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CHOCOLATE PUDDING

 

The majority of us love chocolate. Chocolate to me is a symbol of love and care. I give chocolates whenever I visit someone or for that matter anyone. There was a time when I carried bars of chocolate in my handbag just to give to children. People around me love chocolate and there is always chocolate in my home. I am also adventurous when shopping for chocolates. I love dark chocolate and pure choc nibs. Of course it is bitter but you eat little at a time. I have eaten various types of chocolates from various countries; recently I tried some from Nicaragua and Belize. They were good!

                                                          Chocolate buttons with different flavours

Chocolate had been my go to support whenever I was low and I tend to overeat it.

There have been occasions when I have completed 1 whole bar of 200g chocolate and I have also gobbled 1 full tin of chocolates at one go. Just can’t imagine how did I do that!!

But that’s the past and I have become sober now but nevertheless I do love a nice cup of hot cocoa or hot chocolate – somehow reminds me of my childhood days. I guess I have to blame my Mum for it. She madly loved chocolates and drank hot cocoa or chocolate quite often. I love the way she did my hot cocoa but really I don’t know her method. I learnt to do it by reading from various books and came up with my own recipe. Watch this blog – I will reveal the secret of making a hot cup of steaming rich cocoa!

But now I want to share another chocolate recipe, which is a chocolate pudding. This is one pudding that my mum had made. I wished I had her recipe but nevertheless my recipe is so chocolateee and delicious!

It is easy to make, a recipe for chocoholics, and can be dressed up to serve to guests.

Pure moulded chocolates

You may also serve the warm pudding as chocolate dips for fruits and biscuits or bread sticks.

I have made this pudding several times but each time I made different toppings to depict the occasion. For example for a child’s birthday party I put a dollop of homemade ice cream in a pudding cup for each child to enjoy!

I taught this recipe to my residents at a community club in my monthly baking class lesson and I topped with crunchy maple cornflakes and pecan nuts.

So experiment and enjoy this wonderful pudding.   Love to hear from you of course. If you have other combinations kindly feel free to comment. You are so welcome!

REN’S CHOCOLATE PUDDING

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sugar

3 tbsp cocoa powder (pl use good quality)

100 g dark chocolate – melted

½ cup corn flour

½ tsp salt

6 cups milk

4 tbsp butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

For topping, use any of the following:

Strawberries/nuts/granola/cranberries

Chocolate pudding served in cups

METHOD

Sieve all dry ingredients.

Blend the corn flour in 1 cup of milk. Keep aside.

In a pot, stir together cocoa powder, sugar. Stir in remaining milk. Add the salt.

Once heated, pour in slowly the corn flour mixture and continue stirring constantly till mixture is thickened.

Remove from heat. Add in the melted chocolate, butter and vanilla extract. Sieve this mixture.

Serve in individual small glasses or in a large bowl to be the centerpiece in a dinner table.

Top with nuts, granola or cranberries or fresh fruits such as strawberries as preferred.

Chill in the fridge if serving cold.

Notes:

You may substitute cocoa powder totally with your preferred dark chocolate.

This pudding can be served warm or cold.

You may reduce the sugar or use other types of sugar such as raw or brown sugar.

You need to thoroughly mix quickly when pouring the corn flour mixture. Use a whisk for easy stirring.

You may add brandy or rum instead of vanilla extract if serving to adults only.

I have used treacle rum and it was fabulous.

You may substitute other flavorings instead of vanilla extract but make sure it is a compatible flavour to chocolate, e.g. banana and chocolate or raspberry and chocolate or caramel and chocolate etc

Keep all the ingredients and utensils ready. The mixture will thicken quite quickly especially when you remove from the stove to sieve the mixture. You need to work fast here.

If it thickens, put back on the stove and add a little milk and whisk it quickly.

It is a great pudding for children’s parties and to anyone who loves chocolate

 

Work tools all moulded in chocolate at a private chocolatier in Genoa, Italy

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Devilled Curry Prawns

 

This is an interesting recipe from a friend, Mr. Viki who is a well known poet and hails from Sri Lanka.

