Muhibbah Malaysian Monday 89 : Sweet Corn Ice-Cream

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yep! You read that right. It’s ice-cream with vegetables in it :) This was one of my absolute favourite flavours when I was growing up (the other favourite was raspberry ripple). I thought the sweet corn flavour was uniquely Malaysian but when I started googling for recipes, I found that the people of Mexico enjoy it too.

After looking at lots of different recipes online, I decided to abandon them all for various reasons - too many egg yolks, too many ears of corn, doesn’t use the ice-cream maker, etc, etc. I have to say that now I own an ice-cream maker, the machine really does make a difference. I have made ice-cream a few times using the “beat every few hours by hand” method, or the “no-churn using condensed milk” method, and although those methods yield quite tasty ice-cream, the keeping qualities are reduced. After a day or two, the ice-cream gets really icy. So far, the ice-creams churned in my machine keep beautifully creamy for ages. 

So, where were we? Oh yes, abandonment.

Anyway, I decided to turn to the “master” and consulted David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t have a recipe for a sweet corn flavour, but I decided to tweak the basic vanilla ice-cream recipe. Happily, it worked fantasttically, and since it’s been sweltering here lately, the ice-cream really went down a treat. Well, it went down a treat with myself and MC Senior. The other two members of the family just looked on in horror.

What do you think your reaction would be if served corn in ice-cream ? ;)

Thanks for reading, now MC Junior and I are off to savour her last days of freedom before she starts big school.

Thank you to all of you who have heeded our call (myself and 3 Hungry Tummies) for Muhibbah Malaysian Monday entries. If you haven’t sent something in yet, don’t worry, the round-up will be posted next week (first Monday in February) so there’s still time to squeak in. You can email your entries to its(dot)sharon(at)gmail(dot)com.

Have a lovely week!

Sweet corn ice-cream recipe
(adapted from David Lebovitz’s Vanilla Ice-cream)

1 whole ear of corn
200 ml milk
150 ml pouring cream
pinch of salt
70g sugar
3 egg yolks

(I did this recipe in a few stages. Each stage doesn’t take too much time or effort, but it does pay to let the mix steep and chill before churning).

Start by cutting off the corn kernels from the corn cob. I did this using a small sharp knife, and the corn balanced at a 45˚ angle in a shallow bowl. Try not to cut all the way into the cob as the base of the corn kernel can be very chewy. Because I hate to waste anything, I then ran a vegetable peeler over the cob to scrape up any little bits of corn that could be used and added that to the bowl. Save the corn cob, and set the kernels aside in the fridge.

Next, place the milk, sugar, salt and the reserved corn cob in a small saucepan and heat until it starts to get a bit steamy but not bubbling, and definitely not boiling. Remove from heat, let it cool, then transfer to a bowl and let it steep for a little while. The longer you steep it, the more pronounced the corn flavour. I covered the bowl and left it in the fridge for about 6 hours.

When ready to make the custard base, prepare an ice-bath (a handful of ice-cubes and cold water in the base of a container large enough to hold the mixing bowl). Place the cold cream in a mixing bowl, and set a sieve over the top. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until well combined. Pour the corn-cob-milk mixture through a sieve into a small saucepan. Heat the milk again until steamy.

 Add the corn kernels and stir for a minute or two, then fish them out again using a slotted spoon. The aim is to just take the edge off the rawness, the milk won’t really get hot enough to cook them thoroughly. If you don’t like the idea of semi-raw corn kernels in the ice-cream, then blanch the kernels separately first and cool before using. I think the fresh kernels taste sweeter.

Check that the milk is still hot, turn off the heat, and add a ladleful of milk at a time into the egg yolks, whisking the yolks constantly to prevent scrambling. When all the milk has been added, return the egg-yolk-milk mix back to the saucepan and stir constantly over medium/low heat until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. Don’t overheat! Mr. Lebovitz recommends using a thermometer if you want to be sure - custard will scramble over 185˚F.

Pour the custard through the sieve into the cold cream, tip the kernels into the mix, and stir constantly over the ice-bath until the mixture is cool. Chill the mixture in the fridge until completely cold (I left it another 6 hours), then churn in the ice-cream machine.


