Monday, December 24, 2012

for the love of fruit cake ^^

This has been the most excruciating long and painful bake ever..

I didn't think I'd ever attempt mel's 4-hour long steamed fruit cake.. but she made it sound so so delicious ^^, that I finally succumbed! ^^

However, let it be on record for those who dare to tread this path to fruit cake heaven ^^.. the road is a long and arduous one! And NOT for the butter-fingers and careless (like moi)!!! 'Cos if the burning hot caramel doesn't get you, the thick scorching steam might! I have plenty of burnt marks on my hands and fingers to prove it! ^^||

But if you dare the perilous quest (do head on to mel's@melspantrykitchen ^^), I assure you, victory is very, very sweet! ^^

p.s. the leftover kumquat puree (about 2 tbsp) sure came in handy as replacement for orange essence ^^ but reducing the sugar (40g less from 80g) may have cost me a more moist cake, i believe.. however, this is still a very special (very addictive! ^^) and delicious cake ^^! we love it! thanks a million for sharing, mel.. and faeez too! ^^

p.p.s. this steamed fruit cake definitely tastes lighter than any baked fruit cake I've had.. you can have many slices and still not feel satiated ^^ papa pig says it's nicely soft and moist ^^ hmmm.. that says it all, don't you think! ^^

Friday, December 21, 2012

Yummy kumquat pistachio financiers ^^

What do you do with leftover egg whites, kumquat "candied" halves and puree?

You make kumquat financiers, of course! ^^ or macarons.. yikes ^^||!

Kumquat pistachio financiers (adapted from this post and canelleetvanille)

120g unsalted butter (may try 150g next time, just to see the difference, but 180g is a no-no!) 
1/2 cup (60g) flour, sifted
1/2 cup (60g) pistachio meal/almond meal (I used 40g pistachio + 20g almond)
55g icing sugar, sifted (reduced from 75g)
2 tbsp kumquat puree (or 1-2 tbsp honey)
4 egg whites
some kumquat candied halves
some pistachio bits (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400F/200C.

2. Make brown butter ^^. Melt butter over MEDIUM heat. Pay attention as the butter's boiling and crackling ~ and continue cooking until it turns clear and golden, and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of pan. Once you see brown bits at the bottom of pan, remove from heat.. takes about 8-10 minutes from time butter boils to the brown bits. Leave to cool. Strain through a fine metal sieve or cheesecloth-lined strainer.

3. Combine flour, pistachio/almond meal and sugar till well blended.

4. Mix kumquat puree or honey into egg whites till well blended. NO NEED to beat or whisk till fluffy.

5. Fold egg whites mixture into the dry ingredients. Do not beat.

6. Gently fold melted brown butter into batter till well combined. Do not overbeat. Rest an hour (or overnight) in the fridge. (I didn't ^^!)

7. Pour about 2-3 tbsp batter into greased financier/tart/muffin moulds. Top with kumquat candied halves or puree. Bake for 13-15 minutes.
8. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Best eaten warm and fresh from the oven ^^

These financiers may not be big on looks (my fault ^^, should've used fluted tart tins but too lazy to grease them!), nor as melt-in-the-mouth-soft or as beautifully scented as the kumquat almond teacakes ^^.. they are, I assure you, still very yummy! ^^

They are nicely springy soft and moist, and very enjoyable on its own or over a cup of tea or coffee ^^. And I'm finally rid of 4 egg whites! ^^

p.s. i still have another punnet of kumquats in the fridge, mel.. and am (im-)patiently waiting for you to share another fabulous kumquat recipe ^^!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

home alone.. and a light dinner

I was on my own last weekend..

And about to take the easy way out (take-out ^^) when I visited jasline's blog and saw the tuna and lemon spaghetti recipe she shared.. and changed my mind ^^. For the original no-cook recipe, check out martha stewart's.

I combined both jasline's version and martha's.. and found this pasta really light on taste, even with the addition of garlic (as per jasline's adaptation), grated parmesan cheese and chili flakes. There's just the slightest hint of lemon in the pasta, which goes quite well with the tuna. However, I couldn't quite taste the breadcrumbs, but it could be my fault for using ready-made ones ^^||. I also replaced the kalamata olives with sun-dried tomatoes ^^.

Well, as much as I like hearty and robust meals in general, I also enjoy an easy, light and refreshing pasta dish like this occasionally.. on my own, of course. (^^)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Super moist-licious kumquat and almond cakes

I'm such a "duh" sometimes.. being chinese, asian and all, you'd expect that I would know what kumquat is ^^||

But I've been ignorant. I've heard about it many times but never really took notice of how it looks or taste. In fact, aunt had one growing right in front of her garden for years, so she says ^^||!

I finally tried some 2 nights ago (after a tip-off from mel ^^), and the taste was so very familiar.. like some sort of "kert" or lime! It's a little tart (though not as tart as I'd imagined ^^!), but yet it's a little sweet too (it's no sweet tangerine!). And there's barely any juice in it.. lots of seeds though. I wasn't even sure if I should eat it whole or have the skin peeled off.. I chose the latter, but that didn't quite seem right either ^^||

Kumquat and almond teacakes (recipe shared by mel@melspantrykitchen, also in tartelette)

60g butter
50g sugar
2 eggs
60g kumquat puree
35g all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
50g ground almond
18 pcs poached kumquat halves

1. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.

