Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fruit Tartlets

I made some fruit tartlets today for my husband to share with his colleagues as it is his last day of internship. I am really pleased with the results, considering that this is my first time making them. 

The tart shells and pastry cream were made yesterday and the assembling (filling with cream and fruit toppings) were done this morning. I love this type of recipe where the preparation can be done over several days, thus making it less stressful and tiring for the baker!

To prevent the shell from turning soggy too quickly, I lined the inner bottom and sides of the crust with a thin layer of melted chocolate. They were then left to dry for a couple of minutes in the fridge before filling up with the pastry cream. 

Fruit tarts are best consumed within the day once they are assembled. 





Recipe 
(for the shell - makes about 8)
125g All-purpose flour
75g sugar
60g unsalted butter, bring to room temperature
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
a pinch of salt

Directions
1. Beat butter and sugar in a mixing bowl till light and fluffy. 
2. Add in vanilla essence, egg yolk and salt. Mix well. 
3. Sift flour into the above mixture and incorporate well. 
4. Form into a ball and refrigerate for 30mins. 
5. Pre-heat oven to 180 deg Celcius. 
5. Roll out the dough into desired thickness and shape into tart tins. Refrigerate again for 10mins. 
6. Prick the bottom of the tart shells with a fork (to minimize bottom from bulging during baking process). Bake for 15mins or until shells turn a light golden brown. 
7. When done, let it cool in the tin for 15 mins then remove and continue cooling on wire rack. Store in airtight container till ready to use. 


(for the pastry cream - recipe adapted from thelittleteochew)
2 egg yolks
55g sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp unsalted butter
a pinch of salt

Directions
1. Whisk together egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk (60ml), sugar and vanilla beans. Mix in cornflour and salt (if using).
2. Bring the remaining milk to a scald* in a saucepan. Pour the hot milk in small stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk as you pour (very important). Once incorporated, pour everything back into the saucepan.
* To scald is to heat to just below the boiling point.
3. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and firms up. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.
4. Pour the hot custard into a bowl and plunge the bottom of the bowl into another larger bowl of iced-water to cool, give it a whisk occasionally. 

5. Once it reaches room temperature, scoop the crème pâtissière into a piping bag (twist the open end to seal up the custard) or into a ketchup bottle. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chinese beef stew with radish

Recently, we had a hotpot lunch at a friend's place and two of the ingredients available (amongst many others) were beancurd sticks and beef tripe. It was our first time having these two ingredients in a hotpot and we enjoyed so much that we went to the oriental store to get some for our second round of hotpot at home.

With these two ingredients, I was inspired to cook a chinese style beef stew with radish, commonly found in noodle stores in HK. 




Ingredients
- beef chuck, cut into cubes
- beef tripe (百頁) sliced 
- 2 pcs Beancurd sticks, softened in water and cut into 2in pieces
- radish, cut into thick rounds, about 10pcs
- a few slices of ginger
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp size rock sugar
- 2 tbsp soy bean paste
- 1/4cup Shaoxing wine
- 1 cup beef stock 
- 1/2 cup water
- baby bokchoy to garnish


Directions
1. Par-boil beef chuck in a pot of boiling water to remove scum and blood. Remove from pot and rinse with water. 
2. In a hot pan, add a bit of oil and saute ginger till aromatic then add in beef chuck. Brown all sides and add in all the seasoning. 
3. Make sure liquid is just covering the meat. Let it come to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 45 mins. 
4. Add in radish and simmer for another 30mins. Lastly, add in beancurd sticks and beef tripe and cook for 10mins. Beef chuck should be very tender by now. Turn off the fire and leave pot covered for 1 hour so that the beancurd sticks and tripe can absorb the aromatic gravy. Serve with rice and baby bokchoy on the sides. 




Saturday, July 21, 2012

Joey


Joey is a Yorkshire terrier and he belongs to our Pastor and his family. Knowing that we are dog lovers, our Pastor asked if we are able to take care of Joey while he and his family go on a short holiday. We jumped at the opportunity as we have met Joey before and knows that he is very cute.

Joey has been at our home since Thursday. He will be staying with us for about a week. Here are some photos showing how he has been enjoying his doggy vacation!

Hi! I'm Joey.. you can call me JoJo


It's nice to just laze around ... i love holidays!

Here's a short video showing Joey playing with us last night. The funny thing was that he was sleeping the whole day and only started becoming active at 10pm! Joey is a late night owl it seems.

video

Friday, July 20, 2012

Japanese Chiffon Cheesecake

I am really enjoying my new found interest in baking following my macaron making experience.

Recently,  I tried a recipe I found online for Japanese Cheesecake. I usually do not like cheesecake as I find it too dense and rich. However, Japanese cheesecake is very light as the amount of cream cheese used is significantly lesser. I can easily have two slices at one go without feeling sick. I've made it three times and it turned out successful everytime - no cracked surface and very fine texture.

Japanese Chiffon Cheesecake


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Macarons

Over the last few days, I have been experimenting with making macarons. I've only ate them once or twice and like how they come in various colors.

From what I read about macarons online, these French cookies are not easy to make. However, once the technique is mastered, it is actually very easy. The most difficult part is getting the right consistency of the macaronage. I agree as my first couple of attempts yielded unsuccessful results.


This was the first batch that I made. Piping all looks good but once it entered the oven, the crust cracked and were not smooth. The crust were hollow underneath too and it was very chewy. There are several macaron troubleshooting guide online, however, they made me more confused over what went wrong. Just have to try again and again. 

I made another batch soon after. This time I used a pink liquid food coloring that I bought. Looks nice when piped but the crust browned very quickly, leaving a dark edge rim around the macaron. 


Not wanting to give up, I tried a few more times, baking small batches each time and trying different methods and temperature. Finally, I think I got it right especially the consistency of the macaronage and the oven temperature. I found that the position of the racks plays an important role too. Every oven is different so one will need to find out the ideal temperature and rack position for the recipe. 

Foot is forming on each macaron. Shell is smooth and shiny!

Finally successful - Almond buttercream macaron :)



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Weather

Possibly the record highest temperature in Central Indiana since the 1930s!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Spaghetti Carbonara

I enjoy cooking spaghetti carbonara especially on days when I am feel lazy and do not want to spend too much time prepping ingredients and washing pots and pans.


Besides, this dish utilizes a few simple ingredients that is often available at home. 

Ingredients (serves 2)

Spaghetti (amount for 2)
2 whole eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup of grated cheese (I used Parmigiano Reggiano)
black pepper (amount to taste)
1 tbsp cream
Prosciutto (sliced in rough pieces. If using bacon, slice into small pieces and pan fry before adding in step 4.)
Peas, optional (I like to add peas to bring some color to the otherwise pale dish)

Directions

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Salt it and put in the spaghetti. Cook until al-dente (about 8-10 mins on high heat)
2. While spaghetti is cooking, mix eggs, cheese, black pepper and cream in a bowl. 
3. Strain spaghetti when done. Promptly return it to the pot. Quickly stir in the egg mixture and combine well with spaghetti. The heat from the spaghetti will cook the egg mixture.
4. Add in prosciutto / bacon and lastly peas (heated up in a bowl of water for 30 seconds in the microwave). 

Serve with extra sprinkling of cheese and black pepper. Enjoy!



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