Friday, 30 March 2012

Mochaccino Cupcakes


Mochaccino Cupcakes - Just look at that beauty!
I’ll start off by saying, if there is one thing you need to make this weekend, this has to be it! Mochaccino Cupcakes. Two words and one bite that will blow your mind. I was going to say it will change your life, but that’s a bit dramatic.. or maybe not. Because these cupcakes are seriously delicious! Magnificently moist and incredibly moreish. Each cupcake has a perfect balance of cake, coffee and chocolate! The triple C-threat! So have I got your attention yet? 

This love story started with my impulse purchase of espresso coated espresso beans. I scoffed some straightaway but then realised how cute these beans would look on top of a cupcake. After some serious researching and recipe surfing, I found this recipe.

For the cake, I slightly adapted Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe; I omitted the espresso and instead upped the amount of coffee powder. For the frosting, I used my standard buttercream recipe as the base, but added coffee and melted chocolate. Finally, leftover melted chocolate was drizzled over the top of the frosting and decorated with an espresso coated espresso bean.

The girls at work loved it, my mum loved it, and I needless to say loved it. Honestly this might be my favourite cupcake recipe to date, sorry Green Tea cupcakes, you’ve been pipped to the post. 
Mochaccino Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

Cupcake recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and My Baking Addiction

Ingredients

Cupcakes

1½ cup / 192 g flour
⅓ cup / 43 g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup / 120 ml milk
½ cup / 120 ml strong coffee, (I used 3 tbsp coffee + enough water to get 120 ml)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup / 113 g butter, room temperature
½ cup / 100 g sugar
½ cup / 110 g brown sugar
1 egg

Icing

200 g butter, softened
200 g icing sugar
2 -3 tsp coffee powder mixed with 1 tbsp water
50 g plain chocolate, melted

Decoration

20 g melted chocolate, for drizzle
Coffee beans

Method

  1. Mix coffee with water and leave to cool.
  2. In a glass, combine milk, coffee and vanilla in a glass.
  3. In a bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream both sugar and butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and mix until incorporated well.
  5. Finally add flour mix and coffee mix to the creamed butter alternatively.
  6. Fill lined cupcake tin and bake in pre-heated oven at 180°C for 18-20 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool.
  8. To make the icing, beat butter until it turns a pale yellow. Add icing sugar, a little at a time. Finally add the coffee and melted chocolate. 
  9. Pipe icing according to desired pattern and drizzle melted chocolate over it.
  10. Top with coffee bean.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Daring Bakers' March 2012 - Tiger Bread

 Beautiful tiger patterns!
Another month passes us by which means it’s time for another Daring Baker’s challenge to be revealed! Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!
 Tiger rolls
Only after looking at the photos provided by Sara and Erica did I realise that Dutch Crunch bread was another name for the infamous Tiger Bread that hit the bread aisle a few years ago! It’s become a firm favourite of mine ever since Gavin introduced it to me, not so much because of the deliciousness of the bread but more because of the pretty crust patterns!

This loaf didn't have the height I was looking for but was still delicious! Nothing quite like eating bread fresh from the oven, with lots and lots of butter!
Finding out that it was our challenge to replicate this gorgeous loaf got me excited as this bread hasn’t quite hit the Malaysian shores yet and I haven’t had my Tiger Loaf fix in months!. Sourcing for rice flour in Malaysia is hardly a problem with all ingredients at hand I set about to making my first Tiger bread!

In the recipe provided, we had the choice of making rolls or a loaf. Having never made rolls before, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try my hand at making some. And having made some now, I am officially addicted! These rolls were perfect, soft and fluffy yet substantial enough (with filling) as main meal. Take note, this recipe is definitely a keeper!

The Dutch Crunch was a lovely addition but I don’t think I have properly mastered it yet. Firstly I added too much water to the topping mix which resulted in a very watery coating which spread all over the sides of the rolls. Secondly I also noticed that resting the Dutch Crunch topping resulted in a very powdery coating which left a funny taste in my mouth. I’ve tested it out and it seems that using the topping straight away prevents the powdery texture and taste from forming.  I’m not sure if it’s something only I have come across but I would love to hear what you think!

Bread making process; notice how watery the topping was! Silly me!
For my second attempt, I made a loaf. It turned out to a mighty big one and this time it seems like I may have made the topping too thick and heavy as it weighed down the loaf during the baking process. Nevertheless it was delicious. 

