The magnificence of a rice cooker

I heart my rice cooker. It was a gem when I was a student because I could cook almost anything in it – santan rice, nasi briyani and red bean soup! To you university students who will be/are living off-campus, bring a rice cooker along with you!

It’s still a gem now, of course, but I rarely use it to cook other foods except rice. The only time I cooked in my family’s rice cooker was pumpkin rice with chicken. It was a really good recipe but I lost it :(

While in the office today, I thought about my rice cooker days and decided that I should cook tomorrow’s lunch with it. I didn’t think much of the ingredients so I grabbed whatever I could from the kitchen to cook something simple.

I didn’t measure anything as I estimated the ingredients based on my own experience, but briefly:

1) Cut 1 chicken breast into cubes.

2) Pour light soya sauce (more) & dark soya sauce (less) onto chicken cubes. Add in white pepper and mix thoroughly until chicken cubes are fully covered in the sauce. Let the chicken marinade for at least 20 minutes. While you wait, wash the rice and proceed to chop some garlic (I used 2 cloves).

3) Once 20 minutes are up, heat up oil in wok and fry the garlic until aromatic. Put in the marinated chicken cubes and cook together with the garlic until it is almost done, then add in about 1/2 cup of water. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes. If the chicken is not cooked yet, don’t worry, we will be cooking them again in the rice cooker.

4) Place the chicken (together with the sauce) into the rice cooker with the washed rice. You don’t need to put much water into the rice cooker so do a rough estimation yourself based on what’s required. Stir the uncooked rice and chicken together and let the rice cooker do the rest of the job! :)

The smell is heavenly when the rice is about to be ready and the taste is not bad too! However in future, I would add a pinch of salt, spring onions and mushrooms.

If you have a rice cooker recipe to share, let me know!

Merdeka Day

Initially I wanted to make a multi-coloured swirl for vanilla cupcakes in conjunction with Merdeka Day but things didn’t go well. My cupcakes didn’t produce a nice rounded top and my meringue icing was runny and not as smooth and silky as it should be. I also misplaced my Wilton 1E tip that I’ve used only once. So I used a 1M instead but the frosting didn’t look nice with the meringue.

It’s probably not a good baking week for me but at least it’s the weekend! None of the shops will be opened tomorrow so I have to put my weekend baking experiment on halt but Sunday will be a good day to look for a replacement for the 1E tip! And probably make some granola bars? ;)

Although the rest of the cupcakes didn’t have nice swirls, there’s still one which looked adequate.

Happy 56th Independence Day to Malaysia! I’ve traveled to many places and lived in a different country but nowhere beats the place I call home :)

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows

I have a confession – I do not like marshmallows. They’re sticky & chewy and taste so much of icing sugar. When one of it is placed into a cup of hot cocoa, its soft soggy texture leaves an unpleasant feeling on my tongue.

Why did I make a batch if I don’t enjoy them? Out of curiosity — and because I found a recipe that contains toasted coconut. I love the smell of shredded coconut!

I did not want to drive to my usual bake supply shop for the ingredients so I shopped at Aeon Big for the light corn syrup and gelatine. Both were imported and costed me > RM 31: RM 20+ for Karo light corn syrup and RM 10+ for Davis gelatine. I am pretty sure you can find cheaper brands elsewhere.

For the shredded coconut, I bought a fresh bag (about 2 cups) from PJ Old Town market for RM 1. The recipe asks for 4 cups but it can be reduced to 2 1/2.


Marshmallow making is a messy & sticky process so be sure to get your hair tied up or else you’ll have a hard time getting it out, like me.

Recipe from Sweetly Serendipity, altered a little by me
2 1/2 cups finely shredded coconut (+ 2 tablespoons icing sugar)*
3 envelopes unflavoured gelatin
3/4 cup water (1/2 cup cold water + 1/4 cup room temp water)
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions
*If you bought a fresh bag which comes unsweetened, you will need to add 2 tablespoons of icing sugar. Directions below.

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.

