August 21, 2010

Nicely Poached

Hubby and I have been spending loads of money every weekend on brunches. After a while, I realized that I am paying too much for just 2 eggs and some toasts. So one fine day, I took it upon myself to prepare a nice brunch for the 2 of us at one tenth of the costs.
The problem is... presentation. And it has to do a lot with the eggs. After a quick search on the internet from a few sites which I cannot find anymore, I managed to poached the nicest eggs in my life straight out of my own kitchen. Mann... I have indeed come a long way.
Easy peasy way to poach an egg
Cling foil/wrap (microwaveable or able to withstand high heat)
Small bowl/container/ramekin

  1. Place cling wrap over bowl.
  2. Lightly oil the cling wrap.
  3. Crack the egg onto the cling wrap.
  4. Tie the cling wrap
  5. Boil water. Drop egg into boiling water and poach for about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Once done, all you have to do is to cut the cling wrap and slide the cooked egg on the plate. Ta dah!
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August 20, 2010

Guinness Rocks

What do you think of Guinness Stout?

Somehow friends from my generation associated it with older men. Men who are "uncles". Men who have gone through a hard day's work and needed a big chill out at a local coffee shop a.k.a. kopitiam found near their homes with equally uncle-ly friends. Somehow, that's the image that has been jarred into my mind till now. Effects of marketing. Maybe the choice of artiste George Lam 林子祥 in the past as its ambassador deepens the image.

Oddly, Hubby loved this drink and he is no uncle. Every time I'm back from a trip, without fail, I will get him 3 cans of this uncle-ly drink. I was doing so even when we were courting! See how far back he started this uncle-ly vice.

When I found this ice cream recipe in David Lebovitz The Perfect Scoop, I think Hubby will love it. With the stock-up pile of Guinness in my fridge, I embarked on this project immediately. It was easy to make and was so creamy and nice that half a tub was gone in one sitting. I loved it to bits!

Then after, the taste of Guinness just became so different now. With each sip of the drink (not the ice cream), I remembered the ice cream, felt the soothing comfort and oaky foam swishing in my mouth. I now called Guinness a thing to be enjoyed by all....uncles or not.

Guinness Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz The Perfect Scoop
(Makes half liter)

100g milk chocolate, finely chopped
125ml whole milk
50g sugar
pinch of salt2 large egg yolks
125ml heavy cream
90ml Guinness Stout (I used 125ml by mistake but it still wasn't strong enough for us)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Put chocolate pieces in a bowl with a strainer over the top
  2. Warm milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan over low fire. Set aside.
  3. Whisk egg yolks in a separate medium bowl.
  4. With one hand (use right hand if you are right handed) whisking constantly, pour the contents from the saucepan into the medium bowl gradually (or else the yolk will be cooked and curdle)
  5. Return the saucepan to the fire. Heat till mixture thickens and you are able to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  6. Remove from heat and pour through the strainer over the chocolate. Stir till chocolate is melted.
  7. Once mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then Guinness and vanilla.
  8. Freeze and done. It was so smooth that no whisking or re-freezing needed.
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Little Angel

Whenever I had extra egg whites, there are only 2 items in my mind to make - macarons or meringues. For the latter, my oven is simply too unstable to hold a 100°C temperature for a long time or rather, not even a good 15 minutes. As for the former, I have succeeded twice but failed the third time and I had come to the conclusion that I don't like that sweet cookie that much to try it so many times. Back to Donna Hay's book and I went for the classic Angel Food Cake instead.

The recipe required 12 egg whites, I only had 2. So I reduced the recipe by 6 times and felt really odd making it. It's like playing masak masak, as my friend once put it since I tend to use such small amounts when it comes to baking.

I followed the recipe to a T and glazed it with chocolate as well. Ok, not very my style but I admit, I had spare pouring cream in the fridge that I needed to get rid of. The book served it with nice cute red raspberries as well and I thought I will use what I have in the fridge - big black cherries.
How did it go? Guess a picture tells a thousand words. As always, Hubby liked it. Just like.. not loved since he has a dense personality and does not take to a chiffon or for that matter, an angel food cake. Fortunately, he loved the chocolate glaze and we had it with cherries after, a mini-fondue.
Angel Food Cake
Adapted from Donna Hay's Modern Classics2
(Makes a tiny little cake using a 6" chiffon tin)

2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp sugar
few drops of vanilla extract
2+3/4 tbsp plain flour

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C
  2. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar till soft peaks form.
  3. Add sugar to the egg whites, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat till firm peaks form and mixture is glossy.
  4. Add vanilla and beat slightly.
  5. Sift the flour twice and sift a third time over the egg mixture. Fold gently.
  6. Spoon mixture into an ungreased angel food cake tin (or chiffon tin), levelling it with a spatula.
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes until cooked when tested with a skewer.
  8. Remove from oven, invert the tin and allow the cake to cool completely before unmoulding.
  9. Serve with cooled chocolate glaze (see below) and raspberries or whatever fruits you like. (Strawberries and blueberries now sound like a good idea)
Chocolate Glaze
My own version. Steps adapted from Donna Hay.

50g chopped chocolate
50g cream

  1. Place chocolate and cream into a saucepan and heat over low fire. Stir until melted and smooth.
  2. Set aside for 10 minutes till mixture thickens.
  3. Ready for use on cake or can be stored in fridge.
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August 10, 2010

A Tale of 3 Ice Creams

I simply cannot remember what got over me. It had to be the patriotic pride in me running amok on a non-eventful National Day. Or just the fact that I failed in my Lemon Cookie experiment and decided that I'll stay of baking for a while.... and start on ICE CREAM!

It was so easy the previous time  when I had my maiden attempt at this sweet creamery stuff. I searched slightly and found Quinn's Perfect Scoop! I copied down one maple syrup ice cream recipe. Then off to Pook's blog and found another coffee gelato. Lastly I remembered reading Evan's matcha ice cream and copied that down as well.
So ta-dah! 3 ice creams. All done without a ice-cream maker. In the end I adjusted the recipes here and there to my likings and they all turned out well. That's the beauty of ice creams I guess. Easy peasy. On average, I took less than 20minutes in preparation and cooking for each flavor. I should have started this earlier.

Taste wise, they were so good that Hubby kept eating them for desserts every day and refused to share them when there are visitors. He simply gave some excuses and walked away when I asked if I should offer to guests. He is simply fond of the matcha one. As for me, I selfishly took the maple syrup one to myself since I love the cinnamon that I have added in there.

Don't be fooled by my lousy photo taking skills. I don't seem to know how to take ice-creams. They were all all good. :D
Maple Syrup, Cinnamon & Vanilla Ice Cream
(Makes 1/2 liter)

1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup maple syrup (try using less e.g. 3/8 cup if you do not like it too sweet)1/2 cup milk
few drops of vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon powder (use less if you do not like cinnamon)

  1. Whisk everything with a electric beater and freeze
  2. When the edges have frozen with a soft center, take it out and break the ice with a fork or whisk. Freeze and repeat for 1-2 more times.
  3. Done.
Kahlua Gelato
(Makes 1/2 liter)

125ml milk
125ml cream
40g sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp coffee powder
30ml coffee liqueur e.g. Kahlua (can omit)

  1.  In a saucepan, heat milk & cream till bubbles form around the edges of the pan.
  2. Sprinkle coffee powder into the saucepan and stir. Set aside.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk egg yolk and sugar till thick, smooth and pale in color.
  4. With one hand (use right hand if you are right handed) whisking constantly, pour the contents from the saucepan into the medium bowl gradually (or else the yolk will be cooked and curdled)
  5. Return the saucepan to the fire. Heat till mixture thickens and you are able to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  6. Remove from heat and stir over ice bath to bring it to room temperature. (I simply stir and let it cool till room temperature, stir and freeze).
  7. When the edges have frozen with a soft center, take it out and break the ice with a fork or whisk. Freeze and repeat for 1-2 more times. Done.
Matcha Ice Cream
(Makes slightly above 1/2 liter)

1/2 cup full cream milk
1-2 tbsp matcha powder (I used 1.5 tbsp)
1/3 cup vanilla sugar (I simply used brown sugar)
Few drops of vanilla extract
300ml cream

  1. Whip cream till soft firm peaks are formed
  2. Using a blender, blend milk, matcha powder, sugar and vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the blended mixture over cream and fold
  4. Freeze and done. (Mine doesn't require any whisking later. It was very creamy)
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August 9, 2010

Getting to know Donna

Everybody who bakes seemed to know Donna Hay - an Australian-based food stylist and author of many cookbooks and food magazines. I have not read any of her stuff till I chanced upon her book in the library. As I only had 5 minutes to get my stuff and go (shan't go into details here), I picked it up (since the pictures were so pretty) and went.

