Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

I have not been baking for a while. It’s at the back of my mind for weeks on end. If there was a ~ quick and scrummy ~ cake I’d bake, then it has got to be that almost effortless and idiot-proof Banana Loaf Cake. Ha ha ha …

I’m glad my boys share the same sentiment as I do.

3 weeks ago (or probably longer..) I bought a nice-looking bunch of Chiquita bananas in the hope of ripening some of them for my Banana Loaf Cake. I needed only 3 bananas, so we ate the rest of the bananas. 


 

While the 3 bananas were dangling on the banana hook to be ripened, my poor guys tried to brush their temptation away. With the cold weather outside, it’s warm inside the house with the heating on. And the result? 3 completely blackened and over-riped bananas with some mouldy white spots after more than 2 weeks of ‘crucifixion’. OH * MY * GOD!!


  

“What are you going to do with those bananas? To ‘hatch’ more black bananas?“My hubby asked (with a hint of sarcasm)

LOL!

There go the bananas … in the bin“, he said, pointing to the dustbin.

I replied with a classic feedback cheekily, “I’ll make Banana Cake*grinning with guilt big time*

Erm… by the way, did I use the ultra black, over-riped and limpy and almost fermented bananas in my cake? 

Uh-uh! Don’t think so … I needed ripe bananas but they were way, way too ripe! So I bought a new batch of bananas and made sure they ripened within a visually correct duration of time. Ha ha …

Here were the bananas that went in my Banana Loaf Cake I baked last night.


Not Once But Many A Time … And The FIRST Time, Though!

The first tutorial I’ve watched on YouTube in making a Banana Bread was the demo by Stephanie Jaworski of JoyOfBaking.com and I have baked Banana Bread or Cake as well as muffins many times since. It’s the easiest cake to bake. And I have done several tweaks and modifications to suit my family’s palates and they usually turned out great, me thinks …

Last night, however, was the first time I baked the Cake with the help of the Thermomix.

Here’s how I did it, by combining recipes of a cake and a muffin.

Sorry for the bad photos as the only lighting I had was my kitchen tungsten halogen lamps. No natural (sun)light. I did say I baked the cake last night, didn’t I? *wink*

Banana Bread or Banana Cake? It looked like Bread but it tasted like Cake, so I called it Banana Loaf Cake! It was super yummy and moist. I kid you not…


Ingredient A

  •  240 g ripe bananas

Ingredients B

  • 125 g butter
  • 110 g cassonade light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Vahiné natural vanilla powder

Ingredient C

  • ca 120 g eggs

Ingredient D

  • 60 g Lyle’s Golden Syrup

Ingredients E (dry ingredients)

  • 255 g APF
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • A pinch of sea salt

Steps 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius
  • Place A in TM bowl and blitz the bananas for 40 sec/ sp 5 until they form a creamy consistency. Set the mashed bananas aside in a separate bowl.

  • Add B and mix for 3 mins/ sp 5. Scrape down the sides of the inner bowl and continue mixing for another minute to form a light and creamy consistency. 
  • Add C one at a time. Beat for 10 sec/ sp 5 per egg. 
  • Add A and D to combine for 45 sec/ sp 5


  • Add E by weighing the dry ingredients, then tip the mixture into a clean bowl.  Fold in manually with a spatula until the mixture is combined.

  • Scoop the mixture into a greased loaf tin/ pan. Bake for 55 mins in a pre-heated oven. The cake is baked through if a skewer pricked in the middle of the cake comes out clean.



My Verdict?

I LURVE the smell of freshly-baked cakes and pastries, although I am not a sweet-tooth person. The smell that floated in my kitchen last night was heavenly. My boys were upstairs when I baked the Banana Loaf Cake and they could immediately smell baked bananas when they walked in the kitchen 🙂

While leaving the cake to cool on a wire rack, I just had to cut a generous slice of the cake (while still a bit warm). It was too tempting for me to let it sit until it’s cooled completely. And by the way, I’m a crust person, so the slice with the crusted end was mine! It may have appeared to look like it’s on the hard side but, surprisingly, tasting is believing and seeing is deceiving; it was actually quite soft and moist (crust et al).   I’m glad I added Lyle’s Golden Syrup. You could add Maple Syrup or Honey. The syrup gave the cake a nice tan colour and made it moistier and ‘stickier’ with a caramelised flavour. I left the Cake on the kitchen table overnight and had a slice for breakfast this morning. The softness and moistness of the cake remained.  Before I left for work, I placed the cake in the fridge. When I got home, I thought the cake would harden while being refrigerated, but no, it remained as soft and fresh. You know what?  This is by far, my favourite Banana Loaf Cake recipe sans nuts.  The next time, I will add some walnuts from my garden!
Have a great week!

Cheers!

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When Fortune knocks, open the door, they say. 

But why should one make Fortune knock, by keeping the door shut?

