Friday, 29 March 2013

Hot Cross Buns


A tradition in some places. Not a tradition in others. In St. Paul's, we get this after Good Friday service. They're delicious little morsels of joy after a three-hour sit down in church. I've been meaning to make them for years, but somehow never got around to it. Here they are now in all their wholemeal-ly glory.

I made mine with wholemeal flour as that was what I had on hand. Was too lazy to pop out to make a special purchase of organic unbleached white bread flour, so made the best of the lovely Doves Farm Organic Strong Wholemeal Flour which was part of my inheritance. 

I found a workable recipe here. It uses only wholemeal flour and not half-and-half like some of the other recipes I found online. I didn't feel guilty eating these fresh from the oven or even toasted and slathered with good Irish butter and homemade strawberry jam. They were remarkably lush and lovely.

However, I did feel that the flavour of the spices didn't quite shine through. Perhaps it was because of the nuttiness of the wholemeal flour, perhaps it needed more than the recommended amount of spices I don't know. I do know that when I make them again I will be more generous with the spices, mixed peel and golden raisins as well as add a teeny bit of vanilla essence to it for a certain je ne sais quoi. 

My aunt brought home some shop made Hot Cross Buns from church this afternoon. Have a look.



How were they? Made from brown flour I think instead of wholemeal. They were lighter, slightly stickier, sweeter and spicier than mine with a yeasty aftertaste. Mine were denser, not sticky, less sweet and not so spicy fragrant. One looks refined, the other looks like it walked out of the middle ages. Some points to improve on the next time? 

Here they are side by side toasted and slathered with butter and jam.  


Guess what's for breakfast tomorrow??



Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! 
One a penny two a penny 
Hot cross buns,
If you have no daughters give them to your sons, 
One a penny two a penny 
Hot cross buns!
Old English Nursery Rhyme


WHOLEMEAL HOT CROSS BUNS
Adapted from Coffee Muffins

450g organic Strong Wholemeal Flour
14g instant Yeast
50g Caster Sugar
1 teaspoon Mixed Spice
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon Sugar
130g Golden Raisins
130g Mixed Peel
Grated zest of 1 Orange

150ml Warm Milk
50ml Warm Water
1 Egg, lightly beaten
50g melted Butter

4 tablespoons Plain Flour mixed with a little Water to make a stiff paste

2 tablespoons Orange Juice mixed with a little Icing Sugar to make a glaze

Place the Flour, Yeast, Sugar, Spices, Golden Raisins, Mixed Peel and Zest together in a large bowl. Mix through with your hands to ensure everything is mixed evenly.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredient and pour in the Milk, Water, Egg and Butter. Mix into a dough. Scrape out onto a clean work top and knead until elastic for about 10 - 15 minutes. Add in a little more Milk if necessary in stages if the dough is too stiff to work with.

Place dough into a clean, buttered bowl . Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest in a warm place for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Once risen and double in size, remove from bowl and gently knock out the air. Knead gently for a few minutes and split dough into 12 pieces. Shape the pieces into balls, place onto a lightly buttered baking tray and flatten slightly.

With a sharp knife cut a cross in each one. Rest for about 20 minutes till risen again. 

Put the ready-mixed paste into a piping bag and pipe into the cross indents.

Bake at 175 Celsius for about 15 minutes until done. Remove from the oven and brush with glaze while still hot.
Put back into the oven for 5 minutes with only the top heat on so the tops get nice and brown. Remove from the oven, let it cool (or not) and eat toasted with butter and jam.


Good Friday: My offering


Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within.
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness.
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of Glory and of grace.
One in Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood.
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Saviour and my God. 
Charitie L. Bancroft

Monday, 25 March 2013

5-Ingredient Nutella Cookies with Sea Salt

Please don't ask me how or why I am bitten by the Nutella bug. Please don't ask me how much time I spent last night looking for the perfect cake and cookie recipes with this gorgeous chocolate-hazelnut spread in it. Please don't ask me how I went off to the shops yesterday and again today to buy Nutella and more Nutella. Please don't ask me why I made these on a Monday night, or why I'm talking about them when it's just about time for me to go to sleep. I just did and so here it is. 



This is one of those times when the phrase 'Don't judge a book by its cover' comes to mind. Nothing much to look at but beautiful inside. 

