Zwetschenkuchen / Plum Flan


March is supposed to be the beginning of Autumn, but it appears that summer has yet to take its bow. We are still experiencing soaring 30's temperature.
Some love it but I am exasperated begging for Autumn... The heat, flies, no rain and soaring electricity bills annoys me !!!
The only part of that brings a smile are the Summer fruits ... apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums...mangoes..I love Summer fruits.
This year... we have Plums bumper crop ... walk in any supermarket ... I will see PLUMS... PLUMS... and more PLUMS; all varieties; greens, black, dark red ... some are sweet and some will make your face cringe with its tartness and sourness ...I prefer the black plums..
Big chain supermarkets like Woollies, Coles and IGA do have some weekly specials on these fruits and the pricing is reasonable for the big juicy fruits, cheaper than last year, which is the BIG PLUS point for me, Mr H and Miss E... This is my second time... baking with Plums ... my first bake was an Upside down Plum Cake click here ...I don't want to see don't blame me if your eyes goes wonky because of the photos ....hehehe...

Plum season will soon come to an end... so I bid farewell to my dear sweeties.. the PLUMS by baking Zwetchenkuchen or German Plum Flan ...

Auf Wiedersehen..

and I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #5 - Fruity March hosted by Jess of Bakericious.

Recipe (adapted from Clarissa Hyman)
200g self raising flour
pinch of salt
150g butter -chilled
75g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg - lightly beaten
500 g of small plums
50g almond meal
icing sugar
  1. Sift flour into mixing bowl, add salt and rub cold buter until the mixture resemble coarse crumbs. Mix in almond meal, sugar, zest of lemon and cinnamon. Add in egg. Mix well and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Halved the plums and remove the stones, then quartered.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease a 10inch loose base flan tin.
  4. Lightly press the pastry into the flan tin, covering the base and slightly onto the sides.Arrange the plums on the pastry. 
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until the sides are golden brown and the plums are soft and juicy.
  6. Leave it to cool in the tin.
  7. Sprinkle the Plum Flan with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream...   

Spicy Celery Stir-fry

Celery~ sometimes used in salad, dip in peanut butter sinful... but nice winking, or crunch away as snacks.

Have tried stir-fry celery? Well... I have not...

Many times... I would flipped over the pages of my Japanese cookbook, looking for some mouth watering Japanese dishes to cook and of course to blog about ... and many times this Spicy Celery Stir-fry page would 'stare up' at me...  and again... on numerous occassion... I would just turn the pages over ~ giving it a miss.

And over  a period of time... the brain 'bookmarked' the page and starts to be inquisitive... sending signals to  all my senses... finally, I cave-in to the page.... and decided to give it a go ... I have a bunch of celery in the crisper...that I have exhausted with ideas, what to do with it!!!...
To our surprise!! not the kids though, celery and them are not in sync tongue... the stir-fry is really ... really good... salty, sweet and spicy and still have that celery crunchiness...
Say no more ~ Spicy Celery Stir-fry  will definitely have a spot on our dinner table ...  either as a side dish or on our vegetarian day...big grin

Note : if bird's eye chilli is too hot to handle... use dried chilli instead!! 

4-5 celery sticks (reserve the leaves)
1 bird's eye chilli - deseeded and finely sliced
1 tablespoon oil
4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
  1. Cut celery into 2 inches long strips.
  2. Heat oil in the wok or frying pan.
  3. Add chilli, sugar and celery. Stirfry over moderate heat for 1 minute.
  4. Add soy sauce and continue to stir for another 1 minute.
  5. Add the celery leaves and continue to stir. To keep the celery crisp, continue to cook for another 3 minutes.
  6. Serve as side dish with steam rice.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Lavender

Grilled Chicken Salad with Lavender
Lavender... hmmm... I love the smell of lavender... with the exception of Mr H... Lavender has that calming aroma... suppose to shoo away our stress.

First heard the word Lavender ~ when I was in kindy... singing Lavender's Blue, dilly dilly, Lavender's green...

Image ~ from Google
First scent of Lavender would be from  my mom's Yardley English Lavender Perfume Talc ~ a gift from my cousin who was studying in the UK in the 70's. I would discreetly sniffed and at times would try it on... often got caught and told off by mom .. trying without mom's permission of course ... blushing

First taste of Lavender would be in 2004, Aunty Helen baked Lavender Butter Cake for our 'Bon Voyage' Party.

