November 30, 2009

Raspberry White Chocolate Macarons

In my last post, I mentioned I made macarons last weekend as well. Was saving the pics for a stand-alone entry on them :) I bought a punnet of raspberries and decided to put them to use in my Raspberry White Chocolate Macarons as part of the Mactweets challenge that Jamie of Life's A Feast and Deeba of Passionate About Baking are hosting. Seeing I haven't taken pictures of any macs I made in a while, I decided to use this opportunity to motivate my lazy self.

I used the trusty recipe from Cannelle et Vanille to make the macaron shells and made a basic white chocolate ganache (1 part cream, 2 parts white chocolate) and added some raspberry puree. I also added a small piece of raspberry in the centre to enhance the fruit flavour.

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I was happy with this batch of macaron though there was some air pockets in some of the shells (think I overcooked them and the meringue fell) but it wasn't that noticeable. They got pretty good reviews from the people I gave them to, which means this flavour is a keeper like my Chocolate Peanut Butter & Banana one.

Lots of Cooking

Last weekend was a weekend filled with cooking and baking. I stayed at home and made scones, bread, shepherd's pie, mac & cheese, macarons and creme brulee. Unfortunately I was too lazy to take photos of everything. So here's a selection.
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I made matcha (green tea) creme brulee with the egg yolks left from using the whites for the macarons. It's a really simple recipe that I've adapted from various recipes in books and on the net.

Basic Creme Brulee Recipe
(you can just proportionally adjust the recipe)

2 egg yolks
24g granulated sugar
200ml cream
1tsp vanilla extract (or substitute other flavourings)

Preheat oven to 150 deg C.

Whisk egg yolks with sugar until thick and pale.
Heat up cream over stove to a simmer. Add the vanilla essence (or other flavouring) to the cream. Turn off the heat once you see small bubbles, be careful not to burn the cream. Let the cream cool.
When the cream is cool enough to touch, slowly temper it into the egg yolk mixture, adding it little by little so as to not cook the eggs.
Strain the mixture and pour it into 2 ramekins (or 3 if you prefer smaller portions).
Place the ramekins into a deep oven-proof dish and pour boiling water into the dish until halfway up the ramekins to create a bain-marie.
Bake until the side is set but the centre jiggles when you use a tong to shake it, about 20-25 min.

You can use experiment and flavour the creme brulee with different things, like steeping an Earl Grey teabag into the heating cream to infuse Earl Grey flavour, or 1 tsp of green tea powder like I did. If you other pretty teacups or shallow bowls (make sure they are oven proof!), you can also use it in place of the usual ramekins. Just make sure you adjust the cooking time accordingly.

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The mushroom risotto in the picture above was somewhat of a disaster because instead of adding white wine, I added white wine vinegar!!! The two bottles were next to each other in my drawer. I was horrified when I smelt the sour smell and realised I made the mistake, I was completely not thinking. Luckily I didn't add all THAT much but it was enough damage. In order to repair it, I added some sugar to counter the sourish taste, and then after some 911 searching on the net, I decided to add baking soda to neutralise the acid. I wouldn't say it completely got rid of the vinegarish taste but at least it was edible. Sigh, next time I'll pay a lot more attention when I'm cooking. The other dish is a Truffle Mac & Cheese, though the truffle oil wasn't strong enough. I also tried the Shepherd's Pie recipe from Gordon Ramsay's Cooking For Friends and it turned out pretty well. Didn't take any pictures of it but maybe when I unfreeze another portion to cook, I will.

And the below is my loot of cookbooks (and other books) that came from Amazon! Yay! Can't wait to try it out...
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November 21, 2009

A Quick Meal

For a quick meal last night, I defrosted the japanese hamburger patty I had made earlier this week, cooked some rice and fried an egg. While the rice was cooking, I threw together a salad with beetroot, avocado, corn and lamb's lettuce. The beetroot was pre-cooked so I just had to heat it up the packet in boiling water. I like the type cooked in its own juices not the ones with vinegar added. Everything was ready in less than half an hour.

