Friday, August 31, 2012

Mixed Fruit Tarts & Happy Teachers' Day

I was baking several batches of mixed fruit tarts.  The custard fillings prepared for the batches vary in terms of amount of milk/water used, flavoured with vanilla paste with vanilla bean specks vs. the real good stuff - vanilla bean, and with or without dairy whipped cream.

For the pastry crust, I used the same rubbing-in method for all the batches.  But I'm not sure what I did or failed to do, such that my pastry crust is not as crispy and crumbly as what I achieved in my apple tart.  I have always used this recipe for my sweet pastry crust and it works. 

This tart is to thank someone who is patient, kind and caring

Recipe for tart pastry base - as per apple tart, except to increase second baking time to about 10 minutes or till light golden brown, after applying egg whites.  But try not to over-baked, or you will end up with a very hard crust.

After trying a few combination of custard fillings, I find the following recipe yields the best results.

For the custard fillings:
(enough for one 8" or 9" tart with some leftover)

(A) 300ml milk + 1 vanilla bean pod (split open, scrape the black specks)
(B) 200ml milk + 3 tbsp custard powder + 2 egg yolks + 4 tbsp sugar
(C) Lemon zest + juice from half lemon
(D) 1 tbsp orange liquor
(E) 30g butter
(F) 1 part dairy whipped cream to 4 parts of custard cream

1) Combine (A): milk, vanilla specks/pod in a pot and bring to boil.  Once mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and let the vanilla bean and specks sit in the warm milk for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Discard the pod.

2) Combine (B) together and pour into (1) through a sieve. Add in (C).  Cook the custard mixture over low heat till thickens.  Keep stirring to prevent burning.

3) Remove from heat and pour the custard into a deep bowl.  Sit the bowl in a basin filled with tap water.  Stir the butter and orange liquor into the custard.  Stir the custard frequently over the next 10  minutes to prevent a thin film from forming on top.

5) Cover the custard with plastic wrap (press the plastic wrap gently to touch the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming on top) and keep chill in fridge till ready to use.

6) Fold the whipped cream into the custard cream.

To assemble:
Fill the tart shell with custard filling and decorate with fruits as desired.

Strawberry and Mango Tart

Schools are having their Teachers' Day Celebration today.  We bought stationery for little girl's teachers, something practical and useful.  We also handmade several thank you cards for her teachers over the weekend.

Happy Teachers' Day to all the wonderful teachers who have motivated, encouraged and challenged us to achieve our goals.  Thank you to little girl's preschool teachers who have inspired and instilled in her a love for learning.  Thank you Teacher Siti, you are still my girl's favorite teacher.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blanched Dou Miao with Crab Meat

My recent cooking has been much healthier and towards light and simple style.  Instead of stir-frying my vegetables, I blanched it.  Instead of pan-frying, I steamed.  I made an effort to include more fish and vegetables in my cooking, and reduce the consumption of meat and poultry.  I still eat my roast pork rice, roti prata and char kway teow.  But, I will try to balance up or "compensate" with healthier home-cooked meals.  Probably, my weakest link in healthy cooking and eating is dessert - cakes, tarts....  all these which I love to create at home.  

I get my idea for this dish from Din Tai Fung's 豆苗虾仁 (Stir Fried Dou Miao with Shrimps).  Two things I like about Din's dou miao with shrimps: (1)  The dish is nicely presented - beautiful red prawns sitting on a bed of bright green dou miao  (2)  The prawns are fresh and crunchy.  But, I find there's something missing in the dish.  The flavours of the dou miao and prawns are separate from each other.  While the prawns are tasty, I find the dou miao too bland for my liking.  When you do a stir fry, you try to balance and combine the flavours of the ingredients together to create a tasty dish.  Din's version is as if you ordered a plate of dou miao and a plate of prawns, and put them nicely together.  No wonder the dish is so costly too, cos it is effectively a 2-in-1 dish!  

A packet of dou miao
Crab leg meat (I used frozen pack)
Few slices of ginger
Cooking wine
An egg white, beaten
A little shallot oil

1) Bring a pot of water to boil (or use a wok).  Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of cooking oil into the water (these help to keep the dou miao bright and green).  Blanch the dou miao in the water for about a minute or less.  Remove the dou miao and drain away excess water. 

