Monday, July 20, 2009

Birds Nest Soup- Good for your skin




A lot of people think that birds nest soup is very difficult to prepare. As such, most of us ladies rely on our mothers to brew this special tonic for us. I am going to show you step by step here how to prepare this tonic that is nourishing and also good for the skin. If you want porcelain skinned complexion, this soup is a must. All the people I know who have the best translucent skin will tell your their secret is this soup.

Ingredients (Serves 2)
1 piece of Birds Nest
3-4 pieces of Rock Sugar
2 cups Water
American Ginseng (2 slices-Optional)

Directions:
1) Soak the birds nest for at least 2 hours or up to overnight until soften. Depending on the grade of birds nest, you may have to use a pair to tweezers to pull out the tiny feathers sometimes embedded in the nest. Very good quality birds nest will have less of this feathers. Change the soaking water twice during the entire soaking process.

2) Drain the water.
3) Put birds nest in a double boiler pot, add 2 cups of water. Add rock sugar and ginseng (optional). Cover the double boiler and put this in a stock pot.

4) Fill the stock pot with water until the level covers the double broiler half way.

5) Cover the stock pot and bring the water to a boil, and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 1.5 hours up to 2 hours.

6) Remove the birds nest soup from the double boiler pot and serve hot.

Wasn't that simple? I hope you enjoy this recipe. Try it! It is good for your skin and health and will keep you looking young.

Have a good week ahead.
Sincerely,

Julie

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Singapore Fried Carrot Cake

Fried carrot cake is a traditional Singaporean breakfast food, although it is now eaten as a snack at all hours of the day. I remember going through teenage angst, and in the morning, nothing would get me out of bed faster than mom coming home from the market, knowing that she bought a packet of Chai Tao Kway- Fried Carrot Cake, wrapped in laminated brown paper like a pretty present, with the oil starting to soak through the semi water proof packaging. Once I remove the rubber band holding this package together, the smell of garlic, salted radish
(chye poh) and chili would wake me up and make me so happy. To this date, I will always remember the types of chai tao kway my mommy had lovingly brought back from the market over the years: The black kind- no chili sauce (For when I was a child), The "white" kind (teenage years- my taste platelet started to change), any of the two above in a"less oily" version (when I was a young adult and started to watch my figure), this dish is always the comfort food that I grew up with.

I had a little time this last weekend and decided that I needed my fix. Here is the recipe I used to make my breakfast snack and I hope you will like it. I certainly enjoyed eating my creation.

Carrot Cake (From scratch) - This portion size serves 4
125 g radish (Shred using a vegetable shredder)
300 g rice flour
750 ml + 3/4 cup of room temperature water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper

1) Measure the water in a large bowl.
2) Add the rice flour to the water. Mix with a whisk to remove all lumps.
3) Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or a deep pan. Stir fry the radish until the edges are starting to turn brown.
4) Slowly add the flour-water mixture. Add the salt, sugar and pepper.
5) Continue to stir the flour rice mixture until it starts to thicken. (See picture).

6) Scoop out the mixture and pat into a greased 8 inch baking pan. Smooth the top with a metal spoon and pat the mixture down firmly.
7) Place in a steamer and steam on high for 45 mins or until the radish cake has set.

(Let this cake sit overnight before stir frying).


Frying the Carrot Cake (White, Spicy Version)

Preserved, salted radish (Available at Asian specialty food stores)- 2 tablespoon. (If buying radishes in whole, please chop until minced garlic size before using).
Sesame oil- 1 tsp
Salt and white pepper to taste
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp (or to your taste)
Fish sauce- 1/2 tsp (or to your taste)
Chili sauce -1/2 tbsp (or to your taste) - I used store bought chilli sauce from Asian specialty stores.
Garlic- 2 cloves- minced
3 eggs
Green onions (Separate white and green portions) - 2 sprigs
Oil for frying or lard- 4 tbsp

1) Cut up the radish cake into 1/4 inch cubes.
2) Mise en place - garlic, green onions (green and white portions) and eggs (beaten).
3) Heat oil in a wok or frying pan.
4) Add in garlic, preserved radish and white portion of the green onion. Stir fry until the garlic looks like it is about to brown.
5) Toss in the radish cake and with the spatula, break it down in a slight mashing/slicing motion. (This step is important because it exposes more surface area on the radish cake, allow more flavors to be absorbed).
6) Add the seasonings (soy sauce, salt, pepper, chili sauce, fish oil and sesame oil).
7) Fry until the radish cake looks browned on the edges and heated through.
8) Make a well in the center of the wok and add eggs.
9) Toss the egg mixture over the radish cake as if to coat the surface.
10) Serve hot garnished with the green portion of the green onion.

I hope you wake up happy everyday with this dish.

Have a good week ahead!

Sincerely,
Julie

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Walnut Chocolate Cookies


This is a beautiful cookie to serve for high tea when you invite your friends and family over to your home. Plated on a three tiered serving tray, the display is so elegant and looks like you have fussed over the cookie for a long time. When you take the time to put in a little extra effort for that extra touch, it makes the person visiting feel so special because you have taken the time to make something special for them.

I share with you this beautiful and easy to make walnut cookie. The dough is a medium-density dough, but the texture is still crispy and will melt in your mouth. Because the dough is medium, it makes it much easier to mould.

The flavor of this cookie is out of this world because of the perfect combination of ginger and cinnamon. The cookies are perfect to serve plain or sandwiched with a little chocolate butter. Making this yourself beats buying fancy cookies at Whole Foods or Famous Amos anyday. Also, shaping the dough and knocking it out makes a wonderful stress reliever. POW! A perfect release, a perfectly shaped cookie. It is surprisingly statisfying.




Walnut Cookies Recipe

Ingredients
(For the cookie)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg yolk

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting moulds

Ingredients
(For the Chocolate-Walnut Filling-Optional for sandwiching)
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
Pinch of salt
5 sounces semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled


Directions for cookies:
1) Whisk flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger in a bowl.
2) Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. (I use my handy Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. This takes about 2 mins).
3) Beat in egg yolk and then add flour mixture, beating just until combined.
4) Form dough into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least for 1 hour or overnight.
5) Using a hand held sifter (use a small sifter if you have one), lightly dust the springerle cookie mould with icing sugar by tapping lightly. You have to ensure that the moulds are thinly and evenly dusted with sugar.
6) Press about 5 grams of dough into the mould with fingers, working from the center. Trim off overflowing dough and clean up the edges using a knife.
7) Give the mould a firm tap at a 45 degree angle (I tapped it on a cutting board because I have a wooden island countertop and did not want to ding it). The cookies will release easily.
8) Repeat the shaping with the rest of the dough, spacing the cookies 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
9) Freeze the cookies for 1 hour before baking.
10) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (Remember ALWAYS use an oven thermometer to get the temperature correct and best baking results).
11) Bake cookies until 25 to 30 mins and let cool on a wire rack*.
Directions for Chocolate Butter/Filling:
1) Cream butter with sugar on medium speed. I used a hand held mixer for this because it is a small quantity, I get better control of the texture.
2) Beat in walnuts and salt until combined. Beat in chocolate and use immediately.
*After the cookies has cooled, spread or pipe 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate walnut filling on the flat side of 1 cooke. Press the other flat side of another cookie onto filling to form a sandwich.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe!
Sincerely,
Julie

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Steamed Yam/ Taro Cake (Yu Tou Gao)

When I was growing up, my mom made (and still makes) the best yam cake. For me, it is the ultimate comfort food. I decided to make this today because I have on hand good quality Chinese sausage from Teck Sang in Singapore http://www.tecksang.com/ (My parents bought it for me on their last trip to Seattle). The Chinese sausage lends a sweet and pungent flavor, kind of like a Chardonnay that has been opened for a day. All the ingredients get embedded in the rice flour, the key ingredient- the taro, embarks a light purplish tint that is both beautiful and elegant. When the cake has cooled down, it can also be lightly pan fried. Served with chili sauce, this version beats the ones you order at Dim Sum restaurants any day. It is also healthier and you actually taste the taro.

Here's my mom's recipe. Thanks to my dad for compiling this! Thanks DAD!

Ingredients:
(A) Chinese Sausage 100 g
Dried Shitake Mushroom 5 pieces (Medium)
Dried Shrimp 10 g
(B) Yam/Taro 500 g (diced)
Rice Flour 600 g

(Seasoning)
Salt 2 tsp
Pepper 1/2 tsp
Fine sugar 1 tbsp
Rice Wine (1 tsp, optional)
Black soy sauce 1 tsp

(For Topping)
Red Shallots
Chives/Green Onions

Method:

1) Add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok and saute the dried shrimp and Chinese sausage first. Add taro and mushrooms and stir fry until fragrant.


