Having been inspired by my little trip to the House of Anli yesterday, and their beautiful demonstration of some delicious dishes, I decided to bake up my version of the very same items. Well, I could have done the exact same thing but I decided that changing some of the ingredients to suit my finicky family’s taste buds would be best. So, I settled on a fresh salmon and asparagus quiche instead of the quiche Lorraine we had been treated to the previous day.
Taking all opportunities to add in some vegetables to up the health quotient, I added some sliced capsicums and tomatoes along with the fresh baby asparagus. I began with a simple pie/quiche crust which I blind baked and left to cool. Meanwhile, I sautéed some sliced leeks, to which I added the baby asparagus. When the asparagus turned a bright green, I took it off the stove and let it cool. The salmon, which I had sprinkled with some dill, salt and pepper and steam-baked separately, was then broken up into pieces and added to the pie crust. In, also, went the mixture of asparagus and leek, along with a good handful of shredded parmesan cheese. Separately, I broke 3 eggs into a bowl and added some milk, cream and seasoning to it and mixed it well. This mixture also went into the pie crust. The final touch was a lovely arrangement of sliced green bell peppers and tomatoes on the top. The quiche was ready to be baked and 30mins later, the mouth-wateringly delicious smell of cheese, crust and salmon permeated the air. Dinner was ready!
Dessert, however, was yet to be prepared. Again, having been influenced by the previous day’s demo, it had to be a pear cake. However, since I had some fresh pears that were perfectly ripe on hand, I decided to use these instead of the canned ones recommended. After having peeled and quartered four pears, I added 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and lemon juice from half a lemon and poached them till tender. I whipped up the cake batter (which consisted of creaming/beating 240g butter and 200g sugar till pale and creamy, adding 4 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla essence, and finally folding in 250g plain flour and 26g baking powder) and arranged the slices of cooled pears on the very top and baked them at 170deg C till golden (approximately 50mins).Voila, dessert was ready. All that was left to do was to tuck in. Bon appetite!
It has been ever so long since I last used my French, but this morning, I was in luck. My dearest friend, Y, had invited me to an acquaintance’s home-cum-home décor store for a French cooking demo. While I had … Continue reading
It’s been quite a while since my last posting and I do apologise for the delay. It’s just that we were on holidays down under and whle there most amount of time was spent sight-seeing. Well, thats the idea of travelling I suppose
We did have a lovely time in both Melbourne and Sydney,the two cities that we visited this time round. Indeed, most of the Aussies we came in contact with were extremely friendly an helpful! We made various trips to the outskirts and nearby towns/cities and the scenery was breathtaking!
My four year old had an amazing time trying to cuddle kangaroos and koalas while my fourteen year old niece enjoyed her fair share of hot chocolates and potato wedges with the quintessential sweet chilli-lime sour cream.
We all stuffed ourselves silly with traditional scones, heavily piled with devonshire cream and thick lashings of jam. Yummzz. Although I must admit we did tire of them by the end of our trip.
All in all, we had a fun trip, visiting wineries and strawberry plantations, going on cruises and admiring the coastline, looking at penguins as they returned home at Phillips Island and ofcourse, shopping!
I’ve been going crazy the last few days. Batches and batches of macarons I’ve baked, and then some more. No, I’ve not really lost my mind, it’s just that I have an order for various flavored macarons for a wedding and I’ve been working hard to finish everything on time. Finally, I completed the order this evening and am I feeling relieved, and pretty accomplished too. Well, you see, I decided to use this opportunity to carry out a little experiment. I’ve almost always used the Italian meringue method to make m macaron batter because not only is that the method advocated by Pierre Herme, but it’s it’s also known to be a very much more forgiving method. As you probably already know, macaron making is not for the faint-hearted or the easily-frustrated baker. It’s not exactly the easiest thing to bake up, let’s put it this way. Plus it’s more temperamental than a diva. Oh yeah, and I’m not even exaggerating. But I digress. So I wanted to carry out an experiment. I decided to use both the French meringue and the Italian meringue method and do a little comparison. Th basic difference between the two is that the French method involves just whipping up raw egg whites and sugar while the Italian method involves whipping up the whites with a cooked sugar syrup. The verdict? While the French method is much less cumbersome and easier since it doesn’t require cooking a sugar syrup, the Italian method is the one I prefer. Despite the extra step required in making the syrup and the hassle of using a themometre to check the exact temperature of the syrup (118 deg C), it gives a much better result. Both the macarons had the all-important feet or as the French would say ‘le pied’ (basically the little ruffles at the bottom of the macaron), but the Italian method gave a more pronounced feet and a smoother, flatter shell. I will be sticking to the italian method despite the extra effort required, it’s a lot less stressful knowing that the end result will not be a diva refusing to pretty up and show herself!
