Monday, 19 December 2011

Donnowhat2cook on the list of 10000 very good recipe blogs!

Hey ya all!

Now how's that for a Christmas surprise? Randomly checking who looks at my blog, I came across the list of 10000 very good recipe blogs and voila! donnowhat2cook appeared on number 9660!!! Yes... not exactly the highest ranking of food blogs but heck, making it into the list is success enough for me :) So the more you read my blog, the more my recipes are spread! Check out the link below for other useful blogs for recipes!

Very Good Recipes

wondering what else she can do,
The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas Giveaway - 10 lucky readers!

Hey ya all!!!




Yes...the title says it all. 10 lucky readers will get a jar of cookies (not saying whether it is either of the two above for the content) from the Innovative Baker.

The spirit of Christmas is always a fantastic way of giving and sharing. And for my avid readers, I am grateful for the every growing readership and interest in what is featured and people asking what else can be made!

But there is a catch right? Not much...as long as you share with me your weirdest experiences on the weirdest Christmas favours, dishes and / or deserts you have tried, 10 random winners will be picked and you shall be contacted of course... Doesn't matter whether the comments come via blogger or facebook, you will be accounted for. So share share share!!!!! 

The Innovative Baker is looking forward to your comments, so hurry!!!! 

(Seeing that this brainiac idea did materialise a little too late for Christmas delivery, it will and should arrive your doorstep either hand delivered or posted should it be too far for me to leg it for the new year's!)

Ho ho ho...and OMG I have got a ton of baking to do!!!

Much love,
The Innovative Baker :)

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wedding cake mania!!!!

Alright, I posted it on Facebook and am taking my time to publish it on my blog, but here you have it, the wedding cake.

It started when a really good friend asked if I could bake her wedding cake! I was of course excited! My first wedding cake! Then I realized... Oh boy! So as always, we discussed what the cake might be like and I conceptualized it with the basis of how the cake would look like first incorporating the favourite flavours of the couple. Pitched it to her, she discussed it with fiancé now husband and voila!

Then came stage 2: deciding what actually will be the cake. The flavours were pretty much decided for the cake itself - chocolate for the larger tier, vanilla for the smaller tier. The cream filling was then thoroughly discussed on what flavours and tastes to mix up and see whether it would turn out. Donor was decided that the chocolate cake would have caramelized orange skin in butter cream filling while the vanilla cake would be the recipient of a cinnamon infused home made strawberry jam. The frosting was cream cheese frosting. What about decorations? Well, fresh orchids was wholeheartedly agreed upon and silver pearls to add the finishing touch.

The end result is the picture you see. The happy couple was delighted! I threw in 2 dozen red velvet cupcakes as an added gift to the happy wedded couple.

It took me 3 days in total to get everything in order (only night shifts since I work full time). So technically 1 whole day to get all of it together!

Thank you Sara for asking. It was a great joy to have baked it for you and to see such happy smiling faces when eating it.

Now it is Christmas cookies time!!!!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Interesting Foods You May Want to Add to Your Grocery List

Written by guest blogger Brett H, who writes on the subjects of healthy eating, living, and lifestyles


Sometimes we want to add an exotic or unusual touch to our meals without having to get dressed and drive to a restaurant.  By visiting natural food grocers or taking time to peruse your regular grocery store, you may make some interesting discoveries but not be sure as to how they can be utilized in your traditional recipes.  Depending on your grocery list, you can play it safe by making a minor change, or you can go all out with new spices and food products.  Here are some interesting and exotic ingredients you can try out:


Andouille Sausage 

Andouille sausage – this spicy Cajun classic comes mostly in chicken and pork varieties. Though mostly in link form, some regions may carry it as a ground sausage.  For those looking to watch their waistlines, a chicken or turkey version has much less oil than the traditional sausage.  This sausage can bring a kick to ground meat dishes, pasta, and rice entrees.

Epazote


Epazote – this Mexican herb resembles filé in color and texture but is made from a young weed that is aromatic and rich.  It works best in dishes that are savory. It is ideal for those who desire spice without the heat of cayenne powder.  This works well with soups, stews and bean dishes.  This herb is also known to locals as a digestive aid.  If buying in leaf form, a word of caution: darker, older leaves should be used sparingly.


Lavash bread

Lavash or lavash bread – this type of bread is a large, somewhat bland flatbread with Middle-Eastern roots.  Though normally served with kabobs, this food has become a popular bread substitute in the United States.  Used mostly in sandwich wraps and pinwheel appetizers, this is becoming a popular choice for those who want cracker-style pizza crust without the labor of making extra-thin dough.


Pickled Asparagus

Pickled asparagus/garlic cloves/mushrooms – These ingredients can be combined to make a great snack or a new way to top a green salad.  Found mostly in natural or gourmet food stores, these tasty, bite-sized treats are moderately priced but are a great way to reduce salad dressing usage.  They can also be added to chicken or tuna salads.


Swai


Swai (rhymes with “shy”) – this Vietnamese cousin of the catfish is catching on as the “it” fish for those looking to stretch their dollar.  Slightly sweet with a flaky texture that is similar to catfish, this is normally sold frozen in the U.S.  Though it may be sold as Basa fish, the difference is that Swai grows much faster and is not quite as sweet.  Look for flesh that is beige or light pink in color, and because of its mild flavor, it can be prepared in a variety of ways.



Tamarind Candy

Tamarind candy – this spicy-sweet and sometimes sour fruit has many origins, but the candy, which is mixed with spices and chili, is commonly found in international or Latin markets. For those looking to get accustomed to the taste, chop into bite-size pieces and add to yogurt, butter pound cake or ice cream.  Or for the holidays, add to spicy fruit cake recipes.  Tamarind fruit also has medicinal purposes for those who seek stomach relief.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Innovative Baker gets featured in the Star newspapers in Malaysia

I was recently asked by a friend who works for a local Malaysian newspaper to contribute to a piece she was writing on summer fruits. The article just got published. Here's the links for your reading pleasure!



Thank you to Ms. Abby Lu of the Star newspaper for asking.

The Innovative Baker

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Chicken Feta Cheese and Coriander Wantons


Born from a thought while riding on the bus, I figured lets make some wantons. And since I had guests coming over over the weekend, what a great way to jazz up the wantons by adding feta cheese instead. So here's the recipe!

Ingredients:
Wanton skins

Filling:
1/2 block of a 200g feta cheese - diced finely
1 chicken breast - halfed length ways then diced finely
a handful of coriander - finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
A dash of salt
A good dash of freshly ground black pepper

Method:
  1. Firstly combine diced ingredients into a bowl and add the chopped coriander before combining it with the oils, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Next, take wanton skin and using a teaspoon, take enough to fill the middle portion of the skin. Then apply some water on the edges and fold over before gathering them into the centre of the wanton. 
  3. The recipe would make around 14 to 15 pieces even up to 20 if you're making smaller portions of the wantons.
  4. Heat up a sizeable pan high enough for you add a good portion of oil for deep frying. Make sure to heat the oil up til its hot before plonking the wantons in for deep frying.
  5. When oil is ready, then add wantons with enough space for you to turn them over to ensure overall cooking.
  6. Dish them out on a plate covered with paper napkins.
  7. Serve hot with some sweet chilli sauce on the side. 
Voilà! Yummy to the core and it is basically using what you have in the fridge.

Soon to be featured: curried pork and potato parcels

The Innovative Baker

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Sweet Chilli Sauce

 

Sweet chilli sauce is somewhat a staple in take away Asian restaurants or even dining in especially with prawn crackers. I wanted to explore making it on my own and found it actually really easy. Using the basic ingredients I know should go in, I concocted my version of sweet chilli sauce and this was the product, a tangy, sweet chilli sauce with a slight kick to the end of it. Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
10 red chillies
6 kaffir lime leaves
2 to 3 stalks of lemon grass
8 cloves of garlic
1/2 palm size ginger
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce / tamari soy sauce

Method:
  1. Put red chillies, lemon grass, garlic and ginger into a mini chopper or blender and whiz til it becomes pulp like. 
  2. Next boil the sugar and water til melted and continue boiling till it browns or starts to caramelise. Then pour in the chilli pulp mixture and stir, bring to a boil again and then add the rice vinegar and soy sauce and stir. 
  3. Take off the heat and pour into a container or a sterilised jam jar large enough. It should make at least a large amount equivalent to a large soup bowl. Serve when necessary. Or use it to coat your meat before roasting / grilling.
Serve it along with fried wantons, fish cakes or anything in between. My flatmate tosses it over her salad and sometimes her fried noodles too. 

Yums!!!!

The Innovative Baker

Goat's cheese and pomegranate parcels


I was inspired by a recipe featured in the Stylist magazine that we get for free on the streets of London when I came up with this version. The original recipe called for vol-au-vents (see pic below) 

but that would mean, more puff pastry, more money and of course more time. Though my version is not exactly the quickest but certainly a cheaper option. I opted to use pancake batter at its runniest (most fluid if you'd like to be more visual), and mould it in the oven using muffin moulds to create a cup-like mould and then voila, it gave birth to my version of Goat's cheese and pomegranate parcels:

Ingredients:

Pancake batter:

1 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Filling:
2 packets pomegranate seeds or around 4 to 5 whole pomegranates
250gms goat's cheese

Decoration:
Greek Basil leaves

Method:
  1. First, prepare your pancake batter. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Runny consistency means it literally runs of the whisk or spoon you are using to mix. If it is still sticky and thick, add more water.
  2. Then heat up a pancake griddle or a flat frying pan (preferably non-stick). The oil in the pancake batter will help it not stick to the pan in any case. Spoon a small portion of the batter on to the hot griddle and use the back of the spoon to spread the mixture till medium sized. As a rough guide, use a medium soup bowl as your guide or the muffin mould depth to gauge how big your pancake mould should look like. The pancake should also be quite thin to make it easier to press into the muffin mould. Heat up the oven to 220 Degrees Celcius whilst making your pancakes.
  3. The pancake batter should yield around 36 pancakes. 
  4. Place pancakes onto the muffin mould and press down to make it look like a muffin case. Place into heated oven for up to 3 minutes or so or until brown and hard. Remove and repeat the same process for all 36 pancakes. Let the pancake moulds rest once completed.
  5. Then mix the goat's cheese and pomegranates together. If you only have whole pomegranates, slice the pomegranates in half, and use the rolling pin and knock the seeds out. The easiest way to get the seeds. When the mixture is done, set aside.
  6. When ready to assemble, place a spoonful of the goat's cheese and pomegranate mixture into the pancake mould and add a few Greek Basil leaves for added touch and flavour.
There you go! It certainly tasted yummy and was a hit. It definitely adds colour and variety to a party table too. Next one up, curried pork and potato parcels.

