Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spicy Dried Shrimps

Spicy dried shrimps or 'Hae Bee Hiam' as it is known in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect, is a versatile dish that can be eaten with rice or used as a spread or filling in sandwiches.

At our recent bloggers' meet, I made some sandwiches with it.

My recipe is easy to follow though one must be prepared to stand by the stove for at least half an hour, depending on the preparation or the amount to be cooked. I would usually cook a substantial amount and store it in the freezer to be used at whim.

The Recipe:

300g dried shrimps (Be sure to buy the better quality that doesn't have a very strong smell)

12 shallots
3 cloves garlic
4 fresh red chillies
5 dried chillies, pre-soaked
4 chilli padi (optional)
1 pce 4-cm lemon grass, thinly sliced

8 kaffir lime leaves
sugar to taste

How It Is Done:

1. Be sure to pick out all foreign objects like tiny stones, crab claw bits etc from the pile of dried shrimps. Rinse the shrimps twice then soak in enough water for half and hour or more. Drain and grind to the fineness or coarseness preferred. (Try not to add water when grinding as this will make the ground shrimps too wet and it will take a longer time to cook.) Set aside.

2. Grind all the ingredients in B.

3. Heat some oil (I used about 100ml) and put in the shrimp, ground ingredients and kaffir lime leaves and mix it well. Stir mixture over medium heat until it starts to dry out. Add sugar to taste. Salt is not required as the dried shrimp is quite salty itself.
You can either continue to cook till it dries out to 'floss' condition (which is quite dry) or if you prefer the moist kind, just cook for about 30 to 45 minutes.
I would recommend using a non-stick wok or pan.

This is quite moist because I wanted it to be easily spread on bread.
The kaffir lime leaves lent a very nice flavour to the shrimp.

These were the sandwich rolls made for the bloggers' meet.
I used soft bread slices, with edges removed. Next I spread a layer of shrimp and added some thinly sliced cucumber strips and rolled it tightly like a spring roll. I then used a piece of plastic to wrap the roll to keep the shape. To serve, remove the wrap and cut it into two. Enjoy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Potluck @ Bloggers' Meet

Once upon a time.......

We cooked, we baked
We met
We chatted
We ate, we drank
We played a game
We laughed
All on a Saturday
The 27th November
At 1.30 p.m.
At Jane's.

The Group "We":
Christine - Yummy Koh
Doris - Tested & Tasted
Edith - Precious Moments
Eelin - The Batter Baker
Jane - Passionate About Baking
Josephine - Sugar & Everything Nice
Sheryl - Sweet and Happy Ending
Zhuo Yuan - Baking Library
Myself - A Busy Gran's Kitchen

We left happily ever after with our tummies full!

Monday, November 22, 2010

White Chocolate Chips and Hazelnut Cookies

I've been busy for nearly a week, clearing stuffs and spring-cleaning. Some of my things are as old as the hills, errr... more than 45 years old. Goodness! What was I thinking! Maybe I was hoping that they could be preserved as antique or maybe I would slim down to my former S size. Hmmm fat hope!

Some of the usable stuff would probably go to charity, others I would try to sell off on Ebay like my kenwood major metal mixing bowls, K beater and whisk, murooku press set etc.

I baked these cookies just before I began spring-cleaning. They came in handy during my 'coffee breaks'. :) They were my energy boosters!
The cookies are super crunchy and the hazelnuts gave them a lovely flavour.

Look at the size of the cookies!

The Recipe:

130g butter, softened
70g caster sugar
70g fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

150g Self-raising flour
150g plain flour

200g mini white chocolate chips
120g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped


1. Cream butter and sugar till light before beating in egg and vanilla extract.

2. Add in sifted flour and nuts and white choc chips. Mix well.

3. Roll into balls and flatten. The dough should not be dry.

4. Bake on lightly greased tray at preheated oven 160 deg C for 12 minutes. Cool and store in airtight container or eat them all up. (I got about 37 pieces of diameter 6 cm.)
They are quite addictive.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Raisin and Butterscotch Bread

Yesterday afternoon was dreary - it was raining heavily for hours. We braved the rain and went out for lunch at 3, a rather late lunch. When I returned from lunch around 4 plus, I had the urge to bake bread. I don't know why, but rainy days seem to make me want to bake. Maybe I like the warmth of the kitchen on rainy days.

