June 16, 2010

Truffs & Friends

Two of my friends from Singapore, EL and JL, came to London recently and bunked in chez moi. The thing we all have in common is the love of food (as with most of my friends!) and one of them has taken this passion further and opened his own chocolate atelier, Truffs, in Singapore. In this cosy open kitchen, he makes and serves only 2 products - hand-rolled truffles (4 varieties - 55%, 66%, 70% and a sugarless one) and a chocolate cake. Talk about specialising!

Truffs
Photos are courtesy of Truffs, from their Facebook Fan Page

I do attest to the quality of the truffles and you have to try one for yourself to know. Unfortunately, they are only available in Singapore at the moment though I've been trying to persuade him to open Truffs London hah! The chocolate cake is also amazingly moist, dense and chocolatey. Don't take my word for it, since I'm a friend (though I have no shares in the business!) but there have been several reviews posted in the Singaporean blogsphere and magazines, latest being a hilarious one from Mr Brown (you may not fully appreciate it if you don't understand Singlish, the colloquial English spoken in Singapore). TimeOut Singapore has also voted Truffs' Chocolate Cake as Top 5 in Singapore. If you're in Singapore, do check Truffs out. They're located on the 2nd floor of a shophouse at 79a Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068627.

So while EL and JL were here, we went along to William Curley, apparently Britain's Best Chocolatier 2007-2009, for a class in chocolates and ice cream. We made sea salt caramel pralines, vanilla and chocolate ice-creams (using a pacojet!!). As it was just the 3 of us, it was really personalised with Suzy the pastry chef entertaining our many questions about ice-creams and chocs. I would highly recommend their classes, although I'm not too sure if they regularly conduct classes at the Belgravia branch (which is where we went to) instead of the Richmond branch. Check their website for more details.

We also dined at Viajante, a new restaurant located in the newly converted Bethnal Green Townhall Hotel. I will put up a separate review with pictures another time, unless C beats me to it :) but suffice to say that the four foodies weren't wowed by the food nor service, and the second half of the meal dragged on needlessly, especially after the chef owner Nuno Mendes left. Hopefully it's because they're still in soft opening stage, and they get their act together as it is quite different expectations hosting supper clubs (as Chef Mendes was doing prior to this venture) and serving paying guests in a high-end restaurant environment.

To send them off in style, as well as to mark a special appearance by Wan on his quick stopover en route to South Africa, we had a massive dinner of roast pork from Tang Freres (siu yoke), specially hand carried back from Paris by EL, roast duck from Four Seasons here in London and sambal kangkong, all washed down with Pimms!

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The roast pork from Tang Freres/Tang Gourmet is my absolute favourite and possibly best roast pork in the world! I was in Paris the week before and was completely devastated when Tang Gourmet ran out of roast pork when we went in the evening. They sell it both at their main supermarket takeout counter at 48 Avenue d'Ivry and Tang Gourmet deli along Avenue de Choisy, right outside of Place d'Italie metro stop. Try to get there in the afternoon, or it'll be sold out!

It was a decadent couple of weeks of eating as we had cakes after cakes, ice-creams after ice-creams, chocolates after chocolates. I guess that's what happens if you hang out with chefy foodie types :) At one point, we had 8 different cakes in a day and on another, 8 different ice-creams sitting in my fridge. Now that they're gone, who's going to help me finish all the leftovers??

June 12, 2010

Mactweets Mac Attack 8 Challenge! - Black & White Sesame Macarons

 After missing the last few rounds of Mac Attack challenges, I am finally back! Thanks to Jamie of Lifesafeast, who reminded me this month's challenge was due this week when I met her at last weekend's Food Bloggers Connect (more on that soon I promise!), I am back with a vengeance!

This month's theme is "Take A Walk on The Wild Side", macarons inspired by Africa and the safari. The first thing that sprung to my mind when I thought about the theme was zebras. Don't ask me why but somehow that's the first animal that popped up in my head :) And since this month the World Cup kicks off in South Africa, I thought I'd make black & white macarons, inspired by both zebras and footballs! Other than the colours, I picked sesame as a flavour as it comes both in black and white variations and I love black sesame anything.

I made the shells using the tried and trusted recipe adapted from Cannelle et Vanille's basic recipe,
colouring half the shells with black colouring (though it didn't really come out very black) and left the other half au naturel. While they were drying, I sprinkled some black sesame seeds on the white shells and white sesame seeds on the dark shells. As for the filling, I whipped up a creme chantilly and flavoured it with black sesame paste (see recipe below).

May 21, 2010

Macaron Shells (makes about 50-54 shells)
recipe adapted from Cannelle & Vanille

100g egg whites, aged
3g egg white powder
130g almond flour (blitz in food processor to get a finer texture)
160g icing sugar
55g castor sugar
black gel food colouring (according to how dark you want it, I put about 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp white sesame seeds

Sift icing sugar and processed almond flour together in a bowl. Set aside.

Mix egg whites with egg white powder and whisk in electric mixer until soft peaks on medium high speed.

Lower speed on electric mixer and add in castor sugar slowly while still whisking until fully incorporated. Continue whisking on medium high speed until your egg white meringue mixture reaches stiff peak stage.

Fold in 1/3 of dry ingredients (icing sugar + almond flour) into meringue with a spatula gently. Add in 1/3 more and fold again before mixing in the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Make sure all dry ingredients are incorporated into the meringue and start folding mixture more vigorously to form a shiny batter with the consistency of flowing magma or drips down like ribbons when you lift the batter up and let it drip down, and it should slowly disappear into itself without leaving a peak. Be careful not to over mix. If you are adding colour, add it just after all dry ingredients have been incorporated and before working the mixture into a shiny mass.

Line 2 baking trays with non-stick parchment paper (or silpat). You can stick it down with bits of batter in the four corners.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round tip with the batter, and pipe even rounds of batter, about 3cm across, onto the tray. If you've mixed the batter properly, it should not spread flatly out too much (overmixed) or leave a peak (undermixed). Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of shells.

Let the batter dry for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 170 deg C (convection oven or 180 dec C if conventional oven).

When batter is dry to touch (it forms a slight crust), turn the oven down to 140 deg C (or 150 deg C for conventional oven) and bake shells for 14-15 min, turning the trays halfway through baking.

After baking, lift parchment onto wire rack to let shells cool and gently unmould when cool.

Black Sesame Cream Filling

200ml whipping cream
20g icing sugar
20g black sesame paste (available from japanese grocery stores)

Whisk whipping cream in electric mixer on medium high speed until almost stiff, taking care not to overwhip.

Sift icing sugar over whipped cream and continue whisking to incorporate, until cream is stiff.

Fold in black sesame paste with a spatula until evenly incorporated.

Fill cream into piping bag fitted with 1cm round tip.

Assembly

Match pairs of shells of even size.

Pipe a small mound of cream filling onto one half of each pair of shells.

Top with the other shell.


So there you go, my entry for Mac Attack 8!

Also wanted to share some other pictures I took the other day when the girls came over for a girly sleepover. I was very inspired by the flowers I saw on my way home, and spent wayyyy too much than my usual flower budget on many different types of flowers. Arranged them into several different designs and decorated the house with them. We also went to Borough Market and bought saucisson, cheese and fruits for a pre-dinner snack, accompanied by some lovely Gewurztraminer. I do miss doing flowers, really need to practice more often, though it's not a cheap hobby!

May 21, 20101

June 8, 2010

iPhone 4 - DROOL....

Watch this and drool - I really want a new iPhone! Ok, will probably just be contented with the OS upgrade. Can't wait!!

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