Tuesday 30 July 2013

Ginger and Hoisin Sauce Roasted Chicken Wings

I have an opened bottle of Hoisin sauce in the fridge and I wanted to make use of it. I am making an effort not to waste the things that I buy as it is a terrible waste of money. Last month, I used some of the sauce to make Penang Rojak and I have to find other ways to use it up.

I was craving for chicken wings and I didn't want to use the usual barbecue marinade. That's when I got an idea to come up with something of my own using Hoisin sauce. It was one of my "simply throw together" marinades, which is now properly documented thanks to this blog. In the past, it would have been something I would put together and then forget.

I crushed some garlic and ginger using a garlic press. It's a very useful gadget if you need to crush garlic and ginger without having to use your mortar and pestle.

Garlic and ginger
Run garlic and ginger through garlic press.
And then I added the crushed garlic and ginger with hoisin sauce, chili sauce, soya sauce and fish sauce. 

The marinade smelled and tasted pretty good. It was sweet and salty and the aroma of ginger was very refreshing and appetizing. 

The chicken wings turned out very tasty. These chicken wings would be nice to serve during parties or small gatherings. It is the sort of food that you can prepare the day before and pop it into the oven a few hours before your guests arrive. I find it very convenient and makes entertaining less stressful.

Ginger and Hoisin Sauce Roasted Chicken Wings
Recipe Source : Phong Hong's concoction

Ingredients :
- 10 chicken wings
- 2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili sauce
- 2 tablespoon light soya sauce
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, pounded (or crushed using garlic press)
- 1 inch ginger, pounded (or crushed using garlic press)

Method :
1. Clean chicken wings and pat dry.
2. Crush garlic and ginger.
3. In a mixing bowl add garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, chili sauce, soya sauce and fish sauce.
4. Put chicken wings into freezer bag/plastic bag and pour marinade into the bag and seal.
5. Move the chicken wings around to ensure that wings are evenly coated.
6. Place the chicken wings in chiller for about 4 hours or preferably overnight.
7. Before roasting, take the wings out to come to room temperature.
8. Preheat oven to 180C.
9. Roast the chicken wings for about 35-40 minutes, turning the wings after 20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.


This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY and hosted by Alvin of Chef and Sommelier

Sunday 28 July 2013

Ginger Honey Cheesecake

To me, dates are synonymous with the holy month of Ramadan. I understand that it is wise to consume dates upon breaking fast to gently ease your digestive system into accepting food.  Dates are packed with vitamins and minerals and are a good source of iron. My mum used to boil red dates with honey and consume it as a health drink. Unfortunately for me, I didn't like the smell of the red dates. Every time my mum boiled her health concoction, I would feel "pening" (dizzy).

There was only once that I found dates pleasing. It was on a MAS flight back from Terengganu to KL. It was just after Hari Raya and dates were served on the flight. Those dates were oblong in shape and did not have that characteristic date smell that makes me want to faint. In fact, they were rather tasty.

As it is now the fasting month, I find dates here, there and everywhere, displayed prominently at the supermarkets. These days you can also find designer dates at specialty shops, stuffed with nuts and chocolate. Have you ever eaten fresh dates? They are crunchy and taste a little bit like green apples. That took me by surprise. And I tried growing the seeds. Nothing came out of that which was a good thing. It would not do my messy garden any good to have a date palm growing in it's midst.

Finely chopped dates. They were very sticky and tasted rather good.

When I chanced upon this Middle Eastern inspired cheesecake, I just had to try it. Dates and ginger in a cheesecake. Doesn't that sound exotic? Frankly, my initial response was "yeeeeearrrr.....what a weird combination", given my attitude towards dates. But it did conjure up images of camels languidly navigating the dessert desert and exotic belly dancers gyrating to the hypnotic Middle Eastern beat. And Middle Eastern food. Delicious!

One of the most effective way to crush biscuits is to use the good old lesung from the lesung batu (pestle from your mortar and pestle). Very good way to relief frustration, whatever they may be. My weapon of choice.

My first task was to get hold of some gingernut biscuits for the base. This gingernut business reminded me of a rather cheeky postcard my mum brought back from Scotland. I'm afraid I can't tell you that story. Oh, OK I will. It has a cartoon of a Mr McSomething in his kilt standing atop a ladder. He was looking for gingernut biscuits for his customer when the good lady looked up and remarked that she has spotted them already :D

This cheesecake also contains Candied Ginger and I still have some in the fridge. I found the gingernut biscuits to be pleasant but they were not crunchy and rather hard. Not like the usual cookies which are crispy and crumbly. Are they supposed to be that way or had air leaked into the packaging? By the way, how do you say "biskut dah lemau" in English? 

Finely chopped candied ginger.

Since I was not happy with the biscuits, I went to Cold Storage and got another one called Ginger Crunch or something like that. This one said "more gingery" on the package and it was more crunchy like a regular cookie or biscuit. Tasted very nice too but a bit sweet for me. So the biscuits were sweet and so were the dates. And not forgetting the sugar from the candied ginger. I had to make sure that the cheesecake is not overly sweet.

This is how it looked like just out of the oven. For the first time my baked cheesecake is cracked and wrinkly. But I am not complaining because everything was fine after it cooled down completely.

The recipe calls for a mixture of cream cheese and Kashta cheese. Kashta cheese is a heavy cream style of fresh cheese but I doubt if  I can find it here. Besides, even if it is available, I would not buy it because generally I am scared of cheese. I only eat three types of cheese : Cheddar (in sandwiches or omelette), Mozzarella (in pizza, I will not touch it in any other form) and of course cream cheese (must add vanilla essence, if not I "pening" [get dizzy]). I still remember tasting blue cheese when I was a little girl. Uawghhh!!! I swore it stung my tongue. I had to drink a few glasses of my grandpa's iced coffee to kill the taste. So excuse me if I make a face when anybody mentions blue cheese dressing for salads :(

When it was time to taste the cheesecake, I was worried. If I didn't like the taste, I would throw away the whole cake. I would not serve something that doesn't taste good to me. So here goes........hmmmm! mmmm! mmmmm! My eyes became big as I kept spooning the cheesecake into my mouth. This is rather good! I couldn't believe it! The sweetness of the cake was just right and all the ingredients complemented each other so well. There's the creaminess from the cream cheese, the chewy gooey texture from the sweet sticky dates and the light gingery flavor and crunch from the candied ginger and biscuit base. Beautiful! 

I adjusted the amount of ingredients used in the original recipe and baked the cake in a 9" pan. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have baked it in an 8" pan for a taller cake. But still, sometimes a flatter cake does have an elegant look to it. And thanks to this month's chosen ingredient ginger on Little Thumbs Up, I have taken the risk of trying out this "strange" recipe :)

Ginger Honey Cheesecake 
Recipe source : Adapted from Favorite Cupcakes and Cheesecakes (page 140)
My notes and adaptations in red.

Ingredients :

Base :
- 250g gingernut biscuits, finely crushed (I used 200g)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (I omitted because the biscuits are already so sweet)
- 50g butter, chilled

Filling :
- 500g cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup honey (I used 1/4 cup only because the dates and candied ginger are sweet)
- 1/2 cup sugar (I omitted)
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 300g Kashta cheese (I used 200 ml whipping cream)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I omitted)
- 1.5 teaspoons vanila extract
- 3/4 cup dates, finely chopped (I used 1/2 cup, but will use 3/4 cup in future)
- 2 tablespoons glaced ginger, very finely chopped

Method :

Preheat oven to 180C (I used 140C for all my cheesecakes)

To make base :
1. Butter only the sides of a 23cm springform pan.
2. In a bowl, mix the crushed biscuits and sugar.
3. Add the butter and rub it in well with your fingers.
4. Distribute the crumbs loosely but evenly in the pan and push them slightly up the sides.
5. Cover and chill while you make the filling.

Note : I melted the butter and mixed it into the crushed biscuits until they resembled wet sand. Then I distributed the mixture evenly and pressed them firmly on the base of the pan. I did not push the up the sides.

To make filling :
1. Using an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese, honey and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
3. Then add in the remaining ingredients and continue to beat until evenly blended.
4. Pour the filling into the pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. (I baked mine for about 50 minutes because it was already set and slightly browned).
5. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then cover, still in the pan and refrigerate for 12 hours before removing from the pan and slicing. (My cake pulled away from the sides when cooled so I removed the ring of the pan before chilling)
6. Dust the cheesecake with icing sugar before serving.


This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY and hosted by Alvin of Chef and Sommelier.

This post is also linked to Cook-Your-Books #2 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

Friday 26 July 2013

Walnut Prune Cake

Another prune cake and this one has been adapted from Chef Wan's Walnut Prune Cake. The original recipe comes from the booklet Chef Wan Cakes. When I first saw the recipe, I wasn't excited as I wasn't very keen on prunes then. But after baking the Banana Prune Cake, I am now loving prune cakes.

In my first attempt, I followed the original recipe which uses whipped cream. I have seen Wendy's Whipped Cream Cake but she wasn't exactly raving over it. She said that she would gladly eat butter cake and I can understand why. The cake was dense and compact basically because I didn't beat the batter correctly. Besides, it didn't have that special something that butter cake has. I just don't know how to describe it.

The whipped cream version. Feels like eating plastic. But that's just me.

