Can burgers be healthy?

Well, yes, if you make them yourself. 🙂

I was in the mood for some home-made burgers but wanted a twist in my previous recipe.   So I surfed around and realised that I could substitute the Panko (Japanese bread-crumbs) in my recipe with tofu.  And the best part?  You won’t even know the difference.

If you like to give this recipe a try, click here and follow the steps.  Just omit the Panko and the milk if you are using tofu.  As for the type of tofu to use, I would recommend that you use the firm type of tofu and drain the moisture out of the tofu with paper-towels before throwing it into the meat mixture and mashing them up to form the hamburger patties. 🙂

An easy and wholesome dinner idea served alongside rice or in our case, a soup and potato gratin for a full meal.

 

The purple butterflies cake project

If you have been following my misadventures on my recent cake decorating course that I took, you would have known how stressed out I have been over my final cake project. There were only 5 lessons that we had to take in this basic cake decorating course, but it was enough to ‘stress’ me and Germsy out. In between all the cake talk, I guess we bonded even more with a glass of wine in hand. Fun times indeed!

In order to ‘graduate’ from this course, we each had to assemble a two-tier cake and decorate it with fondant. We were told to select a design by the end of lesson 2 and this was the cake that I chose – a gorgeous Anna Sui cake adorned with black fluttering butterflies.

[Image taken from http://www.hannahgracecakes.co.uk]

Looks mighty challenging huh? And it was! I was told by my teacher to bake 2 X 6-inch cakes and 2 X 8-inch cakes and have them stacked one on top of the other. I honestly thought I had a 8 inch cake pan at home but it turned out I baked 2 X 7-inch cakes instead. I only realised the error when I stacked the 2 different sized cakes together and they look abit odd. But I was simply too tired to whip up another batch of cake batter and begin the process. So I chose to live with the mistake.

A lot of prep work was needed in order to make this cake. Besides covering our 2 cakes with fondant, I had to make the fondant butterflies a couple of days before, make sure they harden and bring them into class for the final decoration.

I made a total of 20 big butterflies and 14 small ones. 10 odd or more butterflies were broken in the process. Total time taken kneading of fondant plus making of the butterflies: close to 3 hours.

After settling the fondant butterflies, the next step was to cover our chocolate cakes with the fondant of your choice. Since mine was a purple-based cake, I had to tint my fondant which took me 1 hour to tint 1kg of white fondant. This was really getting to be quite time-consuming. Thereafter, I had to transport my cakes to Germsy’s place to have my fondant rolled out and covered there. Thankfully, Germsy’s daughter was a whizz at rolling and covering the cakes with fondant. So the sweet gal helped us with all our cakes with us taking a supporting role. Total time taken to cover 6 cakes : approximately 2.5 hours. Of course it’s not all work and no play, the wonderful host poured out some drinks while we worked. 🙂

Covering the cake with fondant is truly no easy feat. You have to make sure that fondant is rolled out to the desired thickness before laying it on the cake and slowly covering the gaps without breaking the fragile sugar piece. Well, didn’t have much luck in that department for a part of my fondant cracked really badly while covering the cake. So in order to ‘rescue’ the cake, I cut out a piece of fondant and covered the cracked part. This became a joke in the class for my cake looked like it had a stamp over it. I guess that’s my signature then. 😉

Okay, now to the very last part – assembling the cake.

At our last lesson, we were taught how to stack our cakes and making sure that it had the right support without collapsing.

Next, we were given about 2.5 hours to put the finishing touches and decorate our cake.

The mother-and-daughter team doing a far better job than me in their cake decorating.

This was me, initially, working on my cake.

Towards the end, the rest of the gals chipped in and helped add the sparkles to my black fondant butterflies, simply because I added way too much cornstarch and the white specks couldn’t be removed. Yikes! But I guess it was good fun!

And just like that we’ve ‘graduated’ from cake decorating course 1! Don’t you think the pals’ cakes are also very lovely? I absolutely adore Germsy’s white cake with neon pink bows! Classy and funky all rolled into one! 😉

And here’s a shot of us gals with our teacher.

My Anna Sui Butterflies fondant cake – it ain’t pretty but I guess I’m really proud of the cake that I’ve put together.

Of course, there’s room for improvement and hopefully if I ever do get the chance to make one of these cakes again, I hope to do a much better job at it.

Till then, we will be eating loads of choc cake here at the loft! 🙂

This has certainly been one pretty ‘mammoth’ and fun project that I’m glad to have done with friends on my career break. Doing this project has also opened my eyes for I’ll never look at any fondant cake the same way again.

Recipe: Molten Choc Cake

The Man, he’s not a desserts type of guy. But there is only ONE particular type of dessert that will win him over and that would be the Molten Chocolate Cake. Even if he is stuffed, he will always find room in his tummy for a good Molten Chocolate Cake! To him a GOOD Molten Chocolate Cake is the type when the gooey chocolate flows out when you cut the cake into half. 🙂

It’s been a while since I made him his fave dessert, so I decided that this will be the perfect ending for our stay-in dinner on a Saturday evening.

As I happily shared the pics of a rather successful Molten Choc Cake on twitter and Instagram, Crystal from Expat Bostanions asked for the recipe, so here I am now sharing it all with you all. 🙂

Molten Chocolate Cake
(Serves 2 – 4 depending on size of ramekins)

Ingredients:
– Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate: 56.5 g (or 2 ounce)
– Butter: 56.5g (or 2 ounce) plus a little more to grease ramekins [bring butter to room temperature]
– 1 egg
– Caster Sugar: 37.5g
– All-purpose flour: 20g

Method:
1) Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
2) In a double-boiler, melt the Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate. Once chocolate is melted, it will give off a shiny sheen. Remove bowl from heat and add in the butter. Mix well until butter melts fully and set aside mixture to cool.
3) In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg and sugar until light and fluffy (for about 3 mins by electric mixer). Add in choc-butter mixture, all-purpose flour and mix till flour and choc-mix is well-incorporated into the batter.
3) Butter bottom and sides of ramekins and pour in batter until it’s 3/4 filled.
4) Bake in pre-heated oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Shorter baking time if you like the inside to be goey and longer baking time if you prefer the inside to be a little harder.
5) Remove cake from ramekins.
6) Serve immediately with a little icing sugar dusted on top OR with a scoop of your fave ice-cream.

Enjoy!! 🙂

Dinner-time: Truffle Pasta with Poached Egg

The mom-in-law. She lives with us so she does most of the cooking on weekdays. But she’s away for a couple of days so I took the opportunity to head back into the kitchen and whip up a simple dish for a weeknight dinner.

While stocking up for groceries to prep for the weeknight meal, the Man decided to pick up some Tagliatelle. He was in the mood for some Tagliatelle with white truffle oil. I found this recipe online.. tweaked it a little and viola.. whipped up this pasta along with some barbecued pork and steamed broccoli for a simple meal.

The recipe called for poached eggs. The Man and I, we attempted making them once but it failed terribly and ended up looking like flower eggs in hot water, so I never really dared to make them again. This time round, I was fairly determined to make them. Went online to find a tutorial on You Tube… watched the Gordon Ramsey video a couple of times before heading to the kitchen to make the poached eggs.

If you followed the step-by-step guide listed by Mr Ramsey, you’ll find that you will also be able to poach eggs at home too! We added white vinegar to the boiling water as it’s supposed to help the egg envelope in a cocoon faster. Pleased with the result, I started to prep the rest of the dish.

With some olive oil, I sauteed the portobello mushrooms and once it’s cooked, I added the cooked Tagliatelle pasta. If you find the pasta a little dry, you could add about 2-3 tablespoons of the pasta water (retained from cooking of the pasta). Thereafter, add about 3 tablespoons of white truffle oil. Give it a good toss and prepare to plate the pasta before putting the poached egg on top of the dish. Throw in a little chives as garnish and you’re done!

Kinda easy peasy huh?

So, S from Schwingen in Switzerland and L from The Swiss Watch Blog, I hope this recipe has inspired you gals to bring out the truffle oil and start cooking. 😉

Bejewelled bites

Got busy in the kitchen again.  Not mine, but I hopped over to my cousin’s place one afternoon to teach her how to make macarons.  While I realised that it can be rather challenging to make macarons in Singapore given the high humidity that our tiny island has but I also picked up a couple of new things from my genius-of-a-cook cousin.

Thanks to my cousin, we were blessed with a little ‘beginner’s luck’ when I taught her to make her very first batch of macarons.  They actually had feet!!  She had just made some lemon curd with lavender so we used that as a filling.  For the shells, we went for a very basic shell in a pretty shade of Tiffany Blue.

Looks like I’m getting the groove back on baking in the kitchen.  Missing the peeps and my lil’ Style Princess from Geneva though, I know that they would love to have these.

Spiced-up comfort food

Whenever the Man ain’t feeling all too dandy (usually after a hard night of drinking), he would crave for mouse noodles 老鼠粉.  Yikes, what are mouse noodles?  They are actually called Mee Tak Mak, rice noodles shaped like a mouse’s tail.  Sounds and looks gross but trust me, it’s good.  After a hard night of partying, these mouse noodles are best served in a hot chicken broth.  Totally clears the system and immediately you’ll feel better as well.

When I popped over to my cousin’s place earlier this week, she kindly cooked lunch before we proceeded to whip up some macarons.  Her creation of the Mee Tak Mak all spiced up was so-so good!  This was more like comfort food for me rather than the soupy version for I love spicy stuff.  So I decided to recreate this spicy dish for the Man and the family last night.

Verdict?  The family loved it!  Even the helper who usually can’t quite take spicy stuff gave this a thumbs up.  🙂

Spicy Mee Tak Mak with Korean sauce (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of Mee Tak Mak (got the packet ones from NTUC)
  • 1 medium red shallot – diced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Korean Gochuchang paste
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 4-6 pieces of Taiwan Sausages
  • Handful of bean sprouts
  • Salt – to taste
  • Chinese parsley – coarsely chopped, for garnish (OPTIONAL)
  • Century egg – coarsely chopped, for garnish (OPTIONAL)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sweat them till it turns soft and translucent.
  2. Add Gochuchang paste and stir paste into shallots.  Add water.
  3. Add Mee Tak Mak and stir-fry the noodles till desired texture is achieve (I like my noodles abit firmer than soft).
  4. Add Taiwan Sausages and bean sprouts and mix them well with noodles.  If noodles are too dry, you can also add a little more water.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Turn off heat and add chopped Chinese parsley at this point.  Remember to mix parsley well with noodles before dishing it up.
  7. (OPTIONAL) Adding the century egg gives the dish another flavour, so if you are a fan of century eggs, you could add this to the dish.

Chasing those blues..

Whipped this batch of macarons for pals and realised they looked like blue treats for Smurfs instead of humans.  Kinda exotic but fun I guess and that put a smile on my face.

When friends saw these gems, they kinda squealed too.  Blue macarons?  Who makes blue macarons?  Well, me I guess.  Just wanted something fun in every bite.

Hazelnut Macarons with Black Truffle & White Chocolate Ganache
Makes about 14-16 filled bite-sized macarons

For Macaron Batter

  • 1 egg white (preferably aged for 3 days) brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar powder
  • 38g icing sugar
  • 36g powdered almonds
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of gel-based blue colouring
  • 1 tbsp powdered hazelnuts (for topping)

Method:

  1. Line baking tray with 2 pieces of parchment paper.
  2. Sift powdered sugar with the almond powder to ensure that there are no lumps.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add cream of tartar and beat the egg white until they begin to foam. At this stage, add granulated sugar gradually.  Continue beating until very stiff and firm. When you invert the bowl, the egg white batter has to stay put. That’s the time you know when you should stop.  I decided to play it safe and whisked the egg white batter for about 5 minutes before stiff peaks were formed.  Add colouring.  Continue to beat the egg whites on high for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in 3 batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula (ideally).  Stop folding when the mixture is smooth and there are no streaks of egg white.  Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far. [Note: Sometimes I use up to about 40 strokes in order to achieve this consistency.]
  5. Scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
  6. Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch circles, evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
  7. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons and to remove the air-bubbles in the macarons.
  8. Leave the macarons out in the open for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This step is important to allow the top of the macaron shell to dry up so that you get a smooth surface for the macarons.  You will know when to pop the macarons into the oven when you touch the macarons and the batter does not stick to your fingers. Be careful not to leave them out too much for it will give you crunchy macarons and you don’t want that. This step is important and if you skip it, your macarons might flatten .  While waiting, preheat oven to 140 degrees C.
  9. Bake for 15 mins and let cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

For Black Truffle & White Chocolate Ganache:

  • 70g White chocolate
  • 40ml double cream
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoon chopped black truffles (I used dried black truffles)

  1. Hydrate dried black truffles by placing them in the cream overnight.
  2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling.
  3. Pour the cream over the white chocolate and leave to stand for two minutes. This will give the chocolate time to soften.
  4. Stir the ganache until smooth. If the white chocolate has not yet melted then place the bowl in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds. Remove and stir until smooth.
  5. Leave the white chocolate ganache to cool until it reaches the desired consistency.
  6. Refrigerate ganache till it sets to a pipe-able state and fill/spoon over the cooled macaron shells.

Assembling macarons:

  1. Spread the black truffle white chocolate ganache on the macaron shell.
  2. Sandwich and you are done!

It’s recommended that you let the flavours sit inside the macaron for 1 day before having them.

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I’ve been busy in the kitchen… Click here to check out my baking adventures in Geneva.