~Idries Shah (Caravan of Dreams)

Now, my ‘fortune’ started at my SIL’s place when she hosted the yearly family reunion celebrating the New Year. I happened to grab one of the mags lying on a magazine rack. I flipped through the pages quickly as lunch was about to be served. There was this page that bewitched me. It was in Dutch. I stopped a little longer and then I took my iPhone and took a snapshot of the pages. They were 2 blurry pages. My SIL saw my action. 

Oh-oh… now what?” 

She said, “Stop! I can do better. I will print the pages for you” 

Phew! That was a close one…

So yes, my SIL printed the pages for me and in colour prints on A4. What a relief I did not have to squint my eyes reading the small prints on my iPhone. 

Curious to know what my SIL printed for me?

Well, my fortune cookies, of course!

What did my Fortune tell me?

Go make more fortunes! Ha ha ha…

Seriously? Well, I’ve been wanting to make the cookies for a long time. 

Origin

The exact origin of fortune cookies is rather vague. There are 3 claimants who claimed they invented or founded the cookie, however, to this day, the debate on the real founder is still on-going. Contrary to popular belief, the cookies were not invented in China (as rumoured). It’s an American thing, created by Asian immigrants in either the LA or SF areas, migrated from Hong Kong or Japan, depending on which crystal ball you want to believe in. LOL!

Whatever or wherever the origin came from, I see it as part of an entertainment, an ice-breaker or simply, a gift! (Hint: Mother’s Day is up next … ;-))

When I left my previous job more than a decade ago, I distributed about 50 store-bought fortune cookies much to the curiosity and delight of my former colleagues. It was something to remember by and a great way to stay engaged even if it was my last day. Cool!

Oh by the way, I met up with some of my ex-colleagues recently, one of whom I have not met since I left  “Coy P” in 2003! It was good meeting and catching up with them ~ a very international reunion with 6 different nationalities out of 8 that Friday evening!

We went to a Thai restaurant, so no, there were no fortune cookies 🙂

Now I get my fortune cookie when I am at a Chinese restaurant. You can tell the fortune cookies are mass-produced. Identical in size, shape, texture and taste. You will also notice that the pastry is pretty thick, like so …

   
 
 

With the recipe my SIL printed out for me, I wanted to surprise myself that I, too, can make these cookies in the comfort of my own kitchen. By the way, it looked damn easy on paper ~ but oh dear ~ the actual execution was near to disaster. The recipe yields 10, ten-centimeter diameter cookies. I wanted 6 cookies which I wanted to bring to a small gathering the next day. Did I manage to get 6 fortune cookies? We’ll see…

Ingredients (with some modifications)

(Makes 10 fortune cookies)

  • 36 g egg white (room temperature)
  • 30 g superfine sugar 
  • Pinch sea salt (ground in pestle and mortar)
  • Zest of 1 lime 
  • 55 g APF
  • 28.35 g melted butter

Decoration (optional – my own addition )

  • Poppy seeds
  • White sesame seeds

Method 

  

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 deg C (Note: Different ovens work differently. Frankly, this was more a trial-and-error. Cfr my verdict at the end of this post)
  2. Whisk the egg white until frothy
  3. Add sugar and whisk until smooth and glossy
  4. Add salt and lime zest. Whisk to combine
  5. Add flour. Whisk until the batter is smooth and lump-free
  6. Add melted butter and whisk for the last time
  7. Draw three 10 cm circles on a parchment or baking paper. Make sure to turn the paper pencil side down with the circles still visible on the reverse side
  8. Scoop about 3/4 Tbsp of the batter and spread it to follow the pattern of the circle on the baking sheet. Make sure to even out the thickness of the batter with the back of a spoon or a flat butter knife or even a fish knife
  9. Do not rush to bake the cookies. Make 3 at a time. Trust me, that’s plenty to keep you busy! Bake the cookies for 6 to 8 minutes. Seriously, the baking time depends on the type of oven you own. (Note, you need to work very fast as the cookie will crisp up and become brittle in no time at all)
  10. Insert a fortune in a cookie and ply the cookie in half immediately. Hold the cookie at both ends and gently curve the centre of the long straight side of the cookie on the edge of a cup or glass and transfer it to a muffin tin to hold the shape until it cools.
  11. Repeat the process until the batter is used up completely
  12. If the cookie is not crispy or under-cooked, crisp it up by baking in a low heat oven for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are satisfied with the texture. 

