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Mac…mac…macaroon…

 

 

Yes, once again, I’m late for this month’s Daring Baker challenge!! Sorry!! I only just got back from work after 14 hours on my feet…surely that’s a good enough reason! :p

I’m gonna keep this short and sweet as I’m so tired I’m about to collapse. My bed and pillow and calling out to me with urgency! The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe. When I first read about macaroons on fellow DB’s blog – Tartelette, I’ve been wanting to make these. Sadly, mine didn’t turn out as nice as hers. Oh well, now I’ve got an excuse to try these out again! :)

Ingredients:
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Filling: Chocolate Orange Ganache

Ingredients:
300ml thickened cream
300gms dark bittersweet chocolate
Juice of 2 orange
Brandy, to taste

Directions:

1. Place chocolate and cream in a bowl and heat over boiling water till chocolate is melted.

2. Add orange juice and brandy.

3. Allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and allow it to thicken.

Vols-au-Vent

Yes yes, I know! I’m late!! The DB challenge reveal date was yesterday and I’m exactly 24hours late! :p Oh well, better late than never! Hopefully this doesn’t get me into trouble though.

I’ve been missing in action for a while. I know you guys are probably sick of hearing me say it’s cos I was too busy with work. Sadly, it’s the truth though. Although I have to add that I’ve been lazy as well. Working anywhere up to 50 hours a week, you tend to want to do nothing on your off days! That’s my life now. Sundays have been designated as my “Do Nothing” day. Guess, I’m going to need to designate one of my days as blogging day! :p

Having missed the last 2 DB challenges, it’s time I join the party once again.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Ever since I watched the Youtube video of Gordon Ramsay’s beef wellington, I’ve been wanting to make my own puff pastry. So this was my chance to experiment! Sadly, this month’s challenge was not as smooth sailing as I’d expected. With limited time, I made a batch of pastry last week and left it in the fridge with the intention of finishing it off the next day. Well, the next day become the next, followed by the next and the next. By the time I finally got around to it yesterday, the colour of the dough didn’t look right and it looked like stuff had grown on it. SO into the bin it all went! I had to rush and make a new batch this morning. Therefore explaining the reason behind the lateness of my post.

With my vols-au-vents, I decided to make a breakfast special of your classic eggs and bacon. Another mishap occurred with the eggs. For some reason, I couldn’t turn out any poached eggs at all even after 3 attempts! Oh well! I also made some filled with Tassie smoked salmon, crème fraîche, capers and dill. With the leftovers, I made Alan’s favourite – SAUSAGE ROLL!! :p

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that’s about 1″ thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10″ square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with “ears,” or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don’t just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8″ square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24″ (don’t worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24″, everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24″ and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you’ve completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Hhmm…this month’s DB challenge was one interesting challenge – not just in its name but also in the combination of the dessert itself! With a base of shortcrust pastry, filled with jam and topped with a nice, spongy layer – tell me isn’t this an unusual dessert?! :)

June 2009 daring baker’s challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of A Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history back to the 1800’s in England. Some say it is a tart while some say it is a pudding…well, I’ll let you decide if it’s a tart or a pudding…my verdict is that it’s a tart but who cares! It’s the taste that matters! :)

For the jam filling, I’ve chosen to make my mum’s famous pineapple jam. As a kid, mum used to make this jam every Chinese New Year for her famous pineapple tarts. I still remember many a time where I complained about being forced to help her with this stupid task. Now, overseas and alone, one misses simple joys such as this.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Ingredients:

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract (optional)
4 tbsp cold water

Method:

  • Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
  • Lightly beat the egg yolks with the vanilla extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
  • Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Frangipane

Ingredients:

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
125g (4.5oz) almond meal
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Method:

  • Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy.
  • Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle but don’t worry it’ll be fine.
  • After all three are in, pour in the vanilla extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again.
  • With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Pineapple Jam

Ingredients:

2 pineapples
4 cloves
Raw sugar, to taste (approximately 2-3cups, I didn’t measure)

Method:

  • Clean and peel pineapple. Cut into chunks.
  • Place pineapple into a blender and add some water. Blend it but don’t overdo it as you want the pineapple pulp.
  • Run it through a sift but not till juice is fully drained. Leave a little juice with the pulp.
  • Heat a non-stick pan or pot on medium heat. Add a little bit of oil followed by pineapple pulp.
  • Add sugar and stir it well. You’ll most likely have to adjust sweetness later so don’t add too much sugar at early stage.
  • Allow it to slowly cook over low-medium heat. Give it a stir every 10-15 minutes just to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  • Jam will slowly thicken and turn a nice golden brown colour. Add sugar to taste. If you want it drier then cook a bit longer. If not, remove from heat and allow to cool when it is sticky and semi-dry.
  • Refrigerate when cool. Store in an airtight container.

Assembling the tart:

  • Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.
  • Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll.
  • When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  • Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base.
  • Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.
  • The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
  • When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Winter is here!

Wow! Can you believe it?! Winter is here! Half the year has just passed us by without us realising it! Man! Talk about time flying! I’ve now officially been in Sydney for 6 months. Winter here is so different from Hobart! Iy’s probably averaging about 15C here and people are wrapped up in scarves and thick winter coats! On top of that, we actually get clear, blue skies with sunshine in winter!Sydney siders sure get a watm winter in comparison to the rain and snow in Hobart!  People who know me will know that my favourite season of the year is in fact spring, but people who don’t know me that well think it’s winter! This is because I abolutely LOVE the cold! Trust me, when I say I love it, I really literally love the cold! I love the thought of laying in bed with a hottie, snuggled between my doona, hot cup of tea in my hands, a good book or movie – man the luxuries of winter! And above it all, SNOW – my favourite part of winter! Every year in Hobart, whenever the mountain snows, I switch into a 5 year old kid all over again! I get all excited, and people around me are dragged up the mountains with me cos I NEVER get bored of the snow! :)

People often say that winter months don’t favour the females especially since we eat and can’t stop eating! Well, in my case, I just wanna cook. I don’t particular enjoy or savour my own cooking, but I love cooking up a storm! It’s really sad that now I don’t have the luxury of time to cook whenever I want to. Who knows what I mean when I say that you aer just too drained – emotionally, mentally and physically – when you get home from work that the most decent meal you can whip up is something instant? Well, that’s my life in short now.

Well, I finally reached the brink of my cooking/baking deprivation so on my day off last week, I whipped up a storm in the kitchen! This here was one of my creations of the day – sticky date pudding! Alan and I often visit Badde Manor in Glebe – whether it’s for lunch, dinner, tea or dessert. (Yeah, we are quite boring people! :) ) They’ve got this simply divine sticky date pudding there, of which I can never resist! Well, when I saw this recipe in the Donna Hay winter pullout from the Sunday Telegraph, I knew that I HAD to make it! Boy! It was so simple it was unbelievable! Yum! Sweet, warm, gooey and melt in your mouth – simply irresistible! :)

Sticky Date Pudding

adapted from Donna Hay – June/July 09 Winter Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self raising flour

Toffee Sauce:

  • 150g butter, chopped
  • 1 cup single cream
  • 1  1/2 cups brown sugar

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a square cake tin and line with baking paper.
  • Place dates, water and bocarbonate of soda in a bowl and stand for 5 minutes.
  • Place date mixture, butter and sugar in a blender and process till well combined.
  • Add eggs  and flour and process till just combined.
  • Pour into tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or till cooked.
  • Cool in the tin for 10-15minutes then cut into square.

Sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir till butter is melted. Bring to the boil and cook till thicken slightly.
  • Serve pudding with sauce and ice cream or double cream.

    Notes:

    • Recipe processes ingredients for pudding in a food processor. I don’t have one so into the blender it went!
    • Pudding can be cut into squares and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Heat it up briefly before serving.

      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! :)

       

               

       

       

       

      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.

      A Classic Favourite

       

      Well, well, well….another month has passed and once again I bring to you this month’s DB challenge. We have gone back to the good, old classic – everyone’s (or nearly everyone’s) favourite – cheesecake. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes and she has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. The DB-ers had the freedom to do anything they wanted with this cake – flavours, decoration – everything entirely up to you – basically the sky is your limit! 

       

      I’ve probably mentioned before that Alan’s favourite dessert is cheesecake. If he could, he’d have cheesecake and only cheesecake for his 3 meals! However, he’s a really classic and traditional eater so in order to ensure someone finishes this cake, I had no choice but to succumb to his classic tastes. :( In the end, I decided on passionfruit and lime – something to celebrate the near end to fresh summer fruits. 

       

       

      Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake:

      Ingredients:

      Crust:
      2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs

      1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted

      2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar

      1 tsp. vanilla extract

      Cheesecake:
      3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature

      1 cup / 210 g sugar

      3 large eggs

      1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream

      1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)

      2 fresh limes – juice and zest

      4 fresh passionfruit

      Method:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

      2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

      3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lime juice, lime zest and passionfruit and blend until smooth and creamy.

      4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

      5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

      Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

       

       

       

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