Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nutty Fruit Cake

Here's another recipe to add that extra pounds to your weight and waist but I only eat this once a year... Nutty Fruit Cake. As I was sharing this cake with my friends over lunch, we reminisced the times where we received fruit cakes as wedding favours years ago. Now we get chocolates, little knick knacks and cutesy stuff. But I have always loved fruit cakes at weddings, but just a tad too sweet. In my version here it is healthier with nuts and less sugar. Hope you enjoy this.

The Outside

The inside

A 200g butter, 140g brown sugar
Cream till light

B 3 eggs
Add B and cream till smooth

C 180g plain flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder
Sieve in C and mix till well blended

D 100g almonds, 100g chopped walnuts
Add in D and mix well

E 300g mixed fruits, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 4 tbsp orange juice in replacement of brandy
Throw in E and mix well

Pour it onto a greased pan and bake at 170deg C for 1 hr.
Sprinkle with some icing sugar when cooled.

Adapted from: Alex Goh Fruity Cakes

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Vegetarian Pasta Salad

Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks for tuning in to my blog and leave with me so many wonderful comments.

As the year comes to an end, I would like to present the next few Christmas recipes to come, which I will use to whip up lovely dishes for my guests and relatives this Christmas. As you can see, I'm a very lazy person and I like no fuss recipes. They are mostly made up of a few recipes or only a few easy steps.

I'm not a Christian, but I like the idea of giving and sharing, gathering with some friends over honey baked ham, roast chicken and many more! The past few weeks have been torturous with many many rounds of log cakes, sweets, chocolates and stuff people give. I need to give my stomach a break! With the start of my year end feast and non-stop sweet delicacies, I will specially prepare a healthy vegetarian pasta salad that only consists of yes, Vegetables! I was shopping in Marks & Spencer one day and I came across their shelves of kitchen products like canned mushroom soup, minestrone soup, salad dressing etc. Game for something different, I picked up the French Salad Dressing for my pasta. Here's the 20min recipe to go, in the theme of red and green:

Pasta on Day 1
For one serving
Pinch of chopped garlic
about 4-5 button mushrooms, destemmed and sliced
1 tsp chopped red pepper
2-3 florets of broccoli
some olive oil for frying
About 1-2 cups of fusilli
Seasoning (some salt, oregano, chopped parsley and rosemary)

Pasta on Day 2

Bring pasta to boil then drain off excess water. Use water to boil broccoli for a while
Heat oil in a pan and saute garlic with mushrooms and red paper till almost ready
Add seasoning and throw in broccoli (drained)
Remove and add into pasta
Add French dressing and toss well. Sprinkle some chopped parsely.

Enjoy folks. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Victoria Sponge Cake (without the buttercream)

This classic cake is named after Queen Victoria as it was usually enjoyed as an afternoon tea snack. It is easy to prepare and tasty to enjoy.

For the sponge
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 225g softened butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g self raising flour

For the filling (I only opt for jam without the butter cream)
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam

1. Heat oven to 180deg C
2. Break eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork
3. Pour butter and sugar in a bowl and beat them till pale and fluffy. Add eggs a little at a time and beating well after each addition
4.Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in with a spoon.
5. Divide equally into 2 round tins
6. Bake for 25min and let it cool
7. Put jam on one cake
8. Make buttercream by beating butter in a bowl until soft and creamy, followed by icing sugar gradually and milk with vanilla essence. Then beat mixture till pale and fluffy
9. Spread over the flat of other cake then gently press the cakes together
10. You can sprinkle icing sugar or caster sugar on top if desired

(Adapted from the Usborne Kids Baking Book)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where passion for food comes alive

I become very envious when someone's passion for food comes alive by opening sandwich chain after sandwich chain, and eventually a food cafe.

I've always wanted to open a cafe of my own, but I'm a risk averse person. I always stick to my own comfort zone and do what I think I'm comfortable with although my dream of opening my own cafe has been in the air for over 10 years since my polytechnic days. My idea is simple and executable, but I have low ambition and determination to make it really happen.
One fine day my very entrepreneurial friend decides to open a cafe of his own, along with a few others. I was invited to help take pictures of their food for the cafe. I wasn't sure if I was up to the job with my humble little camera, but the end product turned out positive, which made everyone very happy. I was happy too with the result as I upgraded my lens specially for this food photography.

