Monday, May 21, 2007

Chocolate Obsessions

Baking powder vs baking soda.

To the uninitiated, like myself, what's the difference? I thought they were both the same and that the recipes had some errors in them when they called for: 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder.

I learnt it the hard way after 2 horrendous attempts at baking chocolate cakes which just refused to rise. They are now in the bin, along with my self esteem. I am throughly demoralised...

That was yesterday though - ha ha!

I googled and yahoo-ed baking soda vs baking powder - Voila! there are so many sites dedicated to these deceiving ingredients - looks like i'm not the only uninitiated person hee hee. My self esteem is feeling much better thanks.

Check out what wally has to say on these 2 ingredients. So much of science involved in baking!

So off I went in search of more ingredients for my next attempt. Baking soda finally became visible to me. okaaayyy.

Chocolate cake recipe adapted from: Chocolate cake by Elisa Strauss, Confetti Cakes
150g flour
80g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (or sodium bicarb)
1/2 teaspoon salt

110g sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (couldnt find this so I used 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

110g unsalted butter (i used normal salted? butter)
225g sugar
1 large egg
150ml strong coffee

Frosting recipe from the Very Best Baking
75ml heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (less if choc used is sweet)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
~ 2/3 bar (5oz) baking chocolate finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease one 9" baking pan
- Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt
- In another bowl, combine sour cream and vanilla (and almond extract)
- Cream butter and sugar, beat until smooth. Add egg
- Alternately add flour and sour cream mix to the butter mix in 2 batches, starting and ending with flour. Scrape bowl after each addition

- Pour in coffee. Scrape bowl and beat until combined
- Pour batter into baking pan. Bake for approx. 30 mins or until skewer comes out clean
-Cool cake then spread the frosting

- Melt cream, butter, sugar and salt in water and simmer in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently.
- Remove from heat. Immediately add chocolate. Whisk until melted and smooth.
- Add vanilla extract. Pour into bowl and refrigerate, stirring off and on, for about 1 1/2 hours or until thick enough to spread.

Verdict: 6/10. As you can see from the photo, the cake didnt rise properly. My oven temp must have been too hot. My poor cake had cracks and peaks :( However, it tasted really good - very chocolatey and moist! Frosting was rich and indulgent though maybe a tad too sweet. I'll be making this again soon to perfect it!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pretty Flowers!

My dear hubby finally agreed to take me to Sg. Buloh to get cheap cheap flowers! (I got tired of paying for convenience as well as through my nose at the nursery at UK (read Ulu Kelang. You can see it along MRRII.) Don't go there! They charge almost double as I painfully found out.
I love flowers but growing them is simply not in my genes. Come to think of it, even keeping them ALIVE is a challenge. Boo hoo.
Anyway, I AM stubborn and I WILL find a way to keep my green friends alive for as LONG as I can. So this time round, I picked more suitable plants for my balcony. I put my trust in the lady at the nursery.
me: Can stand hot sun?
flower lady: ya, this one can. Put fertilizer the red kind once a month. Put just 10 biji and water everyday. no problem wan.
me: ooooOOoo ok. i want this, and this and that.. (excitedly choosing my victims..)
So I got myself several hanging flowers, one potted plant for my toilet (potted plants in the toilet really makes the toilet look better - for what purpose I don't know. I just like toilets to look inviting haha!) and a white desert rose (father's day gift for my dad - if its still alive by then).
Total: ~RM 70 for 6 plants. Not bad eh?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Triple Decker Sandwich

I've been having this obssessive compulsion to mess around in the kitchen and everything that I think of lately revolves around What recipe shall I try next? My grocery shopping expenses have sky-rocketed lately but I justify that with "home cooked meals are always healthier than eating out". I give my mind a rest too while I cook coz it goes quite almost blank as the part of my brain that controls movement takes over.

My first attempt at a triple decker sandwich. This is one tough baby.
Dug out my can food and leftovers:
Oyster mushrooms
Baby romaines
Cheese (use Kraft. It melts ever so nicely at room temperature... yum!)
Salt , pepper to taste

Lay 1st layer with baby romaines and top up with tuna mixed with mayo and chopped onions.

