masterchef desserts

Getting quite tired with the bingewatching. Last night the last episode didn’t finish till 2.30am and since it was a Heston episode we stayed up to watch it. Then today sitting in front of the tv from 11am. The grand final was 10pm-midnight, so an ‘early’ night. All finished now. Very pleased we managed to catch it, it was a fantastic season.

mystique pear

The memorable dishes were the ones at the pressure (elimination) test. They get a famous chef to bring one of their fancy creations, or get a Nobu to make them make a plate of sushi. The standouts were Christy Tania’s Mystique and the pear, walnut crumb, nest dessert by Dave Verheul which the contestants had to decipher from just a critic’s review.

choctop

The deceptively simple looking ice cream cone from gelato messina caught our eye. Not because of how complex it was to construct, but because it’s now on our list of places to try in Sydney. Good thing they have several branches around the CBD. I also learned that what we call choc ice they call choc top. Anyway, they have a lot of choices, may be we’ll need to go twice. And again in Melbourne.

waffles for tea

Ran some errands with Mum. Around teatime we were tired and wanted to sit down somewhere. Headed to the small market where there are a few small cafés that opened recently. Fruit teas and waffles seem to be a trend.

waffleredbeanmatcha

We each had a tea set with waffles. I had red bean and matcha ice cream and Mum had mixed fruit and vanilla ice cream. Came with an iced fruit tea. The waffle was a bit dense and tasted like it was prepared earlier. Definitely not as good as Belgian waffles or the ones at the green waffle place we went to for Mum’s birthday.

japanese water cake shingen mochi

Met my uncle and aunt for lunch. Took them to our favourite AYCE Japanese place, and they were impressed at the variety. I was in charge of selecting from the order sheets and we stuck mostly to sashimi, salad and grilled food. No tempura cos everyone didn’t like fried food.

raindropdessert

Ice cream mochi for dessert and today they even have something that is like shingen mochi, a clear blob of watery jelly that looks like it’s held together by specific gravity. Bland tasting, to be honest. There was a pretty edible flower embedded inside that gave some floral notes. Mostly, it’s something that looks extremely pretty without much taste. Definitely a novelty food item.

giant cheesecake for tea

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This was a few days ago when we met up with Sis for tea. This was an Italian restaurant at at nearby shopping centre. We ordered a cheesecake and a bread pudding. When the cheesecake arrived we were astonished at its size–it’s been a while since we went to this restaurant and we’d forgotten they serve family sizes. I quickly cancelled the bread pudding.

The cheesecake was a huge square slab, there was enough for 4 small slices. Small was good, it was very rich. Tasted good too.

happy pancake day

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It’s Shrove Tuesday, so I made pancakes for tea. Easy to remember ingredients:

100g flour + pinch of salt
300ml milk
2 eggs
1tsp vegetable oil

The recipe says to rest the batter for 30mins. I usually don’t, but this time I did. A little googling reveals that it’s to do with letting the starch absorb the liquid, the gluten to relax and the air bubbles to disperse evenly. The end result is supposed to be a thick, uniform batter and more delicate cooked product.

They do seem easier to cook, although we scoffed them down too quickly to really appreciate the texture or delicate taste. The first one never works properly–that’s an accepted fact. Cook’s perk.

Parents had them with maple syrup or peanut butter. I had mine with lemon and sugar. Simple is best.

burns night dessert: cranachan

25-Jan is Burns Night, celebrating Robert Burns’ birthday. Traditionally Burns Night supper has a particular order. The guests are piped in, the Selkirk Grace is said:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

Then the star of the meal, haggis, is piped in, welcomed by reciting the poem To A Haggis. The haggis is served with neeps & tatties, and the meal finishes with cranachan and a toast with whisky.

I like haggis, but we don’t have it readily available so it’s just normal meals today. But I did make cranachan for dessert. It’s the Scottish version of Eton Mess, really. The traditional recipe uses double cream, toasted oats, raspberries and whisky. Some chefs add their personal touches, folding a raspberry purée through the cream, macerating the fruit, substituting mascarpone, making fancy granola.

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I didn’t want to use double cream. The smallest container I can buy is a 250ml carton, plus I don’t like plain cream. I substituted with vanilla ice cream instead.

The oats were, I’m ashamed to say, instant from a packet. This was flavoured with apple and cinnamon; the dried apple and cinnamon sugar gave a caramel-y fruity flavour when melted and mixed with the toasted oats. Quite nice.

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It’s an assembly dessert. I put a few raspberries at the bottom of the glass, added ice cream, more raspberries then the oats. Poured over about 1tbsp whisky straight from my hip flask. Ate it with whisky. Washed down with whisky. More whisky afterwards, of course.

Happy Burns Night!

#58 new recipe: double chocolate tart

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Tasks #49-58 of 101.1001 are to try 10 new recipes. It’s great that the 10th one turned out so nice.

I’ve mentioned before that even though I’ve been baking for a long time, it’s usually cakes and biscuits. I only tried bread a few months ago and choux is the only pastry I’m comfortable with. I rarely work with the most basic pastry of them all: shortcrust.

