Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Banana and White Chocolate Muffins



In the last couple of months I've been quietly reminding myself get into the swing of blogging things. This undoubtedly has proven to be a bigger task that I thought it would be. The space between posts is somewhat sad and it serves as a reminder of what weekends were like - early starts to churn out dish after dish, which were then whisked out onto the porch to be photographed to its glory. I've been trying to emulate that feeling on more than one occasion but failed miserably. I've lost my touch.

Not one to be defeated, I woke up this weekend, gung-ho - adamant that I am going to get over this plateau and make a proper comeback. Not some weepy, half-assed attempt I've made in the past. So with the determination of a warrior, I cooked lunch for the family -  chicken curry, chicken in soy sauce and cabbage with mustard seeds and egg.


Despite that sounding like a lot of food, I had one more recipe up my sleeve. You see, earlier in the morning, I woke up from a lovely weekend slumber, with a deep longing for a warm banana and white chocolate muffin. Not quite sure where the craving has come from seeing that I am on a strict diet and exercise regiment but  who am I to resist a muffin urge. So off to the kitchen I go, and well, well, what do I find? Overly ripe bananas, to the point of mush, which required immediate use. 15 minutes later and 10 large muffin liners were filled and ready for the oven.

The result was pretty amazing. Light, fluffy, sweet and healthy(?) muffins ready to be devoured!


Banana and White Chocolate Muffins

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking 

Makes 10 large muffins

Ingredients

225g all purpose flour
100g caster sugar
55g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp salt
120g white chocolate, chopped up into chunks
450g ripe bananas, mashed
113g melted butter, cooled
2 large eggs, lighten beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method 
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Line pan with 10 muffin liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt and white chocolate chunks.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the mashed bananas, melted butter, eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. With a spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined and batter is thick and chunky. 
  5. It is very important not to overmix muffin batter as it will yeild dense, rubbery muffins. 
  6. Fill the 3/4 of the lined tins with batter and bake for 25 minutes or until skewer inserted into the muffin comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and transfer muffins onto a wire rack to cool.
  8. Best served warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Salted Fish and Pork Belly Claypot (Ham Yue Fah Lam Poh)


Malaysian Chinese food has always been one of the great loves of my life. I’m talking fresh ingredients, tossed in hot wok with ginger, onions and garlic (the good stuff), and seasoned to perfection with soy sauce/oyster sauce/sesame oil, all ready in less than ten minutes.  



Going out for Chinese food is a weekly affair however when we do eat out, we tend to gravitate to the same dishes; Stir-fry Kai Lan (Chinese broccoli), Kam Heong Lala (clams), Egg Fu Yong and Ham Yue Fah Lam Poh (Salted Fish and Pork Belly Claypot). 



I was introduced to the Salted Fish and Pork Belly Claypot dish a few months ago, and haven’t looked back since! It sounds like an odd combination, salted fish and pork belly, but it works. Cooked in a claypot, the pork belly remains tender, juicy and flavourful. The addition of fresh ginger, onions, dried chillies and spring onions adds freshness and colour. The rice wine is a key ingredient as it really amalgamates the flavours together creating a lovely dish, worthy of restaurant standards.
  


This dish takes about 15 minutes to put together and is best served with rice. Perfect weekday meal! 




Salted Fish and Pork Belly Claypot (Ham Yue Fah Lam Poh)

Recipe adapted from Amy Beh

Ingredients

150g pork belly, thinly sliced

70g boneless salted fish, fried till crispy
6 slices of fresh ginger
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 dried red chilles, cut into 3cm sections, de-seeded (I left the seeds in for the extra kick)
2 stalks spring onions, cut into 4cm lenghts

Seasoning A
1.5 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
0.5 tsp sugar
0.25 tsp pepper
0.5 tsp chicken stock granules

Seasoning B
1 tbsp Hua Tiau wine (chinese rice wine)
2-3 tbsp fresh chicken stock
1 tbsp thick soy sauce 

Method


  1. Marinate pork with seasoning A for 5 minutes.
  2. Heat claypot over a high heat. Add the marinated pork, ginger and onions. Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove the cover and add seasoning B, dried chillies and salted fish pieces. 
  4. Stir well to combine then cover the claypot once more. 
  5. The dish is done when you see smoke escaping through the hole in the lid, or if using a wok, after 3 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat. Add the spring onions and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Black Forest Cupcakes



After the previous diabetes inducing post, I figured I better take it down a notch on the sweetness Richter scale. And so here you have… Black Forest Cupcakes! Not exactly sin-free but these are incredibly delectable. You only live once so what the heck, right?


These cupcakes are a combination of soft chocolate cake which is drizzled with cherry syrup (or cherry liquor if you prefer), topped with cherry buttercream and decorated with a single cherry. These cupcakes really do taste like a bite size version of a Black Forest Cake. However if you’re a purist and insist that the frosting should involve some form of cream, then by all means go ahead. The only reason why I chose to use buttercream was due to its durability. I needed these cupcakes to remain in perfect condition for at least 24 hours as they were made for order. Having done some research, it became clear that whipping cream based icing without the addition of a stabilizer wouldn’t last for more than a few hours. *I have included a recipe for both versions of frosting, so it really is your choice!

 
Black Forest Cupcakes

Adapted from BBC Food

Cupcake Ingredients

125g butter, softened
160g caster sugar
2 eggs
200g self raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa power
125ml milk
100g dark chocolate, melted

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Prepare and line a muffin tray.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, until combined.
  3. Sift in flour and cocoa powder and mix until incorporated.
  4. Fold in milk and melted chocolate.
  5. Spoon mixture into liners and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until well risen.
  6. Remove and cool before icing.

Cherry Buttercream Icing Ingredients (Option I)

Tinned cherries, pitted

150g unsalted butter, softened
200g-250g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp corn flour + a little water to make a smooth paste
Chocolate sprinkles

Method
  1. Drain cherries in a sieve, collecting the syrup in a bowl below. 
  2. Pierce each cake numerous times with a skewer and carefully pour about a teaspoon of cherry syrup over each cake.
  3. To make the cherry drizzle, heat remaining syrup with the cornflour paste in a small saucepan until just boiling. Remove from heat and beat to thicken. Set aside.
  4. To make buttercream, beat butter until really soft. Gradually add the icing sugar and cherry syrup.
  5. * The cherry syrup will give the buttercream a light pink/purple tinge. If you prefer a more vibrant colour, add a couple of drops of a food colouring of your choice.
  6. Pipe buttercream onto cupcakes.
  7. Top each cupcake with a cherry and decorate each cupcake with some cherry drizzle and chocolate sprinkles.
Whipping Cream Frosting (Option II)

Lightly whip 300ml double cream and pipe onto cakes. Decorate as desired.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Roasted Vegetable Tart



So after much persuasion from family and friends, I am back indefinitely. The last few months have been a whirlwind of birthdays, festivities, impromptu parties and ridiculous amounts of socialising. You know it’s bad when you get a text from the parents complaining that they haven’t seen me in 4 days, despite living under the same roof!

In an attempt to get back into the blogging groove, I made a Roasted Vegetable Tart; a Bon Appetite recipe I’ve been eyeing for many months now. It was also an opportunity to experiment with a recipe from my latest collection of books; Richard Bertinet’s Pastry. Having lived in Bath, I always found myself walking past his cooking school, peeking through the windows all the while marvelling at all those at work, wishing that I had the money to enrol in any one of his classes.



His step-by-step method (accompanied by some gorgeous photographs!) really helped me understand the process and the importance of certain steps when making shortcrust pastry. Needless to say, this is probably the best shortcrust pastry I’ve ever made. It was light, crumbly yet crisp and so delicious.


Paired with layers of sweet roasted peppers, roasted garlic, onions, aubergines, balsamic cherry tomatoes and feta cheese, this tart is perfect for any occasion!

* The original recipe called for the use of sweet potatoes, fennel and goats cheese but I decided to omit these as I didn't quite fancy making a trip to the grocery store!




Roasted Vegetable Tart

Makes a 9 inch tart

Shortcrust pastry recipe from Richard Bertinet's 'Pastry'

Vegetable tart adapted from Yotam Ottelenghi (Bon Appetite)

Shortcrust Pastry

*Can be made a day ahead. Store in an airtight container.

Ingredients

250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
125g butter, straight from the fridge
1 egg
35g cold water

Method
  1. Flatten the butter slightly between two parchment sheets and add into the bowl of flour.
  2. Cover the butter well and tear it into large pieces.
  3. Flake the flour and butter together until shards of butter are the size of your little fingernail.
  4. Tip in the egg, add the water and mix everything together.
  5. Mix everything with a plastic scraper (or with a spoon if your prefer), until it forms a very rough dough that shouldn't be sticky at all.
  6. Turn the pastry onto the work surface, and work the dough with both hands.
  7. Once the dough comes together, tap each side on the work surface to square it off so that when you roll it, you start off with a good shape.
  8. Wrap the pastry in greaseproof paper and rest in the fridge for an hour or preferably overnight.
  9. To roll out, lightly dust work surface with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry back and forth in short sharp movements. Keep lifting pastry after every 2-3 rolls to avoid it sticking to the work surface.
  10. Drape pastry over tin of your choice. Let the pastry fall inside, easing it gently down the sides and base of the tin, without pulling or streching.
  11. Leave pastry to hang over the edges. Prick the base of pastry with a fork. Place a sheet of baking parchement over the pastry, tip baking beans in and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  12. Blind bake the pastry for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. 
  13. Leave to cool then fill with desired filling. 

Roasted Vegetable Tart

Ingredients

2 bell peppers, yellow and red

2 medium eggplants, cut into ½" cubes
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
2 small onion, sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic
9 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
4 ounces feta cheese
2 eggs
¾ cup heavy cream
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method
  1. Arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 200°C.
  2. Slice bell peppers in half and remove stems and seeds. Transfer to a baking dish, drizzle with 2 tbsp of oil and roast on the upper rack of the oven for about 30 mins. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with cling film and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Peel peppers to remove the skin, then tear into strips. Set aside
  3. Meanwhile, toss the eggplant and garlic cloves with 4 tbsp of oil, salt and pepper. Spread it out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast on lower rack for 20 minutes.
  4. Line another baking tray and toss tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Arrange tomatoes on tray and roast for 15-20 minutes until tomatoes begin to brown slightly and become tender. Set aside.
  5. Heat remaining oil in a skillet and add onions. Cook and stir frequently for 5 minutes until onion begin to slightly soften. Remove with slotted spoon and transfer to paper towel-lined plate.
  6. Before assembling the tart, preheat oven to 180°C.
  7. Scatter onion mixture over bottom of tart crust. Top with eggplant and roasted peppers. Scatter 1 tsp of thyme over the vegetables and top with feta cheese and roasted tomatoes.
  8. Whisk eggs and cream in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper. Slowly pour this mixture over the vegetables.
  9. Scatter remaining thyme over the top and bake until filing in set, 50-60 minutes.
  10. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
  11. Best served with a side salad.