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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Special 02

Thank you all for your condolences. They meant a lot to me and T. Today is the day his dad was cremated. Took place at 5 pm but the whole ceremony started from 11am. For that I took leave from work. It was an opportunity to know everyone in T's family, his colleagues, friends, neighbors, old classmates and even exs. It was also a rare occasion where I could have a conversation with his sisters, aunts, and relatives.

This week has been a very hectic week with a lot of things to deal with. For T it is not over yet - tomorrow he has to wake up early to join his family in the temple to collect his dad's ashes and attend whatever ceremony following that. For me, I will go back to work as usual.

Don't worry I still remember my Wednesday Special. For that, I have kept these few shots I took last week and like to share 2 of them with you. T was too tired to have dinner and has fallen sleep while I was still finding time to send this post. Anyway, here you go.... Hope you all have a great Wednesday and enjoy these photos! Your suggestion and criticism are mostly welcome.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Daring Bakers' Orange Tian

A shocking surprise came by yesterday while I was finishing up photo shoot for this challenge. T called and whilst sobbing told me that his dad just passed away. Despite his blindness and his reluctance to take any solid food in the last 2 weeks, his dad's health was completely fine. And T just brought him to see a doctor that morning to get some advice of how to boost up his dad's appetite. The doctor suggested a blood test and his dad passed clean. Arriving home, T was feeding his dad with some milk and a while after he finished this light lunch - appeared to be his last meal on earth, he was quitely gone for good. No last word whatsoever..... left peacefully in his sleep. "Good bye, Dad! Good bye Apache!"

In the middle of the temple ceremony, I managed to find some time to walk away and post this challenge update. Had to go back quickly for the chanting session. Rush rush...

This challenge is straight forward but time consuming. Therefore it is advisable to prepare various sections in separate days. Like perhaps baking pate sablee and making orange marmalade a few days earlier. Cutting orange segments could be done one day earlier, leaving only whipping cream preparation in the same day with the final cake assembly.

It was my first time cutting oranges into segments. Apparently oranges without their membranes were very refreshing. Every bite into them gave me a smile. It was also my first time making orange marmalade. The taste appeared to be the same as what I usually got from the supermarket.

As an overall, the orange tian is delicious. I would definitely do it again, with a lot of fruit variation. Definitely I would love to try kiwi fruit, mango, jack fruit, or plain strawberries. Pate sablee is crunchy and double delicious. Keeping it in an air tight container and refrigerating doesn't affect its crunchiness. Superb! This recipe is a real keeper!

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris. Thank you so much, Jennifer!

Makes one 7 inch and eight 2.5 inch cakes

1. Pate Sablee:
Makes one 7 inch and eight 2.5 inch crust circles

- Egg yolks > 2
- Granulated sugar > 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
- Vanilla extract > ½ teaspoon
- Ice cold salted butter - cut into cubes > ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
- Salt > 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
- All-purpose flour > 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
- Baking powder > 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams

- Put eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until the mixture is pale.
- Put flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Mix moderately.
- In a separate bowl, pour the egg mixture in the food processor.
- Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 180C.
- Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain around 4-5mm thick circle.
- Using one 6 inch and one 2 inch cake rings (they are supposed to be smaller than the actual crust circles because after baking, the dough circles will expand), cut out one 6 inch and eight 2 inch circles of dough and place them on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

2. Orange Marmalade

- Freshly pressed orange juice > ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
- Large orange used to make orange slices > 1
- Cold water to cook the orange slices
- Pectin powder > 5 grams
- Granulated sugar > use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked
- Lime juice > 2 tablespoons

- Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.
- Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.
- Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and leave them just warm.
- Once they are not too hot to handle, mince them with a knife.
- Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar. If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.
- In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice, petin powder, and lime juice. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).
- Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

3. Orange Segments

- 10 oranges.

- Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl. Squeeze the juice out of leftover membranes into the same bowl so the segments are covered with juice.
- Leave aside for later use or refrigerate.

4. Caramel

- Ganulated sugar > 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
- Orange juice > 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams (feel free to take from the orange juice covering the orange segment plus a little bit more from new oranges, or simply replace orange juice with plain clean water)

- Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.
- Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice (or water). As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.
- Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.
[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]

5. Whipped Cream

- Heavy whipping cream > 2 cups; 14 oz; 400 grams
- Hot water > 6 tablespoons
- Gelatine powder > 2 teaspoons
- Confectioner's sugar > 2 tablespoons (if the whipping cream is sweet enough, skip this)
- orange marmalade (see recipe above) > 1 tablespoon

- In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream.
- Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously.
- Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks.
- Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade. Mix well.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]

6. Assembly

- Cover base and side of a 7 inch and eight 2.5 inch cake rings with aluminium foil. Place them on a big tray (make sure you have some room in your refrigerator to chill the cake overnight until set or in case you need to speed up the process, spare some space in the freezer to freeze it for 10-20 minutes).
- Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked crust circles ready to use. If it is necessary, crop the crust circles to fit the cake rings.
- Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.
- Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cake ring. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.
- Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.
- Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.
- Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.
- Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10-20 minutes or chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the crust cirle) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cake ring, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Special 01

Today is Wednesday and seems like a perfect day - the middle of the week, to post something special. Something that is out of the routine, featuring photos of my interest, could be food related or something else.

