Small Appetite Foodie’s Apple Pie

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INTRODUCTION

Being a business analyst before I become a food blogger, I like to do research if times permit. Therefore, readers who read my blog may be wondering why I like to quote Wikipedia’s definition. Seriously, I like Wikipedia’s concise definition on the food that I blogged about and at times I will use it as a benchmark against the food that I made. The same applies for today’s pastry, apple pie.

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Per Wikipedia’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_pie,

“An apple pie is a fruit pie (or tart) in which the principal filling ingredient is apples. It is sometimes served with whipped cream or ice cream on top, or alongside cheddar cheese. Pastry is generally used top-and-bottom, making it a double-crust pie, the upper crust of which may be a circular shaped crust or a pastry lattice woven of strips; exceptions are deep-dish apple pie with a top crust only, and open-face Tarte Tatin.”

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I have made an apple pie yesterday. When I was chatting with a friend in Google plus about my red dragon fruit cheesecake, he was asking me if I know how to make an apple pie. I told him that I have not prepared before as apples are rather expensive. Unlike Western countries, most apples were imported from temperate countries. However, I have tasted apple pies before and it should not be a big problem for me to replicate the apple pie that I have eaten before.

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Actually, the apple pie that I am most familiar with are those sold in McDonalds. However, those pies were deep fried and what I am going to share in this post is the modified version of baked apple pie to suit Asian Foodies’ smaller appetite for sweet desserts… Pardon me if I am wrong..

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Dough – make one 8 inch pie without  top pastry

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  • 35 grams egg (lightly beaten)

  • 150 grams plain flour (sifted)

  • 30 grams of icing sugar (sifted)

  • 75 grams of chilled butter cut into cubes

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Note: If you want to cover the entire pie with top pastry, you will have to multiply by 1.5 times the above volume. The above volume did not intend to have a upper pie crust like American style apple pie.

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Apple Fillings

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  • 4 large apples (de-skin, pitted and cut into 0.5 cm slices)

  • half cup of brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg powder

Note:

  • Selection of apples – Apples selected shall be those that are crunchy in texture such as Fuji Apple or Granny’s green apple.

  • Quantity of apples – The apples stated here are for the preparation of a flat thin pie of about 1.5 cm height. If you like the American version of apple pie, you may want to consider to increase your apples to at least 6 large apples (or even 8 depending on how deep your baking glass dish can take)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put butter cubes and sifted plain flour together. Use the finger tips to rub the butter cubes and flours together until it become crumby. Add in sifted icing sugars and continue to rub until well mix.

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  • Add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla essence, mix slowly until it become a dough. Put it in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes. Note that if you are able to handle soft dough, you can by pass this step.

  • Have a clinging wrap on the table, take the dough from the fridge and place on top of it. Put another clinging wrap on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat sheet with about 0.5 cm thickness. Transfer the dough to the pie tin and use you hand to press the dough against the sides and make it as even as possible. Use a fork to make some holes in the dough (optional). Set aside for later use. If you have some left over dough, just keep it to put on top of the apple fillings.

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  • In another big mixing bowl, add the sugar and spices to the apple slices. Mix well and pour on top of the pie pastry.  Level it. If you have additional pastry left from the making of bottom pastry, your can put on top of the apple fillings.

Note: If you have opt to cover the apple pie with top pastry, cover the pastry on top the apple and make some hole to the let the water vapour escape when the apple is cooked.

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  • Bake in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for about 25-30 minutes or when the pie crust turn golden yellow. (Note that this is a thin pie therefore, cooking time is relatively short). Egg wash the top pastry if desired.

  • Can be served either hot or cold with sour cream, ice cream or even custards.

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CONCLUSIONS

There are many variations of apple pies. Some have top pastry like the American style version. It were usually prepared using a deep glass dish. Some are without top pastry but substituted with bread crumbles and rolled oats as in the Swedish version of apple pies. The French have another version called Tarte Tatin.

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Knowing Asian’s small appetite for Western desserts, I have prepared this pie in a form of thin slice. Both pastry and apple filling are rather thin as compared to the Western version. And if the diner is of big appetite, he can just opt to have 2 slices at the same time……

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GUAI SHU SHU | Guai Shu Shu is a “shu shu” that is “guai”….


