Saturday, February 25, 2006

Weekend Cooking

I bought a pasta machine last week. Today is the second time I'm using it, and am starting to get the hang of it. I used it to make pasta last week, had a hard time fiddling with it, poor hubby had to wait 2 hrs for a plate of pasta, poor thing.

I don't want to see a 'white elephant' sitting in the house, so must make full use of it right? I made these 鍋貼, literally translated as 'Pot-Stickers', which are like meat dumplings. I made the skin using Gina's recipe, using the pasta machine (of course) to roll out the dough. So here's my first attempt at a Chinese appetizer.

The above will, of course, NOT satisfy my hubby's big appetite as a 'rice' person. The following Claypot Chicken Rice recipe is also from Gina. A big thanks to you Gina.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

More Goodness

I can almost hear you groaning, "Oh no!! Not bread again?" Well, it's my favourite after all.

Oops, sorry, but this is still on bread, homemade bread, to be exact. After making some sweet buns last week, I needed a change of taste, otherwise life is so boring right? These huge oval rolls (measure about 15cm long) are made with wholemeal (wholewheat) flour. Usually wholemeal breads are a bit dense. Those who are looking for soft and fluffy rolls may not favour this. But this bread suit me just fine. I like breads with a rustic/country feel to it, the coat of wholemeal flour on top gives it a nutty, slightly crisp skin.

I also made cranberry jam yesterday, the recipe is from Gina of KC. This jam is tangy with a slight sweetness to it.

It went very well with the rolls, best with a slab of butter too.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Comfort Food

Haven't been updating my blog for about a week. I was feeling a bit lazy, until today. Here are my two bakes for the past week.

Sesame Sweet Bun Ring

I really like this bread dough recipe(see below for recipe), it's soft and not too sweet, just the way I like it.

Cranberry Sweet Heart

In case you're wondering, this is not made for Valentine's Day. I was just playing around with the design :p

Sesame Sweet Bun Ring

Ingredients (A) – mix well
200g bread flour
50g TopFlour/Cake flour
1 tsp bread improver
6g milk powder
50g sugar
½ tsp salt

Ingredients (B)
6g dry yeast – dissolve in 25g tap water
28g egg (beat, then measure)
120g iced water – you may not need all of it
15g melted butter or canola oil

30g toasted black sesame seeds

1)Dissolve yeast in 25g water and wait for 5 mins to become frothy. Stir well
2) Mix the yeast with the remaining ingredients in A and B(except butter/oil) together to form a dough. Then add butter/oil and knead into a smooth and elastic dough. Add in black sesame seeds towards the end of kneading.
3) Round the dough, cover and ferment until double in size, about 45 mins to 1 hour.
4) Punch down the dough to release some air. Shape (see notes)*
5) Cover with plastic wrap and prove for 45 mins to 1 hour.
6) Brush top with beaten egg(additional) and bake in preheated 190C oven for 15 to 20 mins or until cooked

*For shaping:
To shape into a flower like mine, divide dough into 8 equal pieces and place in a greased 9 to 10 inch tube pan
To shape into a regular loaf, flatten the dough into a rectangle and roll up, swiss-roll style. Place seam-side down in a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan.
You can also make them into individual buns. Just note that the baking times will differ accordingly.

With this dough, you can add in dried fruits like raisins, or chopped nuts etc.

Note: fermentation and proving times may differ

Saturday, February 11, 2006

My Lunch

Eve once mentioned that I only like baking, rather than cooking. That's quite true, as I especially hate the cleaning up after all the stir-frying. For baking, I only need to wash the dishes, not the stove area. My weakness is that I like having my stove area spotless clean, so you could imagine how much I clean after cooking. Sometimes I spent just an hour (or even more if I deep-fry stuff) just scrubbing away to ensure every area is spotless clean.

But occasionally I do prepare main meals for my hubby and myself. Actually it's more difficult cooking for two persons than say, four. Sometimes we try to finish everything in one meal and end up having difficulty walking.

