Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chiffon Cupcakes

I defy anyone not to like these fluffy little bits of heaven. 'nuff said.

This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown's and makes 24.

149 grams Cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
5 large eggs ; separated
160 grams sugar ; divided
1/4 cup water ; room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F/163°C.

Place paper liners into 2 (12-cup) muffin tins or 12 ovenproof coffee mugs and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift and whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Place the egg yolks and 5 ounces of the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high for 2 minutes or until the mixture becomes pale yellow and "ribbons" when lifted. Add the water, vegetable oil and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients slowly and whisk just to combine. Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl while you whisk the egg whites.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar into a clean bowl and whisk on high using the whisk attachment, until it becomes foamy. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the remaining ounce of sugar. Increase speed to high and continue whisking until stiff peaks form, approximately 2 minutes.

Transfer 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter and whisk until well combined. Add the remaining egg whites (in 2 parts) and fold in gently. Transfer batter into prepared muffin tins or coffee mugs (3/4 way up) (using ice cream scoop), evenly dividing the batter between the cups. Place both muffin tins on the middle rack of the oven or, if using mugs, place all of them on a half sheet pan and set on the bottom rack of the oven. While baking, do not open oven door or rotate pan or the chiffon will fall. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or the cupcakes reach an internal temperature of 205 to 210 degrees F. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Caramelised Onion Risotto

This is a great side dish. I had it with a salmon meal. There's something about risotto which makes me feel all warm inside when I eat it. To me, it's one of the heartiest meals I can have, although it consists of mainly rice.

I adapted the recipe from here.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion ; sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
7 cups chicken broth ; heated
salt and freshly ground pepper ; to taste
Fresh herbs

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until onion is soft and caramelized. Add rice and stir to combine. Let cook for another minute. Add white wine and let reduce almost all of the way. Reduce heat to medium low. Begin adding chicken broth a cup at a time. Add more broth as each cup is absorbed. Continue until rice is al dente (you might not use all 7 cups). Season with salt, pepper, and any herbs.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I have big love for this scone. It is simple to make and tastes absolutely great.

This recipe makes for 6 servings.

1/2 cup Sour cream
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 cup All purpose flour
1/4 cup White sugar ; (scant)
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1/8 teaspoon Cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon Salt ; (1/8 tsp fine salt)
113 grams Butter ; cold
1/2 cup Raisins ; or currants (optional)

1. In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and baking soda. Then mix in egg and vanilla and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

3. In a large bowl, whisk well the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt. Cut in the butter until it looks like coarse, small flour-coated crumbs. Mix in the raisins.

4. Stir the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Do not overmix.

5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Pat dough into a disc and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

6. Take out dough from refrigerator, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat dough into a 3/4-inch thick round. Cut into 6 wedges or use a lightly floured cookie cutter, and place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Do not brush tops with egg mixture. White tops better than brown ones.

7. Bake 23-25 minutes in the preheated oven, rotating about 20 minutes in until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the centre of a scone comes out clean. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you want crusty scones, cool them uncovered. If a softer crust is desired, wrap hot scones in a clean dish towel.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Eggplant Lasagna

I feel quite nostalgic towards food I had during my university days. The eggplant lasagna, moussaka, curry on rice, hot chocolate, kebabs, muffins, orange poppy seed cakes, curry laksa (Australian style), creamy pasta, delicious chips, and so on.

In an attempt to experience a bit of nostalgia, I chose this lasagna recipe by John Ash. I made a beef lasagna with my sisters when I was younger and I do believe the pasta was not thoroughly cooked and the beef might not have been either (although everyone who tried it said it was fine).

Having learned and experimented with cooking a lot more since, this lasagna turned out great. There wasn't any one flavour which jumped out, as you would get with beef lasagna. It was just a terrific melding of pasta, eggplant, cheese, tomato, herbs and spices.

This recipe makes for 6 servings.

