Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Bond and a lesson in French Kissing





The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

And now on to another episode of Bond...
M sighed as she looked at the fax. "Surely No. 10 has better things to do than bother themselves with this." She sighed again, deeply this time.

"Moneypenny! Get me Bond." She barked. If anyone could get to the bottom of this, Bond could.

James swaggered into the office of the head of MI6. He bowed ever so lightly, "At your service M"

"Ah yes, James. The French are coming in next week and No 10 has chosen to pander to Carla's whims" M stated.

"Ahh... what's Mr Brown trying to do this time?" Bond smiled.

M frowned as she explained, "Well, apparently Carla has taken quite a fancy to French Kissing - can't quite get enough of it apparently. She simply adores the French version although she claims that the French copied it from the Italians."

Bond's mind immediately started to roam. He thought back to Jacquilynne, the litte French pastry chef cum spy and then his mind switched to Francesca Sofia Giada Alessandra Valentina del Piero, the Italian spy from Milan. Both were amazingly good kissers and he would be hard pressed to pick between the two - as far as kissing went anyway. For without a doubt, the French Jacqui had such beautiful and supple...

"Your mind wondering again Bond!" M barked, and not in question either.

"err.. sorry M. Just thinking of kissing the Frenchies and Italians - um, I mean sleeping with their spies... um, I mean working, working with their agents, M. That's It."

"Oh shut up Bond! Your mind is always in the gutter. This isn't really about kissing!" M thundered.

"B-but you were the one that started with the French Kissing M!" Bond watched M's heaving bosom and for a moment, albeit brief, he imagined himself pressed against her and kissing her wantonly. He shook his head quickly, wiping the image from his mind.

M's bosom shuddered as she exhaled in frustration. "Listen up Bond and pay attention. This is about Macs, not kissing."

"Ahhh... Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, onions, pickles on a sesame seed bun." Bond replied, almost in song.

"Good heavens Bond. Thats a bloody Big Mac. I'm talking abouts Macs! Short for Macarons, also known as a French Kiss. Sarkozy wants to give Bruni the perfect French Kiss, as in a Macaron - and now Brown has gotten himself involved. He's offered to serve French Macarons when the Sarkozy's come for their official visit next week. Britain Always has to undermine the French you see and No prizes for guessing who has to make it."

"Blasted Macarons." Bond muttered under his breath. "I'd rather be frenching with Carla."

"What was that Bond?" M practically screamed out.

"Um nothing, M... quite nothing at all."


** Scene fades and reopens **

Bond is lying in bed with a Halle Berry lookalike - wherever does he find these gorgeous women? Her naked body (Obviously) is covered by white satn sheets while Bond has the sheets only up to his waist, displaying his very manly and hairy chest - have you EVER wondered why this is always the case in the movies??

Bond was busy with his laptop. In addition to poring over the recipe, he was surfing for macarons. Every now and then he looked over to glance at the heaving bosom of his bedmate and to pause to inhale her sweet fragrance.

He had never tasted a macaron before nor had he ever seen one. Sure, he had seen pictures of macarons but never the real thing. He learnt that macarons were one of the more popular items in food porn, much like the Halle Berry lookalike next to him could put a porn star to shame. With thoughts of porn floating around in his head, Bonds fingers left his laptop and slid under the covers, teasing the silken thigh of his bed-mate.

"James! I'm reading!" She giggled as she lightly slapped his hand.

Bond frowned. This would never have happened to him before he started baking. Ever! He was Commander Sir James Bond. Agent 007. Women fell at his feet and did his every bidding. This is what happens when you age, lost your hair and grow a pot belly. Grumbling to himself, he continued to read about macarons, before he decided he was going to get to sleep.



James woke up the next morning and leered longingly at the gorgeous woman next to him. Her sheets had slipped off her during the night and her naked form beckoned him - much like a moth to the flame. He briefly considered having his way with her before he remembered how she had spurned him the previous night. "Humph," he spluttered grumpily to himself. "She'll not be getting any of Commander Bond this morning. Serves her right too" Bond didnt realise that he was really only depriving himself. Cutting his nose to spite his own face so to speak...

