Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lao Po Bing aka Wife's Cake

For a long time, I've always been intrigued by making Asian pastry or Chinese pastry desserts as each time we go and have dim sum, I will note the intricate details of the dim sum but yet not know how to make them.
This time, I've learnt how to make these beautiful lao po bing or otherwise known as wife's cakes. I've found out that there are several stories that claim to have led to the birth of wife's cakes but I think this version I'm telling you now is probably the least melodramatic one. In the province of Guangdong, winter-melon puffs were made by a woman and they were highly regarded as yummy by many who have tasted it. Her husband proudly declared in public that these puffs were made by his wife and hence, the name 'wife's cakes' remain since then.
Frankly, for those who want to make a simple lao po bing, I think you have to venture elsewhere but if you are looking for a concise and detailed recipe, you will get it here.
Water Dough
280g plain flour
50g caster sugar
100g shortening
150ml water (room temperature)
Oil Dough
200g cake flour
100g shortening
300g candied winter melon
80g gao fen (glutinous rice flour)
50g white sesame seeds (toasted)
100ml water
10ml oil (you can use olive oil or canola oil)
10g black sesame seeds
  1. For the water dough, pour the flour onto your working surface and make a well in the centre. Add in caster sugar, shortening and water and knead it into a soft dough. Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you may add all to your mixer and mix it until all the dough comes together and is relatively stretchable. To know if your dough is stretchable, stop your mixer and pull your dough to see if it stretches. If it only stretches abit, continue to beat for about 1 to 2 minutes and then test for the stretchability or elasticity again. Once it's elastic, stop immediately and let the dough rest on the working surface for about 20 minutes.
  2. For the oil dough, pour the cake flour onto the working surface and add shortening then mix well. Alternatively, you can also use your mixer to mix the dough together. Once the dough comes together, you can take it to use. Divide into 24 portions.
  3. Divide the water dough into 24 portions. To do this, just weigh the total dough and divide it into 24 so you will know each portion has how much weight (grams) in it.
  4. Take a portion of the water dough and use your rolling pin to flatten it then put a portion of the oil dough. Make sure your water dough covers the whole oil dough. Then use your rolling pin to roll it into a long thin strip vertically. From the shorter end at the top, slowly roll the dough downwards tightly to make a mini swiss roll. Once you are done with all 24 portions, let the dough rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, you can make the filling for the lao po bing.
  5. Chop or mince the candied winter melon. Add the rest of the ingredients together except the white sesame seeds and divide the filling into 24 portions equally.
  6. Roll 1 portion of the combined pastry into circular shape with rolling pin and put the filling in the middle and pinch the edges together and seal the pastry. Place the pastry with the sealed edges face down.
  7. Use your hands to press the pastry gently to flatten it and if you feel it's not flattened enough, you may use your rolling pin to flatten it more. Do the same for all 23 other portions.
  8. Brush your pastry with beaten egg yolk (you may use 1 or 2 egg yolks) and then sprinkle with the roasted white sesame seeds.
  9. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius or 180 degrees celsius (if your oven gets heated very fast).
  10. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius or 180 degrees celsius. Take note to bake your lao po bing for 12 minutes and then rotate your tray to bake for another 8 minutes.
You should get a lao po bing that looks like mine below.
To enjoy your 'harvest', you may make a cup of hot tea to go with it. This lao po bing can last for 2 weeks in airtight container or 3 months if you refrigerate it. You can reheat it in microwave for 10 seconds when you want to eat it.
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Jacques Pepin's Paella

Every month, we will have a mystery box challenge similar to that of Masterchef. It can be pretty fun to try to see what everyone comes up with.
For this month's Mystery Box Madness, I'm going to be using asparagus, scallops and rice. If this doesn't get you any hint on what I'm making, I'll tell you. I'm cooking Jacques Pepin's shellfish and chicken paella. It's my first time making paella so I'm crossing my fingers. Frankly, I do love to eat paella and it makes me smile to see a dish with so many ingredients in it.
This recipe is from Pepin's Essential Pepin. See my modifications in blue.
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 chorizo sausage (about 1/4 pound), skinned and cut into 12 slices
  • 4 small skinless chicken thighs (about 1 pound total) I used about 300g to 500g sliced pork
  • 1 cup diced (1/2-inch) white mushrooms
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups short-grain rice (Spanish, Italian, French, Asian, or American)
  • 1 cup alcaparrado, drained and rinsed under cold water, or a mixture of equal parts diced green olives, red pimiento, capers, and garlic
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes in sauce (I used about 1 chopped tomato)
  • About 1 1/2 teaspoons saffron pistils
  • 1/3 cup hot salsa
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock, homemade, or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 20 mussels (about 14 ounces total), washed and debearded
  • 5 large sea scallops (about 6 ounces total), rinsed under cold water to remove any sand
  • 12 uncooked large shrimp (about 1/2 pound total), with shells left on
  • 1/2 cup frozen petite peas 1 packet of asparagus (chopped lengthways)
  • 2 bell peppers (sliced lengthways)


