Thursday, June 30, 2011

Alamak! I am a Toad! I leap before I look

Last week, I submitted my Sweet Potato Donut  to Aspiring Bakers #8 – Bread Seduction (June 2011)  hosted by Jasmine from The Sweetylicious. Jasmine informed me that the ingredients must include bread flour and/or yeast.  The ingredients for my sweet potato donut had neither. Although Jasmine said she will accept my entry, I really do not feel comfortable breaking the rules so I made this monkey bread to replace the wrong entry. Same thing happened when I submitted my entry for the picnic game hosted by Louise. I fumbled again and didn't format my entry correctly.  Louise was so kind to say that it might be she who did not explain the rules clearly, but the truth is this Quay Po is very "Mong Cha Cha"" (blur, blur) and leap like a toad before she looks.

Monkey bread has many other names, like, sticky bread, pinch me cake, bubble loaf to name the ones I've read.  Wikipedia says that Monkey bread is usually served at breakfast in the U.S. (though my hubby does not recall that). Monkey bread is usually sweet but since I still have so many desserts in my fridge I decided to make a savory monkey bread.  My monkey bread was flavorful but a little dense. I served it with a salad and the combo made a perfect simple lunch. My son came to visit last Sunday and his Dad brought out the balance of the monkey bread which they ate like snacks while watching TV. We all agreed, the flavor is wonderful.

Cajun Monkey Bread
Adapted from Cajun Chef Ryan with modifications
2 ½ C high protein flour, divided into 2 C and 1/2 C
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Sea salt, fine grind
1 pkt Active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
1 ¼ C Milk
2 tbs Olive oil
4 tbs Butter, melted, divided into 2 tbs each
1 Large Egg
¼ C Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
2 tbs Sesame seeds
4 cloves finely chopped Garlic
1 tbs ground paprika

In the mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, the sugar, salt and the yeast. Combine the milk with the olive oil and ½ of the butter in a sauce pan and bring to boil and butter is melted. Add the warm milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Add the egg and mix until smooth. Then mix in enough of the remaining flour to form soft but not too wet dough. Lightly flour the surface, turn out the dough, and knead until smooth and elastic for 5 – 6 minutes, adding more flour to keep the dough from sticking. Coat the with butter or cooking spray and leave in a bowl, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel and keep in a warm area for 1-2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. While the dough is rising, combine the parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, chopped garlic and paprika in a small bowl and reserve for later use. Once dough has doubled in size, punch it down and then cut into 30 small pieces and roll each into a ball shape. Coat the inside of a Bundt pan with butter or cooking spray and then gently roll each dough ball in the cheese mixture then add them into the pan in a layered fashion.  Let the dough stand for another 30 minutes. Before putting into the oven, drizzle the remaining melted butter on top of the dough and sprinkle any remaining cheese mixture. Bake in preheated oven at 350° F for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan and let it further cool on the wire rack.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The name of this main course starts with the letter 'X"

Louise at the blog Months of Edible Celebrations is hosting a picnic. I am a late comer to the game. 

When I wrote to Louise to ask her if I can join in the fun and asked if I could take the letter V, she reverted and said there is only one letter left and that was the X.  Without wasting time, I quickly googled for recipes that start with an X. I was surprised to find a Portuguese dish called “Xerem”. I immediately wrote back to confirmed that I would take the letter X and "bring" Xerem to the picnic party.

Xerem is a traditional stew from the Algarve region of Portugal with ingredients that reflect the region's seaside location and fishing and farming traditions. There is no single list of ingredients but all that I have read list start with a thick porridge made with coarse-ground yellow maize (corn) meal as the base. From that base, there is a departure into many variations that feature combinations of  clams, bacon, sausage and ham.  This was the first time I had heard of this dish and after looking through the ingredients, I suspected it would be a hearty, simple food, that would taste good. After assembling and cooking the stew according to the recipe, I submitted a sample to my Quay Lo for a quick taste test. He suggested that I enhance the flavors by adding garlic, onion and some spices which I did. True enough the dish was considerably more tasty after modification. I served this with crusty whole grain bread and green peas sauteed with butter for lunch. Pei-Lin of Dodol Mochi joined us for lunch and she brought with her a decadent pumpkin pie, which we enjoyed with a large dollop of freshly whipped cream.  I am sure she will soon be sharing with you the recipe. 

