Friday, 16 October 2009

World Bread Day 2009: American Sandwich Bread

world bread day 2009 - yes we bake.(last day of sumbission october 17)It's World Bread Day! The previous year's blog event for this special day always passed me by. Bread making wasn't really in my arsenal of kitchen skills. But now that I've done bread making more often than I used to, I thought taking part in this once-a-year event would be the best thing. Zorra has been wonderfully hosting this event for the past three years.

One thing that helped me recently is my Panasonic bread maker. It's more than a year old actually but I've only used it several times. We're not too keen with the quality of the baked bread it churns out. The bread itself (or the middle) comes out too moist or wet. We've tried making many different kinds of bread in it (using the recipe book that it comes with) but they all come out the same. I tried reducing the liquid but the bread was worse. So nowadays I just use it as a bread kneader and first riser which it does beautifully. My bread making efforts are definitely reduced and there is less mess all around.


Okay this is not the first ever bread that I did but I was hoping to perfect this bread to use as a staple in our pantry. Perfect as in looking, smelling, and tasting like ones we buy from shops. My benchmark actually is Warburton Toastie which my family loves and in our opinion is the best commercial sandwich bread around. The Best Recipe Cookbook (my constant guide mowadays) provided the recipe that I adapted.


How did it go? It was good although my youngest and my husband was put off by the yeasty smell. So I guess next time I will reduce the yeast considerably. Mind you, I used active dry yeast successfully in the bread maker which in all its instructions always say to use instant dry yeast. But active dry yeast is just fine. All you have to do is 'wake it up' or activate it by dissolving in warm liquid and letting stand for a few minutes. I find it's helpful as well in knowing if your yeast is still good when you see (or not see) it foaming. With the instant dry yeast you won't know until after the first rising and by then all that dough is wasted.



American Sandwich Bread

520 g  bread flour
1 tsp fine salt
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter - melted
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast or active yeast
  1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Mix the water, milk, butter, sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve yeast and sugar. If using active dry yeast, let stand for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to foam.
  3. Hand method: Mix yeast mixture with the flour until it comes together enough to handle. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and satiny. Shape into a ball. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, rubbing it around to coat it lightly with oil. Cover with a plastic wrap and place in a warm place until the dough doubles in size (about 2 hours).
  4. Bread machine method: Pour the yeast mixture in the bread machine then pour the flour and salt mixture on top. Set machine to dough setting and turn on. This will take about 2 hours to complete the kneading and rising.
  5. Once the first rising is done, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Shape into a log and place in a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until double in size (about 1 hour).
  6. Bake in a 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F pre-heated oven for 40 to 50 minutes.
  7. Remove from pan and tap bottom of bread. If it sounds hollow the bread is ready, if not return to pan and oven for another 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Note: If you want a crispy crust, put another baking pan below the loaf pan in the oven. Fill this with about 1-2 cups of boiling water. This will provide moisture throughout the baking of the bread making the crust crispy.


Saturday, 3 October 2009

There Are Phases I Remember

My family knows that I operate in phases. Even in food and cooking, they certainly remember those weeks when all I try to bake and think about are egg tarts or any baked custard. Then came the phase of anything muffins or cupcakes. Another time of all pies. It is the same with my life in general. I have these passing phases of obsession. Besides the constant passion in reading, there was a period not long ago that I was interested in anything "New Age". Consequently I was into meditation, alternative medicine, and the likes. I even attended some Tibetan meditation class. Most of the things I learned during this time I retained though sadly I do not meditate as regularly as before.

As expected from me, I was very interested in the accessories that came with the Buddhist meditation. You know things like round kapok pillows, bells, incense, burners, etc. One thing that caught my attention that I haven't used one yet is what they call the singing bowls. The sound from the singing bowls works in much the same way that chanting a certain word or phrase can enhance a person's meditation or put him in an altered state of mind. These were traditionally used by Tibetan monks and ordinary people in their meditation. There are currently Tibetan Singing Bowls that are available in the internet. Among the newer types of singing bowls are the Crystal Singing Bowls which, being made of crystal, creates a purer and clearer tone and a sound of higher volume that traditional singing bowls. Whichever one you choose they certainly look good and are hopefully effective in healing and meditation. I hope I'd be able to sample one of these soon and see what its effects on me.


Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Meringues


It's not very pretty. In fact it looks like some ... oh never mind. I never thought meringue making is this easy. It only consisted of 3 ingredients, imagine that! It was so easy even our 14-year-old nephew was able to make it all by himself. Thus the poo-looking mounds in the picture. Hahaha!

Actually he was the one who made the second batch because the first one I made was gone in a minute. Really yummy! The recipe was adapted from Angela Nilsen's The Ultimate Recipe Book

Next time I will make some Eton Mess with it. Thinking of which, I have to hurry up because strawberries will be disappering soon.



Meringues

4 egg whites
115 g  icing sugar (confectioner's)
115 g  caster sugar (superfine)
  1. Preheat oven to 120°C/fan 100°C/250°F. Line baking sheets with parchment or baking non-stick paper.
  2. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks stage (stands up in stiff peaks when the blades are lifted).
  3. Continue beating though this time on high speed. Start adding the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating 3-4 seconds after each addition. It should be thick and glossy after all the sugar has been added.
  4. Sift one-third of the icing sugar on the beaten egg whites. With a metal spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold in it. Continue sifting and folding the icing sugar a third at a time. Do not over mix.
  5. Using a dessert spoon, heap the mixture into small mounds (or you can pipe them) onto the lined baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 1 1/2 hour or until the meringues sound crisp when tapped at the bottom.
  7. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Suggested serving: sandwich two meringues with softly whipped cream

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Pinakurat

Danggit
What's the best dip companion for crisp fried danggit? Why spicy vinegar of course, smothered in copious amount of hot steaming fluffy rice. I have to admit spicy hot food have not always been my cup of tea. When it comes to these fire-breathing, tongue-scorching food I'm a bonafide coward. My tongue tends to be on the sensitive side and needs some TLC. I prefer distinguishing distinct spice flavours instead of being swamped and overwhelmed by heat. It's no wonder I use spicy hot dips sparingly.

Pinakurat
Pinakurat, the spicy vinegar dip from Iligan City, was introduced to me by my BIL - Derek. Unlike most spicy vinegars from the Philippines, Pinakurat managed to get the sourness, spices and hotness balanced just right. It actually tastes of some other spices other than the ubiquitous chillies. Mind you the hotness comes to you gradually not like an in-your-face typical hot spiciness common among other brands. Pinakurat is now my choice dip for crispy fried anything including the excellent danggit, tocino, and tapa. Yum!

Pinakurat
Note: This is not a paid advertisement.


Sunday, 30 August 2009

5th Anniversary

Happy birthday my blog, happy birthday my blog ...
It's been more than five years now since I started pounding the keyboard to breathe virtual electronic life to the recipes that were just filed in my folders. From the prolific output of about twice a week posts to a dearth of once a month, I still hang onto this beloved blog.

I felt that five years is a milestone enough to warrant changing of the blog template as you can see. I wish the main window is wider so I can post bigger pictures but this is a free template and I don't have Photoshopping powers to alter it. That's alright. I think it's cute and a nice change from the bright one I had before.

Please bear with me I haven't included all the links that I had in the old template. Plus I'm still in the process of tweaking it here and there. I have to say Blogger's new modular template style is much better than before. It makes it much easier to add things or what it calls 'widgets'.

Happy anniversary again to my blog ... here's to five more years of food blogging.


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Grease Is The Word

My bundt cake pan saw first action today after languishing in my cupboard for the last 4 years. I've never done a recipe that requires one maybe because as they say out of sight out of mind? The apple monster requested another apple cake - as expected. Since I have a tub of sour cream about to expire I quickly trawled through the net to find recipes that would marry these two ingredients. The apple-sour cream concoctions I found were running on similar threads. Ingredients list are similar which only vary slightly in quantities. I printed off the two most promising and averaged the quantities. Lo and behold ! It was the best apple cake I've done ever and my family eagerly concurred.

