Plain Mantou

My youngest boy has been bugging me to buy mantous for him to eat. I told him I will try to make one of these days for him as I don't have the right flour at home. It didn't happen over the next weeks. He bugged me again. I didn't know he can be so persistent.

Then one fine day, my colleague told me he bought a packet of HK flour because it was on cheap sales. He asked me what can it be used for. I told him it can be used to make pau, or tim sum etc. The next day, he brought the packet of flour to office and pass it to me! Now, should I say it's coincidental or my son can make things happen his way??

I have tried making paus before, but not mantou. Then I recalled seeing some recipe on some blogs. I went through a few blogs and found a mantou recipe on Gina's blog. Ah, this is what I called "God's will"! The recipe didn't seemed that difficult. So I tried attempting it on a weeknight (it won't happen on weeknight if much proofing is required).
Immediately after steaming, I let my children try, in particular my youngest boy. I told him that since he like mantou, I have fulfilled my promise and made it for him. He agreed that the mantou did taste nice. I tried a bite size, and liked it too. Then he said to me,"but mummy, I want those mantou like swiss roll kind!" *faint* *pengz* *roll eyes*
I must say, he is really a very demanding boy and knows exactly what he wants! I told him I'll make it for him another time. So you can be assured, I should be attempting mantous again... (but might not be so soon!)

Nasi Lemak and Rice Rolls

When I saw Jess' Satay Drumsticks and Pandan Rice lately, I just yearned to have some pandan rice. Then it occured to me that it did looked like nasi lemak. I like to eat nasi lemak. It's the only food which I eat that contains rice. Otherwise, I usually will not order any rice dish when I'm dining outside.

So there I was, dreaming up of preparing nasi lemak already. Taking some reference from her post, I went to search for nasi lemak recipe. As I've not prepared this before, I wanted a recipe that will at least guide me on making the chilli, the rice and perhaps, marinate the chicken or kuning fish. Somehow, I didn't manage to find one complete recipe. In the end, I just based on my gut feel (equal to "aga-ra-tion") to come up with my own version of nasi lemak. One thing I like about cooking is, there no hard and fast rule to follow the ingredients closely, quite unlike baking.

These were the different combinations of my homemade nasi lemak. Guess which set is mine?

Here's sharing how I made them, what went wrong and what was nice.

1. Pandan coconut rice - I cooked two cups of rice. Added four tbsp of pandan juice and 100ml of Ayam coconut cream (plus enough water to cook the rice). I also added three pandan leaves tied in a knot into the rice cooker. Overall, the rice wasn't very fragrant. The rice colour was a faint green and the coconut taste was mild.
You can find very useful information from Wendy as she explained how to extract pandan juice. Very informative, thanks Wendy!

My verdict: I will make two cups of rice with 200ml (one packet) of Ayam coconut cream and six tbsp of pandan juice. Then topped up with enough water to cook the rice. I'll add in the knotted pandan leaves also.

2. Ikan bilis (fried anchovies) - A handful of ikan bilis was washed and fried. This consistently has been tasty, and prepared by my helper.

3. French beans and carrot - A packet of french beans and half a carrot was shredded and stir fried. This was also prepared by my helper. It is my favourite.

4. Fried eggs (sunny side-up) - I fried five eggs individually with my egg frying pan. Fast, easy and fun! However, my children said they preferred omelette! *sigh*

5. Spiced drumsticks - I marinated them with 5-spice powder, curry powder and salt for about two hours. Then I baked them in the oven for 45mins at 220C. They liked it very much. My elder son commented that it was very nice. I was glad they liked it. Initially I wanted my helper to fried them, but I realised they were too huge, and also the fish needed to be fried and it would take up a lot of time. So in the end, I decided to bake it instead. Wise decision. :)

6. Spiced kuning (fish) - I marinated them similarly to the drumsticks. My helper fried them. They were very crispy and tasty. My spouse even eat up the fish heads. It was that crispy and good! I simply loved them.

7. Chilli sauce - I got to admit this wasn't well done. I used one packet of dried chilli, two small red onions, one piece of ginger and one clove of garlic to grind my chilli. Then I cooked it in the wok. I didn't add too much oil, so it was quite dry. I had to add more oil in between. The chilli  absorbed the oil very quickly. After I finished cooking, then I realised I have forgotten to add salt!
My mum taught me to add sugar to a small portion to be used for nasi lemak only. So I kept a small portion in the wok, added some sugar and some fried onions to mix them together to be used as my nasi lemak chilli.

