Monday, 17 September 2007

Shermay's Cooking School - Chocolate Making Class

Chocolate scone at Dao Palo
Chocolate cups
My first chocolate making class! I had it at Shermay's Cooking School in Holland Village. Had a yoga lesson in the morning and spend some time having lunch at Dao Palo... great food there. The chocolate scone does not have the floury after taste that most scones have. Wait till W is back, and we will have our lunch there. Just looking at the stuffed mushrooms, eggplants and pizza make me drool... although the items are abit pricey... :P
Anyway... chocolates.... the class was packed. The instructor was Frances Wong, a chef from The Patissier, along with Terence, a Temasek Poly student on attachment.

Frances is very clear in her teaching on the basics on chocolate making, tempering etc. I volunteered for the marbling and the dipping process, which was so enlightening...haha... Only Valhorna chocolate is I did not waste the chocolate that was given to us for dipping. After all the ganache was dipped, the remaining chocolate was put into small little cases and dressed with almonds, chocolate pearls and stuff.

The class gave me alot of ideas for Christmas gifts which can be delivered easily. Well, apparently this is the last class of the year... Friends, if you like to attend, you have to wait till next year. This is the website, where you can find the schedule for the rest of the year... ;)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Mango and Passionfruit Cheesecake

Did another cake for a colleague's birthday. She loves cheesecake and mango, thus the combination. This item does not need any baking. Looked through quite a few recipes, trying to decide what goes into the cake.
Couple of recipes... the main source one from Imperial Kitchen and some others on the internet. Along the way, I made some modifications since I do not have gelatin leaves.

Variations made:
- Used 1 block of cream cheese instead of mascarpone.
- Used 250 grams of marie biscuits, mixed with 2 tsps of cocoa powder. Marie bisuits tend to be drier, so I added slightly more melted butter. The trick is if the crumb mixture does not come together after you press them in your hands, you will need more butter.
- Used juice and zest of 2 big limes. Zest is mixed with the cream cheese during the creaming stage, while the juice is added in the last stage after the whipped cream is added. The juice acts as a thickening agent for the cheese, and adds a tang to the cheese, which is a nice contrast.
- I did not use sour cream. Only added 200g of whisked whipping cream. Did a boo-boo on the whipped cream. I over-whisked it and the water separated from the fat! All in a matter of seconds...haha... Had to run out and buy another portion.
- Oh yes, I added 1 cup of low fat condensed milk! I had my reservations initially over adding condensed milk. But after searching through a few recipes, I realised that quite a few added this item. To my pleasant surprise, the end result was a very smooth batter, and the sweetness is just nice for someone like me who don't have a sweet tooth. :)
Of course, no further sugar is added.

I had the whole cake stored in the freezer overnight, and cooled in the fridge on the day of serving. You would realise that the passionfruit will start to 'defrost' and trickle down the sides of the cake. It's ok, let it be, as it enhances the flavour of the cake.

Not too difficult a recipe to make... :) Will make this again based on request...kekeke...

Chewy Junior

Chanced upon these cute little puffs at Tanjong Pagar. The name of this shop is called Chewy Junior. Its like a cross between cream puffs and doughnuts. Personnally, I think they are healthier than doughnuts in Krispy Creme and Doughnut factory. At least the puffs are baked, not fried! heehee. Sorry if I offend any doughnut lovers out there.
They are sold at $1 to $1.20 each, and they are just next to the famous Chocolat n Spice muffin shop in Tajong Pagar market area. The hot sellers are the Choc Museli, Choc Madness and the Oreo crunch. The size of each puff is just nice, not too guilty...haha
Heard a 2nd shop is already on the way, I can foresee another queue will be forming soon....:)

Dinner for Two

Being back home with W means more home cooked food. I mean, instead of having dinners at my mum's place, I prefer to cook for 2. Time to horne my cooking skills before they go rusty... also before all the stuff in my kitchen cabinets grow mouldy and expire!

Grilled Salmon Belly
These are lovely salmon belly pieces we found at cold storage. How to cook them? Simple. As long as the fish is fresh, I do them in only 2 ways, either steam or grill them. All you need is the following to marinate them:
- half a lime/lemon
- pinch of sea salt
- ground pepper, freshly ground if you can
- handful of fresh herbs. I use coriander. For those we don't like the coriander smell, you can always change to dried oregano, or fresh basil.
Season them for about 15mins, and put them on the oven grill. I put them for about 10mins in the oven.
Out comes the nice, crisp salmon belly with all the omega-3 fat oozing out...lovely.
I paired it with fresh local lettuce, so that the fish smell is not too overwhelming.

Briased Black Moss with Dried Oysters and Dried Mushrooms
This is a dish usually eaten during CNY. I have alot of dried oysters in the freezer, not knowing what to do with it. Decided to be a little bit hardworking and made this dish. If you want it for dinner, it's best to cook it in the morning and let the flavours develop throughout the day.
- Dried mushrooms
- Dried oysters
- Dried Black fungus
The above items should be rinsed and soaked overnight separately. I did not state the quantity as it's up to each person's preference. For 2 pax, i used about 10 pcs of dried mushrooms, 15 dried oysters and 3 pcs of dried fungus.
- Black moss
- 2inch piece of cinnamon bark
- 1 star anise
- 3 cloves of garlic, bashed but still with skin
- 2-3 tbsp of dark soy sauce
- 2 tsp if light soy sauce
- 1 tsp of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of stock or water

Brown the garlic with olive oil till fragrant. Then, add the cinnamon and star anise. When the fragrance is released, about a min or so, add in the mushrooms, oysters and fungus. Stir fry them for a min. Add the black moss in and fry for a while more. Add in the soy sauce and sugar. Also add the stock at this time. Simmer it over a low fire for about 20 mins. If the liquid is drying out, add more stock/water.
Generally, the ingredients can be cooked quickly, but time is required for the ingredients to absorb the flavours and seasonings. Patience and time is required for this dish.:)
Before dinner time, just reheat the dish and serve it on a plate of lettuce. :)

Tiramisu with Strawberries

This is post that should be posted long time ago... Just could not find the time to do it. Made tiramisu with strawberries for my colleague Ashley right after I came back from Sydney. Promised her a tiramisu for her bday.
I remembered coming across an article on Straits Times on the recipe for tiramisu. Did 1/4 of the recipe, using 250g of mascarpone cheese. However, I used close to 400g of strawberries. Instead of just egg yolks, i also used the egg whites by whisking them stiff and mixing them into the cream cheese mixture.

Forgot to take a picture of the 'cut' version, all was gone before I can remember to take... ;)
Verdict: Could do with an additional dash of liquer into the coffee bath mixture. The strawberries with cointreau is a refreshing change to the traditional tiramisu. There were leftovers of the sliced strawberries which W and I happily ate. :)

Sydney trip, Part 2

Has been back from SYD for more than a week now. Was so tied up that I can't find the time to blog. There are so many dishes cooked/baked but no time to load up... The above pics on the Harbour bridge and Opera House were taken on my last night in Sydney. The job has been tiring and I spent the last night having Vietnamnese food in Chinatown, walking up along George St, stopping at Gelatissimo for my favourite chocolate gelato, and ending up at Opera House for the breath taking view. Will miss the time spent in Paddy's market buying the nuts and dried fruits and the time at Fish Market, buying the fresh oysters and sashimi, sitting by Wentworth park watching the rugby training and seagulls. It's just so mind relaxing. Guess the next time I will be back in AU will in 2008... till then, I have these pics for memory. :)