The Innovative Baker 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Business Cards have arrived!


Thanks to a great friend, my business cards have arrived! Quirky aren't they? Well now that they're here, my business side of things will be taking off! I'm in the midst of finalising the menu and the prices and hopefully it'll be an easy reference should anyone fancy a cake or cupcake batches to order :)

Watch out!

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 6 June 2011

Elderflower Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Infused Elderflower Frosting and Pink Piping


For my great friend and flatmate Marta, I wanted to create something special. So while reading up on my recipes and flipping through magazines, I spotted elderflower:


Of course...I didn't have to actually use the flower though it would have added a nice tough to the frosting but I was able to get hold of elderflower syrup. So that gave birth to this recipe:

Ingredients:
For the cupcakes
175g unsalted butter - very soft 
175g demarara sugar
3 medium eggs - beaten
1tsp elderflower syrup
175g self-raising flour - sifted
1/2tsp baking power
2tbsp milk

For the cream cheese frosting
300g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
1tsp elderflower syrup

For the pink cream:
100ml double cream
50g icing sugar
2 squirts of pink coloring

Method:
  1. Firstly, crank up the oven to 180 Degrees Celcius and then line your muffin trays.
  2. Next, beat sugar and butter till light and fluffy before beaten eggs into mixture. Add in the elderflower syrup, then a portion of the sifted flour and baking powder before finally adding in the milk.
  3. Once fully combined, spoon into muffin trays and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. While waiting, make the cream cheese icing by combining all the ingredients and whip into frosting. Place in fridge and proceed the same with the cream. Place in the fridge too.
  5. Once cupcakes are baked, take out to completely cool down before frosting and piping.
It was perfect for a party, and the host loved it (or so I gather). 

Next up, carrot cake...

The Innovative Baker

Friday, 3 June 2011

Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Blue Cream Piping


I've finally found time!!!! Yay!!!! Ok...jubilation over... now to write...

So the inspiration for this came when I asked the birthday boy what he fancied for his birthday cake. He was toying with chocolate, coffee, and the sort before settling with Lemon Drizzle Cake. Well It is normally in a form of a cake but to make it more festive, I changed it up and made cupcakes instead. Mind you, it is for the sweet tooth as it does involve a load of sugar and in different forms: caster sugar and icing sugar. Anyway, so what went into it?

Ingredients:
The cupcake
200gm unsalted butter - softened or partially melted in the microwave
250gm caster sugar (you can use light brown sugar too)
3 medium eggs at room temperature and beaten
finely grated zest of 2 medium unwaxed lemons
250gm self-raising flour - sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml milk - cold or room temperature doesn't matter

The Drizzle:
Juice from 2 medium lemons
100gm caster sugar

The Cream Cheese Frosting:
300gm cream / soft cheese
400gm icing sugar
1tsp vanilla essence

The Blue Cream Piping:
1 cup double cream
1/2 icing sugar
2 squirts of blue coloring
1tsp vanilla essence

Method:
  1. Firstly crank up the oven to 180 Degrees Celcius. Prepare the muffin trays with cupcake cups.
  2. In your mixer, beat sugar, lemon zest and butter till light and fluffy before adding the eggs slowly. Then add in a portion of flour and the baking powder and a portion of milk and beat again before adding in the rest of the flour and milk. Once fully combined, spoon into lined muffin trays and bake for 15 minutes. Take out and leave to cool thoroughly.
  3. While waiting for the cupcakes, squeeze the lemons for the juice and mix it with the sugar. The lemon juice will slightly melt the sugar. Set aside.
  4. Beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla essence until slightly runny in consistency. To have a thicker consistency, reduce icing sugar measurement by at least half. Leave in fridge.
  5. Beat double cream, icing sugar and vanilla essence until it thickens up. Then add in the blue coloring and fold it in to combine. Leave in fridge as well.
  6. The cupcakes should still be warm when drizzling the lemon sugar syrup. Firstly poke holes into the cupcakes by either using a fork or a toothpick. I used toothpicks. Then using a brush, brush the drizzle onto the cupcakes enough to leave a shin on it. Then let it rest before continuing to cream.
  7. Next pipe the cream cheese frosting to cover the tops and then pipe blue cream accordingly to what you'd like to have. Serve up! Or pack it in a nice box for a nice birthday treat :)
Here's what I did:


Evidently my piping needs work but steady hands goes a long way... This weekend I'll be making Elderflower inspired cakes...and a catering gig too! Watch out for mini quiche lorraines :)

The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sambal Belacan (Malaysian Chilli Paste)


I know I promised recipes for the cupcakes but my catering weekend is coming up so I figured sambal belacan or Malaysian Chilli Paste would save me for now :) A staple condiment that most Malaysians and possibly other Asians too would have to accompany their dishes (either as a dip or as the grounds for a sauce in a stir-fry), I would say one cannot live without it. Unless of course, you don't fancy foul smelling foods or chill in general. There are many variations to this dipping sauce, watery to thick. I have made the thicker version that only has lime juice as its sole fluid aside from the fresh chillies of course. So what goes into it?

