Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Donald Duck's Time Christmas Treat - Gingerbread Cookies


Ok next up, Gingerbread Cookies! What's Christmas without it in Sweden? They even have ready made dough you can purchase for about 4 SGD which is what I've used. Yes, I've taken the shortcut haha but if you really want to make it from scratch, which I promise I will next year, here's the recipe that came with the funny dough, which appropriately was titled *already been chewed.

Gingerbread man ingredients

Fred's famous ABC* cookie recipe
3.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup molasses warmed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoons warm water
1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Part 1 - The Work
  1. Combine the flour, spices and salt in a bowl.
  2. In a separate large bowl, cream the vegetable shortening with sugar, then beat in the egg and molasses.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in warm water and add to the molasses mixture, beating until smooth.
  4. Gradually add in the flour mixture, cover and chill for 24 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180-200 degrees celsius.
  6. Grease two baking sheets, then on a floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
  7. Use the cutter to make shapes in the dough, (Try not to eat too much of the raw dough)
  8. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes until they are brown around the edges.
pepperkaker moulds
Part 2 - The Fun 

If you like, you can decorate the cookies with frosting and put them on a decorative plate in plain view. Watch people investigate their newly-baked goodness, notice the bite marks, and then move along. Then, eat all the cookies yourself!!

half eaten pepperkaker

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Treats for Donald Duck's Time- Swedish knäck

knack 1

Sorry for the absence, I've been moving apartments over the weekend (still moving stuff over). The new and old apartments are about 600m away but it's a world of difference! For one, I got a nicer and bigger kitchen so I'm very happy because I have at last space to store all my cooking gadgets :)

Anyway, its just a few days before Christmas and I've been busy preparing some snacks for the family's annual Donald Duck time on TV.

You didn't know? Apparently the Swedish has this custom on TV that Donald duck (and Mickey mouse) cartoons are shown on on Christmas eve around 3pm for about an hour every year, without fail. So I call this Donald Duck's Time and this year the family is coming to our new apartment to watch it on our soon-to-be-replaced TV and I made some snacks to help make it more festive.

This is a classic made by my father-in-grace every takes the skill of one who knows how to operate the microwave and high heat. Anne's food blog documents a few versions but here's one that's been tried and tested by my dear father-in-grace :). They all have the instructions for making it when you buy the little paper cups but some might differ.

50g sliced blanced almonds (means those without the brown skin)
1.5 tablespoon butter
2dl castor sugar
2dl light syrup
1.5dl whipped cream
(1 dl =100ml)

Steps - Before you start, lay out the little cups on a plate, as many as you can, because when the mixture is ready to be pour out you need to be fast about it otherwise it will harden.

Version 1 

  1. Mix everything together (except the almonds) in a deep glass container so that the sides doesn't boil over.
  2. Put it in the microwave on the highest setting for 2-3 minutes at a time. You need to keep a watch on it and you might need to take a few rounds to get the right consistency.
  3. Be careful when taking it out, take a drop of the mixture and drop it into a bowl of ice-cold water, feel it with your fingers that it can be formed into a ball, but still remained chewy. When you are satisfied with the consistency, add in the almonds and quickly pour them into the little paper cups.

Version 2

  1. Mix the butter, sugar, syrup and cream in a thick-bottomed, deep pot
  2. Cook and stir over medium heat, taking care not to let it boil over for about 30 minutes until 1 drop of the mixture in a bowl of cold water can be formed into a ball.
toffee or fudge

Stir in the almonds and pour them into the little paper cups. Let it cool and harden, store in airtight container.

Christmas candies

Note: I used version 2 this time round, it took quite a long time and I have to take it off the heat once in a while to prevent it from boiling over. The end result was a bit too soft for my liking but I used some maple-flavoured pancake syrup instead of the light syrup which I suppose is similar to corn syrup. Will try again next year! Remember, these can be ADDICTIVE! 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saffron bread with almond filling - Lussebullar med mandel massa

Its 13 December today and its Santa Lucia day here in Sweden. The swedes take this day quite seriously and there's always a choir on TV singing the hauntingly lovely song to get everyone in the mood. They also have saffron bread, which normally starts on 4 Sundays before Christmas, they call it 'advent' here. Today is the third advent and they will lit up 3 candles at one time, with the fourth being lit up altogether on the fourth advent day. If you are ever in Sweden during this time, you will also see many stars and electric candles being displayed and lit up in the windows. I love it, and especially with the short days, it just makes the long nights a little magical with Christmas coming up soon!

It snowed today! Well, just a little bit, we are hoping it will keep up and we may have a white Christmas. We made some Christmas candies at my parents-in-graces place last week, I especially like one call 'Knäck', will try it out and post up the recipe soon, its very easy!

I tried out saffron bread yesterday, after craving it for so long and I think my mother-in-grace makes the best and this year was especially good! However, all the recipes was in her head so she wrote down the bare basics and I tried to figure out the rest of the steps from Anne's blog on pistachio buns and saffron buns.

This is very delicious and freezes well too, just let it cool down before you freeze, and before serving, just microwave it to heat it up and it will be perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

With almond paste filling

Ingredients - This makes 2 large loaves

500 ml milk, finger warm
100g butter, melted
25g fresh yeast, or equivalent of dried yeast
150ml kesella (or quark) or cooking cheese
1 whole egg
0.5grams of saffron (this is very expensive!Here, they come ready in packets of 0.5grams)
1 teaspoon of cardamon powder
1-1.5kg of plain flour (You really have to vary this depending on the absorption of the flour)
150g butter and 400g almond paste
Almond slices and pearl sugar for decoration
Egg wash with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of water

  1. Warm up the milk, and using about 100ml of it, dissolve it with the fresh yeast. Remember to have it fingerwarm otherwise you might 'kill' the yeast. Add it to about 1kg flour, kesalla, egg and cardamon powder mixture.
  2. Pour in the melted butter with the rest of the milk. Add it gradually to form a very soft dough, add in the saffron and gradually add the rest of the flour until you get a nice and soft dough.
  3. Cover with a towel and let it proof for about 30 minutes in a large mixing bowl.

    Proofed and ready saffron dough

  4.  Divide the dough into halves, take each half and roll it out with your hand until it forms a large rectangle. Make sure your surface is well floured to prevent it from sticking.
  5. Using a cheese slicer or butter knife, slice and lay out the almond paste and butter evenly on the rectangular dough.
  6. With the length of the dough facing you, fold a third of the dough inwards from left to center, and the remaining third of the dough from right to overlap the center portion.
  7. Using a baking sheet that covers the length of the dough, flip it over gently so the folded sides should be at the bottom, resting on the baking sheet.
  8. Take a pair of scissors and cut along the surface of the dough to make a pattern. Decorate with almond slices and pearl sugar, and brush a layer of egg wash over. Let it rest for another 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Celsius, and bake it for about 10-15 minutes or until the surface is golden brown. Keep a watch on it after 10 minutes.
  10. Let it cool before slicing, or freezing. Enjoy!
Saffron bread with almond filling

Mandel Massa mellan

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baked Beef Tomatoes

Topped with slices of mozzarella cheese

We saw these giant tomatoes in the supermarket one day and my husband had the idea to put beef bolognaise into them and baking it. I'm sure everyone has their own version of bolognaise but I think my husband's is the best one ;).

Anyway, since it was the first time I was making anything like this, I did some google searching and they all had some versions of it, some with couscous. We recently bought this pasta which resembles rice. So I thought I will try a variation of it by mixing the bolognaise with rizoni (or risoni or rizzoni or orzo).

Serves 2
2 Beef tomatoes (they can be as large as your palm can hold them)
200ml cooked beef bolognaise
1 mozzarella cheese
200g rizoni

 Rizoni - pasta which looks like rice

  1. Scoop out the fleshy part of the tomatoes, leave a thick rim all round. If you are cooking the bolognaise from scratch (I will put up the recipe soon), you can chop them up and add it to the mix to cook.
  2. Drain any juice from the tomatoes, wrap the bottom half with aluminum foil like a bowl.
  3. Cook the rizoni according to instructions from the package until its al dente as you will be cooking them further in the oven when you bake the tomatoes.
  4. Mix the bolognaise with the pre-cooked rizoni thoroughly, then scoop them into the cavity of the prepared tomatoes until it is filled.
  5. Shred the mozzarella cheese (especially when you buy them into individual packages which comes in the form like a ball) and layer it over the mixture.
  6. Bake it (with the top of the tomatoes placed to one side) for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees celsius, or until the top is browned.
  7. Serve hot!

Rizoni with beef bolognaise

Baked beef tomatoes with bolognaise rizoni

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Carrot Cake (Chinese Style) or Fried Chai Tow Kway

Here's the Chinese version of carrot cake - very different since it is more of a savory item than dessert. You probably came across the pan fried version of it when you are at dim sum restaurant. In Singapore, we call is Chai Tow Kway, and I especially like the dark version which is fried with sweet dark sauce.

Fried Carrot Cake with Black Sauce

I first tried making this with glutinous rice flour, which was a huge mistake since I ended up throwing them away. Glutinous rice flour is too sticky, and more suited for sweet dumplings soup. So make sure you get the plain rice flour!

Makes one 15-cm round portion.

500g Daiko or white radish - finely shredded
Half a red carrot - finely shredded
200g rice flour
70g tapioca starch
810 - 850g room temperature water (Ratio should be 3:1 of rice flour to tapioca starch, water should be 3 times the total flour mix, adjust accordingly if you want a firmer or softer product)

 Rice Flour to Tapioca Starch to Water

1/2 teaspoon chicken stock powder
Dash of white pepper
1 tablespoon of dried shrimps
Half a Chinese sausage

  1. Heat up about 2 tablespoon of oil and fry the dried shrimps and Chinese sausage till they are fragrant. These are optional.
  2. Squeeze the water out of the radish and mix in the shredded carrots. Add to the pan and stir fry until they are slightly soft, this should take around 10 minutes or so.
  3. Pour in the flour, starch and water mixture, stirring constantly using low heat for a few minutes. Add in the seasoning. The mixture will be quite thick and sticky. Add more water if desired if you want a looser mixture, but it should not be too watery otherwise it will be too soft to use.
  4. Pour into an oiled shallow metal dish which you will use for steaming. I used a 15cm disposable aluminum shallow bowl.
  5. Steam over medium heat for about 35 minutes. Pour away any water that might have condensed on top and let it cool completely before cutting.

    Midst of Steaming

    Steamed Carrot Cake

  6. If you want to pan fry it after dipping it in a beaten egg, cut it into thick squares.
  7. If you like the dark version, cut them up into small bit size bits, start with frying up some minced garlic, add the carrot cake, then the beaten egg, season with sweet dark sauce and fish sauce. Sprinkle spring onions and a dash of white pepper over the dish before serving.
Pan fried Carrot Cake dipped in beaten egg

Monday, November 30, 2009

Carrot Cake (Western Style)

Ok, if you are one of those who is wondering why I denoted the western style for this carrot cake, it's because the chinese version of it is very different. I did both version this weekend, so I thought I will post this up first.

This is again from one of my favourite website for baking recipes, but it can be a little too sweet so I've reduced it a little and I used lime zest instead of lemon as I didn't have any in the house then. It still turns out great though, do give it a try!

Carrot Cake (Western Style)

Adapted from Joy of Baking

1 cup (100 grams) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 pound (340 grams) raw carrots (about 2 1/2 cups finely grated)
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
200 grams granulated white sugar (the original was 300g, you can adjust it further if you like)
1 cup (240 ml) safflower, vegetable or canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Note: For a moister carrot cake, I added 1 can of pineapple rings, which I blended it up and drained before adding to the batter, at the same time when I add the oil and vanilla extract. You may have to bake the cake a few minutes longer.

Note: This cake can be baked in a 9 x 13 x 2 inch (23 x 33 x 5 cm) pan. Just increase the baking time to between 30 to 40 minutes

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups (230 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted (I think I will reduce this to 200g next time)

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
finely grated lemon/lime zest of one lemon
I added a teaspoon of lemon juice as I found the frosting a bit too sweet from the icing sugar, but do adjust accordingly)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter or spray two - 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper.
  2. Toast the pecans or walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely.
  3. Peel and finely grate the carrots. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
  5. In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light colored (about 3 - 4 minutes). Add the oil in a steady stream and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. With a large rubber spatula fold in the grated carrots and chopped nuts. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 5 -10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting.
  7. To assemble: place one cake layer, top side down, onto your serving plate. Spread with about one third of the frosting. Gently place the other cake, top of cake facing down, onto the frosting, and spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
Serves 10 - 12.


In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, just until blended with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract, and lemon zest.

Read more:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Spiral Curry Puffs

Tried this when I was at a Thai's friend's home and fell in love with it. She also gave me a special ingredient to make it more crispy. Lime paste or slaked lime or kapur sirih is also known as calcium hydroxide solution is used in Thai cuisines. You don't have to use a lot but you prepare the solution before hand and take the clear liquid, don't shake it when you are using it. I was quite curious and did some research on this, and this site explains it well. I suppose if you can't get it, you can omit it.

