Korean Soybean Paste Stew (Doenjang-jjigae 된장찌개) - AFF Apr 2014

Today marks the end of AFF Korea Apr 2014. Despite that, I think I'm hooked to Korean cuisine and would continue cooking some of our family favourites from time to time and try new ones as well!

While hubby like Kimchi-Jjigae, I prefer Doenjang-Jjigae. I remember eating this spicy soybean paste stew at a popular Korean family restaurant in Singapore and liked it very much. The few times we dined there, I would always order this stew. But the very last time I went, the stew had a very strange odour/taste which musked the flavour of doenjang, I even asked the staff whether that was Doenjang Jjigae, and the staff insisted it was. Then I realised probably the broth or seafood used in the stew wasn't fresh resulting in a strong fishy taste in the soup. Naturally that was the last time I visited that restaurant.

This month is a good opportunity to try cooking this soup at home, at least once. There are a few versions of the recipe but mostly similar. I decided to adapt the one by Korean Bapsang. Most recipes use Korean anchovy for broth/soup base, I didn't have any but didn't feel like using our local ones. Saw some fresh clams at the wet market and decided to use fresh clams for the broth/soup base.

Very pleased how the soup turned out. The fresh clam broth gave a sweet undertone to the soup and provided a complimentary role to the highlight of the stew, doenjang. All the ingredients, especially the thinly sliced pork belly matched the taste of the soup. Love it! This recipe is a keeper; I could cook it as a one-pot dish for the family (hubby and I only or non-spicy version so that dear son can eat too) by adding more ingredients like potato and mushroom or perhaps a smaller portion for myself as lunch.


Spicy soybean paste stew (Doenjang-jjigae 된장찌개)
(recipe from Korean Bapsang)

Ingredients
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 100g pork belly, thinly sliced (I bought those shabu shabu type of pork belly)
  • 1.5 tbsp Korean fermented soybean paste (doenjang)
  • 1 tsp Korean chilli pepper flakes ( gochugaru)
  • 3 cups clam broth (see below for recipe)
  • 10 clam meat
  • 250g tofu, cubed
  • 1 small zucchini, cubed
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk scallion, sliced
Steps
  1. Heat a pot with 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat. Saute garlic till fragrant, then add meat, soybean paste and chilli paste and fry for 3-4 mins.
  2. Add clam broth and clam meat and stir well to dissolve the soybean paste.
  3. Cover and boil over medium high heat for 4 to 5 mins.
  4. Add the tofu, zucchini, onion and chilli. Boil for another 8 mins.
  5. Add scallions and boil for another 2 mins.
  6. Off heat and serve immediately.
Clam broth (yields 6 cups of broth)
  • 1kg fresh clam
  • Water, about 1-2 inches above level of clams
  1. Soak fresh clam in water for 10 mins and clean/scrub any dirt on the clams. Discard the water.
  2. Place clams in a pot and add water enough to cover all the clams, about 1-2 inches more.
  3. Boil the clams for 10 mins till all the clams are opened.
  4. Remove all the clams and retrieve the meat. Discard the clams that remain closed. Use as desired or freeze in ziplock bag for future use.
  5. Strain the broth with fine mesh.
  6. Use broth immediately or put inside ziplock bags for freezing up to 2 months.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Korea, hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts.

Korean sweet pancakes (Hotteok 호떡) - AFF Korea Apr 2014

I've been eyeing this sweet pancakes (by Maangchi) since beginning of April and in fact watched her video a dozen times. Maangchi mentioned that this is one of the most popular street snack in Korea. Finally decided to do it today!

Halved the recipe since I'm just testing it out. It's really very simple (both the ingredients and steps). Just add the dough ingredients together in a bowl, mix thoroughly and let the dough rise two times. Then wrap with the filling ingredients and pan fry.

I made my Hotteok mini size about 8cm diameter, and tried two types of filling. The traditional one with brown sugar, walnut and cinnamon, and another popular Mozzarella cheese one.

I must say the hotteok tasted really yummy and like Maangchi said, they are best eaten hot. The pancake was crispy on the outside and chewy inside. The brown sugar melted into syrup which went well with the pancake, the cinnamon taste was so alluring (I'm a cinnamon lover) and the chopped walnut added a little bit of texture. The savoury option of mozzarella cheese filling was also very nice with a warm comfort in each bite.


Had four mini pancakes as my lunch (also having salad) and freeze the other half of the dough for another day, would probably let hubby and son try as well.

