Tuesdays with Dorie – Pfefferneusse (Dec-16)

This is the first time I’m baking along with a group….and it’s been great fun: I now have motivation to bake based on recipes in a great cookbook, as opposed to just eyeing the beautiful pictures in the cookbook….lol…


Anyway, here’s the first bake from Dorie’s Cookies: Pfefferneusse.  I’ve never eaten this cookie before and therefore wasn’t sure about the correct texture to achieve.  Dorie says it’s dry and firm – so does it mean it’s crumbly and firm or crunchy/crispy and firm?  I asked my best friend, Mr Google, for more information, but didn’t find anything conclusive….

I baked the cookies for 20 min at 175 degree Celsius and they definitely turned out dry and firm, and crumbly as well, but nonetheless very delicious.  I’m not a fan of spiced stuff, but these cookies grew on me 🙂

I will be happy to hear what texture fellow bakers have achieved with this cookie and recipe 🙂


My List of Favourite Eating Places in Hong Kong

Having visited Hong Kong a number of times, I’ve been asked by various friends about what’s nice to eat in Hong Kong. So, I thought it would be easier if I compile a list to share with them. This list (in no particular order) is compiled based on my previous trips and is of course, based on my personal preferences 🙂. Without further ado, let the pictures, where available, do the talking…

1. 住家菜 (www.home-feel.com)

This chain of 3 restaurants is good for its home-style food and soups that taste homely. Prices are reasonable too! Dishes to try: 阿嬤雞 (pre-order), 魷魚馬蹄蒸肉餅, and soup of the day. Best to make reservations.

This is 阿嬤雞.

Lee Theatre Plaza Branch: 99 Percival St, Lee Theatre Plaza, 7th floor, Causeway Bay. Tel: 31050339

Jaffe Rd Branch: 460 – 462 Jaffe Rd, Causeway Bay. Tel: 31050456. Close on Sun

Mody Rd Branch: 68 Mody Rd, Empire Centre, UG/F Shop 50 – 57, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: 31050515

2. Tai Cheong Bakery  泰昌餅家 (http://www.taicheongbakery.com/tc/)

I love the egg tarts from Tai Cheong: buttery, melt-in-the-mouth crust holding satiny smooth eggy custard….Yummy! The ones in Singapore simply pale in comparison, imho.

There are various branches around Hong Kong. The flagship shop is at 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central. Check out their website for the locations of the branches.

3. Kau Kee  九記牛腩

The beef brisket is braised till tender and the soup has lots of beefy goodness. The shop is located at 21 Gough Street, Central. Be there early to beat the queues!

4. Lan Fong Yuen  蘭芳園

While I personally feel that its standard has dropped slightly (based on my recent trip in Dec 2010), I still love the pork chop buns and French toast they serve. Flavourful pan-fried pork chops, sandwiched, together with a smear of mayonnaise and sliced tomato, in toasted burger buns.

Pork chop bun: looks simple, yet satisfying….

French toast: drenched in eggy goodness….

Address: 2 Gage Street, Central

Note: be prepared to wait and share tables with strangers…

5. Mui Kee Congee  妹記生滾粥品

This is my favourite congee stall in Hong Kong which is located in a food centre. They cook the base congee in a huge pot. Upon your order, they will cook the congee with the rest of ingredients in a copper pot. The resulting congee is delicious and has a slight “wok hei” flavour. I strongly recommend the pork ball congee. The pork ball comprises marinated minced meat with “tai tow choy”.

Pork ball and fish stomach congee. See how smooth the congee is….

Address; 123A Fa Yuen Street, Fa Yuen Street Market, 3/F, Shop 12, Mongkok

6. Yuen Kee Dessert 源記甜品

If you like to eat traditional “tong shui”, I recommend you to try Yuen Kee. They are reputed to use traditional methods, i.e. using a stone miller, to prepare the tong shui.

Sesame paste with lotus seeds

Sang Kee soup with lotus seeds: reputed to have health benefits…but I forgot what they are 😛

Fluffy “gai dan ko” to accompany the tong shui

7. Sang Kee Congee Shop 生記粥品

Sang Kee’s congee is also very good. I love their fish stomach congee. Meat balls are not bad, but I personally prefer Mui Kee’s.

8. Keung Kee Roadside Stall  強記

This shop sells simple-looking small eats, like pork bone congee, rice flour rolls, glutinous rice with chinese sausages…Good for supper…though they start opening from lunch.

Rice flour rolls, aka 腸粉: pan-fried slightly to achieve crispy edges

Glutinous rice with chinese sausage

Fried noodles

Pork bone congee: ultra-smooth and flavourful…

Address: 382 Lockhart Rd, junction of Lockhart Rd and Marsh Rd.