2) Heat up a little cooking oil and add in the ginger slices.  Add the crab leg meat and stir fry very briefly.  Add a dash of cooking wine, follow by some stock.  Bring to boil and add salt to taste. 

3) Thicken the gravy with a little cornstarch solution.  Add in the beaten egg white and turn off the heat. Add a little shallot oil to the gravy.

4) Arrange the blanched dou miao on a serving plate and pour the gravy over.

As the dou miao is only lightly-blanched, it remains crisp and is well-flavoured by the combined gravy of ginger, cooking wine and crab meat.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Steamed Cabbage Rolls (白玉卷)

Here is another light and healthy steamed dish that I prepared recently.  Other than the filling ingredients that you see in the picture below, you will need a few leaves of Chinese long cabbage.  You can also use round cabbage to prepare this dish, but I prefer long cabbage as it is easier to wrap, the texture is softer and the taste is sweeter.  You can use a variety of ingredients for the filling, such as fish paste or chicken (instead of pork), prawn, mushrooms, wood ears, water chestnut etc.  

Main ingredients:
Chinese long cabbage - I used 8 leaves
Filling: Minced pork, crab leg meat, grated carrot, grated ginger, chopped spring onion

Oyster sauce, sesame oil, pepper, corn starch

1) Combine the filling ingredients and seasonings.  Keep chill in fridge for about an hour.

2) Boil the cabbage leaves in hot water (add a pinch of salt and a little cooking oil) for about a minute to soften the cabbage.  Remove the cabbage leaves and let them cool completely.

3) Divide the prepared filling for each cabbage leave.  Wrap and roll up the filling to form little parcels.  

4) Place the cabbage rolls on a steamed plate, sprinkle some grated carrot on top and steam on high for about 8 minutes.

5) Transfer the cabbage rolls onto serving plate.  Drain the liquid/stock from the steamed plate to stockpot.  Bring the stock to boil (add a little water/stock if necessary).  Add a pinch of salt/seasoning. Thicken the stock with a little cornstarch solution.  Lastly, pour in an beaten egg white and 1 tsp shallot oil.

6) Pour gravy over the cabbage rolls.  Serve hot.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Steamed Fish with Szechuan Preserved Vegetable

I cook fish quite often.  Usually steamed, braised or in soup.  Steamed fish is very easy to prepare and you need few ingredients.  Over here, I steamed sliced fish with shredded szechuan preserved vegetables (榨菜丝) and Chinese mushrooms.  This dish is light and healthy, and the gravy goes very well with a bowl of steamed rice.

Fish fillet - cut into thin slices
Others - Chinese mushroom, szechuan preserved vegetables, red dates, ginger, spring onion, chilies

Soy sauce to taste
A small pinch of sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

1) Marinate the fish slices with a tiny pinch of salt, a little shallot oil, a little water and a dash of pepper.  Set aside for about 15 minutes.

2) Cut the sezchuan preserved vegetable into thin slices.  Soak in a bowl of water for about 10 minutes to remove excess salt.  Squeeze dry, then cut into matchstick thin (see above)

3) Cut the rest of the other ingredients (see above).  

To cook:
Combine the marinated fish slices, other ingredients, seasonings and 1 to 2 tbsp water.  Arrange fish slices  on a steamed plate.  Steam over high heat for about 8 minutes.

For our dinner, I have also prepared Chinese cabbage pork rib soup with sea cucumber.  This is simple everyday food for me.  Easy to prepare, healthy and delicious.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Blueberries Cream Cake

We celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday last month.  I was deciding between baking her a Pandan Kaya Cake or this Blueberries Cream Cake for her birthday.  My mother-in-law prefers lighter cakes.  Actually, I think her favorite is Pandan Kaya Cake as it contains no "cream" (as in whipped cream) in between the cake layers.  But in  fact, coconut milk or cream is used for making the filling, so how much healthier can it be.... plus considering the amount of sugar you need to add into making the kaya filling.  So, I opt for the latter - Blueberries Cream Cake with homemade blueberries filling.  

