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Lunch: Deconstructed sushi

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I was going to make sushi rolls for lunch today and then decided to try Ivy's deconstructed sushi (mixed sushi platter), which she wrote about for our newspaper column.
Of course, Ivy uses salmon in her dish and I just have surimi or imitation crabsticks (though they're a good quality variety) – the poor (wo)man's version, I suppose.
I can't believe I actually faffed about with the shredded omelette though. Normally, I would just pour beaten egg into a pan, give it a swirl, then just dump it on a plate. Here, I actually took the time to season the egg and water combination with instant dashi, cooked it over a low heat in a covered pan, rolled it up and sliced it thinly. I have to admit though that the egg had a much better taste and texture.
(I didn't plan it, but doesn't the composition of the photo look like Mickey Mouse falling over after being speared in the ear ?)

Sourdough Surprises: Kolaches

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I don't know if you would call what I made kolaches. The round ones (pictured above) – filled with passion fruit custard – were humungous! I've seen pictures of authentic kolaches and they certainly weren't as big as a newborn baby's head.
That aside, I loved this month's Sourdough Surprises baked goods. I made the kolaches twice, first filling them with a poppy seed-date paste that I had coincidentally made just a few days prior to the announcement of the challenge, and the second time with passion fruit custard and a hazelnut cream.
I also got to use my new brownie/lamington mould. (Seriously, how hard is it to cut out squares from cake? But it's one of those unnecessary things I had to get when I saw it.) I baked those a little too long though so they were a little firmer than I liked.
But what I was happiest about this challenge was that I challenged myself to develop a sourdough sweet enriched dough that I like. I have been working on a naturally raised dough for a while, changing the percentage of the components each time, and I hit the right formula with this one. It has a touch of saffron and cardamom in it 
Kolaches baked in a brownie/lamington mould. These are filled with poppy seed-date paste and topped with cream cheese.
Saffron Sourdough Kolaches
Makes 15

45g mother starter (100% hydration)
75g bread flour
75g water

Mix the sponge ingredients in a jug, cover with cling film and set aside until well risen and bubbly, about 8 hours.

Final dough
Pinch of saffron threads (about ½ tsp)
¾ tbsp boiling water
250g bread flour
25g sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cardamom powder
⅛ tsp active dry yeast
All the sponge (about 180g)
1 medium egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
60g butter, cubed and softened

Fillings and toppings
Date poppy seed paste
Cream cheese, passion fruit custard, nut creams, etc

Place the saffron threads in a small bowl and pour in the boiling water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir the bread flour, sugar, salt, cardamom powder and dry yeast together. Add the sponge, egg and vanilla, and stir together to form a shaggy mixture. Add just enough water (1-2 tbsp) to bring the bits together into a firm and knobbly ball. Cover and leave for 10 to 15 minutes for the liquid to be absorbed.
Smear the softened butter on the dough and mix together it in until fully incorporated (squeeze with the whole hand and fold several times). 
Rub some water onto a work surface (marble is best). Place the dough on the surface and using wet hands, knead the dough until soft, smooth and elastic, wetting your hands occasionally. This will take 8-10 minutes. Form into a ball and leave on the work surface covered with the mixing bowl until tripled in size. In warm weather, this takes 4½ hours.
Deflate the dough, for into a ball again and place in a greased mixing bowl. Place the bowl in a large plastic bag or cover tightly with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (30-35g each) and form each one into a tight ball. Place on a a parchment-lined baking sheet or into well-greased muffin or brownie moulds. Set aside for 10 minutes, then make a wide indentation in the centre and fill with desired filling.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the rolls, 20-25 minutes. The tops will be lightly golden.
Remove from oven and cool for five minutes.

The Daring Kitchen loses its co-founder

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I just read today the sad news that Lisa, co-founder of The Daring Kitchen, unexpectedly passed away. I only knew her through her posts and writing, but always enjoyed her humour, wit and the way she made us all get off our butts to join in the challenges. From the comments of the Daring Bakers in the group forum, some of whom knew Lisa well, she was an inspiring and kind person, who was always on hand to help anyone in need. I myself have learned so much from this amazing international and diverse group started by Lisa and Yvonne.

Rest in peace, Lisa.

Tamarind squid pasta

Friday, November 8, 2013

This is a scheduled post.
I can't believe I have never posted on one of my favourite dishes, tamarind squid chilli pasta. I guess I think of it as everyday food, so it isn't so unusual that it needs to be featured. But I have posted on more mundane things before, and this really is a good, quick recipe, so why not.
If the dish looks a little yellow in the picture, that's because I had "preserved" the squid with turmeric powder. My friend Mumtaj told me about doing this when storing uncooked seafood. 
If there's time, I like to grill the tamarind-marinated squid until blackened and caramelised. That's even more delicious. But when I can't wait, it's a quick stir-fry.

Tamarind Squid Chilli Spaghetti
Serves 2

2 tbsp tamarind pulp or 1 tbsp tamarind paste
200g squid (3 medium), cut into 1.5cm rings (leave tentacles whole)
½-1 tsp sugar (preferably palm sugar)
A dash of white pepper
½-1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced into thin chips
1-2 red bird's eye chillies, minced
1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), sliced thinly (optional)
2 servings of cooked spaghetti or other long pasta (reserve about ¼ cup of the cooking water)

Pour a little warm water on the tamarind pulp. Massage to loosen the seeds and pulp. Reserve the pulp but discard the seeds and tough fibres.
Combine the squid, tamarind pulp or paste, sugar, pepper and fish sauce in a bowl. Cover and set aside for 30-60 minutes.
Heat the oil and add the garlic chips. Fry until golden and crisp. Add the chillies and lemongrass and fry briefly, then add the marinated squid. Toss the squid around until cooked (the tentacles will curl). Add a little reserved pasta water to make it saucy (ahem!), then add the cooked spaghetti. Toss together and serve.

Coconut lime biscotti

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This is a scheduled post.
Biscotti, I think, is almost a dump-ingredients-together-haphazardly type of cookie.
I started off with the recipe for Lime Coconut Biscotti from Taste of Home, and went off it slightly to use what I had at hand.
I suppose having these tropical flavours, especially the lime, makes these biscotti more suitable for eating with a cup of tea. I don't drink tea, so it's coffee for me.

Coconut Lime Biscotti
Makes 2½ dozen. Adapted from Taste of Home.

½ cup sugar
¼ cup neutral-flavoured oil
2 medium eggs
¼ cup lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp coconut extract
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 heaped cup dessicated coconut
1 tsp lime peel zest

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Beat sugar and oil together, then add eggs, lime juice and extracts.
Combine flours, baking powder and salt, and stir together with the wet ingredients until just combined into a sticky dough. Stir in coconut and lime zest.
Divide dough into two portions and place them on a parchment-lined tray, shaping each one into a log. Bake for 20 minutes until set.
Cool slightly and then cut each log on the diagonal into 1.5-2cm slices. Place them cut side down on the baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, turning them over halfway through, until golden brown. remove from tray and cool. Store in an air-tight container.

Ayam Percik

Saturday, November 2, 2013

This is a scheduled post.
I did a guest post for Jenni of The Gingered Whisk some time ago with a recipe for Ayam Percik, literally translated as spattered chicken. Mine isn't as "professional" looking as the ones you'd find at the pasar malam (night market), but for a home attempt, it turned out pretty good. Here's the recipe.
Ayam Percik
(Kelantan-style BBQ Chicken)
Serves 4

4 whole chicken legs (use skinless chicken if desired)
3cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tsp ground turmeric
¾ tsp salt

6-8 dried chillies, soaked in hot water to soften
8 shallots, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ tsp belacan (dried shrimp paste)
250ml thick santan (coconut cream)
1 tbsp seedless tamarind paste
6 fenugreek seeds
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp rice flour

Clean the chicken, pat dry and make a few slits in the thicker parts. Combine the ginger, turmeric and salt and rub over the chicken. Cover and set aside while you prepare the marinade.
For the marinade, grind/blend the chillies, shallots, garlic and shrimp paste with a little santan. Place this mixture in a pot large enough to hold the chicken together with the remaining coconut cream, tamarind paste, fenugreek seeds, salt, sugar and rice flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the marinade thickens and the oil separates from it (a layer of oil will appear on the surface; this is the coconut oil), about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add the chicken pieces to the pot and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently for 20 minutes. (The chicken should be about cooked by this time.)
Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill over hot charcoal or under the oven broiler for 8 to 10 minutes on each side until the chicken is browned, basting it several times with the marinade.
Simmer any remaining marinade over low heat in the pot until it thickens. Spoon it over the cooked chicken and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the chicken to cool. Serve with rice.