Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Boxing Day and....


Yes, it's a birthday, but not mine. One year ago on December 26th, this laboratory of mine was born :D

I loved to bake since my teenage years, all thanks to Home Economics class in secondary school. However there was a hiatus of several years before I started baking again, but this time with even more gusto.

I started this blog to record my experiments of baking and the occasion cooking, as well as any thoughts and experience which came with them. Each baking session brings about new knowledge and 'enlightenment'(as my good blogger pal puts it). How I love baking! I love my kitchen, my oven, my KitchenAid, my mixing bowls, and even the weighing scale, for they have helped me churn out fresh loaves of breads, pans of cakes and trays of cookies.

It is also through this blog that I 'met' many talented food bloggers. It is always a joy to read about their latest 'escapades' while feasting my eyes on their fantastic creations and excellent food presentation skills. There is never a dull moment and I have learnt so much from them.

As I celebrate the one year birthday of this blog, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank you all of you out there who has been supporting this little laboratory of mine. Your constant words of encouragement has helped shape this blog to what it is now.

For a little celebration, I baked some shortbread. My original idea was to make a cake. But then I thought, after all that feasting over the Christmas weekend, you probably cannot bear to look at another piece of cake? These are a little less 'sinful'(now who am I kidding here?). Well, just sit back and enjoy a nice cuppa with these fingers then :)

Each bite oozing with buttery fragrance

Friday, December 22, 2006

Season's Greetings!

May this holiday season be a joyous and wonderful one for you and your family. Happy baking, cooking and of course eating. Merry Christmas to all my readers and friends!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Is It Me?

Sometimes I like to have my lunch alone at work. The quiet one hour gives me some time to rest my mind from the work. After finishing my meal, I usually have about half an hour and I would head over to the bookshop to browse at the magazine sections.

Obviously I would be flipping through the food mags, and if I do come across any recipe which is of interest, I would input the recipe into my mobile phone. Of course if there are a few recipes I'd like, I'll buy the mag.

This is what I made from a "Reader recipe" in a magazine I saw recently.

Unfortunately, this recipe for Almond Fingers didn't really turn out well. Although I didn't change the recipe at all, the dough could not hold together at all without adding more flour and ground almonds. As a result, this supposed-to-be-crisp fingers turned out chewy and soft instead.

Don't you find it frustrating when these things happen? I know sometimes the recipe is not to blame, but the 'user' of the recipe instead. But I have also tried some recipes which would not work regardless of how many times I try. Oh well, irritating but c'est la vie(that's life)!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Long Time No See

Looking through my previous posts, I realized that I haven't posted about breads for quite some time. Why? Guess I have not been baking as much breads nowadays and even when I did, it's the same recipe, so nothing to write about.

I made this Walnut Couronne before I fell ill, so only had the chance to post now. Couronne means "crown" and it's shaped by first shaping the dough into a large donut, followed by using a long tin rod(I used a chopstick) to make four indentations, therefore producing a square within the round dough.

Unfortunately my shaping did not turn out very well, so the indentation lines kind of closed up during the second rise and subsequent baking. Nonetheless, here's a look at it:

This is actually modified from BBA's cinnamon walnut raisin bread. As I am not a big fan of raisins, I decided to turn it into a savoury loaf and used only walnuts(yes, nuts again :p).

Hmm... I realized that I still love bread making the most, among cakes, tarts and cookies. What about you?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Nuts? Fruits? Seeds?

Firstly, I want to say a BIG thanks to all of you who sent me get-well wishes for the past week. I truly appreciate all your concern and kindness. I’m still nursing a cold/flu/
whatever, but am itching to step into my kitchen for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging.

Weekend Herb Blogging, which is started by our lovely Kalyn, has taught me a great deal about herbs, vegetables, fruits, flowers and the like. Actually I also want to thank a good pal of mine, Gattina, who is the one who ‘got’ me into WHB. With a beautiful herb garden and innovative food ideas, coupled with her excellent photography, Gattina produces the most stunning creations week after week for WHB. Who can be un-moved by her passion for WHB?

For this week’s WHB, hosted by Pookah of What’s Cooking in Carolina, I chose to use a nut- almond.

An almond is not a herb, or vegetable, you might be thinking. So how does it fit into WHB’s theme? True, almonds are neither herbs or vegetables. But almonds are actually the seeds of the fruits of almond trees. Almond trees belong to the same family as the apricot, plum and peach trees. The most striking difference is that while these trees bear fruits with the juicy and succulent pulp which we love so much, the almond tree has fruits with a brown hard shell that encases the almond ‘seed’ within.

I am a lover of almonds, I always snack on a handful of dry roasted almonds, au naturel. I love them for their rich, buttery ‘nuttiness’. Many people shun almonds(or rather nuts in general e.g. walnuts, peanuts etc) because of their high fat content. But do you know that the fats in almonds are actually the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats which have a role in lowering cholesterol? Besides that, almonds pack a bunch of beneficial vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and anti-oxidants. But if you’re on a calorie-sensitive diet, it might be a good idea to eat almonds in moderation.

So what did I do with almonds this time? Friands is the answer. Friands are small cakes made from ground almonds, egg whites, flour, butter and sugar. Traditional friands are baked in special friand molds, but I just used the usual muffin cups, and they turn out fine too.

This is a quick recipe, which once again, I modified from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics Book 2. You just need a sauce pot for melting the butter, and the rest can be mixed with a whisk. Fresh berries can also be added into these soft and nutty cakes, though I chose to dress it up in black and blue.

Friand with chocolate sauce and sugared blueberries.

Quite messy to eat, but I hope no one’s complaining :p

Friands (adapted from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics Book 2)

Makes 5 regular muffin-size cakes

55g butter
90g sifted icing sugar
40g plain flour
55g ground almond
¼ tsp baking powder
90g egg whites

For serving (entirely optional)
Blueberries, or other berries you desire
Melted dark chocolate

1) Melt butter over low heat in a pot until completely melted. Continue to heat for another two minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
2) Combine icing sugar, flour, ground almond and baking powder in a bowl. Whisk to mix well.
3) Add egg whites to the flour mixture and stir to mix. Then add the cooled melted butter and mix until everything is combined.
4) Spoon into greased/lined muffin cups* and bake in a pre-heated 180C oven for about 20-25 minutes until a light golden brown. Be careful not to overbake.
5) Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve.

Note: if you are using a 6-cup muffin tin, fill the last empty cup halfway with water before placing the tin into the oven to prevent the tin from smoking.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Not Good

My readers, sorry if I appeared to have disappeared for the past week. Work has been busy like hell, and I've been battling two infections since the start of the week. I hardly have energy to blog when I get home, so till I regain my energy, hope my archives will keep you busy, or visit the talented bloggers on the link list. Till then, take care!