Sandwich Wreath

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I've been exploring different methods of baking bread and have attempted straight-dough, tangzhong, Yudane and old dough methods so far. Not sure why but I have no luck with straight-dough method, usually the breads turn out not as fluffy as I desired. Still prefer the tangzhong or old dough methods which yield soft fluffy breads with rich aroma and remain nice the next day.

Recently, I bought a newly launched pull-apart bread book (from Taiwan) and attempted another sponge-dough method of baking bread which yields equally soft and fluffy breads. Actually I have read about sponge-dough method before; it's more tedious than any other methods by dividing flour and water into a large and small proportion and pre-fermenting the larger proportion for a longer period of time before making the dough proper. The proportion of flour and water is about 70-30%. The 70% of flour/water is first kneaded into dough, proof for 30 mins and then transferred to the fridge for low temperature fermentation/proofing overnight. Next day, just combine the pre-ferment dough with the remaining 30% flour/water and other ingredients to start the process of kneading, proofing, shaping, proofing and baking.


I guess each method of bread making has its own pros and cons and most importantly, find a suitable method which fits the particular needs each time I want to bake. Since I still haven't find a straight-dough method to my liking and I wouldn't even think of chemicals like bread improver what-not, I have to stick to these few methods of baking for now.

Yudane and sponge-dough require advance planning; old dough require a one-time effort and ready to bake anytime; tangzhong would be the one which doesn't require planning and can get started fairly quickly.


Anyways, I love the presentation of this sandwich ring or sandwich wreath, it's pretty to look at and convenient to eat since it's a pull-apart bread.


After baking the bread ring, just slice each bun in the middle and insert ingredients desired. This time I'm using ham, cheese, lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomato and some mayonnaise as well.


Sandwich Wreath
(makes 8 pull-apart buns, using 21cm mould)

Ingredients

Sponge-dough
  • 155g bread flour
  • 110g water
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
Steps
  1. Combine all 3 ingredients in a mixing bowl, beat at medium speed using dough hook, and knead until dough is smooth and leaves bottom of bowl.
  2. Round the dough, place it back to the bowl, cover bowl with clingwrap and proof for 30 mins.
  3. Thereafter, clingwrap the dough and place in fridge for proofing overnight.
Main dough
  • 1 portion of sponge dough, thaw to room temperature
  • 65g bread flour
  • 45g water
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 18g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3g salt
  • 18g unsalted butter, slightly softened
Steps
  1. Grease a 21-cm ring mould and set aside.
  2. Place flour, water, yeast, sugar, honey and salt into mixing bowl. Tear sponge-dough into small pieces and add in. Knead the ingredients at medium speed using dough hook, until gluten is formed.
  3. Add butter piece by piece into the dough. Knead at medium high speed until dough is smooth, leaves bottom of bowl and stretches without breaking (window pane stage).
  4. Round the dough, place it back to the bowl, cover bowl with clingwrap and proof for 45-50 mins until dough doubles about 1.5 to 2 times.
  5. After first proofing, weight of dough is about 412g, divide into 8 portions about 51g each. Roughly round each dough and let rest for 10 mins (covered with clingwrap).
  6. Round each dough nicely and place them into the ring mould. Cover with clingwrap and proof for 45 mins until dough doubles about 1.5 times.
  7. Preheat oven 190 degree celsius, top and bottom heat.
  8. Place ring mould into oven and bake at 190 degree celsius for 15 to 20 mins.
  9. Remove bread from mould, let bread cool completely on rack before serving.
  10. Slice middle of each bun and insert desired ingredients like ham, cheese, vegetables. Or eat the bread on its own.


I think next time I can try another dough method to compare results.

And use other ingredients for the buns like cream cheese, egg mayo, tuna mayo or even fruits like banana and strawberry.


Pleased with my new-found way of serving lunch to my kiddo!

Mille-Feuille Nabe (A Thousand Leaves Hotpot)

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I have bookmarked this dish for the longest time and procrastinated in preparing/cooking it because I thought it looked quite complicated with a long list of ingredients. But I realised how simple it is to prepare after trying out today, especially when I "cheated" by using store-bought broth :p 

Mille-Feuille Nabe is a Japanese-style hot pot that is cooked using napa cabbage and pork belly/collar slices in a savoury dashi broth. But traditionally, "Mille-Feuille" means a thousand leaves and is actually a French pastry made up of three layers of puff pastry, and two layers of crème pâtissière. Somehow the Japanese adopted the idea for cooking nabe by packing many layers of napa cabbage and pork slices into a pot :)


Whatever it is, it is just sooooooo pretty to look at, isn't it? And surprisingly easy to prepare. Main ingredients are just napa cabbage and pork slices (either pork belly or collar), whereas mushrooms and carrots are there to enhance visual appeal :p

As for the broth, the Japanese uses a dashi broth made using dried anchovies, kelp, dried shiitake mushroom, dried bonito flakes and seasonings like sake, soy sauce, mirin etc.

