Saturday, November 24, 2012

Make-ahead Bread Rolls

I am grateful that in the past decade, I have never had to cook the Thanksgiving meal, thanks to the hopsitality of my friends who have always slaved in the kitchen cooking up a sumptious feast with home-made everything - from Turkey to the cranberry sauce to sides and pie.

Whereas, I walk in with something store bought. No shame in that though I do feel like the least I can do is to attempt something home-made.

So this year, in the spirit of taking baby steps -- here's my lowly contribution to the Thanksgiving table - home-made, make-ahead dinner rolls!

Tremendously easy - that is, if you have a dough hook or bread machine. By the way, the Kitchenaid mixer is the best investment I made in my effort to learn how to bake ... I've baked more in the past 2 years, than I've ever done in the past few decades (don't want to give out my age here :-)).

This is an easy recipe for the holiday feasts or just everyday dining! 

Recipe for Make-ahead Bread Rolls ( Source: Followed this recipe)


(A) Bread rolls
1 cup milk (110 deg F.)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp salt
4 cups bread flour
3 tsp instant yeast

(B) Egg glaze
1 egg
1 tsp water

  1. Put all ingredients in (A) in the stand mixer with a dough hook, until a soft dough forms.
  2. Let dough rest infor 10 minutes.
  3. Grease your baking pan(s) or cake tins.
  4. Divide dough into even balls - best way to make sure they are even is to weigh them:
  • 2 oz (for small rolls) or
  • 3 oz (for big rolls).

Let it rise for about 1.5 hours in a warm place, and it will look like this:

At this point, you have a few options:

Option 1:  Bake immediately
- Pre-heat oven to 375 deg F.
- Place rolls evenly on baking pan.
- Apply egg glaze on rolls 
- I also melted some butter and brushed it on top.
- Bake for about 25 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Option 2:  Refrigerate and bake
- Cover with oiled plastic wrap and put in fridge overnight.
- The next day, follow the steps in Option 1.

Option 3: Freeze and bake
- Cover with oiled plastic wrap and put in freezer.
- Once frozen, you can remove and put in plastic freezer bags.
- To bake, place rolls on greased baking pans and let it thaw until room temperature.
- Once thawed, follow the steps in Option 1.

Makes about 22 rolls (2 oz each)

Finally, for a bit of a variation, I decided to make some herb rolls using the same dough above, after coming across a recipe for Buttered Rosemary Rolls from the amazing Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  No rosemary on hand, so dill will have to do.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Coconut Egg Custard Jam.

That's what "Kaya" means in Singapore or Malaysia.

And it's what brings back many memories back to my childhood days of having breakfast at an old coffee shop in Singapore called Killiney Kopitiam, even before this venerable institution in Singapore modernized and became somewhat of a chain store.

Back in those days, the coffee shop was old, hot and dingy (with an airwell in the middle) and had about 3 items on their breakfast menu besides coffee and tea - kaya toasted bread, half-boiled egg and french toast with kaya jam. Not much variety to speak of, but man, did the crowds flock there.  Hands down, best coffee, best kaya in town. Not much competition back then (maybe Ya Kun). Now these kaya toast places are a dime and a dozen in Singapore.

I also remember an old Hainanese man back in the kitchen, wearing a light blue pyjamas pants. He was constantly stirring this huge cauldron pot of kaya. And that is the traditional way kaya is made, always stirring under low heat to make sure the jam didn't burn.

Through some internet research, I found a picture of this old Hainanese grandpa (click here for his story and pictures). Apparently he worked at the coffee shop for 54 years until he retired! That's 129,600 hours of cooking kaya in those 54 years - assuming (conservatively) 8 hours per day, 6 days a week and 2 weeks vacation - did I get my math right??

I love kaya but not that much to spend my precious time cooking it the way he did. I was glad to chance upon some recipes that called for a quick and easy way to make kaya - either through the crockpot or the microwave. In the end, I opted to cook through the crockpot and adapted from two recipes (see below for recipe and credits).

Old Hainanese grandpa, God rest his soul - thank you for pouring your heart, soul and life into making wonderful kaya all those 54 years.

Now that you have passed on, I'm glad that that there is an easy way to re-create the wonderful memories of a breakfast in Singapore like I did at Killiney Kopitiam.


  • 10 eggs
  • 400 ml coconut milk (1 can)
  • 450 g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • A few pandan leaves (Note: I didn't have pandan leaves but the jam came out as well, so don't sweat it if you don't have this)


  1. Break 10 eggs and mix well.
  2. Add coconut milk, sugar, vanilla essence, salt and pandan leaves to the egg mixture, and mix well.
  3. Pour entire mixture into crockpot.
  4. Set crockpot on "High" for 2 hours.
  5. When the mixture starts to bubble (about 1 hour), check in and stir.
  6. At about the 2nd hour, stir again. 
  7. Switch crockpot settings to "Low" for about 15-30 minutes.
  8. The jam, when ready, should look like scrambled or curdled eggs - do not panic at this point, see picture below)
  9. Puree the curdled egg-looking jam mixture and voila - you will have smooth, velvety kaya jam!*

*You can use a hand blender or whatever food processing machine you have - just one that can puree food.

Makes a few small jars, estimated around 600-900 grams.

To serve:

  • Toast 2 pieces of bread.
  • Spread kaya jam.
  • Cut a few pieces of cold butter and add to bread, if you like.
  • Great for breakfast, tea or an anytime snack! 

Credits for recipe: I adapted from these 2 recipes - thank you for sharing them! Click links below.

The Little Teochew
Lily's Wai Sek Hong

The "ugly" mess:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

There's nothing like home-made cookies, freshly baked from the oven.

I'm not much of a cookie fan, but one day, I had a box of raisins and Quaker Oats sitting side by side in my kitchen, and decided that they were meant to be together. Turns out it's a match made in heaven - chewy cookies with the crunch of oatmeal, coupled with the softness of the raisin.

I followed this recipe from the fabulous Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen:

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces, or 115 grams) butter, softened
2/3 cup (125 grams) light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) rolled oats
3/4 cup (120 grams) raisins
1/2 cup walnuts (65 grams), chopped (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.
  3. At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them.
  4. The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.
Makes about 24-26 cookies

My comments:
  • I chilled the cookie dough because I prefer my cookies to be thicker.
  • I also used a tablespoon to scoop each cookie for consistency.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Casserole

Here's an easy recipe that'll come in handy if you need to feed a crowd. Also perfect for a weeknight dinner (just halve the recipe). You can make a day ahead of time - just bake and serve!

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded, mainly white meat (Tip: Costco's your best bet)
  • 2 large boxes of fresh spinach
  • 2 standard bags of wide egg noodles
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 quart Whipping Cream
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Cream crackers, crushed  (or bread crumbs will do)  (Optional)
  • Shredded cheese as topping
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Boil egg noodles according to instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Stir fry spinach and onion with some oil/butter. Drain and set aside.
  3. Stir cooked egg noodles, shredded chicken, fried spinach, whipping cream, milk and mayo. Mix well.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. If making ahead, you can transfer mixture to a casserole-ready dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate.
  6. Before serving, spread crushed crackers or bread crumbs on top. Then spread cheese.
  7. Reheat in 350 deg F oven until dish is heated and the cheese has melted.
  8. In last 5 minutes, set oven to broil on low to brown the top.
Serves 12.
Source: Inspired by a Real Simple recipe found here.