Food. Lifestyle. Love

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Recipe: Triple Strawberry Cake & Selamat Hari Raya! Eid Mubarak!

It was breaking fast together with the Malaysians at Wageningen last week. The host prepared delicious chicken biryani rice and kuih, and the rest brought other foods and drinks. Knowing there will be lots of food (if it is Malaysian get-together, there WILL be plenty of foods), I decided to bake strawberry cake for dessert. It is not heavy and filling like chocolate cake, thus it is perfect for such event.

I was full from gorging over the delicious biryani, but I had to try a small slice of the cake that I made. It was awesome! Not that sweet and moist, and I had to take another small slice of the cake haha.

This cake will be perfect for Hari Raya open house- in Malaysia the Muslims invited their family and friends for small (or big) feast to celebrate Eid-fitr (a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan).

Triple Strawberry Cake
[click for printable version]

Strawberry Cake (white cake recipe adapted from add a pinch)
1 ½  cup butter, softened
12 tablespoons castor sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk, room temperature
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped strawberries

Strawberry sauce
4 cups water
2 tablespoons castor sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberried

Strawberry cream cheese frosting
400 gm cream cheese (I used 60% fat content)
60 gm icing sugar
5 tablespoons strawberry sauce


For cake
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line four 6-inch cake pans.2. In a large bowl cream butter until light and fluffy with a hand mixer. Slowly add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time making sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding another.
3. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk, buttermilk and vanilla beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir until well combined and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and mixed well.
4. Divide into 4 cake pans evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool slightly in cake pans for about 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

For sauce
1. Combine everything in a large pot on high heat. Once the water boil, turn the heat to medium-low. Mash the strawberry using potato masher. Simmer the sauce until thickens (approximately 15 minutes or more)

For cream cheese frosting
1. Put everything in a large bowl and mix well.

To assemble: Level the cake using serrated knife or cake cutter, put strawberry sauce on top of the cake and strawberry cream cheese frosting. Repeat for every layer. Cover and crumb coat the cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting for an hour, and cover the cake with the rest of the frosting. Decorate with slices of fresh strawberries and strawberry sauce.

Eid Mubarak in advance guys! Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all :D
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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Recipe: Kuih seri muka (glutinous rice with pandan custard layer) using microwave

Kuih is a bite size sweet or savory snack which you can find easily in Malaysia. Kuih seri muka (literally means glowing face dessert) is one of my most favorite Malay kuih. The layer of creamy and sweet pandan custard complements the salty glutinous rice. I always make it whenever I'm not in Malaysia when it is impossible to buy one.

The first time I made this was in the U.S, and I used imitation pandan flavoring and green food coloring for that. I'm planning to cut down imitation flavoring and coloring in my cooking, and I was happy to find frozen pandan leaves at Toko Idriani (Asian market) in Wageningen.

A problem in making this kuih for me is steamer, I don't have one, and I don't feel like buying one as it is rather expensive here (I'm a cheapskate student). So, I decided to use what I have at home - microwave! I've heard my friends cook rice using microwave, so it is possible to do for glutinous rice as well.

The recipe was based from The Hungry Excavator with slight modification. There is not much difference with the result, but I think steaming makes this kuih more fluffy. You can try this method if you are in a hurry, or if you don't have a steamer at home ;)

Kuih Seri Muka
[click for printable version]

Pandan Water
12 pandan leaves, cut into pieces
100 ml water

Bottom Layer (glutinous rice):
200 g glutinous rice (soaked overnight, drained)
125 ml coconut milk + 125 ml water
1 tsp salt
2 pandan leaves (knotted)

Upper layer (pandan custard):
2 large eggs
80 g castor sugar
200 ml coconut cream + 100 ml water
10 0ml pandan water
40 g tapioca flour
25 g plain flour
1/2 tablespoon corn flour


To make pandan water:
1. Blend the pandan and water in 3-4 batches, strain the mixture.

To make the kuih
2. Mix the rice, coconut milk solution, salt in a 24 cm springform pan, add pandan leaves on top and cook using microwave power high for 7 minutes, and using 60% power for 10-15 minutes (or until the rice is cooked). *If coconut water mixture drips from the pan, add more coconut water, and do the same if the glutinous rice is still dry and not cooked. 
3. Take out the pandan leaves, and set the pan  aside

To make custard layer:
4. Whisk the eggs and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add in pandan water, coconut cream, water and mix well.
5. Sift in all the flours and whisk till well combined, strain the mixture into a large pot and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Under medium heat, stir the custard mixture using wooden spatula until just thickens (don't overcook it).
7. Pour mixture over the rice and push the air bubbles to the site.
8. Put in the microwave and cook using 60% power for 15 minutes (or until custard layer is done)
9. Allow to cool, and cut it into rectangular shape using a knife that has been oiled.

p.s: Coconut cream is the concentrated version of coconut milk. If you can't find coconut cream, just use more coconut milk without diluting it with water.

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Recipe: Seafood 'Paella'

I have been wanting to eat paella (pronounced 'paeyya') after looking at my friends photos (urgh Khalis and Adilla!). I tried once at a Spanish restaurant in Malaysia, but was disappointed with the the taste. It was flavorful, but was too salty. Maybe it was not my day, but you might be lucky and not get salty paella when you eat there.

