Thursday, 25 August 2011

Lazy Sunday Cooking - Baked Pasta

I have to confess.  I have been procrastinating.  I'm a lazy bugger.  And the best way to turn this lazy bugger around is to blog about my lazy Sunday afternoon.

The moment was right, the stars have aligned.  The daughter is at grandparent's house for the afternoon. and the wife's asleep.  Nothing good was on the tele, and the kitchen beckons to be dirtied.

A quick peek into the fridge and pantry brought some ideas to mind and I went ahead with it. Dear Reader, you are going to feast your eyes on a pictorial recipe for baked pasta, a la Lazy Me.

Sizzling hot pan, olive oil, grated carrot.  Cooked till soft.

1 large onion, diced. 3 cloves of garlic, rough chopped.

Once onion turns translucent, add in 300g of minced pork.  Continue stir frying.

Add in the minced beef, 300g. Mix well.

Lazy example 1: Add in half a can of sliced button mushroom.  (It's so convenient!)

Mix well all the ingredients and you should get something like this.  I forget to mention that all this while the fire is on medium to high heat.

Lazy Example 2: I use ready-to-use pasta sauce.

Rich and red.  Love the smell of tomatoes!  Don't forget to season with salt pepper. I usually would add a dash or two ( usually 3!) of Worcestershire sauce. 

Got some leftover pasta. Cook the usual way.  Pour contents into baking dish.  Mix with some olive oil,

 Pour the meat sauce in, mix well to ensure the sauce is incorporated.  If possible, avoid penne pasta  It's almost impossible to get the sauce into the tubes hence the taste will not be as oomph!
Taste as you mix!

I got too excited that i forgot to take the picture of the mozzarella topping the whole dish!  Since the whole dish is cooked and ready to eat.  You can keep it in the fridge overnight for the flavour in the sauce to develop further.  Or if you can't wait, just pop the whole dish into an oven, grill the cheese till piping hot and melting.  Yum!

- posted by Lim

Monday, 15 August 2011

The wonders of Photoshop

I went to a photoshop course recently and was able to play with some food pictures. If your pictures don't turn out great, there's always photoshop ;)  - Shared by Teh

Oxtail Stew - Before
Oxtail Stew - After

Fried rice - Before
Fried rice - After

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

My precious Cream Puffs!

This recipe is not by request but I felt that I want to help my friend when he mentioned he has ├ęclairs craving. Hope he tries this recipe! You know who you are!

Cream Puffs - Final Product
Cream Puffs (Makes 20 mini cream puffs)

Choux Pastry:
70g all purpose flour
60g salted butter
120 ml water
2 eggs
Some salt (optional)

Pastry Cream:
2 eggs
40g of sugar
25g all purpose flour
15g corn flour
400ml milk
1tsp vanilla essence

Choux Pastry:
1. Sift the flour and salt together. Salt is optional. Some people like their pastry to be a little salty.
2.  Boil the water in a small pot. Throw in the butter to melt it.
3. When the butter is all melted and mixed with the water, on low heat, add in the sifted flour all at once.
4.  Stir the mixture quickly until it all comes together as a dough and leaves the sides of the pot. (refer to picture) It only takes a minute or slightly more.
Cream Puffs - Water, Butter and Flour

5.  Turn off the fire. Let the dough cool slightly.
6.  Beat the 2 eggs.
7. Transfer the dough (doesn’t matter if it is still hot) to a mixing bowl. (I used my mixing bowl to boil the water. Hence, I didn’t need to wash extra things!)
8.  Use the cake mixer (low speed) on the dough for 20-30 seceonds. This will help disperse some heat. But don’t mix for too long as the steam (moisture) is crucial in the rising of the dough.
9.   Add in the beaten eggs bit by bit with the mixer on high.
10. When all the egg has been mixed in, the dough should look sticky. In the process of mixing the eggs half way, you may feel the dough looks ‘wrong’. But it’s ok. Carry on. It will turn out right after mixing in all the eggs. (refer to picture for an ideal of the desired sticky texture.)
Cream Puffs - with eggs added

11. Now will be a good time to pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.
12.  Scope the dough into a piping bag (or I used those transparent plastic bag and cut a small hole at the corner to pipe the dough out) and pipe the dough on the baking tray. You can grease the tray, or use greased baking paper. For mini puffs, pipe a small dough around the size of a 50 cents coin. These dough will expand quite a lot. I have pictures to prove!

Cream Puffs - before baking

13. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 180 degrees for another 15 mins. The little doughs should turn golden brown and very light. It is hollow inside if you do it correctly.
Cream Puffs - Out from oven

Pastry Cream
1.  Heat up the milk with vanilla essence till hot.
2.  Beat the eggs with sugar, plain flour and corn flour.
3.  Add the hot milk to the eggs mixture slowly and use a normal hand whisk to mix it constantly.
4.  When all the milk has been added, place the eggs and milk mixture back on the stove on low heat. Continue to stir with the hand whisk. (the whisk helps to prevent lumps from forming)
5.  Slowly, the mixture will start to thicken. Keep stirring! It will get burnt easily.
6.  You can stop when the mixture looks like cream texture. If you are worried it is not thick enough, the good news is it will continue to thicken while its cooling. Hence, switch off the heat before you get too thick a cream texture.
7.   Use a cling wrap to cover the cream immediately to prevent a layer of ‘skin’ from forming at the top. I literally put the wrap on the cream. It works like a charm.

1.  Use anything (a small scissors, toothpick, back of a teaspoon) to make a small hole at the side of each puff. Pipe the cooled cream into it. Voila! Cream puffs!

Side notes:
1.  It may be wise to make the pastry cream before hand and let it chill in the fridge. You can do it the night before if you like.
2.  When you pipe the puffs, you may end up with a sharp tip at the top of the puff. Wet your finger with some water and flatten the tip. The water will prevent the dough from sticking to your finger.
3.   Make sure the puffs are cooled before you pipe the pastry cream into it.
4.   While the puffs are ‘hard’ (a bit crispy!) when just out of the oven, it tends to soften after piping in the cream and leaving it overnight. I prefer the soft versions. But it doesn’t stop me from eating the ‘hard’ ones as well.
5.   If you want to make ├ęclairs or you like some melted chocolate on the puffs, you know what to do. Heat up some milk or cream. Slowly add the milk/cream to small pieces of dark chocolate and stir. I do not have the exact measurement at the moment but I know you do not want the mixture to become too diluted. Hence, add the milk/cream slowly! Stir and gauge the thickness. It ought to be thicker than you think it should be. That’s the key. Dip the cream loaded puffs into the chocolate and let it cool. You can put it into the freezer to quicken the process. Based on my experience, the chocolate tends to melt very quick if you leave it back out in the open.
6.   Have fun!

Maybe next week we will do a food review ;)

Shared by Teh