So we were watching MKR4 repeat and I decided to try the double chocolate tart one team made, because it looked so indulgent.

for the pastry:
150g cold butter
185g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk

for the filling:
350g chocolate
80ml cream
50g brown sugar
2 eggs + 4 egg yolks

Sift the flour, cocoa and icing sugar into a large bowl, mix butter until resembling breadcrumbs. In the recipe they use a food processor but I couldn’t find mine, and besides I’m not sure it works anymore. Takes longer using hands but it’s not too bad. Put the mixture back in the fridge for 5mins to cool, then add the egg yolk. Combine into a dough. Initially I thought one egg yolk surely wasn’t enough to bind so much dry ingredients, but it worked after a bit of elbow grease. Knead on a flat surface briefly. Chill dough in fridge for 30mins.

Roll out dough to a tart tin. Well, I don’t have a tart tin, so I used half the dough and rolled out into a regular small cake tin, mending gaps where necessary. I tried to trim the side so it was flat. Cool the pastry in the fridge for 5mins, then blind bake at 180°C for 15mins with baking beans, followed by 10mins without. Didn’t have baking beans at parents’ place, so substituted with rice.

While the baked pastry case cools, make the filling. Melt chocolate and cream in a bain marie. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk and sugar until frothy. Combine with melted chocolate carefully then pour into pastry case. Bake at 160°C for 30mins. Cool at room temperature, then in fridge until set.

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The pastry was quite short, may be a tad too short, but I like it. The filling was rich and, yes, indulgent. Should have served it with strawberries or raspberries but didn’t have it. Added to the richness by pouring a little cream over. I’ll have to buy a proper tart tin, it’s one of those desserts I’m going to add to my repertoire.
 

vanilla pannacotta

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I had some cream in the fridge I needed to use up, so I made pannacotta. Four ingredients: 500ml double cream, heated with 50g sugar and the seeds from one vanilla pod. When almost boiling, remove from heat and add to 2tsp gelatin powder already soaking in 3tbsp water.

A little too set, due to unfamiliar gelatin. But so rich, and so vanilla-y, can see all the seeds in the dessert. There was some discussion on a Paul Hollywood Pies & Puds program about the colour of pannacotta, whether it should be white or yellow. The chefs say white, but he had guest dairy farmers who brought in the richest, creamiest clotted cream from Devon and the pannacotta he made was yellow. It depends on the cream. The cream I used was good double cream, and the result was defiantly creamy yellow.

Ideally I would have liked to serve it with mixed berries or at the very least strawberries. Alas, the strawberries at the market were expensive and looked terrible. So mum opened a can of peaches. Heh, we’re not running a michelin star establishment here. 

salted caramel truffle

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Mum asked my niece what she wanted for her birthday and the reply was chocolate. Mum normally gives her nice chocoalte like godiva or equivalent. This year, I offered to make truffles. I made two types: mint choc and salted caramel.

The mint choc used 70% mint chocolate as base, and the usual add cream and butter method. The end result was a very subtle, almost non-existent mint flavour. If I had more time I’d infuse mint leaves in sugar syrup or find mint flavouring.

The salted caramel truffle came from an Edd Kimber recipe. In case people are not aware who is Edd Kimber, he was the winner of the first Great British Bake-off. I used 1/3rd of his recipe, to get about 20 truffles.

100g 70% chocolate
100g caster sugar
7g light brown sugar — probably not needed
100ml double or whipping cream
7g butter
1/2tsp salt

  1. break the chocolate into a large bowl, set aside
  2. in a heavy saucepan, slowly melt the white sugar, gently moving the pan until all the sugar has melted
  3. add half the cream and the recipe says brown sugar but I don’t think it’s needed
  4. the mixture will bubble madly, remove from heat if it gets too violent
  5. when the bubbling has subsided, add the rest of the cream, butter and salt
  6. pour over chocolate and stir until all chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy
  7. cover and set overnight. Roll into balls with hands, coat with cocoa powder (or icing sugar or chocolate shell), decorate with a crystal of rock salt

Very nice. I added more salt, it contrasted well with the sweetness of the caramel. 

ice cream with chocolate soil

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The whole family went for curry buffet at the yacht club. It’s very hard to take a picture of curry, and of buffet dishes so I won’t even try. My niece didn’t have the curry, instead she ordered spag bol and ice cream. The ice cream was mint choc and topped with chocolate soil, served in a flower pot. Looks great! The soil was broken up oreos. How a little creativity and artistic presentation gave additional wow factor to a good dessert. 

#homemade chocolate truffles

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250g dark chocolate
250ml double cream
knob of butter

Break chocolate into small pieces in a bowl. Heat cream and butter until almost boiling, then pour onto the chocolate pieces. Stir until chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Leave in fridge overnight to set.

Use a small spoon and hands to shape gently then roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts. I also made a small batch that had a splash of highland park added. It was quite strong. Made around 30 truffles in total. 

30in30 #22 bizarre holiday: chocolate milkshake day

Task #22 of 30in30 is to celebrate a bizarre holiday. Since I have homemade vanilla ice cream, it’s perfect to celebrate chocolate milkshake day.
All I did was blitz together 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream with chocolate milk. It seemed the easiest, without having to buy chocolate syrup or cocoa powder, which are the usual ingredients used. It wasn’t chocolate-y enough so I melted some 70% chocolate into the mixture. Why 70% chocolate? I only have baking chocolate in my fridge.

