Friday, September 28, 2012

Baby french beans with roast pork belly ~ cheat's dinner ^^

I'm good at cheating.. dinners!

And you just can't go wrong stir-frying ANY greens or beans with roast pork belly ^^

Recipe? What recipe ^^||??? Just stir fry veg and meat together till cooked.. that's all! Too easy? Ok, maybe add a pip or two of garlic ~ smash them up with your knife/cleaver (oh, don't bother with mincing! otherwise it won't be a cheat's dinner ^^), and throw them in with the "fatty" roast pork belly.. Then add the greens ^^ And voila! a yummy dish is served ^^

A simple and balanced (?) meal fatty hubby enjoyed! Me too.. with rice, of course ^^

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Delicately perfect pistachio strawberry brown butter cakes

This is seriously an "OH, WOW!" bake ^^!

That's the first thing I said aloud (really!) when I had that first bite! And very, very few bakes ever get to this level! Especially when it's had fresh from the oven. (^^)

This is originally a pistachio raspberry teacake by pook @ daily delicious, a super talented baker, stylist, photographer - blogger extraordinaire, one of my greatest source of inspiration in the blogging world ^^ Nothing seems to faze her.. and nothing seems to be too much of a trouble to make.. and style.. she's my baking hero!!! (^^)

Here's my slightly modifed version of pook's easy, delicious teacake.. made a little complicated with AWWWesome browned butter ^^

Pistachio strawberry brown butter cake (adapted from daily delicious)

60g unsalted butter
60g unsalted shelled pistachios
50g sugar
a pinch of salt
65g all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
40g sugar
90g strawberries, diced
20g pistachios, chopped, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 180C.

2. 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 minutes from time butter boils to the brown bits. Leave to cool. Strain through a fine metal sieve or cheesecloth-lined strainer.

3. In a food processor, grind shelled pistachios with 50g sugar and salt till fine.

4. Place pistachio meal into a mixing bowl, and hand-mix in cooled browned butter and flour till combined. DO NOT over-mix.

5. Add vanilla and egg yolks till combined. DO NOT over-beat.

6. In another bowl, beat egg whites with 40g sugar till firm peaks are formed. Then gently mix into pistachio batter till incorporated.

7. Mix in diced strawberries into the mixture. Otherwise, drop the diced strawberries and sprinkle chopped pistachios onto the batter AFTER pouring and filling moulds/cupcake/muffin tins, 3/4 full.

8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or till the skewer comes out clean.

* makes about 6 cupcakes.. best served warm from oven ^^
** for a quick and easy bake, check out daily delicious's post.. and omit browned butter and egg yolks-whites separation ^^

This is one of the best bakes ever (!!!).. the combo of pistachio and strawberry is truly OUTSTANDING! the outcome, as heavenly as financiers! as moist and fluffy as the best butter cakes! as perfectly sweet and delicate as perfect should be! I know it's hard to believe.. but I really feel that the taste, texture and aroma just comes together so right! that every bite is.. PERFECTION!!!

When you look at pook's pretty pictures ^^ and my amateur ones (^^||), you'll not really think that this is going to be such a FABULOUS bake.. you'll think the colors are really pretty and the idea could be really yummy.. but I assure you, that this is a bake you MUST NOT miss!!!

These cakes are simply AMAZINGly AWWWESOME!!! I swear! (^^)

p.s i think i'm going thru a "brown butter" phase.. hopefully i'll out-grow it soonest ^^ anyways, fatty hubby and piggies are not complaining ^^ these are really, really, really good ~ not exaggerating!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sylvie's plum frangipane gratin

I didn't think too much when I saw the plum frangipane gratin in gourmande in the kitchen.. except that it had very few ingredients, looked easy and made to sound delicious by sylvie! I was already sold.. at "frangipane", btw ^^.. whatever that means! (^^)

And perhaps, melted butter too.. ^^ Just so you know.. I've  fallen TOTALLY in love with browned butter ^^!!! (thanks a million! lynna ^^) So I've been looking for every excuse to make brown butter.. again ^^! They are earth shattering AWWWESOME! love! love! love!

