Sunday, December 6, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cake 1

I have been wanting to make Molten Chocolate Cake or Lava cake for awhile now. Over a period of time, I have collected and lost numerous recipes. So what's new, right? Just before Thanksgiving my cousin in Malaysia kindly gave me the recipe she uses - I Spy the appreciative comments on Facebook by her friends and asked for it. Of course, in real life, on Thanksgiving Eve, I am hunting for a recipe and forgets the one she gives me! This is one adapted from Bona Appetite Magazine a few year back.

I plan to try all the recipes and rate them. A talented young baker, daughter of my good friend C gave me two of the recipe she uses. All I know, boys come running when she makes them.....must be good, me thinks!

For now, the Bona Appetite recipe. I like this ease of this recipe. It is just one batter. In many recipe the lava/center is made separately. In the tradition of not letting things alone, I tried baking the prepared cake from frozen in addition to the original instructions for baking them freshly prepared and refrigerated. I think I like the texture of the bake from frozen. The convenience of having them in the freezer is tempting....

Frozen batter in ramekin, ready for instant gratification!

Makes 8

14 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cup (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 large eggs
6 large egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup all purpose flour

Generously butter eight 3/4 souffle dishes or ramekins. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler over simmering water until melted and smooth. Cool slightly. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Whisk in 3 cups of powdered sugar, then the chocolate mixture, then the flour. Transfer batter to prepared dishes, filling to the top and dividing equally. ( can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate)

Preheat oven to 425F. ( or 400F if using convection oven). Bake until batter has risen above the dish, top edges are dark brown, and centers are still soft and runny, about 15 minutes, or 18 minutes for refrigerated batter. Run a thin knive around the cake to loosen. Allow cake to rest 5 minutes. Using hot pad and holding the dish firmly, place plate gently on atop the cake and invert unto plate. Dust with powder sugar. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

For Frozen batter - preheat oven to 375F( 350F convection) Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Smoky Spiced Eggplant

1 1/2 to 2 lb eggplant ( I used a large italian eggplant)
1 red onion, chopped
1 garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced or grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
3-4 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 green chilli, chopped

You can prepare the eggplant in a number of ways. Scorch the eggplant over a medium flame or on the grill. Turning to make sure all sides are charred. Personally, on a work night, I just cut the eggplant in half, place eggplant on an oiled tray, cut side down and bake at 450F for 10 minute and then broil for another 5 minutes. This leaves me free to attend to other preparation work. Cool and then scrap out the flesh. Roughly chop the flesh.

While eggplant is in the oven, chop the onion, garlic and ginger. Slice and then dice the tomatoes. Half the chilli, deseed if desired and chop. Finely chop cilantro. Measure out the spices and salt.

Heat 2 tablespoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic mixture. Cook until lightly brown. Add all the spices, salt and pepper, stir to combine and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. Add chopped eggplant and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chopped coriander leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.

Serve this to accompany a meat or fish curry. Last night I served it with Dry Pork Curry.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dried Pork Curry

1 pork tenderloin, cubed.
4 inches fresh ginger, coarsely grated
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 pieces cinnamon sticks
10 cardamons
6 cloves
2 1/2 tablespoon ground chilli
2 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
a few spring curry leaves

Heat 2 tablespoon of oil over medium flame. Saute sliced onion until soft and translucent. Add garlic, cinnamon sticks, cracked peppercorns, curry leaves, the ground spices and salt. Saute until fragrant, stirring to combine and making sure it does not burn. Add 1- 2 more tablespoon of oil. Add pork tenderloin cubes. Stir to coat with spices and cook until cubes are brown. Stirring occasionally. Add 4 tablespoon of yogurt to the bottom of pan, deglazing the pan of the aromatics. Lower heat, cover and simmer until pork is tender and flavors develop, approximately 20 minutes. Remove cover and cook until most of gravy has evaporated.

Serve with rice and Smoky Spiced Eggplant

NB You can use beef, lamb or chicken in place of the pork.


The German adventure continues.......Schnitzel goes Eastern... becomes Katsudon!

Thanks to my talented German guest, I had a supply of cooked Pork Schnitzel in my fridge. Looking for an easy meal, I decided to use the schnitzel in place of pork katsu for Katsudon, a favorite Japanese meal of mine. I slice the schnitzel into 1/2 in strips. I laid the strips on top of the Katsudon sauce and served it over Japanese rice. Yum!

4 pork chop( or 4 precooked Schnitzel!)
Black pepper and salt for seasoning
2-3 tablespoon flour
1 egg, beaten
1-2 cups Panko breadcrumbs

Make shallow cuts along the rim of the pork chop to prevent curling during cooking. Pound the chops until thin. Lightly season both sides with black pepper and salt. Roll in flour, egg and lastly breadcrumbs. Fry until golden before turning over and browning the other side. Traditionally the chops are deep fried but I just pan fry mine.