A scone or two (Daring Bakers, Jan 2012)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

By now, you’ll have seen countless scones popping up on blogs of Daring Bakers everywhere. Here’s mine to add to the mix. Even though I actually made these on time, it took a little while to get this post up. We were too busy squeezing in as much fun as possible before the holidays ended.

(Plain scones on left, ginger beer scones on right)

Sadly, it’s back to school tomorrow, so I’m off to double check supplies. I’ll leave you with the blog-checking lines and scone photos.

  Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

I made the challenge recipe which yielded delightfully buttery scones (go to  Audax’s blog for incredibly detailed instructions on pursuing the perfect scone). Since scones are so quick and easy, I threw in a batch of ginger beer scones as well, based on Belinda Jeffery’s lemonade scones (find an adapted version of the recipe at Lemonpi). I used ginger beer and crystallised ginger, and skipped the wholemeal flour.

 (Try humming the following captions to this tune. Why? Because I could) ;)

Give me a scone with lots of jam please

That’s just the bees knees 

A bite or two, oh will that do? 

We’ll need more for a snack

Bring some more to the front 

And we’ll promise to share.

Forgot to mention - the plain scones were layered, and the ginger beer scones kneaded, which gave the "innards" a different look.

See you soon! Malaysian Monday will be slightly late I think :)

Malaysian Monday 89 : Crispy prawn balls

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Monday, and happy lunar new year! Best wishes for a joyful, healthy and prosperous Year of the Dragon.

To be honest, we weren’t really planning on doing anything special to mark the occasion, and I definitely hadn’t baked or cooked anything remotely new year-y in preparation.  But when the MC’s insisted we have a “special” dinner so they could dress up in their new outfits, how could I say no? (It is customary during the lunar new year to give the kids lucky red packets filled with money, and something new to wear).

Whilst trying to think of a suitably “special” dish, I spotted the half loaf of white bread left over from MC Senior’s birthday celebrations on the weekend. We don’t actually eat white bread and I only ever buy it for making kids party food, so I needed to find a way to use the loaf up.

Then I remembered these crispy prawn balls. The balls have a filling of minced prawns covered with a layer of cubed white bread.

Every lunar new year, I really looked forward to tucking into these crunchy golden orbs at my best friend Mei’s house.  It was a long awaited treat as I never came across the dish anywhere else. Luckily I kept getting invited back - they mustn’t have noticed how many of these things I was quietly shovelling into my face!

Certain food often triggers my memories, reminding me of someone special or a certain time in my life. These prawn balls always remind me of Mei, and how we met as 6 year olds in the back of the mini school bus. We took to each other instantly, probably due to the fact that we were both precocious chatterboxes, and we spent most of our childhood and adolescence in each other’s pockets.

Eventually, we went our separate ways to pursue tertiary education and jobs and all that stuff one is supposed to do when trying to pass as an adult, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology (hello Facebook!), Mei has once again entered my orbit :).

I had never thought of getting the recipe, but I had a vague idea of how to go about it, and I hope I’ve done these justice. Mr. Kitchen Hand was suitably impressed by the results, and even the usually prawn-hating MC Senior ate a couple. MC Junior did exactly what I expected her to do - nibbled the crunchy bread off the outside and then announced she didn’t really like prawns after all.

Mei, if you’re reading this - here’s to old times :)

Have a great start to the week and enjoy the festivities.  Oh, and don't forget the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday event that I host with 3 Hungry Tummies . There are still 2 weeks to make the round-up (I'll be posting it on the first Monday in February) . So get cooking and send your entries in to its(dot)sharon(at)gmail(dot)com. Pretty please? Honestly, the cupboard is really, really bare this month!

Crunchy prawn balls
(This isn’t a hard and fast recipe, feel free to scale up or down as needed).

Ingredients :

For the coating:
Stale white sandwich bread - crusts removed, cut into very small cubes. I ended up using about 8 slices, but you might need more or less depending on how much filling you have.
1 egg beaten
Some plain flour to dust

For the filling:

Fresh/ Green prawns - peeled, deveined and minced finely. I had about 440g of prawns with the shells on, forgot to weigh them after I’d peeled them.
2 stalks spring onions / shallots (the long green and white ones with the narrow bases) - finely chopped
dash of soy sauce to taste
dash of sesame oil
pepper (usually in Chinese cooking, white pepper is used, but I only had black)

optional - cornstarch to bind. I found that my minced prawns were a little “loose” although I had no problems forming them into shape. However, you could add a little bit of cornstarch to thicken the mixture and help bind it together. Don’t use too much though or it will end up a bit gluey.

