Monday, October 10, 2011

Matcha Tsubu'an Macaron Pops & Congratulations!

Tadaa!  Did you guess it right?  Did you did you did you??? :D

Matcha Tsubu'an Macaron Pops, or Green Tea Powder Sweetened Red Bean Paste Macaron Pops.  Goodness!  What a mouthful!  haha  The recipe for this one will be up on the next post.  =D  I promise that the marriage of these two flavors are sooo wonderful, you'll be dreaming about it.  At least I did, and I am now again...

Here's the congratulatory part...  I don't have a cake, I couldn't be there, and I don't have a bouquet of flowers, but I have a bouquet of macaron pops for a dear, dear friend who just recently got married.

Pei Pei, I just wanted to say congratulations again, and sorry for the botched surprise, all thanks to a certain Ms. K.  ahem ahem...  Here's to wishing you a life full of wonderful sweetness, all rolled up into a colorful bouquet of happiness!  xoxoxoxoxo  p/s:  Ms. K, regardless of any botched surprise or not, I still love ya!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Take a guess??

Do take a guess, what's coming up next? ;)

Hint:  It's a culture crossover XD  heheee 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rahmschnitzel mit Pommes Frites und Kirschtomaten

Guten Tag!  I love me some schnitzel, and that recent German trip was a blast in that sense!  All sorts of schnitzels, more than I could count.  However, I'm still terrible when it comes to cooking a good schnitzel wiener, or pork schnitzel.  So back home here, I used chicken, which technically should be called Hähnchenschnitzel, instead.  So why didn't I call it Hähnchenschnitzel then?  Well, see, I also serve it with mushroom cream sauce, as I have previously promised darling hubby during his recovery from wisdom teeth extraction.  We seem to crave what we're not allowed to eat.  Anyway, I was torn.  I almost named the title "Marrying Hähnchenschnitzel und Rahmschnitzel", but that doesn't sound quite correct...  Hence the above name, Cream Schnitzel with Potato Fries and Cherry Tomato. 

1- If you pound your chicken steak into a more consistent thickness, it will cook more evenly.
2- I prefer panko, Japanese bread crumbs, for its crunchiness, but you can use any types of bread crumbs you prefer.
3- I prefer chicken leg meat for its tenderness, but feel free to substitute with chicken breast meat if you prefer.

Rahmschnitzel mit Pommes Frites und Kirschtomaten 

2 pieces chicken leg meat
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup panko
1-2 cups oil for frying

2 cups store bought french fries
Cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste

Clean and de-fat chicken leg meat.
Using a meat tenderizer, pound the meat until roughly similar in thickness.
Lightly beat salt, pepper, and eggs together.
Heat up frying oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
Dredge leg meat through all purpose flour, egg, and panko (in this order).
Pan fry leg meat until golden brown.

Oven bake/fry french fries according to box instructions.

In a small pan over medium heat, melt butter and mix in flour, and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring all the while.
Stir in milk and mushroom.
Stir constantly until you have a consistent and smooth texture.

Ladle sauce over chicken and serve with cherry tomatoes and french fries.  Best served with German beer ;)  Personally I prefer colabier (mixture of cola and beer) or radler (mixture of lemon soda and beer).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Banana Cointreau Pancake

I was on the Ruby Princess last year.  At dinner one night, there was this delicious dessert.  Simple, yet wonderful.  Don't ask me the name though.  Seriously, I don't remember.  What I remembered, was it was made with just a few simple things really.  Vanilla ice cream, banana, lemon, sugar, and Grand Marnier.  How delightfully simple and delicious.  

When I first came home, I realized that I didn't have vanilla ice cream, and substituted it with chocolate ice cream scoops.   Nope, that did not work!  The chocolate flavor in the ice cream totally overwhelmed the delicate and subtler flavors of citrus and banana.  Nope!  After that however, I didn't remember trying to do this when I had a full tub of ice cream in my fridge.  What a silly silly person!  Yup, that's me alright!

