Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Apple Almond Cake

This turned out yummy. It turned out more like a shortbread - a bit dryer and denser than a typical cake. It uses basic ingredients, plus ricotta.
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c ricotta
  • 2 apples
  • cinnamon
  1. Combine first 4 dry ingredients in bowl.
  2. Mash butter into smooth paste. Add sugar and mix well. Add extract and one egg at a time.
  3. Add ricotta and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add dry ingredients and mix.
  5. Layer half in greased 8" round pan. Top with apple slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  6. Spread remaining batter on top.
  7. Bake at 180C/350F for 60 minutes or until done.
  • use vanilla extract instead of almond
  • sprinkle slivered or chopped almonds on top

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tofu Stir Fry with Black Bean Sauce

  • oil, for frying
  • 2-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped/sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, broken into small pieces
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 squares baked tofu (doufu gan), cubed
  • spicy black bean sauce
  • soy sauce
  • optional: sesame seeds
  1. Fry the garlic and onions until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add vegetables and cook until tender. Add water if too dry.
  3. Stir black bean sauce with tofu. Add to pan and heat through. Sprinkle with soy sauce.
  4. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • add your favorite vegetables (red pepper, bamboo shoots, lotus root, etc)
  • add more water and thickener to make a sauce
  • add more spices: black pepper, ginger

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pasta with Pumpkin, Spinach and Pine Nuts

I got this ages ago from the Message Cookbook but never had a chance to make it until now. It was submitted by Libby Renton. "The pumpkin should remain in cubes, but if the variety you have is soft, it may end up in a mush."
  • 1 small pumpkin (about 700 g), diced into 1.5 cm cubes
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 50 g pine nuts, toasted
  • cream (optional) - just a gloop
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 200 g pasta eg. farfalle, penne, spirals
  • freshly grated Parmesan
  1. Place the pumpkin on a flat baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for about 20 min, or until cooked and starting to turn brown at the edges.
  2. When pumpkin is cooked, wilt the spinach in a pan, and add the pumpkin and the oily juices.
  3. Add the cream if using.
  4. Carefully stir through cooked pasta.
  5. Add some pepper, nutmeg and Parmesan, and serve.


Add sliced onion, sliced mushrooms, and/or chopped pancetta at the start.


I used 3 glops of ricotta instead of cream, and sprinkled emmentel instead of Parmesan.

Cut up the pumpkin and roasted with the skin on. Peeled off the skin after. Used Chinese long-shu-cai, parmesan and left out the pine nuts and cream. Delicious! Next time more nutmeg.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pork Noodle Soup

Nothing beats one pot cooking. I got the Chinese greens from the garden and used the free stock and noodles from P. Delicious!
  • 2-3 servings of wide noodles (or your favorite kind)
  • water
  • bouillon cube (or stock)
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • 1 T oyster sauce
  • fresh Chinese greens
  • 3 large mushrooms, sliced
  • slices of pork (cha sao, smoked ham, peppered ham)
  1. Cook noodles until almost done. Remove to bowls.
  2. Add water to pan. Add bouillon cube and stir to dissolve. Add soy sauce (more or less to taste) and oyster sauce.
  3. Add noodles, mushrooms and stems of leafy greens. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes.
  4. Add leafy part of greens. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add pork.
  6. Distribute into eating bowls.
  • Use dried Chinese mushrooms for more flavor.
  • Add other vegetables: carrots, bok choy, etc
  • Use another type of protein: beef, fish balls, tofu
  • Pour in soup to taste.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cream Cheese Filled Carrot Muffins

I used to have a great recipe for carrot cake - low in sugar, low in fat (1/4 c oil), great in taste. I remember it had maple syrup, pineapple, raisins, carrots and applesauce. But I haven't been able to find it again. So today I made a batch of carrot muffins using a similar recipe. It was a disaster. This is the first time I've ever put fresh baked muffins straight into the garbage bin.

So onto the second recipe...which came out decent. Though I think it still needs some improving.

