How I Wish This World Is As Colourful As A Rainbow–Cranberries Raisins Rainbow Loaf

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INTRODUCTION

Guaishushu told himself, once in a while playing with colouring is okay since he did not have a chance to colour since after schooling.

Two months ago, he “accidentally’ brought a full set of colouring intended for icing decoration for about SGD 30 and he thought that it’s only SGD3. By hook and by crook, he wanted to use up some of his colouring and he knew that the only colour that he really needed and always used is the red colour for the preparation of red eggs during his kids’ Lunar calendar birthday celebration. Besides making the red eggs, he really don’t know what to do with these colourings!

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One day, when he was browsing his Flipboard application in iPhone, he saw some rainbow loaf which is extremely beautiful but he is hesitant whether or not he should proceed to prepare this since it will need a lot of colourings.

Though it is generally not encouraged to consume too much food with colouring, but there should be government regulations that governed the import of permitted food colourings. If it is hazardous to health, he shouldn’t be able to get it in this “efficiently administered” country, Singapore. He searched the manufacturer Wilton LLC, apparently, it is an USA well established company set up in 1929. He told himself he is just a commoner, if this company had been established for so many years, their products must have been used by many people in the world and he should not casting doubt on its product reliability! In this thinking process, he gradually convinced himself that it is acceptable for him to prepare the bread!

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He knew that if he bake the bread, he will have nothing to worry about the “marketability” of his rainbow loaf as his kids will definitely fight for the bread. While he was struggling to make a decision, he certainly thought of a blog “Bake for Happy Kids” by Ms. Zoe. Her blog title is correct, he should bake to make his kids happy!

This post is about rainbow raisin and cranberry loaf. Guaishushu aims are to share about the making of rainbow loaf and raisin loaf. Therefore if readers are not fond of making the rainbow loaf, he can just make the raisin loaf instead.



WHAT IS REQUIRED

This recipe was adopted from the Sarawak buns recipe here and some of the picture are in the above mentioned post.

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  • 360 g of bread flour (you can substitute 10 g of bread flour with milk powder, in that case you need only 350 g of bread flour)

  • 70 g of beaten egg

  • 60 g of sugar

  • 40 g of butter – soften

  • 90 g of tangzhong (refer below)

  • 110 ml of fresh milk

  • 11 g of instant dry yeast ( 1 package)

  • 7 different types of colour gel or colouring (refer below)

  • 100 g of raisins and/or cranberry soaked in water/rum.

  • Pinches of salt

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THE PROCESS OF MAKING RAISIN AND CRANBERRY RAINBOW LOAF

This illustration will use the Tangzhong method of bread making and it involved 4 stages in the following orders:

Part 1 – Making the Tanzhong (Water Roux)

Part 2 – Preparing and Colouring the Dough for the 1st Proofing

Part 3 – Wrapping of Cranberries and Raisins and 2nd Proofing

Part 4 – The Baking Process



Part 1 – Making the Tanzhong (Water Roux)

PLEASE REFER TO THIS POST for the making of Tanzhong and reasons and history of Tanzhong.



Part 2 – Preparing and Colouring the Dough for the 1st Proofing

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  • Mix all ingredients except softened butter and beat at slow speed for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the softened butter and continue kneading at medium high-speed for about 20-30 minutes or when the dough did not stick to the wall of your mixing bowl and do not break when you pull the dough.

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  • In a flat surface dusted with normal or bread flour, take out the dough from the mixing bowl and slightly knead it using hand for 1-2 minutes and shape it into a ball.
  • Weigh the ball and divide into 7 equal portions.

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  • Take one dough and place some colour gel and knead until all the colour are even. Keep in a lightly greased bowl and covered with lightly greased cling wrap to prevent moisture loss.
  • Do the same for the remaining 6 dough with your desired colours.
  • Leave it to proof until almost double in size. This should be about 30-45 minutes depending on the day’s weather.

Colour Selection

For this pictorial illustration, the colours that I have selected was in this order (from left to right and eventually from the top level to the bottom level):

Lemon YellowGolden yellowPink”No-taste” RedKelly GreenRoyal BlueViolet

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Part 3 – Wrapping of Cranberries and Raisins and 2nd Proofing

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  • Lightly grease a loaf tin with a cover.

  • Get ready a small bowl of water and the raisins and/or cranberries to be wrapped in the dough.

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  • Start with the lowest layer, take out the violet dough and use a roller to roll into roughly the size of the loaf tin.

  • Brush slightly with some water on the surface and place your raisins/cranberries.

  • Get the royal blue dough (second bottom layer) and use the roller to roll into roughly the size of the loaf tin.

  • Place the royal blue dough on top of the violet dough. Press the sides and ensure that the royal blue dough and the violet dough stick together.

  • Brush slightly with some water on the surface and place some raisins and/or cranberries.

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  • Get the Kelly green dough (third bottom layer) and use the roller to roll into roughly the size of the loaf tin.

  • Place the Kelly green dough on top of the royal blue dough. Press the sides and ensure that the Kelly green dough and the royal blue dough stick together on the sides.

  • Repeat the same for all the other layers and finished with the lemon yellow dough on the top.


Part 4 – The Baking Process

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  • Place the dough into the lightly greased loaf tin and let it proof until it is double in size. How long it will take depend very much on the weather and today, it took me another 45 minutes to reach the desired size I want.

  • Set the oven temperature to 200 degree Celsius

  • When the second proofing is done, i.e when the dough have double the size, bake in the oven for 30 –45 minutes..

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  • At about 35 minutes or when you start to smell the aroma of the bread, use an oven thermometer and insert into the bread and see if the temperature inside the loaf is more than 90 degrees Celsius. If it is less than 90 degrees Celsius, your bread will not be cooked and it is likely that when you take out the thermometer, there will be some wet dough stick with your thermometer. In this case, continue baking until when you inserted again the oven thermometer, the thermometer shows at least 90 degrees Celsius. If you find that the top starts to turn brownish, you can lower the temperature by 10 degree Celsius. General rule of thumb is that if you are unsure, rather bake slightly longer than under cooked.

  • If you don’t have an oven thermometer, one way of testing is after about 45 minutes (which is a reasonable timing for this size of loaf), take out the loaf from the loaf tin and try to use your finger to knock the bottom of the loaf. If it is a hollow sound, your loaf is cooked, otherwise, the loaf is uncooked. Put it back into the loaf tin and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes until you are certain that the dough is cooked. Again, if the top layer has signs of getting burnt, lower the temperature slightly.

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Note that the LOAF IS NOT BURNT. The dark brown color is the color of the violet dough on the side of the loaf.

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CONCLUSION

While too much food colouring is not advisable, I choose to believe the Government’s stand on permitted food colouring. As long as consumption is not too often, such colouring shall not post a/any serious health hazard to our body.

While I am making this loaf, the kids were schooling. When they were back, I asked them to close their eyes and show it to them, “wow” are their reactions! They can’t believe that I am baking this loaf. They have requested to eat a piece of the bread but rejected by me because dinner is to start in 10 minutes time. In their mind, the loaf will definitely much tastier! Once in a while, why not bake your kids something “extraordinary” and joined them for a rainbow breakfast! Trust me, it will definitely a “colourful” and “fruitful” breakfast!

Hope you like this post on Cranberries and Raisins Rainbow Loaf. Have a nice day ahead and cheers.

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I am submitting this to Welcome To All My Bloggy Friends and #Recipeoftheweek

8646468202_0880f459d1   Link up your recipe of the week

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One Number Baking Ratio Adventures Continues… Grapefruit Cognac Pound Cake With Grapefruit Posset…

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INTRODUCTION

One number baking ratio adventures continues and gradually extends to other pastry. I have explained in this post about how I want to apply this ratio to cup cakes, muffins, fruit cakes, layered cakes and other pound cakes. The main objective is to further testify this ratio and giving assurance that this easy to remember simple ratio will beneficial lazy people like me. Very briefly, Guaishushu believes that egg : flour : sugar : butter : milk (or other liquids) can be 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 : 1, hence called it “one number baking ratio”.  You may also be interested in the following posts based on principle of one number baking ratio:

Today, he is going to twist a little bit to become a fruity pound cake and served with grapefruit posset – a traditional Western drink/dessert.

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ONE NUMBER BAKING RATIO VS FRENCH’S QUATRE à QUATRE

As one reader pointed out that the ratios that I am using is basically the “quatre à quatre” ratio used in French cake making and I am basically just reinventing the wheels and revert back to the traditional ratios.

I tends to agree  with this and in fact, I am ignorant about the above ratios before the reader pointed out. I have to thank him for his knowledgeable input.

It is really a coincidence that all the while I am fond of using one number and it would be ideal if it applies to all cakes. I have written in the reply to the reader: I do not think that I am brilliant enough to create a good theory as cooking is just my passion! However, if you analyse in details,“quatre à quatre” ratio differs from Guaishushu’s “one number baking ratio” in that there is a portion of milk (or other liquids) which I insisted to be included in this ratio. So, Guaishushu is just promoting this modified traditional ratios instead of remembering different ratios for different ingredients and for different cakes.

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WHY THIS CAKE?

Grapefruit again? Yes, though Guaishushu just issued a post on Grapefruit Chiffon Cake – Grapefruit Chiffon with Grapefruit Citrus Glaze,… Ever Try This?, however, as grapefruit is very cheap in Singapore this month, I can’t help but to grab another 5 large and juicy grapefruits for SGD2.85 and I am thinking of preparing some other cakes with this fruit. While thinking of what cake to bake, i realized that I have a cognac sitting in my kitchen shelf for many years that I have never used it because I am allergic to alcohol. In fact, when I tried to open it, the cork on the bottle have broken (too dry) and I have to sift the alcohol and transfer to another small bottles.

