Friday, July 26, 2013

Medjool Dates & Walnut Mooncake

As our Muslim friends observe the holy month of Ramadan, there are plentiful supply of dates in the market. There are several varieties of dates available.  Medjool dates, also known as the "king of dates", is one of the best varieties.  It is very soft, has a naturally sweet caramelised taste and its flesh is moist and juicy.  Initially, I just bought one box of Natural Delights Medjool Dates to try.  But after tasting it, I went back to the supermarket to grab 2 more boxes!  These dates are really tasty! 

With the natural sweetness in dates, I add them in yogurt for breakfast, blend with banana and milk for a healthy milkshake, or simply mix some chopped dates in salad green.  Without realising, I finished one box of dates in no time!  

I tried the popular Shanghai Mooncake recipe last year, and really loves the crumbly crust.  I prefer a less-sweet lotus paste, but somehow even the reduced sugar lotus paste still tastes very sweet.  And we all know very well that too much salted egg yolk is bad for health.  So I come up with this healthier version - Shanghai Mooncake with Medjool dates and walnut filling!  The slight savory crust balances perfectly with the sweetness from the date and the nutty flavour from the walnut.  

(Half dough recipe: 9 pieces)

Pastry dough
90g butter (add 1/4 tsp salt if using unsalted butter)
90g Planta margarine
60g fine sugar
2 tbsp milk
4 tbsp cheese powder
100g top flour (I used super lite flour for this batch)
140g plain flour
40g custard powder

Extra cheese powder (as topping)

Filling (for half recipe)
9 Medjool dates, pitted
9 walnut halves, toasted in oven
(Remove pit from dates and stuff dates with toasted walnut halves)

1) Beat butter, margarine and sugar till creamy.  Add in milk and cream well to combine.

2) Sift together the top flour, plain flour and custard powder.  Mix in cheese powder.  Add this flour mixture to the butter mixture to form a dough.  Chill in fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up the dough.

3) Divide the dough (half recipe - 9 pieces, about 30g each). Wrap each prepared date/walnut with the dough.

4) Bake in preheated oven of 180C for about 10 minutes.  Remove and apply egg wash.  Sprinkle top with extra cheese powder.  Bake again for about 20 minutes or till light golden brown.

5) Transfer to rack to cool completely before storing in air-tight container.

Wishing all Muslim friends a blessed Ramadan!  Happy Weekend to all!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Lontong, a mixed vegetable curry dish, is my all-time favourite Malay food.  The bright orangy gravy may look spicy, but it is actually very mild, slightly sweet and has a lovely coconut milk aroma.  This is also a complete one dish meal, as lontong is usually served with compressed rice, which is yummy to eat with the flavourful lontong gravy.  For a healthier version, you can either put lesser coconut milk or replaced partial/all the coconut milk with evaporated milk.

Lontong rice

Nowadays, it is very convenient to buy instant lontong curry paste from supermarkets or wet market.  Just need to add water/coconut milk with mixed vegetables and bring to boil.  But today, I attempted this dish from scratch.  Surprisingly, it is not that difficult to prepare lontong from scratch.  The whole preparation and cooking process did not take very long either, given the fact that I hardly cook Malay food!  

All the lovely spices, colour and aroma

(Adapted from "My Kitchen Snippets")
-  yields about 8 to 9 servings as a one-dish meal

First, we need to prepare the lontong paste:
40g dried prawns (soaked, reserved water to add into gravy)*
8 to 10 shallots*
5 dried chillies (soaked in hot water, removed seeds)
3 to 4 red chillies (removed seeds)
2 stalks lemon grass (cut into smaller pieces for easy blending)
1 piece ginger
1 small piece turmeric root
4 cloves garlic
4 candlenut, Buah Keras

[* or add more for a naturally sweeter and thicker lontong broth]

Gather the vegetables:

A small round cabbage, cut into big chunks
1 carrot, sliced
Half a turnip, bang kwang (cut into thick strips)
10 to 12 long beans, cut into 2 inches long
6 pieces bean curd puffs, cut into smaller pieces
3 medium-sized firm beancurd, cut into quarter, fried till golden

Other ingredients that you need:
1 packet of compressed rice, sliced and steamed
4 to 5 hard-boiled eggs, cut into half each
500ml thick coconut milk + 500ml water (or less coconut milk for a thinner gravy)
1500ml water
 2 tsp stock granules, optional
Salt and sugar to taste

1) Blend the ingredients together to form a thick paste.

2) Fry the paste in a wok with 3 to 4 tbsp oil, over medium to low heat, till fragrant.

3) Pour in water (about 1500ml), stir and transfer to a deep pot.  Bring the content to boil and add in all the vegetables (except long beans).  Cook till the vegetables have softened and add in the green beans (so that the green beans will not be overcooked).  Add stock granules, salt and sugar and bring to boil again.

4) Stir in the coconut milk mixture, simmer and bring to gentle boil.  Turn off heat and let the pot of lontong sit for an least 30 minutes before serving (to allow the flavours to combine nicely).

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest - Kuala Lumpur Selangor Month, hosted by Shannon of Just As Delish.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Light and Crispy Waffles

Finally, the waffle recipe that I have been looking for! I tried several recipes previously, but none gives the same lightness and crispiness.  I thought maybe you need to add some secret ingredients or perhaps only an expensive iron cast waffle maker can do the job.  So today, I am really delightful to say: This simple-looking, home made waffle is delicious, light and crispy to the last bite!  Yes, the waffle stays crispy even with added sauce and ice cream.

What makes the waffle light and crispy?

1) The addition of corn flour to the waffle batter.  

2) Whisking the egg whites separately and gently folding into the batter.

3) After making, keep the waffles in a warm oven.  What I did is to make all the waffles first and when I am ready to serve the waffles, I just warm them up in the oven.  It will crisp up within a few minutes. So everyone can enjoy hot and crispy waffles at the same time.  

I served the waffle with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a light drizzle of caramel sauce, fresh berries and blueberry sauce.  Perfect!  

[Adapted mainly from Fine Cooking]
 - yields about 9 to 10 small waffles - one waffle per serving

(A) Combine together:
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

(B) Combine together:
1 cup milk
6 tbsp vegetable oil (I used corn oil)
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange extract
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

(C) Whisk together:
1 tbsp fine sugar + 1.5 egg whites

1) After getting the dry and wet ingredients i.e. (A) and (B) ready, mix them together till you get a smooth batter.  

2) Whisk the egg whites till firm and fold into the batter.

3) Pour a suitable amount of batter into a preheated waffle maker and cook till the waffle turns golden brown (amount of batter to use and the cooking timing will vary with different waffle makers).  Mine took about 5 to 6 minutes for each batch.

4) Just before serving, arrange the waffles in a single layer on a baking tray and warm up in an oven at 120C till waffles turn crispy (takes about a few minutes).  Turn the waffles half way through, so that both sides will be crispy.

5) Serve hot with a scoop of ice cream and fresh berries.

1) Original recipe calls for 3/4 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup milk. I do not have any buttermilk at home, so replaced with 1 cup milk.  Waffle with buttermilk will have better flavour and fuller bite.

2)  I have added orange extract, orange zest and cinnamon to the batter.  These really add great flavour to the waffle.

3) Grease the waffle maker thoroughly even if it has a non-stick plate.  

4) My waffle maker is a light-weight home use type - Cornell CWM-2308

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