Monday, 28 October 2013

Brown Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies...and the time I got some shocking news.

So, I know my next post was supposed to be about The Great British Bake Off and I will blog about that eventually. Right now there's something else that needs to be addressed.

Over the weekened my friend Rab was diagnosed with having brain cancer. When I found out...well...the news made no sense. Rab didn't do anything wrong. I mean sure...he partied and drank but ALWAYS in moderation. No more than what any other college kid would do. He's friendly, he's kind, he's funny and he's young. Younger than me even ( When he found out I was 21, he called me an 'old granny').

The weekend passed by in a bit of a haze. I remember heading into town to do some groceries, but having to stare at the aisles for a good 10 minutes not remembering a single thing I needed to buy. What I did remember, was the ingredients for these cookies. Making the dough and shaping it helped me move out of that strange little bubble. And as the perfumes of chocolate and caramel filled my kitchen, I slowly started to come to terms with the news. I took him a plateful of these when he had his friends over before he left. He liked them, and said they were really good.

Rab left for home with his parents yesterday. It's going to be a tough ride for him for a while now, but I know he's going to fight this tooth and nail. He'll be back in St. Andrews very, very soon, I'm sure of it.

I thank you for reading this far, and ask you to please take a moment to say a little prayer for Rab and to wish him a speedy recovery.

The recipe for these cookies came from HERE.
The only change I made was to add a bar and a half of chopped up dark chocolate.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Great British Bake Off...and the moment myself and the entire UK were baking for.

An institution. A phenomenon. Some might even say... A religion. 

So tonight is going to be the finale of the GBB. As I sit here, awaiting my Bio practical class, thousands of eager UK citizens are whipping up scones, cakes and pies ( being extremely cautious of soggy bottoms! ) eagerly awaiting the grand finale tonight. I've been invited to a viewing party tonight ( at 9, we penniless students cannot afford tv liscenses and must therefore wait for iPlayer ) at a friend's house in town. Obviously, I'm making something, but what you may ask? Here's a clue:

Till my next post folks. Time to get your Bake Off on!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Nutella Mille Crepe...and the time my kitchen was hijacked.

Look at those satisfied ( and slightly disturbed) faces! Everyone, meet Hannah, John, and Charlotte. They invaded my flat the other day for crepes and chocolate. Let it never be said that I don't deliver on feeding my guests. ;)

So I was going to make a mille crepe for John to 'apologize' for 'tormenting' him with pictures of food that he couldn't eat. But they finished with their bio practical a little earlier than expected, so I told them to guzzle the first batch of crepes with the chocolate filling before assembling them properly. After they left I made another half batch and came up with this:

11 crepes, stacked one on top of the other with dark chocolate and Nutella ganache sandwiching them. :) a wholly successful experiment.

Mille crepe
The crepes were made from this recipe from


4 eggs
2 cups of all purpose flour
3 cups of milk
1/3 cup of sugar or to taste
5 Tbsp. melted butter
Pinch of salt
Whisk together milk, eggs, sugar and salt.  Slowly whisk  in flour until smooth.
Add melted butter and mix well.
The batter should be smooth and thin.
Lightly brush the medium 8″sauté pan with butter and head over medium heat.
Working quickly- pour in about 1/4 cup of batter, tilting the pan so the batter makes a circle and coats the bottom.

The crepes should be very thin.  Cook the crepe until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, flip and cook the other side; remove to the flat platter.

Crepe, DONE. 

Next, make the filling. 
Dark Chocolate and Nutella Ganache
150ml double cream
100g dark chocolate
2 heaped tbsp Nutella 

Put everything into a small pot and heat gently on the stove. Stir everyone in a while till nice and smooth. 

To assemble:

Start with a crepe on your plate and dab on 1 1/2 tbsp of filling. Smooth it out as best you can and then top with another crepe. Continue till you you are crepe-less. Mind you, this'll be tricky. The stack gets crazy wobbly the higher you get. If you really can't work with it, stick it in the fridge for 1/2 an hour to harden before you continue. When you get to your last crepe, dust with cocoa powder and have a shot of vodka to celebrate your success. 

Happy eating guys!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Apam Balik...and the time Livvy came over for breakfast.

Hello Livvy my love! :p
So I had this lovely lady over for breakfast yesterday morning. It's soo nice that she lives 5 minutes away...everyone else is either near Morrisons or in town. Livvy's my only friend who's at a sensible (:p) distance away from me...well, besides my friends who live in DRA as well.

Anyways, I've been craving apam balik this whole week. So I asked her to come over on that rainy Saturday morning to share a somewhat Malaysian breakfast. We had apam balik and teh tarik. :)

A short post on this, cause I wasn;t very happy with the texture of the apam balik. It didn't have the chewy, spongy bite of the ones I get back home. This was very cakey and a little dry. No matter though, it was a decent first attempt. And it looked like the real thing!

Recipe for the batter from 'Sea Salt with Food'
I added 1 tsp of vanilla essence to the batter, and added a bit more water to make it more pourable, but that's it. :)

200 g All Purpose Flour
100 g Rice Flour
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Double Action Baking Powder
2 Eggs, light beaten
100 g Sugar
200 ml Water

equal parts of dry roasted peanuts and white sugar. I used about 250g of each.

In a bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, rice flour, sea salt, double action baking powder, eggs, sugar and water. Wrap the bowl in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight.

Lightly oil a small non-stick pan or a crepe pan (about 5 - 6 inches diameter) over a moderate heat. When the pan is hot, add about 3-4 Tbsp batter, evenly coating the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, as the batter sets and forms small bubbles, loosen the edges with a palette knife.

 Generously sprinkle the peanut filling over the pancake, and add a few dots of butter. Lift the pancake from the pan, fold into half and serve immediately

That's it for now! Good luck guys. :)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Crispy Pork Belly...and the time I was super proud of myself.

Remember that dinner party I mentioned? Well guess what?

Yep. I made that.
Roasting this thing quite easily makes the the list as one of the proudest moments of my life. Pulling it out of the oven with the crackling all puffy and crisp... no essay could make me feel that way. It's moments like this in the kitchen that make me feel like a million bucks. Ok, so there was one spot which didn't go ultra crispy. As a first effort though? Not bloody bad at all. Everyone said it was the best pork they had ever had.

Everything said and done it was a actually really easy to put together. Score the skin, marinate the meat, and throw it in the oven. The only issue I had was that all the websites advised leaving it uncovered out of the fridge for atleast 8 hours to dry out the skin so the crackling would be really crispy. I me that seemed like a recipe for salmonella, but I did it (for 4 hours) anyway and it was fine. I don't know how much of a difference it made, but the skin turned out really great so I'm not going to complain. Anyways, here's the recipe for yourself. Please give it a try. Pulling this out of the oven while your friends oooh and aaahh is one of the most satisfying feelings you will ever experience.

Crispy Pork Belly

- 1.5 kg pork belly slab (make sure you have it with the skin on)
- 1 inch ginger, grated finely
- 2 big tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- A drizzle of sweet chilli sauce
-1 1/2 tbsp dark brown sugar
-2 tsp toasted sesame oil

+ If it hasn't been scored already, score the skin of your pork belly. You're going to need a VERY sharp knife (I ended up using one of the razors from my dissection kit) to do this. score thin strips across the whole skin, cutting just until the top layer of fat is exposed when you separate the cuts. This will let the fat blip up and crisp up the skin. The more score marks, the better.

+ Flip the slab over. Mix the ginger, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sweet chilli, brown sugar and sesame oil together for the marinade. Score the meat as well, to allow the marinade to really flavour it. Massage the marinade into the meat. When you're done, season the meat with salt and pepper.

+ Flip the slab over again, so the skin is facing up. Wipe off any marinade that got onto the skin then pat it very very dry with some paper towels. Rube some salt into the skin. Leave the meat in a baking dish to marinate, UNCOVERED for atleast 4 hours.

+When you're ready to cook it, preheat the oven to 220'C. Place the meat onto a roasting rack skin side up and pat it dry again. Rub somemore salt onto the skin (and some chilli flakes if you'd be so inclined ;p ) Place the rack in a foil lined tray (VERY IMPORTANT, cleanup will be soo much easier later) and place it all onto the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes. The skin will start to turn nice and golden brown, and may even bubble around the edges. After 30 minutes, turn the heat down to 180'C and roast for 1 hour.

+ If after an hour the crackling isn't puffy and beautiful, (mine wasn't), turn the heat up to 220'C and place the tray on the top rack of the oven. Grill for a further 30 minutes. You should be able to hear the skin popping and puffing up. A bit like popcorn, actually.

+ And now you're done! Let the meat rest under a sheet of foil for atleast 30 minutes, or until you're ready to dish up. Hack into chunks and dig in.

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Red Bean Pau...and the time I had colourful pigs in my steamer.

God it's been such a long week... or rather it just felt really long. Just handed in an essay earlier today and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Honestly, if I had it my way I would just cook my way through university. Can just imagine it... getting my lecturers around my kitchen table and feeding them till they agree to give me my degree.
BAH! I wish.
Still... a girl can dream... And anyways, just because I haven't been posting doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. OOoooooooohhhh no no no no. Hell, I threw a dinner party (well...ish. I had to ask my guests to bring their own cutlery. BUT STILL!) on Sunday while I should have been writing my essay...
Anyways, enough of the worky nonsense. Just rest assured that I have quite a few posts planned for here. Starting with these! Aren't they adorable??

Over the summer I discovered dim sum for the first time, And one of the first things I tried were red bean buns. In both the places I had them, they were shaped like cute little pigs! After being here for about a month, I started craving them for breakfast one day and to the amusement of my flatmates I started to make them. COMPLETELY from scratch. Including the red bean paste. To be frank though, while the process was time consuming it wasn't actually too hard to put everything together. If you're planning to make the paste, just give yourself an extra day to let the red beans soak before you plan to eat these. They were pretty good, if I do say so myself. :p Although, I would've liked the red bean filling to be a little smoother...maybe I'll borrow someone's blender next time instead of using my food processor. That, and I have a feeling I steamed them a wee bit too long, so they were a little tough. But my flatmates assured me that the bread was nice and soft, so I'm probably worrying for nothing. I did re-steam them in the morning for brekkie though, and they turned into tough little bullets. XS Not nice, at ALL. Other than that, I'm very very proud of these. You should definitely give them a go!

Red Bean Piggy Buns

Unless you're planning on using a pre-prepared filling (nutella would be really yummy...albeit not very traditional), start by making that first. I used a easy recipe I found online. The only things I did differently were to reduce the oil measurement while frying the paste to make it a little healthier, and add a pandan leaf to the pan with the bean mixture for an added aroma.

Recipe originally from here:
NOTE: Remember, you need an extra day before making the buns to soak the beans before cooking them.


  • 2/3 cup dried red beans
  • Water for boiling
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil for frying


Wash the beans and throw out any that are damaged. Place the beans in a small to medium-sized saucepan, cover with water and soak overnight. (This helps shorten the cooking time).
  The next day, bring the beans and water to a boil. Simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until the beans have softened, adding more water as necessary. Drain.
  Process the beans in a blender until smooth. Remove from the blender, and stir in the sugar.
  Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Fry the beans on medium-low heat (about 4 on an electric stove) for a few minutes until they are dry, pressing them gently with the back of a spatula to form a paste. Cool and use as called for in the recipe. (Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, homemade sweet red bean paste will last for approximately one week). Yields approximately 1 3/4 cups.
+ When cool, divide the paste into 15 little balls. Set aside.
For the dough, I used this recipe from blogger Happy Belly. She's a fellow St. Andrews student, a friend of my academic mum's, and absolutely fabulous. I haven't quite gotten the courage to tell her I love her blog...fingers crossed she find this and all will be revealed without me having to do anything. :p I used a little less than the 150ml of water she specifies. Also, I used 7g of yeast (because that's the amount that came in the sachet) and a teaspoon of caster sugar just to make the dough slightly sweeter.
200g plain flour
5g active dry yeast
150ml warm water

