Monday, October 31, 2016

Blueberry-Vanilla Panna Cotta

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here. 


To link to Cookbook Countdown #10, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here


************************


My selected cookbook for this month, 

The last recipe I've made for this month from the cookbook, Cooking From The Farmers' Market. A cold dessert, Blueberry-Vanilla Panna Cotta.



Simple and easy, pretty quick to make. Of course, those blueberries are not from the farmers' market, they are imported. Unfortunately blueberries are not grown over here. Wish they were!

I've used frozen blueberries.



I've made the panna cotta in the evening and left to chill overnight in the refrigerator.



We enjoy it the next evening. Makes a lovely after dinner dessert.  Next time I will try with our local tropical fruits!


Blueberry-Vanilla Panna Cotta
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma : Cooking From The Farmers' Market)
makes 4 servings
2-1/2 tsp (1 package) unflavoured gelatin
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) whole milk
2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) heavy (double) cream
1/4 cup (2 oz/60gm) sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups (8 oz/250gm) blueberries, plus extra for garnish

In a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk. Let stand for about 2 minutes. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cream and sugar. Using a small knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds into the cream and add the pod. Heat, stirring, until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Let cool briefly.
Remove the vanilla bean. Slowly add the warm cream to the gelatin mixture, stirring constantly until dissolved. Stir in the vanilla extract and 2 cups blueberries and then pour into four 3/4-cup (6-fl oz/180 ml) ramekins, dividing evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to overnight.
Run a thin knife around the inside of each ramekin, and invert onto a dessert plate. Garnish with blueberries and serve right away.


Grab a  cookbook and join us!

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #10 hosted by 




Friday, October 28, 2016

Italian Breakfast Banana Bread

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). For this week, I've made Nigella Lawson's fabulous Italian Breakfast Banana Bread. I have made many banana breads through the years, and my favourite is one of Nigella's recipes, which uses golden raisins soaked in rum, which I have posted here, and have made it many times. She has another banana bread recipe in her cookbook, Nigellissima that I just got to try, especially when it has espresso in it! I love coffee!



This is a very easy and quick bread to make. In the recipe, instant espresso powder is used. What I have are instant granules, and the first time I've made this bread, some of the granules did not dissolve completely, specks of it can be seen in the bread. But the bread tasted awesome and so "coffee-ey" delicious, that I made it again. This time I dissolved the instant espresso granules in the vanilla extract with half a teaspoon of warm water, before I mashed the bananas with the vanilla-coffee extract. The bananas are very ripe and sweet, so I have reduced the sugar slightly. 



This is one delicious banana bread! Nigella nails it again with this recipe. Moist, soft, full of banana flavour and that coffee taste in each bite is just delicious. Perfect with a cup of hot steaming coffee. Even though the recipes uses 4 teaspoons of the instant espresso powder, just as Nigella says "And even though I add quite a bit, the flavour doesn't overwhelm at all. It's there, but as a hint, and the subtle bitterness of the coffee undercuts, most elegantly, the creamy sweetness of the bananas"

I have made this bread three times already. Believe me, one loaf will be gone pretty quick!  This is one recipe that I urge you to try, especially if you are a coffee lover!


Italian Breakfast Banana Bread
(adapted from "Nigellissima" by Nigella Lawson)
cuts into 8-10 slices
150ml flavourless vegetable oil, plus some for greasing
3 medium bananas, very ripe indeed (approx.400gm total with skin on, 300gm without)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 eggs
150gm caster sugar (I use 100gm)
175gm plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 x 450gm/1lb deep loaf tin or 1 x 12-bun muffin tin

Slip a baking sheet into the ovenb, and preheat to 170C/gas mark 3. Get out a loaf tin, and line it with baking paper or a loaf tin liner, or lightly oil it. 
Mash the bananas with the vanilla extract and salt and then beat in the oil. 
Now, beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the sugar.
Mix the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and esperesso powder, and beat these dry ingredients into the runny batter.
Pour the batter into your prepared loaf tin, and pop it into the oven, on the baking sheet, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until slightly coming away at the sides and bulgingly risen. A cake tester should come out clean, barring the odd crumb. Wait for a day or at least half a day before slicing into it.

