Blueberry Chiffon Cake

This must be the longest record for a hiatus I’ve had from the food blog. I still am very in touch with the foodie scene (self-professed claims aren’t very convincing, but my foodie friends can assure you of this!), I’m just getting lazy and not writing about them. That, plus uni is getting more and more hectic as the years go by… Although my procrastination is still going strong wahaha! I just spent the past few days watching Masterchef almost non-stop, which I suppose is the catalyst behind igniting my desire to come back here to gratify a need for some self-indulgent blogging. I was kind of gawking at how little blogging I have done regarding nutrition or dietetics, considering I’m spending the bulk of my time (supposedly, anyway!) studying about it. I’ll get to it soon, so stay tuned with some fascinating insight and commentary about nutrition!

I wanted to share a recipe that I love: a blueberry chiffon cake that my now sister-in-law taught me. It is a delightfully light, fresh-tasting cake, that, if executed well and with some TLC, will not fail to impress. I did not have a chiffon pan at the time so it doesn’t look as tall or appealing as it should be, but it still tasted amazing. I was also too lazy to make the cream but the cake still tasted really good without it.

It is a recipe from a Japanese cookbook, and the cake certainly exudes the dainty and delicate art of Japanese cake-making, although my version is an unfortunately crude attempt, as my pictures show… The blueberries impart a soothing blue tinge to the cake as well as a subtle fruity aroma.

Now’s my chance to shine with some insider knowledge about food science! The recipe states not to grease the cake tin, and the reason behind that is so that the cake can ‘grip’ on to the sides of the pan to achieve maximal height, which would not be possible if you greased it with oil and make it too slippery for the poor batter to hold on to as it wants to rise to fame in all its chiffony goodness. That also probably is the rationale behind the existence of that ‘holey’ thing in chiffon tins: the more support the cake gets, the higher it rises. I think, anyway. Which is the reason behind the dismal heights achieved in my cake. No matter, it still tasted good.

Although the batter was grey, the cake’s flavour was anything but dull! I hope you enjoy making and eating it as much as I did 🙂

 

Blueberry Chiffon Cake

 

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3 egg yolks

100g blueberries/strawberries (about less than one punnet (125g).

30g sugar (1/8 cup granulated sugar)

5 cc. (mL) lemon juice (1 tsp)

Few drops of vanilla oil (essence)

50 cc. (mL) vegetable oil

80g plain flour (low viscosity) (2/3 cup flour = 80g)

2/3 tsp baking powder

Whites:

4 egg whites

1/10 tsp cream of tar tar

60g sugar (¼ cup)

Surface cream:

250mL fresh cream (whipping cream)

25g icing sugar (10 tsp)

10mL orange liquer (preferably) or brandy

Decorations: crushed almonds and mint

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (gas).

  2. Cook blueberries, sugar and lemon juice together in a small saucepan. Simmer a little till berries start to leak and colours the syrup slightly. Cool down completely.

  3. Sift baking powder and flour into a bowl.

  4. Put egg yolks into a large bowl. Mix with an electric beater/whisker till fluffy and creamy coloured (you may need to tilt the bowl to make it whip). Add in blueberry syrup and mix it in with a hand whisk.

  5. Put egg whites and cream of tartar into a separate bowl. Use a (clean) electric beater at low speed first, then progressively go towards the highest speed, while also simultaneously gradually adding sugar, beat till thick and fluffy (if you move the whisk up out of the egg white, the tip of the egg whites droops down very slightly (ie. Not horizontal, not drooping down a lot). Soft peaks.

  6. Using a hand whisk in one direction, gradually pour oil into the blueberry and egg yolk mixture, gradually adding one at a time and mixing till fully incorporated.

  7. Add flour and beat briefly on electric beater till combined (can use the beaters used to beat egg whites, even without washing).

