Friday, April 20, 2007

Legend of the Dragon?

I just realized that I’ve been posting about fruits for the past two Weekend Herb Blogging. Well, these lovely fruits seems to be taking turns to appear on the supermarket shelves. It’s really difficult to walk past them without transferring one or two packs into my shopping trolley.

This week’s WHB is no exception (sorry, I guess the above is just an excuse for my lack of ideas). Hosted by our lovely Sher this week, to entice her (hopefully), I thought a glorious-coloured fruit might do the trick.

Here I present the dragonfruit – also known as pitaya and 火龙果.

These are fruits of the cactus species, and the ‘scaly’ skin encloses a soft flesh studded with many black seeds, similar to those in a kiwi fruit. There are three varieties - pinkish skin with white flesh, pinkish skin with red-purplish flesh, and the last is yellow skin with white flesh. Dragonfruits are native to Mexico as well as Central and South America, but are also cultivated in asian countries now, with Vietnam being a major exporter of the fruit(Anh, correct me if I’m wrong :p).

I didn’t like dragonfruits at all previously, because I find the taste too bland for my liking. That was until I tried the red-fleshed variety. It was sweeter than the white-fleshed fruits, and I began to appreciate the subtle sweetness of this fruit, and the crunchy black seeds too.

The best and easiest way to enjoy this fruit is to cut it into half(chilled it well first), scoop out the flesh and enjoy it by the spoonful. But that’s so ‘not-interesting’ for this post right? So digging into my fridge ……………..I found kiwi fruit…..wait wait…..and pineapple. Okay, cube these fruits and pile them into the ‘shell’ left behind from the scooping. So here is my colourful Dragon Boat.

Please don’t forget to visit Sher for the re-cap of all the entries, and of course hop over to Kalyn’s Kitchen for more details on WHB.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sweet and Simple

It's time for Weekend Herb Blogging again. For those who would like to join this weekly blogging event, whereby bloggers write about herbs, fruits, vegetables or even flowers, don't forget to check out Kalyn's Kitchen, where it all started. This week, the guest host is talented Haalo from Cook (Almost) Anthing At Least Once.

I picked up a packet of Seckel pears from the supermarket. Seckel pears are also known as sugar pears. As you might have guessed from the name, these pears are very sweet, and juicy as well. Another characteristic of these is the blushes of maroon on the green skin. They are also smaller in size than the usual ones such as Anjou or Bartlett.

I polished off two pears in one sitting. With the rest, I decided to poach them. With the recipe for Classic Poached Pears from Donna Hay, I made this:
Below is my recipe, which is a pretty major adaptation, because I changed the wine from red to white. As I do not like red wine, I didn't want to spend on a bottle of wine to be used only for this. That is also the reason for the light pink shade of these pears instead of the deep red hue.

Poached Pears
250ml sweet dessert wine (I used Muscat)
250ml natural red grape juice
50g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 clove
5 Seckel pears, peeled, leave stalks intact

1) Heat all ingredients except pears in a pot over medium heat, until sugar is dissolved. Turn heat to low and simmer this liquid for 5 minutes.
2) Add in the pears. Over low heat, simmer the pears, covered, for about 30 minutes.
3) Remove from heat, let cool. Refrigerate the pears in the syrup overnight before serving.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

"Food Thoughts"

Recently my blogger pal Gattina made a pasta dish using cuttlefish ink spaghetti. It is a very pretty dish, but Gattina had some thoughts – since squid ink neither enhances the taste, nor the colour of the spaghetti, why add it in in the first place? Yes, why? Perhaps for novelty? Or to make a more interesting dining experience?

It also set me thinking, though on a slightly different mode, how you ever wondered how some foods can be ‘offensive’ in their own ways? Yet we cannot resist their charm and simply adore them to bits. By ‘offensive’, I mean the smell in particular. Just think the widely-eaten cheese(especially blue cheese), or the Chou Dou Fu a.k.a ‘smelly beancurd’ commonly sold in Hongkong and Taiwan, and natto – fermented soyabeans, Japanese style

Of course, one man’s meat is another’s poison. Afterall, taste is a very personal thing, and also changes with time. Like myself, I used to hate cheese, but over these few years, I’ve learnt to appreciate them, though blue cheese is still one that I can’t stomach.

Before I digress further, I better come back to this post, dedicated to Weekend Herb Blogging. This week’s WHB is hosted by the talented Anh, who never fails to amaze me with her creations, especially those reflecting her Vietnamese heritage. Of course, don’t forget to check Kalyn’s Kitchen for more details on WHB.

Okay, here I present a really smelly fruit – durians. A tropical fruit with a thorny husk, durians are very popular in Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysian and Thailand. Used in a variety of desserts such as cakes, puddings and ice creams, durians represents a true ‘love-hate’ with many people. You would either love it or hate it, there is no ‘in-between’. This of course stems from the pungent odour from durians, which have been described in various colourful terms – garbage truck, unwashed sneakers, rotting fish etc. But if you can get pass the smell barrier, the flesh of durians is actually very rich, creamy and sweet (some varieties have a slight bitterness, which helps to enhance the taste).

I managed to buy some pre-packed(flesh removed and packed) durians from the neighbourhood supermarket, and hence I don’t have a picture of the whole fruit. For a look at the thorny fruit, click here.

A look at the seed:
Using the cream puff recipe from Florence, I made my first batch of puffs. Yes, so many years of baking and I’ve never attempted choux pastry. It was interesting to see these baking in the oven, because they amazingly puff to almost thrice the height, and yet they are hollow in the centre.

Instead of cream, I filled these with durian instead. I just removed the flesh from the seeds, pass them through a sieve to remove the fibres. I did not add any cream or milk, so it’s pure, unadultered, creamy durian in these light-as-air puffs.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

After a Long Hiatus...

..... Here's 'Rocky Road':

Hey there friends, before you think I've disappeared, I thought I better update my posts. Sorry, but I've been really tight up with work, with over-time hours and on some weekends as well. My energy levels are at the lowest by the time I reach home and so as expected, no baking, which equals nothing to blog about.

As the saying goes "Old Habits Die Hard", so here I am with Nigella Lawson's brownies, recipe from How To Be a Domestic Goddess. With brownies, I like mine dark and fudgy, and this fits the bill perfectly. But this recipe, I must say, is not for the faint-hearted. Looking at the amounts of butter, chocolate and sugar is sufficient to clog one's arteries. However, for the rare occasion, cut it into small bites, and these will make a very delish treat.

If you're interested in the recipe, I found it here. I simply scaled down to half the recipe and used a square baking pan. Do adjust the sugar amounts too, depending on the chocolate you use.