Food update June/July

>> Friday, July 17, 2009

Another long absence. I wish I have a good excuse, like I was planning a great escape out of my pinstriped prison, or I am starting an exciting new project which takes up all my time...

But no, I'm still the same old...yep, still doing the whole 9-5 and took on more work recently by doing Children's Ministry at BSF.

However, there's always time for doing what I love - cooking and baking. When I'm in the kitchen, the time flies and I'm concentrating and anticipating, and I hear not a sound in the background...

Okay, here are some food pics :)

1) Cookie time! I've been snacking on way too much packet biscuits at work these days. Now that we're on Level 25, the food/drink staff usually get to our floor last (usually at 11am or just before lunch!!!). Since I sit near the kitchen, as soon as I hear their trolley I make my way there for my daily snack session. But those cookies aren't that great. Not so bad when I dip them into my tea though!
Anyways, so I tried baking almond and double-choc cookies at home yesterday...
These are crunchy, chewy and not too sweet :) Perfect! I took them to work today as well!

2) Macarons...
This is bad photo, I know. I ate all of the other ones before the next morning when this lone flat macaron was sitting in the kitchen bench. This is inspired by Masterchef - the pressure test episode where they had to make macarons and panna cotta by Adriano Zumbo!
This is a jasmine rice flavoured macaron...tastes good. Takes wayy to long to make though. I'm not a great fan of macarons - they're a bit too sweet for my likings.

3) This is also inspired by Adriano Zumbo's croquembouche challenge :)
But this is just a plain puff pastry with strawberry cream filling. I love it! It's so easy to make and tastes just like Beard Papa's! I didn't have time to make custard filling so chose strawberries instead! Yummmmm.

Cooking is always fun when you have your friends rooting for you out there ;-)

4) Okay, this is also another Masterchef dish...I had no idea until now, how influenced I am by that show! This is lemon and date scone, with cream + berry preserves...
Easy peasy to make, and tastes great just outta the oven! Goes lovely with a pot of tea...hehe.

5) I've been eyeing this Villeroy & Boche cup for like a year! Finally received it as a present earlier this year and its been sitting on my bookshelf gathering dust, until one cold wintery afternoon when I was craving for a thick hot chocolate drink....

This is Nigella's receipt....which is rather rich and creamy. I love the addition of a cinnamon stick.

My work bench...

More cookies...


Some food updates after a long absence

>> Monday, May 4, 2009

Hello dear void...

I'm sick today and like any other sick days I am just bored out of my wits bedridden and unable to do anything. I think I have been stuck in my apartment for 5 days straight now, talk about being quarantined like a swine flu patient! Actually perhaps not completely quarantined as my sister has been breathing and eating along side with me all these times...and she does not seem to display any signs of flu like symptoms!

One does have a lot of time to ponder about life when sick with burning fever. With my ice-pack on my forehead, I thought about what I want to do for the next half of the year, and for a split second even came up with ideas on what to email my bosses for not ever returning to work. I imagine I must have smiled with that thought in mind... But now that I'm much more awake and less feverish, I am back to reality :p I know that 'In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps' true is that?! No matter what I plan for myself, at the end of the day, He is in control of everything.

Anyways, so I haven't been doing a great deal of cooking because I've been eating out heaps! I hope to eventually get into cooking again after I recover and things settle down....

Here are some pics...

We had a lot of pumpkin and sweet potato so we made them into mash and added flour to make into a dough.... then Jen and I had a competition to see who can make the best use of the dough... I made mine into pasta!

Voila, my chicken and basil with pumpkin/sweet potato pasta! (it needs a better name!)

Jen made pan-fried pumpkin/sweet potato gnocchi with oozing cheese inside...

Jen's poo shaped gnocchi ;)

It was dad's birthday and I wanted to make him lemon tarts! I used Pierre Herme's recipe for the lemon curd and Dorie Greenspan's recipe for the tart base, so what could go wrong?!

Plain lemon tarte without raspberries! Of everything I've ever made, this lemon tart is probably the most time consuming one... It is quite difficult to get the lemon curd right and I stood in the kitchen for hours getting it to cook to the right temperature and not a degree over!
But it's so worth it...The nicest lemon tart I've tried :P

I love Saturday morning - the only day in the week in which I can have proper breakfast. I love to make this Ricotta Hotcakes...light and fluffy with a hint of ricotta...yumm.

This is Coffee Creme Caramel....I love this and have made it at least 5 times! It tastes better than it looks... :) It's from Tessa Kiros' 'Piri Piri Starfish'.

I think this is blueberry buttermilk pancake from Neil Perry's 'Good food' or something. It turned out a disappointment actually.

Last not least, banana cake from Nigella's How to be a domestic Goddess!


Lemon Poppyseed Buttermilk Muffins

>> Friday, March 13, 2009

I think I've found it. My perfect muffin. I knew it the instant I opened the oven door and the faint aroma of lemony goodness came bursting through the open air...
I think this is also the first time I've used buttermilk successfully. I've had many drama with buttermilk before - all due to my ignorance and thinking that buttermilk is like whole cream milk + butter. I even threw away many buttermilk cartons in my fridge before in disgust thinking that they've seen better days when I saw the thickened textures and the slight sour smell. It took me a while to realize that they are supposed to be like yoghurt in texture and smell (afterall, they can't all go bad as soon as they've been in my fridge right?). Anyways, I digress. I just didn't expect ingredients as simple as the basics (e.g. buttermilk, lemon zest, poppyseed + flour/baking soda etc.) would taste as good as this with the perfect soft texture. I am going to make this over and over again until I get sick of it. As I said before, I'm a fan of simple light sweets (as opposed to heavy, rich desserts after dinner) so for me, this is a real treat. I halved the sugar in the recipe so it was just slightly sweet - just the way I like it.

Recipe is from here

1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan.

In large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest until light(ish).

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir this mixture into the egg mixture, in 2 or 3 additions, alternately with buttermilk. Beat only until combined - don't overbeat! - then spoon the batter into the well-greased (or paper-lined) muffin pan, filling the cups nearly to the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Makes 12 muffins.


Blueberry Muffins: Stir 1 cup fresh or frozen (don't defrost them) blueberries into the batter before spooning it into the muffin pan. Bake as for buttermilk muffins.

Chocolate Chip Muffins: Stir 1 cup chocolate chips into the batter before spooning it into the muffins pan. Bake as for buttermilk muffins.

Poppy Seed Muffins: Mix 1/4 cup poppy seeds into the buttermilk and let soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Add to the batter and bake as for buttermilk muffins.

Cranberry or Cherry Muffins: Stir 1 cup of chopped dried cranberries or dried cherries into the batter before baking. Bake as for buttermilk muffins.


Chana Punjabi

Ughhh. I'm sick. I always catch whatever comes around and never miss the latest virus epidemic. So it's a Friday and I called in sick and thought about what to feed myself for the rest of the day. I went to view my daily food blogs subscriptions and saw this recipe on NY Times cooked by an amazing foodblogger. This recipe comes from Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez who owns an Indian restaurant in NYC called Lassi.

I don't usually frequent Indian restaurants, in fact I don't think I've ever been to an Indian restaurant in Sydney before (unless you count those Indian stalls in the food courts). I also don't make Indian food at home too, because I am always intimidated by all the spices to use and what goes with what... However today when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. Probably because I haven't had chickpeas for more than 5 years?! Mad I know! And I've never cooked with chickpeas all my life...well today's the day!

I made a trip to my local Coles and purchased the most spices I've ever bought in my life - tumeric, ground coriander, paprika and garam masala (which is a mixture of other herbs and spices like nutmeg, fennel, cardamon etc.). Now, I don't know my spices at all...the only spices I'm familiar with are probably ground ginger, nutmeg (for gingerbread) and basil. I also had to get jalapeno which I've never bought before as it is not part of my regular diet. Wooo, I'm chartering into the unknown today :)

This recipe takes around 1 1/2 hours to make, so while waiting for it to simmer in the pot, I made myself a pizza with so much real (non shredded) mozarella cheese that it covered the whole pizza. Yuummmo. I can never cook when I'm too hungry.

