Thursday, October 2, 2008

Banana and Chocolate Chip Bread

I haven't been blogging I know, but that doesn't mean I've been losing track of all the happenings going on! =) So I thought I'd make a comeback with a delicioso superdooper moist banana bread studded with chips of happiness, CHOCOLATE! =)

Melissa over at bakingasweetlife has come up with her second edition of Let It Grain and this edition's grain is millet. Understated and hardly used (by me) I thought it'd be timely to include millet flour in my banana bread. Also, the best part of this flour is that it's GLUTENFREE! whooopdeedoo.

Millet is highly nutritious, non-glutinous and like buckwheat and quinoa, is not an acid forming food so is soothing and easy to digest. In fact, it is considered to be one of the least allergenic and most digestible grains available and it is a warming grain so will help to heat the body in cold or rainy seasons and climates.

Millet is tasty, with a mildly sweet, nut-like flavor and contains a myriad of beneficial nutrients. It is nearly 15% protein, contains high amounts of fiber, B-complex vitamins including niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin, the essential amino acid methionine, lecithin, and some vitamin E. It is particularly high in the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.

Sounds good to me. =)

I adapted a recipe from my latest darling, Carole Bloom's The Essential Baker. It's meant to be a Banana Loaf Cake with Walnuts and Dried Apricots but I'm sick so I couldn't bring myself to go to the store and getting apricots and walnuts. And I didn't feel like nuts. I just wanted chocolate. The funny thing though, because I've been sneezing and coughing my brains out, I forgot to put the starch into the glutenfree flour mix. But I didn't realize it until now...but it didn't seem to affect it much. Fred and I both agreed it tasted really good, moist, soft, sweet, chocolatey and prettydarnyummy

So here goes...

1/4 cup brown sugar + 2 tbsp white sugar
2tbsp canola oil
2tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1tbsp honey
1 large (x-Large) egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1) Whisk all together until creamy and thick

1 egg white

2) Whisk in a clean grease-free bowl until stiff peaks form

1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup millet flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp almond meal
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda

3) Mix this flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture.

2 medium mashed bananas (VERYVERY ripe)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

4) Stir bananas, choc and cinnamon into flour mixture.

5) Fold whisked egg whites into cake mixture.

6) Bake in a loaf tin at 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes (I didn't really keep track of the time)

7) Wait for it to cool completely before cutting and serving.

NOTES: I had the cake the day after and it was AMAZING. =) I had 3 slices... so I think you should give it a shot!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Strawberries in July

I find it strange, very peculiar indeed, to find strawberries in July. Beautiful, long-stemmed, crimson red, glossy skinned, plump and most definitely, sweet. You see, I wouldn't have a problem with this phenomenon if I were in any other part of the world. But I am in Australia. IT'S MEANT TO BE WINTER!!!

Well, I guess it was announced that the June just past was the warmest it has been for a long time, averaging 16 degrees celcius. Is that why? It's not a good thing I bet since it's obviously a big smack in the face for us about global warming, or as they like to say it here in Australia... "climate change". Such is a euphemism for something so devastatingly horrid. I promise I will turn off the humidifier when I leave the house next time. =)

But in any case, I did succumb to the $2.50 a punnet strawberries and bought myself 3! And all I wanted was to have them in my big bowl of granola in the morning and of course, a tart. A buttery and sweet tart crust lined with my beautiful strawberries topped with a raspberry jam glaze. No curds, custards or cremes. HAPPYHAPPY!

Seeing that this tart would fit in snugly with Joelen's FRUIT FRENZY theme over at her blog, I will join her in her cooking adventure! Head over to her blog to check out future events and the roundup! =)

Tart Crust adapted from Sharing Sweet Secrets by Pamela Moriarty
8 tbsp white rice flour
2 tbsp almond meal
2 tbsp coconut flour (may replace with rice flour)
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tbsp potato starch
1/4 cup cornflour
2 tbsp glutinous rice flour
1 tbsp gf custard powder (optional)
2 tbsp caster sugar
50g coconut oil (it will be hard, straight from the fridge)
30ml grapeseed oil
1 egg

1) Place flours, custard powder and sugar into a food processor and whizz.
2) Add in coconut oil (hardened) and oil and whizz again (10-15 seconds)
3) crack egg into the food processor bowl and pulse until combined. It may look wet but keep whizzing. Add 1 tbsp coconut flour if too wet.
4) Add 1-2 drops of water IF NECESSARY
5) Remove pastry from food processor and press* into prepared tin. (20 or 22 cm tin)
6) Freeze in tin for 10-15 minutes before baking at 190 degrees celcius for 18-22 minutes or until cooked through.
7) Cool before filling with strawberries.
* My pastry was too wet from the oil to be rolled out.

To Assemble:
1-250g punnet of large strawberries
3 tbsp raspberry jam, warmed.

1) Remove stems of berries and halve. Arrange on top of baked tart shell and glaze with raspberry jam. Serve chilled or warm. =)


I'm back! =) I've been missing because my camera's been dead so I haven't been able to take ANY photos. But since my mom so kindly bought me a brand-spankin'-new one, I'm here to celebrate! Yippee!

I had 4 egg whites leftover from a dairy-free vanilla creme anglaise I made for to go with my new-found love, sticky date pudding, and because I NEVER have egg whites lying around, I was desperate to find the RIGHT recipe since such a chance is so rare. I wanted to make this meringue pie crust, or baby meringues to crush with fresh strawberries and the vanilla creme anglaise but I reallllyy wanted to make these cookies I had a few days back. I'll describe them to you... they were flat-ish, and filled with almond silvers and chunks and chocolate bits scattered throughout it's chewy interior, all enrobed with a crunchy exterior. BUT I CAN'T FIND A RECIPE FOR IT.. I don't even know what it's called. Does anyone have any idea for a recipe? I asked the chef what was in it and she said eggwhites, almonds and sugar. Sounds simple but it's hurting my brain trying to figure it out... I settled for this recipe in the end. Both Fanny and Mary have used the recipe, each with their own interpretations... =) I followed Fanny's recipe, with the addition of chocolate slivers and chopped toasted nuts (I used toasted walnuts).

Something funny happened though. The first batch of my cookies I baked in the lowest shelf of my oven had their bottoms perfectly browned while the ones I baked in the middle shelf was still kinda..wet when I tried to peel them off the baking paper. Still yummy no doubt but... do you know why that happened??? Now those from the second shelf look like they have hollow bottoms! Maybe I should just fill the holes with chocolate icecream and be done with that! yum.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Celebrate with me

Hello everyone!

As I keep repeating to myself that I must be happy, I have something to shareeee! I'm inviting you to my 'END.OF.ESSAYS' party. =) It's pretty lonely to celebrate it alone so I made a cake to celebrate with me. =) It's more fun feeling lonely with cake than sans cake. Besides, it kept me really occupied-so much so that I forgot to each lunch. I KNOW! I NEVER forget to eat. Oh, could also be due to the fact that I ate allllllll the scraps of fluffy cake with the leftover lemoncurd filling, all smooshed in a little ramekin, topped with the leftover icing. I know I know. Could it been any more nutritious?


But then it'll mean what I look forward to the most will be gone: FRED'S EXPRESSION!

must.must.i must...resist. Oh well, there are still blocks of un-iced, un-filled cake. I'll have that while I wait.

Here's what I used:
1.5 x Vegan vanilla sponge from here
1 x lemon curd recipe from here
1 x Sugar Dough recipe (below)
1 x Sugar Icing recipe (below)
1 x Piped Sugar Icing (below)

Sugar Dough (Recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller August 2006)

3/4 tbsp powdered gelatine
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
250gm icing sugar, extra 15g icing sugar for firming
65 gm cornflour, plus extra for dusting
tiny drop pink food coloring

1) Combine 55ml warm water, gelatine and cream of tartar in a bowl, stand for 5 minutes then stir until it dissolves. (I put mine in the microwave for a minute coz it didn't dissolve)
2) Combine the 250gm icing sugar with the 65gm cornflour with an electric mixer with paddle attachment, add gelatine mixture and 1 drop of food coloring and beat until dough forms. (I had to add a few tbsp more icing sugar). Tip of onto a floured bench and knead for a minute until smooth. Return to bowl, cover with a damp towel and rest for an hour. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. Makes 300gm.

Process 100gm of sugar dough with 15gm of icing sugar in a food processor until its malleable. It comes together when you use a spoon to stir. Rest dough for 2-3 minutes then put on a bench dusted with icing sugar. Roll out with rolling pin until 2mm thick. Use heart shaped cutters to cut out. Place onto baking paper to dry. =)

Sugar Icing (from Australian Gourmet Traveller August 2006)

Beat 200gm pure icing sugar with 1 tbsp liquid glucose and 2 tbsp margarine (butter) until combined. Add in 1 tbsp boiling water and beat with electric mixer for 6 minutes until smooth and shiny. Add food coloring if desired. Spread icing immediately on cake and scatter with sugar hearts. Stand for one hour for icing to set before serving. =)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Heart Of The Matter: Herbal Essence

I think I've only participated once in HotM. And as much as I always try to get my entries up before then and be super organized and email all the relevant people with the relevant information, I usually fail. Either that or I just miss the event altogether. This month's HotM is all about the glory of herbs hosted by the lovely Michelle at Accidental Scientist.

I have always associated herbs with medicine. I suppose being Chinese, the only time i heard the word herb was when it had to do with some form of medicine or another. Then came along the cooking shows and all these Western chefs had their fancy "a pinch of dried parsley" and "roughly torn basil leaves" and they were all "fresh from my [their] backyard". Now, I lived in an apartment all my life so who had a backyard? and basil... who? But things have changed now and while I still don't have a backyard, I've become accustomed to using herbs in my cooking. The question that remains often (since I rarely have a bunch of basil leaves lying around)?

In April 08's Delicious magazine, Rick Stein did an awesome feature for the magazine by introducing some new breakfast dishes. I am a breakfast freak. I wake up with only one thing on my mind-WHATS FOR BREAKFAST?! If it's going to be a dread, I'd rather stay in bed thanks. But if there's a bag of cherries lying in the fridge with a tall glass of cold soy milk-I'm out of bed before you can say sunshine. My weird obsession aside, I made Rick Stein's "Hugo's Breakfast Fishcakes" and if you ask me, Hugo made darn good fishcakes. =) The recipe called for ONE bay leaf. But I decided that I had no use for the rest of the bay leaves, so I buy it. Instead, I added lots of coriander and chives and "a pinch of dried basil". heh. And made it gluten free-obviously.

Hugo's Breakfast Fishcakes (makes 4, serves 2)
200g floury potato, cut into small cubes (should equate to one BIG potato)
150g skinless, boneless white fish fillet, cut into 2 cm cubes*
1/2 cup milk (use soy milk with a good pinch of salt)
pinch of dried basil
1 strip pared lemon rind, plus 1 tbsp juice and wedges to serve
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp rice flour
1 large egg, beaten
2 slices of gluten-free bread, made into fresh breadcrumbs**
snipped chives and sour cream to serve

1) Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and mash.
2) Place fish, soy milk, lemon rind and dried basil in a pot. Cover, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1-2 mins, until fish is cooked. Drain and reserve poaching liquid. Discard lemon rind. Set fish aside to cool.
3) Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft but not browned. Add in potato, fish, coriander, chives, good pinch of salt and lemon juice. Mix well, adding 1-2 tbsp of poaching liquid until mix holds together but isn't too sticky or wet*. Let cool.
4) Place flour, egg and breadcrumbs in separate shallow dishes. Using damp hand, form the fish mixture into 4 patties. Dip each patty into the flour then egg then breadcrumbs and set on a lined baking tray. Chill for at least an hour or better still, overnight.
5) Splash a good bit of olive oil over the patties and bake at 200 degrees celcius for about 10 minutes, or until golden.

*I used blue grenadier and while skinning it, the fish began to flake, but I proceeded as per the recipe instructed, came out perfect.
** I took 2 slices of stale gluten free bread and chopped it into very tiny crumbly bits. Since GF bread is naturally drier, it didn't pose as a problem to chop it instead of using a food processor.
***The photo I used is from the April 2008 issue of Delicious. I gobbled up the fishcakes before I could take a photo of them. =(

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gluten Free Hazelnut Blondies

There has always been a fascination between me and Nutella. My mom was not one to buy it for breakfast, I don't know why though. While peanut butter was a staple, Nutella was a treat I bought for 30cents at the corner shop in one of those individual pull-open packaging. But I suppose if we did have it at home, I would've eaten way too much. So now that I am older and wiser, I am capable of practicing self control which therefore renders me worthy of having a jar of choc-hazelnut spread at home (I bought a bio-dynamic one, not Nutella). And so in the event that such a recipe catches my eye, I have all the ingredients on hand. And because it's just ONE and a half heaping tablespoon spread throughout the entire batch of blondies, I suppose I am practicing self restraint when I have half the batch for lunch (maybe with a smidgen more choc-hazelnut spread on top). I mean it though, I really did have half the batch. shhh, Fred doesn't need to know.

Gluten Free Hazelnut Blondies adapted from here
It looks like alot of different flours but feel free to just substitute the flours as you deem fit. I'm sure 2 cups of G.F. all-purpose flour will work just fine.

4 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 cup white rice flour*
2 tbsp tapioca starch*
2 tbs potato starch*
4 tbsp corn starch*
2 tbsp buckwheat flour*
4 tbsp almond meal*
2 tbsp sweet rice flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1.25 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts (either skin on or off, I left mine on)
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 heaping tbsp choc-hazelnut spread, like Nutella

1) Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius. Grease an 8 x 11 inch pan, line with parchment and grease again
2) Whisk flours, baking owder and salt
3) Mix sugar and oil until well moistened. Beat eggs and vanilla in. Add flour mix and stir (batter will be stiff at first, but it will come together). Add in chopped nuts and Nutella.
4) Bake for 25 minutes, or until few crumbs stick onto skewer inserted. Rest for 15 minutes and cut into squares. Serve with a dollop of Nutella. Or really, just eat it from the pan, who wants extra dishes anyway?
* Flour mix adds up to 2 cups.
Photo is from I had to borrow it since I can't find my camera cable. I DID take photos though!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

White wine, olive oil and polenta cake

This recipe was the one I was talking about yesterday. It comes from June 2008's issue of Delicious, written by Rick Stein.

It's very Italian to me, or at least Mediterranean. The taste of the olive oil is very prominent and I thought that maybe if I left it for a day, the olive oil taste might be a little more mellow. Turned out, I was wrong, I tried it this morning and it's still there. I did reduce the amount of oil called for and added a tbsp and a half of lemon juice. The lemon taste is beautiful bolstered by the white wine. Rick called for a sauvignon blanc or riesling, but I had an opened bottle of chardonnay so I used that instead. The aromas weaving through my little apartment was so promising, so I was a little disappointed by the strong olive oil taste. It made me feel like I was eating oily cake which isn't appetizing...not very anyway. The lemon and wine made things a heap better, or perhaps I'm just not used to it. Fred liked it though but it wasn't our favourite.

Also something went funny when I tried mixing the flour into the liquid batter. It got clumpy and scary so I did something bad...I just used my hand mixer to whisk in the flour until it was homogenous. I know, I shouldn't have, especially when the eggs had been ribboned prior. But better than eating bits of flour I suppose. Do try out the recipe since it's so simple and let me know what I did wrong. It's simple enough to try again.

White Wine, Olive Oil and Polenta Cake (serves 8)
2 eggs
250g caster sugar (I used 175g)
150 ml white wine (such as sauvignon blanc or riesling)
150 ml olive oil (i used 125ml + 1 tbsp lemon juice)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
175g plain flour (I used 1 cup rice and 1/4 tapioca and potato starch each + 1 tbsp almondmeal)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 instant polenta ( I used 1/4 cup polenta and almond meal each)
Icing sugar, to dust.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius. Grease and line the base and sides of a 24 cm springform cake pan.
Place eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk using an electric hand whisk. Whisk for 10 minutes or until thick enough to form ribbons when you trail it on the surface.
Gently beat in the white wine, olive oil, vanilla and lemon zest and juice. Sift over the flour and baking powder.
Gently fold it with a metal spoon until just conbined, then fold in the polenta and almond meal. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

*oh, I just realized, I didn't sift the flour over the liquids, I merely tipped it in... oops.