Posts Tagged 'Photograzing'

Pumpkin & Chocolate Brownies with Cream Cheese Swirls

Pumpkin & chocolate brownies with cream cheese swirls

Even though I don’t like winter very much, the last of autumn has to be given a proper farewell. In my opinion, there’s no better way to do it than to put a little bit of pumpkin in everything. Well, not everything, but you know, compatible things. Things like dark chocolate, hazelnuts. Yum.

Pumpkin & chocolate brownies with cream cheese swirls

I went into pumpkin overdrive lately, and bought one too many pumpkins. I made a pumpkin & walnut cake with cream cheese frosting for Halloween out of one, and the other was just sitting there on the table, sulking and looking very much neglected. It looked very handsome, nonetheless. Sunset orange, smooth, not the least bit scarred and very hard-muscled – literally. Oh well, someone’s gotta do the job and stick the knife in.

Pumpkin & chocolate brownies with cream cheese swirls

I really dread gutting a pumpkin. I’m the opposite of a gym bunny and carving a pumpkin gives me such an unpleasant and dangerous workout. The knife has to be exceedingly sharp, because the skin’s just impossible to get rid of. And I have to go in with such force, that many a times, I have almost lost a finger. Yes, gutting a pumpkin intimidates me. I spent a good half-hour wrestling this one to get to its flesh. Urgh, it was so not fun.

Pumpkin & chocolate brownies with cream cheese swirls

But once I got to the core of the problem (pun intended), I blitzed the pulp into purée, made the most complicated version of brownies I have ever baked (usually brownies are so very easy because you just dunk everything in), and made M very happy with my take on Autumn’s farewell. Admittedly, I wasn’t very happy with the brownie when I sneaked a piece fresh out of the oven, whilst it’s warm and soft. It should be good, but it tasted half-hearted, like what Deb from Smitten Kitchen said. Neither chocolatey nor pumpkin-y. I was so disappointed. I chucked it in the fridge, hoping to never see it again, not knowing that the fridge and some sort of ‘ageing’ process were about to work its magic on these brownies. M and I had it for dessert after dinner that night, and I was just picking at it absent-mindedly when M exclaimed, ‘This is some good, really moist brownie!’. I was in a bit of a disbelief, thinking that he probably wanted to make me feel better. I took a bite, and damn, he was right! They were very dense, moist, and chocolatey, with a hint of pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. The only thing I wasn’t happy about was how the cream cheese swirl got lost in the flavours (possibly because I used medium-fat cream cheese, rather than full-fat….silly Sainsbury’s ran out of the full-fat one, and also because I made very little of the cream cheese swirl).  It was still a solidly good brownie, nonetheless and I felt better about the day’s effort.

Pumpkin & chocolate brownies with cream cheese swirls

Here’s the recipe.

Pumpkin & Chocolate Brownies with Cream Cheese Swirl
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen for brownie, and David Lebovitz for the cream cheese swirl)

Brownie part:
175g plain flour
2/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
80g unsalted butter, plus more to grease the pan
160g 70% chocolate (I used Lindt)
205g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
295g pumpkin, blitzed in food processor to form purée
80ml sunflower oil
2/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
40g blanched hazelnuts, chopped

Cream Cheese Swirl part:
165g medium-fat cream cheese
50g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line 6 by 10 inch pan with baking parchment. Ensure parchment covers the sides of the pan too, so it’s easy to lift the brownie to cooling rack when everything’s done. Grease the parchment with some butter.
2. Combine plain flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Melt chocolate and unsalted butter to form a smooth mixture, and set aside.
4. Mix pumpkin purée, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg together and set aside.
5. Beat caster sugar, eggs, vanilla paste until fluffy and combined.
6. Add the flour mixture to egg mixture and beat till combined.
7. Meanwhile, beat the ingredients for the cream cheese swirl till combined and set aside.
8. Add 2 and 1/2 cups of the flour and egg mixture (from Step 6) to the chocolate mixture (from Step 3) and mix well.
9. Add the remaining (should be about 1/2 cup) flour and egg mixture (from Step 6) to the pumpkin mixture (from Step 4) and mix well.
10. Add a layer of chocolate batter (1/2 of the portion from Step 8 ) to the lined pan, followed by a layer of pumpkin batter (1/2 of the portion from Step 9). Repeat for another layer of chocolate batter. Now add the remaining pumpkin batter in blobs, alternating it with blobs of the cream cheese mixture (from Step 7). It is vital to work quickly because the chocolate batter sets pretty easily.
11. Swirl the mixture in the pan with a small spatula, making sure to work through to the bottom layer as the chocolate batter is quite dense. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the top.
12. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until set, whichever comes earlier.
13. Cool slightly in pan, then lift parchment out to cool brownie on a cooling rack.
14. Refrigerate when brownie is completely cooled, for flavours to develop and cut to serve. I think this would work well with a scoop of good vanilla ice-cream too.

