30 September 2009

Torta de Cielo / Almond Sponge Cake

Ashley was down with stomach flu yesterday and even though the fever and vomiting has gone away, she’s still having some mild diarrhea. And I have to say she’s quite a champion, she isn’t fussy or cranky except when she had vomiting spells but she’s still pretty active for a toddler that needs to go to the toilet every 15 minutes or so. So this morning, she woke up and said to me groggily ‘Mommy, Ashley make cake’ and even though I told her she’s still sick and she can’t eat cake, she insists that we make (bake) cake today, so since I was interested in making the cake after coming across it on one of my many cookbooks the other day plus I have the ingredients in my pantry, why not
Now during the process of baking the cake, I’ve broken a few baking rules and pretty much landed myself in a baking jail (if there’s such thing) because, while waiting for the cake to bake, I googled for Torta de Cielo recipes and to my surprise (and horror) I need to soak the almonds for at least 6 hours and instead of 40minutes as stated on the book, I need to bake for at least an hour. So many discrepancies between the online recipes and the book! And you would be wondering what are the rules that I’ve broken, well I tried to adjust the oven’s temperature to 160 Celsius instead of 180 Celsius and 25 minutes instead of 40. At first it looked alright, even though the cake didn’t rise, I tested the cake doness after 10 minutes, it was still soggy wet! So I increased to 190 and because I was so afraid the cake would burn and I lowered it to 170 after 5 minutes. I kept on increasing and lowering the temperature so often I was beginning to anticipate the arrival of the baking police. So in the end it took me close to an hour just to make this cake. And I suspect that I didn’t use an 8 inch pan as instructed, I used 6 inch pan perhaps that’s why the cake didn’t cook according to the time and raised pretty high.
And since I have never eaten this cake before I can’t compare with mine. It has the texture of a banana cake and the crust’s a little chewy but still very nice although I might reduce the amount of sugar next time because it’s too sweet for my liking.
But overall, the cake does smell and taste oh so heavenly; no wonder it’s called Heaven Cake in Spanish
And I’ve decided to rate the food I’ve made so you can have a clearer picture of it. I promise I won’t be biased!
Taste                            : 3/5 because of the sweetness
Preparation                   : 4/5 the recipe’s pretty easy to follow
Ingredients                    : 5/5 you can get the ingredients at hypermarkets, supermarkets
Availability                      & baking supplies stores
Cooking time                : 2/5 taking too much of my time supervising the cake
(adapted from Perfect Mexican)
You need:
225 gm of unsalted butter, at room temperature plus extra for greasing *
175 gm of whole almonds, in their skins
225 gm of caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp of almond essence
1 tsp of vanilla essence
9 tbsps of flour
pinch of salt
to decorate:
icing sugar for dusting
slivered almonds, toasted
How to:
  1. Lightly grease a 20cm/8inch round pan or square cake pan and line the pan with baking parchment
  2. Place the almonds in a food processor and process to form a ‘mealy’ mixture. Set aside *view picture*
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together with a mixer at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, almonds and both the almond and vanilla essences with low speed until well blended
  4. Stir in the flour and salt and mix briefly, until the flour is just incorporated.
  5. Pour or spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake in a preaheated oven at 180 Celsius, for 40-50 minutes, or until the cake feels spongy when gently pressed.
  6. Remove from the oven and let stand on a wire rack to cool. To serve, dust with icing sugar and decorate with toasted slivered almonds.


Cooking Tutorials



How to

*Mealy mixture*


My lil sous chef blowing a kiss for luck

For behind the scenes, do hop over to my personal blog

24 September 2009

Almond Marble Cake

I have a confession to make, I’m not very good in baking, In fact the last time I baked a cake when I was like 13/14 years old, and I’m 26 this year so you can guess how rusty I am when it comes to baking. I much prefers cooking to baking because I feel cooking is an art, if you screw up you can still amend the food but baking is science, you miss a step or one ingredient or even didn’t set the temperature right there goes your baked goodies.

But I do miss baking though and I tried a few steamed varieties before I started this blog. And I think it’s fated (hehe I know it’s corny) that I should go back to baking when I saw a super cheap small oven for sale from a friend. You would think the moment I bring the oven back I’d bake millions of cakes or muffins but no I was still waiting for the right moment to bring back the baking talent (or lack of) in me. I tried the simplest cake recipe; butter cake and I failed miserably, the top was burned to crisp even though I followed the recipe to the T. And after asking my friends and referring to some cookbooks, I concluded since my oven is the smaller model I should lower the temperature and shorten the baking time.

So today I braved myself to make another version of butter cake ; Almond Marble Cake and this time with the help from my little girl. I even asked her to blow a kiss to the cake and wish us luck before popping the batter in the cake. Luck must be on our side, the cake turns out GREAT!

So here’s the recipe
(adapted from Agnes Chang's Baking Made Easy)

You need:
250gm of butter
200gm of castor sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
250gm of self raising flour or 250gm of plain flour and add 2 tablespoons of baking powder
4 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder mix with 3 tablespoons of hot water to make a chocolate paste
A handful of sliced almonds for decorations

How to:
1. Get ready all the ingredients
2. Put butter and castor sugar into a mixing bowl
3. Use a low speed to mix until even. Change to medium speed and beat until light. Add in the first egg
4. Beat well after each addition of egg until creamy
5. Scrape down the sides for even mixing
6. Add in the vanilla essence and mix well
7. Divide flour into three portions, use lowest speed to mix in the flour. Remember to scrape the sides for even mixing
8. Finally, add milk
9. Mix until well combined
10. Keep ¼ portion of cake mixture and mix in cocoa paste.
11. Pour into a 22cm lined and greased baking tin or any baking tins you may have. Shake lightly to distribute cake mixture evenly.
12. Use a spoon to spoon cocoa mixture on top of the plain butter mixture.
13. Use a small knife to draw lines vertically to get marble effect and draw more line horizontally to get stronger marble effect.
14. Sprinkle the almonds on top mixture before putting into a pre heated oven at 160C. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool. *

*If you have the usual sized oven you need to set your temperature at 180C and bake for 45 minutes. I’m currently using the oven below for all my baking and cooking

picture curtesy of Mudah.Com.My

18 September 2009

For breakfast


Lil missy would have her usual, yoghurt while the mommy enjoys a cup of freshly brewed chrysanthemum & ginseng tea

15 September 2009

Nasi Briyani

I have a pretty weird preference when it comes to rice, I don’t quite fancy plain white rice even with other dishes (vegetables, meat, fish etc) but I love savoury ones especially Nasi Briyani. I love the wonderful aroma of the spices, the fragrant taste of the ghee and onions; each rice grain is bursting with flavours. And it’s such a perfect one pot dish

I first fell in love with Nasi Briyani when I was staying in a
kampong many years ago, when I attended a Malay wedding feast or commonly known as kenduri with my mother. During events like these, the host would usually serve Nasi Briyani / Nasi Minyak with dishes like Ayam Masak Merah, Acar, Sambal Udang, Rendang Ayam etc. It was a real treat back then, to have to many things to eat and to have so many friends to play with and another thing to look forward during kenduri was the bottomless glass of Sirap (a type of drink made from water, screwpine leaves, sugar and red coloring)

Even then I was fascinated by the sights of pots of delectable dishes, men cooking and serving the dishes, the colourful decorations, and a group of teenagers beating the kompangs (hand drums), the beautifully decorated platforms for the happily married groom & bride to be seated on their throne like chairs to receive well wishes from guests or guests reciting poems for the newly weds.

Now whenever I have Nasi Briyani, it brings back fond memories of my childhood growing up in the kampong. The simplicity of life, the beautiful nature, and wonderful meals during kenduris

You need:
200gm/1 cup of Basmati rice
1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
3 tablespoon of ghee or 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of butter
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
2 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of poppy seeds or mustard seeds if you can't get hold of poppy seeds (thanks to Christine for sharing this with me (: )
130 g of green peas (canned/frozen)
1 small onion (chopped)
50ml of condensed milk
400ml/2 cups of water
salt to season

For garnishing:
Fried shallots

Serves: 2-3 persons

How to:
1. Rinse the rice in several changes of water, until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a bowl, cover with plenty of water and mix in the turmeric powder. Leave to soak for about an hour and drain thoroughly.
2. Heat the ghee or oil and butter, in a pot. Stir in the poppy seeds, star anise and cloves. Add in the onion and fry until golden and fragrant
3. Add in the rice, followed by cinnamon stick and bay leaf and stir for 1 minute to coat the grains in ghee.
4. Pour in the water with the salt and condensed milk, stir once and bring the liquid to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat, stir in the peas and allow to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir the rice occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
6. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the fried shallot on top. Replace the lid and leave to steam for a further 10 minutes. Spoon the rice on to a serving dish

You may also stir in a handful of sultanas/raisins along with the peas.


Cooking Tutorials

How To

10 September 2009

Sardine Bolognese Sauce Pizza Toast

Pizza toasts are so easy to make and I can’t help but to make them today using the Sardine Bolognese Sauce I made earlier on.

The ingredients and methods are similar to the
Smoked Salmon Pizza Toast but instead of spreading tomato sauce and then place smoked salmon on top, you only need to spread the Bolognese sauce and sprinkle grated cheese on top. And I used Cheddar cheese this time

And it's my lunch today :D


Pasta with Sardine Bolognese Sauce

When I woke up this morning, the first thing that came to my mind was ‘What am I going to cook for Ashley today?’. Having a fussy 2 1/2 year old toddler can be daunting when it comes to making her meals. If possible this girl of mine would just eat plain white rice with any kind of gravy/sauce preferably brown sauces. And in order for her to have her rice with sauce I have to make stews which can be time consuming and by the time the stew’s ready, she no longer interested in eating. And as we all know, just white rice for all her meals while growing up isn’t a good thing at all; I want her to have her veggies and meat. So this morning I thought of making pasta with tomato sauce since she likes it (on her good days) and after rummaging through my pantry I found 2 cans of sardine in tomato sauce. And I thought to myself why not? A delicious twist on a chicken/ beef Bolognese sauce.