This cake is rather simple to make and again it is based on Guaishushu’s one number baking ratio. To make is slightly different, I have substituted some portion of milk with grapefruit juices and  addition of some grapefruit peels. With the aim of differentiating this cake with other cakes, I have made the cake slightly pinkish and of course all these colouring are optional.

Note that the recipe applies equally well to an orange cake. Just substitute grapefruits with oranges.

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SELECTION OF GRAPEFRUITS AND PREPARATION OF GRAPEFRUIT PEELS

I will take this opportunity to share with readers about the selection of grapefruits that are juicy after many years of observation!

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The grapefruits on the left were smooth with lights reflection. As it is smooth, it implied that the air holes in the skin are very small and therefore moisture loss will be less than the grapefruit on the right. As contrast to grapefruit on the left, grapefruit on the right appeared to have more holes and if you touch it, you will find some unevenness on the surface. More moisture will be lost and at times, it will feel a bit like a sponge when you squeeze it. Therefore, when one buy a grapefruit, just ensure that it is smooth and full when you squeeze it.

Preparing The Grapefruit Peels

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I am peeling the grapefruit using the above peeler. I just peel in the S shape and a nice pattern will evolve. Try not to peel too deep as the white spongy skin can be rather bitter. Make sure the grapefruits or oranges was thoroughly wash before it the peeling begins. Cut into small strips and chopped fine before adding to the batter as required below.



WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 grams of white sugar (divided into 100 grams for beating of egg whites and 150 grams for beating of egg yolks)

  • 250 grams of self raising flours (sifted)

  • about 250 grams of egg white and egg yolks (about 5 eggs separated into egg yolks and egg whites) (Note below for calculation)

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  • 150 grams of milks (Note below for calculation) – Balancing

  • 100 grams of grapefruit juice (Note below for calculation) – Fixed

  • 150 gram of grapefruit peels

  • 5 tablespoons of rum or any other alcoholic drinks (cognac, whisky or others) – Optional

  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar (optional)

Note: Calculation of liquid required

In accordance to one number baking ratio – eggs plus milk should be equal to 500 grams.

Today, my eggs yolks and egg whites worked out to be  298 grams, therefore, the balancing of milk used is 500 grams (total milk + eggs) less 100 grams (grapefruit juice) less 298 grams (egg yolks + egg whites) =  102 grams of milk (actual usage after considering egg size)

 


STEPS OF PREPARATION

The steps of preparation will involve:

  • Beating of egg whites , creaming of butters, mixing of flours and folding of egg whites

  • Making of pinky patterns (optional)

  • Baking

  • Making the grapefruit posset (optional)

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Preparation…

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius



Beating of egg whites , creaming of butters, mixing of flours and folding of egg whites

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  • In a clean, grease free mixing bowl, add egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar. Beat using the machine whisk to whisk the egg whites until firm peak. Spoon the filling into a clean bowl and set aside for later use.

  • Change your whisk to a K beater, place your remaining 150 g sugar and butter, beat until light and creamy.

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  • Add in the grapefruit peels and eggs yolks and use slow speed to “mix” until well mixed. Eggs yolk should be added one by one and scrap the bottom of the bowl to ensure no unmixed egg yolk settled at the bottom of the mixing bowl.

  • Add in 1/3 of the sifted flours, add in 1/3 of milk and 1/3 of the grapefruit juice, used slow speed to mix together. Repeat for the other 2/3 portion. Off the machine and bring out the mixing bowl.

  • Once well mixed, fold in the egg white swiftly and lightly until the batter are smooth.



Making of pinky patterns (optional)…

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  • Take out about 1/4 of the of the batter and add 2 drops of red colouring (optional). Mix well.

  • In the greased cake tin (note that I have also slightly floured it but this is optional), start with 4 big tablespoons of the beige batter. Add 2 tablespoons of pink batter on top of the beige batters. Shake it slightly so that the batter spread over a wider surface. Add another 3 tablespoons of beige batter on top of the pink batters follow by 1 tablespoon of pink batter on top of the beige batter. Do the same for the next step using 2 tablespoons and finally one tablespoon until all the batter have finished. In the event you still have left over, just create another pattern with the batter that you have!



Baking….

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  • Shake the baking tin slightly and baked at 180 degree Celsius from the first 30 minutes.

  • Reduce the temperature to 150 degree Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes or until the top turn yellowish brown and until a skewer comes out clean.

  • Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for at least 1 hour before cutting the cake. It is best to let it rest overnight if time permits.

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Making of Grapefruit Posset

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

  • 120 grams of white sugar

  • 1.5 cups of cream

  • 150 grams of grapefruit

Note: Most posset will called for double thick cream, however, since I wanted it to use as some form of toppings, I will use normal cream for whipping. As such, the curdling will not be less strong and easier to pour.