Apple Sour Cream Cake
However, the presentation was all ruined by a dearth of grease. If only I wasn't too lazy to put more butter in it. Besides, I was too stubborn to follow instructions to grease AND flour the darn bundt pan. So there you are - apple cake volcano - after the eruption !

Apple Sour Cream Cake

Apple Sour Cream Cake
Not wanting to be classified as an 'old dog', I resolved to make it again this time making sure I learn my new 'tricks'. Generous amount of grease went to the smallest crevasses of the bundt pan then floured it generously as well. Some cinnamon was added but even without the cinnamon it was still delicious. The second attempt was a success. Just look at those nice unblemished contours made by the bundt pan. And like the first time it had the loveliest flavours as well.


Apple Sour Cream Cake


Apple Sour Cream Cake

1 cup butter - softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups coarsely chopped apples

*Filling: (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar - firmly packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts

*Glaze: (optional)
3 Tbsp icing sugar (confectioner's)
1-2 Tbsp milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F.
  2. Generously grease and flour a Bundt pan or cake pan. Set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Mix all the filling mixture in another container. Set aside.
  5. Beat the butter with 1 1/2 cups of the sugar in a big bowl until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time making sure to beat well after each addition.
  7. Add vanilla, mix well.
  8. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture alternating with the sour cream. Blend well.
  9. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the chopped apples. Then stir the apples into the batter. Mix well making sure that the apples are well distributed.
  10. Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking pan.
  11. Sprinkle the filling mixture on top (if using).
  12. Then pour the rest of the batter in the pan.
  13. Bake for about 60-70 minutes or until a skewer poked all the way in the middle comes out clean.
  14. Right after coming out of the oven, immediately turn the cake out on a rack or plate. Cool completely.
  15. If using the glaze, mix just enough milk to the icing sugar to make a thin drizzling consistency.
  16. Drizzle the glaze all over the top of the cake.

Apple Sour Cream Cake

Friday, 24 July 2009

Nutty Puffs

Ampaw
I forgot to include in my previous post of favourite things this ampaw that I can't resist. In my younger years, whenever we go back home to Amaya I never fail to ask for this peanut covered ampaw when we pass by a bakery in Zapote. I know this has a Chinese name but just can't remember it now.


As you can see the outside has been rolled in crushed peanuts while the inside is all crispy puffy ... things. The ingredients list says that it contains glutinous rice, sugar, glucose, water, and peanuts. Very few ingredients but the technique and procedure for making it looks complicated. But it doesn't matter I have no intention of making this at home because I'm afraid I'll scarf them all down if I learn to make them. Yum yum!


Ampaw

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

I simply remember my favourite things and then I don't feel so bad ...

What can I say? I had a great two-week break back home in the Philippines. As expected I didn't fail to eat all my favourite things. Though sometimes with all my yakking with friends and relatives I forgot to take pictures of some. Fortunately here are a few that I made sure to make kodak of.

My first morning there saw me staring at a plastic bag of bualaw (binatog for the rest of the Phils.). This is one of my all time favourites that I continually reminded my mother to get me it before I flew in. The simplicity of the cooked, slightly sticky corn mixed with freshly grated coconut then simply enhanced by a sprinkling of salt makes me want to eat it all day. Give me more please!

Bualaw or Binatog

Next in line is the venerable karyoka. A snack or dessert (depending on how hungry you are) that is made of fried puffed glutinous rice balls drenched in some sweet sauce made from panucha (a type of muscovado sugar) and coconut milk. Like most of my favourite things - simple but yummy!

Karyoka

That karyoka was delivered via a family gathering held just before I left for the UK. A sort of despedida. You won't know my family (or probably any Pinoy family) unless you see the amount of food we have in this kind of gathering. We had pancit luglog, lumpiang shanghai, lumpiang sariwa, Pinoy spaghetti (thus sweetish), tokwa't baboy - these are the ones cooked from scratch by my dear aunts. Bought food are the karyoka, pizza, ice cream and all the drinks. This is supposed to be snacks, okay, not dinner or supposed to be heavy.

