Saturday, 30 June 2012

Lemon Courgette Cake

If the idea of using any vegetable other than carrots in desserts is alien to you, trust me: this fresh and summery lemon courgette cake is the best excuse to start, and no one (not even picky children) would ever guess unless you told them. Light and zesty, the recipe below produces a moist sponge that is delicious on its own but can be coated with a crunchy lemon sugar crust or cream cheese frosting if desired. I have provided the recipes for both down below.

To top it all off, it's also dead easy. Step 1: Stir everything and bake. Step 2: Surprise everyone!

Lemon Courgette Cake
Makes one 12 x 9 inch rectangular pan

Stir all together in a large bowl until just combined:
1 large (approx 400g) courgette/zucchini, grated
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Handful of sultanas
1 3/4 cup (225g) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
A dash of ground cinnamon and nutmeg (or mixed spice)
Optional: A handful of chopped nuts

Line a 12 x 9 rectangular pan with greaseproof paper. Pour batter in and spread evenly. Bake 30 mins at 160C fan assisted (180 C without).

If coating with sugar crust, immediately pour topping over when cake is still hot. If using cream cheese frosting, let cool completely before coating.

Above: with the lemon cream cheese frosting
  • Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
*It is crucial that your cheese and butter (the butter especially!) is at room temperature so that your frosting isn't lumpy. If you forget to take them out of the fridge in advance to soften, just zap for 5-10 seconds in the microwave before beating.

Beat together with an electric mixer until creamy:
100g icing sugar
200g cream cheese, softened to room temperature
50g butter, softened to room temperature
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Lift the cake out of the pan onto a large chopping board or flat surface, and peel the greaseproof paper off the sides of the cake (leave the bottom). Spread the frosting over the cooled cake evenly with a spatula. Slice into squares and eat!

To store, keep refrigerated.

  • Crunchy Lemon Sugar Crust
Stir together in a small bowl:
1/2 cup (100g) granulated or caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Pour and spread evenly over the cake immediately once it is out of the oven (so the juice soaks through and the sugar stays on top). Leave in the pan until completely cold, then slide out quickly onto a large chopping board or flat surface. Slice into squares.

Store at room temperature.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Catering for the London Film School project "The Waiting Room"

SAM TAN'S KITCHEN HAS MOVED! Please visit the new website/online store at for all catering enquiries. You can also follow Sam on InstagramFacebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Since I first posted about cooking for low-budget films and the importance of feeding your cast and crew well here, I have received numerous requests by budding producers both in NYC and London asking if I could feed their teams at an affordable rate. Unfortunately I have often been unable to fulfil these requests, either because I am busy with class or because I happen to be in the wrong country at the wrong time!

Last week however, the timing worked out so that I was able to cater for four days on "The Waiting Room", a short film project by students at the London Film School. I thought I would share some pictures of the basic hearty lunch plus dessert I provided them throughout the shoot.

Thank you to producer Tara Verma for getting in touch and to the fun and appreciative crew- it's always nice to cook for nice people! :)

Day 1: Beef ragu lasagne (plus vegetarian version) and dressed salad.
Dessert: Carrot banana cake with cream cheese frosting
A HUGE hit this was- I guess low-budget films rarely provide good desserts!

Day 2: Malaysian Nasi Goreng (fried rice) for the mains...

 ... and sticky apple cake for dessert. With a teeny tiny hint of booze. 
Possibly why it got even more 'oohs' and 'aahs' than yesterday's carrot cake :)

Day 3: Sausage and butter bean casserole with garlic and herb bread. 
Mushroom and chunky vegetable version for the non meat-eaters. Warming comfort food for a chilly day.
Dessert: Crunchy top lemon cake.

And last but not least...

Day 4: Olive oil pasta with sausage, bacon and mushroom

Dessert: Chunky chocolate brownies- finally one of the chocoholics!

What you get when you ask hungry eaters to "look candid" while stuffing their face.

Lead actor Edward Hayes-Neary, caught eating more than his share of brownies by producer Christine!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Sam Tan's Kitchen is Back in London For Summer!

Hello London foodies!

Hope you are all having a terrific summer! :)

Just a quick note to let you know I am back in town for a few months to perform at the Olympics closing ceremony, and in between rehearsals I will be taking orders for select items until the end of August 2012. So if you have any cravings that need fulfilling, please click on the TO ORDER tabs on the right and get in touch :)

Prices (for most items) have been updated to GBP- for all enquiries please email me at

Until then, happy eating!

