The Pass. The Judgement day of plates.

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

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.