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.