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

 

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Don’t “Gaduh” over “Gado Gado”–Indonesian One Dish Salad, Gado Gado

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INTRODUCTION

I used to travel a lot when I am in the corporate world. Most of the time, I need to travel and stay in the hotel by myself and at times, the trips will stretch to weeks or months. I still remember my 2 years secondment to Hong Kong and Shanghai, more than 80% of my stay was in the hotel. Room services was very common and cafes at the hotel become my “dining hall”. During these times, one of my favourite order was the “look-alike” home cooked was gado gado since the food was served with peanut aka satay sauce. Of course, other favourites in the hotel will include Singapore Hainanese Chicken rice and Singapore Fried Bee Hoon (新洲炒米粉)。

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That is how I first got in touch with gado gado. Gado gado in essence is Indonesian’s salad with peanut sauce. However, unlike Western salad, it is a one pot dish, meaning one can have gado gado as the main meal.

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Gado gado in Indonesia means plural for “mixing” action and it shall not be confused with “gaduh gaduh” in Malaysia which means heated arguments.

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There are a few versions of Gado gado in Indonesia depending on which part of Indonesia you are in and this version is called “Gado Gado Siram” which was what I usually have in hotels and Indonesian Restaurants. Essentially, vegetables were cooked separately, put together in one plate and add some peanut sauce were poured on top, mixed and served.

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PREPARING OF PEANUT SUACE (Serving of about 5-6 adults) 

What is required

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Ingredients A

  • 50 grams of chilli powder (or dry chilli)

  • 100 grams of garlics

  • 40 grams of galangal (blue ginger)

  • 40 grams of lemon grass

  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder

  • 1 tablespoon of coriander powder

(You can either use the powder form of the above ingredients or use its original form of raw ingredients)

Ingredients B

  • 500 grams of peanuts (coarsely ground)

  • 10 tablespoons of castor sugar or gula melaka (coconut palm sugar)

  • 5 tablespoons of cooking oils

  • Pinches of salt

  • Pinches of turmeric powder (optional)

  • 3 big tablespoons of tamarind paste (assam)

  • 5 cups of water

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Steps of Preparation

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  • Use a food processor to blend all the ingredients (except powder ingredients) in “A” until fine. Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle to pound the non-powder ingredients until fine as in the picture. 

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  • In  a big frying pan, add the cooking oil and stir fried the ingredients as in A until fragrance. Add in tamarind, water and remaining ingredients B (coarsely chopped peanut, sugar, salt) and bring to boil.

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  • Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and oil start to appear on top of the peanut sauce. Off the heat and stir in pinches of turmeric powder (optional) and add some hot water if the peanut sauce is too thick. Set aside for later use.

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PREPARING THE SIDE INGREDIENTS

No quantities will be stated here as it is very much depends on your personal preferences.  Most ingredients are substitutable except the most common and must have are long beans, fried tau kwa). I did not prepare all the ingredients as I am having it by myself  and I will not be able to  finish if I used all the ingredients. However, I will list out the other side ingredients.

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  • Peanut sauce (as mentioned above)

  • Some long beans (cut into 4-5 cm) – blanched

  • Some bean sprouts – blanched

  • Some kangkong (convolvulus) – blanched

  • Some hard boiled eggs – cut into half

  • Some taukwa – deep fried and cut into slices – See below

  • Some cucumbers _ julienned into small chunks

  • Some lettuce – chopped

  • Some Empiring/Melinjo crackers (Indonesian padi oats crackers)-optional

Not in the pictures above

  • Some cabbages – blanched

  • Some potatoes – boiled and cut into cubes

  • Some lontong (rice cakes) – cut into small pieces

  • Some prawn crackers  (keropok udang)

  • Some tempeh (soya bean cakes) – cut into small pieces – optional

  • Fried Shallot.

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Deep Frying the Taukwa

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  • Marinate the taukwa (drier version of bean curd) with some salt, white pepper and coriander sauces. Deep fried under medium heat until the skin is crispy yet the inside is soft. Cut into small pieces and set aside for future use.

Blanching The Vegetables

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  • In a wok or frying pan, put some water, drizzles of oil and some salt and bring the water to boil. Add in beansprouts, green beans and kangkong (convolvulus) in this order. Take out and set aside for later use.

