July 22, 2010

Storytelling

Sitting in front of my laptop, trying to start this post, I stared blankly at it for a while. I knew what I had planned to post, a recipe on my previous not so fantastic attempt at swiss roll with cream and fresh fruits but I simply hate to start the post with "I had my fridge and after some research, decided to make ". It had turned out to be so predictable!

I needed a story. A story as cliche as Sumiko Tan getting hitched and married. A story that will put Mr Brown and his Yazuka Baby to shame. A story that will throw me into the new career in perhaps *gasp* column writing.

Alas, I am not there yet. So this post will have to be about the going to be rotten strawberries and mangoes in my fridge. And after some research, I decided that it was too late in the evening and I could do with a simple Swiss Roll with Strawberries and Mangoes from Pook's blog.

As mentioned, this was quite a failed attempt. I was too lazy to roll the cake first and let it cool before un-rolling it, fill it with cream and fruits and re-roll it again. So I just did the shortcut method i.e. once the cake is out of the oven, spread it with cream and fruits then roll.

It was a bad bad choice. I did not want the cake to cool first as that will make the rolling difficult later but the cream melted once it touched the warm cake surface. Coupled with the fact that I had way too much fruit leftovers, I filled the entire cake with thick chunks of fruits. Naturally, rolling was difficult and all my melted cream got squashed out of the cake as I roll it, together with the fruits.

Being the quick witted damsel in distress, I quickly cling wrapped it, scooped up all the cream and fruits and squeezed them back into whatever openings I can find in the cake and dump the end product in the fridge.

Few hours later, as with all food blog posts go, the cake was ugly but absolutely delicious. I was comforted only after I saw more similar swiss roll pics with rolls much uglier than mine. (I dare not put any references here for fear of the need to moderate comments from now on).

There, I realized I have been sucked into the typical Singapore style food blog posting of this century. I promise I will learn to write better.... when I managed to write better in future.... with a story.


Swiss Roll with Strawberries and Mangoes


Ingredients  
(I used only 2/3 of the ingredients. I'm a 2-egg baker)

Sponge cake:
3 eggs separated
70g sugar
40g cake flour (I used plain flour)
25g unsalted butter, melted


Filling:
200ml whipping cream
20g sugar
Cut fruits of your choice




Method 

Sponge cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Line baking tray with baking paper
  3. Beat egg whites. Add sugar gradually and beat till stiff peaks are reached
  4. Add egg yolk to the whites and beat at low speed for about 1 minute
  5. Sift flour into the beaten eggs and fold gently
  6. Pour in the melted butter and fold gently
  7. Pour into the lined baking tray and bake 9-10minutes or till the sponge cake shines with a nice light golden color.
  8. When the cake is out of the oven, turn it over onto a damp cloth. Peel off the baking paper and do a quick roll of the cake with the cloth. Cool on a rack.

Filling and assembly:
  1. Whip the cream with sugar till soft peaks are reached.
  2. Un-roll the cake and spread the whipped cream on the cake. Lined cut fruits on top of the cream.
  3. Re-roll the cake. Done.

July 21, 2010

Mango Yogurt Ice Cream

I had a big imported mango that Hubby bought from NTUC Finest at an exorbitant price. What made it worse was that it did not ripe evenly and only one side was ripe while the other parts were still "green". Hubby took one slice and decided that this mango is not sweet and therefore doomed for the thrash bin.

Coming from a background where things should not go to waste especially food, I salvaged the mango in time and kept it in the fridge for my mango experiments.

One of it was this - Mango Yogurt Ice Cream. No raw eggs required and no ice cream maker necessary.

I halved the recipe and managed to fill a nice Island Creamery tub with that portion. Leaving some mango cubes in there for the extra oomph factor. I did not have mango flavored yogurt but made do with the plain one in my fridge and omitted mango essence. It worked well. Will definitely try this recipe with other leftover fruits or if I am up to experimenting - teh tarik, coffee or some homemade caramel next time.