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Very rich, a little to sweet for my taste, which I know because the ice cream was too sweet. Chocolate isn’t my first choice for ice cream or milkshake, so if it weren’t for the national chocolate milkshake day, I would probably just had the vanilla ice cream on its own or with some fruit. I can’t imagine how many calories, I made myself go running for 5 miles in torrential rain for this.

handmade vanilla ice cream

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When I was in Chicago during the summer, I walked past a Williams-Sonoma, couldn’t help but go inside and ended up buying a couple of zoku ice cream makers. I don’t have space for an ice cream maker, so this small bowl seemed to be a great idea — no churning, and it claims to make ice cream in 10mins.

I’ve watched enough cookery competition programs to know that the best ice cream is made from a custard base. The recipe I used is from david liebovitz, one of the few american cookery writers who give metric measurements. I used half his recipe.

125ml milk — I used hi-calcium 2% milk, because that’s what I have in my fridge
75g sugar — I think this is too much, next time I’ll start with 50g
3 egg yolks — I splurged and bought best quality organic “intense flavour” eggs from japan
250ml whipping cream
1 vanilla pod — if I halved the recipe I should have used half a pod, but I used a whole one anyway, I scraped the seeds out and the pod is now soaking in bourbon to make vanilla extract

Gently heat milk, sugar and vanilla seeds until sugar has melted. Slowly add to egg yolks, whisk and return to pan. Heat very slowly, stirring constantly to make the custard, it will be ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Cool.

In a separate bowl, cool the cream in an ice bath. Add the custard, stir and whisk until thickened and cold. The mixture can be kept in the fridge until ready to make the ice cream.

The instructions for the zoku is to chill the inner bowl in the freezer for 12hrs. The bowl is made of an inner metallic bowl and an outer ceramic bowl with coolant inside. At room temperature I can shake the bowl and feel the fluid sloshing inside. When frozen the coolant feels solid.

To make the ice cream, add a portion of the custard mixture to the frozen bowl, no more than half full. Then stir, fold and scrape for about 10mins until the mixture turns from a thick liquid to frozen ice cream. It really works!

Because all the ingredients are fresh and of good quality, and because I used real cream and a whole vanilla pod, the ice cream tasted unbelievable. Smooth and rich and creamy and simply irrestible.

burger and cake

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Met with mm for late lunch/tea at a café near me. We shared a burger, cooked medium and served on focaccia. They didn’t have mayo for the fries though — the 1st waitress looked at us blankly, the 2nd waiter disappeared and the 3rd explained that they didn’t have mayo on its own, it’s already mixed in the salad. Huh. Stupid, but the burger was decent.

Shared small cakes for dessert, a chocolate layered caked made apparently from 65% chocolate and a lemon meringue tart. We started talking about having our own café again. A small place only open a day or two a week. Small selection of coffee, tea and cakes.

#55 new recipe: key lime pie

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Tasks #49-58 of 101 in 1001 are to try 10 new recipes. This is #7 and the 5th baking recipe so far.

Mum went to lunch at the restaurant of a training hotel the other day. She had chocolate mousse (“like really bad ice cream”) and tried her friend’s key lime pie (“it was good”). Sis and gis had key lime pie recently and liked it. It’s my dad’s birthday. So all these events combined mean I should make key lime pie.

Yes, it’s quintessentially American, but the recipe I trusted was from bbc good food because: a) hob nobs!! and b) grams not cups.

300g hob nobs
150g butter
3 egg yolks (I used 4 because the eggs were small)
1 can (397g) condensed milk
zest and juice from 4 limes (these were tiny limes so I used 5)

Make the base from crushed hob nobs and melted butter. Allow to cool. Whisk egg yolks for about 1min, add the condensed milk and whisk for 3mins. Add lime zest and juice, whisk for another 3mins. Pour over base, bake at 160°C for 15-20mins. Leave in tin to cool overnight in fridge.

keylimepie03

I tried to make candied lime peel. Blanched lime slices in hot water then simmered in a simple syrup made from equal quantities of sugar and water for 15mins. Was still quite bitter (from peel, not pith) so I didn’t use it to decorate. Instead I whipped up some cream and used strawberries. Couldn’t be bothered to break out the piping bag so I just quenelled the cream.

Everyone seemed to like it and no complaints. I thought it was an extremely simple recipe, I liked that it was loaded with lime flavour and wasn’t too sweet. Next time I’ll make mixed citrus peel, may be that’ll work. Or just grate lime zest over a heap of cream.

101.1001 #54.6 | 30in30 #17 new sweet recipe

choctart201401

This is a combination of task #54.6 of 101 in 1001 and task #17 in 30 in 30 is to try a new sweet recipe.

This is a recipe for no-bake blueberry truffle tart that has been bookmarked for a while. I made some adjustments, mainly in the ingredients and making of the base. The idea remains the same, make a biscuit base, make a ganache, top with blueberries.

225g crushed biscuits — I used half oreos and half hob-nobs, the recipe used just oreos
75g butter
225g dark chocolate
250ml cream — should be 300ml but the carton was 250ml
1 punnet blueberries

Crush the biscuits, I put them in a ziploc bag and whacked them with a pestle but a rolling pin or food processor will work. Melt butter in pan, add biscuit crumbs and transfer to lined tin. The recipe used individual fairy cake tins but mum didn’t have that tin so I improvised and used a square tin. Allow to set in fridge (around 20-30mins).