 


ASSEMBLING THE INGREDIENTS AND SERVINGS

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  • Arrange the lettuce on the serving plate and place all blanched vegetables , taukwa, eggs on top of it.

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  • Pour the warm peanut sauce over and garnish with Melinjo or prawn crackers and additional fried shallots, if desired.

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CONCLUSION

  • This is a rather simple dish to prepare except a bit laborious. However, it is a healthy dish as it is packed with vegetables and I like to eat it as a one dish meal.

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  • Only pour sauce over the vegetables before serving otherwise, the peanut sauce may become watery due to the water excreted from the vegetables. If the sauce is too thick, add in some hot water and heat it up. Warm sauce is always preferred. For left over sauces, you can freeze it and used for other noodles dish (Satay Bee Hoon) or as dips for Satay.

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

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How Do You Do? I Missed You, My Dear Friend! – Traditional Coconut Tarts (椰子塔)

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INTRODUCTION

Coconut tart, a childhood snack that I really missed. Since I started blogging, I have never prepared this tropical coconut tart.. In fact, I have not eaten these tarts for years even though Singapore traditional bakery shops still have this pastry item in their shelf.

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I like the tarts for its aromatic shredded coconuts and the crispy tart shell. When I baked the tarts, the house was full of coconut aroma and I definitely wouldn’t regret making these tarts. In fact, I have finished the tarts and do not have any extra to give it to my neighbours.. Which is rather unusual.

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I do not think I need to explain more, it is just a tart with nice aromatic shredded coconut in it. The tart shell is crispy and yet the coconut filling is moist and I have to thank Aunty Yochana for sharing her recipe in one of her 2006 posts. 

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WHAT IS NEEDED

Recipe Adapted from : Aunty Yochana’s Coconut Tarts

Dough (Make about 6 big tarts)

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  • 25 grams egg (lightly beaten)

  • 100 grams plain flour (sifted)

  • 20 grams of icing sugar (sifted)

  • 50 grams of chilled butter cut into cubes

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

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Coconut Fillings 

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  • 200 grams shredded coconuts

  • 75 grams butter (melted)

  • 100 grams castor sugar

  • 2 eggs 

  • 1 tablespoon of condensed milk

  • 3 tablespoons of water

  • Yellow colouring (optional). This illustration does not use yellow colouring.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing The Tart Shells

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put butter cubes and sifted plain flour together. Use the finger tips to rub the butter cubes and flours together until it become crumby. Add in sifted icing sugars and continue to rub until well mix.

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  • Add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla essence, mix slowly until it become a dough.

  • Put it in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes. Note that if you are able to handle soft dough, you can by pass this step.

  • Take the dough from the fridge and use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat sheet with about 0.5 cm thickness.

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  • Use a round cutter to cut about the size of the mould.  Note that this step is optional and will help you to roughly gauge the amount of dough required and you still need to adjust the quantity of dough as you progress.  Use your hand to press the dough against the sides and make it as even as possible.

  • Use a knife or anything sharp to cut off the sides. Use a fork to make some holes to let any trapped air to escape. Set aside for later use.

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If you have extra dough, you can just use this dough to prepare additional tarts shell, bake and keep it for other tarts such as egg tarts or quiche.

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Preparing the coconut fillings

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  • In a big mixing bowl, mix all ingredients using a spoon or spatula until well mixed.


Assembling the tarts and baking the tarts

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.

  • Scope the fillings into the tarts and bake in the oven’s lower shelf. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the tart shells become golden brown.

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CONCLUSION

Personally, I like these tarts very much. It is really a sweet indulgence and can be addictive when I take the first bite. This is the traditional version without any alteration.

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As my tart moulds are slightly higher than the commercially sold coconuts tarts, I managed to make 6 big tarts. However, they are very moist in the middle but the tart shells are extremely crispy. Handling the tart shells’ dough have to be as light and as fast as possible such that the pastries will melt in your mouth.

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Hope that readers can try to make these tropical tarts.. I said in my Facebook timeline that I am just like a pregnant woman who constantly craved for childhood and traditional foods… Shall these foods be marginalized by the influx of foreign cuisines?

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Have a nice day and cheers.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 28 July 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Is Pavlova Originated From Australia, Russia or New Zealand?–Strawberry and Blueberry Pavlova

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INTRODUCTION

Yesterday is really a busy day for me. I have been making mayonnaise, baking pizza and this Pavlova. By the time  I have to take picture of this Pavlova, I was feeling extremely tired and after I ate one slice and kept 3 slices for other families members, I gave away the rest to my neighbour who were having some sort of house gathering. I hoped I have adequate pictures to share with readers.

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Pavlova actually sounds familiar to me. Just like Vladimir, Sergei, Liana and Nathasia, the name sounds so Russian. I have spent some times in Russian before and one of my ex-colleagues do carry the name Pavlova. In fact, I do not know it is the name of one of the famous desserts until very recently when I did a read up on meringue, macaroons and other egg whites based pastry items.

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WHAT IS PAVLOVA?

Per Wikipedia:

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside.

The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but formal research indicates New Zealand as the source.

The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and with its simple recipe, is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals. It is a dessert most identified with the summer time, but is eaten all year round in many Australian and New Zealand homes.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlova_(food))

Meringue based dessert will mean this dessert only utilizes egg whites and some sugar. It is not really a common dessert in Singapore and Malaysia. The challenge is to prepare a Pavlova that had a crispy outside of soft cotton liked inside. Preparation is not really that tough but patience is needed in the baking of this simple meringue.

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WHAT IS NEEDED

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  • 4 egg whites (at room temperature)

  • 1 1/4 cups of icing sugar or castor sugar

  • 2 teaspoon of potatoes starch/corn starch

  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • Fresh fruits of your choice. In this illustration, I have used fresh strawberry and blueberry.

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Note:

  • The egg whites have to be at room temperature. Colder egg whites are more difficult to beat to peak condition.

  • I have substituted the castor sugar with icing sugar as it will be easier for it to dissolve in the egg whites. If it is difficult for you to get icing sugar, just blend the castor sugar using a food processor.

  • Usually, corn starch is used. However, as I did not have corn starch with me, I have used potatoes starch. By the same logic, sweet potatoes starch and tapioca starch can also be used. What is needed is a small quantity of flour that is light and smooth to help holding the Pavlova structure.


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a baking tray. have a piece of baking/parchment paper. Use a 8” round baking tin and draw a big circle on the baking sheet. Set aside for later use.

  • In a mixing bowl, Add egg white and beat until soft peak form. Add in icing sugar spoon by spoon and continue to beat until the egg white is thick and glossy.

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  • To check if all sugars have been dissolved, rub a bit of the beaten egg whites (meringues) between the thumb and index fingers. If it is smooth, it means that the sugars have been dissolved. If it feels sandy, it means that the sugar has yet to be dissolved. Continue beating for another 1-2 minutes and test again.

  • Add in vanilla essence and continue beating until it is well mixed.

  • Off the machine if the meringue is glossy and in its stiff peak form. Stiff peak form means when you hold up the beater, the meringue can point upwards as shown in picture number 4.

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  • Take out the mixing bowl. Add/sprinkled the lemon juices. Sift in the potatoes/corn flours.

  • Use a spatula to fold in the flour and lemon juice quickly. Handle lightly until all the lemon juice and flour are well mixed.

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  • Place the meringue on top of the baking paper within the circle drawn. Smoothing the edges.

  • Baked in the oven at low temperature of 130 degree Celsius for about 60-90 minutes or until the outer crust are dry and pale cream colour.

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  • IMPORTANT: Leave the Pavlova inside the oven with the door ajar and let it cool inside the oven until it is completely cool. It is generally okay if the middle part of the Pavlova collapsed as we will be decorating with whipped cream.

  • PRIOR TO SERVING, beat about 200 ml of whipping cream until top peak and placed on top of the Pavlova. Place your fresh fruits on top of the Pavlova.

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CONCLUSION

Pavlova is good to be served as a dessert. It’s sweet crusty tops and sides goes well with most fruits. One can also consider using fruits such as Kiwi and mangos. The Pavlova can be prepared in advance and keep for 3-4 days in an air tight container. Of course, the size of Pavlova have to be reduced accordingly for it to store in the container. It can also be made into a one bite size.

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If you are health conscious, you can substitute the whipped cream to low fat whipped cream and slightly reduce the amount of icing sugar used. Remember whipped cream and fruit toppings shall only be used prior to serving as the whipped cream and fruit juices will make the meringue soggy if not consume on time.

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

newmarvelousmondays-button 9VwhltV

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One, Two, Three…….Let’s Start Making Traditional Short Bread Biscuits (英式传统牛油饼干)

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INTRODUCTION

I have mentioned before that my family members like buttery biscuits or cakes. Butter cake without any flavour will definitely top my list of cakes whereas short bread will be my preferred choice of biscuits. Short bread is crumbly in textures and full of buttery aroma and it is addictive as long as I started the first bite.

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When I was searching for short crust pastry for my “short crust pastry moon cake” post, I remember wrongly and instead I searched for short bread. When I read the definition of Wikipedia, it immediately caught my attention.

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Per Wikipedia, it was written that

Shortbread is a type of biscuit (“cookie” in American English) which is traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour (by weight). The use of plain white (wheat) flour is common today, and other ingredients like ground rice or corn flour are sometimes added to alter the texture. Also, modern recipes often deviate from the pure three ingredients by splitting the sugar portion into equal parts granulated sugar and powdered sugar and many further add a portion of salt. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortbread)

I was amazed by the simple ratio of one part white sugar, two parts butter and three parts of flour. I did not look around for any further recipe and based on these three figures, I prepared my traditional style short bread.

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This is my first attempt and I am generally happy with the results though the shaping still needs improvement. I may try out other recipes in the net and compared the actual differences and what other special ingredients that were added to alter the texture.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 50 g of icing sugar

  • 100 g of butter

  • 150 g of plain flour

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

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STEPS OF PREAPRATION

Preparation

  • Preheat your oven to 180  165 degree Celsius.

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place cut butters, vanilla essence, icing sugar, plain flours. Mix and knead until it form a dough.

  • Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a flat sheet of about 1 cm thick.

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  • Shape it into a rectangular shape and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 1 cm x 4 cm sizes

  • Transfer to the baking tray with a sheet of baking paper. Place the short breads with adequate space to expand.

  • Use a fork or something sharp to make some holes on top of the short breads.

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  • Baked in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the colour start to turn golden yellow.

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Additional notes

You can chill the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes before your baking starts. This will help to fix the shape of short bread! This illustration did not include the chilling. Due to the hot temperature in Singapore, The butter melts rather easily therefore chilling will hep to keep the biscuit in shape when you send for baking.

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CONCLUSION

A very short and straight forward post. I like this for its simple easy to remember recipe. This recipe is simply based on the traditional ratio of 1 sugar, 2 butter and 3 flour without additions of texture altering ingredients. The taste and texture is awesome except the shape is not as regular as what we bought from the stores.  It will be an ideal gift for your friends during festive occasions such as Christmas.

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Overall, I am still very pleased with this adventure. It is so simple yet we pay so much for these biscuits in the supermarkets.

Try and you will know how easy it is. Hope you like the post today and have a nice day ahead. Cheers.


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Second batch of short bread made for the celebration of Teacher’s day 2013.

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Updated on 8 – January 2014

Baking this special batch of rose decorated shortbread biscuits. Recipe is the same except I cut it in difference shape and dust it with dried rose petals.

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This recipe was included in Page 18 and Page 19 of the following E-book. 

For more Chinese New Year related cookies, snack and steamed cake recipes, you can have a copy of Easy Chinese New Year Recipes – A step by step guide” that was packed with 30 recipes, 60 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD3.50. The recipes covered various recipes from auspicious radish cake to nian gao to traditional kuih bangkit to trendy London almond cookies. Of course not forgetting both type of pineapple tarts. You can purchase by clicking the link above. You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.

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Nostalgic Soup Than Can’t Erase From My Mind–Chinese Style Potatoes Soup

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Updated Post on 9-10-2014

I have prepared the soup again today and have some new picture taking. However, today when I prepared the soup, as I am running out of time, I have decided to by pass the sautéing of the starch and onion. I put everything in the wok, boil until the meat is soft and add the starches. Of course, it was not as fragrant as what my father have prepared but it saves some times.. Kids start to like this starchy soup. Personally, I prefer the yam or taro version but shelve the idea as kids still dislike the taro.