He is known to be a great cook and I have eaten some of his creations such as his cutlets both fish as well as vegetarian, they were excellent. He brought it when we went for a retreat so it was like fabulous picnic food.

On another occasion, when we wanted to celebrate a mutual friend’s birthday, we threw a potluck party and this is the dish that he had cooked and brought. It was soo good!

I asked him to share his recipe and this is it!

His recipe seems to have many ingredients but I can tell you it is worth the effort of cooking this dish. I have done the dish with little changes and it came out fantastic. It is a good party dish and goes so well with wine as a starter.

For most of us a steaming plate of rice is enough accompaniment. But if you remove the shells of the prawns, or reduce the chilies then it can be rolled into breads etc. I had some leftovers, which I spread on pizza dough and baked quickly. Oh my goodness – so delicious!

The dish is very spicy with plenty of chilies and fresh peppers and I loved it with just wine alone.  The recipe given here is exactly as Mr. Viki had given me.

Thank you Viki for a wonderful recipe. Wish to learn from you more!  My dear friends – make this dish and taste for yourself the superb flavors in this delicious prawn dish.

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CHEESY BRINJAL BAKE

 

Vegetables always have great nutritional values and we are told to eat vegetables on a daily basis to receive as much nutritive values.

Many a times while discussing about food, my friends have always complained about how difficult it is to get their children to eat vegetables. I am so very glad that my daughters love all the vegetables whatever the colour. Very surprisingly, I personally do not like broccoli except if it is made into a blended soup. My girls will make fun of me about this whenever I cook broccoli!

Brinjal is one  vegetable that my family loves. I love Malay style brinjal berlado the best or in Indian style chutneys which goes so well with briyanis.

I love to bake vegetables as often as possible with different herbs and possibilities and one such dish is this brinjal bake.

It looks very presentable, simple to do, no need to fuss in the kitchen type of recipe.

It is a side dish for pasta or a meat dish and sometimes it can be the main dish as well if you are a vegetarian.

You can experiment with the different cheeses that you like or keep to the safe ones that you normally use.

Use different types of brinjals, as each is a little different from each other in flavour and taste. The lighter green and purple ones are less bitter though.

For this recipe use the big dark purple eggplant as they are large and easy to cut into even large slices.

Lets enjoy vegetables!

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BLUE MARBLE BUTTER CAKE

Blue Birthday Marble Cake

 

I have done many birthday cakes as well as cakes to befit different occasions so far.

Previously when I started to make cakes on a regular basis, I did not write down or took pictures of my cakes. In the last 3 years I have started to write and take pictures at the same time for the sake of my family, friends and readers of my blog.

When I was a teenager, one of the best cakes that I have eaten was from a hotel at Orchard Road. It was for my nephew’s first birthday which was shaped as a Concord plane. It looked so real that my father wanted to pick it up and give it to my nephew to play. When the cake was being cut, my father’s finger prints were at the sides of the cake which was the body of the plane. A cake that I would have loved to replicate of course but which I never did.

I have never spent alot for my childrens’ birthdays because I always thought it was a waste of effort and money as very very young children may not know what the fuss is about.

But I agree that any occasion to bring the family and extended family and even friends is reason enough to celebrate an occasion.

I remember doing simple birthday parties for my 2 daughters when they were in kindergarten and primary schools. Yes there will be cake and food and games in my house. And because they are a little older than babies or toddlers, they are able to see the cakes and enjoy them as well. One of my favourite cake was the Humpty Dumpty Cake. I used an empty eggshell for the face of Humpty and drew his face and let him sit on a brick wall cake. These are just memories because as I said earlier no photos were taken.

But now I take pictures and write down everything about the cake so as to improve or to bake the cake again when it turns out so delicious.

One such cake is this Blue Birthday Marble Cake made specially for a senior friend of mine who loves the colour, Blue! She does not like sponge cakes or chocolate cakes and definitely not too much frosting!  So I did a marble butter cake frosted  with fresh blue whipped cream icing and blue m&m chocolate buttons.

