Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Cathedral Windows

Cathedral Windows
One of the winners in the Christmas new recipe experimentations of my family is this great looking and even better tasting Cathedral Windows. I have to thank wholeheartedly Corinne of the excellent Heart of Mary food blog from where I adapted this recipe. Thank you very much Corinne for sharing your family's best ever recipe. We are indebted to you and your aunts for this wonderful refreshing dessert.

This festive dessert I could imagine more in summer feasts because it's quite refreshing in the palate despite the richness of the white binding jelly. Although, this would not go amiss as a foil to all the richness of Christmas season food.

I thought I could get away with using her exact recipe but I couldn't find any thickened cream (Nestle) that is quite common in the Philippines. Good thing I read the voluminous comments of that blog to find that I can use regular double cream (heavy cream) but had to increase the gelatine in the binder. With the first make under my belt, I could see that two jelly moulds could be used in this recipe because I didn't use up all the coloured jellies. So I'll do that next time.

Cathedral Windows
As you can see, I made a mistake in unmoulding the whole thing. It won't come out readily so I immersed the bottom in a bowl full of warm water for, I thought, a few seconds. But it seems I dipped it too long. The top melted and wasn't the ridged smooth gelatine I was expecting. But, nevermind, the taste more than made up for the botched unmoulding. Corinne was right in claiming that it is delicious - it was so yummy. And when I cut it to reveal the inside - wow! To see those colourful jellies floating in white was really really satisfying.

Happy New Year everyone !!



Cathedral Windows

*For coloured jellies:
5 different flavoured and coloured unset jellies*
1 cup boiling water (x5)
1 cup cold tap water (x5)
1 Tbsp sugar (x5)
1 Tbsp unflavoured gelatine powder (x5)

*For binder jelly:
3 Tbsp unflavoured gelatine powder
2 cups apple juice
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup double cream (heavy cream)


For the coloured jellies:
  1. Mix the coloured jelly with 1 cup of boiling water, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1 Tbsp unflavoured jelly powder.
  2. Stir from time to time until everything is dissolved.
  3. Add in 1 cup of cold tap water.
  4. Pour into a moulding container (plastic, glass, or ceramic; preferably rectangular or square) and chill in the fridge overnight.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 for the rest of the coloured jellies.

For the binder jelly:
  1. Heat the apple juice until very hot but not boiling.
  2. Add the unflavoured gelatine, remove from heat and stir until completely dissolved.
  3. In another saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice.
  4. Cook over low heat while stirring until the mixture is thickened.
  5. Pour in the apple mixture and remove from fire. Stir to mix.
  6. Add the evaporated milk and double cream to the mixture and stir to mix.

To assemble:
  1. Before cooking the binder jelly, cut up the different coloured jellies into about 3/4 - 1 inch cubes. Put in a heat resistant bowl.
  2. Wash the final presentation jelly mould with water. Drain water from the inside but do not wipe dry. This is to make the unmoulding of the jelly easier.
  3. Make the binder jelly and while it is still liquid (it sets quickly!) pour it over and combine with the cut-up jellies.
  4. Carefully pour in the jelly mould. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight or until completely set.

*Notes:
  • I used the locally available Hartley's jelly in lime, lemon, orange, blackcurrant, and strawberry flavours.
  • I actually combined the coloured jellies and binder in the jelly mould itself. I just carefully mixed them with a spoon and distributed the coloured jellies evenly.
  • I didn't have one of those nice Tupperware jelly moulds so I just used my regular bundt pan that I use for baking and it wasn't too bad.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Banana White Chocolate Chips Cake

Banana White Choc Chip Cake
The work 'scrumptious' can aptly describe this cake. It is really that good. Funny enough, like most of my experimental recipes, I stumbled across this one because I have a white chocolate bar that's about to expire and a bunch of overripe bananas nearer to the side of rotten. Thanks to member toms112 of the BBC GoodFood website who provided this delicious loaf cake. I will always go back to this recipe whenever a banana cake is requested - promise!


Banana White Chocolate Chip Cake

125 g  [1/2 cup] butter
150 g  [2/3 cup] caster sugar (superfine)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 very ripe bananas - mashed
190 g  self-raising flour
1/4 cup milk
100 g  white chocolate chips
  1. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Pre-heat oven to 170°C/fan 150°C.
  2. If the butter is softened to room temperature, beat in a bowl with the caster sugar using an electric mixer until fluffy and light.
    OR
    Melt the butter with the sugar over medium heat. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add in the egg and vanilla, mix well.
  4. Add the mashed banana and mix well.
  5. Fold in the flour alternately with the milk using a wooden spoon. Mix just enough to incorporate the flour.
  6. Add the white chocolate chips and fold to mix.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon
Here's one recipe that I've been doing on and off in different versions for years. And it's only now that I'm documenting it. Actually, the Daring Cooks urged me to do this for the November/December challenge. It was originally the theme all the way back on May 2012. I haven't rejoined yet at the time so I have my excuses.

Beef Bourguignon or Beef Burgundy is like most stews but the main distinction is that it has a lot of red wine while the British variety has beers in different forms (ales, bitters, porters, etc). They're all very good especially during winter when you need something hot and hearty for supper.

For this recipe I made the mistake of reducing the mushrooms. As expected they shrank in size so there wasn't as much as I would like to have. The mushrooms are great to soak up all that robust taste of the sauce so don't skimp on it. Finally, serving this with boiled or steamed potatoes, bread or even rice is great for a hearty meal.


Beef Bourguignon
(Beef Burgundy)

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
200 g  streaky bacon - chopped
1.5 kg stewing beef - cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 onion - chopped
1 big carrot - chopped into big chunks
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups beef stock
720 ml (1 big bottle) red wine (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Pinot Noir, etc.)
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 Tbsp double concentrate tomato puree (tomato paste)
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp butter
300 g  small onions - peeled and kept whole
500 g  small button mushrooms
  1. In a heavy bottomed casserole pot, heat olive oil and fry bacon until brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. In the same casserole, brown the beef pieces in batches until brown all around. Add more olive oil if needed. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add in the chopped onion and cook in medium-low heat for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots and saute for another 2 minutes.
  5. Return the bacon and beef in the casserole. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and flour and toss for a minute.
  6. Stir in the wine, tomato puree, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and just enough stock to cover the beef. Bring to boil while scraping the browned bits at the bottom.
  7. Lower heat and simmer for 1.5 hours or until beef is tender.
    OR
    Put in an oven pre-heated at 150°C/fan 130°C/300°F and bake for 3-3.5 hours or until beef is tender.
    OR
    Cook in a slow cooker for 3-4 hours on low or 2 hours on high. (Consult your slow cooker manual for best result.)
  8. While it is stewing, melt 1 Tbsp of the butter in a frying pan and saute the peeled small onions until golden brown. Set aside.
  9. Melt 2 Tbsp of the butter in the same frying pan and saute the mushrooms until brown. Set aside.
  10. Add the sauteed onions and mushrooms about 3/4 of the way of the cooking time. Continue cooking until done.

