Malaysian Monday 80: Bubur Gandum

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hellloooo everybody! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, spring is around the corner, yee haa! I am finding it very, very hard to sit still and write this post. My brain is outside in the warm weather, it wants me to go dig my toes in the sand.

So do excuse me if this gets truncated or I start to ramble off in all directions. I honestly had the best intentions to be prepared and do something special for this Malaysian Monday. Why? It’s the end of Ramadhan and some of my friends will be celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri / Eid-ul-Fitr. Also, this Wednesday is Hari Merdeka , or Independence Day in Malaysia.

Unfortunately the best I can do is to offer you my best wishes and a bowlful of this bubur gandum (wheat porridge).



This porridge/ sweet is another comfort food from my childhood, and one I had not thought about, nor eaten for a long time. But Tina helped remind me of it when she left a comment on my black rice pudding post.

Like the black rice pudding, this sweet is extremely simple to prepare, it just involves boiling. But you must, must, must soak the wheat grains beforehand. I didn’t and it took over 3 hours for the grains to cook and soften. A very boring wait.



But I won’t bore you any longer, because I’m off. Enjoy your week, and remember, my friend Suresh over at 3 Hungry Tummies will be hosting the next Muhibbah Malaysian Monday round-up, so do send your entries to him: sureshchong(at)yahoo(dot)com. Plus, Babe In The City - KL is hosting a Merdeka Open House,  check her blog out when she posts that round-up.

Here’s how I made the porridge, just treat it as a suggestion rather than a recipe and go from there.





Bubur Gandum (Wheat Porridge)

about 1 cup whole wheat grains, soaked overnight
at least 4 to 5 cups water
about 1/4 cup gula melaka (dark palm sugar)
caster sugar to taste
coconut milk to taste (add a pinch of salt to the coconut milk)



Place the wheat and water in a large saucepan and boil until the wheat grains soften and open up. Top up the water as necessary. Might also need to skim any scum that rises to the surface. Add the sugar and boil for ten minutes longer. You can use just gula melaka or add caster sugar to make it sweeter.



Serve warm or at room temperature with coconut milk on the side. Some cooks add the coconut milk in and boil it all at the same time. I prefer to add the coconut milk just before eating so I can control how much I put in.

Daring Bakers August 2011: Sweet as...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Candy!

Who doesn’t love candy? For the longest time, I didn’t realise that the American term “candy bar” actually meant a chocolate bar. To me, candy always meant something sugary, like candy floss (fairy floss), or rock candy. I know chocolate bars are sugary too, but in my mind there was always a distinction, candy was sugar and chocolate was chocolate.

But enough waffling on, I’m talking about candy because it’s Daring Bakers time again, and we were challenged to make candy, and temper chocolate.

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

We had to make two candies, the first had to be chocolate of some sort, either a truffle, dipped or not dipped in chocolate, or a cut (square) dipped chocolate/bonbon, or a filled chocolate/bonbon using a chocolate mold. The other candy could be any chocolate or non-chocolate candy we liked.


I wanted to make fudge - the proper, boiled kind, not the condensed milk/ icing sugar version. Since the candy thermometer is still packed in a box somewhere, I had to attempt this based on “ball” stages. You know, soft ball, hard ball, hard crack, etc.


Just fudging it
Of course, I couldn’t just do simple fudge right? No, I had to attempt something involving caramelised white chocolate, pistachios and lemon rind. I’d been hearing a lot about caramelised white chocolate lately and wanted to see what the fuss was about. It wasn’t too hard to make, thanks to this great step-by-step recipe by David Lebovitz, but to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure if it’s something I’d rave about. Sure, it was interesting and had a lovely flavour, but I’ve never really been all that big on white chocolate anyway, so it was hard to get very excited about it.


Caramelised white chocolate

For the fudge, I based my recipe on one found here at The Joy of Baking, using white chocolate and adding the zest of half a lemon at the butter stage. Instead of the cream, I used a mix of sour cream and milk instead. Almost at the end of the stirring stage, I threw in some chopped pistachios. Also, I didn’t have glucose syrup/ corn syrup handy, so I used some honey. Trouble is, I only had leatherwood honey on hand, and it really messed around with the flavours of the fudge. When I gave a piece to MC Junior, I could see the indecision on her face. On one hand, she was loving the sweetness, but she wasn’t loving the lemon rind or strong honey tones. Plus, the fudge was probably slightly undercooked and was just a touch too soft. “Ah, well, fudge fail,” I though.


Slightly too soft




But instead of chucking it out, I thought I might as well experiment to see if I could save it. So I put all the fudge back into a heavy based saucepan and brought it slowly to the boil, and back to the soft ball stage. Then I took it off the heat and added another tablespoon or two of the white chocolate. It worked! The second boiling mellowed out the lemon and honey flavours, and the extra white chocolate boosted the chocolatey flavour. This time, both the MC’s loved it.


Saved from a fudge failure.

If you’re thinking of making fudge, here’s another link I found helpful. The best tip I gleaned was to let the fudge cool a little before beating otherwise it will be grainy. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, to judge whether the fudge has cooled enough, dip the spoon onto the surface of the mixture, if it has formed a bit of a “skin” (so you can see the indent of the spoon), then it’s cool enough.

Now onto the chocolate part of the challenge. Anyone remember my first dismal attempt at making chocolate? Stick around, I’ll show you worse!

After searching in vain to buy a thermometer suitable for chocolate making, I decided to be daring and try without it anyway. This thread at the egulllet forums proved very helpful. After reading and re-reading the thread, I decided to try the “testing using lower lip area” method. Another helpful tip I also learned here is to avoid sharp temperature spikes and drops, and using plastic bowls and rubber spatulas helped (plastic is a poor heat conductor).



First I made some passionfruit ganache by melting 200g milk chocolate and 100ml passionfruit juice (from 6 passionfruit) in a makeshift double boiler set-up. In case you’re wondering, I juiced the passionfruit using a citrus juicer, then sieved the juice and the leftover bits caught in the juicer to extract as much liquid as possible.


Don't you love the colour of passionfruit juice?

This was the easy part, and the ganache tasted absolutely divine! I am definitely going to make this again and use it either as a filling or to ice a cake.

The next part didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped. To cut a long story short, I tried to make ganache filled chocolates, using an ice cube tray as a mould, and also some choc-dipped truffles. They bloomed horrendously! Ugh! Don’t worry, I didn’t throw them out, they are still extremely edible, just not very photogenic.




Portent of disaster


Aaaaarrrrgghhh!!! And I couldn't get them out in one piece. So total fail.


I decided to give it one last try. I think I was heating the chocolate up too much in my first attempt, by giving it too long a go in the microwave. Since I was working with very small amounts of chocolate, I decided to melt the chocolate in 10 to 20 second bursts. This time, I think it was 80% successful. Although it’s not entirely smooth and shiny (if you look closely, you can see very faint streaks), at least there’s no horrible looking white bloom to be seen.








These are called chocolate mendiant, and for a great post about tempering chocolate and making these, have a look at Christina's blog.



Faint streaks but not bloom. There are air bubbles though! Forgot to tap the tray on the counter.

This was probably one of the most challenging challenges I’ve faced so far (second only to the vol-au-vent challenge). So thank you very much Lisa and Mandy for pushing me to attempt tempering again.



Enjoy the rest of the weekend and do check out what the other Daring Bakers have done.




I know these are technically not candy but I promised the MC's I would make them candy apples one day. These were made from caramel, flavoured with a touch of cinnamon and maple syrup and a little bit of butter. The MC's reacted like this:



The Seven

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ahem...hello.

So, it’s Wednesday?

