Monday, 21 December 2015

Rocky Road

Rocky Road
Here's one very simple sweets recipe that's very much welcome all year round especially during the holidays. My youngest was especially proud of this since she did most of this for her Girl Guides confectioner's badge. Granting that was more than 4 years ago, this post took sometime to publish I have to admit.

Some versions of rocky road involves biscuits both in chunks and crumbs. We prefer this version adapted from 101 Cakes & Bakes by BBC GoodFood magazine where no biscuits mar the beauty and deliciousness of chocolates, nuts, marshmallows plus our preferred Maltesers.


Rocky Road


Rocky Road

500 g  milk or dark chocolate - broken into pieces
10 marshmallows - cut into small pieces*
85 g  pecans, walnuts, or almonds (or combination) - roughly chopped
200 g  Maltesers (optional)
  1. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cool a little.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients, mix well.
  3. Pour mixture into an 8-inch (20 cm) square baking pan lined with baking paper.
    Leave to set for around 2 hours.
  4. Remove from baking pan and cut into 1-inch squares with a knife dipped in hot water and wiped.
Note: You may add biscuits, dried fruits, and other things that may take your fancy.

Rocky Road

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Chocolate Surprise Cake

'Twas my birthday and the kids decided to bake something for me. How nice! They were thinking of doing the Chocolate Date Fudge Cake. But I told them that it's too complicated for beginners like them and just steered to something simpler. They came up with this keeper of a recipe from Sue Lawrence's Book of Baking.

Why is it called a 'surprise' cake? Well, it's got mayonnaise in it! At first I thought it was odd but come to think of it - mayonnaise consists of eggs and oil which is precisely what you put in a cake. I tell you, it was really easy to do and it turned out quite well. It's a shame my pictures don't give it justice. We had slices of it with custard and it was so delicious.


Chocolate Surprise Cake

Chocolate Surprise Cake

250 g  self-raising flour
50 g  cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
200 g  caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
200 g  good quality mayonnaise
1 medium egg
160 ml  [2/3 cup] cold water
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch/23cm round pan or 8-inch/20cm square pan.
  2. Sift (optional) the flour, cocoa, and baking powder into a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre.
  4. Add in all the other ingredients.
  5. Beat with electric mixer until smooth.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and remove from pan.
  8. Ice with fudge frosting or serve with custard/cream.

Chocolate Surprise Cake

Friday, 16 October 2015

World Bread Day 2015: Barm Brack

World Bread Day 2015 (October 16)It's that time of the year again for the World Bread Day to celebrate anything to do with breads in the food blogging world. Zorra of Kochtopf as usual is ably hosting this fine blogging event.

I always loved fruited breads like tea breads/cakes, fruit loafs, etc. Toast them lightly then slather with butter and scoff down with some Earl Grey tea - yum! So what better way to try making a fruited bread than baking the Irish Barm Brack. The timing is quite right, too. For it is also traditionally served during Halloween.

I first had Barm Brack when an Irish family friend gifted us with one. It was the dark variety but packed chock-a-block full of fruits. Oh wow, it was a great introduction to this wonderful tea-time bread.

Barm Brack
Sue Lawrence's Book of Baking provided me with a workable recipe with the help of my trusted Panasonic bread machine.


Barm Brack

Barm Brack

500 g  strong white flour (or bread flour)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground mixed spice
7 g  sachet of easy-blend dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt
50 g  [scant 1/4 cup] unsalted butter
50 g nbsp;[1/4 cup] caster sugar
150 g  [1 cup] currants
50 g  [1/3 cup] dried mixed peel
50 g  [1/3 cup] sultanas
300 ml  [1 1/4 cups] tepid milk

*Glaze:
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp water

  1. Hand Method:
    • Combine the flour, yeast, spices, and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter.
    • Stir in the sugar and dried fruits; then the milk.
    • Once combined, turn out on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth.
    • Place in an oiled bowl, invert dough so that the top is oiled. Cover with cling film and let rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours.
  2. Bread Machine Method:
    • Put all ingredients according to the bread machine instruction and set to dough setting.
  3. Butter a 20 cm/8 inch baking pan. Punch down dough and shape into a round to fit into the prepared pan. Cover with greased cling film and let rise in a warm place for another hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F. Bake for a further 30-35 minutes. Cover loosely with foil in the last 15 minutes. It is cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped at the bottom.
  5. While it is baking, make the glaze - boil the water in a small saucepan; add the sugar and cook on low heat until dissolved. Brush the syrup glaze on top of the bread and return to the oven for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from baking pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Chicken Lollipop

Chicken Lollipop
Chicken lollipops are good appetizers and very popular among kids. There's something about having a 'handle' on a piece of fried chicken that entice everyone. It is essentially fried chicken wings that are easy to make and you can use any type of marinade you like. The only hard thing about it is the preparation of the wing drummette itself where you have to scrape the meat from the bone without detaching completely and then pushing the meat all the way to the end of the bone. It is much better and easier if you can find a butcher who can do this for you. For instructions on how to do this, here a couple of links from Saveur and a video from Stella Culinary.

I've used a very simple lemon and soy sauce marinade here to make Filipino-style chicken lollipops. It was quite effective since the taste is not mixed with so many other spices and flavours. But if you want a more 'sophisticated' taste then go ahead and add more spices to the marinade.



Chicken Lollipop

1 kg  chicken wings
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 egg - beaten
1 Tbsp milk (optional)
plain flour
Panko breadcrumbs
  1. Cut, separate and prepare the chicken wings using the instructions in this link and/or in here.
  2. Mix the marinade of lemon juice and soy sauce in a bowl. Taste to see if the sour-salty combination is according to your liking. If not, adjust lemon juice and soy sauce.
  3. Marinate prepared chicken wings for about 1 hour.
  4. Drain chicken from marinade.
  5. Arrange flour and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Beat egg with milk (if using) in another bowl.
  6. Dredge chicken wings in flour first then dip in egg mixture and finally roll in the breadcrumbs. Let rest on a rack for about 30 minutes.
  7. Deep fry for 10 minutes or until golden brown.


Chicken Lollipop

Monday, 15 June 2015

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs
Meatballs are much appreciated in our family. Although mainly in the spaghetti meatballs type, we also like Swedish meatballs which we often buy in the local Ikea whenever we have a chance to lumber around there. But this is the first time I have created these from scratch. Really it's very similar to the other meatballs I've done before but the main difference is in the cooked chopped onions and allspice in it. Actually, the allspice is very very important otherwise you won't have that smell and taste typical to Swedish meatballs. Alton Brown provided me with a great recipe that I adapted. And although the kids didn't like the white gravy I still think all of it is great tasting. I adjusted the recipe to cater for 1 kg of meat since almost all the minced pork or beef packets sold here are in 500 g sizes.


Swedish Meatballs

2-1/2 slices of white bread (or 2/3 cup breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup milk
4 Tbsp melted butter
2/3 cup finely chopped onions
1-1/2 tsp fine sea salt + a pinch
500 g  minced pork
500 g  minced beef
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

*Gravy
1/4 cup plain flour
3 cups beef stock
1/4 cup double cream
  1. Tear the white bread into pieces into a bowl. Add in the milk and leave to soak for about 30 minutes or until soft.
  2. In a 12-inch high-sided skillet, heat the 1-1/2 Tbsp of the butter and saute the minced onions. Sprinkle a pinch of the salt and cook until soft. Remove into a bowl or dish and let cool.
  3. Mash the soaked bread then add the rest of the ingredients. Combine until well mixed.
  4. Form into 1-1/4 inch balls (28 g/1 oz).
  5. Fry in the same skillet used for the onion using the rest of the melted butter in medium to low heat. Cook until golden brown on all sides (about 7-10 minutes). Do not crowd them too much; if need be fry in batches in which case you may have to add more butter.
  6. After frying, put the meatballs in a preheated 95°C/fan 75°C/200F oven to keep warm while making the gravy.
*For the gravy:
  1. You should have about 1 Tbsp of melted butter left in the skillet used for frying the meatballs. Decrease the heat to low and sprinkle the flour in it. Whisk until light brown - about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the beef stock gradually and simmer until thick.
  3. Stir in the double cream and cook until thick. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Serve either covering the meatballs or on the side.

