May 22, 2013 § 6 Comments
She loves antiques. She loves junk. She loves anything she does not need but gets them nevertheless. She loves the idea of a hand me down, a good thrift store, a good bargain, a good steal and even more so, a fantastic car boot sale.
We would be forced to wake up at dawn, whist the moon barely set and dreams are just beginning to climax. Lifted from an innate zeal, she will get dressed eagerly and be at the door without haste. Layered in three/four winter clothing, she manages to look divine under the dim bedroom light. As we drive down the country side with beaming car lights shining along the hedges leading the way, I wonder if my stomach had completely digested the buttery apple pie from last night.
The cars lined up in a row and their things are laid unkempt with much order. It’s as disheveled as a lovely afternoon tea with the Royalties. You can get anything least likely to imagine. A box of jewelry from a recently deceased old lady, century old stamps, to a barely used camera. It’s a shopaholic haven. For mum, it is her nirvana.
I have fears of her stepping onto the wet field. Her heavy purse will be emptied and her grocery bags filled with unnecessaries.
For her birthday this year, I got her three brass bowls from an antique store. For what need, I do not know. The stubborn elderly man who runs the shop, could not have a better pair of eyes for collectable items. If anything, it would be his cranky personality that helps his memory. I ponder for a moment whether my mum should open her own antique store. The house is one itself.
Her all time favourite dessert is a simple apple pie. This year, I had decided to make a gluten free version as she has gotten slightly unfriendly with wheat.
Thank you for being the best mother and friend. Happy birthday mum!
(recipe coming soon)
May 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Finally a recipe post! This should be a regular go-to recipe as it is so simple to make. I have been approached by a few vegan/gluten-free home bakers on what to use for substitutions. While I have no fix gluten-free flour mix nor foolproof methods, I had managed to bring this lovely chocolate delight to the table just in time for tea.
Baking with gluten free flour is not as challenging as you think it is. I have failed and succeed; threw and sold many gluten free vegan cupcakes/brownies/cookies/shortbread. One thing, I have learnt is to never stop baking/cooking until you find the right fit. It is a journey for you to discover your own tastebuds and explore the wonders of different ingredients.
1 cup 70-80% dark chocolate, melted
1/2 cup fruit puree (apple, papaya, pear or any fruit you enjoy)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
50g rice flour
50g sorghum flour
30g tapioca flour
30g brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp guar gum/xanthan gum
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 vanilla pod
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and lined an 8-inch baking pan with a layer of oil.
2. Melt dark chocolate over the bain-marie or one minute medium heat in the microwave. Do not worry if the chocolate bits are not completely melted. Some bites are always welcomed. Puree fruit in the processor and set aside.
3. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Once chocolate is melted, add in fruit puree, oil, milk and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until very well incorporated.
4. Pour it into the pan and even the top with a spatula. Bake it for 25-30 minutes. It will come out soft and very moist. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before indulging.
And more to say, this is not available at the bakery/cafe I work in, but I am more than happy to share it with anyone.
*After leaving it for a day or two, it tends to get very dense. So best consume within the day of.
April 16, 2013 § 3 Comments
I had always consider rolled oats as such a versatile ingredient. A dry mix of oats, dried fruits and nuts along with some milk for a simple breakfast on the go. On a quiet afternoon, when everyone is away at work or school, I find myself stirring the same mix with maple syrup/honey. Preheating the oven, reaching into the depths of our kitchen cabinet for the classic Mason Cash deep mixing bowl, and rustic wooden spoon. I quite enjoy getting my fingers messy despite having a clean spoon. It’s much advised for the weak-willed adults who cannot seem to pass the rich sweetness of luscious natural sap or nectar.
Just to warn you, this recipe is not for a law-abiding baker. It is for those who cannot seem to understand why that packet of toasted almonds or sunflower seeds has been sitting in the dry pantry for months. It is for those who want to clear out the fridge but are too afraid to make anything because they have insufficient ingredients but do not want to buy anymore.
I like my granola loose, un-clusterred, definitely crunchy and slightly caramelized. Chopped tree nuts such as almonds and cashews are more then welcomed. Seeds add some rawness to the mix and are comparatively lower in fat. I particularly like adding fresh fruits before indulging into the mix but do add some chopped apricots/cranberries for a crunchier texture.
