Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sausage buns

Every time I walk past 'Breadtop', there is an ever-present mysterious mystical force urging me buy their yummy sausage buns as a snack for boss man and the toddler!  (that force is also known as childhood memory)  However, part of me always feel bad buying and eating them - it's the same guilty feeling as when I eat the yummy and yet "sinful" instant noodles! 

So when mum messaged me this cool recipe from her Chinese baking cookbook, I was determined to try because at least I can control the ingredients (some sausages are more sinful than the others). It was a success at first go!  So I think it's pretty forgiving for beginners. 

Now that I know what exactly goes in there, I feel more comfortable feeding this to my toddler. It is fun to make, delicious fresh out of the oven, and smells heavenly! No more 'Breadtop' buns for us!

Sweet Bun Dough:
500g bread flour (High gluten flour)
1 satchet yeast (7g)
100g castor sugar
1 tsp salt
270ml water
50g butter (softened)

20 cocktail sausages

1 egg lightly beaten 
sesame seeds

1. Mix bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in water.
2. Use slow speed to knead the dough until gluten is formed- approx 10 minutes (can be pulled into thin sheet without tearing).
3. Add butter and knead till well combined.
4. Remove dough from mixing bowl, shape into a smooth ball and put into a greased bowl. Cover with damp cloth.
5. Leave aside to prove till double in bulk. To test, press with finger- the depression should rise up and back to shape.
6. Punch down and knead till smooth (approx 5-8 minutes).
7. Leave aside to rest for 15 minutes.
8. Divide into 20 equal portions. Shape each portion into a roll about 18cm long.
9. Wrap dough around sausage showing two ends.
10. Arrange sausage rolls on a baking tray. Leave to prove for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle on some sesame seeds 
11. Bake at 200°C till golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

1. The sweet bun dough is great for many types of fillings including chicken, sardine, red bean paste etc!
2. For sardine filling- mix 1 can of tomato sardine with 1 T of finely diced onions, and a pinch of sugar. Roll dough into flat circular round, place sardine filling in the middle, wrap up filling and form into balls.
3. Regarding Step 5: Leave dough to prove for at least 1.5 hours or as long as possible. There was once, I started the dough early in the morning, and completely forgotten about it till the end of the day... the dough got so huge and almost spilt over the bowl onto the kitchen counter. The silver lining was: it yielded the BEST and fluffiest bun ever!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hainanese Chicken Rice

In Australia we eat approximately 470 millions chicken a year.  That's equivalent to 20 chicken per person per year.  Boss man is someone who is out there to beat that average by miles because he loves to eat chicken.  And out of all chicken dishes, this Hainanese Chicken Rice is his favourite dish.

The chicken is poached gently in water till tender and juicy, the chicken rice garlicky and buttery (optional of course), combined with fragrant special soy sauce and lemony garlic chilli sauce… every spoonful is accompanied with a satisfied: MMMMmmmmmm!!! Even the little toddler knows it’s a special day when mummy cooks this! 

The following is my version- tweaked from many fun attempts =)

Hainanese chicken rice:

Step 1- for poached chicken:

1 whole chicken (reserve 2 T of chicken fat/skin for chicken rice)
Sesame oil
Cucumber and coriander for garnish

1. Rub chicken with salt and leave for 5 minutes. Rinse.
2. Place chicken in a pot of boiling water, ensure chicken is submerged in water. Partly cover.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium so that water is at a rolling boil. Gently boil for 15 minutes.  Turn off heat completely, cover pot, and allow chicken to remain in hot water for 20 minutes .
3. Remove chicken and immerse in icy cold water for 5 minutes.
4. Drain chicken, and rub into with sesame oil.
5. Reserve all poaching liquid for chicken rice, and soup.

Step 2 - for chicken rice:

3 cups rice
1 T ginger, finely minced (1 thumbsize ginger, reserve 1/3 for chilli sauce)
2 T garlic, finely minced (peel whole head of garlic, and reserve 2 cloves for chilli sauce, mince remaining)
3 coriander roots (reserve top for garnish)
Pinch of salt
1 T butter (yummy but optional :p)

1. Heat wok, fry chicken fat with some oil until chicken fat is slightly browned and fragrant. Add garlic, ginger, butter and fry until golden.
2. Add rice, salt and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
3. Transfer all ingredients into a rice cooker. Add coriander root, pandan leave, and 3 cups of poaching liquid. Press cook.

Step 3 – for chilli sauce:

3 red long chilli
2 clove garlic
1 t ginger
1 pinch salt
1 pinch sugar
1 squeeze from ½ Lemon

1. Blend chilli, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, lemon juice, into a smooth paste.  Add a little poaching liquid if it’s looking abit dry. Taste and adjust with sugar, salt, and lemon.

Step 4- for special soy sauce:

1.5 T oil
1.5 t sesame oil
4 T light soy sauce
1 T dark soy sauce
1.5T caster sugar
3 T water

1. Heat all ingredients in a small saucepan, until sugar dissolves.

Before serving, cut up whole chicken. Serve with warm chicken rice. Comfort food at its best! Bon appetite!   

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Braided Bread

Instead of the usual shopping therapy, I have spent the last few Friday nights undergoing "bread-making therapy."  The process of kneading, waiting..., kneading again, sipping wine on more waiting..., and finally the exciting sound of the alarm timer, the smell of the bread, and the sight of brown crust of the final products are deeply therapeutic (in fact a little bit addictive).  The whole experience relaxes me (or... is it just the wine?).

I usually began these nights by first "parking" my little boy and husband outside of the kitchen, i.e. let them watch TV together.  Then I hid myself baking wonderful things....

Tonight that thing was braided bread.  

Here’s the youtube link where I learnt how to braid six strands of bread dough.

Braided bread (Original recipe here)


250ml tepid water
7g instant yeast (1x sachet)
5 egg yolks, room temperature
2 T rice bran oil
4 T caster sugar
550g bread flour (High gluten flour)
1 tsp salt

1 beaten egg
sesame seeds


1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in sugar, oil,egg yolks, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk. (I placed all ingredients into the kitchen aid, and knead at slow speed for 15 minutes)
2. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Knead for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky (Again, the kitchenaid did most of the work here). Divide in half. Divide each half into six and roll into long strands about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the six strands together firmly and braid.Grease two baking trays and place finished braid on it. Cover with towel and let rise about half an hour.
3.Preheat oven to 180 C.
4. Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack before slicing.

Give this recipe a go! It will fill your house with the delightful smell of fresh bread, and make you feel GOOD.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Stuffed pumpkin flowers

Have you ever watch any cooking show (Jamie O?  Gordan R?) that teaches you to stuff stuffs in the delicate, paper-thin zucchini/pumpkin flowers and then deep fry them?  Ever wonder why so fancy?  And maybe sounding a bit pretentious?  I thought so too....

But not if you have lots of pumpkin flowers growing like weeds in my vege patch!!!

Growing zucchini/pumpkin was my goal at the community plot this year. These members of the cucurbita family LOVE sun, which was why it was something I can never achieve in my shady courtyard garden.

I harvested some gorgeous yellow pumpkin flowers today- they are the large yellow male flowers- without the baby pumpkins attached. And made stuffed pumpkin flowers for dinner. There were plenty of leftover prawn paste, so I made fried wontons as well!

Boss man and toddler gobbled everything up in 2 seconds. Thank goodness I managed a quick snap before serving.  They are not just fancy but actually tastes great!

Stuffed pumpkin flowers recipe (original version by Luke Nguyen here)

4 pumpkin flowers, stems intact with stamen removed
150g tiger prawns (shelled and deveined)
2 egg whites
1 cup potato starch (or cornflour)
1 T fish sauce
1 garlic clove, finely diced
Sprinkle of dried dill
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Pinch of salt & pepper

1. Pound prawns in mortar and pestle into fine paste. Mix in sprinkle of dried dill, fish sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. Take a teaspoon of paste and stuffed gently into pumpkin flower petals.
3. Coat each flower with egg white, followed by potato starch.
4. Deep fry flowers until golden and crisp. Place on absorbent paper towel.

