Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.
Showing posts with label First Thing in The Morning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First Thing in The Morning. Show all posts

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Girl's Day In

“Too bad you always work on the weekends” I exclaimed assumingly, as we were mentioning that we did not hang out enough. You see, U, my kai jie (god-sister) works at days and times that are not the usual slaves of cubicle nations (like poor ol’ me), she could work from break of dawn or till the wee midnight, even on weekends and break on uncertain days of the week. It is nearly impossible to catch her, not to mention that she chose to stay quite far away, even in my context of after 7 years of staying in Klang Valley that requires quite a travelling distance to get to places (in Taiping context), which used to be where I stay in my days long gone. Ah, those were the days.

“Oh, I am off on this Saturday!” June shouts with excitement (through MSN mind you, but I can feel the excitement all the way from her house to my office).

“What!” that is all I can answer at the moment. It was a befuddlement to me. Then the moment passed and I got a grip on myself “We must hang out then! Catch up! What shall we do? Shopping? Eating? Watch a movie?” I babbled on and on like an excited kid that has been promised an all day outing.

“I am afraid of spending too much if we go out, let’s just stay in”, she says, at that moment I flash back to the last time we hang out, we watch movie, shopped and ate indulgingly as if we are some rich tai-tais (wives)having a day out, I blushed. Then a light bulb flashed right above my head, while my eyes roll up where I imagined a picture in my mind – U and I baking delicious stuffs out of her huge, and I mean huge oven that I had ooohed and ahhhed over when I visited her place the first time.

So I exclaimed “OK! Let’s stay in, we cook something and do some baking!”, and her resounding yes! had made my heart jumped with excitement. So that very Saturday, I went out to buy the necessary stuff that I can get at last minute (yes, that’s me again at it) and all my usual ka-changs, before heading off to her lovely home. When I reached, U had already begun baking chicken with baby potatoes and capsicums and loads of garlic. The house is already basking in wonderful food aroma, ah, how I miss those smells which make a house feels like home. Then like some chef cooking at home in her day off, she whips up spaghetti aglio olio with such style and flamboyant, she made me feel like I am eating food from a posh restaurant when we finally dig into the food. At same time we watched a chick-flick that I normally would not be watching, but it is alright because I was too busy enjoying the food anyway.

Finally when the show ended, and with me nearly falling asleep, she asked, “So what’s up for baking? “. When I told her I planned to make three bakes today, her eyes grew wide and I laughed, she just had to pardon me, who is someone that had been deprived of good baking therapy lately. Admittedly, I have not been baking much in recent times, so was a bit rusty on the baking instincts, and also due to ripping off recipes from my ever-long to-do list without thoroughly examining it, out of our three bakes, only one truly came out good. And luckily it was really good, I brought it the next day to work for breakfast, my sceptical colleague took a bite and say “hey, it’s good, just like those you can get in the famous-coffee-chain”. Ah, such things are what bakers or cooks out there would loved to hear, that the people who ate their food enjoys them as much as they do themselves, I did for mine!

Banana bread-fin
Adapted from Slow Like Honey

I called it banana bread-fin because, it was supposed to be banana bread but I made it into muffin sized because I had this bunch of muffin cups around and I want to take the shortcut in baking them. Muffins bake in nearly half the time than bread. Besides, the outcome is more muffin like, possibly due to some of my own modification of the recipes (I am always guilty of this, couldn’t help tinkering). Making it into muffin also gave me the chance to see U in action, where she shows how commercial bakers make muffins quickly, by scooping up the batter with their hand and squeeze into each cups, using their palms as ‘funnels’. We had such fun doing it, we forgot to properly swirl and level the top and coupled with us not putting the muffin cups in proper muffins trays, it resulted in whimsical muffins, where after a long good laugh, I find it quite adorable and it gave a homemade feel to them.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed banana
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped chocolates (optional) (or walnuts if it rocks your boat, I would have add this in if I had them)

Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C
Prepare 12 muffin cups in a muffin tray
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine together eggs, banana, sugar, and oil.
Add in the flour mixture and stir till just moistened (do not over-stir, batter should be lumpy).
Fold in the chopped chocolates (and/or walnuts) gently.
Squeeze batter into the muffin cups
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick poke in near the center comes out clean

Makes about 12 muffin cups if squeezed properly!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another Yummy Goodness

