Friday, November 29, 2013

stir-fried tang hoon with pork belly, prawns and vegetables

I like tang hoon. It is not my favourite noodle, but it makes a nice change from the yellow noodles and the kuay teows and that, coupled with the fact that it is a really easy noodle to cook, makes it my go-to when I am in a rush or at a loss as to what to cook for lunch or dinner.

This dish cooked up in 10 minutes.

The first thing I did was to marinate the pork with light soy sauce, sesame oil, grounded white pepper and corn flour.

I also shelled and de-veined some prawns, and shredded a carrot and cut a bunch of vegetables.

In a wok, I sauteed some minced garlic for about 30 seconds.

I added the pork and continued to stir-fry for another 2- 3 minutes.

Then in went the prawns, carrot and vegetables.

Once the vegetables had wilted, I added the tang hoon which had been soaked in boiling water for 2 minutes and then drained.

I added fish sauce, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and grounded white pepper. And mixed everything together.


I served the tang hoon immediately.

A quick and easy but totally satisfying meal!

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Stir-fried Tang Hoon with Pork Belly, Prawns and Vegetables (Serves 2)

250g pork belly (or chicken breast), sliced
1 bunch green leafy vegetables, cut - I used xiao bai cai
1/2 carrot, shredded
5 prawns, shelled and deveined
3 small bunches tang hoon, soaked in boiling water for 2 minutes and drained
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Marinade for pork (or chicken):
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
dash of grounded white pepper
1 teaspoon corn flour

1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon grounded white pepper

1. Heat oil in wok. Saute minced garlic for 30 seconds. Add pork and continue to stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add prawns, carrots and vegetables.
3. Once the vegetables have wilted, add tang hoon.
4. Add seasoning and stir-fry to mix everything.
5. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

I have been asked on many occasions - how to make Red Velvet Cupcakes.

I am not a huge cake-person. I would taste what I bake to be sure the bakes are edible, but I rarely order desserts, or sit down to eat cake. I like baking them a lot though. :)

Traditionally, red velvet cakes were made with beetroot, hence the deep, red colour, but (I can hear the LAM laughing hysterically right now) I absolutely, 100%, detest beetroot. So if I had to use beetroot, I would never, ever have made these cupcakes.

Thankfully, we have now evolved (some might say degenerated) and beetroot has largely been replaced with red food colouring.

Yay for me, Boo for food purists.

All that aside, red velvet cupcakes are really easy to make. I whipped these up in 15 minutes, baked them, cooled them and frosted them.

Easy, peasy.

To start, I added the vegetable oil, buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract and vinegar in the mixing bowl of a food processor. I used the paddle attachment of the mixer to mix everything.

In the meantime, I sifted flour with baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. I added the sugar to this as well.

This was added to the wet ingredients in 2 or 3 additions.

And finally I added red food colouring. And mixed.

Using an ice cream scoop, I ladled the batter into cupcake liners.

The cupcakes were baked for about 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cakes emerged cleanly.

The cupcakes were transferred onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, I whisked cream cheese with unsalted butter.

And vanilla extract.

And finally, the sifted icing sugar. Until I had achieved a consistency that I could use for piping.

All that was left was to frost the cupcakes.

And eat.

Did I not tell you this was really easy? :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway ends on Monday, December 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. Singapore time. The winner will be selected by and contacted by email. Prizes must be collected before 31 January 2014 at Tanah Merah Kechil Ave. If there is no response after 48 hours, another winner will be selected. Open to Singapore residents only.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Makes 12)
Loosely adapted from Saveur

For the cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder - I used Valrhona
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cups vegetable oil - I used canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon red food coloring - I used Wilton Red-Red
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar - I used white wine vinegar

For the Frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
3 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 - 3 cups icing sugar, sifted

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar until well combined. (I added food colouring after I had mixed the wet and dry ingredients so that I had better control of the colour.)
3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
4. Distribute the batter evenly between the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 20-25 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
6. For the frosting, use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract. Add the icing sugar in batches until well combined.
7. Spoon frosting into a pastry bag  and slowly pipe onto the cupcake, starting from the outside and working your way in a circular motion into the center.
8. Refrigerate if not eating immediately.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

chicken masala

One of my best friends, Bal, has 7 sisters. Of all her sisters, two of them, sisters #1 and #2 are really, really fantastic cooks. It is part of my evil plan to learn how to cook Indian dishes from them, and last week, one of these super-cooks sisters, Kulwant, came to visit me. While she was here, she taught me how to make chicken masala.

I admit that I have very little knowledge when it comes to cooking Indian food. I have tried making a couple of dishes on my own using recipes I had found online but nothing ever came out tasting like what they should. And the problem is, I have no idea where I had gone wrong.

Since it was an impromptu cooking lesson, I discovered that I did not have enough red onions, which are basically the soul of this dish. What I had, though, was a big bag of peeled shallots. So we sliced them up and used them instead.

I have decided that I would only use shallots when I cook Indian food from now on. :)

The spices needed are cinnamon, cardamom and cumin.

Into a casserole, I added some oil and the cinnamon.

Once the cinamon had turned a darker shade of brown, the cumin was added.

And about a minute or so later, the cardamom joined in.

These were stirred around for a few minutes. Soon I was able to smell the aroma of the spices.

Here's Kulwant slicing more shallots. :)
This was when the shallots were added.

Just keep stirring them over low heat until they have caramelised. This is very important - you don't want the taste of raw onions in your curry!

