Sunday, November 10, 2013

Please help



Allow me to steer away from my usual food blog entries for now; for those who don't know me personally but have had came across my blogsite in random or visited on a regular basis, I would like you to know that my home is THE Philippines. I live in Australia with my little boy aka husband for a while now but I always consider the Philippines my home.

By now, our country made headlines YET again, I could have preferred the news to be on a positive but the news was about the super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), considered to be the strongest and deadliest typhoon recorded in recent times (in hurrican category, its a 5 on maximum), and stronger than Hurricane Katrina.

My heart hasn't recovered yet from the 7.2 magnitude (on richter scale) earthquake that the island of Bohol was unfortunately struck upon a few weeks ago - Bohol being one of my personal favourite islands, as I have been to the island so many times with stunning beaches and home to the smallest monkey in the world, Tarsier and home to the famous Chocolate Hills, and here yet again my country is in the eye of the storm, quite literally, with property damage in catastrophic proportions. The death toll is now 1,200 and counting.  My heart continues to bleed to this day...



I lifted this beautiful butterfly with the Philippine flag from Tyra Banks' instagram

Here are some articles and video clips about the deadly Typhoon Yolanda;

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2494635/Philippines-super-typhoon-Haiyan-powerful-storm-history.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-08/an-worlds-most-powerful-typhoon-makes-landfall-in-philippines/5078216


Im now appealing for the readers to help my countrymen, please help our fellow human beings on such (sad) plight. This humble blog of mine is about to reach 40, 000 hits, if the statistics were true, then there are people out there who well and truly read my blog and can empathise with me. If I were able to touch a single kind-hearted human soul with my plea then Im eternally indebted to you.

International aids are now pouring in, countries are rallying support but with such poor state of the island of Leyte, being hit the hardest, the damage apocalyptic, we need whatever help we can get. Please please help in anyway you can, I beg of you...

My family has been spared, thank you Lord but the 7,101 beautiful gem of islands of the Philippines are in some way my family too...

These are the links on how you can help;

Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate

World Vision
https://www.worldvision.org.ph/content/super-typhoon-yolanda-relief-efforts?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=appealfordonation&utm_

Unicef
http://donate.unicef.ph/campaign/24/typhoon-yolanda-emergency-appeal

Save the Children
http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.8856103/k.9BA3/Typhoon_Haiyan.htm

Catholic Relief Services
http://emergencies.crs.org/typhoon-haiyan-help-philippines-survive-and-recover/


This link has the complete list of agencies you can liaise with for your donation;


http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/43300-reliefph-victims-typhoon-yolanda-help



We desperately need your help. Here is hoping you hear the plea of my heart...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dreaming of Paris and Classic Opera Cake

We are building a house. Or planning to. I am NOT daunted about all the intrinsic details that go along with it. In fact I am looking forward to the whole gamut of the game; choosing the tiles and colours, selecting the packages, budgeting the essentials, weeding out the wants and sticking it out with the needs. Our weekends for a month now have been spent meeting with the land and house developers. Phew! I see our private coffer shrinking by the minute. We decided to make a change and its really about time: buy a new house, make the current house our investment property instead and really look after our future.

I am intimating this in the hope that the readers out there will also share our belief that saving and investing are good for THE future. My little boy says, Im too anal about these things. Just like I'm too anal about running our household. I asked him, Am I a perfectionist? My little boy then affirmed, with a big resounding YES! Lol. I beg to differ though. Perhaps it goes with age. I always get "3" on Enneagram test; 3 is the Achiever, not the Perfectionist, in the same breath that I'm defensive. Hahaha! Or I simply believe that you don't settle for less. Yes, I can be so process driven and can be extremely organised - as my boss would say much about me. And yes I thrive on work pressures. Be that as it may, my Legendary Mommy really taught me well, at the tender age of four (4) I already know how to tie my own shoe laces. Lol! And by 8 years old, I was already making sure my siblings get their lunch at school. I was trained to be this way, being the eldest child in the family.

So let me digress, building a house is costing us our European Holiday next year. Or may cost us the trip. It will be hideously expensive to do two things at the same time. But I wanna get to Paris and take our sweet time soaking in the culture, and experience the city, the Parisian way. There is a pletora of food to be had and far too many scenic spots to witness upon. I would also love to visit the United Kingdom again and spend time with my best friend who I haven't seen for 6 years, let alone see her two (2) darling little kids, as I am a godmother to both. 

Will we ever get to Paris next year? I don't know. Maybe. But for now, this classic Opera Cake would do.  

*Warning, this cake is not for the faith hearted, very rich and the making being process intensive. However, please endeavour as the final product is worth the pain and the love handle!  :)

The opéra, named after the Paris Grand Opéra of the 1900s, comprises neat layers of sponge, buttercream and ganache, all enticingly flavoured with coffee.




Makes 12 ( Mine actually yielded 16 pieces)
Ingredients
8 tablespoons ready-made coffee
Almond cake
120 g egg whites (about 4 egg whites)
80 g caster sugar
4 eggs
130 g ground almonds
75 g icing sugar
40 g plain flour
5 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Ganache
300 ml whipping cream
3 pinches of salt
500 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
100 g milk chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
Coffee Italian meringue buttercream
250 g caster sugar
100 ml water
5 large egg whites
50 g caster sugar
500 g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
1 shot of espresso or 50 g instant coffee granules
Equipment
3 Swiss roll pans, lined with greaseproof paper
Sugar thermometer
20 x 30-cm rectangle frame


Start the recipe the day before you want to serve the cake. Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F) Gas 5.
For the almond cake
Put the egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer or in a bowl using an electric whisk and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Whisk in the whole eggs. Gently fold in the ground almonds, icing sugar, flour and coffee granules using a large metal spoon. Finally, stir in the melted butter.
Spread the mixture thinly and evenly onto the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 5–10 minutes. Flip each slab of cake onto a sheet of greaseproof paper dusted with a little semolina. Peel the baking paper off the top and allow the cakes to cool.
For the ganache
Put the cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil over low heat. Put the chocolates, salt and butter in a heatproof bowl and pour in the boiled cream. Using a spatula, start to mix the ingredients in a circular motion, just in the centre of the bowl. Keep mixing in a tight circle until the chocolate starts to melt and emulsify with the liquid. Gradually widen the circle to incorporate more of the mixture.
When you have reached the edge of the bowl, the chocolate should be entirely melted and all the ingredients should have emulsified and combined into a shiny, rich, velvety truffle ganache. If the ganache looks like it is splitting, add a dash of cold milk – that should bring it back. Finally, fold in the coffee granules and allow to cool slightly.
For the coffee Italian meringue buttercream
Put the 250 g sugar and the water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer over low heat until the syrup reaches 121˚C/250˚F on a sugar thermometer. Use a brush dipped in cold water to dislodge any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. This will stop the syrup from crystallizing.
Meanwhile, put the egg whites and the 50 g sugar in a stand mixer and begin whisking until stiff peaks form. You can use a heatproof bowl and an electric whisk but you may need a second person’s help when you come to pour the syrup in!
Once the syrup has reached the right temperature, slowly pour it in a steady stream into the meringue bowl with the beaters still running. Avoid letting the syrup touch the beaters otherwise you’ll get lumps of hardened sugar. Keep whisking until you have used up all the syrup and the meringue is glossy, thick and has cooled substantially – this may take several minutes of whisking. The bowl itself must have cooled too.
Now add the butter, a cube at a time, whisking well between each addition until the butter is used up and fully incorporated in the meringue. Finally, whisk in the coffee.


To assemble
Press the rectangle frame down on top of each cake slab in turn to cut out equal rectangles of cake. Leave the frame pressed into one cake and brush half the ready-made coffee over the cake within the frame.
Spread half the meringue buttercream over that and spread level with a spatula.
Freeze for 10 minutes to set, then spoon one-quarter of the ganache over the top of the buttercream and spread level.
Place a second cake slab on top. Top with the remaining coffee, meringue buttercream and one-quarter of the ganache as before and freeze for 30 minutes to set.
Place the last cake slab on the top and spread another quarter of the ganache over it. Freeze overnight, still in its frame, and reserve the last of the ganache.
The next day, warm the reserved ganache to liquify it. Gently ease the frame away from the layered opéra and cut it into 12 neat fingers using a hot, sharp knife.
Put the slices on a wire rack over a tray and pour the ganache over each one to enrobe it. Allow to set before serving.
recipe from 'Patisserie at Home by Will Torrent' (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

El Nido, Palawan's Big and Small Lagoons and some Almond Macarons too!

