i leave you with a pic i took using the new iphone 4S. no editing at all except for applying a filter on instagram. i totally adore the camera, its fantastic! coffee macarons with coffee ganache...yums.
the first time i had storebought ricotta cheese, it was such a bad experience i still shudder at the thought of it. it was dry, bland, grainy and i had trouble finishing the whole tub. there was no way i would buy it again so when i came across a scones recipe that required ricotta, i thought i should make it my own. afterall like mascarpone, its technically not cheese and you only use that few ingredients. even though this is not a true ricotta recipe, it turned out SO GOOD. really smooth, creamy, savory and the texture is very similar to clotted cream. its even better than mascarpone i would say!
having bought a jar of griottes cherries recently, i have been waiting for an opportunity to make this, hidemi sugino's beautiful rendition of the forêt noire (black forest). i decided to do it for my birthday, which fell on the 7th. whenever it comes to making cakes for the extended family, i'll end up choosing chocolate since this is the most readily accepted one and i don't hv to worry whether they'll find matcha too weird or berries too tart if i were to make those flavors. everyone loves chocolate. having macaron orders back-to-back during my birthday week also meant there was just this much time to churn out a cake and this recipe is really one of the easier ones from sugino's book.
sakura mochi is eaten during the cherry blossom viewing festival as well as hinamatsuri (girls' day) in japan. there are generally two kinds of sakuramochi - the kanto (tokyo) style one where azuki bean paste-filled pancake/crepe is wrapped with pickled sakura leaf and the kansai style's which is made with domyoji-ko, a kind of glutinous rice flour that is steamed and filled with azuki. when a blogger friend asked if i needed anything from her tokyo trip, i jumped at the chance to request for these pickled sakura leaves. she also came back with an additional pack of pickled sakura flowers and some limited edition kitkats for me, so thank you, CY! i really couldn't wait til next spring to make these :p
these are by far my utmost favorite cupcakes and i absolutely adore them! i think my cupcakes have turned out really well the past few attempts - from the donna hay's double choc cupcakes to magnolia red velvet and vanilla ones but this just tops it all in terms of taste and texture.
finally, the english version of the much-awaited pierre hermé's macaron book has hit the shelves and i was elated to get my hands on a copy. it features many of his classic and signature macaron recipes like mogador, infiniment vanille, montebello, olive oil vanilla and ispahan as well as the customized ones he did for his clients like jasmine, oolong and carrot orange. there's also a section where he uses exceptional ingredients like foie gras, black and white truffles and 25-year old balsamic vinegar to incorporate into his macarons so its really fantastic.
elated about the book aside, i was actually more excited to dabble with the italian meringue method, my FIRST after all these years of macaron making. macarons are known to be finicky therefore i just shyed away from anything that would make them even more complicated.
for as long as i can remember, i detested chiffon cakes and pound cakes alot. i used to associate them with local old-school kinda bakeries where the only flavors available were pandan and chocolate. but ever since coming across them in french and japanese cookbooks where the flavor combinations and decor wise were anything but boring, i started looking at them in a different light.
today is chinese mid-autumn and chuseok (korean thanksgiving day). i wanted to make songpyeon initially, a kind of crescent shaped korean rice cake which also has three colors but i didn't hv any pine needles so i decided to make these instead. though its not exactly a suitable time since hanami dango is made during the cherry blossom viewing season in spring where its a big event and widely celebrated in japan, i'm still glad i made these coz they're really quite good.
kimchi jjigae (chigae) or kimchi stew is a common dish found in korean households and restaurants/eateries. at home, we hv korean food pretty often coz this is one cuisine i feel like i do pretty well in. i don't really like cooking chinese nor am i good in western, japanese or italian but when it comes to korean cooking, i'm so familiar with it that it almost feels like i've done it for the past 10 years (when in fact i only dabbled with it since last year or so). of coz, i get a kick out of the spiciness too.
my 1st plated dessert! as you know, i've always been fascinated with the plated/molecular stuff and hv wanted to attempt making but i was too intimidated with the number of components as well as hard-to-find ingredients like microgreens as well as the various chemicals like xanthan gum and calcium chloride. this recipe is from johnny iuzzini's dessert fourplay, a book that had been so underutilized (i've only used it once) so i'm glad i was able to find something relatively simple from it that doesn't require the use of any chemical.
this is the 5th hidemi sugino's recipe that i've attempted and i think i've put this off long enough. being too time consuming to make is one thing (it has 8 components in total including the decor) but i must say that glazing cakes hasn't been my forte and it still isn't. then again, this is the entremet that won mr. sugino the 1991 world pastry cup (coupe du monde de la pâtisserie) so could i possibly miss it? no i couldn't.