2. Add eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. Don't panic like I did ^^ if the batter looks watery and weird after the addition of eggs.. it's like that ^^ 

3. Mix in sifted flours and almond meal till well combined.

4. Add in kumquat puree.

5. Divide batter into 18 2-inch tart tins (use these mini tins, or you'll have too much leftover kumquat halves for this bake! I used 3-inch tins and only managed to fill 10 tins!). Fill moulds about 2/3 full as cake will rise. Top batter with a kumquat half (do not press the kumquats in as it will naturally sink later!) 

6. Preheat oven to 170C and bake for 15-25 minutes or till golden, depending on tin used.

Kumquat compote
20 kumquats

1. Weigh kumquats. Then weigh the same amount for water and half the amount for sugar. ie. kumquats:water:sugar ~ 200g:200g:100g

2. Slice kumquats in half. Boil kumquat halves, water and sugar till kumquats turn soft and glossy.

3. Remove 18 halves, for cake topping.

4. Puree the rest of the kumquats with some syrup, and reserve 60g of puree. Leftover puree can be used as jam or topping ^^ it's delish! 

luscious kumquat compote

And what a yummy-licious bake this turned out to be! Beautiful citrus-y scent and color! Oh-so soft and moist, almost melt-in-the- mouth texture.. and hints of almond meal.. it's DEELICIOUS!!! ^^ If I wasn't the one baking this, I wouldn't think this was possible with kumquats! And all this is thanks to mel ^^ check out her blog for yummy pictures and better details of this recipe ^^

the only (and smushed) cake that made it to the next morning.. and gorgeous weather, finally ^^

I can totally understand the ravings by mel and all those who have tried the recipe now! It's really GOOOOOOOD!!! ^^ Thanks so much for sharing one of your favorite cakes, mel! It's GORGEOUS! (^^)

p.s. since I have so much kumquat halves and puree left, I can make this again! yay! personally I enjoyed these cakes even more after it's rested and cooled properly, as the citrus-y flavors bloomed! Well, that's if you can resist eating them fresh out of the oven ^^!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Buttery galette bretonne

* I had posted this earlier, but took it off for a few days as I felt that my timing was off ^^||.. considering the sadness that prevailed over the weekend.. but here it is again.. 

The first galette au beurre I ever had many, many years ago, left such an deep, incredible impression, that all I had after, never measured up.

I've given up hope of ever finding that particular perfect cookie again. I do wonder sometimes if I had imagined it all? ^^|| 

When I came across this interesting recipe for galette bretonne, I knew I had to give it a shot with my precious lescure butter ^^.. it's the next best thing to butter from brittany ^^! And let's just pretend this is galette bretonne instead of just plain ol' galette au beurre ^^!

Galette bretonne (recipe found at yummyindulgences or check out yuehandicrafts)

100g butter (if I make this again.. I'd use salted butter ^^)
1g (??) salt *
60g sugar
1 egg yolk
10g rum
100g flour (cake flour is preferred)
40g almond flour
1g (??) baking powder
1 egg yolk, for glazing

1. Cream butter, sugar and salt till light and fluffy.

2. Add egg yolk, followed by rum and mix well.

3. Mix in flour, almond meal/powder and baking powder into batter till well combined.

4. Wrap in cling wrap and rest in fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

5. Roll out dough on floured surface and dust cookie cutter with some flour. Roll out dough 5 mm thick, and use a 58 mm cookie cutter. I forgot to dust with flour and couldn't handle the extremely soft dough, so I just dump pieces of dough onto the baking sheet and pressed to flatten them down ^^||

6. Glaze cookies with egg yolk, and score them as you like. Bake at 170C for 25 minutes. 

* my weighing scale couldn't do 1g ^^|| of anything.. so I may have under-dosed on salt.. I vaguely remember a slightly salty-ier (first and perfect) galette au beurre ^^
I really find it fascinating that there's rum and almond meal in this cookie recipe. Wonder if this could be a modern interpretation of the galette bretonne? Whatever it is, the results are pretty good! Buttery, crumbly good! with the slightest hint of almond meal, but nothing of the rum (?!) ^^ 

While the cookies were baking in the oven, the smells were so heavenly, that fatty hubby actually stopped to say so and kept asking when he could have one! He really loves buttery cookies! And I love lescure butter ^^

Well, I'm truly sorry that I didn't do a good job at making this galette bretonne look the way it should ~ uniform, elegant and attractive.. I couldn't quite handle the very very soft dough (I forgot to dust with flour ^^||).

Though not quite the galette au beurre big pig and I remembered, and looks aside (me no good and impatient ^^||).. this is a good galette ^^ not the best, but good nevertheless. (^^)

Friday, December 7, 2012

French lemon tart

At last, a short trip down south (after 6 years ^^||!).. and a rectangular tart tin ^^

And that's really all I have to show from the trip! But I'm happy as a lark ^^!

Anyway, just so you know, I've been coveting a rectangular tart tin since forever.. You have no idea how I drooled over your new tin, mel! I've always WANTED (not need ^^||) one too! ^^

So what do you do with a rectangular tart tin? Make quiche? tarts? orange or lemon? Well, big pig preferred a lemon tart over orange.. so I thought I'd make the lemon tart recipe shared by mel ^^. But somehow, I got distracted by david lebovitz's unusual pastry recipe using "oven browned butter" ^^.. and also the use of less lemons and eggs in the lemon curd.. I'm also a sucker for anything "french" ^^!

ignore uneven slicing ~ too lazy to get a proper serrated long knife ^^ 

French lemon tart (recipe shared by david lebovitz)

French pastry dough (by paule caillat)*
90g unsalted butter (I used 100g ^^)
1 tbsp vegetable oil (I omitted this)
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
150g / 1 cup flour

1. Preheat oven to 210C.

2. In a medium oven-proof bowl (Pyrex), combine butter, oil, water, sugar and salt.. and place bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, till butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges. Isn't this interesting ^^? And it smells heavenly too ^^

3. When done, remove from oven (be careful of hot bowl and sputtering mixture!). Immediately dump flour in and stir quickly till it comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

4. Transfer dough to a 9-inch tart mould with a removable bottom, and spread it out with a spatula/spoon. No rolling needed, yay! ^^

5. When dough is cool enough, press to fit tart mould. Prick dough all over with a fork and bake tart at 200C for 15 minutes or till golden brown. Leave to cool before filling.

* recipe makes a very thin, but yummy shell.. make more if you prefer a thicker shell ^^ 

Lemon curd filling
1/2 cup/ 125ml lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup/ 100g sugar
6 tbsp / 85g butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

1. Beat together eggs and yolks.

2. Heat lemon juice, zest, sugar and butter in a saucepan.

3. When butter is melted, whisk some warm lemon mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly. Then add the warmed eggs into the saucepan and cook over LOW heat, stirring constantly, till mixture thickens and begins to bubble around the edges.

4. Pour lemon curd through a strainer directly into the pre-baked tart shell.

5. Smooth the surface of the tart and pop it in the oven at 180C for 5 minutes to set the curd.

6. Leave to cool before slicing and serving. Dust with icing sugar or serve with whipped cream if it's too tart..

And you know what? This is another delicieux recipe from david ^^! ~ the buttery, flaky and biscuity thin crust makes a perfect foil for the tart, silky smooth lemon curd ^^!

Ze lemon tart fan/critic, big pig.. approves ^^

p.s. ze tart is still quite tart for most.. and that means more for big and me! ^^

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Crispy potato skins with creamy honey mustard

1st batch ~ a bit more burnt would've been perfect! 

When I saw this recipe while googling for party food (for big's party last month), I knew it was something I wanted to make.. for myself ^^!

Crispy potato skins with creamy honey mustard (adapted from here)
6 baking potatoes
5 tbsp olive oil
200ml tub sour cream
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey (add more if you prefer a sweeter dip ^^)

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Prick potatoes all over with a fork and bake for 1 hour.

2. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Cut each potato into 8 wedges and put in a large bowl with olive oil. Season generously (salt + pepper???). Make sure each wedge is well coated with oil and seasoning.

3. Stand the potato wedges on a large non-stick baking sheet and bake 180C for 30 minutes or until really crispy and golden (potato skins tastes best when it's almost burnt ~ I know cos I burnt my 2nd batch.. and it's delish ^^!)!

4. Mix sour cream with honey and mustard till well blended. Best serve wedges straight from the oven with dip. (I had mine cooled and it was still yummy ^^)

Note: potatoes and dip can be prepared a day before. Just bake wedges 1/2 an hour before serving.

BEWARE!!! These potato skins with creamy honey mustard are really addictive!!! Piggies polished off a batch, that's half the recipe, in just one sitting! And this despite baby pig's complaint that the skins were kinda tough and chewy (??)!

I must say the potato skins on their own are decent but really nothing to shout about.. till you dip them in the creamy honey mustard ^^ And whoaaa..ahhhh.. ^^ ^^ ^^

Not the best looking potato skins (my fault ^^||), but delish nevertheless ^^

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mascarpone cheesecake

I made a mascarpone cheesecake for baby pig's birthday celebration with the *oink! oink!* family yesterday ^^. He turns 11 today.. Happy Birthday, baby! ^^

And it's a really delicious, soft and light creamy cake.. everyone loves it, especially baby who had 2 helpings ^^! However, I feel the texture fell a little short ~ not as smooth as I expected ^^||.

In fact, right after I added the eggs, the creamy batter started to curdle and separate (and I haven't even added the lemon juice, etc yet ^^||).. turning the batter into tiny grain-like texture.. I actually prayed that the cake would turn out okay.. and it did ^^ though not as perfect as I would have wished for.

Mascarpone cheesecake (recipe from gourmetbaking and foodnetwork)
125g ground almonds
75g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
35g sugar
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter (I made brown butter ^^)
500g cream cheesecake
500g mascarpone cheese
200g sugar (next time, I'll reduce sugar to 150g)
1 tsp lemon juice (some zest too if you like) (and 1 tbsp rum ^^)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Mix ground almonds, digestive biscuits and sugar together. Add melted butter and mix well. Press the crumbs into bottom of baking tin and bake for 12-15 minutes. And leave to cool.
* tip: for easy removal of cheesecake, line the baking tin with a big piece of aluminium foil that covers the bottom and sides of the tin. To remove cake, just lift up aluminium foil and voila, you have a nice whole cake.

