Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake
My youngest had their cake-sale day a few weeks ago. Of course she 'demanded' that I bake at least one. I thought this traditional English cake would suit since it's universally liked plus fits the school requirement of 'no nuts' in the cake. The kids and parents in the cake-sale gave their approval by snapping up these squares within a few minutes of being laid on the table. The week after, my daughter was one of the few kids called to come forward by the headmaster in front of the whole school assembly. She was commended for bringing in (in his words) "the delicious lemon drizzle cake and marbled brownies" and was given a round of applause. Ahhhhh ...

As you can see the sugar in the drizzle did not get dissolved well in the lemon juice so I updated the recipe to include a step of heating the juice with the sugar to avoid that sugary crust on top. Actually others like it better that way but for me I'd rather have it right in, drenching the cake making it a bit soggy and moist but oh so yummy with its sweet-sour tang.

This is an easy one-bowl recipe. So easy in fact that even my 13-year-old daughter can make it unaided. The lining and buttering of the pan was the only thing she didn't like. I adapted this from mine (and Sha's) current fav baking book - the BBC GoodFood magazine's 101 Cakes & Bakes.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

100 g  butter - softened
175 g  [1 1/4 cups] self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
175 g  [1/2 cup + 1/3 cup] caster sugar (superfine)
2 large eggs
6 Tbsp milk
finely grated rind of 1 lemon

5 Tbsp lemon juice
50 g  [6 Tbsp] icing sugar (confectioner's)
2 Tbsp caster sugar (superfine)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/fan 160°C/180°C/gas mark 4. Butter and line the base of a 11 x 7 inches cake pan.
  2. Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mix and beat for about 3 minutes.
  3. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.
  4. While it's baking, mix the icing - gently heat the lemon juice with the sugars in a small saucepan until the sugars are dissolved.
  5. Once the cake is out of the oven, poke or pierce it all over the top with a long skewer or toothpick. Make sure you pierce all the way through the bottom of the pan.
  6. Pour the icing evenly on top of the cake (now with lots of holes) while still hot. Let cool, slice and serve.

Monday, 12 June 2006

Ginataang Mais

Ginataang Mais
Here is a snack or 'in-between-meals' meal that I often had as a child growing up in Cavite. It's very similar to the previous Ginataang Totong I blogged more than a year ago. The abundance of coconuts in the Philippines means that a lot of its by-products find its way into the local cuisine and snacks are no exceptions. So you can find a lot of variation with sweet coconut soup with glutinous rice then flavoured with some other ingredients such as mais (corn), munggo (mung beans), chocolate, etc. These are often served hot but a lot of people love it chilled cold from the fridge.

If you can get fresh corn on the cob then by all means please use that. The flavour it imparts in the soup is the best. Shred or remove the kernels (yasyasin) by sliding off a knife diagonally across the side of the cob. It may be a bit messy but it just ensures that it will bring out the flavour from the cut kernels as which is much better than having the kernels intact. But if in a bind, you can use thawed frozen sweetcorn though not as packed with flavour as the fresh ones.

Ginataang Mais
(Coconut Soup with Glutinous Rice and Sweetcorn)

1 cup fresh shredded sweetcorn kernels (or thawed frozen ones)
1/2 cup glutinous rice
5 cups coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup coconut cream (optional)
  1. In a pot, bring to boil the coconut milk with the sugar and salt. Taste the soup to see if it is sweet enough for you. If not, add more sugar.
  2. Add the glutinous rice, bring back to boil then lower down the heat and simmer until the rice is almost cooked.
  3. Stir in the corn and simmer again until rice is cooked.
  4. Serve hot or cold with some coconut cream on top.

Sunday, 4 June 2006

Sweet and Sour Prawns

Sweet and Sour Prawns
A friend brought a bag of frozen prawns to our door and requested me to turn it into a marmalade ... sorry ... sweet and sour prawns for a birthday party. Sure thing my dear, I said. I gladly did it even if I didn't exactly have a recipe. (Always loved prawns as with most seafood.) I have one for the pork version but not for this crustacean. So I adapted the sauce from the former (from Huang Su Huei's Chinese Cuisine) and whipped the marinade from another shrimp recipe. It turned out quite good and no bottled sweet and sour sauce, too. :)

Sweet and Sour Prawns

500 g  shelled and deveined shrimps or prawns
1 egg white - lightly beaten
1 1/2 Tbsp cooking wine
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp oil (optional)

1 tsp minced garlic
1 medium onion - chopped into bite-size pieces
1 bell pepper (red or green) - roughly diced
1 x 227 g  can of pineapple chunks - drained of juice
6 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp water
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
  1. Dissolve 1/2 tsp salt in the cooking wine. Mix well with the prawns in a bowl. Marinate for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Add in the egg white, mix well, then cornstarch, mix well again. If the mixture is really thick like a batter, mix in the 1 Tbsp oil to separate the prawns.
  3. Drop each piece of prawn in hot oil and deep dry for about 2 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the ketchup, pineapple juice, sugar, vinegar, and salt. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and 1 tsp salt. Set aside.
  5. In another container, mix the thickener by dissolving the cornstarch in the water. Set aside.
  6. Heat 2 Tbsp cooking oil in a wok. Saute the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes. Make sure not to burn the garlic.
  7. Stir in the bell pepper and cook for about 1 minute.
  8. Add in the pineapple chunks, cook for 30 seconds.
  9. Tip in the ketchup mixture and bring to boil.
  10. Add in the thickener and bring to boil again.
  11. Stir in the deep-fried prawns, toss lightly for a few seconds or until prawns are well coated by the sauce. Dish up and serve.