Thursday, 30 August 2012

Sunday Feasts - Video Trailer




Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Sago Gula Melaka (Tapioca Pearls with Pandan Syrup, Coconut Milk and Unrefined Palm Sugar Syrup)


Man...just trying to write this blogpost took me forever! Not because it isn't easy to write the blog but to figure out what I did! hahahahahaha...yes i know...i always cook on the go anyway...and by gut instinct!

so...i've made Sago Gula Melaka a number of times now and this particular desert has appeared on both the Budaya Kusina supperclubs held recently. It will make a third outing this 9th of September. Called 'dessert caviar' by @fabcooking and dubbed 'BEST IN SHOW' at the recent #SundayFeasts Supperclub Media Event by We Are Pop Up's Creative Director, yours truly had to publish it.. of course after much insistence from my friends who are like wringing my neck by now for taking my time in writing my recipes down (yes yes Baz...I know).

Anyway, so here's how to make it :)

Ingredients:

About 1 1/2 cups of sago (tapioca pearls) 
boiling water

Syrups:

Pandan Syrup:
5 pandan leaves washed and cleaned 
1 cup water
1/2 cup cane sugar

Coconut Milk:
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt

Unrefined Palm Sugar (Gula Melaka) Syrup:
About a quarter of palm sugar block
2 heaping tbsp dark brown sugar
5 pandan leaves washed and cleaned
4 tbsp water

Method:
  1. Firstly give the sago a good clean rinse under running water before soaking in a bowl for 1/2 hour. 
  2. While sago is soaking, make your syrups leaving coconut milk to the last as it needs to be slightly warm. Firstly make sure to knot the two bunch of pandan leaves and put in individual pots. 
  3. Starting with the pandan syrup, add in all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Once sugar has melted and bubbling away, bring to a simmer and turn knotted pandan leaves over to allow water to soak through pandan leaves. You'll know the pandan essence is seeping into the syrup when the leaves start to emit a fragrance when simmering. Leave it for about another 5 minutes on the lowest heat before setting aside.
  4. Then the unrefined palm sugar. Either finely chop the block or grate it. Then place into a pot with another knot of pandan leaves along with the brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil. When both brown sugar and palm sugar is fully dissolved and bubbling away, bring to a simmer again. Turn the pandan leaves once more. This should also be about another 5 minutes. When the syrup cools down, it must have a thick consistency. Too much water and it'll make it too runny!!!
  5. Now, the sago should be ready to rinsed off any excess sago flour if any. Before rinsing off sago, bring to boil a kettle of water. then drain the sago through a sieve. When water is boiled, pour over sago until the sago turns transparent or semi transparent. Don't worry too much as the sago when in contact with hot water will instantly cook itself. Remember to use a spoon to run through the sago while pouring the hot water to allow all the sago to get 'cooked'!
  6. Next, run through cold water to avoid overcooking the sago. Run it through your fingers. Might seem quite weird when touching it but it allows the sago to also go through the your fingers and 'unclumping' them.
  7. Bring our your moulds, doesn't matter what you have. I used silicone moulds but any mini pie mould or brioche mould is also fine. Or if you don't have use a small bowl. Spoon in the cooked sago into the mould and flatten the surface. Once completed, refrigerate overnight.
  8. Your syrups can be kept outside or refrigerated.
  9. The next day, remove it from the moulds and place the sago onto plates, mini bowls or soup spoons like what I did. 
  10. Then heat up half a cup of coconut milk first with salt before adding in the other half cup of coconut milk.
  11. Now the assembly. On the sago that has been turned onto plates, dribble on the pandan syrup generously. Then spoon around 2 tbsp of coconut milk. Finally dribble on the unrefined palm sugar syrup. Serve immediately.
It goes well with even a scoop of ice cream too if you fancy it! But otherwise, on its own is absolutely divine. Don't want to have to go through all this trouble? Then just pop by our supperclub (buy your tickets to be on the safe side) on the 9th of September and have a piece of heaven in your mouth :-)

Otak otak recipe coming up,
The Innovative Baker

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Budaya Kusina Supperclub in Local Malaysian Newspaper



It was a chance meeting with Zuleika Sedgley at plusixfive's supperclub with mummyicancook that resulted in me and Barry being mentioned in the article! This does mark a momentous occasion for us as supperclub hosts when we haven't even started actually hosting per se when I met Zuki. But two supperclubs hosted and big broad smiles on our diners faces, this article couldn't have been published at a better time!

Truth be told, I wouldn't know what to say nor do what it came to hosting supperclubs. I figured lets just get it done and see where we would go from there! Now, we're in the NST and by golly, we are also in the Sunday Feasts series run by Edible Experience's Wen (who's a huge foodie herself and hosts a seriously delectable hotpot dinner! We will be featured on the 9th of September with a series of delectable home-cooked traditional dishes from both the Philippines and Malaysia, where both Barry and I come from. 

