Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sausage buns

Every time I walk past 'Breadtop', there is an ever-present mysterious mystical force urging me buy their yummy sausage buns as a snack for boss man and the toddler!  (that force is also known as childhood memory)  However, part of me always feel bad buying and eating them - it's the same guilty feeling as when I eat the yummy and yet "sinful" instant noodles! 

So when mum messaged me this cool recipe from her Chinese baking cookbook, I was determined to try because at least I can control the ingredients (some sausages are more sinful than the others). It was a success at first go!  So I think it's pretty forgiving for beginners. 

Now that I know what exactly goes in there, I feel more comfortable feeding this to my toddler. It is fun to make, delicious fresh out of the oven, and smells heavenly! No more 'Breadtop' buns for us!

Sweet Bun Dough:
500g bread flour (High gluten flour)
1 satchet yeast (7g)
100g castor sugar
1 tsp salt
270ml water
50g butter (softened)

20 cocktail sausages

1 egg lightly beaten 
sesame seeds

1. Mix bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in water.
2. Use slow speed to knead the dough until gluten is formed- approx 10 minutes (can be pulled into thin sheet without tearing).
3. Add butter and knead till well combined.
4. Remove dough from mixing bowl, shape into a smooth ball and put into a greased bowl. Cover with damp cloth.
5. Leave aside to prove till double in bulk. To test, press with finger- the depression should rise up and back to shape.
6. Punch down and knead till smooth (approx 5-8 minutes).
7. Leave aside to rest for 15 minutes.
8. Divide into 20 equal portions. Shape each portion into a roll about 18cm long.
9. Wrap dough around sausage showing two ends.
10. Arrange sausage rolls on a baking tray. Leave to prove for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle on some sesame seeds 
11. Bake at 200°C till golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

1. The sweet bun dough is great for many types of fillings including chicken, sardine, red bean paste etc!
2. For sardine filling- mix 1 can of tomato sardine with 1 T of finely diced onions, and a pinch of sugar. Roll dough into flat circular round, place sardine filling in the middle, wrap up filling and form into balls.
3. Regarding Step 5: Leave dough to prove for at least 1.5 hours or as long as possible. There was once, I started the dough early in the morning, and completely forgotten about it till the end of the day... the dough got so huge and almost spilt over the bowl onto the kitchen counter. The silver lining was: it yielded the BEST and fluffiest bun ever!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hainanese Chicken Rice

In Australia we eat approximately 470 millions chicken a year.  That's equivalent to 20 chicken per person per year.  Boss man is someone who is out there to beat that average by miles because he loves to eat chicken.  And out of all chicken dishes, this Hainanese Chicken Rice is his favourite dish.

The chicken is poached gently in water till tender and juicy, the chicken rice garlicky and buttery (optional of course), combined with fragrant special soy sauce and lemony garlic chilli sauce… every spoonful is accompanied with a satisfied: MMMMmmmmmm!!! Even the little toddler knows it’s a special day when mummy cooks this! 

The following is my version- tweaked from many fun attempts =)

Hainanese chicken rice:

Step 1- for poached chicken:

1 whole chicken (reserve 2 T of chicken fat/skin for chicken rice)
Sesame oil
Cucumber and coriander for garnish

1. Rub chicken with salt and leave for 5 minutes. Rinse.
2. Place chicken in a pot of boiling water, ensure chicken is submerged in water. Partly cover.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium so that water is at a rolling boil. Gently boil for 15 minutes.  Turn off heat completely, cover pot, and allow chicken to remain in hot water for 20 minutes .
3. Remove chicken and immerse in icy cold water for 5 minutes.
4. Drain chicken, and rub into with sesame oil.
5. Reserve all poaching liquid for chicken rice, and soup.

Step 2 - for chicken rice:

3 cups rice
1 T ginger, finely minced (1 thumbsize ginger, reserve 1/3 for chilli sauce)
2 T garlic, finely minced (peel whole head of garlic, and reserve 2 cloves for chilli sauce, mince remaining)
3 coriander roots (reserve top for garnish)
Pinch of salt
1 T butter (yummy but optional :p)

1. Heat wok, fry chicken fat with some oil until chicken fat is slightly browned and fragrant. Add garlic, ginger, butter and fry until golden.
2. Add rice, salt and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
3. Transfer all ingredients into a rice cooker. Add coriander root, pandan leave, and 3 cups of poaching liquid. Press cook.

