Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Coconut Cakelets and Coconut Tarts

 :)...I guessed I am down with the Coconut bug. It reminds me so much of my hometown in Malaysia, by the beach side and curry. Warm, fragrant, chewy sweet... all in a package in these little coconut cakes that I made alongside some coconut tarts. 

These days, I am very lazy to measure and scale down or up any recipes and just bake accordingly. Not everytime I get the desired amounts, I like to play around with my many cake and tart pans and tins, and this recipe just happens that I didn't have enough tart base for the remaining coconut batter! And so I poured them into the cakelet pan and baked away. And I was glad that I did! Look at how pretty they turned out with their own caramelized sides. Being bite size makes them all more delish to eat. I like everything mini, it cuts out the guilt of overeating.

And for the Tarts....equally lovely with an added crumbly butter crust. Coconut plus butter.. what can go wrong? Nothing...

This recipe is very easy and fast to make if you don't have to wait for the tart crust to sit and rest in the fridge.  And I found the recipe in this Link.... :), creation of YouTube cooking videos have been the best thing ever to develop ever since blogs everywhere started!

If you skip the Tart base, just grease some muffin pans and pour in the batter 3/4 full and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, using the toothpick test. The texture is like a firm custard filling, with lovely chewy coconut.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

COCOZIA Coconut Water

Recently I was contacted by the suppliers of COCOZIA coconut water to sample their product. The product came in neat handy packs that are handy to grab and go and versatile to slot into my purse and even my kids' lunch bags. The whole box contained 12 handy packs of 330ml each, measuring about 1 and 1/2 cups for the cooking enthusiasts.

I love the design of the packaging and compared to a round can of soda, it's angular boxy shape is an easier grip in my hand. Each pack came with its own straw to mimic the way that fresh coconut water is drank in Tropical countries where a long straw is used to sip coconut juice from a fresh coconut.

As much as I have read and learned from Health periodicals and info, Coconut water is an excellent source of minerals. I have always known it is a cooling drink and in my culture, taken to expel heat and toxins from the body in very hot weather. COCOZIA is organic and all natural without any added  sugar or flavorings. That means its taste is as close as to the real thing that you can get. I personally like the taste, although a bit mild from the first pack that I tasted, but it tasted more flavorful with the second pack a few days later. Only after the second pack that I realized that the suppliers of COCOZIA clearly stated on the package that each pack may taste slightly different as the juices were extracted and filtered from different batches of coconuts. That makes sense, since not all fresh coconuts produce equal tasting juice, some sweeter, some milder! Just like any other fruits.

I tried it after my gym sessions and felt good about it. Usually I will just sip down water to quench the thirst and when I tried COCOZIA , it re-energized and hydrated better and kept me going without feeling fatigue for another few hours. Now, that is a good energizer for a very busy run around person like me!

I tried and used COCOZIA in some of my cooking. I personally prefer to drink it straight out of the packs or poured over ice in a tall glass on a hot day.  Coconut water tends to intensify in flavor and aroma after a boiling and I used it in creating this very simple and quick to cook Curry dish. Coconut milk , which is produced by the extraction of the coconut flesh and squeezed in its own water content to yield the white milk that is sold in cans here is used in most Curry dishes and because of its high fat content, I don't use it too often. In substitution, I used COCOZIA coconut water with Fat free sour cream to create the Curry gravy. If you are a conscious eater like me, COCOZIA is a good option for cooking anything.

I also made seaweed jelly and mango smoothie using COCOZIA as the liquid base. Basically, it is a very versatile ingredient and substitution for any type of liquid portions in a recipe. As spring and summer are approaching, I see myself experimenting more with COCOZIA in lovely drinks concoctions and dessert dishes.

Overall, I like COCOZIA as I grew up with fresh Coconut water and have been used to its fresh tropical flavor direct from the coconut itself or in cooking. For anyone new to coconut products, try COCOZIA, for its mild and clean taste. Just one last word, shake it before drinking and best served chilled!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Taro with Shrimp Bites

I never understood why my parents love Taro so much when I was young. Now, I have caught up with their tastebuds and simply adore cooking with it. It has this subtle sweetness with the earthy mouthful taste that no other root vegetable can substitute. I prefer the bigger type to the smaller kind, for the main reason that I hate peeling too many small ones and would rather handle a big one in one go!

Previously, I never knew how to store and extend the fresh Taro that I buy. They usually go soggy and gives to mushiness before I even decided how to cook them. But now I finally learned the way to extend the freshness of the Taro. Simply wrap the Taro in parchment paper tightly and put the whole thing into another plastic bag and wrap around it. Store it in the fridge and it actually lasts for more than 1 week. 

But there is one thing about cooking taro. It absorbs alot of oil during the cooking process, hence  a teaspoon or two  simply will not suffice to cook an appetizing meal out of it! For this dish, I pan fried rather than deep fried the Taro Shrimp and throughout, I had to add more cooking oil. 