However, I'm too lazy too busy HB cannot take too much anchovies I decided to try using store-bought chicken broth instead. So happen I saw CP Food having a "2 for the price of 1" promo of its Clear Chicken Broth Concentrate and thought why not give it a try. Once in a while I will prepare my own chicken/meat stock or broth but it's a lot of work, and sometimes I will simply buy convenient packs chicken stock from the supermarket.

And yep, I simply pour the chicken broth concentrate and water into the pot after preparing the main ingredients, cook for 20-30 mins, viola! So simple! LOL =D


There are many blogs and videos showing exactly how to prepare and arrange the cabbage so I'm not going into details here. My ingredients are customised for my 20cm pot (serving 2-3 pax), so feel free to adjust accordingly. Some recipes use beansprouts and lay them at the bottom of the pot, I omitted this as my hb hates beansprouts. (Laid some enoki mushroom at first but removed them as I cut the cabbage layers too wide and the height became too tall for the pot).

Basically, one set consists of 3 layers of cabbage leaves and in between slices of pork collar. Arrange the layers as follow, 1 leaf, follow by 4 slices of pork, another leaf, another 4 slices of pork and finally 1 leaf to cover. Cut each set into 3 sections. Repeat until all leaves and pork slices are finished. Next, arrange the cabbage and pork layers into the pot. Start from the outer edges and pack the sets towards the centre. Try to pack as tightly as possible, as the cabbage will loosen during cooking. Stuff some enoki mushroom and Shimeji mushroom in the centre and if desired a few petals of carrot slices.


Finally add water and broth concentrate, almost to the brim (about 1/2 inch allowance). The broth is quite concentrated and salty, and the recommended proportion on the package is 40% broth 60% water. As the cabbage will release some water (thereby diluting the soup) during cooking, I decided to use 50% broth 50% water. Cook for about 15 mins covered, and then 10 mins uncovered. Ready to serve.

Mille-Feuille Nabe (A Thousand Leaves Hotpot)
(using 20cm pot, serves 2-3 pax)

Ingredients
  • 1 small napa cabbage, about 800g - 850g (remove first few leaves)
  • 500g thinly sliced pork collar (or belly)
  • Small bunch of enoki mushroom, shimeji mushroom and few slices of carrot
  • 400ml chicken broth concentrate (2 packets of CP)
  • 400ml water
  • Dipping sauce (optional):  3 tbsp soup from nabe, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice, dash of yuzu shichimi togarashi (Jap 7 spice yuzu flavour), 1 tsp spring onion
Steps
  • Remove all the leaves of the napa cabbage, wash and pat drain.
  • Start the layering. First 1 leaf of cabbage, followed by 4 slices of pork collar, then another leaf, another 4 slices of pork and finally top with 1 leaf. This is a set of 3 layers. Cut the set into 3 sections. Repeat until all cabbage leaves and pork slices are finished.
  • Arrange the sets into a cooking pot. Start from the outer edges and pack the sets towards the centre. Try to pack as tightly as possible, as the cabbage will loosen during cooking. Stuff some enoki mushroom and Shimeji mushroom in the centre and if desired a few petals of carrot slices.
  • Add water and chicken broth concentrate. Cover the pot and cook for 15 mins on medium heat. 
  • After 15 mins, remove cover and cook for another 10 mins.
  • Nabe is ready to be served. Best eaten hot, on its own or with dipping sauce.

I think this quick and easy dish looks pretty and is quite presentable for the upcoming Chinese New Year. It can be prepared in advance, store the whole pot in the fridge and cook just before eating. Feel free to play around with the ingredients, probably use some beef slices, add some dark leafy vegetables in between the layers and more mushrooms.


The napa cabbage is tender and savoury, having absorbed the flavours of the broth and pork. The pork is not too heavy since it's thinly sliced and quite flavourful as well. The soup is light and soothing to the palate. Overall quite a balanced and wholesome dish, very tasty even though no other seasonings are added.


This recipe is a keeper for me, whenever I crave for some easy-to-cook and wholesome 3-in-1 (meat, veggie, soup) meal =D

Bittergourd & Pork Ribs in Black Bean Sauce

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Oh My 天! 最近的天气真是热到... 动不动就汗流浃背, 火气都上来了! 

我十二月份到香港的时候在一家菜馆尝了这道 "凉瓜排骨豉汁" 就一直念念不忘, 想找机会
如法炮制. 刚好天气这么闷热, 听说苦瓜 (也叫凉瓜) 有清暑下火清心明目等功效, 就试着来煮一煮吧!

