Tuesday, 31 July 2012

coffee and praline eclairs

This is the first time I have attempted eclairs after my monster scare during the Basics Patisserie exam at LCB (I am positive that the epic proportions experienced then is due to the industrial ovens used at school despite what the chefs say). It is a request from my dad who has rather a partiality towards these. The filling is a coffee and praline flavored creme diplomat. At LCB, a loose creme patissiere was used but general consensus regarded it too stodgy still. Thus I have opted for this lighter derivation. The coffee and praline (almond and hazelnut) was added after knocking back the cooled creme patissiere, after which I folded in the whipped cream.

Incidentally, look at the pretty plate on which the eclair is presented, dug out from one of the numerous charity shops around town (on the day of the turnover)! I also picked up this awesome condiment tray. If ever I step away from puddings and make an acceptable steak au frites, this prop will definitely showcase.


A few peoples may have notice a recent change to the font of my blog. That’s right, everything is now presented in the awesome style that is Courier. Courier is obviously the ultimate typeface, its monospaced (optimal and it look nice and neat too) with wonderful curved serifs that one hopes promotes ease of reading. This is a hopeless case of lifting from wiki but truely, as Kettner, the designer of Courier, says, and as I hope would to apply to my blog:

'a letter can be just an ordinary messenger, or it can be the courier, which radiates dignity, prestige, and stability.'


This typewriter font is also associated with good memories for me with regards to a game my sister and I used to play. She was by far the imaginative one and I used to coast along very happily on her imagincation. No doubt this contributes to my stagnated creativity. Anyway, it involved sending letters to each other and she spent many an hour clacking away on my mum's typewriter while I struck it out with old-fashion calligraphy (good point, time to unearth my pen from the dust). Coincidentally, the first Christmas presents my bf and I ever exchanged happened both to be calligraphy pens. XD.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

trifle entremet

Finally a post! The whole family has converged on the flat so things are a little crowded and distracting. Unable to handle the scrutiny of various peering eyes and the contention for kitchen ownership, I've had quite a few major food flops that fortunately will never see the light of the screen. But here is a successful entremet inspired by a quintessential British summer pudding to celebrate the very first day of Olympic competition in London.

All is in keeping with trifle requirements. It has a jam spread sponge base (slightly overfolded as it was so thin and needed strength) in which are chopped strawberries macerating in sugar and balsamic vinegar, the custard takes the form of a jelly (I added some gelatin to make it set firmer) and finally the whipped cream, which is also stabilised by some gelatin. It is decorated with strawberry outlines piped from tempered chocolate, strawberries and blocks of the custard jelly with an even firmer set. You can just about see this in the second smaller photo on the right. The saddest thing is that it seems my recipe was accidentally thrown away T_T.

The Olympics Road Race cycle route runs by Kingston and I managed to video the leaders and photo Team GB heading the dreadful pelaton (what were they thinking!?!). I am actually really annoyed on a separate front too- here I am twiddling with the photo and cropping it down so you can actually see our English cyclists, I save the cropped photo under a new directory, closed the original, unthinkingly clicked yes to save changes and bam! It's gone! The cropped already-saved version replaces the original with no possible means of retrieval. AAARGH! It was part of a set of photos all taken while I was crouched down at the barriers and now it's gone!

Anyway, in lieu of foody posts, you may have to brace yourself for Olympics related posts. I hope to catch the ladies zooming past tomorrow. These athletes really are incredible people. Sit back and admire the guts.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

freshly churned sesame butter

I have never actually whipped cream to curdled oblivion so I thought I ought to try (I have shaken it to butter form before though- but couldn't see the progression). Besides, this way I shall have lovely organic freshly churned butter ready and waiting for breakfast with my parents, who arrived yesterday along with the rest of the hoards for the London Olympics 2012.