  • 2 c flour
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1.5 t baking powder
  • 1.5 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 c shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 1.5 t vanilla extract
  • 2 c grated carrot
  • 1 grated apple
  • optional: 1/2 c nuts, 1/2 c raisins
  • 4 oz cream cheese (half package of Philadelphia), softened
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, mix the first 6 dry ingredients thoroughly. Stir in the coconut.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, oil, and vanilla together.
  3. Gently stir the wet ingredients (including apple and carrots) and optional ingredients into the flour mixture. Do not overmix!
  4. In a separate bowl, mix filling ingredients.
  5. Preheat oven to 200C. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
  6. Fill cups 1/3 full of batter. Add dollop of filling. Cover with batter.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until done.
  8. Makes 18 muffins.
  • The filling is a variation, which can easily be left out to make regular muffins.
  • Add other spices like nutmeg, ginger, cloves, etc.
  • Add jam with or to the filling.
  • Most muffin recipes call for 180C/350F, but I find that my mini oven is a little weak and things do better at a higher temperature and higher rack. If you have a traditional oven, try 180C and adjust from there.
I'd like to see the oil content further reduced...perhaps by adding applesauce or more grated apple. I like a chunky muffin, so maybe next time cubing the apple instead of grating. Also less sugar, perhaps replaced with honey/maple syrup or the natural sugars in a pineapple addition. Next time I'd like to add raisins and nuts. Ran out so couldn't this time.

Morning Glory Muffins
This is basically the Carrot Muffin recipe all over again but with some slight changes.

Instead of 3/4 c oil, I used 1/2 cup of melted butter and 1/4 c apple-pearsauce.
I chopped 1/2 the apple, and grated the rest.
I added 1/2 c raisins.
I used 1 c of sugar.
I added nutmeg and ginger.
Baked at 190C for 30 minutes.

This was a big improvement. Next time? Perhaps more apple chunks, less sugar, and add walnuts or maybe pine nuts or almonds. Throw a banana in there, too?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Swirl Breads

No pesto in the house, so I used the Pesto Bread dough recipe, split in two and filled each with something different.

Sweet Bread
1 chopped apple
brown sugar
butter (optional)

Savory Bread
chutney powder
black pepper

  1. Follow the directions to make Pesto Bread dough. Split into 2 pieces.
  2. Roll the dough thin, into a rectangle. Spread the filling on. Roll the dough. Place in greased pan and let rise for 40 minutes.
  3. Slit the top and drizzle oil on. Sprinkle with salt (savory).
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 200C.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Apple Yogurt Muffins

  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • sprinkling of nutmeg
  • 1 c yogurt
  • 1/4 c oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 med apple, peeled, chopped (3/4 - 1 c)
  • 1/3 c raisins
  1. Grease a 12-muffin tin.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix yogurt, oil, egg and milk. Add to flour mixture mixture and stir until dry ingredients are moistened.
  4. Gently stir in apple and raisins.
  5. Spoon into muffin tins.
  6. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  7. Bake at 200C for 23-25 minute, until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.
  • I used a small container of AB yogurt from 7-11 (the one available for free for this month's promotion) - plain with no sugar added.
  • I think you could put more apple, but the amount of raisins is just right.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Apple Chunk Bread

Wow, a whole month of no new recipes - how did that happen? Possibly because I've been busy baking banana breads the whole time (my first traded treats since starting this blog - the recipient helped by taking my dog for a run). The other reason being that the weather has been consistently in the 30-34 range and thus much too hot to even think of baking. This past weekend we had nothing but rain so having cooled off quite a bit it only got to the low 20s today. It was clearly a sign to start using the oven again. So I whipped this little treat up.

