Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

What do you know with a overly ripe banana and a pack of chocolate chips which will expire in 3 weeks? So, I googled "banana chocolate chips" and the first recipe that came up was Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin.

So I searched and look around for more recipes, mostly look about the same and true to my nature, I would change a bit here and there just to fit to what I have available in my kitchen. It could end up in disaster but I go with my gut and pray for the best. I should stop doing a bit of dish and dash when it comes to baking but I am a chinese girl who loves Chinese cooking. Thus I am too used to "dishing" and "dashing" on ingredients. A little less sugar, a little bit more choc chips....leaving it to all my gut feel and yup praying that it will work.

No worries, it did.

Simple ingredients :

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or more :)

Simple steps :

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Mix mashed bananas, egg, melted butter and milk in another bowl.

2. Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients just until blended. Do not mix too hard or overmix.

3. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Put the batter into the cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Pre heat oven to 350°F and bake the muffins for about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to rack to cool.

Well, with a little gut feel, a little dish and dash, it turned out well. This time :) Phew!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hakka Mee & Mee Hoon Sotong - My 2 favourite food from Seremban

I am a small time girl from Seremban, a town an hour away from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Seremban is a very simple town, no frills, not much to do, more or less everyone leads a simple and comfortable life.

While I was growing up, eating out was considered a luxury. Money was tight and we ate at home most of the time. So, I am the least familiar with what are popular food in Seremban.

I came to KL to stay when I started working. I began to discover more of Seremban's food specialties in my bi-weekly weekend visits back home. While KL and PJ boast of variety and excellent food but there are 2 Seremban favourites that I am not able to find readily available in KL or PJ. Only in Seremban, where I can get the best authentic Hakka Mee and Meehoon Sotong.

Hakka Mee
Home-made flat noodles comes with minced pork in clear sauce. This dish indeed looks easy to cook. However there is just a specialty in Seremban's Hakka Mee which is difficult to describe. The Seremban Hakka Mee is clear, no dark soy sauce whatsoever. The "special" broth is clear and is mixed in just a tiny bit for the special taste. So this is considered a dry clear noodles.

I always wondered how can such a simple dish taste so good and I could never find something close to the taste in KL or PJ. The secret "special" recipe as I heard from the grapevine is "pork lard". Haha! Not surprising cos all Chinese food taste great because of pork lard. I don't know what they put in the pork lard but it sure make this simple dish yummylicious.

There are 2 stalls in Seremban most popular for the Hakka Mee. Both are named Tow Kee - obviously connected but the gossip is that both stalls (they are related) don't see eye to eye. One shop is located at the Wet Market (Pasar Besar Seremban) and the other is located opposite the Yellow Bus Stand - oh yeah, long ago the most popular buses in Seremban were all yellow in colour and thus the name Yellow Bus Stand.

Some say the shop opposite the Yellow Bus Stand is better, I lean to agree BUT and there is a big BUT, you have to put up with the fact that the shop is always closed and when they choose to open, you have to wait at least 30 mins or more for your food. The bigger downside is that the people in the shop (especially the lady boss!) won't even bother to talk to you or even look at you when they are busy. By the way, they are always busy. So if you can stand the worst kind of treatment from the shop owners, ignore them for the sake of good food, go ahead and try this shop. Many people still do.

Check out this YouTube video of how the stall actually make the noodles and yeah the scary lady in the video is the owner.

Address - Tow Kee, No. 94 Jalan Kapitan Tam Yeong, Seremban Phone: +60 6 761 6638.

Nowadays, I don't even bother to check if they are open cos I will just swing by the wet market and most often if I am early eg before 12 noon, I can get to eat the Tow Kee Hakka Mee @ Pasar Besar Seremban. Since it is located at the wet market, bear in mind the conditions may not look good but what the heck, for good food, I don't see the surroundings! Best of all, I don't have to wait for 30 minutes and I don't have to see a black face when ordering.

Address : Tow Kee Pasar Besar Seremban Tow Kee Hakka Mee (Stall 810).
They have a Facebook Fan Page. Click HERE to view.

For a discussion which stall is better, click here for the Facebook Discussion.

Mee Hoon Sotong (Cuttlefish Vermicelli)
This is basically mee hoon (vermicelli) deep fried, then topped with sotong (cuttlefish), braised pork and vegetables and covered with a thick starchy brown sauce. Some may say it is a bit like (wat tan hor) but the sauce is slightly different. The fragrance of the fried meehoon and the combination of the sauce makes this a sure hit with me everytime I am in Seremban!!

