Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cheese Biscuits - Red Lobster Style

Soft moist cheese biscuit
I missed Red Lobster biscuits. Those warm fluffy cheesy biscuits. Once in a while, my craving for these biscuits will take over my mind, making me forget the bad Red Lobster's service, the horrible long line, and really bad lobsters. 

Like a zombie, I will be sitting in a Red Lobster restaurant, waiting for the wait staff to bring me those biscuits to satisfy my craving. I would eat so much biscuits that by the time my dinner arrived, I am too full. Maybe that's why I never find the entrees memorable. In fact, all I could remember is never to order lobster from my local Red Lobster restaurant. ;p

Cheesy, buttery, salty
A month ago, I came across a recipe for these cheese biscuits and decided to make some for my family. They turned out good, not quite the same as Red Lobster but close enough. 

Today, I decided to try the recipe again with a tab more butter and they turn out beautiful. Soft, fluffy, buttery and moist - better than Red Lobster. Another great experiment. =)
Red Lobster Cheese Biscuits


(Makes about 10 ~ 12 biscuits)

2 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp butter
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried parsley

1. Place Bisquick mix, cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese in a large bowl. Mix with spatula until combined.

2. Place 1/4 cup butter in a microwavable bowl and cover with cling wrap. Microwave for 20 seconds or until butter fully melted.

3. Mix butter with milk.

4. Make a hole in the middle of the cheese mix. Pour in milk. Mix until dough forms.

5. Gather dough into a ball. Use hands and punch dough vigorously for 30 seconds.

6. Gather dough into a ball. Grab dough with hands and throw the dough back into the bowl. Repeat for 30 seconds.

7. Repeat step 5 and 6 until dough appears smooth. (About 5 times)

8. Place parchment paper on baking tray. Coat parchment paper with 1/2 tsp butter.

9. Using spoon or ice-cream scoop, drop 1 1/2 tbsp of batter onto tray. Repeat until all batter is used.

10. Bake in a pre-heat oven at 450 F for 12 ~ 15 minutes or until golden brown.

11. Mix 1/4 cup of melted butter with garlic powder and dried parsley to create garlic butter.

12. Brush the surface of the biscuit with garlic butter once they are removed from oven.

13. Leave on rack to cool. Served warm.


Tips & Tricks

1. You can coat your hands with some oil when handling the dough to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.

2. When throwing it back and fro in bowl, throw it hard. It will help the dough to form.

3. Do not use hands to form nice round balls for baking. Dropping batter to tray will help create the rough surface of the biscuit.

4. The garlic butter must be applied to biscuit immediately after they are removed from oven.


My Baking Pantry

Bisquick, Parsley Flakes, Garlic Powder
This was my shopping bag for today. I got all these from Safeway. Commonly found ingredients in various supermarket in USA. Although I remember the parsley flakes and garlic powder are cheaper at Target. Oh well, no time to go Target today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Red Bean Steamed Rice Cake (砵仔糕) - Hong Kong Style

Ever watch TVB drama or Hong Kong movies? Often you would hear the lead actress requesting for Put Chai Ko (砵仔糕). I had been watching these shows since young and never had a chance to try it. It's not a treat commonly found in Singapore. 

On my first holiday to Hong Kong, I came across a shop selling these. I was excited. I quickly bought one and was sadly disappointed. It's was hard, thick and bland. So it's no surprise that I didn't bother trying them when I moved to Hong Kong.

Then, one day, my husband came home with a Put Chai Ko. He said it's the best in Hong Kong. I was skeptical but on seeing his excitment, I gave it a try. It was soft, tender and sweet. Now I finally understand why this is such a well loved treat in Hong Kong.

Red beans topping
We haven't had this treat since moving to the States. With some left-over of rice flour, I decided to make this at home. Another easy home-made treat. =)

Normally made with small bowls


25g Red beans (Soaked overnight)
100g Rice flour
30g Wheat starch
20g Water chestnut starch
25g Glutinous rice flour
100g brown sugar slab
2 cups water

1. Cooked red beans till tender. About an hour.

2. Sift rice flour, wheat starch, water chestnut starch and glutinous rice flour together. Set aside.

3. Bring one cup water to boil. Add in sugar until melted completely. Leave to cool.

4. Once sugar water cool completely, pour into flour mix. Whisk till smooth.

5. Bring remaining cup of water to boil. Add into flour batter. Whisk till smooth.

6. Put bowls into steamer and heat for 15 minutes.

7. Pour batter into bowls until 1/2 full. Add 1 tsp of red bean to each bowl on top of batter.

8. Cook for 20 minutes under high heat.

9. Cool till warm. Use the back of parring knife to loosen the cake from the bowl.


Tips & Tricks

1. Use a whisk during the whisk process. Do not use fork, spoon or spatula to stir the mixture. It will cause lumps to form. A whisk will help break out the lumps during the mixing process.

2. Heating the bowls before adding the batter will prevent the red beans from sinking to the bottom.


My Asian Kitchen

Water Chestnut Starch

Water chestnut starch is flour made from water chestnut. You can find these in the flour section in Asia supermarket. A box of chestnut cost about $2.50.

Brown sugar slab

A packet brown sugar slab can be found near the flour section in Asia supermarket. A pack of brown sugar cost about $2.

For a picture of Rice Flour - see Chwee Kueh recipe.

For a picture of Glutinous Flour - See Snowskin Mooncake recipe.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Half boiled Ramen Eggs (糖心滷蛋)

Ramen Eggs
I have a friend who loves half boiled ramen eggs. She frequents her favourite ramen shop for these. These days, it is rare to find ramen shops that still serve half boiled ramen eggs due to health regulations. Most of the time, you get hard boiled eggs with your bowl of ramen. 

Half-boiled Eggs
That chewy white with the soft wet yolk that almost melts with your ramen soup. Hmmm... perfect combination. As part of my ramen "making" series, I made these eggs earlier to pair with my instant noodles. Bits and pieces... I hope I would eventually get to making the actual ramen. ;p

In any case, these eggs are good enough to hold one captive on its own! Simply good on its own. I love eggs... :)



3 Large Eggs (Room temperature)
3 Cups Water
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Soy sauce
1 Cup Water
3 Tbsp Mirin
3 Tbsp Sugar

1. Bring 3 cups water and salt to a boil.

2. Use a spoon or ladle, gently transfer eggs into the water. Make sure eggs are sitting in a single layer.

3. Cook eggs for 6 ~ 8 minutes on middle heat. Cook time varies with the heat and pot use.

4. Immediately soak eggs in cold water to prevent further cooking.

5. Mix soy sauce, 1 cup water, mirin and sugar. Whisk until sugar is incorporated. Set aside.

6. Soak a piece of paper coffee filter or cheesecloth in the soy sauce mixture.

6. Gently peel the eggs. Place eggs in a bowl in which they fit snugly in a single layer.

7. Pour soy sauce mixture over the eggs.

8. Place the soaked coffee filter or cheesecloth over the eggs. 

9. Soak eggs for at least two hours at room temperature or overnight in refrigerator.



Tips & Tricks

1. The cooking time varies with the number of eggs, temperature of your raw eggs, your saucepan and stove heat. Experiment with the cooking time - starting at the 6 minutes and giving 30 seconds forward. Time starts when all eggs are added. When I use a larger pot and it took me 8 minutes to get the eggs to half boiled stage vs. for a smaller pot, it took me 6 minutes.

2. You can use an egg timer to help with the cooking. If you use the egg timer, transfer eggs to cold water once the indicator reached the 3/4 mark between soft and medium. The internal heat of the eggs will continue to cook the eggs as they cool in the cold water.

3. For softer whites, do not soak the eggs in soy sauce for more than 2 hours. The longer the eggs are soaked, the firmer the whites.

4. Be gentle while peeling the eggs. They are very fragile as the insides are still watery and soft.

5. If eggs are undercooked after peeling, you can return them to a pot of boiling water and cook further for about 3 minutes.

6. Use room temperature eggs. Eggs fresh out of fridge will crack once they hit the boiling water due to the sudden change in temperature.



My Japanese Kitchen

For a picture of Mirin, please refer to my Chasu recipe.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Perfect Egg Timer

Egg Timer

After several unsuccessful attempts to make half-boiled eggs. I decided to get the egg timer. 

The first time that I used this, the eggs turned out over-cooked with some strange chemical smell. Very disappointing. I wanted to return it but my husband insisted on keeping it as it was too much trouble to return a $5 item online. 

It was sitting in the drawer for weeks, before I decided to give it another try. This time, the eggs turn out slightly undercooked but that weird smell no longer exist.

The third time, it works like a charm. Learning from my prior failures, I removed the eggs once the egg timer reaches the 3/4 mark between soft and medium. They turn out perfect and beautiful. There is no weird smell. 

I guess this was this was a keeper after all. 

If you are getting one, cook the gadget once in salt water to get rid of the chemical smell. Clean it completely after that and let it cool before using it again. Due to the difference in temperature between the egg and the timer, it best to experiment a few tries for the perfect time to cook the eggs. You can buy the timer online on Amazon for US$5.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Homemade Salted Eggs

Salty egg yolks
My mother-in-law has been making her own salted eggs since she moved to the United States. My husband told me once that it's the easiest thing to do but I never gotten round to learning from her.

Rack of fresh eggs
With the blog up, I decided to ask her for the recipe for making them and it's indeed the easiest thing to do. =) The keys to making salty egg yolks are fresh eggs and a good quality cognac. Earlier this week, my mother-in-law told me the salted eggs that I made last month were ready for use. Since I was making mooncakes, I decided to incorporate them into the mooncakes

Pretty egg yolk
Grabbing a few, I was happy to see the beautiful yolks shimmering amongst the whites when I cracked them open. Time to make some mooncakes!


12 fresh chicken eggs (Dry with paper towel)
1/4 cup Cognac
3 cup salt

1. Pour cognac into a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Pour salt into a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Roll one egg in the cognac. Make sure the egg is coated with the cognac.

4. Roll the wet egg in salt. Make sure the egg is coated with salt.

5. Place egg in a ziplock bag.

6. Repeat until all eggs are coated with salt.

7. Pour all remaining salt into ziplock bag.

8. Seal ziplock bag. Write the date of manufacture on the bag.

9. Place ziplock bag in an airtight container.

10. Leave container in a dark and dry place for one month.


Tips & Tricks

1. The egg yolk will be hard when ready.

2. The eggs need at least one month to be ready. Do not open the bag during this period.

3. When eggs are ready, you can keep unused ones in the same ziplock bag. These have to be consumed within one month when it's ready.

4. Do not put eggs in fridge.


My Asian Kitchen


This is a bottle of cognac that my mother-in-law used for the eggs. It's key to use a good quality cognac. The cognac gives the salted eggs an additional fragrance. You should be able to get a bottle of this at Bevmo.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Snowskin Mooncakes (冰皮月饼)

Trio of snowskin mooncakes

Finally, after two days of experiments, I succeeded in making my favourite mid-Autumn festival treat - Snowskin mooncakes. I have not had a good snowskin mooncakes since I moved away from Singapore. Seven long years... I really missed them.

On impulse, I bought a mini mooncake mould at a local Chinese hardware store and started scouring for a simple snowskin mooncakes recipe. After reviewing several websites, I decided to try Christine's and Aunty Yochana's recipes. Both different methods and different flour mixes. 

Soft tender skin with yummy lotus paste
Armed with a list of ingredients, I headed out to the local Asian supermarket. I was happily checking off my list until my hunt for ready-made lotus paste stopped me in my tracks. I checked out canned food, baking goods, even frozen food but no sight of lotus paste. 

Finally, I managed to find a "knowledgeable" store assistant who kindly informed that there is no ready-made lotus paste and I had to make my own! "GASP" - I had intended for a simple mooncake project... I quickly took out my smart phone and google the recipe for lotus paste. This is turning out to be a "massive" project for me.

Green tea, Panda and White Lotus
Two days, countless of YouTube videos and recipe reviews later, I am proud to present my mini snowskin mooncakes which stayed soft and tender even after two days in the fridge. I am not sure if it's still soft after that because they were all gone! =)

White snowskin mooncake, Green tea snowskin mooncake, Panda snowskin mooncake


(Makes 8 ~ 10 white mini snowskin mooncakes with single yolk)

45g Fried glutinous rice flour
5g Wheat flour
50g Icing sugar / Powdered sugar
15g shortening
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh milk
80g room temperature water
200g ready made lotus paste
5 Salted egg yolks (cut into half) (Optional)
100g Fried glutinous rice flour (for dusting)

1. Mix flour and sugar together.

2. Rub-in shortening.

3. Add in milk and water. Mix until dough forms.

4. Knead for 5 minutes or until a smooth dough develop.

5. Wrap dough in cling wrap and covered with a damp cloth.

6. Leave in fridge for at least 3 hours.

7. Divide lotus paste into 10 portions - 20g each.

8. Take a portion of the lotus paste and wrapped around the halved salted egg yolks. Repeat until all lotus paste and yolks are used.

9. Covered work surface with cling wrap and dust with fried glutinous flour.

10. Place dough onto work surface and dust dough with fried glutinous flour.

11. Dust your hands with fried glutinous flour. Divide dough into 10 portion - 20g each.

12. Dust a rolling pin and mooncake mould with fried glutinous flour.

13. Using rolling pin, flatten one portion of dough into 1/4 inch thick.

14. Wrap one portion of the lotus paste with the dough. Cover the paste by pulling the dough to the bottom. When all ends of the dough meet, twist and close. Dust again with fried glutinous flour.

15. Repeat until all paste are wrapped in dough.

16. Place a dough into mould. Press lightly. Turn the mould upside down and knock mould against table until dough dislodge. Repeat until all dough are used.

17. Place mooncakes into a plate or box. Cover with wax paper or parchment paper.

18. Chill in fridge before serving.

Note -

3A. For pandan snowskin, add a drop of pandan paste into milk before incorporating into the flour mix. Stir until all pandan paste is combined with milk. Add milk to flour mix and continue with step 3.

