Guest Post: Macarons by Pink Cupcake Possum

Hello everyone! Sorry I have almost completely "disappeared" since my last post two weeks ago.. life has been hectic and I have been busy cleaning the house and working and getting some good exercise (swimming) in preparation for the baby's arrival in December. Which is why today's blog post is especially brought to you by my Guest Blogger for the day - the lovely Seah Ho from Pink Cupcake Possum aka @pinkcpossum on Twitter. Enjoy!

It was almost like, 7 months ago when Kimba asked me if I could do this guest post thing.

Well, at first I said yes, but then though 'Errrr... How am I going to do this? Where am I gonna start?' So yes, it took me over half a year to decide to write about my macarons. (Thanks for having me on your blog, Kimba!!)

Firstly, I'm not a macaron master or anything, I am just a typical woman who likes baking. Oh... wait, let me fix it a bit here. I'm just a typical woman who is obsessed with baking. I LOVE baking. I wouldn't say I am good at it but I can say yes, I am a bit crazy when it comes to baking.

That doesn't mean whatever I bake comes out beautifully like a picture from a magazine. I sometimes struggle with all kinds of baking disasters. I sometimes look at my cakes and cry. Trust me, I'm not a patient person, but the good thing about baking is if you don't see the perfect result in front of you, you can just eat it and give it another go!!

Luckily, I struggled only twice with these babies. I'm not saying this recipe is the best to try but this one works for me. When you deal with macarons you should be gentle with the temperature of your oven and mindful of the humidity in the house. Okay, I am sure there are some people saying “What about all the gorgeous macarons that we can buy from shops even after 100 days of rain!!” Honestly, I don't know...

There are a lot of recipes out there for macarons but they will all fall into one of two categories, French or Italian meringue. I prefer the French meringue, it's simpler, easier, and tastes better to me.

As a starting tip before I use egg whites for macarons I separate the egg whites then leave them on the bench for two days. This thins the egg white and works best for meringue.

Egg white 60g + Sugar 30g
Almond powder 60g + Icing sugar 100g

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
Place baking paper on 3-4 trays before you start. (You don't want to muck around with those things when your macaron batch is ready to sit beautifully on the tray!)
Prepare a piping back with a nozzle (I used a 1cm one). 
  1. Mix the almond powder and icing sugar then blend them for a few minutes and sift at least three times. 
  2. Make a French meringue. Simply whip the egg white and sugar until it is firm and glossy. (If you want to add any food colouring or flavour add it at this stage, but not too much) 
  3. Mix the meringue into the icing sugar and almond powder mixture until it's quite runny, but be careful. If you get rid of too much air from your meringue mixture it won’t rise and you will end up with one big flat slab of macaron. It’ll still be yummm though, just not quite what you’re after :P It should be runny but hold together. 
  4. Pipe the mixture onto a sheet of baking paper into pools of about 3cm diameter with some space between each macaron (they will spread a bit as time passes). Hopefully it will look like this:
Now it's drying time. At this stage the macarons will form a crust (or feet).

Let them dry until when you touch the surface of the macarons gently you don't get anything on your finger.

It will take about 1-2 hours depends how humid your house is, but remember it doesn't matter how long it takes you should be patient until they dry.

After drying them out put the macarons into the oven then turn the temperature down to 140-150 degrees and bake for 15-20 mins. The time depends on your oven it might take less or more time to bake.
Make sure they don't burn and don’t take them out undercooked. It's all about oven temperature. You can take them off the baking paper once they have completely cooled down otherwise they will all stick to the paper. 

While you are drying your macarons you can make filling for the. You can simply sandwich Nutella between macarons, easy and heavenly yummy!! or you could  whip some whiped cream with coco powder or coffee then sandwhich it between the macarons or whip some cream cheese with lemon zest, a little lemon juice and icing sugar. It's a great chance to be creative. If you want to try something different you could go with pig's blood filling like Andriano Zumbo :)

So far I've made lemon, chocolate, salted caramel, green tea, white chocolate, Korean cereal, coffee, strawberry flavours.

Once you get that right feeling of macaron mixture then you will be a champ!


Steamed Egg Custard with Minced Chicken / Pork

Growing up, my parents have a list of "simple meals" which I have always taken for granted. It's funny how when you're away from home and settled in your new home and start to have your own list of "simple meals" for a busy weeknight, you start to randomly reminisce those little dishes you used to have as a child growing up in your parents house.

This dish is definitely one of them - it just randomly popped up one night and I thought "Hey! Haven't had THAT dish in ages! I wonder if I can cook it.. seemed simple enough".

Of course, my first attempt was an ultimate failure. Not only did I get impatient and did not wait for my dad to reply my text message asking him for directions, I completely messed up and wasted 8 eggs. I was stupid enough to not have one of the core ingredients of this dish.... WATER.

Okay, so there is more to this dish than it looks. After my 2nd and 3rd attempt I think I've finally mastered the balance of egg and water, and be careful not to overseason it. The photo posted above looks a bit runny with too much water, but that's actually how I like it. I like the egg custard super soft and smooth, and I like the water being in there like a "clear soup". Enjoy!

Ingredients (for a small bowl serves 2):
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup of water
1 tsp sesame oil
100g minced pork / chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped spring onions for garnish

In a fry pan, cook minced pork / chicken and season well with salt and pepper. Once cooked, set aside.

In a steaming bowl, beat 3 eggs thoroughly and add water and sesame oil. Season very lightly with salt and pepper.. be careful not to overseason, as the minced meat already adds to its flavoring. Add cooked minced meat into the egg and water mixture and place bowl in a steamer.

Steam for approx. 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and let it sit in the steamer for another 6-7 minutes. Garnish with chopped spring onions before serving. Enjoy on its own or with a bowl of steamed white rice.

Sarawak Tomato Kuay Teow

In my hometown Kuching, Sarawak (in Malaysia) the "Tomato Kuay Teow" is a very common hawker styled food sold in almost every "kopitiam" aka coffee shops in town. Do not be fooled by the term "coffee shop" it is actually the term we use to describe local styled "simple" restaurants where you get freshly cooked food at the cheapest prices.

Tomato Kuay Teow is a very common late night supper takeaway dish for me back in my childhood days. Our culture was used to late night eating and the kopitiams are still very much active after 10pm. After all, it's hard NOT to get hungry again by 10pm when growing up, dinner was as early as 5pm back in those days!!

Inspired by Leona's blog post and recipe (and thanks to a friend who posted the link on Facebook) my craving for authentic food from my original home intensified so I decided to try this recipe myself. It looked fairly simple - and I made some slight changes to her recipe by using chicken instead of prawns - and by adding sugar to balance out the flavors in the sauce. The result? A true Kuching Tomato Kuay Teow tastes 90% like the real thing! I had the same challenge Leona had - I didn't know how to prevent the kuay teow from turning a bit soggy and retain its firmness and shape. Perhaps my wok needed to be the real Chinese wok and I needed a really hot heat when frying it. Despite the kuay teow looking like it's falling apart, it still retained it silky texture so as long as it tasted good I didn't really care! Enjoy :)

400g fresh kuay teow
2 tbsp kicap manis (sweet soy sauce)
Oil for frying
5 chicken drumsticks - meat stripped and chopped into pieces
50g cuttlefish
4 stalks spring onions, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 small carrots, sliced thinly diagonally
1 tbsp chicken stock powder mixed with 1 cup of water
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 1 cup of water
Tomato sauce to taste
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp oyster sauce
White pepper to taste
Extra water as required

Prepare the kuay teow by separating them using cold water. Heat wok and fry kuay teow in hot oil. Add kicap manis for the brown color. When cooked, remove from wok and set aside.

In a separate clean pot add liquid chicken stock, liquid cornflour and tomato sauce to taste. Add white pepper, oyster sauce and sugar. Add extra water (or any of the sauce ingredients mentioned) as required according to taste. Bring sauce to boil.

Add chicken, cuttlefish, carrots and spring onions into sauce. Cook for another 6-8 minutes (chicken should cook very quickly in boiling sauce) if not slightly longer.

(Note: You may also use prawns and fish cakes instead of chicken)

Pour sauce over cooked kuay teow and serve.

This is what Tomato Kuay Teow from a Kuching kopitiam looks like

Steamed Fish Head Cooked with Ginger

Even after one whole week of eating to my heart's content in Malaysia, I came back to Melbourne refusing to let go. I was dwelling at the thought of that beautifully steamed fresh tilapia I had at New Restaurant Ipoh Chicken Rice, and also that super soft freshly steamed fish head cooked with ginger I had at Sun Fong Bak Kut Teh!

Aahhh how convenient it was to just go to a restaurant in Malaysia and order a good meal and know you're getting good value for money and great tasting authentic food. In Melbourne, I'm sure there are many Chinese restaurants in town that serve equally delicious dishes - but they are so much more expensive! Eating out is expensive in Melbourne, which is one of the reasons why I do less reviews and more cooking on this blog.

So here comes more cooking - a simple version of my very own steamed fish with ginger. I went to a seafood shop in Glen Waverley and picked the biggest whole fish I could find. I also double checked with the seafood shop owner to make sure this fish was good for steaming. She had her thumbs up. She was Asian. I trust her judgement, hehe.

Half of a whole fish (the head half)
2 tbsp minced ginger
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 cup water
Chopped spring onions and fresh coriander leaves for garnish

Prepare the fish by placing it on a steaming dish. Smear minced ginger evenly across the top of the fish. Drizzle light soy sauce over the ginger. Drizzle water over the ginger and soy mix. Place steaming dish onto a rack placed in a wok already filled with water ready to steam. Cover the wok / steamer with the lid and steam for approx. 20 minutes.

(Be careful not to steam the fish too long otherwise the meat gets a bit chewy and dry. Fish meat is best when steamed just right and the fish is just cooked)

A wonderful home cooked meal - Steamed Fish Head with Ginger and Japanese Tofu and Chinese Vegetables with Minced Pork in Oyster Sauce - serve dishes with rice. Mm mmm!
Dessert was a delightful Chinese steamed glutinous rice cake aka "Ang Ku Kueh" with delicious sweet bean paste filling - courtesy of Asian Grocer in Glen Waverley :p