Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

One beautiful Saturday afternoon, I hosted a potluck lunch for my girlfriends (without partners and kids), whom you have ‘met’ on these posts, here and here. One of the girls, C, just visited a farm near her place before coming to my house. She’s a great multi-tasker, conjuring 2 absolutely mouth-watering plates of stir-fried veggies a la minute in my kitchen! And not only that, she brought her fresh homemade pizza dough and baked 3 different toppings of pizzas that afternoon! Yup, in my kitchen. Thanks, C. All 3 dishes were absolutely DIVINE and went down our tummies effortlessly!  

  

Oh yes, the farm visit. C bought 3 dozens of super, super, SUPER fresh eggs. She must have waited for the chicken to lay the eggs at the farm as she was the last one to arrive that afternoon. Lol! Oh by the way, she also brought a Chiffon Cake pan, in the hope of using some of the eggs to bake a nice pandan Chiffon Cake in my kitchen, using my recipe, here.  

But alas, there was no baking of a Chiffon Cake because everyone was stuffed to the brim and was too tired to do anything “strenuous” that Saturday afternoon. 

Girls, thanks for bringing your “lucky” pot(s).  It was gluttony all the way. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!  😱

   

Before the girls left, C gave me 10 of the freshly laid free-range eggs. Boy, I felt so bad that I did not show her how to bake the Chiffon Cake. Sorry, C 😦

Making Good Use of C‘s Fresh Eggs

I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the super fresh eggs I got from C. Making my childhood favourite toasted bread spread, called kaya, had always been on my to-do list since time immemorial. Kaya is a Malay word, meaning ‘rich’, because of the creamy and custardy texture from the coconut cream/ milk and eggs (chicken or duck) and sweetened with sugar. Then other flavours or colours come in. If the kaya is brown, palm sugar or gula Melaka or gula Apong is used, whilst the green-coloured kaya is flavoured with the sweet and fragrant herb called Pandanus (or Screwpine). 

  
I was lucky I had a packet of frozen pandan leaves in my freezer ~ not opened or used yet ~ but telepathically, waiting for me to conquer ’em. So yes, I was making the fragrant pandan coconut jam – FINALLY!

Great Helper

The most basic kaya recipe has only 3 ingredients ~ eggs, coconut cream/ milk and sugar, and yet most people shun from making it. Why? Because the task of standing hours on end stirring the mixture over the stovetop is immensely unexciting, dull and monotonous! It can take as long as 3 hours! It’s not like preparing slow-cooked meat stew that you can leave the cooking unattended, but you need to keep an eye on the kaya mixture, stirring constantly in order to end up with the texture you want, otherwise you have to start all over again! 

In my opinion, there is no one right homemade kaya consistency or texture. This is really subjective and very personal to one’s target preference.

By the way, I recently owned the latest model of the Thermomix, the TM5.  This kitchen gadget has been a great “helper”in my kitchen. Instead of me stirring the mixture, my thermie was doing the job. I could do 101 other things while waiting for my kaya to set. I was even watching the telly!

I know there are many shortcut recipes out there, that could churn the kaya in 10 to 15 minutes. But hey, I’m not the one who’s stirring, so time and energy are not the essence 😜

My objective was to make a decent kaya that I could enjoy and reminiscing my childhood days. Period.

As I have said earlier, the ingredients are pretty obvious in making kaya. Eggs (usually the yolks), sugar and coconut cream/ milk.  Since the eggs I got from C were super fresh, I decided to use 5 whole eggs!

Note: If you do not own a Thermomix, the ingredients remain the same, BUT you need to manually stir the mixture in a double boiler pot or a crock pot or a heavy bottom wok or pan. Eyeballing on the texture and consistency is key. Slow Cooker works well, too. You may want to refer to my pumpkin jam recipe, Slow-cooked Zesty Pumpkin Jam.

