Related Posts with Thumbnails

Knead n’ Roll (Daring Bakers September Challenge)

>> Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls

For September challenge of the Daring Bakers, the lovely Marce of Pip in the city has chosen a recipe from a book that is close to my heart for all of us…. Our task is to make Cinnamon Rolls or Sticky Buns from The Bread Baker Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. This book is one of the best bread books I have come across, and it has always been my inspiration in bread making. In fact, I adapted this month challenge recipe in the past to make these ricotta and blueberry buns and the result was superb.

When the challenge was announced, I decided to clear some time to make both cinnamon and sticky buns. But university schedule has been rather tight lately. Worse, I got a very bad flu during the holiday week and still recover from it. With such limited time, I only try the cinnamon rolls as you see in these photos…

Cinnamon Rolls

Making these buns is not very hard. Reinhart’s instructions are always very clear and precise. However, I became a little forgetful when these buns were in the oven. Personally, I think they would be better if I pulled them out earlier…

Texture-wise, these are definitely very good. I just cannot really taste or smell properly at the moment to give more reliable judgment. (It’s really annoying not being able to smell anything at all).

Cinnamon Rolls

Nevertheless, I count on my fellow Daring Bakers to do brilliant jobs for this challenge. I will be reading all of their posts and see their opinion on these, and especially the Sticky Buns! And when I am fully recovered (hopefully soon), these sticky buns are definitely on my list!

Please visit this blog for the lists and addresses of all Daring Baker Members. And for the recipe, Marce has posted the full recipes. I strongly recommend you all try it!

Meanwhile, “see” you all when I get better!

Cinnamon RollsCinnamon Rolls


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Simple Eating

>> Friday, September 28, 2007

Pumpkin Simmered in Caramel Sauce

Ever since I started this blog, I have received different questions about Vietnamese cooking in general. One of those is how to prepare Vietnamese-style vegetarian food. Some questions even go a bit backward, is there a vegetarian cuisine in Vietnamese cooking? Yes, of course!!! Vietnamese vegetarian cuisine has been mostly emerged and developed through the popular practice of Buddhism in the country. The most accepted school of Buddhism in Vietnam, if I am not mistaken, is Zen Buddhism. And followers of this school believe that a vegetarian diet assist in meditation and harmonization with other creatures on Earth.

I first experienced vegetarian meals at the village pagoda with my grandmother. The vegetarian food there was very simple and pure, produced from very fresh and healthy ingredients. Almost everything was home grown and made on premises from the vegies in the garden, to kitchen essentials like tofu and sauces. Such spirit has also been preserved in vegetarian restaurants. Most of my friends in Vietnam associate vegetarian food with fresh and healthy eating. Although faux meat and seafood are common, all dishes are prepared with much care and mostly house made.

For me, vegetarian food is a form of nourishment. And more importantly, it should be prepared with great respect to ingredients. That’s why I am starting a series on Vietnamese vegetarian cooking. It’s also my effort to bring my home cuisine to all my vegetarian friends … I hope these posts will help you have a better understanding about the Vietnamese cooking.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Pumpkin Simmered in Caramel Sauce

The dish I am making today is Pumpkin Simmered in Caramel Sauce. Braising meat/fish in caramel sauce is a staple dish for Vietnamese household. The most famous version is using fish or pork. But using pumpkin really lifts this familiar taste to a different level. After braising, the pumpkin is soft and its sweetness blend so well with the darker caramel flavors (it’s like bittersweet). Serve it with some rice, and I will be more than happy. And don’t forget the sauce! Spoon it over the rice to savor the delicious sauce, too…

I have used the lovely Japanese pumpkin (photo), but you can use whichever variety available. Remember to keep the skin on. This helps the pumpkin wedges to stay in shape, and provide a little crunch for the final dish.

Japanese Pumpkin

Now, the caramel part! I have included two recipes for the caramel sauce. I personally prefer the dry method since it’s quicker. But if you are afraid of burning your pan, use the second one (almost fool proof). Whichever method you use, the final caramel should look something like the following photo. Don’t go lighter or the flavours will not be achieved.

