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....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Poached Pears

Poached Pears
I have a bag of pears in the fridge awaiting to be ripen, but after more than one month, they are still as firm as day one. Must be some powerful preservative or fertilizer that the farmer used! 

Time for me to do something with them. What's the quickest way to soften a pear? Poaching! I loved poached fruits. The cooking process brings out the sweetness of the fruit, paired with the added flavour from the poaching syrup, it's like eating a vanilla pear.

Poached pear with vanilla and lemon zest

Poached pears are easy to make, quick to impress but long to cook. It's a slow cooking process. The good thing is that you can always make this in advance and served with ice-cream during dessert. =)

Poached pears served with mint leave and lemon zest


4 Bosco pears
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon lemon zest (leave 1 tablespoon for garnishing)
1 vanilla pod (split open)
2 whole cardamon seeds (cracked open)
1 stalk mint leaves (optional)

1. Bring water to a boil and wish in sugar. Continue to boil for 10 minutes or until sugar completely dissolved.

2. Add in lemon juice, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, vanilla pod and cardamon seeds.

3. Bring the syrup to a boil and whisking occasionally to incorporate the flavour for about 15 minutes. Leave syrup on stove under low heat.

4. Peel the pears. Place pears in syrup. Cooked for 30 minutes under low heat.

5. Remove pears and leave to cool in a plate. Cool both syrup and pears to room tempature before placing in fridge.

6. Served with lemon zest and mint leaves.


Tips and tricks

1. Make sure that pot is big and deep enough to fit all pears.

2. Pears will float when placed into the syrup. This is normal.

3. Do not wash the vanilla bean before use.

4. You can replace the cardomon seeds with 1 cinnamon stick.

5. Use the back of a spoon to crack open the cardomon.

6. Choose pears that are firm. Soften pears will mush up during cooking.

7. For better presentation, choose pears will longer stalk.

8. You may core them if you like, but leave the stem in place.

9. Warm or cold with ice-cream or cream.

10. You can keep left-over syrup in the fridge for up to 3 months and continue to use them.


My Baking Panty

Madagascar Vanilla Beans
You can buy whole vanilla bean from various supermarkets and online. I find that it's cheaper online than in the supermarket. I got some Madagascar vanilla beans from Amazon.

If you are getting them from the supermarkets, you can find them near the spices section.

Disclaimer - I am not compensated monetary in any way for the shopping link.

Ginger Milk Pudding ( 姜汁撞奶)

Ginger Milk Pudding ( 姜汁撞奶)

Every Tuesday and Friday are my TV days. On these days, I'm practically glued to my TV. If I cooked on these days, they tend to be quick and simple. With today being my TV day, I decided to make ginger milk pudding during a quick TV break. 

Smooth soft gingerly milk pudding

The Chinese believes that ginger has medicinal benefits by keep the body warm and expelling cold "air" from the body. In recent years, I acquired a love for ginger and have been trying loads of ginger dishes. A few of my favorite ginger dishes includes pig trotters in ginger vinegar, ginger fried rice and for dessert - ginger milk pudding.

I first tried this dessert when I lived in Hong Kong a few years ago. My husband brought me to one of his favorite dessert house and ordered this for me to try. If you love dessert and ginger, you will love this. It has the makings of  a good pudding - smooth and soft, topped with its sweet gingerly taste.

Firm pudding

The key to this pudding is using the chemical reaction of ginger juice and milk to harden the pudding. A good milk pudding will harden and stay smooth. It's a really simple dessert to make. Using just a few simple ingredients and thirty minutes later, volia - firm smooth soft gingerly pudding.