9. Keung Kee Restaurant  強記飯店

This place serves a value-for-money and tasty roast goose. At night, they also do dishes, cze char style. Sorry, no pictures, as we were so hungry and the food looks good….so we forgot to take pictures….

Address: 9 – 17 Tin Lok Lane, Wanchai

10. Sang Kee Fish Noodles

The fish soup noodles is fabulous, nothing like what is available in Singapore. The condiments, fish puff (魚腐), fish cake – steamed and fried, are equally delicious. When I was in Hong Kong, I went there twice in a row. I shan’t “say” anymore – the picture will paint a thousand words…

See how milky the soup is…with all the natural fishy goodness…

11. Spring Deer  鹿鳴春

This is a nondescript Pekinese restaurant, tucked away on a second floor. The restaurant is very simply furnished, but it serves one of the most delicious Peking duck, with wraps (which are more like pita bread type, rather than the usual eggy crepe served in Singapore). This restaurant also serves beggar’s chicken, which must be pre-ordered in advance.

Beggar’s chicken – before “unwrapping” the mud casing…

Beggar’s chicken: tender, moist, flavourful

Address: 42 Mody Road, 1/F, Tsim Sha Tsui

Tel: 2366 4012, 2723 3673, 2366 5839. Must make reservations. Best to book at least 1 week in advance.

12. Tai O Crossing Boat Restaurant  橫水渡小廚

A gem located in a village on Lantau Island. If you visit Tai O, I strongly recommend you to visit this place for lunch. Must-tries are:

大澳咸鮮籠仔荷葉: rice steamed in lotus leaves. Condiments are pork marinated with Tai O prawn paste, small fresh prawns, dried prawns, ikan billis.

墨魚餅 (pan-fried cuttlefish patties): full of cuttlefish goodness..can’t really taste the flour…maybe, they didn’t use it!

Veggies in fish broth (Tai O style). The fish broth is very flavourful and fresh-tasting…

Address: 33 Kat Hing St, Tai O

13. Old man selling “gai dan tsai” in Tai O at Tai O Market Street

After eating lunch at the Tai O Crossing Boat Restaurant, hang around to wait for an old man who sells “gai dan tsai” in the afternoons. He cooks the “gai dan tsai” over charcoal, which is rare in Hong Kong. The cakes are solid through and through (see below), unlike others, which only have shells (if you know what I mean….)

This is the old man….he sets up stall along the road, outside a shop at Tai O Market Street

14: Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop  麥文記麵家

Beef brisket noodles and pig trotter noodles are delicious. The wonton noodles are not bad too.

Beef brisket noodles

Nam yu pig trotter noodles: tender pig trotters with nam yu flavour

Wonton noodles

Address: 51 Parkes St, Jordan

15. 佳佳甜品

After eating at Mak Man Kee, you could drop by here for dessert. The shop opens in the afternoon and sells a delicious bowl of sweet potato soup, laced with ginger…lovely on a winter day….

Besides sweet potato soup, they also sell tong shui. Clockwise from top left: walnut paste, sesame paste, sweet potato soup, almond paste.

Address: 27A Ningpo St (寧波街), Jordan

16: Jenny Bakery (http://www.jennybakery.com/)

Although this is technically not an eating place, I would like to share with you the cookies sold here – they are simply delish. The butter cookies come in two types: a 4-mix assortment and a 8-mix assortment. The types in the 4-mix assortment are different from the 8-mix assortment. The cookies in the 4-mix are more melt-in-the-mouth type, while the ones in the 8-mix are more crunchy and have nuts. The cookies are popular with the locals who buy them as gifts as they are packaged in tins with lovely designs. As a testament to their popularity, especially during festive seasons, I had to start queuing at least half an hour before opening and within 2 hours of opening, they are fully sold out for the day. I also understand that they don’t take orders during festive periods.

Jenny Bakery’s flagship shop is in Stanley, but they have branches located in Central, Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui and Yau Ma Tei. Check out their website for the branches and opening hours.


Please feel free to share your recommendations 🙂

Easy Chye Tow Kueh

After tasting success with the easy law pak ko, hubby and myself tried to convert it into an easy version of chye tow kueh too. The following is the result of several trials and error….

The chye tow kueh is firm enough to fry and is fluffy inside. Here’s the recipe:

Chye Tow Kueh


180g carrot, finely grated

750g white radish, coarsely grated

400g rice flour

4 tbsp potato starch

750ml tepid water

750ml boiling water

3 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar


1) Steam carrot for about 15 min or until soft. Set aside to cool.

