Thursday, May 25, 2017

Stir-Fried Tofu with Black Bean and Chilli

This colourful stir-fry dish tastes as good as it looks (from the photo in the book, that is!). The main flavouring comes from Laoganma black bean sauce, a rich oily black bean relish made from fermented black soy beans, chilli oil and other seasonings. I thought that this sauce is delicious! It is not the same as the regular black bean sauce. It has chilli oil and other seasoning, which makes it really tasty. 

To make this dish, I've used spiced firm tofu, which is sliced to strips. The veggies; celery, red pepper, onion, spring onions are all to be cut to similar size as the tofu. For the Laoganma black bean sauce, I have added an extra tablespoon. Get everything sliced up and all the other ingredients ready before you start with the stir-fry. 

This dish is a delicious way of cooking tofu, a tasty dish with hot fluffy rice, though I could settle down with a pair of chopsticks and enjoy this dish alone!

Laoganma black bean sauce

Stir-Fried Tofu with Black Bean and Chilli
(Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop)
150gm firm tofu (spiced or smoked)
2 garlic cloves
an equivalent amount of ginger
5-10 dried chillies, to taste
1/4 red onion
1/4 red pepper
2/3 celery stick, de-stringed
2 spring onion
3 tbsp cooking oil
3 tbsp Laoganma black bean sauce
1/2 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
1/4 tsp caster sugar
ground white pepper
light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Cut the tofu into 5cm strips, each 1/2-1cm thick. Peel and slice the garlic and ginger. Snip the chillies in half with a pair of scissors and discard their seeds as far as possible. Peel the onion and cut lengthways into strips of a similar thickness to the tofu. Cut the peppers and celery into strips of similar dimensions. Cut the spring onions into 5cm lengths, keeping the green and white parts separate.
Heat the oil in a seasoned wok over a medium flame. Add the black bean sauce, chillies and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry until wonderfully fragrant. Then add the ginger and garlic and sizzle for a few minutes more. Tip in the onion, peppers, celery and spring onion whites, increase the heat to high and stir-fry until hot and fragrant.
Season with the sugar, a good pinch of pepper and light soy sauce to taste. Add the tofu and continue to stir-fry until it is hot and everything smells delicious, adding the spring onion greens towards the end of the cooking time. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #17 hosted by 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pineapple Coconut Cakes

This month, at The Cake Slice Bakers, the four recipes selected from the book World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey, which we are currently baking from are ;

Genoise with Raspberries and Cream
Lime and Poppy Seed Syrup Cake
Pineapple Coconut Cakes with Pineapple Syrup
Sacher Torte

Members can choose any of these cakes to bake, and my choice is Pineapple Coconut Cakes. 

In the recipe, the author has used eight small fluted petit-Brioche pans. I do not have any Brioche pans so I've used two small round pans instead, size 5-1/2". I bought those cute little pans from Ikea a couple of months ago and have not used them before. Now is the good time to put those pans to use.

Some changes I've made with the recipe :

  • reduce the sugar to 1/3 cup (original was 3/4 cup)
  • added 1 tbsp dark rum to the batter
  • adjustment to the baking time ; bake at 170C for 40 minutes
  • omitted the pineapple syrup

This cake was brushed with pineapple syrup, but I have omitted it. I was afraid that it might be too sweet.

A slice or two makes a wonderful tea-time treat.

Overall review : Very nice cake. Moist and buttery with soft crumbs. I was glad that I have reduced the sugar, as with the reduction in sugar, the sweetness was just right for us. Not too sweet but with a touch of sweetness. The only thing that I would change is to add more chopped pineapple to the batter. Lovely cake to snack on with a mug of warm green tea.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Braised Chicken With Chestnut

Chestnuts is one of my favourites, delicious in braised dishes and really good when roasted, eaten as a snack. Here it is used in a braised chicken dish. I have used a claypot to cook this dish. For this dish I have used ready-to-eat vacuum packed chestnuts. You may however use raw chestnuts, refer to the instructions at the bottom of the recipe on how to prepare the raw chestnuts for cooking. 

A homey dish that is perfect with a bowl of rice. Chunks of boneless chicken thigh browned in oil and then braised in a claypot with the chestnuts. Can be cooked in advance and reheat just before serving. 

This dish is great with a green stir-fry, of which I have made Stir-Fried Romaine Lettuce, recipe which can be found in the same book. This veggie stir-fry is very similar to how we cook our stir-fry veggies. I have however, added some chopped garlic, just because we have always used chopped garlic for stir-fry veggies.  

These two dishes with a bowl of soup makes such a lovely meal with a bowl of hot fluffy white rice.

