Thursday, October 29, 2009

White Pandan Chiffon Cake

I tried to recreate my favourite pandan chiffon cake with my reliable recipe but using the pandan essence instead of my beloved pandan paste.

The end result was a white or slightly yellowish cake with a strong pandan essence aroma. The after-taste of pandan essence in the mouth is what I dislike extremely so I'll be sure never to make this substitution again!

Fortunately, the cake turned out light, soft, fluffy and yet moist to the bite - which is actually a great success when it comes to baking a chiffon cake!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Macaroni & Cheese
1 egg (for serving of 2 pax)
shredded Cheddar Cheese
bread crumbs

(1) Preheat oven to 175°C. Lightly grease a baking dish.

(2) In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the macaroni and cook it till just right i.e. do not overcook it because it'll be further cooked in the oven.

(3) Whisk the egg, milk, butter and cheese. Mix well.

(4) Place the cooked macaroni in the baking dish. Pour the liquid mixture over the macaroni, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir well. Press the mixture evenly around the baking dish.

(5) Sprinkle a layer of bread crumbs over the mixture.

(6) Cover the baking dish with aluminium foil and bake for 25mins.

(7) Uncover the baking dish and bake for a further 15 mins or until the top is slightly browned before serving.

(+) A fairly easy recipe to follow. The quantities of the various ingredients are not stated here because it should be added according to your own liking i.e. more cheese if you prefer a cheesy bite to it or more milk if you prefer the pasta to be more wet after baking.

Germany, Bavaria - Bad Reichenhall

Those of you who are fans of the Mozart Kugeln (or commonly known as the Mozart Balls) must, and I emphasize again, MUST visit the Reber flagship store in Bad Reichenhall, near to Salzburg.
There are of course some who came here for the thermal spa resort or the wonderful sights of snow-capped mountains but I dare say most came solely to visit the Reber store - to get their hands on the great varieties of chocolates (especially the genuine Reber Mozart Kugeln®) or to enjoy a cup of coffee with freshly baked cake slices in different themed sections of the café, all richly decorated.

In Spring and Summer, an alternative location to be enjoying a cup of coffee would have to be in the great outdoor, at the Mozart garden. Sipping a freshly brewed coffee amidst the wonderful blooms with water trickling down the fountain and accompanied by bronze figurines of Mozart, Constance (Mozart's wife) and Miss Bimperl (their English terrier) is simply ahhhh....pure pleasure....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Germany, Lenggries - Braueck

This is my first time being invited to attend a birthday party atop a snowing mountain! How cool is that? Or a more appropriate word would be freezing?

Brauneck is a mountain located in Lenggries, within the state of Bavaria in Germany. The 4-seater gondola lift took us to an elevation of 1500m and from the gondola station, we had to trek for another 30 minutes before arriving at the hut.

The trek was relatively easy if not for the waist-deep snow and the heavy snowfall that made each step especially tedious. It was as if we were tiny beings being cast in a bowl of icing sugar or better still, in a water globe with swirling snow all around us!

However, once inside the dining hall of the hut, the temperature instantly went up by a few notches. Everywhere, people were taking off their thick winter jackets before settling comfortably on the wooden benches enjoy their beer. This went on till the wee hours and even after I retired for the night, the loud thumping musics could still be clearly heard through the thin wooden flooring.

But it's a birthday celebration what the heck! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fried Carrot Cake - 菜头粿

Fried carrot cake, more popularly known as "Cai Tao Kueh" (菜头粿) in dialect, is one of the speciality from Singapore. There are two versions to it - Black and White. I like both versions but would definitely give the determining vote to the white version. :)

Been craving for this dish for the past couple of days. So I decided to search for the recipe online and to my dismay, there were not that many available and amongst those that I found, the recipes were quite alike but with very different quantity ratios for the ingredients to be used.

So for my first attempt, I opted for what I thought was the simplest recipe. And the result was.... disastrous! Apparently, there was too much water used in the recipe and even after cooling the steamed carrot cake overnight, it was still soft and soggy. So naturally when I tried to stubbornly fry it, the result was like mua-chee. :(

Afterwards, I even tried to 'debug' the error which I might have made during my first attempt - the wrong flour used? too much water? the wrong method? too short steaming duration?

And with whatever information and new findings I could gather, I ventured on to my second attempt. This time round, I chose a recipe which requires lesser water and the steamed carrot cake was standing on it's own after I sliced it! Bravo! However, the next step of frying it proved to be quite a challenge for me. The recipe stated that the wok must be very hot...and the fried carrot cake should be slightly browned on the outside. But as I stood frying the carrot cakes, all I got was the carrot cakes sticking to whichever side of the wok it was in contact with. And I ended up with a browned wok but white-as-snow carrot cakes. And the longer I fried it, the softer it became. So eventually, I scooped everything out and sprinkled a little chives on it before serving.

Well, it was definitely edible but it's like eating a big lump of porridge grain...probably more suitable for the toothless grannies.

Anyone out there who have a reliable, tried and tested recipe to share?

Lemon Yoghurt Cake - Take 2

Following the previous flop attempt, I almost swear to myself that I would not attempt to bake this cake a second time. However, with a huge tub of near-expiry plain yoghurt sitting in the fridge, I decided to give it a second go but with another recipe found online.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

2 large eggs
200g caster sugar
zest from 1 lemon, finely grated
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
280g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
250ml low fat greek yoghurt
120ml oil
icing sugar for dusting (optional)

(1) Whisk egg and sugar until pale, thick and creamy (3-4 minutes).

(2) Add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat for a further 1 minute.

(3) In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Fold into the above mixture.

(4) Mix in yoghurt and then oil.

(5) Pour batter into a lined and greased 21-26cm cake tin. Bake at 180°C in a preheated oven for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. (I coated the sides of the cake tin with breadcrumbs for easier removal after baking)

(6) Leave the cake in the tin to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a cake rack to cool further.

(7) Dust with icing sugar (optional)

(+) Despite the method of whisking the entire egg to form the batter, the recipe yielded a rather light but moist cake.

(=) For those who wants to bake a cake without the hassle of separately whisking the egg yolks and whites, this is the recipe for you! :)

Creamy Orange Smoothie

Creamy Orange Smoothie

1 medium orange - peeled and unseeded
1/2 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup milk
sugar to taste (optional)

(1) Blend the oranges, milk and yoghurt until well mixed.

(2) Add sugar if needed and blend well before serving.

(+) Easy, fast and yummy!

(=) I would recommend using vanilla flavoured yoghurt instead of the plain yoghurt for that added vanilla fragrance!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Japanese Style Pumpkin Cake

Japanese Style Pumpkin Cake

300g pumpkin - peeled, sliced, steamed
150g potatoes - boiled
50g cornflour
80g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
50g margarine
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 cup plain flour
1 cup bread crumbs
oil for frying

(1) Mash the steamed pumpkin and boiled potatoes till very fine.

(2) Add in cornflour, sugar, salt, margarine and egg yolks. Mix to form a smooth dough.

(3) Take 50g pumpkin mixture and shape into oval cakes. Pass through flour before dipping in the egg whites and lastly, coat it with bread crumbs.

(4) Deep fry in medium hot oil till golden and drain well.

(-) If you follow the recipe strictly, you'll end up with a very wet paste which is nowhere near to a dough. So what I did in the end was to add plenty of flour until the dough is manageable.

(=) The out-of-shape pumpkin cakes were still rather tasty in the end.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Schokofest @ Landesmuseum, Klagenfurt

To be really honest, the highlight of this chocolate exhibition was all about the free chocolate tastings since most part of the posters were in Deutsch with only a tiny section in English. Nevertheless, this trip was still worthwhile as far as my sweet tooth is concerned.

At the ticketing counter, each visitor was issued with a 'starter' bag of chocolates and a nice ceramic chocolate tasting spoon which kind of sets me anticipating with excitement whether a similar "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory" scene will unfold before me. Then there was of course the red ribbon and wrist strap joke which I shan't elaborate further.

The entrance to the exhibition at the ground level was the 'boring' stuff - mainly huge posters explaining everything and probably anything about the grand history of chocolate.

The second level did not appear anymore exciting except for a white-bluish-purplish cow standing near the entrance of a room together with a milkmaid, each holding onto a basket full of Milka chocolates. Little did I know that the wonderland was really inside the room. The fragrance of chocolate wafting pass me when I entered the room, it's simply heavenly. Despite the size of the room, it didn't stop me sprinting from one display to the next with the tasting spoon in one hand and a chocolate-nicking gesture in my other hand.

miniature chocolate kitchen

my deadly yin-yang chocolate mix

one of the many chocolate fondues with varying cocoa contents

chocolate biscuit samples

chocolate moulds

box full of chocolates - but out of touch

salt chocolates

my favourite - chocolate bar executioners!

Chocolate sculptures along the corridor

The third and last floor was the chocolate manufacturer's show room. Here, I was able to taste more chocolate on the pretense of being a potential customer. Cheapskate that is, I know...

At the end of the exhibition, I managed to pack in somemore free samples in my 'starter' bag as well as to make up my mind and purchased some chocolate bars from the hundreds of varieties on sale.

Maria Buch, Styria

Maria Buch lies within the district of Judenburg in the state of Styria.

One could have easily missed the small town if not for its distinctive late-Gothic church which stood out amongst the low-roofed houses surrounding it. The church is a well-known pilgrim site dating back to the 15th century.

While touring the church, I was told a real story about an attempt by the Turkish to bomb the church by filling three huge candles with explosive powders. The plan was for the explosives to be set off when the church service commences and the candles lighted. Fortunately, the bomb attack was uncovered, the lives of many saved, the historic church survived and the three candles still stood by the altar till this day.

The town was richly decorated with the colourful flowers of Summer - in the gardens of private houses, hanging down from balconies, outside restaurants, along the roadsides and even one giant book made up of pink and red flowers!

Black-eye Susi

There was even a considerable-sized farmhouse located within the small town itself! And besides the farm animals, I could easily spot cats lazing throughout the town - under cars away from the direct sun glare, snoozing away on a bench outside a restaurant, catching mice in the vast green field... This bug is quite common here and in this case, I found one 'attached' to the other in a back-to-back position and being dragged all over the ground...interesting...

Food was certainly one of the highlight during the trip. Tante Helli made an amazing Chocolate Torte specially for us and I could dare say it rivals the famous Sacher Torte!

Dinner was a simply affair of baguettes with ham, cheese, egg, zucchini and paprika slices. It was so simple and yet delicious!

Life can be so simple...