Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Mocha Pudding




A few weeks ago, I had promised the kids that I would make them a nice dessert, something chocolatey and pudding-like. They were rather excited and they asked if I could make them something Mocha instead. Mocha has become the flavour of the month with the kids and truth be told, they like little sips of coffee as well!
I had planned to make it one weekend but then the 'lazy monster' took over and I apologised to the kids and said that I would make it another day.

A few days later, I took the kids out for dessert as The Lovely Wife had a dinner date with some friends. We ended up going to TGIF and wanted their Mocha Mud Pie but as luck would have it, they were out. They had something called Mini Delights which were actually a variety of small puddings served in shot glasses. I told my kids not to bother with them as firstly, the servings were too small and secondly, I could probably make something better. They both agreed and we ended up just having the Sundae which I have to say was pretty darned disappointing. As we left the restaurant, they both asked me if I would make them the puddings that I had promised soon and I promised I would.



I was actually going to modify the tried and tested Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe from a previous Daring Bakers challenge. Or maybe even the Chocolate Custard recipe from my Chocolate Trifle.

The issue that I had with both those recipes was that they both needed egg yolks and I didn't want to waste the whites. So I surfed the web and found this recipe that used Whole eggs for the custard! I've never used whole eggs for custards or custard like puddings and I was a little worried how it would turn out.



I modified the recipe slightly and this is what I came up with:



Ingredients
• 1-1/2 cups milk
• 2Tbsp coffee powder
• 1/2 cup whipping cream
• 3Tbsp cornstarch
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
• 3 large eggs
• 100g. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Method

Combine milk, coffee and heavy cream in a heavy, medium saucepan and heat up to just under a boil. Meanwhile in mixing bowl combine cornstarch and sugar and sift in cocoa powder. Whisk until blended. In another mixing bowl, whisk egg until blended, then add to sugar mixture and whisk until well combined.

Slowly add half the hot milk mixture to egg mixture to temper it while whisking continuously. Pour egg mixture back into pan with rest of the milk mixture and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture has become very thick . This should take about 7 minutes, depending on how cold your eggs are.

Remove from the heat and add in the chocolate and let heat of the custard mixture melt it. When the chocolate has melted, whisk together until smooth. Spoon the custard into cups right away and then chill for several hours.



I took a leaf out of the TGIF Menu and chopped some Snickers Bars and added them to the top of the pudding as a garnish. This gave the dessert and extra bite, a bit of crunch and more of a yummy factor.



The top of the custard formed a little bit of a skin the longer it stayed in the fridge but the Snickers on top more than disguised that. It was kind of nice to have a bit of a thicker top as well.


The verdict? The kids loved it! They liked the fact that the coffee wasn't overpowering and that the coffee flavour was more of an undertone and more noticeable as an aftertaste.



Both the kids had two servings at one go and then looked forward to having the dessert at every meal till there was no more. After the last one was finished, both of them looked at me and asked if there was any more. When the reply came that everything had been polished off, they immediately asked when I was going to make this again!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Father's Day 2011



This last Sunday, 19th June 2011, was Father's Day in Malaysia. I know that Father's Day is not celebrated on the same day in every country although I think the UK and the USA celebrate it on the same day.

I do know that Australia and New Zealand celebrate Father's Day in September and I know this through experience. When I was a Uni Student in Melbourne, Australia, I recall calling home just after the 3rd Sunday in June. I had a pleasant conversation with Dad who then remarked that he was upset that I hadn't wished him for Father's Day. I quickly replied that it wasn't Father's Day in Australia and how was I to remember that it was being celebrated back home in June?! He wasn't terribly impressed by my answer but nonetheless once September rolled around, I made sure I called home on Father's Day in Australia and that made him very pleased!



This year for Father's Day, we went out for dinner the previous night as The Lovely Wife had to go out of town on work on Sunday. On the Sunday morning, My little princess presented me with a lovely hand made card. My son went one step further and got The Lovely Wife to 'hijack' one of my favourite white T-shirts for him to personalise with a fabric pen set that we had bought for the kids some time back. He drew a fabulous stylised Elephant on it and then wrote a message underneath it!