  8. Place 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter. Use a hand whisk to fold it in slowly and gently till combined (with the whisk at right angles vertical to the bowl, use a circular motion to make one semi-circle of the bowl in one direction, first surrounding the edge of one half of the bowl, then cutting through the middle. Repeat on the other semi-circle). Add a further 1/3 of the egg whites and continue folding in using the same technique, this and subsequent times using a plastic scraper to fold it in to combine (‘cutting’ the half with the ‘blade’ of the scraper). Add the last 1/3 and again fold in with plastic scraper.

  9. Prepare a chiffon tin (do not grease). Use a spoon to put a layer to cover the base of the chiffon cake tin (to prevent large bubbles). Pour the rest in, careful not to let any onto the edges (otherwise it will burn).

  10. On a piece of cloth on a hard surface (counter), bang the tin 5 times to get rid of big air bubbles.

  11. Place the cake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.

  12. Invert immediately on a metal rack and leave to cool.

  13. Ice with chilled surface cream and decorate with berries.

Cream

Place icing sugar and cream into a glass bowl. Place this bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cold water. Beat this with an electric beater on low speed for about 1 minute till a little thick. Add 10mL of orange liqueur/brandy, then beat again on electric beater starting with low speed, then gradually high speed, beating until thickened (thick but still liquid enough that if you lift up the whisk, some cream should drop down). Chill. Frost cake with a flat spatula.

Source: Yoko

Rating: *****

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Baked Pork Chop with Egg Fried Rice, Onion and Tomato (焗豬扒飯)

Apologies for my 2/3 year hiatus from the blog… Don’t worry, I’m still the ardent foodie I was before, still loyal to frequenting my favourite food blogs, partaking in new food adventures and trying new recipes.

I’m really surprised that my blog views haven’t declined over these months, and even has been escalating! (the sharp drop is because we’re only midway through May)… I was predicting the blog would eventually dwindle into a void of nothingness as I haven’t updated it for so long. I guess it might be because Google leads a lot of people here. This might motivate me to update it more frequently and write in a better quality (this post doesn’t reflect the best of my standards, by the way, as I’m feeling a bit rushed to start studying for exams coming up!), maybe even develop a fan base (highly unlikely with the poor quality of photos and infrequent posts haha!)

It’s really not so easy to update this blog. First of all, pictures are important in a food blog. More important than whether the recipe itself is worthwhile; because imagery sells. You don’t see famous food blogs with substandard photography. Unfortunately, I am neither endowed with photographic talent nor a good SLR, plus the fact that I usually cook dinner, which means the lighting makes the food look horribly unphotogenic and looks quite unappetising reheated as leftovers the next day.

Another reason is that I’m simply lazy. I’ll try to rectify that, surely it would be good for my studies as well. Oh, about studies… I’m in my second year of N&D now. It’s getting interesting, but also getting harder. I’ll write about it in another blog post. Right now, I just want to get into the food!

This recipe is one of those really excellent ones that fail to disappoint. I’ve cooked this for my family as well as several ‘visitors’ (mum’s friends) and they always gorge themselves on it, not having enough room for any fruits/desserts. You can’t really blame them (and me): it’s just like the ones you get in Cha Chaan Tengs (茶餐廳) in HK, but even better because it’s not drowning in too much cornstarchy sauce, or lacking in meat/vegetable ingredients (and filled only with rice). The dish is made up of a (one-dish-meal) medley of lightly fried rice as the base (I also stirred in some vegetables (including frozen vegetables)), topped with fried pork chops (flavoured with ginger and garlic, lightly crumbed if desired (I did in the photos shown)), with pre-cooked sauce of tomatoes, onions, capsicum, ketchup and worcestershire sauce poured over to seep into the meat and rice. Really, it’s the sauce that makes the dish as amazing as it is. Grated cheese can be sprinkled on top, and the whole concoction placed into the oven to bake until the top is browned. I got this recipe originally from my uncle, but have since tweaked it very much with other recipes I’ve found on the internet.

Granted, it is a very time-consuming recipe, so save for weekends.

