May 28, 2011

Al Brown's Creamy Polenta Soup

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Al Brown's Creamy Polenta Soup

Just saw Chef Al Brown's tweet the other day about this creamy soup. It took my attention as it is not my usual soup. I was curious how it tastes. So, I went to the kitchen to find out.

Al Brown's Creamy Polenta Soup-2

It is just delicious! There is a perfect combination of creamy milk and mascarpone, the crunchy fresh walnuts I just cracked before serving, the saltiness and that divine flavour of blue cheese, and my homemade one-year-old tamarillo chutney (Al uses tomato relish). This soup is so filling, I don't feel hungry until afternoon tea time (which means, no snack in between! Good, isn't it?).

Anybody wants to try out, head on to his website!

May 25, 2011

Gluten-Free Coconut Coffee Biscuits

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I thought, well, if I cannot drink coffee, perhaps I can at least taste it in something. I was thinking about coffee walnut cake, but I thought it would be too fatty for me since it's just nice when sandwiched with coffee buttercream. Other else, I am not too fancy. 

The second option is biscuits.

Gluten-Free Coconut Coffee Biscuits with Nutella Filling-01

The biscuits which are not too sweet, not too ordinary. For me, at least. So, yeah. This is it. Coconut Coffee Biscuits. Sandwiched with the goodness of Nutella, to give me a gentle boost to lift up my mood in a gray Winter day. It is gluten-free, too (I assume, Nutella is gluten-free?).

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Gluten-Free Coconut Coffee Biscuits 
with Nutella Filling
by Arfi Binsted

I don't fancy making biscuits which have to be kept in the fridge for quite some time, just to achieve some crispiness or goodness. I think biscuits are just as good to be made in a dash, as long as I have freshest ingredients and a tender love to whip up a good result. I tend not to have sweet biscuits, to avoid me being hyped too quickly, after all, these biscuits are going to be glued with Nutella anyway. 

For gluten-free baking, I always use Healtheries Simple Wheat and Gluten-Free Baking Mix, because the mix gives melt-in-the-mouth results for biscuits and lovely texture in cakes, although, of course you cannot compare it to gluten/wheaten ones in sponginess. In this recipe, I use Italian fine coffee granules, and Coconut Cream Powder from 'N Tolerance, the shop I frequently go for gluten-free ingredients.

185g dairy-free margarine
2 Tbs icing sugar (add more if you want sweeter)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup coconut cream powder
1 Tbs Italian fine coffee granules
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbs gluten-free flour
Nutella to sandwich

Gluten-Free Coconut Coffee Biscuits with Nutella Filling-03

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line baking trays with baking paper.
Put in the bowl together margarine, sugar, essence, coconut cream powder, and coffee granules, beat until smooth. Fold in gluten-free flour, mix well. The batter should be soft but when you roll the balls with your hands, they won't be sticky. If you feel it's still sticky, add another tablespoon of flour. Roll into balls, the size of walnut approximately. Flatten with the back of a floured fork. Baked until firm. Careful not to burn the bottom of the biscuits. Transfer to the wire rack to cool. Sandwich with Nutella, the thickness of your preference. Enjoy! Makes 24 sandwiched biscuits.

May 15, 2011

Gluten-Free Milo Chocolate Chunk Biscuits

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I should have said 'Milo', because I am using my own mix, as the real Milo contains of malt, which is gluten. I use carob powder and coconut cream powder to substitute Milo drinking powder to these biscuits.

You can use Nestle Milo drinking chocolate if you like.

Gluten-Free Milo Chocolate Chunk Biscuits

Gluten-Free Milo Chocolate Chunk Biscuits
by Arfi Binsted

Actually, I made two versions of these biscuits. One batch is gluten-free for my kids and the other batch is gluten tolerance  for the builders who are going to come to assemble my new kitchen cabinet this coming weekday. So, they are slightly different in flavour, but it is only because of the use of coconut powder in gluten-free version. They taste much more tropical but crispy all the same. If you are going to make gluten version, you'd better use self-raising flour. 

180g dairy-free margarine
2 Tbs caster sugar (add more if you like sweet biscuits)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 Cup Gluten-Free flour (a mixture of rice flour, potato starch, and cornflour)
'Milo' powder: 1/4 cup carob powder + 1/2 cup coconut cream powder + 2 Tbs natural cocoa powder (use Milo drinking powder if you are gluten tolerance)
1/4 cup ground almond
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbs warm water
50g dark chocolate, chopped
50g white chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 175C. Line baking trays with baking paper.

Beat margarine and caster sugar together until light, add in vanilla essence. Mix 'Milo' (or Milo drinking powder if you're using) with flour, sift it with baking soda into the margarine mixture. Add in ground almond. Mix lightly. Add in chopped chocolates. Mix well. 

Roll into balls, flatten slightly, and bake until cooked through, around 12 (if you want soft version) - 15 (if you want crispy version) minutes. Makes 26 medium biscuits.

May 09, 2011

About Brownies

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I kind of baking whatever is easy to bake these days. Provided so little time to be spent in between hobbies, chores, kitchen, and homeschooling, I keep praising brownies for its less time-consuming method. The impact is not as little as the time spent, on the contrary, it is huge! It is always a winner to my kids, especially after sports day.

Brownie is a slice of heaven. What can you say? Everything with chocolate seems leading us to a pleasant state. Perhaps cupids love chocolate too.

yummy pieace

It can be deliciously gluten-free, too!

yummy piece2

Pennylane Brownies is quite a legend, like Riana herself. It is quite a guilt-free type of brownie, as it features cocoa and requires no butter. Although you can add chocolate chips or nuts to whatever amount you desire, I suppose it is just a personal option that will interfere with the final taste. If you want, you can add chopped 80% dark chocolate like I usually do, then that you will transform these humble brownies to be heavenly rich, sticky with melted chocolate that plastered your lips and smeared your tongue, darkly, in every single bite.

The power of chocolate can make every brownie you make taste differently. I personally do not like compound melt chocolate in any forms. I don't like its taste, for it often does not taste chocolaty, but rather more sugary. Chocolate has to taste chocolate, that is the definite rule. 

Therefore, I always use 80% dark chocolate, or at least 60%, to ensure good taste and darkness. Sometimes, I use Dutch-processed cocoa or use it half-half with other cocoa powder. There is a mixture of flavour, but it still can be quite sinful in the end.

Liyah's Fudge Brownies
taken with iPhone and Camera+ 

Fudge brownie, like Lia creates, is my second option when I am seriously and immensely craving for chocolate. It can satisfy me in every single palate bud with its darkness, texture,  sweetness, and stickiness. Just delicious!

My favourite chocolate brownie recipe until now, is still Nigel Slater's 24 carat chocolate brownies. It tastes intensely dark chocolate. And it is 24 carat!

Brownie with raspberries is another favourite, like Soul Food's version. Can you ever resist the temptation? I can't.

However, gluten-free brownies I have made using above recipes can result differently. They tend to be loosen in construction which handles much softer and more melt-in-the-mouth texture. 

gluten-free dark chocolate brownies-pnslm2-1

This gluten-free dark brownies is flourless. I use hazelnut meal with a hint of caramel essence for additional flavour. It is slightly undercooked with its gooey centre, a superb companion for an espresso.

gluten-free dark chocolate brownies-pnslmx-2

The additional dark chocolate chips and sauce give an extra delicacy and decadent touch. Very special to my taste. I just love it!

Yesterday, I baked another batch of brownies. I thought this will keep well in the tin for this week's sweets, as we're going to be busy with kitchen renovation again (after being held up for a week or so). I hope the installment will go on smoothly, fingers crossed.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies

So, yes. I have this idea to put topping on the brownies, not only chocolates, but also nuts and coconut thread. Unfortunately, the topping was a bit too heavy for the brownies, so it did not go really well. The taste is much better than its shape, though. I need either lessen the topping or strengthen the brownie base. Another lesson to learn.

In the meantime, Happy Mother's Day!