Saturday, June 26, 2010

Straw Hat Flat Bread, Panfried Pork Buns and Donut in Syrup - Koeksisters

I made quite a fair bit of snacks, sides etc for dinner lately and these are a few of them:

1. Straw Hat Flat Bread - it's from northern region of china, found in Dong Bei or Shan Xi, the northerners do know how to make nice breads! and this is one of them, I adapted from the versions I learned from some Chinese bloggers and must say, it is not the original

straw hat bread:

500g flour
125ml milk
125ml water
1.5 tsp salt

1 egg
Plenty of olive oil.

1. Make a soft dough, it can be quite wet, and sticky, knead till elastic and put aside to set, drizzle through a bit of olive oil around the dough so it won't stick to the container. Set for 1 hour.
2. The dough should be very stretchy, cut into 8 portions (can be more or less depending on how big you want your flat bread to be) roll out as thin as possible, and drizzle on more olive oil once spread out.
3. fold the flat sheet like folding up a fan, zig zag until the sheet became a long string with a lot of folds, swirl and curl like curling up a snake shape, set aside.
4. Once all curls are made, heat up a crepe pan with a bit of oil or butter, what ever you prefer. Use the rolling pin again and roll out the curled bread, made it 2mm thin again before place on the crepe pan. Cook till golden brown, flip side and once cooked, ready to serve....

It's much easier and quicker to make than roti chanai and is as flakey... goes well with stews and curries.
2. Panfried Pork Bun...
The proper Shanghai version is a much smaller one, but I was in a hurry and I made a big one, I do however, flatted it out and fried both sides... cut in the middle to serve... it's a bit big....
3. Koeksisters...

I had them from the church luncheons... and fell in love with them since. I did a research on a few recipes, and I did try very hard to plait them.. however.. they didn't behave as "told" and as they puff up in the deep frier, they sort of lost the shape of the plaits and I end up with curly donuts...

For the dough:
2 cup SR flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
60g butter
1 egg - lightly beaten
1/2 cup water
Rub butter into flour, add the remaining ingredient and form the dough, set for 2-3 hours minimum. Cut into 2cm thick long strings and plait (well, didn't work all that well for me, although tasted good....) Fry in hot oil.

Dip in cold chilled syrup, and serve.

The traditional Koeksister syrup is made up of lemon, cinnemon and ginger and sugar of course, with water. I happened to have some orange syrup with all spice I made a while ago chilled so I used that instead....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Slow Braised Beef Shank & Tendon, and Dragon Boat Zhong

Slow cooking is always a winter favourite, simple, easy and it can be done when I'm at work.
This is what I did after I got up:

1kg diced beef shank
500g beef tendons
1 tbsp five spice
1 tbsp cinnemon powder
1 red chilli sliced with seeds (can use dried chilly flakes)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup cantonese rice wine - it's clear, unlike shaoxin
750g daikun (Chinese raddish) cleaned and cubed - similar chunks as the beef. - this is almost always used with beef flanks and beef shanks in Cantonese cooking.
Plenty of Yellow Rock Sugar.

Cover with water.

This is what is like when I got home - the slow cooker did it again!
Ah.. and I didn't forget about the Dragon Boat this year... I made Zhong with the family, just the ones with pork, tightly wrapped in big bamboo leaves and cooked in pot for 2 hours...

To make Zhong, soak glutenous rice for 3 hours or more.
Wash and boil the bamboo leaves and soak them in water when wrapping.
I soaked my pork in Soy the night before and soy was also added to the rice.
But there are many things you can wrap in these little food parcels, savory or sweet...

Moroccan Bunny with Herb Pizza, Curry Chicken Pie with Sour Cream Pastry

Some winter dishes I did last week.
We decided to give the bunny a try. Marinated in Moroccan spices - garlic, chilli, cumin, cinnemon and negmet, diced onion and olive oil over night.
Pan seared in olive oil and then in the casserole dish in 200C oven for 1.5 hours, I added bacon to add a bit of fat for the dish as the bunny was very lean.
I made a thick crust sourdough pizza with just broccocini and dried herbs to go with the bunny... This was a quick meal the next day. I still have a bit of puff pastry left from the other night and was left in the freezer. And I would like to try out Maggie Beer's famous sour cream pastry, so I rolled out some sour cream pastry for the bottom of the pie, threaded some roast chicken breast (left over from the lunch the day before) and cut up some mush rooms, and some onions, added some cream and some mild curry powder (I do keep some pre-mixed curry powder in the pantry for a quick meal) and topped with the rolled puff pastry. Applied egg wash.

And it's such a winner in cold winter nights! Maggie beer's sour cream pastry is so easy! This is her recipe...

