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Monday, January 30, 2012


            Wow it was so many long years ago I learnt this & today I finally, with the help of Hubs, made it for dinner.  I made the pickled Onions a few days ago, bottled it & kept it in the fridge, as I wanted the Onions to infuse in the Vineagar; thus having time to absorb the sharpness of the Vinegar & then being mellowed down by the Sugar & giving the bottle an occasional shake; giving it a nice balance of flavour & I was mighty glad that it had a nice crisp still. This post is esp dedicated to you Sarah & those overseas who may long for same. All recipes in my blog, please use cake measuring spoons & cups.

             Making the Murtabak brought back many lovely memories of my bff, Bud, as we both use to always go for class together every week as we both acknowledge that it made a world of difference going for classes as we can then not only see the demo by the different Chefs & but we were able to taste the cake/food & if we love them, we will bake/cook same But to me, the most important was writing down my observations during class & the tips that the Chef gave & thank goodness I took down good notes, in short hand too when the Chef speak fast And today proved the point that even though I learnt this 9 years ago, it was the first time I made this And as I wasnt sure whether it would "jadi"/turn out, I didnt cook the accompanying curry, Hubs just bought Dry Mutton Curry & Chicken Curry. I also adjusted the recipe according to my taste buds.

               Everything was done manually & after kneading intensively for 10 minutes, the dough was elastic [elastic - when you pinch a bit of the dough & pull it & if it stretches quite thinly, the dough is ready & it has then to rest for 2 hours] & I felt satisfied as when I touched the dough it was smooth & soft.

              As I only had minced pork in the freezer, I used that for my filling & now that I know that I can make it, the next time round, I would use minced mutton or beef. After we ate this for dinner I asked the Hubs how did he rate the Murtabak & he gave me an 8/10 being my first time doing same, I was quite happy with that.

              Ingredients for pickled Onions:- Make this 2 days earlier

              Peel 2 medium size Big Onions. Cut into halves lengthwise. Then slice it thinly & place in a bottle with 3 - 4 Tablesp White Vinegar & 4 teasp Sugar, add a drop of red colour if you wish. It would be good if you can give the bottle an occasional shake :)

              Ingredients for the filling:-

                  2 Tabsp              Oil
              300 gm                   minced Mutton/Beef/Chicken
              250 gm                   Big Onions, cubed
                10 gm                   Ginger, cubed
                  2 Tabsp              ground Cumin
                  1 Tabsp              Chilli Powder OR coarse Chilli Flakes [slightly less than 1 Tabsp]
               1/2 Tabsp              Garam Masala
                1/2 teasp              ground Black Pepper
                   1 level teasp     Salt
                   1 sprig                Curry Leaves
                   1                         Green Chilli
                   2                         Eggs


               Ingredients for dough

               200 gm                         Plain Flour/Tepung Gandung, sieve same
                 1/2 level teasp           Salt
                    2 level teasp           Sugar
                    2 level Tablesp       soften Margarine/Butter
                 *125 - 130 ml              cold UHT Milk


  1. In respect of the filling - Marinate the minced meat with the ground Cumin, Chilli Powder, Garam Masala, ground Black Pepper & Salt for 30 minutes in the fridge. 
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan then sweat/fry the Onions, Ginger & Curry Leaves [crush the curry leaves before adding into the hot oil; as crushing it would "encourage" more aroma] for a short while [as we dont want to over cook the Onions].
  3. Add in the marinated meat & stir fry it till cooked.  Dish out & let it cool.
  4. In respect of the DOUGH - Sieve the flour then combine the Salt & Sugar with the Flour in a mixing bowl or tabletop.
  5. Mix in the soften Margarine OR Butter lightly with your fingertips till fats well distributed.
  6. If you are doing on your tabletop make a well with the flour [or if you are afraid that the milk will spill out just do Step No.5 onwards in a mixing bowl] gradually pour the cold Milk in the well [LEAVE a little of the Milk behind as the recipe calls for 125 ml UHT Milk, I measured 130 ml UHT Milk just in case the flour is dry & needs a little more milk] & mix manually till it forms a fairly soft, pliable dough 
  7. Dust your tabletop with a wee bit of flour [if too much flour is dusted, your dough wouldnt be soft] Then knead the dough manually for 10 - 12 minutes, using the back of your palms to push the dough, Till the dough is smooth & elastic. [To know whether dough is elastic, after 10 minutes, pinch a small piece & pull it & it should stretch quite easily & be somewhat transparent].
  8. Once it is elastic, weigh into 5 equal balls.  [I weighed 5 balls @ 70 - 71 gm Each] .
  9. Roll into smooth balls; coating each one quite generously with some oil & place in a big bowl & cover with a clean kitchen cloth & let it REST for 2 hours [this resting time is crucial as it makes the dough more elastic & easy to stretch].
  10. Meanwhile measure your filling into 5 equal portions & place in 5 individual small bowls & cover same so as that the filling does not get dry.
  11. To shape the Murtabak - After the dough has rested for 2 hours, drizzle your tabletop or a large plastic with some oil.   Place one ball, [cover the rest so that it does not dry out] on the oiled tabletop & flatten it evenly with your palm into a circle.
  12. Then place the back of both your palms under the dough & carefully stretch the dough, as it may tear quite easily, working your way round the circle till it is quite thinly stretched.
  13. Assembling the Murtabak - Break 2 eggs in a bowl, beat with a fork & put some in each of the 5 bowls; making sure you dont add too much egg as it may ooze out when you put on the dough.
  14. Place the filling in the centre of the dough.  Fold the dough over the filling into a neat square.
  15. Heat a heavy base [5 ply] frying pan with 1 1/2 Tablesp of Oil. Carefully lift the dough into the hot oil, Reduce the heat to medium low as the outside may brown faster than the filling inside has a chance to set, cook for 3 - 4 minutes on each side or till the Murtabak is golden brown on the outside [tilt it too so that the sides can get cooked also] & the inside dough is cooked through.