I added curry powder. I like this one. And some chilli powder.

Since I did not have tomatoes, we added about 1/3 of a can of chopped tomatoes.

And seasoned with salt and coarsely ground pepper.

The paste can be cooked till this stage (but omit the tomatoes) and kept frozen until needed.

I had some skinless, boneless chicken thighs so I added that to the paste. And stirred to mix.

Then we added some hot water (I wanted more gravy, so we added more water) and bay leaves, gave everything a stir, and cooked the chicken, covered, over low heat for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken was cooked through and was tender.

Finally, we added some yogurt and stirred that into the curry. If you do not want to add yogurt, you can also add ground cashews to thicken the curry.

This is simple to cook, but so very very tasty!!

Have you taken part in my cake giveaway? If not do hope over here to take part!

Chicken Masala (Serves 4-6)
Recipe from my friend, Kulwant Kaur

4 chicken legs, boneless and skinless, cut into smaller pieces
3-4 large onions, sliced
1 stick cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cumin
10 cardamom pods, discard shells
2 tomatoes, or 1/3 can chopped tomatoes
2 heaped tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, more if you prefer it to be more spicy
4 bay leaves
2 heaped tablespoons yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup hot water, more if you prefer more gravy

1. Heat vegetable oil in casserole. Add cinnamon. Once cinnamon had turned a darker shade of brown, add cumin and stir for a minute. Add cardamom and cook for a few minutes, until you can smell the spices.
2. Add onions. Cook over low heat until onions have caramelised, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Add curry powder, chilli powder, salt, pepper, chopped tomatoes. Stir to mix.
4. Add chicken, stir to coat. Add water and bay leaves. Stir to mix.
5. Cook, covered, over low heat for about 20-30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and is tender.
6. Stir in yoghurt to thicken the curry.
7. Serve immediately, with rice or bread.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

swiss meringue buttercream

The first time I made Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I did a ton of research and finally went to the kitchen with a recipe that I felt was pretty good.

It was not a disaster, but I was so worried about the entire process because the way the steps were described sounded so complicated that I did not enjoy making the buttercream at all.

What I did like, though, was how the buttercream tasted. It was not overly sweet, and it was so so smooth! In addition to that, it was a dream to pipe. But I have to say, the best part of it all was that the buttercream is stable and holds its shape well in the weather in Singapore, so that means it can sit outside the fridge for quite a while and not melt into a mess. Having said that, I do not recommend that you leave it in direct sunlight or in the heat for too long!

I like to make a big batch of buttercream because it freezes really well. I mean, if you are going to go through the effort of making the buttercream, you might as well make more so you do not have to make it too often!

I made some quick and easy (but very tasty) chocolate cupcakes recently and piped swiss meringue buttercream on them. I didn't post the recipe for the buttercream with it because (1) I didn't think many people would be interested; and (2) the post would have been very, very long.

But people did ask, and since there is interest, I am more than happy to share how to make this super yummy buttercream!

I am going to teach you how to make this buttercream. It is actually very simple, but it definitely involves more steps than making an American buttercream.

To start, cut the butter into cubes and set them aside. The butter has to be soft and cool, but not cold.

Place the egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl. I prefer metal because it conducts heat well, but any heatproof bowl would also work.

The bowl was placed over a pot that contained a little water that was simmering - the water must NEVER touch the base of the bowl!!

Using an electrical hand whisk, start whisking the mixture. I do not recommend that you do this by hand. I think your arm would probably fall off. But then again, you may have super strong arms and want to whip this by hand. If so, by all means please do! :)
And kept on whisking. The volume of the egg whites will increase, and the colour will lighten.

Once all the sugar has completely dissolved, the mixture is ready for the next step. You can rub some of the mixture between your thumb and finger to check if there is any unmelted sugar.

Very carefully, transfer the egg whites into a mixing bowl.

Then using the WHISK attachment, whisk the egg whites on HIGH speed.
Keep whisking until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm. This is very important and you must not start adding the butter until this happens.
Then using the PADDLE attachment of my mixer, start mixing and adding the butter 4 cubes at a time, also on HIGH speed
Just keep mixing and adding the butter.

Until all the butter has been used up.

Potential problem #1: Sometimes the mixture would look like it had curdled. Worry not!! Just keep mixing and it will come together and become smooth.

Potential problem #2: If the mixture is too runny, place the mixture in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes, then continue mixing.
Finally, add the vanilla extract and salt, and beat on slow until they are well-incorporated.
And you will have buttercream which you can use immediately, or freeze until it is needed!

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Giveaway ends on Monday, December 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. Singapore time. The winner will be selected by and contacted by email. Prizes must be collected before 31 January 2014 at Tanah Merah Kechil Ave. If there is no response after 48 hours, another winner will be selected. Open to Singapore residents only.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Makes approximately 3 1/2 cups)
Adapted from bakersroyale

5 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup (300g) sugar
454g unsalted butter, sliced and softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) vanilla extract

Combine egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and place it over (not on) simmering water. Heat mixture to 160F while whisking constantly.
Transfer mixer bowl to stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium high speed  until mixture cools, doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks; about 10-12 minutes.
Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled looking at first—this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again.
Add salt and flavoring, mix to combine.

NOTE: I keep the buttercream frozen in smaller air-tight containers to be used as and when needed. The buttercream would be thawed overnight in the fridge, then brought to room temperature before being whisked for a short while, then used as required.