2) Lightly poach the grated white radish in boiling water for 3 min to remove the strong earthy smell. Squeeze out most of the water and set aside. Don’t squeeze until the radish is dry; radish should still retain a little bit of water.

3) Combine rice flour and potato starch in a large bowl. Add tepid water and mix till flour is dissolved. Then stir in steamed carrot and poached radish and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine boiling water, salt and sugar. Add the boiling water mixture to the radish mixture and mix well.

4) Pour batter into a lightly oiled square tray (20cm x 20cm) or round tray (25cm – I used 27cm and steamed for 45 min) and spread evenly.

5) Steam for 45 min to 1 hr. Leave to cool to room temperature, then keep refrigerated until ready to use.

6) Before serving, cut into desired shape and size (ideally bite-size pieces), then pan-fry according to preference.

Easy Law Pak Ko

Hubby and myself tried a new Law Pak Ko recipe that we came across in the Sept 2010 Food & Travel magazine. Our previous attempts were unsatisfactory. So we were game to try a new recipe.

This version is much easier to handle as there’s no need to fry the mixture in the pan. Instead the flour is dissolved in tepid and boiling water. The results of the pan-fried version: crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy in the inside…basically, hubby and myself think that it’s a real success 🙂 – much better than the previous attempt.

Here are some pictures to share with you….

Before pan-frying….

After pan-frying….

Here’s the recipe (source: Sept 2010 Food & Travel magazine, recipe from Chef Hiew of Mandarin Oriental’s Cherry Garden Restaurant). I’ve also modified the steps slightly and inserted some notes:

Law Pak Ko


60g dried shrimps, soaked and drained

Oil for cooking

60g chinese sausage, dried (I used 90g)

60g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and dried

750g white radish, coarsely grated

350g rice flour

4tbsp potato starch

750ml tepid water

750ml boiling water

4tsp salt

2tbsp sugar

ground white pepper (i used 1 tsp)

few drops sesame oil


1) Heat about 1 tbsp oil in wok. When oil is hot, add dried shrimps and fry for 1 min, then add chinese sausage and mushrooms and saute until fragrant. Set aside.

2) Lightly poach the grated white radish in boiling water for 3 min to remove the strong earthy smell. Squeeze out most of the water and set aside. Don’t squeeze until the radish is dry; radish should still retain a little bit of water.

3) Combine rice flour and potato starch in a large bowl. Add tepid water and stir till the flour is dissolved. Then stir in fried ingredients and poached radish and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine boiling water, pepper, salt and sugar. Add the boiling water mixture to the radish mixture and mix well. Finally, add sesame oil (to taste, but not too much) and mix well.

4) Pour batter into a lightly oiled square tray (20cm x 20cm) or round tray (25cm – I used 27cm and steamed for 45 min) and spread evenly.

5) Steam for 45 min to 1 hr. Leave to cool to room temperature, then keep refrigerated until ready to use.

6) Before serving, cut into desired shape and size (ideally bite-size pieces), then steam or pan-fry according to preference. Serve with XO sauce – but I like to eat it plain 🙂.

Update: I made some edits to the recipe based on recent experiences….

Recent Bakes

Sharing with you my recent bakes….

1) Japanese Cheesecake: recipe from here

The only modifications I made was to replace the cream in sect A with milk and use 5 egg yolks and 5 egg whites.

It’s also important to beat the egg whites properly: see here.

I’m so glad to find out that my mini oven can brown the top nicely…Also, the sides are smooth…I didn’t use a springform pan to bake it, just an ordinary metal pan.

2) Junior’s New York Cheesecake: recipe from Junior’s Cheesecake Book

This is different from the Japanese Cheesecake, which is light and fluffy, and does not have a “heavy” cheese taste. It is also different from the Lime & Passionfruit cheesecake I baked earlier, which is light and yet creamy. This New York Cheesecake is the dense and creamy type.

One thing that I wished I had done better was to brown the top more evenly….

I made some modifications to the recipe:

  • Made a biscuit base instead of baking a sponge cake base
  • Used 750g cream cheese instead of 24oz
  • Reduced sugar to 170g instead of 1 1/3 cup (but brother commented that it tastes a little a savoury.…perhaps to try increasing to 200g)
  • Used 200ml whipping cream instead of 2/3 cup

3) Lime & Passionfruit Cheesecake

Although this has been mentioned in a previous post, I thought it would be good to put a pic here to show the contrasting textures of the cheesecake, resulting from the different proportions of cream cheese to whipping cream and the different methods of including eggs (Japanese Cheesecake requires an egg white meringue, while the other 2 just require eggs to be beaten in).