Step 3 – for chilli sauce:

3 red long chilli
2 clove garlic
1 t ginger
1 pinch salt
1 pinch sugar
1 squeeze from ½ Lemon

1. Blend chilli, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, lemon juice, into a smooth paste.  Add a little poaching liquid if it’s looking abit dry. Taste and adjust with sugar, salt, and lemon.

Step 4- for special soy sauce:

1.5 T oil
1.5 t sesame oil
4 T light soy sauce
1 T dark soy sauce
1.5T caster sugar
3 T water

1. Heat all ingredients in a small saucepan, until sugar dissolves.

Before serving, cut up whole chicken. Serve with warm chicken rice. Comfort food at its best! Bon appetite!   

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Braided Bread

Instead of the usual shopping therapy, I have spent the last few Friday nights undergoing "bread-making therapy."  The process of kneading, waiting..., kneading again, sipping wine on more waiting..., and finally the exciting sound of the alarm timer, the smell of the bread, and the sight of brown crust of the final products are deeply therapeutic (in fact a little bit addictive).  The whole experience relaxes me (or... is it just the wine?).

I usually began these nights by first "parking" my little boy and husband outside of the kitchen, i.e. let them watch TV together.  Then I hid myself baking wonderful things....

Tonight that thing was braided bread.  

Here’s the youtube link where I learnt how to braid six strands of bread dough.

Braided bread (Original recipe here)


250ml tepid water
7g instant yeast (1x sachet)
5 egg yolks, room temperature
2 T rice bran oil
4 T caster sugar
550g bread flour (High gluten flour)
1 tsp salt

1 beaten egg
sesame seeds


1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in sugar, oil,egg yolks, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk. (I placed all ingredients into the kitchen aid, and knead at slow speed for 15 minutes)
2. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Knead for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky (Again, the kitchenaid did most of the work here). Divide in half. Divide each half into six and roll into long strands about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the six strands together firmly and braid.Grease two baking trays and place finished braid on it. Cover with towel and let rise about half an hour.
3.Preheat oven to 180 C.
4. Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack before slicing.

Give this recipe a go! It will fill your house with the delightful smell of fresh bread, and make you feel GOOD.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Stuffed pumpkin flowers

Have you ever watch any cooking show (Jamie O?  Gordan R?) that teaches you to stuff stuffs in the delicate, paper-thin zucchini/pumpkin flowers and then deep fry them?  Ever wonder why so fancy?  And maybe sounding a bit pretentious?  I thought so too....

But not if you have lots of pumpkin flowers growing like weeds in my vege patch!!!

Growing zucchini/pumpkin was my goal at the community plot this year. These members of the cucurbita family LOVE sun, which was why it was something I can never achieve in my shady courtyard garden.

I harvested some gorgeous yellow pumpkin flowers today- they are the large yellow male flowers- without the baby pumpkins attached. And made stuffed pumpkin flowers for dinner. There were plenty of leftover prawn paste, so I made fried wontons as well!

Boss man and toddler gobbled everything up in 2 seconds. Thank goodness I managed a quick snap before serving.  They are not just fancy but actually tastes great!

Stuffed pumpkin flowers recipe (original version by Luke Nguyen here)

4 pumpkin flowers, stems intact with stamen removed
150g tiger prawns (shelled and deveined)
2 egg whites
1 cup potato starch (or cornflour)
1 T fish sauce
1 garlic clove, finely diced
Sprinkle of dried dill
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Pinch of salt & pepper

1. Pound prawns in mortar and pestle into fine paste. Mix in sprinkle of dried dill, fish sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. Take a teaspoon of paste and stuffed gently into pumpkin flower petals.
3. Coat each flower with egg white, followed by potato starch.
4. Deep fry flowers until golden and crisp. Place on absorbent paper towel.

Yummy dipped in sauce (fish sauce + sugar + chilli + garlic + lemon)!
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