Vegetable oil for frying.

Sweet chilli sauce for serving.


Mix the minced prawns with the onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper. Use two teaspoons to form into balls and place on a plate. Chill for a little while, 10 - 20 minutes.

In 3 separate bowls, arrange a little plain flour, the beaten egg and the cubed bread. Heat some vegetable oil in a small but deep frying pan. The aim is to deep fry the balls, but I usually only have the oil coming up to halfway of the thing I’m frying, and just tilt the pan to coat the item.

Dip the prawn balls in a little flour, dust off the excess, then dip quickly into the egg and finally into the cubed bread, trying to cover all the prawn surface with bread cubes. When the oil is hot enough, fry a few balls at a time until golden brown. Make sure you keep adjusting the temperature of the oil. The balls mustn’t cook too quickly otherwise the outside will be scorched and the insides undercooked. Conversely, if the oil isn’t hot enough, the bread will absorb way too much oil. Place the balls on a tray in a low oven to keep warm while you finish cooking the whole lot.

Drain the balls on absorbent kitchen paper, and serve warm with chilli sauce.

Sizzle, sizzle.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ooh la la, who is that sashaying down the table in a frilly skirt? Hot pink and sizzling sweet? Must be Mademoiselle macaron, all set to razzle dazzle!

Yes, it’s time for another Macattack, and this month our charming hosts Deeba and Jamie challenged us to jazz things up. “Let’s start off the New Year with a bang!” they said. “Bright lights, outrageous colors, deck ourselves out to dazzle and welcome 2012 with vibrancy and excitement!...Gaudy, garish, just a little ostentatious… let’s pull out all the stops and create something snazzy, something swanky, something special!”

Well, I certainly hope these Red Hot macarons are special enough to join the party :) Cinnamon flavoured shells sandwich a hot pink filling flavoured with  Red Hot candy. Just the thing to light up jaded tastebuds.

Inspiration for these macs literally fell out of the cupboard.  I was searching for something at the back of the pantry when I found a box of these candies. Mr. Kitchen Hand had brought these back when he travelled to Austin, TX, sometime early last year. A quick check of the expiry date (2013 thankfully) and we were in business! Thanks to a bout of seriously hot weather, some of the candy had melted and stuck together, but it didn’t matter, they were destined to be melted down further.

My experimentation to get flame coloured swirls didn’t quite work out as well as I’d hoped but the resulting macarons were quite pretty anyway.  And the flavour really did taste of Red Hots except not as spicy.  Perhaps the addition of white chocolate dulled the sting. Or maybe melting it down did the trick, but the hot and spicy aftertaste of the candy was no more. Ah well, the MC’s loved them anyway. Mr Kitchen Hand however, declined strenuously, citing irreconcilable differences with Red Hot candy.

I dipped one skewer in red gel colouring and the other in yellow, hoping to get swirls starting from the centre, but they moved to the side instead.

No matter, our New Year has definitely started off on a sweet note, and we hope yours has too.

Speaking of New Year (see how I did that?), I’d like to wish everyone who will be celebrating the lunar new year a very happy and prosperous start to the year of the Dragon!

Aaaaand speaking of lunar new year (did it gain), I know many of you regular Muhibbah Malaysian Monday contributors are busy preparing for the festivities, but if you do get a chance, please join us for the coming round-up, our entry box is looking very dry. If you do whip something up, please send it my way : its(dot)sharon (at)gmail(dot)com, as I will be your host this month. (Thank you 3 Hungry Tummies for keeping the boat afloat!) :)

Enjoy the rest of the week :)

Macaron shells - I used Tartelette’s recipe and added a good pinch of ground cinnamon to the almond meal.

60g Red Hot candies
50 ml pouring cream
100 g white chocolate.

Place everything into a small pan and melt very gently over low heat, stirring continuously. Do not allow to boil! It takes a little while for the candies to melt down. When the mixture is smooth, remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

When quite cold, I whipped the mixture with a whisk to aerate a little. (My mix was looking a little gloopy which is why I did this). The mixture will be quite fluid,  I refrigerated my macarons once I filled them.

Malaysian Monday 88: Cucur Badak (Hippo fritters)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy Tuesday. Ordinarily I would be quite apologetic about the fact that this Malaysian Monday post was delayed. But this year, post scheduling will be very erratic (as explained here), and I’d prefer not to start each post with a mea culpa. For the record, this year Malaysian Monday will not be very regular at all. It will probably not appear weekly, and it might not even be on a Monday. But I will still post whenever I can, and most importantly, the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday event that I host with 3 Hungry Tummies will still definitely go on. This month, I’ll be compiling the round-up, which will be posted on the first Monday in February. So get cooking and send your entries in to its(dot)sharon(at)gmail(dot)com.

Now back to the fritters. I’d never understood why these fritters were called cucur badak (badak is the Malay word for hippo). They didn’t contain meat, and no matter how hard I squinted, couldn’t see the hippo resemblance. Then I read this post by Zurin of Cherry on a Cake. Zurin explained that these fritters (or bites as she calls them) are usually much bigger than other bites, hence the name.

Well, lucky they are huge because I just love these snacks! The cucur is pretty simple to make too. A dough of sweet potato and flour is wrapped around a spicy coconut filling then deep fried. Or shallow fried in my case (I don’t deep fry things very often as I dislike the “waste” of oil for such a small scale production of food).

You can check out Zurin’s post for a proper recipe, I’ll just give you the measurements I used. As I mention very often, Malaysian cooking is very imprecise, everyone does their own thing and agak-agak (guesswork) as they go along. For the dough, I used about 2 cups of leftover baked sweet potato and slightly less than 1 cup plain AP flour, and  pinch of salt. It helps if the potatoes are warm before mashing and mixing with the flour. After making the dough, it’s helpful to let the dough rest for a while to relax the gluten, otherwise the balls could end up really tough.

For the filling, I used 1/3 of a large red onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 red chilli, 1 stalk of lemongrass (white part only), about a tablespoon of dried prawns (soaked, drained well, then chopped) and 3/4 cup dried dessicated coconut. These bites are usually made with fresh grated coconut, but if you can’t find fresh, I’ve found that the dried stuff works but you will need to add a little water from time to time when cooking. I can’t really tell you how much water to add, it will depend on the “wetness” of your spice paste as well. The finished filling should be dry with only the slightest bit of moistness in it. Obviously you can also adjust the amount of chillies used, I kept the filling mild so MC Senior could eat it, but if you have hotheads at your place, scale up the chilli amount as you see fit :). (You will end up with slightly more filling than needed but follow Zurin's advice and freeze the rest. It's really not worth scaling the filling down any more,)

If you’re pressed for time, you can fill the cucur and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge overnight, which is what I did. Let them come to room temperature before frying. The cucur taste best when served warm, although we thought they were still pretty delicious at room temperature. If spicy is not your thing, the sweet potato dough can be made into doughnuts (also known as kuih keria), another favourite snack of mine, and you can check out that post here.

(Cucur before frying)

Thanks for dropping by, and have a great start to the week :)

Making like Janus

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year citizens of blogland! Thank you for all your new year wishes :)

Pardon the rather belated post but at this time of year I find it incredibly difficult to drag myself to the computer.  Summer has finally made an appearance so more important pursuits beckon - sand castle building, swimming, bike riding and all the other stuff school holidays are made of. There have been chances to enjoy some quiet time as well, let’s just say a couple of siestas under the belt does a body the world of good :).

All this downtime has put me in a bit of a reflective mood, thinking about the year that was, and planning for the year to come. I guess January wasn’t named after the Roman god Janus for nothing. (He’s the dude with two faces, one facing forward and one facing back).

The second half of 2011 whizzed by in a bit of a blur for us. There was the minor upheaval of moving apartments unexpectedly, then an overseas holiday, MC Junior’s birthday, and of course the usual end of year busy-ness thanks to school stuff, dance school stuff and just general family stuff.