Sam @ Sam Tan's Kitchen

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fruit Jam Bars

Sometimes the simplest things in life are also the tastiest- I had to bake something in a hurry for my friend Kristen's party yesterday, and these delectable little morsels fit the bill perfectly as they called for the exact ingredients I had left in my cupboards and took almost no time to whip up.

Consisting of nothing more than your favourite fruit jam/preserve sandwiched between two layers of sweet buttery pastry, this particular batch proudly employs some homemade grape jam I successfully experimented with a few months back (only because I had a bunch of withering grapes, a ton of sugar and lemon juice to use up). Making the fruit filling from scratch is NOT a requirement for these bars though- feel free to throw on whatever store-bought preserve (or jelly as they call it in the US) you desire.

Assemble the layers, pop into the oven and prepare to be intoxicated as the heady aroma of butter and sugar baking wafts through your living room... :)

Fruit Jam Bars
Makes about 40 bitesize pieces

Cream together with an electric mixer until fluffy:
2 sticks (225g) butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup (200g) caster sugar

Beat in 2 egg yolks, one at a time.

Fold in to form a soft pliable dough:
 2 cups (250g) plain flour
1 cup rolled oats (optional- I added this for a bit more fibre and bite)

Line a 9" square pan with greaseproof paper and press 1/2 of the dough evenly to cover the base. Spread 1 cup of fruit jam/ marmalade/ jelly/ preserve of your choice evenly over the top of it. Break the remaining dough into rough pieces and press down in a scattered pattern onto the top of the jam gently. You should cover most of the surface but have little swirls and rivers of jam visible.

Bake at 325° F/160C for 45 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool in the pan, then slice with a sharp knife.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Spring Potato Salad with Crispy Bacon

Being an acting student with very little money means you often need to cook using whatever you happen to have left in your cupboards- lucky for me, today that meant a jar of mayonnaise, eggs, potatoes, some green scallions that had sprung from some old onions and a few strips of bacon I had frozen months ago. 

There really isn't any science to potato salads- the recipe below is simply what tastes good to me. Feel free to add or subtract anything you see fit.

Spring Potato Salad with Crispy Bacon
Serves 4-6 as a side, or as packed lunch for a few days :)

4 medium potatoes- wash thoroughly and peel if desired (I personally like to keep the skin, so I make sure to scrub them extra clean). Cut them into chunks and cook in boiling water for about 10 mins until tender (test with a fork- it should slide in easily). Don't overcook your potatoes or they'll disintegrate into mush! Drain and let cool.

4 large eggs- place in a pot of water and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10-15 mins. Drain, and cover in cold tap water to cool. Peel, then mash roughly with a fork.

4 strips streaky bacon- fry without oil over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels, let cool and crumble up.

2-3 sprigs of spring onions- chop finely.

Dump all the prepared ingredients above into a large bowl and add 4 tbsp mayonnaise and season generously with salt and black pepper. Stir it all up until combined- add more mayo or seasoning if necessary.

Refrigerate before serving.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

White Chocolate and Almond Fudge

A lot of fuss surrounds the making of good non-grainy fudge, but I've learnt that as long as you adhere to a few guidelines it really isn't hard to produce a smooth and creamy result that can be adapted endlessly into different flavours. Fudge is essentially milk and butter cooked with a TRUCKLOAD of sugar- once you've perfected this blueprint you have free reign to add any variety of chocolate, nuts, dried fruit and flavourings you see fit.

So what are these basic rules? It's simple:
Rule 1: Make sure your sugar is completely dissolved- large crystals mean a yucky sand-like texture.
Rule 2: Know WHEN TO STIR and when NOT TO STIR.
Rule 3: Follow the timings- a clock/watch is useful.
Rule 4: DON'T SKIP the soft-ball stage test- you do not need a candy thermometer (I don't own one), just a glass of ice water.

The following recipe provides detailed step-by-step instructions that I experimented with a couple of years back until I was happy; carry them out exactly and you should be well on your way to candyland.

White Chocolate and Almond Fudge
Makes one 10" x 8" tray

Combine the following in a heavy pot and stir very gently over low heat for about 15 mins (the longer the better) until sugar is completely dissolved: 

350g sugar
175ml evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk)
25g (slight less than 2 tbsp) butter

In the meantime, while the syrup is heating:
1) Chop up 300g white chocolate and a large handful of toasted almonds.
2) Line a 10" x 8" pan with greaseproof baking paper.
3) Get some ice-cold water ready on standby (I place a few small glasses of cold tap water in the freezer)

Increase heat to medium and bring the milky syrup to a moderate boil. DO NOT STIR. Let it boil for about 10-15 mins undisturbed until it reaches soft-ball stage. 

Soft-ball test: Drop a tiny amount of the syrup into one of your prepared glasses of ice water- it should form a soft ball that you can roll between your fingers. If it dissipates immediately or forms a mass at the bottom of the glass, it isn't ready and you should continue letting it boil. Test again after a few minutes with a new glass of ice water. Make sure to use fresh ice water for each test.

Once it's at soft-ball stage, remove from heat and let cool for 10 minsDO NOT STIR during this time.

Add in the chopped chocolate, chopped nuts and 1 tsp vanilla extract. STIR SLOWLY until the chocolate completely dissolves- the mixture should start to stiffen immediately, and is ready to be poured into tin when it completely loses its gloss, turns thick and makes a squelchy snapping noise when you stir.

Pour quickly into the lined pan and smoothen the top. Allow to cool completely until set, then cut into bitesize pieces. 

Voila- your very own batch of smooth, creamy, luxurious homemade fudge!:)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

TO ORDER: Malaysian Goodies/Catering

SAM TAN'S KITCHEN HAS MOVED! Please visit the new website/online store at, and follow Sam on TwitterInstagram and Facebook. Thank you!

For Malaysians craving the taste of home, or non-Malaysians curious to explore some of our classic dishes. Drop me a line at with any enquiries- even if something is not listed below, I always try to accommodate special requests. Selamat makan!

Spiral Curry Puffs (Epok-Epok/Karipap Pusing)- $2.50 each (min order 6 pcs), $70 for a batch of 30
Spicy curried potatoes encased in a flaky homemade spiral pastry, then
deep-fried until golden and crunchy. Extremely addictive.

Malaysian Pandan Chiffon Cake- $15 per cake (8 1/2")
A top Malaysian favourite! A fluffy and light yet moist sponge, delicately fragranced with pandan and coconut cream

Homemade Kaya (Malaysian Coconut Egg Jam)- $10 per 16oz tub
A rich and luxurious blend of coconut cream, eggs, and sugar fragranced with the aroma of pandan, slowcooked until glossy. Perfect on toast with butter, or on waffles, crackers, pancakes, breadsticks, a spoon, your fingers...

Homemade Sambal Ikan Bilis- $10 per 16 oz tub
The classic must-have sweet and spicy accompaniment to nasi lemak, home-ground from fresh spices and ingredients. Also great for stir frying your favourite meat or vegetables.

Kuih Ketayap/Dadar/Gulung (Malaysian Pandan Crepes with Coconut)- $12 for 6pcs
Sticky caramelised coconut filling, bundled up in soft pale green pandan pancakes

Kuih Kodok/Jemput-Jemput Pisang- $7.50 per 10 pcs
Malaysian mashed banana fritters. Soft and moist on the inside with a crisp golden brown exterior

For events and private parties, or when you just crave a whole lot of Malaysian food for no particular reason. Please email me at to discuss :)

Nasi Lemak
Generally considered our most beloved national dish! Fragrant coconut rice complete with trimmings: crispy ikan bilis (anchovies), roasted nuts, homemade killer sambal paste, cucumber slices and hard boiled eggs. Perfect with any of the three meats listed below (pictured with Ayam Goreng Berempah)

Ayam Goreng Berempah
Crunchy and aromatic crispy fried chicken like you've never tasted! Marinated in a homemade paste of 12 spices.

Beef Rendang
A rich and flavourful dry coconut stew with melt-in-the-mouth chunks of beef, slowcooked for hours in coconut cream and a blend of lemongrass, tamarind, galangal and other fresh spices until tender

Kari Ayam
A robust Malaysian chicken curry with potatoes, cooked in a rich coconut cream gravy. Especially perfect with roti jala (listed below) or nasi lemak above.

Nyonya Acar Awak
A traditional refreshing Malaysian pickle bursting with colours, textures and lip-smacking blend of sweetness, tang, spice and saltiness that cuts through heavy curries and tastes great with rice. 

Hainanese Chicken Rice
My absolute favourite dish of all time! Succulent chicken delicately infused with ginger and spring onion, drizzled with soy and sesame oil then served with a richly fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth. Complete with ginger and garlic chilli sauce.

Char Kuay Teow

Another hawker favourite, with proper "wok hei". Smoky and punchy wok-fried flat rice noodles with shrimp, beansprouts, fishcake and egg.

Bihun Goreng
A light yet satisfying Malaysian classic: stir-fried rice vermicelli, with chicken, vegetables, beansprouts and egg. 