These cookies looked like chocolate lace when I pulled them out of the oven. I had a small panic attack that perhaps they were baked crunchy throughout? They weren't. They were gorgeous. Fudgy, chewy, gooey gorgeous. I had three. 

5-INGREDIENT NUTELLA COOKIES WITH SEA SALT
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

1 cup Nutella
1 tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Plain Flour
1 Egg
More Sea Salt for sprinkling

In a large bowl, mix the Sugar, Sea Salt and Plain Flour together. Add the Nutella and Egg. Mix with a spatula until well combined. 

Place in fridge for 10 minutes. Remove and roll mixture into balls. Place on baking paper lined trays. (You need just one tray or two depending on how large you roll the balls) 

Bake at 175 Celsius for about 8 - 10 minutes until the tops look dry and set. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with Sea Salt and let the cookies cool on the baking tray. With a small pallet knife loosen the cookies from the baking paper. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Rose Biscuits and a word of gratitude for the 'inheritance'

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."
Emma Goldman


Thank you. Thank you for the Cinnamon Sugar, Spice, Oils; the Coffee that I'm yet to drink and  the Tea that I have; as well as all the other goodies sitting in my larder today. Those wonderful store cupboard essentials.

Thank you also for the gorgeous chocolates, delicious biscuits, homemade mince pies and all the little things you've brought back on your trips home. 

These are for you. I ate five on your behalf with a nice, hot cup of 'inherited' Earl Grey. Here's wishing you all the best in the land of famous ruins, rose water and orange blossoms. 

ROSE BISCUITS

125g Salted Butter, softened
50g Icing Sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons Rose Water
1 drop Rose Essence
150g Plain Flour
A teeny bit of Pink Gel Paste

Put Butter and Sugar in a large bowl. Mix till combined with a spatula. Add in the Rose Water and Essence. gently mix through. Fold in the Flour until the mixture comes together into a soft ball of dough. Mix in the Pink Gel Paste until the dough is evenly distributed throughout.

Place dough in a biscuit press and press out shapes on a un-lined, un-greased baking tray. Press out shapes until all the dough has been used up. You may need 2 baking trays.

Bake the biscuits for about 20 - 25 minutes at 170 Celsius. Do turn the trays around at the 10 minute mark to ensure even baking and watch the biscuits so they don't burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray before storing in an airtight container. 


You will notice that the biscuits are a teeny bit brown and not so clean a pink in colour. This is how I like them. Taking them out when they're just set, while the pink looks fresh and oh-so-pretty leaves you with a slightly under-baked biscuit. So I let them bake a little more for a crunchier biscuit. In my little kitchen, biscuits are crunchy and cookies are soft. 

Broccoli Salad


I suppose I should call it Let's-Use-Up-What's-In-The-Fridge-And-Larder-Salad, because that's what this was really about. A bunch of broccoli lying in the fridge; a pack of walnuts in the larder; some almost sad looking golden raisins and the bacon that I'd forgotten about.

I have also in recent days, received an 'inheritance' of sorts from friends. Part of the 'inheritance' included a bottle of Walnut Oil. I have been waiting to try with something, and this was the something. While it isn't exactly a salad that most people would call healthy, it certainly was yummy!

It is Sunday after all. Everyone is supposed to have some treat or other on Sunday before the hectic work week starts, so this was a treat to myself. This AND the five Rose Biscuits I've eaten today. Shhhh... don't tell anyone. 

BROCCOLI SALAD

A head of Broccoli
A handful of Golden Raisins
A handful of Walnuts
Some Back Bacon 
Roasted Nuts salad dressing
Walnut Oil

Cut Broccoli into florets. Blanch in hot slightly-salted water, drain and refresh in cold water. Put them  into the bowl you will be eating from. Chop and toast the Walnuts. Dice and fry the Bacon till crisp in a little sunflower oil. Place cooked Bacon on kitchen towels to drain-off as much oil as possible.  Sprinkle Raisins, Walnuts and Bacon over the Broccoli. Drizzle the salad with one tablespoon each of Roasted Nut dressing and Walnut Oil.

Eat!



Sunday, 17 March 2013

Corned Beef & Potatoes


Corned Beef & Potatoes how my mother used to make it. With spices and lots of potatoes and curry leaves. Salty and spicy and very satisfying with a bit of resam and white rice. 