This is definitely a great snack, quite filling (no pun intended) I would say. I believe I will be making this pancake from time to time, probably make and freeze some dough in advance and cook whenever I have the craving :)

Korean sweet pancakes (Hotteok 호떡)
(recipe from Maangchi)

Ingredients (makes 4 regular size pancakes or 8 mini pancakes)

Dough
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all purpose/plain flour
Brown sugar filling (with excess)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tbsp walnut, lightly toasted and finely chopped
Steps
  • Put lukewarm water in a mixing bowl.
  • Add sugar, instant yeast, salt and oil. Mix well using rice scoop.
  • Add flour and mix well using rice scoop. A sticky dough will form.
  • Cover bowl with lid or clingwrap and let dough rise till double in size, about 1hr.
  • After 1hr, knead the dough lightly using rice scoop to remove gas bubbles. Cover and let rise for another 20 mins.
  •  Meanwhile, prepare brown sugar filling by mixing all the ingredients together.
  • After 20 mins, knead the dough again to remove gas bubbles.
  • Prepare a mat and spread about a handful of flour. Dust hands generously with flour.
  • Place the dough onto the mat. Lightly knead and divide into 8 portions.
  • Take one portion of dough, flatten it, put some filling in the center of the dough, then seal it (pitching inwards) to make a ball.
  • Repeat this 8 times to make 8 stuffed balls. If not using all the portions immediately, wrap the balance portions individually using clingwrap and chill in fridge or freezer.
  • Heat non-stick pan over medium low heat and add 1 tsp olive/vegetable oil.
  • Place 1 ball (sealed side downwards) onto the pan and press the dough with a spatula to flatten.
  • When the bottom of the dough ball is light golden brown, turn it over and cook the other side till light golden brown as well.
  • Best serve hot.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Korea, hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts.

Boiled pork wraps with spicy dipping sauce (Bossam보쌈, Ssamjang 쌈장) - AFF Korea Apr 2014

Hubby and I are late adopters in Korean cuisine, it's only in the recent years that we started dining at Korean eateries, usually the BBQ restaurants. We really enjoy the Korean style of eating grill meats - take a leaf of lettuce, place grill meat, top with spicy sauce, wrap and put the whole thing in the mouth! Recently hubby's Korean colleague introduced him the Korean way of eating grilled pork belly with kimchi and hubby was hooked, and would even crave for it these days.

Until AFF Korea, I've never cooked any Korean dishes at home before because hubby didn't like it previously and so I didn't bother to look up any recipes. And I always thought that Korean cuisine is very difficult and tedious, looking at how kimchi is prepared, the amount of banchan side dishes that come with each meal etc. So this month has been a eye-opener for me, to learn that some Korean dishes are not as hard as I deemed.

Anyways, as I was browsing through the submissions for AFF Korea, I saw this dish Bossam submitted by Kelly Siew Cooks and I was immediately inspired! This is very similar to the grilled meat lettuce wrap except that the pork belly is boiled in brine water. I'm really curious about whether the taste would be as good because grill pork belly has this tantalising charred taste and smell.

After cooking the pork belly, I was totally blown away! In fact during the cooking process, there was this intoxicating aroma floating around in the kitchen, I think that of the doenjang, which made me literally salivate! At the end of about 1hr15mins, the meat was really tender and very flavourful!

And oh, eaten with lettuce, kimchi and Ssamjang (Korean spicy dipping sauce), the taste was explosive! I couldn't stop myself from stuffing one wrap into my mouth after another. It wasn't very graceful looking, but hey who cares when it was soooo yummy!

Update: Hubby gave thumbs up to the Bossam too. He liked the Ssamjang as well! Between the 2 of us, we finished all the pork belly :p I forgot to count how many slices of pork belly there were, I think maybe 15-20? I think I ate 5 wraps as my lunch and another 5 for dinner; hubby ate the rest. I know that was a lot but we ate very little rice and drank some soup only (cooked ABC soup and drink mainly the soup), and I removed some of the skin and fats as well. #excuses :p haha.


Ingredients are simple and method totally easy. Basically just bring doenjang, salt, scallion, garlic, black pepper, bay leaf, ginger, instant coffee, onion and water to boil for 5 mins. Add the pork belly and boil for 20 mins at medium heat, then turn to low heat and simmer for another 50 mins. That's it. The pork belly turned tender and absorbed all the flavours.



