Durian Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, especially since the arrival of my new baby, Madelyn Suria Si-Xuan Chiew on November 28, 2009. I’ve also been busy with my baby blog over at MommiRazzi.

When my parents were over in December, they bought some frozen Thai durians (Monthong) for my sisters and I. These are the de-seeded kind that are sold packaged in a plastic container. We did not get to eating them because we also bought the whole fruit kind that tasted much better. Since I had mushy de-seeded durians lying around in the freezer, I decided that it’s time to make my first ever durian cake.

I found a good but rather tedious recipe here, and I’ll copy the recipe on my blog for your reference with a few notes. I did not use a bundt pan, but I was able to fit the batter into two 8″ round pans. I baked them @ 300F deg for about 1 hour. The cake came out very good, and it had the consistency of pound cake. The taste of durian isn’t overwhelming but do warn the other people in the house of the heavenly “aroma” that will whiff through the house as you bake this cake!

Ingredients

(A)
250 gm unsalted butter,room temperature
300 gm sugar (if your durian is sweet use lesser sugar,maybe 200 gm)
4 eggs,room temperature

(B)
200 gm durian flesh,removed seeds (or get the frozen de-seeded kind)
1/2 cup 2 % milk
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp durian essence (I used vanilla extract instead)

(C)
200 gm self -raising flour,sifted (I used 200gm of all-purpose flour and added 2 tsp of baking powder instead)
100 gm cake flour,sifted
1 tbsp custard powder,sifted

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F ┬á(You might find that you will need to bake at 300F for a longer duration instead if you are not using bundt pan) .Prepare a large or 12 cups non-stick bundt pan. (I used two 8″ round Wilton pans instead. I also used Wilton’s Cake Release on the pans).
  2. Combine ingredients(C) in a large bowl, sift and set aside.
  3. Combine ingredients (B) in blender or food processor, blend till well combine, set aside.
  4. Combine ingredients (A) in mixer except eggs at high speed till light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium when add eggs one at a time and cream well after each addition.
  5. Pour ingredients(B) into the mixer with (A) and whisk for 1 minute or until well combine, then add in (C), together into the mixture well for 30 seconds.
  6. Pour the cake batter into a greased pan,bake for 45-50 minutes (or longer if not using bundt pan) or adjust to your oven temperature,till golden brown. Test with a toothpick. When comes out clean, it’s ready.
  7. Remove cake from oven and then pan,leave it cool. Sprinkle with some icing sugar before cut into pieces and serve with tea or coffee as snack.

Huevos Rancheros (Cooked Salsa Recipe)

Today, Andy and I had the ultimate Mexican breakfast. We had to use steak knives and fork for this breakfast. I’ve wanted to try Huevos Rancheros (Ranch Eggs) in Mexico but never got the chance when we were there. Since we have some sour cream, tomatoes and tortillas leftover from the week, I though why not make it myself this time.

I found an easy and flexible recipe here, and below is my modified recipe of the cooked salsa sauce. You can make the sauce ahead of time or the night before so that there is less to do in the morning. Just reheat in the microwave or on the stove prior to serving. This is also good salsa to be eaten with tortilla chips when you have company over.

You can have guacamole and Spanish rice on the side if you prefer to have only 1 egg and 1 tortilla for your Huevos Rancheros. But for us, I actually sandwiched mozzarella cheese between the stove-top heated tortillas in the microwave prior to placing the eggs and salsa on top to make a fast cheese quesadilla.

Ingredients for cooked salsa

  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 to 1 1/2 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 or 3 pieces of canned chipotle soaked in adobo sauce, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Sweat the onions in 2tbsp of olive oil in a medium sauce pan or skillet under medium heat. Add garlic and diced peppers and let them cook for about 2 minutes. Stir to avoid them from sticking to the pot or pan.
  2. Add in chopped tomatoes and chipotles. Add in some sauce from the can if preferred. Stir and let ingredients cook until soften. The tomatoes should produce enough liquid for the salsa after simmering for a while, otherwise you can add a a tablespoon or two of water. It should take about 30 minutes for all the vegetables to be soft enough.
  3. Season with salt to taste. If tomatoes are too acidic, add a pinch of sugar.

Vegetarian Healthy Choice Frozen Meals

It has been a while since frozen meals had knocked my socks off, but while surrendering to impulsive snacking last night at 10 because I did not make enough food for dinner, I reluctantly pulled out a frozen box of Healthy Choice’s Mediterranean Pasta. I know, it’s not really snacking when one reaches over for a full serving of pasta but hey, it was only 360 calories, all-natural (according to the label) and it had lots of whole grains, beans and fruits in it. Plus, I did share some of it with Andy, so I felt less guilty about it.

Upon removing the plastic film from the microwaved tray of pasta, the sweet aroma from apple and elderberry juice and spices used to make this meal hit my olfactory receptors, thus activating my salivary glands. This dish not only looked appetizing with pops of red from dried cranberries, it also has a lot of beans. Now, Andy never liked beans but even he could not resist this dish after dunking a whole bowl of Maggi Mee Kari by himself. The saltiness from Fontina cheese gave it the right amount of kick and balance to this meal.

I’m ecstatic to find out that Healthy Choice finally made something good and substantial for vegetarians. Perhaps if you are not cheapskates like Andy and I who would think twice before spending more than $2 for a box of frozen meal, you could find something decent. I remember poring my frozen ass over aisles and aisles of frozen food at the grocery store and wished that Healthy Choice actually made something for vegetarians aside from plain old linguine alfredo and mac ‘n cheese. I know that I shouldn’t buy all these frozen stuff, since I highly advocate eating homemade and fresh food as much as we can, but when one has to get up for work at 6 a.m. and only gets home at 8 p.m. at night, aside from cutting an apple and packing it up for lunch, I really don’t want to make anything else for lunch the next day. So, that’s my lame reason for bukling under. Ha-ha. I have given them up since I was laid off anyway, and this box of frozen meal was bought prior to that unfortunate incident.

Anyway, someone at Healthy Choice must have telepathically heard me because their all-new all natural line of products consists of very exciting and mouth-watering vegetarian entrees. YIPPEE!! On their website, I found out that they now offer the following vegetarian all natural choices:

  • Mediterranean Pasta (360 calories, 45 calories from fat, 500 mg sodium, 13g protein)
  • Portabella Marsala Pasta (270 calories, 70 calories from fat, 550mg sodium, 12g protein)
  • Portabella Spinach Parmesan ( 270 calories, 70 calories from fat, 600mg sodium, 11g protein)
  • Pumpkin Squash Ravioli (300 calories, 60 calories from fat, 600mg sodium, 9g protein) – Lean Cuisine also makes a version of squash ravioli that is very good
  • Sweet Asian Potstickers (380 calories, 45 calories from fat, 600mg sodium, 8g protein)
  • Tomato Basil Penne (260 calories, 60 calories from fat, 600mg sodium, 8g protein)

The Mediterranean Pasta that I had left me feeling thoroughly satisfied and actually kinda stuffed. The sweet, sour and salty flavours tantalized my tastebuds and despite being a little salty, I thought it was worth it.

For only $2.00 from on sale at Target, I think this is a very good buy. I say give it a try­čÖé Lean Cuisine, watch out!

Sambal Nasi Lemak

My aunt used to make me jars and jars of sambal belacan to bring back to North America with me every time I go home to Malaysia for holiday. I had decided that I should learn to make it myself and luckily with the advent of the Internet, I found many sambal recipes posted online by fellow Malaysians locally and abroad (like me). I had previously posted a version of nasi lemak last year, served with sambal telur instead.

I am posting an adapted version of sambal ikan bilis from Rasa Malaysia, only because I do not use ikan bilis (anchovies) in mine (it’s vegetarian) and I used jarred chopped chillies instead – see picture above (mainly because I was not able to find long thin dried chillies here). I made this version of sambal for a potluck in December and it was a huge hit. I really do think that the secret ingredient to my sambal are tamarind (assam jawa) juice, brown or palm sugar (gula melaka) and sea salt (as opposed to iodised salt) .Also, I do not own a mortar and pestle, I would love to because food does taste different compared to those made with the food processor, but I don’t think my neighbours below me would appreaciate it­čśŤ

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1.5″ to 2″ ball of tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 stalk lemongrass thinly sliced (use only the bottom 3 inches of the stalk)
  • 10 dried chillies or 1 cup jarred chopped chillies
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetarian belacan (prawn paste) powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of brown/palm sugar (gula melaka), or to taste

Method

  1. Soak the tamarind pulp in warm water for 15 minutes or more. Squeeze the tamarind constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Remove seeds, drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
  2. Slice onions into rings or half rings.
  3. Pound or grind the prawn paste together with lemon grass, shallots, garlic, and chillies. We will call this the spice paste.
  4. Heat 1/2 cup of cooking oil in a hot wok. Do not skim on the amount of oil when it come to making sambal or curries. Good curries and sambal has a layer of spiced oil on top of them when they are done. The fat is necessary to bring out the taste of spices.
  5. Fry the spice paste until fragrant.
  6. Add tamarind juice, sugar and salt. Some people like their sambal sweet. Use as much sugar as needed.
  7. Let the paste cook while stirring occasionally. It is ready when oil from the paste floats to the top. This is called ‘pecah minyak’ in Malay. You can choose to ladle off the layer of oil before serving, or if you are keeping them for future use in a jar, keep the layer of oil to preserve the flavour. Like all curries or anything spice based, they get better the day after or even longer, if stored properly.

Vegetarian Avocado Reuben

We can never seem to finish a loaf of bread but there are some days whereby we just crave for breads. This dish is a result of not being able to finish the load of oatmeal bread that I bought last week.

This reuben sandwich is super easy to make. It is inspired by a sandwich called Pretty Woman at Stage Deli in Somerset Mall in Michigan. We always get this sandwich when we go to the mall. I did not make any homemade Thousand Island dressing for this sandwich this time because I didn’t have any mayo, but it was just as good with some Grey Poupon mustard. I’ll include the recipe for homemade Thousand Island dressing anyway. We made paprika potato wedges as a side for this.

Ingredients

  • 4 slices of bread (preferably rye), buttered
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 tomato, sliced
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese (optional)
  • Mustard
  • Thousand Island dressing (see recipe below for homemade version)/Russian dressing
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spread butter and mustard (and Thousand Island dressing, if desired) on one side of the bread.
  3. Drain sauerkraut. Saute garlic and and sauerkraut with some olive oil in a pan until sauerkraut is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Divide sauerkraut on 2 slices of bread. Place avocado and tomato slices, and 2 slices of Swiss cheese on top of the sauerkraut.
  5. Set the open face sandwiches and the 2 slices of buttered bread on a pan and broil in the oven for 30 seconds, or until lightly browned.
  6. Top the open face sandwiches with the toasted bread and serve while hot.

Thousand Island Dressing (source)

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients until creamy and refrigerate until chilled.

Homestyle Maggi Goreng

This is a very much missed dish for those living overseas who originates from/have lived in/been to Kuala Lumpur (KL). It is amazing how the mamak stalls that are a familiar sight at every corner of KL have come up with the creation of the infamous MAGGI GORENG. Maggi is simply a very popular brand of instant noodles in Malaysia, and “goreng” means fried in Malay/Indonesian. By the way, there is not a time of the day whereby Maggi Goreng is inappropriate to be eaten. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea time, or late night supper, and I am not exaggerating.

Maggi noodles were originally a soupy noodle dish that is ready in about 2 mins (as advertised) but by cooking the noodles until al dente in a pot of water and then frying them up in the wok with the accompanying seasoning, an egg and a few shreds of vegetables, you will have a plate of spicy, mouthwatering plate of MAGGI GORENG. Just like pad thai in Thailand, no two mamak stalls make the same Maggi Goreng. They always taste different even though it all starts with a pack of dried noodles and a pack of seasoning.

For my version of Maggi Goreng this time, I sliced some snow peas for the added crunch (you can use beansprouts also), sliced some fried tofu balls (tau foo pok), some sambal belacan paste, and chopped Thai hot chillis (cili padi). In the chaos of things, I had forgotten to add eggs before turning off the stove and Andy was not very happy about that. To him and my little sister Chermaine, Maggi Goreng without eggs is outright blasphemy, LOL!. Anyway, I also added some soy sauce and a sprinkle of sugar to improve the taste of the dish.

Well, it turned out very well, I must say. Again, Andy downed 3 glasses of milk while polishing up his plate and accusing me of murdering him with my cooking.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Aside from a few Chinese New Year baked goods, I’ve not made a lot of cookies in my life. Since Andy and I had been living on a shoestring budget, I have deprived him from buying things like cookies. I thought that I should make this phase of our lives a bit more enjoyable, so I had decided to whip up a batch of oatmeal cookies.

I found an easy recipe online from Joy of Baking, and after making sure that I have all the ingredients stocked up in the kitchen, I jumped right into making these yummy chewy cookies. These cookies can easily pass as breakfast if you ask me, LOL!

A few notes about the ingredients that I’ve used:

  • I always and only buy pure cane sugar. Dominos brand is cheap and easily available in the US. They make both white and brown sugar.
  • I always and only use unbleached flour. King Arthur is sold at Meijer in Michigan and they are not expensive.
  • I am an advocate of using organic products whenever feasible. Even though we are tightening our belts, we still buy organic milk and butter.
  • Get to know your oven. Every oven is different and it might take more or less time to bake your creations. If you can afford an oven thermometer, check to see if your oven temperature is accurate. It took me more like 25 mins to bake these cookies but I think that is also because I did not flatten them enough prior to putting them in the oven.
  • I used Quaker brand oats.
  • I used my hands to shape the dough into balls and then flatten them prior to baking. Wet hands first. Besides, when you are done shaping them, the mixture of oats, sugar and butter makes for great hand exfoliant!

And now it’s time for me to make vegetarian reubens (will post that later) and bring them to the riverside for a picnic on an exceptional beautiful day. Seriously, it is like 10C degrees above average and the sun seems to refuse to set.