Um, where did Malaysian Monday go then? (*whistles innocently*). I do apologise. We had visitors, from Malaysia actually, so I chose to hang out with them instead of feeding the blog :)

But luckily, I know we’re all friends here and you’ll understand. Speaking of friends, the lovely Fiona from Life on Nanchang Lu tagged me in The Tripbase Seven Links Project. After she said such lovely things about moi, how could I not play along? (You must check out Fiona’s seven, I don’t think I am doing this thing justice!).


So here they are, my seven “most...” posts.


My most beautiful post. 



Hmmm, this one was tricky. Even though Fiona kindly said I was a good photographer, I honestly don’t think I am. Trying to choose a beautiful post, much less one that was the “most beautiful” was really hard. But in the end, I picked this post because it reminds me of my favourite place in the world. It’s where we go camping (the spot is called Treachery Camp), and every time I look at these photos, I want to go back. Now that I’ve told you the name of it, please don’t all flock there at once ok?

My most popular post.



This was easy. Put the words Yoda and macaron in the same sentence and everyone wants a look. It was even featured here on the edible craft section at craftgossip.com

My most controversial post.



Well, I could have picked the post that generated deafening silence (actually three brave souls commented) but instead I’ll choose this one about a custard apple because of the number of anonymous comments I received telling me that I was wrong and the fruit in question was actually called something else. (In the end I just chose to stop publishing comments on that post by anyone named anonymous. My blog, my rules).

My most helpful post. 




Ok, I will readily admit that any recipes I post may not often be very detailed, and frequently have the words “adjust to taste” in them. But I think this attempt at kuih bahulu proved helpful to some of you. I hope.

A post whose success surprised me.

 

Definitely this one involving dipping fruit in compound chocolate.  Not very foodie, but lots of fun.

A post that didn’t get the attention it deserved. 

 

It has to be this one. Waaaaay back when I first started blogging, when I used a happy snappy camera to take flash photos, when my fondant work was still very lumpy and bumpy, when I had no idea what I was doing. That cake still makes me smile.

The post I am most proud of.

 

As you would have probably guessed by now, I have a tendency to verbosity. That’s why I love how I wrote this post. It was very concise, the writing flowed, and I wish I could capture that feeling and produce another post that way again.

So now it’s the “Tag! You’re it!” part. I’d love to know what Vanille, Beth, Lisa and Diana’s seven are. (If you’ve been tagged and don’t want to play, don’t worry, I won’t be sad).

A short pie(ce)

Friday, August 19, 2011


Brrr, it’s cold, wet, and windy. And I wish I still had some pie.  But the pie is no more.



 
Actually it was polished off last weekend when we had Nana and Pop hand over for a visit. (Thanks again for taking us to Mary Poppins, Nana!).

Would you believe I’ve never made a strawberry and rhubarb pie before? In fact, I’d never even heard of the combination until I started reading blogs. But I had leftover rhubarb to use up, and the Queensland grown strawberries were very affordable, so I gave it a whirl.





Yup, definitely a winning combination (made even more luxurious by the addition of a vanilla bean). I definitely won’t wait too long before making this again.





Have a great weekend and stay warm :)

(To make the pie, I blind baked a shortcrust pastry shell, then filled it with about 2 cups chopped rhubarb, 250g strawberries (cleaned, hulled and chopped), about 4 heaped tablespoons raw caster sugar and 1 scraped vanilla bean. I topped this with more shortcrust pastry, gave it an eggwash, then baked the lot until golden. The flavour is on the tart side, but that’s the way I like it. Add more sugar if a sweeter fix is needed.)




Malaysian Monday 79: Bubur Pulut Hitam (Black glutinous rice pudding)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Monday everyone! Feels good to be back in the groove again.

Unsurprisingly, after all the unsettling events of the past couple of weeks, coupled with a return to chilly weather, I was craving some comfort food. This Bubur Pulut Hitam or Black Glutinous Rice pudding had everything going for it. Not only is it sweet, warm, delicious and filling, it reminds me of the childhood home. Mum used to cycle off to the markets most mornings, and she’d always bring back some snacks for us kids. This pudding often made an appearance and we’d devour it for a late breakfast or morning tea.