    1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the chorizo and chicken pork and brown over high to medium heat for 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. (The recipe can be prepared to this point a couple of hours ahead.)
    2. About 30 minutes before serving time, reheat the mixture until it sizzles. Add the rice to the pan and mix well. Stir in the alcaparrado, tomatoes, saffron, hot salsa, chicken stock, and salt. Mix well and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 12 minutes.
    3. Add the mussels, scallops, and shrimp to the pan, placing them on top of the rice without stirring them in. Cover, increase the heat to medium, and cook for an additional 8 minutes. Add the peas asparagus and bell peppers, cover, and cook for 3 minutes longer. Stir well and divide among four warm plates. Serve.
    See how my paella turned out. I think it could have been better if I added less stock. If I ever cook this again, I would definitely add the stock bit by bit to avoid overadding the stock.
    I'm submitting this to I Heart Cooking Clubs.
    I'm also submitting this to Cook-Your-Books#22 organized by Joyce of kitchenflavours.
     photo 77951578-1914-4b72-8eda-9e40a91183ac_zps331eb4b4.jpg
    Link up your recipe of the week

    Sunday, April 12, 2015

    Quick-Roasted Chicken with Mustard and Garlic

    For our new chef for the next few months, we are going to be cooking from Jacques Pepin. I've never heard of Pepin before this. However, as I researched more about his recipes and his way of cooking, I'm intrigued as many of his recipes are definitely attemptable.
    To introduce Pepin, I'm going to try his quick-roasted chicken with mustard and garlic from Jacques Pepin's More Fast Food My Way. It's a really quick recipe and I've added my own shortcuts to it as well to make it even quicker :P This is definitely perfect for a lazy or tiring Sunday. See my modifications in blue below.
    One 4-pound chicken (1 packet or 900g chicken parts)
    4 large garlic cloves, minced
    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    2 tablespoons dry white wine
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1 teaspoon Tabasco
    1 teaspoon herbes de Provence thyme
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Using poultry shears, cut along each side of the chicken backbone and remove it. Turn the chicken breast side up and press on the breast bone to flatten the chicken. Using a sharp knife, cut partway through both sides of the joint between the thighs and the drumsticks. Cut partway through the joint between the wings and the breast.
    2. In a bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients. Turn the chicken breast down and spread it with half of the mustard mixture. Set the chicken in a large skillet skin side up; spread with the remaining mixture. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
    3. Set the skillet over high heat and cook the chicken until it starts to brown, 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the chicken for 30 minutes, until the skin is browned and the chicken is cooked through. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cut it into 8 pieces and serve.
    Make Ahead: The chicken can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight.
    Basically, I made this really easy by marinating it for a few hours and then when I'm ready to cook, I just place the chicken pieces onto a roasting tray and roast it instead of cooking it over the skillet before roasting it. My oven gives the chicken pieces crispy exterior which is sufficient for me so hence, the skipping of the skillet.
    With some roasted vegetables as a side, this roasted chicken with mustard and garlic makes a perfect meal for non-carbo lovers. Mr G says he can eat this every week. It's so delicious and you can barely smell the overpowering mustard for those who are not big fans of mustard. Try it for dinner if you have very little time to stand over the stove. I'm already a fan of Pepin with his easy recipes.
    I'm submitting this to I Heart Cooking Clubs in a bid for Bonjour to Pepin :)
    I Heart Cooking Clubs
    I'm also submitting this post to Cook-Your-Books#22 organized by Joyce of kitchenflavours.
     photo 77951578-1914-4b72-8eda-9e40a91183ac_zps331eb4b4.jpg
    I'm also submitting this post to Cooking with Herbs organized by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
    Cooking with Herbs
    I'm also submitting this post to Little Thumbs Up April 2015 organised by Doreen of my little favourite DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe.
    Link up your recipe of the week