29 July 2007

Retro High Tea

This was really an "outdated" post; as in it remained in draft state for quite sometime before I finally managed to edit the photos and published it. Yep, the usual 'preoccupied with work' excuse :p I digress.

After Chiffon Cake 101, this was another demo class by Chef Christopher Tan at Shermay's Cooking School. Retro High Tea as the name suggested, brought us back to reminisce the nostalgia times of homemade traditional chicken pie, baked curry puff and cream puff filled with thick vanilla custard. Not that I'm that old! Well, you get the idea.

Chef Tan showed us how to make rough puff pastry which is basically layers of dough with butter (butter is used as it contains lesser level of trans fat as compared to margarine). Simple ingredients but not easy to handle as butter tends to melt easily. The rough puff pastry can be used for both curry puff and chicken pie. So it would be really useful IF I can master it. Ok, one of these days.

The beef and potato curry filling though looked humble actually took quite a lot of effort to prepare and cook. But well worth every ingredient. Baking the curry puff yielded better result than deep frying - healthier choice as well!

Just looking and smelling the chicken pie filling made me drool all the way and couldn't wait to taste the chicken pie. Not as glam as Don's Chicken Pie but sure tasted better (in my opinion). Nothing fancy, just simple humble chicken pie with wholesome goodness chicken filling.

And oh the cream puff with custard filling. Light-as-a-cloud choux pastry, as described by Chef Tan. It may not look as pretty as Beard Papa's Cream Puff, a little old fashion maybe. It is still good old cream puff.

We got to taste the cream puffs on the spot since they are best eaten fresh. Everyone took home a chicken pie and curry puff, complete with Chef Tan's specially designed retro-looking takeaway box. The rough puff pastry turned out light and fluffy and served the purpose of complementing the fillings and not over-power.

Haven't had the time nor courage to attempt the recipes yet as they are relatively time consuming. Ok, one of these days. Serious.

24 July 2007

Macarons from Bossacafez

I'm quite into macaron of late. Although they have been around for a while, I only discovered these delicate little gems when I was in Tokyo last year; was fortunate to get some from the Dalloyau branch in Jiyugaoka. And earlier this year, from the Lenotre branch in Emporium, Bangkok.
They were crunchy on the outside while moist and chewy on the inside; and what makes this authentic French pastry attractive and irresistible (at least to me) is the varied flavours and colours.
In Singapore, so far I have only tried the ones from Canelé Pâtisserie Chocolaterie. And most recently, ordered a box from Evan through her blog, Bossacafez. Have been an avid fan of Evan's blog since last year and really inspired by her passion for baking, cooking and photography.
Her macarons look so divine that I just had to try! So I emailed her and placed my orders for Framboise, Lavende and Macha flavours. My orders came in a lovely packaging (my favourite tiffany blue!) - the details and effort put in was amazing.

I love all 3 flavours; the shells and buttercream flavours matched each other quite well, not to mention the lovely colours. Since they are best eaten fresh hence so precious, I relish each and every bite. Yummy!

Much as I wish I can make them, I heard they are really difficult to master and I'm totally clueless (and lazy). Will wait till Joycelyn holds another Macaron Class at Shermay's Cooking School. Meanwhile, if I have macaron cravings, I know where to look.

19 July 2007

My First Orange Chiffon Cake

Make that 2.
Ever since attending the Chiffon Cake 101 class by chef Christopher Tan, I've been itching to attempt the recipe.

A bit unsure though because my trusty oven is just 18L and definitely not able to hold the 25cm chiffon cake pan based on the recipe. With advice from Christopher, I halved the quantity of ingredients and used a 17cm pan.
The recipe is really quite easy to follow, only toughest part has got to be whipping the egg whites and cream of tartar to form 'soft peaks' else risk the point of no return from over beating. Since this is my first attempt, not sure when to stop; just go by gut feel I guessed.
Everything turned out well and 55 minutes later, VIOLA!

Looked pretty decent huh? The taste, that's the crucial part! But the thing about chiffon cake is also patience. Got to turn over the cake, stand over the pan's central column and let it cool completely. I couldn't wait to taste it!
Finally ran out of patience and with the cake still a little warm, I removed the cake from the pan very carefully. I wonder why the sides didn't brown?
The cake had a very nice zingy orange aroma with tinge of orange flavour. Texture is springy and fluffy. I think almost like what Christopher made. Or maybe just a tad too springy? And it's all natural goodness, absolutely no artificial flavouring.

Since I'm already at it and have all the ingredients, might as well attempt a 2nd time. This time round making sure that the egg whites are beaten even more carefully and following the recipe to a T. The 2nd attempt turned out even better than the 1st i.e. looked neater and texture lighter. Yay!
Next up, I must attempt the Pandan Chiffon Cake! And the Chocolate Rum Chiffon and the Japanese-style Cheese Chiffon...

