February 23, 2010

Preserving Time

We are quite disappointed with our present condition of homegrown stonefruits. We haven't really got a great enjoyment of our nectarines, peaches, let alone peacherines (the cross between peach and nectarine). Brown rot is our biggest enemy these days. With the temperature rises and humidity is getting higher, fungus on ripening fruits are spreading rapidly from only a tiny brown spot. We've done all we can. We mixed all the natural remedy for these fungi to stop spreading, nothing really works.

One sample on the photo on the left here can describe how disappointed we are. We love nectarines and we haven't really got to enjoy every one of them, at all. This year is really bad. With hopes so heap in Spring when all the blooms were so pretty and healthy, bees pollinating them freely, to the time when they were fat young fruits. By the end of Spring, we highly likely were given hope that we would enjoy them in Summer eventually, given how healthy they were.

When birds have started to smell the ripen ones, we watched them closely. Strolling in the orchard every morning and any time of the day would help controlling and finding out what's going on there. It gives us hope that we surely are going to pick healthy nectarines. Until we spotted that ugly fungus emerged from some where, we know that we will leave the hope to a disappointment.

In the morning when we sprayed, we're hoping that they would stay untouched by brown rot. I guess, we just hoped in vain. We could just stare at the many of them sadly rotten on trees the next day. 

Sad things happen, really, given how hard we keep and look after these trees. It's really, really disappointing year.

Same thing happens to our late Summer peaches and peacherines. This time, I don't want to see them fall on the ground caused by the same disease. I picked them early, just when they ripe and still firm to bottle them. Many of them I stewed for our breakfast to accompany homemade muesli and yogurt, or just enjoy them with yogurt for desserts. I rescued the rests in jars, flavoured with vanilla beans, to be enjoyed anytime of the year.

bottling golden queen peaches by ab2010

I made 4 big jars in the morning and another 4 jars in the afternoon. I have a medium saucepan, so I have to work on them slowly. In a week, you can imagine how full my pantry is when I can make 8 jars a day! And there are still more peaches on the trees that are waiting to be picked. And I am not sure if I want to bottle them all. 

golden peaches-preserved by ab2010

I don't really measure things when preserving. I tend to combine and taste, but the thing is, the sweeter the syrup, the longer the fruits will keep. And above all, the freshest fruits are the best to bottled. I choose the ripe and firm peaches rather than soft and juicy, although the later is great stewed for desserts. But, for sure, I use this article as a guideline to preserve fruits. Make sure that when you pick fruits, they are healthy and dry. 

I also preserve fruits by making jams, fruit cheese, and sauces. For fruit cheese, you can see the post here and here

This is my recipe for Damson Plum Sauce.

plum sauce by ab2010

5kg Damson plum, poached and stone removed
brown sugar, measured half the pulp (or if you want sweeter version of sauce, add more)
white sugar
malt vinegar (I don't use much of it)
5-8 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
freshly cracked black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer. Cook until the sauce is thicken. Taste, add more spices if you need more flavour. Store in sterilized clean and hot jars. Sealed. I keep mine in a darkest place of pantry or cupboard. My sauce will keep till next Summer, unless we're using it a lot within a year :)

And here is my recipe for Plum Jam. I am using Black Dorris-Billington and Damson plums. Black Dorris-Billington is not as tart as Damson, therefore, I don't use much sugar for it, but I do a lot for Damson plums. I do not use any pectin or pectin sugar for jam, because these kind of plums have lots of pectin in them already.

5kg plum 
white sugar, measured double the pulp for Damson (more if you want sweeter)
whole cloves, to flavour
1/2 cup water

Sterilized jars in the preheated oven to 120C, for 15-30 minutes. Make sure the jars are clean and dry. I usually boil the lids as well and only removed and dried them to seal. Put all the plums in a large saucepan, pour in the water. Bring to boil in a low heat. I stir while boiling to prevent any catch on the bottom. When the plums are tender, put them through a colander into a big bowl. Mashed to remove the stones. Discard the whole cloves, stones and skin. Measure the pulp and return it to the saucepan. Add white sugar to the equal measure of pulp or double. Stir while heating up to dissolved the sugar. Bring to a rapid boil, cook until reaching the jam setting point (if you drop a teaspoonful of mixture on a saucer, you'll find out it will not become runny if you run your finger through it). Remove the jars from the oven with safety kitchen gloves or tongs. Pour the jam into the jars immediately and sealed. I just allow them to cool before storing them in my pantry.

February 13, 2010

English Muffins

Homemade English muffins taste so much fresher and better than bought ones, I can assure you. If you have much time to spend early in the morning, you may want to try out Sourdough English Muffins that I posted a long time ago, adapted recipe from King Arthur's cookbook. They look so good you cannot believe how lovely the flavour are, especially when they are toasted, dabbed with good butter and homemade jam. Nothing can beat home-mades!

Here's the photo I took for Sourdough English Muffins:

sourdough english muffins

Being a mum of two home-schoolers, I rise early in the morning (well, I deserve to wake up late on weekends, don't you think?) to get everything ready, especially breakfast. No, we're not kind of people who just love cereals and milk, but we do appreciate fruit salad with homemade yogurt, pancakes with fruits or banana caramel, porridge in Winter, or English muffins on our early plate of the day.

Perhaps, the fresh air of countryside that bring us to enjoy fresh food more, perhaps it's just me who spoils my family. Hey, I've got nothing to lose. Family is everything. Why feed them with junk food or anything you can snap from dairy shops and pour stuffs from cans or boxes while you can spare your time folding flour, eggs and milk for pancakes? After all, when they are healthy, we are happy too :)

lovely flavour combination of muffins, butter, and homemade plum jam

With time is so demanding these days, I still make English muffins, using commercial yeast rather than sourdough starter. I usually make the dough in the evening and leave it till the morning, so I can still create slightly similar flavour of sourdough and lovely honeycomb texture.

The recipe is very easy, I adapted from Lois Daish article on the NZ Listener when she was a contributer.

the lovely honeycomb texture of english muffins

English Muffins
by Lois Daish. www.listener.co.nz. April 23, 2005. Find English version on the site, by clicking this: English Muffins 


Indonesian version

Ini resep membuat English muffins. Jangan samakan dengan muffin sebagai quick bread, tetapi English muffins lebih cenderung seperti roti. Roti ini khas roti Inggris, dan populer dijadikan sebagai sarapan pagi di banyak keluarga Selandia Baru yang memelihara budaya Inggris. Untuk resep roti muffin Inggris memakai ragi sourdough, silakan klik di sini. Resep di bawah ini lebih cepat dan menggunakan ragi komersial atau ragi kering. Saya sering membuat English muffins sebagai alternatif lain sarapan pagi. Membuat adonannya malam hari, tinggalkan semalaman, esoknya baru diolah lagi. Kami menyantap English muffins bersama mentega dan selai buatan sendiri, baik strawberry, mixed berries, atau plum.

Tekstur yang khas pada English muffins adalah seperti foto di atas, bolong-bolong menyerupai honeycomb. 

2 sdt ragi butiran
1/2 sdt gula 
250ml air hangat
125ml susu hangat
350g tepung terigu protein tinggi
100g tepung terigu protein sedang
1 sdt garam
tepung beras atau tepung jagung halus (cornmeal)

Campur ragi dan gula dalam mangkuk bersisi sebagian dari air hangat. Aduk dan sisihkan selama beberapa menit, lalu tambahkan sisa air dan susu. Masukkan tepung dan garam di mangkuk besar, gunakan tangan untuk mencampur adonan ragi ke dalam adonan tepung ini. Uleni hingga tercampur rata (halus meskipun adonan akan tetap lembek--tapi tidak basah--ab). (Atau gunakan mixer memakai dough hook). 

Tutup mangkuk dengan serbet bersih yang lembab (memakai air hangat--ab) dan biarkan mengembang hingga lebih dari dua kali lipat. Meksipun proses ini hanya memakan waktu beberapa jam, adonan juga bisa disisihkan selama semalaman. Tarik sisi adonan untuk 'membuang gas' atau meratakan adonan kembali. Lalu keluarkan dari mangkuk dan bagi 8 bagian. Letakkan setiap bagian ke atas nampan yang sudah ditaburi tepung beras atau cornmeal, gulingkan hingga betul-betul terlapisi. Bentuk setiap bagian menyerupai disc tebal, setelah semua selesai, tutup nampan/baking tray ini dengan baking tray lainnya (yang ditelungkupkan ke atas nampan tadi, atau tutup saja dengan plastic wrap atau serbet bersih yang lembab--ab). Biarkan selama 20 menit, lalu sisihkan nampan penutup.

Panaskan wajan iron-cast griddle (lihat foto sourdough English muffins di atas, itu jenis iron-cast griddle pan--ab), atau gunakan wajan biasa di atas api kecil. Saat menghangat, mulailah masak muffin bergantian (jika wajannya kecil; di resep disebutkan untuk memasak 4 muffins sekaligus--ab). Masak hingga matang sekitar 10 menit hingga kecoklatan, lalu balikkan dan masak dengan rentang waktu yang serupa.

Ketika matang, muffins bisa dibungkus dulu di dalam serbet dapur yang bersih sambil menunggu yang lain matang. Cara memakannya bisa dengan menarik sisi roti seperti roti sobek, dan juga bisa toasted sebelum disantap dengan mentega dan selai atau lemon curd. 8 muffins.

enjoying english muffins with earl grey green tea

Enak juga loh disantap bareng Earl Grey green tea :)

February 08, 2010

sublime lava

There's no words to describe the best chocolate pudding made from the finest cacao in the world. There's more chocolaty than a sweetness candy for an explosion of lava, flooding in your senses, melting and dancing, brushing your taste buds like an eruption of God's waterfall, flowing graciously in the garden of Eden. Luscious. Dark. Sublime. Wonderful. Heavenly.

I don't know if those words would really describe these lovely gooey puddings.

What, or how will the world be without chocolate? I am not sure, really. Perhaps, we'll stick with jelly beans forever.

valrhona guanaja buttons

I have made molten chocolate pudding, using different recipes, ranged from Donna Hay's, Gordon Ramsay's, and Lynley Allan's, as gorgeous as they are, only quality chocolates make it decent. Valrhona Guanaja is one of the finest chocolates I use occasionally to indulge my senses. 

As expensive as what a finest thing is, it is well-spent if you use it for the best purpose. Molten chocolate pudding seems to be a great choice. I am using a recipe of Lynley Allan, published by the Foodtown Magazine.

Molten Chocolate Pudding by HomeMadeS

Molten Chocolate Puddings
by Lynley Allan. The Foodtown Magazine. June-July 2007.

I adapt this recipe to suit my needs and method of baking.

200g dark chocolate, chopped (I use 250g Valrhona Guanaja 70%)
50g butter, chopped
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour, sifted
1 Tbs cocoa, sifted
dusting of cocoa and cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 6-hole Texas muffin tins with butter and flour them, too. Melt chocolate with butter in a double boiler, set aside. Beat eggs and sugar until pale and thick. Beat in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture. Keep beating until smooth. Fold in sifted flour and cocoa, mix well. Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, and bake for 10 minutes. The pudding should be light to touch and will be soft in the centre. Remove them from the tins as carefully as possible, if you don't want to end up with messy results. Serve them warm, and watch the lovely lava flooding down. Amazingly dark and oh-so-sinful. Enjoy. Makes 6.

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February 01, 2010

Chiffon Rainbow Cake

I have been mad with chiffon cakes lately. It comes from a passionate baker's curiosity within me, I suppose. It's the desire to challenge my skill to another different level. Nothing more to speak out, to be quite sure.

After a success with previous Chocolate Chiffon Cake, I tried out to make Rainbow Chiffon Cake, written by Fatmah Bahalwan, a famous baker and cook of Natural Cooking Club Indonesia in Jakarta. My first attempt was a disaster. The colours were there, but it did not rise high. I had troubles with pastes required in the recipe. I made a few trials and errors to substitute the use of pastes, but I failed. The cake was suffered from receiving too much liquid, the results from adding too much food colouring and essence.

This is my second attempt. I learned my mistakes and tried my best to avoid using too much liquid. I reduced the use of oil and coconut milk to each 60ml only. This way, when I add essence plus food colouring, the cake will be able to stand extra weight of liquid. The cake is still moist and proudly rising and protruding to the sky.

I am not yet satisfied with this. I am not too happy with the crust left on the tin when I removed the cake from it. There must be a way to make the crust staying and enveloped the moist cake.

Rainbow Chiffon Cake by ab2010

Chiffon Rainbow Cake
by Fatmah Bahalwan, NCC

Egg Mixture
In this mixture, the recipe calls only to pour the egg yolks into a well of dry ingredients. I whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar, firsthand, and then mix it to the dry ingredients, oil and coconut milk.

50g caster sugar
20g milk powder
20g cornflour
140g standard flour
1 tsp baking powder
100ml oil (60ml; rice bran oil--ab)
100ml coconut milk (60ml--ab)
140g egg yolks

Egg Whites Mixture
What I do is to treat this mixture like you are making meringues. Whisk the egg whites and salt until foamy, and then gradually add in the sugar in three batches. Keep whisking until soft peaks.

300ml egg whites
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp cream of tartar (optional)

Rainbow Pastes
I only have pandan paste, and I have to substitute the other pastes my own. What I do is to use a drop of rose essence plus a drop of red food colouring to substitute the strawberry paste; and using cocoa powder mixed with hot water for the chocolate paste.

1/2 tsp pandan paste
1/2 tsp strawberry paste
1/2 tsp chocolate paste

Rainbow Chiffon Cake-2 by ab2010

Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare a 20cm chiffon cake (less in diameter will be alright, I am told). Do not grease or line the tin.

Combine sugar, milk powder, cornflour, flour, and baking powder (I sifted these ingredients together, 3 times). Make a well in the centre. Pour the egg yolks (mine is already mixed with caster sugar) in the middle, mix well, while adding the oil and coconut milk. Work from the middle to the edge, combine well until you have a smooth egg mixture.

Meanwhile, whisk egg whites, caster sugar, salt and cream of tartar, if using, until soft peak. Mix this mixture into the egg mixture. Work lightly but thoroughly, to avoid any lumps (which will make holes in your cake).

Divide the mixture into 4 portions and put each portion into a bowl (I only use 3 bowls, and leave the plain mixture in the mixer bowl). Work each paste into each bowl, so you will have one bowl of pandan paste mixture, one bowl of strawberry paste mixture, and another bowl of chocolate paste mixture, while the rest of the mixture remains plain (I drop vanilla extract in it).

Pour these mixture into the tin, and bake for 45 minutes, or until it becomes springy to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately turn the cake (in the tin) upside-down, using the tin's feet (if you have a chiffon cake with feet). Otherwise, use a strong bottle, like your aged Modena vinegar bottle, to hold the cake  by sliding the bottle into the tin hole in the middle. Leave it to cool.

When it is already cool, remove the cake from the tin by using a long thin knife, loosening from the sides and bottom of the tin. Serve as is, sliced.

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