Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Fall and A Crack

After the relationship is over, it is time to start taking care of myself even more. It is typical, crucial and the best that one can do in such situation. The focus has now shifted from two to one.

Thinking about doing just that reminds me of a small accident I had when I was with C - one Sunday afternoon I fell from my bed and my right back landed on the edge of the bed frame. The pain followed almost instantly. The muscle pain relief cream didn't seem to work as usual so two days later I went to see a chiropractor. He referred me to an internist who did a thorough checkup on my back and requested an X-ray. The result came out showing an early crack on one of my right rib segments and the doctor put me on medication right away .

I was worried and totally refrained from all exercises and yoga practices. The doctor also advised me to consume more Calcium which raised the occasion for me to cook something that contained the rich-in-Calcium anchovy. And that was how this Fried Curry Cucumber with Anchovy came into place.

The following two weeks I went back for another X-ray and the result confirmed that the rib segment had recovered itself. It was a true relief! Writing down the recipe for this dish just brought back that memory...

Serves 3 persons

- Cucumber – peel, remove seeds, cut into batons 5-6 cm long and around 1.5-2 cm thick > 150 grams
- Dry anchovy > 100 grams
- Green Smith apple – peel, core, slice into 1 cm thick segments > 1 or 75 grams
- Enokitake mushroom > 120 grams
- White cabbage – coarsely shred > 175 grams
- Dry bay leaves > 7
- Curry powder > 3 teaspoons
- Soya sauce > 4 teaspoons
- Granulated sugar > 3 teaspoons
- Red chillies – halve diagonally > 3
- Cucumber – grate coarsely > 25 grams
- Mint > 2 leaves

- Preheat pan and fry anchovy until fragrant.
- Add white cabbage shreds and apple segments and fry for a short while.
- Fold in cucumber batons, enokitake mushroom, curry powder and bay leaves.
- Season with soya sauce and granulated sugar.
- Before remove from fire, add chillies.
- Serve hot. Garnish with cucumber shreds and mint leaves.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Daring Bakers' Milan Cookies

This particular challenge reminded me of baking macaron. Well, the piped batter looked like macaron but the flattening effect and final result resembled baking lady finger.

Despite the early thought of baking just Mallows recipe, I ended baking both and felt totally pleased making the decision to bake this very special Milan cookies. The recipe is easy to follow and the process is straight forward. Don’t know whether anyone of you ever baked Hokkaido Snow White Cookies which are 2 very thin pieces of butter cookies sandwiched with a layer of white chocolate. The outcome is pretty close even though the latter is done by rolling and cutting dough instead of piping.

The blend of vanilla and lemon extract brought the best out of this cookies. Having said that I think you shouldn’t miss trying out this recipe if you ever think about baking for an afternoon tea. Thanks to Nicole from Sweet Tooth for selecting this simple yet fabulous recipe!

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

This recipe is courtesy of Gale Gand. Have made some adjustments for my own convenience. The original recipe can be found here.

Makes 47 pieces

1. Cookies

- Salted butter – soften in room temperature > 85 grams
- Icing sugar > 130 grams
- Egg whites > 3
- Vanilla essence > 1 tablespoon
- Lemon essence > 1 tablespoon
- All purpose flour > 94 grams

- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Cream butter and icing sugar until pale.
- Add egg white gradually and then mix in vanilla and lemon essence.
- Fold in flour and mix well.
- With a small (1/4 inch) plain tip, pipe 1 inch sections of batter onto parchment-lined tray, spacing them 1.5 inches apart as they spread.
- Bake at 180C for 8 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on tray.

2. Chocolate Filling

- Semi sweet chocolate – chop > 120 grams
- Whipping cream > 54 grams
- Orange zest > ½ orange

- Prepare chocolate in a bowl.
- In a small saucepan scald cream over medium fire.
- Pour hot cream into chocolate bowl. Whisk to melt chocolate. Add zest and mix well.
- Set aside to cool. The mixture will be thick.