Adapted from Celtnet recipes with modification
Ingredients with corn meal soaked in water

4 cloves chopped garlic
1 medium chopped onion
1kg fresh white clams
100g fried bacon
100g chiriso sausage, sliced
100g ham, sliced into strips
200g coarse-ground yellow corn meal
150ml white wine
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbs ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika

Wash the clams thoroughly then leave in a large pan of salted water for at least 2 hours to clean. Mix the maize meal with 250ml water and set aside. Sautee garlic and onion till fragrance and add to the corn mixture. Fry bacon and place on paper towels to absorb the oil and set aside. Add a little butter to a sausage and ham for a few minutes. Add half the wine and continue cooking until the wine has evaporated then take off the heat and set aside. In the meantime, drain the clams and add to a second pan along with the remaining wine and a little water. Cover and steam the clams for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until opened. Remove the clams and extract the meat from the shells (discard any unopened clams). Strain the cooking liquid and retain. Add the clam meat and cooking liquid to a pan and bring to a simmer. Stir-in the soaked maize meal (with the soaking water) and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the maize meal has swelled and is cooked through (the consistency should be that of a thick porridge). Add salt, ground pepper, cardomom and paprika. Transfer to a serving dish, arrange the fried sausage and bacon mix over the top and serve.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pictures speak a thousand words - Part 2

Tart Class Day 2 – 26th June 2011
It's Sunday, the second day of our pastry class at the Academy of Pastry Arts in Malaysia. I must admit it was difficult to roll out of bed so early on a Sunday morning, especially as I received no sympathy from my Quay Lo, who simply rolled over with a snort. Once I got myself into gear, and still fresh from the experience of yesterday, I felt the growing excitement of another day of exploring the secrets of pastries, delicate creams, and exotic aromas. 
As it turned out I was the first to arrive at the academy and made an eye opening cup of tea in the student lounge. By the time we had fully assembled I saw that our small group had trimmed down to five from seven the day before. No matter, I thought, as it would mean more direct coaching from the Chef. After our focus yesterday on savories, today we are to learn Sweet Pastry, as in Ganache moelleuse, Almond cream, Lemon cream and Meringue Italienne. My sweet tooth was utterly engaged.
After Chef Lejuene showed us how to make the doughs and the various creams, we all headed back to our stations to do our own. Let me show you the tarts that I baked and took home. Don’t blink your eyes!

Linzer dough raspberry strawberry jam tart

Linzer dough raspberry strawberry jam tart - close up

Lemon cream peach tart

Lemon cream peach tart - close up

Almond cream fruit tart with orange slice, pineapple and strawberries

 Lemon cream mix fruits tart with kiwi and peach
Tartlettes - chocolate cream and lemon cream with peaches

Are you more keen to find out what we did on the second day of the class now?
I will let my pictures speak to you.
Chef showing us how to make the sweet pastry, once done the dough goes straight to the fridge

Preparing the ganache moelleuse

Preparing the raspberry and strawberry jam filling

Preparing the lemon cream filling

Preparing the fruits need skill too

The lemon cream fruit tart taking shape

Tarts of the day

A group photo for the album

Quay Po and Chef Lejuene

For those who are interested in a career in pastry, or simply engage more fully in pastry making at home, here are some points to ponder:

1) You might want to evaluate all options. Most important, you want to find the right school.  

2) Find out about the instructors who conduct the courses, find out about their qualifications and whether their style of teaching will inspire you.

3) Check out the school by attending a class or two to find out if you like the set up, the potential classmates you might be working with, their curriculum and how many hours of hands on time you have.

4) You might also want to know what kind of certification you will receive.

Those are just my two cents. Honestly, after attending the two days tart class with Chef Lejuene, I am thinking about attending a part time course myself.  Hopefully, my Quay Lo is reading this post and make this my 15th wedding anniversary gift this coming December! HINT! HINT!

I promise to share all the recipes with you all once I get to make those tarts on my own but I want to create some new flavors. Have a wonderful week!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pictures speak a thousand words - Part 1

Last week, I received an email from Jade of Mustard Tree Communications asking me if I would be interested in attending a two days "tart" class at the Academy of Pastry Arts, Malaysia. As an amateur baker and not even a very good one, I jumped at the offer! Although I already knew how to make some pastry, I was eager see how a professional pastry chef does it. I knew this would be two days filled with fun (or at least my idea of it).  I would get to meet with others who love baking, and would be able to pick their brains on the subject and learn from them.  Oh yes, Swee San of The Sweet Spot and Sonia of Nasi Lemak Lover were in the class with me. When Jade asked me if there were any food bloggers that I knew that would be interested to join the class, I thought of them and a few others who were not able to make it.  Hey, Pei-Lin, if you are reading this post, I am sorry, we missed you this time. I think it would be fun to have local food bloggers weekend events someday. 

Chef Guillaume Lejuene himself conducted the tart class. He is a graduate in pastry arts (BTM en Patissier) and CAP Pâtissier- Chocolatier- Glacier- Traiteur. Chef Lejuene has been trained under some of the great pastry chefs ( M.O.F) of France. He is now the Director of Academy Pastry Arts, Malaysia. If you want to know more about him, please click here. The Academy offers both full time and part time courses in Certificate and Diploma Pastry and Bakery Arts. To find out more, please click here.
If you are someone in Malaysia who is thinking of entering the pastry world, you might like what I am going to share with you, so have a sneak peak at the academy and see if this this is the kind of pastry school you are looking for.

Although "yours truly" has been married to a Quay Lo for almost fifteen years, I still have not learned good English or how to speak like an American. Even my Quay Lo has given up teaching me.  So, I have to think of ways to tell my story without having to write too many words. I decided I had a better chance of learning more about photography and let the pictures tell the story for me. My husband, who helps a great deal with editing, has told me that I am an enthusiastic communicator. (I think he meant I talk a lot.) However, he also loves photography and agrees with me - a picture can truly speak a thousand words.  

Tart Class, Day 1 - 25th June 2011
Item 1 - Quiche Dough and Royale
Chef showing us how to make the quiche dough

Hands on

Using the right cheese is important

We made two kinds of quiche. Spinach tomato and asparagus tomato

Chef showing us how to roll out the quiche dough

He explained that we need to shape the dough perfectly into the pie ring so as to get a good looking quiche

Do not put too much filling, this will do.
Preparing the chocolate pastry cream

Filling the quiche with royale cream and then they are ready to go into the oven
Happy students with the chef, all excited to send those lovely quiches to be baked. We can't wait to taste them.

Our creation! Gorgeous looking and tasted even better than they look.  YUM!

Item 2 - Choux Chantilly and Chocolate Eclaires
preparing the chocolate pastry cream for the eclaires

 the pastry cream is now ready to go into the fridge for 1 hour

 Making choux pastry dough

 Chef showing us how to check if the dough is ready for piping. 

After piping, and baking. Choux Chantilly and Chocolate Eclaires. LOVELY!

this is how you make craquelin (mixture of butter, brown sugar and flour) we put this on top of the choux dough before baking)

In addition to all the visually appealing and delicious tasting goodies we brought home, the opportunity of learning from Chef Lejuene, and a day surrounded by people who share the same interest as I, had given me much joy.  I am so happy that I can in turn share my joy with you.

I will definitely share those wonderful recipes and valuable tips from Chef Lejuene with you when I make these decadent bakes at home again but before that, I have yet to show you what I have learned on the second day of the class. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

You are Once, Twice, Three times a PUFF and I love you!

I have wanted to make durian cream puff for a long time.  Now it is durian season in Malaysia and since I have some really nice durian on hand, I decided to stop procrastining and just do it. 

I got mini pancakes instead of cream puff for my first attempt. I followed the recipe to the T. I had no clue what went wrong. Instead of throwing food away, I made mini pancake sandwich with durian cream filling out of it.  My sister in law loved them and said the taste was very good so I gave them all to her. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures because I was disappointed with the result.

The second time, I used another recipe from but I misread the measurement on flour. Oh yes, user error, or can I blame it on my spectacles instead?  I got puffs but they were not soft enough. I went ahead filling them up and ate them anyway. I hate wasting food. Since there was cream in the filling, my mum would not eat them. Poor Quay Po got to eat durian cream puff for breakfast, lunch and dinner all by herself for the next few days.

puff from my second attempt

This is featured on Asian Food Channel (Official) Facebook Page
on 25th June 2012

You might think that after having cream puffs coming out of my ears, I will stay away from it for months, right? Oh no, as soon as I ate the last piece, I tried making them again, Hooray! the third attempt was a SUCCESS!

As I was watching these puffs rising in the oven, I heard this song playing on the radio, “Three times a lady”. So I sang along but instead of singing “ You are Once, Twice, Three times a lady and I love you”, I sang “You are Once, Twice, Three times a PUFF and I love you!”  That was how happy I was with the result of my bake. LOL!

I shared some with my neighbor and she told me they enjoyed the puffs very much and asked what kind of durian I used for the filling. I told her I used "Musang King" durian and she thinks I am crazy!  For Westerners who are not familiar with durians, "Musang King" durian is one of the best grade of durians and originally came from the highlands of Pahang, the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia. They are rather expensive, the market price is about RM50.00 per kilo (approx. US$13.00).  This durian is so famous and tasty that the Macau gambling tycoon, Stanley Ho, had chartered his private jet to buy 88 "Musang King" durians for RM4800.00!!  It is incredible what the rich and famous will do when money is no object.

the preparation
puff before filling
puff with the durian filling
Note: you may find that the durian cream filling is not smooth in the photo, that was because I used only pureed durian pulps because my mum does not like the cream. This give a very rich durian taste. If you prefer a smoother filling, please use the durian cream filling instead of pureed durian pulps.

Durian cream puff

Choux Pastry
Adapted from

Make about 15 profiteroles

80ml (1/3 cup) water
40g butter, at room temperature, cubed
50g (1/3 cup) plain flour, sifted
2 eggs, at room temperature

Place water and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until butter melts and mixture just comes to the boil.
Add all the flour to the butter mixture at once and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture forms a ball and begins to come away from the side of the saucepan. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Whisk 1 egg in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl, then add it to the flour mixture, beating well with a wooden spoon. Gradually add a little of the reserved egg and beat until the mixture just falls from the spoon but still holds its shape.

Preheat oven to 195°C. Brush a baking tray with oil to lightly grease. Spoon 15 – 16 heap teaspoonsful of the mixture onto tray, about 3cm apart. Alternatively, use a pastry bag fitted with a 1.5cm-diameter plain piping nozzle to pipe the profiteroles onto the baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the profiteroles are puffed and golden.

Remove from oven. Using a skewer or a small knife, pierce the base (or top) of each profiterole to release the steam. Return the profiteroles to the oven and leave them for 5 minutes to dry out. Remove the profiteroles from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

When making choux, cut the butter into small pieces so it melts quickly and evenly, reducing the amount of water that evaporates.
All the flour must be added at once so it cooks evenly. Beat vigorously until the mixture is smooth and comes away from the side of the pan. Do not over-beat.
Set the mixture aside to cool slightly so the eggs don't cook when they are beaten in.
The amount of egg required varies with each batch. It depends how big the eggs are and how much egg the flour absorbs. Too much egg will make the choux rise unevenly and spread. Not enough egg and the choux will be stodgy.

Durian cream fillings
Adapted from Baking Mum

125 ml of non-diary whipping cream
equivalent amount of durian pulps
5 gm of gelatine powder
1/2 tbs of hot water to dissolve gelatine powder

Whip up whipping cream to a soft peak. Add in durian pulps and melted gelatine powder and mix well. Put fillings in a piping bag and pipe it out into the baked choux pastry. If you like, you can just spoon the fillings into the pastry too. Dust the top of the pastry with some snow powder and leave it in fridge to chill before serving.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I was a proud Copy Cat

When I saw the focaccia that Alan of travellingfoodies made last Sunday , I have been dreaming about it for a few nights. You see, she is not only an eloquent writer but also a very artistic photographer.  Any simple food that goes through his camera will come out as 5 stars cuisine. Don’t just listen to me, hop over to her blog and see for yourself.  Oh remember to read her notes on personal reflection at the end of each recipe.  Those notes are informative and educational. I learn a lot from them. One of the many things I like about food bloggers are their willingness to share whatever knowledge they have about cooking, baking and other lessons they learned with no monetary benefits in mind.  They are not the "No Money, No Talk" type. 

So, here I am, The Copycat!  I adapted Alan's focaccia recipe and made it with some modification yesterday. When it was in the oven, my whole house was filled with the aroma of rosemary.  I could smell the fragrance from my office (my office is in my home) and heard my stomach growling. I went in to look at the bread several times as though the more I looked, the quicker it would baked. Finally, the moment I anxiously waited had arrived. "DING!", it was the oven bell!  I dropped whatever I was doing in the office and rushed to get the bread out. GORGEOUS! Grinning from ear to ear, I came back to the office to tell my Quay Lo that I was extremely happy with the look and the taste of my focaccia. I want to say a BIG thank you to Alan for sharing this recipe and for the effort in writing easy to follow instructions that even this simple minded Quay Po can follow. Aren't you proud of me?

We had focaccia sandwiches for dinner last evening.  Quay Lo and I loved the bread so much and we both agreed that we will make this again for company. This bread is so easy to make, it looks inviting and taste wonderful. Honestly, you can just eat as is, without anything else to compliment it..  Whoa!!  It was DIVINE! 

Rosemary olive focaccia 
Largely adapted from travellingfoodies with modification.


Before baking
The final product

300g bread flour
1/2 tsp dry yeast
20g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
50ml olive oil
200 ml warm water
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
1 sprig rosemary, leaves only
2 sprigs rosemary (to infuse in olive oil)
3-4 cloves of garlic with skin
15 pitted black olives, cut into rings
4-5 slices of sundried tomatoes in olive oil, thinly jullienned
1 roasted capsicum, cut into thin slices

In a glass of 50ml warm water, stir in yeast and sugar and set aside for 30 mins. Place two sprigs of rosemary and garlic clove with skin into the olive oil on medium heat till fragrant and set aside. When the oil is cool, remove the rosemary and dish out the garlic, removed the skin and minced them and set aside. In a mixing bowl, place bread flour, salt and mix roughly. Add yeast mixture, 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary and garlic rosemary infused olive oil and 150 ml warm water. Use the hook attachment on low speed, mix the ingredients until a sticky dough is formed. Turn the speed to medium and  knead the dough with a mixer until it is less sticky. Turn to slightly higher speed to knead that dough till they no longer sticks to the sides of the mixing bowl and comes off in one smooth lump. Pull a small piece of dough and stretch it and if you can stretch the dough till very thin and does not break easily, you can now form the dough into a ball and cover with cling wrap. Leave it in a warm area and let it rise for 1 hour, about double its original size. Apply some flour on the surface to roll out the dough to get rid of air.  Sprinkle, sun-dried tomatoes, half of the olive rings, minced roasted garlic and roasted capsicum. into dough and knead them in. Place the dough onto a 8 in x 8 in square baking pan and flatten it outwards by pressing with your fingertips to fill up the pan. Cover again with cling film and leave to prove for another 30 mins. Dip an index finger into olive oil and make dimples about 1 inches apart all around the dough. Brush the top generously with olive oil and arrange the remaining olive rings  Sprinkle rosemary leaves on the surface. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170C for 20-25 min until the surface becomes golden brown. Leave on rack to cool. Apply your creativity on how to serve the bread or just eat them as it is.