After having regular checkups at the Orthodontist in the past 2 years, J’s finally ready to be fitted with braces. With that, we need to have a think about our meals with her new requirements in mind.
Soft foods, easy to eat. No super crunchy or hard to chew things that will risk breaking the brackets glued to her teeth. This is especially for the few days straight after each 6-8 weekly checkup where they adjust the individual brackets, and when her gums will be a bit swollen.
We talked about the different things we can have in her lunch box, and this easy sponge cake came up in the conversation. Soft and pillowy, this is perfect for her.
This one is a nod to my childhood, where fancy buttercream or fondant cakes weren’t prevalent, with a good sponge cake being the absolute gold standard for all occasions. Specifically, layered sponge cakes dressed up with whipped cream and seasonal fruits (think about all the mango cream sponges and berries and cream cakes!) They are still popular in Hong Kong, and very much part of the food cultural fabric.
To make those cakes you can easily use this recipe and bake it in a normal cake pan, add whipped cream along with seasonal fruits. Easy. We’ve made after-school-snack-portions here with tall moulds, just like the ones in my childhood days, and you can also use other baking tins, just find something that is quite tall and deep. Perfect lunch box item – sans cream of course!
- 55g unsalted butter, melted (Lewis Road Creamery)
- 60ml milk
- 100g low gluten flour
- 5 eggs (size 7)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 80g caster sugar
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Separate egg yolks and whites into 2 separate bowls.
- In a large bowl, place melted butter and milk together, whisk lightly.
- Add sifted flour, vanilla extract and egg yolks to the butter mixture. Mix well, ensuring there are no lumps.
- Using an electric whisk or stand mixer, whisk egg whites till foamy and add in cream of tartar. Continue whisking, then slowly rain in the sugar. Whisk until the whites form stiff peaks.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg whites into the flour batter to loosen up the mixture. Fold in 1/3 of the beaten whites into the batter, then the second third and then the last of the whites.
- Pour into lined cake tins, only filling 2/3s of the pan (it will rise quite a lot) and bake for 30 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack and keep in an air tight container.
As I nibbled and drank my way around the Auckland Food Show preview day, one thought hrough my head the entire time: what was I going to cook for dinner that night? I knew it would be something from the show and there were plenty of ideas and options: Venison burger, kumara hash brown, falafel wraps, pizzas, roast chicken and lamb medallions. What should I make? I wanted something warm and comforting, and easy to do with minimal stove time as I will need to pack away my purchases as well.
The idea came after I picked up some organic whole chickens from Bostocks Brothers and Good Chow first brew soy sauce – Hainanese Chicken Rice made in the Thermomix.
Bostock Brothers is based in Hawke’s Bay, and they are the only commercial organic chicken producer in the country. Their chickens live on their spacious apple orchard and you should go watch their videos – I call them the “happy chickens”- with ample roaming range. Bostock Brothers’ process also doesn’t involve any chemicals, antibiotics, hormones nor genetic modification. We think their chickens taste superior. #notanad #justliketheproduct
I also used Simon Gaults’ chicken stock and managed to cook the chicken, rice and soup together, without needing to supervise the cooking much.
It is almost as easy without using the Thermomix. Just poach the chicken in a gentle simmer for 60 minutes in a large pot of chicken stock along with all the ingredients, and cook the rice in a large saucepan separately.
Serve with hot soup, fragrant rice and a touch of coriander.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
- 1 whole chicken, about 1.5kg
- 2 tsp Chinese wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 spring onion
- 8 large slices of ginger
- 2 shallots, peeled
- 1 tbsp neutral oil, rice bran or grapeseed
- 400g jasmine rice
- Salt to taste
- 1-1.5 L chicken or vegetable stock
- 1-2 pandan leaves (optional)
- Mix Chinese wine, salt, pepper and sesame oil in a small bowl. Rub this all over the chicken and inside cavity. Stuff 2 cloves of the garlic, 2 of the spring onions and 3 slices of the ginger inside the chicken’s cavity and place into the Varoma dish lined with 3 slices of the ginger and 2 spring onions to help with flavour and steam circulation. Set aside.
- Place remaining garlic, ginger, shallots and neutral oil into mixing bowl (chop on speed 8 for 8 seconds if you haven’t pre-chopped everything) and sauté for 2 min/Varoma/Reverse/speed 2.
- Add rice and sauté for 2 min/100ºC/Reverse/speed 2.
- Add about a tsp of salt or to taste. Remove from mixing bowl and set aside in the steaming basket.
- Place 1L of chicken or vegetable stock into the mixing bowl. Set Varoma into position and steam for 45 min/Varoma/speed 3 (longer if your chicken is larger than 1.5kg).
- Remove Varoma and set aside. Top up chicken stock to 1L. Insert basket of rice with pandan leaves. Return Varoma dish with chicken to position and cook for a further 15 min/Varoma/speed 3.
- Once done, carefully lift chicken out and deconstruct on a large plate. Serve with rice and chilli sauce, Good Chow soy sauce and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).
- Taste the soup, and add enough hot water to taste (as it will be concentrated). Ladle soup into bowls and serve.
- To make a quick sauce to pour over chopped chicken, mix 3 tsp Good Chow first brew soy sauce with 2 tbsp hot water, ½ tsp sesame oil and ¼ tsp sugar and mix well.
- You can add some vegetables to steam in the last 5-10 minutes of the steaming, if desired.