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Oct 1, 2014

Chocolate Chips Pumpkin Cake





It’s pumpkin season again. 
I love pumpkins. I used to go crazy thinking of unconventional things to make, cook, bake with pumpkins. 


Crazy moments: 



There must be over a hundred varieties out there. We get a good variety from the local grocers. And to mess about with, I wouldn’t even bother getting expensive imported ones. Our local variety is good enough …. similar to the winter squash, Linus’ pumpkin patch types, the one Cinderella took to the ball and forgot to come back before her curfew and lost her shoe (definitely pretty ill-fitting shoe, I must say, and probably had one too many margaritas … you really have to read between the lines of those fairy tales to get the gist of the saucy substance of what the author is actually trying to say but could not due to childrens’ story books bylaws or whatnots).

Anyway, enjoy this while pumpkin is still in season or just freeze mashed pumpkin and you can have it all year through! 



Oh …. before I go mess about some more ….
For those who do not want to use canned pumpkin puree, you can prepare your own very easily.
Just get rid of the hard skin and seeds. Cut into large chunks and steam them for a few minutes (you can tell when they’re soft. The colour turns a darker orange). 
And, in this recipe, I did not mash the pumpkin too fine (I did call it mash and not puree). It’s good either way. I kinda like the speckled orange look.


(This cake is a combination of recipes. So if anyone feels that this originated from yours, please let me know. I’ll add a link and your cake pic to this). 


INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup (4oz) butter, melted
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


METHOD

Preheat oven to 170ºC.
Generously butter a 9”X5”X3” loaf pan or three 6”X3”X2” mini loaf pans.
Combine flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix well.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat eggs.
Add pumpkin, melted butter, and milk. Mix well.
Combine wet ingredients with the dry and mix.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan/pans. 
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove cake from pan and cool on a wire rack.









Sep 24, 2014

Nectarine Ginger Cake






Just trying to save some nectarines ....
Have already put a couple out of their misery. This weather just isn't good for fruits like these. 
They were reasonably priced for a change .... I couldn't resist. 
It's a good excuse to bake and to get myself going again. 

It isn't fun having tennis elbow. It isn't fun not getting to play tennis. It isn't fun not being able to even lift a cup .... gah.
(Can I use that as song lyrics?)

I don't have much to say these days. Forgive me. 
I just eat. 
No, I'm way past my depression days .... not worth it. I'm just grumpy. Lacking in exercise, you know, lacking happy chemicals: endorphins (for the inquiring minds ... "endogenous morphine"), oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine and all.

Messing about in the kitchen, retail therapy ...oh yes... a friend advised me to jog. No elbow use (except flapping it around as you jog ...that hurts too, you know), cheaper than retail therapy and I get my happy chemicals. So I figured I'd get a big, quick fix and jog from store to store. Good, eh?

This is good too. It was experimental. Portion is small. I'm gonna double up for the next one. Add more ginger. Flavors are lovely and subtle. You don't have to take my word for it. Make it and find out.

(So much for having not much to say....)

(Recipe adapted from 手のひらサイズのベイクドケーキ)

INGREDIENTS

72g butter, softened
50g castor sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
72g self raising flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 tbs yogurt
1 nectarine, pitted and sliced
60g crystalised ginger, chopped or cubed


METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a small loaf pan or line with baking paper. (I used a silicon loaf pan. Didn't have to grease nor line)
2. Whip butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. 
3. Stir in yogurt, followed by flour and baking powder. 
4. Transfer batter into loaf pan. Arrange nectarine slices on top and sprinkle chopped crystalised ginger along the sides. 
5. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 mins. 
6. Cool and serve.












Jun 5, 2014

Sprouting Ideas: Chia






You’ve heard of Chia pets. Chia seeds. I wrote a little about it a while ago while experimenting (messing around really) with it in a spiced peach jam.

Full of nutrition, minerals … healthy benefits.
Ground chia seeds are great in bread and cakes. 
Now come the sprouts. Great in salads and sandwiches. Saw this on several sites and I decided to give it a go. I love sprouts … all sorts. They’re expensive to buy. Dunno why … it’s so easy and quick to grow. 

