Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Onde Onde

Onde onde is a malay kueh, commonly found sold in little stalls set up by makciks along the road. Traditional onde onde is filled with melted gula melaka (palm sugar) and it has its unique character from the freshly grated coconut coating and pandan flavouring. They are relatively simple to make; but, I think I need more practice with local desserts. They tend to require the 'estimation skills' in its making and cooking. I really marvel at those makciks who don't even use a proper measuring utensil to measure! They seemed to know how much to put in this and that with their trusty ladle and everything turns out perfectly!

Ok... the recipe is from an old local magazine; it is good. I didn't use any food colouring; they look like a bunch of growing white moss. There were a few casualties. They kept bursting/leak even before I cook them. Mum said they looked like dinosaur eggs and this was due to the cracks on them. She said I worked too slow and the dough had dried, making the gula melaka seep out.
If I were to make this again, I would add in green colouring, cover the dough with damp cloth to avoid drying and boil them over low heat... and be patient.

Onde Onde
8-10 pandan leaves (screw pine leaves), cut into 3cm lengths
300g glutinous rice flour, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
200-250ml boiling water
2-3 drops green colouring
150g gula melaka, coarsely chopped
1/2 grated coconut, mixed with a pinch of salt

Pound pandan leaves into a coarse pulp. Squeeze through a strainer to get 2 tbsps thick pandan juice. Set aside.
Mix glutinous rice flour and the 1/4 tsp salt in a large bowl.
Combine 200ml boiling water, pandan juice and green colouring. Pour into glutinous rice flour mixture, mix well, forming a smooth soft dough. If the dough is too dry, add the remaining 50ml water, 1/2 tsp at a time. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle glutinous rice flour over.
Divide the dough into small balls, flatten each and place 1/2 tsp chopped gula melaka in the center. Wrap, pinch the sides to seal and roll to form a ball again.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Drop onde onde into boiling water. The balls will float when cooked. Leave to boil for another 2 minutes.
Scoop up onde onde with perforated ladle, drain and roll in the grated coconut. Remove and serve.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nga Ku Chips

Commonly known to Malaysians as 'nga ku' (not sure which Chinese dialect), they are actually tubers of Arrowroot, and are usually found sold in bulks at the wet market before the Chinese New Year festival. I love these when sliced thinly and fried, just like potato chips, but never knew how to actually fry them without getting clumps of salt, wasting my effort and the nga ku. Someone had to teach me, and I finally met my saviour.

I met Wai Loon, his mum and Jin Ching at Tesco recently with a bag worth of 1kg nga ku in his hands. After the usual "Hi", "How are you" and stuffs, my curiousity brought me to ask him. Suprisingly, he knows my problem and it was a dead simple solution! The trick? Simply put the salt into the oil and not sprinkle it over when cooked! Haha... I decided to give it a go with my mum, bought approximately 300g worth and the results? Splendid! No clumps of salt, extremely crispy and perfectly cooked! Just what I've been looking for! Before the chips could be cooled and stored, more than half were already in our stomachs! =P

You might see me again at Tesco... this time, with more than 1kg worth of nga kus. Lols!~ Thanks a lot for teaching me! ^_^

Nga Ku Chips
300g arrowroot tubers
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Clean and peel the arrowroot, remove any shoots. Slice the arrowroot thinly, about 1mm thick.
Heat oil in a wok, stir in the salt. Make sure the oil is hot enough before frying. Simply place a clean chopstick into the oil, if tiny bubbles form around the chopstick, it is ready.
Fry the arrowroot slices, little at a time until the center starts to brown. Remove immediately. Drain, cool and store in an airtight container.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Chocolate Doodles

Finally, exams are over! Momentary sayonara to torture! It has been a hectic semester. I'm free of stress now and don't want to worry until my results are out.

