Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Apple-pecan cheesecake

There is a nip in the air , a cool 25°C in the morning  but come noontime , it'll another hot day *sigh* I hope winter will come early here , I'm really fed up with you , summer ! 

I used the last of my cream cheese and one of the few times that it haven't got a chance to develop molds yet hee hee ! Planning on using it for another recipe of cream-cheese filled apple cake but don't have enough apples and eggs on hand . 

I've been wanting to make this cheesecake for quiet sometime but I always forget to buy pecans . This decadent treat appears during autumn/fall where apples are abundant . But don't worry , you can make this anytime , anywhere and whenever you have the urge . Definitely a nice change to the same old , same old blueberry/cherry/strawberry cheesecake ! 

Crust : 

90 grams gingersnaps , finely crushed 
20 grams unsalted butter , melted 

Filling :

235 grams cream cheese , at room temperature
90 grams caster sugar
150 ml soured cream , at room temperature 
1 large egg , at room temperature
1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping : 

1 Granny Smith , peeled , cored and roughly chopped 
50 grams toasted pecans , roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla sugar or raw/granulated sugar

* Grease a 6-inch square pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper , grease the parchment as well  . 

* Mix crushed gingersnaps and butter ; press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan , put pan in the freezer for 20 minutes . 

* Preheat oven to 160°C . 

* Place the cream cheese and sugar in a medium mixing bowl , beat over medium speed until light and smooth . Add in the cream and beat well until well combined ; add in the egg and vanilla , beat until just combined . Pour into the pan and gently drop the pan twice or thrice on the counter top to remove air bubbles . 

* Combine the ingredients for the topping , mix well  ; spoon mixture evenly on top of the cream cheese filling .

* Bake for 35-40 minutes . Let cheesecake cool inside the oven for 30 minutes , leaving door slightly ajar . Chill at least 4 hours or overnight before consuming .

This post is linked to the bloghop event , Little Thumbs Up , organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY . This month's APPLE theme is hosted by Kit of I Lost in Austen 


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Caramelized banana bread with browned butter glaze

Whenever I buy bananas , there are always some pieces left lurking on the table after few days and since nobody will touch it but me , either freeze the pathetic-looking pieces for smoothie or use them for baking . I already found my ideal banana bread , I like it cakey and sort of spongy , the Flour's Bakery recipe is the one I've been looking for a long time and I baked it 3 times last month alone . Because I can only eat so much banana bread using the same recipe I decided to try another one . I've seen this recipe from the Cooking Light magazine that I've borrowed few months ago and the caramelized bananas sounds very tempting  .

The recipe is pretty straight-forward , caramelizing the bananas is one easy step to have this very satisfying and moriesh treat . My only problem with the mixture is some small lumpy flour that just wont dissolve , I had to pinch several lumpy pieces before baking tsk tsk ! Note that the banana mixture will still be warm after you finished mixing everything and I think that's normal in this recipe or maybe our kitchen at that time was way too hot !  

When  making the glaze , make sure to keep an eagle-eye on it , my browned butter glaze nearly turned out black butter glaze ugh ! If your saucepan is not thick enough , use low heat and less time in browning the butter . 

This bread is very moist even straight from the fridge . If you don't like cakey and spongy kind of banana bread , you would love this recipe ! 

Please check original recipe @ Cooking Light

Makes one 8 x roughly 2-inch loaf and 2 mini-bundts

3 tablespoon / 42 grams unsalted butter , softened 
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
350 grams ( peeled weight ) very ripe banana , sliced plus extra for topping
1/2 cup soured cream 
3 tablespoon canola oil 
2 tablespoon dark rum 
2 large eggs ( 63 grams each ) 
9 oz / 252 grams / about 2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 

Glaze :

1 tablespoon / 14 grams unsalted butter , softened 
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon half and half 

* Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F . Grease a 9 x 3-inch loaf pan or an 8 x 3-inch loaf pan and 2 mini-bundt pans , set aside .  

* Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat , add brown sugar and bananas . Cook for 4 minutes , stirring occasionally . remove from heat ; let cool for 10 minutes . Place banana mixture into a large bowl and beat at medium speed until smooth . 

* Combine soured cream and the next 3 ingredients ( through eggs ) . Combine flour , baking soda and salt . Add flour mixture and soured cream mixture alternately to banana mixture , beginning and ending with flour mixture , beat a low speed just until combined . Pour mixture into the prepared pans and top with banana slices . 

* Bake 35-40 minutes for the mini-bundts and 50 minutes to 1 hour for the loaf pan or until skewer inserted in the middle of the bread comes out with a bit of moist crumbs . Transfer to the wire rack , cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan ; let cool . 

To make the glaze : 

* In a small saucepan , cook butter until it starts to turn brown , depending on how thick is the saucepan , it'll take less than a minute so keep an eye on it . take pan off heat , sift in icing sugar and add in the half and half , whisk until mixture is smooth . Drizzle immediately over the cooled bread . let glaze set before slicing the bread . 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spicy chicken karaage and Apple-cabbage salad with sesame dressing

I was thinking this the first time I've made chicken karaage , " Here goes another unhealthy treat that I would love to eat occasionally ha ! more like , I could eat this everyday ! "  Now , remember , moderation is the key ! I seldom deep-fried , for one ,  I hate to store used oil in the fridge for a long time and since I'm the only one here who dig this fantastic but unwholesome deliciousness , cooking it for one person seems superfluous . 

But because it's nearly the time of the month ....

Excuses , excuses ! 

If your compare this karaage to my previous one , you'll see that this version is much fluffier . At that time , I thought I also used potato starch as I bought it at one of my favorite baking supply store . By the time I finished cooking and photographing it , I compare it to Sonia's and No Recipes' sites . The coating of mine looks thinner and thinking maybe I did shake off too much excess flour or starch , for that matter . 

I've made it again for our New Year's dinner , I bought a pack of potato starch at one of the shops that sells Japanese products . If only you've seen my face while I was cooking the karaage , using the right potato starch , it looks like the authentic-looking version  lol

The potato starch is made from potato that has been peeled , the flesh is grind into a mushy slurry then dehydrated ,  the texture is similar to that of cornstarch , it's usually use as a thickening agent and of course , makes a great crispy coating . Potato flour on the other hand , is made from whole potato , including the skin and it gives baked goods such as loaf bread a nice soft and moist texture . It makes a nice , crispy coating as well though a bit thin and you still can use it in this kind of recipe if starch is not readily available . 

To offset the unwanted calories from the karaage , I've made this simple but wonderful salad as a side . Initially , it was supposed to be an apple-cabbage slaw but I've been wanting to make homemade sesame dressing . The bottled version tastes good but making it at home is easy , cheap and certainly delicious ! The tangy dressing goes really well the crunchy salad and the salad itself is a good foil for the greasy karaage .

Spicy chicken karaage , serves 4 

550 grams boneless whole chicken leg , cut into bite-size pieces
4 teaspoons sake 
4 teaspoon mirin
4 teaspoon light soy sauce
20 grams / 1-inch peeled ginger , finely chopped or grated
2 cloves garlic , finely minced or grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon teaspoon chilli flakes
 pinch of salt 

2/3  cup potato starch
dash of ground black pepper

oil for frying
lime or lemon wedges , to serve 

*  In a bowl , combine the chicken and the rest of the ingredients , chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes , more ,  if time permits . 

* In a bowl or plate . combine the potato starch and the black pepper . 

* In a saucepan , heat oil , the oil is ready if you dip a bamboo chopstick and it sizzles or use a deep-fry thermometer , if available .

* Dip several pieces of chicken into the starch mixture until each piece is well covered up . Gently drop each piece into the hot oil and fry in batches until chicken pieces floats on top and lightly golden . transfer to the plate and repeat with the remaining pieces . 

* Once all the chicken is done , turn up the heat , gently drop chicken in batches until each piece is golden brown , transfer to a plate lined with paper towel and continue with the rest . Serve hot .

Apple and cabbage salad serves 4-6 

1 Gala apple , unpeeled , cored and thinly-sliced 
1 Granny Smith , unpeeled , cored and thinly-sliced
2 teaspoon lime juice
200 grams thinly-sliced red cabbage
50 grams thinly-sliced carrot
1/2 cup steamed fresh corn kernels

* In a large bowl , toss the 2 apples and lime juice , add in the rest of the ingredients , chill in the fridge for about an hour . To serve , divide into bowls and drizzle in the sesame dressing . 

