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The BloggerAid Cookbook

Pandan Jam (Screwpine)

It's strange how food craving can drive one to do things that he would never thought of doing, like learning how to cook Char Kway Teow (a local favourite dish in Singapore), or my mom's Nonya Chicken Curry, mutton curry, Assam Fish, Steamed Fish (Teochew Style), Sweet & Sour Pork, White Peppered Pork Slices (my childhood favourite), Chinese Steamed Buns, etc. Had I still been living in Singapore today, I would have never learned how to cook all these dishes as they are easily and cheaply available at home. The things we easily take for granted until we live overseas!

A few weeks ago, I had a sudden craving for a home local jam called Kaya (coconut-egg pandan jam) - my childhood favourite jam. Making this jam at home requires hours of standing, stirring and watching over it on the stove, letting it cook slowly and thicken like a thick custard. It can easily get scorched if one gets distracted from the job. I have seen my mom make this before at home and trust me, it's a very long process. I don't know why but I found myself talking about Kaya on twitter with Davina & Su-yin. Sweet & lovely Su-yin upon learning my plight kindly shared with me her secret Kaya recipe. To say I was overjoyed is an understatement... I was over the moon about it! So excited I was when I got her recipe, that I immediately set out to make it, only to realize that I had no coconut milk in my pantry. Arggh! I was so determined to have my jam that I just went ahead and made it with full cream milk. That's how desperate I was. LOL! When one is that desperate and craving for their home food, nothing gets in the way!

I only have this to say: Thank You, Cravings! If not for you, I wouldn't have discovered this delicious gem 'Pandan Jam' which I'm so addicted to right now. LOL! So readers, food cravings is definitely good for you - it spurs you to explore, create & improvise with whatever you have in hand and a new dish is born. Below is the recipe of Pandan Jam adapted from Su-yin's recipe. I love the colour of this jam - it reminds me of my wonderful 2 weeks vacation in Ireland in '97. Tomorrow is St Patrick's Day and we are celebrating Paddy's Day Food Parade over at The Daily Spud.

Pandan Jam (Screwpine)
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 120 g full cream milk (half-cream milk will do too)
  • 1½ - 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 1 tsp pandan essence or a few pandan leaves
Directions
  1. Mix a bit of milk to the custard powder in a bowl - stir well to ensure there's no lumps, then stir in the rest of the milk. Set aside.
  2. Whisk eggs, pandan extract and sugar in a pot until combined. Add the milk mixture to the egg while continue to stir until it blends together.
  3. Put pot on stove, continue whisk it over low heat until it begins to thickens and resemble a thick custard. (takes about 4-5 minutes)
  4. If mixture is lumpy, whisk it with an electric handheld beater in the pot, giving you a smooth texture.
  5. Let it cool and keep it in a air-tight container in the refrigerator.
  6. To serve: spread the pandan-egg jam on a slice of bread alone or with butter.
The Verdict

It's surprisingly very good. Rich in pandan flavour (that's to be expected of course) ; the texture is very smooth like a very thick custard as it should be and deliciously good. I was hooked on this jam immediately and couldn't stop eating slice after slice of bread with it. The aroma of this jam even rouse Pierre out of his office upstairs to check it out. Little One loves it too.

Pandan jam (screwpine)
Notes

Right after the jam is done, it tastes a wee bit too sweet for my taste. However, after it has been refrigerated, strangely it doesn't seems to be overly sweet anymore - I have no idea why. If you don't like it to be too sweet, do reduce slightly the sugar quantity in above recipe.

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Nanaimo Bars

The 2nd part of Daring Bakers' January challenge hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen is making Nanaimo Bars.

The Nanaimo bar is a Canadian dessert made up of a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut and nuts, a middle custard layer, and a topping of chocolate. This no bake dessert is named after the West-Coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia and is popular across North America.

Nanaimo Bars
Ingredients

Bottom Layer

  • 115 g (¼ cup) unsalted Butter
  • 50 g (¼ cup) granulated Sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) graham crackers crumbs (home-made or store bought)
  • 55 g (½ cup) Almonds (finely chopped)
  • 130 g (1 cup) Coconut (Shredded)

Middle Layer

  • 115 g (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp & 2 tsp (40 mL) heavy cream or crème frâiche
  • 2 tbsp vanilla custard powder (or vanilla pudding mix may be substituted)
  • ½ cups (127 g)Icing Sugar

Top Layer

  • 115 g Semi-sweet chocolate
  • 28 g (2 tbsp) Unsalted Butter
Nanaimo Bars
Directions
    For bottom Layer
    1. Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler.
    2. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken.
    3. Remove from heat. Stir in graham cracker crumbs, nuts and coconut.
    4. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.

    Middle Layer

    1. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well.
    2. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.

    For Top Layer

    1. Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat.
    2. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.
    Nanaimo BarsNanaimo Bars
    The Verdict

    They are sinfully rich in taste and flavour. We like it but aren't so hot about it, as it is simply too rich and creamy for our taste. Pierre ate 2 slices and he doesn't want to touch it again. Poppet loves the rich creamy taste of it and would gladly eat more if I let her. As for me, I tried to eat more of it as I didn't want to see it go to waste but it is just too rich for my digestion. I'm glad that I have the hindesight to make only half of the above quantity stated. The rest of the bars are in the freezer.

    As it is extremely rich, it is probably best to make these bars in very small bite size.

    Notes

    These bars freeze very well, so don't be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

Nanaimo Bars
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Crème Anglaise

Crème Anglaise, literally translated as "English cream" is a French (!) dessert sauce (liquid custard) with vanilla flavour. Why it is called Crème Anglaise - I have no idea! This sauce is classicly used in a French classic dessert called îles flottantes (floating islands), but it is also frequently served along with cakes and pastries. It can also used as a base for ice cream or crème patissère or as a sauce for some dry cakes, dark chocolate cakes etc.

This sauce is easy to make at home. So why get one from the shelf of a supermarket when you can easily make a delicious one without preservatives or coloring?

Crème Anglaise
Ingredients
  • 1 litre full cream milk (or semi-skim milk)
  • ½ vanilla bean pod
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 150 g sugar
creme anglaise
Directions
  1. Slit open the vanilla bean pod and remove the seeds. Put both seeds and vanilla pod in the milk and bring it to a boil. Turn off heat. Cover and let the vanilla bean infuse in the milk for 20 minutes to ½ hour.
  2. In the meantime, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until it is creamy.
  3. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk.
  4. Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture a little by little while whisking continuously to avoid curdling. And then stir in the rest of the milk until the mixture is well combined.
  5. Transfer the whole mixture into a pot and heat it under medium fire. Stir it constantly with the wooden spoon or spatula scraping the sides and bottom until the foams disappear (critical stage).
  6. Once the foams disappear, watch out carefully. The creme anglais will be done in about 2 minutes. The mixture will start to feel slightly thicker (not liquid like water). Stop once the mixture coats the back of your wooden spoon or spatula.
  7. Remove from heat and transfer the crème anglais into a big serving bowl to let it cool.
  8. Let it chill in the refrigerator until it is ready to be served.
  9. The crème anglaise can be eaten as it is or compliment as sauce to cakes or other type of desserts.
creme anglaisecreme anglaise
The Verdict

This is a great way of enjoying vanilla, as the flavor stands alone in giving taste to this sauce. This is a dish where a real vanilla pod will clearly make a big difference against artificial vanilla flavoring. This traditionnaly is great along with a strong chocolate cake, something with raspeberries or a cake too dry to eat without some sauce.

Notes

The sweetness of this version is just right and to our liking. However, if you like it sweeter or serve it with something light in sugar, you can probably increase the sugar amount a bit.

Don't throw away the vanilla pod after removing it from the milk. Dry it and store it in a container with some sugar to get natural vanilla flavoured sugar.

creme anglaise
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