Traditional goodies: Arrowroot (Nga Koo)

Freshly peeled bulbs of arrowroo

Every year, you’ll find cans and containers of all sizes containing arrowroot chips, or nga koo, for sale. The bulbs are grated into thin slices and then deep fried in oil to give it its signature golden hue. It looks like potato chips but has a different and root (as well as more appetizing, IMHO) taste. The ones we make aren’t salted which makes it a whole lot different from those which are commercially available.

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(Nutmeg) Ginger cookies snaps

(Nutmeg) Ginger goodness!

Initially I was thinking of making ginger snaps for Chinese New Year but somewhere, somehow along the way, I ended up with dough that was too soft to be rolled out and cut into shapes. After analyzing the recipe, I realised that I was making ginger cookies with a somewhat gingerbread-like recipe/consistency instead. Oh woe to me for failing to decide on the “right” recipe before starting it.

Ginger snaps are somewhat harder when cool and are to be rolled out and cut whereas the recipe I used called for rolling the dough into balls and then flattening them out on the pan – molded cookies, if you will.

(Nutmeg) Ginger cookies snaps
Makes 36 (actually more!)

2 1/4 cups flour (all-purpose flour will do)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup margarine, room temp
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup molasses (or dark treacle)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 – 1/3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

What to do:

  1. Cream 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter and margarine until light and fluffy. Add egg and continue beating until blended well. Add molasses.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients three times and stir in butter mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat over to 160-180 C. Line pans with wax paper/baking paper.
  4. Place the remaining sugar in a shallow dish. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and roll balls in the sugar to coat.
  5. Place the balls two inches apart on the prepared sheets and flatten slightly.
  6. Bake till golden around the edges but soft in the middle, 12-15 minutes. Let cookies stand for 5 minutes before transferring to a rake to cool.

Adding dark sticky treacle! Treacle + butter swirls

I totally botched the last step, choosing instead to bake cookies for 15 minutes and NOT letting them stand – just took them out to cool.

Since it has been ages since I last made anything from scratch, I fumbled around and made a few errors changes, namely added 1 to 1/3 teaspoons of nutmeg instead of 1/2 teaspoon as called for in the recipe (hence the weird title) AND dumping in 1 cup of sugar instead of 1/2 cup first (I did scoop up the additional 1/2 cup before creaming it with the butter). Well, I should get used to this since I’ll be making orange-strawberry shortbread checks as well.

Frankly, I was a little nervous. It’s my first time making cookies with anything else but fruit and flavouring. All sorts of things ran through my mind – would it have enough of that gingery taste? Would the overkill of nutmeg totally ruin my dough? Will it be too sweet? Would the treacle make it taste awfully weird?

It turned out to be just fine; a little chewy when warm but oh-so-snappish when cool. The additional nutmeg added a unique touch to an otherwise gingery snap so no complaints there. Thank goodness my experimentations (mistake or otherwise) never fail me! While the aroma is fantastic for the house, I found the cookies a little too sweet for my liking because of the amount of sugar required for rolling those sticky little balls around even though I nearly replaced all white sugar with light brown sugar which is less sweeter. So will definitely have to make a note somewhere to cut out that bit that says “roll balls in sugar”.

I’m still wondering if I should ship off some to Nil – need to find a sturdy-enough yet airtight container that won’t break. We’ll see how it goes. Now it’s off to finish off some knitting!

Oh so snappish!

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Orange poppyseed muffin

Tangy goodness!

So yes, I’m a lazy bum when it comes to baking certain things AND I love Guten Braun’s muffin mix even though this is the second time I’ve used it.

orange-poppyseed muffin-mix

Instead of the usual old-school favourite blueberry, I settled for a little tangy taste to my muffins…not to mention a unique crunch which you cannot get high from. No worries, no alcohol in them…well, most of them. (Surprises for the ones who bite into my marmalade-brandy filled muffins!)

marmalade-brandy the-surprise-ones

So what was different this time? Well, add rind from two Oz navel oranges, juice from 1/4 of the same orange(s), 25 gms of poppyseed plus leftover blueberry filling and some marmalade-brandy jam.

Fresh muffins!

Hm. I ought to buy a kilo of this mix next time instead of the usual 500 gm; that way I’ll get those to-die-for mushroom tops!


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Blueberry muffins

The finished cupcakes!