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Baked Pork Chop with Egg Fried Rice, Onion and Tomato (焗豬扒飯)

3-4 eggs (beaten with salt and pepper)

1 ¾ cups (2 ½ rice cups) raw rice (or a large bowl of leftover rice)

400g boneless (3-4) pork scotch fillet/(half a piece of) pork loin chop

(Whichever is preferred: Skotch fillet has CT, pork loin has less CT)

1 medium onion (peeled, stems cut, sliced thinly)

3 large tomatoes (sliced thinly)

1 clove garlic (minced)

Optional vegies (chopped): mushrooms, capsicums, carrots, peas, baby corn etc.

(optional) ½ cup mozerella cheese

Marinade: a little light soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, (optional) 1 clove minced garlic, 1-2 tsp grated ginger

Sauce: 4-5 tablespoons ketchup or tomato paste, 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (don’t use dark: sauce will be ugly!), 2-3 tablespoons sugar, dash sesame oil, black pepper (mixed in a bowl)

Method

  1. Cook rice as usually. Put into an oven-proof dish and cover to retain heat.

  2. Scotch fillet: Use knife to ‘squash’ the fillets on both sides, using criss-cross patterns. Cut fillets into halves. Pork loin: slice into 0.5-1cm slices across the grain, then cut in half to shorten.

  3. Marinate pork 30 mins.

  4. Preheat oven to 200°C.

  5. (optional) Just before cooking, pour some of the beaten egg into the fillets to coat them evenly, then dredge each fillet individually into plain flour or dried breadcrumbs.

  6. Heat a generous amount of oil in a large flat wok over high heat.

  7. Place however many fillets fit onto wok, arrange so all surfaces touch the wok. Pan-fry over high heat (or medium, if it burns), flipping fillets over occasionally. Pork should be hard and springy if it is all cooked, and browned on both sides: test by poking with chopstick. When a fillet is cooked, remove from the pan, continuing to add more uncooked fillets. (optional) Cut the cooked fillets into 3cm wide strips.

  8. Heat oil in pan over high heat. Scramble eggs until half cooked, then toss in the rice. Stir-fry quickly (then add a little soy sauce if desired), then place into an oven-proof baking dish, cover with a lid to retain heat.

  9. Heat oil in wok over high heat. Fry onions and garlic (plus hard to cook vegies eg. capsicum) for 3 minutes until browned, add tomatoes (and optional vegies) and saute a further 3 minutes, until tender. (optional: Take out 1/3 or 1/2 of the vegetables to stir into the rice.) Add the sauce ingredients and let it simmer over low heat for 3 minutes. If sauce is watery, thicken with cornstarch and water, if too dry, add water.

  10. Lay pork chop in one layer over fried rice, evenly pour the sauce over this.
  11. (optional) sprinkle cheese over the top.

  12. Bake for 10-15 minutes uncovered, until top is browned.

Source: Lobus Kaufu and http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2008/09/baked-pork-chops-with-rice-classic.html

Rating: *****

Ginger Fried Rice

Today as I glanced at my blog stats, I was surprised to see a sudden spike for today’s views. What, had I sprung to fame overnight?! Haha, no, this blog actually featured in the “Top 5 Random Blogs” in the Foodie Blogroll (which I thought would take years for my rotation to come; I’m so honoured to be a ‘random blog’ :D)!

Anyway, this gave me some incentive to maybe post some more recipes into this.

Most people adore the universal fried rice, but I don’t think many know about this variation. It’s wonderful, especially if you are a ginger fan. The fragrance of ginger has subtle notes lingering, with that warm gingery burn dancing on the tongue, and the sweetness of the rice wine does a great job in mellowing out the ginger’s sharpness. (I looked up other recipes on the internet: lots of prettier pictures, but none had the ‘secret’ rice wine ingredient!) Again, this is not a very attractive dish, but it really does taste good, and a perfect way to get rid of the mounting bowls of leftover rice in the fridge without the excessive chopping required by usual fried rice. If you like very hot food, increase the ginger to as much as you can tolerate, and like all fried rice, add any other ingredient that appeals.

ginger

(I took photos this time!)

Ginger Fried Rice

1 big bowl of cold cooked leftover rice (if you like soft rice:microwaved until cool-warm, if you like more crumbly rice: refrigerated, loosened)
1-5 tablespoons grated ginger
2 tablespoons (rounds) Chinese rice wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce
(optional) 1 egg (beaten with salt and pepper), 1 shallot (minced)

Method
1.Heat a little oil in wok over medium heat.
2.Fry the ginger for 30 seconds then add the Chinese rice wine. Cook for 15 seconds.

frying-ginger

I added some of the juices from leftover steamed chicken to give it even more flavour

I added some of the juices from leftover steamed chicken to give it even more flavour

3.Switch fire to high heat and add rice, stir-fry evenly.
4.(optional) Remove rice from wok. Add egg and minced shallots and scramble till nearly done. Add rice back in.
5.Pour soy sauce around the rice and stir-fry evenly. Serve with vegetables and meat, like normal rice.

Source: Aunty Kitty (John’s sister)
Rating: ****

Look at how well it brushes up after image correction!

Ginger Fried Rice

Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn (粟米肉粒飯)

Here is the first recipe on my blog: it’s been a long long while but I am just not into (or good at) taking pictures of food, which seems so essential for a food blog. Yes, I’m such a lazy food blogger for not taking pictures of food, but really, why don’t we just leave that to the professional food stylists?! The dish isn’t particularly photogenic either so why don’t you just imagine pieces of tender chicken swimming in a pool of hot, creamy corn sauce (I’m not so eloquent at making things sound appetising either!). I thought about just plonking on any picture I find on the net, but even with referencing there might be copyright/plagiarism issues there, so I’ll stay on the safe side. Here’s a picture nevertheless.

This is the first dish I learnt to cook, about 5 years ago when I was 14, and my mother decided I needed to do some housework. I actually rather enjoyed cooking, even back then, not really a troublesome chore to me. I’m so glad that I was ‘forced’ to cook once every week, because now I’ve got hundreds of recipes in my collection (including many family recipes that create exemplary versions of dishes (I know, I know, everybody says their mother’s cooking is the best…), and a firm grasp of Chinese cookery.

I cooked this for 5 weeks in a row before I moved on to another dish, because it’s so simple, fool-proof and yet yields good results much like the cha chaan tengs in Hong Kong. I think I got really sick of it after that, but now the humble dish has earned a place in my repertoire. Don’t expect anything spectacular: it is just an ordinary-tasting, homey dish that would bring any HK expatriate back to hometown. N.B. The “Rating” is totally arbitrary and by no means definitive (purely a personal preference thing) with 5-star meaning a delicious meal, and 1-star indicating mediocreity. Don’t worry, I won’t post any recipes less than mediocre (i.e. failures)! The “Source” is the person I got the recipe from.

If you have bland taste buds like my mother, then you’d complain that sesame oil, garlic, shallot bulb and chilli will only overpower the natural sweetness of the corn. If you have normal taste buds and like to eat intense foods (like me), feel free to be generous in adding as much as you like. Also, use half creamed corn half corn kernels, otherwise you’ll end up with a blob of gooey cornstarch mass lacking in corny crunch (no pun intended). Adding egg will also make a nice texture change, little strings of eggy er, strings.
The hard part about the dish is to avoid overcooking the chicken. You won’t have much of a problem with thighs, but chicken breast is very easy to overcook, so don’t cook the chicken too much when you’re browning it, and don’t simmer for too long.

Last time I looked on the internet there was only one English internet site that mentioned of this dish. Maybe Cantonese people consider it to be a tired cliche (given the ubiquity of this dish, I would have thought there would be at least one fellow food blogger who would talk about it!). Oh well, I shall be the second person on the net to extol the virtues of this dish (in the English sites anyway)! I found a nice article from a Caucasian’s perspective (and a recipe much like mine. I like how he mentions the Chinglish to name to describe the dish :P).

Without further ado, I introduce to you:

Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn (粟米肉粒飯)

400g chicken breast or thigh (diced, marinated lightly)
310g can creamed corn (or half of 420g)
310g corn kernels (or half of 420g) (drained)
2-3 slices of ginger
(optional-if you want the light flavour of corn, don’t add) 2 cloves garlic, 1 large shallot bulb, 1 red chilli (deseeded)  (minced), sesame oil, 1 egg, other vegetables (eg. zucchinni, carrot, peas etc.)

Method
1.Heat oil in wok over high heat.
2.(optional) Fry optional vegetables until tender. Remove.
3.Fry ginger (and garlic and shallot bulb etc.) for a little.
4.Add chicken and stir-fry for 1-3 minutes until browned, occasionally leaving it without stirring to char a little.
5.Pour in creamed corn (scrape clean) and corn kernels. Stir-fry for another minute or until chicken is done, simmering over medium heat.
6.Make a thickening sauce of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Stir into sauce until thickened to desired consistency. Alternatively, beat 1 egg and gradually pour in a steady stream into boiling sauce while stirring slowly.
7.Serve with rice and (optional) garnish with spring onion and Knorr soy sauce.

Source: Mama
Rating: ****

Marinating chicken for stir-fries

After months of procrastination I decided I should probably add some recipes to this so-called ‘food blog’ that I have been neglecting. 😀 What kind of a food blog doesn’t have recipes in it?!

The vast majority of what I cook are family creations or heirloom recipes from my parents’ friends. I am all for maintaining the integrity of ingredients: so you won’t see many fancy game jus or lobster mousse or other flashy dishes with a never-ending list of ingredients. Besides, it must be the trend now, with all those “4 ingredients” cookbooks around. Not that I am being a sheep, but that’s just the way I have rolled for a long while. Simple is best.

Since my family is of Chinese heritage, the cuisine they cook and have taught me is mainly Chinese. Consequently, it will be the feature cuisine in my blog. Recipes that were acquired from family members will be categorised under “Family Recipes”.  I think Asian food is, in general, tastier than Western food. They know how to harmonise flavours and texture subtly to great effect, creating a huge array of dishes with unique characters, harnessing the myriad of seasoning and ingredients that the continent was lucky to have been endowed with. Delicate yet tasty, the food is not only pleasing to the mouth, but leaves a feeling of comfort and satisfaction after you have eaten: that is the hallmark of Asian cuisine.

However, I do enjoy the occasional cultural change, often taking inspiration from other food blogs, and when I foray into the culinary art of other cultures, I aim to be authentic in doing so. Having said that, I am not one to stick to a recipe rigidly, adding a personal touch with a few tweaks here and there won’t mean a kitchen disaster, in fact they are sometimes the springboard to new inventions. So you will see a lot of “(optional)”s scattered about in my recipes; just do as your instinct guides you to, anything that takes your fancy, add or omit anything you like. Follow recipes as a guideline, not by the book.

I wanted to post a recipe on 米肉粒飯 (Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn) but then I realised all my recipes just say “marinated” with the assumption everybody knows. I thought I should start from the very beginning so that it’s all clear. So here is a ‘tutorial’ on how to marinate chicken breast or thigh for Chinese stir-fries. This is just a standard marinade for generic Chinese stir-fries, specific recipes may call for different flavourings. If using whisky, it imparts a beautiful smoky-sweet fragrance on the chicken that the usual choice of rice wine lacks.

Typical standard marinade for stir-frying chicken

For about one fillet of chicken breast or thigh: salt (not needed if using soy sauce) and white pepper, 1 cap (teaspoon) of Johnnie Walker whisky or Chinese rice wine, 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil,

(optional) 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp baking soda, oyster sauce, black pepper, worcestershire sauce, ginger juice, garlic, spices, herbs, honey etc.

Method

Wash, dry, trim excess fat and cut chicken into desired size/shape.

Apparently baking soda tenderises the meat if you apply it for 15 minutes, but you have to rinse it off and then add the other ingredients afterwards.

Mix pieces of cut chicken with the above ingredients in a bowl, marinate from a day in the refrigerator to 10 minutes, covered (longer means greater flavour absorption).

Marinating Chicken Breast