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Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh’s recipes for 3 simple cakes

Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh’s recipes for 3 simple cakes

Anytime is a good time for cake. Make these simple ones today!


200g honey
330ml water
40g walnuts, roughly chopped
50g pitted red dates, chopped
35g pecans, roughly chopped
210g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and flour a 22cm by 12 cm loaf pan.

Combine water with honey, walnuts, pecans and dates in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and put aside to cool completely.

Mix flour with baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in orange and lemon zest. Pour the mixture into the cooled honey mixture. Beat in the egg, lemon juice and vanilla. Combine the mixture thoroughly to mix.

Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 65-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool before turning cake out of the tin.

cake-Lemon Tea Loaf


225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
175g castor sugar
130g butter
2 eggs
100ml fresh milk
25ml limoncino (lemon liquor)
2 tbsp orange juice
Grated rind of 1 lemon and orange

Lemon syrup
50g castor sugar
2 tbsp water
Grated lemon rind of 1 lemon
50ml limoncino (lemon liquor)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and flour a 22cm by 12cm loaf pan.

Sift together the plain flour and baking powder. Mix in salt. Set aside.

To prepare lemon syrup: Cook 50g sugar with 2 tablespoon water. Once it boils add lemon rind. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Take saucepan off the heat and leave it to cool completely. Take a fork and remove the crystallised lemon rind and put aside. Add 50ml limoncino to the syrup. Stir to mix and set aside.

To make the cake: Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add eggs and continue to beat till well combined. Add a tablespoon of the flour mixture while beating the eggs.

Fold in remaining flour mixture gradually to combine. Stir in milk followed by the lemon liquor and orange juice. Add lemon and orange rind to mix.

Transfer batter to prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of cake comes out clean.

Once the cake is cooked use a skewer to poke holes liberally on the surface of the cake and while it is still hot drizzle the syrup over the top and allow cake to cool in the tin.

Top with the crystallised lemon rind.

cake-The Ultimate Chocolate Cake


180g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
4g bicarbonate of soda
290g dark chocolate chips, melted
225g butter
160g soft brown sugar
5 eggs (Grade A)
90g whipping cream
180g fresh milk
100g almond nibs, toasted

Preheat the oven at 180°C. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Sift together the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda twice.

Melt dark chocolate chips in a metal or glass mixing bowl set over a pot of warm simmering water for about 10-12 minutes. Once chocolate has melted, take the bowl off the pot and leave to cool slightly.

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in melted chocolate to combine. Fold in sifted ingredients in batches followed by whipping cream and fresh milk. Add almond nibs to mix.

Transfer batter to the prepared tin and bake for 90-95 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre of cake comes out clean.

Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh’s recipes for 3 duck dishes

Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh’s recipes for 3 duck dishes

Duck has an interesting flavour, but it needs to be braised or stewed to bring out the tenderness of the meat.


350g duck meat, cut into chunky pieces
300g pig’s tail, cut into sections
60g sweet mui choy
50g salted mui choy
3 slices tong kwai
15g ginger slices
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp sesame oil
1.5 litres water

Sauce (A)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp pepper
30g rock sugar or to taste

1 tbsp cornflour + 2 tbsp water

Scald the pieces of duck and pig’s tail in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse well.

Soak the sweet and salted mui choy separately in water to remove excess saltiness. Rinse and cut finely.

Heat a wok till hot, add ginger slices and pan-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add chopped garlic and sesame oil. Stir-fry briefly till fragrant.

Add tong kwai and both types of mui choy. Stir-fry well, then add duck and pig’s tail. Stir in sauce (A) ingredients. Keep frying till aromatic.

Pour in water and cook to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes till meat is tender. Adjust with thickening.

Tasty Duck Chop with Noodles in Superior Soup


200g deboned duck breast meat, skin removed

Marinade (A)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp ginger juice
Dash of pepper
1 tbsp cornflour

Ingredients (B)
1 egg white
1/4 cup breadcrumbs + 1/4 cup self-raising flour

Ingredients (C)
2 small rolls fresh noodles (wantan mee)
1 litre chicken stock/water
Adequate salt, sugar and pepper to taste
1 tsp concentrated chicken stock
1/2 tsp anchovy stock powder
A few drops sesame oil

Some chopped spring onions
Some kei chi

Tenderise duck breast meat with the back of a chopper. Season with marinade (A) for at least 30 minutes.

Steam marinated duck meat for 20 minutes. Remove and drain dry.

Add egg white to the marinated duck meat and coat with breadcrumb mixture. Deep fry over medium hot oil till golden and crispy.

Bring half a saucepan of water to a rapid boil. Scald the noodles for about 30 seconds then immediately plunge the noodles into a basin of cold water for a few seconds. Drain well and divide between individual serving dishes. Mix noodles with a little sesame oil.

To prepare soup stock: Cook the chicken stock/water with salt, sugar, pepper, concentrated chicken stock and anchovy stock powder. Add a few drops of sesame oil.

Pour soup stock over the noodles and top with slices of chopped duck. Garnish and serve.

