Annual homebaker gathering 2013

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Last Saturday, I attended a homebaker/food blogger gathering, initiated by Jane (Passionate About Baking). The last time all of us met was more than a year ago already! It's interesting how most of us got to know each other and "interact" through FB only; but when it comes to gathering, we had lots to chat as if we knew each other for a long time! Probably coz of common topics like cooking, baking and blogging. The gathering is sort of an extension to our online comments/chatting. The power of social media I guess.

Quite a few people couldn't make it for the gathering unfortunately. We have Jane (Passionate About Baking), Alan (TravellingFoodies), Rei (All That Matters), Annie (Annielicious Food), Veronica (Peng's Kitchen), Bee Bee (Honey Bee Sweets), Lynette and myself.

And of course, our homemade food, which I think taste better than those served at commercial high teas.

 Look at the spread (and that's not all)!

 Fried pumpkin beehoon by Jane. I never thought of adding pumpkin to fried beehoon, it gave a natural sweetness to the beehoon, gonna try it!

 Oriental salad by Jane. I love cucumber and naturally I like this salad!

 Kinako Mochi by Rei. Chewy and soft mochi coated with Japanese soy bean powder. Yum!!

 Plum sauce chicken wings. I love plum sauce and chicken wings, need I say more ;p Haven't tried cooking chicken wings using plum sauce, so gonna try cooking this as well!

 Fruit tart by Bee Bee. Crispy shortcrust pastry with pastry cream and topped with lotsa fruits!

Maple pork balls by Bee Bee. Lovely idea of adding maple syrup to homemade pork balls. I'm gonna try this the next time I make pork/chicken balls.

Falafel by Veronica. She made this for the Dec Asian Food Festival which is Middle-East theme.Very interesting, made of ground chickpeas and served with a tahini sauce.

Cheese & ham puffs by Veronica. Cheesy and savoury puff, onion was added which gave a very nice aroma.

My contribution - Kong Ba Bao. Pork belly marinated for at least 5hrs, steamed for 2hrs and then left overnight for full flavours to develop :) Will post recipe soon.

Another contribution - Hong Kong style pan-fried radish cake. This is the dim sum version where the texture is almost melt-in-the-mouth. I wanna use up the daikon that I brought back from Hokkaido so made a small tray of this. Have posted the recipe before.

Osmanthus jelly by Annie. Bouncy and fragrant with addition of osmanthus flower and goji. I tabao all the extras :p I must learn to make this!


Apom berkuah with kuah pengat pisang by Alan. The pancakes were fluffy and the sauce was so nice! Creamy, aromatic and not too sweet!

Was so full that I could only take a very light dinner that day! Really hope we could meet up more often coz there will always be lots of yummy food to eat and recipes to learn!!!

Tamarind Tea (nam ma kam) and Lemon Grass Tea (nam tak rai) - AFF Thailand Nov 2013

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When I was flipping through Forest Leong's The Best of Thai Home Cooking book, I came across this interesting beverage, Tamarind Tea (nam ma kam). Very interesting as I only know tamarind is used in cooking but a beverage?

Since I have all the ingredients and it's so simple, I gave it a try immediately. The tea is best served chilled with lots of ice, taste sweet and sourish, with a fruity aftertaste, quite addictive I must say! I think those who like beverage such as plum juice would like it as it's quite similar.


But hubby didn't like the Tamarind Tea. So I made him Lemon Grass Tea (nam tak rai) instead. Both of us love the fragrance and taste of lemon grass, and once in a while I would cook dishes like lemon grass chicken. Many recipes include screwpine (pandan) leaves and ginger, but we prefer just pure lemon grass. It's such a soothing and refreshing beverage that could be served both warm or chilled.