 

 

The cake was so tasty that it finished even though we had taken a full sumptious dinner earlier!

Anyone can make this cake – I have made this cake umpteen times just for the deliciousness and each time I had received many accolades. Simple and tasty and can be decorated elegantly to suit any occasion.

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COFFEE TALK

COFFEE TALK

Singapore coffee festival is an event for all coffee lovers and more. I went to this year’s coffee fest held at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre  and was greeted with beautiful quotes along the way. Enticing me of course!

 

 

The first stop that caught my eye was organic coffee!. Had to try. Drank 2 cups of Peruvian coffee. Loved it. Especially the coffee named fiesta. My must buy to bring home!

I was looking around for breakfast but there was nothing much.  While looking for a bite I was intrigued by 3 vendors, selling pie tee buah kluak, chilli crab croissant  and vegan burger made totally with soya. Wasn’t keen on soya and chilli crab croissant was more like lunch so settled for the pie tee. Good choice, spicy with generous filling of chicken and buah kluak paste. It was definitely a ‘wow’. Should have reduced the salt though.

Pie tee full of buah kluak flavor!

 

Headed down to learn to make flat white which is what I normally order when I am in a cafe.

So it is 30% expresso with 60% steamed milk and 10% milk froth.   So I can do it at home for my daily caffeine fix..

I had always liked and have followed Sumiko Tan’s writings in the Sunday times for many years, so participated in Coffee with the columnists with Sr writer, Mr WongKH together with another best known columnist Ignatius Low in the forum.  Realized that they write their hearts out and not something they were told to write on. Great! Mr Ignatius Low was honest so will follow his column too.

 

This drink caught my eye at the wharf area.   But I loved the bottle more than the lychee tea that was inside it!

Walked around several vendors, surprised that Shiseido is not only a cosmetic house but a cafe as well. They had collagen drinks and cheese cake – couldn’t control my amusement..  They were promoting their skin care range at the same time.  Yes good idea!

I had time to listen to a talk on flat lay photography who is a blogger himself.    Delivery could have been better.

Some ST staff at the entrance of the activity corner  at the flat lay photography were not very helpful.  Maybe the organizers could do it better next time.

Nevertheless there was more than just coffee, there was wine, books, magazines, coffee in ice cream, and many cafes showing off their wares.  There were interesting forums, talks, learning to brew coffee, tasting like an expert and home roasting demonstrations. Of course there were chocolates and those from Nicaragua and Belize were worth a try.

Loved the ambience and the space to move around.   Happy to note recycling was a part of the festival to save the earth.  Great Move!  The crowd was basically young, from 20s to 40s, very hip and adventurous!

Yes I will join again next year.

AVOCADO SHAKE

AVOCADO SHAKE

 

The first time I had avocado was in Jakarta many years ago. I had gone on a 7 day cruise in Leisure World (Now this ship is no more) with a friend, Ms Mandy and she introduced the avocado as a miracle fruit. And this fruit was made into a shake which can be found in many cafes. street corners as well as restaurants in Jakarta. Her favourite way of saying something so shiok is “Shokudu”   Sometimes I  use this word when something is so out of this world in taste.

Yes I agree with her so much that this avocado shake is so shokudu in taste especially when gula Melaka (palm sugar) is added.

Back in Singapore then, hardly  could I find avocado except in specialty fruit shops and later the avocado shake was in the menu in Sanur Indonesian restaurant at Centrepoint, Orchard Road, Singapore. They used to make a fantastic avocado shake. Now somehow this drink has been so commercialized and I guess the ingredients are not authentic.

Now practically all kinds of fruit is available all year round due to imports from various countries.   We are very lucky too because I have seen the prices are sometimes much lower than the countries they have been imported from – could be due to economies of scale.