In my opinion the best store is located at the wet market, as you walk up the staircase, look straight ahead and you will find Mee Hoon Sotong sign board staring back at you.

Funny story - for years, I could not eat at the store as they are always closed. I assumed that they have closed down their business. So I would have to eat something else or visit another mee hoon sotong shop at the back of the wet market. One day (and this is many years assuming they were closed for good) I walked up the wet market staircase and I could not believe it, they were opened and the small lady who served me years ago was nicely doing her work.

Address: Stall 787, Pasar Besar Seremban, Jalan Pasar, Seremban, Malaysia

I excitedly went up to her and said "Hello, where have you been? Why were you closed for so many years????" This lady looked at me with an odd expression on her face and she said "Huh? I open everyday!" I was taken aback "But for many years, every time I come, you are closed".
She replied "Really? I don't know about you but I open everyday and close about 9.30am every morning"

That was when I realise, all these years, I arrive to the wet market after 10am and that is why they were closed. Folks...Lesson learned : In small towns in Malaysia, if you want good food, be there early! They open and close in the morning!

Alternatively, if you are late like me....there is an another shop, at the same wet market, at the end of the left side (2nd last stall), there is another couple who sells Mee Hoon Sotong too till about 1 - 2pm.

Address: Stall 753, Pasar Besar Seremban, Jalan Pasar, Seremban, Malaysia.

Since 3 years ago, my parents moved down to PJ to live with me. So my trips to Seremban reduced significantly. The good thing is that I found a restaurant that serves my 2 Seremban favourites and it is aptly named Famous Seremban Favourites Restaurant.

Oh well, the taste is close but somehow not the same. Maybe it is because it is not made in Seremban.

Famous Seremban Favourites Restaurant
Address : No. 80-1 (Ground Floor)
Jalan PJU 1/3, Sunway Mas Commercial Centre
47301 Petaling Jaya
Tel No: 017 - 279 8582

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fried Pork Balls in Mushroom Broth

This is a very simple dish and I remember my grandma and now my mom would always make it during Chinese New Year (CNY). Hmmm I wonder why? Now that I think about it, it is not a very Chinese New Year dish or izzit?

I guess it is because my grandma would always make fried minced pork balls for the kids. It is a definitely hit with the grand kids and not to mention to keep them quiet at the dinner table. During CNY, all the family would gather at my grandma's place and since the main table is only enough for the adults, the grand kids (me included) will always be at the kids table. I was the oldest sibling besides my brother and in my rebellion teenage years, I always wished I could get out of the kids table. However, the saving grace is that my grandma would bring a big plate of fried minced pork balls just for the "kids". Yums!

For the adults, she would cooked fried pork balls with mushroom broth. I guess that's the reason why this became a traditional CNY dish in our family. It's real simple to make especially when you can make more of the pork balls and keep it in the freezer for use when required.

Simple ingredients :

Pork Balls
1 lb of minced pork
1 big onion or 3-4 shallots. (diced fine)
Some diced water chestnut (as desired)
1 TSP of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper, 1 TSP of soy sauce, 1 TSP of rice wine
2 TSP Corn starch to bind the meat and ingredients together

Other ingredients
8 pcs of big Chinese mushroom - (Soak in water till tender) - Cut half or quarters depending on mushroom size.
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 TSP of soy sauce
1 TSP of oyster sauce
1 cup of water
Salt and sugar to taste
Corn Starch to thicken the broth
Spring onion as garnishing.

Simple Steps :

1. Pork Balls
Combine all ingredient and mix well. Take a spoonful onto wet palm annd roll into a ball. Put on dry plate and ensure each ball don't stick to another. When rolling the pork balls, sprinkle some water on palms always to avoid meat from sticking to hand.

Heat up oil and fry the pork balls till golden brown. Set aside.

2. In a wok with 2 TSP of oil, saute the chopped garlic till fragrant and then put in the mushroom. Please make sure that you have rinse and squeeze water from the mushrooms.

3. Stir fry the mushroom for 5 mins and then add water. Put in the fried pork balls. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

4. Let it boil in medium fire for 10 mins. If it is too watery, you can add some corn starch mix to thicken the broth.

5. This dish is ready to served.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Buttered Prawns Recipe

Growing up, my family is not into seafood like prawns, crabs etc. Likely due to the fact that literally everyone in my family has high cholesterol. So cooking seafood with the exception of fish are rare at home. Usually we order seafood only when we eat out.

I love buttered prawns. I usually order the dry buttered egg prawns while eating out and I would be enjoying every strand of the buttered egg strands and try to minimize taking the prawns. Yummy!

I tried cooking that at home once but I realized it just required too much oil and too much work. Net I failed.

So the next alternative is to make buttered prawns with gravy. Sinful but delicious.

Simple ingredients :
1. 8 - 10 Big Prawns (keep the shells and head intact). You can use tiger prawns.
2. 1/2 Stick of Butter (60gm)
3. 200gm Evaporated milk
4. 3-4 Small chilies (chilli padi)- reduce if you cannot take the spice
5. 5-6 strands Curry leaves
6. 2-3 cloves oof garlic (chopped till fine)
7. 5 tablespoon of oil for frying

Simple steps
1. Heat oil and fry the prawns with some curry leaves till fragrant. Remove and keep aside.

2. Remove oil, put in the butter, fry the curry leaves, garlic for 2-3 mins. Make sure low heat.

3. Pour in the evaporated milk. If you like it thicker, you can add a bit of corn starch mixture. Continue to stir.

4. Once the buttered sauce is boiling, put in the fried prawns and let the sauce fully mix with the prawns.

Ok heart, prepare yourself for a yummylicious meal. Ok, ok, I will go for a jog tomorrow morning! Meanwhile, dig in!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kuih Bahulu Recipe

If not in Dallas, I would not be baking! :) Well the reason I did not bake in Malaysia because I did not have an oven nor a mixer. So to my Malaysian friends who are so surprised that I can actually bake and then start accusing me how come I did not bake for them - that is the real answer. I did not have an OVEN or a MIXER. My dear friends, you are welcomed to my humble home in Dallas USA and I will gladly bake for you :).

Kuih Bahulu is a Malay traditional sponge cake. A favourite among Malaysians of all ages and definitely me included. I remember I always can't resist buying them while I shop at Jaya Jusco as they always sell it straight from the oven. A couple of times, I would stand there just observing on how they actually make it and even boldly asking them what were the ingredients. :)

Kuih Bahulu is soft and slightly dry texture outside and it goes very well with black coffee. Yums!! I like my kuih bahulu slightly dry cos it taste so great when I dip it in my black coffee.

I bought the mould in Malaysia before I came to Dallas. I knew this would be something I will make and I had a feeling it may not be available to sell in Dallas.

I searched the net for recipes and found many and decided to improvise to the one I thought best to make my kuih bahulu.

Simple Ingredients :
1. 3 eggs
2. 3/4 cup sugar
3. 1 1/4 cup flour (sifted)
4. 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
5. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Oil to brush the mould

Simple Steps :
1. Preheat kuih bahulu moulds in the oven for about 10 - 15 minutes. I brush the mould with some cooking oil before putting it into the oven.

2. Next, whisk the eggs and sugar with a hand whisk or a stand mixer until light and fluffy.

3. Sieve in the flour, and baking powder and add just 1/3 into the egg mixture first. Fold in slowly and lightly. Repeat until all the flour is blended into the batter.

4. Grease the moulds and fill with batter until near full. Bake for 10 - 15 mins on preheated oven at 350F.

5. Bake until golden brown, remove from mould with a skewer stick. It should be removed easily. Remember to grease the mould again before putting in batter and repeat until done.

6. Leave it to cool completely before storing. Store in air tight container.

Get the coffee ready!! I am ready to dip in! :) Yums!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Curry Puff Recipe- How to make?

Believe me, when in Malaysia, nobody bothers to make their own curry puffs at home. Well, I sure didn't. Curry Puffs are very popular in Malaysia and Singapore and usually served as snacks anytime of the day.

It is basically curry chicken and potatoes fillings and deep-fried in a pastry shell. The fillings may be similar to Asian Samosa though the outer pastry is different. Curry puffs are easily available in Malay and Indian food stalls and even Ikea Malaysia sells delicious curry puffs for just RM1 per piece. (USD 30cents).

Now that I am in Dallas USA where curry puffs are only available at one restaurant (as I know of), I was naturally excited to put my newly "certified baker" to good use!! Haha, I took a part time course in baking and got a certificate! You can read about it at my last posting.

Everything turned out well, the only part I did not like about curry puffs was that it is deep-fried. I am not sure if I ever ate a baked version, but maybe I will try it next time. Anyone has baked curry puffs before?

Simple ingredients

Part 1 Filling:
1/2 cup of finely diced chicken breast meat
2 large potatoes (boiled and diced)
1 medium red onion (finely chopped)

Curry mix - mix together with 1/2 cup of water to make paste
2 tablespoon of meat or chicken curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (as desired if you want it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of water

2 Hard Boiled Eggs (quartered)

Oil for deep frying.