2. Prepare water bath.

3. Beat cream cheese, mascarpone cheese and sugar till smooth and creamy.

4. Add lemon juice (+ zest) and vanilla extract. I added some rum too ^^!

5. Add eggs one at a time till blended and smooth.

6. Pour mixture onto cooled crust and bake 325F/160C for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Leave cake to cool in oven by leaving the oven door slightly open.

7. Refrigerate overnight. Best served chilled.

* I just made half the recipe ^^ WE are still on "diet" (???)

I love cheesecakes! But I cannot say that I'm a fan of crusts in cheesecakes.. I would've preferred them without ^^ But this crust is EXCELLENT! I love it! Maybe it's the ground almonds, or it could be the browned butter.. I don't know. It's just wonderful ^^!

Well, I'm definitely going to make this cake again for sure, because it's really good ^^ but next time I'll add the mascarpone cheese last after adding the eggs, and see what happens ^^. For all I know, this is how this cheesecake is suppose to be ~ not super smooth (??), just delicious! (^^)

Anyway, with this cake.. my happy run in november officially ends ^^|| and what a month it has been.. I celebrated a personal milestone and more milestones for a few of my bestest friends, and of course, the wonderful 2 1/2 parties ^^! What more can a girl ask for ^^?! This has been the best month ever!!! (^^)

PERFECT panna cotta!!!

sorry, no time to wipe glasses! rushed job for fear of panna cotta melting! and hungry pigs awaits!

Perfect? You better believe it! ^^

In fact, it's better than perfect.. if that's possible!

I made this for big pig's party earlier, but I made them AGAIN to share with the chubbies (that's big brother, mama and chubby pig ^^), fatty hubby and papa pig who missed out on this luscious dessert! It's too delicious not to share with my favorite people ^^!

Perfect panna cotta (recipe from david lebovitz's blog)
~ serves 8
4 cups / 1L cream (I used half and half)
1/2 cup / 100g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 tsp gelatin powder
6 tbsp / 90ml cold water
fruit puree/compote or honey, to serve (best to use homemade fruit puree ^^)

1. Boil cream (+ milk) and sugar together till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

2. Lightly grease moulds with neutral oil, if planning to unmold later. If serving in cups/moulds, skip this step.

3. Sprinkle gelatin powder over a bowl of cold water. Leave to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

4. Pour warm cream mixture over bloomed gelatin and stir till gelatin completely dissolves.

5. Divide panna cotta into moulds/cups, and chill overnight.

6. Serve panna cotta with some fruit compote or honey. Best served IMMEDIATELY while chilled ^^.

This is seriously the easiest, most luscious and luxurious dessert ever!!! Perfect wobble, perfect texture, perfect sweetness, perfect taste! Easily, definitely a PERFECT 10*!!! ^^

p.s. *my piggies couldn't agree more ^^

Friday, November 23, 2012

Quiche fried rice

i love this bowl ^^

It's big pig's party today ^^ finally! And I made him cheese twists, david lebovitz's chocolate chip cookies, blueberry cheese tarts, luscious panna cotta and onion chicken bacon ham quiche. (^^)

So, while they are having a blast upstairs and my last quiche browns in the oven, I made myself some fried rice with the leftover onions, chicken and ham, tossed with soy sauce and chili pepper flakes ^^ and ooh, it's really yummy! All protein and carbs.. how can it not be delish? ^^

Well, my last (mini ^^) quiche turned out rather erratically browned.. but I don't think this will affect the taste whatsoever ^^ Yes, it doesn't have to look perfect, to taste good (I hear you, mel ^^).. because I used good ingredients and baked with my heart ^^!

p.s. i've figure it out finally.. the uneven browning is due to the grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on the surface of the quiche! ^^ updated on 4th Februaru 2013

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cheese twists

sorry bout the blurry pix ~ they were taken at night ^^|| 

Do these look like cheese twists to you? Well, they are.. even if they don't look it! (^^)

These are the little I made, 2 days ago, just to see if it could work. AND.. it's very good even if they do look "twisted", and with just grated cheddar cheese ^^! Big and fatty hubby loves it! ^^ So it's definitely on the menu for big pig's upcoming party this weekend ^^ Btw, this idea came from lynna@heartsinmyoven's pesto cheese sticks ^^.

Since these are really easy to make, I'm sure no one really needs a recipe once you get the idea of how it's done (see lynna's post and this) ^^ and you can use your preferred cheese and ingredients on your sticks. I don't think it's really that important to measure the ingredients.. I used a bit of this, and a bit of that.. ^^|| well, enough to cover the the pastry/sticks, anyways ^^! And it's really easy if you use ready-made puff pastry, especially if you can find the ready-rolled square-cut 4"x4" slices ^^.

Well, I've just completed a big batch of these with grated cheddar and parmesan, and some with oregano flakes. It's now stuffed in bags in the freezer, ready for baking on the big day ^^.

Cheesy, crisp and golden (fingers crossed ^^!) ~ let's hope them hungry teens like ^^!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

a first "baby" party ^^

Since papa pig complained that I bring baked goods "every other day" (which is an exaggeration, of course!).. I've been trying my hardest to lie low. And it's been a tough, long week.. ^^||

Well, since I couldn't bake, the "time-out" was spent on planning baby and big's upcoming parties ^^. And fnally, yesterday, I got to bake to my heart's content for baby's birthday pool party ^^!

