Smell My Olive Pits

A blog dedicated to my love affair with all things food

Apple crumble April 25, 2009

Filed under: Dessert — smop @ 10:20 am

I have this perhaps slightly peculiar habit of having to use things up after a certain period of time — it annoys me a bit having random bits of everything sitting in the fridge.  It may not be a surprise then that I love having a fully stocked pantry.  Anyway, I had 1 apple and a knob of butter to use up, and coincidentally, I had been brewing an apple crumble craving all day.  Checking I had oats and sugar, I researched recipes online.  This was inspired by a number of different recipes seeing as I only had 1 apple and many used 4-5.  I have posted the recipe for 4 serves below, as I would dare to say that one would certainly not be enough!



Apple crumble



  • 4-5 apples, peeled and roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4-5 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • (optional) pecans / walnuts / sultanas – personal preference


  • 90g butter, cold and cut into 1.5 cm cubes
  • 1/2 cup of tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup self raising flour
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl.  Divide into ramekins leaving about 2cm at the top.
  3. In another bowl, rub the butter, brown sugar, self raising flour and oats together.  Divide evenly between ramekins.
  4. Pop ramekins onto a baking tray and place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden.  After taking them out, let them stand for about 5 minutes before serving.  Delicious served with ice-cream or custard.

Unfortunately I didn’t have icecream to serve it with, but on its own, it was equally divine.



Glazed lemon cakes April 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — smop @ 10:44 pm

I don’t know what it is about lemons and its use in sweet, and savoury things that makes me love it so much.  Perhaps its the tang that livens up the dish (and myself), or that by having two opposing flavours, makes each one stand out a bit more.  I had a couple of lemons donated to me from a kind person’s tree, and the possibilities of the things I could make were endless:  lemon tart (my favourite dessert of all time), a lemon drizzle cake, lemon muffins, lemon zest cookies … In the end, I settled on a lemon glaze cupcake.


Glazed lemon cakes
(kudos to Martha Stewart)


For the cakes

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated, plus juice, plus
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons more lemon juice for the glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 175oC.  Butter and flour a muffin tin or line them with cases.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon.  Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until light.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk mixture.
  4. Divide evenly among muffin cups.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes in tin, then cool completely on a rack.
  5. Set rack over wax or parchment paper.  In a small bowl, stir confectioners’ sugar with remaining lemon juice until smooth. Pour over cakes, spreading to edges with a small knife.  Let set 30 minutes.

I made them and took them to a morning tea and they were well received.  These are good.  They’re crumbly and they ooze of lemon deliciousness.



Yellow split pea ‘pudding’ (馬豆糕) April 19, 2009

Filed under: Chinese,Dessert — smop @ 8:47 am

Something inspired me while I was in HK to venture into making Chinese desserts.  Perhaps it was knowing that I wouldn’t have an oven for a good chunk of the year in the new place, or that it was simply because the recipes seemed simple, homely and tasty.  One of the things that used to make me less inclined to make tasty Asian things was partly because of the effort needed to actually get the things that were specified in the recipe as it would take a couple of visits to different Asian grocers to find the thing I want, and even if they did, the quality would be questionnable (I once saw packets of red beans with mould on them and they were still on the shelves!).

Anyway, with this new found inspiration, and a trusty Asian grocer, I gave another hand at making a popular Hong Kong dessert.  I came across this wandering the streets in HK and in their display cabinet, there were a variety of ‘slices’ for what equated to A$0.60 for 1.   They looked too good not to try, and afterwards, I was hooked on all things with that agar-agar / firm gelatinous texture.  This was the easiest to make, out of of all the ones I want to try, and I love it — it isn’t too sweet, I get a lot from not very much, and it lasts quite well in the fridge for over a week.


Yellow split pea ‘pudding’ (馬豆糕)


  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 3/4-1 cup caster sugar (personal preference)
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups water


  1. Rinse the yellow split peas until the water runs clear.  Place them in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil.  Make sure you watch it at this stage as it can boil over really quickly!  Lower the heat so that its inbetween simmering and boiling and wont’ boil over.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.  Pop on the lid, remove from heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.   Drain and set aside.
  2. Mix the cornstarch with 1 cup of water — it feels like it’ll never dissolve at the start, but keep going and it’ll dissolve.  Set aside.
  3. Put the remaining 3 cups of the water into a saucepan and add the sugar.  Bring to the boil.   Add the coconut milk and evaporated milk.  Bring to the boil again.  Add the cornflour mixture and stir vigourously.  The mixture will thicken up considerably at this stage, so it’s important to keep stirring.  Do so for about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat and add the drained yellow split peas.  Stir for another minute.
  5. Pour the mixture into a dish or moulds, and place into the fridge for 4-5 hours until set.

Makes a 9 inch quiche dish but fit it into whatever mould you have.


One bowl chocolate chip cookies April 15, 2009

Filed under: Chocolate,Cookies — smop @ 7:47 am

While every chocolate chip recipe that I come across, it is always prefaced with ‘perfect‘, or ‘the best‘, regardless whether it’s the Toll House , the NY Times, The Neiman Marcus, The Martha Stewart, David Lebowitz’s, the ones on the back of packets of choc-chip pieces, America’s Test Kitchen, Alton Brown’s, and the list goes on.  It seems, therefore, that every chocolate chip recipe is the perfect one.  I can’t disagree, after all, everyone has their own preferences when it comes to their perfect choc-chip cookie.  I, for instance, like mine soft, chewy, not too flat nor too thick, without an overpowering sweetness, and with discernible chocolate chunks or chips in them.  I’ve tried many recipes from cookbooks, magazine cutouts, … and some of the aforementioned places.  Soon, when I can remember to make the cookie dough 36 hours before I want to bake, I might try the NY times cookie.