STEPS OF PREPARATOIN

  • In a sauce pan, place the cream and sugar.

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  • Cooked under low heat and bring to boil and let it boil slowly for 2-3 minutes.

  • Off the heat and add in the grapefruit juice. Chilled for at least 3 hours or overnight.

  • Pour on top of the cake and let it drip naturally.

Note that whether you posset will successfully curdled will very much depends on the acidity of your grapefruit. If your grapefruit is sour, it will curdle easily. If it can’t curdle, add in few drops of fresh lemon juice. The use of normal cream and grapefruit juice will produce a posset that are slightly runny which is easier for you to pour on top of the cakes.

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CONCLUSION

A simple cake to make using one number baking ratio. However, the twist to add in grapefruit peels and cognac transformed it into a cake that is full of fruity and cognac fragrance. While posset is generally served with biscuits, the modified grapefruit posset goes well with this cake and will heighten and wake up one’s palate especially  with a cup of Earl Grey tea!

Hope you like this cake and have a nice day. Cheers

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I am submitting this post to Little Thumbs Up “Eggs” event organized by organized by Bake for Happy Kids, my little favourite DIY and hosted by (Baby Sumo of Eat Your Heart Out). You can link your egg recipes here.

I am also submitting this to #recipeoftheweek and Marvelous Monday and Welcome to all My Bloggy Friends

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One Number Ratio Baking Adventures – Layered Pound Cake ………

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This is a post with no recipe. This is Guaishushu’s baking adventures.

As mentioned in Guaishushu’s zebra pattern pound cake, Guaishushu don’t like to follow recipes and remember numbers. Therefore, Guaishushu is constantly experimenting his 1 number pound cake ratio theory, that is 1 egg : 1 butter : 1 flour : 1 sugar : 1 milk (hereinafter refer to as “One number Ratio”) and today, he applied this to the famous Indonesian Layered Cake (Kek Lapis). However, as he is in the experimenting stage, he did not care much about the details on the additions of spices, control of temperature and etc.

He assured that he will publish a full post with detailed recipe and illustrations.

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The origins of Indonesian layered cakes is believed to be the Baumkuchen/Tree cake, an authentic cake in Germany and Holland. However, due to the Dutch colonization of Indonesia, the Dutch had modified the traditional version by incorporation of local spices. Therefore, the Indonesian layered cake is called the lapis legit (spiced layered cake) whereby a spice mix were added to the batters.

Based on Guaishushu’s One number cake ratio pound cake as mentioned in this post, Guaishushu believed that “one number ratio” can apply to cup cakes, fruit cakes and other cakes such as layered cake. Of course, the cakes could not be called baumkuchen but it is just  a “layered pound cake” baking using total different ingredients ratio..

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The taste of the cake is similar with the pound cake but the texture is difference, slightly denser. Putting the legit spice mix, it will taste like the Indonesia Kek Lapis Legit.

The difference with the original texture of pound cake  is because of the differences in the method of making the layered cake though ratio is the same. The constant layering of the cakes will make it dense. In addition, the temperature used is higher to make the layered cake therefore becoming drier. With slight tuning of the oven temperature, timing of layering, the cake can be as beautiful and as delicious as with other common Indonesian layered cakes.

While most common layered cakes will required about 10-30 eggs, this cake only uses 5 eggs. In addition, some recipes uses 500g butter whereas this is the pound cake that uses 250g of butter only. That could also resulted a cake that is denser and less moist than other layered cakes.

 

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Just give readers a glimpse of how to bake a layer cake, you will have to use top heat for baking. Put a few tablespoons of batter each time until the top layer turns brownish. Continue until all the batters finished.

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Well, that is Guaishushu’s experimentation with the making of layered pound cake. Do making of layered cake have  any short cut? Can the “one number ratio” applicable to a layered cake? Guaishushu believes that the answer is yes!

 

Guaishushu will continue to experiment more recipes using this “one number ratio” and this layered cake will be further modified and tested before the recipe is published.

 

Have a nice day and cheers.

 

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Snake Tongue Tea? Gosh.. I Am Going Away……白花蛇舌草罗汉果茶

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the body is in its best condition when the Yin and Yang is balanced. I am no expert in this field but being  a Chinese, I was “brainwashed” about the need to cleanse /balance your body with some foods and drinks such that your body is in the top notch condition.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_medicine

One of cheapest way of “self medication” or “self balancing” about your body’s Yin and Yang is preparing some herbal drinks at home. There are many many herbs that sometimes i seriously doubt that the grass/weeds that I stepped under my feet are edible and are types of herbs.

In fact, today, one of the herb that I wanted to share with all is a common grass that can be found in many countries. But don’t simply pluck from the streets and cook it unless you are 100% sure of that is exact the plant. Eating plants that have toxins can be disastrous to your body!


WHY THIS DRINK?