Melt the chocolate on a bain marie and stir in the cream. Can do it the other way round, heat cream and pour over chocolate. Either way, stir until chocolate has melted and the mixture glossy and smooth.

I sprinkled half the punnet of blueberries on the biscuit base and added the ganache. Set in fridge for about 10mins, then sprinkle the rest on top. Return to fridge so the ganache sets. I left mine overnight.

Usually we combine chocolate with raspberries or strawberries but blueberries work very well too. The ganache was extremely rich, and the fruitiness of the blueberries in every bite was a good contrast. A small slice is more than enough.

pandan cake

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Very common in Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of SE Asia is food flavoured with pandan leaves. It imparts a bright green colour and a gentle coconuty fragrant. They use it mainly with desserts and curries.

You can get pandan cake even at Singapore airport. The shop is right next to the departure gate so you check your luggage, go get your cake and then go through immigration. Easy peasy.

Pandan cake is basically a chiffon cake flavoured with pandan. I spotted a packet of pandan sugar at an indonesian store the other day and thought i should give it a try. They have a recipe at the back, although not completely clear (they don’t tell people to whisk the egg white and no oven time or temperature specified).

5 eggs, separated
2 tbsp cooking oil — i used grapeseed
4 tbsp coconut milk
150g SR flour
120g pandan sugar

Mix egg yolks with half the sugar until thick. Normally the mixture turns pale but with the green sugar I had to use texture and experience—took about 10mins vigorous hand beating. Add ccoking oil, coconut milk and fold in flour.

Beat egg whites until soft peak stage, add rest of sugar and beat until stiff. Fold into egg yolk mixture.

Bake at 180°C for about 1hr until a skewer comes out clean.

Very light, fluffy and the pandan flavour was subtle. Some people may be put off by the strange green colour but it really was very good.

#51: new recipe — cheesecake

 

I usually make chilled cheesecake rather than baked, but after this one I think I’ll switch to baked. Recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course. I used blueberries instead of his raspberries.

500g cream cheese
150g sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp flour
zest of 1 lemon
200g blueberries

Mix cream cheese and sugar, add eggs a little at at time, then flour and the lemon zest. The mixture looked a bit thick at that point so I added the juice of 1/2 lemon. Stir in the blueberries and transfer to baking tin. Tap firmly to get rid of air bubbles and distribute blueberries. Bake at 180°C for about 45mins-1hr.

Like I said, I don’t usually make baked cheesecake. I forgot that you’re supposed to let it cool completely in the tin before removing, so when I took the outer ring off like I would do with cake, I ended up with Michelin man cheesecake that had bulged in the middle like belly fat. Argh. Put the ring back on immediately and let it cool overnight in the fridge.

That said, it was delicious. Rich, good taste and texture. The recipe doesn’t have a biscuit base, and I don’t think it needs it.

#50 new recipe — christmas chocolate log

Task #50 in 101 in 1001 challenge: 2 of 10 new recipes.

I’ve made yule log before, and it is a sort of family tradition. I wanted to find a recipe that was less sweet, and was pleased that bbc goodfood came through again. I made some adjustments to the recipe, taking out some more sugar, substituting honey for golden syrup and using the chocolate cream for both filling and icing.

for the sponge:
3 eggs
85g sugar
85g plain flour
1/2 tsp bp
2 tbsp cocoa powder

for the filling:
50g butter
150g dark toblerone
250ml carton + 5tbsp whipping cream
1 tbsp honey

Whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift flour, bp, cocoa and fold into egg mixture. Bake in a swiss roll tray for 10-12mins at 200°C. Remove from oven, roll in the greaseproof paper and leave to cool.

Melt the butter and chocolate on a bain marie, cool. Add honey and 5tbsp cream. Whip the carton of cream until soft peaks then fold in the chocolate mixture.

Unroll sponge and spread filling generously. Roll carefully into log shape. Cut off one end as the branch. Ice with rest of chocolate cream.

We didn’t have icing sugar so I sieved some caster sugar over as the snow. I like this chocolate cream filling much better than using butter icing. It was very rich, I cut a thickish slice and divided it into three for me and parents, it was enough.

brownies

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Based on Nigella’s recipe for snow-flecked brownies. Half the recipe quantity was perfect for the square tin.

melt 190g chocolate + 190g butter over bain marie, cool
whisk 160g sugar and 2 large eggs until pale and thick
combine chocolate and egg mixtures
add 50g mixed nuts
fold in 115g plain flour
bake at 180°C for 30mins until top is dry

The recipe uses 100g white chocolate buttons, when I first made it I used dark chocolate but this time I just used nuts, and a smaller quantity because I didn’t want the brownie to be overwhelmed by nuts. We had peanuts, almonds, pistachios and cashews in a snack jar so that was what I used. Although I cut it into 3×3 squares for presentation, 4×4 squares is probably a more reasonable serving size.

There is a debate about whether brownies should be cakey, gooey or fudgy. These were somewhere in between gooey and fudgy. The tops were crispy and the inside quite dense without being too sticky. The rich chocolate taste came through, which is always important.

yogurt panna cotta

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The kitchn described panna cotta as the perfect dessert because it’s easy to make, using standard ingredients. It is also incredibly versatile: substituting ingredients or reducing the sugar level doesn’t seem to bother the recipe at all. Last time I made it, it was a little too firm. Tasted good, but it was like cream flavoured jelly.

This is a slightly healthier version of the traditional panna cotta, with less sugar and uses yogurt instead of a lot of the cream. Recipe from smitten kitchen and all credit goes to Deb Perelman for converting her American measurements to metric.

  • 475ml mixture of milk and cream — use as much or as little of each, even 100% milk or 100% cream, using just a little cream will make it so much richer; I used 200ml whipping cream and the rest was reduced fat milk
  • 450g yogurt — most recipes use greek yogurt, it just happened that mum made natural yogurt which worked equally well
  • 75g sugar — recipe says between 50-100g
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2.5 tsp gelatin powder
  • 2 tbsp lime juice — recipe says lemon juice but we ran out of lemons so I substituted lime

Dissolve the gelatin in water, set aside
Combine the yogurt with half the milk+cream
Slowly heat sugar and the remaining milk+cream to a gentle simmer, then pour onto the dissolved gelatin
Add the milk+cream mixture to the yogurt mixture, whisk until smooth
Add lime juice
Pour into oiled containers and set in fridge

There was richness from the cream, tartness from the yogurt and the texture was suitably wobbly and creamy. Strawberries and other berries are expensive recently so mum suggesting using nutella. I tried to do a little fancy decoration with the thick spread and some museli crumbs. The chocolate and crumbs actually went well with the panna cotta.

american blueberry pancakes

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Another request from mum. Recipe from bbc goodfood.

200g SR flour
1tsp bp
1 egg
300ml milk
125g blueberries
pinch of salt
knob of butter, melted

Sift flour, bp and salt into a large bowl. Lightly whisk egg and add to milk. Create a hole in the dry ingredients and slowly add the wet ingredients, mixing to get a thick smooth batter. Add melted butter and 100g blueberries.

Drop a large tablespoonful of the batter into a hot pan and cook until bubbles form on top, then flip and continue cooking till browned. Serve with remaining blueberries and maple syrup.

We didn’t have syrup (golden or maple) so we substituted honey and the lemon curd I made earlier. Recipe says it makes 10, I got 12 out of it.

chocolate yogurt mousse

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The recipe for regular chocolate mousse is very rich, almost 500ml of cream total. So we wanted to find a less fattening alternative, and Mum found a chocolate yogurt mousse recipe that uses greek yogurt. I bought her a yogurt maker a long long time ago, and she’s been making her own yogurt occasionally.

We didn’t exactly follow the recipe, skipped the coffee and there was a step with boiling water that didn’t work. Skipped the sugar too.

85g chocolate — we used 100g, a whole dark toblerone
1tbsp cocoa — not even sure it’s necessary, will skip next time
2 egg whites, whisked to soft peaks stage
50g greek yogurt — that’s not a lot, we added an extra tablespoon

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie, add cocoa powder. At this point the recipe said add a couple of tablespoons of boiling water to soften the chocolate. Argh! Adding water to melted chocolate makes it lumpy and solid. I had to rescue it using vegetable oil and a bit of egg yolk.

Add yogurt to chocolate mixture. Fold in egg whites. We tasted at this point and decided no sugar was needed. Leave in fridge to set.

The end result is definitely light, although still very chocolate-y. Can taste the slight sourness of the yogurt, in a pleasant but not overpowering way. Quite soft and doesn’t hold its shape that well — it’s fine in a glass but spooning it out on a plate for presentation will end up being chocolate milkshake. To make it more solid, may be add the egg yolks or whisk the egg whites to stiffer peaks? I want to add more yogurt but it’ll make it too sour. Hmm, more research needed.

chocolate semifreddo

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In an early Naked Chef program, Jamie Oliver made semifreddo with maltesers, berries and some other stuff that he just threw into the mixture. That was the first time I came across semifreddo, which is Italian for “half cold.” Somewhere in between a frozen mousse and an ice cream is the best description.

This chocolate semifreddo recipe is itself adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe. I didn’t want to make a big batch, so this is half the recipe.

125g dark chocolate (I used toblerone)
2 medium eggs + 1 egg yolk
75g sugar — this was too much, next time I’ll use 50g or less
225ml whipping cream
1tbsp good quality cocoa

Melt chocolate over a bain marie and set aside to cool. Once melted it won’t set again. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk and sugar over a very slow bain marie until pale and thick — by hand it took 10mins and the mixture had more than doubled its volume. I periodically took the bowl off the heat so the eggs don’t cook. Take the bowl off the heat completely and continue whisking as it cools, another 5-10mins. The mixture by now was glossy and had the consistency of soft meringue. Fold in the melted chocolate.

In another bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks stage and add the cocoa. Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture.

Line a rectangular tin with clingfilm. I actually used one of those takeaway plastic boxes, it was the right size and had a lid. Pour the mixture into the tin/box and leave to freeze overnight.

It was absolutely like mousse and ice cream. Very rich, smooth and chocolate-y. Quite dense, a small slice was enough. Because it was made from eggs and cream it had very little water content so didn’t need to be constantly stirred like ice cream. Could have actually scooped it out like ice cream too. Next time I won’t waste the remaining egg white, I’ll whisk it up and add it with the cream. May be serve it with strawberries and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

chocolate mousse for mum

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It’s probably only a slight exaggeration to say that I can make this chocolate mousse in my sleep. I’ve done it so many times, and served it to so many people, it’s sort of a signature dish of mine. Mum felt like it, so I made it and tried to teach her. Usually I make it from dark toblerone, but we couldn’t find it so I used a good quality Belgian 70% dark chocolate.

Four ingredients only, and 4 steps:

  1. melt 300g chocolate and a knob of butter over a bain marie
  2. separate 3 eggs; add chocolate mixture to egg yolks when melted and cooled — slowly, otherwise there’d be scrambled eggs
  3. whisk egg whites, fold into chocolate mixture
  4. whisk 500ml whipping cream, add to chocolate mixture, leave in fridge to set for at least 1 hour

The end result was smooth and very rich, the chocolate was good. Sprinkled a little grated chocolate on top for decoration. We liked it.

mango yogurt tofu

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At parents’ and trying a new recipe for fake cheesecake made from yogurt and tofu. Supposed to be a quick recipe. The problem is, mum doesn’t have a cake tin. So I made the digestive crumb in dessert glasses. Combined 250g firm packaged tofu with 300g mango yogurt. The mixture was pretty lumpy, the recipe said to mix in a food processer which obviously we don’t have, so I sieved it. Added some diced mango and a little gelatin to set.

The mixture was still pretty lumpy, and there was probably too many mango pieces. When set, it looked like rather unsuccessful rice pudding. Tasted nice though, especially topped with even more delicious fresh mango pieces and a small drizzle of honey. It’s like sweet tofu, but with a little creaminess from the yogurt. I can see how the fake cheesecake version may be good. Only for people who like tofu though, and the idea of sweet tofu isn’t to everybody’s taste. Nice low calorie dessert. Will try with mixed berries yogurt and strawberry topping next time.

I really have to work on following recipe portions and presentation.

not quite a pastry chef

tartpommes001

Had a gathering with mm and her mum at her place. Cheese and dried sausages with a nice gewurztraminer. I made warm grilled vegetable salad (peppers, courgettes, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, rocket). Also tried making a french apple tart, and mm requested apple crumble.

The apple tart recipe is from Michel Roux Jr, I saw him make it on Food & Drink and it looked straightforward.

Roll out 180g puff pastry into a 25cm round, chill in fridge. Spread over apple compote (an apple stewed with a bit of water and sugar) and lay over sliced apples. Eggwash the pastry edges, sprinkle 2tbsp sugar and dots of butter, glaze. Bake at 200°C for 30mins until golden brown.

Except it wasn’t straightforward. The pastry didn’t rise properly and the tart ended up with what Paul Hollywood would call soggy bottom. I have no idea why. May be the pastry wasn’t cold enough, may be the compote and apple slices weren’t cold enough, may be the compote was too wet, may be the oven wasn’t hot enough. I can bake fairly competently and have no problems with crumbles and choux pastry. I’m just not very good at regular pastry.

I pan-fried a slice in a regular frying pan and the bottom was crispy. Overall, the flavours were fine so it’s a matter of mastering the puff pastry.

two desserts

fauchonicecheesecake01 bluevanilla

An all around eating out day. Lunch with mm at Bistrot Le Fauchon, 2 courses with tea/coffee for just over US$10. Salad for starter, I had duck breast and she had a lamb shank. We shared a carafe of wine and a dessert off the à la carte menu. Haven’t tried iced cheesecake before, it was beautifully presented in a cone made from dark and white chocolate. Very nice, creamy and not too sweet, just a hint of cheese. Found a recipe worth trying — seems to be normal chilled cheesecake but frozen instead.

Met with sis and gis for early dinner before taking gis to the Dr Bunhead show. Gis had goats cheese tart and I had a scotch egg—still full from lunch. Afterwards we headed over to Holly Brown for ice cream. Another first for me—blue vanilla ice cream, which I had coldstoned with blueberries. My tongue was blue! Taste was creamy, fruity and I enjoyed it.

orange rice cake recipe

orangericecake008mini

1.7l (3pt) milk
1 vanilla pod
300g arborio rice
200g sugar
5 large eggs
50ml cointreau
40g raisins
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange

I saw this recipe for orange rice cake on Two Greedy Italians and it looked so fabulous that I couldn’t wait to try it. So I made it for my parents.

Bring the milk to a boil together with the sugar, vanilla pod and large pieces of lemon zest. Add the rice all at once, stir at low to medium heat until the rice has absorbed the mlik, around 25-30mins. The mixture should be creamy and slightly thick. Remove from heat and cool, discarding the vanilla and lemon zest.

Separate the eggs. Mix the yolks with cointreau. Whisk the whites until firm. Once the rice mixture has cooled, add the egg yolks, raisin, orange zest then fold in the egg whites. Bake at 180°C for about 1 hr. Can be served hot or cold.

A long time ago, I had a moist, custardy, slightly heavy cake from France. It’s a bit like canalé but with dried fruit. This tasted a bit like that. There’s a lot of custard flavour, the rice gives a different texture and the citrus is a good contrast. Flourless, butterless but still very rich and yummy.

baked alaska

hknamahbakedalaska

There is a type of steak diner here that serves acceptable steaks as well as SE Asian food like curries, satay, sambal and the like. It also has standards like pasta, noodles and sandwiches. Went there after the concert on Friday. I had the rib-eye dinner (soup, steak, coffee or tea), sis had baked garoupa and rice, little one had spag bol.

