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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Devil Curry

                      Devil Curry is quintessentially a Eurasian dish and 9/10 you will find this served on Christmas or any other celebration in Eurasian households & most Eurasians, like yours truly, will say that their mum, grandmother or aunt makes the best Devil Curry.

                    For me, my aunt makes the best!!! Normally when we cook any kind of curries, it needs a day in the fridge before the taste kicks in so I was very surprised when my aunt made this for me; it tasted good on the day of cooking itself and I resolved that I was going to learn from her and learn from her, I did.

                    Armed with my note book & pencil, I asked her what she used & as she, rattled away, I wrote them down and for her there was no actual measurement; just this & that; etc. etc. but me when I cooked it; I religiously measured what I put in, according to her, of course.  I have always been one who aimed for consistency, not only in baking but also in my cooking.  I wanted to be able to reproduce a dish at the drop of a hat and haha, to block out murmurings from hub & children "It tasted better the last time you made it!!!" Prior to learning from her, I did not really enjoy the Devil Curry I made as I found that it lacked something but, really, couldnt put my finger to the elusive thing.  From her, I learnt the secret to her Devil Curry; was to cook it for about 40 - 60 minutes on real slow, slow fire so that the juice from the chicken will emit into the gravy & till the potatoes are cooked & she used S&W Distilled Vinegar.  No wonder when I cooked b4 I used the local vinegar; so this time round when I cooked it about a month ago, I bought the Heinz brand as I couldnt find the S&W brand then & I was able to gauge the actual difference. Thank you Aunty Lily for this awesome curry and I shall knight you "The Devil Curry Queen". So this is what I came up with. Ophelia.


                     125 gm               Shallots approximately 15
                       20 gm               Garlic approcimately 4
                       18 gm                Lengkuas
                       30 gm                Lemon Grass/Serai [3 Serai]
                       20 gm                Fresh Kunyit
                       20 gm                Ginger
                       20 gm                toasted Belacan
                          7 pieces          Buah Keras


                      110 gm                Fresh Red Chillies, remove the seeds
                          5                      *Red Chilli Padi
                       35 gm                  Dried Chillies, remove the seeds [For the dried Chillies
                                                   take a big handful, remove the seeds then weigh 35 gm]


                           1 Tablesp             *Mustard Seeds
                                                        *sufficient Oil for frying


                           1.5 kg                   whole Chicken legs, chop into pieces
                              4                        medium size Potatoes, quartered
                                                        *Water should be slightly below level of the Chicken
                                                           & Potatoes 

                           1 - 1 1/2 Tabsp     S&W Distilled Vinegar


                       1 level teasp     Ajinomoto [sorry folks she said you have to add some Ajinomoto]
                                                  OR substitute the Ajinomoto for 1/2 - 1 Tablesp Sugar
  1. Blend "A" & "B" till quite fine.
  2. *Heat the oil sufficiently hot then add in the *Mustard seeds. Once the Mustard seeds starts popping throw in your blended ingredients & tumis/fry till fragrant.
  3. Add in the chopped chicken & Potatoes & fry for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add *sufficient water [slightly lower than the level of the meat & potatoes] bring it to a Boil, stirring intermittenly.
  5. Once boiling Reduce fire to the lowest & let it simmer for 40 - 60 minutes; stirring intermittenly so that it doesnt get burnt at the bottom, till potatoes & meat cooked. Half way through add sufficient salt, Ajinomoto OR Sugar.
  6. After 40 minutes check whether Potatoes are soft.  If both are cooked, add the Distilled Vinegar, stir & cook for 5 minutes still on low fire in order for the vinegar to incorporate.  Check for taste. [*If you feel that curry is too thick for you, add some water, bring to boil & Check for taste, adjust if necessary]

                      a)  I didnt take the seeds out of the Chilli Padi;

                      b)  *Mustard seeds - when you fry Mustard seeds the oil Must NOT be too hot as they get burnt easily.  Once it starts jumping around, add in the blended ingredients;

                      c)  *Water should not be the same level of the meat & potatoes. This curry should be quite thick as in the picture above.  Thus if you find that the curry is too thick, it gives you room to adjust & add some water & some seasoning.  For me, I love when the curry is quite thick. 

                       d) *Oil for frying the blended ingredients should BE quite alot.  My mother-in-law, a great Peranak cook, used to tell me that when you fry any rempah ie the blended ingredients, there should be sufficient oil otherwise it wouldnt be so fragrant and if you want, you may scoop out the oil after it has been cooked.

                        e) Finally if you see the pictures at the bottom, dont be surprised that you can see two sets of rempah; different from what is written in my method.  The method above is as per my aunt's recipe. Follow that if you like.  In the cooking aspect, I wanted to follow what my Chef used to teach us i.e. Blend ingredients "A" first then scoop it out then blend ingredient "B".  Then fry "A" first till fragrant then add in "B" fry till fragrant then followed by Steps 3 - 6.   My Chef who excels in Thai cooking as his sister in law is a Thai, taught us whenever we fry rempah, to blend "A" & "B" separately then fry "A" first till fragrant then "B".  Although it may entail a bit more work, I do believe it raises the bar AND needless to say I always follow his method as I feel that it gives "A" which has the Belacan in it, a better chance to be more fragrant as it is not over powered by the Chilli portion.

                                        Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Carrot cake

              Christmas the day when the infant Jesus was born, is always a special time when families get together first in Church to welcome the birth of our Lord & to pay homeage to God & to the Holy Family & then lovers, families cherishing the time together and like other festivals, the time together means glorious food, laughter & love being spread around.

               Christmas has always been special to me and this year even more so.  Both my children left the family home to stay on their own and as this was their first Christmas in their own homes, we were happy to spend more quality time with each of them so I baked for each of them a Carrot cake with Marizpan carrots for this auspicious day when they celebrate their first Christmas in their own homes with family and their friends and I had so much fun making the Marizpan carrots; even though it was the first time I did the Marizpan Carrots after learning so long ago, & anticipating the "oohs and aahs from them".

                                Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My beautiful mum

           Today's the birthday of my late mum & although she has gone up to be with her Lord 16 years ago, she still remains very much alive in my heart.  Rest well mum in the peace you richly deserve.  Thank you for all you and pa did for me lovingly & for grooming me to be the person I am today. You taught me well & I have passed on the values you have instilled in me to my own kids. Ophelia

                                             Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Brownie Cheese cake with Orange glaze

                 When better half's birthday was half approaching, I was very excited. I made sure that I kept the eve of his birthday & his birthday itself, free from any cake orders, so that I can spend the eve baking a lovely cake in his honour.  It had to be special for that special person in my life and if it involved making an additional step ie baking the brownies & then inserting them as base for my Cheese cake which was infused with Grand Marnier, it didn't matter as I did allocate both days to be free.

              So this was what I baked for him and the next day ie the birthday itself, I made an Orange glaze which was infused with Grand Marnier & poured the hot glaze on top of the cold cake & allowed it to cool & then refrigerated same!!! It was a wee bit sweet; have to do some R&D & tone it down slightly on next attempt.

                                               The sliced Orange shreds were infused in the Orange Glaze together with the Grand Marnier then I removed same & caramalized with some sugar.

                                  And to my soul mate, thank you for all these years of love, laughter, help, I couldn't have asked for a better half, God bless. Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia.

TAU FOO FA [another recipe]

            Not too long ago I posted a Tau Foo Fah recipe using agar agar powder and I see alot of interest on this post.  Now I am posting another Tau Foo Fah recipe made from scratch; ie where you grind the soya beans yourself; which may take a bit more effort on your part. 

           I made this Tau Foo Fa recipe a couple of months back but had no time to post on same so today while waiting for better half to buy a couple of things in order for me to bake my last Fruit cake order, I ran out of flour despite buying so many packets of flour during this period.  I saw I had an unopened packet of flour in my pantry and as the manufacturers did not indicate the expiry date on the packet and I can't remember when I bought same as there were so many dashes to the baking ingredient shop during the 3rd half of Nov - Dec 2011, I dont know whether it was bought during this Nov - Dec period or before that, I darent take the risk to use same and opted for a fresh packet. Some people may say I am "stupid" just sieve the flour & see whether they are wevils, it may save a trip but sorry guys, I am not that kind of ppl.  For me when someone orders a cake from me; be it a simple Orange cake or a complicated Mousse cake, my key ingredients, flour, eggs, etc. had to be fresh; there is, simply, no two ways about it; so that in essense, is me as I believe, the mouth is a powerful instrument; it can either make you or break you and if you sell good cakes, albeit a little on the up scale side in terms of cost due to using good liqueur and premium items like Belgium bitter sweet couvertures, if the recipe calls for same, that is your advertisement; word of mouth.

             Again sorry for the digression as it is sometimes good to "talk shop".  Who knows, there might be someone out in blogworld who might, out of the 100 words I "speak" may find 10 that are useful :) Ophelia

             I will start with the syrup first as it needs to cool down first.

           [Ingredients for Syrup

            250 gm           Castor Sugar
            750 ml            Water
                2                  Pandan Leaves, shredded & tie into a knot
                1 slice           Ginger

                     Bring all ingredients of the Syrup to boil in a heavy based saucepan, stirring then simmer for 5 minutes.  Cool].

                  Ingredients for the Tau Foo Fa

                     250 gm         Soya Beans
                   *1900 ml          Water

                          1 teasp     Calcium Sulphate + 20 gm Tapioca Flour + 100 ml Water

              Method for Tau Foo Fa
  1. Rinse the Soya Beans then soak for 8 hours. Then rinse & drain on a siever. 
  2. Blend the Soya Beans through a grinder with 1 litre of water.  Strain through a muslin bag & squeeze the pulp.
  3. Pour the Soya Bean milk in a heavy based pot.  Add the BALANCE of 900 ml water into the pot & stir to incorporate same.
  4. Bring to boil over medium low heat; stirring all the while with a whisk.  Once it has boiled, Reduce fire to low & simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile stir the Calcium Sulphate mixture till well combined.  Pour this mixture into the  ANOTHER POT that you want to set the Tau Foo Fa.  Immediately after the 5 minutes is up, pour into the pot from a *height of 7".  DO NOT STIR. Cover the lid & let it set; probably in 30 minutes.  [TIMING IN STEP 5 IS IMPORTANT. WHILE IT IS SIMMERING FOR 5 MINUTES, GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO STIR THE CALCIUM SULPHATE MIXTURE; POUR THE CALCIUM SULPHATE MIXTURE INTO THE POT YOU WANT TO SET THE TAU FOO FAR & THEN THE SIMMERED TAU FOO FA LIQUID. 
  6. Skim off the foam on top before serving.

                     a) *Pouring from a height of 7" allows the hot liquid to mix the Calcium Sulphate mixture;
                     b) Calcium Sulphate - some ppl say that this is not good for health. I have made both versions of the Tau Foo Fah in my Blog and all I can say is that there is a slight difference in using Calcium Sulphate also known as Plaster of Paris in the cake supply shop and that it is not often I use it but the choice is yours; using agar agar powder or Calcium Sulphate;
                      c) The Chef that taught me this also ask us to remove the skin of the Soya Bean; supposedly not good for gout but then soya is not good for gout but to give her credence, I remove all the skin; one by one and took it a step further by removing the sprout too!!! Dont after that, someone come & tell me that the sprout is also bad and it was indeed tedious.  Thats why I rationalise that I will use Calcium Sulphate; that is the traditional way as how often do I want to do this.  Taste good, kerja banyak!!!


                                      Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tong Yin

               For the Chinese the last festival which is generally celebrated on 22nd December is very important, if not, more important than the Chinese New Year.  It is the time when most Chinese would clean their homes & either making the Tong Yin from scrath or buy them.  Days of long ago I remember that when ppl were busy in their working lives, they would buy the ready made dough from the wet market but these days ppl are spoilt for choice.  They can buy the ready made Tong Yin & with filling to boot from the supermarkets!!! For us, my late mother-in-law used to make the plain Red & White Tong Yin from scratch & the sugar syrup she made was lovely, rest in peace mum.

               Ingredients for Sugar Syrup

                   1 litre             Water
               120 gm               Rock Sugar
                    1 slice            Ginger, smashed
                    2                    Pandan leaves

                           Boil all together till rock sugar melted.

                   Ingredients for Filling

                   100 gm               Peanuts, toasted & ground coarsely
                     25 gm               White Sesame seeds, toasted
                     50 gm                Castor Sugar
                     10 gm                Peanut oil, warm for 30 seconds for easy binding
                     59 gm                Peanut Butter, smooth
                    2 1/2 Tablesp     Hot water

                            Combine all the ingredients for the filling.

                   Ingredients for Tong Yin

                   175 gm               Glutinous Rice Flour
                     12 gm               Wheat Starch/Tang Mein flour
                    170 - 175 ml      Hot boiling water

                           Combine flours, add sufficient, hot boiling water & mix to form a soft dough. Divide into 2 halves; colour one half with some red colouring. Divide dough to 10 gm balls.

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              To assemble
  1. Roll a portion of the 10 gm ball, flatten into a round.  Place a teaspon of filling in the centre, seal & roll into a ball.  Repeat with remaining dough & filling.  Dough is sticky so I rub some glutinuous rice flour on my palms.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil.
  3. Toss them in boiling water until they float.  Drain well.  Serve with either cold or hot syrup.

                                       The balls were not perfect in shape and size but they did taste good.
                I love ginger & adding a slice of ginger to the syrup brings oodles of delight for me.  Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia.