Pandan Chiffon Cake 班兰戚风蛋糕bān lán qī fēng dàn gāo

IMG_5197.JPGThe celebrity chef Nigel Lawson was quoted that Pandan leaves are the next big food craze in the US and UK. This unique Southeast Asia plant, which are found in the backyards of many Malaysian homes, has a sweet fragrance that is likened to vanilla. Its extracted juices are the natural food colouring that is commonly used in some popular Southeast Asia desserts. It is also an essential ingredient for making the famous Singapore Chicken Rice.

 Makes one cake (use 25cm cake tin),

 For batter,  

  • 6                                  egg yolks (use very fresh egg weighting at 60g each, room temperature) 蛋黄
    100g                 caster sugar 白砂糖
    2 tablespoons     pandan juice (freshly made from pandan leaves + 4 tablespoons water)新鲜班兰汁
    1 teaspoon         vanilla essence 香草香精
    1 teaspoon         pandan essence斑兰香精
  • 115ml               sunflower oil (canola oil or corn oil is good too)植物烹调油
    140ml               coconut milk 椰奶
    200g                 cake flour 低筋面粉
    2 teaspoons        baking powder 泡打粉
    1/4 teaspoon      salt

For meringue 蛋白糖霜,

  • 9                                  egg whites (use very fresh egg weighting at 60g each, room temperature) 蛋白
    100g                 caster sugar 白砂糖
    1 teaspoon    cream of tartar 塔塔粉IMG_3400.JPG

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170℃. I use an oven thermometer to make sure to get the exact temperature. Use oven function of ‘Fan Plus’. Place the rack in the lowest level of your oven.IMG_3500.JPG
  2. First let’s make the pandan juice. Pandan leaf is not a juicy plant. To ‘squeeze’ the juice as much as you can, thinly cut the leaves then add them in the food processor with 4 tablespoons of water. After it comes a paste, place in a cheese cloth. Then squeeze the juice out in a bowl.IMG_3455.JPG
  3. Now let us cream the egg yolk. Place egg yolks into a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk the yolks on medium speed (30 seconds). Gradually add into sugar and beat on high speed until the eggs have tripled in volume resulting a nice and light batter. This takes about 5 minutes.IMG_3456.JPG
  4. Add into wet ingredients Mix into the corn oil, coconut milk, pandan paste, vanilla essence. Sift into the dry ingredients of cake flour, salt and baking powder. Gently fold them into the beaten eggs until you can’t see flour anymore.IMG_3459.JPG
  5. Now let’s make meringue. Use an electric mixer, beat the egg whites over medium speed for one minute. Then add Cream of Tartar and whisk for one more minute. Then gradually add the sugar and beat over high speed for about 5 minutes.IMG_3460.JPG
  6. Now that the batter and meringue is done, It is time to mix them both together. Add one third of the meringue to the batter and mix it with a spatula so that you get a light green batter which is easy to fold. Then add the rest of the meringue to the batter and GENTLY fold the mixture in.IMG_3462.JPG
  7. Before you pour the mixture into the tin, give your batter bowl a few sharp blows by banging it on the table. This will get the big bubbles to rise to the top and burst.IMG_3437.JPG
  8. Now pour the mixture into the cake tin slowly making sure that as many of the big bubbles burst while the batter flows over the rim of the cake tin. Remember pouring the batter into the same portion of the tin and you will see that the batter flows around the tin without trapping more air.IMG_3463.JPG
  9. Now put the cake into the oven. Make sure that the oven thermometer shows 170 °C and put the cake tin as lowest in the oven as you can. It is critical to have more heat at the bottom than the top or else the top will brown, crack, become dry and start to sink before your baking is done. At around 15 to 20 minutes, you cake would have risen and start to crack. The entire baking time takes about 55 minutes.IMG_3464.JPG
  10. Once baking is done, overturn the cake and let it cool. Use a funnel to elevate the cake. This is important because if the cake is too close to your tabletop, condensation takes place and you will spoil the surface of the cake. To speed up the cooling process, you can drape a wet towel over the cake tin. This takes about 60 minutes. Once your cake is cooled, it’s time to remove it from the tin.FullSizeRender.jpg
  11. Use a sharp knife and with one movement separate the sides of the cake from the tin, pressing your blade as firm as possible on the cake tin.IMG_3493.JPG

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Pineapple Tarts 黄梨塔huáng lí tǎ

photo-11-1-17-3-17-20-pmIt is the time of the Year! With the Chinese New Year around the corner, you can find pineapple tarts just about everywhere in Singapore or Malaysia . Every bakery that churns them out is claiming that it’s tarts are the best. But I found out today these melt-in-mouth homemade tarts with buttery crumbly pastry and fresh homemade pineapple jam are the BEST I’ve had so far. It calls for simple and fresh ingredients with minimized use of sugar. No preservatives added at all.

