Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bubur Cha Cha 摩摩喳喳 - Featured in Group Recipes

What for afternoon tea? A bowl of famous Nyonya Dessert – Bubur Cha Cha
With our master chef around, we are not only getting to eat real "home" flavoured dinner, in weekend we get to enjoy authentic Malaysian desserts and snacks. The first on the list requested by hubby was Bubur Cha Cha.

This is one of the renowned Penang Nyonya desserts. Bubur is Malay word for porridge or congee, as for Cha Cha , no one seems to know how this name originated. However, my aunt shared this with us. She said this dessert is one of the main desserts serve on 15th day and last day of Chinese New Year especially by Hokkiens. In Penang Hokkien dialects, bubur cha cha is pronounced bubur che che – and "che che" means abundance or plentiful. So, it's considered auspicious to serve bubur cha cha to family and friends on that day.

This dessert is a sweet concoction with various types of sweet potatoes (the Kiwis call it Kumara), yam or taro, sago (Tapioca peals) and coconut milk (santan). Do try to use different types of sweet potatoes, to make the dessert more colourful. For healthy version you can change the coconut milk into evaporated milk instead, however you will miss the creamy coconut flavor. This dessert can be served warm or cold.

We steamed all sweet potatoes and taro until tender then added with boiled coconut milk. This way the kumara and taro would not be too mushy. Hubby loves the taste of sago, which is chewy and stretchy in its texture, so we were asked to put more sago. One of the common cooking habits of the older generation is that they tend to cook more, so we ended up with a huge pot. Well, this seemed to be good news to my friends who stayed around my neighbourhood J

Bubur Cha Cha  摩摩喳喳 - Featured in Group Recipies 28/11/2010

No question needed to be asked on how good the dessert was, as both of my young and old food critics asked for second bowl, this showed how good the dessert was! I must say the kumara in NZ tasted much sweeter and aromatic than that in Malaysia. It also has a smoother texture.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tuna Fritters 金枪鱼煎饼 - Featured in Group Recipes

Scottish Country Dancing
Last week, my Taiwanese computing classmates Linda and Lily invited a few of us to attend their Taiwan Women society monthly activities. Since our computing course was coming to an end and many of us had submitted our last assignment to the tutor, we decided it was a good idea to take a break. Hence, on Wednesday I accepted the invitation and attended their Scottish Country Dancing function. 

Scottish Country Dancing is one of the oldest folk dances in the world. This dance form is done in sets, normally of 3, 4 or 5 couples, that arrange themselves either in two lines (men facing ladies) or in a square. Since this was a Women society, some of us had to act as men and I was given a collar to dance as a man. I found the dancing steps were not difficult to learn. During the course of the dance, the dancers completed a set of formations enough times to bring them back to their opening positions. 
We all had an awesome time learning this joyful folk dance. After all the legs exercise, came the turn of mouth exercise insteadJ. We had a fabulous lunch sharing with every member who brought their delectable home cooked meals.

I had made this Tuna Fritters which could be served either cold or hot and great for parties or picnic.  I adapted this recipe from the Taste Magazine.

Tuna Fritters 金枪鱼煎饼 - Featured in Group Recipes 27/11/2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Asam Pedas Stingray 亚叁浦鱼 - Featured in Group Recipes

Nyonya Cuisine

Following my last post, the second dish served last Saturday night by our guest chef was the famous Nyonya Asam Pedas (Sour and Spicy) fish. We used Stingray (Skate Wings), which was a common fish for curry because of its not so flaky texture and the ability to withstand long simmer.  In addition, it has no tiny sharp bones which makes it very easy to eat. If you are not used to cook this fish, you can opt for pomfret or mackerel or any fish steak that does not flake easily.
That night other than the Lo Ark , this sour spicy dish was another big hit that teased our appetites to second and even third servings of rice J
Asam Pedas Stingray 亚叁浦鱼 - Featured in Group Recipes 25/11/2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Teochew Loh Ack (Braised Duck) 潮州卤鸭 - Featured in Group Recipes

Teochew Cuisine
With Ray’s auntie, our ex-home chef, staying with us for the next 2 months, I am taking this opportunity to hand over my kitchen duty to her since we miss her cooking so much.  With her running my kitchen and being my guest chef, I bet I’d get to learn more home cooking and have more recipes to share in this blog especially hubby’s family Teochew cuisine and authentic Nyonya dishes which she specializes in. I’m so pleased to step down from my position and pass my chef cap to her. :-P
With a master chef brought in all the way from Penang, I proudly invited my Penang group of friends in Auckland who were craving for Penang food to come over for a real Penang home cooked meals.  It was such a divine feast; the dishes served were so homely and authentic which we all missed so much.  Shared below are the main course and side dish we had for the night.  If you think they look tempting, wait till you have tasted them J
Teochew Braised Duck 潮州卤鸭 - Featured in Group Recieps 24/11/2010