Did I ever mention before my love for Jamie Oliver? I have not? Psst, don’t tell J, yes I heart Jamie Oliver like how many other food bloggers as well. Who wouldn’t? He is charming, funny, kitchen savvy and with a big heart to boot. He was after all the man behind the Fifteen restaurant and the campaign against processed food in UK. But I fell in love with him way before that of course; he had me at Naked Chef. Seriously, he did. I have watched his series from television old and new diligently, ask Y she would know (she even used to ask me why and when I am going to make those wonderful things that Jamie made for her). Then later I downloaded some of his series out of desperation and the latest ones had me watching from youtube! I had even contemplated to join Fifteen before, I even wrote in and asked but too bad, the rule is that you must be a citizen of UK to be eligible. I was devastated thereafter, alright I am a bit whee overdramatic here, but I was pretty disappointed though. That is how much I love him.

Anyway, remember my previous post on my advocate on healthy breakfast? Alright, you know where I am heading here, oh-oh Granola Version 2.0. Well nearly, but no. You see, I did had my heart set to improve my version 1.0 to maybe 1.1 or so, yes I have a bit of geek streak in me, after all I work in an IT industry (though I wished it was food industry hah), because I have two new ingredients at hand that would work brilliantly in my granola. My mum went to Hatyai a couple of weeks ago and asked me do I want some cashew nuts, my eyes glimmered instantly, oh yes I do, please bring me some, raw please. My mum was confused when I said I wanted raw, she thought I wanted non flavoured roasted kind, I had to explain, no I want raw, whitish and uncooked kind, she thought I was mad. But luckily I got the message across and she lugged back that packet of gem for me. She also asked if there is anything else that I would want, oh yes I do, dried fruits please, any dried fruits in season will do when she asked and she brought back dried mangoes for along with her supposedly dried bananas which turn out to be banana chips (please pardon my mum, she is not really culinary incline) but that aside, I am so set to make my granola tropical! But alas, I did not manage because there were some technical difficulties (which were just a posh way to say I had a problem) in getting access to my oven, thus the plan deferred. Then I remembered that there was something called muesli, a non-bake sister of granola. Ah-hah! Making muesli would also be like killing two birds with one stone as a faithful reader commented at not being able to make my granola for not having an oven, so no more excuses for ya!

I did some search for the recipe of muesli and voila, I found it at, yes you guess it, Jamie Oliver’s site! This recipe is actually Jamie’s version of Bircher muesli which he named Pukkolla, oh yes he is cute that way, which includes with mixing your own muesli and then soaking it and adding in good stuffs before eating. Just head on to the forum to get his original recipe or you can see my version below. I made my version of Jamie’s Pukkolla which was his version of Bircher muesli. Oh no is this the geek side of me or the crazy side? Anyway, version to version, mine came out so good I am happy with it! I am sticking to the name Pukkolla as it is kind of cool (hope Jamie don't mine), with my running versions yet again! Ah, so geek.

Pukkolla My Version 1.0

Jamie as always advocating ease and rustic kind of cooking, his recipe was in handfuls, just grab and mix kind. I wanted to do that just to feel rustic ha-ha, but the inner female side of me emerged and I just had to measure my things, but don’t worry as I go roughly by cups and not by weight, else you can also convert all the cups to handfuls if you want to be rustic like Jamie. I also had kind of halved Jamie’s recipe as I really do not know what to do if with so much muesli at one time where I am the only one eating it, I also do not want to open my new pack of rolled oats just yet, so feel free to double it. Since I did not have bran on hand, and had the goodness of freshly ground flaxseed with me, I substituted them. Also in Jamie's show, he smashed his nuts in a tea towel, leaving bits of different sizes, which give this mixture an extra depth!

4 cups organic rolled oats
1 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chopped dried mango
1/2 cup sultanas/raisins
1/2 cup crushed almonds
1/2 cup crushed cashew nuts

Dump everything into a very large bowl, use your hand (so we are getting rustic here anyway) and mix everything well together.
Pour into an airtight container and store till when needed

The night before your breakfast:
Scoop half cup of your muesli mix into a bowl or container
Pour in about half cup of yogurt, or just enough to cover
Let soak overnight in the refrigerator

After a good night sleep, on next day for breakfast:
Remove bowl or container from the refrigerator
If you found it too thick, which I did, loosen with another roughly quarter cup of milk
Tuck in and enjoy

After that give yourself a pat on the head for having a wholesome breakfast and for listening to Tham Jiak!