This is all due to my decision to learn and practice more photography in the scope of food, still life and lifestyle. Haven’t done much enough and therefore, I have been restless and constantly triggered to make use of every second that I have to shoot something new. Have accumulated a number of photo shots and thought of sharing them with you.... on every Wednesday.

And that is how the “Wednesday Special” came about. So to all of you, my friends..... I hope you enjoy what you see and your criticism is mostly welcome!

Meanwhile, I like to thank Tanja of Tanja's Cupcakes who recently passed the Sunshine award to me. It has been a great pleasure and really a sunshine of my day. Thanks for considering me, Tanja :-)

And these are the 12 blogger friends I like to share the Sunshine with…
- Fitri of Mommy Nisa
- Sue Sparks of Munchkin Munchies
- Mandy of What The Fruitcake?
- Simone of Junglefrog Cooking
- Vicky of Sweets at Vicky’s
- Deeba of Passionate About Baking
- Anita of Leave Room for Dessert
- Barbara of Movable Feasts
- Valerie of The Chocolate Bunny
- Jennifer of Maple and Cornbread
- Katie of Something Sweet
- Wolf of Wolf’s Den

Friday, March 19, 2010

Satisfaction and Banana

A surprise came knocking this morning… I just won the DMBLGIT award for the month of February and I was so delighted. I have been waiting for snacksgiving’s announcement and finally it came through like a desirable red velvet cake topped with cheese cream frosting. And before I knew it, Fitri of Mommy Nisa congratulated me. Thanks, Fit!

It was in deed a pleasant feeling knowing that people agreed with my artistic judgement of choosing the right photo to send for the competition. I remember the first time I joined this contest, it took me days to pick the right picture to enter it since each participant was only allowed to send one entry from the previous month’s posting. As time went by and I learnt more about photography and saw more photos shot by professional bloggers (that’s you, by the way! :-)), this decision could be made quite fast.

And at the end of the day, the award is worth the effort - the long preparation of the cake, props, and hours of photo shoot. Sort of like a hard work pays off, plus an overwhelming satisfaction.

For this special occasion, I like to share this recipe that I adapted from Sweet Paul's Blueberry Ice Cream. Apparently the man has a very good taste of ice cream. This banana ice cream is creamy and luscious, and most importantly goes well with almost anything. Try and see whether you like it…

Adapted from Sweet Paul’s Blueberry Ice Cream.
Serves 6

- Egg > 1
- Egg yolks > 3
- Granulated sugar > 150 grams
- Corn starch > 2 teaspoons
- Milk > 250 ml
- Whipping cream > 2 cups
- Ripe big bananas – mash moderately > 2
- Strawberry jam > optional
- Chocolate sauce > optional
- Extra banana for decoration - slice > as desired
- Chocolate curl > optional
- Roasted almond chunks > optional

- Combine egg, egg yolks, and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat at high speed until pale and light.
- Heat milk in a saucepan until boiled. Immediately pour hot milk into the egg mixture while beating at medium speed. Add corn starch and mix thoroughly.
- Set stove to low heat, place egg mixture back into saucepan and cook until the mixture starts to curdle and thicken. Immediately remove from fire.
- Leave to cool. Add mashed banana and refrigerate overnight.
- Spin the cold mixture in ice cream maker until thick. Refrigerate overnight.
- Fill a serving glass with one thick layer of strawberry jam, scoop in some ice cream.
- Add a layer of chocolate sauce and a small amount of ice cream. Decorate with some banana slices. Top with a big ball of ice cream, a chocolate curl and some almond chunks.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Daring Cooks' Risotto

It is officially my eleventh Daring Cooks’ challenge and a celebration of constant learning and exploring. So far DC is my best source of culinary know-how due to my limited time as a full-time worker. There are new things to learn each time. So insightful I should consider it a multi-cultural eye opener and I believe some of you agree with me on this. For all other DCs who started almost the same time as me, a toast of celebration, yeah!

This month challenge brought us to Italy where we were introduced to the most common way of cooking rice in Italy. Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish cooked with broth and flavored with parmesan cheese and other ingredients, which can include meat, fish or vegetables. The name means literally "little rice" and it is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.Its origins are in northern Italy, specifically Eastern Piedmont, Western Lombardy, and the Veneto, where rice paddies are abundant. Risottos are made using short-grain rice, with the stock being added gradually while the rice is stirred constantly. The cooking technique leads the rice to release its starch, giving the finished dish a creamy texture (Source:

When I tasted Risotto after taking the photos, I had to say that it was really creamy and wonderful. T didn’t really like it. Well, in fact he didn’t really like anything Italian except Tiramisu. But I was in love with it. Every bite into this spoonful of creamy yet subtly grainy rice just made me want for more. And the combination of broth, sherry wine, pumpkin, thyme, and parmesan cheese simply made this dish so desirable. One spoon into another swiftly brings you to an empty plate....., that is just how good it is.

