Archive | August, 2012

Baking attempt fail

24 Aug

I know you generally expect recipe blogs to post only successful recipes because really, who would want to read about botched attempts and failures?

However this blog is meant to be a journey of my baking and cooking adventures in the kitchen and that would naturally include making mistakes and learning from them 😛

I was trying to recreate this recipe http://busy-mommy.com/2012/03/nutella-and-streusel-swirled-banana-bread.html on Monday but maybe I didn’t take the time to read it properly in advance or I didn’t have the correct baking tray dimensions, and it went bad. It didn’t look anything like it should in the photos provided and the bread consistency was way too floury. I think the main problem arose because I halved the ingredients and maybe somewhere in there, my measurements went awry, causing this to be a botched attempt at a nutella and streusel banana swirl bread.

The making of the streusel – it didn’t turn all crumbly like the recipe said it should.

The banana bread mixture; with way too much nutella it seems.

The banana bread mixture with the streusel mixed in before going into the oven

The final product

It actually does look pretty much like a brownie! Haha, oh well, I guess I learn never to fiddle with recipes and to always ensure I have the correct baking tray (this tray was too wide, causing my bread to be very low and flat) .

S was really sweet though; he still bravely ate a few slices and said that it didn’t matter if it wasn’t a success, it only mattered that I baked it, for him (:

French toast with caramel banana topping

21 Aug

I have a soft spot for french toast. I especially love it when it is served piping hot, with maple syrup, for breakfast. I have always known that it is easy to make but I never really tried it myself, until Monday morning. It is a public holiday (Selamat Hari Raya to all our Muslim readers!) so we decided to stay in (which means sleeping late the night before to watch a DVD and sleeping in the next morning). We chose to rewatch Serenity by Joss Whedon – it’s one of my all-time favourite shows and I still am sad that they never continued the Firefly series; I can only wonder just who Shepherd Book actually is!

Anyway, I chanced upon this recipe from http://tidymom.net/2012/caramel-banana-french-toast/ and it looked so delightfully delicious that I was practically drooling all over my computer! I knew there and then that I had to try it out!

This was also the perfect recipe for my Happycall pan – I didn’t have to painstakingly flip the bread one by one, but I could just close the pan and flip the entire thing 😀

The best part is that this recipe is really easy to make and it took me about 25 to 30 minutes to whip this up, and I was taking my time, I tell you! S loved it so much he asked for more and rated 80% for the french toast and 85% for the caramel banana topping. That man is hard to please! But I am glad because he finished it all!

Serves two

Equipment you need
Happycall / Heavy-bottomed frying pan
Mixing bowl
Chopping board
Knife

French toast

Ingredients you need
4 slices of bread (the thicker the better)
4 eggs
4 tbsp milk (i used leftover dairy whipping cream)
2 tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sugar
pinch of sea salt
2 tsp unsalted butter

Steps
1 In a large, shallow mixing bowl, mix the eggs, milk/cream, sugar, salt, orange juice and vanilla.
2 Add bread to the egg mixture and flip gently to coat evenly. Let it soak in the egg mixture for about one minute.
3 Heat up the frying pan / Happycall over medium-high heat. Add the butter to melt.
4 Remove the bread from the egg mixture and let it drip over the egg mixture before transferring it to the hot pan.
5 Cook until the bottom is golden brown then flip it over to cook the other side.

Caramel banana topping

Ingredients you need
2 ripe but firm bananas, sliced thickly
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp brown sugar, packed
sprinkle of cinnamon

Steps
1 Peel and slice the bananas thickly
2 Add butter and brown sugar to frying pan / Happycall on medium-high heat.
3 Use a wooden spoon to combine the butter and sugar together, then add the sliced bananas.
4 Allow the bananas to bubble a bit, then flip them over one at a time. I did not flip my Happycall pan over this time. Cook until bananas are light brown.
5 Serve piping hot with the french toast!

Lamb chop dinner

20 Aug

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of lamb. My mum absolutely cannot take the smell so I grew up without eating lamb much. However, I have to admit that if done well, it can be very delicious. It helps that S loves lamb and mutton so that encourages me to introduce it to my palette. It still isn’t a meat I will have often though; I very much prefer beef (:

The last post I talked about how I marinated the lamb on Thursday in preparation for Friday’s dinner. When I reached home after work on Friday, I took the lamb out of the fridge and started to bustle about in the kitchen while S sat down in anticipation of his lamb meal, haha!

For a more balanced diet, I whipped up a dish of asparagus with bacon, cheese and lots of black pepper. It was a satisfying crunchy complementary side dish to the juicy meat. I overcooked the lamb a little because it looked red still on the outside and S is a little paranoid about eating raw meat but don’t worry, I will take that in account in the recipe and give you a shorter time so your lamb won’t be overcooked! (: I personally prefer my meat a little rare too!

S was so happy as he tucked in and I was pleased when he gave me 80% for the entire dinner! (: it is, after all, my first attempt at lamb!