I took a series of photos of the cream's journey to butterdom under identical gloomy conditions so you can see the graduation in colour. However, my G12 had ideas of its own and decided to vary its white balance. Yes, once more lighting is an issue. Without daylight streaming through the windows, I am having difficulty generating enough light for none-noisy photos but if I surround the place with lamps I get super orangeness that the camera can't seem to completely offset. I really need to figure out how to use the manual white balance option.

I do also wish I had weighed the cream (double) before and the butter after to see its water content.

For the sesame flavouring, I roasted some black sesame seeds before grinding with some salt. Well really, more like mashed them up with the back of a spoon having neither pestle and mortar, suribachi, or any other kind of grinding implement. This was beaten into the fresh butter and served on toast with a steaming mug of coffee.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

apple and spiced streusel

I had a tiny dollop of leftover apple filling from the turnovers that was steadily approaching its three day limit. So, I made a mini 'crumble' using some streusel I lifted from Rosy Levy Beranbaum's book as compensation to my bf for not saving him turnovers. As further appeasement for my lack of self control with regards to his share, I made the crumble in my chibi Le Creuset pot- a year old gift from him that I hadn't yet used. It is so small, possibly their only product one can lift with ease besides their ceramic mugs. I love mini things! Incidentally, those mugs are the next item on my to-buy list of Le Creuset goods. As a financially stricken NEET my acquisition of anything Le Creuset is painfully slow.

The streusel was spiced up (...^^) with a sprinkle of ground ginger, mace, nutmeg and cloves (cinnamon already in the apple) at a ratio of 2:4:1:2 as I am very fond of mace and think cloves a little strong. The kitchen smelt lovely after and made me yearn for the cooler days of winter. It was stiflingly hot day today. Fortunately, I have discovered the perfect defense: a cap and sunglasses. Sunglasses are awesome! Just by viewing the world through shaded lenses makes everything feel a little cooler. It also gives me a wonderful sense of anonymity and I can sneakily peer at people's food (and, ahem, their eating habits) without appearing rude, which entertainment I find almost enough to ignore my blistering skin.

With regard to the photo= woes! This is a painful lesson on the importance of good lighting. I was only too conscious of an impatient one waiting with custard in hand and thought I could skimp.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

persimmon monsters!

This is a bad case of playing with good food, but I just could not resist and besides they were eaten after all. These lovely plump persimmons (or sharon fruit, or kaki) are part of my market forage haul, an astonishing 8 for only £1, their only defect being ripe to the point where their soft flesh can literally be sucked off the skin (crash down on minor chords) and truly a greedy monster did just that!!! Ho ho ho! Although the way things look, who is the monster now??

Actually, there is an old Korean folk tale concerning a tiger and a 'monster' dried persimmon. A tiger listens as a mother tries to persuade her crying baby to shush by describing the terrible prowess of his and other wild carnivorous species. It was to no avail and the wailing continued unabated. Then, the mother introduces a dried persimmon that the child sucks on in sweet contentment. The tiger insinuates that persimmons must be fearsome creatures indeed to induce this silence of terror, and flees.

'“Alas, alack, how can I flee?
Persimmon is more fierce than me.”'



Look at the darkness! Swiped everything off my desk, hung dark placement mats all around, turned on my lamp and voila =). I have yet to venture down the path to photoshop but it is all very tempting.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

apple turnovers

This will be a nostalgic sight to some.

I was feeling a little low today. However, a good rummage through charity shops hunting for photo props followed by a stroll through the marketplace nibbling pretzels, ice cream and prawn tempura later, and my temporarily boyfriendless state (just for the weekend while he paddles about a beach with his family) faded to an insignificant detail. I hate to admit it, but shopping therapy works and it is amazing what a little sugar and fat in the bloodstream can do. The final perk of the day are these apple turnovers, enjoyed while sprawled over the grass, amongst the daises with my kindle. Cheerfulness reigns once more. No matter that in my haste to tuck into my bubbling hot turnover I locked myself out of the flat, and no matter the sticky fingers as I abandoned cutlery, grabbed the turnover and crammed it into my mouth, kindle forgotten.

I am not sure if it is just me, but delicate and dainty cakes just don't seem to illicit this kind of response from me. Yes, they are pretty, tasty, and I will happily admire them while taking my time with the (amateur) photography. But drop an oven-hot pastry in front of me and everything transforms into a hasty blur (sorry for the poor photo, this was me rushing) until I finally get to gulp it down. Then, satiation levels simply pop the ceiling. Look at how puffy it is! In the old days, I used to make and sell them at college using pre-made puff pastry. I thought them good. How young and naive I was. But now, with homemade buttery puff pastry...swoon!

Below is the apple filling recipe I use (for everything: pies, turnovers, crumbles etc.). Really, they are just guidelines and always adjusted according to the sweetness and juiciness of the apples. It all comes down to frying the applies in butter, letting them stew out their juices and adding sugar and cornflour to taste and consistency. In the case of apple turnovers, I don't want the filling to be too watery in fear of soggy leaking pastries so I use a lot of cornflour. If it were for a crumble (with no pie shell), I would use less cornflour and probably throw in a few raisins, which will swell to succulent proportions.

APPLE FILLING RECIPE (enough for 10* 13cm by 13cm turnovers)
6 granny smith apples
120g sugar

60g butter
25g cornflour

ground cinnamon
lemon juice

  • Melt the butter in a pan and when hot, drop in the diced apples.
  • Fry the apples in the butter, making sure all the apples are coated.
  • As the juices of the apples collect, add the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice (all mostly to taste).
  • Mix the cornflour into cold water.
  • When the apples are almost cooked through (still want discernible chunks in the filling), with slightly translucent edges, add half the cornflour liquid to the apples and continue to bubble until it thickens and the flour is completely cooked out (add the remaining cornflour liquid depending on how you prefer the filling).

Friday, 20 July 2012

tahini and chickpea cookies

The inspiration from these cookies came from David Lebovitz's post on tahini and almond cookies, a contribution from Natalie Levin, author of food blog Oogio.net. I happened to have all the ingredients at hand and made an experimental half batch of them (my poor food processor is still recovering from its yammy defeat so I did this the good old brisee method). As expected, the cookies were delicious (it is so nice to have a reliable source of recipes that never fail to perform despite general ineptitude), really really good!

As I sat munching them down, trundling along the tahini train of thought and marvelling my beautifully moisturized hands, the result of rolling out little 15g balls of dough, it was hard not to think of hummus and the possibility of a chickpea flour (or gram flour) cookie. So, I gave it a try.

I dry-fried the chickpea flour to give it a nuttier flavour and in true hummus style switched the water for lemon juice (this didn't come through in the final cookie, and I am rather glad for it). The cookies still have some flour in them as it would be too short otherwise and I didn't want to add eggs to help with the binding as it would mess with the melting-ness. So it's not gluten free I'm afraid, but all the better for it! The photo below right shows a comparison of the two cookies: original on the left and mine on the right. As you can see, the chickpea flour gave the cookies a yellower hue; it also makes for a softer dough and the finished cookies have a very fine dry powdery-ness. The texture of the two cookies are completely different. It does make you wonder how it would taste if icing sugar were used instead.

I'm fairly impressed with these cookies and do think they are comparable with the original almond version. I guess it depends if your preference lies with cookies of a more substantial crunch or a delicate crumble. But, try this out for true melt in the mouth happiness! I must point out that this is my first experience with chickpea flour so to all the peoples who know how chickpea flour ought to be used, be kind.

140g plain flour
175g chickpea (gram) flour

150g butter
150g castor sugar

20ml lemon juice
200g tahini

  • Dry-fry the chickpea flour in a pan until it becomes fragrant.
  • Mix together the flour, chickpea flour, sugar and a pinch of salt.
  • Rub butter into a dry mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  • Add the lemon juice and tahini paste and 'cut' in until you form a dough (it helps to use a D-scraper, or you could just do the whole thing in a food processor in a fraction of the time especially as gluten formation isn't something to worry about here).
  • Fraser the dough untill it is homogeneous and smooth (i.e. smear it around the work surface until you can't see any marbling).
  • Portion out into 15g balls (or however, I was a bit anal and wanted them all the same size), place on a parchment paper lined tray and flatten slightly.
  • Bake at 175C for 18min till lightly browned.
  • Allow to cool on tray and crisp up.

Randomly, a necessary errand yesterday compelled me to hop onto my bicycle again. This was its first journey in almost 3 months (shocking considering it used to be my only mode of transport) and why I abandoned cycling in the first place all came rushing back to me in the worst way possible as I was gasping up a molehill. It is not the unseasonable rain but the bugs, the horrible winged things, which I suck in and choke on while already in an oxygen deprived state. Ugh.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

gluten-free chocolate and orange adzuki bean cake

It is odd, the more I handle adzuki bean in its unadulturate form sans sugar or oil, I am increasingly aware of its odd musky com mouldy smell that is becoming distinctly unappealing. So, in regard of what is often done in hong dou sui, I have used a fair amount of orange flavoured syrup to tone down the beany and bring some freshness to the adzuki bean mousse. Along with that is a super soft and tender (typical attributes of flourless goods) gluten free chocolate sponge and some candied orange peel. Like this, it becomes quite pleasant indeed.

My experimentation with adzuki bean mousse began with the notable Starcraft 2 undertaking- as a component of the charlotte atop which the chocolate pieces were to be stood- with its brownish red hue to represent human blood. It was not used in the end but I put the multiple attempts to good use and made a looser set mousse version for this cake. Initially I used coconut cream in the mousse too, but scrapped that as it 'blended' everything together so you lost the distinction of the flavours (I firmly maintain that you can taste the bean quite clearly while my brother insists that the chocolate overwhelms everything).

I meant to make a soft and silky ganache to pour over the cake but I am still struggling to get a completely smooth sheeny result. Instead, I used a firm glacage made primarily of pate a glace with some extra couverture (for taste) and oil (for shine) to give me the nice smooth surface and crisp edges you see here. Now if only I could learn to cut perpendicular slices...

ORANGE ADZUKI BEAN MOUSSE and CANDIED PEEL (sorry, can't post the wonderful chocolate sponge recipe as it is property of LCB)
juice of 2 oranges
peel of 2 oranges

200g simple syrup (1:1)
250g adzuki bean paste
250g whipping creak
3 leaves gelatin

  • Remove pith from orange peel and julienne.
  • Blanche the peel three times to remove its bitterness.
  • Boil the blanched peel with the orange juice and simple syrup until candied; reserve resulting orange syrup for mousse.
  • Whisk adzuki bean paste into 120g orange syrup and heat.
  • When steam starts to form, whisk in bloomed gelatin leaves.
  • Over an ice bath, whip cream up to soft peaks.
  • Whisk a third of the cream into the paste once it has cooled to around 20°C.
  • Whip cream up to stiff peaks and fold into mousse over ice bath; use when it reaches its setting point.

yam charlotte

This is the yam charlotte, featured in the Starcraft 2 themed buffet, as it ought to be. As it was pointed out that the yam flavour was a little faint (a common mistake I make- I taste the components individually and often forget to factor in the plain sponge base), I have upped the yam content. Unlike the usual purple fare, such as yam chiffon and yam cream cake, my yammy offering is actually made from steamed and mashed yams and NOT the nasty artificial store bought yam paste so frequently used. So my yam mousse comes with authentic little lumps of yam that my struggling food processor failed to whiz away. Topping the charlotte is a thin film of coconut jelly. Below is a little piping I did over the charlotte. As I like yam, this one is a winner for me. It makes the cakes for sale bar despite the dubious presentation.

YAM MOUSSE (for 2* 160mm diameter charlotte)
200g simple syrup (1:1)300g yam
4 leaves gelatin375g whipping cream
  • Steam yam till cooked and blitz in food processor to form a sticky paste- if necessary, loosen with a little simple syrup.
  • Heat the simple syrup till just boiling and whisk in bloomed gelatin leaves.
  • Whisk yam paste into simple syrup and allow to cool.
  • Whisk cream up till just before soft peaks (as it needs to be whisked quite vigorously to incorporate it into the yam paste, and don't want the cream to curdle).
  • When the yam paste reaches around 20°C, whisk in a third of the cream until well incorporated.
  • Whisk remaining cream to medium peaks and fold into yam paste; the mousse should be close to its setting temperature.

COCONUT JELLY (for 2* 160mm diameter charlotte)
50g coconut cream50g whipping cream
2 leaves gelatin50g simple syrup (1:1)
  • Heat the simple syrup with a pinch of salt till just boiling and whisk in bloomed gelatin leaves.
  • Whisk in coconut cream and simple syrup and allow to cool to room temperature before pouring over charlotte.

a sad thing, but I am definitely feeling the limitations of my culinary education. I can make charlottes and entremets, but what about the all-important gateaux? My posts are all starting to look a little plain and repetitive.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Starcraft 2 themed puddings

Here are some of the contributions to the Starcraft 2 themed buffet organised by Chris, photos of which are to be entered into the GOM TV photo contest. Together, we made a coconut charlotte, a yam charlotte, fruit jellies, chocolate mousse filled chocolate cups, and coffee macaroons.

The charlottes were to act as stands for the zergling and zealot chocolate pieces above, hence the chocolate plaque atop them. The zergling chocolate piece attempt was definitely the better of the two. Initially, as both pieces were to sit on the same charlotte, the charlotte was to have a layer of adzuki bean, yam and coconut mousse to represent human, zerg and protoss blood respectively. A last minute change of plans made for the charlottes to be singly flavored. Along the sides of the cakes are also stenciled the iconic black and orange GOM TV logo. The photo far below is of the stencil paste as seen on the cake (the actual stencil used is a reflected version). Mutterations- I should have been more careful in the piping of the logo as they spread during the baking. However, I am really happy with the yam mousse and shall definitely be posting a finalized version of this in the future.

The fox shaped fruit jelly is a tribute to FXO.GuMiho (gumiho = fox in Korean and gumi also sounds like gummy- the jelly). It took several trials to get the pectin and acid ratio right to obtain firm fruit jellies, kinda like solid jam. Left on their own they seem to cope alright, however, covered in sugar and given enough time they suck in a ridiculous amount of moisture, melting and oozing themselves into a very sorry state. Anyway, the foxy orange colored jelly is orange, mango and passion fruit flavored while the purple cubes of jelly is grape.

Massive disclaimer here wrt the chocolate cups, which were a definite case of trial and error (molded chocolates are only to be covered in the superior patisserie course that I shan't be attending). I think I am slowly getting the hang of them now; as always its about the temperature of the chocolate and having TWO coatings to get the required chocolate thickness. You can't see the wording, but 'SLAYERS' was piped onto the chocolate mould in reference to SlayerS.CoCa. The cups were filled with chocolate mousse and marshmellows.

Last are the macaroons (MarineKing) with a coffee buttercream filling to replicate the effect of stimpacks, what with the caffeine and energy overload. These are Chris' little handiwork and never again shall the world see such intense concentration as he exhibited while piping the initial few out. Sadly I don't have a photo of them as they pushed us over the time constraint and the buttercream filling even had the audacity to curdle.

All in, a big well done and thank you to Chris who expended a lot of hard work and time in to this. The self-imposed drudge has taken a whole reel of photographs during the making of the puddings and is also putting together a mini-clip to be submitted to GOM TV, complete with Korean subtitles. I really hope he makes it to Korean stardom.

Update: I have yet to collect the thumbdrive from Chris with all the photos to post, however, he has made a short clip about the buffet. Please check it out here.