So it didn't even occur to me there is no flour nor any sugar in this recipe.. In fact, I was totally oblivious till half way through the recipe ^^|| Talk about blurrrrr..... or selective attention/distraction! (^^)

Plum frangipane gratin (adapted from gourmandeinthekitchen)

6 sweet plums, sliced (I peeled off the skins ~ fear of pesticides.. I really shouldn't have ^^||)
100g melted unsalted butter (I HAD to use browned butter ^^)
1 egg, beaten
4 1/2 tbsp honey
100g almond meal, sifted if possible ( I used 75g almond + 25g hazelnut meal.. I just like it that way ^^)
a pinch of salt
28g/ 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C.

2. Melt butter over medium heat. (Or make brown butter ^^!). Leave to cool.

3. Beat honey with egg.

4. Add melted butter (or browned butter) to egg mixture and mix till well combined.

5. Add almond meal and a pinch of salt to batter. Mix till well incorporated.

6. Arrange sliced plums in concentric circles (.. or however you wish ^^) in greased ramekin/mould/s. Cover with batter and top with some sliced almonds, if you like ^^.

7. Bake for 20 minutes or till the sides turn golden.

This gratin can be served warm or cold. I prefer it cold ^^. Head over to gourmandeinthekitchen for beautiful pictures and recipe ^^

So do I like it? Hmmm... it's nice.. and grainy.. and interesting and different from the usual desserts I make.. and it's DEFINITELY wholesome and healthy ^^! I do however feel I didn't do justice to the recipe as the plums used may not be perfectly ripe ^^|| But what do I know about plums? It's probably just me over-analyzing.. again ^^||! A friend's 10 year-old daughter actually preferred this dessert over my current most-awesome numero uno cupcake, double caramel cupcake (??!!!) And big pig likes it too ^^ So there you go! (^^)

Though I prefer my fruits whole and fresh, the texture of baked plums is really nice ^^ For an easy, wholesome, healthy, gluten-free and processed sugar-free dessert, look no further! (^^)

p.s i do know now, that the "beautiful" frangipane refers to filling made from or flavored with almonds.. these days, it's a filling made of butter, sugar, egg and ground almonds ^^ aaah.. the things one learns from the blogosphere ^^ thank you, thank you, thank you! dearest generous bloggers! (^^)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Delicious financiers

These are delicious! (^^)

They really are! And they must be had fresh and warm from the oven, in my opinion ^^!

I'd never think of making financiers if not for heartsintheoven's browned butter blueberry muffins and bakersroyale's caramel financiers! Why? Because of browned butter (this really caught my eye! interesting is an understatement!) and a recipe calling for brown butter AND 4 egg whites (perfect! an exact leftover from the chocolate fondant bake). (^^)

This is my first attempt at financiers.. and you'd think I'd do well to follow a recipe.. but NO! my itchy hands and mind couldn't leave a (or any!) recipe alone! So these financiers are the result of bakersroyale's (mainly), dorie greenspan's and sadaharu aoki's (posted by travellingfoodies) recipes ^^.

Financiers (adapted from bakersroyaledorie greenspan and sadaharu aoki)

1 1/2 sticks (180g) unsalted butter (to.. no, MUST reduce to 80g-120g/1 stick next time!) 
1/2 cup (60g) flour, sifted
1/2 cup (60g) almond meal/hazelnut meal (I used 40g almond + 20g hazelnut)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp (75g) icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp honey
4 egg whites
blueberry pie filling (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400F/200C.

2. 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. If good quality butter is used, you will be rewarded with a wonderful "hazelnut" aroma (some say ^^) or in  my opinion, freshly baked buttery shortbread! ^^

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

4. Mix 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 overbeat.

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 ^^||.. I couldn't.. so I baked half and put the rest in the fridge ^^ clever, no? ^^)

7. Pour about 2-3 tbsp batter into greased financier/tart/muffin moulds. Top with berries or jam or chocolate or caramel or fruit filling, if you like. Bake for 13-15 minutes.
8. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Best eaten warm and fresh from the oven ^^

These financiers turned out to be quite a treat! As I've never had any, I didn't have much expectation for it ~ and it turned out to be OUTSTANDING ^^! Though the cakes may be a little on the oily side (too much butter even for butter-whores like us!), the sweetness level is perfect! And to ensure I have moist cakes (my greatest fear ~ DRY cakes!), I added honey as a substitute for trimoline (inverted sugar, as in sadaharu aoki's recipe) ^^.. perfect!