Boiled pork wraps with spicy dipping sauce (Bossam보쌈, Ssamjang 쌈장)
(recipe reference from Korean Bapsang, Kelly Siew Cooks, Maangchi)

Ingredients


Meat preparation
  • 700g fresh pork belly
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 white parts of scallions (I use China scallion)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppers
  • 1 tbsp doenjang (fermented soybean paste)
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leave
  • 7 cups water
Steps for cooking meat
  • Place all the brine ingredients except pork belly into a pot, pour about 7 cups of water and bring to boil over medium high heat for 5 mins.
  • Add pork belly and boil for 20 mins, uncovered.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 50 mins, covered.
  • After 50 mins, the meat will become very tender. Turn off the heat and cool the meat in the cooking liquid to keep the meat moist.
  • Cut the pork belly into thin slices for the Bossam wrap.
  • Keep any leftover meat in the cooking liquid. Boil the meat in the liquid to reheat. This prevents the meat from drying out.
Ingredients for wrap
  • Green and red coral lettuce (or any other salad leaves of your choice)
  • Boiled pork belly, sliced
  • Kimchi (I bought home-made kimchi from a shop at Square 2, shop is located next to Solmart)
  • Ssamjang (store-bought or homemade - see below for recipe)
Steps for Bossam
  • Take a lettuce leaf. Place sliced pork belly on top. Add small piece of kimchi and half teaspoon of Ssamjang.
  • Wrap up like parcel or whichever way the ingredients are secured.
  • Pop the whole wrap into the mouth (sometimes I can only manage half coz the wrap is too big) and enjoy!

I saw Ssamjang sold in tubs just like Gochujang and Doenjang at the Korean supermarkets. But after looking at the recipe by Maangchi, I decided to make it myself since it's easy peasy! It's basically just a mixture of ingredients required, no cooking needed! It's fresher than store-bought and more delicious! 


Ssamjang 쌈장 Korean spicy dipping sauce(recipe from Maangchi)

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup doenjang (fermented soybean paste)
  • 1 tbsp gochujang (hot pepper paste)
  • 1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds, lighted toasted
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
Steps
  1. Place all the ingredients into a bowl, stir with a spoon till well mixed.
  2. Enjoy with Bossam or grilled meats.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Korea, hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts.

Korea Spicy Fried Chicken (Yangnyeom-tongdak 양념통닭) - AFF Korea Apr 2014

The other day I was asking hubby in the morning what he wanted for dinner. And his reply was "...the Korean fried chicken that you cooked, quite nice...". Then I recalled I was supposed to try the other spicy version, the Yangnyeom-tongdak 양념통닭!


I think this Korean spicy fried chicken is quite popular among the youngsters in Singapore now? I've heard about brands like Ne Ne Chicken, 4 Fingers Chicken, Woori Nara selling these infamous wings, whether spicy or non-spicy version. Did KFC (as in the fast food KFC not Korean Fried Chicken in short) also come out with something similar as well?

Oh well, I've not tried any of those so I can't comment on how they taste like. But I can declare for sure, this Yangnyeom-tongdak that I made was freaking delicious, literally finger-licking good! I couldn't stop raving about it to the hubby in the afternoon when I was doing a test batch. He too, said it was very good after trying it in the evening. He couldn't decide whether he liked this one better or the Dakgangjeong better. For me, this Yangnyeom-tongdak is the clear winner, because of my favourite magic sauce of the moment, Gochujang!

The chicken wings were crispy, crunchy, sticky, spicy, tangy and sweet, and the addition of chopped walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds added a nutty aroma to the wings. It's hard to describe how tasty it was, you have to try it yourself!


Basically the method of cooking is similar to Dakgangjeong, double-frying the wings to make them extra crunchy and then tossing the wings with special sauce.

Yangnyeom-tongdak used more ingredients to make the sauce and slightly more work, but the effort was totally worth it. I adapted the recipe a little, instead of strawberry jam in the original recipe, I used pomegranate molasses and yuzu jam as these are the only jam I have at home. I also used brown sugar instead of white sugar.

Go ahead, give it a try! Hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!



Korea Spicy Fried Chicken (Yangnyeom-tongdak 양념통닭)
(recipe adapted from Beyond Kimchee)

Ingredients
  • 500g chicken wings (about 6-7 pieces, separate into 12-14 drumlets and winglets)
  • 1/2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Potato starch or corn starch
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Handful of chopped walnut/almond and sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Sauce
  • 1/4 large onion or 1/2 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp Korean chilli paste Gochujang
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp yuzu jam
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp rice syrup 

Steps

  1. Season the chicken pieces with rice wine, ginger, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Puree onion, garlic and ginger using blender or mortar and pestle.
  3. In a saucepan, add puree and sauce ingredients, mix well.
  4. Heat saucepan to medium heat, and bring the sauce to boil. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 3-4 mins. The sauce will thicken slightly. Set aside.
  5. Coat the chicken pieces with potato starch. Make sure each piece is well coated.
  6. Heat oil in pot in medium heat. Once oil is hot, fry the chicken pieces until lightly golden. Remove and drain on paper towel.
  7. Turn up the heat to medium high and fry the chicken pieces again for another 2-3 mins, or until they look golden brown and feel crunchy (press using tongs). Drain on paper towel.
  8. Place all the chicken pieces, chopped nuts and sesame seeds in the pot of sauce and toss well to coat evenly.
  9. Best serve hot.


I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Korea, hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts.

Fried beehoon with canned pork 罐头猪肉炒米粉

Whenever I attend or organize large group potluck gatherings, I would offer to serve this dish which proved to be very popular among my friends. I guess it's the nostalgic childhood taste that our generation grows up with, the familiar "妈妈的味道". It's sort of a comfort food to many of us.

Once in a while, I would also cook this simple one-dish fried beehoon when pressed for time; and in fact this makes a convenient lunchbox meal for hubby to bring to work.

Some friends have been asking for the recipe, so after procrastinating for a long time finally decided to note the steps down because when I cook, I usually go by gut feel instead of actual measurements :p


Over the years, I've sort of "perfected the golden ratio" and exact taste and texture of how my family likes the beehoon to be done. No additional seasonings are needed, except for a pinch of salt when frying the cabbage/carrot, and the liquid from the can of braised pork. During the cooking process, the beehoon soaks up all the liquid and becomes tender. Each mouthful of beehoon, you can taste the salty aroma of the braised pork, as well as the sweetness from the cabbage and carrots.

I usually use the Tai Sun brand of beehoon (太山米粉) and the Narcissus brand of braised pork (水仙花牌). These are the brands used by my mum and I grew up with them (从小吃到大) :p

Feel free to use your preferred brands and also adjust the seasonings/taste/texture according to your personal preference :)


Fried beehoon with canned pork 罐头猪肉炒米粉
(serves 3-4)

Ingredients
  • 1/2 packet beehoon/rice vermicelli (about 200g)
  • 1 small can braised pork
  • 1/2 head small cabbage, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 medium size carrot, julienned
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt
Steps
  1. Soak the beehoon in water till soft, at least 30 mins. I usually soak till about to use.
  2. Heat oil in wok at medium high heat, add minced garlic and stir fry till fragrant.
  3. Add cabbage, carrot and pinch of salt, quick stir fry for 2-3 mins, till slightly tender and translucent. Remove from wok and set aside.
  4. In the same wok (adjust to medium heat, no need to add oil), add the braised pork pieces (reserve the liquid in the can first). Use the spatula to smash/cut the pork pieces, as they cook they will break into shreds.
  5. The fatty portion of the pork will melt, once the fat melts, drain the beehoon and add into the wok, quickly follow by the reserve liquid in the can.
  6. Fill the can full with water and add the water into the wok. Stir fry and toss the beehoon to mix well. I use spatula and chopstick. At this point, I will also use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the beehoon shorter.
  7. Cover the wok and let simmer till all the liquid is soaked up by the beehoon.
  8. Once liquid is all soaked up, add the cabbage and carrots. Give a quick stir fry and toss to mix all the ingredients with beehoon. Off heat.
  9. Best serve hot.

Korean Stir Fried Noodles (Japchae 잡채) - AFF Korea Apr 2014

I just got home from an overseas trip (guess where ;P) on Sat midnight, so have been busy unpacking and washing clothes these two days.

For today's lunch, I thought of just making do with instant noodles since I was still in a holiday mood. While ransacking the fridge for leftover food stuff that could go into the instant noodles, I found a small bag of spinach, some mini portobello mushroom, carrot and onion. Since I also have a packet of dang-myun or Korean sweet potato noodles bought for AFF Korea Apr 2014, I decided to pick myself up and cook Japchae! Just need to hop over to the supermarket near my place to pick up some beef and spring onions (actually I also need to buy ingredients for dinner lah).

Ingredients were simple for this famous and popular Korea stir fried noodles - dang-myun, beef (or pork for those who don't take beef), spinach, carrot, onion, spring onion, sesame seeds and basic seasonings. The tedious part came from preparing and cooking each ingredient individually first then tossing them together to combine, which is different from the usual stir fried noodles where ingredients were all cooked together.

Nonetheless, it was not too difficult and soon I had a huge bowl of Japchae staring at me. I had in fact halved the recipe (reference from Beyond Kimchi and Maangchi) and I guess the actual portion could serve four people. The photos shown here were for one pax; I saved the other half for tomorrow's lunch. From the websites, they mentioned that Koreans ate Japchae as side dishes or with rice. To me, this is good enough as a main dish by itself :)

I love how all the ingredients blended with each other perfectly. The star of the dish, dang-myun had a bouncy texture which I like; the carrot and onions were crunchy and sweet, beef was juicy, spinach was a tad bitter though (probably I could add more seasoning during the preparation). The toasted sesame seeds also added a nice aroma to the dish. Overall, my Japchae was on lighter side today because I wanted a light lunch. Since I have still have more than half a packet of dang-myun left, the next time I cook it, I would add more seasonings to make it more flavourful.