2 large Eggplants - ; 1 1/2 lbs ea
~~ -- Tomato Sauce -- ~~
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 cup Finely-chopped onions
340 grams Sliced Crimini or Shiitake mushrooms ; abt 4 cups
1 tablespoon Slivered garlic
1/2 teaspoon Fennel seed ; crushed
1 cup White wine
794 grams Italian tomatoes - ; 1 can chopped (use the sauce as well)
3 tablespoons Chopped sun-dried tomatoes ; optional
1/4 cup Chopped fresh basil ; OR
2 teaspoon dried basil
~~ -- White Sauce -- ~~
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/4 cup Minced shallots or green onions ; white part only
1/3 cup Flour
2 1/2 cups Milk
1/4 teaspoon Freshly-grated nutmeg
1/3 cup Freshly-grated fontina cheese ; or smoked or regular mozzarella cheese
Salt ; to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper ; to taste
~~ -- To Assemble -- ~~
454 grams Fresh lasagna noodles ; cooked
8 cups Loosely-packed spinach leaves ; washed well, stems removed, dried
3/4 cup Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
Seasoned Bread Crumbs ; (recipe below)

Remove stems from eggplants and slice lengthwise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet or two and roast in a preheated 220°C/425°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until eggplant is lightly browned and cooked through but not mushy. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over moderately-high heat and add onions, mushrooms, garlic and fennel seed. Continue to cook until mushrooms release their liquid. Add 1/2 cup white wine and continue to cook until liquid has mostly evaporated and mushrooms are beginning to brown. Stir in tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and basil and simmer uncovered until sauce has thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While tomato sauce is cooking make the white sauce. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauce pan and add shallots and cook until shallots are soft but not brown. Add flour and cook over moderate heat stirring regularly for 3 to 4 minutes. Add milk and remaining 1/2 cup wine whisking constantly until sauce thickens. Continue to cook for 4 to 5 minutes to cook out starchiness. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in fontina and set aside. Sauce should be fairly thick but pourable-- thin if necessary with additional milk or wine.

To assemble lasagna: Lightly oil an 8- by 12-inch baking dish. Spread 1/2 cup or so of tomato sauce on bottom. Add layers of noodles, eggplant, spinach, white sauce and a sprinkling of 2 tablespoons or so of Parmesan cheese over top. Continue layering in this manner. Cover loosely with foil and bake in a preheated 190°C/375°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with Seasoned Bread Crumbs and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until crumbs are golden brown. Let lasagna rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Seasoned Bread Crumbs

170 grams Good Italian or French bread ; (crust removed)
1 1/2 tablespoons Olive oil
3 tablespoons Grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon Dried thyme
Salt ; to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper ; to taste

In a food processor or by hand, coarsely chop fresh white bread crumbs (be careful not to get them too fine -- should be about the same size as oatmeal).

Toss crumbs with oil, cheese, herbs, salt and pepper and spread out on baking sheet. Place in a preheated 190°C/375°F oven and bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until crisp, dry and very slightly colored. Store air tight.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Simple Garlic Bread

The first garlic bread I tried was the one we got from a local pizza place. It was alright but often cold and the garlic butter was only lightly smeared on. So it was mostly through smell than taste that I deduced that what I'm eating IS in fact actually garlic bread.

Garlic bread is so simple to make and by making your own, you can control how much butter and garlic you would like on the bread.

This recipe serves 4.

1 baguette or loaf of French bread
43 grams butter
2 cloves Garlic ; chopped finely
Salt ; to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper ; to taste

Cut the bread diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Don''t slice all the way through the loaf.

Mix the butter and the garlic, add a pinch of salt and pepper and blend into a smooth paste. Spread the mixture onto each slice as if you were buttering a piece of bread.

Put the loaf back together, wrap it in foil and put it in a hot oven for ten minutes. Unwrap the foil for the last minute of heating to get a crisp crust to the loaf.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bread and Butter Pudding

I love bread and butter pudding. Served warm with custard, it's like a little slice of heaven... and it uses up your stale bread!

2/9 cup Raisins
1/12 cup Rum ; optional
4 ounces Day-old white bread ; cut 1/2" cubes
14 grams Unsalted butter ; softened
1 cups Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/6 cup Granulated sugar
1 large Eggs
1 large Egg yolks
Custard for serving:
1 large egg yolks
1 tablespoons sugar ; scant
1/3 cups whole milk
1/5 teaspoon Vanilla extract

In a small bowl, macerate raisins in rum 30 minutes. Butter bread.

