Thursday, December 11, 2008

Red, red wine

Christmas has indeed arrived early.

The good people at Cocoa Farm have kindly sent me a box of their beautiful, wholly-organic wine chocolates to sample. The package arrived in the form of 8 individually wrapped samples of 36%-cocoa chocolate studded with petite, shiraz-infused raisins. For once, I thought I’ll try to do these little babies justice and educate myself a little on chocolate appreciation.

Chocolate appreciation is quite a lot like wine-tasting. Needless to say, the chocolate needs to be at room temperature. I have always preferred my chocolate that way (or even a little on the slightly melted side) to a cold, rock-hard piece straight out from the fridge. Now if you are one of those who enjoy stashing your chocolate in the frigo, you’re seriously missing out on a lot of the subtler nuances that your chocolate bar can bring. The heat brings out the aromatic intensity and flavour of the chocolate which can be further released by taking a bit of chocolate and rubbing it between your fingers. The most apparent aromas that came out were those of rosy red cherries and a slight almond fragrance. Mmm.

Taste-wise, I tried it two-ways: one source recommends that you do not chew the chocolate at all and suck it using the roof of your mouth while the second method, which I found more effective, suggested chewing it to maximize the chocolate spread on your tongue and then letting it melt away into a rich, luscious paste. Velvety and milky, the chocolate was perfumed with light floral and juicy berry tones, reminding me of scented jasmine tea, cherries and ripe, ripe strawberries. Sublime. The slight tartness in the raisins cut through the sweetness of the chocolate, something which I was pleasantly surprised by and very much enjoyed. There was also a very slight hint of spiciness which frenchie and I detected too. What? You didn’t think I’ll share my chocolate?

All in all, I would say this is a very pleasant after-dinner chocolate which I suspect might even get on famously with a bit of dry red wine. Although I personally love strong, dark and slightly bitter varieties, this is a nice change which presents a lovely medley of flavours that do not overpower each other so much as complement each other, and can be appreciated by both wine and non-wine lovers alike. Chin!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pretty darn good coconut rice pudding (Riz au lait et creme de coco)

Sometimes the best things happen out of spontaneity. I wasn't even that keen on dessert after a dinner of zucchini omelette and some seriously good pate Henaff with bread, but someone sure did. And he sure knows what gets me.

"Shall we make some riz au lait?"

"Nah, I'm not really that hungry."

"Do you think it'll taste good with coconut cream? Cause I'm really craving it."

"Oooo coconuuttt. Yeah why not?" Pause. Can feel resistance crumbling faster than sable cookies now. " And make sure you add a little gula melaka while you're at it."

Well I can't say no now can I? He even volunteered to make dessert! And I have to admit, watching him take pleasure in preparing the riz au lait made me feel a little fuzzy inside.

This dessert is extremely easy to prepare, if not a little laborious as you will need to stir it frequently to avoid the rice getting burnt. But you'll sure be glad you did when the heady, coconut fragrance hits your senses. This post is dedicated to Aparna's Sweet Celebrations event - Happy blog anniversary!

You'll need:
Coconut cream
1 cup of basmati rice
Vanilla extract
Gula melaka (caramelized coconut sugar)

Wash and rinse out the excess starch from the rice. Add slightly more milk than is needed to cover the rice. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Stir constantly while the rice is cooking, adding more milk if necessary to keep a creamy consistency. Add coconut cream, a splash of vanilla, sugar and gula melaka to taste. (Remember it's all about your taste preference!) When the rice is ready, remove from heat and serve warm.

(1 cup of rice will serve 2 hungry people)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lick-your-plate-clean chocolate spoon cakes

If there is one dessert that's synonymous with the little black dress, it'll have to be half-cooked chocolate cake or spoon cake as I like to call it (yes, a spoon is mandatory!) :) You can dress it anyway you like: a dash of spice, a good douse of coffee, crunchy nut pieces or just leave deep, dark and delicious. Whatever it is, you simply cannot err on the wrong side with this.

