Peanut Cookies

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

You don't need much special equipment to make peanut cookies.

If you don't have a food processor, you can pound the peanuts with a mortar and pestle.

The ingredients are mixed together in a bowl. It's done by the time you drag your electric mixer out and set it up.

Cashew Nut Cookies

Monday, 21 January 2013


Cashew nut cookies are pretty easy going. These bite-size morsels don't mind if you put in more of this or less of that.

Pineapple Tarts

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Good pineapple tarts start with good pineapple jam. Where does good pineapple jam start? Readymade, in a plastic bag? Common sense tells you that jam stored without refrigeration for god knows how long, in a plastic bag which can't be sterilized and isn't vacuum sealed, must be stuffed full of preservatives. And yet, the ingredients listed don't include preservatives. I wouldn't eat that kind of jam even if you paid me.

There's no reason why readymade pineapple jam can't be good, in theory. In practice, however, all those I've seen are of extremely dubious quality.

Making good pineapple jam is quite straightforward. It's basically mashed pineapple cooked with sugar till thick, and flavoured with star anise, cinnamon and sometimes cloves.

Kueh Bangkit

Friday, 28 December 2012

Bangkit isn't a kit for banging. "Bang" is "香" in Teochew and Hokkien; "kit" is "cake" mangled; "kueh" is . . . (just about) anything edible any local delicacy served kinda snack size. In short, "kueh bangkit" means fragrant cookies.

Butter Cake

Monday, 12 November 2012


When I was looking at butter cake recipes online, I was surprised to find people moaning about cracks in their cakes. That seemed rather odd  to me because the butter cakes my mother bought when I was a kid all had a big crack on top. Isn't the ruptured top the signature of butter cakes?

Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake (日式芝士蛋糕)

Monday, 29 October 2012


Soufflé cheesecake is the Japanese take on cheesecake. It's much lighter than the American or German version and not at all cheesy – the ideal cheesecake for cheesecake haters.  The recipe I'm sharing is adapted from Diana's Desserts. I've made four changes to the original recipe:

Hong Kong Egg Tarts (港式蛋挞)

Monday, 15 October 2012

The best tool for flattening pastry dough isn't a rolling pin but a plate. Just place a round blob of dough between two plastic sheets, then press it evenly with a flat-bottomed plate. Peel off the top sheet of plastic, then flip the dough into a tart mould.

Kuih Bingka Ambon

Monday, 10 September 2012

Knock knock!

Who's there?

Honeycomb cake!

Honeycomb cake who?

Honey, come quick! The honeycomb cake is delicious!

Silly knock-knock joke out of the way, let's get down to the serious business of baking, shall we?

Lemon Curd Marbled Cheese Cake

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


I love the lemon tree in my garden, especially when it's full of lemons. She (yes, she!) was planted by my grandfather in 1931, so the grand old dame is celebrating her 80th birthday this year. Her trunk is gnarled with age but Mrs Taango – that's what we call her because: lemon → tang → Taango – still produces a load of fruits every year.

Baked Cod

Monday, 16 May 2011

In 1950, New York Times science editor Waldemar Kaempffert wrote an article about what miracles the world might see in 2000. At a time when modems hadn't been invented yet, he predicted that access to The New York Times would be possible 'in your home, in the streets, in the trains and cars that carry you to your work, in the bargain basement of every department store'. Video phone calls, TV via phone lines, and faxes that cost next to nothing were also predicted. As was hair removal cream, though it wasn't foreseen that said cream would become a taboo for men: they'd rather die before they let anyone know they use it!

Pandan Chiffon Cake (I)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

I'm in the mood for a local cake, and no cake is more local than Pandan Chiffon. I start by comparing recipes from Epicurative, The Best of Singapore Cooking, The Raffles Hotel Cookbook, and the four featured by ieat. I put everything in Excel with the amount of flour in every recipe standardized to 100 g, and all the other ingredients adjusted proportionately. (Yup, I'm a geek, and proud of it.) Here's the spreadsheet (strictly for geeks like me):

Once I'm comparing apples and apples, it's obvious The Best of Singapore Cooking has heap loads of everything, from coconut milk to oil, egg whites, egg yolks, and especially sugar and baking powder. Every . . . single . . . thing! Hmm, doesn't seem right. BSC – out!

Lemon Tarts

Sunday, 10 October 2010

When life gives you lemons, make lemon tarts. They're much better than lemonade! And if you don't have free lemons from life, go buy some. Lemon tarts are worth it!

I gave one of my lemon tarts to a friend once. As I watched him eat, waiting for some compliments, he said, 'It's sour.' I was quite happy, thinking that he liked it, then I realized he meant the opposite. Duh? I'm proud of my lemon tarts precisely because they're sour . . . or rather tart, which sounds much nicer. There's about half a lemon in each small tart!

Ginger Cake

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Imagine a soft, tender cake that's filled with the spiciness of fresh ginger, mixed with the slight bitterness of treacle.

The cake is not too sweet, so you can taste the trace of cinnamon, cloves and black pepper in the background.

The colour is a dark, gorgeous mahogany that looks rich but, when you take a bite, the cake is quite light.

Mmmmm . . . what could be better than a slice of ginger cake on a rainy day? Let me see . . . . A slice of ginger cake on a sunny day! Or cloudy day. Or any day  regardless of the weather!

The recipe I use is from David Lebovitz. It's a stir and mix cake that requires no beating or creaming at all. It's dead easy and done in a jiffy. Absolutely nothing can go wrong if you measure the ingredients correctly, set the timer, and a meteor doesn't hit your house.

Chocolate Tarts

Friday, 25 June 2010

If you've been making shortcrust pastry with cold butter, you need to read this post.

Or if you've been struggling with pastry that keeps melting and tearing as you roll it, you also need to read this post.

Would you like to make the dough and line a tart mould in 10 minutes, without having to rest or chill the dough? Find out how here.

Garlic Bread

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I've finally found a rustic baguette, or baguette à l'ancienne, in Singapore. Compared to the regular loaf, the rustic, traditional version is given a much longer fermentation. This gives the crust a darker colour and a rich, nutty aroma. It also makes the crumb – the white part of the bread – soft, chewy and really flavourful

When I was living in Paris, I used to stroll to Champs-Elysées most Sundays – took me all of five minutes – and grab a baguette a l'ancienne for breakfast. Most bakeries in central Paris were closed on Sundays but the really touristy areas had the odd one open.

Carrot Cake

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

PhotobucketCan a cake be moist yet light at the same time? Isn't that like asking a woman to be skinny and curvy? Yes, ideal women do exist, and so do ideal cakes.

I'm not that into cakes and neither is the rest of my extended clan. We find most cakes too rich and filling, especially after a heavy meal. And our meals are always heavy when we get together!

But there's one cake that has everyone's approval: Angela Nilsen's Carrot Cake, from The Ultimate Recipe Book. We love it 'cause it's really moist yet really light. No one needs any strong Chinese tea to wash down this yummy babe!

Sticky Toffee Pudding – Without a Date

Saturday, 12 September 2009

PhotobucketSticky Toffee Pudding, an English pudding, is traditionally made with dates. But because I don't have a date, I make prune pudding instead. HA . . . ha . . . and tell lame jokes, obviously. Aiyah, I just prefer prunes because they are less sweet.

I haven't made Sticky Toffee Pudding for a long time, so I pulled out my recipe this morning and did a test run. I'm going to make some – with dates – for my Muslim neighbours. They are fasting now, and will be celebrating Hari Raya Puasa on 20 September. Traditionally, Muslims eat dates when they break their fast. Besides energizing with their high sugar content, dates are also spiritually significant Photobucketbecause they were one of the Prophet's most frequently consumed foods. (Click here for more information on dates and fasting for Muslims.) My Malay neighbours are extremely friendly, and they pop over every so often with some goodies. See the photo of the chicken curry? That's from them. It was reheated a day after it was cooked but still looked and tasted gorgeous. I reciprocate every now and then, especially when I can make extra portions with no effort at all. Like homemade cookies. Of course, I never ever give them curry since that would be like making Kimchi for a Korean or Tom Yum Soup for a Thai. I think they will be very pleased with a gift of Sticky Toffee Date Pudding. It's appropriate for the religious festival and is something familiar yet new. And it reheats very well, so they can eat it whenever they want. Knowing them, they will be cooking tonnes of food, and giving me some. Mmm mmm, I'm looking forward to that.

STICKY TOFFEE PRUNE PUDDING
(For 6 persons)

This recipe is adapted from Angela Nilsen's Ultimate Sticky Toffee Pudding. It's slightly less sweet and not as rich.

225 g pitted prunes, roughly chopped
175 g (180 ml) boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
85 g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
60 g dark muscovado sugar (or soft dark brown sugar)
60 g demerara sugar
2 eggs
100 ml milk
175 g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking soda
Toffee Sauce
100 g dark muscovado sugar
300 g thick cream

Pour boiling water over prunes and soak for 30 minutes till soft. Add vanilla extract and mash with a fork.

Position oven rack in the middle and preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Butter and flour the sides of 6 small pudding tins, each about 200 ml (7 fl oz). Alternatively, use small ramekins or ceramic rice bowls. Trim 6 pieces of parchment paper and place one at the bottom of each pudding container. Place pudding containers on a baking sheet or pan. Puddings can also be steamed. If steaming, bring a wok or big pot of water to a boil.

Beat butter with demerara sugar and dark muscovado sugar till smooth. Add eggs, then milk and prune mixture in stages and beat well in between each addition.

Sieve flour and baking powder over mixture and fold in evenly.

Divide pudding mixture amongst containers and bake, or steam on medium heat. Check after 20 minutes for metal containers, or after 25 minutes for ceramic containers. Puddings are done when an inserted skewer (or chopstick) comes out clean.

Unmould by running a small knife between the pudding and container and turn it upside down on a serving plate.

To make the sauce, put dark muscovado sugar and cream in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat till thick. If you want a richer sauce, add a knob of butter to the sauce.

Drizzle sauce over puddings and serve immediately.

Alternatively, wait a day or two for a more sticky pudding. Unmould puddings, then pour half of the sauce into the containers and swirl it round the bottom and sides. Put puddings back in, and top with the remaining sauce. Swirl containers around and let the sauce trickle down the sides. Leave puddings in the fridge, covered, for a day or two. When ready to eat, zap 'em in the microwave. Or bring puddings back to room temperature, then reheat by steaming or in a preheated oven at 180°C (360°F) for 15 minutes or so till heated through.

Cream Scones

Saturday, 5 September 2009

PhotobucketI can't remember what was the first Chinese dish I ever cooked. I started helping Mum in the kitchen from the age of . . . oh . . . nine? ten?

It's hard to say exactly when or what I first cooked something totally by myself. Baking, however, was different. Mum never baked, so I picked up baking only when I went overseas to study, and there was an oven in the common kitchen.

My foray into baking was gentle and gradual. I started as the kitchen hand for my neighbour who was an avid and experienced baker. Her pièce de résistance was apple pie in which I performed a crucial albeit non-baking role.