4) Cupcakes: from the Primrose Bakery Cookbook

Earl Grey Cupcakes

Cranberry & Orange cupcakes

These were baked in a silicon tray, but they were not cooked at the specified baking times…resulting in crusty tops and a dry crumb….:( need to experiment again….

5) Chocolate Chip Cookies: based on the New York Times recipe which was widely blogged about previously

I think these are the BEST I’ve tried to date although the choc chunks are a little too sweet for my liking….But these still become crunchy after 2 days although I kept them in an air-tight container (the lock & lock one)….Wonder whether is it because of the humid weather in Singapore.

I now honestly appreciate the quality of chocolate that goes into the cookie….No more Hershey’s or Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks….I’m going to look for better alternatives!

By the way, I replaced the cake flour and bread flour with all-purpose flour…wonder does that affect the retention of the chewiness. I’ve seen recipes that use bread flour only…perhaps I will buy some bread flour and use all bread flour….

Lime and Passionfruit Cheesecake

My Da Jie was very kind in providing me with 8 passionfruits to bring back home when I visited her 😀 Paid homage to the passionfruit by baking a lime & passionfruit cheesecake. Da Jie, here’s a slice of the cheesecake dedicated to you 🙂

Used my new 9″ springform pan and was horrified to find out, after doing the crust etc. and just before filling the pan with the batter, that my usual roasting pan could not accommodate the springfoam pan! Luckily, I found another bigger round cake tin to hold springform pan, otherwise….sigh!

Anyway, I learned some new stuff while baking this cheesecake:

  • By greasing the sides of the pan, the chance of getting smooth sides is higher.
  • When adding cream into the mixture, make sure that the cream is lump-free too….otherwise the cheesecake mixture will have lumps – horrors of horrors!!

I fancy that using 500g cream cheese achieves a cheesecake that is too low for my liking…I prefer a much higher cheesecake :). But that’s a personal preference.

As for the verdict: it’s smooth and creamy. The tangy passionfruit complemented the richness of the cream cheese, making the confection not too rich. Glad that Hubby liked it, even though he’s not a fan of sweet stuff.

It seems like the texture of the cheesecake (light vs dense) is also dependent on the proportion of whipping cream to cream cheese: this recipe uses 200ml whipping cream to 500g cream cheese; I did another cheesecake which uses 200ml whipping cream to 750g cream cheese, and this cheesecake is more dense.

Here’s the recipe I used, which was adapted by combining the recipes from “In the Kitchen” and “Cheesecakes, Pavlovas and Luscious Desserts”:


150g digestive biscuits

60g melted butter

500g cream cheese

110g caster sugar

juice of 1 lime

zest of 1 lime

2 eggs

3 egg yolks

200ml whipping cream

100ml strained passionfruit juice (from abt 8 passionfruits)


1tbsp caster sugar

3tsp cornflour

passionfruit pulp (strained for juice earlier)


1) Grease sides of pan with butter.

2) Place biscuits in a food processor and whiz to form small crumbs; add melted butter and process briefly. Press biscuits into the bottom of a 22cm springform cake tin. Wrap the outside base with foil, using 2 pieces to cover the base. This prevents water seeping into the cake during baking. Place in fridge to set, for at least 20 min.

3) Preheat oven to 170 deg C

4) Beat cream cheese until smooth, add sugar and beat. Add cream, lime juice, passionfruit juice and lime zest, stir till combined. Then whisk in eggs and yolks, one at a time.

4) Place cake tin in a deep baking tray. Pour in cheesecake filling over biscuit base. Pour boiling water into baking dish to come halfway up the cake tin. Place carefully in oven. Cook for 1hr or until the cake is just set, still with some hint of wobble. Allow to cool on a cooling rack before refrigerating, preferably overnight.

5) To make the topping: Combine the sugar, cornflour and 2 tbsp water in a small pan over low heat. Stir until smooth, add 2 more tbsp water and passionfruit pulp and stir until mixture boils and thickens. Pour hot topping over the cheesecake, spread evenly and then leave to cool completely. Refrigerate overnight.

We Did It!

Yes, we did it – we finally got the hang of making chye tow kueh (ctk) with the features we love: ctk firm enough to fry and yet soft and chewy….

Earlier attempts either produced too “hard” a ctk for our liking, or too soft to fry till it becomes mushy….

A few important tips….

  • Keep to the proportion. Do not double it. If you want to make more ctk, make another batch….
  • Fry till the dough becomes sticky….
  • Add a little oil to the surface of the ctk to prevent condensation going into ctk while steaming….
  • Buy a slightly heavier radish, cos after cutting of the head and tail and removing the skin, the weight is considerably lower.