Top: Seafood spaghetti and salmon scramble

Here are some snapshots of what I took, which they are selling at a tertiary institution in the north.

3 types of pies

Cream of Mushroom Soup


Beef Bolognaise Linguine


Breakfast Set


Italian Soda

Lychee Freeze

Hope you have enjoyed the visual treat :) and do pop by if you wish to try the food

Friday, November 20, 2009

Orange Cupcakes

I baked these wonderful Orange Cupcakes for my colleagues on my last day of work. Everyone has been so sweet to me and many of them bought me lunch, which some I never really expected. So, in appreciation of their kind gestures, I ordered my FAVOURITE yummy Chocolate Raspberry Early Grey Cake from Marriott Hotel and baked my own muffins. Nothing beats sharing freshly home baked muffins. I liked them myself!

And what I like about this muffin is it is light, sweet with the fragrance of orange, it is fruity, zesty and delicious. It's a simple recipe that only took me 20min to prepare/bake with the help of my dutiful Yani, my domestic helper.

All you need are :

120g softened unsalted butter
135g caster sugar
185g self raising flour (I always sift them)
125ml orange juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

3 tbsp grated orange zest
shredded orange zest to decorate

Preheat oven to 180deg C
Put all ingredients except orange zest in a bowl with electric mxier on low speed for 2 min.
Then increaase speed for another 2 min until smooth and pale.
Add orange zest. Stir briefly.
Divide mixture into muffin cups and bake for 20 min or till golden brown.
Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

To make icing, simply beat 60g of softened butter using electric beater till pale. Then add in 60g of icing sugar and 1 tbsp orange juice.

Spread over the muffin when muffins are cooled, and decorate with more zest on top if desired.

I reduced the sugar intake from the original recipe as it was a bit too sweet for me.

(Adapted from Baking: a commonsense guide)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wonderful Memories of Thailand (27 Oct) 09

Since this is my dedicated blog on food and only food (including drinks) I shall reserve my earnest desire to input any other things from my recent trip to Thailand here. All other comments on my trip can be found here. Ko Samet is a small island off Rayong province, 3 hrs from BKK. It has 14 beaches on the island and the sand is real fine and powdery. If you like the sun sand and sea, this is the place. But be prepared to travel a bit and get dirty on the roads as this island is still relatively undeveloped.

This is my 2nd trip to Thailand this year, in the same month! I'm embarking on a new career and hope to go for a short getaway before I start. I was off to Ko Samet Island in Thailand under a friend's recommendation, followed by a short BKK trip for 2 days and here's a preview of all the good food I enjoyed.

Day 1 on Samet Island: Dinner comprising Chicken with Basil leaves, pineapple fried rice, vegetables with pork

From top: Chicken with basil, pineapple rice and fried veg with pork and rice

It wasn't very fantastic but decent enough as there were many other patrons at this place. Other restaurants were either empty, or small and dark. They looked very dodgy so it was a no no for me.

From left: Mojito & Tequila Sunrise

Day 2: Breakfast was good at Samed Club. They have scrambled eggs, fried eggs, french toast, salad, fruits, cereals, juices, congee/fried noodles, ham, bacon, sausage, and different kinds of breads with a toaster. I didn't expect this good variety so I truly enjoyed it, esp dining by the beach front.

Dinner was good! Dining by the beach at night, on tatamis on the beach with mats. This is something I've never done before and it was a refreshing experience. To my surprise, this place is filled with Caucasian tourists and some Korean tourists as well. It looked quiet outside but once you step into this place, you see everyone packed at the beach house/restaurants smoking Shisha pipe, eating, drinking and dancing. Seafood was good and fresh, reasonably priced. One meal for 2 would hover around 600 baht (about 25 bucks). I particularly enjoyed the dinner on sand with Fireman show and live band with the waves hitting the shoreline and a cool breeze at night.