OMG, the weather really hotdieme! I'm literally drenched in sweat all day long, making me super frustrated and quick tempered!

When I went to Hong Kong for holiday last December, I tried this particular dish "Bittergourd & Pork Ribs in Black Bean Sauce" at a restaurant and fell in love with it. Since the weather is so hot, and bittergourd has cooling properties, this gave me the opportunity to try cooking it =D


小时候最讨厌吃苦瓜了, 可是现在却爱上了它! 是不是因为老了? 哈哈!

这道凉瓜排骨豉汁带咸又微苦, 如果有放辣椒还有点辣味, 真的超下饭的. 我想往后应该会常煮哦 :)

I used to hate bittergourd as a kid, but nowadays totally love it. Is it a sign of aging? LOL!

The dish is salty with tinge of bitterness, and if chilli is added, slightly spicy as well, perfect to go with a big bowl of rice! This recipe is definitely a keeper for me :)


Bittergourd & Pork Ribs in Black Bean Sauce 凉瓜排骨豉汁
(Serves 2) *reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qYgoKe2kxk

Ingredients
  • 300g Pork ribs, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 pc Bittergourd
  • 18g Salted black bean
  • 3 tbsp Rice wine
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 knob Ginger, grated
  • 3 pcs dried chilli (I use 1 stalk chilli padi) *Chilli is optional
  • 250ml, Water or Chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp Oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Soy sauce
  •  1/4 tsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tsp corn starch + 2 tbsp water
Steps
  1. Cut bittergourd lengthwise into half, remove white pith portion and discard. Slice bittergourd into about 6mm thickness. Soak in salt water for 30 mins. Once ready, drain and set aside.
  2. Soak the salted black bean in the rice wine for 30 mins. Once ready, drain and set aside.
  3. Heat a small pot of cooking oil, deep fry the pork ribs for 2-3 mins and the sliced bittergourd for 1 min. Set aside.
  4. Heat up 1 tbsp of cooking in a frying pan or wok, add minced garlic and grated ginger, stir fry till fragrant. Next add black bean and chilli (if using) and stir fry for a minute.
  5. Add water or chicken stock, oyster sauce, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add pork ribs, cover and let simmer at low heat for 30-40 mins, stirring every 10 mins.
  7. Add bittergourd, stir fry and then cover and simmer for a minute.
  8. Add corn starch slurry, stir fry to thicken the sauce. 
  9. Serve immediately.

Cocoa Rum Chiffon Cake

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Happy New Year!

Haha. I know I'm super late here :p But I've been busy with my kiddo as he officially commences his formal education journey i.e. Primary One. Saying which, frankly I am the one who needs time to adapt to the new routine and lifestyle more than him.

And so, finally I have time for a first formal bake of 2017 (last Friday) and posting recipe today :p

After a few days of new year and new term frenzy, I am seriously in need of some chocolate therapy and alcohol to perk me up. Nah, just joking about the alcohol. Actually I don't drink alcohol but I do love the aroma and like to use some in cooking and baking. Since I've not baked chiffon cakes for a long time, probably a light and tender cocoa chiffon (spiked with a little rum) can do =D I'm not really a chocolate person, and don't take much rich chocolate bakes :p

I'm not sure whether to call it chocolate rum chiffon, because only cocoa powder is used, but cocoa is chocolate right? Oh, whatever. I almost wanted to name it coco chanel already. Sorry, blabbering here, still having Primary One blues and hangover.

Many people are wary of baking chiffon due to the egg-separation method. I guess it takes some practice to get the hang of it, I myself failed many times :) Just be mindful when beating the egg whites (till soft peak stage - tip of meringue loops a little) and folding the meringue into main batter (scoop from bottom of batter).

The steps I used here are quite manageable with straightforward ingredients - dry ingredients (cake flour, baking powder and sugar), wet ingredients (cocoa powder melted in fresh milk, egg yolks, oil, rum and vanilla) and meringue (egg whites and sugar). This time, I used cocoa powder dissolved in fresh milk to get somewhat like melted chocolate. Next time, I could perhaps melt a mixture of dark and milk baking chocolate and see if the result is the same.

