Friday, December 25, 2009

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas one and all!
It's finally that time of year when it's all about Jesus Christ (:


I just came back from Christmas service at my church - Lighthouse Evangelism and decided to blog a bit about yesterday's Christmas eve dinner. So we invited a few friends and colleagues over for dinner and cooked up a storm with leftovers to boast. In addition to the curry chicken and the salad, together with the omission of the bee hoon, my mom toasted some ready made fishballs. One of her colleagues brought some Japanese sushi rice with shredded omelette, mushrooms and other funky things in. Delish btw. My dad's friend brought a big log cake from Prima Deli to add on to the dessert menu. Snacks consisted of boiled peanuts and mixed dried nuts and berries. But my main point is not the dinner, its the dessert. MY dessert.





I finally chose to bake the individual Chocolate Fondant cake aka lava cake aka warm chocolate cake aka molten chocolate babycakes etc etc and the list goes on. I haven't found a standardised name for this delight yet so I'll just make do with the name 'Molten Chocolate Cake'. Simple and straightforward. I was super nervous and scared that I would ruin the molten centers when I tip the pan over (I used muffin pans btw, my budget didn't allow for the ceramic ramekin moulds) and whether the molten centers would really be molten. I prayed. And my cakes turned out beautifully! The molten centers were really molten, all except for one. It was still moist and wet but not liquid. But it's a rather good attempt I think, for a first try.


I browsed through many many recipes and decided on the one from Take Home Chef Curtis Stone because I had seen him make it on tv before. I also cross-referenced several sources and found that his tallied with another source's perfectly. Hence the obvious choice.





I also decided to follow the advice of the many tv chefs when they recommend us to us chocolate with 70% cocoa solids! The only brand my mom could find was Lindt. Awesome no?? It's really one of the best brands available in my honest opinion.


Molten Chocolate Cake
adapted from TLC.com
makes 6 cakes


113g unsalted butter, and more for greasing
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
105g chopped dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/6 cup (25g) all purpose flour
vanilla ice cream/whipped cream/chocolate sauce for serving


1. Preheat oven to 200°C if baking straightaway.


2. Coat 6 moulds with butter and dust with cocoa powder to cover the entire mould. Tap out the excess.


3. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat in a heavy medium saucepan until smooth (Good chocolate will make an awesomely smooth and velvety melted mixture)


4. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar until it is pale and doubled in volume. This would take about 3-5min.


5. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture.


6. Fold in the flour until the batter is smooth.


7. Pour the batter into the prepared moulds about 3/4 full. Make sure the batter is divided equally amond all the moulds.


8. Bake for 8-10 min (1-2min longer if batter is fridge-cold)/until cakes are slightly puffed and just set around the edges. Toothpick inserted should come out with batter still attached. DO NOT OVERBAKE otherwise centers would not be molten.


9. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce (I used Hershey's hahah)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Too bad it doesn't snow in Singapore




It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well it should, since tomorrow's Christmas eve! How time flies.


This year, my family's hosting a small gathering tomorrow just to liven up the household and to pump up the Christmas mood. Despite the setting up of a Christmas tree with a miserable number of presents underneath, the Christmas mood is still somewhat lacking. As I walked down Orchard Road yesterday with some of my friends after dinner, the Christmas mood in me started building up. Was it the prettier-than-past-years Christmas decorations? Or the Christmas carols playing in the background? I wasn't sure. One thing's for sure is that Singaporeans don't celebrate Christmas the way the Westerners do.



Gingerbread house at the St. Regis Hotel Singapore


I love having a spread at the table with many friends and relatives to enjoy it with. Better still if they all compliment the food. The centerpiece would be a huge oven-roasted turkey stuffed with gorgeous Christmas stuffing no doubt, flanked by many side dishes such as mashed potatoes, baked/broiled/tossed vegetables, cornbread, ham, minced pies, delicious cranberry sauce, a gravy boat, fruits etc. Oh and let's not forget dessert! Christmas puddings, apple pie, fruit cakes, log cakes, ice cream, Christmas cookies etc. And standing quietly in the corner would be a majestic gingerbread house, complete with gingerbread men and women (:


Okay maybe my head is filled with images from shows such as Nigella's Christmas Kitchen, Joan Cusack's Local Flavours, A Christmas Carol, Jamie cooks Christmas etc. But a girl can wish, can't she?


So anyway, back to my family's Christmas eve dinner. Mom's cooking her famous chicken curry, bee hoon and tossing up some salad. And I'll be in charge of the baking! I baked some Christmas cookies (shortbread) as sort of party favours and decorated them with icing together with my sister this afternoon. They were great fun decorating but were sort of troublesome during the cut-out process. My dough was too sticky even though I added in more flour than the recipe called for in desperate attempts to dry it out. The end product was rather satisfactory if I do say so myself. The cookies had a crumbly-melt-in-your-mouth texture, just the texture I wanted.