He got out of bed, pausing to cover her naked body - He didnt want her to catch cold but it was more to sto phim from giving in to his lustfully wanton desires. He washed up and proceeded downstairs to make the macarons. He decided he was only going to make half the measure. That is when he encountered the first problem for the day - the recipe called for 5 egg whites. How on earth would he divide 5 into two? Two and a half egg whites?

He called Q who quite knowledgeably told him to separate the third egg into a separate bowl and then halve that amount of egg white. James couldn't be bothered with such accuracy and so he just used two large eggs and one smaller egg. First problem overcome.

Bond then used his trusty Qenwood mixer (a gift from Q, modeled after the Kenwood Major but with a lot of hidden firepower) to beat up the eggs to soft peaks before adding sugar and whipping the whites to stiff peaks. The thought of stiff peaks sent his mind reeling back to his holiday in the German Alps with Helga, from the German Foreign Affairs Office. Helga had a very advanced bosom that she fondly referred to as the die Deutshces Turm - meaning the German Towers. He used to refer to them as the Twin Peaks. Bond smiled fondly at the memory.

He then gently folded in the sugar and almond meal into the mixture and then proceeded to pipe out small circles. He regretted not investing in one of these Hi-Tech non stick silicon pads but figured his silicon paper would do just as well. Egads and Heavens to Murgatroyd! He had run out of silicon paper and so he used non-stick baking paper instead.

Bond followed the recipe, baking the macarons at a low temperature, removing them from the oven and then letting the oven temperature rise before baking it again. Bond was pleasantly surprised to see that his macarons had little feet on them. Perhaps not as good as it should have been but there they were - feet! It was a good thing he didn't have a foot fetish, he laughed to himself.

Next came the question of what to sandwhich the macarons with as well as what to do with the egg yolks. Bond quickly heated a cup of milk and whisked the egg yolks into it to form a custard. He then whisked in some chocolate to make a chocolate pudding. With the egg yolk problem solved, James melted a little peanut butter with some chocolate to form a nice thick ganache. He mixed in a little of the custard to thin it a little and then sandwhiched the macarons with this mixture.


Job completed and Bond thought that he had done a pretty decent job of it. Now all he had to do was to serve it up at No.10.

He waited patiently for the the Browns and the Sarkozys to finish their main meal, passing the time by flirting with the kitchen maid and sipping a martini. As the head waiter signalled to him, he set the macarons up on a nice serving dish and carried it proudly to the dining table where the Sarkozy's were feasting with the Browns.

Bond purposefully walked passed Carla Bruni, glancing down at her cleavage, so obviously obvious in that little black dress. He placed the serving dish down and walked away, this time giving Carla a not so subtle look - she smiled at him, obviously quite thrilled that the great Commander Sir James Bond, Britains finest, thought she was worth his time.

Bruni reached over and placed a macaron between her red lips. Her eyes rolled upward, obviously rather enamoured with Bond's macarons. Gordon Brown smiled with pride as Carla clapped her hands gleefully stating that the Macaron was delightful - crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
"Ooo-la-la Ces't Magnifique! Eeet eez, how you say in Englizh, almost remindz me of Nikolas. He pretend he is tough on ze outside but really, he is a softy on the inside." she giggled and beamed as she stuffed her face with macaron after macaron.

Gordon Brown called M immediately, gloating over the success of the macarons and congratulating M on Bond's efforts.

"He's the best we have…although I'd never tell him." M said quietly to herself as she put the phone down.

Meanwhile, Bond was back in the kitchen, his hand deftly unclasped the bra of Chantalle, the vivacious and buxom Kitchen Maid. As his hands roamed, he gave her a free lesson in the art of French Kissing. This lesson however had nothing to do with Macarons...

Later, with her hair all in a mess, her clothes all over the kitchen and Bond long gone, the kitchen maid relived her time with Bond. Bond most Certainly was the Best she had ever had...and that made perfect sense as he was The Best that Britain had to offer...

*** ******


This was a really fun challenge and one that I didn't think I would pull off - seriously! I've read about macarons and how difficult they are that I was practically trying to ignore this challenge - but I'm glad I didnt!


Taste wise, these were SPECTACULAR! The Kids just Loved the macarons and couldn't get enough. The macarons were perfect - crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The chocolate and peanut butter mix gave it a lovely taste and they were simply delicious. The macarons practically finished off in one sitting and as my son reached for the last one, he asked if there were anymore - hoping that I had some still left in the kitchen. It was then that I wished I had made the full measure.