I want that drumstick!
Braised eggs and bean curds
As some of us may have noticed, most experienced cooks don’t usually measure the cooking ingredients with a scale, spoon or other measuring gadgets.  Though it may not appear that they are measuring but they actually are. They measure by a combination of their eyes and experience. When I asked her how much to use she had difficulty to spell out as precisely.  In order to transcribe this recipe, I had to ask her to measure every single ingredient she added.  However, most of the time I was not fast enough to measure them before she added the ingredients in L
Hence, I can only try my best to estimate the quantity of seasoning.  However she said the amount used is based on taste which is really the essence of measuring. I hope my effort in recording this recipe does not contribute to another item in your kitchen trash bin.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tom Yum Baked Snapper冬荫酱焗鲷鱼 – Featured in Group Recipes

"What do I do with the snapper for dinner tonight? "

Taking out the last snapper given by Ellen, I puzzled over it, trying to figure out what other good way to cook it since we just had steamed snapper on Friday. As the fish was still pretty fresh, it kind of a waste to deep frying. Moreover, I was put off by the idea of the cleaning up part after deep frying, what a hassle! L

So, what did I do with the fish? Keep the wok, do away the steamer, let just chuck it into oven and what cuisine for tonight? Let's do Thai J

Tom Yum Baked Snapper冬荫酱焗鲷鱼 (Featured in Group Recipes 21/11/2010)
The appetizingly sourish and savory taste of Tom Yum is always great to go with seafood. It would be even better if I added in some tomatoes, ladies fingers (okra) :-P

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wholemeal Toast Bread 全麦土司 (湯種法) - Featured in Group Recipes

Wanna another slice?

Following my great success in making white toast bread using Tangzhong (water roux starter) method, it motivated me to try on Wholemeal Bread J

Wholemeal Toast Bread 全麦土司 (湯種法) - Featured in Group Recieps on 19/11/2010

I was so pleased to see another successful batch of flavorsome, soft and spongy wholemeal bread coming out from my oven. Ray has been waiting anxiously to try out the bread since he saw me kneading the bread dough last night.

I was flattered when Ray's Nanny commented that the bread tasted so much nicer and softer than the one I bought from the shop J


Friday, November 19, 2010

Steamed Snapper with Ginger and Spring Onions姜葱蒸鲷鱼- Featured in Group Recipes

Garden to table – Spring Onions
Weather getting warmer by the day, meaning fishing season has started. In other words, more keen anglers' are heading out to fish. Fringe benefit of knowing keen anglers means more chances to enjoy free and fresh supplies of seafood.

Thanks to my dear friend Ellen, we got to enjoy fresh snapper for dinner tonight. The fish tasted so fresh and delicious even though I only used simple ingredients like soy sauce, ginger and fresh spring onion from my garden J

In my opinion, the best way of cooking fresh fish is just simply steaming it. This simple and healthy fish recipe takes less than 15 minutes to cook.

Steamed Snapper with Ginger and Spring Onions姜葱蒸鲷鱼

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cottony Toast Bread 波特吐司 (湯種法) - Featured in Group Recipes

Tang Zhong (Water Roux) Bread Making Part 2 – The success

As our old Chinese proverb quotes "failure is the mother of success". I was not held back by the last 3 tumbles I experienced with Tangzhong bread making. I moved on to try out Yvonne Chen's Tangzhong White Toast bread recipe and this time I finally got it right! I felt so contented the moment I sliced open the center of the loaf and revealed cottony, fluffy and spongy texture J

Fluffy and spongy  Cottony Toast Bread 波特吐司 (湯種法)

Cottony Toast Bread (Featured in Group Recipes 17/11/2010)

Compare to the direct bread making method, the dough using water roux method is much stickier. No wonder many suggested using dough mixer to do the mixing and kneading for Tanzhong bread. But, if you like the idea of 100% handmade then you must prepare to stick your hands into gloppy and gooey mess dough. I tried to use wooden spatula to mix the dough as much as possible until the dough was too sticky to move then only I used hands. In my opinion, the final kneading was the most tiring part; I spent 15 minutes to totally blend in the butter to form glossy, smooth and stretchy dough. Overall, it took me about 40 to 45 minutes of hand mixing and kneading time before the dough was ready for it first proof.