Ingredients

  •  5 fresh free-range whole eggs 
  • 140 g castor sugar (increase the quantity if you have sweet tooth, but 140 g is more than sweet)
  • 245 g coconut milk (if possible, get freshly squeezed coconut cream/milk, but there ain’t any here, so the best I could get hold of was 250 ml brik Chaokoh coconut milk)
  • A tiny pinch of sea salt (my secret ingredient)
  • 40 g freshly extracted first-pressed pandan juice (from 20 pandan leaves) ~ a post on how I extracted the pandan juice coming up next on my blog (here).

Preparation ( TM5 way) –

  1. Insert the butterfly attachment in the TM bowl and add sugar and eggs. Mix for 30 sec/ speed 3
  2. Add coconut milk, concentrated first-pressed pandan extract and a pinch of salt. Cook for 40 min/ 98C/speed 2 without MC
  3. Check the consistency of the texture by smearing a small portion of the cooked kaya with the spatula against the inner bowl of the TM. If the kaya mixture is still too runny, it’s not done yet, however, if the mixture takes a while to roll back to the bottom of the bowl, then it’s done. (Note: I had to do the ‘test’ twice as the consistency of my kaya was still a bit runny in the first 40 mins. I  added 2.5 mins * 2 at 90deg C.  Be warned that the texture and consistency of the kaya is subjective. If you prefer a runny kaya, then by all means, cook for a shorter time. I prefer a less runny kaya,  that’s all 😜)
  4. Once you have reached the texture you want, blend the mixture for 20 seconds from speed 0 to 4 for a smoother consistency (Note: you can blend above speed 4 if you don’t mind the mixture splattering to the lid and the sides of the inner bowl)
  5. Pour the kaya into sterilized jar(s). Refrigerate once cooled.
  6. Done!

   

  
My all-natural fragrant pandan coconut egg jam. 

How to eat Kaya ?

Imagine kaya as your Nutella spread, or peanut butter or jam or confituur. For me, I like to spread my kaya on white toasted bread with a layer of butter. The best brekkie or High-tea. Mmm… 

   
 

  

Oh by the way, with this recipe, I could only fill one jar, which is luckily bigger than the normal jam jars. It’s really quite addictive and Preciousss!! So you can imagine how miserly the consumption was. Lol!

This makes a great tea time treat anytime. For this, I am entering this post to the monthly Tea Time Treats Linky Party – March 2016 hosted by Karen of  Lavender and Lovage and  Jane of The Hedgecombers 

  
With such fresh eggs used in this recipe, I would not miss the boat this month on Dom’s Simply Eggcellent #13 – A Celebration of Eggs! over at Belleau Kitchen.

  
With the all-natural green colour from one of South East Asia’s most beloved herbs, the pandanus, I’m thrilled to link this post to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs for Easter and Spring

  

A Blessed AND Peaceful Easter!

Shalom!

I was in London recently with my family. With the 2-week Easter school break, I thought, why not kill two birds with one stone? The main purpose of our trip was to have my Malaysian passport renewed at the Malaysian High Commission in London.

By the way, if you are wondering why I had not had my passport renewed in Belgium, well, the answer is “yes, I could do that”, but it would take at least 4 weeks! The Malaysian Embassy in Belgium would do exactly the same thing, ie, sending the entire necessary original documents to London for checking purposes and having them printed out with the special printing machine. Unfortunately, the special printer is not available in Belgium. Furthermore, I would not want to risk losing all my original documents in the post.

At the Malaysian High Commission in London, the passport was ready on the same day. How convenient was that! A write-up on this topic will come in a later post 😉

Mind the Gap!

1. Mind the Gap 

Mind the Gap between the train and the platform”.

This is really a catch phrase – very mesmeric, indeed – that you would hear over and over again from the public address system on the London Underground Rapid Transit System. It was introduced in 1969 as a warning to train passengers to remind them of the gap between the train door and the station platform or where platforms are of uneven heights with the train doors.