Avocado itself is so versatile. It grows in many countries. The common ones we find here are from South America, USA, Australia , Vietnam, and Indonesia. I have tried Sri Lankan varieties. They are much smaller but the Thai and Vietnamese variety tend to be the size of our palm. In Asian countries it is known as butter fruit. This is quite a suitable name because you can substitute mashed avocado for butter in your toast. Sometimes I sprinkle demerara sugar on my toast or even spread honey with it.  Because of its bland taste and the creaminess, butter can be substituted with avocado puree in cakes. I have tried some cakes and it did turn out well. So you can eat more cake as it contains no butter which is all fat. No need to feel guilty after eating cake!  I have done pancakes and waffles with avocado.  Do find time to check them out  in my blog.  Extremely delicious.

In my home, avocados sit on my fruit basket. Used daily for breakfast, shake and many times in salads.  I also make a Mexican dip known as guacomole.

As in most fruits, avocados ripen best off the tree. But here in Singapore I haven’t seen that so you’ll find that a lot of them are unripe when you shop. Choose avocados that feel heavy. The skin should be dark, with a hint of green, and taut, with no dents.

If a little ripe, when you hold an avocado, it will give a little give.

If avocados at the market are green and unripe, you can ripen them at home. Put them in a brown paper bag out of direct sunlight. Within three days they’ll be ripe and ready to eat. Press the skin gently. It will be tender but not too soft.

 

As for the shake you may put all the ingredients and blend and pour it into a glass, or if you want restaurant style, then the ingredients can be layered to make it so inviting. Of course you can stir and not stir too much to avoid too much of a certain ingredient.

Some may not like too much sweetness or too much coconut cream. And this can be decided if the shake is layered accordingly. For me I prefer to mix all and drink it chilled or slurp it slowly so as to maximize the joy of tasting my favourite fruit shake.

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Sambal Belachan – So shiok!

Some years ago, I went to Janda Baik in Malaysia for a course on Awareness Before Change 

It was my Company that encouraged me to go for it. To go for this course was one of the best  decisions that I made – I should say. It changed my life, the way I think and what to do if I ever need to get what I want. I am not saying need. It is What I want!. I didn’t practise what I learnt because I don’t have any wants in life. If I had been the go getter probably I would be a multi millionaires now!

No! I was more intrigued by the lifestyle of the trainers, the Colonel and his beautiful petite wife and who they have become to be.

At Janda Baik, at lunch time, our long wooden table always carried a cane basket full of this winged beans which were plucked  from the garden or maybe from the jungle nearby.

I was not going to eat vegetables that were not cooked especially vegetables that I am not familiar with. But I was coersed by the Cooks that I should try as it is very good for health.  Decided to give a try and it was indeed very refreshing.  I was hooked!

Back in Singapore – I couldn’t find it for a long time. I wanted my girls to eat this vegetable because they enjoy raw food. And I got a friend to buy it at a local market. (now I can get it at the Kranji farm which has this organic vegetable and other varieties too). But to eat this raw one needs a sambal to go with it.

I notice most of our various cultures have some form of sambals/dips in the diet. Indians have their chutneys, pickles, Italians their various olive oil dips, Thais have their nam prik, nam pla and many more.

But I love a mean sambal belachan which can be eaten with raw vegetables, or stir fried or as an accompaniment to rice.

As a child in my grandma’s place in Bukit Timah, I have seen my Malay neighbours eating together as a group using one huge tray of food. They sit on the floor in a circle around the tray and enjoy their rice with boiled vegetables, sambal belachan and fried fish. It is a sight to behold. I remember allowing them into my grandma’s garden to pluck sweet potato leaves and tapioca and some other vegetables on a regular basis.

My grandma was a giver of food, just like my mum. I remember that almost daily, some people will come and ask for permission to pluck fruits and vegetables. We had plenty to eat and to give away too.

I remember too, when I was married and had my own place, there were just too many ladies fingers and brinjals in my backyard that I gave away daily. Sometimes I pack it and give to whoever I meet when I go for a walk or when I wanted to fetch my girls from school.

Somehow this habit of giving food has been instilled in me that I tend to cook more than necessary so that I can pack the leftovers for my guests to bring home too.

