MAKING IT BLISSFUL

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Chocolate Ganache Frosting

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I do not own a cake stand, and as if that is going to stop me from picking up frosting skills?

Nope, I can always remove the glass tray from my microwave oven, balance it over a large rim bowl to elevate it, and tah-dah: my makeshift frosting station is set up! That’s how much I like to make my stuff “multitasks”.

I have been using this Chocolate Ganache recipe to make my cakes look every inch fancier.  No matter how I spread it, the frosting never appears messy, just pretty and glossy, no piping skills required!

RECIPE : CHOCOLATE GANACHE FROSTING
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10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water (or cream, if you prefer it richer)
1 and 1/2 sticks or 170g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

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01. Place water/cream and the chocolate in a small metal pot, melt the chocolate by placing the pot over pan filled with barely simmering water.  Stir occasionally and remove the pot from the simmering water once all the chocolate has melted.
02. Whisk cubed butter into the chocolate mixture until they have completely melted.  The frosting should look smooth and glossy.
03. Set aside at room temperature let it cool down to a spreadable consistency.

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++ this recipe is enough to generously frost a 2 tier 9 inch cake, with about 1/2 cup leftover.
++ the frosting appears to be runny but i still manage to use it to frost my cake, sides and all, at room temperature.  However, the slippery frosting between a 2-tier cake makes cutting difficult, the layers appear to be sliding off each other with every slicing motion.  My solution is to chill the cake slightly in the fridge to set the frosting before cutting it.

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Very Small Batch Cherry Compote

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The way I eat ice cream in a shop is very different from how I serve it at home.
I’ll order a single scoop or two, and just enjoy the cold treat without buying any additional toppings.  No crunchy nuts, no gooey syrup, not even chocolate chips.

But when I have ice cream at home, I will search for some goodies as toppings, or make some on my own.  Cherry compote happens to be one of those toppings that  can be easily homemade,  and instantly upgrade my plain vanilla ice cream to a sundae level dessert.

I usually use about 12 pitted cherries to make just enough to top 4 small bowls of ice cream.   After they are served, I don’t have to worry about storage containers or how long before I have to finish it up, that’s the best thing I love about small batch recipes.

I loosely follow David Lebovitz’s recipe here, that yields 3 cups of cherry compote.  For my small batch, I took out the almond extract and liqueur (Kirsch/Cherry Brandy),  but add I them back when I make them in larger quantity for cake toppings.

RECIPE : VERY SMALL BATCH CHERRY COMPOTE

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12-15 fresh cherries, wash, stemmed, halved and pitted
2 tablespoons sugar
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01. In a non-reactive small saucepan (one that does not react/get stained with acidic ingredients), put in the cherries and sugar to cook over a small fire for about 10 minutes, stirring with a spoon frequently.
02. Because I am cooking such a small batch of cherries, I usually encourage faster juicing from the cherries by pressing them with the back of the spoon against the pan once they turn soft.  This will also prevent the sugar from getting burnt without having enough liquid in the pan.
03. When the mixture starts to look thickened, and the cherries have completely cooked, remove the pan from the fire and let cool.  It will thicken up further.


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Stir Fry Everyday #05 : Tea Tree Mushroom Tofu

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I am not sure what these 茶树菇/柳松茸 are called in English, but “velvet pioppini” popped up under wiki.  They look like shimeji mushrooms with longer stems and flatter caps.  I usually get the dried ones for stews and soups because of the rich umami flavor.

These fresh ones were found at a Taiwan produce fair, and I was hoping that the wet market stall owner can carry them as well.  Since the mushrooms are already full of flavor, I simply stir fry them with oyster sauce, and top them on silken tofu to make a dish paired with my staple white rice.

RECIPE : TEA TREE MUSHROOMS TOFU

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1 small handful of tea tree mushrooms, about 100g
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
1 package of silken tofu
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce, mixed with 1/2 cup of water
white pepper, to taste
few drops of sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon of corn flour, mixed with 2 tablespoon of water.
chopped spring onion, optional for garnishing

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01. Trim off the ends of the mushrooms, and wash them thoroughly.  Drain, set aside.
02. Heat up the tofu by steaming it for 10 minutes, drain water released from the steamed tofu and place it on a serving dish.
03. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil in a heated wok, once it smoke, add in chopped garlic and cook till soft, but not brown.
04. Add in tea tree mushrooms, stir fry for about 30 seconds with medium heat.
05. Pour in oyster sauce and water mixture, continue to stir, till the sauce starts to boil and bubble, about 2-3 minutes, for the mushrooms to be cooked.
06. Add a dash of pepper and sesame oil.  Turn down the fire to low, taste, and adjust to preference.
07. Mix the corn flour solution well, before adding it to the mushrooms to thicken the sauce, stirring to cook all the while.
08. Simmer till the sauce thickens, then pour it over the steamed tofu.
09. Garnish with chopped spring onions. Serve immediately.


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Kiwi Jam

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My first attempt in this mandarin marmalade few years ago brought me almost to tears.*
The effort to separate the peel, the pith, and the membranes from the flesh were way too much for me then.
Not forgetting that the jam jars and covers need to be sterilized through boiling in hot water.*
Original plan to preserve a big bag of leftovers from Chinese New Year was cut short half way, when I decided to just cook with what I had peeled.
I have since learned to appreciate a bottle of well made marmalade better.

Compared to orange marmalade, kiwi jams are way easier.
So easy that I make only a single serve each time with just one large kiwi fruit; saves me the trouble of sterilizing the container and finding the fridge space to store it.
I choose kiwi fruits that are a bit more on the ripe/soft side, so that the flesh is easier to be mashed with just a fork.  If you intend to make a bigger batch, a food processor might do the puree job better.

RECIPE : SINGLE SERVE KIWI JAM

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1 very ripe kiwi fruit, peeled
1 /2 tablespoon sugar
lemon juice, few drops

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01. Put the kiwi fruit in a small saucepan, and mash it into puree with a fork or the back of a spoon.
02. Over a small fire, bring the kiwi puree to gentle simmer, stirring with a spoon all the time.  The batch is so small,  it could get burnt real easily.  So please, do not attempt to multitask.
03. Once you see the puree bubbling and steam rising, that means it is hot enough to add sugar at this moment, stir to mix well.
04. When the kiwi jam starts to become thick and sticky, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice.
05. Taste and adjust to your liking by adding sugar or lemon juice.
06. Remove from fire and scrap the jam onto a small dish.
07.  Cool completely, or chill in fridge if you like it cold.
08. Serve with your favorite toast.

 

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this mandarin marmalade recipe throws in the peels, pith, seeds and all, wondering why it is not bitter
this method of leaving the glass jars and covers in oven set to 100C/225F for 10 minutes will do too


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Baked Chicken Katsu

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I hardly deep fry anything at home.  The grease, the mess, the calories…… Nah, forget about it.  But I’ll gladly prepare the baked versions, like chicken nuggets, french fries and this Chicken Katsu from Just One Cookbook.

The concept is simple : toast the panko with olive oil first, then coat over chicken meat and bake.  The end result remains crispy minus the cleaning up work (Yay!).  I used the tonkatsu sauce recipe from the same blog this time, but it would go easily with other condiments like black pepper, onion mushroom, or cheese sauce.  Just treat it as a fried chicken cutlet.

RECIPE : BAKED CHICKEN KATSU
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1 large skinless, boneless chicken breast
Salt
Black Pepper
1 cup panko
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 large egg, beaten
1/2 tablespoon water

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01. Clean and pat dry chicken breast.  Slice the chicken into desired size.  Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
02. Heat up a frying pan.  Pour in panko and olive oil.  Toast over medium heat till it turns golden brown.
03. Prepare 3 shallow dishes.  In one, place the toasted panko.  In the second one, put in the flour.  And in the last one, mix the egg and water.
04. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
05. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
06. Pick up a piece of chicken, dredge it in flour to coat , tap to remove any excess.
07. Next, coat the surface with egg mixture, before dipping it into the panko to coat.
08. Arrange the meat on the lined baking sheet.
09. Repeat till all chicken meat are coated completely.
10. Baked for about 25 – 30 minutes (depending on how thick you have sliced your meat) till it is thoroughly cooked.
11. Serve immediately.