She also gave me a translation from two sites which are in thai, but the illustrations are very helpful. This is a long post, since I also wanted to document the process with pictures.

Sites: and this one which I tried using Google's translation tool, but you can see how some text don't really work ;)

Servings: 20 mini puffs

Water-based dough
120g plain flour
10g sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Lime paste clear water about 25 teaspoon (sorry I forgot to measure that in grams)
Cold water 2-5 teaspoon
Vegetable oil 25g
Mix all together till it comes together as a soft dough, it shouldn't be too dry so you should vary the amount of cold water according to the absorption rate of the flour you are using.

Oil-based dough
60g plain flour
25g vegetable oil
Mix together till it comes together. It should be a very soft dough.

1 medium potato, diced
1 onion, diced
100g of meat (chicken or pork, whichever is preferred), diced
A handful of frozen green peas
AAA Globe Brand meat curry paste, about 1-1.5 tablespoon
Fry the onions and potato first, add in the meat and green peas and add ready made curry paste and a little water, season with sugar and salt. The final result should be dry mixture. Let it cool before using.

  Oil based dough and water based dough
1. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions, the water based dough should be around 20g each while the oil based dough is about 8 g. Use a digital weighing machine, makes it much easier, otherwise, 'eye power!'

Wrap the oil based dough with the water based dough into a ball
2. Wrap the oil-based dough (8g) with the water-based dough (20g) and seal it well.

Flatten it
3. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough vertically

Roll up like a swiss roll
4. Roll it up lengthwise like a swiss roll

Lie it vertically long side up and flatten it again
5. Lay it long side up and flatten it again

6. Roll it up again and you should end up with a little fat swiss roll like this - cut it breathwise into half

See the pretty spirals
 7. You should be able to see the pretty spirals like this

It should slightly curved upwards like a little bowl, some flaking might occur but its ok
8a. Take one half and roll it out lengthwise and breath wise to get this puff skin. Some flaking might appear, but don't worry about it.

Flatten the spiral-ed dough again  
8b. It should naturally curved upwards, like a little bowl

 Pinch in the sides, takes practise but it should look like this
9. Pinch in the sides, this take practice but you basically pull a little bit of the dough out, then pinch it back inwards with the tip of your nails or finger tips. I took a bit of time to get it.

Fry it over medium heat in oil, which should be covering it
10. Take a small pot and fill it with enough oil to deep fry it. It should be able to 'float' while you are frying it so you can turn it round every now and then till they are a delectable golden brown colour. Use a low-medium heat, your oil should not be smoking hot but gently bubbling around the puffs.

11. Done! Drain it on kitchen paper

The filling of curry pork, potatoes, peas and onions
Filling of curry pork, potatoes, peas and onion

Pretty spirals
Pretty spirals

Really flaky and nice 
I think its pretty magical how this can be done with a few turns and twirls



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pizza not Piazza

Ham, Cheese and Mushrooms pizza

Been quite busy these few weeks with the Swedish lessons being stepped up a notch and going away for a short holiday in Rome, it is truly a land of history and grand artifacts, with pasta and pizza around every corner you turn.

Is the pizza better? I don't really know for sure, besides encountering on the first day at this snack pizza place toppings such as mushrooms and egg plants, I think I still prefer toppings I can decide.

We made this a while back, for we are kinda of sick of pizza now, but I think home-made pizza, besides being easy and cheap, allows you to decide the exact kind of topping you want. For me, that's the most important thing of all.

We tried this out using a pizza kit, but you can basically get a pizza base mix which you just add water and voila!

The toppings for my pizza came from Su Lynn's favourite combination from Rocky's pizza in Singapore. You really should be a fan of anchovies to try this.

Minced Beef with Anchovies, Onions, Ham, Mushroom, Cheese and chili flakes


Pizza dough - this is from Jamie Oliver, but if you find it easier to buy the pre-mix or ready dough, don't be shy to use it.
Pizza sauce - again from Jamie Oliver, but my quick cheat is using salsa sauce that comes in a bottle, especially those spicy one ;)
Mozzarella cheese
Minced Beef fried with onions and seasoned with salt and pepper
Anchovies, mashed
Chili flakes
Sliced ham

  1. Roll out the prepared dough, spread on the pizza sauce and top with your choice of toppings. This blog has some good pictures of the steps to prepare the dough. For the minced beef version, spread on top of the pizza sauce beef, anchovies, sliced ham and some jalapeno. After you have spread out the cheese over it, scatter the chili flakes over it.
  2. Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 180-200 degrees.

Su Lynn's Favourite toppings
I call this Su Lynn's favourite toppings in honour of her introducing it to me

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bibimbap - Korean Mixed Rice

Korean mixed rice with condiments

I actually bought the Korean hot pepper sauce (it's usually the one in the red rectangular box) without knowing what I want to do with it, but I know it will come in handy. When my friend mentioned she makes it sometimes with her husband and Anne's food blog mentioned about it, I decided to give it a try.

As usual, I googled around for a reliable-looking recipe, which to me has a few criterias:
- pictures, preferably taken in stages
- proven recipes (having quite a few backlinks)
- I have all the ingredients! (Most important!)

So this one was what I found: and I've followed it word for word since it was the first time I was making it but here's some pictures of the steps I took, with my modified instructions for making it where applicable.

Ingredients - serves 2

The ToppingsUse 1/2 small dish bowl of each vegetable toppings for the rice.

marinated beansprouts with spring onions and sesame

Seasoned Bean Sprouts
About 1 can of beansprouts (drained)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon spring onion, julienne
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

If you are using fresh beansprouts, soak the sprouts in boiling water. If you like it with a bit more crunch, drain it after a minute or so.If you are using a canned version (it's cheaper in the canned version in Sweden), refresh it with some hot water too but only for about 30 seconds. Drain and transfer to a bowl to mix with the salt, spring onions, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Set aside.

marinated carrots

Seasoned Carrot Salad
1/2 a large carrot or one normal size one, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchstick strips 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Heat the sesame oil in a pan on medium heat, add in the carrots and season with salt. Stir fry it for about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool when done.

marinated cucumber

Spicy Cucumber Salad
1/2 cucumber, julienne to about same thickness as carrots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Tangy Red Pepper Dressing 
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a mixing bowl, toss the cucumbers and salt. Set aside for 5 minutes. Gently squeeze the liquid from the cucumbers. Transfer to a serving bowl and combine it with the dressing and sesame seeds. Set aside.

Marinated baby spinach

Seasoned Spinach Salad
250 g baby spinach, rinsed and blanched in boiling water for about 2 minutes
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Drain the spinach into a colander and rinse with cold water. Squeeze the water from the spinach and transfer to a bowl, add the seasoning and mix well. Set aside to cool.

minced beef

Seasoned Beef
200g minced beef
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Marinate the beef with the seasoning for about 15 minutes. Stir fry till cook for about 2 minutes and set aside.

egg and mushroom

Stir-fry button mushrooms (optional, this was my own addition)

About 4-5 fresh button mushrooms, sliced thinly.

Stir fry in a pan with a little oil until it softens. Season with salt and black pepper, set aside.

hot pepper sauce

Tangy Red Pepper Dressing 
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste (available at Korean grocery)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon apple juice or water 
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Whisk the ingredients together and set aside. You can make more of this if you like, the above portion was actually meant for 4 servings, but I used it to make two servings, including using it in the spicy cucumber toppings.

To Assemble
1 cup cooked white rice 
1 tablespoons sesame oil plus extra for drizzling 
1 fried egg, sunny-side up
3 tablespoons Tangy Red Pepper Dressing

1. Have the seasoned toppings, beef and fried egg prepared in individual bowls.

2. Place a cast iron skillet or a small pot on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil. Heat the oil for 1 minute. Add the rice and spread it around the bottom of the pot to form an even layer. Cook the rice for several minutes or until the rice begins to brown on the bottom. You will hear the rice sizzle.

Jasmine rice

3. Carefully arrange each of the seasoned salads on top of the rice grouping each one like the spoke of a wheel. Place the beef in the center. Continue heating for 2 minutes.

Bibimbap in a pot

4. Transfer the pot to a heatproof pad.

5. Before serving, mix together the egg, toppings, rice and 2 tablespoons of the Tangy Red Pepper Sauce. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to distribute that crunchy crust throughout the dish.

6. Serve in individual bowls topped with one fried egg per person with a drizzle of sesame oil and add extra Tangy Red Pepper Dressing as you like it. I added a lot more haha ;)

Topped with egg and Korean hot sauce

Korean Mixed Rice with vegetables and meat