500g of rolled oats
30g of raw brown sugar
170g of dried nuts/fruits
a pinch of salt
100g of honey/maple syrup
oil for the pan
optional, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick
Preheat oven to 160C and oil the baking sheet or cast iron pan. Mix rolled oats, honey or maple sryup or both & raw sugar/salt. Chopped up the nuts and fruits separately. Add in dried nuts and continue mixing until well incorporated. Please use your hands.
Spread the mix evenly on the baking sheet/pan and bake it for 10 minutes. Stir and scrap down the sides, bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Scatter the dried fruits once it is done and let it cool. The baking time should be around 20-25 minutes. Once it is cool, store in it a jar far away from weevils or nibblers.
favourite dried fruit + nuts combinations:
almonds + banana chips
walnuts + cranberries + dash of ground cinnamon
pistachio + apricots
sunflower seeds + sultanas + dash of allspice
November 28, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Did November just pass without a trace? It’s hard to miss with all the beards and mustaches around. Along with Movember, I try my best to take it all in at once since the cafe has been very busy. Sporadical quiet moments, were either to catch a deep breath outside or read a short article.
At home, I have been rather blasé with stepping into the kitchen. At the very least, I will make pancakes on my days off. But, yesterday, for the very first time in 6 months, I turned the oven on.
My heart grows with excitement as the oven heat rises. Slicing two crimson beetroots into quarters, lightly rubbing some sea salt with my pink hands, laying them out on a cast iron pan, drizzling olive oil and cracking black pepper. The whole gesture made me fell in love with baking again.
I forgot how salt can be magically transform bitterness to sweetness. I forgot the sound of the ticking oven timer. I forgot how hot the kitchen can get. I forgot the loveliness of seeing the sides of a vegetable go from glaring smooth to golden brown crisp.
All of these were irreplaceable, despite baking everyday at work. I held on to the time as it stood still, with me staring into the oven glass watching them baked and day dreaming of light-hearted banters with customers. When it was time to indulge, I joyfully put some garnish on and tossed a few more fresh greens with roasted beets. Relishing the moments of getting my fingers dirty, appreciating wholesome vegetable and sharing it with the family.
beets, halved or quartered
salt, a pinch or two
black pepper, cracked
a whole garlic, broken into pieces
Preheat oven at 220C. Season the beets. Pop into the oven for 20 minutes, take them out, shake it, pop it back in for another 10-15. Yes it is that simple.
May 17, 2012 § 5 Comments
perhaps, the combination might throw one away, but it is much similar to carrots in a wholesome carrot cake with thick cream cheese frosting. I’d always been fond of beets for their juicy sweetness, earthy flavours, smooth texture and vibrant red colour. Their lovely colours, in particular, add a certain peppiness to a regular pan of roasted vegetables or bowl of green salad.
These muffins are more moist, less sugary and packed with magnesium. It calls for cocoa powder but feel free to melt a decent bar of dark chocolate instead. I got too greedy one evening and cleared the dark chocolate stash. An additional robust touch of hot coffee is added, as it goes so lovingly with chocolate, I always believe that at some point (well,centuries ago), coffee and cacao shared the same bean.
recipe adapted from Zizi’s
makes about 6-8 muffins
1 cup beets, steamed, skinned, cubed & pureed
1 cup whole meal flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy milk
100g dark chocolate or 45g cocoa powder
1/3 cup of freshly brewed coffee
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp mixed cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 170C. Prepare muffin pans by lightly greasing paper cups with oil spray.
2. In a food processor, puree soft beetroots. Gradually add soy milk and vanilla extract until it looks like baby food, and set it aside.
3. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a dry bowl.
4. In a mixing bowl, add melted chocolate or cocoa powder with hot coffee and whisk well, until there are no lumps. Add in the oil, vinegar and beet puree, continue evenly mixed.
5. Add dry ingredients into the wet mixture, until there are no more white mixture to be seen. The batter is now smooth and silky,and ready to be scooped.
6. In greased & lined muffin pan, fill cups until 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when inserted. Allow them to cool, don’t fret when it sinks, and sprinkle with some icing sugar, if desire.