Saturday, May 29, 2010

Heaven and Hell Cake

Posted by Quinn at Saturday, May 29, 2010 28 comments Links to this post


In a period of 5 years, you learn a lot about a person, whether you want to or not.That was how in 2005, I came to know so well about a man who I never thought would change my life so drastically. Everything was about to change, for a better one. This man is very much passionate about food, just like me. As much as he tries to enjoy the best quality caviar you serve him or your aged old balsamic vinegar, he still is very much down to simple food. He will still eat it if you insist but he'll tell me later what was served to him, they're not delicious. I like how he say no to food, it's very cute.

Simple things in life are beautiful. It's just like him, it's beautiful cooking for Aaron. It's a breeze....because when he dig in your food, you could tell he really appreciates them and he brings out the Mum's side of me because with him around, I always have a tendency to cook winter food. Warm, hearty, filling food such as beef stew, Pastitsio and Coq Au Vin. Food that takes forever to prepare and forever to cook. But I still do it because for him, it's worth it -and this is coming from a girl who spent one-third of her life in a fast moving city, my oh my...how he changed me and influenced my life....

Having said that, it's Aaron's birthday today and no, I'm not gonna let his birthday cake be a simple one, despite him always telling me 'less is more'. Having said that, it's also my mother's birthday today. Yes, cheapo Aaron earned so much brownie points from mum just by sharing the same birthday, my mum really likes this guy seriously it freaks me out sometimes. As you are reading this post, we have wished and 'kind of celebrated' with my mum. We called home and also 'Skyped' my mum. She's very happy, virtually eating the cake. Did I mention my mother's favourite cake is either Orange Cake or Pandan Cake and period. Anything else, she'll hardly eats it but if my mother is here, I know she would eat this cake simply because I am amazing in her eyes. How I know? I made a vanilla bean ice cream once and accidentally doubled the sugar and my mum hates sweet stuff. She ate the whole scoop and said it was yummy. I absolutely love my mum sometimes. People around me sometimes are also too nice to be mean and gimme frank opinion. It's a love-hate situation.

Aaron likes cakes and chocolates but not the expensive ones you get from award winning restaurants. He likes the typical steamed chocolate cake and please use the cheapest Homebrand cocoa powder if you could because he is allergic to Dutch Pure Cacao, just like how he is allergic to figs, prawns, caviar and so forth simply because they are not delicious. Hot piping bowl of pho and a glass of cold soy milk or chrysanthemum tea, that is my Aaron. He likes a chiffon cake, plain as it is but I would throw ganache or sugar glaze over it and that would drive him mad. The only time he would tolerate frosting is when I make banana cake with a peanut butter and chocolate frosting. Any other times, he would never forgive me.

This is one of the rare occasion where he forgives me. In fact, we both regret why did we chance upon this amazingly good cake rather late. I chose a cake with frosting, or rather ganache to be exact. It's Peanut Butter Mousse sandwiched in between layers of Light Angel Food Cake and Rich Devil's Chocolate Cake. Now you know why this cake is called a Heaven and Hell cake. Because this cake is simply irresistible, heaven at your lips because it's lipsmacking good and hell to your body and pocket. The cake ain't cheap to make. The cake ain't easy to make, that's a dead sure one. Wanna hear the worst one? Calorie count my dear! The cake has 1,0007 calories and 64 grams of fat per slice and that figure has not taken into account the raspberry coulis, the quenelle of raspberry sorbet and fresh raspberries that you serve as garnish along each slice of cake.

This Heaven and Hell cake, a wonderful creation by Stephan Pyles from Dallas is beautiful to look at and beautiful to eat. If you could, slice them into 16 servings rather than 12 because they are oh-my-goodness so rich that I didn't make the raspberry garnishing set to go with it. We downed it with a tall glass of milk. Not we, just me. Aaron doesn't like milk, I love anything with dairy. Aaron loves vegetables and I hate greens! He just loves being the opposite of me. Opposite attracts....

I gave Aaron a few choices of birthday cakes. It was this Heaven and Hell cake, a Tres Leches Cake and a Chocolate Ganache cake. He picked the one with peanut butter in no time! It was good, sinfully good we couldn't finish it, we shared it with housemates and friends to finish it. Thank God I have a mini bar fridge in my room that is now empty and only storing this cake in it because this cake is so huge and it simply takes on smell from your meat or durian too easily.

Also because we're all happy about Aaron's birthday and my Mother's Birthday, I'm submitting this recipe to the Monthly Mingle theme this time around, Special Sweet Treats. I believe nothing beats a slice of this calorie-cum-sugar loaded cake! A special sweet treat for two special and important people in my life!

Below here is the very lengthy recipe for a gigantic 10'' round cake, along with modifications I've made to make it a 'light-and-not-overly-sweet-cake'. Aaron doesn't like overly sweet stuffs and it's his birthday after all! I assemble the cake with all layers frozen. It's so much easier to work with this way, trust me! I've cut down the ganache a bit because I felt there was too much of it.

