Thursday, August 31, 2006

Back to Basics

This is a post about bread again. Nothing special, just a wholemeal loaf. In case you're wondering, I do not make crusty breads all the time. On some occasions, especially on days when there's little time but I still want to satisfy my 'addiction', I will go for soft loaves or buns. These are generally more straightforward to make, and don't require special preparations like using a baking stone or creating a 'steam oven'.

Made this wholemeal bread by tweaking an old recipe, adjusing the proportion of wholemeal flour so that I can get a 'decently soft' loaf and not a dense boulder. The bread turned out unexpectedly sweet, even though I've reduced the sugar. I'm guessing it's due to the milk. I had wanted a more savoury loaf to make ham or tuna sandwiches. Since this turned out sweet, I had it with jam and peanut butter.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Meme - 5 Things To Eat Before You Die

I've been tagged by my lovely pal, Gattina (who takes some very stunning food photographs), for the above meme, which originated from The Traveler's Lunchbox. It took me some time to gather my thoughts and I came up with the list below:

1) Durians - a thorny fruit which begets an equally thorny relationship with many people. You would either love it or hate it. For myself, it's love all the way. Take a look here at the tropical King of Fruits.

2) Cheesecake, like this

3) Egg tarts - specially the ones from Hongkong, where the pastry literally flakes apart on the first bite and the egg custard melts on the tongue.

4) Pasta - linguine, spaghetti, farfelle or fusilli, take your pick. Pair it with a rich meaty bolognaise sauce or simply some good olive oil for a satisfying meal.

5) Lastly, a good loaf of bread to round it off.

I would like to tag my friends for this :)

1) Grace

2) Ellena

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Satisfactory Meal - Part I

I've been busy the whole of yesterday morning, preparing my Saturday lunch. Managed to cook a soup, plus fried beehoon(rice vermicelli), and some delicious 'fried' chicken wings.

After looking at the black bean soup from Ching's blog, it brought back some good old memories. So I bought some lotus root to make this familiar soup.

These wings are prepared using Zu's recipe. They are actually baked using the oven, making this a healthier version of the usual deep fried version. But these are just as crispy, with the advantages of being easy to prepare and no 'aftermath' to clean up after all the deep frying.

Of course I couldn't miss out the main course, otherwise the hubby's stomach would not be 'filled up'. Here is my first attempt at frying beehoon. This recipe is special in a way that it requires soaking the dry beehoon in a seasoning liquid containing soya sauces until soft. Then it's fried in the usual way, and thereby achieveing a lovely and even brown color.

A Satisfactory Meal - Part II

Last night we went to Pontini, my favourite italian restaurant. It was a belated birthday dinner for me, as I was too tired from work during the weekday to enjoy the sumptous dinner. I managed to take some pictures of the main courses this time. Pardon the poor picture quality as I am not good at taking shots under the orange restaurant lighting.

Hubby's main course

My main

Dessert time - a Marbled Cheesecake ordered by hubby specially for me.

The cheesecake is fantastic, smooth, creamy and rich. We could only manage 1/4 of the cake there, brought the rest home and took some shots of the inside. Look at the concentration of the chocolate in the centre, simply indulging.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Another Coffee 'Fix'

Not sure if you have noticed, I am usually making the same old boring stuff. Breads will of course be a staple, followed by butter cakes and chiffon cakes. The main reason is that I bake cakes and cookies in the evening after work, so I don't really have time for complicated items that needs frosting or detailed 'decorating'. So pardon my 'plain jane' cakes.

Chiffon cakes are also a favourite of mine since young. This is a coffee chiffon, great with a cup of coffee, just for a double dose of caffeine.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rose and Mary - The Perfect Liaison

No, I'm not referring to people, I'm talking about the herb - rosemary. According to Cooking-Dictionary by, rosmary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a herb with silver-green, needle-shaped leaves, a strong flavor reminiscent of lemon and pine and a strong, sharp camphor-like aroma. Like many herbs, rosemary is also said to contain antioxidants and have antiseptic properties.