Caramel Sauce (Nuoc Mau)

Pumpkin Simmered in Caramel Sauce

Recipe inspired by idea shared by ihi from TTVNOL

Ingredients

Pumpkin, about ¼ (400g), cut into large wedges

Caramel Sauce, prepared as two methods described below

Flour to coat the pumpkin

Little oil to panfry

Sea Salt, to taste

Sesame oil (optional)

Chopped spring onion* and/or shredded bell pepper to garnish

Ground Pepper, to serve

Method

  1. Lightly coat the pumpkin with some flour. Shallow fry until reaching a golden color. (Don’t skip this step since it helps to flavor the dish).
  2. In a saucepan (heavy bottom preferred), arrange the pumpkin wedged. Pour in the caramel sauce (the caramel sauce should reach at least 1/3 of the pumpkin height). Add vegetable stock or water so that the liquid barely reach the pumpkin surface.
  3. Add salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then turn on very low heat. Simmer for 20-30 mins or until the pumpkin is cooked through… You can simmer a bit longer so the pumpkin is very soft, giving a creamy sauce in the end. Check seasoning. The dish is supposed to be lightly sweet and have deep caramel flavors.
  4. Just before serving, add spring onion and bell pepper garnish. Drizzle a little sesame oil. Add some ground pepper if preferred. Serve hot with rice.
(*): Vietnamese Buddhists avoid eating spicy and ingredients like onions, garlic etc. But I just include it here according to my taste.

Caramel Sauce

Dry method: Please go to this link. The quantity prescribed should be more than enough for this dish. This is my preferred method. Don’t burn the sugar since the caramel sauce is not supposed to be bitter!

Method 2: Please refer to the preparation here. I haven’t tested the recipe, but it sounds right!

Pumpkin Simmered in Caramel Sauce

***

This post is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, an event created by the wonderful Kalyn. The host of this week is Ulrike from Kuchenlatein. The round up should be ready on Monday next week. Don't miss out! Also, we are all eager to celebrate the 2nd birthday of WHB. So please check out Kalyn's blog for all the details!

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The tale of a duck

>> Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sichuan Crispy Duck

If you eat meat, then duck is a beautiful thing to enjoy. And I hope most of you will agree that the Chinese are true masters in cooking duck well. Flavorsome, crispy skins, moist meat & great looking, I can sing praise of a perfect cooked duck for days and days! I can never forget the first time I tasted Peking duck in Beijing. Even the less inspiring Chinese roast ducks available here in Australia are still quite enjoyable to eat.

However, eating is one thing, cooking a perfect duck is a real challenge. You see, our home kitchen can never compare to a professional kitchen in terms of equipment. So it is almost impossible to re-create the type of duck available in restaurants. But I do believe with some simple equipment, we all can adapt the recipes to cook up our favorite at home.

Sichuan Crispy Duck

The recipe I chose for my duck today is not Peking duck, but the Sichuan version. This is the recipe where you can clearly see the double cooking method, which is quite popular in Chinese cuisine. The duck is first steamed for three hours to get rid of the fatty and smelly fat. It is then left dry and deep-fried close to serving to ensure perfect crispy skin. In terms of technique, it is not as complicated as roasting. However, it does require patience and a bit of adventurous cooking spirit.

I am very pleased with the results. The duck is crispy outside and moist, meaty inside. I have served the duck with some store-bought Chinese pancake, cucumber, spring onions and hoisin sauce. You can prepare the pancake at home, too, but I find that dealing with the duck is far too much already. Thus, this product becomes handy and is quite good, too (I get it from David Jones Food Hall if you ask).

I think for a first timer, this result is quite satisfying. It is really a great pleasure to roll up the beautiful cooked duck in those paper thin pancakes, knowing that all the hard work is worthy in the end. Perhaps some day I will be brave enough to attempt the famous Chinese roast duck. Yeah, why not?

