Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Slow Week

In case you are interested in my lasagna recipe, I've already updated the previous post with the recipe.

I haven't been doing much for the past week. I tried the baguette recipe again last Sunday, but made into a boule, This time round I'm more satisfied with the result as I felt the interior is better.

Also baked a herb & olive foccacia on Wednesday. This recipe is from Giselle of KC. This recipe uses an equal amount of potatoes and flour, producing a very soft and moist foccacia, something very different from the foccacia I've eaten/baked.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

European Fare

Yesterday's lunch was a simple affair of beef lasagna, something which I've made previously. Just made some modifications to the bolognaise sauce that's all.

I also attempted something new - French Baguette. After baking breads for so long, this is the first time I'm making baguettes. This recipe is taken from the book Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille, and posted by a KC member who so kindly posted and tried the recipe when I asked if anyone has tried baking baguettes. The recipe uses only four ingredients, as with any traditional french baguette recipe - flour, water, salt and yeast. But it called for a total of 4 risings which is meant to achieve the chewy, 'holey' crumb and deep flavour of a true artisan bread. Take a look here.

Here is my baguette.

Overall taste is good, the interior is chewy and the crust crispy. It went very well dipped into balsamic vinegar and olive oil. But I have a lot to improve on. The dough is very sticky, as a result, it's really difficult to knead and that's why the interior is not quite what I expected. But at least I got started on this, more experimentations to come.

Recipe for Beef Lasagna

Bolognese sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
300g minced beef topside
125g canned tomato paste
2 pcs peeled tomato (whole canned), chopped
200 ml water
1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 springs thyme, leaves only

Heat up olive oil and sauté onions and garlic until fragrant. Add in beef and stir fry until cooked, breaking up the large pieces. Add in tomato paste, tomato, water and the herbs. Lower heat and simmer until sauce thickens. Set aside to cool.

Bechamel sauce (recipe taken from here, I made only half recipe)
38g butter
19g plain flour
½ can evaporated milk
90ml water
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Whisk in flour to mix. Gradually add evaporated milk, followed by water, whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, until mixture comes just to a boil. Press a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface and set aside to cool.

180g shredded mozzarella(use more if you like it cheesy)

8 sheets lagsana – boil as per package instructions, let sheets cool.

Assembly – I use a 7-inch square glass pan
1) Spread a thin layer of sauce at the bottom of the pan. Layer lasagna sheets on it, trimming the sheets to fit. Spread a layer of meat sauce, followed by béchamel, then cheese. Repeat for another 3 layers: lasagna – meat – béchamel – cheese.
2) Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake in a pre-heated 190C oven for 20 mins until cheese is bubbling. Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 5-10 mins until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 mins before serving*
* This standing time lets the lasagna ‘settle’. I’m not sure if this helps it to cut nicely, but so far I’ve done that and it cuts nicely.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cakes, Cakes, Cakes

This post is about cakes, as you might have guessed. To be exact, 3 very different types of cakes.

First up, cheesecake. I've been 'eyeing' this recipe from Nic's blog for a very long time. But as I have not made cheesecakes before, I kept procrastinating until now. Nic's recipe for this cheesecake came from this blog, and the cheesecake has an interesting name - "Bull's Eye Cheesecake". By layering the batters alternately onto the crust, a very nice 'striped' effect is achieved when the cake is cut. Here is how mine looks like.

Next up is the very famous Nutella Cupcakes, which of course originated from Nic's blog too. I must have been away in Mars for the past few months. I didn't know these little cupcakes have been 'travelling' arond the world on various blogs. But I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't follow her recipe exactly. That's because after I gathered all my ingredients (or so I thought), I realized I only had half a block of butter left. Determined to complete this, I used a light pound cake recipe which I had, and topped each with Nutella and ta-da! My Nutella Cupcakes!

Pardon my not-very-nice swirling effect.

