Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bad luck.

Busy scrambling to get my driver's license. Yet no testers are free to take me for my test. I'm really pulling my hair out now as of what to do, as I'm gonna need to get it before the Hubs leave.. Stress.....

Haven't been cooking much this week due to trying to arrange my test, since its really based on the weather. We scheduled it over the weekend, but there was a storm, so it was cancelled. Once its good, and I get hold of the tester, we drive out and take it. The weather was great this morning, but the tester was no where to be found. How bad can my luck be? Sigh.

I'm not dead yet, in fact, I have loads of photos to show... No worries, plenty of posts to come by next week. Once I've settled most of what I need to before the Hubs fly.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recipe: Pandan Chiffon cake

I've been craving for Pandan Cake for awhile, being in USA and not being able to conveniently get "local" food from stores is killing me. I've been cooking and baking a storm in my kitchen since I've started "playing" in the kitchen. Its where I let my creativity flow, and cook my heart out for my hubs and friends.

I've did the cake 3 times, each time changing the recipe a little. This is the one which got the best feedback, being the softest texture. It did sink alittle, but its really soft, as what the tasters preferred. Its a wee bit sweeter, so I'll go about reducing the sugar next time around.

1 cup all purpose flour (150g)
3 heaping tbsp of corn flour
1/4 tsp salt
8 egg yolks
9 egg whites
1 + 1/4 cup of coconut milk (300 ml)
4 tbsp pandan leaf extract
160g castor sugar
1/2 tsp pandan essence ( I use the indonesian brand, which also gives a green colouring to the cake)
1/2 tsp cream of tar tar

Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix coconut milk and sugar in a sauce pot and let it boil slightly. Stir to prevent from burning. Leave aside to cool.

Mix all purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a big mixing bowl.

Separate egg yolks and egg whites into separate bowls.

Mix the yolks, coconut milk mix, pandan leaf extract, and essence in a bowl, and whisk.
Add yolk mixture into flour mix. Use the whisk and stir till smooth.

Pour egg white, castor sugar, and cream of tar tar into a large mixing bowl. 
Use hand held mixer to whisk it to stiff peaks.

Gently fold with spatula egg white mix into egg yolk mix, till thoroughly mixed.
Pour into ungreased tube pan.
Level and bake 45 minutes.
Let cake cool upside down in pan for 1 hour.
Run the back of butter knife through the sides of the pan before popping it out to slice

Still not perfect, but getting better..

Some things I've learnt along the way:
-Take care that the coconut and sugar mix is not too hot to cook the yolks when you pour it in to mix.
-It will take awhile to whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.
-When you fold the egg white mix into the egg yolk mix, careful not to let more air bubbles into the mixture. Its best to do as gently as possible, while allowing the both ingredients to blend with each other as much as possible.
-The mixture will be very watery, but don't worry about it. When did my first cake, I was worried that it wasn't going to rise, or that its too watery, it will come out as gunk. But it came out quite well, and we finished it in an hour out of the oven.

-To remove as much air bubbles as possible from the cake, drop it from about 2 inches above the table carefully. Or you can hold it firmly with 2 hands, and slam the bottom of the pan onto the table.
-It is very important to let the cake cool completely before taking it out of the pan, or it will crumb terribly. My first cake had to be eaten in handfuls rather than slices.. because I could not wait for it to cool!
-It is important not to grease the pan as you want the cake to "cling" onto the sides of the pan to rise as much as possible.
-Do not fill the pan to full as the cake will rise, and will result in a dome bottom. I fill mine to half, or 3/4 full.
-My last try, I lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, as I had alot of problems removing the cake from the pan, even after running my knife through the sides. It did not change any consistency of the cake, and allowed me to remove the cake easily from the pan.

Please try and share with me your photos! Let me know how I can improve this cake if you've done some experimenting on your own.. ;)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Men are hardest to please!

They say the best way to a man's heart, is through his stomach. I followed that, and learned how to cook. Just when I thought I've reached his heart, and wanted to do what I enjoy most, baking, he hit me with another.

"You shouldn't start trying other things till you can cook well!" 
"I've been feeding u everyday with homecooked food for the last nine months, is it still that bad?"
"No, its good! But you should practice till you can see a piece of meat and have a list of things you can do with it!"

I mean like seriously? My husband is really getting picky! Not only is he expecting more out of me now, he's picky with his food! I let him tell me what he craves for everytime, so I get challenged to do some new recipes from time to time. While surfing other food blogs, I jot down what I want to try too. I feel that in some way, cooking/baking challenges my mind to try something new all the time, and I truly enjoy it.

But from someone who can't even cook a proper instant noodle, to my current daily cooking spree, to being able to cook a full 4 -5 course meal, its not easy! I came to USA not knowing how to cook, both our parents were so worried for the both of us, worried that I won't be able to feed the both of us, or that we had to stick to microwave foods all the time, which is totally unhealthy. Look where I've progressed to!

I occasionally buy the food magazine to get some new inspirations for recipes or holiday cooking, and my husband happily flips through the magazines during his toilet breaks, screams my name, and goes, "Here got recipe for clam chowder leh! Fresh one somemore!" flips a few more pages, "Dear, maybe we should do our own lasagne, eh, here got __________ , I never try before." 

Its like those are not subtle hints! He's name dropping the dishes he wants to me to cook for him! I like the challenges he throws at me, cuz its been pushing me to get better at cooking. But, hey, who said that men are easy to please?

My husband likes it when I make so called restaurant food at home, although not as high quality as those in restaurants, but being able to taste and knowing its made with love from his dear wife, he'll just happily gobble it all down, and ask for seconds. Followed by, "Dear, I saw today so and so bring _________ to work leh! Maybe we can try to do at home!"

With that, I got a whole list of food ideas of what to cook for him in the days ahead, and at the same time, a feast to prepare in the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I have a husband who likes to try, and if its good, he wants to SHARE with his friends, means doing it all up again, so he can bring it to work for his pals. Luckily, I'm still enjoying my time in the kitchen, with all the experimenting to do, I'm happy to have all the guinea pigs to test for me.

Are your men like these too?