Aug 31, 2010

Once upon a time...

No, this is NOT the starting line for a fairy tale story. More like me looking back in wonder. Of the days I used to bake and sell my cookies, little muffins and low sugar fruit cakes. And then even longer back in time, I used to cook and sell my sambal pastes. Not so much for the profit of it, but more to practice and hone in my chilli pastes perfection.

And ever since I started Kitchen Capers forum, I slowly stop hiding my recipes. I started to share more. And when I started teaching culinary, I stopped hiding it altogether. Now all my recipes can be found everywhere. Namely in my own KC forum, sometimes you will find it at C2C.Net, an American all CHEFs website and forum, or the occasional food blogger's pages, at MCDC(Malaysian Cake Decorator's Community) and even at the Human Flower Project website.

The next step was to get some of these PRINTED because not everyone is on a computer. Call me old-school whatever, I still like to refer to instructions on paper, printed media..not the Internet. I know its much easier to search for it.

The good thing to report is Wiltshire Australia has ask for my permission to print my recipes onto a recipe card. And these will be distributed with their bake ware products. And its sold worldwide, or at least to the Western world. In Asia, Wiltshire Singapore will do likewise and distribute their Bake ware products to Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia..

I have kept really busy and literally on my toes. So if you go to Kitchen Capers website and don't see any major movement in my classes, its because I have been stretched really thinly lately.

By October, our classes at Robinsons will be uploaded at KC website and linked to Robinson's website too. In due time, I will be getting more baking instructors to teach with me at Robinsons. I cannot run the classes alone as I have to run my shop too. But when you see the classes offered by KC, it will have a variety for you to choose..from simple cooking to complex traditional cuisines to baking for beginners to beyond.

I hope to engage an enrichment school to run baking classes for little Tots from 3 years to older kids at 12 years old. I just wanted to make this appeal to all who have been loyally supporting me all these years, be it in my classes or my forum and my shop too.

on the lighter side...here's some old photos of the stuff I use to bake and sell. These recipes and its secrets will be taught when I teach at Robinsons. See you...

Jade lion (Gummy candy)



Home made Cheese Foccacia


Chocolate Mint Cookies..the secret ingredient is the Polo Mint used in this recipe



Beef Noodles...NOTE: Teaching this in November 2010 at Robinsons..My late grand dad heirloom recipe.

Aug 28, 2010

Family Secrets

Its not a big secret when it comes to cooking good food for your family and friends. Today, Benny wanted to eat Hokkien Hay Mee T'ng(Prawn Noodles soup) so he has been stocking up our kitchen and pantry with many 'secret' ingredients.

Ru-shin asked me for our family recipe at Facebook, I decided to share this online on my blog as it can be accessed by everyone.

Here's my mom's secret to a good Hokkien Hay Mee T'ng..as good as the ones at Whitley Road in Singapore..!
It took me over 2 hours to cook this..Just one dish!. Talk about the labour of love!




Serves a family of 10 persons
Ingredients for stock
3 litre of water
2 kg of large tiger prawns
2 pcs Dried sole fish(deep fried till crispy, drained)



70ml Fish sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 pc of brown slab sugar



4 pcs of fried fish cake, sliced
2 packets of yellow noodles(from supermarket)
200g bean sprouts
400g water spinach(kang kong)
200g lean pork

garnishings
toasted onions
toasted garlic bits
onion oil
sliced red chilli

Method to cook the stock
1. Use a large stock pot, add water to boil.
2. Once it boils, add all the prawns in to cook over high heat for 3 mins.
3. Quickly drain and dump the cooked prawns in a large bowl of ICED water. Leave it to stand for 5 mins.
4. While the water is still boiling, add the rest of the stock ingredients to cook.
5. Drain prawns and peel away all shells, heads, set side the shells.
6. Devein, sliced prawns into 2, keep chill till ready to serve.
7. In a wok, add 50ml of cooking oil to heat. Add prawn heads/shells to fry for 10 mins.
8. Pour everything back into the stock to cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.


Method to cook the lean pork
1. When stock is boiling, add chicken fillet to cook for 10 mins.
2. Remove and drain. Cool completely before slicing.
3. Set aside for garnishing.

Method to cook the vegetables
1. Use a wok to heat up with water.
2. Once boiling, blanch bean sprouts for 2 mins, drain and set aside.
3. Let it boil again..then add water spinach. Blanch for only 30 secs as water spinach cooks instantly.
4. Drain and set aside.

5. Use the wok of water to briefly blanched the yellow noodles to remove the alkaline smell.

To serve
1. Add desired amounts of noodles in a bowl.
2. Garnish with vegetables, prawns, pork, fish cake slices.
3. Add generous amount of hot soup over it.
4. Garnish with toasted onions, garlic and serve with chilli on the side.

Notes
The soup will turn red if you use Black Tiger Prawns.
If you use grey prawns, the soup will remain clear.
Leftover soup stock can be kept in the fridge for upto 1 week.

Aug 26, 2010

Lord, I Give you my Heart



I wake up every day at around 7:30am. Breakfast is just a cup of hot coffee with cream, sugar. And I sat down to start my day at home. Reading emails, surfing the NET, research, etc.

Often enough, I spend 15 minutes in total isolation, quietness and this is the time I spent with Him. With God. I will tell Him of what I wanted to do, and I would ask Him to help me through each day. And I would tell Him about my friends. Those who needed help in small ways or big. And I would also tell Him about my family, my mom, my dad, my sister, my aunt or my uncle or my cousins who lived faraway from me. To bless them and to keep them safe. And when I ask Him to keep them safe, He often makes me cry, to shed tears. And these are not tears of sadness..but tears to touch my heart and rest my soul that knowing that He is watching over them, every moment of their lives.

And lastly, I would tell Him my troubles. All the things I feared and in ending, I ask only for one thing for myself :

His undying Love and Strength that keeps me going. To do the things I do each day. To keep smiling even a storms blocks my path.

And with that, I ended my quiet time with God. I felt re-charged with full battery life. Ready to conquer the day's struggles. And when the night comes, I rested again.

The next day, my day starts at 7:30am. A cup of coffee and 15 minutes with Him. And I say to Him

"Thank You, Father..for answering my prayers again. Thank you for each day you have given me. The joys it brings, the sadness sometimes..but you never fail me to show me that out of sadness, I get peace and joy in ways I cannot comprehend sometimes. And each day You teach me what I must do and how I can learn from it.

In Jesus' Name I pray, AMEN!"

My dad was the person who first showed me what is quiet time really meant. I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom..and in the corner of the living room, I would see a shadowy figure, knees on the floor, hands clutched together, head bowed...in prayer.

This happened years ago when I was still a teenager. He would sleep early every night around 8pm and wakes up at around 3am. And he would spend his first wakeful minutes with God. In silence, in prayers and I remembered at that time we have a small Pomeranian named Jimmy. Jimmy would sit by him and when my dad had finish his prayers, he would lift up his hands in the air to praise God..

and little Jimmy would sit up straight, wagging his tail vigorously...

And everyday without fail, my dad would spend his early hours with God. Then he would go back to bed for a short nap. By 5am, he is fully awake and starts his day.

As the years past, I remember his posture, this moment in time. And my dad always tell me,

"Quiet time means your time with God. With Him alone, no disturbances from outside, no Radio playing in the background, no phone rings...All He wants is 15 minutes of your time. Is that so hard to do? He gives you 1440 minutes a day, all He wants is your 15 minutes. No matter how busy you are, the things you have to do each day, can you set aside just 15 minutes out of your 1440 minutes for Him?"

and my dad continues to say :

"In 15 minutes, He gives you the strength for day, hope for tomorrow and the world at your feet. So you can carry on and be blessed by it all. And in turn, you can bless others because He blesses you each day..."


My dad continues to inspire me this way. And though I don't live with him anymore, my mom says he still wakes up at 4am and still have his quiet time. Now that he has fully retired from church as a English/Mandarin translator for the publications department, he spend more time reading the Bible in 2 languages and is learning Hebrew so that he can read the Bible in Hebrew too.

AMEN!

May this post inspire you to continue your daily walk with God and your quiet time with Him.

Aug 17, 2010

My Favourite Cupcake

The only cupcake I grew up knowing and eating and loving it was this..

the humble Chinese Steamed Egg cake. Most of the times, you will see this in a large bowl set and often placed on altars for prayers. Sometimes you get to buy these little cupcakes from a local bakery or cake shop. Its often decorated with a little red dot.




It reminds me of my early childhood years. The only type of 'cupcake' that my mom would make for us. And it was steamed. Just 3 basic ingredients ; Eggs, Sugar, flour. I remember seeing her holding a large bowl under her arm, with a whisk on the other hand, whisking eggs and sugar non stop. She would paused to check the consistency and if its not up to her standard, she whips again. Then she would sift the flour into the bowl of whipped and fluffy batter and pour into little cups to steam.

It was just so simple. No additives, no preservatives, no chemicals used. And this often reminds me of what my doctor told me time and time again :

"Mdm Choong, remember how our mothers used to make cakes? without baking soda, baking powder or any chemicals? You should learn the old ways and learn to bake cakes without these chemicals. Its harmful to your health. Its time you cut back on using man-made chemicals in your food"

And so my journey starts...to revamp all the recipes I knew and learn from various places, books or websites and rework it without chemicals. Its seems like a life long journey..but I am seeing the results of this.