In the past, I baked bread without using the 'tangzhong'. I read so many reviews about using it and how it really helps to improve the bread in terms of texture. The recent raisin bread was done with tangzhong and I found that it did wonders. The bread remained soft and moist even on the third day.

I ventured again with another of my bread recipes (all my previous bread recipes do not use tangzhong) and just went with my gut feeling as to the amount of tangzhong to add.

Not wanting to waste the tangzhong, I made a smaller portion which just about suffice for my bread recipe.

The recipe for about 120g tangzhong :

30g bread flour
150ml water

Mix flour and water till smooth. Sieve the mixture to remove tiny lumps.
Over medium heat, cook the mixture, stirring all the time till it thickens and reaches a temperature of about 65 deg C. Remove and cover with cling-wrap touching the mixture and let it cool. It can be placed in the fridge.

The recipe for the bread:

300g bread flour
60g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 tablespoons milk powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

160 ml water or milk
1 egg yolk
100g tangzhong (take it out from fridge and let it be at room temperature before use)

40g butter

100g raisins
100g butterscotch chips

1. Place all dry ingredients in A and whisk it to mix.

2. Mix egg yolk, tangzhong and milk till smooth. Add in slowly into mixer working with the dough hook at medium slow speed.

3. When all the dry ingredients are incorporated with the liquid, add in the butter and mix till it forms a ball. Check to see if dough is too wet, then add a tablespoon flour.

4. Knead dough for 20 minutes. It should not be very sticky.

5. Remove dough and make it into a big ball. Place it in a big bowl and cover with a damp cloth or cling-wrap. Prove it for 50 minutes or till it doubles in size. Proving time depends on weather conditions. My dough took 1 hour because it was rainy.

6. After proving, remove dough and deflate it by pressing or punching it.

7. Roll out dough on a lightly-floured surface to a rectangle. Sprinkle raisins and butterscotch chips. Roll up dough like a swiss roll and place in a loaf tin, the sealed side downwards. I used 2 loaf tins 22cm x 12 cm x 8cm. Brush with egg if preferred.

8. Bake in preheated oven 200 deg C for 12 to 15 minutes. Once done, brush some butter on the top. Remove and cool on wire rack.
If stored in an air-tight container, the bread will remain soft and moist up to 3 days.

The two loaves didn't turn out to be twins as expected because I was doing a hurried job. Didn't want to miss my TV programme and guess what I was watching?......Shrek 3! I must be in my second childhood. Anyway I enjoy all the Shrek series, a twist to the usual fairy tales!

The Better Twin

Not very well distributed, the centre is plain!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TTT Cake

Yesterday, while I was baking and decorating this cake for my youngest grandson, it brought to my mind how time had fleetingly flown by. It was just a year ago, after baking a Mr Men cake for my grandson, I was admitted into hospital. The baking had nothing to do with the cause.
A few days before my grandson's birthday in 2009, I experienced the worst headache of my life. It came so swiftly and the pain was so excruciating that tears streamed down my face uncontrollably. It happened at night and I went to a clinic nearby. The doctor referred me to CGH. There the young medical officer made me do some tests to ascertain whether it was stroke. Later he termed my problem as in his exact words, "Auntie, you have tension headache!" Ok, you're the doctor, you know better. With that, he gave me a jab, some panadol and sent me home.

Within the next ten days, I experienced three more attacks, consulted another doctor whose prognosis was the same. The third doctor, I saw, felt that I ought to have a scan done. The result was alarming. My brain was bleeding. A blood vessel had popped. The medical term was subarachnoid haemorrhage.

For the first time in my life, I rode in an ambulance from CGH to SGH. CGH referred me to a neurology specialist in SGH. I was placed in an ICA ward, confined to the bed. I went through more scans. All that while, I was as normal as before except for the headaches.

During those few days, I was in despair. I turned to God and prayed fervently for healing. I'd never prayed so hard and so much in my entire life. God is merciful and full of grace. I felt at peace then.