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For the hamburger patty, I made it based it on Chubby Hubby's recipe (think I blogged about it before when I first made it). While I'd love to be using wagyu beef and Berkshire pork and I'm sure it tastes damn good, it is very expensive and I can't be splurging like that on a simple meal for myself. I usually just use regular beef mince for the entire patty, and regular breadcrumbs. Quick and simple, and suitable for the freezer.

November 20, 2009

Online Shopping

I seem to have lost my mojo for regular street shopping cos it seems like everytime I get myself to the high street, I can't really focus or nothing seems to grab my attention. Unless I go equipped with a list of things to buy (and boring necessary stuff like socks or a whisk), I inevitably get very tired after an hour and will end up in a supermarket or something and spend money on groceries instead.


To combat this, I've turned to online shopping instead. Online shopping rawks! You just need to click click click and tada, the stuff's being sent to you! Yes, you might not have the instant gratification of regular shopping but nothing beats eagerly anticipating parcels in the post (even if you know what they're going to be), and ripping apart the layers of brown cardboard and bubblewrap to find the presents you've bought for yourself :)


I can't wait for my tomes of cookbooks that Amazon slyly suggested I buy to arrive and also the photos that I finally got around to printing so that I can hang them up in the frames that have been sitting around the house for a while now. I'm now contemplating if I should buy a small ice-cream maker as well on Amazon... more presents since Christmas is coming?

November 18, 2009

Entertaining Myself

This past weekend was pretty quiet. I took a look at the bad weather and decided it was probably a better idea to stay home than venture out. But I did pop downstairs to the farmer's market to get some produce and flowers when I thought it cleared up for a bit (bad idea cos it started raining the moment I stepped outside I swear). Btw, the roses I got were the most amazing scented roses. They were pretty small when I got them but by Sunday they had bloomed into huge roses and smelt great!

I was also still nursing the flu and cough so I decided to entertain at home with some nice food and flowers, except that it wasnt a dinner party but just a quiet lunch with me myself and I.

I had a chicken thigh that was already sitting in the fridge so I decided I would make some sort of Roast Chicken. Flipped through various recipe books but didn't find a satisfactory recipe so in the end I kinda just combined the stuff I had randomly for what turned out to be Honey Soy Glazed Rosemary Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash and French Beans as pictured below. I really wanted to make oeufs en cocotte (eggs in cocotte) from the cocottes recipe book I brought back from Paris. And since I was already cocotting, why not do a potato gratin as well!

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The great thing about oeufs en cocotte is that you basically can add anything you want in the base - be it cream based or tomato based or whatever other sauce, just saute the ingredients in some butter/olive oil and then add the liquid and simmer a little. I chose to do a cream based one with leeks and pancetta bits (since that was what I had in my stash) and that was also what I used as my base for the potato gratin, but topped it off with jarlsberg cheese (a type of holey cheese like emmental). They turned out pretty well, except that I overcookied the egg a little as I'd have liked it more runny. Will start a habit of sharing recipes so that I can remember them as well.

Honey Soy Glazed Rosemary Roast Chicken
with Butternut Squash and French Beans

(this is for a single portion so just multiply for more)

Chicken
1 chicken thigh
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp light soy sauce
dash of lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary
pepper and salt to taste

Vegetables
1 small half of butternut squash, chopped into cubes
handful of french beans
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 220C.
Marinate chicken with all the seasoning and ideally let it rest in the fridge for 1 hr for the flavours to soak in (I didn't rest mine but it turned out ok). Place chicken (skin side up) on well-oiled baking or roasting tray (I prefer to line with foil as well so that cleaning up is easier). Roast for 15min at 220C and lower temperature to 180C for another 20 min more. If you're cooking larger cuts of chicken or more chicken you probably would have to cook for longer.