For the last 8 years, I stopped taking baked foods that has baking powder/soda in it. I have not picked up any flu virus or cold virus from anyone who was ill. Somehow it boosts my immunity. Maybe its a thought, you may say..but I see the end results of all that I have tried. I don't fall sick at all. Should I take MC from work, it must be really serious.

Okay, I do get the occasional food poisoning from eating food that don't agree with my stomach. This often happens whenever I travel and eat out on my own. I tend to get a bit too adventurous sometimes.

And whenever I visit the doctor, he praises me for making that effort. And thus, whenever I teach, I omit all the chemicals in the recipes too. And show to the students that without all the baking soda or powder, the cake still rises.

I had to try this to see....I added Barry Callebaut cocoa powder into the egg batter just to try out.. the balloon effect is caused by over whipping the eggs..

A twist from an old favourite.



Chocolate Bomb Bomb
Recipe by Gina Choong

Ingredients

8 eggs(55g each minus shell)
250g fine sugar
210g Cake Flour
30g Barry Callebaut Cocoa powder

Method:
1. In a mixing bowl, add eggs and sugar to whip till frothy and fluffy..about 15 minutes.
2. Sieve cocoa powder into cake flour
3. Turn off the mixer, fold in gently so as not to break down the air bubbles.
4. Pour into cupcake liners to the brim(full)..and steamed over high heat for 10 minutes.
5. Serve warm...

Aug 14, 2010

Food Glorious Food



I became extremely curious about food, not as much as eating it. But more like how its made, cooked or prepared. All the credits goes to Benny. He would often tell me of a certain food joint that serves the best kuay teow or the best char siu pau and ask if I knew how to cook it.

So that started my interest in it. He loves Kong Bak Pau or Stewed Pork Bun. Its a steamed bun(pau), stuffed with stewed pork belly. Today I have time, lots of it. So decided to make some for supper tonight.

Home made mantou are NOT the prettiest thing to look at. But who cares? It tastes as good as the real thing from stalls in Singapore. That is what counts, plus, its made with lots of sweat, pain and most of all : LOVE



Here's my mantou recipe for you to try at home. :

Plain Mantou
Recipe by Gina Choong

Ingredients
500g Hong Kong Flour(sometimes called Pau Flour)
100g fine sugar
1 tbsp instant yeast
250ml water
1.5 tsp Double Action Baking Powder

2 tbsp vegetable shortening

Method
1. In a mixing bowl, add water, followed by flour and the rest of the ingredients, except Shortening
2. Using a hook paddle, turn on the mixer to knead for 5 mins or until dough forms and leaves the sides of the bowl.
3. Remove mixer bowl and cover the bowl to proof in a warm place for 30 minutes.
4. When the dough has risen, double in size, remove and knead/roll on a floured table(flour it with HK Flour)
5. Cut into rounds, spread a little shortening on top, fold into half and set aside to proof for another 15 minutes.


6. Then heat up a steamer, add the mantou on it and steam on high for 5 minutes. Remove when its done.


7. Best to keep inside a ziplock bag to prevent it from drying out.

Kong Bak
Recipe By Gina Choong

Ingredients
1kg pork belly(local word is 3 layer pork 三层肉 ) : cut into 3 cm lengths..
1 pc Cinnamon stick
2 pcs star aniseed
3 pcs cloves


100ml Dark Soya sauce
50ml Light Soya sauce
300g sugar
500ml water

Method:
1. In a wok add spices to fry till its fragrant. Then add sauce mix to cook till it boils.
2. Add in pork belly to cook.
3. Transfer into a slow cooker and cook for 2 hours till tender.
4. Serve with steamed mantou or great with plain porridge or rice.

Notes
If you have lots of sauce leftover, do not discard this. Keep it in an airtight container to be stored in the freezer. Keeps indefinitely. To use, just thaw, add water to boil. Then add meat to slow cook again.

and lastly, I also baked some bread today..made my home made kaya..showing you pictures only..recipes are all at KC Forum.

Dinner rolls with 2 types of home made kaya
Green is Pandan Kaya
Brown is Gula Melaka Kaya...smooth, creamy, and smells of good Gula Melaka from Malacca(a gift from my student)


More dinner rolls..plain, nothing inside and so Benny complains..where's the meat??? That was how I ended up making Kong Bak Pau


Pandan kaya was spread on the dough, roll up and made into Pandan kaya rolls


Gula melaka kaya was stuffed into the dough, rolled up, sealed and baked inside a loaf pan.



The breads were for me to 'rehearse' as my students pestered me endlessly for a Bread workshop. Its been over 3 years I stopped making bread at home..Why? Because I am just getting too tired, and too lazy for it. No one eats bread at home...except me. Benny isn't a bread person, more like a pau person..

Well, today, I made everyone happy.

Aug 10, 2010

Eat and be Happy

Yesterday was Singapore's National Day, 45 years of independence. 45 years of blood and tears, sweat and toil, where our Leaders help to build and shape the nation to what it is today. And what better way to celebrate this day than to spend it with loved ones.

Benny and I decided to close our store earlier at 7pm. While I stayed at home the whole day to prepare a feast with my parents, sis and my brother in law, Benny worked at the store till 6 plus and closed to come home for dinner.

I had the whole day to myself, so I decided to make a few desserts that the family loved. First of all is Huat Kueh, the traditional rice flour steamed cakes which my mom loved to eat but never found the time to make.



It was made with the Bai Mi Jiu Liang or White Rice Wine residule. And it took another 8 hours to ferment. I had it steamed at 5pm. Just in time for dinner.

I realised that I didn't have those tiny tea cups anymore so had to use mini cupcake liners for it. Turn out to be such a pretty bunch. But later removed the liners ...




Next is Gui Ling Grass Jelly dessert..this is fail proof. From a packet of pre mix which I sell in my store. A hit with all at home. We had this with Maple syrup instead of honey. It was really good. Especially after dinner..smooth, silky and cold.



And lastly, something my mom also liked..the sago pearls in rich gula melaka syrup. I didn't make a lot. Just enough for tasting. Its only after I made it, I found out I didn't have coconut cream. The shops near my home are closed. So I use pandan sago pearls for the flavour and added more gula melaka instead.




We had Steamboat and Teppanyaki for dinner. Everything was prepared at home. For the steamboat soup, we had Herbal Chicken soup on one side and Curry chicken gravy on the other side.

Teppanyaki was just BBQ of chicken wings, shabu-shabu Beef, sausages, prawns, squids, etc.








our dog, Jing Jing had to be locked up in the balcony because my mom is slow in movement. And Jing Jing is very hyper. After dinner around 8 plus..had to show you my cuckoo clock :




side track..this is our third Cuckoo Clock. We loved this kind of clocks..because it serves not just to keep time but be a part of the home and furnishing.

Jing Jing getting a rub behind her ears when we cleared the table and no traces of food tidbits for her..that will do, she will probably say..no food, but a good rub!





After that, I just plonked in bed and watched re-runs on DVD. Melody and I watched Oliver! the Musical.

Aug 3, 2010

Another door opens...



I will be offering all of my classes at Robinsons(Centrepoint Shopping Centre at Orchard Road) by November 2010. So my classes at home will ceased by end October 2010.

When you visit Robinsons at Centrepoint sometime end of the year, you will notice that Kitchen Capers logo on the glass panel at the Baking Studio at Level 5..houseware department.

Kitchen Capers will be hosting culinary classes there. Almost every day. Personally, there is no change of my current teaching schedule. Instead of running these classes at home, I now do it at Centrepoint. At least now, my students cannot tell me I am very far away or there is no bus or MRT to my place.

I will teach on Saturdays and Sundays there. Together with me will be 3 other home chefs. Each of them will specialise in a particular subject which they do best.

Meng Choo will teach once a month at Robinsons. She will impart her sugar craft skills to the students. You can see her work via her blog

Halimah, a fellow KC forum member will also be teaching at Robinsons. She will cover Vegan Baking(no eggs, no butter) and also Healthy lifestyle cooking.

Sandy Goh will be teaching baking and also sugarcraft on cakes, cookies.

For me, I will teach baking, and cooking(mostly Asian cuisine). And the occasional Fondant figurines modelling too. I am planning to run a series of noodles making and bread making classes at Robinsons in the near future.

Here's how equipped the baking studio is :





This, to me, is another door open for me. I have always wanted a place of my own to teach culinary. Although the Wiltshire baking studio is owned by Robinsons, I was given the chance to run my courses there and to broadcast about my store at the same time.

All of us have set aside our time to plan our classes from November 2010 till January 2011. We will still planning more for the months ahead.

The classes will be Full Hands-on. Maximum intake per class is 8 persons. Minimum to start is 4 persons. Every student will be getting a goody bag when they come for class. There will be free flow of freshly brewed tea or coffee for all students.

The whole purpose was to teach, to impart our skills to everyone and yet have a comfortable and cozy environment almost like home.

Stay tuned for further updates via the main Kitchen Capers website this October.

This is yet another milestone for Kitchen Capers..especially when she just celebrated her 6th year in WWW. Each year, a new door opens for her to grow.

Thanks to all who have supported her in the forum, in the shop and in all my classes since 2004.

God Bless You!