Bites

SNOG!

I find myself craving this frozen yogurt smoothie from SNOG, which is rumored to be a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton).  It was also rumoured to be a contender for dessert for the reception of the Royal Wedding (am not too certain about which one, the formal one or the one in the evening — although that being said, I don’t think the Queen would’ve agreed to serving something called a “snog” during a formal event where dignitaries from all over the world were present!).

Well, if it’s good enough for Kate Middleton, it’s good enough for me.  Besides, it is really good, and you get a lot for what you pay for! 🙂

English Summer - natural yogurt, strawberries and mint

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Bites

Pecan pie!

Pecan pie has always been something that I loved but never really learned to make until quite recently (thank you to Hummingbird Bakery for sharing their secrets! If you haven’t got their books yet, you should go because the books have foolproof, easy to follow recipes!).  I love how it looks when you’ve lined your flan pan with the pie crust and arranged the pecan nuts for decoration on top of the filling.  Then you wait for 55 minutes or so and bring out the beautifully toffee-coloured cake.  I’m smiling right now, just thinking about it.

So I’m sharing the love and the joy of baking and sharing my favourite pecan pie recipe.

For the pie crust:
260 g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
110 g unsalted butter

Directions for the pie crust:

  1. Put the flour salt and butter in an electric mixer and beat on slow spead until you get a sandy consistency.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon water and beat until well mixed.  Add a second tablespoon of water and beat until you have a smooth, even dough.  If the dough is still dry, add another tablespoon of water, but be careful not to add too much water.  It is safer to beat the dough at high speed to bring the ingredients together.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest of 1 hour in the fridge.

For the pecan pie filling:
Pecan Pie - pre-baking200 g caster sugar
250 ml corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
60 g unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 g shelled pecan nuts, chopped, plus extra pecan halves to decorate

Directions for the pecan pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC (325ºF).
  2. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin.  Line the prepared pie dish with dough and trim the edges with a sharp knife.
  3. Put sugar and corn syrup and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and leave to cool down slightly.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs briefly with a balloon whisk until they’re mixed.  Slowly pour the warm–not hot as this will scramble the eggs!–syrup into the eggs, stirring briskly.  Add the butter and vanilla extract to the syrup and eggs mixture and stir until all the butter has completely melted.
  5. Put the chopped pecan nuts into the pie crust and then pour the syrup-egg mixture over the nuts.  Arrange the pecan halves gently on the top of the filling.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 50-60 mins (in a fan oven about 55-57.5 minutes will be perfect) or until the filling is a dark, caramel colour with a slightly crusty surface.

Pecan pie - post-baking

Bites

Ah-doh-boh!!!

Adobo is Spanish for sauce or seasoning or marinade and is widely used in Latin American cuisine.  It is also defined as a sauce or paste made from a variety of ingredients that may include chillies, salt, vinegar, garlic, and herbs.  There are also dry adobos which are spice rubs for meat, fish or poultry.

Adobo is very definitely the Philippine’s national dish.  Everyone has a take  on how it’s made, every Filipino who knows how to cook it, has their own version, their own set of ingredients.  There are versions with vinegar, versions with coconut milk, versions with pineapple juice, versions with boiled egg, versions with bay leaf.  There are so many ways of adjusting (and readjusting) the ratio of soy sauce to vinegar, some people love it really garlicky, some people want only a smidgen of garlic in it.  Some like it really sour, some really salty, some really sweet and some…somewhere in the middle of all of this. Some people love pork adobo, while some people will say chicken adobo is always best.  When it’s a national dish, there are a million permutations.  Maybe as many as there are Filipino households in the world!

This is my take on adobo.  I’ve tried it with chicken and pork and it seems to work really well.  So I’m going to brave the big bad world wide web, and put forward my recipe!  If you’d like to try it, let me know how it works out for you please! 🙂  I’d really love for you to let me know what it was like!

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo of pork or chicken
  • 5 tablespoons of soy sauce + 1 tablespoon for cooking
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar + 1 teaspoon for cooking
  • 3 large cloves of garlic crushed (or 3 teaspoons of garlic granules)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of whole pepper corns (or 1 heaping teaspoon ground pepper)
  • 1 meat stock cube (chicken or pork, whichever meat you’re cooking)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 400 ml water

Directions:

  1. In a ziplock bag, combine the soy sauce and the vinegar and the garlic.  Add the meat (use belly pork if cooking pork as the fat makes the meat pieces more succulent and less dry, and if you are using chicken, wings, thighs and legs are the best parts to use because these chicken parts have more flavour) and marinade.  I like using a ziplock bag because I like to be able to “massage” the marinade into the meat.  The longer you marinade the meat the better, but a minimum of two hours (with a maximum of massaging!) will do.
  2. Heat the oil in a stir-fry pan and add the meat pieces, making sure that you keep the marinating liquid.  Brown the meat on all sides.  Once the meat has been browned, add the marinating liquid.  Add the soy sauce, vinegar, pepper corns (or ground pepper), sugar, the stock cube and water.  Make sure that the stock cube and the sugar are dissolved well and make sure that all the meat are covered by the marinating liquid.  Tear the bay leaves and add to the pan.  Allow the liquid to reach a rolling boil, turning the meat pieces occasionally.  Cover with a lid.
  3. Allow the liquid to simmer for 30 minutes, at which time it would have thickened slightly (without you adding anything to thicken it!).  This is my little step: after the 30 minutes are over, keep the lid on and keep the pot over the hot plate (if you’re using an electric stove, or over the ring, if you’re using a gas range) for 5 minutes without lifting the lid.
  4. Serve over boiled rice, and voila!  You have my version of adobo! 🙂

Photo credits:

Adobo by ISKAndals.com

Books

My new toy!

This arrived yesterday (and I have been waiting for this for ages!  I preordered this in…early February, I think!).  I received an email from Amazon saying they expected the package to be delivered on March 18.  I waited, and waited and then Mr Postie came and it arrived!  Let me tell you, I was doing tiny jigs of happiness inside!

Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook: Cake Days

This is my second Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.  I knew it was going to be worth waiting for the cookbook because the recipes are never-fail ones.  As long as you stick to the recipe and have no major deviances from the recipe and the directions, the recipes always, always come out perfectly!

The first recipe I tried was the Chocolate Guinness Cake (I found it quite cute that it was St Paddy’s Day 2 days before and a pint of Guinness would’ve been a good drink to down on the day.  Instead of drinking Guinness, I baked with it!).  You might think I was being over-eager, but I’d waited for this book for absolutely AGES!  I’d heard about the book late last year.  And having used the recipes in the first book (where I got the pecan pie recipe and where I learned to bake my favourite kind of cake: lemon drizzle!)

Anyway, Saturday dawned lovely and sunny and…I WAS ILL!  But I wasn’t about to let a little thing as an illness stop me from trying out the recipes in the new book (I’d bought all the ingredients the night before!  I was that determined!).  2 hours later, there it was, that beauty of a chocolate cake, iced and dusted with cocoa powder.  IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!  The slice was so pretty that I had to take a picture!

Chocolate Guinness Cake

So for anyone wanting to start baking, I would recommend getting either of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbooks because their recipes are so easy to follow!

Bites

Guilty pleasures!

Sometimes, all it takes is a great pie to life my spirits.  What makes it even better is when I make it! 🙂

This pecan pie recipe is from the Humming Bird Bakery Cookbook.  All the recipes work, and they come out perfect.  Every single time!

pecan pie, before it goes into the oven

after baking, in all it’s yummy, caramelly goodness!

Bites

Macadamia and Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is one of my favourite Julie Powell quotes from the movie Julie & Julie (one of my favourite movies EVER!):

“Chocolate cream pie! You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.”

And Julie Powell was so right!  It is such a comforting certainty that if you have the ingredients, a relatively reliable set of scales, measuring spoons, an oven and elbow grease and a wonderful recipe book, you will, more or less, make something comforting to eat.

I haven’t been feeling well, so I thought maybe if I whipped something up, and it turned out more or less acceptable, I would feel a little better.  And looking at my chocolate chip cookies, I do feel better.  I can’t eat them yet.  But I do feel a sense of accomplishment that has made me feel better than a caplet of paracetamol ever has!

I added a twist to the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook recipe—macadamia nuts!  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

Makes 24 – 40 cookies

  • 225 g unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 350 g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 400 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 bicarbonate of soda
  • 225 g dark chocolate chips (or dark choccie chopped)
  • 150 g macadamia nuts roughly chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (325°F).
  2. Sift together flour, salt and bicarb of soda into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, making sure everything is well combined before adding the next egg.  Add vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated.  Scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are well-combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture in quarters and mix until a smooth dough is formed.  Add macadamia nuts and chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed.
  5. Depending on your cookie sheet, arrange 6-8 amounts of cookie dough on baking tray covered with parchment.  Bake for 10 minutes.
Bites

Egg custard tarts

I’ve tried several recipes for the egg tarts because there are two variations that I’m familiar with: the Chinese egg tarts and the Portuguese ones (like the yummy, flaky pastry ones that you get from Nando’s).  I’ve had them from a bakery from Chinatown, and I’ve seen Ching He Huang make the tarts on telly.  Ching made it look so simple so I thought I’d try it.  The egg tarts are a reminder of the egg pie slices that I used to eat in the Philippines.  They are SO simple to do (and believe me, when I say simple, I MEAN SIMPLE! :))…well, maybe if you make the puff pastry yourself, it may get slightly more complicated.  But making it with store-bought pastry is an excellent shortcut!

There’s something to be said about truly following a recipe to the letter.  I usually do that the first few times that I cook something I haven’t learned from my mother.  But for some reason, I seemed to have thought that I could wing this particular recipe.  I couldn’t, it had to be said.  But finally, tonight, because there was puff pastry in the fridge and I had eggs that needed using.  I really planned to make the tarts on the weekend but things got on top of me (really bad time management, but then again, weekends are for taking things more slowly, aren’t they?).

The tarts aren’t food magazine pretty (YET!  I shall keep practicing until I get them right!)—my excuse was that the fan oven had a really overactive fan—but they sure tasted good! 🙂

So, here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 350ml evaporated milk
  • 375g ready rolled puff pastry

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 200°C.  Roll out the pastry sheets and cut out 12 circles and line the muffin pan with the pastry circles.  Set aside, preferrably in a cool place.
  2. Beat eggs and add sugar. Add milk and beat lightly until smooth.  Pour the filling into the pastry-lined muffin pan, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top.
  3. Bake the tarts for 5 minutes at 200°C and then reduce heat to 170°C for another 10 minutes.  Switch off the oven and allow the tarts to stay in the oven for another 10 minutes, so that they cook in the residual heat.
  4. Take them out from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.  You can ease the tarts out with a spatula and ENJOY! 🙂