   
   

My verdict : I made 10 cookies, but I managed to salvage 6 – yes, on target !! I must confess, though, that the execution was not as easy as it sounded or looked on paper! The first 3 cookies that went in the oven first were a complete disaster – not the taste – but the cookies were not pliable at all. They crisped up and turned out to be crunchy as they were, round thin cookies! BUT, they were delicious! I was so happy I added lime zest  and sprinkled some poppy seeds and white sesame seeds. My younger son, was waiting nearby like a mindless eating machine, preying for the failed cookies. Mine! Mine! Mine! And failed, I did – 4 out of 10 times! To be honest, the failure stats would have been higher. To overcome subsequent  failures, I purposely under-baked the cookies first, and then took them out of the oven and placed a fortune in the cookie and started plying and folding to form the shape of a fortune cookie. Once done, I re-baked them in the oven to crisp them up. The cookies were soft when they were still hot. Re-shaping the cookie was a must and then immediately nesting each cookie in a muffin cavity. I brought the 6 cookies for a birthday gathering the next day for lunch. I was quite disappointed that the cookie was not as crispy as I wanted it to be (btw, that’s the honest verdict from the cookie I ate that afternoon). I’m sure the other girls were too polite not to mention about some of the calamities…(?) I thought, the cookies could do with more re-baking time. After all, it was my maiden attempt in making fortune cookies and for such an “important” function *wink*. 

Happy Birthday to the Birthday Girls , and thanks “A” for hosting us and for the scrummy “mee sua”

Now, there’s someone else who’s waiting for these cookies …My SIL! I promised her that I would make these when it is our turn to host the family reunion, total 17 pax (including 4 kids)! And that’ll be this summer!!! Fingers crossed for success.


By the way, what did my fortune say? 

Lol! 

I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare: May 3-9, hosted by Snap Happy Bakes

Happy Mid Week!

Cheers!

Of Red and Tortoises

My Mum and siblings know it!

Every trip to Kuching, Mum or one of my sisters would buy at least half a dozen of the red, soft, sticky and chewy Chinese pastry filled with mung bean paste for our brekkie. This is one of my must-haves whenever I am in Kuching. The cake (transcribed from the local dialect, ‘kueh‘ ) is moulded to resemble a tortoise shell. 

Remember Grand Master Oogway, one of the characters from DreamWorks animated film, Kung Fu Panda? His character is a tortoise and his name, “Oogway” is the English approximation of the Chinese word for ‘turtle’. In the film, Oogway is shown to be highly venerated for his wisdom, tenacity, knowledge and experience. He is considered a sage (a legendary icon with profound wisdom). 

Here’s one of my favourite quotes *wink*

  

And by the way, tortoises have one of the longest lifespans of any animal. They are known to have lived longer than 150 years, therefore, by equating Red + Tortoise, we arrived at the most powerful equation. In Chinese culture, the colour red symbolizes joy and happiness, whilst the tortoise is traditionally used as a symbol of longevity, power and diligence

Not Red but all-natural Orange Tortoise

Traditionally, Ang Ku Kuehs are prepared during Chinese New Year as offerings to the Chinese deities, as well as auspicious occasions such as a newborn baby’s first month (muah guek) or birthdays of the elderly to symbolize blessings for the child and good fortune and longevity for the elderly.

In modern times, the colour red is no longer restricted to special occasions. These sweet pastries are commercially available all year round in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Southern parts of Thailand. The two main components in Ang Ku Kueh (AKK) are the skin and the filling. The skin is made from both glutinous rice flour and sweet potato whereas the fillings are usually pre-cooked mung bean paste or grounded peanuts and sugar. The oval-shaped AKK is the result of the imprintment of the tortoise-shape mould used in shaping the sweet pastries.

Here were some photos I took during my last trip to Kuching in August last year. These were taken during the Annual Kuching Food Festival.
   
 

With the mass production of the AKK all year round, I am very certain food dyes are liberally used. I am not a fan of using food colouring in my kitchen, hence, my homemade Ang Ku Kueh will definitely not be Red.

Here’s the result of my all-natural Orange Tortoise Cakes. (Note the colour orange was the result of my using orange sweet potatoes)

  

This recipe is an adaptation of Nasi Lemak Lover’s AKK recipe with several modifications, as to the ratio of glutinous rice flour to sweet potato, reduced sugar and I added a pinch of salt and excluding food colouring. I did not use hot water as I was preparing the AKK in my Thermomix

Ingredient A

  • 180 g mung beans (rinsed with several changes of running water and soaked for 4 hours)

Ingredient B

  • 3 knotted pandan leaves

Ingredients C

  • 100 g sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 30 g corn oil

  

Ingredient D

  • 1,000 g water

Ingredient E

  • 220 g sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut in chunks 

Ingredients F

  • 170 g glutinous rice flour
  • 5 g rice flour
  • 15 g sugar
  • 20 g corn oil

Ingredient G

  • 80 g water

  

Ingredient H

  • 700 g water

Additional ingredients

  • Some corn oil
  • Some glutinous rice flour

How to prepare 

   

