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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Homemade Chicken Stock Powder


Have you encountered those times when you are so hard up to cook something off the recipe book but only to find that almost every single recipe calls for chicken or vegetable stock as a base, and you are just reluctant to use store bought chicken stock cubes/powder just like I do?

What about frozen homemade stock you say? Nahh... tried and tested but not feasible especially when I have a puny freezer that cannot store much fresh frozen produce let alone those huge mason jars filled with homemade stock.





I was just browsing for Thermomix recipe when I stumbled upon a brilliant idea to make homemade chicken stock.. not in the form of a broth or paste but in a form of powder! I thought this would be a nice replacement for those store bought chicken stock cubes or powder that are often laden with MSG and other artificial flavourings. Since I am also on a mission to completely eliminate soy sauce in my diet for obvious health reasons, I decided to give it a go with hopes that this can be used as a regular seasoning in my cooking as well.





This recipe is adapted from here. It's a recipe meant for use with a Thermomix but fret not if you don't have one as this recipe is easily done in a conventional way as well. All you need is a powerful food processor or blender, a stove and an oven. It would also be an added bonus if you have a dehydrator as well.





This recipe can easily be modified by adding in just about any types of vegetable that you wish. It's also an excellent way to clear any leftover vegetable from the fridge. You may also adjust the amount of salt used to suit your taste and possibly omit it altogether if you're making it for small children. All you need to do is to add in more celery as its natural sodium content will give it a nice hint of salty taste. Chinese rice wine can be replaced with white wine if you prefer a 'western-style' taste, and if you wanna make an alcohol-free version apple or grape juice can be used to replace wine as well.



Recipe for Homemade Chicken Stock Powder


400 g Raw Boneless Chicken
100 g Salt
50 ml Chinese Rice Wine
1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes / Fresh Parsley
1/2 Tsp Coriander Seed
1 Pc Big Yellow Onion
20 cloves of garlic
1 Stick of Carrot
1 Stalk of Leek

  1. Place all ingredients into the food processor and blitz until finely minced.
  2. Heat up 1-2 tablespoon of oil and stir-fry the minced ingredients for about 25-30 minutes.
    This is how it looks after being cooked in the Thermie
  3. Spread mixture on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake at 160 C for bout 6-7 hours ** or until completely dried. Use a fork to stir/mix occasionally for even drying.
  4. Place mixture back into food processor (cleaned and dried) and blitz into fine powder.
** the baking duration will be shortened and the temperature needs to be lowered too if you have a bigger oven (bigger surface area of the tray), use double rack if you need to, and don't forget to turn on the Fan function too :)

Thermomix Method:


  1. Place all ingredients into TM bowl to chop finely. (MC/ 10secs/ Speed 7 - x 2)
  2. Add in 1-2 tablespoon of oil (optional) to cook. (30 minutes/ Varoma/ Speed 2)
  3. Spread mixture on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake at 160 C for bout 6-7 hours or until completely dried. Use a fork to stir/mix occasionally for even drying.
  4. Place mixture back into TM bowl (cleaned and dried) and mill into fine powder. (MC/ 40secs/ Speed 10)

Warning: Your entire house will smell like roast chicken when the stock paste is being dried in the oven.. yum




This chicken stock powder is so versatile that you may use it in:

  • stir-fried veges
  • porridge
  • soups/broth
  • stews
  • quick-boiled soups
  • fried rice
  • fried noodles
  • chicken pie fillings
  • bolognese sauce
  • aglio olio
  • eggs: scrambled/omlette
  • instant noodle soup sachet replacement
the possibilities are endless...

Oh yeah before I forget.. to make liquid stock, just mix 1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder to 1 cup of  hot water. Adjust accordingly depending on the amount of salt that you've added earlier on.

This powder is best kept in air-tight containers or glass jars and be stored in the refrigerator even though you may keep it out on the counter as well due to its relatively high salt content. 