Ingredients:
15 stalks of red chillies
1 tbsp of belacan granules (toasted and pounded)
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt

Method:
  1. Cut the chillies into smaller portions and place in mini chopper or blender or mortar. If in mini chopper, add in the belacan granules, the lime juice and salt altogether before zapping it to make the paste. The same goes with the blender.
  2. In a mortar, firstly pound the chillies first in bits and not the entire portion of the 15 stalks you have. When pounding and getting it to almost pulp like form, add in the belacan granules bit by bit with the lime juice and salt in moderation. Continue pounding until all ingredients have been firmly incorporated together. This normally take up to 20 to 30 minutes depending on the coarseness of your mortar. 
  3. Spoon into sterilised bottles and keep refrigerated or frozen.
Many prefer the second version as you can really taste the chilli and belacan together. For sake of convenience and time, the first version is quicker. The taste is not much different from the pounded version.

What exactly is belacan some of you might ask? Here's some photos:


These are normally raw and not toasted as yet. When toasting, it'll release a rather foul-smelling fragrance / aroma (that of course us Malaysians find delectable but horrifying to gwailos) that can stink the house. So be sure to cover all holes leading outwards of the kitchen should you decide to toaste your belacan. I however use Maggi Belacan Granules (can't seem to find a picture for this) as it is already toasted and in granule form...again convenience and puts off the toasting part as well.

For variations should you want to use sambal belacan as a sauce, then blend / pound it with pre-soaked dried shrimp and shallots. 

(Dried Shrimp)

Following that, heat up a pan / wok with some vegetable oil and pour in the paste before adding your vegetables or meat.

Simple as 1, 2, 3... delicious as ever!

The promised lemon drizzle cupcakes coming up tonight!

The Innovative Baker


Monday, 23 May 2011

Fruit Tart with Chantilly Cream and Sweet Pastry


The fruit tart in question was a request from a friend for her sister's birthday. The fruits are of course her favourite. I've never made one and having read the many blogs and recipe books that were available out there made it quite a daunting task to begin with. But I tend to find the quickest way possibly to make one so here's how I did it.

Ingredients:
Sweet Pastry:
250gm plain flour - sifted
100gm icing sugar
100gm butter - diced and slightly soft
2 medium sized eggs

Chantilly Cream
500ml double cream
50gm icing sugar

Fruits
Any seasonal fruit or canned fruit of your liking. Various colours would be good if not, just berries is good too!

Method:
  1. Preparing the pastry in advance is helpful as it would quicken the process in making the tart. Even baking it a day before is also good. But on the day is also fine. So, in a food processor or in a mixing bowl, place in the sifted flour, icing sugar and diced butter. In a food processor pulse it to ensure butter gets incorporated into the flour and icing sugar looking like bread crumbs. If in a mixing bowl, use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until bread crumb like. Then add in the eggs one by own until it comes doughy like. In a food processor it may seem like it looks almost like a batter form but slightly thick. Don't worry about it. Just use your fingers to scrape out the pastry onto a floured surface.
  2. Next knead the pastry for about 3 minutes or so before wrapping it in cling film for refrigeration. You can keep this overnight or for 1 to 2 hours. Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to a month.
  3. When ready to bake, crank up the oven to 190 Degrees Celcius. Bring out your flan tin or ceramic pie dish. There is no need for greasing as the pastry is actually really nice and oily and doesn't stick to the pan nor dish. Work with a rolling pin to flatten the pastry until about 5mm thick. Wrap the rolling pin with the pastry before lifting it to be unwrapped over the flan tin / dish. Use your fingers then to press the pastry on to the tin to rid off any air pockets. Cut any excess pastry away from the edges. Using your thumb and index finger from your left hand and index finger of your right hand, press the edges of the pastry to shape it. 
  4. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork to allow air to escape.Line the pastry with grease proof paper and pour in baking beans before placing it in the oven to bake blind for 30 minutes. Take out the baking beans at the final 10 minutes of baking to allow the pastry base to dry and turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool thoroughly. Remove from flan tin / dish to quicken cooling process.
  5. The Chantilly cream was actually the easiest to make. In a mixing bowl, pour all ingredients into it and beat with a steady rhythm until mixture thickens. When whisk is lifted, the cream should not be runny but holds it own. Vanilla extract with vanilla beans actually does make the cream look better but you can use the actually vanilla beans by scraping it out from a vanilla pod. It however is not cheap, so just be careful when purchasing it. Set aside the cream in the fridge.
  6. The fruits what you may like can be sliced in many ways as long as you know how you want the fruits to shape up when decorating the tart.
  7. Assemble the tart by first spreading the cream on the base of the pastry case and smoothen the surface with your spatula or palette knife. Then line your fruits accordingly and leave it in the fridge for a little while before serving or alternatively it can be served there and then.
  8. You can add a jam glaze on top for added shiny effect. Other recipes call for a gelatine layer but I choose not to. For a jam glaze just use any kind of pre-made jam on place it in a sauce pan. Two tbsp should be enough. Heat it up and stir to let it melt. Then using a pastry brush, glaze the fruits with it.
This tart found its way to a pastry chef in a popular cafe / restaurant down in Balham, London. The restaurant staff also had a taste of it and enjoyed it tremendously. I even got tips on how to get the pastry case to be less brittle! That made my day for sure.

So if you ever want to make fruit tarts the easy way, this is the way to go.

Rustic oat loaf next.