  1. Place A and B in the Simmering Basket (SB). Place E in the Varoma Dish (VD). Add D. Steam for 45 min/ V/ sp 2
  2. Remove SB and VD. Add the slightly cooled A without B into the TM Bowl. Add C. Blend for 45 sec/ sp 7.  Scrape the sides of the inner bowl and remove the dough into a clean bowl. Cover and set aside.
  3. Place the slightly cooled E into the TM Bowl. Blend for 5 sec/ sp 6. Add F and very slowly pour in G.   Mix for 30 sec/ sp 4. (Note, it is crucial at this stage to check the consistency of the dough. If it is too thick, add water; if too thin, add glutinous rice flour). Knead the dough further for 2 mins. Tip the dough out onto a clean bowl
  4. For the amount of ingredients I used in this recipe, I could make 18 AKK. Use your fantasy on how to put the mung bean filling in the sweet potato dough. I used a measuring spoon of a bit more than 1 Tbsp sweet potato dough and 1 Tbsp of mung bean paste. Try to form a ball and place the ball onto an AKK mould, which was pre-dusted with some glutinous rice flour. Press lightly with your hand and knock out the AKK on both of the long sides of the mould. Immediately sit the AKK on a greased banana leaf
  5. Repeat the process until the doughs are completely used up.  Pour H in the TM Bowl and set the dials to 30 mins/ V/ sp 2.  Once the temp reaches Varoma at approx 22 mins, reduce the temp to 100 deg C. Place the AKK on the Varoma set (Dish and Tray) and stack the Varoma set above the TM Bowl. Continue steaming until done.

   
  
 

Verdict: This was the first time I made Ang Ku Kueh which were not red but all-natural orange tortoise cakes! I have read several recipes, both conventional and thermomix way of preps on the net. Most of them sounded too good to be true. ” … cool the dough and shape in x balls …” or “… weigh each dough and shape in balls … ” or “… divide the dough into x balls …” . Balls? What balls? Honestly, I wished I could do that! Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) made her AKK for the first time and yet she could roll the skin dough into balls (yes, balls!) as well as the mung bean paste. Now, why couldn’t I do that? The sweet potato-glutinous rice flour dough was not easy to handle at all. I added a bit more GRF but dared not go overboard, lest the dough would be too hard and overly tough and chewy. I wanted a soft yet subtly chewy dough, so I ended up scooping the dough with a measuring spoon of 1 Tbsp and tried making a ball on a greased clean plate. Did it work? On the plate, yes, but not on my palm, so no balls. LOL!. Same thing for the mung bean paste. I had to add a bit more oil to make a ball. It was tedious task handlng the “balls” 36 times (skin and filling). I was so craving for AKK and when I finally made it, I was in 7th Heaven, but …..I would NOT suggest eating the AKK hot or warm, ie just coming out from the steamer (Varoma set). It was too soft and the skin was not at all chewy. It was like biting through a gelatinous pastry. Uh-uh! At that point, I was really disappointed and thought the recipe was a big, flat flop! And then I read on fatboo’s blog that the AKK can be kept without refrigeration for up to 3 days; and if they are refrigerated, to re-steam for 5 mins prior to serving. Did I follow the rule? Yes and No. I kept my orange tortoise cakes un-refrigerated for up to 24 hours only, not 3 days. Thanks to fatboo, the AKK tasted sublime the next day, like it should be – soft and chewy with the right balance at the same time. The glossy skin was absolutely fab! I did not even brush extra oil on my little orange tortoise cakes. Likewise, I was really glad I reduced the amount of sugar for the mung bean paste. It was bang on the money, not overly sweet. The subtle pandan flavour and the aroma from the banana leaf were undescribable. Just too nostalgic.

   
 

I had about 10 leftover pieces left. Since I am not used to leaving foods un-refrigerated for longer than 24 hours, I placed my precious orange tortoise cakes in the fridge. I did not re-steam the cakes because if I did, it would be a vicious circle. So I ate a piece of AKK in its cold refrigerated state. That was a BIG mistake! The skin was not chewy anymore. The sweet potato texture became more dominant. The filling was fantastic, though. In hindsight, I should have left the AKK un-refrigerated for 3 days. I guess that’s hinting me to make another batch of these Tortoise cakes, regardless the colour very soon *wink*

Ang Ku Kueh is Hokkien Chinese and is literally translated as Red Tortoise Cake. This sweet Chinese pastry is ubiquitous in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand all year round. For this, I’m linking up this local delicacy to April Tea Time Treats: Local & Regional Recipes hosted by Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers

  

Have a great week!

Cheers!

I was at an Asian store recently with my younger son, and was browsing the shelves in great detail, much to his chagrin.

C’mon, Mama! Don’t take too long. It’s so boring here. Let’s go…

Shhh!! I’m busy here…

 Pfff!

And then…. bingo! I was bewitched by one particular item on the shelf.

This!

  
I was beaming when I saw the familiar looking cookies and my son was delighted I finally found something after striding around for ages on end. Phew! While at the cash counter to pay for my items, the cashier looked up at me and smiled broadly 😃

He said, “You must be a Malaysian, right?”