Note: Like any stew, this is best served the day after cooking.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Double Crust Apple Pie

Double Crust Apple Pie
This is one of those dishes that I keep doing over and over again. It's actually several years in the making. If the crust weren't so good I wouldn't be bothering. But that's the crux of the problem, the crust is really crisp and yummy but it's so hard to handle. It was just too soft. So one of my experiments was not to soften the butter and just cut it in the flour and sugar like a traditional pie crust. Then I beat the egg and egg yolk and mixed it in the butter-flour mixture. It did work and is sturdier than the original version. Next I have to try it with just 1 egg and either increase the flour or decrease the butter. Either way I hope it will make the dough firmer without sacrificing too much of the excellent taste.

Apple Pie in progress
More apples would have to be added. I wanted one of those really high apple pies I see in American magazines which would also mean longer baking times. I just hope I don't end up with burnt crust and barely cooked apples inside.

This is a much modified version of the original from The Ultimate Recipe Book by Angela Nilsen. The original recipe is also in the BBC GoodFood website.

Double Crust Apple Pie



Double-Crust Apple Pie

*Pastry:
225 g  butter - softened but not almost melted
50 g  caster sugar
1 large egg - beaten
350 g  plain flour

*Filling:
1.2 kg apples
100 g  caster sugar
3 Tbsp light muscovado or brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp plain flour

*Egg wash:
1 small egg - beaten
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp sugar (for sprinkling)

*For the pastry:
  1. Cream butter with sugar for about a minute.
  2. Add egg and beat until well mixed.
  3. Add flour and mix well. Knead for a few turns just enough to keep it together.
  4. Separate about 1/3 of the dough. Shape both into balls, cover with clingfilm or put in a plastic bag.
  5. Put in the fridge to firm up for about 1 hour.
*For the filling:
  1. Peel and core the apples. Slice into 1/4-inch pieces.
  2. Combine the sugars, cinnamon, and flour.
  3. Add the flour mixture into the sliced apples and mix well.
*To assemble:
  1. Preheat oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F.
  2. Roll out the smaller (1/3 part) of the dough into an 11-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick.
  3. Lay and centre the rolled-out pastry on a 9-inch pie plate making sure that the overhanging pastry is evenly distributed.
  4. Tip all of the apple mixture onto the pastry-lined pie plate. Make sure it mounds in the centre.
  5. Roll out the remaining dough into a circle about 13-inch in diameter and 1/8-inch thick.
  6. Carefully lay on top of the apple mixture and cut the overhanging pastry to about 1/2 to 1-inch.
  7. Crimp pastry at the edge of the pie plate.
  8. Put about four slits on the pastry to let the steam out during baking.
  9. Mix the egg and milk for the egg wash. Brush generously all over the pie.
  10. Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp sugar on top.
  11. Bake for about 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer poked in one of the slits pushes through smoothly in the apple filling (this means the apples are cooked). If the crust is turning too brown cover loosely with foil.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Note: Although the crust is delicious, I am still experimenting on the best way to prepare it since I find the original recipe is too soft to handle. So far I have tried cutting the flour into a chilled butter (like most traditional recipes) - it was a success. Next time I will try in the original way (softened butter) but with only 1 egg and maybe more flour.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Soya Chicken

Soya Chicken
My kids took after my husband, they so love noodle soups especially the ones with egg noodles. So whenever we go to a Chinese restaurant my kids would almost always order noodle soups. It's one way to test if the restaurant is any good. My son would get the braised beef while the girls would more often than not order the soya chicken noodle soup.

This delicious soya chicken dish (sometimes called soy chicken) it involves braising a whole chicken in soy sauce and spices and then hanged to dry and crisp up. You can usually see this hanging with roast ducks and crispy roast pork in Chinese restaurants serving roast meats. It is great with noodles (both the stir-fried and soupy varieties) or simply with steamed rice.

Here is an attempt to re-create soya chicken at home to reduce our visits to noodle restaurants. I did not bother to use a whole chicken and dispensed with the air-drying thing. It is delicious nonetheless.



Soya Chicken

1 cup dark soy sauce
1 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/2 cup packed brown sugar or 1/2 cup Chinese rock sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 whole star anise
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorn - roasted
1 inch fresh ginger - peeled and lightly smashed
1 cinnamon stick
500 g  chicken legs
  1. Combine all ingredients except the chicken in a pot. Bring to boil in medium heat.
  2. Add in the chicken and bring back to boil.
  3. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn or braise chicken with the sauce from time to time.
  4. Turn off heat, cover pot (if not yet covered) and let sit for 1 hour.
  5. Remove chicken from sauce. Cut up into serving pieces and serve with steamed rice or noodles in soup.
Note: The sauce can be re-used. Just re-boil it, strain the spices and discard, cool the sauce completely and then store in a glass or plastic container in the fridge.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest
The November Daring Baker’s challenge took us for a ride! Luisa from Rise of the Sourdough Preacher challenged us to make Paris-Brest, a beautiful pastry celebrating the Paris-Brest bicycle race.

Paris-Brest
This has been in my baking to do list for a very long time so I was glad this challenge came up in the Daring Bakers. It's supposed to represent a bicycle wheel to commemorate the Paris to Brest bicycle race. Well my pastry certainly isn't very round. It's more like oval. But I did have problems in the baking of the choux pastry. After watching it rise wonderfully in the oven it deflated when I took it out. Maybe the oven temperature was too low, maybe the baking time was too short, or I took it out too soon. But it doesn't matter, instead of slicing each of it horizontally for the filling, I just put it on top of the other and I think it's as good as any. :)

Paris-Brest


Paris-Brest

*For the Choux Pastry:
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup + 2 tsp [100ml] whole milk
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
1/3 cup [85 g] butter
100 g  [3/4 cup] plain flour
3 medium eggs - slightly beaten
slivered almonds
extra egg for brushing on top
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F.
  2. In a saucepan, combine milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil on medium heat while stirring with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the flour in one go and stir vigorously. Bring the heat to low and stir continously until the mixture come together into a firm, smooth dough. It must be dry and should come away from the bottom of the saucepan easily.
  4. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  5. Using an electric mixer, add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. The dough will be smooth like a very thick cream.
  6. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Draw 4 1/2-inch circles on the underside of the baking paper to help in piping the circles.
  7. Use a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch (10 mm) nozzle to pipe the pastry. Pipe the pastry dough into two concentric circles tracing the guide you drew previously. Pipe a third circle on top.
  8. Brush all over with the extra beaten egg and sprinkle the slivered almonds.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool inside the oven with the door slightly ajar.
*Note to self: Next time try baking with high heat initially and/or increase baking time.


*For the Praline:
60 g  [1/3 cup] whole almonds
60 g  [1/3 cup] whole hazelnuts
80 g   caster sugar
1 Tbsp water
  1. Gently caramelise the caster sugar in a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  2. Add water and bring to boil.
  3. Add the nuts and stir to coat the nuts with the syrup. At this point the sugar will crystallize again. Continue stirring until the sugar caramelize again.
  4. Immediately transfer the nuts onto a baking sheet grease with oil. Cool completely.
  5. Break up into smaller pieces and grind in a food processor until you have a thick paste.


