I’ve been baking and taking so many pictures lately, but I’ve never had the ‘time’ to upload them… until my Powerbook’s power supply died, along with the pics in my laptop! Argh! Better yet, they don’t sell power adapters for Powerbooks at the shops anymore, so I’d have to order them, which would take 3-4 weeks. Gah! All this for a simple blown fuse! *bangs head on wall*
I’mma bring my adapter to my ex-coworker tomorrow, and see if he can help me with it. I’ve already opened up the adapter and I know I just have to change the fuse (instead of spending 100$ and waiting a month), but stupid me doesn’t even know which part the fuse is >.
Add a comment December 25, 2006
After two or three times of total failures, I’ve pretty much given up hope of making any decent bread – until I’ve decided to take a baking class. As I was going through the list of cooking classes from the Académie culinaire‘s catalog, the “Artisan bread” words popped up from nowhere, and minutes later, I was officially a bread making student. The spaces for that class filled up so quickly that I was even lucky I could squeeze in, even though I’ve signed up a month in advance!
The instructor was a cute little man, with an authentic French accent – then again, ALL the instructions at the academy had a French accent anyway :P Here are some of the creations that resulted from my three weeks of classes:
These use a basic lean dough, with some oil added to it to ease shaping. Although they’re edible, they’re more for decoration than anything ^_~ For the first one, I went a bit crazy with the scales, and it came out being a snake-turned-dragon :T The second one didn’t turn out that well either, but I’m posting it anyway just because it’s a pig, and we know we all love pigs! ^0^
These chocolate viennois have so much chocolate that you wouldn’t taste any difference no matter what kind of dough you use! :P Whether they’re good or not depends hugely on the type of chocolate you use, but then again, it’s chocolate… can’t go wrong with it! :9 I don’t know which brand the instructor has used, but I’m pretty sure this is semisweet chocolate. Well whatever, it was delicious anyway. Some quick calculations show them to contain 600 calories for an approximately 15cm long, 7-8cm wide loaf, so I definitely won’t be making them on my own…
This is my favorite from the bunch, me being the crust fanatic who often eat the crust and throw the crumb! :P Fougasse is an Italian flat bread with lots of holes to maximize the ratio of crust to crumb…. purrrrrrfect! :9
The most popular version around here is the olive fougasse, but as I can’t stand olives, I asked the instructor if I could substitute olives for anything else… and as lucky as one can get, it turns out that he found a bag of sundried tomatoes just a few minutes before class started! Unfortunately, the tomatoes weren’t soaked beforehand, which results in a rather dry and chewy filling, but it was delicious nonetheless, especially straight out of the oven… there was also herbes de Provence added to the dough, which gave the dough a wonderful aroma.
I didn’t include the recipes for any of these breads, because our class was more focused on the breadmaking techniques rather than the breads themselves – the recipes we’ve used are the most basic of basic doughs, using the straight dough method, speeding the rise up by heating the rising up with a tub of hot water. This yields flavorless loaves, so the recipes are not really worth recording…
Add a comment December 9, 2006
I have been cooking and baking and taking pictures for all this while, but for some reason I was just too lazy to post them up… Well today, I’ve finally moved my lazy bum to post them all up at the same time! :D
I think I have more pics still in my camera… so there’s more coming up! ^_~
Anyway, I’ve made these dumplings ages ago – I made the skin from a recipe that calls for half hot water and half cold, which worked wonders – though I wouldn’t know the difference anyway, as this is my first time making dumpling skin. I’ve followed the filling recipe from Cooksillustrated.com, but I’ve tried to add in gelatinized stock to make those soup-in-dumplings filling, but failed miserably at it. So, no recipe yet!
Add a comment December 9, 2006
I grew up eating slices of Swiss rolled cakes from local Chinese bakeries for breakfast. Some friends have once commented about how lucky I was that I get to eat cake for breakfast, and my reaction was simply “why not?” Being very Chinese, we’ve been eating pretty much anything for breakfast: cakes, leftovers, PIZZA (yes, we eat leftover pizza for breakfast…), etc… I’ve actually never eaten pancakes or waffles until I was around 18, and I even usually ate them for lunch! For me, cake was a breakfast food, and dinner leftovers were tasty alternatives. Yogurt, muffins, granola, etc. were only eaten as snacks…
Anyhow, I’ve been trying to figure out how they made those ‘egg rolls’, as we call them. I’ve bookmarked several jelly roll cake recipes for ages, and have done several attemps, but since I don’t own a pan large enough to bake the cake in, I have always ended up with unevenly cooked disasters! After a few failures, I simply gave up.
Recently I have been craving for this cake, so I’ve decided to try again. I wrapped some parchment paper around my 10×15″ silicone mat, and made a pan that way. The cake ended up having very rounded corners, but after trimming and rolling, it looks and tastes exactly like the ones from the bakeries!