Christmas Shortbread Cookies
adapted from joyofbaking.com
makes 51 odd-shaped cookies (see picture)


cookies
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the workplace
1/4 tsp salt
226g unsalted butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


icing
75g (5/8 cup) icing or powdered sugar
1 tbsp hot water
pink food colouring (optional)


1. Whisk the flour with the salt and set aside.


2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Make sure the butter is at room temperature!


3. Add in the sugar and beat until smooth. Then add in the vanilla extract.


4. Gently stir in the flour into the butter mixture.


5. Flatten the dough into a flat round circle and wrap with cling film/plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least an hour.


6. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with baking/parchment paper.


7. On a lightly floured surface (mine was floured many times) roll out the dough until it is about 2" thick. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters dipped in flour.


8. Place cookies in the refrigerator for about 15min (okay I forgot this step and rushed right into baking them).


9. Bake for about 8-10min or until cookies are lightly browned.



Have a blessed Christmas everyone!

안녕하세요 Korea 2009!

Although I doubt anybody reads this, I must say that I still enjoy updating this blog. In case you didn't notice, I was mia for a while, say 3 weeks? Reason being that I was overseas in South Korea! The trip was awesome and I didn't really want to come back to Singapore. The food was good, the sightseeing was good, the food was good, the shopping was good, the food was good, the people were good, and most importantly, THE FOOD WAS GOOD! Hahah I really really loved it there as you can probably tell. The only drawback was the weather. Temperatures reached the sub-zero region but there was no snow! My dad was particularly upset over this. He lamented EVERYDAY. No joke.



Typical Korean restaurant table setting (ondol-style)

One of our meals

The best bibimbap we ate throughout the trip!


Korean food is loaded with carbs and you seem to have 3 lunches/dinners everyday. Breakfast with bread and butter is seldom seen at the table in the morning. Rice, or bap, is a must have at every meal. Although I do not really enjoy eating rice, I liked the bibimbap (rice topped with vegetables and egg mised with gochujang). Interesting thing to note though is that the taste varies from place to place. Not once did I eat a bibimbap that tasted the same as somewhere else. Awesomely unique if you ask me. The Korean style porridge/congee (juk) is starchy and thick. This is different from the watery thin kinds that my mom makes at home the way she likes it. My sister and I especially liked the abalone juk hahah, no surprise there.
Side dishes (banchan) are also ubiquitous. They include Kimchi (preserved cabbages/cucumbers/radish etc), cold boiled beansprouts doused in sesame oil, seaweed with a sweet red sauce, boiled spinach with some sauce, tasty ikan-bilis (anchovies) with some spicy sauce etc etc. There is simply too many to be named!



Haemul casserole


Soups and stews such as jjigae (Kimchi, miso, seafood etc) and other seafood (haemul) casseroles in the form or steamboats are common as well. Simply pair soup with rice and you get a one way ticket to food paradise. But if you ask me, I would prefer it if the rice was replaced by bread xD
Oh yes, you cannot forget the Korean barbeque. If you're a vegetarian or simply detest meat, Korea might not be the place for you. Barbequed bulgogi (marinated cooked beef), galbi (marinated pork/beef short ribs) and others are heavenly. The protein might be too much for you to handle thus moderation is key. Chicken dishes such as samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup stuffed with rice) is a popular dish during summer although we had it during the winter hahah. My parents liked it but I personally didn't enjoy it much.
Then there's the noodle dishes. Ramyeon (something like the La Mien of the Chinese except in spicy Kimchi soup), Naengmyeon (Cold noodles in a sweet broth) and jajangmyeon (noodles with bean paste sauce) are just some of the noodles that we tried in Korea, but there are many many others available too.
Finally we have the street food. Gimbap (something like the Japanese sushi), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes, sometimes with fishcake slices), fishcakes on sticks, pajeon (Korean style pancakes filled with seafood, spring onions, kimchi etc), japchae (Korean starch vermicelli fried with vegetables), chestnuts etc. Okay chestnuts are not really Korean but we saw many stalls selling them and they are bigger than the ones in Singapore. The pajeon is also about 4 times the size of that sold in Singapore. There was also many stalls selling cooked silkworms and some small shellfish. I tried to have an open-mind towards the preference of people from other countries but I got repulsed. I'm sorry.


Well, that's about all for my Korean food experience. Although we were there for close to 10 full days, my family and I didn't get sick of Korean food! But there was one little deviation from Korean food - Paris Baguette. It's this bakery/cafe which is literally everywhere in Korea, advertised by 2PM! I especially liked their sweet red bean paste bun :D Reminds me of the Japanese Dorayaki hahah. We got like 8 posters of 2PM from Paris Baguette! Really goes to show how mad we were over Paris Baguette hahah



Our very first purchase from Paris Baguette I think (my red bean bun is the one with black sesame seeds!!)


We bought back some Kimchi (cucumber and cabbage), the tasty ikan-bilis, gochujang and the red chilli powder for making jjigae! All in all, this was a satisfying trip for both the materialistic and non-materialistic aspect. Thoroughly enjoyed myself :D

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You can't rain on my parade


It's been raining raining raining these few weeks. Gloomy skies, rumbling thunders and the smell of wet grass seems to be an every day fixture. I even had to run in the pouring rain to get to school on the day of my Physics paper 3 exam (Nov 19 '09)! Buses were stalled as the roads were flooded. So I was drenched as I sat for the exam in the cold hall. As the exam was delayed to allow more stranded students to reach, my friend and I (she was more drenched than I was) were shivering even more! It really is the ultimate exam condition to be in I must say.



So before the daily rain started today, I decided to bake. Again. Mainly because there would be close to zero natural light you can use to take a decent photo. Besides, you can never bake too many times a week (: This time I baked Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Okay so they didn't turn out that thick but they sure are chewy and moist! It has to be my best attempt at baking cookies EVER. And I didn't burn them at all!! May there be more to come :D



Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
makes 20 2.5-3" cookies

1 and 1/16 cups self-raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
85g melted and cooled unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 caster sugar (granulated is fine too)
1 egg yolk
1/2 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips/chunks (semi or bittersweet)*

1. Preheat oven to 165°C and line 2 baking trays with baking/parchment papers.

2. Mix flour and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

3. Beat butter and sugars together until thoroughly incorporated. Mix in the egg yolk, white and vanilla extract.

4. Gently mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips/chunks. Add in any other nuts or berries you want (optional) at this stage.

6. Drop the cookie dough onto the baking trays with about 3" spacing (the cookies will expand a little). Bake the cookies for 13-15 min or until the cookies are light golden brown and the edges start to harden. The cookie centers should be still soft and puffy to ensure the cookies are chewy. Do not overbake!! If dough is frozen, the cookies would require another extra 1-2 min baking time.

7. Cool the cookies on the tray. Serve as is or store in an airtight container. Cookies are best eaten after cooling or when they are still semi-warm.

These make an excellent afternoon snack :D 
 

If only chocolate chip cookies could grow on flowers.. 

*Yup, you guessed it. I used Ghiradelli's 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate buttons and Hershey's mini semisweet chocolate chips.

On a side note, Christmas is coming and my family has no clue what to do -whether to invite guests or keep it an immediate family affair. But one thing's for sure: I will definitely attempt to make individual Chocolate Fondants (the kinds with the gooey liquid centers) for the family! :D I can hardly wait!

PS: I used up all the self-raising flour today. Should I get all-purpose/cake/wholewheat flour and baking powder or stick to self-raising? Advise please!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday morning madness



Can you believe I got up at 8am just to BAKE?
Yes of course you can, because you probably would do the same if you were an avid baker! :D

I actually had an appointment at 10.15am at the nearby bt panjang so I had to get up early anyway. What amazes me is that I managed to clear the oven and the junk on top (to prevent any plastics from melting), prepare the ingredients, wash the equipment, bake and get ready to leave house by 9.50am! Although I was a little late, even though I cabbed there, I managed to make it there by 10.20am tops. It was amazing. So this recipe is probably one of the speediest ones I found so far (:

These Mini Brownie Bites were found from one of the blogs I hopped to this morning before I got down to baking. They looked appetising and seemed easy enough for a morning bake. Since my sister wanted to eat brownies for a long time, I decided it would be a good choice. Although it's not really a brownie since it has a muffin-like texture which is moist and intense, it still does have the smell of a brownie :D Awesome for a first attempt hahah.


Mini Brownie Bites
adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours - Brownie Buttons (a TWD-chosen recipe from quite long ago)
makes 12 mini cupcakes (about 1.5-2")

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp self-raising flour
1/8 tsp salt
57g unsalted butter cut into small cubes
71g bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped*
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg


1. Preheat oven to 180°C and butter a mini muffin pan with 12 slots (I used a non-stick pan so I skipped the butter).


2. Whisk the flour and salt together in a bowl.


3. Melt the butter, chocolate and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and cool when all has melted and mix until thoroughly combined.


4. Stir the vanilla extract and egg into the cooled chocolate mixture.


5. Add the flour and mix well. Add any dried fruits, chocolate chips etc in at this stage. I didn't add any because I forgot to :/



6. Pour the mixture into the prepared muffin pan and bake on the middle rack for 10-14min or until stick inserted comes out clean. Do not overbake! Otherwise they will be hard and burnt around the edges.

*Again I used Ghiradelli's 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate buttons (: They come in handy very often!

It's a recommended recipe by me because I like the texture of the bites! Do try it and let me know how it comes out (:

Oh and I also want to know any other recommended brownie recipes since I haven't been able to find one yet. So please leave a comment to help me out! Thanks!! :D


PS: My blog has finally been verified for the foodieblogroll! Super happy hahah
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