Edited on 18th December 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Breakfast Version 1.0

This month had been eventful; I had a week long trip in Japan and took so many pictures I have yet to really process it. Also, catching up on work after a long break is definitely no easy feat, it took me half a day just to clear my inbox! Somehow though, I manage to finally kick start my baking adventures this weekend. It was not easy as everything is not at hand and I have to dig it out, clean it and start using it. But oh boy, was it worth it.

Since I have started into a healthy regime of sort, I have been looking out for interesting healthy food options. Contrary to the popular believe, I actually found that food which is good for you do taste good as well. Just like the Lui Cha that I mentioned before, all goodness pack into a bowl with plethora of taste and textures, I found another love in muesli.

Muesli stirred into plain fresh yogurt is an absolute heaven to start your day with. This was what I had frequently at work for breakfast, and as expected, I had mixed responses from fellow colleagues. Some do not even recognize what I am having, some cheered me for my good healthy choice while some salute me for being able to stomach it. Well I do agree that muesli is not exactly a normal breakfast fare for Malaysians, where we consume in abundance breakfasts like Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai, roti bakar (toast bread) with eggs, Wan Tan Mee (dried soy sauce noodles) and so on. With such indulging choices for breakfasts here, it is no wondered nobody ventured out further than that.

Of course we also do consume cereals and fresh milk at home apart from the usual bread with kaya, thanks to the heavy advertising by the giants bout 10 years ago but the idea of muesli and yogurt is still lost to many. For me, I thank the wonderful world of food blogging for introducing me to this seriously good, taste and health wise, food. It was also superbly convenient to have whenever you need a fulfilling breakfast or a quick healthy snack.

Ever since I have been consuming packaged muesli, I have been in awe of those who make their own mueslis or granolas. Ok wait, what is the difference between them? I am quite confused at first but from a quick read in Wiki here and here, I conclude that muesli are simply mixed grains, nuts and fruits while granola is a baked version of them. Correct me if I am wrong here, but anyhow, they both serves pretty much the same to me, crunchy goodness of oats, nuts and fruits all in one.

The batch of granola I made was crunchy and fragrant; as expected. Just like many bloggers have mentioned, after you make your own, you find that it is so easy and tasted so good, why would one ever go back to buy packaged one? So if you are one like me who found love in muesli or granola, do try to make one at home or if you are one who have yet to understand its delicious goodness, try it and be converted!

Granola (Version 1.0)

I had used recipes from various bloggers as guidelines to come up with my own version. Thanks to my limited supplies, I was just planning to try out so I did not splurge much on fruits and nut, I made a really simple version of granola. You would notice that halfway through I stirred in ground flaxseed, this is because I totally forgot about until the granola had started baking in the oven, and I had to ground my whole flaxseed then before I can use it. This is my currently working version where I would continue to refine and innovate to come out with an ultimate granola!

1 ½ cups rolled oats
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped almond
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp neutral oil
2 tbsp water
½ cup ground flaxseed

Mix all the dry ingredients together – oats, raisins and chopped almond.
Pour the dry ingredients onto prepared parchment paper on a tray.
Mix the honey, water and oil and then slowly stir into the mixture bit by bit.
Mix very well until everything is a bit moist and clumps together a bit.
Roast in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes. Stir it about every ten minutes.
Halfway through, stir in ½ cup of ground flaxseed for good measure!
When done, take it out and let completely cool before storing in airtight container.

Tip: serve ½ cup of granola stir into 1 cup of yogurt or milk or soy milk of your choice.

Update: Today while munching on my granola I found that some of my raisins were actually burnt, so I would advice to add in raisins maybe halfway through the baking.

Monday, August 07, 2006

It's Weekend Again

Well a week just flew by in a breeze. It is weekend again. Although I know the weekend breakfast blogging is meant for, well weekend cooking, which means taking more time to prepare and enjoy breakfast. In oppose, I either sleep late on weekends or eat out. On weekdays though, I prefer to enjoy some healthy homemade breakfast before going to work. Knowing that I have a lovely breakfast waiting for me seems to be a pretty good motivation to get out of bed. Now that is the best alarm clock in the world, don’t you agree? So I had this really good, healthy and substantial muffin recipe from 101 cookbooks really long time ago in my to-do list, which I cannot resist sharing it here. I can’t seem to find this post anymore in that blog, so I could not link it, but I will share my adapted version here though.