The message reads: "I Love you Dads! Michael" and its not a grammatical error either as both the children like to call me Dads. Yes, with an 'S'

I was thrilled beyond words and I insisted on wearing it to church on Sunday morning. With great pride I showed it off to friends and family!



After church, The Lovely Wife had to catch a taxi to the airport while we went to Avanti Restaurant at Sunway Hotel where we met up with my Parents for lunch. We all had a good time - especially the kids who enjoyed stuffing their faces!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Black and White Butter Cake



Just last week, Sarah's Godparents came over to visit over tea and as usual, the question of what to cook cropped up. I decided to keep things simple yet at the same time take the opportunity to try out something new. I settled for a simple Butter Cake.


Although I have a tried and tested Butter Cake recipe - that is basically a Pound Cake (you know, a pound of everything), I decided to broaden my horizons and try something new. This recipe comes from The Australian Womens Weekly Old Fashioned Favourites - Desserts|Cakes|Biscuits|Slices
and this is how it goes.







Ingredients
250g Butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 (275g) caster sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups (335g) self raising flour
3/4 cup (180ml) milk
Method
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 22cm round or 19cm square cake pan.
Beat Butter, vanilla extract and sugar till light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in sifted flour and milk, in two batches.
Spread mixture into pan. Bake about 45 minutes or till done. Stand cake 5 mintues. Turn top side up onto wire rack to cool


Funny thing is, the actual recipe said to bake for about 1 hour but my cake was nicely done in 45 minutes. I think this may be due to the fact that my pan was slightly smaller and I used some of the batter to make a smaller cake. That probably accounts for the time difference perhaps.




We couldn't wait to try out the small cake as the house was filled with a lovely smell of baking! So as soon as the cakes were done, I popped the small cake out and my Little Princess proudly carried it off to show to The Lovely Wife. We wasted no time in cutting the cake and tasting it.



The cake was really nice and light. Almost like a sponge cake rather than a butter cake. Compared to my usual butter cake recipe, this has one less egg and about a 100 grams more of flour. Interesting how this affects the texture so much. Taste wise, it was really good too.




Too make it more interesting, I whipped up a batch of Orange flavoured butter icing and another batch of chocolate icing. For the Orange Icing, I mixed 60g butter, 2 cups icing sugar and about two Tbsps freshly squeezed orange juice together. I also added in some orange essence. I iced half the cake with the orange icing and then used the same basic recipe but omitted the orange juice and added in about 4 Tbsps of cocoa. I used the chocolate icing to ice the other half of the cake.

I also covered the cake with some roasted almond flakes. This gave it a nice crunch and the nuts went really well with the icing.



So with the twin colours of Black and White, I decided to name this simple cake, a Black and White Butter Cake. The kids preferred the chocolate icing over the orange but having two small slices of each flavour was really the way to go!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Pesto, Eggplant and Mushroom Pasta



After making and devouring the Mushroom Burger with Pesto for lunch, there was still a considerable amount of pesto left over. The kids and The Lovely Wife liked the pesto so much that I decided to make a Pasta that very same night - using similar ingredients. I needed to pop down to the local Super to get more ingredients and I chose button mushrooms and a few more baby eggplant to go with the pasta.
The kids wanted Fettucine as their choice of pasta so that is what I used.





Ingredients
3 cloves garlic - chopped
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Basil
Pesto
2 baby Eggplant - sliced thinly
200g Button Mushrooms - sliced into chunks
Fettucine
Method
Fry the garlic with oregano and basil. Add in the sliced eggplant and cook over high heat till tender. Add in the mushrooms and cook till tender. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cook the pasta and then toss in the Pesto and mix well until nicely combined. Serve the mushroom and eggplant over the pasta.




How easy is that? And how delicious did it turn out too! The whole family loved it as did I. The pasta becomes a nice green once coated with the Pesto and it even looks like it is a spinach pasta or some other sort of green pasta! Completely natural, completely healthy.



I'm sending this quick and easy dish over to Kirsten of From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours who is hosting the ever popular Presto Pasta Nights for the fourth time it seems! Presto Pasta Nights is the brainchild of my friend Ruth from Once Upon a Feast. Now what could be better than sending in a Presto Pesto Pasta for Presto Pasta Nights? Enjoy!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Mushroom Burger with Pesto



A couple of weekends ago, we realised that we had been eating out a lot. One of The Lovely Wife's relatives had come to visit and it's always fun to take people out for food in Malaysia since we live in a veritable food haven. Trouble with eating out though is that most times, the food is full of oils, fats and it also contains a lot of MSG (mono sodium glutamate). Tasty yes, but not good for the system. Since we never use additives at home, we immediately feel the effects of MSG. For me, my sinus tends to act up and with the kids, they start coughing at night. You also feel sluggish the next morning. Maybe its all in the mind, but we really think that one of the causes is MSG.
Anyway, come Saturday, we were tossing up what to do for lunch. Since Saturday is usually cleaning day at home, we tossed up getting some take out (Again!) but The Lovely Wife and I decided that enough was enough. I hadn't made anything different for a while so I thought that I would try something that we had seen on TV. The Food Channel has these short simple recipes that they show as 5 minute fillers between shows and on one of them, they featured a mushroom burger with garlic mayonnaise, pesto and a whole heap of other sauces. They used Portobello mushrooms as a replacement for the hamburger. We all know how Portobello's have that 'meaty' texture.

I decided to keep it simple and just use Pesto. Home made Pesto of course! Instead of the usual Cashew nuts for the pesto, I used Almonds. To make the burger more interesting, I jazzed it up a little by adding some grilled eggplant slices as well. I also used Lollo Rosso lettuce for a slightly different texture and taste. Nice thick tomato slices finished it off. e

Ingredients

4 Portobello Mushrooms
2 large ripe Tomatoes -sliced thickly
Lollo Rosso Lettuce
4 wholemeal buns
2 baby Eggplant - sliced thinly

For the Pesto
2 cloves garlic
50gm Basil Leaves
Large Handful of almonds
20gm cheddar (or more to your taste)
1/8 cup Olive Oil

Method
Make the pesto by processing the garlic, then the basil, almonds, cheese and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Step by step instructions here
Heat a little oil in a skillet and then cook the eggplant till tender - about 5 minutes or so. Lightly season with salt. Remove and allow to drain on paper towels. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and set aside for later. In the same pan, cook the mushrooms on both sides till tender. Remove and set aside. Chop the stems from the mushrooms and cook till tender - so as not to waste!
Toast the buns in the oven till lightly toasted. Assemble the burger by spreading a generous amount of pesto on one half of the bun. Cover with eggplant, mushroom, lettuce and tomato and finally, sprinkle the chopped mushroom stem over the top before covering with the other half of the bun. You can add some tomato sauce too if you like.



The results were fantastic! The pesto gave a nice taste to the burger and you could have eaten it just as a spread as well. The grilled eggplant complemented the mushrooms really well and the mushroom was really juicy. The burger was very filling too and the best part about it was that it was all healthy!




The kids loved it and didn't mind at all that there was no meat in it. My little princess was rather excited about the burgers and she went to get some flag toothpicks that we had previously bought for one of their birthday parties. She stuck the toothpicks into the burgers - "just like they do in the restaurants!"

This is definitely something that we will make again and its so easy and tasty that you could even serve it to guests!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Quick Update

It looks like a month has gone by and there have been no updates whatsoever. That doesn't mean that the cooking has stopped. It has slowed down a bit but it hasn't really stopped. There hasn't been a heckuva lot of new stuff that I have whipped up although there have been a few.

The reason for my lack of updating is actually because I switched jobs and just started on the new one yesterday! Time to update this blog has been hard to find and although there are a few recipes waiting to be written up, I haven't had much 'inspiration' to do the writeups as well as not having much time. So, bear with me loyal readers and I hope to get my stuff up on this blog soon!

Hope all is well with everybody!

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