Has anyone tried sprouts on buttered bread? You know those dainty little things called cucumber sandwiches? Replace them cucumbers with sprouts, lashings of butter and lovely soft white bread …. or whatever healthy alternative soft bread you like. I’m going for something that pleases my tummy and fussy tongue buds …nothing healthy here …. oh … fine …. health food … ground chia seeds bread? Close your eyes while you chew on them … minus the crunch, they taste like cucumber…use your imagination.

Anyway …. I had fun growing these cute thingies. 
I’d used the plastic container for coffee machine pods. You can use old egg cartons, unglazed clay tiles, any shallow container. 

On clay surfaces, just sprinkle an even layer of seeds on a soaked tile. Give the seeds a spray of water and continue spraying it daily keeping them moist. They’ll turn into a gelatinous goop but it’s fine. They’ll sprout soon enough. 

Here’s what I did for mine …

STUFF

coffee pods container / egg carton
cotton buds
Chia seeds
water


METHOD

Wet the cotton buds and and fill each hole of the container. 
Sprinkle an even layer (do not over crowd the seeds) on the soaked cotton. 
Leave on a sunny window sill or any sunny area but not in direct sunlight. 
Sprinkle water on the cotton buds daily or whenever it looks/feels dry. 
It’s important to keep it moist.
Wait patiently for those cute thingies to sprout. 
Trim when sprouts are about 2-3 cm tall…about 2 weeks or so.

Throw out cotton and start all over.





Apr 25, 2014

Cockles




What do you do with cockles?

Just curious ......
I haven't seen many posts on cockles and am wondering if it's eaten anywhere else besides asia. 

Here in Malaysia, we like it 
~1. just scalded, the flesh dug out with a pick and dunked in a sweet chilly dip. 
~2. Fried with koay teow (flat rice noodles)
~3. Cooked in a curry

Anyone has recipes other than the measly 3 I have?










Apr 23, 2014

Down Memory Lane : Leek and Tofu Stir Fry






There are comfort foods and then there are comfort foods that remind you of your childhood. 
There are so many of them from the good young days, I can’t remember them all. Then you see a particular ingredient at the market stalls and it triggers that inner childhood tummy pangs. Some of which I used to hate eating before but all of a sudden develop a hunger and craving for it …. strange. No …. no durians yet. That would take some serious doing.

This was one of the dishes my Chinaman uncle used to love as a condiment to his porridge. Porridge as in Chinaman rice porridge, not the oat porridge westerners eat every morning. 
I also used to dislike rice porridge. It was bland, boring, colourless, textureless … but I guess that’s why the condiments that go with it. But you’ll be amazed at the way a typical Chinaman eats porridge and how much of it is shoved into the mouth with their chopsticks while accompanied by the minutest sliver of condiment and then followed by another five to six shovels of porridge.
I eat (if I had to and it’s usually when I’m sick) a spoonful (yes, I use a spoon. I would have porridge all over my face and lap if I tried using a chopstick) of that bland, boring white mush with a gazillion condiments. That’s sick food. Yes. 
Oh forgive me my ancestors … sigh.
I’d forgo the porridge and have all them condiments with white fluffy rice. So much better. 

I’ve always loved tofu. Leeks only in leek and potato soup. Then one day…….a bunch of leeks called out to me from a grocer’s shelf …. and the rest, as they say, is … in my tummy! Yum!

Of course I had this with rice … not porridge. I’m not sick, you know.


INGREDIENTS

Bunch of leeks, whites and greens, sliced whichever way you like
Firm tofu squares
Oyster sauce
Sesame oil
Oil for sautéing

Optionals:

Thinly sliced / minced pork or chicken


METHOD


Heat oil.
Brown tofu squares on each side. Remove from pan.
Slice into thick slivers.
Set aside.
Brown meat in the same pan. Add a little more oil if need to. 
Stir in leeks until slightly softened. Longer if you prefer it softer.
Add oyster sauce to taste.
Stir in sliced tofu.
Turn heat off.
Add a dash of sesame oil. Stir to mix. 
Dish out and serve.

To make it a little more fancy, sprinkle on some toasted sesame seeds.

Enjoy! And welcome to the Chinaman’s world.  





