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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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.


 

Gingerbread men

Soft in the centers, crisp on the edges, perfectly spiced =) No holiday cookie platter would be complete without our beloved gingerbread men!


Ingredients (yield 12 pcs):

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add golden syrup, egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.
  3. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired.

 

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!

 

Taiwanese Beef Noodles made with Dutch oven

My go-to recipe for a hearty meal full of braised tender beef, vegetables and plenty of carbssss!

Sluuuurp~


Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds meaty beef short ribs
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 3 slices of peeled fresh ginger, smashed
  • 1 bunch scallions, white parts smashed with flat side of a large knife and green parts chopped
  • 1.5 cup Chinese rice wine
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • 1 fresh red chile
  • 3 tablespoons of Doubanjiang
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grinded pepper
  • 2-3 cubes of rock sugar
  • 10 ounces dried Chinese wheat noodles
  • Bok Choy for garnishing

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
  2. Cut onions and tomatoes into wedges, scallions into sections.
  3. Chop short ribs into 3-inch cubes.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onions, tomatoes, scallions and ginger slices and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned.
  5. Dry the beef cubes with paper towels. Toss into the Dutch oven, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.
  6. Add the soya sauce, water plus Chinese rice wine, just enough to almost cover the meat.
  7. Add the rock sugar, pepper and Doubanjiang , toss in red chili. Bring to a simmer.
  8. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 2.5 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
  9. Serve with noodles and bok choy!

 

A woman’s love affair with doughnuts

There is no doubt that Bostonians love doughnuts. After all, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on every other block. The city even has a doughnut named after it (Boston Creme, anyone?). I mean, who can blame them? There’s something special about that fluffy, sugary, fried dough. I am not from Boston, but I’m in no way above the temptation of fried dough goodness. When Krispy Kreme closed all its stores in Hong Kong overnight ten years ago, a part of me was taken away…  Since then I go on a doughnut hunt whenever I’m out of town, independent joints or big chains, I visit them piously, almost like pilgrims.

These local doughnut places in Boston have survived the turf wars with Dunkin’ Donuts, many supported for years by a fiercely loyal clientele… and it’s not hard to tell why!


Union Square Donuts

20 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

Brown Butter Hazelnut Crunch is a real show stealer

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Kane’s Donuts

90 Oliver St, Two International Pl, Boston, MA 02110

Great selection of fancy donuts. Go for glazed and creme brûlée if you’re committed to an ultimate sweet tooth experience.

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Twin Donuts

501 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

Highlight is definitely the inviting neon sign!

Blackbird Doughnuts

South End, 492 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

We all need a confetti doughnut from time to time to celebrate life!

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Red Apple Farm

100 Hanover St, The Boston Public Market, Bostom, MA 02108

An apple a day keeps the doctor away…
So, why not eat your apple in donuts form?

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Flour Bakery

12 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA 02210

Not really a doughnut shop, but the bakery’s renowned sticky sticky bun, especially when fresh out of the oven, mimics the flavours of  a doughnut.

 

Cherry Cream Cheese Danishes

This, friends, is the moment we’ve been waiting for- spring is finally here! Beach vacation, sunshine, and sandal season are right around the corner. As the day gets longer, it’s the time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather (instead of working in the kitchen). For a quick springtime snack, light and easy is the name of the game. With this recipe, you can pull off some bakery-worthy pastries at home in just 30 minutes. Perfect for any time of the year, but I swear: they just taste better in spring!

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Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
  • 1 pack Cream Cheese (8 ounces), softened
  • 4 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned Cherry Pie Filling
  • Icing sugar for garnishing

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Take out a sheet of puff pastry and thaw for 10min.
  3. Cut the sheet into 6 equal pieces.
  4. With a knife, score ½” border around the edge of each piece of puff pastry. Use a fork to make five or six pricks into the area within the border (this will stop the center of the dough from rising).
  5. In a bowl, mix together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.
  6. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of mixture into the middle of each piece of dough and spread around evenly.
  7. Add about 6 cherries into the middle of the cream cheese.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.