Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Recently I am obsessed with artisan breads. I made baguettes some time back and there was room for lots of improvement. I knew that I needed a good bread book on my bookshelf. After much consideration, I decided on Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which had some very good reviews, not only from the Amazon buyers, but other sources. I ordered mine through Amazon (as it's cheaper than asking Kinokuniya to bring in for me). I was really excited when the book arrived in my office, and surprising 'punctual' (on the first day of their estimated delivery period).

After getting the book, I was reading for about 2 weeks, yes, there is a lot of useful background info, from the type of yeasts, flours to the baking techniques etc. Finally decided on a ciabatta recipe using a biga (an Italian style firm pre-ferment).

As a pre-ferment is involved, this recipe took 2 days to complete. The first day for preparation of biga and letting it rest chilled overnight, and the next day to continue with 3 fermentations and finally baking. Ciabatta doughs are notorious for being very very wet, some are almost pourable. It is this which accounts for the large holes so important to an authentic ciabatta. See here for a pic of a gorgeous ciabatta. For mine, it was not as wet as I expected, I should probably have held back some of the flour or added more water. As a result, I didn't manage to get the 'hole-y' crumb that I had hope for, but it's a good start to more rustic bread making.

Another look

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wholesome Grains

Yesterday is one of those days when I want to bake something, but don't want to wash too many bowls. Actually washing up is one of the things I dread the most, but since I can't escape from this 'package', can't complain too much too.

The following cookies suited my mood just fine. I've only used two bowls, one fork, a baking tray and viola! These were ready in about an hour.

These Cinnamon Oat Cookies are modified based on Gina's(KC) recipe for Oat Cookies. I have a pack of baby oats which I have a hard time finishing, so these helped to use up a bit.

Crunchy butterless cookies with a hint of cinnamon, lovely with a cuppa coffee. Oh by the way, oats are supposed to be good for health and the digestive system. Another reason to munch on these cookies.

Cinnamon Oat Cookies (the original recipe is here)

Makes about 45 pieces of 1½ inches diameter

180g plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 to 1½ tsp ground cinnamon (depending on how ‘cinnamon-y’ you like it)
1/8 tsp salt
60g castor sugar
30g light brown sugar
90g baby oats(rolled oats is fine too)
125ml Sunflower Oil
1 egg(beaten)


1) Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add sugar and oats to mix.
2) Mix together oil and egg. Add to flour mixture and mix to form a dough.
3) Using a spoon, roll dough into balls (about 1 inch). Place on a lined baking sheet and flatten slightly.
4) Bake in preheated 180C oven for 15 to 20 mins or until golden brown.
5) Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Quick and Delicious

I believe many of those living in Malaysia would be very familiar with 'Chicken' Biscuits, or know as 'Ji Zai Bing' (Mandarin) or 'Gai Zai Beng'(Cantonese). When I was young I loved these biscuits. Nowadays when I go to Malaysia I would also buy some back. Of course, they are also available in locally. But somehow the taste seems to have changed, and I still prefer the taste last time (feeling a bit nostalgic here).

When I saw this recipe posted by a member of KC, I jumped at the chance of making my own Gai Zai Beng. These turned out to be lovely, and the taste is as good, if not better, than store-bought ones. The best thing is, it doesn't require the use of lard. It's also very easy to make. So my friends, take a bite.

For lunch today, I used Zu's recipe to make some 'fried' wings. These are actually baked in the oven. Extremely tasty and easy to do. The crispyness is comparable, I should say better, than deep-fried wings. Of course, most importantly, it's a healthier alternative.

Rustic Goodness

As you might have noticed, I'm a huge bread addict. As such, I'm always on the hunt for new bread recipes. So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to bake this, simply because it has two of my favourite terms - rustic and bread.

Rustic breads have always been my favourite, but I am attempting to bake these types of breads only recently. I want to be as authentic as possible, I even bought a baking stone in order to achieve the nice crust characteristic of rustic breads. So here is my Rustic Potato Loaf, with a moist interior and crispy crust.

If you look at the original recipe by Gattina, you would have noticed a vast difference between our loaves. I'm embarrassed to say, my skills still have a long way to go. Gattina is one who bakes some very beautiful breads and also takes excellent photos. Er.. so for my loaf, pardon my skills. But the taste come first, aesthetics can be improved along the way.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Char Char Char

After all that pork dishes from the last post, I don't wish to bore you. But can I just show two more dishes with pork as the ingredients?

I made this char siew using a recipe from one of the members in KC. This recipe actually calls for grilling the char siew. Coincidentally, I found a recipe for 'Shanghainese Wok Fried Char Siew' in one of my recipe books. So I combined these two and got this.

I found that by preparing the char siew this way, it is not as dry as grilling directly. Also saves me from switching on the oven just for grilling.

After preparing the char siew, I turned them into these pastries.

I used a recipe for 'Siew Pau' from Kuali. However, the skin turned out to be more flaky like 'Char Siew Soh'. It has been a long time since I had Siew Pau, so I cannot remember how the skin is supposed to be like. But anyway, these pastries turned out to be flaky and quite good I must say. So now I must go in search of the 'true' Siew Pau.

This recipe for Char Siew is kindly shared by a member of Kitchen Capers. I just modified the quantity and the method of cooking.

Ingredients :

500g pork belly (pork must have some fat in it to be tender. Do not use lean pork loin)

Marinade :
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce (I omitted this)
2 1/2 tbsp soya sauce
1 1/2 tbsp dark soya sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 piece red fermented beancurd
1/2 tbsp chinese wine
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1) Cut pork belly into 3/4 to 1 inch thickness. I didn't cut as I used two separate pieces bought from the supermarket.
2) Mix all the ingredients for marinade together and marinate pork pieces for at least 4 hours, even better overnight in the refrigerator.

Method for wok frying - adapted from the recipe 'Shanghainese Pan-Fried Char Siew' in the book Hawkers' Fare - Best of All Times Favourites.

1) It's best to use a non-stick wok(mine's anodized and cleans easily) for this, otherwise you'll have a hard time scrubbing later.
2) When ready to cook, add 250 ml of water into the wok and pour in the marinade from the pork. Bring to a boil.
3) Add in the pork pieces. Once the water boils again, lower the flame to medium. Let the mixture slowly simmer, uncovered. Turn the pork over every 3-4 minutes.
4) Once the water has dried up, lower the flame to small. Pan-fry the pork until your desired level of crisp-ness and 'charred-ness'. Watch it carefully to prevent burning.
5) Dish up, slice and enjoy.

If you prefer to grill, here is the method from the original recipe.
1) Take meat out from refridgerator 1/2 hour before grilling.
2) Grill/broil the meat until cooked. While grilling, turn the meat 3-4 times to allow even browning.
3) When meat is cooked, brush with honey glaze(1 tbsp honey mixed with 1 tbsp water) and remove.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Two Lunches

I gave myself a long holiday. Since yesterday's a public holiday, I also took leave on Thursday, wanted to get some rest. Well, I guess it's half rest, the other half spent in the kitchen.

Managed to cook a simple pasta lunch for lunch yesterday. You may have noticed I quite like Italian fare. That's one of my weakness, besides japanese food. Tried to create a dish which we have frequently enjoy in a food court. It's actually fettucine with prawns and rucola leaves in a tomato-cream sauce. I whipped up one using vermicelli with squid and prawns. Here it is.

As for today, we went 'Chinese'. Cooked a simple soup, simple by putting all the ingredients into the slow cooker and just let it boil. As my hubby likes pork dishes, I prepared one by using a recipe from the book Hawkers' Fare Simplified. Verdict: not bad at all.

Recipe for Pork Loins in Tomato Sauce

This recipe is adapted from the recipe Supreme Pork Chop in the book Hawkers Fare Simplified.

300g pork loin

½ tbsp oyster
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sesame oil
½ a beaten egg
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp kiwi juice *

2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp chilli sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp light soya sauce
3 tbsp water

60g corn flour

Oil for deep frying

1) Cut pork loins into 1 cm thick pieces and pound with the back of the cleaver. Add in the marinade ingredients and mix well. Marinate for at least 1 hr (I prefer overnight).
2) Add in corn flour and mix to coat. Heat up oil. Put in pork loins and deep fry until golden brown. Drain.
3) Leave about 1 tbsp oil in wok, add in sauce and cook until slightly thickened. Add in fried pork loins and mix well to coat evenly. Dish up and serve.

* The original recipe uses bicarbonate of soda. I replaced with kiwi juice, which also has tenderizing effects.
** The above recipe is only half recipe for my family of two. Double all ingredients if you have a big family to feed.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I haven't been doing much baking and cooking for the past week. Finally managed to churn out some buns today. These are made using my Sesame Sweet Buns recipe, I just adjusted the amounts of ingredients to fit my baking pan.

Nothing beats freshly baked bread from the oven. I simply love the aroma that fills the kitchen while the buns are being baked.

Before I end off, just want to say thanks to someone. Today I received a package all the way from the States. It's from a friend, who very kindly mailed me some recipes and info on making rustic breads. Cat, if you're reading this, my heartfelt thanks to you. I hope I will be able to succeed in making these type of breads.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Grissini Torinesi

I've been looking for a recipe for Italian Grissini for some time. I can't remember what got me hooked on these breadsticks, but I vaguely recall I had some really nice ones at an Italian restaurant. As usual, I thought it might be good if I can make my own, can satisfy my craving and save some money.

This recipe is from the book Ultimate Bread by Eric Treullie, the same book where the french baguette recipe is from. It's also kindly posted by the same KC member. I did not follow the full instructions though, replacing the plain flour with half bread flour and half plain flour, simply because I ran out of the latter. Not sure if the bread flour played a part, but the resulting grissini had just the right balance of crunch(the exterior) and chew (on the insides).

Perfect for dipping into a steaming bowl of soup or just munch on it, like what I did with five sticks as soon as they were cool enough to eat.

Monday, May 01, 2006

'Labour Day'

Today is Labour Day, a public holiday here. What better day to make something that's time-consuming, but all worth the time and effort?

After seeing Seadragon's Dim Sum Chicken Pies, my hands are itching to make some. I'm also using the recipe from the book 'Chinese Dim Sum in Pictures', which is the same as Seadragon's. But I used all butter for the pastry cases and used smaller fluted moulds. The filling is prepared using a recipe from KC.

These are my Chicken Dim Sum Tartlets.

I really shouldn't have made mini ones, as they are so addictive and I had stop myself from popping them one by one into my mouth. Hubby also couldn't stop eating.

Also made a few items yesterday (should have posted them together in yesterday's post)

A basic tomato sauce which I plan to use for pastas and pizzas. Recipe courtesy of Giselle of KC.

Great as a dip for warm, toasted foccacia.

Grilled a chicken for a simple dinner, using Gina's recipe. Pardon my poor presentation skills on this, though it doesn't look impressive in this picture, the taste is fantastic.

Lastly, a simple pound cake for dessert.