Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More tries on sandwich maker

 Previously, I folded it triangular ... this time I tried rectangular. However, the milk toast is not big enough!!! So one end is still not seal properly.
So can you see that the sealed line actually pressed on the bread skin? It will not work this way, so I still have one end opened bread.

I tried one more time, with two pieces of bread, but once the sealed line pressed on the bread skin, the part will not be sealed. 

So after two more tests, I think can more or less conclude that the bread need not be steam soft before it can be sealed.

Also, I will be using a new oven for future bakes. The old one is working but my mother who has shifted further away from me (used to be next block) wanted the oven back to do occasional baking, so she asked me to get a new one. With the limited tabletop space, I do not have much choices and thus settled for the below.

The salesman says this is the latest model, has double layer glass door for better heat retention, with light (a must for me) and got self clean wall.  However, I am not very happy with the wall that has coating that will come off. 

See, even before I use, the coating is already off a little. I wonder if there will be any problem with heating up this chemical coated wall... but I really have not much choice due the the space limit. I hope to start baking soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another nice drink

Long long time ago, I ordered this drink 西洋菜蜜棗水 from Macau Express in Expo and I liked it very much. I was recently told it is also served in Crystal Jade.  I remembered asking my friend from Hong Kong to share the recipe, but I had since "lost" the email in the inbox.

Actually, my intention is to cook watercress soup as requested by hubby but it is such a big bunch of watercress (bought from NTUC) so I think the taste will be too overpowering if I used all. I wouldn't want to drink the soup again 2 days later (I will definitely have leftovers since kids will only drink a little) so I had the idea to cook it into the sweet drink. I googled the net for recipe (in mandarin) but it returns mostly the version with pork/pork bones. Finally I found one. My hubby thinks the drink is close to what we have then, but the watercress taste is still rather strong. I am only using 100g of watercress to abt 1.5 litre. So I will try to reduce the watercress portion the next time I try.

This drink is said to be good for the lungs and for cough. No matter what it is for, it will be a good drink.

p/s : I happened to itchy hand, google with english and it returned with more results. Perhaps will try the rest of the recipes the next time.

My hobby blog

Long time ago, when I started baking, I had problem trying to keep track of the recipes that I have tried. I even went to the extend of using Microsoft Access, trying to create a database to enter the recipes and to create keywords where I can based on when I need to do a search. Of course, this did not work, so I rely on my blog now to keep track of what I have tried before and the respective recipes. However, I think my labeling is not organized, but I guess I have to live with it since it will be another tedious task to relabel. I am not adventurous to try porting the whole blog to another new platform too.

Just a few days ago, I noticed a recent blog post from my friend's blog (using blogger) went missing. There were also comments in Facebook from other bloggers (using blogger too) that their recent posts were also missing. I am not sure if there are any "damage" on my blog, but it is not noticeable to me yet.

SSB from www.smallsmallbaker.blogspot.com has kindly shared the way to back up the blog. I am going to do that now. I wouldn't want the recipes to go all missing. Thank you SSB.

Cool stuffs for hot weather

Did this drink cool you down? It is so hot nowadays that I am making more drinks and cold desserts. This is lemonade. My friend June (June, thank you very much for sharing) posted her drink over Facebook and it looks so refreshing, so I just have to try it out since I have ready ingredients. Furthermore hubby is not in town half the week so there is no one to help with eating the bakes... 

After cooking both ingredients together, I had around 400 - 500 ml of syrup. I waited for the syrup to cool a little before adding the lemon. I cannot remember how much water did I add, but after adding alot alot alot more water, it is still quite sweet. However, my kids went "I am in heaven (imagine them dancing and prancing round) .. I am in heaven ..." after they took a sip of the drink. (*grin*)

After making this lemonade .. I tried my hands on Panna Cotta. I got the recipe from a book I borrowed from the Clementi Library. The recipes featured in this book is rather straight forward and simple enough and I am thinking of adding it to my bookshelf. I am very happy with the taste of this dessert but the presentation and the assembling method needed improvement! Let you see what I mean.


Did you see the pretty red jelly rising up through the cream layer like molten lava? I thought the jelly layer has set after like 30 minutes in the fridge .. but it proves not. So when I had the warm cream pour onto the jelly layer .. this happens... Anyway, not very unsightly and after topping up with jelly again ..  all we have to do is wait for the dessert to set and the night to fall. I must say I really like to eat this. I think there is a high chance for me to make this again because this is indeed a good way to use up whip cream. I had problem finding small strawberries to decorate the little cups (to look like what is shown in the book and some restaurants) but they are tasty on their own.

Here's the recipe (from 簡易蛋糕甜品自煮樂 - 芝芝著)which I will need again.

Ingredients ( makes 4-5 dessert cups)

strawberry jelly 
- 1 pack of strawberry flavoured jelly powder
- some hot water
- some powdered gelatin

Panna Cotta
- 150g whipping cream
- 150g milk
- 30 sugar
- 5g leaf gelatin (same weight if used powdered gelatin)


Making strawberry jelly
1. Follow the instructions printed on strawberry jelly powder packaging. Dissolve jelly powder and powdered gelatin in some hot water. Pour into dessert cups. Chill in fridge until set.

Making panna cotta
2. Combine whipping cream, sugar and milk in pot. Heat over low heat for 1 minute. Turn heat off.
3. Add soaked leaf gelatin. Gently stir until gelatin dissolves. Let cool. Pour into dessert cups. Chill in fridge until set.

After making the above successfully, I had the idea of trying out the chocolate panna cotta. This time I have to google for recipe. I found one off the net, but forgot to copy down the source. The ingredient are as below.

Chocolate Panna Cotta

400ml cream
200ml milk
40g sugar
125g dark chocolate 
14g gelatin

I did not copy down the method as I believed it should roughly be the same. I did read to make sure that gelatin is still the last one to add. However, this time, the chocolate did not melt nicely. There are specks of chocolate which never did get dissolved. I even made two version, normal fresh milk and chocolate milk. The chocolate version is more tough than the white version. I still like the white version better. Here is the no frills (ie no deco) chocolate panna cotta.

There are wordings on the bottom of the mould, so the pudding has the prints. The kids, upon seeing the prints, said that the pudding is like store bought, with the brand on it. LOL.

Now I wonder how much weight did I gain after eating all these.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The sandwich maker

This is the sandwich maker that my friend has posted to me as a gift. Thank you very much my dear friend.

Lovely pink and white. The instruction is to soften the bread by first microwaving the bread. I did not have a microwave, and is too lazy to steam just a piece, so I went ahead to try with the Junior Thick white bread which I find that it is pretty soft. I made extra scramble eggs today for the trial.

The piece of bread actually fits nicely onto the square rim (which should be the sealing part), but when I folded it, somehow the skin got into the way and I ended up with this :-

This side does not look nice
This side looks so much better

I will try again with normal slice of bread.

Bread machine failure

No, no baking stuff today. Did tried, but ....

Wanting to try the soft soft bread machine chocolate bread again... was rushing to it because I needed to go marketing to buy ingredients before I can cook the dinner. I measured the liquid ingredients into the bread machine then realized that I have not measure out the butter! So I purposely cut it thin thin slices so that it will be softer sooner while grumbling that I should have tried using soft margarine instead. Flour in, all ready and the machine is set to run.

2 minutes into the process, funny sounds were heard. I suspected the blade is not inserted properly. Stopped machine to check but everything's ok. Restarted machine again and sound was not heard. After a while, my mother called to me (while I am scolding my boy in the study), telling me that the dough was not turning. The motor was running but the dough was not turning. The machine was stopped and bin taken out. The rotating device was found to be not turning, thus not turning the blade in the bin. Due to time constraint, the dough was thrown away.

The machine is now pronounced 'vegetable'. We have to contact Phoon Huat to check if they do 'limb' part replacement. So no more bread making for the time being. If Phoon Huat is not going to help, the machine will be pronounced dead. My $600 is going to be used to purchase new oven .. and some new baking tools since my mother will be taking some back to her new place... wonder shd I get a new bread machine .... This machine is still so new and has not seen many bread being baked inside ..... but yet ....

I shall end the post with the cooling tea I brewed today.

It is a mixture of chrysanthemum and 金銀花。Let's us keep ourself cool in this hot weather. Take care, my friends.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Assortment - Mango pudding, pancake and biscuit

I must have gone crazy. Been thinking about baking and making desserts only. Then I eat and eat and eat and complain about getting fat. It is very difficult (*grin*) for me to find a time to exercise. You see, I wake at 6am daily to prep big boy to school, then I have to rush home to my still sleeping princess so that my dear hubby can go to work. I will then start the day dry mopping my house, prep girl breakie .. blah blah blah .. then prep lunch, and a whole day of housework plus squeezing in coaching then finally can sit down on sofa for TV after kids sleep. I cannot be exercising at this time cos I have showered. (*grin*)

Ok.. so what have I done this time. I made pancakes for breakfast few days ago. First time making my own! Serious. It has been in my mind after I watch Jamie's program where he shares the 1 cup recipe - one cup flour, one cup milk, and one egg. However I am not adventurous enough to follow his recipe of using any cup for measurement, so I went to ask my friend Lindy for her recipe. Guess what, she told me she did hers in 'agar-ation'. So in the end, I did 'rojak' - one egg, one cup flour and pour the milk (my friend's method) till the mixed batter is in the consistency  I want. I even added in a mashed banana halfway through pan frying because I am worried hubby do not like the banana taste. The pancake took quite a while to bubble (a signal that I should flip the pancake over to cook the other side), so perhaps it means my batter is a little too thick for the bubbles to break through. :-)

So here's the breakfast that the kids gave thumbs up that morning.

I also baked the "German Melt in the mouth" cookie again (now I feel like eating them again!). This time I did not use mixer because the butter is very very soft. I went to coach the kids after leaving the butter to warm up to room temperature and I forgot about it so it is near noon when I started creaming the butter. It is still tiring using hand to cream soft butter, so I think I did not do quite a good job, but as long as the icing sugar, butter and both types of flour came together, I just go ahead to bake the cookies. It ended up very well and tasty and melt in the mouth too. So I am not going to use the mixer for this cookie the next time. I gave a few pieces to my boy's piano teacher when she left. Wonder if she will give feedback....

the bunch of cookies

Mango pudding follows the cookies. Ya, I skipped lunch. The 2 mangoes cannot wait. They have been in my fridge for more than a week! I am suppose to puree them but too lazy to do so many task in this hot weather, so I roughly chop them up and mashed them with a fork to bits. I did not have enough (as expected) and I topped up with mango puree bought from Phoon Huat (unwillingly). I did this pudding in super fast speed because I still have ironing and dinner to do. Not very happy with the result. I think gelatin is not enough because the pudding is very soft, but again, the kids are very happy and finish the whole cup.

Here's the pudding (picture not very appetizing ya? LOL) and the link where I got the recipe from.

There are still many in my to do list .. but I still hopes to improve on the pudding...

So warm .. should I go get one cup or should I go sleep? :-)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Smooth top bread machine chocolate bread

Looks like I am quite free hor, able to have a new post every night. Actually I am not, just that I ignored the housework and my kids since my hubby is not around.

I made a bread today, a bread machine bread. No, not from the book that my dear friend has given me yet, but a recipe that I happened to come across and the blog showed great results and even give tips on how to make a good machine bread. It is from Cook.Bake.Love. Indeed, recipe makes a difference.

This time, my bread has a smoother top, a much much smoother one. However, I do not understand how come there is a crack on top and it looks like a big potato. LOL. Let you take a look.

I also heed the advice of stopping the machine 10 - 15 minutes before times up and I noticed, yes , no thick crust. Infact the crust is not noticeable at all! However, I am not sure if the bread is totally cooked, but it did sound hollow when I knock on it all sides using a fork. And now while writing this post and revisiting the recipe, I have put half a tsp less of yeast! I am eager to try again to see if the top will still be as smooth. I tried another recipe twice and both gave very ugly top. You can look at it here.
I can never cut thin slices!

Look ! Like no crust ya? ! And this is the first piece somemore!

A very tasty bread indeed. I ate two (the first and the last piece) right after dinner. How to slim down like that? No time to exercise and lots of time for supper.  

I am eager to buy a new bottle of yeast to try out again.  Let's see if this one remains soft tomorrow. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A lovely drink and "a leg" into something new

First of all, I want to say Happy Belated Birthday to my blogger/email friend here (thou I have done it there too). I just hopped over from her blog. As I read her post, I felt embarrassed for not being able to give her even a simple birthday card. She has surprised me with a breadmaking book, then followed with Korean tea and recently a sandwich maker when she knew that I do simple bentos for my kids' recess. However, I do not have her mailing address so 沒法回她的多番好意。I will bear in mind, 有心不怕遲........ I am happy she has enjoyed her birthday.

Recently, been visiting the library very very often, almost daily, because the Clementi Library is opened. It has many many many new cookbooks, hobby books and so now I feel that my 6 books a card is not enough. I now have a few food magazine with recipes I want to try and beading magazines with jewelries I want to mimic, so my mind is constantly hoping for long personal time to do what I want but yet my hubby is not around these few weeks (accept weekend where it is enrichment and outdoor time for kids), so I have to go slow. Last weekend I aim to do four tasks but only managed to make the chocolate cupcakes found in a library book and the 糖水 that is found in a travel magazine.

Now I want to share the recipe for this 糖水 since I like it so much. The recipe says served chilled after a meal of sticky, glazed ribs. Sounds good to me, but I know my mother and mother in law would never agree to drinking 糖水 cold.

The picture in the travel magazine is so very tempting. However, what you get to see is what I cooked :).

Pardon the grainy picture, but it is a tasty drink. Here is the recipe.

Longan and Red Date Tong Shui

2 and 1/2 litre water
1 cup dried red dates
1 cup dried longans
100g honey rock sugar
1 cup dried chrysanthemum flowers

1) Bring water to a boil.  Add remaining ingredients and allow the mixture to boil gently for 20 minutes.
2) Set aside to cool, then chill in the refrigerator.  Serve cold, with a generous helping of the delicious aromatics.

Taken from Food and Travel April 2011 issue

Easy isn't it?

Besides cooking the 糖水... I have finally mustered enough courage to do a simple card with my scrapbooking supplies.  Yes, I have not mastered anything and yet 又插一腳 into something so complicated. 我真該打。

The card is for a girl, who is my boy's classmate so I got him to do it with me. We spent quite a lot of time deciding on the papers. He decides over a few choices of layout and get to mix and match from choice of few pieces of papers. I did the cutting for him and the card is assembled. There, the first card. He enjoyed sticking the letterings on his own.

I hope I have more time to indulge in my hobbies.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Supporting AB again - chocolate cupcakes

I did "Individual Milk Chocolate Cupcakes" (what a long name!) this morning with my girl. I started at around 10am and finishes at 12pm, with her help! But it is suppose to be very very simple.

Since she started PM session, she has not much chance of baking with me, so when I came across this recipe from this book I just borrowed from the new Clementi Library, I knew I just have to do it. However, I find that this recipe is rather familar. I cannot recall where is the similar recipe. Anyway, that is not so important. The important thing is, this recipe is easy, uses the ingredients I have on hand and also very much want to "get rid" of due to the soon to come expiry date.

The recipe goes like this :-

Inidividual Milk Chocolate Cupcakes (Makes 12)

75g (2 and 3/4 oz) unsalted butter
75g (2 and 3/4 oz or half cup) milk chocolate chopped
80g (2 and 3/4 oz or 1/3 cup) firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
60g (2 and 1/4 oz or half cup) self raising flour, sifted

80g (2 and 3/4 oz or heaped half cup) milk chocolate chopped
2 tablespoons thick (double/heavy) cream

1. Preheat the oven to 160 dC (315dF/ Gas 2-3). Line a flat-bottomed 12-hole cupcake tray with paper cases. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water - make sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Stir until melted and combined. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the sugar and egg and mix. Stir in the flour.

2. Transfer the mixture to a measuring bowl and pour into the paper cases. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a cake comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

3. To make the ganache, place the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl. Place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Once the chocolate has almost melted, remove the bowl from the heat and stir until the remaining chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool for about 8 minutes, or until thicken slightly.  Return cakes to the cold cupcake tin to keep them stable while you spread one heaped teaspoon of ganache over the top.

Recipe taken from Great Tastes Little Cakes published by Bay Books (sorry no author)

See, that is the end. Easy isn't it? I let my girl stir the chocolate and butter while I prepare lunch. I use dark chocolate couverture instead of milk chocolate by the way, dark chocolate healthier ya? Then I poured in the sugar first (to melt them with the heat),  after that wait for the mixture to cool down before I poured in the egg (incase the egg gets cooked). The mixture is pretty warm and I did not bother if the bowl touches the simmering water. What is the rational for not allowing bowl to touch the water? Can anyone tell me?

The batter consistency is not too runny, but it has alot of bubbles, so not sure if it is from the raising agent in the self raising flour or due to my constant vigorous stiring.  So, pretty straight forward, but after filling my 12 mini cupcakes I still have some left. I guess the recipe is for a 12 hole big muffin tray? After a round of 25 minutes, I baked the rest (6 only). Not sure if it is due to the batter not covered,  I noticed the batter turned alot stickier and thicker, and not so easy to pour the second round. Anyway my girl and I used spoon to scoop, thus we took a long time to fill the tray.

The resulted cupcakes are very nice and soft when warm, but looked very ugly because of the holes on top (perhaps resulted from the airy batter). After cool down, has a hard top and I feel that it is a little to the dry side. Perhaps I over baked. Should try again and bake only the standard mini muffin timing like 10 to 20 minutes.

Here's how ugly they looked.

the "solid" inside :-)

p/s : I am sorry I have to type degree Celsius in dC and fahrenheit in dF .. and the fractions ... sigh, cos I do not know how to enter special characters.

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