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!