Fluffy Chocolate Almond Cake

The husband likes his chocolate cake a certain texture and I finally stumbled on the recipe that works. Best of all, the boys love it too!

Fluffy chocolate almond cake

It was supposed to be the usual Chocolate Almond Cake recipe that I normally follow until I realised halfway into the preparation that I didn’t have enough almond meal. Too lazy to head down to the shops to get some more, I decided to wing it. Funny how well things work out when you’re not even trying.

Ingredients:

  • 125g dark chocolate, melted
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 60ml milk

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Prepare a round cake pan.
  • Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until the mixture has changed colour.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes or until the knife comes out clean.

Zaru Soba

The hubs has developed a taste for Zaru Soba lately so I decided to try to make it at home. It’s probably about as easy as it gets – cold noodles in dipping sauce. The only sensitive part is making sure the noodles are cooked al dente.

As I’ve discovered from cooking disasters in the past, there are noodle brands and there are noodle brands. The good noodle brands make it easier to cook the noodles to perfection. The regular noodle brands end up being too soggy no matter what I do with them. So once I find a brand that works, we stick to it. Since most of the packaging is covered in Japanese writing, I took a picture for future reference:

Cold Soba

Ingredients:

  • Soba noodles
  • Tsuyu dipping sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Shredded seaweed
  • Spring onions, finely chopped

Method:

  • Soba noodles vary in cooking time. With this particular brand of noodles, I found 6 minutes to be the optimum cooking time. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add in the noodles and cook for 6 minutes.
  • Drain the noodles and run them under cold water. Soak them in ice water before serving.
  • Ideally, you should serve the noodles in a Zaru Soba tray so you can add ice.
  • You can make your own Tsuyu sauce or you can just buy a bottle of Shirakiku Tsuyu sauce.
  • Pour a serve of Tsuyu sauce into a small bowl and dilute with a bit of water (however much you need to get it to the right level of taste to your preference). Add a bit of wasabi, seaweed and spring onions.

Steamed Mushroom Chicken

This is another East-meets-West modification of a Chinese recipe… The original recipe uses Chinese mushrooms, I used brown mushrooms (which you cannot see in the picture below because they were buried under the chicken). I also used red wine instead of Chinese cooking wine. Lastly, I omitted the fujuk (bean curd puffs) because no one in the family will eat it but me.

Steamed mushroom chicken

Ingredients:

  • Main:
    • 5 pieces of chicken thighs
    • 100g brown mushrooms, sliced
    • spring onion
  • Marinade:
    • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp red wine
    • 1 tsp cornflour
    • dash of pepper
    • 2 tbsp water
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Seasoning:
    • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sesame oil

Method:

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the chicken thighs for about 15 minutes.
  • Mix the seasoning on a plate and add the mushrooms. Place the chicken pieces on top of the mushrooms.
  • Steam over boiling water for 30 minutes or until cook through.
  • Garnish with spring onions and serve.

Stir Fry Beef with Red Wine

The last time I tried a stir fried beef with red wine, it failed miserably so it was with some trepidation that I experimented with this one. Clearly, I wasn’t particularly hopeful because I didn’t even bother to take a picture (not that there was much to look at). As it turned out, all three boys approved so we will add this to our cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • 300g beef, sliced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • Dash of white pepper
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 100ml water

Method:

  • In a bowl, mix garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, cornflour, pepper, and water. Set aside.
  • Heat some oil in the wok and stir-fry the beef until cooked.
  • Add in the wine.
  • Add in the mixed sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Serve.

Variation:

  • I modified our stirfry beef a little by adding some baby spinach and sliced brown button mushrooms right at the end so we have a more complete meal (no need to make a separate veggie dish).

Easy Family Dinners

Stir Fry Choy Sum with Minced Chicken

Dinner tonight was Stir Fry Beef, Steam Minced Meat Egg Custard (steamed over the rice in the rice cooker), and this stir fried choy sum with minced chicken dish… Very simple and all done in one hour (plus/minus) – just the kind of dinner I like to make. Best of all, it came with a standing ovation from hubby and G2 – two out of three. It would have been better if all three gave it the thumbs-up but since G1 was never going to approve given his recent change in flavours, I’ll settle for two. Green leafy vegetables are always a challenge for G1, so a lack of gagging at the dinner table is also another plus. Yes – I take whatever I can get. Baby steps…

Chinese cooking

Ingredients:

  • 150g choy sum
  • 150g mince chicken
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or you can slice up a few pieces of fresh ginger)
  • Dash of white pepper
  • 100ml water

Method:

  • In a bowl, mix garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, ginger, pepper and water. Set aside.
  • Heat some oil in the wok and stir fry the mince chicken until cooked.
  • Add in the choy sum.
  • Pour in the mixed sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Serve.