Bites

Bakewell Tart

This is my second attempt at making a bakewell tart (I so love using my fluted flan tin that any excuse to use it is a brilliant excuse!).  The first one I tried had more of a marzipan-y top and someone suggested that I try making a sponge and adding a lot of almond extract and flaked almonds on top.  It seemed to work…I just need to make sure I have the jam-sponge ratio correct.  But it is looking good, doncha think? 🙂

Once I perfect it, I’ll share the recipe!

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Bites

Easy-Peasy Chocolate Tart

Mind you, this recipe still needs refining.  And I used store-bought pastry.  It was too hot today to deal with making my own pastry today (plus I was being slightly lazy!).  As a shortcut, I melted the chocolate in the microwave (brilliant tip that I found online, 90 seconds in the microwave on medium heat per 100g of chocolate.  200g should require a bit more than that, about 3 ½ minutes should do quite nicely!).  But if you like ooey-gooey chocolatey tarts, this is the one to try!

Ooey-Gooey Chocolate TartIngredients:

  • 200g plain chocolate, melted
  • 50g plain flour (I added another 25g to make the chocolate more solid as opposed to runny)
  • 500g shortcrust pastry pack , rolled out to the thickness of a 20p piece and used to line 23cm flan tin
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • cocoa, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.  Line flan tin with pastry (I used the sweet short crust) and blind bake pastry for 15 minutes (don’t forget your baking beans!!!).  Set aside to cool.
  2. Lower oven temp to 150°C.  Melt chocolate and brush about a fourth of the melted chocolate on pastry bottom.  Set aside remaining chocolate to cool.  In separate bowl, mix eggs, sugar and flour in a mixing bowl.  Combine egg mixture and chocolate.  Pour into pastry-lined flan tin and bake for 20-25mins (surface might crack a little).
  3. Cool on a rack and dust with cocoa powder and serve.
Bites

Machang Time!

I’ve always loved Chinese food.  Mainly because Filipino food has deep Chinese cuisine roots and most Filipinos can claim some sort of Chinese ancestry.  One of my favourites is dim sum.  I love siu mai, or what we call siomai, char siu pao or siopao asado in Filipino and pancit, which is, essentially chow mein.  But one of the things I missed the most is what is called machang.  It was a curiousity for me when I was little.  It was this little pyramid that stood on the counters of the Maxim’s restaurants we used to frequent.  I thought they were little packages wrapped up in banana leaf.  Later on, when I worked up the courage to ask the waiting staff at Maxim’s, they kindly explained to me that it wasn’t a banana leaf wrapped around this delicious sticky rice triangle, but lotus leaf.

When I moved to London, it was fairly easy to get them…if I travelled to Chinatown in London.  And as was the case most of the time, it necessitated my learning how to cook this little dish that I loved so much.  I found a recipe that boasted that it was leafless lotus-leaf rice.  I thought it would be great to try it because if it tastes the same without the lotus leaf, well, then it would be definitely worth learning as lotus leaf wasn’t the easiest thing to come by in these parts of Blighty!

After several attempts, I am proud to say that I’ve managed to perfect my version of machang rice.  So if you’re one of the glutinous rice fans as well but can’t find them nearby, you’ll find that this is a dead-easy version.  If I remember my mother’s cupboard stocks, the only probably difficult thing to get is the Chinese rice wine and maybe Chinese sausage.  But the rest are relatively accessible.  Hey, if I can get these things in England, am sure you can get it in Manila! 🙂

Here’s the recipe:

Leafless Lotus-Leaf Glutinous Rice with Chicken and Chinese SausageIngredients

  • 300g glutinous rice
  • 400g chicken skinless thigh fillets, deboned and cubed
  • 200g chinese sausage, cut into small disks
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (or 2 cloves garlic crushed)
  • 75g dried chinese mushrooms
  • 3 liters chicken stock
  • 1 liter boiling water

Directions

  1. Pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms and soak for 3 hours.  The mushrooms will expand and soften.  Once the water is cool chop the mushrooms into slivers.  Put aside.  Save the water as well.
  2. Saute the chinese sausage until the edges crisp up slightly.  Add the chicken and sautee until chicken pieces become white in colour.  Add garlic powder, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine, sugar and pepper. Allow chicken pieces to absorb the flavours and add the mushroom water.  Cover pan and simmer for 10minutes.
  3. Add the glutinous rice.  Allow the rice to absorb the liquid.
  4. Transfer the rice mixture to a rice cooker and mix in the chicken stock.  Cook until the rice has expanded and all the liquid has been absorbed.

Serves 4 as a main dish, or 6 as a side dish.

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

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!