Monday, 19 May 2014

The Quiet Book Project - How it all started

When I was a little girl, I used to watch my grandma sew and alter clothes with her old school treadle sewing machine in a room next to my bedroom. I was very curious yet fascinated then, and I would sometimes sneaked into her room when she wasn't around just to fiddle with it and watch the machine spin as I peddled with my short stubby legs.


Pic courtesy of Google


As I grew older, she kinda thought me how to thread and use the machine when I needed to sew some crafty stuff for my school project. So I kinda had a gist of how to sew simple straight and curved lines, and that was it.

Until I had a child of my own and I stumbled upon many interesting baby/toddler D.I.Y. crafty stuff on Etsy and Pinterest that sparked my interest in sewing. So I made a huge leap and bought myself a computerized sewing machine even though I knew nothing much about sewing, just because I didn't wanna regret later on for buying a basic mechanical one that lacks in certain functions like the 1-step button hole, automatic needle threader, alphabet stitch, and a whole load of decorative stitch patterns... Of course given a choice I would love to have an embroidery sewing machine, but it was out of my budget. Hence I settled with a Brother INNOV-IS 50 sewing machine (NV50) which I'm quite satisfied for now.

My cutie trying to emulate me photographing my 'un-boxing moment'


I was a wee bit ambitious because my first ever sewing project (with my new machine) was to sew a quiet book for my precious boy just so that he can be occupied during our 3-4 hour long journey back to our hometown instead of being glued to the iPad, or while waiting for our food to be served at the diners, and also for keepsake purpose.



Ryann's Quiet Book - The Front Cover


I personally never grew up with a quiet book myself, and I don't know if any one of my friends did either.. but basically a quiet book is a homemade fabric book that is designed to keep little ones occupied with their hands busy in church, at the restaurant or during long car rides. I was very inspired when I read on a blog about a mother who was still keeping a quiet book that her mom had sewn for her 30 years ago, and she finally passed it down to her own child now..and boy that vintage quiet book was still in mint condition!

Ryann's Quiet Book - Blue Themed


So, without formal training or lessons on sewing, I finally churned out a 14-paged quiet book that took me almost-2 months to complete. It was really challenging as I had no idea how to even operate my computerized sewing machine, yet alone sew zippers, button holes and appliques. But it was doable all thanks to YouTube and Pinterest. It's so satisfying to see my son enjoying and treasuring it that he even slept with his quiet book! So yeah.. even though it's time-consuming to make one, I really enjoyed sewing the finer details of each and every page that I have to admit it's addictive!


Before touching up and binding the book


The pic above shows only 12 pages before I added 2 more pages which are my favourite of the lot i.e. the Fishing page and the Laundry line page. These pages above were incomplete back then when this picture was taken.. I then added more details to a few pages before binding the book together.


Ryann's Quiet Book - The final product


I will go through each and every page in brief detail in separate blog posts as I think it will be too lengthy to cramp all 14 pages of description into a single blog post. So please bear with me for a while ya?



Monday, 24 March 2014

Tangzhong Breadmaker Loaf with the Joyoung Bread Maker

Ok yes, everyone is raving about the Tangzhong (water roux) method of baking a soft and fluffy loaf without the use of any bread softener or bread improver. I've personally tried Christine's and Alex Goh's recipes, they didn't work for me because when I followed their recipe blindly and baked it in my bread maker, the dough proofed through the window resulting in an ugly top because of the large quantity of ingredients used, and I didn't know how to modify the recipes then.

Tangzhong Breadmaker loaf


Thereafter, I started browsing and studying various Tangzhong recipes online to come out with a perfect one that suites my bread maker, and the general rule of Tangzhong is to mix 1 part of bread flour with 5 parts of water (by weight) at 65°C (149 °F) to form a paste/wet dough, and then incorporate 5% of the total flour weight as the required amount of Tangzhong to be used. Thanks to a blogger named Rose, she has a very detailed yet easily comprehended Universal Tangzhong recipe converting formula that can be applied to any other bread recipes.

Tangzhong Breadmaker Loaf


So, here's my version of Tangzhong White Loaf made with the Joyoung bread maker. The bread turned out very light, soft and fluffy on the inside, yet crunchy on the outside.

