Friday, April 26, 2013

A 5-star pie ^^

Do not be deceived by this simple, rustic looking pie ^^.

I would've loved to make them into dainty little purses or parcels if only I had the skills.. or the delicate hands for it, which I don't ^^||! So it had to be a big happy pie. ^^

I picked this recipe up from mel of melspantrykitchen and nasilemaklover a few weeks back (though I now realize I had come across the recipe in the food&travel magazine earlier, and forgotten about it ^^||). But it was mel's big shout out and "5-star rating" of how delicious this pie is, that I was sold!

I had to make it, pronto! Besides this pie had big pig's name all over it.. spinach, feta, potatoes, cheese.. ooh! ^^ But the omg-hot, "I can barely breathe" weather put a stall to my plans for weeks.. but I finally made it ^^.. and it's a worthy 5-star pie! ^^

5-star Spinach, feta and potato pie (shared by mel and nasilemaklover from food&travel magazine)
~ makes 6 individual pies or a 22-cm round pie

Best shortcrust pastry ever!!! for savories (adapted from the original recipe by Dean Brettschneider)
280g all purpose flour
170g cold butter, diced (I used 125g unsalted lescure+45g salted president ~ could it be because of this?)
2 tbsp cold fresh milk (or this???)

1 baking potato, diced
200g spinach (use fresh for a nicer outcome.. frozen looks miserable.. guess what I used? ^^||)
100ml cream, or fresh milk (low fat is fine too ^^)
1 egg, beaten
100g cheddar cheese, grated
4 sun-dried tomatoes. sliced thin (optional, I added)
salt and pepper, to taste
a pinch of grated fresh nutmeg, or nutmeg powder

Egg wash
1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp milk

1. Shortcrust pastry. Blitz or rub the flour with the cold butter till it resembles breadcrumbs. Add milk and mix till the pastry comes together. Press dough into a flat, round shape and chill for 1 hour.

2. Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes till cooked, then drain.

3. Wilt the spinach by placing it in a colander and pour boiling water over. Drain and squeeze out all the liquid.

4. In a bowl, mix spinach, potato, cream (or milk), feta, egg, sun-dried tomatoes (if using) and 3/4 cheese together. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

5. Roll out dough to 3mm thick and cut out 6 squares, 13cm x 13cm ^^|| (see nasilemaklover's instructions).. otherwise just use 2/3 dough and roll it out to fit a greased 22-cm tart tin ^^. Put filling into the tart/pie tin. Roll the rest of the dough out and place over filling. Pinch the edges together to seal. Make a few slits on the top pastry for steam to escape while baking. Brush pie generously with egg wash and top/sprinkle with the remaining (1/4) grated cheddar.

6. Bake in a preheated oven of 220C for 30 minutes, or till golden. I baked at 200C for 45 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before slicing.

This pie is really deserving of a 5-star rating! The crust is the best crisp, yet flakiest EVER!!! PERFECTION!!! And the filling is OUTSTANDING too!! WE LOVE IT!!!

You know, it's been a while since big pig went, MMM! THIS IS SO GOOD! SO SO GOOD!!! MMM!!! MMM!!! MMMM!!! It feels so so good to hear that! ^^

p.s. i had to make the crust from scratch, as my very-expired ready made shortcrust pastry couldn't be salvaged! but it's the best thing to happen! ^^ 

Friday, April 19, 2013

I finally did it! ^^

A chiffon cake that did not fall flat like a pancake! Yay! ^^

I know, it's easy, so you say.. that's what I think too! But after numerous attempts, and failing each and every single time, save for one (a fluke! ^^||), I've pretty much given up hope.. ^^||

But today I've finally figured out what I've been doing wrong all this time! It's 5 minutes, and not a second longer (I hear you, mel ~ don't overbeat! ^^)! Yes, you have to beat the egg whites for at least 4-5 minutes with a hand mixer on speed 3! Duh????!!!!

And it's all thanks to sonia@nasilemaklover for sharing a most detailed step-by-step to achieving a successful and fail-proof chiffon cake! ^^ No more being vague about "beating egg whites till stiff or soft peaks"! Now I know I have to beat for 4-5 minutes to get a nice fluffy, cottony soft chiffon cake ^^.

I now know too that "beat egg whites till stiff" holds different meaning for different bakes.. no more assuming what works for japanese cotton cheesecake works for chiffon cakes.. and scratching my head over why it's so easy to make cotton cheesecake but not chiffon cake!

Thank you a million times over, sonia of nasilemaklover, for sharing this super-important nugget of information ~ the key to more happy bakes! I'm eternally grateful and appreciative that you noted down the techniques and time(!) to achieving a successful, moist and fluffy-cottony soft chiffon cake, for dummies like me! ^^

Archilles heel be gone.. ^^!!!

p.s. we should not be talking cakes at night, mel.. and on scorching hot, hot days like these! i'm drenched and on the verge of melting.. but I'm extremely happy though.. i'm enjoying my "first" successful chiffon cake in the middle of the night.. and there's more for breakfast tomorrow! ^^ wish i could share this with you.. thanks for the encouragement ^^

Monday, April 8, 2013

Southern peach cobbler ~ 2 ways ^^

Bliss.. ^^

A whole Saturday afternoon/evening spent on baking for big pig's whodunit party! ^^ Made dailydelicious's strawberry cheesecake with mascarpone topping, chez panisse almond tart, nama chocolates.. and some panna cotta too, with leftover cream.. a happy day ^^

And a whole Sunday evening helping out at the victorian-themed party (the word servant somehow comes to mind ^^||).. Anyways, I volunteered for it ^^. Isn't that what all good aunts do *angelic look* ^^? Btw, you won't forget about that trip to spain you promised when you're rich, right, piggies? *wink**wink**oink-oink!*

While I was on my feet the whole evening, my eyes was on a southern peach cobbler ^^ made by one of big's guests! ^^ The prize of hard work ~ a piece of yummy treat! ^^

My first thought after tasting southern peach cobbler was that it's a rich, pudding-like dessert with a soft-chewy texture.. so different from the crisp, crumble-like cobbler I had in mind. That friend (an american, mentioned that the soft, rich pudding-like dessert is the "real" southern deal) had added a tinge of rice flour to the recipe as she ran out of all purpose flour, which made me wonder if rice flour made the dessert chewy.. My curiousity was piqued!

So I decided to make 2 versions of southern peach cobbler ^^ ~ half a recipe each ~ just to compare! The first recipe turned out exactly like the one I had last night.. only much softer and less chewy ^^. The second recipe produced a nice crisp, cobbled crust with a soft cake-like texture underneath. ^^

Southern peach cobbler (recipe from southernplate)
~ rich, soft pudding-like version
1 stick (115g) unsalted butter
1 cup (125-140g) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup (200g) sugar (I used 150g ^^)
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
1 cup fresh milk (I used low fat ^^)
1 can (29oz/825g) peaches, drained and sliced

1. Heat oven to 350F/180C and melt butter in a 9x13" oven-proof baking dish in the oven. I left melted butter in the oven longer to bubble and turn golden.. and made browned butter, yums! ^^

2. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon powder till blended. Pour in milk and mix till well combined.

3. Remove the baking dish with melted butter from the oven and carefully put batter into melted butter. Do NOT stir.

4. Then place sliced peaches on top of the batter. Do NOT mix.

5. Bake till golden, about 55 minutes. Serve cold or warm, with a dollop of ice cream if you like. ^^

rich and moist, soft pudding-like texture with chewy burnt parts ~ yums! ^^

Southern peach cobbler (recipe adapted from allrecipes)
~ crumble-like crust, cake-like texture version
1 can (29oz/825g) peaches, drained and sliced
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp butter, diced (optional but do use to keep peaches nicely moist)
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1 stick butter (115g) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup hot water
1 tsp sugar

1. Place sliced peaches in a greased oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle some cinnamon powder over and put bits of butter all over peaches.

2. In another bowl, blend flour, baking powder, sugars and salt together. Blend in diced butter till mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in water till batter comes together.. you'll end up with a thick, soft runny batter.

3. Drop spoonsful of batter/topping all over peaches. Sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over the topping. Bake in a preheated oven of 400F/200C for about 40-45 minutes, or till golden. Serve warm or cold ^^.

deliciously soft cake texture under a crisp, crumble-like crust.. mmm.. ^^

I enjoyed both! Same name, same ingredients (almost! ^^), but totally different taste and texture.. one tasting richer than the other (I like! ^^).. both GORGEOUS! Perfect with a nice cup of coffee ^^ and for sharing. ^^

Oh, yes! The whodunit party was a success ^^! Even if the teen-guests didn't quite figure out the murderer! They embraced their roles so whole-heartedly, came properly dressed in victorian garb and spoke in snooty english/russian/etc throughout dinner as per their characters, dined, drank and be merry (till someone was murdered! and quickly forgotten, haha!) over a beautifully laid out 6-course dinner with (sparkling) wine! 'twas a wonderful evening! ^^

p.s. the swirled strawberry cheesecake (no cracks! ^^) and mascarpone topping (a wee runny, but delish ^^) was good, but the cake as a whole would've been better without the cookie base. it's just my personal preference.. i'm not exactly a fan of digestive biscuit. well, they ate the cheesecake anyways, and the peach cobbler.. and the almond tart.. as well as the nama chocolates ~ teens with voracious appetites, yet not gain weight??!! life is good ^^!!! and happiness are days like this.. ^^