Pandan Chiffon Cake

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My mother has been baking a lot recently and she’s only been baking this chiffon cake. She likes to perfect a cake before moving on to the next cake. So if she’s on to chiffon cake, it’s going to be chiffon cake for the next few months.

Anyway, I’m not really complaining because this pandan chiffon cake is leagues ahead of the store-bought ones. And it’s a local flavoured kind of cake so it’s popular amongst everyone, especially the elderly.

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately and in the midst of my unhappiness, I felt that I wanted to make other people happy so I decided to bake two cakes for the cleaners in school to eat for their tea break. I’ve always wanted to do something to show my appreciation for their hard work and also because most of them are old and cleaning toilets isn’t the easiest thing to do. The least that I could do was bake them something to show that someone actually appreciates what they do 🙂

Some aunties were quite lukewarm towards my gesture but some aunties were overjoyed and I guess even if I could only make one aunty smile, baking the cake would have been worth it 🙂 No words can describe the joy that filled my heart when I saw how genuinely happy the aunty was. I’m thankful that I can be a blessing to others through the talents God has blessed me with. I hope that in the midst of all our busyness, we remember to be a blessing to others!

Anyway, here’s the recipe for the Pandan Chiffon Cake! It’s a really easy cake to bake, takes less than 30 minutes, so there’s no excuse to not bake this for the people you love! 🙂

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Ingredients
5 egg yolks
20g of sugar
100g cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
100ml coconut milk
2 tbsp pandan juice
3 tbsp cooking oil

5 egg whites
60g sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Directions
1. Whisk egg yolks and 20g of sugar until thick.
2. Whisk in coconut milk and pandan juice.
3. Whisk in sieved flour and baking powder.
4. Whisk in cooking oil. Set aside.
5. In another bowl, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar and 60g of sugar until stiff peaks.
6. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the flour mixture.
7. Repeat until all the egg whites have been folded in.
8. Pour into mould (you can buy from Phoon Huat!) and place in preheated oven of 145 degrees Celsius.
9. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake has separated from the middle ring.

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Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Greek Salad

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School’s tiring and sometimes you need to self-declare a school holiday even though it has only been a week since school started 🙂 So on self-declared school holidays, I cook my own lunch and today I made pita breads stuffed with a mint yogurt grilled fish, roasted harissa carrots and a greek salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and feta cheese. I absolutely loved the greek salad because it had the right balance of sourness (from the cider vinegar), sweetness (from the honey) and saltiness (from the feta cheese). You can just eat it straight from the bowl or stuff it in some pita breads.

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Serves 4
Ingredients
1/2 cucumber, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey

Directions
1. Mix the cider vinegar, olive oil and honey together
2. Pour the dressing over the vegetables in a large bowl and serve 🙂

Courgette Cucumber Yogurt Dip

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In my last visit to London in June, Sandra and I met up with Esther and before that meeting, she texted me and warned me to leave enough luggage space for her birthday present 🙂 I was super excited to meet her (not just cause of my birthday present but also because I haven’t seen her in a year) and I was overjoyed that she remembered to buy a present for my birthday. I didn’t buy a present for her though because she was miles away ): Anyway, she surprised me with a Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook :))) And as always, my luggage did not have enough space so I had to hand carry it onto the plane back to Singapore hahaha.

So as part of her birthday present (since I didn’t give her any), I invited her over for lunch and I cooked her a meal of Shakshuka (refer to previous post) and this courgette cucumber yogurt dip to go with the homemade pita breads.

I loved how refreshing this dip was. It was especially needed on that day because it was so hot and humid. Yogurt, cucumber and mint? I’ll say yes to that on any sunny day.

The Kaffir lime leaves were an interesting, exotic addition to this dish. Okay maybe not that exotic considering how almost every single recipe in the cookbook had an ingredient that I had never come across (Dakos?!?). However, I felt that the browned butter added at the end was unnecessary. The dip would work excellent without the butter. So here’s my version of Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Yogurt and Kaffir Lime Leaf Spread’

Serves four
Ingredients
1 small courgette
1/2 cucumber, grated
6 large fresh Kaffir lime leaves, roughly chopped
250g Greek yoghurt
2 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp shredded mint leaves
1 garlic clove, grated
salt

Directions
1. Mix the courgette and cucumber in a colander with 1/2 tsp of salt.
2. Leave to drain for about 20 minutes then squeeze them to remove as much liquid as possible.
3. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the lime leaves, mint, grated garlic and yogurt and mix well.