Part 2 Dough :

Pastry Dough A (Outer)- knead into a dough
250gm All Purpose Flour
60gm Shortening
20gm Sugar
4gm Salt
140gm Water

Pastry Dough B (Inner) - knead into a dough
100gm high Ratio Flour (Cake Flour)
65gm of Shortening (or you can use Vege/Olive Oil)

Simple steps

1. Make the filling first. Heat oil in pan and fry onion till fragrant. Add the curry paste mixture and stir fry till fragrant. make sure fire is low to prevent from burning. Add the chicken, potato sugar, salt and a dash of pepper. Add water and cook for 5 mins till mix is dry and cooked. Leave aside to cool.

2. Divide both doughs into 2 (equal sizes).
With a rolling pin, roll dough A into a flat round shape (thicker in the middle).
Take dough B and put in the middle of dough A. Wrap up the sides and close up dough B completely. With the rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangular shape. From the top, roll the dough into a swiss-like roll. This is to make swirls on the skin of the curry puffs.

With a bread knife, cut up the dough into 10 - 15 pcs. Roll out each piece and fill the middle with chicken curry filling. Fold into two and pleat the joint edges.

Repeat the same process for the second dough.

3. Deep fry at 180'C till light golden brown

And there you have it, homemade curry puffs right out of my kitchen. I am happy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

My 2 months Baking Course @ Malaysian Institute of Baking (MIB)

I have always wanted to learn baking. Yeah, I dabbled in baking a bit here and there from recipe books but I knew that I wanted to do a proper course so I could acquire the right techniques and tips.

While I was in Malaysia last year, I searched around for some good baking schools. There were quite a few. However, either some were just one off classes, or location was too far for me, or recipes that did not interest me, and yeah definitely some were just too expensive.

I found Malaysian Institute of Baking in one of my searches and immediately liked the overall package. They have full time and part time courses. They teach over 60-100 recipes from breads, pastries, cookies to cakes. Best of all it is a hands-on class with a max of 4 students to a table.

With working full time, I could only take up the part time baking course. It is 3 days a week for 8 weeks. Weekdays Tuesday and Thursday from 6.00pm - 9.30pm and on Saturday 2.00pm - 5.30pm. It seemed pretty taxing so I did not find the right time to do it in 2009. However, this year before I came over to US, I realized that there is never the right time, I just gotta commit and do it! Everything fell in place and the 2 months course would end just before I left for USA. Perfect!

I must say that MIB exceeded my expectations. I found the classes very well done, the students were well taken care of and the hands on class really gave each student the right practice on what was required.

This is my snapshot of my Part Time Certificate in Baking Course with MIB.

The teachers - The institute is headed by Mr Don Yong. He is the principal and the main teacher. He is a nice fatherly figure teacher who is really patient and generous with the students. During the practical/hands on session, there is also a "teacher" assigned to each table. These are the Diploma students who have been in MIB for at least a year. They are there to guide us and give us tips as we do our hands on.

The students - the class consist about 30 - 40 students. Each table has only a maximum of 4 students. We get to do one measurements for the ingredients but the making, folding of the pastries are done individually.

The Class - It starts in a classroom setting for briefing before we head down for the practical / hands on session in the kitchen. Each group has a table with utensils and ingredients as required. After we make the day's recipe, we would all go back to classroom again for debrief and lessons or video class while our goodies are baking. After class, we pick up our goodies :)

The Food - MIB is really generous with the part-time students. Due to the time we come in (usually after work for most people), they make sure we don't get hungry so there is usually a tea break with lotsa of food (different choices every time) from breads, cakes, pasta, curry, sandwiches, lasagna, chicken pies coffee, teas etc etc.

Best of all, the recipes that we make, we get to take them home at the end of the day. Be prepared for the next 8 weeks to be eating breads, pastries, cakes, cookies and more for you and family and also to giveaway. If you have a small family, trust me you can't consume all the stuff that you make cos you are going to class every 2 days and the food just keep coming in.

All in all, I had a wonderful experience in MIB. Not only I got to learn great techniques, tons of recipes but met wonderful teachers and made new friends.

Now, armed with my baking certificate (*beam *beam *grin *grin), it's time to put it to real use. Making all the recipes on my own!

MALAYSIAN INSTITUTE OF BAKING (Formerly known as English Hotbreads School of Baking (M) Sdn. Bhd.)

11, Jalan 52/8, PJ New Town
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, 46200 Malaysia

Email :
Contacts :
603-7956 9011 / 7956 9043
603-7954 1557 / 7955 2457
Website :
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