Food Feast

Before all these I had a chance to have lunch at Dencio's restaurant in the atmospheric city of Tagaytay. Our table was in roofed but open-sided/open-air veranda that over looks Taal volcano. Lovely! The great food also completed our visit. I have here only a few of the ones that are memorable. The crispy pata was so-so hence not included. It didn't taste fresh enough or crispy enough for me. Although I forgot to take a picture of our appetiser, the excellent Crispy Kangkong, because I was too busy trying to dissect the dish and plotting on how to make it at home. There's a picture in the internet here if you're interested.

Pancit Canton
The pancit canton was good although a little more sauce would be nice.

Sizzling Bangus Belly
The sizzling bangus belly was nice, too. My mother was complaining about the amount of cholesterol in it but even she couldn't help to take a bite.

Pork Sisig
And the winner is --> pork sisig! This is the best tasting pork sisig I have had so far. Just plain pork sisig with the right tutong (crispy bits) at the bottom and no creamy dressing whatsoever. Yum-my!

If all that eating had us tired, all we had to do was turn on our side and gaze at the view of Taal Volcano right there on our table. *sigh* I wish I could come back soon.


Taal Volcano

Friday, 8 May 2009

Boston Cream Pie

Once upon a time, my husband had his birthday. Well actually, it was January this year but seems like ages has passed after a multitude of things happened since then. As in any birthday, a cake is in order for the family celebration which is really a fabulous chance (excuse?) for me to try different cake recipes.

Thumbing through my new (relatively) The New Best Recipe cookbook, we've decided on a Boston Cream Pie. Now why this is called a 'pie' is beyond me because it is one great cake - layers of sponge cakes with custard sandwiched in between then drizzled with chocolate. Just thinking of it make me drool!

The making of the cake itself is a bit of a trek (so to speak) but is definitely worth it. And that's why I love the cookbook where I adapted it from because the instructions are so precise and meticulous it was easy to follow. The authors, Cook's Illustrated, must have written this for OC cooks like me. It is packed full of tips for beginner and experienced kitchen adventurers. I keep on saying I will blog about it but still haven't found the time. :(

Anyways, here is the recipe I used for this delicious cake from Boston (it's true!). Apologies for the pictures of the actual cake. The angles of my shots make it look like a top hat. ;)


glazing the cake


Boston Cream Pie

1 recipe of Pastry Cream (recipe below) - chilled
1 recipe of Foolproof Sponge Cake (recipe below) - cooled

*Glaze:
1/4 cup light corn syrup or golden syrup
1 cup double cream (heavy cream)
250 g  dark chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Prepare pastry cream first, then the sponge cake, and then do the glaze last.
  2. Put golden syrup and double cream in a saucepan and bring to a full simmer over medium heat.
  3. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Cover and let stand for about 8 minutes.
  4. If the chocolate has not completely melted put back on cooker and heat gently while stirring constantly until all the chocolate is melted.
  5. Add vanilla and stir gently until smooth.
  6. Cool until tepid or when a spoonful drizzled back into the pan mounds slightly.
  7. You can also put it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process but you have to stir it every few minutes to ensure even cooling. Once you get the consistency you want take it out of the fridge.


Boston Cream Pie

*To Assemble:
  1. While the glaze is cooling, put one cake layer on a cardboard round (optional) then set on a wire rack over a plate or greaseproof paper. Cut excess cake from top if it is not level.
  2. Spoon the pastry cream carefully on top and spread evenly up to the edges.
  3. Place the second layer on top making sure that they line up properly.
  4. Pour the glaze on the middle of the top layer and let it flow down the sides. Use a metal spatula to completely coat the cake.
  5. Let the cake sit for about 1 hour to make the glaze fully set. Serve the same day.


Boston Cream Pie slice

Pastry Cream

1 cup single cream (light cream)
1 cup whole milk
100 g  [1/2 cup] granulated sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
60 g  [1/4 cup] cold unsalted butter - cut into cubes
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Heat the milk, cream, 3/4 of the sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
  2. While the cream mixture is heating, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Add the remaining sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve (about 15 seconds).
  3. Whisk in the cornflour until well combined and the mixture is thick (about 30 seconds).
  4. When the cream mixture reaches full simmer, gradually whisk this into the bowl of the yolk mixture.
  5. Return all of this to the saucepan and over medium heat make it simmer again while whisking constantly until thick and glossy and until a few bubbles broke to the surface (about 30 minutes).
  6. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla.
  7. (Optional) Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl.
  8. Put a piece of cling film or slightly wet greaseproof paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin forming.
  9. Cool or refrigerate until completely set. This will take at least 3 hours.


Preparing cake batter

Foolproof Sponge Cake

1/2 cup sponge flour (cake flour)
1/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
5 large eggs - room temperature
  1. Grease two 8 or 9-inch layer pans and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F.
  2. Separate the 3 eggs and put the egg whites in a mixing bowl. Combine the 3 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs in another mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly; set aside.
  4. Heat the milk and butter over low heat in a small saucepan until all the butter melts. Remove from heat then add the vanilla extract. Cover and keep warm.
  5. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer at low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium and gradually add 6 Tbsp of the sugar. Keep beating until the it has soft, glossy, and billowy peaks (do not overbeat).
  6. Now beat the egg yolk mixture with the remaining 6 Tbsp of sugar gradually added. Beat at medium speed until the mixture is very thick and pale yellow colour (about 5 minutes).
  7. Add the beaten eggs to the egg whites.
  8. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the beaten egg mixture. Fold very gently 12 times with a large rubber spatula.
  9. Make some space on one side of the batter and pour the milk-butter mixture into the bowl.
  10. Continue folding (about 8 more strokes) until it shows no trace of flour and the rest are evenly mixed.
  11. Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  12. Bake until the tops are light brown and springs back when when touched. This is about 20 minutes for 8-inch pans and 16 minutes for 9-inch pans.
  13. Immediately run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn out on cooling racks. Cool completely.


Sponge Cakes

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Crisp Comeback

Walkers Max Paprika Crisps
It was a case of long-time-no-see. My son brought this home a few weeks ago. I haven't seen this one favourite crisp (potato chips for the 'Merkins) flavour of mine for years! Supermarkets used to stock these in small and big packets and I never leave for home without it. I wonder why Walker's discontinued selling these? They haven't even distributed them in big supermarkets. The only places we can get these are in small corner shops or news agents. Anyhow, it's nice to enjoy one of my all-time favourite crisp flavours back in town.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Steamed Chicken

It's nearly bye-bye time for the Miele Steam Oven that I blogged about a few weeks ago. They're picking it up next week. During the three weeks that we had the privilege of trialling it, we cooked a varied number of dishes besides the fact that my kids used it a lot for re-heating food. They're actually sad that it's going soon.

One of the things I used it for is on embutido. Everyone knows that you have to steam them for 1 hour which is not a problem in this oven.

Steamed potatoes in Miele Steam Oven
I found it very useful in steaming a batch of potatoes for one evening that we need it for mashed potatoes.

steamed broccoli in Miele Steam Oven
Several times I steamed veggies in it like these broccoli. It was excellent, the broccoli retained its vibrant green colour while being cooked through and full of flavour.

steamed fish in Miele Steam Oven
The one we were wanting most to steam was a fresh sea bass. We got our wish when we visited the Bull Ring Indoor Market in Birmingham and came away with a good sized one to steam Chinese-style.

Steamed Chicken in Miele Steam Oven
I also managed to try new recipes like this steamed chicken that I adapted from my well thumbed Chinese Cuisine cookbook by Huang Su-Huei.