After looking for few recipes, I decided to make my own version of paella (thus explaining the name 'paella'). I used basmati rice instead of calasparra or bomba rice, used cast iron pan instead of paella pan and omitted frozen green peas that I hate so much (not sure if the original version even has this). It is not authentic, but the taste is about the same. My husband did say that it is not as flavorful as the original Spanish version, so I think it might be because I didn't use the Spanish paprika and I didn't put mussels in it.

Anyway, if you want to try paella, but lack the ingredients and paella pan, you can try using my version. You can put any seafood that you like. I was tempted to put oysters put my hubby hate them (how can someone hate oysters?!).

Seafood 'Paella' (recipe adapted from Adora's Box and Fine Cooking)
[click for printable version]


2 pinches of saffron
8 cups of shrimp broth (leftover shrimp shells, water, 2 pieces tomatoes)
1 small yellow onion
1 large ripe tomatoes 
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
8 medium cloves garlic, 4 finely chopped, 4 peeled but whole
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika powder
1 1/2 cup of basmati rice (soak for 30 minutes and drain)
1 red capsicum, cut into squares
12 prawns with shell
5 squids, cut into pieces
200 gm salmon, cut into cubes
1/2 lemon, cut into wedges 


Make the sofrito
1. Halve and peel the onion. Grate the onion to get about 1/3 cup of onion purée. Cut the tomato in half and grate the tomato halves all the way down to the skin to get about 1-1/4 cups juicy tomato pulp.
2. On a cast iron pan, over medium heat add 1/4 cup olive oil and cook the shrimps briefly, and put the shrimps aside, to the same thing to the squids. Add more olive oil to make the sofrito (up to 1/4 cup). Over medium-low heat add the grated onion, stirring occasionally, until it softens and darkens slightly, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato pulp, chopped and whole garlic, tomato puree, paprika powder and salt. Gently cook the mixture in the center of the pan, stirring frequently, until it’s deep, dark red and very thick, about 30 to 40 minutes. 

Make the shrimp broth
3. While waiting for sofrito to cook, put the shrimp shells in a large pot and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth discarding the shells and add the saffron.

Make the paella
4. When the sofrito is done, add the rice and red capsicum to the cast iron pan and cook briefly over medium heat, stirring constantly to combine them with the sofrito, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread the rice evenly in the pan. Increase the heat to high and slowly pour in the 5-1/4 cups broth—try not to disturb the rice so it stays in an even layer. From this point on, do not stir the rice. Bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, repositioning the pan as needed so it bubbles all the way to the edges (the bubbles at the edge will be much smaller than the bubbles at the center). Simmer vigorously until the rice appears at the level of the broth, about 8 minutes.
5. Arrange the shrimp and squids in the pan, pushing them into the rice. Continue simmering until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm (taste a few grains below the top layer). Cover with aluminium foil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the rice for about 30 minutes, keep checking if the rice is cooked and add more shrimp broth if the rice is not done.
6. While waiting for the paella to cook, prepare the salmon. Add salt and pepper to the salmon and grill for 20 minutes. 
7. When the paella is done check for any caramelized rice sticking to the pan by using a spoon to feel for resistance on the bottom of the pan. Check in several areas, especially in the center of the pan. If there is none, increase the heat to medium high and carefully cook, moving the pan around, until you hear a good deal of crackling and feel resistance, 1 to 2 minutes; if you smell burning, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Arrange salmon on the rice, let rest for 5 to 10 minutes and arrange lemon wedges on the paella. 

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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Recipe: Triple Lemon Cake

After watching Games of Throne, I've been craving to eat lemon cake, and I blame Sansa Stark for that. Since then, I have baked several lemon cakes using different recipes, and I like each one of it. My husband on the other hand prefers lemon cake with a dry texture. 'That is how lemon cake is supposed to be,' he said. It's funny how he becomes such a picky eater and good food critic after we got married (lalala~)

Most of the recipes that I found are for making tea cakes - which generally dry and dense. However, you can play around with the ingredients to get your desired texture. For moist cake, use oil instead of butter. You can even add more liquid (such as buttermilk, milk etc) for that. Fluffy textures requires cake flour and beating of the egg whites until soft peak and gently fold it in the cake batter.

I also reduced the amount of lemon zest in the cake batter from the original recipe as I want my cake to have nice balance of lemon taste when combined with lemon curd and lemon cream cheese frosting. Nevertheless, I used approximately five lemons for making this triple lemon cake.

The result of this cake was awesome! Very lemony and it feels so refreshing. My husband didn''t complain this time and he said it has the 'right'texture haha

Triple Lemon Cake

Lemon cake (adapted from Food Network)
125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 tablespoons castor sugar
4 eggs white, at room temperature
Grated lemon zest of 3 large lemons
350 g flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Freshly squeezed lemon juice of 1 1/2 lemons
200 g yogurt (I used Turkish yogurt)

Lemon curd cake filling (adapted from Fine cooking)
72 g unsalted butter
5 tablespoons castor sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
Pinch salt
4 large egg yolks

Lemon cream cheese frosting
250 g cream cheese (I used Turkish cream cheese)
100 g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons cream
100 g icing sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line four 6-inch cake pans
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and  sugar in the until light and fluffy add  the lemon zest and mix.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and  baking soda in a bowl. In another bowl, combine  lemon juice, and yogurt. Add the flour and yogurt mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
4. Beat the white eggs in separate bowl until soft peak form. Gently fold in the egg whites with the cake batter using wooden spoon. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out smooth. 

For filling:
1. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the sugar, lemon juice, zest, and salt. Whisk in the yolks until smooth.
2. Return the pot to medium-low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens. To check if the curd is thick enough, dip a wooden spoon into it and draw a your finger across the the back of the spoon; your finger should leave a path. Don't let the mixture boil. 
3. Immediately force the curd through a fine sieve into a bowl, using a wooden spoon. Let cool at room temperature, whisking occasionally. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

For frosting:
1. Mix everything in a large bowl and mix until frosting smooth.

To assemble: Layer the cake with curd filling and covered with the lemon cream cheese frosting

p.s: Prayers to all passengers and crews on flight MH17. Hope the loves one for those on board stay strong.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

D.I.Y Brownie Mix

I'm trying to reduce canned products as much as possible due to the BPA effects to our body, so I opt for products in glass jars/bottles instead. Besides, there are so many things that I can do with the jars and bottles instead of sending them to the recycling center. You can check out this Pinterest board for cool ideas of reusing your glass materials.

There is this satisfying  feeling when I do something, and giving it to someone. As for that, I made my own brownie mix in a glass bottle for my dad's in law birthday. I used the recipe from GoodFood with a slight modification, and used a 1 liter glass bottle for that. 

Brownie Mix

In the bottle
1/2 tsp salt
50 g plain flour
70 g cocoa powder
50 g plain flour
100 g dark brown sugar
100 g caster sugar
100 g dark chocolate break into small pieces (I used 86% Cote D'or)

150 g melted butter
3 beaten eggs

1. Layer the dry ingredients in a one liter bottle, based on the recipe above. Press each layer down before adding the next.
2. If you want to give to someone, include a card with the following instructions: Put the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Combine the mixture with melted butter and eggs and mix. Pour into a lined 9' x 9' pan and bake at 180 C for 20 - 35 minutes or until the surface becomes dry. 

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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Brownies with Dates - Recipe

Alone without a company I brave myself to watch a PhD defense at Aula, my first time going there and watching one. I've read one of the papers written by the PhD candidate, and was intrigued with his study. The process was alien to me, and I was wondering how it goes. Suddenly there was a loud knock on the floor and all the audiences stand. A female with a robe holding a scepter entering the hall with the PhD student accompanied with two paranymphs in their fancy suits. I was dumbfounded, and I can feel my jaw was dropping as I was too amazed with what just happened. Never would I have expected this event was going to be too formal and traditional. 

As he stand at the podium, he started off with the introduction of his study. I listened to him diligently, trying to get the whole idea. Shortly after he finished another loud knock was heard and the opponents (examiners) and defendants entered the room. I spotted S, my supervisor, as one of the defendants. Unlike the rest he was wearing unmatching jacket and pants with tomato designed tie and messy hair and a big smile on his face. It was hard for me to control my laughter, but S really made the formal event to be more laid back, which I like.

The event then started with the opponents asking questions to the PhD candidate, each was given specific time and the candidate answered each of their questions confidently. I had no idea what they were talking about, but I had the feeling neither did the rest of the floor. Whenever the opponents said 'Figure' or 'Table,' all the audiences flipped the paperback thesis that was given to us when we entered Aula, trying to make sense what was going on, and yet failed to grasp the idea (for me that is). When the 'debate' stop, all the opponents and defendants went out of the hall and entered again 10 minutes later with a Doctoral diploma handed to the candidate. At that moment, he's no longer a PhD student, but a Doctor.  I was so happy for him even though I don't know him personally. I can imagine the hard work that he went through, and the joy when he received his diploma.

Brownies with Dates
[Click for the printable version]

100 gm dark chocolate (I used 86% Cote D'or)
120 gm butter
250 gm castor sugar (You can reduce this amount if you want, the sugar here is not as sweet as the one in Malaysia)
3 large eggs
30 gm cocoa powder (I used Dutch process)
50 gm flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
11 Dates, pitted and cut into small pieces (I used Medjool dates)

1. Preheat oven at 180 °C. Line parchment paper on 8' x 8' pan with the paper extending at the sides.
2. Combine chocolate and butter in a microwaveable bowl and melt them in the microwave for 2 minutes, stopping at every 30 seconds and mix (or you can melt them using the double boiler method). Let it cool for a moment and combine sugar in the chocolate mixture.
3. Beat eggs in a large bowl, and combine the chocolate mixture with the eggs and mix using wooden spoon. Combine cocoa powder, flour, salt and dates and mix well. Pour the batter in the baking pan and bake for 30 minutes or until the surface looks dry and the sides are beginning to come away from the pan.
4. Leave the brownies to cool at the room temperature and cut into 16 pieces.

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