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Archive for May, 2009

I know I’ve no reason to go missing now that I’ve settled in to Sydney. However….remember how I said Sydney has not treated me well?! Sighz…since coming here, we’ve had nothing but bad luck one after another. The last misfortune to befall upon me (hopefully it’s the last), is the crash of my hardrive! I lost EVERYTHING in my hardrive! All my photos, my recipes, my documents – EVERYTHING!! As a result, I had nothing for me to blog on as all my food pictures died with it! 

Thankfully I’ve still got the DB-ers to fall back on! If it wasn’t for the fact that I’d joined this group, with my crazy lifestyle here, I’ve not had time to cook a decent meal in a long time. So it is with great honour and joy for me to announce this month’s DB challenge. The May 09 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of “make life sweeter! ” and Courtney of “Coco Cooks“. They’ve chosen Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

 

As with many of the previous challenges, this was my first strudel and with it came all the excitement of making something new! I thought I’d try a classic apple strudel, a savoury chicken and mushroom strudel and something with a bit of a twist – strawberry and ricotta strudel. I’m not sure whether it’s cos I kneaded my dough too much, or if I didn’t roll it out thinly enough, but my strudel didn’t come out as flaky and thinly layered as it should be. Hhmm…it looked and tasted more of a cross between a puff pastry and shortcrust pastry. Oh well, at least the filling was nice. I’ll definitely attempt the recipe again – perhaps with a mango filling! Mmmm…yum! :)

Recipe

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Strudel Dough:
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Dig a hole in the middle of flour, add the water/oil mixture to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.

2. Continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.

3. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

4. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

5. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Note: I used canola oil as I didn’t have vegetable oil at home. Instead of cider vinegar, I used white wine vinegar. As for the table cloth, I used bedsheet! :)

Apple Filling:

4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
About 8-10 tbsp of raw sugar
3/4 cups raisins
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 – 2 tbsp apple mead

1. Cut apple into chunks. Place all ingredients except for mead into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat. 

2. Allow it to simmer slowly and soften, approximately 10 minutes. 

3. Turn off the heat and add the mead. Stir it in well and leave it to cool. 

Chicken and Mushroom Filling:

2 pieces chicken breast fillet
10 swiss brown mushrooms
A handful of fresh sage
1/2 tin campbell’s chicken and mushroom soup
A block of camembert cheese

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add chicken and salt and allow it to boil. 

2. In the meantime, slice mushrooms and place into a large bowl. Once chicken is cooked, shred it into thick, chunky slices and add to mushrooms.

3. Add sage and chicken and mushroom soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Strawberry and Ricotta Filling:

1 punnet strawberries, washed and halved
About 8-10 tbsp of raw sugar
1 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp strawberry liquer
Ricotta cheese

1. Place strawberries and sugar into a saucepan and cook over medium heat. 

2. Allow strawberries to soften and sugar to caramelize. Add in brandy and liquer and just simmer briefly.

3. Pour into a bowl and allow it to cool.

Assembling – Apple and Chicken&Mushroom:

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

2. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described above. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. 

3. Spread the filling about 3 inches from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch wide strip. For chicken, top filling with cheese. 

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Assembling – Strawberries and Ricotta:

1. Cut dough into square pieces. You’ll find that when you lift it up with your hands, it doesn’t hold its shape as the dough’s really thin.

2. Melt some butter in a pan. Lightly brown dough and drain on kitchen towel.

3. Layer with strawberries, a dollop of ricotta. Top with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with some sauce from strawberry filling. 

Note: While typing out this post, I realised why my strudel wasn’t flaky. I missed out the most important step – the spreading of the butter and breadcrumbs! Darn! Guess now I’ve got the perfect excuse to make a mango strudel! :)

 

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As promised, this is the second part to my Sydney updates. The second lot of friends we had over for dinner were Kaye and Yina with with their respective partners. Kaye and I go way back. We’ve known each other since high school, after I “saved” her ex-boyfriend :) . We then went to college and uni together. Over the years we’ve drifted apart due to our lifestyles and distance. However, since relocating to Sydney, we’ve rediscovered this friendship all over again. 

 

Being a very asian crowd, I opted for a classic Malaysian/Singaporean favourite – Hainanese Chicken Rice. Although the dish is a “one pot – all done” sorta dish, it requires a bit of time and effort when preparing it. Trust me though, the meal is worth every ounce of effort put into it! :)

 


Soup:

Ingredients:

  • Chicken frame
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery

Method:

  • Bring a pot of water to boil. Add chicken frame and allow it to boil for a few minutes. This will allow all the crap to come out from the frame. 
  • Bring a kettle to boil. Throw the whole pot of water away and give it a good wash. Run chicken frame under cold water to stop the cooking.
  • Place all ingredients into the pot and bring it to the boil. Cover the lid and place on lowest heat. Allow soup to boil over low heat for a few hours. 

 

Hainanese Chicken:

Ingredients:

  • A whole chicken or chicken pieces (drumsticks, chicken wings, chicken breasts)
  • Spring onions, cut into half inch pieces
  • Garlic, crushed and peeled
  • Ginger, slices into think slices
  • Soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Salt, pepper and sugar
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Container of ice water
  • Cucumber, sliced thinly for serving

Method:

  • Place chicken in a large container and marinade with all the ingredients (except for the ice water and cucumber). Leave for a few hours. 
  • About 1-2 hours before dinner, cook the chicken. 
  • Place a bucket with ice water on the side. Bring soup to boil over medium-high heat. 
  • Blanch the chicken, 1-2 minute at a time, a couple of times, carefully lifting it in and out of the pot, try not to bruise the skin. 
  • Remove the chicken and dunk in cold water. This is so the flesh stays firm and the skin is sealed. 
  • Drain soup into another pot or ladle out as much of the stuff as possible. Bring it to a boil and leave it to boil for a couple of minutes. This is because you’ve previously blanched raw chicken in the soup so some of the impurities would have gotten in. Giving the soup a good boil will help minimize the risk of salmonella. 
  • Now, put all chicken pieces into the pot, cover the lid, turn off the heat and leave it for an hour. Make sure that chicken pieces are fully submerged in soup. 

Rice:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of rice, washed and drained well
  • 4.5 cups of chicken soup
  • Big knob of butter
  • Garlic, crushed and peeled
  • Ginger, sliced thinly
  • Salt, to taste

Method:

  • Heat a wok on high heat, add butter and melt. 
  • Add garlic and ginger. Fry till fragrant. 
  • Add rice and give it a good toss. Season with salt according to taste.
  • Place everything into a rice cooker and top with chicken soup. Cook. 
  • When rice is done, remove lid and allow it to evaporate a little. This will allow rice to be grainy and less soggy. 

Chilli Dip:

Ingredients:

  • Ginger, big knob (about 2-3cm) – sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Spring onion, just the white part – sliced
  • Red chillies – a mixture of chilli padi and red chillies
  • Salt and sugar, to taste
  • Little bit of chicken soup

Method:

  • Place all ingredients into a blender/food processor (or use a pestle and mortar). Give it a good whisk. 

Serving:

  • Arrange chicken pieces and cucumber slices attractively on a large plate. Sprinkle some spring onion on top.
  • Serve with rice and dipping sauce.

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