Sunday, 30 December 2012

Black Forest Trifle Cake

Posted by Kim Fong On 12:19 pm

Annual Christmas dinner was at my Uncle's place. As usual, it's pot luck and as usual, I bring the dessert. Though last year I took my quinoa with chickpea, spinach and haloumi but that didn't go down so well. Most of my family isn't that adventurous when it comes to food. So I'd best stick to more familiar desserts.

Keeping to the Aussie Christmas theme, I decided to make trifle. Personally, I'm not the biggest a fan of trifle. Jelly, custard, fruit and sponge… all great things individually but together… the party becomes a little awkward in my mouth. Not this one though.

With the cherry season in fully swing and this year it's an awesome season too, it is the best time to make use of the seasonal produce. And a great recipe to celebrate the greatness of cherry and chocolate – Black forest. I also found a white chocolate and raspberry trifle cake in the latest Donna Hay Magazine (Issue 66, page 100). So adapting this, I present my black forest trifle cake. Credit for the chocolate custard goes to Poh, from Emmanuel Mollois chocolate ├ęclair recipe. I stayed pretty close to this recipe, though I think in future I could cut down the sugar.

Below, I've split the recipe in parts then the steps to build it. There are a fair few steps, so best to make this at least a day ahead of time.

Cherry jelly
1 packet of store bought jelly – 85g (I used raspberry, but you can use cherry or port)
~400g fresh cherries, cut in half and de-stoned
250ml boiling water (as per jelly instructions)
200ml room temperature water (as per jelly instructions)

1. Prepare the cherries – wash, cut in half and de-stone. Place them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

2. Following the packet instructions prepare the jelly. (Usually, dissolve the packet’s contents into 250ml boiling water, then 200ml of room temperature water.)

3. In a shallow dish, line the dish with about a third of the prepared cherries. Pour the jelly over. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to set (about 4 hours).

Chocolate custard
200ml of cream
130ml milk
4 egg yolk
60g caster sugar (I'd cut it down to 45 to 50g as the cream and milk are sweet too)
165g dark chocolate, roughly chopped/cubed

1. In a medium bowl, bring to a boil the cream and milk.

2. While waiting for cream mixture to boil, combine egg yolks and caster sugar in a medium bowl and whisk immediately until they become a pale gold. (This is actually cooking the eggs.)

3. Add cream mixture to the egg mixture in one pour, stir slightly then return mixture to the pot you used to boil the cream and milk. On very low heat, be sure not to boil, continue stirring until all the bubbles have disappeared, the mixture becomes a little thick and creamy. You can tell the mixture is ready when it coats the back of the spoon, you run your finger along the back and the mixture doesn't move into the space where you've just run your finger. If you’re not following what I mean, refer to Poh's video (link above).

4. Remove from heat and add chocolate and continue to stir until all the chocolate has melted. Pour into a bowl, allow to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to set (a few hours or overnight).

Chocolate cake
250g butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups (~350g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups (375ml) water
2 cups (300g) plain flour, sifted
2/3 cup (100g) self-raising flour, sifted
3 eggs
1 tspn vanilla essence

1. Preheat oven to 120C. Lightly grease and line with baking paper, a 24cm round cake tin.

2. Place butter, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until chocolate has melted and mixture appears smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside to cool slightly. Add both flours, eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth.

3. Pour mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow cake to cool completely in the tin before turning cake out onto a wire rack.

Building the trifle cake
80ml (1/3 cup) water
1/3 cup caster sugar
45ml kirsch (1.5 shot) Prepared cake
300ml thickened cream
1tspn vanilla essence
1/4 cup icing sugar
Remaining cherries from cherry jelly (above)
Prepared jelly
Prepared chocolate custard
Shaved chocolate (garnish)

1. In a small saucepan, combine water, caster sugar and kirsch over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

2. Place cake onto serving plate. Place a 20cm plate on top of the cake. Using a small sharp knife, make about a 3cm deep cut around the plate. Remove the plate and cut a chequered pattern of 2.5cm squares in the round. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the squares. In the original recipe it says to place scooped out cake squares in the kirsch mixture to absorb the liquid. However, I don’t think there is enough space left in the cake to return these cubes. So I used them in a traditional trifle (along with the left overs of the other parts – custard, fruit, jelly, kirsch and cream).