Huh? How can you tell?” I asked

Because only Malaysians buy the pineapple jam cookies“, he replied with a huge smile on his face 😃

Store-bought vs Homemade

While home, I had a closer look at the plastic case and noticed the Malaysian flag on it. Ah…. that’s why!
 

  

By the way, I did not buy the jam tart because of the flag. I was, infact, as blind as a bat when I reached for the cookies at the time. Now the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

First thing’s first, the tart was crumbly from the first bite. It sort of of melt-in-the-mouth, but there was an unpleasant flavour. It must be the E-number artificial food colouring. No wonder, the pastry was too yellow for my liking. The pineapple paste filling was the stingiest I have ever seen. I could not remember how it tasted like at all, because there was almost nothing filled inside the pastry to draw a taste test. I tasted only the crumbly artificially-buttered-and-coloured pastry, which was quite off-putting, if you ask me.  On the contrary, I must admit that the shape and linear pattern on the cookies were rather impressive. 

  

 
With a lot of effort, we finally finished the store-bought pineapple tarts for more than a week. Then I challenged myself to make my own pineapple tarts from scratch. BUT, I was pampered by a blogger friend, Miss B, when she came to my house last year to pass me a packet of 500g of Redman Pineapple Paste all the way from Singapore (thanks, Miss B). Honestly, that was the best pineapple paste I have tasted ala store-bought. It was not too sweet with natural pineapple flavour and perfect consistency for making pineapple tarts. By the way, I tweaked the paste by spicing it up with some cinnamon and clove powders. Not a lot but just enough to enhance the Nyonya-ness of the paste. LOL!

Here were the results of the store-bought vs homemade pineapple tarts.

I was definitely feeling Goliath-ish that day 🙂

   
  

I have made pineapple tarts before and had always used the same recipe, however, this time, I used another recipe from a friend because I had half a kilogram of pineapple paste! I tweaked her recipe according to personal preference and availability of ingredients

Ingredients

  • 550g plain flour ( I reduced to 450g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 350g butter (I used 250g cold butter because that’s what I had left in the fridge!)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp castor sugar – fine (I reduced to 1.5 Tbsp)
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence (I did not use)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp hot water (I did not use)
  • A few drops of yellow food colouring (I definitely did NOT use)
  • 500g Redman Pineapple paste (I added freshly ground cloves and a pinch of cinnamon powder and wore rubber gloves to knead the mixed spices into the paste)

Glazing/ Egg wash

  • Mix 1 egg yolk with 1 Tbsp condensed milk

Method (how I usually prep and assemble my tarts without using any flashy tart moulds)
The night or day before: Make equal size pineapple balls using a measuring spoon of 1/2 Tbsp each. Place onto a clean flat plate/ dish and cover with a cling film once done, and let rest in the fridge overnight or until ready to be used
   

1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl

2. Knead cold rock solid butter into flour with finger tips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Add in egg yolks and continue kneading until a pastry is formed. It does not take long at all

  
4. Rest the pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes

5. Use a measuring spoon of 1 Tbsp to scoop the pastry and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Place the ball-shape pineapple paste in the centre of the flattened pastry. Close it up and form shapes to your preference. I shaped mine in a slightly rectangular form to represent the shape of a pineapple.

  

 6. Brush each tart top surface with the prepared glazing mixture

7. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 18 minutes and apply the egg wash for a second time. Continue baking for 5 minutes.

   
 8. Done!

   
    

Verdict: One thing’s for sure, store-bought pineapple tarts cannot beat homemade ones. The freshly baked cookies with the subtle aroma of the spiced up paste smelt amazing coming out from the oven. With the ‘new’ recipe I have used, it’s not as crumbly as the store-bought tarts. The baked pastry was mildly crispy on the outside but crumbly in the inside. BUT, the filling was top notch generous! In hindsight, I should have used the ingredients which I have used in my original recipe, with icing sugar, less egg yolks plus a bit of egg white and I noted that the percentage of butter to flour should be in the region of 60% or more. Only then I can shout out that I have made 99.9% melt-in-the-mouth pineapple tarts! For now, it’s 90% melt-in-the-mouth. But hey, who’s complaining? There are 4 pineapple cookie jar monsters in the house. The tarts gone in a jiffy!

  

  

Bonus

500g of pineapple paste was a LOT! There were 30 orphaned and naked pineapple balls left. Lol!

With no pastry left, the smart alec in me bought a roll of store-bought puff pastry and made 30 round-shape and 30 star-shape dough. I placed each pineapple paste on the round disc shape dough and topped it up with the star cap. They looked stunning, just like mini edible Terracotta Army . Ha ha ha..! I was so excited with my creative self.

  
 

Then I baked them in the oven….. BUT… I was in for a rude shock!!

Ring-a-ring o’ roses

A pocket full of posies

A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down…

  
 

The puff pastry really puffed up and toppled every pineapple ball.

The poor fallen warriors. Lol!

