Friday 31 January 2014

Crispy Crab Sticks

As usual, as the Chinese New Year is drawing nearer, I notice bottles of cookies & snacks here & there at the workplace.... I also hear updates of what's baking, frying & buying for the celebrations. 

My colleague, Sharon, has been raving about the crispy crab sticks she made. I was not aware of such snack before she told me about it. She encouraged me to make it because she emphasised, confidently, that it's not only delicious, it's also very easy to make! It's also way cheaper to make it at home because, apparently, it's on sale for more than $10 per bottle! So I made it two nights ago & again this morning. Sharon is right, it's one of the easiest snack to make! But beware, like any delicious snack, it's very addictive!

Before I leave you with the recipe, I would like to wish all Chinese readers Happy Lunar New Year! Have a joyous & safe celebration!

Crispy Crab Sticks

imitation crab sticks (thawed, if frozen)
vegetable oil for deep frying

  1. Shred the crab sticks into thin strips.
  2. Heat oil over medium fire.
  3. Place shredded crab sticks, a small amount at a time, into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown.
  4. Once brown, remove & place on paper kitchen towel to drain.
  5. Leave to cool down completely. Store in an air-tight container.
  • Fry over medium fire, not high, as the crackers will turn brown quite fast.
  • Don't fry too much of the shredded sticks at one time so that it's easier to separate & turn the shredded pieces when frying in the oil.
I’m submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers No. 39: CNY Rock & Roll! (Jan 2014) hosted by Food Playground.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Turkish Pide...... again!

My family & I love the Turkish Pide that I made in December. I've been itching to make it again especially since my husband didn't get to taste it then as he was out of town. So last weekend, I baked 3 pitas for lunch. I decided to try a different recipe for the filling because I wanted one which would produce more flavour. So I googled & found a recipe which looked promising. 

It turned out to be a great choice. It definitely had more flavour than the previous recipe. Besides requiring a long list of  ingredients, the filling also needs to be cooked first before placing it onto the dough. As for the dough, I decided to use the same recipe because I think it's excellent!

Turkish Pide
(makes 3 large pieces)

Pide dough
60g water
1 & 1/2 tsp instant yeast
375g bread flour
60g yoghurt
90g milk
3 tsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
olive oil for brushing on baked pita

  1. Dissolve yeast in water. Set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer, combine flour, yeast mixture, yoghurt, milk & sugar.
  3. Mix using the dough hook, on low to medium speed, until just combined. Add olive oil & continue mixing until well combined. Then add salt & continue mixing until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand. 
  4. Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 
  5. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. (If you are not using a pizza stone, place pita onto an inverted baking tray before placing it into the oven for baking.) Preheat the oven to 200°C for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.
  6. Remove the plastic cover from the dough and punch the dough down so it deflates a bit. Divide the dough into 3 parts. Form 3 round balls of dough. Cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes.
  7. Take a ball of dough & roll out into an oval, 5mm thick. Place it on a baking paper which is placed on a peel (if using a baking stone) or an inverted baking tray. Put filling on the dough, leaving 1-inch border. Fold the sides in & apply the ends with water & pinch together. Crack an egg onto the center of filling.
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the pita turns golden brown. 
  9. Remove pita from oven & brush the crust with olive oil. Serve warm.
Adapted from Table for two.... or more.

The above pictures are taken from my previous Turkish Pide post.

1 tsp olive oil
350g minced beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground coriander
1 pinch strands saffron
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 tsp parsley flakes
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
fresh mint leaves (chopped)
salt and black pepper
3 eggs (Do not cook with the above ingredients.)

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Fry the beef until brown. 
  3. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Stir in the tomato puree, ginger, coriander, saffron, cinnamon & parsley.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes & mint leaves. Season with black pepper and salt & cook for a further 10 minutes until almost dry.
Adapted from recipe by Paul Hollywood.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Fudgy Brownies

My eldest daughter was in the mood to bake some brownies last Sunday. She found a recipe on the internet, the one she thought would meet her criteria of an ideal brownie: dense & fudgy with a cracked crust. She was lucky as the brownie did meet her expectations! It's moist, intensely chocolaty & not overly sweet.  Just eat it on its own or serve it with ice-cream!

Fudgy Brownies 
145 g (10 tbsps) unsalted butter
250 g (1 1/4 cups)  granulated sugar
65 g (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process) - We used Valrhona.
1/4 rounded tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
70 g (1/2 cup)  all-purpose flour
75 g ( 2/3 cup) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) - We used pecans & pistachio nuts.

  1. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F (163 C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (We used 7-inch.) square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. This helps when removing the baked brownies from the pan, once cooled. 
  2. Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat water until barely simmering. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl. Rest bowl over simmering water (if the bottom of the bowl touches the water, remove a little water).
  3. Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks gritty, it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour.
  4. Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot.
  5. Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then, add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
  6. When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until fully incorporated, then beat with the wooden spoon or spatula for 40 to 50 strokes. (The batter will be quite thick). Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in lined pan.
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out almost clean (you want it to be a little moist with batter). Note: Some have found they need to bake an extra 10 minutes, so keep an eye on the doneness of the brownies and use the toothpick test as your guide.
  8. Cool completely then remove from pan. For the cleanest lines when cutting, place into freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up. Cut into 16 squares.
Recipe by Joanne.

Sunday 26 January 2014

White Nectarine / Banana Mini Cupcakes

The inevitable has happened to me........ my Indian curry puff  pictures were used, without my consent, by a company to promote its baking course in its Facebook page. I discovered it only because I happen to 'like' the page. When I first saw the posts in which my pictures were used, I could not believe my eyes! Just to be sure, I had to ask my husband if he recognised the pictures!
I've read about other bloggers whose pictures have been used by others in facebook pages, magazines, restaurant menus & banners, but I just could not believe myself when a registered company which obviously has invested a substantial amount of funds in it, boasts a fully-equipped kitchen for rental & has more than 10 000 fb page likes, would steal pictures from a small fry like me! Clearly, this company has integrity issues!
What makes me more furious is, it was a double whammy for me. Not only did the company steal my pictures, it also deceived me & more than 10 000 fans by using beautiful pictures, that I now realise are not all theirs, to sigh up for their courses! After dropping a few comments all over the page, I received an apology from  the company & it explained that it had "overlooked" the use of my pictures. 'Overlooked', to me, is an understatement....
Anyway, now my pictures have all been removed from the page, so I'm done with this unpleasant episode. It's my first, & hopefully, it'll be my last.

And now to my baking episode.......  I baked White Nectarine mini cupcakes two weeks ago. Had wanted to post the recipe last week but my hectic schedule was in the way. I had wanted to use up some fragrant white nectarines in the fridge, so I baked these delightful mini cakes. Since there were not enough nectarines to top all the cakes, I used sliced bananas for some. Not surprisingly, the ones with bananas tasted sweeter & turned out more fragrant. I like the banana topping better. So here is the recipe.

The cupcakes with sliced banana topping,  I prefer these....

White Nectarine Mini Cupcakes

1 cup cake flour or all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
orange zest from 1 orange
1/3 cup milk + 1/2 tsp vinegar (or 1/3 cup buttermilk)
3-4 ripe white nectarines (or other fruits like peaches, bananas or strawberries), peeled and sliced thin
3 tablespoons turbinado  sugar (I used dry demerara sugar.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease mini muffin tin (for 24 muffins) with baking spray or butter.
  2. Combine milk & vinegar & leave aside. The mixture will curdle after a while.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder & salt in a small bowl.
  4. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the brown sugar & butter together for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and orange zest on low speed. Scrape down the sides.
  5. With the mixer running on low speed, alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk until just combined. Scrape down the sides and stir by hand briefly to make sure the batter is evenly mixed.
  6. Distribute the batter into the muffin cups and flatten the tops. Place a few slices of nectarine on top of each cake and press slightly into the batter. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar generously on top of each cake.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Makes 24 mini cakes.

Recipe adapted from Savory Simple.
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