Recipe adapted from 'Perfect Light Desserts' by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim
Chocolate chip cookies. Chewy or crispy, most of us do love these little bites no?
These cookies are lower in fat as these use much less butter than the other recipes I've tried so these are probably good on days when you want chocolate chip cookies with
no less guilt. In terms of taste, they tasted perfect straight out of the oven but warm cookies almost always taste better than cooled cookies in my opinion. I did not absolutely love these cookies as I thought they were a bit dry probably due to lack of butter (!) and eggs. Anyway, they still tasted good although I know I am absolutely going to need to try baking Jacques Torres' 'secret' 36 hour chocolate chip cookies the next time which are apparently Martha Stewart's favourite chocolate chip cookies. Hmm..being the impatient person I am, it will probably take some will power to wait 36 hours before baking!
Back to the skinny version - the recipe only called for chilling in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking but I chilled the dough for about 1 hour as through experience, usually the longer the dough is chilled, the tastier the cookie since the flavours really blend more harmoniously with longer time. Here's an interesting article from the New York Times which was a culmination of opinions by different chocolate chip cookie aficionados and true experts on the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The consensus seems to be two things that qualifies a cookie in being labelled 'perfect', one - serve them warm and two - let the dough chill long enough. Perhaps the next time I make these skinny chocolate chip cookies, I should let the dough chill much longer?
Recipe adapted from 'Perfect Light Desserts' by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim
This cucumber dish combines sweet, sour and spicy notes in a flavourful stir-fry with chicken livers and chicken gizzards. I am a huge fan of chicken gizzard as I love the chewy texture but not so of chicken livers though my mom insists the latter have to be in the stir-fry at least for the flavours. If you don't find chicken livers and gizzards appealing, you can make the dish vegetarian and just stir fry the cucumbers and red chilli peppers.
I love the vinegary sauce of this dish and also I think the texture of the crunchy cucumbers marry well with the chewiness of the gizzards. I would buy pre-cleaned gizzards and livers which are widely available in grocery stores instead of attempting the rather arduous (at least to me) task of cleaning at home though.
Note: Remember to soak the cucumber slices in some salt before cooking. After soaking for at least 15 minutes, 'squeeze' the cucumber slices lightly with your hands to remove most of the moisture. This will make the cucumber crunchier and not turn to mush while stir-frying.
Recipe adapted from 'Perfect Light Desserts' by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim
This is going to be my go-to recipe from now whenever I have overripe bananas around the house. I loved that this recipe was so easy with extremely satisfying results. After trying out a few banana cake recipes, I realized that it is really better to use very ripe bananas to ensure a moist and rich cake. This time, since they were available, I used 'pisang mas' which has a fragrantly sweet taste and creamy texture. This species of bananas mainly grow in South East Asia but I have stumbled upon them now and again in the Asian grocery stores in California. In Chinese, this variety of bananas is referred to as 'Mai Chiu' (米蕉), literally translated to 'rice bananas'. In my opinion, I think these rice bananas produced a richer flavoured and more moist cake.
On another note, yesterday I attempted to bake another cake from another recipe book which was an utter failure - fortunately I was greatly comforted by the results of these banana cupcakes today. You know the rush of happiness you get when you see a perfectly risen cake from your own oven? I was just SO relieved!
Instead of using a food processor to make a banana puree, I used a fork to mash the bananas as I wanted more texture in my cake, which also produced a richer flavour in my opinion. I also made a mini loaf in keeping with the original banana loaf recipe.
According to the authors, you have to really use very ripe bananas regardless of the type of bananas you're using to make banana cake, if not you might as well use potatoes!
Today's feature is a very simple family recipe (mom's side) that is now one of our family favourites. Pork is briefly pan-fried with garlic then braised for about an hour in sugar, light soy sauce and thick soy sauce. The thick soy sauce used is already blended with some caramel and sugar - this differs from another variety of dark soy sauce known as 老抽 which although dark is not thick in texture. The 'black soy sauce' can be found overseas in most Asian stores, just make sure the ingredients in the soy sauce include caramel and sugar. The thick soy sauce and the sugar together produce an extremely delicious and gorgeous caramelized glaze to the pork.
My mom prefers the 'Yuen Chun' brand for her thick soy sauce supply.
This was simply served with steamed rice, but I think with its' flavours, this pork will go very well with the thin egg pancakes that are usually served with the famed Peking Duck which is another favourite Chinese dish of mine. I love this dish as apart from being tasty, it is extremely easy to prepare plus uses very little ingredients. This is a welcome recipe to my kitchen as although I do like cooking 'elaborate' dishes at times, it is great to be able to produce equally excellent flavours with a much more abbreviated process - thanks Mom!
The Chinese really love their dumplings! It was only while I was wondering what to write about this famous Chinese snack that I discovered dumplings were actually already in existence more than 1,800 years ago. According to folklore, the concept of dumplings were invented or rather introduced by a Chinese doctor by the name of Zhang Zhong Zhing during a particularly harsh winter where plague broke out in a certain part of China. His dumplings were filled with lamb and some medicinal herbs served with a bowl of hot broth.
The Chinese then started eating dumplings to commemorate the kind act of Doctor Zhang during the winter solstice festival and Chinese New Year. In addition, the more affluent families of the past would hide little gold or silver nuggets in their dumplings and whoever who found such in their dumplings would be deemed to have good fortune throughout the year. I believe that sui gow in particular originated from the Northern parts of China - they were usually steamed and served with a simple dipping sauce but my version today is cooked in broth which is probably a Southern (China) adaptation. The fillings for dumplings are usually beef, lamb, chicken or pork added with a mixture of vegetables depending on preferences.
I used pork for my filling and instead of using ground pork I decided to take the traditional route and chopped up a piece of pork - it was rather fun doing so as well and the texture is definitely better than store bought ground pork. Next time I shall attempt to make my own dumpling skins but for today, I still took the easy way out! This is a very easy recipe and you can definitely be creative with the filling. I added some water chestnuts (for added bite), some chopped up shitake mushrooms and bok choy in mine.
Recipe for Chocolate Mudcakes from Donna Hay's book 'Entertaining'
I must have been living under a culinary rock for the longest time - I only very recently found out who Donna Hay was and am I glad I did. This recipe for mudcake is excellent and yields a dense and moist cake plus most importantly, it was rather easy to make - this factor is of utmost importance to a novice like me! My youngest brother, Jon is a huge fan of mud cake and since he will be going to the UK for college soon, I decided to scour around for a mud cake recipe as a little going away gift for him. This cake is such a versatile base and you can make ganache, icing or just sprinkle some cocoa powder or icing sugar for a simple treat. As for me, after looking around at what was available at home, I decided to make a simple banana cream filling for some of the mudcake which went very well with the dense chocolatey base. You can use a 9 inch round pan or just use the batter to fill up whatever baking containers you like. I made a mini loaf, a mini cake and used two small pudding bowls for the remainder of the batter. This batter will work well as cupcakes too, but adjust the baking time accordingly.
For the banana cream filled mini mudcakes, I used an oval cookie cutter to cut some of the cake and just simply filled the middle with the banana cream mixture which only consist of whipped cream, sliced bananas and a sprinkling of icing sugar. I then spooned a tiny dollop of the banana cream on top of the cake, added some almond slices on top and dusted some icing sugar over everything for a prettier effect. I did not mash the bananas too much as I wanted to have some some 'bite' in the filling.
I dusted some icing sugar on top of my mini loaf...
I was a little dismayed with the crack on top of the round cake - next time I should probably use a lower baking temperature.
Now that my youngest brother is heading to the UK, it makes me think of my college days in London which happened such a long time ago. I truly miss Covent Garden, Hyde Park, the British Museum, tea at Fortnum & Mason, the shopping (!) from Oxford Street to Knightsbridge, - I absolutely love the food halls at Harrod's and Harvey Nichols - there are just too many places I miss. I think it's time to plan a trip back to London especially now that I have the perfect excuse, to visit my brother!
Endless possibilities with these little mudcakes!
This is my mom's version of the famed 'King To' spareribs, king to (京都) translates literally to the capital (pronounced in Cantonese) which is why this dish is also known as Peking Spareribs - Peking is the old spelling for Beijing. This dish might sound a little similar to the arguably most well known Chinese dish ever, sweet and sour pork (咕噜肉), however I think King To ribs although also cooked in a sweet sauce is drier sans the usual accompanying vegetables in a sweet and sour pork dish.
The main difference it would seem between the two equally delicious dishes is that the Peking spareribs dish hails from the North while sweet and sour pork is a well known Cantonese, hence Southern dish. Chinese cooking style is invariably often divided loosely between Northern and Southern. As the northerners have a penchant for strong flavours and oilier foods - (vinegar is a huge ingredient not only for flavour but for its ability to preserve), it comes as no surprise to me that Peking spareribs originated in the North, however the Cantonese is usually known for using more delicate flavours as they are focused on preserving the original flavours of the ingredients as much as possible. This sounds logical too as the Cantonese probably had much better access to many fresher ingredients due to Canton (now Guangdong) being one of the busiest ports even a long time ago. I am probably digressing a little here but it is kind of fun to try to find out the origins of dishes that we take for granted most of the time, in my opinion at least - thanks for indulging me! Well, and this is purely my opinion - I think that is why sweet and sour pork has so many accompanying vegetables, the Cantonese love of stir-frys is evident in this famous dish as well!
Well, before I get grilled by some real experts on food history, I had better stick to the recipe - history aside, this is just an extremely delicious way to cook pork with crowd-pleasing flavours. Try to pick ribs with some fat on them for richer flavour and texture. My mom likes to pick the pork which has the 'soft bones' which can be chewed and swallowed - but, if this sounds too weird, just use spareribs with a little bit of skin on if you can. For some reason, our whole family are not fans of star anise hence this spice is never added to dishes cooked at home, but I know there are versions of Peking spareribs that use star anise.
Red bean soup is an extremely popular Chinese dessert soup originating from the Southern parts of China. There are a lot of different interpretations and twists to this popular dessert but today I am featuring my mom's version. The red beans have to be soaked (usually overnight) to ensure a smooth consistency without having to boil for too long. My mom likes to add a handful of glutinous rice into the mix that serves as a natural thickening agent. It is also common to add dried orange peel to this dessert but for some reason I simply do not like the flavour of the orange peel hence the latter is usually skipped.
It is also customary to serve this dessert with Chinese doughnuts or 'yao char kuey' which makes a very satisfying and yummy meal. I love to dunk the Chinese doughnuts or fried crullers into the red bean soup, can you see some parallels with the Western custom of dunking doughnuts into coffee or is it just me?
This time however, I did not get a chance to get the 'yao char kuey' hence I added coconut milk instead for a richer flavour. If I am serving the red bean soup with 'yao char kuey' I usually skip the coconut milk as I find the flavours too muddled since the Chinese doughnuts are quite oily - however this is just my personal preference.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.
I used to be a huge fan of Danish butter cookies, those sold in round, blue tins and I remembered how fun it was when I was a child to open the tin and to eat one cookie of each design although they essentially were the same cookie! I think my favourite was the design that looked like a figure 8 (?) that was frosted with sugar. Unfortunately, the average Danish 'butter' cookies one gets nowadays are a far cry from those found years ago - hence I decided to try to find a good recipe and use real butter for some good old butter cookies. These yummy cookies were also very simple to make and turned out great even for a baking novice like me. I also liked the fact that these cookies were not overly sweet - these are cut cookies by the way which suited me even better as I am not exactly very nifty with the rolling pin not to mention the floury mess that will ensue.
