Friday, 31 May 2013

Sip, sup & sigh

Alice Medrich's Robert's Brownies My Way
Some say chocolate heals, while others say it is tea that heals. I say both. Tea AND chocolate calms the soul like whispers of cool wind on hot skin. There's nothing better for you than to sip, sup and sigh away the blues. Tell the diet to go on a holiday way up in the mountains for a day or two, perhaps even a week. Once you've sipped, supped and sighed just enough, it can come home to join you once again as you plunge headlong back into life as it was.

Ooooops... almost all gone...
Adapted from Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies

56g Butter
310g semisweet 53% Callebaut Chocolate Baking Chips
130g Caster Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
2 large Eggs, cold
46g Plain Flour
  • Preheat the oven to 140 Celsius. Line an 8 inch by 8 inch baking tin with foil hanging over the edges for easy lifting out of the brownies later. 
  • Melt the Butter and Chocolate in a heavy-based saucepan on very low heat stirring all the time to prevent burning. Once the mixture is melted and smooth, remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the Sugar, Salt and Vanilla. 
  • Add in 1 Egg and stir until it is well incorporated. 
  • Add in second Egg and mix in as above. 
  • Stir in the Flour until it just disappears into the chocolate mixture. 
  • Using a wooden spoon or spatula, beat the batter vigorously until the batter starts coming away from the sides of the pan. As the batter comes together it will become harder and harder to beat the mixture. Keep going until it comes away from the sides. Do not stop mixing until it does. 
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for about 30 - 35 minutes at 150 Celsius or until a skewer poked through the centre comes away with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. 
  • Cool on a rack. When completely cool place in the fridge to cool even more. Remove after a few hours and cut into pieces with a knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry for clean, neat slices. 

What about the tea then? Well, this is what I am drinking now. I love breathing in the heady perfume of Jasmine while sipping it hot. It's cleansing and comforting. 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Not my 5-a-day breakfast

This is a no-healthy-muffin-and-certainly-not-a-5-a-day post. I better declare that early because the only thing remotely healthy about this muffin is the fact that I used unbleached organic plain flour but nothing else. NOTHING else. 

Right now, I feel terribly clever. Terribly clever indeed for making such gorgeous muffins - like that which you could get at a bakery with coffee - come true in my own kitchen. Yay yay yay says my tummy! 

An indulgent, lemony-vanilla, moist, fine-crumbed muffin chock-a-block with the tiny semisweet chocolate chips I love; finished with a demerara, walnut, chocolate chip topping. Now why wouldn't that be the perfect way to start the day?

I suppose now that I've made a muffin so lovely in all its state of unhealthy grace, I should attempt some which are 'healthy'? Is sneaking in a bit of wholemeal flour and some rolled oats into the batter considered doing the healthy thing or an illusion of the healthy thing? 

Also, why is it that instead of actually making some healthy muffins, all my thoughts are now completely consumed with glorious visions of lemony Blueberry Muffins and boozy Rum & Raisin ones? Is there no help for me at all? 


115g Salted Butter, softened
160g Raw Sugar
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
200g Greek-style Yoghurt
240g unbleached organic Plain Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
Mini semisweet Chocolate Chips
Zest of 1 Lemon, grated
Pinch of Salt

Topping - Some Demerara Sugar, chopped Walnuts and mini semisweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 140 Celsius. Line a 12-case large cupcake tray with paper cases. Set aside.
Mix the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix the Flour, Baking Powder and Baking Soda in a bowl with a whisk. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the Butter and Sugar for a couple of minutes, just until combined. Beat in one Egg with an electric mixer, just until well combined. Repeat with the second Egg. Add in Vanilla, Lemon zest and pinch of Salt. Next, beat in the Yoghurt. Now, with a spatula fold in the Flour, Baking Powder and Baking Soda into the wet mixture to create a slightly stiff batter. Add in the Chocolate Chips.
Measure out all the batter into the 12 paper cases which have already been prepared. Sprinkle on the topping mixture. Place the tray in the oven and increase the temperature to 160 Celsius. Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes until the tops are golden and a skewer poked through the centre of a muffin comes out clean. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Lounge lizard & friends

Ronald W. Hull

Come, float with me for a while.
Imagine a dream with a subtle smile.
Imagine horizons wherever you view,
Placid waters green upon blue.

Come, sit with me for a while.
Imagine a dream like a crafted cloud.
Gentle breezes caressing your skin,
While the sun gently warms your brow.

Come, dance with me for a while.
Imagine a dream with her in your sway.
Glide to the sound of the steel drum round,
And calypso your life away.

Come, prance with me for a while.
Imagine a dream, white beaches serene.
Dig your feet in; let the granules to skin,
Massage them ever so clean.

Come, splash with me for a while.
Imagine a dream with foamy cream,
Where life was scrolled from the sea.
Rejuvenate! Make young the old of me.

Silver linings...

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?

Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

Paul Varjak: Sure. 

Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Alice once again...

This photo doesn't do this cake any justice. My fault. As usual I waited until nightfall to snap the photo. 

Alice Alice Alice... I finally bought Pure Dessert and I love it to bits, despite the fact that some recipes were slightly less than perfect, but I blame that entirely on being overly enthusiastic about trying the recipes and was baking when I was tired and should have been resting. (hmmmm... that was a long sentence)

To keep things short - Kamut or Khorasan as it is sometimes known is an ancient grain. It is not easy to find in Malaysia and I found mine in the BMS Organics shop in the basement of Empire Gallery Shopping Mall. I almost wept with joy when I found it and the other grain I was looking for - Spelt - sitting oh-so-pretty on the shelf. Yay! Brownie points to me for being determined enough to look for them in every shop I could think off.

Before anyone else tries this recipe, please note that Kamut has a VERY distinct taste. You can love it or hate. It's like a durian thing I suppose. No sitting on the fence. Too me it tasted and smelled like nutty soya milk. It also has a high protein content and is quite nutritious. Look it up in Wikipedia or something.

Sorry for the American measurements here. I didn't want to tamper with the recipe too much.

Adapted from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert

3 tablespoons Full Cream Milk, room temperature
3 Eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Essence
1 cup (3.5 ounces) Plain Flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1.75 ounces) Whole-Grain Kamut Flour
3/4 cup Caster Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
13 tablespoons (6.5 ounces) Salted Butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 150 Celsius. Butter and line a 9 inch x 5 inch loaf pan with baking paper.

In a medium bowl, combine Milk, Eggs and Vanilla with a whisk. Set aside. 

Sift the Flours, Sugar, Baking Powder and Salt into a large bowl. Add any bran left in the sifter back into the mixture. 

Place the Butter into the Flour mixture, then pour in half of the Egg mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are just combined.

Add in the remaining Egg mixture and beat for 20 seconds. Add in the rest of the Egg mixture and beat for another 20 seconds. 

Pour batter into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. About 55 - 65 minutes. Cool in the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

French Yoghurt Cake

I have finally succeeded in making a really lovely French Yoghurt Cake. I am grateful for Tongue in Cheek and my one-time obsession with buying yoghurt in glass jars from Carrefour. Since I kept all those marvellous glass jars, I used them to make this cake. 

The only ingredient I didn't have was lemon, so I substituted orange juice instead. Oh, and then just because I do not like baking soda, I substituted baking powder. It still came out lovely. I'm keeping this recipe almost as is. You can use a regular plastic yoghurt cup (about 200g) for this. Just make sure you use the same cup of yoghurt you're using in the cake to measure out all the necessary ingredients.

Pop over to the blog link above if you would like to read more about what variations you can make with this basic recipe

Adapted from Tongue in Cheek

1 pot of Greek Yoghurt
3 pots of Plain Flour
2 pots of Caster Sugar
1/2 pot of Sunflower Oil
2 Eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
A pinch of Salt
The juice of 1 small Orange

Preheat the oven at 150 Celsius. Butter and flour a 3-Cup Bundt tin really well to prevent sticking. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the Sugar and Eggs with an electric mixer until pale, creamy and double in size. Add in all the other ingredients and mix for a few seconds until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared tin and bake until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. About 40 - 50 minutes. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes, then turn-out onto a wire rack to cool completely.