Preparation for this cake is similar to here, except that this is a smaller 8" cake and the filling is dairy whipping cream, instead of the non-dairy cream that I used during the cake decorating class.  My preference is to use dairy whipping cream as the taste is better and the texture lighter.  

Here is a cross-sectional view of the cake.  This is the best shot that I managed as the place was not well-lighted.

The sponge layer is feather light and soft, and paired very well with the light whipped cream and blueberries filling.  The surrounding sponge fingers serves two purposes -  as a cake decoration and more importantly, they help to hold the cake together.  As the sponge layers are very light and I have piled on layers of fillings and fruits on top, the cake may not keep its shape well without extra support from the sponge fingers.   

Sponge Fingers ready for baking ...

My mother-in-law likes this cake very much, despite that it has whipped cream in it.  The light sponge, blueberries filling and fruits blend in nicely together, such that you do not have the usual "rich & greasy" aftertaste from whipped cream.   

Baking your own birthday cakes are not only cheaper, but you are fully aware of what's went into making your cakes.  Most birthday cakes sold outside contain cake stabiliser or emulsifier to achieve that super fine texture.  For home-baking, as it is done on a small scale, we can achieve the same soft texture with proper cake handling.  It's chemical- free, just well-whisked eggs and the correct technique.  


As I am writing this, I noticed that Richard Goh's Cake Making Stage 1 is going to commence at Nee Soon Central CC from 15 September to 10 November 2012 (Sat) from 2.30 to 5.30pm (Closing date: 8 Sep).  I attended all his cake making stages, except for Stage 4.  There are 5 cake-making stages (demo basis) and 1 cake decoration stage (hands-on).  Although the cake-making stages are all demo-basis, I find them much more informational and structured than most one-time hands-on workshops that I have attended.  Cake making is a skill and for learning to take place, there must be continuous reinforcement.  For one-time hands-on workshop, the problem is you must have the discipline to practise at home.  Failure to do so, you are unlikely to remember much even though they are "hands-on".  For Richard's classes, as there are 8 lessons in each stage, you will surely pick up the skills at some point in time, after looking at how he does it over and over again.  Of course, you still need to practise at home to master the skills.  But since we have lessons every week, we are quite motivated to try out the recipes.  We have classmates bringing their failed sponge cakes to class.  Ha... and Richard gladly taste all to give feedback and offer possible reasons for the failed attempts.  In this way, we know our mistakes and learnt from each other.  


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'm back with ..... Apple and Rhubarb Tart

Apple & Rhubarb Tart - lovely combination of sweet and tangy

It has been almost a month since I last updated on Fong's Kitchen.  First, my computer was down.  Luckily, we have a habit of backing up our files, so most of my pictures were saved... maybe except for a few???  Then, Fong was down too... twice!!  Nevertheless, I still managed to log on to check what's serving in others' kitchens.  During my short absence, I was pleasantly surprised to see a few more followers to my little kitchen.  A big thank you to all friends/readers and a big welcome to the new guests to my kitchen.

Rhubarb is not common in Singapore, though you can find them in some supermarkets. Here is a picture of the fresh rhubarb that I have taken.  They look rather similar to celery, except the stem is red and it tastes tart.  There were large leaves growing from these rhubarb stems, but for convenience of storage, I have trimmed off the leaves.  

Bought these rhubarb during my Australia trip.

Preparation for this apple and rhubarb tart is the same as my earlier apple tart, except that I used rhubarb for this tart's topping.  For each slice of tart, you will get to enjoy a crispy biscuit base, fragrant almond cream, moist apple puree and finally a slight tangy rhubarb toppings.

Preparation work for my apple and rhubarb tart

I love to bake tart.  Little effort and it reaps wonderful results.  I usually prepare the base dough, rest and roll out a day in advance.  The apple puree is the easiest step to prepare, no blender needed.  Just peel and chop up the apples, cook over medium heat till soften for about 10 minutes and its done.  Almond cream is also prepared within another 5 to 10 minutes.  The bulk of the time is baking the tart in the oven.

These slices were for my neighbour.  Hi Mag, if you happen to read this :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...