Friday, May 8, 2020

Hong Bak

Hello everyone. It's May 2020. We will remember this time because the whole world is going through something which I may say, is unprecedented. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Most of us are staying at home and many have taken up cooking and baking, and are becoming home chefs.

Today, I'm sharing a traditional Nyonya recipe which is a little less known. It is probably because the most important ingredient, cekur, is quite hard to find. I'm only cooking this now because the cekur we planted has finally grown enough for me to harvest its roots.

I looked up the English name for this spice, and it's called "lesser galangal" or "sand ginger". The scientific name is Kaempferia galanga. I suppose you can find this root in some of the markets but I personally have not seen it sold anywhere.

The cekur, or "cekoq" as most Penangites call it, gives a distinctive fragrance and flavor to this rather unusual dish. I remember this dish as my mom made it. She also cooked it with duck (Hong Ak) which works very well, or even better than pork.

Another important ingredient is the coriander seeds. You can use coriander powder but it's best to toast whole coriander seeds and then grind them. Your nose can very clearly notice the difference.

Below is the recipe.

I can't remember where the recipe came from but I know I copied it long ago from one of my mom's collections. After more than 10 years I finally got around cooking it myself. I look forward to recreating this dish many more times. I hope you will enjoy this recipe.

I wish everyone good health and may we overcome this pandemic soon. Blessings to all!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Gingerbread Beer

It's that time of the year, the end of it. Next comes 2020, the year that as teenagers we thought would be a million years away. Well it's finally coming and I don't think I'm ready for it. but looking back at the year, so much has happened and I am grateful, although I'm still not ready for another year, a new decade.

You've probably heard that out of every bad situation something good comes out of it. Well, it clearly happened to me this year. It was during a gloomy situation(s) in my life that I learned to make my own sourdough starter. It happened because of the negative situation, not just in spite of it.

It was the lowest point that gave birth to my new hobby of sourdough bread making. And it was from my reading and research about sourdough that I came to know about ginger bug. I started making my own ginger bug and producing lovely fizzy probiotics drinks that the whole family enjoy.

I won't post much about making a ginger bug. It's basically just adding shredded ginger and sugar to distilled water, feeding it everyday and waiting for it to produce bubbles. It took me about 8 days before I see good signs of fermentation. It's been alive and well until today. And hopefully I can keep it alive for a long while more.

Before this, through my kitchen experiments, I found that brewing some spices with Rooibos tea produces this drink that somewhat has the hints of root beer flavours. So when I when had this ginger bug going I knew I had to try adding it to this drink.     

To me, it's a little bit like root beer. But I can't call it root beer cause it doesn't have sarsaparilla or any of the required "roots". My little girl calls it "ginger cola". I was thinking since it's almost Christmas and it has the ingredients of gingerbread, let's call it Gingerbread Beer. (By the way, I also have been baking so many gingerbread men and houses that I'm beginning to smell like it.)

Below, you can see the ingredients I used. It's pretty simple. Orange (peel only), Rooibos tea, star anise, cinnamon, and ginger. I also used blackstrap molasses for colour and flavour but I believe black treacle would work just as well.

The thing that still perplexes me is that sometimes it's foamy, sometimes it's not. At the time when I took this shot, unfortunately the drink wasn't foamy. But I didn't have time to make another batch so I just went ahead and shot it. Besides, it was still super fizzy.

So here's wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year! And if you're as unexcited as I am about going through another year, maybe you should try this drink and chill back a little. Tell yourself it's gonna be okay....

If you dare to try, here's the recipe for the Gingerbread Beer. Cheers!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Butterbeer Ice Cream

Yes! I'm finally back to my blog, the poor abandoned thing. But not forgotten though. I had so many ideas swimming in my head but never had to time to put them to work.

As usual, my posts are rather short and straight to the point, as compared to most other (proper) food blogs anyway. This post is inspired by a few subjects. First of all, this is for Harry Potter fans. Non-Potterheads would probably not know what a Butterbeer is anyway. Secondly, we actually visited the amazing Harry Potter studio when we were in London last year. We had the Buttterbeer and Butterbeer ice cream. It was magical.

Earlier this year, we even made magic wands from chopsticks and a large twig, one for each member of the family. We were so impressed with the outcome of this project. Take a look.

This year, for my 9 year old's birthday party theme, we decided on Magic and Witchcraft. It wasn't quite a Harry Potter theme but we did have a magic potions workshop which the kids enjoyed. We even printed authentic looking potions labels for the bottles.

Anyway, back to topic. We wanted to make Butterbeer for the party. We tried out the recipe and it turned out well. But I decided against it as it was too much work to make for a large group of people. I did make another batch of the the butterbeer though, and in the form of ice cream!  We finished it all before the birthday party as it was too yummy!

I used my usual method of making ice cream, which is by whipping up evaporated milk. The recipe is based on the Butterbeer drink recipe but instead of mixing the base with ice cream soda, I chilled the base and mixed in with whipped evaporated milk. I also split the sugar in two. I used half in the butter mixture and the other half whipped in the milk.

I love this recipe cause the ice cream has a soft texture and is easy to scoop straight out from the freezer. This is most likely because of the high fat content and also the small amount of alcohol.

Yes,this recipe has alcohol but the one teaspoon of rum gives a wonderful kick of flavour.
So here's the recipe if anyone is interested. But it's also for me, so that I won't forget.  Here's to magical memories. And... Expecto Patronum!!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Swirly Whirly Bread

It's great to be back. It has been an eventful week for my country. There is a new sense of patriotism in the air that you just can't miss. And while changes are happening and anticipation is high, I have decided to finally blog again after a long hiatus. 

I have been making bread rather frequently, almost weekly. No, I don't use a bread machine. I think it takes the fun out of it. Besides, as Paul Hollywood says, it takes only about five minutes to mix and knead by hand. So a good old upper body workout (or hardly) and an oven is good enough.

In this post, I'd like to share a recipe that is slightly fancier than the usual knead-wait-knead-bake method. This one is basically simple but it just looks much prettier.

It requires additional effort too since you'll have to prepare two doughs, and then roll them out, stack them, and roll 'em up.

I did find that the green wasn't as green as I hoped it would be. So next time I would use more pandan leaves for the green dough. Actually, you could just leave it plain.  But I like the smell of pandan too (other than just for the colour).

 At first glance, it looks like an ordinary loaf of homemade bread. Mine always have a strange bump in the middle. I don't know why....  Anyway, the magic is revealed only when you slice it.

Remember to let the bread cool off before cutting, especially if you have a toddler taster like mine. 
I usually take the loaf out of the tin straight after it's baked, otherwise it tends to "sweat" and gets soggy.

Chocolatey Swirly Bread.... Mmmmm. Who wants some? Recipe below:

 p.s. - For other bread recipes, you may like to try:
Black Sesame Bread
Pumpkin Bread
Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bread

Saturday, July 1, 2017

An Eggless Birthday Cake

A Cake for Kayla

Our baby girl turned one recently. Yes, time flies. We had a small party for her with grandparents, auntie, uncles and cousins. I was planning what cake to make for her much in advance, for the was a tiny problem. She had bad eczema when she was a young baby. Most of it has cleared but she and I have been avoiding eggs (I avoid them too because I'm breastfeeding). Although I do plan to introduce small amounts in her diet with the intention of desensitizing her, her first birthday wasn't the time. So I tried several recipes beforehand.

Going Eggless

I pored over Pinterest, tried the condensed milk version and a few others. There were crumbly or had less than desirable taste or texture. Finally, I decided to modify my favourite chocolate cake recipe by replacing the eggs with flaxseed. The result was perfect! The cake was moist, yummy and does not fall apart easily.

So on her birtday I made this cake and iced it with pink buttercream frosting. I had extra batter since I was using two small cake tins, so I made some cupcakes with them. Emma, our eldest daughter decorated the party bags which were to be given to cousins and neighbours.

Kayla enjoyed her first cake. We let her make a mess and cleaned her up later.

So cheers to our little girl who just took her first steps yesterday. Sweet baby is also singing and talking and we're soaking up every precious moment.

Okay, okay, here's the recipe. Easy peasy.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Agathi leaves, a lesser known milk booster

It's almost a year since I've birthed my baby at home. Although I've had several challenges throughout the year, particularly for dealing with eczema, I would say it has been an easy breastfeeding journey. Sure, it's not easy going on a restrictive diet but I didn't have issues with insufficient milk. Unlike the first child, I don't have to pump for this one. Direct feeding on demand is best milk booster ever!

Of course eating right is also important. There are many so called "milk boosters" and galactagogues like oats, fenugreek seeds, red dates and others. Many also know that the moringa leaves are good for lactating mothers. However, I doubt many know about Agathi leaves or "daun turi" in Malay. The tree is almost similar to Moringa but I find that the leaves taste better and are definitely much easier to handle.

Here, I'd like to share how I prepare a dish with these leaves.

I'm blessed to have this tree growing just behind my house with it's branches reaching out to my window. It is my neighbour's tree but rest assured that we've been given permission to take the leaves for our consumption. It's often my solution when I've run out of green vegetables and don't have to time to go grocery shopping to get some.

Unlike the moringa leaves which are tiny and fiddly to remove from the stalks, these leaves are larger and can be plucked off easily. 

So here I would like to share not so much the recipe, but an idea of how we can use these leaves in cooking. I usually don't use exact measurements, everything is just 'agak-agak'. I make my curry quite mild for the sake of my older daughter. I think it would taste better with more curry powder and a dry chili. Although I don't use a proper recipe, some people do ask me for it so I try my best. 

This is actually a quick and easy recipe, suitable for busy moms. I use red lentils since they are easy to use and don't require pre-soaking.The fenugreek seeds and lentils are also known to support breastmilk production. So, this might just be the perfect milk booster for some.

 To all breastfeeding moms, well done! And do enjoy the journey while it lasts. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Black Sesame Bread

I finally have the time to update my blog. I've been busy with a new sweet baby girl. Also, I told myself I had to finish my birth story before updating my food blog.

This is a recipe I came up with when I was pregnant. I was told that I was anemic and so I tried several ways to bring my hemoglobin level up. I knew that the iron pills given to me would not do anything than give me constipation. So I took blackstrap molasses, black beans, red beans and black sesame.

I decided to experiment making bread with some of the black sesame seeds. I added oats as well. The results were satisfying.

The dough was grayish looking with a soft texture.

I like the way it looked after baking. It tasted right too. Perhaps next time I could use  more sesame seeds. I don't know when I'll have time to make bread again though. Soon I hope....

One of the good things about sharing my recipes on my blog is that I know where to find them when I need them later! So here goes... 

Take care, folks! I hope to post again soon. Happy baking!