Spread margerine onto 2nd layer. Top with more romaines, pan fried oyster mushrooms with a dash of salt, mashed eggs with mayo, salt, pepper and oregano. Add a slice of Kraft Cheese!

I like my sandwiches cut into triangles - just like Calvin in Calvin & Hobbes :)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Aglio Olio

This is one of the very first pasta I tried my hands on and i've been cooking it for all the pot lucks I have been too or hosted:) Simple ingredients that are easy on the wallet and tastes superb! :)

Er, no specific portions - just adjust to your own liking.

Cook spaghetti in a pot of rolling boiling water. Add in salt. You can also add in bits of dried chilli to the water. Drain and rinse with cool tap water.

Key ingredient: GARLIC. For me, I
use lots and LOTS of garlic! (edit* approx 1 bag to 500g pasta) Chop them up. Heat up olive oil in a pan, sautee the chopped garlic for a few mins till fragrant. Add in Shitake mushrooms. I've tried with fresh button mushrooms before but Shitake adds a distinct taste that complements the dish better. Then add in dried chillies (more if you prefer a 'volcanic' taste). Salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste. Mix with pasta.

I'm still perfecting this pasta as I still can't get the taste like in Pizza Uno or Sentidos at Star Hill. Anyone knows any extra tips/tricks?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Baked Apple Cake

I have been surfing around for my next cake to bake and when i saw recipes for variations of apple cake. The pictures were so yummilicious that I really couldn't resist! Sorry hubby, your chocolate cake will just have to wait. I decided on a simple recipe here (101 cookbooks). Its odd that its called Apple Coffee cake but no coffee is used! Maybe its means its a perfect cake to have with a cup of coffee :)

Here's the recipe:
2 medium tart apples such as Granny Smith (wow, one apple costs RM2.29!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup apple jelly (this is just to smooth over the cake - i didnt use this)

- Preheat oven at 180 degrees. Grease an 8"X 3" cake tin.
- Peel apples, remove core and cut into slices.
- Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together.
- Add vanilla to milk and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time.
- Add the flour mixture in 3 portions, alternating with milk mixture.
- Pour batter into cake tin. Leave a little behind. Arrange apple slices on top then cover them with the remaining batter.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes

I made some changes. I used slightly more butter (an extra pat) coz it was quite dry and difficult to cream with the sugar. I also chopped up one apple into small cubes and tossed them with some flour to prevent it getting soggy then stirred them into the batter. Then I used the other apple (sliced) and arranged it on top of the batter.

If you don't cover the apple slices with a little bit of batter, it may dry out during baking and won't come out juicy though it would give your cake a better appearance and conveniently deceive one that there are more apples than there actually is. Ha!

Verdict: 6/10. Not bad - The apples were warm, sweet and juicy... cake had that nice cinammon-y smell but it was slightly on the dry side. I'd prefer the cinnamon taste to be stronger though. The cubed apples also kinda sank to the bottom. So much for my smart idea of caoting them with flour to prevent sinking. :P

I think in future, I'll add a little more milk and slices of apple arranged in layers for a juicier munch!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Good old coffee beans

Given that my blog name is coffeedreames, i am so embarassed that not one of my posts has been dedicated to the GOOD BEAN. So here is the start of all things coffee.

Apart from actually being able to ward off certain cancers and help prevent type II diabetes, below is the list of stuff which I personally feel is WHY you should drink coffee:

1. Keeps you awake throughout the night so you can stay up and watch back to back episodes of House MD/Heroes/Lost/ reruns of Friends,

2. Keeps you awake thoroughout the night so you can wake up with a pounding headache and skip work under the pretext of a 'migraine',

3. Combine it with bananas and you have yourself a powerful bowel movement inducing drink to get those stuff moving and stop your constipated suffering,

4. Drink it super 'kau' (thick, dark brown coffee shop kind with or without condensed milk hmmm or any type of coffee for that matter), without water to wash it down and you get instant yellow looking teeth and breath that is guaranteed to keep (annoying) people away

5. Its the base of a good pick up line - all too familiar with "Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" It doesn't sound too obvious yet everyone knows what it leads to. If you do get rejected, it wouldnt be too painful coz hey, its just coffee.