Saturday, July 31, 2010

Amaretti Biscuits

I got this recipe from my new cookbook The Big Book of Baking. The recipe was called 'Almond Macaroons', though I prefer the Italian name Amaretti biscuits. Macaroons are made with egg whites and coconut. Macarons are a complicated French biscuit made with almond meal and egg whites, with some sort of cream sandwiched between. People on TV (*cough* MasterChef), pronounce Macarons 'Macarooooons'. They're wrong.

Anyways, Ameretti are an Italian cookie made with almond meal, sugar and egg whites. That's all. The recipe called for halved blanched almonds to be placed on top, but I prefer the colour and ease of a whole almond. This recipe also added a drop of almond essence, though I don't think it's at all necessary. They were delicious morsels eaten with tea.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Crepes Suzette

Adam won. Yay!

[Rant] While on the note of MasterChef, I will not willingly watch a single episode of Junior MasterChef. It's not because I'm jealous that I'm a year older than the maximum age, it's because it is so racist. In the ad, I could not see any Asian dishes. Where are the plates of stirfries? The big bowls of wontons? And seeing these kids serve up so much pretentious, western food makes me feel angry and sad. It goes to show how much their parents impact them. Where are the kids whose families don't eat roasts every week, or can't digest the fact that other people don't use woks. Heck, where are the children who don't speak English? The kids who only know Asian dishes and who don't have a chance, because the judges are all western people with western palates.
The judges are wowed and impressed by a three tiered cream cake with strawberry buttercream and candied raspberries, but when someone turns up with a plate of sticky rice pudding (a delicious Asian dessert), they say 'It's a bit plain'. What does that say about the judges? They see pretentious western food as glorious, yet Asian food plain. Well I'm sorry if Asian dishes don't have ass-loads of butter and bucketfuls of sugar. And yet that's what the judges expect from contestant. I don't mind it when it's adults competing, hopefully they can take it. But I just feel sad for the children. Having to learn western food and impress the judges with what the judges like, not what their families eat everyday. I can imagine a little 9-year old Chinese kid looking at a recipe and thinking, 'WTF!!! 500 grams of butter? That's going to clog veins and everything! Oh well, at least the judges will like it and give me the advantage for the rest of the week!'
The judges can't seem to be able to understand children are being westernised and are disowning their own cultures. They teach children how to make French-style this, Asian-style that. It's not Asian! It's a western cut of meat marinated in soy sauce! That makes it Asian!? God. I love MasterChef, and enjoy watching the normal one, but not this Junior crap. [Rant finished]

In my last post I promised sugar, alcohol and fire. I was referring to Crepes Suzette, a dish of pancakes soaked in orange syrup and alcohol, flambĂ©ed (set on fire).  I was so excited - I made my own crepes and everything. Sadly, to put it bluntly, it was disgusting. It was horrible, and it tasted like bitter alcohol. Bitter from the orange zest and alcohol from the Cognac. I used Cognac, a type of brandy, instead of Grand Marnier (an orange liqueur) because I did not have it. Not sure if it was because of that, but there was a bad alcohol taste.

The crepes themselves were nice, but I know I need a lot of practice to get them right. I was hoping for a big flare when I lit the alcohol. That didn't happen. I tried again. Only small blue wisps of fire appeared. It wasn't very exciting, and I could not get a very good shot.

Aw... look at that insignificant glow...

Nobody in my family like them, and I honestly don't know why you would want to make this. I know many people like this dish, but I think my family's just not into alcoholic desserts. Because I am in a pissy mood, and I'm tired, I won't be posting a recipe. But I shall return with something (hopefully) spectacular and delicious. Though I wouldn't advise holding your breath.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

This is a recipe that I have made a while ago. I didn't feel like posting it because it wasn't very successful. The mashed potato was too salty, and the filling was a bit greasy. I'm posting it now because I have run out of things to post.

The reason this was so unsuccessful is partly because it lacked taste. While I added a ton of salt in the potatoes (causing it to become too salty), I omitted the Worcestershire sauce as well as the bay leaf. I baked it in individual ramekins, instead of a large bowl. The original recipe is probably delicious, and it was my fault this turned out so bad.

The good news is I am going to make something very exciting tomorrow. I'm not saying what it is, though it does involve sugar, alcohol and fire! See you guys soon.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Trifle

Oh no, it's the end of the holidays and the beginning of another gruelling school term. Yeah, it's okay though, they can't hurt us - it's against the law.

On Saturday, a few family friends came over and I was in charge of snacks and desserts to have with tea. Black forest was on my mind, and it was between this trifle and a cake. Trifles always win.

 There are so many things I want to say about this trifle, but I'm just going to sum it up in a few points:
1. This makes a ton, like 1000kg. Well not literally, but enough to serve an army.
2. It is very fattening, so be aware!
3. It is so simple, yet so complicated with the heating and warming and reheating.
4. I made my own chocolate cake, instead of buying 2 pound cakes - they were alright.
5. Use much less cream than called for, it's just too rich.
6. It also uses 8 egg yolks, so yeah.

Yeah, that basically sums up this delicious but calorific trifle. Hope you guys had a great holiday and all the best for this upcoming term.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Garlic Crisps

I originally wanted to make garlic bread, but I did not have a baguette (or French loaf), so I had to make do with normal sliced white bread. because white bread is so much thinner than what garlic bread is normally, I am calling this 'Garlic Crisps'. I simply made a batch of garlic butter, and then spread it onto some sliced white bread, cut into triangles. I topped it with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and toasted it in my sandwich press.

If you don't mind butter (ie. fat), this is delicious. If you love garlic bread, but hate that the flavour doesn't penetrate deep enough, try this. It's buttery garlicky goodness all the way through.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cream Cheese Brownies

It's not often that I make something I have before. If I did, it was probably because it was so immensely delicious. This time, I revisited the marbled brownie because I accidentally bought a block of cream cheese. I wasn't exactly happy with my previous low-fat one, so I decided to look for the real deal.

This version tastes so much better than the other one. I don't have a brownie preference, fudgey or cakey all works for me. The middle of these brownies are chewey and the top layer of cream cheese contrasts the dark chocolateness.

Both times I've had trouble swirling the mixture, resulting in an ugly pattern. I blame a really thick brownie batter, though I don't understand why. I suggest dropping spoonfuls of the brownie and cream cheese batter separately, to produce a more defined pattern.

If I ever make brownies, I will head immediately to this recipe. I also bought a new cookbook yesterday, so I want to make something out of that.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

I've had carbonara sauce when I was smaller from the glass jars they sell at the supermarket. I remembered a delicious creamy white sauce with bits of bacon and mushroom in it. I realised I had the ingredients to make an authentic version yesterday, so I went ahead and made it. Authentic Italian carbonara contains no cream, although the recipe I used wasn't completely authentic because I did not use an expensive bacon (such as pancetta or guanciale), and I added garlic.

The creamy texture is achieved my beating eggs and pouring it into the cooked spaghetti while it is still hot, to cook the egg and turn it creamy. One hazard is that the pan or spaghetti is too hot and the egg immediately scrambles, ie. cooks too much and solidifies. That surprisingly didn't happen to me, seeing as it's my first time making it.

The spaghetti carbonara was delicious. It was rich and creamy, and studded with bits of crispy bacon. Top with black pepper (you must - it's the rules) and parmesan, and you've got yourself one of the best pasta dishes ever.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


A few days ago, I made my own cheese again. This time I made mascarpone - a soft Italian cheese made with cream. I had a few problems with it, either it not curdling enough or not making firming up. In the end I made a considerable batch, but it was still no enough. I used spreadable light cream cheese to make up for the rest. I used the cheese to make Mangomisu. People may know what Tiramisu is - an Italian coffee-flavoured dessert, but this is mango-flavoured instead.

The recipe says to put a layer of sliced mangoes on top, as decoration, but I ran out, so I left it out. It looks really good even without it. It tasted deliciously creamy and the savoiardi biscuits turn into what tastes like a sponge cake.

The structure of the cake wasn't very stable though. It nearly separated into two when I was takeing it out of the pan. I also could not slice it properly. But this no longer matters once you take a bite of this Mangomisu. The recipe also gives a raspberry sauce which I did not make.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Peach and Cream Cheese Mille Feuille

 I have been eye-balling this recipe since I received my copy of Simply Heaven. When I bought the packet of filo pastry, I wanted to make this but I didn't have time. Yesterday marked the start of the school holidays, so why not make it?

Mille Feuille means thousand leaves in French and is originally 3 layers of puff pastry filled with a cream of some sort. This is a more contemporary version, with cream cheese and canned peaches. For some reason my cooking spray wasn't working properly, so the layers of filo did not stick together. I used the single sheets to make round 3-layered mille feuilles, and the sheets which stuck together for 2-layered rectangular ones.

The canned peaches are coated in a syrup made with vanilla essence and brown sugar. I used my very own vanilla essence which I made a few months ago. It smells fantastic. Spreadable cream cheese is then combined with caster sugar to create the 'cream'.

The result was absolutely delicious. It was fruity and creamy. The crunch of the pastry also adds great texture.