16 July 2007

Quick & Easy Meal IV - Braised Chicken

Been busy recently, didn't have time to cook as frequently as I hoped. Missed homecook food very much, that's where quick & easy meals come in.

One of my favourite - braised chicken. It is really quite easy.

  • Chicken thigh or leg or drumstick
  • Dried or fresh mushroom
  • Ginger (sliced)
  • Garlic
  • Light and dark soy sauce
  • Pepper
  • Oyster sauce
  • Sugar (or rock sugar)
  • Hua Tiao Chiew (Chinese cooking wine)
  • Sesame oil
  • Marinate the chicken meat with ginger slice, garlic, light soy sauce, pepper, Hua Tiao Chiew and sesame oil for at least 1/2 hour.
  • Soak dried mushroom in water (skip this step if using fresh mushroom).
  • Place marinated chicken (together with the ginger and garlic) and mushroom into sauce pan, add water until water covers the chicken. If using dried mushroom, sieve some of the mushroom water and add in.
  • Add dark soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar.
  • Bring to boil for 20 mins. Bring to simmer for another 15 - 20mins.
  • Add some corn starch with water to thicken the sauce and ready to serve.

14 July 2007

Chiffon Cake 101

Attended yet another class at Shermay's Cooking School. Since the previous Cupcake Workshops I & II, I have been frequenting Shermay's website to look out for new classes and making bookings well in advance as classes are tremendously popular. Still eagerly anticipating Joycelyn's next Macaron Workshop!

Despite the relatively higher pricing, foodies and cooking enthusiasts are flocking to attend the cookery/baking classes at Shermay's. Attend the class once and you'll see why. The chef instructors are well-accomplished and approachable; recipes comprehensive; tips practical; environment comfortable; and there is always a free flow of Illy coffee & iced Gryphon artisan tea!
Chiffon Cake 101 by Guest Chef Christopher Tan is a demo and food tasting class. Basically attendees were given recipes while Christopher demonstrated the baking step-by-step and answered question as and when there was any. After the demonstration, we could taste the freshly baked cakes or pack them home.

3 master recipes were introduced - Zingy Orange Chiffon Cake, Chocolate Rum Chiffon Cake and Japanese-style Chiffon Cheesecake. A pity I missed the Pandan Chiffon Cake demo class conducted previously!

Christopher is a writer, editor, food consultant, food stylist and photographer and has published quite a number of cookbooks. He gave really practical and good tips about baking and made baking chiffon cake look so easy.

Zingy Orange Chiffon Cake
I have never tasted so good a chiffon cake! Light and fluffy, delicately flavoured with fresh orange juice and orange zest. There is absolutely no artificial flavouring used. No wonder those commercial ones taste synthetic.

Japanese-style Chiffon Cheesecake
Absolutely love this! It's light, spongy with an almost melt-in-your-mouth texture. The blend of cheese, vanilla extract and fresh lemon is delectable without overpowering the taste bud. Hmmm....

Chocolate Rum Chiffon Cake
Made with Valrhona cocoa power with a hint of dark rum. Once again, fluffy, tender and smells ever so sexy and seductive. Ahhh... *alas, forgot to take photo for this!

I'm already looking forward to attempt my first chiffon cake at home. Just that my oven is kind of small and hence have to make adjustments to the recipe. Hopefully, it'll turn out edible.

Anyway, Christopher will be conducting another demo cum food tasting class, Retro High Tea in 2 week's time. All set for the class and looking forward to it!


08 July 2007

Handmade cards I

When it comes to giving cards, whether for birthday wishes or expressing congratulations, I always prefer hand-making the cards if time permits.

With the popularity of ecards that are so convenient and easy, handmade cards are all the more precious. It may not be a perfect and well-made card, but lots of care and thought is put in - from selection of materials, colours, design, format, finishing...
Although there are all sorts of designs available for sale in the market, I feel that nothing beats the personal touch that is being put into making the card and thereby conveying my deepest well wishes for the receiver.
My recent design - birthday card with cardholder that comes in a sweet ribbon handle. The cardholder can be used to hold the card and money or vouchers :)

I usually get my materials from Made With Love, which is a scrapbooking store that offers a huge selection of cardstock and embellishments imported from the US. I'm not really into scrapbooking, but simply couldn't resist the temptations of getting the supplies. Card making would be a good excuse.
Each time I step into this store located at Plaza Singapura, I had to spend at least an hour marvelling the collection and deciding what materials to buy. It is a haven for scrapbook lovers (they call them Scrapaholics) and card or craft makers alike. I confess that the materials I have at home can make more cards than I can give, but well...
Anyway, will showcase some of the designs when I have time. My dear friend PY suggests that I should sell them. But, I wonder who would really buy them?
Made With Love
Plaza Singapura #03-21
Tel: 68373464
Website: http://www.madewithlove.com.sg/