Very soft and fluffly IRL


For the Tangzhong paste:

** Makes 1 batch enough for a loaf of bread without any leftover!

 Ingredients:

50 ml  Water
10 gm  Bread Flour


1) Whisk the water and flour until it is well blended and free of lumps.

Flour and water mixture


2) Stir the mixture constantly over medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until the mixture thickens up and leaves behind traces of 'line'.

 3) Remove immediately from the heat, transfer to a bowl and cover with a cling wrap touching the surface. Let it cool down completely while you prepare the rest of the ingredients for the bread.

T: Ready when 'lines' appear B: Cover with cling wrap touching the surface






For the Tangzhong Breadmaker Loaf:

Ingredients:

250 gm High protein flour / Bread flour
3 tbsp Sugar
3 tbsp Milk Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Instant Yeast
1 Egg (lightly beaten)
100 ml Water
20 gm Butter
1 batch of Tangzhong


1) Place the Tangzhong, water, egg into the bread tin.

2) Add in the flour, and then place the sugar, salt butter and milk powder in each corners of the bread tin.

3) Lastly dig a shallow pit in the middle of the flour and add in the instant yeast.

4) Select white loaf function (C-1 for Joyoung - 750g, dark crust).

L: Proofed well and baking, R: Baked!


Remember to let the loaf cool down completely on a wire rack (approx. 30 mins) before slicing!

Tangzhong Breadmaker Loaf


Also do take note, this Tangzhong bread is very 'sensitive' to air, so do not let it out in the open for long as it will harden up in no time.

So soft!


Wholemeal Variation:

Tangzhong Wholemeal Loaf


Just replace the bread flour with 40 gm of wholemeal flour :

210 gm bread flour
40 gm wholemeal flour

the rest of the ingredients remain the same.



I also used the same wholemeal recipe but rolled them out into buns and baked in the oven. The results were phenomenal!
 

Tangzhong Wholemeal Buns



Wholemeal Buns Instructions:

- Use the proofing/fermentation function of your bread machine to knead and proof the dough

- Remove the dough and gently knead the dough for 1 minute

- Let it rest for 10 minutes (covered with tea towel/muslin cloth) 

- Roll into desired bun shapes and space them out on the baking tray

- Cover with tea towel

- Let it proof again for 45 minutes until double in size

- Brush buns with egg/milk wash

- Bake in a pre-heated oven of 200 Degree Celcius for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.



These Tangzhong breads stayed soft for 3 days in room temperature, I didn't even need to reheat in the microwave to soften them up as compared to the conventional breadmaker recipes.

So try it and let me know what you think! :)



Sunday, 16 February 2014

Homemade Bread Machine Yogurt with the Joyoung Bread Maker

My son is a big fan of tart and tangy yogurt, which is a good thing right? And I absolutely love having plain yogurt with granola for breakfast. I remembered many years back when I tried to make homemade yogurt all by myself, without any funky gadget but a mason jar and a Styrofoam cooler box in hand. It was tedious, as I needed to heat up the milk on the stove to a certain degree Celcius and monitor the temperature diligently be careful not to over boil it, and measure the temperature of the water needed to fill the Styrofoam cooler box for the yogurt to be incubated in. And then I crossed my fingers for the next 8 hours or so hoping that my yogurt would turn out OK. 

Homemade Bread Machine Yogurt


At the end, was it worth all the effort ? I guess not as that was my first and last time making homemade yogurt. The texture was gritty and off, so I thought it was probably easier and more convenient to just purchase a tub of yogurt off the shelves then.

Homemade Bread Machine Yogurt


This time however, I decided to give it another try. All because of the Joyoung bread maker that comes with a yogurt function which is oh-so-convenient. I briefly searched online for bread machine yogurt recipes but non of the bread makers used have automatic setting like Joyoung. One of the recipes was to be made using the conventional method of heating the milk on the stove, and then transferring it into a mason jar to be incubated inside the bread tin filled with warm water, like a 'water-bath'. Then the bread maker is manually set to the desired temperature and duration of heating. Yes, this method can be done in an oven as well, or even a slow cooker for that matter. And then there is this type of bread maker that comes with a special yogurt-making container, also to be placed inside the bread tin like the above mentioned 'water-bath'. Gotta pre-heat the milk on the stove too I guess, but I may be wrong.


My favourite snack: plain yogurt with granola


The instructions from the Joyoung recipe book left me feeling skeptical at first, because apparently all I needed to do was to pour in the milk and yogurt starter into the tin and then press start. No pre-heating of milk, separate jars/containers or water bath. 

So, instead of using 1 L of fresh milk as stated in the recipe book, I used half the amount to experiment first  because I hate to waste food for that matter if my yogurt fails. The next day when I woke up to the sound of my beeping bread maker, I was so delighted with the sour-tangy whiff of freshly made yogurt when I opened up the lid.

Anyway, here's the recipe  to my homemade bread machine yogurt made with the Joyoung bread maker. I would recommend using the best fresh milk and yogurt you can find at your local supermarket. For this recipe, I used cold fresh milk and yogurt from our local brand Farm Fresh, not the best but I will definitely experiment with other brands soon. Also, I abide to the simple ratio of 1 cup milk : 1 tablespoon yogurt starter in my recipe. Feel free to double up the recipe according to your personal preference.




Homemade Bread Machine Yogurt with the Joyoung Bread Maker

Makes 2 Cups 

Ingredients:

2 Cups of Fresh milk (500 ml)
2 Tablespoons of plain yogurt


I use full fat fresh milk and yogurt from Farm Fresh



1) Make sure the bread tin is clean and dry before use. Best is to sterilized with hot water first. Remove kneading paddle. (Honestly, I was too lazy hence I just rinsed with tap water and didn't even bother to dry it at all, glad it worked!)

2) Pour 2 cups of fresh milk into the bread tin, add in the yogurt and stir thoroughly. I used cold milk and yogurt straight out from the fridge, no pre-heating required!

Pour milk and yogurt starter into the bread tin and mix well


3) Close the lid, select yogurt function (C-11), and press start!


Yogurt function C-11 takes 8 hours to complete


The machine will automatically heat up the milk and keep warm to an optimum temperature for the incubation to take place.

8 hours later, you will get this.


Creamy and smooth yogurt


The texture of the yogurt was pretty firm and curdy at first, but it got a lil' more runny as I stirred along. 

Smooth and not gritty at all

It may seem quite runny and thin in the above picture, but it's not. Trust me. 
However if you prefer very thick Greek yogurt texture that can hold a spoon in an upright position, then strain it through a cheesecloth (muslin, or how about a Teh-tarik sieve? hehe) or a sieve lined with coffee filter paper.



Storing the freshly made yogurt into mini glass pudding jars


As you can see here, the texture of the yogurt is not as runny as the previous picture. Instead, it's very smooth, creamy and not gritty at all. It firms up a bit more in the refrigerator too. I store my freshly churned yogurt in mini glass pudding jars. Keep refrigerated and best consumed within a week.


Slurps!
 

Plain yogurt is best paired with granola, fresh fruits, berries, and may be sweetened with honey or sugar. And here's mine with apple raisin granola, snack-sized portion to curb those hunger pangs in between meals.


Yummy!


Oh ya, don't forget to save some as a starter for the next batch of your homemade yogurt! It can be frozen in ice cube trays and then defrosted before adding into the fresh milk.

 
So luscious and delicious!




Thursday, 19 December 2013

No-Bake Chocolate Cookie Yogurt Cheesecake Cuppies

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Have I ever told you that I'm a medical doctor by profession but an avid baker at heart?

Before I moved out of my parents house I used to bake so often until my mom's faithful table top oven broke down. I have since replaced it with a new one but it was damaged during a major house renovation a couple of years ago. Then, it was never replaced anymore because I no longer live with my parents and my mom hardly ever bakes.

Last week, we are back at my parent's place because my hubby had to sit for a major post-grad exam in UM ,  and that poor fella's birthday fell on the same exam week as well. I was very reluctant to spend a bomb on pricey store-bought cakes, so I thought what could be better than to 'bake' a cake for my hubby?

Then I remembered, crap... there is no oven in my parent's house.

My hubby absolutely adores cheesecake. So I decided to whip up a no-bake Chocolate Cookie Yogurt Cheesecake cuppies that are not only simple to make, but requires no oven to bake as well.

No-Bake Chocolate Cookie Yogurt Cheesecake Cuppies

Most of the no-bake cheesecake recipes call for heavy cream as a base for this cupcake, taste really delicious, but not too favourable for my expanding waistline. So I have replaced it with Nestle Natural Set Yogurt. What I like about this yogurt is that it has no added sugar,  no artificial colouring, low in fat and contains calcium which is good for you.





No-Bake Chocolate Cookie Yogurt Cheesecake Cuppies

yields 10 large cupcakes

For the base:
200g Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
90g Melted butter

For the fillings:
250g Soft Cream cheese
90g Icing sugar
1 tbsp Gelatin
80 ml water
270g Nestlé Natural Set Yogurt
2 tsp Lemon juice
50g of Oreo Cookie Crumbs

For the topping:

1 small tub of whip cream
10 Oreo cookies


You can either buy a pack of 'pre-crumbled' small crushed chocolate cookie pieces, or just use the regular pack of chocolate cookies, remove the cream and crumbled it in a zip-lock bag.





1) Melt the butter in the microwave on HIGH for 40 seconds.

Melt butter in microwave oven

2) Mix the butter with the cookie crumbs until it resembles wet soil.


Mix butter & Oreo crumbs well

2) To make the cookie base, scoop the butter/cookie mixture into individual paper cups and pressed down firmly with the back of a spoon.

Press crumbs down firmly with the back of a spoon

3) Refrigerate the base for at least 20 minutes or pop them into the freezer to speed up the process. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese mixture.

4) To prepare the gelatin mixture, either boil the water & gelatin over a stove top or pop them into the microwave for 1 minute. Ensure that the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Gelatin mixture

5) Cream and mix the cream cheese and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Do ensure that the cream cheese is softened at room temperature so that it is easier to work with. I used icing sugar as it contains a tiny amount of corn starch that helps to firm up the mixture without the use of excessive gelatin.

Mix cream cheese and icing sugar well

6) Slowly add in the yogurt into the mixture. I'm using Nestlé Natural Set Yogurt as a healthier alternative as most of the no-bake cheesecakes call for heavy cream in their recipes.



I replaced  heavy cream with Nestlé Natural Set Yogurt for a healthier alternative

7) Add in the lemon juice.

8) Add in the gelatin mixture and mix well.


Add in the gelatin mixture

9) Stop the mixer. Add in the cookie crumbs & gently stir with a spatula until well blended.

Add in the cookie crumbs

10) Spoon the cream cheese mixture into individual paper cups. Let it set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Spoon mixture into paper cups

11) Whip up the cream until stiff peak forms. For best results, chill the bowl and mixer paddles beforehand.


A bowl of freshly whipped cream


12) Place the whipped cream into a pipping bag or just a simple plastic bag & cut off a small edge. Pipe the whipped cream onto the cheesecake cuppies.

13) Decorate the cuppies with some sprinkled crumbs and cookie pieces on top of the cream.


And there you have it, a simple no-bake chocolate cookies yogurt cheesecake cuppies made with Nestle Natural Set Yogurt which is healthy, scrumptious and yummy!


No-bake Chocolate Cookie Yogurt cheesecake cuppies

For more information on the health benefits of this yogurt, kindly visit http://www.nestle.com.my/. Don't forget to drop by HERE for more yummy yogurt recipes by Nestle.




Thursday, 5 December 2013

Wholemeal 'Puffer Fish' Salmon Mayo Cheese Bun

They say that once you become a mother, you will do anything for your child(dren). Same goes when it comes to food for the tots (especially those picky ones), anything as long as they eat.  Even though I've been making various loaves / buns at home, my toddler doesn't seem to be very interested in them. I wonder why hmm.. Since he is at the phase where he is very fond of animals, be it farm animals, wild animals or household pets, I thought maybe I should make animal-shaped bread to entice him to eat my homemade bread.


Wholemeal 'Puffer Fish' Salmon Mayo Cheese Bun


 Puffer fish bun

The inside of the bun with salmon mayo cheese filling


A successful recipe always starts with failure.. as you can from the picture below,  the 'evolution' of my puffer fish buns started ugly, but I managed to make to somehow improve and make them  slightly better after a couple of tries.

The initial not-so-pretty buns



I'm using my Joyoung bread maker to knead and proof the dough before rolling them into desired shapes for baking. Of course, this recipe is doable with bare hands or better if you have a heavy duty mixer that can knead dough.



Wholemeal 'Puffer Fish' Salmon Mayo Cheese Bun

Ingredients:

200g High protein flour / Bread flour
100g Wholemeal flour
200mls Water
3 Tbsp Milk powder
2-3 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Salt
30g Butter
1 Tsp Instant Yeast

Fillings:

1 Can Salmon Mayo Spread
3 Slices of Cheddar Cheese

** If you prefer to make your own salmon mayo spread, just mix together steamed salmon, finely chopped onions, dash of lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

**Other suggestions for savoury bun fillings are: Egg mayo, Tuna mayo, Sardine, Avocado egg mayo or chicken floss with mayo.




1) Place water into the bread tin. Water can be substituted with fresh milk, soya or any plant based milk of your choice.

Place water into the bread tin


2) Add in the flour.


A total of 300g high protein and wholemeal flour


3) Add in the remaining dry ingredients, Dig a pit in the middle and place the yeast in it.

4) Select 'dough fermentation/proofing' function (C-9 for Joyoung) and press start. The entire process will take 1 hour and 25 minutes to complete. (25mins for kneading, 1 hour for proofing).

Add in butter, sugar, salt, milk powder & yeast; Select proofing/fermentation function


The good thing about using a breadmaker for this function is that it actually heats up slightly to an optimum temperature for the dough to ferment and rise.


5) Once the machine beeps, remove the dough and gently knead on a dusted surface for 5 times. Divide the dough into 6 small pieces, then cover with a tea towel and leave it to rest for 10 minutes.



6) For every piece of dough, save up a tiny portion for the tail & fin. Roll out the bigger piece of dough & place half a slice of cheddar cheese on it. Then top it up with a heaped spoonful of the salmon spread. This is my 'cheat version' of using canned Salmon mayo spread instead of making it from scratch.

Add caption


7) Roll up the edges and seal the dough tightly.

8) As for the smaller dough portion, cut out a triangle and rectangle shape for the tail & fin respectively, then further cut in slits along the red lines as shown in the ugly template below that I've hand-drawn (I don't know nuts about computer graphics, sorry!)


Pardon for my ugly illustration, but cut along the red lines.


9) Then place the main dough with sealed side down onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

10) For the scales, use a scissors to snip the surface, be careful not to cut too deep otherwise the scales will split open when the dough proofs and expands, spilling out its contents like a roadkill (sorry bad joke hehe).


Do not cut too deep or you will risk having 'exploding puffer fishes' after baking

11) For the eyes, I used chocolate chips. Do press it down firmly onto the dough, otherwise it might drop off as the dough expands during baking. Other alternatives for the eyes include dried blackcurrant, raisin, prune or flax seed.

Before baking: looks just like a regular sized fish eh?


12) After shaping the fishes, spritz some water onto the surface of the buns. Cover the tray of buns with a tea towel and allow to proof/ferment again for 40 minutes.

13) Just before baking, brush the surface with egg wash or milk.

14) Bake in a preheated oven at 200 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.



All puffed up!


That's it! I hope you enjoyed this recipe. My toddler was very excited when he saw the end results. Needless to say, he wolfed down a bun without a flinch!