Hope you will enjoy making this! Feel free to leave comments!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker, Tastespotting and Photograzing. Check out my profiles on PhotograzingFoodgawker and Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

Happy Halloween: Pumpkin & Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my fourth Halloween here in London, and man, have I been the opposite of happening! I was busy sobbing from leaving Singapore in 2007, so Halloween was non-existent. In 2008, we went to a Halloween house party in 2008, dressed as policewoman and man-on-the-run. The idea is M dug his way out of prison with a spoon, and I went hot on his heels. M got his jailbird uniform from Camden at about £25 and I bought police accessories for only £5 and stuck them on my clothes. This was my first and possibly only Halloween costume party, ever.

Halloween 2008

Halloween 2009 was supposed to be a house party again, but ooops, poor me fell ill and we skipped!

This year, I morph from policewoman to a home baker covered in pumpkin cake batter. How unfortunate, I could pass off looking like a slave now, no costumes needed! Anyways, we both think we’re a little old for costume parties, so we are settling for a quiet cooking weekend instead (paella, pintxos night etc). I didn’t want to pass on Halloween just like that, so I went out and picked out some cute pumpkins, and did what I do best – bake!

Pumpkin cake

Pumpkin cake

Pumpkin cake

Nothing very adventurous here in terms of recipe, but a spiced cake, and some pumpkin-wrestling are firsts for me. Since I didn’t have a clue on spiced cakes, I turned to The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook  for trusty recipes. This book has never ever failed me. I tweaked the carrot cake recipe by substituting carrots with pumpkin purée, adding a little nutmeg and all-spice, and omitting the ground ginger. Also turned down the sugar volume on the cream cheese frosting because M and I are terrified of frosting that is too sweet. The result? An incredibly moist cake gently perfumed with cinnamon and nutmeg!

Pumpkin cake

Pumpkin cake

Pumpkin cake

I also had more fun with the food styling and photography, this time shooting on a black table top to convey autumn vibes and the deep dark mood of Halloween. I thought my cream-coloured table cloth would spell summer too much; besides, the colours contrasted nicely with the dark table top.

Pumpkin cake

Pumpkin cake

Pumpkin cake
Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin & Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

For the cake:

300g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste
300g pumpkin, blitzed in food processor to form purée
100g shelled walnuts, chopped roughly (Set aside extra to decorate)

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line two 8-inch (diameter) round baking tins with baking parchment.

2.Beat sugar, eggs, vanilla paste and oil in a large bowl till well-combined.

3. Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, spices. Add gradually to egg mixture from Step 2, and beat till well-combined.

4. Stir in pumpkin purée and chopped walnuts.

5. Pour mixture into baking tins and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and sponge bounce back when touched.

6. Cool cakes slightly in tins before unmoulding onto cooling rack.

7. When the cakes are completely cooled, sandwich and frost all over with cream cheese icing and decorate with walnuts.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g icing sugar
230g full-fat cream cheese, cold

1. Beat butter and sugar till well combined.

2. Beat in cream cheese until frosting is light and fluffy. Sandwich and frost!

Pumpkin cake

Pumpkin cake

Hope you will enjoy making this! Feel free to leave comments!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my profile at Photograzing to see other featured posts!

Spicy Garlic Panko Chicken Wings and Roasted Vegetables


Spicy garlic panko chicken
I was watching Tyler Florence on Food Network a couple of days ago and damn, he made me salivate at his delicious-looking rosemary panko chicken. Turns out that we just bought some panko breadcrumbs from Japan Centre and I thought I could whip up a healthy-ish crispy chicken dish without deep-frying anything! I made some mental notes on Tyler’s techniques and came up with a recipe, which thankfully turned out AMAZING!

Spicy Garlic Panko Chicken

This recipe is really easy although it calls for quite a bit of washing up, not that I mind because the chicken wings were downright moist on the inside, crispy on the outside, in short they were exceedingly tasty! M, who is the biggest fan of crispy chicken wings, loved them and I was happy to be able to indulge in healthy crispy wings that weren’t deep fried. Do try out the recipe and feel free to tweak the flavours you want for the chicken! We served these with some roasted vegetables that were flavoured with rosemary and they were delish!

Spicy garlic panko chicken

Here are the recipes:

Spicy Garlic Panko Chicken Wings

10 chicken wings, washed and patted dry
1 cup plain flour + 1 teaspoon salt + dash of black pepper (mixed)
1 cup whole milk + 2 eggs + 3 teaspoons tabasco sauce +1/2 teaspoon salt (whisked)
90g panko breadcrumbs + Marinade (see below for Marinade recipe)

Marinade:

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced (can add more if you want it to be more spicy)
1 sprig rosemary leaves
- Pounds all marinade ingredients together and add it to panko breadcrumbs, mix well.

1. Coat chicken in plain flour mixture and shake off excess.
2. Coat chicken wings in egg mixture, followed by panko mixture.
3. Rest wings in fridge for 20 minutes to set (so crumbs won’t fall off during baking). Lay out wings on tray lined with foil.
4. Bake in oven preheated at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes (time depends on your oven) and then get a golden brown sheen on the wings by baking it further for 3 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

Roasted vegetables:

150g zucchini, sliced
300-400g sweet potato, peel and cut into wedges
1 and 1/2 sprigs of rosemary leaves
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Lay vegetables on tray lined with foil. Sprinkle rosemary leaves, salt and pepper. Add a generous lug of olive oil.
2. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes till vegetables are softened and then at 200 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes.

Enjoy!

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*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my profile at Photograzing to see other featured posts!

Kampar Chicken Biscuits – Kai Zai Paeng


Kampar Chicken Biscuits aka Kai Zai Paeng

I have been craving for Kai Zai Paeng (鸡仔饼), otherwise known as Kampar Chicken Biscuits, for a while. These famous biscuits originate from Kampar, a town in the state of Perak in Malaysia, and boast a distinctive and aromatic flavour that can only belong to Kai Zai Paeng. Strange as it sounds, it is the intense flavour imparted by the salty and pungent fermented red beancurd (aka Nam Yee 南乳) that reels people in. Pungent = delicious? Ironic, I know, but it’s true! Nam Yee is often used in Chinese cooking, and the pungent smell of the fermented beancurd transforms into the most addictive aroma after cooking. It is also eaten as it is, as a wonderfully savoury condiment to plain Chinese-style porridge.

Kampar Chicken Biscuits aka Kai Zai Paeng

Since I had Nam Yee, and plenty of white sesame seeds in my pantry, I thought I’d whip up some Kai Zai Paeng. Even though these biscuits are called Kampar Chicken Biscuits, there isn’t any chicken in it, but the recipe I found calls for a touch of chicken stock to give additional flavour and new meaning to the name of this delectable snack.

Kampar Chicken Biscuits aka Kai Zai Paeng

Kampar Chicken Biscuits aka Kai Zai Paeng

The verdict? These biscuits turned out perfect. They taste just like the store-bought ones, and are very fragrant with a distinctive savouriness and aroma coming from the sesame seeds. They were thin, very crispy and too addictive! M and I keep reaching into the jar for more!

Kampar Chicken Biscuits aka Kai Zai Paeng

You would be happy to know that these are very easy to make. The recipe is laborious, in that you need to roll out the dough very, very thinly to get the perfect texture (my arms are still aching from the rolling and it’s been 2 days since I made these), but putting the dough together is ridiculously easy. I have tweaked the recipe as I don’t have all the ingredients, and replaced some (namely the candied winter melon) with similar flavours from things that can be commonly found in the average Asian pantry (kecap manis and more honey).

Here is the recipe.

Kampar Chicken Biscuits aka Kai Zai Paeng
(adapted from Little Corner of Mine)

Portion A:
295g self-raising flour
120g icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon chicken stock powder
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped very finely
80g white sesame seeds

Portion B:
1 medium egg
2 tablespoons honey
2 pieces Nam Yee, mashed to paste
1 tablespoon kecap manis (Indonesian thick and sweet soy sauce)
100ml sunflower oil

1. Mix all dry ingredients in Portion A. Mix all wet ingredients in Portion B.

2. Add Portion B to Portion A, and mix till the dough is combined. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

3. Roll out dough to 2mm thick between two pieces of baking parchment. Use a cookie cutter to punch out the shapes you want. I used 48mm diameter round cutters and made 131 biscuits from the dough. Place pieces of dough on baking tray that has been lined with baking parchment, ensuring a space of at least 1.5cm between the biscuits to allow for expansion (this is also the reason why you have to roll the dough thinly because they expand a little).

4. Bake in oven that has been preheated at 175 degrees Celsius, for about 6 minutes. The timing will differ with different ovens. As the biscuits contain honey and are pretty thin, they can burn very easily, so keep a watchful eye!

5. Cool biscuits on cooling rack, this will make them thin and crispy. Store in airtight container when completely cooled, and exercise some restrain when eating them, will ya?

Hope you enjoy making these biscuits and let me know if the recipe works out for you.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Foodgawker and Photograzing. Check out my profile on Foodgawker and Photograzing to see my other featured posts!

Easy Dinner: Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

We were feeling lazy again the previous weekend, and as we chatted excitedly about our upcoming trip to San Sebastian, we couldn’t stop thinking about Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. I have very confidently proclaimed these to be the best ham in the world and so, how could we bring ourselves to wait for the trip before we indulge in some of this gem? We did the unthinkable again, plonked £18.50 for 100g of this precious ham from Selfridges, and went home to assemble another quick and easy weekend dinner for two.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Iberico ham and Manchego Cheese

Inspired by our meal at Cambio de Tercio (review coming up), we improvised and made some bruschetta with a tomato and basil dressing on top. This requires no cooking, whatsoever, and is delicious served with the ham and some Spanish Manchego cheese. Yes, Italian bruschetta and Spanish ham and cheese, frown if you must but trust me when I say this combination triumphs in its simplicity.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Iberico ham and Manchego Cheese
Of course, I couldn’t bring myself to make fresh bread, so I used a store-bought loaf of crusty white bread for the bruschetta. Just pop slices of the bread in the oven to toast them a little, and you’re good to go with the crispy babies.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Iberico ham and Manchego Cheese

Here’s the recipe for the tomato and basil salad. It’s so easy that I’m almost embarrassed to place this in the Cooking category of this blog!!

Tomato and Basil Salad

4 good-quality tomatoes, preferably the sweeter variety, roughly chopped

12 basil leaves (and accompanying stalks), chopped finely

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together, and serve on crispy, toasted bread!

….

Yes this is stupidly easy. And ridiculously delish with the nutty ham and  rich & crumbly cheese.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Iberico ham and Manchego Cheese

Enjoy!

P/S: I was experimenting with the DSLR again =).

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

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*Updated: This post has been  featured on Tastespotting and Photograzing. Check out my profiles on Tastespotting and Photograzing to see my other featured posts!

 

 

 

Lychee Mascarpone & Emperor’s Seven Treasures Macarons


Lychee Mascarpone and Emperor's Seven Treasures Macarons

This is a first for me on two levels. I have been encouraged by heavenwildfleur to join the Mactweets challenge for a while now, and yes, after making macarons a few times now, I am happy to say that I’m finally onboard with the folks at Mactweets! For this attempt, I’ve also used a new way of incorporating flavours into my macarons…with tea-infused jelly! As you can see, this is all very exciting for me!

Lychee Mascarpone and Emperor's Seven Treasures Macarons

This month’s Macattack Challenge 12 is PINK, and mind you, this is no ordinary pink. It’s PINK, representing the pink ribbons for the Breast Cancer Awareness month of October. I am very glad to be partaking in this on my first Mactweets challenge, as breast cancer is a debilitating disease that has struck close to home when one of my loved ones was diagnosed with it a few years ago. So most of all, whilst it is exciting to be caught up in the macarons buzz, this challenge is very meaningful to me. If you’re able to, please do spread the word and take part in the campaign for raising awareness on breast cancer. Thank you.

Lychee Mascarpone and Emperor's Seven Treasures Macarons

As I’ve mentioned, I am trying out a new way of incorporating flavours to my macarons. This is not a novel method, but it certainly is in my kitchen and thank goodness, it worked! My friends loved the macarons, even more so when they knew that these were made for a good cause.

