Saturday, 11 March 2017

Pistachio and Cardamom Cake

Posted by Kim Fong On 7:18 pm


I have this habit... some would call it a vice, of buying recipe books and probably never cook anything from it and it sits nice a pretty on a bookshelf. On a recent walk past this bookshelf, i decided to read a cupcake recipe book. A book don't recall making anything from but it had pages so neatly tabbed. Hmm what did past me like so much in this book she had to tab them. It was with good reason I tabbed those pages. A number of interesting sounding recipes with unique flavour combinations - this one in particular - Pistachio and Cardamom! 

It must be fate I came across this as I had all the ingredients on hand. This will make for a good dessert after a dinner of curry! And indeed it did. I decided to turn this recipe into a cake, rather than cupcake. It just meant altering the cooking time. Admittedly - this cake is nicer a day or two after it's been made, it will be going in the regular rotation! It reminds me of barfi (an Indian sweet) that I grew up with in Fiji, especially when I opened the lid of the blender! YUM!!!

I didn't following the recipe's "suggestion" to serve with a honey yoghurt topping but you're welcome to mix 250g (1 cup) of plain yoghurt with 1 tablespoon with honey. I also added turmeric for some colour and vanilla essence and cinnamon powder for flavour.

Ingredients
Cake
140g (1 cup) pistachio kernels
1/2 tspn ground cardamom (I slipped a bit when I tried to measure out half a teaspoon, so it's closer to 3/4 to 1 tspn)
150g butter, chopped
185g (1&1/2 cups) self-raising flour
170g (3/4) caster sugar - I cut this down to half a cup (125g)
1/2 tspn turmeric
1/4 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn vanilla essence
3 eggs
125g plain yoghurt

Syrup / Glaze
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
100ml water 
rind of 1 lime (grated)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 170C. Line sides and base of a 8 inch / 20cm round cake pan (spring form works well). 

2. Place pistachios and cardamom in a food processor and pulse until chopped and resembles large crumbs. Add butter, flour, sugar, turmeric, cinnamon and process until crumbly (finer crumbs), scrap down sides with spatula if necessary. 



3. Add eggs, vanilla and yoghurt and continue to process until all is combined and resembles a runny cake batter.






4. Pour mixture into prepared cake tin and bake in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Turn cake out and place on serving plate. Poke some holes in the top with skewer/tooth pick to allow syrup to be absorbed by the cake. 





5. While cake is baking, make syrup/glaze but DO NOT over boil this - the syrup will go hard! In a small pot, over low heat place water and sugar. until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to boil and add lime rind and simmer for 5 minutes. Drizzle or brush syrup over warm cake. Decorate cake with a sprinkle of ground cardamom (and honey yoghurt).







Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:18 pm


Following an impulse purchase of a bundt cake tin, it sat among my collection of bakeware for months. Then I received some lemons from my mum, I thought to make use of this tin. I was a bit nervous at first - what if it doesn't come out - it will be stuck there forever! Over dramatic - just a little! After researching an few different blogs, I decided to bite the bullet and use the bundt and make lemon poppyseed cake for my weekly family dinner. It turned out PERFECT-O! Thanks to Sally's Baking Addiction. The cake is moist, not too sweet, great tangy lemon-y flavour. Made this twice more in subsequent days to use up to lemons and share the love.


Below my version of events.


Ingredients:


Cake

2 & 3/4 cups (343g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt (reduce if using salted butter)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1&1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 2 large lemons
juice of 2 large lemons (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature

Lemon Simple "Soaking" Syrup

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
juice of 1 large orange (about 1/2 cup)

Lemon Glaze

1/2 cup (60g) sifted icing sugar
juice of 1/4 large orange or (2 Tablespoons)
At this point I actually used the leftover "soaking syrup" and kept adding enough icing sugar to make a runny paste.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 175C. Greased bundt tin with melted butter thoroughly. Set aside.

2. Sift the flour and cornstarch together into a large bowl. Whisk in the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and poppy seeds. Set aside.


3. Using a cake mixer, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamy and pale. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Beat in the lemon zest and lemon juice. 


4. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick.


5. Pour/spoon the batter evenly into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cover the cake loosely with aluminum foil if you begin to see the top browning quickly. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes inside the pan. Then turn out onto cooling rack.


6. During this time, make the simple syrup. Combine the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.


7. Place warm bundt cake on a large plate or serving dish and spoon the syrup on top of the cake. Allow cake to cool completely.


8. With the leftover syrup whisk in icing sugar to form a thick and runny paste. Do this a tablespoon at a time. Drizzle over cooled cake. Slice and serve.






Saturday, 18 July 2015

Profiteroles

Posted by Kim Fong On 9:10 pm


When someone says "profiteroles" it's usually followed by a "Yum!" reaction from me. Seeing profiteroles (even a picture of one) is usually followed by salivation. Yes I LOVE profiteroles! However, every time I've tried to make it, I'd fail miserably. I had never successfully made choux pastry. I've been through numerous recipes, even a Gordon Ramsey recipe where I watched his video on YouTube! Granted after every failed attempt, I'd sulk until I'd forgotten about my failure. 

In recent times, I've resorted to just buying it or getting others to make it. Especially at Christmas, my cousin Evelyn would bring a batch to the family gathering. Secretly, it was probably the one thing that motivated me to come to these functions.

During the year, my friend's mum would kindly make us a batch occasionally for our dinner parties / board game nights. Impressed every time we saw that platter of cream-filled chocolate covered sweet morsels, I finally got my hands on her recipe. I tried it out and SUCCESS! It was taken from a recipe book supplied with a kitchen electrical appliance of some sort. Who would have thought those picture-less books would have such good recipes!? Oh well, I'm not complaining. In fact, I'm grateful! I'm not going to try any other recipe. I'm not going to try and modify this recipe. That's it! It works and here it is, drop the mic, shut it down. The search ends here!

Huge thank you to Pete and his mum for this recipe! 

Makes about 30 (but this will vary depending on how big/small you like them)

Choux Pastry
Ingredients
80g butter
1 cup water
1 cup plain flour, sifted
4 eggs

Method
1. Preheat over to 220C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

2. Place butter and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to just a boil slowly. 



3. Add flour to the butter water mixture all at once and beat/stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms and leaves the side of the pan. 



Note: Using a wooden spoon doesn't fluctuate the temperature of the mixture. This is important for this recipe.

4. Remove dough from heat and cool slightly. Place dough in a large mixing/stand-mixer bowl. and beat with the paddle attachment on medium for about a minute. This will further cool the mixture. 

5. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each addition. You will notice the texture of the mixture change after adding each egg. After the fourth egg, it will be stiff and shiny. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat for another minute.



6. Fill mixture in a piping bag with a large nozzle (or no nozzle). Pipe rounds of dough onto prepared baking trays. Using wet fingers, push down the peaks of the rounds to avoid them getting more burnt than the rest. If you don't have a piping bag, you can drop tablespoons of dough onto the tray.



7. Bake for 15 minutes at 220C. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DURING THIS TIME. Reduce the heat to 160C and make for another 15 minutes. Turn oven off and make a small slit in each puff and leave in the oven to cool, keeping the oven door open a-jar. 



Creme Patisserie (custard filling)
Ingredients
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup corn starch

Method
1. Place milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.

2. I a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale. Add corn starch and whisk to combine.

3. Slowly pour in hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and continue to whisk. Pour mixture back into pan and keep whisking over medium-high heat until thick. This may take about 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat, cover surface with plastic wrap and set aside to cool. 

Ganache
Ingredients
150g Dark melting chocolate, roughly chopped
70ml thicken cream

Method
1. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just boiled. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir until all chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

Assembling the Profiteroles
Once both custard and choux puffs are cool, fill custard in a piping bag and pipe to fill the choux puffs using the slits you made earlier. 



Gently spoon chocolate mixture over the top of each puff. Set aside or in fridge to allow the chocolate to set. 

Serve fresh! 





Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Arancini Balls

Posted by Kim Fong On 7:39 pm


Combing the aisles of Costco, there has been countless times where I would stare longingly into the freezer window, gazing at the frozen, pre-made Arancini balls. Slowly but surely, I would start salivating like a Pavlov puppy. However, I'm frequently deterred from buying it after reading the list of ingredients. Thinking "Pshhhh! I can make that!". Ha! Never happened...

