Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wraps for lunch

Recently, I bought some frozen soft thin bread from one of my favourite store, Ikea.

I don't usually buy food stuff from Ikea, even though I quite enjoy eating there. But I thought the soft thin bread was thin enough, and if I made pizza, I didn't have to make my own pizza base.

Inspired by Petunialee, I ended up making some wraps with them.

I made 2 kinds of wraps for lunch today, Otak with Cheese and Rosemary Chicken with Basil Sauce.

For Otak with Cheese

2 pcs Otak
Half a Tomato
Shreds of Mozarrella Cheese

For Rosemary Chicken with Basil Sauce
Roast Chicken (Or whatever chicken you have left-over is fine)
A pinch of chopped fresh rosemary
Half a Tomato
A generous helping of Pesto Sauce

(Side note: I made my pesto sauce with fresh basil leaves, grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, a little garlic and olive oil. I blended all these together and then add pepper and salt to taste. I usually use them in pasta. Jamie Oliver's blog has the detailed recipe for pesto sauce - he suggests adding lemon juice which I think should be great. Will try that next time! You can always freeze any unused pesto sauce so I find it even more convenient than canned pasta sauce.

BTW, this is the first time I'm using pesto sauce in something other than pasta. They really dressed up my wrap though, I must say.)

What I did
I just dumped all the ingredients on top of the soft thin bread and sent them into the oven for about 3 - 5 mins at 180 deg C. Did no artistic arrangements and all since it was lunch-time and I was getting hungry.

Is a really quick, easy and delicious lunch.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fun beads

I found some really interesting beads and decided to get them to make some simple accessories.

Here are some pictures for a start. (I really ought to find a way to take good pictures indoors, I think it is my window film that is making all my pictures look a bit gloomy. If anyone knows of good tips for indoor photo-taking, pls kindly share them..)

I like this red apple bead because it has 2 sides to it, a "whole apple" side and a "cross-section" side. Plus it has a couple of shiny crystals on it that make it look quite cute. I made it as part of a necklace and paired it with a red Swarovski heart at the back of the chain to make it look more special. I thought the quality of the snake chain - the finishing and the weight - was really good too.

I also bought a milk bottle bead, 2 handbag beads and 2 baby pram beads from the same series.

This antique car bead is very cute too. I've always liked 3 dimensional beads. And "antique-look" beads. Since I've got quite a few of them, I used 2 and made them into a pair of dangling earrings. I paired them each with a tiny pearl bead to give a quainter look.

I bought loads of antique beads along with these. Too many to even list here. Will slowly but surely start to make more of these..

Chocolatey Butter Cake

This cake is making me a believer in The Cake Bible.

It is chocolatey, moist and soft... and makes eating one just not enough.

That said, there are things I can improve on the next time around. Firstly, adjusting my oven temperature so I don't get the big ugly crack on my cake. Secondly, a little more butter would be nice (I really should follow the recipe for that, but I didn't have enough butter today...) Thirdly, I should really try to use cake flour instead of plain flour. And lastly, making some brandied cherries to go with the cake would make the cake really fantastic.

Here's what I did today. Today, I weighed everything instead of using cups and spoons to measure.

63 g (1/2 cup + 3 tbsp) Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa (Hersheys)
236g Boiling water
3 Large eggs
9g (2 and 1/4 tsp) Vanilla
235g (2 and 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) Sifted plain flour - I didn't have cake flour, which the book reccomended, supposed to give it a finer flavour. I thought plain flour was ok.
15g (1 tbsp) Baking Powder
5g (3/4 tbsp) Salt
300g Sugar
200g Softened Unsalted Butter - Recipe reccomended 237g, or 1 cup.

What I did
(Note: I used only 3 bowls, a whisk and a spoon, to minimise washing up, as always.. And since I didn't have a mixer, I did it all by hand. If you use a mixer, beat at medium speed, or high speed if using a hand-held mixture)
1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and mix well
2. Combine the cocoa and boiling water in a medium bowl and whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow it to cool to room temperature
3. Combine eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture and vanilla in another medium bowl, beat well
4. Add butter to the dry ingredients in large bowl (from step 1) and beat well. Add remaining cocoa mixture (from step 2) and beat well
4. Add the egg mixture to the large bowl into 3 batches, mixing well after each addition

Bake in 2 9-inch cake pans, greased and lined with parchment paper at the bottom, greased and lightly floured.