Mango Yogurt Ice Cream
(Makes 1 litre)

Ingredients
300g fresh mangoes
100g sugar
100g plain yogurt
200g whipping cream

Method
  1. Blend mangoes and sugar till it becomes a puree
  2. Mix yogurt with puree
  3. Whisk whipping cream till stiff 
  4. Fold mango mixture to whipped cream
  5. Pour into a container and freeze it overnight till firm. (I suggest freezing it till the sides are firm and center is still soft. Then whisk it to incorporate more air. Then redo this again for 2 more times before freezing till firm to have a more creamy effect)

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July 17, 2010

Mango & Coffee Panna Cotta

On a visit to Bistro One Zero Three, I fell in love with this unassuming dessert - coffee panna cotta. Since then, I decided that this will be in my to-do list.

One fine day, plowing through this recipe book "花样食尚:小小米桶的60道贴心创意美食" that I bought long time ago while I was in Shanghai, I found a recipe for Mango Panna Cotta. I wonder why I did not realized it was Panna Cotta all along. Maybe I was fooled by it's Chinese name "芒果鲜奶酪 which literally translates to Mango Fresh Cream Curd.

Now I just have to find the coffee layer on the top to obtain the same thing that I had at Bistro One Zero Three and I found it in Chubby Hubby's Espress Gelee. After careful assembly, I'm done!... though not as pretty as I'd like them to be.

I should have used another milk instead of the Marigold HL milk that I have in the fridge as the strong artificial vanilla taste of the milk kind of turn me off slightly. Also I think there's more water content in the milk than fats which explains why there's a thin layer of "water" at the bottom of the panna cottas.

Nevertheless, they were really good, both the mango and coffee versions but especially the coffee one.
Panna Cotta
Makes 6 small glasses
(Adapted recipe)

Ingredients
300ml milk
500ml fresh cream (I used whipping cream)
80g sugar
1.5 tbsp gelatin powder

Optional : mango puree and some mango cubes

Method
  1. Pour milk, fresh cream and sugar into a saucepan. Stir well to try dissolve some of the sugar.
  2. Sprinkle gelatin powder evenly into the saucepan. Rest for 5minutes
  3. Over low fire, heat the mixture slightly, stirring to dissolve the sugar and gelatin powder. Off the fire, when the milk mixture feels hot when touched but not scalding. Do not bring the milk mixture to boil or else the gelatin will lose it's coagulation purpose.
  4. Pour the milk mixture into glasses and chill to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  5. Optional: for mango panna cotta, just puree some mangoes and put them on top of the chilled panna cotta when ready. Do cut some mango cubes and place them on the puree for decoration.


Espresso Gelee
(Adapted version)


Ingredients

1 cup espresso (cold filtered)
1 teaspoon flavourless powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons sugar

Method
  1. Place espresso and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir to dissolve some of the sugar.
  2. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over it. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes, until the gelatin softens.
  3. Over a low fire, heat the espresso mixture and stir until all the sugar and gelatin powder are dissolved. Do not let the mixture come to a simmer. 
  4. Strain through a fine sieve. Let the espresso mixture cool to room temperature.
  5. Gently pour it over each portion of panna cotta. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

July 16, 2010

Maple Syrup Souffle

I have been baking souffle without much success. I tried one recipe for Chocolate Souffle to death and it still failed me. After another search for chocolate souffle recipes and tips, I tried again and again, it just doesn't work. Once they were out of the oven, IMMEDIATELY, they collapsed right back into the ramekins. Taste wise, they were not as moist as I would like them to be.

Probably it's my souffle making skills and while searching again for the simplest souffle recipe e.g. vanilla souffle whereby I don't have to keep wasting my precious chocolates and cocoa powder, I stumbled upon this ultimately simple 2 ingredient souffle - just maple syrup and egg. No kidding!

Frankly, I was a bit skeptical. But then again, I have nothing to lose and I can keep trying till I get it since I have a bottle of maple syrup in the fridge that doesn't seemed to see the light of day. I am sure it is pleased that finally it gets to come out of the fridge once in a while.
The result? Fantastic! It was simple and really easy to make. I managed to churn it out in just 15mins flat - 5mins for combining the ingredients and 10mins for baking in the oven. It was fluffy and did not collapse on me till at least 5mins later, which is a ok time for a souffle. Even when it slightly collapse, it still maintained its tall standing state for quite a while. It was moist and not too sweet with a strong hint of eggs. Maybe I should have used my beater to combine the egg yolk and maple syrup as the souffle was kind of dense at the bottom.
Nevertheless, it is definitely a good recipe to try if you are starting out on souffle making. Now... I will start customizing and see if I can get a chocolate souffle with equal standing... literally.

Maple Syrup Souffle
Makes 2 3.5" ramekins

Ingredients
1 egg, separated
2.5 tbsp maple syrup

Method
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolk and maple syrup till creamy.
  3. Beat egg white till stiff peaks form.
  4. Fold maple syrup mixture into the whipped egg white.
  5. Pour into ramekins and put them in the oven to bake
  6. Once the ramekins are in, immediately turn temperature to 190 degrees Celsius. Bake for 10 minutes, or until puffed up. Do not open the oven in between.

July 15, 2010

Lemon Cheesecake

I love reading the Lifestyle section of Sunday Times every week. In fact, I kind of look forward to it. It's trash to Hubby but to me it's interesting and magazine like. Other than the 3 pages full of comic strips, there's a page on Taste and it often comes with a nice easy recipe to be tried at home aptly named "Make it yourself".

That said, I only read them and seldom venture far enough to try them. I did once with a chocolate crinkle recipe and it was a huge success. My in-laws loved it and so does my Hubby. Recently, Hubby left a cut out yellowed page on the table and commented "I'd like to have a lemon cheesecake and I bought some lemons for this". That's that.

After careful examination, the page is from 4 October 2009! He has kept the page till now! Guess he wasn't confident that I was capable of performing this feat till now. With a request like this, how could I refuse? So 1 week later i.e. today, we went Carrefour to get the rest of the ingredients which he missed like cream cheese and sour cream. And off I went.

Since I had only 50g of digestive biscuits left in the fridge, I quartered the recipe and used muffin cups for the cake. It was like playing "masak masak" (children play pretend).

I simply zoomed in to the recipe section and did not read the article fully till later. Little did I know that all the key pointers were listed in the article! As it turned out, my cake cracked (oven temperature too high or could be due to overmixing since I took quite some time to mix the cream cheese and sour cream).

Here are the tips from the article again, for my future reference:
  • Avoid overmixing
    • Adds too much air to filling and can lead to deep cracks on top of the finished cake
  • Avoid lumps in filling. Make sure it's creamy.
    • Ensure sour cream and cream cheese are at room temperature before mixing
  • Cook it slowly
    • Oven temperate too high will create cracks as well.
    • Allowing the cake too cool too fast will do similarly.
The result is a cracked cake with a slightly sunken center. But hey, the pic in the papers had a slightly sunken center too! I think I will be fine.

For the taste test, Hubby gave it a thumbs up. Yeah! He preferred it when it was straight out of the oven even though the recipe called for chilling a few hours before eating. Hmmm....

Lemon Cheesecake
(20cm round cake tin)
Adapted version

Ingredients
200g plain biscuits e.g. digestive
100g butter
4 eggs
175g caster sugar
500g cream cheese
200g sour cream
rind of one lemon, finely grated
juice of half lemon

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degree Celsius
  2. Line the springform cake tin with baking paper
  3. Crush biscuits and add melted butter. Mix well and press to base of tin to form cake base. Chill in fridge till ready to use
  4. Beat sugar & eggs till creamy
  5. Mix cream cheese and sour cream till smooth and not lumpy. Do not overmix.
  6. Stir in lemon juice and rind to cheese mixture.
  7. Combine egg mixture to cheese mixture.
  8. Remove crust from fridge and pour in the filling from Step 7.
  9. Bake for 40-45mins till the center of cake is not wobbly or the surface has turned from shiny to dull.
  10. Turn off heat and allow it to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.
  11. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
  12. Have it plain or decorate the top with the fruit of your choice such as blueberries, strawberries or kiwis.

July 12, 2010

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

It is not everyday that I make a layered cake. Fine, this is my first time. And I was glad that I stumbled upon Pook's blog for this maiden attempt. Her instructions were clear and every post was peppered with lots of pics on the process.

Hubby likes to buy Strawberry Shortcake each time he visits a "famous" bakery as he feels that a baker's skills are tested in this simple cake. So far, his cakes from some of these "famous" bakeries (especially the Japanese ones) were disappointing, lest to say expensive.

The reason why I did not embark on a layered cake earlier was really simple. There are too many parts to it and I have to use up a lot of bowls and cooking utensils. That would mean lots of washing up later. However, I took it upon myself to perfect a cake such as this, even though the steps look tedious, so as to get a little badge of approval from him on my baking skills.

I have learned to line my cake tin well enough. Again, another first for me.

The recipe calls for a genoise to be made. After some internet search, a genoise is simply a rich and delicate Italian sponge cake. Just when I had everything prepared and measured, I realized that I ran out of eggs which is a key ingredient to a genoise. Thankfully Hubby was so delighted about my decision in making him a strawberry shortcake that he abandon his lunch mid-way just to get me eggs from the market. I was so afraid that his efforts will not be paid off!
The decorating part was quite trying on my part. Since I did not own a palette knife, I simply used a normal knife from my cutlery set for this. It was really difficult! I wonder how others did it so beautifully.
Due to the lack of a serrated knife, it was tough slicing the cake into 3 layers. Hence, the not so pretty and not so even layering.
In the end, Hubby LOVED IT! Surprisingly, me too! It was sweet, not saccharin sweet but sweet enough to consider this a cake and pair it with a nice cup of tea. It had a delightful mild fragrance to it, probably due to the vanilla extract. And the cake was soft and moist, coupled with the freshness of the strawberries.

We had a small piece each for breakfast (yeah, sinful!) and it was gone when we had it for desserts after lunch. Simply deliciously wonderful.


Japanese Strawberry Shortcake
Adapted from Pook
Makes 1 (18cm round cake tin)

Ingredients  
(I used only 2/3 of the ingredients for my 14cm round cake tin)



Genoise

3

Eggs
90g
Sugar
90g
Cake flour (sifted) (I used plain flour)
20g
Unsalted butter (melted)
20ml
Milk
Syrup
80g
Sugar
100ml
Water
10ml
Liqueur or few drops of Vanilla Extract

Whipped Cream
400ml
Whipping cream
40g
Icing sugar


10 or more
Strawberries


Method

Syrup
  1. Put sugar and water in saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring it to a boil. Off heat.
  2. Cool to room temperature and add in liqueur or the vanilla extract. Stir slightly.

Genoise
  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg Celsius
  2. Line baking cake tin with baking paper. You can use a baking tray for this if you are using a cutter or mold to assemble the cake.
  3. Beat eggs till pale in color with a electric beater.
  4. Add sugar gradually and beat till ribbon stage is reached i.e. when it flows smoothly in a ribbon-like form when you lift the beater or you can make a figure of 8 on the surface of the cake and it doesn't go away.
  5. Put 1/3 of the egg mixture into a separate bowl and mix in the melted butter
  6. Sift flour into the rest of the 2/3 egg mixture and fold gently.
  7. Pour the mixture from step 5 into step 6 and fold gently
  8. Add milk into the mixture and fold gently.
  9. Pour mixture into baking tin or pan and bake for 25-30 minutes for 18cm cake, or 15-18 minutes for the 27cm baking tray.
  10. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature
  11. Slice the genoise or sponge cake into 3 parts if you are using a round cake tin or cut cake with cutter if you are using the baking tray
Whipped cream
  1. Pour cream and icing sugar into a bowl
  2. Beat till medium stiff peaks are formed
Assembly
  1. Wash and cut strawberries
  2. Place the first cake layer back into the cake tin or cake mold if using
  3. Brush the sponge cake layer with syrup. This will ensure cake will be moist after refrigeration and give it a nice sweet smelling fragrance.
  4. Place strawberries on top of the cake layer and pour whipped cream over the berries to cover them
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 and then step 3 again.
  6. Chill the cake till it's set. (I left it in the freezer for 15mins! Remember to put the remaining whipped cream in the refrigerator as well)
  7. Cover the chilled cake with cream all over. Decorate as desired.