This is a pretty easy and quick bake! A perfect treat for kids and adults.. with a glass of milk.. a cup of tea.. or coffee.. any time! My piggies really enjoyed the financiers! Me too!  (^^)

p.s I'll be popping in some reese's peanut butter cups when I bake the rest of the "rested" batter tomorrow, for an ultimate indulgent treat ^^! mama pig loves reeses.. I think it'll work.. it did for bakersroyale's rollos! (^^)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Perfect chocolate fondant (?)

Yup, that's the name of this recipe I've been holding on to for at least a year or more.. to finally make it today! (^^)

A recipe found and tore off a food&travel magazine.. which the writer shares to have perfected from many (failed ~ which I can identify with, like my chase for the perfect butter cake ^^) attempts at the PERFECT chocolate fondant, aka the molten lava cake. Check out savorysweetlife's version online.

The Perfect Chocolate Fondant (recipe by sheena chen, un-dated issue of food&travel, sorry ^^||)

200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into pieces (70-80% cocoa is most ideal)
200g unsalted butter, diced
50g softened butter, for greasing
6 tbsp cocoa powder, for dusting
4 large eggs
4 egg yolks
200g caster sugar
200g plain flour, sifted (could be a typo error in the magazine.. consider using only 100g) 

1. Prepare chocolate sauce. Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pot of simmering water (do not let bottom of bowl touch simmering water). Stir till combined and remove from heat. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes.

2. Prepare moulds. Brush moulds with softened/melted butter in an upstroke motion. Place them in the freezer for at least 5 minutes. Remove and brush with a second coat of butter. Then dust moulds with cocoa powder to cover evenly. Shake off excess cocoa powder. Set moulds aside.

3. Whisk whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar till thick and pale for 7 minutes.

4. Add flour into egg mixture till incorporated.

5. Pour melted chocolate into the batter slowly. Mix batter until it forms a loose consistency, then pour into baking tins/ramekins/moulds.

6. Bake in pre-heated oven at 200C for 7 minutes (or less, not more!), middle rack.

7. Unmould by flipping over on serving plate ~ cake should come out easily. Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream ^^..

* Chocolate fondants can be frozen up to a month. Bake frozen fondants in pre-heated oven at 200C, middle rack, for 15-18 minutes. 

This decadent chocolate cake is for my sis-in-law, mama pig (whose birthday falls today, and which for the first time I remembered ^^||).. and piggies (^^), who have a thing for warm molten lava cake with ice cream served at chillies', which I find a tad too dry and crumbly. So I really can't explain their "enthusiasm" for this dessert.. except perhaps they really like the hot and cold combo idea.. or they just like the ice-cream (?)! (^^)

pix taken at night ~kinda flat, no? cover patchy exterior by dusting icing sugar, if you like

Anyway, the cake turned out rather nicely with a crusty exterior and an oooey-gooey velvety centre just as the writer promised! However, I can't say that this is the perfect chocolate fondant, because I'm still not a fan ^^||! But piggies love it ^^! So I'm happy. (^^)

Just a note, since I used 45% dark chocolate, I reduced the sugar to 160g. Papa pig's pretty satisfied with the sweetness level ^^. Mama pig however noted that the velvety chocolate centre had a slight "floury" taste. I couldn't quite tell.. though I did feel it wasn't as moist (on its own) as I hoped it would be. Compared to savorysweetlife's and other versions online, the amount of flour in this recipe is extremely high. Perhaps there was a typo error, maybe 100g of flour would have been sufficient. We'll see.. if there's a next time ^^

In any case, my piggies love it! And that's that! (^^)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Awesome onigiri balls

I love, love, love rice!!! (^^) 

Especially fluffy, sticky short grain rice ie. japanese or korean (read angry post here) rice! I love, love, love them! ^^ just in case you don't already know ^^!  