"you eat with your eyes first" is my belief when it comes to baking so i always aim to make pretty looking (of coz delicious) desserts and cakes. ever since knowing the existence of pickled cherry blossoms and how the japanese use it extensively in their beautiful wagashi and sweets, that came top of my most-wanted baking ingredient. so when i made the shiro-an white bean paste, i actually had this in mind already. this sakura roll uses the shiro-an both in the sponge and mousseline filling which i find it a really novel idea. having made sponges which require the use of almond or pistachio paste, i really liked the taste so i wonder what it'll be like to use white bean paste instead.
i've been fascinated with wagashi (和菓子) for the longest time. dainty morsels of bite-sized japanese confectioneries used in traditional tea ceremony, they're just so beautiful and intriguing. looks aside, i really like what goes into them - matcha, purple sweet potato, black sesame, pumpkin, sakura etc. so before venturing into any of the wagashi recipes, i figured that i should start with the basic filling. since koshi-an/tsubu-an (adzuki red bean paste) is so common and readily available, i decided to make the white bean paste ( しろあん or 白餡) instead. so far i don't think i've seen shops carrying it in singapore, or maybe i just haven't looked hard enough.
i'm not sure if anyone heard things like martha stewart's recipes don't work? i learned it from one of my baking buddies as well as some food bloggers, one of which you can read her story here. despite having been baking for several years now, i haven't tried martha stewart's recipes at all so i couldn't comment. then it was after i got an ipad 2 recently that i started downloading her mags, ebooks & apps and seriously thought about trying her recipes. deciding to venture out of my comfort zone to incorporate some spices into my bakes apart from the usual "safe" choices like cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger, this recipe caught my eye.
my friend claire went to paris again to visit her fiancé's family and i got more sadaharu AOKI's macarons this time yay!! this is my third time having them this year (so lucky) and not just that, i got to try three cakes from there as well!
ever since taking a liking on macarons many years back, i started appreciating other meringue-based desserts like pavlova, tarte citron and marshmallows as well. this is the one i usually make when i want a sweet-tooth quick fix coz its so effortless and easy to make. this time round, i came across the idea of doing red marbled swirls from a food mag and was immediately taken to it. it makes the otherwise plain meringue look lively and whimsical.
i was *this close* to getting a nespresso machine. citiz+milk was the model i was eyeing on and i went on youtube to watch unboxing videos and demos practically all day & night. then again, was i really prepared to fork out 600 bucks for a single-serve machine that basically does nothing but dispense espresso? well, no i wasn't.
i've practically been living on foodgawker and tastespotting 24/7 these days. beautiful food photos aside, i can't believe how much creative ideas and inspirations i've garnered from the site. i lost count of the photos i bookmarked and the recipes i wanted to try out "tentatively". i mean, how could you say no to stuff like strawberry yogurt-covered pretzels and very vibrant-looking red velvet cake made not with red food coloring but beet puree? and then i also came across this polka-dot strawberry milkshake which involves sticking cut marshmallows onto the side of the glasses to give it a polka-dot effect. totally creative and this is something that i wouldn't think of in a million years.
plaisir sucré, or sweet pleasure, is one of the many pierre hermé's masterpieces that i adore. apart from the ispahan, this is another well-known creation using a lovely combination of milk choc & hazelnuts. making this again certainly brought back lotsa memories as this was one of the earliest entremets i started out attempting and it reminded me of how intimidated i was with chocolate tempering and multi-component desserts then. and now, years later, it was nice revisiting just to see how i fared.
i just realized i don't make tarts or cookies as often as i would like mainly due to the weather. the dough gets soft and sticky really easily and i simply don't like going through the hassle of re-freezing & re-rolling the dough, but i decided i want some variety in the stuff i bake so i forsee i'll be making stuff like cookies, tarts & bread more often from now on.
if there's anything thing good about the annoyingly hot & humid weather in singapore, its that the weather is perfect for making bread. i'm not exactly a fan of sweet buns and sandwich loaves (i'm really more of a ciabatta/baguette person) but when they're made with my favorite cinnamon sugar its a different story entirely. so while browsing foodgawker the other day, i came across this recipe and immediately set out to make it. looking at the title makes me wonder about the difference between gourmet and non-gourmet cinnamon rolls, and since its said to be a replica of cinnabon's, the famous bakery chain specializing in cinnamon rolls, i just didn't wanna miss it.
i don't think there was ever once i would polish off a whole punnet of strawberries in one sitting but ever since i discovered eating them with balsamic vinegar & sugar, it was all too effortless to do so. basically i think the strawberries we get in singapore are pretty sucky so they need some dressing up. macerating makes the berries extra juicy as the process draws out the juices and enhances its natural sweetness.
i'm kinda clueless when it comes to choosing grapefruits. i don't know how to determine which ones hv got ruby red flesh and which are the ones with yellow flesh. so the other day while randomly picking up grapefruits and then later on discovered that i've got some really beautiful ones with flesh almost as deeply colored as that of blood oranges, the 1st thing that came to mind was to make grapefruit marmalade!
i don't know who nominated me but thank you, whoever you are :) and if you like my blog, pls vote for me under the 'best baking and desserts blog' category. to vote, you'll hv to sign up for an account and specify country as 'US'. closing date is 12 may. thank you!
i bought a tub of cassis puree almost a year ago and it was basically left untouched. frankly there really aren't many dessert recipes that use cassis so when i saw this from hidemi sugino's book, i jumped at the chance.
apart from matcha, goma black sesame would perhaps be my 2nd most favorite japanese-inspired flavor. having made a few chiffon cakes now (rose, pistachio raspberry, matcha, purple sweet potato), i can't believe i waited so long to make a black sesame one coz this is by far, in my opinion, the best chiffon cake i've made.
in terms of recipe, this is rather different from the others i've come across. it doesn't contain any oil, just water. the black sesame paste i used was also somewhat dry but the cake was anything but. texture-wise this one is smooth and more compact, very much like a japanese souffle cheesecake but i love it that way. some chiffon cakes can taste really foamy and you can actually hear bubbles bursting when you bite into it. the black sesame aroma was light but i could taste it, tho' i wouldn't say no to a stronger black sesame taste. i totally dig the color too, a very cool greyish black. when mixing the batter the color was a very light grey, who would hv thought it would turn so dark after baking? i thought it was a very pretty hue!
and this is a pack of ground black sesame seeds from daiso which i added into the cake. aroma's quite good and saves me the trouble of grinding my own. seriously, i swear daiso sells everything! new surprises every visit, i always look forward to shopping there. anyway i'm gonna make either yuzu or royal milk tea chiffon nx time!
*recipe removed due to copyright restrictions.
i wouldn't actually hv thought of making my own vanilla sugar since i feel that using new pods for this is just too extravagant. old ones hv all gone into my homemade vanilla extract so there wasn't any opportunity to make this until i found some unused ones in my fridge. due to my carelessness i had forgotten to wrap them tightly so they had dried out, which is just perfect for the task if you ask me!
i'm not sure if anyone has tried this combination before but the moment i did i was hooked! i think its even better than nutella & banana. i hadn't then coz i really couldn't visualize how the combination would work, since i've always associated apples with cinnamon at most.
loosely translated as the bananas of caribbean, this entremet has been on my to-bake list for a long time since i got the book.
the other day, the gf and i spent a leisurely afternoon having tea at the courtyard, fullerton hotel. while there were hits & misses (loved the scones but hated the dried-out sandwiches), it was definitely a better experience compared to the one i had at chihuly lounge @ ritz carlton two years ago. the good thing is they serve TWG tea and the items are refillable so i think rather worth it. ambience is nice too! and to be frank its been a million years since i brought my camera out while dining coz i virtually don't blog restaurant food anymore so i hope my pictures haven't deteriorated much. the refillable tiered set is priced at S$42++ btw.
my version of the garlic & olive oil pasta. i had it with anchovies, cherry tomatoes & a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and its really simple and yum!
in my previous entry of the sicile, the very fantastic pistachio biscuit sponge uses both almond & pistachio paste in it and some of my readers hv been asking me where they can purchase or make their own so i'm gonna post the recipe here. obviously nothing compares to the commercial ones in terms of texture coz even with my decent 600W blender i couldn't really get a really smooth paste but this is a good alternative to buying. unless you frequently use the pastes, i would recommend making your own if you just require a small quantity as the pistachio paste especially is not cheap.
remember the last time i said i was really lucky coz i got to try pierre herme's macarons from both tokyo and paris just two weeks apart from each other? this time i'm even luckier coz i got to try sadaharu AOKI's macarons from both taipei & paris on the same day, thx to my two lovely friends angela and claire! since claire returned from paris for almost two weeks already, i ate the macarons straight without taking any photos :( here are the ones from taipei that angela got me.
i've never really been much of a tea drinker but i still find myself buying lotsa tea for baking nevertheless coz i think they taste better in cakes and desserts than just drinking them alone. i've been eyeing on this recipe for quite sometime but i wasn't sure how it would turn out coz this is actually a fatless sponge as it doesn't require the use of oil or butter. i was pretty doubtful intially coz i've not made cakes that didn't require butter but ever since i made the butterless biscuit joconde from hidemi sugino's fruits rouges entremet i realize it actually tasted pretty good. the original recipe uses sencha (i think) but i decided to be adventurous and use gryphon's pearl of the orient instead. its actually jasmine tea infused with rose and its really really nice!