Monday, December 07, 2009

A Citrusy Galette des Rois

I cannot wait. That is, to sink my teeth into all things buttery, yeasty and good. Yep it's less than 2 weeks til I leave for des vacances in France and I'm feeling antsy to get going. I swear I must be hallucinating 'cos I hear all those baguettes and croissants calling out to me, waxing lyrical with their flaky, crusty tones. Aaahhh.

Since my family and friends aren't able to come with me, I felt compelled to whip up a little bit of France for dinner last Saturday. One of my absolute favourites is this lovely citrus version of a galette des rois. It takes only 10 minutes to put together and another 20 minutes before you emerge with a soft, golden pillow, held high with the warm, almond-infused vapours.

I finally got to use the cookbook by Stephane Reynaud that my "tai lo" Ed + Ron got for me when I left for Singapore. :) It is a basic recette for a galette des rois, only zested with orange and pelted with a good squeeze of orange jus. I know you will enjoy it as much as everyone did. Bon ap!

Galette des rois (avec orange)
Adapted from Ripailles Traditional French Cooking by Stephane Reynaud
For 6

2 sheets of puff pastry
150g almond meal
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
150g butter
1 egg yolk
1 medium orange

Mix the almond meal and sugar together. Melt the butter, cool and add to the almond mixture. Add the eggs, zest and juice of one orange. Stir to just combine.

Roll the puff pastry out into 2 circles. Spread the almond mixture onto one of the disks, leaving a 1cm marign all around. Brush the edges with egg yolk and place the other disk on top. Seal.

Using the point of knife, trace a rosette pattern all over the top nad brush with egg yolk. Bake for 30 minutes at 180degC.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Power Truffles

Ever since I have returned to Singapore, I have been spoilt rotten by Mum's cooking and all the cheap eats (not to mention huge variety) out there. So it seems that getting down and dirty in the kitchen has become somewhat of a rare occasion for me.

And the heat. Nom de dieu, it has been stinking hot over here for the past few days. The walk back after lunch must be the only time I feel that happy to be back at work. You can imagine that sweating it out in the kitchen doesn't exactly appeal to me right now, especially where baking is involved. You must surely feel for me when you think about all the excess heat from the oven seeping out when you are already half-cooked in a 30-degree something kitchen. On the upside, you get to fully steam out your pores here. Free facial anyone?

But I suppose I will make my brother's birthday an exception :) (That's for all the years of crap he had to put up with the terror of 3 older sisters in the family!) My bro is an ENORME chocolate lover. The way he whacks chocolate down will put all self-professed chocoholics to shame. I reckon what every Cadbury or Meiji chocolate-maker-wannabe needs to sustain their business is to find one customer like that and you're set for life.

With that in mind, I thought, what better gift is there than some hand-made bittersweet truffles to really ratch up the intensity of chocolate? I was quite excited too as I haven't made these before. I got my hands on the simplest chocolate ganache recipe I could find, ran back to the shop like a madwoman twice because I forgot the cream and got down to work. After trying to shape the balls and watching each ball die slowly with the heat, I decided to skip the coating altogether and go with a soft dusting of cocoa powder.

I still feel like cracking up at my parents' bewildered faces when I dashed past them into my brother's room at the stroke of midnight with a truffle loaded in a little bowl. And in true Singaporean-ness, he popped it in his mouth and said "Damn gao (intense). Power."

Yay for Power Truffles. *chuckle* Happy Birthday little bro! *hugs*

Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles
200g bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped
1 1/4 cup cream
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Heat the cream up in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Take it off the heat and let cool.

Melt the chopped chocolate chunks in a bain marie. Add in the cooled cream and mix. Alternatively, you can heat the cream up and pour it straight onto the chocolate chunks slowly. Mix until smooth.

Firm up the chocolate ganache in the fridge for around 2-3 hours. Using the help of 2teaspoons (I found this much more effective than using my hands), shape the chocolate ganache into balls and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Lightly dust with the unsweetened cocoa powder and let chill in the fridge.

