Saturday, February 26, 2011

Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

It's not that I haven't been baking - I just haven't been blogging about it. Work takes up too much of my time and that leaves me to bake my favourite recipes with very little experimentation. Needless to say, the pile of cookbooks (with recipes to be tried faithfully tagged) is increasing.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living, the January 2011 issue and it was simple enough to try out.

Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
makes 40-48 cookies

1 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven at 350F. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and blend well. Finally, combine the oats and raisins with the cookie dough. Use an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to drop dough onto parchment-line baking sheets, spacing each scoop about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are golden. Let cookies cool before removing from the baking sheet and storing.

Verdict: The cookie was crisp at the edge and more chewy in the middle. It was a little sweet but perfect with a glass of milk. In our humidity here, I think they are better stored in an airtight container or in the fridge.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Old School Rum Ball

Every now and again, I get a craving for rum balls which are quite hard to find in our local bakeries. I've been getting my fix from L.E. Cafe which still sells some really retro baked goods.

I searched online for recipes but haven't found anything yet. Please send me a link if you come across any.

These rum balls have a soft but firm ganache-like center. There are no wafers or nuts in the recipe although I did bite into a random raisin. The center is also lightly laced with rum while the outside is coated with a thin shell of chocolate. I've also seen versions where the outside is covered in chocolate rice.

I'm pretty sure this recipe is not baked. It definitely needs to be refrigerated to be best enjoyed. Until I can make my own, I'll just have to keep buying them when the craving strikes.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Olive Rice

This is my go-to dish to prepare when entertaining for a large number. It is easy to prepare and a sure crowd-pleaser.

It is my mother's recipe and she always gets requests for the recipe when she serves it for meals. It is so good that a female dinner guest once told her that after her boyfriend tried this dish, he proclaimed that he would marry her if she could cook this delicious olive rice.

I obviously have not been serving this to the right people.....

The most important ingredient for this one-dish meal is the shredded olive preserved in oil. They usually come in small jars of about 250g and the ingredient list on the label should include olive, oil and salt.

When spooned out, the oil has a greenish hue. Sometimes, a couple of olive pits can be found so simply discard them.

If serving the olive rice as a one-dish meal, use the full portion of minced meat as in the recipe. If there are other dishes at the dinner table, halve the minced meat quantity.

Olive Rice
serves 6-8

3 cups uncooked rice
250g jar of preserved olive vegetable
250g minced pork or chicken
1 tbs minced garlic

Wash and cook the rice in a rice cooker. Drain the oil from the jar of shredded olive and set aside about 3 tablespoons. Heat the work with the oil and toss in the garlic when the oil is hot. Just as the garlic starts to brown, add in the shredded olive then the minced meat. Continue to stir-fry until the minced meat is just cooked. Add in the cooked rice and mix throughly, ensuring that every grain has taken on a little of the greenish hue from the oil. Turn off the heat and serve.

Serve with lots of coriander or wrap the rice in lettuce leaves for a balanced meal.

This is the first time I had to take note of quantities when I made this. When dinner guests asked for the recipe, I simply told them the ingredient list and when asked how much, I simply told them to mix it up until it looked like the combination on their plates.

So if you attempt this dish, don't be too sticky about getting the correct quantities - just stir fry and add enough cooked rice so it looks like this. It's yummy anyway!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Whiskey Eggnog Cake

I thought I would tackle making pandoros this Christmas but I never got around to it and instead, I'm using my mini pandoro moulds for this cake. I've also tried this in the loaf form to give away as presents.

The recipe is originally from The Pastry Queen Christmas. I've adapted it to be less sweet since the icing already contributes to that. The original recipe also called for the whipping cream to be whipped into soft peaks - one of my baking phobias. The first time I tried to do it, I made butter and subsequent attempts have yielded only one successful outcome. So in my
version, I just poured in the whipping cream.

Whiskey Eggnog Cake
makes 24-36 mini cakes or 3 loaves

1 cup or 2 sticks butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt
2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup whiskey

1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup whiskey
3 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven at 325F.
Cream the butter until pale before adding in the sugar and beating until fluffy. Add in the eggs yolks and vanilla until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with thewhipping cream and mix well. Finally, combine whiskey with the batter. Scoop into loaf pans, mini cake or muffin moulds.

Bake for 40-50 minutes if making loaves or 25-35 minutes for mini cakes. Cover the tops with foil after 30 minutes of baking time to prevent over browning.

While the cakes are baking, prepare the glaze by sifting the icing sugar and mixing in the liquids. Stir well to reduce lumps. Upon cooling, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cakes and let it soak in. Before serving, garnish with a sprinkling of nutmeg if desired.

Verdict: The cakes were fragrant and moist straight out from the oven. After glazing and resting overnight in the fridge, they were slightly more dense like a regular pound cake. The alcohol in the glaze sure makes its presence felt so add whiskey or glaze sparingly.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chocolate Pudding

I made these for a supper party with some girlfriends who teach at the place I use to work at. By the time they finished class and came over to mine, supper started at 10.30 p.m. We hung out and chit-chatted till dawn so I'm partially wasted today.

Chocolate Pudding
makes 12 servings

200g butter
200g chocolate (55% ccoca)
200g hot water
170g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs, separated
35g flour
a pinch of baking powder

Preheat oven at 350F. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Add in the hot water and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat then mix in the vanilla and egg yolks. Sift in the the flour and baking powder, whisking it until the mixture is smooth. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture a third at a time. Scoop the final mixture into ramekins or a large souffle dish and prepare a water bath by boiling a kettle of water.

Bake in a water bath for 25-30 minutes for ramekin portions or 40-50 minutes for souffle dish portion. Serve hot with pouring cream or chill overnight and serve with whipped cream.

Verdict: These puddings are great hot and fresh from the oven, served with pouring cream. It was very moist and the flavour was intense. The chilled versions were a lot denser and more ideal for a dessert that you can prepare ahead. They could have been sweeter for those who prefer less of a bitter chocolate flavour.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Canele 1.0

I had a grand plan for a canele recipe experiment, using recipes from Chocolate and Zucchini, LaTartine Gourmande and Tartlette.

I actually made a batch of each but that's where the experimentation lost control. I brought the whole lot to a girlfriend's place since she had a superduper oven and we were going to
hang out. However, her fancy oven had various functions for regular baking and cake baking and what not so needless to say, it was not a controlled process and the results were varied. The caneles were all good and scoffed down quickly as soon as they came out of the oven, which is why I don't have pictures of them.

I decided to try it on my own but slowly and one batch at a time. When I did this last month, the assignments had started to pile up so even though C&Z's recipe called for the batter to be rested for a couple of days, mine rested a whole week.

I also cheated and used the blender to get everything mixed because when I made the batters
the first time, I got frustrated with the lumpy flour bits which I had to sieve out. My final deviation or what the purists would frown on was to use silicon moujlds because frankly, one copper mould here costs as much as a silicon one that would make 15 at a time.

So here is C&Z's recipe which I adapted.

makes about 20-30

cups milk
3 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
100g flour
200g sugar
3 eggs

1/3 cup rum

Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Watch this carefully as it boils over very quickly and creates a mess. Remove from heat and set aside. In the meantime, mix the flour and sugar in a separate bowl. When the milk mixture has cooled enough, combine it in the blender with the flour mixture, eggs and rum. Refrigerate the batter in a sealed container for at least 24 hours and up to 7 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven at 480F. Remove the batter from the fridge and give it a stir as it might have separated. Pour into the molds, filling them almost to the top. Put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes, then (without opening the oven door) lower the heat to 400F and bake for another 40 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and unmold onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before eating. Store in an airtight container or in the fridge for up to a week.

Verdict: These are best eaten on the day they are baked or within the next 2 days. If stored in the fridge, they lose their crusty exterior. Great snack and so easy to make!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Got organised

Its not that I haven't been baking, I just haven't been trying any new recipes. I kept having cravings for some of my favourite cakes so I just kept makng them. Hopefully, I have had enough of lemon pound cake and carrot cake.

I spent most of the school holidays re-organising my stuff. Its just cathartic to get rid of stuff I had been hanging on to in a vain hope that I would make use of it someday. It's also a great feeling to clear space for the stuff that I really need. The local Salvation Army has benefitted
greatly from my big clear-out.

I took ages going through my books and deciding which ones to keep or give away. Finally, my bookshelves reflect my current reading interests. With the start of the new school term, perhaps I will find more time to try the recipes that I've rediscovered while going through my books.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Coffee & White Chocolate Chip Muffin

I'm not a fan of coffee because it sometimes works as a laxative on me. However, after working at a cafe, I do like the aroma of a good cuppa and if I do take coffee, its got to be cold and loaded with lots of milk and sugar - basically coffee flavoured sweetened milk on ice.

As the newbie at work, I've been spared from most of the marking of the exam scripts. Since it can be torturous grading a couple of hundred scripts filled with crap, I wanted to treat my new colleagues after coming across a recipe from this book. I've adapted it for a larger batch and used white chocolate chips instead.

Coffee & White Chocolate Muffin

makes 36 muffins

2 cups or 4 sticks of butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
5 1/2 cups flour
2 2/3 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7-8 tbs instant coffee powder
1 1/3 cup milk
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven at 350F. Cream the butter until pale before adding in the sugar and beating until fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Into the creamed mixture, add the sifted mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions. Finally, stir in the white chocolate chips. Scoop into muffin liners.

Bake for about 25 minutes until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when touched.

Verdict: The coffee aroma is present but not overpowering. It is also not too sweet which went well with the white chocolate chips. I love the crusty top and soft middle the moment they were cool enough to eat. These are definitely best eaten on the day they are baked.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cookbook Collector

That's what I've become in lieu of the fact that I haven't been baking much.

I started at a new teaching position at the beginning of the year. While the work has been fulfilling, the hours are a lot longer so instead of finding time to bake, I've just been lying flat out on the couch most afternoons trying to recover from an exhausting day.

However, my online activity never ceases. Thanks to Amazon, I've steadily acquired more and more cookbooks as I get sucked in by the online reviews. Perhaps I want to feel as if I am baking vicariously through the lovely recipes and pictures. Then again, its also the obsessive compulsive streak in me which has failed to stop me from hitting the 'add to cart' button. I figured since I'm not baking, the next best thing is reading about it.

Its only this week (its exam time) that I've had time to actually make a dent in the reading of my pile of books. Hopefully in June, I will be back to baking in full swing during the holidays.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Apple Sour Cream Muffin

I've gotten into the bad habit of starting an entry, saving it as a draft and then procrastinate about its completion. So although this entry is dated in January, I'm only completing it today, the 10th of February.

Apple Sour Cream Muffins
makes 24 muffins

1 cup or 2 sticks butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
3 apples, diced
1/4 cup milk

Topping (optional)
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
slices of apple

Preheat the oven at 400F. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy before blending in the eggs and vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients, mix well before adding in the sour cream and blending. Fold in the diced apple by hand and add in the milk as needed if the batter is too stiff. Scoop into muffin liners. Dust with the cinnamon sugar mix and top each muffin with a slice of apple.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched.

Verdict: Moist as expected because of the sour cream. Not a cakey texture but very nice for breakfast or tea