Also, this is the first time I attempted to try out one of Martha Stewart's recipes and I am extremely delighted to say that these butter cookies were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. From what I've been reading, French butter cookies are also known as 'sables' which is French for sand. I actually forgot to add the decorative touch in Martha's recipe by poking 4 holes for the cookies to resemble buttons before baking but they were no less tasty. I shall remember the next time I make these - my mom is extremely picky when it comes to cookies but these got her seal of approval (phew!) so this means that they are really good!
Rolls of buttery goodness! See though, the cookies that are cracked on top - those were part of my first batch, I think I placed them onto a rack which was too high up..oops!
If you are in a rush to get your butter to room temperature, try cutting it up into smaller cubes and leaving it out or heat the butter in the microwave on high at 5 second intervals (I went this route and microwaved the butter 4 times for 5 seconds each).
It's time for some home-made nuggets! These chicken nuggets are extremely versatile and can be served as hors d'oeuvre, part of a main dinner or simply as snacks. I call these nuggets Asian as I used Asian seasoning for the marinade while the ginger and the green onions in the batter completed the Asian flavours. Although I am not a huge fan of fried foods, these nuggets suit me a little better as the batter is lighter in that corn flour and egg whites are used. The finely chopped green onions and minced ginger in the batter provide extra fragrance to every crispy bite too.
I served these with rice, but these also taste great served atop soupy noodles.
See the green onion slices peeking through the batter, I think adding some chopped red chilli peppers or better, bird's eye chilli peppers will work well too..
The best way to prepare fresh and succulent flavoured star garoupa is definitely steaming Chinese style - at least to me! The featured fish today is the prized 'Seven Star' garoupa which is highly sought after for its' firm flesh (not tough!) and delicate flavour, making it the perfect candidate for a simple steamed dish. According to my parents who are rather picky eaters I must say, this variety of star garoupa is superior in texture to another highly sought after fish for Chinese dishes, the 'So Mei'. I am not entirely certain of the English name for the latter, so please let me know if you do. There are many types of garoupa used for Chinese cooking including the tiger garoupa and red garoupa.
Chinese steaming or rather Cantonese steaming involves very little ingredients as the objective is to preserve the fresh taste and natural sweetness of the fish as much as possible. Ginger and scallions are used liberally to mask any fishiness and some steaming hot prepared soy sauce is then spooned onto the cooked fish. The seven star garoupa has red skin where its' skin is speckled all over with dots rather like stars hence its' namesake - this is my guess. According to my dad, one can differentiate the Seven Star garoupa from its' humbler cousins as the former is coloured more intensely and has far more specks.
How can a Malaysian food blog be without a single feature for curry chicken? I asked myself that question which of course led to today's feature. I have to admit though that I am featuring a 'short-cut' recipe as I have yet to try my hand at making my own curry paste which I shall be aspiring to and hopefully achieve very soon. My parents were the ones who 'discovered' this brand of curry paste, A1 (pictured below) which is extremely tasty and yields an excellent curry chicken dish. My mom used to send me these spice packets and they were one of the required items on my list each time I returned home to Malaysia. I have yet to be able to find these overseas after scouring the Asian grocery stores (in California) but hopefully I am wrong for those of you living overseas.
Funnily enough, according to my mom, one should not follow exactly the instructions on the packet. So this feature is my mom's or parents' method of cooking curry chicken out of a packet - we usually add lemongrass, curry leaves, shallots and potatoes. The potatoes are first shallow-fried separately as if you add them together, they will usually turn to mush unless of course that is how you like your curry chicken.
Instead of adding coconut milk, I added a little bit of water as we wanted to have a lighter curry chicken. Another advantage of eschewing coconut milk is that one can definitely keep the leftovers overnight as dishes with coconut milk have a higher chance of spoiling overnight. I have however eaten overnight curry chicken with coconut milk and I was totally fine - perhaps this warning applies more when one is in a hot and humid country like Malaysia?
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Based on a work at www.smokywok.com.