Before I start sounding 'medicinal', I must say this is my first time using fresh rosemary. I love using dried rosemary leaves, from infusing them into my pasta sauces to sprinkling onto grissini, the aroma never fails to 'intoxicate' me. I managed to get a packet of fresh rosemary from the supermarket, at about fifty cents a sprig. Too bad I don't have 'green fingers', otherwise I could have grown them at home, for a ready supply of my favourite herb.

Used up all the four sprigs for two items. First up - Panmarino, or Potato Rosemary Loaf, recipe from.....where else? The Bread Baker's Apprentice. This loaf has a tender moist crumb due to the use of mashed potato, coupled with a slightly chewy crust and fresh herb flavour.

Next was a tender and juicy rosemary roast chicken. I marinated the chicken overnight to develope the flavours and it was certainly worth the time. I was rewarded with a dozen 'thumbs up' from hubby. I served it with potato salad and sauted sesame green beans.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

S Bread

I am addicted to rustic bread making, and I am blatantly happy about it. Ever since buying The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart a few months back, I am still spending time 'poring' over the wide variety of information and recipes.

I thawed out half of my pate fermente and made a 'long-winded' recipe - Pane Siciliano. It is a long recipe since it takes one day for to make the pate fermente (pre-ferment), mixing of the main dough the next day, followed by overnight retardation in the fridge. Finally on the 3rd day, the shaped dough is ready to be baked. I managed to use only two days since my pate fermente had been sitting in my freezer, ready to go.

This bread has a slightly gritty and nutty flavour, due to the use of semolina flour combined with bread flour. I chose to shape it into an S-shape, following the tradition. Only after baking then I realized that mine is an 'inverted' S, silly me.

Friday, August 11, 2006

That's Peanuts!!!!!

I was 'jolted' to make these cupcakes when Gina of KC posted her recipe for Peanut and Raisin Butter Cake. Then I recalled I still had a bottle of peanut butter in my cabinet, so I decided to use some to make these cakes.

I adapted Alice Medrich's marble cake recipe for these. Actually all my butter cake recipes are modified from her recipe. With the use of yogurt, the butter cakes turn out incredibly moist and soft. Another reason is that it uses about half the amount of butter in the usual butter cakes. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a health freak. It's just that if I can achieve a tender and fluffy cake with less butter, why not?

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

225g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
190g sugar
60g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
50g creamy peanut butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup nonfat yogurt

Chopped nuts for sprinkling (optional)

1) Have all ingredients at room temp. Preheat oven to 180C and grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
2) Sift together cake flour, baking powder and baking soda.
3) Cream butter and peanut butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Dribble in eggs slowly, about 1 tbsp at a time, beating constantly for about 2 mins.
4) On LOW speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by ½ the yogurt. Beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, then remaining yogurt and the last of the flour, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
5) Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle nuts on top, if using.
6) Bake for 30 to 35 mins or until top is light golden brown and skewer inserted comes out clean.
7) Cool in pan for 5 mins. Unmold and cool completely.

Note: depending on the brand of peanut butter used, the amount of sugar may have to be adjusted accordingly. I used Skippy's and 190g is just nice for me.

Was searching for my new muffin cups(I use, and re-use the disposable type) when I saw my mini tartlet moulds. Decided to 'resurrect them' (they've been in my cabinet since the last time I made the dim sum tartlets). Quite cute I think :)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Practice Practice Practice

I made some french bread dough to practice my bread shaping skills. The Bread Baker's Apprentice is a truly good bread book, in my opinion. It has several pages on how to shape doughs into aesthetically beautiful rustic breads. Mine are far from beautiful, that's why I have to practice, practice and more practice.

Various shapes

Tabatiere - french for pouch

French Epi - wheat stalk , not very well done, so dare not show the full stalk. For a beautifully shaped epi, check out Gattina's, makes me so envious.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I have been ill since Tuesday :( . The sore throat and flu came on overnight, and I woke up with a super sore and parched throat. Had been given two days medical leave, but went to work on the second day anyway. The doctor said to have lots of rest, but I needed to do something to take my mind off the sore sore throat. I chose something simple and here is my bi-colored cupcake.

It's made using a marbled cake recipe, but instead of swirling the batters, I made two separate layers. Like a friend said, don't have to decide between butter or chocolate cake, have both cakes and eat them.