 Makes 100 pieces  

Wrappers

  • 510g                      plain flour/all purpose flour 中筋面粉
  • 350g          unsalted butter
  • 100g                      condensed milk 炼乳
  • 2 egg yolks   room temperature

Homemade pineapple filling (pineapple jam)

  • 3       ripe pineapples
  • 250g      granulated sugar 白砂糖

Method

Step 1  make pineapple filling/jam

  1. Peel the pineapples. Cut away some of the core but not totally remove it (By leaving small part of core so the jam has some bites in.) Cut into small cubes.
  2. Put 1/4 of the pineapples into a blender till it becomes puree (do not add water). Do the same with the rest of pineapple cubes.
  3. Sift the pineapple puree so to remove some of the juices. Don’t throw the juices away – the byproduct makes a couple of glasses of good fruit juice.photo-11-1-17-6-19-32-pm
  4. Cook sifted the pineapple puree in a wok or sauce pan over medium heat for about 10 minutes till juice almost evaporates.
  5. Now add in sugar. The mixture will turn watery again after sugar added. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon for about 15 minutes till it becomes a thick paste.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 60 minutes. Stir from time to time to avoid burning.
  7. Scoop out the pineapple jam into to bowl and let it cool completely. Scoop a small portion (10g) and use your hand to shape it into a ball. If you find it is too watery to difficult to make it into a ball, just place the jam the fridge for a few hours then try again.Photo 11-1-17, 9 39 22 PM.jpg

 Step 2   make the wrappers

  1. Sift the flour. 面粉过筛
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes. Use your fingertips to rub butter in the flour till the mixture resembles bread crumb.
  3. Add into the mixture the egg yolks and condensed milk. Use your hand to combine them together till it becomes a soft dough. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes.Photo 11-1-17, 9 41 01 PM.jpg

Step 3   Assemble

  1. Divide the pineapple filling/jam into 100 portions (8g each) and roll them into a small ball
  2. Roll the dough into 100 portions balls (10g each) and roll them into a small ball
  3. Flatten a piece of the dough ball, place a pineapple jam ball in the middle. Bring the edges together and press tightly to seal. Roll it in between your palms to shape it into a ball.
  4. Use a paring knife, cut the criss-cross shape on the top to create pineapple pattern. Or use any fun or desired small-size cookie cutter or pastry cutter that you happen to have at home.Photo 11-1-17, 6 21 24 PM.jpg
  5. Place all the little pastries on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  6. Apply egg wash with a brush. Try to brush the entire pastry ball including top and sides.
  7. Preheat the oven to 165℃. Place the baking try in the upper deck of the oven. Bake for 24 minutes or till they become golden brown.Photo 11-1-17, 9 54 22 PM.jpg
  8. Cool completely before enjoying.Photo 11-1-17, 9 53 19 PM.jpg

Clay Pot Rice煲仔饭bāo zǎi fàn

IMG_0689.JPGIt is a traditional Cantonese dish but now becoming popular throughout China. The rice is slowly cooked in a clay pot, giving the dish a distinctive flavor. It is typically served with Cantonese-style cured pork and vegetables. A perfectly cooked clay pot rice has a great flavor of all the ingredients, with nicely crisped and scorched rice on the bottom of the pot.

Serves 4-6,

  • 2 cups Thai Jasmine rice泰国香米
  • 2 cups and 2 tablespoons plain water in room temperature
  • 4 Cantonese-style sausage广式香肠
  • 2 slices ginger姜片
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons light soy sauce生抽
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce蚝油
  • 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar 白糖
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil香油

Serving with

2 Bok Choy青菜

4 green onions, chopped (optional)

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 Method

  1. Rinse the rice carefully and then soak with clean water (2 cups and 2 tablespoons) for around 15 minutes.IMG_0628.JPG
  2. In the meantime, slice the sausage into thin slices.IMG_0629.JPG
  3. Bring the pot to a boil, turn to the low-medium heat and continue to cook the rice for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid, add ginger slices firstly and then top with sausage slices. Drizzle oil over the edges. Cover the pot. Turn to low heat and cook the rice for 30 minutes.IMG_0691.JPG
  5. In the meantime, blanch the bok choy in a pot of boiled water. Drain and set aside. Let’s also make the sauce. Get a clean bowl, add into all sauce ingredients. Mix well.

6. Remove the lid of the pot. Place onto the bok choy. Sprinkle all the sauce evenly over the top of the pot.

7. Use a big spoon to stir everything together to make sure all grains of rice are nicely coated with sauce. Do not miss those beautifully crisped rice on the bottom of the pot!IMG_0682.JPG

Mini Egg Cakes 鸡蛋糕

Let's Play Dough

IMG_0117Without a drop of oil/a bit of fat added, these old-styled Chinese egg cakes are light, healthy and just delicious. They also bring back a lot of childhood memory. At that time, cakes were a novelty because nobody owned an oven to make them at home. They were only available at a few shops in the town. Everyday my sister and I could not wait for our mum coming back home from work because we could always happily find these yummy cakes in her purse. I tweaked the traditional recipe by adding dried cranberry and a handful of nuts.

Makes 12 egg cakes,

  • 75g                   cake flour 低筋面粉 (all-purpose or plain flour works it just doesn’t produce a cupcake as soft as cake flour)
  • 3                        large eggs   room temperature
  • 60g    …

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Char Siu (Chinese Barbeque Pork)叉烧肉chā shāo ròu

cover-new.JPGA surprisingly easy way to make Char Siu, Chinese Barbeque Pork or chā shāo ròu by cooking it straight in the wok. Though it still cannot beat a charcoal roasted Char Siu, it is addictive in its own right. The cut of meat is important.  You can use pork collar, shoulder or belly. Basically, you want to have a strip of meat with enough fat surrounding it so that it will remain juicy after roasting.

Serving 4-6

  • 1000g                       pork (use the pork shoulder or pork collar)
  • 2 tablespoons         cooking oil

Cooking sauce

  • 1 teaspoon            salt
  • 1 teaspoon            sesame oil香油
  • 1 teaspoon             dark soy sauce老抽
  • 1 teaspoon             white ground pepper白胡椒粉
  • 1 tablespoon         honey蜂蜜
  • 2 tablespoons        caster sugar白糖
  • 2 tablespoons        Hoisin sauce海鲜酱
  • 1 tablespoon          Chinese cooking wine
  • 2/3 teaspoon            five-spice powder五香粉
  • 2 cups                   water in room temperatureIMG_0495.JPG

Method

  1. Place oil to a heated wok over a medium heat. Place the pork in the wok. Brown the both sides of the pork. This takes about 5 minutes.IMG_0684
  2. Let’s make the cooking sauce. Get a bowl, place all the ingredients of cooking sauce and mix well.IMG_0500.JPG
  3. Pour the cooking sauce into the wok. Bring it to a boil. Then cover the work with a lid. Cook over low-medium heat for 45 minutes. Open the lid and flip the pork a few times over the course.

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4. You will see the sauce gradually reduced. When the sauce becomes thick gravy, turn off the heat.

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5. Place the pork in a cutting board. Slice the pork. Place it. Then pour the gravy on top of the dish.

Pumpkin Chinese Steamed Bun金瓜馒头jīn guā mán tóu

coverThis is I call the Chinese version of dinner rolls and it can be an easy and healthy breakfast option as well. The golden yellow Chinese Steamed Bun or mán tóu, are made with fresh pumpkin. It has mild sweet flavor with soft and fluffy texture. You may make lots of these pumpkin mantou ahead of time and freeze it. To serve, just steam it again until softened.

 Yields about 20 Bun (Mantou),

  • 220 g             pumpkin flesh (peeled and sliced) 新鲜南瓜 for making pumpkin purée
  • 1 and half teaspoons      yeast酵母
  • 2 tablespoons       lukewarm water (40°C)
  • 250g                       plain flour 中筋面粉
  • 40g                          caster sugar 白糖
  • 1 and half tablespoon      cooking oilingredients.JPG

 Method

  1. To make pumpkin purée, remove the skin and seeds, thinly slice it then cover the bowl with cling wrap and put in microwave in high heat for 4 minutes. The Use a spoon to smash the pumpkin to make the purée. Cool it off.IMG_0619.JPG
  2. Resolve the yeast in 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water in 40℃.FullSizeRender.jpg
  3. Mix together plain flour and caster sugar. Add in resolved yeast and cooled pumpkin purée, mix well. Add in vegetable oil, mix into a dough. Knead the dough for about 6 minutes, until the outer is smooth. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If your dough is drier, add in a bit more water. If it is sticky, lightly coat hand with flour when kneading.IMG_0620.JPG
  4. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.IMG_0594.JPG
  5. Divide the rested dough into 2 equal pieces.IMG_0595
  6. Roll out one dough into thin rectangular shape dough, then roll up tightly into a rod shape. Cut into 10 portions using pastry knife.IMG_0623.JPG
  7. Arrange them on a parchment paper-lined bamboo basket. Leave some space between each as the buns will expand when steaming. Repeat the process with the other piece of dough. If you do not have the bamboo basket, any stainless steamer will work fine. Just make sure the lid has a hole as the hole helps prevent the condensation water from dripping onto buns, Cover the bamboo baskets and let them proof for 20 minutes. This is we call the second proof/rest.IMG_0604.JPG
  8. Fill a steamer pot or wok with water and bring the water to a boil. Place onto the stack of bamboo baskets or any the stainless steamer you would have. Cover the steamer. Turn to the high heat and cook for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat. Don’t open the lid yet. Let it rest for 2 minutes then open the lid.IMG_0606.JPG
  9. Enjoy your fluffy and chewy Mantou!results.jpg

