Pumpkin Buns

IMG_7791

I only started watching Korean drama last month.  It was more like “companionship tv-watching”.  I watch it to keep my daily guests company.

There’s this particular series where a girl works for a grouchy baker who makes wonderful pumpkin bread.  After a few episodes, I felt like I needed to get my hands on some pumpkin bread!  And you know me.  Won’t occur to me to go out and search for pumpkin bread.  Instead I searched for pumpkins!

My foray into pumpkins ended about 20 years when I broke 2 knives trying to cut open an acorn squash.  Of course those were cheap knives.  But, you know, these days the grocery stores sell them in pieces.  It’s much easier to cut them when they are already cut open.  So I just peel it and cut it into smallish cubes just so that it will steam up faster.  It’s ready when it crumbles under my potato masher.  Then add it into my bread dough.  It’s not difficult.  Don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier.  Now I’m making up for lost time.

Oh ya, this is a no-knead bread recipe.

IMG_7789
Before baking

 

Butter Bomb Pumpkin Buns (updated)

300g fresh pumpkin (steamed and mashed)

1 cup water

1 tsp instant yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

about  3.5 cups plain flour

about 3 tbsp soft butter or oil

Topping: little bits of butter and sugar

extra butter to oil your hands

In a large mixing bowl, put in water, sugar, salt, yeast, mashed pumpkin.  Using your hands, mix in enough flour to get a soft and slighty tacky dough.  Next, add in the butter/oil and mix until the dough is slighty just about to get sticky.  Stop right there.  You should have a soft, pillowy dough now.  Cover and leave it in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Divide into 15 pieces and roll into smooth balls and place on well-buttered cookie sheet.  If your dough is sticky, please don’t add more flour. Just Oil your hands with butter. 😋Using your thumb, make thumbprints on each dough.  Fill up the thumbprints with a little knob of butter and sugar.  Leave it to proof for another 15 to 30 min, depending on how warm your place is (my room temperature is about 29c).  Mine was almost ready to go when I was done filling up my thumbprints with butter and sugar.

No need to preheat the oven.  Bake at about 160c for about 20 min.

Please let it cool a bit before eating.  Although I can’t imagine why, it’s better when it’s not burning hot.

IMG_7792

 

 

Advertisements

Soft Chewy Cookies

IMG_5305

 

I LOVE cookies.  Cookies are like intense, compact version of cakes.  I have good memories of cookies.  Somehow, I have vivid happy memories of me eating yummy cookies.  I guess cookies is my answer to temporary happiness. lol

I got this recipe from the internet.  After looking at it for a few months, I decided to make some changes.  I read that bread flour makes cookies chewy.  So I swapped out some of the plain flour for bread flour.  Swapping half the white sugar for brown sugar should make it softer and flavourful.  I cut down on the salt coz 1 tsp of salt sounds like a lot.  2 Tbsp of vanilla sounds like overdose too!  Lastly I doubled the recipe. Duh.

It’s a good thing I doubled it.  It’s worth my fat space.

IMG_5306

 

Soft Chewy Cookies

1 cup plain flour

1 cup bread flour

2/3 cup white sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar (i didn’t pack it)

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 stick melted butter (salted)

chocolate chips

nuts

Melt butter in a pot, allowing it to brown a little.  Let it cool (otherwise chocolate chips will melt. I learnt it the hard way).  Then add in the sugar and eggs.  Mix it well. Add in the rest of the ingredients.

Refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight.

Each cookie dough should weigh about 50-60g. Flatten the dough to about 1 cm thickness. Don’t crowd the cookie sheet.  Bake at 180c for about 14-15 min.

They store well in an air tight container for a few days.

 

Durian Smoothie

IMG_5735

Recently we happened upon a stall selling durian smoothie in Bangkok. I tell you, it’s BRILLIANT. SIMPLY BRILLIANT.

IMG_5736

All you need is durian (remove the seeds), plenty of ice cubes, a bit of condensed milk to sweeten it, and a little water or milk for blending.

You gotta try it.

BRILLIANT.

Browned Butter Banana Bake

IMG_4697

 

Sorry, I just had to alliterate that.  It’s actually just banana muffin. heheh.

This is the muffin which I bake for my mom almost every week.  There are variations, of course.  I always believe in variety.  Mostly I try to keep it as natural as possible.  That means no coloring, no artificial flavoring etc.  And I almost always sneak in some oats and/or flax seed meal.

It’s a quick, one pot, one whisk recipe.  Minimal washing.  Probably about 30 min from start to finish.  Great for those who need muffins in a hurry.  Like for when you have a muffin emergency.  My Coz said there’s no such thing as a muffin emergency.  Oh, my dear Coz, sometimes you just need cake.