Also I never got around to photographing the second part of the challenge where we were meant to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread. The remainder of the loaf was used in a bread pudding which was delicious!

Tiger Bread

Makes 6 rolls or 1 large loaf

Ingredients

Soft White Rolls

1 tbsp active dried yeast

½ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1½ tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1½ tsp salt
Up to 4 cups of plain flour

Topping

1 tbsp active dried yeast
½ cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ tsp salt
1½ cup rice flour (If using homemade rice flour, increase the quantity by half a cup)

Method


Soft White Rolls
  1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and leave to sit for 5 minutes until it starts becoming foamy.
  2. Add the vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using a dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at a medium speed until the dough comes together.
  3. Add remaining flour, a quarter cup at a time until dough starts pulling away from the sides. Usually takes about 1½ to 2 cups of flour to get to this point.
  4. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place in a lightly greased bowl and leave to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
  6. Once dough has risen, turn out on to lightly floured surface and divide into six portions, if making rolls.
  7. Shape and place on a tray lined with baking parchment. The least amount of handling of the dough at this point, the better.
  8. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Prepare topping and coat the rolls with a healthy amount. Place baking tray in pre-heated oven immediately.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 190°C, until the tops crack and turn a nice golden brown colour.
Topping  
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat hard with a whisk until combined. The consistency should be like royal icing but not too watery. If too watery, add more flour, and if it's too thick, add some water.
  2. The recipe says to leave the topping to stand for 15 minutes, but I found that it produces a very powdery texture.
  3. Coat rolls/loaf with a thick layer of topping. Using the back of a spoon works well. *A thin layer of topping won't provide the desired tiger effect.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Vietnamese Rice-Noodle Salad

Vietnamese Rice-Noodle Salad
Keeping up with the healthy theme this blog has been going through recently, it’s only appropriate to continue it methinks, especially as I have a lush recipe that I am excited to share with you today. Not only is this recipe fun to put together, it is colourful and delicious! Plus it’s really good diet food!
Colourful ingredients - my favourite!
Vietnamese rice-noodle salad is pretty much a staple in every Vietnamese restaurant and is normally served with slices or skewers of chicken or pork, and sometimes, if you’re lucky with crispy spring rolls. My version however is a vegetarian one, and don’t let that put you off because this is one heck of a delicious bowl of noodles and salad! Just think of a light refreshing salad and rice noodles, bathed in a flavourful Vietnamese sauce that is sweet, salty and sour and spicy all at the same time.

I also added pomegranate seeds which add a bit of a crunch, but this is entirely optional.
Yummy, healthy salad!



Vietnamese Rice-Noodle Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 carrots, shredded
Cucumber, shredded
Beansprouts
Rice noodles/vermicelli
Mint leaves
Basil, optional
Chilli, birds eye or any chilli of your choice
Pomegranate seeds

Sauce 

Sugar
Water
Rice vinegar
2 tbsp fish sauce
Minced garlic
Chili pepper
Lime, juiced

Method
  1. Soak rice noodles/vermicelli in hot water for a few minutes until hydrated.
  2. Remove and drain and place at the bottom of a bowl.
  3. Add the shredded cucumber, carrot, beansprouts, mint and basil leaves, pomegranate and diced chillies.
  4. Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a separate bowl. I have not included the measurements for the ingredients so you can adjust it to suit your taste preference.
  5. Pour a few tablespoons of the sauce over the noodles and vegetables and mix.
  6. Enjoy immediately!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Tomato and basil bruschetta
So my ankle is still giving me trouble and is refusing to heal, which means that I have been deprived of any form of exercise for the past two and a half weeks, and this is driving me mad! I'm feeling unfit and flabby and I am really starting to miss running.

The fear of piling on the pounds has left me monitoring my food intake somewhat religiously, and it's something I don't particularly enjoy. I mean, do calories even mean anything when faced with a slice of luscious cheese pizza? Normally I would say no, but right now, my brain is telling me YES YES YES!! Calories mean everything!

And so I push aside the thoughts of a delicious pizza and instead indulge in this tomato and basil bruschetta on a slice of homemade ciabatta. It's simple to throw together, delicious as these classic flavours compliment each other wonderfully and above all healthy!

And really, it tastes almost as good as pizza!

