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Sunday, February 24, 2013

How to Make Roasted Garlic Cubes

Freeze a batch of home made roasted garlic cubes, and they are ready to use whenever you need them.
Source: Improvised

Taste: 5 (out of 5) - for those who love roasted garlic
Difficulty: 3 (out of 5) - mainly time consuming

1 lb whole garlic heads (or as many as you want)

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil, and place the garlic heads on the foil. The aluminum foil should be large enough to wrap around the garlic.
2. Cut the tops of the garlic heads (about 1/4 of the head), but keep the cut piece. Drizzle olive oil over the lower part of each head and cover with the upper part.
3. Wrap the aluminum foil so that it completely covers the garlic heads and seal the edges. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the heat and keep in the over for one more hour.
4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and discard the aluminum foil. When the garlic is at room temperature squeeze the flesh out of the cloves and mash it with a blender, a food processor, or a fork.
5. Line a flat tray (I used a plastic lid of a Pyrex pan) with parchment and spread the mashed garlic. Freeze until firm.
6. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes, separate the cubes and freeze in plastic bags. Use as needed :-)

This is a really convenient way to store roasted garlic. Whenever you need some, you have just the right amount ready in the freezer. And it's very cheap, too: you can usually buy a 1 lb bag of garlic for $2-$3, and the cubes will last for a very long time.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chocolate Dream Cake

A cloud of chocolate Chantilly cream resting on hazelnut dacquoise and crunch. All coated with rich and creamy ganache. A chocolate dream come true.
Hazelnut Dacquoise adapted from foodilicOus
Hazelnut Crunch improvised
Cream Chantilly from "Chocolate: More Than 50 Decadent Recipes" by Dominique and Cindy Duby
Chocolate Ganache from Martha Stewart

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 4 (out of 5)

Hazelnut Dacquoise
- 40g ground hazelnuts
- 7g flour
- 50g egg whites
- 50g granulated sugar
Hazelnut crunch
- 1/4 cup ground hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup puffed rice cereal
- 40 g dark chocolate
Cream Chantilly
- 50 g dark chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp Irish cream
- 1/4 tsp orange zest
Chocolate Ganache
- 50 g dark chocolate
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- pinch of salt
Total: one 6 inch cake, 6 servings

Hazelnut Dacquoise
1. Preheat oven at 350F and line a 6'' spring form pan with parchment paper.
2. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
3. Sift the flour into the ground hazelnuts. Pour the hazelnut meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
4. Use a little (about a teaspoon) of the batter to glue the parchment to the side of your pan. Then pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly.
5. Bake at 350°C for 15-20 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden. Then turn the oven on and leave the dacquoise in the warm oven for another 30 minutes. In the meantime prepare the crunch.
Hazelnut Crunch
6. Crush the puffed rice in a food processor, but don't bring it to the powder consistency - you want to keep that crunch.
7. Mix the rice with the hazelnut meal.
8. When the dacqouise is ready to be taken out of the oven, chop the chocolate and melt it in microwave for about 30 seconds, then stir and melt for another 30 seconds. Mix with the spatula until no chunks are left and all the chocolate is melted and uniform.
9. Add the hazelnut / rice mixture to the melted chocolate, mix well and spread over the dacqouise layer. Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
Cream Chantilly
10. Chop the chocolate, and add the Irish cream and the orange zest.
11. In a small sauce pan heat the cream until it almost boils. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Mix well with a whisk and leave in the refrigerator to cool.
12. When the mixture is cold, whip it with a mixer on high speed until it forms firm peaks. Spread cream Chantilly over the chilled base and refrigerate again for at least 2-3 hours.
13. Before preparing the ganache transfer the cake into freezer. It will make it a little firmer for easier release from the pan.
Chocolate Ganache
14. Coarsely chop chocolate.
15. Bring cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate, and add salt. Let stand for 10 minutes (don't stir -- doing so will cool the ganache too quickly, making it grainy).
16. Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny to break up any pieces and emulsify cream and chocolate.
To finish
17. Remove the cake from the freezer, release the spring form pan and remove the parchment paper from the cake. It should come off cleanly and easily.
18. Place the cake on a serving plate and pour the ganache over it.
19. Refrigerate again until ready to serve.

- This cake is heavenly. The dacquoise layer is a little chewy, then the crunchy chocolatey layer, then the fluffy Chantilly cream and all topped with the rich ganache. So much texture and so much chocolate in all its manifestations :-)
- I think chocolate and hazelnuts were made for each other. I have this theory that the real reason for the discovery of America by Columbus was to unite hazelnuts, native to Europe, with chocolate, native to America. All other traditional reasons that they give you at school, like exploration, trade, imperialism, etc, pale in comparison, when one thinks about the world without Nutella, Ferrero Rocher or cakes like this one. Don't you agree?
- I might try to add a little gelatin to cream Chantilly at some point to make it a little stiffer and mousse-like, but I am not completely convinced it's needed.

