Wednesday 26 November 2014

Christmas Star-Shaped Breads with Brown Sugar

Well, here again ... not fond in baking bread but baked breads twice in a row within a week. So, what has caught my eyes or interest me ? The lovely designs of course. But I'm so eager to try out these star shapes ... I supposed this star-shaped breads can be baked any time ... so I couldn't wait till Christmas ... lol ! Also, with some left-over cake flour, just nice to finish it off.

Recipe source : cookpad
Below my slightly modified version and notes in blue.

Christmas Star-Shaped Breads with Brown Sugar
190g Bread flour
60g Cake flour
70g brown sugar (I used 60g)
145ml Milk
5g Dry yeast
25 Shortening (I replaced with unsalted softened butter)
3g Salt
Some pistachio nuts for decoration.

1) In a small pan, heat and warm the milk to body temperature. Add all the ingredients except butter into a bowl, and mix well. (I used stand mixer fitted with the dough hook to mix the ingredients in low speed. Gradually add the milk in to gauge the texture).
When it starts to come together, add the butter then knead by hand into a soft, smooth dough. (I added about 1.5 tablespoons of bread flour as the dough is slightly sticky).
Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

2) This dough contains a lot of sugar, so it takes a long time to rise. (Mine took about 1 hour 25 mins - 1st proofing). After the proofing, gently punch down, divide into 10 even pieces, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
(I weighed the dough and divided 6 rounds of 65g each, used remaining to make some smaller designs for the center)

3) Then form into shapes. The picture shows how to do it.

Cropped pictures from the web page for easy reference:

4) Make an octagonal, hexagonal, pentagonal star shapes according to the size of the dough.

5) The dough looks like this. When the cuts are deep, the star-shapes look nice after baked. Proof the dough (2nd proofing).
(I covered the dough and let it rest about 15mins)
The next step is baking.

6) Decorate a little with some nuts. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Check the bread after 10 minutes.

Baked these for our brekkie ... but couldn't wait to try one for supper. Yummy! The bread is soft and not too sweet. I find that this dough is like Honey Bread, not sticky and very easy to handle. Will definitely bake these again during Christmas ^-^!

I'm linky this post to Cook and Celebrate (Christmas 2014), organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

I am submitting this post to Best Recipes for Everyone (November 2014 Event: My Bread Story) hosted by Fion (XuanHom's Mon Kitchen Diary).

Monday 24 November 2014

Chicken Parmigiana

Browsing through Bobby Flay's recipes again ... and hoping to zoom down "not too long list of ingredients and not too complicated cooking" recipe.

Aha ! Yes ! Chicken breast (my favourite part of the poultry). Gosh ! ... still quite a long list of ingredients for this dish >~< 
Still, I went ahead to cook this Chicken Parmigiana even I don't have the complete ingredients... cos I could taste the food this time ... hee.. hee.. 
(the first time I attempted Bobby Flay's recipe was specially cooked for my girl here but didn’t get to taste it as I'm not a fan for fish)

Recipe adapted from: Food Network with some modifications made in blue:

Chicken Parmigiana 
Serves 4 persons
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
4 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons water and seasoned with salt and pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 cup vegetable oil or pure olive oil
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (I used Cheddar cheese)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Fresh basil or parsley leaves, for garnish

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed with some kosher salt to make a paste
2 (28-ounce) cans plum tomatoes and their juices, pureed in a blender (I blend some mixture of tomatoes & Cherry tomatoes instead)
1 (16-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 bay leaf (omitted)
1 small bunch Italian parsley
1 Cubano chile pepper, chopped (omitted)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 °C).

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
Dredge each breast in the flour and tap off excess, then dip in the egg and let excess drip off, then dredge on both sides in the bread crumbs.

Divide the oil between 2 large saute pans and heat over high heat until almost smoking.
Add 2 chicken breasts to each pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Cook about 2 minutes per side in the frying pan

Transfer to a baking sheet and top each breast with some tomato sauce, a few slices of the mozzarella, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of Parmesan.
Bake in the oven until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from the oven and garnish with basil or parsley leaves.

To make the Tomato Sauce:
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add pureed tomatoes with their juices, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 cup water, bay leaf, parsley, Cubano pepper, and bring to a boil.
Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.