Cocoa Rum Chiffon Cake
(makes one 18cm cake + 10cm cake, or one 21-22cm cake)

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup fresh milk
  • 22g cocoa powder (I use Valrhona cocoa powder)
  • 75g cake flour
  • 1 + 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks (I use regular size 60g egg) 
  • 1/4 cup neutral tasting oil (I use grapeseed oil)
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • 40g caster sugar
Steps
  1. Preheat oven (top and bottom heat) at 165 degree celsius. Prepare the chiffon tubes, making sure they are dry and ungreased.
  2. Heat the fresh milk in a small pot, add cocoa powder and stir till dissolved. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool down.
  3. Sieve cake flour and baking powder into a big mixing bowl, add 100g caster sugar and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, add egg yolks, oil, rum, vanilla and cocoa milk mixture, stir till well blended.
  5. Add the wet ingredients (from 4) into the dry ingredients in (from 3), fold gently to mix, until just blended. Do not over mix the batter.
  6. Beat egg whites using electric mixer on medium high speed till foaming, add 40g caster sugar gradually, till soft peak stage.
  7. Fold one third of the egg white meringue into the batter (from 5) gently until just blended. Do not over mix the batter.
  8. Add another one third of the meringue into the batter, fold gently until just blended. Do not over mix the batter.
  9. Finally, pour the batter (from 8) back to the bowl with the remaining one third of meringue. Fold gently until just blended. Do not over mix the batter.
  10. Pour the batter (from 9) into the prepared chiffon pans, gently tap the pans on the counter top to remove air bubbles and send into the oven.
  11. Bake for 30 mins at 165 degree celsius (If using a larger pan, may need to increase baking time by 5-10 mins). To test if ready, insert a stick into the cake and if the stick is clean, the cake is done. Overturn the tube pan and let the cake cool down completely before unmolding the cake.
  12. After the cake is unmolded, keep it in an airtight container. The cake is best enjoyed the next day, for the flavours to fully develop. Eat it on its own or serve with some chantilly cream and strawberries.
I could smell a whiff of chocolate in the kitchen towards the last 5-8 mins of baking, how I love the aroma!
As usual, I couldn't wait till the next day, so sneaked a slice of it the very afternoon.


The cake has a tender texture and taste-wise on the lighter side, not too sweet with a mellow chocolate taste; can't really taste the rum but I could smell it. I love pairing the cake with some chantilly cream (whipping cream, mascarpone cheese and icing sugar) and strawberries (oh, chocolate and strawberries go so well together).

This recipe is a keeper for me, when I crave for just a little bit of chocolate and cake :)

Meg's Pastry Studio - 4th Q orders

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We've almost reached the end of 2016!

Haven't been baking much this year, due to many family matters, commitments and travels. As my boy is settling into Primary One next year, not sure how the schedule is going to be like upcoming, but I do hope to bake more. There have been so many plans and my wish-to-bake list is growing by the day, yet I cannot bring myself to settle down for serious baking!

Anyways, here were the orders I managed to take amidst all the travels and whatnot. Big thanks to everyone who have supported me in my baking journey so far!


My Sec school friend who has been so supportive the past year, ordered 8 dozens (separate into 2 delivery dates) of my bake cheese tarts to celebrate her daughter's full month. I must say, I've made so many tarts, I'm becoming a home tart expert! LOL!



Another of my classmate ordered this lovely rainbow cake to celebrate her daughter's first birthday. For "exposed" layer cakes like this, it's actually more tedious to make, as I have to bake a larger cake and trim away the sides so that the cake looks neat. So there's some wastage, although I try to eat some, or offer the trimmings to my son (poor thing, has to eat leftovers :p).

My friend also ordered some cupcakes for the party. Red velvet cupcake with cream cheese swiss meringue frosting is always recommended and welcomed at parties. I like to top mine with some Valrhona crunchy perles.

Mum of twin girls ordered two cakes to celebrate her daughters' birthdays in school. Last year she also ordered two cakes from me, really thankful to her for entrusting me with the cakes again this year.

The first cake is a 5 layer rainbow cake which is ever so popular, and decorated with flower marshmallows which makes the cake pretty and sweet. Centre is left empty for cake toppers.

The second cake is my watermelon cake, introduced a few months ago. Made 2 extra thick layers of sponge (each layer equivalent to 2 normal layers), sandwiched with rose-scented watermelon slices, chantilly cream and almond crumble; frosted with chantilly cream, and decorated with watermelon/rockmelon balls, chopped pistachio, rose petals and mint leaves.

Not sure what 2017 entails, but I certainly want to bake more! Besides that, I'm supposed to revamp/redesign this website by introducing my logo which I've already been using in my contact card for the past year. Hope that I can finally get down to doing it.

Looking forward to 2017!

Festive Gatherings 2016

Wow, it's nearly the end of the year and it has been pretty exciting for me the past week with festive celebrations and all! There were two festive gatherings at my place on Friday and Sunday (for my hb's colleagues and my Sec Sch/JC friends respectively), two cake orders for a twin's birthday celebration and treats for my son's Christmas celebration in school. Don't ask me why everything had to happen in this particular week, it just happened.

Since I don't have a helper, to pull off this feat, I had to plan my schedule carefully and time my purchases meticulously due to limited fridge capacity. That said, there were incidences where I forgot to buy certain items and had to make unnecessary trips to the supermarket or the places I went ran out of stock/didn't carry certain stock and I had to think of alternatives or make additional trips. Oh well.

Basically, I literally camped in my kitchen starting from Monday, all the way till Sunday, except when making countless purchasing trips to and fro the supermarkets and markets near my place! *PHEW*

Anyways, I'm kinda proud of myself for pulling it off altogether, baking/cooking up a storm on my own within a limited time frame. There were frustrating and challenging moments but I quite enjoyed the whole process and experience at the end of the day.

Here's sharing the menus for the two gatherings at my place and some of the recipes.



Festive Gathering 1 (Friday, 23 Dec 2016) - for hb's colleagues, preparing for about 18-19 pax.



  1. Nachos (Tostitos Scoops) with fresh salsa and avocado yogurt dips
  2. Veggie sticks with garlic mayo dip
  3. Pan-fried HK-style radish cake
  4. Cheddar sausage (Johnsonville)
  5. Kong Bak Bao (braised pork belly with ho hup bao)
  6. Vegetarian spring roll
  7. Potato curry samosa
  8. Tempura mushroom
  9. Fried beehoon with canned stewed pork
  10. Chicken curry (Prima premix)
  11. Bake Cheese Tart
  12. Sticky date toffee pudding


Nachos (Tostitos Scoops) with fresh salsa and avocado yogurt dips

Made this appetiser back in July and it was very well-received, so decided to make it again. I don't really like nachos chips, except for Tostitos Scoops which I feel was "lighter" then the usual ones. Instead of store-bought salsa sauce which tasted quite overwhelming on the palate (personally), I prefer making my own fresh salsa. Couldn't find jalapeno in the supermarkets and made do with chili padi which worked out ok fortunately. In addition to salsa, I also made a creamy and tangy avocado yogurt dip.
Once again, a popular item among guests.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/07/grazing-platter-tomato-salsa-and.htm

Veggie sticks with garlic mayo dip
Also made this appetiser before and usually well-received. The trio of cucumber, carrot and celery is very refreshing, especially with the homemade garlic mayo dip which is slightly tangy and complemented the sweetness and crunchiness of the veggies well.
Similarly, a popular item among guests.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2009/01/veggie-sticks-dips.html


Vegetarian spring roll, potato curry samosa, tempura mushroom
As there's an Indian guest who's vegetarian, I prepared a few vegetarian items after discussing with the hb. Spring roll and samosa are usually popular during parties, so decided to try it. Initially thought of getting those frozen ready-made ones from the supermarket, but the stubborn cook in me decided to make it myself! And surprisingly, both spring roll and potato curry samosa were not difficult to make at all! I made the spring rolls on Monday and potato curry samosa on Tuesday, and freeze them. The tempura mushroom was quite last minute, made on the day itself using a tempura premix.
These items should preferably be eaten while hot and crispy; the samosa stayed crispy for a longer time, but spring roll and tempura mushroom turned soft after a while. Got to think of a way to retain their crispiness.
Recipes for spring roll and samosa will be posted when I have time.

Pan-fried HK-style radish cake, Cheddar sausage (Johnsonville)
The HK-style radish cake is usually my must-make for gatherings/parties as it can be prepared in advance, stored in fridge or freezer and pan-fried very quickly.
Tasted nice even when cold, well-received among guests.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2011/07/hong-kong-style-pan-fried-radish-cake.html

The Johnsonville cheddar sausage is my family's absolute favourite sausage, it's not cheap at $9.95 per pack of six but tasted so cheesy and salty and yummy! I used my air-fryer to fry the whole sausage then sliced into sections. The first item to be gone!



Fried beehoon with canned stewed pork
Another popular party food, I like to fry my beehoon with canned stewed pork with lots of shredded cabbage and carrot. The beehoon will soaked up all the sauce from the stewed pork and taste really flavourful!
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2007/04/quick-easy-meals-ii-fried-beehoon.html

Chicken curry (Prima premix)
My hb insisted on curry, because he claimed that what's beehoon without curry? I don't have time to cook curry from scratch, and anyways, my family's favourite curry is the Prima premix one, so I stuck to this all the time. For the chicken, I always insist on using kampung chicken bought from the wet market, as the chicken texture is more chewy. For potato, I normally buy the "Holland" one, also better texture for cooking curry. I will usually cut the chicken and potato into bite-size pieces, easier for guests to eat.

These 2 items proved to be popular and all gone as well.