Sometimes she’d cook up a big pot of it at home, and that never lasted very long either :)

The name black rice is a bit of a misnomer, even though the finished pudding is very dark, I think the colour is more a luxurious deep purple rather than black. It’s a very visually arresting dish, and when served in clear glasses topped with thick coconut milk, it does look quite special.

As far as desserts go, this one is really simple to make. There are two tips to follow that will ensure success. First, pre-soak the black glutinous rice grains as this helps the rice cook faster and more evenly. Secondly, don’t add the sugar until the rice is almost cooked.  Apart from this, feel free to tweak away. Some cooks add the coconut milk to the pudding as it cooks, others add some form of thickener or flavouring. I like it pure and simple.

Have a great start to the week and remember, my friend Suresh from 3 Hungry Tummies will be hosting the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday round-up so send your entries to him at sureshchong(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Also, the end of the month of August marks Hari Merdeka (Malaysian Independence day), and Pick Shan who blogs at Babe in KL will be hosting a Merdeka Open house with the theme “Makan through Malaysia”, so do pop by to visit and contribute too.




The soaked grains turn the water purple.


Bubur pulut hitam
(Black glutinous rice pudding)

1 1/2 cup black glutinous rice (soaked overnight - use enough water to cover the grains by a couple of inches)
1/4 cup gula melaka  (dark palm sugar)
1/4 cup caster sugar (or to taste)
pinch salt
Water - I started out with 4 cups (250mlx4) and then added another 1 1/4 cups during cooking
pinch of salt.
(if you have it, add some knotted pandan leaves to the rice when cooking, this adds fragrance to the dish)

Thick coconut milk mixed with a little salt, to serve

Drain the rice, place in a sieve and rinse well. Place the rice and about 4-5 cups water in a pan and bring to the boil. Partially cover the pan, then boil until the rice is tender and the mixture looks thick and “puddingy”. Add a bit more water if drying out too quickly. Do not cover the pan completely or the rice will boil over.

When the rice is just tender (took me about half an hour or so), add the sugar and salt, stir well, and cook for a further ten minutes. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary.

Remove from heat and serve warm or at room temperature. Drizzle with coconut milk before eating.

Simple and sweet.

The dust settles

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hooray! I am back in the world of the internets again thanks to a nifty little wifi modem. Actually, I should have been able to get online a lot earlier but the first modem we got (from a different service provider), decided it didn’t like my operating system.  Apparently my system was “too new”. When we called tech support, the brilliant advice we were given was to use an older computer! 

I’ll tell you what’s older though. My new kitchen. (How’s that for an oxymoron). And I absolutely love it. Even though it’s smaller than my previous kitchen, I love how everything is so close and within easy reach, there’s heaps of storage and like most older kitchens, there’s a window to stare out of when doing the washing up :) Having said that, Mr. Kitchen Hand, who does most of the washing up, would gladly trade the view for a dishwasher.



Luckily, the oven is practically brand new. It’s a very basic model, but I dig that. It turns on and off, and has a little light and that’s about it. I’m still getting used to how eerily quiet it is though. My previous oven would whir even when the fan-forced setting was turned off, but this one just sits silently, looking and sounding as if it isn’t doing anything until you open the door and realise it’s hot in there! During the pack and the move, I managed to forget my oven thermometer so I’m not quite sure whether the dial and the internal temperature match but that’s a story for another day.





Today, I’m talking cupcakes. After more than three weeks of sheer hard slog, I decided that enough was enough, and instead of unpacking another box or putting things in the right place, we made cupcakes. Rhubarb cupcakes. Something I’d been obsessing about since my trip to Orange.

Since I had the MC’s underfoot “helping” I kept it really simple. This is just a tweaked basic pound cake recipe with added rhubarb, and a simple vanilla butter icing. They were utterly delicious. I’m not quite sure if it’s because these were the the first home-baked thing we’d eaten in ages, or whether they were really, really good. Even Mr. Kitchen Hand who doesn’t have a sweet tooth, loved them.



I hope you like them too.

Have a great weekend my friends. I’ve missed being online and reading your blogs but I’m making up for lost time now :)

Rhubarb cupcakes
(I looked at lots and lots of pound cake recipes and just tweaked the basics down to a 2 egg batter)

100g sugar
2 eggs
125g butter (room temperature)
120g flour
2 tbsp (australian spoon) milk
1 tsp (australian) baking powder
dash of vanilla extract
pinch of salt
70g thinly sliced rhubarb (from 3 stems) - remove strings if needed.



Preheat the oven - I had my dial at 170˚C, but who know what the real temperature was.

Beat the eggs, milk and vanilla essence lightly together. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and beat for a few seconds until aerated. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and enough of the egg mixture (don’t tip it all in at once) to moisten. Beat this mixture until creamy (just a couple of minutes). Add half of the egg mixture that’s left and beat until well mixed, then add the rest of the egg and beat again until well mixed. Don’t overbeat.

Fold in the rhubarb, divide between 12 cupcake liners and bake until golden. Cool then ice as desired. For our butter icing, we beat 100g softened butter until creamy, then added about a cup of sifted icing sugar and a dash of vanilla extract, and beat it again until fluffy.

Moving and Shaking

Friday, August 5, 2011

We’ve done it. Moved out, that is. I won’t pretend that it wasn’t a bit of a wrench leaving our current apartment. It was a wonderful haven, somewhere we loved coming home to, somewhere we loved hanging out in, somewhere full of wonderful memories. Unfortunately circumstances beyond our control meant we had to bid goodbye to it. Perhaps temporarily, perhaps forever.

Er, that does sound rather dramatic doesn’t it?  It’s not that alarming really. The apartment is having remedial work done to it and we’re not sure if we’ll end up moving back or whether we’ll just move onwards now that we’re out.  Both Mr. Kitchen Hand and I are not backward-looking types. We’d rather push on and try something new, who knows what adventure awaits around the next corner.


 The last thing I baked properly (not counting the crumble) were these Graham Crackers. The recipe is a Nancy Silverton recipe, found at 101 Cookbooks



Moving has been quite cathartic actually. We’ve culled all the excess stuff, the stuff that lurks in the corners of cupboards and under beds. The stuff that breeds quietly when everyone is sleeping. I don’t know about you but no matter how careful I try to be when purchasing things, always mindful of need vs want, somehow stuff just seems to multiply. Every time we move, I vow that if it’s something that cannot be eaten up or used up, then it’s not coming through the doors, but still we end up with all this stuff. I think it’s a natural consequence of having children. Kids = stuff magnets.

So the move has been good  that way, helping us to travel lighter again. And we’re looking forward to hanging out in our new, albeit temporary, home. It’s really close to the beach, and looks like it will be the ideal place to spend the coming Summer. What I’m most looking forward to is getting back in the kitchen properly again. Time to make friends with a new oven :)





Of course, graham cracker would not be complete without marshmallows and chocolate right? Home made marshmallows, half quantity of recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

So thank you for visiting while I’ve been busy packing  boxes. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some stories from the new kitchen once we get our internet connection sorted out. See you all real soon (I hope!) and have a great weekend.

Before I forget, here’s a recent post on Nectarine Cake I wrote for the Project 365 challenge if you’d like to have a look.



I want s'more of this ;) Actually, I had no idea how to make a s'more properly and had to google. I found that just toasting the marshmallow on the gas hob didn't get it hot enough to melt the chocolate. I ended up wrapping the whole lot in foil and popping it in the oven to get it all gloriously gooey.