Merry Cherry Sponge Cake

Let us eat cake, it’s somebody’s birthday somewhere. Oh, in fact it’s everyone’s birthday today!

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Ingredients (yield two 4-inch cakes):

  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 10-12 cherries, stoned and halved

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease two 4-inch cake tins with butter and flour.
  2. Lay the cherries at the bottom of the cake tins.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until pale and creamy.
  4. Fold in the flour until well incorporated. Transfer to the prepared cake tin.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
  6. Serve while still warm!

 

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Ferrero Rocher Cookie

Happy year of the dog everybody!

Chinese New Year is the time when you visit your friends and relatives, very often those you only see during this time of the year, and got “interrogated” by them =.=.  Gift plays an important role in Chinese culture, so you never go empty-handed! If you pay attention to TV commercials enough, you may notice that many of the most popular gift items among Hong Kongers are, interestingly, not Chinese produces. Kjeldsens Cookies, Almond Roca, Sugus, Ferrero Rocher… just to name a few. Ferrero Rocher is particularly popular in Hong Kong for its golden package, a color Chinese people love for it symbolizes wealth.  I’m not a superstitious person, but I do like their creamy, nutella-like centres!

And…. Surprise, surprise! They are equally nice when made into cookies!!


Ingredients (yield 12 pieces):

  • 6 Ferrero Rochers  (freeze them before baking)
  • 1 cup (packed) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼  cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Place the Ferrero Rochers in the freezer until firm, about an hour. Remove from freezer and hit with a hammer in a zip-loc bag a few times until they’re broken into chunky pieces. Put back in the freezer until ready to use.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the full egg, then the vanilla, mixing until smooth. Add flour mixture in three parts, stirring until just combined after each addition.
  5. Stir in ½ the Ferrero Rocher pieces. Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto prepared baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Place the remaining Ferrero Rocher into the tops of the cookies, pressing them into the dough slightly.
  6. Bake for around 10 minutes until edges are nicely browned. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Mushroom Garlic Butter Chicken Bake

Winter is here! Dark days of winter make me want to pull on my heaviest sweater and stay in bed all day. That’s where these simple, casserole recipes come in handy. Baked to perfection in a single pan – a hearty casserole always satisfies your hunger and warms you from the inside out.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 bowl sliced mushrooms

Creamy Parmesan Garlic Sauce:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup bacon
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree C. Season chicken with generous amount of salt and pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sear chicken on both sides, for about 3-5 minutes each side, until golden all over. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  3. Fry bacon in the remaining oil, add in mushroom and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, or until just beginning to soften. Transfer to the same plate as the chicken
  4. To make the sauce, melt butter, add in garlic and cook until tender. Whisk in chicken broth, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, pepper and salt.
  5. Put chicken and mushrooms back to the sauce, brush chicken with butter and sprinkle with extra salt and pepper, bake for 30-40 minutes.

Peanut Butter and Jam Rolls

Peanut butter has always been one of my favourite food. That’s been the case ever since I was a little girl. I may have developed a more refined palate over the years ( at least I hope I have… ). Still nothing- not the finest caviar, the most aromatic truffles or the flakiest croissants, can beat the pure joy of eating peanut butter straight from the jar. Haha, yes, still doing that, feel no shame for that!

Hope u like this bread roll idea as much as I do! There is just something about those two flavors that brings back childhood memories ♥


Ingredients (yields 6 rolls):

Dough

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/8 cup butter
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup jam

Honey for glazing

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cups flour, 1/8 cup sugar and pinch of salt, set aside.
  2. In a sauce pan, melt butter and milk until warm. Let cool to about 40 degrees C.
  3. Once yeast has proofed, add in milk/ butter mixture along with an egg to the flour mix.
  4. Stir to combine the remaining flour gradually, until dough starts to pull away from bowl.
  5. Dump out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, add in additional flour as needed, about 5 minutes.
  6. Cover the dough and let rise in warm place until doubled.
  7. Once doubled in size dump the dough out onto lightly floured surface and roll out into a 12″x15″ rectangle.
  8. Spread peanut butter over the dough (leaving 1” at the edges), then dollop jam over top, spread unevenly.
  9. From long side, roll the dough up, cut off edges and then cut into 6 equal rolls using dental floss.
  10. Place rolls cut side up in a greased muffin pan and cover again and let rise until doubled.
  11. Once risen preheat oven to 180 degrees C, bake for about 20minutes.
  12. Apply honey evenly using a brush, then bake for 10 minutes more.
  13. Serve warm!