Swedish Meatballs

Friday, 15 May 2015

Lechon Manok

Lechon Manok
This is one of my experiment last Christmas. It turned well actually. The chicken had a lot of flavour and was juicy. Although I thought there should be less molasses (black treacle) to reduce the darkness and richness of the marinade so it is reflected in the recipe below. I adapted this from my ancient Maya Cookbook. The cover has been ripped off and is currently missing so I don't really know the actual name of the book. But it has served me well (like my old Nora Daza cookbook) as a reference.


Lechon Manok
(Filipino-style Roasted Chicken)

*Marinade
2 Tbsp lemon or calamansi juice
1/4 cup patis
2 Tbsp sea salt
2 Tbsp liquid seasoning (Maggi or Knorr)
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp molasses or black treacle

1 whole chicken
  1. Combine all the marinade except the molasses. Taste the marinade, it should have the right balance between sourness and saltiness. Adjust according to your taste. Add in the molasses and mix well.
  2. Marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/325°F. Roast chicken for 30 minutes then increase temperature to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F for an hour or until juices coming out of pierced thigh is clear. *OR* Grill in charcoal barbecue for maximum flavour.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Baked Doughnuts

Sometimes when we like to have doughnuts but don't want the accompanying grease, we take out this recipe to make some baked doughnuts. Yes it is possible. Although in this instance a special doughnut pan has to be employed to create that round sweet bread with a hole in the middle. I got this pan from Lakeland ages ago that sometimes I forget that it exists in my pantry. Its accompanying recipe almost got lost before so I thought I better document this recipe before I lose the only hard copy we have.

Baked Doughnuts

Baked Doughnuts

225 g  plain flour
175 g  caster sugar
10 ml [2 tsp]  baking powder
5 ml [1 tsp]  fine salt
175 ml [scant 3/4 cup]  whole milk
2 eggs - beaten
15 ml [1 Tbsp]  melted butter or olive oil or cooking oil
5 ml [1 tsp]  vanilla extract
extra icing or caster sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan/325°F. Lightly brush the doughnut cups in the pan with cooking oil making sure that the centre stem is well covered by the oil.
  2. Sift the flour, caster sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla together.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients mixing thoroughly.
  5. Fill each doughnut cups around 3/4 cups full with the batter.
  6. Bake for about 8 minutes or until firm and springy to the touch.
  7. Remove from pan and cool slightly. Dust with sifted icing sugar or caster sugar.

Baked Doughnuts

Baked Doughnuts



Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Cabbage Apple Slaw

Cabbage Apple Slaw
This is a very easy salad to put together and with very few ingredients as well. Often times I have this with fried anything as a foil from the grease and fat. I find it very refreshing also with roasted or barbecued meat dishes.

This is adapted from the NHK channel's Rika's Tokyo Cuisine recipe. We as a family actually enjoy watching NHK's offerings especially when it comes to their food shows. You should see us drooling, ooh-ing and aah-ing at every dish we fancy. Armchair foodies we definitely are. :)


Cabbage Apple Slaw


Cabbage Apple Slaw

1/4 head [about 250 g] cabbage
1/2 apple
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp lemon juice
lemon zest (optional)
1/4 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  1. Finely shred the cabbage and apple (with a knife or mandolin) and put separately into different bowls.
  2. Add the salt and pepper into the shredded cabbage and gently work into the cabbage until it softens.
  3. Add the shredded apple, lemon juice, and lemon jest. Mix well.
  4. Combine the sugar and mayonnaise. Add to the cabbage and apple mixture and mix well to coat the veggies.
  5. Serve cold or room temperature.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Pork Asado Roll

Pork Asado Roll
The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

I am very new to bread baking so this challenge is very important since it will be my first time ever to bake a savoury filled bread. I certainly am no stranger to these type of bread. One of my fondest food memory was having pork adobo roll at a kiosk in my former university. I would eagerly buy one especially if there was a freshly delivered batch. It was a wonderful snack wolfed down with ice cold Coke. Yum!

