Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mint Chocolate Chip Muffins

The weather in the past month or so in Singapore has been hot! hot! hot! thanks to the sweltering and unforgiving heat of the very real global warming. Despite the weather, I went to the supermarket TWICE to get some baking ingredients. The first time was planned, the second time was not. Well, that's because in the afternoon, I decided to bake a savory couscous muffin which I have longed to try for the longest months. The baking bug was getting all excited and I had planned to have these muffins at tea time with a cup of my favorite blackcurrant tea, while enjoying my favorite Ellen Degeneres show on tv. Anyway, that didn't happen. The muffins turned out a HUGE disappointment, no thanks to the inaccurate recipe (it was taken from '500 Cupcakes & Muffins' by Fergal Connolly). I followed the recipe accurately, yet the batter turned out extremely dry and crumbly (like crushed biscuits). I was so disappointed that I felt like throwing away the book. I had a feeling the recipes in this book weren't very authentic before I bought it, and yet I bought it! Oh well, there are 499 other recipes I've yet to try, so back on the shelve it went. Back to the batter...I tried my best to salvage it by simply adding some milk and a beaten egg to lighten the batter but that didn't work either. So, in the bin the batter went. End of story and on to chapter 2....

So, out of this 'failure in disguise' and with the baking bug still on my back, I decided to try another muffin recipe, Mint Chocolate Chip from 'Mad About Muffins' by Diana Bonaparte. I bought this book after a high recommendation from my 4th sister, Joyce, who is a skilled, natural baker. This book gives step-by-step instructions and great tips that are especially helpful for home bakers. Thus, in the heat of the evening just before the very hot sun sets, I ventured out once more to buy a packet of Hershey's chocolate chips. After a disappointing afternoon, I'm satisfied with the outcome of my baking tonight (although the muffins did not rise as much as I wanted them to but it was okay). The melted choc chip combined with the peppermint muffin is a really nice combination. I gobbled down 2 muffins shortly after my hearty chicken biryani dinner! Here are the wonderful muffins...


340 g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
185 g caster/superfine sugar
2 eggs
190 g milk
1 tsp peppermint essence
1 tsp green food coloring
100 g butter, melted in microwave or a heated saucepan
100 g semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sift all dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir well. Combine the eggs, milk, peppermint essence and green food coloring in a bowl and beat with a fork. Add all the wet ingredients, including the melted butter, into the dry ingredients, fold in the choc chips and stir with a large spoon till just combined. Spoon the batter into muffin liners and bake in muffin pans at 170 deg C for 20-25 mins.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gaeng Phed Kai

I am a big fan of Thai food, esp tom yum soup! And having taken a Thai language course during my undergraduate days has completely nothing to do with my palate for Thai cuisine! Sharing very similar cooking ingredients and approach with several types of Peranakan food, Thai cuisine knows no shame when it comes to the use of aromatic and flavorful herbs and spices. At a Time's bookstore warehouse sale in Ang Mo Kio, Singapore recently, I was glad to have gotten great bargains on books and one of the many that I got was 'Delightful Thai Food' by Azrah Kamala Shashi. This is the first recipe that I have tried from this book. Although the dish did not look exactly the same as the picture published in the recipe book, the taste did turn out well. So, here's the recipe:

Recipe for Gaeng Phed Kai (Thai Chicken Curry):
1 portion coconut cream/thick milk (I suggest substituting this with half cup olive/sunflower/canola oil )
1 kg chicken cut into pieces
1 portion (approx. 1 cup) thin coconut milk
1/4 cup fish sauce (I suggest using 1.5 tbsp only as fish sauce can be very salty)
4 potatoes, quartered

Finely ground paste:
1 inch galangal (lengkuas)
2 tbsp coriander seeds (biji ketumbar), roasted
2 tsp cumin seeds (jintan putih), roasted
1 stalk lemon grass (serai)
10 dried chilies, soaked in hot water and drained
10 shallots
15 cloves garlic
2 inches ginger
2 tsp shrimp paste (belacan)
Pinch of salt

Heat thick coconut milk (or oil) for 5 mins and stir-fry finely ground paste till fragrant. Pour in thin coconut milk, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes (optional), salt and fish sauce. Simmer till chicken is cook/potatoes are soft. Serve hot with rice. Enjoy!