Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Soft Chocolate Cookies / Schokoladenkekse

This cookies are soft and my kids love them!  They can be a big hit on your next school bake sale.  Swap in different cookie cutters as you wish and adjust the baking time according to the size and thickness.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
110g semisweet chocolate, chopped
55g butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
extra 100g semisweet chocolate for topping, chopped
Sugar deco or nuts

To prepare:
1.  Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
2.  Place chocolate, butter, sugar in another bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Stir frequently and remove from heat when it's almost completely melted.  Then stir until completely melted before let cool slightly.
3.  Add egg to the chocolate mixture.  Beat until well blend with a mixer on low.  Gradually stir in flour mixture to form a ball like dough.
4.  Divide dough in half, wrap each dough with plastic wrap and press them flat.  Freeze for about 20 minutes.
5.  Preheat oven to 170C.  Working with one half at a time.  Roll the dough between two sheets of baking sheet to 4mm thickness.  Cut out cookies (I used a 7 x 4cm cookie cutter and make 30 cookies).  Bake for about 8 - 10 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.
6.  For topping, melt the extra chocolate and brush on cooled cookies and sprinkle with  sugar deco or nuts.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Orange Marmalade bread and butter Pudding / Brotpudding

Have you ever experienced having toast sitting in the kitchen for a while and no one eats them?  Maybe it's not a bad idea to use them for bread and butter pudding!  This dessert recipe uses toast cut into triangles, reduced fat milk and cream.  The result?  A beautiful crispy edges and soft puffy custard like middle....

8 slices white/brown toast, crusts removed
300ml low fat milk
250ml low fat cream
50g butter, soften
4 tbsp orange marmalade plus 4 tsp
8 tbsp caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp whisky (optional)
1/2 tbsp finely grated orange zest
a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tbsp powder sugar
Serves 4

To prepare:
1.  Butter each piece of bread on both sides.  Then spread 4 pieces with 1 tbsp of marmalade each.  Arrange the bread to make 4 marmalade sandwiches and cut them into triangles.  Place them in rows in a large baking dish.
2.  Heat the oven to 160C.
3.  Whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla essence, whisky, sugar and ground nutmeg.  Pour over the bread gently.  Leave to soak for about 30 minutes.
4.  Dot the remaining marmalade all over the top of the pud, sprinkle the orange zest and dust with powder sugar.
5.  Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until the pudding is puffy and caramelized on top.
6.  Serve hot or warm plain or dusted with powder sugar.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Salmon Fillets with Mango Salad and Basil / Lachs mit Mango-Salat

If you like fruits and would like to add them in your meal, this salmon with mango salad will satisfy you.  This is a healthy dish too!

1 cup (60g) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil plus 1/2 tablespoon
1/2 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 pieces salmon fillets (about 200g each)
mixed green salad (I used just corn salad)
lemon wedges
Serves 2 

To prepare: 
1.  Place all except two basil leaves in the food processor and process until very finely chopped.  Or chop them manually.  Add chopped basil to olive oil.
2.  Combine mango, cucumber and tomato in a bowl and stir in lemon juice.  Add half of the basil oil, season with salt and pepper to taste.
3.  Press a basil leaf on top of each salmon fillet.  Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Cook the fillets top side first for 3-4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Turn and cook the other side.
4.  Lay each fillet on bed of green salad.  Top with mango salad and drizzle with remaining basil oil.  Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Biryani Rice With Chicken and Cucumber Raita

This is a Biryani rice made simple and yet has the wonderful taste and aroma from all the spices.  The whole family love it and it's an easy recipe for beginners out there.  I didn't cook the curry chicken from scratch.  I marinated the chicken overnight with my favourite curry paste bought from the Asian shop and roasted it.  I served the biryani chicken with cucumber raita and stir fried broccoli/carrot.

for the rice:
3 tbsp ghee (I used butter)
2 sticks cinnamon
5 green cardamons
2 star anise
1 bay leaf
500g (2 1/4 cups) basmati rice, washed and drained
100ml (1/2 cup) yogurt
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 litre (4 cups) water or chicken stock
some yellow food colouring
some cashew nuts for garnish (fried or roasted)
some raisins for garnish

for the chicken:
1kg chicken (I used 4 whole legs) skinned
1 package of curry spice paste (as shown)
1 tbsp cooking oil

Serves 4

To prepare:
1.  Marinate the chicken with the spice paste and the cooking oil in a plastic bag for 4 hours or overnight.  Roast it in the oven at 200 degree C for about 20 minutes or until the juice runs clear.
2.  To prepare the rice, heat the ghee over medium heat and fry the cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, star anise and bay leaf until aromatic.  Add rice and mix well until every grain is coated with ghee.  Remove from heat.
3.  Cook rice toghether with the rest of the ingredients in a rice cooker or a pot.
4.  When the rice is done, remove whole spices and fluff up rice.  Garnish with cashew nuts and raisin.