For the filled bun I make here - I will call them rolls since the word siopao in my native Filipino ears always mean buns that are steamed not baked. I decided on doing an asado filling first. An email to my sister for her asado recipe was duly dispatched because I really don't want to mess this up with an untried recipe. I just tweaked it a little bit and it was the kind of asado I always wanted to make myself.

Pork Asado Roll
As for the bread itself, I used Betty Crocker's all-time favourite dinner roll recipe. I will say it again, I am a newbie baker, so forgive me if it came out a little denser than normal. I think I put in too much flour. It did rise quite a bit but I was hoping it would be fluffier. Oh well, maybe I'll give it another go in the coming weeks.


Pork Asado Roll

Pork Asado Roll

1 recipe of Pork Asado (see below)
1 recipe of Dinner Rolls (see below)
melted butter
  1. Cool down the pork asado completely.
  2. After the first rising of the dough, punch down dough and knead a few times to make it smooth again.
  3. Divide into about 10 pieces. For each piece, knead briefly and roll into a circle of about 6 inches diameter.
  4. Put about 3 Tablespoon of the pork asado filling (with some sauce) in the middle of the rolled dough.
  5. Gather the edges of the dough and seal to make a round bun.
  6. Put in a greased baking sheet sealed side down.
  7. After filling all buns, cover sheet with kitchen towel or greased cling film and let rise until double in a warm place (about 1 hour).
  8. Brush top with melted butter.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven of 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


Pork Asado

500 g  pork - cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3-4 shallots - chopped
1 Tbsp rice wine
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) dissolved in 1 Tbsp water
  1. Saute the garlic and shallots in a saucepan with cooking oil. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Turn up heat to high and add in the pork. Saute until it brown all around.
  3. Add the rice wine and let sizzle until it has evaporated.
  4. Add in all the ingredients except the cornflour mixture.
  5. Bring to boil and then turn heat to low and simmer until meat is tender (about 1 hour).
  6. Add the cornflour mixture and bring to boil. Turn off heat and serve.


Dinner Rolls

1/4 cup butter - room temperature or melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 package fast-acting or regular dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3 1/2 bread flour
1 large egg - slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
extra melted butter for brushing and greasing
  1. Mix the water and milk in a saucepan and heat gently until warm (about 50°C/120°F).
  2. Combine butter, sugar, 2 cups of the bread flour, and yeast in a big bowl.
  3. Add the warm milk mixture and egg into the bowl.
  4. Beat with electrix mixer (or wooden spatula) for about 1 minute until flour mixture is moistened.
  5. With a wooden spatula, add in enough of the flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is soft, leaves the side of the bowl and is easy to handle.
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured flat surface. Knead for about 5 minutes, sprinkling more flour on the surface to keep the dough from sticking, until the dough is smooth and springy.
  7. Put dough in a greased bowl, turn so that all sides are greased. Cover with greased plastic. Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  8. Punch down dough and turn out on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 15 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.
  9. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Arrange the shaped dough in it and brush with melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Remove from pan onto a cooling rack. Brush top with more melted butter.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Sour Cream Pound Cake


Here's one buttery cake recipe that I bake as an alternative to Victoria sponge. Usually this gets made when there's an excess or about to expire sour cream. Highly recommended for its fluffiness and scrumptiousness. I found this recipe that I adapted from the Food Network as part of Paula Deen's recipe collection there. It really is very good.


Sour Cream Pound Cake

125 g  [1/2 cup] butter - softened
300 g  [1 1/2 cups] white sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Mix the flour and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream/beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Add the flour mixture, mix well. Pour into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 50 mins - 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Middle Eastern Breakfast Treats

Labaneh
For the February daring cooks challenge,Manal from Manal’s Bites invited us to celebrate the most important meal of the day Middle Eastern style!