*For the Creme Mouselline:
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup caster sugar
3 Tbsp plain flour
85 g  [1/3 cup] unsalted butter - softened
80 g  praline
  1. In a heatproof bowl whisk the egg yolks and flour until combined.
  2. Bring the milk to boil in a saucepan on medium heat.
  3. Pour half of the hot milk in the egg yolk-flour mixture while whisking vigorously. Once mixture is well combined, pour it back to the saucepan with the rest of the milk and cook on medium heat while stirring continously.
  4. When mixture is thick and smooth, remove from heat and transfer to another heatproof bowl and cover the cream with cling film touching the cream. This is to prevent a crust to form on top. Let cool completely.
  5. In a bowl, combine the softened butter with the praline until smooth.
  6. Add the cooled pastry cream and mix until well combined.


*To assemble:
  • Slice the baked pastry horizontally.
  • Spread or pipe the creme mouselline on the lower half and then carefully put the top half on.
  • [Optional] Dust with some icing sugar on top.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Rainbow Cake

Rainbow Cake
Last week was my youngest daughter's and my birthday. As by tradition, we had to have a cake and what a cake we made! I was supposed to do this as an entry to the Daring Baker's challenge for July 2014 but I ran out of time. So I was making it up for that by baking this for our birthday.

It was indeed a challenge for me. Seriously, I thought it's one of those experiments that would end up in the rubbish bin. I decided to adapt the recipe of Kerry's fabulous rainbow cake from her blog Kerry Cooks since it is based in a Victoria sponge which I know would guarantee deliciousness. And here was where the first of near misses happened - I said I 'adapted' the recipe which means I used an 8-inch cake pan versus her 6-inch ones. Well, the batter were quite thin when I spread it in the pan and naively I though they would rise evenly. Ha! It rose in the middle and tapered to nothingness towards the edges. They look like small hills complete with bulging boulders on the sides!

Rainbow Cake
The the icing would cover all that up, says moi. But then when I reached for the icing sugar in my pantry there was hardly any in the bag. Drat! Okay, I had to think quickly otherwise my youngest would be really disappointed. What I had in abundance was eggs, sugar, and butter so my light bulb idea was to adapt Corinne's Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting. Gosh I was nervous because it was the very first time I did that. Nevertheless, glorious billowy white buttercream emerged. This one was delicious and not too sweet - definitely my kind of frosting.

The frosting came out all right but as I was slathering it between layers I realised I hardly have enough to cover it well! Oh darn, it must be mercury retrograde since nothing's going right. I had to use every bit of the icing and as precisely as I could to spread on all the cracks and crannies. Thank goodness there was just enough to cover the whole cake.

Those were not my only firsts in this exploit. The lettering on the cake was a first as well. Looking at it now, I guess there's no other alternative for me but to improve. Despite all my trials, the best part was cutting the cake. It was an unexpected delight to see that it had all come together in all its colourful glory. Really fab! Best of all, the cake with the meringue icing combination tasted great - that was according to my daughter. Mission accomplished!


Rainbow Cake


Rainbow Cake

*Batter: (x2)

250 g  self raising flour
250 g  butter - softened
250 g  granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk

gel paste colourings (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple)

Note: Mix two batches of this batter and divide each of them into 3 thereby creating 6 layers.
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Grease three 8-inch round pans.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in vanilla and eggs one at a time; mixing well after each addition.
  4. Add flour and then milk into the butter mixture just enough to mix it in.
  5. Divide equally into three smaller bowls and tint each one with a different colour. Mix the gel colour well in the batter.
  6. Spread batter evenly in the three prepared baking pans.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool 5 minutes in pan and then remove. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. [Optional] Wrap the cooled cake layers in cling film and chill in the fridge for several hours. It is easier to assemble it if the cake layers are chilled or even frozen.


*Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing:

5 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
250 g  unsalted butter - softened but not melting
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of fine salt
  1. In a bowl set on a simmering saucepan of water (bottom not touching the water), whisk egg whites and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. You can test this by feeling a little of the mixture between your fingers. If you can't feel any grittiness then it is done.
  2. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and whip the egg white mixture with an electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks stage.
  3. While still beating, add the softened butter a spoonful at a time.
  4. Once all the butter has been incorporated, add the vanilla and salt.
  5. Mix on high speed until the icing is light and fluffy.

*To assemble:
  • On a cake board or plate, put a thin layer of icing in between cake layers while stacking it on top of each other.
  • Put icing on top and all along the sides of the cake. Decorate as you please.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Chicken Wing Kara-age

My oldest and youngest kids love things Japanese. And that includes watching lifestyle shows in NHK World channel - the only one in our cable subscription that caters for anything Japanese. Well nowadays I'm watching them, too, but as expected mainly the food and cooking shows. One of these is the very informative Dining with Chef. They do step-by-step demonstrations of dishes including a lot of tips and tricks from Chef Tatsuo Saito.

One particular dish I adapted from that show is the fried chicken wings. Wings are my favourite part of a chicken. But to be honest I really only care for the middle section. I'm not particularly fond of the little wing drumettes. So to find this recipe from the Dining with Chef using only the middle section really delighted me. And it's so good especially when paired with the sauce. You should try it with hot steamed rice.


Chicken Wing Kara-age


Chicken Wing Kara-age
(Japanese Fried Chicken Wings)

12 mid-section chicken wings
1 Tbsp sake or rice wine
1 Tbsp soy sauce
plain flour
oil for deep frying

*For the sauce:
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp chopped green onions
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
1/3 cup dashi or chicken stock
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
  1. Dry the chicken wings with kitchen towels. Make a cut between the bones on the underside of the chicken wings - do not cut all the way but at the tip separate the wing bones by cutting through the joint. For illustrations go to the Dining with Chef website.
  2. Combine the sake and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix in the prepared chicken wings and marinate for about 30 minutes.
  3. Dredge wings in flour and deep fry in oil heated to 180°C/350°F for about 4 minutes or until crispy.
  4. Serve hot or warm with the sauce.

*Sauce:
  1. Saute the green onions and ginger in the sesame oil in a pan. Cook until aromatic.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Bring to boil then lower heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Chicken Wing Kara-age

Thursday, 16 October 2014

World Bread Day 2014: Potato Bread Rolls

World Bread Day 2014 (submit your loaf on October 16, 2014)The lovely Zorra of Kochtopf is again hosting the World Bread Day 2014 food blog event. An annual virtual gathering of food bloggers to celebrate anything to do with bread.

For my entry, I'm harking back to the very first bread I ever successfully baked. When I started baking more than two decades ago I got really stressed when baking with yeast (well nowadays I still get a little anxious). I think it's the worry that the dough won't rise that I constantly peek while it is proving. This might have contributed to my first few attempts at bread making to fail. So when I saw the Make-Ahead Potato Bread Rolls in my beloved hardbound Betty Crocker cookbook, I lost no time in trying it. See, in that recipe the rising is not done in a warm place but in the fridge - overnight! How great is that? No more stressing, hand wringing and peeking to see if the dough rose at all. Anyway, the bake was successful but I never got to bake that bread again until now more than 25 years later.

Potato Bread Rolls

One thing I only remembered now is that the shaping of the dough into balls can be a bit hard. They would not follow easily the shape I want. Maybe I should let it come to room temperature first before shaping? I'll find out next time. There's also one thing I remembered - how delicious it is especially when warmed. My youngest daughter loved it so much she slathered it with strawberry jam - one of the few times I saw her do that. This is a definite keeper of a recipe.