Yummy dipped in sauce (fish sauce + sugar + chilli + garlic + lemon)!

Saturday, December 28, 2013


This biscotti recipe by Delia Smith is so simple, and the results marvelous. Really yummy with tea/coffee. I think it'll be delicious to incorporate some cranberries and pistachios as well next time.

Almond Biscotti
110g plain flour
3/4 t baking powder
pinch of salt
25g ground almonds
50g almonds, skins on
75g caster sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
a few drop of vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
2. First sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Then add the ground and whole almonds and sugar. Give it a good mix, then add the egg and almond extract, and mix it together first with a spoon and then using your hands to bring the mixture together to form a smooth dough.
3. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and, using your hands, roll it into a log about 28cm long. Put on lined baking sheet and bake near the centre of oven 30 minutes. After that, transfer log to a cooling tray and leave until completely cold.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 150°C.
5. Using a serrated knife, cut the biscotti into slightly diagonal slices about 1 cm wide. Then place them back on the lined baking tray and bake for another 30 minutes until pale gold and crisp.
6. Transfer them to the cooling tray and when cold, store in an airtight container.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Melting moments

I've been as busy as an elf in the kitchen, baking up batches of cookies (often late into the night) as gifts. This christmas, I'm making 'melting moments', biscotti, and shortbread.

They are all so much fun to make, but melting moments were my favourite as I absolutely love the outcome of this recipe. It does not 'melt' as such, but is deceptively 'light' despite the amount of butter required. It tastes better after leaving it overnight in the fridge. Bossman rated it 9 out of 10 stars. I hadn't made the jam to go with it, but I think if I did, it would push it to 10 stars :p.

Here's a picture from the melting moments test run batch. 

The next day, little toddler gobbled one up in 2 seconds during afternoon tea.

Another batch, all wrapped up, and ready to go!

Melting moments by Julia Taylor (Original awesome recipe by Julia Taylor here)

180g unsalted butter
60g icing sugar, sifted
50g custard power
1 t baking powder
180g plain flour

Vanilla buttercream
100g butter, softened
2 t vanilla bean paste
1 cup icing sugar, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
2. For biscuits, cream butter for 2 minutes with paddle attachment. Add icing sugar and custard powder and mix until combined. Sift the baking powder and flour together then add to the dough and mix well. Roll dough into approx 15g (1 teaspoon), place on baking tray and press each ball with a fork to leave an indent. Bake biscuits for 16-18 minutes or until light golden. Stand on tray 5 minutes to cool then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. For buttercream, whisk butter and vanilla until smooth. Add icing sugar and beat until mixture forms a paste, the consistency of thick icing. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle.
4. To assemble, pipe buttercream in a circle onto the base half of the biscuits. Gently press one of each biscuits together to form a melting moment.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Almond Tuiles

This little recipe for almond tuiles is a keeper! It's so crispy and yummy- ALL of the crispy tuiles were gobbled up by Boss Man and toddler in 10 seconds.

(Ingredients for 18 crispy tuiles)

2 egg whites (66-70g size eggs)
50g caster sugar
1 pinch salt
40g low gluten flour
25g melted butter (microwave for 30 seconds)
100g flaked almonds

1. Using a whisk, mix egg whites, caster sugar, and salt until combined. Add flour and mix until combined. Stir in melted butter. Lightly stir in flaked almonds. Leave in fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Spread a tsp of batter thinly on a tray lined with baking paper using the back of the fork dipped in water. Ensure all almond flakes are separated and are not on top of each other.
3. Bake in 150°C preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
4. Working quickly, lift the tuiles off the tray using a knife. Allow to cool and hardened.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cauliflower Soup

This recipe by Neil Perry is truly delicious and is a success (Thanks to recipe tip off from mom's group friend!). I'll definitely be making this again and again. It is perfect for cold and rainy days. The recipe below is slightly tweaked for my future reference.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan (For the original recipe, click click!)
1 whole cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 large brown onion, peeled and diced
2 fresh garlic cloves, finely diced
900ml vegetable stock
50g light cream
1 T unsalted butter
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Parmesan cheese, finely grated
sea salt

1. Heat butter. Add garlic, onion, salt and pepper, saute for 10 minutes.
2. Add cauliflower and sweat over low heat for 10 minutes, until florets are soft and golden (the browning of cauliflower is essential for flavour of soup).
3. Add stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes or until cauliflower is very soft.
4. Process soup until very smooth.
5. Over low heat, stir in cream. Add mustard and cheese in batches tasting as you go. Add more stock if necessary to give the desired consistency. 
6. Serve with warm bread. Enjoy!

ps: Dinner roll in the picture above was a homemade addition from the Boss man. I'll get him to write it up one day =)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Steamed Chicken Bun (Gai Bau)

This steamed bun project ranks pretty high up on my to do list because the boss man loves 'Dai Bau' (translation: 'Big Bun') and other Baus from Nam Loong.

I got the following bun skin recipe from a Chinese cook book.  I have altered the original recipe so that I can use the usual supply in my pantry and I don't need to buy any extra ingredient from the Asian grocery.  That is, I have used low-gluten flour instead of "Hong Kong" flour; I also have used rice bran oil instead of shortening/lard.

Ingredients for 16 buns

(A) Bun Skin
300g low gluten wheat flour
7g dry instant yeast (1 satchet=7g)
5g baking powder
70g sugar
25g light oil (I used rice bran)
120ml water

(B) Filling
500g chicken mince
Half an onion, diced finely and stir fried till soft
1/2 cup sweet corn
Seasoning (Salt, sugar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, pepper)

1. Combine ingredients (B) for filling in a large bowl and set aside for later use.

2. Combine all ingredients (A) for bun skin in a large bowl and knead until smooth. Divide to 16 equal parts, press and roll flat, thicker in the middle and thin at sides.  To make the paper base, just cut baking paper into the size you want.

3. Place a tablespoon of filling on bun skin and wrap. Set aside for 30 minutes to let rise.

4. Steam over high heat for 15 minutes (Put a few drops of white vinegar in the water in the steamer. This will prevent the buns from turning yellow!)

This is my 1st attempt, so please pardon the lack of bun wrapping technique.  As I practice more, I hope to make the buns into rabbit-shape, pig-face-shape, or basically any shape that could entice my little boy to eat more of these buns.  The dough is really forgiving, and can be stretched and patched as you please!

For the filling, I've used minced chicken and sweet corn.  But you can use pretty much anything you like.  Here are some ideas:

- Jap Chae (Health Score= 9 out of 10)
- Red bean or sesame paste (7 out of 10),
- Curry (5 out of 10)
- Chocolate (3 out of 10)
- Peanut butter (3 out of 10)
- Braised pork belly and mushrooms (1 out of 10)
- Nothing (a.k.a. "Man Tau") (0 out of 10!!!)


Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Gratitute Kitchen is closed for renovation.

Yup, for real! We are renovating our 70s style kitchen, Woo hoo!

Will resume cooking once we're done! Can't wait X

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Boss man told me he was craving for Oyakodon, so I quickly googled 'Oyakodon recipe' and tried the first one on the search result!

...and it worked! What would we do without technology these days?

It was yummy and I was surprised how easy it is to make at home (all the ingredients are common pantry and fridge staples!), oh why did I only start doing it now?

3 chicken thigh fillets, diced
1 onion, sliced finely
1 2/3 C dashi stock
7 T soy sauce
4 T mirin
3 T sugar
4 eggs
steam rice
spring onions
sengiri shoga (pickled ginger)

1. Combine dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in sauce pan over medium heat bring to boil.
2. Add chicken and simmer on low heat until partially cooked. Add onion slices and simmer until chicken is just cooked.
3. Lightly beat eggs in a bowl, bring soup to boil, and pour eggs over chicken and onion. Turn heat down to very low, and cover with lid for about one minute, turn off heat.
6. Serve on hot cooked rice in individual serving bowls. Garnish with spring onions and sengiri shoga.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mini Quiches

We were invited for a picnic yesterday, and were each asked to bring a plate.

Inspired by Julia Child's Quiche Lorraine, I decided to bake a mini version for the kids! And because it's only cream, eggs, and bacon, I thought it would be healthier if there's some veges in it as well.
These were served cold. The children, or rather, the parents gobbled most of it down. We had a lovely time!

1 1/2 C thickened cream
3 eggs
3 slices of bacon , cut into little squares, simmer in water for 5 minutes and browned slightly in skillet.
One onion, diced finely
Handful of diced pumpkin, roasted with olive oil
Handful of spinach
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of pepper
1 T butter, diced finely
1 T butter, for cooking
Puff pastry x 3, cut into 4 rounds per sheet

1. Preheat oven to 200c. Butter the inside of a 12 hole muffin pan and line with puff pastry rounds. Weigh it down with pie weights. Partially bake the the puff pastry for 8-9 minutes.
2. Turn oven down to 190c.
3.  Press bacon pieces into bottom of pastry shell.
4. Cook the onions in butter. Add spinach and stir over moderate heat for several minutes to evaporate all its water. Stir in pumpkin, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and taste carefully for seasoning.
5. Beat the eggs and cream in a mixing bowl to blend. Gradually stir in the onion, spinach, pumpkin mixture. Check seasoning.
6. Pour into pastry shell and dot with diced butter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in oven. A knife plunged into the center should come out clean. It will stay puffed for 10 minutes in the turned off hot oven with door ajar. As it cools, it sinks down.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

French Pear Tart (II)

Baked a pear tart for Good Friday. This time, I've arranged the pears the proper way. To quote Dorrie Greenspan: 'Thinly slice each pear half crosswise. Lift each half on a spatula, press down on the pear to fan it slightly and place it over the almond cream, wide end toward the edge of the crust. The 6 halves will form spokes'. (Although, I think I've sliced them abit too finely). Recipe here.

Hope you had a great Easter weekend x

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Soy happy!

In the past, this is how I make soy milk at home. It's messy, and time consuming as you have to blend the soaked beans, stand in front of the stove to cook the milk, and I haven't mentioned the amount of washing up after! I love soy milk, but this is much too fussy.

One day, after hearing me out, my colleague who's from China suggested: 'Why don't you get a Jo Young soy milk machine? Everyone in China has one! And everyone drinks fresh soy milk everyday!!!'. I did my research online and was intrigued- all you need to do is add soaked beans and water, and the machine will work its magic. Wow! I wanted it, but it was expensive and I can only buy it online.

Fast forward 3 years later, I took the plunge and 'invested' in a soy milk maker (mainly because someone imports the product to Melbourne now and I can see it in person, and plus.... I have a soft spot for kitchen gadgets)!

The machine looks good and doesn't take up much space on my kitchen benchtop. All you need to do to get soy milk is:

1000ml water
1 cup of soy beans, soaked overnight

(1) soak a cup of soy beans overnight in the fridge
(2) add soaked beans and water to machine, press 'soy milk', then 'soaked beans'. Wait 20 minutes, and voila, fresh soy milk!

I experimented a little last night, by mixing in the following:
5 Tbsp black sesame
1/2 rice bowl of white rice
1 Tbsp white sesame
4 Tbsp caster sugar
900ml water

(1) Press 'rice paste', wait 20 minutes, and voila, instant smooth and velvety black sesame pudding!!!

Boy was I pleased, and soy happy! :D

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BBQ Honey chicken wings

OK - these are heavenly! This is probably THE dish to bossman's heart (via the tummy). He hehe! It tastes better than KFC, in fact it's so easy to make that it's easier than going out to buy KFC. The cooking time is 20 minutes, the prep time is 5 minutes. can it be easier than that?

2kg chicken wings/wingettes/drumettes
4 T oyster sauce
4 T fish sauce
dash of black pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
thumb size ginger, chopped finely
4 T honey
2 T olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and let marinade overnight.
2  Bake in 200°C preheated oven for 20 minutes until golden brown, turning once.
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