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 16 May 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies


I received a huge cookie recipe book as a birthday gift two years ago and have underused it much to the dismay of my friend who gave it to me. But since I am on a roll to experiment in the kitchen I used it as a guidance to come up cookie recipes not entirely found in the book but plain old innovation happening right in my kitchen. So the original recipe was meant to be milk chocolate chip cookies. But I ended up doing something else altogether because of what I had in the kitchen. So here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 tub (340gms) smooth peanut butter (crunchy also adds further texture)
200gms butter - partially melted for 50 seconds in the microwave
300gms plain flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200gms firmly packed brown sugar
1 medium egg
1 tbsp vanilla essence
200gms dark chocolate chips
150gms almond flakes / diced almonds

Method:
  • Heat up the oven at 200 Degrees Celcius. Prepare your baking pans with greaseproof paper and set aside.
  • Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together.
  • In a mixing bowl, toss in the sugar, peanut butter, and butter and beat till sugar is dissolved and fluffy. Add in the egg and the vanilla essence and continue beating before adding in the flour in 3 batches. Once combined, the mixture looks firm. Add in the chocolate chips and almond flakes. 
  • Take a bit of the cookie mixture and roll into a ball. The size should be almost like a huge marble. Line it accordingly with at least 1 1/2 inches in between to allow for spreading to occur when baking.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes maximum and take out to cool. Repeat until mixture is finished.
  • The recipe should yield up to 40 cookies.
If you don't like Peanut butter then replace with nutella. 

The consistency of the cookie is almost similar to famous amos cookies except it looks round rather than pinched. 

The cookies have been cordoned off by the flatmates...yes, it tastes that good!

Cookie search continues,
The Innovative Baker

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Chicken in a Bowl?


Yup! That is what it is called! In certain Chinese restaurants in Malaysia, they have a dish where it is served with a plate and an overturned bowl. In that bowl, it has got a portion of a certain dish and rice. Usually quite saucy, the dish is immensely flavourful as it tends to seep into the rice making the dish an all round delight! I remember being taken to one such restaurant in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia by my parents and along with my siblings with have this dish quite a few times. So to reminisce, I decided to cook this:

Ingredients:
1 medium sized chicken breast or any cuts of the chicken if you prefer to have bones (should be about 200gm)
6 - 7 leaves of gem lettuce or any green vegetable you prefer
1 stalk of red chilli - jullienned or sliced side ways
1/2 cup chicken stock or 1/2 cube chicken stock cube mixed in hot water
2 cloves of garlic - minced
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
pepper to taste
Pre-cooked white rice of your choice

Method:
  1. First, slice the chicken breast thinly into bite size pieces. Marinade with the soy sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat up the wok and add some vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, toss in the minced garlic and stirfry until fragrant. Then add the chillies before adding in the marinated chicken and stir quickly. Once it is half cooked (slightly pinkish in the middle), then add in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. 
  3. Bring to a simmering state and add in the vegetables. Stir slowly to allow the vegetables to cook in the broth before adding in the cornstarch mixture. The broth will thicken. Add in pepper to taste. If it is not salty enough then add a dash of soy sauce.
  4. To assemble, place a medium sized bowl next to the wok. Scoop the chicken into the bowl til half full. Then add in the rice and cover it up to the brim of the bowl. Smoothen the rice surface. Next place a plate on top of the bowl. Using two hands, one holding the bowl, the other holding the plate, putting pressure in the middle of the plate, overturn it quickly. Take the bowl off and you have a nicely formed bowl of rice and chicken.
  5. Serve with bowl or without is up to you. But it would be a nice surprise for guests!
The chicken is of course the most neutral of meats. You can opt for beef, pork, turkey, fish, seafood or just plain vegetables too. Want to make it spicier? Then before adding in the chicken, fry some chilli paste with the minced garlic. You can also use chilli flakes instead if you rather a less chilli like consistency.



Saturday, 7 May 2011

Rump Steak with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives in a Red wine Reduction


I always craved to make a good steak at home. Seeing that it is inexpensive to purchase a good slice of beef steak from the butchers, i figured lets give it a go. Naturally the sauce or condiments that went with it were what I had in the refrigerator so here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
500gms rump steak - matured for tenderness. Speak to the butcher for the right cut and maturity time
About 8 - 10 black and green olives soaked in olive oil - sliced in half
About 5 - 6 sun dried tomatoes
1/2 beef stock
2 tbsp red wine
salt and pepper to taste

Method:
  1. First prepare the sun dried tomatoes and olives by slicing them into bite size portions. Use the olive oil that soaked the olives as your cooking oil. It tastes even better than regular olive oil. 
  2. Heat up a frying pan and add the sun dried tomatoes, olives and olive oil. Wait for it to sizzle and then add the pepper. While waiting for this to cook, heat up the grilling pan.
  3. Reduce the heat on the frying pan with the tomatoes and olives, and rub olive oil onto the rump steak on both sides before seasoning with salt and pepper. When the grilling pan is hot enough, place the steak on it and let it sizzle. Wait about two minutes for one side to cook before turning it over. You will have the chargrilled lines across the meat. Wait the same duration with the other before fishing it out of the grilling pan.
  4. When waiting for the steak to grill, add the beef stock to your tomato and olive mix and let it come to a boil. When it becomes bubbly add in the red wine to the sauce and boil to reduce.
  5. Fish out the steak onto a plate. Pour the sauce onto the grilling pan where the steak was to get some meatiness into the sauce. It's kind of like making it infused with the steak flavour.
  6. This will drastically reduce the sauce and then immediately pour over the steak. 
  7. Serve hot. 
You can serve it with a nice condiment like a salad or some stir fried green beans on the side. A dollop of mash potatoes also adds to the flavouring as well.

