June 29, 2006

a safe journey

Yes, it's gluten free, and yes it's moist. It's just like the other cakes I bake with gluten-flour.

My son's used to have eczema when he was a baby, and it's gradually been clearing up as he's growing. We still keep gluten-free baking mix in our pantry. It's a lot safer, either for me who's producing, or him who's consuming the goodies from the kitchen. We've used Healtheries Baking Mix for baking and making gluten-free pancakes since we discovered his allergic to wheat and dairy products four years ago.

I notice they've improved the recipes in the package as well. I always follow their carrot cake and chocolate cake recipes for birthday or other occasions that will gather all the family, as my sister-in-law is a Coeliac herself. It is really safe to bake something out of the gluten-free package. It's alright for the rest of us, and it's good for those who are suffered from food intolerance diseases and are food allergens.

I use the Moist Chocolate Cake recipe from the package, and I cut the cake into three layers, each layer is sandwiched with marmalade and ganache. Then, when I saw there's a little bit of ganache left, I decided to make chocolate buttercream and decorated a bit here, a bit there. Just a simple one, nothing to show off, really. I want to sit back and enjoy each layer. And I thought it would do well if I added nuts for crunchy bites. I call it Chocolate Cake Layered with Ganache and Marmalade.

Moist Chocolate Cake
Source: Healtheries Wheat & Gluten Free Simple Baking Mix

1 3/4 cups Healtheries Simple Baking Mix
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup water
1 1/2 tbs vinegar

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a 23cm cake tin (6 cm deep) with baking paper and grease well. Mix all wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Mix all dry ingredients in a second bowl and stir to combine. Combine wet and dry ingredients and beat for several minutes with an electric mixer to give a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake at 160C for about 1 1/2 hours. The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cake tin and peel away paper.

layered of delights

Is there any 'baking blues'? Really?

I've got no answers, for what I know that I have no interest in baking lately. Eventhough I try, the results are not satisfying.

But this one has got nothing to do with baking. This is not a cake. This is a layer of pancakes. And you don't bake pancakes, do you? Not bad for someone who's not interested in doing any baking today.

blue, baby i'm blue
'cos you've been untrue...

Nah, nothing to do with Gerard Joling, either. Anyone knows if he's still singing? I used to love to listen to his songs, a looooooong time ago.

Here we go.

blue... baby, i'm blueeeee...

Chocolate Pancakes Layered Cake

180g flour
20g cocoa powder
400ml fresh milk

Mix all the ingredients except butter, whisk until smooth. Wipe the frying pan or pancakes pan with butter, then drop a small amount of butter, swirl it. Drop 2 tablespoons of the batter on the pan, and swirl it to get a nice and even layer of pancakes. Flip over to cook the other side. Set aside.
Prepare a cake tin, cover with plastic wrap, then stack the pancakes one by one, sandwiched with chocolate custard.

I use my favorite chocolate custard to sandwich the pancakes. Use your favorite custard recipe and stack the pancakes in a cake tin, sandwich with the custad each layer. I use chopped dark cooking chocolates to accentuate the taste.

Either way, you can make usual batter without cocoa powder, but increase the flour to 20g. Sandwich the pancakes with lemon curd. It's delicious, I tell you.

June 18, 2006

full of chocolates

call me a chocolic or cocoalic (if there is a term of it), but i DO love hot chocolates. i just love the taste of them, the taste of chocolate either using cocoa or blocks of dark cooking chocolate (which i think is mostly satisfying than the drinking powder kind), mixed with simply a cup of full cream milk...oh, heavenly paradise! i discovered some recipes of superb hot chocolates. one of them is from David Herbert' "The Perfect Cookbook" hot chocolate for two. i also love Lois Daish's food column about choc full i read once in the Listener, especially when i tasted her Spanish Hot Chocolate that she found in Linda Collister's "Heavenly Chocolate".

i agree with Herbert that 'the perfect hot chocolate isn't made from powder spooned from a tin, it's made using real chocolate.' (p. 81)

Hot Chocolate
Source: The Perfect Cookbook

2 cups milk
100g dark chocolate, chopped
sugar, to taste (I omit)

Gently heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the chocolate and stir occasionally, until melted and smooth. Bring the mixture to just under boiling point and whisk briskly for a couple of minutes to make it frothy. Taste for sweetness and stir in a little sugar if needed. Pour the hot chocolate into cups and serve immediately.

tips from Herbert: for an extra treat, add marshmallows to the cup before pouring over the hot chocolate. Or try topping a dollop of lightly whipped cream and sprinkling with a little coarsely grayed chocolate. For extra richness, use couverture chocolate, which has a high cocoa butter content and melts beautifully.

the recipe that i often use to satisfy my craving for hot chocolate is the spanish version. i find it can boost my energy up a whole day long. mind you, i don't drink it at night, as i have a sleeping problem already, unless i want to keep awake until the sun shines (if we're lucky enough to have in Winter). i love the taste of cinnamon in the mixture of dark cooking chocolate and espresso. i often nibble the cinnamon stick after i've finished my cup. i can't describe the feeling of it. it's just feeling right to me.

