Sunday, February 27, 2011

Red Currants Coffee Cupcakes



A simple decoration by just some smooth whipped double cream and top with red currants. Hubby said these are just LAZY CUPPIES!!





I am afraid I would have to agree with him...... ha ha! Too many things to do but too little time I have.


This is a backlog which suppose to be posted last weeks. However, I was stuck by the name of these baby berries!! Tried to search through the web but it took me some times before I came to it - Red Currant. Somehow, at the back of my mind there should be a 'Proper' name for it. If anyone knows do enlighten me please!
I often have the idea of using these baby berries to deco my cakes, but it seems so expensive to get them in Singapore. So I brought them back from my Milan trip. It's a lot cheaper. A punnet was selling at less than S$3! So I thought I should get one and fulfill my wish. It is not the kind of berries that is sweet and tasty. It's rather tart and sour most of the time. So basically, people go for the pretty look than its taste. But if the dessert is more to the sweeter side, they do complement each other. It's such an ornamental fruit to use when it's on the simplest cake presentation. For me it's the best for lazy mommy like me!!! ho ho ho...

I made the sponge base with light coffee sponge and my favourite organic double cream. Or you may make any other flavor like green tea, vanilla, chocolate.... The cream is simply magical. You will fall in love with it!! It is as good as the Japanese double cream. Trust me! ;)





Ingredients:

large eggs   2
Violet flour   60g
Castor sugar   60g
Unsalted butter   15g  melted
instant coffee 4g + 20ml water = Coffee paste

Organic Whipping cream  150g
Sugar   10g
Red currant


Method:

1. Beat eggs and sugar over hot water till sugar is melted. Move away from hot water and continue beating till ribbon stage. Sift in flour and fold in carefully.

2. Mix melted butter and coffee paste together in a bowl. transfer a small amount of cake batter to the butter mixture and combine them well. Pour the butter mixture back to the batter and fold them together carefully. Pour the cake batter to a 10 cupcake moulds and bake in pre heated oven at170' c for 13 minutes. 

3. Cool the cakes on wire rack after it's baked.

4. Beat cream and sugar till 70% firm ( semi runny texture). Spread whipped cream on each cooled cake and top with red currants. DONE!





Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pocket Apple Pie



The first time 'Playing' with my new toy got from Williams Sonoma - Pocket Pie Mold.

It is indeed a very friendly 'Toy' to 'Play' with. Just cut, fill and seal! I am joining the Aspiring Baker #4: Love In The Air (Feb 2011) hosted by Cuisine Paradise since this useful tool is in hands!




My very first time making all butter puff pastry from scratch. And what an unexpected result I got! It's flaky, buttery and the sweet cinnamony apple filling simply perfect for this humble pie.

It was best to eat it while it''s still hot! I could hear that light and crispy sound when I had the bite... I think it'd be gorgeous if it's couple with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm..... Hubby loved it so well, he took one right after our dinner. I am truly happy with this beautiful recipe. Hope you will like it too!


Ingredients for puff pastry:

Bread Flour    100g
Cake Flour   150g
Cold Unsalted Butter    225g
Salt    2g
Cold Water   150ml-170ml


Apple filling:

Red Apple    2, about 300g  ( I use green)
Unsalted butter    15g
Sugar    30g
Pinch of Cinnamon powder

1. In a sauce pan, melt butter and sugar till it started to get brown. Add in sliced/ diced apple and cook for good 10 minutes or till the apple liquid are slightly dried up/ or you may add in some corn starch to thicken the sauce if you are making a pocket pie. Add in cinnamon powder and stir well. Set aside and let cool.

Method:

1. Mix both flours, and salt in a mixing bowl.

2.Cube cold butter, and add into the flour mixture. With a pastry cutter, give a rough cutting to bring flour and butter together to form a loose and chunky texture. Add in cold water bit by bit to bring the mixture together. Do not over mix. It needs to have the butter chunks around in the rough dough.

3. Bring the rough dough onto a working top, and with a rolling pin, press the dough to form a rectangular shape. Fold the dough with 1/3 folding method like making croissant ; fold the top end to the middle of the rectangular then do the same for the lower end. It's like an over lapping layers. Give a 90 degree turn and roll out the dough again. Repeat the 1/3 folding for another 3 more times. This is to create the multi layers of the puff pastry effect. Keep the dough in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Bring well chilled dough out form the fridge and roll it our to rectangular shape about the thickness of 3mm. Put on a tray, and keep the dough in freezer till the dough is firm.

5. When dough is firm, you may use a pocket pie mold to make the pie or make an open pie by simply brush the pie dough with egg yolk and place the apple filling on top and bake the pie at 190-200'c for 30 minutes . Brush pocket pie with egg wash before baking.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Milano

                                      
                                                                Milano Church







                       The Milano chirch square is located at the subway station named- Duomo. A very convienient way of travelling from the hotel to this beautifull place.
                                           Look out for the names of lanes and streets......




                                                       Along one of the shopping streets.


 
             Smoked Tuna with lots of rocket leaves top with Balsamic dressing. It was my everyday must have breakfast dish. Now I like smoked tuna better than smoked Salmon any time!


One of the restaurant along the shopping arcade. They have many good restaurants there, and I love the 'Green House' sitting area. It's so romantic and cosy.


                            Love the architecture of these building. It is so Italian with every glance.

 We settled down in this old restaurant, which we really had a great lunch here. Will always wanna go back there again.



                                                    Another restaurant across ours.


                                          All time favourite, Seafood pasta. This will never go wrong!


                                             
                                                   Best Minestrone soup so far.


                                                              Pasta Vongole


                                              Fantastic Tiramisu for the happy ending of our meal.



                                  He had almost the whole dessert by himself! Who could resist??



I must count myself a lucky woman which I get to go on 2 holidays in such a short period of time. :) I am very grateful and always appreciate the presence. Tag along on hubby's working trip to Milan last week( last minute decision), and we spent our Valentine's day there. What could be better??! Though I didn't get to buy much 'new toys', the trip has far more than what I got from that. The greatest thing is my son learnt to like Italian food!! ha ha... food again.

It's still winter in Europe, however, the temperature was wonderful. I didn't need to put on my hat to keep my ears warm nor gloves for my hands. Love the misty weather, which I know not many people would. Well, I simply enjoy the cold. However, the stay were too short which we missed the chance to go to Como lake which is one hour away from the central station. I was there about ten years ago, was so looking forward to it this trip but with the rainy days we gave it a miss.Shall hope my next visit will be able to bring back the pictures of Como Lake.

 The hotel we stayed offered really good breakfast buffet, which I love the smoked fish salad platter the most. The sweetness of the smoked tuna was awesome couple with Mozzarella cheese, cucumber, white onion, capers, and the sweet Balsamic dressing. (Think I am getting hungry again.) This is something we would not eat for breakfast in Singapore I am supposed. But we brought back the same ingredients to make it for our next few days' breakfast dish! Yes, I know I am crazy. Well, I guess that's one of the main purpose I tag along for the trip! Everywhere I go, I would not miss the local supermarkets and always have something to bring back. That is me!! he he.... The hotel manager has been really kind and friendly to us, from the day we checked in. A small present from him to my son was a  Italian police toy car, my little boy was so happy and kept looking for ' Toy Car Uncle' every time we went to the lobby. And many other small gestures from him that really made our stay a pleasant one. :)  I managed to finish up a post during the trip, which was Vanilla loaf,  or else there will be some backlog to clear.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vanilla Loaf



I was doing some clearing of my freezer and realized that I have quite a few vanilla pods kept in there. I remember there is a bread recipe which uses these special ingredient for the sweet aroma. I am quite happy with the finishing result of the loaf. Wish it could have been more vanilla taste in the slices. Think I will try adding the whole stick of the pod instead of half the next time I do this bread again.

After I scraped the tiny seeds from the pot, I keep the pod in my sugar jar to make my own vanilla sugar. Somehow, the vanilla pod has a slight different compare to the essence in the bottle. As we all know the real vanilla pods are one of the more pricey ingredients among the others in baking or dessert making. I never really knew why. Till my helper saw me using it for the bread, she told me, her hometown actually has people farm this precious vanilla pods! So I thought I should get her to bring back some for me when she goes back for her holidays. She explained to me, this tiny stick being so expensive is because they are pretty tough to plant and grow!  Out of 5 plants, may be only one will make it to fruit. Therefore, it cost so much for each. So, there are reasons for everything in our lives huh?!





















With the vanilla sugar I made some french toast for breakfast the next morning. That was one of the best french toast I ever tried. Imagine, butter, egg, milk, vanilla and raw sugar all come together..... my kitchen was filled with this sweet aroma early in the morning. I especially love the smell of boiling espresso, and the buttery toast in the pan. They both are like Barbie marrying Kent! HA HA HA..... Well, I am sure you know I am trying to say.



Ingredients:

Bread Flour  300g
Instant Yeast    3g
Salt   4g
Condense Milk   45g
Milk    207g
Unsalted Butter   30g
Vanilla Pot  1/2 a stick. 

Method:

1. Slit the vanillas pot and scrap of the vanilla beans from inside and add it in to the rest of the ingredients.

2. Mix all up and get a rough dough. Knead the dough bu hands for good 15 minutes till it's smooth and springy. Cover the dough and leave it in a warm place to let it rise till double the volume.

3. Bring the well risen dough on work surface, and press out the air. Form the dough in ball shape and let it rest for 15 minutes, covered with the mixing bowl inverted.

4. Shape the dough like Basic loaf and put in the tin to let it have the last rise till double the volume.

5. Bake the loaf in pre heated oven at 200'c for 30 minutes.

6. Cool the baked loaf on wire rack before slicing.




Friday, February 11, 2011

Toys From Williams Sonoma



My new toys from Willaims Sonoma, and some of them were quite a good buy! I found the rectangular pie tin which I have been looking for. The mini Madeleine tray was quite a unexpected item, simply couldn't resist it.... The best is, they are all French made! How cool eh? A shop where I could spend hours in there, which hubby will never really understand why, I am supposed only people who are into baking and cooking would be able to. :)

This trip, I managed to buy some Vanilla essence come in a pack of three. It's really interesting. I never knew there are different kinds of Vanilla essence in the market. Mexican, Tahitian and the usual Madagascar. Mainly the difference are the strength of the Vanilla. There strong, medium and mild ones which are best for making of ice cream, adding into tea/ coffee.... There are sooo many things in there which I wish I could bring them back. Well, hope my next trip to SFO won't be too long from now! :)



                             The quality of these French made Brioche molds are simply awesome.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Holidays - San Francisco



                   Crate & Barrel. The shop that sells many household stuff which I found many interesting tools.


Macy's ; one of the main departmental stores I must visit.



Well well well, this is THE shop I have been long for revisit. A place where I could spend hours and hours which my hubby could never understand why......  Williams-Sonoma




You wouldn't believe even Williams Sonoma was having the Ballet display.


While I was there, I could see most of the shops display windows were having their Ballerinas for the SFO Ballet opening night saga . Wish I could be there for the opening night.


A display window with all the old French baking tools & molds.


On the third level, here are the cooking ingredients......

                                  


                                             All the cook books you can find here.

 A cooking demo area with all the sophisticated equipments. Again I wasn't lucky to be one of the audience.





Spices,sauces and pasta.










I love these retro pan cake mix packaging. I used to buy them before I got into serious baking and making my own pan cake from scratch. Reason being the tins were too cute not to buy them. ha ha....


Take a look at this latest KitchenAid stand mixer. How cool!  I love the glass bowl!!

                     










      Took a pix of the shop from the ground floor while I was at the cashier...


Well, it's February. So every where was about Valentine's day. So do the ice cream cones! Cool huh?


A local bakery with their famous sour dough bread. Which I find it's too sour for my taste though. We could see them almost every where.




                                 Here we are at Fisherman's Wharf.











                       

A fairy tale look crepe shop where we could see how it''s made.


 
The highlight for my little one are these Sea Lions.


                                     Thin and soft layers of hot Nutella crepe was perfect for the weather.

                    

                                                Another Boudin outlet along Pier 39.


  
Walking back from Fisherman's Wharf through China Town.





 Ferry Building Marketplace. I took a long walk all the way along Market Street from Union Square. Ouch!!!

                                            You can find all  kinds of mushrooms here.





                                    My highlight of the trip to the marketplace... miette.



Love the layout of the shop.



 
  Yes, I couldn't help it but bought one lemon cupcake. It's hard to resist the pretty look of it.
  How sweet!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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