For the vegetables, toss them in olive oil and seasoning, making sure everything is well-coated. Spread out the vegetables onto another baking tray and make sure they're well spread out and roast at 180C for 30 minutes. You can combine the cooking of both the chicken and vegetables when the oven temperature is down to 180C.

Oeufs En Cocotte Base Recipe
serves 2
2 eggs (or 4!)
80ml cream
butter
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter the insides of 2 cocottes or ramekins. Spoon half of cream into each cocotte. Gently crack an egg (or 2 if you're feeling decadent) into each cocotte. Spoon remaining cream over the eggs (I like to make sure the yolks aren't covered). Top it with a knob of butter (I like to sprinkle it with truffle oil instead! Yum!)

Set the cocottes in a roasting pan or ovenproof glass dish. Fill the pan with hot water until it comes up halfway of the cocottes. Bake in oven for 15 min if you like it runny, or 18-20 if you want it more set.

Variations
You can create any flavours you want really, depending on what's available in your fridge or pantry at the time. I had leeks and pancetta (like bacon) so I decided to saute them in some butter, and then add the cream to it. You probably can do the same with garlic, mushrooms, bacon, asparagus, cheese etc. I then spooned half the cream mixture as the base, cracked my egg on top of it, and spooned the remaining over the eggs and added a few drops of truffle oil.

Potato Gratin
serves 2
1 potato
1 clove of garlic, chopped
olive oil/butter
150ml cream
2 slices of jarlsberg cheese in small pieces(most other hard cheeses will work as well)

Preheat oven to 180C.

Slice potato into thin round slices. Saute the chopped garlic in olive oil or butter on medium heat. Add cream to the pan and let it simmer a little, taking care not to boil the cream. Remove pan from heat.

Butter the inside of each cocotte or ramekin. Arrange slices of potatoes in overlapping layers. After a couple of layers, spoon some of the cream into each cocotte and add a layer of cheese. Continue alternating until about 3/4 full (you'll probably get to 3 rounds) making sure you end with cheese. Bake in oven for 30 min.

November 15, 2009

Bad Day

Although Friday the 13th is over, the bad luck did not leave and had instead multiplied manyfold. Today will go down in history as THE DAY that I broke the most number of things. I really don't know what's wrong with me (or my slippery fingers) but first I broke a plate while washing up, and just minutes later I broke a cup while trying to hang it back onto the cupstand.

I thought that would be the end of it but no, that was not to be. As I was trying to drink my pi pa gao (cos my flu seems to have evolved into a cough), while I was lifting the bottle out of the box, somehow I managed to drop it onto the countertop (mind you it's not from a great height) and it broke, causing the gooey brown ppg to spill all over the counter and onto the kitchen floor, mixed with glass shards. Brilliant. I must be the MOST clumsy, butter fingers idiot around. And the bottle was pretty full and new, I had only drank twice out of it.

Sheesh man, 3 broken things in one day. I really don't know what to make of it. I don't think I've ever broke so many things at the same time. I only hope that tomorrow will be a better day. I need to avoid anything that's breakable.

November 12, 2009

Lazy

I've been quite lazy about taking photos, even of things I make. I made my first ever batch of macarons in London last week (or rather almost 2 weeks ago), and I didn't take a single picture :( Lazy to style, lazy to even pick up a camera. I blame it on the bad lighting and darkness prevalent for most of the time.

Anyway, I made 3 flavours - chocolate peanut butter banana, matcha buttercream and salted caramel. The first two turned out well but I went a little overboard with the fleur de sel in the caramel. Need some inspiration for new flavours.


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But I did manage to get a picture of the cupcakes I made last weekend. An attempt at red velvet but they weren't very red at all despite copious amounts of red colouring. I really didn't want to put anymore. I did take a picture though but it was just hurriedly taken, no natural light (there is really very little light in this place bah) and little styling. The other prettier dessert was store-bought from the William Curley cafe that just opened near my place. It's supposedly Britain's best chocolatier - artisan chocs and very pretty desserts. It's a husband and wife team, both patissiers and the wife is Japanese so there's lots of cool jap flavours like sesame and green tea as well. Will find some time to go hang out there.

