Thursday, February 18, 2010


the first time i tasted rasam was last december, when i had a banana leaf rice lunch at a curry house. it's spicy and sour, and reminds one of tom yam, except that tom yam isn't packed with spices like rasam.

i had rasam and french toast for dinner last night, and i was pleasantly surprised with the various tastes. all i know is rasam isnt a shy delicate soup. it's bold and seduces you with it's range of tastes of cumin, tomato sourness, chilli and coriander leaves. it's definitely not for those who are not adventurous enough, but then what's the fun in only eating chicken soup or mushroom soup?

recipe for rasam

500g tomatoes, skinned (to do this, boil the tomatoes first and you'll find that the skins come off easily)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder (i roasted and pounded on my own, because the smell is stronger)
2 cm ginger, pounded
1 1/4 litres of water

put everything above in a pot and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom (i don't like the taste, so i only threw in 1)
1 tsp fennel
6 cloves
1 onion, sliced thinly
a sprig of curry leaves
chopped coriander leaves to be sprinkled

fry the dried spices above until the onion slices are translucent. add into the broth mixture. the recipe calls for adding salt while making broth, but i prefer to add in salt in the end.

serve with chopped corianderleaves.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Homemade Plum Jam

Hard times teaches us to be resourceful, and healthy living teaches us that it is better to go through the trouble and bring out all your pots and pans and have a wonderful homemade but preservative-free food.

with those two in mind, i bought south african plums from MaxValu last night - selling at rm1.69 per 100g (it was further reduced to rm1.49). well i thought that was cheap, so i bought a few (cost me rm5++), went home, and started to de-stone the dark purple fruits, cut them into small pieces, and cook them on the stove over a slow fire. i had the chance to pop a few pieces into my mouth, and they were heaven! the plums were ripe, and so they tasted not like the tart, unripe ones, but they tasted more like ripe peaches or nectarine!

when they're cooking on the stove, the red colour from the skin just melted and you will have deep dark almost fuschia like colour. you can add sugar if you want, and it might be better if you can add in some lemon zest and lemon juice. me, i just forgot to buy one last night. the quest for healthy eating has seen me buying no added sugar peanut butter, marmalade for the diabetics and olive oil fat spread. so it's no surprise when i decided to minimalise the sugar used in the jam making. initially i didn't want to add any sugar at all and thought the sweetness would help to mellow the tartness. i was dead wrong, because it was so tart, my face just wrinkled! so i added 2 tablespoons of sugar, and it was definitely an improvement. you should cook the fruits until the mixture is no longer runny. cool the mixture, and then store in an airtight container.

and this morning, in my excitement i ate my homemade bread with such gusto - the jam is a perfect consistency, but it's still taaaarrrttt!!!

anyway, the most important thing is to reduce eating processed food, and to eat cooked food that is not that oily not that sweet and the most most important thing is that, it is cooked with love.

Friday, November 27, 2009

lemon cream cake with homemade strawberry jam

everybody's perennial favourite is always chocolate cake or cheesecake but i don't want to stick to the norm and thought that it'd be interesting to make lemon cake, since the feasting would involve a lot of rich food. i thought the slight tartness would balance it. i studied some recipes and thought that it's best i use my own recipe. it's simple, actually. all i did was make a pound cake flavoured with lemon juice and zest, add in some sour milk.

here's the recipe:

250g pure butter

225g caster sugar
3 large eggs
250g flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk with some lemon juice added

zest of 1 lemon juice of 1 lemon
use creaming method, pour in one deep 8 inch pan or 2 shallow 8 inch pans and bake at 180C until it is cooked.

homemade strawberry jam

200g strawberries, sliced
some sugar
lemon juice

cook the berries with lemon juice. when they are soft, add in the sugar, to suit your taste. mine isnt that sweet because i want the tartness to stand out.


400ml whipping cream

some sugar lemon
whip all the ingredients.

to assemble
if you use a deep pan, slice the cake horizontally so that you have 2 pieces. on top of the first piece, spread a dollop of whipped cream and then the strawberry jam. put another piece of cake on top and cover the cake with the remaining cream. chill in the fridge as the cream cannot withstand warm temperature.

Friday, October 30, 2009

white bread (from All About Cookery)

when i was 12 years old, i was given a big brown book entitled "All About Cookery" by my brother who was in Liverpool Uni to do his M.A.

granted, i was ecstatic to receive such a huge book, but i was unsure how to cook everything. there were no interesting pictures to attract a12 year old girl. i was disappointed, and let my Filipino sis in law borrowed the book.

i asked for the book back when i was in my 20s. now a grown woman, i could appreciate the contents and what a treasure trove i have in there.

the book is divided into courses - so there are chapter on soups, starters, and then a separate chapter on fish, poultry and game, meat, suppers and snacks, vegetables and salads, puddings, baking, and even preserves and drinks.

it's a good thing i'm a hoarder.

this morning, without any storebought bread left, i contemplated what to make for breakfast. i finally decided on delicious but simple white bread, one that i used to bake every few days when i was in terengganu and fed me and my late mother for a few years.