Traditional breakfast in the Middle East seems to be such a wholesome meal what with all the fresh dips and salads, lots of olive oils and spices it has. I've never been to visit the area except for the few plane changes in Abu Dhabi. So I was quite surprised to know that hummus is for breakfast! In our house it's a dip for snacks. The salad is very similar to the Greek one especially because I used feta cheese since I can't find halloumi any where near us.

Mixed Salad
What a revelation these dishes were so thank you is in order to the Daring Cooks and Manal for coming up with this interesting challenge. For one, it's my first time to make soft cheese. As expected, it's delectable. While for the hummus, I never thought fried pitta bread would be great dipped in it.

The labaneh cheese is easy enough to make though I don't have a big enough cheese cloth for the whole lot. So I just put them in small little bundles. I didn't have any place to hang them so I put them in a colander over a bowl to catch the drips.

Speaking of cheese cloth (they are also called muslin cloth), if you buy them from kitchen shops they're quite expensive. I just realised recently that I could buy them cheaper from baby shops. You see, the cotton cloth nappies (diapers) are made of muslin cotton! Ha! That's my bargain tip of the day.


Hummus Fatteh


Hummus Fatteh

1 recipe of Hummus
pitta bread
reserved chickpea water or plain water
salt and lemon juice
olive oil
pine nuts (optional)
cooked chickpeas (optional)
chopped mint or coriander or parsley
  1. Cut pitta bread into big chunks (about 1-inch square). Fry in olive oil.
  2. Scatter at the bottom of a serving bowl.
  3. [Optional] Fry pine nuts briefly in a pan with olive oil until brown and aromatic.
  4. [Optional] Sprinkle water with lemon juice and salt on the fried pitta bread.
  5. Pour hummus on top. Serve sprinkled with chopped herbs, fried pine nuts and chickpeas (if using). Drizzle a little olive oil on top.


Labaneh

1 kg natural full-fat Greek style yoghurt
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp fine sea salt
cheese cloth (muslin cloth)
chilli powder
za'atar (optional)
  1. Dissolve salt in the water.
  2. Add the yoghurt. Stir to mix well.
  3. Put the yoghurt mix in the cheese cloth, tie up and hang (or put in a colander over a bowl) to drain the water. Hang this for about 24 hours.
  4. The labaneh cheese is now ready. Serve with olive oil and chilli powder or za'taar sprinkled on top.
Note: This will keep in the fridge for 1 week in an airtight container.


Mixed Salad

2 big red tomatoes - chopped into about 1/2-inch pieces
1 12-inch cucumber - chopped into about 1/2-inch pieces
3 Tbsp lemon juice
6 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cubed halloumi or nabulsi or feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves (or coriander or parsley)
1/2 cup chopped red onion or 2 green onions - chopped
  1. Mix together the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and cheese in a serving bowl.
  2. Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle the chopped herbs on top.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Macaroni Salad

Filipino Macaroni Salad
Here is another of our family's (and a lot other Filipino familys') favourite holiday food. We almost never make it at any other time of the year except during the New Year holidays. Not even on Christmas; only in the New Year. I never knew why but it must be one of those traditions that was kept on just because that's what we always had.

This is a perfect example of the predilection of the Pinoy palate to crave for the salty-sweet-tangy sour flavour combination. That and together with the richness of the mayonnaise and pasta makes it so irresistible to me as a snack. Actually, you'll be hard-pressed to classify this as savoury or sweet. Because they're really both!

By the way, the Philippines practically only have spaghetti and elbow macaroni in the pasta aisles of its supermarkets. Whereas here, I cannot find decent sized and shaped elbow macaroni. I have to either go to Italian delis or trek to Waitrose where, fortunately, I found this Chiferri Rigate pasta.





Macaroni Salad

500 g elbow macaroni pasta
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken meat
1/3 cup pickle relish
1/3 cup finely minced celery
1 1/2 cups canned pineapple chunks in syrup - well drained
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely minced cooked carrots
1/3 cup finely minced onion (optional)
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
3 cups mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Combine all in a bowl and mix well. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Amish Dinner Rolls

Amish Dinner Rolls
My pictures are a bit lame but don't let that detract you from the fluffiness and delectable taste of this mashed potato-based bread. I already did a similar one before so I was not a complete newbie when I tried this. The bread machine was deployed for the kneading and initial proofing so it certainly was a breeze to do. As you can see, I was so satisfied with the result. Just look how fluffy they are!

The King Arthur Flour website is where I got the recipe I adapted. They have loads of interesting recipes there that I'd like to try someday.


Amish Dinner Rolls


Amish Dinner Rolls

2 1/4 tsp [1 package] active dry yeast
3/4 cup slightly warm water or potato water*
2 eggs
1 cup unseasoned mashed potato
4 1/4 cups plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
6 Tbsp butter - room temperature

*Bread Machine Method:
  1. Put all the ingredients in the bread machine according to the instructions of the bread machine manufacturer. Set the machine for the dough program and press start.
  2. Allow the machine to complete its cycle. For most bread machine the rising of the dough is included in the cycle. If not, allow the dough to remain in the machine to rise for for 1 hour or until double in bulk.

*Manual Method:
  1. Dissolve 1 tsp of the sugar in the water. Add the yeast and stir to slightly dissolve. Set aside for 10-15 minutes. By this time, it should foam up to indicate that the yeast is active. If not, discard mixture and start again with a new batch of yeast.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until the dough starts to leave the side of the bowl.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly greased or floured surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes or until it's smooth and satiny.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Turn it to coat all around with grease. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise for about 90 minutes or until double in bulk.

*To Shape Rolls:
  1. Punch down dough, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a few turns until smooth again.
  2. For standalone rolls: divide dough into 16 equal pieces and shape into balls. Place in lightly greased baking sheets leaving about 2 inches of space between them.
  3. For pull-apart rolls: divide dough into 15 equal pieces (I used weighing scale for this). Place in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan into 3 rows of 5 balls each. Space them evenly.
  4. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise for about 2 hours. The pull-apart rolls should be touching each other.

*Baking:
  1. Bake in a pre-heated 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.
  2. Remove from oven and carefully remove from the baking pan.
  3. [Optional] Brush with melted butter.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Oeufs à la Neige

Ouefs a la Neige
The January Daring Cooks Challenge will ensure that no matter where in the world you are, you will have a bit of snow! Kim from Ask a Foodie challenged us to make Oeufs à la Neige, or “Eggs in Snow”.

Oeufs à la neige or Snow Eggs is a favourite of my husband. Whenever we were in France and it's on the menu he often orders it. My cooking/baking to do list had this for a long time. At last this challenge from the Daring Cooks finally forced me to confront this intimidating recipe.

And challenged indeed I was. I halved the recipe since this was an experiment I didn't want to waste too much if anything goes wrong. The meringue was easy enough to do with the help of my hand mixer. But the poaching was something else. I had to emphasize in the recipe that the poaching liquid should be barely simmering. Mine seemed like it was quite hot because the meringues were getting overcooked into shriveled white things. So the poaching time was done very quickly more like 30-45 seconds instead of 2 minutes per side. Also, when you shape the meringues, make sure to use *big* spoons not like the dessert spoons I used. Because they do shrink in size a little after poaching.

Then the caramelised almond slivers came into play. Well I did it all right (although it was a little on the dark caramel side) and set it out in the dining table to cool. By the time I was to sprinkle it on the snow eggs almost all of it was gone! The husband and kids discovered them! Oh well, there was just enough bits I scraped to put as topping.

What of the dessert? How did it go? I was quite eggy, as my daughter said. Well that is a given! For me and the husband, it was very nice although the custard was a bit too sweet for me. I made the adjustments in the recipe below. Other than that I heartily recommend it. Next time I would make the presentation better such as put it in nicer bowls and opt for caramel syrup as well.

The main recipe was adapted from The Encyclopedia of Classic French Pastries by Susan Whatley and the almond praline fron Rachel Khoo's recipe of Floating Island.