3. Beat cream, icing sugar and vanilla until firm peaks. The volumes I've stated above are approximate. You'll need to keep tasting to suit your liking. Cocoa is added for colour, flavour and the bitterness, so balance this with the icing sugar. Be sure as you add to the sugar, you sift it in to avoid lumps.

4. Sprinkle some of kirsch mixture over the base of the cake just to moisten and flavour (not to soak). 

Do you think you're ready for this jelly! :p
5. Add sheets of jelly to line the cake cavity. 

6. Spread custard over the jelly. 

7. Carefully place the halved cherries onto of the custard to cover top. 

8. Top the cake with chocolate cream and any remaining cherries to garnish. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate.

9. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Merry Christmas and enjoy!

Note: As mentioned above, with the left over bits, I made a "traditional" style trifle. This involves layers, starting with cake, kirsch, jelly, custard then fruit. Then cake and kirsch, cream to finish off. Bonus! Two dishes!

Not very attractive slice but delicious!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Vegan Inari Sushi with Teriyaki “Duck”

Posted by Kim Fong On 11:56 am

 Christmas eve dinner was with a vegetarian household with 3 kids under the age of 12. So I was thinking to make something interesting but not too weird. A quick trip to the Asian grocery store resulted in this of idea. Inari sushi pockets with teriyaki flavoured mock-duck. This Inari dish was very successful. Really tasty and really simple and vegan (and obviously vegetarian) friendly too. 

You can have all different toppings (not just mock duck). Other suggestions include: mushroom, seaweed salad, real meat (for the carnivores out there), corn, fish roe, the list goes on. Or you can just have it plain or a little peppering of sesame seeds. What's your favourite topping?

Quick tip, please don't give into Australian supermarket marketing and buy "sushi rice". It's just medium grain rice packaged in a fancy label. 

1 can mock duck, drain and sliced into small strips
2 Tblspn mirin
2 Tblspn soy sauce
1 to 2 tspns sugar (white, raw or caster)
oil for stir frying
1 cup medium grain rice
Water (as per rice cooking instructions – absorption method)
3 Tblspn rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tblspn sugar (white, raw or caster)
1/2 tspn salt
2 Tblspn sesame seeds
1 to 1 1/2 packets of aburage (bean curd pouches) – available at the Asian grocery store

Aburage - bean curd pockets

1. Boil rice as per packet instructions (stove, microwave, rice cooker – whatever suits you).

2. Marinate mock duck with mirin, soy sauce of 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar. Stir and set aside for about 10 minutes or more.

3. On high heat a medium skillet, add oil to coat the base of the pan and add the marinated mock duck. Stir to heat through and reduce heat to medium and allow sauce to caramelise. If you find it starting to stick or get too dry, add a dash of water. Remove from heat and set aside, keep warm.

4. In small pot, combine vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and salt. Heat to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

5. Add vinegar mixture to cooked rice and stir through. This gives the rice that lovely flavour. Stir in sesame seeds.

6. Unpack the aburage, drain away the liquid. Gently separate the opening and fill with prepared rice to about 3/4 the way. Top with mock-teriyaki duck. Repeat with remaining pockets. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and serve. Can be eaten slightly warm or at room temperature. Best eaten fresh.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies with Pandan Royal Icing

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:46 pm

Here I was thinking my previous post would be the last one for the year as I was due to travel for the rest of the year. That was abruptly cut short, thanks to Cyclone Evan who hit Fiji on the 17th Dec 2012. We experienced the brunt of this category 4 hurricane that got up to 290km/hr winds.  Evan wreaked this country and my holiday. So we decided to cut our loses and come back home for Christmas. So lucky for you folks, more cooking and more blogging to come from me before 2013.

So this is a first for me – gingerbread “things”. As it's the season, there are those who always make their Christmas thing. Be that rum balls, Pavlova,  turkey, trifle, shortbread or <insert your signature Christmas thing>. See! You know what I mean. For me, I'm a bit fickle. Some years it would be turkey, or ham, or some new random recipe. One year it was pineapple and coconut truffles. This time, I'm putting to use my cookie cutters and my latest obsession – PANDAN.

As I'm sure you know, there are millions of gingerbread recipes out there. Most of them very similar. For me, I like them chewy. So I modified this American recipe from Brown Eyed Baker and for the icing, this recipe was the first one I found that was sound. Many Australian recipes call for golden syrup and American ones call for molasses. I decided to use treacle – something in-between.

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger (or 1.5tablespoons if you like the gingery taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
170g butter, cut into pieces and softened slightly (room temp)
3/4 cup treacle (you can also use molasses or golden syrup – depending how rich and dark you want it)
2 tablespoons milk

1. In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda. stir in the sugar. Using a cake mixer with dough hook, add butter and mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal.

2. On low speed, with mixer running, gradually add treacle (quarter cup at a time) and milk (tablespoon at a time) alternating, starting and finishing with treacle. Mix until dough is evenly moistened then increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.

3. Turn dough onto a  clean work surface and divide in half. Working with one portion at a time, roll half a centimetre thick between two large sheets of baking paper. If you want them chewier – make them thicker, if you want it crispier, roll them thinner. (repeat for second portion)

4. Leaving dough sandwiched between baking paper, stack them on a cookie tray and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Or, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.

5. Preheat oven 175oC.

6. Remove one dough sheet from freezer. Peel off top baking sheet and place on a cookie tray. Cut dough into gingerbread people or things. Transferring shapes to the just line cookie sheet spacing them slightly apart. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie trays are full. Bake cookies until set in middle and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 7 to 10 minutes, rotating trays from front to back halfway through baking time. Do not over bake! Cool cookies on tray for a 2 minutes, then move to wire rack; cool to room temperature.

7. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting and baking in step 6. If the dough gets too soft to handle, roll it out on the baking paper and freeze it for a few minutes. Repeat to use all the dough.

8. Once cookies are cooled to room temperature, you can decorate them.
Pandan icing
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tspn vanilla essence
1/2 tpsn Pandan essence
a few tspn water (only if necessary)
1. place the egg white in a small bowl & beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually adding the icing sugar ½ a cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add vanilla and continue mixing. If the mixture gets too dry, add a few teaspoons of water.

2. If you want other colours, portion out some of this icing now. With remaining mixture add Pandan and stir to mix thoroughly.

3. TIME TO DECORATE! Pipe, spread – whatever takes your fancy. Allow icing to set (about 15 to 30 minutes).

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dairy free, egg free Chocolate LEGO Cake

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:01 pm

Yesterday, Summer officially started in Sydney. Not just the 40*C heat wave, but the festivities and eating way too much! 

Happy birthday Winky Poo! :)
December party no. #1 - my nephew's 10th birthday 
Nathan has always loved LEGO. At a very young age, he was completing LEGO sets way beyond his years. A couple of years ago, I even lugged 2 kg worth of LEGO back from my trip to the US just for him. (Apparently they didn't have this model back in Sydney, as it's for 16 years+!) So I thought this LEGO cake was a fitting theme for him. But the challenge lied with his dairy and egg allergies. Like I've said before, you can't not eat cake for your birthday! So I present to you a completely dairy and egg free chocolate LEGO cake. 

This cake definitely had its challenges but all in all, I think it turned out well. Complements from fussy family members means it's a winner. I based this on a previous cake and modified it slightly and doubled the mixture. The frosting I worked off the principles of a butter frosting and added vanilla and lemon essence to mask the margarine taste. The design and method of constructing this cake I followed this picture from flickr and this video from Betty Crocker.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 tspn bicarb soda
6 tspn baking powder
1 cup caster sugar
1/8 tpsn salt
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 1/4 cups desiccated coconut
2 tspn vanilla essence
1 tspn pandan essence (optional)
2 1/4 cups almond milk (or water)

275g dairy free margarine (I used a canola spread)
170 to 200g icing sugar mixture - depending how sweet you want it (or icing sugar)
2 tspns vanilla essence
2 tspns lemon essence
Food colouring (use red pillar box for the red brick)
~extra icing sugar mixture to dissolve food colouring

10 marshmallows 
Black writing icing gel

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line base and sides of a 9 inch square cake pan with baking paper. 

2. In a large bowl sift together, flour, bicarb soda, baking powder, sugar, salt and cocoa. Add almond meal and coconut.

3. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, and add vanilla, pandan and almond milk. Using a whisk, slowly mix to incorporate. If the mixture looks a little dry, add a dash of almond milk or water.

4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until cake is cooked (prick with toothpick comes out clean). 

5. Sit in tin for 5 to 10 minutes then turn the cake out on to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

1. Using a cake mixer, beat together margarine, sifted icing sugar mixture, vanilla and lemon essence until well incorporated. Taste as you go for the appropriate level of sweetness. Bare in mind you'll be adding a few more teaspoons of icing sugar at a later stage to dissolve the food colouring.

2. Separate mixture into 3 small to medium bowls, 1 for each colour. 

3. For each colour, in a separate small bowl add a fair few drops food colouring to about 1 tablespoon of icing sugar mixture. Stir to form a paste. Add paste to 1 of margarine frosting bowls and mix to combine. Repeat until you get the desired colour. 
Tip: Becuase the LEGO blocks are very vibrantly coloured, so don't be shy on the colouring - otherwise you'll doing this process for ages! You'll probably use about 10 to 20 ml of food colouring.

4. Repeat step #3 for the other two colours. For the green, I added some pandan essence which helped but needed the food colouring to get the vibrancy. I also added a teaspoon of cocoa powder to the red mixture to get that deeper colour. 

Building the cake
For a more detailed 'how it' check out the Betty Crocker video.

1. Cut the cake into 3 rectangles. 
Tip: You can put the off cuts together to make another 'brick'.

2. Crumb coat each rectangle with respective colour. This means very lightly coating the cake with frosting then refrigerating for about 30 minutes. This seals in the crumbs before the main frosting layer. 

3. Place the first rectangle onto the serving plate/board and using a butter knife (or offset spatula), spread frosting to coat the side and top of the brick. Coat 4 marshmallows with the same colour frosting and place on top the cake. Smooth out any untidy sides.

4. Place second rectangle next to the first with an offset. Frost and top with another 4 coated marshmallows. Smooth out any untidy sides.

5. Place the third rectangle on-top of the first two rectangles to form a bridge. (refer to my crude picture below). Frost and top with 2 marshmallows.  Using the black writing icing gel, write your message (or birthday person's name) on the top brick and number on top of the two marshmallows.

6. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!


Monday, 26 November 2012

Savoury Bagels – Fresh and home made

Posted by Kim Fong On 7:56 pm

Home alone on a week night. I had all good intentions to do nothing! Spend some quality time with my sofa and the TV. Maybe bring some popcorn to the party. It started off well. Cooking shows! Yah – then Poh comes on. Which is great, coz I love her shows. She started showing how she makes bagels. Then I got a hankering! Then I got motivated – next thing you know I'm kneading the dough, then while it was proving, I've rushed off to the supermarket to get cream cheese. Coz you can't have bagels without cream cheese.

It didn't take me long, though there were a few steps, and now I know what to do, I'll probably get it done faster. They turned out beautifully. Probably not as gigantic as the cafe/store bought ones. But definitely better than the Aussie stuff you get, though I don't have much competition here. I'm far from opening my own New York bagel shop with ten kagillion cream cheese flavours – but this definitely curbs my urge to get on a plane for 21 hours just to get a NY bagel.

So thanks to Poh and TV – I have a) learnt how to make bagels, b) made bagels, c) enjoyed a lovely fresh bagel dinner, lunch the next day and snacks in between. Definitely something I'll be making again – perhaps I'll try different versions, including sweet ones. 

If you want to see how Poh makes it, here is the link. I've stuck pretty close to her recipe – the only change I made were the toppings, and no Swiss cheese.

7g dried yeast (1 sachet, 2 tspn)
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2/3 cup (170ml) warm milk (soy milk or water for the vegans and dairy intolerant folks out there)
4 cups (450g) plain flour, sifted
2 ½ teaspoons salt
3/4 cup (180ml) warm water + extra if needed (about bath warm)
1 egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
2-3 tablespoons of lightly toasted sesame, poppy seeds, dried herbs, cheese and/or nigella seeds (or any topping you wish)

1. Mix together yeast, sugar and milk in a small bowl, cover and set aside for 10 minutes or until the surface of the mixture is covered in bubbles.