*I've prepared and cooked the tomato sauce a day ahead.

It's pretty easy to cook the chicken. Seasoned it with salt and pepper both sides. Next to coat with flour, dip into egg and coat with bread crumbs .. off they went into frying pan ... off they jumped into the oven !
Hee hee... While doing those gentle yet swift actions, a flash of one of my favourite TV advertisements (many many years ago probably in the late 80s) crossed my mind ... I don't know if you have ever seen a CorningWare advertisement with background of a very nice & sweet humming tune  that goes something like this : "from the fire,  to the oven ... to the table ~~"! 

Done ! Tender juicy chicken ... Yummy-licious !

Have a great week ahead &
Happy cooking ^-^!

I'm submitting this post to Cook like a Star event - Bobby Flay organised by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids, Yen from Eat Your Heart Out and Grace from Life can be simple 

Saturday 22 November 2014

Honey Bread

The weather here is so predictable ... sunny in the morning but raining heavily in the afternoon for the past few days.  Making me feel kinda moody too.

Well, toying what to bake on my weekend .... let's see ..
Cupcakes? Nah ... don't feel like having butter creamy stuff.
Muffin?   Just baked Jam-Doughnut muffin.
Bread? Hmm ... should I .. should I not ...
To be honest,  I still have not cultivated my fond interest in bread baking even though I've tried twice.

I've bookmarked this bread recipe which I love the lovely design.

Okay!  Better to get things started on a sunny morning before it rain in the afternoon ... hee ... hee! It's time for playdough with some flour ^-^! As only 2 of us, I halved the recipe and made only the wheat design portion.

Freshly baked ^-^!

Should have shaped it longer and
thinner .. looks like pineapple?  Hee hee!

Honey Bread
Recipe source: Seasons and Suppers
I halved the recipe below my slightly modified version :

90ml cup warm water
1 teaspoon instant or dry active yeast
250 gm all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of salt

Add yeast to warm water, stir and allow to sit for a few minutes. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour.

Add the yeast/water mixture, the honey, oil and salt. Mix the dough until it comes together, adding a bit more water or flour, as necessary, then knead by hand or with your dough hook, into a soft, smooth dough. (I added about 2 tablespoons of water as the dough rather dry)

Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 30-60 minutes.

When the dough has doubled, place on a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so.
Divide the *dough and roll with your palms to shape it to oval shape and knead/adjust the design.
* 6 : 50g each
   3 : 30g each
   Remaining for ribbons

To make the wheat, use some clean kitchen scissors to snip v-shaped.
Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Coat with a mixture of  1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon of oil.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C until golden and cooked through, about 15 - 17 minutes.
Enjoying my brunch at my cosy corner. 

Really nice! The sweet crunchy crispy crust and tasty soft inside ! Love it ^-^

I am submitting this post to Best Recipes for Everyone (November 2014 Event: My Bread Story) hosted by Fion (XuanHom's Mon Kitchen Diary).

Friday 21 November 2014

Jam-Doughnut Muffins Bake-Along #71

I've not tasted doughnut muffin ... I'm not too crazy about doughnut actually.
And I've yet to try out any doughnut recipe. But occasionally I would pop-by bakery shops to buy a few doughnuts for my kids.

I've missed a few 'Bake Along' sessions with the three ladies. Seeing those lovely and yummy Jam-Doughnut Muffins baked by them and our friends here definitely had inspired me to learn and bake along with them too ^-^!

Hee hee... I'm kinda lazy to wash the muffin pan ... hee .. hee ... use the disposable aluminium foil cups ! (Clever me ... >○<)

Aiyoh ! Half of the jam doughnut muffins 'vomitted blood' from the sides (the strawberry jam oozed out).

Jam-Doughnut Muffins
(adapted from Nigella Lawson here) with slight modification in blue

125ml milk
85ml corn oil or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
200gm self-raising flour
100gm caster sugar (I used 60gm)
12 teaspoons strawberry jam (or any of your favourite jam)

100gm unsalted butter
150gm granulated sugar + 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a 6-hole muffin pan. (I used 8 disposal aluminium foil cups)

With a fork or hand whisk, beat together the milk, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Stir this into the flour and 60gm sugar to just combine. (It doesn’t matter there are lumps as if you overbeat the batter, the muffins will be hard and tough.)

Spoon the mixture into each muffin mould so that its just under a third full. Then with a teaspoon add a dollop of strawberry jam - about the size of a fat lima bean- then top with more muffin mix so that the cases are just about full.

Put them in a preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until the tops feel springy and resistant and the muffins have puffed up into little toadstools.
(Ha ha ! Mine are quite flat-headed)

For the coating :  Melt the butter. Combine the extra sugar and the cinnamon in a large bowl. When the muffins are cool enough to handle, brush each muffin (top only) with the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon sugar. Serve while still a little warm.

Couldn't wait to try them ... truly yummy .. soft and tender crumbs ^-^!

Have a great weekend !

Bake-Along #71 : Jam Doughnut Muffins

  I am linking this post to the Bake Along event created by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours,  Lena of Frozen Wings and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Vanilla Soufflé

I fell in love with Soufflé when I had my first taste of it at the cafe many years ago. What attracted me was the fluffy 'collar' rose above the rim of the ramekin. The sweet 'mousse-like' texture was light and airy when I made spoonfuls into my mouth ... slowly, gently and carefully cos it was hot. Well, shouldn't that to be the way to enjoy the delicate dessert ? Hee ... hee..

When I learn to bake, Soufflé is definitely on my 'to-bake' list.  Like chiffon or baked cheese cakes, I know baking Soufflé may not be as easy and perhaps need some practices to perfect it.

After watching many times the video tutorial, I finally decided to give a try ... a basic Vanilla Soufflé.

The sunken souffle when I was half-way through ...
see the mousse-like texture.

Recipe adapted from Eugenie Kitchen
Vanilla Soufflé
For 2 1-cup-ramekins or 4 1/2-cup-ramekins

1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter (14g)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (10g)
1/2 cup milk, hot (120 ml)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons caster sugar (30g)
2 eggs, medium-sized, seperated
Pinch of salt
Confectioners’ sugar, to serve (I used Snow powder)
Additional butter and caster sugar to prepare the ramekins

Brush the ramekins with softened unsalted butter. Brush from bottom upwards. This will make the soufflé to rise evenly. Then, coat the ramekins with sugar. And shake out any excess; set aside.

2. BECHAMEL SAUCE (white sauce)
Over medium heat, add butter in the sauce pan and melt it. Add in the flour and cook for 1 minute stirring with a wooden spoon. This is white roux.

Remove the pan from the heat, gradually add hot milk, and stir until smooth and combined. Back to medium heat stir constantly until it comes to a boil. The sauce should form ribbons. This is white sauce. Remove from the heat.

Add in salt and vanilla extract and stir until combined. Separate the eggs and add in the egg yolks one by one and stir to combine. The sauce pan is still warm, so pour the sauce into a separate bowl to prevent unwanted evaporation; set aside.

Whisk egg whites. It is not mixing. It is incorporating the air. Keep whisking until firm peaks form. Add gradually sugar while slowly whisking. Keep whisking until soft peaks form. This is French meringue. It takes about 20 minutes with hand.
(I used an electric stand mixer,  beat at medium to high speed for about 3 minutes)

4. COMBINE (2) AND (3)
Add about one third of the French meringue into the white sauce and whisk until homogeneous. Then, pour all white sauce into meringue and whisk until just combined. Be careful not to crush the delicate meringue.

Spoon the mixture into ramekins. Run thumb around inside of rim. This will help the soufflé to rise straight. Bake in the oven preheated to 390° F. (200° C.) for 12 to 15 minutes, or until well risen. {Mine took 14 minutes}

Place on a plate because ramekins are very hot. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately out of oven.

Well, they rose high above the rims when inside the oven. Once taken out, they were ... gosh ! slightly lopsided ... hee hee !

Girl : Mom, are you done with the photos snapping?
Mom : No, I need to dust some snow powder on it ... and decorate with raspberries ... and ...
Girl : Mom, QUICK !  Looks like it's sinking !
Mom : Okay!  Done in 5 minutes !