Our diners in the last supperclub on the 19th at Hannah's were treated to delectable surprises...dishes that were not on the menu...all because we wanted them to enjoy eating even more! Who knows? Probably some other surprises would be in store for the 9th of September.

A HUGE THANK YOU to BARRY :-) my seriously over-the-top-paleo-eater-but-chef-to-the-mostest-partner-in-crime! For without you, where would Budaya Kusina be?

Having a teary eyed moment,
The Innovative Baker

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

SUNDAY FEASTS - BUDAYA KUSINA IS THERE!

Photo Credit: Shuhan Lee


Budaya Kusina by me and Barry will be featured in the upcoming Sunday Feasts by Edible Experiences together with a host of other Supperclub hosts to the mostest!! We ARE super proud of ourselves (PAT ON the BACK) for having achieved this much in such a short span of time!!!! Our first went out with a flying start, the second has a waiting list and now we are on our third even before we can say.....Oh-my-god-what-in-the-world-is-happening!!! 

Ok...enough self-praise :-) back to the point: So...we are at the moment the first in line @plusixfive has taken over the reigns of the opening act and we are next in line to host the Sunday Feasts and we are super excited, stoked, worried, nervous and I don't know what else to say... lol! But we shall take the foodworld by storm, wow you with our food and just make sure all our diners are happy people with expanded tummies and a huge smile on their faces!

So what's being featured on the menu? In true essence of sticking to our cultures, we thought we'd have a menu written in our languages with a description of what they are:

Starters:
Inasal na manok
(Filipino chicken skewers with Malaysian tangy chilli dip)
Roti Jala dengan tiga sos pilihan
(Malaysian lace pancakes with three dips)

Mystery Palatte Cleanser

Mains:
Adobong Baboy
(Filipino style tangy pork belly garlicky stew)
Ikan Bakar dengan sambal belacan
(Grilled Fish stuffed with sambal belacan wrapped in banana leaf)
Mystery Main
Rebusadong Gulay
(Filipino style vegetable tempura)
Kerabu Mangga Timun
(Mango and Cucumber Kerabu Salad)
Ibus
(Filipino style sticky rice)

Deserts:
Sago Gula Melaka 
(Tapioca pearls with earthy raw palm sugar syrup)
Kuih Bingka Ubi
(Tapioca Cake)
Sorbet Daun Limau Purut
(Kaffir Lime Leaf Sorbet)

Petit Fours:
Coconut and Pineapple Tarts
Malaysian Teh Tarik 
(Aerated of 'pulled' tea - An old school tea-chino served with a twist ala Budaya Kusina)

Interested already? Want to book??? Wait...where is it first?? and how much??? Here's the details:

Time: 6.30pm
Date: 9th September 2012
Venue: School of Wok, Covent Garden
Price: £39.60 (price inclusive of £3.60 booking fee already) 
Places available: less than 30
Alcohol ruling: BYOB

*some foods may contain nuts, seafood and alternative ingredients that may not be suitable for those with allergies or dietary restrictions. Please e-mail us so we can adjust accordingly.

Just to clarify a little, Asian food tends to never be served in courses as we are huge on sharing. So don't be surprised when you get big bowls of servings :)

So book now!!! Don't wait too long!!!

At a recent media event hosted by Edible Experiences for the SundayFeasts supperclub chefs, we wowed them with our food and our Sago got voted by wearepopup's Creative Director as BEST IN SHOW! (WHOOT WHOOT!!) 
courtesy of We Are Pop Up 

Now wouldn't you just like to have more of that?

Yours in kitchen culture ala Budaya Kusina,
The Innovative Baker

Friday, 20 July 2012

BUDAYA KUSINA NO 2 - BECAUSE YOU LOVE US :)





Maligayang pagdating and selamat datang to the Budaya Kusina Supperclub!

We, @CheapEatsBlog and @Innovativebaker, are the chefs behind the eclectic Filipino Malaysian Supperclub aptly called Budaya Kusina. Budaya meaning Culture in Malay and Kusina meaning Kitchen in Tagalog, literally meaning Kitchen Culture, we aim to please with foods from these two countries just to give you an authentic dining experience in a contemporary atmosphere that is London.

Our first supperclub on the 4th of August is our debut outing that received overwhelming experience that sold out in a matter of minutes. Seeing that we only had limited places available for that one, we figured we'd keep the fire burning by organising a second date. This time in North London at our host's @Chuchibum humble abode, we can now accommodate 20 people and hopefully with a fantastic array of home-cooked cuisine from 2 fussy pots in the kitchen (or so I hope we are).

So what's on the menu? Well, we can't give away all our secrets. Much like our first, we will have selections from both cuisines to offer. But here's some that's on the list to keep you happy and salivating until the day arrive:

The Filipino Pork Belly Adobo 
Malaysian Captain's Chicken Curry
Otak - Otak (Steamed fish parcels in turmeric marinade wrapped in banana leaves)
Filipino Sticky Rice
Vegetable Rebusado

Traditional Malaysian deserts
Kaffir Lime Leaf Sorbet

*Dishes available may change due to availabily of ingredients but nonetheless it will promise to be a fantastic menu to feed your tummy and soul!

If you have any dietary restrictions, please do e-mail us. 

So what's the deal then? How do I book? Are you interested? Then click on the link below to book your spot now!


Oh wait...when is it? silly me! Here's the details:

Date: 19th August 2012 - Sunday
Time: 12.30pm for 1pm start
Price: GBP35 
Location: North London. Address will be given upon confirmation of booking on website.

So quick! Click the link! What link? You mean this? http://www.edibleexperiences.com/p/268099/Donnowhat2cook/2001/Budaya-Kusina-No-2

Budaya Kusina Supperclub may not always be around, so when we are, we aim to please...in a very good way! So grab your tickets now!

Yours hosts for the day,
Innovativebaker, CheapEatsBlog and Chuchibum

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Steamed Pork Belly with Chinese Sausage, Ginger, Fermented Black Beans, Red Chillies and Shaoxing Wine



Steaming is an art I think. Everyone is telling me that they need to buy a steamer to literally steam. I say 'NO NEED!!!!' Lol...  All you need is one of these - a steamer stand (see image below):
Image taken from sourcingmap.com

Then find yourself a big enough pot with a lid and voila, a self-made steamer. A steamer stand can be bought at almost all Asian supermarkets in London so there should not be much of a problem. They're about £2.50 or so anyway depending on the size so it is definitely much better to buy one of these and convert your pot into a steamer.

So...getting on... the dish in question is something that I remember watching Gok cooking on his tv serial Gok Cooks Chinese but was also a dish that my mom makes somewhat similarly as well back home in Malaysia. We don't consumer as much pork belly back home strangely enough but that is my more prefered cut of meat for any kind of chinese cooking but of course you can use lean meat for the dish too. My mom always preferred steaming anyway versus deep-frying so I decided to take a page out of her recipe book, improvised it and made this:

Ingredients:

About 200gms pork belly - sliced about 1cm thickness
2 medium sized chinese sausages - sliced diagonally
2 medium sized red chillies - sliced diagonally
1 tbsp fermented black beans - soaked in hot water
1 5cm knob of ginger - julienned
2 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
2 glugs of Shaoxing wine
2 squirts of soy sauce
1 big glug of oyster sauce

Method:
  1. Firstly prepare your steamer. Grab the biggest pot you can find, fill up the bottom of the pot with water up to about 5cm. Add in the steamer stand and close with the lid and turn on the gas on low heat. Let it slowly come to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, prepare your ingredients. In a pasta bowl (as per photo) or a deep dish that fits going in to your pot, lay out the ingredients starting with the pork belly first, and then the rest of the ingredients in order of the recipe.
  3. When water is hot enough, lay in the dish and cover. Let it steam for about 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through. That should be about another 5 minutes or so. Not too long otherwise the meat will become tough like old bread that could make you pass out when knocked on the head.
  4. Serve with piping hot white rice and stir-fried vegetables on the side.
Mmm...I had this for two days...yes I am only one person so the portions produced could fit for a 4 people actually. Thanks mom for teaching me the wonders of steaming. Lol! Another steamer of a recipe is 'Steamed Egg with Minced Meat' which is actually very peranakan. But that's another blog post.

Until then, look out for the next post on our second supperclub date!

The Innovativebaker

Friday, 13 July 2012

Boozey Baked Goods for a Boozey Weekend




I seem to see a trend of people who are well into boozey cupcakes :) So to make it easier...here's all the recipes that contain booze in my cupcakes one way or another. 






Not a boozey person? Then scan my list of recipes for other yummy delights!!


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes with Passionfruit Curd Filling, Passionfruit Cream Cheese Frosting and a Kamquat Topping


I love recycling my recipes... lol! Well... if a recipe works why not use it right? So for the weekend I was going to Bristol and to see my bff and god daughter, I planned on surprising her with a new cupcake flavour. Well in the blogosphere and twittersphere and whathaveyounot it isn't exactly that new, but new by Asian standards anyway, I figured I'd combine, dark chocolate, passionfruit, cream cheese and kamquats... The results? Magnificent!!! What went into it? Here goes?

The cupcake:

Filling:
A bottle of Passionfruit curd from the Cherry Tree (they're everywhere in Realfood festivals to the Foodie Festivals)

Frosting:
2x 200g Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1x 284ml double cream
200g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
passionfruit pulp from 4 passionfruits

Topping:
Fresh kamquats
passionfruit pulp from 2 passionfruits

Method:
  1. Firstly make the cupcakes of course and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, make your frosting by adding all the ingredients except the passionfruit pulp. After the frosting is made (usually when firm peaks appear and the frosting is firm and thick), take out, add in the pulp and fold it in. 
  3. Next, use an apple corer to borough through the centre of the cooled down cupcakes. You should have a hollow middle, much like cored apples.
  4. Then in a piping bag without a nozzle, spoon in the passionfruit curd and then pipe into the hollow centres. Not enough? Don't worry, you can top it up with the frosting later.
  5. Next, in a bigger piping bag with any kind of nozzle you want, spoon in the cream cheese frosting and pipe to your heart's desire.
  6. Finally, top it off with a fresh kamquat and spoon some passionfruit pulp. 
It was indeed yummy!!!!!!!!!! At least it strays away from the usual cupcakes flavours right?

Next on the list of recipes that I owe, Kuih Serimuka.
The Innovative Baker

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Nasi Lemak with Chicken Curry Kapitan (Coconut Rice with Captain's Chicken Curry)


I've been procrastinating. There I said it. Ok...now getting on with it. Lol!

For a brunch that @flavoursofspain, @Bowman80Mark and @Rainbow_h20 was coming for, I figured let's make the traditional brunch dish that Malaysian divulge in - NASI LEMAK. Of course, there was a fistful of other delectable dishes on the menu but this practically summarises the epitome of yummy food all in one plate.

Nasi Lemak or Coconut Rice is practically an institution in its own right I should say in Malaysia. From Nasi Lemak Bungkus (Packed Coconut Rice) to Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng (Coconut Rice with Fried Chicken), one can find a variation of this dish at almost every street corner, road side stall, upmarket restaurant and hotel brasserie. What makes mine so special? Lol...just that it is home cooked and paired with nyonya / peranakan curry dish called Chicken Curry Kapitan or loosely translated Captain's Chicken Curry. So here's the long list of ingredients needed for every component of the dish:

Ingredients:
Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice) 
2 cups normal long grain rice or basmati rice
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
2 long strands of pandan / screwpine leaves tied into a knot
2 lemongrass stalks flattened at the base
4 cm ginger - roughly the size of two fingers - skin removed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp salt

Chicken Curry Kapitan (Captain's Chicken Curry)
For the paste (to be pounded or processed) 
around 2 tbsp bunga kantan / torch ginger flower - coarsely sliced (none? you can leave it out)
4 cloves of garlic
about 10 small shallots or 3 medium sized bulb shallots usually used in French cooking - coarsely chopped
4 cm fresh galangal - coarsely chopped
4 cm ginger - coarsely chopped
2 cm fresh turmeric root - flattened
4 fresh red chillies - de-seeded
5 to 10 dried chillies - soaked in hot water and de-seeded if you want to
4 fresh bird's eye chillies - de-seeded
2 tbsp belacan granules - already toasted
2 stalks lemon grass - coarsely chopped

about 1kg of chicken pieces tossed in turmeric powder and left overnight for marination
1 cup coconut milk
Juice of 1 lemon
1 to 2 tbsp kaffir lime leaves - julienned / thinly sliced
3 to 4 glugs of sunflower oil

For the Sambal Ikan Bilis (Anchovy Sambal)
For the paste (to be pounded or processed)
4 cloves of garlic
4 cm ginger - skin removed and coarsely chopped
1 big shallots or 5 small shallots - skin removed and coarsely chopped
1 red onion - sliced into rings
1 tbsp belacan granules - already toasted
2 red chillies - de-seeded
5 dried chillies - soaked in hot water and de-seeded
1/2 cup of tamarind juice made from 1 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste soaked in hot water
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

About 200gms dried anchovies - beheaded and stomach contents removed 
3 to 4 glugs of sunflower oil

Condiments
Cucumber - thinly sliced
4 hard boiled eggs - sliced into quarters
Peanuts - fried with some oil
About 150gms dried baby anchovies - fried in oil 

Method:
  1. Firstly marinate your chicken with the turmeric powder and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Alternatively an hour or two is sufficient. 
  2. Then make your curry paste by blending all the paste ingredients together and set to one side. Followed by making the sambal paste as well and set to one side. 
  3. On a shallow frying pan, heat up oil til hot enough to fry up dried anchovies. Ladle up fried anchovies and set aside. 
  4. In a smaller pot, use oil from anchovies and cook up the sambal paste. Stir until chilli oil appears on the surface then add in the onion rings. Cover the rings in the paste, bring it to a boil and then let it simmer with a stir every now and then. Boil some water for your hard boiled eggs with your eggs in it and then when it comes to a boil, let it sit for 3 minutes before turning off the heat. Leave the eggs in the water. 
  5. Now in a bigger pot, heat up the oil and add in the curry paste. Stir constantly until fragrant and add in the chicken. Cover the chicken with the paste before adding in the coconut milk, lime juice and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer, stirring here and there to avoid the bottom of the pot from burning. This would probably take about 40 minutes.
  6. Finish off the sambal with the tamarind juice, brown sugar and salt. Bring it to a boil again, test it for taste and then remove from heat. Set aside.
  7. Next prepare the rice by giving the rice a quick rinse under cold water and drain. Then add in the water, coconut milk, pandan leaves, ginger, lemongrass and salt. Shake it a little so that the salt and coconut milk is evenly spread out in the rice and cook. I used a rice cooker but on a stove that would normally take less than 20 minutes. Do not open the lid as that would definitely disturb the cooking process. Once you see no more liquid bubbling at the surface and your rice actually looking fluffy, the rice is ready. Remove it from the stove and set aside.
  8. Check on your curry to see whether chicken is cooked properly. There will be layer of yellow looking oil - comes from infusing turmeric with oil from the coconut milk and the sunflower oil. Add some salt if need be and stir again before turning off the heat.
  9. Then in the same shallow pan, add some oil to fry up the baby anchovies first before tossing in the peanuts. Add some salt, toss a little more until anchovies and peanuts look crispy / golden brown then remove from the heat and pour onto a bowl. Prepare your hard boiled eggs by shelling it and slicing it into quarters. Then slice up your cucumbers thinly.
  10. Finally reheat your sambal again, and toss in the fried anchovies. Make it is fully incorporated. When sambal is hot enough and anchovies covered, take it off the heat.
  11. Now to assemble, a couple spoonfuls of coconut rice in the centre of plate, sliced cucumbers on the side with a quarter of a hard boiled egg, then spoon some sambal to the side, a big scoop of chicken curry kapitan and finally toss in the peanuts and anchovies mix. Voila! Nasi Lemak for you.
Have a peanut allergy? Simple...there is no need for it. It just adds crunch to the rice. Everyone left happy with a belly filled to the brim!