Mar 20, 2014

Just Plain (Rice) Talk







You know, the average Malaysian is spoilt rotten. 
Myself included. 
We’re blessed with all the latest and greatest electronic gadgets that promise to cut time short, make life simpler … work, cook etc….yeah right.
Anyway, I’m talking about our very-taken-for-granted rice cooker. I’m quite surprised that something that you’d probably receive 7 units of at your wedding as a gift over in this part of the world, is such a rarity in the average mat salleh’s (foreigner) household. 
Why am I talking about cooking rice? 
It’s so simple right? Not worth blogging about. But hey … take away the rice cooker and our fellow Malaysians would probably be at their wits end. You can only take that much instant noodles.

I found myself in a situation where I didn’t have the luxury of a rice cooker.
Googled for the correct ratio of rice to water. Most of the instructions (if not all) come from cooks in the western countries. Yeah … but of course … no rice cooker at home right?
But they seem to like their rice a little softer than how we like it here … of course that all depends of the type of rice you use as well.

Let’s just talk plain, unassuming jasmine rice. The type that plain, unassuming people like me eat daily… well… almost daily … ok ok … once a week. But then, I’m not your average Malaysian either.

After a couple of crusty, crunchy, sometimes porridgy (is there such a word?) meals …. I’ve come to a ratio that’s pretty much how I like it.


INGREDIENTS
Aww … seriously?! Ok ok …

Water
Uncooked jasmine rice, rinsed

No, we don’t put a pinch of salt 

Ratio of 2:1, Water to Rice

(I usually just cook 1 cup of rice, so this ratio works perfectly. I haven’t tried it with a larger amount …. yet).


METHOD

Place rinsed rice and water into a deep dish microwave safe container. (I used a glassware deep casserole dish).
Cook on high for 20 mins. 
(I cook for 10 mins, check to see if it’s blown up, and then continue for another 10 mins, without stirring)
When cooked, remove from microwave oven (be careful of hot steam). Fluff with a fork and serve hot with your favourite condiments.

So simple. Not worth blogging about. 







Sep 16, 2013

Instant Jammin' - Spiced Peach Jam

 
 
 


This has got to be the fastest and freshest jam making process I've ever experienced. No cooking, fresh, refreshing and healthier too! I must say tho, the texture isn't quite as gooey and sticky as regular jams but you know that's all a bunch of sugar and pectin.

This doesn't rely on too much sugar nor pectin. It uses something that's popular in the health circles these days.... Chia seeds....botanic name: Salvia Hispanica.
Remember those days where you have all sorts of funny clay animal figures which you kept watering and eventually sprouted and gave them "hair"? Yup....those. Chia pets, they were called.
Now we ingest them instead of pasting them on figurines...the seeds, not the clay things. Nope...you won't get a hairy chest nor is it an alternative solution to hair loss. What you will get is some long list of health benefits. Go look it up, will ya. I'm talking jam here.
Immersed in liquid, the seeds turn into a gelatinous goop. Apparently, they absorb 10 times their weight in water!

My sis-in-law posted a link on her Facebook wall about this. The recipe called for fresh berries. Berries of any sort is expensive here and since this was an experiment, I wasn't gonna waste it if it doesn't work out. So, I'd decided to use up some canned peaches left over from a wannabe peach cheesecake....that's another story.

Amazingly, it worked. Why I doubted it in the first place, I don't know. Maybe I'd just doubted myself...my ability to get it right...I have this knack for screwing up the simplest of process.
And of course I can't keep it simple. I'd added some spices to liven things up.

An experimental jam.



INGREDIENTS

About 1 cup canned peaches, drained
1tbs chia seeds
Sugar to taste, or honey (I used sugar so as not to alter the peach flavours too much)

1 star anise
1 stick cinnamon


METHOD

Put the peaches and sugar in a food processor or blender.
Buzz til you get a texture that you like.
Stir in the chia seeds.
Place spices at the bottom of a jam jar and pour fruit purée over.
(You can use a spice infused syrup for a stronger flavour)
Seal and leave overnight for the seeds to absorb the liquid.

Note: since making this, I've discovered that this is a great way to make chutneys and mint jelly as well. Unfortunately, this doesn't keep too long since it's non cooked.

Why not experiment for yourself and do let me know what you've made and how it worked out for you.