August 27, 2006

baguettes

French Women Don't Get Fat--Mireille Guiliano
"No yoga exercise, no meditation in a chapel filled with music rid you of your blues better than the humble task of making your own bread".

And these baguettes are very easy to make.

Baguettes
by Mireille Guiliano: French Women Don't Get Fat

1 tsp active dry yeast
400-500ml warm water (water quantities vary when baking)
550g unsifted strong white flour
2 tsps sea salt
1 egg, beaten and mixed with 1 Tbs cold water

In a small bowl dissolve yeast in 100ml warm water, using a fork. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Combine flour and salt. Add yeast mixture, stir in remaining 300ml water, a bit at a time. Mix until sticky enough to knead. You may need more water. Knead for 6 to 10 minutes; dough should be sticky and smooth. Put in a bowl, cover with a damp tea cloth, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Punch down dough and divide into 4 pieces. Roll each into a ball and then pull out shape into a baguette. Transfer to slightly greased baking sheet and let rise until nearly doubled. Brush with egg-mixture. Score diagonally across the top with a sharp knife.
Pour 500ml hot water in a pan and place in preheated gas mark 8/230C oven next to the baguettes for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to gas mark 6/200C and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool on a rack before slicing.

Serves 4.

Along with it, I made pumpkin soup as we had had a very good crop from the garden last Summer.

Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4

3 cups cooked pumpkin
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
a sprig of parsley, finely chopped, to sprinkle
1 Tbs cooking oil

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the chopped onion and garlic. Sautee until the onion is clear and the mixture is fragrant. Set aside. Put the cooked pumpkin, onion and garlic, and a little bit of chicken stock into a food processor. Blend them until very smooth. Bring the mixture to the saucepan, and add more stock. If it's too thick, add more stock or water. Bring the soup to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Season well. Remove and pour the soup into each serving bowl. Drop a dash of cream and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Enjoy.

August 10, 2006

pot pies

I think it's a good idea to bake pies in pots. When I read the latest issue on Donna Hay Magazine about pot pies, I told myself I've got to give myself a good try on this. I just love the idea to scoop out the pie filling out of individual serving pot.

The filling I chose to make is my own recipe as I know what my hubby likes and dislike and if one recipe is way too rich for them. I remember one time, my aunty Dorris invited us for lunch and she made this Shepherd's kind-of pie. She grated a good amount of carrots and small diced of beef tasted really delicious. I thought it would be pretty good if I just would do my fillin glike that, which I did. I put peas in my beef filling as well. I like to see brown, orange, and green color in my cooking. It looks pretty.



I found ramekins my hubby made a few years ago (even when we had not met yet) and they were beautifully-made I could tell. He was a good potter at his years (I wished I had been there watching him pedalling the wheel).

And about the pastry, you can call me a decorating-crazy-to-put-on-the-list, but I really was keen on decorate the pastry of each pot. It was fun.



Do try to use your own imagination. It's fun to create something you enjoy and to be enjoyed by the rest of your family. It's about warming up the Winter Nights.


Beef Potpies
Inspired by Donna Hay Magazine
Original recipe is mine.

Good pastry, homemade or 2 sheets of ready-made (put one sheet on to another)

500g beef fillet
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup diced mushroom
1 cup peas
2 cups diced carrot
1 cup diced potato
3 tomatoes, diced
1 Tbs tomato paste
Wochester sauce
garlic salt
white sugar
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 cups good beef stock
1 Tbs olive oil

Heat the oil on a frying pan, sautee chopped onion and garlic until the onion become translucent and fragrant. Add in diced mushroom and beef until beef are brown. Transfer to a casserole dish, and put the rest of the ingredients in the pot and bake for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the pastry, cut into four equal parts. Transfer the pie filling into the pots (I would wait until the filling is quite cool, so the steam won't wet the pastry). Put the pastry on each pot to cover the filling, and with a sharp knife, cut around the mouth of the pots, decorate as you wish and brush them with eggwash (one egg yolk and 1 tsp milk).

Bake at 210C at on a preheated oven for 20 mintues or until the pastry turn golden brown and puffed up. Serve warm.

August 07, 2006

me and chocolates

I love chocolate. Probably you can call me a chocolic or cocoalic, whatever. I just love the taste of good chocolate lingers on my palate even it was eaten even a quarter of hour ago.

Most cakes I've made is chocolate cakes, either for light afternoon tea to elegant desserts. I also often make chocolate truffles as after-dinner coffee when we have a grand dinner. I made 200 truffles for Christmas last year, and I don't know if everyone will miss them after I've served big balls of truffles to enjoy last birthday dinner.


I've been developing to love David Herbert's The Perfect Cookbook. It's not easy to find a good cookbook which works every time. I find that any recipe in his book is easy to follow and uses simple ingredients. I love his fudgy chocolate cake (p.40.). It's rich with a hint of nuts.

Yesterday, I desired to modify his recipe to something more spongy than fudgy. The result is not too sweet, not too rich, for me it is just right. Omitting the use of nuts helping the sponge rises high. I ice the cake with coffee icing.

Mocha Chocolate Cake
Original recipe: Chocolate Cake (p.40) by David Herbert: the perfect cookbook
Modified by me.

225g dark cooking chocolate
250g unslated butter
1 1/2 tsp coffee powder
10 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup Self-Rising Flour
20g cocoa powder
20g cornflour

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 22cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Melt the butter, chocolate and coffee powder in a heavybased saucepan, stir until smooth. Set aside to cool. Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and thick. Pour 3/4 of the chocolate mixture gradually in thin stream until all mixed well into the egg batter, reserve the rest of chocolate mixture for icing. Fold in the sifted flours and cocoa powder carefully, mix well. Pour into the cake in and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Icing:
1/4 portion of the reserved coffee-chocolate mixture
3 Tbs icing sugar
hot water

Beat all together until well blended and add hot water little by little until the mixture is fluffy with thinner consistency. Spread all over the cake.