Now that I have a bit of free time with no plans today and this weekend, I am at a loss of what to do. Guess time to catch up on sleep and get well.

November 8, 2009

Singapore Food Festival Chez Moi

Tomorrow will be the 3-month mark since I've been here in London. How time flies. I think I can say that I'm more or less settled down here although I definitely haven't gone to a lot of the places I want to yet. This coming month will be quite manic for me in terms of work so I apologise in advance if blogging will be sporadic and short.

Here are some pics from my camera that I haven't put up yet. Just some food and flowers at home - made some soy saunce chicken and sting ray the other day yum yum! And the uglily frosted cake is my first attempt at frosting. Can't take full credit for the baking though as I had a friend over from Singapore who did most of it. We made like 2 chocolate cakes (actually 3 since I turned one big one into 2 smaller ones) and it was really fun! Those who want to have an even better version and properly frosted one, go to Truffs at Telok Ayer St and you can buy one for yourself along with handmade chocolate truffles! (Ok end of plug)

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I think I twittered or blogged about how I miss doing flowers and so I bought some flowers on my way home from work and created the following arrangements. The combinations weren't really what I envisioned when I bought them but I think these work better.
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Last night, I had people over to my place for dinner. I ambitiously tried to cook for 12 and the menu for the night was Singaporean local food. Without the help of my capable sous chef Eugene, I think I wouldn't have made it, so thank you! I didn't manage to take pictures of everything since I was busy cooking and trying to make sure there was enough crockery and cutlery for everyone.

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The menu included Rojak, Chwee Kueh, Bak Kut Teh, Chicken Rice, Kai Lan, Char Kuay Teow, Chai Tow Kueh, Laksa, Stingray and Pulut Hitam. Very ambitious and I think Eugene thought I was nuts trying to attempt to cook so many dishes. Well we made it in the end though slightly late as I was still cooking when guests came. I made the chwee kueh and chai tow kueh 'kuehs' the night before and we started cooking all the rest of the stuff at about 4pm (aiming for a 7pm dinner service).

The chicken rice ran into quite a few hiccups as I discovered at 4pm that I did not have any Prima chicken rice packs that I had intended to use. For some strange reason, I thought I had 3-4 when I had only bought 1 and I had used it up (I blogged about it a while back). Luckily I had the small chicken rice mixes for the rice. Then at about 6pm when I wanted to cook the rice, I realised that I had only enough rice for barely 3 cups. Brilliant. I had all sorts of other rice - japanese, risotto, white glutinous and black glutinous but NO thai white rice. The capable sous chef ran down to the corner shop and got some normal long grain rice (that looked yellow) but heck, we mixed it in. When the rice was cooked and I opened up the pot, it was swimming in liquid still. I cooked 5 cups of rice (albeit mixed) and added liquid up to the mark for 5 cups and till now I still dunno what went wrong. By now I was a little freaking out as people had started to come and I had chicken rice porridge. We scooped out the excess liquid and tried to cook the rice some more. Luckily it managed to dry out somewhat and was edible, albeit a little salty.

I think Singapore food needs to be eaten hot and probably in small portions. The chai tow kueh and char kuay teow especially. They were really good as I was cooking them (I snuck in some tastings) but by the time people were eating them they were more or less cold. Another case in point is the laksa I'm eating for lunch right now. It wasn't as shiok eating it last night as it is now after I have just nuked it and made it all hot and warm again.

Anyway, suffice to say that I have tons and tons of food leftover because I probably cooked for 20 instead of 12 and my fridge is piled up with tupperwares of leftover food. I really have NO idea how I'm going to eat it all before it goes to waste. Next time, I'll know just to cook a little less, just a tad less.
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