(Why do you need to rub the olive oil onto the steak? Well, this I learnt watching a cooking show and also read it in many recipe books that steaks with grilling marks only appear when olive is rubbed onto the steak rather than the oil being dribbled on to the pan. Great tip i must say!)

Now that was a good steak. 

The Innovative Baker

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Jap Chae - Korean style glass noodles (MY VERSION AT LEAST)


My affair with Korean food keeps growing with a desire to even make my own kimchi (pickled chinese cabbage with chilli). But with a kick and a thrust of ingredients at hand, I made Jap Chae instead. Well at least the way I pictured how it would be and how it eventually tasted like. This would be essentially the third time I've made it and it has proven to be successful once more!

Ingredients:
1 bundle of glass noodles (the packet should be separated by portions)
1 chicken breast - sliced thinly and marinated with soy sauce and a little sesame oil
2 birds eye chillies - finely diced
1 whole red onion - finely sliced in half rings
10 sprigs of asparagus - finely sliced diagonally
10 sprigs of french beans - finely sliced diagonally
1 chinese sausage - finely sliced diagonally
a handful of coriander - finely chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp thick soy sauce

Method:
  1. Firstly soak the glass noodles in hot water to soften them. It will become transculent when soaked through.
  2. In the meantime, prepare all the ingredients ready for frying. Heat up a wok or a large enough frying pan with the vegetable oil. Toss in the red onions and birds eye chillies and let the onions sweat through before tossing in the chinese sausage. Let the sausage sort of burn a little on the sides before tossing in the chicken.
  3. When the chicken is semi cooked (half pink), then toss in the asparagus, stems first before florettes and then the french beans. Then toss in the chilli flakes, stir a little before covering it to let simmer. The heat will cook through the vegetables and also complete in cooking the chicken. 
  4. After 1 minute or so, uncover the wok and toss in the glass noodles. Stir until well mixed before adding in the soy sauce and thick soy sauce. Stir until well coated. Lastly add in the sesame oil and stir before spreading the chopped coriander on top.
  5. Switch off the gas, and serve hot!
The vegetables are interchangeable with other kinds like mushrooms, stem broccoli, kai lan and many others. If you wish to add more colour, then julienned carrots can also go in with finely sliced red chillies.

The meat is also optional if you're vegetarian. Just double up the vege portion and voila, a vegetarian glass noodle!

It only takes 30 minutes in total to cook and serve. Plus a great alternative to the usual fried rice noodle dishes we always have. 

Bibimbap next on line perhaps.

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 2 May 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese icing and hand piped Chocolate decorations


I've always wanted to make red velvet cupcakes. My brain was on high gear for weeks leading up to the royal wedding weekend and was researching on what was most possibly the best combination of ingredients needed to make it. But instead of having to rely on a recipe, I came up with an adapted one from an existing cake recipe. The decorations were also inspired from photos I saw of other cupcake decorations. So here's what went in:

Ingredients:
Cake batter:
300gms self raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
15gms cocoa powder
250ml whole milk
1tbsp red wine vinegar
200gms golden caster sugar
100gms butter - softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 bottles of red food colouring

Icing:
300gms cream / soft cheese
400gms icing sugar
110gms unsalted butter
2tsps vanilla essence

Chocolate decoration:
100gms dark chocolate
200gms milk chocolate

Method:
  1. Crank up your oven to 200 Degrees first to warm it up. Then prepare the cake batter.
  2. Firstly pop into the microwave for 30 secs to soften the butter. While waiting for that, sift the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda together. Then mix the milk with the red wine vinegar together.
  3. Beat the sugar and softened butter until light and fluffy before beating the eggs one by one. Then slowly add the flour mixture and milk mixture in batches til fully combined. Then stir in the red food colouring. It will turn the mixture burgundy like in colour.
  4. In prepared muffin trays with muffin cups, spoon in the mixture and bake for 15 to 18 minutes depending. Reduce the oven to around 180 Degrees when baking the cupcakes. (The cake batter would make up to 27 cupcakes)
  5. While waiting for the cakes to bake, prepare the icing. Firstly beat the butter and cream together before adding the icing sugar slowly to combine it. Lastly add in the vanilla essence. Beat a further 5 minutes to add air in. Then pour into an air tight container and stick it in the fridge.
  6. When cupcakes are baked, let it rest and cool down. While waiting, prepare the chocolate deco. Firstly melt both chocolate types in a bain marie (small pot with water and a heatproof bowl on top). Be sure not to melt it for too long as then the chocolate would split from its oils and have a weird sheen to it. Not what you want.
  7. Then let it cool down for about 30 to 45 minutes and you'll see it slowly firming up but still running. Then in a piping bag with a normal nozzle, pour in the chocolate mixture. Prepare a baking pan with a greaseproof paper to pipe the chocolate deco on. Then pipe whatever designs you can think off - buttons, hearts, crescents, stars, little dots... 
  8. When all three elements have cooled down - icing, chocolate decoration (hardened) and cupcakes are fully rested, then you can assemble! This is the fun part. The easiest to ice the cupcakes is to pipe the icing on the top. Then add some chocolate decoration with some semi-prepared sugar icing stars. 
Here's some other views of the cupcakes:


The party i took the cupcakes to devoured it. And it wasn't as difficult as it looked to be! So have fun baking!

Jap Chae next,
The Innovative Baker

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Spinach, Feta and Olive Quiche - A Sunday Afternoon Lunch too good to resist!