Sis spotted that they had baked alaska on the menu so we ordered it, none of us ever tried it before. 20 min wait, then the waiter brought over this white bombe, poured alcohol over it and lit it. Nice!

The inside wasn’t quite what I expected. There were a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, some sponge and a sprinkling of canned fruit cocktail. The outside meringue was very foamy, Sis said it was like edible bubble bath. Would have preferred it to be more browned and crunchy. Overall, I quite enjoyed it. Too big for the three of us, there was enough for 6 or even 8.

eton mess

etonmess01 etonmess02

Over at the kitchn they were asking for ideas for a british foods for an olympics dinner party. Surprisingly, there were some authentic and good ideas. One of the better ones is for Eton Mess.

There’s been a resurgence and attention for this very English dessert. Takes no time to make too. I used mascarpone (broken up with a little milk and sweetened with a tbsp of sugar) instead of cream. Spoon over meringue nests, add some strawberries and blackberries. I did one pretty-ish presentation, but as befits the name, it needs to be messy.

valentine fruit tart

fruit tart

My valentine lives 8 timezones away, so I don’t participate in today’s romantic festivities. I did make good use of the special effects on picnik to make a pic of me and mm framed with hearts and flowers and musical notes. Whatsapped it to her before bed last night. She sent back a romantic, beautiful video, kiss the rain by Korean pianist Yiruma.

I left work with my friend SM. He was going home to cook dinner for his wife and stopped at Patisserie Valerie to get dessert. He kindly bought me this fruit tart. Such a sweet gesture.

sparkling cranberries

sparkcranberry02

Some recipes, you see it for the first time and you know you have to try it out. This was the case with this 101 cookbooks recipe for sparkling cranberries.

Time consuming, but extremely simple. Macerate fresh cranberries in simple syrup (same volume sugar and water as the cranberries) overnight, which for me turned into a few days in the fridge cos I didn’t have time. Drain the cranberries and toss in caster sugar, let dry on a baking sheet overnight, toss again in granulated sugar. Mine didn’t turn out as picture perfect as Heidi’s, but I’m happy. They are delicious, with the sharpness of the berries contrasting with the sweetness of the sugar. And very, very Christmasy.

#63 panna cotta with strawberry coulis

pannacottastraw

For some reason I was under the impression that panna cotta is difficult to make. Perhaps it’s because it tastes so decadent and creamy that it must be hard to make, right?

Oh my, how WRONG.

This recipe is from Chocolate & Zucchini, and even Ms Dusoulier acknowledged how easy it was.

  • bring to a simmer 250ml whipping cream, 250ml whole milk and 50g sugar, stirring occasionally to ensure the mixture doesn’t boil
  • soak a packet of gelatin in a little water to soften, add to hot cream mixture to dissolve
  • cool, then transfer to bowls quickly rinsed with cold water (for easy removal)
  • refridgerate for 3 hours or overnight until set
  • to make the coulis, chop 250g strawberries and heat with a simple syrup of 50g sugar and 2tbsp water, then blitz till smooth
  • decorate with strawberries

It was so good, I had to exert a great deal of self-control not to have a second helping.

#66(5) new dessert: chocolate soufflé

chocsouffle003

I’ve always found soufflé intimidating. I suppose I shouldn’t, cos I’m not a bad pastry chef. A few weeks ago my friend Car remarked nonchalantly about something or other that I should make chocolate soufflé for her family. It was meant to be a tease, or challenge, or punishment, i can’t remember. I didn’t put up any argument, just said, “okay.”

Not surprisingly there are a lot of recipes. Because I don’t have my cookbooks I focused purely on the ones available online. After a little research I decided on the one at cooking for engineers. It seemed straightforward and I appreciated the step-by-step pictures.

The first challenge was that I didn’t have time to go shopping during the week for the chocolate I wanted to use. At the end I got 2 packs of baking chocolate and mixed the 100% and 54% together.

In a bain marie, melt 8oz chocolate, 1tbsp butter and 60ml double cream. Meanwhile, whisk 5 egg whites with 1/2 tsp cream of tartar till soft peaks, then add 70g sugar and whisk till the stiff peaks stage.

Add 4 egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, then fold in the egg whites. Bake at 190°C for 20mins, serve immediately.

The good news is that it was mostly successful. The soufflés didn’t deflate, and were very rich. The bad news was that the chocolate didn’t work out and it wasn’t sweet enough. It actually wasn’t good enough quality. Next time I’ll use proper high quality chocolate.

at corner: tomato dessert

hea02seafood

Went to this modern Japanese restaurant with SC and AK last night. Skewers and drinks are 50% off on Mondays and Tuesdays. They served the typical luxurious Japanese cuisine — we had a seafood platter, a bunch of skewers and a beef udon.

The highlight was one of the dessert. It’s the one in the background. Tomato with champagne jelly.

hea04dessert

I have a recipe for caramelised tomato but this was different. Seems that the tomato has been poached in sugar water to strip out the vegetable taste. The texture isn’t lost and it was altogether something special.

I tried looking online for a recipe but failed short. There was a thread on ask metafilter that pointed to some interesting tomato dessert but not this one. The closest I could get is a Japanese site that has a recipe for tomato compote as part of a dessert.

In any event I intend to bring mm to this restaurant. I hope I get a second chance to taste this really awesome dessert.