The recipe requires the prunes to be steeped in orange juice for three hours. That made the prunes very yummy with the orange flavor. I noted that you can get Sunsweet Prunes with Orange Essence but I would still go with using natural orange juice.

Prunes marinated in orange juice.

In the recipe, the eggs and sugar have to be beaten until stiff. I wasn't sure what that meant and kept on beating the eggs and see what happens. After about 10 minutes, the eggs mixture became very thick like cream. I guess that's what it meant. And then the whipped cream is gradually added. I think this is where I made my mistake. After the whipped cream was added, the egg mixture became watery again. I guess I should have continued beating until it became thick again. But I didn't.

I proceeded with adding the flour. The batter was thick and fluid and was very easy to pour into the pan. When I baked the cake, I noted that it did not rise very much.

Lots of cracks and the cake was on the dry side.

After 45 minutes, there was till some wet batter sticking to my skewer. The top was already quite hard and dry. I continued for another 10 minutes. After the cake was cooled, I drizzled melted chocolate over the cake .

Bottom part of the cake. I should have toasted the almond flakes.

I was quite disappointed when I tasted the cake. Mostly because the texture was dense and it was on the dryyish side. It was the chocolate sauce that made the cake palatable. No fault of the recipe, it's just that I didn't beat the batter properly.

First attempt. Drizzled with melted chocolate..

I wasn't satisfied and because I had some leftover marinated prunes, I decided to bake the cake again the next day with my own adaptations. Instead of whipped cream, I stuck to butter and added 2 tubs of yogurt for good measure. I am really glad that I baked the cake again because the second version was fantastic. The cake was very moist and fluffy and tasted very good even without the chocolate sauce.

Second cake rose nicely and hardly any cracks.

This cake is baked in a chiffon pan, I guess for the nice shape but feel free to use your regular pan.  This time I omitted the almond flakes and the amount of prunes used was 175g as opposed to 250g in the first bake because that was all that I had left. I actually preferred lesser amount of prunes and it suited me fine. 

I decided to put the prune side up. No chocolate sauce was required.

I love this cake very much as it is moist and fluffy with chocolaty and orangey flavours and moist yummy prunes. I'll give you the original recipe so that you can try it. If you don't like the whipped cream version, then I highly recommend the butter cake version.

Walnut Prune Cake
Recipe source : Adapted from Chef Wan Cakes page 26
My adaptations and notes in red.

Ingredients :
- 250g prunes pitted (I prefer less, about 175g)
- Juice of 1/2 orange (I used juice from 1 orange for 250g of prunes)
- 3 tablespoons sliced almonds (Toast first)
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup castor sugar (I reduced to 1/2 cup)
- 1 tbsp grated lemon zest (I used zest of 1 orange)
- 300ml whipped cream (I used 250g butter and 270ml plain yogurt)
- 2 cups self-raising flour (I used 250g self-raising flour)
- 3 tbsp apricot jam (I used peach jam because I didn't have apricot jam)
- 1 cup walnuts (I omitted)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- melted chocolate to decorate

Method :
1. Steep prunes in orange juice for 3 hours.
2. Grease a medium chiffon cake tin and sprinkle sliced almonds on the base.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar and lemon zest until stiff.
4. Gradually add whipped cream.
5. Fold in flour.
6. Divide batter into 2 portions, one with one-third and the other with two-thirds of batter.
7. Pour the larger portion of batter into prepared cake tin.
8. Mix together jam, walnuts, marinated prunes and cocoa powder with the remaining one-third of batter. (I mixed the jam, prunes and cocoa powder first to make it easier to fold into the batter)
9. Pour into cake tin over the first layer.
10. Create a marbled effect in cake using the tip of a knife to swirl batter.
11. Bake in an oven preheated to 170C for 1-1.5 hours. (I baked the butter cake version for 45 minutes at 160C)
12. Cool the cake in the tin and then remove.
13. Drizzle melted chocolate over the cake to decorate.

This post is linked to Cook-Your-Books #2 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Orange Ginger Cake

I still have quite a bit of Crystallized Ginger/Candied Ginger in the fridge and I used it to bake this delicious Orange Ginger Cake. I admit that I was apprehensive at first because even though I love ginger, I was not so sure if I would like it in a cake.

Crystallized ginger.

But I was prepared to give it a go because that was the only way to find out. Having just discovered the beauty of oranges in a cake, I was quite sure that I would love the orange flavour. And I wondered if the crystallized ginger would taste overpowering or hot in the cake.

This recipe (again!) comes from the book Lovely Butter Cakes. Looks like this is my favorite baking book :) The recipe calls for a product known as Cream Well which I am not familiar with. There is a note in the book that explains that Cream Well is a white cream that is refined from palm oil. It is commonly used for cake decoration after the beating process to enhance the butter flavor. I was not about to go out and get Cream Well and decided to use extra butter in it's place.

I have cut down on the sugar in anticipation of the sweetness that comes from the crystallized ginger. But the cake still came out a little bit sweet for my liking. But wow, the cake was delicious! It was fragrant with hardly any hint of ginger. 

See the ginger?

When I tasted a piece (making sure I choose the part that was studded generously with ginger) I was very pleased as it tasted so good. The crystallized ginger, which is hot when eaten on it's own, lost it's bite and was very mild. It complemented the orange flavor beautifully.

This cake really made my day. It is moist, buttery, orangey and best of all now I know one yummy way to use crystallized ginger besides chomping on a piece every time I open the fridge. By the way, I found ready made candied ginger at Aeon just like what Baby Sumo told me. It is at the place where they sell nuts and tidbits. But really, for me, I will spare some time to make more candied ginger.

This cake is another keeper for me and for my next bake, I will further reduce the sugar. 

Orange Ginger Cake
Recipe source : Lovely Butter Cakes (page 102)
(My adaptations and notes in red)

Ingredients :

Ingredients A
- 100g butter
- 70g cream well
(I used 200g butter)
- 150g caster sugar (I used 100g but still found it too sweet)
- 3 eggs
- 50ml orange juice (I did not measure and used juice from 1 orange)

Ingredients B (sifted)
- 70g high protein flour
- 100g self-raising flour
(I used 200g self-raising flour)

Ingredients C
- 30g glazed ginger (chopped)(I used 50g finely chopped)
- 1tsp orange emulco (I used zest from 1 orange)

- Orange slices (cut into half moon shapes)(I omitted)

Method :
1. Beat butter, cream well and sugar until creamy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Alternately fold in ingredients B and orange juice. Mix well.
4. Lastly add ingredients C and mix well.
5. Pour the batter into baking mould and top with orange slices.
6. Bake at 170C for 35-40 minutes or until cooked. (I baked at 160C for 1 hour)


This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY and hosted by Alvin of Chef and Sommelier

This post is also linked to Cook-Your-Books #2 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Honey Ginger Chicken

There is a dish served at The Magic Wok, Damansara Jaya, which I love a lot. That dish is Honey Ginger Chicken. What I enjoy is picking up the crispy ginger slices which are really delicious coated with the honey sauce. 

I have been wanting to re-create this dish at home for the longest time. But before that I did a search on the internet but I could not find the exact recipe. So I made do with Kylie Kwong's recipe. I did not follow her method exactly but only borrowed the marinade recipe to make the honey ginger sauce.

For the crispy ginger slices, I sliced some young ginger and lightly coated them with cornflour and deep fried them until they were crispy. I deboned two chicken legs and sliced the fillets into bite sizes. I then coated them with cornflour and deep fried the chicken pieces until they were slightly brown and crispy. The deep fried ginger slices and chicken were drained on paper towels.

Then I heated the sauce until it boiled and quickly threw in the fried ginger and chicken pieces, briskly tossing until the sauce thickened and caramelized. I wish that I hadn't added the dark soya sauce as the dish came out quite dark. Upon tasting, it did not taste exactly like The Magic Wok's, but I was not disappointed. The only thing that tasted very close was the ginger slices. Hah! Hah! Of course, the ginger would taste like ginger anywhere :)

I only cooked a small amount of this dish because it was experimental. Perhaps I should visit the Magic Wok again and this time concentrate on tasting and refine this recipe. If anybody has the Magic Wok recipe, let me know, OK? Or if you have a chance to dine there, order the Honey Ginger Chicken. Chances are you will love it unless you are one of those people who don't like ginger :)

Honey Ginger Chicken
Recipe source : Inspired by The Magic Wok and adapted from Kylie Kwong

Ingredients :
- 2 chicken legs, deboned and cut into bite sizes
- 6 inches young ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- Enough cornflour to coat
- Oil for deep frying

Sauce ingredients :
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons light soya sauce
- 2 tablespoons Shao Shing wine
- 1/2 inch young ginger, finely crushed
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soya sauce (in future I will omit as I find the dish became too dark)
- 2 teaspoons five spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Method :
1. Coat ginger slices with cornflour and deep fry until crispy. Drain on paper towels.
2. Coat chicken fillet cornflour and deep fry until crispy. Drain on paper towels.
3. In a clean wok, heat the sauce ingredients until it boils.
4. Add the ginger and chicken into the wok and quickly stir to coat with the sauce.
5. Stir until sauce is thick and caramelized.
6. Serve immediately.


This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY and hosted by Alvin of Chef and Sommelier