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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Red Velvet Cake



This is my 2nd attempt of red velvet cake which I could say it was a hit for my kid and to some friends.  In my first attempt, I used beet root to achieve the natural color of red, but didn't turn out red velvet, it looked like a chocolate cake instead.  Hence, my second attempt, I have no choice but to use a food coloring which I believe all red velvet cake is made of.  Tastewise, I prefer the recipe with beet root, I just couldnt get it red without adding some food coloring.

This red velvet cake recipe is from Joyofbaking indeed I have proven it worked well.  The video is really helpful, I would say.  The recipe is here.  For this recipe, I didn't alter anything except that i used less coloring because, I'm horrified by the amount really.  Thanks to Joyofbaking.com for the guide.  For quick reference here is the recipe:


Red Velvet Cake

2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (15 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted
1 1/2 (360 ml) cups cold heavy whipping cream (contains 36-40% butterfat)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter two - 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
Red Velvet Cake: In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside. In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter. Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or overnight). (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)
Cream Cheese Frosting: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Using the whisk attachment, gradually add the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is thick enough to spread. Add more sugar or cream as needed to get the right consistency.
Assemble: With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. You will now have four cake layers. Place one of the cake layers, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving platter. Spread the cake layer with a layer of frosting.  Place another layer of cake on top of the frosting and continue to frost and stack the cake layers. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Can garnish the cake with sweetened or unsweetened coconut. Serves 10-12 people.

Here is the picture of my cake for Juliet's birthday!  



Thursday, November 08, 2012

Roasted Australian Topside


Topside of beef, also know as silverside and top round, is a second-class cut of beef from the top of the hind leg. Topside is a lean, boneless piece of meat best suited for casseroles, stews and roasting. It can be a difficult cut to cook correctly because of its low fat content, and when prepared incorrectly, it tends to be very tough and chewy. Roasting the meat, however, showcases the flavor and creates a tender and juicy piece of beef. By Marie Price, eHow Contributor


I’m always intimidated to cook beef especially the best cuts that are most likely expensive cuts because, I tend to overcook it.  Someone is not happy with a well done beef.

When I saw a nice piece of beef on the rack in Carrefour, I didn’t hesitate to grab one not knowing what to do with it.  Thanks to loads of ideas on the internet, I couldn’t get the perfect ingredients that are mentioned but as usual I have to settle what is in the pantry.  This time, I am proud to say “I did it” in medium rare.  Ohh, the secret? Its in the massage ;-)
Happy that I pleased someone. 

Ingredients:

650 g. Australian Topside beef

 
marinade:
5 Tablespoons   Jack Daniel Barbeque Sauce
1 glass   Merlot wine 
4 cloves garlic
1 onion
pepper



In a zip lock bag, place the piece of topside, add all the marinade ingredients and do a gentle massage onto the meat by squishing gently the bag of goodness.  (Using this method you keep your hands free from the marinade mixture). Chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours, giving it a gentle massage every now and then.

Drain the marinade and put it aside, dry the meat by patting it with a kitchen paper.  Add some more freshly ground pepper. Pat it again so the pepper would stick to the meat. Drop some few drops of olive oil and gently massage it into the meat. 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees C. at the same time, preheat a pan (with heavy bottom) over the stove until it becomes very hot.  Remembering not to oil the pan, but oil the meat. Once heated, gently place the beef in wait for at least 3 minutes on each side to brown the outside of the beef before turning it to another side, until all the sides have browned.  At this stage, you can feel that the meat is still juicy on the inside, but browned outside.

Place it on a roasting rack. Here, i put on cooling rack and place it over a pan of potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic.  Roast for 2 hours at 250 degrees C.  After 2 hours, let the meat rest for 5minutes before cutting for serving.  Serve immediately while still warm.  The roasting time should give enough time to prep the table, so just put the cutting board on the table so it will be on the plate right away, ready for the hungry carnivores. ;-) 

To prepare the gravy, on the same pan used with the beef, add the marinade and let it simmer .  Ad a cube of beef broth until it becomes a little bit sticky like a gravy consistency. Drain with a sift and discard the residue. Serve gravy warm with the beef. 



 This how it should look to achieve tenderness..  pink and juicy inside. Serve it with the potatoes.





Saturday, August 04, 2012

Flat Bread



This flat bread is a 5 star for my daughter..  I wish I could acknowledge that Chinese Chef I saw on tv way back before my daughter was even conceived.  I remember his face but couldn't remember his name.  He used this flat bread  recipe  for a peking duck recipe he once showed in one of his shows. You bet I owe a thank you to that chef, so I might come back to put his name here for acknowledgment  if I catch him again.
Well, this is very simple easy to do flat bread.  Now, i can do it in less than 30 minutes. Fresh flat bread would be served on the table.

Normally I do it with eyes half closed, I meant i don't measure anymore, just estimate the amount but for the purpose of posting it here, I did measure this time. :-) and took a step by step photos for a guide.
Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 warm water

In a mixing bowl add flour and salt, make a well at the center and add olive oil and sesame oil.  Gradually add the warm water while mixing the mixture (use the tip of a wooden spoon, or tip of the fork to mix) until it forms small lumps, continue adding water whilst mixing until the flour gathers together and form bigger lumps.  Gather all the lumps to form a dough.  On a flat working surface, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.  Form into a log and cut into pieces.  Form each peace into a ball.  Flatten it with the palm of your hands and then flatten it further using a rolling pin until it becomes thin.  Make it as thin as possible.  Sprinkle some flour if needed so it wont stick to the surface or to the rolling pin.  Preheat a flat pan,  and place the flattened dough. Cook in high heat until the surface starts to rise like bubbles. Flip it over to cook the other side.  Use a flat turner to do this, and if you are tempted to flatten the bubbly surface, go ahead.   Once there are black spots visible, the bread is done!

Make a well in center and add olive oil and sesame oil

gradually add warm water while mixing, it will start to form small lumps 

flour starts to form larger lumps

After adding the water, gather the lumps around the and knead like a dough

Place the dough on a smooth and lightly floured surface

Form into a log

cut into pieces

form into small balls

flour the surface and the rolling pin
flatten it using the palm of the hands

Flatten the dough using a rolling pin

Cook it on a flat pan

It will rise like bubbles

Flip it over 

ready to eat..


The bread is good as it is, use it as wrap or stuff it with goodness inside.

Some of the variations below:

stuffing it with thin cheese

add ham 

wrap it like an envelope

in the pan it goes

waiting time won't be that long :-)







Fish in a parcel



Opened, ready to eat
Serving Suggestion - Serve it piping hot from the oven straight to the plate.

This is one of my my favorite influences of "The Naked Chef" Jamie Oliver.  I like the way he does things in a quick and easy way with full of flavors.. lots of goodness!!!  This recipe has never failed me by far. Preparation can be done in advance, it gives time to prepare other goodness for the dining table and just pop it in the oven when everything is ready. 

There's nothing more surprising than opening a main course just like opening a present and the aroma just meets you straight away with steaming goodness. 

Here's a guide: there is nothing precise on the portion of the ingredients as long everything can fit and wrapped securely without any leak.  The ingredients is up to your liking as well. Others can be skipped or maybe substituted.  Keeping in mind the balance of its acidity of lemon and portion of butter/olive oil.  Lemon can be overpowering but it is necessary.


Ingredients: 
Fish fillet
peeled garlic 
chopped onions
chopped leeks
chopped spring onions
red capsicum
butter
lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper
Cut a portion of  baking paper (about 1 foot long) and lay it flat on a plate.  Place the fish fillet in the center and season with salt and pepper;  add onions, garlic, leeks, spring onions, capsicum on top of the fish add a knob of butter on top, squeeze a lemon and drizzle a little olive oil.  


Fold the ends lengthwise first, pressing the crease each fold and secure the sides.
To wrap everything, fold the baking paper lengthwise, make a crease each time by pressing it with your fingers, (make 3-4 folds), then secure the ends by creasing crosswise, making the last fold facing down.
Secure the ends by folding the ends, press the crease each fold

Lay it flat in a baking dish with the crease on the top side.
Bake for 30 minutes in the oven..  Make it the last thing you put on the plate so that it remains warm upon serving.

Just perfect for a weekend lunch.


BTW, I had posted one with a different variation long time back: fish in a parcel


Monday, June 25, 2012

Spaghetti with Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

click picture to enlarge

Spaghetti with Chicken in Mushroom sauce

My 4 year old daughter loves mushroom sauce and sometimes she prefers pasta over rice, so this is a product of her taste, trying to incorporate some vegetables in it and at the same time, the mother tries to avoid rich creamy sauce for some obvious reasons (i.e. she’s deliciously creamy enough!).  Seriously, for this recipe,  I skipped adding cream, as I used to, instead I boosted the amount of garlic and pepper to have some contrasting flavors of the earthy mushrooms, hence, it is still yummy less the extra calories.  But I found another way to make it tastier by using low fat milk loaded with garlic, will tackle that in another post with that picture.

Meantime, for reference, here it is.

Ingredients:

250 g. chicken breast, thinly sliced
300 g. button mushrooms, sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bulb of white onion
1 red capsicum/bell pepper
1 green capsicum/bell pepper
1 cube of chicken broth dissolved in 1 ½ C. warm water
olive oil to stir fry
1 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. water
Freshly ground pepper
Salt

250 g. spaghetti – Prepared as per packet instructions.

Brown mushrooms in a heavy sauce pan with a dash of olive oil, set aside.  Sauté onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant, add chicken, add browned mushrooms, add warm water with chicken broth, and season with freshly ground pepper.  Bring to boil. While boiling, add cornstarch mixture gradually until the sauce thickens.  Add cooked spaghetti and mix.  Now add cheese and serve while it is still warm.

