Saturday, December 20, 2014

Glutinous Rice Balls for Winter Solstice

Hello there. It's been a long time since I last posted. With hectic work schedules and my father's sickness and recent passing away, I lacked the time and inspiration to post anything.

However, we've come to the end of the year. On Monday, which falls on 22 December this year, the Chinese will celebrate the Winter Solstice festival. Glutinous rice balls (or dumplings) are eaten in this celebration. Like these tiny round balls are which are symbolic of the seasons coming to full cycle, so too has my father's life come to its fullness and he is now in a happier place.

Seasons and people come and go. This year there's no Christmas tree or shopping for me. And I don't have the time the make rice balls (tang yuen) for my family. But I made some rice balls with Emma last year and took some photos. So, I'd like to share this in my blog this year. I've changed the recipe to do without food colourings. After all, nature has provided us with beautiful colours we can use in our food, as you can see below.

Here are the colourful doughs.

Here's my kiddy trying her hand at making the rice balls. In Hokkien, we call it sow ee.

Marble balls, concocted by Emma.

And more balls... by right they should be in even shape. But who wants to be fussy, right?
A good option for green colour would be to use pandan juice. But I didn't have any at that time, so I improvised. I used turmeric powder and mixed it with the juice from blue peaflower or bunga telang. The colour was a lovely green. The downside was that it had the distinctive turmeric taste. So if you can, use pandan juice. You'll get a lovely flavour with that.

So here's the simplified recipe from me. Happy Winter Solstice or Dōngzhì Festival to all. And a Blessed Christmas too.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gula Melaka Ice Cream

I've made many kinds of ice creams. But I've always wanted to do something of a local flavour. Durian comes to mind easily but I wanted to do something different (and a little less intense). 

After pondering over it, gula melaka comes to mind. It would just replace normal sugar in a basic recipe and yet give that distinctive Malaysian flavour. So I finally gave it a try.

The result was a luscious creamy ice cream. I guess part of the reason is that boiling the milk reduces the water content further so there were no crystals formed during freezing. I added a small amount of water during boiling though, because I think too much water was going off.

The only downside is that it is very sweet. And it seems to melt very quickly. So I'll just have to eat it in small quantities, and quickly!

So here's the simple recipe. Happy trying!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Teddy Bear Cookies

I've been wanting to make these for ages. I saw them on on Pinterest and other sites and I thought my kid would love to have them (and make them with me).

The ones I saw, however, used icing for the eyes and mouth. I wasn't in the mood of making royal icing. So I thought I'd just use the dough for decoration. That way, I wouldn't have to make any icing and there's no time wasted in waiting for the icing to set. What a splendid idea! (So I thought to myself)

You can invert the colours so that you have some teddies with white face and chocolate ears and some with chocolate face and white ears, as show in the picture below.

This is how they look like before baking:

And out from the oven:

As for the recipe, I adapted it from Sweet Explorations. Here's my version of how to make them Teddy cookies.


Here's my Emma enjoying the finished product. I'm sorry my face is in it too. There just wasn't a better picture of her and the cookie. Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this post (the blessed few of you who read my blog).   :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Orange Poppy Seed Cookies

I wanted to make something for colleagues of mine and my husband's. Aidilfitri celebrations were hardly over so ordinary cookies wouldn't do. I wanted to make something slightly unusual (by local standards at least), yet nice and easy.

So here it is, Orange Poppy Seed Cookies. 

I put them in a cookie tin which came from a particular hotel...

I got the recipe from Simply Recipes and a good one it is! Here it is, in my own format. I hope those who had them enjoyed eating them and those who try to bake them enjoy making them. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Ice Cream Project

This is a much delayed post. I've been experimenting making different flavours of ice cream since I made the basic, black sesame and mango peach ice creams. 