First touched and set eyes on Lavenders would be in spring 2005, my front garden, Lavender bushes that would make my heart sings every springs... I once cried cryingwhen the builder conveniently parked his 4 wheel drive on top of my Lavender bush... how could he be so blind!!!

And here it is ~ First cooking with Lavender... last weekend  big grin

Grilled Chicken Salad with Lavender

Recipe (adapted from Fiona Hunter)
4 boneless chicken breast
900ml chicken stock (900ml water + 2 cubes of maggi chicken stock)
1 cup of polenta
50g butter
450g baby spinach
8 grapes tomatoes - halved

Lavender marinade
1 teaspoon of dried lavender
2 teaspoon of orange zest
2 garlice cloves - crushed
2 teaspoon of honey
2 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoon of fresh thyme
2 teaspoon of fresh marjoram
  1. Clean and pat dry the chicken breasts with kitchen paper. Slash the chicken deeply and leave it aside.
  2. To make the lavender marinate : Combine all the ingredients and season with salt. Spread the lavender marinate over the chicken and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, bring to boil the chicken stock and add polenta in a steady stream. Keep stirring until it thickened (about 2-3 minutes). Pour the cooked polenta into a buttered tray and allow to cool. Once it has cooled, cut into squares. Heat up butter in a frying pan and fry the cubed polenta until golden brown.
  4. Heat up the grill and grilled the marinated chicken breasts for 15 minutes or until it is cooked, turning once. Slice the chicken breast.
  5. Serve sliced chicken with baby spinach, halved grape tomatoes and cubed polenta.

Guest Post #1 ~ Bihun Sup (Rice Vermicelli in Beef Broth)


I am honoured to be invited... by Leemei of My Cooking Hut to be her guest... my first Guest Post.big grin..

Lets hop on here... to read my post on Bihun Sup/ Rice Vermicelli in Beef Broth.
Thank you... Leemei.big hug



Yellow Vermicelli:
300-400g dried vermicelli
2 tsp turmeric powder

Beef broth:
1 kg shin boneless/gravy beef (or 500g shine boneless/gravy beef and 1 kg chuck bones)
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
6 cloves
25g of ginger, bruised
150g shallots, blended
15g garlic cloves, blended
pinch of salt

Sambal (chilli paste):
2 tbsp chilli powder
5 tbsp of cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 tsp brown sugar
3-4 tbsp tamarind paste
pinch of salt

2 spring onions, chopped
some coriander leaves, chopped
some pickled radish


1. Place the dried vermicelli in a pot or suitable heatproof container. Fill up the container to submerge the vermicelli. Then, add the turmeric powder, Mix well so we will not end up with blotchy vermicelli. Soak for 2 hours. After 2 hours, drain the vermicelli in a colander and return the drained vermicelli to the pot/container. Add boiling water and leave for 3 minutes. Drain again and rinse under cold water and set aside.

2. To make the stock, fill a pot with 2 litres of water and add the shin boneless/gravy beef and bones if using. Over high heat, bring to the boil for a few seconds. Then, cover with lid and lower the heat to simmer for at least 1 hour or until the meat is cooked and tender.

3. Take out the beef and put on a plate. Cover with cling film immediately so the meat will not dry up. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and the blended shallots and garlic. Season with salt. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to simmer for another 1 hour. Add 250ml of water if required.

4. Meanwhile, to make the sambal, mix the chilli powder with 2 tablespoons of water and mix into a paste, set aside for later use. Heat up a wok over medium to low heat and put the oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and slightly golden brown. Add the chilli paste, cook for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and keep stirring to make sure that the paste will not be burnt. Add the sugar and tamarind paste. Season with salt. Remove from the heat once when paste has thickened, set aside.

5. Just before serving and once the stock is ready, slice or shred the beef and put on a plate. Divide the yellow vermicelli into individual bowls, put some shredded beef, then garnish with spring onion, chopped coriander leaves and pickled radish. Bring the stock to a vigorous boil and ladle generous amount of the beef broth into bowls. Add the sambal.