 


 

Fluffiest Overnight French Toast

As the year ends, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what you have accomplished and look ahead to your new goals.

Cooking, hoarding recipes, photographing food and, of course, eating, have been my lifelong passions. Two years ago, I started the page << Miss Amateur Chef >>, this has changed my life and taken my obsession with food to a whole new level. The kitchen has always been my place of solace; working in the kitchen, testing recipes bring not only joy but beautiful memories. This little project of mine allowed me to properly document my favorite recipes- which I believe can now live on forever =)

Let’s start the new year with a scrumptious breakfast! This French toast is a real crowd pleaser, it comes out best when you work with thick slices of loaf bread and allow them to soak in the mixture overnight. “Preparation is the key to success”- this applies to cooking and everything else in life. May all our preparation in 2017 make us FIERCE and UNSTOPPABLE in 2018!!!

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Beat together egg, milk, salt, cinnamon and vanilla.
  2. Soak slices of bread in mixture overnight, until saturated.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat, cook bread slices on both sides until golden.
  4. Serve hot with maple syrup and berries.

 

Braised Short Rib with Sautéed Vegetables

So this is Christmas…

We all have a holiday tradition or recipe that we hold so dear and near to our hearts, don’t we? One that we keep making the same way for years and never get bored with. Boeuf bourguignon is one of such dishes for me. Hearty and so packed full of flavour. It is a must in our house in the winter months.

This Christmas I am trying to make an elevated version of beef stew based on Gordon Ramsay’s recipe with a few modifications: cutting down the amount of red wine and adding in extra tomatoes cause I like a little more acidity in the sauce. The vegetables are sautéed instead of adding to the stew at the very beginning so to avoid a soggy texture.

p.s. This is my first time working with pearl onions and they are truly god-sent!

 

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Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 3 thick-cut meaty beef short ribs
  • Minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 250ml bottle red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 100g pancetta lardons
  • 6-8 small chestnut mushrooms, trimmed and halved
  • 6-8 pearl onions
  • Carrots (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes cut in wedges

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

  2. Season the short ribs thoroughly, then panfry in the dutch oven for 10–15 minutes to brown well on all sides.

  3. Add the minced garlic, pushing it to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato purée and heat for a minute or two to cook it out. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits at the bottom. Put in tomato wedges.
  4. Bring everything to the boil and cook for 10–15 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half, then add stock to nearly cover the ribs. Bring to the boil again, basting the ribs with the juices.
  5. Put the dutch oven in the preheated oven for 3–4 hours, until the meat is tender and falling away from the bone.
  6. About 10 minutes before the short ribs are ready to come out, peel the pearl onions and boil them for 5 minutes.
  7. At the same time, panfry the pancetta for 2–3 minutes until crisp and golden. Add the mushrooms and carrots, cook for 4–5 minutes until tender. Drain off any excess fat.
  8. When the short ribs are ready, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish.  Spoon off any excess fat from the beef cooking liquid.
  9. Serve the short ribs topped with the hot pancetta and mushrooms and the sauce poured around.


 

Ochazuke with Seared Oysters 

Summer is almost at an end. Almost, but not quite yet. With the daytime temperature still reaching over 30 degrees, I have been craving for a dish that is light yet comforting…

That’s when Ochazuke (お茶漬け) comes in handy: a simple rice dish which combines green tea (ocha), steamed rice, and an assortment of savory ingredients (zuke means “submerged”). In Japanese homes, ochazuke is often regarded as a comfort food. It is typically enjoyed as a filler snack, any time of the day, but it is especially loved as a midnight snack (or as a hangover remedy)!

Try this really simple recipe and enjoy a hearty snack like your favorite manga character!

(You can use cold rice and cold dashi or tea in summer time to enjoy a more refreshing version of Ochazuke.)