For the Peanut Butter Mousse, I added in more cream and use less cheese because I wanted a 'lighter-in-texture' filling. I also added gelatine to stabilize the cream so it'll hold its shape better even after chilling overnight in the fridge. I love the chocolate cake but I still change shortening to oil and cut down the sugar because I wanted a really moist cake. It was so moist that it broke in half after I slice it and was trying to transfer it to a plastic wrap to freeze. It wasn't obvious. The ganache did the trick and act as glue for me. I failed my first attempt in making Angel Food Cake and have to redo it again. I don't know why my cake is so yellowy comapred to other Angel Food Cake out there. I had so much leftover yolks I make creme brulee and ice cream with it the following day. Now, we have so many frozen desserts in our freezer compartment. I wasn't too sure about keeping raw egg yolks because they don't work and keep well like egg whites. I make everything the night before except for the Angel Food Cake because I wasn't sure if it'll keep well and there's no more rooms in the fridge and freezer for anything else!

If you have the guts, time to kill or really wanna impress or propose to your partner, do it. I know, you don't have to tell me..... I am an amazing girlfriend/partner and my housemates and friends are so spoilt by me....


Heaven and Hell Cake
(courtesy of Stephan Pyles)

FOR THE GANACHE: Probably the easiest component of the whole cake!

300g dark chocolate (I use Lindt's)
1/2 cup thickened cream

Place the chocolate in a large stainless steel bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a large saucepan and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for 5 minutes to melt the chocolates a bit. Using a whisk, combine the chocolate and cream. Run a rubber spatula down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rest for 4 hours. I chill it in the fridge. Use the ganache to crumb coat and reheat remaining with a dollop of butter for pouring later.


FOR THE ANGEL FOOD CAKE:
Failed the first one and had to make another one!

1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. kosher salt ( I use 1/4 tsp salt instead) 1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla (Omitted)
1 tsp. almond extract (I substituted this with vanilla bean paste)

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line the bottom of a 10" round cake pan with ungreased parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar and flour; set flour mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt with a hand held mixer on low speed until frothy. Increase mixer speed to medium, sprinkle in sugar and vanilla bean paste, and beat until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle half of the confectioners' sugar–flour mixture over egg whites; using a rubber spatula, fold until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 45–50 minutes. Transfer cake to a rack and let cool upside down.

Very gently slice the cake in half. I use a long strong thread and place it around the circumference of the cake where I gently marked with toothpick and scored lightly. I tie both ends together and cross my fingers and tie a knot quickly. Voila, cake split in half and it's still very fluffy after that, it's like sponge!

FOR THE DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE: I trim the cake a little and had leftovers, Baker's treat!

1/2 cup vegetable shortening, plus more for pan (I use canola oil)
1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup coffee
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar (I use 1 1/4 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease two 10" round cake pan with butter and dust with flour to coat; shake out excess flour and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder; set flour mixture aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the coffee and cocoa powder until smooth; set coffee mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs with a handheld mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture and the coffee mixture to the bowl in 3 stages, beating to combine after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, 30–35 minutes; transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

If your oven cannot fit two 10'' pans at once, split the recipe in half and bake twice. If you let any batter with baking soda in it sit longer than 10 mins, you'll get beehive cake. Freeze each layer individually, wrapped tightly in plastic to avoid freezer burn.

FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE: So expensive to make!!!!!

680g cream cheese, room temperature and softened a bit (I use 375g)
1 kg smooth peanut butter, at room temperature (I use 500g)
3 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted (I use 2 cups)
Stabilized whipped cream (see below)

In a very very large bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and icing sugar with a hand held mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold the stabilized whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Weigh the mousse into 3 equal parts and set the mousse in 3 separate bowls. Chill in the refrigerator until needed.

Stabilized whipped cream

1/2 tsp gelatine
1 tbsp cold water

1 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
300ml thickened cream (It's usually the whole tub)

Place the cold water in a shallow bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Bain-marie it over medium low heat until completely dissolved. Whip the remaining ingredients until almost stiff and pour in the gelatine liquid and continue whisking until stiff peak. Keep covered until ready to use. Just gently fold it around with a rubber spatula upon using.

ASSEMBLING THE CAKE: I know, my layering is horrible, you don't have to tell me!

Place 1 layer of the frozen Devil's Chocolate Cake on it and spread 1 bowl of the Peanut Butter Mousse over the top with a butter knife. Top mousse with a layer of the Angel Food Cake and spread with another bowl of Peanut Butter Mousse. Repeat with the last layer of frozen Devil's Chocolate Cake, Peanut Butter Mousse and last layer of Angel Food Cake. Stir ganache until thick and smooth. Spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake with a butter knife. Chill it for 2 hours. Warm up the remaining ganache to pouring consistency and pour over the cake, covering all top and sides evenly, using a spatula to grab some of that glaze back on the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours again before slicing. If you don't have a fridge for the cake itself, try to put the cake in a large airtight container and chill it, though I strongly doubt you'll be able to find any container that can fit a cake 10'' round in diameter and 5.5'' in height!

