Monday, June 29, 2009

Bakewell pudding - DB June 2009

Phew.. I finally made it. I didn't thought I will be able to participate in this month's challenge. I've been down with a heavy case of flu this past week. No, it's not swine flu, but it felt worst than that. Stuffy nose, high fever, nose bleeds, croaky voice, and what's worst, the dry cough that kept me up most of the night. I blame it on the weather! and my exhaustion from all that studying and working at the same time.

I have to be honest with you, when I found out the challenge was a tart, I wasn't too excited. Not my favourite kind of pastry. But as I read on, I found out that it was a frangipane tart. This I love! I've been wanting to try my hands on making a frangipane tart for ages. As I mentioned before, post-exam and down with the flu is not exactly the best time to get my creative juice running. So I settled for a simple & basic flavour combination. I made 2 version, one is green tea frangipane with homemade raspberry jam and the other one is vanilla frangipane with yuzu lemon curd.

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

The bakewell tart itself, being a traditional English dessert, has a rich history behind it. Instead of boring you with it, you can read it here, or visit Jasmine's blog. She talked a lot about the history and lore about the bakewell pudding.

I personally LOVED this tart or pudding. The almond frangipane is light and fluffy yet so decadent. The homemade shortcrust pastry is beautiful. The texture is perfect for me. Making this cake is quite simple and quick. This recipe is definitely a keeper. The combination of green tea and raspberry is perfect. Not too sweet, and the green & red colour combine with the brown from the crust is so beautiful. Whereas the Yuzu one.. yumm is all I can say. I'm falling in love with Yuzu. I love it's aromatic flavour with a less tanginess when compared to original lemon. It almost taste like a lemonade, even though I didn't add sugar or soda to it. Thank you so much for the hostess for showing me this wonderful recipe. Please check the other daring bakers for their wonderful creations. Hopefully all of you can enjoy this recipe as much as I did =)

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Vanilla / Green tea Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Added flavourings:
1 Vanilla pod
2tbs of matcha powder

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Scrape the seeds of one vanilla bean and to the frangipane mixture. Set aside the required amount for the vanilla/yuzu lemon tart and add green tea/ matcha powder to the other half of the frangipane mixture. Mix well

Raspberry jam

1 punnet of raspberry (250g), blend and sieved through a fine sieve to remove the seeds
250g sugar
1-2 tsp of pectin

In a heavy based saucepan, cook raspberry juice, sugar and pectin to a boil. Once it boiled, turn down the heat and simmer until it thickens. Turn off heat and cool to room temperature before using. Any excess jam can be stored in a sterilized jar and spread on your toast in the morning.

Yuzu lemon curd

1/2 cup of Yuzu lemon juice zest of 1 lemon 1/2 cup sugar 3 large eggs 125g butter, at room temperature In a heavy saucepan, whisk together alll the ingredients and cook in a medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until the curd thickens and can easily coat the back of a spoon. Transfer to a bowl and wrap tightly with a cling wrap. Cool to room temperature before transfering to the fridge. Chill for a minimum of 2 hours before using.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A cocktail to celebrate

I'm freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!
No more exam, no more assignment, no more group meetings.
But you know what, when I was a full time student, a nice holliday or time off usually follows, but now, I'm just back to become a full time worker. hmpfh!

I made this cocktail for my boss' BYO cocktail party. It's lychee, lime and mint vodka tonic with strawberry pearls. I think I mentioned before that I tried my hands on molecular gastronomy, but it wasn't so good because the pudding didn't set. However this time, I got pictures! =).

For detailed instruction & recipe on making the pearls, please visit Michael Laiskonis' blog

Lychee, mint and lime Vodka tonic
Adapted from Good Taste Magazine July 2009
serves 12-15

2 cans of lychee, diced
110g brown sugar
40 fresh mint leaves
4-5 limes, quartered
360ml vodka
2L Soda water, chilled, to serve
Ice cubes, to serve

Divide the sugar, mint lime, and lychee among serving glasses. Use the end of a rolling pin to gently pound until lime is crushed.Pour vodka among glasses. Top with soda water and ice. Serve.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dumpling dinner party - DC June 2009

**updated, ooppss.. sorry, I forgot to thank Jen from userealbutter for being a terrific hostest on this month's challenge. Please forgive me, I was busy cramming for exam when I made this post =p**

A day late, but I promise you, it will be worth the wait.

I went all out for this month's Daring Cooks. The brief said to make potstickers, but since I love dumplings soooo much, I made it 4 ways.. with 3 different fillings. Plus a dessert version to end the night with a sweet note.

xiao long bao

In the midst of my cramming session for my exams, I allocate one whole day to make this dumplings. The pleating and rolling out the dumpling proved to be quite therapeutic and a short escape from the grueling hours buried in books. I have a couple of dumpling recipe that I want to try so instead of picking one, I decided to try them all. But being the idiot that I am, instead of doing the fillings half the recipe or even less, I did all of them in full quantity, so I end up with heaps of dumplings. Fortunately, they freeze well, so I can enjoy them for weeks.
I invited a couple of friends for a dumpling dinner.