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts
(Every Grain Of Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop)
4 boneless chicken thighs (about 350gm)
20gm ginger, unpeeled
2 spring onions, white and green parts separated
3 tbsp cooking oil
1-1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
300ml chicken stock or water
1 tbsp brown or caster sugar
1-1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
200gm cooked, peeled chestnuts (canned or vacuum-packed)

Cut the chicken evenly into bite-sized chunks. Crush the ginger and spring onion whites slightly with the side of a cleaver blade or a rolling pin. Cut the spring onion greens into neat 4cm lengths.
Heat the oil in a seasoned wok over a high flame. When it is hot, add the ginger and spring onion whites and stir-fry until you can smell their fragrance. Then add the chicken pieces and fry over high heat until they are lightly browned: don't move them around too much, but let the, rest against the base of the wok so they have the chance to take on a little colour. Drain off some of the excess fat at this stage if you wish. Splash in the Shaoxing wine and stir well. Then tip in all the stock.
Bring the stock to a boil and add the sugar, sou sauce and chestnuts, with salt to taste (3/4 tsp should do). Then reduce the ehat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the chicken to cook through and the chestnuts to absorb some of the flavours of the sauce, stirring from time to time.
Increase the heat to reduce the liquid if you wish and adjust the seasoning if necessary. At the last minute, add the spring onion greens, cover for just a moment to let them feel the heat, then serve.

To cook and peel your own chestnuts :
Slice off the bases of the raw chestnuts and blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain. When cool enough to handle, remove their shells and inner skins as far as possible.

Stir-Fried Cos Lettuce
(Every Grain Of Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop)
1 heart of romaine or cos lettuce (about 250gm)
3 tbsp cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (my addition)

Cut the lettuce heart across its width at 2.5cm intervals. Wash the cut leaves, then shake dry or (even better) spin in a salad spinner.
Pour the oil into a hot, seasoned wok over a high flame and swirl it around. (Saute the chopped garlic until aromatic and light brown, if using). Add the lettuce and stir-fry until hot and fragrant, but still very crisp, seasoning with salt to taste towards the end. Serve

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #17 hosted by 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wholemeal Drop Scones

This week' s at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), we are celebrating all Bready Things! I've made Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls, (our current featured chef at IHCC), Wholemeal Drop Scones.

These are super easy to make. The drop scones are tender, moist and very tasty. Great with a dollop of salted butter and some honey.

We had the drop scones with some sliced bananas which I've cooked for a few minutes until the bananas are softened, with some butter and honey, with a handful of dried cranberries. Yummy!

Wholemeal Drop Scones
(River Cottage Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
Makes 20-30
250gm self-raising wholemeal flour (or plain fine wholemeal flour mix with 2 tsp baking powder)
a pinch of baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
25gm caster sugar
2 medium eggs
about 275ml milk
50gm butter, melted
a little sunflower oil

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and break in the eggs. Pour in about half of the milk. Whisk, gently at first, and then as you start to get a thick paste, add more milk and the melted butter. Beat until you get a creamy batter a little thicker than double cream - you might not need all the milk.
Put a large, heavy-based frying pan or a flat griddle over a medium-high heat. Add a few drops of oil and rub with a thick wad of kitchen paper to oil the pan very lightly. Pour (or drop) a scant tablespoon of batter into the pan - to get a disc about the size of a digestive biscuit; you should be able to fit 4 or 5 in the pan.
After about a minute, little bubbles will start to appear on the surface of the drop scones. As soon as they cover the surface, flip the scones over with a spatula - be warned, the first batch may stick. Cook the other side for 40-60 seconds or so, then transfer the drop scones to a warm plate and cover them with a clean tea towel so that they stay soft - or hand them over to those waiting eagerly to get stuck in.
Cook the remaining drop scones in the same way, adjusting the heat level if they start browning too quickly and re-oiling the pan with kitchen paper as necessary.
To serve, top with a little butter and sprinkle with some sugar, and a fine dusting of cinnamon, if you like. Or serve buttered and spread with jam, honey or macerated fruit. Eat quickly, while still hot.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week,
Monthly Featured Dish : Bready Things!

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #17 hosted by 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Rice

I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC),  is cooking from a new selected chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall starting this month, until September. I love watching his shows on TV, River-Cottage, his life on his farm with fresh veggies, herbs and fruits, organic-raised chickens, fresh milk and meat from the cows he raised, and other wonderful fresh produce around his farm like wild mushrooms! All the food and breads he made in his kitchen always look so, so, good! So I am looking forward to cook with Hugh along with my other friends at IHCC. Anyone is welcome to join us, just hop along to IHCC for more details.

To welcome Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall into our kitchen, we can cook any of his recipes. There are many which I am so tempted to make, but I'll start with a one pot meal, Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Rice. I love one pot meal, especially when it has rice it it! 