Serves two

Equipment you need
Heavy-bottomed frying pan / Happycall
Medium and large baking trays
Baking sheet

Lamb

Steps
1 Preheat the oven to 160 degree Celsius. Prepare the large baking tray and line it with a baking sheet.
2 In a heavy-bottomed frying pan (I used my Happycall which was a gift from my MIL), heat up two tbsps of olive oil over medium to high heat.
3 Once the oil starts to bubble, add the lamb chop pieces and brown it – frying it for about 3 minutes on each side. It was here when I really appreciate the Happycall pan because all I had to do was to close the lid, flip it on the other side and let it fry too instead of flipping piece by piece.
4 Transfer the lamb to the large baking tray and let it cook for 20 minutes. I did so for about 25 minutes, which is good for people like S who prefer their meat well done.
5 When it is done, take the meat from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
6 Serve with a sauce of your choice!

Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients you need
12 to 15 pieces of asparagus
2 tbsps olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Steps
1 Set oven to 190 degree Celsius.
2 Cut off the ends of the bottom of the asparagus and discard.
3 Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet.
4 Drizzle olive oil all over the asparagus.
5 Generously sprinkle sea salt, black pepper and the parmesan cheese over the asparagus as well.
6 Roast in oven for about 6 – 8 minutes, until the asparagus just beings to soften and the cheese has melted and started to turn golden brown.
7 Serve hot with lamb!

Lamb recipe adapted from http://www.jocooks.com/main-courses/rosemary-lamb-chops-with-garlic-mint-sauce/
Roasted asparagus recipe adapted from http://www.sprinkledwithflour.com/2012/03/roasted-parmesan-asparagus.html

Lamb chop marinate

17 Aug

I know I said that I will upload the recipe after trying the food to see if it was good and worth sharing but I guess I couldn’t wait! Also, I sort of have short-term memory so if I don’t write it out, I will forget what I threw into the marinate!

S and I went grocery shopping last night and we combed two supermarkets high and low but we couldn’t find any fresh rosemary – which would go so well with lamb. I found a substitute however: fresh thyme, and modified my recipe a little to accommodate the change.

We raced home to dump everything in the fridge and quickly left for a meeting in church so I could only work on the marinate after we returned from the meeting. S was dead tired by then but he accompanied me in the kitchen when I was doing this and even helped with thawing the lamb chops out a bit (:

It’s actually really very easy to put the things together – all you need is thyme, olive oil, garlic, lemon, black coarse pepper and salt! Then you mix it together and liberally apply it all over the lamb, and put it back in the refrigerator for well, some people say an hour will do. Others say 6 hours is ideal, and others say overnight. I chose the option that was most practical (overnight) because I’m working all day today and won’t have time tonight to leave the meat to absorb the marinate before cooking. S will probably be a red-eyed hungry monster if I did that, haha.

Equipment you need
A big bowl
Spoons
Sharp knife
Chopping board

Ingredients you need
3 tbsps olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
5 sprigs of thyme finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Black pepper and salt (to taste)

Steps
1 Remove thyme leaves from the stalk and chop the leaves. Put into bowl.
2 Chop the garlic and slice a lemon and squeeze the juice out. Put into bowl too.
3 Throw in the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix.
4 Liberally apply marinate all over the lamb chops and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.

Happy meat chef in the making!

16 Aug

I am so thrilled by the fact that I have over $100 of meat sitting happily in my freezer because of a fantastic giveaway! I just love freebies, don’t you? 😀

It all started with a subscription to Honeycombers’ mailing list (you should subscribe; it is really quite interesting sometimes) and I received an email from them Tuesday, with the subject header [$1000 The Butcher Giveaway]. I excitedly opened the email and was wondering at the back of my mind what I needed to do – if it involved writing, taking a photo, etc etc … but no! All I  had to do was to be one of the first five to drop by any of their outlets and mention “Honeycombers” and I will be the proud owner of a Family Meat Pack valued over $100!

I immediately poked S who was beside me at that time, and told him that we had to leave soon (we were at his parents’ place for dinner) and try our luck – and 20 minutes later we were in the car zooming down to the outlet nearer us, hoping and praying that we could make it. It was already three hours since the email was sent out  but something told me to give it a try.

We walked in The Butcher together and I went up to the man sitting by the computer and said, “Um … Is there any chance that we … ?” and before I could complete my sentence, he smiled and informed me that I made it and I was the third! I practically squealed in delight. The Butcher is a place I have wandered into occasionally because I am always so fascinated by the wide selection of gourmet meat they have got but I always walk away empty handed. So you can imagine the smiles on our faces when we walked out this time, with one great big bag with our favourite meats: beef, pork, chicken and lamb!

That’s him packing up our meats! And that’s just one corner of the entire meat selection available!

We went home and I threw everything in the freezer, showered and immediately switched on my iMac to browse recipes for lamb chops and whole roast chicken. I managed to find something do-able for a noob cook such that I am and promised S that he can start looking forward to an elegant lamb dinner Friday evening!

Am off now to buy groceries now for tomorrow’s yummy dinner! I will upload the recipe(s) I used if it turned out well (: stay tuned!

The Butcher 

44 Jalan Merah Saga #01-50 S278116
80 Marine Parade Road #B1-83B S449269
http://www.thebutcher.com.sg/

Honey cranberry cornflake cups

13 Aug

No recipe blog of mine will be complete without this comfort snack – the underrated but absolutely delicious honey cranberry cornflake cups!


photo taken from http://essentialparenting.sg/honey-cornflakes

It’s my go-to for something sweet, and is great when my mouth is “itchy” and needs to munch on something. It’s actually the very first thing I baked in my new kitchen and I love how easy, fuss-free and quick it is to do – about 20 to 30 minutes max!

Quantity
Makes about 20 cups

Equipment you need
A medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan
20 small paper cups
Baking tray

Ingredients you need
40g unsalted butter
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sugar (optional – I usually do without this and add one more tbsp of honey)
125g plain cornflakes (2 cups)
Dried cranberries (to taste)

Steps 
1 Preheat the oven to 180 degree celsius.
2 Put the butter, sugar and honey in the saucepan and melt over low heat until it is all mixed and sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat.
3 Add in corn flakes+ cranberries and mix well.
4 Use a spoon and scoop the mix into the small paper cups. Arrange them on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.

5 Leave to cool and set. Best served at room temperature.

I must have made this about five times since last Nov – yes I know, I am addicted! Have you tried this before?

Lemon curd chocolate tart

13 Aug

My cell member xinyi baked this awesome lemon chocolate tart for us a few months ago and I developed a craving for it one day so I decided to try my hand at it (:

Image

I especially like that the base turns out to be something like shortbread, and that it’s covered with a layer of yummy chocolate ganache with a surprise tangy flavour of lemon curd inside. It certainly makes a refreshing snack/dessert though S gave it only 60% “because I don’t like lemon”. Sigh, men. Haha.

I actually baked this a week earlier but I was either too excited, or careless because I didn’t label my bottles and I ended up using salt instead of sugar in my lemon curd, which obviously affected the entire thing. I’m glad I tried again because it turned out to be pretty yummy and satisfying.

Okay, enough yammer from me – here’s the to-die-for recipe!

Recipe quantity
Makes 10

Equipment you need
Muffin trays
Mixer
Kitchen weighing scale
Two small to medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepans

Tart base/crust

Ingredients you need:
200g unsalted butter
75g castor sugar
215g plain flour
40g cornflour

Steps:
1 Preheat the oven to 180 degree celsius.
2 Sieve the plain flour and cornflour into a big mixing bowl.
3 Add the butter and sugar.
4 With the mixer, mix until it is well combined.
5 Use a spoon to press the mixture into the muffin tray or little pastry moulds. Try to make the pastry bases as thin as possible as they tend to rise a fair bit in the oven.
6 Use a fork to create little holes in the pastry bases.
7 Put the trays in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Chocolate ganache

Ingredients you need:
100g bittersweet/dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used dairy whipping cream and it turned out fine too)
30g unsalted butter

Steps:
1 Bring the cream to a full boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
2 When the cream is coming to a boil, work the butter with a rubber spatula until it becomes soft and creamy. Set aside.
3 Once the cream is at a boil, remove from heat and gently stir the cream into the chocolate with a whisk. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth.
4 Leave the bowl on the counter for a minute before adding the butter bit by bit. Stir gently and bring the mixture to a smooth blend.
5 When the butter is fully incorporated, the ganache should be smooth and glossy.
6 Refrigerate ganache until chilled.
7 Remove chilled ganache from the refrigerator and whip with the mixer until light and fluffy.

Image

Lemon curd (makes 2/3 cup)

Ingredients you need:
1/3 cup lemon juice (you will need about two to three lemons)
5 tbsp coarse sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
(optional: for extra tanginess, add one to two tsp lemon zest)

Image

Steps:
1 In a small saucepan, dissolve sugar into lemon juice over medium heat. Add zest here if you want to.
2 Lightly beat the egg in a small/medium bowl.
3 Slowly pour the lemon/sugar syrup into the egg, and whisk constantly.
4 Beat for two minutes (only 1 if you are using a mixer here) then transfer the mixture back into the saucepan.
5 Use low heat and stir constantly until the mixture starts to bubble at the edges.
6 Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
7 Transfer the lemon curd into a small container and store in the fridge.

Assembling 

1 Use a spoon to place a small dollop of lemon curd on the pastry tart base. This is where the holes created with the fork comes in – for the curd to set inside and within the pastry.
2 Cover with a nice thick layer of the chocolate ganache. Use a spatula to create a smooth layer on top.
3 Put the end result in the refrigerator for 30 minutes for it to set.
4 Best served chilled.

recipe adapted from cookingupadream

p/s: photographs are taken with instagram; yes you can follow me there too @floralfoodie

Jessica Sinclair

My Journey To A Better Back

Thegohs Parenting Journey

... every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17)

calivintage

california vintage life + style blog