I made the whole dinner with dumplings. Mushroom and tofu potstickers in thick broth for appetizer, prawn & chicken and wafu gyoza dumplings served in 2 ways for the main, and a choc caramel banana mille feuille for dessert. For the main course, I boil the dumplings and made it as a dumpling noodle soup.

xiao long bao

To accompany the noodle soup, I also made some xia long bao. Xia long bao is a traditional shanghai style dumplings where each delicate dumplings holds a tasty soup in the middle. I used to think they inject the soup into the dumpling. But after reading chef Joycelyn's rendition of it, I found out that the broth was first set into a gelee that looks like a translucent jewel-like cubes. Then, from the steaming process, the gelee liquifies back into a broth, hence the soupy centre in the dumplings. I've tried making xiao long bao before, and back then, I was making it for myself, so I can actually use the secret ingredient that makes the broth very gelatinous, even without the addition of a setting agent like agar-agar or gelatine.It is very simple really, the secret lies in the skin of a pig, or pork rind. It is so fatty and rich in albumen and colagen that is very gelatinous when cooked in water. However, this time, as I am cooking for M this time, I used chicken stock and add agar-agar to make it set. I still couldn't get the pleating technique right, but it's good enough for me.
The appetizer is actually inspired from watching masterchef. I'm so addicted to masterchef lately, I sometimes even watch the rerun on my lunch hour. It was the winning dish that made Julia won the invention test which then leads to her win over chef Peter Evans and a guaranteed spot in the finals.

And last but not least, being the sweet tooth that I am, I couldn't resist making a dessert. I deep fried the lefover dumpling skin, and made an asian mille feuille with banana, chocolate and caramel sauce. The chocolate mousse is also leftover from my friend's two tier birthday cake.

As you can see, I enjoyed this challenge so much. Thank you Jenn for the tasty challenge, as well as the recipe. Can't wait for next month's challenge =)

Dumpling skin:
250g flour
1tsp salt (replace with sugar for the mille feuille)
100ml boiling water

Combine salt and flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Boil water, and as soon as it stop's bubbling, pour into the well in the centre of the flour mixture. With a fork, slowly incorporate flour into the water until it forms a dough. Transfer to a work surface and continue working on the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Keep covered in a damp cloth all the time when you're not working with the dough to prevent it from drying out.

Mushroom & Tofu filling:
Recipe by Julia, Masterchef Australia finalist

50g firm tofu, finely diced
2 stems choy sum, finely chopped
50g mixed Asian mushrooms, finely diced
1 tsp fresh ginger finely diced

combine the tofu, greens, mushrooms and ginger in a bowl, mix and season.

3 cups chicken stock
1 tbs caster sugar
¼ cup black vinegar
1 tbs light soy sauce
2cm piece ginger, peeled and sliced

For the broth, pour the stock into a saucepan. Add the sugar, vinegar, soy and ginger. Place over a medium heat and allow to simmer.

Shrimp & chicken filling:

1/2 lb (225g) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb (225g) ground chicken
5 chinese chives, minced
1/4 cup (55g) ginger root, minced
1 tsp (5g) salt
3 tbsp (40g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).

Wafu gyoza filling recipe can be found here

Xiao Long Bao:

broth gelee:
500ml of chicken stock - preferably home made
half a packet of agar-agar

in a separate bowl, disperse agar-agar in 50ml of stock, set aside. In a saucepan, bring stock to the boil, season with salt and pepper. Add the agar-agar and simmer for 1-2 mins. In a shallow dish, pour the stock and cool to room temperature. Set in refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight. After fully set, dice gelee into cubes.

For Xiao Long Bao, I use the wafu gyoza filling and the shrimp & chicken filling. Steam in a bamboo steamer over a bed of lettuce.

Noodle soup:
bunch of shitake mushroom
bunch of enoki mushroom
egg noodle
1L of chicken stock
200-400ml of water
hoisin sauce
soy sauce
dash of fish sauce
sesame oil
bunch of chinese chives
bok choy

Boil chicken stock and water in a large pot. Add sauces & ginger according to taste. put dumplings and boil for a couple of minutes until it becomes see-through. Put in mushrooms, bok choy and chives and simmer until it boils again. Cook noodle according to pack instruction. Put noodles in individual bowls, pour the soup over.

In a shallow pan, heat oil and fry the dumplings until browned in the bottom. Pour in chicken stock and cover pan immediately, trapping the steam inside. Please be careful, as it will splatter a lot. If you're like me, the thought of oil splattering is unbearable, steam it in a separate pan. While the dumpling is cooking, in a separate pan, heat up chicken stock. As the dumplings browned, transfer the dumplings to the pan with chicken stock and cover immediately. Steam until most of the stock are absorbed by the dumpling and dumplings are translucent.