Mango and cream génoise

Mango and cream génoise

I love mangos and coming from Malaysia, aiiii, mangos are a plenty! Over here though, it can be tough to look for very nice and equally ripe mangos. The other day we bought some and they seem just about right for a cake – not too ripe but still a little sweet.

I was intrigued by the recipe and the idea of making génoise – a kind of Italian sponge. It was only after I made the cake that I discovered that there are two ways – one without butter and the other with. Am not too sure what the texture is like for the one with butter but this one can be a little on the dry side but it is very fragrant…reminds me of kuih bahulu or langue du chat (except those biscuits are thinner and hard/crispy). This is still soft but best eaten with some filling and cream to give it a bit moist texture.

Overall, this is a very light cake which you won’t hesitate at gobbling down instantly; if you substitute the double cream for low fat whipping cream, it’s not sinful at all. Quite perfect for breakfast (gasp!) or tea (gasp!!!)!

Mango and cream génoise

Ingredients

(A) Cake
1 1/2 plain flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of baking powder
4 eggs
1/2 brown sugar
6 tsp Cointreau

(B) Filling
200 ml double cream
A sprinkle of sugar
Diced & cubed mango

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and prepare an 8″ springform pan by lining the base and sides with greaseproof paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt three times before placing it aside. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, eggs and Cointreau with a mixer for 10 minutes, or until thick and pale.
  3. Sift the flour onto the egg mix and fold in very gently. Pour into the pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. When ready, remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for five minutes before removing it to sit on a wire rack to cool thoroughly. Don’t forget to peel the paper off the sides and bottom.
  5. When the cake has cooled, whip the cream and sugar with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Using a serrated blade, cut the top off the cake, spread the cream over and decorate with freshly diced or cubed mango. Serve chilled.

NOTE: This cake is best eaten fresh and cannot be stored for longer than a day/night.

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Curry puffs with chicken & potatoes

Curry puff with chicken & potatoes

The other day, Nil cubed too much chicken breast for the fried rice that I made for lunch, so instead of tossing everything into the fried rice, I thought we’d keep aside some and turn those into some curry puffs – a snack which I’ve not had for over a year already. There are many ways of making this – one can just use potatoes as a filling, some prefer meat like chicken, and then there is the matter of making the pastry – spiral, regular or flaky.

The options endless, but one thing is for sure. Unlike the Western counterpart – pastry with curry – the Asian curry puff is not just filled with tumeric but it has a spicy, hot kick to it which is offset by the buttery texture of the pastry. Topped off with the fact that it’s deep-fried and not baked, this roadside snack can be decadent and sinful.

Still, it is a regular at many hawker stalls, food centers, as well as in many homes plus ethnic cuisines throughout Malaysia. The Indians, Malays, and Chinese have their own way of making curry puffs…you could say that it’s one of those dishes that has been embraced by all, claimed by none.

I made these with some chicken curry and beef rendang powder that I got from home (which you can get at any Asian store) and the pastry is a simply one that Nil and I use for tarts. Nothing fancy or complicated really. I didn’t have those fancy curry puff moulds that you’d get back at home in Malaysia – just my trusty pizza cutter (to divide my dough), and a rolling pin. The fluted edges are done by simply pinching the edges and folding them in as you go.

Taste-wise, Nil loves it! It reminds him of the dish he always took whenever he patronised Indian food stalls/restaurants back in Singapore. As for me, a thinner pastry is always best (I was afraid of holes and such) but it’ll do. This recipe is a bit on the not-so-salty side because I’m trying to watch my salt intake but if you like your food more salty, don’t forget to add salt to the flour before churning out the dough!

Curry puffs with chicken & potatoes

Ingredients

(A) Pastry
400 gms all purpose white flour
150 gms butter
Some iced water
Flour for dusting

(B) Filling
200 gms chicken breast – cubed
4 medium-large potatoes – peeled and cubed
1 large onion – diced
1 tbsp curry chicken powder
1 tbsp beef rendang powder
1 tsp chicken stock
50 ml water
Salt & pepper to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method

  1. Mix the spices with some water until it forms a paste. In a wok/pan, fry the paste with some oil until fragrant. Add in the potatoes and onions, and fry for 2-3 minutes before adding in the cubed chicken. Fry until the chicken is cooked.
  2. Add in the water, chicken stock, salt & pepper to taste, cover and cook until the potatoes are soft. You may need to add more water if necessary – keep an eye out. You don’t want your filling to burn before the potatoes are soft.
  3. Once the potatoes are cooked, continue frying the filling until it’s dry. Be careful not to burn it. When ready, dish out to cool thoroughly.
  4. Prepare the pastry by mixing (A). On a floured surface, divide the dough into equal portions and roll out the portions into circles measuring 12 cm in diameter and a thickness of about 2mm. You don’t have to be this accurate – this is just a gauge. Place about a teaspoon or more (estimate as you go) of the filling, fold carefully, pinch the edges to seal and create a flute edge by folding in the edges.
  5. When finished, deep fry these in hot oil until golden brown. Serve warm as is.

NOTE: You can actually keep the extras in the freezer for a month – just deep fry the puffs (after you’re done filling and sealing them) for one minute or so (the curry puffs won’t be golden brown which is okay), dish out, cool and freeze. When you want to eat them, just take out from the freeze and deep fry them directly (do not thaw) until golden brown

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Harvest time!

The first harvest sprigs...

Well, not quite…it’s the beginning though. 🙂

Last year, just around mid spring, I discovered the joys of lavender and promptly gifted myself with two varieties – some Spanish and French lavender. I transferred them into appropriate pots and sun them regularly resulting in pretty luscious blooms. Unfortunately, when Nil and I went for our trip to the Alps in summer, it got very hot and the pots that I had transferred them into dried out…very badly.

Instead of green leaves and such greeting us upon our return, we got brown dried stalks of…dead lavender. After some intense watering and pruning sessions, I kept my fingers crossed throughout the rest of summer, autumn and winter for some sign of life. Both varieties were sprouting leaves, even though not much…but I was still apprehensive. Being new plants, it would be their first winter and I wasn’t too sure if they was “established” enough to survive the cold months.

Then winter came and went by, and at the start of spring, my Spanish lavender was looking awfully dead…dried to the bone, to be exact…and my French lavender. Ohhey, there was some pleasant surprise there! It started growing huge bunches of leaves and stalks. Before I could say “hello”, it was spring, there was plenty of sun and my lavender is having a ball of a time shooting out flowers and looking magnificently happy.

A couple of weeks back, some of the stalks began to bloom and true to what people say, I started getting visits from bees…although some lose their way and end up in the apartment. 8) It’s not a very big bush, being a balcony plant and all but with any luck and some TLC, I ought to be rewarded with a healthy handful of lavender sprigs this summer. It’s sad that I might move soon to the tropics. I’ll miss growing, admiring and harvesting this lovely aromatic plant.

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