1. Underground

Some places of interest

We have been to London a few times already, mostly for shopping and sightseeing. We never failed to visit Knightsbridge where the famous Harrods stands regally.

2a. Harrods by day

2b. Harrods by night

Taking pictures inside Harrods was an absolute no-no. There were security guards in every nook and cranny of each hall; however, I could not resist taking this 1 meter high exclusive Belgian handcrafted chocolate Easter Egg. Just look at the price tag!

3. Easter EggI wanted to take another picture of an eye-popping display of a Roger Dubuis watch with a price tag of GBP 223,000!! I dared not click my camera because a beady-eyed guard was standing right behind me. Well, I approached the guard and asked – politely – his permission for a “little” snapshot. As expected, ‘Permission Denied’! Ouch!

Gerrard Street does not sound Chinese, but this street is as Chinese or Asian as can be. It’s of course London’s very own Chinatown! You would think that you’re in Asia somewhere 🙂

4. Gerrard Street

I love going to periodic Markets. If you are in London and it’s a Friday, don’t forget to go to Borough Market. According to the London Official Visitor Guide, Borough Market is one of the top 10 to-go-to markets in London and is described as “gourmet’s paradise”. The nearest Underground is the London Bridge. I could spend the whole day there, but we did not have a lot of time. There were a million and one other places to visit and things to do elsewhere…

Borough Market through the keyhole of a tourist …

 5a. Borough Market

5b. Borough Market

5c. Borough Market

Eating Out

We have heard Indian foods outside of India are the best in the UK. Well, we were tempted by the display of the delicious and aromatic vegetarian thali prepared by chefs from Gujarati Rasoi at the Borough Market. That became our lunch. We practically ate out of lunchboxes in London! There were other stopovers that enticed us for try outs out of lunchboxes that we became overly stuffed and were not able to eat a proper and decent meal.

6. Gujarati Rasoi Thali 

Probably, the only decent sit-down meal we had in London was at Wagamama near Leicester Square

7. Wagamama

As a matter of fact, we had earlier wanted to lunch at our favourite Malaysia Kopi Tiam (coffee shop/ house) on Charing Cross Road. We enjoyed many delicious platters served there in the past and were not disappointed – dishes that I was familiar with, of course. The following pictures were taken during our last trip to London in the summer of 2010.

8a. Kopitiam8c. Kopitiam

8b. Kopitiam8e. Kopitiam

8d. Kopitiam8f. Kopitiam 

Almost four years later, Malaysia Kopi Tiam was no longer in her former glory. What happened??!! I sincerely hope that the restaurant is under renovation or perhaps has moved to another location? I hope it’s the former…

9b. Kopitiam2

9a. Kopitiam1

Charing Cross Road = Shopping + Bookstores!

If you are on Charing Cross Road, the most logical thing to do is to shop! For me, Charing Cross Road is synonymous to the innumerable mega bookstores. We stopped at the two most well known bookstores – Foyles and Waterstone’s. I could spend my entire day there flipping through all kinds of genres of books.

It was at Foyles that I bought Martha Stewart’s Everyday Light cookbook. After eating out of takeaway lunchboxes for three days, I made sure that we had a proper Sunday lunch after our London trip.

Martha Stewart’s Leg of Lamb with Mint Sauce was my definite choice as Lamb is a special animal appropriately associated with Easter. Likewise, Lamb and Mint sauce go so well together. I have used Martha Stewart’s recipe with my modifications indicated in blue font.

Ingredients –

  • 1 whole bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed off excess fat and membrane (I bought a 2-kg leg of lamb)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper (I used Himalayan coarse salt and mixed Szechuan pepper, ground with a pestle and mortar)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, cut into 20 slivers total
  • Fresh sprigs of rosemary – this is not in the recipe

 1. Lamb prep_collage 

Method –

  1. Preheat oven to circa 230 deg Celsius (450 deg F)
  2. Rub lamb with a generous amount of freshly ground coarse salt and mixed pepper, and then rub with oil. With the tip of a sharp paring knife, cut twenty circa 1.5 cm (½ -inch) deep slits all over the lamb.
  3. Insert a garlic sliver and some of the fresh sprigs of rosemary into each opening
  4. Place the lamb on a roasting rack set on a baking or roasting pan. You may want to line the roasting pan with an aluminium foil or baking sheet. I skipped that.
  5. Transfer to oven and immediately reduce oven to ca 165 C (325 F). I do not have an instant-read thermometer, but if you owned one, then Martha Stewart recommended that the reading must register 52 C (125 F) to 57 C (135 F) for rare; or 57 C (135 F) to 60 C (140 F) for medium, 1¼ to 1¾ hours. Note the thermometer needs to be inserted in the thickest part (avoiding the bone). Since I do not have an instant-read thermometer, my acid test is based on the insertion of a metal skewer into the thickest part of the leg, and then I immediately place the skewer on my lower lip. If it’s still cold, the lambs goes right back in the oven. If the skewer feels hot on my lip, then the lamb is ready. The roasting time is between 1½ to 1¾ hours, depending on the weight and size of the leg of lamb
  6. Remove from the oven; tent with a tin foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
  7. Serve with mint sauce

 2. Lamb_roasted whole + carved

3. Lamb_roasted_whole

4. Lamb_roasted_carved1

4. Lamb_roasted_carved2

Mint Sauce

Ingredients –

  • ½ cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar (Sorry, but this was way too much! I used ½ cup raw cane sugar and even then, the mint sauce was too sweet for my liking. I will seriously reduce the amount of sugar the next time)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • A pinch of Himalayan coarse salt for balance of taste – this is not in the recipe

 Method –

  1. In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, salt and water to a boil. I did not stir, but rather, swirl the saucepan around over the stovetop
  2. Lower heat and simmer until liquid is syrupy and reduced in amount, for about 15 to 20 minutes
  3. Remove from heat, stir in mint and let cool completely

 1. Mint sauce_prep_collage

According to Martha Stewart, the sauce can be refrigerated up to 1 week in an airtight container.

2. Mint sauce_cookbook

3. Lamb + Mint sauce_collage

4. Lamb + Mint sauce

I am most happy to link this post to Cooking with Herbs Challenge for April, hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage with the April theme of using Mint as the selected cooking herb.

Cooking with Herbs

This post is also linked to Cook like a Star – ALL Stars Anniversary with my choice of Star Chef, Martha Stewart. This event which runs between March to April is organised by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Mich from Piece of Cake

Cook Like A Star! 

Because I have picked a Cookbook to refer to for this special meal, I am linking this post to Cook-Your-Books #11 hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Cook Your Books 

With another week passing us by, I am linking this special post meal of Lamb coinciding with the Holy Week to Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv’s Made with Love Mondays: Week 14th April

 Made with Love Mondays

Because this post has a hint of random thoughts and cookbook-related, I thought a link up to Beth Fish Reads’ Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Journals: A Week in the Life is most appropriate.

 Weekend Cooking

 

Enjoy the rest of the week!

 

Cheers!

When my sons were younger, we used to have LOADS of chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies lying around the house, weeks before and after Easter – all gifts from their uncles, aunties, late grandma, friends and of course from papa and mama as well.   There was a moment when there were too many of these chocolates around the house that I had to give them away to my colleagues and friends.  Now that my sons have outgrown this phase, I suddenly became fidgety and started ransacking the fridge and cupboards looking for chocolates. Zilch. Nada. Zip!

Then I saw cocoa powder in my kitchen cabinet and that’s how I ended up making this all-in-one-bowl chocolate cake.

Of Cement and Chocolates

If you were following my last post Our Veranda Project: Now you see it, now you don’t (Part 2), I mentioned that our veranda was not 100% completed, and I actually meant it. The contractors came yesterday morning and started cementing the floor of the veranda. That time, I was at home as I took the week off from work.