My most recent visit, I talked myself into buying, only to be shut down by my dear OG - "I'll make it for you!". Here I'm thinking - "YES!!! WOOO!" Then... "we've never made it before, can't be that hard to make - right?"

Researching recipe after recipe around the world - there are fried versions, baked versions. Leave them overnight versions. All sorts of bread crumb types. Some people get really into it with such laborious and elaborate recipes. Which I'm sure it's worth it, if you have the time. For me I was after something simple, tasty and ingredients easy to find. I wanted little fried balls of rice with cheese that are super tasty. Not a tall ask.

So I decided to sorta wing it. And it turned out so well. Oh my goodness! Mmm!
These are great for using up leftover risotto. And I would really only consider making these again should risotto be on the menu.

There really isn't a set recipe. However I've outlined a few simple steps outlined below.

1. Make your favourite risotto. And there are so many types however I'd recommend not a sloppy one. One that is less like porridge or thick soup. Should your risotto be too wet, it won't hold as a ball and I suggest adding flour to your risotto to thicken it up.

2. Stir in a generous amount of grated cheese. Around 1:3 ratio to risotto. I recommend a pizza cheese type mix such as cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan. Ensure the cheese gratings are pretty small. I found some cheese gratings that were bigger to be less suited to ball forming. 

3. Form cheese/rice mixture into balls. The size is up to you. I made them about a ping pong ball size - about 1 - 2 tablespoons. If you want, you could place a piece of soft cheese in the centre.

4. Roll the balls into flour, then beaten egg wash, then panko bread crumbs.





5. Heat oil in a heavy base skillet to about 1 to 2cm deep. The oil is hot when you place a wooden utensil and the oil bubbles around the utensil. Turn heat down to medium.



6. Carefully fry the arancini balls. Be sure not to crowd the pan. Turn after 2 to 3 minutes to fry the other side. 



7. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Serve warm with a sprinkling of grated parmesan. 





Thursday, 18 December 2014

Beef Burgers

Posted by Kim Fong On 10:29 pm



Ever watched cartoon characters eat a burger? You know that perfect bite when they chomp into it and you wish all food was cartoon food. I'm not saying these are cartoon burgers but they're pretty close! Different elements make up this awesome burger which I'll outline in this blog. However what makes a good burger a great burger is the quality of ingredients. You don't need to be all organic and "granola" about it, but be mindful of the ingredients you're putting together and seek out the best you can.

Starting with the bun. It should be soft, not sugary and has some integrity so it doesn't just fall apart when sandwiching a bit of meat.

Moving onto the bacon, if you're using it. It must be smoked bacon. Remember, not all bacon is smoked. Some are cured by other means. Those you should avoid. In Australia, you'll find what they call "streaky bacon". This is the ideal bacon cut for burgers. Take your time with cooking this. Don't add oil to the pan when you're frying this as enough fat will come out of the bacon. Use medium heat and let is crisp up good.

Last but not least the beef. In the past we'd always use store bought mince. Those days are over. We now buy rump steaks and hand mince them. This way, you know what meat is actually in your mince (not offal, bones and cardboard). Remember to include a good ratio of fat to meat (20/80 is ideal). I find rump is a great cut, well priced with good fat ratio. And I hear you asking, "how do you hand mince meat". You don't need a meat grinder. You simply cut the meat fine. I also suggest separating the meat with the fat and cut those up separately then mix it together afterwards. Be sure not to overwork the meat, as in handle it too much. I truly believe home, hand minced beef is the secret to a great burger.

Other ingredients to consider include slowly sauteed onions and mushrooms. Opt for cos lettuce if you can. It has more of a crunch and less water content. Pick a melty cheese. Jack, colby or cheddar are good options.

I'm not going to outline every single step in assembling a burger as everyone has their own "style". Below is a recipe to flavouring of the patty and a few tips we've learnt. Note, the quantities are rough and largely "free pour". So trial and error with your flavours. Add more if you like more flavour, add less if you want to keep it simple.

Patty mix Ingredients
~500g Hand mince beef
1 egg
1/4 to 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
~ 2 Tbpsn tomato sauce/ketchup
~ 2 Tbpsn worcestershire sauce
~ 2 tspn dried (or fresh) parsley, (sometimes I put oregano and minced garlic too).
~ 1 tspn salt
pepper to desired quantities


Patty method
Mix all the above mentioned ingredients together in a large bowl until just combined. Allow to rest and flavours mature. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge or set aside for a few hours.

