Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cocktail Bun (Hong Kong 'Kai Mei Bao')

This Bun is as equally popular as the "Po Lor Bao" in Hong Kong and I still haven't found out why it is called Cocktail bun.  Using the same bread dough, I managed to make only 10 of these buns which have a sweet coconut butter filling and the fact that its crust is more brown than the other buns is due to the applying of egg wash twice during the baking. Although baked in a preheated oven of 400F/200C, the sesame seeds didn't burn.

For the recipe of the filling, I reduced the sugar as the bun itself is slightly sweet and the taste is perfect when you get a slightly sweetened coconut flake taste with the sweet smell of butter circling in your mouth. There is no need to stuff too much filling into the buns and all of them are arranged next to each other during baking, hence the white soft bread at the sides of each bun is exposed. Baking them in a greased baking pan is important to ease release after baking. I baked them for 20 mins, but by around 12 mins into the baking, the buns need to be checked and a second coating of egg wash applied. Thereafter they brown quickly and should be ready before the 20 mins is up. Once browned, they must be removed from the oven and cool on a rack or else they will continue to brown darker which will not be pretty!  

Recipe :

Ingredients :
For the Bun ingredients, refer here. (omit the taro filling ingredient)
1 egg (beaten) for egg wash
1 tbsp white sesame seeds

For the sweet coconut buttercream filling :
1/4 cup all Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Unsweetened dessicated coconut
5 tbsp butter, room temperature
5 tbsp vegetable shortening, room temperature
3 tbsp milk powder
1/3 cup sugar

Method :
Bun (Mix all ingredients as in here and let the dough rest and rise for 1 hour) :
1)Once rested and risen for 1 hour, take out dough and knead lightly. Divide dough into 10 balls and cover with cling film when working on shaping each bun.

Sweet Coconut Buttercream filling :
1)Beat the butter, vegetable shortening and sugar till light.
2)Stir the flour and milk powder together and fold into the butter and sugar mixture.
3)Add in the dessicated coconut and stir thoroughly to combine.
4)Divide into 10 portions and leave aside.

To Assemble :
1)Take one of the bread dough balls and roll it out to a rectangle, about 1/2 inches thick.
2)Take one portion of the sweet coconut filling and spoon onto the middle of the rolled out dough. Using your fingers, slightly mound the filling into a log.
3)Take the dough nearest to you and fold to cover the filling, and take the other side of the dough to join up. Pinch the sides on the edges, working upwards and towards the seams on the dough to enclose. Turn over with the seams side down and gently roll the bun with one hand palm to get a firm shape. Transfer to a greased baking pan and continue to work with the rest of the dough and filling. Arrange 5 buns next to each other.
4)Allow the buns to rest for another hour. Preheat oven to 400F/200C.
5)Brush the buns with egg wash and sprinkle white sesame seeds all over. Bake for 15 to 20 mins. Around 12 mins, apply egg wash again and continue baking. Once the buns are brown, they are ready.
6)Remove from oven immediately and let cool on racks.

Yields : 10 cocktail buns

Steamed Radish Cake

It has been a long time since I last made any Chinese dishes and snacks. Same with all my bakings, I have to wait for the mood to come along when I am ready to go shop for the ingredients and take time in the kitchen to prep them. Simple Chinese cooking is very quick when comes to the cooking part while the prepping part takes more time, especially when the dish involves more than garlic and ginger!

This steamed radish cake is served at Dim Sum restaurants and also a dish made at home and served during the Chinese New Year celebration. This happens to be Curry's favorite too and his father used to make it all the time when he is here on his annual visit. There is another similar taro version of which I will keep it in my to do list until I can locate a good taro and the recipe. 

To make this dish is not difficult and perhaps the only thing that is dreaded is grating the radish. Recently it is very popular in Hong Kong to make this dish from thicker string cuts of the radish, resembling french fries shape and size. This gives the texture a more chunkier bite. I made it the old fashioned way by grating the whole radish thinly in strands. Rice flour and wheat starch which are available in Asian stores are the main dry ingredients which bind all the other ingredients together to form a very thick paste which is then spooned into a greased dish pan and steamed on medium heat for 1 hour. As tomorrow will be the 15th day of the Chinese New Year celebration, I added goji berries to give the dish an auspicious color. I used a square pyrex dish measuring 9' x 9' to contain it and a wok to do the steaming. This dish can be eaten straightaway or let cool completely  overnight and cut into slices and pan fried in a little oil till slightly brown on both sides and served with chilli sauce. Either way, it is good tasting when you are in the need of something different and savory.