3B. For green tea snowskin, heat milk with 1/4 tsp of sugar in microwave for 15 seconds or until hot. Stir in 1/8 tsp of green tea powder until smooth. If lumps form, sift mixture. Add milk to flour mix and continue with step 3.


Tips & Tricks

1. If possible, leave dough in fridge overnight before making the mooncakes. I noticed that the dough is less sticky and does not break easily after it had been refrigerated. A freshly made dough tends to break easily when wrapping around the lotus paste. This is important for a smooth skin.

2. The dough sticks to everything. Remember to dust your hands and the mould when making the mooncakes. I rolled the dough in a plate of fried glutinous flour before putting into the mould.

3. Gauge the portion required for your dough by placing lightly a ball of lotus paste (without the egg yolk) which covers 3/4 of the hole. Then weigh this portion of the lotus paste and weigh equal portion of the dough. Do not press the paste into the mould. It is very difficult to clean.

4. If you omit the egg yolk, then the lotus paste ball should cover 80% of the hole. The weight of dough should be 3/4 of the paste.

Example - 20g lotus paste required to cover 80% of hole. Dough required is 15g.

5. If too much flour is coating your mooncake after removing from mould, gently throw them back and fro between your hands to remove the excess flour. Alternatively, you can use a soft brush to dust away the excess flour. I just used my hands.

6. Fried glutinous flour is more expensive than normal glutinous flour. So for coating and dusting purposes, I steamed normal glutinous flour under high heat for 25 minutes to cook the flour. Cover the normal glutinous flour with a paper towel and cling wrap your plate or bowl when steaming to prevent water from entering the flour. After steaming, sift the steamed flour and it's ready for use - ONLY for coating and dusting. You can omit this step and use fried glutinous flour for coating.

7. If fresh dough breaks easily, it's too dry. Add some water. If you find it too wet, add some fried glutinous flour. 

8. Will update again for - Lotus Paste recipe and Homemade Salted Eggs recipe.

9. Adapted recipe from Aunty Yochana's. I find that the texture of the dough, from those recipes which require steaming, is harder than those which uses fried glutinous flour.


My Asian Kitchen

Fried Glutinous Flour
Fried glutinous flour is a type of flour that has already been cooked. To avoid steaming the batter for the dough, you have to use this flour. You can find this flour in most major Asian supermarket. I was unable to find this in smaller Asian supermarkets. This will be found in the Asian flour section. I got this for US$2.50.

Wheat Starch
This is uncooked wheat flour. A small amount of this is added to the dough to make it less sticky. You can find this in most Asian supermarkets (even the smaller ones) and in the Asian flour section. You can steam this, instead of glutinous flour, for coating - See Tips & Tricks #6.  I got this for US$1.50.

Glutinous Rice Flour
This is raw glutinous rice flour. If you are using a recipe which requires steaming the batter or dough, you will use this. You can find this in most Asian supermarkets and in the Asian flour section. I got this for US$1.

Please refer to my Chwee Kuay recipe for a picture of Rice Flour.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Point Reyes Lighthouse
My husband was starting to feel bored on weekends and wants to do short road trips at least once a month. So, we visited Point Reyes Lighthouse on Sunday. It's about two hours drive from San Francisco. 

 Long curving roads, beautiful scenery... ahhhhh.... what a way to spend a foggy Sunday. =) This being a "food" blog, it's important for us to get some decent food before we start out on our trip.

We made a breakfast stop at Barefoot cafe located in Fairfax, CA. With raving reviews from Yelp, we decided to stop for breakfast. It's a cute tiny cafe located by the main street. It was packed but lucky for us, the breakfast crowd were just leaving as we arrived, so we seated quickly.

Egg Benedict
Pear & Almonds Pancake

We ordered an egg benedict and a stack of pear pancakes with almonds. The egg benedict was good but the pancakes were delicious. I love them. The pear was crispy and sweet paired with the soft fluffy pancakes. It was good.

After a hearty breakfast, we were ready to make our way up to Point Reyes. Passing a couple of milk cow ranches and waterholes along the way. It's a nice scenic drive. About an hour later, we finally made it to the entrance of Point Reyes Lighthouse and were pleasantly greeted by a baby deer which was busy grazing.


With a short hike, we reached the steps leading to the lighthouse. A total of 306 steps, it's no easy walk in the park. However, there were three viewing decks which gave us a chance to rest and enjoy the view.

Steps to Point Reyes Lighthouse
Total steps to the lighthouse
Finally, after a long drive and hike, we reached the Lighthouse! Unfortunately, it's too foggy and we didn't get much of a view.  Oh well, there's the long hike BACK - which I'm dreading... ;p

Next time, I will check the weather before heading out....