowskin with Red Bean Paste & Melon Seeds
I used a combination of orange zest, orange liquer and Korean citron tea to prepare the snowskin.  Each bite is filled with lovely citrus aroma.  Orange goes well with red bean, so I used red bean paste and melon seeds as the filling.

Green Tea Snowskin with Red Bean Paste & Melon Seeds
I was deciding between green tea or pandan flavour to go with the red bean paste.  At the end, I used green tea baking powder for the snowskin, but I find the flavour is too mild.

Coffee Snowskin with Sea Salt Chocolate Truffle Lotus Paste
I used the popular Vietnam G7 instant coffee powder for the snowskin, with a few drops of coffee emulco to enhance the flavour.    But my chocolate truffles are way too hard.  I wanted to add dairy cream to achieve the soft chocolate texture, but was concerned whether the truffle will stay good for a week in the fridge.  

To make Snowskin Mooncake:
(makes about 9 to 10 mini snowskin)

50g snowskin premix (I get from Phoon Huat)
50g cooked glutinous rice flour (Kou flour)
50g icing sugar
40g shortening (I used Crisco shortening)
70 - 80ml cold water*
Few drops of food colouring (add into the water)

* Depending on the flavour, I replaced part of the water with coffee, green tea, strawberry compote or honey citron.

1) Combine premix, flour, icing sugar and shortening.  Rub shortening into mixture till it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

2) Add water and colouring to the mixture till it form a soft dough.  Let it rest for about 15 minutes.

3) Divide dough and fillings into small parts.  For my mould of 63g capacity, I used about 21g dough to 42g filling.  Flatten dough slightly and wrap the filling with dough.

4) Dust the mooncake with the cooked rice flour and place into mould.  Press to shape the mooncake.

5) Keep in airtight container and keep chill in fridge.

Mooncakes for friends and relatives

1) The snowskin is soft and easy to handle.  It stays soft (does not crack or dries up) when kept in the fridge for several days.

2) I still do not like the taste of snowskin.  But at least adding stronger flavours, like orange zests and strawberry, do help to "cover up" the flour taste.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My First Attempt at Traditional Mooncake

Traditional Mooncake:  Lotus Paste with Single Yolk

For some reason or other, I have never made traditional baked mooncake before.  Somehow, I have no incentives to make these (super) sweet treats.  But since I have started to explore more on baking recently, I thought it is good to learn to make something traditional.

I am glad that my traditional mooncakes turn out well on my first attempt.  This really boosts my confidence to bake more... and more... such that at the end, I have rolled out 20 traditional mooncakes (standard size), 8 mini traditional mooncakes, over 30 snowskin mooncakes and about 20 Shanghai mooncakes!  

When just out from the oven, mooncakes do not have the "shine" factor

Traditional mooncakes need at least 1 to 2 days "resting time" after baking, to develop the flavour and the soft and shiny skin (回油).  So this is not something that you bake at the very last minute.

Notes on Making Traditional Mooncake:

1) No one size fits all 
Mooncake mould comes in different shapes and sizes, so you can't fit the same amount of dough and filling for one mould to another mould.  For my mooncake mould, I used about 42g dough to 130g filling, or roughly 1 part dough to 3 parts filling.  Test on one mooncake first.  Once you are happy with the tested product, you can start to make more.  

2) Plan ahead
Beside the resting time required after baking, the dough skin needs "beauty sleep" too.  After mixing the dough ingredients together, cover the dough and let it rest at room temperature for a few hours, about 5 hours (or overnight, if you intend to bake the next morning).

3) A touch of magic - salted egg yolk preparation
Remove black ash, wash and separate yolks from whites.  Rinse the salted egg yolks with water (to remove traces of whites).  Add a few drops of sesame oil to the salted yolks and bake at 160C for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Sesame oil enhances the salted yolk flavour.  I tried adding cooking wine to the salted yolks, but I find sesame oil works better.

4) Practise makes perfect
The hardest part in mooncake making is to wrap a big ball of filling with a small piece of dough skin.  One easy way is to flatten the dough between plastic wraps.  The flatten dough should cover about 80% of the ball of filling, then gently turn and spread the dough with your hands to fully cover the filling.  What you want  is an evenly thin skin around the lotus filling. 

5) Less is more when it comes to egg wash
Egg wash is one yolk + a little water (about 2 tsp).  You can sieve it if you want smoother egg wash.  Brush just a little egg wash on the surface to give the mooncake a nice golden colour.  Too much egg wash will blur the design on the mooncake.  