Want to savour this? Then look out for a planned brunch by me with dates soon to be announced.

Dreaming up the next traditional dish to be savoured,
The Innovative Baker





Monday, 9 July 2012

'BUDAYA KUSINA' Supperclub DeBUT!!

Ok...excitement over... Yes... You read right... I will be having my first ever Supperclub in my humble abode here in seriously rocking Camberwell together with fellow foodie @Cheapeatsblog aka Barry to cook up a serious fusion of sorts mashing Malaysian and Filipino food down to the desert for a night to remember.

After much to-ing and fro-ing, attending brunches and crashing @plusixfive aka Goz n @feasttotheworld aka Jason's supperclub with my Serimuka (you guys r great btw for letting me crash) and then a successful first time brunch with @flavoursofspain aka Teresa and Ana, @Bowman80mark aka Mark and @rainbow_h2o aka Jeanette (there is a serious movement of twitters out there), it got me thinking. Plus, Goz of course invited to see whether I'd do a supperclub too at his place, things sorta got set in motion.

A consensus on twitter and encouragement from friends has led us to come up with.... (drumroll............) BUDAYA KUSINA!!!!!

Taking the two cultures, the Filipino and the Malaysian and fusing it with our languages and food, Budaya Kusina was born. Kusina means kitchen in Tagalog while Budaya is culture in Malay. Thus meaning kitchen culture in English. Ok... That aside, you must be wondering what the menu is????? Here it is...

Nibbles: 
Kuih Rose - fried Malaysian coconut milk biscuits shaped like roses
Inang-Inang - fried sticky rice much like rice crackers but ala Malaysian style

Starters: 
Roti Jala - Malaysian turmeric net pancakes with 3 dips

Mains:
Pork Belly Adobo
Malay slow-cooked Beef Rendang
Achar Awak - Malaysian pickled vegetables
Steamed Okra with dried prawn sambal sauce
Ibus - Filipino sticky rice

Deserts:
Nyonya kuih
Kaffir lime leaf sorbet

Petit fours: 
Pineapple tarts w Malaysian aerated tea - Teh Tarik with tea dust from Sabah

Wow!!!! That many dishes!!!! Must be expensive!!!! Well... As this is our first supperclub outing, we will only be charging £20 for the whole night. Corkage is free!!! Lol!!! And who knows!! You might just get a surprise gift too!

So when are we doing this? Details are as follows:

Date: 4th Aug 2012 - saturday
Time: 7.30pm onwards
Location: Camberwell, London, UK.
Places: 6 only (my kitchen ain't that big nor is my living room)

Interested? Email me at donnowhat2cook@gmail.com or Barry at bongguapo@gmail.com. Hurry! Cos 6 places can get filled up quite quickly. Or msg us on twitter at @Innovativebaker or @CheapEatsBlog.

We'd kindly ask for a deposit just to secure your place if you don't mind. Details will be given upon confirmation via email. The rest can be paid after you've devoured the food.

I know we have takers already, so hurry and email us!!!

Can't make it??? Don't worry, there will be more supperclubs planned with various other Foodies.  Follow us on twitter and we'll keep you updated!

Photos of our escapades leading up to the supperclub will appear on twitter so keep track on seeing what goodies are being miraculously concocted. Follow us so you don't miss out on anything!

Your ever enthusiastic and over excited supperclub chef wannabe,
Innovative baker

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Chocolate Centred Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Liquor Cream Cheese Frosting decorated with Chocolate covered Hazelnuts and Plums soaked in Brandy



This idea was born from the depths of my brain when I had....(drumroll).... bits and bops in the kitchen. Confessing right now... but the result was phenomenal. I wasn't actually planning on baking at all today but figured let's do it or else... and the great excuse was that @DigiBungalow was celebrating their first anniversary tonight, so I figured in true Malaysian fashion....aiyah...why not! So here's what the whole deal was: A Chocolate centred Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Liquor Cream Cheese Frosting decorated with Chocolate covered Hazelnuts and Plum soaked in Brandy.

The batter:

Chocolate pieces either from cooking chocolate or even normal chocolate that you have laying around

The cream cheese frosting:
1 tub 300gm cream cheese
About 400gm icing sugar
about 3 tbsp chocolate liquor or slightly more if you want it boozier
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Decoration:
About 5 plums - slivered
2 to 3 tbsp brandy
24 pieces of chocolate covered hazelnuts / M&Ms / Smarties

Method:
  1. Heat up the oven to 190 Degrees. Prepare your cake batter and line the muffin trays with cupcake cups. Scoop enough into the cupcake cups. Then place a piece of choc into the centre of the batter of each cupcake cup before baking. Bake for about 14 minutes or until golden brown. The chocolate will either stay abreast or sink a little. Doesn't matter.
  2. Next soak the plum slivers into brandy and let it sit in the fridge. Make the cream cheese frosting by combining all the ingredients together and beat til stiff. Remove.
  3. When cupcakes are cooled down, spoon in the cream cheese frosting into a piping bag. Pipe enough to cover most of the cupcake surface. Then arrange two plum slivers and the chocolate covered hazelnuts any which way you see fit. Below is how I did it.

Now it is waiting to be covered with foil and off to be eaten at the party!

Can't wait to indulge in it,
The Innovative Baker





Monday, 4 June 2012

Stacked Vanilla Cupcakes with Vodka infused Strawberries, Vanilla Bourbon Chantilly Cream and Cream Cheese and Elderflower Frosting with diced Strawberries


Okay...the title was a mouthful wasn't it? But despite it being that long....it was decadent. Using an adapted vanilla cupcake recipe up to the point of looking for vanilla bourbon sugar and all that, it was a trip worth taking. Now why so elaborate? This was a request for a birthday boy whose three main ingredients for his birthday cake was strawberries, cream and sponge. I came up with voila!!!! 

Stacked Vanilla Cupcakes with Vodka infused Strawberries, Vanilla Bourbon Chantilly Cream and Cream Cheese and Elderflower Frosting with diced Strawberries


So to get the party started here's what went in:

Ingredients:

Cupcake batter:
140gm butter softened
140gm caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
200gm self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk

Vanilla Bourbon Chantilly Cream:
1 sachet vanilla bourbon sugar (this was from Germany) otherwise 1 vanilla pod and 2 tsp bourbon
150gm icing sugar
600ml double cream

Vodka Infused Strawberries:
sliced strawberries
1/2 a bottle of vodka

Cream Cheese and Elderflower Frosting with diced Strawberries:
1 tub of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (300gm)
300ml double cream
around 2 tbsp elderflower syrup
4 strawberries - diced
150g icing sugar

Decorations:
Large strawberries depending on the number of the cupcakes - halved and green bits removed.





Method:

  1. Firstly heat up the oven to about 190 Degree Celcius / 375 Degree Fahrenheit. Line your cupcake tins with cupcakes cups and set aside. 
  2. Slice your strawberries and add the vodka into a tupperware with the strawberries and place it into the fridge. Overnight is better but during the process of the baking is fine as well.Next set in motion your cupcake mix. 
  3. Firstly sift your flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside. Measure butter and sugar and place in mixing bowl. Lightly beat til pale and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time. 
  4. When fully incorporated, add in vanilla extract, all of the flour mixture and milk and beat. Scrape sides of mixing bowl if in an electric cake mixer to ensure everything is evenly mixed in.
  5. Next spoon in your cupcake batter covering almost half of the cups. Bake for about 15 minutes or top of cupcakes are golden brown. Prick with a toothpick to check whether cakes are done. 15 minutes is the given time limit in any case.
  6. Repeat process until all cupcake batter is used up.
  7. When cupcakes are resting, proceed to making the vanilla bourbon chantilly cream. Add all ingredients together in a mixing bowl and beat til firm peaks appear. Set aside. 
  8. In another mixing bowl beat all the ingredients minus the diced strawberries to make the cream cheese and elderflower frosting. Then fold in the diced strawberries with a spatula. Set aside as well. 
  9. Once all the cream is done, peel off the cupcakes cups as you will be slicing them in half horizontally like you would a cake. Once done, cut the cupcakes as you see in the pictures. Make sure to place top half and bottom half of cupcakes with the right ones. Even then, mixing them up is fine.
  10. Then set yourself in motion. In one piping bag with a plain circular nozzle, add in the vanilla bourbon chantilly cream. In another piping bag with a star nozzle, add in the cream cheese and elderflower frosting. Take out the vodka infused strawberries from the fridge. The strawberries that have been halved can still remain in the fridge.
  11. Now begins the assembly work. Open up your sliced cupcakes with the bottom and top half side by side. Then using the piping bag with the chantilly cream, pipe some cream on both sides of the cupcake. Not too much otherwise the cupcake would not stay up when assembled. 
  12. Then place 3 to 4 pieces of vodka infused strawberries minus the vodka juice and press firmly onto the bottom half of the cupcake. Then stack the bottom half with the top half of the cupcake.
  13. Next using the piping bag with the cream cheese frosting, pipe a nice floret out. Continue the process until all cupcakes are done. Then lastly add the halved strawberries and you now have a complete stacked cupcake!



Remember: it can be extremely fun for the kids too. Just omit the vodka for them.

It was a fantastic adventure I must say... and yummy to the core. Next week...a series of salad dressings and marinades for the discerning barbecue enthusiast... happy baking everyone!

Having a happy jubilee and trip to France,
The Innovative Baker

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Blanched Green Beans with Sambal Sauce


After a weekend of grilled meats, wraps and all things western, I figured my dinner should change to my Asian roots and give a hot splash to what may have been a hot Monday evening. Then again, in Malaysia, it is always hot. Anyway, cooking by instinct and what I have is what allows me to make sambal sauce time and again. I think most Asian kitchens especially when you're from South East Asia will have a bottle of pre-roasted belacan granules, a container full of dried chillies, freezer bound chillies (to make the stash last longer) and the list goes on... So here's my take on the sambal sauce:

(What dried prawns look like)

Ingredients:

2 Eshalion shallots (they're longish) / 4 to 5 bombay shallots (small red ones) - skinned and chopped roughly
3 medium sized cloves of garlic -skin removed
10cm sized ginger - skinned and chopped roughly
2 - 3 red chillies - chopped roughly. Remove seeds if you wish
1/2 cup dried prawns soaked in hot water
4 - 5 dried chillies soaked in hot water
1 tbsp tamarind paste soaked in hot water
2 tbsp pre-roasted belacan granules
3 - 4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 - 3 tsp brown sugar

1 packet green beans or any vegetable you prefer

Method:
  1. In a food processor or a mini chopper, add in the shallots, garlic, ginger, red chillies, dried prawns,   belacan granules and dried chillies with a bit of water from the dried prawns and blend into a paste.
  2. Next heat up a semi shallow pan or a pot with the vegetable oil. When oil is hot enough, add in the paste and fry til chilli oil is released. 
  3. Continue stirring to avoid it from burning, lower heat to simmer the sauce before adding the brown sugar and tamarind juice extracted from soaking the tamarind paste in hot water. Salt is rarely needed as the belacan and dried prawns are already salty enough.
  4. Simmer until more chilli oil is released and remove from the fire. This does not take more than 30 minutes.
  5. In a separate pot with water, bring to a boil before adding in green beans. Cook for only 2 minutes or until beans turn a rich green. Drain and place on a plate. Spoon the sambal sauce on to the vegetables and serve with piping hot rice and any other dishes!
Leftover sambal sauce? Keep it in an airtight container or a sterilised glass bottle (30 second in the oven is good enough) and place in the fridge. You can use the same sambal sauce for sambal prawns, fish, chicken or anything you fancy!

Reduce dried chilli content if you don't want it too spicy. This time round, the red chillies gave my sambal the extra heat!!! But all the more better to sweat it out!

Next to conquer, a vanilla cupcake stacked up!

The Innovative Baker


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Sunny Side Ups with Chorizo Bits



Not exactly the most apt recipe for the National Vegetarian Week but I know the meat lovers would appreciate this as a good breakfast alternative maybe?

Anyhoo... I was watching Saturday Kitchen Live where Sat Bains was fixing a seriously big brunch of eggs, chorizo sausages and such! So I figured, what a great way to fix up my chorizo since I only ever eat them sliced and on its own. Plus, you don't even need oil to cook the eggs and the chorizo itself renders enough oil and fat when fried for the eggs to get cooked!

Ingredients:
1 medium sized chorizo sausage or half a chorizo sausage if bought fresh
2 medium sized eggs
pepper and chilli flakes
2 slices of oat bread

Method:
  1. Firstly prepare the sausages by dicing them into smaller pieces but big enough to pierce through with a fork.
  2. Heat up a frying pan and toss in the diced chorizo. Let it render and you will see the oil and fat sipping out. Ladle the chorizo to one side of the pan.
  3. Add in the eggs and let the oil cook it. The eggs will incorporate the chorizo flavours. Add a dash of pepper and chilli flakes. As the chorizo is salty as well, there is no need for salt. Cook until whites are cooked and yolk is slightly runny.
  4. Ladle out the eggs and chorizo on to a plate, serve with 2 slices of toasted oat bread to soak up the leftover bits of juices, sauce, oil and egg yolk left over.
God...this was a dreamy breakfast and my breakfast menu keeps growing!

Next to watch out, inspired by the many food markets now, flowerpot bread.

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 21 May 2012

Its......National Vegetarian Week!!!!

(Image taken from deliciousmagazine.co.uk)

National Vegetarian Week is here!!! Well...a self-confessed meat eater, I like my meats but I shall challenge myself to come up with some ass-kicking vege recipes for you peeps out there who prefer veg over meat! But... just so that you have a glimpse of my past vegetarian dishes, here's a list for your to indulge in!


While the recipes are definitely 100% Vegetarian, my other recipes which you can find here are very easy to substitute the meat portion with vegetables, tofu, halloumi cheese and so forth!

So don't be afraid to become a vegetarian for a week!

The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Roasted Potato and Butternut Squash Soup


In the ever weird London weather, soup always serves a purpose...to warm you up. So not too long ago, when London (in April) was getting seriously cold, I figured why not chop up the butternut squash and leftover potatoes to make soup. I do make butternut squash soup from time to time but figured a heartier soup would be good to keep the energy up, the body warm and still remain healthy at the same.

So what went into it?

Ingredients:
1 medium sized butternut squash
3 to 4 medium sized potatoes (fit for roasting)
4 to 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
10 bay leaves
a good toss of dried thyme, basil and oregano
1 yellow onion - finely diced
500ml Vegetable broth / stock 
olive oil
salt
pepper

To accompany:
Freshly baked scones
a dollop of double cream / creme fraiche / greek yoghurt / single cream
Freshly ground black pepper
a drizzle of good olive oil

Method:
  1. Firstly heat up your oven to 190 Degrees Celcius
  2. Then prep your butternut squash by quatering it, leaving the skin on. Line them on a baking tray. The same goes with the potatoes with the skin on.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on the squash and potatoes, toss the dried herbs evenly including the bay leaves. For the fresh rosemary, remove the stems and then toss the rosemary onto the potatoes and squash. Last but not least, salt and pepper. Place into oven and let it roast for about an hour or when pricked with a fork it pierces easily. It would best when the edges of the potatoes and squash are brown from the roasting. That adds flavour to the soup.
  4. Remove roasted vegetables and let it cool. Mean time, heat up a pot with the onions and olive oil. 
  5. Make sure the onions have softened before adding in the vegetable stock. You have various options of making vegetable stock, either using stock cubes or from scratch. Let it come to a boil and then let it simmer.
  6. Meanwhile, using a spoon, spoon out the roasted squash from its skin (much like how you'd remove avocado flesh from its shell) onto a plate. Do not remove the herbs as that would also to the flavour of the soup. The only herb removed is the bayleaves. Cut the potatoes into smaller pieces leaving the skin on. Transfer the squash flesh and cut potatoes into the pot and let it simmer and soak up the vegetable broth. 
  7. Add in a little more salt and pepper if there isn't enough seasoning from the roasting. When the roasted vegetables and soup begins to incorporate after about 20mins, blitz it either with a hand blender or a blender. Be sure to cover the blender to avoid spritzing and when using a hand blender, careful not to blend too high as then bits of soup would fly!
  8. Ensuring that the pot of soup is literally creamed up (no bits of potatoes or squash are in sight but fully amalgamated with the stock), let it simmer for a little longer ( 5 to 10 mins max). Switch off and let it cool for a little.
  9. Then spoon out on to bowls, drizzle the olive oil, the cream and grind freshly ground black pepper onto the soup and serve a scone on the side. Bread is also a good alternative.
I made this when mom was around and she was licking the bowl at the end of it... 

To make it have a curry flavour at the end of it, when cooking the onions, toss a tbsp of curry powder in. Any kind will do. It would add another dimension to it. Prefer curry paste? Also possible. Spoon the same amount in and stir to let the aromas release into the air.

Now come on...this is one good vegetarian soup I must say...

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 14 May 2012

Kitchen Utensils: The Apple Corer

(Image taken from Jamie Oliver)

Do you own an apple corer? I didn't until recently. Why? It only cores apples right? Not necessarily. I was watching a cooking program not too long ago (though this is fast becoming an obsession on my part) and when they were trying to create a hole in cupcakes, they used an apple corer! Now blimey...here I am wondering what do I do aside from using a knife to pierce the centre of the cupcake. 

As you know apple corers have a serrated edge to allow easier coring of an apple. That allows it to also easily borough through the cupcake. Once done, the excess cake can be removed and then using your piping bag filled with whatever filling / cream etc that you have opted to fill the cupcake, can then cover the whole section of the hole. Cool right? This would definitely add another dimension to your already conventional cupcake. 

Want to do more for your cake? Especially tray bakes, using an apple corer would definitely help in infusing your cream with the cake as the ganache or cream cheese frosting or whatever innovative concoctions have been made can seep better into the cake thus adding more than just a layer above but also within the cake.

Apple corers also don't necessarily have to be limited to apples. Chinese pears or nashi pears:

(Image taken from Aziatische-ingredienten.nl)

which have the consistency and size of an apple can also use the corer. And like a cake, you can spoon in caramelised walnuts and raisins into the centre of the pear or apple before baking it. Now that sounds yummy...

Hoping to at least provide more useful kitchen tips,
The Innovative Baker


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