Soup Stock
1 tablespoon sugar
100 ml Mirin
75-100 ml soya sauce
100 ml dashi (or chicken stock)

Put all liquid ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
NB. I used 100 ml soya sauce and found it too salty for my taste

Other ingredients
1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Saute onion slices until translucent. Pour over the liquid ingredients. Simmer until onion is soft. Put the sliced Tonkatsu (or Schnitzel) over the simmering sauce, keeping the shape of the Tonkatsu/ Schnitzel together. After a minute or so, pour beaten egg over the Tonkatsu/ Schnitzel. Cook until just set. Scoop one Tonkatsu/Schnitzel together with eggs and onions and gently placed over cooked rice. Top with more gravy if desired. Serve hot.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pomegranate Pork Loin

The beautiful pomegranate in my garden inspired me to make this dish. This is the first time I have cooked a rack of pork, or at least I have not done so in a very long time. It made a nice change from rack of lamb.I use pomegranate syrup you purchase at middle eastern stores instead of pomegranate juice. It gives a deeper flavor without spending time reducing.

I had purchase the most perfect baby potatoes the size of large marbles at Trader Joe. A simple salad of romaine lettuce, topped with avocado cubes and cherry tomatoes tossed in creamy dressing complete the meal. I think the next time, will top the salad with a sprinkling of the jewel like pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Marinade:

2 ounces peanut oil

4 dried red chiles

4 ounces garlic chopped

4 ounces sliced ginger

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 cups pomegranate juice or pomegranate syrup

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

6 ounces tamarind paste

4 ounces brown sugar

2 tablespoons coriander, toasted, crushed

2 ounces soy sauce

Prepare the pomegranate marinade. In a saute pan, heat the oil. Add the chilies and cook for 15 seconds. Transfer to a deep casserole, and add the garlic, ginger, green onions, pomegranate juice, rice wine vinegar, pepper, tamarind paste, brown sugar, coriander, and soy sauce.


Place the pork rack in the marinade and let it marinate it for 3 hours or up to 2 days, refrigerated.

Remove the pork from the marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the marinade into 2 portions. Reserve.

In a saute pan, over high heat, add the olive oil and 1 ounce of butter. Sear pork until golden. Transfer to a preheated 350-degree F. oven and roast for 20 minutes, basting with half of the reserved marinade every 5 minutes. Slice the chops apart and continue cooking until meat thermometer inserted into the chops reads 150 to 160 degrees F, another 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the remaining half marinade to a boil and reduce until thickened. Strain. Whisk in 4 ounces of butter. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Friday, November 20, 2009

German Butter Cake

Along came a German girl..... "what do you mean they don't sell vanilla sugar? What country are we in? I do not believe they don't have it!" She scans the shelves going up and down the row. Shopping for ingredients....... This all started because my dear husband wanted a butter cake. We looked at cake recipes all day but nothing satisfied her. Finally she downloads a recipe from the internet from a German website.

"I need a cup she says." I handed her a set of measuring cups which she rejected. "We do not use those." I suggested a tea cup which I have come across being used in some old British recipes. Again, she turns the idea down."...Ah, this is perfect." "You are kidding me," I retorted ," A MUG!" I questioned her but she is adamant - a mug it is.
"The recipe is from a Grandma site, old fashioned. It must be good, it has a 5 stars rating." We go with the flow since she is the one making the cake.

German Butter Cake
2 Pig mug flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 Pig Mug whipping cream (1 small carton)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 mug sugar

125 gm butter
4 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 mug sugar
200 gm sliced almond

Beat 1 mug sugar, 1 mug cream and 4 eggs together until light and fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. Add 2 mug all purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Beat until incorporated. Pour batter unto rimmed buttered cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 395 F/ 200C.

Meanwhile, melt 125 gm butter. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 1 cup sugar and 200 grams sliced almond. Stir to combine.

Remove cake from the oven. Spread topping in an even layer over the cake. Return cake back to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until cake is cooked and topping is golden brown. Cake should pull away from the sides.

I was amused by this baking experience. I was expecting precise measurement and techniques. Instead I had this German girl downloading a recipe from the internet and then using the very precise Pig Mug to measure the dry ingredients! She does not sift the flour with raising agent, instead dump everything into the mixer. Guess what? It worked! The cake was delicious.

I learn the importance of vanilla sugar in German baking. The best I can establish it comes in 1 1/2 inch plastic package and is use very often the way we use vanilla essence, to add vanilla flavor to bake goods. Butter cake in the US is not what butter cake is in Germany. This was more like a sponge cake. In this version of Butter cake, the only butter was in the topping. I also learnt that when she ask for a hand mixer, she is asking for a whisk! I truly enjoyed the time I spent with my girl E baking.... although she has a strange way of slicing a piece of cake, don't you think?