My final tip is to slice both the cakes in half and flash freeze them on a flat baking tray for 20mins. It helps in ensuring an even and flat cake. I didn't and I just freeze them when they are cooled completely and very soft and fluffy and moist. When I took it out to assemble, I notice my angel food cake was slightly squashed and not flat but I couldn't be bothered anymore at this stage and just frost and assemble them!

SERVES 10 – 12 (I'd say 16!)

I'm exhausted now and I know I will get a good sleep tonight. Unfortunately, no candlenight dinner because Aaron is doing night shift today. The making of Heaven and Hell Cake, it's a very messy and long affair, I did so much cleaning up. Maybe I'm incompetent. Do others feel as restless as me after making this cake? Maybe I was too hard on myself because everything has to be perfect. It's baking for an occasion.

Happy Birthday Aaron. Happy Birthday Mum! Aaron, I know you're in the room next door as I'm typing this but if you're reading this, drop me a comment will you? Also, if you haven't realize, you do know that you're the luckiest bloke still alive on earth right?

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Julie Goodwin's Cream Horn with Mock Cream

Posted by Quinn at Friday, May 21, 2010 13 comments Links to this post


Party! Finger food....this is really good, looks impressive and absolutely easy to make. It's adapted from Our Family Table by Julie Goodwin, Australia's first Masterchef. This is Julie's mum's recipe and it is always a hit with their family.

The mock cream is very much like buttercream, albeit lighter. It is fluffy and firm because of the gelatine and cream of tartar. The cream horn is just basic puff pastry. I've used the best quality one I could find, an all butter puff pastry. It's so flaky and buttery and yummy. The only drawback probably is that you need plenty of cream horn moulds to wrap the pastry around. The recipe makes 32 but I yield 40 and only had 12 moulds. It took me a while to finish baking it in the oven. It doesn't bake long, just a 10-15 minutes and it's out but you gotta cool down the mould quick to be able to work with it again.
You pipe a strip of jam first into the horn and cover it with mock cream. I've used wild blueberry jam, homemade-custard and chocolate ganache so they look more colourful and I get variety. Julie suggest using those cheap strawberry jam that is smooth and has no large chunks of strawberries in it. I refuse to follow because I wanted top quality result. I pulse my jam in the food processor until smooth and place that in a piping bag. I make the mock cream and did the same too.


If you want something to impress, this one is good. Looks impressive but relatively easy to make. You can anytime use chantilly cream to fill instead of mock cream if you run out of time. I like serving mine cold. Only fill when about to serve.


Cream horns
(adapted from Julie Goodwin's Our Family Table, pg 110-112)

Makes 32
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins per batch


Ingredients

4 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg
2/3 cup strawberry jam or any other jam, custard or ganache
1 quantity mock cream (recipe below)
Icing sugar, to dust

  • Preheat the oven to200°C (180°C if using fan-forced oven). Line baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Remove the pastry sheets from the freezer for 5 minutes to thaw before beginning, but don't allow them to become too soft, as they will be difficult to handle. If too soft, sprinkle a little flour on both sides and rub in to prevent sticking to work surface. Cut each pastry sheet into eight strips with a pizza roller.
  • The following is very descriptive on how to wrap the pastry around the mould. I'd say just go by instinct making sure you cover up the tip with pastry else your filling may leak out when filled later: Take a cream horn mould (you don't need to grease the moulds!), holding the open end in your left hand if you are right-handed, or vice versa. Pick up a strip of pastry with your right hand and press it gently onto the pointed end of the horn tin, with the pastry strip hanging down on the side closest to you. Carefully turn the tin away from you as you guide the pastry around it, overlapping the pastry about 5 - 7 millimeter, until you come to the end of the strip. Don't take the pastry too close to the open end of the horn mould, as it will puff over the edge while cooking, making it difficult to remove.
  • Place the pastry-covered moulds on the baking trays, leaving plenty of space between them. Make sure the end of the pastry is underneath (if not, it will look like the ganache-filled cream horn you see in the pictures!), so the horn will hold its shape. Lightly beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush it over the pasty to glaze. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until rich golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then carefully slide the cases off the moulds by a gentle twisting motion. Cool the horns on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining pastry.
  • Fill a piping bag with jam and snip off a small hole. Pipe the jam into the bottom of each horn and a stripe up the inside. Next, use a new piping bag filled with mock cream (see below for recipe) and snip a larger hole. Fill the horns with the mock cream. Arrange the horns on a serving platter and lightly sift icing sugar over them to decorate.