And then the determined me quickly put them back together, while they were still hot.

   
  

Now, don’t they look pretty together?

Verdict: With not enough pastry to encase the paste, the taste of the tart was chewier when baked because there was more pineapple paste to chew on. Guess what, I crazily LOVED the taste and texture, and so did my 3 guys. Not the real McCoy, but it was only a quick fix to make use of everything. Waste not, want not 😜

The pineapple tart is one of the many favourites of all cookies served during Festive occasions in Malaysia and Singapore. Its definitely one of my favourites. With Chinese New Year round the corner, I am linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Chinese New Year 2016 hosted by Yen from GoodyFoodies, Diana from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids 

  
Have a fantastic weekend!

Cheers!
 
 

 

 

 

 

Lek Tau Suan or Tau Suan is a very popular South East Asian dessert. The main ingredient in this soup-like dessert is split green beans or mung beans, minus the green husks, hence the yellow colour instead of green.
 

In Kuching, where I grew up, there’s a huge following of this quite addictive dessert. One can order and eat the dessert, served warm in a Chinese bowl with a Chinese spoon or duck spoon al fresco at a stall or food court. Slices of yu char kueh (deep-fried Chinese crullers) is the icing on the cake. This combination is the classic version seen served in Malaysia and Singapore.

Mum used to buy the dessert home from her favourite stall. The dessert is popularly referred to as lek tau suan in Kuching. Although ‘tau‘ means beans or nuts, but Hokkien-speaking Kuchingites specifically differentiate one ‘tau‘ to another. For example ‘toh tau‘ is peanuts, ‘ang tau‘ is red beans, ‘oh tau‘ is black beans, therefore, ‘lek tau‘ is green beans (although the colour green in Hokkien is cheh. Confusing, eh?). In Singapore, this dessert is simply called ‘tau suan‘. Whatever and however way the pearly beans are called, this is one of my favourite desserts. My Mum and siblings know that. Every trip home to Kuching will see me indulging in this dessert without fail.

This is how a bowl of the sweet mung bean dessert is served. I love it warm, ie freshly scooped out of the pot or very cold when refrigerated. The sweet starchy soup with a hint of saltiness from the yu char kueh makes the dessert complete.

 

   
These deep-fried Chinese crullers, by the way, were taken at Gerrard Street in Chinatown during one of my recent trips to London. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any Asian stores in Belgium selling these crullers. I could make them myself, but seeing the amount of oil used to deep fry the crullers turned me off. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE yu char kueh anytime, anywhere if I can get hold of them ready-made, but the idea of making them in my kitchen is a BIG hassle. Reason being, I don’t own a fryolator and I never deep-fry my food in my own kitchen here in BE.

Would you spend EUR 5 (approx MYR 25) for a bowl of Lek Tau Suan?

Crazy but true, I did! 

I was craving for a bowl of the dessert and there in the fridge of a mini Thai store, was the last portion. This Thai Supermarket is ‘notoriously’ known to charge all her desserts at EUR 5 flat! My girlfriends with whom I have occasional lunches with will know which supermarket I’m referring to *wink*

Interestingly, this dessert is called ‘tau suan’ in Thai, at least that’s what the Thai lady at the store told me. The stark difference, though, was the ‘icing on the cake’. Thai and Vietnamese lek tau suan are served with drizzles of lightly salted coconut cream. The last portion I brought home was the first time I had my lek tau suan served á laThai or Vietnamese.

No Crullers No Problem

Last weekend, I was craving for lek tau suan… again! To be honest, I have made this dessert a few times already – plain as wel as with sago pearls – but never had them garnished with fried crullers. As mentioned earlier, I could not get deep-fried Chinese crullers, hence, I resorted to adapting my lek tau suan, the Thai or Vietnamese way this time round.

  

  
This is one of the easiest desserts to make.

And by the way, I was amazed with the long list of health benefits of this Ayuverdic beans, so folks, there is no reason to not indulging in these beans, sweet or savoury. And believe you me, it did not cost me anthing near to EUR 5 for serving up to 6 or more bowls of the sweet mung bean soup! I felt utterly cheated. Then again I knew, so serve me right…

The only alternative is D.I.Y. in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Note: The measurements and timing in this recipe are tried and tested based purely on personal preference, which may or may not agree with your tastebuds, so be warned.

