Friday, 27 February 2009


This recipe for MADEIRA CAKE works every time I make it and it is so easy too. I usually make MADEIRA CAKE for birthday cakes as it is easy to work with (it is firm, as oppose to sponge cakes) when using BUTTER or royal icing. I made this cake for my son’s birthday recently.

Ingredients – for 18 cm square tin or 20 cm round tin

350 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g softened margarine (I used softened butter)
250g caster sugar
4 xl eggs – beaten
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice


Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease the tin and line the tin with double thickness of greaseproof/baking paper. Grease the paper and set the tin aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add in the sugar; mix well with a wooden spoon.

Now add in the margarine/butter, eggs and lemon juice. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Now beat the mixture, either using the wooden spoon, vigorously for two mins or one minute using electric beaters on medium speed.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. To test if baked, press lightly in the middle. If the cake springs back, it is baked. Or alternatively, test by inserting skewer in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins and then turn onto a wire rack. Remove the lining paper and leave to cool. Iced with royal icing or butter icing, such as my BUTTER ICING.


The creamy and silky smoothness of this BUTTER ICING is a hit in my house. Use this recipe to cover sides and tops of cakes, cup cakes or muffins; or to pipe designs. I used 1 ½ measurements to coat the top and sides of my PERFECT MADEIRA CAKE and to pipe the motifs.

Ingredients – for tops and sides of an 18 cm square cake or 20 cm round tin
75 g softened butter
225 g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 3 tbsp milk


Put all ingredients but only 1 tbsp of the milk in a bowl. Blend well and using a wooden spoon or electric beaters, beat until light, smooth and fluffy, adding the extra tbsp of milk if required.


CHOCOLATE: Blend 1 tbsp cocoa powder with 1 tbsp hot water. Allow to cool before beating with the icing. Use in conjunction with the vanilla and milk.

COFFEE: Blend 2 tsp instant coffee with 1 tbsp hot water. Allow to cool before beating with the icing.Use in conjunction with the vanilla and milk.

LEMON/ORANGE/LIME: Substitute the VANILLA EXTRACT and MILK with 2 tsp of LEMON/ORANGE/LIME jest and 2 tbsp of juice.


He didn't like the casserole,

And he didn't like my cake.

He said my biscuits were too hard,

Not like his mother used to make.

I didn't perk the coffee right,

He didn't like the stew.

I didn't mend his socks,

The way his mother used to do.

I pondered for an answer……

I was looking for a clue.

Then I turned around and smacked him...

Just like his mother used to do!!!

PS: I do not condone violence of any kind. Please treat this as what it is intended to be – a joke only.

Thursday, 26 February 2009


I got the original recipe from SIS UMMI’S Blog but have changed the quantities of her recipe to compensate for the amount of seafood and meat that I used. She used prawns and squid in her recipe but as Mr G had made a fresh batch of CHINESE BBQ PORK or CHAR SIEW (click on the link for my recipe), I decided to add some of it to the dish too. You don’t have to add the CHAR SIEW.

Here’s how I made mine.


500 g small squid – cleaned and cut into rings
12 large green prawns
250 g sliced CHAR SIEW (click for my post on CHAR SIEW)
500 g ‘Hard’ vegetables of choice – I used snow peas, baby corn, French beans and carrots
1 large onion – sliced
4 cloves garlic – minced
Thumb size ginger – sliced fine
2 large red chillies – sliced
10 birds eye chillies – smashed slightly (I used 5 cayenne chillies)
3 stalks lemon grass – cut into three and bottom part smashed
Mix together in a measuring cup or bowl – 5 tbsp each of oyster sauce, chilli sauce (I used Yeo’s) and tomato sauce
4 full lime leaves – torn into pieces
1 tsp sugar – Optional
Salt to taste
Cooking oil


Blanch vegetables in boiling water for 1 min. Drain and set aside.

Heat 2 to 3 tbsp oil in a wok and fry the garlic, ginger and onion until fragrant (1 min or so). Add in the chillies and lemon grass and fry for another 2 minutes or so.