(I've used instant espresso granules, of which I've dissolved with the vanilla extract, and half a teaspoon of warm water)


I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
October Potluck!



and

Cookbook Countdown


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pork, Broccoli & Crisp Garlic Saute

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here. 


To link to Cookbook Countdown #10, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here


************************


My selected cookbook for this month, 


The star ingredient : Broccoli



An easy stir-fry dish. I have replaced the beef with pork fillet. And have used more garlic cloves, probably about 8. If you love garlic, then 3 cloves is not enough!



A tasty vegetable stir-fry, great dish as part of a main meal, with rice.


Beef, Broccoli & Crisp Garlic Saute
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma : Cooking From The Farmers' Market)
makes 4 servings
1 lb (500gm) flank or skirt steak (I've used about 300gm pork fillet)
1 tbsp cornstarch (cornflour)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp canola oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (about 8 cloves)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups (8oz/125gm) small broccoli florets
3 tbsp dry white wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
cooked white rice for serving

Cut the beef across the gtrain into strips 3 inches (7.5cm) long and 1/4 inch (6mm) thick. In a bowl, stir together the cornstarch, salt, sugar, baking soda, and 2 tbsp water. Add the beef and stir until well mixed. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a frying pan over high heat, add the canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towels.
Add the beef, broccoli and 2 tbsp of the wine to the pan and cook until the beef is opaque and the broccoli is tendeer, about 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce andf the remaining wine and stir for 1 minute. Transfer to warmed plates and accompany with steamed rice.


Grab a  cookbook and join us!

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #10 hosted by 



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Irish Soda Bread

This month's selected bread recipe at Rose's Bread Bible Bakers, is Irish Soda Bread. Rose's Bread Bible Bakers is a group of bloggers who are currently baking from Rose Levy Beranbaum's book, The Bread Bible.

Rose's recipe calls for black raisins soaked in whiskey, drained before adding to the dough. The whiskey is then used to flavour softened butter which is used as a spread to enjoy slices of the soda bread later. 



The dough is made up of unbleached all-purpose flour, or a mixture of all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. I have used unbleached all-purpose flour. The dough is very sticky, but, Rose has advised to avoid adding extra flour, and only flour your hands if absolutely necessary. So I flour my hands, shape the dough and try to smooth out the surface as best as I can, even though I've seen that most Irish Soda Bread has a rustic and bumpy surface. I measured the shaped dough to a 6" round, about 1-3/4 inches in height as instructed. Slash a cross on the surface and bake until golden brown and cooked through. I measured the baked bread, and it is now 7" by 3-inch high bread, just as Rose says! 



Moist, not too sweet and the raisins are plump and fragrant from the whiskey. An excellent bread!


The Irish Whiskey Butter. Reserved whiskey from the raisins is heated with some sugar in the microwave until the sugar melts. Leave it to cool completely and whisk into softened butter until incorporated. 


A slice of Irish Soda Bread spread with Irish Whiskey Butter. What a tasty boozy treat for afternoon tea! The bread is even good on its own. This recipe is a keeper!


Up next in November, we will be baking Rich and Creamy Ginger Scones, page 143.

I'm also linking this post with Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fig Leaf Coconut Rice

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), the theme is "Ingredients That Inspire". We are cooking with our current featured chef, Heidi Swanson and many of her recipes has ingredients that I have never cooked or used before, so I am inspired by the varieties of ingredients in her recipes. But one ingredient that stands very clearly above the rest is, the usage of fig leaf. I have one fig plant for the past 2-1/2 years, and I have never thought of using the leaves for cooking, other than to look forward to the fruits and admire the pretty shaped leaves.


Heidi has a photo of the reverse side of the fig leaf on her blog post. I was thinking why does she photographed the leaf on the reverse and not the front. Now I know. The reverse side is much more attractive and pretty to look at, with the white veins clearly stands out against the green of the leaf, the contrast is rather attractive.