Now when I am teaching baking or cooking at my Potong Pasir Community Club, I also tend to cook extra and my student residents are just too happy to have more. And I do this teaching voluntarily too.   I remember my WEC Chairman, Ms Jenny Yong, telling me once when I initially started to teach about 5 ½ years ago, that we want happy residents.  I totally agree with her.

This joy of seeing others happy is just too great. Money definitely cannot buy that, right? (more…)

AVOCADO WAFFLES - A BREAKFAST TREAT

Avocado Waffles

BREAKFAST. We need breakfast daily. Not simply bread and toast all the time, or our favorite local prata, nasi lemak, chee cheong fun, etc. Once in a while make it special and different.

Lately I am experimenting with different types of whole grain and nutritive flours. I did the following breakfast on a Sunday morning which I know my family members will enjoy.

It is so simple once you have your ingredients on hand.

Avocados are always in my house, it is a staple for my daughter who eats it daily with one of her meals at least.

I told her I will make avocado pancakes the night before, but decided to do waffles instead.

At first I thought the buckwheat flour will not marry with the avocado well but I tell you, it happened to be a good combination. If you like buckwheat and avocado then please go ahead and make it because it gives a satisfying and fulfilling breakfast without the feeling of “Oh dear too much of a flour meal first thing in the morning”

The waffles were perfectly cooked, crisp on the outside and soft inside.

I gather this can be an all day breakfast meal if you include a piece of roast chicken or ham etc. Include a green salad and it becomes lunch or dinner.

That’s what I did with leftover batter. So enjoy a different kind of meal for a change, albeit a nutritious clean meal!

 

Avocado waffles

INGREDIENTS

1 cup self raising flour

1 cup buckwheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 avocados

 

METHOD

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend to a batter . It is alright to have some lumpy avocado.

Heat a waffle iron, brush with butter.

Pour half a cup of batter into the waffle iron and cook till desired crispness or softness is reached.

Serve with maple syrup, strawberries or blueberries and sunny side eggs.

Notes:

You may replace oil with any other preferred oil or melted butter.

You may use half cup self raising flour and 1 ½ cups buckwheat flour.

As this is not a cake recipe, you don’t need to be exact in the measurements.

Please reduce the salt if desired.

Use ripe avocadoes if possible and if you use another 1 more avocado, you don’t need the eggs.

You can make pancakes if you do not have a waffle iron. Add half a cup of water to dilute the batter if necessary.

 

PINEAPPLE TARTS TASTES DIVINE

 

Pineapple tarts have been a firm favourite since I had helped my mum making it as a little girl. I remember rolling the pineapple jam into small marble sizes and placing them on a tray.

My mum is the person who had made such great tarts that many of her friends would come over just to get a tin. My mother never sold any food to anyone, she always gives them.   And which I do follow till today. The satisfaction of seeing someone’s joy is just immense.

And I love pineapple tarts so much that I must share this incident that may leave you dumbfounded.  It is  a true incident.

You should know if you read about me  in my home page, that my mum passed away when I was barely 18 years old.

I got married at age 23.   I was in the family way at age 27.

And guess what, I craved for my mum’s pineapple tarts, but how?

I had a dream that night, my mum who was dressed so regally knocked on my door and was holding a huge tin of pineapple tarts. I remember the tin so well – it was a 2 kg EveryDay milk powder tin.

She told me this “this is just for you, enjoy it”.

I took the tin and started eating and devouring the pineapple tarts one by one. I was so satisfied. And thanked her profusely. She smiled and went away.

When I woke up that morning, I could sense the taste of pineapple tarts in my mouth and throat.   You will understand this when you eat one too many.   I was so shocked and do you know, it was the best and till today I don’t crave it that much even though it is my favourite festive treat.

 

 

Now to the main tart itself, I have done many variations of this tart but yet to perfect the one that my mum made. She didn’t leave a recipe. So it has always been a trial and each time doing the tarts slightly differently. Yes I did have many successes along the way, and as always never wrote the recipe down. One day, my younger daughter who also loves these tarts told me that she is going to tape me while I am doing it. Which she did. That is the recipe that I have been using to make tarts for her.