I have always loved the Ispahan, a lychee-based rose pastry, and so for this challenge, I decided to make some lychee mascarpone macarons. I wanted to give another dimension to the sweetness of lychees, and to achieve this, I made some jelly infused with one of my favourite teas, Emperor’s Seven Treasures, which is a blend of different green and black tea leaves with fruity peach-like nuances. I thought this was a really delicious combination; the floral and fruity fragrance of the tea-infused jelly complimented the sweetness of lychees and white chocolate mascarpone very well! The watery and soft nature of jelly also cuts the thickness of the lychee white chocolate and mascarpone cream I made, and when eaten on the day after they were made, the cream and jelly came together as a wonderfully light filling with different textures to delight the palette.

Lychee Mascarpone and Emperor's Seven Treasures Macarons

Here are the recipes for the shell and filling.

For the macaron shells:
(adapted from heavenwildfleur)

100g egg white, aged
3g egg white powder
90g caster sugar
140g almond flour
160g icing sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon red food colouring

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius.

2. Sift almond flour and icing sugar together in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and egg white powder till soft peaks are formed. Whisk in caster sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. To the egg white mixture, fold in dry ingredients from Step 2 in 1/3 portions to combine. Add colouring, then fold in the mixture more vigorously. Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a generous dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far.

5. Pipe out the shells onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and leave them to rest for 25 minutes before baking.

6. When a crust is formed, turn temperature on oven down to 140 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking.

7. Cool parchment of baked shells on cooling rack. Unmould when the shells are completely cool.

For the Lychee White Chocolate Mascarpone Cream:

120g white chocolate
20g unsalted butter
150g mascarpone, room temperature
150g lychees

1. Melt white chocolate and butter and leave to cool.

2. Blitz lychees in food processor, remove the juice by pressing purée through a sieve. Retain 6 tablespoonsful of the lychee juice, and also retain all of the pulp.

3. Whisk mascarpone till loosened, and beat in white chocolate mixture till combined.

4. Add the lychee pulp and 3 tablespoons of lychee juice, beat till combined.

For the Emperor’s Seven Treasures Tea-infused Jelly:

1/2 tablespoon Emperor’s Seven Treasures tea leaves
120ml boiling water
3 tablespoons lychee juice (from above)
1 tablespoon gelatin (depends on the instructions on the packet and how hard you want the jelly to be)

1. Steep tea leaves in boiling water and lychee juice for 10 minutes. Filter.

2. Add gelatin to filtered tea and refrigerate to set.

3. Once jelly is set, cut jelly into small cubes.

Assembling macarons:

1. Spoon lychee mascarpone cream onto one shell.

2. Add 2-3 cubes of tea-infused jelly on top of the cream.

3. Sandwich, and you’re done!

There you go, my PINKarons for PINKtober and my first Mactweets challenge! Hope you enjoy making these and let me know what you think of the recipe!

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey. But if you adore lychees, you might like my Lychee Chiffon Cake with Matcha Whipped Cream Frosting. Also check out my Lychees, Rose and Raspberries Entremet here – The Ispahan Cake!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Foodgawker, Tastespotting and Photograzing. Check out my profiles on PhotograzingFoodgawker and  Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

Kimchi & Olive Fried Rice


Kimchi and Olive fried rice

We had some friends over for sushi yesterday night. We had oodles of fun stuffing everything we loved into maki rolls and ousting each other in virtual tennis on PS3. And then the fire brigade  (if I might add, one of the guys was very hot!) came in to rescue M and our friends who were stuck in the lift when M left to drive them home, with me squatting outside the lift in my pyjamas waiting for them to be rescued. It was a little boring at first, to wait for the firemen and lift engineer to come (thank goodness I had my iPhone 4 to keep me company for 1.5 hours) and then it got pretty scary when the lift kept dropping with every attempt to pry the doors open with six very large hands and a crowbar.  Thank goodness everyone was alright, although they had to be dragged out of the lift to the landing. So our night didn’t end till about 3am and M and I woke up feeling really tired this morning. Walking bleary-eyed into the kitchen, we realised the gravity of what we have done. Again. As usual, M and I were overzealous with food quantities and ended up cooking too much Japanese rice the night before. Our mantra is Waste Not, so even though it is a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon, and it is all very tempting to go out and have some fun, we decided to stay in and make a quick & easy lunch out of the leftovers. Besides, it gave me a good excuse to try out the Nikon D5000 I had borrowed from J. This was my perfect cure to ‘post-traumatic’ stress – a satisfying home-cooked lunch and a chance to dabble in food photography that is a little more professional than what I have done with my Lumix LX3.

Kimchi and Olive fried rice

Leftover rice is always good for making fried rice. And I decided to make one which had some of my favourite ingredients in it – lots of garlic, crab sticks (leftovers from sushi night), luncheon meat (otherwise known as Spam, but the Ma Ling brand I use is less salty), kimchi for that extra kick and preserved olive vegetables for an earthy saltiness. Might be junk to some, but oooooh it was delicious and incredibly satisfying. Most of all, it was ridiculously easy to make. I made enough for four servings (or two, if you’re hungry), and the extras can be kept for another day to be reheated for a weekday dinner.

Kimchi and Olive fried rice

Here’s the recipe for my Kimchi & Olive Fried Rice:

500g cooked Japanese rice, left overnight
200g kimchi
170g luncheon meat, cubed
4 crab sticks, cubed
1 egg
1 tablespoon preserved olive vegetables
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Heat vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry chopped garlic on medium heat till light golden brown.

2. Add crab sticks and luncheon meat and fry till lightly browned.

3. Stir in kimchi, followed by rice. Toss the rice till it takes on the colour of kimchi.

4. Stir in egg and preserved olive vegetables, and fry on high heat till rice takes on a drier texture. I like my rice a little charred and chewy, so I fried the rice for a little while longer on high heat. And it’s done!

Easy, isn’t it? You can add anything you want to fried rice, really. Chinese sausages, minced meat, dried scallops, XO sauce, the works. But I really like it with kimchi and preserved olive vegetables, so there.

On a geeky note, I like how the photos are turning out with Nikon D5000. I’ve never used a DSLR to photograph my food, so this is a first and it’s looking a lot better than what my Lumix LX3 can do. Might make a switch, but I think I will need to be more educated on DSLRs and of course, save up for one!

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Foodgawker, Tastespotting and Photograzing. Check out my profiles on PhotograzingFoodgawker and  Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

 

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Bailey’s & Coffee Buttercream

Morning world! I was up pretty early today, with my mind constantly whirring about my coughawfulcough thesis writing and some exciting macaron ideas. I haven’t gotten round to making any macs lately owing to a month-long trip back to Singapore and keeping up with the mundane things-we-have-to-do sice we returned. I have been dying to put some action into egg whites. Not sure if I can get round to making some today (new flavours coming up!), but I shall quieten my overactive mind with a little post on some macarons that I made back in July this year.

Vanilla Macarons with Bailey's & Coffee Buttercream

So, I’m not a big coffee drinker. In fact, I can’t take any beverages that have coffee in it. Shame, isn’t it? I could never understand how it feels when people say ‘Oh gosh, this coffee is soooooo good’, or when they quip, ‘I could do with a coffee right now’. I can’t fathom what it feels like to be addicted to coffee, to be reliant on and appreciative of it, and quite frankly, I feel…..left out.

BUT nature has its ways. It’s all about balance, homeostasis (sorry couldn’t help but bring this biological term up, been repeating it a couple of times in my now 120-page strong thesis). And I have been made to love coffee-ish desserts even though I can’t drink coffee.

Drinking coffee makes me want to lie down. For those of you who have witnessed a rather red-faced me (no I wasn’t angry, I just lack alchohol dehydrogenase) feeling faint after a teeny tiny bit of alchohol, drinking coffee kills me. Quite embarrassingly so, it messes with my head far worse than alcohol, it gives me such a nauseating headache, that once after a coffee initiation by my aunt in the form of Starbucks mocha, I quickly apologised to her and said ‘Sorry aunt, I really have to go home right now’. I never took another sip of coffee since. But it’s really okay, because I still am able to enjoy tiramisu, coffee ice-cream, coffee cake, coffee bread, coffee ribs. I suppose I may be regrettably aversive to only liquid coffee.