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

Serves four

1. Chicken Broth
Makes 1.75 liters

- Chicken carcasses > 1.5 kilograms
- Big onion - roughly dice > 1 or around 250 grams
- Medium leek - rougly dice white part only > 1 or about 60 grams
- Garlic - halve > 3 cloves
- Cinnamon stick > 1.5
- Dried white peppercorns > 1 teaspoon
- Dried bay leaves > 5
- Peel of lime - grate > 1 lime
- Dried cloves > 5

- Wash the chicken carcasses and place them in a big pot, add 2 liters of water and bring to a boil. Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface.
- Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil.
- Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours
- Carefully lift out the bones. Continue simmering the stock gently for another hour.
- Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be. 
The stock is now ready for use or fridge overnight.

2. Risotto Base

- Virgin olive oil > 60 ml
- Small onion - coarsely chop > 1 or approximately 50 grams
- Arborio risotto rice > 400 grams
- Sherry wine > 60 ml
- Chicken broth > 1 liter

- Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard.
- Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
- Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
- Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don't actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed. Repeat this step until 1 liter of chicken broth is completely used.
- Once you are at this point, the base is made. Set aside. You now get to add your own variation.

3. Prawn and Pumpkin Risotto

- Prawn > 300 grams
- Mushroom > 200 grams
- Small onion - corsely chop > 1 or approximately 50 grams
- Pumpkin - coarsely grate > 200 grams
- Fresh thyme - remove stem and chop the leaves > 1 tablespoon
- Salted butter - chill and cut into small cubes, divide into 2 portions > 100 gram
- Parmesan cheese - grate > 60 grams
- Chicken broth > 100 ml

- Saute chopped onion until fragrant in a saucepan.
- Add mushroom and prawn. Fry until mushroom softened and prawn become orange.
- Set aside.
- Immediately in another saucepan, melt one portion of the butter. Add pumpkin and cook until tender. Set aside (or blend for a smoother texture).
- Put the risotto base back on fire.
- Stir through the pumpkin mixture and thyme.
- Add the final 100ml of stock and hte remaining butter and stir until both are completely absorbed.
- Gently fold in mushroom and prawns. Stir moderately.
- Stir through the parmesan, stick the lid on and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Serve hot.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Time really flies... I have taken up 10 Daring Cook and 10 Daring Baker Challenges. Admittedly, they were hiccups and chaos happening at the time I baked or cooked following the challenge recipes. And at certain points I just thought of skipping one or two, like taking a daring break... Especially when there were work problems at the office, project deadlines, or worse, work stress… or specific ingredients were no where to be found like the artichokes and Marsala wine.

But funny enough, I didn’t quit any of the challenges just yet. I guess I did enjoy a certain level of chaos afterall, a steady sailing life is boring, right? So at times rocking boat is the ride that suits me. And thanks to all support from peer bloggers and DBers, I seemed to get by, one challenge after another.

Clicking through my posts, I was delighted that I had experienced all those challenges. Simply because they took me to different countries of the world (felt like so….) and tasted food and dessert I might not have known or heard of. And most importantly, making friends and discovered better techniques and recipes. What else could I hope for?

A while ago before I was involved with Tiramisu challenge I stumbled into Sweet Paul and ever since I have seen blogging in a new light. And so here I like to present Truffles I have prepared following his recipe. The same Truffles I have made for the previous Tiramisu Challenge.

Adapted from Sweet Paul’s Amaretto Truffles
Makes twenty 1.25 inch/3 cm diameter truffles

- Whipping cream > 1 cup
- Dark chocolate – chop into smaller pieces > 500 grams
- Cointreau orange liquor > 2 tablespoons
- Passionfruit curd > 250 grams (for recipe click here)
- Cocoa powder > 150 grams

- Fill a deep plate with cocoa powder for dusting and coating truffles. Set aside.
- Chill a big flat-based plate or tray.
- Place chopped chocolate and cointreau in a big bowl.
- Heat whipping cream in a saucepan until just boiled.
- Instantly pour hot cream over chocolate. Leave for 5 minutes for chocolate to melt.
- Stir with spatula and leave to cool.
- Refrigerate for half an hour or until chocolate mixture is thickened (but still pliable). Remove from refrigerator.

- Scoop a tablespoon of mixture into palm and roll with hands into balls with diameter 1.25 inch or 3 cm. Do it quickly as palm generates heat that melts the mixture. Balls are not expected to be perfect since there will be another round of rolling. Feel free to rechill the mixture if it is too sticky. Remove chilled plate or tray from fridge and set the balls on it after every roll. Keep rolling until it is done.
- Fill passionfruit curd in a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle. Hold the ball gently with one hand, inject the nozzle into the center of truffles and pipe an adequate amount of filling with another hand. Reroll balls.
- Immediately land rolled truffles on the cocoa plate. Roll with fork to coat thoroughly.
- Refrigerate overnight.