Tomato Bruschetta

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

1 large tomato, de-seeded and chopped
Handful of basil leaves, torn
3 garlic cloves, diced finely
A healthy glug of olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method 
  1. Mix all ingredients in a big bowl and mix well. Check for seasoning.
  2. Grill or toast a slice of ciabatta, or any crusty bread of your preference. 
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and top with tomato mix.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Chocolate Madeleines

Chocolate Madeleines
A couple of weekends ago I found this Madeleine pan in Daiso which is the Japanese equivalent of the Pound shop that has set base in Malaysia. Without hesitation I snapped this up and set myself the task of making my first ever madeleines!

Madeleines are little shell shaped cakes/petit fours which originate from France and are the perfect tea time treat. Having never made these before I wanted a relatively simple flavour profile to work with and chocolate madeleines seemed the way forward. 
I’ve read about the various techniques that needed to be utilised to create the perfect Madeleine, including resting the batter which is essential for the creation of the ‘bump’ madeleines are often associated with – seemingly this was not the case for this recipe. In fact this was probably the quickest baking experience I have had to date. The batter took literally minutes to throw together and the baking time took all of 10 minutes.

These Madeleines paired perfectly with a cuppa and disappeared in a short space of time! I am beyond chuffed that this cheap pan works just as well as one that would cost an arm and a leg and am looking forward to creating some interesting Madeleine flavours soon! Green tea perhaps..hmmm..

Chocolate Madeleines

Makes 15

Recipe from Almost Bourdain

Ingredients
2 eggs, room temp
cup caster sugar
cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa
60 g butter, melted 

Method
  1. Pre-heat oven to180°C.
  2. Whisk eggs and sugar, until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa powder in the bowl and mix.
  4. Gently fold in the melted butter until incorporated.
  5. Spoon batter into well greased madeleine pan and bake for 10 minutes, so springy to touch.
  6. Dust with icing sugar, if preferred.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Wasabi Popcorn



Wasabi popcorn!
On the ground floor of the building in which I work in, there is this wondrous grocery store which sells the most interesting food items from all around the world. This is where I can be found when the publishing world gets a bit too hectic. Wondering the aisle, reading labels and purchasing a whole lot of random items has become my guilty pleasure.
So when I stumbled upon this delightful tin of Wasabi Powder, I purchased  it on a whim without giving much thought to what I would actually use it for. I kept going back to the idea of making Wasabi popcorn and lo and behold that is what I made.
Making the wasabi paste itself was an interesting one! Apparently to create a paste with a strong hit, it is essential to turn the bowl, in which the paste has been mixed in, upside down! I'm guessing some sort of law of physics or chemistry applies here!


The paste is then mixed with melted butter and poured over freshly popped corn. This turned out to be a nice change from the usual sweet stuff  and  is pretty addictive. The wasabi flavour itself isn't too strong which is nice for me as I usually am  in agony from consuming too much wasabi in one go!


Also has anyone watched  the trailer for Despicable Me 2? I can't get enough of it and it's been on constant replay today!! It's sooo incredibly cute and  makes me laugh every time! Can't wait for the movie to be released :D

Finally, does anybody have any idea what I can do with the rest of this tin of wasabi powder?!


Wasabi Popcorn

Ingredients

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernals
3 tbsp melted butter
3 tsp wasabi paste 
Salt

Method
  1. In a large pot, heat oil on a medium heat. Add 3-4 kernals to the pot and cover.
  2. When the kernals start to pop, remove pot from heat for 30 seconds, then put it back on the heat. This allows the heat to even out.
  3. Add the remaining kernels and cover. However if possible leave the lid slightly open to allow moisture to escape leaving the popcorn crunchier. Leave to pop.
  4. In the meantime, mix the melted butter with the wasabi paste.
  5. Once the popping slows down, seconds between pops, remove from heat and transfer the popcorn to a big bowl.
  6. Drizzle the wasabi butter all over the popcorn and toss.
  7. Finish the popcorn off with a sprinkling of salt.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Daring Cooks' March 2012 - Braised Sea Bass in Chilli and Garlic Sauce

Braised Sea Bass in Chilli and Garlic Sauce
The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.

Braising is a cooking technique which incorporates two methods of cooking; the first step normally involves a method which ‘seals’ the flavour of the produce used. The second step incorporates the use of a sauce/liquid in which the produce is further cooked in.

Some of the colourful and healthy ingredients; chillies, ginger, spring onions and garlic.
Braising meat is a familiar technique for most cooks and something which I have done a number of times. So in the spirit of being a Daring Cook I wanted to try something slightly different ie. seafood, and possibly Asian inspired seeing that lots of Chinese dishes incorporate the braising technique. Looking through my recipe books and recipes online, I found that braising recipes mainly  focused on meats and to an extent, vegetables. 

The step by step process of creating this dish
I finally came across a Szechuan inspired recipe called Braised Fish with Chilli and Garlic Sauce and I knew that this was to be my challenge recipe for this month!

This recipe took all of 30 minutes to prepare and cook. The fish turned out to be wonderfully flavourful  and fresh and light and was absolutely delicious paired with a plate of steaming rice! Although the photos indicate a lot of chilli has been added to this dish, the final dish was not overly spicy. It had a lovely heat which came  through but not spicy enough to cause you to break out in a sweat.

If you intend on making this dish, and you're not a fan of chillies, simply omit the fresh chillies :)

Needless to say this was a wonderful dish which has been added to the recipe book and one which I will continue to make time and time again!

Braised Sea Bass in Chilli and Garlic Sauce

Serves 4 


Ingredients

1 sea bass/bream/trout/grouper etc, gutted
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar/ dry sherry
Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, finely sliced
2-3 stalks of spring onions, chopped. Separate the white and green parts.
2 tbsp chilli bean sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2-3 drops of sesame oil
½ cup chicken/fish/vegetable stock
1 tbsp cornflour + 2 tsp water, (optional)

Method
  1. Rinse and dry fish. Score both sides with a sharp knife to the bone.
  2. Rub both sides of fish with light soy sauce and rice vinegar/dry sherry. Leave to marinade for 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, mix the chilli bean sauce, tomato puree, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil and stock to create a sauce. 
  4. Heat sufficient oil for deep frying in a wok or a large pan. Fry fish for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from heat.
  5. In a new pan, heat one tablespoon of oil and add the garlic, ginger, white spring onions and chilli. Fry for 30 seconds and add the sauce. When the sauce starts to boil, place the fish back in the pan. Add half of the green spring onions and leave to simmer until sauce starts to thicken, about 4 minutes. If needed, add the cornflour paste to thicken the sauce.
  6. Garnish the fish with remaining green spring onions. Best served with rice.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Claypot Seafood Rice

Claypot Seafood Rice
Claypot Rice is a pretty standard Malaysian dish which is basically rice and your choice of meat (usually chicken) marinated in soy and oyster sauce cooked in a claypot. It’s a simple concept that yields delicious fluffy flavoursome rice, with lots of surprises within. 

This was probably my favourite rice dish to make during my years in university and once even whipped this up at 2am in the morning after a heavy night out with some friends who were visiting. Not very clever playing with fire when inebriated but when the craving hits, it really hits!

For those who don’t own a claypot, fret not as this dish can be easily replicated in a rice cooker (which I did when living abroad) or even on a pan, although there is the likelihood that you won’t get the semi-burnt crispy bits of soy infused rice at the bottom of the pan. 


 Marinade seafood/chicken, partially cook rice, sauce, seafood
Much like any one-pot meal, this is simple, hearty and so very delicious. 

Since embarking on a pescatarian diet, I decided to adapt my original recipe to suit my needs, so instead of the chicken, I replaced the protein for a mix of seafood namely prawns and squid.  I served this for lunch one weekend when my aunt and cousins turned up unexpectedly and it went down a treat. 


Claypot Chicken/Seafood Rice

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 stock cube, either chicken, fish or vegetable
2 tsp oyster sauce
500g mixed seafood/chicken pieces
A handful of mushrooms, sliced
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
3cm ginger root, finely sliced
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cups rice
2 cups water

Sauce 
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cooking oil

Garnish
Spring onion, 1-2 stalks sliced
Fried onions, optional
Chillies, optional

Method
  1. Place chicken/seafood and mushrooms in a bowl. Add the crushed stock cube, oyster sauce, dark and light soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper and ginger and mix well. Leave to marinade for ½ - 1 hour.
  2. Wash and cook rice in a claypot, rice cooker or in a pan until half cooked.
  3. When rice is half cooked, add the marinated chicken/seafood on top of the rice, pouring the marinade all over the rice. Cover with lid and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes. Do not mix the protein into the rice!
  4. In the meantime, prepare the sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. At the end of the 10 minutes, remove lid, pour the sauce into the pot and cook until rice is done and meat/seafood is cooked through.
  5. Remove the pot from heat, leave the lid on and rest for 5 minutes.  Remove lid and mix the chicken/seafood and sauce into the rice.
  6. Top with spring onions, dried onions and sliced chillies.