I was glad I did as there was this recipe for Tiramisu that is simple and most importantly, no raw eggs needed! Just the thing I need since I absolutely would want a recipe to get into Hubby's good books quickly whenever the-you-know happens. He has a terrible weakness for tiramisu and orders it without fail if he spots it in the menu...unless the waiter strongly recommends something else.

After scouring many many recipes online, most of them either require raw eggs to be added so that the filling is light or went for the lower quality version of tiramisu where cream cheese is used instead. Without a doubt, this was the first recipe I tried in the book.

Results? Hubby couldn't get enough of it and gave praises over and over again as I reduced the sugar to suit his not-so-sweet tooth and added slightly more liqueur in it. Definitely a keeper. Glad to know you Donna!
Adapted from Donna Hay's Modern Classic2
(Makes 2-3 glasses)

Sponge base
60ml strong espresso coffee (I used 40ml of coffee and 80ml of liqueur. ;>)
60ml coffee liqueur e.g. Kahlua
8 sponge finger biscuits, halved widthwise
cocoa powder for dusting

150g mascarpone cheese
180ml cream
1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar (I used only 1 tbsp)

  1. Beat mascarpone cheese, cream and icing until light and creamy. Set aside.
  2. Mix the coffee and liqueur in a bowl.
  3. Dip both sides of the 4 sponge biscuits into the coffee mixtures and place into glasses as sponge cake base.
  4. Top the glasses (with the cake base) with half the filling.
  5. Repeat step 3 and 4.
  6. Dust with sifted cocoa powder and refrigerate until required. (I refrigerate first and dust when about to serve)
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August 3, 2010

My 1st Lucky Draw Gift from Blogging

Thanks to Wendy, I received my first lucky draw gift from the blogosphere!

Such a sweet little bowl and spoon. My mum immediately "choped" (Singlish) or rather zoomed in and said it's perfect for my baby. Hmmm...guess she likes it too and wants the better things for her grand-kid than having me use it for my other lofty ambitions.
Come to think of it, this year, I have managed to join quite a few contests and won! Most of them movie tickets to this and that. Good good year. :D
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August 1, 2010

Creme Brulee

Pook's blog is one of those that I frequently visit as she detailed out the steps with pics. Needless to say, it gave me lots of courage to try the recipes she listed.

In my recent 2nd visit to Phoon Huat, I chanced upon this cheap $10 torch and the first thing that came to mind was Creme Brulee which my hubby and I love. Pook has it in her site too. So off I went a-making.
Just when I was about to torch the surface, I realized this cheapo torch does not come with gas! The gullible me had assumed it would. Thankfully I found a gas filler the next day at some China export looking provisional shop in Bukit Timah Plaza.

The small torch is easy to use but definitely not easy to torch. It took me a whole 2 minutes to get the surface browned. Maybe I used too little sugar.

So back to this Creme Brulee, I found it too sweet for my liking even though the recipe initially missed out where to place the additional 20g of sugar. Hence I omitted it. It could be due to the Marigold milk that I used as it was already sweet to begin with. Guess I will try making it again since I now have THE torch but will reduce the sugar in future... and perhaps get a better carton of milk.
Creme Brulee
(Makes 3 3.5" small ramekins... no kidding)(Adapted version)

45g milk
15g sugar (I used brown sugar)
200g heavy cream
45g egg yolks (about 3 egg yolks)
A few drops of vanilla extract

30g sugar for caramelized top

  1. Preheat oven to 130°C.
  2. Place the milk, sugar and 50g of cream into a saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil.
  3. Remove from the heat, pour the remaining cream and vanilla extract into the saucepan (to lower the temperature) and whisk to combine.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until well blended and lightened in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 3 ramekins or containers.
  5. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. 
  6. Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Lower the temperature to 120°C and bake for another 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the ramekins and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 3 days). 
  9. When ready to serve, remove the crème brûlée from the fridge. Divide the 30g sugar equally and spread it evenly on top of the 3 ramekins.
  10. Put the crème brûlée under the hot grill (or use a torch) to melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Done.
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