                                                             Cucumber Raita

1 cucumber, peeled, finely chopped
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
salt and pepper to taste
paprika powder to garnish

To prepare:
1.  Fry the cumin in a dry pan for a minute until fragrant. 
2.  Mix the yogurt, cucumber, ground cumin, ginger together.  season with salt and pepper.
3.  Garnish with some paprika powder.  Serve chilled.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Easy Apple Strudel / Apfelstrudel

Here's an easy version Apple Strudel using puff pastry.   I find puff pastry sheets are fun to work with and give nice finishing looks.  Also I can get them in almost every supermarket and that makes baking with puff pastry a lot easier and time saving.  I've omitted the raisins and use dry cranberries in this recipe.  For a beautiful finishing touch, dust some sugar powder on top.

1 puff pastry sheet (I use REWE 275g pastry sheet which is 25x42cm)
3 apples, peeled, cored and cut in small cubes
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dry cranberries
1 egg mix with 1/4 cup milk for egg wash 

To prepare:
1.  Preheat oven to  200C.  Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
2.  Place the puff pastry sheet on a working surface dusted with flour.  Cut two pieces (25x8cm) as the base and two pieces (25x13cm) as the top.  For the top portion, fold the pastry in half lengthwise.  Using a sharp knife, make some cuts on the folded edge at 2cm intervals.
3.  To make the filling, place apple, water, 1 tbsp sugar in a saucepan and cook for 5 minutes.  Drain the liquid and set aside to cool.  Add in ground cinnamon, 3 tbsp of sugar and dry cranberries and mix well. 
4.  Lay the base pastry sheet on the baking sheet.  Place the filling at the centre leaving about 2cm on both sides.
5.  Lay the slitted pastry sheet over the filling and cover the filling completely.  Press the sides with a fork.  Repeat the steps with the remain pastry sheets.  Egg wash the top.

6.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom rack of the oven.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine's Day and Fasching

This photo shown on the left are little heart shape bath oil from me to Andrew and Angelica on Valentine's day.

I must mention that the florists here do not double or triple the prices of flowers or roses on this day.  I wonder how much does a rose cost nowadays in Malaysia on a Valentine's day?  RM5?  RM15? or RM30? 

My daughter, Angelica drew me some wonderful drawings for Valentine.  So many that I could just pick up one small piece of paper on the floor, to open and find her lovely drawings for me.  :-)   Of all her drawings, or messages, the one I love most is this :

She explained to me that the double lines are "plus".  So Angelica + Tina + Love.  How very sweet of my little princess!  I was so touched by this!

We didn't plan to eat out on this Valentine's day, and these were what I'd prepared  :

Roast chicken with sides, long beans wrapped with bacon, and roast pumpkin.  Served with mashed potato and gravy.

Dessert was this ice cream pudding.  That was my first attempt and was not so happy with the result.  I couldn't find chocolate roll at the supermarket, so I had chosen the marble cake instead.  It would look a lot prettier if it was all chocolate colour on the outer layer.

Inside was Vanilla ice cream with chopped pistachios and strawberries.  Do you see now why the outer layer should be in dark brown?
I will try making this pudding again with my own chocolate cake recipe for the outer layer.  And will post the recipe once I get it right!  :-)

More dessert?  Yes, strawberries dip with chocolate!  Delicious!

Next is about Fasching.  Fasching means carnival.  Angelica had her Fasching at the kindergarten today.  Everyone dressed up with costumes.  I had been busy making her coustume and had no time to blog.  Now I can relax, have a cup of coffee with my fresh baked Apple Strudel (recipe soon) while writing this post.  :-)  This year's Rosenmontag falls on 20.02.2012.  You can click on the words to learn more about the festival.   
The theme for this Fasching was "Winterwunderland" and Angelica wanted to be a penguin.  I couldnt find the right costume for her so I transformed her bat costume into a penguin and I did it. 
Though most of the parents didn't follow the teachers' Fasching theme (oops), the children had a good time playing games, eating some special prepared party foods and popping the ballons.  And I have one more costume to make....... luckily it's an easy one, a Ninja!