Spanish Hot Chocolate
Source: the Listener
50g dark or cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
1 cup full cream milk
1 Tbs sugar (i don't use)
1 cinnamon stick
1 large cup strong hot black coffee
2 Tbs brandy (optional)
4 curls fresh orange peel

Put the chocolate, milk, sugar, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until smooth and melted. Bring to the boil, whisking, then remove from the heat and whisk in the coffee and optional brandy. Put a curl of orange peel in each of 4 small cups or heatproof glasses and pour in the hot chocolate. Serves 4.

June 16, 2006

for Dad...

I made these baked potatoes when Mum wasn't feeling very well. I thought with creamy potatoe mash and smoked chicken would do a good meal for dinner. I gave a handful of greens on Dad's plate. I like to use Edam rather than Mature Cheddar, as I like it as it's not as salty as Cheddar as well as it's giving stringy texture when it's still hot.

Baked Potatoes
(Here's the Indonesian Version)
10 large potatoes, scrub, and half
500g smoked chicken, diced
3 Tbs Salted Butter
1/4 cup fresh milk
100g Edam, grated
4 bh parsley, chopped
black peppercorns, crushed
1 tomato to garnish
1 sprig parsley to garnish
Grated Edam, extra

brush the potatoes with olive oil, baked in the preheated oven, 180C until cooked and smooth (but not dry). Scoop out the potatoes and mash them with butter, milk, grated cheese, amd chopped parsley and season with crushed black peppercorns. Then, add in the diced smoked chicken. Stuffed the potatoes until you've got a good pile of each one. Garnish with the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with extra grated cheese. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until the cheese melts. Take them out of the oven, garnish with parsley, and serve warm with greens.

June 11, 2006

in a cold winter morning

We just had a phone call from our builder this morning, and it is Sunday! He wanted to go to work as the weather forecast said it will be raining on MOnday and Tuesday, and he won't be able to work outside on those days. So, he said he'd better come today. We said, that's alright. Just come as we won't go anywhere.

And he came. And I was in my kitchen again. Thought I would not be in there for a long time, mind you, I have a heap of autumn leaves to rake up, weeds to pull out, not mention the Summer leftovers to clean up. Nevertheles, I was finally there, though willingly, in the kitchen.

Time to make a decision. My son woke up in the morning and he asked for pancakes. I said I made porridge for breakfast, why don't we make pancakes for morning tea. Sounded good to him, given that he didn't complain.

There are many pancakes recipes in my books and magazines, but through time I always cook gluten-free one for the type of flours in gluten-free baking mix tend to produce heavier but crispier pancakes. This time, I use self-rising flour, instead, as the package wasn't there when we shopped at our favourite supermarket last time.

Anyway, I've found the recipe that I wanted. Though we never stock up ice-cream in the freezer, these pancakes are still delicious topped with heaps of sliced bananas and eaten with drizzle of homemade caramel sauce. Soon, they would fill everyone up.

Pancakes with Bananas & Caramel Sauce
Source: the Foodtown Magazine

1 1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
50g butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten

380g can caramel condensed milk
1/2 cup cream
3 bananas
6 scoops vanilla ice cream

note: for topping, I use 3 Tbs sweetened condensed milk cooked with 1 cup of fresh cream and 3 Tbs of golden syrup. Cook until thick, stirring continuously if you don't want burnt caramel. If you want a thinner consistency, you can add more fresh cream.

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the combined butter, milk, and eggs. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for an hour before cooking.

Heat a frying/crepe pan and wipe with buttered paper. Pour 2 Tbs of batter in the pan and swirl to get an even layer. Cook for a minute and then flip to cook the other side. Stack between paper towels and cover with a cloth to keep warm.

Combine the caramel condensed milk and cream and gently warm. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Serve the pancakes topped with sliced banana, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

June 09, 2006

on a banana leaf...

Do you have a memorable moment in your childhood? I do. On that tray.

I used to love visiting my grandmother. I used to love sitting in the kitchen with her, watching her making snacks from scratch. All of those colorful goodies.

I don't think they are easy to make, but when you have plenty of time, then why not? Indonesian's jajanan pasar (goodies which are usually sold in traditional markets) are usually made from sagoo, tapioca, glutenuous rice flour, or rice flour with palm sugar and folded or cooked in banana leaves. Some of them are eaten with coconut milk cooked with palm sugar and other flavouring as we call it kinca.

I sometimes miss these kind of foods although my grandmother had passed away a long long time ago, as they are kept on my mind and heart as my grandmother is. Forever.

June 06, 2006

real food, real people

I never thought I would finally meet them, the people whom I just met from a yahoogroups, and to whom I regularly write.

Their food were real, and the people are visible, actually were there.

I've been subscribing their mailing list for almost a year, and it seems to me that they are not only subscribers to the same group, but truly are friends in a real life and a real time.

When I got there, the owner of Natural Cooking Club was welcoming with warm smile and friendly hugs. I was definitely home. A home where a society of food lovers stay or live. Probably even when you drop by, you'll still be welcomed.

There were food and there were laughters. There was friendship and there was love. The love of being in the kitchen and producing, the love of trying recipes, the love of learning and sharing, the love of being natural food lovers themselves. It was a rich atmosphere. It was fresh and colorful. It was warmth and genuine.

When you have found real food and real people, what more can you ask?