It's a first for baby (or big), having a "real" party with lots of friends over ^^ Usually, birthdays are celebrated with family or a few friends. Piggies have never asked for big parties.. But with baby turning 11 this year, mama pig thought it was now or never, that baby gets a birthday party to remember! ^^

Here's what I made for baby's pirate-theme pool party ^^ nami's japanese cheesecake as requested by baby for his birthday cake, my summer skies and all things nice cupcakes (best moist and fluffy butter cake with swiss meringue buttercream and caramel sauce) and a surprise cake, pirate dan's loot (devil's food chocolate cake with chocolate ganache) ^^

nami's immensely popular cheesecake ~ the first for seconds and the first to go ^^

Aaaahhhh.. bliss. I'm so happy I got to bake, and all the cakes turned out okay ^^ Their friends were really sweet and encouraging about the cakes.. though I did hear one of baby's friend say the cupcakes were not sweet enough *gulp*.. Well, if I'm ever baking cakes for other kids again, I'll definitely pile on the sugar! ^^ Luckily, no complaints from the adults ^^

more, more sugar! more, more caramel, please! ~ we're kids, we live for a sugar rush!

So did pirate baby like his personalised cake? YES! And that, is good enough for me! ^^ Happy day.. lalalalala.. ^^ 

p.s. baby had a totally zoned-out best party ever!!! chef papa pig's barbecued chicken were excellent, for the record ^^ and i "rewarded" myself with yummy instant noodles ^^

say hello to the dark side ^^

On a cool night, there's nothing like ~ soupy spicy instant noodles with egg *burp!* ^^

p.s. i knew i shouldn't have succumbed to buying that packet of instant noodles! but this tastes soooo goood! and in case you're wondering, it's maggi asam laksa ^^

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Velvet nama chocolates ^^

I didn't start out by making this ^^.

don't judge these chocolates by how mud-like they look! they are AWESOME!!!

The plan was to bake a butter cake with chocolate ganache frosting for chubby big brother for his birthday tomorrow. I'm not sure what made me think chocolate ganache frosting would go well with butter cake??? Well, I know now.. IT DOESN'T!!!

Anyway, to have come to this conclusion, you must know I had baked my butter cake and also made the chocolate ganache.. I even used surgeres semi-salted butter (a 1st time! and definitely the last!! not for baking!).. which didn't smell nor feel right from the beginning.. and well, it certainly didn't turn out right either ><||..

So rather than waste the chocolate ganache (200g dark chocolate + 200ml cream) I had prepared, I put the ganache back over a pot of simmering water, added more chocolate (200g) and rum (2 tbsp).. and made nama chocolates! (^^)

Now, nama chocolates  (aka royce chocolates) is something I've been meaning to make since FOREVER! the printout of the recipe shared by nami@justonecookbook is always at the top of my to-make list ^^.. just waiting for me to gather my courage to use up so much of my precious loot of dark chocolates at one go!

Anyway, just for the record, my chubby big brother, papa pig and all my little piggies just LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! royce chocolates ^^!!!

So I'm truly sorry my chocolates look nothing like nami's or royce's ^^|| Despite the pretty cool weather due to the rainy season ~ it's still too warm here for making these sweets.. the chocolate started to melt the minute I took it out from the fridge! And then, I made the mistake of overdosing with my favorite organic cocoa powder (great stuff, this ^^!).. hence, my horrendous 'dried mud' looking chocolates ^^||! But I SWEAR these nama chocolates tastes SOOOOOOOO... SOOOOOOOO.. GOOOOOOOOD!!! it's like plump, luscious melt-in-the-mouth velvet.. GORGEOUS! (^^)

Anyway, you don't need to mess up a cake to make these chocolates ^^ they are really TO DIE FOR!!! Thanks, nami for sharing these unbelievably easy, decadently smooth, dreamy velvets! (^^)

p.s. believe it or not, papa pig says he prefers these homemade nama chocolates over royce's! ^^ and big just keeps saying, mmm.. these are good.. really, really good.. repeatedly ^^ oh! happy day! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Luscious devil's food chocolate cake

It's been raining almost every day for the past one-plus week now. And as much as I like the rain and the coolness it brings ^^, the gloomy weather doesn't exactly inspire baking or photography lessons ^^|| it's however, totally perfect for afternoon naps ^^! *oink!**oink!*

Anyways, baby pig's birthday's round the corner, and I promised to make the cake and sweet treats for his pool-party ^^ YAY! unlimited baking! to my heart's content ^^!!! Errrr.. what should I make, eh...? ^^||

Maybe some cake pops? So, just for experiment sake, since I don't have a to-go chocolate cake (brownies' different!), I made Ina Garten's beatty's chocolate cake and also bisouatoi's devil's food chocolate cake last night. And.. sorry, ina garten ~ it's probably me.. I may have messed up somewhere.. but I don't get the (kitchen-) sponge-like (but gorgeous looking texture and color) cake ^^|| So, moving on.. rima's decadent frosted chocolate cake ^^

Devil's food chocolate cake (recipe of rima@bisouatoi)

1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 tsp baking soda, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I reduced a little ^^)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I reduced a little of this too ^^)
65g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk*
1/4 cup warm water (I used freshly brewed expresso/coffee)

* 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice/white vinegar ~ stir and leave to sit for 5-10 mins

1. Preheat oven to 170C.

2. Beat butter and sugars till light and fluffy. Add egg and mix till well incorporated. Mix in vanilla extract.

3. Fold in sifted flour, baking soda and salt to butter mixture, alternating with liquid ingredients (buttermilk + warm water/coffee) in 3 batches.

