All Natural National Day Red-and-white Velvet Cake

The Aged P threw a National Day party for our relatives yesterday, and she served up this delicious cake with a Singapore twist – so I asked her if she would share her recipe right here on Owls Well!

If you’re still looking for an Impressive Dessert for your National Day Party, here’s the Aged P’s special National Day Red-and-white Velvet Cake recipe.

Aged P’s Tip: This kid-friendly recipe uses natural food colouring as well as a reduced sugar frosting that holds up well in Singapore’s warm summery climate.

red-velvet-cake-singapore

National Day Red Velvet Cake

Recipe for Natural Beetroot Red Food Colouring

Ingredients
2 beetroots
Water

Method
1. Peel and cut two beetroots into cubes
2. Cook in a pot with enough water to cover the cubes, over low flame, for 1 hour.
3. Drain the liquid and set aside – this is the natural red food colouring

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Ingredients
3 and 3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
175g unsalted butter
1 and 3/4 cup fine sugar
3 eggs
6 tablespoons Milo powder (or cocoa powder)
1/4 cup natural beetroot red food colouring
1 and 1/2tsp fine salt
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk with 2 and 1/2 tbsp of distilled vinegar (substitute for buttermilk)
2 and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 and 1/2 tbsp distilled white vinegar

Method
1. Heat oven to 170C.
2. Line two 11 inch X 4 inch loaf tins with greaseproof paper
3. In a small bowl mix Milo with natural beetroot cup red food colouring.  Set aside to cool.
4. Mix vanilla essence, salt and buttermilk together, set aside
5. Cream butter and 1-3/4C sugar until light and fluffy.
6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
8. Add Milo and natural beetroot food colouring
9. Add sifted flour, alternating with addition of substitute buttermilk until batter is smooth
10. Mix bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a small bowl then immediately add the mixture to the batter, folding in gently.
11. Pour batter into prepared loaf tins and bake in oven for 35 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean.
12. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Aged P’s Tip: If you’re using regular commercial food colouring instead of the natural food colouring, use 2 tsp of food colouring and increase the milk by 1/4cup.

Recipe for Reduced Sugar Frosting

Ingredients
7 and 1/2 tbsp plain flour
1 and 1/2cup milk
1 and 1/4cup fine sugar
1 and 1/2cup butter, softened
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method
1. Whisk plain flour into the milk.
2. Cook over low flame, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened.  Set aside to cool.
3. Cream butter. sugar and vanilla until fluffy then add the cooled thickened flour mixture.
4. Beat the mixture until fluffy.

Advertisements

Baking Challenge: Mary-Full-Of-Grace Chicken

Well well well, I have now completed TWO of the baking challenges that ABC (A Becky C) has set for me this year!

This one satisfies the criteria ‘something savoury that isn’t a pie’, and it is a mix of two recipes introduced to me during my student days by two different women.

One of these women is a fine lady that I met as a student in London, who basically adopted every single person who didn’t have a home and family to escape to every weekend. Every Sunday afternoon, she would invite starving stragglers like myself to her home for lunch where she would serve us all a delicious meal of baked chicken parcels, piping hot from the oven, whilst her husband entertained us with snippets of The Goon Show. She never knew how many people would be gracing her home during Sunday afternoons, but somehow there was always more than enough to go round.

The other woman is a girl that I knew from school who was studying in Germany and also met a fine lady over there who also adopted all poor and starving International students and served them baked stuffed chicken for Sunday Lunch. My friend visited me in London one time and made the dish for me.

I’ve now come to associate baked chicken with hospitality and kindness, and I’ve taken the liberty of combining the two recipes together, which I think works pretty well! I have also included additional Thermomix instructions at the end of the recipe for those of you who own magic stirring pots. In honour of the two women who opened their homes and hearts to strangers on Sunday afternoons, I am calling this dish, “Mary-Full-Of-Grace Chicken”.

Mary-Full-Of-Grace Chicken Recipe

Ingredients:

  1. 6 Skinless chicken breast fillets
  2. 12-15 Bacon strips (I used back bacon, but streaky bacon probably works better)
  3. 150g-200g Cream cheese with herbs (I used one that had garlic and chives in it but you can use Boursin or make your own)
  4. 1 tbsp olive oil
  5. (Optional) Toothpicks

cream-cheese-bacon-wrapped-chicken

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C and use some olive oil to grease a baking pan or sheet
  2. Using a sharp knife, butterfly each chicken breast by slicing it carefully down the centre but not all the way through. Alternatively, you can use a rolling pin to flatten each chicken breast to a 1/2 inch thickness.
  3. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of cream cheese in the centre of the chicken breast.
  4. Roll the chicken breast up to completely cover the cream cheese
  5. Wrap the rolled up chicken breast with 2-3 strips of bacon
  6. (Optional) Use a toothpick to keep the bacon in place
  7. Place the chicken seam-side down onto the baking pan
  8. Drizzle over with olive oil
  9. Bake uncovered at 200°C for 30-40 minutes until juices run clear
  10. Broil under the grill for 5 minutes to make the bacon nice and crisp

(note: If you want to be indulgent, use butter instead of olive oil)

baked-bacon-wrapped-chicken-stuffed-cheese

Extra Thermomix instructions for cream cheese and herbs:

  1. Put 1 clove of peeled garlic and 1-2 chives or spring onion in the Thermomix, then blend for 5 seconds at speed 7
  2. Scrape down then add 200-250g of cream cheese and blend for 20 seconds on speed 4

 

Debs G Baking Challenge: Mr Fox’s Foolproof Blueberry Cobbler

HA HA! I have successfully completed one of the Challenges that A Becky C gave me earlier this year! And it is delicious. And everybody loved it!

Blueberry Cobbler is what I would consider an idiot proof dessert.

Why do I consider this idiot proof?

Because it was the dessert that my good friend Mr Fox1 made when he visited me during his Tour of Europe.

At the time, I was a medical student living in a rented ramshackle hut. The kitchen had a linoleum floor from the 1950s that was only partially in our plane of existence. We had no baking equipment except a malfunctioning oven which you had to light by turning on the gas and then sticking your head into the oven with a burning taper.

Dangerous? Yes!

Did that deter Mr Fox? No!

Mr Fox coolly bought some blueberries from the market, and then magically produced this amazing dessert which my starving housemates and I demolished in a matter of seconds. That guy is Fantastic.

I’ve tweaked his recipe a little bit to make it more child-friendly (and by that, I mean, it is a low sugar version), and I think it turned out pretty well! I’ve also added additional Thermomix instructions at the end of the recipe for those of you who own magic self-stirring pots.

Mr Fox’s Foolproof Blueberry Cobbler Recipe

Ingredients:

  1. 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  2. ½ cup sugar
  3. 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  4. ¾ cup whole milk
  5. ⅓ cup softened butter
  6. 2 cups blueberries
  7. 1 tsp vanilla extract

(note: You can increase the amount of blueberries if you like!)

blueberry-cobbler-recipe

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the vanilla extract and set aside.
  3. Add the rest of the sugar, floor, baking powder, milk and butter together and mix until smooth
  4. Pour batter into an ovenproof dish. I used an 8″ square casserole dish.
  5. Sprinkle the blueberries over the top
  6. Sprinkle the sugar and vanilla extract mixture over the top
  7. Bake at 170°C for 45minutes
  8. Enjoy on it’s own or with vanilla icecream (or custard!)

blueberry-cobbler-delicious-dessert

Extra Thermomix instructions for the batter:

  1. Soften butter at 50°C at Speed 2 for 3 minutes
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients as detailed in the method above and blend for 10 seconds on Speed 6

1. Mr Fox is so named because of his true name, his ruddy red locks and his ‘Auntie Killer’ personality. He is a multilingual lawyer who runs marathons, helps inner city youth on his days off and bakes delicious blueberry cobbler, so yeah, he is Fantastic. I’d introduce him to all you single ladies out there, but unfortunately, he has only recently married a very handsome veterinary doctor.

A Conversation about Bread

Debs G: A Becky Lee!  I need your blueberry cobbler recipe for the challenge!

A Becky Lee: I don’t know if I have it at the moment because I use Mrs Beeton’s Cookbook and it’s stashed away in a box somewhere… but from memory, it’s flour, milk, sugar, blueberries… and I’m not sure if we need eggs, but it does need a binding agent… let me check… Yes, yes it needs eggs.

Debs G: What else would I use other than eggs?!

A Becky Lee: Well, Iunno, blood?

Debs G:  WHAT?!

A Becky Lee: It’s a good binding agent!  It’s got albuluminimumuninm in it like eggs do!

Debs G:  You mean Albumin?

A Becky Lee: Yeah!  Apparently egg albumin and blood albumin is pretty much the same, and you can use blood for when people have egg allergies.  My friend Tatya, you know, the one who is super into Medieval cooking is all excited about this because some archaeologists unearthed an ancient bread that was made out of blood in some battlefield somewhere.  It was super high in protein and stuff.

Debs G: You mean, the soldier bled into the bread and it got preserved?

A Becky Lee: No, it was made with blood.

12798939_10153765247062839_6156992671299268404_n

BLOOD!

Debs G:  You mean, the soldier died and the bread was on the battlefield and soaked up all the blood like some kind of wheaty vampire.  Anyway, where is Tatya getting this blood from?

A Becky Lee: … a butcher…?

Debs G:  Oh, yeah.  She was probably using cow blood.  I guess you could that from a butcher.