 This was a random dish that I made up with about 1/2 lb of shrimp left in my freezer and half of a medium sized Taro, of which I cut into very thin strips. The shrimps were first removed from their shells, cleaned and put into the food processor. Seasoned with salt , pepper and sesame oil, the shrimps are then processed into a paste. I added 1 egg white with a teaspoon of corn starch and mix together. Taking the Taro strips, I dropped them into the shrimp paste and mixed in with a spoon. With the shrimp paste coating and holding the Taro strips, I shaped and spooned portions out and pan fried each till brown, turning on the sides. Best to serve immediately while the Taro is still crisp. Some mayo or mustard for dipping is great too!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Radish Bacon & Cilantro Pancake

There is something about Radish or Daikon that is delicious. Slightly peppery and  a tinge of bitterness, after cooking it  mellows down to sweet and crunchy. Like the Taro, some people don't have an acquired taste for it but if cooked properly seasoned and with the right ingredients, it may just convert some tastebuds.

I made up this recipe for a Lunch with my new neighbor. For ladies lunches, I love making lighter dishes like this and dim sum type of morsels. Basically, you can put in any type of fillings into the pancake dough. The only thing is that patience is required when gathering the filling and wrapping it up inside the dough which is then rolled out flat before pan frying. To avoid rupture and bursting during rolling, use gentle pressure and roll from the middle out.  

75g grated Radish/Daikon
50g Bacon/Ham, diced to small pieces
1 tbsp Chopped Cilantro
1 tsp Salt
Pinch of White Pepper

250g All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup to 1 cup Boiling Water

1. Marinate the Shredded Radish with the 1 tsp salt in a bowl. Let it sit for about 10 mins to draw the liquid out. Discard the water and squeeze the radish to rid of excess water.
2. Heat 1 tsp cooking oil and pan fry the Bacon/Ham for 2 minutes.
3.Add in the Chopped Cilantro and the drained Daikon. Stir to mix all ingredients for another 
   3 minutes. Season with white pepper. Dish up and let cool completely.
4. Add 1/2 cup of the boiling water to the All purpose flour. Stir with spatula to mix and when cool enough to handle, using your hand to knead the mixture into a pliable dough. You will have to continue to knead for a total of 3 minutes to actually see all the flour being absorbed and forming a smooth dough. If extra water is needed, add extra 1 tablespoon of the hot water as you go. The dough will feel like a very smooth pie dough and not wet on the hands. Divide the dough into 4 to 6 equal size balls. Set aside.
5. Take one dough, roll it out round about 1/4 inch thick. Take some of the radish filling and place in the middle. Do Not overload, from the whole of the dough circle, fill up to only 1/3 of its size from the middle. Gather the sides and pinch & pleat to seal up in the middle. Slowly using the rolling pin, roll out a disk, careful not to burst the pouch. Continue with the rest of the dough and the filling to yield about 4 to 6 pancake.
6. Heat about 2 tsp cooking oil in a non stick pan, when hot, pan fry 1 pancake, about 3 minutes on each side, slightly brown. Dish up and pat with kitchen paper towel for excess oil. Heat another 2 tsp cooking oil and continue with the next pancake.
7. Cut each pancake into smaller pieces and serve with whatever dipping sauce you like.

Makes: 4 to 6 pancakes

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Egg Tartlets

Egg Tarts is the quintessential sweet bake of Chinese pastry shops everywhere and I have never come across anyone who doesn't like it. Truth be told, it is really not difficult to make it at home but you just need a reliable oven with a bit of patience during the baking time to get the exact silky custard texture with perfectly brown crust.

I found and followed this great recipe and made them in a muffin tin. I must say that the taste and crust were great, exactly like those you will taste at a Hong Kong style bakery! Follow the recipe exactly and you will not be disappointed!

Chinese New Year 'Yee Sang' Platter

Chinese New Year was on Jan 31. It is the 14th year that I haven't celebrated this Chinese Tradition with my family and relatives back in Malaysia. I still remember fondly how my childhood celebrations were when firecrackers were lit at the stroke of midnight on the 1st night and the fulfilling reunion dinner before the New Year day. My cousins and I were ever so excited to get the Red Packet money from the elderly of the family and couldn't wait to go home to count how much lucky money we got for the New Year.

This salmon and vegetable platter had never been a tradition of my family and I believe that it only became very popular after I left Malaysia. Inspired by an Aunt , I made this platter for my potluck party on the second day of the Chinese New Year celebration. Auspiciously conscious, I chose 8 dishes to fill the platter with an array of fresh and inviting colors.

