don't judge a cookie by its cover

[sticky post]baking mission!
recipe links will be deleted as they are made

hot water sponge cake
raisin-studded apple bread pudding
daechu cha

spinach, ricotta and mushroom-stuffed shells
miso pork noodle soup
oven-baked scotch eggs

garlic shrimp on ginger scallion rice
spiced carrot croquettes with yoghurt sriracha sauce
corn muffins

individual apple cakes
cheesecake bites

nutella chocolate fudge
creamy chicken and mushroom casserole
duck noodle soup

caramel apple upside-down cake with cinnamon cream
nutella cupcakes
garlic bread

poached halibut with corn salad
brown sugar chocolate chunk cookies

old-fashioned apple pie
korean rice cake and dumpling soup (tteok manduguk)
pound cake

baked lasagna
corn bread without the corn meal
biscuit joconde imprime entremets

blackberry no-bake cheesecake
valentine's day heart cupcakes
strawberry-stuffed cinnamon cupcakes

scotch eggs #2
apple mosaic tart with salted caramel

pumpkin cinnamon rolls
spaghetti with broccoli cream pesto
crackly banana bread

roasted apple spice sheet cake
baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella
favourite brownies

best moist chocolate cupcakes
ferrero rocher cupcakes
molded chocolate cheesecakes

recipe masterlist
List of all the recipes found on this blogCollapse )

Pork Belly, Spinach and Roasted Garlic Risotto
I'm back. Finally, finally back. Somewhere between this and the last post I made here months ago I lost all baking and cooking motivation. It just went. It was a combination of a lot of things that made me just not want to step into the kitchen and pick up a knife or spatula, and it's not necessary to go into analysing it all. I'm just happy to be back :) And I think this post is more than appropriate as a welcome-back recipe! Pork belly, spinach and roasted garlic risotto: let that sink in. Can you think of a more heavenly thing? Something more satisfying to eat? If you can, I want to know what you're thinking about. I ate the ENTIRE dish by myself. Which probably tells you something about my self-control, but also tells you a lot about how fantastic this risotto tastes.

Taken from Oui, Chef and is supposed to feed 2 [or one hungry carb-loving person with no self-control]. I divided the original recipe into 4 - original feeds 8. I swapped out pancetta for pork belly because I heart pork belly to the ends of the earth. I also left out the peas [blech] and pine nuts because they're madly expensive over here. Can I just say that roasted garlic is my new favourite thing?

1 pound Carnaroli or Aborio rice
8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 heads roasted garlic
1 cup onion, diced
8 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, cut into lardons
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 ounces ricotta salata cheese, grated
6 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
5 ounces baby spinach leaves
1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary
EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Roast the garlic by cutting off the top of each bulb, drizzling it with EVOO and topping with a pinch of salt. Place the bulbs on a double thick layer of aluminum foil (or in a garlic baker, if you have one), and place in a 350℉ oven for 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature. Squeeze each head to extract the roasted garlic, discard skins. Chop the roasted cloves into a paste and reserve.
2. In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
3. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, heat about 1/4 cup of EVOO over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently until translucent. Add the pancetta, rosemary and roasted garlic and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the rice and stir to coat each grain with the oil and garlic, cook for about 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook until it has almost completely absorbed. Ladle 2 cups of the hot stock into the rice, stir for a few moments and let cook until it has almost been completely absorbed. Continue this process with the remaining stock, adding it in 2 cup increments and stirring frequently.
5. After 3 additions of stock (6 cups), add the cheeses and stir until melted, add the peas and spinach and stir until wilted. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Then, add 1 cup of stock, stir and remove from heat. If the rice is done to your liking at this point you are ready to serve, if you still want to cook it a little more, add the final cup of stock and place the risotto over low heat for another minute or two.
6. Serve topped with some freshly grated parmesan.

This is a bit time-consuming, yes. And if you've never made risotto before you'll be asking yourself exactly what 'completely absorbed' means, especially after a few ladlefuls of stock. But don't worry. Just keep calm and keep going and at the end you're going to have a pan full of delicious risotto waiting for you. So worth the time!

Bad picture as usual due to my non-existent food photography skills. Also, I was rushing because I wanted to EAT IT.

tom kha gai, fried beancurd with minced pork, and sweet potato leaves stir-fried with chilli
I forgot about this! When I was in Vietnam living the tai-tai life I tried to cook, lol. A mix of hits and misses, I think.

Tom Kha Gai

I made a few mistakes with this one - firstly, too much liquid so that the soup-to-ingredients ratio was way off. Secondly, I left the chicken in too long instead of putting it in at the end so that it ended up pretty tough. Recipe is from Rachel Cooks Thai and serves at least four to five people, depending on how much chicken you use.

2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken, sliced finely
4-5 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1" piece of galangal, sliced thinly
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced thinly
3 red Thai chili peppers, smashed
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, sliced
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon roasted chili paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
juice from 1 large lime

1. Heat the water and chicken broth over medium heat. Add the torn kaffir lime leaves, sliced galangal, and sliced lemongrass to the pot and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the aroma of these herbs is somewhat strong.
2. Add the coconut milk and stir into the other liquid. Then add the chicken, smashed chilis, and bamboo shoots. Let the chicken cook until it's done.
3. Next add the fish sauce, roasted chili paste, sugar, and lime juice. Start with the juice from half a lime and taste the soup. I've found that an entire large lime gives the right amount of tartness for me, but taste as you add to get the soup just right for you.
4. Once the soup has just the right flavors, add the onion slices and cook until they're done. Scoop the soup into a bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves.

The strangest thing was that I couldn't find galangal at all. Doesn't Vietnamese food use it?? So i used normal ginger, which I know isn't a proper substitute. I also couldn't find chicken broth [even more ???] or even chicken stock cubes, so I had to use granulated chicken soup flavouring which ended being way too salty. I will try making this again with all the right ingredients and see how it goes. 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water is also too much liquid - I was trying to cook it down to get it more concentrated, which is when the chicken got too tough.

Lol, useless photo because you can't see anything. It wasn't bad! Just slightlyyyy off because the ingredients weren't right. I will try version 2 soon.

Fried Beancurd with Minced Pork

This was pretty good, but because it's me there were also a few disasters. Recipe from Messy Witchen and serves 3-4. I used a lot of tofu to substitute for rice for this one because Yinren is on a no-carb diet.

3 pieces hard beancurd [taukwa]
150g minced pork
40g dried shrimps, soaked
2 tablespoons chopped spring onions
1 garlic, chopped
1 red chilies, chopped

1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon pepper

1. Deep-fry the hard beancurd into hot oil until golden browned.

2. Remove and drained. Cut into slices, arrange on a serving platter.

3. Heat up 2 tablespoon oil in the preheated wok to fragrant chopped garlic. Add in minced pork and dried shrimps, toss well until aromatic.

4. Add in seasoning, stir-fry for a moment until well combined and cooked thoroughly.

5. Remove from heat. Pour over to the prefried beancurd slices. Garnish with spring onions and red chilies. Serve immediately.

My tofu wouldn't fry! I have no idea why. I used the correct tofu as well - and a few days later Yinren fried the remaining tofu successfully -___-. It's just my curse. So the tofu here is merely heated through, without the nice crispy skin. Anyway, the pork came out pretty good! A little salty, if anything - I don't think it'd hurt to leave out the soy sauce and cut down on the oyster sauce. I think using chai po [salted turnip] in this would be really lovely. Tip: use minced pork that has a bit more fat in it or else it can come out too dry.

Lastly, I also made stir-fried sweet potato leaves with chilli, dried shrimps and garlic but I lost the recipe -___-. It was the best thing!

I was quite surprised at how much the sweet potato leaves cooked down - I started with one huge bunch and ended up with less than 1/4 the size that was barely enough for the two of us. How big a bunch do I have to buy if I want more?? Tsk. Got to go find this recipe again!

deep dark hot fudge pudding cake & walnut and raisin bread pudding
Hey! My posts are becoming ever fewer and farther in between, but now that it's the school holidays I hope to change that. Two puddings today - a rich, dark chocolate one and a lovely light walnut and raisin bread one.

First, the bread pudding. I made this for a friend's birthday picnic in the Botanic Gardens, and it's the same recipe I used here, only I wised up and bought good filled bread for the base of the pudding. It made a huge difference! The first time I made this I used normal white bread, which was nice enough but the overall taste was very simple and subtle. This time the fullbodied sweet bread really pushed up the flavour profile of the pudding. Why didn't I think of this sooner?! Also, instead of a blackberry sauce this time I used a sweet strawberry one which went very nicely with the pudding. The smell that wafts from the oven as this is baking.. ah.

This pudding doesn't come out very.. saucy, for lack of a better word. The bread soaks up all the custard due to the overnight 'marination', so I suppose if you want it more custardy you can bake it straight away. Or, use a vanilla cream sauce instead/alongside the fruit sauce. [Tip: putting chocolate chips in between the bread layers will give you a ridiculously amazing chocolate-cinnamon sauce.]

On to the chocolate pudding! My mother told me she had a craving for chocolate cake, so I decided to make this super-easy one-serve cake for her. It can be thrown together and in the oven under 15 minutes if you're organised with all your ingredients ready, which is a huge plus for anyone strapped for time or whoever doesn't like having to slave over something for hours with 3 million steps before it even goes into the oven. Recipe comes from Kitchen Treaty, and makes 6 servings. I halved the amounts and got two 4-inch cakes.

1¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup milk
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1¼ cups hot water
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together ¾ cup of the granulated sugar, flour, 3 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
3. Spread this batter mixture into an 8″ x 8″ baking pan.
4. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
5. In another medium bowl, stir together the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, 4 tablespoons cocoa, and brown sugar. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the batter.
6. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, stir together the espresso powder and the hot water. Carefully pour the hot water mixture over the top of the cake. Do not stir.
7. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the center is no longer jiggly.

This comes out like a lava cake - still wonderfully gooey in the middle. The coffee gives it a nicely rounded taste, elevating the chocolate. This is very rich, so I recommend following the advice of Kitchen Treaty and eating this with good vanilla ice cream. My mother loved it, so this is a pass!

Tomorrow's post - a key lime pie with a coconut-biscuit crust and whipped cream :D

long time no see - perfection pound cake and rainbow cheesecake
I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted here! Work and a short vacation got in the way of baking and cooking so that I only have two bakes for you today, but they're both beautiful. First up, Dorie Greenspan's Perfection Pound Cake, from A Big Mouthful. The recipe below comes from the site as-is but I've changed the mixed berry topping to a purely strawberry one, and used normal cream to make it as close to strawberry shortcake as possible [I was having a craving, what can I say?]

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or 2 1/4 cups cake flour – creates a more tender crumb)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup granulated white sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven at 325°F with the rack positioned at the center of the oven. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan with butter. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or 2 stacked baking sheets.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
3. Beat the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Continue until mixture is pale and fluffy, about a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and reduce the speed to medium.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes with each interval. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl and beater to create a homogenous mixture. Add the vanilla extract.
5. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until flour is in. This can also be done by hand by folding the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula.
6. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth and level the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check if it is browning too rapidly, and tent a foil over it if so. If your pan is 9″x5″, the cake needs to be baked for a total of 70 to 75 minutes. The cake is done when a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
7. Transfer cake pan onto a cooling rack and let it rest for 30 minutes. Carefully run the back of a bread knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen out the cake before inverting out and propping it right side up directly on the cooling rack. Cool to room temperature before wrapping.

Strawberry Topping
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 Tablespoons sugar

1. In a bowl, mix the sliced strawberries with sugar, stir and let sit for at least an hour, or up as long as overnight.

Please forgive the bad photo as I was doing nocturnal baking. The cake came out very buttery and tender, and the subtleness of flavour was a great vehicle for the beautifully sweet strawberries and cool, delicious fresh cream - I'd lucked out and managed to get my hands on really good berries, which helped a lot. This isn't strawberry shortcake by any means though it'll do very well in a pinch! The memory of the best strawberry shortcake in the world made by my dad's wife - small, ripe strawberries freshly picked that morning, fresh cream from the farmer's market, and homemade scones, all put together in less than 5 minutes - will forever overshadow any strawberry shortcake I will ever make or have, but I rank this one pretty high anyway.

On to the rainbow cheesecake! This had been requested by a few of my colleagues so I finally tried it a few weeks ago for a friend. It was my first time making a baked cheesecake and this post nearly didn't happen because I almost dropped the entire pan before it made it to the oven. It's really beautiful but it cracked, alas. Better luck next time! Recipe is from Tablespoon.

2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pinch salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
1 each of liquid food colors (blue, yellow, green, red)

1. Preheat oven 350°F. Before you get started with the crust, make sure your 9 inch springform pan is water tight. Do this by carefully wrapping a few layers of foil on the outside of the pan, so water cannot get into the pan. Be careful not to rip the foil or water will get into your cake and ruin it!
2. Mix crushed crackers, 2 tablespoons sugar, the cinnamon and salt together in a bowl. Then mix in butter with your clean fingers, until crumbs are pea sized.
3. Press all of the graham cracker mixture into the prepared springform pan. Press it down firmly in the pan. Use a measuring cup for this, which makes it easy to get around the edges. You should have an even, flat crust.
4. Bake the crust for 10 minutes on a low oven rack. Remove from the oven, and cool completely before continuing. Turn oven temperature down to 325°F.
5. To make filling, cut cream cheese into pieces and add to a mixing bowl. Whip until smooth, maybe 4 minutes. Then add 1-1/3 cups sugar, and continue to beat until smooth again, another 4-5 minutes. Next, add vanilla, salt, sour cream and heavy cream; beat until smooth. Add in 1 egg at a time, beating briefly between each egg.
6. Once the mixture is well combined and very smooth, divide evenly into 6 dishes. Add food color to each dish to get the desired colors.
7. Pour colored mixtures into cooled crust. Start with red filling, and slowly pour it right in the center of the crust. Continue to build the rainbow by pouring the fillings directly in the center. This will create layers so that each slice has some of each color.
8. Place cheesecake into a baking dish on oven rack, and fill baking dish with boiling water about 1 inch up the side of the springform pan.
9. Bake at 325°F in the water bath for 1 hour and 40 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes or until set but still jiggles slightly 2 inches from the edge. If cheesecake begins to brown on top, cover loosely with foil during last 5 minutes of baking.
10. Turn off the oven, open the oven door a crack, and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour. The slow cooling will help it not crack.
11. Then loosely wrap the dish in foil so the foil isn't touching the top of the cake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
12. When ready to remove cake, run a clean narrow knife around the edge of the dish, remove the foil, unlock the spring, and carefully lift off the outer ring.
13. Serve either alone or with a cherry/raspberry sauce. It's so rich and creamy that it really doesn't need a topping.

It cracked :( I comforted myself by thinking that it looked like the crack in the universe from Doctor Who. This is really easy, but the fiddly bit is separating your 6 bowls of coloured batter. I got a tip from my cousin who said that 5 colours [no orange] works a lot better than 6, as your red layer won't be pushed so far to the ends that it practically disappears. As you can also see, there were a loootttt of bubbles so letting it sit for a while before putting it in the oven would be a good idea. Since it was for a friend I didn't taste it personally but I have it on good authority that it vanished in double-quick time and was super delicious. A thing to note - unless you've made baked cheesecake a few times before it's a bit hard to tell when it's done as it needs to be wobbly in the centre but not too wobbly. It might be a good idea to top up the water bath if the water evaporates fully [with boiling water!] - my water disappeared towards the end of the baking which could be the reason why it cracked later.

Till next time!

super duper easy chocolate cake and vanilla cupcakes
It's the last day of the June holidays! I thought I'd squeeze two last recipes in before the madness of school starts again, and today's first one comes from Cooking Classy, called 'The Best Chocolate Cake You Ever Ate'. I had to try it.

Reading through the recipe, it contains applesauce and cinnamon, which immediately caught my eye because these are two things that I love. Once I tried the recipe, it was so amazingly easy that it was impossible for it not to become a keeper.

moreCollapse )

fudgy brownies and pasta with chunky rosemary chilli tomato sauce
I love it when I'm home alone and I can take my time to cook, eat and clean up afterwards. While it was quite nerve-wrecking when I first started cooking, now I take all possible mistakes and disasters in my stride and enjoy the process for what it is - relaxing, educational, and deeply satisfying. Two very satisfying recipes today - lovely tomato pasta and amazing fudgy brownies!

here we goCollapse )

bumper post - poached apples, butter cake, baked pasta and butter cookies
Long time no post! A mix of baked and non-baked recipes today, all lovely. Let's begin with the baked pasta.

baked pasta followed by lots of dessertCollapse )

mega post: balzano apple cake, florentine cookies and cinnamon roll cupcakes
Two hits and one miss in this post! I haven't had the time to bake much recently because of work, which is a very sad thing. These were all baked over the past month or so and I finally have time to blog about them.

First off I tried the Balzano apple cake.Collapse )

You are viewing helen_bakes