Category Archives: Cooking

Mango Cheesecake

Regular readers of my blog should know by now that my family loves cheesecake (link to other cheesecake recipes on my blog), that I like trying new recipes — experimenting and tweaking — and that I am cheap. ALDI brand for me and extra points if the ingredients are on Special.

It’s almost summer here and that means more fruits available at the stores. I saw mangoes at a great price, so I grabbed two. Just two.

It’s also birthday season at the Yewnique Farm and my older daughter saw the mangoes and asked what my plans were for those golden pieces of tropical deliciousness. I told her I wasn’t sure yet. Later, while talking with my younger daughter, I wondered if a Mango Cheesecake might be a good idea for older daughter’s birthday. Younger daughter affirmed, “That’s what she told me she wanted!”

In case anyone is wondering, yes, we do eat fruits as they are. They don’t always get turned into cakes.

So, the hunt was on for a mango cheesecake recipe — or, recipes — and the wherewithal to be creative and make it mine.

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Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

The warmer months are upon us here in Melbourne, and with that, lots and lots of strawberries. My daughter put cream on the shopping list (“I thought of making ice cream.”) so I started having visions of Strawberry Shortcake. Wouldn’t you?

I absolutely love the internet because of the accessibility of information. Recipes galore, just by typing in keywords! And, unlike a conventional cookbook, these recipes have ratings and reviews. It’s great!

After looking at several recipes, I found a couple which looked great and easy to follow. Simplicity of instructions ranks high on my priority list when looking at recipes.

The following recipe is inspired by:

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Pandan Cheesecake with Pandan Kaya Topping

I’ve made cakes with pandan (screwpine leaves) flavour several times now.

I think I have finally found a way of making a Pandan Cheesecake with a topping that the whole family likes!

There are three parts to this cheesecake: the base, the cake, the topping. It is a relatively easy recipe, but it does take time, and there are some ‘exotic’ ingredients which some readers might find challenging to obtain. An Asian grocery store (or well-stocked cosmopolitan supermarket) should have these ingredients. (Then again, I may be spoiled and don’t know how good I have it!)

Base

  • a packet of sweet biscuits (like Marie), crushed to yield 2 cups
  • 2/3 cup of melted butter
  • 1 tsp (or so) of cocoa powder (optional)

Note: Most recipes I’ve looked at call for 1 cup of crushed biscuits and 1/3 cup of melted butter. To me, the base ends up too thin and sometimes rather crumbly and does not hold well. I decided to double the amount here — 2 cups crushed biscuits, 2/3 cup melted butter — and I am extremely satisfied with the result. Your mileage may vary.

Method:

Combine crushed biscuits and melted butter until well combined. Press firmly into base of a 22cm (9-in) spring form pan. Chill until firm.

Filling

  • 2 Tbsp. gelatine, dissolved in 1/3 cup water (sprinkle gelatine over cold water, stir to combine, and then microwave on high for 45 seconds)
  • 2 x 250g packet cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 x 400ml can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 4-5 drops of pandan paste
  • 4-5 drops of pandan essence

 

Method:

Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth.

Add sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, pandan paste, and pandan essence and beat again until smooth.

Add gelatine mixture and beat again until smooth.

Pour into crumb base. Return to refrigerator and chill until firm. This will take several hours.

Topping:

I got the recipe for the kaya topping from this blog. That recipe is for a pandan kaya layer cake. I just looked at the kaya part for the topping. I tweaked the pandan juice part and the coconut milk part because I lazy (yes, I meant to write it that way). I used pandan paste and *gasp* canned coconut milk! Hey, it worked, okay?

  • 300 g water
  • 1/2 tsp white agar-agar powder
  • 40 g sugar
  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • 40 ml pandan juice (4-5 drops of pandan paste into 40 ml of water)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Place all the above into a big enough saucepan and let sit for at least 30 minutes. That’s right. Just let it sit. Don’t stir, don’t beat, don’t heat. Just let it be.

  • 120 g coconut milk
  • 35 g white hun kwee powder

In a big enough bowl, combine the coconut milk and white hun kwee powder until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Hun Kwee Powder

Hun Kwee Powder

Hun Kwee powder, sometimes spelled Hoen Kwe  or Hun Kwe, is mung bean flour (starch). This might be the most challenging to obtain. I had to visit three different Asian grocery stores before I found this. (I have purchased this before, so I knew which particular store had it, but I thought I’d try my luck at a couple of others before making the trip there.)