Potato Bread Rolls

1 package [2 1/4 tsp] active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup unseasoned mashed potato
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2/3 cup butter - softened
7 - 7 1/2 cups plain flour
  1. In a bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water together with 2 tsp of the sugar. Set aside. It should foam and bubble after 10 minutes. If it did not, this means the yeast is dead so discard the mixture and start again with a new batch of yeast.
  2. Add the sugar, potatoes, eggs, butter, salt and 3 cups of the flour. Mix with electric mixer on low speed until smooth.
  3. Add in enough of the rest of the flour to make the dough easy to handle. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes of until smooth and springy.
  4. Grease a bowl and place dough in it. Turn dough to grease all over. Cover tightly with cling film and let rise in the fridge for at least 8 hours but not more than 5 days.
  5. Punch dough gently and knead for a few turns. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces for loaf and 4 equal pieces for rolls.

*For small dinner rolls:
  • Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Arrange on a greased baking sheet 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1-2 hours).
  • Brush with melted butter or egg wash (beaten egg with 1 Tbsp water or milk).
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F for 15-20 minutes.

*For clover leaf rolls:
  • Grease muffin pans. Shape into 2-inch balls and put in the muffin pans. Using scissors, cut balls into halves and then into fourths.
  • Brush with melted butter and let rise in a warm place until double (1-2 hours).
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F for 15 minutes.

Potato Bread Rolls


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Bitterballen

The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was brought to us by Andrea from 4pure. She introduced us to one of her family favorites which is soon to become one of yours, too. Welcome to the world of Dutch Bitterballen!

Actually before I made these Dutch treats I haven't tried nor heard about bitterballen. But it's not foreign to most people - it is a variant of a deep-fried croquette. I did the cheese bitterballen and was gearing up to make the prawn version but I ran out of time for the deadline. You can head to the Daring Kitchen's website for the recipes of the beef and prawn renditions of this delicious snack.

I froze my bitterballen for deep-frying a week later. They froze rather nicely.

frozen bitterballen

As instructed by Andrea, you have to add 1 minute to the deep-frying time for frozen bitterballen. It was delicious! Although next time I would do the egg dip and breadcrumbs at least twice to make the breaded crust thicker and crunchier. Plus also making the balls smaller - perhaps 3/4-inch in diameter only. I would prefer more starch/crust in the crust-cheese ratio to make it less rich. All these personal changes are reflected in the recipe below.

Cheese Bitterballen

Everyone in the family loved it including my youngest who was busy speed reading the very recently released book of her favourite novel series.

Cheese Bitterballen snack


Cheese Bitterballen

1/2 cup [125 g] butter
3/4 cup [110 g] plain flour
2 cups [500 ml] full-fat milk
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup [80 ml] single cream (light cream)
2 tsp gelatine
80 g  hard cheese (parmesan, grana padano, pecorino, etc.) - grated
80 g  soft cheese (brie, camembert, cream cheese, etc.) - sliced into small pieces
80 g  matured cheddar - grated
salt and pepper

*For the breading:
plain flour
2 eggs - beaten
dry breadcrumbs
  1. Melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Add flour all at once and stir to cook for 3 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add milk and bring to boil while stirring continously.
  4. Bring heat to lowest and simmer for about 10 minutes stirring from time to time.
  5. While it is simmering, dissolve gelatin with about 2 Tbsp water. Set aside.
  6. Add nutmeg. Taste sauce and add appropriate amount of salt (about 1/2 tsp) and pepper.
  7. Stir in the cheese until well mixed in the sauce.
  8. Add in the dissolved gelatine and stir until well combined.
  9. Remove from heat and spread out the sauce in a baking dish or plate.
  10. Cool for about 30-60 minutes then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

*Breading:
  1. After refrigeration, the mixture would have hardened. With a spoon, scoop out enough cheese mixture to form into a 3/4 - 1-inch ball.
  2. Roll the ball in the plain flour; then dip in the beaten egg; then roll in the breadcrumbs. (The breading may be repeated if you want a thicker crust.) Do the same for the rest of the mixture.
  3. Rest the breaded balls on a plate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  4. At this point you may freeze the bitterballen if you wish.

*Deep frying:
  1. Heat at least 3/4-inch of oil in a heavy saucepan to 180°C/350°F.
  2. Deep fry the bitterballen for 3-4 minutes until golden. (For frozen bitterballen, add 1 more minute in cooking time.)
  3. Serve warm with mustard or chutney.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Kolach

The September Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Lucie from ChezLucie. She challenged us to make a true Czech treat –Kolaches!

Quite an interesting challenge considering I've never tried kolach before. So how was it? Well, as of posting time it is still cooling on a wire rack and I only tried a little portion without the cream filling. It was a bit bland though springy and soft which makes it perfect for some sweet or creamy filling. I was intrigued by the mayonnaise in the recipe but if you think about it mayonnaise is made up of oil, eggs, and vinegar or lemon juice. These ingredients are ubiquitous in cakes and breads so I was not surprised it worked.

A number of tweaks were done in the recipe such as reducing the size of the bread itself, added more baking time, and halved the streusel topping. Otherwise, it is a great recipe as an introduction to the world of kolaches!


Prague Kolach

Prague Kolach

*Cake:
250 g  [1 3/4 cups] plain flour
7 g  active dry yeast
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
5 Tbsp milk - warmed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 egg - slightly beaten
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

*Streusel topping:
3 Tbsp plain flour
2 Tbsp caster sugar (superfine)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter - chilled

*For finishing:
1 egg - beaten

*Cream filling:
2 cups full-fat milk - divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup custard powder (vanilla pudding powder)
1/4 cup unsalted butter - room temperature
5 Tbsp double cream - chilled

*For cake:
  1. In a large bowl, sift flour and make a hole in the middle.
  2. Pour the yeast, 1 tsp of the sugar, and 1 Tbsp of the warm milk in the hole. Lightly mix the yeast, sugar and milk with a fork and sprinkle the surface with a little flour.
  3. Cover the bowl with kitchen towel and let rise for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead with dough hook or by hand until you have a smooth dough (about 10 minutes).
  5. Lift the dough from bowl. Lightly flour the bottom of the bowl and set the dough on it. Cover with clingfilm or towel and let rise for an hour until double its volume.
  6. Punch dough and knead a little. Form the dough into a ball and place onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
  7. Press the dough with your hands to shape it to a disc about 7 inches (18 cm) in diameter and 3/4-1 inch thick (2-2.5 cm). Cover with clingfilm and let rise for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C/fan 140°C.
  9. Brush top of the cake with the beaten egg. Sprinkle the streusel topping generously.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Cut the cooled cake crosswise and spread the cream onto the bottom half. Cover with the upper half.

*For the streusel:
  1. Combine the flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  2. Cut in the chilled butter in the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until crumbly.

*For the cream:
  1. Mix 1/2 cup of the milk with the custard powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan mix the rest of the milk and sugar and bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Add the custard powder mixture and simmer for 3-5 minutes while stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl of your electric mixer and cool completely while blending at low speed.
  5. Add diced butter and beat until well mixed in.
  6. Whip the double cream in a separate bowl into stiff peaks. Fold in the custard mixture into the double cream.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

White Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is more on the periodically running saga of using up ingredients about to expire. We had several bars of excellent Cailler baking white chocolate from my sister in Switzerland. It was expiring at the end of last month so we had to think of a way of using it very quickly! Fortunately, the cookie recipe we found in the Nestle website was really spot on. And it was so easy that my youngest was able to do all by herself. I think we just made a few adjustment on some ingredients and reduced the cooking time. Other than that it was really really good and delicious especially for a first time bake by a 13-year-old.


White Chocolate Chip Cookies


White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup [250 g] butter - softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups plain flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda [baking soda]
1/4 tsp fine salt
2 cups [350 g] white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F.
  2. [Optional] Grease and line baking sheets.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Cream butter and both sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy - about 5 minutes.
  5. Add vanilla and the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Mix in the flour mixture in batches into the butter mixture.
  7. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the white chocolate chips until well combined.
  8. Form into balls, about 1-inch in diameter, then arrange on the baking sheets making sure to leave enough room between for it to expand.
  9. Bake for 11-12 minutes.
  10. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then remove and cool completely on wire racks.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Hummus

Hummus
With the aid of a food processor, this a very easy thing to whip up. Hummus is one of my all-time favourite snack dip. And now that I've got a recipe that I adapted from Angela Nielsen's The Ultimate Recipe Book you can be sure this will be a regular on our table.

As for the recipe, it was good as it is even without the yoghurt (I didn't have one at the time) but it would have been better if I reduced the garlic (too overpowering) and the reserved brine (to make it thicker). So all of these are reflected in the adjusted recipe below. Otherwise, it was simply delicious especially with crudites, tortillas, and pita breads.



Hummus

1 x 400 g  tin can of chickpeas
1 garlic clove - peeled and chopped roughly
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 Tbsp plain natural yoghurt (optional)
  1. Drain chickpeas from can and reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid.
  2. Transfer the chickpeas and reserved liquid into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Scrape the sides if needed.
  3. Add in all the other ingredients and process again until completely smooth. Taste then adjust salt and lemon juice according to personal preference.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Mini M&M Cookies

Mini M&M Cookies
Look, a yummy cookie recipe with only 5 ingredients! How's that for simplicity? I was trying to find a cookie recipe that would include M&M chocolates instead of the usual chocolate chips. The allrecipes website turned up with this gem of a recipe that not only is simple to make but is scrumptiously delicious, too. Plus, it does not use eggs so perfect for those with egg allergies. It was a definite thumbs up from the kids. We did change the volume, however, as in cut it in half since we don't really need that much cookies.


Mini M&M Cookies


Mini M&M Cookies

250 g  butter - softened to room temperature
125 g  caster sugar (superfine)
200 g  condensed milk (half of a 397 g  can)
312 g  self-raising flour - sifted
250 g   chocolate M&Ms
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Grease baking trays.
  2. Beat together butter, sugar and condensed milk until light and creamy.
  3. Add flour and mix until well combined.
  4. Stir in the M&Ms with a wooden spoon and mix well.
  5. Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls (about 3/4 inch in diameter).
  6. Place on prepared trays and flatten slightly with a fork.
  7. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly golden.
  8. Cool in the tray for 5 minutes then remove and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Coiled Delight

Baked Ensaymada
The August Daring Bakers' Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by Kurtoskalacs, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!

Actually, the challenge was to do either the kurtoskalacs or the ensaymada. Naturally, I chose ensaymada - the Filipino version that is. This recipe from my sister-in-law (Ate Eva) has been in my to-do list for years! I finally had a good kick in the butt to do it.

The ensaymada of my childhood were very much like the original Spanish version. They were coiled flat and more flaky with lard often used for this purpose. Sometimes there were nuggets of raisins in it that were like little oasis of delight in my juvenile mouth. Yum! Nowadays, the modern Filipino ensaymada are more brioche-like. In fact some of them are so rich they resemble cakes more than a pastry. Nevertheless, they are equally wonderful and great as a midday snack. As with most things in Filipino food, the modern ensaymada combines the buttery sweet taste of the butter-sugar topping with the saltiness of the grated cheese so you get that familiar salty-sweet flavour with the soft pillow-like pastry.

Ensaymada resting
This recipe is indeed a challenge for me. I am not very experienced with pastry so when the dough came out very very sticky after the first rising, it took me a looong time to get it to a manageable state with all the kneading and adding of more flour. In the end it was still sticky but did not cling too much when handled. I think I'll reduce the liquid a lot the next time I bake this. This particular recipe is not the 'special' ensaymada variety they call in the Philippines. That one has *a lot* of eggs and butter which make it more cake-like and quite rich. Ate Eva's is less rich and more bread-like. As a matter of fact, when I tasted the finished product bare without any toppings I thought it was okayish. But when you combine it with slathered soft butter, sugar, and grated cheese on top it was great! Exactly what I intended to make.

Ensaymada out of the oven
As a note to myself, this is the actual recipe from my SIL (with some adjustments in some ingredients and more elaborate procedure steps). And it makes a ton of ensaymada! It roughly makes about 30 medium-sized ensaymada and probably double that for the muffin-sized ones. In which case I believe this can be done with just a third of the recipe if only to keep me from eating ensaymadas for weeks!
The freezer is my friend now.

Baked Ensaymada


Ensaymada

*Yeast mixture:
3/4 cup lukewarm water
3 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar

*Dough mixture:
6 1/2 cups strong flour (bread flour)
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter
3 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cooking oil

*Topping:
butter - softened to room temperature
granulated sugar
grated cheddar cheese or edam
  1. Mix the yeast mixture in a small bowl, cover and set aside. After about 15 minutes it should start to foam. If it didn't that means your yeast is probably old. In that case, throw away the mixture and start again. If you are using instant, rapid-action, or fast-action dry yeast you can skip this step and add the yeast and sugar directly with the flour and the water with the other wet ingredients.
  2. Combine the flour with the sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In separate bowl, mix the melted butter, egg yolks, and vanilla.
  4. Add in the milk. Mix well.
  5. With a wooden spoon or with a mixer on low speed, stir in the milk mixture and the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Combine well.
  6. Add in the cooking oil and mix until well combined.
  7. Cover and let it rest to rise in a warm area for about 1 hour or until double the size.
  8. Punch down dough and turn out onto a well-floured surface.
  9. Knead the dough while adding more flour. In the end it should be soft and sticky but should come away from fingers when kneading.
  10. Prepare the baking moulds by brushing the bottom and sides with softened butter.
  11. Divide into portions - 75-80 g  for medium-sized ensaymada and 25-30 g  for small ones.
  12. On a greased surface, roll out each portion thin into a rectangle shape and brush generously with softened butter or with your choice of fillings - cheese, chocolate, ham, etc.
  13. Roll portion from the long side into a thin log (about 1/2-inch or less in diameter).
  14. Coil the rolled dough into a spiral shape inside the prepared moulds taking care to tuck in the outer end.
  15. Cover loosely with tea towel and let rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours. They will double in size again.
  16. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F for about 18-20 minutes for medium-sized ensaymada.
  17. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  18. Put toppings - slather softened butter then press top onto a small bowl full of sugar then sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Baked Ensaymada

Friday, 22 August 2014

Ludlow Food Festival - Do It On A Budget

Ludlow, set in the beautiful county of Shropshire is the perfect setting for one of the most popular and well respected food festivals the UK has - the Ludlow Food Festival. It’s been in existence since 1995 and in the twenty years since its inception, it’s been the ideal place to visit for those with more than a passing interest in good food, drink and excellent company – all with a local slant.