Adapted from Epicurious

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Buckwheat cake (Gateau de blé noir)

Buckwheat. It's grey, it's drab, it looks like Portland cement, but oh how I've come to hold it in complete adoration. Its nutty flavour. Its grainy texture. I love it in all forms - as crunchy grains tossed in a fresh green salad, in delicious buckwheat galettes (oh yes we used to prepare them quite often for dinner), and even as a beverage such as beer! :)

Just the other day, Mum bought some almond-based cherry michel cakes which reminded me of this recipe I came across some time ago on Melissa's much-loved Traveler's Lunchbox blog. Knowing how much Mum enjoys buckwheat like me (and in appreciation of how much laundry she's been doing for me as well heehee), this was one cake that had to be attempted.

Now, before you start going awwwww, cooking for my family isn't like cooking for my friends or for myself and E. Before you even get remotely close to the stove, you get bombarded with a million questions and probably an equal amount of cynical looks from four sets of raised eyebrows. Singapore's a place where you can get plentiful good food anytime, anywhere, so the questions would run from "Are you sure you even know how to ignite the stove" to "Whhhyyy do you even want to cook when you can buy it?". In times like these, I just roll my eyes at them and let my cake speak for itself.

And it defended itself very well. When I bit into a slice at work, I had to hi-five myself. It turned out exactly the way I wanted it to - dark, grainy and lightly zested with orange with a texture akin to fine powdery sablé. I added a good measure of chopped walnuts for an added crunch. The best part? Me Mums loved it. And that totally made my day. :)

Torta di Grano Saraceno (Adapted from The Traveler's Lunchbox)
1 heaping cup (175g) almond meal
1 1/2 cups (200g) buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 large orange and juice from half the orange (or whole,si tu veux)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (175g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g sugar, divided
3/4 cup (180ml) milk
4 eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 cup of walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Grease a 9-inch/23cm springform pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the ground almonds, buckwheat flour, salt, cinnamon, lemon zest and baking powder.

In another bowl, beat the butter and 1 cup (200g) of the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the dry mixture alternately with the milk until everything is well combined.

In a clean mixing bowl and using spotlessly clean beaters, whip the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup (50g) sugar until they form stiff, glossy peaks. Stir one-quarter of the whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then gently fold in the rest. As a final step, fold in the chopped walnuts. Scrape the batter into the greased pan, smoothing the top.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, covering the top loosely with foil if it begins to darken too much. Cool the cake for ten minutes on a rack, then carefully remote the outer ring and cool completely. Store, covered, at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. Dust with a little powdered sugar before serving, if you like. I found it sweet enough though.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Breakfast waffles

Mmm. It's interesting how kitchen aromas draw people like moths to a flame. As I stumbled out from my room, bleary-eyed from a late night out, the delicious smell of breakfast being prepared practically had me tripping over myself to get to la cuisine. It was unmistakably one of the three: crepes, waffles, or pancakes. For a carb lover like myself, you can only imagine the delirious effect of eggs, sugar and flour cooking over the grill has on me.

If you could only see my face when I saw this:

Heh Mum even stacked the waffles on chopsticks to prevent it from getting soggy.

I'm kind of ashamed to say this, but what proceeded was a bit of a mad scramble. (Oh yes, I'm glad no one was around to witness this.) Butter, check. Jam, check., who moved my coffee?? Wandering around for a bit, I finally gave up and settled on some International Roast instant coffee.

Ahh. A kind of quiet satisfaction takes over me as I slather on a small slab of butter and blackberry jam over a warm piece of waffle.

Simple and wholesome. Just the way I like it. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Home sweet home.

Oh my, did time just whizz past or has it really been 4 months since my last updated on this blog? Settling home, after all, does take up quite abit of your time, what with a new job, fervent catch-up sessions with loved ones and slowly clue-ing in on the local scene. Then there was that kitchen renovation that took place in between. Whew. I will definitely post up pics on that sometime soon.

I am kind of embarrassed to say that I haven't cooked at all in these 4 months (save for that one time where my sis and I decided on some fresh packaged ravioli with pesto sauce accompanied by a fantastically refreshing tomato and basil salad). I'm spoilt silly with such a wide variety of food (and at such low costs!) and having hot, home-cooked food ready on the table each time I finish work. Oh yes, the complacent bug did catch on.

Well I dont know what else to say for now 'cept that I would like to roll up my sleeves and give this blog a little kick *chuckle*.

Ah, it's good to be home :)