To cut the long story short, these are what I prepared for lunch today.

Black-sauced chicken, together with eggs and firm beancurd, recipe from Gina of KC. This is a really delicious dish, thanks Gina :)

Added a simple stir-fried cabbage for a balanced meal.

Friday, February 10, 2006

(Almost) Everyone's Favourite

Hands up! Those of you who loves chocolates. I can see a few hands shooting up. You may have noticed that I seem to be 'into' chocolates. Well, I made the Chocolate Pound Cake twice right? To be honest, I am not a HUGE chocolate fan, as I only have a liking for dark chocolates(must be 70% and above, to be exact) for snacking purposes. But I like to use it in my baking. Why? Well, most people like chocolates (of course there are those who have health concerns or just simply do not like them). So it's not that difficult to find someone to 'wallop' apiece of chocolate cake. Say if I made a durian(a thorny tropical fruit with a distinctive smell and taste) cake, I'm sure half the people would not even touch that. So chocolate is pretty much like a 'universal' food.

I like working with chocolate, although they are temperamental. Just one drop of water into the chocolate while it's being melted, and the chocolate is likely to be destined for the trash bag as they simply turn into a grainy mess. They are also sensitive to temperatures. Have you noticed that after leaving your favourite bar of chocolate in the refrigerator, they sort of became 'mouldy' after a while? But that's just chocolate 'bloom', doesn't affect the taste, just the appearance.If you want to temper the chocolate, that's another complicated story(at least for me) altogether.

I have tried twice at making chocolate ganache, using two different recipes. The whole mixture separated into a mass of chocolate solids and oil. So I gave up for a while, until I got the recipe for the Mocha Chocolate Glaze from Giselle. This recipe worked perfectly both times and the ganache glaze is simply delicious. That's the basis of the truffle centres below. I simply made the glaze, refrigerate until firm, scoop and shape them into balls. The ones on the left are simply coated with cocoa powder. The other one is dipped into melted chocolate to coat and then rolled in chopped almonds.

How about making some for Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Before & After

I didn’t have the time to post this earlier. I made this for a gathering at my brother’s place last Saturday. It’s actually the Chocolate Pound Cake, which I’ve also made previously. This time round I made the full recipe to fit my 21cm tube pan. Made a ‘boo-boo’(mistake) this time, after I placed the pan into the oven and turn around to wash the dishes, I noticed a small cup of black liquid sitting on the countertop. I had FORGOTTEN to add in the coffee! But well, can’t be salvaged now, so I added in more hot water and made myself a nice cuppa : )

Before frosting, a Plain Jane

Since I had to bring it for others to try, I had to ‘beautify’ the cake for presentation purpose. The glaze this time is much thicker, mainly because it has been refrigerated for half an hour and then whipped up. This enabled me to do a simple swirling effect on the top.

So here is the final product, the Chocolate Pound Cake after some ‘make-up’. Not terribly beautiful, but I think can pass. Sad to say, I’m not a great decorator of cakes.

Also had two small individual cakes for myself and hubby, can you see the little peaks on the frosting?

Tastewise, omitting the coffee in the cake didn’t change the taste drastically, as I increased the coffee content slightly in the glaze. Still so deep, dark and chocolatey.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Back to 'Work'

Hello everyone! I'm back! Hope you had a wonderful Chinese New Year. Today is the 'mid-point' of the 15 days of CNY, hope you will enjoy the remaining 8 days. Oh, today is "Ren Ri", which means it's everybody's birthday. Happy Birthday!

Here is my first post for the Year of the Dog. My hands have been itching since the day I left for Malaysia, so I can't wait to get my mixer and oven working again.

Made a loaf of bread, as usual, my favourite. I'm experimenting with the shaping of bread, so pardon me if they don't look very nice. This is a Sundried Tomato Braid, using a simple straight dough method.

When slicing it, an idea came to me when I saw some mozarella cheese sitting in my refrigerator. So I slice the loaf thinly, sprinkle some cheese and toasted them till crispy. This makes a pretty good appetizer.