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Mar 31, 2012

Hot and Passionade !

If you're looking for something else that's not about food and drink .... you're on the wrong site. Thank you. And no, I didn't spell that wrongly.

Our weather's absolutely horrid this last couple of weeks. I'm sweating buckets ... hang on ... horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow. Ok, let me rephrase that.
I'm glowing buckets ... that didn't sound quite right. Anyway, I'm "glowing" so much and not in the mood to work in the kitchen over a hot stove or having the oven on... even with the AC switched on full blast (our electric company's going to be very happy this period), hence the lack of activity on Ping's Drippings.... I mean Pickings.
Don't go away. I promise I'll deal with this. Maybe have an ice-jacket on, or jump into the pool every couple of minutes, or stick my head in the freezer ... or something.

I need a fizz fix every now and then.... especially now. My other half needs a fix too, more often than not. He's satisfied with ginger beer and coke. I like ginger ale ... less sweet. I do like coke but it gets a little too cloyingly sweet after awhile.
Interesting fact: Did you know that the taste of coke and sugar content levels differ from country to country? I've made it a point to have a coke everywhere I go, just to prove this point. If you already knew that, good on you. Just thought I'd mention it. I've found the ones in Malaysia to be seriously sweet, altho they've claimed to have lessened the sugar content over the years. I don't like diet coke for the weird aspartame aftertaste. And there's a strange stickiness in the throat after drinking it ... besides, it's not suppose to be good for you ... not that fizzy drinks are anyway.

It's always the usual fizz flavors on the shelves. I'd sometimes just stand there in the aisles and stare at the bottles wondering which I'd get. Nothing too interesting. But I guess it's the regular normal flavors that sell.

I need something a little different. This weather is driving me up the wall! I need something fizzy, something refreshing, not crazy sweet, something fruity (besides me). I thought about making some ginger ale. Then I noticed some passionfruits sitting in the basket looking all wrinkly. Then the old gears in the head started going .....

Oh, sorry about the missing passionfruits in the pic. I realised I'd used them all up in the soda and not left any to shoot. Oh well ...


1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup passionfruit pulp (about 5 fruits)

juice of 1 small lemon
1/2 tsp active dry yeast

4 - 5 cups water (room temperature)


Combine sugar, 1 cup water and passionfruit pulp in a saucepan.
Heat until all sugar has dissolved.
Leave to cool.
Stir together the yeast and lemon juice and top up with water to measure 1 cup.
Strain cooled syrup into a 2L plastic bottle with a screw cap. Add lemon/yeast mixture.
Add in 4 - 5 cups water.
Seal tightly and give the bottle a good shake to mix.
Leave in room temperature until the sides of the bottle isn't squeezable anymore ... about a day or two, depends on the yeast.
Place bottle in the refrigerator to halt the bubbling process.

*Note: There'll be some yeast residue at the bottom. Just discard that when you get to the bottom.
Also please be careful when opening the cap. Excessive fizz has been known to happen ... speaking from experience ... believe me, it ain't fun.

Mar 20, 2012

Simple Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry

Or otherwise known as Kung Pao Chicken.

I wouldn't dare claim for this to be typically Kung Pao. I've massacred the original Kung Pao recipe to suit my chompbuds. The real stuff Kung Pao uses Szechuan peppercorns ... yup, origin: Szechuan Province. And unless you like the numbing sensation of the Szechuan peppers, I'd suggest you omit them.
I did say this was simple. So, simple it shall be with no fancy ingredients, just the usual sauces and stuff you'd find in a standard asian pantry, fridge and freezer.
(Except in my case, you get 5 cans of corn and quince paste, which is anything but standard. And if you have no idea what I'm jabbering about, please visit the post previous to this one. Thank you).


about 2 cups chicken meat, bite sized
2 onions, cut into wedges
4 - 5 dried chillies
1 small bunch scallions, cut into 1" stalks / chopped (or substitute with green/red bell peppers)
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/2 tsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese thick soy sauce
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tbs oil
1 tbs cornflour

*Note: feel free to adjust the amount of the sauces to suit your taste.