Disolve the yeast in a bit of  the water, pour it over the flour. Mix, then slowly add the rest of the water until it comes together to form a dough. 150ml may not be correct, just make sure it's a very soft dough that doesn't stick to your hands. Knead for a couple of minutes until smooth, put in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave it to rest for about an hour.  

Divide the dough into equal portions ( I made 16 balls of dough). You can either form into balls and have them as bread or you can flatten them and put in a scoop of a filling of your choice, then enclose it completely and roll into balls.  Pour cold water in a pot and place your steamer on top.  Line the bottom with an oiled greaseproof paper and place your buns on it.  Make sure you don't put them too close to each other.  Cover with a towel and let it rest again for about 10 minutes before removing the towel, replacing it with a lid, and turning the heat up to high.  When the water starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium and steam for a further 10-15 minutes until done. 

+ After rolling all the buns with filling in them, colour the extra ball of dough using the food colouring of your choice and mould some ears and noses to attatch to each bun. Dip a toothpick into food colouring and poke into the bun to make marks for the eyes.

Voila! Ok, it's a pretty long post. But I PROMISE, these are actually not hard at all to make. All you need is a little patience. Good luck!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Aglio Olio Peperoncino...and the time St. Andrews weather went a little mental.

St. Andrews has been on a crazy weather spin the past couple of days. It's been beautiful and sunny out, but walking anywhere is a complete nightmare. I almost got blown onto the street twice yesterday, and the cold has a nasty way of creeping it's way into the neck of your coat. It's times like these I really appreciate being self-catered, and having the freedom to choose what I'd like to have for dinner.

This pasta is one of the easiest things in the world to make. It's simple, it's quick, and it's very flexible. I just added broccoli to my serving today, but you could put in anything you like. Prawns are exceptionally good here. Feel free to adjust the measurements here. I like mine super spicy, so I always throw in an extra shake of chilli flakes. A simple, tailor-made meal. And it'll take you all of 10 minutes. ;)

~ 2 tbsp olive oil
~ 2 big cloves garlic
~ 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
~ 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
~ 1/2 tsp dried oregano
~ sugar (to taste)
~ salt (to taste)

~ spaghetti, for 1 person
~ 1/2 cup broccoli florets

- Get some water boiling in a large pot so you can cook your pasta. If you're in a rush, you can use water from a recently boiled kettle. It's just continue to bubble away on the stove. SALT IT. The water should taste like the sea. That way, you'll season your pasta while it's cooking, and won't have to add a bucket load of salt to your sauce.

- Get out a small frying pan and heat up the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, turn the heat WAY down. The trick with aglio olio is to be low and slow. You want the oil to infuse with flavour, if it's too hot all your spices will just burn to bits.

- Add the garlic, chilli flakes, pepper, oregano, sugar and salt. Leave the pan alone on it's very low heat. Every once in a while swirl the pan to keep the party going, but for the most part all you have to do is sip a glass of wine.

- At the last 2~3 minutes of your pasta cooking time, throw the broccoli (or any other veggies you're using) into the spaghetti pot. When the pasta is done to your liking, drain it with the vegetables and toss into the pan of spiced oil. Stir to coat. Dish up and enjoy.

And here's a sneak peek for tomorrow's post!

That's all for now!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Hello there!

So, to make my life a little easier I'm moving to a new domain! To all who knew me from White Plates ( I'll be really surprised if any of you did. :p), hello again. I'm really going to try to be more consistent here! Honest! And to all my new readers (again, I'll be REALLY surprised if there're many of you at the moment), I hope you like what's about to come over the coming months.

Here's to new beginnings, and full bellies!