Last week, I am eating a lot of baked pastry, according to TCM, it brought heat to your body. I am having a bit of sore throat and today when I am doing the marketing,  I saw these plants. It is in a store selling all sort of herbs in a wet market. Beside selling this herb, they also sell other types of “body cooling” herbs such as purple cane, rhoeo tricolour and other general cooking herbs such as Thai basil, mint leaves and etc..

I WAS TOLD THAT IT IS A COMMON ITEM AND IF YOU CAN GET THIS HERB IN ITS RAW/FRESH FORM, YOU CAN TRY THE DRIED VERSION IN THE TRADITIONAL CHINESE VERSION MEDICAL SHOP.

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This herb is called Hedyotis Diffusa (白花蛇舌草)scientifically and literally translated from Chinese language as White Flower Snake Tongue Grass! Don’t asked me why this name, Ha-ha.

As Hedyotis Diffusa sound so alien to most readers, shall we have a simpler name Snake Tongue Grass? So, from this point onwards, Hedyotis Diffusa and snake tongue grass shall be used interchangeably.

As per Wikipedia on Heydotis Diffusa, it was written that

Hedyotis diffusa (Chinese: 白花蛇舌草; pinyin: báihuā shéshécǎo; literally “white flower snake-tongue grass”, sometimes abbreviated to 蛇舌草 shéshécǎo) is a kind of herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is sometimes combined with Siraitia grosvenorii (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果; pinyin: luóhànguǒ) to make hot drinks like Lohoguo of Guongsei (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果蛇舌草精; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果蛇舌草精; pinyin: luóhànguǒ shéshécǎo jīng) or Luohanguo Pearl and Sheshecao Beverage.

Therefore, in this illustration, I have combined with Siritia Grosvenorii (罗汉果), hereinafter refer to as Lohanguo), another common traditional Chinese medicine ingredient.  It is a natural sweetener and is used to treat diabetes in TCM. This combination is nothing raw, you can see it in Chinese Provision shops that sell in instant form.

Source: http://www.fjzzyy.cn/product.asp


BENEFITS OF SNAKE TOUNGE GRASS (HEDYOTIS DIFFUSA)

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Snake tongue grass is believed to have inflammation properties and ability to prevent tumour growth. In addition, it is used to clear heat, counteract toxins, remove damp, treatment of boils and abscesses, snake bite, sore throat etc..

If you goggled heydyotis diffusa, you will note that there are lots of research relating to studies on its role on cancer prevention. The articles below list out the major health benefits of snake tongue grass which includes mostly inhibit cancerous growth of many types of cancer- Chinese herbs in Western View – Baihuasheshecao – health benefits and side effects.

 Sourcehttp://www.baike.com/wiki/白花蛇舌草

In another study to study the anticancer properties of Oldenlandia Diffusa published by US National Library of Medicines in 2004, it was concluded that:

“Oldenlandia diffusa extract effectively inhibited the growth of all the eight cancer cell lines and induced significant increase of apoptosis. The extract exhibited minimum toxic effect on normal pancreatic cells. Furthermore, there was a significant inhibition of lung metastases in the animal model with no noticeable adverse effects. The herb extract could be a potential anticancer agent.”(Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15273074)

As with other herbals, it is advisable that PREGRNANT WOMEN SHALL REFRAINED FROM DRINKING THE TEA UNLESS WITH ADVISE FROM MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.


As with my other drink series, since this is a Chinese herbs, for the benefits of my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically include this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

  • 痈肿疮毒,咽喉肿痛,毒蛇咬伤。本品苦寒,有较强的清热解毒作用,用治热毒所致诸证,内服外用均可。如单用鲜品捣烂外敷,治疗痈肿疮毒,也可以本品与金银花、连翘、野菊花等药同用;用治肠痈腹痛,常与红藤、败酱草、牡丹皮等药同用;若治咽喉肿痛,多与黄芩、玄参、板蓝根等药同用;若用治毒蛇咬伤,可单用鲜品捣烂绞汁内服或水煎服,渣敷伤口,疗效较好,亦可与半枝莲、紫花地丁、蚤休等药配伍应用。近年利用本品清热解毒消肿之功,已广泛用于各种癌证的治疗
  • 热淋涩痛。本品甘寒,有清热利湿通淋之效,单用本品治疗膀胱湿热,小便淋沥涩痛,亦常与白茅根、车前草、石韦等同用。” (Source:中医e百网页)


BENEFITS OF ARHAT FRUIT OR LUOHANGUO (SIRITIA GROSVENORII)

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Luohanguo is also called arhat fruit or monk fruits. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a natural low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks, and in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diabetes and obesity. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siraitia_grosvenorii). It is very common and you can easily purchased it in any Chinese herbal shops at a very reasonable price.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • One bunch of fresh snake tongue grass of about 500 g. Usually it comes with root and cost about SGD1.20 for it (this price is for estimating the quantity of your fresh snake tongue grass)

  • 6 dried lohanguo

  • 400 gram of rock sugar (can be adjusted according to individual preference)

  • 4 litres of water.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Soak your snake tongue grass in clean water for 15 minutes

  • Clean thoroughly the grass and watch out for the root portion which may have some soils stuck to the plants.

