Sunday, January 06, 2013

Christmas Choco Mousse

This was an easy to make recipe which was a great hit in my family during the holidays.  This is surely a perfect dessert to prepare for Christmas so I thought this will be good to share.  I got this recipe from a cooking class I had with my office colleagues, tried it at home, and the kids love it!

Here's what you need as ingredients (serves 6-10 small portions):

2 eggs, separated
125g bitter chocolate
40g salted butter
2tbs fine sugar
1/2tsp vanilla paste (or 1tsp of liquid vanilla)
1cup whipping cream

icing sugar

1. Over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl. Once melted, remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Separate the egg whites from egg yolks.  
3. Lightly beat egg yolks and combine with choco mixture, then set aside.
4. Whip the egg whites adding sugar staggeredly and the vanilla until stiff peaks form (do not add sugar all at once, add small portion at a time).
5. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

6. Add the egg white into the chocolate mixture, one spoonful at a time. Gently fold in and incorporate all of the egg white mixture.  Do the same for the whipped cream, one spoonful at a time. (tip: do not overly mix, it is important to keep the "air", gently incorporate all the foam until you achieve a homogeneous brown color)
7. Pour into into desired container and chill (alternatively, keep in piped bag to store in freezer and preserve for longer days; when ready to serve, allow the frozen mousse to rest first else, you will have an "iced" mousse)  
8. Top with raspberries and blueberries
9. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Vietnamese Drip Coffee

I love coffee.  Many words can describe my adoration but let me start by saying the opposite, without coffee, the light bulb in my head won't work.  I need this light bulb ON most of the day and hence, my craving for great coffee - both flavor and aroma.  Believe me, i'm still at my infancy compared to the die hard Cappuccino and Latte fans of Starbucks but i'm beginning to truly appreciate unadulterated coffee - simple to prepare, no fuss, just pure coffee goodness.

So here comes our discovery of the Vietnamese way of preparing coffee - the all natural use of gravity to slowly let the coffee trickle down from the coffee press.  The result is oozing coffee madness -- my light bulb is fully charged 24/7 without a need for another cup.

I have to give credit to my husband for introducing me to the Vietnamese "drip" coffee.  He came back from Vietnam with a pair of stainless metal drip coffee filter.    It is a summation of four essential accessories (from top to bottom) - the cover, the container, the filter, and the coffee press.
 To get started, measure a full tablespoon of ground coffee and press firmly at the base of the filter, cover with the coffee press.  Add hot water to fill half the metal container. Depending on how strong you want your coffee to be, you can add more ground coffee but it is recommended not to dilute with more water while on the coffee press, you can do that later after all the coffee has dripped.  This is to make sure you don't loose on the richness of the flavor.

My husband bought the Nam Nguyen ground coffee from Vietnam, i'm not too sure where to buy Vietnam coffee in Singapore yet but, the method of course can be re-applied with any other coffee powder. I'm thinking to use (for next time) the native coffee used in most Kopitiam, that would be an interesting take of the fave Singapore Kopi-O.

Traditionally in Vietnam, they use condensed milk  as the sweetener instead of sugar.  If you want it black, you can just go for the pure coffee drip.  After 3-5mins of wait, the coffee is ready to go!

The iced coffee version is equally nice to quench the thirst.  Fill up a drinking glass with ice cubes, pour in the freshly prepared drip coffee, stir, add more condensed milk as required.

Coffee cheers, everyone!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

French "Sous Vide", Filipino Style

Sous vide is French for “under vacuum” and describes a method of cooking in vacuum sealed plastic pouches at precisely controlled temperatures.  This is not my key interest but one day, my hubby came home with this obsession for vacuum sealed cooking and started to toy around the idea of, what if, he makes his own sous vide steak?  

The idea of having a decent steak at home and much more, using some French method is just so Mt Everest to my cooking skills. I'm not really keen to move any finger until... the Ziploc bags arrived (thank you to my sis-in-law from the US), a new rice cooker (i'll tell you more about that later), some gadgets from China (which I do not know what for), and a temp control monitor arrived at home.  Looks like, Mr. G has a sous vide plan.

The first thing that comes to my mind is, how are we going to cook without the sous vide equipment? and never mind i cannot pronounce "sous vide" well, how affordable is getting one?  Several Google hits later, i found that a sous vide equipment could range from $300-$1200 depending of course on how sophisticated a machine you want to purchase.

So here comes the value of the rice cooker... Mr. G bought a big cauldron of a rice cooker, assembled a thermostat and viola! an improvised sous vide equipment ready for his first steak.

The days that followed is a gastronomic experiment.  It started with the search for the best (yet inexpensive) meat , followed by knowing the best way to marinade (including finding a bottle of liquefied smoke)... 

then comes the art of vacuum sealing the meat...

Since the vacuum Ziploc bags are not easily found here in Singapore, we wanted to make sure we can recycle.  We used the resealable freezer bag first before slipping inside the vacuum Ziploc bag...
and finally, the patience to wait for 24 hours for the meat to slow cook under a constant temperature of 56C.  This is the temperature recommended for medium rare steak.

After 24 hours, remove the meat from the plastic bag, and pat the meat dry with paper towel.  Prepare pan for searing the meat.  Sear the meat at high heat for at least 30 secs per side just enough to brown each side and bring out the flavor.  

The result is surprisingly the most tender, juicy steak we've had and it is home-cooked, it is a SUCCESS!

Having a boost of French cooking confidence, Mr G also prepared breakfast "sous vide" style with our favorite beef steak served with egg,  

The beef steak is to die for and the egg is the creamiest i've tasted gave a new meaning to the usual sunny side up:-)

Looks like the big rice cooker will be busy cooking week to week, can't wait for the next "sous vide" food surprise!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Puto for Breakfast!

I enjoy Saturday mornings now much more than my early years of living in Singapore. I look forward to Saturday walks with Max (the pug), EJ's swimming class, and more recently, the Saturday breakfasts by the pool with great neighbors. After a stressful week, Saturday mornings allows me to let my hair down, I feel like there's no worry about tomorrow and just bask under the sun watching events go by (Sunday is the opposite feeling especially towards the evening when you know it is going to be another work day when you wake up in the morning). This is the same Saturday feeling that the inspiration of Filipino breakfast comes to mind and the perfect recipe is "Puto" (steamed rice cake)!

My cousin in law did a fantastic job in preparing "Puto" in one of our saturday breakfasts by the pool. This was well received especially when paired with hot tsokalate (hot choco made from cocoa tablets).

Enjoy this in one of your Saturday breakfasts as well!

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
cheddar cheese (quickmelt would be best)

1. Mix the dry ingredients together; sieve the 2 cups of flour first before adding the baking powder
2. Prepare the wet ingredients. Melt the margarine (low heat) and dissolve the sugar. Add milk and slowly pour the beaten eggs.
3. Add the wet into the dry mixture and form a batter.
4. Prepare the ramekins by greasing it with butter on the sides. I used the plastic mold i bought from the Philippines which is handy for steamed rice cakes.
5. Pour the batter and add cheese slices on top. You can also use salted egg if you want something savory.
5. Steam for 15 to 20 minutes; insert a toothpick to check if well done. If the toothpick comes out clean, the steamed cake is ready.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Anna Olson's Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Thanks for the prompting of a good friend, I had the chance to attend Anna Olson's baking session sponsored by AFC (Asia Food Channel) while she's here in Singapore. Anna Olson is a celebrity chef of a popular cooking show at AFC (Sugar, Kitchen Equipped, and Fresh with Anna Olson). I'm not really an avid fan but i thought, why not give this a try, after all, i do love to bake!

Anna did 3 recipes: #1 Raisin Butter tarts which i find very sweet #2 apple, date & cheddar muffins which is ideal with coffee, and #3 maple walnut ice cream which is the big inspiration to grab an ice cream maker and the revival of my love to work in the kitchen and blog about it.

And so it goes Mr. G heard my rave about this simple concoction of milk plus maple syrup topped with walnuts that he too, is convinced we should get an ice cream maker. The search began but to our disappointment there are only a few items sold in Singapore...after 3 weeks and 6 stores..we finally brought home a Philips ice cream maker (model#HR2304)!

Inspired by Anna's delicious ice cream recipe and motivated to use our new ice cream maker, I'm good to go with my first home made ice cream:


1/4 cup low fat milk ( I used the Australian brand Pura because it is creamy to taste)
1/4 cup maple syrup (best would be any Canadian brand)
4 large egg yolks ( i added 1 more egg yolk since the eggs in Singapore are relatively small)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/4 cups whipping cream (my choice is the Australian brand, Bulla Dairy )
1 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

This recipe calls for cooking the custard before adding the whipping cream and finally blending with the ice cream maker. Here are the steps:

1. Bring the milk and maple syrup to just below a simmer in a saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Do not put the saucepan on high heat to avoid immediately reaching boiling point.
2. Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture, whisking constantly until all milk has been added. To avoid curdling due to the temperature change, I placed the bowl containing the egg mixture under cold water with pieces of cubed ice. This will gradually transition the heat transfer.
3. Return mixture to pot and stir with a wooden spoon over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes until the custard thickens and is able to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and strain.
4. Let mixture cool to room temperature and then stir in the whipping cream. Chill custard completely.
5. Pout chilled custard into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. In the last few minutes of churning (this took me 20-25mins), add walnuts and mix until blended. Scrape the soft ice cream into a container and freeze until firm, for about 4 hours. Try recycling old ice cream plastic containers, they are ideal for storage.

The yield I got for this recipe is 1L although Anna's recipe says 1.5L (where did the 500ml of ice cream go?). Total preparation time is about 1 hour but need to delay the food gratification by another 4 hours while waiting for the ice cream to freeze.

If I had to do this again, I would lower the sugar a little or add more whipping cream. I would probably experiment using pistachios instead of walnuts. Well, maybe time for another ice cream making session next blog :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oreo Cheesecake

For the first time, I have finished my Daring Baker's challenge one week earlier than my usual rush towards the last day. I am excited because this month is all about my all time favorite, cheesecake! Yes, I have been waiting for this opportunity and not only did I bake one but two to cater to two favorite customers of My Kitchen -- Oreo cheesecake for my ever so-cute-sweet-tooth son, EJ, and Bailey's (Irish Cream) cheesecake for my hardworking colleagues in the office for a well deserved coffee break (see my Facebook post,

This month's challenge is simple yet creative. The only requirement is to use the basic cheesecake recipe given and you are free to create your own flavor variations.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the crust, I chose to use oatmeal cookies instead of the usual Graham crackers. I also added instant rolled oats to add texture to the base. I also did not add anymore sugar since the biscuit is already sweet to my taste. After combining all the ingredients and pressing together to form the crust, i baked this for 5-7 minutes at 180C.

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Now for my love of EJ, I thought of making something that will delight his chocolate craving. I added c(Kraft) Oreo cream cookies to the cheesecake batter. Since Oreo cookies are sandwhiched by a cream filling, I separated the choco biscuit from the other side with the cream filling. I the chopped the ones with the cream filling, just small enough that it can blend smoothly with the batter. I placed the chocolate side of the biscuit in a ziploc bag, finely crushed the biscuits, and spread it as garnishing on top of the cheesecake.

The result is a big hit at home; the sweetness is just nice, and the chocolate texture of the Oreo cookies makes this a favorite among children.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

DB March '09 Challenge: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

This will be one of those "first time" claims I would make in my lifetime. This month's Daring Baker's challenge will be my first time to make pasta to complete a lasagne recipe. Interestingly, the pasta recipe includes spinach which is not my cup of tea. I grew up knowing pasta synonymous to spaghetti noodles;it is only in my working years that I got introduced to the different shapes and then now, adding a vegetable to the traditional flour+egg noodles.

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Hand making the Pasta Verde is the main event for this month's challenge. The white bechamel sauce and meat ragu sauce completes the baked lasagne dish. I actually used some leftover chicken bolognese sauce for my final dish instead of the ragu sauce.

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Here are some of the steps I've done to make the pasta:

(1) Combine the flour, egg, and spinach. Make a hollow towards the center. Mix the egg and spinach using a wooden spoon and slowly mix the flour towards the center;

(2) Knead the dough for at least 3 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Add a few tbs of flour if it gets too sticky and continue to knead. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and let the dough rest under room temperature between 1 to 3 hours.

(3) Cut the dough into quarters and start stretching and thinning using a wooden rolling pin. I am actually glad that I had a very elastic dough, somehow, it was easy for me to shape the dough into thin sheets like the one below.
In this recipe, there is so much importance highlighted that the pasta should be thin. Here my mother-in-law was holding the pasta and you can tell how translucent this pasta is, you can see her hands behind the sheet.
(4) Cut the pasta sheet into desired length and width. I based my size on the baking dish I will use later. The right sheets for me is roughly 8 cm x 16 cm. Hang it dry at least 1 hour before cooking.

#2 Bechamel sauce

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

#3 Country Style Ragu’ (Ragu alla Contadina)

Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes and Cooking time 2 hours

Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces/125g boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces/125g pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces/125g mild Italian sausage (made without fennel)
8 ounces/250g beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference)
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

As for the meat sauce, I actually used ready made chicken bolognese from one of my favorite gourmet store. The sauce is mainly tomato based,mixed with minced chicken, onion, garlic, olive oil, flour, and some seasoning. I am reserving to use the ragu sauce recipe for my second try of Lasagne Verdi Al Forno.

Here are the two sauces side by side:

Here's the assembly of the final dish before baking at 180C for 30-40minutes.

Overall, my verdict for the outcome of this recipe is, super pasta delicious! It was a lot of muscle work to make the pasta but it was well worth it. I surely will do this again and maybe, experiment with other pasta forms and sauces.