Topped with caramalize shredded ginger



5 cups milk (1 cup for each ramekin)
4 tbsp sugar (adjust according to taste)
40g ginger

1. Put ginger in food processor and grind till fine. Or use grate ginger in fine shreds.

2. Put ginger in a cheese cloth and squeeze out the juice into a bowl. Or simply use hands to extract juice.

3. Pour ginger juice through strainer to remove any ginger pieces.

4. Spoon one tablespoon of ginger juice into each ramekin. (set aside)

5. Whisk sugar into milk.

6. Bring milk to a boil. Stir continuously to prevent burning the milk.

7. Pour milk into another pot and back. Do this pouring back and fro for at least ten times. 

8. Pour milk into each ramekin.

9. Leave to cool for approximately 15 minutes.


Tips & Tricks

1. When pouring milk back and fro, do it at a height. The pouring process helps harden the milk.

2. Do not perform the pouring back and fro for more than twenty times. Over pouring will cause the milk to "over-cool".

3. When pouring the milk into the ramekin, do not be gentle. It's ok to have spills. You need to get the ginger juice to mix with the milk.

4. Do not stir the milk after adding into the ginger juice.

5. Do not move the ramekin adding milk to ginger juice. Let them sit and set.

6. The pudding uses a chemical reaction from the ginger juice to set and harden.

7. If your pudding tends to be too watery, try stirring the ginger juice slightly, before pouring in the milk.

8. Caramalize left over ginger shreds by cooking them over low heat with 1 tbsp of sugar. Stir continously until all sugar melted and the ginger are slightly browned.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chwee Kueh - Salty Rice Cake (Singapore Style)

Chwee Kueh

It's an acquired taste. When I was young, my mama would remove all the chai po topping before letting us eat this. I hated this plain white salty cake. So it's no surprise that I hardly ever order this dish whenever I eat out. That was until about fifteen years ago, when Tiong Bahru uncle / auntie changed my mind. Those tender smooth rice cakes topped with fragrant chai po... I was hooked. I had to have Tiong Bahru chwee kuay at least once a month. 

Rice cake with radish topping

For those who never had this dish, it's steam salty rice cake with salty preserved radish as a topping. Yup, sounds like a super salty dish. So, getting the right amount of saltiness in the cake is key. It has to be light enough to support the salty radish - it's like a perfect salty marriage. =)

Tender smooth rice cake with loads of chai po on side

It's been tough when I moved away from Singapore. Obvious to say, I must have chwee kueh whenever I return to Singapore and my dear mama will go Tiong Bahru early morning to buy some chwee kueh for my breakfast. (Yes, I know... I'm totally spoilt!)

I haven't had chwee kueh for closed to two years and had suffered from serious withdrawn symptoms - e.g. having sweet dreams of chwee kueh. It's that bad. Time to act on those dreams.

Heaps of chai po


Rice Flour 150g
Corn Flour 20g
Tap Water 280ml
Oil 2tsp (for rice cake)
Salt 1 1/2 tsp (Spilt into 1/2 tsp for rice cake and 1 tsp for chai po)
Hot Water 800ml

Garlic 50g (chopped)
Preserved Radish 300g (chopped)
Dried Shrimps 20g (pounded or flossed in food processor)
Sugar 3 tbsp
Dark Soy Sauce 1/2 tsp
Oil 3 tbsp (for chai po)

1. Place rice flour and corn flour into a mixing bowl. Use spatula to gently mix the flour together.

2. Make a hole in the middle of the flour and add in 100ml of tap water into the flour. Gently mix in the flour until all water is incorporated.

4. Add in another 100ml of tap water and gently mix in the flour mixture until all water is incorporated.

5. Pour in the remaining tap water. Mix until the batter is smooth with no lumps. Add in more water if it's too lumpy. Set aside.

6. Stir in oil and 1/2 tsp salt into hot water. Bring water to a boil under low heat.

7. Once water start to boil, add in 1/3 of flour mixture. Stir using wooden spatula until combined.

8. Add in another 1/3 of flour mixture. Stir using wooden spatula until combined.

9. Add in remaining flour mixture. Stir continuously until mixture thicken to a gluey consistency.

10. Turn off heat and continue stirring for additional 5 minutes. Set aside.

12. Pour oil into a bowl. Use a paper towel, dipped into the oil and coat the molds.

13. Use a spoon to scoop the flour mixture into the molds. Fill the molds up to 2/3 full.

14. Place molds onto a flat plate and leave mixture to set in molds for 10 minutes.

15. Steam over boiling water for 20 minutes.

16. Leave to cool in molds.

17. Place dried shrimps into food processor. Grind the dried shrimps until flossed. Or use a pound to break dried shrimps into paste.

18. Add garlic and preserved radish into food processor. Using the chop function, chop the garlic and preserved radish into small pieces. Mixing the ingredients at the same time.

19. Heat up  1 tbsp oil. Add in preserved radish mixture and fry till combined.

20. When the oil dry up, add in another tbsp oil and fry till fragrant.

21. Add in remaining oil, sugar, salt and dark soy sauce. Fry till well-combined.

22. Once the rice cake cool, use a paring knife to run across the sides of the mold to remove the cake from the mold.

23. Top the rice cake with preserved radish.


Tips & Tricks

1. If the flour mixture is too thick, add some water to loosen it. Do not add too much water, the cake will turn out too watery.

2. Use a wet spoon to scope the mixture into the molds.

3. Use the back of the wet spoon to smooth the top. Scrape away any batter from the spoon when smoothing the top. This helps create a smooth top.

4. If you don't have molds, you can use small bowls.

5. If you don't have food processor, diced the garlic and preserved radish with knife. Mix the garlic, preserved radish and flossed dried shrimps in a bowl with a spoon.

6. When frying the preserved radish, add some oil if it's looks too dry.

7. Do not remove the cake from the molds when it's hot. The cake will become lumpy and watery. Letting them cool in the molds allow the cake to set.

8. Adapted from Kokken.


My Asian Kitchen

Asian Rice Flour

When buying rice flour, get those from Asia. The texture is slightly different. I got mine from an Asian supermarket for US$1. You can find these near the sugar and flour section.

Refer to Fried Carrot Cake recipe for a picture of the preserved radish.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Green Tea Mousse Cake

Green tea mousse cake

For birthdays, we normally get a mousse cake from a small bakery in Chinatown. It's my husband's favourite cake and cost about $32 for a 9 inch cake. This year, with ample notice from the family, I decided to make one. 

Green tea mousse cake with cake crumbs
I loved family gathering. It's a chance for me to make a bigger cake to share with family and not have to finish it all. Specially during a time where I had been making desserts for the past weeks and my husband and I are on sugar overload; so it's a good time to share. =)

Layer of light airy mousse sitting on top of a layer of soft fluffy cake
After some deliberation, I decide on green tea mousse cake. With one layer of light airy mousse sitting on top of a layer of soft fluffy cake, followed by another layer of cake and mousse and covered with cake crumbs.

My only challenge when making the mousse was gelatin. I hardly ever used them for baking so I found that it take a fair bit of understanding when using them. First, I overcooked them, then I threw them into cold batter causing them to lump up, next I undercooked them... Two batter mixes, four packs of gelatin and loads of cursing later, I'm glad to say the mousse was smooth and light. See below for tips with working them. =)


For cake
4 eggs (separate yolks and whites)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
90g sugar (divide into 40g and 50g portions)
30g milk
50g corn / vegetable oil
90g cake flour
1 tsp green tea powder (a.k.a matcha)

For Mousse
9g gelatin (1 envelope)
3 1/2 tbsp water
225g milk
110g sugar
2 1/2 tsp green tea powder
6 egg yolks
2 cups cold heavy whipping cream

For Cake
1. Whisk 40g sugar and egg yolks together until well-combined.Set aside.

2. Whisk milk and oil together. Add into egg yolks mixture. Whisk until well-combined.

3. Sifted flour and green tea powder into egg yolks mixture. Whisk until everything is incorporated. Set aside.

4. Add cream of tartar into egg white.

5. Using a whisk attachment on stand mixer or electric hand mixer, whisk egg white till foamy.

6. Add in 1 tbsp sugar. Whisk until sugar is fully incorporated on medium high speed. About 1 minute.

7. Add in another 1 tbsp of sugar. Whisk until sugar is fully incorporated on medium high speed. About 1 minute.

8. Add in all remaining sugar. Set on high speed and beat until stiff peak. About 3 minutes.

9. Using a spatula, take 1/3 of egg whites and fold into the egg yolks mixture until well-combined. There should be no streaks of egg whites.

10. Make a hole in the middle of the remaining egg whites, pour in the egg yolks mixture.

11. Fold in the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until well-combined.

12. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper on the bottom. Pour in the batter. (Do not use non-stick pan)

13. Bake for 30 minutes in a 330 F preheat oven.

14. Leave to cool to room temperature before removing from pan.

For Mousse
15. Pour water in a small bowl. Add gelatin to water. Do not stir. Set aside for 5 minutes.

16. Heat milk under low heat.

17. Mix sugar and green tea powder together.

18. Once milk start boiling, add in sugar. Whisk until well-combined and no lumps.

19. Remove from stove and whisk egg yolks quickly until well-combined.

20. Return mixture to stove and cook for 30 seconds under low heat. Whisking continuously.

21. Pour mixture through a sift to remove any lumps and over-cooked eggs. Set aside.

22. Place gelatin mix in microwave and cook for 20 ~ 25 seconds.

23. Add gelatin mix into egg mixture. Whisk until well-combined. Leave to cool to room temperature.

24. Using a whisk attachment on stand mixer or electric hand mixer, whisk the cream till stiff peak. Leave to cool to room temperature.

25. Make a hole in the middle of the cream and pour in the egg mixture.

26. Fold the cream into the egg mixture until well-combined.

27. Use a paring knife, go across the side of the cake pan to loosen the cake from pan.

28. Remove cake from pan. Cut cake into two layers.

27. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper on the bottom and side.

28. Place one layer of cake to the bottom of the pan.

29. Pour 1/2 of the mousse in the pan, on top of the bottom layer of cake.

30. Cover pan with cling wrap and place into fridge for 15 minutes. Letting the bottom layer of mousse set slightly.

31. Place another layer of cake into the pan, on top of the bottom layer of mousse.

32. Pour the remaining mousse into the pan, on top of the top layer of cake.

33. Cover pan with cling wrap and place into fridge. Leave to set for at least 6 hours. Best to leave overnight.

34. Served chill.


Tips & Tricks

1. When cooling cake, leave the cake upside down. This will prevent the cake from sinking in the middle.

2. Do not use non-stick pan. The cake need to stick to the sides in order to rise.

3. After adding gelatin to water, do not stir. Let the gelatin set slowly.

4. Use cool water, not cold but slightly cooler than room temperature. I use cold tap water.

5. When cooking the gelatin in microwave, do it in two separate session. Put it in and cook for 15 seconds. Remove from microwave and swirl the bowl gently for 5 seconds. Place it back to the microwave and cook for another 10 seconds.

6. Make sure the milk is warm when adding gelatin. Cold milk will cause the gelatin to become lumpy.

7. Make sure the whipped cream is at room temperature before adding the milk. Cold cream will cause the gelatin to be lumpy.

8. When assembling the cake, it's best to use a pan with removable bottom. This allow for easy removable of cake. Alternatively, you can use a 9 inch mold set over a baking sheet.


My Baking Pantry

Matcha - Green tea powder
Matcha (green tea powder) is often used for baking. I got my matcha from a local Asian supermarket in the tea section. You can easily get green tea powder online (e.g. Amazon).

It is not the same green tea leaf. You cannot achieve the taste and texture of matcha by grinding green tea leaves. For baking purposes, you need to use matcha.

Ingredients - Green tea leaves

When buying matcha, check the ingredients on the package. Often there is a milk matcha powder which is basically green tea with milk. This cannot be used for baking as the milk powder will affect the texture of the cake or cookie. Make sure the ingredient of your package states only green tea.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cream Cheese Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red velvet cupcakes
I wanted to make something fun for the kids. So I got out some ice-cream cones and decided to make cupcakes with them. 

Red velvet ice-cream cone
They turned out great! I piped cream cheese on the top which looked like ice cream and served them to the kids. At first sight, they screamed "Ice-Cream" and rushed for them. Seconds later, they were licking the cream cheese just like ice-cream.

These cupcakes were great with kids. Since it doesn't melt, there's no mess to clean up after and can be made in advance for parties. You can use any flavor of cupcakes. I made red velvet as these are my husband's favorite. Enjoy some cupcakes for your next party. =)

Red velvet cupcakes


For Red Velvet Cupcake
125g sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp liquid red food coloring
1/4 cup butter (at room temperature)
150g sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp white distilled vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda
16 ice-cream cones

Cream Cheese Frosting
227g cream cheese (at room temperature and cut into 1 inch cube)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 sifted powdered sugar (sifted)
160 ml cold heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with ice-cream cones.

2. Sifted flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder together. Set aside.

3. Whisk buttermilk and food coloring until well combined. Set aside.

4. Use a paddle attachment on stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat butter till soft.

5. Add sugar and beat till light and fluffy.

6. Add egg and vanilla extract. Beat until incorporated.

7. Set mixer to low speed and add in 1/3 of flour. Beat until incorporated. (about 3 minutes)

8. Add in 1/2 of buttermilk. Beat until incorporated. (about 3 minutes)

9. Add in 1/3 of flour. Beat until incorporated. (about 3 minutes)

10. Add in remaining buttermilk. Beat until incorporated. (about 3 minutes)

11. Add in remaining flour. Beat until well combined. (about 5 minutes)

12. Place baking soda in a small bowl or cup. Pour in vinegar.

13. Use a spoon to stir in all baking soda quickly and pour into batter. (Should take no more than 5 seconds)

14. Fold the baking soda into cake batter.

15. Spoon batter into cones. Fill up to 1/3 of the cones.

16. Bake for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

17. Leave to cool on cooling rack.

18. Use a paddle attachment on stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.

19. Add in vanilla essence and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth.

20. Replace the paddle attachment with whisk attachment on stand mixer.

21. Add in heavy cream and whip until frosting is thick.

22. Pipe the cream cheese onto cake.


Tips & Tricks

1. Sifted flour before measuring.

2. Baking soda and vinegar has to be incorporated quickly into the batter. The frizz will help the cake to rise.

3. Get the cakes into oven quickly to make sure the frizz in the baking soda is maintained.

4. Make sure cream cheese is at room temperature. If it's too cold, lumps will form.

5. Cutting cream cheese into cubes help prevents lumps from forming.

6. If cream cheese frosting is too wet, add in cream to thicken it.

7. If cream cheese frosting is too thick, add in some powdered sugar to loosen it.

8. Served at room temperature.

9. Adapted from Joy of Baking. See below video for complete demonstration.


My Baking Pantry

Cake Flour
I got my cake flour from Target. This is a common cake flour brand in USA. Cake flour loosen the cake cake making it lighter and airier.

Friday, September 14, 2012

In my kitchen - Spatula

The term spatula is used to refer to various small implements with a broad, flat, flexible blade used to mix, spread and lift materials including foods, drugs, plaster and paints. (Extracted from Wikipedia)

Size of spatula - compared to a soup spoon

Most of us have at least one spatula at home. I have three. Why three? Well, I got a cheap one for baking, an expensive one for cooking and a mini one for "scraping".

Daiso Spatula
My cheapo spatula cost $1.50 from Daiso. It's my favourite. It's cheap, easy to use and right size for me. I use it for most of my baking from scraping down my mixing bowl, folding in baking mix to filling up molds. My previous trusty spatula served me well until I melted it when trying to stir a boiling mixture over the stove. Lesson learnt - not to be used for anything hot. I think the max. temperature is 200F. Well, lucky for me, it's so cheap that I always buy an extra one to keep.

Rubbermaid Spatula
With the Daiso one melting way, I need to get one for cooking - at least one that can withstand temperature higher than 200F. After checking reviews from American Test Kitchen, I bought a Rubbermaid silicone spatula. At a price of US$11, this spatula has the power to withstand heat up to 600F. However, this spatula is bigger and longer than my Daiso one. I find myself having a more difficult time manoeuvring the Rubbermaid and only use it for cooking or hot mixture.

Tovolo Mini Spatula

Lastly, I got a pair of mini silicone spatula from Tovolo on an impulse for US$4. It's so small - size of a teaspoon that it can hardly do anything with it. I only used it to scrape any leftover on my stand mixer whisk or paddle. It is soft and small, thus, able to reach those small gaps between the whisk and paddle. Thus, I would not recommend getting this.

On the overall, if I could get only one spatula, I would get the rubbermaid one as that can be used for both cooking and baking. Now I need to head to Daiso to get a spare spatula. =)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tonkatsu - Pork Cutlet

Tonkatsu is mainly fried pork chops covered in breadcrumbs. Another common name for it in Aisa is pork cutlet.

I haven't made Tonkatsu since my last failed attempt. It was horrible - the skin was soggy and fell off the meat when cut. It was so bad that my husband banned "it" from our kitchen. ;p

So, I hesitated to try this new recipe from America's Test Kitchen ("ATS"). I wouldn't call it Tonkatsu as traditional Tonkatsu uses Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), this recipe from ATS uses cereal. After reading the recipe, it seems to solve the problems that I had in my earlier failed attempt, so I decided I shall give it a try.

Pork Cutlet

The end results - juicy pork chops with crispy skin that stick to the meat. Success! My husband loves them. =) I glad to have given them a second chance.

BTW, the video for making chops is currently still available on ATS (as at 9/13/2012), you can check out the video for clearer instructions. However, I find that the cornflakes can only make up to 4 chops instead of 8 chops per the ATS recipe. 


4 pieces center-cut boneless pork chops - approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (about 1 pound)
2/3 cup cornstarch (divide into two 1/3 cup)
3 cups cornflakes
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cooking oil 

1. Place cornflakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/3 cup cornstarch into food processor. Grind for about 15 seconds or until finely grounded. Place in shallow dish or plate.

2. Whisk Dijon mustard, garlic and buttermilk together until combined. Place in shallow dish or plate.

3. Place 1/3 cup cornstarch in shallow dish or plate.

4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees.

5. Clean and dry pork chops. Using a knife, create slits in crosshatch pattern on both sides of the pork chops.

6. Season each pork chop with salt and pepper. About 1/4 tsp per chop.

7. Take 1 chop and coat in cornstarch. Shake off excess.

8. Dredge the chop into buttermilk. Use a fork to pick up the chop and let excess drip off.

9. Transfer the chop to the cornflakes mixture. Coat the chop with the cornflakes mix.

10. Place the coated chop on a wire rack. Repeat until all chops are coated.

11. Let the chops rest on wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

12. Heat 1/3 cup oil in a skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

13. Place 2 chops into skillet and cook until golden brown and crispy.

14. Using a tong, carefully flip the chop and cook until the second side is golden brown.

15. Use an instant-read thermometer, check that the center of chop is 140 degrees.

16. Transfer the chops to a plate lined with paper towel.

17. Let the chops rest for 30 seconds on each side.

18. Transfer to a clean wire rack set over baking sheet. Transfer to oven to keep warm.

19. Discard oil in skillet and wipe clean with paper towels.

20. Repeat the process with the remaining oil and pork chops.

21. Transfer to oven to keep warm until ready to serve.


Tips and  Tricks

1. The mustard gave the chops a tangy flavour which I like. You may omit or reduce the portion of Dijon mustard.

2. When coating the cornflakes, you may want to divide the cornflakes into two portion. Use the first portion to coat 2 slices of chops and the second for remaining chops. This way, the cornflakes are not too wet from the buttermilk when you reached your final chop.

3. Do not rest the chops on paper towel for too long. Keep them resting on paper towel for less than 30 seconds on each side. Quickly transfer to wire rack. Over-rested chops will cause the crust to fall off.

4. If you don't have a food processor, place the cornflakes, cornstarch, salt and pepper into a ziplock bag. Use a rolling pin to crush the cornflakes into fine crumbs. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Strawberry Mochi (Ichigo Daifuku)

Strawberry Mochi - Ichigo Daifuku
I have a box of strawberries dying in my fridge. Yup - it's like 2 weeks old, very close to being "certified". I got to do something with them, but it's a lazy day for me. Regardless, I checked my pantry and found the box of Mochiko flour. Quick and simple - I decided it's Mochi time.

Japanese Mochi - Daifuku
Mochi is a very popular Japanese snack and you can often find a box of it in any Japanese or Asian supermarket. It's normally filled with red-bean or sesame fillings. I like mine with red bean (Azuki) fillings. It wasn't until recently, I discovered the Strawberry Mochi. WOW - it's soft chewy skin filled with Azuki wrapped around a crunchy juicy strawberry! I have one word for it WOW! It's ingenious... perfect combination.

Trio of Mochi
Time to impress the friends and family with this easy dessert. =)


8 strawberries (medium size - about 1 inch each)
200g pre-made sweet red bean paste
1 cup Mochiko flour / Glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cup cornstarch

1. Wash and dry the strawberries.

2. Remove the head (i.e. the leaf and stem) of the strawberries. Use a paper towel to pat dry the strawberries.

3. Divide the red bean paste into 8 small balls. (About 25g each)

4. Wrap each strawberries with the red bean balls. Leave the tip of the strawberry uncovered.

5. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix the flour, sugar and water. Stir well until the mixture is well-combined.

6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place into microwave for 1 minute.

7. Remove and mix with a wet spoon or spatula.

8. Return bowl back to microwave for another 1 minute. Now mixture has turned sticky with some white parts.

9. Remove and mix with a a wet spoon or spatula.

10. Return bowl back to microwave for a further 30 seconds. Now the mixture should be sticky and translucent. Mixture has turned into mochi.

11. Cover your work surface with plastic wrap. Spread 1 cup of corn starch onto the plastic wrap. Put mochi on top.

12. Dust 1/4 cup of cornstarch on top of the mochi. Let cool for 1 minute.

13. Dust the spatula or your hands with cornstarch and fold the mochi into half. Dust 1/4 cup of cornstarch on top of mochi.

14. Dust a rolling pin with cornstarch. Roll out the mochi into 1/2 inch thick.

15. Use a round cookie cutter or a small bowl, cut the mochi into 8 circles.

16. Put the mochi on top of the strawberry - one at a time, covering the tip of the strawberry.

17. Start covering the strawberry by pulling the mochi to the bottom. When all ends of the mochi meet, twist and close.

18. Repeat until all strawberries are wrapped in mochi.

19. Served at room temperature. Do not chill / refrigerate the mochi.


 Tips and tricks

1. Cut the strawberries such that it will stand flat on the top.

2. Make sure that the strawberries are completely dried before wrapping in red bean paste. The paste will not stick to wet strawberries.

3. The red bean paste will stick to your hands. Use a damp paper towel to wipe your hands after making each red bean balls. This way you will get them nicely shape each time.

4. Mochi sticks to everything. Make sure your hands, utensils and work surface is well covered with cornstarch.

5. Coated the rolling pin with cornstarch as you start rolling. This has to be done a few times to prevent the mochi from sticking as it spread out.

6. You can check out the video below on how to wrap the mochi.


My Japanese Kitchen

Mochiko Flour

Mochiko flour, a.k.a. Sweet rice flour is often used for making mochi. Some mochi recipes may asked for Glutinous rice flour but this can be used instead. If buying glutinous rice flour, make sure to get the Japanese brands as their texture is slightly different from the Asian or Chinese ones.

The Japanese glutinous rice flour can be quite expensive - a pack of 120 grams cost US$5 in Mitsuwa. The Mochiko flour is much cheaper and does the job. I got my Mochiko flour (454 grams) for US$2 at the local Asian supermarket.

You should find the Mochiko flour next to all the sugar and flour in your local Asian supermarket. I can only find the Japanese glutinous rice flour in Japanese supermarket.

Red Bean Paste
There are two kinds of red bean paste - coarse (as shown as above) and fine. I used the brand Shirakiku which makes both types of the red bean paste. The coarse paste is known as Tsubu An and the fine paste is Anko Koshian. The key difference between both types is that you can find bits of red beans in the coarse paste while the fine paste is smooth without any bits.

Most times, you can use the both version interchangeably. Personally, I prefer to use the fine version for mochi and the coarse version for making pastry.