With much time on hand and bits of leftover chocolates in the fridge, I decided to temper them and doodle my heart out. I may be good with paint brushes, pencils, crayons and such... but NOT with melted warm chocolates! It's easier to just devour them. Lolz... =P

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Macha Aisu Kurimu

Come again? Macha ice cream, more commonly known as green tea ice cream. It is a Japanese ice cream flavour which is extremely popular in Japan and growing world wide. It is green in colour and many who don’t know or have not tried usually will avoid it at first glance. Macha is a type of powdered green tea that is traditionally used in the Japanese tea ceremony. It is valued for it's rich supply of antioxidants and green tea benefits. Macha alone has a refreshing grassy
scent and taste. And how much more refreshing can it be when it comes in a not too sweet, creamy-frozen package? It satisfies your sweet tooth and doubles up as an antioxidant supplement. To gain more benefit, make it your own as you're able to control its sugar level.
This ice cream is very creamy and not overly sweet. The trick to this recipe is to use the best quality macha and cream that you can find. It really does make a difference to the taste and texture of the ice cream.

Psst...! It saves up tonnes of time and energy if you own an ice cream maker. However if you
don't own one like I do, whisk it by hand for every 2 hours and lose more calories before indulging.

Macha Ice Cream
2 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp macha
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan, combine macha, milk and sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly and cook for about 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks with a little hot milk mixture. Gradually whisk all the milk mixture into the eggs.
Return all to saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture thickens. You will just start to see steam coming off the mixture. Do not boil.
Strain mixture into a bowl and cool over an ice water bath.
In another bowl, whisk cream and fold into cooled milk mixture. Whisk till well mixed.
Pour into a container and freeze. After 2 hours, remove container from freezer and whisk mixture for 2 minutes. Return whisked mixture to the freezer. Repeat this freeze-and-stir technique for 2 times.
Allow ice cream to freeze completely or to the consistency you prefer.

Note: Some macha brands yeild stronger macha taste than others. Estimate your macha quantity by its quality. Too much strong tasting macha will produce bitter ice cream.

Monday, January 8, 2007

3 Toned Mocha Cookies

If you love chocolate and coffee like I do, you'll definately love these. These mocha cookies have a rich, crisp texture filled with the aroma of coffee and chocolaty flavour.

I didn't have much trouble with this except for slicing of the dough. I'm not good with knifes, the warm dough is soft and this didn't help much on a hot humid day! Though the recipe calls for short refrigeration, I froze the dough for about 4 hours which made it much easier for me to handle. I had to refrigerate the dough every time, after I sliced and baked a batch. The dough tends to get 'sweaty' rather quickly. The next time I make this, I'll do it on a cool day and weigh my dough proportions equally to get an even design.

The dough can be made in advance, refrigerated, or frozen for several weeks and sliced at any time. It may be rather tough to know when the cookies are actually cooked due to the dark tones. To test, simply push the cookie gently, and if it can be moved on the tray without breaking or sticking, it is cooked. Impressive and delicious, I will definately make these yummies again!

3 Toned Mocha Cookies

2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp rice flour
1/3 cup icing sugar
250g butter - chopped

Coffee Layer:
1 tsp dry instant coffee
1 tsp hot water
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp plain flour

Chocolate Layer:
1/4 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp chocolate milk

Line 8cm*26cm bar pan with parchement paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sifted icing sugar until light. Gradually add sifted plain and rice flours, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, knead until smooth. Divide dough equally into 3 portions. Press 1 portion evenly over base of prepared pan.

Coffee Layer: Whisk coffee in hot water. Let it cool. Knead coffee mixture into 1 portion of dough with sifted icing sugar and flour. Knead until smooth. Press coffee layer evenly over plain dough layer.
Chocolate Layer: Knead sifted cocoa and icing sugar into remaining portion of dough with chocolate milk. Knead dough until smooth. Top coffee layer with chocolate dough evenly.

Cover the pan with cling touching the surface of dough. Refrigerate for 40 minutes or more until firm. Remove dough from pan, peeling away paper.
Cut dough into thin slices, approximately 5mm. Place about 3cm apart on lined oven trays. If dough is too soft to handle, refrigerate till firm whenever necessary. Bake 180°C/350°F for about 15 minutes or until lightly coloured/moveable.
Cool cookies on wire racks. Store cookies in an airtight container for about 3 days.
Makes about 50 cookies.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Zaru Soba

Most Japanese dishes alone tend to be fairly blend in taste, made from soy and hardly contain traces of oil, which I think it is good for health. They are usually accompanied by the famous devilish wasabi and dipping sauces. Take soba noodles for example. Traditional soba noodles are made from a mixture of buckwheat and wheat flour, though now there is a variety of soba noodles. Some are flavoured with ocha (green tea) and the latest craze is of charcoal based. You saw that right. I had charcoal soba on New Year's Eve. As I know the black coal soba is a lil pricier than the rest and is said to have healing properties. It tasted relatively alike with buckwheat soba, slimier and does not have the after taste effect. Price wise, I'll opt for buckwheat/ocha.

Mori soba is the most basic preparation of the soba noodles. Mori soba's noodles are boiled, served cold on the bamboo sieve/mat and eaten with a soya based dipping sauce (tsuyu) and condiments such as raw quail eggs and spring onions. Whereas zaru soba is actually mori soba that is served with momi nori (shredded seaweed). Confusing? Well, I hope I got that right as well. Lolz... Anyway, zaru literaly means bamboo sieve on which the soba noodles are being served. I might note that my photo shows only soba on a plate as I don't have any bamboo seive on hand. Nevertheless, the method of preparing and serving the dish is still zaru soba; though without the actual 'zaru'.

You may use any variety of soba that you prefer. I used soba (buckwheat). As for the dipping sauce, you can either prepare it from scratch or purchase soba-tsuyu from any Japanese store. Just make sure that the tsuyu is of the 'ready-to-eat' type. If you are up to making it from scratch, dashi stock is made from bonito flakes and mirin is sweet rice wine. These can be bought too, though I will say that buying a premade tsuyu saves lots of time. Oh, if you want to have raw quail eggs in your tsuyu, just make sure the eggs are really really really fresh. You wouldn't want to end up having food poisoning. Just break the egg into the tsuyu, stir in the condiments and dip soba into the mixture.


Soba Tsuyu
1/2 cup Soya sauce
2 cups Dashi stock
3 tbsp Mirin

Mix all in a saucepan and bring to boil.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Zaru Soba
200 g Soba
2 litres Water
Large bowl of iced water
Soba tsuyu
Momi nori (shredded unflavoured seaweed)
Spring onion - finely chopped
Roasted seaseme seads
2 Fresh quail eggs (optional)
Wasabi (optional)

Boil water in a large pot.
Place soba in boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes or as instructed on the package. Remove cooked soba and rinse in iced water.
Drain and place soba on a plate lined with a bamboo sieve/mat. Sprinkle momi nori on soba.
Pour cold tsuyu in a small bowl.
In a small dish, place a little spring onions, seaseme seeds, quail eggs and wasabi.
Serve soba with tsuyu and condiments.
Serves 1-2 depending on stomach capacity.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Savory Cheese Crackers

A big fat exam that's just the corner doesn't really bring much joy to a brand new year. Quite a stressful holiday I must say. Being stressed out is bad for the waistline. I tend to reach for something to nibble on while studying. Munching and slurping away while reading, writing, listening to music and singing along? Multi tasking or just plain no concentration? Haha...

I had this beside me while I'm with my books today. What's that white thing? Tofu drenched in chilli sauce? And crackers??
Guess guess....

It's cheese with chilli sauce! =P Weird concoction huh? Many have been fooled by this. *grins*

The chilli sauce I used was store bought. You can make your own chilli sauce too with this recipe from Chilli World. A warning though... these cheese crackers do make you crave for more. With the slight hint of salt in the crackers and a dollop of soft creamy cheese are very comforting especially when you're stressed out. Moreover, the tinge of sweet, sour and the fresh sent of parsely accompanied with slight 'spicy-ness' in every bite... Ummmh! It's a great dish to munch on as a snack or served as an appetizer.

p.s: Happy New Year!

Savory Cheese Crackers

A pack of you favorite plain cheese crackers
Cream cheese - soften
Thai sweet chilli sauce
Coriander - roughly chopped

Cut a small slab of cream cheese and place it in a bowl. Pour chilli sauce over the slab of cream cheese. Garnish with coriander and serve on crackers.
Simply spread chilli cheese mixture and parsely on crackers. Just like you would to peanut butter on a slice bread.