Matcha Green Tea Biscotti with Cranberries and Macadamia Nuts
My flat was infused in the toasty fresh moss scent last night when these biscotti were baking in the oven. Almost like being in a forest by the camp fire. I imagine that would be the kind of feeling being in a transitional Japanese chanoyu (tea ceremony) in a rustic chashitsu (tea room). All these reminded me of my favourite book, The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura. A book that has a big influence on my view on things/life and architectural designs. I should read it again!
The green tea powder for these biscotti is not just the colour, the 2.5 generous teaspoon of the matcha powder adds great toasty-ness and makes the biscotti just like a cup of green tea but in a crunchy way! I do really like the idea of "eating" green tea. The red of the cranberries and white of the macadamia nuts made this biscotti almost Christmasy!
The basic biscotti recipe I always use is on here, just a few twists, you could create your special version!
I have also made other unusual biscotti before..
And I have even designed and handmade the packaging to go with the Japanese theme! The effect of the translucent parchment paper with red pattern goes really well the the silhouette of green contained inside..:-)
Pastry Challenge: Raspberry Cream Profiteroles
The second attempt of making these choux pastry and profiteroles. I am really quite pleased with the result. If I keep perfecting my skills, I should master it soon!
The reference of the choux pastry recipe was from The Cook's Book. One of my favourite comprehensive and informative cookbooks. I have learned a lot of new cooking techniques from this book. It has various chapters for different types of food and each recipe has it step by step instructions and accompanied by sequential photographs. Note: I don't get any commission by promoting this book!
Something new for me about choux pastry making is that it should be made with equal amount of water and full-fat milk in order to achieve a smooth pastry consistency. Just using water will only result in rough pastry. I think the smooth pastry does give a more professional feel to the final presentation of the profiteroles.
For the pastry recipe, you could refer to any choux pastry recipes that you could get hold on from online or other resources, but maybe consider the equal water and milk formula (if the reference recipe only uses water).
For the refreshing raspberry cream filling, I simply whisked double cream until stiff, and then add few generous tablespoonful of mashed frozen or fresh raspberry to the cream.
You can either pump the cream into the puffed pastry, but personally, I think a cut-top profiteroles with cream filling visible would add more visual excitement to the final presentation.
Blueberry and almond tart
This is quite an easy tart to make. An impressive dessert for any potluck gathering. Or any day when you really fancy some decent dessert without having to spend a lot of money to buy them in a patisserie. Homemade tarts are always taste much much better (and cheaper) than those from the supermarket!
There are two stages to make the tart.
Stage 1: The Pastry.
Rub the butter into the flour until they resemble fine breadcrumbs texture and then mix in the icing sugar and orange zest. Add one egg yolk at a time to the flour mixture until incorporated. Finally add one tablespoon of the orange juice at a time to the flour mixture and mix until all come together as a dough. Wrap the dough with the cling film and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180'C. Prepare the 22cm fluted loose base flan tin by rubbing butter all over the internal surfaces.
After 30 minutes, roll out the pastry to about 3mm thickness (big enough to cover the whole flan tin). Gently press the pastry in place within the flan tin and chill it in the fridge for another 20mins.
Crumple a large piece of parchment paper (enough to cover the flan tin) and then carefully open it up and line it over the chilled pastry. Sprinkle ceramic baking beans over the parchment paper and blind bake the pastry for 15mins. Then set it aside to cool down completely before the next stage.
Stage 2: The filling
Preheat the oven to 180'C.
Use an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the orange zest and essence and mix well. Add the egg and mix it until fully incorporated then mix in the egg yolk and beat until well mixed. Then add the thick double cream. Beat until everything is fully incorporated. Gently fold in the flour and ground almond until just combined. Spread the filling mixture over the cooled pastry case, the level it. Sprinkle the blueberries over the mixture.
Bake the tart in the oven for 30-35minutes or until the crust is golden colour. Insert a skewer to the middle of the tart, if it comes out clean, the tart is cooked. Remove it from the over to cool down. Allow the tart to cool down before removing it from the flan tin.
Done! The tart tastes good if serves warm or cold! Simple!
I have a couple of failed attempts of making croissants. It was quite some messy trials. Hence, I have never want to try to make puff pastry, they are kind of similar in the making process. Further more, those shop-bought puff pastry are much cheaper and easy to handle. But not as exciting as home-made ones.
I always refer to Delia's "Complete Cookery Course", when I want to learn some cooking techniques the proper way. This book was a Christmas present from someone whom I used to be quite close with. It is such a shame that we are now on different paths in our lives, and no longer in contact. He will always have a place in my heart.
If you can get on hold of the book, the John Tovey's Rough Puff Pastry recipe is on the page 520. Quite easy to follow.
For half of the ingredients stated in the recipe (Instead of using half margarine and half lard, I replaced them with just butter). I made 3 different types of pastries (for fun!). Few mini puff pastry croissants, few peach tarts, and some egg custard tarts. They are all quite tasty. The pastry is flaky, crisp, and light.
Very good result for the first attempt I think!
Found a forgotten package of dried chrysanthemum flowers in my store cupboard. The cooling effect of the chrysanthemum tea is perfect for the summer. I wish I found it much earlier. The weather was rather hot (but nice) during the last couple of weeks.