Ingredients:

Ochazuke:

  • 1 cup cooked, steamed Japanese rice
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup hot brewed Japanese tea (I swear by the Gyokuro stems teabag from Nakamura Tokichi Honten!) , just enough to cover the rice
  • 1/2 tbsp of soya sauce (optional)
  • Pinch of white sesame seeds (toasted)
  • Pinch of shredded seaweed

Seared Oysters:

  • 3-4 oysters
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Set frying pan to medium-high heat.
  2. Pat oysters dry. Add to the pan and cook for a 1-2 minutes on each side until nicely brown.
  3. Remove oysters and reduce the heat to medium. Mix mirin, brown sugar and soy sauce, add to the pan.
  4. If sauce is nicely reduced and thickened, turn off heat. If not, continue to cook over medium heat until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Add in oysters and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until they are well-coated with the sauce.
  6. Pour the tea until it covers half of the rice and top with oysters. Add soy sauce if you like.
  7. Sprinkle sesame seeds and shredded seaweed on top for extra flavor.

 

Lu Rou Fan- Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice

Lu Rou Fan滷肉飯 (Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice)

Caution: The following recipe is not for the faint of heart!!

Okay, just think of it as Chinese Bolognese meat sauce! Although pork belly is the cut where bacon originates, and is known to be heavy in fat, you’ll find that the Lu Ro, despite flaunting thick layers of fat, is surprisingly not as greasy as you might have imagined. In fact, since the pork is cooked under low heat for an extended amount of time, the amount of fat is somewhat mitigated.

Braising has always been one of my favorite ways to cook meat; it is the best sort of kitchen alchemy- transforming tough cuts of meat into something completely flavorful and tender, and you know what… braised meat tastes even better the next day!


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb skin-on pork belly, cut into 1/2” pieces
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 piece of medium size rock sugar
  • a couple of shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1/2” pieces
  • 1/4 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 cups water
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, peeled (optional)

For the spices (wrap everything in the spice packet):

  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • cumin seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 slices fresh ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degree C.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over low heat, add in the sugar. Add the minced shallots when the sugar starts to melt. Turn up the heat to medium high and stir-fry the shallots for a minute.
  3. Add the mushroom pieces and chopped pork belly; stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Pour in the blanched pork, rice wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and water. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add the spices (which should be wrapped in cloth), along with the peeled hardboiled eggs.
  5. Transfer everything to the oven and cook for around 1½ hours.
  6. Once the meat is fall-apart tender, remove the spice packet. Transfer Dutch oven to the stove, cook under medium high heat to thicken the sauce, stir occasionally, for about 5-minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Serve over steamed white rice!

 

Mushroom and Chicken Braided Bread

“Good things come to those who bake.”

Sometimes, all you need to do is bake, and that very act will bring you instant peace and happiness. Whether you’re baking a loaf of brioche or whipping up some quick banana bread for breakfast, the joy that fresh, warm bread brings to the table is unlike any other.

Came across this ultra easy pizza dough recipe, calling for only two ingredients- greek yogurt and self-rising flour, on allrecipes.com the other day.  Instead of ordinary pizza, I used it for a more fancy-looking braided bread and I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out!

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Ingredients

Pizza Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Filling

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mushroom, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 bowl of chicken cubes (marinated to taste with salt and pepper)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 260 degree C.
  2. Mix flour and Greek yogurt together in a bowl; transfer to a work surface floured with self-rising flour. Knead dough, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from being too sticky, for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, about 3 mins. Stir in chicken cubes and mushroom. Cook for 5 more minutes, stir occasionally. Remove from heat.
  4. Unroll pizza dough on parchment sheet. Starting at center out, roll dough into 15 x10 -inch rectangle with a rolling pin. Sprinkle cheese over center third of dough. Spoon onion-chicken mixture evenly over cheese.
  5. Make cuts 1 inch apart on both long sides of dough to within 1/2 inch of filling. Alternately cross strips diagonally over filling; turn ends under and press to seal. Brush egg white over top.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes and then cut crosswise into slices and serve!

 

Rosemary and Parmesan Cheese Cookie

A nice change from all the sweet cookies out there. Crumbly, cheesy, and delicious… An ideal nibble with a glass of dry white wine!


Ingredients:

  • 1¾ all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon minced fresh Rosemary leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 250g butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 75ml heavy cream
  • Additional rosemary leaves and coarse salt for garnishing

Directions:

  1. Beat butter and lemon zest using an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Add in the egg yolk and cream.
  2. In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Cream together until well combined.
  4. Divide the dough in half.  Place each on a sheet of parchment paper, roll into a log approximately 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap logs tightly in the paper and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least two hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 160˚C.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Slice each log into 1/3-inch thick slices.  Space them 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Garnish each cookie with rosemary leaf and a light sprinkling of course salt.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until just golden at the edges.  Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.