Recipe :

1-1/2lb (700g) grated Daikon radish (do Not squeeze out any water from the radish)
1/2 cup Wheat Starch Flour
1-1/3 cup Rice Flour
2 cups lukewarm water
3 cloves garlic (minced or grated)
1/2 cup Goji berries (optional)
1/3 cup dried shrimp
2 of Chinese Preserved Sausage (sliced and diced to small pieces)
2/3 cup of sliced shitake mushrooms
(about 4, re-hydrated and sliced thinly)
1-1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp White pepper
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1/2 tsp of 5 Spice Powder
Scallion for garnish

Method :

1)Heat 3 tbsp cooking oil in a large pot. Saute the garlic for 1 min and then add in the dried shrimp and Chinese sausage. Stir to mix and saute for about 5 mins.
2)Add in the mushroom slices. Mix and let cook for about 2 mins. Add in the grated radish together with the salt, pepper, sesame oil and 5 spice powder. Stir to mix all the ingredients together. Let it cook for 7 to 10 mins, continue stirring.
3)Place the rice flour and wheat starch into a large bowl and pour in the lukewarm water. Stir to blend thoroughly.
4)Add the goji berries into the radish mixture into the pot, stir to distribute. Pour the flour and water mixture into the pot and stir and cook for about 5 mins till it is almost dried out.
5)Prepare a large steamer and grease a round or square dish measuring 8 or 9 inches. Remove the radish mixture from heat and scoop and pat down the mixture into the oiled dish. Steam on medium heat for 1 hour.
6)When first removed from the steamer, the texture feels wet and slightly firm. Let cool to room temperature before slicing. If desired, can be pan fried with a little vegetable oil before serving.

Serves : 6 to 8 persons

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February Bento Days (2)

As it is school vacation this week, I geared up on making Bento for the kids. To make a complete Bento takes some time and I am definitely not able to do this every morning for Miss E's lunch time when she enters 1st Grade next September. As much as I want to create cute designs, I think it is not very practical to wake up early every morning during the school year to do this category of food art. And so when I have the time, I try my best to make use of all the Bento tools I have to make a fun lunch for my kids.

My kids love sushi rolls but my weakness is I can never learn to roll a perfectly shaped one. If there was ever a sushi class in my neighborhood, I will pay to learn to make it the proper way. For these Bento, I just rolled up rice with sliced deli ham and shaped them to a triangular shape with the help of the sushi bamboo mat. The pork patties were made by mixing mince pork with salt, pepper and cornflour and adding in green peas to add extra color. The sides were completed with omelette and steamed broccoli. As I always hear kids complaining about broccoli but not mine, I try to include it into every Bento boxes I made so far.

For this Bento, I used a pre-cut nori wrap that was given to me by Curry's niece, Heidi and it was so easy to use. All I had to do was to shape the rice with a mould and wrap the nori all around it to form a soccer ball. Instead of deep frying the chicken from scratch, I used boxed chicken patties and pan fried a piece and cut them into smaller pieces to fit into the silicon cups. The mayo dip containers were fun to use and the kids love them. They do come in all shapes and very bright colors too and just perfect to fill the gaps inside the boxes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chocolate Vanilla Cake/Birthday Cake for Curry

Happy Birthday Curry! Wishing you the best in everything, older and wiser, success in work and love always from us all.

This year I made a real birthday cake with a dense butter and sour cream cake with a rich chocolate frosting. And went overboard decorating it as I didn't made anything for Valentine's Day and thought my ideas should be let loose and flow!

Chocolate cake seems to be one of Curry's favorite but not really mine. I attempted his birthday cake for the first time when we first met 15 years ago in the miserable university dorm kitchen of mine. It was a good attempt, although not very presentable but it is always the thought that counts. I always tell my kids that all the cakes I make for them are special as there is only one of such cake in this world and no one else can make it nor eat it except them only. Well, of course they always wanted a birthday cake with a character which I couldn't make and had to order it instead! But all the other dessert cakes I have made so far serves the same message. I really think that is the real message of a birthday, the person is super special on his day and the candles represent all he had gone through since he was born years ago and should be celebrated every year as he progresses in life with a special cake. I hope this cake represents my kids love for their daddy and my hope and passion for my husband to continue to grow old healthy and happy. And of course love me for who I am, no matter how cranky I can get at times.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2 Years Old

I thought of it! Maybe I should do something to celebrate my 2nd year of blogging but hey, with what I have been feeding it here all these 2 years, I think it is already Overstuffed!

Although February has been very slow here, my ideas get going in my brain. There are alot of baking and cooking I want to try out but this time of the year just slows everything down. Call it the transitional upset from winter to the ever forward hoping Spring weather with all its marvellous colors that I long to get inspired from to do something. Hopefully these past few days with the warm sun will get those buds everywhere popping out and brighten up my mojo again!

Here's to another year of happy baking, cooking, travel, ranting and blogging! And hey, guess what I got for this special day? A New Canon camera to replace my beloved old broken one. Now that is what I call encouragement to go on with this blog! Will Be Back soon!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February Bento Days (1)

Gong Xi Fa Chai! Hey, in my household we celebrate Chinese New Year for 15 days and although I am 3 days late with my wishes, I still intend to do alot of cooking and celebration and hopefully I can catch up!

Finally my cough and cold had subsided and trying to pick up the momentum to ensure I don't miss out on doing things that I wanted to do for this celebration that I most enjoy and love of all the holidays celebrations! Although we are away from the hustle and bustle of Malaysia and Hong Kong's atmosphere of celebration, I still try my best to celebrate with my kids.

My Canon camera gave up on me and I miss it so much! Suddenly I felt that my pictures are not as interesting nor striking anymore and hoping Curry will get it fixed or get me a similar one very soon or else I will lose my interest in food photography very fast! At the meantime, I have to put my Sony to use of which I inherited from my ever technology hip brother.

According to the geomancer, the Tiger Year looks bright and prosperous. Well, they always say that every year but I am not complaining. So far, every year had been peaceful and although not always smooth sailing, I count my blessings. This is the 10th year I haven't been back to Malaysia to enjoy all the fun of this celebration and chances are that I won't be able to do so for the next 10 years till my kids grow up and out of school!

Today's Bento boxes have been long coming and my kids enjoyed them. Snow day today and both remained at home. February is coming to an end soon and I am so looking forward to March already with all this snow squalls and ice patches lingering and spoiling days! This year's snow fall has been less in my neck of the woods and absolutely went crazy down south. Imagine snow in major part of Texas and Florida! Perhaps the earth has really shifted its position or the effect of global warming is getting more evident these days! Whatever it is, I hope the Tiger Year will keep roaring in a good way with its prosperity and luck to everywhere and to everyone I know. Wishing you all a Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Banana Granola Muffin

What a way to kick off February! The kids and I took turns getting sick and Curry had to travel away. And all the cough and sniffle makes me a very lethargic and helpless person. I hate being sick as it really affects my days, plans and sometimes my children have to bear with my lack of consistency and abrupt anger, accumulated from frustrations and a weary mind.

Kids have recovered with the irritating dry cough creeping up once in a while and I am already hearing Prince D complaining he is sick every morning just to avoid preschool! Perhaps the Terrible Three symptom is only kicking in now and sometimes I find my own son's emotional outbursts unbearable. And yet when he cheekily smiles when he gets his way, I forgot on why I was mad with him in the first place. Kids.... they can drive you insane and make you mad and yet your love for them eventually is unconditional and genuine.

With 3 bananas almost rotting given another day on the countertop, I had to use them or thrash them. Chinese people has the most taboos in everything and my kids and I were deprived of everything sweet including fruits by Curry and according to him, to prevent the building up of phlegm and triggering of more coughing! Seriously, if I had to live by all these taboos, I will eventually die.

This recipe has no butter and less sugar. Good for a quick snack or morning grab and go and with added granola, it gave a crunch and extra goodness to the muffin. I used 3 large bananas, just double the amount if using baby bananas. The easiest thing to make and Miss E made it with me within 10 mins.

Recipe :

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup low fat milk
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup granola

Method :

1)Preheat oven to 350F.
2)Line 8 to 10 muffin pans with paper liners.
3)Beat the eggs and add into the mashed banana. Mix and pour in milk and mix again.
4)In another bowl,mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar with a fork.
5)Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and fold in.
6)Divide the batter between the muffin tins. Scatter the granola on top of each muffin.
7)Bake for 30 to 35 mins till slightly brown.

Makes : 8 to 10 medium muffins