Friday, 31 December 2010

Christmas: Part 3

As you can probably tell, I have had no time to update the blog in between the last entry and now. I apologise. It's just that the broadband connection sucks at home and I have moved to a new department at work. I've been pretty busy... busy enough to make my head spin. My new job requires me to wear a protective reflector jacket and safety boots... but that's another post all together.

Christmas 2010 is over and all I have here to share with you is this. A lovely recipe for roast chicken which I got from my darling Jamie. It's a simple roast that tastes delicious time and time again. This was Christmas dinner.

Christmas Dinner 2010

Click on the link for the recipe and give it a go. It's been my go-to recipe for roast chicken for some time now. It never fails to please... and don't leave out the bacon on the top... my brothers are convinced it's the best part!

Cheers and a very Happy & Blessed New Year to all!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Christmas: Part 2

Remember the fish cutlets I was talking about from Christmas: Part 1? Well, here's the recipe. It's a lot of work, but really worth the effort. These don't appear very often on our family dinner menus, but when it does it is a prized commodity.

Patti's Fish Cutlets

Preparation A
2 large slices of tenggiri fish
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Rub fish with salt and turmeric.
Place in a shallow pan with water coming up to half the height of the fish slices. Cook covered for about 10 minutes on medium heat until cooked through.
If yes, remove from stove and let it cool.
Once completely cooled, remove the bones and skin. Mash flesh with fork till fine.
Check salt.

Preparation B
2 medium potatoes
Boil till very soft.
Peel, cool and mash.

Preparation C
1 medium red onion
1 fresh red chilli
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 small clove garlic
Chop and sauté till fragrant.

Preparation D
1/4 teaspoon cumin (jeera) seeds
1 teaspoon anise (saunf) seeds
Dry roast in pan till fragrant.
Crush with mortar & pestle till fine powder.

1 egg
Lightly beaten.

Mix fish with potatoes until thoroughly incorporated.
Add in ingredients from B and D. Mix well.
Add in egg bit by bit until you get a firmish mixture. Stop adding the egg once the mixture can be rolled into balls without breaking or sticking to the palms of your hands.
Check salt.
Roll into balls and fry until golden in batches.
Drain on paper towels and serve.
For MEAT cutlets:
Use minced beef or pork. No need to pre-cook the meat.
Omit the turmeric.
Add in 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped ginger in B.
Add in some finely chopped cashewnuts in Assembly.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Christmas: Part 1

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... even here in the tropics. Despite the lack of snow, warm clothes and raging fires, the departmental stores are in full-swing with plastic trees, fake snow and bling baubles.

Christmas is a very nostalgic time for our family, so I'd like to take this time to tell you a little about my Christmases past and present. I'm writing this in installments, as there are a lot of memories to put down. Look out for recipes at the end of some of the installments. Happy reading!

There is something very comforting about gathering once a year with family near and far. It reminds me of a long-gone era. A time when life was simpler and money was tight. When luxury was a word that came and went with Christmas every year leaving a long period of frugality from January to November until December next.

Christmas meant a long trek to my grandparents home in Taiping, a damp, sleepy hollow of a town where time seems to stand still even now. There was no such thing as the NKVE (North Klang Valley Expressway) then. Everyone travelled up north via the snaking 'trunk' road built by the colonial rajahs during the time Malaya was a British colony. (On good days, no one got sick from the winding journey. On bad days... oh oh.)

All my maternal cousins would gather in Taiping. It was our 'balik kampung' and annual get-together. We would run round the new village house playing Police & Thieves, 'masak-masak' with an old iron cooking set and played board games like Snakes & Ladders, Ludo, etc. We ate rambutans from the red-ant infested trees in the compound, drove the maids up the wall (but they loved  us anyway, hehehehe) and ate all the delicious morsels of food our patti (grandmother) used to cook.

Some of the dishes included fish cutlets, black pepper beef, crab curry, prawns and potato fry, sura meen puttu, dosas, idlis, dhall curry, fish curry with ladies' fingers and many other delights.

Christmas presents were wrapped late at night by the adults, long after the children had gone to bed. Okay, okay... so I wasn't an angel then. I remember sneaking out of bed, listening at the closed door of the bedroom to the murmur of adult voices catching up with each other... and finally when curiosity just couldn't keep me away anymore, exposing myself to the adults and getting a scolding for being out of bed so late. I would pester them to let me see my presents. (I did say I wasn't angel didn't I?) My youngest Aunt always gave in. 