This muffin turns out great the way I imagine it would be, slightly chocolatey, with good thick texture, occasional encounter on soft raisins and crunch on the nuts. To top it off, it uses all the readily available ingredients in your pantry and is really versatile for substitutions accordingly. These huge muffins can only keep for bout 3 days in room temperature but fret not, it freezes really well, so far I still have 2 left in my freezer and it is still keeping well. Whenever I wanted to have it the next day for breakfast before work, I would take one out the night before, put it in a tall container and leave it in room temperature, and by the time I wake up in the morning, it is ready to eat. No better reason to wake up than breakfast; pour a cold glass of milk and enjoy with this yummy muffin. Eating one is enough to fill you up for the whole morning, without feeling as if you ate too much. It’s really good and healthy too! Give it a try.

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Muffins

I had, as usual, adapted the recipe to suit whatever I have or can get my hands on. Anyhow, feel free to experiment. Besides, I had halved the recipe to make do with my mini oven, thus there are cases like half a ¼ cup, which I hope you would understand, I advise to double the recipe since it freeze so well, for rainy days. The oat and bran cereal topping is optional, but it does give the muffin a novelty look besides adding more crunch and flavour to it. You can use whatever oat bran cereal you have, or even granolas. Remember to push it down slightly though when you sprinkle on before baking, as quite an amount of mine fell off during removal.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1.5/4 tbsp brown sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ overly ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup low-fat yoghurt
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup of nuts (walnuts, almond, pecan)
¼ cup of raisins (original calls for currants)
1.5/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Oil for preparing the pan
Oat and bran cereal for topping

Preheat oven to 180C/350F
Lightly oil a 6 hole muffin pan (I used an oiled tissue to wipe it)
Combine flour, brown sugar, cocoa and baking soda together.
Add in mashed bananas, yoghurt, egg white, vanilla, nuts, raisins and coconut.
Stir until combined.
Pour batter into the muffin pan and top with the oat bran cereal.
Bake about 25-35 minutes, or tooth pick is clean when inserted.

Makes 6 large breakfast muffins

P/S: I just bought a new camera, Canon Ixus 60! I am so ready to take lovely food pictures now. Do you notice the clearer and better muffin pictures? I must admit I need more practice though, as I am still testing out my camera’s various functions and getting use to its ability. So look out for more pictures for you to drool on, I hope ;)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What Breakfast Means

Since young, my mum had always enforced the importance of breakfast to us, my sister and me. Once someone told her that an egg a day would make your children grow up big and smart!(I can testify that the former is wrong, judging from my height, but I hope the latter is right ;) So, every morning for most of my pre-school, she would make half boil egg for us and a glass of Milo (a popular Malaysian chocolate malt drink). We practically eat the same breakfast everyday for school days until one point I am revolted with the smell of half boiled egg (which suddenly smell really raw) and my mum would insist I finish them. So every morning I would pinch my nose (I learnt from somewhere that we taste through our nose, ha-ha, cheeky me) and down the egg and then quickly wash down with milk or Milo. At one point my sister and I take up a banner and make a riot to sanction a ban on it. Ok, maybe a bit exaggerating but you get the idea. Finally we got our ban and moved on to other breakfasts. But knowing my mum, she would go the fast and easy way, and most of our breakfasts are then bread with jam, or peanut butter and so forth. Soon it got even lazier where my mum would just get chocolate milk drink in cartons.

That was a long time ago, and later I came to stay by myself in KL and soon found out how is it to live on my own. Many of my mornings went without breakfast, maybe an occasional cereal and fresh milk, but that’s about it. Most of my university days have me waking up when the sun is already halfway across the sky. Thus breakfast took a back seat in my life.

Now, as I grew up more and got into culinary adventures and food craze, I learnt that how important breakfast is (yes mum, I finally understand), and always look forward to have a good breakfast to
kick start my day. I even got the penchant back for half boiled egg, especially with toast and a good cup of coffee, kopitiam style. Nowadays, getting into the life of working, I need a good coffee to boost my day. I am now always in search for good and healthy breakfast recipes as I want to go home made style. of course I take into account on time and also ease of eating, as I would sometimes need to have my breakfast in the car. Life is all about rushing isn’t it?

Anyway, nowadays I seem to surf a lot on breakfast recipes and was mostly interested in the healthier options such as lower fat, higher nutrients and so forth. I had made quite a number for my everyday breakfasts before I got to work, and so you can be sure of more breakfast recipes to come. To me breakfast is something of a ritual, something exciting to look forward to the night before and the reason for you to get your bum off the bed in the morning. I wouldn’t call it a day without breakfast, won’t you too?