This is one dessert that I've made several times but have not blogged about before. Since the weather is warming up a little, I decided to add some fresh cherries that I had picked up at the local grocerer's to offset the richness of the cake. Mmm, cherries and chocolate. Now you're talking my language.

This is specially for Lorraine's Ultimate Chocolate Cake event. Click here for the details!

Half-cooked Chocolate Cakes
6 tsp sugar (you can add more if you like, but this is way enough for me)
225g bittersweet dark chocolate
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp flour
pitted fresh cherries

1. Butter ramekins. Over a bain marie, melted chocolate and butter. Stir well to combine. Remove from heat.
2. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow.
3. Temper the egg mixture but adding a bit of warm chocolate mixture to it, then adding the rest. Combine well.
4. Fold in the flour gently until just combined.
5. Place a couple of fresh cherries in each ramkein. Spoon the batter carefully into the ramekins, adding as many cherries as you like as you go along. Place in a preheated oven of 425F and cook for approximately 13 minutes. Remove and serve warm with ice-cream on the side if desired.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

Dear dear me. Moist, satisfying sweet, intensely buttery and slightly nutty, I can't believe how luscious and addictive these cakes turned out to be.

This is the first time I've experimented with brown butter as I've always been wary about the whole carsinogenic thing, but hell, so are those deliciously crisp charred bits you get with your bbq and that doesn't stop me from consuming them from time to time. That being said, I'm only browning the butter on this occasion for the sake of experimenting. If I make these cakes again (which I'm very very sure I will), I think I'll leave out the browning bit.

After being introduced to salted caramels from my trip to Bretagne, I just can't adjust to normal caramels anymore. So the teeny weeny teaspoon of salt stated in the recipe was really quite unacceptable in my opinion. A good, liberal sprinkling of pink murray salt? Oui s'il vous plait!

Another change I did was to use yoghurt for the buttercream frosting instead of heavy cream. That was a chance I took since I did not really feel like buying a tub of heavy cream just for a couple of tablespoons. I am not sure how my other fellow Bakers fared, but it seemed like I needed a couple of tablespoons more of yoghurt than what the recipe called for. The yoghurt provided an extremely pleasant, sourish tang and is one amendment I'm happy to keep.

These cakes are a Shuna Fish Lydon recipe. The recipe can be found at her website at Eggbeater. And thanks to Dolores, Alex and Jenny for hosting this month's theme! You've certainly satisfied one sweet tooth.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tomato farcies

Have you ever had a farcie? If you haven't, you seriously dont know what you're missing out on!

I was first introduced to these little babies by frenchie and have fell hard for it ever since. The sight of plump, juicy, tomatoes stuffed to the brim with herbed pork mince sitting in the oven, happily dribbling juices all over themselves is enough to make any bosom sigh. What a clever way to sneak in vegetables into your diet too I might add :)

Please forgive the poor lighting in my photos - I took them at night, and probably in a rush too since I was rather famished couldn't wait to sink my teeth into them. We paired them with basmati rice topped with a good dollop of salted butter. Simple but oh so good.

Tomato Farcies
Beefsteak tomatoes (any big tomato will do, preferably one that has a stable butt)
Pork mince (enough to fill the tomatoes with)
A bunch of fresh rosemary leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash the tomatoes, cut off the tops and reserve. Using a spoon, carefully spoon the inside of a tomato and set aside. Repeat for remaining tomatoes.
2. In a bowl, season the pork with salt and pepper to taste as well as the rosemary.
3. Take a handful of pork and stuff the tomato shells with it. When it has been filled to the brim, place the cap back on. Repeat until all the tomatoes are done.
4. Placed the capped tomatoes into a casserole dish and pour a little water in the base so the tomatoes can retain their juiciness. Add a good dash of olive oil over the tomatoes and place in the oven.
5. The cooking process should take around half an hour, depending on the size of the tomatoes. In between cooking, open the oven and baste the tomatoes with the juices. When the pork is cooked, remove from the oven and serve warm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

spice me up.