And for those duck lovers who want to cook up a storm at home, here is the recipe…

Sichuan Crispy Duck

Sichuan-style Crispy Duck

Adapted from Neil Perry’s recipe and other sources

Equipments

  1. Large steaming basket, enough to hold the whole duck
  2. A large wok to deep fry (or use a deep-fryer)
  3. A fan, cake rack and baking sheet

Ingredients (for 2-3 duck lovers to share as main meal)

1 duck, weigh about 2 kg

1 tbsp fine sea salt

1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

1 large knob ginger, peeled, cut into 4 slices

4 spring onion

2 tbsp light soy sauce

Plain flour

Oil, for frying

To serve:

Mandarin pancakes (or store bought Peking duck wrap)

8 small spring onions, white part with a bit of green left on

1 cucumber, cut into 8 batons

6 tbsp hoisin sauce mixed with 2 tbs sesame oil

Sichuan Crispy Duck

Method

  1. Rinse the duck, pat dry and remove the fat from the cavity. Place the duck on a board and push down hard to snap the side bones so the duck flattens slightly.
  2. Mix the sea salt with five-spice powder, Rub the salt mixture all over the duck, then the cavity. Cover and chill overnight in the fridge.
  3. Put the duck on a bamboo steamer. Place ginger and spring onion in the cavity (spread out so that the fragrance will be distributed evenly). Steamed the duck for three hours over boiling water to render the fat. Remember to top up your steamer with boiling water regularly.
  4. After three hours, drain the duck on a baking rack and cool, using a fan. Remove the onion and ginger. Make sure the skin is dry.
  5. Brush the duck with the soya sauce. Dust it with plain flour and bowling off any excess.
  6. In a large wok, heat enough oil to half submerge the duck to 180C. Place the duck in the wok, breast side down. Turn over after 3 mins, and cook for another 2 mins. (The duck should be cooked in a total of 12 mins, turning side to side). Remove and drain.
  7. To serve, cut off the legs and with a fork, loosen the fibres of the leg meat. Repeat this process for the rest of the duck. Shred the meat and place on a warm plate.
  8. Prepare the pancake according to package direction. TO eat, place the pancake on the plate, spoon over some sauce, place a piece of cucumber and onion with some duck and roll up. Enjoy!
Sichuan Crispy Duck

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Am I not pretty enough?

>> Saturday, September 22, 2007

Last week for Weekend Herb Blogging, I wrote about the lovely Jerusalem artichoke. For this week, I turn to feature the more familiar globe artichoke.

Globe Artichoke

Now, a closer look. Pretty, isn’t it?

Globe Artichoke

My first encounter with globe artichokes is not in fresh form but in a quite popular herbal tea in Vietnam. Artichoke tea is quite lovely with a light sweet note and said to have cooling properties (You can find it in Asian stores, I think). However, I just started cooking with fresh artichokes recently when coming to Australia, and I really love it.

Today, I am gonna use these pretty buds in a paella dish. I know the rice may look messy, but it is one of the tastiest dishes I have ever cooked. Here, home-made chicken stock is a must to ensure the rich flavours. You also need to get Spanish paella rice, too. This rice is quite different from risotto rice and when you cook it, please do not stir! Just let it simmer and sit for the best creamy result.

Paella with Chicken and Artichokes

Serve with some lemon juice and perhaps a green salad, it is a perfect meal for anytime…

Paella with Chicken and Artichokes

Adapted from this book

Ingredients (serve 4 as main course and 6 as a starter)

6 tbsp olive oil

350g skinless chicken (I use thigh meat)

