Food, Recipes from the Heart

Ondeh-Ondeh Cupcakes

Lately, there has been a craze for kampung cupcakes in Singapore. Furthermore, since Halalfoodhunt has been running for the past six months, people have been coming to me to ask for such kampung cupcake recipes. Alright, let pause for a while and allow me to explain what kampung cupcakes are.

Kampung cupcakes are cupcakes inspired by flavours of traditional Malay kuih such as ondeh-ondeh, kuih talam, putri salad and many more.

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When I first discovered about kampung cupcakes, I was apprehensive about making them. As much as I appear to be modern and all, I still love my traditional Malay kuih the way they are. Then, I succumbed to peer pressure and relented. I had to try making this ondeh-ondeh cupcake, especially since Fluffbakery keeps having their sold out. I totally winged this recipe. I made minor adjustments to a vanilla cupcake recipe, and basically followed my gut. So before I forget the recipe (I have a habit of not taking note of my recipes), here it is.

Feedback from my friends is that the taste of coconut is not overpowering, and the infusion of gula melaka and real pandan extract makes you forget you’re eating a cupcake. I hope this recipe will work fine for you!

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Ondeh-Ondeh Cupcake

makes 12 cupcakes

Real Pandan Extract

1 huge bunch of pandan leaves, cut into smaller pieces

1/2 cup water

  • Blend the pandan leaves and water together in a blender.
  • Strain the pandan juice through a fine sieve, or a cheesecloth if you prefer.
  • Squeeze out as much juice as you possibly can.

Pandan Cupcake

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups caster sugar

125g unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tablespoons real pandan extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg.
  2. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt through a fine sieve. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar together until white and fluffy.
  4. Add in eggs, one at a time.
  5. Add flour mixture, alternating with milk and the pandan extract.
  6. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl and beat for another minute or two until the batter is well incorporated.
  7. Divide the batter equally into a muffin tin that has been lined with cupcake liners.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15 to 17 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  9. Ensure that the cupcakes are cooled down to room temperature before you core and fill them.

Pandan gula melaka filling

200g gula melaka, cut into smaller pieces

150ml water

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

  1. In a pan, add the water to the gula melaka and let it simmer on the stove for about 10 minutes, or until all the sugar has been dissolved and the sugar solution thickens.
  2. Let cool to room temperature before adding the desiccated coconut and mix it well.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 cup desiccated coconut

  1. Beat whipping cream with sugar and vanilla on medium high until stiff peaks.
  2. Gently fold in the desiccated coconut into the cream.
  3. To assemble, core the cupcakes, then fill in with the filling and pipe the coconut whip cream on top as desired.
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

The Perfect New York Cheesecake

I’ve made a few cheesecakes in my life. Some of them dry and heavy, others too sweet and tangy. Yesterday, I made the perfect New York Cheesecake. It came out with a beautiful flat top, no cracks and a perfect height for my liking. I was almost in tears.

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I realised the secret was a lot of patience. All in all, a cheesecake is very easy to make. It is how you bake it that makes a difference. I’ve tried making cheesecakes with and without a water bath, and at different temperatures. After watching a few YouTube videos, I finally found the perfect method. I was jittery throughout the 2 hours the cake was in the oven so I had to force myself to keep calm and watch an episode or two of Orange is the New Black on my laptop. But trust me. It was worth it.

This is probably the only recipe I know by hard because it’s actually my sister’s recipe. Hehe perks of being bullied into helping them I suppose.

New York Cheesecake

200g chocolate digestives (I used the ones from Marks and Spencers)

80g melted butter

3 packs of Philadelphia cream cheese (softened to room temperature)

200ml Bulla Premium Sour Cream (you can use light sour cream too)

1 cup caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

juice from half a lemon

3 eggs

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.
  2. Blitz the digestives in a food processor. Add the melted butter and mix well. Press the biscuit base into the base of the spring-form pan to form a crust of about 1 centimetres. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Using a mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar till fluffy, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in vanilla essence and lemon juice.
  4. Gradually add eggs, one at a time and be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to mix everything well.
  5. Add in sour cream and give the batter one last mix.
  6. Before pouring the batter into the spring form pan, wrap the bottom of the pan with aluminium foil. This will prevent any leakages or any water from the water bath leaking into the pan.
  7. Place the spring form pan in a bigger baking pan. Fill the bigger pan with hot water.
  8. Pour the cheesecake batter into the spring form pan. Make the top as neat and smooth as possible. Cover the top with a piece of aluminium foil.
  9. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for an hour. After an hour, continue to bake but remove the aluminium foil on top. Bake for another 30-40 minutes, until the top has a nice brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  10. DO NOT TAKE THE CAKE OUT OF THE OVEN. Switch off the oven, and leave the door of your oven slightly ajar by placing a wooden spoon to keep it open. Leave it in the oven for another 45 minutes. This will prevent the cake from cracking due to the sudden change in temperature.
  11. Take the cake out and remove from water bath and let it cool for another 2 hours before placing in the fridge overnight.
  12. Cake is best served chill with coffee on the side. Enjoy!
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Food, Love, Musings, Recipes from the Heart

Beef Stew with Focaccia

It’s day 9 of Ramadhan and somehow I’ve taken over my mum’s kitchen for good. I’m enjoying this gap year very much – taking photos, cooking, experimenting with new recipes, traveling – basically doing a lot of what I love. I’ve lasted seven months of freelancing thus far and life seems great right now. Alhamdulillah, the doors of rizq (wealth/earnings – there doesn’t seem to be an apt English word for it) are always open. I cannot thank Him enough for His bountiful blessings on me and my family.

I have been cooking a lot this Ramadhan, except for the days I am forced to iftar outside, I’m practically in the kitchen. It helps that HalalFoodHunt lets me hone my photography skills and develop recipes from the comforts of my home. If you’re wondering what this HalalFoodHunt is, click on it and check it out. You won’t regret it, well, unless you’re still fasting at this time of the day ’cause all you’ll see are food, food and more food.

This is my first time making this stew, and I’m pretty stoked by the results. I read up on a few recipes, mainly Jamie Oliver’s, Nigella as well as At Home with Magnolia Bakery. Since I’ve been under-utilizing my cookbooks, I forced myself to use the one from Magnolia Bakery. I altered the recipe here and there in terms of method but the ingredients are pretty much the same. The recipe calls for red wine but for obvious reasons, I switched it with chicken stock instead. I served the stew with some homemade focaccia bread and they were a hit with my mum and brother. Speaking of which, I think I’ll put up the recipe for the focaccia up soon.

Beef Stew (Adapted from At Home with Magnolia)

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Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil

One large red onion, diced

Three shallots, finely sliced

Half a knob of garlic, chopped

300g premium beef, cubed

2 heap tablespoons of plain flour

1 tablespoon of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

One carrot, diced

One celery stick, diced

One can of chopped pomodoro tomatoes

One tablespoon tomato paste

One cube of chicken stock

Three medium sized russet potatoes, cut into chunks

 

Method:

  1. In a deep pot, heat up oil on a medium heat.
  2. Sautee onion and shallots till fragrant. Add in garlic.
  3. In a bowl, rub in flour, paprika, salt and pepper with the meat. Ensure all of the meat is coated.
  4. Add in the meat with all of the remaining flour mixture into the pot. Fry all sides of the meat.
  5. After the meat has browned, add in carrots and celery, and mix well.
  6. Add in tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, and 2 cups of water into the pot.
  7. Simmer on low heat for 2 hours, remember to stir constantly.
  8. Add in potatoes and continue to cook for another half and hour, stirring every now and then.
  9. Serve with bread or on a bed of rice.

 

 

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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Kopi and Ondeh-Ondeh on a Sunday Afternoon

I went for a paintball session with some of my friends yesterday morning and somehow the paintball pellets remind me of ondeh-ondeh. Naturally, I had a sudden craving for them. I’m starting to like making traditional Malay food and sweets. As much as they are very tiring and troublesome to make, I realised that if I don’t start archiving traditional Malay recipes, I might not have anywhere to refer to. Okay there’s probably a lot of Malay cookbooks out there but for some reason I’m not motivated to make them unless I have a huge craving for them. My mother has been bugging me to learn her recipes because she fears the day she turns senile (god forbid) I wouldn’t be able to cook any of her specialties.

“Jangan nanti bila aku dah nyanyok, kau tak tahu masak rendang, roti boyan ni semua. Habislah menangis aku dua puluh empat jam!”