Drain the raisins. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish. Spread the bread evenly in the baking dish and sprinkle the raisins on top.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

In a heavy saucepan bring milk to a bare simmer over moderate heat with vanilla bean and granulated sugar and remove pan from heat. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean with a knife into milk, reserving pod for another use, and whisk to break up seeds.

In a large heatproof bowl whisk together whole eggs and yolks and add hot milk in a slow stream, whisking. Stir in vanilla.

Ladle custard evenly over bread (make sure the custard covers the bread) and set dish in a larger baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to reach halfway up side of dish and bake pudding in middle of oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until puffed and set.

Remove dish from water bath and cool pudding to warm or room temperature.

Custard for serving:
Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl until well blended, about 2 minutes. Bring milk to boil in heavy medium saucepan (or double boiler); gradually whisk into yolk mixture.

Return custard to saucepan and stir over medium heat until custard thickens and reaches 160°F and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 4-15 minutes (do not boil). Remove from heat immediately.

Cool quickly. Set pan in larger pan of ice water; stir occasionally and gently for a few minutes to hasten cooling. Stir in vanilla. Serve warm, or transfer to bowl and press piece of plastic wrap onto surface of sauce to prevent a "skin" from forming and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Butter Chickpea Curry

This is definitely one of my favourites dishes with chickpeas. It is creamy and just bursting with flavour. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to take a picture of it. However, take my word for it, it's good!

This recipe is adapted from AllRecipes and serves 6.

3 medium potatoes ; cubed
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 medium yellow onion ; diced
1 1/2 teaspoon Garlic ; minced
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
229 grams condensed tomato soup
3/8 cup Yogurt ; or milk
255 grams Chick peas ; rinsed and drained

1. Place potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat; simmer until the potatoes are tender. Drain, and set aside.

2. Warm oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Stir in curry powder, garam masala, ginger, cumin, and salt. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring. Pour in soup, cream, and chickpeas. Stir in potatoes. Taste. Put in more milk if required to counter the tomato soup taste. Simmer 5 minutes.

Serve with hot rice.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Vegetable Pizza

I recently bought a 10-inch pizza pan. I was really excited to try it but when I got home, I realised that it doesn't fit into my abysmally tiny oven. It does, however, fit into the convection oven. Now, going in, I already know pizzas are not meant to be baked in convection ovens. Convection ovens are not able to bake the bottom of the pizza to a crisp, which is terribly important. Having pizzas on my mind though, I thought I'd just give it a try.

Well, the pizza turned out alright. The bottom was, as expected, slightly under-baked. Next time, I'll put aside the pizza pan and just bake directly on my baking sheet in the conventional oven.

This recipe makes 1 15-inch pizza.

-- Pizza dough --
3/4 teaspoon Instant yeast ; scant
1/2 cup Cold water
3/4 tablespoons Corn oil
1/2 tablespoon Sugar
1/12 teaspoon Garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/8 teaspoon Dry oregano leaves
1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
-- Topping --
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1 tablespoons parmesan ; grated
1/2 cups mozzarella ; grated
1 1/2 canned pineapple slices ; washed of their syrup and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 Canned mushrooms stems and pieces ; coarsely chopped
1/4 small Green pepper
1/2 Yellow onion

Combine all ingredients with about half of the flour, beating to a smooth batter. With a sturdy spoon work in remaining flour until you can toss it lightly on a floured surface and knead it until it feels elastic in texture.

Place it in an oiled bowl and roll around. Cover and leave until it rise to double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 230°C. When dough has doubled, punch it down and shape it to fit pizza pan that have been greased and dusted in cornmeal.

Spoon the marinara sauce over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around each pizza. Sprinkle the cheeses over the sauce. Arrange the pineapple pieces in a single layer over the cheeses. Sprinkle with the mushroom, pepper and onion. Bake the pizza until the crusts are crisp and brown on the bottom and the cheese is melted on top, about 12 minutes. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve immediately.