Twas a Sunday afternoon and I decided lets make quiche. It isn't as difficult as one might think and the ingredients are easy to get. Naturally if you're in Malaysia, then it would cost you quite a bit. But the filling is normally what you can find in your kitchen so there is no fixed kind of filling. However, it isn't suitable for those allergic to eggs as the filling does contain quite a bit of it.

Ingredients:

For the pastry: 
2/3 cups milk
125gms unsalted butter - cubed
2 cups self-raising flour - sifted

Filling:
4 eggs
400ml double cream (whipping cream as an alternative)
at least 20 olives - doesn't matter the colour - sliced
400gms spinach leaves (two pre-washed packets from the grocery here in the UK)
250gms feta cheese - cubed
salt
pepper
100gms parmesan / cheddar cheese - grated

Method:
  1. Firstly, prepare your pastry dough. You can either use a food processor to quicken the process or your cake mixer using a dough appliance (usually looks like a hook) or a wooden spoon and a mixing bowl. Melt the butter in the milk over low heat until melted. Pour into the sifted flour and mix well until dough forms. Roll onto floured surface to knead for a few second before putting into cling film and leaving it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so. Some recipes vary with asking for a longer resting period of up to an an hour.
  2. Crank up your oven to 190 Degrees Celcius.
  3. While waiting for the pastry dough to rest, prepare your filling. Firstly beat your eggs and cream in a bowl. Add in the grated cheese, salt and pepper. Leave one side.
  4. Next sweat out your spinach. How do you do this? On a cooking pan, add a little oil to a medium heat. When heated, put in the spinach and cover it. Wait for about 15 seconds before turning it. Add a little water to help with the sweating process. Then cover, and let the leaves wilt for a further 5 minutes. The leaves should by then turn into a deep greenish colour. Remove from the heat and strain with a sieve to remove any unwanted juices. Set aside.
  5. Slice your feta cheese and olives and set aside.
  6. Next, take out your pastry dough and place onto a floured surface. Knead for a little before rolling it out. Take out your pie dish and have it ready for the rolled out pastry. Using your rolling pin and rough guidance of how big your pie dish is, roll out the pastry as wide as you can but keeping in mind that it should not be too thin. So keeping to at least 3mm thickness is good enough.
  7. Now comes the not so easy part for the not so savvy pastry makers. I ain't that savvy either but it is always trial and error. When transfering your pastry to the pie dish, don't lift the pastry when it is flat as it would break. The easiest is to place your rolling pin on one end of the rolled out pastry, lift the end bit of the pastry on to the rolling pin and wrap the rolling pin up. Almost like how you would make a spring roll. Then place the pie dish in front of you and lift the rolled up pastry with the rolling pin and place it over the dish. Then unroll the pastry with the rolling pin. Voila! Pastry is now in pie dish! Next bit is to press the pastry onto the dish. Using your fingers, press to rid of any air that is stuck underneath. Don't worry if the pastry breaks a little, your fingers to mend it. or use any access pastry to cover it up. Using a butter knife, cut off any access pastry from the sides of the dish.
  8. Next, using a fork, prick the dough all the way through at the base of pie dish all around the base. This is to allow some air to escape from the pastry. Next, place some grease proof paper on top and pour into baking beans. It can be any kind of bean. As long as it is still in its dried state. Bake blind for 15 minutes. This means to bake the pastry case without the filling for a duration to allow the pastry case to cook slightly before adding anything else to it. It is a common cooking method for any kind of pastry.
  9. Take the dish out and remove the baking beans along with the grease proof paper. Next, distribute the spinach, olives and feta cheese even across the base before pouring in the egg mixture. Then pop it back into the oven for a further 40 minutes or until the centre is firm.
  10. Take it out and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. It can also be eaten cold as some do prefer it that way.
Now I'm set for lunch tomorrow as well! A good vegetarian alternative too :)

Next in line - Mackerel and Watercress Fishcakes

Being all adventurous,
The Innovative Baker

Friday, 15 April 2011

Victorian Sandwich with Pineapple Jam and Cream Cheese Icing


After much prodding, and a blackberry smartphone for a camera, this would be an official recipe post from yours truly.

Yes, yes, I have bought a new laptop, but the missing link to blogging and food is my camera. So for the time being, my blackberry will serve its purpose!

I have been meaning to bake a traditional Victorian Sandwich for a long time now. Seeing all the baking shows on telly and getting all jazzed up to make it. I've searched long and hard to find a recipe that would suit the tastebuds. But, lo and behold, I decided to innovate. The cake in general is largely a butter cake sandwiched with strawberry or raspberry jam and lightly dusted with icing sugar. I took it to another level and did my own version of it using home made pineapple jam and added frosting. So here's the recipe!

