Friday, October 24, 2014

Homemade Curry Powder

Ingredients:  [Yields about 45g curry powder]

20g coriander seeds
15g cumin seeds
15g fennel seeds
15g or more dried chillies, remove seeds
1 clove
1 star anise

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp tumeric powder

  • Put all the ingredients (A) into a sieve and rinse with water.  Drain thoroughly.  
  • Then place the spices into a frying pan (without oil) and toast the spices on low heat, tossing constantly until fragrant.  Leave to cool in the pan.
  • In a grinder or blender, grind the toasted spices into fine powder.  Add in ingredients (B) and continue to blitz until combined.  
  • Sift the ground spices through a fine mesh-sieve, and return the coarser remains in the sieve to the grinder and grind again.  Discard any residue that cannot pass through the sieve.
  • Store in an airtight glass jar.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Cake


2 eggs
100g oil
100g brown sugar
40g caster sugar
165g (1 cup) grated zucchini
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

190g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
30g pecan, chopped
50g mixed dried cranberries & blueberries

  • Preheat oven to 170 deg C.
  • Beat eggs until frothy.  Gradually add in sugars and beat until thick and pale.
  • Then beat in oil slowly while the mixer is still running. 
  • Add in vanilla extract and beat to just combined.
  • Add in grated zucchini and mix until just incorporated.
  • With a spatula, fold in ingredients (B).
  • Bake in a lined 20 x 10 cm loaf pan for about an hour or until cooked.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Butter-Pandan Marbled Cake


250g butter, softened
180g caster sugar
4 eggs (60g each), room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
190g plain flour
60g cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
60g coconut milk
1/2 tsp pandan paste

  • Preheat oven to 170 deg C.  Grease and line an 8 inch round cake pan.
  • Sift plain flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt together.  Set aside.
  • Beat the butter until soft.  Then add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  • With the mixer on slow speed, alternately add in the flour mixture and coconut milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
  • Divide batter into two portions.  Add pandan paste into one portion and mix to just combined.
  • Place a spoon of the plain batter onto the middle of the cake pan and top it with a spoonful of the pandan batter. Continue with alternating batters, making sure to keep placing them into the centre with each addition.
  • Bake for about 50 - 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • Leave the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (脆皮燒肉)

Roast Pork
Roast Pork
Chinese Roast Pork
Chinese Roast Pork

The key to a classic Chinese roast with golden brown, blistered and crunchy crackling lies in the dryness of the skin and also a searing hot oven to begin with to get the crackling going.

There are many theories about crackling - brushing the skin with vinegar, scalding the skin, scoring the skin before oiling and rubbing salt, etc etc.  I followed these theories before but the results were not consistent.  Sometimes I would get very crispy crackling but other times I got some hard and unblistered crackling ... until a friend who kindly shared her recipe with me. 
To get the perfect crackling - 
  • I left my marinated pork to dry out uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. 
  • Then I rubbed a generous amount of oil all over the skin before scattering enough salt to cover the entire surface.  The oil will start to heat up in the extremely hot oven (230 deg C) and the salt will begin to draw out the moisture and the skin itself will start to crack, puff and bubble like little blisters.
  • After 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 200 deg C.  The rule of thumb is to allow 25 minutes per 500g of pork.  

Roast Pork

2 slabs of pork belly (1.5kg)

2 pieces of red fermented beancurd (nam yue) - mashed
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp five-spiced powder
2 tsp sugar
  • Wash the pork and pat dry with kitchen towel.
  • In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and mix well.  
  • Turn the pork skin-side down on a rack and using the tip of a knife, prick all over the pork.
  • Rub the marinade evenly all over, including the sides (but not the skin).  
  • Place the pork, skin-side up in a tray or a container and wipe the skin thoroughly with paper towel.  Leave the pork in the refrigerator, uncovered overnight.  
  • Bring the pork to room temperature before roasting (at least 2 hours).
  • The skin will dry out after refrigerated overnight.  If not, give it a little blow-dry with hair dryer. (The drier the skin, the better the cackling when roasted).
  • Preheat oven to 230 deg C.
  • Place pork, skin-side up on a rack set over a roasting pan.  
  • Drizzle oil all over the skin of the pork, then sprinkle enough salt to fully cover the entire skin.  
  • Put the pork into the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Then reduce the oven to 200 deg C and continue roasting for another 50 - 55 mins.
  • Remove meat from the oven and allow to rest for 10 - 15 mins before cutting.  Brush away excess salt.  

For easier cleaning after roasting, I prefer to use my Turbo Oven which is similar to the fan-forced convection oven.

George Foreman Turbo Oven

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hummingbird Cake


This moist and luscious tropical hummingbird cake is a banana-pineapple-spice cake which is filled with sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting, then topped with crunchy nut brittle. 

Recipe adapted from:  Jamie Oliver's

200g rice bran oil
350g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp salt
200g caster sugar 
350g mashed bananas
260g pineapple, drained and chopped finely 
30g desiccated coconut
3 large free-range eggs 
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g pecans, toasted and chopped coarsely

  • Preheat oven to 170 deg C.  Grease and line two 21cm round cake pans.
  • Sift flour, ground cinnamon and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.
  • Beat eggs together with sugar until thick and pale.  Gradually beat in oil and vanilla extract. Then stir in mashed bananas, pineapple and desiccated coconut.  Mix until combined and pour into the flour mixture.  Fold until smooth.
  • Finally fold in chopped pecans.
  • Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes or until cooked.
  • Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before turning them out to cool completely on the wire racks.


400g icing sugar
150g butter, at room temperature
200g cream cheese, at room temperature
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime

  • Sift icing sugar into a mixing bowl, add in the butter and beat until pale and creamy.
  • Beat in cream cheese, lime zest and lime juice until just smooth (do not over-mix).  Keep refrigerated until needed.

Macadamia brittle:
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp water
50g macadamia
pinch of salt

  • Place caster sugar and water in a frying pan over medium heat.
  • Swirl the pan occasionally (do not stir it) until sugar dissolved and lightly golden.
  • Add in nuts and a pinch of salt, spoon around to coat.  When nicely golden, pour onto a sheet of baking paper to set.
  • Once cool, pound the brittle finely using a mortar and pestle.

To assemble the cake:

  • Place one sponge on a cake stand and spread with half of the cheese frosting.  Top with the other sponge.  Spread over the rest of the icing. 
  • Scatter the brittle over the top.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Blueberry Cake

Blueberry Butter Cake


180g butter, softened
130g caster sugar

zest of 2 oranges
250g self-raising flour

pinch of salt
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
95g sour cream 
50g fresh milk
120g fresh blueberries

  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.  Grease a 20cm round pan; line base with baking paper.
  • In a bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong.  Set aside.
  • Sift flour together with salt.  Set aside.
  • Combine sour cream and milk together in a cup,  Set aside.
  • Beat butter with an electric mixer for about a minute and gradually add in sugar mixture,  Beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined between additions. Then add in vanilla extract.
  • Fold in flour, alternately with the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour.  Genty, stir in blueberries.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for about 55 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
  • Leave the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Stir-fry Beef With Ginger


300g beef (skirt steak or tenderloin), sliced thinly
100g ginger, shredded finely
3 cloves garlic
1/4 red capsicum, cut into strips
1 spring onion, cut into 2 cm lengths
1/2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp Chinese cooking wine
cooking oil
sesame oil

1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
salt & pepper, to taste

  • Marinate sliced beef with cornflour and pepper.  Drizzle a little sesame oil.  Mix well to combine. Set aside.
  • In a hot wok, saute ginger and garlic until aromatic.  Toss in marinated beef slices and stir fry until just cooked.  Add in seasoning and mix well.  Then add in spring onions.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.
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