Add in the blended sauces, followed by the squid and prawns. Cook for two mins and add in the vegetables and CHAR SIEW. When the seafood and vegetables are nearly done, add seasoning and lime leaves. You may add some water here (1/4 to 1/2 a cup) if you want extra gravy.

Check seasoning, add in sliced chillies, turn off heat and serve immediately with steaming boiled rice. Yum yum!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Thank you so much to my dear friend Hema of Adlak's Kitchen for these awards. I am truly humbled dear. Once again, thank you.

So, in true award tradition, I would like to pass on the "Super Duper Chef" and "You're a Sweet Heart" awards to:

Kitchen Flavours/Yummy Food
Veg Inspirations
Salam Dua Benua
Home Sweet Home
Inahar's Cooking Time
My Small Kitchen
Somebody Watching Me
Zuraida's Recipe Collection
Salt and Turmeric
Dapur Tanpa Sempadan
Pure Glutton
My Kitchen Snippets
Kedai Hamburg
Dora Almond
Suhana's Sweet and Savoury
Tastes of Home
Ujwal's Kitchlab
Srikar's Kitchen

Enjoy your awards.



A woman was looking in a full length mirror when her husband asked what she'd like for her birthday.

"I'd love to be eight again" she sighed.

On the morning of her birthday he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Coco Pops and then took her off to the local theme park.

What a Day!

He put her on every ride in the park:
* The Death Slide
* The Wall of Fear
* The Screaming Monster Roller Coaster

Five hours later she staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. Right away they journeyed to a McDonalds where her loving husband ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a refreshing chocolate milk shake.

Then it was off to the movies: the latest Star Wars epic, a hot dog, popcorn, all the Coke she could drink, her favourite lolly and M&Ms.

What a fabulous adventure!

Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed onto the bed exhausted. He leaned over his precious wife with a big smile and lovingly asked "Well dear, what was it like being eight again?"

Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed. "I meant my dress size, you tw*t"

The moral of this story: Even when a man is listening, he's still gonna get it wrong. And even IF a woman is wrong, she’ll never admit it!!!


When everyone on earth was dead and waiting to enter Paradise, God appeared and said, 'I want the men to make two lines. One line for the men who were true heads of their household, and the other line for the men who were dominated by their women. I want all the women to report to St. Peter.'

Soon, the women were gone and there were two lines of men.

The line of the men who were dominated by their wives was 100 miles long and in the line of men who truly were heads of their household, there was only one man.

God said, 'You men should be ashamed of yourselves, I created you to be the head of your household! 'You have been disobedient and have not fulfilled your purpose! 'Of all of you, only one obeyed. Learn from him.'

God turned to the one man, 'How did you manage to be the only one in this line?'

The man replied, 'My wife told me to stand here.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


A milky variation to the ROSE SYRUP DRINK where fresh milk or condensed milk and in some instances, soda water is added. You will need to make the ROSE SYRUP in advance (see the recipe HERE) and then assemble the drink. Here’s what you'll need to make this drink.


ROSE SYRUP – see recipe HERE
Warm boiled water
Sweetened condensed milk
or fresh cold milk
A minute pinch of salt - optional
Soda water - optional

Method – to make a glass

Version 1

In a glass, dilute 2 to 3 tsps of condensed milk in ¼ glass of warm water. Add about a tbsp (or to taste) of the rose syrup, plenty of ice and top with water or a combination of water and soda water. If adding soda water, add a few grains of salt to the drink. Stir and serve.

Version 2

Add 1 tbsp of the rose syrup into a glass. Top with fresh milk, stir, add in ice cubes and serve.



AIR BANDUNG is the name of a popular drink in Malaysia and Singapore consisting of milk, flavoured with rose cordial, with gives it its distinctive pink colour. The drink is said to have originated during the British colonial days of Singapore.