Kong Bak Bao (braised pork belly with ho hup bao)
Highlight of the menu! I don't usually cook this as this has to be prepared 2 days in advance and very tedious. But this item is always requested so I have to oblige :)
Day 1, blanch the pork belly, pan-fry on all sides, cut into slices and marinate overnight.
Day 2, steam the marinated pork belly in a wok for 2hrs. After cool down slightly, transfer to cast iron pot, cover and let flavours develop overnight.
Day 3, reheat in the morning, and reheat just before serving.
I prefer to steam the pork belly instead of cooking it over stove, as I feel that the natural juices from the pork get locked in, the meat gets tender evenly and stays intact.
Limited edition item (about 24 pieces), all gone in a jiffy!
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2014/09/pork-belly-bun-aff-singapore-sep-2014.html



Bake Cheese Tart, Sticky date toffee pudding
Since Bake Cheese Tart is the "in" dessert this year, and also my signature dessert, I had to bake it right :)
For this batch, I used my Part III recipe, and yielded 16 medium size and 41 petite ones (of which I gave 24 to my son's Christmas party in school).
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/07/hokkaido-bake-cheese-tart-iii.html

And since it's Christmas season, I baked the Sticky date toffee pudding cake, a cake which is very tender and moist and not too sweet. Not sharing recipe here yet, as it was from a past baking class. I do sell this cake though, for those keen to order.

While the desserts were well-received, there were some leftovers, probably because everyone was too full from the main dishes (and 4 guests didn't turn up last minute).

\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/


Festive Gathering 2 (Sunday, 25 Dec 2016) - for my JC/Sec Sch long time friends, preparing for about 19 adults and 15 kids.


This was an even bigger crowd than the previous gathering!
Had planned to BBQ some food items in order to ease the workload in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it started raining in the late afternoon and we had to forgo the BBQ last minute :( Had to scramble to cook up the BBQ food items using oven, stove and air-fryer. Luckily my friends came over my place earlier to help out.

  1. Nachos (Tostitos Scoops) with fresh salsa and avocado yogurt dips
  2. Quinoa salad
  3. Kong Bak Bao (braised pork belly with ho hup bao)
  4. Salmon croquettes
  5. Mac & Cheese
  6. Fried beehoon with canned stewed pork
  7. Bake Cheese Tart
  8. Sticky date toffee pudding
  9. Oven-baked/air-fried --- chicken wings, stuffed portobello mushroom, satay, otah otah, taiwan sausage, cheese sausage, sambal sotong




Nachos (Tostitos Scoops) with fresh salsa and avocado yogurt dips
Since this is very popular, it's a keeper! Had to make fresh batch because the fresh salsa and avocado dips don't keep well.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/07/grazing-platter-tomato-salsa-and.htm
Quinoa salad
This is a very refreshing salad which is healthy yet yummy, suitable for vegetarians! Made using mixed salad greens, quinoa, sweet & crunchy peppers (orange, yellow, red, green), carrot, olives, dried cranberries, dried raisins and a dressing of lemon juice, maple syrup, paprika and a pinch of salt.

Taiwan sausage, cheddar sausage
These were meant for the BBQ. Air-fryer to the rescue, 180 degree celsius for about 10 mins.

Salmon croquettes
This is my son's absolute favourite food, and it's also where I hid vegetables because he hates them. What's inside? Salmon, potato, cauliflower, carrot, baby oats, shredded cheese and a small cube of cream cheese in the middle. Coated with breadcrumbs and pan-fried.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2015/03/salmon-potato-cheese-croquette.html



Fried beehoon with canned stewed pork
Party staple which is a keeper. Wanted to make some curry to go with it (as the hb said so), but couldn't find kampung chichen leg/thigh meat. No kampung chicken, no curry.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2007/04/quick-easy-meals-ii-fried-beehoon.html

Mac & cheese
This was made for the kids. A kids-friendly milk and cheese sauce which is less salty. Basically heat up some milk, add a bit of flour to thicken, then add shredded cheese. Stir-fry some onion, mushroom, corn kernels and sweet peas, mix with cooked pasta and milk/cheese sauce, mix well to serve. Didn't make enough sauce and the pasta dried up a bit. Must make more sauce next time.


Portobello mushroom, sambal sotong, satay
These were meant to be barbecued. In the end, the satay went into the oven, whereas the sotong and mushroom went into the air-fryer. The satay was storebought, the sotong was from our last fishing trip in Malaysia (sambal storebought), portobello mushroom was actually last minute addition as I had a packet of mushroom in the fridge. Simply minced the stems, combine with some shredded cheese, stuff into the underside of the mushroom caps, sprinkle with some mixed herbs and air-fry.
Turned out very well in the end and all were wiped out quickly.

Chicken wings, Kong Bak Bao (braised pork belly with ho hup bao)
Likewise, the chicken wings were meant to be barbecued. Bought fresh kampung ones from the wet market and marinated them overnight. Baked half batch in the oven and the other half, I coated them with tapioca starch (taiwanese brand) and pan-fried them, followed by air-fried. Luckily both turned out ok, especially the fried version which was very well-received.