This recipe I shared was based on my hand kneading experience; for original recipe using machine kneads you can refer to Christine Recipes of her Tanzhong Hokkaido Milky loaf.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Failed Breads

Tang Zhong (Water Roux starter) Bread Making Part 1 – The Failures

After a few successful batches of basic bread recipes, I decided is time to experiment more challenging ways of bread making. This time, I was focusing on how to improve the quality of bread texture especially to maintain the softness of the bread to last for days.

Since I had exhausted learning from my basic bakery book, I seek online help. After Google, I came across on Christine's Recipes introducing Tang Zhong 汤种 (Water Roux starter) way of bread making. Following that, it led me to these two Taiwan bestselling homemade bread making recipe books; first Meng Zhaoqing (孟老師的100道麵包.) and Bread Doctor, by Yvonne Chen (陳郁芬65C 湯種麵包).

I started off with Meng Zhaoqing's Tangzhong Coco toast bread. The coco bread did come out soft and fluffy but too bad it contained holes. The reasons of bread with holes might due to the air wasn't pressed out when I shaped the loaf or the dough rose to long before I baked it.
Coco Loaf with holes
Soft and fluffy texture but with holes
My next try was butter crumble toast which I failed miserably. The bread turned out to be flat (over proof) with stone hard crust (over baked). I had left the dough sitting too long in a heated oven during my second rising process.

When I did my touch testing on second rise, the dough flatten once I poked my finger in, this clearly indicated the dough has been over risen. I should have punch down and let it proof again but nevertheless I continued baking. Another reason also the Tanzhong I used was too thick and not runny enough.

Flat Butter crumble Toast Bread

The crust was over baked and too hard to eat

Tangzhong (Water Roux starter) - Too Thick

My 3rd Tangzhong challenge was famous Hokkaido Milky Toast Bread recipe by Yvonne Chen. But again it didn't turn out fluffy and cottony as it should be but instead very dense. I guessed this time I did not knead the dough well enough before proofing L

Hokkaido Milky Toast Bread
I do not mind to share my failures, because in my opinion the great way of learning is to learn from mistakes. By highlighting these mistakes, I hope others will not be caught as what I had been thru, am I right?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stir Fry French Beans with Prawn Cutlets四季豆酱炒虾仁 (Featured in Group Recipes)

Welcoming dinner – Part 2

Stir fry French Beans with prawn cutlets, this was the second side dish that I had prepared as our family guest requested more vegetable dishes. For this recipe, I used Thai bean paste to stir fry French beans. Other than oyster sauce, bean paste is another great choice of stir fry sauce. This again is another fast, simple stir fry dish that can be ready under 30 minutes.

Stir Fry French Beans with Prawn Cutlets四季豆酱炒虾仁
Too bad, my dwarf beans still not in time to be harvested else it would be a good opportunity for me to show off my green fingers other than my cooking skills J
Dwarf beans seedling

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stir-fry Scallops with Gai Lan 芥兰炒扇贝 (Featured in Group Recipes)

Welcoming dinner – Part 1

Since we moved to NZ, we have tasted NZ cockles, mussels and the shellfish next in line that I'm going to introduce are fresh scallops. Back home, I used to cook dried scallops in soups, porridge but seldom fresh scallops. I was told in NZ, fresh scallops were easily available and they were not expensive when on special. For a while, I have been eyeing to have my hands on them.

At last, this week they are on special, 2 dozen of fresh scallops for $12 (normal price at $9/dozen). Other than Abalone, this delectable mollusk too has long been regarded as an exclusive delicacy in Asia. This special offer was just in time for me to prepare a sumptuous welcoming dinner for our guest of honor from Malaysia, Hubby's closest cousin sister, who happened to play the role as 2 generations super nanny taking care of both hubby's first 12 years and Ray's first 5 years from birth.

She was also our Master Chef back home. We all loved her cooking very much. But, now was my turn to play host, so I had to think of something local, delicious to showcase Auckland and what came into my mind was seafood especially Shellfish. After picking her up from the airport Tuesday afternoon, I went straight to grab 2 boxes of fresh scallops for my dinner preparation.

I used Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli 芥兰) to complement the scallops; the sweetness of fresh scallops was just pleasant to neutralize the slight bitterness of Gai Lan. Other than my signature dish, Crispy Roasted Pork Belly, this was what I served on the dinner table that night.

