25 February 2011

Japanese Milky Madeleines

The other day, I gave dear son some chiffon cheese cupcake bought from Four Leaves Bakery as a snack for afternoon tea. The cake was very soft, fluffy, light and not too sweet, he took to it quite well. Then, I bought the Japanese light cheese cake and steamed cake from Breadtalk, but he didn't like it. Well, if I were to compare these three cakes myself, I too would prefer the one from Four Leaves. My son has similar tastebuds as Mummy :p

Anyway, at this age, I should try to give him more homemade food rather than storebought stuff where there may be more preservatives, so decided to bake something for him. Previously had given him tofu and yogurt cheesecake as well as mango cheesecake, the response was just lukewarm. Probably a tad heavy for his tastebuds.

After flipping through Chef Keiko Ishida's Okashi recipe book, decided to go for the Japanese Milky Madeleines as I have all the ingredients on hand.

Ingredients (makes 18 cakes)
  • 120g pastry flour (Chef Keiko usually uses Top Flour when in Singapore, but I use Cake Flour this time as I ran out of Top Flour)
  • 20g rice flour or corn flour
  • 15g milk powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 15g honey
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 50g double (heavy) cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 140g eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150g Japanese sugar or castor sugar (I cut down to 100g)
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degree celsius. Sift together the flours, milk powder and baking powder. Combine honey and hot water in a small bowl.
  2. Place butter, cream and vanilla in a bowl and heat over a double boiler until butter is melted. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat eggs and salt with a whisk. Add sugar, place the bowl over a double boiler and mix well.
  4. When egg mixture is warm, use an electric mixer to beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and continue beating for about 1 minute. Add honey and mix well.
  5. Gently fold in flour, milk powder and baking powder mixture with a spatula. Add cream and butter mixture and fold until just incorporated.
  6. Pipe/spoon batter into prepared baking cups. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until madeleines are light golden in colour. Cool on a wire rack.
Store madeleines in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or up to 1 month in the freezer.

One note on step 4, on beating the mixture to light and fluffy. I'm not sure whether mine was considered fluffy or not coz I reduced the amount of sugar. The batter seemed fluffy, it looked glossy but just couldn't reach soft peak stage no matter how long I beat. After a while, I gave up and left it as it was. Not sure if this impacted the texture of the cake or not.

Anyway, I thought the cake texture turned out quite ok, just like a normal madeleine. But as with a madeleine, the cake was soft and tender when served warm and after it was cold, it turned a little hard and dry. Which reminds me, I don't really like madeleines in the first place because of this reason. I thought Chef Keiko's recipe would turn out different or was it due to the reduced sugar?

Oh well... dear son's taste test was more important. Okay, verdict, he didn't like it either. I believe the same reason as mine, a little dry. I think he likes fluffy and moist cakes like Mummy. Hmmm... I must search for a recipe that is similar to Four Leave's chiffon cheese cupcake! Anyone can give a pointer?

22 February 2011

Braised Sea Cucumber with Chicken Wings & Mushroom

This was my first attempt on cooking sea cucumber, although I really like it a lot, especially the QQ/chewy texture. When we went Hong Kong last Nov, I bought some dried sea cucumber since it's sort of a "must" to buy sea delicacies there. Well, not a must but it's hard not to buy when there's a whole street shops full of sea delicacies beckoning us.

All these years I've never thought of cooking it, as I presumed it was difficult to cook it at home. Actually, cooking this ingredient itself is quite easy, it's the preparation (i.e. soaking the dried sea cucumber) that's difficult. Luckily, my mum volunteered to soak and prepare them for me =D

I decided on a Braised Sea Cucumber with Chicken Wings and Chinese Mushroom after browsing several blogs and recipes on magazines. Came up with my own version as the recipes I referred to were either not what I was looking for or too many steps involved. I want a hassle-free and easy method given my time constraint in tending to the cooking.

