Monday, November 01, 2010

Orange-zested mexican wedding halloween spiders

29 years on, we still find ourselves getting all excited over halloween and costumes. Heck, there was even a theme this year with some of us honing in on our long-forgotten art & crafts skills to make insect wings, flower headgears and what not. We also tried downing shots of a wonderfully-scented vanilla vodka, but only 2 managed to finish that vile liquid. Foie gras is indeed very toothsome but not when you own one ya know.

Well, here's to that special bunch of never-say-die besties who just know how to keep you on your toes and young @ heart always. Love you guys.

These are mexican wedding cakes made with orange zest and almond meal. I stuck raisins for the eyes and Pocky chocolate sticks for the legs when the cookies were still warm.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A boule to call my own

i can only imagine that the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven evokes warm, comforting, cozy thoughts for most people. the promise of a crusty, soft loaf is enough to make anyone go weak in the knees, no? or maybe more so for bread people like me. i love 'em all - flat, leavened lebanese rounds, puffy golden brioche, baguettes, ciabattas, chinese-style mantous, japanese an-pans, wholewheat name it, i eat it!

it is an unfortunate thing that breads are getting taken over by substandard supermarket toasts that are designed for maximum shelf life and which really don't do much good for your insides i reckon. enriched with omega 3 and iron (read: reduced iron powder)? um, no thanks, shouldn't bread be made up of just water, yeast, salt and sugar? what's more in singapore, loaves like those i used to buy at harris farm in sydney are either not so readily available or are eye-poppingly expensive.

so, the most obvious next step would be to bake my own bread. eeaassy, right?

my first baguette was solid enough for a baseball bat that will make any burglar think thrice about stepping into our place. the second loaf i made was only slightly softer, but the only happy camper ended up being my dog. so when i finally decided to give jamie oliver's white bread recipe a last chance, boy was i glad i did.

mmm mmm MMMm. this actually turned out pretty darn nice. i cut myself a nice thick slab, slid it into the toaster and 2 minutes later, i was thoughtfully chewing through a lightly crusted, yeasty slice. i know this might sound awful for most people, but i think there's something rather earthy about the taste of yeast in bread. absolutely divine.

now i just got to figure a way not to polish off the loaf too quickly...*chuckle*

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gateau Breton

i have never been one for fussy, fancy know, the ones with pretty foams and intricate sugar-spun webs and so forth. that's not to say that i do not admire them - in fact i'm constantly wow-ed by those who are able to push the boundaries and limits of creativity to entirely new heights. these masterpieces are works of art and is an area i'll much rather leave to the geniuses to sort out. :)

rather, i have always been drawn to food for the tradition and culture. there's nothing i love more than to pore over articles, videos and blogs on the everyday foods that sustain and nourish people all over the world. there's something inexplicably soothing in the scene of women preparing leavened bread with their hands, or indian field workers sitting down to a simple but energy-packed lunch of uncooked dough and chutneys. these may seem like simple daily roles, but roles which others live and rely on nonetheless.

and since most communities lived frugally, one can expect that their dishes usually contained a few simple ingredients thrown together, which in my opinion, brings out the flavour of each component. such is this gateau breton from Brittany, made simply out of butter, sugar, flour and eggs. well, anything with butter catches my breath, and this is no exception. it is oh-so-especially good when dunked into a bowl of hot, fragrant coffee.

you can download the recipe from here. just some pointers: i substituted hazelnut meal for almond and it turned out equally good. also left out the glaze as i saw no point in wasting a whole egg for that. you can do that though if you want to serve up a prettier cake ;) finally you might want to cut down on the sugar - i found it a little bit too sweet, but it's a personal preference. Hope you enjoy your little bit of tradition!