Saturday, January 25, 2014

Loh bak goh / Turnip cake

Last time I've been complaining about how hard it was to make turnip cake . Grating more than a kilo of turnip is no joke ! At that time , I'm still using a flat grater so I told myself come winter , I should start looking for a much sturdier grater , box grater , if the price is right ! Or just use the food processor , which I need to unearth from the darkest corner of the cabinet .

Since I'm a regular visitor at Shanghai St ., I stumbled upon this gorgeous stainless steel box grater and at a fraction of a price to the one I've been planning to buy .

Believe it or not , I've grated a kilo of turnip in less than 3 minutes lol 

And if you've seen the price of turnip cake in some of the popular shops  here in HK , you gonna roll your eyes . Imagine paying HK $ 172. for 1.3 kilo of turnip cake and in some hotels , it will cost you more ?! Better make your own ! 

Now some of you will think , what the heck is loh bak goh aka turnip cake ? Well , if you're not a Chinese or you don't frequent Chinese restaurant or not adventurous enough to eat Chinese food ( Say what ? Tsk ! Seriously ?! ^___^ ) Turnip cake is actually a savoury steamed cake . It is made by grating the turnip , additional ingredients such as Chinese dried sausages , dried shrimps and mushrooms are added , rice flour and water mixture to bind them together then steamed . After steaming , you can actually eat it right away , just add a drizzle of light soy sauce and a sprinkle of sliced spring onions . Pan frying it is the traditional norm and so much more satisfying ! 

Though you can order this cake all-year round when you go yum cha , it is only few weeks before the Chinese New Year when you can actually see this cake being sold . To some , Chinese New Year won't be complete without loh bak goh .  To me , I see it as my winter comfort food . I've made my first turnip cake 2 months ago and I'll still be making it until the weather turns hot lol

Have you tried turnip cake before ? 

Makes one 8 x 2-inch steamed cake  

1 kilo ( 970 grams peeled weight ) Chinese white turnip
2 pieces Chinese sausage ( lap cheong / pork sausage and yun cheong / duck's liver sausage ) , steamed
3 tablespoons dried shrimps , soaked
4-5 dried mushrooms , soaked
a generous dash of ground white pepper
1 teaspoon chicken powder
1 teaspoon raw sugar ( or granulated sugar )
pinch of salt
180 grams rice flour
35 grams potato starch ( or cornstarch / tapioca )
1 cup water

* Grease an 8 x 3-inch cake pan . I used an 8-inch loose-bottom cake pan .

* Grate turnip . Cut sausages and mushrooms into small dices , coarsely chopped dried shrimps , set aside .

* In a small mixing bowl , combine rice flour and potato starch , mix well then add in the water , use a wire whisk to combine everything together until no lumps form , set aside .

* Heat wok or a large pan , pour 2 teaspoons of oil then add in the sausages , shrimps and mushrooms , cook for about 3 minutes . Transfer to a plate .

* In the same pan , add in the grated turnip , season with pepper , chicken powder , sugar and salt . Cook for about 5 minutes , add in the sausage mixture and mix well to combine . Take pan off heat then add in the flour / water mixture , mix and stir thoroughly ( if you feel that the mixture is a bit runny , put back the pan/wok to the stove , turn heat to medium and continue to stir the mixture for few seconds until thick enough .

* Transfer to the prepared pan and steamed over medium-high heat for 1 hour . Leave turnip cake inside the wok , covered for at least 3 hours . Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely . 

* Remove the turnip cake from the pan and transfer to a serving plate . Cut into 1/2-inch thick ( rectangle ) slices and pan fry on both sides until golden brown . Serve with chilli or hoisin sauce . 

* For the spicy fried turnip cake , cut cake into small cubes , pan fry until lightly-browned , transfer to a plate . In the same pan , add 1 teaspoon XO sauce , 1 teaspoon chilli sauce and 1 teaspoon sliced spring onion . Stir-fry for about 30 seconds then add in the fried turnip cakes , stir gently to combine and cook for about a minute . Transfer to a plate and garnish with some sliced spring onions , serve hot .

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dandan noodles part 1

Stay tuned for the soupy version .

This is as good as you can get without living leaving the comfort of your home .

According to my taste buds , that is ! 

I think I've said that before ?

A word of caution , go easy with ground Sichuan peppercorns , start by adding a teaspoon first then add more according to how much you can handle ( note that Sichuan peppercorns according to Wiki is not hot or pungent like black , white or chilli peppers . It has a slight lemony overtones that if you ingested it , you'll feel a tingly numbness inside your mouth and in my case , it also temporarily cleared up my stuffy nose ) . Add more broth or water if you prefer a saucy noodles . I should have used a shallow bowl so that you can see some of the delicious oily sauce tsk !  

Well , I keep this post short and sweet .

I really need to iron the clothes lol

Recipe adapted from Lonely Planet : Food Lover's Guide to the World 

Serves 4 

800 grams fresh Shanghai noodles or udon 
500 grams minced or ground pork
3 tablespoons peanut oil 
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine 
300 ml chicken stock
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinese sesame seed paste or tahini
2 tablespoons ground Sichuan peppercorns
3 tablespoons chilli oil or how spicy you want it to be 
3 teaspoons sesame oil 
1 teaspoon sugar 
salt to taste 

For garnish :

1/2 cup roasted peanuts , chopped 
3 spring onions , sliced 

* Cook fresh noodles for 7 minutes , drain , rinse under cold water and  drain again ; set aside . 

*  Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan , add in pork , stir to break up any lumps of meat and cook until lightly browned . Add ginger and garlic , cook for 3 minutes or so . Stir in remaining ingredients ( except the salt , peanuts and spring onions ) , simmer until reduced to a thick meaty gravy . Add salt according to taste .   

* Refresh noodles under hot running water then put into each individual bowls , top with generous serving of pork sauce , garnish with peanuts and spring onions . Serve hot . 

This post is linked to the bloghop event Cook your Books hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours 

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mini cappuccino cakes and vanilla bean ice cream

I was planning to bake these for our New Year's dessert but got sidetracked ( another word for "I'm too lazy to bake " ) .

Also , I can't find the silicone mould that I've been planning to use at that time ( a good excuse ) 

I stumbled upon my two silicone moulds few days ago while I was looking for something else . I really should organize my baking pans and tins ! 

Or just stop buying more baking paraphernalia  !

I profess my love to instant coffee and last year , some generous soul gave me both ground and whole coffee beans . But I only use it for making ice cream not for drinking . Go figure ! I bet coffee afficionados are rolling their eyes lol 

Currently , I'm using  UCC instant coffee and I used it in this recipe instead of espresso . Much as I love it for my daily dosage of caffeine this winter , in this cake , it didn't shine through . I think it's not strong enough . Maybe a good quality instant espresso is a must for making this coffee cake . Good thing there's Kahlua in there ! 

The day before I baked these cakes , I made this vanilla bean ice cream . It's the 3rd time that I've made it and this from someone who didn't like vanilla-flavored ice cream before ! Trust me , if you've eaten a real vanilla ice cream , you'll never go back for store-bought .

Muted coffee flavor aside , this cake is easy to make , not too sweet , oil is used so the texture is very moist and not-so dense . I love it with my usual milky coffee but pairing it with ice cream is heaven ! 

Are you a coffee drinker ? 

I love coffee but I can live without it . 

What about you ? 

Cappuccino cake ( please check full recipe at King Arthur  )

 Makes 16 mini cakes 

For the topping : Stir together 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee , set aside .

For the cake :

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoon Kahlua

* Preheat oven to 325°F / 160°C . Lightly butter the 16 silicone moulds or tins , sprinkle the prepared sugar and coffee mixture into each moulds and tap out excess .  

* In a large mixing bowl , combine the flour , sugar baking powder , baking soda , salt and instant coffee . Use a whisk to combine ingredients together . 

* Add eggs , oil and milk . Using a handheld mixer , beat on high speed for 2 minutes , stop and scrape the bowl . Add the Kahlua and beat for 2 minutes . 

* Pour the batter , about 2/3 full , in each individual moulds . Bake for 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean . Let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes then turn it out onto the rack to cool completely .    

Vanilla bean ice cream , recipe adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

2 cups whole milk
4 teaspoons tapioca starch
1 1/2 ounces / 42 grams cream cheese , softened
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean , split and seeds scraped
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt

* In a small bowl , combine 2 tablespoons of the milk with the starch , mix well . In a large bowl , whisk cream cheese until smooth  , set aside .

* In a large saucepan , combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream , sugar , corn syrup , the vanilla bean and seeds . Bring mixture to a rolling boil and cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes . Remove from heat . and gradually whisk in the starch mixture . Bring mixture back to a boil , stirring with a heat-proof spatula until slightly-thickened , about 1 minute . Remove from heat and gradually whisk into the cream cheese until smooth . Place bowl over an ice bath to cool completely , stirring from time to time .

* Remove the vanilla bean and pour mixture into the ice cream machine . Churn for 30 minutes . Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight .

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Braided cream cheese and ham / Nutella / tomato and ricotta pesto rolls ( light wheat bread with Tangzhong )

There is no such thing as too much food photos .

The post title alone is a mouthful .

That's what you get if you can't make up your mind .

But that's a good thing , who wants just one flavor when you can have three ?! 

Okay , I'm partial to the cream cheese and ham , no surprise there ! 

Hey , both Nutella and pesto were really good .

A spin off of the light wheat toast recipe from the Bread Doctor book , instead of making a loaf bread , I've made something small and with filling . 

I love filled bread , sweet and savoury alike , but when it comes to making bread , I lean towards savoury . Nutella though is another matter and I can't resist it ! 

Adding something that you really like for the filling is half the fun , eating most of it is another  ^___^ 


This is a very easy recipe , the whole wheat flour makes the dough easier to handle . After the initial stickiness , kneading the dough was so easy . The waiting is the hardest part , 'twas 13°C the morning I've made it , it takes about 2 hours for the first rise and another 2 hours for the final proving  . 

The only thing that I want to change when I make this recipe again is too add more cream cheese and ham . 60 grams of cheese is not just enough !   

Do you like sweet or savoury bread ? 

Have you baked bread lately ? 

Light wheat toast recipe adapted from Bread Doctor ( translation by Sofanfan )

Makes two 8-inch loaf or 12 ( 4-inch ) rolls

280 grams bread flour 
200 grams whole wheat flour
50 grams caster sugar
7 grams salt 
10 grams instant yeast 
60 grams whisked egg
140 grams milk I used UHT whole milk , warm 
120 grams Tangzhong 
50 grams unsalted butter I used warm melted butter 
I've added 3 tablespoon of warm water

egg wash to glaze

For the filling :

Cream cheese and ham filling : 60 grams cream cheese ( at room temperature ) , 30 grams cooked ham ( cut into a small dice ) and 1 1/2 tablespoons snipped cilantro leaves ; combine ingredients and set aside .

Nutella : about 2 teaspoons each for 4 piece of ( 78 grams ) dough 

Tomato and ricotta pesto : about 1 1/2 teaspoons each 

* In a large mixing bowl , combine the two flours , sugar , salt and yeast , use a whisk to mix everything together . Make a well in the center and pour in the whisked egg , milk , water , Tangzhong  and melted butter . Using a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula or your hand , mix until it forms a shaggy dough  . 

* Tip in dough onto the work surface and knead until dough is soft and elastic , about 13 minutes . Form dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly-oiled mixing bowl , turn dough once then cover tightly with a plastic wrap . Let dough rise into a warm place until doubled in size . 

* Divide dough into ( 4 pieces , 220 grams each , if making 2 loaf bread ) 12 ( my final dough is 940 grams ) equal pieces and form into a small balls , let rest , lightly-covered , for 15 minutes . 

* Roll each dough into 8 1/2 or 9-inches long and about 4 1/2-inches wide , spread the filling , and roll filled dough into log . About 1/2-inch from the top of the log , make a cut all the way through then braid together , keeping the cut side up and connect both ends together . Put rolls into a lightly-oiled 4-inch baking tins or a 4-inch baking paper cups . Cover and repeat with the rest . 

* Let rolls rise until doubled in size . 

* Meanwhile , preheat oven at 180°C . Glaze rolls with egg wash and bake for 20-23 minutes or until golden brown . Serve warm or at room temperature . 

This post is linked to the bloghop event Little Thumbs up , organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY . This month's theme is CHEESE and is hosted by Alice of I Love. I Cook . I Bake .

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This post is also linked to the Cook your Books event organized by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Kung pao chicken

Hi guys , how's 2014 treating so far ?

Any broken resolutions yet ? 

Me ? Good thing I didn't make any lol

So for my first post this year , I'll give you this spicy dish .

I borrowed ( of course ! )  this book from the library ( where else ? ) more than two months ago and so far I've only made the chilli-garlic sauce recipe until now . 

Kung pao chicken is a Sichuanese dish made of chicken , chillies , peanuts and Sichuan peppercorns . This dish is relatively mild as long as you stay away from the chillies . Much as I love chili-garlic sauce , I shudder at the thought of eating whole chillies ! Same goes with the Sichuan peppercorns , I love the aroma and the flavor it imparts to this dish but eating it accidentally ? Yikes ! I had to pick them diligently and chucked them . 

That pesky matter side , if you want to try this dish , you should , you know , as it was quiet delicious , before adding in the chicken , throw out more than half of the fried Sichuan peppercorns first or grind it before frying . Or you gonna spend your time , just like me , hunting for those small seeds ! 

Do you like spicy food ? 

My modification in green 

80 grams peanuts plus extra for garnish
2 chicken breast , cut into 1.5 cm cubes 420 grams boneless chicken thigh with skin on , 1-inch cubes
12 large chillies or 15-20 small ones
2 tablespoons oil for frying
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 garlic cloves , crushed
1 teaspoon grated ginger 1 1/2 teaspoons 
1 bunch spring onion , white part only , cut into 1.5 cm lengths 70 grams ( 1-inch ) plus extra leaves for garnish

For the sauce :

1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil 
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
60 ml chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon cornflour tapioca starch

* Place peanuts on a baking tray and roast in a preheated oven ( 180° ) for few minutes until golden . Set aside . 

* Marinate chicken in 1 tablespoon light soy sauce , 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine / sherry or mirin , a dash of ground white pepper and 1 teaspoon cornflour .

* Remove stalks from chillies and shake out the seeds . If using larges chillies , cut then into chunks , if using small ones , leave them whole . In a large pan or a wok , heat oil over medium heat , add the chiliies and the peppercorns . Stir-fry for just a few seconds until peppercorn pop and chillies crisps . 

* Add the chicken to the pan , cook until lightly-browned . Add the garlic , ginger and the spring onions and stir-fry for 1 - 2 minutes 4-5 minutes ( take care not to overcook the chicken breast or it'll be dry ) . Add the sauce  and stir for a minute or so until thickened and glossy . Stir in the peanuts and serve .