Dough Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 t yeast
  • 3 c bread flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1.5 t salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 c oil
  • 1 c milk
  • 1-2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • cinnamon
  • brown sugar
  • butter, melted - optional
  1. Add dough ingredients to bread machine and run on the Dough cycle. (about 1h30)
  2. On floured surface, roll dough into rectangle.
  3. Mix apple pieces with cinnamon.
  4. If using butter, spread on dough. (I didn't use it.)
  5. Sprinkle with brown sugar and apple mixture.
  6. Roll. Tuck ends and place in 9x5x3 bread pan.
  7. Let rise until 1.5-2x, about 1 hour.
  8. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes.
  9. Slice and enjoy!
  • Make the rectangle very long, and when rolled cut into 9 pieces and bake in a 9x9 baking dish as cinnamon-apple-rolls.
  • Add nuts.
  • Put the whole thing back in the bread machine to bake.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cream Puffs

Custard Filling
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 5 T all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 c milk
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 4 eggs
Chocolate Topping
  • 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
For the custard
You can make this a day ahead to chill in the refrigerator.
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, flour and a pinch of salt.
  2. Stir in milk, a little at a time, until smooth.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 60 seconds, then pour a small amount of hot liquid into the 2 egg yolks, and stir.
  4. Return now heated egg yolks to saucepan and stir, over heat, until mixture starts to bubble again.
  5. Remove from heat, add vanilla. Cover and chill in refrigerator.
How do you get the space in the center? The dough rises by itself! At a high temperature, the pastry rises, and then the rest of the time is drying it out so it holds its shape. Easy peasy! The puffs freeze well - just let cool after baking and stick in an airtight container. Reheat in oven when ready to use.

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C)
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and water and bring to a boil.
  3. Sift together 1 cup flour and a pinch of salt and pour all at once into boiling mixture.
  4. Stir vigorously until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat, let sit 5 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition.
  6. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheet, or pipe into desired shape.
  7. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce heat to 400F/200C and bake 20 minutes more, or until golden.
  8. Poke a hole in each to let out the steam while cooling. Cool completely.
Chocolate Topping
This step is optional, but seriously, who wouldn't want their puff with chocolate?

  1. Melt chocolate chips in microwave or slowly over low heat.
Cream Puff Assembly
  1. Use a chopstick to poke a hole in the pastry.
  2. Pipe the custard in. You can use a ziplock bag and cut off a tiny bit of the corner.
  3. Optionally, you can cut off the top of the pastry, use a spoon to fill it with custard and replace the top.
  4. Cover with melted chocolate.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
9/27/08 - I was in a terrible rush and was already 10 minutes late when I started putting the chocolate frosting on - hence them not looking so neat. Oh well, it's the taste that counts.
4/12/10 - Ran out of all purpose flour so made these with bread flour. Turned out ok. Puffs stuck to pan so best to let cool before removing. Also only had salted butter, so puffs tasted extra salty.
4/13/10 - Reheated frozen puffs in oven.
2/8/15 - A glossy chocolate glaze can be made by combining with cream (which I prefer to avoid) or with a butter/sugar/water combo (which is more time consuming). I'm fine with the rustic look of just melted chips for a quick application. This time used a scale to measure how much filling each one was getting. Mostly about 30 g but one accidentally got stuffed with 100 g! Made 15 puffs.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mango Carrot Bread

My own invention - this turned out very moist, and a little too sweet for my taste. Perhaps less sugar next time.
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t soda
  • 1/2 t powder
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • dashes of nutmeg, allspice, etc
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 large carrot, grated (~3/4 c)
  • 1/2 large mango, mashed (~1 c)
  • 1/2 c raisins or chopped nuts
  1. Mix dry ingredients and spices together in large bowl.
  2. Mix eggs, oil and sugar in separate bowl. Add carrot and mango.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until flour is dissolved.
  4. Stir in raisins and/or nuts.
  5. Bake at 175C/350F for about 80 minutes.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pancakey Crepes/Crepey Pancakes

This is an easy recipe as you use the blender for mixing and pouring. It's somewhere between a pancake and a crepe. If you want it more crepe like, add another 1/2 cup of milk.
  • Fresh cut mango filling2 c milk
  • 1/4 c sugar (or less)
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t vegetable oil
  • butter (for pan)
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into greased heated pan (6-8") on medium (medium-low).
  3. Flip and cook until lightly browned.
  4. Serve with frozen berries, fresh cut fruit, or eat plain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


It's too hot to bake - so not much going on here in August. However, one thing that's easy to do is blend up a smoothie. Just throw in your favorite ingredients - and voila! A refreshing treat.

Possible Ingredients
  • frozen fruit (bananas, berries, passonfruit, etc)
  • fresh fruit (pineapple, mango, etc)
  • liquid
    • yogurt
    • milk
    • juice
      • apple
      • grape
      • orange (this will make it bitter)
    • ice cream, sorbet
  • ice
  1. Chop fruit into smaller pieces, as necessary for your blender.
  2. Add additional ingredients and blend until smooth (or slightly chunky if you prefer).
  3. Drink or for a thick smoothie, eat with a spoon!
  • My favorite simplest combinations are
    • frozen banana and milk
    • mango and ice
  • My favorites are
    • mixed berries and banana
    • banana, pineapple, coconut milk (add rum to make pina coladas, or leave it out to keep it virgin)
  • Add almonds for a bit of a crunch and extra protein. Or try pumpkin seeds or shredded coconut.
  • Add fresh spinach for a bit of green.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Breakfast Pancakes

I like making pancakes but as for eating them - well, they're sometimes too filling and I feel like it takes the place of breakfast and lunch. So it's not often I do. However, today was a special day and so I woke up early to get these started.

I used a simple recipe found online (from Smitten Kitchen, which was from the NY Times). I think you can do just about anything for the base, and adjust to your taste (ex more or less milk for thickness) but I always like a pancake with fresh fruit instead of syrup.

I usually mash bananas into the mixture (which can replace the normally added sugar completely) but this time I took the recipes advice and tried adding slices of frozen banana to the pancake after pouring - and I have to say this was MUCH better! The banana flavor was stronger. I also tried some with frozen blueberries, but this was not nearly as good. I prefer fresh picked blueberries rather than the slightly sour frozen kind.

Everyday Pancakes ***
2 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 T sugar, optional
2 eggs
2 C milk (more or less)
2 T melted and cooled butter (optional), plus unmelted butter for cooking, or use neutral oil.
1. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Beat eggs into 1 1/2 c milk, then stir in 2 T melted cooled butter, if using it. Gently stir this mixture into dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten flour; don’t worry about a few lumps. If batter seems thick, add a little more milk.
2. Grease the pan. When butter foam subsides or oil shimmers, ladle batter onto griddle or skillet, making pancakes of any size you like. Adjust heat as necessary; usually, first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. Flip pancakes after bubbles rise to surface and bottoms brown, after 2 to 4 minutes.
3. Cook until second side is lightly browned. Serve, or hold on an ovenproof plate in a 200-degree oven for up to 15 minutes.
  • Use fresh or frozen (not defrosted) blueberries. Drop berries after pouring batter.
  • Use fresh or frozen bananas. Slice them and press into surface of poured pancake. Cook slower to prevent burning. Optionally, mash the whole banana and mix with ingredients.
  • Use whole wheat flour.
  • Add vanilla or almond extract.
  • 6/7/09 Made a batch with about 1 3/4 milk plus a mashed banana. Placed slice bananas or sliced strawberries on top. Made enough to make 4 large breakfasts.

Yogurt Pancakes *****

These ones come out pretty fluffy. First time was with coconut and raspberries, which I thought was ***** but MM didn't like the coconut. Next time was with a mixed berry package (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), an extra egg white leftover from making cream puffs and no coconut, which I thought was just ****. 
  • 2 1/4 c flour
  • 2 T sugar (or use mashed banana instead)
  • 1 1/4 t powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • optional: shredded coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • 3/4 c yogurt
  • 1 T canola oil
  • generous amount of frozen raspberries or other favorite frozen fruit
  • butter or coconut oil for greasing pan
  1. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.
  2. Beat eggs. Combine with milk, yogurt, and oil.
  3. Add wet ingredients into dry, and stir just until mixed.
  4. Grease cast iron pan and heat over medium heat. No need to grease after first time.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Frozen Passionfruit

The heat in August is tormenting - the last thing I want to do is bake. It doesn't get simpler than this for a cool and refreshing snack.
  • passionfruit
  1. Place in freezer and wait several hours or days.
  2. Cut in half
  3. Eat with spoon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Almond Jello

  • 2 T gelatin
  • 2/3 c cold water
  • 1 1/3 c boiling water
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 1/3 c milk
  • 2 t almond extract
  1. Place gelatin in 8x8 dish. Pour cold water in and let gelatin soften (about 5 min).
  2. Add sugar and boiling water. Stir constantly until gelatin and sugar are dissolved.
  3. Add cold milk and almond extract. Stir.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  • Coconut Jello - use coconut milk
  • Use less liquid for a firmer jello, dice up into cubes and serve with fresh fruit
  • Use scalded milk in place of boiling water

Monday, July 28, 2008

Golden Egg Bread

I used the 2 lb/medium crust setting and it worked out wonderfully. I had to add a little more flour (due to the humid summer environment here). Try using this bread as is, for french toast, or sandwiches.

4/27/09 Made this again today. Still as good as before. Should be making it more often it's so simple and tasty.
  • 3/4 c water
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 t salt
  • 3.5 c bread flour
  • 2 1/4 t active dry yeast
  1. In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer.
  2. Select basic bread setting. Choose medium crust and 2 lb loaf size.
  3. Check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 T of water or flour if needed.
  4. Remove from pan (after about 3.5 hours) to cool.
6/2/15 Using the new bread machine (a Sunbeam) to make this. Hoping it turns out as good in Toronto as it did in Taipei. Used olive oil.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Caramelized Onion Focaccia

This is just the size for my mini-oven. It came out delicious and didn't need the extra salt I had added just before popping it in the oven. Pictures aren't as good as how it tasted!

Dough Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 T olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 c bread flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1.5 t yeast
Topping Ingredients
  • 3 T margarine or butter
  • 1 med onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 T grated parmesan cheese
  1. Place dough ingredients in breach machine according to order recommended by manufacturer.
  2. Run the dough cycle (1h20).
  3. Grease a cookie sheet. Pat the dough into a 10x12 rectangular shape or a 12-inch circle. Cover and let rise in a warm place 30-60 minutes or until almost doubled. Prepare the Onion Topping.
  4. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Cook onions and garlic in butter 15-20 min, stirring occasionally, until onions are brown and caramelized. Remove from heat.
  5. Heat oven to 400°F/200°C. Make deep depressions in dough at 1-inch intervals with your finger. Spread onion topping over dough. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake 15-25 min until edge is golden brown.
  6. Remove from sheet to cool. Serve warm.
  • Topping choices: course salt, fresh ground pepper, fresh minced garlic, pesto, fresh sage, potatoes and rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, etc
  • Pat the dough into the greased pan. Push thinly sliced onions into the dough. Cover with damp cloth and let rise 1 hour. Make depressions 1" apart and fill with chopped fresh rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake. Jan 2009 - yummy.
1/16/10 Made to eat with carrot and potato soup - excellent combination!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mango Bread

I started making banana bread, but realized I didn't have any bananas to use. I merged the banana recipe with several mango ones I found online. This bread turned out incredibly moist. However, I wasn't that happy with the mango flavor - it didn't seem to come out. Perhaps next time increase to two cups of mango?
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 c butter, softened-melted
  • 1.5 c mango
  • 2 eggs
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Add the softened butter, mashed mango and eggs.
  3. Pour into 9x5 loaf pan. Let sit 20 minutes.
  4. Bake at 180C/350F for 50-60 min.
- use a mango variety that isn't stringy/fibery.

- try this recipe next time: