A BBQ Sausages Party

Hello!!! How was your weekend? On Saturday, I spent the evening in except I did not partake in any “homebody” activities. That’s because I co-hosted a BBQ Sausages Party with a new but already very dear friend, SY. You may recall we went to Epicurean Market together and KILLED it? You can never tell but […]

A New York-style Brunch

20140728-161156-58316566.jpgThis afternoon I threw a small New York-style brunch party for some girlfriends. Now, you must be wondering what’s the difference between mine and an ordinary brunch? Bagels and Lox. According to Time Out New York, the two stands out as one of New York City’s emblematic culinary titans.” 

It has been forever since I last hosted a party. July was supposed to be my month of austerity drive. It failed. Just one dormant month and I was going cold turkey. And when a Public Holiday popped up on my calendar, I jumped at the chance, and quickly sent out some invites. Luckily my girlfriends were equally as excited as me!

This afternoon, I laid out some seat cushions to eat like the Japanese.

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Planning the party wasn’t difficult. There were tons of guides from good food websites like: The BBC Good Food, and Bon Appetit. DailyMail’s delicious Toasted bagels with smoked salmon and pickled cucumber recipe was helpful too! I adopted the pickled cucumber idea. So apparently for an NYC-style brunch, all I needed were assorted bagels, cream cheese, tomato, red onion and cold-smoked Nova lox. Lox was going to be hard to find in Singapore so I used Smoked Salmon. No one noticed a difference.

My Mum let me use her vintage ice-cream crystals cups. They were perfect for serving the pickled cucumbers and dill cream cheese. Slices of sweet Honey Cherry Tomatoes, Capers, Shallots, Lemon wedges and fresh dill completed the NYC brunch spread.

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But things never go according to plan. I got greedy. I knew bagels and smoked salmon weren’t going to be enough. Eggs. Brunch always needs eggs. On Google, I came across the most interesting recipe ever: Oven-baked Scrambled Eggs. As they were so damn simple to make, I was sold. However do note that the eggs will continue to cook when out of the oven. Take them out even if they look a whee bit runny.

Then I thought of fries. Don’t ask me what’s the link there. Thank goodness there was a bag of Alexia Sweet Potato Fries in my freezer. I prepared them according to instructions and sprinkled on some delicious Parmesan. It was a hit! Everyone LOVES fries.

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I thought of baking the bagels. But a quick calculation showed it was more worth it to get six bagels than buy bags of flour, sugar and yeast. Another time. The supermarket-bought bagels were not too bad. My girlfriends had a good time fixing their own bagel sandwiches.

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For dessert, I kept it light and healthy; Blueberry Parfait and Fresh Strawberries. Nothing beats fresh sweet strawberries. My Blueberry Parfaits was akin to a Tiramisu albeit a less calorific version. I layered Savoiardi Finger Biscuits

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with Vanilla Greek Yoghurt and fresh Roasted Blueberry Compote.

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More biscuits

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topped with more yoghurt and blueberry compote. It was meant to look like this:

20140728-162500-59100974.jpgBut I ain’t Daniel Boulud so it looked like that.

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Hey, they were still great!

Whilst grocery shopping yesterday, I could not resist picking up a pack of these Orange Madeleines.

20140728-154904-56944763.jpgAll the way from France, super pricey but fantastic! Each huge madeleine was amazingly tender and moist with a rich orange-y flavour. Thanks to these babies, I can finally get those nasty dense puny ones from Delifrance out of my mind.

20140728-154905-56945541.jpgIt was a relaxing afternoon filled with laughter and good conversations.

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And a treat for the host:

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Thank you!

Triple-layered Guacamole Dip; versatile and perfect for feeding the masses!

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A couple of months back, I threw a Barbecue party for my colleagues so this post is a tad late but still better late than never because this recipe/ idea is wonderful for dinner parties. I just had to share it to spread the joy. For the party, although my kind colleagues volunteered to help me out with the food and beverages, I am one of those paranoid hosts who hates my guests leaving my house hungry so I had to think of a dish that would be delicious, require little effort and be able to feed a lot of people at the same time. When one of my colleague volunteered to bring chips, I knew I had to make my famed guacamole and fruit salsa dips. Dips + chips + BBQ = PERFECTION!

The ADD-me felt serving up bowls of dip and salsa again was so boring! But thanks to Tastespotting, I came across this big beautiful bowl of Triple Layer Guacamole Creamy Cotija and Confetti Salsa Party Dip by Soupaddict. It was colourful, unusual (at least in Singapore), and looked like a lot – perfect for impressing and feeding the masses! However when I read the recipe carefully, I knew it wasn’t for me. I already have an ultra reliable Guacamole recipe thanks to Alton Brown. Plus where was I going to find cotija in an Asian country? And it sounded fattening too! Plus the salsa right on top, given the tomatoes in the guacamole, would be a little too-tomatoey. In the end, this was how my triple layered dip went down: Alton Brown’s Guacamole topped with a Greek Yoghurt spread then topped a Mango Red Pepper Salsa Dip.

See the magic of this dish?! Just pull together three random recipes of your choice, stack it on top of each other in the morning of the party, WAH LA! The most perfect dinner party dish ever! After you leave this in the fridge, you can go about your day preparing your place for the party. When your guests and more importantly chips arrive, pull it out of the fridge and serve a humongous bowl of chips at the side. I swear you will only hear “oohhs” and “ahhs” from your guests. This is both impressive and delicious! Continue reading to get my recipes! Read More »

Mao Shan Wang Durian Cupcakes

This is as tropical as an Asian cake could ever get. As mentioned in my previous post, this afternoon’s delightful in-season Mao Shan Wang Durians (MSW) were so good, I bought a small durian and got the durian seller to kindly open the thorny fruit up and put all the flesh in a box for me to take home. He was only too happy to oblige a returning customer. On the ride home, I thought about which reliable recipe would be adaptable enough to accomodate durian puree. Then it hit me, my ever reliable Scrumptious Sticky Toffee Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club cookbook! Because in the recipe, the first step is to boil the dates with water till soft then add Bicarbonate of Soda which will render the date mixture puree-like. So if I pull the MSW flesh off the seeds and mash them up with a fork till smooth, it will be exactly like the date mixture. 🙂

Let me tell you something, The Clandestine Cake Club cookbook is a gemstone for home bakers like me. I have baked so many recipes from this book and each and every time a delicious cake would result causing all who eat it to rave for hours after. And the Srumptious Sticky Toffee Cake is no exception! I made it twice and I have never been disappointed. The easy recipe can be so scary because it requires so little effort but it is reliable and I urge you all to try it.

I adapted the Sticky Cake recipe for my MSW and drizzled them with a light White Chocolate icing for that extra touch of sweetness because god only knows how fattening MSW is. Boy were they a success! My usually-sugar-adverse parents adored the rich MSW flavour and the moist tender cake. I baked it in two sizes and gave my mum the larger cupcake expecting her to share with me but no, she gave my Dad a bite and happily finished the rest on her own. My Dad then commanded me to pass him a mini cupcake which he finished in two bites.

20140713-163939-59979077.jpgSo now for the recipe which I promise will be easy and foolproof. If you haven’t got light brown sugar at home, like me, replace it with any type of brown sugar you can find in your kitchen cabinet. If you haven’t got any brown sugar at all, go get a big bag. Light brown sugar is amazing in almost all cakes. It provides a richer deeper flavored cake. If you have got a recipe that is not meant to be white or yellow, replace your caster sugar with equal amount of brown sugar and what ensues will be a moist fluffy cake. For this cake, I used 70g Muscovado sugar and 80g Gula Melaka (Asian Coconut Palm sugar). On hindsight, this was a great surprise as the Asian sugar complemented the Asian flavour so much better than normal light brown sugar would. O.k. I talk too much and have to go back to summarize judgments so here is my recipe.

Mao Shan Wang Durian Cupcakes for 12 normal-sized cupcakes or 24 minis.

  • 200g Mao Shan Wang durian puree (remove flesh from seed and mash them up till smooth)
  • 115g butter, softened
  • 70g Muscovado sugar
  • 80g Gula Melaka (if yours is the big cube, like mine, grate it finely)
  • 2 large eggs, brought to room temperature
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 65ml liquid (this could be buttermilk, milk or almond milk. I used almond milk as it was my only liquid left and no one could tell the difference)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Using a mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugars till lighter brown and doubled in volume (minimum 5 minutes)
  3. Gradually add eggs, beat for 30 seconds in between addition. Add a little flour if mixture looks curdled.
  4. Add durian puree and beat till well-combined and smooth.
  5. Gradually add the flour and almond milk. Batter should be loose but not runny.
  6. Put into cupcake moulds and bake for 10 minutes for Minis, 20 minutes for normal sized.
  7. Top the cooled cakes with your favourite icing or frosting and enjoy!

20140713-163943-59983863.jpg I packed these little ones for my colleagues into a little box that fit 16 minis perfectly! Do see after the jump for more baking process pictures. 🙂 Read More »

Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Cake

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This cake is a perfect example of my addiction to complicate life. This past Saturday, my friends were coming over to my place to hang out and celebrate two friends’ Birthdays at the same time. I wanted to bake their Birthday cake and I knew a simple Red Velvet Cake wasn’t enough so I typed “red velvet cake” into Google in the hopes for a unique variation to the cake. A lot of cheesecakes popped up but after a while, something amazing caught my eye. It was a Red Velvet Oreo Truffle cake by Pizzazzerie. A decadent double layered red velvet cake with it’s sides exposed sandwiched with a dark filling called “Oreo truffle” topped with more of the same and a chocolate dripping down the whole concoction popped up. As if it were not enough, more mini chocolate chips were thrown on to it for good measure. I knew that whole mammoth sugary sinful cake was mine! And I promptly went about prepping and planning days before. I bought the ingredients earlier and researched on any alternate recipes. In the end I decided on my own Red Velvet cake recipe, the original Oreo Truffle recipe on Pizzazzerie, and David Leibovtiz’s Chocolate Ganache recipe.

On the morning of the party itself, I baked three 9″ layers of red velvet sponge cake using my trusty recipe. While it cooled, I separated a pack of Oreo cookies from its cream and blended the cream with a package of cream cheese. I smashed the cookies and added in to the blended cream. A thick batter also known as Oreo Truffle was promptly formed. The original recipe called for a double layered cake but with my extra layer, I could only spread a thinner layer of oreo truffle in between. Spreading the thick oreo truffle on the sponge cake was tough. The recipe called for the hands to spread it out but I dotted several blops of oreo truffle around the cake and used a butter knife to spread and smeared it around as if it was peanut butter and jam on a slice of toast.

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For the ganache, I decided against the original recipe which called for evaporated milk. Instead, I used David Leibovitz’s Chocolate Ganache recipe from his Devil Food’s Cake. It was a reliable recipe that called for minimal ingredients; only three! Finally I topped the whole cake with mini chocolate chips and surrounded the bottom with more chocolate chips.

The result was a mammoth and highly indulgent Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Cake that could easily serve 10(!) Served with Haagan Daaz ice-cream, my friends thoroughly enjoyed it and it was so filling! The Oreo truffle provided the contrasting crunchy texture to the soft sponge and the ganache was lovely with all it’s dark chocolate-ness. It was magnificent! I felt triumphant. Now I’m eager to bake another complicated multi-element cake or pie or tart. 🙂

Red Velvet Cupcakes for Some Special Ladies

At it again. Last Friday, three ladies in my life showed me just how amazingly loyal they were. I am not going into specifics here but it took alcohol, a club, and a douchebag to prove it. I knew I had to bake something special for them and when one of them told me she has never tasted Red Velvet Cupcakes that could triumph Hummingbird Bakery in London, I knew it was a challenge I had to accept. I was so unimpressed with Hummingbird on my last visit to London. The cupcakes were dry and the icing grainy. Nothing beats a New York City cupcake.

Using my trusty Red Velvet recipe, it once again worked wonders. Shame about the Magnolia Bakery Cream Cheese Frosting that could not set in the Singapore humidity. My girlfriends love it!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes
(Makes 12 perfect cupcakes or 1 layer cake)

1 1/8 cup all purpose flour
2½ tablespoons cornstarch or corn flour
1 tablespoons unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
¾ cups vegetable oil
1 large egg
3 tablespoons red food colouring (or 1 bottle Bake King’s Cochineal Red)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk OR ½ cup whole fat milk + ½ tbsp white vinegar (mix together and leave aside for 5 minutes to curdle)
¾ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC. Line standard muffin tins or baking pan with paper liners.
  2. Combine red food colouring and cocoa powder to form a smooth paste and set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together flour, corn flour, sugar and salt.
  4. Slowly add the oil, and beat until well combined and smooth.
  5. Add the egg and beat until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. Add the red cocoa paste and vanilla, and beat until well combined.
  7. Reduce speed to low. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.
  8. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes or 45 minutes in the cake pan.
  9. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

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Brainstorming: Salted White Chocolate Macadamia Fudgy Brownies

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One morning, I had a sudden desire to bake a chocolate brownie after scrolling through mouth-watering pictures of blondies. It was one of those greedy mornings. I knew my brownie had to possess several qualities: salted (to contrast with the sweetness of the brownie; fleur de sel should do the trick), and fudgy (because I am obsessed with intense chocolate flavour). Yet there was still an aspect missing; crunch. But this was resolved the very next day when I spotted a box of White Chocolate-coated Macadamia Nuts on the dining table. The ultra long name of this brownie may have been a mouthful especially when informing my guests but there were just too many elements, and each could not be done without the other.

Baking is a momentus task for me, one that requires ample research on ingredients (contrasing texture and flavours, sorted!), presentation (shall I place the nuts neatly aligned in a straight line or haphazardly placed around?), and most importantly the technique (crispy crust and mushy chocolate interior only). For the perfect technique, I looked no further than Yvonne Ruperti who said:

To get that nice, crunchy layer on top, the eggs and sugar need to be whipped. Dissolved sugar will help contribute to a smooth, glossy top, and the whipped air lightens up the mixture so that the sugar rises to the top, creating the crust.

Still, I needed a foolproof recipe and lucky me, Thomas Keller had one which looked very simple! (By the way, his Perfect Roast Chicken is sooo good. The recipe is again so unbelievable simple.) Mr Keller’s recipe required THREE WHOLE STICKS OF BUTTER. Yes, you read it right, all 339 grams will be needed and used to create this sublime brownie. This did freak me out a little but I was going to serve to many relatives, so technically each person would only be consuming a bit.

Here’s how to prepare this recipe. First preheat your oven to 350°F (180 degress celcius). Butter and flour (using unsweetened cocoa powder) a square metal pan. Set aside. Sift together 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup unsweetened alkalized (dutch-processed) cocoa powder or cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt  in a bowl and set aside. These will be know as your dry ingredients. Lay out your white chocolate coated macdamia nuts and start oogling at them but exercise some serious self control to resist popping a few into your mouth.

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Melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a microwave or small saucepan over medium heat till melted. Place another 1 1/2 sticks of cubed butter in a medium bowl, and pour the hot melted butter in. Let sit for a few minutes then stir until the butter looks creamy with small bits of unmelted butter. You should get a thick creamy butter mixture with coagulated bits and the mixture should be a pale yellow in colour.

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Lay out all your materials and marvel at your closet organisational skills.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together 3 large eggs and 1 3/4 cups of granulated sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until thick and very pale. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then add one-third of the butter, and continue alternating the remaining flour and butter.

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The batter will be very thick and glossy. Dip your finger in there and take a big bite of your amazing baking skills! (Mr Keller also said the batter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week but seriously, can you resist not baking immediately?!?!)

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Spread your batter carefully in the metal pan. It will not be easy due to the thick batter but perservere. Neatly place the white chocolate macadamia nuts onto the batter and slightly push them down.

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Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer poked into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. I baked mine for 40 minutes just for extra fudginess. Cool in the pan until the brownie is just a bit warmer than room temperature. Run a knife around the edges if not using a silicone mold, and invert the brownie onto a cutting board.

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Slice the butter-laden brownie into little squares and place some small fleu de sel on each cube.

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Here’s what the inside looks like. It is so dark and intense. The brownie emits this intense chocolate fragrance as it is cooling down. Biting down, it is so just so rich. The high butter content ensures the brownie will never dry out. Finishing with the fleur de sel brings out the chocolate flavour even further and tempers the sweetness. It prevents the brownie from becoming too one-tone. It would also be amazing if the brownies were warm when served. All my relatives were clamoring for second pieces.

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I am so very glad my first attept was a huge success so give it a bake but try not to consume the whole thing by yourself. 😉

By the way, this Beetroot, Ginger and Chocolate Muffins pictorial recipe looks amazing! And these Brownie drawings from Draw Something are so incredible. I only wish to be half as artistic.