The place is magical. And leaves me speechless. I have seen the other side of Palawan more than a decade ago. I thought back then that other side was already heaven on earth. I was wrong. The side that we visited a week ago was Nirvana. Not even photos can capture the beauty of the place. But taking photos is next to best thing to capture the memories. Taking photo gathers a recollection of the place, of every nook and cranny, and of the water that warms your exhausted body or your cold heart...

There are many things to do in El Nido, many places for your eyes to feast on and (there is your heart) full of memories that you can keep - the sea water lapping through the shore and against the cottage stilts and the roaring waves lulling you to sleep, or a cacophony of sound that you hear in the island upon waking up and the grand limestones along the thick vegetation of greens leaves a sweet smile on your lips.

Even writing this blog makes me heave a sigh of great contentment and gratitude for having enjoyed paradise for four (4) days that is El Nido Palawan.



We hired a private boat to see the islands of El Nido, Palawan. My sole intention for doing that was for us to be able to take our sweet time soaking in the vista around us and not having people to wait for us. Our first stop was the Big Lagoon. And as soon as we entered the Big Lagoon, we emphatically understood - why this place is the world's best island and why people who visit the place are held captivated.

The stillness of the place enthrals you. You commune with nature. The quietness is palpable as well as infectious. We didnt talk a lot, we were just quietly admiring nature. The beauty of the place is quite disarming. There is seemingly an unspoken agreement among the visitors on the other boats - not to ruin the stillness of the place. The place makes you happy; our happiness is quite obvious and you see other people mirror your emotion by and when they wave back at you from each passing boat. At least that's howI felt. 


Our second stop was the Small Lagoon. It is as impressive as the Big Lagoon. It seems detached - a haughty, petite and beautiful lady beckoning you to admire her yet she remains untouchable. I didn't have an underwater camera and I regretted the opportunity that I have lost.

Having said that,  with no technology to help me capture her beauty, I am forced to make an ode, as feeble as I am, of her beguiling and charming nature. An estuary leads to a small crevice to the small lagoon. And the small lagoon can only be reached by a kayak or if you swam through it. My husband and I paddled though the crevice to reach the small lagoon.



The water was so still - a duel of blue and green. The marine life was rich. You can practically see schools of fish as you peek through the water. The stillness seems revered punctuated only  by the singing of the birds and the trickling down of water through the cavities of the rocks. According to the Locals of El Nido, Palawan, the small lagoon used to be a cave with the roof stone that collapsed, thousands or a million years ago.

The experience to witness the lagoons seems surreal. The place looks surreal. El Nido Palawan is beautiful beyond measure. Its a place to find yourself again battered by the daily grind of life. I invite you to see the place for yourself, my truth is gold.

Nonewithstanding the rain hovering over us on most days we were there, and the grey sky threatening us of the great deluge anytime soon, the lagoons made a great impact on us, and no matter how long it will take, we shall return to the paradise on earth called El Nido Palawan.


Almond French Macaron by Laduree



Recipe for the macaron shells:
2 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp (275g) ground almonds
2 cups + 1 tbsp (250g) confectioners sugar
6 egg whites + half and egg white
1 cup + 1 tbsp (210g) granulated sugar





1. combine the ground almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor and pulse to obtain a fine powder. then strain through a sieve to remove any lumps.
2. in a clean dry bowl, whisk 6 egg whites to a foam. once they are frothy, add a third of the granulated sugar and whip until sugar is dissolved then add another third of the granulated sugar and whip for another minute, finally add the remaining granulated sugar and whip for 1 more minute.
using a rubber spatula, delicately fold in the sifted mixture of ground almonds and confectioners sugar into the whipped egg whites. in a separate bowl whip the remaining egg white until just frothy, then add to the mixture folding it in gently to loosen the batter.
 3. transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe small macaron rounds 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 in diameter. lightly tap the sheet so the macarons spread fully.
preheat oven to 300f/ 150c or gas mark 2 allow the macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes and then place them in the oven,bake for approximately 15 minutes until they form a slight crust.

