Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Handcrafted with love!
Aren't these Christmas cookies so beautiful? And they are sooo easy to make too! :)

Have been really busy this week (and we are only at the start) shopping for Christmas. Also, a friend from out of town will be visiting me this week so gotta prep some stuff too. I don't know about you, but November seemed to have whizzed past me in a blur. How did time pass so fast? But I love it! All these is keeping my adrenaline pumping...

So yes, as I was saying, what is Christmas without some sugar cookies! I'm not sure if you noticed, but the edges of my cookie hearts are not slick. Why is that so? Because I didn't use a cookie cutter. I couldn't find a heart-shape cookie cutter (strangely, the stores I went to had stars, christmas trees, aeroplanes, but I think they ran out of hearts!) so I decided to just cut them by hand. I guess I can now say these cookies were "handcrafted" hoho. And like thumbprints, you won't be able to find the exact same heart on my cookie tray because I didn't use a stencil. So yes, they are absolutely unique! ;P

So let's get on with talking about how to make these cookies! First, use your favorite sugar recipe. I used the recipe from my friend Sheralyn (the same one who passed me the delicious bread ring recipe) and they worked superbly. I added nutmeg for mine, and I LOVE how it gives the cookies the extra kick and flavor, making it all spiced, sweet and salty at once. Below is the recipe, and thereafter I'll elaborate on how to decorate it using royal icing.

So good, you can even eat them on their own!
Christmas Sugar Cookies

240g unsalted butter, softened
200g sugar or brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
330g of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg (optional)

Mix and sift the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg into a large bowl.

In a separate large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.

Mix the egg and vanilla into the butter and sugar mixture. You will get quite a wet mixture but it is ok. Add in the sifted flour.

Knead gently and chill the dough for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. You may chill it up to a day.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Gently roll out the dough about 1/4-inch thick and cut them into your desired shapes.

Line your baking tray with wax paper. Place your cut cookies on them. Chill them in the refrigerator again for about 10 to 15 minutes. This will help to harden the dough and allow it to hold its shape better during the baking process.

Bake your cookies for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Royal Icing 1 (for piping the outline of the cookie)

1 large egg white
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
220g of powdered/icing sugar, sifted.

Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until combined. Slowly whisk 1/2 a cup of sugar into the mixture. Do this with the rest of the sugar until you have a thick mixture - you can't have a runny consistency, but it shouldn't be so thick that you can't pipe it properly. If the icing gets too runny, you can add more sugar. If it is too thick, just add a bit of water.

If you don't own a piping bag, no worries, simply put them into a ziplock bag (or other bags that can give you a nice pointed edge) and snip the tip off. Be very careful, snip the hole as small as you can and adjust from there.

Royal Icing 2 (for flooding - which means to fill out the whole cookie)

2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
330g of powdered/icing sugar, sifted.

Follow the same steps as the above. To add color to your icing, just add your favorite food coloring.

Important note: Royal icing dries out very quickly, so always cover your bowl of icing with a cling film when not in use. Also, place the tip of your piping bag on a piece of moist tissue while interchanging colors/bags to prevent crusting.

Make sure your cookies are completely cooled.

Using royal icing 1, pipe a border around your cookie. This is to help contain the icing later which will be much more runny in consistency. Without this step, your icing might run messily over the edges.

Wait for the icing to completely cool. This may take around half an hour. Always have a cookie that you can test with. If that test cookie dries, you know the rest are probably dried. And you can practice your designs on that test cookie first before attempting on your real cookies!In fact, I usually have at least two test cookies cos i tend to chomp on the first one while decorating hurhur.

Then, use a teaspoon to and start flooding your cookie. Try not to over flood it, just have enough icing to coat the surface. A super thick flooding may run over the border resulting in a horrible mess.

Then, while your icing is still wet (you cannot manipulate the design on dried out icing), dot it with another color. I place my red icing in a piping bag and piped the dots!

After that, use a toothpick and gently run it through the circles.

And there you'll have it, beautifully swirled hearts on a cookie.

When you are done, place the cookie on a flat surface. Make sure it is not tilted, because the wet icing will make its way out of your cookie before you know it! The icing will take several hours to dry (sometimes overnight) so check your test cookie before packing them up! :)

Happy holidays everyone! :)
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Super Duper Good Frosting!

Luscious frosting paired with the lovely tulip from the hubby.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday is officially over! Can't believe the crazy sale that was going on. It was the best time for the hubby and I to stock up on winter wear so woohoo!

Anyway, I brought these cupcakes to a thanksgiving party on Thursday and they were a hit! It was my first time making this frosting and I was simply bowled over by it! It was super luscious and buttery, totally love it. And it was so easy to make too! The secret is in the flour. When I first saw this recipe, I was hesitant to try it cos since when do you add flour into your frosting? But then my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give it a shot!

And it was worth it.

Try it, and you'll see what I mean. :)

I used the easy peasy chocolate cupcake recipe that goes super well with this frosting.

Super Duper Good Frosting (from MissyDew)
(frosts 12 regular cupcakes)

5 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)

Bake your favorite chocolate cake and let it cool.

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick, thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools.) It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess left.

(Note: If you don't have an electric mixer, make sure your butter is softened (NOT melted) so that you can cream it easily with a fork. One way to do that is to cut the butter cup into 1 inch by 1 inch cubes and let it soften in room temperature. I took about 20 minutes to half an hour, but this depends on the room temperature).

Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat the living daylights out of it. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.

When done, spread it over your cupcakes and enjoy this heaven of a frosting!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Delicious Pear Tart

Delicious pear tart studded with cloves.
Thanksgiving is coming! Although we don't celebrate it in Singapore, it's fun to be part of the festivities here in America. Just yesterday, my hubby and I drove past this house that had a HUGE inflatable cartoon turkey sitting on their lawn! It was so cute! Love how everyone's all psyched up for this meaningful season.

So yes, this recipe probably comes in handy for Thanksgiving and the one just around the corner (my favorite) Christmas! This tart only took me less than half an hour to make, if you don't count the baking time, which is another reason to give it a try!

I've never made a tart before, but I had some lovely, fresh pears with me and according to the classic Italian cookbook I own (which you would be familiar with if you've been following my blog), this is such a simple recipe that "only an active campaign of sabotage could ruin it". And that's my cue, to attempt my first tart with an easy recipe. The result? I passed them to my hubby's friends who wolfed them down happily. Not a single slice was left! :)

The best pears to use for this recipe are the Bosc or the Anjou variety. But if you are not picky, or are in the mood for experimenting, feel free to substitute with other pears.

A Farm Wife's Fresh Pear Tart (from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan)

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 pounds of fresh pears
A 9-inch round cake pan
Butter for greasing the pan and dotting the cake
1/2 cup dry, unflavored bread crumbs
Optional: 1 dozen cloves

1. Preheat oven to 375F

2. Beat the eggs and milk together in a bowl. Add the sugar and a tiny pinch salt, and continue to beat. Add the flour, mixing it in thoroughly to produce a compact cake batter.

3. Peel the pears, cut them lengthwise in two, scoop out the seeds and core, then cut them into thin slices about 1 inch wide. Add them to the batter in the bowl, distributing them evenly.

4. Smear the pan generously with butter, sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs, then turn the pan over and give it a sharp rap against the counter to shake loose excess crumbs.

5. Put the batter into the pan, leveling it off with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Make numerous small hollows on the top with a fingertip and fill them with little bits of butter. Stud with the optional cloves, distributing them at random, but apart. Place the pan in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the top has become lightly colored.

6. While it is still lukewarm, carefully loosen the tart from the bottom of the pan, lift it with spatulas, and transfer to a platter. It is very nice served while still a little warm, or at room temperature.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Gravlax (Cured Salmon) With Delicious Side Salad

Stained by the beetroot to a lovely fuchsia hue.
I have been rather obsessed with curing salmon lately. Ever since I knew how to do it, I've been buying truckloads of fresh salmon to cure at home. I still cannot wrap my head around the simplicity of the whole process!