According to lore, the drink was concocted by an Englishman during his stay in Singapore. He has a distaste of tea, to which he is reputed to have said, during an afternoon tea session with the British officials as "foul-smelling and foul-tasting as dung".

The story continues that in his wandering around Singapore, he came across an Indian drink made of rose extract. The drink consisted of roses dipped in small amounts of water mixed with some spices in water. According to him, when he tried mixing the water with black tea, it merely diluted it and the foul smell still remained. However, he found that when he mixed it with milk tea and sugar, the milk ‘thickened’ the drink and the sugar removed the foul taste. When his colleagues asked what he was drinking, he replied, ‘Banned Dung’, to which his colleagues thought was the mispronunciation of a city in West Java - Bandung (which he had visited on a missionary mission). Hence, the name AIR BANDUNG (‘air’, pronounced ‘ah’ ‘ir’ meaning water or drink in Malay).

In later years, street vendors added red food colouring (which made the drink pink when milk is added) to attract buyers as consumers were confusing the drink with teh tarik, a frothy milk tea, unique to Malaysia and Singapore (which looks like a chai latte). However, these days, AIR BANDUNG only comes in pink.

Monday, 23 February 2009


Congratulations to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE for receiving the best picture and best director Oscars at the 81st Academy Awards held today. Well done, Danny Boyle. To think that this movie was going straight to DVDs cos it had problems with distribution!!! What a sacrilege if it had.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won eight of them, the most for any film for that year. It also won five Critics' Choice Awards, four Golden Globes, and seven BAFTA Awards, including Best Film.

A very special congrats to the Indian Film Industry too, with two of its prodigies, Resul Pookutty and AR Rahman, bagging three awards at the ceremony. The awards are the first for the Indian Film Industry.

AR Rahman, the composer of the soundtrack of the movie, took home two golden statuettes, and Resul Pookutty, the Bollywood sound engineer, one, as part of the winning sound mixing team.

The star for India was definitely AR Rahman, known as the Mozart of Madras, who picked up the Oscar for best original score before scooping the best song award moments later.

He was nominated for two songs under the best song category - Oh Saaya and Jai Ho, which he sang during the Oscar ceremony. Jai Ho took home the coverted price. Check out this YOUTUBE clip from a very talented mixer who has combined both of Rahman's songs in his clip.

If you haven't already watched SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, I urge you to catch this movie. You can also check out my review of the movie SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

A well deserved award too for Heath Ledger for his role as the Joker in the movie DARK KNIGHT. He was the only Australian to win an award tonight and one of two actors, both of which Australians (the other being Peter Finch), to win an award posthumously. You will be remembered.

PS: In my opinion, he should have won the Oscar for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN too.

I should also mention Kate Winslet's win for Best Actress ~ a very worthy recipient. After 6 nominations, the coveted Oscar was finally hers. You go girrrl!

Sunday, 22 February 2009


A drink synonymous to Malaysia, especially for the Malay community and is one of the main ingredients to make another famous Malaysian drink, ROSE SYRUP AND MILK DRINK or AIR BANDUNG and an equally famous dessert, AIS KACANG (shaved ice with red beans).

If you are in Malaysia, you can buy this syrup ready made, in cordial form - all you have to do is dilute it. I however have never found it in Canberra except for a Thai version of this cordial, which tastes nothing like the Malaysian version.

Having said that, this is so easy to make from scratch. In fact, it turns out to be so much cheaper too; except you have to find the time to make it!!!

Ingredients to make the cordial

3 cups sugar
4 to 5 cups water (depending on how thick you want your syrup)
Few drops of cochineal (dark red) food colouring (I ran out of cochineal and substituted with pillar red….to be honest, I rather like the cochineal)
½ tsp rose essence (optional) (see my GLOSSARY post on ROSE WATER and ROSE ESSENCE)
2 pandan leaves – tied in a knot (see my GLOSSARY post on PANDANUS)


Put all ingredients in a clean pot (make sure that there are no traces of yesterday’s meal or smell still in it) and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 mins or until the syrup has thicken.

Leave to cool for 5 mins and whilst still warm, sieve into a jug /bottle to cool and when at room temperature, refrigerate until required.

To make the drink, dilute the cordial, according to your taste with cold water. Add ice cubes for a refreshing cool drink, perfect for summer. If using it to make AIS KACANG, pour over the shaved ice, undiluted.

I will post the recipes for AIR BANDUNG and AIS KACANG in the coming days.

Friday, 20 February 2009


I first became “intrigued” with Chianti after watching the famous scene (see the YOUTUBE clip below) from ‘Silence of the Lambs’ where Anthony Hopkins (who played the psycho cannibal Dr Hannibal Lecter) said to Jodie Foster, “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice CHIANTI”. I can now see why Dr Lecter likes his Chianti …. yes, I am only talking about the Chianti!

The tangy taste of Chianti in this granita is amplified with the sweetness and tartness of the raspberries – a wonderful combination and agreed by my dinner guests when I served this as a dessert. Use a Chianti that you enjoy drinking as the wine flavour is prominent in this refreshing icy dessert. A great way to finish off a dinner party and the beauty is, it can be made several days ahead.

Ingredients – serves 6 to 12 (depending on granita serving size)

*400ml good quality Chianti (see my GLOSSARY post on CHIANTI)
*120ml water
*100g caster sugar
*½ tbsp liquid glucose
*2 strips lemon rind
200g frozen raspberries
Good quality vanilla ice cream – to serve


Place all the * ingredients in a small stainless saucepan and simmer over high heat for 4 mins. Cool slightly and strain through a fine sieve into a shallow 30cm x 15cm dish. Scatter over raspberries.

Freeze for 4 to 6 hours then use a fork to break up the granita. Return dish to the freezer until ready to serve. Keeps well in the freezer for up to a week.

Chill serving glasses in the freezer for 20 mins. Place a scoop of ice cream in each glass and top with the granita. Serve immediately.


Chianti [Pronounced kee-an-tee] is a famous red wine of Italy, which takes its name from a traditional region of Tuscany where it is produced. It used to be easily identified by its squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called fiasco ("flask"; pl. fiaschi). However, the fiasco is only used by a few wine makers now and most Chianti is bottled in traditionally shaped wine bottles.

Low-end Chianti is fairly inexpensive, with basic Chianti running less than $10 for a bottle. More sophisticated Chiantis, however, are made and sold at substantially higher prices. Therefore, in the case of Chiantis, price is a reflection of quality. Chianti is generally consumed at room (technically "cellar") temperature, like most other red wines.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


This is my favourite way of cooking fried rice. The different textures and flavours of the soy sauces, in my opinion, enhance the taste of the rice. If you can’t find caramel soy sauce, substitute it with the Indonesian Kecap Manis.

Cook your rice at least six hours, preferably overnight, before making this dish and spread it out on a tray. I find a large roasting pan or large cookie tray to work well here. Just before cooking, add pepper and salt to the rice that is on the tray and mix well. This way, your pepper and salt will be evenly distributed before you add the rice to the wok. Another thing - make sure that your rice is not lumpy when you add it to the cooking process.

The beauty of cooking fried rice is that you can put anything you like in it, in terms of meat or seafood, and vegetables. All the vegetables that went into this fried rice (yes the garlic too) came from our garden. There’s nothing nicer than eating freshly picked vegetables, out of your own garden, I say. A big thumbs up to Mr G and his veggie patch!


Ingredients – for 6

4 cups of uncooked rice – cook according to method and left to cool
Meat or seafood of choice – I used 300g cooked prawns and 300g diced ham
Vegetables of choice – I used 2 large diced carrots, large handful of snow peas, 200g of sliced French beans and a handful of baby corn (sliced at an angle)
1 tsp salt and pepper to taste – I mixed this into the rice before frying. Go easy on the salt as the soy sauces will already be salty
4 cloves garlic – minced
2 large spring onions – finely sliced
2 to 4 red chillies – finely sliced (I used red cayenne chillies)
4 tbsp or to taste light soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp or to taste caramel or sweet soy sauce
2 tsp minced chillies – optional (I would put this in if I did not make any SAMBAL BELACHAN WITH KAFFIR LIME LEAVES to accompany the dish. As I did, I omitted this ingredient)
Oil for sautéing
Cucumber - sliced (optional)


Heat the oil in a large wok and sauté the garlic for 30 secs. Add in the carrots and French beans and cook until the carrots and beans are half cooked.