Being lazy and having all those aluminium disposable pans, I used those.

Bake in preheated oven at 170 deg Celcius for 25 - 35 minutes.

This picture of a tiny piece of the cake doesn't really it justice, since you can see how moist and soft it is, but here it is anyway..

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blocked from my own blog

I just came back to Singapore on Saturday (almost Sunday actually, since I arrived just before mid-night).

This trip to Beijing, I found out that I was not able to access my blog... or any other blogspot websites.. Nor was I able to access the GCS forum.

Hmph... It's probably due to heightened security in Beijing in June due to June 4 related activities.

Nonetheless, is nice to be able to blog again.

Each trip to Beijing is always packed with visits to my favourite restaurants and also trips to new ones. This trip, I went to the new Park Hyatt near Jian Wai SOHO - great view at the Level 63 bar and really really nice decor at the Level 6 bar. The Japanese restaurant at the basement is great too.

Too much good food and drinks means a lot more exercising is required now that I'm back..

Monday, June 1, 2009

Double Vanilla Pound Cake

The Husband got me the Cake Bible a couple of weeks back.

After I attended the bread making course, the teacher recommended the Bread Bible and Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I thought I should give bread baking a rest for now, since I have not gotten an electric mixer (can't decide which one to get) and kneading by hand is really quite tiring.

So. I opted for the Cake Bible instead.. and so The Husband got it for me.

I have been meaning to start baking... but of course, as usual, things cropped up here and there... I forgot to get milk from the supermarket and blah blah blah.

I finally managed to try out the double vanilla pound cake recipe today, except lazy me used self-raising flour instead of the "Cake Flour plus baking powder and salt" recommended by Rose.
Using cake flour and baking powder is supposed to make the cake even finer.

But the end result is pretty good. It was really melt in your mouth. And I am so glad I used real vanilla. Cos it really gave the cake a heavenly scent and the little pods adds a teeny weeny bit of "crunchiness" to the cake. (You can feel the little tiny bits of vanilla beans as you eat the cake!) Plus the cake

The Husband had 2 slices... so I figured, that means it really is quite okay.

Next time, I'd try it with the cake flour mixture.

Here's the recipe I used.

3 tbsp of milk
3 large eggs
1 tsp of vanilla (Original recipe says 1.5 tsp)
1 vanilla bean (I scrapped out the beans and threw the pod into my sugar so that I can have vanilla sugar.)
1.5 cups self-raising flour plus a pinch of salt (or 1.5 cup cake flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt)
3/4 cup sugar
164 grams softened unsalted butter

What I did
1. Scald the milk in a small saucepan. (til you see tiny bubbles in the milk)
2. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrap the grains into the milk (The recipe says to also throw the bean into the milk but I didn't do that since I didn't want a mess.)
3. Let the milk cool to room temperature
4. Mix the eggs, vanilla-infused milk and vanilla extract
5. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
6. Pour half the egg mixture into the large bowl (dry ingredients) and mix well (for about 3 minutes for me, beating by hand - book says 1 minute on medium speed)
7. Pour half of the remaining egg mixture into the large bowl and beat well (for about 1 minute by hand - book says 20 seconds)
8. Pour the rest of the egg mixture into the bowl and beat well (again, for about another 1 minute by hand - book says 20 seconds)
9. Scrape down sides
10. Pour batter into a disposable aluminium pan (book says greased and floured pan)
11. Bake in a preheated oven at 177 deg C for 55 to 65 minutes, till cake is cooked. I covered the cake with an aluminium foil after 30 minutes to prevent over-browning, removing the foil just 5 minutes before I took it out.
12. Cook on rack for at least 10 minutes before cutting

Actually, the book is a lot more detailed - even tells you the type of pan to use, so it is really quite fool-proof (Very good for me).

Most of the recipes (esp those not in basic cake section) looks too complex.. but I suppose I will try them one day when I'm in a "feeling very detailed" kind of mood.