Sesame dressing , makes 1 cup ( Recipe adapted from Just One Cookbook )

6 tablespoon sesame seeds
4 tablespoon mayonnaise
4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
3 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon mirin 
1 teaspoon sesame oil 

* In a wok or a large pan , toast sesame seeds over medium heat ; stirring from time to time , for 6 minutes or until lightly golden . Place seeds into mortar and pestle , grind into a paste . Transfer paste into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients , mix well to combine . Chill in the fridge before using .

This post is linked to the bloghop event Little Thumbs Up and is organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Favourite DIY . This month's theme is APPLE and hosted by Kit of I Lost in Austen 

                                                          photo littlethumbups1-1.jpg

Friday, September 12, 2014

Spiced apple two-bite tarts

Last week I bought a bag of Gala apples , probably 4 pounds ( I thought it was only a kilo ! ) and even bought 3 pieces of Granny Smith for this recipe alone . I seldom buy that much , more like 3 or 5 pieces whenever I have the urge to eat it . Most of the time , after eating it for 3 straight days , the last one or two will be in the fridge for days , sometimes nearly two weeks until I can't take it anymore and have to eat it or worst , throw it . At least I know one person who's having this weird habit lol

I baked an apple bundt cake using some of those apple , I was so pumped up from the smell alone ! Of course , my joy turned into horror meh ! when I removed the cake from the pan ! Nearly half of the top was stuck at the bottom , I still get misty-eyed thinking about it hee hee ! Next time , I won't be stingy with the butter when greasing the bundt pan .

Oh , that was a cream cheese-filled apple cake , by the way *sigh*

So , what to do with some of the remaining apples ?! I've been eyeing this recipe for quiet sometime and the crust , which is described as sort of pecan shortbread clinched it for me . It was delicious on its own and a breeze to make  ! You don't have to roll the dough , just divide it evenly among the tins . If you're using a mini-muffin pan , the tart shells will come off easily , not so if you're using a mini tart tins , patience and a bit help from the trusty pairing knife will do the trick . Just remember to remove it after 5 minutes of cooling , you may find it a bit hot to handle but better than uttering some French words while removing it if you let it stand for a long time .

The filling tastes great , too , I should have used 2 Gala instead of one since it barely cover all my 21 tartlets . The soured cream is a must ! The tanginess of it is a good foil for the buttery crust and the spiced filling . You can use yogurt or crème fraîche ( as recommended  in this recipe )

Need to find more recipes with apples in it ....

Please check original recipe @ Cooking Light /My Recipes 

Makes 21 tartlets ( 15 grams dough each )

Crust : ( makes 320 grams cookie dough ) 

57 grams sugar 
57 grams unsalted butter , softened 
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon milk 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 
4.5 oz / 126 grams / about 1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

Filling : ( makes 1 cup ) 

1 Granny Smith apple , peeled and diced 
1 Gala apple , peeled and diced
2 teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly minced ginger 
1 tablespoon butter 
1/2 teaspoon tapioca starch
1 tablespoon water 

Homemade soured cream : Add 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice to 75 ml double cream , mix to combine , chill in the fridge before using .   

*  Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C . Lightly grease mini muffin and tart tins , put in the fridge to chill . 

* Crust : In a medium bowl , combine the first 6 ingredients , use a whisk and beat until mixture is light and fluffy . Add in the flour and nuts and mix until just combined . Divide dough into 21 mini tart tins or individual mini-muffin tins or 24 mini muffin pan  , 15 ( some are 16 grams )  grams of dough in each tin . If it is too hot in your kitchen or dining room , chill the dough for at least 30 minutes for easy handling . Press dough into bottom and up the sides of the tin . 

* Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown . Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes ; carefully remove from the tins ; if you're using the tart tins , gently poke some of the fluted edges with the tip of a pairing knife before removing and let cool completely on a wire rack . 

* Filling : Place apple and lime juice in a bowl , toss to coat , add the sugar and the next 4 ingredients ( through ginger ) , stir well to combine .  

* Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-heat ; add apple mixture . Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes , stirring occasionally . Combine tapioca starch and water in a small bowl ; add it to the apple mixture , cook for about 1 minute or until mixture thickens . Transfer mixture into a bowl and let cool at room temperature . 

* Spoon about 2 teaspoon of apple mixture into each tart shell and top with about 1/2 teaspoon of soured cream . Serve immediately .

This post is linked to the bloghop event Little Thumbs Up , this event is organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Favourite DIY . This month's theme is APPLE and hosted by Kit of I Lost in Austen


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chocolate snowy mooncake

So , I tried my hand on baking this Mid-Autumn must-have , mooncake . Mid-Autumn Festival  is considered to be one of the most important events for the Chinese people . It is a  harvest festival that dates back thousands of years ago . Here in Hongkong , it's the time for family reunion , some kids totting their favorite cartoon character-shaped lanterns , moon gazing at the park and of course , giving , receiving and eating mooncakes .

You can't help but see mooncakes here this time of the year and boy , choices are dizzying ! From traditional mooncakes with different fillings to snowy mooncakes and ice cream-filled ones . I wanted to make a snow skin version last year after seeing some blogging friends' wonderful creations . I admit I like the various designs of the mould more than actually eating it lol 

I was planning to buy the filling , baking supplies shops here have some amazing array of fillings but settled on making it . I used Christine's Recipes' mung bean filling recipe since I love the taste of one of Taipan's snowy mooncake with that kind of filling . It was simple but time consuming to make and since I got lazy while making it , I skipped one important part , pushing the cooked mung beans through a sieve , so instead of smooth pureé , mine came out with a bit bumpy texture .  Oh , I also reduced the liquid way too much , the result was a tad dry and crumbly filling but workable nonetheless . Luckily , it still tastes great , the sweetness is just enough and will try it again maybe , next year . And no skipping this time !

I commented on Jeannie's blog before that I want to try  Vicky's  mochi mooncake , the skin only , and she said that making mochi is sticky and I got a cold feet the night before my first attempt hee hee ! So , I used the recipe that I found before at Edith's old blog , Precious Moments  . The recipe is really simple to make , the dough is very easy to handle and the flavor is absolutely gorgeous ! If you're looking for one delicious snow skin , you must try this one !

The Hello Kitty mooncakes look meh , you can't see much its feature but the flower ones look pretty rad , right ?! You can see from the first photo that there's one mooncake that has a white cast ? It's actually frozen , I was planning to photograph it but it slipped off my mind *sigh*

Not so bad for my first foray on mooncake making  *pats back* lol 

For the mung bean filling ( recipe adapted from Christine's Recipes )

200 grams peeled split mung beans
100 grams caster sugar
80 ml coconut milk
70 ml canola oil
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoon wheat starch

* Rinse mung beans and soak at least 4 hours or preferably , overnight . Transfer beans into a large shallow pan , cover beans with 1 cm of water and steam in a wok over medium-high heat for 20-25 minutes or until it's easily smashed with your fingertips . 

* Drain beans in a sieve and discard excess liquid . Use a large spoon to press the cooked beans through the sieve and you'll get a smooth mung bean pureé .

* Transfer the pureé into a nonstick pan , add sugar , coconut , milk , oil and salt , mix well . Cook over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced by about two thirds . Sift in starch , in 2 addition , stirring well after each . 

* Reduce heat to low and cook , stirring constantly , for about 30-35 minutes . Transfer mixture into a bowl and let cool completely before using . 

For the chocolate snow skin ( recipe adapted from Precious Moments )  

Yield : 312 grams 

130 grams water
70 grams caster sugar
50 grams bittersweet chocolate , at least 60 % cocoa , melted
10 grams cocoa powder , plus extra for dusting 
10 grams chocolate paste 

20 grams shortening 
60 grams fried sweet ( glutinous ) rice flour

* In a small saucepan , combine water and sugar ; over medium heat , cook until sugar is melted . Take pan off heat ,  stir in the cocoa powder and paste , use a whisk and mix well .  Add in the melted chocolate and stir well to combine . 

* Combine flour and shortening , mix thoroughly . Add it to the chocolate mixture and mix to form a dough then chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before using . You can chill the skin overnight .

To make the chocolate snowy mooncake : I used a 50-gram mould ( 30 grams filling and 20 grams chocolate skin ) 

Makes 15 pieces 

* Weigh filling and skin into portions , form into small balls . Put adequate amount of extra cocoa powder into the plate . Dust the mould lightly with cocoa powder . Line a baking sheet with silicone mat . 

* Roll one portion of chocolate skin between a sheet of plastic wrap , use a rolling pin or fingers to flatten it , about 1/8 cm thick ( rough estimate ) , dust your hands with cocoa powder and put skin into your palm , wrap in the filling . Place into the mould , press firmly on top of the lined baking sheet and release . Repeat with the rest until skin is all used up .

*  Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before eating or freeze mooncakes and thaw them in the fridge beforehand or at room temperature for 20-30 minutes .