Thursday, 31 May 2007

bill’s Ricotta Hotcakes

When it comes to breakfast (or brekkie, in Aussie slang), I am a creature of habit.

Confession: I have been eating the same brekkie for the last decade (at least!). Two cups of coffee (one regular, one decaf) and two slices of some sort of whole wheat/grainy toast. When I am feeling adventurous, I buy/make special breads or use uncommon spreads (e.g. mango and passionfruit jam).

When we do have a special breakfast, it’s Quikong who does the work. For example, he’ll make a special omelette and drive out to get my favourite bread from an artisan baker who only uses organic ingredients.

For a change, I thought that I should make something special for him for breakfast. I got this ricotta hotcakes recipe from Bill Granger’s book, Sydney Food, which is also the first gift that Quikong ever gave me. Bill has a few cafes/restaurants in Sydney and some of the items on the menu can be found in his books. (p/s: Just so you know that the hotcakes would cost $16.60 if you ordered it at bill’s café)

Ricotta Hotcakes

1 1/3 cups ricotta
3/4 cups milk
4 eggs, separated
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
50 g butter

Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a mixing bowl and mix to combine.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix until just combined.

Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites through batter in two batches, with a large metal spoon.

Lightly grease a large non-stick frying pan with a small portion of the butter and drop 2 slightly heaped tablespoons of batter per hotcake into the pan (don’t cook more than 3 per batch). Cook over a low to medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hotcakes have golden undersides. Turn hotcakes and cook on the other side until golden and cooked through.

Transfer to a plate and quickly assemble with other ingredients e.g. honeycomb butter, fruits. Dust with icing sugar.

Kitchen Notes:
- I only made half the recipe and it yielded 7 hotcakes.
- I used skim milk and reduced fat ricotta and I enjoyed it better than the original version at the café which I found a little too rich for me.
- Quikong said that it is much better with honey rather than maple syrup. I concur.
- It’s really good with banana but I didn’t have any so I served it with stewed apple and berries.
- Try this with some cinnamon or vanilla added in the batter.
- You can make the batter 24 hours in advance & store it in the fridge (e.g. make it the night before)

This looks like an ordinary pancake, but it definitely is extra special. So light & fluffy, yet creamy…..You have to try it and discover it for yourself. … yuummmmm….

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Taro “Fries”

Taro has a case of the ugly duckling syndrome. Just look at it – you would not think much of this starchy tropical tuber. Slice it and you will discover its creamy white flesh that is often speckled with pretty purplish or brown markings.

I love taro in savoury and sweet recipes such as steaming small cubes of taro together with rice or boiling taro cubes in coconut milk and palm sugar. You can pretty much use taro as you would potato, but it is more starchy and dense. Taro also has more flavour than potato. It tastes creamy and almost nutty - somewhere between a potato and a chestnut. It is rich in protein, carotene, fibre, potassium and phosphorus.

Taro “Fries”
(Oven baked taro)

600g old taro
Sea salt flakes
1-2 tbsp veg oil (or cooking spray)


Preheat oven to 160 degree C (fan-force)


Peel taro and cut it into “fries” (about 1cm in thickness). Wash the taro to remove any excess starch*. Dry taro on a tea towel.


Toss taro in sea salt flakes and oil. If using cooking spray, make sure that you coat the taro evenly with oil. Otherwise, it will not get crispy.


Place taro on a baking sheet and bake till it’s crispy and lightly browned (about 45 mins).


Serve taro fries immediately. Sprinkle vinegar and extra salt if desired. I like to dip my taro fries in Thai sweet chilli sauce.

*soaking the taro in water and 1 tsp of limestone water for about 20 minutes makes it crispier.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

ABMT- Charity Cake Competition (Part II: Results)

It was great to see so many people participating in this year’s Australia's Biggest Morning Tea Charity Cake Competition held at work last Wednesday and I also got to know a few new people. Yet another example of how food brings people together. AND this was for a good cause. There was a large variety of cakes (a few pictured above) – some were based on family recipes, and a few participants were first time bakers. Let’s have a look at the cake competition categories:

Australia's Best Taste Morsel Categories
- Rosemary Stanton Award for the healthiest Cake or most creative use of fruit category
- Neuhaus’ Couvateur Award for best use of Chocolate
- Willie Wonka Award for the most creative use of lollies on a cake.
- Limbo Award for the flattest cake
- Meccano award for the tallest cake
- The Thousand Nights and One Night Award for the longest cake
- Cardiologist Superannuation Award for the most fattening cake
- Timothy Leary Award for most psychedelic use of colour on or in a cake
- Audrey Hepburn Award for Style and Simplicity
- Martha Stewart Award for the best fraudulent Cake

In my previous post, you would have learnt about my reservations about how my cake would turn out. Despite my doubts, people were intrigued by the cake because it was a German recipe, it had red wine in it and because of the unique “Sydney Opera House” contours. It didn’t matter that the glaze had lost its shine. It fetched the second highest bid ($35)! And it also won an award. Can you guess which one?

The cake auction was a great success - we raised $455 for the Cancer Council. Not surprisingly, the highest bid ($50) went to this cake by AD:

Some of the other cakes that won a prize (can you guess for which categories?):

But the one that caught my eye was this caramelized upside down banana cake by BS. I had to outbid the BIG BOSS just so I could do my part for charity (...and take this baby home).

When I finally sank my teeth into it, I was in HEAVEN - it tasted divine! I am at a loss for words as to how to describe it. Everyone who had a slice also agreed. Of course, I just had to have the recipe and luckily I bumped into BS at the photocopying machine yesterday and found out that he got it off one of Bill Granger’s book. I’ll make this soon and post the recipe.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Australia's Biggest Morning Tea - Charity Cake Competition (Part I)

Tomorrow is the official day for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea , one of the Cancer Council Australia’s most popular and largest fundraising events. Every year, one of the departments at work organises a Charity Cake Competition where home baked cakes are judged according to various categories and then auctioned off. All the proceeds go to the Cancer Council.

... As if I needed an excuse to bake ...

I enjoy baking for charity. My first charity bake was when I was 14 years old and I baked 37 heart-shaped chocolate mud cakes in three straight days. I was chocolate phobic for almost a week after that. There is such a thing as too much chocolate, I discovered.

I have been thinking for a week about what I should bake. I had to take into account my lack of time this week, so the cake cannot be too time consuming or complicated. And it had to be unique. So, I decided to make a German cake from the Alsace region - Rotweinkuchen (Red Wine Cake) I got the recipe from my German friend, Eva of Sweet sins. She has many great recipes.

This was also an opportunity to show off my new toy – a cast aluminum traditional cake mould, one of the cool gadgets that Em gave me for my birthday two weeks ago. Wouldn't you agree that this mould is destined for great cakes? When I first laid my eyes on it, my mind started to go wild thinking of all the beautiful cakes I could make.

However, I have to say that I am a little disappointed with the final product ….
You know how sometimes you have a certain vision or fantasy of how your cake will turn out but in the end, the reality didn’t quite match up? Well, this is one such instance. It was not the mould’s fault though. It was the glaze’s fault…. and the baker. Oh well, at least this will be for a good cause. And I know that it will taste good because I've had rave reviews the last time I made it. Photos of the cake competition that was held today, the results and the cake auction will be in my next post, so stay tuned!

~ Rotweinkuchen ~
German Red Wine Chocolate Cake

200g butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
200g flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder, heaped
125ml red wine
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cocoa, heaped
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
icing sugar for dusting or chocolate glaze

Cream butter with sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time,
and mix well.

Stir in cinnamon, vanilla essence, wine and chocolate till just combine (do not over mix). The mixture will look mushy.

Fold in the flour, cocoa and baking powder.

Pour into prepared baking tin and bake in a pre-heated oven (150 degrees Celsius, fan-forced) for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Let cool on a rack and dust with icing sugar or chocolate glaze. Serve with fresh cream or ice-cream if desired.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

A Perfect Day

We had great weather in Sydney today. Perfect blue skies. The temperature was ideal for the SMH Half-Marathon and al fresco celebration afterwards. It was an enjoyable run for both Em, a dear friend whom I used to train with, and me. While we were happy to see Quikong at the end of the run, I miss seeing my mom and sis who were terrific supporters, and my nephew who always made posters for me as he cheered me on.

How did Em & I celebrate? Well, we did not want to waste such a beautiful day trapped indoors, so decided to have lunch at my place but outdoors, and made an impromptu visit to the Sydney Fish Market. It is the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and the world's second largest seafood market in terms of variety outside of Japan.

Do you like our "backyard"? Well, it’s actually a waterfront reserve, but we like to think that it’s ours since we spend so much time there – not just for meals, but also to read a book or just to enjoy the sunsets which are amazing.

Ok, back to the all important food part – the stars of our long celebratory lunch:

Balmain Bugs (tastes like lobster) and Pacific Oysters (tastes creamier than Sydney Rock Oysters)…

Steamed King Prawns

Mussel Bouillabaisse (recipe below)…

Quikong also made this amazing grilled squid which he marinated in kaffir lime infused olive oil, grated ginger and soy sauce (sorry, I was too busy eating to snap a photo). We ended the meal with a warm chocolate mud cake (which I made last week and froze) served with cookies and cream ice-cream and rhubarb compote (no photos - again, I was too busy eating!)

Quick & Easy Mussel Bouillabaisse
(adapted from “Light & Luscious Summertime Cookbook” by the Australian Women’s Weekly)

1kg Large mussels, scrubbed & beard removed

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small can (400g) of diced/crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Tabasco sauce or chilli flakes

1-2 tsp sugar

2 tbsp chopped parsley


Heat oil in a large pot and sauté garlic and onion till onion is soft. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, the sauces, and sugar. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat. You can make the sauce ahead of time.


After simmering for about 5 minutes, add the mussels and parsley, bring to the boil again. You may wish to add some boiling water to adjust the consistency of the sauce to your preference. Put the lid on the pan and shake it all about to distribute the sauce. When all the mussels open up, serve immediately with crusty bread. We had a nice olive sourdough bread.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Healthy Zucchini & Apple Loaf: An experiment

Adjusting savoury recipes to make them healthier and lower in fat is usually never a problem because the flavours are not compromised. However, low fat baking is more challenging. Quikong doesn’t like me baking low fat cakes or muffins. However, once in a while I succeed in converting him to the light side, such as a reliable muffin recipe I have been using that uses low fat yogurt (more about that in a future post).
I love zucchini and use it frequently in Chinese stir-fries, grilled or with pasta. I was curious to see if I could make something sweet with it. I came across this recipe, which is supposed to be healthier because it is low in fat uses whole-wheat flour. I’ve made low fat cakes before and I worry about the texture, so I added chopped up apple and some walnuts. Since I added walnuts, I reduced the oil to ¼ cup. The loaf looks a little flat because the pan I used was too big.
The Verdict: Lovely flavours! I would make this again but with some changes. The cake was overly moist (almost wet – I noticed some water dripping underneath the cooling rack!). So next time, I will squeeze the excess liquid from the grated zucchini. I’m glad that I added in the apple and walnuts because it improved the texture. Adding raisins instead of apple and reducing the amount of sugar could also be a good adaptation.

Zucchini and Apple Loaf

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 cup white flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

2 eggs

1/2 cup soft brown sugar, lightly packed

1/3 – 1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 1/2 cup grated zucchini*, lightly packed

1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped into small cubes

1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

(* I peeled the skin, but you can leave it on)


Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced).


Sift all dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix well.


In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until foamy, about 1–2 minutes.


Add oil, zucchini, apples, walnuts and vanilla and beat to combine.


Fold in dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until combined. Batter will be thick and a little lumpy.


Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 45–50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool loaf on a cooling rack.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Do You Like Opening Presents?

I do! And what I enjoy even more is giving presents. Now, you don’t have to wait till birthdays or Christmas to get or receive presents – the secret is in cooking al Cartoccio or en papillote.

I really enjoy having friends over for a home cooked meal or smaller affairs like tea parties with the girls swapping gossip over cakes, scones or chocolate fondue. The tricky part about entertaining, especially for dinner parties, is being able to mingle with the guests and still get the meal ready. That is a balance that I am still working on. The menu chosen and cooking technique employed will obviously affect the amount of time you have to be in the kitchen when guests arrive.

Now to the secret... One of the easiest (few ingredients, quick preparation and cooking time) meals I’ve served at several dinner parties for friends have been food (usually fish) cooked in individual pouches. Cooking in parchment paper (or foil), al Cartoccio (in Italian), or en papillote (in French), is a perfect technique for cooking delicate fish fillets. The pouches can be prepared several hours before hand, popped into oven when needed while leaving me with plenty of time to mingle with my guests. Serving each guest with the individual pouches also seems to be a sort of “party trick” that always seems to impress my friends. Maybe it’s the suspense and the enjoyment of discovering what lies inside their pouch that thrills them. Everyone likes opening presents, right?

Besides the simplicity of this cooking technique, I enjoy this method because the food steams in the pouch in its own juices and as you open the pouches, you get a mouth watering whiff of the aromatic steam. This method is also low in fat and is easy to clean up (which is a big plus for larger dinner parties). Due to clean, simple flavours that I aim for when cooking al Cartoccio, the freshest ingredients is a must (so no frozen stuff!). Although I used foil in this recipe, parchment paper appears more elegant.
Now that secret is out ;-) please try cooking al Cartoccio and let me know what you or your guests think.


Salmon al Cartoccio
(serves 2)

2 x 300g salmon fillets, skinned & de-boned
2 cloves of garlic, sliced very thinly
½ lemon
Salt flakes
Black pepper, freshly ground
Fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley, roughly chopped

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C (fan forced).

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the rind of the lemon. Slice the rind into thin strips, crush it with a rolling pin to release the fragrant oils and set aside.

Lay out 2 pieces of foil or parchment paper, large enough to be able to create a pouch for each piece of salmon.

Place salmon on the foil/paper and season it with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Scatter the thin garlic slices evenly on both sides of each fillet and place the fillet in the centre of the foil/paper. Sprinkle the chopped parsley and lemon rind on top of the fillet.

Seal each pouch (see photo) by crimping the edges together.

Place the pouches on a baking try and place it in the oven for about 12-15 minutes (medium) or 20 minutes (well done). *(see notes below)

Serve it straight away & watch the expressions on your guests’ faces!

Serve it with…..

I usually served it with steamed or grilled vegetables. Baked potatoes, wild rice or couscous would also be something easy to whip up. You could also serve some mint yogurt (stir chopped mint leaves in some plain yogurt and add a dash of lemon juice) on the side.

- *I recommend serving salmon medium cooked to get that melt-in-the-mouth texture. It’s actually a little tricky because the baking time varies depending on the thickness of the salmon fillets and also how many fillets I am cooking at a time. But I managed to get the timing right after the second try.
- 300g of salmon was quite a large serving for me, so you may want to use a smaller piece if you intend to serve starters as well as dessert.
- Salmon cutlets are also suitable and will remain quite moist even if it’s well done because of the skin and fat around the cutlets. But it tends to be less popular because of the bones.
- Parsley can be replaced by any aromatic herbs such as chives.
- Serve tomato based pasta in the same way. The trick is to use make sure that when cooking the pasta, you remove it before it reaches the point of being al dente, toss it in the sauce and seal it up in individual pouches. The pasta will not have to be in the oven for too long, just enough for the flavours to mingle. Yum!!!

Source: Inspired by Gourmet Food Suite 101, August 2006

Taster Notes by Quikong:

8 out of 10 spoons
"Can I have more, please?"

Monday, 14 May 2007

Food for Fuel

Yes - believe or not - I do eat for fuel too and not just to fuel my greediness….

Thankfully, to balance out my love for food, I also love long-distance running. The SMH Half-Marathon is a mere week away (20 May). It has an interesting route that goes through the historical Rocks area of Sydney as well as parts of the CBD area. On the down side (or literally, up side?), the route has a few killer hills that I am not looking forward to.

As I have been training for this race for the last 8 weeks, I noticed that I do think a bit differently about what I eat, especially before I do my long weekend runs (90-120 minutes), which is an essential part of every endurance training program.

There are many different opinions about how much carbohydrates one should consume per day while training and during the race itself. Then, there is also a lot of debate about whether or not “carbo-loading” is even necessary for a half-marathon. Carbo-loading typically entails an increased carbohydrate intake of up to 70% of an athlete’s total daily calories, coupled with reduced training for three days prior to the race.

I am not pedantic about such things because as long as I have been consistent with my training, I like to keep it simple. And after years of experimenting with different types and quality of foods, I know what works for my body. Basically, I just make sure that I drink plenty of fluids and generally eating a balanced meal. What I do differently is emphasise on consuming a variety of complex carbohydrates during the training period and cut down on foods that are harder to digest (e.g. red meat) about 2 days before the race.

Consumption of adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates is important as it is converted to stored glycogen in the muscles which will hopefully fuel my body efficiently. The key point would be not to increase calorie intact per se, but increase the proportion of carbohydrate intake. You don’t want to be carrying around extra weight for 21 or 42km, believe me.

My main sources of energy are from bread, pasta and fruits. When you are eating for fuel, it can get a bit boring and monotonous. So I do try to make an effort to make more interesting breads and also buy whole wheat, spelt or fresh pasta. Due to my penchant for desserts, I also chose to categorise them as an essential part of my diet ;-)

This muesli and date bread is a perfect breakfast bread or a high energy snack. It has a nice thick crust and chewy bite.

Muesli and Date Bread

1 ¼ cups of water, lukewarm

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp honey

1 2/3 cups unbleached white flour

1 cups wholemeal flour

¾ rye flour

1 ½ cups fruit & nut muesli, unsweetened and untoasted

3 tbsp skim milk power

1 ½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp easy blend (rapid-rise) dried yeast

½ cup dried dates, chopped

(note: the amount of water may vary depending on the type of muesli used. Add another 1 tbs of water is the dough is too firm)


Pour water, oil and honey into the bread pan. Sprinkle over the flours, covering the water. Add the muesli and milk powder. Add salt in a corner or the pan.


Make a small indent in the centre of the flour, add the yeast. Set to the appropriate setting for the type of bread maker you have. I set mine to the “wholemeal cycle”, “medium colour” and “1.5lb size”.


During the second kneading phrase, my bread maker beebs very loudly & that is when I place the dates in the dough and let the bread maker do the rest of it's job.

Serve it with:

- Slightly toast it and serve it with butter

- Top it with cottage or cream cheese

- This bread freezes well. Slice it up before you wrap it firmly with cling wrap. This way, you can take out just a slice or two from the freezer rather than defrosting the whole loaf.


Set the bread maker to the “dough setting”. When shaping the dough, create a plump round. Using a sharp knife, make three cuts on the top about ½ inch deep to divide the bread into six sections. Bake in a 180 degrees C (fan-forced0 oven for 30-35 minutes.

Source: Adapted from The Complete Book of Bread and Bread machines by C. Ingram & J. Shapter.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

The Sexiest Chocolate on Earth

Truffles. Would you agree? There is something naughty and seductive about chocolate truffles. Is it because of how smooth it melts in your mouth, or the indulgent ingredients that it is associated with? Have you noticed that whenever someone presents a bowl of chocolate truffles, women always let out a gleeful “wow”?

The first time that I was given “home made” truffles, it was from my friend PY, who was at the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Sydney [PY – thanks again for letting me finish (eating) your homework]. Then, last month my friend Em, who gives me samples of her baking, made some too. So, when I was thinking of making something to cheer up a friend I was visiting, truffles came to mind. I became quite confused by the many different recipes, so I decided to use a tried & tested recipe by Eva, a dear friend and fellow food blogger. It was surprisingly easy to make. I think a shiny chocolate coating would have made it more sexy ;-)

Truffles Three Ways
(I’ve always wanted to say that)

Dark Chocolate Truffles
coated with Cacao, icing sugar and crushed pistachios

Note: I omitted the chilli flakes, and used Cointreau in place of Kirsh
Tip: As a gift, I placed the truffles in a small jar.

"Do I look sexy?"
(Sorry about the quality of the photos - it's hard to take a good ones due to the reflection from the glass. Hopefully Eva, who is also my photography "coach" will be able to help me.)

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Persimmons – The Mango of Autumn

The origins of persimmons go back to ancient China. It is now very popular in Japan, parts of South East Asia, Israel, USA and also Australia. I noticed persimmons were on sale at the fruit market early last month, but was too distracted by mandarins, which were also in season. Yesterday, I finally bought some persimmons because this month will probably be my last chance since the season for persimmons is coming to an end in Australia.

Apparently, there are hundreds of different species worldwide, but the most commonly found varieties are the Fuyu a type originating in Asia, the Hachiya from the U.S., and the Sharon fruit developed in Israel. The Fuyu is a non-astringent variety that looks like a squashed tomato, is smaller, sweeter, and can be eaten when firm. The Hachiya is an astringent variety which is acorn-shaped and has to be very soft and ripe before eating (other wise it will be very tart & bitter). My favourite variety is the Sharon fruit because it combines the best attributes of the Fuyu and Hachiya. It is widely available in Singapore, but I haven’t seen it in Sydney. I tend to buy the Fuyu varieties here because they can be eaten like apples. In fact, persimmons have more fiber, minerals, polyphenols (antioxidants) and vitamin A than apples. So, the person who coined the saying about an apple a day keeping the doctor away probably never had a persimmon.

I’ve had raw and dried persimmons but I’ve never cooked with persimmons before. As Mothers’ Day approaches, I thought I should get more creative because I wanted to dedicate this entry to my mother who loves this fruit very much. She was also the one who got me hooked on it. The firmer Fuyu type is great with salads, cheeses and baked as a tart, while the mushy, ripe Hachiya type is great blended into a pulp and used for smoothes, in cake/muffin batters and as a pie filling. I decided to make a simple pyllo pastry tart because I did not want the persimmon flavour to be masked by too many overpowering ingredients.

Mom, this is for you!

Persimmon Tart

(Serves 2)

1 Fuyu persimmon

4 sheets of pyllo pastry, at room temperature

Cinnamon sugar (or mix 1 tbsp of cinnamon with 2 tbsp of sugar)

A dash of lemon juice

About 1 tbsp salt-reduced butter, melted (use more if you prefer a richer, buttery pastry)

1 tsp of caster sugar


Pre-heat oven at 160 degrees C (fan forced)


Slice the persimmons finely. Toss it in some cinnamon sugar and a dash of lemon juice. Set aside.


Slice usinga sharp knife or cut each pyllo sheet to make four panels. Place all of the pyllo one sheet on top of the other and butter each layer sparingly. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top of every fourth layer. Brush the top most layer with butter.


Arrange the persimmon slices in an overlapping manner. Brush with the persimmon with the remaining butter and sprinkle caster sugar over the whole tart.


Bake for 20 minutes or till the pyllo pastry has turned golden brown.


Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla bean ice-cream or custard.


- If you want to caramelise the persimmons, bake for 15 minutes and turn the tart (persimmons facing down) and cook for another 5 minutes. Or after taking the tart out of the oven, sprinkle more caster sugar on the persimmon and caramelise it lightly with a blowtorch.

- The original recipe used puff pastry.


Food Blogging Event:

Thanks to Janet's recent post, I was remined of the upcoming deadline for a food blogging event. Since I've never cooked with persimmons before, I've decided to submit this for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge # 16 - Something New. My inspiration to cook with persimmons was promted by Steve Manfredi's article (Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Living, April 2007). There are very few recipes using persimmons and the one I've adapted comes from pastry chef Jess Ong’s (The Summit Restaurant, Sydney) spiced persimmon tart recipe.


Sunday, 6 May 2007

Missing my Little Kitchen Helper.

After moving to Sydney, there are many things that I miss about cooking and baking. Although Quikong has an admirable array of cooking utensils & cook books, it is no where near my mother’s huge collection of kitchen gadgets, cook books and her terrific oven. But what I miss most is my little kitchen helper – it’s not some fancy, expensive gadget but my little 8 year old nephew, H.

H has been interested in what goes on in the kitchen since he is able to stand up by himself. Maybe it’s because my sis, mom and I spend so much time in there! It’s our family “meeting” room. H is a lot of fun to bake with. He is interested in the whole process, such as why certain ingredients are used, why we have to do certain techniques, how long something has to stay in the oven. He has helped me in a few different ways such as reading the recipe out, help me rub in butter (he does a pretty decent job!) and pouring ingredients into the batter. He is less interested in eating it though – unless it’s vanilla cupcakes or something chocolaty.

After cup cake decorating, I think bread making is what H enjoys making most because the process is more hands on, especially with breads like Chelsea buns, which happens to be my family’s perennial favourite bread. I make it several times when I visit them and I usually time the process so that the buns will be ready for afternoon tea. They are so addictive, especially when they are fresh out of the oven.The buns basically don’t last for more than a day. You've been warned!

Chelsea Buns

1 cup milk, lukewarm

1 large egg, room temperature

500g unbleached white bread flour#

½ tsp salt

75 g caster sugar

50g butter, softened

1 tsp easy-blend (rapid-rise) dried yeast



25g butter, melted

150-200g of dried fruits (I usually use sultanas or raisins)*

25g soft light brown sugar, mixed with

1 tsp cinnamon or mixed (apple pie) spice



50g caster sugar or icing sugar

60ml water

(optional: 1 tsp orange blossom water)



# If using regular flour, reduce the amount of milk slightly

* The original recipe recommended: 115g sultanas, 25g mixed, chopped (candied) peel & 25g currants.



Pour the milk into the bread machine pan. Add the egg.


Sprinkle over the flour, ensuring that it completely covers the liquid. Add the salt, sugar and butter in three separate corners of the pan. Make a small indent in the centre of the flour (but not down as far as the liquid) and add the yeast.


Set the bread machine to the basic dough setting. Press start.


Lightly grease a 9-inch square or round cake tin. When the dough cycle has finished and dough has doubled in bulk, remove the dough from the machine and place it on a lightly floured surface.


Knock the dough back (punch it down) gently, then roll it out to form a square that is about 12 inches.


Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle it with the dried fruits and brown sugar/spice mix. Make sure to leave a ½ inch border along one edge.


Starting at a covered edge, roll the dough up, Swiss (jelly) roll fashion. Press the edges together to seal. Cut the roll into 12 slices and then place these cut side up in the prepared tin.


Cover with an oiled clear film (plastic warp). Leave to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, or until the dough slices have doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degress C (fan forced).


Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes, or till they have risen well and are evenly golden all over. Be careful not to over bake because you want it still very luscious and slightly moist.


While waiting for the buns to cool slightly, prepare the glaze. Mix the caster/icing sugar with water in a small pan. Heat, stirring occasionally, untl the sugar has dissold. Then boil the mixture rapidly for 1-2 minutes without stiring til syrupy.


Stir in orange blossom water if you are using it. Brush the mixture over the warm buns. Serve slightly warm.
Source: Adapted from The Complete Book of Bread and Bread machines by C. Ingram & J. Shapter.


Taster Notes by L :