Friday, February 10, 2012

German Cheesecake / Käsekuchen

This yummy, creamy German Cheesecake melts in your mouth!  The filling is made with quark, a type of German cream cheese.  It is not too sweet and has a wonderful lemon flavour.  It's not easy to find quark, especially outside of Europe.  To substitute, use low fat cottage cheese.  Blend the cottage cheese in a food processor with some milk until creamy and smooth.  You'll need a 9 ins. spring form to make this cake.

The crust is soft and easy to make.  This cake is best when it's chill over night.  Once you've tried it you will make it again, and again.....

85g butter, soften
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder

500g low fat quark
2 egg yolk
1 egg
3 tbsp melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 package vanilla sugar (about 2 tsp)
1 cup milk
1 package vanilla pudding mix (37g)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

To prepare:
1. Preheat the oven to 175C
2. For crust, mix the butter and sugar until smooth.  Mix in 1 egg and follow by baking powder and flour.  Knead together until it form a dough.
3. place the dough on the spring form in batches.  Then using fingers, press them evenly cover the bottom and the sides of the spring form.
4. For filling, mix together quark, melted butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and the pudding mix in a large bowl until smooth.
5. Blend in egg yolk, egg, milk and lemon juice and mix well.
6. Pour the filling into the pan.  After knowing the level of the filling in the form, trim the dough at the sides evenly.  It is OK if the filling is a little bit over the dough.

7. Bake in the middle rack for about an hour or until the filling no longer move when shake gently.
8. After baking for about 40 minutes, the filling will rise.  Don't worry, this is normal and it will fall when cooling down.
9. And finally leave the cake in the oven for 10 minutes after turning the oven off.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cottage Pie

It's been a long time since I'd last made a cottage pie, perhaps 4 or 5 years ago.  I've forgotten about this dish until I browsed through my recipe books.  This pie is easy to make, and I like mine with more vegetables. 

1 cup carrot, finely diced
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 large red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup green peas
500g minced beef, lean meat if possible
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp Knorr beef bouillon powder
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp cooking oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese powder
some fresh parsley, finely chopped

For the topping:
10 small floury potatoes, peeled and quartered
50g butter
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4 - 6

To prepare:

1.  Heat the cooking oil in a large pan and cook the onion in medium heat for about 5 minutes or turn brown.  Add the minced beef and garlic ,stir for 3 minutes to brown.  Follow by the carrots and celery and stir for another 3 minutes.
2.  Add the water, beef bouillon powder, tomatoes, tomato paste, green peas and parsley.
3.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce is almost completely absorb, season with salt and pepper.
4.  Preheat the oven to 190C
5.  To prepare the topping, boil the potatoes until soft.
6.  Drain and mash with the butter and milk, season with salt and pepper. 
7.  Spoon the meat into an ovenproof dish.

8.  Then top with the mash potato.
9.  Use a fork to scratch some lines on the mash and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese powder evenly on top.

10. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

YuanXiao Festival / Chinesisches Laternenfest

Yesterday was the Lantern Festival or YuanXiao Festival.  We also called it Chap Goh Meh in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.  It is a festival celebrated on the 15th day of the first month in the lunisolar year in the Chinese Calendar.  This 15th day, also mark the end of the new year celebration.

My husband George was away in Poland.  I wanted to cook some food to celebrate this day and didn't want to celebrate with just my two kids.  So I invited my friends, a Vietnamese couple to come over for dinner.  I'd recently learnt that the Vietnamese and the Chinese have quite a few things in common.  For example, red is the lucky colour,  they celebrate lunar new year, and they also believe that the year of the Dragon is a good year to have a baby boy!

I wanted to post some photos of the foods I'd prepared.  Nothing special, they're just some simple Chinese foods.

The apertiser, with deep fried wontons, seafood rolls and crab claws.

Bak Zam Gai served with chilli, ginger, garlic, soy sauce.

The children's favourite oven baked chicken wings.

Stir fried celery, black fungus and pork belly.

Shrimps with ginger, spring onions and Chinese wine.  These shrimps are not bad, will definitely buy the same brand in the future.

And finally, the Yuanxiao, Yuanxiao is a glutinous rice ball.  Also called Tang Yuan.  Tang Yuan has a long history in China.  The Chinese believe eating Yuanxiao will give them good life.

I'm glad that I'd invited Lyly and Trong over for dinner.  They were great companies and we had some good laugh speaking our broken German.  :-)