2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped

3 large globe artichokes

6 garlic cloves

250g paella rice

150g dry sherry

800ml hot homemade chicken stock

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley

4 grates of nutmeg

Lemon wedges, to serve

Sea salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat a large non-stick pan and add 2 tbsp olive oil. When hot, stir-fry chicken for 2 mins or until the chicken is still a bit rate in the middle. Remove the chicken and put aside. Add the rest of the oil and add the onion. Cook over medium heat for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the artichoke. Cut the stalks off 5cm from the base. Carefully peel of the green tough layer and what is yellow is tender. Cut the tips off these and peel the base. Scrape out any furry choke with a teaspoon and cut each prepared artichokes lengthways then cut in to 8 wedges. (You can view the picture guide here, just do not boil the artichoke). Keep the artichoke in some water with lemon juice to prevent discoloring.
  3. Add artichokes to the softening onion along with garlic and cook for another 10 mins or until the onions and garlic start to caramelize. Stir in the rice and coat with oil and veg for 1 min.
  4. Turn heat to high, add the wine. Cook off some alcohol then add the hot stock. Bring to gentle boil. Season well and add half of the chopped parsley and the nutmeg. Simmer for 10 mins or until there is still enough stock to cover the rice. Spread the chicken evenly over the rice and push each piece under the juice. Gently shake the pan to prevent sticking. Turn heat to medium low. Cook for 5 mins or until there is just a little liquid left at the bottom of the rice.
  5. Turn off the heat and cover tightly with foil. Let the rice sit for 5 mins before serving. Serve with fresh parsley and lemon wedges immediately.
Paella with Chicken and Artichokes

*

This week WHB is hosted by the brownie queen Myryam of Once upon a tart. Please go to her blog for the roundup. Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out more info about WHB on Kalyn’s blog.

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Swirl with Figs

>> Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fig Swirl Biscuits


After I have read the announcement written by Ivonne of Creampuff in Venice for this month Sugar High Friday theme, I can’t help but trying my best to participate. Ivonne has chosen a fantastic ingredient, figs. And her love for it is just incredible. You really need to come over to read her post and probably participate, too!

I have so many ideas to do with figs, but currently restricted to use the dried form since fresh figs are not in season. I have been thinking of using them in bread, variations from my favourite pound cake and other things. But then my time for baking is really limited lately, so I opt for baking cookies instead.

Fig Swirl Biscuits

These cookies are inspired by one of my all time favourite cookbook, Saha. The recipe there by Greg Malouf is a variation from a traditional Middle Eastern biscuits called ma’amoul which is typically filled with either nut or date. These are traditionally made using wooden mold, and their shapes can be close to the Asian mooncakes (I saw them selling on Brunswick St.). Anyway, Mr. Malouf changed the preparation to produce a really pretty swirly effect. And I just take a step further to produce my very own fig swirl biscuits!

If you love melt-in-the-mouth biscuits, then, you will love these. The texture is very soft and delicate due to baking in low oven. And the fig filling is just incredible here, giving a contrast grainy texture. I am actually a little surprised how pretty and tasty they turn out!

These biscuits are not overly sweet but still great with a cup of tea. I also do not add any flaouring ingredients like liquor or vanilla since I want the fig flavours to shine. Speaking of that, which liqueur is good to flavour dried figs in your opinion? Kahlua is one option from Greg Malouf. Do you guys have any other ideas? I would love to know!

Fig Swirl Biscuits

Fig Swirl Biscuits

Inspired by this book

Filling

100g dried figs, finely chopped

1-2 tbsp water or as needed

1 tbsp castor sugar

Biscuit dough

270g plain flour

150g unsalted butter, cubed

30g icing sugar

25ml olive oil

45ml milk

1 egg white, beaten

Icing sugar to dust (optional)

Method

  1. For the filling, put the fig in the saucepan with 1 tbsp of water and the sugar. Bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat and stir constantly until the figs soften and melt to a smooth, sticky mass (you may need to add some extra water). Remove from heat and add 1 tbsp water. When cool, blitz to a smooth paste in a food processor.
  2. To make the biscuit dough, sift the flour to a food processor bowl. Add in butter and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add in oil and milk, pulse a few times until you have smooth dough. (This is my method. But you can also do this step without the food processor)
  3. Spray your workplace with some oil. Divide the dough into 3 portions and roll each one to a rectangle about 3mm thick. Divide the filling into thirds and smear onto each rectangle, leaving a clear margin along one long edge. Brush each clear edge with little egg white and roll each piece up to form a long. Sealing well at the edge. Gently but firmly roll each log back and forth to make it longer and thinner. Refrigatre for 30 mins.
  4. Preheat oven to 160c. Cut the chilled biscuit logs on the diagonal into lozenges about 1cm thick. Arrange on greased baking tray and cook for 10 mins. Lower the temp to 140C and cook for a further 10 mins. Cool on a wire rack. (to repeat with the next batch, remember to return the oven to 160C for about 5 mins, then continue).
  5. When cool, and to store, dust the biscuits liberally with icing sugar.

Fig Swirl Biscuits

*

For those who cannot view photos from flickr, here are some alternative links.

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A Moment in Life #6

>> Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hello from Mr/Ms Koala

Koala

It must be one of the cutiest animals on Earth!
And my sister often refers to it as 'Australian Teddy Bear" ;)!

Hope you enjoy this cute photo. Have a nice weekend!

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Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

>> Friday, September 14, 2007

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Perhaps winter has passed by, but the night is still cool enough for some smooth soup. And with the Jerusalem Artichoke available at my local grocer, there is no better excuse…

Jerusalem Artichoke

Jesuralem artichoke, depiste its name, has no relation to either Jerusalem or the normal globe artichoke. It is actually a tube vegetable originated from North Africa. In terms of culinary usage, this vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked. I personally love it in puree form to accompany meat, or in simple soup like what I have cooked.

Cooking Jerusalem artichoke soup is quite simple. You don’t need to peel the skin at all, since it has a lot of flavours. At the end of cooking time, when the vegetables are tender, simply process it in a food processor then pass through a sieve. The end result is something smooth, lightly sweet and satisfying.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Another tip for cooking this special vegetable. Some people may find Jerusalem artichoke indigestive. To prevent this, add in a pinch of asafoetida during the first stage of cooking (i.e. when you soften onion/leek). Don’t worry, the fragrance of asafoetida will disappear during cooking proces and won’t overwhelm the soup at all.

I don’t really have a specific recipe for this soup… But you can view two beautiful and reliable recipes for similar soup here and here.

I am submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is hosted by Katerina from Daily Unadventures in Cooking. You can view more information about WHB from the founder, Kalyn from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

For those who can't view photo from Flickr, please see my photo for this post at the following links:

Jerusalem Artichoke

Soup1

Soup2



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A Moment in Life #5

>> Thursday, September 13, 2007

Can you see the bees?

White Beauty


A marvelous day in Melbourne Spring...

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Not just Another Cake

>> Tuesday, September 11, 2007

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No, it this not another cake since it is a chiffon cake. What’s more… it’s a cocoa chiffon cake.

If you have read my blog for a while, you may know that I love chocolate a lot. I have also made a lot of chocolate desserts, but never really tasted a chiffon cake with chocolate flavour. That is why when I get a new baking book, The Essential Baker, the recipe for a cocoa cake appeals to me straightaway.

Chiffon cake is always a favourite of mine. It may be strange that a butter lover like me actually love lightness and moistness of a chiffon cake. Developed in the 1920s as a crossbred between butter and angel food cake, chiffon cake became very popular in the 1940s when the recipe was sold to General Mills by the creator.

For me, this is definitely the cake that would suit Asian palate. It’s not buttery and rich, but lightly sweet and moist. And Asian people love soft cake and bread so this is spot on. In countries like Indonesia, Singapore or Malaysia, the pretty green pandan chiffon cake is very popular among the local. If you haven’t tried pandan chiffon cake, you really should! A reliable recipe can be found here.

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Now, back to my cocoa chiffon cake. A good cake starts out with good quality ingredients. And I have chosen Koko Black cocoa powder, a local brand, for my cake. And as usual, Koko Black chocolate products never fail to impress me with the rich dark flavours. It’s just simply perfect.

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I love this cocoa chiffon cake a lot. And so do my friends. This is perhaps not the most luxurious chocolate cake you may have, but it is certainly one of the best! So if you are in the mood for something chocolaty but light in texture, please give this recipe a try!

I have served my chiffon cake with crème fraîche and some cherries juice. To make the cherry juice from frozen cherries, simply heat it up with some lemon juice, water and sugar. It’s really lovely with the cake. However, you can just eat the cake plain to appreciate the special soft and moist feature of a chiffon cake.

Cocoa Chiffon Cake

Recipe from here
Ingredients (for a 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom)
Mixture A
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup boiling water
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ¼ cup castor sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup unflavoured veg oil (Corn oil is good here)
6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Mixture B
6 large egg whites, at room temp
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup castor sugar
Method
Preheat oven to 325F.

Mix the cocoa powder with the boiling water to b3ecome a paste. Let cool and blend in vanilla. (Stir frequently to prevent it from skinning).

Sift the flour and baking powder together into a bowl. Add sugar and salt. Toss to mix.

Make a well in the centre of the flour, pour in egg yolk, oil, and cocoa paste. Mix well to combine.
Whip the egg whites until frothy. Add in cream of tartar. Slowly sprinkle sugar and continue whipping until the egg whites hold glossy and firm but not stiff peaks.

Add ¼ of the egg white into the flour mixture, mix in to lighten it. Then, gently fold the egg white into the chocolate mixture in 3 stages. Blend well but take care not to lose the air bubbles.
Transfer the mixture to the ungreased tube pan. Even out the top. Bake for 1 hour or until the cake is done.

Remove the pan from the oven and invert it over a cooling rack onto its feet or over a thin-necked bottle. Let the cake hang to cool completely.

Once the cake is cool, use a thin-bladed knife to run around the edge and the inside to help release the cake from the pan. Push the bottom of the pan up, away from the side. Gently run the knife around the tube to release the cake.

Enjoy your cake!
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It’s Seafood Time

>> Saturday, September 08, 2007


After some sunny days, Melbourne weather has been a bit chilly again. Of course, it is nothing compared with the freezing cold back in July. But this weather is still perfect for thick and creamy chowder…

I have promised to cook seafood chowder to Mr. B for a longest time (since last year I think). But I don’t have the motivation to make it at all. For me, the normal chowder can be a bit too thick and creamy. I much prefer something lighter, which I have found flipping through a brilliant cookbook by Charlie Trotter.

This particular recipe is largely based on vegetables. The creaminess and thickness come mainly from the roasted fennel puree not starch from potatoes or flour. Even before adding seafood, the chowder itself tastes wonderful. The vegetable is really the key to provide flavours here. And that is what I really love.

You may notice that my chowder is not traditionally white… The color here comes from the smoked paprika I substitute for bacon, and the roasted fennel. Nevertheless, I think it still looks quite appetizing. And well, we eat food for the taste first, right? :P


If you want to adapt this recipe for vegetarian, simply omit the seafood and use rich vegetable stock instead of prawn stock. I bet the non-seafood version will also taste wonderful, too.

I am sending this chowder, which is full of vegetables, to Katiez who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging this week. WHB is going strong and we are all looking forward to its second birthday celebration! For more info, please pay a visit to its founder’s blog, Kalyn’s Kitchen.

And now, time for the recipe…

Mussel, Prawn and Fennel Chowder

Adapted from Charlie Trotter’s recipe

Ingredients (for generous 4 serves)

Fennel Puree

2 fennel bulbs, top trimmed

2 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper

Chowder

1 tbsp smoked paprika

½ cup small-diced onion

2 cups small-dices peeled potatoes

1 cup small-diced celery

1 cup small-dices leek, white part only

1 cup small-diced fennel

Fennel puree (above)

2/3 to 1 cup heavy cream

30 mussels, scrubbed and debearded

20 medium prawns

1 lemon, to serve

Salt and pepper

Coarsely chopped fennel fronds, to garnish

Method

  1. For the fennel puree: Wrap the fennel with all the herbs in foil. Place in 180C oven and roast for 2 hours. Let cool and discard the herbs. Chop the fennel into chunks, puree in food processor with milk (add a bit more water if necessary). Pass through a sieve. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  2. Preparing the prawn stock: peeled and de-vein the prawn. Save all the head and shell. Place 1 tbp oil in a saucepan, sautee the shell and head until pink. Add in 1 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 15-20 mins to get the stock. Sieve the stock and discard the shell.
  3. Sautee the onion with some oil in a large saucepan. Add in 1 tbsp smoked paprika and potatoes over medium high heat for 5 mins. Lower heat to medium, add carrot, celery, leek and fennel. Cook for 5 mins. Add the fennel puree and heavy cream, cook for 5 mins longer. Then, add the prawn stock, mussel and prawn. Simmer for 5-7 mins or until prawns are just cooked. Discard any unopened mussels. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the chowder in warm bowls, garnish with fennel fronds. Accompany with lemon juice and fresh bread.

***
Some of my readers cannot view images from Flickr. You can view the photos for this post following these three links.

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Amendment to Recipe & A Moment in Life #4

>> Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hi all,

I have discovered a mistake in my recipe for the Zesty Spinach and Feta Bread which was my previous post. For those who are interested, please have a look at the recipe again. Sorry for this, I must have been sleeping and typing at the same time!

For now, let us relax with another photo of pink blossom...





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Freshness Goodness

>> Monday, September 03, 2007

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Lis from La Mia Cucina and Ivone from Cream Puffs in Venice are hosting a lovely event called La Festa al Fresco. For this event, you are required to make something from fresh local produce. And I have chosen some lovely English spinach and feta cheese from my local market and turned them into wholesome savory bread to participate.

The idea of for this bread comes from the regular spinach and feta (or ricotta) fillo pastry which is a popular vegetarian option in casual café or bakery here in Melbourne. Frankly, I have hardly been impressed by these (except for the thin crust variety in A1 Bakery in Brunswick). I doubt that these roll were made with much care and from fresh ingredients. In fact, they taste like defrosted pastries to me. But the thought of spinach and feta is so lovely that I decide to make my own version.
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Since I want something more substantial, I decide to go for bread. The dough recipe is a long-time favorite of mine, which produces lovely soft crumbs. The filling is kind of standard with spinach and feta, but it is made from fresh ingredients! I also add some zesty note by using lemon juice and zest.

And yes, this spinach and feta loaf tastes really good. Being a ‘pull-apart’ loaf, it is best to shared around. And I do just that! I share around with some friends and they all love it. I guess it doesn’t take much to convert someone into a fresher diet, especially when the results are always tastier.
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Zesty Spinach and Feta Bread

Inspired by different sources

Dough
¾ cup water
45gram butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp sugar
1¼ tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
3 cups unbleached plain flour

Filling
1 bunch fresh English spinach, leaves picked and washed thoroughly
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 or 2 squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
Seasoning, to taste

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Method
1. Knead together water, butter, sugar, salt, yeast and 3 cups flour until the dough is smooth and soft. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise until doubled.
2. Filling: blanch the spinach leaves in hot water briefly. Drain and set aside to cool. Roughly chop then mix with the crumble feta cheese. Add in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Check the seasoning and adjust to your liking.
3. Preheat oven to 350F (170C).
4. Gently lift the dough out of the bowl. Divide into 4 portions. Deflate each portion lightly into a rectangular, add the filling and roll up. Cut into two pieces. Repeat with the remaining dough. (You should have 8 halves in total).
5. Arrange the dough, cut side up, into a loaf pan (8 ½ x 4 ½ inch). Proof for another 30-40 mins until the bread rises just above the pan. Bake in the oven until golden and done, about 35-40 mins.

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