Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hongkong-style egg tarts

Walking around the streets of HK , you couldn't help but see these popular tea time treats in most local bakeries . 

Egg tart or dan tat is a baked pastry filled with egg custard . There are two kind of crust , the shortcrust and puff pastry . But most egg tarts that I've eaten so far are made with sweet crust pastry , sort of like a shortbread but has a softer , melt-in-the-mouth texture . I don't like the puff pastry version of dan tat but I adore Potuguese egg tart , it's the caramelized topping that makes the difference , I think .

So where's the best egg tart in HK ? 

Check out the small local bakeries , they're all over HK , not only it's cheap , from $2.5 and in some bakeries , if you buy 5 pieces , they'll give you one for free  ^___^

It's been more than 3 years since I've made my first egg tarts . The first was so disappointing , very thin crust but the small consolation is the smooth egg filling though it tasted bland .

I seldom bake tarts and this is my 3rd attempt , so far . Much as I love this kind of dessert , I still struggle to make the pastry crust , yeah , need more practice . Making the crust for this recipe alone takes me nearly an hour ! The dough is easy to handle but I had to roll the dough several times , got fed up , roll the dough again into a ball and from there , grab a portion and pressed it into each tin . By the time I was into my 5th tin , I found my rhythm lol 

I used the recipe that I've found at Christine's Recipes book . Compare to the one in her blog , the ingredients of the custard/egg filling has a different amount . I've changed two ingredients of the pastry crust but used the egg filling recipe as is . It says in the book , the ( crust )  ingredients will make 16 tart shells and my modified pastry crust is enough for 8 tart tins , 3 square tins ( roughly the same size as the tart tins ) and 6 mini tins . The size of the tart tin listed in the book is too big , 1 1/2-inch deep is too much , mine is only 3/4-inch tsk ! The egg filling is not enough to fill all the pastry crust , I think the recipe of it in her blog is much more suitable .

I've seen the gorgeous tarts of Jeannie's / Baking Diary and I like the look of her crust . She used some condensed milk in pastry crust , so I decided to used condensed milk instead of sugar in this recipe . The result is soft , a bit crumbly melt-in-your-mouth pastry crust even if you manhandle the dough ! 

I'm not really happy with the color of some of the egg tart crust when I baked it yesterday , only 4 has this pretty golden brown crust . I think the oven is a bit off that day *sigh* Luckily , I still have 5 extra tart shells from previous day , so this morning , I made half of the egg filling recipe and this time I'm quiet satisfied with the color of all the crust .

The first 3 photos was taken today and the last 3 from previous day . 

Recipe adapted from Easy Recipes : A Selection of Simple Classics 

Makes 16 tarts 

For the egg tart filling :

2 eggs , at room temperature
70 grams caster sugar
150 ml hot water
75 ml evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* Add sugar into hot water , stir until dissolved , let it cool down . Whisk eggs and evaporated milk together then  pour in the sugar water and add in vanilla , mix well . Strain mixture and set aside . 

For the crust :

200 grams all-purpose flour
25 grams cake flour
125 grams butter , at room temperature
55 grams caster sugar I used 60 grams condensed milk
1 egg , lightly beaten egg yolk only 
a dash of vanilla extract

* Beat butter and sugar condensed milk , over medium-speed , until light and fluffy . Add the whisked egg in 2 additions egg yolk and beat over low speed , add in vanilla . Sift in the flours in 2 additions , scraping down sides of the bowl between each additions , until well combined . Knead dough  for few seconds . 

* You can either roll out the dough and use the tart tin to cut it or get a portion and press dough into tin . Using your thumbs , starting from the bottom up to the sides , turn the tart tin in a clockwise or anti-clockwise motion in order to make an even tart shell . Trim away any excess dough . Repeat with the rest of the dough . 

* Preheat oven to 200°C . Position rack into the lowest part of the oven .

* Pour filling into each tart shell . Bake tarts for 10 to 15 minutes . Reduced the temperature to 180°C and if the filling is puffing up , open the oven door ajar , about 2 to 3 inches . Continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes until filling is set or when toothpick inserted in the middle of the tart stands on its own .

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dan dan noodles , the bastardized version

There is no such thing as soupy dan dan noodles .....

So I'll just give you the bastardized version lol

In this side of the world some Chinese restaurant actually serve dan dan noodles , the soupy version and I've tried it in two different place . The second one that I've tried is nearly similar to the original dan dan noodle recipe except that it's soupy . The bastardized version that I really like is the one with sesame paste or maybe with some peanut butter in there as well ?! Yup , they call it here , dan dan mein . 

What's in a name ?

This recipe is a spin from Martin Yan's dan dan noodles , which I renamed peanut sesame noodles , that I've made few years back . And I've posted this soupy version before but this time I've tweaked it out a bit .

You can actually tweaked this recipe to what suits you best . Reducing the chilli flakes ( and oil ) or omitting it for a kid-friendly noodle soup . Omitting peanut butter and just use sesame paste . Adding more liquid if you want a thinner soup . Or use a different kind of noodle though Shanghai noodles is the best for this recipe .

The soup will thicken as it cools down , so when you've already added it to the noodles , you need to eat it immediately . If there's some leftover soup , you can thin it out by adding more water and/or broth then add salt to taste .

Serves  2-3 

400 grams fresh or dried Shanghai noodles 

2 cups water 
2 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoon chilli flakes
4 tablespoons peanut butter 
4 teaspoons sesame paste
1 teaspoon black vinegar ( Chinkiang vinegar )
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon chilli oil plus more for drizzling
salt , if needed 

2-3 tablespoons chopped peanuts
2-3 teaspoons preserved mustard radish
1 stalk spring onion , choppped

Cook fresh noodles for 3 minutes . Drain , rinse and drain in a colander , set aside .

* In a small ( 3-quart ) saucepan , pour in water and broth then add in chilli flakes . Bring to the boil and cook for a minute . Turn off heat and add in peanut butter , sesame paste , vinegar , soy sauce and five-spice powder , use a whisk to stir ingredients together until well combined . Bring mixture to the boil and simmer over low heat for 3 minutes , stirring constantly and adjust taste . Add in the chiili sauce and give it a good stir . ( If you think that the mixture is a bit thick , add in more broth or water , let it boil again and adjust taste . ) Turn off heat . 

* Refresh noodles with warm water and shake off excess water . Divide noodles into 2 or 3 bowls , pour in the soup , drizzle with chilli oil , top with chopped peanuts , preserved mustard radish and chopped spring onion . Serve immediately .

Monday, February 17, 2014

Stir fried udon noodles with ( homemade ) char siu

What's not to love  about this dish?!

Simple , fast and really satisfying !

One of my favorite stir fry noodle combination , udon and char siu . Easier than making gon chau ngau ho since udon has a firm texture .

I forbid myself from eating the rest of the leftover char siu ! 1 kg is not that much especially if you're eating rice during lunch and dinner . At least , there's only the two of us and somebody here didn't seem to like it much , so more for me , right ?! *evil laugh* 

If you don't like a darker noodles , you can reduce the dark soy sauce . But lime juice and chilli sauce is a must for this dish !

I still have some char siu left for making char siu buns though it's really , really hard to keep my grubby hands off it  ^___^ " 

Serves 2 

400 grams ( 2 packs ) instant udon noodles
200 grams ( homemade or store-bought ) char siu / Chinese-style barbecued pork
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced yellow bell pepper
1 small onion , sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
5 stalks spring onions
a generous teaspoon chilli sauce
juice of half a lime or lemon
a dash of ground white pepper

1/2 cup pork broth or water
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon raw sugar or granulated sugar

* Cut char siu and spring onions into about 1 - 1/2-inch in length ; the sliced carrots and bell pepper should be about the same size .

* In a small bowl , mix the broth , dark and light soy sauce and sugar , set aside .

* In a large non-stick pan or wok , over medium heat , pour about 1 tablespoon oil , when oil is hot , add in onion and cook for 3 minutes . Add ginger , char siu and carrots , cook for a minute .Transfer mixture to a plate , set aside .

* In the same pan or wok ( be sure that the wok is really hot so that noodles won't stick ) , over medium-high heat , add in the noodles , stirring from time to time , cook for 4 minutes .

* Add in the char siu mixture and bell pepper to the pan and mix well . Pour in the broth mixture , stir well to combine , adjust taste . Cook noodles , stirring constantly until the liquid is nearly absorbed then add in the spring onions , chilli sauce and lime juice . Give another good stir , dish up and serve hot . 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Char siu - Chinese barbecued pork

So , how's your Valentine's Day date ?

Me ?! Sadly ......

I drowned my sorrow by making char siu lol

Read more about char siu at Wiki .

The last time I've made char siu was 2 years ago and I used Lee Lum Kee char siu sauce . Now before you say , bottled sauce ?! It tastes good actually and the taste closely resembled to the char siu here in Hongkong . I like it but not that much .

Though the not-so picky taste tester here prefer homemade char siu made from bottled sauce over this made from scratch marinade *gasp*

There's no accounting for taste , hee hee ! 

I've got this recipe from Alvin aka Chef and Sommelier , one of my favorite Singaporean bloggers . I've been eyeing his recipe since he posted it in May last year and had to stick my xeroxed recipe on our kitchen wall as a reminder . You should see our kitchen wall , several recipes sticking here and there  -__-

I have another 2 char siu recipe that I've been planning to make ( hopefully ?! ) but ditched the other one since it calls for 5 pounds of pork ugh ! That's good if you're making it for a party but I'm only feeding 2 person . I lifted two ingredients from this book and added them to Alvin's recipe .

Here in HK , if you want to make char siu , you can ask the butcher that you want a cut of pork for making char siu and they'll give you that . In my case , I've selected the cut I usually buy when I make potstickers or steamed minced pork . There's this beautiful marbling of fat in that area and it's near the skin so there's some good old fat as well that's really good when charred . I don't really know which cut of pork is the one I usually buy .

The verdict ?! I'll let the photos do the talking .....

Now , now stop drooling ! It's really easy to make ! 

Recipe adapted from Chef and Sommelier ( Thanks , Alvin ! ) Please check out original recipe and instruction at his blog .

1 kg pork , cut into 3-inches wide and about 3/4-inches thick ( rough estimate )

For the marinade : 

1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 tablespoon maltose syrup
2 cubes red fermented beancurd
2 tablespoon raw sugar
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese wine
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
3/4 teaspoon five-spice powder

* Wash and dry pork thoroughly .

* In a medium bowl , combine ingredients for the marinade and mix well . Add in the pork , use hands to coat each piece of pork and chill for at least 4 hours , preferably overnight . Try to stir the mixture from time to time . Remove the pork from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking . Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or use a roasting pan .

* Preheat oven to 200°C . Transfer char siu the marinated pork to the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes each on both sides . Baste the top twice with some of the marinade from the pan . If you want a nicely charred surface , turn oven temperature to the highest setting , move the wire rack 3-inches above the heat source ( I'm using a counter top oven ) and cook for about 2 minutes on both sides . Take out from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing .

* Serve with rice , what else ?! Or noodles or beer or whatever you fancy .

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Easy Japanese soufflé cheesecake

No Valentine's date yet ?!

Don't worry , me either lol 

I've been meaning to bake this cheesecake when I saw it from one of my fave Singaporean bloggers , Ann of Anncoo Journal's blog late last year . The recipe is from Ochikeron's 3-ingredients cheesecake though Ann added lemon zest and juice .

I haven't tried the cream cheese and white chocolate combo at that time and since both are my favorite things in the world .....

Of course , since I'm one of those who always procrastinating , it was not until early this month that I've baked it .

So far , I've baked 2 this month and we're only halfway through February ?!

I've got a half kilo of cream cheese !

This cake tastes really good , so easy to make and it has only 3 ingredients , or in my case , 4 ( or 5 ), since I've also added lime zest and juice ( like Ann did ) . Best of all , the recipe calls for only 130 grams of cream cheese  ! Okay , this cake is not that big , 7-inches by 1 1/4 inches and if you want a bigger cake and won't mind using 6 eggs , you'll get a bigger cake . Don't forget to add lime or lemon , it's really a must , as it'll cut down the richness of the cream cheese and chocolate mixture .  

What are you planning for Valentine's Day ?! 

Recipe adapted from Ochikeron and first seen at Ann's blog

130 grams cream cheese , at room temperature
120 grams Giuttard white chocolate chips 
3 eggs , cold
zest of 1 lime and 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice 

*  Grease a 7 x 3-inch round loose-bottom pan and line with baking parchment at the bottom , grease the parchment as well . 

* Separate eggs and put the egg whites in the fridge . 

* Preheat oven to 170°C . Prepare a pot of boiling water .

* Melt chocolate chips ( if using bar chocolate , finely chop it so that it'll melt easily ) over a pot of barely simmering water . When melted , add cream cheese and use a whisk , stir well until smooth .

* Remove bowl from heat and add the yolks and mix well then add in the lime zest and juice , stir well to combine . Beat egg whites until firm peaks form .

* Add the beaten egg whites to the cream cheese batter , in 3 additions , blend well with a spatula after every each addition .

* Pour batter to the prepared pan , drop pan lightly on the counter top several times to removes air bubbles out of the batter .

* Pour hot water in a roasting pan and put pan on a wire rack over it . Bake cheesecake at 170°C for 15 minutes then lower to  160°C and bake for another 15 minutes . Turn off oven then leave the pan inside for another 15 minutes . Take out from the oven and let cool completely from the wire rack before removing the cheesecake out of the pan .

* Dust with icing sugar if prefer or serve slices with fresh fruit .

Here's the one that I've made last time