Saturday, April 24, 2010

Anzac Day: Aussie Pavlova

Posted by Quinn at Saturday, April 24, 2010 17 comments Links to this post

Pavlova is native to Australasian, mainly Australians and New Zealanders. Named after a Russian ballerina, a properly done pavlova has a crisp crust when tapped with the back of a spoon around it. When sliced, you can hear the heavenly sound of crackling crust followed by a soft, pillowy feeling when you slice through the middle. It is baked at low temperature and allowed to cool in the oven until it is ready to be served. A little crack on the surface is normal and it will all soon be covered with cream so it is absolutely normal to get cracks. Usually served with generous amount of chantilly cream and loads of summer fruit, it is no surprise nor wonder why Pavlova remains Aussie's favourite till today. Those sold outside are generally too sweet for my liking. When I make it at home, I cut down the sugar a bit and add a pinch of salt to take away the sweetness as I personally don't favour fruits that are too tart to minus back the sweetness of the Pavlova.

MasterChef new season is back and in conjunction with Anzac Day today, I couldn't resist making Donna Hay's Pavlova to commemorate and respect Anzac Day. Some other typical Aussie food include lamington, meat pies, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, Tim Tam and so forth. I've kept this simple by decorating it with seasonal fruits. I've flavoured the chantilly cream with vanilla bean and a good splash of Vanilla Vodka as well. Chantilly cream is basically whipped cream with small amount of sugar in it. The low baking temperature puffs up the Pavlova while the long cooking time dries it out to give it a crispy shell. If you rush it and bake it at a temperature too high, sugar will separate and ooze out like sap. It won't work. Pavlova can be stored, plain by itself for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Try it and you will be hooked. We absolutely love it. We ate it and have our mouth gawked open for more and more of these just like the baby below. We never seem to get enough, it's simply irresistable! I think if baby is old enough to eat, he will have a sweet tooth too! (Note: It's not my baby, read this)

Donna Hay has certainly create a name for herself. Her pavlova recipe can be obtained on her website or through MasterChef page.

Happy Anzac Day and have fun during the weekend!

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to coddle egg

Posted by Quinn at Sunday, April 18, 2010 11 comments Links to this post

As you are reading this, I'm back from Perth and am busy with my graduation ceremony which is tomorrow. My parents are here in Down Under with me and we'll have some great fun. If you're wondering about the interview, no I didn't get the field engineer job. Was pretty unhappy actually but I'm happy too. Did I mention Aaron was shortlisted for the same company and he got the job. Rosalind, if you're wondering which company, it's Baker Hughes. I'm still happy for myself since I was one of the 20 candidates screened from hundreds of applications. And I have a handful of other interviews (Santos, Shell, Mars Australia etc.) waiting for me telling me I've been shortlisted and some haven't get back to me yet since the application date is still open. Overall, it's really not that bad. I'm not doomed, I must stay positive but really can't deny the fact that I am still a little unhappy. It was a tough 2 days. Intensive, challenging, draining and rewarding practically sums it all up. I guess we'll be relocating to Perth for good very soon since most of our jobs require us to be based in Perth.

I know, I know.....yet another egg post. I told you, I really love my eggs. Gimme salt and pepper, bread and butter and one egg and I can do wonders. This is called coddled egg. I don't have an egg coddler but I've successfully coddled it my way. Coddled egg is basically eggs cooked just below boiling point for a short while so the whites will hold together. The yolk should be slightly thickened and flowy and whites completely set. It is peelable but wobbly.

There, I save you tonnes of scrolling. This is how I do it:

Coddled Egg

Bring a pot of water to boil making sure it is enough to completely submerge an egg completely. When boiling, gently lower in the egg (or eggs) and set your timer to 3 minutes and 30 seconds for a small egg and 4 minutes in my case for an extra large egg. Once time is up, turn off the heat and lift it out with a tea strainer and run it under the cold water tap. Break the shells gently all over on the table. I generally will start breaking my coddled egg from the blunt end of the egg since there is a large air pocket trapped in there. Chances are you will not break it so easily.

You know how when you are involved in accident, say you hit the car in front of you. The front of your car is analogous to the air pocket. It hits the car in front and start absorbing all the energy and when it reaches you (you are analogous to the coddled egg in this case), you experience the least impact possible.

Sorry...ignore me. No one wants to know the engineering of eggs. Just start tapping it from the blunt end, less fragile basically. When you are done tapping it all over, submerge it in the ice water while you start toasting and buttering your bread. When done, peel the eggs. The shells should come off nicely. Warm it back in the pot of water and wipe it with a kitchen towel. Yes, I always wipe my eggs so they don't turn my bread into soggy squares.

Cut in the eggs and let the yolk flow out like magma. Salt and pepper the yolk and smear the yolk evenly on the bread like your usual spread. Briefly cut through the soft whites and smear it around the bread.

That's it, serve. You can also use coddled eggs to top off your Caesar Salad and soups.


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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fried Custard Squares

Posted by Quinn at Tuesday, April 13, 2010 14 comments Links to this post

I'm off in Perth now as you are reading this. I think I deserve a good holiday and as a bonus, I'm going to Perth for a job interview too!!! It's gonna be tough and it's gonna be a two days assessment. I'm happy because everything is going my way now and I've had a couple of interviews before so I'm all ready and prepared. So, basically what you are seeing here, it's me trying to clear off backlogs.

This is adapted from Tessa Kiros. I really like her a lot. This is the sort of thing I ate when I was young but it wasn't called by such fancy name. It's got a lot of flour to bind it together so you're really eating yummilicious cooked flour custard. I like it with cinnamon sugar or just plain sugar. Give it a go, I'm sure kids will love these sorta thing but they only taste yummy when fried hot off the pan. I tried keeping them warm but they somehow will turn soggy. I still made one recipe and eat as it comes out of the pan. It's really utterly amazing....

Fried Custard Squares

(adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros)

3 cups milk
1 long strip of lemon rind, pith removed
1 tsp vanilla extract (I use vanilla bean paste)
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup plus 1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
5.5 tbsp butter
Extra plain flour to coat
Superfine vanilla sugar to serve

Put the milk in a saucepan and add the lemon rind and vanilla. Bring just to a boil. Meanwhile, whip 2 eggs in a bowl until they are creamy, then whisk in the sugar. Add the flour and whisk to a smooth cream. Just as the milk comes to a rolling boil, whisk a ladleful into the eggs. Add another ladleful or two, whisking continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling.

Spoon it all back into the milk pan and put over the lowest heat, whisking all the time. It will thicken quickly so you may have to remove the pan from heat for a minute and whisk vigorously until it is smooth. Put back on the heat for a few minutes to cook the flour, whisking until it is completely smooth and very thick.

Lightly grease a 6.5 inch by 11 inch baking pan and spoon the custard into the pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Let it cool and set completely (I chill mine in the fridge and then the freezer. I like working with it when it's firm). Turn it out on a large plate and cut into 2 inch squares.

Break the last egg into a small flat plate and scatter some flour on another plate. Melt 2 to 3 tbsp butter in a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Working in batches, dip squares of custard in the egg and then the flour to coat it lightly. Dust off excess and shallow fry the squares in the butter until golden on both sides, turning them gently. Add blobs of butter along the way to prevent burning.

Lift the squares out onto paper towels to drain. Serve warm, sprinkled with some vanilla sugar.

Makes 15 (heck, I say way more than that!)

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Vanilla Vodka Jellies with Chantilly Cream

Posted by Quinn at Thursday, April 08, 2010 9 comments Links to this post

Vanilla is a favourite spice, lending itself to elegant treats. From silken panna cotta to plain poached fruit, vanilla just adds a delicate touch to desserts Here, it is used to flavour a delightfully wobbly jellies. All parts vodka and all parts vanilla, this jelly will make you tipsy like an angel.

It's just after Easter and it's all been about the food for me. We had so many rounds of chocolatey desserts, so many chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs, parties after parties, potlucks after potlucks and many rounds of drinking games; it's all been about the food throughout the long weekend for me. I figured something not chocolatey would be good but I wanted something purely for adult and it's gotta be light too since we have this as an after heavy meal dessert. This is adapted from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 48 in her special Christmas Edition. I like this a lot and I figured you might too if you like Vodka like me. Yes, I admit. I could be a heavy drinker sometimes, but not alcoholics addict.

Vanilla & Vodka Jellies
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup vanilla castor sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp powdered gelatine
1/3 cup Absolut Vanilla Vodka
1/4 cup pure cranberry juice
12 strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced

Place the gelatine powder in a small bowl with 1 tbsp cold water and let it sit to soak up the water. Place the vanilla (including the pod as well), sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring it to boil over high heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes until slightly syrupy. Add the gelatine paste to the mixture and stir to dissolve. Cool completely and stir in the vodka and cranberry juice. Arrange the sliced berries in the base of 4 champagne glasses (1 cup capacity) and carefully pour over the jellies until just covering the berries.Rerigerate for 4 hours until set.

Chantilly Cream
1/2 cup double cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tbsp icing sugar, passed through a tea strainer
1 tbsp Absolut Vanilla Vodka

Reserve the pod to make vanilla sugar. Place everything else into a chilled bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Dollop over jellies and serve.


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Friday, April 2, 2010

Chocolate Lava Cake for Easter!

Posted by Quinn at Friday, April 02, 2010 16 comments Links to this post

I feel like having comfort food for Easter! And these chocolate lava cake fits the bill. I have to say this and I'm not exaggerating, these are life changing lava cakes. I will not look at lava cakes the same way anymore.

When I say comfort food, I really meant to have it served right in their mould. You really don't have to invert it onto a plate if you don't want to, though it does look way more gorgeous that way. But this is really what I eat. I do like photographing food but not to the extend where I sacrifice my comfort food for photo. For me, comfort food is something you can dig in with a spoon and it comes in a bowl or something that must surround it. I like digging in stuffs. Gives me security rather than having it inverted out. I know, I have issues.

The inverted lava cake photos were made sometime back, when I was all in the mood to dress up and look beautiful. And when I need to serve it to my guests. But to celebrate Easter dinner with my housemates, I serve it the comfort food way!

And did I mention I think that cake looks gorgeous? Unlike other cakes that's drenched with icing sugar and ice cream to make photos look good, mine is simply dusted with real good cacao and still heavenly and not cloyingly sweet even when eating it with unsweetened whipped cream. I like it, the photos are a good reflection of what I really eat, albeit a little colder! Dig in when it's warm.

Lava Cakes are a good mistake. A chef once underbaked a chocolate cake once and needed to serve it up to the king immediately. He presented them as molten lava cake and king was really impressed. If you have issues with raw eggs and don't like the idea of eating undercooked batter, click here for a lava cake I did previously. This one uses a ganache ball as filling and even if you overbaked them, you still get flowy magma. Just use pasteurized eggs and make these! They are yummy!

These are adapted from Pioneer Woman, and she adapted it from Brandielle from Tasty Kitchen. I half the recipe and yield four little rich lava cakes. My moulds were really small, I use one of the Portuguese egg tart mould. And I measured, it's 5 tbsp (75ml) capacity per each little cup. They are rich so I made them small. Things just taste yummier when they come in small servings. And can I say, use real good chocolates please because the lava will taste just exactly like the chocolates that you use. I use Lindt's, 85% cocoa content. So heavenly!!!!

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
(makes 4 real small cake using 5 tbsp capacity moulds)

Nuke 60g bittersweet chocolates and 55g butter in the microwave on high. I did mine for 45seconds, both butter and chocolates chopped up into pieces. Grab a whisk and whisk the chocolate into submission. It will look as if it will not blend in with the butter at first but soon enough, everything has to give way to chocolates.

Throw in 60g sifted pure icing sugar and whisk to combine. Crack in 1 egg and 1 extra yolk and whisk to combine again. Finally throw in 3 tbsp plain flour and whisk until very well combined. Did I mention I didn't have plain flour so I used self raising flour instead? It doesn't matter, just don't use wholemeal flour and that sorta thing.

Grease your moulds with BUTTER. Don't use vegetable oil, it's Easter and everyone should indulge. Generously grease them if you want to do the fancy serving way. Pour into moulds, trying not to get to the sides of the mould else inverting might be an issue.

Bake them in a preheated oven of 220°C for 13 minutes. Stand them for a minute and eat them up. Serve with large mound of unsweetened whipped cream alongside and more cacao powder if desired.

For the cream, I whipped up 1 cup of double cream with 1 tbsp of vanilla castor sugar until it reaches firm peak. Love the calories. It surprises me sometimes how special cream is. The more you add, the lighter it gets. And the calories in it is just inversely proportional to the lightness.

This is how I like mine. I dollop whipped cream over it and eat it together. Do it because you're worth it. I'd rather go to hell just to eat this devilish little cake everyday! Seriously, these are life-changing. My life can never be the same anymore.

Happy Easter everyone!

And before I sign off, here is an awards that have been given to me by Anncoo of Anncoo's Hobby and Tracie of Bitter Sweet Flavour. Thank you so much for thinking I am worth it, I am so flattered and seriously touched.

And as always, I can be very disappointing sometimes, I do know if you read here, here or here. I think I'll make this a leaf node in the tags spanning across the blogosphere. In a quick 5 mins Google, it looks like most bloggers that I have known and those that I have not already known have already been tagged, and I'm not going to spread the contagion outside the organization further :)

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