Saturday, December 27, 2008

Vegan Shortbread....

I had a box of self raising flour sitting in my shelf for a while now and I happen to chance upon a recipe by gluten-free food manufacturer Orgran. It was a recipe for shortbread that not only used self raising flour but also melted butter. (So easily veganise) So, I got to work and it was really easy and simple that it would be a perfect recipe for children to muck about in as well. And there is no worries about them eating the 'raw dough' as it does not contain eggs and such.

Working with the dough

Waiting to be baked...
Acquiring their delicious crispiness

Vegan Shortbread (Adapted from Orgran's Everday Health Magazine)

325 g self-raising flour
60 g plain flour
220 g non-diary margarine/oil
180 g icing sugar


1) Sift all the dry ingredients together.
2) Melt non-diary margarine in a big enough pot to contain all ingredients. If using oil, proceed to next step.
3) Once melted and cooled, add dry ingredients to melted margarine/oil and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Knead for about a minute to combine. (The dough should be soft but not sticky - add a tiny bit of self-raising flour if you find yours sticky)
4) Roll out to about 0.5 cm thickness, cut out into desired shapes. 
5) Bake in a lined/non-stick pan for 20 mins at 150 degree celcius.
6) Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wedding Cupcakes

Mrs H ordered some cupcakes from me previously and this time she wanted to give them as wedding favours for her daughter's wedding. She ordered 600 cupcakes to be placed as a pair in 300 boxes. It was the biggest order ever and previously, I had only baked up to 300 cupcakes. It was very very tiring and only made possible because of my brother's and hubby's help. It took more than 24 hrs and I survived on about 2.5 hrs of sleep. Furthermore, the ribbon tying was also time consuming.

However, I am very pleased with the outcome and had a lot of fun doing it. I'm quite sure I am a sucker for such 'pain'!

Technology Themed Cupcakes

Mrs C L's husband works in the IT industry and she requested for some technology themed cupcakes. It was the first time I was making something thematic and I spent quite a bit of time trying to find something interesting. I managed to get a few ideas and I put it all together. I started at about 9 at night and finished making them at 5 in the morning. Is it worth it? I dunno, but I sure did enjoy myself!

Vegan Black Forest Cake

J works in SPCA and they wanted to celebrate Deirdre Moss' birthday during their Dinner and Dance. They wanted something chocoaltey, so they ordered a vegan black forest cake. After surfing the net for inspiration, I came up with my own black forest cake - triple layer of chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and stuffed with tart cherries in one layer and thickened cherry syrup in the next. Decorated with fire engine-red maraschino cherries... Too bad, I didn't even get a slice.... 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mocha Cupcakes

Z ordered some mocha and oreos cupcake for a gathering. Since I had posted so many pictures of the oreos, I'm just posting the mocha cupcakes I made. It is topped with some cinnamon powder for some yummy flavour! 

My Very First Nasi Lemak

This is my first nasi lemak in two ways. One it is the first vegetarian nasi lemak that I had. Despite wanting to eat vegetarian nasi lemak, I just can't seem to get the time to find a good place to try. Secondly, this is the first time I am making nasi lemak - be it vegetarian or non-veg. Since, I can't make egg or other non-veg side dishes, I just made a kangkong and cabbage stir fry. Since I can't make fried ikan bilis with this, I just toasted some ground nuts for a more healthy dish. I used this recipe as a guide, used basmati rice and reduced the coconut milk as well cos' I didn't want it to be overwhelming coconuty. I also added some star anise and a cinnamon stick. For the chilli, i happened to have vegetarian 'salted fish' (honestly, does not taste anything like fish!) and used a spoonful of vegetarian sambal belachan. It turned very yummy and like the real thing. I have some sitting in the fridge and I use it for my other dishes as well!

Japanese Dinner

I belong to the legions of Japanese food fans. There is something so simple, artistic yet delicious about Japanese food. I've always been crazy about both as a vegetarian and non-vegetarian. However, sadly, Japanese food is not really vegetarian friendly. This time round, I decided that I had to try my hand at making Japanese food. However, I had my own constraints. My hubby does not like Japanese food and he certainly does not like seaweed. My brother is relatively neutral but he prefers not to have Japanese food. So with these challenges in mind, I surfed around and finally decided to make a sort of Japanese rice meal instead of sushi. 

Of course, I was rather petrified to make Japanese rice. I had read many horror stories of burnt bottoms and mushy rice. After extensive reading, I used Alton Brown's sushi rice recipe but since I used sea salt, I reduced it to about a teaspoon. This recipe was fool proof and I managed to make a decent batch of sushi rice. For the sushi vinegar, I reduced the amount of sugar since my family don't enjoy sweet food as much. 

The dish I was really craving for was miso soup and one of the important tips I have learnt was not to boil the soup. Apparently, it causes the flavours to merge and ruin the soup. I didn't have kombu at home so I just hecked it and made with miso paste. I added silken tofu and some enoki mushroom and it was a meal on its own. Very delicious. I suppose some seaweed would have made it much more delicious. I didn't use any particular recipe for this. Just surf around in youtube to learn the recipe.

So we've got the rice and soup. For the side dish, I decided to make some teriyaki tofu steak. I made my own teriyaki sauce but replaced the honey with brown sugar for a vegan version. I also added some sesame oil to the marinade. I pressed some firm tofu in between two plates to release extra water and sliced it up added it to the marinade. After about an hour, I grilled it on a non-stick pan with a tiny bit of oil. After removing the teriyaki tofu, I added the remaining marinade with about 1/4 cup of water to dilute it and added some corn starch. Thickened it in the pan (sort of deglazing, I suppose) and used it as a dipping sauce. I also topped the dipping sauce with some sesame seeds. The teriyaki tofu was very delicious, even my hubby liked it! 
Of course I knew this is still not going to be enough to win over my hubby, so I decided to make some vegetable tempura using Jamie Oliver's recipe, halved. I decided to deep fry some yellow bell peppers, brinjal, onions and broccoli. Surprisingly, the batter clinged on beautifully and the vegetables turned out crispy. I never knew broccoli could be deep fried. It was a first for me! With the teriyaki dipping sauce, it was awesome! 

At the request of my brother, I also made some curried potatoes, to help them 'down' the Japanese rice should they not like the dishes. I also contemplated making sushi balls by using the potatoes as stuffing but did not have the time to try it.

All in all, the meal was a success. So much so, that I was left with only some miso soup and curried potatoes and nothing to bring for lunch the next day!

3 types of noodles...

This month has been one of little inspirations. Partly because I have been so busy baking that I didn't have much time to think about food. So, I just relied on good old noodles. Here, there are three types of noodles that I made. Somehow noodles work because it is a one dish meal with all the vegetables and carbohydrates that you need! 

This is a 'traditional' sort of yellow noodles with mock char siew, beans sprouts and chye sim. Too bad, home stoves are not hot enough to create the 'wok's breath'.

This was a lazy noodle dish using the non-fried instant noodles that comes without seasoning. I crumbled some tofu in it to give the feeling of scrambled egg. Made with yellow bell peppers and beans sprouts.
This was made with an egg plant / brinjal that I bought on a whim at Sheng Siong. Not knowing what to do and having to hide it from my husband who doesn't like brinjals, I sliced it thinly and added it to the noodles. Somehow it softened and absorbed the flavours well and hubby ate it all up! I suppose this is one way to fool children to eat their veges!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Roasted Beets!

After the success of the mashed potatoes, my brother requested that I repeat the same feat again! Since I did not have much ingredients at home except for two innocent looking beets, I decided to make some roasted rosemary beets with a serving of mashed potatoes and stir fried peas and enoki mushrooms (Yes, I know, what a weird combo!) The beets cut a pretty picture on the aluminum foil, the ruby red glistening in the light coating of olive oil. Both my brother and I enjoyed munching on it raw and I think it would have made quite a decent juice as well. However, after roasting, I felt that the it muted the sweetness and earthiness of the beets though. Next time, I will probably try cutting them into strips and stir frying them.

The Sambar that was not to be....

It had been sometime since I had sambar (a versatile Indian lentil curry that is used for just about any South Indian dish) and I was craving for some.... Since I did not have the right type of lentils but only the red lentils, I decided to just go ahead with it and try making the sambar. However, somehow, despite the long cooking time, the lentils did not disintegrate like they were suppose to. In the end, I was not left with sambar but a still as delicious tasting semi-globular lentil curry. With a side dish of stir fried spinach and rice, it made quite a decent meal. 

Vege Soup and Rice

About two weeks ago, we made a trip to the Pasir Panjang wholesale centre and bought some vegetables. We came across a vegetable that grew on a woody branch with dark green leaves. It also had thorns on it. The vendor was telling us that it is good for the eyes and so I decided to buy some and make a soup. To pair it off, I made some spicy fried tofu and cauliflower and broccoli stir fry.
The Meal

Spicy Tofu

The Vegetable Soup

Coconut-Vegetable Rice

One day, I suddenly got thinking of coconut rice. Traditionally, my mum makes a delicious yellow (from turmeric) coconut rice and serves it with a very good fish curry. The pairing of the spiciness from the curry and the creaminess from the rice is amazing. Using that as an inspiration, I made a coconut vegetable basmati rice. This way, I not only get my carbohydrates, I also get my nutrition from vegetables. For the 'heat' factor, I paired it with tofu sambal and since I had one brinjal sitting around, I sliced it and added into the sambal. I was very happy with the results, to say the least and it also ended up as lunch the next day for me!

Vegan Fried Carrot Cake

This was done in a rush as we had to go for a RC meeting. But knowing that it will end late and we will be dying of hunger by then, I quickly put together a fried carrot cake minus the egg. The ingredients are really simple  - lots of minced garlic, chilli paste, chye poh (preserved vegetable), store bought carrot cake, tiny bit of soy sauce and lots of spring onions. Just saute it in the arrangement given. Surprisingly, even my picky non-veg brother liked it! And we did not even miss the egg that comes with it traditionally... 

I suppose to increase the nutritional value, I might consider adding some bean sprouts and carrots in it (Of cos' hubby will hate me if I do that!)

Just a simple hearty noodle dish

Made with bean sprouts, shitake mushrooms, cabbage and lightly fried bean curd in a sauce made from chilli and garlic paste with lemongrass and onions. Yum! As my hubby would say 'This is good stuff!"

Weekend of Birthday Cakes

It just happened... Suddenly I was swarmed with last minute orders for birthday cakes! E wanted a very chocolatey cake and I made her one with 60% chocolate mousse cake with roasted almonds for the coating. So far, I think it is the prettiest cake I have made. :)
And I received a very last minute order from G, a birthday cake for himself and his gf. He wanted something fruity and I made him a mango cake with a nice mango pudding in the middle and fresh mango on top. Of cos' I think there is still some way to go to improve on my cake decorating skill! 

Engage to be Engaged Ceremony Order

Cinnamon Rolls - One tray is for hubby!

Marble Cake, fresh out of the oven!

Marble cake, packed in boxes

This was for S' and J's 'engage to be engaged' ceremony. Essentially, it is sort of a confirmation that the couple will be getting engaged sometime in the future. J had became a vegan in August and hence he wants all food in his functions to be vegan. So both sides ordered some marble cakes, cinnamon rolls and cupcakes. They are a very sweet pair and I wish them all the very best!