  • Use clean water to rinse the cleaned snake tongue grass.

The soaking of the snake tongue grass is requested by my mother in law which i think it make sense. Be it commercially cultivated or “plucking” from the wild, we will never know if there are any pesticides, therefore like other vegetables, it is a precautionary steps to wash away the pesticides (if any) by soaking in the water.

You may need quite a lot of water to clean the natural herbs. It is my usual habit to recycle  these water for watering my plants! These are just muddy water and throwing away is a waste. If you do have a lot of plants at home, I would encourage to use this to water your plant or flush your toilet, if you want. You know, I am just a stingy old man! Ha-ha

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  • Break open the lohanguo and look out for any mould in the shell!

 

NOTE

Note that it is not necessary for you to break your lohanguo like the picture above. I do have the habit to break it and see what is inside. There are a few experiences that I saw mold settling insides the seeds. If it is dry with small patches, i will just wash with cold water. Otherwise, I will throw away. The usual ways of cooking this is just use some hard object to break but not open the lohanguo, throw it in the herbs that you are cooking.

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  • Put 4 litres of water in a big pot. Add in snake tongue grass and lohanguo and bring to boil under high heat!

  • Once boiled, turned to medium heat and boiled for another 15-20 minutes.

  • Add in rock sugar and let it boiled for another 5 minutes.

NOTE:

The preparation of this drink is rather flexible, be it the use of main ingredients (snake tongue grass and lohanguo) or side ingredients (rock sugar) and water, You can always adjust to suit your family’s taste buds. Personally, I will start with less water and some rock sugar. If i find it too sweet or concentrated, i will just dilute with water.

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  • Strain the herbal teas and store in a glass bottle (preferred if you have). Though it is not advisable to keep this overnight according to TCM, however, if needed, store in fridge in a clean (preferred if sterilized with hot water) bottle.


VARIATIONS

  • As the drink can be slightly bland, you can add in a small quantity of dry longan to add flavour to it. I have added this to make my kids drinking this tea.


CONCLUSION

I am eating a piece of my zebra patterned pound cake with a glass of this tea as a snack this morning. Chinese believed that all oven baked pastries are “heaty” to your body. There is a constant need to have some drinks to “cool” your body. Too much “heat” in your body will cause acne, sore throat, boils, abscesses and etc.. (In Western terms : inflammation). This is pleasant drink and is a choice among many body cooling drinks that are cooked by Chinese households. You may also interested in my other drink series here:

Have a nice day and don’t forget to cleanse your body! Hope you like the post and cheers.

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Vege Vege Vegetable Fritters–Indonesian’s Bakwan Sayuran

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INTRODUCTION

Vegetable fritter is  rather international. Almost all international cuisines will have some form of vegetable fritters. It is a  very common food item in South East Asian countries. Be it called bakwan sayuran (Indonesia), vegetable tempura (Japan), parkosa (India) or just vegetable fritters. Packed with vegetables, it can be as healthy as you want it. You can oven baked, pan fried or deep fried. Depending on which cuisine’s vegetable fritters, the dips can also be significantly different.

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WHY THIS DISH

I am having my yearly vegetarian 1-1.5 months and I am looking for some vegetarian dishes. In addition, I am preparing this dish in response to the monthly challenge organized by a Google plus food community.

This recipe is not my household recipe but an Indonesian vegetable fritter recipe obtained from Ms Karin’s blog on bakwan sayuran However, I have modified to suit my family’s taste buds.

I concurred with Ms Karin that vegetable fritter recipe has lots of flexibility especially the choice of vegetables. Ms Karin had written in Google communities that “We can make fritters out of everything. Sometimes with something as lame as cabbage and a bunch of leftover vegetables (just avoid wet ones like tomatoes)”.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipes adopted from  Ms. Karin’s blog on bakwan sayuran.

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  • 150 g of jicama (shredded)
  • 150 g of French beans (cut into small pieces)
  • 100 g of bean sprouts
  • 50 g of red carrots (shredded)
  • 50 g of peanuts

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  • 2 tablespoons of coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons of white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of salts
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 125 g of rice flour
  • 125 g of wheat flour
  • 200 ml of plain water
  • 5 cups of cooking oil for frying


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big bowl, assemble all ingredients together;
  • Add in coriander powder, sugar, salt, white pepper. Stir until well mixed.
  • Add in flour (rice flour and wheat flour) and water. Stir until all the ingredients are coated with the batter.