Feta, Semi Sundried Tomatoes Muffin

Mr H Jr and Miss E have subtly hinting that they had enough of me packing them bread/ sandwiches for school lunches.  
Starting early this year... I noticed that their lunch boxes would arrived home with the same content... as when I sent them off to school in the morning ...if it is sandwiches.
When asked, both would gave some excuses like :
I have no time, I wasn't hungry or the real classic is ~ I forgot to eat!!...  raised eyebrows

My 'Hungry' teens... forgot to eat!! It is not so like them, because whenever they are home ~ I could hear them opening or closing the doors to the pantry or fridge ~ ransacking, rummaging and snacking all the time   ... when they gave an excuse... like 'I forgot to eat' ... I should take heed... and get off my butt... and start planning!

Its been awhile since I bake ....One of the reasons is this...

Its been so hot .... even Lake Yellagonga has almost dried up

Recipe (makes about 8 muffins)
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
100 g semi sundried tomatoes -thinly sliced
100 g reduced fat Feta -crumbled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup of milk
1 egg
salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix well.
  3. Spoon into muffin papers.
  4. Bake at 200C for 20 minutes or skewer comes out clean

Kuih Lapis / Steamed Rice Flour Layers


I am not sure the origins of this beautifully layered dessert or afternoon snack...
its either Nyonya or Malay.confused

All I know is that my mom used to make this...  or sometimes she would buy from a Vendor, named Ali, who cycled to our village and nearby villages  with his huge stainless steel version of tiffin ... about the 0.5 meter in diameter, strap to the back of his bicycle...
He would 'hoot' as he passed by our street... mothers and children would gather around and we would chose our favourite kuih. Ali would have varieties of kuih in his big tiffin.... from sweet to savouries... one of many would be this beautiful layered kuih made from rice flour... I love to have this... either for breakfast or for my afternoon delight...  big grin

This is really an easy kuih to make... all that is required is a steamer,  and steam for 3 minutes between each layers. The layers will not come off clean if  'oversteaming'... That is how I gauge whether the kuih (as I would call it...)  is oversteam or otherwise ... I would savour the kuih by peeling one layer at a time ... I hate to bite into that beautiful layers and leave my ugly teethmark.... so NOT ladylike.... hehehe tongue

360g caster sugar
700 ml water
3 knotted pandan leaves
360g rice flour
300ml water
400ml thick coconut milk 
1/4 teaspoon salt
colourings : red and yellow
  1. Make the syrup by boiling sugar, water and knotted pandan until sugar has dissolved. leave it to cool.
  2. Combine rice flour, coconut milk and water in a bowl. mix well and strain if needs be.
  3. Add the syrup. Divide into 3 portions : White, mix one portion with red to have a Deep pink and the other mix red and yellow to give an Orangey peach mix.
  4. Heat up a steamer.
  5. Heat a greased 8 inch round pan for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour half a quarter cup of white layer on to the pan. Cover the steamer and steam for 3 minutes.
  7. Then pour quarter cup of pink layer and steam for 3 minutes, followed by Orangey peach.
  8. Keep repeating and alternatimng the layers/ colours until all flour mixes are used up.
  9. Steam the final layer for 15 minutes (open up the cover every 5 minutes).
  10. Leave it to cool at least for 3 hours before cutting and serving.

Salad with Sesame Soy Dressing


You can tell that our airconditioner has yet to be fixed.... I am posting salad again...
Just 2 more sleeps and hopefully everything will be "peachy rosy" again...waiting

This salad was prepared by Mr H ... I'm only the photographer and the story-teller for this post...

In order to pay for his upkeep as a student (decades ago... 25 years to be exact), Mr H worked in various places during his 7 years in Sydney. He once worked in a Japanese Restaurant... as a kitchen hand. This was where he learned to chop everything 'Japanese' ~ finely, thinly and evenly... I am no where near as good as him... when it comes to handling sharp knife !!!

His all time favourite was Salad with Sesame Soy Dressing...  In his 'reminiscing mood', he recreated 'almost' similar to the ones served in that particular Japanese Restaurant. I take his word for it...hehehe

I love the crunch of the vegetables, the creamy taste of sesame dressing with a tinge of sour, sweet and salty...
The salad is a hit with Mr H Jr and Miss E... big grinconsidering~ one doesn't like carrots or cabbage and the other is fussy with everything other than chocolate!!!  ...   
1 carrot - using the peeler and thinly sliced aka carrot ribbons
1 cucumber- thinly sliced
1/4 red cabbage - thinly sliced
black sesame seeds
sesame seeds
Sesame Soy Dressing
4 tablespoon of sesame seeds - lightly roasted
2 tablespoon of light soy sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar
4 tablespoon of rice vinegar
6 tablespoon of vegetable oil
dash of sesame oil ~ too much will have a bitter after taste
  1. Process the sesame seeds the food processor. Process until fine.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  3. Drizzle over the salad.
  4. Sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds.

Papaya and Snake Bean Salad

We have been enjoying (NOT!!!) Sauna in our house since last Saturday courtesy of Mother Nature... unbelievable...crying At the height of summer, our airconditioner decided to go on strike!!
Our house is like an oven during daytime... and luckily , it was cooler at night...   sigh.... have to wait another week... before the technician will be available to look at the problem... 

This Papaya and Snake Bean salad came to our rescue last week... its has a tinge of sour, sweet, spicy, salty with some crunchiness, fresh and best of all ~ can be served COLD...
I'll take it as blessing in disguise... or a sign from up above... that my system needs simple food and at the same time .....detox... and while typing this... I am sweating from top to toe... so I better get out of here... ciao..

Note : I decided not to add beansprouts to the Papaya Salad... Snake beans or long beans on the right
3 cloves of garlic
2 red chillies -deseeded
10 snake beans - cut into 1 inch long
1 green papaya- using mandolin and shred into long strips
3 tomatoes - deseeded and cut into strips
1 lime or lemon juice (may need more)
3 tablespoon fish sauce
5 tablespoon dried shrimps - washed
1 handful of roasted peanuts - ground coarsely
2 tablespoon of palm sugar
1 bunch of coriander - chopped
  1. Add garlic, chillies and dried shrimp in a food processor and process into fine paste.
  2. Lightly bruise papaya and snake beans in pestle and mortar. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the tomatoes, dried shrimp paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice and salt. Add chopped coriander. Mix well.
  4. Lastly sprinkle peanuts.

Vegetable Couscous with Harissa Sauce

Every summer ... and whenever I felt that I have overindulged during the holiday... I would whipped up this vegetable couscous... not that this vegetable couscous would make me lose kgs in an instance... how I wishwinking... but just to clear the 'guilty' conscience (is this ... the correct spelling??) if you know what I mean... 

And every year I would be hunting hi and lo for Harissa Sauce. Worries no more... for I have them both carved in stone ... ehem... typed and posted in my blog... big grin

This recipe is taken from Healthy Weight Loss by Fiona Hunter... basically one can add anything to this dish to make it wholesome and flavoursome, and at the same time clean up my crisper box in the fridge smug  

Just to tickle my tastebuds... I chargrilled the sliced aubergine and capsicum...

1 large aubergine (alternative ~ use baby aubergine) - thickly sliced
2 carrots - cut into strips
1 cup of cauliflower florets
1 can chick peas ~ drain and rinse
1 red capsicum
a bunch of coriander - chopped
1 cup of couscous
1 1/4 cup of water or chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 red onion - chopped
2 garlic - chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 teaspoon of Harissa Sauce
  1. Sliced aubergine about 1.5cm thick and soak in salt water for 10 minutes. Pat dry and spray with olive oil on both side and place it on a grill for a few minutes... until both sides are cooked. The cut the aubergine into thick strips.
  2. Cut the capsicum into strips and placed in the grill too, then diced.
  3. Bring to boil the water or chicken stock or vegetable stock in a small pan. Add in couscous. Bring to a quick boil and turn off the heat and cover. Put it aside for 5 minutes and fluff up the couscous with fork.
  4. In a large frying pan (I prefer to use wok), saute the chopped onion with 2 tablespoon of olive oil until translucent.
  5. Add in garlic and cumin, keep stirring until fragrant. 
  6. Add in harissa sauce and diced tomatoes. At this stage you can add about 1/2 cup of water if it gets too dry.
  7. Add carrots and cauliflower, lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  8. Add in the chargrilled aubergine, chargrilled capsicum and chickpeas.
  9. Season with salt and gently stir until the vegetables are heated through.
  10. Turn off the heat and stir in coriander. 
  11. Add in couscous and mix well.

pssstt... I am a year older