4. Pour into prepared tin/s (rima used 3 7-inch round tins), and bake for 30 minutes or till skewer comes out clean.

Chocolate ganache
200ml heavy cream
250g dark chocolate, chopped
a pinch of salt

1. Double boil cream in a bowl over simmering water. When cream is warmed/hot, add chopped chocolates. Stir till chocolate melts and immediately remove from heat, but continue stirring till mixed. If chocolates burns or separates, place bowl over simmering water again, add more cream and stir till smooth.

2. Assemble cake with cream cheese frosting (I omitted this ^^||) and chocolate gananche. Check out rima's blog for the cream cheese frosting recipe and her simple but beautifully decorated chocolate cake ^^.

Well, fatty hubby, piggies and mama pig enjoyed this soft and moist cake ^^ especially since it comes with decadent chocolate frosting! And papa pig approves ^^ it's barely sweet.. just nice with the dark chocolate frosting.

Anyways, I've decided to ditch the cake pops idea ~ too much work ^^||! And why mess with perfectly good cakes? (^^)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

happiness doesn't get sweeter than this ^^

Isn't this grand ^^? 

And baby pig got the spelling right too, this time ^^ What a way to welcome november and a major milestone! Thank you, thank you so very much ~ big and baby ^^, mama and papa pig too ^^

Happiness is.. a feeling so sweet and wonderful that's beyond words.. days like this ^^

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New York Times best chocolate chip cookies

It's not easy being patient.. ^^

And I'm still not sure resting cookie doughs does anything.. ^^|| But after a 48-hour wait, we finally tasted new york times best chocolate chip cookies! (^^)

Noticed the back-to-back chocolate chip cookie bakes? It's deliberate ^^.. I'm on a quest to compare our favorite and a "best" chocolate chip cookie recipe. There's even a "kinda" mention of the "best" recipe by david lebovitz in his book, ready for dessert, and lynna ~ heartsinmyoven made this not too long ago too ^^!

New York Times best chocolate chip cookies ( and heartsinmyoven)

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 oz/240g) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 oz/210g) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups/285g) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar (I used 220g ^^)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar (I used 200g ^^)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds/560g bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60% cacao (I used my usual choc chips ^^)  
some sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, till well incorporated. Stir in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix til just combined. Fold in chocolate pieces. Divide dough into 3-4 batches, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours. 

3. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick baking mat.

4. Scoop 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes, or slightly longer, if you like them crisp ^^

These cookies actually turned out thicker and didn't spread as much compared to david's cookies. They are almost as light/fluffy/aerated as david's cookies (which are quite like famous axxs cookies in texture, cooled/the next day, if you baked them crisp ^^). But fresh out of the oven, these cookies tastes kind of "cakey-cookie", as baby pig puts it ~ and he can be so spot-on sometimes ^^!

So are they good? Yes, they're very good ^^!

Would I make this again? Most unlikely.. ^^||

Why? Bread flour+cake flour vs just all purpose flour.. no brainer, right? ^^

David's chocolate chip cookies' still our FAVORITE!!! (^^)

p.s. 1 "best" recipe down ^^.. 1 "perfect" recipe to go ^^
p.p.s. a rainy and gloomy afternoon.. pics looks just as sad ^^||.. luckily, cookies taste nothing like the weather ^^

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

David Lebovitz chocolate chip cookies.. again ^^

I've been a very good girl this year and not bought magazines (one kunang2 doesn't count, ok ^^), cook books and baking books in a long while ^^. But I couldn't resist David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert (soft cover), released just last month ^^

I love david's blog ^^. I love the way he writes ~ he's engaging, witty and (quite often) hilarious.. I love his take on life, food and travel, as well as the recipes he shares.. but most of all, I'm envious of his wonderful food adventures of the sweet life in paris! (^^)

Ready for Dessert is a wonderful read. I've read through it like twice now.. ^^. Hopefully I'd be able to try out some of the recipes, especially the chocolate ones, real soon. It's really not easy to get good quality chocolates where I live. And when I do, it's so pricey that I think why bother??

So I'm really, really, really sorry, david.. for using chocolate chips instead of chopped good quality bittersweet/semisweet chocolates ^^|| Forgive me? ^^

David Lebovitz's chocolate chip cookies (this time from his book, ready for dessert)
150g granulated sugar
215g brown sugar (I used 200g)
225g unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used 2 tsp)
350g all purpose flour, sifted
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

340g/3 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped coarsely (a million sorries, david ^^)
225g/2 cups nuts, toasted and chopped (I didn't ^^ just used a handful of raisins)

1. Beat sugars and butter till light and fluffy. Mix in egg one at a time at slow speed till well incorporated. Fold in vanilla extract till combined.

