Friday, March 26, 2010

Coconut and Mango Ice Cream

Success! Sweet, Sweet Success!

A few days ago, I dared myself to try another coconut ice cream recipe. I told myself it'll probably turn out like the last one, and why waste another can of coconut milk? I eventually won myself over by finding a suitable recipe.

It's surprising how there is no (well at least I haven't found any) recipes which require just simple ingredients, like milk, cream, sugar and coconut milk. Maybe it's something to do with the coconut taste is too mellow, or the taste too strong. I don't know, and I won't be experimenting.

I changed the method of the original recipe a little bit, to suit me and what I found easiest. The recipe is for coconut and mango ice cream, custard style. Custard style is where you beat egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale, and then add a hot milk or cream mixture into it, making sure to whisk vigorously, lest it becomes scrambled eggs. Then you pour that mixture back into the pan which you heated the milk in and heat that again. In previous attempts I have always ended up with more than enough cooked egg bits in this step. But this time, it was different. I read somewhere that the temperature has to reach 70-75°C (160-170°F) and then it's ready. The custard turned out perfect, and no stray cooked egg bits to be found.

I refridgerated the mixture for a few hours, but when I took it about, a semi-solid layer had formed on top.  I didn't know what it was, so I strained it out. Stupidly I chucked the residue out. Later on, I found that it was cream (or otherwise known as fat), and the ice cream would be a lot more creamy if I had strained that into the mixture. Oh well.

Five minutes before it was finished, I added some squished up mango. I like having bits of mango here and there, so I didn't process it into a puree. I was expecting distinctive swirls of mango-orange, but it just blended into the pure whiteness of the coconut. I guess you can't expect home-made ice cream to be the same as retail ice cream.

After freezing in my ice cream machine, I opted to just keep it in the freezer bowl an didn't transfer it into a plastic container. I'm not sure, but I've go a feeling that it's a bit harder than normal ice cream because of that. Or, it may have been the fact that, technically, it's low fat (ha!). The result was so delicious! The coconut was very subtle, but the nuttiness, almost almond taste, lingers behind on your palate. Then you get little nuggets of frozen mango. Mmmmm! This is one of the best ice cream I have made - along with Cookies n Cream, Green Tea and Red Bean.


Obtained from here.

Makes 1.5 litres.

300 mL cream
300 mL milk
400 mL coconut cream or milk
4 egg yolks
1 cup white sugar
1 cup mango pieces/puree

1. Gently heat the cream, milk and coconut milk/cream in a heavy pan.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks and the sugar in a bowl, until thick and pale.

3. When the milk mixture just boils, take off the heat.

4. While whisking constantly, pour the hot milk mixture about a tablespoon at a time into the egg yolks. Continue whisking until all the milk has been poured in.

5. Pour the egg mixture back into the heavy pan and heat on medium until the mixture reaches ~70°C. To test readiness without a thermometer: Coat the back of a spoon with the custard. Run your finger along the length of the spoon, and if the trail remains on the spoon, it is ready.

6. Refridgerate the mixture until completely cold.

7. Freeze per your ice cream machine's instructions. Five minutes before ready, tip in the mango pieces.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Carrot Cake

In my efforts to explore and taste all the different types of food in the world, I made a vow to myself that I will try at least one new recipe each week. Sometimes, there are exceptions when I just don't have the time, or don't have the ingredients. Sometimes, the results are absolutely delicious, and I put that recipe into a special file labelled 'Good'. Other times they are quite disappointing. Then there's recipes which I couldn't give a damn about. It may not be a bad recipe, just one that doesn't appeal to me, for some reason or another.

Such recipes include yesterday's carrot cake. I was browsing recipes for bundt cakes to bake in my fluted tube pan (yes, I'm still psyched). I made a list of cakes that I want to bake, and I was planning on having some sort of Bundt Cake Marathon. First up was a carrot and walnut bundt cake, with cream cheese frosting, from Epicurious. I had no idea what carrot cake tasted like, and after extensive research, I gathered it did not taste anything like carrots. I then bought a carrot slice from the school's canteen, but that tasted random. I reckoned it tasted bad because it was filled with artificial crap.

I'm still learning the ins and outs of my fluted tube pan, and still haven't managed to find a reliable technique to stop things sticking. Before, I've buttered it and floured it, but that didn't work. This time, I sprayed it with cooking spray, but a piece of cake still stuck to the pan. I've got a feeling that this contributed to my neutrality to this cake. I was glad the glaze/frosting covered up the cracks, but it was tooth-achingly sweet. When I was pouring the 3/4 powdered sugar over the measly-looking pieces of cream cheese, I said to myself, 'This is gonna be sweet!' Guess what? I was right. The lemon juice and zest cut off a bit of the sweetness but ow it was sweet. I hope the rest of my cakes turn out better.


Obtained from here.

Makes 8 servings.