My First Danish...

Definitely not sure what I was thinking... after so many croissants, I decided to make danishes because Bianca forgot to bring her croissants back home...
I used the easy croissant recipe, which is similar to rough puff pastry with yeast.
The method is to mix the yeast with some warm milk and small amount of butter and some sugar and add some flour to make a very runny batter. And then add it to the main batch of flour and cubed cold butter that's the size of peanuts.
No need for needing, just form the dough and leave in the fridge for over night to proof.
And the next morning, cut the ball in 4 portions, flatten them, and lay them on top of each other, and roll them out.
Fold like normal croissant doughs, and chill in between folds.

I was just after simple shape so I cut them into squares and just fold the fruits in. There are not a lot of fresh fruit in season these days so I just grabbed a tin of peach and mango in natural syrup, add in sugar and reduced the sauce to thicken.

But somehow, after the egg wash, they didn't want to stay put. and they all openned up in the oven like this.... grrrr.... But they do taste good all the same, but next time, I will practice on the shapes and probably put creme patisserie on as well...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Croissants, More Cookies....

Okay, I won't be baking croissants for at least 2 more weeks...

This batch came out nicer though, I did let it stand for a bit longer - 2 hours rather than the 45 minutes with the normal recipe I use, and they did come out a lot puffier...

As much as I love them for brekky, I must admit they have added something to my waist line
and this week, our brekky will be sourdough buns with polenta, parmesen....

From croissants to ciabatta, with sunflour seeds, parmesen and polenta...
But I did made something to sweeten up the family....

Sofficini Portoghesi....
from the magazine I got,
it has got:
90g sugar
150g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
grated zest of a lemon
220g plain flour and a pinch of salt...
It's really easty, cream sugar and butter, beat in egg yolks one by one, add lemon, sift in flour and salt together, form the dough and chill for an hour in fridge, cut into shapes and there you go.. very yummy cookies and simple!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Prawn Dumplings.. Yumcha?

Mum said her favourite yumcha food is the prawn dumplings. Have worked during yumcha service when I was like, 20 something? and saw Chefs churning out dumplings of all sorts fairly quickly, and it never clicked me much that I should make it some day until 15 years later.... I wish I had pay more attention when I was young and ignorant.... as prawn dumplings were not easy.... well, sort of...
I've made a lot of dumplings, but to get the clear skin right... is a different ball game.

But first of all, the fillings.
100g pork mince
150g peeled fresh green prawns.
1 knob of garlic
3 white roots of spring onions
1 pinch of salt...

I used the mortar and pestle today to pund the mince, the meat, prawn, herbs... well, I only used half of the prawn in the mince, the other half, cut in small cubes and gently marinate with salt.
and then the skin. I did make too much, so I put more than half away. so I'm giving out the list as how much I should use for the fillings:
200g tang flour (glutenless wheat flour - from Asian grocery shops)
35g tapioca flour
1tbsp of lard
Use boiling hot water to pour into the flour mix and stir well. Pour in as much water as you need to make flour wet, it takes a fair bit of water. Massage in lard and form a dough, knead till it's smooth and no lumps. set in cling film for 30 minutes.
I have to get used to this type of dumpling skin - it's not like the normal dumpling skin made out of plain flour - it has got no glueten and not stretchy... anyway, add in the mince and some cut prawn chunks in a flattened dumpling skin, and they are not too hard to make, well, I have made them rather big.... Guess I'm not selling them in restaurant, no one will tell me off for over sized dumplings...
I lined the steamer (call me lazy, I used the rice cooker steamer rather than the bamboo one) with baking paper and they are quite nice after being steamed for 6 minutes in high heat....

Sunday Lunch, Creamy Pumpkin Soup, Kofta with Hummus & Sourdough Pita

I haven't made pumpkin soup for a while, it would be nice to have on such a cold wet miserable day.... I'm sure everyone has own version of the humble pumpkin soup, and here's mine, adapted from Luke's Nanna.

Half butternut pumpkin, in chunks
1 carrot cut in chunks
2 big desiree potatos cut in chunks
1 small sweet potato cut in chunks
1 small brown onion sliced
1.5 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp carraway seeds
salt and white pepper to taste
Thickened cream to serve....