Ingredients (serves 2 pax)
  • 8 pcs of chicken wings, separate into winglets and drumlets.
  • 2 medium size sea cucumber.
  • 6-8 pcs of dried chinese mushroom, presoaked. Keep the mushroom water (200ml) for use.
  • 1 knob of ginger, cut into slices.
  • 3 stalks of spring onion, cut into long strips.
  • 300ml chicken stock (I use Heinz)
  • Rub salt onto the chicken wings and wash thoroughly.
  • Heat a pot with some oil. Once hot, add half of the ginger and half of the spring onion.
  • Once fragrant, add the sea cucumber, stir fry for a few minutes then add 150ml of chicken stock and 50ml of mushroom water. Let simmer for a few minutes, dish up and set aside.
  • In the same pot, add somemore oil. Once hot, add the remaining ginger slices and spring onion.
  • Once fragrant, add the chicken wings, stir fry for a few minutes then add the mushroom. Fry till the chicken wings turn brown. Then add the sea cucumber, 150ml of chicken stock and 150ml of mushroom water. Let simmer till sea cucumber turn soft. Finally add some corn starch water to thicken the sauce.
Photo above was taken before adding the corn starch water (in my eagerness to catch the sunlight for taking photo, I forgot to add corn starch water).

For a quick and easy method like this (without braising in claypot or adding more ingredients), I thought the result was not bad at all. The sauce was quite rich with the use of store-bought chicken stock and mushroom water, perfect to go with rice. The ingredients also soaked up the sauce well; especially the sea cucumber which was chewy and succulent.

I still have a few more pieces of the dried sea cucumber, not sure if I should explore other recipes or stick back to this one. But first, would need to soak and prepare first. I guess got to seek mum's help again since I'm lazy I no time to do so :p

06 February 2011

Steamed Soy Milk Egg with Minced Pork

This is a recipe from one of my favourite local TV variety show 三菜一汤 (Three Dish One Soup) Series 3. Basically celebrities (mostly from Singapore and sometimes from Taiwan) would have a cook-off of 3 dish and one soup with a budget of S$20. What I like about the show is, the dishes are mostly simple homecook fares which are quite achievable at home.

In one of the recent episodes, this particular dish caught my attention as it's rather creative yet easy to do. Usually the i-weekly magazine would feature recipes from the teams that won, but unfortunately, this was from the team who lost. So I just watched the show on xinmsn.com a few times to 'catch' the ingredients used and preparation method. As the amount of ingredients weren't very specific in the show, I sort of 'guesstimated' and was glad that the dish turned out quite yummy :)

Ingredients (serves 2-3 pax)

Steamed Soy Bean Milk Egg
  • 210ml unsweetened soy milk (I used Sobe brand)
  • 3 eggs (I used the smaller Kampong Chicken Eggs)
  • 3/4tsp chicken stock powder
  • 1/4tsp sesame oil
  • 1tbsp light soy sauce
* The recommended proportion of egg to milk is 1 egg to 100ml soy milk. Since I use smaller eggs, I cut down the soy milk accordingly.

  1. Melt the chicken stock powder with a little water, then add sesame oil and light soy sauce.
  2. Pour in the soy milk and mix well.
  3. Add the eggs, mix well, then sieve 2 times.
  4. Pour the mixture into a steaming dish, cover tightly with clingwrap and steam for 10 mins.

Minced Pork topping
  • 230g minced pork
  • 1/2tsp sesame oil
  • 2tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2tsp cornstarch
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 8-10pc pickled lettuce
  • 4 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked till softened then diced
  • 2tbsp wolfberries, soaked till softened
  • 1tbsp cooking oil
*I happened to buy 230g of minced pork and decided to cook all. Due to the size of my steaming dish, there were some leftovers. Can either use less pork (adjust seasonings accordingly) or use a steaming dish that has wider circumference so that all the toppings can be used.
  1. Marinate the minced pork with sesame oil, oyster sauce, corn starch and pepper for at least 5 mins.
  2. Add 1 tbsp of cooking oil to the frying pan, once oil is hot, fry the minced pork till fragrant.
  3. Then add the pickled lettuce, mushroom and wolfberries and fry for at least 10 mins.
  4. Add some water (I use water used to soak wolfberries), let simmer for a couple of mins then add some corn starch water.
  5. Once ready, add the minced pork topping to the steamed soy milk egg. Garnish with spring onions or chinese pasley and serve hot.

I really liked the silken smooth steamed soy milk egg, probably coz I sieved the mixture 2 times. There's a slight tinge of soy bean milk taste but hubby claimed that he couldn't taste any. I could probably try varying the proportion of soy bean milk to egg and see if the soy bean milk taste could be enhanced.

As for the minced pork topping, it really goes very well with the steamed egg! I love the different textures - tender chewy minced pork, crunchy pickled lettuce, fragrant mushroom and sweet wolfberries. This recipe is definitely a keeper for my family =D