Steamed Chicken with Green Onion

1 kg  whole chicken of whole legs
1 Tbsp cooking wine
1 Tbsp salt
1 green onion - cut into 4 pieces
2 slices of ginger
1/2 cup shredded green onion
4 Tbsp shredded ginger
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
  1. Combine the cooking wine, salt, green onion (the one cut into 4 pieces), and the slices of ginger. Set aside.
  2. Combine the cornstarch and water in another bowl. Set aside.
  3. Wash the chicken and pat it dry.
  4. Rub both the outside and inside of the chicken with the salt mixture. Leave the mixture inside the chicken. Let stand for 1 hour.
  5. Place in a steamer breast-side up and steam over high heat for about 35 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken and reserve the liquid.
  7. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and put in on a serving platter.
  8. Sprinkle the shredded onion, ginger, and ground black pepper on top.
  9. Heat 1/2 cup of the reserved steaming liquid up to a boil.
  10. Stir in the cornstarch mixture. Let cook for a few seconds or until thick. Pour over the chicken.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Easy Crepes

Since we're talking about kitchen machines, I happily stumbled upon a long sought after machine/cooker. I first saw this 'automatic' crepes maker when I visited relatives in Toronto way back in 1994. Ate Eva, my SIL and popular cook among friends and relatives, was making crepes with this machine for use in lumpiang sariwa she's making. Ever since then I've been trying to bag one of those effort-saving crepe maker. And even Ate Eva was searching since her's conked out a few years ago. Seems like they don't sell them anymore in US and Canada and not at all here in UK. I've all given up until I saw this in my sister's kitchen in Geneva! It's branded as Trisa of Switzerland though there's no indication on the box on where it was actually made.

Crepes Machine
She and my BIL were generous enough to give it to me. They probably saw how desperate I was. :)


Crepes machine parts
It comes with all these accessories (see above). The manual was right it was very easy to use and because the hotplate's surface is teflon coated it's easy to clean as well.


Photobucket
All I have to do is heat up the hotplate then mix up a batter for crepes. Transfer it to the plastic batter pan. Then simply dunk the hotplate onto the batter pan, turn the hotplate up and let it cook. When one side is browned, lift it and cook the other side.

Here's a tip: the longer you hold the hotplate in the pan, the thicker the crepe will be. Now isn't that easier than the usual way of swirling the batter in a crepe pan which invariably takes time and practice to perfect. While with this machine you get right at your first go.


Crepes Machine
Our favourite filling is the finger-lickingly good Nutella, golden syrup, or just plain sugar. As you can see the batter was not mixed well. My kids couldn't wait to cook them and they're willing to eat blobby crepes just so they can try the crepe maker.


Crepes Machine
Just a couple of gripes, once you lifted the hotplate from the pan and turn it for browning there would almost always be one of two holes on the crepe. And then there's the size which is limited to the size of the hotplate. You can't make it any bigger.

Here's a basic crepe batter recipe from the accompanying manual:



Crepes

450 ml  whole milk
2 large eggs - beaten
50 g  butter - melted
pinch of salt
250 g  plain flour
  1. Mix milk, eggs, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add flour and melted butter.
  3. Beat until there are no more lumps and is well combined.
  4. Cook either in a crepes machine or by spreading about 1/4 cup at a time on a heated crepe pan.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Full Steam Ahead



Steamed food has always appealed to me. Why wouldn't it? Steaming brings out the best flavour and locks in nutrients of most ingredients more than any other cooking method. Though this does not mean that I'm willing to do it often. All the hassle of dragging out all the cooking utensils from cupboards for steaming is something I could do without. And not only that, as a consequence of this I will expectedly have a mountain of pots, pans, steamer basket, etc. I have to wash up. I'm not a happy bunny after all that palaver.