20 paper cupcakes = RM2
500 gm of muffin mix = RM4.50
250 gm of blueberry filling = RM2.50
Fresh, hot muffins for breakfast = Priceless.

Honestly? It was a spur of the moment thing.

The muffin mix from Guten Braun and cupcakes! Instructions, anyone? Cupcake trays from IKEA Add in four eggs + 200 ml of corn oil - I used olive oil!

There is this baking supplies shop near my house and usually, I’ll pop by just to lose myself admist the flour mixes, fruit jams, and what-nots in that store. (The owner makes fantastic pecan cookies for CNY!) I usually don’t buy stuff because I never have the time to bake but I decided differently this time.

Mix till batter is smooth. Looks like custard no? Preparing the first layer First layer = done!

The muffin mix comes with easy to understand instructions and at a cheaper price that the ones I usually get for brownies and cookies. The usual applies – just add the additional eggs and oil plus a fruit filling of your choice. I chose blueberry because I have this thing about blueberries and muffin. Must make a mental note to attempt an orange & poppyseed concoction next time! How can you go wrong with such simplicity?

Adding the filling! Finished with the filling? Next! Going strong with the second layer Baking away in the oven at 180 degrees C

Verdict? Simply yummylicious!

Note: This muffin mix makes around 20 odd muffins depending on how much batter you add into each cup. Excellent when eaten warm with some tea/coffee on the side OR if you like, just plain!

Simply irresistable!

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Orange Cheesecake

Butter and digestive biscuits for the base Crushing the biscuits Butter well of biscuits Mixing them all

Orange Cheesecake

250 g digestive biscuits (actually you can use 200 g of biscuits and 50 g of cornflakes)
140 g butter (salted or otherwise)
500 g cream cheese (cubed first before mixing)
300 ml whipped cream or regular cream
Orange rind from 1 Valencia Sunkist orange
Orange juice from 1 navel orange and half of a Valencia Sunkist orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 water
1 tablespoon gelatin (unflavoured)
2 teaspoon brandy/cooking wine/orange liqueur

What to do:

  1. Finely crushed biscuits, add melted butter and press into a 8 inch pan (or any pan of your choice). I used a shallow pan because I don’t like to have too much cheese in my cheesecakes and thus, ended up with two pans of cakes.
  2. Refrigerate until base becomes hard.
  3. Beat whipped cream until soft peaks form. I’d suggest this AFTER you are done with your cream cheese and such. I did it first and my whipped cream started bleeding (I got a bit of water coming out of my cream – normal if you let it sit after beating).
  4. Beat cream cheese, rind, juice, and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the batter looks smooth and creamy. I added a bit (maybe a quater) of the orange pulp while squeezing out the juice. I think it gives the filling a little bit of colour and texture.
  5. Fold in cream until it’s well mixed.
  6. Add gelatin to the water (make sure that the water is boiled) and stir until it dissolves. Leave aside to cool. This can be done while you are busy making the cream cheese mix.
  7. Spoon in brandy/cooking wine/liqueur and add gelatin. Mix well.
  8. Pour into the pan and refrigerate for at least six hours. Overnight is best.
  9. When serving, use anything you wish as a garnish. I plan to use sliced oranges.

The biscuity base Whipping the cream The filling, all done and ready Assembled and in the fridge

The original recipe called for less orange juice and more liqueur but I sort of felt that it could be a bit tad over-powering. Parents had a go tasting the filling and found it orangey enough to be passed off as an orange cheesecake.

The gelatine bit worries me. My previous attempts at making cheesecake involved baking so I’m rather unfamiliar with this product. Hopefully, it’ll turn out just fine – am planning to check on it tonight.

It was a little chaotic in the kitchen while I was beating the cream and making the filling. Hence the lack of pictures during that process. So, unless you’re a pro, have everything prepared before you start mixing stuff except for the orange juice which has to be squeezed out fresh (like with all fruit juices that you intend to use in cake-making recipes). Same thing with the rind.

[EDIT: On a side note, I ought to get a springform pan – just took a look at the cake and while it looks kinda cute, the cake when removed from baking paper has this “homemade” look to it. Gah.]

Ah…baking…now if only Nil was here to finish off the leftover filling. ^.^

The finished cake An orange slice

ps: This recipe is a combination of this and this. 😀

pps: Oh, the rating above is given after considerations on difficulty level, availability of ingredients and overall fun.

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