Browned Butter Banana Bake (makes about 10 )

about 125g or 1 stick butter

less than 1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup mashed bananas (just mash it coarsely with the whisk)

1/2 tsp instant coffee (in lieu of artifical vanilla essence)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup plain flour

1/2 cup instant oatmeal

1/4 cup flax seed meal

less than 1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup nuts

1/2 chocolate chips

In a pot, melt the butter until slightly brown.  Take it off the heat.  Add in the bananas and mash it coarsely with a whisk.   Add in the sugar and eggs.  Mix it with the whisk.  Then add in the rest of the ingredients except chocolate chips. Make sure the batter is cool before adding choc chips.

Line muffin pan with paper cases.  It saves on washing.

Bake at 350F or about 180c for about 20 min.

 

30 min to cake.  About same time as going to the stores to get artificially-flavored cake.  I think it’s a good deal.

Sardine Pizza

 

IMG_3983

About 30 years ago, Pizza Hut sold sardine pizza in Singapore. My dad had a friend who worked in the kitchen and he would make one and give it to my dad for us every now and then.  It was such a treat for me because we would never have been able to afford pizza otherwise.  And I love sardines as well.  I wish I knew who that kind friend was and been able to express my gratitude.

The other day, while cracking my head, wondering what to cook for dinner, the memory of sardine pizza came back.  I decided to make it.  I mean my family has nothing against sardines.  Not great fans, but nothing against it.  It’s worth a try coz if they liked it, it’s such an easy dinner for me to make. You can make the topping as simple as you like with only a can of sardines and cheese or you may add in onions, chilli, olives etc.

Sardine Pizza

1 can sardines in ketchup

1-2 cups grated mozarella

Pizza dough

Pour away most of the ketchup sauce. Mash up the sardines coarsely.

IMG_3984
Spread mashed sardines on the dough

 

IMG_3985
Top with cheese

Bake as per pizza recipe found in the link.

IMG_3986

I had added black olives and fresh basil leaves onto my pizza.

Pizza Hut has already stopped selling sardine pizzas.  I guess it was not a very popular choice.  Although I love it, for the taste as well as the convenience, nobody else in my family seemed that keen on it.  I guess you just gotta be a sardine fan.

To my dad’s friend, thank you very much.

Perpetual Soup

img_2114

On December 21st 2016, I started making soup in my slow cooker and I haven’t turned it off since that day…..That would be mean that I have been cooking soup for about 70 over days!  When I told people about it, I was greeted with reactions of mostly incredulity.  Usually they are puzzled how I could drink soup that was 30, 40,70-day old? lol They also wonder if my electricity bill is through the roof.

I started a few days before Christmas, one of my busiest days of the year as I host gatherings at my home for friends.   When a good friend told me about bone broth, it sounded easy enough.  So I threw some pork ribs, pork bone marrow, onions, carrot, garlic into my slow cooker and that was dinner.  As I was rather busy, I didn’t relish the thought of cleaning my slow cooker that night.  So I had a brain-wave to add in more water and keep the slow cooker going (just to put off cleaning heehee).  Then every day ever since then I have just been topping up the slow cooker with more filtered water and fresh food.

A friend asked me for my recipe.

Let me put it simply.

In a slow cooker, put pork bones/bone marrow/chicken bones, vegetables (like carrots, onions, tomatoes, whatever) and seasoning (garlic, ginger, bay leaf, salt etc). Top it off with filtered water.  Turn on the slow cooker on high until it starts to boil.  After that, turn it on low and just let it cruise.  We usually have it for dinner with rice or groats.  At the end of the meal, I just top up the slow cooker with more filtered water and add in more bones/meat/veg.  Hey! That means my dinner is always done!

img_3272

Frequently Asked Questions

Is your electricity bill through the roof? – There is no big difference in my electricity bill.  In fact, for some reason, it’s lower than before.  But, having said that, my slow cooker is a very simple one.  It is also 10 years old.

How can you drink 70+day old soup?? – Well, it isn’t really 70+ days old.  We eat it up everyday and I just leave the bones there for about 2 days before fishing them up and adding fresh bones.

Don’t you get sick of the same soup everyday? – I vary the ingredients I add into my soup.

Won’t your slow cooker explode? – I don’t think so.  So far, it hasn’t exploded.

Don’t you need to clean the slow cooker?? – Er….but I’m still cooking!

Do you plan to keep this up forever?? – I’m probably going to keep this going until end of May.  That’s when our school hols start.  You’ll have to turn it off if you aren’t going to be home.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember to check the water level everyday to make sure it does not dry up.