July 4, 2010

What If...

Hmmm... I think I have been hit by the ginger milk curd bug. I went to sleep last night thinking what if this and what if that, wondering what will happen if I change this or that for the ginger milk curd recipe.

So this morning, armed with a new big pack of milk (Hubby was kind enough to change brand for me, I like HL milk), I tried again. Since I have a opened pack of Dumex All-In-One milk formula, I tested that as well.

Here are the results:
1. Dumex All-In-One
Thanks to all the goodie bags I received when I was pregnant, I had lots of these stashed in my cabinet. I opened them one by one for my baking experiments since I don't really like milk and these are not age appropriate for my baby.

Fat 3.1g/100ml and protein 2.8g/100ml
Amazingly, it worked!



2. HL Milk
I only drink HL or Daisy Hi-Lo milk if I am forced to drink them as I dislike tremendously the creamy milky smell and taste. Being slightly lactose intolerant, all the more I avoid such products. Looking at the label, probably that explains why this milk is bearable for me as the fat content of this milk is low.

Fat 1g/100ml and protein 5g/100ml

Not sure if it's the milk or the fact that I used less ginger or my milk was too hot when I poured it in, no curd was formed. Hmmm....

Ok I guess I have enough of ginger milk curd experiments. Better venture onto something else... and I am thinking panna cotta now. *drool*

July 3, 2010

Ginger Milk Curd 姜汁撞奶

Yes! I finally did it! Ok, maybe if I had non-homogenized milk the results will be better but nonetheless, it was good enough for me.

Here's what happened. Wendy gave a challenge and I took it. This is my 2nd attempt with 2 tries. Both successful. The last attempt I did it 5 times. All failed.

For both attempts, I used the same brand of milk. Pasteurized and homogenized. Milk content includes Fat 3.6g/100ml and Protein 3.1g/100ml.

So, what changed?

This time round, I used old ginger. Yup, I used young ginger previously and have indeed proven that it simply couldn't work. The older the better as the juice is more concentrated and yellowish.
This time round, I ensured that there's HIGH impact between the milk and the ginger juice. I poured the milk from a height of at least 10cm, splattering some parts onto the table top. On a side note, there was a Beijing TV clip on this pouring "impact", joking that though it's called 姜汁撞奶 (Ginger Juice Hit/Bump Milk), in actual fact, only 奶撞姜汁 (Milk Hit/Bump Ginger Juice) will work. How corny.

And not sure if this helped too but this time round, I measured accurately the amount of ginger juice I used with a weighing scale instead of going by the spoon since I need to pour the milk at one go. Again, I can't use too much milk in this little experiment of mine or else dear Hubby will not have enough milk for his breakfast and I will feel really bad if that happens. So, I stuck to the ratio of 1 portion of ginger juice vs 8 portions of milk and used only 5ml of ginger juice to 40ml of milk with a very small amount of sugar (personal taste).

Now, I can officially claimed that I can make ginger milk curd! *beam beam*
Incidentally, Germany was successful too tonight and scored a glorious 4 goals vs Argentina. ;)

The floating spoon
The curd!


Ginger Milk Curd
(makes one small 3.5inch ramekin)

Ingredients
80ml full cream fresh milk
10ml old ginger juice
sugar to taste (I used only 1/3 tsp. We are not sweet eaters.)