Toss chicken and cornflour together.
Soak dried chillies in some water to soften. Remove seeds and drain.
Heat oil in pan.
Saute onions and dried chillies until lightly browned.
Stir in chicken and stir fry until browned. (Add bell peppers, if using, and stir for a minute or so).
Stir in sauces.
Turn off the heat and stir in scallion and cashews.
Serve hot with fluffy rice.

PS: Remove dried chillies before serving or you're gonna drain your district dam. For the sadistic ones, chew on them. Naw ... it's not that bad, but don't take my word for it.

Mar 15, 2012

Mutton Burger with Quince Salsa & Oven Baked Cheese Fries

Be surprised. Be very surprised … that you're actually looking at this thing that I call my dinner. It very nearly didn't happen. This whole production was riddled with one interruption after another. I'd almost given up after the fries decided to go and get itself seriously tanned. (Ignore the bits of black … look beyond that and see beautiful golden, melted, crispy cheese). Fortunately it came together quite nicely in the end or it would have been take-out food you're looking at. In fact, I'd make this again (and again) with extra vigilance on the timer (I'd actually set it but forgot to start it), ignore doorbells, phone calls, surprise visitors and an attention-demanding cat.

I had some mutton mince and decided I wanted to make a burger out of it.
I'd seen a beetroot relish at Zoe's that got me all excited knowing that it'll go perfectly with my burger. Then I realized I had no beetroot (funny, I usually do. I eat beetroot out of a can) … and not even a can anywhere in sight (I wonder why I have 5 cans of corn tho). While digging frantically hoping I'd find a stray one hiding in a dark corner on one of the many shelves, I came across a bottle of quince paste I'd forgotten about (among other things). Aha! Lightbulb! Bwiing!

Now then, there's the Improv Challenge (this month's theme is potatoes and cheese) and I still hadn't figured out what I was going to do until that time (it's been a crazy few weeks and this week isn't letting up any either). Lightbulb #2! Bwiing! Bwiing!

I'd decided to use Zoe's burger bun recipe (with some teeny modifications). I must say, this is THE burger bun! We get the commercially made ones here that look pretty good but crumbles too much, either that or too airy and full of holes, or the gourmet bakeries that charge you more for the buns than an actual burger. This one's perfect … not overly dense, soft but firm and not overly flavored to outshine the patty. Thanks, Zoe!

BURGER BUNS (adapted from Zoe's @ Bake for Happy Kids)


1 cup (250 ml) water
30 g butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs active dry yeast


white sesame seeds
black sesame seeds
beaten egg


* I used my bread machine to do the kneading for me as usual.
Plonk all ingredients into bread machine bin in the order they're listed.
Use "Dough" setting.
When it's done, punch down with floured fist (they should make a kung fu movie with that title) to deflate the dough, remove from bread machine, knock it around a bit and divide into 8 equal parts. (If you prefer smaller buns, divide into 12 parts).
Form into balls and leave to prove for 45 minutes or until doubled in size on a lined baking tray (I used a Silpat) with enough space in between.
Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds (or not).
Bake in a 180˚C oven for 15 - 18 mins or until tops are lightly browned.
Cool on racks.

(I'd used half the portion of the dough and kept the other half (minus the 2nd rising) in the freezer. Just defrost, shape and leave to rise when needed)


about 200 - 250 g minced mutton
80 - 100 g bacon, chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp salt (depending on how salty your bacon is)
2 tbs mayonnaise
2 tbs mild mustard / dijon (your preference, I used good ol' American mustard)

(This was enough for only 2 - 3 large patties. You can always make your patties smaller provided your buns are just as small. I had big buns … and I'm talking bread here.)

*Note: I don't like binders and fillers in my burgers. Feel free to add an egg and breadcrumbs to the mince if you like.


Place mince, bacon and fennel seeds into a food processor. Buzz until well combined and finely minced. Remove and place into a mixing bowl together with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
Form into tight patties and keep in the refrigerator until you're ready to grill or freeze them if you're not cooking them on the same day.
Grill until cooked through, about 4 - 5 minutes each side.
Leave to rest for a few minutes before assembling.


1 - 2 tbs quince paste
2 small onions, diced
1 red chilly, seeded and finely chopped
2 - 3 tbs chopped coriander
1 small japanese cucumber, center core removed and diced
juice of 1 lime


Toss everything together and leave in the fridge until ready to be used.

