Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pandan Chiffon Cake


Pandan Chiffon Cake
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

A much-awaited or rather forgotten cake that I said repeatedly I would want to bake. After Rika had sent out a belated birthday present to a close friend and we had our lunch at the foodcourt, we bought the ingredients from NTUC Fairprice supermarket. I told ER last night that I would want to bake it today and I did for a special reason~

This type of light and fluffy cake is not too heavy for the stomach. The coconut milk and pandan juice from the pandan leaves/screw pine give this cake an aromatic smell and is absolutely alluring to anyone. The well-beaten egg whites and leavening agents give it an excellent volume, texture and appearance.

Contrary to preparing cake tins for other cakes, which need to be oiled, the tube tin used for baking pandan chiffon cake is not greased. And the baked pandan chiffon cake has to be inverted and allow cooling well before removing from the tin. Otherwise the cake will shrink.

For this cake, I had used a 200 ml pack of coconut cream, which is thought to be bad for heath. The good news is, researchers had said coconut products are not harmful to health…and this really ease my mind and not guilty to serve such a big one to my family…approximately, we could only finish it in three to four days though.

Here's what I came across from a magazine:

I read with surprise that the latest research found that coconut is beneficial for health because the saturated fat in coconut oil is identical to a special group of fats found in human breast milk called medium-chain fatty acids. I do believe this and it is good news for me. I love my curries, laksa, pandan chiffon cakes and “nonya kuehs” etc which are rich in coconut cream. Oh well, of course, I will not indulge or over eat such food! I hope in future, ER will not ask me to use canned mixture of milk and coconut cream to cook my curries. He bought two cans, which went expired because somehow I just resisted using them.

If you are interested, log on to this link: Coconut Research Center

Hmm, the taste of the cake has mellowed further overnight and hence fuller in flavours and richness…simply delicious~

This picture was taken before breakfast when morning light was shining through the kitchen window.

More pictures of homemade pandan chiffon cake:
Pandan Chiffon Cake Pandan Chiffon Cake

Stir-fried Leek Flowers And Long Cabbage


Stir-fried Leek Flowers And Long Cabbage
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Today, long cabbage leaves was cut in a different way and then stir-fried with peeled leek flowers and chillies. I have reduced the amount of one seafood sauce and seasoned this dish with some fish sauce instead.

Rika often maintains that vegetables are best left to retain their original flavours and they taste better this way with fewer seasonings.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Steamed Red Grouper with Spicy Bean Sauce


Steamed Red Grouper with Spicy Bean Sauce
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

I realize it is best to go to my neighbourhood supermarket before 10 AM to get fresh fish. This piece of fish was fresh, firm and yet soft after steaming.

This dish is cooked using the same method as the bean paste pomfret. Rika was my assistant cook this evening; she did the bean paste sauce with given instruction.

Ginger Wine Liver And Meat


Ginger Wine Liver And Meat
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

To cook this soup, scrap off the skin from a few knobs of young ginger and slice them thinly. Heat one tablespoon of sesame oil in a thick base pot and sauté sliced ginger till just aromatic. Add in boiling water, ginger wine and Cinzano, bring to a boil. Blench pieces of sliced pork till done, like you would do in a steamboat, remove and place in a soup bowl. Next, make sure the ginger wine soup is boiling, pour in the sliced liver at once [150g], stir the liver in the soup briskly and constantly till just cook through, but not rare or over done. Serve this in the same soup bowl with sliced meat [150g].

The ratio of liquid used is up to individual taste. Some like it light while I love the strong and rich taste of wine. For one cup of boiling water, I used two third cup of ginger wine and half cup of Cinzano. Add in sugar to taste if you want the ginger wine to be sweet.

This is a nourishing soup fit even for mothers in confinement after childbirth. OK, thanks to my mum who fed me this soup along with ginger wine chicken, Angelica root [dang gui] Dom chicken, Ba Zhen herbal soup and many others after childbirth.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Stir-fried Vegetables


Stir-fried Vegetables
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

This mixed vegetable dish is simple. With a packet of baby bak choy, I just mixed it with the remainder French beans and shiitake mushrooms that Rika used for other dishes. These vegetables were stir-fried with meat in olive oil and flavored with lots of garlic, oyster sauce and seasonings.

Onion Omelette


Onion Omelette
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Lightly sauté the sliced onions in oil, and then add in beaten eggs with salt, pepper and ajinomoto and fry to light golden in colour.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Celery And Carrot


Celery And Carrot
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Carrots and celery stir-fried with mince and flavoured with seasonings, including crushed black pepper, a cue taken from Rika. Between, she loves to use black pepper while I like the white one. Would you be surprised that not only the carrots were peeled, the sticks of celery as well.