Making Traditional Mooncakes
(makes about 20 mooncakes)

This is a easy-to-remember recipe "1 2 3":  1 part oil: 2 parts syrup: 3 parts flour

150g peanut oil
300g golden syrup
450g flour (I used Hongkong flour)
1/2 tbsp akaline water

1) Mix well together: oil, golden syrup and akaline water.  Add flour to form a dough.  Cover and rest dough for 5 hours.

2) Divide dough in small parts (I used about 42g dough).  Wrap mooncake filling (lotus paste 120g + salted yolk 10g: form into a round ball) with dough.  Dust mooncake with flour and place in mooncake mould.  Press and knock out mooncake.  Place on greased or lined baking tray.

3) Bake in preheated oven at 180C:  Bake for 5 minutes, remove and brush surface with egg wash.  Bake again for about 10 to 15 minutes till light golden brown.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Goodies Bag and Steamed Chicken in Lotus Leaf

What do you fill up your child's birthday goodies bag with?  Sweets, chocolates, snacks, stationery, children crafts or perhaps purchase a pre-filled goody gift bag?  How about filling the goodies bag with love, the joy of sharing, fun and laughter, and finally a thankful heart in a simple, yet extraordinary goodies bag?

Little girl had her very first birthday party invitation from her present classmate since she started Primary One this year.  I am not particularly keen in attending children birthday parties.  Such parties can be rather boring for the accompanying parent, unless you know the other parents too.  For this party, it is a good opportunity for me to know some of her little friends. 

It was a small party for about 10 children.  I was told the birthday girl only invited a few closer friends to celebrate her birthday, and my little girl is one of them ^_^   It is comforting to know that my girl has made some good friends in her school.  To start off the party, the birthday girl's father gathered all the children to sit down and watch videos.  That's not all, the children have to watch the videos and answer questions at the end of each video show.  When they answered correctly, they get a present!  Within a short moment, presents were flying around quickly and the children were all eager to rise their hands to answer the questions.  Some were simple questions, while some required the children to think deeper "why the person (in the video show) behaves in that manner", "Is it correct to do so", "what will you do if you were the person".  I thought it was an excellent attempt for the parent to engage the children in such group conversations.

Then the games began.  The children sat in a circle and each child take turn to introduce themselves.  Music began and two balls were passed around in the circle.  When the music stops, the children holding the balls must shout out each other names.  It was a simple and fun game for the children.  More games were played and the children were rewarded with more goodies from each game.  One game, I remembered, was to put your hand in a bag to feel what "treasures" were hidden inside the bag.  It was fun watching the children's expression as they placed their hand in the bag to feel the hidden objects.

At the end, the children were given bags to keep their collected goodies.  And of course, what's a birthday party without the birthday song and cake?  The girl's parents gathered the children to sit down again, think and share for a moment "to whom they are thankful for".  Given our present standard of living, our children are pampered with toys and luxuries.  It is not easy for them to be grateful and thankful for what they have, let alone to sympathize those living in a less-privileged environment.   In short, many take things for granted.  Most children expressed thanks to their parents for taking good care of them.  The birthday girl was thankful to her parents for planning and organising the birthday party for her.  I was very touched to see such meaningful sharing from these little children.

No fanciful birthday decorations or themed birthday party.  No expensive birthday goodies kits or special set -up.  No funny clown or magician to entertain the children.  Just a simple birthday party for the children to have pure fun and laughter, and learn something meaningful along the way.  Thank you, Mr and Mrs Wong!  It was an excellent birthday party and a valuable learning experience, for me and my child.

Steamed Chicken in Lotus Leaf - this dish is similar to Steamed Chicken with Chinese Mushroom and Cloud Ears, just that all the "goodies" are wrapped in a piece of lotus leaf and steamed.

Lotus leaves can be purchased from stalls selling dried provisions.   Before using the lotus leaf, blanch in boiling water till soften.  Dry the leaf with a clean kitchen towel.  Open up the leaf and place it on a plate.  There is a stem in the middle.  Bend and fold the stem underneath, so that you have a flat surface. Pour the marinated chicken and other ingredients in the centre of the leaf.  Wrap up like a parcel and steam on high for about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bread Baking Frenzy {5 Buns}

I have been in a bread baking frenzy recently, making bread every few other days.  Using my favorite sweet bun recipe, here are the buns that I have baked:

Apple & Raisins Buns

A little sweet and tangy.  I used Rose apple, golden syrup, a little lemon juice and just a pinch of cinnamon for the filling.  

hey.... caterpillars eating up my apples!

