Friday, December 23, 2011

Alcohol-Free Orange Fruit Cake

I'm not a fan of fruit cakes until Aunty A gave me her bakes.  I don't like fruit cake because I find it too sweet to my liking and the texture is dense and heavy.  Aunty A's cake made me change my opinion as her cake is soft and moist.  When she gave me the recipe, I knew I wouldn't bother to try out as it requires egg separation.  I dislike complicated method, always on the look out for a quick and easy recipe.  I couldn't find any and have been requesting Aunty A to bake and keep some for me :P

Never thought I'll ever attempt to bake this cake until I saw Wendy's recipe here.  No eggs separation, no mixer needed.  Bingo!  This is it!

I don't like candied peels but I was running low on stock for cranberries and currants at home.  Paid a visit to the nearest baking shop but was disappointed as some of our favourite dried fruits were out of stock.  I couldn't wait and refuse to procrastinate further, so I just grabbed a pack of 1kg dried mixed fruits and mixed in some cranberries and currants.

My kids could't wait too so we ate this on the same day it was baked.  Not too bad but I wasn't very impressed.  I gave some to Sis E and reminded her to eat it a week later.  She cured the cake with liquor (I don't know what she used) for 6 days and brought it to my Dad's birthday celebration. All tasters gave thumbs up.  Unfortunately I couldn't make any comparison because I didn't eat it (alcohol content).  Mom requested me to bake this for CNY so I suppose it must be good.

I didn't do justice to this as it was a night shot under warm-white lighting.  Still an amateur in photography :P

If you have seen Wendy's pictures, I'm sure you wouldn't disagree that glace cherries definitely make the cake look more appealing.  But the small tub of red cherries were sold out too.  Lesson learnt, do not attempt last min baking during festive seasons.

Alcohol Free Orange Fruit Cake
Adapted from Wendy of Table for 2

450gm dried mixed fruits
200ml orange juice
2 heaped Tbsp orange zest (I omit as my son doesn't like)
250gm butter
150gm sugar
225 gm all purpose flour
4 large eggs

  1. Macerate all the fruits and zest with orange juice, overnight preferably.  I macerated the fruits for only 1 hour.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.
  4. Mix in flour until well combined.
  5. Fold in macerated fruits and whatever juice that is remaining.
  6. Place batter into 7X7" lined/greased pan.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 140C for 1 hour 20 mins or until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sweet Watercress with Luo Han Guo Drink

Pardon my disappearance as I was away on a last minute trip to Perak, Malaysia.  It was so last minute that I wasn't able to book any hotel accommodation and had to stay with a relative.

The furthest we've traveled on a road trip to Malaysia was to Genting.  I didn't expect myself to agree to this road trip, which took us almost 8 hours from Tuas custom to Kampung Koh, Perak.  And we had 7 pax in a 6 seater car.  I remember very clearly DH requesting a road trip back to his parents hometown last year but I refused to compromise because the kids must be buckled up, thus having 7 pax is out of the question.  So how and why on earth did I agree to this?  Beats me...  Anyway, we didn't compromise on kids' safety as DD1 and DS2 squeezed onto one seat and buckled up too :-)

There is basically nothing much where we were, Kampung Koh, Sitiawan, Lumut, Pangkor and Pantai Remis.  BUT, it was a fruitful trip.  My urban kids had the chance to experience life @ kampung.  Having no toys but to self entertain with whatever natural things they could find (mainly seashells and rubber seeds).  With so many relatives there, we had the chance to visit their plantations and bird house.  It was truly an eye opening experience for all of us.

I'll blog more about our road trip when I have more time, there's so much to show and tell.  I love Perak!

Back to food stuff.  This looks like some bitter herbal drink but it isn't.  If you've been following me, you might have seen my Watercress with Luo Han Guo Soup.  But instead of cooking the savoury version, I sweetned it with rock sugar and it is another hit in my family.

It's a no-brainer recipe, just dump everything into a pot and boil.

If you like, you may add some agar agar powder/jelly powder and turn them into jellies ;-)

Sweet Watercress and Luo Han Guo Drink
500g watercress
1 Luo Han Guo (羅漢果, 罗汉果), smash the outer shell
2.5 - 3 litres water
2 - 3 dried honey dates (蜜枣)
rock sugar to taste (I used honey rock sugar)

  1. Wash watercress and cut into half. Rinse honey dates.
  2. Rinse Luo Han Guo and smash the outer shell.
  3. Add watercress, honey dates and Luo Han Guo in a pot with 2.5 - 3 litres of water. Bring to boil. Reduce to small flame and simmer for 1 hour. 
  4. Add rock sugar to taste. 
  5. Sieve and serve, either warm or chilled. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fried Shallot Oil (葱头油) - Microwave Version

Shallot oil (葱头油) is commonly used in Chinese cooking.  My Mom cooks this in her wok and each time she makes this, it is easily over a kg.  Imagine the peeling and slicing!  She makes bottles after bottles to give her children, and I'm definitley one lucky child.  I didn't know it was such a tedious chore until I try to DIY at home.  Slicing of the shallot makes me tear like nobody's business.  I googled to find some tear-free methods/tips and these are what I've gathered:
  • Place the shallots in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes before chopping
  • Peel the shallots under running water
  • Use a wet chopping board and a sharp knife.
I've tried the 2 latter methods but they DON'T work.  Yet to try keeping them in the fridge though.

To prevent burning the shallot, stop cooking when the shallots turn slightly golden brown.  They were then left to stand for about 1 - 2 mins to cook on its own.

Do not discard the oil used to fry the shallot.  You can use the oil for cooking (stir fry veggie or fried rice or anything you can think of) or use it to fragrant a dish (congee/noodle soup).

Or simply drizze over some blanch vegetables with oyster sauce, yum! 

I like to slice them thicker because we (mainly the kids) eat it like a snack.  We like to bite into it to feel the crisp ;-) 

Fried Shallot Oil  (葱头油)
15 - 20 Shallot/small onions
Cooking Oil (I use sunflower/corn oil)

  1. Peel the outer skin of the shallots and sliced it thinly.
  2. Put the sliced shallot in a microwaveable bowl.
  3. Add enough oil to cover the shallot.
  4. Cook on High for 4 - 5 minutes.  Give it a stir and continue to cook for another 2 mins.  Reduce to Medium Low and cook for a further 2 -  3 mins, stirring in between.
  5. Stop when the shallot turns slightly golden in colour.  Do not cook till brown as the hot oil will continue to cook the shallot, resulting in very dark/burnt shallot.
  6. Let it stand for 1 -  2 mins to allow it to cook further and carefully remove the bowl from microwave.
  7. Drain fried shallot and leave to cool completely (do not leave them soaking in the oil as the shallot will turn soft).  Store in glass container and keep it in the fridge.  Do the same for the shallot oil.
Cooking time depends on your microwave and the amount of shallots used.  I'm using Sharp R888.