(don't let the looks fool you .. they actually taste very good!)


2 large waxy potatoes, cut into french fries sized sticks
cheddar cheese
monterey jack cheese
sweet paprika
cayenne pepper


Place potato sticks on a lined baking pan in one layer. Do not overlap.
Grate cheese over potatoes. (It's up to you how much you want it to be).
Sprinkle paprika and cayenne pepper over that … again, it's all about how spicy you like your fries.
Dot butter all over and bake in a 200˚C oven for 10 -12 mins or until cheese has turned nice and golden. Serve immediately.

DISCLAIMER: This is by no means a healthy meal. Consider it an indulgence. Devour at your own risk.

Mar 6, 2012

Revamped: Coconut Banana Pudding Pie

This is going to be a very popular category in my list real soon ... Revamps.
I love taking a basic recipe and revamping it with all sorts of variations and this one seemed the perfect candidate for it.

The Coconut Pie was certainly one of the most easy recipes I've come across in my years of baking (which isn't many ... I was a late learner and still learning). It is definitely a very good recipe on its own already. It isn't fussy and I doubt anything can go wrong with it so I figured it would be good to use as a base recipe for my kitchen "adventures".

I had some bananas ripening faster than I know what to do with. So I had decided to try adding them in here knowing that bananas and coconut go very well together since many of our local cakes and desserts have that combination. What turned out was more of a pudding since the added mashed bananas changed the texture and the level of moisture in this. You can omit the dessicated coconut since the coconut cream is enough to compliment the bananas... unless you prefer the gritty texture of it. The magical separation of the custard and dessicated coconut in the basic recipe doesn't happen here since the filling is way too dense.

The amounts for this is small since it was an experiment so feel free to double up the recipe if you like. The suggested baking time is just perfect for this size so you may have to adjust for a larger pie.

Oh, and I've discovered that this tastes great when it's cold! Well, that's just my tastebuds talking ... you decide for yourself which you prefer.


1 medium / 2 small ripe bananas, mashed ... mushed would be better, unless you prefer it slightly chunky


Serve warm or cold with ice cream, custard, milk ...

Mar 1, 2012

Easy as Coconut Pie

You know those days when you see a recipe that you like and don't have nice pieces of paper at hand and so you just grab the nearest teeny piece of what's available and scribble down as much as you can in that teeny space? Thank goodness for computers today so that we can clip, cut, copy, bookmark, print ...

Well, I'd found this very yellowed piece of paper .... hang on, ... oh, it's a Post It, it's supposed to be yellow! Anyway, it's old, wrinkly and crumpled. Scrawled on it was this recipe for I-have-no-idea-what-the-name-is cake. I don't know where I'd copied it from, or maybe someone told me about it and I wrote it down or I'd hurriedly copied it from a cooking show on tv .... and no picture reference to know if this turned out right.

BUT ... I can tell you this .... it is delicious! The fragrance and richness of the coconut cream really works here.

I'd call this a cake/pudding/custard pie. The magical part about this, other than being incredibly easy to whip up (no whipping required, actually), is that the cake sorts itself out into separate layers of coconut at the top and the custardy cake below.

Don't believe me? Try it out for yourself.
Oh, this is a reduced sugar recipe. All sweet toothed folks can add another 1/4 cup sugar to the mix.


1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup (scant) sugar
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
60 g butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup coconut cream


Preheat oven to 180˚C.
Lightly grease pie dish. (I used a 6 1/2" square pie dish)

Sift flour into mixing bowl.
Stir in everything else. Mix until combined.
Pour into pie dish.
Bake for about 40 - 45 mins or until the top is golden.
Serve warm or cold, with ice cream, custard or on its own.

* Didn't I tell you it was incredibly easy?

PS: I've finally got Ping's Pickings onto facebook and Google+. In case google friend connect really goes away, you're always welcome to visit and follow me here and here.
See you there!

PPS: I've had some good reviews about this and seen them (beautifully made) at these places ... go visit, ogle at their pics and check out their verdict. I'm soooo happy! (If you'd made this and posted about it and would like to join the fun here, please let me know and I'll link you up. Thanks for trying it out!) ... who'd have thunk a teeny, crumply piece of paper could produce so much happiness? :D