The blog suffered a little bit as a result. Posts were late and often patchy. I do apologise and although I’d like to say this year will be different, the reality is that I will probably have even less time for the blog in 2012. I did toy with the idea of stopping completely but I know that won’t happen either, I love hanging out in the blog universe too much. When I started this thing way back in 2009, I had no clue what I was doing or what I was in for. In fact, the blog lay relatively dormant for about six months until I started posting “properly” from about the middle of that year. Even then, I wasn’t very prolific, nor very interesting for that matter. And don’t even talk about the photos from that period *shudder*.

I don’t really have much to show after nearly two and a half years of blogging. The amount of hits I get daily are miniscule (sorry earnest PR folk ;P), only the very faithful leave comments (bless you all!) and as for followers...what followers? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling sorry for myself - far from it! I’m just constantly amazed that for such a little blog, there is so much goodwill and love sent my way. Thanks to fellow “little” (but huge in heart) bloggers  and also to much more established, more “famous” bloggers, who have made this food-blog universe such a wonderful community to be in. That sense of belonging is not one I want to give up anytime soon.

So, however busy 2012 gets, I’ll still swing by my happy place as often as I can. For those who are wondering, my time will be spent studying - I’ve enrolled in an off-campus post-grad course. On top of that, we are facing a possible relocation soon (more news when I know more).

And a post like this wouldn’t be complete without some resolutions right? Food based ones only though, I don’t make the other kind :) Last year I expressed a desire to try my hand at sourdough baking, to make more stuff from scratch instead of relying on the supermarket, and to explore more cuisine from other cultures.

Thanks to our December Daring Bakers challenge, I now have Blobby! And after about 3 weeks, he’s settled down, smells lovely and is producing much lighter bread (just like Lisa predicted he would). As for the other two resolutions? Uh, I did make grissini once, but it was nothing to write home about, and we definitely explored and ate many new foods we wouldn’t normally be exposed to while on holidays, but making them at home? Not so much, unless you count Coca-Cola roast pork which sounds trashy but is anything but!

Three week old Blobby

This year, I’ve got three resolutions I’ll hopefully be able to keep.

1) Again, to try and make more stuff from scratch. So far, we’re off to a good start with Blobby bread, and I got myself a new toy with gift vouchers, so lots more home made ice-cream will be on the cards (the base for a maple pecan ice-cream from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop is sitting in the fridge as I type this). I’m going to dust off the pasta machine to ensure we have more fresh pasta on the table, and one of these days I’m going to attempt yoghurt. Wish me luck.

2) As I get a bit older and rounder wiser, the idea of healthy baking is starting to sound a little bit more appealing. Don’t worry, no way am I giving up butter and other decadent goodies, but I’m open to the idea of trying to give a healthier spin to old favourites. Having said that, if they don’t measure up taste-wise, forget it, I’ll stick to the high calorie version. I’d much rather eat a small amount of the real thing and work it off, than to eat a pale imitation that leaves me hankering for more. So if you’re got some ideas for healthier bakes, send them this way :)

3) Little MC Junior is not so little any more and is starting big school this year! So far, I’ve never really had too much of an issue with what to put in MC Senior’s lunch boxes. She dawdles a little over her food, but apart from that, she’ll eat almost anything. MC Junior though, is a fusspot has more definite tastes. I’m going to try and make like those amazing Bento mamas out there and send the MC’s to school with more interesting lunchboxes. It remains to be seen who will emerge victorious in the MC Junior vs Lunchbox challenge this year!

For my blog's birthday, which technically falls sometime in January, I made a CWA sponge cake. If you want to know what a CWA sponge is, try this article. The given recipe makes two massive sponges, I froze one, and then split the other one in half and filled it with sweetened whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

Thanks for stopping by and here’s to many more food adventures together in 2012. Have a great weekend and a great start to the year :)

Muhibbah Malaysian Monday Round Up No. 18

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

I'll be back soon with a longer post, but while you're here, do check out the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday 18 round-up hosted by my friend Suresh over at 3 Hungry Tummies. Thank you to all industrious souls who managed to find time to participate during the hectic last month of the year.

I'll be your host for the next round up (no. 19), so please send all entries to its(dot)sharon(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks :)