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Jan 26, 2011

Happy Lunar Year of the Rabbit & A Recipe

" Gong Xi Fa Cai! " to all celebrating Chinese New Year. The start of the lunar year falls on the 2nd of February this year. This is a biggy for most Chinese and there will be many family reunions. There is always lots of eating involved and besides traditions like the giving of 'ang pow' (monetary gifts in red packets symbolizing the wish of good tidings), there is the sharing of goodies, cakes and cookies.... especially pineapple tarts. Given that there's going to be no shortage of CNY cookie posts , I'm going away from the norm and featuring an onion jam recipe instead.

Onions? Yup, onions! I don't believe onions have any significance at all to the Chinese Lunar Year. It's just that this bunch of onions I had, started to sprout faster than I could use them (mistake of putting them by the window) and this particular onion started to cast a shadow resembling a Quasimodo-ish rabbit. As this is the turn of the Rabbit according to the Chinese Zodiac, it seemed fitting to use it as our greeting for this year..... and with it, a recipe with onions. Some things just seem to decide for themselves. Non traditional.. yup, that's me.



500 g red onions, sliced
15 g butter
50 ml balsamic vinegar
25 g brown sugar
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 sprig fresh thyme


Melt butter in pan. Add onions, salt, pepper and thyme sprig.
Cook on low to medium heat until onions are soft and translucent, not browned.
Add sugar and vinegar and continue cooking on low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed by the onions and mixture is the consistency of jam.
Remove thyme sprig.
Store in clean jars and refrigerate.
Great for hors d'oeuvres or as an accompaniment to hamburgers in place of relish.



10 oz plain flour
5 oz cold butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg + 1 tbs cold water


Mix together flour and salt. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg and water mixture a little at a time until dough holds together. Do not knead. Leave dough to rest for at least 30 mins. Roll dough out on a floured surface to about 2 mm thick. Cut out pastry with a round cookie cutter (I used a 4 1/2 cm diameter round cookie cutter) and press into a tartlet tray with holes measuring about 4 cm in diameter. You can of course make it into whatever size you like.
Prick base of pastry with a fork.
Bake blind about 10 - 12 mins or until the sides turn slightly golden at 180˚C.
Cool before filling.


Shortcrust pastry cups (recipe above)
Onion jam (recipe above)
Feta cheese / Blue cheese, crumbled
fresh thyme

Fill prepared pastry cups with onion jam. Top with crumbled feta cheese and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.
The flavors and textures are awesome!

Jan 22, 2011

Review: Food & Wine Pairing @ O'Gourmet

This was a truly enjoyable and enlightening evening. Thanks to Ling Ang of O'Gourmet Food Hall @ Bangsar Shopping Center for the invitation, Sommelier Sebastien and Louis Choong for the free flowing information and wine, Chinoz and Chef Afiz for the food.

I must admit that stuff like "Wine for Dummies" was written with people like my husband and I in mind. While we do enjoy the occasional bottle with friends and sometimes a glass or two with food, this occasion was certainly an eye opener.

Having 5 wine and food pairings in relative quick succession to compare and contrast against, brought into vivid focus the beautiful ballet of flavors possible when wine and food are well matched. Abstract terms like "bouquet" and "finish" now became delightfully real.

The smoked barramundi, for example, was a silky smooth texture, blended with the smokey salty flavors of balsamic and a perfectly proportioned, quick, sharp, tart accent of a tiny sliver of lemon. Just as I was getting used to this particular corner of taste heaven, the paired wine that had nosed as slightly earthy, now finished with a beautifully balanced flourish of fruity sweetness. Mmmmm... magic!

This was the list of wine and food pairings:

1. Tedeschi Capitel Tenda Soave Doc Classico 2009, Pedemonte-Valpolicella, Italy

Paired with: Camembert Cheese

2: Rizzi Barbera D'Alba 2007, Treiso, Italy

Paired with: Pappardelle Pasta and Meatball (yeah, just one meatball)

3: Tedeschi Valpolicello Classico Superiore Doc 2008, Pedemonte-Valpolicella, Italy

Paired with: Pizza (pepperoni/ mushroom & egg ... the crust was awesome!)