One weekend morning, I decided that I wanted to make pancakes, crepe-like pancakes.  Ya know, like the one over here, for Strawberry Crepe Rolls.  I love just munching on the slightly sweet pancake just as is, and I love it with a crispy edge.  While she's making them, I'm always hanging around, pulling the crispy edges off from the pancakes, and leaving the softer center parts on the plate.  She would scold me, but I think deep down, she probably found that amusing.  Or at least I hope she did! hahaha

I went off on a tangent didn't I?  Ok ok, I'm back I'm back.  So, I had banana in my pantry, and I was just thinking what I should do with my Cointreau again...  Need I say more?  Let's jump in! 

1- Instead of Grand Marnier, I used Cointreau.  You can substitute with any orange liqueur you have or prefer.
2- The alcohol in the liqueur should have mostly been evaporated by the time it's done.  However, if you don't wanna take any chances, do try and substitute with juice from a full orange with 2 tablespoons of orange zest.
3- Pair it with lemonade would bring out the citrusy flavor even more.
4- Avoid anything too strong, like strong coffee, for it will overwhelm the softer flavors of the pancake.  I like it paired with latte however.

Banana Cointreau Pancake 

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt
water (about 1-1/2 cup)
butter for pan frying (about 3 tbsp)
Banana Topping
2 bananas, sliced
3 tbsp sugar
1 lemon
3 tbsp Cointreau
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and egg in a 2-cup measuring cup.
Then fill the measuring cup with water to the 2-cup line.
Whisk and combine well.
Heat up a frying pan over medium heat with a little butter.
When the butter has melted and started bubbling a little, pour some crepe batter into the pan (about 1/4 cup).
Tilt the pan around so that the batter forms a rough circle.
Fry until the edge both sides are lightly browned.
Repeat the frying until all batter has been used up.
Combine sugar, juice from a lemon, and Cointreau in a pan, when sugar has melted and starting to bubble, add in sliced bananas.
Cook until banana slightly soften around the edge.
Plate banana and sauce over crepe and serve.

Enjoy and have a good week to come!  If you try this, let me know what you paired it with and how you like it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bartlett Pear Preserve

Does anyone have any memories of tasting something just once, and it stuck so deeply in your mind, even after a decade?  That happened to me.  That happened to me and pear preserve.  The most common jams and preserves I've had are berries, apricot, and orange marmalade.  Prior to making this baby myself, I've only tasted pear preserve once.  Just once.

It was Autumn 1996.  I went on a 10-day Japan home-stay exchange under the LEX Language Research Foundation and Hippo Family Club program.  It was my first trip to Japan, and I still remember it like it happened just yesterday.  When I was staying with the Muto family, okaasan (mother in Japanese, that was how I addressed her) bought me sushi for dinner one evening.  Unfortunately, I was having a bad spell of migraine and any smell seemed to multiply itself by 10.  Needless to say, the raw fish didn't go down well that night.  I felt really bad, having wasted her warm hospitality.  Even now when I think back upon it, I still hope she understands that it wasn't the food or the culture, it was me and my horribly-timed migraine.  See, I couldn't speak Japanese back then and she didn't understand English very well.  All I knew was arigatou (thank you), konnichiwa (greeting), hai (yes), and samui (cold).  So I couldn't tell if she understood what I was saying.  Anyway, I went to bed earlier that night after some medication and woke up feeling much better in the morning.

When I went seeking for okaasan in the morning after brushing and cleaning, I found her in the kitchen with two dictionaries on the table and a note.  She had taken the time to look up words between two dictionaries and wrote a note for me.  The gist of it saying that she hoped I'm feeling much better and actually apologized for the food upsetting my stomach.  Instantly, I felt a warm and fuzzy feeling spreading all over me.  Then, she sat me down on the table and brought out a simple breakfast for me that tasted so good, I remember it to this day.  It was a thick slice of toast, covered in slightly melted cheese, and had a kind of jam spreaded over it.  Warm melty cheese toast with cold jam/preserve?  One bite was all it took.  I had to ask her what it was.  She looked up the dictionary and smiling, said: "Toast, cheese, and pear jam."

It's been more than 10 years now, but that simple breakfast stuck in my mind, unwilling to let go.  I tried looking for pear preserves, but they really aren't that common.  So, I decided to do my own research and make them myself.  And here, is one of my most cherished memory of Japan and okaasan, all wrapped up in one simple recipe.  It is my wish that you'll have beautiful memories with this pear preserve recipe as well. 

1- Jam and preserve are slightly different in a sense that preserves have bigger chunks of fruit whereas jams are mostly finely pureed.
2- If you prefer you may use pectin instead of lemon pith.  I just prefer using lemon pith because since I'm using lemon juice, there's the pith right there with it!
3- Sitting the pear slices in sugar overnight allows the fruit to release its juices.  I've also read that it helps the pears not to float up on top of your jar after cooking.
4- While preparing the pears, immerse the sliced pears into a bowl of cold water to prevent browning, especially if you have a large batch of pears.
5- If you prefer, do throw away the pith after cooking, or you can put it in a teabag or a tea-strainer for easier removal post-cooking.
6- To see what part of lemon is a pith, please see my Peach Preserve recipe.

Bartlett Pear Preserve

1-1/2 lb Bartlett pear, sliced
1 C sugar
1 bowl cold water
Juice from 1 lemon

Wash, peel, and core the pears.
Cut pears into thin slices.
As you are cutting, immerse the pear slices into the bowl of cold water to prevent browning.  (Tip #4)
Drain water from the pear slices and toss well with sugar.
Cover tightly, and leave overnight or at least 12 hours.
Next day...
Half a lemon and squeeze out the juice and set aside.
Cut off the tip of the lemon and open up the lemon peel.
Carefully, place your paring knife between the pith and peel, and cut out the pith from the peel.
Place all pear and sugar mixture, lemon juice, and pith into a medium sized sauce pan.
Heat the pan over high heat until the mixture boils.
Once the mixture is boiling, turn down the heat to medium low and simmer for 2-3 hours until thickened and fruit pieces have all softened.
*Do not worry too much if it still seems slightly watery, it will continue to thicken as it cools.
After the preserve has cooled, transfer the preserve into a clean jar and store in fridge.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Curry Curry Night: Chicken Curry, Bak Kut Sooi, & Five Spice Tofu Stirfry

Anyone else cooked curry on August 21st?  For those who aren't familiar with news in Singapore, where many of my friends are from, here's a quick summary from Temasek Review Emeritus.

I'm not trying to get political on any sides.  I'm not a Singaporean, I'm not associated with any event creators or any parties directly involved in the original hoo-ha.  I'm merely a fellow Earthling, who has Singaporean friends and relatives, who enjoys different sorts of curries, who believes that anyone has the right to cook whatever cultural dish they want to.  I'm writing this from a stand point of a cook.

I'll make and eat nato (Japanese fermented soybean), kimchee (Korean fermented cabbage), sauerkraut (German fermented cabbage), stinky tofu (a type of Chinese tofu dish), menudo (Mexican dish made with beef stomach), or curry if I like.  It's not as if I'm going cannibalistic and start eating fellow human flesh here.  So what's up with eating what I want and most importantly, cooking something that's intimately linked to my culture?

Anyone who knows belacan knows how strong it smells.  Belacan is a type of shrimp paste, an essential ingredient used in many Southeast Asian dishes.  Its smell can be described as pungent or fragrant, depending on if you like it or not.  On occasion, I still cook with belacan.  I'm lucky I don't live in HDB flat (flats are the English equivalent for the American apartment), where every many units are in close proximity.  However, I dare anyone to try pan frying belacan or making sambal belacan in their home with windows closed and then tell me their house does not smell.  Regardless of how great your love for belacan, you will find not only your hair and clothes smells like belacan, your whole house will smell like it.  That is why we love our stoves near the window.


I'm not Indian by ethnicity, I can't imagine being told not to cook curry, or in this case, only cook when the neighbors are not around.  But I can imagine being told not to cook with belacan, or only to cook belacan when my neighbors are gone.  If that were to be the case, that would mean I would almost never get to cook it.  Cripes!  Can you imagine being told not to cook a dish that's so intimately linked to your culture?  It's like being told to BBQ only when your neighbors are not home.  Or being told to cook chile relleno only when your neighbors are away.  Or being told to cook (insert cultural dish here) only when your neighbors are away.

Anyway, my point is, food is one of the most unifying factors that crosses countries and boundaries.  In fact, in my humble opinion, it is the factor that can unite people across the globe.  There are steakhouses in Asia, sushi restaurants in America, pizzas in Australia, kebob sold in Europe, crepes sold in Japan.  Let's cook and eat to be friendlier with each other, not against each other.  So here's a pot of curry that I share with all who visits this page.  Let's be friends, not enemies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cherries: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (cheat version)

What do you do with leftover chocolate cake layers?  I love schwarzwälder kirschtorte, also called Black Forest Cake, Black Forest Cherry Cake, or Black Forest Gateau.  After making one just a few weeks ago, I was left with one, single layer of chocolate cake.  That's just too little for a full cake, but to throw it away would have been so wasteful.  So, I decided to do a little cheat version of the cake I love so much.

1- If you have leftover cake layers, wrap it tightly with plastic wraps and it should store in the freezer for about two weeks.
2- It doesn't necessary have to be a heart-shaped cake, go for anything you have or like.
3- Personally, I prefer using Kirschwasser, it literally means cherry water in German.  However, if you are serving this to a child or pregnant ladies, you can substitute it with syrup from canned cherries mixed with simple sugar syrup (see recipe below).
4- You will see multiple choices for the soaking liquid.  You can chose any versions you prefer depending on your own liking and who you are serving the cake to.
5- I'm using fresh Bing cherries which are sweeter, but you can also substitute with canned cherries if you prefer.  Sweet, tart, pie filling, any kind of cherries you have are fine.  Marachino cherries, however, does not go so well if used as the filling, decorations are fine though.
6- If you don't have piping tips or piping set, you can spread it with a knife and spoon, or cut a 1/4 inch tip out of a zip top plastic bag and pipe.
7- If Chantilly cream on the cake turned soft due to surrounding temperature, do chill it in the fridge for about 10 minutes before serving.

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (cheat version)

1 Chocolate chiffon cake layer
Arrange and using cookie cutters, cut out 3-6 shapes of the cake.
If the thickness of the cake is at or more than 3/4 inches, half it, so that it is about 1/2 inch thick.

Cherries, halved and pitted 
Depending on the size and shapes of your cake, you may need less or more of the cherries.

Chantilly Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Whip all three ingredients to stiff peak and store in refrigerator until it is ready to be used.

Soaking Syrup:
Choice I)
1/8 cup kirschwasser

Choice II)
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
Boil the two ingredients until dissolved for a simple syrup.
Cool the syrup and set aside for later use.

Choice III)
3 tbsp simple syrup
3 tbsp kirschwasser
Mix all ingredients and set aside for later use.

Choice IV)
3 tbsp simple syrup
3 tbsp syrup from canned cherries
Mix all ingredients and set aside for later use.

Choice V)
2 tbsp simple syrup
2 tbsp syrup from canned cherries
2 tbsp kirschwasser
Mix all ingredients and set aside for later use.

After cutting out cake shapes, immediately brush with your choice of soaking liquid so that the cakes does not dry out.
Set first layer on a plate and pipe a thick later of Chantilly cream around the border.
Set cherry halves on the cake.
Add a little more Chantilly cream to fill the spaces between the cherries.
Place another layer of cake on top of the first layer, with soaked layer facing bottom.
Brush the top of the second layer of cake with soaking syrup.
Repeat procedure of piping cream and placing cherry halves on cake.
Place third layer of cake over the second layer of cream and cherries.
Decorate top of the cake with Chantilly cream, and decorate with more cherry halves.
Dust with cocoa powder if you wish.

You can also cover the whole cake with cream as shown in the picture below.  Whatever you wish, you can make em!  As the title of the blog suggests:  PLAY!  Have fun, enjoy! ^^