For the pork belly, made a bigger batch then the previous gathering, about 32 pieces, likewise all gone!
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2014/09/pork-belly-bun-aff-singapore-sep-2014.html


Bake Cheese Tart, Sticky date toffee pudding
To keep things simple, made the same desserts which proved to be popular.
For this batch of cheese tarts, I used my Part IV recipe, and yielded 18 medium size and 18 petite ones.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/10/hokkaido-bake-cheese-tart-iv.html

After the party on Sunday, and after washing/cleaning up the kitchen, I was totally knocked out until today!
Would I do it again? I would say, probably. It was challenging yet fulfilling, to see friends and guests enjoying the feast; it gave me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, I mean hardly would I have the chance to whip up a feast during normal days right? Looking forward to the next feast soon!

Petite Cheese Sausage Bun

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I haven't been baking any bread for a long time! In fact, I haven't been baking anything new, except for a few same old pastries and cakes :p Been moping around watching kdrama busy since I came back from family vacation last week and couldn't find my cooking/baking/blogging mojo :( I seriously gonna buck-up coz the festive season is upcoming and I've got two parties and festive bakes to manage!


Anyways, back to these petite cheese sausage buns.

My kiddo loves sausage buns so I will bake these from time to time, using old dough, Yudane or tangzhong (water-roux) methods of making sweet bread dough.



For this batch of sausage buns, I used the tangzhong method from this recipe book. Previously I have always been using the 65度C汤種面包 (65 degree celsius Tang Zhong Bread)and this time decided to try a slightly different recipe (actually the principle is about the same). The recipe in this book is just nice for making 10 petite sausage buns, perfect for my small family of three.


For sausage, I like to use this particular brand of petite sausage that comes in different flavours like original, cheese, black pepper and seaweed, available at NTUC or Cold Storage. Each sausage is about 6-7cm only and just the right length for making petite bun. Picture here is the original flavour, I used cheese flavour this time (forgot to take a photo).

No step-by-step photos, only recipe as I was running late and no time to take photos of the process. If keen, can refer to my old recipes using old dough method, which is almost similar.


Petite Cheese Sausage Bun
(makes 10 buns)

Tangzhong/Water roux method
  • 20g bread flour
  • 100 water
 *There will be leftover water roux (I forgot to weigh the balance), the balance can be cling-wrapped and store in fridge for 1-2 days. Discard if it turns greyish.

Sausage bun
  • 150g bread flour
  • 60g water roux
  • 3g instant dry yeast
  • 30g egg
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 15g milk powder
  • 30g water
  • 15g unsalted butter, cubed and slightly softened
  • 10 pcs petite cheese sausage
  • Balance egg for brushing
Steps 
  1. Making water roux: Combine bread flour and water in a pot and stir till dissolved. Place pot on stove over low heat. Stir continuously till thickened (temperature is around 60 degree celsius). Remove from heat and cover with clingwrap at the surface of the water roux. Set aside to cool before using.
  2. Making sausage bun: Place bread flour, water roux, yeast, egg, sugar, milk powder and water into a mixing bowl, beat on medium speed in an electric mixer using dough hook until combine.
  3. Once the ingredients are combined and gluten is formed, add unsalted butter piece by piece, and beat on medium high speed till thin membrane stage. Do the window pane test by stretching the dough, it will be almost translucent and not break.
  4. Round the dough, grease the mixing bowl and place the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and let it proof for 45 mins or until size doubles. To check if fermentation is done, poke a finger into the middle of the dough, if the hole stays, proofing is completed.
  5. Place the dough on a kneading mat, knead to remove air from the dough. Weight of dough is about 315g, divide into 10 portions, about 30-32g each.
  6. Round the dough portions, cover with cling wrap and let them rest for 10 mins.
  7. After 10 mins, the dough portions are ready to be used. Roll the dough into a thin log and twirl it around the sausage about 2-3 rounds.
  8. Place the dough seam facing down onto a baking tray lined with Silpat mat or baking parchment.
  9. Cover with clingwrap and final proof for about 45 mins.
  10. Once ready, brush with egg wash on the surface of the dough.
  11. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree celsius (top and bottom heat)  for about 15 mins.
  12. Remove tray from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Brush surface of bun with salted or unsalted butter (optional, for more shine). 

Seoul November 2016 - Day 6 Lotte Department Store, Shopping Haul

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Continued from
Day 1 Nine Tree Hotel Myeongdong, Gwangjang/Bangsan/Chungbu Markets, N Seoul Tower
Day 2 Hanbok, Gyeongbokgung, Tosokchon, Samcheongdong, Bukchon Hanok Village, Myeong-dong
Day 3 Namdaemun Market, Ewha Women's University, Hongdae Free Market / Hongik University Street
Day 4 King Sejong Statue, Jihwaja Royal Cuisine, Insadong, Cheonggyecheon Stream
Day 5 Nami Island, Noryangjin Fish Market

Day 6 - Lotte Duty Free Shopping / Lotte Department Store > Shuttle Bus to Incheon Airport > Shopping haul

Last morning in Seoul! Woke up early, had breakfast at Starbucks before proceeding to Lotte Duty Free to shop for some beauty products and then to the supermarket.

