Monthly Archives: December 2010

What should I read next?!

I stumbled upon this url via an email from a colleague. I’ve not tested it much, but when I tried “Brent Weeks” as author, it suggested Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. So, I’m intrigued!

More a bookmark for myself Smile

Baking & Yeast…

Yeast is to baking… like water is to soups Smile – hmm… well, you can replace yeast by using baking powder I guess… regardless. To bake the right way, Yeast is a critical ingredient.

Lately with my bakes, I noted that the breads were coming out flatter. Now why would that be? I was using yeast, the same flour and the rest… but the only difference I could remark upon was the weather. It’s colder now. So to let the dough rise, I heated up the oven a bit and let the dough sit there. No use. Longer time? nope.

Then while chatting with a friend, I remarked that I was now using Active Dry Yeast… and then I decided to lookup the how and what of ADY! Turns out that you really do need to work a bit to use this yeast. While it’s preferable to fresh yeast for most home bakers – well, I think I could manage to get ahold of fresh yeast in Cairo… but it’s still not as easy to store and access. So ADY was what I needed to use.

Looked up instructions everywhere. I think I’m close to the right stuff, but nowhere near. No one has instructions for beginners. The best I found was as follows:

125 ml of lukewarm water (between 30 and 35 degrees C)

2 tbsps of sugar

dissolve the sugar well in the water.

Add a spoonful of ADY and let it sit in a covered cup for 10 mins.

After 10 mins it should have a bit of foam and sludge on top. This gives you the “proof” that your yeast is alive & kicking. Now just use in your recipe as indicated deducting the water you used for the yeast prep.

So after taking in all that reading, I’m hoping the dough will rise! Will post an update in 20 mins or so Smile

Sad smile Proofing didn’t work.. I guess the yeast needed more time, more water or something…


Veggies in Oyester & Soy Sauce

After a friend mentioned cooking with Oyester sauce a few months ago, I decided to get some. After letting it crowd my kitchen, I decided to try it out. With no recipe at hand and one prior disaster with Soya, I was feeling quite cautious. Playing it safe meant that doing the basics first and trying the sauce out in small quantities.

So veggies – I had a random collection in my kitchen which fit the ibll:

  • 125 g fresh mushrooms
  • 150 g zucchini
  • 1 medium sized carrot
  • 100 g frozen green beans

So I chopped the veggies up nicely and added some oil to a pan. Started on medium heat and then added beans and carrots. Added a pinch of Monosodium Glutamate (Ajinomoto).

When they were halfway done, I added the zucchini and mushrooms. Cooked them well on oil and got them all a bit soggy looking. Then I added 2 spoons of Oyester sauce. That was nice and savory so I added some 2 tsps of soy sauce. Too salty so another 2 spoons of Oyester sauce. And behold food was ready. Eating it without rice or any carbs was fine. I had it with some leftover potato mash. Yum. Actually tastes better without much of anything else. Really!

Next ideas:

I got some chicken yesterday. I’ll chop into cubes and marinate it and some onions with Oyester + soy sauce and top it off with some sesame seeds!

Veggie soups

These days, I’ve tried some really great soups using my Thermomix! Yesterday it was Corn soup and today I had veggie soup (carrots, peas and beans). So how?

  • 250g veggies
  • 550ml water
  • 1 maggie vegetable stock cube
  • 1 clove of garlic, or 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil (non specific)

So I add a clove of chopped garlic or garlic paste, then some oil and 4 mins on spoon speed and varoma.

Added in veggies, stock cube and the water. Use double the amount of water, for a pleasantly thick soup. If you want clearer, add more water, like another 250ml.

If you cook this for 15 mins, varoma on regular spoon speed you get clear soup with veggies hanging on. I’m more for thick soups, so half way through I just hit the turbo button for a bit.

Enjoy the soup.

With corn, I added a bit of Oyester sauce and that tasted really good.

Thermomix Banana Chocolate Cake

After spending loads of time figuring out a recipe, I hit upon this one. It’s adapted from 2 recipes. One on and another from here. Since I wanted the ease of Thermomix with a nearly brainless approach to it, I also had a look at my last post on baking for proportions and adjusted.

Here’s the one I ended up. And it looks great. I’ll tell you what it tastes like tonight.


  • 300g flour
  • 210g sugar
  • 10g baking powder
  • 2g salt
  • 355g bananas (peeled)
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g melted butter
  • 95 ml milk – I used buttermilk instead of regular milk
  • 30g cocoa powder

On thermomix, use speed 5 or 6 for 20 seconds or until well mixed – which may be another 10 seconds. Pour batter into a lightly greased baking tin/pyrex bowl for 30-35 min bake on 180C. Re heat, I have a gas oven and no thermometer, so I just set it on mid low and went with it.


  • For such an easy recipe, it looks great. It cooked on time and I have no issues re lightness. Taste and other things to be determined today at cake cutting

Next step:

  • Experiment without banana


The cake tasted fine. It wasn’t as fluffy as I’d have liked it to be… I’m not sure why that was the case. One idea was that perhaps the whole mix was too heavy. Another was too much baking powder caused it to blow up and then fizz out.

When I first pulled the cake out, it looked nicely inflated. So my guess is that the reason it got so dense was that the mix was too heavy.. or perhaps I should’ve left it a bit longer in the oven??