The results of all the scans showed that the bleeding had stopped. Alleluia! God be praised!

It was yesterday, my youngest grandson turned two. His current favourite toys are trains which he calls them 'choo-choo'.

Naturally I baked him a train cake. Time and weather weren't on my side when I began to bake and decorate after lunch. By the time the cake cooled, I had about three and a half hours to complete the cake before the arrival of my daughter's family for a simple birthday celebration dinner.

I used marshmallow fondant which I had prepared some time ago and refrigerated. (I don't like using store-bought fondant as it has a 'plasticy' kind of smell.)

The cake base was vanilla butter cake and the cylindrical shape was a chocolate swiss roll.
At 2.30 p.m, I began my task of cutting and kneading the fondant to cover the various shape. The tough part was trying to cover the parts with fondant. After crumb-coating the cake , I should have cool the cake to set the cream. Due to time constraint, I attempted wrapping it immediately. The creamed cake parts were difficult to handle, the cream got to my hands, the rolled fondant got messed-up! Ugrh!! The weather was hot and the buttercream began to turn runny!

Finally by 6 p.m, the cake was completed. The finishing wasn't as refined as I wanted it. But I consoled myself that it did look like a toy train.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Steamed Tofu with Braised Mushroom Meat Sauce

This is a super easy dish that can be whipped up in minutes. That is if you have mushroom meat sauce at hand which I do. I made quite a huge batch and had it frozen in air-tight containers. I only took out the amount needed, thawed and heated it up.

This mushroom meat sauce recipe can be found on Shirley's blog.

I tweaked the recipe to my taste and fancy. I omitted the five-spice powder (my family dislike the flavour), added more mushrooms, more fried shallots and included carrots to make it a one-dish meal.
Next I steamed a block of silken tofu (from a packet) for a few minutes and poured the heated meat sauce over it.
As it was a last minute decision to eat at home, I had neither spring onions nor cilantro to garnish.

The next time, I'll add in cubed potatoes and cherry tomatoes.
Ahhh..... the flexibility of cooking!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Raisin Buns

I have not baked bread for a long time ever since my breadmaker decided to go away for good! I've had two breadmakers and both had enough of me working on them like a slave. So they ran away to some dump!

After reading so many posts on bread and buns, my fingers began to itch.
How could I possibly not bake bread for my food blog!

Today, I depended on my trusted major, Kenwood to do the job. He whined and groaned throughout the process. Oh dear! Am I such a mean taskmaster...errr..... mistress?
Thankfully all was well and I know that there will be breakfast tomorrow!

12 minutes and they were done!

I was seduced by the aroma of the bread baking in the oven. I just couldn't wait to pounce on one when they were done!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spicy Tamarind Fish (2)

I cooked half of a diamond..... err diamond trevally or ikan chermin in Malay.
This was one of the fish my hub caught. (Forgot to take a pic)
It was quite big, almost 2 kg. I chopped the fish into two.
So today I used the tail part to cook assam pedas.
The head... hmmm.... maybe curry!

The Recipe:(In the previous recipe, I used buah keluak paste)

600g fish

250g peeled onions (1/2 shallots and 1/2 big onions)
3 cloves garlic
1 thumb-sized, thumb-length turmeric/kunyit
3 stalks lemon grass/serai (2 stalks to be ground and 1 stalk, bruised)
5 fresh red chillies and 5 dried chillies (add more if extreme spiciness is preferred)
3-cm galangal/lengkuas
1 teaspoon belachan/shrimp paste

1 small pineapple, sliced
6 lady's fingers
a small bunch of laksa leaves
tamarind/ assam water (if more tangy, use more tamarind to soak in water and how thick or diluted gravy preferred)
100ml thick coconut milk (optional)

Salt and sugar to taste

1. Grind ingredients in A.

2. Heat enough oil in a pot and fry A till fragrant.

3. Add in tamarind water, pineapple, some laksa leaves and fish. Bring to a boil.

4. Then add lady's fingers, salt and sugar to taste. (If using coconut milk, to add now) Boil for a while to cook the lady's fingers and it's done!

5. Serve with rice.