Ham & Spring Onion Buns

Ham and spring onion are such a perfect match.  How I love the contrasting colours of these buns ....

Just before baking ... 

....... and the lovely aroma of baked spring onion and the melted cheese!

Hot from the oven!

Potato Curry Buns

And since each sweet bun recipe yields 12 buns, I made some into potato curry buns.  For the curry buns, fry chopped onions till translucent, add curry powder/seasonings and fry till fragrant.  Add boiled potato (coarsely mashed) and cook till dried up.  If you prefer, you can also add canned tuna or shredded chicken to the potato mixture.  I just add a small piece of hard-boiled egg into each bun.  

That's how much regular-sized buns you get from just one portion of sweet bun recipe!  

Cranberry Cream Cheese Buns

Are these cream cheese buns still selling like hotcakes?  That day, I made only six buns to test out the cream cheese filling.  OMG .... These buns are really tasty!  It may look flatten, but the texture is soft (even on the next day) and the cream cheese filling is nice and smooth!

Caution:  These buns are highly addictive!

Cranberry Cream Cheese Filling
(makes 6 buns)

120g cream cheese
40g icing sugar
Zest from an orange
1 tbsp dried cranberries (soaked in a little orange liquor or orange juice, chopped
2 tbsp lemon curd* (chill)

Cream icing sugar and cream cheese together till smooth.  Add orange zest, chopped cranberries and lemon curd.  Mix well and place in fridge to firm up for easy handling.

Note: To achieve the "flattened look" of the buns, place a piece of baking paper over the buns after shaping (i.e. 2nd proofing), and place a light-weight baking pan over it.  Bake at preheated oven 190C for about 20 minutes (with baking paper/pan sitting on the buns).

[Recipe adapted from here]

*To make lemon curd:
1) Combine the following ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and set over a pot of simmering water:
2 egg yolks, 120g sugar, juice and zest of one lemon.

2) Keep stirring the mixture till it thickens (about 5 to 7 mins).  Remove from heat and stir in about 20g butter.  Stir for another 1 to 2 minutes (the lemon curd will thicken further).  Cover the surface with plastic wrap.  Keep in fridge.
(Note: You can use the leftover as a spread for scones, filling for cakes or add to butter cream)

Olive, Garlic, Ham & Cheese Buns

With chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, dried mixed herbs and olive oil added to the dough, the aroma from these baked buns is simply amazing!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sliced Fish Porridge


I love to have soupy food for lunch.  Noodle soup, porridge, yong tau foo etc.  Once or twice a week, I will prepare long-simmering soup (煲汤) at home.  I simply love soups.

This sliced fish porridge is more Teochew style than my usual Canto way of cooking thick porridge or congee.  The sliced fish is lightly marinated with a little salt and shallot oil.  I used soy beans and ikan bilis to prepare the stock.  If you have 扁鱼干 (dried fish?), it will make a tastier stock.  

Preparation is very simple.  You can either use cooked rice or boil the rice grains in the stock till soft.  If using cooked rice, bring the stock to boil.  Over high heat, add in cooked rice and tomato.  Cook for a minute or less.  When the porridge starts to boil again, add in the marinated sliced fish and lettuce.  Stir and remove from heat. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eat Well within Budget

Family meals can be healthy and delicious without blowing your budget.  These dishes are also easy to prepare at home.  So before you are planning for which restaurant or zi char stall for your next weekend dinner, why not try this simple and healthy 3 plus 1 meal?

3 plus 1 Menu (serves 6)
Old Cucumber Pork Ribs Soup (老黄瓜排骨汤)
Steamed Chicken in Lotus Leaf (荷叶蒸鸡)
Cauliflower & Mix Vegetables Stir Fry (炒什锦)
Baby Spinach with Silver Fish in Stock (笕菜银鱼上汤)

I did a quick estimation of the cost involved, and it costs less than S$4 per person!

Old Cucumber Soup: S$8.50
Pork ribs: S$4.50, old cucumber: S$1.80, few dried oysters/clam shell: S$1.70, others: S$0.50

Steamed Chicken in Lotus Leaf: S$6.50
2 big chicken legs: S$4.00, 1 Chinese sausage/4 Chinese mushrooms: S$1.50, lotus leaf/others: S$1.00

Mix Vegetables Stir Fry: S$4.00
Cauliflower: S$1.30, green peas/carrot/shitake mushrooms/tofu puffs: S$1.00, fish cake: S$0.70, minced pork: S$1.00

Baby Spinach with Silver Fish: S$3.50
Baby spinach: S$2.00, 1 salted egg: S$0.40, silver fish: S$0.50, homemade ikan bilis stock: S$0.60 (reserved a little stock for mix vegetables stir-fry)

Total estimated cost: S$22.50

Click Here for more menu ideas.