Next add in the ham and prawns and fry for 30 secs. Moisten with 1 tbsp of the light soy sauce and add in the baby corn, snow peas, sliced chillies and crushed chillies (if using). Cook for a minute.
To make it easier to distribute the meat/vegetables, lift out half of it into a bowl. Now add half of the rice into the wok.

Mix evenly and put half of all the sauces onto the rice. Mix well, ensuring that you cannot see any white bits of rice.

Now add the remainder vegetables, followed by the rice and the remainder of the sauces. Mix well and add more soy sauces if you prefer, depending on your preference, how deep you would like the colour of your fried rice to be. If you like it dark, add either more dark or caramel soy sauce, remembering that the dark soy sauce will not only give you a darker colour but could also make your fried rice saltier. I’d recommend using the caramel soy sauce to achieve the intense colour.

Garnish with the spring onions, lift and serve whilst still hot with cucumber slices, topped with FRIED EGG WITH CARAMEL SOY SAUCE and a side dish of SAMBAL BELACHAN WITH KAFFIR LIME LEAVES.


This is the essential Peranakan (Nyonya) and Malay sambal, without which a Nyonya or Malay dining table is totally naked. I used to love the sound of my neighbours’ mortar and pestle permeating through the walls of my house when I used to live in the army flats throughout Malaysia – it was a sign that lunch or dinner time was not too far away!!!!

In my opinion, the use of a food processor in making this dish is utterly sacrilegious!!! So invest your money, time and effort in a mortar and pestle, preferably in granite/stone.


1 tbsp shrimp paste (belachan) – toast on an open flame until crispy or wrap in foil and toast in a low oven for 5 mins (see my GLOSSARY post on SHRIMP PASTE)
5 red chillies and 5 red bird’s eye chillies – chopped (I used 10 red cayenne chillies – it was hot!!)
3 kaffir lime leaves – central vein discarded and finely sliced
1 tbsp hot boiled water
3 tbsp or to taste freshly squeezed lime juice – in this instance, do not use commercial lime juice….it spoils the taste of the sambal!
Pinch of salt


In a mortar and pestle, pound the chillies until very fine.

Add in the belachan and pound again until completely incorporated into the chilli paste and next, add in the lime leaves and pound again to blend. Mix in the hot water, lime juice and salt.

Serve immediately as an accompaniment to Nyonya or Malay dishes such as my FRIED RICE WITH THREE SOY SAUCES.


Shrimp paste is a common ingredient used in Southeast Asian and Southern Chinese cuisine. It is known as terasi in Indonesian, kapi in Thai, Khmer and Lao language, and belachan (also spelled belacan) in Malay.

It is made by fermenting ground shrimp, sun dried and then cut into fist-sized rectangular blocks. It is not to be used for immediate consumption - it has to be fully cooked as part of a dish, prior to consumption since it is raw. To many Westerners unfamiliar with this condiment, the smell can be extremely repulsive. It is however an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Shrimp paste can be found in most meals in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is often an ingredient in dipping sauce for fish or vegetables.

Belacan, the Malaysian variety of shrimp paste, is prepared from fresh tiny shrimp of a species known as geragau in Malay. These are mashed into a paste and buried for several months. The fermented shrimp are then dug up, fried and hard-pressed into cakes.