The chicken parts are cooked three times. Firstly, they are to be browned in a skillet, then roast for 20 minutes, then roast again, this time together with the rice until both the chicken and the rice are cooked. This may sound like a lot of work, but really there isn't much work at all. Recipe states that 125gm of arborio rice to serve 6, which I thought was way too little rice! It is slightly more than half a cup, how could this amount feed 6 people? I increased the rice to about 450gm to feed 4, since this is a meal all on its own.

The rest of the ingredients I pretty much followed the same amount except that I did not use the white wine. I do have a bottle of white wine, but I was struggling to open the bottle! After almost ten minutes, and getting impatient by then, I put that bottle aside and replace with chicken stock instead. Increase the stock accordingly if more arborio rice is used. The recipe says to prebaked the chicken first, while the rice stir-fried with the other ingredients as per the recipe instructions. The rice is then tipped into the chicken dish, taking care that not a grain of rice is left on the chicken, as it might not be fully cooked. I have however reversed the other way round. I stir-fry the rice briefly in a oven-safe saucepot, add the stock, let it come to a boil, then place the pre-roasted chicken on the rice, scatter the olive and baked uncovered until both the chicken and the rice are cooked, about 30 minutes. Remove pot from the oven, put the lid on and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Delicious one pot meal. Love the tender, juicy chicken and the tasty delicious rice. I scattered chopped fresh coriander leaves as I did not have any thyme. Works deliciously with the coriander. I chopped a generous amount of chopped fresh coriander, place the bowl at the table so that everyone can help themselves how much they want, cos in my house, we love fresh coriander, perfect garnish with rice meals like this! 

Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Rice
(source from
Serves 6
1 tbsp olive oil
1 chicken, jointed into 6 pieces (or 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken portions)
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
125gm risotto rice, such as arborio (I use about  450gm)
150ml dry white rice (omitted)
1 tbsp tomato puree
400gm tinned tomatoes, crushed
500ml chicken stock (add more stock if more rice is used)
about 150gm black or green olives (optional)
a litte fresh thyme, to finish

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Put a large frying pan on a medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the chicken pieces well, and in two batches, brown in the hot pan. Transfer to a large oven dish, skin side up, and when all the chicken is browned, roast it for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, turn the heat right down under the frying pan. If need be, pour off any excess fat (you want only one to two tablespoons of fat left in the pan). Add the onions and sweat gently for 10 minutes, until soft, then add the garlic and oregano, and cook for a few minutes more.
Stir in the rice for a minute or two, then add the wine and increase the heat so it is bubbling. Simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring, until  the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the tomato puree, then add the tinned tomatoes and stock, and bring back to a boil. Season to taste.
All this should fill the chicken's initial 20 minutes' cooking. Tip the rice mix into the chicken dish, making sure no grains are left on top of the meat, where they won't cook. Scatter in the olives, if using, and roast for 30 minutes longer, by which time the rice should be swollen and tender. Leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, check the seasoning, scatter with thyme and serve.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
Welcome Hugh!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Green Beans with Snail Butter

It's Cook the Book Fridays, and this week's selected recipe from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz is Green Beans With Snail Butter (Haricots Verts Au Beurre D'Escargot). As David says in the book, "Don't worry, there are no snails in beurre d'escargot,  the name refers to butter mixed with a copious amount of garlic that is used for baking snails."

This is an easy dish with simple ingredients, yet so delicious. 

The green beans I bought were young, tender and very sweet. I removed the pointed ends of the beans, as we always eat them that way. David has left the green beans whole but I have snapped them in two, easier to eat that way! 

One thing I did not follow was to steam the green beans. Instead of steaming, I microwaved them with some sprinkling of water for 3 minutes on high. To cook the green beans, melt butter in a large skillet, add the garlic and cook until they begin to brown, stir in the parsley (I've used fresh coriander leaves), salt and black pepper. Add the green beans and stir until the beans are completely cooked and coated with the garlicky butter. 

One thing I have forgotten to add is the lemon juice! Only noticed the lemon sitting on my kitchen counter when I was clearing up after dinner! Oops... but even without the lemon juice, this dish is still delicious!

All my favourite ingredients in this stir-fry dish ; sweet green beans, garlic, coriander leaves. I could finish a plate all on its own, no kidding!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rustic Cabbage Soup

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), we are saying goodbye to Heidi Swanson. We have cooked from her recipes for the  past six months, and it is time we move on to another chosen chef. I have not been cooking with Heidi's recipes as much as I wanted to, but I can always cook with her on our Potluck weeks. To say "Bon Voyage Heidi!", I've made her Rustic Cabbage Soup.

This soup is very easy to cook and do not take much time at all. Shredded cabbage, potatoes, white beans, onions and garlic are the ingredients used for this soup. For the stock, I've used Rapunzel vegetable stock bouillon. I've used canned butter beans. Heidi serves the soup with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese as the topping, of which I've omitted, preferring to eat it just as it is.