Above: Wide variety of seafood with shell fish, fish, tiger prawns, pork ribs, chicken and fish & chips

I got a good tan at Ao Wong Duen the next day with a nice orange shake by the beach. I had fried noodles for lunch. It was yummy. A typical shake would only cost you 50 baht. When you are melting under the sun bathed in suntan lotion, all you need is a can of ice cold coke or an orange shake.
Above: fried noodles with chicken at Sai Kaew Beach

From above: watermelon shake, pad thai and chicken cheeseburger with fries at a cafe near the pier

After we arrived in BKK, we headed to Chinatown for some good local 'zi char'. We ordered prawns. steam fish, crab meat omelette, crabmeat fried rice and a coconut drink. That only only cost $31 for 2. Next was dessert. Who could possibly miss the bird nest at Chinatown/Thailand? Although it can't be the real birds nest, it's still a nice dessert to have after a heavy meal.

From above: steam fish, fried rice, omelette and prawns in Chinatown

Above: Bird's Nest among other desserts in Chinatown

Above: spicy chicken noodle in Nam Tok style

From above: Pad Thai in Khao San

Of course there was shopping and more massages in BKK :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sweet Potato and Longan Soup

This is one of my favourite Chinese dessert that's so easy to prepare within minutes. Whenever I crave for something sweet, light, guilt-free and hassle-free, this is it. It is simply a concoction of sweet potatoes and dried longans, sweetened with rock sugar and red dates. I add some sliced ginger to give the zing, which helps 'spice' up the dessert.

Sweet potato is a wonderfully versatile root vegetable fruit that can be prepared and consumed in many ways. It can be eaten steamed, baked as a cake, eaten french fried, a dessert in either Chinese or Western styles. It is a good source Vitamin C, potassium, beta carotene and folic acid among others.

Longan, (Dragon Eyeball known for its resemblance to the eye), is another common fruit in Asia grown in temperatures no less than 4.5 deg C. Driged longan is used in making Chinese desserts. They are dried and dark brown and expands when boiled in water. It is sweet and is known to have an effect on relaxation.

For a simple dose of Sweet Potato and Longan Soup, all you need to prepare are:

1 to 1.5 l water
1/2 cup red dates

Sliced ginger
2/3 cup dried longans (washed and soaked)
1 cup diced sweet potato
Some cut fungus (washed, soaked and expanded)

1-2 tbs rock sugar

1. Bring 1 to boil.
2. Add in B and let it boil over small fire for 20min.
3. Add in C and stir thoroughly for another 20min.
4. Serve hot.

Optional: You may wish to add in 1/2 tbs of apricot seeds to the soup in Step 1 if desired.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Curry Cauliflower with Garlic Crumbs

This is an interesting and relatively easy recipe I came across in this book Three & Four Ingredients. Every recipe in this book aims to only use 3-4 ingredients, which makes cooking easy and hassle free! This 400 over recipe book is big and heavy. After flipping over the book the entire morning, I came across this recipe which I think I might succeed. A little adaptation was done with the addition of curry powder to spice things up and add some interesting twist to the flavour! Now this can be a good way to get your kids to eat their greens.

This dish makes a great accompaniment to any meat or fish dish.

All you need:

1 large cauliflower, cut into bitesize florets
130g breadcrumbs (crushed biscuits)
1 tbsp chopped garlic (or cloves)

90-120ml olive or vegetable oil
Salt and ground black pepper (I use normal white pepper)
2 - 3 tbsp curry powder (optional)

1. Steam or boil the cauliflower till soft. Drain and leave to cool
2. Heat 60-75ml of oil in a pan and add breadcrumbs and cook over medium heat. Toss and stir constantly till browned. Add garlic and curry powder (if desired) and continue frying. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Heat remaining oil in pan and fry the cauliflower till lightly browned
4. Add garlic breadcrumbs to the pan and stir till well combined with the cauliflower.
5. Season with some salt and pepper and serve.

Alternative: if you wish you may also fry with chopped chili padi to really spice it up!