My verdict: My chillli was too dry. It is neither smooth nor tasty. Salt should also be added as a form of preservatives too. I also felt that I didn't cook long enough. My mum commented that my chilli was still too raw. For the next round, I would use the same portion of ingredients, poured in more oil, add some salt and cook it longer. For chilli that is not cooked long enough, it will turn bad very quickly. I put the rest of my chilli in the freezer to preserve it.

Overall Verdict: I guess it was a good attempt for a nasi lemak meal, though not perfect and well done. A lot of improvements are required. I hope I can help others to learn from my experience too. As a consolation, all food were finished at that time.

I had the set 3, without the chicken drumstick and with lots of french beans. I try to avoid meats if I have the choice. I'll go for anything fish or seafood. 

After spending the whole morning preparing nasi lemak, I continue with my preparation for chee cheong fun, also known as rice rolls. I had cooked my sauce and chilli the night before, only the batter to be made that day. It took me almost two hours to make about 30 rolls! I used up a packet of 600g rice flour, which explained why there were so much rice rolls to be made!
I added spring onions to some of the rice rolls. The first few rice rolls were rather thick. Subsequent ones were thinner. It also required the skills of unmoulding them and rolling them up. Some were quite well done, others were not. Therefore, those truly up to standard ones, were only about 10 rolls! I just needed more practice on estimating the batter and the unmoulding part. Having said that, I doubt I'll make it again in months to come, as standing in a 'sauna' kitchen for two solid hours is truly not my idea of spending a Saturday afternoon!
Making the rice rolls is perhaps, worth once a quarter's sacrifice. LOL. My poor family had to sacrifice their tummy to taste my unsightly rice rolls. Fortunately, the sauces were good enough to make up for the look of the rice rolls!
These were the sauces I gave to my parent and siblings. Unlucky Lucky them!

Hokkaido Milk Bread

When I was at a food exhibition in HK lately, I saw some sales of Hokkaido milk. Knowing that the milk from Japan would definitely taste good, and that my children will definitely love it, I lugged back 4 one litre tetra paks.

I also recalled that I have seen many bloggers baking "Hokkaido Milk bread". So without hesitation, I searched for the recipe from Florence blog, and found a recipe on Hokkaido Milk loaf. Wanting to know how the milk taste, I had a quarter cup of the milk. It just perks me up! No wonder it's so popular. The milk taste is creamy, thick and tastes very rich. My children also loved the milk very much. Therefore, I had to ration them to one cup per person per day! Otherwise, the three of them can definitely finish four litres in two days! They'll treat it as water to drink!
I tweaked the recipe a bit. When the dough was undergoing its first floor time, it didn't rise much after two hours. I thought it flopped. I proceeded anyway. After the third proofing, it only rise to half the pan loaf. Gee, something must have gone wrong with my recipe. I thought I wouldn't share it if it doesn't turn out well. So I proceeded to bake it anyway.

I was very pleased that after baking, the bread rose till the rim of the bread pan. It rose to twice its size under the heat. I concluded that the bread needs to be stressed before it could "perform". :p I was also very pleased with my galvanised bread loaf pan. I had this bread loaf pan for a long time and I always use it whenever I bake loaf bread. Initially, I regretted spending >$20 for the loaf pan with cover. However, when I started using this loaf pan, I had no regrets. No matter what was inside the loaf pan, the loaf bread will come out nicely when it's being over-turned. No brushing of shortening, oil or flour is required. If you do not have one, I would strongly recommend you to get one if you bake bread loaf often.
Back to the bread loaf. As the top of the loaf was quite dark, I sliced them away. I also prided myself for being able to slice the bread evenly and nicely. It looked like slicing from some bread machine, isn't it? Haha... If only I can do that nicely for my cakes...

The bread is soft and fluffy. The following day, it is still soft and nice. I must qualify that this is not those cotton soft bread that we have. The milk taste is very distinct and you can just eat it on its own. Even my helper commented that the bread is very nice. I was so glad I gave this a try. I might do this pretty soon again, before my children finished up the milk!
Recipe for Hokkaido Milk Loaf, extracted from Florence's blog.

220g Bread flour
30g Plain flour
3g Salt
3g Instant yeast
35g Fine sugar
52g Egg (1 egg)
133g Hokkaido milk
15g Unsalted butter

1. Put all the dry ingredients into the mixer and mix well.
2. Add in the liquid ingredients except butter and mix well.
3. Add in butter and knead until smooth and elastic and the dough no more sticking at the side of the mixing bowl.
4. Let it proof for 60 minutes in a clean bowl cover with cling wrap.
5. Flatten the dough and roll it up like swiss roll.
6. Placed it into a loaf pan and proof for another 50minutes.
7. Brush some milk on the surface of the bread dough.
8. Bake at 170C for 30 minutes for uncovered loaf tin.