3. Assembly

- Spread a thin amount of chocolate filling onto the flat side of a cookie.
- Press the flat side of the second cookie on top of filling.

Daring Bakers' Mallows

It is a blend of 3 different elements: baking butter cookies, preparing marshmallows and coating chocolate truffles! For those who are up to a more complicated challenge, this is what you are looking for. I found it quite a hassle having to wait 2 hours to get the marshmallow to dry prior to coating the cookies with chocolate, but totally loved decorating the cookies with patterns of marshmallow.

Another thing is I couldn’t figure out what I was going to do with the leftover marshmallows. So I piped them on the parchment paper, but then they were all glued to it once they were dried. Couldn’t seem to be possible to separate them from the paper. Should I bake them first??? The only solution I saw was that I should just prepare less portion of the marshmallow recipe, afterall I am not really a marshmallow fan.

This particular challenge just gave me the thrill to play around with different shapes of cookie cutters. While deciding on the shape of the cookies, think in advance what kind of marshmallow pattern would be nice on it. This will save time during the marshmallow piping process. Out of my curiosity I also played around with different kinds of spices for the cookies: cinnamon, cloves, mocca, and Chinese five spices. My preference is cloves!

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

This recipe is courtesy of Gale Gand. Have made some adjustments for my own convenience. The original recipe can be found here.

Makes 300 pieces

1. Cookies
Prepare : cookie cutters in various shapes, sizes range 1 - 1.25 inches

- All purpose flour > 188 grams
- Granulated sugar > 56 grams
- Salt > 1/4 teaspoon
- Baking powder > 1/2 teaspoon
- Baking soda > 1/4 tablespoon
- Salted butter > 85 grams
- Eggs - whisk together >1.5
- Ground cinnamon > 1 teaspoon
- Ground cloves > 1 teaspoon
- Mocca paste > 1 teaspoon
- Chinese five spices > 1 teaspoon

- In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
- On low speed, add butter and mix until sandy.
- Add eggs and mix well.
- Divide dough into 4 portions. Fold in different flavoring in each portion - ground cinnamon, ground cloves, mocca, and Chinese five spices.
- Form dough into 4 disks, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
- When ready, line baking tray with parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 190C.
- Roll dough into 3mm thickness on a floured surface. Use cookie cutter to cut out pieces of dough. Use different shape for different flavor.
- Transfer to tray and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate tray 180 degrees and continue baking for 5 more minutes until the cookies are light golden brown.
- Leave to cool.

2. Marshmallow

- Water > 23 grams or 1/8 cup
- Light corn syrup > 33 grams or 1/8 cup
- Sugar > 84 grams
- Powdered gelatine > 4 grams or ½ tablespoon
- Cold water > 9 grams or 1 tablespoon
- Egg white – room temperature > 1
- Vanilla essence > ¼ teaspoon

- Sprinkle gelatine over cold water and let dissolve.
- In a saucepan combine water, corn syrup, and sugar and bring to boil at “soft boll” stage or 115C.
- Remove syrup from heat and add gelatine. Mix well.
- Beat egg white until soft peaks form. While stir beating pour hot syrup into the whites.
- Add vanilla essence and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Transfer to a piping bag and cut very little at the tip.
- Pipe pattern on the cool cookies. Let set in room temperature for 2 hours.

3. Chocolate Coating

- Semi sweet chocolate > 180 grams
- Cocoa butter or vegetable oil > 30 grams

- Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water. Stir constantly.
- Line a tray with parchment paper.
- One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate coating.
- Lift out with a fork and let excessive chocolate drip back into the bowl.
- Place on tray and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Everything seems to be black when a relationship ends. When I come back into my empty room, there is a void - hollow feeling that someone that was once warmly occupying every corners of my space had vanished. Some of his belongings are still lying around not knowning that things have changed. Could still remember the laughter and jokes which were once shared so intimately. And four and a half months of memories ... sweet and bitter!

These all seem unavoidable as I slowly let go of my misery, embrace myself and assure that I will make it through, all over again... alone!