2. Combine flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add yeast mixture and warm water. Mix and knead until smooth and elastic, for about 7 minutes.

Tip: You should not need to flour the bench for this. If it is the right consistency, the dough should only stick to itself. If it feels a little dry or wet, add 1 tablespoon of water or 1 tablespoon of flour and knead until smooth. I found it was a little dry at first but I kept kneading and it came together without having to add more water. And kneading for this long is necessary. You'll noticed the dough’s consistency change and becomes very smooth.

3. With a knife, divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and cover with damp tea towel. Knead each piece very briefly then roll into a sausage 2.5cm in diameter or long enough to form a doughnut shape. Squash 2.5cm of one end of the sausage. You can dust the bottom of the palm of your hand with a little flour if the dough is very sticky but I didn't need to do this. Bring it around to meet its tail, so it forms a doughnut, overlapping the tail end onto the flattened end. Then pull the flattened dough up from either side of the tail to meet on top and pinch into a seam to secure the tail in place. Flip the bagel over and comment on how awesome it looks. (Yes I actually did this too!) Cover with a moist tea towel and rest on baking tray(s) lined with baking paper leaving some room between them, for about 15 – 20 minutes. This allows the bagels to prove. I put the tray somewhere warm, like near there TV. If your bagels seem not to be proving very well, zap your moist tea towel in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or until the towel feels lukewarm to touch. Repeat when the towel feels cool again.

View album
These big fluffy pillows are my proving bagels

Boiling the pillows - I mean bagels

4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the risen bagels, boiling in batches of 3 to 4 for 1 minute on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and rest on clean tea towel to absorb residual moisture. Don't be alarmed, at this stage they will look slightly deflated and dimply. Return to trays lined with parchment. Brush generously with egg wash and sprinkle with toppings of choice on top. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Allow to cool slightly and serve. Some serving suggestions include:
  • Cream cheese & chives
  • Pastrami and Swiss cheese
  • Salmon, cream cheese and capers
  • Plain toasted with butter

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Muffins

Posted by Kim Fong On 5:53 pm

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, how good is goat’s cheese!? I had a bit left in the fridge I wanted to use up and it just so happen to come across this recipe on Good thing about savoury muffins, they make a great snack or a breakfast on the run.

I changed this recipe a bit but it turned out great. It’s a good base where you can change to suit your taste. You could add bacon bits, mushroom, zucchini, eggplant, mozzarella cheese  – the list goes on. Below my version – enjoy!

25g butter
200ml milk
100g frozen spinach, thawed
1 2/3 cup plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (a little more wouldn't hurt)
1 egg
1/4 to 1/3 cup semi dried tomatoes, chopped
Bunch of fresh basil and parsley, chopped
2 tspn pesto
120g soft goat's cheese

1. Preheat oven to 180 to 190C. Grease 8 to 15 holes of muffin pan(s) – depending how deep your muffin pans are.

2. In a pan, heat butter and milk over medium heat until milk just boils, remove from heat, stir in spinach and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and bicarb soda. Add parmesan, egg, tomatoes, pesto, herbs and spinach mixture. Crumble goat’s cheese and stir into mixture.

4. Fill pans with mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until muffins have risen and cooked through – after testing with a toothpick. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. It will last a few days in an airtight container in the fridge, so you can reheat in the microwave.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Grandma’s bean curd fusion

Posted by Kim Fong On 6:14 pm

I was asked if I could make Grandma’s Bean Curd. My reaction... "Ehhhh… I don't know how your grandma makes bean curd, buddy!". No! that tofu dish you get at the Chinese takeaway shop. GRANDMA’S bean curd!
Me: Sure!
Note to self – must Google Grandma’s bean curd.

After searching around I got this gist of this infamous dish. Also known as Moa po tofu, this is a Szechuan speciality. Obviously everyone has their own version of it, but basically it’s silken tofu, minced pork with a chilli sauce served over hot rice. Admittedly I didn't have many ingredients needed (such as 20 different types of chilli/hot sauce – I exaggerate), so I sort of “winged” it as I do. I call it fusion as I didn't have Chinese black bean sauce – so I used fish sauce. I also served with fresh coriander and fried shallots. Apparently it was pretty close so success for the first attempt. Will definitely do this again – perhaps more tofu than pork, and more chilli, however the method seems sound. This dish is super tasty – I even had leftovers for breakfast!

