Monday, 19 November 2012

S.T: Perfect Sunday Brunch: Chocolate Chunk Scones and Homemade Blueberry Jam

Lazy Sundays are something I look forward to every week. I love getting up early in the morning just to take it slow. It starts with a drowsy dawdle into kitchen, poking around the fridge, cupboards and drawers until I get inspired to either hit the egg beaters or leave something out to defrost for later.

This weekend, I had the Gorilla's Dad staying with us and as a treat, I decided to make something oh-so-English and downright scrumptious. So, my usual Sunday morning dawdle led me to make:

Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Scones with Homemade Blueberry Jam, served with a pat of Lurpak spread.

I love scones, they are the epitome of indulgent brunches and high teas. I love the fluffy yet crumbly, dense texture and how well they go with clotted cream and jam. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the best dairy  and making my own is a bit of a stretch. I settled for spicing things up with bittersweet chocolate and homemade jam. 

Both the scones and jam are super easy to make, the jam especially. With the import tax being ridiculously high here, it makes a lot more sense to make my own jam. Plus, I know how its going to taste before opening the jar and I have full control over how tart, how sweet and how pulpy my jam is going to be. 

Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Scones

(Adapted from Good Housekeeping Chocolate Collection)
Makes 8 Large Triagular Scones

  • 75g unsalted good quality butter,diced
  • 225g self raising flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 150g good quality *Bittersweet Chocolate
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 6 tbsp of milk

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees C ( 180 fan forced). Line your baking tray with non-stick baking paper. 
    Sift baking powder and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar. Rub in the diced butter until mixture 
    resembles fine breadcrumbs. Set aside.

2) Roughly chop up chocolate into chunks and fold into the butter and flour mixture. Combine the beaten egg and milk together. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour the egg mixture in. 

3) Stir lightly with a round-ended knife until the mixture just comes together into a soft dough, adding a splash more milk if it looks too dry.

4) Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and press into a rectangular shape about 1inch thick.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the dough into triangles. If you have a proper scone cutter, shape dough into a circle and stamp out circles with your cutter. Place the cut dough onto prepared sheet and bake for 10-15 min until risen and golden. Cool on the wire rack.

* You can use any kind of baking chocolate, from dark to milk or white, whatever catches your fancy.
-If your oven is very hot, you can change the temperature to 160 degrees (fan forced) and bake for 20-30 mins. It prevents over browning and maintains a light texture. 

Homemade Blueberry Jam

Serves 4

  • 125g fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon


1) Rinse the blueberries and remove any that spoilt. Place blueberries, lemon juice and sugar into a deep

2) Place the saucepan over medium high heat and stir constantly. Using a masher, gently mush the the blueberries a little to create a slight pulp. The blueberries will start to liquefy and keep stirring and bring mixture to a boil.

3) Once the mixture has reached boiling point, turn the heat down and simmer till most of the liquid has evaporated and mixture thickens. Pour the mixture into a serving bowl. Set aside to cool. Mixture will continue to thicken.

-The blueberries might squirt so do be careful, a deep saucepan can save you from a nasty scald.
-It takes awhile for the mixture to thicken, so do be patient and don't panic.
-You can easily triple the recipe and add a little salt as a preservative. Jam can be stored in canning jars and refrigerated up to 2 weeks. 
-If you like a less mushy jam and enjoy having full blueberries in your jam, skip mushing the blueberries and let them naturally reduce. 
- I don't like my jams too sweet so this is the perfect level of sweetness for me. Taste the fruit before deciding how much sugar you would like to add. 

S.T: The perfect get away: Moganshan

Hello hello,

One of the perks of living in China is China's Golden Weeks (we have three in total) and during a golden week, everyone gets a whole week off from work (7 days to be precise).

So, for this holiday (1-7 October), the Gorilla and I decided to escape the smoggy bustling city of Shanghai and set off to explore the mountains in Hangzhou, Moganshan. (莫干山)

View of a bridge at sword pond lake. 

We spent 3 days and 2 nights there and we returned with aching thighs and smiles on our faces. First discovered as a holiday destination by the Europeans who dotted the landscape with Victorian style houses, Moganshan is currently the quick weekend getaway for the residents of Shanghai. It is perfect for those who want to escape the city and be surrounded by the unspoiled beauty of nature. Here are some of the views we  took it.

                           (The Gorilla had to scale the rocks to get this shot. My fear of heights overwhelmed me and I couldn't join him on this climb.)

I definitely recommend going to Moganshan if you want to spend your days just wandering aimlessly and taking in the sights. 

Getting there: 
By train: 
If you are coming from Shanghai, its a 45 min train ride on the bullet train from Shanghai HongQiao Station to Hangzhou. Once at the train station, you can take a taxi that will drive you to Moganshan ( about 1.5hr ride if there is no traffic) or alternatively, you can ask the place you are staying at to arrange for a driver to pick you up at the station( which is what I did). 
By Bus: 
There is a public bus for you to take from either Shanghai or in Hangzhou itself. I honestly cannot vouch for this option but some do. I would suggest to check out trip advisor or google it thoroughly before going as schedules and numbers change frequently.

Places to stay:
We stayed at the Moganshan House 23 ( a villa that has 6 bedrooms, you can choose to rent one). Its beautiful and pricey. The staff is friendly and wonderfully tucked away.
Another place to check out ( for a more hostel feeling), check out Bamboo Guest House. Its on the other side of the mountain and its more for cycling and hiking).

Things to eat:
-The produce on Moganshan is fresh, organic and delicious. If you aren't fussed about hygiene( its China, come on), try eating at the local restaurants. 农家菜(Nong Jia Cai) is the cuisine of Moganshan and its delicious.
Fresh Bamboo Shoots with Broad Beans and Carrots

Deep Fried Potato Patties

Sweet and Sour Pork

Strange Beer that tastes like water and makes you wanna pee alot.
Note: All locally produced beer ( Moganshan Beer esp) is exceptionally light and makes you wanna pee. Not much taste.

The restaurant we ate at was on the roof of this building.

Another place to eat with cuisine closer to home ( think pastas, sandwiches and freshly baked cookies and cakes) is Moganshan Lodge. I didn't take any pictures but they made killer GIANT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! hehe. 

So do visit Moganshan, its really beautiful. A great resource is C-trip, its a go-to site if you intend to go to China.