The night of Christmas eve was spent in church. I remember being very scared every time I was told to sit at the end of the pew closest to the doors on the side of the church. Why? This church is OLD. It is also surrounded by a graveyard. There was no air-conditioning then, so during the Christmas church service at midnight the doors along the sides would stand open. Wide open. Looking out of them meant looking out on nothing, because everything was pitch black... except that you KNEW there was a graveyard outside. Yikes! 

To be continued.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Girls Night In

And so we had our second Girls Night In last Saturday. It was fun! We talked about a lot of things and ATE a lot of things as well.

The menu consisted of Chicken Curry, Tandoori Chicken, Fish Cutlets, Carrots, Rice, some Vegetable Crackers plus Indian Sweets and Watalappan for dessert. The drink of the night was Lychee liquer and tinned lychees mixed together with ice.  

Here are some pictures of the dishes... none of the dessert though as I completely forgot about picture taking after all that food!

Tandoori Chicken

Fish Cutlets

Cari Belanda/Dutch Chicken Curry


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Sunday, 10 October 2010

Cuzinhia Cristang: Kuih Tat

Delicious beauties

Yes, I made them. After some prompting from SIL. How did they taste? I think I just made my best tarts ever! My friend Mrs. P who was the beneficiary of these beauties said she loved the pastry best, while daughter Miss P liked the jam. All in all I'm a happy tart-maker!

P.S. Of course, some of these beauties went into my stomach, and that way it was kept happy while they lasted.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Cuzinhia Cristang: Ambiler Kachang & Bendi Pas'agu

So... then I tried out what I taught were the simplest recipes in the book Cuzinhia Cristang: The Malacca-Portuguese Cookbook by Celine J. Marbeck, which I've mentioned in an earlier post. Were they really simple you may ask... well... I thought so. It took me just over an hour to prepare and cook the dishes, along with rice.

Ambiler Kachang

Bendi Pas'agu

This is the first time I've made and eaten a sambal belachan anything, and that's exactly what you see in the picture of the Bendi Pas'agu - a sambal belachan variation with dried prawns. It was lovely, lovely, lovely and SO spicy. I had a tummy ache later from eating too much and not being used to so much chilli. Still, I was a happy girl. This is best eaten on the same day it is made.

The Ambiler Kachang however, was totally scrumptious after a night's rest. Really. I enjoyed just that and rice for a simple week day dinner on the day after.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Cuzinhia Cristang: Soldadu Chocolat

I finally got my copy of Cuzinhia Cristang: A Malacca-Portuguese Cookbook by Celine J. Marbeck after hunting it down for almost 6 months. I bought the second-last copy from MPH in Mid Valley just a couple of days ago.

It’s a beautiful book. What I most cherish about it is that you get a history lesson about the Cristang people before going on to the recipes. A lot of thought and effort has been made to help you understand the reason behind the cuisine and its evolution over time. I personally, have come to appreciate the Cristang people, their unique culture and wonderful cuisine even more now.

I will be cooking my way through this book, slowly but surely. So do lend me your support (Mark… do you hear me?) in hope that I will eventually become an adept Cristang-wannabe cook. J

What did I try from the book so far? The Soldadu Chocolat. I didn’t follow the recipe to a ‘t’. I didn’t have rum, couldn’t be bothered to measure out the ingredients and thought I was very clever by not making a cup of coffee before pouring it into the chocolate. I simply put a spoonful of instant coffee granules into the chocolate. I also didn’t have almonds, so I had mine with some salted cashews on the side.

The result? A knock-your-socks-off dessert in a cup. Totally yum and perfect after a spicy, heavy dinner. (Yes, it would have been doubly-excellent with some rum!)

Milk chocolate
Chocolate and milk
Coffee, coffee, coffee
Coming to a boil

Soldadu Chocolat
Adapted from Cuzinhia Cristang: A Malacca-Portuguese Cookbook by Celine J. Marbeck

Milk chocolate
Full-cream milk
Instant coffee granules
A pinch or two of light brown sugar
  1. Put the chocolate into a small heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Pour in just enough milk.
  3. Put the saucepan on the stove over low heat.
  4. Let the chocolate melt and stir to mix it together with the milk.
  5. Once you get chocolate milk, stir in the coffee and sugar.
  6. Stir to dissolve.
  7. When the mixture just comes to a boil, remove from the stove.
  8. Pour into a tea cup and serve immediately with some salted cashews.
Note: It is a good idea to make a cup of hot, strong coffee first to pour into the chocolate milk in Step 5. I didn't and what I got was a really 'kow' drink that made my eyes pop open in surprise from the rich flavour. 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Rob & Laith's Terry's Chocolate Orange Chip Cookies

Dearest darlings, 

How are you? I'm fine and I'd like to tell you something.