A Becky Lee:  What else kind of blood did you think she was using?

Debs G:  Iunno.  Human?

A Becky Lee:  WHY WOULD SHE USE HUMAN BLOOD?!  That’s disgusting!  We don’t want to get Kuru!

Debs G:  You can’t get Kuru from eating blood!  You can only get it from eating raw human brains!

A Becky Lee:  Well, you can also get it from cornea transplants…

A Becky Lee: … from people who eat raw brains…

Debs G: Exactly.

Our family has some strange conversations sometimes.  Incidentally, for those of you interested in making the Viking Blood Bread, Tatya recommends the recipe from An Early Meal – A Viking Age Cookbook & Culinary Odyssey by Daniel Serra and Hanna Tunberg.


 

Tatya’s Addendum:  I couldn’t find a butcher to get me clean blood, so I got the blood from a friend when they had a sheep slaughtered.  The kitchen looked like vikings had marauded through it with one hapless Christian monk.  (Only one monk because there wasn’t that much blood)

Baby-friendly recipe: Chicken and squash risotto (with a twist)

Okay, so most babies in Singapore will begin their weaning journey with iron-enriched rice cereal and proceed on towards rice porridge.

I like to switch things up a little and introduce my weaning baby to a variety of different cereals like barley, oats and quinoa. This is partially because rice – even in its baby cereal form –  is a natural source of arsenic (and I want to avoid too much of it), but mostly because I like my children to become accustomed to a wide variety of tastes and textures in their diet.

baby-weaning-oats-quaker-cereal-breakfast

J at 15 months old enjoying some breakfast oats

As soon as my weaning tots are well established on an iron-rich diet1, with plenty of meat and green leafy veggies, I like to start them on wholegrain cereals which are higher in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals than their refined counterparts.

Now, I normally associate oat cereal with a hearty breakfast porridge, but another way to include some wholegrain goodness in the diet is to add it to the rice cooker!

Here’s a great recipe that my entire family has enjoyed – and it’s suitable for weaning babies from 9-12 months of age too!

quaker-oats-for-rice-recipe-pumpkin-weaning-baby

Debs G’s Chicken and Squash Risotto (with a twist)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • one brown onion – diced
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets – diced
  • 500g pumpkin or butternut squash – diced
  • 200g courgette – diced
  • 2 cups washed rice
  • 2/3 cup wholegrain rolled oats (I used Quaker Oats For Rice)
  • 800mls water or unsalted stock (I used homemade chicken and vegetable stock)
  • Optional: grated parmesan or cheddar cheese

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat
  2. Add chicken, pumpkin and onion. Cover the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Pour into a rice cooker, adding the courgette, rice and oats as well as the water or stock
  4. Cook for 20 minutes (or until rice is done)
  5. Fluff up and serve (with grated cheese topping) for the family or blend to the desired consistency for your weaning tot!
  6. Enjoy!

Update: For those of you with a Thermomix, here’s how to do it

  1. Place onion in Themomix, chop 3 seconds on speed 5
  2. Scrape down bowl, add olive oil and saute onion 3 minutes/varoma/speed 2
  3. Scrape down bowl, add diced chicken and pumpkin/squash, sauté 3 minutes on 100C/reverse/speed soft
  4. Insert butterfly attachment (optional)
  5. Add stock/water, courgette, rice and oats, cook 20 minutes/100C/reverse/speed soft
  6. Pour all into thermoserver and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes to allow risotto to thicken
  7. Blend to the desired consistency for baby or serve with parmesan cheese

(This post is sponsored by Quaker Oats, which has been a staple in the Owls Well household for 10 years and has been favoured by our families for generations. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Owls Well.)

P.S. Quaker is having a promotion at NTUC Fairprice supermarkets till 12 Mar 2016. Stand a chance to with a Tiger Induction Ricer Cooker worth more than $700 with every $5 worth of Quaker products purchased.  Check in stores for details. T&C applies.


1. Wholegrain cereals are high in phytates, naturally found chemicals in the bran of the cereal, which bind to iron during digestion and inhibit absorption. If your baby is not receiving iron from other sources, and you are counting on cereals as the main source of iron, either choose refined cereals to improve iron-absorption from the gut or consider using home-processing methods (such as soaking) to reduce the phytate levels in your chosen wholegrain cereal.

12 Ideas for Last Minute Crafty Christmas Joy

It’s Christmas Eve and there are Christmas parties, Christmas presents and Christmas cheer that needs to go round, and if you are anything like me, you haven’t done a thing about it yet.

Don’t Panic!!!

Owls Well is here with a round up of a dozen last minute Christmas crafts and general activity for Funtimes And Merriment from around the web!

