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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I use a lot and I mean a lot of vanilla extract because I bake so often. I put vanilla extract in sponge cakes, butter cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, tarts, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, bread, mousse, panna cotta and the list goes on.
I have to buy these bottles of vanilla extracts oh so often. They are not cheap mind you. $20 plus for a small bottle. I will not make do with the imitation vanilla essence which is not made from vanilla beans at all.


I have been thinking of making my very own vanilla extract for a long time. So when my good friend went on a trip to Ubud, Bali, I took the opportunity to ask him to buy some vanilla pods for me. These vanilla pods from Bali are very reasonably priced compared to the ones from Madagascar, Tahiti and so on. He also bought a bottle of duty free Absolut Vodka from the airport for me.
So, now I can go on and embark on my project on making my own vanilla extract. It will be ready in about 2 months, much better if it sits for 6 months. I probably will write another post about the result in a few months time.


This is the first day of soaking
Vanilla Extract Recipe:

30g of Vanilla Pods (about 10)

250 ml of Vodka (40% proof)

1 air tight jar

Method:

Sterilize the jar

Wipe the vanilla pods clean, split it by slicing them across the whole pod but leave the ends uncut. Put them all into the jar and pour in the vodka. Put on the lid and give it a good shake and store it in the shade. Shake it daily for the first weeks. Then give a shake once or twice a week for the rest of the time making sure the beans are submerged in the liquor.

The vanilla extract should be ready after two months. Top up with Vodka now and then.

After 6 months, discard the pods and sieve & decant the extract into smaller bottles.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Red Velvet Cake


At last I am brave enough to try out three layer cakes with frosting. Why didn't I bake this before is because I don't fancy butter cream. I would scrape off every bit of butter cream when I eat birthday cakes or I will only eat the cake and leave the frosting alone. Anyway I have enough of birthday cakes ! There is a birthday celebration every other day in my kindergarten.
Well, cream cheese frosting is not the same, nothing will be scraped off at all. It will taste like the cheesecakes that I like so much. I love the red colour of this red velvet cake which is a rage in the U.S. You don't see much of this cake in Singapore. I will try to make it a brighter red next time.

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Three 6 0r 7-inch cake pans. Serves 10 to 12.
Ingredients:
230g cake flour
15g dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
80g butter
200g sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp of red food colouring
185ml buttermilk
3/4 tsp vinegar
3/4 tsp baking soda
Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Grease and line the bottom of three 6-inch or 7-inch cake pans with baking paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy in a mixer.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, add vanilla extract and food colouring till well mixed.
Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Pour in half of the buttermilk.
Add another one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture followed by the remaining buttermilk.
Finally, mix in the remaining flour till all the ingredients are well combined.
In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and baking soda.
Fold this mixture into the cake batter.
Divide the mixture evenly among the cake pans and place them in the oven.
Bake for a 2o to 25 min and test with a toothpick.
Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes and unmould.
Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
Ingredients:
250g cream cheese
60g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
95g icing sugar, sifted
A pinch of salt
Method:
Blend cream cheese and butter till smooth in a mixer.
On low speed, add in icing sugar, salt and vanilla extract.
Blend the mixture till fluffy on medium speed.
Place one cake on a cake board or a flat plate and add about 1/4 of the frosting.
Smooth out the frosting with a spatula. Repeat the process with the other two cakes.
Once the final layer has been frosted, use 1/4 of the frosting to cover the sides of the cake evenly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Non Alcoholic Mojito


This drink is for dear Feli, very refreshing and your guests will love you for it. Make sure you make lots of it, they will keep asking for more!

Non Alcoholic Mojito

Ingredients:
(makes 4 glasses)

A bunch of Mint leaves
8 limes (Thai)
Sugar to taste
Water / Soda / 7-Up/ Sprite / Bitter Lemon
Ice cubes
Lime cut thin for decorations

Method:

Wash and tear up the bunch of mint leaves and remove the stalks

Put them in the pestle & mortar to muddle or bruise it.

Divide the leaves into 4 glasses and add ice cubes.

You can make a sugar syrup or put in 3 to 4 teaspoons of sugar in each glass or to your taste.

Cut the the limes into quarters, squeeze the lime juice into the glass minus the seeds, about 2 limes to a glass

Throw about 3 squeezed lime quarters into the glass as well.

Fill up with cold water / soda water / Bitter Lemon / 7-Up or Sprite

If you use 7-Up or Sprite, then you can omit the sugar syrup or sugar.

Sit back and enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pulot Hitam with Coconut Ice Cream

This is a twist to the usual local dessert. Instead of the warm thick porridge like dessert, I made a coconut ice cream to top it and eat it cold. The pulot hitam which is made up of black glutinous rice, is more paste like here and I like it with a little bite, so I did not not cook it for so long. Instead it is a tiny tad chewy and contrasts well with the soft coconut ice cream.

 Recipe for Coconut Ice Cream


Ingredients:

 2 cups coconut milk

1 cup fresh milk

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs


Method:

 1.Mix the eggs and the sugar in a metal bowl, beat till sugar dissolved.

 2.Fill a small saucepan with just three cm of water and simmer.

 3.Put the metal bowl of egg mixture onto the small pot of a hot water, make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Keep the fire very low.

 4.Keep stirring with a wooden spoon, when the mixture coats the spoon, remove from fire.
Let it cool.
 5.When cooled, add coconut milk and fresh milk. Mix well.
Refrigerate the mixture till cold.
 6.Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker to churn.

 7.When it is ready, put in the freezer for firmer consistency.


 Recipe for Pulot Hitam


Ingredients:

 250g black glutinous rice

500 ml water

1/2 cup sugar

A few pandan leaves knotted together


Method:

 1.Wash rice and soak the rice with water for 6 hours or overnight preferably.

 2.Then place the rice in a pot and pour in the 500 ml of water, add pandan leaves and boil over medium fire.

 3.When it boils, stir often. Add a little water at a time when necessary and simmer on low heat.

 4.When the rice is soft and a little chewy, add the sugar. Stir well.
Remove from fire.
 5.When the pulot hitam is cooled, refrigerate till cold.

 6.Serve the pulot hitam in a nice glass and top it with a scoop of coconut ice cream.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beetroot Bread

Beetroots are a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C, and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health. Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and thus help prevent cardiovascular problems. So instead of drinking the juice which does not taste very nice to me, I put it in my bread. I dumped the beetroot and bread ingredients into my bread maker and let it do all the work. After three hours, out came a 'redish' looking bread that taste no different from ordinary white bread. Just apply butter and serve.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lemongrass Tea





Have you tried lemon grass tea? How could one afford to say “No” to a healthy tea which can also gives you beautiful skin and lots of health benefits? The lemon grass is a widely used herb in Asian cooking.


Detox

The lemon grass helps to detoxify the liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and the digestive tract. It cuts down uric acid, cholesterol, excess fats and other toxins in the body while stimulating digestion, blood circulation.


Acne

Given that lemon grass is such a natural body cleanser, it cleans from the inside-out. With that, it helps improve the skin by reducing acne and pimple. Also, it acts as a muscle and tissue toner.


Stress reliever

In Ayurveda, the lemon grass is used as a stress reliever.


Anti-oxidant

Research shows that every 100g of boiled lemon grass stalk can contain up to 24.205 micrograms of beta-carotene and anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidant is essential for us to fight free radical and helps prevent cancer.


Beautiful Eyes

As mentioned, lemon grass contain beta-carotene that is essential for beautiful and healthy eyes.



Recipe for Lemongrass Tea

Makes 4 Cups


Ingredients

2 Green Jasmine tea bags

6 stalks of Lemongrass

Sugar to taste or honey

Ice cubes


Method

1. Seep the teabags in 4 cups of hot water in a pot.

2. Wash and smash the lemongrass stalks, discard the fibrous top parts.

3. Boil the lemongrass stalks in the pot of jasmine tea for 15 minutes.

4. Add sugar to taste or alternatively add honey when the drink is ready and cooled.

5. When cooled, add ice cubes and serve.


Try it, it is very refreshing on a hot day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cheesecake




If you like cheesecake, this will be the cake for you. It tastes just like the famous Hilton Hotel's cheesecake, but it is not as sweet and it is lighter but very yummy. It uses 2 blocks of cream cheese instead of the usual four.


I made an 8 inch cheesecake for my staff and everyone wants the recipe so here it is, try it.


Ingredients:
500g Philadelphia cream cheese
140g sugar
75g sour cream
45g whipping cream
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract


8 inch round cake pan, Roasting pan for water


To make base:
1. Brush the inside of an 8 inch cake pan for a 1kg cake with a little butter.
2. Crush 7 Digestive biscuits to pieces (Put biscuits in plastic bag and crush it with a rolling pin)
3. Melt 50g butter and mix into biscuits.
4. Put mixed biscuits onto the cake pan and press it flat with a spoon.
5. Put it in the fridge to harden and set.


Method
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 deg C.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth for at least eight minutes at medium speed.
3. Add sour cream and whipping cream to the mixture and continue to beat till smooth.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after every addition. Then add the vanilla essence. Continue to mix at the medium speed till the mixture becomes fluffy.
5. Pour it into the cake pan with the prepared base and bake in a bain marie (a large roasting pan of barely simmering water in which the cake pan, or a container with the pan in it, is placed, and the water level 1/3 up the sides of the cake pan), which allows the mixture to be heated gently and evenly for 45 minutes to one hour at 180 deg C.
6. Be careful: Over-baking your cheesecake will cause the skin to crack and it will become dry and difficult to cut.
7. Let the cheesecake cool down to room temperature.
8. Store it in the fridge.
9. Serve cold.
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