                                      Pickled Onions

                            I made a well & gradually poured the milk; leaving just a bit behind

                                 Didnt need to use all the 130 ml of the cold milk

                                         Using the back of my palm to knead the dough vigorously

                              After dough was elastic, divided dough into 5 balls @ 70 gm each

                                  Coating each ball quite generously with oil & then putting them in a covered
                 tupperware to rest for 2 hours


               Using the back of my palms to stretch the dough gently.  As you can see I manage to stretch
      it quite thinly and after putting my fingers behind the stretched dough, you can see that it is quite

                                Hubs is folding it neatly into a square

                              Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Puff Pastry again

                 Wow when I first attempted to make puff pastry & blogged about it a week ago, I did mention that it would not be long before I made puff pastry again but I didnt expect to bake it within 10 days!!! 

                 My five senses; hearing, taste, sight, smell & touch experienced euphoria when I was able to bake the puff pastry from scratch & fresh from the sweet scent of success, I could not wait a day longer to do it again.

                I decided to make one & a half times of the recipe with a meat filling. I made the pastry yesterday & divided into 2 batches, used one batch & kept the other in the fridge.  The first batch which I made yesterday, I rolled it into a long sandwich & inserted the meat in the middle & after I baked it, I sliced it as I forgot to slice it :( before baking & my heart dropped when a few, precious layers peeled off, I realised then that the roll was slightly too thick :) & as it was not sliced prior to baking, I think the puff didnt have the sides to flake out, hubs said it was ok but I was disappointed as I found that it was not flaky enough; unlike my first attempt, which I didnt roll into a long sandwich & my 1st attempt was simply perfect & crunchy!!!

                 From my puff pastry library:-


                                                 My very first attempt; sweet taste of success

                                 Not happy with my 2nd attempt; I rolled it into a long sandwich & didnt slice it before baking, as I forgot to slice it :( that is why I think it didnt flake out much & clustered together.

                                 So today, I decided to use a round cutter & gently cut straight through; tried not to move sideways, just straight through as didnt want to spoil any flakes!!! Then I added the filling & then fold it into half. Dont press on the edge of the curry puff as you dont want to "disturb" the flakes :)  Find the empty gap between the filling & the edge then pressed hard on the empty gap to prevent it from opening out too much while baking. If you see the the other unbaked curry puff in this picture, you can clearly see that I pressed the empty gap.  Then use a skewer to make some holes

               Tralllllaaa this is the result of today's effort.  It remains the most awesome thing I have ever done in terms of pastry!!! Haha I am in 7th heaven!!! Thank you Lord for I always believe that (1) one should never take things for granted (2) to always remember to, not only seek YOU in times of despair but also to thank YOU for all good things that appear on the radar.  Praise the Lord, Allelulia.  And, when I posted this 2nd attempt on puff pastry on my FaceBook, it was so awesome when one of my friends wanted to order this flaky curry puff from me; so it was kinda nice to think that me, a novice in puff pastry, may find a niche for this!!! My only regret was that inspite of learning 7 years ago from three different Chefs, I never took the interest to do it as I was too afraid of failure as not experienced enough in practising the method. Now that I have done this altogether 3 times in the space of 10 days, I find that it was not hard only tedious & that I needed to change my mind set on this kind of pastry.

               I am so glad that very early in the year I have started my NY resolution to pay more attention to all things pastry & my next pilot project would be Croissant & Danish; haha I have already asked the hubs to buy Croissant Pastry Margarine which is in my fridge & which is just waiting for me to make a bee line to do same!!!

                       Till my next post, xoxoxoxoxo, Ophelia.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sambal Ikan Bilis for Nasi Lemak

                  I love eating this sambal with Nasi Lemak on a cold, rainy day.  Made this for dinner last nite & specially kept some extra so that I dont have to worry about lunch the next day!!! 

                  For all the recipes in my blog use cake measuring spoons & cups unless otherwise specified.  Please note that I am not a Chef or Baker by profession; only a passionate home maker.

            Ingredients for Sambal Ikan Bilis

           200 gm                Shallots/small onions
                1                     whole, small, pod of Garlic
              25 gm                Belacan, untoasted
              50 gm                Dried Prawns
            500 gm                Chilli Boh

                80 gm              Assam Jawa, washed & mix with 1 cup water
                   2 Tabsp        Brown Sugar

                 4 big                Onions, wedged
             250 gm                 Ikan Bilis


         Seasoning -  1 teasp Salt; 2 Tabsp Castor Sugar

           *Sufficient oil for frying



  1. Fry the Ikan Bilis till golden brown & crispy & dish out & divide into 2 portions; one to add in the sambal & the other to serve with the Nasi Lemak. 
  2. Blend the Shallots, Garlic, Belacan & Dried Prawns ["blended ingredients"].
  3. Heat sufficient oil & fry the blended ingredients till aromatic.
  4. Add in the Chilli Boh & continue to fry till aromatic.  Add more oil if needed.
  5. Add in the big onion wedges & fry for a short while in order to sweat the big onion. 
  6. Add in the Assam Jawa mixture, the 2 Tablesp Brown sugar, the seasoning & the pre fried Ikan Bilis.  Check for taste & adjust accordingly.


                        a)  To fry Ikan Bilis - sorry at the risk of not sounding condescending; we were informed by the Chef at our cooking class that when we want to deep fry anything; we should heat the oil hot; add in whatever it is we want to fry, immediately turn down the heat to medium low & fry till almost done then before we dish out, we should turn up the heat again & dish out otherwise a lot more oil would be retained in the dish;

                        b)  To a nyonya like my esteemed Mother-in-law, when you want to fry/tumis rempah/blended ingredients, you need to have a lot of oil for the rempah to be properly fried & after making the sambal; if there is a lot of oil; just scoop it out otherwise your sambal dont have the ooph factor; my esteem husband also endorse this fact as he is a good cook too :)

                        Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Puff Pastry from scratch

                     5.10.2013 Ok this is my comments for today.  I remember when I posted this recipe, I wrote then that I lost track of the time so when I made this savoury puff pastry today, I made some changes to the oven heat as the last time when I bake the puff pastry, IT took way too long.  So this time, after checking with another recipe which I learnt from another Chef, I changed the oven heat to 200 degrees Celcius & baked for 25 minutes & I am happy with the result.  It was still crispy after 2 hours.  This time I increased the recipe by another half so in essence I made a 1 1/2 recipe this time.  For the recipe below I WILL NOW ADJUST THE OVEN HEAT & TIME TO THE ONE I MADE TODAY.  Ophelia. 

           Yesterday marked one of my greatest achievement; rolling & folding & baking puff pastry from scratch.  Although I have learnt same from 3 different Chefs seven years ago, I made no real effort to do same as making Danish, Puff Pastry & not to forget flaky curry puffs with oil & water dough, from scratch was something that I have put off for so long for fear of failure but that didnt stop me from browsing these 3 things constantly; playing the routine in my mind till I knew them like the back of my hand & if you were to ask me to take a test on theory, I would probably get through as I am always, always, browsing what I have learnt for the past 3 decades & then one day I woke up from hibernation!!! Among my good friends, I have been known to "sleep" on something new & "frightening" then when I suddenly wake up from hibernation, I will be filled with sheer bravado to just get the job done!!!  And the real satisfaction was to see the hub's pleasure in eating the Puff Pastry & hearing the crunch from the flaky layers, that was the best reward.  I purposely kept a piece to eat the next day & before I could warm it up in the oven, the hubs was eating it, managed to sneak a bite, it was still crunchy but not as nice as the day it was baked but the hubs was still pleased with it, that's that matters to me, so let's now get to the real business of doing "together"!!!