Vanilla Macarons with Bailey's & Coffee Buttercream

One day in July, I was craving for coffee something. I wanted to be surrounded by the nutty aroma that we can only get with coffee. Tiramisu seemed much too heavy, and I would just end up making too much for the two of us. I didn’t think I wanted to have a slice of coffee cake every day for the rest of the week.  And so, I decided to make something that was manageable in small numbers, something that I have been addicted to making and eating for the last couple of months. Vanilla Bean Macaron with Bailey’s & Coffee Buttercream was it. Let’s just say they were yum, atrociously good with liquid coffee (or so the husband says). I was inspired by salted butter caramel and added a tiny bit of salt to the buttercream filling so it cuts the sweetness and brings out the flavour of Bailey’s. So…yay! Coffee for me!

Vanilla Macarons with Bailey's & Coffee Buttercream

Here’s the recipe:

For the Vanilla Bean Macaron Shells
(adapted from heavenwildfleur)

100g egg whites, aged
3g egg white powder
90g vanilla sugar
140g almond flour
160g icing sugar
Some cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius

2. Sift almond flour and icing sugar together in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and egg white powder till soft peaks are formed. Whisk in caster sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. To the egg white mixture, fold in dry ingredients from Step 2 in 1/3 portions to combine. Then fold in the mixture more vigorously. Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a generous dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far.

5. Pipe out the shells onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle a little cocoa powder on the shells and leave them to rest for 25 minutes before baking.

6. When a crust is formed, turn temperature on oven down to 140 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking.

7. Cool parchment of baked shells on cooling rack. Unmould when the shells are completely cool.

Question: I wanted white shells, but somehow my oven coloured them. Anyone knows how to get whiter shells?

For the Bailey’s & Coffee Buttercream

125g unsalted butter
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons cooled coffee (strength depends on your preference and type of coffee, I filtered 3 tablespoons of Nescafe in 6 tablespoons of water)
2 tablespoons Bailey’s
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt

1. Beat butter and icing sugar together.

2. Add coffee, Bailey’s and salt, and beat till well combined.

3. Pipe on cooled shells and sandwich them into macarons.

These make 60 shells, so that’s 30 macarons.

Hope you enjoy making them! Let me know how they turn out.

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my Photograzing profile to see my other featured posts!

Goodbye Summer: Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake

As summer peaked in July, strawberries and cherries were everywhere, and so very plum! As my husband craved for cheesecake, it was a no-brainer for me to procure some strawberries from the grocer to make us some strawberry swirl cheesecake. It’s, after all, not everyday that the husband announces his longing for something sweet.

Strawberry Cheesecake

I haven’t made cheesecake in a while, because of its sheer richness and really, there are just two of us, sharing them between us would just teleport us straight to jelly belly hell. But I couldn’t resist. Creamy cheesecake, marbled with tart strawberry swirls, atop a plateau of buttery crumb. Mmmm. It’s not everyday that strawberries are so plentiful, and in season, and so very cheap. Besides, I thought it would be oodles of fun to make some, I haven’t ‘swirled’ any of my baked treats before, or anything for that matter. Oh imagine the excitement of watching two contrasting colours merge imperceptibly into one! Ok, maybe it’s just the baking psycho in me talking. I do apologise for my graphic display of affection for making pretty eats.

Strawberry Cheesecake

The result? I got exactly what I asked for. Creamy cheesecake, laced with tart strawberry swirls, atop buttery crumbs. This spells summer for me, and as the heat slips from London much too quickly, I write to cling on to whatever that is left.

Here’s the recipe:

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake (adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

To create the strawberry swirls:

150g strawberries, washed, stems removed
1 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 tablespoon cornflour

1. Blitz all ingredients together into liquid (sort of a pulpy juice texture). Set aside or refrigerate for further use.

For the crumb base:

150g digestive biscuits, crushed into fine crumbs
50g unsalted butter, melted

1. Mix crushed biscuits and melted butter with a fork. Press into greased and lined 8-inch cake tin.

2. Bake for 7 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius. Set aside to cool completely.

For the cake filling:

500g full-fat cream cheese
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 medium eggs

1. Beat cheese and sugar together till smooth and creamy at low speed.

2. Add eggs one at a time, scraping to incorporate and beat to combine. Mix till smooth, do not overmix.

To assemble the cake:

1. Layer half of the cake filling on top of the crumb base.

2. Add 7 tablespoons of strawberry ‘juice’ in dollops as shown in the picture.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.  (There should be extra strawberry ‘juice’ left, you can make them into a beverage!)

