Friday, January 11, 2013

OMG, gougeres!

These gorgeous.. I mean gougeres are OMG good!!! ^^

Gougeres (recipe from my favorite guy, david lebovitz ^^)
makes about 30-55 bite sized  puffs

1/2 cup/ 125ml water
3 tbsps/ 40g butter
1/4 tsp salt
big pinch of chili powder ^^, or ground black pepper
1/2 cup/ 70g flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup/ 90g grated cheese (I used 100g cheddar and more ^^ for topping ^^) 
2 tbsps grated parmesan cheese (I added this too.. keep a bit more for topping ^^)
12 chives, finely minced (or thyme) (I used a tsp of dried parsley and a tsp of oregano) 

1. Preheat oven to 425F/220C and line baking tin. Make sure all ingredients are measured and ready beforehand ^^

2. Heat water, butter, salt and chili powder in a saucepan till butter is melted.

3. Dump flour into saucepan and stir vigorously till mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball. Remove from heat and rest for 2 minutes.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly so that eggs doesn't get "cook"-ed. Batter may appear lumpy at first, but will become smooth after a bit.

5. Add 3/4 grated cheese (I added everything, 100g of cheddar ^^ and 2 tbsps parmesan) and chives (or thyme or parsley/oregano ^^), and stir into batter till well-combined.

6. Place batter into pastry bag using a wide plain tip, and pipe dough into mounds the size of cherry tomato (The cherry tomato in my head is much smaller than david's.. as I managed to make 55 puffs instead of 30 ^^). Otherwise use a small ice cream scoop or 2 spoons to shape. Top with some grated cheese and parmesan ^^

7. Bake at 425F/220C for 10 minutes, then reduce to 375F/190C for another 20 minutes, or till golden brown. For extra-crispy puffs, david recommends poking the side of each puff with a sharp knife to release steam, 5 mins before they are done.. and return them to the oven to finish baking. ^^

8. Serve immediately from the oven! Yums!

When I brought it up to share with piggies, baby pig asked what these were.. I answered him, "OMG good!" ^^ Seriously, these french cheese puffs are AWESOME FABULOUS!!! ^^ Just trust me on this! ^^

I can't thank you enough, david! ^^ WE SOOOO LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE IT! ^^ ^^ ^^ ^^ ^^ ^^

p.s. this is a super-duper easy and delicious recipe I-don't-know-why-I-didn't-make-sooner???!! and why-didn't-I-double-the-recipe-today???!! aaargh..

p.p.s. this is perhaps my last bake for a while.. till I get rid of thunder thighs from too much merrymaking the last few weeks! ^^|| i seriously need to go on diet!!! wish me luck.. ^^ did i hear a snicker? no, wait.. that was me ^^

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Easy popovers ^^

I love easy, straightforward recipes ^^.. especially when it involves dairy! And popovers seems just it! No baking powder, no long resting period! Aaaah.. my kind of baking ^^!

Popovers (recipe from thekitchn)
1 cup/ 8oz milk
2 eggs
3 tbsps unsalted butter, melted (less is fine ^^)
1 cup/ 5oz flour
a pinch of salt
grated cheddar cheese (optional)
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1. In a food processor/blender or with a whisk+bowl, blend milk, eggs and 1 tbsp of melted butter till combined.

2. Add flour and beat till frothy and bubbly. Leave batter to rest while oven heats.

3. Preheat oven to 450F/230C. Put popover tin or muffin pan in the oven for 2 minutes. Remove tin and grease with remaining melted butter.

4. Beat batter till frothy again just before pouring into greased tins. Pour into tins till 3/4 full. Top with cheeses if preferred (top generously ^^!)

5. Bake at 450F/230C for 15 minutes. DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR FOR 15 mins! Then reduce heat to 350F/180C and bake for another 15 minutes or till popovers turn golden brown, feel dry to the touch and sound hollow when tapped. I forgot to check and left the popovers baking for 30 minutes instead! But no harm done.. we love the very browned crusty popovers! ^^

* I managed to make 10 popovers.. 5 cheese and 5 plain ^^ Best served straight from the oven! ^^

These are YUUUMMMY!!! My piggies LOOOOOVVVE it!!! Especially the ones with cheese ^^! I love mine plain with butter and jam ^^ mmm, I think I like these more than I do scones with butter/clotted cream and jam! ^^

p.s. i've never heard of popovers till i read it in justonecookbook blog. thank you for sharing, nami ^^ 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Indulgent brownie with raspberries

I love chocolates.. pure and straight ^^ however, chocolate cake/pastries or chocolate-anything has never been my first line or preferred sweet/dessert (runs in the family ^^).

But, I will concede to these.. the ultimate sinful moist chocolate brownie with raspberries and chocolate chips! ^^

This brownie really has a "WOW" effect.. We've made them so many times to share with friends because they are so easy! And extremely popular at parties ^^

I made them again yesterday upon an aunt's request and added raspberries for the ultimate treat! And they're wonderful! Lusciously moist, yet still a little cake-like and decadently fudgy! It's something that makes people go.. "mmm, this is good", at first bite ^^ ok, maybe it's just us piggies ^^ ^^ ^^

I'm not really inclined to chocolate cakes or choc anything else, but this brownie is seriously good! my favorite chocolate bake ^^

p.s. same p&s camera, same cake.. compare pics above and below from an older post.. barely a year apart.. how different my pics look ^^ i know now it's because of the natural lighting! so thank you again to all who shared this tip ^^ 

how do you like my old pic taken at night, pre-pixlr enhanced days? ^^

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tarte au kumquat?? ^^

This is for you, mel.. ^^ thanks for the idea!

When I saw mel's kumquat tart, I knew it was exactly what I needed to do to use up my kumquat puree and candied halves in syrup ^^

Kumquat tart (inspired by mel, adapted from david lebovitz's french lemon tart and here)

French pastry dough (by paule caillat)*
100g unsalted butter
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar (slightly less is fine because filling is sweetish ^^)
1/8 tsp salt
150g 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. Smells heavenly ^^

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. I baked mine in a small round tart tin and 2 mini rectangular tins ^^.

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.

Kumquat curd filling
1/2 cup/ 125ml kumquat puree + syrup (I probably had about 100-120g puree, topped up to 125ml with kumquat syrup.. next time, I'd add some lemon juice ^^)
grated zest of 1/2 orange (on hindsight, lemon zest would've been a better choice)
1 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp/ 85g butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

1. Beat together eggs and yolks.

2. Heat kumquat puree + syrup, orange zest (use lemon zest next time ^^!), 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 kumquat 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.

Did I ever mention that this pastry shell recipe makes the yummiest, crumbliest crust ever?? ^^ It's gorgeous and I love it! But it is so extremely crumbly that the lightest handling is necessary when removing/moving it ^^

I'm happy the kumquat filling worked ^^ it is pleasantly fragrant and sweet.. and a little rich, probably due to the kumquat puree and syrup. I think some lemon zest and juice would diffuse the hint of richness quite nicely.. next time ^^

Anyway, this tart is really nice.. everyone enjoyed it, especially so for aunt, fatty hubby and piggies who can't take tart pastries ^^ but big and I really prefer the tangy lemon tart more! We like a good lemon punch! ^^

And alvin, if you're reading this, 2 lemon tarts and 3 kouign amanns survived the trip home from tiong bahru bakery ^^. After deconstructing the lemon tarts, big pig and I agreed that david lebovitz's french lemon tart is a serious contender for the lemon tart crown ^^!

Personally, we felt david's crust was hands down the winner. Tiong bahru's was way too hard and thick! But big likes tiong bahru's lemon curd texture which had a nicer softer custard-y rich consistency to it.. david's soft and wobbly curd, spread thinner and baked for a few minutes, was "jam-my" in comparison.

However, taste wise, we liked david's lemon curd better because it was really lemon-lemon.. whereas tiong bahru's curd while very pleasant to the palate, had too much hints of lime (pastry chef in a very generous mood? ^^) and less lemon sting! ^^ Overall, we still enjoyed tiong bahru's lemon tart ^^ but if you like a good lemon kick, I recommend you try david's very lemon tart, pronto! ^^

p.s. love the kouign amann, btw ^^.. and believe or not, i still have some kumquat halves in syrup ^^|| 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello, 2013 ^^

Happy New Year! ^^ Hope it's another blessed year for all ^^

Well, we had a simple meal to usher in the new year last night.. seafood marinara pasta ^^

Fatty hubby's all time favorite pasta ^^. He never fails to order this dish whenever we visit our favorite japanese cafe, haikara ^^ (yummy mentaiko pasta is served there too ^^).

I've always figured it can't be that difficult to replicate.. And it isn't ^^. Not sure why it took me so long to ever make this at home ^^??! Especially since all one needs is just a bottle of ready-made tomato sauce ^^, some mussels and a pack of seafood mix! ^^

Cheat's seafood marinara pasta
Cooked pasta, of own preference
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 yellow onion, sliced or diced (optional)
1 bottle of tomato based sauce (sorry ^^||, will cook from scratch with tomato puree next time) 
1 pack of mussels
1 pack of seafood mix
some squids (would've been nice ^^)
some water (if sauce is too thick ^^)
salt and pepper, to season (if necessary ^^)
some grated parmesan cheese, to serve
some chili flakes/powder, to serve

For an easy cheat's meal, throw everything (sauce, mussels and seafood mix) in and cook till it's cooked ^^! If adding garlic and onions, saute/browning them first would be nice. ^^

Fatty hubby really enjoyed this pasta ^^ so I'm happy ^^! Besides ^^, easy meals = happy cook! (^^)

p.s. was googling new year greetings, when this suddenly came on.. abba's happy new year.. which was released in 1980, of them looking forward to 1989/1990.. well, it's so way past that now ^^ and we still can't travel jetsons style.. so nostalgic and cute.. enjoy ^^