The Pass. The Judgement day of plates.

The Pass. The Judgement day of plates.
Bring the finished plates up to the pass for inspection.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Whole Wheat Tarts vs Plain Flour Tarts

Lately, I've been playing around with tarts made out of whole wheat flour instead of regular pastry flour or plain flour for the reasons that it will be healthier choice. As you may or may not know, whole wheat products will provide you with a source of proteins, fibers, vitamins and minerals which are always good for your body. My mom cannot consume too much white flour, so in house, we have mainly whole wheat products when it comes to baked goods such as whole wheat buns and breads. My parents are quite conscious when it comes to eating healthy, and I don't even want to get into the kind of drinks that they blend up every morning for my sister and I to drink. But that aside and back to the point, whole wheat tarts.

There are many doughs out there for tarts and pies and endless recipes to match with it. But as I have learned, the key to a strong tart/pie dough is allow to time for maturity of the dough. This means you must let your dough rest, best overnight, thus giving time for the flour in the dough to absorb any fat or moisture in the recipe. When flour is mixed in liquid, gluten is naturally developed and it helps strength the dough's ability to stretch when rolled. Same goes for tart doughs made with whole wheat flour, and it may take longer periods of resting time compared to pastry flour. This is due to the slower absorption of moisture from the whole wheat flour.
Then through a few trials, I found that whole wheat tarts tend to take a longer time to bake, and you couldn't use the same temperature used for regular tarts. The color of the tarts became too dark before it was fully baked. The whole wheat dough itself is much more dense compared to the regular flour tarts, and therefore, the release of moisture through baking took longer, and this cause the oven to steam up, and instead of baking you are now, steaming. So I had to open the oven doors to let out the steam and continue baking. Normally, the best oven for baking tarts are the convection ovens, the ovens with the built in fan to circulate the hot air better. And better this, you can buy yourself a convection oven with a vent function to let out steam when built up in the oven. It will provide your tarts with a nicer color on the crust and also giving you that crispy shell which is always desired.

I prefer to bake my tarts a little longer to evaporate more moisture. I do this because, although the tart shells will be a lot more dry, but when I add in the fillings it will soak up juice and balance out. Also, when living in humid climate, baking your shells a little longer than required will also help prevent your shells from becoming soft too fast due to the moisture in the air. Nobody likes a soggy tart shell.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grilled peaches, Arugula Salad. Honey Grapefruit Vinaigrette.

Grilled Peaches. Had a craving to want to pan grill something, and so... Peaches it was.
Grilled peaches aren't exactly my favorite type of fruit to grill, but I enjoy the appearance of beautiful grill marks on my surface of my food. There weren't much ingredients to pan grill in the house, and I wasn't going to plan on pan grilling my bread without a fragrant cheese in between.

 When you grill anything, especially fruits or vegetables, some of it's moisture evaporates, thus concentrating it's flavors and natural sugars. This in case, with the peaches, they became much sweeter than prior and the feminine like scent of peaches become much more fragrant.

A few days ago, I had made using the last cup of the grapefruit juice with some EVOO, lemon juice, dijon mustard and honey.  A honey grapefruit vinaigrette was made. And I decided to dress that on my salad for lunch. I I thought the grapefruit juice and honey would nicely  balance out the peppery taste of the baby arugula, and the spiciness of the raw red onions.

But even so, I think I would have been just as happy with some lemon juice and olive oil whooshed together as my dressing. Sometimes I feel we tend to forget how beautifully tasting a great quality olive oil would be on the tongue, and we should be more enticed to explore these raw flavors.

Baby arugula salad
tomatoes. red onions.
and the beautifully grilled peaches
Honey grapefruit vinaigrette.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chocolate Gift Box. All CHOCOLATE!!

Okay readers, I am sorry I have abandoned you guys and this blog for more than a month. And I feel grateful that some of you still write to me and encourage me to keep on blogging about food. Especially, this one reader emailed me, screaming, " WHERE'S THE FOOOODDD PORNNN??? ". So I finally decided to get my ass off the lazy couch and put some effort back into my food blog. Hopefully, this type of motivation will last..

Well, I had taught a chocolate class a few days ago, and it was all about chocolate gift boxes. Using chocolate to make a real box with a lid and some decorations. You can use this box to fill it with more chocolate stuff, oh you know, like chocolate truffles and or chocolate bonbons. Whatever it is that you put into this box, it is going to look like it's the LV of chocolates.

I used CK luster dust to brush the colors on the chocolate once I had released it from the mold. Luster dust will give you a beautiful shiny look on your finished product. On the center of the flower pedal, I used a darker golden luster dust and on the ribbon tie, I picked a bronzed copper color. Overall, giving this chocolate gift box a beautiful antique look.

A smaller version of the chocolate gift box. Yup. It's all chocolate.
Doesn't look like it once bit, does it! Looks almost like metal !!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pear & Lavender Ice Cream : home style

When making the prefect ice cream, there are many factors to consider and some go very in-depth to prefect the recipe. There are 4 basic categories of ice cream and they are, ice Cream based, egg based, fruit based and then finally there is the sorbet. Each category has it's standard rules of measurements of certain ingredients, which if followed, will guarantee you a unique, pallet smoothing and flavor flowing ice cream that you want. Some of these rules of measurements concerns ingredients such as the percentages of fat contain, sugar contain, dairy contain and sometimes even the % of emulsifiers used to combine fats together. But, do we really need study all this rules of measurement to make a great tasting ice cream dessert? The answer is NO. You can still make ice cream with just a few simple ingredients such as milk, cream and some kind of flavoring. And it will still be quite delicious.

In this case I'm making a simple pear and lavender ice cream with an egg base ice cream.
The Ingredients are simple. You need:
Simple ingredients for home style ice cream.
500g whole milk
200g 35% cream
100g egg yolks
60g sugar
2-3 sprigs of lavender
150g pear puree.

If you can't find pear puree, you can also buy your own pear and cook it down with simple syrup and puree with a hand blender. Or you can also buy pear jams if you can find it in your local market. Just beware if you are using Jams, consider the sweetness level of your jam, you might have to reduce the 60g of sugar if your jam is already sweet.

Start by infusing the lavender with your cream and milk, so in a heavy bottomed pot, slowly bring your whole milk, 35% cream and sprigs of lavender to a quick simmer. Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid to allow the lavender to further infuse. Steep for about 5 minutes or so, if you want a stronger lavender flavor, you can also steep it for 10 minutes.

Next, make a crème anglaise. So whisk your sugar and egg yolks together when your cream is finished infusing, and temper your egg yolk mixture with your cream. It' important that you keep whisking your crème anglaise while you cook and bring to a temperature of 80-82degree C. This will ensure that you pasteurize your egg yolks and leaving no trace of potential harmful bacteria.

Cooling the creme Anglaise

When your crème anglaise reaches 80-82C, take it off the heat and quickly cool it in an ice bath. Then add in your pear puree when the crème anglaise is at about 35C. Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and follow the machine's instruction. Each ice cream machine is different, but usually it shouldn't take longer than an hour or so for your ice cream to be firm enough to scoop and eat.
After 40 minutes of spinning the ice cream. It's firm enough to scoop.
I really like to play with ice cream flavors, and the combination are endless. It's really just up to your imagination and testing to see what works, and what works better!~ I'm going to go enjoy my ice cream now!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The cure for crumble pound cakes! Why does my pound cake Crumble!

When we think pound cakes, we think rich, we think butter and we think of the dense cake-like texture that is the opposite of a sponge cake. But when my friend made her pound cake the texture was quite crumbly, as if it was falling apart when she sliced the cake. Why?

This crumbly texture of pound cakes is most likely a result of over mixing your cake batter for too long. This is an common mistake for most inexperienced bakers who is unsure when the cake batter is considered "well mixed". Especially, when trying out a new cake batter recipe, the result may not come out as planned.

Table top mixers, like kitchen aids are powerful beasts when used to mix cake batters. Often we forget how fast our pedal attachment is actually spinning per minute at certain speeds. My suggestion is to be patient, do not blast your mixer on high speed to start but instead, start on a moderate low speed. Besides from creaming your butter with sugar, the rest of the ingredients just need to be incorporated until smooth. Any more mixing after your batter is well incorporated will risk the creation of air bubbles, therefore crumbly cake.

And if you are cutting your cake while it's still hot, that's another faux pas. It will also cause your cake to crumble, crack or fall apart. The cake is always at its weakest when it's fresh out of the oven, although it's body structure has been baked set, but the inners with all the moisture is still too heavy for the outer layer to withstand. Allow your cake to cool before cutting and releasing from the mold.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I started a FB page for my Profession!!

So finally after long thoughts and weeks of wondering.. I finally decided I will create a fan page on facebook.
But do I really have any fans? Time will tell~


Monday, January 24, 2011

Cookies: Brown Sugar vs Granulated Sugar

Can you replace brown sugar with regular granulated sugar in a cookie recipe? I'm sure we have bumped into this kind of situation where the brown sugar is nowhere to be found in the kitchen, or simply just out of when we need it the most. Then we look towards our white granulated sugar and ponder, "Can I do that? Can I substitute brown sugar with granulated sugar?". And the answer is YES, however this kind of substitute comes with a mixed blessing.

When you replace the need of brown sugar in a cookie with granulated sugar, the end result of your cookie will be more crisp, because there is less moisture in granulated sugar than in brown sugar. The moisture content which comes the molasses in brown sugar will also give you a nice molasses flavor in your cookie. There's molasses in both light and dark brown sugar, and they can be both used interchangeably. The darker brown sugar will have more intense molasses flavor, which is especially complimentary when baking oat meal cookies.

At the same time, cookies baked with brown sugar will contain more moisture, which will also result in a more chewy cookie than cookies made with granulated sugar.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There are no secrets to making great jams besides using the best fruits or berries you can find in the market. The sweeter the fruit, the better your jam is going to taste. That is all.

For this orange marmalade, I started off with a couple of oranges and peeled the rind off without the pith. The pith is the white spongy stuff underneath your citrus fruits. Then I segmented the rest of the orange and squeezed every last drop of OJ from the left over cores. Keep the segments and juice aside for later. With the peels, I tripe blanched, once to get rid of the waxy coating on the orange, 2nd to open up spores on the surface and then lastly, I cooked the orange peels in a simple syrup which is made out of sugar and water. About half and half. I brought the syrup to a boil with the peels inside and I let it simmer very lightly for about another hour.

Then when the orange peels and syrup is cooled, blitz them in a food processor to the consistency or texture you want your jam to be. If you like it with a bit of bite from the grind, then don't blitz it for too long.

I like my jam with a bit of texture so as you can see, there's still tiny bits of pieces of the rind.

Return the pureed rind to the pot and we will continue to add the rest of the ingredients to it.
Here we have the orange juice that we squeezed, the segments from the orange and some sugar with pectin. Pectin is the setting agent for almost all jams that I know of. You can try it with gelatin or even agar agar. Although they would all work as for they are all jellifying agents, but they don't give you the same jam texture as pectin would.

Pour the orange juice into pot along with your orange segments and turn up the heat while whisking.

In this step, you should combine your sugar with the pectin and mix it all around so the pectin is disbursed into the sugar. If you dump your pectin into any liquid, you would have a high chance of creating pectin lumps which are very hard to break apart. So by mixing your pectin and sugar, this will help evenly spread the mixture around minimizing lumps. Rain in your sugar pectin mixture while stirring the jam so everything is mixed in nicely. You need to keep on stirring and heating your jam until you reach a minimum temp. of 105C-106C. Only at this temperature that it would activate the pectin and allow the agent to start jellifying.

You need to sterolize your preserving containers or jars, and you can do that by dipping them in hot bolied water for 30 seconds or so, and then drying them in the oven at about 150F. Then fill the jars with your jam and seel them tight. As longe as the containers are sterolized properly, you can store these jams in cool, dark places for up to a year or two.
Of course, before you want to try a home made jam that's 2 years old already, you might want to check out any signs of spoilage first. Don't just assume because it's a preserve that it's going to last.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lemon Ginger Butter Cake

Although you could call this a pound cake (with it's term used lightly), however, it is actually considered a "Dump Cake" or sometimes also known as "High-Ratio" cakes. They are considered high ratio because of the higher than usual proportion of sugar to flour. They are also called "Dump cake" because once the soft butter has been mixed into the dry ingredients, you will then 'dump' in all the wet ingredients and mix until they are incorporated.

The result of these kind of cakes are very rich and buttery, and very light as well. It's hard to find cake recipes with a mixing method that gives you these 3 factors together. Often if your cake is rich and buttery, then chances are it is a pretty heavy cake, not light this one.

So this recipe is a typical version of a high ratio cake or dump cake which you can try at home.

2½ cups of cake flour

1½ cups of sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon of baking powder

2 whole eggs

3 egg yolks

1½ cups of milk (You can replace half this with heavy cream to make it richer)

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature or just softened.

The version I made below has a LEMON GINGER flavor, and all you have to do is add:

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of lemon zest

3½ tablespoons of grated ginger (This is best grated with a mircoplan so you get almost mush-like texture)

1. Sift all your dry ingredients together. So that's your flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. It's important to sift your leavening agent, in this case it's the baking powder, with your flour together. This will better ensure the even distribution of the leavening process so it's not lump sided.

2. Mix together with a paddle attachment on low speed all the sifted dry ingredients with all of the soften butter. Usually if you just leave your butter out over night, you will achieve the softness required. You can always microwave your butter if it's too cold, however, you must be careful not to melt the butter. So try 30-40% power on your microwave and 15-20 seconds at a time. Cutting them into smaller pieces would also help speed things up.

3. After mixing for about 3-4 minutes, you will find your mix to be quite crumbly. This the type of consistency you want your mix to be before adding in your wet ingredients. So once it becomes crumbly, stop mixing and start preparing your wet ingredients

4. The wet ingredients are quite simple. All you have to is whisk your eggs, yolks, milk/cream, vanilla extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, and grated ginger together. In this case, because there's an acid, the lemon juice, you cannot whisk this a head of time otherwise the acid from the lemons will start to curdle your dairy. So best to make this wet mix à la minute when your dry mix is crumbly, and then pour in steady stream, down into your mix with the mixer mixing on low speed.

5. Mix until all the wet ingredients are incorporated into your dry and looking smooth. Once all the liquids have been poured into the mix, it should only take about 2-3 minutes on low speed before that batter is smooth and creamy. You don't have to over mix it, but if you still see some flour lumps, then keep on mixing for another minute or you can use a spatula and work the lumps in by hand.

6. Next you need to butter your mold so that the cake won't stick when you're trying to release it. After I coated my mold with butter, I also sprinkled grounded almond flour, but that's not necessary.  Fill your cake mold about 3/4 of the way up.

7. Usually cake recipes will tell you the temperature of your oven in which your cake is baked at, and also the duration of the baking. However, that depends on the geometry of your cake mold, obviously the more shallow and wide your cake pan is, the more surface area is exposed to the heat and thus, it will bake way faster compared to the deep and bulky mold. Unless, if for SOME specific reason that you must bake at the given temperature, most of the time if you bake your cake at 350F with 15degree variance, it will work out just fine. And to check the doneness of your cake, like they say in cooking, "stick a fork in me, i'm done", this is the same concept by sticking a toothpick in. If nothing gooey sticks when you pull it out then you're done.
And for those of you who are STILL insecure about not following a given temperature and time duration, lol, just bake this cake at 350F for about 30minutes and check with toothpick. If it's gooey, give another 5 minutes and check again, and repeat until toothpick comes out clean.