According to a forum, you can use corn flour/starch in place of hun kwee powder. I have not tried this, so I can’t tell you how successful it will be.

  • 5 drops pandan paste
  • 1 big drop yellow food colour

 

Method:

Place saucepan over low heat and stir agar-agar mixture till agar-agar powder dissolves. (Mixture is now very hot but not boiling.)

Turn off heat. Add coconut milk mixture. Stir thoroughly. Add 5 drops pandan paste and 1 big drop egg yellow food colour. Stir thoroughly.

Turn on heat to medium-low. Cook and stir agar-agar mixture till thick enough to coat sides of pot thinly. Turn off heat. Stir till residual heat dissipates. (Mixture should now be thick enough to coat sides of pot thickly but thin enough to flow smoothly.)

Pour over cheesecake and chill until firm.

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Without all the la-di-da:

Base

  • a packet of sweet biscuits (like Marie), crushed to yield 2 cups
  • 2/3 cup of melted butter
  • 1 tsp (or so) of cocoa powder (optional)

Filling

  • 2 Tbsp. gelatine, dissolved in 1/3 cup water (sprinkle gelatine over cold water, stir to combine, and then microwave on high for 45 seconds)
  • 2 x 250g packet cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 x 400ml can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 4-5 drops of pandan paste
  • 4-5 drops of pandan essence

Topping:

Part 1:

  • 300 g water
  • 1/2 tsp white agar-agar powder
  • 40 g sugar
  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • 40 ml pandan juice (4-5 drops of pandan paste into 40 ml of water)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Part 2:

  • 120 g coconut milk
  • 35 g white hun kwee powder

Part 3:

  • 5 drops pandan paste
  • 1 big drop yellow food colour

Method:

Base

  1. Combine crushed biscuits and melted butter until well combined. Press firmly into base of a 22cm (9-in) spring form pan. Chill until firm.

Filling

  1. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth.
  2. Add sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, pandan paste, and pandan essence and beat again until smooth.
  3. Add gelatine mixture and beat again until smooth.
  4. Pour into crumb base. Return to refrigerator and chill until firm. This will take several hours.

Topping

  1. Place Part 1 into a saucepan and leave for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Combine ingredients in Part 2 and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Place saucepan over low heat and stir agar-agar mixture till agar-agar powder dissolves. (Mixture is now very hot but not boiling.)
  4. Turn off heat. Add coconut milk mixture. Stir thoroughly. Add Part 3. Stir thoroughly.
  5. Turn on heat to medium-low. Cook and stir agar-agar mixture till thick enough to coat sides of pot thinly. Turn off heat. Stir till residual heat dissipates. (Mixture should now be thick enough to coat sides of pot thickly but thin enough to flow smoothly.)
  6. Pour over cheesecake and chill until firm.

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Enjoy!

 

 

 

Strawberry Cheesecake – Take 2

My daughter found a new way to make the base for a cheesecake. I love it so much that it is going to be my go-to method from now on.

I have made Strawberry Cheesecake before for my daughter’s 17th birthday, and I made one again for my son’s 15th. I guess you could say we all love cheesecake around here.

Base:

  • 1 packet of chocolate cream cookies (eg Oreos) crushed until fine
  • 1 tbsp (or so) melted butter

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. gelatine, dissolved in 1/4 cup water (sprinkle gelatine over cold water, stir to combine, and then microwave on high for 30 seconds)
  • 2 x 250g cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 x 400g can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed strawberries

Topping:

  • sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 x 57g packet of strawberry flavoured jelly crystals

Collar (optional):

  • 135g chocolate (milk, dark, white, your choice)

Method

  1. Combine biscuit crumbs and butter. Press firmly into base of a 22cm (9-in) spring form pan. Chill until firm.
  2. In a blender, or using a hand-held electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add gelatine mixture, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and mashed strawberries. Blend until well combined.
  3. Pour into crumb base. Return to refrigerator and chill until firm. This will take at least four hours.
  4. Place sliced strawberries over the top.
  5. Prepare jelly but only use half the amount of water needed, ie, if the instructions call for 500mL of water, only use about 250mL. We want a jelly top, but we want it to be firm and not too wobbly.
  6. Return to fridge and chill until firm. This will take at least a few hours (preferably overnight).

