Sunday, February 27, 2011

White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Nutella Floretine Cookies - Daring Bakers Challenge February 2011

Thanks to Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen for this wonderful, delicious challenge!  I had all the beautiful ideas about panna cottas, and had this grand vision of making them when we have the guests last weekend, which was the 26th.  I must say I got side tracked about baking the cheese cakes and forgot about the panna cottas until the last minute, so had to use what I have on hand, and not as fancy as I thought it might be.

The original recipe is here, and I just did a little variation.

Blueberry Jelly and White Chocolate Panna Cotta - Serve 4:

120 ml whole milk
1 Tablespoon (generally one packet) (15 ml)(14.3 grams) (.5 oz) powdered gelatin
1 Can of condensed milk (350g)
50g white chocolate
pinch of salt

1 punut of blueberry
1.5 cup of water
2 tablespoon of white sugar
1 tbsp of powdered gelatin
Boil water with blueberry with sugar, and simmer on low heat, wait until cool a little and stir in the gelatin, pour into moulds (4) and set aside to cool, put in fridge once cooled down.
Condensed milk was used as I ran out of cream, and that's the reason why I cut out all the honey and sugar in the original panna cotta recipe.  I always wanted to make white chocolate panna cotta, so I added it, however it has proved to be a bit too sweet because of the condensed milk.
Similar method as the jelly, and stir in the gelatine when panna cotta mixture is still warm.  Wait until cool down and jelly is set before pour into moulds (I did rush this time and the jelly layer is not as separated as I'd like it to be)
Chill in fridge.
Nutella Floretine Cookies - Serve 4 (and 2 plain ones)
-I quartered the original recipe because I only have 4 panna cottas this batch.

50ml extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup quick oats

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/6 cup flour
1/4 cup golden syrup
a dash of milk

a very small pinch of salt

Nutella - enough to spread

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C)
Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper
1. Mix everything well.
2. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flaten slighty with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 8-12 minutes (I'm not sure it's because I used olive oil or because my oven is old and tired, baking time is longer than original recipe), until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire wrack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean). Spread a tablespoon of nutella on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end)cookie atop the chocolate. I kept a couple plain for hubby who's got choletorel problem and the reason why I used olive oil in my baking to replace butter.

I got the panna cotta out of mould (I had 2 of them in glass, 2 in ramekins) and they set alright.  Overall a bit too sweet.

Sourdough Linseed Loaf

I love seeds in my bread, so when I found some really good linseeds in the local nut shop, I used it immediately in my beloved sourdough. 

It turned out to be a huge loaf, but it's just the normal combination:

100g 100% hydrated sourdough starter
200ml water
40 ml olive oil, extra virgin
200g plain flour, prefer bread or strong flour
150g whole meal flour
50g linseeds (could be more or less, I didn't measure to be exact, approx)
1.5 tsp salt

It smells good, an awesome loaf.
If you are interested in the starter, this is my earlier post in regards to the starter and baking of my first several batches of sourdough: Sourdough Wholemeak Ciabatta

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lemon & Coconut Cake - Olive Oil and Fat Free Yoghurt Version

We've got some guests this week, and time for me to get baking again.

Apart from the baked cheese cake, the naughty snack, I had to bake some thing a bit healthier.

So here it is:

Lemon & Coconut Cake with Olive Oil and Fat Free Yoghurt


200g Self Raising Flour
3 Large Eggs
100g white sugar + 30g for egg whites
80g Desicated Coconut
100ml Extra Virin Olive oil
1 Lemon, zest and juice
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
100g Fat free plain yoghurt
Icing sugar and some slivered almonds.


1. Seperate the eggs.  Cream yolks and sugar, and until is pale and silky.
2. Add olive oil, whisk until it's silky.
3. Add lemon zest, vanilla extract and yoghurt, whisk well until mixture is silky.
4. Whisk egg whites till soft peak, gradually add sugar to form meringue.
5. Fold egg whites gradually with the egg yolk mixture, sift in flour, mix well till smooth and fold in coconut, add lemon juice, mix well.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a pre-heated 190C oven (my oven is a big uneven and unpredictable, baked a bit over today!)
7. Dust with icing sugar and some lightly toasted slivered almonds.

Healthy cake for a some what guilt free treat!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Banana Walnut Loaf

Sometimes, I'd like to make some sweet breads for breakfast. We did have some bananas that have been going a bit too ripe, so I made this banana walnut loaf.

Sweet breads are usually more dense and moist, and they don't rise as high as the plain loaves or wholemeal, grain loaves. I do prefer using yeast rather than baking powder to make sweet loaves.

Banana Walnut Loaf
• 500g Strong Bread flour
• pinch of salt
• 2 tsp instant dried yeast
• 100g milk
• 80g plain yoghurt
• 4 tbsp raw sugar
• 1 ripe banana
• 1 whole egg lightly beaten
• 50g room temperature butter
• 50g crushed walnuts
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp all spice

Mix flour, all spice, cinnamon and sugar.
Heat milk to moderate temperature, lukewarm, stir in yeast and let it dissolve, and stand for 10-15 minutes till frothy.
On a clean work bench, put the salt on bench and add on top the flour mixture.
Add yeast mixture yoghurt and egg and mashed banana to form dough.
Start kneading and slowing knead in bit by bit the softened butter until it all blend in.
It’s better to knead 6 minutes rest the dough for 30 minutes – and repeat the process for 6 times, until it’s smooth elastic and not sticky to hand.
Fold in the crushed walnut.
Leave dough in a clean lightly greased pot and cover to prove till double the size.

Cut dough in 5 different portions and roll up to smooth rolls, set in 2 greased tins, prove till full size.
Bake in 190C oven for 30 minutes.

It's lovely, and different texture than those "cake" stype banana breads.

The paste used on top was made from butter, egg yolk, self raising flower, sugar and milk powder.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm Back in Business - Finally!

Who'd thought, that after so many loaves of simple white bread for the children's school lunch, I'd totally flop?

It's actually embarrassing...  Mum calls me arrogant sometimes, when I insist on baking my own loaves for the children, and wouldn't give that up for anything...  However, sometimes, things don't always go the way I want them to go....

Basically, I timed the proofing of the dough wrong last week end, and after the first attemp that the loaf is over proofed, I quickly started another one, however, I didn't take into consideration that it's still summer, even weather was cool, and we had to be away for the day, visiting my mother in law.  When I came back, the dough looked funny, and after 3 more hours, there's no way I could save it, and I wasted so much time...  At 11:30pm, I quickly asked hubby to go to the local Woollies and get a loaf of white bread for the school lunch next day, there was no lunch orders in school canteen on Mondays...

But the tide has turned... Finally, the third week into the school lunches, I got a good loaf...

There's nothing magical in the dough, just a plain loaf:
7g yeast
260ml water
pinch of salt
30 ml olive oil
400g bread flour.

It's not always easy to juggle for baking, but it's always good to provide kids with home baked goodies with no preservatives and I know what's in it!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Family's Love Affair with the Humble Spaghetti Bolognese, and How to Hide Veggies in it for the Fussy Little Eaters

Spaghettie Bolognese... The most popular Aussie family dinner, also my family's most popular family dinner.  Of course, in good days, it's even more popular when I make my own pasta, being papadelle or spaghetti.   But Sam Remo's pasta do just fine for the family sometimes, and family do understand that we don't have the luxury of having fresh pasta every time, mum works full time.

It's a good time for me to sneak healthy veggies in for the children, and I know, if it's not for the fussy eaters, I'd do it differently, but this is how the children accepts them without knowing they are there.

These are the ingredients we normally use, add or leave a few if I don't have them on hand:
1 Onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of celery
1 carrot
450g mince (usually lean or premium beef)
a can of diced roma tomato (I'm such a cheat, I should've used fresh tomatos but I'm always in a hurry)
1 red capsicum (if I have time, char grill it and peel it, otherwise just blanch it to peel)
1 zucchini (peeled, and de-seeded to hide it's presence)

for the sauce:
2 heap table spoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup of red wine (I prefer red when I use beef mince, although I do know the white wine should be used instead)
1.5 cup of milk
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
chopped fresh mint, oregano and parsley (I have them in the garden, so I always use a mixture of these herbs)

If I wasn't cooking for the fussy children who'd refuse the sound of vegetables (oh, don't tell them I put capsicum in their pasta sauce!), I'd do the normal way of finely dice all the veggies, saute the onion and garlic first and add mince (probably pancetta before the mince, but hey, I can save a few bucks here because definitely the boy won't touch it) and then add the veggies, saute them... and then..  but, this is not the game plan for the kids, they can spot the veggies!

So, when they are not in the kitchen, I use the food processor to mince the veggies, including the onions, garlic and tomatoes and the already minced meat, and then I do the normal saute business.

Then I add the tomato paste, salt and pepper and wine and herbs, after the "mince" is sauted and fragrant, and add milk and let it simmer for about an hour to an hour and half, depending on how much time I have got till dinner must be served...

Meanwhile, boil some water with a bit of salt, cook pasta to al dente, drain and add a bit of olive oil, and stir well - set aside.

Garnish with fresh parsley and mint, top with shredded Parmesen, and that's how the family will eat it...  Maybe one day, I can do it the traditional way, when the kids are old enough to say yes to the veggies...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Simple Week Day Chick Pea Curry - with Basmati Rice - Vegan Version

I don't cook to cater for special needs, and I have been cooking a lot more meat, since I met hubby, he's a huge meat lover.

I'm on the other side, have always been a lover for vegetarian food, or vegan food, not because they are healthier - well, they are, but mainly because, I like them more than meat.

To some extend, when I announced that hubby will have to have at least 3 vegetarian meals a week after hearing his medical report and doctor's recommendation, he can sense a bit of joy in my tone, I really don't like meat, especially red meat, I don't mind cooking them, but I'd be happier if I don't have to eat them all the time.

For some reason, I decided to do chick pea curry tonight.  I soaked the chick peas and some red beans (they are in the same jar as I'm short of storage in the kitchen) last night.

Apart from the chick peas and beans, I have also added:
2 small onions, diced.
2 cloves of garlic, crushed.
some celery
1 zucchini, finely chopped.

I don't usually have time to ground my own curry paste during week days so I do stock up some good curry powder from the Indian grocery shops. I was in a rush because it's Luke's swimming lesson at 5:30pm, and I had to make the curry after I picked him up from school and get home around 4, and go to the pool before 5.

Fried the onions and garlic first in some canola oil in the non stick pan, added a good amount of curry poweder, and added some more garam masala, salt, cademon powder, cumin powder, tumaric powder and
some flakey dry red chilli, and wait till it's fragrant.

Added chick peas and beans and make sure it's well coated with the curry mixture.  I then added the rest of the veggies and a tiny pinch of raw sugar, and added the can of coconut milk.  Simmer in low heat after the milk is heated.

I reheated the curry after coming back from the pool, and cooked it for a further 30 minutes and served with steamed basmati rice.

It might not be a very authentic curry, but it's tasty and easy for a week day dinner.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February Daring Cook Challenge - Soba Noodle Salad & Tempura

February's Daring Cook Challenge was hosted by Lisa from Blueberry Girl.  She challenged everyone to do a lovely healthy dinner, the very oriental Soba Noodle Salad & Tempura.  The original PDF recipe is here.

1 month ago, hubby had some pain on the left foot, and after all the painful tests and X-rays, we are notified by the doctors that there's some health concern, he should cut back on meat, fats etc.  So I decided to do a very clean dish for the challenge, with light batter for the tempura.

So instead of doing the batter, I just used some egg white, dip the zucchini slices and mush room slices in them, and rolled them in a bowl of self raising flour, with a bit of white pepper and salt, a dry batter.

They turned out to be just what I want, very light and great accomplishment to a very healthy salad. 

To go with the soba noodles, some sliced Lebanese cucumbers and Roma tomatoes, and corriander.

Dressing is made of mirim, wasabi noodle sauce, a bit of soy and sesame oil, some pickled ginger and daikun, and some sauce from the pickles.

I added a poached egg to add some protein to the vegetarian dish.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Simple and Easy Summer Dish - Drunken Chicken

We went away to visit Mother in Law, and paid tribute to my Father in Law in his resting place yesterday, very limited time to cook dinner.  Lucky it's summer and I just prepared the easy drunken chicken with some steamed rice.

Drunken chicken is usually eaten cold.  I found a bottle of marinate sauce in the Asian grocery shop and decided to try out, it's a mixture of shaoxin wine, mirim, sugar, salt, and five spice, I think.

The first time I used the bottled sauce, but it's rather nice.

For the chicken, we normally use small sized chicken in this type of cooking, around 1.2 kgs.

Bring a pot full of water, add a knob of ginger, 2 sprigs of coriander, a piece of lemon grass and a clove of garlic and some salt.

Once the water is boiling, add the cleaned chicken (no need to stuff it) and boil it for 15 minutes on medium high heat, switch off and let the chicken soak in boiling broth for a further 15 minutes, take it out and put immediately into the fridge (not the freezer) to cool.

Once totally cooled (after an hour or so), take it out and cut into big chunks (quarters), and add marinate sauce, a bit of white pepper, and some goji berries.

Leave it over night or longer in the fridge, and then cut into serving pieces.  Serve cold with steamed rice and steamed veggies.

Monday, February 7, 2011

No Knead Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf

It was a rough weekend last weekend, not only because of the storm and flood in Melbourne - Thank God, we are safe from the floods, but some of our friends are not so lucky - but mainly due to the medical reports hubby brought home Friday night.

The report wasn't pretty, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and possible diabetes.  So, the quick plan is ditch the plan of making more macarons (there's no cholesterol, I think, but enough sugar for diabetic fear), and start making some wholemeal bread....

I have read some fellow blogists writing about No Knead Bread.  Without thinking straight, I have been throwing things together and made a semi sourdough wholemeal "No Knead" loaf.

I didn't measure, so it's just approx....

500g flour, roughly, about half all purpose and half wholemeal.
120g sourdough starter - 100% hydrate.
1.5 tbsp salt
400g water
1/4 tsp yeast

It's a very wet and sticky dough, and I just left it there in a lightly greased container to proof... I was specitical about it and didn't think it would've worked.  I had to make a smaller white loaf for the children's lunches anyway, so I thought, it doesn't matter...  I wasn't thinking much about the loaves, I haven't been making a lot of bread since the holidays, and the news about hubby's health just alarmed me that no more excuses to slack off and use shop bought items!

The result was pretty good, takes a longer time to bake, I did set the loaf in greased and lined loaf tin instead of just the loaf tin as I normally would and baked the bread in different stages, lower heat and higher heat with the white loaf...

I guess I might make them again, very minimum amount of work and a healthy cholesterol free loaf. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Non-bake Double Chocolate Espresso Tart

I'm not in favour of cooking or baking in hot days, for some reason, maybe I'm getting too old, I don't survive well in the kitchen when it's over 30C.

So there was a quite a bit of hesitation when the team decided on a morning tea today, for Chinese New Year....

Was hot last night, so I decided on something simple and easy, and doesn't require baking...

Tart Shell:
250g chocolate ripple biscuit (or any chocolate cookies)
120g butter.

4 egg yolks
70g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
6 table spoons of sugar
3 tea spoons of gelatine
3 table spoons of boiling water
2 teaspoon of good instant espresso coffee
1 table spoon Kahlua

It's easy, melt the butter, crush the biscuits, press and fill up the sides and bottom of a lined 20cms springform pan.

The filling, there was a mistake, not fatal, but I meant to make bavarois like this one, but with an espresso twist, however, I forgot about the cream (even though I had it in the fridge!) and I can't really call it bavarois...

The verdict, it's a much more dense cake than the Joconde Imprime I made with the proper bavarois.... but it's easier to set in a tart shell.

It's a very easy tart, very minimal amount of cooking needed, although it needed to be made at least 2-3 hours ahead, still... great for summer hot days when you don't want to stay in the kitchen.