Beef With Ginger And Scallion


Beef With Ginger And Scallion
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

The cravings for beef sometimes and the penchant to order a similar dish, often laden with too much oil, at eateries has propelled me to learn to cook my version.

The love for sliced beef flank with ginger and scallions over the years has made this a signature dish of mine. Sliced beef flank and other ingredients were stir-fried briskly over medium-high heat till just done.

Butter Cake


Butter Cake
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

While sponge cakes are best eaten on the day they are baked. Butter cakes are such that their taste improves over time and could keep well in airtight container for 3 days if well cooled :)

Notes on making butter cakes:

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly when making butter cake [takes 4-5 minutes using medium speed]. This process incorporates air and produce high rising cake. The baking soda or baking powder does not increase or create bubbles in the batter. They help only to make the existing bubbles larger. Only thorough creaming creates those all-important bubbles.

Be sure to use all ingredients at room temperature to reduce the chances of curdling. Scrap down the side of bowl during creaming and mixing stages in order to blend in ingredients thoroughly.

I have this problem of curdling when adding in eggs sometimes. Try this: When eggs are gradually added to butter mixture, if it does curdle, stop adding the egg, increase the mixer speed to high, and beat mixture until smooth and shinny. Return the speed to medium and add in the remaining eggs. The entire process of adding and beating in the eggs takes 3-4 minutes.

Between, in those carefree days when I was a teenager, my secondary school classmate, TC taught me to make my 1st butter cake. The packet of pre-mixed cake flour was bought from her father’s shop. Back then I was so keen in cooking and baking that I was a member of the homemakers’ club in secondary school where I learnt to bake and follow instructions and recipes. Usually, we would team up in pairs. After each meeting, I would have my half share of cookies to bring home and that’s something I treasured and would gladly share them with my mother.

I felt so encouraged when my dad bought me my 1st oven :) Later my 3rd brother bought me "Woman’s Own Cook Book" and that's my very 1st cookbook, which is still with me :) I have learnt quite a lot from this particular cookbook. Settling down in Singapore after my marriage, my 2nd sister, Susan and I even had a trial period of one month with baking biscuits and it was during this period that I learnt to make adjustments to recipes.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fish Fillet


Fish Fillet
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Fish fillet seasoned with salt, pepper and a pinch of ajinomoto, fried in oil and then flavoured with garlic and ginger.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pizza For Dinner


Pizza For Dinner
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Homemade pizza, just the way we want it, moist and cheesy and ingredients not dried out like the ones we ordered from pizza joints.

My home oven has done a wonderful job. The pizza was baked at 180 degrees C for half an hour and it's done. As the cheese was just melting, I increased the temperature to 200 degrees C for another 5 minutes. During this process, I had to watch it carefully though as it browned quickly.

Other Pizzas That I Made [Click on the photos to enlarge]:
Fresh Mushroom Pizza
Fresh Mushroom Pizza Fresh Mushroom Pizza Fresh Mushroom Pizza
Today, I went along with Rika’s craving of fresh button mushrooms in pizza as she kept saying it’s a nice ingredient, which she had tried from Mache Restaurant. Um…not a bad introduction, the pizza was yummy :)

In addition, we bought young coconuts to wash down our pizza too. It was really a refreshing combination instead of just tea or coffee most of the time :)

Tuna Pizza
Ready To Top Up With Cheese Ready To Be baked Pizza Portrait
This is the evergreen pizza I love to bake! The 3rd image shown here looks like a picture of pizza hanging on the wall, never have I ever took a photo of pizza like this. Rika's friend, SL took this, thanks :)

For extra views on pizza:
Click Here

Egg Dumplings


Egg Dumplings
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

The originally recipe from a magazine just called for omelette, cut into smaller pieces, cooked with fresh tomatoes, flavoured with Chinese parsley and seasonings. Well, simple as it sounds, this dish was requested by mum’s goddaughter to cook for her kid daughter after eating it once.

What I have here now is slightly different as I thought by making egg dumplings filled with meat will make the dish more nutritious.

Meat Patties


Meat Patties
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Meat patties were served to us during our stay with a close Taiwanese friend of ER in 1980s. I picked up the recipe verbally, but have since added extra ingredients to enhance the taste. Sometimes, I would use fish paste in this dish too. The result is always good.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Double-boiled Herbal Chicken Soup


Double-boiled Herbal Chicken Soup
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Chicken double-boiled with 5 types of Chinese herbs. It is a light and clear soup…not heaty at all, most suitable for our hot and hazy days, in my personal opinion.

