Food, Recipes from the Heart

Fudgy Jumbo Chocolate Muffins

Since being married, there’s two things I miss a lot – the oven at my mom’s place and my cat Chad. I live for the oven. A decent oven placed strategically makes cooking and baking a lot easier. It’s the star of the show when you’re preparing a few dishes on the stove – make something wonderful and stash it in the oven, time it and come back when it’s ready and voila! A meal or dessert done.

I always had a stash of cafe-style muffins in the fridge back when I was living with my mum. My mum, being obsessed over bananas, used to have plenty of overripe bananas which I forbade her to throw out. Mash them up, save it in the fridge or freezer, then chuck in into your chocolate muffin or chocolate cake batter. Ahh life’s simple pleasures, me thinks.

If there’s one thing I’m navigating through married life is that I’ve had to restart the process of making myself comfortable. You see, I was set on living a life at my mum’s place till I can afford and am eligible to get my own place (that’s when I hit 35 years old as a single woman). Then one day cupid came and I got myself married to a lovely man, and hey, I’m not complaining!

It’s difficult sometimes, but what is marriage without troubles, am I right? I do miss the kitchen I built with my mum, but in the mean time, allow me to scroll through Pinterest and plan our new house way in advance.

I was looking through my Instagram one day and I realised it’s been a long time since I baked muffins (also, I miss having a stand mixer ready and waiting on the kitchen countertop to be used). I remember bringing them to class one day, and my classmates went crazy. I remember bringing them to work and my colleagues hating me for spoiling their diet. And now, I have a memory of feeding them to Faeez so he won’t want to spend $5 at a cafe for a muffin I make at home.

Anyhoos, the secret to delicious chocolate muffins is in the cocoa. I only have Valhorna cocoa powder stocked in my pantry, and if I do run low on them and can’t swing by my go to place to get them, Ghirardelli chocolate cocoa powder from NTUC works perfectly fine.

Fudgy Jumbo Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cocoa powder (Valhorna)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 125g unsalted butter melted
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160deg.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add butter and sugar. Beat until sugar granules have dissolved and mixture is a pale yellow.
  3. Add vanilla and yoghurt then beat using a wooden spoon until incorporated.
  4. Add in all the dry ingredients and fold in to make sure the batter is well combined.
  5. Add in chocolate chunks or chocolate chips, then fold in to evenly distribute the chocolate to the batter.
  6. Using a muffin tray, line tray with muffin liners. Spoon batter into liners.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake skewer comes out clean.
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Pesto Pizza with Arugula

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If you have a sweet basil plant growing ridiculously out of control somewhere on your corridor, the easiest way to preserve all that precious delicate basil leaves is to make a pesto sauce out of it. And no, pasta isn’t the only thing you can make with that pesto sauce. One of my favourite dishes to make with the pesto sauce is actually pizza. It’s unconventional, but trust me, it’ll make your home made pizza experience a mind blowing one.

You could use store bought pizza crust, or simply a loaf of bread lying around somewhere in your pantry waiting to be used. No one is judging you for using store bought stuff! We’re not The Pioneer Woman raising cattle on a farm with no convenience store within 2km. But if you do decide to spend some time making handmade pizza dough, this recipe adapted from Laura Vitale is my go-to recipe. Again, don’t feel pressured to make your pesto from scratch. Jamie Oliver’s pesto sauce is the best alternative to a freshly made pesto.

Pizza Dough (Adapted from Laura Vitale)

3 ½ cups of All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/3 cups of Warm Water, 30deg
1 Envelope of Yeast

  1. In a mixing bowl, add yeast, sugar and water. Mix lightly with a fork and set aside for 10 to 15 mins to allow the yeast to activate.
  2. Add flour and knead until it comes together slightly.
  3. Add in olive oil and salt, and continue kneading until everything comes together.
  4. Using a dough attachment, knead using a standing food mixer for about 15 minutes on medium. Alternatively, you can hand knead for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Form dough into a ball, then place it in an oiled mixing bowl before covering using a plastic wrap or cloth. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.
  6. In the mean time, you can prepare your pesto sauce.
  7. Preheat oven to 200deg.
  8. After an hour, divide the dough into 2, and shape into a ball before rolling the dough out into 8 inch rounds.
  9. Cover with the used plastic wrap or cloth, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  10. Assemble the pizza by slathering the pesto sauce onto the pizza base and adding cheese of your choice. You could use vegan cheese to make this pizza entirely vegan.
  11. Bake in oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is browned and cooked.
  12. Serve with fresh arugula which has been rinsed and dried with a kitchen towel to remove excess water.

Pesto Sauce

2 cups fresh basil
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or any nuts of your choice – almonds and walnuts are nice too)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. In a food processor, add all ingredients and pulse.
  2. Blend until all the ingredients are fine and well combined.
  3. Keep in a jar and seal the pesto with a layer of extra virgin olive oil, or freeze into cubes for easy access to cooking.
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Recipes from the Heart

Kurious Kravings for Kway Teow Goreng

I have this bad habit of just cooking whatever I am craving for instead of buying it off from a shop somewhere, just like a normal person does. But you know what, it’s worth it and it has paid off because as tedious as it is to cook it on my own, there’s an immense sense of satisfaction when it gets in my tummy. Call me crazy, but trust me when I say there are other people worse than me.

As of late, a few of my friends who just got their new homes or recently changed their status to being a wife or having to manage a household have requested that I share or teach them how to cook because I seem to make cooking so easy. Not forgetting the few friends who have personally requested that I live with them just so I can cook for them on a daily basis. I make a great Couchsurfer by the way cos I’d be willing to wake up early just to make a delicious breakfast for y’all.

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So for you guys who don’t follow me on Instagram, here’s my twist to Kway Teow Goreng. Nothing fancy, but really just enough to fulfil them cravings and keeping it at bay.

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Method:

  1. Boil a kettle of water. Place kway teow noodles in a big bowl. Once water has come to a boil, pour the water over the kway teow and let it sit for about 3 minutes. Drain the water away and set aside.
  2. Heat about 5 tablespoons of oil in a wok on medium heat. Add in onion and fry for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in ginger and garlic and fry for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add in chilli paste and continue frying until the spice mix is tempered for about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Add in chicken, let it cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the squid and fish cake.
  6. Add in the drained kway teow and oyster sauce, light soy sauce and kicap manis.
  7. Stir well. Add in chives.
  8. Serve with fried egg and limau kasturi.
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Chocolate Never Disapppoints

The thing about keeping up with social media is that you tend to go through everything you wrote or uploaded in the past decade or so. While things I’ve written in my adolescence have since been buried, I think I only grew up in the last three years or so.

I used to write a lot. I wrote my heart out. I wrote my mind out. Writing kept me sane and my mind vibrant. I was always on a verbal diarrhoea. Writing was my way of communicating, even as a child. I was always told to keep my mouth shut, so I turned to writing. As I grew older however, I learned to keep quiet – even in my writing.

You see, I discovered photography. I discovered that life will always be throwing rotten lemons and tomatoes at you. I realised that no one really gives a hoots ass about what you have to say. Whatever struggles or cause you’re fighting for, there will be others who say you’re in no position to say the things you write about. I just gave up with writing because I could not deal with the naysayers.

Photographs, on the other hand, are amazing. They say a picture says a thousand words, which means with all of my photos combined, I would have published 10 papers or perhaps 3 novels. In another life, I could be a children’s book author if I had not been told that my stories were too wild, imaginative and far fetched without a local context (this happened to me when I was eight). In another life I could have been a journalist, if I had not been told that I don’t fit the bill as one. In another life, I would not have been the me I am today.

Perhaps I will continue disappointing those around me, or maybe I was meant for the thug life. Nothing good ever comes easy, am I right? I’m far from the success I want for myself. It’s not fair for someone else to tell me that I’m done and or that I should slow down. I will walk even faster, run if I must (though I literally hate running), just to prove a point that nothing good ever comes easy, and that time truly heals all wounds.

Just when we think we’ve figured things out, the universe throws us a curveball. So we have to improvise. We find happiness in unexpected places. We find our way back to the things that matter the most. The universe is funny that way. Sometimes it just has a way of making sure we wind up exactly where we belong.

– Grey’s Anatomy

I do find happiness in unexpected places. Some places, morbid. Others, bright and cheery. Whatever curveball the universe sends to me, I’ll be ready in a heartbeat.

Very Fudgy Chocolate Muffins

Adapted from Bright Eyed Baker

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Ingredients

2 cups plain flour

1 cup natural cocoa powder, sifted

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)

1 1/2 cups sour cream (I used 1 1/2 cups milk with 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

10 1/2 ounces chocolate chips and/or chopped chocolate (I didn’t measure the amount of chocolates I used!)

Method

  1. Beat oil, sugar and vanilla together till fluffy.
  2. Add in eggs and yolk, gradually.
  3. Add in all the dry ingredients except for the chocolates, and alternate with the sour cream.
  4. Beat until well combined.
  5. Add in chocolate chips and mix well.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  7. Serve with ice cream!
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Sea Salt Chocolate Tart

I miss baking. I had to force myself to get off my lazy arse to bake this. And that’s only because I had chocolates and some cream lying around in the fridge which I had to use before the expiry date. I’ve been very productive with my photography business, and I cannot thank God enough for making it happen for me.

If you noticed, I uploaded a few of my older articles onto this blog. I figured rather than let the articles go to waste, I should be letting you all read them! Sigh, blogging is so much more difficult now that there’s Instagram and Twitter. Wait, do people even use Facebook anymore?

This shall be a really quick post because as much I would love to share what’s been going on for me, I think I’ll let the photos do the talking again. Have fun with this recipe! It was major yums anyways.

Sea Salt Chocolate Tart

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Tart base (Taken from BBC Good Food)

225g plain flour

100g unsalted butter

A pinch of salt

3 tbsp cold water

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp water and mix to a firm dough.
  3. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.

Chocolate filling (Adapted from Jamie Oliver)

300g double cream

2 tsp caster sugar

A pinch of fine sea salt

200g 70% chocolate

  1. Heat the oven to 180 deg.
  2. Roll out the pastry made earlier onto a floured surface.
  3. Cover with baking paper, fill with dried beans and bake blind for 10-15 minutes, remove beans and bake again for 15 minutes until golden.
  4. Put the cream, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to the boil.
  5. Remove as soon as the mixture boils up.
  6. Off the heat, add the butter and chocolate. Stir until blended.
  7. Pour the chocolate onto the tart, and chill at room temperature for 2 hours before refrigerating it.
  8. Chill overnight. Sprinkle sea salt before serving.
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Poulet roti au vin rouge

Sometime last year, I went for Rachel Khoo’s meet and greet session at Kinokuniya. I haven’t gotten around to cooking any of the recipes from her My Little French Kitchen. It’s mostly because of the laziness and the fact that I have not been spending much time in the kitchen. But of course, my trip Down Under rekindled my love for food and especially food photography so I just had to try the simplest recipe in this book.

Let me be honest, I have about 10 recipe books lying around in my room but I’ve only had made about 10 recipes from the hundreds of recipes I have. Let’s just say I’m using the book as inspiration to my photography work. Truly though, some of the ingredients in my books are very difficult to come by. Not to mention how expensive they can be. I’ve yet to find any local celebrity chefs who have published a book that’s attractive enough for my eye. After all, I do get turned on by food photos and styling that are impeccable.

Anyways, the recipe calls for red wine, but for obvious reasons that I only eat halal, I replaced the wine with chicken stock instead. This would be a very fast and easy Ang Moh version of ayam masak merah, I think.

kanelbular-1Roast Red Wine Chicken – Le Halal Version (Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s My Little French Kitchen)

Serves 4-6 

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Marinating time: 30 minutes or overnight

Cooking time: 1 hour

150ml hot water

1 cube of chicken stock

100g tomato paste

3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked (I used rosemary because I was out of thyme – hahahha get it?)

3 sprigs of fresh marjoram, leaves picked (I used tarragon as I was in a major rut – okay I should stop)

100ml red wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces

salt and freshly ground black pepper (please do not ever use white pepper)

500g baby potatoes, washed and quartered

3 onions, peeled and quartered

6 carrots, peeled and quartered lengthways

  1. Wash and clean the chicken pieces. Rub them with a bit of salt to enhance the flavour of the chicken.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees under the grill setting.
  3. In a deep roasting pan, add hot water, tomato paste and chicken stock together and stir till the stock dissolves.
  4. Add in the apple cider vinegar.
  5. Rub chicken with the herbs of your choice, and generously add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Arrange the chicken nicely in the pan, and add in the onions, carrots and potatoes in between the pieces of chicken.
  7. Leave to marinate overnight or 30 minutes. I was too hungry so I placed it in the oven immediately.
  8. Cover the pan with a piece of aluminium foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. After the first 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue cooking the chicken for another 30 minutes, or until the skin is crisp.
  10. Serve with couscous or some freshly baked bread.
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Biscotti

Ever since I came back from Daylesford three weeks ago, I’ve been inspired to do a bit more baking and cooking in the kitchen. You see, I’ve been busy taking wedding and portrait photos that I lost touch on the very reason I picked up a camera – food. I used to make magic in the kitchen all the time. Now that I’m busy working, and the fact that I photograph food for Halalfoodhunt all the time, my kitchen skills got a bit rusty.

Thank god I still know my way around the kitchen. I scavenged my pantry and found enough things for me to make these. Here’s a quick biscotti recipe I adapted from here that’s great with coffee or some warm milk.

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  • 113 grams butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups self rising flour
  • half cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 200 grams dark chocolate

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet or sheet pan.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar, until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and beat well.
  4. Add flour to butter mixture and mix until incorporated.
  5. Divide  the dough in half and shape each half into a 9inch by 2 inch log.  The mixture will be quite sticky so wet your hands with cold water for easier handling.
  6. Place logs several inches apart.  The logs will spread, so allow 2-3 inches between logs.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool logs for 5 minutes.  Move logs to a wire rack to cool further, about 10-15 minutes.
  9. Slice the logs, using a serrated knife.
  10. Place the slices cut side down onto an ungreased cookie sheet or sheet pan.
  11. Bake 5 minutes, turn the slices to the other cut side and bake for 5 more minutes.
  12. Cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight container.
  13. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler.
  14. Dip half of the biscotti lengthwise into the chocolate.
  15. Serve with hot coffee or warm milk.
  16. Keep in the fridge as our tropical climate is bad for the chocolate!
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