While the work was going on in our veranda, I decided to bake a cake! Mind you, baking a cake would have been one of the last things on my mind, if not for the measuring cups and spoons I got as a gift from a blogger friend, Chris . That became a wake-up call 😉

Scribbled past with a bright future

Alas, I couldn’t remember where I got this recipe. I had this recipe scribbled on a scruffy piece of paper since time immemorial. The only way to do justice to this scribbled past was to put a name and place for this recipe – on my blog!

I shall call it The forgotten all-in-one-bowl Chocolate Cake. I made a few adjustments and modifications here and there.

Ingredients

2 cups self-raising flour

2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup brown Cassonade Graeffe sugar and 1 cup castor sugar)

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Van Houten’s cocoa powder)

2 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs

A pinch of salt

1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 Tbsp white vinegar and filled the rest with milk measured to 1 cup. Let stand for 5 minutes until thickened)

1 cup vegetable oil (I used Culino corn oil)

1.5 tsp vanilla extract (I used Vahiné Vanillestokjes Poeder)

1 cup boiling water (I added 2 Tbsp Nescafé Gold Dessert instant coffee – trust me, you will not regret!)

Preparation –

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius

2. Lightly grease and flour the baking dish

3. Put all ingredients (except the boiling water with instant coffee) in a mixing bowl and mix well to form lump-free batter

4. Finally add the boiling water with the instant coffee and mix well for another minute.

Pour the cake batter in the baking dish and bake in the oven for 60 minutes, or insert a skewer in the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.

Et voilà !

  

I did not make the chocolate ganache because I wanted to avoid a messy affair! Instead I dusted some icing sugar on the cake and it was gorgeous.  I was extremely surprised with the result.  The cake was moist, dark, not too sweet and chocolatey – the way it should be.  

I will definitely make this cake again.  The next time I make this cake, I will add some chopped Walnuts. LOL!

With the same batter, I’m very sure we can use it for making cupcakes.  And yes, that’s on my to-do list as well 😉

By the way, I have no fancy KitchenAid or a Kitchen Robot – just a large bowl and a wooden spoon and all my strength and energy 😀

Have I convinced you enough? *wink*

Cheers!

I am pretty sure that the Jelly Bean Prayer has been shared many times by many bloggers.  It would be a shame if I kept this prayer to myself, so I’m sharing it with you.

Red is for the blood He gave

Green is for the grass He made

Yellow is for the sun so bright

Orange is for the edge of night

Black is for the sins we made

White is for the grace He gave

Purple is for His hour of sorrow

Pink is for our new tomorrow

An egg full of jelly beans, colourful and sweet

Is a prayer, a promise, a loved one’s treat!

Written by Charlene Dickensen, 1997

Easter Tradition

Easter traditions differ around the world.

Children in the United States and Canada believe the Easter bunny or rabbit brings eggs at Easter.

In Belgium, children say Easter eggs are brought by the church bells, or specifically, by the church bells of Rome.  According to legend, the church bells leave the village church on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) while reciting the first Gloria of the Mass and flew back from Rome on Easter Vigil (the day before Easter). For this reason, church bells in Belgium do not ring from Good Friday until Easter Sunday. When the bells fly back home for Easter, they drop coloured eggs for little boys and girls to find. Sometimes the eggs bear the names of the children. Should a child finds an egg with his or her name on it, it indicates happiness, as can – definitely – be seen from the child’s face 😀

Egg Hunting

When our sons were younger, we hid coloured chocolate eggs around the house.  The hilarious part was seeing them crawling under chairs, tables and small passageways scouring the entire house for the Easter Eggs. LOL!

Alas, my two boys have outgrown this expedition.  I’m pretty sure they can’t crawl under the chairs anymore.