Mee Siam
Tangy and flavourful fried vermicelli with shrimp, beansprouts, tofu and egg. A Nyonya classic that is simultaneously sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

Wat Tan Hor/Kong Foo Chow
Cantonese style fried flat noodles with a warming egg gravy, topped with shrimp, fishcake, sliced meat and vegetables. Comfort food at its best!

Fresh Popiah
One of my mother's top foods from her hometown in Ipoh- delicious and healthy soft vegetable spring rolls, bursting with a huge mix of flavours from julienned vegetables to crispy shallots

Siew Yoke/Siobak
Crispy Chinese roast pork belly- the biggest hit in my household when I perfected the recipe! Moist and juicy with a golden crunchy crackling

Choy Sum (Chinese Flowering Cabbage) with Garlic Oil and Oyster Sauce
Simple, tasty and nutritious. Also available with pak choi or kailan

Roti Jala
Malaysian lacey coconut and turmeric crepes. Soft and savoury, perfect for mopping up a good curry gravy

Thosai/ Dosa
South Indian rice and lentil crepes

Sago Gula Melaka

Tapioca pearl pudding with palm sugar and coconut milk. A rich yet refreshing dessert, like a cold tropical fusion between sticky rice pudding, creme caramel and a bouncy jelly.

For the full Chinese New Year selection, please click here.

TO ORDER: Celebration Cakes and Other Baked Goods

SAM TAN'S KITCHEN HAS MOVED! Please visit the new website/online store at for all cake and baked goods enquiries. You can also follow Sam on InstagramFacebook and Twitter. Thank you!
To order bespoke cakes for birthdays, special occasions, or just because you feel like stuffing your face, please email me at or drop me a comment here in case it goes to Spam.

In general 2 days notice is enough- delivery/collection in Los Angeles can be discussed. All cakes come on a proper gold cake board in a white box, and anything else e.g. candles/ writing in icing etc can also be arranged.

Funfetti Cake- $50 per cake (8")
An American classic made from scratch! A two-layer moist sponge with rainbow sprinkles baked in, filled and coated with vanilla buttercream

Rose Bouquet Cake- $50 per cake (8")
Perfect as a romantic Valentine's Day or simple wedding cake.
Fully customisable- choose your own combination of cake and frosting from the list below :)
Sponge options: Dark Chocolate, Red Velvet, Lemon or All Butter
Frosting options: Buttercream, Cream Cheese, or Chocolate Ganache

Fresh Fruit Cream Cake- $50 per 8" cake (fruit can be customised)
Double layer chiffon sponge sandwiched with fruit cocktail cream, topped with your choice of fresh fruit

Nutella Mousse Gateau- $50 per cake (8")
Two layers of hazelnut sponge with Nutella mousse in between, topped with dark chocolate ganache

Malteser Gateau- $50 per cake (8")
Two layers of dark chocolate malt sponge with a rich cocoa malt buttercream

Moist Carrot Banana Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
$40 per cake (8")

Blueberry Cheesecake- $35 per cake (7")

Ultra Rich Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake- $30 per cake (7")

Chilled Oreo Cheesecake- $30 per cake (7")

Victoria Sponge with Fresh Strawberries- $30 per cake
Light butter sponge with whipped cream, strawberry jam and sliced fresh strawberries

Baked New York Cheesecake- $25 per cake (7")

Orange Cheesecake - $25 per cake (7")

Golden Lemon Cheesecake- $25 per cake (7")

Malaysian Orange Chiffon Cake- $15 per cake (8 1/2")

Malaysian Pandan Chiffon Cake- $15 per cake (8 1/2")

Soft Chocolate Cream Cupcakes- $2.50 each, $25 per batch (12 cupcakes)

Crunchy Crumb Banana Muffins- $2.50 each, $25 per batch (12 muffins)

Savoury Cheddar and Herb Muffins- $2.50 each, $25 per batch (12 muffins)

Chunky Chocolate Brownies- THE single most in-demand item among friends! :)
Small box: $20 (25 bitesize pieces)
Large box: $30 (50 bitesize pieces)

Cheesecake Brownies- as above, but with cheesecake swirled in
Small box: $20 (25 bitesize pieces)
Large box: $30 (50 bitesize pieces)

Choc Chunk Peanut Butter Cookies- $20 per box (25 medium cookies)
So chocolatey a friend has described it as "juicy", loaded to the core with chunky bits

Handmade Oreo Chunk Cheese Truffles- $25 per silver gift box of 36
(Choice of white, milk, dark or mixed selection)

Mini Chocolate Meringues- $10 per box of 20 pieces

Mini Coconut Meringues- $10 per box of 20 pieces