Poofier Muffins

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Same batch of batter but different sizes. Hmm. The one on the left was the first one into the oven. The loftier one is after about 25 minutes of resting. Speaks for itself. If you rest your batter for a little while, it will allow the flour to absorb the liquid more fully and thus you will get a poofier muffin. Can you wait so long? Usually I can’t. But if I wait, I sort of get more muffins to eat, ya? ūüėĀ

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Bobo Chacha (shortcut)

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When I said in my previous post that it’s now school Hols and we have time, I meant the Underlings. Not me. I always have to produce food fast. That’s why I love shortcuts.

Bobo chacha is my mom’s favorite dessert. She used to cook a huge pot when I was young. I didn’t fancy it so much then because of 3 things: I love sago and there was never enough; I didn’t like taro; and the sweet potatoes were never sweet.

So this recipe is not the traditional bobo chacha. Mine is quick and it is the way I like it.

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Indonesian honey sweet potatoes

Bobo Chacha (my way)

2 sweet potatoes

1/4 cup small sago

1 pkt coconut milk (200ml)

brown sugar or gula Melaka

1  pandan leaf

Boil sweet potatoes whole with their skin. This retains the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. It takes about 10-20 min to cook, depending on the size of your sweet potatoes. Then dunk in cold water for easy peeling. Dice them up.

Boil 2-3 cups of water. Only when the water is rapidly boiling do you add in the sago. If the water is not boiling, the sago will turn into goop. Give it an occasional stir and boil until sago is almost clear but still a little white in the middle. Then strain and add in *fresh water (doesn’t have to be hot now). Pour in a pkt of coconut milk, put in a pandan leaf and bring to a boil. Add in the diced sweet potatoes. Sweeten with brown sugar or gula Melaka to taste.

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Serve it hot. And soon. Coz as you delay, the sago will absorb more liquid and the whole thing will resemble tapioca pudding. Which I also likey so it’s ok for me.

*how much water to add depends on how soupy you like your bobo chacha to be.

Sweet Peanut Soup

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It’s the end of the year school holidays now. ¬†The Underlings will be home until next year. ¬†Activities will have to be planned, school books to clear and school books to buy, Christmas trees (yes, trees)to trim, growing Underlings to be fed regularly, many times a day. ¬†I have to dig deep into my memory for recipes long forgotten. ¬†Today as I was digging, I found deep in my fridge a packet of peanuts. ¬†I had bought that some time ago to cook my grandma’s traditional sweet peanut soup. ¬†Usually I would buy canned peanut soup as it takes a long time to cook peanuts till they are soft. ¬†But the canned ones are just too sweet. ¬†It’s not difficult, really. ¬†Just time consuming. ¬†Today, we have time. ¬†That’s the thing about school holidays. ¬†We have time.

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Sweet Peanut Soup

150g peeled peanuts

3 cups hot water

Sugar to taste

Wash peanuts.  Put peanuts and hot water into the slow cooker and let it do its magic till peanuts are soft.  This should take a few hours.  Then sweeten to your liking.

I used to eat it with glutinous rice balls aka tang yuan. ¬†It was my mom’s favourite dessert. ¬†I never liked it coz I always find the tang yuan too big and soggy for my liking. ¬†Personally I prefer my tang yuan dry. ¬†That’ll be another post, coming soon.

Happy holidays Everyone.

 

Sweet Potato Buns

I haven’t had Brown n Serve rolls since 2007. I love those for their pillowy soft yumminess. I can eat a lot of butter with those. A Lot.

Recently, I was reminded of them again when I made sweet potato buns. I haven’t had Brown n Serve for so long that I can’t recall the exact taste. But if I were to compare, this sweet potato bun is it. Maybe better. ūüėĀ

This is my favorite easy no-knead bread recipe which I use all the time. It’s easy coz I took out all the lengthy steps like kneading and egg-washing the buns for the healthy tan look. Not necessary. ¬†It’s so simple that these days, I don’t even measure the flour anymore. Just measure the liquid. Then put in enough flour to form a nice slightly tacky dough. It’s that forgiving.

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Sweet Potato Buns

1 cup hand-warm water

150g boiled sweet potato (yellow Indonesian honey type)

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp yeast

2 cups plain flour

1 cup bread flour (hold back the last 1/4 cup in case not needed)

2 tbsp butter/oil

Mix everything together by hand in a large bowl, holding back the last 1/4 cup, only adding if dough is too sticky. Dough will be tacky. When dough is well mixed, cover and leave in a warm place for about 60 min or until dough has more or less doubled. ¬†Divide dough into 12 buns and place on greased/lined cookie sheet. ¬†Let it proof a second time for 20-30 min. Then bake at 180c for about 15-20 min. ¬†Do not over bake. Buns will look light and you may start to doubt if they are cooked. ¬†I doubt it every time and every time, they are perfect. Soft and chewy and pillowy. ¬†Just wonderful. It’s my kryptonite.

Variations: Raisins, cranberries, nuts, chocolate chips, poppy seeds, sesame seeds etc may be added to the dough after the 1st rise.  These can be made into hamburger buns.  Just make them bigger. They can be stuffed as well. With curry chicken (my fav), lotus paste, red bean paste, hot dogs, luncheon meat. You are only limited by your imagination.

Beanie

Cat ear Beanie is all the rage. At least I think so. I am not a very trendy person, mostly preferring simple designs. But I realised that simple designs are not easy to find. I usually have a hard time looking for things that are plain and simple. And I understand why. As a crafter, it’s more fun to craft things that have complicated designs. More fun, interesting, challenging.

Recently, my friend Yasmin needed a cat ear beanie. I tried to tempt her with my regular beanie but she was insistent that she needed ears.

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That forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to think and figure out how I would have to go about doing it. ¬†Then it finally dawned on me how much easier it is to make than my previous design!Duh! It’s unbelievable that I never thought of it. Me, the queen of short cuts and easy-to-do-things! ¬†You just knit a rectangle and sew up one end. ¬†The cat ear will just magically appear! ¬†So cool! ¬†No more 4 dpns! Just a circular needle all the way.

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Cat Ear Beanie (fits an average adult)

Things needed: circular knitting needles 4.5mm, 40 cm; 105m wool or mixed wool yarn, 8 ply; 1 yarn needle.

Approximate gauge: (10cm x 10cm sq) 18 stitches x 25 rows.

Instructions: Cast on between 85 stitches, using long tail cast-on. Knit 3, purl 2. Continue in this rib pattern  for about 58 rows. Then cast off, leaving a long tail for sewing.  Sew up the top opening loosely with a yarn needle. Weave loose ends into the stitches to conceal.  When you wear it, pinch the corners to achieve the cat ears. Viola!

Sometimes I really wish Singapore gets cold enough for me to justify all the yarn that I buy.

*If you would like a ready-made one, please visit my Carousell.  https://sg.carousell.com/sewcraftyknits/

Pizza

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I was in a hurry. It was already 6 pm. It’s actually dinner time but since the guys were not home yet, I was dilly dallying. When I opened the fridge, it seemed everything was pointing towards pizza. So I decided to make a speedy pizza. Speedza. ūüėĀ

Usually when I make yeasted bread, if I have lotsa time, I would cut down on the yeast to about 1 tsp. Then I would give it a longer time to proof. This gives your bread a more developed flavor.  If I have less time, I would then provide a more encouraging environment for the yeast. First, I would use more yeast. Second, use more sugar. Third, give the yeast a nice warm start and a nice warm environment to work its magic. For that, I would use warm water and provide a warm water bath.

By doing these 3 things, I can get the pizza out in about an hour, as opposed to 2-3 hours.

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Speedza (serves 4, with leftoversūüėČ)

1 cup warm water (like bath temperature.)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil  + more for drizzling and oiling

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1.5-2 tbsp yeast

1 cup plain flour

2 cups *bread flour

Basic Fixings:

Bottled spaghetti sauce, mozarella cheese

Optional fixings: olives, ham, luncheon meat aka Spam, bak kwa, mushrooms, broccoli, tuna, sardines, whatever.

Put all the ingredients for the dough into a big mixing bowl and mix together by hand till they are more or less well combined (about 20 sec). Leave it to rise in a warm place for about 20 min or less (I just sit the mixing bowl in warm water). Dough is ready when doubled in size.

Generously oil a cookie sheet with evoo. Stretch out dough on the cookie sheet. Drizzle more evoo on the dough. Spread warm spaghetti sauce on top, followed by whatever you have. Lastly, top with cheese.

Leave it for about 10 min in a warm place to proof. Then pop it into a #cold oven and bake for 20 min at 180c.

This recipe makes quite a lot for a family of 2 adults and 2 kids (under 12). I usually cut it up into 8 generous portions, half for now and the other half for breakfast tomorrow. It keeps well in the fridge. Before eating, just warm it up in the oven.  Cook once, eat twice. Perfecto!

N/B The proofing time is an estimate. When the weather is cooler, it will take a longer time. When it is warmer, proofing will be faster. But nothing to fret over about. Hard to go wrong.

* hold back the last 1/4 cup of flour to see if the dough needs it. It is easier to add flour to a too wet dough than water to dry dough.

#cold oven because it is not necessary to warm up the oven for bread. And it saves one step. ūüėú

Banana Muffins


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My dear friend, Shirleen, a non-baker, non-cook, sort of invented this easy recipe.

Some time back, Shirleen moved into a new home and she bought a shiny brand new oven.  Never having baked before, she asked me for a very easy egg-free muffin recipe.  I gave her a banana muffin recipe that requires only a bowl and a spoon. No whisking or creaming needed. If you can stir, I told her, you can make.

She eagerly acquired all the ingredients and set off on her maiden bake. It was an instant hit with her kids and she managed to save the last muffin for me. No need, I said. I know how my muffins taste like. Regardless, she sent her obliging husband over to my home with that one solo muffin! Lol. When I looked at it, I realised that ¬†it looked nothing like mine. ¬†I was puzzled. When I bit into it, it tasted yummier! Later, I realised we had a different understanding of the meaning of the word “cup”. In baking terms, “cup” refers to the standard measuring cup (+- a bit in different countries). To her, a cup is anything that is… well… a cup. So happened, she chose a rice cup (the one that comes with the rice cooker). By using that rice cup, she had effectively cut down the amount of flour from 1.5 cups to 1 cup! It resulted in a muffin that had a lovely deep banana flavor! It was really good.

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Ang Ba Jio                                Pang Jio

There are 2 varieties  of bananas that I usually use for eating and baking. I only know the names in Chinese dialect :  Ang Ba Jio and Pang Jio.  They are both smallish bananas compared to the Del Monte variety.  And they are very sweet and flavorful.  The more ripe, the sweeter they are.  So you may want to cut down on the sugar if yours is very ripe.  I find it quite sweet even when I use 100g of sugar and I always regret not cutting down on the sugar.

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Vegan Banana Muffins

250g ripe bananas, skinned and mashed (about 4)

75g-100g sugar

1/3 cup virgin coconut oil or vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup plain flour (about 150g)

Just lightly stir everything together.  Pour into muffin cups. At this point, I would go and turn on the oven and allow the muffins to rest for a few minutes whilst waiting for oven to heat up.  This gives the flour time to hydrate further and raising agents to work their magic.  The muffins will be puffier.

Bake at 180c for about 20 min.

*Variation: if you really really like to add an egg into the muffin, simply remove one banana. Or keep the bananas and increase the flour to 1.5 cups. If you choose to do that, don’t forget to increase the baking powder by 1/2 tsp.

So, what did I tell ya about easy banana muffin recipe? Even when it went wrong, it still turned out good!  Well, this is how new recipes are invented.

Butter Cookies

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Whenever we buy a tin of the K brand Danish butter cookies, the most coveted cookie is the round one with currants. That one always goes first, followed closely by the pretzel shaped sugar one, then the rectangle sugar one. The rest will be left languishing in the tin, reserved for a day when… Ok, the rest never get eaten. ūüėē We have been waiting for the day when they make only the currant ones and the pretzel shaped ones. ¬†So far it hasn’t happened yet. Sigh. As usual, if nobody will make it, then I guess I’ll just have to do it until somebody else does.

It’s not difficult to figure out the recipe. Looking at the ingredient list on the tin, it states desiccated coconut and currants. Only the round one tastes like it has coconut. So bingo. Just use a butter cookie recipe that gives you crunchy cookies, add in some desiccated coconut and currants and there you have it.

I have had this recipe since around the time internet was invented. That long ago. I am not even sure of the origin of the recipe. But along the way, it has evolved several times according to our taste buds.

Butter Cookies

125 g butter

125 g sugar

1 cup plain flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

pinch of salt

*Cream butter and sugar together just until well mixed. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Variations: currants, nuts, crushed cornflakes, sprinkles, chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for about half an hour. Scoop teaspoonfuls of dough onto a lined cookie sheet. Press lightly at the top to flatten them a bit. Bake in a preheated oven at 180c for 15 min. Then turn off the oven and leave them inside to dry out for another 15 min. This makes them a bit more crunchy.

This is a very buttery butter cookie. If you use a nice European style butter, you will be able to taste the lovely fragrance of it in every bite.  Needless to say, WAY better than the commercial ones.

*It is not necessary to use an electric mixer when creaming butter and sugar for cookies.  You only need to cream it till the butter and sugar are well mixed (like 10sec?).  I usually just use a wooden spoon because it is easier to wash a wooden spoon than a wire whisk. heh.

Olive olives


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There aren’t that many olive lovers here. To date, I only know 4- me, my 2 kids and DH. And so far, I have only fed them black and green olives. Haven’t bought them the fancy ones yet. They are still quite happy with the cheapo black bottled olives. So am I.

We love them as tapenade, with pasta, pizza, focaccia, fried rice… Every way is a favorite way to eat olives. ¬† I buy the biggest bottle (of coz!) from Mustafa and I use them really liberally.

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My focaccia recipe is an easy no-knead version. It’s fool-proof. What can go wrong? Only if you leave it to proof for hours and hours, with the misconception that the longer the better. And if you bake it for too long in the oven.

No-knead Focaccia Bread

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1-2 tsp instant yeast

1 cup plain flour

2 cups bread flour

2 tbsp #extra virgin olive oil (evoo) (to go into the dough)

extra evoo for drizzling and greasing

Put everything together in a large bowl. Stir till everything comes together to form a dough. If it is too tacky, add in a little extra flour. It’s ok if it’s a little sticky coz you will be oiling it later. Leave it to rise for about an hour. It is ready when it has roughly doubled its size.

On a large cookie sheet, generously coat the bottom of the pan with evoo. Punch the risen dough down. Pour the whole dough onto the pan and flatten it on the oiled sheet with your hands. Drizzle more evoo on top of the dough. Then stud the whole thing with olives. Press down the olives into the dough. Fresh herbs are optional. If you like basil, you may press the basil leaves into the dough as well. Proof it again for about 1/2 hour or until it looks puffed up. Bake in a *cold oven set at 180c for about 20 min or until golden brown.

Eat it as it is or stuffed with ham and cheese.

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#it is important to use evoo for good flavor. I once used regular oil and the difference in flavor is vast

*baking in a cold oven helps simplify things. Pop it in, turn on oven and walk away. It doesn’t harm the bread dough. Please do note that this doesn’t work for cakes.