Saturday, April 23, 2016

Taiwanese fried chicken

A popular night street market snack in Taiwan , this flavorful dish is made by marinating chicken pieces in soy sauce , ginger , garlic , sugar , rice wine , pepper , five-spice powder and coated with sweet potato flour then deep-fried . Fried basil , spicy salt or sweet chilli sauce are commonly used as an accompaniment .

I can't find any sweet potato flour here or maybe I didn't look hard enough , most baking supplies shops I've visited only have potato starch . This kind of flour is essential in making this crunchy fried chicken .  I used a generic brand of Japanese potato starch instead , the one I use when I have a hankering for karaage . And if you've tried the Japanese fried chicken version , potato starch is a great substitute .

Though the Thai basil crisps are only use as a side dish , it is a must in my opinion , as it lightens the dish and adds a wonderful flavor variation .

Simple and easy to make , this delightfully crunchy fried chicken will surely please young and old alike !

Recipe adapted from Home-style Taiwanese Cooking and Adam Liaw

600 grams ( about 2 pieces ) boneless , whole chicken legs , cut into 1.5 to 2-inch pieces 
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons grated garlic 
1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons raw sugar
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine 
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder  

150 grams potato starch
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves 
Thai sweet chilli sauce , to serve 

* In a mixing bowl , combine the chicken , ginger , garlic , soy sauce , salt , sugar , rice wine , black pepper and five-spice powder , mix well . Marinate for an hour or two . 

* Coat the marinated chicken with potato starch , set aside for 10 minutes . 

* Heat oil over medium heat , when oil is hot , scatter in the basil leaves , the oil will splatter for few seconds so be careful . Cook for 20 seconds or until leaves are translucent and crisp , transfer to a wire rack to drain and set aside . 

* Deep-fry chicken pieces in batches over medium-heat , 3-5 minutes , turning the heat to high in the last minute or until golden , transfer to a wire rack to drain and cook remaining chicken . 

* Scatter basil crisps on top of the fried chicken and serve immediately with chilli sauce on the side . Best eaten with rice / fried rice or on its own . 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

French-style strawberry shortcake

I was over the moon when I saw some cheap strawberries  at the supermarket  . I mean , who could resist such a bargain , the strawberries look gorgeous ! The thing is , the Korean and US strawberries that I bought were slightly sour *sigh* Who would have thought ? heh ! I was planning to make strawberry ice cream but matcha tops strawberries lately . 

I've been eyeing this strawberry cake recipe in years ! I borrowed and re-borrowed the book at the library so many times that it's such a shame not to make it . If you've seen the recipe , I bet you're gonna think long and hard before taking a plunge lol 

The reason for not making this cake sooner was the crème mousseline , it contains a staggering amount of butter ! 200 grams to be exact ! Hopefully the benefits of those strawberries will outweigh the calories of the butter , yeah right ! But hey , you only live once hee hee ! Of course , you can use any filling like pastry cream , crème diplomat ( which is really good and has only small amount of butter ) or  your favourite mousse . Since I've been craving something decadent and unhealthy treats lately , nope , I'm not preggy , God forbid , I'm way too old for that lol Hey , at least I used French butter ! As if that butter won't clog my arteries ha ! 

There are 3 component of this cake , the sponge cake , the cream filling and the jelly topping . It may look complicated but it's quiet easy to make once you get over how much butter you'll consume hee hee ! Try to cut the strawberries uniformly , as you can see in the photos , mine are not so . I've use a 6 x 3-inch round cake ring instead of the 7 x 2-inch square in the book . From the recipe below , the author didn't top the cream filling with another layer of sponge cake before pouring in the jelly . The reason for that , I think , is the cake ring is only 2-inch high , if you use 7 x 3-inch , you'll have a more higher cake . In my part , I didn't have cream filling left to spread to the 2nd piece of sponge cake ( I used some of it for the mini version ) before topping it with jelly , though the jelly will adhere nicely to the sponge cake layer . For the raspberry jelly , you can use strawberry puree but the color will be pink and not as vibrant as when using raspberry . Note that when you remove the cake ring , some strawberries will be covered with a thin film of cream filling , but it'll be easily remove by gently scraping it with a paring knife then gently dab the surface with paper towel or a clean tea towel .

Recipe adapted from Okashi

Special sponge biscuit , ***recipe below
1 tsp Kirsch or cherry liqueur
3 tbsp sugar syrup ( made using 25 g and 50 grams water )
450 grams strawberries , hulled and sliced lengthwise

Crème mousseline :

 350 grams fresh whole milk ( I used UHT whole milk )
1/2 vanilla bean , split lengthwise and scrape the seeds ( I used 4 1/2-inch whole vanilla bean )
4 egg yolks
100 grams caster sugar
35 grams pastry flour or top flour ( I used cake flour )
200 grams unsalted butter
1 tbsp Kirsh or cherry liqueur

Raspberry jelly : 

100 raspberry puree
30 grams caster sugar
5 grams gelatin sheet , soaked in iced water to soften ( 10 minutes )

*** For the special sponge biscuit :

40 grams pastry flour or top flour ( I used cake flour )
20 grams cornstarch
35 grams unsalted butter , softened
90 grams egg whites ( from 3 large eggs with extra whites to spare )
80 grams caster sugar 
80 grams egg yolks ( from 4 large eggs )

* Preheat oven to 200ºC . Line a 28 X 28-cm / 11-inches flat square pan with parchment paper .

* Sift flour twice . Melt butter over a pot of simmering water or in a microwave .

* To make meringue , place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat until foamy , add sugar in 3 or 4 additions , beating well after each . Beat until stiff peaks form and egg whites are glossy . Add egg yolks and mix well .

* Sift , again , the flours into the egg mixture and fold using a spatula . Pour melted butter into the batter and fold well .

* Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with scraper . Bake for 10-13 minutes .

* When cake is done , remove from pan and place in a food-grade plastic bag to cool or use a plastic wrap .


* When sponge is done and cooled , peel away the layer of brown skin on top . Cut out an 18-cm / 7-inch square piece using the 18 x 18-cm / 7-inch cake ring , leave cake in cake ring and cover bottom of the cake with plastic wrap and place in a stainless tray or baking sheet .

* Add kirsch or cherry liqueur to sugar syrup and brush over sponge , set aside .

** Make crème mousseline : Place milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring to a boil . Remove from heat and set aside .

* Whisk egg yolks with sugar until mixture is pale yellow . Add flour and mix well , discard vanilla bean .

* Pour cream gradually into the yolk mixture , whisking as you pour then return to the saucepan . Bring to a boil over high heat , stirring constantly . Continue to beat mixture until it thickens and become smooth and glossy ( about 6 minutes ) . Remove from heat and transfer to a tray to cool . Cover with cling film . Place in the freezer to cool but do not freeze .

*  Beat butter until with an electric mixer until creamy . Add cooled cream and beat until combined . . Add kirsch/cherry liqueur and mix well . Spoon crème mousseline into a piping bag fitted with a 1-cm round piping tip .

* Pipe thin layer of crème mousseline onto sponge in cake ring . Arrange strawberries around edge of cake ring , with the flat surface against the cake ring . Distribute remaining strawberries evenly , then pipe another layer of crème mousseline over strawberries and level with an offset spatula . Make sure there are no air pockets in cream . Place cake in the freezer for about 20 minutes .

** Make raspberry jelly : Place raspberry purée and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil . Turn off heat , add softened gelatin and and mix well . Pour jelly mixture over cake and refrigerate overnight to set .

** To unmould the cake : Use a warm towel or a kitchen blowtorch ( or hair dryer ) and warm the sides of cake ring . Decorate as desired . Slice and serve .

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Matcha ice cream

Winter is nearly over and can't wait for it to begin again lol 

I don't enjoy summer as much as the colder months but warmer temperature makes life a bit easier , like making bread for example , you don't have to wait for several hours when proofing and homemade ice cream , of course ! 

I've got some egg yolks from the matcha financiers that I baked last week and was reserving those to make strawberry ice cream . US and Korean strawberries are cheap right now , well , in some supermarket , but I'm still matcha-crazy so .....

This is a custard-based ice cream , milk , egg yolks , sugar and matcha powder is cooked slowly until it thickens , cooled , whipped cream is added then churn in an ice cream maker . You can serve it right away after churning , it looks and tastes just like a soft serve ice cream . Unlike most ice cream recipe out there , this one has more milk than cream . Note that the recipe below only makes about 480 ml or 1 pint , if you want to double it , use 5 yolks .

It's my smoothest , creamiest homemade ice cream yet with a delighful matcha taste .

Recipe adapted from Okashi

200 grams fresh whole milk ( I used UHT whole milk
3 large egg yolks
80 grams caster sugar ( 90 grams )
10 grams green tea powder ( Uji matcha )
100 grams whipping cream with 35 % fat

* Heat milk in a small saucepan almost to the boiling point then remove from heat and set aside .

* In a mixing bowl , beat or whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow in color , add in matcha powder and mix well .

* Add warm milk and mix well . Return mixture in the same saucepan and heat very gently , stirring constantly , until thickens ( 10-15 minutes )

* Transfer custard into a mixing bowl , place bowl in a larger bowl half-filled with ice water to cool .

* In a chilled bowl , whip cream until stiff peaks form . Add whipped cream to the cooled custard and fold through . Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and churn for 20-30 minutes .

* Serve immediately , if desired or transfer to a freezer-proof container and freeze for 4 hours . Ice cream is easily scoopable straight from the freezer . 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Matcha financiers

Financier is small French cake , it is light and moist , just like a sponge cake . It usually contains ground almonds , egg whites , flour , sugar and butter . The distinctive feature of this small cake is beurre noissette or browned butter , the butter is cooked until fragrant and golden brown then added to the rest of the ingredients . This cake is traditionally baked in a small rectangular mould which resembles a gold bar . It is said that this cake became popular in the area sorrounding the Paris Stock Exchange ( Wiki )

The list below is the full recipe .  I made half of it and used a mini muffin pan , baked them for 9 minutes and 30 seconds . I don't have a pastry flour so I just used cake flour . I was planning to top it with fresh raspberries but the price is not worth it .

This is one of the easiest French goodies anyone can bake . Rich , buttery yet light in texture and with delightful matcha flavor this cake is pretty fantastic ! 

Recipe adapted from Okashi

50 grams pastry flour or top flour 
10 grams matcha/green tea powder
5 grams cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
130 grams egg whites
130 grams caster sugar
50 grams ground almonds
a pinch of salt
130 grams unsalted butter

* Preheat over to 220°C . Lightly grease 16 small oval-shaped cake moulds , each about 5.5 x 7.5-cm .

* Sift flour , matcha powder , cornstarch and baking powder togrther twice .

* Beat egg whites lightly . Add in sugar and mix well , followed by ground almonds , flour mixture and salt , mixing well after each addition . Be careful not to overmix , set aside .

* Prepare an ice water bath .

* In a small saucepan , cook butter over medium-low heat , whisking frequently until fragrant and golden brown in color . Pour into a mixing bowl and place bowl into an ice water bath to stop butter from cooking further and burning .

* Add browned butter to egg white mixture and mix well . You can either transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe batter into the prepared moulds or use a spoon .

* Bake financiers for 10-15 minutes or until they are light golden in color . Remove the cakes the from moulds and cool on a wire rack before serving .

* Financiers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or up to 1 month in the freezer .