Tamarind Tea (nam ma kam)
(adapted from The Best of Thai Home Cooking by Forest Leong)

Ingredients
  • 50g Tamarind pulp
  • 1.2L Water
  • 80g White sugar (or rock sugar)
  • Pinch of salt
 Steps
  1. Bring water to boil in a pot. Add tamarind pulp and stir until pulp is dissolved.
  2. Leave to boil for 10 mins, then strain to remove seeds and fibre.
  3. Return strained water to pot and heat over medium heat. Add sugar and salt and stir till dissolved. Taste and adjust sweetness if desired.
  4. Boil for another 3-4 mins, then remove from heat.
  5. Set aside to cool, then chill in fridge or add ice to serve.

 Lemon Grass Tea (nam tak rai)
(adapted from The Best of Thai Home Cooking by Forest Leong)

Ingredients
  • 100g Lemon Grass
  • 1L Water
  • 50g White sugar (or rock sugar)

Steps

  • Remove the outer leaves of the lemon grass. Cut into small sections and bruise the lemon grass to release fragrant.
  • Bring water to boil in a pot. Add lemon grass.
  • Leave to boil for 10 mins. Add sugar and stir till dissolved. Adjust sweetness if desired.
  • Remove from heat and strain.
  • Serve hot or chilled.


I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest ( Thailand ) - Nov Month  hosted by Lena of Frozen Wings.

Steamed Chilli and Lime Squid (pla muk neng ma now) - AFF Thailand Nov 2013

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Hubby just went fishing in Malaysia recently and returned with an abundance of fish and squid. The species of squid is not the usual one that we find at fresh market, the flesh is slightly thicker and tougher. I'm not sure what it's called in English or Mandarin, but in Teochew dialect term, it's known as "青目" literally translated as "Green eye".


I took the opportunity to cook another favourite thai dish of my family, Steamed Chilli and Lime Squid, pla muk neng ma now, the recipe adapted from Forest Leong's The Best of Thai Home Cooking. I had the opportunity of attending her cooking classes a few times and she's such a friendly and approachable chef who tries her best to explain ingredients and cooking method thoroughly and answers all questions asked.

This recipe is really simple, the combination of chilli, lime, fish sauce, chicken stock, garlic and chinese celery really bring out the sweetness of the squid, and quite easy to prepare too!

Steamed Chilli and Lime Squid (pla muk neng ma now)
(recipe adapted from The Best of Thai Home Cooking by Forest Leong)

Ingredients
  • 2 pieces of mid-size squid
  • Seasonings
    • 60ml of lime juice
    • 2 Tbsp of fish sauce
    • 60ml of chicken stock (I prepare my own chicken stock based on her recipe given in the book, alternatively, you can use commercial packets like Swanson or Heinz)
    • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 stalks of chinese celery, cut into short pieces
  • 3-4 pieces of red chilli, cut into small pieces
Steps
  1. Separate squid heads from tubes and set aside. Remove innards and ink sac, and peel away as much skin as possible. Rinse and drain well, and slice tubes into 1cm thick slices. Place squid in a shallow steaming plate and set aside. *I did not use the squid heads for this dish.
  2. Combine ingredients for seasoning and mix well. Pour mixture over squid, and sprinkle garlic on top.
  3. Steam squid over high heat for 4-5 mins depending on size of squid, squid should appear opaque and tender.
  4. Transfer squid to a serving plate, pour steaming juices over, garnish with chinese celery and chilli and serve immediately. 
Chicken Stock

Ingredients
  • 1kg of chicken bones or lean chicken meat (I use chicken bones and feet)
  • 2 white onions, peeled and cut into half
  • 2 coriander roots
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 white peppercorns
  • 1.5 litres water
Steps
  • Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat and simmer for about 1hr. Remove from heat and strain stock.
  • The recipe makes about 1.5 litres of stock. If not using immediately, leave stock to cool and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. 


I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest ( Thailand ) - Nov Month  hosted by Lena of Frozen Wings.

Launch of Meg's Pastry Studio

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I've just launched my very own pastry blogshop - Meg's Pastry Studio!

http://megpastrystudio.blogspot.sg


Not really a big deal lah, just a little home-baking venture. Over the past few years, I've been taking random pastry orders from colleagues, close friends and especially dear friend WH who is my biggest supporter! Really appreciate them for their support and trust in me!

Ever since I renovated my kitchen early this year with more kitchen space and oven capacity, I began to bake a lot more. Interestingly, after I blogged about my rainbow cake (here, here and here) and lychee ombre cake, a number of orders came in over the past few months, some from friends and some from word of mouth and some through my blog (I think they searched for rainbow/ombre cakes and came to know about me). I'm definitely happy because this means more chance for me to learn and practise.

Friends have been asking whether I have any website where they could browse what's available for order, and usually I just point them to this blog, or email/whatsapp photos to them. Well, I've been thinking about a website, but you know procrastinating all this while :p

Anyways, I decide to finally do it, a slightly easier platform for everyone to refer to. Well, just a simple blogsite, nothing fanciful, no e-commerce whatsoever because everything is customisable. Actually I've also been thinking about an appropriate name for the longest time and it was until after my recent Hokkaido trip that I finalised the name of the blogsite. One of my favourite zakka brand in Japan is known as 私の部屋 watashi no heya; and when I was at Otaru I found a little glass shop called ゆず工房 yuzu koubou, so I combined the idea and came up 私の菓子工房 watashi no kashi koubou, which translates to My Pastry Studio. I also decide that tagging to my name may be easier to recall, so Meg's Pastry Studio, that's it!

I'm not really expecting too much out of this. It's merely an extension to my hobby and I do want to take it slowly and easy, baking to my own pace without compromising on quality. There are also certain things I'm not ready to take on, like fondant cakes or figurines so you don't see them here.

So if you are keen in trying my pastries, hop over to Meg's Pastry Studio, browse through and drop me an email. If there are certain items you have in mind but not listed, feel free to email me for further discussion.





Thai Shrimp Patty (Tod Mun Goong) - AFF Thailand Nov 2013

If I were to correspond my favourite cuisine with my travels, it's not difficult to guess that besides Japan, another of my favourite destination is Thailand! Indeed, I have come to realise that hubby and I give very heavy weightage to cuisine/food when it comes to choosing our holiday destinations, coz we love food and always look forward to good authentic meals while overseas.

My favourite must-order dish when we go to any Thai eatery is Tod Mun Goong which is deep fried shrimp cake/patty, made with minced shrimp and squid/fish paste coated with bread crumb then deep fried to a crisp; it's crispy on the outside and juicy/bouncy inside and taste absolutely yummy when dipped in thai sweet plum sauce or chilli sauce.

Tod Mun Goong is considered an appetiser and I think almost all Thai eateries sell this dish. Usually I'll set my eyes on this dish and let hubby decide on the rest of the dishes :p One of the best Tod Mun Goong I've eaten was at Sabieng Lae, Koh Samui. Since we couldn't fly there often (air ticket is notoriously expensive), I could only satisfy my craving for this dish at local Thai restaurants such as Joe's Kitchen at Alexandra which did quite a good rendition of the dish.


I've also thought of replicating it at home. Tried searching thai cuisine cookbooks but all of them only feature thai fish cake or prawn toast? Initially I didn't know that this dish is called Tod Mun Goong, I searched the internet with terms like thai prawn cake and results didn't seem like what I'm looking for as well.

Then recently I was at Kinokuniya bookstore browsing the cook book section and came across this thai cuisine cookbook written by a taiwanese cook,  爱上cc老师的泰国菜. Bingo! I found the recipe I've been looking for! And coincidentally I also found out by chance the name of this dish and several recipes on the internet. It's so surreal coz all this while I was wondering what dish to attempt for AFF Thailand, it's all fated :p!!! LOL!!


Anyway, I compared the recipes found on the internet with the cookbook. For this cookbook, the main ingredients are shrimp and squid paste, whereas some recipes use fish paste. There are also recipes which use only shrimp and interestingly pork lard. Hmmm....

I decided to try the recipe by cc老师 first. The steps are quite simple actually, mix all the ingredients like shrimp, squid paste, coriander root, baking soda, tapioca starch, white pepper powder, white sugar, fish sauce, egg, cooking rice wine together into a paste, roll into balls, coat with bread crumb, flatten then deep fried. But somehow the paste turned out a little too wet (The egg I used is a large one, which might be too much liquid. I didn't have tapioca starch so I substituted with corn starch, not sure if this affected the result) so I had to add more corn starch to make it slightly drier.

When deep frying, the flattened patty would puff up considerably, so cute :p

Texture-wise, the outside was very crispy naturally. As for the inside, it wasn't as bouncy and compact as those sold commercially. Taste-wise, a little bland with some hints of squid and shrimp taste. Since I ate it with a dip sauce, it's ok.


This dip sauce recipe (made from fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind sauce, garlic, coriander root, chilli, lemon juice) is also provided in the cook book together with the shrimp patty recipe. And it's surprisingly good! Very tangy, slightly saltish and sweet with subtle notes of spiciness. When you eat the sauce on its own it seemed too overwhelming but when paired with the shrimp patty, they were match-made in heaven!!


But of course we could simply serve the shrimp patty with the good old thai sweet chilli sauce or sweet plum sauce. Actually most thai eateries serve the thai sweet chilli sauce, only Sabieng Lae (Koh Samui) serves the sweet plum sauce.  Having tasted all 3 dip sauces, I must say the homemade sauce won hands down!

Tod Mun Goong ~ Thai Shrimp Patty
(recipe from 爱上cc老师的泰国菜)
(makes about 18-20 pieces)
Ingredients
  • 400g Shrimp
  • 200g Squid paste (note 1)
  • 2 tbsp Coriander root (note 2)
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 4 tbsp Tapioca starch (note 3)
  • Dash White pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp White sugar
  • 1/3 tbsp Fish sauce
  • 1 Egg (note 4)
  • 1 tbsp Cooking rice wine
  • Bread crumbs
Steps
  1. De-shell the shrimps, remove the intestine mud from the shrimps, wash thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen towel. Chop the shrimps finely.
  2. Put finely chopped shrimps and all the ingredients (except bread crumbs) into a large mixing bowl and mix well till a sticky paste form.
  3. Spread some cooking oil on both palms, scoop 1 tbsp of paste on the palms and shape into a ball.
  4. Coat well with bread crumbs and flatten slightly.
  5. In a pot, heat oil to 160 degree celsius and deep fry patties till golden brown and inflated. Drain on kitchen towel to remove excess oil.
  6. Serve warm with dip sauce.
Notes
  1. You can make your own squid paste by chopping squids till very fine, add 1 tbsp of cooking rice wine, white pepper powder, some salt, corn starch and tapioca starch and mix well. For me, I just buy frozen squid paste available at supermarket.
  2. I didn't have enough coriander root, so I added only 1 tbsp. I was also worried that hubby and dear son might be turned off by the smell if I use the full amount.
  3. I didn't have tapioca starch so I use corn starch. I also added about 6-7 tbsp as my paste was too wet. *Subsequent tries, I used tapioca starch and the results were better. So it's best to stick to tapioca starch.
  4. Could probably use a smaller egg (mine was 60g egg) or add bit by bit to ensure paste wasn't too wet.

Dip sauce

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp Fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Palm sugar (I use 1 disc of palm sugar; the package is like a long tube of many discs of palm sugar)
  • 2 tbsp Tamarind sauce (I use 2 tbsp of tamarind pulp, added with 5 tbsp of water to extract 2 tbsp of sauce)
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, finely chopped (I use only 1 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp Coriander root, finely chopped (I use the stems and leaves, not the roots)
  • 1 tbsp Chilli, finely chopped (I use chilli padi and only half a piece)
  • 4 tbsp Lemon juice (I use juice from half a lemon)
Steps
  • Boil fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind sauce together. Let cool down and add the rest of the ingredients to mix well. *I didn't read instructions properly and just added everything into pot and boil. Seems ok.


This recipe is certainly a keeper! I can finally make Tod Mun Goong at home to satisfy my cravings anytime! Although it's still not the same as what the thai eateries serve, both hubby and the little rascal liked it. Hubby also gave thumbs up to the dip sauce, commenting that it's better than thai sweet chilli sauce or sweet plum sauce. Gonna try the recipe again, this time with tapioca starch and less egg perhaps, or even add pork lard as suggested by some recipes.

Recipe is taken from this cook book :)

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest ( Thailand ) - Nov Month  hosted by Lena of Frozen Wings.

SCS - Channel 8 Facebook Friends Event at Capella Hotel, Sentosa

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I just returned from Hokkaido a few days back and was feeling rather sluggish and grumpy (due to the humidity, as compared to the nice cold climate in Hokkaido). So was really looking forward to this SCS - Channel 8 Facebook Friends Event - Sweet Culinary Sensations Workshop held at the Capella Hotel, Sentosa this afternoon.

When I first saw the announcement, I knew that I wanna attend coz I've never attended such events before, I can learn to make a new cake, it's held at Capella with a delectable high tea spread and the attractive goodie bag sponsored by SCS dairy worth $128!! I managed to convince hubby to join in the event with me and we were lucky to be selected after submitting our details via Channel 8 FB page :)))


The event was hosted by Yes933 DJ Jiahui and the cakes were demo-ed by Chef Sam Yong from Capella Hotel. 2 recipes were demo-ed, the Strawberry Fraisier Cake and Capella's Signature Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie.

There was also a Bake-off Challenge, where 5 pairs of contestants (selected from participants who opted in for the challenge) would re-create the Fraisier Cake within 45 mins and judged by SCS Dairy Singapore, 2 renown food bloggers and votes from remaining participants. I had wanted to opt in for this challenge but hubby wasn't keen. But he sort of regretted after hearing that winners could get Capella vouchers. Haha.


 Tadah! And this was the Strawberry Fraisier Cake created by Chef Sam.


Throughout the workshop, he provided many useful tips about baking and answered any queries which the participants have. With Chef Sam's detail explanations, I'm definitely gonna to bake this cake soon!


Besides the Strawberry Fraisier Cake, he also demo-ed the Capella's Signature Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie which was supposedly so popular that his kitchen had to churn out thousands each month and guests also requested for the recipe repeatedly!

Here's a different presentation of the cookie. The giant dough was baked in a cast iron pan and then topped with Vanilla Bean ice-cream and drizzled with salted caramel sauce. Yummy!


All participants were also treated to a delectable high tea spread of pastries all made using SCS butter. The photos only showed a fraction of what's available, there were at least 10 different types of pastries!

I loved the chewy chocolate chip cookie and lemon meringue tart and hubby liked the choux pastry oozing with cream and the cranberry scones.


The Strawberry Fraisier Cake was a delight as well, the sponge was really soft! Only let-down was the banana cake which tasted a little stale and hard.


After the event, all participants received a limited edition baker's kit worth, kindly sponsored by SCS Dairy Singapore! There's an apron, oven glove, 2 silicone baking pans, measuring cups, measuring spoons, non-stick baking tray, spatula, whisk, silicone cupcake mould and even an electronic timer! So generous of SCS.


Hubby and I each received a set of the kit and dear son immediately claimed one box for himself. Our little budding baker was extremely pleased with his own set of baker's kit!


I can't wait to attempt the Fraiser Cake recipe soon. Uh-oh, I still have hundreds of photos from the Hokkaido trip and 5 rainbow/ombre cake orders upcoming! Stay tuned!!