Sunday, March 27, 2016

Leg of lamb tajine with prunes and almonds

Final product...
Easter weekend. What to make for dinner on a long holiday weekend and its raining outside? Something soupy and that warms up the body for sure. For some it may be comfort food like the Cottage Pie with Cheesy mashed potatoes or that warm but quick pho or that spicy and hot Nyonya curry noodles. I swear by these recipes. As I don't eat beef nor veal, I tend to substitute with either chicken or pork or lamb. 
Slightly browned onions...
For this holiday weekend, almost everyone swears by lamb or fish. Well we had fish on Wednesday and Thursday this week; that filled our fish quota for the week. And since lamb was on sale, why not. 
The browning of the lambs...
I first helped to cook this recipe with several mummy friends. We normally have this cooking session meet up during the winter months, at least once during the season. We made so much that it became lunch the next day for hubs and me. I was pleasantly surprised that O enjoyed this and he even suggested that I add in some chick peas next time. K was not that into this dish. 
Almost clean pan after heating some water to get more goodness out of it.

Plum prunes in black tea. 

This is a translated recipe from a French recipe site called The site is in French only and has really to go to recipes. I try my best in translating this and also add some pointers as to how I'd make this dish. Please feel free to click on the title below to go to the original recipe in French! :) 

  • 500g dried and pitted prunes
  • black tea (I make this from 5 teaspoon of loose Ceylon tea leaves with 700ml hot water)
  • 500g onions roughly chopped
  • some olive oil
  • 1.5kg leg of lamb in bite sized pieces (preferably without bones and as less fat as possible)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder (or half a stick of whole cinnamon stick)
  • 1/2 tsp of  ginger powder (or grated fresh ginger - about 1 tsp) 
  • 1 scoop of saffron powder (or about 5-10 saffron pistils) 
  • some crushed coriander seeds (about 1/2 tsp)
  • 100g blanch almonds
  • 3 tbsp of honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • enough water to cover meat
  1. Soak dried prunes in black tea.
  2. fry the chopped onions in some olive oil until slightly translucent. Take out the onions and transfer them into a casserole pot. 
  3. In the same pan, brown your lamb pieces. The idea is to give them some colour and some say to seal in the good stuff. Do this in batches as it will be easier to brown. Transfer these into the same casserole pot. 
  4. Add in your cinnamon, ginger, garlic and saffron. You may also add roughly chopped carrots. 
  5.  Then pour in some water, until just enough to cover your meat. Turn on the heat to high until boiling and then to low to simmer for about 1 hour with the lid on. I normally pour some water into the still hot pan that I used to brown the meat to sort of "clean it" and bring the caramelised meat "leftovers" into the casserole pot.. 
  6. Once 1 hour is up, drain the soaked prunes and add them into the casserole. Continue to simmer for another 20 mins. Try drinking the tea from the soaked prunes. Very delicious! 
  7. Mean while, toast the blanched almonds in some butter and add these into the casserole with the 3 tbsp of honey. 
  8. Continue to simmer for another 5 mins with the lid off. Make final taste adjustments and it is ready to serve with couscous. 
Run out of blanched almonds, figured that non blanched ones will not make a lot difference...
I might make this again but will replace lamb with chicken tights. Someone in our household will go hungry just because he doesn't like lamb smell... :p I think eating lamb or even beef needs an acquired taste buds. Just like eating bitter gourd or coriander leaves. 

Baked custard bun - the ALMOST epic fail...

Freshly baked and ready to eat! :) 

I recently ate this in a restaurant about 2 weeks ago with some friends. It wasn't baked but steamed variety. I really liked it but there was something missing. I've had this type of bun before back home and this time around it did not quite meet my choosy tongue/taste buds' expectation. And sure enough I though to myself why not make the bake version instead of the steamed one just to try. 

The custard consistency you'll need. Looks like custard dough! :p
Flatten dough

So off I went looking around WWW for the baked recipe. I finally found one here and think to myself looks easy enough. As I was going through the recipe, I realised that the person who wrote this must be of Asian origins. Don't get my wrong, there are lots of Asian people out there with strong English command blogging like your typical ang moh. The reason why I suspected it its because of the way it was written. 
These looks huge rather than your typical teaspoon sized. 

Ready for baking! 

I got really confused at one point having to guess (teka-teki time bah) what is she trying to express. On top of that there wasn't any photos posted as to explain how the recipe should look like once it was mixed in or cooked or wrapped up... 
Fresh from the oven. My whole wheat custard baked buns. :)

One reasons why I would not even read through a sewing tutorial if there is no photo as to show or even inform stupid people like me how the item should look like each step or every important step. Oh the perils of trying to follow a recipe or sewing tutorials on line.  

If anyone is interested in this recipe, please follow the ingredients as per link here but here is the method my version. 

For the Custard
  1. Warm milk in a small pot over low heat. The milk should be just warm not hot. 
  2. Mix your flours and sugar together in a bowl. 
  3. Beat the egg yolks until pale in colour and almost double in volume. Add in the sugar flour mixture while stirring it; you switch off your mixer and stir it. Otherwise you'll get flying sugar flour everywhere. 
  4. You then pour your warm milk in slowly while mixing it with your mixer switched on, on low please. Please retain your small pot for step 6. 
  5. Once it is well blended, add in your butter and vanilla. 
  6. Now you transfer the custard mixture into the small milk pot, using low heat to cook the mixture until its very thick* while constantly stirring it. This is to avoid the bottom being burnt and also mixture curdling too fast. Otherwise you can always use double boil method. * Thick as in you can spoon it and roll it consistency. 
  7. Once the thickness consistency is achieved, switch off the heat and transfer it into a bowl. Cool the custard down before chilling it for an hour or so in the fridge. 
For the bun
  1. While the custard is "chillaxing" in the fridge, mix everything except for the butter and olive oil to create the dough. 
  2. Add in your butter. Knead the dough until it has an elastic feel.  
  3. You then pour in olive oil but do not mix it. Just rub it around the dough. Cover your dough and leave in a warm room to poof for about an hour or until double in size. 
  4. Punch down the dough and make 15 rolls. 
  5. Make the same amount of chilled custard filling, a teaspoonful for each ball. 
  6. Flatten the dough rolls with your palm, insert your custard filling and warp them up. Roll them as best as you can, make sure that there is no holes. Otherwise you'll get leaky buns. 
  7. Arrange the buns on a parchment lined tray, cover them with cling film and let them poof again for an hour. I used my brownie tray for this. 
  8. Preheat your oven at 200°C. Using a mixture of 1/2 egg (the rest from the bun recipe), 1 tbsp of water and 1 tbsp of milk, you egg wash your buns. Bake your buns for 15 mins. 
  1. As I am using whole wheat flour for this recipe, I used 1 1/4 tsp of yeast instead of 1 tsp. 
  2. Please make sure your butter is at room temperature as it will incorporate really well and quickly into the dough. 
  3. Also since my kitchen is not as warm as in say any typical SEA homes, I normally poof my bread dough in a warm oven! LOL... Works for me. Warm your oven at 100°C for about 15 mins, switch it off and wait for 10 mins BEFORE putting your dough in a covered bowl to poof as per recipe. Best to use stainless steel bowls for this. 
  4. As I am using vanilla paste as opposed to vanilla extract. Yes I am such a snob in this! :p Between extract and paste, I prefer the paste as it brings out the real vanilla flavour. With extract not so much and you'd have to use much more than paste or beans. Plus I really like the tiny tiny flakes of vanilla in my baked goods. 
  5. This custard recipe will yield you more custard filling than dough. I might have to make more dough tomorrow to finish off the custard filling on hand. Perhaps using all purpose flour this time. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Keep on hopping...

Some Bunny  
Here's a really cute bunny by Some Bunny DMC hopping its way to down under. Its a commission by a friend for a new born. I've stitched this for my boys, niece and nephew as a birth sampler before. The charts are really simple and really cute. The chart originally was in a kit and as with kits, once all threads are gone, it was time for replacements. 

This gave me a chance to get plastic containers for my floss and organise it as I should have in the first place. For the moment they are arranged by numbers and in zip lock bags. Later I'm planning on making a spread sheet to sort of take stock of what floss I own, what I'm running on low and what I don't have. Hopefully with this method I'll avoid buying extra of what I have tons of. :)
Little House Needleworks
As I was re-arranging my floss containers, I got to unearth 2 of my finished XS work that is still unframed. One of them is Home of a Needleworker by Little House Needleworks, a SAL with ladies of NNC (a stitching group I'm in). I truly enjoy SAL when its a small to medium size projects. Big ones is really overwhelming. The other one is The Time I Spend Stitching by Dragon Dreams. done with speciality stitches and with metallic floss. 

Dragon Dreams chart
This is one mistake most of us do; be too ambitious and go start a big project when we are starting on XS. Mind you, yours truly here has big a** UFOs. Silly me was thinking, yeah I'll have plenty of time when the boys are small etc etc...YEAH RIGHT! Still hasn't happened, the extra time. LOL... One of the projects is a9 Koi Carp by DMC. UFO since late 2007.... :p I think its high time to take action in attacking it slowly but surely. One UFO at a time.