Heat up olive oil in pan and saute onion and garlic, add the chunky veggies, saute for a couple of minutes, add water to cover (it will be nice with chicken stock, however, it's not necessary, keep it vegetarian hehe) add salt and white pepper and curry powder (it's not a curry, no need to be fussy about the paste, so just use a very mild shop pre-mixed curry powder, just to give the soup a bit of kick). Simmer for 45 minutes and mash the veggies, add caraway seeds and butter.
Simmer for further 15 minutes and use stick blender to blend the veggies till creamy....
Another 5 minutes just to reduce down a bit of excess liquid, and ladle up and serve with thickened cream and thredded parsley....
And this is my sourdough pita bread - I used a mix of plain flour and whole meal flour instead of strong bread flour. They puffed up really nicely in the hot oven.... It's not an authentic Kofta because I used pork and veal mince, the usual all spice, cumin and paprika, mixed with parsley and red onion, and as I ran out of the yoghurt and forgot to buy some yesterday, we made the quick hummus to go with the kofta...

Croissants, Coffee Amarettis

I have promised Bianca Croissants this weekend, she loves them and always loves to take some home. I've been using the same recipe again and again, with minor adjustments... well, my cheat way of baking...

Croissant dough was proved on Friday night.
I heated up 50b butter,
1.5 cup of milk and 1.5 Tbsp of white sugar in the microwave on high,
1.5 minutes, just enough to melt the butter and heat up the milk.
Wait until it's cooled to body temperature,
I added 2tsp of dry yeast and stirred.
15 Minutes later, I added 4 cups of strong bread flour to the liquid, 1tsp salt, 1 egg (hmm, no need for the egg but I have used it this time) and some extra plain flour for dusting. Knead the dough till elastic and smooth and not sticky, and set to prove.
2 hours later, it's almost tripled the size, and in the fridge over night.

It's rather care free now for me after making croissants for so many times, I just take it easy. In the early morning when I'm making orange juice for the family, I put out 200g of butter (original recipe yelled for more butter but certainly, that's enough - it is quite fatty after all) and let it slowly warm up. Roll out the dough to a square and fold in the butter. Basically knocked it down to as flat as I can get, and did the first fold - like a letter. Then I put it away in the fridge again, time to drop Luke off to coaching school.

Back from coaching school, second fold, back in the fridge, hubby and I and Monique went shopping, not that we enjoyed it, but hey, how else we gonna get our weekly food?
Anyway, in bewteen the shopping, picking up Luke and house work etc, I did several folds, and the dough was kept in the fridge in between folds, by the time it gets to 5pm, I decided I had the time to make them into the little croissant shapes... cut into little triangles and rolled out - ah, I do cut a tiny bit at the end....
Proved for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, brushed with egg wash and in the oven 190C for 25 min (was baking the chicken wings at the same time)
But Bianca forgot to bring them home!
And today, I was debating on what to make - I was about to make some other sweet biscuits using egg yolks so I seperated eggs last night. But didn't end up having the energy to do them, and the egg whites are still there, tempting... Amarettis or Macarons? Tossing the coins... end up with..... nothing... something in between I suppose...
Not enough almonds to make them Amarettis, not smooth enough to make them macarons, but Monique loves them just as much...

I call them Coffee Amarettis or Espresso Amarettis as the texture is closer to Amaretti rather than macarons...

2 egg whites.
100G almond meal
100g White sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1.5 tbsp instant Espresso
Whist up a smooth meringue (I was trying to decide what to do, so I actually hand whisked the meringue) add sugar and continue whisking till it's smooth and glossy. Add in vanilla essense and sift in almond meal and espresso. fold well, pipe onto the cookie sheets and set for 1 hour (that's the macaron part isn't it?) and bake in 140c for 20-23 minutes...
They are nice as is.

Didn't Feel Like Cooking, Cheat Chicken Wings, Orange & Date Yoghurt Scones

I haven't been well this weekend and cut back a lot of items on the agenda - actually the whole family is not well.
Cold winter maybe? Everyone's coughing and Luke didn't even make to his swimming lessons.
So for dinner, I just came up with this really simple dish that even the kids will enjoy... and because of the children, I didn't spice it up...
Chicken wings, the drumlettes and the winglettes... marinated in light soy, maltose, 5 spice and ginger over night. crumbed with bread crumbs, spray on canola oil spray - lots, and in 190C oven for 25 minutes, followed by 220C for 10 minutes and it's a cheat way of doing crumbed chicken wings but not deep fried and minium work! Serve with baked spuds and sliced cucumbers, a very lay back dinner.
To spice up, just add white pepper, dry chilly flakes, cumin and coriander powder in the bread crumb mix - for a more adult fix.
And another lazy creation - I have to use up all the Greek Yoghurt in the fridge... another batch of scones - well, I did it earlier in the week...
400g Greek Yoghurt
60ml Olive oil.
75G sugar
1 tsp all spice
1 egg
4 cup SR flour
1/4 tsp bi-carb soda....
Oh.. last but not least, 2/3 cup chopped dates.
My scone doughs are always bit wet, but they rise well, and quick and easy to make. 190C oven 20-25 min.