4: Shinas Estate Innocent Viognier 2009, Mildura-Victoria, Australia

Paired with: Smoked Barramundi with Balsamic Reduction

(Wish I had more of these ... Yum!)

5: Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz Grenache 2009, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Paired with: Moroccan Lamb Merguez

(This wine really intensified the spiciness of the dish. Just when you thought your tongue had calmed down ... *sip*.... Pow! It hits you all over again!)

6: Shinas Estate Verdict Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Mildura-Victoria, Australia

(There was no food pairing for this)

My personal favorites:

White Wine: Tedeschi Capitel Tenda Soave Doc Classico 2009, Pedemonte-Valpolicella, Italy

Red Wine: Rizzi Barbera D'Alba 2007, Treiso, Italy

Dish: Smoked Barramundi with Balsamic Reduction

Pairing: Rizzi Barbera D'Alba 2007, Treiso, Italy with Pappardelle & Meatball

Did I mention we had a great time?

Jan 20, 2011

English Muffins

Not to be mistaken for American muffins which have a a more cakey texture. English muffins are closer to bread except they're cooked on a griddle ... not to be mistaken for griddle cakes which are closer to the pancakes we are all so familiar with. Confused? Sorry ...

Think eggs benedict. There you go. Also great on its own, toasted and eaten with a good slab of butter. Yummers!

Makes about 8


3 cups bread flour

3/4 cup plain flour

3 1/2 tsp coarse salt, lightly crushed / ground

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

1 cup lukewarm water

2/3 cup lukewarm milk

flour for dusting

cornmeal for dusting


Mix the flours and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

Mix yeast and sugar with half (1/2 cup) of the lukewarm water and let stand until foamy, about 15 mins.

Make a well in the flour. Add the yeast mixture, the remaining 1/2 cup lukewarm water and 2/3 cup milk. Mix to get a very soft, slightly sticky dough.

Turn out dough onto floured surface and knead for abut 10 mins until dough is soft, elastic and smooth and no longer sticky. Shape into a ball.

Place dough in bowl and cover with a damp dish towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and knead again for about 5 mins. Return and rest the dough in the bowl for another 30 mins.

Divide dough into 8 pieces. Place onto baking sheets dusted with flour and cornmeal. Sprinkle the top with more cornmeal or flour. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 mins.

Heat a griddle or a non-stick pan over moderate heat until moderately hot. Place muffins, 2 or 3 at a time, depending on how large your griddle/pan is, and cook 10 - 12 mins until the undersides are golden brown. Turn muffins over and cook for another 10 - 12 mins until golden brown. Wipe out the pan and continue cooking the remaining muffins.

Eat warm, split, toasted and buttered. Freezes well.

Jan 15, 2011

My Latest Squeeze: Soy Milk

Nope ... no hot gossip. Just literally "my latest squeeze", as in, hand-squeezed soy bean milk. I know it's such a dinosaur-age method and I do have a soy milk maker that grinds, boils and filters (all-in-one) but somehow (I can't quite put my finger on it) it doesn't taste right. Or maybe my machine isn't as good as it claimed to be...

So for a long while now, it's been sitting in storage,... oh wait, have I given it away? Whatever, it doesn't matter anyway. I've resorted to making it this way, not really prehistoric, since I'm using the blender (hehe) but squeezing out the goodness with a cloth strainer bag. Good finger exercise.

I like my soy milk rich but feel free to dilute with more water if you like.

Included in this recipe is a simple syrup flavored with pandan ... a tip handed down through the generations, to mask the beany taste of the beverage.

Makes about 2 liters.


300 g soy beans, soaked overnight

1 1/2 cups water to every 2 cups of soaked beans


Give the soaked beans a light rubbing to remove as much of the loose skin as possible.