2. Mix in sifted flour, baking soda and salt.

3. Stir in chocolate chips, nuts/dried fruits if using. I added my handful of raisin to only half the choc chip dough.

4. Divide the dough into quarters, and shape them into 9-inch logs. Cling wrap and refrigerate until firm, preferably 24 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 175C.

6. Slice the logs into disks 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick. Place on baking tins, well spaced apart.

7. Bake for 10 minutes, for soft, chewy cookies. And a little longer if you like them crisp (^^)

In our past bakes of his recipe based on smitten kitchen's post, I've never bothered to ever refrigerate the dough. The cookies still turned out AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS ^^! But since david picked up an article that says that the cookie dough may improve with resting before baking, and he ALWAYS has cookie dough in the fridge anyways, I thought I'll give resting a shot ^^. 

Patience has never been my virtue.. just so you know ^^||. So these cookies are the result of a long two-day wait.. I mean rest ^^. Verdict? We can't tell the difference!!! ^^||

So to rest or not? That, is up to you ^^! David's chocolate chip cookies still RULES in our household! (^^) 

Luscious japanese cheesecake ^^

Papa pig's away ^^!!! The mouse can now come out to play! Yay! ^^

Missed the last window of opportunity 2 weeks ago when papa pig went away for business.. didn't realize he was away till it was too late. Since he left yesterday and will be back this thursday, I'm not wasting any time!

So I got right down to work on nami's japanese cheesecake recipe and also made david lebovitz's chocolate chip cookies dough last night! Busy, busy, busy bee is me ^^ lalalaala..

Well, the cheesecake's ready today after sitting in the fridge overnight. And it turned out really, really nice ~ lusciously light, moist, creamy and cheesy ^^ the taste of rum was however not evident (??).. maybe I should have added a little more generously ^^.. ok, next time.. (^^)

In line with our diet (???), I only made half the recipe and tweaked it a teeny bit..
1. Used 250g cream cheese instead of 200g (couldn't resist using a bit more cream cheese ^^)
2. Reduced flour to 30g instead of 40g.
3. Reduced sugar to 30g instead of 50g, for the meringue.
4. Baked at 150C for 1 1/2 hours (water bath), using a 6-inch round tin.

This cheesecake though light and fluffy, is not as light/ airy/spongy as japanese cotton cheesecake.. it's also more creamy and cheesy tasting. Well, we like this cheesecake better than the super-light one ^^. You can imagine this cake's texture and taste as in-between dense-creamy cheesecake and feather-light japanese cotton (sponge) cheesecake.. delicious ^^!

Anyway, for this delicious and easy cheesecake, check out nami's blog for the recipe and best step-by-step ^^. Hope you enjoy this luscious homemade cheesecake as much as we did! (^^)

p.s maybe we've been deprived of cheesecake for waaay too long.. big thought this was gorgeous ^^ and fatty hubby verbally (he's normally a very non-verbal person) voiced his approval ^^ 

p.p.s sorry for the overload of pics ^^|| i thought the natural lighting was wonderful today ^^ and my little point and shoot did well ^^ just ignore the WIP styling/composition.. there's none ^^ 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Brown butter caramel apple plum cakes

This would've been a post on baked caramel apple doughnuts if not for them active dried yeast dying out on me ^^||

I'd melted my butter and beaten 3 eggs to discover that the yeast was a goner.. I was devastated! Guess no use crying over spilled milk. On to plan b (???!!)!.. something yummy and super-easy, to ease my pain (?) ^^. 

Brown butter caramel apple plum cakes (inspired by lynna's apple donuts and blueberry muffins ^^)

180g unsalted butter
3-4 medium apples, grated
3 small plums, diced (think this could work with strawberries/raspberries/grapes too ^^)
3 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp honey
180g self-raising flour, sifted
1-2 small pinches of salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
150g sugar (75g caster sugar + 75g brown sugar)
caramel sauce, for drizzling (make more ^^ just keep them in the fridge)

1. Melt butter over MEDIUM heat. Pay attention as the butter's boiling and crackling ~ and continue cooking until it turns clear and golden, and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of pan. Once you see brown bits at the bottom of pan, immediately remove from heat. Leave to cool. Strain through a fine metal sieve or cheesecloth-lined strainer.

2. Grate apples and squeeze out the juices with your hands. Set aside grated apples. Dice plums and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 180C.

4. In a bowl, beat eggs till pale and foamy (but no need till light and fluffy). Mix in honey till combined.

5. In another bowl mix sifted flour, salt, cinnamon powder and sugars together. Make a well and fold in egg mixture and brown butter till combined. Then add the grated apples and diced plums till well incorporated. Do not over beat.