I made this soup for lunch, and it was a satisfying and lovely lunch. It is not often I had soup for lunch, and I would not mind making this again. 

Rustic Cabbage Soup
(source from
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
a big pinch of salt
1/2 pound potatoes, skin on, cut 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cups stock
1-1/2 cup white beans, precooked or canned (drained)
1/2 medium cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons

more good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Warm the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes - it's o.k to uncover to stir a couple times. Stir in the garlic and onions and cook for another minute or two. Add the stock and the beans and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a couple more minutes, until the cabbage softens up a bit. Now adjust the seasoning - getting the seasoning right is important or your soup will taste flat and uninteresting. Taste and add more salt if needed, the amount of salt you will need to add will depend on how salty your stock is.
Serve drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a generous dusting of cheese.


Out of the nine Heidi recipes which I've made, the most favourite has got to be this Kale Rice Bowl.

I love everything in this bowl!

To see what the other lovely ladies have made  to say Bon Voyage Heidi! please stop by IHCC. Starting from April, our new featured chef will be Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. You are welcome to join us! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


It is Tuesdays With Dorie week for Baking Chez Moi. Two recipes selected for this month, Black-and-White Marbled Madeleines which I have baked and posted here, and for this week it is Pithiviers. I have never made Pithiviers before, and Dorie's version is yummy!

Pithiviers, with puff pastry as the base and the top, sandwiched with the filling of frangipane and a layer of homemade prune jam spread on top of the frangipane. Very easy to make, especially when there's ready-made store-bought puff pastry stashed in the freezer!

My pithiviers is slightly smaller than the recipe states, as the frozen puff pastry I bought comes in 8" squares. Did not roll the pastry as they are already about 1/8 inch thick. You would need two sheets of puff pastry. I made the almond filling and prune jam the day before, keep refrigerated while the frozen puff pastry is left to thaw overnight in the fridge. I opted to use the dark rum over the vanilla extract for the prune jam. Both the almond filling and the prune jam are easy to make and takes only minutes.

Simply assemble the Pithiviers the next day. Place the smaller round of the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the almond filling in the centre, and spread the prune jam over it. Brush the pastry with egg wash all around the filling, then top with the bigger piece of pastry. Press the edges together and seal. Brush the top with egg wash, then place in the fridge for at least 30 minute. Meanwhile preheat the oven at 450F. Remove the pithivier from the fridge, brush with egg wash once again, make some slits on top, and sprinkle with some sugar, of which I've used demerara sugar. Place in the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 375F. Bake until golden and puffy.

I did not seal the pastry well enough, and the almond filling leaked out, which is not a waste, as it bakes up around the pithiver, crispy and delicious! 

This Pithiviers are quite yummy. The prune jam and the almond filling are really good together. And I like it that it is not too sweet, with the crispy buttery pastry, makes it a delight to eat with a cup of warm tea.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quick-Pickled Carrots

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). I've made Nigella Lawson's Quick-Pickled Carrots, recipe from her latest cookbook Simply Nigella. 

This is a really quick pickle to make, as it's name implies. The only "extra" work is to cut the carrots into matchsticks. Nigella's very own words "if I can summon the patience to cut carrots into julienne strips, then anyone can". 

The recipe states to use two large carrots equivalent to about 8 ounces total. I grabbed a pack of two large carrots from the organic store and each carrot already weigh 8 ounces each! So I use only one carrot, since the only pickle lover in my house is me! 

Slice the carrot into julienned strips, then place in a bowl. The pickling brine is made by boiling together apple cider vinegar, water, honey, salt, bay leaves, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and lightly crushed cardamom pods. Once the brine has come to a boil, pour it over the carrots, then leave for one hour or so to reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.

There is no sugar used at all, but honey is used instead. I added an extra tablespoon of honey as the pickle is quite sour. The carrots are crunchy, a little sour and salty. This would be a lovely accompaniment for roasted meat, I was thinking of Chinese roasted pork! This is a sour pickle, you can add more honey to taste, if you prefer a sweeter pickle.

Quick-Pickled Carrots
(adapted from "Simply Nigella", by Nigella Lawson)
makes approx 2 cups
2 large carrots (approx 8 ounces total), peeled
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes or kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 cardamom pods
1 x 2-cup preserving jar or any resealable jar with vinegar-proof lid

Peel the carrots and cut them into matchsticks, and put them into a non-metallic bowl or large measuring cup while you get on with the pickling liquid.
Put the vinegar, water, honey, salt, bay leaves, mustard, and fennel seeds into a saucepan. Crush or crack the cardamom pods and put them in, too. Bring to a boil, then take the pan off the heat, and stir to make sure that the salt is dissolved. Pour this liquid over the carrots and leave for about 1 hour to reach room temperature, then stash in the refrigerator for about 1 hour before eating.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs, theme for this week
March IHCC Potluck


I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cheese Swirl Bread

A lovely soft white bread, swirled with Cheddar cheese. This fabulous bread comes from George Greenstein's book, Secrets Of A Jewish Baker. In the recipe, the cheese is mixed into the dough, but the author had also included the swirled version. Instead of mixing the cheese into the dough, the dough is rolled out, then scatter with the Cheddar cheese, and roll up, jelly-roll style. So that was what I made, his cheese swirl version.

