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Oct 26, 2011

Happy Deepavali

Happy Deepavali or Diwali to all my Hindu readers! And to those non Hindus celebrating together with their Hindu buddies and relatives ..... have a blast!!! I can hear the fireworks going non-stop since yesterday, even in the rain! The cloudy skies can't beat the spirit of the festival of lights. (My cat's under my blanket ... poor baby).

Oct 24, 2011

Macha Choc Swirl Bread

I love bread.
I also love making them into all sorts of shapes and sizes. (You can tell I get bored easily). Unfortunately, hubbers likes boring ol' loaf shapes, explaining that he enjoys his toast in the mornings and those crazy shapes just won't fit into the regular toaster and even after slicing them to eventually fit, they either fall to pieces or get wedged in it and by the time it gets dug out of the toaster, you can't put a decent slab of butter on.
I need a little variety in my life ... I mean, bread. Compromises, is what a good marriage is all about. I could elaborate on this, but I won't.

Honestly, this was just for fun. I knew chocolate and macha went well together after making those macha macs and I wanted a contrast in color to show off the swirl. The chocolate was not prominent at all in the flavors ... maybe next time I'll use a little more. And there's only a slight hint of macha, not enough to spoil whatever flavors you might decide to smear on the toast. I love macha and I thought it could do with a stronger flavor but for the other members of the family, non macha fans, they didn't care very much for this at all .... sigh.... maybe there won't be a next time after all.

I used the recipe from the X'mas Wreath Bread. You can find it here.
Use the same ingredients but minus the toppings.


5 - 10 g macha powder (depending on how much you like macha)
cocoa powder (can't remember how much I used, it was mainly for color)


As per bread recipe.
After the 1st proofing, divide the dough into 2 portions. Knead in macha (by hand or machine with a dough hook) into one portion and the cocoa powder into the other.
*Note: At this point you can knead the colors in evenly or just leave them speckled.
Roll out dough separately on floured boards into rectangles of the same size.
Place one flattened piece on top of the other.
Roll up like a swiss roll.
Here, I cut it up into 2 logs to fit my well oiled bread tins of L8" X W4" X H4" in size.
Place each log of dough into each tin, cover and leave to proof for another hour or until doubled in size.
Bake in preheated oven of 180˚C for about 30 mins.
To prevent the top from over-browning, tent bread with aluminum foil after 20mins into baking time.
Unmold immediately onto cooling rack when done.

Oct 17, 2011

Chinese Jicama Dumplings

'Jicama Dumplings', or in Hokkien Chinese, 'Chai Kueh'. Not to be mistaken for 'Pot Stickers', altho these could easily stick to a pot if you let them.

I was never into Chai Kueh in my younger days, but then, I've never really been into very traditional Chinese foods and snacks. The olden day Chinese would have me burnt on a stake .... wait, i think I've got my wires crossed. Oh, never mind.
Anyway, one day, a friend brought these dumplings over and claimed they were so good, they'd knock my Chinese senses from being dormant for way too long. And, you know what? They did! Not only were my senses awakened, I actually crave for them often. Then one day, TRAGEDY! They stopped selling them! I am so doomed! Oh woe is me and all that drama stuff!
You never know you have it in you until something drastic happens and you find out just how risilient and capable you are (ahem).
Tragedy no more, crave no more!
After scouring the net, I've found several good recipes. The main ingredient is basically yam bean/jicama, then all the other variations come in as in every other recipe.... carrots, bean sprouts, tofu and chinese chives versions. I made mine as how I remembered it to be.
The most important part of this dumpling is actually the skin. Now, this is where I'd got a little confused and had to decide on what to do. Some recipes add glutinous rice flour and some don't. I'm assuming that it makes a whiter looking dough rather than the translucent one that I'm looking for. So, I omitted that.
I'm very happy with the results, filling and skin both altho I would roll out the skin a little thinner the next time. I wasn't sure how elastic the dough would be and if they'd tear while I'm wrapping.
Most of the recipes encourage you to use quite a lot of oil for the dough and also to brush more on while steaming since this is a seriously gooey, sticky, fragile skin. But I'm trying to reduce as much oil as possible without causing the skin to be dry and non-elastic and mainly not have them swimming in oil like some I've seen sold at the stalls. Eck.


about 400 g Jicama / Yam Bean / Bangkuang
about 100 g carrots
2 tbs dried shrimps
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs oyster sauce
2 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs sugar
1/2 cup water
oil for frying


Rinse and soak dried shrimps until soft. (About 20 mins)
Peel and shred or finely julienne yam bean and carrots into about 3" long strips.
Drain soaked shrimps and squeeze out water. Chop coarsely.
Heat a little oil and saute the garlic and shrimp until fragrant.
Stir in both veges until slightly cooked.
Add in oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sugar and water.
Stir to coat evenly.
Lower heat, cover and simmer. Give it a stir every now and then. Check often to see if you need to add more water.
Cook until vege is soft and translucent but still holding its shape (not too mushy).
Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I didn't add any)
Turn off heat and leave to cool.


165 g wheat starch
85 g tapioca flour
420 g hot boiling water
3 - 5 tbs oil (I used 3 tbs)


Combine wheat starch and tapioca flour in a large, heatproof mixing bowl.
Stir in boiling water until you get an almost translucent dough.
* Note: This was tough to do as the dough was very sticky and firm so I gave up and transferred to my Kenwood Chef mixer with a dough hook to mix and knead.
Once you get a nice translucent dough, cover and leave to rest for about 10 mins.
Add in the oil 1 tbs at a time and knead well after each addition. Keep at it until all 3 tbs oil are used up.
Remove from bowl and shape into a long log and divide into about 30 - 35 pieces, depending on how big you want your dumplings to be.

Prepare the steamer.
Oil the base of your steaming tray. (Some people use parchment paper)

Roll out the little balls of dough into circles (I rolled mine to about 3" in diameter).
Work quickly or the skin will dry up and become too brittle to wrap. Cover with a damp cloth in between.
Spoon a good tbs of jicama filling into the center of the skin.
Bring the two ends together, pleat and pinch to seal.
Arrange the dumplings onto well-oiled steaming tray and steam for 15 - 18 mins or until skin is translucent.
Serve warm with chilli sauce.

Dumplings can be kept in the freezer uncooked.
Place frozen dumplings directly into steamer and steam for about 15 - 18 mins or until translucent.
*Remember to oil the tray your dumplings sit on or use parchment paper to line.

Oct 8, 2011

The Occasional Tip: Peeling Peppers

Red peppers, Capsicums, Bell Peppers ....
These are such interesting vegetables, in that they taste so different when eaten raw and when roasted. Personally, I can live without them raw but roasted with the outer layer discarded ..... Oh be still my quivering tastebuds!! ... Sweet, Luscious, Silky Smooth, Smokey Sultriness .... gosh, this is getting .... uh, non-foodlike.
Meanwhile, back on earth ... and in the kitchen ....
An easy way to roast and to peel off the skins to get to the lusciousness inside .... Focus, people!

Wash and dry peppers.
Cut into quarters and discard seeds and membranes. (You can roast them whole as well but in this case, you don't have to bother about turning them)
Lightly spritz some oil to coat.
Place in a single layer, skin side up on a lined baking tray.
Roast 40-50 mins or until skin turns blackish.
Remove and place in a heatproof baggy, seal and leave to sweat for about 15-20 mins. Alternatively, place in a heatproof bowl, cover tightly with cling film and leave to sweat.
Peel off skin.

What you can do with it:
Slice (or not) and place in a clean jar and drown them in some good quality olive oil or grapeseed oil.
Keep refrigerated.
Or mush it up and make Ajvar!
Or put it in a lovely stew.
Or use as a pizza base.
Or make bruschetta.
Or just as a dip.
Or ... or ....

So many possibilities!

Oct 3, 2011


Aaaarrrjjvvaaarrr ... I love that word. It rolls around the tongue so growly-like. Grrr ...
(Oh gosh! Embarrassing moment .... so I was told it's not pronounced aaarrjjvvvarrr but aiiiyyeevvarrr ... or an easier read: "eye-var".)

Ajvar is a Serbian relish. Its main ingredients consists of red bell peppers, eggplant and garlic. Other optional ingredients are vinegar and chilli peppers which produce versions from a lightly piquant to blow-your-pants-off hot.

This oh-so-versatile relish was introduced to me by Three Cookies having smeared some on his potato pancake and chorizo lunch and blogging about it. Go check Mr Three Cookies out (That's right, Mr Three Cookies ...... first name "Three", last name "Cookies"). Say hi.

It (the ajvar) had looked better than any ketchup I've seen and I was curious enough to look up the recipe on multiple sites and one that he (Mr T) suggested to me and was quite happy with what I saw. I've always loved roasted red peppers and eggplant. What could be better than to mush them all together and put it in a jar for when and if I need some kind of condiment for anything that requires a condiment. And now ... I'm hooked! I doubt I can go back to regular ketchup or relishes anymore. I had this with a regular hotdog the other day and it was mmm nom nom good! I'd even used it as a salad dressing! And today, I just wanted something light (another way of saying I was too lazy and can't decide what I wanted for lunch) and was digging into my ever crowded freezer and found some frozen pizza dough and decided I'd do a bruschetta-ish type snack.

This is ever so simple!

Here are the instructions ....

Thaw dough.
Roll out dough.
Smear with Ajvar.

How simple is that?

Oh ... yeah ... the Ajvar recipe.


1 eggplant (abt 200g)
3 large sweet red peppers ( totalling abt 600g)
1 garlic clove
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 cup good grapeseed oil (or a good quality olive oil) (I used 1/4 cup as I didn't want it too runny)
a little oil to coat veges / cooking spray (optional)

optional ingredients: vinegar, chilli peppers, cayenne, chilli flakes.


Heat oven to 200˚C.
Wash and dry eggplant and peppers. Cut eggplant into large chunks and quarter the peppers. Discard core and seeds of red peppers. Spray veges with a little oil (or not, but I did) and place in a single layer onto a parchment or aluminum foil lined baking tray. Roast for about 40 - 50 minutes or until it's wilted and the skin turns black.
Place roasted veges into a heatproof baggy and seal or, into a heatproof bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to sweat for about 15 - 20 mins.
Peel and discard the skins of both veges. Place into a food processor together with the garlic clove, lemon juice, sugar (if using) and salt. Buzz a couple of times to a chunky puree and then slowly drizzle in the oil while the blade is still running, until well incorporated.
At this point, it's up to you whether you want the ajvar to be chunky or a fine puree. As you can see, I like mine somewhere in between.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve or put it into a clean jar and store in the fridge.
Use to your heart's content.