You need:
250g of any kind of pasta (Spaghetti, Fettuccine, Linguine or even Fusilli)
4 tbsps of olive oil or sunflower oil
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 small tomato (chopped)
1 small can of
Sardine in Tomato Sauce
5 tbsps of tomato sauce (ketchup)
Parmesan cheese to serve
Salt & Pepper to taste

How To:
1. Cook the pasta in a pot, according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until they turn translucent and soft.
3. Pour in the can of sardine along with the sauce, flak the sardine using your spatula. Add in some water otherwise the sauce would be too thick.
4. Next, add in the tomatoes and tomato sauce, put on the lid and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to season.
5. Add the sauce to the pasta, toss and serve with Parmesan on top.

Voila a quick meal in less than 30mins and your children would love it :)

Instead of using Sardines you can substitute with Tuna or Salmon. And add in 1 can of tomato puree instead of 5 tbsp of tomato sauce


Finger Licking Good

Want to know what made this fussy 2 1/2 year old toddler lick her fingers?

Look out for the next post :)

09 September 2009

Contact Me

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you like what you see here, or have any comments, suggestions or even corrections, feel free to E-mail me , alesiasim [at] gmail dot com, about it.

I'd love to hear from you :) and happy cooking!


Taught to cook by her own mother when she was younger, this stay at home wife/mommy rekindles her passion for cooking after watching some cooking shows while she was doing her confinement after the birth of her baby girl. And now she truly enjoys creating new dishes or simply prepare home cooked meals for her loved ones and friends.

She hopes, with this online recipe keeper she would be able to pass on her culinary experiences to her own children and of course share her joy of cooking with others.

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Smoked Salmon Pizza Toast

Whenever I’m in need of a quick brunch, and yet I don’t want a meal that isn’t satisfying to my tummy I’ll make this. Just a bottle of pasta sauce, cheese and voila you have a quick but satisfying meal

You Need:
2 Slices of bread (I normally use BreadTalk's butter loaf as it has a nice buttery aroma and crust after toasting)
3 tbsp of Pasta Sauce/Tomato Puree
100g Smoked Salmon
100g Mozzarella Cheese
Pizza Toppers or you can also use any dried mixed herbs you like

How To:
1. Spread the pasta sauce on the bread.
2. Sprinkle the herbs over the sauce.
3. Place smoked salmon on the bread and top it with Mozzarella cheese
4. Grill the toast in a toaster oven or an oven at 180°C for 10 minutes or until the cheese has turned golden brown

Instead of Smoked Salmon, you can have ham, sausages*, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and the list’s endless

Cooking tips:
To prevent your pizza toast from being too soggy, just lightly toast the bread before spreading the pasta sauce.

* Make sure the sausages has been cooked before placing it on the bread.

Cooking Tutorials

How To:

Noodles with Braised Chicken & Egg

You need:
1-2 chicken breast (remove skin)
2 hard-boiled eggs
5 cm piece palm sugar or substitute with 3 tablespoons sugar
a thumb size of ginger (bashed)
3 cloves of garlic (remove skin)
Approximately 20 – 25 white peppercorns
4 pieces star-anise
Approximately 15-20 cloves
5 cm piece cinnamon stick
2 to 3 tablespoons dark soya sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Warm water
Half a packet of rice vermicelli noodles
A handful of bean sprouts (cleaned)

For Garnishing:
Chopped green onions (scallions)
Fried Shallots

Serves: 2-3 persons

How To:
1. Clean the chicken breasts and get the ingredients ready.
2. Bring everything except the chicken breast & eggs into a boil
3. Once sauce begins to boil, add in the chicken drumsticks and let it boil for 10 minutes. After that reduce to medium low heat, add in the eggs, cover lid and let it simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Stir occasionally so the chicken & eggs brown evenly on all sides. You will find the sauce will start to thicken slightly and when the garlic softens, crush it up lightly with the back of your spatula.
5. Remove the chicken breast and eggs from the pot and stand to cool. Using a fork or fingers shred the chicken breast and half the eggs
6. Blanch the noodles and bean sprouts and drain well. Set aside

To Serve:

1. To serve, separate the sauce from the ingredients.
2. Mix the noodles with 5 tablespoons of the braising sauce and 1 tsp of fried shallots and shallots oil
3. Garnish with bean sprouts, shredded chicken breast, green onions, fried shallots and egg.


Cooking Tutorials



How To:

To Serve: