Monday, May 31, 2010

Molten Chocolate Cake

Category: Dessert
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Makes 6 individual servings

6 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp all purpose flour
additional butter and flour for baking cups
icing sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F.
Butter 7 6-oz custard cups, dust with flour. (You’ll have one extra cake just in case any of them cannot be unmold.)
Put chocolate and butter in a bowl. Microwave until melted, stirring every 20 seconds.
Soak egg (in shells) in warm water for 2 minutes.
Beat egg, egg yolks, sugar and salt un til thick but light, about 10 minutes. Sift in flour, fold to combine. Add chocolate, fold to combine.
Divide batter evenly into the prepare cups.
Bake for 14 minutes or until the cake is cooked on the outside but soft on the inside. When baking, do not open the oven door.
Take cake out from the oven. Let rest for 1 minutes. Revert them onto dessert plates. Let stand at least 10 seconds before lifting the custard cups off.
Garnish with icing sugar.

Soaking the eggs in warm water gives the egg a fuller body when whisked, which will result in a lighter cake. But be careful with the water temperature. Do not cook the eggs! You should be able to soak your hand in the water without hurting.
When dusting the custard cups with flour, remember to dust up to and including the rim of the cups. This will make the unmolding much easier.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Roast Portobello Mushroom with Garlic Balsamic Jam

Category: Appetizer
Style: Fusion
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 4

4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
salt, pepper and olive oil to taste
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 head garlic
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400F.
To make Garlic Balsamic Jam: Trim off top portion of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in oven for 30 minutes until tender. Squeeze out garlic flesh and mesh. Set aside.
In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar. Whisk in sugar.
In a small saucepan, on medium heat, reduce remaining balsamic vinegar by half. Add cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened, whisking continuously, about 3 minutes. Stir in roasted garlic.
To roast mushroom: On a baking sheet, lay Portobello caps sides up. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Roast in oven for 10 minutes each side. Remove and let cool.
Serve hot and brush with balsamic jam.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rosemary Lamb Cutlets with Truffle Oil Mash

Category: Main Course, Meat
Style: French, Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 4

8 lamb cutlets
16 sprigs rosemary
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp seeded mustard
truffle oil mash
2 russett potatoes
2 oz butter
1/2 cup cream
truffle infused oil

Trim cutlets and tie sprigs of rosemary around each cutlet.
Combine oil and mustard, and brush over lamb.
To make the truffle oil mash, peel and chop potatoes. Place potatoes in a saucepan of boiling water and cook until they are soft, then drain.
Place butter and cream in pan and cook until butter is melted and cream is hot. Add potatoes to pan and mash until smooth. Season mash with salt.
To cook lamb, preheat a frypan or grill over high heat. Add cutlets to pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until lamb is cooked to your liking.
To serve, place mash on serving plates and drizzle with truffle oil. Place cutlets on plate with mesh.

You can serve the lamb with more mustard on the side. Traditionally we serve lamb with mint jelly, but seeded mustard surprisingly enhance the flavour of the lamb well.
You can adjust the amount of butter and cream you use in the mash to your liking. Some people like smoother mash, and some like chunkier mash.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thai Coconut Prawns

Category: Appetizer
Style: Fusion
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Makes 24

24 uncooked prawns
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1.5 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil two cookie sheet.
Shell and devein prawns. Thread one prawn on each bamboo skewer.
Coat prawns in flour, shake away excess; dip into egg, then coat in coconut.
Place skewers on prepared cookie sheet in single layer. Bake uncovered about 15 minutes or until prawns are cooked through and coconut coating is golden.
Meanwhile, combine ingredients for sauce in a small bowl.
Serve hot with sauce.

Prawns can be skewered and dipping sauce can be made a day ahead. Cover; refrigerate until required.
Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for at least an hour before use. Otherwise, the skewers will be burnt in the oven.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Radicchio with Thai Crab Salad

Category: Appetizer
Style: Fusion
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Makes 32 servings

1/8 cup water
1/8 cup lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
1 Thai red chili, seeded, chopped finely
250 g imitation crab meat, roughly chopped
1/2 cucumber, seeded, chopped finely
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped finely
1 green onion, sliced thinly
3 radicchio

To make dressing: combine water, lime juice, sugar and chili in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate until completely cold.
Combine crab meat, cucumber, red bell papper, green onion and dressing in a medium bowl. Mix well.
Trim ends from radicchio; separate leaves.
Place 1 heaped teaspoon of the crab salad on each leaf. Serve cold.

You can also use lettuce or other vegetables instead of radicchio.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Italian Tomato and Bocconcini Salad Skewers

Category: Appetizer
Style: Italian
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Makes 10 skewers

20 cherry tomatoes
1 fresh bocconcini, cut into 10 bite sized chunks
10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Italian mix dried herbs

To make dressing: Mix all ingredients. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Blanch basil leaves in a pot of boiling water for 5 seconds, then immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Drain and set aside.
Mix tomatoes and bocconcini with dressing in a mixing bowl.
Wrap each bocconcini chunk with a basil leaf. Thread bocconcini, sandwiched by 2 cherry tomatoes, on a skewer. Serve.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Warm Lemon Sponge

Category: Dessert
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Makes 8 servings

3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
Lemon Syrup
1/2 cup lemon juice, strained
1/2 cup sugar

To make lemon syrup: but lemon juice and sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Cook until sugar has dissolved and bubbly. Remove from heat, let cool.
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease and sugar 8 4-oz ramekins
Warm eggs in their own shell by soaking them in warm water.
Whip eggs and sugar in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until very pale and airy, about 10-15 minutes.
Sift together dry ingredients.
Combine butter, vanilla, zest and juice and set aside.
Reduce speed on mixer to low and add dry ingredients quickly but not all at once, until almost blended. Add butter mixture, and mix just until blended.
Spoon cake mixture evenly between ramekins, leaving 1/2 inch at the top for expansion.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until cake is golden and springs back when you touch it.
Drizzle cake with lemon syrup and serve immediately.

Warming the eggs first will help them trap more air when whisked, thus making the cakes more airy and light.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Watermelon Granita

Category: Dessert
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 12

1/2 seedless watermelon
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
juice of 1 lime or lemon
2 tbsp vodka or gin
fresh mint leaves for garnish

Cut watermelon into large chunks. Put on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet in one layer and freeze completely.
In several batches, put watermelon, sugar, lime juice and vodka into the food processor and process until resemble coarse salt. Garnish with fresh mint leaves if desired. Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mushroom Soup

Category: Soup
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

1 ounce dried mushrooms, such as porcini (about 1 cup)
1 cup boiling water
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalk, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 lb cremini or white mushrooms, caps and stems thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tsp teaspoon salt
1 cup dry white wine (or substitute with apple juice or white graph juice)
4 cups Beef or Chicken stock
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon, plus sprigs for garnish
2 oz Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler
Black pepper

Soak dried mushrooms in boiling water, covered, until soft, about 20 minutes. Lift out mushrooms; squeeze over liquid. Finely chop; set aside. Pour liquid through a fine sieve into a bowl; reserve.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion, garlic, and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are soft, about 12 minutes. Raise heat to high. Add wine, reserved mushrooms and liquid, stock, and 3 cups water; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 30 minutes. Add chopped tarragon.
Serve immediately. Garnish with cheese shavings and fresh tarragon springs.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Maple Syrup Roast Yam

Category: Vegetable
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

2 yam (also works with pumpkin or butternut squash)
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 oz butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450F.
Peel and wash yam. Cut into quarters.
Put in a roasting pan and drizzle with maple syrup and melted butter. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Baste with syrup often.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cinnamon Bun Pudding

Category: Dessert
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

3 large cinnamon bun, icing removed
4 cups milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar, + 2 tbsp for sprinkling
1/4 cup brown sugar
8 eggs

Let cinnamon buns dry overnight (or if in a hurry, chill in the fridge).
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Slice cinnamon buns across, creating 2 spiral-looking halves.
Butter a 9-by-13 inch baking pan and arrange slices into pan.
Heat milk and vanilla just to a simmer.
In a bowl whisk together sugars and eggs. Adding a little at a time, whisk milk into eggs until all is incorporated.
Pour over buns and press down to let mixture soak in. Sprinkle top of pudding with sugar.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until centre of pudding springs back when pressed.
Serve warm.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Candied Apple Bake

Category: Dessert
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Makes 8 individual servings

1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
6 cups water
1 lemon, sliced
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into medium chunks
2 cups apple sauce
cinnamon and sugar for dusting
melted butter for brushing
For sugar glass
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350F
To make sugar glass: In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tbsp water. Cook until lightly caramel in colour. Add 2 tbsp butter. Lay one 8.5" x 11" sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and spread sugar very thinly with a spatula. Let harden and break into 8 pieces, each large enough to cover a 6 oz custard cup. The glass can be made ahead of time.
To make apple filling: In another saucepan over medium heat, lightly caramelize sugar in butter. Carefully add water. Add lemon and bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add apple chunks to syrup and poach until slightly tender. Remove and cool.
Divide apple sauce evenly into 8 6-oz custard cups. Cover with apple chunks, dust with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until apple is tender. Brush apples with melted butter 5 minutes before they are done.
Place a piece of sugar glass over top of apple bake. Return to oven for 3 minutes. The glass will wilt over apples, then harden again like candy and should crunch with a fork.
Serve hot.

When caramelizing sugar, be careful not to touch the sugar with your hand, because melted sugar is much hotter than boiling water and can seriously burn your skin. Be cautious also when adding cold water to hot caramel. It may splatter. Use an oven mitten to protect your hand and avoid burning.