She pretty much worries for her stomach and tastebuds rather than her health as she get older. Oh mother.

So this was a simple afternoon tea snack we had yesterday. Little green balls of goodness.
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Ondeh-Ondeh

250g glutinous rice flour

200ml pandan juice (I extracted the juice from about 13 pandan leaves)

1 teaspoon salt

150g gula melaka

100g desiccated coconut

  1. Combine glutinous rice flour, salt and pandan juice together in a bowl
  2. Knead until dough comes together and is malleable. Add more water if necessary.
  3. Divide the dough into small balls.
  4. Cut gula melaka into small cubes.
  5. Roll the small balls and flatten them. Place gula melaka in the flattened dough and roll the dough back into balls.
  6. Repeat until you finish the dough.
  7. Boil salted water and drop the ondeh-ondeh into the pot. Cook for about 5-6 minutes before picking them out.
  8. Strain the balls before rolling them onto the desiccated coconuts.
  9. Serve!
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Reminiscing Europe: Freshly Baked Loaves of Bread

What do I miss most about Europe apart from the wonderful weather? The bread. There is just something about the loaves of bread I had while traveling the continent last year. The crisp cracking sound of the bread as you bite into it, and the moist and soft texture of the insides – you could eat the bread just on its own, but spreading a little butter and jam seemed like heaven on earth to me. When I got home, I knew my standard of quality for good bread has gone off the roof. I’ve tried buying bread from local bakeries and even the upscale ones in the heart of expat living here in Singapore. Sadly, none of them satisfied my extremely decadent tastebuds. In local speak, the European bread I had spoil market for the bread made locally.

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My friend, Shireen, has an amazing mother who makes bread almost every weekend. We call her Ahjumma Shima, partly because she love her Korean dramas and also that is her Instagram handle. If you want to see pictures of lovely bread filling your instagram feed, do follow her @ahjumma_shima. Each time she uploads a picture, I almost lick my phone screen call her up for the recipe.

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While in Paris, I had the chance to attend two baking courses with La Cuisine Paris; a macaron baking workshop as well as a baguette and boulangerie workshop. The chef taught us to make bread using fresh yeast, so as usual, I had to substitute the finest ingredients for mediocre ones. Le sigh. Anyhoos, this bread recipe is pretty amazing, and I’m glad it worked really well for me. I am one who usually has no patience to wait when it comes to food (yes yes is it so hard to believe haha). I had to distract myself while waiting for the bread to rise by watching Big Bang Theory (of which I tend to scare my mother with the occasional bursts of laughter). I got this recipe from An Oregon Cottage. I could not find whole wheat flour, so I used whole wheat German rye flour instead. Still tastes awesome!

Now wait. I’m beginning to think this German rye flour is the secret to delicious bread…

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Wholewheat Soft Bread (Makes 2 loaves)

  • 6 to 6-1/2 c. whole wheat flour (I used wholewheat German rye flour)
  • 2-1/2 cups warm water (don’t use hot water! it kills the yeast!
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten- aka bread improver (you can omit this)
  1. Combine water, yeast and 2 cups of the flour in a mixing bowl. Set aside to sponge for 15 minutes.
  2. Add honey, oil, salt, (gluten if using), and 4 cups of flour. Mix until dough starts to clean sides of bowl. Change to dough hook (or turn out to knead by hand), and knead 6 to 7 minutes (10 by hand). Add only tablespoons of flour if dough sticks to sides, being careful not to add too much.
  3. Form into two loaves and place in greased 9×5″ pans. Allow to rise in a warm place for about 60 minutes (1-2 inches above pans). Preheat oven to 350 ten minutes before rising time is done.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through if needed.
  5. Immediately remove from pans to cool on a rack.
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Lunch for the Broken Soul

I am exaggerating. I do not have a broken soul. I just have a sprained ankle. I was walking to the bus stop with a friend and suddenly the next thing I knew, I was on the ground. Thank god my friend was there to help me up. I suppose this is God’s way to remind me that I need to rest and not exert my body. I’ve been working out 5-6 times per week since the year started, and surprisingly, I’ve not had a day to myself despite being self-employed.

Speaking of which, my friend Munirah from Snaprolls recently join the self-employed/unemployed/taking a gap year club. I jokingly told her over twitter we should get a new hashtag going on instagram called #unemployedbakes. She totally bought the idea! Check out #unemployedbakes on instagram and join us in the fun. I mean, we need some excitement especially since we found ourselves out of a job for the time being.

Today, I forced myself to sleep in on such a lovely Sunday morning. Ibu came in to check on my ankle and made sure I could walk a bit before leaving for her class. I dozed in and out of sleep while trying to watch The Book Thief. It’s 130 minutes, guys. I forgot how draggy and long war-based films can get. When the film ended, I finally decided to grab a bite so I used whatever leftovers I had in the fridge, which included sausages, milk from 3 different cartons (I really don’t know why my brother has a habit of drinking milk halfway and not finish the carton), a small knob of butter (leftover from one of my baking sessions) and some cheese.

This is a fairly simple recipe. Give it a go if you feel like you need some comfort food.

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Mac ‘n’ Cheese

1 and a half cups of macaroni

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 heap tablespoon plain flour

1 cube of chicken or beef stock

1 cup of sliced sausages, at room temperature

1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oven to 200 deg centigrade.
  2. Boil water in a pot, add 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook pasta as instructed on package. Drain and place inside a pyrex dish.
  3. In a medium sized saucepan, melt butter and add in flour as butter is melting. Whisk quickly.
  4. Add in milk, half of the cheese and beef stock. Whisk until all is well-combined.
  5. When the cheese sauce is starting to thicken, switch off the fire and add to the macaroni. Add sausages and use a fork to mix everything together. Ensure the pasta is well coated with the cheese sauce.
  6. Top the pasta and sauce with the remaining cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 30 mins or until the top is golden brown.
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

There’s Always Room for Cake

Last Thursday, I turned 24 years young. The week leading up to my birthday was a bit crazy because I was busy with my 24hourselfie project. If you haven’t seen it already, do drop by and take a look. It’s my interpretation of what self-portraits are.

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Of course, I squeezed in time to bake my birthday cake. This year, I decided on Pick Yin’s Ombre Pandan Cake with Gula Melaka Frosting, although I decided on a cream cheese based frosting. Meringues still scare me. Sigh. Anyways, the cake is best eaten at room temperature, or heat it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds if you’ve placed it in the fridge for a while. I still have difficulty in convincing my family to eat it because they are hardcore chocolate lovers, and they were expecting a Red Velvet Cake (which is so 2012). Another sigh. But trust me, I’m a true PBG at heart. This is for you non-chocolate lovers.

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Pandan Ombre Cake with Gula Melaka Frosting

For the extract

  • 15-20 pieces mature pandan leaves, washed and snipped into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 tablespoons water

Whiz everything up in a blender. If you’re feeling rajin, you may use a pestle and mortar. Sieve the liquid and let the extract settle for a an hour. The dark green extract should settle at the bottom of the bottle and that’s what you need.

For the cake

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup/2 sticks/227 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated/castor sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk (if using canned/boxed coconut cream, thin out slightly with milk to make 1 cup)

Heat oven to 180 deg C. Grease and line 3 8-inch round baking tins with greaseproof paper. Sieve flours, baking powder and salt, set aside.

Beat butter and sugar till creamy. Add eggs, one at a time. Then add coconut milk and dry ingredients alternately into the batter. Roughly divide batter into three different bowls. I added 4 teaspoons of green extract PLUS a teaspoon of green coloring (I wasn’t happy with the intensity) into the darkest layer, then 2 and a half teaspoons into the middle layer, and finally 1 and a half teaspoons into the lightest layer. Make sure all batter is well combined.

Pour batter into the prepared tins and knock the tins on your countertop to knock out all the air. This will help you to get a flat cake. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, no more, no less.

For the frosting

  • 2 blocks Philly cream cheese (softened at room temperature, cut into cubes)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I used Red Man)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 100g Gula Melaka
  • 1/4 cup water

In a heavy-based saucepan over medium low heat, melt the gula Melaka with the water. Stir till all the sugar has melted, then let it reduce slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely to room temperature. The caramel will thicken more as it cools.

Beat cream cheese till fluffy, add in vanilla essence and cream. Whip until stiff peaks. Add in gula melaka and whip till well combined.

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