Ouefs a la Neige


Oeufs à la Neige
(Snow Eggs)

*For the praline:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup slivered almonds
  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Put sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the slivered almonds to the boiling syrup and keep stirring continuously.
  4. The sugar will being melting again and will take on a golden colour.
  5. Once it turns golden, pour out onto the prepared baking tray and quickly spread as thinly as possible (they set fast). Leave to cool completely.


*For the meringue:

3 large egg whites
5 Tbsp granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 3/4 cup whole milk

  1. Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl with the pinch of salt. Beat with an electric hand or stand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.
  2. Increase the speed to high and add the sugar gradually while beating until all the sugar has been added.
  3. Beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to hold the bowl of beaten egg whites upside down without any spilling out).
  4. While you are beating the egg whites, bring the milk on saucepan to a gentle simmer. Lower heat futher until there are only little bubbles at the edges.
  5. Using 2 big dinner spoons, form the meringue into oval shapes. Carefully drop the oval meringues into the simmering milk and poach for about 1-2 minutes each side or until puffed up and set.
  6. Remove from the milk with a slotted spoon and place on a sheet of tea towels or paper towels. Cool and store in the fridge tightly covered until needed.

*For the creme anglaise:

3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
remaining milk from poaching the meringue
  1. Combine the egg yolks, vanilla and sugar in a heat-resistant bowl with a whisk. Gently pour a little at a time of the still warm poaching milk on to the mixture while constantly stirring.
  2. Return the egg-milk mixture to the poaching saucepan and cook at low heat while constantly stirring. There should be about a little less than 2 cups of the mixture. If not, top up with more milk up to roughly that amount.
  3. Cook gently (do not stop stirring) until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a single cream. It should coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Strain the sauce and cool in the fridge covered until thoroughly chilled.

*For the caramel sauce (optional):
 

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water

  1. Prepare a bowl full of tap water (preferably in a sink). The bowl should be bigger than the saucepan to be used for cooking. Set aside.
  2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to boil.
  3. Continue boiling until it becomes golden coloured. Lower heat and cook until it is of the shade of golden colour desired. Immediately put the bottom of the pan into the bowl full of tap water to stop the caramel from cooking further.
  4. Use the caramel immediately

*To assemble:
  • Put about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of creme anglaise in a small serving cup or bowl. Place two or three meringues on top and decorate with almond praline and/or caramel sauce.



Sunday, 11 January 2015

Palutang

Palutang
Palutang - in Tagalog literally means 'about to float'. In our corner of Cavite, this is our version of what others call palitaw. Not only is there a difference in name but palitaws are flat and oval shaped while palutangs are round with a dent or hole in the middle. Actually, I think the palutangs look like belly buttons, no?

This kakanin or snack/dessert is one of the traditional food of Filipino families during the New Year. It signifies rising fortunes and good luck in the new incoming year. I often cooked these with my late grandmother who follows this tradition every year.

It is very simply made with very few ingredients. For the palutang itself, it only has one ingredient, well two actually, if you use the flour form. Then you just serve it with fresh shredded coconut and sugar. And it is this simplicity that I now crave in contrast to the rich and indulgent complicated dishes and Western desserts we had in the Christmas season just gone.

Below are pictures of the stages in making palutang:


shaped Palutang dough
cooking Palutang
Palutang

Palutang

1 cup malagkit (glutinous rice) flour
1/2 cup water

*To serve:
fresh grated coconut
brown or white or muscovado sugar
  1. Mix the rice flour with the water in a bowl to form into a dough. Add more water if needed to make the dough a bit sticky but comes away clean from hands and fingers.
  2. Form into 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls. Poke a finger in the middle but not all the way through, just enough to make a dent that will help it float.
  3. Bring a pot full of water to boil. Once it is in rolling boil, carefully drop the shaped palutangs in the pot. Keep the water on high heat.
  4. Once the palutangs float, they are already cooked. Remove with slotted spoon onto a serving dish.
  5. Serve warm or cold with fresh shredded coconut mixed with brown sugar.