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup split mung beans, washed and soaked for 6 hours
  • Some Pandan leaves
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup + 1  Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • A pinch of fleur de sel 

  
  

  
 Method

  • Wash  the mung beans in several changes of water until water is very clean and clear 
  • Soak the beans for 6 hours. Wash for the last time. Transfer the beans to a strainer to drain excess water
  • Pleat a ‘mat’ form with a few strands of Pandan leaves. Place the ‘mat’ in a steamer and pour the dry soaked beans on the Pandan ‘mat’. Cover the beans with all ends of the Pandan leaves and fasten with toothpicks. Steam for 15 minutes or until al dente (how I like my beans)
  • Boil 3 cups water. Throw in 2 knotted Pandan leaves. 
  • Add in sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove the knotted Pandan leaves
  • Make the starch by binding 1/3 cup tapioca flour with 1/2 cup water. 
  • Pour the starch in the sugared water. Stir until the liquid turns translucent and gluey.
  • When the mung beans are cooked at the stage of al dente, sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar and mix to coat the beans. Transfer beans to sugared starch water. Stir to mix the beans evenly.
  • In a small clean bowl, add a pinch of salt into the coconut cream. Stir to dissolve. Set aside.
  • Serve the sweet mung bean congee in dessert bowls and drizzle with a tablespoon of the coconut cream

   
 

Verdict:

The pre-soaking of the beans for 6 hours and steaming for 15 minutes resulted in a nice bite to the beans. I loved the chewy texture of the cooked beans rather than the distintegrated and mushy texture. By adding 1 Tbsp sugar to the steamed beans created that al dente texture as well as keeping each bean whole. Most recipes used sweet potato starch. I don’t have that flour. I have used corn flour before but the starchiness would not hold after a few hours or left cold. You will end up with a watery dessert. Tapioca flour is a better option. It’s gluten-free but high in carb. The liquid remained gluey even after leaving in the fridge overnight. Honestly, if I had the choice between coconut cream topping or slices of deep-fried Chinese crullers, I would go for the later.  It’s THE best combination ever!  The drizzle of coconut cream was good but the crullers were better. Again, a subjective choice 😉

I’m linking this post to the October blog-hop cooking event with the theme, “COCONUT” at  Little Thumbs Up organized by Doreen of my favourite little DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and hosted by Jess of Bakericious at this post.

  

TGIF! Happy weekend all!

Cheers!

“Funny when we‘re not there, they miss us. When we are there, they kinda close their eyes and pretend or think we are invisible.  When we are eventually there and as time goes by, we age quite rapidly. We actually black-out quite easily, too”.

Now, who or what are “we“, and please be specific, I asked my 2 boys.

A cat?

Nope! I wondered why a cat…

Light (bulb)?

Nope!

Fruit?

Erm…Nope!

Boys: Okay, we give up, Mum!

Mum: Well, it’s none other than those sweet yellow curvy thingy called Bananas, my boys… LOL!

Both my sons re-read the riddle that I invented and slowly nodded their heads with approval.

Boys: Yeah, you’re right Mum. No wonder you spared the lives of the bananas from being thrased and put them to good use for the umpteenth time! *LOL*

Mum: *Grin*

Banana Makeover!

I had 3 ripe bananas in my kitchen, dangling from the banana hanger, screaming out for a complete makeover! Actually, I had a few things in my mind with those bananas.

Initially, I was thinking of making banana fritters. It has been a long time since I had my last banana fritter in Kuching back in 2008!  After looking at all angles, I scrapped the idea of making banana fritters as they consumed too much cooking oil for frying and furthermore, I don’t own a fryolater.

Then I was thinking of baking a banana bread or cake. Nah! I’ve baked too many banana cakes already and have posted my downfalls and victories in these posts here, here,  here and here.

And then, I was toying with the idea of making banana chiffon cake. Not too long ago, a colleague brought his home-baked banana chiffon cake to work and shared a few wedges with me. Boy…I was bowled over! Simply scrummy, that I finally bought myself a chiffon cake pan! Did I bake a chiffon cake? Nah! Not now. That’ll come, for sure 😉

By the way, since it was Father’s Day recently, I thought of making something small with some extra goodness, and here’s the result! These little gems required no electric stand mixer. Only my working hand, a fork, a rubber spatula and 2 bowls (one big and one medium-sized), plus of course the measuring cups and spoons and the ingredients!

I have adapted the recipe from JoyOfBaking.com, which I have posted here, by including a few of my own touches.

Instead of using granulated white sugar, I opted for 1 Cup of soft light brown sugar (Cassonade Graeffe) and 1/2 tsp baking soda iso 1/4 tsp. I added 1 Tbsp caramel sauce as brown sugars are less sweet than the white granulated ones. To make the muffins a bit more special, I added 3/4 Cup Country Crisp with crunchy Chunky Nuts (wholegrain cereals, oat and barley flakes, dessiccated coconut, flaked almonds, chopped nuts – Brazil, pecan and roasted hazelnuts) and 1/4 Cup chopped pistachios.

The method of making Quick Bread or Banana bread is such a breeze. Mix all the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and mix all the dry ingredients in a bigger bowl. Add the wet to the dry and the chemistry begins! Fold very lightly until all white speckles of flour are no longer visible. Do not over stir unless you want hard rock muffins!   

Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper muffin cups and fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.  Bake in the pre-heated oven at 177 deg C for a perfect muffin texture at 23 minutes! Please check your type of oven. It can be anywhere between 20 – 25 deg C. My oven usually takes the middle-of-the-road path 😉

Verdict: These muffins were a joy to bite into when still warm. They were really light and the sweet banana flavour with the warm hint of cinnamon and the goodness from the nuts and crisps came through perfectly. I must confess that the nuts were not crunchy any more but you’ll definitely know their presence as they gave a nice bite and texture to an otherwise mundane-looking muffin. My boys loved the muffins and it’s the surest way to enjoy “black-out” bananas! And by the way, the muffins tasted absolutely divine the day after. Perfect in my dessert box 😉

These were simple muffins but made with love and packed with extra goodness. I’m quite certain they will make a nice treat over at Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavender & Lovage and co-hosted by Jane from The Hedgecombers with the June theme “Muffins, Fairy Cakes and Cupcakes

 

 
I’m also linking this post to Tasty Tuesdays hosted by HonestMum  

Before this week ends, I’m linking up to #Recipe of the Week 20-26 June hosted by A Mummy Too

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Cheers!

  
Be warned!

This cake is seriously meant for a very busy someone who craves for something adjustably sweet, fresh, fast, tasty, home-baked and more importantly, if that someone is in possession of some blackened bananas lying in the kitchen somewhere.  My advice is “Do NOT thrash the bananas!”

That’s exactly what happened to me recently.  With the warmer temps of late, fruits lying in my kitchen untouched, started to scream out to me.  

Eat me, or else…!

Yep… That’s exactly what my 3 bananas reacted. The smooth yellow peels turned almost black!  

  

See, I’m not as attractive now, but I’m definitely sweeter than my yellow alter ego“.  LOL!

Easy Peasy

While I was making this cake, my mind flashed back to a recent weekend when I had some friends over for lunch at my house. After hearing their feedbacks on how little time they could spare in their kitchen, running after toddlers and literally getting involved with the busy extra-curricular activities of their young kids, I could swear that this cake is made for that category of Mums *wink*

By the way, I have passed the stage of running after hyper-active toddlers and being a chauffeur for very young kids , but I AM still a busy Mum to 2 quite demanding teen-aged boys, working full time every work week through weekend. Damn, I needed that occasional treat of sweetness, adjustable sweetness, that is! Energy!

I was so glad I chanced upon this Banana Cake or Bread recipe from Joy of Baking dot com.  

If you like bananas and Banana Cake like me, this recipe is definitely a keeper! I promise! Scout’s honour!

Recipe inspired by Stephanie Jaworski of JoyOfBaking.com
Dry Ingredients –
  • 230g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 150g granulated white sugar (adjustable, of course)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  
Wet Ingredients –
  • 113g unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  

 Method – 
  1. Pre-heat oven to 177 deg C.
  2. Grease spray a 24 x 10 x 7 cm loaf pan. Set aside
  3. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the wet ingredients with a whisk and then a rubber spatula.
  5. Lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not over mix the batter as we do not want to end up with tough rubbery bread/ cake.
  6. Pour batter in baking pan. Depending on your oven, bake the bread for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. 
  7. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes before cooling it further on a wire rack. 
  
  
  
Joy of Baking added chopped nuts, but I left the cake as simple and naked as ever. Less is more 😉

Honestly speaking, there are 3 things I LOVED about this cake.
  1. It’s technically hassle-free, ie, with no stand or hand mixer required. Only a whisk and a rubber spatula.
  2. The batter is lightly mixed, which cuts down laborious hours in the kitchen.
  3. I know this is one of the cakes I have made that my guys would enjoy eating, meaning I would not end up eating the cake myself and feeling guilty of being paunchy. In simple words, I hate food wastage😄

Conclusion : It’s fast and simple to make! It took me less than 15 mins to weigh, sift,  mash, whisk and mix the ingredients to a cake batter, while the baking time depends on your oven. Honestly speaking, the cake would be just right baked for 45 minutes in my oven. I baked this one for 50 mins, while the original recipe indicated 55 to 60 mins. 

  

I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare 15 which is guest-hosted by Angela from Patisserie Makes Perfect this fortnight on behalf of Lucy from Supergolden Bakes.
  
I love bananas and Banana Cake is definitely one of my favourite desserts. It’s flavourful, healthy and incredibly simple to make, hence I’m linking this post to Best Recipes for Everyone May 2015 (My Favourite Dessert) organised by Fion of XuanHom’s Mom Kitchen Diary , co-hosted by Aunty Young ==>> WITHDRAWN.  See N.B

Enjoy the rest of the week!
Cheers!

N.B. I must apologise to the organisers of BRFE for the month of May 2015 for linking up this post. For obvious reason, a Banana Cake is sort of a sponge cake, hence is one of the restricted forms of dessert for the May theme. I must have overlooked that point. No thanks for being myopic 😁. My sincere apology, Aunty Young. I’ll read more carefully the next time…