For those of you who read and understand German, here is the link to the recipe

It appears that there was the Pig Mug was equivalent to 1 cup in measurement.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


After returning the Hunter rainboots, I was on the lookout for rain boots for daughter L before the raining season begins in San Francisco. I came across these Tokidoki rain boots that I and L fell in love with. It was hard not to open the box until she came home...... but it was worth it, sort of......I mean I did not even open the brown carton it came in! I love the shoe box itself - so artistic. We were very excited. Unwrapping the tissue paper revealed a visual treat. I think they are so cuteeeeeee

Alas, we deduce that she needs a larger size so it is going back. I am ordering the larger size to come before her next weekend home. Who wouldn't want to come home when you have Tokidoki waiting for you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Past Animation

Son A's Bald Eagle project for science plus bonus project inside

The clay penguin complete with the snow slide and different balls of clay used for filming its movement frame by frame.

See the rolled up black and white ball representing penguin as rolled off the ice?

The Penguin - the Star!

While making an attempt to "fall clean" my junk/treasures I came across a shoe box that had been used by my son A, for his bald eagle science project. It had information pasted on the side along with a drawing of the bald eagle. It weighed a little heavy so I open it. Lo and behold, it held another glimpse of the past. This time of daughter L. We tend to re purpose stuff a lot in our house.

Inside the box was the penguin that L and her project partner Kimberly made for the Clay Animation class they took in 2003. I know I am great like that! Ha, ha, actually don't know where I saw this name today while rummaging/ c
leaning but there was a reference to the class and who L worked with. I searched everywhere but I cannot locate the CD containing the clay animation clips she did in 2003. I have the one from her Video editing class of that year and even the one from brother's clay animation class in 2005. Now the missing animation clip is going to haunt me. I did find a picture in my archive that now has me hunting for another missing item- a clay seal!! Yes, it was story about the seal and the penguin. The seal was not in the box!!! Thank God I had the good sense to take a photograph way back when.

The missing seal! Where could he be hiding or did I already decluttered him away?????

I just want to photograph the projects my children made before they disintegrate or are lost forever, which I hope is not the case here. Plus it is a great way to free up space and declutter. I better get to work then before all I have of those artistic endeavours are my failing memories.

PS. No, it is not all about daughter L. When I figure out how to take son's animation clips off the CD which contained the whole class's project I will blog about it. Regretfully, he does not have his clay animation figurine ( and NO I did not throw it away- he repurpose it almost immediately!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Too literal and too practical

The Silhouette SD and the box of supplies had been sitting in the guest room since it arrived sometime after 8/15. A little something for me to play with once daughter L was settled in college. Noticed the the theme here....? I have a BC and a AC going on here: Before College and At College. One day there will be AC will stand for after college. This reconfirms what I said earlier about the number of things on hold in my life while we were getting our girl off to college.

I was in my initial Amigurumi flush when I spied the Silhouette SD being offered as a one time value of $120 versus $200 to $260 depending on what came with it. Mine came fully loaded with 50 free designs, 25 gift card for more designs, 2 rolls of vinyl sheets, etching creme and some cardstock. I thought I might be able to cut sticky backed felt to decorate with Amigurumi with. Needless to say, I found it could not do that... but it could do a lot of other cool stuff. I can design graphic or text on the PC and the Shiloutte will cut it out.

Today, I installed and set up the machine. I load the paper as instructed and the LCD kept saying unload media. I tried different paper alignment, reinstalling the blade, you name it. Read online manuals. Tried and retried with same error message"unload media." READY TO RETURN IT. Finally, it dawns on me. Nothing is wrong. Duh!! The LCD was merely stating the option available to me"unload media" after I had cut out my design!!

I am thinking now it is kind of cool. Do I absolutelt need it? No. I had already printed out return label before testing it.... Hmm, it would make cool school project and gift ideas. And greeting cards and......

I think I have to stop being too literal (thus problem with *error message) and stop being so practical. I just have to say I want it and I am keeping it. So there

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

eWee and Tramacula the Dracula

I have not made any Amigurumi since daughter L went to college. No, it is not because I am depressed. It is because I am catching up on those parts of my life that was on hold while we prepared to send her off to college. It is amazing how many things I stopped doing.... Plus, I did make a ton of those Warrior Amigurumi - Ninja, Knights, Spartan and Trojan, before she left. My sister C in New York has been hassling me to make some for her. She borrowed the Creepy Cute Crochet book from the Library and was rattling off what she wanted, as though she was ordering from a mail order company!!