How To Peel A Pomelo

 

image

Pomelo is like a mega grapefruit. Except that the flavor is milder and sweeter.  We all love it.  Except that peeling it takes quite a bit of time.  How come? you ask.

Because this is the way my grandmother taught me to peel it and this is the way I now insist on peeling it.  And now I want to record it down for posterity.

image

Using a sharp knife, cut off the top as shown.

image

Then score the pomelo with a knife about 2/3 of the way, abput 1-2 cm deep.

image

Using your hands, peel the skin but do not peel it off totally.  Leave the bottom attached together.  Remove the fruit and peel off the white pith.

image

Tadah! Now wear the pomelo hat and parade around the room as per my tradition!

img_3019

Or fashion it into some kind of lantern and parade around.

 

Pineapple Tarts

image

We Singaporeans love our pineapple tarts.  It’s our special Chinese New Year treat and staple.  Every household will have at least a jar of pineapple tarts during this festive season.  Every store will be selling, everybody will be buying/baking pineapple tarts. The internet is not short on pineapple tart recipes as well.

So what makes mine so special?  It’s special because it is done the way I like it.  You know what gets my goat?  When people eat my tarts and say hmm, you didn’t put enough pineapple, your crust is too gummy/hard/soft/crumbly, not sweet/sour/salty enough, too small/big, too much /little crust.  They seem to think there is One Pineapple Tart to rule them all and that I need pointers from them to achieve this elusive One Pineapple Tart. People should just eat, appreciate the free tarts and say mmm, yummy, thank you.  It’s simply good manners and grace.

Over time, our taste buds change and our needs change and hence my recipes change.  I used to love pineapple tarts that melt and crumble in the mouth.  I no longer do.  Now I like something with more crunch and more robust, not so delicate as I need them to survive the journey to my kids’ school.   I still like it really buttery, and have equal amount of pineapple to crust. I’m more about flavor and taste than looks.  So it’s perfectly all right to me if they come out looking a bit pale and cracked.  I also have to make sure the recipe has no milk as some of us are lactose-intolerant, as well as no other unnecessary artificial additives like coloring and artificial flavoring.

So here’s my 2017 version.  It’s slightly crunchy, buttery (not flour-y or doughy), bite-size and equal amount of stuffing to crust.

Pineapple Tarts (sorry I don’t know how many it makes. Just a lot.  Like about 250?)

250 g cold salted butter (use the best butter)

425 g plain flour

pinch of salt

1 egg (70g size), beaten

4 Tbsp sugar

3 Tbsp desiccated coconut

Rub butter into flour using finger tips until resembles bread crumbs. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix into a smooth non-sticky dough.  If it is a little tacky, it’s ok as you can dust with flour later.  Leave dough to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or a few days.

Pineapple paste/jam

Sorry, these days I take short cuts and buy the packet of paste from the shops.  BUT, when I was in Michigan and desperately needed pineapple tarts, I used canned crushed pineapple in juice. Boil the crushed pineapple (with juice, for flavor).  Sugar if you wish and boil until you get dry-ish pineapple paste.

So as for mise en place, first roll all the pineapple paste and all the dough approximately equal in size. Then stuff the pineapple into the dough.  Roll in the palms of your hands to achieve a smooth dough.

image

Short crust pastry don’t exactly expand when cooking, so go ahead and place them close together.  I can make about 77 0n one cookie sheet.

Bake about 160 c for about 15 min, rotate pan if you need to, egg wash if you wish (I don’t), bake another 15 min.

It takes longer to make than to eat.  So do make more! 8D

 

 

Milk Kefir Pancakes

image

Recently I bought milk kefir grains off somebody from Carousell.  It cost me $5 for a little teaspoon of milk kefir grains.  I really had my doubts about such a teensy amount of kefir grains. But only for a day! Coz the next day, my grains looked like there were more! Now  I am churning out more milk kefir than I can consume! In our warm climate, they are ready in about half a day, which is too fast for me. So I leave them for up to about 48 hours.  As a result they turn out really tangy.  Then it struck me that it would be perfect for replacing the yogurt in my yogurt pancakes.

It made really nice fluffy pancakes!  Check out the thick stack!

image

Milk Kefir Pancakes (makes about 5)

1 cup milk kefir (quite tangy, after abt 12 hour fermentation)

1 egg (beaten)

1 cup all purpose flour

1 Tbsp sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 Tbsp oil

Mix everything together and leave it for about *1/2 hour for the baking soda to work.

Cook pancake on non-stick pan.

*It’s not tangy by the time it’s cooked because I gave the baking soda time to work. In simple layman terms, the kefir is acidic, baking soda alkaline. So when they come together, they kinda cancel each other out, leaving behind lotsa gas and bubbles, thence resulting in fluffiness.=D