I plucked one more leaf and took a sniff, but could not get get any aroma or smell anything from it. I then tear it and could get a faint lovely scent. Now, I am really curious to use it in cooking.

Heidi got her inspiration to use fig leaf from one lady called Claudia Schwartz, whom she meets nearly each week. You can read about it from her blog. Heidi uses the fig leaf, on top of simmering coconut rice. You would want to use unsprayed leaf. With homegrown ones, you need not worry!



Brown rice is mixed with coconut milk, water and salt. I cooked the rice using the rice cooker. When the rice has come to a boil, place the fig leaf on top of the rice, cover the pot and continue to cook until the rice is done. If you are cooking the rice over the stove top, be sure to check on the rice regularly to ensure that the bottom does not burn. 

Brown rice needs a little extra water than the regular jasmine rice. I've cooked one cup of rice and used about 1/2 cup coconut milk plus 1-1/3 cups water. 



Heidi has served her rice with pan-fried tofu, sliced scallions, sliced dried figs and toasted pepitas. I pan-fried the tofu with some chopped garlic and a generous pinch of coarse pepper flakes with a pinch of salt. The chopped scallions remain but I've omitted the sliced dried figs (did not have any!) and the toasted pepitas. I have however added lots of crispy fried shallots, and half an egg. Now this is not the regular hard-boiled egg, this is my homemade Salted Egg, which is a very Asian ingredient. Whole duck eggs, still with the shell, are soaked in salty water brine with some Chinese wine added in, and left to preserve for 21 days. Remove the eggs from the salty brine, rinse the eggs and boil them as you would for hard-boiled eggs. We usually eat it with rice and congee, and as an ingredient in cooking. 

The fig leaf infused rice, smells very nice. I have always use pandanus leaf to cook coconut rice, which is common, but this is entirely a new way with the usage of fig leaf. While pandanus leaf have a stronger fragrant aroma, the fragrance of the fig leaf is light and lovely in its own way.

Heidi describes it as "Added to a pot of simmering grains, the fig leaf imparts a subtle flavor and perfume to the entire pot. The best way I can describe it - a bit green, and a bit nutty. But more like raw pepitas than walnuts. And coconut, but green coconut. There are some of those notes as well".

Coconut rice is a popular food over here, which we call "Nasi Lemak", and is eaten served with spicy sambal, crispy fried anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, cucumber and crunchy peanuts. So this take with the fig leaf infused coconut brown rice, eaten with the tofu and all the rest of the topping is something that is very different for me. And I got to say that I've enjoyed this meal very much! Everything complements each other in a delicious way!

Now instead of looking out for only the fig fruits, I'm looking at the leaves in a totally new way! Heidi has some other suggestions on how to use the fig leaves, by infusing them in the cream when making ice cream or gelato or use it to infuse some vodka to make fig leaf vodka tonics. I think I'll be trying it on ice cream next.


Fig Leaf Coconut Rice
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
1-1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 fresh fig leaf, unsprayed

to serve : lots and lots of shredded scallions, toasted pepitas, sliced dried figs, and pan-fried tofu

Start by rinsing the rice. You can do this by putting the rice in the thick-bottomed pan it is going to cook in. Fill the pot halfway with water, swish the rice around (the water will get cloudy), and pour out the cloudy water. Repeat a few times.
To the rinsed (and drained) rice add the coconut milk, water, and salt. Stir to combine. Place the pot over medium high heat and bring the liquid to a boil (uncovered). Stir once or twice to prevent the rice from scorching down at the bottom of the pot. Once the liquid comes to a boil reduce the heat to a low, low simmer, place the fig leaf on top of the simmering rice, and cover the pot tightly with a lid. Simmer until the grains are tender, the timing will differ based on your rice, but typically 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from heat, and allow to sit for ten minutes or so. Fluff with a fork, and your rice is ready to serve.
Serve topped with any or all of the following : lots and lots of shredded scallions, toasted pepitas, sliced dried figs and pan-fried tofu.


I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week,
Ingredients That Inspire!



Friday, October 21, 2016

Baked Eggs With Kale and Ham

This week at Cook the Book Fridays, the selected recipe is Baked Eggs With Kale and Smoked Salmon. CtBF is currently cooking through David Lebovitz's cookbook, My Paris Kitchen.

I was looking forward to make this, as we love eggs around here, and also to use my homegrown kale, which I have been using in a number of recipes recently. 

David's recipe calls for smoked salmon but I've used one of the variations that David has suggested, slice of harm torn into pieces. According to him, bacon, crumbled cooked sausages or even sauteed mushrooms can be used instead.



I've used small ramekins for individual servings. Bottom layer is the sauteed kale, followed by a layer of the torn ham pieces. Crack an egg over the ham pieces, scatter some grated cheese over, of which I have used mozzarella. Dribble a tablespoon of heavy cream over the cheese, and sprinkle some bread crumbs over. The breadcrumbs is made by toasting in a skillet with butter, garlic, thyme and salt, until toasted.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Serve immediately.


I baked these for 16 minutes, as the egg whites are not done yet at 12 minutes. Serve immediately, as up would want to eat this right after baking. You can get everything prepared and ready, then assemble and bake it later about 15 minutes or so,  before you intend to serve it.



A spoonful of deliciousness! 



The melty gooey mozzarella, my kids favourite cheese!  I've made this for lunch, and it was enjoyed by everyone. There's a request for a repeat! I would try with the other variations that David has suggested. 

Do stop by CtBF to view everyone's take on this delicious baked egg dish. If you have the book or thought of getting one, please do, and join us! Full details here.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Nutty Mulberry Financiers

Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is a baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  This is a "spin-off" from our on-going monthly Cookbook Countdown. Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is for baking desserts ; pastries, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, breads. While the monthly Cookbook Countdown is to use from one selected cookbook each month, for CC Specials : Bake, you may use any baking cookbooks of your choice, either from one single cookbook or from numerous books. The link is open from October to end December. You may link your post here. Do join us, everyone is welcome!


To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown #10, click here


*************************************

The next recipe I've made from Williams-Sonoma : Home Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw is Nutty Raspberry Financiers, a recipe, courtesy from La Tartine Gourmande

Raspberry is very expensive and it is not always available. So I've used some frozen mulberries, of which I've collected and kept frozen, from my one and only small little mulberry plant in a pot. Since financiers uses only egg whites instead of whole eggs, this is a great way of using up the frozen egg whites accumulating in my freezer!



These financiers are gluten-free, using almond meal, hazelnut flour and rice flour. I have reduced the sugar to 80gm and the sweetness was just right. A vanilla bean is split, seeds scraped out and both the seeds with it's pod, and butter is placed in a small saucepan, over medium heat until the butter melts, starts to brown lightly and smells nutty. I have however omitted the vanilla bean, and have used vanilla extract which is added to the batter later. Let the butter cool slightly.

Beat the egg whites to the dry ingredients, add the butter in three batches, mixing well after each addition. I've added the vanilla extract at this stage. Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes. This recipe yields 6 muffins instead of  8. 


Just before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar.


Moist, soft with nutty aroma. The mulberries works out great. These little gluten-free mini cakes, as the author says, "They are the perfect afternoon snack served alongside a hot cup of tea".


Nutty Raspberry Financiers
(adapted from "Home Baked Comfort", Kim Laidlaw)
makes 8 financiers
1/2 cup (2 oz/60gm) almond meal
1/3 cup (1 oz/30gm) hazelnut flour
1/4 cup (1 oz/30gm) amaranth flour or white rice flour
1/2 cup (4 oz/125gm) granulated sugar (I use 80gm)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 vanilla bean (replaced with 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, to be added into the batter later)
7 tbsp (3-1/2 oz/105gm) unsalted butter
4 large egg whites
24 raspberries (I use frozen mulberries)
confectioners' sugar for serving

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F (180C). Line 8 standard muffin cups with paper liners or grease with butter. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the almond meal and hazelnut flour on the prepared sheet and bake until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
In a bowl, using a whisk, combine the toasted almond meal and hazelnut flour, amaranth flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the back of a paring knife. In a small saucepan, combine the vanilla bean and seeds with the butter. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts, starts to brown lightly, and has a nutty aroma. Let cool for 3-4 minutes.
Beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter mixture in 3 additions, mixing well after each. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups and top with the raspberries, pressing them gently into the batter. Bake until the financiers are lightly golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.


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Cookbook Countdown



Monday, October 17, 2016

Fluffy Dinner Rolls

Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is a baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  This is a "spin-off" from our on-going monthly Cookbook Countdown. Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is for baking desserts ; pastries, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, breads. While the monthly Cookbook Countdown is to use from one selected cookbook each month, for CC Specials : Bake, you may use any baking cookbooks of your choice, either from one single cookbook or from numerous books. The link is open from October to end December. You may link your post here. Do join us, everyone is welcome!


To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown #10, click here


*************************************

These Fluffy Dinner Rolls recipe is from America's Test Kitchen latest book on bread, Breads Illustrated.

Product Details



The dough is pretty easy to work with. It is mixed in a stand mixer. The dough is then divided into fifteen pieces, rolled into round balls and place on a baking tray lined with foil. The purpose of the foil is to make the removal of the baked rolls easier by lifting the foil at both ends, so that the buns retain their beautiful shape. But some of the buns got stuck to the foil. I have removed buns like this the usual way of inverting the tray onto a baking sheet, and re-inverting it onto a wire rack so that the buns are right side up. And have no problem maintaining the shape of the buns, so the next time, I'll skip the foil!



When the dough have risen nice and puffy, gently brush the tops with egg mixture and bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes.


Freshly baked!


Soft and fluffy to the touch.


Spread with some butter and favourite jam. With a mug of hot coffee or tea, for tea-time or breakfast. Or simply dunk in your favourite beverage!


Fluffy Dinner Rolls
(adapted from "Bread Illustrated", America's Test Kitchen)
makes 15 rolls
5 cups (25 ounces) all-purpose flour
2-1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) whole milk, room temperature
1/3 cup (4 ounces) honey
1 large egg, room temperature
4 tablespoons (1-2/3 ounces) vegetable shortening, melted
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water and pinch of salt

  1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in a bowl of stand mixer. Whisk milk, honey, egg, melted shortening, and melted butter in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until honey has dissolved.
  2. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, about 8 minutes.
  3. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Make foil sling for 13 by 9-inch baking dish by folding 2 long sheets of aluminium foil; first sheet should be 13 inches wide and second sheet should be 9 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in dish perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of dish. Push foil into corners and up sides of dish, smoothing foil flush to dish, then spray foil with vegetable oil spray.
  5. Press down on dough to deflate. Transfer dough to clean counter and stretch into even 15-inch log. Cut log into 15 equal pieces (about 3 ounces each) and cover loosely with greased plastic.
  6. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), form into rough ball by stretching dough around your thumbs and pinching edges together so that top is smooth. Place ball seam side down on clean counter and, using your cupped hand, drag in small circles until dough feels taut and round.
  7. Arrange dough balls seam side down into 5 rows of 3 in prepared dish, cover loosely with greased plastic, and let rise until nearly doubled in size and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. (Unrisen rolls can be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours; let rolls sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking).
  8. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Gently brush rolls with egg mixture and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating dish halfway through baking. Let rolls cool in dish for 15 minutes. Using foil overhang, transfer rolls to wire rack, Serve warm or at room temperature.


Grab a cookbook and join us!

Cookbook Countdown

Friday, October 14, 2016

Energy Bars

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), the theme, Monthly Featured Chef : Ellie Krieger, is the last one in line for the monthly featured chef theme. Starting from next month, the theme will be changed to a featured ingredient or dish, and we shall have the option to choose to cook with any of our past and present featured chefs at IHCC.

It has been awhile since I've cook with Ellie Krieger, and I have been thinking of making some snacks, especially on the afternoons that I want something light yet healthy to nibble on. Of course, you can count on Ellie Krieger for her fabulous healthy recipes and found just the right snack to make, Energy Bars. 


Half of the baked bars with sesame seeds spread over the top, leaving the other half as it is.


These bars are pretty easy to make, it comes together pretty quickly. What you need is a food processor to pulse all the ingredients (except maple syrup and eggs), until finely chopped. Then pour in the eggs and maple syrup and pulse  to a thick paste. Spread onto a very well greased baking tray, bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Easy peasy! I did not have any dates, so I used dried cranberries. Also did not have any maple syrup, so I've used honey.

My food processor could not pulse all the ingredients at once, so I have divided into two and pulse each half separately, mixing them together before adding the eggs and honey. One thing to note is, to cut each dried apricots into three so that it is easier to pulse in the food processor into smaller pieces. (The whole apricot got stuck in between the blades, so I got to remove them and cut into three pieces each, before proceeding to pulse them together with the other ingredients. This was done pretty quickly as there was only half a cup of whole dried apricots).

As I was spreading the thick paste into the baking tray, I was thinking of a layer of sesame seeds coating the top of the bars. I happened to have some toasted sesame seeds in a jar, so I spread them over half of the bar, leaving the other half as it is. I baked the bars for 22 minutes.



These bars cut pretty easily. It stays together and not crumbly when cut. Which one would you prefer? With or without the sesame seeds?



I like them both. Just the right amount of sweetness. The ones with sesame seeds has an extra nutty seedy bite. The ones without is equally good. The family are not fond of energy bars like this, so I knew that when I make this, I am going to be the one that is going to finish most of it. No complaints from me! I like to munch on bars and flapjacks with a cup of warm tea in the afternoon. I packed some pieces for my nephew and the rest are for me to enjoy for a few afternoons, and in between!


Energy Bars
(adapted from "The Food You Crave", Ellie Krieger)
makes 24 bars (3 x 1-/2 inch)
cooking spray
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup shelled unsalted raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup roasted wheat germ
1/4 cup whole-grain pastry flour or whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup dried apricots (each piece cut into 3)
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pitted dried dates (dried cranberries)
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Place all the ingredients, except the maple syrup and eggs, in a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add the syrup and eggs and pulse until the mixture is well combined. It will resemble a coarse paste.
Transfer to the baking pan and spread evenly to cover the bottom. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days or wrap individually and freeze for up to 3 months.


I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week, 
Monthly Featured Chef : Ellie Krieger

and

Cookbook Countdown


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rustic Tomato & Mozzarella Tart

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here. 


To link to Cookbook Countdown #10, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here


************************


My selected cookbook for this month,


The star ingredient : Tomatoes

I have a few slices of frozen puff pastry which I want to use up. Found this Rustic Tomato Tart recipe and made them for brunch. Recipes uses both yellow and red tomatoes, but I have used all red tomatoes as I could not find any yellow tomatoes.



Simple and quick to make. I have added slices of sandwich ham in some of the tarts, and leaving a few without. 


Bakes up really crispy and crunchy, and the tomatoes, with the garlic butter and cheeses, tastes really  yummy! 


Rustic Tomato & Mozzarella Tart
(adapted from "Williams-Sonoma : Cooking From The Farmers' Market)
makes 6-8 servings
2-3 ripe red and yellow tomatoes, about 8 oz (250gm) total weight, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch (3mm) thick
salt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
8 by 10-inch rectangle of frozen puff pastry, cut in half and thawed in the refrigerator
3/4 cup shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
4 tbsp good hard cheese, such as Parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
olive oil for drizzling

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400F (200C). Place the tomato slices on paper towels, season with salt, and let drain, 30-60 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic and butter. Place the puff pastry rectangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment (baking) paper. Brush with the garlic butter and season with salt. Leaving a 1/4-inch border, sprinkle the pastry evenly with the mozzarella and 2 tbsp of the Parmesan. Arrange the tomato slices on top. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsp Parmesan. Bake until puffed and golden, 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and drizzle with the olive oil and serve right away.


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I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #10 hosted by 



Monday, October 10, 2016

Asparagus Omelet with Chives & Garlic

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here. 


To link to Cookbook Countdown #10, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here


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My selected cookbook for this month, 
by Jodi Liano and Tasha DeSerio


The star ingredient : Asparagus


Bought some lovely thin asparagus spears from the farmers' market, to make this omelet dish for dinner. Simple and quick dish to cook. The asparagus are first trimmed of tough ends and cut into one inch pieces. The recipe calls for the asparagus to be boiled in salted water for about 3 minutes. But I have however use my simpler method. I placed the asparagus pieces in a microwaveable bowl, sprinkle some water and a pinch of salt. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute. Drain and proceed with the recipe.  I use Chinese chives from my garden pot.



The omelet is cooked over the stove for a few minutes, then finished the cooking in the oven until the omelet is set. Cut into wedges and serve.




Very nice omelet. We had this as part of a meal with rice, and the family likes it.


Asparagus Omelet with Chives & Garlic
(adapted from "Williams-Sonoma" - Cooking From The Farmers' Market)
makes 4 servings
1/2 lb (250gm) thin asparagus spears, tough ends removed
4 tbsp (60ml) olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
8 fresh chives, snipped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 large eggs
salt and freshly ground pepper

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 325F (180C).
Cut the asparagus into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the asparagus, and parboil for 3 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold running water, drain again, and pat dry.
(I microwaved the asparagus pieces, place in a microwavable bowl, sprinkle some water and a pinch of salt, cover and microwave on high for 1 minute. Drain). 
In a medium frying pan over low heat, warm 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the shallots and saute until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the chives, garlic, and asparagus and saute until the asparagus is tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Add the asparagus mixture and season with salt and pepper.
In an 8-inch (20-cm) ovenproof nonstick frying pan, warm the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the eggs are set around the edges, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to the oven and cook until set, 7-9 minutes. Let cool briefly.
Invert the omelet onto a large plate. Cut into wedges and serve right away.


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I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #10 hosted by 



Saturday, October 8, 2016

Super Banana Bread

Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is a baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  This is a "spin-off" from our on-going monthly Cookbook Countdown. Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is for baking desserts ; pastries, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, breads. While the monthly Cookbook Countdown is to use from one selected cookbook each month, for CC Specials : Bake, you may use any baking cookbooks of your choice, either from one single cookbook or from numerous books. The link is open from October to end December. You may link your post here. Do join us, everyone is welcome!


To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown #10, click here


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I'm baking through Home Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw as a personal project of mine, and the next recipe I've made is Super Banana Bread. Another keeper recipe. If you have some leftover bananas that are begging to be used, make this quick bread!


A lovely bread. I've made half a recipe for one loaf, so have used only half the amount of the ingredients listed in the recipe, with a further reduction in the amount of brown sugar used ; for half a recipe, I've used only 1/4 cup, and it is sweet enough. The bananas are very sweet to begin with!



I like the crumb texture of this quick bread. It is moist, soft and light, not as dense and heavy as some bananas bread tend to be. I will be making this again when I have leftover bananas.  

I've made half a recipe for one loaf, using half amount of the ingredients listed, with some changes to the following :
use nutmeg powder instead of freshly grated
use 1/4 cup light brown sugar
omitted the sprinkling of the turbinado sugar


Super Banana Bread
(adapted from "Home Baked Comfort", Kim Laidlaw)
makes 2 loaves
2 cups (10oz/315gm) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 very ripe, large bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1 cup (7oz/220gm) firmly packed dark brown sugar (I use 1/4 cup for one loaf)
1/2 cup (4oz/125gm) sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract\
4 tbsp (2oz/60gm) unsalted butter, melted
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F (180C). Generously butter two 9-by-5-inch (23-by-13-cm) loaf pans.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, whisk together the bananas, eggs, brown sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and butter. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a loaf comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pans, then turn the laoves out onto a wire rack to cool.



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