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  • In a big pan, heat the cooking oil. The oil is considered as ready when you insert a chopstick or other wooden object into the hot oil, bubbles started to emit.
  • Put few tablespoons of batter at a time and deep fried until golden brown. You will have to keep a close eye during your frying process to ensure that your batter is not too big (otherwise it will be difficult to get cooked) and your oil temperature should not be overly hot (meaning exterior to start to get burnt and inside may not be cooked). In that case, you have to turn the heat to medium or small, it make take a bit longer but once you note that the colour start to turn golden, switched to high heat for high heat and immediately take it out. This will prevent the oil from going back to the batter!
  • Drain the fritters in oil absorbing paper.

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  • Let it cool and serve with your preferred dips.

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VARIATIONS

There are many variations to this dish. You can add in any vegetables of your choice such as Entoki mushrooms, cauliflowers and the list is endless.

Method of cooking, beside deep frying, can also be pan fried or oven baked. Though oven baked and pan fried version will not be that crispy, it is healthier and equally delicious.

Spices used can also change to include cardamom, cumin seeds, turmeric powder if you preferred.

Dips and garnishes have lots of flexibility. For my kids, I have some mayonnaise and tomato sauces which become thousand island dressings. For adults we have like to home made chilli sauce. Original Indonesian fried fritters like to go with fresh chilli or cabit as they called it. You can also garnish with cucumber or tomato slices to negate the slight greasiness of the dish!

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CONCLUSIONS

  • A simple and easy to do dish that is packed with vegetables and can be as healthy as you want it to be . It is a vegetarian dish suitable for all age groups.
  • A full flexibility dish that can be tailored to meet your family taste buds including types of vegetables, spices used, method of cooking dips and garnishes.

Hope you like the post today. Cheers.



I am submitting this post to the Monthly Challenge organized by Google Plus Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia – Cuisine Communities in response of Ms. Karin’s Bakwan Sayuran (Vegetable Fritters)  post in her Karin’s Recipe blog. 

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For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTERESTor visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

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If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 1000 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD. You can also join the Food Bloggers and Foodies United Group Facebook Group to see more recipes.

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Easy Peasy Barley Bean Curd Sheets Sweet Soup (腐竹薏米甜汤)

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INTRODUCTION

This will be a straight forward short post.

A light, sweet and smooth desserts that will made me hard to resist whenever this dessert was served. It is a flexible dessert and if you wish, you can add in additional ingredients such as gingko nuts or lotus seeds. However, I have opt to use peanuts as I have never like the taste of gingko nuts. The peanuts blends equally well in the soup and in fact, in my humble opinion is a much better combination. The use of pressure cooker had reduce the time of preparation considerably.


 

WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1/2 cup of peanuts
  • 6 pandanus leaves tied in a bunch
  • 1 packet (rather standard size) of dried bean curd sheets specially for desserts purposes.
  • 1 cup of rock sugar or granulated sugar
  • 8 cups of water

 

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the pandanus leaves and tie into a bundle. Set aside for later use.
  • Wash the peanuts and barley thoroughly and put in a pressure cooker and boiled for 25 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and put in the bean curd sheets, rock sugar and candied winter melons and boiled for another 10 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and preferably served hot or chilled.

Variations

Variations can include addition of gingko nuts, lotus seeds and jujubes.  Beaten eggs can also be added to thicken the sweet soup.

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CONCLUSION

  • This is a traditional Chinese desserts that I can never resists. It is easy to cook especially with the pressure cooker. It is a very light dessert, smooth, sweet and suitable for almost all occasion. Barley is researched to have the  capabilities of reducing lower cholesterol levels. Chinese believed that the sweet soup will be good and nutritional to the complexion and skin conditions. It is also believed that pregnant women who have taken this dessert regularly will give birth to a fair and chubby baby.
  • Try to make this simple desserts for your family. Remember that you can always tailor this to suit your taste buds and if you like Gingko nuts, go ahead as gingko nuts is beneficial to you brain and improved your memory.

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Hope you like the simple post today and have a nice day ahead.

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Salted Vegetable Duck Soup (咸菜鸭)– A Quick and Easy Way to Prepare This Traditional Soup Dish

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INTRODUCTION

This is a soup dish that I have always craved for it。 It is rather extraordinary as not many Fujian Chinese soup dish are as sour as this dish。 However, it is a well liked dish that most Chinese households would have their own recipe for this soup and every household will claim that theirs is the best. Though it is commonly thought of a Hokkien/Teochew/Peranakan (dialects) cuisines. however, to be more precise, it  is a Fujian province soup and even in People’s Republic of China, they have recipe for this soup.

When I was young, the soup were only prepared when they were big festivals or religious prayers. The main reasons were that ducks were relatively expensive and will only be served at big festivals. In addition, during religious festivals, lots of food were cooked and it is unlikely to finish all the foods in one day, this soup which is sour was less prone of turning bad if keep for a day or two as most households do not have refrigerators in the 1960’s. Thirdly, duck is very difficult to cook, traditional way will need braising of duck until the meat are soft and tender and the flavour of the salted vegetable starts to penetrate into the duck meat. Therefore, it is cooked only occasionally.