4. remove from oven and with a small glass carefully pour a tiny amount of water in between the baking sheet and the parchment paper (lift the paper ever so slightly corner by corner).

the moisture and steam that result from the water on the hot baking sheet will allow the macarons to peel of easily once they are cool.

do not pour too much water or the macarons could become soggy.

allow them to cool completely.
Photo taken through my iphone

Photo taken through my iphone




Fillings:


150g butter

320g almond paste

120g unsweetened almond pulp (or heavy cream)

80ml whipping cream


Directions:
1. cut the butter into small pieces. put in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water and soften until creamy, without allowing it to melt.
in a large bowl, thin the almond paste by mixing it with the almond pulp, add the chilled cream and softened butter and beat on high speed with an electric whisk.
spoon the cream into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe on to one of the shells and sandwich another on top.
keep macarons in an airtight container in the fridge for 12 hours before tasting. this is because during this time a reaction takes place among the ingredience further enhancing the flavour and texture.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ensaimada (Brioche)

A couple of weeks ago, we saw King Kong, the musical (play) at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne. Technically it was brilliant. You kinda appreciate the hard work wired into the movements of arduously making KingKong move like the real thing. To carry the arms and the legs of the mammal is a mammoth task. Pun intended. The head of King Kong was made to move by an electronic board. The limbs' were all due to puppeteers. The story line was old; setting was New York, heroine Anne falling in love with the skipper of the ship that brought them to Skull Island, King Kong saving her from the dangers of jungle, heroine showing empathy to King Kong, King Kong was drugged and brought to Broadway , and the iconic scene on top of the Empire State Building where King Kong fell into the abyss of oblivion. That in a nutshell is the story of the giant gorilla. Although King Kong doesn't belong to my top 3 musical plays (Les Miz remains my all time favourite), I like it as much. Just because.The last musical play I was able to watch was Rock of Ages and that was eons ago. My eyes welled up as soon as they turned off the lights, signalling the start of the show. I literally have shivers shooting down my spine every time the heroine hits an octave higher. 

I like musical plays and Im arty fartsy that way. My little boy tells me so. I love going to the museums, appreciating art. I love old buildings, pebble stones on alleys of brick wall. Soaking in other cultures is up my alley. I cant draw to save my life. But I appreciate good things and hard work and innate talent. of the old world and the new.

This recipe is from old and distant past. It is spanish in origin. Adapted by Filipinos and made it their own. I must say its the best brioche bar none. We call it Ensaimada. And its my favourite merienda or snacks of all time. I try  to make it as less sinful as I can. You can tweak it by putting ube or purple yam in between those rolls or make the butter on top even more sinful and delectable. I chose not too, mindful of those love handles slowly showing their ugly head.






*Snagged from thetummytrain.com
All photos are raw and by NoSetMenu
INGREDIENTS
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water, 100 to 110° F *
6 tablespoons sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature, plus more melted butter for brushing the rolls
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup evaporated milk
canola oil for greasing proofing bowl, baking sheet, and brioche molds


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. To proof yeast, add one tablespoon sugar and let stand for 10 minutes. The mixture should foam up and double in volume. This means the yeast is active. If the yeast does not foam and double, discard and repeat.
2. Sift flour and salt together twice. Add about 1/2 cup of flour to the yeast mixture and set aside.
3. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
4. Turn the speed to medium-low, add yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Add flour-salt mixture alternately with milk, mixing until well incorporated.
6. Finally add yeast mixture, beating well.
7. Replace the paddle with a kneading hook and knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand on a clean surface dusted with flour until smooth and elastic.
8. Let the dough rest in a bowl greased lightly with canola oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until double in size, about one to two hours. Meanwhile, brush 12 brioche molds lightly with oil.

9. Once risen, punch down the dough and divide into twelve equal portions.
10. Roll out each piece to a thin sheet, brush with melted butter, and roll it like you would a jelly roll.
11. Coil this into a spiral-shaped bun. Either place the coiled dough flat on greased baking sheets or in greased fluted brioche molds.
12. Set the dough aside to rise a second time, until double in size, about an hour. When the dough is almost done, preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
13. Bake until the crust turns golden brown. Brush with melted butter and dust generously with sugar. **

Storage: The rolls will keep for about a day or two at room temperature. Refrigerate to make them last for up to 5 days and simply reheat before eating, if desired. Remember that bread is best eaten fresh.

** You can also top ensaymadas with margarine, a sprinkling of sugar, and some grated cheese, if desired.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Salted Caramel Brownies

What a nice surprise to find my blog NoSetMenu with 36,000++ hits. Say what??  In absentia in blogging for two (2) years, I found my blog with thousands of hits. The thousands is an icing on the cake really. I know 36,000 is a pathetic number, as other bloggers would have millions but hey it is still something to reckon with and be proud of. Somewhere across the universe, there are kindred spirits who share my interest. Lol. My intention of opening a blog is to share with you my love for food. Or creating them for that matter. If randomly you found the recipes and you are able to re-create them then Im a happy camper. I have some pushover friends and friends of my little boy who encouraged me - to open a blog that is; a treasure chest where I could keep memories of my tiny kitchen, an avenue to hone my interest and a  place where my creative juices overflow.

To cut the chase off, here is a recipe that will knock your socks off;

*Recipe snagged from Ed Kimber/TheBoyWhoBakes
** Photos are all mine. All raw.





Salted Caramel Brownies – Makes 12
Salted Caramel Filling
175g caster sugar
150ml double cream
10g unsalted butter
large pinch of flaked sea salt
Fudge Brownies
180g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder (my preferred brand is Green and Blacks)
1/4 tsp salt
300g dark chocolate, around 65-75% cocoa solids
150g unsalted butter
220g light brown sugar
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract










To make the caramel place the sugar into a medium saucepan, set over medium heat and cook until the sugar melts and caramelises – make sure to cook it far enough – it should look like the colour of an old penny. Pour in half the cream and all the salt, be careful the mixture will bubbly up violently. Once the mixture has calmed down pour in the remaining cream followed by the butter, if there are any lumps place the pan back on the heat and stir until smooth. Take off the heat and allow to cool and then pour into a squeeze bottle (this makes it easier to spread the caramel later).


For the brownies preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Grease a 9×13 light coloured pan and line with a strip of parchment leaving about a 2-inch overhang along the long edges to make removing the brownies easier. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside. Place the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and stir occasionally until the mixture is fully melted. Take the bowl of the heat and add the eggs and sugars and beat until the mixture is smooth. Sieve over the flour mixture and gently fold together.

Divide the mixture equally in half and spread out the first half into the prepared tin. Using the squeeze bottle pour the caramel over the batter leaving a 1 1/2 cm border around the outside. You now need to spread the remaining batter over the caramel and this bit can be a little tricky. You can gently drape it over the caramel but it can be hard to get an even layer so my preferred method is to use a piping bag using a wide flat piping tip(with the flat side facing up).

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 until the a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, you dont want raw batter. Allow to cool completely before using a sharp knife to cut into squares.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lemon Macarons

Today, I opened my blogsite after a long time. My heart did a flutter but my fingers froze...musing, do I have to? Mulling over, can I still do it? I don't think I can still write. I'm rusty. Real life has taken over. My writing skills wasn't made out of genetics I think. Unlike some people I know. I wasn't borne with great writing skills. Mine was nurtured over time and out of a requirement from studying - tons of reports and analyses, a thesis or two; Borne of writing emails, investigation reports and transcripts at work. And from reading - encircling those proses, phrases and words, remembering them and savouring their meaning. 

Reading has always been one of the things I love to do. I still do. Words and Proses especially those beautifully crafted almost always move me. I usually cant wait to finish reading beautiful words. I remember them. And like honey touching my lips, words are sweet. I love "flowery" words. To me, they have colours and beauty. They are alive. I used to memorise all the adjectives in Thesaurus too. 

While my writing skills isn't natural, my cooking and baking skills are. And I would like to think so, if you may. My legendary Mommy passed on to us, her kids, her natural skill in the kitchen. 

Since my words and phrases are filled with ineptness, let these photos do the talking. Let them move you as words do me. You can have the cake and eat it too.... Life is too short.



Lemon Macarons – Pierre Herme “Macaron”
300g ground almonds
300g icing sugar
110g egg whites “liquefied”
1/2g yellow gold food colouring (or 1 / 4 tsp. Coffee)
10g lemon yellow food coloring 
300g Granulated Sugar
75g of mineral water
110g egg whites “liquefied”
225g fresh whole eggs  
240g granulated sugar
8g Lemon zest
160g fresh lemon juice
350g unsalted butter
100g ground almonds


1. The day before, prepare the lemon cream. Rinse and dry the lemons. Zest the lemons so you have 4g of zest. Rub the zest into the sugar with your hands. Mix lemon juice, sugar/lemon and eggs in a bowl. Put it in a bain-marie. Whisk until the mixture is at 83/84C (this took forever and I’m not sure I got all the way!)
2. Leave to cool to 60C before adding the butter in pieces. Whip until the cream is smooth using an immersion blender, mixing for about 10 min. Pour the cream into a baking dish. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the cream and keep it in refrigerator overnight.
3. On the next day, sift the icing sugar with the almond powder. I tend to put this almond/sugar mix in a food processor for a good few pulses because the store bought ground almonds are apparently not as fine as a professional kitchens use and this can effect the way the wet is absorbed by the dry goods. Mix the colourings in the first amount of “liquefied” egg whites. Add this to the icing sugar/almond mix but don’t mix together.
photo taken with my Iphone
4. Boil the water and sugar to 118C. Once the syrup is at 115C, simultaneously, begin to whisk the second amount of “liquefied” white eggs. Pour the 118C sugar syrup onto the whites down the side of the mixer bowl avoiding the whisk. Continue to whisk and let cool to 50C before adding them to the sugar-almond mix.

5. With a rubber spatula, fold it into the icing sugar almond powder whilst turning the bowl through a quarter turn on each fold. When the dough just begins to shine, it is ready. The batter will resemble a cake mixture being a bit runny. Online this stage is often described as looking like magma, which I take to mean the batter should form a ribbon that keeps its shape for around 10 seconds.
6. Pour it into a pastry bag fitted with a No. 11 plain tip. Pipe the mixture into circles about 3.5cm in diameter, spacing them every 2cm on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Tap the baking sheets on a work surface covered with a kitchen towel to let any air bubbles rise out. Let the shells crust for at least 30 min – they should go from shiny to a slightly duller look that wont stick to your finger if you lightly touch one. This rest is to help to develop the proper “feet”.
7. Preheat oven to 180C. Put the baking sheets into the oven. Bake for 12 minutes quickly opening the oven door twice during baking first at 8 minutes the at 10. Out the oven, slide the parchment and shells on the work surface. For me this has always been too high a temperature I cook at around 160C and for a little less time but it all depends on your oven but you don’t want them to brown so bear this in mind.
8. Mix the lemon cream with almond powder. Pour it into a pastry bag fitted with a plain no.11 tip and pipe generous amounts onto half the shells and top with a second shell. Store in the refrigerator overnight to obtain the perfect texture.
Photo taken with my Iphone

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Steamed Mussels with Lemon Grass, Basil and Wine

After a year, here I am again. Argh! I have neglected my blog by a mile. My last entry was moons ago.  I don't know if its right to promise to be more diligent this time. Yet again. I don't want to make promises I can't keep. I don't even know if I could still write. I will try my best  - is all I can do. Not because I have ceased cooking and baking. Im telling you now, I have taken thousands of photos of my creations. I have been cooking and baking up a storm. I need to get my life back again. Cooking/baking is my life. Working full time is a sideline. Hehehe.

Please wait for me, guys, With vengeance, I will be back.

For the meantime, I shall leave you with this...

Before
After...gone in 10 minutes!
Preparation time time: 30 minutes
Total cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 4-6

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) mussels
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stems lemon grass (white part only), chopped
1-2 teaspoons chopped red chillies
250 ml (1 cup) white wine or water
1 tablespoon fish sauce
60g (1 cup) fresh thai basil leaves, roughly chopped 

Before


After
1. Scrub the outside of the mussels with a brush. Remove and discard the beards. Soak the mussels in a bow of cold water for 10 minutes, drain and discard any open shells.
2. Heat the oil in a wok or large pan. Add the onion, garlic, lemon grass and chillies, and cook for 4 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and fish sauce to the work and cook for 3 minutes.
3. Add the mussels to the work and toss well. Cover the wok; increase the heat and cook for 3-4 minutes or until mussels open. Discard any unopened mussels. Add the chopped basil and toll well. Serve with steamed rice

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