Oyster Sauce Sesame Chicken


Oyster Sauce Sesame Chicken
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Chicken stir-fried with lots of garlic and ginger in oyster sauce flavoured with a light dose of fragrant sesame oil. The addition of chilli padi further spiced up the dish. If you like, add in canned button mushrooms.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Braised Pork


Braised Pork
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

An occasional treat of streaky pork, I consciously avoid this cut because it has too much of unhealthy fat, braised with shoulder butt I normally used in this favourite dish. When the meat is ready, the layer of skin and the fat under it are so tender and tasty...it certainly minus the feel that they are the fatty and oily stuff! This dish goes well with plain rice, plain porridge and Chinese steamed plain buns call "man tou".

Braised Pork In A Pot:
Braised Pork

This is a hand-me-down recipe; I meant I have learnt it by watching my mother cooked it while helping out in my maternal home kitchen.

Stewed cuttlefish pork was one of the signature dishes my mum cooked during Chinese festivals. In the olden days, my mother used to make her own sweet glutinous rice wine known as yellow wine to go with this dish. To those who like cuttlefish, the pungent aroma it exudes during the cooking process is alluring and surely would induce one's appetite! And the sauce is really tasty with the addition of 'Hua Tiao Chiew', a type of cooking wine, which I have used in this dish.

Regrettably while two of my younger sisters have inherited the skill of making Hakka yellow wine, I have not. Still all is not lost, I am happy that I am able to produce a few Hakka dishes like the ginger wine chicken, black vinegar trotter, fishballs and fishcakes, niang doufu, mei cai men rou, braised pork etc. And of course my mum's delicious, nutritious "Dang gui Dom double-boiled chicken soup"...not sure if it is a Hakka soup though.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Stir-fried Lily Flowers


Stir-fried Lily Flowers
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Dried lily flowers were used as main ingredient in this dish. They were soaked in water till soft, drained and then the hard portions at the base of each flower were removed. I had seasoned them with salt, pepper and sugar before stir-frying.

If dried mushrooms were used at the same time, using some of the water that the mushrooms had been soaked in to soak the soften lily flowers once again will enhance their taste.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stuffed Bitter Melon


Stuffed Bitter Melon
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

I made stuffed bitter melons with homemade fish paste out of ER’s suggestion. The stuffed slices of bitter melon were lightly brown in oil and later braised in garlic chicken stock sauce. Pieces of stuffed melon are also inclusive in a plate of assorted “niang doufu” offers in restaurants as a dim sum item.

Stuffed Eggs


Stuffed Eggs
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

The original stuffed eggs that I cooked were stuffed with chopped prawns and pork fat, which is called "Bai Hua Niang Dan" in Mandarin. This original version, a recipe that has been kept for many years, is the most delicious! Later, I tried them with mince and fish paste stuffing, but this evening I chose to use homemade fish paste only and fried them in oil. (ER helped out in this part of the cooking.) The fish paste remained soft and springy and the egg offered good bites with a soft center, the egg yolk. Really, the fish paste and hard-boiled egg combination released a wonderful fragrance with each bite...delicious.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Stir-fried Kailan


Stir-fried Kailan
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

These "kailan" with thick stems from China are in season again. The stems are peeled and the harder woody portions are discarded. Slice the stems thinly across the grains and they are ready for use.

This crunchy vegetable has been my favourite…they are delicious when stir-fry with prawns and sliced meat, season with oyster sauce, a pinch of pepper and sugar and salt to taste. And if you like, a little of cooking wine~

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Stuffed Eggplants


Stuffed Eggplants
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

While shopping in the supermarket, when Rika heard that I would be making Hakka "Niang Doufu", she walked straight to the vegetable counter and started selecting eggplants which are her all time favourite :)

Niang DouFu


Niang DouFu
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

The oyster flavoured gravy made this dish looked glossy while the green onions released a nice fragrance to the sauce...yummy~ Rika did a good job in frying the stuffed beancurds and bean skin wraps though.

The filling of bean skin wraps in this plate included some mashed tofu in it…the bean skin wraps were softer after cooking in the gravy. I had served this to a close friend once and she loved this!

Fried Bean Skin Wraps


Fried Bean Skin Wraps
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Supposed to be cooked with gravy...hmm I saw Rika picked a few & ate them with ketchup :) When she was in secondary school, she would ask me to make extra pieces and froze them. She would crisp them in the oven before eating.

Anyway, credits went to Rika who did a good job in frying the stuffed beancurds and bean skin wraps.

Double-boiled Chicken Soup


Double-boiled Chicken Soup
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Japanese mushrooms and scallops make a good combination rendering a unique taste to this soup, which tastes very close to double-boiled abalone mushroom soup. I used “kampong” chicken in this soup. “Kampong” in Malay means village. Kampong chicken contains less fat and leaner, tastes sweeter and is a little tougher when compares to the normal chickens.

Unlike normal chickens, kampong chickens are not caged, but are allowed to roam freely within a compound. Thus, the higher muscle mass accounts for the slightly tougher texture.

Die-hard chicken lovers would go for the normal chickens. To them, a little fat can go a long way taste-wise. Having tried both normal chickens and “kampong” chickens in my cooking, my verdict is normal chickens are really more tender. Although price wise, kampong chickens cost a little more, my choice is to use kampong chickens in soups.

While writing this note, I was recalling the time when my parents and uncle kept some chickens, ducks, turkeys and two geese. These animals were kept in a fenced area and were allowed to roam freely and basically enough for our own consumption. They were fed with commercial feeding mix. Sometimes they were also fed with leftover rice and chopped water hyacinth. My uncle was especially good at hatching duck eggs. Those little yellow furry ducklings were so soft to the touch, cute and lovely! I was always saddened whenever they were given and taken away by friends!

Btw, the two geese we kept were especially annoying because these two creatures were always chasing after my sister SD and me and pecking at us…this would send us scurrying!

Char Siew


Roast Pork / "Char Siew"
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Rika often says, "It is fine to have other roast dishes from eateries, but “char siew” is best homemade!" After many attempts, I find that shoulder butt is the best cut for making “char siew”.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mince With Fresh Garlic


Mince With Fresh Garlic
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Few days ago, YH had asked for this mince and he wanted to eat it with lots of freshly chopped garlic. What is seen here is not enough, he requested for more that was served separately.

Recalling, during the 1st few months of my working life, sometimes my mum would cook this dish with sliced pork. My colleague, AD who was staying in the same estate as me would drive home for lunch and nice enough, he helped to pick up my lunch box from my home, which was just a short distance away.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mixed Vegetables Topped With Scallops & Mushrooms


Mixed Vegetables Topped With Scallops & Mushrooms
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

I was a little unwell yesterday…Rika took over to cook this dish, which differed completely from what I had in mind. Instead of the usual seafood I used with stir-fried veggies, she chose to add in dried scallops with the addition of mushrooms. She patiently braised the sliced mushrooms and scallops till they were soft and the dried scallops had exuded all the flavours. A nice change and this dish was yummy~ and she said, “Let’s cooked it again!”

It was a little funny that I thought Rika wanted to eat this vegetable dish like “ice kachang" [shaved ice topped with condiments] where we scooped a little at a time from the side of it…the way she assembled this dish resembled the shape of “ice kachang”, the cone shape…when I helped myself and scooped a section of the veggies from the plate, she remarked, “Hey mum…you spoiled the look of this dish…” She was enjoying and eating it bit by bit from the side :)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pear & Snow Ear Dessert


Pear & Snow Ear Dessert
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

This dessert expels “heatiness” from the body and moisturizes respiratory tract and soothes throat. It’s effective for relieving sore throat and coughing with yellow phlegm. I noticed it is especially effective during the onset of such syndrome.

Please note that you should not take this dessert when suffering from cold cough syndrome with clear phlegm.

Click here for the preparation directions: Recipe

The Ingredients:
Pear & Snow Ear Dessert

Bread Bowl


Bread Bowl
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

The bread bowls that Rika baked were filled with yummy chicken mushroom stew, which she cooked as filling from scratch. She was inspired by a similar stew she ate at an eatery.

The Bread Bowls:
French Loaf

Mushroom Quiche


Mushroom Quiche
Originally uploaded by Food Trails.

Quiche, pronounces as “keesh” is originated in northeastern France in the region of Alsace-Lorraine. It is a savoury pie consists of a pastry shell filled with custard make of eggs, cream, seasonings and various ingredients such as onions, mushrooms and ham etc. The most notable of these savoury pies is the quiche Lorraine, which has crisp bacon bits and sometimes gruyere cheese added to the custard filling.

Quiche is classically baked in a quiche pan that has fluted straight side of 8 to 12 inches and is about 1 ½ inches deep. We do not have such pan…so Rika made them into small pies. The pastry shells were fill with sautéed button and shiitaki mushrooms, egg custard mixture and then topped with grated cheddar cheese instead of gruyere cheese. These pies were yummy cheesy and creamy. Rika purposely cut the button mushrooms into chunky pieces. In her opinion, in this way better flavours and texture were achieved.

JenzHomeKitchen Welcome to my food blog, happy browsing and enjoy!

Glad to say, due to the long period of exposure to wholesome home cooking, inherited some of my mother's skills and coupled with further enhancement of adapting to established recipes, I am delighted to be able to concoct some recipes that I named: My version, which is bundled under "assortment of recipes" in this homepage :)



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