Braised Fragrant Duck with Lotus Root and Yam


700g duck, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp shredded ginger
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 piece fermented beancurd (lam yee), smashed with a fork
1 tbsp preserved soy bean paste (tau cheong)
1.5 litres water

100g lotus root, sliced
200g yam, cubed

1/2 tsp thick soy sauce
1 tsp chicken stock powder
20g rock sugar or to taste

2 tbsp cornflour + 2 tbsp water

Heat sesame oil in a saucepot and fry ginger, shallots and garlic until fragrant. Add fermented beancurd and soy bean paste. Stir-fry until fragrant again.

Add duck to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add ingredients B. Toss to mix well.

Pour in water and cook to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 35 minutes.

Add lotus root and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Next, add yam and simmer till duck is tender and the vegetables are cooked to the right doneness.

Thicken with cornflour mixture, if required.

Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh makes 3 dishes starring spring onions

Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh makes 3 dishes starring spring onions

Scallions or spring onions are versatile. Finely chopped spring onions are a flavourful garnish to a finished dish, but using it in cooking can enhance the taste profile.


550g kampung chicken
25g ginger
25g spring onion
3 cloves garlic
15g fresh coriander
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil

1½ tbsp sugar or to taste
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (optional)
1 tbsp light soy sauce

Clean chicken well. Pat dry. Place ginger, spring onion, garlic and coriander into a food processor. Process briefly into a coarse paste. Dish out and combine with seasoning.

Place chicken on a steaming plate and spoon over half of the ginger paste mixture.

Rub it all over the chicken.

Put the plate of chicken into a preheated steamer. Cover and steam over high heat for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.

Place the remaining ginger paste in a small bowl. Heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil until just hot. Pour the hot oil onto the ginger paste and allow to sizzle for a while. Spoon the hot sauce over the cooked chicken and serve at once.

Recipes with scallions: Pretty Flower Mantau


300g pau flour
½ tsp double-action baking powder
75g castor sugar
30g vegetable shortening
60g pumpkin paste
10g instant dried yeast
125-130ml lukewarm water

Glaze and filling
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
salt and pepper

Stir yeast into warm water and set aside to froth. Sift flour and double-action baking powder into a mixing bowl. Stir in sugar, vegetable shortening, and finally the yeast mixture. Mix in pumpkin paste and using a dough hook mix on low speed into a dough.

Continue to knead until the dough is soft, smooth and pliable.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly with a sprinkling of additional flour if it is too soft. Divide the dough into two equal portions.

Roll out each half of the dough into a long log and cut into small pieces or scale into 20g pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Using a rolling pin, flatten the ball and roll out into a thin circle.

Place a dough circle on the work surface. Place another dough circle below it, overlapping the edges slightly. Arrange three more circles of dough below the first two pieces. You will end up with five circles arranged in a straight vertical line. Use a fork and press down lightly over the overlapping sections to secure all the circles in place.

Glaze lightly with sesame oil and sprinkle chopped spring onion liberally over the pieces of dough, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Starting from the bottom, roll up the five circles of dough into a Swiss roll. Once the Swiss roll is formed, roll a little with the palm of your hand to secure the seam.

Using a pastry cutter or sharp knife, cut each Swiss roll in the centre into two equal pieces. Each one will be in the shape of a flower. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough to create more flower mantau.

Place each bun, cut side down, into a paper case. Arrange on a tray and cover with cling film. Set aside in a warm place to rise until double in size, 15-20 minutes.

Steam the flower rolls in batches over rapid boiling water on high heat for 10-12 minutes. Once done, turn off the heat but leave the buns in the steamer for another minute before removing from steamer. (This will prevent the buns from shrinking as they cool.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Recipes with scallions: Delightful Tapioca Spring Onion Snack Balls


200g tapioca
80g grated coconut
1 tbsp chopped fresh red chili
35g chopped spring onion
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
dash of pepper

60g rice flour
30g glutinous rice flour
1 tsp custard powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
150ml water

Peel tapioca and soak in water for 20 minutes, then cut into small sections. Place on a steaming plate and steam till soft. Remove and mash with a fork till mushy.

Add grated coconut, red chilli, spring onion, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Mix combined batter ingredients well and set aside.

Take a heaped tablespoon of tapioca mixture and roll into a neat ball.

Dip into the batter and deep-fry in medium hot oil till the balls are golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh’s recipes for fish head

Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh’s recipes for fish head

Fish heads often have a more concentrated flavour and are meaty enough to cook into satisfying dishes.


500g garoupa fish head, chopped into serving-size pieces
½ cup tapioca flour
enough oil for deep frying
3 tbsp butter
2 stalks curry leaves
5 bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced
4 salted egg yolks, steamed and mashed
100ml chicken stock/water
150ml fresh milk

1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp chicken stock powder
½ tsp pepper
dash of coarse ground black pepper
2-2½ tbsp sugar or to taste

Clean fish head pieces. Drain well and toss in tapioca flour. Deep-fry the pieces for 3-4 minutes till golden and crispy. Drain from oil.

Melt butter in a nonstick wok over medium heat. Add curry leaves and bird’s eye chillies. Stir fry till fragrant.

