Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Baby Food

This is my daughter.  Her name is Genevieve (aka Baby G).  She is 17 months old.  Sweet seventeen!

Now that we have gotten the formalities outta the way.  Let's get down to my very 1st post.  My daughter has been exploring and exposed to the world of solid foods for the past 9 months or so.  So far we have given her various fruits like bananas, apples, mangoes and recently, even durian! (she has to start somewhere!)  Rice, noodles, pasta, porridge, sausages, pork, fish, beef, chicken, corn, peas, carrot, potatoes, sweet potatoes, the list goes on.  Pretty much whatever my wife and i eat and drinks, she has sampled them.

So for today's post, i'm gonna focus on her daily staple food. Porridge.  My mother-in-law is her primary care-taker and cooks her daily porridge.  Her porridge has evolved over the months  as we discover Baby G's eating habits and preferences.  We had to be careful as infants/toddlers may have allergies that we still unaware of.  Both my wife and I don't have any allergies, but we still had to be careful when it comes to children.

So far we have cooked her porridge with anchovies, lean pork, carrot puree, cod fish, wolfberries, marmite etc.  We discover that Baby G is slightly allergic to dark soy sauce,  the area surrounding her lips tend to have patches of reddish rash, though it didn't appear to be itchy or causing her any discomfort, we were still concerned and have removed it from her diet.

I will just share with you what i usually cook when i'm on "duty" during weekends.

The following is NOT a standard recipe:

1 cup of rice

20g of pumpkin, diced
15g of wolfberries
30 grams of lean pork (today i'm using pork neck)
1 tbsp of chicken stock concentrate
1 tbsp of abalone stock

Cooked the rice first with at least 3 cups of water (same measuring cup as the rice) over low fire.  Normally i would use my induction cooker, but it broke down.  I find that the induction cooker cooks the rice more evenly as compare to the gas burner.  Using a gas burner tends to burn easier if you're not watching the pot.

Add in the pumpkin, and after 5 mins add in the wolfberries.  Stir the porridge occasionally to keep the heat evenly distributed.  Add in both the stock concentrate together and adjust the taste accordingly.  I do not add in salt nor pepper.  I do add in more water to gauge its consistency.

After 20 minutes, you should get a nice, starchy, risotto-like, consistency.  Add in the pork, stir for another 3 to 5 mins.  Turn off the heat and...Viola!

- posted by Lim

Pineapple Tarts

I know it is strange to be making pineapple tarts at this time of the year but hey, it doesn’t make sense to turn down good stuff! This pineapple tart recipe has been tested countless times. Everyone loves it! I hope you will try it out when you are free. It’s very simple to make. One thing I have to admit is I didn’t make my own pineapple filling. I did try once but it was just too much work for too little filling. Go buy Bake King’s pineapple paste. They work wonderfully. I think it cost $5 (more or less) for 400 or 500g of paste. One packet is enough to make 80 tarts. Throw in some TLC while doing this and you’ll never buy pineapple tarts from elsewhere!

Pineapple Tart Dough
(makes 40-50 tarts)
- 250g butter (unsalted or salted doesn’t seem to make much a difference), softened
- 170g Nestle UHT cream
Pineapple Tarts
- 75g caster sugar
- 400g plain flour
- 30g corn flour
- 50g cream cheese (I used Kraft Philadelphia), softened
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 egg for glazing

1. Sift plain flour and corn flour together.

2. Whisk (on medium speed) the cream, butter, cream cheese and sugar together till you get a creamy mixture.

3. Add the 3 egg yolks into the mixture. Mix. (egg whites can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. You can make pavlova! Or just make egg white omelette.)

4. Add in the sifted flour all at once. Using low speed, whisk till it becomes a smooth dough. It will feel oily and you will be wondering if the dough looks right. If some flour escaped, use your hands to gently combine the escaped flour and the dough. The dough will still not look right to you. I guarantee that. But go on to the next step. It’ll turn out ok!

5. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes or more. This is the magic step that will make the dough look and feel right. Hence, do not omit this step! However, you will not want the dough sit too long in the fridge and become too hard. It will be difficult to shape it.

6. Now is a good time to roll the pineapple paste into small balls. Depending on how big or small you want your tart to be, the pineapple paste balls should be 1/4 smaller. (You will not want too little paste or too little dough in a tart. Balance and your preferences are important.)

7. Shape the chilled dough into small balls. You may want to work on individual small batches and keep the rest in the fridge in case the dough gets warm (it won’t look right again!). Best if you do it with your family. Everyone gets the chance to make pineapple tarts!

8. Flatten the round dough in your palm. Wrap pineapple paste ball with the flatten dough and shape as you like.

9. Glaze with the tart with the egg wash.

10. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 20 mins in a oven. (please preheat the oven while shaping your tarts)

11. The tarts are done when they are yellowish brown. Leave them to cool before storing in containers.

Side notes:

1. This is a closed tart recipe. If you want to make an open faced tart, you need to roll out the dough after it has been chilled then work with the cookie cutter. Roll till you acquired your desired thickness, cut it, place the rolled pineapple paste on it. Viola! Glaze only the dough and not the pineapple paste.