The shredded red cabbage and seaweed were parboiled for 1 minute, drained and macerated in vinegar and sugar overnight. Packaged jellyfish is so easy to use, all ready cut to strips and ready with sesame oil. Using my Japanese Omelet pan, I made square omelet and rolled it up to cut into julienne strips. The remaining ingredients were raw shredded lettuce, carrot, smoked salmon pieces and crispy noodle.  For the sauce, I used duck sauce diluted in lime juice and toasted sesame seed.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bento Days

It is surely a harsh winter this year. Not much snow but the plunging temperature made ice of everything and being outside for 5 minutes is already turning all limbs numb. Almost all parts of America is going through the same bitter cold days and with a bi-weekly forecasts of below freezing temperatures, no one is going anywhere and I too, cooped inside my house looking at recipe books and relishing the glorious food photos all over the internet.

Although I have been lazy in other cooking and baking, making Bento is the one thing that I have never given up. Since my last post, I have made numerous but just simply lazy to post them up here! I guess I have to thank my kids for having to bring lunch to school everyday or else I might cast aside all the lunch tools and boxes too like my baking tools.

Valentine's Day is near and everywhere I look, I see hearts, pink, red and chocolates. Although I should be excited about Chinese New Year first since it will be this Friday January 31st, I simply don't have that much enthusiasm. Sometimes I wonder if my interests in everything else is slipping away too?

For today's Bento, I digged out some of my rice moulds and found a heart shape one. Brilliant ! With a small cookie cutter I cut out heart shapes from an apple and patched it to the rice with a little bit of mayo. I totally forgotten to brighten up the contents with my 100s collection of food picks and I do have Alot of hearts' picks! For the chicken pieces, I marinated the chicken in some BBQ sauce overnight and pan fried them with sesame seeds. This particular dish can be used as a sandwich filling too when the ham and cheese is starting to get very boring.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Kimchi Pancake

As the Chinese New Year approaches, the longing for my hometown in Malaysia looms. I can only imagine the lively atmosphere there with all the family gatherings and friends visits. Together with the abundance of auspicious named banquet food dishes and the continuous feasting from day 1 to day 15, it is just the best yearly celebration for all.

My interest in baking usually subsides in the beginning of every new year, possibly too much was done at the end of every year and I don't fancy working with butter for a while. My appetite for all taste Asian will suddenly creeps up during this time of the year and spicy being the main choice during these cold months, I went for Kimchi Pancake.

A bit of a surprise on how easy this was to make! And why didn't I thought of it earlier I wonder. Right on track with my plan to cook simple and easy this year, this recipe was a very good start. The only thing is patience is required when pan frying the batter as the addition of Cabbage kimchi made the batter heavy and thick, hence taking more than 8 minutes to pan fry on each side. The making of the batter was a cinch, simple with these ingredients:
2/3 cup all Purpose Flour; 1/2 cup water;pinch of sugar and as much or as little cabbage kimchi that you like. Mix all together and pan fry on both side till firm.  Cut to smaller pieces and serve. This only yield one 9 inch large pancake and the recipe can be doubled easily.

I served the pancake with Pork Congee and Chinese Black egg. Great to have this combination on a relaxing Friday night.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Green Tea Chinese Steamed Buns

This year I plan to try out more easier and simpler recipes from every resources. After last X'mas baking and chowing down mostly on Roast and Grilled Meats, it is time to settle down and do a palate cleansing and detoxification of the stomach, so to speak.

I have always thought making these Chinese Buns must be easier than Western breads and bakes, mainly because of the lesser amount of ingredients needed and the steps involved are almost half of that of making a loaf of English bread. Having said that, I think I have successfully produced a Steamed Bun but somehow I think the use of high heat while steaming kind of spoiled the appearance of these buns. And I used the usual All Purpose flour which I suspect lacking in some sort of ingredients in those specialty flour for Buns that is sold at the Asian grocery stores.

I followed the recipe from here and substituted green tea powder in place of the cocoa. I am glad that cooking and baking videos are plenty now showing the actual process of everything but as with all Chinese Cooking, the video did not tell how many buns this recipe yield. I cut up about 10 and they steamed up huge!Taste wise is fine and only the appearance is not that appealing. This gives me the urge to try again next time with the specialty Bun flour from the Asian groceries and perhaps I will only place the raw Buns when the steamer is hot and ready rather than placing it any earlier. And I would reduce the size of each bun.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

What a year 2013 had been! I was so caught up with everything that I totally lost interest in updating this blog!

As of this year, I will make life simpler for myself and I have incorporated all my other blogs into this one for 1 finger access! As the years go by, I find that it is getting more difficult to multi-task and manage too many stuffs. Perhaps the "fire" that I possessed when I started this blog in 2008 has slowly dimmed or rather contained!

Anyways, I hope to do more this year in the kitchen, with healthy cooking as priority and once in a while adventurous with new tools and sauces.

All the best to my Cooking & Blogging friends.