To make chocolate collar:

  1. Fold two layers of foil or baking paper around the outer circumference of the cake tin, ensuring that it is 2-3 cm higher than the sides of the cake. Cut paper to meet exactly around.
  2. Spread paper flat on work surface and tape down (if necessary).
  3. Melt chocolate. I did it in the microwave for one minute on HIGH.
  4. Spread melted chocolate onto paper with spatula. Let it cool and set slightly. Chocolate needs to be firm enough to hold its shape, but not too firm that it will crack when bent.
  5. Remove cake from springform pan and place on a serving dish.
  6. Bend chocolate-coated paper around cake, pressing gently against the sides of the cake.
  7. Return cake into fridge to chill until set (about 15 minutes).
  8. Carefully peel away paper from cake.

Strawberry Cheesecake

 

 

Cooking Around the World

This year, my youngest has been studying Eastern Hemisphere countries. To round off each topic, the student has to choose a project to do.

Here are some things she has done.

Pacific Islands
She cooked (with a bit of help) Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice and Mango Salsa. For dessert, Fakakai Topai (Dumplings in Sweet Coconut Sauce), a dish from Tonga.

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Australia

Lamingtons.

Confession: I have never made lamingtons from scratch. Years ago, someone on the homeschool forums tried making lamingtons for their Australian project. She posted pictures of their attempts where they had trouble coating the little pieces of cake evenly. The cakes came out all splotchy. She asked the Australians on the forums how we got our lamingtons evenly coated.

Without fail, every single Australian on the forum said, “We don’t make them; we just buy them at the shop.”

That said, Miss 10 and I did try to make lamingtons from scratch. It’s a lot of effort, and it really is easier to just buy them if you ever have a hankering for lamingtons.

Image may contain: food and indoor

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New Zealand

There is some controversy where pavlova — a meringue-based dessert topped with fruit and cream — originated. Some say it is Australia. Some say it is New Zealand. The Eastern Hemisphere workbook Miss 10 is working on says it is New Zealand. And the Oxford English Dictionary agrees with that.

Here is our feeble attempt. Everything was made from scratch and it is our very first attempt at making this oh-so-very-sweet dessert.

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Japan

Read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and tried our hand at some origami, including making cranes and working out how long it would take to fold one thousand of them.

One paper crane: Roughly three and a half minutes.
One thousand paper cranes: 3500 minutes (58.3 hours if done continuously without stopping!)

We didn’t take a photo of our paper cranes, but here are some other origami creations.

We live in an area where it is very convenient to buy “foreign” ingredients.

No-Bake Pandan Cheesecake with Pandan Agar Topping

I made a Pandan Cheesecake for my daughter’s birthday last November.

This is a tweaked version of that recipe.

Ingredients:

sam_1098

Base:
1 – 1 1/2 cup crushed biscuits
1/3 to 1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling:
2 x 250g cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 x 400g can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon pandan extract
1 teaspoon pandan essence
1 1/2 Tablespoons gelatine, dissolved in 1/3 cup water*

* sprinkle gelatine over cold water, stir well and heat gently in a saucepan until dissolved OR heat in a microwave oven on High for 45 seconds

Method:

1. Combine biscuit crumbs and melted butter. Press into a 24cm (9.5 in) square springform cake tin. Put in the refrigerator to chill and set.

sam_1099

sam_1100

2. In a large bowl, add ingredients for filling one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour into  cake tin over the base. Chill until firm.

sam_1102

Topping:
100 ml coconut milk
400 ml water
1/2 teaspoon pandan paste
13 g agar powder*
75 g sugar
pinch of salt
desiccated coconut

agar-powder

* agar is a plant-based gelling agent. Commonly used in South-east Asian cuisines/desserts. Because it is plant-based, it is suitable for vegetarians/vegans, unlike gelatine which is animal-based. Agar can be found in Asian supermarkets and some urban/urbane mainstream supermarkets. If in a pinch, gelatine is a good substitute. (Pandan paste and pandan essence may be more difficult to obtain!)

Here is an interesting article about the difference between agar and gelatin.

Combine all the ingredients for the topping — except the desiccated coconut — in a small saucepan. Stir over high heat until it boils. Then, lower heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

If you are using gelatine, you do not need to boil the mixture. Using warm/hot water should be sufficient.

sam_1103

Pour agar mixture over the chilled cheesecake and, working quickly, remove as many bubbles as possible. Agar can set at above room temperature! It was >30C today and you can actually see traces where the bubbles were! The agar was setting as I was popping the bubbles!

Put back in the refrigerator to chill (if necessary).

sam_1105

Sprinkle desiccated coconut over the cake.

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Serve!

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Enjoy!

Pandan Cheesecake

My youngest turned ten and couldn’t decide between a cheesecake and a Pandan cake. “Why not both?” she asked. “A Pandan Cheesecake!”

