Saturday, 31 July 2010

Easy peasy chicken soupy

There's nothing better than chicken soup to soothe a cold. My Aunty Lan believes it, my mum believed it and I do too. 

It doesn't have to be a fancy-pants sort of soup - mine certainly isn't - but it does have to provide one thing... COMFORT in capital letters, for that's the one major thing anyone who has a cold needs. Then comes WARMTH and RELIEF.

I made this last week for my aunt, who had a cold and I made it again for myself this afternoon because I was craving it. Who says you have to have soup only when you're ill?

It's lovely eaten on its own or with plain rice. It's especially good on a cold, rainy day (we've been having a lot of those lately) with the peppercorns adding bites of heat in the mild soup.

Every family has a comfort soup like this. What's yours?



CHICKEN SOUP - my way

1 small Fresh Chicken (whole)
2.5 litres Water
2 inches fresh Ginger (sliced)
6 cloves Garlic (crushed)
1 medium Red Onion (sliced)
1 Carrot (cubed)
2 medium-sized Potatoes (cubed)
20 Black Peppercorns (whole)
Pinch of Turmeric
Coriander (finely chopped)
Salt to taste

Wash the Chicken. Remove fat and skin. Cut away as much of the meat as possible, leaving only a little on the bones. Wash the bones and set aside. (It is the bones that you will be using.)

Put a pot large enough for the soup on medium fire. Put in Ginger, Garlic and Onions. Heat through until you get a fragrant smell.of spices. Do not let it burn. Add Water, Bones, Carrot, Potatoes and Peppercorns. Add Turmeric.

Cover the pot three-quarters of the way with a lid and boil for 1 hour, skimming any impurities that may rise to the surface.

Salt to taste. Remove from fire and sprinkle the coriander on top. Serve hot.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Luscious citrus

When I first saw this recipe, I got really excited. Olive oil and citrus. Totally yum. Totally easy. So I tried it. That very night. No regrets.

It may look dense and heavy from the photos, but in reality, this cake is a light, moist, citrusy affair that is perfect washed down with a hot cup of tea.



Notes:
The original recipe is right when it says that the cake tastes even better after two or three days, as the flavour melds and mellows. So if you can wait, please wait! You'll be well-rewarded. Or you could do as Molly says and steal slices from it every day of the week.

Here's my version of this recipe.

MARMALADE CAKE
Adapted from Orangette and the Boonville Hotel

1 small to medium-sized Orange
1 Lemon
170g Almond Nibs, toasted
120g Plain Flour + 1 tablespoon Baking Powder, sifted twice
4 large Eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
300g Caster Sugar
160ml extra virgin Olive Oil
Icing Sugar, for serving (optional)

Put the Orange and Lemon in a small pot, cover with water and bring to boil over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Drain and cool. When cool, cut fruits into half and remove seeds. Discard Lemon pulp. Put the halved Orange and Lemon rind into a blender. Blend until you get a thick paste. 

Preheat the oven to 140 Celsius. Place Almonds on an ungreased baking tray and put in the centre of the oven. Toast until they look golden and smell warm and toasty (about 10 - 15 minutes). Do not be tempted to remove them from the oven before they are a nice medium brown colour. Set aside to cool completely. When cool, pulse (in short, quick bursts) the Almonds to a fine powder in a dry grinder. Set aside.

Set the oven to 160 Celsius and grease a 7 inch round cake tin. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine Eggs and Salt. Beat until foamy. Gradually beat in the Sugar. Fold in the Flour mixture gently. Add fruit paste, Almonds and Olive Oil and beat on low speed to just incorporate. Do not overmix. Pour batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool cake in its tin on a wire rack before turning out. 

Dust cake with Icing Sugar before serving. Store the cake at room temperature, covered with a plastic wrap or in an airtight tupperware.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Rain, rain go away


It's a dull and dreary morning here today. It all started last evening when the heavens poured their heart out, while Lightning and Thunder were having a mighty row overhead.

The rain was SO bad that I could barely see the road while driving home. I made it home in one piece and decided to warm myself (and the kitchen) up with some Toffee Bars.


Now, I have tried Toffee Almond Bars before, but that recipe used a cake mix base. As I prefer to bake from scratch, I wanted to try a recipe which called for mixing your own base. I also had 2 bags of Werther's Original Soft Cream Toffees and some macadamia nuts lying around.


I found a recipe and decided to adapt it to include the ingredients I had on hand.

As I am writing this, it's STILL raining here. In fact, it rained the whole night! I'm sure everyone's secret wish is that this was a Saturday morning and not Wednesday. It's the perfect day to snuggle in bed with warm blankets and a steaming hot cup of coffee or tea... plus a sweet treat or two.


MACADAMIA TOFFEE BARS

240g Butter, softened
180g light Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1 Egg Yolk
240g Plain Flour

200g Werther's Original Soft Cream Toffees
50g Heath Bits o' Brickle
100g Macadamia nuts, roughly chopped and toasted

Preheat oven at 160 Celsius. Spread chopped Macadamias on a baking sheet and toast for about 15 minutes. While the nuts are being toasted, beat Butter and Sugar until light and creamy. Mix in Egg Yolk and Vanilla Essence until well incorporated. Fold in the Flour gently. Resulting dough will be soft and a little sticky. Press into a 10' x 10' baking tray. Sprinkle on the Nuts, Toffee and Bits o' Brickle. Bake at 160 Celsius for about 30 minutes, until the base is cooked through and the toffee is bubbling. Remove from the oven and score into squares while still warm. Let it cool completely before eating.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Cherries galore and a hodge-podge recipe


Oooooh... cherries are in season again! So I just had to get some for myself. They're really precious. I mean REALLY precious as we don't grow cherries here in Malaysia. They need to be imported in from the United States. This lot cost me a ridiculous RM45.70. That's a lot in a country where you can get a whole comb of sunny yellow bananas for RM5.00.

We get two types of cherries sold here during the season. The deep, dark Bing cherries and these blushingly lovely Rainier cherries. As you can probably tell, it's the Rainier cherries that are my personal favourite. Its' salmon-pink-beige skin and juicy-sweet flesh always keeps me coming back for more, year after year.


I got greedy with this bounty of cherries. I wanted to eat them fresh, straight out of hand BUT I also wanted to eat them in a tart. I wanted so badly to try Pierre Herme's Cherry Pistachio Tart but not that badly to go looking for pistachios.

So this is what I did. I took three different recipes, altered them a little and made a tart that's completely my own. I'm christening it the Cherry Streusel Tart. The original recipes for the base, frangipane and streusel can be found at Coco & Me, Joy of Baking and Dorie Greenspan.


CHERRY STREUSEL TART

Base
55g Butter
32g Icing Sugar
1 large Egg
15g Ground Almonds
100g Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Essence

Preheat oven at 140 Celsius and get a 23cm diameter tart/pie tin ready. 

Cream Butter, Sugar and Vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the Egg until well combined. Fold in Flour and Almonds gently until just mixed through. Bring the soft dough together into a ball. Clingfilm and rest in the fridge for about 3 hours. Roll dough between two plastic sheets to fit the tart tin. Lift plastic sheet and overturn dough into the tin. Trim edges and even-out dough with fingers if necessary. Place the dough-lined tin into the fridge to rest for about 1 hour. Remove tin from the fridge, prick well and bake at 160 Celsius for about 25 - 30 minutes until it turns a light golden colour. Remove from oven and let it cool.

Frangipane
50g Butter
50g Caster Sugar
1 large Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
45g Ground Almonds
12g Plain Flour

Cream Butter, Sugar and Vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the Egg until well combined. Fold in Flour and Almonds gently until just mixed through. Set aside.

Streusel
50g Butter
50g Caster Sugar
50g Ground Almonds
50g Plain Flour
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Sea Salt

Cream Butter and Sugar until  light and fluffy. Fold in Flour, Ground Almonds, Nutmeg and Sea Salt. At this point, use your fingers to bring the Streusel together and break it into clumps. Set aside.

300g Rainier Cherries (halved and stoned)
4 tablespoons Greengadge conserve - or any tart jam you prefer

Assembly
Spread the Greengadge conserve on the bottom of the cooled base. Spoon the Frangipane over the Jam and spread to cover. Place the Cherry halves over the Frangipane and press in slightly. Sprinkle the clumps of Streusel over the Cherries. Bake tart at 160 Celsuis for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the top has browned and a skewer inserted into the Frangipane comes out clean. Serve slightly warm on its own or with unsweetened Whipped Cream on the side.

Thank you Daisy, for popping by at the right time to help stone the cherries while providing great conversation and a hungry-for-cherry-tart-stomach!







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Saturday, 17 July 2010

I'm back... with the perfect cake for afternoon tea!


Okay, so I've been away for awhile. I've been to London, Paris, Dubai and come home to unpleasant news and a broken heart.

I baked my heart out for quite awhile but am all better now. It took seven loaves of bread, three types of brownies, four types of chocolate chip cookies, chewy toffee cookies, lemon sables, korova cookies and little 'punishments' to chase the blues away.

Unfortunately, I did not stop to take pictures and blog of the lovely things I made during the whirlwind of mending my heart.

Now, I am back to baking and cooking for sheer pleasure. As we speak, there is a lovely Lemon-Orange Loaf in the oven quietly baking away, just in time for the hungry mouths that await it at tea time.

(My aunt got this recipe from one of our local newspapers recently. She can't remember which one, so you'll have to forgive me for not posting it here. We have also left out the icing recipe which came together with that of the cake to keep it simple, less sweet and perfect for Saturday afternoon tea.)


LEMON ORANGE LOAF

130g Butter
110g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
2 Eggs
Grated rind of 1 Orange
Grated rind of 1 Lemon
240g Self-Raising Flour, sifted
50ml UHT Milk
30ml Orange Juice
30 ml Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 170 Celsius. Grease and flour a 9 inch loaf tin.

Cream Butter, Sugar and Essence until light and fluffy. Then add the Eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in Orange and Lemon rind. Fold in sifted Flour alternating it with combined Milk and fruit Juice. Should the batter begin to curdle, sprinkle in a little Flour. You should begin and end with Flour.

Transfer mixture to the prepared cake tin and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until cake is cooked through when tested with a skewer. Leave the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
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