Strawberry Fondant Cake

On my return journey from the airport to my house last sunday, my nephew told me he wanted Avatar with Aang as the main picture for his birthday cake. My sister quickly added that she will send me the pictures as reference. As they have seen my previous work on the Ariel, they wanted something similar. I also had the same thoughts when they discussed the main cast with me.

However, when the day drew nearer, I realised that I didn't have the time to colour out Aang! I panicked. Then I decided I shall do fondant instead. And so, I created the head, a Aang-look-alike. Based on one of the picture which my sister sent, I thought the arrow was grey colour. Subsequently, I realised that it was blue. *gosh*
He also asked for a strawberry cake, which was quite rare. I had earlier told my sister that it will be a challenge because I don't want to buy strawberry essence just for this cake. Also, I personally don't believe in artificial flavourings. So in the end, I tweaked the lavender teacake recipe to include fresh strawberries into the cake. I used this cake as I felt that it'll be strong enough to hold the fondant frosting which I want to decorate. I like the result of the cake as the strawberries were very well spreaded.
I used fresh cream and strawberries to sandwich the cake together. Then cover the cake with chocolate fondant. I also used some stencil, which I bought from KC, to print the background. Okay, got to admit that I didn't do a good job here. I hope to improve on it the next time I try again. My daughter also suggested that I put "happy birthday" around the base, which I had initially thought of using a "happy birthday" tag instead. Good suggestion made by her though.
The taste of the cake was pretty good, except that I have slightly overbaked it a little. The lightness of the fresh cream and the partial sour strawberry was a good combination to the cake. I asked my nephew if he liked the cake. He nodded and told me "but the strawberry is very sour!"  Okay, at least that wasn't my fault! My sister told me he was expecting a pink strawberry flavoured cake. I had told her to explain to him on my behalf about using artificial flavourings. Being a brilliant boy he is, I'm sure he understands why his Er Yee (二姨) didn't give him a pink strawberry flavoured cake. Lastly, I want to wish him a very happy 9th birthday!

Pulut Hitam

Whenever I visit PH or any other baking stores, I'm bound to buy some stuff which I told myself I will "do" it one day. Then I'll keep until (1) I totally forgotten, (2) expired or (3) suddenly remembered and use it. However, sometimes, if I don't buy it, I'll regret and hate myself for not buying because (1) when I needed it, I don't have it or (2) when I suddenly feel like making it, I don't have it. Gee... it's such a dilemna isn't it? Don't we all faced this problem? I'm sure most of the bakers/cooks can resonant with this! Hahaha...

Anyway, I bought black glutinous rice last Thursday and thought that I would truly want to make this dessert this weekend. And true to my own "promise", I did it today. It wasn't very difficult actually. I managed to find this recipe in Kitchen Capers' forum by Gina.

I tweaked it slightly to whatever ingredients I have. Actually it turned out to be pretty good. You can try it if you yearned to have some Pulut Hitam. :)
Recipe for Pulut Hitam, adapted from KC forum.

300g Black Glutinous Rice
1500g Water 
170g Gula Melaka
250g Fresh coconut milk (Heng Guan brand)

1. Soak glutinous rice overnight.
2. Drain and wash rice the next day.
3. Put rice and water into slow cooker.
4. Turn on high heat and let it cook.
5. After two hours, add in the chopped gula melaka and stir well. Turn to low heat.
6. Let it simmer for one more hour, then turn off the heat.
7. Serve hot with coconut milk.

I also want to share that the day before, I requested my helper to cook yam rice and gave her some simple instructions on how to. She is able to grasp instructions pretty well and delivered a sumptuous pot of yam rice for us!

As yam rice is pretty easy to prepare, I shall not provide any recipe. The amount of ingredients, what and how much to add, is all dependant on individual taste preference. One of my favourite thing about eating such "one pot" rice is adding the garnish. I added fried silver fish, fried onions and fried garlics! If I have spring onions and parsleys, that would have gone into my bowl too! I'm a big fan of garnishes and condiments.

These were the ingredients that went into cooking this "one pot" rice - yam, french beans, dried shrimps, dried mushrooms, dark soy sauce and pepper. I had instructed her not to add any meats, and that we'll just go meatless for that meal. It was just perfect for me!

Lavender Lemon Teacake

After one full week's rest from the kitchen, I'm back to baking again. It wasn't difficult to get back to baking. It's like part of the daily routine. After all the fun and play in Hong Kong, the knowledge of baking has not been lost! Hahaha...

With little butter left in the fridge, I decided to try out Lavender Teacake from Happy Home Baking. The ingredients don't look too complicated. The steps looks simple too! So without hesitation, I prepared all the ingredients. My youngest son finished his dinner quickly and came over to help me.  He looked very keen, so I decided to let him do the mixing with the mixer. In fact, he did all the mixing for me, while I just dumped the ingredients in. He was really helpful. Besides helping, he was also inquisitive on the ingredients and the steps. Potential chef-to-be.

Previously, I remembered trying HHB's Lemon & Lavender Cookies. So I thought mixing lavender and lemon would be nice. Therefore, I made some lemon sauce, to be brushed on top of the cake after it's fresh out of the oven. I heated 1 tbsp lemon juice with 1 tbsp water and 2 tsp sugar. Once the sugar has melted, stir well, and turn off the heat.
After baking, let the cake cooled in the pan for about 5mins. Then removed from the cake pan. Use a cake skewer and make some holes on the cake. Then brush the top with the lemon sauce.

I told my son, if the cake turns out to be good, then I'll make him the assistant chef whenever I'm baking. However, if it didn't turn out that well, it would mean that he needs more practice. So, I'll still make him the assistant chef to practice more! I didn't want to discourage him since he was so enthusiatic.
The cake turned out to be very moist and soft. My colleagues who tried it said it's very good. Like what HHB said, it's very light. And even tasted like with cream cheese. Even myself, who usually don't take plain cakes, found that it's very good. I took one whole slice after I cut it. Can't help but to eat them. The lemon taste was very subtle, and does not over power the lavender. This recipe is a sure keeper for me!

1 Trip 3 Destinations 5 Therapies (Final)

Day 5: HKG - SGP
Therapy: Food

 Rolling up the newly-bought clothes, waiting to be packed into the luggage.
Yum Cha at Super Star Restaurant (鴻星) - Cha Siew Polo Buns.
 Cha Siew Cheong Fun and Fried Crabby Dumpling.
 Rabbit Har Gao.
 Almond cream with egg whites.
I wanted to try how special this is. It tasted rather nice. But I still prefer my almond cream with white fungus. :)
Braised Chicken feet and Siew Mai.
 Roasted Pigeon.
 Century Egg Congee.
 Took Airport train, heading to Airport.
 Chocolate Truffle from Maxim.
 Cha Siew Polo Bun from Maxim.
SIA A380
 Wide screen KrisWorld Entertainment
 My in-flight dinner - Fish fillet.
My Spouse's in-flight meal - Chicken and rice.
Haagen Dazs Cookies & Cream ice cream.
 A380 Upper Deck
Lyo and Merly welcoming YOG guests at the airport.

It was indeed a good and refreshing break for both my spouse and I. Since our honeymoon, we haven't been travelling alone. Thanks to my good helper who took care of my children's daily needs while we were away, my parents, who came over during the weekend and bought dinner over, and my parents-in-law who took care of them during the weekend too! I'm really fortunate to have my parents, my parents-in-law and my sisters-in-law to help out in our absence. I am very lucky and contented. :) Thank you!

1 Trip 3 Destinations 5 Therapies (Part 4)

Day 4: Kowloon to Macau (澳門).
Therapy: Food, Casino & Sightseeing.

 New Ferry from Kowloon to Macau and vice versa.
 Chandelier lights at Sands
 Lunch buffet at Gourmet Place Buffet at Sands
 Some of the buffet items. Dreyer's ice cream with many choices of syrup - passionfruit, mango, orange, strawberry, mixed berries, blueberries, vanilla and chocolate.
 Spotted this road sign on one of the street.
 Grand Lisboa from St Paul's Ruins.
 Can you believe I actually did not try the Portugese Egg Tarts?? :'(
Grand Lisboa 
 Ponte Governado Nobre de Carvalho linking Macau to Taipa
 Fountain Show at Wynn (Notice the fire? It's real!!)
 Main entrance at MGM Grand. Look what is on the left...
 MGM Grand
A big bird cage, with very beautiful small birds.
 Dinner at Square 8(食八方).
 Pork Porridge with Century Eggs.
 Red Bean with Aloe Vera Drink. Very refreshing and nice!
 Fried Shrimp Dumplings and Spring Rolls.
 Beef Brisket.
Breathtaking night sceneries.