2) In a separate bowl, add 1800 ml of cold water to the flour. (This step is the secret to making the cake smooth and creamy). Work out all lumps until the flour is completely dissolved in the water.

3) Add the liquefied flour into ingredients in the wok and stir evenly until it forms a smooth sticky paste.

4) Scoop this content into a steamer, pat down with a spoon and steam for 30 mins.
5) Slice shallot thinly and fry it in hot oil. (Be sure to blot the shallot dry before frying, otherwise the shallots would be crispy).
6) Add the fried shallots to the top of the yam cake and garnish with chives.
7) Slice up the cake and serve hot with a side of chili sauce.


I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tomato in Sesame Sauce (Gomadare)

Xi Yan is a famous restaurant in Singapore. They are a private dining facility, and it is quite hard to get a reservation. You must have at least a party of six and a minimum of three hours to spare to sample the banquet. Check it out when you are in Singapore: http://www.xiyan.com.sg/

In the meantime, since I am now living in Seattle, I have not had the chance to visit. One of their famous "Zhao Ba Cai" (Signature dish) is Tomatoes dressed in Sesame Sauce. It is delicious, healthy and makes a wonderful presentation when entertaining. Here, I share with you my version of this beautifully simple dish. This dish is also a hit during Chinese New Year because the final presentation of the tomato makes it resembles a beautiful orange, which symbolizes prosperity and wealth for the new year.

Gomadare Sesame Sauce Dressing:
4 tablespoons of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ponzu juice
1/2 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon of dashi (200 g Bonito Flakes and a 1 x 1 inch of kombu in 2 cups of water. Boil until the bonito flakes sink to the bottom, about 3-5 mins.)
1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise (optional)

1) Toast the sesame seeds in a pan until they turn slightly dark brown.
2) Grind the sesame seeds in a coffee grinder until the seeds are broken down and relatively smooth. (You can use a suribachi (Japanese mortar) for this, but I am taking a short cut here.)
3) Add 2 tablespoon of ground sesame into a suribachi, add dashi, mirin and soy sauce and start grinding into a paste. (This step is a lot easiler because I used the coffee grinder in step 2).
4) Add ponzu juice and mayonnaise to finish off the paste.
5) Feel free to experiment! Adding some more dashi will thin out the sauce, but I prefer my gomadare to be thicker and have more body.



Tomatoes:
3 Organic Tomatoes (Or however many you wish to serve, but the recipe was written for 3 tomatoes, so adjust accordingly)
Mint leaves (for garnish)

1) Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Take them out immediately or they will be overcooked.
2) Dip the tomatoes in a cold, ice water bath immediately. Let them rest for 5 mins.
3) Peel off the outer skin. (The skin should come off easily after the cold water bath).
4) Score the tomatoes on the sides (4 wedges). Do not go too deep, the tomato should still be whole.

Putting it together:
1) Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the Gomadare sauce directly on top of the tomato and let it drizzle down the side.
2) Garnish with a mint leaf.
3) Serve.





Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mickey Mouse Pancakes

When I was a kid, my mom cooked us delicious meals served on stainless steel plates. My sister and I would always joke about how this plating style resembled the way prisons or army barracks would serve food. It wasn't until later that I would realize the benefits of stainless steel as one of the most inert and safest materials used for food contact. Mommy really does know best. Later, when I first started working, I couldn't understand why wines needed to be decanted into a beautiful crystal vessel. In my younger days I quipped in front of everybody, "Why can't you just decant wine using a bucket or something?" To this the reply was, "Because it wouldn't be the most refined…" What a pretentious prick, I puffed.

I have never been the one to plate or make food look nice. To me, food that tastes good is good food. This mentality guided me very well through life until I started learning how to cook. I have begun to appreciate why we must pay attention to presentation.

Creating something beautiful demands that you pay more attention to your cooking. I certainly started to pay more attention when I know that I have to plate the food nicely. The final display forces you to improve, to strive for the perfect texture and perfect doneness. It makes you observe more carefully, knowing that food doesn't just have to taste good but, just as importantly, it must appeal to all the senses. I know this because whenever I serve up beautifully plated dishes or have gone out of my way to make something extra special, my guests seem to enjoy their food slower and linger longer around the dinner table.

So here I present to you what I had for brunch today. Pancakes carefully molded into a Mickey Mouse shape served with bacon, maple syrup and orange juice. The pancake recipe is also one of my favorites. It produces the fluffiest lightest pancake. Try it. I am confident that your family will love it.


Pancake recipe

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1/3 tablespoon salt (table salt is ok but I prefer sea salt)
1 tablespoon sugar

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs, separate into whites and yolks
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoon melted butter

Directions
1) Whisk egg whites with buttermilk in a bowl.
2) In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter until the mixture is pale yellow.
3) Combine the buttermilk mixture with the egg yolk mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until combined. It is ok to leave the lumps in, you do not need to remove all the lumps!
4) Place Mickey pancake mould on a preheated non-stick pan. You can use a little cooking spray to grease the first pancake, but usually cooking pancakes don’t require grease or you’ll end up with oily and soggy pancakes.
5) Using a small teaspoon, drop 3 teaspoons of batter into the center of the mould and quickly spread from the center outwards.
6) Cook for 2 mins or until the bottom has set, then flip the pancake. Cook again for 1 min and release from mould.

Makes 12 Mickey Mouse Pancakes.

Sources:
Mickey Mouse Pancake Mould is no longer available on the Disney online store but it is available here:
http://www.treasurekingdom.com/DT/008DLHMMm.html

More specialty baking items also available on:

http://www.browncookie.com/

Have a great week ahead!

-Julie

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Trophy cupcakes-In Seattle

I love eating cupcakes from Trophy Cupcakes and Party. They are always moist with a crispy top. The cupcakes also have a round "lip", as a result from overfilling the muffin tin and letting the batter overflow during the baking process. The buttercream icing is so heavenly and smooth. When I like to eat something, I will try to duplicate the item at home so that I can enjoy it more often and share it with others. The extra effort you put into making something yourself is the secret ingredient for all delicious food because it comes from the heart. So here I share with you one of my favorite cupcake recipe.


Enjoying my Saturday morning with a cupcake and a cup of tea


Cupckes from Trophy Cupcakes and Party (Seattle)

I have also added the sugar cookie dough alphabet letters cookie so that you can spell out any captions for any special occasion....Father's day, mother's day, birthdays, Valentines day and 4th of July, the possibilities are endless. This little "special touch" will make your cupcakes extra special. I hope you enjoy it.

Cupcake Recipe (For a delicious moist cupcake)

(Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, Feb 2009)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup plus 1 tsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) In a bowl combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, set aside.
3) In a large bowl with electric mixer beat butter on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add in sugar, beat until smooth and fluffy.
4) Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth.
5) Beat in sour cream and flour mixture.
6) Line sixteen 2 1/2 inch muffin cups with paper bake cups. Fill each cup with two slightly rounded tablespoons of cake batter.
7) Bake 18 mins or until top springs back and cool completely on wire rack.
8) Top each cupcake with icing and top with Alphabet cookies.

Chocolate Icing

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
8 ounce carton sour cream
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine one 8 ounce carton sour cream, 1 cup whipping cream, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1/4 cup sifted unsweetened coca powder. Beat on medium-high until fluffy.
Alphabet cookies (For decoration)

1) On a lightly floured surface, knead 1/3 cup all purpose flour into 1/2 of a 16.5 ounce package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough (You can use any basic sugar cookie recipe and just knead in the extra flour so that the cookie will hold it's shape better).
2) Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick
3) *KEY STEP* Lightly brush with water and sprinkle with coarse red sugar
4) Cut into cookies into your desired spelling.
5) Bake small cookies in preheated 375 F oven for 6 minutes. Bake larger cookies 7 to 8 minutes.
6) Cool onto wire rack and use it to decorate your cupcakes.

Cupcakes I made for Valentine's day

You can purchase these beautiful cookie cutters here:
http://browncookie.com/collections/cookie-cutters/products/alphabet-cookie-cutters

I hope you will continue to make this delicious snack for your family for years to come!

Kind regards,
Julie

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Welcome to our store blog!

Welcome to our store blog! At browncookie.com, we offer a selection of hard to find specialty baking and pastry supplies like pineapple tart moulds, kueh moulding trays, and unique cookie cutters.

We will be posting our best recipes and tips on this blog showing how to use our products. We hope you will stop by to learn some great recipes. To check out our products, please go to http://www.browncookie.com


See you soon!


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