Belacan is used as an ingredient in many dishes, or eaten on its own with rice. A common preparation is sambal belacan. There are many variations of this dish – it can be made with or without cooking the mixture. One method is by mixing toasted belacan with fresh chillies, minced garlic, shallot paste and sugar and then fried. The aroma from the frying mixture can be unpalatable to Westerners who have not become accustomed to it, but is an absolute delight to the Asian connoisseur.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


I first came across this method of cooking fried eggs when the Makcik (Auntie in English… Malaysia, we have the tendency to call anyone that is much older than us as Auntie or Uncle as a sign of respect….it’s like calling someone Mr or Mrs but without the formality……so we tend to have lots of ‘relatives’ who actually are not even related to us!!!) at my school canteen (when I was studying at the Sultan Abdul Hamid College in Alor Star, Malaysia) used to sell this. Coupled with her fish curry… was to die for. Such a simple dish but oh so nice. Don’t take my word for it…..have a go!

NB: The use of a wok or a small ‘kadai’ (Indian wok) is essential to cook this as the egg needs to be immersed in lots of oil. If you use a frying pan, choose the smallest size possible and you will need plenty of oil.


½ to 1 tsp of Caramel or Sweet soy sauce per egg
½ to 1 cup veg oil


Heat the oil in a wok/kadai until very hot. Carefully crack the egg into the oil, making sure you that do not break the yolk in the process.

Drizzle a tsp of the Caramel or Sweet soy sauce over the egg. Using a slotted egg slide, carefully flick the hot oil over the top of the egg. Turn the fire down to medium heat at this stage. DO NOT at any stage, turn/flip the egg over.

If you like your yolk runny, lift when all the translucent egg white has turned true white (if it is translucent, the whites are not yet cooked) but the yolk is still wobbly in the middle. If you like your yolk well cooked, keep on ‘bathing’ the egg with the oil until the yolk has hardened.

Lift and drain on paper towels and serve as desired. Goes well with baked beans, fish curries or fried rice such as my FRIED RICE WITH THREE SOY SAUCES.

NB: Do not throw out the left over oil in the wok. You can keep it to fry more eggs or for use in other cooking. I normally use it to stir fry my vegies.


A man's as miserable as he thinks he is!

~ Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)

NB: I know I am.....I have the flu!

Monday, 16 February 2009


My eldest daughter made these shortbread (yes, she can cook and bake when she chooses to, which is not very often!!!) and they are really yummy and quite easy to make.

Mummy has been quite sick for the last few days (I am just very run down and have been prone to every bug that has been ‘travelling’ in the office and what the kids have brought home from school) and so, the kids have had to fend for themselves this past week or so. Anyway, didn’t Miss KG do a good job???

FYI: SPECULAAS is a type of shortcrust biscuit (cookie), traditionally baked for consumption on St Nicholas' Day Eve in Belgium (December 6) and the Netherlands (December 5). In the US and Australia, SPECULAAS are often sold as Dutch Windmill cookies.


2/3 cup flour
¼ tsp bi-carbonate of soda
2 tsp SPECULAAS spice (see SPECULAAS spice mix recipe below)
1/3 cup brown sugar
80 gm butter
3 tsp milk
Blanched almond slices

SPECULAAS Spice mix: Mix together the following ground/powdered spices

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cloves
¼ tsp aniseed


Sift flour, bi-carbonate of soda and spices into a bowl. Mix in the brown sugar.

Rub in butter and gradually add in the milk and knead the dough lightly.

Either press into a lightly greased baking tray or roll out into biscuits. It should be about ¼ to ½ cm thick only.

Decorate with the almond slices and bake in moderate oven (180° C) for approximately 12 to 15 mins. If you have pressed the dough into a baking tin, immediately cut into squares and allow to cool. If you have rolled them out into biscuits, lift onto wire rack. Serve with coffee or tea.

Saturday, 14 February 2009


Life without love......
is like a tree without blossom and fruit.....
~ Khalil Gibran

Happy Valentine's Day to my darling kids (and doggy), Mr G, TW, J-A R, HK, my family and all my friends and fellow bloggers who have helped fill my 'tree' with abundant blossoms and fruits.

Love ya all.