Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This is for you..

I had my very first crush in kindergarten, but I'm not telling you his name.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year!

Red is once again the main colour of this festive period!
Whether you are celebrating the Chinese (Lunar) New Year or Valentines Day, the colour red will be ubiquitous. Think hong baos (red packets), festive goodies in red-lidded plastic containers, cheong sam/qi pao (traditional chinese clothings), oranges, lion dances etc for the LNY and kisses, red roses, romantic walks, hugs, love, heart-shaped candies/cookies/muffins/cupcakes/cakes... It really is a time to just let go and eat.

Yes that's what I'm talking about. Eat. Eat and be merry! Notice how every festive season involves loads of food? Bring on the fats I say! Hahah

During the Lunar New Year, there will be an orange-buying-frenzy in supermarkets everywhere. Why? Because it symbolises luck/gold/fortune and the younger generation has to present it to the older generation. In return, we get hong baos (: So I hope I get to bake something with oranges/orange zest after the LNY celebrations! Or I'll just have to clear them with my family by eating them as a fruit (after refrigeration of course!). It's nice to spend time with family, relatives and friends during the festive period.

Oh right! Even though yesterday was Valentines Day, it wasn't very significant to me because 1. I was busy visiting relatives for the LNY and 2. I don't have that special someone to share it with (boohoo hahah!). It doesn't matter that I'm single and all since I have such wonderful friends and family to share the day with. So yippee for all you singles out there who spent Valentines with friends and family! Because you are not alone (:

PS: Sorry there will be no recipes uploaded since I didn't get the chance to bake any LNY cookies like last year and I don't have anyone to bake for during Valentines so check out other foodie blogs on my list on the left side of this blog for interesting recipes and bakes :D Check back soon for more updates!!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thank you, Lord, for our Daily Bread

I'm a real sucker for a good loaf of bread.
I eat 2 slices of wholemeal toast everyday for breakfast if you remember! One with my favourite Nutella and the other with either PB or PB&J (I just bought a jar of Smuckers' PB&J swirl! Awesome, but can't beat Nutella hahah).

Ever since my pita bread attempt, I got hooked on bread baking. This way, I can control whatever goes into my bread! I can reduce the sugar or increase the % of wholemeal flour used...
Only problem is I've never baked bread before, assuming we just ignore the pita bread for now. Yeast used to scare me honestly. Actually, the idea of baking anything with yeast scared me last time because let's face it, baking is a unique type of Science. Hands up if you agree!

Blue Yonder's Daily Wholemeal Bread
adapted from lafujimama
makes 1 small loaf - 12 slices

2/3 tbsp warm water
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 tsp yeast
1/6 tsp sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup wholemeal flour
2 tbsp applesauce
extra flour to dust

1. Mix the yeast, sugar and 2/3 tbsp warm water together and let it sit for about 10-15 min.

2. In a large bowl, pour the yeast mixture, the remaining 1/3 cup warm water, the flours and the applesauce together. Mix until incorporated using an electric mixer with a dough hook. Keep mixing for about 7min or 3-4min then knead by hand. The dough should no longer be sticky but smooth and elastic.

3. Remove the dough and place in a clean bowl, lightly dusted with flour. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour as well. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm, draught-free spot for it to double in size.

4. After the dough has risen, punch it down to release the air. Spray/grease and flour a small loaf pan. Shape the dough into a loaf and place it in the pan.

5. Let the dough rise in the pan in a warm spot again, uncovered, until doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 180C. Bake the loaf for about 20-25min or until the loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped on top.

Hmm, for some reason or other, this bread tastes a bit like sourdough. It looks like sourdough too. The texture of this bread is crumbly yet moist. It's not like the regular off-the-shelf wholemeal bread you get, which is soft and moist. This bread also has a crust. But it's not those hard crusty kinds, it's more of the sourdough kinds. Maybe I really unknowingly baked a loaf of sort-of sourdough and didn't know it. Hmm.

Thank you, Lord, for our Daily Bread. Amen.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Excuse me, there's a hole in my bread!

"What do you want to eat for lunch today?"
That's the million dollar question that I ask myself every single day. At this rate, I'll become the world's fastest self-made billionaire/trillionaire/whatever-aire if I get a million dollars every time I ask this question. Now wait, that wouldn't be so bad now would it? Right.

Ever since the end of last year, when I was studying for my A levels, I had to eat lunch fast in order to continue studying. So when I went to the supermarket with my family one weekend as we were doing our weekly marketing, I noticed the bread section had pitas, tortilla wraps etc. Being a bread-lover, I decided to eat pita bread stuffed with ham/fruits/whatever I could find in the fridge for lunch during the weekdays. I never looked back.

Having extra time on my hands to spare now, I decided to attempt making my beloved pita bread. Making your own bread from scratch is just so satisfying. It's a different kind of satisfaction from normal baking I realised. Maybe because this is a staple? Well you can't possibly grow rice in your backyard can you? Unless of course you're a farmer, then I've got nothing to say.

Pita Bread
adapted from straightfromthefarm
makes about 10 5-6" pitas (or 8 6" pitas)

2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp EVOO
about 1 cup warm water
extra flour for dusting

1. Sift the flours and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and the yeast.

2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients then add the oil and about 3/4 cup of the water. Mix to form a soft dough (if it doesn't come together at first, add a little more water).

3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for about 5min until the dough is smooth and elastic. In the meanwhile, clean the large bowl and lightly spray with oil. Place the dough inside and cover with a damp tea towel. Let it rise in a warm, draught-free, place until doubled in size. It would take about an hour.

4. Punch down the dough to release the air and divide into 8 equal pieces (I divided it into 10 unequal pieces). Shape them into balls and roll out eat one into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.

5. Place the rounds on greaseproof/parchment paper and cover with oiled cling film. Let them rise for 20-30min. While waiting for your pita rounds to rise, preheat the oven to 230C and place your baking tray inside the oven, lined with greaseproof/parchment paper at the same time. You can make the pitas in batches.

6. Place 2-3 pita rounds on each tray and bake for 6-9min or until the pita rounds are puffed up and golden brown.

7. Cool the pita rounds slightly then cover with a clean tea towel to keep them warm and soft until served. Alternatively, you can wait for the pita rounds to cool completely then freeze them between sheets of greaseproof/parchment paper. These store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks.

Just thaw the pitas and reheat in a toaster oven whenever you want to eat them!

Note: It is important for the oven and the baking tray to be hot so that the pitas will puff up and form a pocket inside!

Notice that my pictures only show 7 pita pockets when I made 10? Well, I've got a gross confession - I burnt my first batch of 3 pitas.

It can only be blamed on my poor memory because I thought they were to be baked for 10-15 min and only started watching at the 10th minute! They became rock-hard and dry, almost like pita chips actually. Mom and sis loved it though, much to my amazement. I didn't. Why? Because I like my bread soft. Yup, soft and chewy bread's my kryptonite.

It's really burnt at some parts, see?? :(
So take a leaf from my book and remember your baking times. You wouldn't want to end up with bad pitas.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy World Nutella Day!

Today is the 5th of February and it is very special.
Why is it so special you may ask? Well my friend, here's why.

Happy World Nutella Day 2010!

The World Nutella Day was created in 2007 when Sara Rosso from Ms. Adventures in Italy thought that there were many days in the year but no day set aside to appreciate Nutella (oh boy was she right!). So World Nutella Day was born. She was joined by Shelly from At Home in Rome to organise World Nutella Day 2007. In 2008 and 2009, Sara has also been joined by Michelle from Bleeding Espresso as they spread World Nutella Day love! Now, it is up to us to pass it on! Let's do our part for Nutella (here's how)!

Yes! World Nutella Day is finally here!
Nutella has been a great and wonderful part of my life since secondary school, about 4 years ago. I used to slop on a thick layer of the chocolatey hazelnut spread on digestive biscuits and gobble them down for my after school snack! Whenever my mom buys bananas, I would slice the bananas then dunk and eat them. As simple as that. Nowadays, being older and all, I slather a huge dollop of the nutty goodness on wholemeal toast for breakfast every morning. The wholemeal toast helps lessen the guilt as it is healthier compared to white toast right? Okay I may be a bit health conscious but that doesn't stop me from eating Nutella every day now does it! So in conclusion, I couldn't figure out which type of Nutella lover I was. But whatever the case, I wouldn't mind being ALL the types mashed in one :D

Since this is my first year celebrating World Nutella Day (I heard about it only end of last year), I had to find a special recipe! I looked through tons of websites and browsed through all the Nutella related recipes submitted from previous years to get some inspiration. Alas, I decided. It would be the Tiramisu that would join the gorgeous Nutella in the most anticipated marriage of the year. After deciding on the type of dessert I would make, I had to choose a recipe to follow/tweak/adapt. So back to the computer and cookbooks I went.

Finally, I succeeded. Below is the adapted recipe from 2 sources (:

Individual Nutella Tiramisu
adapted from Gordon Ramsay and marmiton.org
serves 2

8 Savoiardi (Italian ladyfingers)
125g mascarpone
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g Nutella (you can add more or less, depending on your preference)
75ml heavy whipping cream
1tbsp heavy whipping cream
100ml strong coffee or espresso cooled to room temp*
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
frozen 70% cocoa chocolate bar
sugar to sweeten coffee

1. Melt the Nutella with 1tbsp of whipping cream in the microwave. The cream acts as a medium for the Nutella to dissolve and melt. Let cool.

2. Whisk the 75ml heavy whipping cream in one bowl until soft peaks form. Do not over-whisk!

3. Whisk the mascarpone and vanilla extract in another bowl until the mascarpone mixture is creamy and smooth.

4. Add the melted Nutella mixture into the mascarpone mixture and mix until incorporated.

5. Gently fold in the whipped cream into the mascarpone-Nutella mixture to avoid losing the air incorporated previously.

6. Quickly dip the Savoiardi into the coffee and arrange into desired position in the individual cups/glasses. Break them into smaller pieces if you need to. Don't soak the Savoiardi in the coffee too long as it is highly absorbant! The Savoiardi will turn soggy and that's not what we want right!

7. Pour a layer of the Nutella mixture over the Savoiardi and repeat the process until the cup is full.

8. Refrigerate for about 4 hours to ensure the tiramisu has firmed up (I took mine out about 2 hours after to photograph hahah couldn't wait!).

9. Grate the frozen chocolate bar over the tiramisu and dust with cocoa powder before serving (or you can just eat it straight if you can't wait haha)

*I just dissolved about 2tsp of Nescafe in 100ml of water

Okay so I'm not a good decorator as you can see, but what matters most is the taste right? Given that it was my first attempt at making a Tiramisu, albeit a non-authentic simple one, I thought that it tasted awesome! So did my sister (:

So go ahead, indulge in whatever Nutella fantasies you have today. After all, you have to wait a whole other year for this day to come knocking again. Enjoy you fellow Nutella lovers! :D
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