this bread can be shaped into cob loaf, or cottage load or farmhouse loaf. it's a bit bland for my taste, so for those who like their bread a bit sweet, add some more sugar.

makes 4 500g loaves or 2 1kg loaves

1 tsp sugar
900ml lukewarm water
15g dried yeast
1.5kg strong flour
1 tb salt
25g margarine
salted water to glaze

stir the sugar into the water until dissolved. sprinkle the yeast on top and leave in a warm place until frothy.
sift the flour and salt into a bowl. rub in the margarine. make a well in the centre and put in the yeast liquid. mix to a firm dough.
turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or untilt eh dough is elastic and smooth. cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour and 1/2 or until doubled in size.
knock back the dough, then knead again for 5 minutes. divide the dough into four portions and shape each into a loaf. place in four greased 500g or two 1kg loaf tins. cover and leave to prove in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has risen to the tops of the tins.
brush the tops of the loaves with salted water, then bake in a preheated hot oven (230 celcius) for 30-40 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. cool on a wire rack.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Favourite Raya Cookies

butterscotch buttons - trust me, the taste is divine!

my favourite raya cookies are all simple cookies that have become a raya tradition. despite all the newcomers like Bunga Tulip or Mama Carie or Almond London, i always prefer the simple cookies. my favourites include:

1. Biskut Kacang/Mazola
2. Semprit
3. Chocolate Chip Cookies
4. Butterscotch Buttons
5. Biskut Arab

i'm always ambitious to bake a lot, but this year i baked only 2 types - Butterscotch Buttons and Biskut Arab. i don't like the ostentatious decorated cookies, nor the gaudy ones because you just know the taste is just ordinary. i place much importance on taste. the form isnt necessarily have to pass the aesthetics.

i like Butterscotch Buttons for their caramel taste. it's also very simple to make.

125g unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tb golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup self-raising flour.

beat butter with sugar, golden syrup and vanilla. sift in self-raising flour. the book instructs shaping the cookie by using teaspoon, by i prefer making small balls and flatten them with a fork. bake in 180C oven at 20 mins.

Biskut Arab

these cookies arent for those on a diet! i hope i can resist after a few. kak dah always told me that the ratio for flour and sugar is 2:1

500g flour
250g icing sugar
200g ghee, melted

rub in all the three ingredients. shape the dough into small balls. bake 170C at 20 mins.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Puding buih with custard

i think years ago i had written about my mother's puding buih. it is a jelly made of meringue, hence the name buih. my late mother would serve this during fasting month, simply because it is easy to digest and is cool to the throat and the sugar from the custard gives that instant energy that the tired body needs. for the family tahlil, i decided to make this puding buih, (and also my niece nana who had returned from KK had requested this). my filipina sister in law was nonplussed to see the puding, probably because most of the time i serve western desserts during the family gatherings. but later, when everybody dug in, my siblings reminisced the times when my mother served this - during fasting month. i think it's appropriate for me to make this dish, as it reminds us of my late mother.

for those of you pudding lovers, this is the recipe

1 packet of agar2
6 glasses water
3 tb sugar red food colouring
7 egg whites, beaten until stiff
rose essence

boil the agar2 with the water. when dissolved, add in the sugar and red colouring. add in meringue and rose essence, and fold in the meringue into the agar2 mixture. turn the fire off. pour the mixture into a larger bowl and beat until the meringue is incorporated into the jelly. a good puding buih will not have separate layers between meringue and non- meringue.


7 egg yolks

2 cans evaporated milk
sugar (i didnt measure this, so use your discretion)
vanilla essence
1 tsp cornflour (according to Delia Smith, this is to stabilise the custard)

Warm the milk on the stove. while warming, beat the yolks with the eggs. pour in the milk into the eggs gently, so that the yolks are not cooked. pour the egg mixture back into the pan and onto the fire, and stir. add in vanilla and cornflour and stir. the custard is cooked when there is a line when you run your finger across the back of the ladle or wooden spoon.

serve chilled.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Fudgy Brownies

since today i took another MC (i'm not playing hookie, i just have the flu bug), i decided to lie in and come afternoon i felt the sudden yearn for the denseness of brownies. i have so many recipe books and it's only right that i browse through the recipes. i found this recipe for Chocolate magazine by Better homes and garden. it's really dense and decadent, so you cant eat a lot. more like eating a slice of cheesecake.

1/2 cup butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, cut up (you can substitute with 9 tb of cocoa powder and 3 tb of fat, since an oz of chocolate is equivalent to 3 tb cocoa powder and 1 tb fat)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. preheat ovent o 180C. grease 8 x 8 x 2, set aside. in medium saucepan, combine butter and chocolate. cook and stir over low heat until melted. cool.
2. stir sugar into chocolate mixture. add eggs, one at a time, beating with wooden spoon just until combined. stir in vanilla.
3. in small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. add flour mixture to chocolate mixture stir just until combined. if desired, stir in nuts.
4. spread batter in prepared pan. bake for 30 mins. cool in pan on wire rack.