The event takes place in historic Ludlow Castle, which although built during the very early medieval period is probably best known for the fact that Catherine of Aragon lived there with her first husband, the future King Henry VIII’s older brother, Prince Arthur at the turn of the 16th Century. The rich history of its past blends perfectly with the present and makes it an ideal setting for such a great weekend.

Visiting a food festival as lovely as Ludlow can be made all the better if you plan ahead, especially with regard to money! It can be all too easy to pay a visit to an event like this and overspend without really realising it. One of the best ways of managing your money is to make sure you decide on your budget before you go – draw out the requisite amount of cash to take with you and leave your credit or debit cards at home. This makes it easier to plan and to have fun without worrying you’ll have bled your bank account dry.

This year the festival will take place on the 12-14 of September 2014. A few years ago, I was fortunate to attend it for a day. I enjoyed that visit immensely so next month I hope I'll be there again to sample the foodie delights this food festival can offer. It's just a matter of deciding which day to go!


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Baked Pasta with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Baked Pasta with Chicken

This month, the Daring Cooks challenged us to think inside the box - the icebox, that is! Audax taught us some really cool tips and tricks for stocking our freezers with prepare-ahead meals that can keep our taste buds satisfied even during the busiest of times.

Apart from the Mac and Cheese, I've never done a baked pasta dish with white sauce. I thought this will be a good test if white sauces freeze well. And it really does. Thanks is in order to Martha Stewart's website for the recipe that I adapted. It just needed a little tweaking in salt and pepper department plus extra cheese to prevent the sauce getting too bland. This recipe also confirmed my dislike for chicken breast. Believe me, it didn't do anything to the dish in terms of flavour. It was just there as a cardboard-like protein but virtually no chicken flavour. I even bought a free-range one but it was just ... meh! So next time either I add in non-breast chicken meat or maybe put in some chicken powder in the sauce. This recipe is definitely still in the tweaking stage so don't be surprised if there are changes later. However, I do love the garlic in the sauce that really lifted it up from the ordinary.


Baked Pasta with Chicken ready to freeze


Baked Pasta with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes

500 g  penne rigate or rigatoni
6 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup plain flour
6 cups whole milk
2 tsp coarse sea salt
450 g  boneless chicken meat - cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp olive oil
300 g  white mushrooms - trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes - drained and thinly sliced
2 cups grated provolone or matured cheddar
125 g  [about 1 cup] finely grated parmesan
some salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook the pasta 3 minutes short of package instructions. So if it says cook for 12 minutes then cook for just 9 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Grease ovenproof pasta dishes and set aside.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour in olive oil, heat for a minute then add the chicken. Season with some salt and pepper and cook until opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. In a 5-liter heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat.
  5. Add garlic, cook for about 1 minute or until aromatic.
  6. Add flour, whisk for 1 minute.
  7. Gradually add 2 cups of milk while whisking all the time. Bring to a simmer. Repeat this until all milk is used.
  8. Add 1 tsp of the sea salt. Simmer for another 2 minutes.
  9. Add the mushroom and sun-dried tomatoes; cook for 1 minute.
  10. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the provolone (or cheddar) and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
  11. Taste the sauce. If need be, add the remaining 1 tsp sea salt and some ground black pepper.
  12. Add the chicken and pasta to the sauce. Divide among the prepared dishes and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
  13. Bake uncovered in a preheated 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F oven for about 25 minutes.
*Note:
  • To freeze: do up to step no. 12. Cover tightly with cling wrap and/or foil and freeze up to 3 months.
  • To bake from frozen: Preheat oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F and bake covered in foil on a baking sheet until centre is hot, around 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
    *OR*
    Defrost completely and follow baking instructions in step no. 13 above.


Baked Pasta with Chicken

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

American Potato Salad

American Potato Salad
It's summer and it's barbecue time. That means potato salads are very much in demand in our household nowadays. This one that I adapted from Cook's Illustrated's The New Best Recipe cookbook is like any ordinary potato salad except it's made so much better with the addition of vinegar while the potatoes are still warm. It permeates the starchy potatoes and gives it so much more flavour. If you leave it in the fridge for a few hours before serving the flavour improves further.


American Potato Salad

1 kg  salad or waxy potatoes (Charlotte, Jersey, etc.) - scrubbed clean
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 medium hard boiled eggs - peeled and diced
1 celery rib - minced
2 Tbsp minced red onion
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp minced fresh parsley leaves
  1. Put potatoes in a pot and add enough water to cover up to 1-inch above the potatoes.
  2. Bring to boil; turn down heat and simmer potatoes until done (a knife poked in the middle would easily pierce all the way through). This would take around 15-20 minutes for small potatoes and 25-30 minutes for medium ones.
  3. Drain and leave to cool just enough to peel and cut into large chunks.
  4. Toss in vinegar, salt , pepper. It is important to add in the vinegar while the potatoes are very warm so that it will absorb it well.
  5. Cover and cool completely (about 20 minutes). You may put this in the fridge while cooling.
  6. Add all other ingredients, toss to mix well, and season more with salt and ground black pepper if needed.
  7. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for next day serving.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Bibimbap

Bibimbap
Bibimbap-alula she's my baby ...

This is the longest recipe I've ever typed in this blog. I never knew something so homely can involve a lot of work! But I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the eating so much more. I've heared about this intriguing dish from American friends and family and in a lot of food magazines. So it was a delight to find out that this was our next task in the Daring Kitchen.

The July Daring Cooks' Challenge took us to Korea, where Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado taught us to make bibimbap. This colorful rice dish can be customized to meet any taste, and is as much fun to eat as it is to say!

The traditional Dolsot Bibimbap involves a heated stone bowl which my kitchen definitely do not have. So the alternative is use warmed bowls which was quite sufficient as evident in the recipe that I adapted from Bon Apetit. I did not do the crunchy rice step because we're definitely not fans of tutong. My husband and I really enjoyed eating this sort of Korean hot salad and I was pleasantly surprised with the gochujang (Korean chili paste). It's not as scorchingly spicy hot as I imagined it would be. For me, the best part of this is the bulgogi. It's the one thing that I would definitely keep making over and over again. But with everything else considered I think it will take quite sometime before I make all of these again. There's just a lot of little things to do including a lot of washing up!



Bibimbap ingredients


Home-style Bibimbap

Marinate the bulgogi and prepare all the rest of the listed ingredients listed here.
Then proceed to the assembly section.


Bulgogi:
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup finely grated Asian pear with juices (about 1 pear)
2 green onions - thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves - minced
1 Tbsp demerara or brown sugar
2 tsp grated ginger
500 g  very thinly sliced boneless beef (rib-eye steak or short ribs)
  • Mix all ingredients, except the beef, in a bowl until combined.
  • Marinate beef in the mixture for at least 3 hours or overnight.


Sesame Oil Mix:
6 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Combine all to mix and set aside.


Sesame Bean Sprouts:
6 cups of bean spouts
gochugaru or ground chili
1 Tbsp sesame oil mix
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
  2. Add the bean sprouts and bring it back to boil.
  3. Once it boils again, remove and drain. Plunge in cold water to stop cooking.
  4. Drain well and let drip for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a bowl or contained and sprinkle the sesame oil mix and gochugaru; toss to coat.


Sesame Carrots:
4 medium carrots - juliened into matchstick size
1 Tbsp sesame oil mix
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add in the sesame oil mix and carrots.
  • Cook while stirring occasionally until just tender (about 3-4 minutes).


Soy-Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms:
3 cups of dried shiitake mushrooms
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp demerara or brown sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp toasted sesame seed
freshly ground black pepper
  • Put the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat medium-low and simmer until mushrooms are softened and all liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes).
    If the liquid is drying out but the mushrooms are not yet done, add a few tablespoons of water and continue cooking.
  • Cool the mushrooms a little. Remove stems then slice thinly.
  • Transfer to a bowl then add in the sesame seed and black pepper. Toss to mix.


Garlicky Spinach:
500 g  fresh spinach
2 Tbsp sesame oil mix
2 garlic cloves - minced
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp distilled white or rice vinegar
  1. Cook the spinach in a pot of boiling water.
  2. Once it boils again, remove and drain.
  3. Plunge into cold water to stop the cooking.
  4. Drain well and squeeze out excess water.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  6. Add sesame oil mix and saute the garlic until fragrant.
  7. Add the soy sauce and vinegar. Stir to mix.
  8. Add the cooked spinach and stir to mix. Separate the spinach as much as you can while mixing. Cook just enough to combine it well (about 1-2 minutes).


Sauteed Courgette:
1 medium courgette - julienned into matchstick size
1 Tbsp sesame oil mix
gochugaru or ground chili
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add sesame oil mix and courgette.
  • Cook, while stirring occasionally, until just tender (about 3-4 minutes). Season with gochugaru.


Green Onion Slaw:
2 bunches green onions - julienned into 3-inch lengths
1 Tbsp sesame oil mix
1 Tbsp distilled white or rice vinegar
gochugaru or ground chili
  • Place green onions in a bowl of ice-cold water (to crisp).
  • Just before serving, combined sesame oil mix and vinegar in a bowl.
  • Drain and pat dry the green onions then add in the vinegar mix. Toss to coat.


Wakame:
30 g  wakame (dried seaweed)
  • Cover wakame with boiling water and let sit until softened (about 10 minutes).
  • Drain, squeeze out excess water, and coarsely chop.


Gochujang-Date Sauce:
5 Medjool dates - pitted
1 cup gojuchang (hot pepper paste)
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Put the dates in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak until softened (about 15 minutes).
  • Drain and transfer dates in a food processor with the gochujang and sesame oil.
  • Puree until smooth. Set aside.


Rice:
500 g  [2 1/2 cups] sushi rice
3 cups water
  • Wash and rinse rice until the water runs clear.
  • Add in 3 cups of water and bring to boil on high heat.
  • Once it boils, reduce heat to lowest and simmer until all the water has evaporated (about 15-20 minutes).
  • Turn off heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes.


Assembly:

4 big ceramic bowls - warmed
Cooked rice
Bulgogi
cooking oil
4 fried eggs - sunny side up
kimchi (optional)
vegetable mix-ins prepared in advance - Sesame Bean Sprouts, Sesame Carrots, Garlicky Spinach, Soy-Glazed Mushrooms, Sauteed Courgette, Green Onion Slaw, Wakame, Gochujang-Date Sauce
  • Heat 1/2 Tbsp cooking oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan (preferably non-stick).
  • Cook the bulgogi in batches, turning once until cooked through and browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Divide rice among the bowls.
  • Put one fried egg in the middle on top of the rice.
  • Arrange the bulgogi and the prepared vegetables and sauce around it.
  • Serve with kimchi (optional).

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Lemon Fudge Bars

Fudgy Lemon Bar
Well well well, looks like the recipe I've been tweaking for the last 4 years has finally made it to this blog. It's not that bad really. I probably tried this once a year so that makes them about 4 tries. The original recipe that I adapted came from a cookbook called Brownies & Bars by Liz Franklin. I'm a sucker for gorgeous pictures of food and the accompanying photos of it makes it really look so scrumptious. That's the main reason why I didn't give up on it besides the fact the I wanted a dessert that's not plain vanilla nor chocolate flavoured.

I determined early on that it needed a lot of tweaks. For one, the pan size was too small. Then the cooking time is way too short. Maybe even the temperature needs tweaking. Other than that the recipe stands as it is. I really prefer this over the Lemon Bars where the filling can be quite cloyingly rich. This one is just right making it very moreish.


Fudgy Lemon Bar


Lemon Fudge Bars

*Shortbread base:
200 g  [1 1/3 cups] plain flour
100 g  [1/2 cup + 1/3 cup] cornflour (cornstarch)
100 g  [1/2 cup] caster sugar (superfine)
200 g  [3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp] butter - softened to room temperature

*Lemon Fudge Filling:
4 eggs
600 ml  [2 cups + 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp] double cream (heavy cream)
300 g  [1 1/2 cups] caster sugar (superfine)
100 g  [2/3 cup] plain flour
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons) - strained
zest of three lemons (optional)


*For shortbread base:
  1. Mix the plain flour and cornflour in a bowl.
  2. Cut in the butter into the mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the sugar and knead the mixture together to form a smooth, soft dough.
  4. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

*For filling and to assemble:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Remove dough from fridge and roll out or pat level into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden in colour.
  4. While the base is baking, mix the eggs, cream, and sugar together.
  5. Add the lemon juice and zest (if using) and whisk until smooth.
  6. Add the flour a little at a time while whisking and mix until well combined.
  7. Once the base is done baking, pull out the oven rack with the baking pan halfway and immediately pour the lemon-cream mixture on it.
  8. Push the baking pan back in the oven and continue baking for about 45-50 minutes or until the topping is set.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Maltesers Cupcakes

Malteser's Cupcake

I wanted to make something different for the latest cake sale in my youngest daughter's school. So I went hunting for a recipe of Maltesers cupcake. There were quite a number in the internet and I chose Amy Jones' of She Cooks She Eats food blog. Thanks Amy for this scrumptious cupcake. I just tweaked it a little here and there to fit our taste. But for a first time bake it was fabulous! It would have been better if I had the proper piping nozzle for the icing. As you can see, I smeared it on using only a spoon which isn't so bad though it could have looked as good as Amy's.


Malteser's Cupcakes


Maltesers Cupcakes

175 g  butter - softened
175 g  caster sugar
175 g  self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 medium eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp Ovaltine or Horlicks
2 Tbsp milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Grease or line muffin pans.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and Ovaltine in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
  5. Add vanilla, mix well.
  6. Add in the flour mixture - beat just enough to make batter smooth.
  7. Divide batter among the prepared muffin tins filling them up to 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  10. Decorate cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Icing and top with a Maltesers each.


Milk Chocolate Icing

100 g  milk chocolate
125 g  butter - softened
200-300 g  icing sugar (about 1 1/2 - 2 cups) - sifted
2-3 Tbsp cocoa powder (optional) - sifted
2-3 Tbsp milk
bag of Maltesers
  1. Very gently melt the milk chocolate on a double boiler. Watch carefully, if you see that the chocolate is getting lumpy at the bottom remove from double boiler and stir like crazy to keep it melted and not clumpy.
  2. Leave to cool slightly.
  3. Beat the butter until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the icing sugar in batches beating well after each addition.
  5. Pour in the melted chocolate and cocoa (if using), beat and mix well.
  6. Beat in milk adding just enough to make the icing smooth.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Father's Day Devil's Food Cake

Devil's Food Cake
It's one of those weekends where you want to bake something for the sake of trying a recipe. Father's Day Sunday was one of those excuses for the trialling a Devil's Food Cake - also known as a dark rich layered chocolate cake. Even though the husband is not fond of cakes I still went ahead. ;)

This recipe came from an old ripped page from Saveur magazine which I've tried before just not with the icing. They titled it "Aunt Fan's Devil Food Cake". The cake itself is very good and rich enough for our endeavour. The icing sugar (confectioner's to some of you) was halved but I still find it too sweet. So I was wondering what it would be like with 6 cups of icing sugar! *shudder* I further reduced it to 2 cups but I'll find out when I try it again if I have to reduce further. The other problem I had was the size of the pans. It did not say that you should use high-sided pans and all I had were two 1-inch high layer pans. Maybe it could have risen higher if I had the right pans.



Like all popular recipes there are hundreds, if not thousands, of versions of this scrumptious cake. I would venture with other renditions later but for now here is my adapted recipe from Saveur.




Devil's Food Cake

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/4 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups plain flour - sifted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter - softened
2 cups light brown sugar - tightly packed
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
170 g  dark chocolate (70%) - melted and slightly cooled
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/325°F. Grease and line two deep 8-inch (20 cm) round baking pans (sides should be at at least 2 inches high).
  2. Combine and stir together the bicarbonate of soda with the boiling water in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix the flour and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. In a big bowl, beat the butter with the brown sugar until fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  6. Beat in the buttermilk and flour mixture alternately in 3 batches.
  7. Add the bicarbonate of soda mixture and melted chocolate and beat until smooth.
  8. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.
  9. Bake until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean - about 45-55 minutes.
  10. Set cake pans on a rack to cool. Remove from pans.
  11. Place 1 cake on a plate and spread about 1 cup of the icing on top.
  12. Put the 2nd cake on top and spread the remaining icing on top and all around the cakes.


Chocolate Buttercream Icing

1/2 cup butter - softened or melted
1/2 cup double cream (heavy cream)
2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's) - sifted
1/4 cup cocoa powder - sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Put all ingredients in a bowl and beat until fluffy and well combined.


In this last picture the cake has spent the last 24 hours in the fridge so the icing did not look glossy anymore. But it's still scrumptiously good!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Tofu with Coriander


This is an old recipe of my husband's family. They love tofu (tokwa) very much and he loves fresh coriander in dishes. So it was inevitable that they are combined for this tasty serving. Freshly boiled rice is great with this family-style Filipino dish. I bet it's my late mother-in-law who came up with the idea. She was quite inventive in cooking for family.

It is important to stir the dish very gently once the tofu is added. Mashed up tofu will not make this dish visually appealing.



Tofu with Coriander

125 g  belly pork - sliced thin*
2 tsp cooking oil
350 g  firm tofu (about 2 squares) - cubed
1 tsp minced garlic
1 medium onion - sliced
1 medium tomato - sliced
1 tsp sea salt or 2 tsp patis (fish sauce)
freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup water or chicken stock
1 cup chopped fresh coriander - reserve about 1-2 Tbsp for garnish
  1. In a wok or pot, cook the pork with about 1/3 cup of water. Simmer until the water has evaporated and pork is rendering fat. Add the oil and fry the pork in low-medium heat until golden brown.
  2. Push the fried pork to one side. Saute the garlic and onion until onion is soft.
  3. Add the tomato. Stir and cook until tomato is soft.
  4. Stir back in the pork to the middle. Add the salt or patis and black pepper, then stir to combine all.
  5. Add the tofu and carefully stir to mix it in. Cook in low-medium heat for about 2 minutes.
  6. Pour in the chicken stock or water, bring to boil then lower heat to simmer for about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Add the coriander and carefully stir to combine everything.
  8. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  9. Dish up and sprinkle with the rest of the fresh coriander.
*Note: You may also use raw prawns or shrimps instead of pork.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Mama Pho

It's my third time in this small Vietnamese restaurant and it still gush about its food especially their pho. The soup base is simply the best I've tasted anywhere in UK. And its other dishes are no slouches as well. The only downside is its location in the depths of Deptford. Not exactly the most accessible part of south London.

My family would agree that this is my kind of eating place - small (almost like a canteen), friendly service, reasonable price, and most of all fantastic flavours in all their dishes. They have the kind of flavour that I was expecting from a Southeast Asian restaurant - bold, strong, with lots of combination of taste - sour-salty, sweet-salty-spicy, sweet-sour-salty-spicy, etc. For me, the balance of different flavours in strong doses is the cornerstone of SE Asian cuisine. Especially for Filipino food, the need for strong flavours in our dishes is important to balance out the relative blandness of rice which for me is really the centre of the Filipino cuisine.

Here are some pictures in our last visit:





All noodle soup orders come with this salad of fresh herbs, beansprouts, chilli, and limes.




We ordered Cha Gio (fried spring rolls) as starter.




Husband ordered Pho Tai Chin, a combination of well-done and rare slices of beef on flat rice noodle soup. Our son thought the soup was salty but both me and my husband find it full-bodied and just right.




For me this is the star among the phos here - Pho Ga or chicken noodle soup. The soup base is simply superb and all with sliced chicken meat and flat rice noodles then topped with green and crispy onions.




I had this Com Tam Cha Bi which is Vietnamese meat pie (kinda like meatloaf) and shredded pork skin with rice. The meat pie was great especially in combination with the spicy fish sauce. But I was not a fan of the pork skin. I thought it was crispy but it was soft and kinda limp. As usual I gave it to my food hoover husband since I was not keen on it.




This is Che Sun Sa which is a sweet coconut based drink with coloured jellies and I think sweet corn or something that looked like it. Yummy!


On previous visits I also ordered BBQ chicken with rice and it was fab as well. My kids loved the soup base in Mama Pho and agreed that theirs is probably better than any Vietnamese and Chinese that we have tried before. But they were not keen on the flat rice noodles. *sigh* They still prefer the eggs noodles of the Chinese restos. I think next time it will just be me and the husband who will come back. But hey, less competition for food is mighty fine with me! Their loss not mine. ;)


Mama Pho
24 Evelyn Street
Deptford
London SE8 5DG

Tel No.: 0208 305 6649