Straightforward and easy bread to make. There's three methods given to make this bread ; by hand, using the food processor and the stand mixer. I opted for the stand mixer method. The recipe given for mixing in the stand mixer makes 3 loaves. I have scaled down to make only one loaf with further reduction of the salt. In the recipe, to make 3 loaves, a full tablespoon of salt is required, so to make one loaf, that would be 1/3 tablespoon which equals to 1 teaspoon, which I think would be too salty for such  a small loaf. So I have used only scant half teaspoon, which turns out perfect. 

This bread has lovely golden crust with soft crumbs. Makes a delicious sandwich bread, which we had with ham, eggs on a bed of lettuce green as the sandwich filling, spread with some of our favourite sauce ; mustard, cheesy mayo and chilli sauce. This is one fabulous bread!

Recipe has been scaled down to make only 1 loaf, with my changes listed in blue.
Cheese Swirl Bread
(adapted from Secrets Of A Jewish Baker, by George Greenstein)
makes 1 loaf (8-1/2" x 4-1/2" loaf pan)
Sponge :
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (I use 2 teaspoons instant yeast)
1-1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I use bread flour)

Dough :
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or shortening (I use salted butter)
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup skim milk powder
1-1/2 to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use bread flour)
1/3 tablespoon salt (I use scant half teaspoon)
vegetable oil or melted butter for brushing loaves
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping (omitted)

Sponge : In the mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and allow to soften. Add the flour and mix at first speed until smooth. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size (30 to 45 minutes). (Use the beater hook)

Dough : Stir down the sponge with one or two rotations of the beater, then add the sugar, butter, milk powder, 1-1/2 cups of the flour, and the salt. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Run the machine at first speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too soft, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time.
Remove and scrape down the beater and insert the dough hook. Run at first speed until the dough forms up on the hook and comes away from the sides of the bowl (8 to 10 minutes). You can use second speed for the last few minutes to strengthen the gluten.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and allow to rise until puffy (15 to 20 minutes). (at this point, I allow the dough to rise until doubled in size)

Shaping : Flatten the dough, sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese, and form up jelly-roll style. Place into a 8 or 9-inch loaf pan, seam down. Cover with a flour-dusted cloth (I use oiled cling wrap) and proof in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, or the loaves rise 1 inch above the tops of the pans (45 to 60 minutes). Brush the tops with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese (if using). Punch 3 holes in the top of each loaf with an ice pick or a skewer. 

Baking : Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake with steam* until the bread is golden brown and emits a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom with your fingertips (25 to 35 minutes).

*Bake with steam : Place an empty roasting pan or other heavy pan on the floor of the oven 5 to 10 minutes before baking, so it gets hot. When ready to bake, place the bread in the oven and carefully toss 6 to 8 ice cubes into the hot pan, and immediately close the oven door.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Banana Loaf

This month, at The Cake Slice Bakers, the four recipes selected from the book World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey, which we are currently baking from are ;

Thierry Busset's Ten Layer Coffee Chocolate Cake
Greek Coconut Cake
Banana Loaf
Mandarin, Polenta, and Macadamia Cake

Members can choose any of those cakes to bake, and my choice is Banana Loaf.

I did make a few changes to the recipe. The changes are :
  1. I used 2 medium ripe bananas for the batter, and one more for the topping. Recipe indicated two bananas, one each, for the batter and topping.
  2. I reduced the sugar to half cup, original recipe uses 1 cup. By reducing the sugar, the sweetness was just right, without being overly sweet.
  3. I've used only 1/3 cup of ground hazelnuts instead of 2/3 cup, replacing the other 1/3 cup with all-purpose flour (an addition to the 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour indicated in the recipe).
  4. Instead of sour cream, I've used yoghurt.
  5. I've added 2 tablespoons of rum to the batter.
Recipe indicated to use a small baking tin, size 7in x 3-1/4in x 3-1/4in, lined with parchment paper. However, when the batter was ready, it was just too much and from the looks of it, could not fit into the small pan. I then used a 8-1/2in x 4-1/2in loaf pan, and filled it with the batter. Even with this bigger sized pan, the batter fills up almost to the top level of the pan. I was keeping my fingers crossed that the batter would not spill over during baking! 

I baked the loaf at 350F for 57 minutes (the books says to bake at 325F for 45 to 50 minutes). It smells wonderful during baking, with the lovely aroma of the bananas and the rum. What a relief that the batter did not spill over. It rises a little, then it stopped rising, and continue on to bake to a lovely golden colour.

A delicious banana loaf. Moist, soft tender crumbs, not as dense as some banana loaves are, and the sweetness was just right. I am so glad to have reduced the sugar.

A slice (or two!) is wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee. We like this Banana Loaf and I will be making this again when I have some extra bananas.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Caramel Pork Ribs

Cook the Book Fridays recipe pick for this week is Caramel Pork Ribs. CtBF is an online group of lovely bloggers who are currently cooking from David Lebovitz's cookbook, My Paris Kitchen.

To make this dish, the caramel must be prepared first. There's beer and bourbon in the caramel sauce, which already sounds so delicious! Granulated sugar is cooked in a large pot (one that can be used in the oven, with a cover) to a caramel, colour similar to dark maple syrup, and it will be smoking, but take care not to burnt it. My caramel turns out great. It was smoking, with the colour of dark maple syrup. I removed the pot from the heat, then add the brown sugar and beer. Mixture will sizzle, then harden. 

Let the mixture cool down a bit, then add the rest of the ingredients; bourbon, cider vinegar, ketchup, ginger, soy sauce, harissa, Dijon mustard, pepper and the ribs. Return the pot to the stove and let come to a boil, turning the ribs now and then to coat with the sauce. Cover and place in the oven to bake for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. I baked the ribs for 1 hour 45 minutes, turning the ribs every half hour, then remove the cover and continue to bake for another 40 minutes, turning halfway.

The caramel sauce has thickened a bit, with the ribs coated gloriously with the sauce. The ribs are tender and soft, and have soaked up the flavours of the sauce. I thought that this dish is delicious, but it is a little too sweet for me. The next time I would probably either omit the brown sugar or go easy on it.

I served this Caramel Pork Ribs with rice and a green bean dish. The son loves it. There was some leftover, which reheated well the next day, and was finished off by the two men in my house.

The recipe can be found here, or from My Paris Kitchen, on page 187.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Black-And-White Marbled Madeleines

It's Tuesdays With Dorie week, the two bakes for this month are Pithiviers and Black-And-White Marbled Madeleines. I've chosen to make the madeleines for this week. 

Easy to make and delightful to eat. Before making the batter, chill the greased madeleine moulds in the fridge until needed. Once the batter is made, spoon into the cooled madeleines moulds, then keep refrigerated for at least an hour before baking. Some minor changes I've made was to use orange zest instead of lime zest, and I've reduced the sugar to only 1/4 cup (since the yield is only for 12 madeleines).  The chocolate batter is very thick and did not budge much when I made the marble swirl with a small knife. I made ten madeleines with swirls and left the other five un-swirled as what Dorie says, "they'll bake with a dark bull's eye".

I baked the madeleines for 13 minutes, though I think they could have done baking at 11 minutes or so, as mine has some cracks at the top, maybe I over baked them a little, even at 13 minutes. And instead of 12, I got 15 madeleines. They pop out of the moulds very easily. 

According to Dorie, "with the chocolate grounding them a bit, the madeleines don't develop the hefty bump that their plainer relatives do", but mine has high bumps!

These madeleines are kinda addictive when eaten while still warm, minutes right after baking, with a cup of warm tea. I love the light crisp crust all around and spongy crumbs inside, with bites of the two different flavours, vanilla and chocolate. Makes a lovely yummy tea time treat! 

Stop by Tuesdays With Dorie to see what the other bakers bake for this week.

I'm sharing this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Stir-Fried Chopped Choy Sum

Choy Sum is one of my most favourite vegetable. It is great with noodles, in soups, and stir-fry as a dish in itself. This recipe is quite different in the way it is prepared. The choy sum is first blanced briefly in hot boiling water, refresh in cold water, then squeeze dry as much as possible. Chop them up finely and they are ready to be stir-fry.

Even the stir-fry method is a little different. The chopped choy sum are heated up in a dry wok, stir to release any water, add chopped chillies and a pinch of salt, and stir till the wok is no longer moist. The choy sum is then removed to a plate while the wok is heated up once more. Add some oil to the heated wok, saute the chopped ginger and garlic till fragrant. Stir in the choy sum, season to taste with some salt, stir till everything is hot and smells nice. Stir in the sesame oil, dish out and serve.

This method is very different from my regular way of cooking choy sum, which I stir-fry without any blanching or sauteeing the veggie to release it's moisture. I was afraid that the veggie would be overcooked with those extra steps above, but I find that the choy sum cooked this way is quite delicious. Great as part of a meal with rice, with some other main dish.