But the kitchen gods must be smiling on me when Matt of Miele was kind enough to give me a more relaxing way of steaming by way of lending me a steam oven for a trial period. Now it's my new best friend. I just love the ease of cooking in it whereas, like what I said before, I used to dread the prospect of steaming. With the Miele steam oven all I have to do is fill up the water jug on its side, set the temperature and timer and away it goes. No fiddling with water laden pots, nor making the lid as tight fitting as possible, or worrying about running out of water (it warns you if water is running low). Once set-up, I shut the door and wait for it to chime indicating end of cooking time. I was quite surprised with the speed it reaches the usual cooking temperature of 100°C or the time it takes to cook things. It's almost like a microwave. I even defrosted frozen chicken in it with very good results. My kids love reheating food frequently using it in favour of our microwave oven.


My first foray in it of course is by way of dessert - steamed puddings of course. All the steamed puddings I have in my arsenal of recipes in this blog I tested in this steam oven. They all came out perfectly. The steamed treacle pudding that I've been wanting to do since time immemorial was the first one I cooked in it. Flavours from Delia Smith's recipe that I adapted were really really addictive that I have to steam one for the second time! It's best eaten with generous lashing of warm custard. I promise you it tastes so much better than how it looks in my picture below. Fantastically great comfort pudding on a winter's night. Do try it - both the steam oven and the treacle pudding.






Steamed Treacle Pudding

3 Tbsp golden syrup
175 g  self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
165 g  [2/3 cup] butter - softened
175 g  soft light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp black treacle
3 Tbsp warmed golden syrup (optional) - extra for topping
greaseproof baking paper
aluminium foil
  1. Butter well a 1.2 liter (2 pints) pudding basin. Pour the golden syrup in the bottom of the basin. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour and baking powder.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and beat with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes or until smooth and well combined.
  4. Pour into the pudding basin. Smooth and level the top with the back of a spoon.
  5. Measure the baking paper and foil into a size of about 16-inch x 12-inch. Put the foil on top of the baking paper. Fold and make a pleat in the centre.
  6. Place this on top of the pudding basin with the foil side up. Pull it down the side of the basin and tie with a string or rubber band. Trim the excess baking paper and foil all around.
  7. Steam for 2 hours.
  8. Using a butter knife, loosen the pudding all around the side. Invert into a warmed plate. Pour the extra golden syrup on top (if using). Serve with custard or creme fraiche.




Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Broccoli Chicken


When I saw the picture of this dish in Ken Hom's Hot Wok cookbook, I thought I just gotta make one like it. The combination of chicken and broccoli I definitely cannot resist. But you know how it is with Ken Hom's recipes, you have to tone the saltiness way way down. I wonder if he has any kidney problems?

The very first time I cooked this it was sooo salty that me and my husband were not able to continue after a few spoonfuls. So this time the patis is reduced to a third, oyster sauce and soy sauces reduced as well and I eliminated the salt. Perfect!



Broccoli Chicken

500 g  boneless chicken thighs - cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 medium onion - quartered
2 Tbsp rice wine or cooking wine
2 Tbsp water or chicken stock
3 medium tomatoes - quartered
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 Tbsp patis (fish sauce)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
450 g  broccoli - cut into small florets
1/2 cup cooking oil

*Marinade
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp patis (fish sauce)
1 tsp light soy sauce
cornflour - for dusting
  1. Marinate the chicken meat in the black pepper, patis, and light soy sauce for about 30 minutes.
  2. Drain meat from marinade and roll the pieces in cornflour, shaking off excess.
  3. Mix the oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Boil or steam the broccoli until just cooked. Immediately plunge in cold water. Drain thoroughly.
  5. Heat a wok with the cooking oil over medium heat. Once hot, fry the meat pieces until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  6. Drain off all the oil. Heat the wok again and add 1 Tbsp oil. When it is hot add the garlic and onion. Stir fry for 1 minute.
  7. Add the broccoli and continue to stir fry for 1 more minute.
  8. Add the rice wine and water and continue to stir fry on medium-high heat for 4 minutes.
  9. Stir in the oyster sauce mixture and the tomatoes. Continue to stir fry for 30 seconds.
  10. Add the chicken and stir-fry for another 2 minutes or until the chicken is heated through.
  11. Dish up to a warm platter and serve at once.