Korean Stir Fried Noodles (Japchae 잡채)
(serves 2, recipe adapted from Beyond Kimchi and Maangchi)

Ingredients
  • 150g Korean sweet potato noodles (dang-myun)
  • 100g beef, cut into small strips
  • 60g spinach, cut into small sections
  • 1/2 carrot, juliened
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 mini portobello mushroom, thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks spring onion, cut into small sections


Beef marinade
  • 2 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp rice wine, 1 clove garlic (minced), 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1/4 tsp pepper

Mushroom seasoning

  • 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp sesame oil

Spinach seasoning

  • Pinch of salt, sugar, splash of sesame oil

Noodle seasoning

  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (roasted), 1/4 tsp pepper
Steps
  1. Marinate the beef with the seasonings. Set aside.
  2. Boil water in a pot. Blanch mushrooms for 2 seconds. Take them out and rinse them in cold water. Squeeze out excess water. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same boiling water add spinach, blanch for 3 seconds. Take them out and rinse in cold water. Squeeze out excess water. Place in a bowl and set aside
  4. In the same pot of boiling water, add the noodles and cook for 6 mins.
  5. While the noodles are cooking, season the mushrooms and spinach with the seasoning ingredients separately. Set aside.
  6. Once the noodles are cooked, drain and rinse them under cold water. Cut the noodles into 2-3 sections. Set aside.
  7. In a frying pan, toast the sesame seeds for 1 min. Remove and set aside.
  8. In the same frying pan, add a 1 tsp of olive oil and saute the carrots with pinch of salt and sugar over medium heat, till slightly tender. Remove and set aside.
  9. Next, saute the onions with pinch of salt and sugar over medium heat, till translucent. Remove and set aside.
  10. Next, saute the spring onions with pinch of salt and sugar over medium heat for 20s. Remove and set aside.
  11. Next, saute beef and cook until done. Remove and set aside. Reserve the juice from the beef in the pan.
  12. Cook the noodles in the pan with the reserved meat juice over medium heat. Add the noodle seasoning and toss them well. Take the pan off the heat.
  13. Add the beef, spinach, mushrooms, onions,carrots, spring onions and sesame seeds into the pan. Toss well with the noodles.
  14. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or cold according to preference.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Korea, hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts.

Modern Vintage Cupcakes Hands-on Workshop

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Last Friday, I attended a Modern Vintage Cupcake Decoration Hands-on Workshop at Shermay's Cooking School conducted by Chef Jackie Tay. The workshop focused on basic techniques and applications in using fondant, gumpaste and edible icing images, and I got to decorate 6 cupcakes during the 4hr workshop :)

Although I shun away from fondant and gumpaste in my bakes because I don't like their cloyingly sweet and chemical taste, I do agree that fondant and gumpaste can create intricate and pretty looking edible decorations that look too good to eat.

When I saw the workshop put up at Shermay's Cooking School, I was immediately tempted because the cupcakes look irresistibly pretty and the vintage old English kind of theme appeals to me. It's always good to learn more, in case I may really need to apply fondant, gumpaste or icing images on my bakes in future. Moreover, I still have some credits left over from my expiring membership.

Here's my work. Sweet looking right? I couldn't bare to eat them!

Each student was provided with all the tools and materials but only edibles could be brought home. The earl grey cupcakes were pre-baked already, recipe was given in the recipe pack.

First we had to level the cupcakes and then prepare the fondant for the cupcake surface. Realised it's not that easy to smoothen the fondant surface.

Next, we cut the edible icing images and lay them on top of the fondant surface. Basically any images can be printed onto icing sheets with edible ink and there are a number of suppliers in Singapore that provide the printing service albeit quite expensive; an A4 size icing sheet cost about $12! Actually most ink jet printers could do the job so long as you have special edible ink cartridges but I guess maintenance would be an issue and it's not practical to have an ink jet printer dedicated to icing image printing only at home unless doing such printing regularly.

We then proceed to make buntings, bunny silhouette, butterflies, sugar plaque, pink carnation and english rose using fondant and gumpaste. I was so absorbed in making them that I forgot to take photos along the way.

At the end of the workshop, my 6 cupcakes for takeaway!

This carnation is my favourite of all the designs, created using 3 layers of gumpaste cut-outs from 3 sizes of PME carnation cutters. The difficulty in this was rolling the gumpaste till paper thin and then rolling the edges of the petal using a tool to create a slight ruffle effect.

I like this hand moulded English Rose as well. As this is done using free hand petal by petal, it's the most tedious of all the designs. Each petal had to be paper thin as well so that the rose could look soft and realistic.

The gumpaste butterflies were created using a motif stamp so it's not difficult but have to handle very carefully as it's very flimsy. The sugar plaque was made using fondant cut-outs of 2 circles. The outer edge of the plaque was then crimped using a crimper to create a raised ruffle design.

The bunny was quite straight forward, simply traced the silhouette from a bunny cut-out on a piece of gumpaste. The base was just a scalloped plaque stamped from fondant.

The buntings were cut-outs from leftover icing images and glued onto the fondant surface. The rope, bow and rose bud made using gumpaste.

This was the simplest design of the six. Just cut out a circle using scalloped stamp then cut out a smaller circle using another circular stamp. Although this was very straightforward, it was not easy to make sure the circles look balanced.

I was very glad to attend the workshop and gained useful knowledge and tips that I'm sure would be useful one of these days :)

Did I eat the cupcakes? Well, I ate half a cupcake just to try. Still don't like the taste of fondant, gumpaste as well as the icing image :( Doesn't matter, so long as they are pretty to look at!

Crispy and crunchy fried chicken (Dakgangjeong 닭강정) - AFF Korea Apr 2014

I've never tried Korean fried chicken before but I heard that it's very delicious. The chicken wings are double-fried to achieve a very crispy and crunchy texture and then coated with a spicy, sweet and sticky sauce. It sounds tantalising already!

While searching for a suitable recipe, I found 2 created by Maangchi, one version is Yangnyeom Tongdak and the other version is Dakgangjeong. I believe Yangnyeom is the more known or popular version, whereby one of the sauce used for coating is gochujang hot pepper sauce. Dakgangjeong is very similar, except that gochujang is not used. I decided to try Dakgangjeong first and went further to omit all the spice elements such as black pepper, mustard and dried red chilli peppers so that dear son can enjoy this dish as well. In fact, this dish reminds me of the Japanese fried chicken wings Tebasaki, I think methods are almost the same, probably some difference in the sauces used.

The most tedious part of the process was deep frying of the chicken wings because the wings had to be double-fried to achieve the crispiness. The first time at lower temperature and longer duration in order to cook the wings, the second time higher temperature and shorter duration. I don't like to do deep frying at home because in order to save cooking oil, I fry using a small pot and each time can only fry 3-4 pieces so this process took a long time for me :( Moreover, the whole kitchen becomes so oily and the frying pot is also difficult to wash. But this recipe is all worth the effort.

The sauce on the other hand was easy to make and very straightforward. After the chicken wings were deep fried, simply tossed together with the sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds, viola crispy and crunchy fried chicken ready to enjoy.

It's really finger licking good, especially when still hot, very crunchy indeed and tasted sweet and savoury. The sesame seeds added a nice touch and fragrance to the wings as well. Hubby and dear son also gave thumbs up =D Next time round, I'm going to cook the Yangnyeom Tongdak (yeah, with my favourite magic gochujang hot pepper paste).


Crispy and crunchy fried chicken (Dakgangjeong 닭강정)
(recipe adapted from Maangchi)

Ingredients

Chicken wings
  • 420g chicken wings (11 pieces, I used both winglet and drumlet)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ginger, grated
  • Corn starch
Sauce
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice syrup
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame seed, lightly toasted
Steps
  1. Separate chicken wings into winglet and drumlet. For the winglet, remove the tip portion.
  2. Put the chicken wings in a bowl and season with salt and grated ginger.
  3. Coat each winglet and drumlet with corn starch, pressing and squeezing to make sure the corn starch is well coated onto the winglet and drumlet. Set aside.
Make the sauce
  1. Heat 1 tsp of cooking oil a non-stick pot/pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and stir fry till fragrant.
  2. Add soy sauce, rice syrup and vinegar. Stir with a wooden spoon and let it bubble for 1-2 mins.
  3. Add the brown sugar and continue stirring till all sugar dissolved. Remove pot from heat. Set aside.
Fry the chicken
  1. Heat cooking oil (sufficient to cover the winglet/drumlet) in a pot/wok on medium heat.
  2. To check if oil is ready, dip a piece of wing into it. If the oil bubbles, it's hot enough to start frying.
  3. Slide the coated winglet/drumlet one by one into the hot oil and fry for about 10-12 mins, turning over a few times with tongs.
  4. Take the winglet/drumlet out of the oil and drain using strainer or kitchen towel. Let the wings sit for a few mins. Repeat process till all winglet/drumlet are fried.
  5. Turn up the heat to medium high and fry the winglet/drumlet again for another 6-8 mins, or until they look golden brown and feel crunchy (press using tongs). Repeat process till all winglet/drumlet are fried second time.
Coat the fried chicken with the sauce
  1. When the winglet/drumlet are done, place all of them into the pot with the sauce.
  2. Toss well to make sure each piece is well coated with the sauce.
  3. Transfer to serving plate and sprinkle sesame seeds generously over the winglet/drumlet. Taste best when served hot immediately. The chicken still remains crunchy after a few hours.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Korea, hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts.

Kimchi fried rice (Kimchi-bokkeumbap 김치볶음밥) - AFF Korea Apr 2014

I must declare that I have never eaten Kimchi Fried Rice before, but after eating this, I'm totally hooked that I cooked the fried rice two days in a week! It's so appetising that I forgot my carbo intake restriction and ate one mouth after another.

The fried rice is so easy to cook, very little ingredients required, yet tasted very good. It's slightly sweet, tangy and spicy, with crunchiness of kimchi cabbage, juicy pork belly and accentuated with the fragrance of toasted white sesame seeds. I owe it to the magic sauce, gochujang hot pepper sauce, no other seasonings required =D I think this is also an excellent recipe to use up bits of kimchi and leftover meat like pork, chicken or beef. Definitely my go-to fried rice recipe from now onwards.


Kimchi fried rice (Kimchi-bokkeumbap 김치볶음밥)
(recipe adapted from Maangchi)
(serves 1 if eaten on its own, or 2 with other dishes)

Ingredients
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup kimchi (about 65g), chopped into small pieces
  • 50g pork belly, cut into small and thin slices (I lightly marinate the pork with some soy sauce, white pepper and chinese cooking wine for 15 mins)
  • 1 bowl steamed rice (I use cooked rice left overnight, mixture of thai jasmine, brown and red rice)
  • 2 tbsp kimchi juice
  • 1 tbsp hot pepper sauce (gochujang)
  • Water (if necessary)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 stalk spring onion
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seed, lightly toasted
  • Some shredded seaweed, lighted toasted
Steps
  1. Heat up a frying pan on medium heat, add 1/2 tsp of oil.
  2. Add the kimchi and stir fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add the pork and stir fry till the meat changes colour/half cooked.
  4. Add the rice, kimchi juice and gochujang. Stir fry all the ingredients together for another 7-8 mins. Add some water if the fried rice seems too dry. I didn't add.
  5. Add sesame oil and spring onion. Mix well with the rice and off the heat.
  6. Scoop rice in serving bowl and sprinkle generously with toasted white sesame seed and shredded seaweed. Best serve warm.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Korea, hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts.

Meg's Pastry Studio - 1st Q orders

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The first quarter of 2014 has already gone by, so I thought I'd do an update on some of my cake orders. Forgot to take photos for some, whereas some photos turned out bad due to poor lighting or I was in a rush.

Rainbow and ombre cakes continue to be my main and most popular orders. My focus is still quality over quantity. As far as possible, I would avoid taking more than two orders per delivery date. On one occasion, I even rejected a second order as I wished to concentrate on the first one.

Indeed each and every cake was painstakingly crafted (with quality ingredients) and there were times when I discarded completed layers of cake or even full cakes (yes, once) because they were not up to standard. Interestingly, most people who approached me preferred cakes with less sugar, moist sponge-based cake (instead of pound cake/butter cake texture) and chantilly cream (instead of buttercream). These factors were challenges to me initially. Sugar is a key ingredient and helps to create tender cakes. Moist sponge-based cake - I don't use sponge-gel or emulsifiers to create the very fluffy and tender sponge cake like those sold commercially. So I had to work on the method and bake the cake layer by layer. Chantilly cream - melts easily in our humid weather, had to work quickly.

I guess this is the direction I'm heading and that's why I don't do fondant cakes in the first place. With each cake, I gained more experience and I'm truly grateful to everyone who placed their orders with me.

This was my biggest cake to-date. A 9" by 9" square sponge with 7 rainbow layers! Decorated with marshmallows, ribbons and a customised banner. The marshmallow and ribbon concept was requested by the birthday girl and this was what I proposed and designed eventually.

What a great contrast right? The exterior of the cake looked simple but rainbow layers were hidden inside. Ordered by a sweet wife specially for her husband who loves lychee.

Created for my yoga class, with logo of the school.


First order that requested for cream cheese frosting instead of buttercream or chantilly cream. Glad that it turned out ok, but still lots of room for improvement.


Created for friend's daughter who's same age as my son. In fact, this is the same design as my son's birthday cake. They saw it and liked it. I like this cake too, love how the rainbow layers were "exposed" and also fruits were sandwiched between layers of cake to create a different texture.

Ordered by an ex-neighbour cum schoolmate. We found each other through FB. Created for her mum, we used to go each other's house many years back. It was good to see her parents again after so many years!


Love the ombre shades which flowed from yellow to dark pink. Lychee seemed to be a very popular choice of flavour? Anyway, I need more practice on writing characters and wordings on top of cake.


My smallest cake to-date, 4.5" round, suitable for 2 to 4 persons. I love creating small cakes, they look so cute and sweet!

Noticed there is no chocolate cake? Haha. Coz I'm not exactly a big fan of chocolate or chocolate cake. But I know many people do, so I guess it's time for me to explore more flavours :p In fact, I have so many recipes for test bakes like patterned roll cakes, decorated chiffon cakes etc etc. Well, just have to take things one step at a time!

That's all for now. Mother's Day upcoming in May and certainly look forward to more cake orders :) I do hope more people will place cupcake orders leh, coz I have so many pretty cupcake cases!

Nutella Chiffon

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I have a weakness for food storage containers. You know sometimes at the supermarket there are promotional grocery items that come with free storage boxes of various sizes? I totally dig them. The thing is, I have so many storage containers at home already so most of the time I resist the temptation.

The other day I saw Nutella having this promotion where 2 tubs of 375g of Nutella are packed inside a Lock & Lock type of airtight container. It immediately attracted my attention and I was debating with myself whether to buy, although I still have a tub of Nutella at home :p

Well, hubby and dear son love Nutella so no harm buying more. And oh, I don't have airtight container of that particular size. Oh yah, I also recall Wendy of Table for 2... or more just posted a recipe on Nutella Chiffon Cake recently, I can try out that recipe! There, it's decided :p

I like it how there's no oil or sugar in the egg yolk batter since the Nutella itself is already sweet enough with sufficient fat content. Wendy mentioned that the chiffon turned out on the moist side so I reduced the milk amount by 15g. It turned out alright, or probably a tiny weeny on the dry side. Next time probably I'll just reduce milk amount by 5 or 10g? Or probably bake at fan mode at 160 degree celsius (this time I baked the cake at 180 degree celsius on conventional mode).

Overall, I think this is a great recipe to use up Nutella spread with few ingredients and very quick and easy to make!


Nutella Chiffon Cake
(recipe from Table for 2... or more)
(makes one 22cm chiffon cake)



Ingredients
  • 85g fresh milk (original 100g)
  • 180g Nutella
  • 80g cake flour, sifted
  • 5 egg yolks (I use 60g egg with shell)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 egg whites
  • 80g caster sugar
Steps
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius (conventional mode) or 160 degree celsius (fan mode). Prepare a 22cm chiffon pan. Do not grease.
  2. Heat fresh milk over low heat. Add nutella and stir till all the nutella has melted. Once mixture starts to boil, off the heat. Continue to stir till mixture is very smooth. Make sure there's no lumps of nutella in the mixture. Set aside to cool down.
  3. Once Nutella mixture has cooled down, add egg yolks, flour and vanilla extract and mix till it becomes a smooth batter.
  4. Using an electric mixer or hand whisk, beat egg whites until soft peaks and add sugar gradually, and beat till stiff peak.
  5. Put 1/4 of the egg white meringue into the Nutelle/yolk batter, FOLD gently. Repeat with another 1/4.
  6. Pour the Nutella/yolk batter into the remaining 1/2 egg white meringue. FOLD gently until no streaks of egg whites can be seen.
  7. Pour the batter into chiffon pan and bake at 180 degree celsius (conventional mode) for 50 mins.
  8. Upon 50 mins, remove the chiffon from the oven immediately and turn the pan up-side-down to let it cool down.
  9. Remove the cake from the chiffon pan after the cake has cooled down totally. Store the cake in airtight container.
 

Rubber Stamp Carving Workshop

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Opps, another overdue post, should have posted this entry last week :p

Last Sunday I attended a Rubber Stamp Carving Workshop conducted by LoveSprouts at BFF Zakka Store. When I saw the advert for the workshop on FB, I thought it's super cute and quite fun and since it's just a 2hr workshop, why not give it a try?


The workshop was $88 and inclusive of a rubber carving block, tracing paper, pen knife, carving knife, artist eraser, ink pad and free patterns.

The rubber carving blocks and ink pads are imported from Japan and comes with many pretty looking colours :)


We were taught how to trace the patterns and transfer onto the rubber blocks as well as basic techniques of rubber carving.

Here's my work, quite ugly-looking (I chopped off one eye of the chickadee by accident!). It seems simple but actually requires much focus, meticulous and nimble fingers. I certainly need lots of practice!!

 Here are some stamps created by the instructor, Jo who has been doing this for 5-6 years already.

Each participant was given a free tote bag as well and we were free to use all of Jo's stamps to customize our very own designs on the tote bag =D

An afternoon well-spent where I learned another new craft skill :)