If I didn't meet you for dindins in London, I would have never been introduced to Terry's Chocolate Orange... ever. I would have been in London and gone home without ever knowing about them.

Lovely, lovely chocolate

If I didn't buy them I wouldn't have made these lovelies. They, in turn would have never delighted the hearts of some friends (big and small) in Phnom Penh whom I visited recently. They were well-received by said friends and polished-off pretty quickly.

Butter, sugar and orange rind

The lucky M who was visiting me while these lovelies were being baked also enjoyed them. She said they were just what she was dreaming off. A soft, chewy cookie that hits the spot. 

Cookie dough waiting to be baked

Here's the recipe my darlings. For you to try at home. In hope that it will hit 'that spot' whenever you're needing some comforting and tender-loving-care.

I have dedicated them to you from my heart.

Rob & Laith's Terry's Chocolate Orange Chip Cookies

Rob & Laith's Terry's Chocolate Orange Chip Cookies

360g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
120g cold butter, cubed
150g castor sugar
150g light brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 extra-large orange
75g Terry's Milk Chocolate Orange, chopped
80g small chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven at 160C.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  1. Put both sugars and orange zest into a large bowl. Rub zest into the sugar with your fingers until the mixture gives off a strong citrus fragrance. (Put the bowl over a smaller pot of boiling water without touching the water and then rub the sugar/zest if it's a cold day.)
  2. Add the cold, cubed butter into the sugar mixture and cream for about 5 minutes with an electric beater.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Gently fold in the flour.
  5. Gently fold in the chocolate orange bits and chocolate chips into the mixture.
  6. Scoop 2-tsp sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets.
  7. Bake at 180C in the lower-top half of the oven for 8 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool on sheet for 2 minutes. Then transfer all the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • You may need less flour than I did because of the climate. Start with 270g flour and measure in any additional you may need from there. You should get a cookie dough that just leaves the sides of the bowl cleanly when trying to make a ball of dough.
  • This recipe makes a soft, chewy cookie.
  • Do not bake or leave them on the baking sheet to cool any more than the given time or they will dry out and be hard, chewy instead.
  • The rubbing of the sugar and zest is a trick I learnt from Dorie Greenspan. She uses the large-bowl-over-boiling-water method, but in the tropics I find that we don't necessary have to do that. The warmth of my fingers is enough.
  • Try it with cranberries. I'm going to. I think it would be really luscious!

Much love,

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Friday, 3 September 2010

Gateau au citron verte

I've been wanting to try this recipe out for the longest time. I bookmarked it almost a year ago, and I've just got around to making it. You can find the recipe at Fanny's. She has done a lovely clementine confit to go with it, but I was baking on a week night after a full day at work and didn't have the energy to confit anything! She's an amazing baker and I do love the whimsical way she writes her posts. 

The only thing I did different from her recipe was to use the grated rind of 2 limes instead of lemons (as I didn't have any lemons on hand, but would encourage you to use the grated rind of 4 limes instead for a more intense aroma). Plus, my cake needed to be baked a little longer, for about an hour before the skewer inserted in the middle came out clean. 

This isn't a traditional soft, spongy 'angel-like' cake. This is a rustic, robust, carry-anywhere-without-worrying kind off cake. I discovered that slicing it thin, toasting it and slathering it with marmalade or raspberry jam (as you can see in the photo) for breakfast with a hot, hot cup of coffee is an absolutely indulgent  way of treating oneself in the mornings. (Okay okay, so I had some before going to bed last night too.) As Fanny says 'Be kind, rewind.'

Toasting cake may not sound very appealing to you, but you'll appreciate it with this cake. The texture changes and suddenly this dense, moist loaf is slightly crusty around the edges and oh-so-soft in the middle.

It does need getting used to though. If you're used to the tradition of tea cakes and coffee cakes, this will be something you'll like. If - like my boss - you can't get over the 'It's not cake, but it's not bread. It's dense, and moist not soft, spongy and moist', then you'd best stay away from this recipe... but you won't know what you're missing!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Ispahans on a budget

It's Independence Day here in Malaysia, otherwise known as Hari Merdeka. Did I feel patriotic today? Not exactly. Today, the first in a long time, I didn't even manage to catch the Merdeka Day parade on television, but that's another story.