2. Line a baking sheet onto a baking tray, and spread coconut evenly over it. Toast coconut in the oven. Depending on your oven, those on the sides of the baking sheet will start to brown after 7 minutes. Once you notice this, remove the tray from the oven and mix the toasted coconut together with non-toasted ones. Spread the coconut evenly again and place them back into the oven for another 7-10 minutes. As soon as the desired colour is obtained, turn off your oven and place the toasted coconut into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of icing sugar (or more, depending on the sweetness level you prefer) into the bowl and mix the coconut and sugar together. Set aside.

3. Lightly oil a 9-inch square baking pan and place a parchment paper on it. Lightly oil the paper, and set aside.

4. Place 1/2 cup cold water in bowl of a stand mixer, and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Let soften while making the syrup.

5. Combine sugar, corn syrup, remaining 1/4 cup water, and salt in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, increase heat to medium, and bring mixture to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer and boil, without stirring, until it registers 240 degrees. Remove from heat and let stand until bubbles are gone.

6. With mixer at low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin in a thin stream down side of bowl. Try not to let the hot syrup touch the sides of the bowl. Once all of the syrup has been added, increase mixer speed to high and beat until very thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat for 1 minute more.

7. Sprinkle bottom of prepared pan with 1/2 cup toasted coconut. Pour marshmallow mixture over toasted coconut in baking pan. Sprinkle top evenly with 1/2 cup toasted coconut. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, about 12 hours, or overnight (original recipe stated 2 hours but mine was still very sticky after 4 hours).

8. Once marshmallows are completely set, cut into one inch squares with a knife coated in icing sugar. Cover the sides with the remaining toasted coconut. Store in an airtight container.

If you prefer to have marshmallows plain, coat them with icing sugar instead.

Homemade Pandan Kaya

When I was in uni, my friends were delighted to share a kaya recipe as they claimed that it’s really simple. Unfortunately, we never got to make any because there were no fresh pandan (screwpine) leaves around and those frozen ones from Chinatown didn’t emit any pandan odour.

Fast forward to the present, I took a break from testing cake recipes and decided to make myself a bottle of pandan kaya. I’m not fond of stirring the jam for 2 hours or making green-coloured jam, so I chose the recipe from everybodyeatswell where it requires only 15 minutes of cooking time and a favourite ingredient that gives a distinctive flavour — gula Melaka (palm sugar). The result? Creamy kaya with the right amount of sweetness and pandan taste.

Recipe from everybodyeatswell, altered a little by me
4 egg yolks, room temp
3 tablespoons gula Melaka (palm sugar)*
3 tablespoons castor sugar
200 ml undiluted coconut milk, fresh or canned (I used canned)
4 fresh pandan leaves, tied and knotted (I used 5)


Instructions

*I only have palm sugar in cylindrical blocks so I used a pestle & mortar to break it into paste.

1. Beat the 4 egg yolks thoroughly using a hand whisk.

2. Combine the palm sugar, castor sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. When the mixture begins to simmer, turn off the heat.

3. Pour 1/2 of the coconut milk mixture into the egg yolks, stirring at the same time with a hand whisk.

4. Pour the combined mixture back into the remaining coconut milk in the saucepan and turn the heat back on to medium-low. Keep stirring until it thickens. The original recipe suggests to stir for 15 minutes but at the 8th minute my kaya became curdled. If you have smooth & silky jam – good, if not, do not worry.

5. Remove the pandan leaves. Depending on your preference, you can have chunky kaya or if you’re like me who prefer smooth & creamy kaya, transfer the hot curdled kaya into another bowl and start whisking by using a hand mixer until the kaya becomes smooth.

6. Transfer the thickened kaya into a clean sterilized glass jar, without the jar lid, to cool.

7. If you can’t wait for the jam to cool completely, you can take a spoonful of kaya and lick it — trust me on this, it’s really good when it’s warm. The pandan kaya can be kept up until a week in the fridge.

This homemade kaya in a jar works great as a gift. I made a jar for a colleague of mine as a farewell gift and attached a wooden spoon together with a “good luck!” note by using a brown string.