Mock cream

Makes approximately 1 cup
Prep time: 10 minutes
No cooking time

Ingredients

250g unsalted butter, cubed
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence (I use vanilla bean paste)
2 tsp gelatine powder, sprinkled over 1/2 cup of cold water and let swell until paste-like
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Method

  • Combine the butter and sugar in an electric mixer. Beat on slow speed until combined, then increase speed to high and beat until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and continue to beat on high until the sugar has dissolved.You can test by rubbing some mixture between your fingers to feel if the sugar has completely dissolved. The mixture shouldn't look grainy.
  • When the gelatine has softened, stand the gelatine bowl in a pan of hot water and whisk with a fork until the gelatine is thoroughly dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Add one teaspoon of this mixture to the butter mixture at a time, beating constantly. Sprinkle the cream of tartar evenly into the butter mixture and continue to beat until it is creamy, light in colour and smooth in consistency.

I hope you're loving the simple idea! Sometimes, things at its simplest, purest form is the best. It's Aaron's birthday soon and I'm planning to make him a big cake! He gotten his contract and he just need to know a commencement date and rest assured, we'll be moving to Perth for good! I'm pretty excited and happy for him, albeit a little anxious since I still haven't secure a job myself.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Soybean Curd (Wobby Tau Foo Fah)

Posted by Quinn at Wednesday, May 19, 2010 54 comments Links to this post


This is the soybean curd recipe as promised. It is so smooth, I finally got it. Apart from the typical hot soybean curd, I did another version of chilled beancurd, set with the right amount of gelatine and Aaron really like this one so much that he asked me not to bother fidgeting and getting all mad and crazy about gypsum.

This is good and cold and very very smooth. The pictures you see here, the one with Gula Melaka Syrup is the one set with gelatine (picture below) and the one with Pandan-Ginger Syrup is set with coagulant, a mixture of gypsum, cornflour and tapioca starch (picture above). I however didn't use gypsum this time. I found Pectin from my local supermarket, the one used to make fruit jams so I use that one instead. It sets the curd beautifully. From my experience, pectin has a higher range of setting the curd compared to gypsum. I'm sorry but I give up on gypsum already.

My mum makes her beancurd using Gypsum powder and so does the lady that taught her so. I don't know if it's the weather but hers always set so beautifully. This one can't beat mum's one but this is good enough for me and Aaron really thinks the chilled beancurd anytime beats any Tau Fo Fah anytime! So I've included both for you all to try. We both personally prefer the Gula Melaka Syrup and ended up using the Pandan-Ginger Syrup to sweeten our Soy milk.

The recipe is provided by the nice woman that mum bought her soybean grinder from, let's call her Mrs. Buffalo because she is a sales person for the brand, Buffalo.

Give it a go, it's not tough at all. Gypsum can be very tricky sometimes.

Soybean Curd
(courtesy of Mrs. Buffalo)

4 cups of boiling hot soy milk
Coagulants (see below)
Room temperature sugar syrup to serve (see below)

After the 3 times of boiling the soy milk, stir the coagulant one last time and pour it into a slow cooker pot. Then pour in the hot soy milk from a height making sure you pour it over all the coagulant paste so they are finely dispersed. Cover with a tea towel and place on the lid of slow cooker (it has to be a heavy glass lid). Set it aside to coagulate for 50 minutes, do not move or relocate the slow cooker, do not peek, do not open, do not stir. Just sit there with a chair and a book and guard it. I have too many people with itchy hands in here so I have to guard it!

To serve, scoop out thin layers of the pudding and place it in a serving bowl. Drizzle over sugar syrup and serve immediately. For every time you scoop a new bowl of Tau Foo Fah, you'll notice a water layer in the pot. Just scoop away the water layer and proceed to scoop the curd like normal.


Coagulant:

1/2 tsp gypsum powder (can substitute with 3/4 tsp Pectin or GDL or Lactone)
1/2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tbsp tapioca starch
3 tbsp water

Mix all the above together, making sure the cornflour and tapioca starch is completely dissolved. Set aside until needed.
Justify Full
Chilled Soybean Curd


300ml soy milk
1 tsp gelatine
Sugar syrup to serve, chilled until very cold

Dissolve the gelatine by sprinkling it over 1 tbsp of water. Set it aside to swell for 5 mins. Measure out the soy milk and place it in a milk pot and reheat gently. When it is about hot to touch, turn the heat off and pour in the gelatine paste, scrapping everything in. Whisk it to combine for a minute. Scoop off as much bubbles as possible that is produced from the vigorous stirring. Cool it down to room temperature and chill it overnight in the fridge, cover tightly with a plastic cling wrap.

To serve, scoop out thin layers of the pudding and place it in a serving bowl. Drizzle over cold sugar syrup and serve immediately.

Gula Melaka Syrup:

1/4 cup Gula Melaka, shaved and compact into measuring spoon and measure
1 tbsp brown sugar
Water, as much as you like but not too much

Bring everything to boil until all sugar is melted. Remove from heat and chill until very cold.

Pandan-Ginger Syrup:


1/4 cup raw sugar or rock sugar
2 pandan leaves, cleaned and knotted
Thumb-size ginger, peeled and smashed with the back of a knife
Wter, as much as you like but not too much

Bring everything to boil and when all is melted, let it simmer for 5mins. Remove from heat and cover to let pandan and ginger infuse the sugar syrup. Cool it down and chill until very cold.


I hope you like this post and find some information helpful to you. I hope the pictures can show you how silky smooth the Tau Foo Fah is and get you to make some for your loved ones! Whatever you do, please don't use store-bought Soy Milk for this because they just won't work.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Soy Milk

Posted by Quinn at Monday, May 17, 2010 14 comments Links to this post

Soy milk is a great alternative for vegan. One of my housemate is a vegan and once she tried my soy milk, she never bought one of those diluted soy milk from Chinatown nor supermarket anymore. Really, all they give you is sugar and water. My mum bought a soybean grinder long time ago and it was not only expensive but hard to wash with many parts to assemble and disassemble. I really pity my housekeeper back then, she does all the laundry and washings in my house and mum make soybean milk like twice a week.


Anyway, when she bought that machine, the seller, a friendly, middle-aged woman came to our house, gave my mum a demo on how to use the machine to make soybean milk and to make soybean curd (aka Tau Foo Fah) with it. Apparently, you can also extract carrot juice with it. She saved the carrot juice for drinking and used the finely shredded leftover carrots for making carrot cake, pretty impresive I would say.

So this is the proportion she has used. The downside is that the machine won't work if you put in too little water, which means you can't make a thicker soy milk if you wish. I don't have that kinda luxury. All I have is a muslin cheesecloth that Ellena sent me long time ago and a blender that Aaron's dad brought over for us from Malaysia. They have too much blenders at home from lucky draws, lucky people.

Here is the recipe that the nice woman gave mum. I tweaked it a bit since I like it more concentrated but I like the steps she use because it really produce a very very smooth soy milk.


Soy Milk
(makes approximately 4 cups of soy milk)

150g whole organic soy bean
4 cups of water

Measure out the soybean and rinse it well under cold tap water. Soak it in plenty of cold tap water overnight. The following day, use your hands and rub the soybean very well to remove the husk or rather a think membrane shell that is wrapping each and every soy bean. Rub it well and place it under running tap water, the husk will float to the top. Discard them and repeat until you get no more husk from rubbing the soybeans. Apparently the husk will give it a slight bitter after taste, not obvious but when she made two batches of husked and unhusked, it was obvious.

Place all the soybean in a blender or a food processor. Add in 4 cups of clean water and blend them until you get a fine slurry or rather, paste. Using a large muslin cloth or coffee filter, strain the slurry and extract as much soy milk as possible. The leftover solids from the extraction is called Okara. You can choose to discard them or put them to good use. I've tried making bread with them but no, they didn't taste good to me. They look like almond meal to me so I use them to make a dense flourless chocolate cake, substituted almond meal with Okara. Not a bad move, the Lindt's chocolate gives good flavour but I still would have preferred having almond fragrance in my torte. Okara is very bland in my opinion.

Sieve (into a spouted jug or bowl) all the extracted soy milk using a clean muslin once more. Remove as much foam as possible with a metal spoon. Strain once more into a milk pot large enough to hold all the milk. Heat it over medium low heat and stir often. It will boil over the very minute you're not looking. You can microwave it first but I just don't quite lie the idea of nuking everything sometimes. It's just me, I felt the protein and nutrients in the soy milk would be affected if you nuke it. Make sure you have a pot larger than the quantity of milk in there so it doesn't boil over and spill. When it reaches the first boil, turn off the heat and remove as much foam as possible from the surface. Turn the heat back on and when it boil, skim the surface again like previous. Do it one more time and you're done. If you don't boil it three times, some bad enzymes in there will cause the soy milk to turn rancid faster. The whole process should take longer than 10minutes because 10 minutes is when the flavour of the soy milk is fully developed and the raw smell/taste is completely gone.

Make Longan Tofu/Jelly/Pudding or Soybean Curd with it. For vegan, drink it in place of milk, sweetened with sugar syrup and use it in place of whole milk when baking.

I just made soybean curd with this batch of soy milk. It's still coagulating but it looks like it's working this time after my previous failed attempt. It wasn't a failed attempt but I didn't quite get it yet. I hope this time, I'm there!

I told Aaron he can't drink soy milk as much as me because study has shown that men who consume soy milk on a daily basis has a higher chances of having low concentration of sperm in later life. He didn't believe me! Isn't it pathetic to have only one picture in the whole post. I make 4 cups of soy milk, coagulated 2 cups and sweetend the remaining 2 cups and simply took a shot. Then I realise it was kinda dark. I went off to get a reflector and when I'm back, the soy milk, they're gone! I hate Aaron sometimes because he knows photo means a lot to me and how it speaks a thousand words.

Anyway, I promise more shots for my Tau Foo Fah!

Wish me luck!

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chai Panna Cotta

Posted by Quinn at Saturday, May 15, 2010 16 comments Links to this post

Perhaps a break from bread would be good before we continue our journey back to yeast and kneading. This one is easy and makes enough to serve 2 or manybe 3 people as an after-meal dessert. I've used all parts heavy cream so it's pretty rich and sinful, not too good for the waistline but I couldn't resist not eating sweet stuffs after a savoury meal. However, this is not too sweet and has a beautiful hint of spice.

I also would like to share how I unmoulded my Panna Cotta. Note this only works with panna cotta that comes with a sugar syrup to serve along. If it doesn't comes with a syrup to serve along, well then tweak it and reduce the sugar in the Panna Cotta and make a syrup to go with it. Because, if you have discovered what I'm about to tell you, you will never see Panna Cotta the same way again and unmoulding using hot water would be a fuss for you, simply because this is too easy!

The trick starts with using the right cup to hold your Panna Cotta. Use plastic cups, trust me. Any other cups will work too but plastic cup greatly ease the removals of these babies. Look at the picture above. You can serve it in its cup but it doesn't look that elegant compared to the first picture isn't it? There wasn't much to dress up because Panna Cotta simply speaks for itself. Luscious, beautiful wobbly little thing.

Having said that, if you also notice, many recipes that serve Panna Cotta in its mould often ask you to 'pour the syrup over only upon serving'. The reason is that the sugar syrup will soon find its way down the sides of the Panna Cotta and ingeniously loosen up the sides and edges for you. No thin, warm and wet knife, no soaking in hot water and count 1 to 10 required. So pour the cooled syrup (not the slightest warm is allowed!) over the Panna Cotta and let it sit for 5 minutes or even less.

Have a serving plate and place it over the Panna Cotta. Flip it upside down in one quick motion and wiggle it around. Don't worry about the Panna Cotta, it will not break apart, the recipe I'm about to provide makes the best texture Panna Cotta for me. Hold the plastic cup and press tt around, with your thumb and other fingers moving it in a circular motion. The Panna Cotta will just plop out onto the plate beautifully and the syrup acts as a lubricant and allows you to position your Panna Cotta at the centre.

Easy nifty little trick? Well of course, if you already know so, well, thanks for dropping by anyway :)



Chai Panna Cotta
(serves 2 or 3)

2/3 cup heavy cream or double cream
2 Chai Tea Bags (don't use Lipton, use those good stuffs, I'll take a picture of mine next time)
1 cup of spring water, not reboiled water from your electric kettle
2 tbsp castor sugar
2 tsp gelatine powder

Place 3 tbsp of the spring water (not hot) in a shallow plate. Sprinkle over the 2 tsp gelatine and let it swell for 5 minutes.

Combine the Chai tea leaves and remaining spring water in a small milk pot. Bring it to a boil and turn off the heat. Infuse for a couple of minutes and add in the sugar. Stir until dissolved turn off the heat. Sprinkle over the gelatine and whisk a minute until it has completely dissolved. Stir in the double cream and whisk to combine very well. Pour it into 2 or 3 tall plastic cups (those that you use for parties would do) and chill it in the fridge until set. Generally, overnight is the best since that will make sure your gelatine will not set/gel any further. I place it in a dessert fridge in my room so it doens't take on my leftover curry smell or my durian cheesecake smell. If you have to, cool it down completely, and cover with a plastic wrap before lacing it back in the fridge again to set.

Spiced Syrup
1 star anise
1 cardamom pod, bruised
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp water

Make a syrup with all the above and infuse a while to let the star anise and cardamom pod flavoured the syrup. Coll and chill it in the fridge until cold. If too thick, thin it down with water. To unmould, pour the syrup evenly over the plastic cups and let it stand for a couple of minutes. When all syrup has settled to the bottom of the cup, flip it onto a serving plate and wiggle until it plop out gently.

Serve immediately or chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Note:

I'm pretty fussy about my Chai. Chai simply means tea and I like using store bought springwater for it. Water boiled over and over again simply will not do because the bond between hydrogen and oxygen is broken. It makes for a very dull tasting tea to my palate. I also always open up the Chai Tea Bags and you'll be wondering the whole point of getting tea bags is so you save the hassle of having to strain it. But tea leaves will not release its full flavour if bounded by a muslin bag, not even if you press it well against the side of you cup. Any simmering longer than 5 minutes will make it bitter so don't think, the longer the infusion, the better. It doesn't work with Chai and Matcha. I feel all that makes a difference because I am fussy as I've said. I wouldn't call myself the tea connoisseur but this is what I drink. Feel free to use what you like, say use whatever water you want and keep the teabags intact.


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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Butter Coconut Layer Bun

Posted by Quinn at Wednesday, May 12, 2010 16 comments Links to this post


I made buns again yesterday. There is something just very soothing and magical about kneading dough. I don't need and don't want a breadmaker, I love kneading. It's indescribable but I just love the process. I love how I could feel the dough and know when it is done. I bought a copy of bread recipe book during my last trip back to Malaysia. It's one of those typical Asian recipe books that I'm sure Pei Lin will be put off! But I am so confident in making bread that I can sacrifice the detail recipe steps in return of the various ways of making buns, the different filling and the cheap quality of step-by-step photo. At least they are clear and tells me what to do, good enough for me. And really, these are what Aaron and I both really like. He doesn't like those ciabatta and foccacia. He just wants typical Asian breads all the time. I've made enough breads by hand to be able to do it blindly.


Back to this book, I like how they promote homemade breads and healthy eating at the same time since all the recipes uses no preservative and no bread improver. This is the first recipe I tried ever since having this book for a month or so. I like it, it's sinful and guilty so you probably wanna just make 4 and nothing more and the buns are large anyway, you can have enough to share around since I'm pretty weight cautious as of lately.

Butter Coconut Layer Bun (makes 4 buns)
(adapted from Baked & Steamed Bun by Daniel Choong)

For the buns:
4 portions of basic sweet bun dough, divided into 55g each

Butter-Coconut Filling
100g dessicated coconut
100g butter, cold and chopped
1 large egg
115g castor sugar (I just use 1/2 cup)
90g evaporated milk

Place all in a food processor and pulse until all combined. Roughly form into 4 parts and chill or freeze. When firm, work quickly in between palms and roll it into a ball and chill again until needed. It is a lot easier to wrap in the filling when it is frozen or very very cold.

Take a piece of the bread dough and flatten it out. Place a ball of filling at the centre and seal it up well. Rest it for 5 minutes. Flatten the dough again, taking care not to leak any filling out at this stage. When you have obtained a fairly thin round disc, fold it in half once. Fold the semicircle once more so that it looks like a large, fat love letter. With a sharp knife, cut it in half. Turn up the bun to expose the filling. Gather them together and roll them up with a pandan leave.

Note that you are supposed to roll them up fairly tight to get a nice shape. The one shown in the picture is after proving for 30minutes and I have obviously not rolled the pandan leaf tight enough. If you roll it tightly, you'll get a sort of beautiful fan shape, not quite like mine.


Repeat for the remaining dough and filling to get 4 pieces of bun. Place the bun on a greased tray and let it double in size in a warm spot. Upon baking, brush them with evaporated milk. Be gentle and treat them like new born babies, they look so all puffed up and gorgeous....

Sprinkle a generous amount of dessicated coconut on top of the bun. Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinke...

Bake them for 10-15 minutes or until a golden brown in a 190°C preheated hot oven.

Done! There's nothing really tough here and I'm really just sharing the recipe for the filling. I got a couple of emails after posting my Little Char Siew Buns requesting for a post just on basic sweet bun dough recipe and how to knead since some of them don't own a breadmaker too. Sorry but I don't know when I might have time for a post like that. I'll try though, no assurance.

For now, for those experts and amatuer bakers, try this butter coconut layer bun. It's yummy and beautiful!

This post have been submitted to Yeastspotting, a weekly bread showcase organized by Susan of Wild Yeast.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Tuna Heart Bun for Mother's Day!

Posted by Quinn at Friday, May 07, 2010 19 comments Links to this post

I made this yesterday and they are still very soft now. It's yummy, very soft and savoury to my liking. Obviously, Mother's Day is tomorrow and I have shaped them all into neat, pretty little heart shape buns just for the occasions! Even though my mother is not here with me, she is always in my heart so she is with me virtually to enjoy these buns :)

I've adapted the topping recipe from Baked & Steamed Bun by Daniel Choong and I must say it's a pretty good book. It's got both steam and baked buns and breads recipe, they all contain no preservatives and no bread improver, sorta like promoting healthy eating. There are many ways to making and shaping buns and also different topping or filling to pair with.

As for the bun, I use typical sweet bun dough. It is the shaping method that I would like to share. I once saw this way of shaping from a website but unfortunately, the link is not working anymore. I like how easy it is and most importantly, the heart shape is very obvious even upon rising and baking. Aaron and I both love this a lot so do give it a try.


Tuna Heart Bun (makes 8)

For the buns:
8 portions of basic sweet bun dough, divided into 75g each

Roll them into longish shape and have both ends slightly tapered. Make a long slit 3/4 way through the dough vertically. Open them up like a 'V' shape and fold the 2 ends down towards the centre, just like shown in the step-by-step picture. Let them rise and double in size. Glaze them with egg wash and divide the filling among the buns.


For the filling or topping: Makes enough for 8 buns

150g tuna (I use one whole can of John West Tuna 185g)
1/2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
Good grind of black pepper
40g mayonnaise
1/2 dried parsley flakes

Mix everything till well combined and smear on top of bun or use as filling. Sprinkle with more dried parsley, a sprinkle of sugar and a dash of Parmesan Cheese on each buns.

This is dedicated to all mothers in the world. Here's wishing you all a very happy Mother's Day and stay young!!! I have a picture of my mum here and I think she looks gorgeous for a 48-years-old woman, what do you think?

And my dad....I love him. He is the coolest dad ever, kinda like my best buddy. He's 53 and goes island hopping all over Malaysia to scuba dive. Now how cool is that? I don't know any other dads that scuba dive, dad just show the world age is not a limit to things you wanna do in life. Go for it, that's what he always tells me. Dad's pretty outdoor, he goes jungle trekking thrice a week and plays badminton thrice a week too. He fishes sometimes, so yeah.... I'm closer to dad so I can't help talking about dad here despite Mother's Day. Mum's pretty boring, she goes shopping all day and night and socializing and meeting people, can be quite sickening sometimes and seriously, my parents almost died of boredom here in Adelaide last week.

Okay, abrupt ending. Gotta go prepare and cook up lots of stuffs. We're hosting a lunch tomorrow in our house. Pinky promise I'll get the pictures before our guests dig in!

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spinach, Pecorino and Tomato Quiche

Posted by Quinn at Sunday, May 02, 2010 15 comments Links to this post


As of now, parents are all back in Malaysia. I am so tied down with interviews. I have a few final ones but I'd keep it to myself until I get the job. I cannot take another disappointment really. After this post, I don't know if I will be posting much until I settled down. I receive all the comments, some asking for easy to cook recipes, some hoping I will be fine. I'm not all over the rejection yet but I will. Right now, I just wanna focus on what's in front of me and food. Didn't get to cook much when parents were down. So this was done sometime back, in fact a day right after Elin posted hers up.

I was inspired by Elin who makes real good pies and quiche. Her spinach quiche got me hooked ever since I tried making them once. I make quiche for lunch and finish half the quiche myself, averagely once every fortnight. At that kind of rate of quiche consumption, if I use Elin's Famous Cheese Crust, I'd be dead by now. Dead from overindulging. Seriously, I can understand why Elin always rave about the cheese crust pastry. How can something not be nice when it has so much cheese in it and spells C-A-L-O-RI-E-S????

This is my low fat version. A pastry case I make often and eat with no guilt. I use water to bind it rather than cheese or fat (lard/butter/shortening etc). It has a lower fat content compared to any other pastry you can find out there. And the wholemeal flour gives it a healthy texture too. I have also added cherry tomatoes (sometimes I use grape tomatoes too!) upon baking. It's not exactly very healthy since it call for an amount of cheese in there and I use Pecorino, how's that low fat??? But because I love Pecorino so much, I'm willing to pull down the fat content in the pastry. You can use Mozzarella but lemme tell you, it's got high fat content too unless you buy fresh cheese. Generally, fresh cheeses have lower fat content.

I once tried to clear up my fridge and practically anything edible goes into the quiche. I love how after baking, the cherry tomatoes releases its natural juices. Remove the stringy bits from the skin and pop the whole thing in your mouth. Very little pulp and a whole goodness of tomato juice bursting into flavour in your mouth. That's what I call orgasm! Ever since then, I always pop cherry tomatoes in my quiche. As for cheese, I sometimes use feta when I'm in crave of Spanakopita. Most other times, I use Pecorino, just because I like how it taste. You can use Mozarella or a mixture of it with Parmesan, anything you like. Just go according to your feeling and your fridge's leftover. Bake it till it's set and you have a warm and hearty meal.

Low fat pastry


1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
2.5 tbsp shortening/butter
2 tbsp water or more to bind

Place all ingredients above except water in a food processor and pulse until resemble breadcrumbs. Pour out into a large mixing bowl. Dribble in water and toss well. Pour into a 7-8 inch tart tin and press to even out really well. The pastry makes just enough for a very very thin layer to line the tart so be patient and press it real thin. Spray the lined tart tin with olive oil spray and place a sheet of foil over it. Weight it down with rice or commercial pie weights and bake for 10minutes in a preheated oven 200°C. Remove the weight and foil and further bake another 5 minutes or more to dry and brown the base further.

Quiche Filling

2 eggs
2 tbsp cream (I used lite cream, low percentage of fat)
A pack of triple washed baby spinach (100g)
90g Pecorino Cheese, finely chopped and crumbled
Enough cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes (optional)

Wilt the baby spinach in hot water. It doesn't take long, just approximately 4 minutes and drain it in a colander. Squeeze out the excess water and chop it into smaller pieces with a sharp knife. Beat the eggs and cream together and add in the chopped spinach and crumbled Pecorino. Mix well and pour into prepared tin. Place cherry tomatoes all over the surface of the quiche.

Bake it for 30 minutes, 200°C. Remove it from the oven and place it under the griller for 5 minutes if the tomatoes aren't roasted well enough.


Yummy, I love quiche.

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