The weather has been a scorcher of late. All I wanted to do was watch a movie in a cool air-conditioned room. Did I get to do that? No! Actually I did get to watch or was forced to watch a movie past my bedtime by my beloved nephew alias eWee - How to lose a guy in 10 days :) Okay I admit is was fun to hang out with eWee and his antics.

I do not know how but she did it. In the second weekend in college, daughter L manages to get herself painted the letter O and be part of the Rally Committee for Berkeley, positioned at the 50 yard line, televised live on ESPN during the Football game between Cal and the Maryland Terrapins! She sure knows how to get into the heart of activities. Needless to say, we just had to stay back and watch the game, So eWee stayed another day and night. Sigh.......thus began the torture.
eWee spied the Amigurumi on my computer desk. At first all he wanted was for me to make him some for Christmas. Next, he decided he wanted to make them himself. When he discovered the ready made bodies I had in my stash, he was on a roll to make himself the most fresh Amigurumi in the world. We looked up bleach characters. He wanted red hair and great coat that flared there he was, draping felt over the body trying to get a good feel for his character. Thank God, I made him cut out paper templates before actually cutting the felt or I would be in the craft shopping right now, replenishing my supply. I have to admit he made (he came up the idea and"Aunt H can you sew this for me") a really fresh red undercoat. 3 hour, a white and a black overcoats later.... it was not right. Looks like Dracula not Bleach,he says. Back to square one or rather down to the red undercoat. I take off the top layers but think the red coat is a keeper. I am tired. eWee tries on other head/ body combination. He is still not happy. Break for lunch.

I tried. I tell you, I tried not to be dragged back to the project, telling him I will send him something for Christmas to no avail. He was relentless- eWee. A few more version later and he gives in. The red. white and black combination just spelled Dracula. So he set out to make a very respectable Dracula. It is late at night and my eyes are getting blurry. eWee says" You know what Aunt H, it would be really fresh if he had a top hat." Off he goes for a shower and the sucker that I am, I make a top hat. Ha, ha.... it does make the Amigurumi or as eWee like to say, " It's fresh." Take a look at Tramacula..... name for Temecula!!

You know how it is. Once you make one, you make another. So I decided to make sister C one of the Amigurumi she wanted - the Grim Reaper. He is cute don't you think so??? So C, get Grim Reaper from eWee or his mom. Don't let him keep it. I warned eWee you will do him bodily harm if he tries to keep Grim Reaper.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August in the garden

It never fails to amaze what I discover in my garden. All summer long I had be on the lookout for fruits forming on my fruit trees. The dragon fruit forming ( or so I thought) was exciting and now.... an embarrassment. Dear friends and family, in my excitement on seeing the `fruit', I totally missed the biological process of fruit formation!! What I took to be the dragon fruit was actually the formation of the flower bud. No wonder, it was elongating and not plumping out! Needless to say, my dear husband had a good laugh and did not let my faux pas go un-reminded each time he is in the garden.

Upset that my "fruit" was not plumping out!

Ops- looks like they are flower buds

Definitely - flower buds and not the fruit

Spent flower and hopefully fertilized so that I have fruit!

After a few days of my disgust and worrying that maybe I planted a regular cactus and not a Dragon fruit cactus, it dawned on me that it was starting to look like a flower. Look how how gorgeous were those flowers. Like large Christmas cactus flowers. I quickly took the pictures before dashing off on our long drive to Berkeley to settle in daughter L. Now, I worry that those flowers might not have been pollinated and I will not get any dragon fruit....Had I been home, being the Asian gardener I am, I would have assisted in pollinating the flowers, paintbrush and all. Now, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Around the time that I had the eureka moment about the dragon fruit, I found another pleasant surprise. A bunch of bananas forming on the banana plant! This was so amazing and unexpected, as I swear not more than 3 days before the discovery, I made a concerted effort to look at the banana clump to look for banana flowers. It has been a few years since we had any banana as we had been trimming out the clump. Hopefully the bananas will ripen before the weather cools down. Looking forward to eating "Ice-Cream" banana.

The other plant that had me worried was the passion fruit vine "Frederick". It did not form fruit all of last year although it flowered. We were beginning to wonder if it was actually self fertile as advised. This year fruits formed. Early in the summer I had broken open a fruit and it was empty. Again, worried that it was the wrong plant or not pollinated. This week the fruits started turning purple. Now, they have started falling off the vines as they ripen. The fruits are small so I am thinking it needed more water than I was giving it and maybe more fertilizer. Nevertheless, I am enjoying delicious refreshing passionfruit.

All is good in the garden. Look at picture updates of the other fruit trees and vegetable garden.

Mango and Strawberry Guava

Gorgeous crimson flowers and healthy fruits

Cousins! - Beet and Swiss Chards

Onions, shallots and onion flower heads

Sprouting potatoes for the fall crop