2. These tarts can keep quite a long time. According to a colleague (he bought a lot from me) they remained edible even after 3 weeks. While his other store bought tarts were mouldy a week after Chinese New Year, mine were mould-free even without preservatives. But I don’t think your tarts will last so long. They will probably be gone in a week ;)

3. Now you are wondering what to do with the left over pineapple paste. You can wrap and eat with bread. You can buy some frozen puff pastries and make Danish with pineapple paste filling. If you have other brilliant ways to use up the paste, please let me know!

- Shared by Teh 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Adventures with Ang gu kueh

2 weekends ago, I came across an “Ang gu kueh” recipe and decided to try it. I used the Japanese type of sweet potatoes (purple skin, yellow flesh). I did not use any coloring and hence my Ang gu kueh is more “Ng gu kueh”, yellowish in color. Surprisingly on my first attempt, the skin came out very soft (remained soft while covered for 3 days) and tasted like those sold outside. I was impressed with myself and this recipe. The only thing I wished for was for it to be more fragrant. On my 2nd attempt, I decided to add coconut milk (instead of only water) to the kueh hoping it will taste like Bangawang Solo’s. It was a big mistake. Despite substituting 80% of the water with coconut milk, the coconut fragrance was not distinct. The skin was not as soft and it became hard very soon (like when its cold!).

Please see below for 2 pictures, sans photoshop. The 1st picture was from my first attempt, without mould. 2nd picture was from my second attempt, with an agar agar ang gu kueh mould.

1st attempt without mould

2nd attempt with mould

Hope you’ll try this easy recipe and let us know how your’s turned out!

Ang Gu Kueh

Ingredients: 22 small kuehs
Sweet Potato Skin:
260 g sweet potatoes 
300 g glutinous rice flour
2 tbsps oil
200 ml water (or slightly more. How to know if you used enough water? When in doubt, add more.)
Some red coloring (optional) (I did not use any)

Mung Bean Filling (for 22 kuehs):
200g yellow split mung beans (soaked until soft) (the one used to make “tao suan”)
80g castor sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tbsps oil


Ground Peanut Filing (for 22 kuehs):
200g of salted grounded peanuts
80g of sugar


Sweet Potato Skin:
Steam the sweet potatoes until soft. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork. I also sieved it on my 1st attempt to obtain a smooth paste. On my 2nd attempt, i put it into a food mixer and blended it. Saved the hassle of mashing it. I also sieved it just to be sure its smooth. Add glutinous rice flour, oil and water and mix well to obtain a smooth dough. Cover with a damp cloth and leave aside.

Mung Bean Filling:
Steam the yellow split mung beans until soft. Add in the sugar and mash with a fork. Mix salt,oil and enough water to form a soft dough. Shape into small balls. 

Ground Peanut Filling:
Ground any type of salted peanut you like. Mix in the sugar. Add water till it forms can be shaped into small balls. (doesn’t take much water)

Shaping the Ang gu kueh:
1. Brush the ang gu kueh mould with oil to ease removal of the kueh from the mould. (I used free hand to shape the kueh on my first attempt)
2. Take some dough, roll it, flatten it into a round shape
3. Take a mung bean or peanut ball and fill into the dough, seal it and roll it into a ball.
4. Press the ball into the mould firmly, to obtain the design and shape of the mould. Tap the mould gently on the table to remove the ang gu kueh from the mould. (If you are not using a mould, just shape it into a ball and gentle press it down in your palm to resemble an Ang gu kueh shape)
5. Place the ang gu kueh on a piece of oiled banana leaf slightly bigger than the kueh. Spread some oil all around the kueh.
6. S
team on high steam if you are not using the mould to shape the kueh. The skin will appear slightly translucent. If its soft when you poke it with something (I used the spoon), It’s done. I steamed it for 10 minutes just to be sure. 
7. Upon some research, I realized for moulded kuehs, you need to steam for 3 mins, open the cover to release the steam, then cover it again for 3 mins. This releasing of steam is to ensure the kueh doesn’t cook too fast. If the kueh expands too fast from the steam, it will lose some of the mould distinction. However, when I steamed the moulded kueh, I used medium heat. I did not open and close the steamer to release steam. Moulded kueh looks fine!

1. I used about 30g pastry and 20g filling. 
2. Do not put the kueh too close to one another as they will expand when your steam them. If they stick together, gently separate them immediately after steaming. Yes, this happened to me!
3. Please add enough water to the mung bean dough before you try to shape it. Do not compress it too hard while shaping into a ball. If you press too hard, it will become very compact and hard when you bite into the kueh. Yes that was what happened to me too. Don’t do it.
4. I feel the peanut filling is easier to make and more hassle free. Plus, I prefer peanut to mung bean. But making mung bean paste from scratch gives one a sense of satisfaction. Try both filling!

If you are adventurous, create your own version of Ang gu kueh. 

That’s what I plan to do next.

Shared by Teh.