Saturday, June 9, 2007

Warm up Winter

It’s that time of the year again when I crave for casseroles with thick luscious gravies, steamy hot soups, flaming curries and everything that requires the assistance of my deep fat fryer. Winter has slowly but surely set in on us. If you are like me, this is also the time when you get the odd pimple or two, a sore throat, a runny nose as well as a stuffed one, a tension headache and glistening eyes. Why is it that our immune systems fail us at this time of the year?

The answer is quite simple, really. If you believe in the Chinese theory of Yin and Yang, you would understand that our bodies are designed in such a way that it requires a balance in order for us to be in optimal health. In winter when we overload our systems with ‘comfort foods’ such as those that I’ve mentioned, we ‘over-heat’ our bodies so to speak. The untimely pimple and all the other symptoms are our bodies’ way of screaming out its need for ‘coolants’.

What are these ‘coolants’ you may ask. Here in the Rode-Chong household, we come to the rescue with remedies such as ‘Five Flower Tea’, Chrysanthemum Tea, Barley water, Dried Sugar cane water, Grass Jelly water.. The list is endless. If all this seems foreign to you and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, don’t fret. It’s not Rocket Science. If you do so feel inclined, get to your local Chinese Gourmet store and ask for any of the items I’ve mentioned, say, “ I would like to make.. (Fill in the blanks) could you please point me to the item?” Then get a packet of rock sugar or sugared winter melon strips and you’re good to go. These remedies do come in the form of ‘instant’ sachets but if you choose to go along this path, I am sorry, but you are on your own. JUST KIDDING! But really, you just can’t be sure how much of the real thing there is in those sachets.

All you do now, is rinse the dried herbs (unless you chose to buy a can of grass Jelly, you would cut the jelly into tiny cubes, then add to your pot of boiling water and rock sugar or winter melon strips) under cold running water, then put into a pot and fill with water and rock sugar or winter melon strips. Bring to the boil and simmer. It is as simple as that. Please feel free to email me if you are unsure about anything or everything.

If you simply cannot be bothered (I can think of at least one person here, you know who you are! HA! HA!) to do this, just remember to flush your system with plenty of water. I truly believe that Water is the Elixir of Good Health. Now with this said I feel less guilty in presenting today’s recipe of a ‘Malted Chocolate Pudding’ with melted chocolate and almonds to you. This indulgent winter warmer is adapted from the August 2003 issue of Delicious. The original recipe calls for a mars bar custard and chopped walnuts to be served with the pudding, but I personally prefer melted Valhrona Manjari and sliced almonds.

Serves 4-6

125g salted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
125g plain flour
50g malted milk powder
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 tbsp cold milk
1 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Valhrona)
150g milk or dark couverture chocolate (I used Valhrona Manjari)
30g sliced almonds, lightly toasted, to garnish

Grease a 1-litre pudding basin. Place butter and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift in flour, malted milk powder and baking powder. Add enough milk for a dropping consistency.

Place half the mixture in a separate bowl and sift in cocoa. Place alternating spoonfuls of each mixture in the pudding basin, then use a wooden skewer to gently swirl together. Cover the lid with foil and tie with a piece of kitchen string. Place an upturned plate in the base of a large saucepan and stand the pudding on top.

Pour boiling water into the saucepan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding basin. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and steam for 2 hours. Just before serving, melt the chocolate. Turn out the pudding and serve with the melted chocolate and garnish with the toasted almonds.