I don't normally keep sticky rice at home unless I'm specifically planning to make sushi or something because I love them too much! And too much rice = carbohydrates = sugar = is very bad for me! ^^|| As it is, I already eat way too much rice, even the long grain variety! 

And I love! love! love onigiri! Fatty hubby and piggies too ^^! So when I read nami of justonecookbook's onigiri post, I knew I had to buy japanese rice and make yummy onigiri ^^! She made it look so easy! All these years of consuming expensive (!!) onigiri from Isetan supermarket, I've never ever thought of making it at home.. always imagining it to be difficult (?!)..Well, nami's busted my mental block! It's even easier than making sushi! (^^)

This is my version of onigiri with salted salmon marinated with spicy cod roe (there was a japan fair going on at isetan over the weekend, and I got my perfectly salted salmon.. oh, joy! ^^). Pop over to nami's blog for the perfect step by step, and recipe ^^. Making onigiri is really a breeze!  (^^)

Er.. ok, maybe shaping them into triangles, may take more practise for some (me ^^||). So I took the easy way out and made some into rounds/balls ^^. Don't worry about the not-the-usual/traditional shape onigiri balls.. they taste just as yummy-licious as the triangle shaped ones! (^^) Just squish them a little into oblong/ovals after wrapping them up with roasted seaweed.. and you're good to go!

These onigiri with salted salmon are really AWESOME, believe me!!! We so love! love! love it! Thanks a million, nami! (^^)

p.s amateur (lifetime probationary) cook at work.. not so perfect rice balls and pics.. but it's still really tasty ^^ 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A simple dinner ~ minced meat noodles

Another a "bit of this 'n that" dinner! Minced meat with noodles! Best served with poached, runny egg and some blanched greens. (^^)

Minced meat marinade (serves 2 or 3)
150g minced meat (I used pork)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp doenjang/ miso/ teocheo/ soybean paste
1 tbsp dark soy sauce (optional)
1 tbsp mirin (optional)
1 tbsp sesame oil (optional)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 yellow onion, diced
some grated ginger (optional)
some finely sliced red chili or 1 tsp chili pepper powder (optional)
salt and pepper for seasoning

Well, this marinade is an improvisation from what I remember of recipes read in the past.. So it is most likely to be recipe-cally incorrect ^^||! But it's still pretty tasty ^^!

And don't worry about having to marinade the minced meat either.. If you don't have the time, don't bother. It really doesn't matter. Just toss everything together and cook! (^^)

A simple, robust and tasty meal fatty hubby enjoyed! (^^)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Welcome, sweet september ^^

I've had my eyes on these sweets for months now! Every time I visit the indian restaurant for our usual banana leaf rice, I've been wanting to try some.. but always putting it off because of the big packing/quantity (and price!) for a first try.

Well, these yummies are called palkova (pal cake), so they tell me.. a kind of milk burfi. And how would I know that they are yummy? Well, I finally took the plunge and bought some yesterday after our banana leaf rice dinner (^^).

Unlike the more common pink coconut candies where you can always buy in small quantities, these milk candies are pre-packed and sold in plastic tubs/containers.. and they are very much pricier. But I feel they are worth the price, now that I've tasted some. (^^)

They taste very smooth and milky, and almost melt in the mouth.. except for a touch of coarseness before it all melts on the tongue. I wasn't sure why, till I googled some recipes and found that there's most likely some semolina (sugee/rava) meal in the sweets. Anyway, they are perfectly sweet.. not tooth-achingly so, unlike some indian sweets (^^||). And best of all, there's no trace of spice.. just the goodness of milk ^^.

I've googled some recipes online and it doesn't look very complicated.. but I think I'll leave this to the experts and stick to store-bought ones ^^!

Anyways, if you still can't imagine how it tastes like, just think milk fudge ^^. A very very delicious milk fudge! (^^)