Homemade Chinese Rice Wine 蔡妈妈家酿糯米酒jiā niàng nuò mǐ jiǔ

Photo 16-2-17, 4 33 11 PM (1).jpg This  gentle, sweet-sour, marvelously aromatic homemade liquor is a common flavoring for all kinds of  China regional cuisines. You can find the rice wine (sometimes called Chinese Cooking Wine) in the Asian supermarkets, but the homemade version is much more delicious and it is surrisingly easy to make. No preservative is added. It keeps for ages in the fridge.

Yields 1.5 – 2 litres of Rice Wine

 Ingredients

  • 1800g           White Glutinous Rice白糯米
  • 20-25g          Wine Yeast 酒曲or酒药 (It is available in a little white ball about an inch in diameter or a biscuit and can be spotted in clear package in the Asian grocery markets. A simple recipe is sometimes written in the package.)
  • Water
  • 50g       Vodka (optional)photo-14-2-17-9-09-04-am-1Equipment
    • A big mixing bowl
    • A colander 漏勺/滤锅
    • Parchment paper (烘培纸) or cheesecloth or 棉纱布
    • A 6-quart airtight container
    • A steamer  蒸锅            Photo 14-2-17, 9 13 50 AM (1).jpg

    Method

    1. Sanitation is very important. Make sure all the equipments and your hands are well cleaned and air dry. Everything that touches the rice at every stage must be absolutely clean. If there is even a whisper of oil or contamination anywhere along the way, the whole batch could go bad in an instant.
    2. Rinse the glutinous rice in running water till water becomes clear. Soak the rice in the clean room-temperature water for at least 3 hours. (No need to cover.) Drain.IMG_7671.JPG
    3. Place parchment paper (or a clean wet cheesecloth) in the basket of the steamer. Add into the rice. Use chopsticks to gently stir to loosen the rice. This would help water steam go through for a fast and even cooking in the process followed.IMG_7672.JPG
    4. Cook over high heat for 25 minutes after the water starts boiling. In the middle of the process, insert chopsticks in the rice and move up and down for a couple of times. This step helps loosen the rice for the same reason mentioned in the step #5. The rice shall become sticky and translucent if it is properly cooked. Move the rice to a colander. Rinse in the running water to cool it off. Be very careful as the rice is quite hot. Drain.IMG_7673
    5. Use a rolling pin to break down the wine yeast to make it almost powder. Move the rice into an airtight bowl by batches. Sprinkle the wine yeast powder on top of each batch of the cooked rice. Gently pat and press down the rice to tighten the mix in the container.Photo 16-2-17, 10 41 29 PM (1).jpg
    6. Add a 250 gram room-temperature water in a clean bow, form a well of 7-8cm in diameter in the center of the rice, rinse your hands in the water to make sure no yeast left in your hands. Then pour all the water into the well.IMG_7675.JPG
    7. Cover the container. Seal it with cling film or plastic bag. Keeping the mix WARM for 2-3 days is also very important. You can even wrap the container with a kitchen towel or a bath towel. Place the container in a place undisturbed with ideal room temperature of 28-30℃.Photo 16-2-17, 10 43 16 PM (1).jpgIn 24 hour later, you have the option of opening the cover and pour into 50g Vodka on top of the rice. Then cover and re-wrap the container again.  The alcohol helps prolong shelve life of the fina product of your rice wine. You can leave the bottled wine on the shelve of your pantry for many months. You have the option of not storing it in the fridge.add Vodka.JPG
    8. In 48 hours or so later, uncover the container. The mass of fermented rice shall float on top of the wine. Use a really clean spoon to gently press down the fermented rice. You should see wine comes out on the top of the container. Taste the wine. It should be sweet and alcoholic. Rice wine is successfully done now. Or let the mix ferment for another day until you like the balance of the flavors. Then refrigerate. It will keep for many months. But I doubt that it will be hanging around that long once you try it.Photo 16-2-17, 10 50 16 PM (1).jpg