Ginger Molasses Cake
(adapted from Williams Sonoma)

I love ginger. It is one of the most useful spice that I ever came about. In Asian cuisines, it mostly used in savouries, especially with meats and in some sweet soups. Since our ancestral times, we know the goodness of ginger, of its medicinal properties, such as aiding in digestion after a heavy meal and also others such as aiding in nausea and other illness. This ginger cake that has crystallized ginger in it is something foreign to us Asians, Malaysians that is, but somehow I am attracted to it, imagining the flavours in my mind. This cake is really light and soft, despite the low fat content and the ginger flavours is just amazing. Sadly though, J did not enjoy it as he felt that it is weird and my housemate Y thought it was chocolate cake at first and got a surprise once she bit into it. She could not exactly guess the taste but once enlighten, she left the cake alone too. Well, I guess I am the only one having ‘foreign’ taste here. Don’t be put off though, if you’re a ginger lover and you love the thick heavy taste of molasses, this cake is definitely good eats, as it is really tender, moist, gingery and full of flavour from the spices.

3-4 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake/superfine flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup low-fat yoghurt

Preheat oven to 180C. line a 9 by 4 inch loaf pan with baking/parchment paper.
Beat the butter and sugar till creamy and fluffy.
Stir in molasses and crystallized ginger.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and the spices.
Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with yoghurt, starting and ending with flour.
Mix until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan and bake in oven for 45-50 minutes.
Transfer to wire rack and let it cool for 10 minutes or so.
Then turn the loaf out onto the rack.
Cool completely before storing.
It tastes divine warm out of the oven, still good in room temperature but it would turn hard once refrigerated. It keeps well for about 5 days in air-tight container and room temperature; if it is still around.
Now have a few slices and call it a day!

Serves 10-12.

P/S: This post is added into Nandita's Weekend Breakfast Blogging over at Saffron Trail. Do look out for the forthnightly roundup!

Update: The roundup is here, Part 1 and Part 2. More food to wake up to!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

To Start a Day

I had started embarking on my long due final year project and had little time now to cook or bake and share it here. But I am still trying my best to keep it up. After all, nothing beats home cooked food or the joy of indulging in own creations to cater to my sweet tooth.

Since I am working on my project, I found myself waking up much earlier than my usual routine, but still later than normal people (if you must know, it’s bout near to noon). Once up while I can still call it morning, I had a sudden pang to make my own pancake for brunch yesterday. It had always been something I wanted to try out but have yet to come across one healthy enough or sounds yummy enough for me.

Recently, I came across a recipe somewhere on the net that sounds promising enough and I had modified it to suit my own taste. It is a healthy pancake with whole wheat plus oats and natural yoghurt. It came out simply delicious and at the right note to start the day of battling work.

Whole Wheat Oat Pancake

Initially I wanted to make green tea pancake and had added 1/2 tsp of it, as I worry the taste would be too strong. It turned out that, not only there were no distinct green tea taste, I only managed to tinge my pancake to slightly greenish (you can see it in the picture if you look closely enough). I had omitted a pinch of baking soda by mistake, but to what effect I’m not sure; will try it again next time to see the difference. I have also found this pancake to be fragile while cooking, therefore be gentle when you flip it over, as you can see I have a crack on my pancake, but like what I have said for my chocolate chip cookie, it made it looks the more home made.

The pancake texture was just right, the type that I like which is ‘oaty’ and sturdy, while the taste was not floury (like some bad pancakes I had outside) and with a slight tinge of sourness from the natural yoghurt I had used. After making the pancake, I would love to have maple syrup to go with this, but alas I had no such luxury at hand. I did thought of honey but had forego it and suddenly a bulb light up in my head (seemed to happen every time eh) where I thought of using, yes you’ve guess it, my ol’ and still left at the dark corner of the fridge pandan kaya!

5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon rolled oats
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg (lightly beaten)
4 tbsp of natural yoghurt
1/2 tsp oil

a dollop of pandan kaya

Heat up the pan with a teaspoon of oil (use tissue paper to wipe it evenly over the surface)
Mix the dry ingredients together
Stir beaten egg and yoghurt briefly
Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir to incorporate
Pour batter onto the pan and use a spoon to spread it out into a round disk of bout 1cm thick
Flip over when it is done on one side and continue cooking
Once done, slide it out onto plate and serve with a dollop of pandan kaya or whatsoever that toots your horn

Serves 1 to kick start the day

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