Christmas Cards

1.Try these quick and simple ideas for gorgeous Christmas cards using washi tape by A Pancake Princess

Picture Credit: A Pancake Princess

Picture Credit: A Pancake Princess

2. I really like these three kid-friendly christmas card ideas over at PeiPeiHaoHao

Picture Credit: PeiPeiHaoHao

Picture Credit: PeiPeiHaoHao

3. If you’ve got a ton of Christmas scrapbooking paper to destash, here’s a pretty, sparkly Christmas tree card by Xavvy-licious

Picture Credit: Xavvy-licious

Picture Credit: Xavvy-licious

Christmas Decorations

4. Welcome guests to your home with a beautiful Christmas window display made from sticks and string like this one from MalMal Our Inspiration

Picture Credit: MalMal Our Inspiration

Picture Credit: MalMal Our Inspiration

5. Spruce up your party with a lovely table centrepiece by A Million Little Echoes

Picture Credit: A Million Little Echoes

Picture Credit: A Million Little Echoes

6. Destash your collection of felt scraps (or get some more from Daiso) with these cute felt ornaments from Hello, Mrs Tan

Picture Credit: Hello, Mrs Tan

Picture Credit: Hello, Mrs Tan

7. Entertain the kids all day and get them to make a paper plate and pinwheel tree from Simply Me

Picture Credit: Simply Me

Picture Credit: Simply Me

Stocking Stuffers

8. If you have some airline tube socks from your last trip abroad, why not upcycle them into a super cute Tube Sock Totoro 

Cute!

Cute!

9. These Upcycled Snow Globes are a brilliant idea by Life is in the Small Things

Picture Credit: Life is in the Small Things

Picture Credit: Life is in the Small Things

10. I love these wooden hand lettered ornaments over at Daprayer

Picture Credit: Daprayer

Picture Credit: Daprayer

Christmas Treats

11. Make a few glasses of this delicious and refreshing Christmas Drink and impress your friends

So Sophisticated!

So Sophisticated!

12. Check out this collection of delicious food art ideas put together by The Hooting Post

P.S. For more great ideas, check out these 35 Simple and Foolproof Christmas Crafts and Free Printables

P.P.S. Also, here’s the Owls Well Christmas Party Playlist!

Errata and a Christmas Drink Recipe

I post a lot of recipes on this blog, but as I cook and experiment in the kitchen, the recipes often evolve from the original.  So, I’m posting up my recipe errata, or some of the many changes that I’ve made to my recipes over time.

In Orthodox Christmas Feasting, I have provided my recipe for turkey stuffing.  There are two addendums to this recipe.  Firstly, you don’t need quite so much parsnips.  You can easily get away with just 125 g parsnip.  Secondly, the amount of stuffing this makes is phenomenal.  If you run out of turkey cavity (which you’re sure to do), stuff the rice underneath the skin of the turkey breast.  This will ensure that the skin crisps beautifully and the oils soak into the rice.

I’ve also changed my preferred drink for the Root Beer Float.  Bundaberg Sasparilla is delicious, but also crazy acidic owing to the fact that they use actual sasparilla root.  The ice cream melts far too quickly as a result.  Use A&W Root Beer if you can get it instead.  It’s made of unhealthy things, but produces a longer-lasting ice cream result.

Pasta Sauce is a finicky thing.  I’ll be providing a better recipe for this in the future.  However, just so you know, the Carroty Harvest Pasta Sauce should be simmered with the lid OFF.  Carrots and other root vegetables contain a lot of liquid, so simmer with the lid off to reduce wetness.

Finally, the Cool Drinks for Hot Days.  This has two changes.  After much experimenting, I can safely say that Auntie G’s Southern tastes produce a much sweeter result than I like.  I would recommend that only a 1/4 cup of sugar be used for every 2 litres of iced tea.  As for the Little House in the Prairie recipe, much experimenting has led me to conclude that the drink is best made up as a syrup (containing the apple cider vinegar, the ginger powder and the sugar) and kept in a jar.  For best results, dilute it with soda water and serve cold on ice.  Shake before use.

Now that I’ve finished explaining all my mistakes, enjoy this beautiful (more adult) refresher drink for a hot Christmas Day courtesy of The Boobook!

IMG_20151119_205117

So Sophisticated!

The Boobook’s Wonderfully Refreshing Concoction for Overheating Adults

Ingredients:

  • Wine Glass
  • 1/2 to 1 shot of Pimms
  • Cucumbers
  • Ginger Ale

Cut the cucumbers into slices and place them at the bottom of the wine glass.  Pour the shot of Pimms onto the cucumbers.  Top up with ginger ale.

If you’re a lightweight like A Becky Lee, use only 1/2 a shot of Pimms – just enough to change the flavour and maintain freshness.

For best results, drink the concoction first, then eat the cucumbers after they’ve sat in it for a while.