Grilled Burgers with Lime-laced Yogurt Sauce

Category: Main Course
Style: Fusion
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

1 small red onion
4 cloves garlic
4 eggs
2 lb ground beef
2 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1.5 tsp lime juice
zest of 1/2 lime
1 or 2 tsp chili-garlic sauce

Finely chop onion. Mince garlic. In a medium-size bowl, whisk eggs. Add meat. Sprinkle with onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Using your hand, mix just until blended. Overworking the meat will result in tough burgers.
Divide misture into 8 portions and shape into 1-inch thick burgers, about 3.5 inch wide. Place burger on a barbeque and grill until done.
You can also place burger under a broiler. Set rack at the top third of the oven. Place burgers on a roasting rack set on top of a tray. Broil until done, turning once.
In a small bowl, stir yogurt with cilantro, lime juice, lime zest and chili-garlic sauce. Spoon sauce overtop burgers. Serve with buns or English muffin.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cauliflower Puree

Category: Vegetable
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

2 heads cauliflower, stem and tough stalks trimmed, florets roughly chopped (about 3 to 3.5 lb)
2 cups water or chicken stock
2-3 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
salt and pepper to taste

Combine cauliflower and water or chicken stock in a large pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, but reserve cooking liquid.
Transfer cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about 20 seconds. (You may need to do this in batches)
Add sour cream and butter, and process 10 more seconds until combined.
If the puree is too thick, add a little bit of cooking liquid to dilute.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Instead of boiling the cauliflower in stock, you can also steam the cauliflower with a steamer. Add some chicken stock powder to taste if desired.
You can also add a little bit of Dijon mustard to generate some heat.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Summer Citrus Prawns Skewers

Category: Appetizer
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

1 lb frozen tiger prawn, thawed, peeled and deveined
3 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp chili-garlic sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
wooden skewers

Soak skewers in water for 20 minutes to prevent burning.
In a large bowl, stir orange juice with chili-garlic sauce, oil, sugar, ginger and orange zest. Add prawns. Stir until evenly coated. Marinate for 30 minutes.
Thread 3 prawns on each skewer and place on a rack set on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until prawns are cooked, 2-3 minutes. Turn prawns over and continue broiling until cooked through, another 2-4 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour leftover sauce into a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Continue cooking and reduce sauce to 1/3 cup, approximately 7 minutes. Serve sauce on the side or brush over cooked prawns.
(3.9g carb per serving)

You can also cook the prawns skewers on the barbeque.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Corona-Steamed Tiger Prawns Kebabs with Pineapple Salsa

啤酒蒸虎蝦串 配鳳梨莎莎
Category: Appetizer
Style: Western
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

2 tbsp honey
1 lime
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
32 tiger prawns (about 1 lb), peeled and deveined
1 to 2 bottles Corona
salt and pepper to taste
Pineapple Salsa
1 16 oz. can pineapple tidbits
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2.5 tsp chopped jalapeno chili pepper
1/4 tsp grated lime peel
salt to taste

To make salsa: Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Season with salt. Set aside.
Cut lime in half. Set one half aside and juice the other half.
To make glaze: Whisk together honey, lime juice, soy sauce and mustard and set glaze aside.
Thread 4 prawns onto each of eight bamboo skewers.
Pour Corona into a large pot set over medium heat. There should be at least 1/4 inch of liquid at the bottom of the pot. . Bring beer to a simmer.
Season the skewers with salt and pepper, then put skewers in a steamer. Squeeze the remaining lime half over the skewers. Place on a steaming rack in the pot, cover and steam until the prawns are cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Remove the kebabs from the steamer and brush with glaze. Serve immediately with pineapple salsa.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Ginger and Milk Pudding

Category: Dessert
Style: Chinese
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Makes 2 servings

2 cups milk
3 tbsp sugar
4 tsp ginger juice

To make ginger juice: grate fresh ginger with a grater. Pass through a sift and press with a spoon to obtain juice.
Put 2 tsp of ginger juice at the bottom of each of 2 bowls.
Put milk and sugar in a saucepan. Attach a candy thermometer to the inside of the pot.
Bring milk to a boil, about 95C. Remove from heat. Stir milk to lower its temperature to 75C.
Pour milk vigorously into prepared bowls. Let stand 3 minutes and milk will solidify.
Serve immediately.

The temperature of the milk is critical. Use a thermometer to ensure that the milk is at the right temperature. Candy thermometer is available at kitchen supplies store (like Ming Wo) and most dollar shops.
Milk needs to be between 70C and 80C to solidify. It cannot be either too hot or too cold.
Use Chinese ginger for this recipe. The ginger juice should looks milky. Ginger from Hawaii with clear juice cannot solidify the milk.
The texture of the pudding should resemble very watery sweet tofu pudding. It will not be completely solid like steam custard.
If you want to use skim milk, add 1 tsp of corn starch to the milk for a fuller texture. Make sure that there is no lumps.