With the stormy, temperamental weather going in Sydney, it almost feels like a luxury to be curled up at home with a warm cuppa frothy, fragrant chai . Simply soak a couple of tea bags in hot water over medium heat and add milk, sugar and spices (I used a generous sprinkling of freshly crushed up cardamom, cloves and cinnamon) Bring to a boil, turn off the flame and let steep for a couple of minutes. Serve warm.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Tea Room @ QVB

High teas have never really particularly appealed to me. The idea of piling you up with a whole lot of desserts is a weeeee bit of a stretch even for my immense sweet tooth. Personally, I'd rather just have one or two quality desserts at a time so I can savour the treat. But of course, a birthday celebration always calls for excesses, and Sunday saw us at The Tea Room in QVB.

The Tea Room was set with gorgeous high ceilings and chi-chi wallpaper, but a strong, almost fishy odour overtook our senses and had us baffled. I wonder what it was. Feeling rather famished after a morning session out on the water, I decided to skip the sparkling today and settled for the traditional afternoon tea set. I needed something strong and bitter to accompany the sweets and ordered an aromatic black lavender tea.

The sweets and savouries arrived on a 3-tiered plate. On the bottom tier were buttery scones studded with raisins and slices of spinach tart. The scones were delicious with a thick, grainy jam and cold clotted cream. I particularly enjoyed the warm, savoury spinach tart.

The top tier had the finger sandwiches with creamy smoked salmon and a ham & cheese filling. I was starving so I practically devoured these. There was also a most tasty little cream cheese tart. Finger lickin' good.

The middle tier was of course laden with all sorts of sweets. There was a little strawberry boat with a cream filling, a passionfruit yoyo sandwiched with the most heavenly tangy cream, two meringue drops sandwiched with what I think is a pistachio cream, a rich square of mud cake and a carrot cake. The passionfruit yoyo was the standout - it still has me salivating at the thought of it.

Given the innocuous little bite-sized quantities, we were more than stuffed at the end of it. Looking back, I should have tried the gluten free menu. Maybe next time!

The Tea Room
North End, QVB
455 George Street, Sydney
9283 7279

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Yes yes I know. You'll be forgiven to think that I've disappeared from the face of the earth given the frequency of my postings. But well, it is kind of hard to fit in blog posts especially when you're out about been travelling and having such a wonderful time. I've never felt this pampered in my life. My babe flew me down to Victoria for my birthday and the memories of cruising down the Great Ocean Drive and lunching on the most delicious grilled fish and thick-cut chips in the tranquil town of Port Fairy still sends tingles down my spine. Did I mention I had a heli ride too? :)

I was also flown down to Singapore by my besties for our dear, dear Viv's wedding. Weddings make me all soppy. I felt a huge lump in my throat when I was about to see her in her gown but had to muster all my strength to stop - hey, it was only 6 in the morning and I couldn't start that early, right? Sighz. Events like these just make me think of how lucky I am to have such close friends and how much I miss everyone back home.

And oooh yes, I went to the fish spa!!! It's the latest craze in Singapore where the fishes do the dirty work of grazing on your dead skin. Yeah I know, bleah. But your feet do feel quite smooth after that. Hee.

Well, I'm back in Sydney and starting to settle in after the mad rush of events including a research exhibition shortly after my trip home. And I am dying to share a little gem with you that I've discovered in the most unexpected of places. Saturday saw me at the Mind Body & Spirit Expo with a couple of my fave singa-dutchies. Hoping to gain some spiritual insight from the expo, I emerged from the fair thoroughly delighted with bags of Mayan Xocolat chocs and cosmetics instead.

I've come across the Mayan Xocolat brand before at the Aroma Fest but did not get to try then because of the long queue. There was a much shorter line this time at the MB&S Expo. Initially intrigued by the coffee, I was equally enthralled with the selection of chocolates on offer. There were xocolat-coated coffee beans, a most delicious orange peel xocolat (both featured in the photo), sesame xocolat and xocolat-coated crystallized ginger. The drinking chocolate is also dark, smooth and soothing and can be made into a rich chocolate paste using less water. The xocolats all have a tinge of chilli in them which leaves a pleasant buzz on your tongue. And the best part? Mayan Xocolat deals with the Guatemalan coffee/cocoa growers so that the profits go to them directly. Hopefully this will be a step towards helping growers like these out of poverty. Hey, quality foods for a good cause? I'm definitely in! :) And oh, I got a bag of caramelish-molasses too.

You can find out more about them at They have a cafe at Danks Street, Waterloo. The banquet menus look interesting - I'll definitely be dropping by to have a look!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fillet mignon surrounded in a cushy bed of crunchy long beans, tender mushrooms, melt-in-your-mouth fagioli beans and creamy, buttery chestnuts. Sighz. Need I say more?

*Burpz* Oops, 'cuse me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chat Thai

With the cheap meal deals on offer and fast service, Thai food invariably draws in much of the student crowd around Sydney Uni. Seriously, I’ve never seen more Thai restos anywhere else. Back in Singapore, my knowledge of Thai food was limited to fluffy pineapple fried rice with generous servings of pork floss and the ubiquitous sour, tangy Tom Yum soup. Sydney (okay, and maybe Africa) must have been the last place where I thought I’ll get to know Thai food better.

However with the multitude of restos around serving up their own versions of Thai cuisine, it’s hard to figure out what’s the real deal sometimes. And who better to ask than another Thai?

Saturday late morning saw us at the Contemporary Art Museum for the 2008 Biennial Art Expo with our favourite Singa-Dutch couple. As expected, there was the small handful of intriguing art pieces and more than your fair share of mind-boggling ones, so I was really quite looking forward to lunch to perk me up. Since we were in the city, we decided to check out Chat Thai. A mutual Thai friend had brought them there before and they couldn’t stop raving about it and how authentic it supposedly was. ‘Nuff said. They had me at authentic.

The dreary wet weather must have kept the crowd away and we were lucky to get a seat rather quickly; I was told that it’s normally packed to the brim during mealtimes. Not that I minded waiting. The kitchen was out in front at the waiting area and we could get a sneak peak at the goodies on offer. At the sight of khanom craok, my heart must have skipped a beat. I’ve read about these little coconut snacks on Eating Asia and have since spent many a night thinking about them. And here they were, brazenly looking all golden and crispy right in front of me. In Sydney. Boy, life is good to me.

We were quickly ushered to our seats and the waitress laid out 4 beaten tin cups in front of us. After poring through the menu for a bit, our orders were placed. 10 minutes must have whizzed by when our first dish was served.

Khao Mok Gai

The Khao Mok Gai reminded me a lot of nasi biriyani. The chicken was extremely moist and tender and the rice deliciously spiced, but it was the sauce that blew me away – it was tangy and rich in coriander. The crunchy deep fried shallots rounded off the entire dish nicely.

Ki Mao

Next up was the Ki Mao, and I am more than happy to report that there were no traces of tomato sauce in sight. The flat rice noodles had a nice bite to it and there was just the right amount of seasoning (not drenched in sauce like some places serve it) with lots of fresh, half-cooked veggies, just the way I like it.

Crying Tiger

I was a little apprehensive about the name Crying Tiger, but all traces of doubt fell away as I sank my teeth into the soft, char-grilled pieces of beef. The meat held its own and I found the sweet chili sauce on the side almost unnecessary.

Tort Mun Pla

The Tort Mun Pla was a dish of deep fried, spiced fish mousse served with roasted basil leaves. Drizzled with a fragrant sauce, this was quite more-ish.

Khanom Craok

Dessert. Finally, the dish I’ve been anticipating. It was everything I dreamed of and more. The crispy exterior easily gave way to a sinfully rich, cococnut custard filling. My first bite had me contemplating buying a whole box to take home, but doing so will surely lead to overkill. Besides, I need another excuse to come back soon!

Kai Nok Gatah and friend banana fritters

The deep-fried desserts were a bit of a disappointment. I thought the Kai Nok Gatah (fried cassava dumplings) were rather bleah. I usually love my banana fritters (known as goring pisang back home), but these were dry and to an extent, made me think of cardboard.

Red Ruby

The Red Ruby was a special which wasn’t listed on the dessert menu. This was surprisingly good, very good in fact. The gelatinous layer on the chestnut pieces were rose-flavoured, something I’ve never had before. I could easily finish a bowl of this on my own.

I forgot to take a picture, but we ended the meal with Thai coffee with condensed milk, just the way we drink our kopi and teh back in Singapore. I never thought there’ll come a day when I would get excited over finding kopi in a resto. Although this is something I can make on my own, it’s somehow more satisfying when someone else makes it for you. Sighs. The things we take for granted!

Oh khanom craok, I’ll be back for you.

Chat Thai
20 Campbell Street

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Chee Cheong Fun

Even having lived overseas for 8 years, I still get hit by the occasional bout of homesickness. Anyone who has been to Singapore must know that food is central to our society, and as such, I've been seeking solace in SE-Asian cuisines whenever I can.

Anyone who has been to yumcha would recognize these cheong fun rice-noodle rolls. Back home, it is known as chee cheong fun and is quite a popular breakfast food. The HK-style cheong fun is more savoury whereas cheong fun is more commonly served with a sweet/savoury sauce in Singapore. Chee cheong fun is extremely easy and takes only 3 minutes to whip up as fresh cheong fun is available in most Asian grocery stores. All you need to do is cut them into bite sized chunks, mix a little hoisin sauce with water to form a thick but runny paste and lace the cheong fun generously with the sauce. Add a good sprinkling of sesame seeds and serve with a little bit of sambal chilli on the side if desired. Sit back and enjoy.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Sometimes, too much of a good thing really can be a bad thing.

Think about it. Apples half the size of your head. Big fluffy pillow-like croissants instead of small, buttery, flaky ones. Slabs of banana bread pumped up to the equivalent size of 3 slices of bread stacked together. Now what they make up for in quantity, they fall short in quality.

I usually buy free range eggs and there was a substantial discount on some large 800g free-range ones. Well, money oftentimes speaks louder and so we thought, what the heck, how different can it possibly be? Oh trust me, when it comes to eclairs, it can take on catastrophic proportions.

The original recipe called for 5 large eggs, so I decided to halve it and go for 2.5 eggs. My first batch of eclairs looked more like a bunch of cooked tongues, all flat and spread out. Zut. Quel q'un se es assis sur les eclairs? Did someone sit on my eclairs? I thought I didn't do the recipe right, so this time I repeated the recipe, but decided to use just 2 eggs instead. The second batch struggled to rise and did so more than the first batch, but probably won by a nano-millimeter. Pffft.

I decided to do a bit of research and found that the problem might be too much egg. To make sure this was the case, I watched a video on Youtube to get a rough idea of what the consistency of the pate choux should be like.

So half stirring and half praying (as I was down to my last 2 eggs), I used 1.5 eggs and voila, the eclairs puffed up beautifully and obediently like mini corn cobs. Taking into mind that this was achieved with one whole egg less, I was a little gobsmacked. These 800g eggs were not just large eggs, they must be extra-large eggs. Shudder.

The creme patissiere on the other hand was a breeze to whip up. I love love LOVE coffee eclairs and substituted melted chocolate with a tbsp of instant coffee instead. It was rich, velvety and simply lovely. I piped the creme into the eclair instead of slicing it into half and spreading it in between. And since we had to keep a chocolate element in the eclairs, I dipped them in a simple dark chocolate ganache made with dark 74% chocolate and thickened cream. My, the combination was so very good.

Let's just say I'm glad I only have to do this once a month or I'll probably end up looking like a choux puff! Merci beaucoup Tony and Meeta for coming up with this splendid idea! You can find the recipe at their blogs.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I love Harris Farm. It's like a supermarket version of a deli in Sydney, stocked with all sorts of lovely foods, fresh or prepared. It's my mini haven to escape into and the minutes just fly by as I take my time to peruse the aisles. I like to come here to stock up on crusty ciabattas, wholemeal lebanese rounds, thick greek yoghurts, dried and fresh fruits, veggies*, nuts and the occasional soft, buttery brioche loaf or slice of gourmet cheese. Every now and then, there will be some new exotic looking produce that will pop up on the aisle. I love trying new things, so if the price is within reason, it will usually end up in my basket.

Dark purplish, ripe with juice and only at 4 dollars a punnet, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to try these. Jaboticabas are native to Brazil and is much likened to the grape. It has a tough, astringent skin which bursts delightfully to reveal its sweet, whitish, half translucent flesh. The seeds, if present, are soft and yielding and can be crunched through easily. Tastewise, the jaboticaba reminds me somewhat of a cross between a mangosteen and logan. Go figure.

Other than eating these fresh, these are apparently frequently used in jams or drinks. I immediately knew what I wanted to use these for - a peanut butter and jaboticaba-jelly sandwich. I've been craving for a PBJ sandwich for some time now and the mere thought of the deliciously salty, crunchy peanuts melding with the sweetness of the jelly had me practically tripping over to the kitchen to get started on the jam.

The skin of the jaboticaba has a lot of tanins and can impart a bitter taste, but the acid in the citrus helps cut through it somewhat. I used orange in place of lime since that was all I had on hand and it turned out beautiful too, although I was a little stronghanded on the orange. All that's left to do now is to simply slather it on a thick slice of mixed grain toast with a good helping of crunchy peanut butter. Now that's comfort food.

Jaboticaba Jam
A batch of jaboticabas

Place the jaboticabas in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover the fruit and bring to boil, then reduce the heat. Let it simmer for about half an hour to an hour, making sure it does not become too dry. Remove from heat and strain the liquid to get rid of the skins and seeds.

Whatever amount of jaboticaba juice you end up with, add an equal amount of sugar and the zest and juice of the limes to taste. Place the saucepan on a low heat to dissolve the sugar and heat until the jam coats the back of a spoon thickly. Remove from heat and place into sterilized jars.

*I'm trying to shift most of my fresh veggies and fruit purchases now to the little local grocerer though. For one, the produce is usually fresher and picked closer to the ripening stage since they are grown in closer proximity, and two, it helps minimize the amount of energy consumption with the reduced transportation.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fresh pasta!

There must come a point in every foodie's life where they just want to try making everything from scratch.

Pasta is one of the essentials in my student pantry, making for a nutritious and delicious meal in just minutes. Therefore it becomes somewhat of an irony that I've never tried fresh pasta. The logic is simple: We don't eat out a lot, and I think having pasta as one of our staples automatically relegates Italian food to the bottom of my list when we do chow out.

So, having nothing better to do one afternoon, I thought why not try making some? Not having a nice, shiny pasta rolling machine wasn't an excuse for me. I mean hey, the good women of Italy have been doing it by hand for ages, no? Everything went fine til the dough rolling stage; this is when "Overzealous" became my middle name. I got slightly carried away, channelling whatever energy I had to make sure it turned out as paper-thin as possible. Let's say I had to practically scrape my lunch off the baking sheet! chuckle. Well, it was worth a try!

Prochaine fois.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Riz au lait, son fondant aux pommes caramelisee et son sirop d'erable

Having come across Linda's "Got Milk?" event in support of breastfeeding, I knew I had to participate. Yes I haven't got any kids yet (and I dont see any in the near future as well), but one thing for sure: when I do, I'm going the au naturel way. I can only imagine it's such a wonderful feeling to be able to nourish and nuture your bub like this.

I've bookmarked this dessert ever since I gleefully flipped open the glossy cover of Natalie Beauvais' "Trop Mad" cookbook. Believe it or not, this is the first cookbook I actually own ever since starting this food blog! To top it off, it's a gift from my bebe which really makes it all the more special. :)

This lovely dessert is a rice milk pudding with caramelised apple puree and maple syrup. It's quite a mouthful, but boy is it a delicious one. The ingredients are simple, basic and wholesome, making the most out of the natural sweetness of maple syrup and apples. Goes in line with the whole idea of breastfeeding hey?

Riz au lait, son fondant aux pommes caramelisees et son sirop d'erable

(Pour 8 personnes)

Le riz au lait:

100g rice
1L whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract (or to taste)
80g caster sugar

Le fondant aux pommes caramelisees:

1 kg apples
80g caster sugar
juice of half a lemon
6 tbsps of sirop d'erable (maple syrup)


Riz au lait: Rinse the rice under cold running water. Place the rice in a heavy bottom saucepan and add 1/4 of the milk together with the vanilla. On a low heat, bring the rice and milk to boil, stirring so that the rice does not burn. When the rice has absorbed all the milk, add the rest of the milk a little at a time, stirring frequently. When the rice is soft and the last of the milk added, add the sugar and combine well. Remove from heat and cool. Set aside.

Fondant au pommes: Wash and peel the apples, dicing them into small cubes. Place the apples, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and cover. Heat over a medium-low flame, stirring now and then to prevent the apples from sticking to the pan. When the apples are soft enough and slightly caramelised, remove from heat and mash. Cool and set aside.

Dressage: To assemble, place a good spoonful of apple puree into a glass. Add 2 good spoonfuls of rice pudding and top off with a tablespoon of maple syrup (or as much as you like). Enjoy!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Fruit Fan Fare! August MBP 2008

With these little babies in season, it’s hard to walk past the fruit stall and not grab a bagful. Especially when the damage is only a mere $2! Oh the pure joy you get when finding a steal extends even to the fruit stall…?

Having bookmarked this recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller for ages, I was glad when the perfect excuse to make it finally came up. Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen is hosting MBP August 2008 with the theme “Fruit Fare”, where fruit has to be incorporated into a dish. One of the rules is also to use a recipe from a fellow blogger, and incidentally, one of my all-time fave bloggers, Jen of Milk and Cookies has also made these and blogged about it before. You can read it here.

These baby lemon cakes were such a breeze to make, and my initial dismay at how little the batter for 2 servings seemed to be were soon turned to relief as I realized how moist and rich these were. Even better was the discovery of lemon-specked honeyed butter which I can see melting so beautifully on a nice thick slice of toast. Sweet heavens.

Served warm, this works out to be a real wintry treat! Try it and I’m sure you’ll love it.

Note: Some changes I made: (1) Instead of using lime, I used lemon. (2) As I didn’t have self raising flour on hand, I used good ol’ plain flour with a little bit of baking powder. (3) Also since I prefer whole foods, honey was used in place of sugar in all cases. (4)Yoghurt was used in placed of sour cream. (4) The passionfruit cream also called for icing sugar, but I omitted that and found it juste parfait. Feel free to add the icing sugar if you feel it isn’t sweet enough.

Baby lemon cakes with Passionfruit Syrup & Cream

Lemon cakes:

125g soft buerre

3/4 cup honey

2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind

3 eggs

1/2 cup yoghurt

1 cup self-raising flour

Passionfruit syrup:

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup lemon juice

pulp from 3 passionfruit

Passionfruit Cream:

300ml thickened cream

pulp from 1 passionfruit

30gm icing sugar, sieved (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 170C. Beat le buerre, honey et lemon rind until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat to combine. Add yoghurt and combine. Fold in flour and spoon mixture into 10 greased and prepared small cake moulds or a muffin tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool.

2. For the syrup, place all the incredients and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and stir over medium high heat. When combined, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 mins or until syrupy. Makes ~ 1 cup.

3. For the cream, combine the ingredients and whisk until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until needed.

4. To serve, pour half the warm syrup over cool cakes and serve with passionfruit cream and extra syrup passed separately.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

It's that time of the month again - and the DB task this time is a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream cake by Carol Walter.

Other than the slight panicky moment when the buttercream would not come together (this was fixed with a little bit of heat), the cake was relatively easy to whip up, having had some experience with Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake. And yes, it did involve a fair bit of creamin' and whippin' and my arm's still aching! I know I know, the call to get an electric mixer is getting ever stronger and resistance could be futile if I continue baking at this rate?

Anyway, shall keep this post short and sweet. Thanks to Chris of Mele Cotte for picking July's DB challenge! :) The recipe can be found at her blog!

PS: My darling boy got me a cookbook by Natalie Beauvais on Bretonne cuisine. I've already dog-earred several recettes! Trop Mad!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pear Hazelnut Torte

When it comes to cooking, I love to do things the good old fashioned way. That means even if I have to cream the life out of butter and sugar to make it 'light and fluffy', I'll roll up my sleeves and put that hand whisk to work. Kneading dough? Nah, put away the dough hook, all you need to enlist is just a pair of strong, soft hands. Coming into such intimate contact with your food also makes you appreciate and understand the different smells and textures of the produce you are using. It is truly a labour of love, and that's a romantic notion I'll gladly stick to.

This hazelnut pear torte however, almost made me cave in to the idea of getting an electric mixer. Yep, almost. I shall stand firm. At a friend's request, I agreed to whip up a birthday cake for a surprise party tonight. Since the birthday boy's Dutch, I wanted to do something almond based, but the curious cat in me couldn't help but be enticed by the little bag of hazelnutnut meal on the shelves. I've never tried cooking with this nut meal before, and if the success of Nutella and Ferro Rocher is anything to go by, I'm sure the humble hazelnut is as much loved as almond, right? Right. Wanting to work with something in season as well, pears were the natural pick.

Alas, my camera decided to play out on me right after taking these few photos, so I couldn't take any at the Spanish tapas resto we ended up at. We had a pretty awesome night - the food was aplenty, the liquids flowed freely and we even had a live flamenco performance! When the cake arrived, I swore I felt a tad jittery - after all this was something I never baked before! (Yes I wonder why I keep doing that) Turned out the last minute decision to put a good scattering of freshly pounded cardamom was a very good call. I am very much partial to cardamom these days and the fragrance was simply lovely. The cake was dense and had a slightly mealy texture interspersed with chunks of soft pears soaked in a little rum. I was told it's reminiscent of a Dutch cake called spekkoek, probably better known as kueh lapis, an Indonesian multilayer spice cake which I happen to be very fond of as well. I'm just happy that everyone liked the cake and am glad to say there were no leftovers!

For the recipe, I left out almost an entire half to three-quarter cup of flour/meal mixture which seemed way too much to me (it might be due to the eggs I used which were smaller). Which is just as well - I've already got plans to whip up another batch of these - juste pour moi! :)

Pear Hazelnut Torte
2 small pears (I used Packham)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup hazelnut meal
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or Chinese five spice (use whatever you have)
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tsps rum
5 cardamom pods (this is quite a lot - reduce if you don't like it too strong)
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

Coarsely chop half of pears and in a bowl toss with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tsp rum. In another bowl, finely slice remaining pears and combine with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tsp of rum.

In a bowl whisk together hazelnuts, flour, baking powder, salt, and allspice. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition, and beat in vanilla and flour mixture until batter is just combined.

Drain chopped pears and stir into batter and spread evenly in pan.

Drain sliced pears and arrange in a concentric pattern over batter. Crush the cardamom pods slightly, remove the skins and pound the seeds to a fine powder. Scatter liberally over the pears. Bake torte in middle of oven 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Cool torte in pan on a rack 30 minutes. Remove side of pan and cool completely. Dust with icing sugar if you wish.

Adapted from Gourmet.