Note: As long as the ratio of ginger juice vs milk is 1:8, any amount should be fine. But do make sure the ingredients are measured first so that you can pour the milk in one swift go.

Method
  1. Set aside ginger juice in the ramekin or any serving container.
  2. Bring milk to boil and add sugar. Stirring constantly to prevent a skin from forming and milk from burning.
  3. Off heat and stir for 10 seconds to cool milk slightly.
  4. Pour milk at one go from a height of at least 10cm above the ramekin.
  5. The curd should set about 10-15mins and we are done!

July 2, 2010

All Roads Lead to Rome

I tried to do a Chocolate Chip Walnut Wholemeal Bread yesterday. I failed badly as I decided to do the 2nd proofing by leaving the dough in the fridge overnight. Today a hard dough greeted me and even after thawing for 4 hours, the dough did not rise. I tried baking it, hoping that it will rise but it did not. In the end, I was laughed at badly by my visiting mum. :S

Not someone to be beaten so easily, I embarked on a search for a simple wholemeal bread again. I particularly ensured that I searched for a recipe posted by a Singaporean or Malaysian as I found the sugar content in other sites tend to be much much more than what I can bear. And guess what, after a quick search on 3 sites, they all point me to HHB! Wow! HHB is becoming the queen of blog recipes in Singapore!


Without hesitation, since I have been a avid follower of HHB, I copied out the recipe and started measuring my ingredients at 7:30pm. To which, Hubby and Mum exclaimed in unison "You making bread AGAIN?" very encouragingly.

This recipe uses the sponge dough method. Basically a sponge dough is formed first and allowed to ferment for a good 90 minutes in our weather. Then it is added to the rest of ingredients and bread is made as per normal familiar steps thereafter. According to Wikipedia, sponge doughs were used before bread improvers were invented so I am sure it would result in soft soft bread.

It took me a good 4.5 hours for the entire process. For the final proof, I couldn't hold my sleep monster any more. Since my hubby is still up, I pop the pan in the oven covered by aluminum foil at the top to prevent burning, turned on the timer for 45mins and instructed him to wait for 10 minutes before turning on the oven before he goes to bed.

Thankfully, he was obedient in this round and the bread was a success. I was greeted with a nice soft sweet smelling wholemeal bread in the morning after a quick heat up in the oven. The crust was crisp and crumbles easily. The interior is soft and fluffy. Better than those store-bought ones.

I shouldn't have halved the recipe as my non-bread-appreciating hubby ate up more than his allotted portion for breakfast and I am left with only 1/5 of the bread now for my tea later. It was THAT good.

Indeed, HHB is THE place for nice recipes. Thanks again!

Goes nicely with my butter, ham and baby lettuce. It went nicely with salmon cream cheese that I had as well. Very very nice and fresh.
Simple Wholemeal Bread
(I halved the recipe for this bake and changed it to knead in mixer vs breadmachine)


Ingredients

(A)
120g wholemeal flour
85g bread flour
4g instant yeast
130g water

(B)
85g bread flour
15g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
10g milk powder
50g water

(C)
15g unsalted butter, softened


Method
  1. Mix all ingredients in (A) in a mixing bowl to form a soft dough. Place dough in a mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and let it rise or proof for 90mins.
  2. Place the ingredients in (B) into the mixing bowl. Knead to form a soft and smooth dough.
  3. Add in (C) and knead till dough pass the elastic membrane test.
  4. Cover bowl with cling wrap and let it rise for 1 hour or till it doubles in size.
  5. Remove dough and give a few light kneading on a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 3 equal portions and shape into balls. Cover with cling wrap, let the doughs rest for 15mins.
  6. Flatten and roll out each dough into an oval shape (20cm by 10cm). Roll up swiss-roll style and pinch the seams in place. Place in a pullman tin (size, 7.5"x4"x4", well greased), seams side down. Cover the lid and let dough proof for 60mins or until the dough rise up to 90% of the height of the tin.
  7. Bake at preheated oven at 190 degC for about 30mins.
  8. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Let cool completely before slicing.

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