Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sorry guys, I was MIA*...

....because over the weekend I was in....

Pearl of The Orient - Hong Kong

I promised to come back with more pics and stories over the next few days. And for those who kindly left me comments, please give me some time to read through and reply okay? In the meantime, I leave you with this first :)

*MIA - missing in action

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Usual

What can be more 'usual' for me than a loaf of bread? Erm.....another loaf? No surprises here right?

Anyway, I was clearing my freezer, only to find some pâte fermentée(pre-ferment) sitting, dated one month ago. Since the quantity was not large, I thawed it down to make a small loaf of Pain de Campagne (french rustic bread).

My favourite part of the bread - the crust

Sherie, above is a pic of the yeast.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

It Rises.....and Falls

Something has been ringing in my mind for the past two weeks or so. It's French, it's fluffy, it's light, and....it's a dessert! It has been appearing in the forums I visit, and the food blogs I frequent, which is why I can't seem to get it out of my my mind. The only way out? Get in the kitchen and make it!

A soufflé(pronounced as soo-flay) is a dish which can be baked either into sweet dessert, or prepared as a savoury dish, depending on the 'base' chosen. Soufflé literally means 'puffed up', and this results from stiffly whipped egg whites which are folded in the base. During baking, the air incorporated by the egg whites expands, helping the soufflé to rise, and providing a feather light interior. Soufflés are usually served hot from the oven, because though it bakes very high, it also falls very quickly.

I chose this recipe from Food Network, because it does not seem too complicated, and the reviews are good too. Since I didn't have have Grand Marnier, I used expresso instead. I love pairing chocolate and coffee, they seemed to be very good partners in my chocolate cakes and frosting, and it didn't disappoint this time either.

I find it difficult to describe this dessert. It's rich (from the chocolate) but not overwhelming, sweet but not cloying. The top crust is crisp, yet the interior is so light. Looking at the picture above, it make look like a pudding, but actually it's very very 'cloud-like'. It's a great way to end off the meal.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

World Bread Day

Yes, tomorrow is World Bread Day. I couldn’t miss out the chance to participate in this event, hosted by Zorra of Kochtopf. Actually I had never participated in blogging events like Sugar High Fridays, but when Rene(thanks a million, Rene!) informed me of this event, I couldn’t miss the chance to talk about my favourite food – bread!

I guess my blogger friends would have known by now that I am a major bread addict(I jokingly call myself MBA), baking bread at least once a week, and that would usually be my breakfast loaf for the week. I do not have actually have a favourite bread, though I have a favourite category, which is rustic style breads, those with a crusty exterior paired with a chewy crumb, best eaten dipped into some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or served with some nice cheeses. That, to me, is an enjoyment.

I was debating what bread to bake for this event. Since I am from Singapore, should I make some Asian style buns, which are usually very soft breads that encase a sweet(eg custard) or savoury(like sausage) filling? Or stick to my favourite kind of breads, which generally takes more time to prepare due to the long fermentation times? I chose the latter(no surprises here huh?)

Here is what I made for this event - Rosemary Focaccia.

I have made this Italian Bread previously. This time, I chose to shape it into a foccacia – Italian flatbread. To make it more interesting, I chose to ‘plant’ something into this flat ‘dough field’ - like this.

Here's the kind of crumb which fascinates me

It had been fun baking this bread and now, writing about it. There will be a round up of all the entries submitted to Zorra on 17th October. I can’t wait to see an ‘international’ basket of breads from various parts of the world.

Monday, October 09, 2006

An Asian Snack

Recently I'm 'into' Asian kueh kuehs, even since I read in the newspapers that there is this stall in Tiong Bahru Market selling some really nice nonya kueh. I went in search of them, and true enough, the stall does live up to its name, producing some really good ondeh ondeh, tapioca kueh and sweet potato kueh.

Ondeh ondeh are little balls usually made from a dough of sweet potato/tapioca(cassava) flour, and encase a filling of gula melaka(palm sugar) in the middle, and coated with coconut shreds. Well made ondeh ondeh should have a skin which is not too thick, yet with a bit of chew, and most importantly, it should burst at the first bite, spurting the molten gula melaka into your mouth(or clothes if you're not careful).

Now I know why the stall at Tiong Bahru Market only makes ondeh ondeh on 3 days of the week. It's really hard work. First I had to steam the sweet potato, then knead the dough for the skin, chop the gula melaka into small pieces, wrap each ball individually(had to make sure the filling is encased properly within), cook them in boiling water, and finally rolling them in grated coconut. It was a relief to finally produce these morsels, after more than half a day's work, phew...

I think next time I shall just drop by the stall to pick these up to satisfy my craving. Before I forget, the recipe is from LeeLee. Do check it out if you are interested.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


If you’ve been blog-hopping quite a bit, like me, you may have noticed quite a few blogger friends are churning out mooncakes for the coming Mooncake Festival. I’ve seen some really well-made mooncakes, be it traditional baked ones, colorful snowskin or the cute ‘piglets’. Here I am joining in the fun, talking about mooncakes, but but but, I didn’t make them. I much prefer to buy them.

Following the ‘tradition’ for the past few years, I bought these from 'Tai Chong Kok' in Alexandra Village. I usually buy from their shop in Chinatown, but since I was in AV a few weeks ago, I thought I could save myself a trip then. If you like mooncakes of a good quality and reasonable pricing, Tai Chong Kok could be an option. But there are no elaborate packaging here though, which contributes to it’s low pricing.

White lotus paste with single yolk.

Having been around for many years, Tai Chong Kok is not one that produces fanciful mooncakes like the wide myriad on the market now(think foie gras in mooncakes). However, I found this new offering from them this year.

I can’t recall the full name, but it’s basically a buttery pastry encasing lotus paste and an egg yolk, studded with walnut at the sides. Actually this idea is not new, but is it a sign of keeping up with the times?

Ever since I found out that Crown Hotel is no longer producing my favourite yam mooncakes, I thought my mooncake buying would stop at the ‘moon pastry’ above, until I stopped by the booth set up by Imperial Treasure group at Great World City. A bite at the little morsel on the toothpick made me pick up two boxes instantly.

As you can see, these came with some ‘serious’ packaging. Each mooncake is individually packed, and came with a plastic knife and 4 little forks, how convenient right? The auntie at the booth was very nice, who even told us how much of the cost went into the packaging. A quick calculation revealed that the mooncake itself would cost as much (or as little) as the no-frills one I bought from Tai Chong Kok.

Anyway, costing aside, I must say the chefs at Imperial Treasure sure know the way to smooth lotus paste without the greasiness and overt sweetness as found in some other mooncakes. The skin is not too thick and the egg yolk (important for balancing the sweetness) is of a good quality, oozing bright orange oil as I cut through it. In summary, this is one of the best mid-price mooncakes I’ve had in a few years.

Mooncake Festival falls on 6th October, Friday. So grab a chair, make a pot of Chinese Tea, savour some mooncakes under the bright moonlight(provided the moon is not obscured by the haze here in Singapore) with your loved ones. Happy Mooncake Festival!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Slowing Down

Yes, I'm am very slow on my baking lately. Seems like my brain cells are dying, with no fresh ideas on what to bake. I usually will make one item on Wednesdays after work, but last Wednesday I reached home, flipped through some books, surfed some websites, and still had no 'urge' to step into my kitchen, ended up I became a couch potato that evening, sigh...

Squeezing my brain juices dry today, finally made something simple and straightforward - Sardine Puffs

Pardon the burnt sardine filling at the edges, through this I learnt that it's better to keep the filling sealed than exposed to prevent burning and drying out.

Since my baking 'drought' has spread to my bread making as well , I'm on the look-out for loaves displayed in bakeries and delis. Here I present an exotic find:

Don't you find this loaf very intriguing? It's actually made from squid ink, from the new French deli Archangel in Great World City. This jet black loaf first caught my eye a few weeks back, when I had dinner at Archangel. I had a crab sandwich made with this loaf, simply because I couldn't give such an interesting bread a miss. I've seen squid-ink pasta, risotto and paella before, but in bread, this is a first.

In case you're wondering, there is no taste of ink in this bread(not that I've tasted ink before). Instead, it has a slight garlicky fragrance. According to the deli, it is infused with chilli as well, though I couldn't really taste that. All in all, it is one loaf which I would buy again, because it has a nice crusty exterior with a soft crumb, just the kind I like.

PS: what you see in the pictures is the true color of the bread, no photoshop effects. Total 'black-out' right?