Ingredients:

For the cake:
250gms butter (normally unsalted is better but I use any butter)
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups caster sugar (light brown sugar is also fine)
2 cups flour - sifted
3/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp hot water

For the jam:
2 whole pineapples - skinned, and grated. If you don't have fresh pineapples, then canned pineapples will be fine. Just as long you dice them fine.
200gms caster sugar (use the syrup from the canned pineapples if using canned pineapples)
Juice of 1 lemon

For the icing:
2x 250gms soft cheese / cream cheese
284ml double cream
3/4 cup icing sugar - sifted
Juice of 2 lemons

Method:
  1. Heat up your oven to 180 Degrees Celcius. Prepare a cake tin by greasing it and adding in a sheet of greaseproof paper. 
  2. Next beat the butter and sugar until pale looking and fluffy. The way to know is when you see the sugar actually dissolving into the butter as you beat. Then add in the eggs one by one while continue beating it. When combined, add in half the flour portion and half the juice portion. Beat until well mixed before adding in the remainder of the flour and juice. Finally add in the hot water and beat until well combined before pouring into prepared cake tin. 
  3. Bake the cake at a reduced 160 Degrees for about 50 minutes before cranking it up to 180 Degrees for another 10 minutes or so. Take it out and cool thoroughly once baked.
  4. While waiting for the cake to bake, make your jam. (I tend to make the jam a few days ahead or have a stash of it somewhere in the freezer). After skinning the pineapple and grating it (leaving the core out), be sure to run the pineapple through a sieve to rid of its juices. This is to avoid a longer cooking process and the juice can be drank or used in curries or other cakes. A quick an easy method is to grate the pineapple over a seive large enough or a colander with a big mixing bowl underneath so that the juice is automatically being drained. That saves you time. 
  5. Then add grated pineapple into a big enough pot and add the sugar or syrup that came with the canned pineapples. Crank up the heat to begin cooking the fruit. To know when the fruit is becoming jammy like is when you see the pineapples changing colour from light yellow to a darkish, golden tinge. This comes from the sugar that is turning syrupy. The process should take between 45 minutes to an hour at low heat. Don't rush the process. Add the lemon juice half way through the cooking process and stir to mix it into the jam. Once cooked, take it off the heat and let it sit for a bit. Alternatively, store bought jam is good enough. But be sure to heat it up in a saucepan before spreading on your cake.
  6. The icing is the easiest. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and beat. It will reach its creamy consistency when you notice it thickening and soft peaks start forming. Beat a little more and the cream will stiffen up. 
  7. When the cake is thoroughly cooled down, sliced it in half. Place top half on the bottom of the plate and begin spreading the warm pineapple jam. Once it covers the cake, spread a layer of cream cheese icing. Once that is done, cover it with the other half of the cake and ice with the remainder of the cream cheese icing. Place in the fridge to set before serving. 
  8. You can naturally serve it immediately without placing it in the fridge but otherwise be sure to keep it refrigerated as the weather does not permit it to be out too long and the cream will go bad when it is in a heated location for too long.
  9. If you don't like pineapple or have an allergy towards it, a normal berry jam is also fine. 
The cake is absolutely divine and half has been lapped up already. The other half is sitting in my refrigerator waiting to be devoured. Simple cakes are meant to be enjoyed over tea and trust me, this is one of them.

Truly enjoying the likes of English Tea,
The Innovative Baker

Friday, 8 April 2011

Modernist Cuisine - The ultimate book I'd buy!

Whilst reading the Independent newspaper today, there was an article about the ultimate cookbook called the Modernist Cuisine. The price is a whopping £395 for a 5 book volume encased in a perspex case:


The coverage in the newspaper was visually mind blowing, and I must say I'd own this book in a heart beat if i could afford it (It is shy of £5 to match my monthly rent in London). But for serious foodies who would love to get a hand on it there are many ways of purchasing it. Amazon UK is offering discount Modernist Cuisine but it is temporarily out of stock. The official website provides alternative links for prospective buyers including an e-mail address for people who live in parts where the book is not available for sale online. 

The three authors, who coincidentally are chefs in their own right have de-constructed and explained the art of cooking and the kitchen in this collection of books possibly allowing anyone to be able to gather and understand that cooking is in fact a science but at the same time not a science! Well, that's my own deduction anyway. As I have yet to really get into the book with more detail (as I have yet to purchase it), I would reserve my opinions on the book until some great samaritan would like to donate it! Hahahaha... After all, one can never have enough cookbooks at hand. Even if you're not a cook / chef, owning this collection would be a great mantelpiece and a conversational topic as well!!!!

So why not splurge a little since, if you can buy a Louis Vuitton, a Le Creuset, or Villeroy & Boch, you can buy this for sure...

Loving her cookbooks like Smeagol of LOTR,
The Innovative Baker

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Food events for April 2011 in the UK

Hi readers!

Whilst I may not have a camera in hand, I can however suggest what kind of foodie festivals / weeks that one should visit whilst in the UK. Am now an avid subscriber of the magazine, Delicious, their website informs us of the many varied food festivals that are organised to cater to the different tastes buds, locations and fancies of the general public. So the link below takes you to the featured events for this month:

Food events in the UK April 2011

I'd try to go for the London Coffee Festival that would be held at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, London between 8 to 10 April 2011. Tickets cost only £8.50 and that would reduce to £6.00 when more than 5 tickets are bought. But your tickets here. It is held in conjunction with UK Coffee Week and there are events lined up for the whole week. I know...a bit late in posting this as the event started on Monday already. But there's always room!!!!!

So venture to Brick Lane and see what coffee has to offer this time round for ya!

Smelling the aroma of coffee wifting in the air right now,
The Innovative Baker

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Hiatus

Dear foodie readers,


This space would temporarily have a backseat because my laptop was stolen in a recent break in and all my food photos along with it. Plus, I no longer have my trusty Canon Ixus Camera to take the food with which means, I need to get another camera...

So I ask for your kind understanding and hopefully Donnowhat2cook will be up and running soon.

Love,
The Innovative Baker!


















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