Instead, I took a journey to the beautiful city of Isfahan, via some macarons of course.

Fly me away to Isfahan...

Ever since I discovered Pierre Herme and macarons, I've always wondered what the buzz was about his Ispahans. The name itself was suitably exotic and inspiring. Rose-flavoured macaron shells, with lychee buttercream and a raspberry gelee centre. The heady perfume and flavours of the east in a macaron.

All the amateur photography prep made me hungry

I assume here that Pierre got his inspiration for the Ispahan from the grand old city of Isfahan. So, I did a little research on the city itself. I found this source a good and easy read sprinkled with some beautiful photos. I'm  inspired to visit Isfahan some day. In the meantime, I'll just have to settle for a taste... or two. 

There is a recipe for Pierre Herme's Ispahan macarons here. This is the closest recipe I could find on the Internet for what they are reputed to be. I never had a chance to try them while in Paris earlier this year, so I can't vouch for its authenticity. Plus, I'm a home-cook and the recipe looks like it's meant to be made in a professional kitchen and feed an army of macaron-lovers. Scale it down? Can't be bothered. 

So, what did I do? I made rose-flavoured shells in a baby pink. Mixed some lychee-flavoured buttercream and used my favourite raspberry jam in the centre.

How did they turn out? Mmmmmmm... pretty good for Ispahans on a budget!

Lychee buttercream on rose macaron shells

Raspberry surprise

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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Pretty, pretty berries...

This is a very late post. Some time in April, before I left for a holiday in the UK, our office had a party and some of us (the lucky ones, yea) got fresh strawberries in our goodie bags. I turned mine into a strawberry frangipane tart. Please don't ask me what recipe I used, because I simply cannot remember! It was a while ago, and a lot has happened since then.

In retrospect, I'm not sure strawberries work very well in a frangipane tart. It tasted lovely, but I'll probably use them in a fresh fruit tart the next time.

However, I do love the pictures I took of the berries and the tart. So, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Pretty, pretty berries

Lovely contrast of red and green

Strawberry Frangipane Tart fresh out of the oven

Yummy, yummy slice... mmmmm...

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The woman I needed to call my mother...

The woman 
I needed to call my mother
Was silenced before I was born. 
Adrienne Rich

Ever since my mother's passing, I have wondered about her. Did I really, truly know her? 

Who was she before her name became mother? Who was the young lady who did Form Six but never got to go to university because my grandfather couldn't afford it? Who was this person who applied for teacher's training and never got it? Who was the girl who married my father? What were her dreams, wishes, ambitions, loves, hates and sorrows? Did any of her desires come true? Did they never come true? 

Who is this woman in the picture? What was she thinking on that day of her 21st birthday? Who was she laughing with? What was she laughing at? 

I wonder.

She didn't have it easy. That much I know. She grew up, got married, had her eldest child three years after marriage, helped out with the family's finances, raised three children, supported her husband, opened her house to loved ones needing food and comfort... the list goes on. 

Money was tight. My father didn't earn much as a government servant in those days, but my mother still managed. Education was a song she drummed into us her children... you must have an education to be someone someday. She strongly believed that that was the stepping stone to success and standing on our own two feet. She cajoled, pleaded, pushed, bullied and forced each of us to study hard during the exam years. 

I hated those years. (I can't speak for my brothers, as I don't know what they felt when it was their turn and I expect their experiences of my mother are different from mine.) 

Now, I think back to those years with tears in my heart and eyes. As Sarah Ban Breathnach once said of her mother and I echo here, 'From my mother I first learned how a woman unconsciously performs practical magic, turning lack into abundance with courage and gratitude. She taught me how to spin straw into gold, what to do with a few loaves and fishes, and how rising to any occasion was a feminine art form.'

The mother I knew was amazing. She cooked, baked, sewed, cleaned,  mopped, gardened, took care of all her family's needs and still had time to spare for others. Yet, I'd like to have known my 'Mystery Mother'. She is the one I miss, mourn and long for most of all at this stage in my life. 

In honour of her memory, for my dinner tonight I recreated a simple dish she used to make whenever my father brought home a piece of shark from the market. It's been many many moons since I've eaten this, and I tried to remember how my mother made it. There's no recipe for this. My mother never referred to an accurately measured recipe for this, and I will not here either. 

In our home, mummy would make this to accompany a fish curry or resam meal. Tonight, I just enjoyed it on its own wrapped inside little parcels of baby spinach. 