So was this dish worth the time and effort?! Absolutely! It tasted sooo good with all the spices coming around so beautifully and that extra kick from the chili goes so well with the wonderfully soft hearty chickpeas. In fact, I had a huge bowl of rice to go with it right after my pizza. I had it again for dinner and wouldn't mind having it again for the rest of the weekend!

The below recipes is from NY Times and serves 4.

Chana Punjabi

1 tablespoon canola oil or other vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 small Thai bird chili, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon salt, or as needed

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

Cooked rice for serving (optional).

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat oil and add onion. Sauté until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and chili, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until tomatoes are very soft, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

2. Purée mixture in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pan and place over medium heat. Add paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, coriander, the garam masala, turmeric and lemon juice. Add chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

3. Cover and simmer until sauce is thick and chickpeas are soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir pan about every 10 minutes, adding water as needed (up to 1 1/2 cups) to prevent burning. When ready to serve, sauce should be thick. If necessary, uncover pan and allow sauce to reduce for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until desired consistency. Stir in cilantro, adjust salt as needed and serve with cooked rice, if desired


Tarte Fine Aux Pommes

>> Sunday, March 8, 2009

For me, this is the perfect apple tart and beats any apple pies I've made in the past which tend to be too heavy and sweet for my liking. I like my desserts light and simple.
I was quite impressed with the previous post on Plum and Blueberry Galette from Nigella Express that I decided to make Tarte Fine Aux Pommes (named because the apples are cut soo finely) also from the same book which is supposed to be the more elegant version of it and and not as bumpy lumpy.

Up close and personal

This proved to be one of the favourites in our Sunday afternoon ladies' high tea :p


Plum and Blueberry Galette

Before popping into the oven

This recipe is adapted from the book Nigella Express which uses nectarines instead of plums.
Since the nectarines in my fridge are rock hard, I thought plums would do the trick, and it did. This is the type of dessert that you can whip up in less than 5 minutes when you have those last minute dinner guests...or when you're just craving for something sweet after dinner and have nothing else in the fridge to satisfy that craving...

After the first slice...

I made this recipe twice after my first time. I didn't add any cream to the base the first time because I wanted it to be the healthier version! However later on, I found that adding cream completes it as it goes so well with the tartness of the fruit...


Mango, Yogurt and Raspberry Gelee

While typing the title of this entry, I contemplated on a word to use to replace 'Jelly' or 'Jell-o'. I don't think I could use a word like 'Jell-o' to describe this dessert because it reminds me of those supermarket gelatine powder I loved eating growing up, full of sugar and artifical colourings (my favourite was the bright green lime flavoured ones). I thought by using the French version of the word Jelly, it might make it sound more desirable and exotic?!

Anyways, there is a story associated with this dessert. It involved me spending a few precious lunch breaks walking to every single Coles in the CBD on my heels (painful!). I was determined not to stop until I find Davis Gelatine powder, which is the only unflavoured gelatine you can find these days... I had to give up eventually because they simply don't stock these anymore in supermarkets. One ordinary Sunday arvo, I was visiting a friend in a hospital near Kogarah and walked past this small Chinese grocery store. I went in hoping to find some bok-choi and came out with Davis Gelatine powder instead. Amazing (considering it's made in NZ)!

Anyways, there is nothing I like more than to use my food processor to blend things together. I find it relaxing to see everything being made into a smooth paste and you can control the colour by adding more or less of something. It's all very artistic I'd say! So for this gelee I used fresh fruit (mango and raspberry) pureed by the food processor and Jalna's organic yogurt and honey. I also used a bit of the 'nudie' drinks from Coles. It turned out to be a great combination.

How I wish my daily fruit intake are always in this form...

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