            Of the 3 recipes that I learnt, I choose to make this first for the simple reason that it was a smaller load but more importantly, the dough is done manually and it only seem natural for me to do this as it was my maiden attempt at puff pastry & I wasnt sure of the outcome but now that I know that I can do it, perhaps the next time I might just try to do one & a half times the recipe, which, I promise myself, will be sometime soon after I have finished my CNY cake orders, as I want to make savoury fillings for Hubs & my children & a few options rush to my mind, an awesome & easy curry puff filling, a chicken pie filling & minced lamb filling  :) The Chef who taught me this recipe said, the key to success is not only resting the dough But also NOT to dust too much flour on the rolling pin as well as on your table top & I made sure that I dusted it scantly AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST when you roll, do it gently and in one direction only otherwise you might "disturb" the layering and when you are ready to bake, make sure that when you cut into desired shapes, use a sharp knife & do a clean cut as you dont want to spoil the layers after so putting so much effort into it.  Definitely there's alot of work & details involved but I always did like to do things from scratch.


               200 gm               Tepung Gandung/Plain Flour
                 50 gm               High Protein Flour [Bread Flour]
                 30 gm               Butter, slightly hard
               1/4 teasp            Salt
               130 ml                 Cold Water
               110 gm                 Pastry Margarine

  1. Sieve both flours together into a mixing bowl. 
  2. Add the salt & mix it to combine same into the sieved flours.
  3. Add the slightly hard butter & mix it with your hands till it resembles bread crumbs.
  4. Gradually add the cold water & mix it lightly with your finger tips till it forms a dough [making sure you Dont over knead].  
  5. Cover the mixing bowl with a cloth or large plastic sheet & let the dough rest for 15 minutes, at room temperature.  [I covered mine with plastic sheet].
  6. Place the pastry margarine in the middle of a large plastic sheet then fold the plastic sheet.  Use the rolling pin & roll or *beat it to a flat square.  Set aside.
  7. Dust your working table & rolling pin with a little flour. Place your dough & roll it long. Try to achieve a 12" x 8" size.
  8. Gently remove the flatten Pastry Margarine & place it in the middle of the rolled dough; making sure that the pastry margarine does not reach the top & bottom edge. 
  9. Take one end of the dough and bring it to the centre & fold it over the pastry margarine. Then bring the other end of the dough over to "meet" the other.  Then make a "Book fold" ie fold it into two
  10. Turn the pastry 90 degrees, scatter a little flour underneath & gently roll out the pastry away from you [upward direction] into a 12" x 8" size & in *one direction ONLY  making sure you sort of roll it level.  Cover & REST the dough for 10 minutes.
  11. Again take one end of the dough & bring to the centre of the dough; bring the other end to the centre to meet [this is called a "Three Fold"] then gently lift the dough, throw a little flour underneath & make a 90 degrees turn & roll again to same size 12" x 8" & then repeat the folding.  Cover & REST for 10 minutes.
  12. Repeat the same step of rolling to 12" x 8" then fold then gently lift up the dough onto a large clear plastic, cover it & let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  13. After removing from the fridge let it thaw for a while once it is pliable repeat the rolling & folding for 2 more times; let it have a "final" rest for 15 minutes.
  14. The puff pastry is ready yeah!!! You can either wrap it & store in the fridge OR use it straight away.  Cut it into desired shapes, place on a tray lined with parchment paper & bake in a Preheated oven at 200 degrees Celcius for 20 minutes & bake till puff is Golden brown ie 25 minutes. 


                                          Placing the pastry margarine in the middle & bringing both ends meet.  You can see from this picture that the pastry margarine is Not to the extreme edge of both sides.


                          You can egg wash it before baking.  If you use Either:-

                              a) the whole egg for glazing, it would be more shinny; 

                              b)  only the egg yolk + 2 teasp water, it would be more aromatic;

                       I forgot to egg glaze :(

                          Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia

Monday, January 9, 2012

My game plan for 2012

                What's my game plan for 2012? First, my desire is to focus on the Word of the Lord by daily reading of the Bible & trying to practise what the Bible teaches us.  My next target is to reach my ultimate goal by setting the Bar higher for myself in the "baking department" & to come out of my comfort zone & to do things that I have Always been afraid to do Because of the fear of failure.  Now I motivate myself to just do it; failure is the fore runner of success for without failure you will not attain the sweet smell of success.

                  I have devised a plan for myself to keep the 52 Mondays of 2012 free to practically do this, unless of course I have a cake order which will then take precedence, & to start the ball rolling for the first Monday of 2012 I baked a cake which was slightly much harder as too much technicalities involved, an oil free Orange cake; ground almonds & being substituted in place of Butter; which gave some of the oil factor & not to mention the taste & the aroma.  I was very glad that the level of the cake came out straights but most important, the cake "had no waistlines" ie the sides of the cake were straight too!!! Simply purfect!!! Then I set about moulding some Marzpan Oranges with store bought Marzpan.  Although I learnt how to mould Marzpan Carrots & Bumble Bees seven years ago, I always hesitated to do mould them as I didnt find the niche to market a dressed up cake.

                     After completing both, I gave this cake to my child, who was organising an Office Luncheon on the 2nd January 2012 for the halal group & my Fruit Cake for the others & I was very happy to hear that they loved both.

                       So today being the 2nd Monday, I am trying my hand at making Puff Pastry from scratch & let's hope that it will be a "small" success for me as I have never made Puff Pastry before & I will keep my fingers crossed as there is a thin line between Success & Failure & as one of my FB friend told me ever so nicely that 2012 should be the year for me to fly & fly I will God willing.

                                                 And this was what I did just now :)

                          Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia

Saturday, January 7, 2012


               I was taught by my bff, who is an awesome homemaker, that to keep the Chillies fresher & longer to remove its stem & I found that to be a good tip & practise same as during the rainy season, the fresh Red Chillies cost $20.00 a kilo!!!  To those who are seasoned homemakers, I am sure that this is something you all know & practise too.  I just love to reach out to the young adults with my cooking, baking & tips.

                             Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia

Friday, January 6, 2012

Twelve Night cake

           As there were quite a bit of Raisins, dried Apricots, etc left over after completing my Fruit cake orders and there was only one slice remaining of my Fruit cake, I decided to make the Twelve Night cake yesterday to appease my tummy & hub's.  

            Strangely enuf, the hubs ate quite a bit of my fruit cake. For years he used to tell me that he didnt like fruit cake so when I cut a slice to eat during the Christmas hols, out of courtesy I asked whether he wanted a piece & when he said he wanted, I hid a smile & gingerly gave him his share so I was pleasantly surprised when he asked for a piece for tea the next day. He must be probably thinking, after seeing the amount of my fruit cake orders, to give it a try.  If you were to ask me what is the difference between my fruit cake & the twelve night cake, I will summarize it in one sentence.  Fruit cake is slightly more dense/heavy whereas the twelve night cake is more moist, as it has sour cream in it & lighter than the fruit cake. 

           Ok back to the issue at hand.  The Twelve Night heralds the Feast of Epiphany & concludes the 12 nights of Christmas & is a time for merry making.

           So after making a few changes to what we were taught, I baked it & served it to the hubs for tea today.

                            Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Marizpan Carrots

           When my children were celebrating their own Christmas party in their own homes, I decided to make for each of them a Carrot cake with Marizpan Carrots & after I posted the picture of the Carrot cakes I made on FB, one of my friends commented that Bugs Bunny would jump out of the screen to get the carrots & I felt good & it made it all so worthwhile as after completing my Christmas Fruit Cake orders by 21st December 2011, I was left with 3 days to do Carrot cake for them, a Fruit cake for myself & baking my Exotic Roast Chicken for a pot luck party on the 24th & it was quite a hectic month but I am glad that I kept to my baking schedule, last stop for cake orders on 21st December as it bought me some time to bake for my own family.

            Making Carrots from store bought Marizpan was a breeze as even though I learnt how to make Marizpan; it was way too much in quantity for just 16 Carrot. 

            If you like to make the carrots; buy from a cake ingredient shop, measure 100 gm then knead it manually, roll it too between your palms as the heat from your palms will make it more pliable.

              For the Carrots:-

              a) From the 100 gm take out 84 gm;
              b) Colour them Orange [food safe colours]. Knead then roll between your palms
                  as the heat from your palms will make it pliable. Knead until the colour is blended
              c) Scale to 16 portions of 5 gm each.  Roll each 5 gm into ball;
             d) Then roll into the shape of a Carrot. Set aside.


                       For the leaves:-

                      i)    From the balance 16 gm; colour them Green with safe food colours;
                     ii)    Knead then roll between your palms till colour well blended;
                    iii)    Scale to 16 portions of 1 gm each; Roll into a slightly elongated ball.

                               Finale - assembling

                              1)  With a toothpick make a hole at the top of the Carrot;
                              2)  Insert the green ball into the hole;
                              3)  Use a scissors & cut the green tops slightly & ensure
                                    that the leaf is secured properly in the hole.

                          Traaallla your Carrots are ready for decorating.  Have fun, till my next post xoxo, Ophelia.