No more commercial ctk….I followed Baking Mum’s recipe except that I used 400g radish and 200g carrot.

Another Brownie Recipe

Since my brother is back for holidays, I took the opportunity to try another brownie recipe. This time, I used James Peterson’s recipe (from this book), which holds great promise for the features I look out for in a brownie: an in-between brownie (i.e. cakey and fudgy at the same time) which is not too sweet.

By the way, I like James Peterson’s book: Baking. His instructions are clear and concise and there are accompanying pictures to guide you along. Great for a novice baker who wishes to expand his/her repertoire, imho.

Now, back to the brownie….The brownie is indeed not too sweet, but it is more fudgy than cakey, even though I baked it till the there’s-no-crumbs-when-toothpick-is-inserted stage. Wonder is it because I swapped ¼ of the flour for cocoa powder and added 1 tsp of Tia Maria….

Anyway, I think it’s still a great brownie! 😀 To all fudgy brownie lovers, here’s sharing with you a slice of brownie heaven….

The next brownie recipe that I will try: Dorie Greenspan’s classic brownies…One day, I shall do a taste test to find out my favourite brownie recipe!

Chocolate & Banana Cupcakes

I’ve been wanting to try new cupcake recipes, as I felt that the one I’ve been using is a tad too oily….So, this week’s de-stress project is baking chocolate and banana cupcakes, using a recipe from London’s Primrose Bakery (Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery).

I used 136g butter (didn’t want to have leftover butter), 507g bananas (the recipe says use 4 bananas) and increased the plain flour to 275g. The first few batches, while were cooked, were a little too moist and did not have a golden hue. Subsequent batches were baked slightly longer to achieve more firmness (but still very moist) and a golden hue.

I’m happy with the results: it’s not too oily (unlike my previous cupcakes), not too sweet. While baking, the homely fragrance of baked bananas wafted through the air. Now, all I need to improve is the amount of batter to fill into the patty tins in order to achieve fuller cupcakes and tweak the amount of bananas so that it’s not like a sticky banana cake (I wonder how heavy is 4 bananas in England??). This recipe is really a keeper and I can’t wait to try out the other recipes in the book.

Calla’s notes:

  • Although the toothpick test reveals that the cake is cooked and the top is springy to touch, if the cake doesn’t look golden brown, bake it longer till it’s golden brown, otherwise the cake may be a little too soft (sides do not feel firm). Do monitor carefully, as it’s often a matter of seconds that burning occurs.
  • I used 507g bananas, but I think there’s too much banana, such that it makes the cake like a sticky banana cake (although to me, the pictures don’t seem to be so). I would experiment with lesser bananas to create a less sticky cake.

  • Although recipe calls for 70% chocolate, I used 53% with no adverse results. The cake wasn’t too sweet. Overall the sweetness is alright.

My Latest Favourite Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – Finally!

I was really into the groove of baking today: after baking the coffee & walnut sponge, I proceeded to bake chocolate chip cookies. After watching Michael Smith’s Chef at Home (S6), Hubby was fascinated about adding corn syrup into chocolate chip cookies to create chewy ones and urged me to try.

I was initially lazy to do it…but I’m really glad that I made it. I think these are the best chewy chocolate chip cookies I’ve made to-date. The dough is easy to handle – it doesn’t go too soft. Not sure whether it is due to using cold butter, as opposed to soft butter, to cream with the sugar. Although it’s a little too sweet, I still like it and it’s great with milk! I realise that American recipes tend to be sweeter and I should have listened to my inner instincts to increase the level of salt or reduce the sugar. I usually decrease the sugar to reduce the sweetness. But I found that decreasing the sugar tends to alter the texture and taste (other than the sweetness) of the cookie slightly. Next time, I shall double the salt in the recipe instead, following Dorie Greenspan’s advice….

The recipe can be found here.


  • Plain flour was used
  • Salted butter was used
  • Hershey’s mini chips were used. I used the entire 12oz pack…
  • Corn syrup was replaced with golden syrup. If corn syrup is not available, you can make your own corn syrup at home. I haven’t tried this out though.
  • The yield is about 72 cookies. I used a 1/2tbsp measuring spoon as a mould. I scooped out rounded spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet.
  • My dear oven’s thermostat has gone bonkers. The oven dial is at 160 deg C and the cookies were baked for about 10 – 12min with upper and lower heat turned on. I think I overbaked it in the later batches: though it’s still chewy, but I think the texture was nicer when it wasn’t that brown….

The earlier batches: not so brown but a better chewy texture (imho)….

The later batches: lovely golden brown, but not so good chewy texture (imho)….

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