Sunday, December 26, 2010

Simple to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies

Blessed Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Joyous 2011!

So recently I added another 'gadget' to my collection of 'gadgets'. This gadget does not come from the Ikea family instead I got it from a small shop known as The Kitchen at Tropicana Mall. You see I've been wanting a Cookie Sheet for a while now. Yes, the flat metal pan which cookies are baked in.

The one I had didn't get along with me. I tried baking cookies with that a couple of times and they always turned out burnt at the bottom. So I wanted a new one which I believed would yield better results. And boy was I right!

So here is said cookie sheet with Christmassy frame. I put it to the test the day after I bought it. I turned to one of the recipe books I had won back in October to try out something from there.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes about 30 cookies)
What you need:
180g plain flour (sifted)
1 tsp baking powder (sifted)
140g butter
80g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g chocolate chips
70g chopped walnuts

What to do in 4 easy steps:
Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease your cookie sheet or baking tray.

Step 1

Put butter and sugar in mixing bowl. Be sure butter is soft and at room temperature which means remove from fridge at least 20-30 minutes in advance.

Cream with mixer until light and fluffy like this:

Add egg and vanilla essence and continue beating. Mix in sifted flour and baking powder and continue to beat.

Step 2
Mix in chocolate chips and walnuts to the batter.

Note: I recently made this Classic Chocolate Cake for my sister's birthday and had some leftover dark chocolate. So instead of using chocolate chips, I just chopped up the dark chocolate to bits and used them instead.

This is what I had:

I chopped it up to bits (with small chunks), added in the chopped nuts and mixed with a spatula.

Step 3
Drop dough with a teaspoon on a greased baking tray.

Step 4
Bake at 180C for 15 to 20 minutes. I baked mine for 15 minutes only.

Allow cookies to cool on a wire rack.

#1: You can omit the walnuts, but if you don't wish to, then pre-roast the walnuts first in a preheated oven at 160C for about 8-10 minutes (before mixing in with batter).
#2: Drop only a teaspoon full of batter on the baking tray. Otherwise the cookies would turn out quite large. I prefer my cookies smaller in size.

The crunchiness of the cookies was just right! Also they were not too sweet.
They go great dunked in a mug of steaming hot coffee!!

Happy Holidays all!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Homemade Chicken Soup

I have never made chicken soup. Until now. And all I can say is I followed a damn good recipe hence I was very satisfied with the outcome. For that, I have a specific blogger to thank. She is a very good cook and a highly talented baker. I call her Ann. You can call her that blogger who inspired The Sudden Cook to make chicken soup.

The reason I wanted to try her recipe was because it reminded me alot of the type of soup my mum used to make for us growing up. Whenever one of us was sick, the others would silently jump for joy cause we knew then that 'homemade chicken soup' was gonna be on the table.

Homemade Chicken Soup (taken from Ann's blog known as Fabulous Sugar)

What you need:
1 small chicken
2.5 litres of water
2 inches fresh ginger (sliced)
6 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 medium onion
1 carrot cubed
2 medium potatoes cubed
20 black peppercorns (whole)
Pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste

Tip: Chop up ingredients such as onions, ginger, garlic (crushed), carrots and potatoes and have them ready.

What to do:

1) Cut chicken in small pieces (I got the lady from the 'pasar segar' to do it for me). Once home, set aside meaty pieces for another dish. Choose bony pieces to use for the soup. Cut away any additional fat and skin. Wash the pieces.
Note: Be sure there are enough chicken pieces being used to make the soup otherwise the soup will not be flavourful enough.

2) Put a pot large enough for making soup on medium fire. Put in onions, ginger and lastly garlic. Heat through quickly until you get a fragrant smell. Be careful not to burn the ingredients.

3) Add in water, chicken, carrots, potatoes and peppercorns. Add a pinch of turmeric powder.

4) Cover pot but leave a gap for steam to escape. Let it boil on a low flame for 45minutes to 1hour. Skim any impurities that may rise to the surface.

5) Add salt to taste. Your soup is ready.

1) Check the soup after 40-45 minutes. If the carrots and potatoes are soft, it's done. Turn off flame.
2) After adding salt, taste the soup to see if its flavourful enough. If not, keep adding (about 1/2 a teaspoon at a time) to see if it's enough. 
3) You can add finely chopped coriander leaves on top. I don't fancy coriander so I left it out.
4) I've also cheated before and added a chicken stock cube to flavour the soup further. You can try this, but of course it's best if the soup is flavoured by the chicken bones itself.

The soup was very tasty. I served it with toasted bread, buttered and sliced in half. Yum - sick or not sick - good for the body and for your soul so I've heard.
You may also serve it with rice.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pita Bread Pizza Using Ground Beef

I started my pizza baking adventures a couple of months ago. I can't believe it took me this long to learn how to prepare pizza. I simply love the simplicity involved, the fast cooking time and the yummylicious results of course! Allow me to elaborate.

Simplicity Involved
You can pick and choose which ingredient you favour as your preferred topping. There are no 'set' toppings.

Fast cooking time
10 mins. Enuff said.

Yummylicious taste
The crisp thin crust of the pita bread gives it just enough crunch while the cheese which has melted and become all gooey on top gives it a soft texture. The toppings fill your mouth with a meaty taste while the tomato paste which is spread on the pizza base brings it all together.

The Journey
I started my journey with ignorance I shall admit. Why ignorance? Well, I used store-bought frozen pizza base when making my first pizza. Unlike frozen puff pastry ( all hail the puff pastry!), frozen pizza base is only so-so.

Fast forward to my second attempt. I learnt an invaluable tip from my sister. And the pizza was super yummy. 

On my third attempt, I've opted for ground or minced beef and the results were once again great. Here are the quick and easy steps you may follow:

Thin Crust Pita Bread Pizza with Ground Beef Topping 
Pre-heat oven to 200C.

1) Season the ground/minced beef (about 200g) with black pepper for a while.

2) Just add a tiny amount of oil to a saucepan and fry beef till no longer pink. Set aside to cool.

3) Slice 2-3 pita breads horizontally. Spread tomato paste on each side.

4) Place desired amount of cook minced beef on pita bread and top with grated mozzarella cheese. Line baking tray and place 'pizzas' on top.

5) Bake for 10 minutes till base is crisp and cheese is golden brown.

Tip: Try and buy good quality pita bread. This DOES make a difference. When you slice them horizontally they should fall apart easily.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Step-by-step Fish Cutlets

So I made fish cutlets for a pot-luck I had with some loved ones. I want to share the recipe here because it's a pretty good recipe. Before I start let me give you the tips first.

Tip 1: Use good fish. I would recommend tenggiri fillet
Tip 2: Make sure you finely chop the ingredients
Tip 3: Have some sort of gadget to mash potatoes
Tip 4: Pat the breadcrumbs well onto the patties

Ok so this 'finely chop' thing is not really my style. However it was indeed good to realise that I actually do have a patient bone in my body - because 'finely chop' I did!

What you need:
2 big potatoes
200g fish fillet
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp oil for frying

1 clove garlic - finely chopped
1cm ginger - finely chopped
1 shallot - finely chopped
1 red chilli - finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped coriander (stalks and leaves)
1 tsp lime or lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

150ml oil for frying

What to do:

1) Wash the potatoes with skin on and put them in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil in lightly salted water until tender about 20 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pan and reheat for a minute to dry off any excess moisture. Peel and mash the potatoes while they are still hot.

Not necessary to cover the pot with a lid

2) Rub 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp chilli powder on the fish. Heat 2tbsp oil in a pan over medium heat and fry the fish about 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside. Cool slightly before flaking the fish coarsely.

This is 200g. I used a weighing scale to get the measurement right. How would I know how much is 200g right?

3) Combine the mash potatoes and the fish with the remaining salt and chilli powder, garlic, ginger, shallot, chilli, coriander, lime juice and half the beaten egg.

Make sure the potatoes are mashed well for this you need some sort of potato masher thingy. Good for releasing stress.

4) Form the mixture into oval shaped patties and dip in remaining egg and breadcrumbs, patting them well. Shake off excess.

Don't make them too round - oval shape is better when it comes to frying the sides get fried easily as opposed to a round shape.

Tip 189: Use a shallow dish to lay out the breadcrumbs. Use one hand to dip the cutlet in egg first then same hand to dip in breadcrumbs. Use the 'dry' hand to take some breadcrumbs from the bowl and sprinkle over while turning the cutlet with 'wet' hand and coating all around.

5) Heat 150ml oil in a frying pan and fry the cutlets over medium heat until golden brown - about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

All set for my pot luck!

Note: You can make the patties up to several hours ahead and keep in refrigerator. Prior to frying just remove from refrigerator for ten minutes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Recipe Books

Couple of weeks ago I was informed that I won a prize as a result of some contest I had entered. I think this is the first contest I've won in my thirties...and I was stoked because they the form of recipe books!

There are six awesome books on baking cookies to cakes and they are bilingual (both Malay and English translations). I've skimmed thru the books and already identified some recipes I wish to try like this one...

Chocolate Chip Cookies can never go wrong with those. I'm hoping these books will enhance my cookie baking skills of which I sorely lack. Seriously. I've done the cakes and somewhat am able to manage. But when it comes to baking cookies - the Gods just did not smile on me.

Ah well...we will see if these books change my course of fate.

Thanks to Popular bookstore for the prizes!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chicken Stroganoff with Penne Pasta

Stroganoff sounds like a music composer to me. Like he could be Bach or Mozart's friend in their elite group. All talking and puffing on their cigars. Laughing at the world. 

But on Sunday night - Stroganoff was my friend. We did a little dance and got along famously. 