Blend every 2 cups of beans with 1 1/2 cups of water. Pour small amounts at a time into cloth strainer bag, give it a twist to close off the top (so that there'll be no accidental spurts of juice and paste) and squeeze out the milk into a large pot.

Put aside residue. Continue until all beans are used up (each time saving the residue for a second squeeze).

Add another 1 1/2 cups of water to every 2 cups of the residue, blend and squeeze again.

Discard pulp.

Bring the milk to a rolling boil and remove from heat.

Add simple syrup to taste. Can be served hot or cold.


1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 pandan / pandanus leaf


Put both sugar and water into a small pot. Knot the pandan leaf and place it into the pot together with the sugar and water. Heat pot over medium heat for about 10 mins or until sugar has dissolved completely. Discard pandan leaf.

Jan 14, 2011

DIY: Powdered Sugar

I've recently been in Macaron Mania Mode and I've noticed that every recipe calls for pure icing sugar / powdered sugar / confectioners sugar. No big deal, until you discover that the only icing sugar your neighborhood store carries, contains cornstarch or wheat flour in the mix which supposedly improves its flowing ability, therefore very suitable for making icing or frosting ... but not macs. And when you can actually find some confectioners sugar in the fancy bakery supplies store, which is actually pure powdered sugar, it's so not worth paying the price for. Yup, I'm cheap. So, I come up with alternatives.
Just whizz some caster sugar in a dry mill or a food processor until you get the consistency of talc. Sift it if you must.
Easy peasy and no holes in my apron pockets.

Jan 6, 2011

Macha Do About Macarons

(Thank you everyone for helping get this to FoodBuzz Top 9)

Are macarons still the food fad of today? Still the new "cupcake"? What are the movies featuring today? Or rather, what are the ladies in "Sex and the City" munching on lately? (besides the men, that is.... Food! I'm talking about food here, remember?)

I'm not one for fads and fashions. Never been able to fit in with the crowd who always has to have the latest and greatest ... be it gadgets or clothes ... and now, food.

I'm just as happy using last year's gadgets and am usually in jeans and a t-shirt and eating what I feel like, when I feel like it. So I don't fit in, so I'm a nerd, so sue me.

Now, don't get me wrong. I won't go out of my way to avoid the faddish stuff. Take macarons, for example. I've only recently discovered I like them and they're actually fun to make. And anything that doesn't require oily, difficult to wash utensils .... I'm all for it.

Green tea. Another health fad. I drink it not only because it's good for me nor is it the fad, but because I like the taste. And the stronger the better. Two bags in a cup. So, if you don't like strong tea, I'd suggest to reduce the amount of macha here.


40 g egg white

a few drops of lemon juice

30 g caster sugar

30 g almond meal

50 g pure icing sugar / powdered sugar

5 g macha powder


Combine icing sugar, almond meal and macha powder in a food processor and give it a few buzzes to mix evenly. Sieve.

In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg white with a few drops of lemon juice (or pinch of salt) until soft peaks form. Add in caster sugar in 3 lots, beating well in between until you get stiff peaks.

Fold in sifted ingredients gently. (Recommended not more than 40 folds)

Fill into piping bag. Snip off about 2 cm from tip of bag and pipe 2 cm dollops onto lined pans. (Mixture will spread a little)

Leave for about 1 - 2 hours for the tops to dry out and form a crust.

Bake in a preheated oven at 150˚C for about 12 mins.

Leave in pans for a few minutes before gently tranferring them to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Fill with your favorite filling or in this case, I thought it went really well with a chocolate ganache. For recipe, click here.

Jan 3, 2011

The Occasional Tip: Grating Cheeses

Gotta love those cheeses! Soft cheeses, hard cheeses, sliced, diced or grated.
Only problem with grating cheeses is the cleaning up of those graters.
One easy solution ... give the grater a spritz of some cooking oil before grating. That should prevent the cheese from sticking too much to those annoying little holes. Much easier to clean too! Happy grating!