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.

  • 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.
    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.
    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.
    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.

Double Crust Apple Pie

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

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

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.