What you need:
About 2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
600g diced chicken
1 tin sliced button mushrooms
3 tablespoons tomato paste
300g sour cream

What to do:

1) Melt some butter in a frying pan, add the onion and cook until soft then add the garlic and cook for less than 1 minute. Remove.

2) Melt some butter over high heat and brown the chicken in batches. Set aside with the onion and garlic.

3) In the same pan, brown the mushrooms for 2 minutes.

4) Return the onion, garlic and chicken to the pan and mix.  Take the pan off the stove, and stir in tomato paste and sour cream.

5) Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened. Reduce the heat and cook till chicken has cooked through - about 5 minutes. Season well with salt and black pepper.

Serve with penne pasta and some salad on the side with dressing of your choice.

The portion is easily enough for 4 persons if there are side dishes like salad etc.
This is a great alternative to my usual Beef Bolognese or once-in-a-while Carbonara.
If you have some leftover sour cream, why not try these delish Choc Cup Cakes

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thin Crust Beef Pepperoni Pizza using Pita Bread

So I'm a thin crust kinda girl. There is something about the crispiness of the thin crust which I absolutely love. I also find that with the thin crust, I am able to enjoy the pizza toppings better as my mouth is not full with thick pizza crust. So when my sister gave me this terrific tip on how to make thin crust pizzas I just had to try it. 

I started my pizza making adventure here. I thought it was easy and fast to make. After trying the frozen pizza base with the bad English on the packaging, I wanted to try making pizza using pita bread. Actually pita bread pizza is fairly popular and my sis-in-law makes great pizza using pita bread.

So back to the thin crust. I sliced the pita bread horizontally. 
I then spread the base with tomato paste and added beef pepperoni.
Lastly added the grated mozzarella cheese on top. 
Baked it in a pre-heated oven at 200C for ten minutes.
A good tip I learnt while researching different pizza making techniques was that you should start sprinkling the toppings and cheese from the outside in. This way it's easier not to miss the sides.

We preferred the thin crust to the frozen base pizza base. It was so crisp. Loved it. I am definitely a thin crust kinda girl.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Special Post: Bazaar Ramadhan

So if you don't already know the Muslim world is observing fasting (puasa) month as a prelude to the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations. It is truly an awesome time to be in Malaysia. During this time, there are many Bazaar Ramadhan's that line the streets selling fantastic tasting delicacies. 

The bazaar's usually start setting up and selling by 4pm. There are many places within the Klang Valley and around the country where you can find these bazaars. The photos on this post were taken when my colleagues when to visit the one in Section 14, Petaling Jaya. Thanks Ben and Nazar!

1) Ayam Percik: Ok I will start with my favourite. RM5 for a drumstick. It's technically spicy barbecued chicken. But this one came with a sweet and peppery sauce which really enhanced the flavours of the chicken meat.

2) Otak-otak: Literally translates to 'brains' but so it is not. Once you remove the toothpicks and unwrap the banana leaves you are left with a strip of spicy fish meat. The texture is pretty custard like. A favourite of my other half.

3) Kuih Dadar Ketayap: If I recall this is my sister's favourite kuih. I never had a liking for this particular kuih - probably due to the sweet coconut filling. However it is a favourite of many. The outer layer consist of pandan flavoured crepe (pancake skin) with the coconut filling and melted brown sugar.

4) Karipap: Ok one of of my all time favourite kuih. Karipap or curry puffs are a staple here at any kuih stall. We have it for breakfast, for tea or just cause we feel like it. The fillings consists of the usual suspects such as potatoes and small chunks of chicken.


5) Popiah Basah: Aaaaah these moist spring rolls are da bomb! I truly prefer them to the fried spring rolls. The stuffing consists of cucumber slices, bean sprouts and some other stuff. I like the ones with some chilli like sauce mixed in with the stuffing as well.

6) Lemang: Sticky rice cooked in a hollowed bamboo stick lined with banana leaves. Best eaten with beef rendang ( a meat dish). I loved the lemang from this stall - it was moist and not too sticky. And it went great with the beef rendang 

7) Murtabak: Sort of a roti canai stuffed with meat, chopped onions and egg. The ones sold at the bazaar are really cute in size. If you're averse to onions, I would not recommend the murtabak as I found that the murtabak I had from the bazaar had more onions than meat.

More kuih shots:

Kuih Sago
                                                   Kuih Tepung Pelita

                                                     Kuih Kacang

                                                        Kuih Cara

                                                  Not-so-sure-of-the-name Kuih

                                               Kuih Cara Berlauk

                                          Skewered meat bites

                                           Roasted Chicken Wings

And so much more!!! It's amazing the selection they have at these bazaars. Truly fascinating. And the most brilliant part is that you can find people of ALL races at these bazaars looking for their favourite bites.

Like I said - it's a great time to be in Malaysia.

What are your favourites?

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