This recipe serves about four and the flavouring volumes are approximate. So depending on your likes you can adjust accordingly. For the vegetarians out there, you can substitute the pork with mushrooms or eggplant – finely diced, and the vegetarian version of the fish and oyster sauce.

Pork marinade
200 to 300g minced pork
3 tbspn soy sauce
2 tbspn fish sauce
2 to 4 tbpsn oyster sauce
2 tspn sesame oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
pepper, to taste
1 tspn ginger, minced (or powder)
1 to 2 tspn chilli sauce
3 tspn shallots, finely chopped
1/2 tspn chilli flakes (optional)
dash of oil

For the gravy
1/4 to 1/3 cup water (tap water is fine)
2 tspn corn flour
1 tspn powdered vegetable stock
1/2 tblspn soy sauce
1/2 tblspn oyster sauce
2 dashes of fish sauce

For the dish
600 to 900g silken tofu (I prefer Fortune Brand, for those living in Australia) – diced into 1 to 1.5 inch cubes
1/2 large onion (1 small to medium onion), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
pepper to taste
chilli flakes to taste
Freshly chopped coriander (garnish)
Fried shallots (garnish)

1. Marinate pork – in a medium bowl add all ingredients listed under “pork marinade”. Mix well and set aside. The more time you have it set aside, the better. If you're going to cook it the next day, then best to cover and refrigerate. If you're time poor, you can still marinate the meat first before preparing everything else and cooking the rice.

2. In a little bowl – mix the ingredients for the gravy together. Set aside. Make this just before you're about to cook.

3. Heat a large fry pan, under high heat. Add oil to coat the base of the pan. Add 3/4 of the onions. Stir and allow to sweat. You'll have to move quickly. If its too fast for you and you're finding the onions started to burn, turn the heat down to a more manageable level. Add marinated pork and half the garlic. Keep stirring to break up the mince and allow to cook through.

4. Once pork is cooked through, add tofu and gravy. Gently stir through (or toss pan if you're confident). Be sure not to break the tofu. Reduce heat to medium and cover for about 2 minutes, to allow tofu to be heated through and the flour to cook.

5. Serve immediately over hot rice with chilli flakes, coriander and/or shallots. Any blanch, steamed or stir fried Chinese greens makes a great accompaniment to this dish.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pandan Cupcakes

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:43 pm

After reading Much a Munch’s recent blog post – I got inspired. I've never cooked with Pandan flavouring before, but love the unique fragrance.

This weekend I went past the Asian grocery store and combed the isles looking for some sort of Pandan flavouring. I found Pandan extract. A little vial size container, only 90 cents (AUD). The liquid is thick, dark green and smells fantastic! Hey it’s only 90 c  why not! After buying it, I did a bit more research on how to use it. Some people get the leaves and boil it down. Others have Pandan syrup. I combined a few different recipes, but mainly based on this one.

The cupcakes turned out moist and tasty, in good cupcake fashion. The cakes themselves were brilliant green! As my boss described it – green tree frog, green. I garnished with desiccated coconut coloured with green food colouring.

2 cups plain flour (minus 4 tblspn)
3 tspn Pandan extract
2 tspn baking powder
1/8 tspn baking soda
140g butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tspn vanilla extract
1/2 tspn coconut essence
3/4 cup milk

115g butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar mixture
1 1/2 tblspn condensed milk
1/2 tspn coconut essence
1/2 tspn vanilla essence
Juice of half a lime
Handful of desiccated coconut, mixed with a few drops of green food colouring

1. Preheat the oven to 175C degrees.  Line 15 to 18 muffin cups with liners. 

2. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until soft and creamy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Then beat in the vanilla & Pandan.

4. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry mixture.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Mix until just combined.

5. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling until about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes becomes clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely before frosting.

1. Beat together butter and icing sugar. Add condensed milk, essences and juice. Taste to ensure the right sweetness and flavour and adjust accordingly.

2. Frost cupcakes when cooled and garnish.

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