The method is use is the "no machine" method. You don't need yogurt machine to make yogurt or a a bread machine to make bread and it's possible to make ice cream without an ice cream machine. You do need a handheld or stand alone mixer, and time at home. And some amount of good memory, since you do need to take out the mixture and whip it every 40 minutes or so.

Here are some of what I've done this year:


I used whipping cream instead of evaporated milk. I expected a creamier texture but it wasn't that much better. And the colour didn't turn out that blue either.

Green Tea

This was definitely a huge success. My daughter loved it and my husband said it was the best ice cream I've ever made. Texture, flavour and colour turned out beautifully.


This was lovely too. Except next time, I would add more cocoa powder. 


For this, I was hoping to get a pink ice cream. Instead it turned out light orangey. I guess it was from the egg yolks. Other than that, the strawberry flavour was noticeable and texture was okay.

Alrighty, here is my err... ice cream project summary poster, if you may call it. If you would like to have the full method, you may refer to the mango peach ice cream post.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Green Pancakes for Breakfast

Pancakes are are one the easiest things to make for breakfast. I have a basic recipe which I can easily modify. I often make pink (beetroot) and also pumpkin pancakes.

This is the first time I made green pancakes, and they turn out quite pleasing to the eye. And they taste nice too.

The green is from fresh spinach. Here's what the batter looks like:

I love the bright colour. We had them with butter and honey. 

Here's the easy peasy recipe. Enjoy!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Meatless Shepherd's Pie

I'm not a vegetarian. But nowadays I try to cut down meat consumption as much as possible. And although there's a Meatless Monday movement going on, "meatless" can be any day, especially when you have a suddenly inspiration to make Shepherd's Pie without beef or any meat product.

This was last night's dinner. I wasn't sure how it would turn out. Well, since I'm posting about it, of course it turned out great! The texture was lovely and the taste was yummylicious. I know I don't have great vocabulary when it comes to describing food. But I do have photos, and a recipe to share. (This time I actually took note of the amount of ingredients I used!)

I'm not happy with the shot below. Indoor, night time photography is such a pain! Ah well! At least the pie was all eaten up by the hubby and myself.

So, here's the recipe for those who would like to try:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pink Pasta

Sometimes, you just have turn ordinary cooking into something a little extra-ordinary. (This reminds me of a quote I recently came across, which I will share at the end of this post.)

For me, cooking pasta is something I do when I don't know what else to cook, or when I'm pretty lazy but refuse to eat instant noodles. But then cooking pasta can be jazzed up by making it pink, without food colouring of course!

I would recommend this for those with young kids, especially those with daughters. Mine was absolutely impressed! Another good thing about this dish is that it's not only pretty but also nutritious.

I would love to share the recipe but when I cook, I don't normally follow exact measurements. It's more like "dump it in" method. So no conventional recipe, but here's a visual of how to make it. I hope you like it.

And here's the quote I mentioned:

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Smoothie Morning

Sometimes when I don't know what to make for breakfast, I blend. I usually make green smoothie for the hubby and I to take to work. But for weekends and public holidays like yesterday, I tend to try something different.

I've been trying thinking of an unusual recipe for a smoothie. And then it hit me: black sesame! I then googled it and found that it has been done by others but it's not that popular.

Anyway, here are two types of breakfast smoothies from yesterday. One fruity and bright coloured for Emma, and a black one for the adults.

The ingredients for the Mango, Banana Smoothie are:

1 mango
1 banana
some yogurt
a bit of honey
a splash of soy milk

Then you just whizzz.. everything in the blender.

Teddy likes it. It was Emma's idea to use him as a prop!

For the black sesame smoothie, the ingredients are:

2-3 tbsp of roasted and ground black sesame seeds
1 banana
soy milk

I roasted the seeds the night before and ground them in the morning. I didn't add any honey because the soy milk was the sweetened type.

If you notice the coloured paper in the photo above, it's actually done using ice-painting. Here's the artist for the paper, and the assistant art director for the photo-shots!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Different Kind of Easter Egg

I was trying to think of a way of making Easter eggs that's doesn't include painting boiled eggs. Someone blogged about baking cakes in eggshells. That sounded great but could be a bit messy. Then there was another one where you put candies in eggshells and seal them up. Hmm... sugar high....

Then the idea of making jelly in eggshells came to my mind. So I started saving the shells whenever I cooked eggs or bake cakes and cookies.

I wasn't sure if it was going to work. I thought if it didn't, I'd just take photos of them and post them on Pinterestfails. Ha ha.Thankfully, they turn out great. 

My little one enjoyed cracking the eggs and removing the shells.

As for the pretty colours, I did not use any artificial food colouring at all. Here's what I used instead:

RED - Ribena concentrate
BLUE - Blue peaflowers (bunga telang, juice only)
Orange - Fresh mango (chopped super fine)

So I made clear jelly from agar powder, separated the liquid to three parts and added the above ingredients, and poured them into the empty eggshells. Then refrigerate.

I hope you like this idea. 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pumpkin Bread

When we went to the Big Bad Wolf last year, we bought lots of books. However, most of them were for Christmas presents. I told myself I'd buy one cookbook for myself. There were plenty of recipe books with beautiful covers. But I end up choosing one with a rather plain cover, because I thought the recipes inside were great and a little different.
Commonsense Baking, that's the name of the book. And this is the first recipe from the book that I've tried.

My last post was on Pumpkin Muffins, which I guess is pretty common. This this pumpkin recipe however, is great and a just a teeny bit uncommon. It's real yeasty BREAD, not the cake loaf type of 'bread'. The end result is a lovely bread loaf with a nice golden colour when you slice it.

When you see something like this out of your oven, it makes all the hard work worthwhile. Also, when you bake your own bread, you get this lovely bready, yeasty aroma filling your whole house. It beats store bought bread anytime. Besides, I haven't such type of bread sold anywhere.

Here's how it looks like after the dough is risen, before baking:

And here it is, straight from the oven:

Finally, here's the recipe I'd like to share. I've simplified it from the original. I can't wait to try more recipes from the book. I guess what they say is right; don't judge a book by its cover!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkins. There are so many things you can do with them. I've used them in pilaf, pancakes, loaf cakes, muffins and yeast bread (which will be in my next post). Pumpkin puree also make a wonderful baby food.

Anyway, here I would like to share a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. These are really easy to make. I used steamed fresh pumpkin but you can also use canned pumpkins.

So this is a very short post. Life isn't so great right now. But cooking and baking is always therapeutic. And photography too, if I can get it right.

Here's the recipe.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chinese New Year - Meat Rolls

Today is the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, or Chap Goh Meh. In the old days young maidens would take a walk under the full moon and cast oranges into the river to wish for a good husband. Or something like that, more or less.

Anyway, as the celebration comes to and end, I would like to share something from my mother's kitchen. Unlike my little kitchen, hers is large and airy, with plenty of natural light, which is perfect for food photography.

I helped my mom make meat rolls for CNY dinner. They are either called Lor Bak or Ngo Hiang in Chinese. I'm not sure if there is a difference, but one thing I'm sure off, these meat rolls are yummy! Unfortunately, they take a bit of work. But it's okay, it's a labour of love for the family!

Here are some of the snapshots....

This is me, chopping up some stuff. The things that go into the meat rolls are carrots, water chestnuts, shitake mushrooms, crab meat and pork meat.

Here's the meat filling all ready to be rolled.

The filling gets spread onto a bean curd sheet, rolled up, and sealed with cornflour mix.

These are the meat rolls, frying in in hot oil.

And here they are..... hot Lor Bak, ready to be cut and served!

We also had other food, which I'm not showing here. But take a look at this claypot on charcoal fire. Duck soup simmering inside.

That's all for now. Happy Chap Goh Meh and Happy Valentine's Day everyone!