6. Pour into 12-muffin/cupcake tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes or till skewer comes out clean.

7. Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve warm ^^

A-ha! Sounds familiar? That's because this is (almost-)exactly the same recipe I made recently, brown butter apple caramel cake! Not very original, eh? Sorry, didn't have much choice ^^||! It was an emergency! And all I could think of was this recipe ^^. So I just tripled the ingredients, added diced plums ('cos I didn't have enough apples ^^|| and plums were all I had ^^) and omitted the egg separation method! And voila! easy, yummy cakes to chase away the blues! ^^

Well, the addition of plums in the cakes was really nice.. it added a nice texture and tang to an already yummy cake ^^. And the cakes turned out really soft and moist despite not using the egg separation method ^^. I really, really like this easier, one-bowl-mix way! (^^)

And the kitchen smells soooo soooo wonderful ~  a whiff of heaven, perhaps? (^^)

p.s cake's pretty good on it own too.. drop the caramel if you like, for a lighter and healthier version ^^

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yummy-licious easy tuna kimchi jjigae

This is a most wonderful jjigae! Ignore the picture and believe it! ^^

The whole house smells sooo delicious! (^^) And more importantly, this is a super-easy recipe! A spur-of-the-moment kind of dish! No defrosting! Almost no planning.. provided you always have some canned tuna, kimchi, gochujang, gochugaru and onions in the kitchen ^^

Honestly, I was sceptical of this stew/soup/jjigae when I came across it on the internet. I've had kimchi jjigae with meat before, but never with tuna (??!!)! Can't say it was an appetising thought ^^|| What was convincing however, was that all the pictures were always drool-worthy spicy, fiery-red! So my kind of soup/stew! (^^)

Cheat's easy tuna/chamchi kimchi jjigae (adapted from aeri's kitchenkoreanfood and patbingsoo)

1 cup or more ^^ kimchi (chopped), with juices
1-2 pips garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, sliced fine
1 tbsp gochujang, hot chili pepper paste (optional)
1-2 tbsp gochugaru, chili pepper powder
3 cups water (more if you prefer)
1 canned tuna chunks, discard oil or water
1 tbsp sesame oil
salt, for seasoning

1. Heat up some oil and saute minced garlic and kimchi for a minute or two or three ^^.

2. Add onions, gochujang and gochugaru. Then pour in water and let it come to a boil.

4. Add tuna to boiling stew/soup. Bring to a boil again, then lower down heat and let stew/soup simmer for at least 20-25 minutes.

5. Add sesame oil and salt to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Serve hot ^^.

* The trick to bringing out the best flavors of this jjigae is seriously, in the slow and steady simmering process. 

And how would I know? Well, it's because I tasted the soup every 5 minutes!!! ^^|| I can tell you now, the initial taste to the end result of this jjigae can be measured starting at a scale of 1, to end at a perfect 10! ^^ It's piquant, spicy, homey and robust! Everything I can ever ask for in a stew/soup! (^^)

It's amazing how something so simple can be so tasty! And know this, if fatty hubby can ask if I'm cooking this again for dinner tomorrow..and he asked again today, it's gotta be par excellence!!! (^^)

p.s this jjigae reminds me a teeny weeny bit of the very popular assam laksa.. which i'm not exactly a fan of (sorry, assam laksa lovers ^^||).. so please forgive me when i say that this tuna kimchi jjigae is much, much, much, much tastier and easier! in my opinion ^^ 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mum's turmeric squids

My late mum has only 3 "good" dishes to her name! I counted.

All who knew her knew she was an atrocious cook (sorry, mum)! But like I said before, who in their right mind can churn out inspired food for lunch+dinner at 5.30am everyday???!!! Not my mum ^^

Even on off (non-working) days, her cooking's more or less the same.. uninspired! She was also an obsessive compulsive health freak (probably due to her work environment)! Still, chubby big brother, me and papa pig, were all obese growing up! ^^|| not joking.

Anyway, next to stir-fry cabbage with eggs, turmeric squids and spicy assam prawns are the only food I remember she did well that I liked. Guess you can say these are my favorite mum-cooked foods ^^.

Well, I never did learn to cook these dishes from her ^^|| (thought she was going to live forever! and i had no interest in cooking then!). So I'm making turmeric squids (uncooked extras from the mentaiko pasta) based on memory. The good thing about her dishes, they are usually straightforward and simple. Doesn't take much to figure out what goes into making them. ^^

Turmeric squids
600g squids
2-3 tbsp turmeric powder
1-2 tbsp soy sauce (optional - I can't be sure if she added, but I did)
2 tbsp oil
1-2 tsp salt
more salt, to season (this dish should be on the slightly-so salty side) 

1. Mix squids with turmeric powder, soy sauce and salt. No need to marinade.

2. Heat up oil in a non-stick deep pan/wok. Add squids and saute till cooked. Season with a bit more salt if still not salty enough. Cook till the sauce dries up. Make sure you scrape off all the dry bits in the pan.. the dried bits are the best!

3. Best served with rice! (^^) Also very good on its own.. fatty hubby loves ^^

I did it! These turmeric squids tastes so yummy.. and exactly like mum's! So easy. A perfect cheat's lunch or dinner, or whatever! (^^)

Guess the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree ^^|| Lazy see, lazy does ^^ I'm an atrocious cook too ^^! I miss her ^^.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Honey beer bread.. not!|

I saw this on pinterest and immediately set out to buy some beer! 

I was sold! No kneading, no rolling and more importantly, no waiting!

Alas! this easy, boozy bread was not meant for us!

It's not the bread's fault, of course!

very nice crunchy golden buttery crust.. nice chewy, dense doughnut texture.. but not-so-nice bitter after-taste of beer! 

We never did like beer! ^^||  

p.s beer lovers rejoice! non-beer/alcoholic fans.. avoid!