My litle girl turned all of four 2 days ago. I asked her over and over again what cake she would like for her birthday and her choice changed from day to day. She started out by asking for a castle cake (which I had made for her cousin last year), then changed her mind to a mermaid cake (whcih was the cake I made for her cousin 2 weeks ago) and finally settled on a swimming pool cake. Ofcourse, she also hesitated between a smurffette, princess and Dora cake too. As to the flavours inside, she was undecided till the very last moment. Strawberry or Chocolate? I practically took out the strawberry emulco and put it back a few times while she hesitated from one to the other. Finally she decided on chocolate. So back went the emulco into the drawer and out came the jar of nutella. Yeah, I figured that we should do a nutella cake for variety instead of the usual chocolate.
We decided on a nutella chiffon cake with a dark chocolate-nutella ganache filling and a fresh whipped cream frosting (ok I admit, I did most of that decision-making, but mainly in an effort to speed things up). I knew for a fact that she would love those flavours.
Italian for a ‘pick me up’, a Tiramisu does just that with it’s robust coffee-drenched sponge fingers layered with thick lashings of mascarphone cheese and topped with whipped cream and grated dark chocolate.
There are many versions of this popular Italian cake but my favourite Tiramisu recipe is the one that I have created. It’s extremely simple but most importantly, it does not contain any raw egg yolks which most recipes include. Samonella poisoning can be serious and even life-threatening, and I have little children at home so I try my best to avoid using anything raw in my recipes.
For the Tiramisu cake, you can either use sponge fingers or a sponge cake. Ofcourse, Italians will tell you that a Tiramisu is made using only sponge fingers, and no other substitute will do. However, if you are not a stickler to rules or care too much about how authentic your recipe is, by all means use a sponge cake. I have done so many times with excellent results. In fact, it results in a much more presentable cake since it tends to be alot sturdier.
In this recipe, however, I have used sponge fingers, mainly because I had a whole packet lying around in the kitchen. You will need about 250g of mascarphone cheese, 200ml of whipping cream and a cup of icing sugar, divided. Whisk the cheese with half a cup of icing sugar till its smooth. Then, in a separate bowl, whip the whipping cream with the other half cup of sugar. You will then fold in half the whipped cream into the mascarphone mixture. Dissove 4 tablespoons of instant coffee granules in 2 cups of hot water and allow it to cool down. Briefly dunk the sponge fingers into the coffee and line the base of a deep container with them. Next, layer with a third of the mascarphone mixture. Keep layering till you reach the top level. Spread the whipping cream on the top and grate some dark chocolate over it. Presto, your Tiramisu is ready. However, it’s best to let it mature in the fridge overnight for the flavours to mingle. Ofcourse, that happens only if you keep your project a ‘top-secret’ and hide it really well in the fridge. If not, they will be devoured before you even know it!
I decided that it was time for some wholesome scones. After all, we have been having cakes for weeks, thanks to the festivals and birthdays around this time of the year. In addition, I’ve been rather busy planning ouryear-end holidays, and after deliberating on three different continets (yes, not countries but rather continents), I’ve reached the decision that Australia it’s going to be. Our original choice was Europe (Paris and London) but the thought of handling two children in freezing winter made me decide otherwise. Then, Z, my teenage niece, wanted to visit Harry Potter World so we mulled over Florida. However, the thought of flying across the globe for one city did not appeal too much to my sensibilities. I could visit New York and some Eastern cities along with Florida if it was during the summer months but in winter, I dare not face the weather.
Hence, after eliminating the continents of America and Europe, we have settled on Australia. This particular country, as you know, has summer when the rest of the world is freezing and vice-versa, so it is the perfect choice. You know, talking about the UK and Australia, I always think of beautiful tea settings with dainty sandwiches, rich tea in porcelain teacups and….scones!
Since it has been a rather long time since I have last baked up one of these, I thought it was timely. The preparation for this simple yet delectable tea-time favourite is quite basic. All you need is some self-raising flour, sugar, butter and milk. Rub the butter into the flour. Add some raisins if you desire. Dissolve the sugar into the milk and add this wet mixture to the dry and form into a dough. Shape into little rolls and bake. It doesn’t take me longer than 30 minutes to get these ready and everyone, and I mean everyone, loves them! Serve these wholesome tea-time treat with some whipped cream, home-made strawberry jam and butter. Delectable
It’s quite amazing that you can use the same recipe, tweak it just a little and come up with something absolutely new. Yes folks, I’m talking about my chocolate yoghurt cake. This was the last of the four cupcakes I baked up for Eid al Adha last Sunday (I have already written about the other three in greater depth in my previous blogs).
No occasion or celebration is complete without some chocolatey goodness, don’t you agree? I’m a real chocolate lover, if you haven’t figured that out already and it’s difficult for me to ever get past a buffet dessert corner without sampling each and every one of their chocolate creations.
Which brings me back to my chocolate yoghurt cake. This cake, however, is suitable even for those people who don’t fancy chocolate that much (I wonder, do such really people exist?) because the flavor is subdued. That is due to the use of dark eating chocolate and minimal cocoa powder. If you prefer a stronger chocolate taste, feel free to increase the quantity of cocoa powder and reduce the quantity of self raising flour by the same amount. I opted for the milder flavour to cater to the taste of my guests.
The recipe as well as method for this cake is the same as the one for the almond cupcakes in my previous blog. The only difference is to include about a 100g of melted dark chocolate in the wet ingredients along with the butter, yoghurt, milk and teaspoon of vanilla essence. To the dry ingredients, add about 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder while eliminating the ground almond from it. Voila, that’s it, simple as anything. Just two bowls needed and some mixing required and you’ve got yourself some yummy goodness. All that’s left to do is round up a few close friends and enjoy, Bon Apetit!
One of the perennial favourites, I baked up a batch of these Almond cupcakes, among the four different types, for Eid-al Adha a couple of days ago. Almonds are use widely in baked goods, ranging from the delicate french macarons to crunchy almond cookies to buttery almond cakes. While I often bake almond loafs and cakes, I find that it’s best to make individual sized ones when it comes to serving for parties and dinners. Not only is it much easier and prettier to serve, it’s also much more convenient for guests to enjoy. In addition, the use of pretty cupcake cases eliminate the need for washing up of pans and the design/colour/motif on the cases can be picked to suit the theme of the party such that everything ties in perfectly.
These cupcakes were made using the mixing of wet ingredients to dry ones. By far, this is the simplest method of making cakes because all you require are two bowls. Absolutely no need for electric mixers or whatevernot gadgets.
Simply sift about 1.5 cups of self raising flour and mix it well with about 3/4 cups of sugar, 140g of ground almond and a teaspoon of baking powder. In another bowl, melt 140g of butter and add a cup of full-fat yoghurt as well as about half a cup of milk. Mix the mixture well. You may add half a teaspoon of almond extract. I prefer a mild almond flavour that is provided for by the addition of the ground almonds and a deep buttery smell so I often omit the extract. If you prefer a stronger almond flavour, by all means go ahead and add the almond extract, but don’t over do it since the extracts can be over-powering. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix till well combined. Do not over mix the batter because this might overwork the gluten in the flour and you will end up with a cake that has a tough crumb. Spoon the mixture into the patty tin lined with patty cases, sprinkle the top with thinly sliced whole almonds and bake for about 20 mins at 180deg Celsius or till golden brown on top.
Even if you have never baked before, you should still give this recipe a try, simply because it’s so simple and quick to mix up, and yet scrumptious till the very last bite!
The star of this evening was my little niece and her gorgeous cake. I must say I had a ton of fun designing, baking, crafting and finally decorating this cake. She had already told me that she wanted an oreo cheesecake for her birthday about 3 months ago, the only thing is that she had originally wanted an Ariel Mermaid cake and then she changed her mind to a Smurfs cake (all thanks to the movie she watched) and then finally about 4 days ago, she decided on a Mermaid and Ocean cake.
So I rolled up my sleeves and baked up two Oreo Cheesecakes for the first 2 tiers of the cake. And since I was already baking some chocolate chip cupcakes (read previous blog), I used some of the batter to bake up a small cake for the top tier of the Mermaid Cake.
The decorations included royal icing roses (in bright red, pale pink and orange) as well as a few other types of flowers in various shades as well as leaves, a royal icing swan and assorted candies and chocolates. The mermaid was created using a barbie doll which was dressed in a bikini top and fish tail, both moulded from marzipan. It was also accessorised with a pearl necklace, some bangles and earrings, all of which were again made using marzipan. I would have used sugarpaste/fondant but the only thing I had on hand was marzipan. Although it tastes a lot better than fondant, it’s a bit trickier to handle. The trick, however, is to use generous and frequent dustings of icing sugar while rolling/working with it.
All three tiers of the cake were frosted with fresh whipped cream which I tinted a light blue to mimic an ocean/water look. After frosting the entire cake, I used a much darker shade of blue and swept it across randomly over the light blue icing to create different shadings of blue and make it look more realistic.
The whole process of decorating the cake was enchanting, it really brought out the child in me. Even the birthday girl helped out by rolling the marzipan into tiny balls to make a pearl necklace for the mermaid. I get such joy in making and decorating every single cake and I get even greater joy when I see the look on tiny faces when they see their special cakes.