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INTRODUCTION

I seldom have soup recipe in this blog except salted vegetable duck soup, a well known traditional Chinese soup for Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese.  Of course I have many other soup preparation illustrations such as bitter gourd and pineapple pork rib soup, double mushroom chicken soup, sweet corn pork rib soup and many more at Guaishushu’s Facebook Page under the index start with “S”.

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Today, I will share this special soup which is a comfort food with nostalgic and sentimental feelings for me.  I am still in doubt its origins and totally unsure if other families are cooking this soup, not at least my circles of friends. It is hope that via this post, some readers will be able to tell me the origin of this soup!

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This is a “strange” soup cooked by my late father. Not even my late mother cook this soup as she said it is a bit laborious to cook this soup.

In fact, the ingredients and cooking method have influences of both oriental and western method of cooking. Talking about this soup, I am sure my brothers and sister in laws can recall about the soup. It can either be cooked with taro or  potatoes. What we usually cooked is with yam or taro and I knew my sister in laws still cook the taro version of this soup as at today.

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The potato version of soup what is always in my mind. When I told my mother in law that I wanted to cook this soup, she looked at me unbelievably and she thought that I am cooking ABC soup, a soup that were cooked using carrot, potatoes and onions. I told her no, it is a pure potatoes soup!

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 g of potatoes cut into big chunks

  • 250 g of onion cut into a quarter

  • 250 g of pork ribs

  • 6 cups of water

Thickening starch

  • 50 g of sweet potatoes flour

  • 400 g of water

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big soup pot that can accommodate at least 10 cups of water, put some water adequate to cover the pork ribs.

  • Blanch the pork ribs until the outer layers is slight cooked. Throw away the water.

  • Wash the pork ribs under running water to get rid of any blood clots and add in the cut potatoes. Add in 6 cups of water and bring to boil under high heat. Once boiled, turn to medium heat and continue boiling until the potatoes and meats are soft. This will take 15-20 minutes. You can just let it boil until your next step is ready. Change to low heat if necessary.

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  • In another sauce pan, add in 1 tablespoon of oil, add in the cut onions and fried until the fragrance of onion start to spread.

  • Put in the sweet potatoes starch and cook under low heat, Stir fry until the flour turned into a lump and become colourless. Note that the main reason of cooking this way is to give the flour some flavour of onions. If you add directly to the soup, you will find the flour in the soup is flavourless. Well that is how my late father cooked and I do agree to it.

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  • Transfer your cooked starch to the soup and continue boiling until the meat and potatoes of your desired textures.

  • Add seasonings of your choice (flavour enhancer such as mushroom concentrate, pepper, salt, light soya sauce etc.).

  • Bring to boil and once boiled, off the heat and garnish with herbs of your choice. Preferably served hot with rice.

WHY THIS SOUP IS UNIQUE?

The soup has the oriental elements because it is cooked with normal cooking oils used by Chinese home cooking (instead of butter or olive oils) and pork ribs and flavour using the Chinese condiments. In addition, the thickening is using Chinese cooking ingredients sweet potatoes starch. It is definitely more watery and less creamy than Western soup! The final soup still maintain the shape of the potatoes, pork ribs and even onions. It complements the dryness of the white rice.

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On the other hand, it is unusual for Chinese to use potatoes to cook soup. Besides ABC soup, most Chinese households do not use potatoes to cook soup. Besides this unusual ingredient, Chinese soups usually do not use thickening agents in soup with the exception of some special soups such as shark fin soups and sweet and sour soups. The soups, in traditional sense should be watery and clear (or whitish colour due to the meat essence in the both). Thickening agents are used in many Chinese dishes including braised dishes, noodle dishes , vegetables dishes, egg dishes, bean curd dishes but not in soup dishes.

For purposes of further illustrating this soup may have Western influences, I have took out portion of the soup and added plain flour (wheat flour as you used for making cakes) and some creams.

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This is what the end product looked like and in fact, my kids do not mind this soup after adding of cream and wheat flour. My boy says that the soup is very creamy like cream of mushroom soup that he used to have in Western restaurant.

