Friday, March 16, 2007

A Sweet Root

Potatoes, tapioca(cassava), yam(taro), artichokes - what do these have in common? They are all placed into the group of root vegetables. Actually it is only when I started 'researching' for this post that I found out that there are so many different types of tubers which are all categorized into this big group, but are actually from various parts of the plant. For more info, check out this from Wikipedia.

For this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, I'm using a starchy root - sweet potato. I think in some countries, sweet potato is called yam. But over here, it is easy to distinguish between these two tubers - yam is usually light purple and stubby, while sweet potato can range from white to yellow to orange, and with tapered ends. In many asian countries, sweet potatoes are widely used in making desserts and sweet 'cakes' like ondeh-ondeh(sweet potato balls with palm sugar filling) and other kuih-kuih.

Here I'm using orange sweet potato to make a sweet dessert - Sweet Potato Soup. It's very simple to prepare with a few ingredients and takes less than half an hour to cook. Sorry for the lack of exact measurements, since the amount of ingredients really depends on your taste and liking.

Sweet Potato Soup

1 sweet potato (about 350g, unpeeled weight)
A handful of dried longans
Some dried red dates
A small knob of ginger, peeled
4 to 5 blades pandan leaves, washed
About 2.5 litres water
Rock sugar or castor sugar

Peel sweet potato, wash and cut into cubes. Rinse dried longans and red dates. Pound red dates slightly(I use the handle of a cleaver). Place all the ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and cook until the sweet potato cubes are soft(about 15 to 20 mins). Discard pandan leaves and add sugar to taste. Serve hot, or chill for a refreshing dessert.

Don't forget to head over to Becky's from Key Lime and Coconut for the re-cap, where she's hosting this weekly event for this week. Of course, always remember to hop over to Kalyn's Kitchen for more details on WHB.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A New 'Member' & An Old Favourite

I had a new addition to my recipe collection lately - Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess. When blog-hopping, I had come across several good reviews on her recipes, which made me confident about buying this book. I had not gone to search for it intentionally, but as I was browsing at Harris, I saw two copies sitting prettily on the shelf, as if calling out "Buy me, buy me!". Oh well, buy I did :p

I hadn't quite finished reading through the recipes. But I wanted to try out something simple and quick to make. So I chose a scone recipe and modified it for my post for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, where the guest host is Anna from Morsels and Musings. If you would like to join this weekly event where bloggers write about herbs, flowers, fruits or plants, don't forget to hop over to Kalyn's Kitchen for more details!

Rosemary is my very favourite herb, I simply love the intoxicating aroma it produces during the baking/cooking process. Some people find the pine-like fragrance a bit pungent, but it suits me just fine, in fact, I tend to add more than the recipes ask for. Rosemary has several health benefits to. This is what WHFoods writes about rosemary - rosemary contains substances that are useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion. Rosemary also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may make it useful for reducing the severity of asthma attacks. In addition, rosemary has been shown to increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration.

However, I just realized that I hadn't actually written a WHB post about it yet. How could I have forgotten to do that?! So my apologies, Miss Rosemary. So here I'm pairing rosemary with cheese in these savoury scones.

If you love buttery scones, these would probably not suite your taste. If you look at the recipe below, the amount of butter is actually pretty low for 250g of flour. But I like it that it's light and soft, with each bite perfumed with the taste of cheese and rosemary.

For a more indulgent treat, serve these warm, with a slab of butter on top.

Rosemary and Cheese Scones(modified)

240g plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves(adjust amount according to your taste)
30g cheese*, grated
40g cold butter, cut into cubes
150ml milk
Beaten egg, for glazing


1) Sift the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar.
2) Using a pastry blender or your fingers, rub in the butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add in the rosemary and cheese and mix well.
3) Add in the milk and use a fork to mix briefly.
4) Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to form a dough. Dough should not be sticky.
5) Roll out (I just pat the dough using my fingers) to about 1-inch thinkness and cut using a 2.5-inch cutter.
6) Place on a lined or lightly-greased baking tray and egg wash the surface. Bake in a preheated 220 C oven for about 20 mins, or until golden brown and risen.

* Nigella’s recipe suggest to use mature cheddar, I used Parmigiano Reggiano.

Scones are best served on the day of baking, especially when fresh from the oven.