Baby Spinach with Silver Fish in Stock

Baby spinach in stock is a very popular dish served in restaurant.  But why pay so much when you can easily prepare this at home.  Trust me, even if you are new to cooking, you can whip up this dish in a flash.

You will need:
2 bundles baby spinach, discard roots portion and rinse thoroughly in water
1 salted egg yolk, steamed (I steamed in rice cooker while cooking rice)
2 to 3 tbsp silver fish, rinse and pat dry in kitchen paper
Some stock (homemade or store bought)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed in whole

1) Prepare a pot of boiling water (or you can do this using a wok).  Blanch the spinach just to soften the leaves (takes about 30 seconds).  Remove the spinach and drain away excess water.

2) Heat up a wok and add some cooking oil.  Stir fry the silver fish till crispy and nice golden brown.  Remove and set aside.  Stir fry the crushed garlic till fragrant.  Remove and set aside.

3) Mash the steamed salted egg yolk and add to the hot oil.  It will start to bubble and foam.  When the egg yolk disintegrates into the hot oil, add in the lightly blanched spinach and garlic (from step 2).  Stir and add in some stock, just halfway covering the spinach (spinach releases water as it cooks, so do not add too much stock at the beginning).

4) Cook the spinach till soften completely.  Add salt to taste (if using store bought stock, taste the dish before adding salt).  Stir in half the silver fish.

5) Serve dish with extra silver fish as garnish.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lim Kopi... Jiak Loti

A quick weekday breakfast at home is usually bread or sandwiches. These coffee with custard filling buns (more famously known as roti boy or roti mum) make a delicious snack at tea time, with a cup of coffee.  

You can use instant custard for the filling.  I have some leftover custard from here (without adding whipped cream).  If you are preparing a fresh batch of custard, do keep it in the fridge to harden up a little for easy handling.

Sweet bun recipe - refer to here

80g butter, rest at room temperature to soften
70g sugar
80g eggs (about 1.5 eggs)
80g plain flour
1 tsp instant coffee powder (or use coffee emulco)

1) Make sweet buns as per recipe.  After first proofing and resting, wrap each bun with a tablespoon of custard filling.  Proof the buns for second round.

2) Mix together butter, sugar and eggs till combined.  Add in plain flour.  Mix well.  Pour into piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle.

3) Pipe topping on top of bun in concentric circles and bake in preheated oven at 200C for about 12 minutes or till golden brown.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vegetable Bacon Quiche

This quiche tastes so good that I should have just omit the bacon.  Each bite is bursting with flavour from the broccoli, olives, sun dried tomatoes, assorted grilled vegetables.... and the crumbly herb crust.

For the shortcrust pastry, depending on how big/how deep is your pie dish or quiche pan, you may have to adjust the amount of ingredients used.  Over here, I'm using a big pan, about 9" to 10" round with 1.5" height.  

220g plain flour, 120g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk + 3 to 4 tbsp water
1 tsp dried mixed herbs + 1/2 tsp salt

You can refer here and also check the pictures below for preparation steps.

I like to include a variety of vegetables in my quiche, the more colourful, the merrier! 

1 cup broccoli, lightly blanched in salted water
Pineapple, bell pepper, Portobello mushroom
(- lightly toss with oil and a little salt, lightly grilled.  Cool, then cut into bite-sized)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Some black pitted olives and sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
Spring onion, chopped
3 slices of bacon, diced
1 cup shredded cheese
Pinch of salt/pepper to taste
Custard: 4 eggs + 250ml milk + 200ml dairy cream

To prepare filling:

1) Heat up a little oil in a pan.  Fry the bacon bits till fragrant, add the chopped garlic and onion and cook till onion turns translucent.  Set aside.

2) Get ready all other vegetables (cut, blanched, grilled etc - see above)

3) Custard:  Beat eggs, milk, cream together with a pinch of salt and pepper.

4) Partial bake the pastry crust, remove from oven and sprinkle some shredded cheese at the bottom of the crust.  Add half the bacon and onion mixture from step 1.  Add the rest of the prepared vegetables and top with the remaining bacon and onion mixture. 

5) Pour the custard mixture over the filling, leaving about 1 cm gap around the edge (to prevent custard from overflowing while baking).  Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top.

6) Bake in hot oven, 175C to 180C for approximately 40 minutes, till filling is set and top is golden brown.

If you have leftover custard and vegetables filling, you can prepare mini-version without the crust.  Just pour into greased ramekins (or aluminium cups) and bake.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cherry Oreo Cheesecake

I have a can of cherry pie filling which I bought a few months back ... out of curiosity.  I have tried dark sweet cherries in syrup before (those for making black forest cake), blueberries and strawberries jam fillings (which I never buy again after learning how to make my own jam fillings).  Cherry pie filling?  No harm trying.  These look like sour cherries, so can't go wrong with dessert.

We have heard of how the net weight of canned food can't be trusted, especially with canned abalone, where the can was filled up with more brine to increase the weight.  When I opened up my can of cherry pie filling, I  was reminded of the same thing... like the canned abalone!  I see more thickened syrup than cherries in the can.  So, I ended up spooning the cherries into a bowl first, before I could use them to top my cheesecake.

I did not keep a detailed recipe for this cheesecake.  But recipe and preparation is similar to here.  I used an adjustable cake ring (approximately 7").  Instead of digestive biscuits, I used a combination of Oreo cookies and digestive biscuits for the base.  I have also added some coarsely crushed Oreo cookies as filling in the cheesecake.  Chill the cheesecake in the freezer section to set, then top up with the cherry pie filling.  Chill again in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Weekend Dinner

Here's another of my weekend dinner.  If you have read my other 3 plus 1 menus over here, you will probably noticed a certain pattern in my weekend cooking.  First, there will be a soup (a must for Cantonese family).  There will be at least one vegetable dish (or primarily vegetable in the dish), a steamed dish - usually fish plus another one or two stir-fry dish(es).  Put it simply, I try to include fish, meat, more vegetable and a soup in the dinner and where possible, use different cooking methods.

For this 4 plus 1 weekend menu (serves 8 to 10)

Pumpkin Chicken Soup
Soy Sauce Braised Chicken Wings, served with Shanghai Green
Sweet & Sour Pork
Steamed Fish with Garlic Bean Paste Sauce
Stir Fry Vegetable with Bacon Bits

Pumpkin Chicken Soup
Preparation is similar to ABC soup.  And since this is pumpkin soup, I used quite a big chunk of pumpkin, one carrot, one tomato and chicken bones/breast meat for this soup.  

Soy Sauce Braised Chicken Wings
I like to include a braised or stewed dish in weekend cooking.  The dish can be prepared in advance and helps to cut down last minute cooking.

You will need:
10 mid-joint wings (or other chicken parts)

Combine sauce:
3 to 4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp cooking wine
2 tsp sugar (or more to taste)
4 to 5 tbsp water

(a) 3 slices ginger + few cloves garlic + 3 shallots, sliced
(b) 1 star anise + 1 clove + 1 bay leave

1) Heat up a little cooking oil and add in (a).
2) Pour in combine sauce and add in the chicken wings.
3) Add more water to cover the chicken wings. Add (b).  Bring to boil.
4) Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and let the chicken wings immersed in the sauce.
5) When it's time to serve, remove the ingredients (a) and (b) from the sauce.
6) Bring the chicken wings and sauce to boil again.  Pour out some of the gravy (use it for stir-frying or for noodles).  Thicken the remaining sauce with cornstarch solution.
7) Arrange chicken wings in the middle and add blanched vegetable at the side.  Pour gravy over.

Sweet & Sour Pork
This dish is not difficult to prepare at home, so long you do not mind doing some deep-frying.  The final step is basically using quick stir-fry method (快炒)to combine the ingredients and flavour together.  The key to this dish is high heat.  Recipe over here.

Steamed Fish with Garlic Bean Paste Sauce
I love garlic and I used a combination of lightly-fried chopped garlic and raw chopped garlic in this dish.  And LOTS of garlic.  Using the hot oil that I used to fry the chopped garlic, I poured the hot oil over the prepared combined sauce.  Detailed recipe is  here.

Stir Fry Vegetable with Bacon Bits
I like to use a variety of vegetables.  For this simple stir-fry, I have celery, carrot, breech mushrooms, water chestnut and baby corn. When planning which vegetables to use, I usually go by the colours and include at least 3 to 4 colours in a dish.

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