Stir-Fried Chopped Choy Sum
(adapted from Every Grain Of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop)
1-1/2 tbsp cooking oil, plus more for blanching and for seasoning the wok
375gm choy sum
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh red chilli
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsp chilli oil (optional)

Bring a large panful of water to a boil. Add some salt, and a small dash of cooking oil. Add the choy sum and blanch for about 30 seconds to wilt the leaves. Refresh immediately under the cold tap and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop the choy sum finely and evenly.
Heat a dry wok over a high flame. Add the chopped choy sum and stir it to release any excess water as steam. As the choy sum loses its water, add the chilli and a good pinch of salt. Continue to stir until the surface of the wok is no longer moist and the steam is rising more slowly, then remove the choy sum from the wok and set aside.
Use a thick wad of kitchen paper to rub the surface of the wok with cooking oil and heat over a high flame to re-season. Then pour in the 1-1/2 tbsp cooking oil, swirl it around, then add the ginger and garlic, and stir-fry briefly until you can smell their fragrance.
Add the choy sum and stir-fry to incorporate, seasoning with salt to taste. When everything is hot and smells wonderful, remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and the chilli oil, if using, and serve.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Black Bean Chicken

A simple, quick and easy chicken stir-fry with delicious flavours. Recipe is from the fabulous book, Every Grain Of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop. According to the author, this dish is from the Hunanese firework-producing city of Liuyang. While in the original recipe, the chicken is deep-fried, here, the author has simply stir-fry the chicken pieces to keep its succulent mouthfeel. The seasonings remain the same as the original recipe.

I have cooked this dish twice, the first time, I've used chicken thigh with a combination of chicken breast meat. The photo above is cooked with all chicken breast meat. The author mentioned that fermented black beans are among the most distinctive Hunanese seasonings, especially when used in combination with chillies. In this recipe, there's a teaspoon or two of ground chilli used, do not skip that, as it really brings out the flavour of this dish. The next time instead of using only ground chilli, I would mix some coarse chilli flakes as well. Served with some stir-fry veggie and a soup, with fluffy white rice, makes such a satisfying meal.

Black Bean Chicken
(Every Grain Of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop)
2 boneless chicken thighs (225gm)
1 smallish green pepper, or 1/2 each red and green pepper
3 tbsp cooking oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
an equivalent amount of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 tsp ground chillies, to taste
2 tbsp finely sliced spring onion greens
1 tsp sesame oil

For the marinade :
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp potato flour
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce

Cut the chicken into 1-2cm cubes and put into a bowl. Stir together the marinade ingredients, add to the chicken and mix well.
Cut the pepper(s) into small squares to match the chicken. Heat a wok over a high flame, add 1 tbsp of the oil, then the peppers and stir-fry until hot and slightly cooked, but still crisp. Remove and set aside.
Reheat the wok over a high flame. Add the remainder of the oil, swirl it around, then tip in the marinated chicken and stir-fry to separate the pieces. When they have separated and are starting to become pale, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until they smell delicious. Add the black beans and stir a few times until you can smell them. Then add the ground chillies and return the pepper to the wok. Continue to stir-fry until the chicken is just cooked through and everything is sizzlingly delicious, seasoning with salt to taste. Then stir in the spring onions and, off the heat, the sesame oil. Serve.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spaghettini With Egg & Toasted Parsley Breadcrumbs

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), it's March Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge : Pasta. I've made one of Tessa Kiros's pasta recipe, from the book Tessa Kiros : The Recipe Collection. Spaghettini With Egg & Toasted Parsley Breadcrumbs recipe can also be found in her book Apples For Jam.

This is a simple and quick pasta meal to prepare. I made this for a weekday lunch and it is a very filling meal. For the breadcrumbs, I've used dried breadcrumbs instead of soft white bread. And have used cilantro leaves instead of parsley. Makes a nice lunch, and my son likes it.

Spaghettini With Egg & Toasted Parsley Breadcrumbs
(Tessa Kiros - The Recipe Collection, & from Apples For Jam)
Serves 4
4 eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
300gm (10-1/2 oz) spaghettini
60gm (2-1/4 oz) soft white bread, broken up into coarse crumbs
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the eggs and boil for 4 minutes. Fish out the eggs with a slotted spoon, run under cold water and peel off the shells. Put the eggs in a large serving bowl and mash up into small bits with a fork. Add a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil and a little salt. (At the end of 4 minutes, the egg yolks are still runny, so I boil a couple of eggs more a little longer, about 7 minutes).

Add the spaghettini to the boiling water and cook, following the packet instructions. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan, then add the breadcrumbs, anchovies and garlic and saute over medium heat until the breadcrumbs are golden and crisp. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and lemon zest.

