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 ^^