My son loved them so much that he stuffed a whole macaron in his mouth. I cant blame him as I have a tendency for doing stuff like that too. Greedy daddy, greedy son - the apple doesnt fall far from the tree!!

They both proclaimed that this was one of their favourite DB challenges so that is certainly a winner in my books and I am sure I will HAVE to make this again sometime. - probably soon!!



Notice the chocolate covered mouth and fingers of my little princess - who just couldnt get enough of these macarons!



Thanks for a great challenge AmiS. The whole blogosphere will be full of Macarons today so please go visit the rest of the Daring Bakers!


Ingredients
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.







Friday, 23 October 2009

Chocolate Sauce Frozen Cake another delight from Aunty Julie



Some time ago, I explained the cooking influences in my life - one of which is my Aunty Julie. When we were young, she would treat us to these magnificent creations that left such an impression that I still salivate whenever I think of them. She would always be more than happy to share her recipes as well and this recipe comes from her.

This dessert is a real delight to eat. Cake, combined with a mousse-like Chocolate sauce that is frozen. It turns out a little like a mix between an ice cream cake and a self saucing pudding. The frozen cake doesnt really get hard as it is a sponge cake and thaws in a matter of minutes.


The original recipe calls for one thick layer of sponge cake covered with the sauce but since I made two cake layers, I decided to layer this cake too. I decorated the cake with mandarin slices that gave it a nice citrus flavour too.


Ingredients
1 Sponge cake
6 oz castor sugar
6 oz butter
300ml milk
1.5oz cocoa
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
Rum

Method
Cream butter and sugar till light. Set aside. Boil milk and cocoa and whisk till smooth. Add in egg yolks being careful not to let the yolks curdle. Mix into the butter mixture. Whisk egg white with a pinch of salt till stiff. Add in some rum. Pour over a sponge cake and freeze.





Unfortunately this cake didn't photograph very well - or maybe its just my photography skills that are lacking. Nonetheless, it is a delightul dessert that doesnt take long to whip up but the oohs and aahs that accompany the eating of this dessert prove what a winner it is.


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Rice Porridge and more cultural exchange



In Malaysia, a dish that you will find in many hawker stalls and in fact even some Restaurants is Porridge. It's also a great dish to make at home and many a household would have their own variation of a rice porridge. This porridge is savoury rather than sweet and is known by many a different name, depending on which culture you are referring to. The Chinese call it Chiook, the Indians may refer to it as Kanji, the Malays call it Bubur while the English would call it Congee. These are the names that I am familiar with anyway. A quick check on Wikipedia will show you that there are many other different names and variations for this simple rice dish. As Shakespeare might say, a porridge by any other name would taste just as great!


I really enjoy a good porridge and it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Many a Malaysian hotel will serve Porridge as one of the items on their buffet spread. The porridge will be in a large steaming pot while the condiments and 'fillings' would include shredded chicken, liver, sesame oil, spring onions, soy sauce, pepper, salted egg, fried onions and a whole host of other ingredients for you to customise the porridge as you wanted to.

Chicken Porridge is also a great dish to eat as comfort food and as a substitute for chicken soup when one is not feeling well. The rice in the porridge means you have a far more substantial meal while it is still easy to eat and provides all the necessary nutrition to fight off the fever and chills body!

The Lovely Wife has often made porridge but recently realised that the secret to a good porridge is in making a good stock first. The best thing to make a good stock is the carcass if a chicken or chicken bones. For the vegetarians out there, just make a good stock out of vegetables.



The secret to a good porridge is also not to make it too salty as it is best served with Soy Sauce - with the 'eater' adding in as much soy sauce as they like. Soy sauce has a slightly different taste to salt and adds some colour to the bland looking porridge. Garnish the porridge with spring onions and coriander for some extra colour too.


Ingredients
carcass of 1 chicken
2 cups rice
3 inches ginger
6 cloves garlic
200g chicken fillet - cut into strips
2 tsp sesame oil

Method
Put chicken carcass in a large saucepan and fill with water till carcass is covered. Bruise 3 cloves of garlic and add half the ginger strips. Reserve the rest. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes to make nice stock. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the carcass and set the stock aside. In a separate saucepan heat a little oil and sautee the remaining garlic and ginger - cut into strips. Add in the rice and mix well. Add the stock into the saucepan and cook until rice becomes a porridge. Add in the chicken strips and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked. Add in more water if needed. Stir in sesame oil before serving. Garnish with onion leaves and coriander.Serve with Soy sauce and Pepper.