Note: As this has been a family favorite, a different variations has been developed, skipping the amount of water in the recipe.
1.     Add cooking cream to thicken the sauce and add 1 clove of garlic (grated)
2.     Alternative to the cream, 1 ½ C of low fat milk and 1 clove of garlic (grated)

It is also worth noting that while cooking the sauce, prepare the pasta at the same time so when the sauce is ready, mix the pasta straight away while it is still hot. It takes a skill to do it but once you’ll get the hang of it, it’s gonna be easy. Timing is essential.



Saturday, February 11, 2012

CONCHIGLIONI WITH SAUTEED SHRIMPS AND MUSHROOMS

CONCHIGLIONI WITH SAUTEED SHRIMPS AND MUSHROOMS

Conchiglioni - a variety of pasta shaped like a conch shell.
CONCHIGLIONI is a variety of pasta that is shaped like conch shell.  It is large and suitable for stuffing, but I love breaking rules, so I didn't stuff it. That is because, this wasn't planned and I just cook free-flowing of ideas as to what is available in my pantry.  There was no recipe to follow, so I did the best of what I could and quite pleased that it worked what i imagined it would be. creamy with mushrooms and shrimps.

I like the mushrooms and sauce being cupped inside the pasta with the shrimps peeking out.

Ingredients:

pan roasting the mushroom brings back
its earthy flavor.
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 can button mushrooms (sliced)
1 white onion (finely chopped)
250 ml all purpose cream
1 cup milk
500 g Conchiglioni
2 Tablespoons corn oil
grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al-dente and set aside.


sauté mushrooms, shrimps, garlic
and onion together

Preheat a sauce pan and put  few drops of oil, pan roast the mushrooms until they turn brown and some are slightly blistered, add the shrimps until they turn orange. Add chopped garlic and onions, add a little oil and sauté together for a few minutes. Add the cream and milk stirring occasionally until it reduces a little bit like a thin cream consistency, season with salt and pepper, add the pasta and mix them slowly taking care not to break the conchiglioni.  Continue cooking over a low fire until the pasta has absorbed the sauce and its flavor.  Add cheese and serve.



Monday, October 03, 2011

No Bake Cheesecake



Digestive Biscuit Crust:  
Crush the Digestive biscuit until it turns into fine crumbs. Mix together the biscuit crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a well greased 8-9 inch (20-23 cm) spring form pan with removable bottom. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and about one inch (2.5 cm) up the sides of the pan.) Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill while making the filling.
Cheesecake Filling:  In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract. 
In a chilled bowl beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Gradually fold or beat the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Pour the filling over the chilled biscuit crust and smooth the top. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about an hour or even over night.
Serves 6 - 8 people.
Digestive Biscuit Crust:
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) crushed digestive biscuits
2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated white sugar 
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, melted
Cream Cheese Filling:
One 8-ounce (200 grams) Cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (200 ml) heavy whipping cream




Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lasagna

Lasagna

Lasagna is not a dish; its a way of life! - GARFIELD     :-)
Finally nailed it down. Lasagna with a firm 6 layers of goodness. The trick is not so liquidy meat sauce and used a scraper to spread the layers of meat sauce and béchamel sauce. Best of all I used homemade fresh pasta.

Ingredients:
fresh pasta
meat sauce
bechamel sauce
cheese

Fresh Pasta
300 g. flour
3 eggs

Place the flour on a flat working surface, make a well at the center and add 3 eggs. Mix the eggs with a fork and slowly incorporate the flour with the eggs until mixture forms a dough. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a log and cut every 2 inch. Shape each cut into another log and flatten with a rolling pin as thin as you can dusting with flour when necessary. Note that working with a smaller portion at a time is easier than making a bigger one. (just a personal point of view)  Cut the pasta into desired shape. (spaghetti, tagliatelle, lasagna etc.)


Meat Sauce
1/2  kg. ground beef
1 onion (finely chopped)
4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 tsp rosemary (dried)
1 tsp thyme (dried)
1 tsp. basil (dried)
1 can tomato sauce (250 g)
4 tsp. tomato paste
salt and pepper

Sautee garlic and onion until translucent. Add rosemary, thyme and basil, add meat. Stir occasionally and let it simmer until the liquid has evaporated, add tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper, add tomato paste. simmer for another 2 minutes.  The sauce must not be liquidy, it must be a little thicker like a paste.

Bechamel Sauce
3 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons butter
salt to taste

Peel garlic and crush it at the back of a knife  until it becomes a paste and add it to the milk, season with salt. Melt butter in a saucepan in low heat, add flour and mix it with a wooden spoon until it forms a paste, add milk and mix vigorously until it thickens.

To assemble the lasagna:

Preheat oven at 350 C.
In a rectangular pan, place pasta sheet, add a thin layer of meat sauce, béchamel sauce and cheese. Repeat the layers until the pan is full; ending with cheese on top. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees C.


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