Unfortunately, I got lazy and just rolled the cake with parchment instead of a towel (something less to wash!), so the thin golden skin got stuck away. I’ve also used Dream Whip instead of real whipped cream to save some calories and threw in some orange zest to make it a little more un-plain.
Taste-wise and look-wise, it was a total success! :D On top of that, it’s not too sweet, completely fat-free (aside from the egg yolks), and very light in calories! It’s also quite “customizable” – I can make different combinations of flavours for the cake/filling to suit my moods… No more store-bought rolls for me no mo’! :9
Add a comment November 11, 2006
I’ve literally bookmarked this recipe YEARS ago, but I couldn’t gather the courage to try making yeast breads, as my previous attempts (using a rather simplified Chinese recipe) have ended up baking into ROCKS. I’ve been reading about using yeast ever since, and understand the theory quite well now, but I was still rather reluctant to bake my own bread. But finally! My first success!
I didn’t know drying the dough up would inhibit rising, so I stuck the dough into the freezer, thawed overnight and baked it in my little toaster oven in the morning. I also forgot to make the sponge (the initial 15min of rest). Needless to say, it didn’t rise much and had a thick, chewy crust, but that’s okay.. It was still EDIBLE, and LOOKED nice!
Honey Wheat Bread
from Allrecipes.com. Makes 2 9×5 loaves
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry, instant dry or 20g fresh yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c warm water
1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
1/4 c water (I used regular milk instead of evaporated + water)
1/4 c melted shortening (I recommend butter)
1/4 c honey
2 tsp salt
2 c whole wheat flour
3 c bread flour
1. Mix sugar, yeast and 1/2 c warm water. Mix the rest of the water/milk, shortening/butter, honey, salt and wheat flour, and add in yeast mixture. Let rest 15min.
2. Add the bread flour, and knead 10min or until smooth. Cover and let rise until double in size, or until the dough does not spring back when you stik your finger an 1/2 – 1″ into the dough.
3. Gently press the air out of the dough and shape into 2 loaves. Cover and let rise until double again. Bake 25 to 35min in 375F.
Add a comment November 7, 2006
This might not be much of a big thing for most, but it’s my first time going for high tea – and it will surely not be the last! Overall it was a nice experience, with a humongous amount of tiny yummy food (that was my only meal of the day!), although it was rather expensive, especially for a poor student like me. But for the service, ambience, and the quality of the tea, it’s worth it – once in a while ^_~
I liked the tea a lot (I drink a lot of tea), and the food was certainly good, though maybe not as heavenly good as I imagined. First time trying clotted cream and scones, too, which was the best thing in the menu – the fruit jam was surely one of the best I’ve ever had! (well, I’ve only had grocery-store stuff in comparison, so…) I was slightly disappointed with the canapés, as they were just so-so, and the sandwiches were a tiny bit dry, though the flavor was pretty good (though ALL were sugar-laden).
There are only three places for high tea in Montreal (that I know of anyway), and we went to Hôtel Le St-James, which happened to be the most expensive of the three (35$ or 45$, depending on which menu you choose, compared to 32$ @ Ritz-Carlton or 25$ @ Le Reine Elizabeth). Next in line is high tea @ Le Reine Elizabeth! :D
Hôtel Le St-James
355 rue St-Jacques, Lachine, QC
Add a comment October 29, 2006
Phew! I baked these pies almost a month ago, but I’ve never had the motivation to upload the pic and post an entry until now – but here it is! :D
So last month, I went apple picking, and by that time I’ve already decided to bake an apple crumb pie. I’ve been dreaming of Rockaberry’s apple crumb pie day and night, especially when I was away dorming. Honestly, I really dislike baked fruits, especially apples, but they seem to be the only fruits that would hold their shape and allow the pie to be humongously huge like Rockaberry’s. Even Rockaberry’s couldn’t figure a way to avoid flat crumb pies for fruits other than apples!
I’ve done crumb pies before, but the topping was always the “rub-flour-with-butter-until-cornmeal-like” type and not crumble-ish at all, like the cookie-like topping for which Rockaberry’s is so famous for! I’ve later learned that their topping is actually more of a cobbler topping, not a crumb topping. They also once mentioned that their topping consists of flour, butter and a secret ingredient – and searching around Cook’s Illustrated’s recipes for cobbler toppings, I think I’ve found out what this ingredient is! It took me quite some time to decide which recipes to combine and to them scale accordingly.
Mini Apple Crumb Pies
a mixture of recipes from Cook’s Illustrated. Makes 12 muffin cup pies.
Crust – Pâte sucrée
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp heavy cream (I used milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
2/3 C confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C butter, cut into 3/4″ cubes
1/4 C sugar
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 lemon zest
5 apples, cut into 1/4″ slices (preferably a mixture of sweet and tart apples)
1 C all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp bakingp owder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1/3 C plain yogurt (or flavored if you want)
Crust: Whisk yolk, cream and vanilla. Pulse flour, sugar and salt in food processor, or rub with fingers until mixture resembles coarsemeal. Add egg mixture, and toss and fold until dough just comes together. Wrap dough with plastic wrap, and press into a 6″ disk. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, then roll it out and line the muffin cups. Pre-bake with pie weights on 350F for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Filling: Mix all ingredients, except apples and lemon juice. Toss in apples and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until tender but still holding their shape, around 15 minutes. Leave to cool completely, then drain off the most juice you can (to avoid a soggy crust). Sprinkle and toss in lemon juice, then fill the tart shells.
Topping: Mix all ingredients except butter and yogurt. Pulse in processor (or rub with fingers) the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Toss in the yogurt until there’s big blobs of dough. Spoon dough onto pies and bake at 350F around 10-15min or until light golden (or broil for the last few minutes if it won’t darken).
Yup! So the secret ingredient is indeed…….. *dun dun duuun* YOGURT!! Yup! The yogurt makes the biscuit topping perfectly crunchy, and gives a nice little tang :D Yuuum! Since the ratio crust/crumb-to-filling is pretty high, these little pies taste more like filled cookies than actual pies. But as I said, I don’t like baked apples, so these have just the right amount of filling to provide a little moistness and balance the dry crumb/crust :D
1 comment October 29, 2006
Saturday is usually the day when I suddenly discover that all my food is going bad, which means that the kitchen gets quite busy. Well, this time, my ricotta cheese is going past its expiration date soon, and I’ve been wanting to try out the ricotta raisin crepe recipe I’ve found on Cook’s Illustrated, so here we go! :3
I love the concept of crepes, of wrapping yummy fillings with a thin pancake… but I’m actually not too crazy about the taste of the crepes themselves. Pancakes in general are just a-okay for me. As for waffles, now THAT’S different…
Raisin Ricotta crepes
from Cooks Illustrated. Makes 16 6-7 inch crepes.
2 large eggs
1 C milk
6 tbsp water
1 C all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp melted butter
2 C ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese (I omitted this)
1 large egg 1/2 C sugar (2 tbsp reserved)
2 tbsp lemon zest (3 lemons – I used lemon + lime + their juice)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C raisins
3 tbsp melted butter (I omitted this as well)
Crepes: Whisk all ingredients together and sift the batter, or put in a blender and blend until smooth. Let the batter rest for at least 2 hours for the gluten to relax for tender crepes. Pour 2-3 tbsp batter on a 6-7 inch skillet, twirl to spread batter, and cook on medium-high heat on both sides until spotty brown.
Filling: Mix all ingredients except melted butter and reserved sugar.
To assemble: Spoon 3 tbsp filling on each crepe, fold, and brush melted butter and sprinkle sugar on top. Cover with foil and bake on 475F for 15min or until heated.
Half the recipe gave me 6 crepes and way too much filling. My crepes were so full that the cheese oozed all away! T_T These crepes taste pretty good themselves, and the ricotta filling is fairly light, but 6-7 inch is pretty small for the 200 calories they take (crepe and filling). Since it’s all creamy, they’re not very filling – I think they’re better off as a snack than a brunch! Anyhow, I’ll definitely keep the recipe for the crepes and experiment with other fillings…
Add a comment September 9, 2006
Glutinous rice dumplings are possibly one of my favorite foods, after ribs and sweets. I usually don’t like rice products, like rice crackers, mochi, congee, or just plain rice, but for some reason I’m a big fan of these dumplings. I love the light flavor of the lotus leaves, and I’ve found out that reheating dumplings by steaming instead of re-boiling gives them much more flavor – probably because the flavor stays on the rice instead of being boiled into the water.
I’ve been wanting to make my own glutinous rice dumplings, but I never had the chance to do it because I never knew the Asian grocery stores around the street carried bamboo leaves! Anyhow, these are supposedly Hakka-style ‘chung’s, but I find they taste way too much of Chinese five-spice powder (is that normal?), so I won’t post the recipe up. I also boiled them for two hours (most recipes call for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, but another recipe says 2 to 2 1/2 hours, so I chose 2), and the green beans turned to mush! Aaaw! >.< Oh well, next time I’ll know – and when I figure out a decent recipe, I’ll post it up :D
Add a comment September 9, 2006
Hello, first post here! This will be the bloggie where I’ll be dumping all the details of my culinary adventures. Wee! :3
This first post shall be dedicated to the birthday cake I baked for my mom! :D It’s basically a sponge cake, with mango whipped cream at the bottom and coconut whipped cream (dream whip with coconut milk instead of milk, as I did not have heavy whipping cream) on the top. I’ve sown the mango peel into a rose, and decorated the cake with mango slices, cocoa powder and gummy candies. I did a bo-bo between ‘Happy’ and ‘Bday’, and tried to cover it up, but it didn’t work too well T_T
I know the chocolate letters look like poop… gotta work on my chocolate piping abilities… or lack thereof!
Add a comment September 9, 2006