Shakshuka & Pita Bread

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I always wanted to try making this dish after spotting it at Habitat Coffee but I was missing a key ingredient, Harissa paste. To all Singaporeans, here’s the great news. I found it. The all important, life-saving Harissa paste. It costs $6.50 for a small bottle and is sold in Marks and Spencer. Don’t underestimate the flavour of this paste because adding that one teaspoon transforms the entire dish. It elevates an Italian-like tomato stew to this most amazing North African dish.

After buying the Harissa paste, there was no more excuse to not make this dish. So I invited Esther over for lunch today and she was just as excited to make this dish as I was 🙂 Thank God she tried Shakshuka before in a cafe so she knew what the ideal taste was. For me, I was just making this dish because it looked amazing. So I had no idea how it was supposed to taste like. But damn, I was blown away by the final product.

541A0740You have to eat this with bread or just something to dip with. We made our own pita breads to go with our Shakshuka. We just went all the way with our exotic theme for lunch. Store bought pita bread simply wasn’t good enough. It had to be handmade. It was my first time making pita bread and I was really excited seeing it poof up though a bit disappointed that it was a tad too hard (perhaps I added a bit too much flour). I especially loved tearing my pita bread apart and stuffing the pocket with egg and tomato 🙂 Quite upset that I’m starting my Atkins diet tomorrow. Bye bye pita pockets with Shakshuka ): 541A0726

Shakshuka
Serves 4

Ingredients
Olive oil
3/4 brown onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons of harissa
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 teaspoons of tumeric
200g of crushed tomatoes
3 tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon of honey
60g of feta cheese
3 eggs

Directions
1. Heat pan with olive oil and fry the brown onions till translucent.
2. Add the bell peppers and fry till soft.
3. Add in the garlic and fry for another minute.
4. Add the harissa, paprika and tumeric and cook for another minute.
5. Add the crushed canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes and honey and simmer for 20 minutes, reducing it until the sauce is quite thick.
6. Add the feta cheese and stir through. Add salt & pepper to taste.
7. Crack one egg into a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the tomato paste and pour the egg into that well. Repeat with the other 2 eggs.
8. Place a cover on the pan until the egg whites are slightly set but the yolk is still runny.
9. Remove from heat and garnish with Italian parsley!

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Pita Bread
Makes 8 Pitas

Ingredients
1 cup of warm water
1 tbsp of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

Directions
1. Mix warm water, sugar and baking yeast in a bowl. Leave it to rest for 15 minutes until it has frothed up.
2. Pour the flour and salt into another bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and using your hands, slowly mix the flour into the yeast mixture.
3. Sprinkle a little flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside the oiled bowl. Let it rest for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size.
5. Heat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius with the baking tray in the oven.
6. Roll out the dough into the size you want, making sure its at least half an inch thick so that it can puff up.
7. Place the pita bread onto the baking tray and watch it magically puff up! 🙂 The pita is done when it is fully puffed up, about 2 minutes.

Fluffy Pancakes (2)

Pancakes

I got this recipe from the guys at Morino Lodge who so kindly wrote it down for me after we raved about how wonderful their pancakes were for breakfast. I’ll blog about Morino Lodge in my upcoming post on Central Japan, you have to stay with those guys when you’re in Hakuba. They are the best!

Anyway, these pancakes are fluffy, tasty and everything you want in that perfect pancake you dream about. You can whisk it up in just 15 minutes, let it rest for another 30 minutes and there, you have breakfast ready 🙂

Ingredients
1 cup of self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup of milk
1 large egg
1 tbsp melted butter

Directions
1. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl, make a well in the centre.
2. Whisk milk and eggs together until foamy.
3. Pour into well and fold.
4. Add melted butter and fold.
5. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes before frying the pancakes.

Fudgy Brownies

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I took one mouthful of this brownie and I knew that the search for the best recipe for fudgy brownies was over. This is a clear winner. If chocolate could cure illnesses, this fudgy brownie would be a miracle drug.

Everyone who ate this was unbelievably happy. My father texted me “I’m eating your cake now & wow 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 ” and D said “I’m super impressed.” The best part is that this brownie recipe is quite idiot proof. I mean how hard is it to whisk stuff together? The batter can be mixed up in 10 minutes and hey, you’ve got an impressive brownie.

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Ingredients
170g unsweetened chocolate
230g salted butter
200g granulated sugar
4 large eggs
10ml dark rum
170g all-purpose flour

Directions
1. Melt chocolate and butter over bain marie (fancy term for hot water bath)
2. Whisk in sugar and egg yolks, one at the time.
3. Whisk in rum
4. Sift flour into mixture and fold.
5. Pour batter into 8×8 inch square tin.
6. Place in preheated oven of 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes (the doneness of your brownie depends on how fudgy you want your brownie to be. The more undercooked your brownie is, the more fudgy it will be.)
7. Let the brownie cool before slicing. For really clean cuts, put the brownie in the fridge before cutting.

Ratatouille

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Ever since I got poisoned by my own undercooked veal (more on that later) a little more than a month ago, I’ve not had a craving for red meats, so all my meals have been loaded with vegetables. It’s no surprise that one day I rummaged through my fridge and decided to chop all the vegetables up to cook ratatouille. It was the simplest method I could think of to cook everything at one go.

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I took forever to wash and chop the vegetables up but I guess that’s what makes cooking so therapeutic; the scraping, chopping and stirring. So I’m not complaining about the prep work just that heads up, it takes quite long.

The other fuss about this dish is that you have to prepare the eggplants separately but that’s not such a big deal. Try this dish if you ever find yourself with loads of vegetables and at a loss as to how to deal with the veggie overload.

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Ingredients
2 medium eggplants, diced
2 medium squash, diced
2 medium yellow onions, diced
8 button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium carrots, cubed
6 basil leaves, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes

Directions
1. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of salt over the eggplant and drain in a colander for 20 minutes.
2. After 20 minutes, pat dry the eggplant.
3. Heat olive oil in pan and fry the eggplant until golden brown.
4. Remove eggplant from the pan.
5. In the same pan, heat olive oil.
6. Fry onions and garlic until translucent.
7. Add in chopped up basil leaves.
8. Add in carrots and fry until cooked.
9. Add in mushrooms and fry until cooked.
10. Add in squash and fry until cooked.
11. Add in eggplant.
12. Add in canned tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Banana Buttermilk Bread

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I was so blown away by the banana bread at The Lokal that I promised myself to recreate it. Soft, moist banana bread, swimming in a swirl of homemade yogurt, topped with caramelised bananas and toasted hazelnuts; it sounded easier to try to bake it than to take a MRT down to Outram and walk to The Lokal under the hot sun. So, here’s my attempt at banana bread and I think I can skip the trip down from now onwards.

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I only decided to bake this bread at the last minute so I ended up with not very ripe bananas. Here’s a tip if you find yourself in my situation, bake the bananas at 120 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. The skin will turn black but the insides will be ripe and sweet! Other than the trouble of finding ripe bananas, the rest of the steps are super easy. Just mix everything together and tadah, you get a beautiful loaf of moist banana bread 🙂

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Ingredients
5 medium bananas, very ripe
150g vegetable oil
100g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp dark rum
2 eggs
75g buttermilk
210g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp molasses

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Butter and line your loaf tin with baking paper.
3. Mash the bananas.
4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, vanilla, rum, eggs and buttermilk.
5. Add the mashed banana and set aside.
6. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.
7. Fold the dry ingredients into the banana mixture until just combined and pour into your prepared tin.
8. Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

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I first came across this cake while searching the Internet for my birthday cake. It seemed really easy to make and it promised a densechocolate cake which was enough for me to bookmark it down for my birthday cake. I was almost sure that I would be baking my own birthday cake but my mother wanted to bake it for me instead since I baked her a birthday cake for her birthday. Her cake was a disappointment though, I’m sorry Mother, for she over-baked it which resulted in an overly dry chocolate cake.

Reading the recipe now, I can understand why she would over-bake it since the recipe states a total of 45 minutes of baking time. Uhhh, that’s way too much. I made this cake again today and made sure that I kept checking on the cake but sadly, I still think I over-baked my cake too. I only baked it for 30 minutes but it didn’t turn out as moist as I would have liked it to be. So maybe I’ll take it out at the 25 minute mark next time? Anyway, every oven is different. So what might take 30 minutes in my oven may take 40 minutes in yours, so just keep checking on the cake every 5 or 10 minutes. I guess patience and perseverance gives you your perfect cake. Wow, the 3Ps.

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The cake itself though, isn’t that fantastic on the first bite. The chocolate taste doesn’t hit you yet. Only when you take the second bite will you fully taste the dark chocolate. And it is only then when it starts getting addictive. Soon, the slice of cake will be gone and you’ll be reaching for seconds :>

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Ingredients
1 cup soft unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
113g 80% cocoa bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons brandy or bourbon
1 cup freshly brewed coffee

Directions
1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in eggs until well combined.
3. Fold in melted chocolate
4. Fold in brandy
5. Sieve flour and baking soda together.
6. Fold in one spoonful of flour mixture then one spoonful of coffee. Alternate until all is combined and you end up with a smooth, fairly liquid batter.
7. Line 9×5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and grease a smaller loaf pan.
8. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
9. Pour batter into loaf pans, leaving 1 inch from the rim of the cake pan to prevent overflowing.
10. Bake the cake at 180 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes.
11. Lower oven temperature to 160 degrees Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes. Take smaller cake out at 20 minute mark.
12. Let cake cool completely in the loaf pan before turning it out. It is best to enjoy the cake a day later, but that is assuming that you can wait. I can’t.

Zucchini noodles with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

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I’m back in my kitchen! 🙂 I’ve been so busy meeting up with friends and settling school stuff that I’ve been kept away from my kitchen for too long. Anyway, today’s lunch was all vegetarian with all 3 dishes made of purely vegetables. My friend said I went overboard. I think I did but oh wells, after a Prego Sunday Brunch that was full of meat, the only thing I wanted to eat today was vegetables. (ps. my friend also blames for deforestation in the world)

I’m starting this series of vegetarian posts with a recipe that I created. Inspired by the various posts on loveandlemons.com of zucchini noodles, I was super excited when I found a zucchini lying around in my fridge. Basically I created this recipe based on what I could find in my fridge. Forgive the randomness but they taste quite unusual and healthy together.

I used a grater-like gadget to julienne the zucchini into long strips that looked like pasta. It’s awesome that you can trick your mind into thinking that you’re eating some kind of pasta when actually all you’re eating is vegetables. The julienned zucchini was surprisingly soft and felt like al dente pasta. It didn’t taste like raw vegetables at all.

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The sauce was made from tahini, yogurt and honey. I didn’t just want a regular tahini, olive oil, lemon juice dressing so I amped it up a bit with yogurt and honey. My favourite part of the dish was the roasted red pepper with its charred parts because it added flavour, texture and colour to the dish, elevating the entire dish.

It’s my first time coming up with my own dish, and it’s all vegetables so I doubt many will try it out. But hey, it’s quite a cool unusual combination!

Ingredients
1 medium Zucchini
2 medium red peppers
3 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp tahini
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp honey
Lemon wedge

Directions
1. Julienne the zucchini
2. Roast red peppers and the entire clove of garlic (with skin on) in the oven at 200 degrees celsius until the skins of the red peppers are charred.
3. Julienne the red peppers.
4. Combine tahini, yogurt and honey in a bowl.
5. Squeeze the roasted clove of garlic into the bowl. Mix.
6. Combine zucchini, red pepper and tahini sauce.
7. Finish off with a squeeze of lemon 🙂