Monday, March 4, 2013

Returning with Lemon Madeleines

Hi Blogger I'm back! And hello there Facebook, Google, Youtube…I love my Astrill VPN. Life behind China's censorship was a tad boring. I couldn't even share comments on my Kindle account. Bummer! 
At least I have my mini oven at home in Shanghai. I can't fit a regular cookie sheet in my oven, and I can't bake more than ten macaron shells at a time. However, it's a good opportunity to cut back on sugar consumption. Moreover, I have a larger audience at home--parents and little brother. No more worries of leftovers!

I hope my VPN doesn't fail me when I'm uploading (knock on wood). I'm more active on Instagram (k00kiemonster) than all other social media because as you would have guesses, it is the only uncensored app. Follow k00kiemonster for instafood moments!

And [Drum Roll] now introducing today's treat--lemon Madeleines

150g unsalted butter
150g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g sugar
160g eggs (about 3 medium sized eggs)
2 lemons' peels
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl then add the sugar. Beat the eggs in a warm bowl of water till it reaches body temperature. Pour eggs into the dry ingredients, mix well. Add butter in 3 batches. Mix in the vanilla extract and finally the lemon peels. 

If you prefer a more intense lemon flavor, squeeze half a lemon to the batter.

Set bowl in fridge for 3 hours or overnight. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180-190C. Butter and flour madeleine molds. Fill the molds 80% full. Bake for 17-18 minutes or until golden brown. After baking, remove the cakes right away and let them cool off on a wire rack.

Add a lemon glaze for a store-like look.

A good tip on madeleine molds: choose a mold with distinct shell lines. You don't want a semi-triangle, semi-rectangle cake. If you can't see the indents like a shell, what's the point of making Madeleines? I used a silicone mold that holds eight slots. It was too much hassle to buy individual molds and have them get lost among my cookie cutters and tart molds.

Before I log off, I would like to share a few pics of a lovely stray cat my dad adopted. She's still afraid of me, but I'm sure she won't resist my bowl of warm milk every morning, especially when the temperature is near the low 40s F in Shanghai.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let Them Eat [Pumpkin] Pie All Year Round

It's been a while since I wrap myself in my baby soft throw and listen to Norah Jones while I blog. This past month is all about traveling: starting with Seattle, then Aspen, and Rochester. The temperature drops about 20 degrees every city I visit. I think I've had enough hot chocolate this winter. Even Starbucks' Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate tastes less charming.

Here's a beautiful street at Seattle. I'm not sure if I can find the street again if I go back. I took a few wrong turns after I stepped out from the bus while looking for Book Larder. This tiny store carries every recipe book you can imagine. I saw Anne Willan's The Country Cooking of France, Deb Perelman's The Smittehn Kitchen Cookbook, Pierre Herme's Macarons, Bread Apprentice...

Love the foods at Pike Market

Then the journey continued....I went skiing with some friends at Aspen, CO. There was barely any snow but it was enough for us beginners to hone our skills.

On the way to Aspen from Denver

I learned how to curve!

At last I ended my journey at Rochester, NY. I didn't go out except for food. There was way too much wine, good food and endless talks.

It snowed on the first night

Good Luck restaurant makes kick ass butternut squash foccacia

Granny style high tea with cake-like scone and sweet finger sandwiches that's...not small at all

With all the traveling I really had no time to bake. Only exception is pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving orders and a few macarons here and there. This year's pie making involved a mini experiment where I tried new crust using vodka instead of water. The dough was not flaky as indicated. I got a heavy, greasy after taste. My favorite is still the all butter pie dough from The Baker's Dozen Cookbook. Here you will find the recipes I used. Who says you can't have pumpkin pie in December? I say let them eat pie all year round!

Butter Pie Dough

1 cup of flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon cold water
1 stick of chill butter, diced

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Roll butter cubes in the dry ingredients. Rub the butter against your finger tips. Cover the butter with more flour and continue rubbing until you get pea-like consistency.

Add one tablespoon of water and mix well. Try to make everything come together into a ball. If the ball is falling apart, add a little more water. Don't worry if you have a few butter crumbs leftover. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap. Use the heel of your palm to flatten the dough into a 2 inch thick disk. Let chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
3 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoon clove
2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 can pumpkin puree

To assemble the pie:
Preheat oven to 400F.

Take the pie disk from the freezer. Lightly flour the work surface and rub flour on the rolling pin. Unwrap the disk and sprinkle some flour on top. Make a quarter turn with the help of a scraper after each roll. Keep dusting the work surface with flour to prevent sticking. When the pie is larger than your pie dish, fold it in half then another half.

Place folded pie dough in the center of a 9in pie pan. Unfold the dough and flute the edges. Put in freezer for 30 minutes. Line a piece of foil paper over the chill pie shell then add pie weights or any beans you can find in the pantry. Bake the shell for 15 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 5 minute. Lower oven temperature to 350F.

Mix all the pumpkin pie filling together till you get a smooth paste. Pour into a warm pie shell. Bake pie for 35 minutes. The middle should jiggle a little when you move the pie.

Let cool at room temperature and serve with some whip cream or chai latte.

*I used William Sonoma's pie press to make the leaf decoration. You would need to make two pie doughs--one for the shell and the other for decoration. Bake any leftover pie dough into cookies. My favorite part of the pie is the buttery shell!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Green Tea Latte

 For those of you who read Mandarin. This is an old old classic by Jacky Cheung 張學友

作詞:吳慶康   作曲:李偉菘/陳少琪
我睡不著的時候 會不會有人陪著我
我難過的時候 會不會有人安慰我
我想說話的時候 會不會有人了解我
我忘不了你的時候 你會不會來疼我
你知不知道 你知不知道 我等到花兒也謝了
你知不知道 你知不知道 我等到花兒也謝了
我睡不著的時候 會不會有人陪著我
我難過的時候 會不會有人安慰我
我想說話的時候 會不會有人了解我
我忘不了你的時候 你會不會來疼我
你知不知道 你知不知道 我等到花兒也謝了
你知不知道 你知不知道 我等到花兒也謝了
你知不知道 你知不知道 我等到花兒也謝了
你知不知道 你知不知道 我等到花兒也謝了
你知不知道 你知不知道 我等到花兒也謝了

Even though this is a rather emo song, I am not at all blue this morning. I stumbled across Jacky Cheung when I was updating my music playlist for my upcoming flight. His voice is full of emotion...It makes you tremble, remembering those memories (both good and bad). Next to me a is a warm cup of matcha latte. Right now, a cup of sweet lattee fits the mood much better than a shot of bitter espresso. When you're in a good mood, emo songs make you feel stronger because you experienced all the heart break, tears, and you survived.

Green Tea (Matcha) Latte
for one
2 tablespoon matcha powder
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey

Heat heavy cream and honey. Dissolve matcha with 2 tablespoon of hot water. Use a petite whisk to break the lumps. Pour hot milk over matcha paste and serve in a coffee mug.

*Optional: use a milk frother to whisk the hot milk before pouring it on matcha paste.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy Birthday to Julian--Gluten Free Carrot Cake

A big shout out to my friend Julian! He is turning twenty this coming Tuesday. A few years back he was this skinny and snobby boy and now he is twenty, so much less annoying, and more mature. Julian and the rest of the little kids belong to another group during family gatherings. He is the oldest among the kids but not old enough to join the 大姐姐 group. All the older siblings are sisters and most have a younger brother. Naturally the sisters got together, and we let the little kids run around and fight over PSP consoles.

Every year one of those boys is flying oversea for college. Even though they've out grown their tiny frame, to me they will always be a bunch of up-to-no-good boys.

Almond Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Walnuts and Macarons
I adapted Elena's Carrot Cake Cupcake recipe into this two layer birthday cake. I like the simplicity of Elena's recipe...almond meal, baking soda, spices, eggs then BOOM you get a dozen cupcakes! I wonder if the cake would be too dense if I use regular all purpose flour instead of almond meal. However, almond meal never fails to deliver a moist cake. Almond Honey Cake with almond meal and honey is one great example.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake
6 eggs
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground clove
2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups almond meal
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted

2 round 9" baking pans, buttered or lined with parchment paper

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, sugar, honey, spices, and salt. Sift almond meal and baking soda in another bowl. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together till you get a smooth paste. Throw in the grated carrots and walnut pieces.

Divide batter into two equal portions and pour along the side of the pan. *Don't pour everything into the middle, this is how you get a mini volcano during baking.

Bake for 40 minutes at 350F. Let cool in cake pan after baking. Frost right away or wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Cream cheese frosting: Blend 8oz cream cheese, 4oz unsalted butter, and 2 cups of powdered sugar together till you get a fluffy spread.

Spread cream cheese frosting on top

Frost the second cake

Decorate it with walnuts, macaron shells, or anything you have on hand

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sesame Butter

I'm traveling on this wide wide road. A thick fog blocks my view. I can't see what is ahead. When I look back, the path I traveled by is buried by yet another thick fog.  What is to the left, to the right of me I don't know.  I see a few familiar faces, some laughing, some frowning, some fading away. My hands reach out to them, but all I can grasp in my palms is a few strands of warm air.

I had a dream--a very lonely dream. The chill ran down my spine and expelled all sleepiness away. When I opened my eyes, I told myself, "Angel you need some warm buns and sesame butter." Off I go, tie my messy bundle of hair up, turn on my Ta-tung steamer, pop two frozen buns in it. Fifteen minutes later......a loud ta sound took me back to the kitchen. Within seconds I have two steamy hot buns in my palms. It feels so good to hold something warm after a nightmare. On top of that, I made some sesame butter. It gives the plain buns a nutty kick.

The sesame butter inspiration came from Nami's How to Make Black Sesame Paste. I had no idea sesame paste is as simple as sesame seeds and honey! When I blended the two together, the aroma reminds me of white chocolate. In the back of my head, I feel the two will mix together very well. I measured out some Valrhona white chocolate chips that is just pure cocoa butter and milk.

Sesame Butter
100g black sesame seeds
50g white chocolate

In a food processor or Vitamix, blend sesame seeds on variable-low speed. Start dripping honey drop by drop into the running blades. Add enough honey to get the whole process going. Then turn speed on high to let the sesame oil come out.

While the blender is on high, heat white chocolate on a double boiler or in a microwave.

Turn the food processor off when you get a thick black paste. Pour the sesame paste into melted white chocolate. Use a spoon and blend the two together till all the white chocolate is incorporated.

This goes well with bread, man-tou 饅頭, macaron, or tang-yuan 湯圓. In fact, sesame macaron is now my newest flavor at my macaron pop-up! Thank you all again for the support! I went through 2kg of almond meal and even more powdered sugar. Your sweet feedbacks keep my going and going.

Order now from Chez Ma Cuisine's Facebook Page!