Feel your way through this. Pretend you are a home-cook who doesn't rely on accurately measured recipes, but rather on taste and 'feel'. Throw in a spoonful or a handful of this and that. Add in chopped fresh chillies if you want more heat, fresh coconut or anything else you 'feel' you like. The sky's the limit. Enjoy!

Sura Meen Puttu

Shark fish fillet
Turmeric powder
Chilli  powder
Fenugreek seeds
Mustard seeds
Onions, finely chopped
Curry leaves, finely chopped
Salt to taste

Boil the shark fillet in a little water with turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Once the fish is cooked through, remove from stove, put the fish on a plate, flake the fish as finely as possible with a fork and check the salt. In a wok, heat a little oil. Add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, onions and curry leaves. Fry until aromatic, and add in the fish. Fry the fish until all the moisture has evaporated and the fish resembles little coconut flakes. Check for salt once again and add some if you need it.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

I love me some sugee

I'm doing a little song and dance right now. The eggless Sugee Cake turned out beautifully. I'm not going to say anymore. Have a look at the photos.

Eggless Sugee Cake
Adapted from Akka's Kusini

4 oz butter, softened
4 oz sugee
4.5 oz castor sugar
4 oz self-raising flour
1/2  tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp rose essence
1/8 tsp almond essence
6 fluid oz milk, chilled
Grated zest of 1 lemon

  • Preheat oven at 140C.
  • Grease and line a loaf tin.
  • Sieve flour and baking powder. Set aside. 
  1. Roast sugee in a wok over low fire until fragrant. Be careful not to let it burn. Remove from stove.
  2. Mix in the mixed spice and lemon zest while the sugee is still hot. Pour in the milk, mix through and set aside for an hour. (Keep it overnight if you can for the sugee to properly absorb all the moisture.)
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light, fluffy and pale.
  4. Beat in the sugee mixture.
  5. Gently fold in flour mixture. Do not over mix.
  6. Scrape the batter into a loaf tin. Level the surface.
  7. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes at 160C or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool in tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

An eggless flop

The photo of the cake on this blog looked SO good! I scrolled down for the recipe, read through it and sat back with a thought... "Icing sugar in a pound cake? Will it work?" I'm used to baking with castor sugar in cakes, not icing sugar. Icing sugar was for other things. (The original recipe actually says powdered sugar which is icing sugar here in Malaysia.) 

I did some research on the Net and found that you can make a pound cake with icing sugar. In fact, there are more than a couple of recipes for it. I found other websites that say you cannot use the two sugars interchangeably, while others say you can but within reason. 

For awhile, I toyed with the idea of substituting the icing sugar with castor sugar. Castor sugar weighs approximately a hundred percent more than icing sugar. The basic rule is 100g icing sugar = 200g castor sugar. Oh my... such complication. So I stuck to the icing sugar in the recipe and cut the recipe into half... just in case.

It's a good thing I did, because it flopped! While the sides had a lovely cake texture and flavour, the middle was worse than the Sweet Orange Cake from yesterday. Boo hoo hoo...

Can you see the moist layer at the bottom?

My mistake I think. it was rising so well and I had to open the oven door half an hour through the baking time to check if it was done. Or did I use the wrong baking tin size? 

Rising so well in the oven

Note: I didn't have curd in the fridge, so I made my own buttermilk with the milk, water and the juice of a lemon. That was the only change I made to the original recipe. You can find the recipe at Swapna's. If you do get around to trying it, let me know. I'd love to know how it turns out. 

Monday, 16 August 2010

The last orange...

Update: 17 August 2010 - This cake actually tasted so much better the next day.

There was one last orange sitting all by its lonesome self in the fruit basket. So I used it up in my latest attempt to find a light, fluffy eggless cake. 

You'll just have to bear awhile with my current obsession with oranges. I promise the next post will be a flavour far from orange as it can get. Oh wait... I was planning to make Orange-Cardamom macarons. Oh well... we'll see what I can sneak in by way of a different flavour between all the orange.

Meanwhile, I found this recipe here. I also found a few others with ingredients that sounded like they would have made a lovely, soft cake, but this is the one I tried first. 

I changed it a little here and there, so I could use up the lonely orange, substituted milk for the water called for in the original recipe and added some double-action baking powder. 

How did it turn out? It was certainly moist as I expected, but I found the texture a little sticky and pudding-like. Perhaps from the milk, oil and baking powder addition? I'm not sure. I'd like to try this again with water, melted butter and no baking powder... but that's another day and post.

The Orange-Cardamom Tea Cake from the weekend gets my vote for being eggless and delicious.

It didn't cut as cleanly as the Orange-Cardamom Tea Cake

Sweet Orange Cake
Adapted from Bored But Busy

1 large orange
180g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp double-action baking powder
200g castor sugar
6 tbsp canola/sunflower oil
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp orange essence
  • Preheat oven at 140C.
  • Grease and line a 19cm diameter round cake tin. 
  • Grate the rind of the orange and set aside.
  • Squeeze the orange juice into a measuring cup. Top-up with milk to make 1 cup of juice/milk mixture.
  1. Sieve flour, baking powder and baking soda thrice into a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the sugar and grated orange rind with a wooden spoon until well-mixed through.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
  4. Pour in the juice/milk mixture, oil, vinegar and essence.
  5. Beat for 5 seconds with an electric mixer until all the ingredients are just combined and there are no lumps.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared tin.
  7. Bake at 160C for 40 - 45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. 
  8. Cool for about 20 minutes in the tin.
  9. Run a small knife slowly around the cake to loosen the edges before turning out carefully onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

A pleasant surprise from the worst spice ever

Cardamoms are not my favourite spice. I have tasted them in kesari, payasam, a myriad of halwas, even Indian chai and have thought they are the worst spice ever. 

Cardamoms - residing with cloves at the centre of my spice universe

I find them musky and strongly-flavoured. Their flavour is so dominant that they seem to overpower all other flavours in whatever dish they are added to. So over the years, I learned to give the usual 'suspect' dishes - like those listed above - a wide berth.

Then I noticed the strangest thing ever. People all over the internet seem to have taken to it like ducks to water. They've even paired it with orange and put it macarons!

I had an eggless plain cake recipe to try out this weekend. I had oranges in the kitchen and cardamom in my spice box, so... I experimented. I subbed out the vanilla and added orange essence, orange juice, orange rind and crushed seeds from plump cardamom pods.

My aunt's 'tumbuk' or mortar and pestle which I used to crush the cardamoms in

The results? Fabulous.

The flavour combination was perfectly mild and balanced. The cardamoms gave the orange-scented cake a lovely warmth and depth. I ate three slices of it before even realising what I'd done!

(Perhaps Indians have become heavy-handed with the spice, like Americans have with cinnamon.)

Hot from the oven... I wasn't too sure about the cake at this point

As for the cake... don't be fooled by its eggless nature. The tight, dense crumb is deceptively  moist. Best of all, you won't even miss the eggs.

Do try spreading some orange marmalade on the slices... delicious! 

Orange & Cardamom Tea Cake with Glaze

Deceptively moist and flavourful crumb

Orange-Cardamom Tea Cake

90g butter
80g castor sugar
100g evaporated milk
1/4 tsp orange essence
2 tsp orange juice
Seeds from 8 plump cardamoms, crushed
Rind from 1 orange, grated
170g plain flour
1/2 tsp double-action baking powder
1/4 baking soda

Juice from half an orange
Seeds from 3 plump cardamoms, crushed
6 tbsp icing sugar

  • Preheat oven at 140C.
  • Grease and line a loaf tin. 
  1. Place butter, sugar, milk and cardamom in a pan. Bring to the boil, over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Remove from stove-top and allow to cool.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl. 
  3. Add orange rind to the flour and mix through. Make a well in the centre of the flour.
  4. Pour in the cooled mixture through a sieve into the well, add essence and juice. 
  5. Beat with electric beaters quickly, until the batter just comes together. Do not over mix. Batter will look thick.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake at 160C for about 30 - 35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. 
  7. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack. 
  8. For the glaze - Mix the orange juice, sugar and crushed cardamom together to form a slightly thick, drippy mixture. Set aside. 
  9. Put the cooled cake on a serving plate. Using a thin skewer, prick the cake all over the top. Pour on as much glaze as you like and let it sit for a few minutes for the glaze to soak through. 
  10. Cut and serve. This cake is best eaten on the same day it is made. 

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Sweet offerings...

My first 'real' macarons finally made an appearance at H's house during our monthly get-together. I fancied Lime Macarons, so that's what I made. What do you think boys? Can pass or not?

Here are some pictures of them and the other sweet I made for the night... Oreo Truffles.

Lime and Chocolate

Dark beauties

Dessert and wine... can it get any better?
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