#66(1) new dessert — lemon sponge pudding

lemonsponge

When I think of sponge puddings, it’s usually the upturned pudding basin-shaped cake swimming in custard or golden syrup — oversweet, thick and stodgy. After a couple of bites, it leaves me full and wanting fruit or sorbet. I guess it’s an English prerogative, the heavy sponge pudding that shocks the arteries.

Which was why I was so excited to find this recipe from Nigel Slater’s Appetite. It’s been a good book of cooking tips and recipes for me. His website seems to have disappeared but I found an excerpt at The Guardian that quoted this particular page. The best thing is that it’s delicious and very light. The citrus makes sure that it’s not too sweet and gives it a bright tang. I think I left mine in the oven too long and the sauce dried out a bit, but it’s still very yummy — the top is a light (here’s that word again) crust and the bottom is this exquisite custardy, lemony soft sponge. It has to be tasted to give it full credit.

If I were to plate this properly I’d serve it with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone or a pretty lemon sauce and a raspberry or two. Accompanied by limoncello, of course.

100g butter
175g sugar
1 lemon + 2 oranges or 4 lemons — I used all lemons this time
4 eggs, separated
40g plain flour
400ml milk

cream the butter and sugar
add egg yolks followed by flour and milk alternatively until the mixture resembles a soft cake batter
add zest and juice of fruit
beat egg whites until stiff peaks and fold into mixture
bake in basin over a roasting tin of water at 180°C for about 1 hour

yogurt cheese

yogcheesefruit

The yogurt cheese I made on Christmas Day came out perfect. What is yogurt cheese? It’s yogurt that has its liquid removed so it has the texture of cream cheese, but none of the high fat content. Most recipes make yogurt cheese by straining it in a colander with cheesecloth or, creatively, coffee filter. What I found was a piece of damp kitchen towel worked just as well. I covered the mixture with another kitchen towel and left it alone in the fridge overnight.

yogurtcheese

The end result was really fantastic, so thick that it didn’t fall off the spoon. I used greek styled yogurt this time so it was extra creamy. It’s a great substitute for cream cheese — good for toppings or mixed with herbs and spread on a bagel. I used it as a topping for some strawberries and added a tiny drizzle of honey for final effect.

Next time I’ll make more and then make a cheesecake. I think it’ll be quite special.

“five star menu”

mm came over for lunch today, and I’d planned a full three-course menu cos we hadn’t had home-cooked food for a long time and I really wanted to cook. It’s been a theme lately.

Made the starter yesterday. Roasted carrot & tomato soup. 4 large carrots, 3 tomatoes, 3 cloves garlic, 3 finely chopped shallots, Italian seasoning, a little olive oil all browned in a medium oven for 45 minutes. Then transfer the whole lot into a pan, deglaze the roasting tin with water, add turkey stock from the freezer and simmer for an hour. Left the soup to stand overnight, with me in the bedroom cos I had the aircon on. Then blitz, add milk, season and keep warm. s

For mains I marinaded some lamb chops overnight in olive oil, pepper, mint and Worcestershire sauce. Did not salt until I’d grilled one side and was about to turn it over. Nigel Slater wrote that if you salted a chop before grilling the juices flow out and you end up with a dry chop; salting it after grilling means the salt stays outside the meat and does nothing. And he’s right, not much juice came out even though I rested them for about 5 minutes.

I served the lamb with potato chunks and roasted red peppers. I semi-peeled and diced 2 potatoes, par-boiled then roasted with olive oil. The par-boiling fluffs the pieces so they get really crunchy. The red pepper I sliced into 8 long strips then put them over the gas hob (care: naked flame) skin side down until the skin is blackened. Peeled the charred bits off and they tasted smoked and very fine.

I think mm was impressed with the presentation. And she liked the food too, she called it a five star menu, asked for more soup, but ended up finishing the potatoes.

lambchops

For dessert I tried to make chocolate fondant pudding but I overcooked it, the chocolate inside sank to the bottom and I basically ended up with a nice chocolate sponge pudding instead of anything fancy. Didn’t taste too bad but it wasn’t what I intended. This made 4 puddings — melted 2oz each of butter and chocolate. Beat 2 eggs and 2.5oz sugar until light and tripled in volume. Add the melted chocolate and 1oz flour. Pour into buttered moulds and bake ad 180°C for 10 minutes. I wanted to serve with chocolate sauce but I didn’t have any cream to make it.

All in all, a satisfying lunch. I’m still full.

choc mousse galore

I took another order for chocolate mousse, my colleague asked me to make one for her party. She’d already ordered food from various sources, but wanted a centrepiece.

Of course, I said.

So tonight I took 8x100g bars of dark toblerone, 8 egg yolks and 1 litre of whipped cream and set about making this monster. The square tray I took home was just right. I wonder how many calories is now sitting in my fridge.

I also advised her on drinks, gave her a bottle of cabernet sauvignon and passed on probably the best kept secret as far as sparkling wine is concerned — henkell trocken, in blind taste tests does just as well (sometimes even better) as Möet, at 1/3th the price, or less if you can get it at discount, like we did, we bought 2 cases 40% off regular price.

Oh, and I made egg white omelette with 8 egg whites and 2 whole eggs. Eeek. I ate a couple of mouthfuls, then decided to leave the rest for breakfast tomorrow, I wonder if it microwaves okay.