To Recipe...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fried carrot cake (Chai Tow Kway)

Delicious Singaporean street food, that does not have any carrots :-). It's a steamed savory daikon cake, cut into pieces and fried with eggs.
Source: Adapted from Mummy, I Can Cook

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 4 (out of 5)

For the cake
- 1 large daikon (about 100 g), finely shredded
- 50 g fine rice flour
- 150 ml room temperature water
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
For frying
- one daikon cake from above
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp of sauerkraut (in absence of salted preserved radish (chai poh) from the original recipe)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp of fish sauce
- 2 tbsp of vegetable or coconut oil for frying
- chili sauce to taste
- 2,3 green onions, chopped
Total: 2 servings

It's better to make the radish cakes the day before, and cutting up and frying the day after.
1. Steam or cook on low heat the shredded daikon with 75 ml of water for about 30 minutes, or until the daikon is translucent. Let cool to room temperature.
2. Add the flour, the salt and the remaining water to the blanched daikon, and mix well. Pour into a shallow 8 inch baking pan and steam on high heat for 45 minutes. At this point the "cake" should be firm. This was not the case for me, so I baked it in the oven for another 30 minutes at 325F, until it finally solidified. Let the cake cool, cover with cling wrap to prevent drying and refrigerate overnight.
3. When ready to cook, cut into little cubes when it's fully cool, don't worry about ragged edges as these are the bits that get irresistibly crispy.
4. Pour the oil into the pan and heat it to med-high heat. Fry cake cubes until crispy around the edges. You can press on it with the spatula for maximum crispy edges.
5. Add the sauerkraut and the garlic, reduce the heat to medium and and fry till fragrant. Drizzle with fish sauce and chili. Spread everything around the pan.
6. Beat eggs and pour the mixture evenly over the radish cakes. Let set until the bottom is nicely browned, before flipping over and browning on the other side. To make it easier on yourself, just cut roughly into smaller portions with the sharp edge of your spatula before flipping. It's okay for the cake to be semi-falling apart, like scrambled eggs.
7. Finish with chopped spring onions.

- This is really delicious, with the soft and crispy texture of the cake and the fish sauce flavors. It makes a perfect meal for any time of day and night.
- I might be doing something terribly wrong with making the steamed rice cake. So far I tried this recipe twice. The first time I just steamed the cake, and it was not firm at all, even after a night in the fridge. And then when I was frying it it turned into a mushy mess. The second time I bought brand new rice flour and used a more traditional steaming pan, but the cake was still too soft. So I went to my well known method of baking cakes and it worked. I guess I have to experiment more with steaming cakes. Any suggestions on this topic would be welcome.
- I love using saurkraut in Asian dishes - it's a wonderful Oriental ingredient ;-). It's really great in Chinese fried rice too, ads a lot of crunch.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Crunchy Nutella Bites

Crunchy no bake Nutella treats in 15 minutes. 
Source: Adapted from Crunchy Fudgy Heart Bites on Cook Lisa Cook

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

- 1/4 cup coconut oil (270 cal)
- 1/4 cup cocoa (50 cal)
- 1/4 cup Nutella (400 cal)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (5 cal)
- 1 cup ground walnuts (185 cal)
- 1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies (160 cal)
Total: 16 servings, 970 cal, 60 cal / serving

1. In a food processor blend the coconut oil, cocoa, Nutella and vanilla extract until smooth. If your kitchen is hot and the coconut oil is liquid you can easily blend all these ingredients by hand in less than a minute.
2. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the ground walnuts and Rice Krispies.
3. Evenly scoop the mixture into a mini silicone muffin mold. Or in absence of one, with slightly wet hands roll small balls and place on a plate lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until set.
4. If you used a mold, press the bottom of each muffin cup to release the bites. Keep refrigerated.

- These cute desserts are really light and crunchy, and perfect for anyone who loves Nutella. And it only takes 15 minutes to make them and then 15 more minutes to wait until they set in the fridge.
- This recipe uses Nutella instead of peanut butter and honey in the original recipe. Maybe peanut butter is a little stickier than Nutella and the peanut butter bites end up a little firmer. My Nutella balls were very delicate. Maybe next time I will try adding a little peanut butter or sunflower butter or even date paste.
- It would be nice to put these on a stick and coat them with chocolate for Chocolate coated crunchy Nuteall pops. But I wanted to try them right away and did not have enough patience to melt the chocolate :-). Oh well, next time...
- This post was my SRC assignment. Just in case you don't know yet, SRC, or the Secret Recipe Club is a group of over a hundred food bloggers, who are assigned a "secret" blog each months. Then they choose a recipe from that blog, make it and post it on their own blog on a given reveal day. Then there is a big party, where you hop from one blog to another and check what everyone's been cooking. Lots of fun! And terrible for your diet ;-) I want to thank Amanda, Jane and April for making it all possible!
- Cook Lisa Cook, from which this recipe was adopted, is a wonderful blog. Lisa cooks with her charming sous-chef, Maisie, and they have lots of yummy recipes. When I was browsing the blog to choose a recipe for SRC, I put together a list of things to try, and I will be coming back for them: Lacy cheese crackers, Walnut Roca squares and Copycat KFC coleslaw

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