Lotte Department Store (photo taken one of the nights).

Duty Free Shopping are location at Levels 8, 9 and 10 (cannot remember exact levels but there are lifts that bring tourists directly to these levels, located behind the building). It was early morning like 9.30am yet the duty free shopping area was crowded with throngs of tourists!

Had read a number of reviews on what beauty products to buy so it was easy to zoom in directly to the brands I wanted instead of spending time browsing. Bought a few products from Hera and proceeded to Sulwhasoo which had really long queue for payment :(

By the time I was done, I had only 30 mins or so to browse the supermarket. When I got to the supermarket, really wished I had longer time here! The supermarket and food hall was big with a wide variety of food, vegetables, fruits, meat, seafood, grocery items. Should have explored the supermarket few days before where I had time to do so :(

The yuja (yuzu) cost 7000 won each, not cheap at all (although they are very big size). Wide variety of fruits on offer.

Large selection of vegetables too.


Meat, seafood, grocery.


Confectionery area, with lots of yummy looking cakes and desserts!

 Spotted at least 3 bakeries.

Pretty selection of cooked food, salads and fruits for takeaway.

Only managed to buy some kimchi as I did not have time to browse the supermarket in detail. Normally I would have spent at least 1-2 hours  browsing the whole supermarket and food hall aisle by aisle, like I said wish I had discover this place sooner :((((((

Reluctantly went back to the hotel for last packing, checked out and proceeded straight to the shuttle bus stop to catch the bus to the airport.

Had late lunch at a food court in the airport. The quality was surprisingly not bad. HB had a pork cutlet rice set; the pork cutlet was deep fried to a perfect crisp!

I had a bibimbap. I was craving for it but the HB didn't like it so didn't have a chance to eat it at all.


That concluded my first trip to Seoul! Would there be more trips in future? Perhaps, maybe! There are certain places I wish I had more time to explore, and there are certain places that I've checked the to-see-one-time list, and there are still other areas in Korea I wish to visit as well. So perhaps, maybe!

How does Seoul compare to Tokyo, my favourite city? Well, if I could only choose one destination, probably Tokyo would beat Seoul by a notch. I'm more of a zakka and homeware/bakeware/kitchenware kind of person and Tokyo has many specific areas that offer these things. Seoul is great for people who are into fashion, accessories, beauty products. In terms of food, Tokyo still has a slightly wider variety and choice. That said, I enjoy the traditional Korean tea houses very much. Anyways, it has been an enjoyable trip with many great experiences and finally I can say I've been to Seoul =D

\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/\(^o^)/

Here's sharing my shopping haul. Couldn't buy a lot because of the stupid 23kg luggage restriction by Asiana Airlines :(

Go Korea must buy snacks right?

From Lotte Mart - Honey Butter Mixed Nuts, Pringles that come in Honey Mustard, Mayo Cheese and Butter Caramel flavours and Honey Choco Stick.
Incheon Airport - Honey Butter Almond chocolate, Honey Butter Potato Biscuits and Chocolate Strawberry.

Super love the honey butter nuts and honey choco stick, the almond chocolate is not bad, the rest haven't try yet.

Yujacha and Omija-cha from Lotte Market.

 Assorted ingredients from Lotte Mart.


Kimchi from Lotte Supermarket.

 Korean cooking pots, bowls and cutlery from Namdaemun market.


Baking stuff from Bangsan Market.


Plastic knife set from Bangsan Market.


Long candles from Bangsan Market.

 Resealable cookies and treats bag from Bangsan Market.

My usual skincare products are from Japan actually. But since Korea is famous for beauty products, so I bought a few to try. Not the whole lot! Only serum and CC cushion from Hera, BB cream and face mask from Sulwhasoo and face mask from Royal Skin. The rest are all freebies!


Few more beauty products from random shops.

 Haha. Crazy to buy sanitary pads right? Well, the bargain at Lotte Mart was irresistible, that's all I can say.


Super love the rabbit fur neck warmer, bought at a shop at Samcheongdong. Hairband and clip were handmade items from Insadong. Sweater top was at a random shop at Myeongdong underground shopping. Black face mask was from a random shop at Samcheongdong too, I've always wanted one, haha. The traditional mirror was a gift from the hanbok rental shop.

Love the earrings! The top two pairs were from Ssamziegil at Insadong and bottom ones from Redeye in Myeongdong.

See, not a lot of shopping right, as compared to my haul from Japan :p Next time!!