Portion patties appropriate size to the buns. Roll in balls then flatten. Following my visit to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, I "juicy lucy" -'ed these patties. I put a little piece of cheese in the middle of the patty before frying it.

Fry in a well greased, pan on medium to medium high heat. Tip here is to only flip once. When you flip, you can melt a slice of cheese while the patty is frying on the other side. Another tip: lately we've been frying the bacon first, then cooking the patties in the bacon fat. This definitely adds extra flavour. You could also BBQ the patties for that nice char-grilled flavour.

Construct burger, eat and enjoy!




White Chocolate Mousse with Stewed Raspberries and Macadamia Praline

Posted by Kim Fong On 8:25 pm


I came up with this recipe last year during my ambassadorship with Bulla Cream. I was asked to re-create George Calombaris' Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse with Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears with my own twist. I tried making this with olive oil and it tasted TERRIBLE!! Definitely had to put my own spin on this one. I didn't have any fancy servingware for these. I figured any glass, ramekin or bowl will do fine.

This is a light dessert. Great for those who are gluten free too!

Ingredients
Praline
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup water

Stewed Raspberry
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/3 cup caster sugar

Mousse
100g white chocolate
2 large eggs, separated (room temp)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
300ml thickened cream


Method
Praline
1. In a pot with a heavy base, place sugar and water. Over medium to high heat, allow sugar to boil. Swirl the pot to keep the syrup moving but don’t stir with spoon. This will cause it to crystalize. Keep simmering until about 165 C (use a candy thermometer). This syrup will be at “hard ball” stage (when you dunk some of the syrup on cold water it will be hard). The mixture will also start to turn a bit brown.

2. Spread nuts on a sheet of baking paper over a baking tray. Pour hot syrup over nuts. Set aside to cool and harden.

3. When harden, break pieces up with you hand. If you like the pieces fine, place pieces into a blender and whiz it up.


Stewed Raspberries
1. In a small pan add raspberries and sugar. Over low to medium heat, stew the raspberries until the sugar has melted and bubbles. You’ll find some water come out of the raspberries which is what you want.

2. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.


Mousse

1. In a double boiler melt chocolate until smooth.

2. Using whisk, stir in egg yolks, one at a time until smooth.

3. Using a cake mixer, beat egg whites with sugar and a pinch of salt to form soft peaks.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form.

5. Alternating between egg whites and cream, spoon about a third into the chocolate mixture, starting and finishing with the cream. Carefully stir, not to over mix as to keep the air in the mixture.


Assembling
1. Line the bottom of 4 serving bowls with stewed raspberries.

2. Spoon the mousse over the raspberries and top with praline. Serve with extra macadamia nuts (if you have any spare).






Clam-less Chowder

Posted by Kim Fong On 8:24 pm



Once upon a time I had a shellfish allergy. During the winter months, the thought of a nice creamy seafood chowder was so delectable! Feeling disappointed every time, OG made me this chowder minus the seafood. Mmm it was delicious! I'm glad that now I can have it with clams, but I wouldn't hesitate to recreate this soup. 

Ingredients
150 g streaky bacon, diced
4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 onion, diced
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 large stick of celery, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 tblspn parsley
1 tsp dill
5 average sized mushrooms
3 tsp corn starch, dissolved in about 1/4 cup water
100 ml milk (as desired)

Salt & pepper to taste
100ml cooking cream (regular cream that doesn't split when cooking)

Method
1. On high heat, fry bacon and set aside leaving residual fat in pan. 

2. Return pan to heat and fry onions until translucent, add celery and garlic, stir to combine. Add dried herbs and potatoes. Stir. 

3. Add stock, and bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until potatoes are soft (the longer you leave cooking the more the potatoes break down and the thicker your soup gets). This usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes (time dependant on how big your potato cubes are). Add mushrooms when potatoes are partly cooked. 

4. Stir in prepared corn starch and water. This will help to thicken the broth.

5. Reduce heat to low. Add bacon, cream and milk, and stir to combine. Season to taste (add more milk to reduce to salt level). Serve with crispy toast.





 
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