Stir fry Scallops with Gai Lan  芥兰炒扇贝 - Featured in Group Recipes 11/11/2010
Welcoming Dinner @ 9/11/2010


Monday, November 8, 2010

Tom Yum Mussels 冬荫青口 - (Featured in Group Recipes)

Mussels again?
Mussels on sale again @ $1.99/kg! By reading this, you can tell what will be in my dinner menu right? J

Mussels are plentiful in NZ that's why they are cheap not only that, they are fresh, I love to play around with different ways of cooking them. We had tried BBQ Mussels, so what other options that I can do with them? I was thinking of something fast and easy less than 30 min and something spicy since my boy does not eat them, let see …….

When I was going thru my kitchen and saw a small piece of Galangal (Kha in Thai, Lengkuas in Malay) and a bunch of mint leaves lying on the kitchen top, an idea flashed in. My landlord is going to redo our backyard landscaping by Friday and my herbs garden will need to be relocated and these galangal plants and mints were the two plants that I had dug out this morning.

Now can you guess what the menu with all these ingredients is? J

Tom Yum Mussels 冬荫青口- Featured in Group Recipes 09/11/2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Bread 香蕉燕麦巧克力面包 (Featured in Group Recipes )

The day before hubby told me that he couldn't finish the banana on time (It was on sales last week and I had bought more than his usual daily consumption) and there were still two very ripe bananas that needed to be disposed ASAP. Seeing that, it struck my mind to use up these ripe bananas to bake banana bread for our computing class lunch sharing on Wednesday.    

Frankly this was my 3rd attempts of banana bread making. I tried using 2 different recipes but having the same failure reason where the bread were a bit over burnt outside but center still mushy. After, getting great baking suggestions from my Foodbuzz foodies, I decided to give it another try. Thank god, this time the bread turned out very flavorful and not mushy else it would be very embarrassing for me to be empty handed to the lunch sharing function.

This is a very simple recipe. In fact, I have combined 2 recipes into one. I adapted the main recipe from my sister-in-law who email me from Vancouver. The original recipe used Walnut which my boy does not like it. So, I replaced with two other ingredients Oat and Chocolate chips which I extracted from another recipe recommended in Taste magazine. 

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Bread 香蕉燕麦巧克力面包(mouseover to see close-up)
Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Bread 香蕉燕麦巧克力面包 - Featured in Group Recipes 6/11/2010

Lunch Sharing at TWOA Computing Class @ 03/11/2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Butter Crumb Sweet Buns with Kaya 加央酥松粒面包 (Featured in Group Recipes)

This recipe is similar to my previous sweet loaf which also extracted from my one and only one bakery book - Baking made easy by Agnes Chang. This is actually sweet sesame seeds buns recipe, but since my boy does not like sesame seeds and I have leftover butter crumb so the sesame sweet buns transformed into butter crumb sweet buns instead J

I started to make the dough on Saturday night, 9pm hoping to be able to bake the bread by following day for our picnic trip. It took me more than 30 minutes to massage the dough before it ready to be left to proof. No wonder, recently I started to notice my arms getting more muscular than ever. J As I explained in my bread story before, I don't have any bread maker and dough mixer to help me in bread making, I hand knead all my breads.

To me, the only frustrating thing about home making bread is the long proofing time. I have a very impatient boy at home that keeps on asking me every now and then whether the bread is ready or not? Over here, it takes ages to proof! I never managed to proof the bread in less than 2 hours in room temperature, even when the weather is getting warmer. I suppose I can only do that when I'm back to Malaysia.

Currently, our room temperature is still less than 20 degree at night. I left the dough sit overnight in the oven, hoping to achieve slower rising, which promote more flavorful to the dough. While, the dough was resting, time for me to rest too by enjoying Halloween scary movie.

The next morning at 7.30a.m when I checked on the dough, it turned out to be nicely proof. I lightly punched down and let it rest for another 15 minutes before I shaped the dough into 9 rolls of 60g each buns with kaya (Coconut Egg jam) filling and 3 plain (Hubby does not like jam) and a small toast bread loaf.

To speed up the second proofing time, I placed the dough back in the oven and switch on oven to set minimun heat  at 30 degree and placed a bowl of hot water in the lower shelf of the oven. I left it there for about 2 hours while I went for my grocery shopping. By the time, I came back from my errand, the second rise was just right, for me to start baking. I managed to get the bread nicely baked in time for our lunch time.

I think this batch of bread was so far my best bread, the texture was so soft and wholesome with butter crumb added the buttery flavor.

Butter Crumb Kaya Sweet Buns - Featured in Group Recieps 05/11/2010
Butter Crumb Toast bread 酥松粒吐司面包
The following slideshow demostrates the making process.


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