It is wonderfully easy, really. I'm going to share two different ways to cure your salmon today. The picture above is a recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver, which is rather elaborated with lots of condiments to cure the salmon with. You can watch the video here:

The second one (picture below) is the much simpler, standard version. It is also saltier than the above recipe.

Salmon cured in one of its simplest forms.
I've paired the salmon with a salad that I've been simply addicted to. My hubby and I have been chomping on those leaves for the past few days, and I still can't get enough of it!! The secret is in the dressing, that is both tangy and sweet at the same time. Love it!!

So yes, try curing your own salmon at home today! It's fun and it definitely beats store-bought ones!

Gravlax (simple version)
(serves 4)

1 pound of fresh salmon, with skin on
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
zest of one lemon
Optional: 2 handfuls of dill, chopped finely

After washing the salmon, pat it dry and coat it with salt and brown sugar. Top it off with the lemon zest and dill. Place the salmon in a ziplock bag and refrigerate it for 24 hours to 48 hours (I actually like it better after just one day, as opposed to 48 hours because the salmon is less cured, but that's me, heh). Weigh some heavy items on the whole salmon (ie: big, heavy books or bricks) to aid in the absorption of the condiments.

When the salmon is ready, remove it from the ziplock bag and wash it under running water to remove the salt and sugar. Pat it dry with a paper towel. Then, skin the salmon by sliding your knife across it, between the skin and the flesh. (I love the fatty layer of fish just beneath the skin, so I'd really scrap my skin clean. But that's just me, heh.) Discard the skin.

Slice the salmon into thin strips. Serve with a little squeeze of lemon and a side salad.

Gravlax With The Works!
(serves 6)

Note: I've adapted Jamie Oliver's recipe in terms of the ingredients, but due to the different size of the fish and a little ambiguity in the instructions in his video, I've tweaked the measurements a little for this recipe.

1.5 pound of fresh salmon, with skin on
5 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 beetroot, grated (get those baby beetroots, not the large mature ones, and not the canned ones)
1 heaping tablespoon of horse radish
3 handfuls of dill, chopped finely
1 shot of schnapps (or brandy)
zest of 1 lemon

Wash your salmon and pat it dry. On a large tray, place salmon skin down. Top it off with the salt, brown sugar, beetroot, horse radish, dill. lemon zest and schnapps. Massage the condiments in a little, and then wrap the tray with cling wrap. Put the salmon in the refrigerator for 48 hours, weighed down by heavy items such as books or bricks, etc.

When ready, use a paper towel to brush all the condiments away from the fish. Then, skin the salmon by sliding your knife across it, between the skin and the flesh. Discard the skin. Slice the salmon into thin strips.

To make the cream to go with the gravlax:
Mix 3 tablespoons of sour cream with 2 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, 1 teaspoon of horseradish, a pinch of black pepper and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Delicious Side Salad
(serves 4)

Ingredients for the salad: (actually, you can put anything you one inside, but this is one of my favorite combinations)

3-4 handfuls of mesclun salad
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
12 black olives, each cut into 3 parts
a handful of salted pistachio nuts
1/2 handful of crumbled feta cheese

Ingredients for the dressing
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette (I like Trader Joe's one)
1/2 teaspoon of garlic, chopped finely
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of honey, or to taste
1 pinch of salt and pepper

Mix the ingredients for the salad dressing in a small bowl until combined. Adjust according to taste. Toss the salad with the dressing and then top it off with the crumbled feta cheese.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Broccoli With Olive Oil & Garlic

Looking for a new spin on broccoli? Then try this! It is a simple two-step recipe, requiring you to just boil the broccoli first before sauteing it.The flavor definitely beats just boiling or steaming those veggies with a squeeze of lemon. Do note that if you don't like parsley, you may want to omit it because the end product has quite a distinct parsley taste.

Broccoli with Olive Oil & Garlic

a bunch of fresh broccoli, chopped
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Salt to taste
Optional: a wedge of lemon

Boil chopped broccoli in pot of salted boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until the stem is easily pierced by a fork.

In a skillet (get one that is big enough to fit all the broccoli in comfortably), saute the garlic with the olive oil over medium heat. When the garlic turns light brown, add in the broccoli, a tiny pinch of salt and parsley. Coat the vegetables evenly for 2 minutes and then serve with a wedge of lemon.
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Update: New twitter account!

I've moved! My twitter account, that is.

For those who have been following @thehappyglut twitter account, I'd like to let you know that I've moved to @JinnyKohHong so do make the switch. Just reclick the twitter icon on my right sidebar cos i've updated the link.

See you there! :)

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cabbage Soup With Meatballs & Wolfberries

This is what I call yummy goodness!
If you've never made Chinese soup before, this recipe is a great way to start. It is easy, doesn't require double-boiling and is full of flavor. Cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables because not only is it packed with fiber and antioxidants, it is also pretty versatile! You can make slaw with it, fry it, steam it, boil it, etc. I especially enjoy cooked cabbage because the heat brings out its natural sweetness. Paired with wolfberries, this becomes one big, nutritious slurp! :D

My mother used to make this soup for me all the time, but I've tweaked it a bit, especially for the minced meat part, to make it tastier. Personally, I just can't get enough of the meatballs! Heh

Cabbage Soup With Meatballs & Wolfberries
(serves 4)

Bones of 3 chicken drumlets (or the equivalent weight of other chicken bones)
Half a head of cabbage, chopped
1 pound of minced pork
1 tablespoon of dried wolfberries
2 tablespoons of light soya sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons of shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
white pepper

In a bowl, combine the light soya sauce, shaoxing wine, sesame oil, a generous amount of white pepper with the minced pork. Mix well.

Put a cling wrap over the bowl and refrigerate the minced pork.

In a large dutch oven/casserole, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and put the chicken bones in. Remove any scum that floats to the surface of the pot. Boil for 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low-medium heat. Add the cabbage and chicken stock then simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove the minced pork from the refrigerator. I like to stand beside the stove, form the meatballs and drop them straight into the dutch oven/casserole instead of making all the meatballs at one go on a plate. Using a tablespoon with your right hand, scoop out 3/4 of a tablespoon of minced meat and put it into the middle of your left palm. To form the round, spherical meatball shape, simply rotate your left fingers in a circular motion. If you are left-handed, swop it the other way around.

Once done, drop the meatball into the soup. Do this for the rest of the minced meat. Be careful to give ample space between each meatball. Use your ladle to move the cabbage around to create space. When done, check if the water level is just above the cabbage and meatballs. If not, add a bit more water until just covered.

Simmer the soup for another hour to an hour and a half. 10 minutes before you off the stove, add in the wolfberries. Serve hot. Best Blogger Tips

Monday, November 14, 2011

How To Use A Pomegranate

It is hard to ignore this exotic fruit with its lovely crimson exterior that resembles a cross between a peach and an apple. I love how the blood-red kernels adorn the interior of the fruit, like a display of precious rubies hidden in a cave. And these bright "rubies" are not just pretty, they are packed with a hefty dose of vitamins and antioxidents!

But enough of hearing me wax lyrical about one of my favorite fruits. If you are like me in the past, not too sure how to open or use it, let the mystery be solved today!

If you are choosing a pomegranate at a farmer's market or supermarket, try to find one that is deep red in colour and feels relatively heavy . It should also have a shiny exterior, as if it has been waxed, and a soft (not mushy) skin. Avoid picking pomegranates that has cracks on its skin cos they tend to spoil quickly.

Now that we've got that settled, there are two popular ways of eating it raw: by picking the seeds or extracting its juice. If you are wearing your favorite white shirt, I'd suggest you to protect it with a napkin or apron, or better yet, wear something else altogether cos this vibrant fruit has a knack for shooting off red juice that might stain your beloved shirt.

To open the fruit, simply cut the fruit into quarters using a knife and pick the seeds out with your fingers. You just need to be careful about the juice that may spray out when you accidentally burst the kernels. But hey, just like eating mangosteen, half the fun is the mess of prying open the fruit for some finger-licking goodness! :) Just don't go overboard and end up looking like you just butchered a small rabbit.

Alternatively, you can also separate the seeds from the skin by pulling it at the side (like how you would pull apart an orange from its skin).

To extract its juice, simply blend the pomegranate seeds in a blender and strain its juice through a cheese cloth or muslin.

One of my other favorite way of using pomegranate is as a salad dressing or a glaze over meats. Below is a simple recipe to make your own pomegranate molasses.

Pomegranate Molasses

4 cups of pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (or to taste)

Simmer your pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice over medium heat on a large saucepan for about an hour, or until the mixture becomes a thick syrup. Dissolve more sugar into it if you want the syrup to be sweeter. When done, cool the pomegranate molasses before storing it in the refrigerator. Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fluffy Pancakes With Butter & Maple Syrup

oh pancakes, how you make my mornings shine.
Don't you just love pancakes in the morning?

I know I do.

Pancakes have now taken on so many different forms, from sweet to savoury, from banana to smoke salmon toppings, that it is almost impossible to decide which is my favorite! Gone are the days where the only pancakes we knew as little kids were those plain, simple flapjacks.

So today, I've decided to make just that. Those good old hotcakes with just some butter and maple syrup. To savor the beauty of it without the frills. It also helped that I wanted to complement them with the Canadian maple syrup that my dear friend recently gave me heh.

This easy recipe only takes 10 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook. I love how it requires only a few basic ingredients and the pancakes turned out nice and fluffy with a buttery, eggy taste to it. Delicious, I say! Just a note, this recipe doesn't call for buttermilk. Also, I had to grease my skillet several times between pancakes cos the pancakes tend to absorb the oil quickly.

So, gather your family/friends for a treat and some fun flipping pancakes in the air (figuratively, unless of course, you are an expert with your spatula and pan!) and have your pancakes the conventional way or jazz them up with some fresh fruits and jam!

Fluffy Pancakes With Butter & Maple Syrup (From Every Day with Rachael Ray)
Makes 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups of flour
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cups of milk
1 egg, separated
3 tablespoons of butter, melted, plus more (unmelted) for serving
Maple syrup, for serving

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks and melted butter. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until just combined.

2. Preheat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold the whites into the batter.

3. Grease the griddle and ladle on 1/4 cup portions of batter. Cook on 1 side until bubbles form and the pancakes are cooked around the edges, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook through, 1 minute more. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Bacon & Egg Bread Ring

Imperfect, but I love my beloved first bread ring :)

You might not believe it when I tell you that i've been wanting to make a bread ring since 2007.

Yes, 2007.

Back then, I chanced upon a picture of a bread ring baked by my friend, Sheralyn (who btw, is a talented writer and awesome baker!). I was super intrigued by it and asked her for the recipe. Alas! I didn't have the time to make it and days turned to weeks, weeks turned months, months turned to years and before I knew it, I lost the recipe. :(

However, recently, I've been thinking about that beloved bread ring again and decided to shamelessly ask Sheralyn for the recipe once more. She generously passed it to me along with some others which I can't wait to try. Hooray! Bread ring problems solved!

So with the recipe printed and stuck onto my refrigerator, I set out on this long awaited task. I must say I loved the recipe, simply because it was easy! I didn't need to separately rise the yeast or wait hours for the dough to rise. My only mistake was, in my haste, rolling the dough a little unevenly so it cracked open at one side while baking (a little peek-a-boo!). To avoid the same mishap as me, make sure to roll your dough evenly and wide enough to incorporate all your ingredients so that when you roll the bread up, they will not burst open!

My first bread ring was imperfect in its shape, but I loved the flavor, my hubby gobbled it up and we were one happy couple. :)

Egg & Bacon Ring

500g flour, sifted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
11g of instant yeast
250g water (about one glass)

Create well in flour, sugar and salt mix.

Place yeast in the well, add water and mix.

Knead dough till smooth.

Rest the dough for 30 minutes (or more, up to two hours). *I rested mine for slightly over an hour.

Roll out dough into oblong and top it with:
-bacon or ham
-hard boiled eggs (about 5 to 6 eggs, halved)
-cubed mozzarella
-parmesan cheese *I used about two handfuls of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and left some for sprinkling on the top of the bread ring
-sundried tomato or cherry tomatoes

Wrap dough around the filling. Form a ring.