The initial idea was to make some chrysanthemum tea jelly, but once the jelly was set, I thought it looked rather like "Ice Jelly" - "愛玉冰". a refreshing cool dessert with lime juice syrup that you can get in Asia. The slight bitterness of the chrysanthemum tea would make a perfect complement to the lime juice syrup.
A very refreshing experiment of chrysanthemum tea jelly and lime juice syrup!
To make this dessert, you will need:
To make the tea, firstly wash the flowers and then boil them in a pan of water for at least 5 minutes until you get a beer yellow colour consistency. Drain the tea with a sift. Add the sugar. Measure about 400ml tea and add the gelatine. Stir well until the gelatine is fully dissolved in the liquid. Pour the liquid to a container and let it set for use later. Then cool it in the fridge for 1hr.
For the lime juice syrup, squeeze the juice of one lime. Measure the lime juice. Add one portion of the juice with two portion of the same amount of water to the juice in a pan and add 2 large tablespoonful of sugar. Boil the syrup mixture for at least 5 minutes. And then set it aside to cool down.
When the jelly is set, cut or scope it out into a bowl and add few tablespoons of the lime juice syrup to the jelly. Done!
Excellent to serve this dessert cold during a hot summer day...
This a ch"easy"t way of making ice cream without ice cream maker. I actually can't see why do we need an ice cream maker. (*) The process of making ice cream is quite simple. Firstly, you have to prepare the custard whether you have an ice cream maker or not. Without an ice cream maker, you pour it to a freeze proof container and put the custard uncover in the freeze for an hour or so until the edge of the custard starting to harden. Take it out and put the semi-frozen custard in a large bowl, and whisk it thoroughly. Pour the mixture back to the container (**), cover, and freeze it until the ice cream is ready to be served.
For this easy to make raspberry ice cream, you need:
First whisk the double, single and syrup in a large bowl until they form soft peak and hold it own shapes. Add 1/2 of the raspberry sauce to the mixture and mix well. Pour the mixture to a freezer proof container and put it to the freezer uncover. Follow as described above (*)....(**) After the second whisk, pour the remaining raspberry sauce to the cream mixture and use a knife gently swirl it into the cream mixture.
Ice cream making without the maker! Enjoy!
Really like these two photos...many shades of green..colourful! and the messiness and neatness (both have different kind of energy) in it.
A friend bought me the green tea powder from his recent trip to Tokyo. To repay his kindness, I made this ice cream for him. I think it is one of my best home made ice cream! Strong green tea freshness, just the right amount of sweetness!
The recipe of the ice cream can be found here...
Introducing the Golden Piggy Family!
The first attempt to learn to make these Chinese mooncake inspired pastry. The pastry skin is quite difficult to make. For this trial, instead of using home-made syrup (which I have already prepared few weeks ago. According to the recipe, the freshly made syrup must not be used until it is at least 2 weeks or more old), I read from some online resources, it is OK to substitute the home-made syrup with shop-bought golden syrup. And I also use ready-made sweet adzuki bean paste as the filling for my trial. When I have mastered the whole making process, I will do it properly again with all components home-made!
The recipe book I used for this experiment was a bilingual "Moonlit Mid-Autumn Festival" by Choong Su Yin. I bought the mooncake recipe book many years ago when I was in Malaysia visiting my family. I have read it MANY times, but not gutsy enough to try to make them in the kitchen! I am still trying to understand the original recipe from the book, which didn't tell me how long to bake these piggies in the oven. The temperature of 180'C stated in the book seems way too hot for this sweet pastry dough. Maybe I should not have substituted the home-made syrup with the golden syrup? Maybe the temperature of my oven is too hot? Maybe the ready-made filling is not cooked as per instructed as the recipe?
But I am quite happy with this first attempt. The flavour is not too bad, sweet scented pastry skin. (slightly too golden syrupy!) A few more attempts to learn the process I think. I am excited!
Note: 26.01.2013 - The pastry skin soften after 2 days which make it really close to those shop-bought mooncake's texture. Really quite tasty now!
Variation 1: Oven Dried Yellow Plantain with Cinnamon Honey Greek Yoghurt Sauce
This is so easy to make and (I think) quite health too as breakfast or snacks in the afternoon. All you have to do is slice the yellow plantain, diagonally, approximately 5mm thick. Lightly oil a baking sheet and arrange the plantain slices on top and dry it in the pre-heated oven, at around 150'C, until the slices are dehydrated. You may want to stop the drying process just before the the slices are completely dry. This will give you a slightly "meaty" end product.
To make the cinnamon yoghurt sauce, mix a generous couple tablespoonful of TOTAL 0% Greek yoghurt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder (or more depending on your taste) and 1 tablespoonful honey together. Done!
Variation 2: Deep Fried Yellow Plantain with Honey Greek Yoghurt Sauce
This is very much a typical Malaysian street food - "Goreng Pisang" (Deep Fried Plantain). For the batter, I mixed the following ingredients together:
Heat generous amount of oil in a deep pan or prepare the deep fat frier. Coat well the plantain (large slices) in the batter and deep fry them until golden brown. Drain excess oil with kitchen towel.
Serves it with honey and TOTAL 0% Greek Yoghurt sauce. It is quite a refreshing combination. The yoghurt sauce kind of calm the "heaty-ness" of the deep fried plantain. Yum!