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CONCLUSION

Having a post on this particular soup brings me  lots of fond memories and sentimental feelings, making me wanted to know more about my late father. We did not really communicate much due to very traditional Chinese family upbringings whereby we were not encouraged to ask about what the adults are doing. Communication was always unidirectional. However, if he was still available, I would know how to tackle the issue and “fished” out his thoughts!

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It is a soup that none of friends knew. It is neither Western or Oriental style of soup. It is a mixture of both. Where my late father learned the cooking of this soup was really a mystery (in my humble opinion). He hailed from China and could not read or spoke ABC not to mention exposure to Western cuisines. The only remote reason that I could think of was due the influence of British colonization of Sarawak until late 1940’s  and at that time, he was a teen.

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Hopefully by having this post, some of my readers from any  parts of the world can share with me, if you have ever tasted exactly soup cooked in this manner and what do you think is the origin of the soup. It is also hope that my readers will try out this soup and let me know if it suits your taste buds. Thanks and have a nice day.

 

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Dates Fruit Cake (黑枣蛋糕)

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INTRODUCTION

This is the 5th cake in a series of my baking adventures utilizing the “one number baking ratio”. Previously I have written about basic pound cake, zebra patterned pound cake, layered pound cake, grapefruit cognac pound cake and this post, I am going to share a simple fruit cake like dates pound cake. It is going to be a short post as most background have been explained in the previous posts.

The taste of this pound cake is very much like the fruit cake. The dates have been soaked in cognac before it is added to the cake. Of course for Muslim readers, you can always soaked in milk or orange juices. Therefore, the cakes is full of dates and cognac fragrance.

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As contrast to the traditional fruit cake, the cake texture will be much softer due to the insistence of using one number baking ratio that include one portion of milk. You can understand one number baking ratio here. In summary, the ratio means flour: egg: sugar: butter: milk (or liquid mixtures) is  1:1:1:1:1:1.

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This time, I have purposely not using the egg separation method! Therefore this recipe is even easier than the previous recipes. It have cut less at least half of the time of preparation.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 grams of self raising flour (sifted)
  • 250 grams of brown sugar
  • 250 grams of butters
  • 5 eggs or 250 grams of eggs
  • 220 grams of milk (balancing figures subject to the weight of your eggs used)
  • 250 grams of dates (soaked in water or alcohol such as rum)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
  • 30 grams of rum/cognac or other alcohol or other liquids
  • Some almond flakes (optional)

Calculation of milk if you are using 5 whole eggs instead of using 250grams of eggs

Milk volume is the balancing figures and subject to the volume of liquid ingredients and size of eggs. In this illustration, my eggs weigh a total of 310 grams. Therefore actual milk used = 500 grams (milk + eggs theoretical volume) – 290 grams (weigh of eggs) – 30 grams (weigh of cognac) = 180 grams.

Alternatively, you can just fixed the eggs volume to be 250 grams therefore, you need not to recalculate the milk volume and purely follow the recipe above.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparation…

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius

  • Lightly grease an 8” x 8” diameter baking tin preferably with a detachable base. (In this illustration, as I want to give some of the cakes to my friends, I have decided to use one 6” x 6” diameter and two small loaf tins therefore cutting time have been cut short considerably).

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  • In a big mixing bowl, add in butter and brown sugar, beat until light and fluffy.

  • Add in vanilla essence and one egg at a time. Beat until eggs are well blend with the beaten butter.

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  • Add in the soaked dates and mixed at low speed until the dates are well mix with the butter batter.

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  • Take out the mixing bowl and fold in 1/3 of the flours followed by 1/3 of the milk and 1/3 of the cognac. Repeat for the other 2/3 portion. 

  • Pour into the light greased baking tin  and baked in the oven 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.

Note that the above baking time is for an 8”  x 8” baking tin. If you are using 6” x 6” and 2 loaf tins, you will have to bake at 180 degree for the first 20 minutes and reduce the temperature to 150 degree Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes.

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CONCLUSION

This is a very short post by applying the one number baking ratio to the dates fruit cakes. The cakes are definitely moister than traditional fruit cakes. It is definitely a cake worth trying. One number baking ratio can definitely be extend to the baking of more cakes and next in the list will be cup cake or muffins..It is late and really tired after baking 3 products and rushing out 3 posts today. 

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

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