Drain the spaghettini, keeping some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the egg with a few spoonfuls of the cooking water. Toss through very well and serve immediately. Drizzle each serving with some olive oil and scatter parsley breadcrumbs over the top. Pass around the Parmesan, and some black pepper for those who like it.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
March Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge : Pasta


I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chocolate Loaf

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). For this week, I've made Tessa Kiros's Chocolate Loaf. This is not a cake, but a chocolate yeasted bread, a recipe from her cookbook, Apples For Jam, of which I did not have the pleasure of owning it yet! This recipe however can be found in another book of Tessa's, "Tessa Kiros - The Recipe Collection", which I bought almost a year ago. This book is a collection of selected recipes from five of her best-selling cookbooks ; Falling Cloudberries, Apples For Jam, Piri Piri Starfish, Venezia and Food From Many Greek Kitchens.

A basic straight forward bread to make. I use the stand mixer to knead the dough. I have used instant yeast to replace fresh yeast, using half the weight of fresh yeast. And since it is instant yeast, I whisk the yeast into the warm milk to dissolve and proceed with the recipe, without having to wait for the yeast to foam, if fresh yeast or active yeast is used. This bread is baked in a 12 x 4-1/2 inch loaf tin. I've used my pullman loaf pan of that size, and the baked bread turns out not really high. To get a taller loaf, I would use a smaller pan the next time.

The loaf turns out wonderful with moist and soft crumbs. Surprisingly, this bread has that bitterness of the cocoa powder, but in a very nice "cocoa-y" taste. You would want to eat slices of these bread , either plain or toasted, with some sweet jam. I had mine, spread with one of my favourite jam, Lemon and Lime Marmalade from Marks & Spencer. Makes a lovely breakfast with a morning cuppa.

Chocolate Loaf
(adapted from Tessa Kiros - The Recipe Collection)
Makes 1 loaf
15gm (1/2 oz) fresh yeast (I use 7gm instant yeast)
40gm (1-1/2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
310ml (10-3/4 fl oz/1-1/4 cups) milk
400gm (14 oz) bread (strong) flour or plain (all purpose) flour
40gm (1-1/2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
40gm (1-1/2 oz) butter, melted

Crumble the yeast into a large bowl and add the sugar. Gently heat the milk in a small saucepan until it feels just a bit hotter than your finger, then add it to the yeast. Stir through and leave for 10 minutes or so, until the surface starts to turn spongy. (I added the instant yeast to the milk, stir to dissolve and proceed to add the rest of the ingredients). Add the flour, cocoa powder, butter and a pinch of salt and mix it well. Knead with your hands for about 6 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic with no lumps. (I use the stand mixer with the dough hook to knead the dough for about 10 minutes). If your dough is very soft, leave it in the bowl and just punch it around and squeeze it with one hand, holding the bowl with the other. Cover the bowl with a heavy tea towel and leave it in a warm and draught-free place for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until it has puffed right up. Butter and flour a 30x11 cm (12x4-1/2 inch) loaf (bar) tin.

Knock the dough down to flatten it and shape it to the size of the tin. Drop it in, cover the tin with the tea towel and leave it again in a warm place for anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour, until the dough has puffed up over the rim of the tin. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4).

Remove the tea towel and bake the loaf for about 25 minutes, or until the top is firm and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Tip out onto a rack to cool. Once it has cooled down completely, this loaf can be frozen (even just a chunk of it) in a plastic bag and saved for another moment in time.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
February 2017 Potluck


I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #14 hosted by 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets

These Parmesan Chicken Nuggets are a much healthier version, since they are baked and not fried. Super easy to make, and delicious to eat. A green salad on the side, with your favourite dipping sauce for the nuggets, would make a wonderful after school meal or to enjoy with the family during the weekends. 

Chicken breast fillet, cubed and dipped into beaten egg, then rolled in the mixture of breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, dried oregano, salt and pepper.  Tip : I pan-fried one coated piece to check on the seasoning, adjust the seasoning if necessary. Arrange on well-oiled baking tray, (I have omitted the use of foil), and bake, turning halfway through, until cooked, about 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, the nuggets are cooked but still pale, so I have turn on the broiler to brown the crumbs for a couple of minutes on both sides. 

For the dipping sauce, I have used mayonnaise, mixed with some sriracha sauce, stir to combine.

These chicken nuggets are moist and very tasty. Delicious with the dipping sauce. We had this with some green salad on the side. 

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets
(Williams-Sonoma : Chicken Nights by Kate McMillan)
1-1/2 cups (6oz/185gm) panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup (1 oz/30gm) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano (I use 1 heaped tablespoon)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, about 2 lb (1kg) total, cut into 1-1/2-inch (4-cm) chunks

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, line with aluminium foil, and coat again.
On a large plate, whisk together the panko, Parmesan, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Beat the eggs in a large, shallow bowl.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken piece in the eggs, then dredge in the seasoned bread crumbs. Place the nuggets on the prepared pan as you work. Bake the nuggets, turning once about halfway through, until the coating is nicely browned and the chicken is opaque throughout, 15-20 minutes.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #14 hosted by 


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