After two pretty 'heavy' cakes, last on the list is a light and soft sponge cake. This Cotton Sponge Cake recipe is obtained from Hugbear, which cooks and bakes very well. Thank you LeeLee for this wonderfully soft sponge cake recipe.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Special Day

Today is hubby's birthday. I asked him what present he wants, he say nothing in particular. Since that's the case, I decided to plan something special for him.

We went to
Pontini, an Italian restaurant at Grand Copthorne Hotel. This is the third time we've been there, as we both like the food and service. They had a new chef at the helm and when we tried out his new menu for Valentine's day, we knew we would go back there again.

Starters were prawn salad and minestrone soup. Hubby had lobster fettucine for main course while I had crabmeat risotto with truffle sauce. Sorry, no pics for these as we were too busy eating. but the highlight of the evening was the dessert.

When I made the reservation, I specially requested for the chef to prepare a special dessert for hubby's birthday. As such I had absolutely no idea what the dessert was going to be until it's dessert time. This is what was served to us

I forgot to ask the manager what this cake is. All I can tell you is that this is sooooooo good. A rich chocolate mousse encased in two thin layers of cake and generously covered with cocoa powder. The mousse, though rich, literally melts away in the mouth and does not leave a 'heavy' feeling. As we already had so much food before this, it's quite obvious we couldn't finish the whole cake. So we packed it home and I took a picture of the half(or rather one-quarter) eaten cake. This is how the interior looks like. Can you see how chocolaty it is?

Arr.. we can enjoy this for another two to three days.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

French, Chocolates and Durian?

In case you're wondering how I am going to combine the three things together, let me tell you actually I am not. It's three separate items which I made.

Madeleines, from what I understand, are French sponge-like cookies baked in a shell-shaped mould. Personally I like these little cakes as they go very well with a cup of coffee and are not too sweet. Sometimes I would just pick them up when I pass by a Delifrance cafe. I've been wanting to bake madeleines for a long time. But to be traditional, I need to use a madeleine tray. I didn't want to buy one since I would be making these only once in a while. It's quite a waste. So I jumped at the opportunity when I knew I could borrow the tray.

This madeleine
recipe is shared by a KC member, Helena. Here are my madeleines, kind of cute isn't it?

I attended a class by Gina on chocolate moulding. It is pretty fun doing these chocolates. Basically we have the chocolate moulds, where we then melt some compund chocolates, pour/paint them into the moulds, pop them into the refrigerator and viola! Shaped chocolates like these:

I remembered some time ago I almost got myself a ice-cream machine as I wanted to make ice cream. Boy am I glad I didn't. Once again, my treasure chest of recipes, KC, has a few ice cream recipes which does not require an ice cream maker. I chose a recipe which did not require any eggs or cream(less sinful) and adapted it to make this Durian Ice Cream. For those who are not familiar with durian, it is a tropical fruit with a thorny outer shell. Inside there are are several 'compartments' housing the seeds covered with a creamy flesh. The thing about durians is that it has a distinctive smell, which some people find it off-putting, while others, like myself, love to bits. Here is my creamy durian ice cream, resting on a huge piece of galette wafer and of course, fresh durian.

Lastly I just want to share with you that for the Orange Blueberry Cupcakes post in my last post, I submitted the recipe to Diana's Desserts. For those who are interested in the recipe, the link is just below

Sunday, April 09, 2006

My Recent Bakes & Cooks

Realized that I am lagging behind a bit in posting, so thought I better post these today before I accumulate more.

I baked these mid last week

Pandan Chiffon Cake

I was trying out a new cake tin (though my cabinet is bursting soon) and trying to pinpoint a problem which I've been trying to figure out f or weeks. This turned out alright but alas, I haven't found the reason for my failed attempts previously.

Orange Blueberry Cupcakes

This was what we had for lunch yesterday

Fried Wantons, thawed some frozen wantons from the previous week's wanton mee

Grilled tumeric chicken, recipe from Gina of KC. Moist and tender with a crsipy skin.

Some wholemeal bread rolls for breakfast the coming week.

A Foodblogger's Meme

Been tagged by Eve for this meme.

1. Please list three recipes you have recently bookmarked from foodblogs to try:
a)Nutella Frosted Cupcake from
Nic's Bakingsheet
b)Silken Raspberry Mousse from
Nic's Bakingsheet
c)Bull's-eye cheesecake from
Dessert Comes First

2. A foodblog in your vicinity:
Quick N Easy Treats by Zu

3. A foodblog (or more) located far from you
Bakingsheet by Nic

4. A foodblog (or several) you have discovered recently (where did you find it?):
Pooh Play Room by Pooh Chim

5. Any people or bloggers you want to tag with this Meme?
The Baker's
She Bakes and She Cooks

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Chinese Pastries III

Seeing the title, I hope you are not groaning yet. I promised that I would do this again, and I kept my promise. Here is another spiral pastry - Spiral Pandan Pastry 香蘭酥.

The recipe is right below, together with some pictures to show the steps:

This is for the full recipe, I only made half recipe this time. For yam pastry, just replace the pandan paste with yam paste, and the filling to yam(steam yam, mash while hot and add in sugar to taste)

Water Dough (A)
200g plain flour }sift
28g icing sugar }
80g cold butter
80g water

Cut butter into flour mixture using fingertips or pastry blender until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in water and mix to form a soft, non-sticky dough. No need to knead. Cover and set aside to rest for 20 mins.

Oil Dough (B)
180g plain flour, sifted
90g oil (I use canola)
½ tsp pandan paste

Make a well in the centre of the flour and add in oil and pandan paste. Draw in the flour from the sides and mix to form a soft even coloured dough. So not over-mix. Cover and set aside for 20 mins.

300g green bean paste filling (C)

To assemble:
1) Divide (A) and (B) each into 10 equal pieces – Pic 2, and (C) into 20 pieces.
2) Taking one piece of (A), flatten and wrap (B) in it. Pinch to seal edges – Pics 3 & 4.
3) With the sealed side facing up, roll into a rectangle – Pic 5
4) Roll up to form a ‘cylinder’, turn the cylinder 90 degrees, with the end facing up – Pics 6 & 7.

5) Roll again into a long thin strip – Pic 8. Roll the strip into a short fat cylinder – Pic 9.
6) Using a sharp knife, cut the cylinder into two pieces. Pic 10 shows the cut side up. Cover and set aside to rest for at least 10 mins.
7) With the cut side facing downPic 11, flatten the dough, making the edges slightly thinner than the centre. Wrap the filling and pinch to seal – Pic 12. Try not to 'tug/pull' too hard, otherwise the layers will tear. Best to flatten the dough larger than smaller so it's easier to pinch 8) Place sealed side down - Pic 13 on lined baking tray and bake in preheated 185C for about 30 mins until the top and bottom are a light golden brown.

I'm no expert in these pastries, just gathered some points from the two attempts and from some reading up. Please bear with my long-windedness

Note 1: this type of pastries usually uses lard (most traditional) or shortening or even ghee to achieve a very flaky pastry. The original recipe uses shortening. As I am not a big fan of that, I used a combination of butter and oil (so far I haven't seen recipes that uses two different types of fats). For me, I find the flakiness is just right, with a light buttery fragrance. You can always try shortening.
Note 2: Do keep the dough(s) covered with plastic wrap while resting/waiting for their turn, to prevent drying out.
Note 3: when rolling out the dough, try not to press too hard on it. Same as when rolling into a cylinder, it doesn't have to be very tight. These will affect the texture of the finished product, resulting in a hard pastry and the layering effect will not be nice.
Note 4: If you find that the pastry has turned slightly soft the next day, just pop into the oven toaster to reheat for a few minutes and they will be as good as fresh.

Besides these, I also had a totally home-cooked lunch on Saturday. Using my pasta machine, I made wanton noodles using recipe from a KC member. To make it a complete 'package' like those sold outside, I made char siew using Gina's recipe. Even the wanton you see are wrapped by me, though I failed in the attempt to make the wanton skin. So here is my home-made wanton mee.