CORNED BEEF & POTATOES

1 can Corned Beef
3 - 4 Potatoes, cubed
1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
1 teaspoon Jeera Seeds
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Star Anise
2 sprigs Curry Leaves
Chilly Flakes or Chilly Powder, to taste
1 - 2 medium-sized Onions
3 - 4 cloves Garlic
Oil

Remove Corned Beef from the can, break-up with fork and set aside. In a large wok, heat oil. Fry Potatoes. Once Potatoes are cooked through, remove some of the oil from the wok. 

Then add Cinnamon, Star Anise, Mustard Seeds and Jeera Seeds to the Potatoes. Fry till the Mustard Seeds split. Add in Curry Leaves, Onions and Garlic. Fry for a few seconds and add Chilly Flakes or Chilly Powder to taste. 

Last of all, add in the Corned Beef. Stir-fry until all the ingredients are mixed through well. Check seasoning. If okay, remove from heat and place in a serving dish. If not, add Salt or more Chilly to taste. Stir-fry a little longer and remove from heat. 


Watercolours in the sky

Sunsets are pretty,
Sunsets are pink,
Sunsets are red,
Sunsets are purple,
All because of the sun going down.

Silhouettes are black,
Clouds have yellow outlines,
All because of the sun going down.

Water and seas are red,
Water and seas are pink,
Water ans seas are purple,
All because of the sun going down.

Sunsets are beautiful,
Sunsets are the best thing,
All because of the sun going down.

Lisa Daborn
30 December 1991




A beautiful poem which reminded me of the sunset I once saw from my bedroom window. It was magical to watch at the end of a long, long day. A gentle reminder to a busy soul to stop. Just stop. Stop and look at the beauty around and above. 

Old-Fashioned Cherry Cake

What a pleasant surprise this cake was! It looked stodgy when I cut it into wedges, but it was nice and moist inside. In fact, it was even better the next day. I suppose one shouldn't doubt the Queen of Cakes whose recipe this is. Also, the cherries DID stay speckled throughout the cake rather than sinking to the bottom.

Unfortunately, there will be no recipe tagged to this as I cannot find the link on Delia Smith's website anymore. Looks like she's taken it off. I'll have to buy the book then. When I do, I promise to post the recipe here. Meanwhile, I hope you like the photo.  


As promised, here's the recipe. I found it scribbled on a piece on notepaper in the kitchen. I cannot promise that it is as written in Delia Smith's website or book though, as I usually scribble the recipe but never the method word-for-word. Anyway, here goes.

DELIA SMITH'S OLD-FASHIONED CHERRY CAKE

225 g Salted Butter, softened
225g Caster Sugar
4 large Eggs, lightly beaten
225g Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
250g Glace Cherries, quartered
110g Ground Almonds
1 drop Almond Essence
2 drops Vanilla Essence
1 tablespoon Full Cream Milk
2 tablespoons Demerara Sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 Celsius. Butter and flour a round 8 inch baking tin. Set aside.

Cream Butter and Sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in Eggs little by little until well incorporated.  Beat in both Essences. 

Gently fold in Flour and Baking Powder until well mixed through. Toss quartered Cherries with the Ground Almonds and fold through the mixture. Lastly, mix in the Milk. 

Scrape mixture into the prepared tin, level the top and sprinkle the Demerara Sugar over it. Bake for 45 - 60 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out cleanly. Let the cake cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes
Be careful not to burn the cake. If the top looks like it is getting dark very quickly and the cake is not done, place a piece of foil over the cake. Remove foil about 15 minutes before the end of the baking time. 

If you would like to be safe, use baking paper to line the baking tin.

New Year 2013 in Singapore... better late than never

Self whispered... please run away to Singapore for Christmas, but self felt guilty for not spending the most important day of the year with immediate family. So as soon as the most-important-day was over, self ran off to the magical land of South.

I had a good time in the South. I usually do. The ever-welcoming House of Orange Flowers to stay in, delicious food, excellent company and of course the shopping. Shopping. This was the end of the line for me. I couldn't fit into a Monsoon UK 12. I was devastated. I came home and made some changes in my life, but that's another story for another time.

For now, here are some photos from the Singapore trip.

Pretty, pretty hand-sewn dragonfly

Chicken Avocado Salad from the basement of Tanglin Mall




Roll of gorgeous cotton... who can say no to them?

