Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shark Fin Melon Soup

If I say the art of boiling soup plays a big role in the Cantonese food heritage, I don't think you will have any objection on this. Recall the very motherly roles in Hong Kong series, they are good in boiling soup.

Being a Cantonese who got married to another Cantonese, don't think our home will ever lack of soups. I make it a point to have at least two simmered soups (煲湯, 'bao tang') and two quick boiled soups (滾湯, 'gun tang') every week. I have heard from mothers that it is difficult to make their kids drink soup but thank God, I don't have this problem with Jeriel. Probably he is so used to having soups since he started taking solids.

Today's recipe is a real simple one. I am not sure how difficult it is for you who are staying in overseas to get hold of shark fin melon (鱼翅瓜)but you can always replace it with winter melon (冬瓜).

Shark Fin Melon Soup
Serves 6


500g pork ribs or bones
900g shark fin melon (鱼翅瓜), skinned, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
50g red dates
10g dried squids
100g salted vegetable (大头菜
2.5L water
Salt to taste


1. Clean pork bones/ribs. In a pot, add water enough to cover the pork bones or ribs; bring water and bones/ribs to a boil. Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes to get rid of impurities and blood stains. Wash bones again under running water.

2. In another pot, combine all ingredients except salt, including the cleaned pork bones/ribs. Bring to a boil, lower heat and continue to boil for 2 hours.

3. Season with salt, if necessary.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Passion Fruit & Almond Cupcakes with Passion Fruit Icing

Still in time to wish everyone who visits Jo's Deli & Bakery and this blog, a very Happy Chinese New Year!

The past 3 months have been really fruitful. Though busy preparing for the festives, classes and orders, I managed to bury myself in my little library, read as many books as I could on baking science and recipes. Got to tried out recipes which I couldn't find time doing so before this too. Being able to spend more time with my fellow decorators on MCDC is another great pleasure.

Let me share with you a recipe from my baking experiemental sessions. You could substitute passion fruit puree with store bought one but there is nothing like the satisfaction and aroma you could get from digging the pulp of the fruit and turn it into your very own homemade puree. Try it.

For more pictures on how to prepare these cupcakes, please visit this post at the club.

Passion Fruit & Almond Cupcakes with Passion Fruit Icing
Makes 18-20 small cupcakes

Passion fruit puree:
120g passion fruit pulp and seeds (from approx. 3 fruits)
2 tbsp castor sugar
6 tbsp water

60g butter, melted
80g castor sugar
3 large eggs
130g passion fruit puree
50g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
120g ground almond

Passion fruit icing:
100-125g icing sugar, sifted
60g passion fruit pulp and seeds


To prepare passion fruit puree:

Combine passion fruit pulp, seeds, sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat up till all sugar is melted. Let the mixture cool down a little before puree in a food processor. Sieve puree through a fine sieve to get rid of the seeds. Weigh the puree again. You should have about 130g. Add water to top up if necessary.

To prepare cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven at 175 degC. Line cupcake moulds with liners.
2. Sift cake flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add in ground almond and use a hand whisk to mix well. Ground almond can be lumpy sometimes so make sure you mix well to break the lumps.
3. Using paddle attachment of mixer, beat sugar and eggs at high speed till light and pale. Add in passion fruit puree and melted butter.
4. Make a well in the centre of dry ingredients in (1). Pour (2) in and stir with a spatula. The batter is watery.
5. Fill liners to 80% (for 3.25 oz souffle cups and larger ) - 90% full (for small cupcakes) (Note 1). These cupcakes doesn't rise much.
6. Bake cupcakes for 22 mins (small)-25 mins(large). Let cupcakes stand in mould for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.
7. This recipe is actually pretty nice when consumed warm. Otherwise, let cool completely before icing.
8. Optional: To dress up cupcakes, let passion fruit icing (recipe below) stand for 10-15 minutes to thicken a little. Pour one tsp of passion fruit icing on cupcakes.

To prepare passion fruit icing:
Combine passion fruit pulp, seeds and sifted icing sugar in a bowl. Stir using a hand whisk over a pot of simmering water (i.e. double boiling) till icing is of pouring consistency. Do not overheat icing as you will melt too much of icing sugar which results in a non-crusting icing when poured on cupcakes later.


1. Fill small size cupcakes to 90% as batter get baked faster in small cups, doesn't allow it to rise much. Batter in larger size cups need longer to get thoroughly cooked hence it has more time to rise in the oven, i.e. 80-85% is sufficient. Result may vary with types and brands of oven though.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Counting Down Christmas with ........(5) The Christmas Cookies

Christmas Wreath,
piped with royal icing then decorated with sprinkles and fondant ribbon

I thought I was not going to make anymore Christmas cookies after baking and decorating 1000 pcs before I left my ex-company. Although fun, baking and decorating cookies in bulk can easily burn oneself out. Baking is fast but the decorating could be time consuming.

Got a call from a close student of mine, M. I was asked if I could do some Christmas cookies for a school, design entirely up to me. That was fun, wasn't it? I immediately said YES, thinking that the required number of cookies could be completed pretty fast.

Candy Stick, decorated mainly with fondant

I could have taken down the step-by-step photographs and share with you on the forum how these cookies were done. Last weekend was a busy one with all the family and church activities. I dragged the making of them till the last minute so was chasing time to get them out of the door. So.... sorry guys, will find a time to do a nice tutorial for you.

Christmas Tree

I have had so much fun decorating this batch of cookies despite the rush. Thanks M for referring this order to me.

All time favourite Christmas icon, the Christmas Stocking

And this is an easy one; the Holly Leave with berries, all made of fondant. Outline was done in royal icing to add some extra details to the design.

Oh no, Santa left his Mitten behind while dropping presents down our chimney!



You may also like to read:
1. Counting Down Christmas with ....... (1) The Preparation
2. Counting Down Christmas with ........(2) The Gingerbread House
3. Counting Down Christmas with ....... (3) The Christmas Cupcakes
4. Counting Down Christmas with ....... (4) The Cookie Tree, Cookie Bouquet & Rice Cripie Treats

Friday, November 28, 2008

Chinese New Year + Cupcakes = Something not quite ordinary

Cherry Blossoms (inspired by Chinese calligraphic painting)

Chinese New Year, or the Lunar New Year is the most important of all the Chinese holidays. We have been having traditional snacks like prawn crackers, love letters, pineapples tarts and kuih ros for this festive. Chinese New Year and Cupcakes ......... not quite a good combination all these while until the last couple of years.

I will be conducting the Chinese New Year Cupcakes class. It will be a fully hands-on class with all the cupcakes and decorating material included. For more information about this class, kindly send your inquiry with the subject 'Chinese New Year Cupcake Class' via e-mail to joanneloo(at)time(dot)net(dot)my.

Koi or any fish, symbolises abundance

"Xin Chun" Chinese calligraphy, which means Spring

Golden nugget and Mandarin oranges, the must-haves for Chinese New Year

And last but not least, how can we forget the zodiac which is going to rule the Year of 2009.

Year of 2009, Year of Ox


Monday, November 24, 2008

Vanilla Chiffon Cake with Fresh Fruit Toppings

Coming to a month since I stopped working, I would say I have been enjoying it.

Normal house chores and mommy's duties occupy most of my time. Apart from the norms, we finally decided to get a new set of bookshelves to get my ever-growing numbers of books and magazines sorted and organised. No more scattering around the house that I had difficulty finding the books myself. As I will be spending more time in the kitchen from now on, additional kitchen cabinet will be done up to accomodate my new Fagor oven and to provide more spacious counter top for baking and sugar work. Can't stop thinking how I want to organise my new workstation though the cabinet will only be installed next week.

It was mother-in-law's birthday last weekend. Decided to make a simple Fresh Fruit Cake (the Asian style) for her. Hubby's family is bakery cake supporter. No high ratio cake with fancy sugar decorations. For the base, I had used the vanilla chiffon cake recipe which I have been sticking to. Cake was layered and filled with whipped cream and cocktail fruits. Frosted with whipped cream and decorated with fresh fruits. A very typical Asian bakery cake ;)

For a ste-by-step tutorial on how to decorate this cake, kindly visit this post at MCDC.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Adjusting to a new lifestyle.......

A few of my closer chat buddies and forum members who are also my students might be aware by now that I have recently quit my full time job. Although I will still be conducting classes on part time basis, life without a full time job will be different. I will be able to spend more time with Jeriel, which seemed to be a luxury before this. I will also be able to spend all the time I wish in my small little kitchen to stir up more scrumptious meals for my family and also not forgeting all the wonderful baking sessions I could have. Perfect it may sound, if only these ideal cases will always apply......... How about being drawn crazy by my own kid, start mumbling too much to hubby and son, and begin to be picky on small little things and draw the maid mad? Let's see.

Too lazy to make something complicated (just my usual self), I made this simple Marble Butter Cake for our today's breakfast. Please make sure you will only use good quality 100% pure cocoa powder for the marbelised batter. It makes a huge difference.

Marble Butter Cake
Makes 1 loaf of approx. 12 x 22 cm


175g butter
160g castor sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
150g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
100ml milk
25g cocoa powder, sifted
½ tsp chocolate emulco, optional


1. Preheat oven at 180 degC. Line a loaf cake tin with greaseproof paper
2. Sift flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. Combine butter and castor sugar in a mixing bowl. Using paddle of your mixer, cream until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl periodically for well mixing.
4. Add eggs gradually, beating well after each addition.
5. Pour in milk. Mix well. Fold in flour mixture in (2) and mix until batter is smooth.
6. Divide the mixture into 2. Add cocoa powder and chocolate emulco to one of the portions. (Note 4)
7. Drop large spoonfuls of each of the mixtures alternately into the prepared cake tin. Drag a skewer through the mixture to create a marbled efect.
8. Bake at 180 degC for 40 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean.

1. Make sure butter and eggs are at room temperature.
2. Scrape bowl periodically to ensure all ingredients are well mixed.
3. To prevent curdling, mixer must be at low speed when eggs are added.
4. Add 2 tbsp of milk to batter with cocoa powder if batter is dry and difficult to incorporate cocoa powder.