4. Using a chopstick, swirl to mix the cake filling and strawberry ‘juice’.

5. Place cake tin in a deep tray, fill with water to 2/3 way up the cake tin, bake for 40 min or until golden brown and center remains slightly wobbly. Do not overbake. Cool slightly at room temperature and cover to chill in fridge before serving.

Enjoy!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my Photograzing profile to see my other featured posts!

Lime & Coconut Macarons


Lime & Coconut Macarons

I was travelling too much and eating too much good food, naturally, I spent too much time blogging on everything but. This is seriously backdated, I made these lime & coconut macarons in June, and the recipe have been stashed in my growing recipe book since.

As I blazed through my food trails in Singapore on the blog, the dust settled, quite literally too, on my measuring cups, whisk and  everything I made in the last couple of months (with the exception of mooncakes, only because the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is tomorrow). I missed proper baking very much during the break in Singapore, but now that I’m back in London, the kitchen’s all mine (sometimes shared with my husband, but he cooks and I bake, so that’s okay), and I’m sure writing this, will excite me into aging some egg whites again!

Lime & Coconut Macarons

Macarons, oh macarons, they frustrate me and they tease me. I don’t know why I like to dive back into making them so much, even though they are arguably one of the trickiest treats to make in my dictionary. The shell can’t be too chewy, or too crisp, the filling can’t be too sweet (for me, at least). Too much macaronage yields a paste that runs everywhere, too little gives shells that look offensively like boobies. Yet, I love making them. Talk about being sadistic.

Anyways, why lime & coconut macarons? I was really into the whole summer vibe going on in London during the month of June, and I went through a ‘tropical’ phase. Everything I ate or made had to have some element of the tropics. I went a little overboard and decided to make lime & coconut macarons. As the meerkat says, simples.

I was working with the shell recipe from Cannelle et Vanille to make some vanilla bean macarons with salted butter caramel buttercream, and it didn’t quite work out for me on my first attempt with it (possibly because I was rather green at making macarons then). The shells had feet but they weren’t very smooth. So I thought I would try out the shell recipe from heavenwildfleur, an incredibly talented pastry enthusiast that I’ve met in blogosphere.

I wanted a slightly sweeter and sturdier shell to go with the tart lime & coconut cream cheese filling I planned to make, so I tweaked the recipe a little. It worked very well in giving me very smooth and shiny shells with nicely risen feet, but I probably went a little too far with the macaronage, the paste was a tad runny to work with so I couldn’t get perfectly round shells. The macarons nailed my craving for all things tropical; slightly sweet shells with a hint of flaked coconut, giving way to the tartness of lime, mmmm lovely! Here are the recipes.

For the macaron shells:

120 egg whites, aged for 3 days
3g egg white powder
90g caster sugar
140g almond flour (finely ground!)
160g icing sugar
A handful of flaked coconut
Green food colouring

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius

2. Sift almond flour and icing sugar together in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and egg white powder till soft peaks are formed. Whisk in caster sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. To the egg white mixture, fold in dry ingredients from Step 2 in 1/3 portions to combine. Add in the food colouring (the amount depends on intensity desired), and fold in the mixture more vigorously. Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a generous dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far.

5. Pipe out the shells onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle a little flaked coconut on the shells and leave them to rest for 30 minutes before baking.

6. When a crust is formed, turn temperature on oven down to 140 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking.

7. Cool parchment of baked shells on cooling rack. Unmould when the shells are completely cool.

For the lime & coconut cream cheese filling:

75g unsalted butter, room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold
75g icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon flaked coconut

1. Beat butter and cream cheese together till combined, then beat in icing sugar.

2. Mix in lime juice and flaked coconut until well-combined.

3. Pipe filling onto cooled shells and sandwich them for the final product.

As the cream cheese filling is a little runny, the macarons are best eaten a day after making them. The filling would have hardened slightly by then, and the shells are still perfect. I kept these at room temperature and they were fine for a few days (this might depend on the humidity at your location).

Enjoy and let me know how this works out!

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my Photograzing profile to see my other featured posts!


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Read about my food-gasmic adventures in San Sebastian here! Also please come by and check out the prettiest cake I've made over here!
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