Saturday, December 18, 2010

Coconut cake

By panipopos

I wish this dense, subtely-flavoured coconut cake was a real Samoan recipe. But it's not. Still, anything that uses leftover coconut milk, and is easy to make deserves to be in the "Samoan-inspired" file.

Coconut Cake
makes an 8 inch (20cm) square cake or 9 inch (22cm) round cake
2 eggs
cup (160g) coconut milk (divided)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon coconut essence (optional)
1¾ cup (200g) flour
1 cup (200g) sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (100g) butter, very soft but not melted

Line your baking tin with parchment/baking paper and preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Whisk the eggs, a third (50g) of the coconut milk, and the essences together.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into another bowl and mix together. Add the butter and the rest of the coconut milk.
With an electric beater, mix on the lowest setting until you can't see any more dry ingredients. Then turn your mixer on high and beat for 3 minutes. The mixture will be very thick, so scrape down occassionally with a spatula.

Take your egg mixture and add it in three parts to the flour mixture, beating on high for 1 minute after each addition.
After all the ingredients are added, your cake batter should be creamy and light, but thick.

Pour the batter into your lined cake tin.
Spread to fill the corners and smooth the surface with a spatula.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Dry crumbs on the skewer are fine. What you don't want is wet batter.

Leave the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning it out. Although the baked cake comes out pretty well-risen, it will shrink on cooling.

Peel off the paper and leave to cool.

Serve plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Paifala - Samoan half-moon pies (modern recipe)

By panipopos

A couple of months ago, I made paifala using a traditional recipe with coconut milk and cornstarch. Here are some delicious paifala from a fellow blogger, Lotus, at Whymsicallotus, that also used that recipe. When I made it, I noticed that quite some filling leaks out during baking, and the crust on that paifala is very much like Masi Samoa.

So this is Paifala II - with a shortcrust pastry, a custard filling and without coconut milk. It's flavour is not better or worse than the traditional recipe, just different. In terms of structure, however, this modern take on paifala has minimal leakage and the crust can hold even more filling than the traditional recipe.

Paifala (makes 5)
1 cup (240ml) milk
4 tablespoons custard powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups (500g) crushed pineapple, drained
½ cup (100g) sugar*
½ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

* If you have a sweet tooth, increase to 3/4 cup (150g) sugar.

Put the custard powder, milk, vanilla essence and sugar in a saucepan and mix until smooth. Put this over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens. Finally, turn the heat off and add your pineapple and nutmeg (if using). Mix until well-combined, then set aside to cool to room temperature.


3½ cups (400g) flour
4 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt
cup (70g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
4 tablespoons (60ml) milk
¾ cup (150g) butter, room temperature

Sift the flour and baking powder and salt into a bowl. Mix together. Then add the rest of the crust ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until everything just comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead together into a smooth ball. Try not to handle the dough too much because you don't want to melt the butter. Also, don't add too much flour, or you'll get a tough dough. If you find the dough is too sticky to handle, then refrigerate for half an hour, and try working with it again.

Assembling the paifala
Cut your dough into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into an 8” (20cm) circle. Put some of your cooled pineapple filling into the centre. Lightly wet the edges of the piecrust with water, and then fold one half of the pie over the other. Press the edges together with a fork. See the paifala video if you want visuals.

Pierce the top of the pie several times (steam vents) then bake at 350°F (180°C) for 25-30 minutes until light golden. Remove from the oven and cool. Be careful not to overbake these or the crust will be too crumbly.

My pie was stuffed till crammed with filling, but this is the only leak I had:

In the big picture, this leak was next to nothing.

Enjoy warm or cold, with a hot drink.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kale moa video

By panipopos

There are several ways you can adjust the kale moa recipe:
* As written in the last post, you can substitute up to half the liquid with coconut milk for a very rich kale.
* You can also substitute the water for chicken broth or vegetable broth.
* Season with worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.
* Add tomatoes or tomato paste - tomato is a very nice base for kale.
* Add turmeric with the curry powder for yellower curry.
* Add garam masala at the end of cooking for deeper flavour.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kale Moa - Samoan Chicken Curry

By panipopos

I had an email request for kale mamoe (lamb curry) but unfortunately, I can't get mamoe (lamb) here where I am. But since that email (all of five days ago), I've had kale (curry) on the brain.

One might ask, that with such a wide range of curries available the world over, what's so special about Samoan curry? Because it's not an overtly spicy dish, nor does it incorporate any unique Samoan ingredients. I mean, really, kale just wouldn't make the grade in a "Best International Curry" competition.

The truth is, kale is special because it's taste is so unspecial. That is, it's a mild dish, so no "Fire in the Hole!" warnings needed. It's non-intrusive, so it blends in well with other Samoan dishes, such as sapasui and fa'alifu. And it's undistinctive taste lends itself well to practically any meat or vege combo your heart desires.

Don't get me wrong. I think kale is absolutely delicious, but if you start telling people that's it's "curry" then they have these preconceived notions of what it should taste like. Spicy, piquant, exotic, aromatic, tangy...and Samoan kale is none of those things.

Think of it more like a light curry-flavoured sauce, a kind of mildly spiced gravy, or a masala-laced stew.