On my hunt to find my perfect chocolate-chip cookie, I came across this one.  I’ve made them twice already and both times I have made them (for other people), I have returned with an empty box.  So I guess it is also a (very) good chocolate-chip cookie.  It fits everything that I want as I have listed above — my only gripe with it is that it’s slightly a bit too sweet for my Asian tastebuds (but nothing that can’t be solved).  What’s more, there’s only one bowl (and a wooden spoon) to wash afterwards.  I don’t know whether it can get any better than this.


A one-bowl chocolate chip cookie


  • 12 (117g) tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups good quality chocolate chunks (I would suggest nothing more than 70% cocoa)


  1. Melt butter in a large mixing bowl.  Beat both sugars into melted butter.  Let the mixture cool to room temp and then beat in vanilla, egg and egg yolk.
  2. When mixture is well blended, beat in baking soda and salt making sure that the baking soda is evenly distributed.
  3. Add flour and stir just until it is mixed in. Add chocolate chips.
  4. Chill dough for 1 hour or until pretty firm.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment.
  6. Scoop up tablespoonfuls of dough and drop onto a lined baking tray or cookie sheets spacing them about 5cm apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies appear done and lightly browned around edges.
  7. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling

Makes 25-30 depending on how big the cookies are.


To get that chewy cookie, do not overbake!  I tend to leave mine a bit underbaked when I take them out of the oven and let them stand on the tray for a couple of minutes to finish off the cooking process.  It’s hard to say how long they should be in the oven for, it depends on the oven — in one oven, these were done in 10 minutes, in another it was 13.  My general rule of thumb is that they are ‘done’ when they get a bit golden brown on the outside.


Couscous salad with a bit of everything April 14, 2009

Filed under: Salad — smop @ 10:30 pm

Just before I head for a holiday, I try to clear the perishables in the fridge — it makes me feel better than if I were to throw it out.  In a way, it makes for a bit of spontaneous experimental cooking, though given I can probably spend a day just trying to think of the best way to combine everything so that it would be edible, it’s not all that spontaneous.  Anyway, this was what I came up with after realising that the olives, carrots, and spring onions that had been sitting in the fridge for a week didn’t look like they were going to last a few more days in the fridge.


Couscous salad with a bit of everything


Serves 1

  • 1/2 cup dry couscous (water + a bit of butter)
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Moroccan spice powder
  • 1 small tin of tuna (spring water or natural smoked), drained
  • 8-10 black olives, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • salt + pepper to taste


  1. To prepare the couscous, place the dry couscous in a heatproof bowl and to it add a small knob of butter, a grind of salt and 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Give it a quick stir, and cover for 2-3 minutes.  Uncover, and fluff up with a fork.   Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat, add the carrots and allow to cook for a minute or two.  Add the Moroccan spice powder, a few grinds of salt and pepper.  Cook for another minute.
  3. Add the tuna, olives and stir through until just warmed through.
  4. Add the couscous and spring onion.  Stir until everything is mixed through.  Serve warm or cold.

It actually ended up to be better than I had thought it would turn out — I suspect it could taste even better with a squeeze of lemon juice or a glug of good olive oil before serving and some fresh herbs.  All the possibilities!

Now for a bit of trivia … it was pointed out to me, the Moroccans don’t eat tuna or spring onions, so in spite of the couscous and Moroccan spices, it can’t be a Moroccan dish.  Nonetheless, if you’re not averse to the idea of pairing couscous with anything, it’s certainly something worth experimenting!


Sago sweet soup April 12, 2009

Filed under: Chinese,Dessert — smop @ 1:58 pm

Dear Smop,

It’s been a long time.  I’m sorry that we haven’t had a chance to see each other lately.  I’ve been away, I’ve been busy, I haven’t cooked properly for quite some time. I know that’s not a very good excuse.  I admit that I was trying to avoid you because you are sometimes a bit high maintenance – you know how to get my attention, and when you have it, you seize it, hold on to it, and don’t let go of it until you feel completed.  But nonetheless, I like you a lot.  And I’ve missed you.  I miss greeting you every morning, checking on you, seeing whether anyone else has showered some love onto you, and making sure that you haven’t been disturbed by unwanted visitors.

I hope you understand.

So my peace offering to you is something sweet.

This is one of the first desserts I learnt.  Its simple, quick and delicious hot or cold.  You can add sweet potato, mango, mung beans, taro or anything you want really

Please accept, and please forgive me.  I promise that I will try to visit you more often now, and load you with more goodies.

Yours always,



Sago tong shui


  • 100g sago
  • 150-175g rock sugar (personal preference)
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk


  1. Soak sago in boiling water for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  2. Drain the sago, then boil until it’s almost cooked, stirring occasionally.  While cooking, the sago will go from white to clear.  Take it off the heat when there’s only a small white dot in the sago, and drain while rinsing it under tap water – this will complete the cooking process and make the sago completely clear.   Set sago aside.
  3. Dissolve rock sugar in water, add the sago and stir until it boils.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in evaporated milk and coconut milk.  Serve hot or cold.

I sometimes add mung beans or yellow split peas to give it a bit more of a bite.  To do this, cook the beans or peas for about 15-20 minutes while the sago is soaking and then add it in Step (3).