Of all the black sadness and loneliness, I am glad a red tint of comfort splashes through my heart telling myself that I have done the right thing. Choosing to love myself more when the other just couldn't care less. People can come and go into my life, but I will always be there for myself...

Makes 10 macarons

1. Black Sesame Macarons

Prepare: 1 big baking tray lined with a Silpat or parchment paper

Ingredients :
- Egg white > 70 grams
- Sugar > 50 grams
- Icing sugar > 90 grams
- Ground almond > 45 grams
- Ground black sesame > 25 grams

Method :
- Combine icing sugar, ground black sesame and ground almond. Sieve.
- Whip egg white until frothy. Add sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
- Fold almond and icing mixture gradually into the egg white in 2 additions. Mix carefully with a spatula until batter is shiny and flowy like magma.
- Fill batter into piping bag tipped with a plain circular nozzle and pipe into a circle with a diameter of 3 cm. Piping makes 20 pieces.

- Leave to rest until surface of these pipings are flat and dry or when touched, it doesn't stick to our finger.
- Preheat oven at 150°C.
- Bake at 150°C for 8-10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 125°C, turn tray 180 degrees and continue baking for 8-10 minutes.
- Cool on the rack and detach from Silpat or parchment paper.

2. Black Sesame cream

Ingredients :
- Whipping cream > 50 grams
- Sesame paste > 20 grams

Method :
- Beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Add black sesame paste and mix thoroughly.

3. Assembly

- Fill black sesame cream into piping bag and pipe on the macaron. Top with the other macaron to form like a sandwich.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What Heart Desires

Apparently holiday did make things clearer for me. After attending my nephew's wedding and spending a lot of time with my family members and friends, and contemplating about life while I was on my own, I finally figured out my relationship with C has come to the end.

My mind was trying to rationalize things and gave the relationsip more benefit of the doubt to go on, but my heart sailed to a very clear water settling for a breakup. "Be wise!" I told myself, "Follow what my heart desires cause in it lies the truth about love!".

A good friend disclosed her current involvement with someone whom she called "a soulmate" as "If 2 people are meant to be for each other, things will just flow smoothly!" I looked back into my relationship with C, I saw isolation... pain... difficulties.... where was the smoothness, if any?

Four and a half months down the road I saw light..... I without him!

Serves 3 persons

- Spaghetti > 200 grams
- Water > 1.5 litres
- Salt > 1.5 teaspoon
- Olive oil > 4.5 tablespoons
- Garlic - chop > 6 cloves
- Big onion - chop > 1/2
- Green beans - cut into 5mm thick rounds > 100 grams
- Enokitake mushrooms - shred > 100 grams
- Green olive - halve > 8
- Parsley - chop > 15 grams
- Cheddar cheese - grate > 100 grams

- Cook spaghetti in boiling water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until spaghetti is slightly soft but still crunchy. Remove from fire and drain.
- Mix 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil into spaghetti to prevent it from sticking together.
- Set aside.
- Saute garlic and onion with 3 tablespoons of olive oil until it is fragrant.
- Add green bean rounds and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir.
- Next, fold in enokitake mushrooms and green olive.
- When green bean is almost cooked, add spaghetti and parsley. Continue cooking for a short while.
- Toss in grated cheese and remove from fire.
- Serve hot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Daring Cooks' Skate, The Traditional Flavors Powdered

Just came back from my holiday to catch up with the Daring Cooks Skate, The Traditional Flavors Powdered. 2 exciting weeks have gone by and I have with me so many new ingredients, spices, ideas and props from both Jakarta and Singapore to put together for many new posts to come.

Yeah, it is time to get back into the kitchen and get face to face with Molecular Cuisine. I am totally new to it. In fact, frankly speaking I had my fear to get involved with the hassles of dehydration and powdering process. But reading through other DCs’ experiments in DC Forum I built my confidence to at least give it a shot. Having one go at it, I could say I am convinced this is a knowledge every DC should have once in a very long time! And seems like I have the itch to quickly get hold of Alinea Cookbook!

Upps, couldn’t find Skates or Cod or Founder in the local supermarket. How about White Sea Bass? Well, it poached just fine within 2 minutes as instructed. Do I still get to keep the name “Skate, The Traditional Flavors Powdered” or now more like “White Sea Bass, The Traditional Flavors Powdered”?

About the powder, I should agree with most of MCs’ comments: the red onion powder tastes superb and brings the best out of the dish!

Thanks to Sketchy of Sketchy’s Kitchen for hosting Daring Cooks’ July Challenge and introduced us to the mysterious charm of Molecular Cuisine. The dish is from Grant Achatz found in the Alinea Cookbook page 230. Have followed quite closely the given recipe and only made minor adjustments for my own convenience. For original recipe, click here.

Serves 4 persons

1. Parsley Powder
Makes 5 grams

- Parsley – tear leaves apart from stalks, discard stalks > 50 grams

- Blanch parsley in boiling salted water for a second or two. Plonk it in an ice bath. Drain.
- Gently dry it in paper towel before finally laying it out on plate lined with paper towel.
- Place in microwave, power 3 for 8 minutes. Change paper towel or flip leaves over whenever necessary. Final result would be very dried leaves, but not burnt.
- Pulse in coffee grinder, pass through chinois and reserve.

2. Citrus Powder
Makes 17 grams

- Big lemon – peel zest, remove pith > 2
- Granulated sugar > 50 grams
- Water > 200 ml
- Citric Acid/vitamin C > 1 gram

- Melt sugar in water and bring to boil.
- Fold in lemon zest. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from fire.
- Dry zest with tissue paper before arranging them on plate lined with paper towel.
- Place in microwave, power 3 for 11 minutes. Change paper towel or flip zest over whenever necessary. Final result would be very dried zest, but not burnt.
­- Pulse in coffee grinder, pass through chinois. Mix with Citrid Acid and reserve.

3. Red Onion Powder
Makes 13 grams

- Big red onion – peel, cut into thin and small chunks > 1 or approx. 200 grams

- Arrange onion on plate lined with paper towel.
- Place in microwave, power 2 for 1 hour and 12 minutes. Change paper towel or onion chunks over whenever necessary. Final result would be very dried chunks, but not burnt.
- Pulse in coffee grinder, pass through chinois and reserve.

4. Brown Butter Powder

- Milk powder /coconut powder > 20 grams
- Dried banana chips > 20 grams

- Place milk powder/coconut powder in microwave, power 3 for 20 minutes.
- Leave aside to cool.
- Grind dried banana chips in coffee grinder, pass through chinois.
- Mix with milk powder. Reserve.

5. Poached Green Beans

- Green beans – slice into thin rounds (2mm) > 100 grams
- Butter > 35 grams
- Water > 35 grams
- Salt > a pinch

- Bring water, butter, and green bean rounds to a boil over high heat.
- Cook for about 3 minutes until water is almost dry. Do not overcook.
- Remove from heat and season with salt.

6. Poached Fish

- White Sea Bass – cut into 4 v-shaped pieces of 50 grams each > 200 grams
- Water > 200 grams
- Butter > 200 grams
- Sea salt > a pinch

- Bring water and butter to simmer over medium heat.
- Add fish and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat. Flip fish over and let rest in pan for 2 more minutes.
- Transfer to tray and season with fine sea salt.

7. Assembly

- Banana – slice thin (3mm) > 1

- Sift parsley powder, citrus powder, and red onion powder to form a circle on one side of the serving plate. Make sure the powder is not too thick.
- Use the tip of a small spoon handle to make a swirl starting from the center of the circle outwards, or any other desired pattern.
- Arrange 3 slices of banana on the other side of the plate.
- Place green bean rounds on top of banana slices.
- And finally place fish on top of green bean rounds.
- Sprinkle with brown butter powder.
- Serve.