As she lives in London, whenever she comes to visit me or when someone goes to London, I will pass 2 jars of pineapple tarts, one for her and another for my best friend’s daughter, Mary Laura who loves these tarts too. Mary Laura has told that my tarts are the best.

Me being always on the look out for a pineapple tart recipe, came to read about pineapple tarts in the Straits Times quite  recently and so decided to have a go with this recipe. I found the dough  very difficult to handle as it had too much butter to flour ratio. But the taste was good.

 

Today’s recipe is the adaptation from the article in the Straits times  with some modifications and  it turned out so well. You will not be disappointed with this recipe of course. So those friends of mine who have requested for the recipe, here it is. Enjoy making it and eating it too.

Both the jam and the pastry are important elements.

But to save time, you may buy the jam from reputed stores. There are some good ones, for today’s recipe I bought the premium jam and I did some modifications to suit my taste.

For the pastry, it depends on your preference, some like it crumbly, some like it crisp and soft, and some like it meltingly smooth.

The pastry that I have in this recipe is slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the inside. If you bake it a little longer maybe another 5 minutes more, it will be crisp crumbly.

My personal preference is a pastry which is crisp on the outside and soft inside, which melts in your mouth but at the same time very flavourful.

 

Pineapple tarts

INGREDIENTS

210 gm plain flour

20 gm cornflour

30 gm icing sugar

¼ tsp salt

140 gm unsalted butter – must be direct from fridge and cubed

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

I to 2 tbsp ice water if necessary.

Pineapple jam as required

METHOD for Dough

In a food processor, add all the ingredients except the ice water.

Pulse it or use low speed to get the dough together. If it does not form a ball of dough, add 1 tbsp of ice cold water. Repeat if necessary to form a nice soft dough.

Keep aside in the fridge for 15 mins to 30 mins.

Or you may roll the dough to about 0.6 cm if it is not too soft to handle and proceed to use the tart mold to cut into shapes and fill with the jam.

Bake in a preheated oven at 175C for 15 mins or to your preferred pastry texture. Not more than 20 mins or your jam will become too hard.  This happens if you use store bought jam.

Remove the baked tarts to a rack to cool.

Once cooled, store in an airight jar.

This recipe makes about 40 tarts.

INGREDIENTS for Pineapple Jam

300 gm store bought premium jam

1 tsp of cinnamon powder or less

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

1/2 cup to ¾ cup hot water

5 cloves

METHOD

Put all ingredients except the water in a pan to heat through till well combined. Add the water if it is too thick and  combine until you have the right ball forming consistency. If you like the taste, remove to cool and roll into 6 gm balls. Place in a tray and keep aside to be placed in each tart shell before baking.

 

Notes:

If the jam is too tangy, add soft brown sugar, a pinch of salt to counterbalance the taste.   This is only necessary if you are using store bought pineapple jam.

Alternatively you can prepare the jam by using fresh ripe pineapples. OR you can use canned pineapples.   Reduce the sugar as the canned pineapples are already very sweet, Coarsely pulse the pineapples ,add lime juice and salt , 1 tbsp of butter, cinnamon stick and cloves, cook it till it is jammy and cool to use it. Do it a few days earlier.

 

For this recipe, I took 8 gm of dough each which I rolled into a ball. Pressed my thumb into the centre and while holding, pinched it with the pinch maker all around  with my other hand.

I finished the whole process and placed them in a baking tray.

Then I placed 1 ball of pineapple jam, 6 gm each. Slowly patted the jam onto the tart base.

To make it pretty, I crinkle cut strips of thin dough or just roll strips and put a cross on each.

And some I used a mini star mould to cut the shape of a star to decorate each tart.

You may leave it out if it is too much work but then I love to do them.

For the dough, you may reduce the icing sugar or leave it out completely  if your jam is sweet enough.

It is very important to have everything cold, including the flour, butter, eggs etc.

The pastry is a short one, so it has to be cold.