Add mashed salted egg yolks and fry gradually till mixture turns bubbly. Pour in chicken stock and fresh milk and adjust seasoning to taste. Simmer gradually till gravy or sauce is creamy. Add pre-fried fish head. Stir to coat the pieces well with the sauce.

Dish out and serve immediately.

fish head recipes

Tasty Fish Head Curry


450g garoupa fish head, chopped into serving-size pieces
some tapioca flour
oil for deep-frying
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, smashed
¼ tsp poppy seeds
2 sections of a star anise
200ml water

Ingredients A (mixed to a paste with enough water)
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coriander powder

Ingredients B (ground together)
5 shallots
2 cloves garlic
2cm ginger
1 slice galangal

½ tsp salt and sugar to taste
1 tsp anchovy stock powder

Clean fish head pieces and lightly marinate with ½ teaspoon salt. Toss in tapioca flour and deep-fry till crisp. Remove from oil.

Leave 3-4 tbsp oil in the wok. Over medium heat, lightly brown shallots and garlic then add chilli paste mixture. Fry briefly for 2-3 minutes. Add ground ingredients, lemon grass, poppy seeds and star anise. Continue to fry until aromatic.

Add water and cook to a boil. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Add fried fish head slices and simmer till gravy is reduced slightly.

Dish out and serve with a squeeze of lime juice.

fish head recipes

Steamed Fish Head with Enoki Mushrooms


400g red snapper fish head, chopped into serving-size pieces
3cm ginger, sliced
2 sprigs spring onion, cut into 4cm lengths
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp fresh chicken stock
150g enoki mushrooms, ends trimmed
adequate kei chi

½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

2 sprigs coriander leaves, cut into 4-5 cm lengths
Adequate spring onion curls and chilli sliced

Clean fish head pieces and marinate with seasoning ingredients for 15 minutes.

Spread ginger slices and spring onion on the base of a heatproof dish. Arrange fish head pieces on the dish.

Just before steaming fish head, combine cooking oil and chicken stock and pour over the fish head pieces.

Place the dish in a steamer over rapidly boiling water. Steam for 15 minutes.

Five minutes before the end of steaming time, add the enoki mushrooms and sprinkle the kei chi around the dish. Continue to steam.

Serve dish hot with garnishing.

Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh’s recipes for rice and rice substitutes

Cook’s Nook: Amy Beh’s recipes for rice and rice substitutes

Couscous and cauliflower rice are great alternatives to rice.


2 cups cold cooked brown rice
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
6 shelled medium small prawns, diced
1 tbsp diced carrot
2 long beans, cut into small sections
2 tbsp diced red capsicum
2 egg whites
2 tbsp fresh sweet corn kernels

1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tsp paprika powder
Freshly cracked black pepper
Dash of pepper to taste
Sugar to taste

Heat oil and sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add prawns, carrot and long beans. Saute briefly.

Add brown rice and toss over high heat. Stir in capsicum to combine. Mix and fry briskly over high heat. Season to taste.

Push rice aside and add egg white. Toss and fry until egg whites and rice are well combined.

Add sweet corn kernels and adjust taste with a little more sesame oil. Keep frying until rice grains start to “jump”.

Once done and rice is fragrant, dish out and serve at once.

Healthy Cauliflower Fried Rice


1 (300g) medium head cauliflower
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp red onion, diced
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tbsp red capsicum, diced
2 tbsp green capsicum, diced
1 tbsp diced carrot
2 tbsp shiitake mushrooms, diced
2 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 tbsp canola oil

chopped spring onion and coriander

Remove core of cauliflower. Cut off the florets and wipe them dry. Put the florets in a food processor. Pulse for 5-6 seconds until the cauliflower resembles rice or slightly larger pieces. Do not overload the processor or the cauliflower will become mushy when cooked.

Heat sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant.

Add capsicums and carrot. Stir-fry well till aromatic. Add cauliflower and saute until just tender but not mushy. Mix in the shiitake mushrooms. Add the beaten eggs and adjust taste with seasoning. Keep stirring until the egg coats all the cauliflower and is cooked,

Dish out and serve garnished with chopped spring onion and coriander.

Simmered Chicken with Couscous


2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
500g chicken, skin removed and cut into 6 pieces
150g tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
½ tsp water
2 dried dates
Adequate salt and sugar to taste
½ tsp chicken stock powder

150g couscous
1 tbsp butter
20g raisins
2 stalks coriander, finely chopped

Heat oil in a pan and saute onion and garlic till slightly browned and aromatic.

Add chicken, tomatoes, paprika, cinnamon and bay leaf, and pour in water. Cook to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring twice in between.

Add the dates and continue to simmer until chicken is tender and gravy is reduced. Add seasoning to taste.

For the couscous: Bring 600ml water to a boil then add ½ teaspoon oil and a big pinch of salt. Once water comes to a boil, take saucepan off the heat and add couscous. Whisk and cover for 3-4 minutes. When done, drain couscous and loosen the grains. Stir in butter, raisins and coriander.

Dish out couscous to serve with the chicken.

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