Thursday, January 17, 2008

Make Your Own Pizza Night!

It began with another one of my sister's school projects. Except this time, instead of having to prepare a Sumerian feast, she was doing a project that was monitoring mold growth on cheese. Why does she always choose the foodie projects? Maybe she's more like me than I thought :P Anywho, her project required the buying of mozzarella, gouda and cheddar cheese. She only needed to use a small portion of the cheese-block and so we were left with a mound of cheese and no idea of what to do with it.
I decided that the family could do with a "Make-your-own Pizza Night" and I was right (I usually am)... After I announced that we would be preparing our own pizza I remembered that I would then have to face my baking enemy... YEAST!
It seems that everytime I use yeast, it never rises properly. Either, I scald the poor thing until it dies and then I end up with a seriously dead/flat bread... or I get overly happy that my yeast is rising and then I let it go overboard (until it ferments to a sour state!). But this time, I was determined to get it right ...

The Yeast that rose to perfection!!!

After the dough was made, my family gathered around to make their own pizzas. They weren't the prettiest things you've ever seen, but they sure where delicious looking. We're a pretty healthy family and the toppings totally reflected that...

The ugly, but healthy pizza... yum

The pizza dough recipe came from, and made enough for 6 individual pizzas. After I made those, I had a small mound of dough left over and decided to be asian. I made two small pizza buns, like those found at my favorite supermarket T&T (see the picture at the top). All-in-all, pizza night was a success and all were satisfied with their personalized meals. Sadly, the cheese still lingered... what would we do? I wonder if the cheese will keep until the Superbowl... if so, I guess we'll be having nachos!

What's that Ingredient?

My sister loves blueberries... and I love random foods that I find at the supermarket. This one intrigued me the most, so I bought it :P I saw the box and was immediately drawn towards it. It looked like a toothpaste box, and the tube seriously looks like toothpaste. It's some sort of funky blueberry jam/paste/compote/whatever... well, whatever it is, my sister loves it on toast. I think that we'll put off using it for what the box suggests... eating with meat YUCK!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pear Muffins

I had done it again... bought some food in bulk. This time, it was a bag-o-pears... Anjou pears to be precise. My dad and I were the only ones who enjoy the soft and plump Anjou pear, my mom likes the more crisp Chinese pear. So, once again, I was left with a plethora of "I don't know what to do with" left-over pears. I scoured the internet looking for the perfect recipe... I came across a couple interesting ones such as the "Caramelized Leek, Anjou Pear and Blue Cheese Pizza"... hmm, maybe if I were more adventurous I would try that one out. So I simply stuck to a classic, the Pear Muffin.

Wish I could take the credit for this lovely pear recipe but it came from I made a couple variations to the recipe; first I added in a mixture of pumpkin, sunflower and squash seeds (instead of the walnuts which my sister is allergic to), then I added in a handful of oatmeal and 1/4 cup of bran. I love my muffins all fiber-licious... if you do too, these changes will make your day!

I loved these muffins, and so did my dad... my sister said that she still didn't like pears, even if they were hidden in a cooked, sugary batter :( but my mom really enjoyed them. I think she's warming up to the true pear... the mushy and not crunchy one.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sumerian Cooking

Who knew that Sumerians, the ancient civilaztion of Mesopotamia in the third millenia, were such amazing chefs? I sure didn't...Well the jist of it is that my sister had a Sumer project that she had left until the last minute to complete. Luckily she chose the topic of Sumerian food... or shall I say, "lucky for her that her sister is a foodie :P" I was psyched to whip up some interesting cuisine from the ancient days of Mesopotamia. I had to scour the internet in order to find appropriate recipes... and let me tell you, it was not easy! But here's what we came up with:

Barley Flour Flat-bread: Apparently, the Sumerian's livelihood was barley wheat. They used if for everything!

Date Cookies: the Sumerian's also relied on dates as their number one fruit. These cookies were amazingly flavorful and my sister said her class gobbled them up like... well, cookies!

We also made a delicious porridge using barley flour, but I forgot to take a pic. I know, I'm an aweful person. But it basically looked like any old porridge, although it tasted quite different.

The last-minute family cook-off was so much fun. Mom and I dashed out to the nearest store in search of ingredients... BTW who knew that barley flour was easier to find than leeks? We brought the ingredients home and began to cook up a storm. My sisters helped mix the flatbread dough, dad made the porridge, while mom and I worked on the cookies. I hope we get to do this sometime soon.