The famous orange flowers from the House of Orange Flowers

More flowers from the garden of the House of Orange Flowers

Pretty tiles at the House of Orange Flowers

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

"My friends are my estate." Emily Dickinson



You know who you are. You who bought the dragonfly plates with me at the Russian. You who feed me delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies and Ikan Bilis Curry. You who introduced me to Ginger Tea and a dog named Kuts, whom I fed with Famous Amos in the old days when we didn't know that chocolate was bad for her.

You whose house I pass every Sunday on the way to my swim. You with the aching shoulder and elfin haircut. You who taught me to love a well-made Long Island Iced Tea on a Friday night which ended on a Saturday morning. You who encouraged me to be stronger, to love more and take risks. You who listened to my woes and watched my tears. You, and only you whose house I can fall sick in without a worry.

Yes, you. These biscuits are for you.

You're too far away to eat them but you're not too far away for me to tell you that I'm Thinking Of You My Friend.

I'M-THINKING-OF-YOU BUTTER BISCUITS
Adapted from The Household COO

125g Salted Butter, softened
60g Icing Sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
130g Plain Flour
30g Custard Powder

Place Butter and Sugar in a bowl. Mix with spatula until combined. Add in both types of Vanilla and gently mix through. Fold in Flour and Custard Powder until well combined.

Put spoonfuls of dough into a biscuit press fitted with your favourite template and press-out biscuits on an unlined baking tray until all the dough is used up.

Bake in a moderate oven (about 155 Celsius) until lightly golden for about 15 - 20 minutes. Be careful not to burn the biscuits.

Once done, remove from the oven and let the biscuits cool on  the tray for about 20 minutes, then store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Almond Butter Cookies


So... I made these to go with coffee at a dinner party. The recipe is from King Arthur Flour's webpage for Holiday Butter Cookies. Didn't think they were all that at first, but dressed-up with egg yolk and a sprinkling of almonds, they were lovely!

ALMOND BUTTER COOKIES
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

5oz Icing Sugar, sifted
9oz Salted Butter, softened
1 Egg Yolk
A pinch of Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
11.5oz Plain Flour

1 Egg Yolk plus 1 teaspoon Water, mixed together
Almond Nibs

Place Butter and Sugar in a bowl. With spatula mix till combined. Mix in the Egg Yolk and Vanilla (or flavouring of your choice) making sure it is thoroughly combined into the creamed mixture.

Gently fold in the Salt and Flour. Mix with the spatula until the dough comes together and away from the sides of the bowl cleanly. Divide dough into half, shrink wrap and leave in fridge overnight.

The next day, remove one half of the dough from the fridge. Leave on kitchen counter top for 30 minutes. Then remove the shrink wrap and place dough between 2 sheets of plastic. Working quickly, roll dough to the desired thickness, cut shapes and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper until all the dough is used up. (At this point, you can either finish-up or do the same with the second bit of dough still in the fridge.)

Brush the biscuits with the additional Egg Yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon of Water. Sprinkle each biscuit with Almond Nibs.

Bake in a moderate oven (about 155 Celsius) for 20 - 25 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Then remove from the oven and cool on the tray for about 20 minutes. Remove and store in an airtight container.





Chocolate Biscuits

If chocolate milk were a biscuit, this is what it would be. I think. Deeper and darker in taste perhaps, but still meltingly lush.



CHOCOLATE BISCUITS

125g Salted Butter, softened
50 - 60g Icing Sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
130g Plain Flour
2 tablespoons good quality Cocoa Powder, sifted

Place the Butter and Sugar in a bowl. With a spatula gently mix together till combined. Add the Vanilla and mix into the creamed mixture. Add Flour and Cocoa Powder. Mix with spatula until the dough comes together.

You will know when to stop as the dough will leave the sides of the bowl cleanly.

Divide dough equally and roll into little balls. Place balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper about 1 inch apart. Press the little balls down with the back of a fork.

Bake in a moderate oven (about 155 Celsius) for about 20 to 25 minutes. When done, let the biscuits cool on the tray for about 20 minutes. Then remove from tray and store in an airtight container.

Notes
I use Kerrygold Irish salted butter.
I use Valrhona cocoa powder.
If you like a sweeter biscuit, you can add up to 70g icing sugar.
Biscuits will spread a bit while baking, so don't place them too close together.