A Pandan Cheesecake? Does such a thing exist? Has anyone tried combining the two?

A quick search on the internet revealed that, like almost everything, there is nothing new under the sun. If you think of something, chances are, somebody has already thought of it, created it, and posted it on the internet.

I found a recipe that called for eggs and required baking. Since we prefer chilled cheesecakes (ie no baking required), I decided to just wing it!

One of my go-to cheesecake recipes involves a can of sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. I decided to replace the lemon juice with coconut milk, pandan extract and pandan essence.

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Chinese New Year 2016

Chinese New Year is here again!

 

2016-02-07 17.27.42

Clockwise from far left:
* Fish in Assam Sauce (used packaged sauce)
* Chinese Roast Pork aka Siew Yoke (made from scratch!)
* Chinese Roast Duck (Chinese takeaway)
* Chinese BBQ Pork aka Char Siew (used packaged seasoning)
* Cabbage, carrot, wood ear, lily flower, glass vermicelli stir-fry
* Fried noodles
* Szechuan Eggplant

Oh, and the rice (MUST have rice!!) is just off on the right.

Yes, that is a lot of food for just the six of us. But, I think I cooked enough extra so that we would have the obligatory leftovers to take into the new year without it being too overwhelming. I know this because the leftovers all fit comfortably in the fridge! There have been times in the past when I went overboard and it was a struggle to find room in the fridge to fit the leftovers. Maybe I’ve gotten better at cooking the ‘right’ amount. And maybe also my kids are getting older and eating more.

2016-02-07 18.22.59

Red-and-Gold Fruit Salad: Watermelon, Raspberries, Strawberries, Red Grapes, Mango

 

Orange Chiffon Cake and Red-and-Gold Fruit Salad for dessert. The cake tastes a LOT better than it looks.

2016-02-07 17.35.15

Wishing you all a VERY Happy Chinese New Year!

Recipe: Strawberry Cheesecake

Miss Seventeen asked if she could have a cheesecake for her birthday. Much to her older brother’s chagrin, it was not a chocolate cheesecake she wanted, but a strawberry cheesecake.

This is a no-bake cheesecake.

Base:

  • 1 cup sweet biscuit crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. gelatine, dissolved in 1/4 cup water (sprinkle gelatine over cold water, stir to combine, and then microwave on high for 30 seconds)
  • 2 x 250g cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 x 400g can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed strawberries

Topping:

  • sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 x 57g packet of strawberry flavoured jelly crystals

Method

  1. Combine biscuit crumbs and butter. Press into base of a 22cm (9-in) spring form pan. Chill until firm.
  2. In a blender, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add gelatine mixture, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and mashed strawberries. Blend until well combined.
  3. Pour into crumb base. Return to refrigerator and chill until firm. This will take at least four hours.
  4. Place sliced strawberries over the top.
  5. Prepare jelly but only use half the amount of water needed, ie, if the instructions call for 500mL of water, only use about 250mL. We want a jelly top, but we want it to be firm and not too wobbly.
  6. Return to fridge and chill until firm. This will take at least a few hours (preferably overnight).

To serve, run a knife along the edge of the pan before releasing the spring form to unsure the jelly stays intact.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Foodful Friday: Spicy Beef Stew

If you are not a fan of hot, spicy foods, do NOT let the name of this dish put you off. It really is very delicious and you can always adjust the heat to your taste!

Ingredients:

1kg beef chuck, cut into 2.5cm chunks (I used stewing beef)
1 large onion, chopped
a thumbsize knob of fresh ginger, minced
25og tomato paste
2-3 cups beef stock (or chicken stock or water)

Chilli paste:
8 cloves garlic (I used a whole bulb)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bird’s eye chilli (or to taste)
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Method:

  • Combine chilli paste ingredients in a blender or pestle and mortar and blend/pound until well-combined.
  • Heat a little bit of cooking oil in a heavy-based pan and brown the beef in batches. Remove from pan.
  • Place onions in pan and saute until soft. Return beef into the pan and stir until well-combined.
  • Put chilli paste, ginger and tomato paste into pan and stir until well-combined.
  • Pour beef stock (or water) into pan until the water just covers the meat.

Spicy Beef Stew

  • Reduce heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 3 to 4 hours or until the liquid has reduced AND the meat is tender and breaking apart. Check periodically to see if more water needs to be added.
  • Serve with white rice and vegetables.

June 2015 021

Enjoy!

 

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