Top the dough with a generous amount of olive oil and some rosemary (leaves picked) (as mentioned, I topped mine with some parmesan cheese too.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius (392 F) and put the bread ring in for a second rise while waiting for the oven to get heated.

Once the oven has been pre-heated, bake it for 30 minutes. Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Perfect Yorkshire Pudding With Beef Roast

My perfect little yorkies!
I've been itching to make a batch of yorkshire puddings since a week ago. The only other time I've tried a yorkshire pudding was at lawry's with my mom and sis, which had left an indelible impression on me. So, with my new muffin tins, I decided to make a batch at home!

But of course, these yorkies are meant to go with some nice gravy, so I took out my trusty italian cookbook and picked a beef roast recipe.

At first glance, the beef recipe looked easy enough, but that was because my eyes glazed over the words "larding needle" So when I actually got my hands down to doing it, I realised I had to lard the beef! To be honest, I didn't quite know how to do that so I had to google it. As I didn't have a larding needle, I used my good old chinese chopsticks as suggested by Marcella, but still, it was quite a feat! After fighting larding my beef, I felt pretty accomplished!! :D

Beef that was so tender, with fat and juices running over.
But still, the star of the day had to be those yorkies. It was so fluffy with the perfect hollow in the centre to lap up all the onions and gravy. Mmm... I was glad I made it cos it was hubby's first yorkie and he really enjoyed it! Loved the hint of milk in the pudding. Yorkies FTW!

Perfect hollow in the center.
I saved one yorkie for my friend who doesn't eat beef, and plonked a tablespoon of strawberry jam in the middle. Delicious! Yorkies can also be eaten as desserts by topping them with some compote or ice-cream. Lovely! Will definitely make these yorkshire puddings again, probably the next time with a thicker gravy (this onion sauce runs a little thin).

Yorshire Pudding (from Simple Bites)
Yields: 12
  • 7/8 cups of flour (250 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2-3 Tablespoons butter or lard (for pan)
TIP: Have all ingredients at room temperature.
  1. Sift salt and flour together into a bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, into which pour the milk and water. Beat thoroughly with a whisk.
  2. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, beat the eggs until frothy and add to the batter. Beat the better well.
  3. Cover batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F and generously butter a 12- cup muffin tin.
  5. Remove Yorkshire pudding batter from fridge and beat until small bubbles rise to the surface.
  6. Place the buttered muffin tin into the oven until butter is sizzling and slightly browned (about a minute and a half). Remove pan from oven and quickly pour batter into muffin cups, distributing the batter evenly between the 12 cups.
  7. Return to oven as speedily as possible and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. You may need to raise the pan to the top shelf of the oven to get a nice browning on the tops.
  8. Remove from oven, and with a fork, pop Yorkshire pudding into a waiting napkin-lined basket. Serve immediately.
Beef Roast Braised With Onions (From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
What is remarkable about this roast is that it is braised with only the juices that flow from the onions on which the meat rests. Eventually, the juices vanish, the mean becomes tenderly impregnated with sweet onion flavor, and the onions themselves turn deliciously brown.

The only fat used is the pancetta with which the beef is larded. If you don't have a larding needle, push strips of pancetta into the meat using a chopstick of the traditional hard Chinese rather than the soft, breakable Japanese kind, or the other blunt, narrow stick, or similar object. Pierce the meat following the direction of its grain.

For 4 to 6 servings

1/4 pound pancetta or salt pork in a single piece
2 pounds boneless beef roast, preferably the brisket
5 cloves
4 medium onions sliced very, very thin
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Cut the pancetta or salt pork into narrow strips about 1/4 inch wide. Use hald the strips to lard the meat with a larding needle, or by an alternative method as suggested in the introductory remarks above.

3. Insert the cloves at random into any 5 of the places where the pancetta was inserted.

4. Choose a heavy-bottomed pot just large enough to accomodate the roast snugly. Spread the sliced onion on the bottom of the pot, over it distribute the remaining strips of pancetta or salt pork, then put in the meat. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and cover tightly. If the lid does not provide a tight fit, place a sheet of aluminium foil between it and the pot. Put on the uppermost rack of the preheated oven.

5. Cook for about 3 1/2 hours, until the meat feels very tender when proded with a fork. Turn the roast after the first 30 minutes, and every 30 to 40 minutes thereafter. You will find that the color of the meat is dull and unlovely at first, but as it finishes cooking and the onions become colored a dark brown it develops a rich, dark, patina.

6. When done, slice the meat and arrange the slices on a warm platter. Pour the contents of the pan and the juices left on the cutting board over the meat, and serve at once.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Buffalo Mozzarella & Basil Sandwich

When I was in Germany, one of my favourite sandwiches to get is a buffalo mozzarella sandwich. I see it being sold everywhere, from train stations to little bakeries in shopping malls. I love the light, milky taste of the cheese, combined with the juicy tomato and the slight, peppery and sweet taste of the basil. Coursely ground black pepper is key to making this sandwich perfect, so make sure you have some on hand!

To make this sandwich, just butter two slices of bread lightly. I like wholemeal bread! Then, layer fresh, sweet basil and slices of heirloom tomatoes followed by the buffalo mozzarella. And there you have it, a healthy and yummy sandwich for lunch! :D Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Homemade Chirashi Don

One of the good things about making your own bowl of chirashi don (mixed sashimi ricebowl) is that you can put anything you want on it, how ever much you desire. If you have a soft spot for hotate (scallop), load it up! If your favorite sashimi is ika (squid), put it down. As you can see, ikura (salmon roe) is my favorite and I've generously topped it, along with those creamy sake (salmon). What is not obvious in this picture is that I've lined a layer of shredded seaweed on top of the rice, making it sort of like unrolled sushi.

Making my own chirashi don is not only more economical than having it in a restaurant, it is a very fuss-free affair. Besides making the sushi rice, you just need to chop the rest of the ingredients up. You don't even need to cook them (unless you want to make your own tamago (egg), which I want to try someday!).

Sushi Rice(serves 2)

1 cup medium grain rice (I use Calrose)
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of mirin/sweet cooking rice wine/sushi seasoning - adjust to taste. I like mine with slightly more mirin.

Wash the rice until the water runs clear. This is to remove all the starchy coating on the rice.

Cook the rice in the rice cooker according to package directions. Mine didn't come with any, so I cooked it as how I normally would with jasmine rice.

Then, spread the rice out on a large bowl or a hangiri (a wide wooden tub) like how it is traditionally done by the Japanese. Stir in your mirin. Make sure to coat the rice evenly and to use the folding method, so as not to smash the cooked rice.

Then, wait for the rice to cool to room temperature.

When done, place a bed of shredded seaweed on top of the rice, followed by your favorite toppings. Itadakimasu! Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chocolate cupcake with caramel frosting topped with chopped chocolates

Haven't updated for a few days cos I've been out and about, getting some new furniture and new kitchen utensils (yays!). This is my first attempt at cupcakes, and I am really happy with the results. If I can do it as a first timer, so can u! :)

I adapted from two different recipes, cos I wanted a chocolate cupcake (whose recipe had buttercream frosting), and I couldn't resist the caramel frosting from another recipe. I was really in a dilemma deciding between buttercream and that, but I wanted a very stiff frosting, like icing, so I went with this. LOVED IT. I loved how the icing gives a cooling sensation when it hits your tongue. I baked a batch of 12 for my friends and they enjoyed every last bite so yays! :)

Just to note, what is not found in the recipes is the extra chocolate topped on the frosting. I just chopped some of my favorite chocolate bars up (fun sized ones!), which in this case were snickers, nestle crunch and reese's. I halved the nestle crunch, quartered the reese's and chopped the snickers up into bits. who doesn't like a nice "cherry" on top!

Another alternative, which I wanna try next time, is dusting some sea salt in the caramel. LOVE the combi of sea salt and caramel! :)

You can smell the cocoa even before baking.
love watching these cute cupcakes rise
Time to start piping!
 Tip: I just used a regular zip-lock bag, snipped a little hole at the corner and piped from there! Be sure to cut a really small hole, and adjust from there, cos, u know, u can't really do it the other way around heh.
All piped up! But something's missing!
Candy! YUMS.
Chocolate Cupcake (from For the Love of Cooking)
(makes 12 regular sized cupcakes)

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.

Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

Add the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla then beat together with a mixer until combined.

Scrape the sides of the bowl then add the boiling water and mix until just combined. The batter will be very watery so don't be alarmed. Pour the batter into a measuring cup (it's so much easier and cleaner than using a spoon) and pour evenly into each liner. Place into the oven and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely before frosting.

Caramel Frosting (adapted from Sugar Duchess)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (1/2 lb) powdered sugar

Melt the butter in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the salt and brown sugar and heat the mixture to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, until the sugar is totally dissolved. Stir in the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to lukewarm (30-40 minutes) stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the powdered sugar. Adjust consistency with a little more milk, if necessary. You know you have the right consistency when it is not too difficult to pipe the frosting out, neither is it so watery it is dripping all over the place. From my experience, even though I like mine to be a little stiffer, I had to add about 1 to 2 more tablespoons of milk after adding all the powdered sugar. But do adjust accordingly!

Wait until the cupcakes are completely cool to frost them. Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roast Chicken With Lemon & Rosemary Roast Potatoes

November's here! Where did all the time go?

It's the month of Thanksgiving, and I thought, instead of sharing a turkey recipe, I am going to share a roast chicken recipe. I think a chicken is the perfect bird for a small family, like my husband and me! I love this recipe because it is relatively straightforward, and the end result is one tasty, juicy chicken. I had at least 1/2 inch of juices in my tray, perfect to slurp it up with the potatoes! The lemon helps to tendorize the chicken, but the good thing is it doesn't leave a strong lemony after taste. For those who doesn't like lemony chicken, like my hubby, that should be good news for you.

Just a note, I didn't have fresh thyme with me, so I substituted it for oregano. I also added butternut squash to the recipe because I love its slight nutty flavour, and it pairs well with the juices. J follow the same steps with the squash as with the potatoes. Finally, there is a part of the recipe that asks you to toss your potatoes in a pan after boiling them. I tried skipping that step, as well as sauteing the potatoes with a little olive oil after boiling, and the difference is pretty great. The potatoes were definitey tastier and a little more crisp when sauted before popping them into the oven.

So, are you ready? Then pick up your spring chicken and let's start cooking!

Roast Chicken With Lemon And Rosemary Roast Potatoes (from Jamie's Dinners)

4 1/2 pounds free-range organic chicken
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled (note: I used one large potato, and 1/2 small butternut squash)
1 large, preferably unwaxed, lemon
1 whole bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
a handful of fresh thyme (note: I used oregano)
olive oil
a handful of fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
optional: 8 slices bacon

Rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Do this in the morning if possible, then cover the chicken and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking it for lunch or dinner. By doing this, you’ll make the meat really tasty when cooked.Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cut the potatoes into golf-ball-sized pieces, put them into the water with the whole lemon and the garlic cloves, and cook for 12 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for 1 minute (this will give you crispier potatoes), then remove the lemon and garlic. Toss the potatoes in the pan while still hot so their outsidesget chuffed up and fluffy – this will make them lovely and crispy when they roast.

While the lemon is still hot, carefully stab it about 10 times. Take the chicken out of the fridge, pat it with paper towels and rub it all over with olive oil. Push the garlic cloves, the whole lemon and the thyme into the cavity, then put the chicken into a roasting pan and cook in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Some lovely fat should have cooked outof it into the roasting tray, so toss the potatoes into this with the rosemary leaves. Shake the tray around, then make a gap in the center of the potatoes and put the chicken back in. If using the bacon, lay the slices over the chicken breast and cook for a further 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are nice and golden. (You can tell the chicken is cooked when thethigh meat pulls easily away from the bone and the juices run clear.)

I like to remove the bacon from the chicken and crumble it up over the potatoes. Then I remove the lemon and garlic from inside the chicken, squeeze all the garlic flesh out of the skin, mush it up and smear it all over the chicken, discard the lemon and rosemary and carve the chicken at the table. Heaven! Best Blogger Tips