The recipes for the barley porridge and barley flatbread can be found HERE; the recipe for the date cookies can be found HERE

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Chwee Kueh

Hmm... I've been thinking that it's about time I got back to my nonya roots. So today I decided to make somemore kueh. So far, I can't decide if I like the sweet or savory kueh better... but it's a close call. Thought I would attempt a new recipe (I'm adventurous that way) and here's what I came up with.

Chwee Kueh

- 1 3/4 cup rice flour
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 tsp chicken broth granules (or salt)
- scant 3 cups water
- 2 tbsp oil


- 1 cup chai poh (pickled radish)
- 50g dried scrimps, chopped
- 5 tbsp oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 chinese mushrooms, soaked and chopped (optional)
- spoonful of belacan (optional)


1. Mix together the 2 flours and chicken broth granules.
2. Slowly mix in the half of the water and ensure that no lumps form. Boil the remaining water and slowly add it to the flour mixture, until it thickens. Stir in the oil, until well incorporated.
3. Grease chwee kueh molds and place in steamer, on high, for 5 minutes. Pour in the rice flour mixture and steam for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat oil in frying pan and fry garlic until fragrant. Add in the shrimp, chai poh and mushroom (if using).
5. Continue to fry until the mixture becomes dry. Then finally add the belacan (if using) and the sugar.
6. For assembly: unmold the rice cakes onto a plate and top with the filling mixture. Serve hot.

Lunch-time Delight: Random Rice

Another lunch-time rolls around and I am completely unsure of what to make for myself. Usually this doesn't matter, because I can just microwave leftovers and eat whatever. But since school's not in session, my sisters are home with me and I must prepare for them a fine meal with all the ingredients necessary to nourish young growing girls. Hmm... let's see... I felt really ambitious, but knew that I couldn't screw this up. Kids can be very finicky sometimes and you have to tailor your food to their tastebuds. And so I settled on a variation of mexican red-rice... an asian variation... Sweet-'n- Sour Rice (that's red)!

Sweet-'n- Sour Rice

- 4 cups of leftover, steamed white rice
- 2 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/3 cup citrus juice (I couldn't find orange or pineapple, so I used peach :P)
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce (or more to taste)
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 cup frozen vegetables
- 1 chicken breast, grilled and chopped


1. Heat vegetable oil in a deep-sided, non-stick frying pan and add in garlic. Fry over medium heat until fragrant. Add onions, but don't let them reach the transluscent stage.
2. Add in the ketchup, soy sauce, juice, wocestershire sauce and heat through.
3. Add in the rice, breaking up any large chunks. Add in the vegetables and the chopped chicken. Continue to fry over medium heat for 3 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and serve.

The prep time actually took longer than the cooking time. I had made enough rice for our lunch, while still having a ton left over. Needless to say, this dish was a hit... with my sisters and my parents. I'm not sure what they liked about it, only that they said it was really good. When they asked me what the dish was called I couldn't think of a good name for it, so I replied "random rice". It truly was, I just added a ton of ingredients that I knew tasted good together and voila! Enjoy

Cinnamon Buns

Breakfast-time and what to do? Well, when you've gotten your cinnamon dough ready the night before there really isn't much to do! Freshly baked cinnamon buns are one of the best breakfasts out there. The smell of the bubbly cinnamony mixture coming out of the oven just makes me want to jump up and down and scream "Good morning world!"

Cinnamon Buns

- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup butter
- One quantity of cream cheese icing or apricot jam


1. Combing milk and butter in a saucepan and heat until butter melts. Add in water and remove mixture from heat.
2. Combine sugar, salt, flour and yeast in a separate bowl.
3. Gradually add the warm (but not scalding) liquid mixture to the flour mixture, stirring continually.
NOTE: if liquid is too hot, the yeast may be killed and fermenting will be impossible.
4. Knead together the dough, just until it comes together. Place dough in a greased bowl and let rest in a warm location for 1hr.
5. Roll out the dough into a long rectangular shape. Spread dough with butter and sprinkle on the combined brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
6. Roll dough, in a swiss-roll like fashion, and slice the log into rolls. Let rest for 30minutes.
7. Place rolls on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cream-cheese Icing

Mix together 1/3 cup cream cheese, 4 tbsp of butter, 1/2 tsp of vanilla and 1 1/2 cup of icing sugar until well combined. Spread on cinnamon buns.

My friend, who works at a bakery, actually helped me make these. She suggested that we top half of the buns with apricot jam... I was skeptical, but they were actually really tasty.