Carrot Cake

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 large)
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Cream Cheese Icing
3/4 cup powdered sugar (I'd put less)
3 ounces (85 grams) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (or more) whipping cream.

1. Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.
2. Grease 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan.
3. Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in medium bowl until well blended.
4. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, oil and eggs in large bowl on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add flour mixture, beating just until blended.
5. Fold in carrots and walnuts.

6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

7. Cool cake in pan on rack 1 hour.

8. Meanwhile, blend softened cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla until combined. Add enough cream to form a thick but pourable icing.

9. Invert cake onto plate. Cool completely. Drizzle icing over top of cake, allowing icing to flow down sides.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Apple Turnovers

Ugh! Global Warming... Hate it, hate it, hate it! I hate the fact that we are getting 30 degree days in Autumn, when there should be wind and cool weather. I also hate the fact that our school uniform is made of crappy material that air doesn't travel through, making me, and a whole lot of others, sweat all through the day. I definitely prefer cool windy days that go to as low as 15 degrees. This heat makes me grumpy. Absolutely grumpy.

Talking about Autumn, apples are officially in season. I prefer crisp, juicy apples, as opposed to those soft apples that make you wonder whether they're actually fresh or not. But when it comes to baking, I alsways use Granny Smith. They are so easily distinguished with the fully-green skin. I made a beeline for the apple section the other day and bought a few to make apple turnovers with.

There are many different types of turnover recipes out there. Ones that have sultanas and nuts, others with only apple. Some say to cook the apples first, but the recipe I always use does not. I was searching for an easy apple turnover recipe when I had leftover apples, some time ago, when I came across a recipe on Youtube. I realised that it was the most easiest recipe I had found, so I tried it out. Though I've never actually tried other turnovers, I stuck with this one. It hasn't failed me yet.

Because the recipe says to add 3 tablespoons of orange juice, I had a bit of cinnamony orangey syrup let at the bottom. When I first made it, I did not know any better, so I drizzled that over the filling before rolling it up. During baking, it managed to seep out and turn itself into a burnt caramelly mess that adhered itself to the turnovers. It wasn't only unsightly, it tasted gross. So after that, I always refrain the collective juices at the bottom.

I sprinkled white sugar on top of the egg wash and it contributed wonderfully. Some granules did not melt but that did not matter. It was great paired with the tartness of the apples. I could not get a good photo of a whole turnover because all the photos were blurry due to the crappy lighting.


Obtained here.
Makes 8 turnovers

3 cooking apples (I used Granny Smith)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed at room temperature
1 egg
1 water or milk
Extra sugar, to sprinkle

1. Preheat oven to 200°C

2. Cut the puff pastry into 8 equal squares by making a cross in each sheet

3. Peel, core and chop the apples roughly into 1 centimetre cubes

4. Add orange juice and orange zest and stir to combine

5. Add the flour, sugar and cinnamon and mix thoroughly

6. Divide the mixture evenly among the puff pastry squares, making sure not to get much of the collective juices onto the squares

7. Fold each square over the filling, making a triangle. It may be necessary to remove a few pieces of apple.

8. Using a fork, crimp the two short edges of the triangle by pressing the twines onto them. Poke one set of holes on top the triangles to allow steam to escape

9. Whisk the egg and milk or water thoroughly, and brush liberally onto the turnovers.

10. Sprinkle liberally with sugar and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top

11. Take out of oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then serve.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lebanese Bread Pizza

Alas, a savoury recipe!

I was at school last last friday and they were selling pizza for 2 dollars a slice. But they weren't ordinary pizzas with a thick, tough doughy base. No, they had a crispy thin base that broke off like Doritos. On top was some tomato pase, chicken pieces, onions, cheese and I think dried oregano. I drizzled mine with sweet chilli sauce, but I think I had forgotten how sweet sweet chilli sauce was. I could not taste anything but the sticky sweetness of the sauce, except for the occasional chicken piece. But the thin crispy base was enough to get me excited about making this pizza.

The problem with pizza recipes are that they tell you how to make your own pizza dough, and exactly what toppings to put on your base. I think the art of pizza is the fact that you can put almost anything on your pizza. So I have long given up searching for pizza recipes. I have one staple pizza dough recipe which came with my bread machine, and basically just top up with whatever we've got in the fridge. But since the base is premade (Lebanese bread), all  had to do was to get my mum to drive to the local store and buy some chicken and cheese.

I had read somewhere that you had to crisp the bread up first, then top, then bake. It said to grill on high for three minutes. Of all the five settings on my oven, I've only ever used one, conventional, so I was hesitant to try the grill setting. But I did, and I set it to the highest temperature and put 2 halves of bread on a foil-lined baking tray and put it in the oven. I then went to check the marinating chicken while my grandma sliced some onions. I can't cut onions because they make me cry alot. When the timer went off, it smelt like something had burnt, but I couldn't see because the light inside the oven went off. When I opened the door, I saw the bread was completely black and was on fire. As the smoke alarm went off, the tray was quickly rushed outside. We turned the fan on to let all the smoke come out.
All bakers have to have what they are baking catch on fire at least once. I'm glad I've had mine now, so it won't happen when I'm serving highly-anticipated guests at my restaurant in Paris. Hey, I've got dreams too!

Anyways, I ended up crisping the bread up in my sandwich press instead. I think it works better than the oven because it heats both sides of the bread evenly. I topped off each halve of bread with mushrooms, chicken marinated in BBQ sauce, onions, corn, Mozzarella and Tasty cheese, and dried oregano. Then I baked it in the oven once the smoke had gone. It was really good, but I wouldn't serve this to hungry workers, though. Now I know why you need such thick bases on pizzas - to be filling. There's just nothing there to eat, so I would only make it again for lunch or a snack.


Note: This is only what I did. You can put whatever toppings you like.

Makes 4 slices of pizza

2 slices Lebanese bread, cut in half
150 grams dice chicken thighs
1/2 cup BBQ sauce or marinade
1/2 onion, sliced into rings
3/4 cup tomato paste or pasta sauce
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup Tasty (cheddar) cheese, grated
Dried oregano

1. Place chicken pieces in a bowl and pour BBQ marinade on top. Stir to coat, and cover with cling wrap    and place in fridge. Marinade for 20 or more minutes.

2. Crisp up bread halves in sandwich maker or in a skillet, until hard.

3. Preheat oven to 200°C.

4. Briefly heat the chicken pieces in a pan until just cooked.

5. Divide tomato paste equally onto the bread. Divide onion, corn and chicken between the bread.

6. Top with cheese and oregano. Bake for 10-15 until cheese melts.

7. Eat immediately.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

So it's officially Autumn now, here in Australia. We were introduced to this new season with three days of heavy rain and a huge flood up in Queensland. But to me, that is good news. I'd prefer a rainy overcast day over a bright sunny day, any... day. Autumn is the season of browning leaves and cool weather, and is the season of apples! I look forward to apple turnovers, apple crumbles and apple bundt cakes.

Anyways, enough about autumn. I finally used my fluted tube pan to make something! I didn't make monkey bread but I did make Sour Cream Coffee Cake. I was tossing over two recipes - one with (wal)nuts and without. My family likes things with nuts in them, so I thought it would be better for everybody if I went with the one with walnuts. I obtained the recipe from 'The Modern Baker' by Nick Malgieri. I keep hearing that cakes with sour cream have wonderful texture and are really soft, so I thought why not?

A vein of cinnamon and walnuts streusel runs through the cake, but apparently my folks haven't tasted cinnamon before. They thought I had put too much baking powder or baking soda. Oh, speaking of putting too much, I greased the pan with too much butter. Before I attempted baking with my fluted tube pan, I had done a lot of research and found that people like to butter they pans first and sprinkle with some flour, even if it is non-stick. So that's what I did, except I put too much butter and just dumped flour into the pan and shook out the excess. That's why my cake unmoulded perfectly, but it had yellow patches on top. I was scared to tell them that it was just butter and flour, or they'd get a heart attack just by knowing. I dusted some sugar on top and that hid the butter just fine.

I couldn't get a shot of the full cake because it was getting late and my sister just wanted cake. Oh well, it tasted great anyways.


Makes one 10-inch (25-cm) tube cake, about 24 slices

Cinnamon Sugar Nut Filling

1/3 cup granulated or light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup (about 4 ounces/100 grams) pecan or walnut pieces,
coarsely chopped

Sour Cream Cake Batter

2 cups all-purpose flour
(spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons (1. sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1 (8-ounce/225-gram) container sour cream

1. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and
preheat to 325°F (160°C).

2. For the filling, mix the sugar, cinnamon, and nuts in a small bowl and set aside.

3. For the batter, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir well by hand to mix. Add the butter. Beat the mixture on low speed with the paddle until the mixture is a
smooth, heavy paste, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sour cream together. On medium speed, beat 1⁄3 of the egg mixture into the flour and butter mixture. Beat for 1 minute.

5. Stop and scrape the bowl and beater, beat in another half of the remaining egg mixture and beat for 2 minutes. Repeat with the last of the egg mixture.

6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a rubber spatula give the batter a final mixing.

7. Scrape half the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Scatter half the sugar and nut filling on the batter.

8. Scrape the remaining batter over the sugar and nut mixture and smooth the top. Scatter on the remaining sugar and nut mixture.

9. Bake the cake until it is well risen and firm, and a toothpick or a small thin knife inserted midway between the side of the pan and the central tube emerges dry, about 1 hour.

10. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, the invert a rack over it. Invert and lift off the pan, then cover the cake with another rack or a cake cardboard and turn it right side up again. Cool the cake completely.