Food for the weekend

weekday tea

weekday tea

The longest days are those that can’t decide what sort of days they want to be. Or those that can, and you’re not quite agreeable on how it wants to be.

Thursdays need to be the new Friday. And in order for that to magically happen, plans need to be made and good plans at that. None of your half-hearted let’s-have-dinner plans. I’m thinking more along the lines of let’s-grab-a-cocktail-and-laugh-until-our-sides-hurt type of night. Easier said than done, but really, all it takes is a little commitment…for me, it’s commitment to not give into the couch potato in me who’s idea of a good time is staring uselessly at a TV screen. Honestly, I recall none of those nights. I do recall the ones where I end up befriending everybody at the bar and laughing at funny alcohol names. Note to self: sloe gin is not slow gin. It was not, contrary to my belief, made slowly. 

Yes, you may laugh at me.

While we’re laughing, I need to confess  haven’t much of a recipe to share today. Perhaps more of a wishlist of recipes I hope to make soon. A dinner party may be in order. Any takers?

Appetiser: Perhaps a little spicy and tangy to start? I agree. Green papaya salad (Som Tum) is a staple in Thai cuisine, and one of those get-the-appetite-going type of thing.

Main: Since I’ve always thought beans in veggie burgers contribute to a whole lot of farting, boy am I glad that this one is gluten-free and tempeh based!

Dessert: Nothing better than layer upon layer upon layer or crepes, filled with orange diplomat cream. Hello Thomas Keller, you’re a genius. Since I don’t live in NY, I shall just have to make do with making my own version of his crepe cake. Yeah, jealous yet?

Have a lovely Thursday start to your weekend folks!

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Brainchild of Halloween

I feel like I’ve been having the greatest kind of days. You too? Nice.

Each day deviated from the original plans. I met one of my closest friends the other day,with the intention of being all big-girl-like and having a fancy dinner followed by drinks at a swanky new joint. Only thing is we made it to the most cliche old-school dinner place in town (the kind that used to be cool when your mom was your age), cheap manicures, flea markets and a much-deserved foot massage. Oh, and those drinks? Swapped it with bubble tea instead.

And yesterday was meant to be productive, only thing is I spent it watching Harry Potter and baking cupcakes. But it was pretty awesome. And today, the beach was on the agenda, but after a late night of dancing, I think it’s going to be more Harry Potter and eating cupcakes. Probably a horror movie thrown in somewhere all in the spirit of Halloween.

My point is, no matter how you plan things, anticipate the scenarios, draw up a five-year route you’re going to take,it’s really rather amazing to go along with a bit of hope that someone’s got a plan you never thought of, but brings you along anyway. I used to get panicky every time I felt the pressure to come up with something, like I needed to conjure a well-thought of road map, with all my back up plans in place. Plus, the hazard that comes with the work I do requires I think of the worst case scenario in every scenario. But the greatest thing comes when you see that it’s okay to not have a plan, or have a plan different from what people expect you to have. I can deal with different.

I can deal with dancing to the music inside my head. I can deal with laughing at things people don’t find that funny. I can deal with eating ice cream for dinner. I can deal with picnics in the living room. And the best thing is, he can deal with me.

To get started, let’s not make pretty cupcakes. Let’s go all cool and CSI-like. Let’s go with brains.

Brain Cupcakes (Chocolate Mud Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream)

Chocolate Mud Cupcakes (adapted from The Crabapple Bakery Cookbook)

3 tbsp instant coffee granules
3/4 cup hot water
250g butter, unsalted
300g dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups GF flour blend
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder

1) Preheat oven to 160°C. Line three 12-hole cupcake tins with cupcake cases.

2) Dissolve coffee in hot water. Put the butter, chocolate and coffee into a metal bowl, set over a bain marie, and stir gently until butter and chocolate are thoroughly melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and buttermilk until combined. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture and mix until well combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until homogenous.

4) Divide evenly between the 28 cupcake cases and bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To Frost:

1) Fit a piping bag with a 6 or 8 mm round piping tip. Fill bag with the buttercream.

2) To get the design, pipe 2 straight lines down the centre of the cupcakefollowed by a repeated swirl on either sides. For the ‘blood’, the consistency of lightly warmed cherry/raspberry jam works well. Ensure the jam has NO seeds.

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So, You Want to Touch My Ganache?

I’ve been having a disappointing run with the shops. It’s almost as if the universe is conspiring with my wallet to stop me from buying things. I mean, what’s up with 4 hours of shopping and not buying anything?

I know…failure.

But maybe it’s the universe’s way of saying “don’t give up”.

The late nights, frustrated phone calls, missed gym sessions have clearly taken a toll; as my shopping craving rightfully points out. Let’s throw in the seasonal insomnia,uninspired outfits and constant migraines, and I’m a whine bomb.

Still I persevere, whether it’s for that dress, or maybe just to make my way to December. In this case, even after ‘knowing’ the right way of making ganache, trying this new version has just made it all worth it. Worth the extra steps, worth the unsettled feelings I’ve had towards other ganache recipes and worth taking that chance.

The things worth doing are never easy.

Silky  Chocolate Ganache (adapted from Miette)

10 ounces chocolate, 60% or darker, chopped
2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1) Combine chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl

2) In  a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Nest the bowl over a pain of simmering water to create a bain marie. Heat, stirring, until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from heat.

3) Whisk the egg yolks in a small heatproof bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup of the melted chocolate mixture into the yolks while whisking, to temper them. Pour the tempered mixture back into the pan of chocolate and whisk to combine. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Pour the hot ganache through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean heatproof bowl.

4) Use the ganache immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Ganache does not freeze well.

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Earl Grey & Strawberry Cupcakes

I just realised that Narwhals are real. I can almost hear Homer going ‘D’OH!’ in my head. Since I’ve long associated these one-horned creatures with unicorns, it was pretty much a natural assumption to make.

Again, D’OH!

Now I can’t decide if they’re as magical.

Today was catch up with mom and little sister day. So we tried our best to eat enjoy a leisurely lunch. Sounds like a chore; but it really is especially when we’re a family of gobble-gobble eaters. Blame it on not wanting to eat cold food, or rushing to catch the next next cartoon on tele, we just don’t do slow very well. In fact, I’d say you were silly if you tried. But then someone caught our eye and our conversation slowed, the chopsticks didn’t snap the food as quickly and the tea started to get cold. He walked in, big smile, the waitresses greeted him warmly like they knew who he was. So, who was he? Soon he was joined by a younger lady and another gentleman of a similar age. And it felt slightly rude to stare but he reminded us so much of our grandfather.

My grandfather was a force to be reckoned with; he clean out an entire fish in the amount of time it took to for us to reach the dinner table. His jokes were so funny we still make reference to them now. He could clear out a whole room full of people with his…farts.

That’s my grandfather.

Needless to say, my little sister and I thought of all sorts of lines to get us a hug from that cute old man, but decided we didn’t want to interrupt his lunch. Considerate much.

Earl Grey Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting (cupcake adapted from Primrose Bakery’s book)

Cake
125ml milk
4 earl grey teabags
2 eggs
120g butter
120g sugar
250g GF flour blend
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1) In a small saucepan, heat the milk until almost boiling. Remove from heat and steep the teabags for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170°C, fanforced. Line mini cupcake tins with paper liners or if not using liner, grease well.

2) In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until lightened in colour. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.

4) Add in the vanilla. beat well.

5) Add the flour and milk alternately to the egg mixture and beat until just combined. Divide equally between prepare cupcake tins. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

6) Allow to cool completely before removing from tins. Frost with strawberry cream cheese.

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{Daddy’s Girl} Strawberry Birthday Cake

There are photos. The ones you wish no one took. The ones that make you wish you were young again. The ones that remind you of the good ol’ days. The ones that you had forgotten existed. And then the best sort; the ones that make you smile and if you looked hard enough, takes you back to the exact moment it happened. You know the ones. It’s probably the photos you take out to show anyone who wants a peek into your life. Doesn’t really matter if the dress and glasses you had on looked super dorky. Or that you’re the chubby 4 year old that the other kids poked fun at. The truth is, dad was the best dance partner who had a few groovy boogie moves and mom took a mighty good photo.

Dad woke up in good spirits today, feeling rather smug he made it to 55 and still livin’ it up like the hipster he is. Surely he can’t be that old since we spent the last hour syncing his iPhone full of songs; Above and Beyond, Maroon 5 and Bon Jovi. Plus, the fact that he recognised the importance of having a birthday cake (sort of hinted I should bake him one…) makes him SUPER RAD.

Happy birthday dad!

Birthday Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese

1.5 recipe x GF Genoise; bake in 3 x 6inch round tins. Cool completely.
Strawberry Coulis
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
Creme Chantilly

Strawberry Coulis
250g frozen strawberries (frozen berries ensure consistency in flavour)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp rose water OR 2 tsp Rose Syrup (I used Royal Rose NY)
1 tsp vanilla

1) Thaw berries in the microwave or overnight.
2) Process berries and its juices in the blender until smooth. Leave the seeds in.
3) Place the liquid berries into a small saucepan. Add in all other ingredients.
4) On medium heat, cook the sauce until it thickens. Allow to cool completely.

Strawberry Cream Cheese
250g cream cheese, room temperature
60g butter, room temperature
1.5 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup strawberry coulis

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth on LOW. Add in the icing sugar and beat well.
2) Slowly add in the strawberry coulis and beat well until combined on LOW. Use immediately or place in the fridge until ready to use.

Creme Chantilly
300ml whipping cream, very chilled
1/4 cup icing sugar

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the cream and icing sugar until medium peaks form. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

To Assemble
1) Mix 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tsp vanilla. This is your imbibing syrup.
2) Take 1 of the genoise layers and brush with imbibing syrup. This is your bottom later.
3) Top layer with 2 tbsp of strawberry coulis and spread evenly across the layer. Using a piping bag fitted with a 10mm round piping tip, pipe the strawberry cream cheese filling over the coulis in a circular motion. Top with second layer. Repeat with coulis and cream cheese.
4) Top with 3rd layer and brush top with imbibing syrup. Cover cake top and sides with the creme chantilly. Sprinkle rainbow happiness with wild abandonment.

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{The Fudgier, The Better} Brookies

I must’ve missed out on a lot, especially since I haven’t written in awhile. Have you started taking sugar with your tea? Have the flowers in the garden, blossomed? When did you get your haircut? I like the new streaks in your hair. Glad you went with the maxi dress for that party.

Things have been shifting around here. Some of the dresses I hardly wear have made it into the other wardrobe (the one filled with everyone’s other things); the weather seems to be going bi-polar; relationships have been moving forward (in a great way), I’ve shifted from scaredy cat to daredevil rollercoaster rider. Yeah sure it took a whole lot of convincing together with an insane amount of screaming and cussing but I made it.

So what’s new with you? Some days I figure there’s nothing quite new with me and it’s actually rather comforting. Plus I figure I’m too lazy to think about what’s really ‘new’ since I go through things everyday and it’s not particularly newsworthy. Maybe one day we’ll run out of things to talk about.

When that happens, we can stick to topics about the weather, food and shopping. And you’ll tell me how your day’s been, we’ll spend the afternoon with tea (or coffee, you pick) and something freshly baked. I reckon people always prefer it that way, you know, homemade with love and all that warm fuzzy feelings sort of thing. And if we realllyy end up with nothing but dry words, these Brookies are so fudgey (with a hint of cookie; brookie = brownie + cookie) that it’s almost impossible to talk with them in your mouth.

(non)Conversation sorted. You’re welcome.

Brookies (adapted from Clinton St Bakery)

2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup GF flour blend
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups couverture chocolate (55%)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter

1) Preheat oven to 170°C, fan forced. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment (or Silpat).

2) In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate, oil and butter in the microwave using 40 second bursts on med-high heat until melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

3) In another bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder together.

4) In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together. Slowly add in the melted chocolate and fold as you go. Fold in the flour mixture until no streaks of white are visible.

5) Place the batter on a shallow tray, such as a pie plate, and chill in the freezer for 6-8 minutes or until it firms up slightly.

6) Drop the batter in tablespoonfuls on the prepared baking tray and bake for 11 minutes or until the tops are crackly andslightly firm to touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from baking paper. Cookies will be fudgy and chewy. Milk isn’t mandatory but highly recommended for maximum pleasure.

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Walnut & Dark Chocolate Scones

One day I might get sick of Foster the People.

One day I will find the perfect chocolate cake recipe.

One day I’ll definitely have cereal for dinner.

One day I could get to see Orcas in real life.

One day I’m going to go shopping with wild abandonment.

One day I shall make my way to Vienna and Germany.

One day I hope to take my mom on a holiday.

Today though, I shall smell like walnut and dark chocolate scones, have lunch with some of my favourite people, then dinner with more favourite people, talk about everything over brownies, listen to more Foster the People, figure out how to do my hair and then change my mind all over again.

It’s really a lot easier focusing on all the things that keep you happy. Some days, the annoyingly optimistic kid in me reminds me that the best things about a crummy day is that it’ll eventually end. And when it does, you better be prepared to embrace the good stuff. There’s no waiting around for it to come back again; think about it…would you sit around while some random stranger comes and takes away the perfect dress?! Thought so.

Wait, is this me being smarter than usual?

I kid. The truth of the matter is, my dad came home for a surprise visit yesterday. My man bought me a cookbook just because. The cutest little boy loved the cake I baked so much that he gave me two thumbs up; twice, and wouldn’t share it with anyone else. My mom did a massive grocery shop up for me. My sister’s coming to dinner tonight. The other one’s thinking about us all the way in London.

It’s all love here!

Walnut and Dark Chocolate Scones [adapted from Gluten-free Gourmand]

1 3/4 cups GF flour blend
1/4 cup oat/sorghum flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
90g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
80g dark chocolate, chopped
50g walnuts, roughly chopped

1) Preheat oven to 210°C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or Silpat mat.

2) Mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

3) Whisk the cream, vanilla and egg together.

4) Cut the butter into the flour mix, either by hand, food processor or stand mixer until it resembles breadcrumbs.

5) Mix in the liquids until combined. Stir in the chocolate and walnuts.

6) Tip the scone batter onto the prepared tray and shape into a large rectangle, about 1.5 inches tall. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and gently cut into 9 pieces. Bake for a further 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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