Here are the ones with the delightful and classic cream-cheese icing.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Back to Basics: The GORP Cookie

I can't believe how difficult it was to find the perfect cookie recipe. There are just so many out there that it was hard to make up my mind. Chocolate chip? White chocolate chip macadamia nut? Double Chocolate chip? Chocolate chip with raisins or oatmeal? With all the ingredients in the world how could one possibly pick just one to make the perfect cookie? All right, so my idea isn't original, as the GORP cookie already exists... and people have been sticking random ingredients into their cooking since the beginning of existence, but here is my contribution.

Jo's GORP Cookie (yields 38)

- 125g butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups plain flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 3 oz milk chocolate, broken into chunks
- 3 oz white chocolate, broken into chunks
- a handful or raisins (optional) <-- sadly, I'm the only one in my family who likes them


1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Place butter, vanilla and sugar in bowl and beat until creamy.
3. Beat in eggs, then stir in flour, baking powder, coconut, oats and chocolate.
4. Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls, placing them on baking trays. Press down lightly and allow room for cookies to spread.
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

They turned out a little smaller than I'd hoped for, and didn't spread out all that much. They were like little nuggets of goodness that were delightfully soft. My sisters grabbed them by the handful and gobbled them down, guess they didn't mind that I had just randomly added ingredients.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kam Ding

Rating: *** 1/2 out of *****

Another sunny afternoon, another chance to get out there and go to dim-sum! My favorite meal time experience. This time we went to another little known, but very good dim sum restaurant in Coquitlam. Man, it seems like Coquitlam is where it's at, if you're looking for good Southeast Asian or Authentic Chinese food. We were first introduced this this restaurant by some friends at Bible Study. They had invited the entire Bible Study group to go out for a meal here following one of our group camping trips. And after eating camp food for the last week, we were more than ready to dig into some good ol' dim sum. This time however, we were just ready to savour the delicious dishes...

We always order the beef cheong fun, my sisters don't particularly enjoy the meat filling... but they adore the "skin".

My parents and I shared these scallop har gow... mmmm good.

These prawn-stuffed wintermelon sections were really good. The slightly sweet melon contrasted but also enhanced the prawns flavour.

The full spread (from the top) minced-chicken sticky rice, prawn-stuffed wintermelon, fungzhao, and the scallop har gow.

Steamed beef tripe and curried squid... two more essential dishes whenever we dine out for dim sum.

My sisters love their jook, almost as much as they love the one from Hon's. I love their generous helping of spring onions and the you tiao.

The bad thing about this restaurant is that they don't take reservations. First-come first serve :( If you get their early enough, you can find a seat quickly and the bus-people try to move as quickly as possible. The restaurant is quite small, so if it's busy you may be waiting for 30-40 minutes for a table... unless you are a party of two and don't mind sharing a table with random strangers. Luckily we knew all of this information before-hand, and this way we got a seat within 10minutes. With the hustle-and-bustle of this place, the service is very good and the waitresses are very attentive. I do recommend you go to Kam Ding at least once.

Kam Ding

3021 Anson Avenue, Coquitlam

Chocolate Soufflés

I wasn't quite sure what recipe would be good to ring in the New Year with, but I was sure that it would have to be a recipe that I had never attempted before. A cake perhaps? Naw, we actually have a lot of baked goods hanging around our house right now... and my mom doesn't like food to go to waste, so she said that I couldn't make anything too big. Hmmm... this narrowed down my options as there are only a couple recipes that you can prepare in an individual-style. Molten chocolate cake? Hmm... not too great for New Year's resolutions :P How about something a little bit lighter? Yeah... and I wanted to use my ramekins... what's chocolatey, "light" and uses ramekins? Chocolate Soufflé! Hooray, I've decided on a recipe.
Immediately after cooking the souffles had risen almost two inches! But very quickly, the souffles began to fall. I quickly served up the chocolatey treats and had my family wishing for more. They found the texture to be very velvety and the soufflés to be very filling. Although they may look light, these little concoctions will fill you up very quickly. I got the recipe from

I laughed after removing the foil from this baby, one side rose and the other side didn't. My youngest sister wanted this one... guess she didn't mind that it was horridly mishapen

All-in-all, the souffled turned out great. I would have liked them to rise and stay risen a little longer, maybe next time I'll try a recipe that uses more egg whites than yolks. Besides that, they were a great way to kick off the New Year in style. After eating the soufflés my family kicked back and relaxed by playing mahjong and counting down until 2008.