Although not perfectly rise evenly, the top crust is golden and firm, the texture tasted good.
Hmm ... yummy ! Enjoy our Soufflé ^-^!

Girl : Mom, next time you try bake Chocolate Soufflé.
Mom : Easy, just add some cocoa powder ...
Girl : No, to pour chocolate sauce into the center of the baked Soufflé ... I show you the recipe.
Mom : Huh ?! Gosh ! That’s the advanced stage ... I'm not there yet !

Have a blessed week !

Saturday 15 November 2014

Cranberry Coconut Streusel Muffins

These muffins are so "plain" looking. With the coconut streusel topping ... really don't know how to "dress" them up to make them look more appealing.  

Okay, just decorate them with some chocolates and chocolate Pocky! 

Do they looked like the sandy desert to you ? Ha ... ha ! Well ... I really don't know what they looked like .... I just 'dress' them with whatever "deemed appropriate props" I could find on the dining table.

Recipe source: Joy of Baking Blueberry Streusel Muffins with changes made in some ingredients (omitted blueberries as didn't have any on hand), my modified version below :

Cranberry Coconut Streusel Muffins:
Makes 6 muffins
1 large egg
100ml fresh milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
190 grams all purpose flour
70g grams raw light brown sugar
1 teaspoonbaking powder
Pinch of salt
50 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
40g dried cranberries
20g dessicated coconut
1.5 tablespoon unsalted butter - melted to make streusel

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Place rack in center of oven.

2) Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners or lightly butter the muffin cups or spray them with a non stick vegetable spray.

3) In a bowl whisk the egg with the milk and vanilla extract.

4) In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar, baking powder, dessicated coconut and salt.

5) Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, your fingertips, or two knives. (The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.) Remove 60 grams of the mixture and set aside in a separate bowl to make the streusel topping.

6) To the remaining muffin batter, gently fold in the dried cranberries. Add the milk and egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. (Do not over mix this mixture or the muffins will be tough when baked.) Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full with the batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.

7) Bake the muffins for about 18 - 23 minutes or until firm and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool before serving.

Streusel Topping:
Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and stir into the reserved one cup 60 grams of flour mixture until it is crumbly and looks like coarse meal. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the streusel on top of each muffin.

These muffins are at their best the day they're made, but they can be covered and stored at room temperature for about 2 days.

Girl : why decorated 3 muffins only ?
Mom : no more Pocky ....
Girl : why decorated with green colour chocolate?
Mom : green colour like cactus ....
Girl : Ha ha hah ! Cactus?! ... don't look like it !
Mom : ~-~ speechless !

Have a great weekend ^-^!

Submitting this post to "My Treasured Recipes #3 - Taste of Autumn (Oct/Nov 2014)" hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Baked Oatmeal with Pumpkin and Bananas

We could finish a big plate of fried carrot cake, wanton noodle, scrambled eggs & sausages, slices of cakes & muffins etc. for our breakfast. But I'm quite sceptical in making oatmeal for our breakfast if in 'oathy' form or porridge like as we are not used to it. Since I've started to introduce some healthy and nutritious bakes by adding oats in muffins and fruits crumble, here's sharing this baked oatmeal.  I like that bananas are added (my girl's favourite fruit ... hee ..hee!). And for me, of course I like pumpkin ... can't get enough of it.. lol! Baked a very small quantity for our weekend brekkie.

Recipe adapted from :
My modified version with slight changes made to the ingredients and reduced in quantity.

Baked Oatmeal with Pumpkin and Bananas
Enough for 3 - 4 persons

2 medium ripe bananas, (the riper the better) sliced into 1/2" pieces
100g canned pumpkin
1 tbsp honey
1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
55g uncooked quick oats
25g chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp all ground spice
pinch of salt
120ml skimmed milk (or any milk you desire)
1 small egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375° F (190°C).  Lightly spray a 8 x 8" or 9 x 9" ceramic baking dish with cooking spray, set aside. (I used a 750ml Pyrex dish)

Arrange the banana slices in a single layer on the bottom of the ceramic dish. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the cinnamon, honey and cover with foil. Bake 15 minutes, until the bananas get soft.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of nuts, baking powder, remaining cinnamon, all ground spice and salt; stir together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, milk, egg, and vanilla extract.

Remove the bananas from the oven, then pour the oat mixture over the bananas.

Pour the pumpkin mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the mixture as evenly as possible.  Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the the top.

Bake the oatmeal for about 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set. Serve warm from the oven.

The nice aroma of bananas, cinnamon, pumpkin fragrance ... freshly baked from the oven. Glad that my girl liked it ... and she had 2 big servings. Well, it definitely tasted good on a cool raining morning.

Have a nice weekend ^-^!

Submitting this post to "My Treasured Recipes #3 - Taste of Autumn (Oct/Nov 2014)" hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze

Honestly,  I don't know who Bobby Flay is. And here's the brief introduction of Bobby Flay by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids  :
Accordingly to Wikipedia and American TV, Bobby Flay is a star. He is a famous American celebrity chef and also the owner of several restaurants: Mesa Grill, Bar Americain, Bobby Flay Steak, Bobby's Burger Palace and Gato. Besides cooking, Bobby is also a popular reality TV personality. He has hosted 13 cooking shows on Food Network and Cooking channel and also appeared as a guest in many programs.

Aha ! Now I know ! .... he is a star ! ... a famous celebrity chef ! ... obviously, I wanna cook like a star ... hee.. hee lol !  

Here, I've chosen Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze for their (my girl and my sister in-law) weekend dinner at home. 

Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay, below version with slight adjustments made to the quantity and to our taste.

Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze
Serves 2 persons

1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

Vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 salmon fillets (about 80 - 95g each)

Melt the brown sugar, honey and butter in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil and ginger. Let cool.

Preheat grill to medium heat. Brush salmon with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the salmon skin side down on the grill. Coat the flesh of the salmon fillets with the brown sugar mixture. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes to medium doneness, turning once after 3 minutes.

Dinner is ready !
Ha ha ... shuttering picture ... indecisive
in placing the knife and fork
Main Course:
Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze

Side dishes:
Tomatoes & lettuce drizzled in olive oil
Pan-fried potatoes with onions and dried rosemary leaves

Some cut fruits

Mom : how,  do you like this salmon ?
Girl : yes, very nice !
Mom : how do you compare this dish with the first salmon dish (lemon & almond baked salmon) I cooked for you?
Girl : different taste ... that lemon & almond baked salmon is lemony flavour,  full of herbs fragrant too. This mustard glaze salmon taste sweeter but the salmon texture is slightly better ... flaky texture very nice.
Mom : Oh ! meaning ... I've improved in cooking fish ! Well done!
Girl : Salmon cannot be well done, over-cooked not nice.
Mom : I praised myself "Well done" ... not the fish ! Ha ha !^-^

Enjoy & Happy cooking !

I'm submitting this post to Cook like a Star event - Bobby Flay organised by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids, Yen from Eat Your Heart Out and Grace from Life can be simple 

Saturday 1 November 2014

Apple, Aloe Vera with Dried Figs

There ! Saw some fresh aloe vera in the supermarket and grabbed a few to make some "cooling effect" dessert soup.

I have a few variations on making this simple aloe vera dessert soup. The quickest way that I've shared in last September during LTU Theme Apple : Green Apple Aloe Vera with Honey Soup

This time, I'm adding some dried figs and sweet & bitter apricot kernels.

Apple, Aloe Vera with Dried Figs
2 small green apples (peeled, cored and quartered)
Dried figs (干无花果) about 10 pcs
Sweet & bitter apricot kernels (南,北杏) about 1 teaspoon each
Aloe vera (fresh) about 200g cut in chunky cubes
Water 1.5 ltr
Crystal rock sugar a few pieces (adjust the sweetness to your preference)

Add rock sugar, dried figs & apricot kernels into a pot of hot boiling water to boil about 10 - 15 mins in medium-low flame. 
Add apples, boil a further 10 mins.
Lastly add in the aloe vera and boil another 5 mins.

Freshly cut aloe vera

Done and ready to be served!

Served either hot or chilled ... Enjoying a bowl of sweet refreshing and nourishing Apple Aloe Vera with Dried Figs dessert soup.

Enjoy ! Have a blessed weekend ^-^