The thing I really love about a porridge is that you can use any type of meat with it or even just vegetables. Some people even eat a spicy version of porridge where they would add in some chicken curry or beef curry into the porridge. With porridge, the possibilites are practically endless.



Home made Porridge is also something that many Asian families make to feed their infants - once they start eating solids. The porridge will be cooked with carrot, potatoes and other vegetables and then mashed together to make it even finer and easy to eat for baby!

Porridge - a yummy, timeless food that feeds everyone, young or old!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Not 4 but 2 Heavenly Kings - and its not poker but Cultural Exchange!



Chinese Food often has interesting names like Buddha Jumps Over the Wall - a very expensive soup-like dish that includes more than 30 ingredients. I've never tried it so I wouldnt know what it tastes like...

Another dish that I HAVE tried is the 4 Heavenly Kings or 4 Kings Vegetables. It's a favourite dish in many local Chinese restaurants and one that we often enjoy. Basically, this is 4 vegetables stir fried with belacan - usually long beans, lady's fingers, brinjals and 4-angle beans although sometimes asparagus or even petai is used.




Petai is a famous bean in Malaysia and is often cooked with belacan. I'm not a fan of petai (otherwise known as bitter bean,sataw, twisted cluster bean, yongchaa, yongchaak, zawngtah or stink bean). I'll eat it but I'm not a fan.

I dont know where the name 4 Heavenly Kings comes from. Maybe it started one night when a bunch of chefs were playing poker and one of them had a hand of Four-of-a-kind and they were all kings. He would have spread his cards out and said "4 Heavenly Kings - read em and weep!" Nice imaginative story but I doubt that has anything to do with it...

The Lovely Wife had wanted to make this dish for a long time and when we bought some four-angle beans at the market, she decided she was going to make this - never mind that we didnt have the ladies-fingers or long beans/asparagus/petai.

I never saw a rule saying that there had to be 4 kings. Two kings are quite enough and delicious too!


Ingredients
2 chinese brinjals - cut into pieces
4 four-angle beans - cut into pieces
4 cloves garlic - chopped
1 Onion - thinly sliced
50g dried prawns
2 tbsp Sambal Belacan
Method

Fry the brinjals in a little oil till half cooked. Remove from pan and drain. Sautee garlic and onion in a little oil. Add in the belacan and cook well. Pound the shrimps in a mortar and then fry together with the Belacan until nice and fragrant. Toss in the brinjals and stir till tender. Add in the 4-angle-beans and quickly stir fry to combine.



Very simple and very tasty. The 4-angle beans offer a crunchy complement to the brinjals and the belacan with shrimps brings everything together. Its a yummy dish eaten with rice on its own or as an accompaniment with a meat dish.

Now just imagine how much better this dish would taste with another 2 kings! After all, four-of-a-kind surely beats a pair!





Saturday, 3 October 2009

100,000 hits and counting!

I was waiting and counting... counting and waiting. But when it actually happened, I didn't realise it.

Yes! A few days ago my blog reached a 100,000 hits. Thats One Hundred Thousand times that this blog has been viewed. I would never have thought that possible and I have to admit it is all quite exciting.

Exciting as it may be, I also realise that there are a lot (and I mean A LOT) of blogs that reach a thousand hits a DAY maybe even 10 thousand a day. I dream that one day that may happen to this blog too but in the meantime, I'm just really happy to have reached this milestone.

All bloggers will know that it isn't easy keeping a blog, especially keeping the content fun and exciting. I know that I have slowed down a bit in my postings but sometimes life just gets in the way. I'm trying to catch up on some of the older posts that I have planned and I'm going to try and keep this blog going.

Thanks to all of you that have visited this blog, left comments, motivated and kept it interesting for me to continue posting. It's always fun to receive comments and even more fun when someone out there becomes a friend - and there are a lot of you out there that have become good friends albeit cyber friends!

Thanks for all the support!!

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin