Monday, August 27, 2012

Stem Ginger in Syrup Homemade

I tasted stem ginger ice cream from a tub for the very first time and was it good! Stem ginger in syrup is not common right here in Singapore although pickled ginger is. It is also hard to find in our supermarkets. I saw a small little bottle in one of the higher end supermarket a few weeks ago and it was going for about S$10! That is for ginger?

I am definitely going to make stem ginger ice cream myself but driving 15 km away to that particular supermarket to get that tiny S$10 bottle of stem ginger in syrup is no go for me. Well, here I go again, I love to explore and experiment on food that is difficult and hard to find. I decided to make my own stem ginger in syrup. I figure I can use it in ice cream, puddings, cakes, panna cotta and many more.

I went to the fresh market to buy a big knob of young ginger and went home to start on it immediately. You will need to sterilise a clean mason jar or any glass jar you can get hold of. Some brown and white sugar to go along with it and that's it.

Stem Ginger in Syrup


A sterilised glass jar
A huge knob of young ginger
1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup white sugar
1 /2 cup brown sugar


Boil a kettle of water to sterilise the glass jar, air dry the jar. Set aside.
Peel the ginger and cut it into ping pong size pieces.
Put the ginger pieces into a medium pot, fill up with just enough water to cover the ginger pieces.
Bring to boil, once boiled, strain out the water into another pot.
Return the ginger pieces into the medium pot and again fill the pot with water to cover the pieces.

Bring it to boil again and repeat the process for another round. That means three times of boiling and reserving the liquid every time.
You can make use of the liquid for ginger tea, add honey and lemon, try it.
Now make the syrup in the same medium pot. Put the white and brown sugar together with the 1 1/2 cups of water and boil to make a syrup.
Add in the pieces of ginger and continue to simmer for another half an hour until the syrup has a thicker consisitency.

Cool completely, store in the jar and refrigerate for another 7 days before using.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tender Blueberry Cake

I always have left over stuff in my fridge, the other day it was buttermilk. The buttermilk was left over from the Red Velvet Cupcakes. So I used the buttermilk in some blueberry pancakes for breakfast. After that I had to think of what to do with an extra punnet of blueberries because I bought 2 punnets for the pancakes. 
Fortunately, I had to bring a dessert to my Parents' In Law's place for dinner, so I had a need to use up those lovely blueberries.
This cake was simple to make and I whipped it up in no time. My nephew commented that it looks heavy when he saw it, "we shall see", I said. After baking, it looks solid because of the extra sprinkling of sugar on top so it looked crusty. But when you cut into it, passed the crust, it was so soft inside. Oh my goodness, the cake was so tender and simply melt in your mouth.
This recipe is a keeper and easy to whip up to bring to a friend's place.
 See the crackled top! Thats what I want!
 Blueberry Cake
115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
110 g fine sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
190 g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
80 ml milk                  

2 egg whites
50 g fine sugar
125 g fresh blueberries
1 tbsp cake or plain flour

1 tbsp fine sugar
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) Grease and line with greaseproof paper a 18 cm (7 inch) square pan or 20 cm (8 inch) round pan.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt together.
Cream butter and 110g of sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract.

Separate egg yolks and the egg whites and put the whites aside. Add egg yolks one at a time to the mixture and beat until creamy.                   

Add the flour alternately with milk to the mixture. Coat blueberries with 1 tablespoon flour and add to batter.
In a separate bowl, beat whites until soft peaks form. Add 50g of sugar, in a slow steam and beat until just under stiff peaks form. (Egg whites still shiny)

Fold egg whites into batter using a spatula. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.                

Bake for 50 minutes, or until cake tester inserted, comes out clean.  

Put on wire rack to cool.             


    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Soy Milk (Homemade and Organic)

    I have wanted to make my own soy milk for the longest time. My family members told me not to bother as it is pretty cheap and easily available in Singapore. "Spend your time making more desserts for us" they would say.

    I was in the supermarket the other day, I could not resist picking up the packets of organic soy beans which were staring straight at me. It was 2 to 3 times more expensive than normal beans but I was sure going to make my very first soy milk.

    To justify, I have to let my family know that it is ORGANIC so it will be different from those selling in the food market stalls.

    All you need are a blender, a big sieve, a muslin bag or a bag used for extracting coconut milk and a big pot. Easy!

    Well, it was delicious, tasted real rich and good and my family can really tell the difference. So I suppose they would not stop me from making soy bean milk anymore. It was worth the effort to make a healthy drink full of proteins. I must always remember to start a day earlier if I want to make for them as you have to soak the beans overnight or at least 10 hours.


    300g organic soy beans
    2.8 L of water (2800 ml)
    250g of sugar, less if you do not want it so sweet
    8 pandan leaves (optional)


    Wash beans thoroughly and soak them overnight or at least for 10 hours.


    The next day, remove and discard the loose skins of the beans and wash rinse them again in fresh water and drain well.


    Wash and tie the pandan leaves together.
    Divide the beans in four portions to put them in the electric blender. Remember to keep to 700 ml per portion to make up to 2.8 Litres of water.

    Blend them in short burst of 30 seconds until all the beans are blended well. Pour them out into a big sieve over a big pot.


    As the pulp still contain lots of milk, it is best to put it in the muslin bag and squeeze out the remaining milk into the sieve and strain over the pot.
    Do this in 3 more rounds.
    I suggest you strain the milk one last time to obtain a pulp free smooth milk.


    Put the pandan leaves in the pot of soy milk and bring to boil on medium heat.


    When it is boiled, turn the flame to low and simmer, add the sugar and stir it once in a while.
    Do not let it come to a rolling boil or else the milk will start to curd.
    Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes more and it will be ready.
    You can drink it hot or let it cool then chill it in the fridge to serve it cold.


    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Churros and Chocolate

    My family likes anything with cinnamon and chocolate, needless to say this is one of them because it has both ingredients in it.

    A churro, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut, is a fried dough pastry, predominantly choux based. They are fried until they become crunchy, and may be sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. The surface of a churro is ridged due to having been piped from a star-shaped nozzle.
    Churros are popular in Spain, France, Portugal and the United States. They are normally eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate or cafe con leche.

    We ate it everyday when we were in Barcelona because it was sold in every street corner alongside the Tapas restaurants. With a little effort, it is easily replicated at home however. The plate of hot churros will be polished in minutes, I assure you.


    Recipe adapted from Donna Hay
    Makes more than 50

    Cinnamon Sugar
    110g fine sugar
    2 tbsp ground cinnamon
    100g butter
    250 ml water
    150g plain flour
    1/4 tsp salt
    3 eggs
    vegetable oil, for deep frying
    Chocolate Sauce
    110g dark chocolate pieces
    140 ml milk
    1 tsp cornflour mixed with a few drops of water

    To make the chocolate sauce, place the milk in a small pot, bring it to boil. Lower to a small flame when it is boiled. 
    Add the chocolate pieces to the milk and stir till all dissolved. Add in the cornflour mixture to thicken the sauce.
    Leave the chocolate sauce in the pot and heat it up when you want to serve it if necessary.
    Mix the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
    Place the butter and water in another medium saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low.
    Add the flour and salt and beat with a wooden spoon until mixtures leaves the sides of the pan.
    Remove from heat. Place the mixture into an electric mixer, gradually add the eggs one at a time and beat for 2 minutes or until a smooth dough forms.
    Prepare the oil in the pan.
    Put the pastry in a piping bag attached with a star-shaped nozzle and pipe 10 cm lengths of the pastry into oil, in batches, using scissors to snip the lengths.
    Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown, drain on absorbent paper and toss in the cinnamon sugar to coat.
    Serve the churros dipped into the chocolate sauce.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012

    Porcini Risotto


    A whiff of the dried porcini will send me to well almost there.....Heaven. It is one of many God's gift to earth. Prized as an ingredient in various foods, Porcini is an edible mushroom held in high regard in many cuisines, and is commonly prepared and eaten in soups, pasta, stews, and risotto. Although it is sold commercially, it is very difficult to cultivate. Hence its high price.

    In Singapore, you can buy them in specialty food stores or specialty vegetable store in Tekka Market. Just a small amount like 50g will be able to feed 6. It will cost you less than S$10 for the porcini. You have to pay around S$25 for a plate of risotto with porcini in an Italian restaurant! I always have it in my fridge and I can whip up a gourmet Italian dinner in less than an hour.

    Next, the rice. For risotto, you can use Arborio (pronounced ar-boh-ree-oh) rice. Arborio rice comes from Italy. Its short, fat grains have a hard starchy center and a soft starchy shell. When cooked, the soft shell produces creaminess while the center remains crunchy.

    The stock is also very important. Arborio rice can absorb copious amount of stock, just get ready a big pot of stock to cook risotto.

    For 6
    30 to 40g dried Porcini mushrooms
    370 ml boiling water
    300g Aborio Rice
    2 1/2 litres of chicken stock
    125 ml white wine
    2 big brown onions, chopped
    4 cloves of garlic, chopped
    2 boneless chicken thighs, cut to bite sizes
    100g of smoked ham pieces, cut to small pieces
    3 to 4 tbsp of olive oil
    Pepper and sea salt to taste
    Grated Parmesan cheese to serve

    Wash the porcini mushroom, soak them in boiling water for 15 minutes.

    You can use ready made stock or boil 2 1/2 litres of water and throw in 2 chicken cubes. The pot of stock must be constantly simmering when you are cooking the risotto.

    After 15 minutes, strain and reserve the precious soaking liquid and finely chop the Porcini into small pieces and set aside.

    In a big pot, heat the olive oil, add big onions and garlic and fry till soft.

    Add chicken, ham and pepper and cook till chicken change colour. Add the rice and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
      Add the wine and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or until absorbed. Now add the reservedsoaking liquid, stir and let it absorb. Pour in the porcini mushrooms and stir through.

    Now add the chicken stock one big ladleful at a time, and cook, stirring continuously for 25 to 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente.

    Add more pepper and sea salt to taste.

    Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top of the risotto.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    Cinnamon Rolls

    I love anything cinnamon. The cinnamon craze many years ago has died down in Singapore and you could hardly find any stand alone cinnamon rolls bakery here. So I have to make my own if I want to eat any. After trying out a few recipes, I am quite happy to settle for Laura in the Kitchen's. It is simple and straight forward. I have just made a big batch for my son's rugby team mates.


    Recipe adapted from Laura In The Kitchen
    Makes 20 Rolls
    2 tsp Instant Yeast
    50g sugar
    60ml luke warm water

    180ml milk
    ¼ tsp of vanilla extract, optional
    1 egg
    1 tsp salt
    57g unsalted butter, melted
    500g of All Purpose Flour
    20g melted butter, to brush over the top before baking

    For the filling,
    75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
    155g brown sugar
    50g sugar
    1 1/2 Tbsp of ground cinnamon

    For the glaze,

    60g icing sugar
    ½ tsp of vanilla extract
    2 Tbsp  milk


    1) In a small bowl, combine the warm water and 1 tsp of the sugar (from the 50g), sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for about 5 minutes or till it foams.
    2) In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the egg, milk, salt, remaining sugar and melted butter. Add 250g of the flour slowly, vanilla extract and yeast mixture, mix until its all incorporated and scrape down the sides. Slowly add about 250g more of flour and scrape down the sides again. Turn the speed up to medium and let it mix for about 5 to 7 minutes or until you have a very smooth dough.


    3) Oil a large bowl with some butter or oil and set aside. Take the dough out of the mixer and pull it together with your hands to form a ball, flouring your hands if the dough is sticky. Place it in the oiled bowl and oil all sides of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot to rise for about 1 1/2 hours.
    4) In a small bow, mix together the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon for the filling, set aside.
    5) After 1 1/2 hours, or when doubled in size, punch the dough down and roll it out onto a floured surface into a 40x25 cm rectangle. The dough is soft, smooth, stretchy and non sticky.


    6) Spread by brushing the soft butter over the top and sprinkle evenly over the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Brush the sides with some milk.


    7) Staring from one of the long ends, tightly roll the dough into a jelly roll form. Cut into 18 to 20 slices (make sure they are even) and place them cut side down in a well buttered 23x33 cm baking pan with sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let put them back into a warm spot to rise for another 1 hour.


    8) Half an hour before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.


    9) Once risen, brush them with some melted butter and bake them for about 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Watching it and if it turns brown before the 25 minutes, cover it with a piece of foil to prevent burning. It is cooked if you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. It will also sound hollow if you tap it with a fork. You can now eat it while it is nice and warm or you can glaze it.


    10) This step is optional. While the cinnamon rolls cool. Make the glaze. Mix the vanilla extract with the icing sugar for the glaze in a bowl, slowly add the milk until you get a runny glaze consistency by stirring with a spoon. Spoon the glaze over the cinnamon rolls by drizzling it diagonally across the rolls and enjoy!

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    French Provencal roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic (Poulet aux 40 Gousses d'Ail)

    I first ate this dish in one of the rustic French restaurant in Singapore. I fell in love with it. This dish is simple, straightforward without fancy ingredients, yet packed with flavour and is very satisfying. The name of the dish which really uses forty cloves of garlic certainly sound like a lot, but slow cooking mellows and caramalises the garlic to a creamy sweetness.


    Don't be scared off with the number of cloves of garlic, you will definitely not have strong garlic breath after eating as well. Garlic cloves are nutty and mellow when cooked whole. Once you try this dish, you may say that forty cloves are not enough and end up adding even more garlic, because they are so delicious.

    Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic is traditionally baked or cooked in an earthenware dish. So at home, I used the claypot to cook this dish and simmer it over a low fire. You can really taste the wine and the sweetness of the onions and garlic in the sauce. Serve with good bread. Heavenly!

    1 big chicken, approx 1.6 kg
    40 cloves of garlic
    1 big onion, cut to quarters
    1/2 to 3/4 cup white wine
    1 cup chicken stock
    2 bay leaves
    3 sprigs of thyme
    salt & pepper to taste
    Boil a kettle of water to scald the 40 cloves of garlic for easy removal. After a couple of minutes, and viola, the skins of the garlic are easy peasy to peel.
    Cut the chicken into big pieces. Put some oil in a shallow pan and fry the pieces till golden brown. Dish up and set aside. Do not discard the remaining oil yet.
    In a big claypot, arrange half the chicken on the bottom, then stack with half the garlic pieces, half of the amount of onion pieces. one bay leaf and some thyme leaves. Layer again with the other half of the chicken pieces, onion, garlic and the herbs.
    Pour in the white wine and chicken stock.
    Cover and bring to boil in a medium heat.
    When the stock boils, bring the heat to low and slowly simmer for one and a half hours.
    Season with salt and pepper.Serve with a good crusty bread and a salad.


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