Marbled-effect Easter Egg Recipe (without food colouring)

I got this recipe from one of my sisters-in-law many years back, which she inherited from her late mother.  I have yet to try making these marbled-effect Easter eggs. The ingredients looked simple, but I thought it was rather time consuming, so I am scrapping the idea for now.  Procrastination is the thief of time, I know.  Ah well….Maybe next year…*wink*

Anyway, since we are invited for the Easter reunion with the family at my brother-in-law’s place every year since the demise of my mother-in-law in 2006, I leave this part of the process to my sisters-in-law.  The yearly gathering becomes a family tradition. These coloured or marbled-effect Easter eggs are presented every year at the dining table.

Ingredients –

One dozen eggs

5 yellow onions

5 red onions

Preparation –

Remove the coloured layers from the yellow and red onions. Cut a muslin (or cheesecloth) into squares of about 12 cm x 12 cm. Place a few onion skins on a piece of muslin with an egg in the centre. Wrap the muslin around the egg. Secure with an elastic band.  Repeat the process with the remaining eggs and onion peel/ skin.

Fill a large cooking pot with cold water and add the muslin-wrapped eggs.  Place the lid on the cooking pot and bring it to a boil. 

Remove the pot from the heat and let the eggs sit for 10 to 15 minutes in the hot water. Rinse the eggs with cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove the muslin and onion peel. Rinse the eggs and pat them dry.

I forgot to take a picture of the eggs, because they were gone as soon as they arrived at the table!

By the way, here’s a picture someone else took which looks uncannily similar.

Easter in Kuching

I have fond memories of the mass services during the period of Lent, which starts from Ash Wednesday lasting for 40 days until Easter Vigil. Sundays are not included in the count. Lent is a time of reflection, repentance and spiritual discipline, in preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection.

At our local parish church, hard boiled eggs were given away to young children and senior citizens after the service on Easter Sunday.  At least that was what I could recall seventeen and more years ago!

We always looked forward to Easter Sunday, where the matriarch of the family – my mother – would be preparing one of the two “eggy” dishes: curry chicken with hard boiled eggs or the Teochew pak loh ark (Teochew style braised duck) with hard boiled eggs. Both scrumptiously prepared and gone at the end of meal time 😉

Why eggs? And why coloured eggs?

Have you ever wondered why eggs are linked to Easter? Eggs have long been symbols of immortality, rebirth and new life. Jesus gave His life to give us life.

The coloured eggs represent vitality and fertility evident in spring, where new life emerged after the cold, dark and gloomy winter.

On the Sunday morning after Jesus was crucified, two women named Mary went to visit the tomb where Jesus had been buried. When they arrived, there was a great earthquake and an angel came and rolled away the huge stone that had been covering the entrance to Jesus’ tomb. The angel sat on the stone and said to the two women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He has been raised, just as He said.”

In one of the Easter Sunday sermons, I remembered a young priest’s interpretation. Interestingly, the stone was not rolled away so that Jesus could get out of the tomb; it was rolled away so that His followers and believers could go in and see that the tomb was empty: the fact that we could see that He has risen and because of His victory over death, we can enter into eternal life with Him

Hallelujah!

By the way, here’s a song I enjoy listening to over and over again. How can we get bored with such a great song?

“Hallelujah” was written by the Canadian singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen.  There are so many cover versions of this song.  I chose the cover from the most amazing voice I have heard – the voice of a little angel. I just had to share Rhema Marvanne’s version.  Rhema who?  Please check her out. She was 8 years old when she sang this song.  Her full name is Rhema Marvanne Voraritskul. She was born on 15th September, 2002. She is a gospel singer. Her father is Teton Voraritskul and her mother was Wendi “Mercy” Marvanne. Teton’s father, Chai Voraritskul was an immigrant from Thailand, while Wendi died of ovarian cancer on 8th November 2008 at the age of 36 when Rhema was only 6 years old.

Enjoy and a Blessed Easter everyone!