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Traditionally, the duck meat were braised for hours before it can be served. It is also a common belief that the soup be left overnight to become even tastier. However, with the introduction of new cooking equipment, the cooking time have cut short considerably. I have used one hour to cook this dish and get the same taste that my mum would have prepared for at least half a day. For this illustration, I have used pressure cooker that cut short the time considerably. However, previously, I have also use rice cooker (soup function) to cook the soup and slow cooker to boil overnight. However, the best equipment is still the usage of pressure cooker followed by rice cooker and finally slow cooker.

The most basic ingredients of this soup are ducks, salted vegetables, Chinese preserved sour plums and gingers. Ginger is a must because it will counter effect the cooling effect brought by the consumption of salted vegetables.  Chinese generally discouraged consumption of preserved vegetables as it will introduce “wind” to the body. All other ingredients are side ingredients which in my humble opinion are optional.

To make it even more sour, cooks are using tomatoes (which appeared to be an essential ingredient now), asam kulit (tamarind slices), vinegar, lemon and marinated lemon. Other more common ingredients are dried mushrooms, garlics and red carrots. There are also recipes in the internet that have  chilli, brandy as their ingredients!!!!!

For me, a good bowl of soup should be sweet (from the meat broth) and sour (not extremely sour) with a blend aroma of ginger and salted vegetables. Meat must be tender and soft.



WHAT IS REQUIRED ….

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  • 500 g of salty preserved Chinese Mustard
  • 1 kg of duck meat  (about half a whole duck  and de-skinned if preferred).

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  • 50 g of red carrots cut in small pieces
  • 10 small dried mushrooms soaked in water
  • 3 big whole garlics
  • 100 g of gingers (peel off the skin)
  • 100 g of tomatoes cut into big pieces
  • 2 slices of ginger
  • 3 sour plums that can easily get from Chinese provision shops.
  • 6-8 cups of water (estimation)

Note:

Only the salted vegetables, duck, gingers and sour plum are the main ingredients. All other ingredients are side ingredients which are optional and a matter of personal preferences. Volume listed here are also for reference only as it is rather hard for you to get an exact 1 kg duck.. so full flexibility here.

It is advisable that you soak the preserved vegetable first before you cook the soup. I would rather soaked the salted vegetable for a longer time to reduce the saltiness and if the final soup is not salty enough, I will add salt to the dish. I usually soak the vegetable for at least half an hour.



STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Layer your ingredients (except tomatoes)  between salted vegetables and meat and other ingredients . Why it is not a must but I have the habits of layering the ingredients to ensure the meat were well seasoned by the ingredients)
  • Add 6-8 cups of water or about 1.5 times the height of your ingredients. Note: if you are using pressure cooker, you can use this amount of water. However, if you are using rice cooker or stove to boil the soup, you may need at least 10 cups of water until the meat get tender and soft. It is ok to start with this volume of water and if the volume of water is not enough, you can add water along the way.
  • For pressure cooker, select “meat function” and it will took approximately 25-30 minutes. After cooking, let it rest in the pot for at least 15-30 minutes as it will continue to cook. BE CAREFUL WHEN HANDLING PRESSURE COOKER.  For rice cooker, select “soup function” and if after the first cooking, the meat is still or tender, you can select another round of soup function and stop when the meat have your required tenderness.  I usually cooked this before I went to bed and the next day, every thing is perfect.
  • When done, add in the fresh tomato and close the lid and rest for another 10 minutes before serving.

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  • Preferably served hot with rice .

 


CONCLUSION

  • This is a rather short post on one of the traditional Chinese soup dishes – Salted Vegetable Duck Soup. The reasons for the exact combinations of these two main ingredients are unknown. Possibly duck needs time to braise and salted vegetable can withstand long hour of braising. Ginger is a must, in my humble opinion to get rid of the meat raw smell and also have to role of preventing gas formation when consuming preserved vegetables. Sour plum is the traditional ingredient to make this soup sour though the present method have resort to the use of tomatoes, lemons, tamarind slices and etc. All other ingredients are optional and quantity can varies according to your own preferences.
  • Traditionally, the soup was cooked over charcoal stoves where you need at least 2 to 3 hours or longer to get the desire meat texture and soup flavour. However, with the pressure cooker as in this illustration, the cooking time have cut down considerably and it is easier to control the quality of the soup. Rice cooker soup function is another alternatives than can be considered.
  • While the soup is tasty and nice, excess consumption is not  recommended as this soup is consider as cooling according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. In addition, those with stomach acidity will also need to watch out the volume of consumption.

Hope you like it. It is not as difficult as what it is thought. It is a bowl of soup that I could never resists and you should be proud to modify the recipe to suit your families taste buds. Happy trying. Cheers.

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