Monday, November 29, 2010

Hypertension: Cauliflower Puree

So I woke up at 12noon with a growling stomach. Truth be told, this is one of my earlier days.

noon only?! geez people WHAT are you all doing awake?!

I rocked up to the fridge and found bits and pieces of food stuff here and there, including this tiny portion of cauliflower. Might as well, I suppose. Some trial and error cooking for 1 won't hurt anyone! =D

1 bowl of cauliflower
1 cup of milk
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 a small brown onion
25g of butter
pinch of salt
pinch of ground bay leaves
pinch of pepper

The ham and cheese toast was just, well, you know... =D

Hypertension warning
Hypertension is the medical condition whereby there is increased blood pressure in the individual. It could be caused by too much salt, cholesterol, alcohol and stuff like that. Just remember to have those stuff in moderation and maintain a healthy lifestyle i.e. exercise regularly! =D

There are actually other colors for cauliflowers! There's orange, green and even purple cauliflowers. Like woah. And Orange cauliflowers are supposed to contain 25 times more Vitamin A than the white ones, which is good for the eye. Cauliflowers themselves are packed with truckloads of fibre, folate and anti-cancer stuff (indole-3-carbinol). But apparently boiling quickly destroys such compounds whilst other cooking methods have not much impact on the anti-cancer compounds. Oops? Now we know!

Smash the garlic with the blade of the knife and roughly cut the onions into smaller pieces. This is to release the flavor of these beautiful little things into the milk more easily.

Cut up the cauliflower into little pieces to speed up the cooking process. Com'on I'm really hungry man.

Pour the cuppa milk, onion and garlic, and cauliflower and bring them to a boil until the cauliflower softens. It'll soften in about 5 minutes? I just pressed the cauliflower against the side of the pot with the ladle and I figured that it's done when the cauliflower gets smooshed.

When it's done, stir in a comfortable amount of butter which doesn't induce too much guilt. For me, that was about 25g..

Throw in a good pinch of salt and ground bay leaves. Omg. Omg. Ground bay leaves are so awesome. It's so fragrant and goes so well with milk and cream based food. Yum.

THIS BABY, is something that all houses should have. Heck, I think the government should issue this to every single family. Seriously, it improves lives by like miles. MILES. Or if not, use a food processor and mash the whole thingum up.

Noms. I didn't strain it so there was still grainy bits, which was the texture I was going for.

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D
1) Season it well, seriously. No really, you have to put salt and pepper for it to be remotely tasty. I experimented with a index finger of salt and honestly, there was nothing. Then I just threw in a good pinch of say half a teaspoon and there was magic. However I do suppose there are alternatives, such as half a cup of parmesan cheese, which I am CERTAIN, would give it the salty kick AND the heavenly cheese-cauliflower complement.

2)I didn't strain the puree and thus ended up with a soupy texture with bits of cauliflower in it. For those we are looking for a thicker texture closer to mash potato, just strain the puree and use the filtrand.

3) I do suppose other herbs such as cloves would bring more kick to the recipe but you MUST. NOT. FORGET. BAY. LEAVES.

4) I think bacon, ham and cheese are cauliflowers' best friends. Just gotta think of ways to marry them all. Hmmmmmm.... Maybe maybe fried bacon bits on sprinkled on top of the puree, after it has been folded with cheese? Till next time I suppose! =D

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Carious: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Cranberries and Pistachio

OMG YUM. Seriously, that was all I can think about when I'm eating my first slice. And the next slice. And the next. Speaking of which, I'm having another slice right now. URGH.

The cake is moist, the toasted nuts a treat, the overt amount of frosting a real sin (which frosting isn't?) and the cranberries and pistachio a visual stimulation.

Caries warning
Having sweet treats too often encourages bacteria growth and destruction of tooth enamel. Hence, it's recommended to have your sweet treats during your meal times to reduce the number of times the tooth enamel undergoes destruction.
Remember to brush and floss your teeth daily! =)

There's something really sexy about red and green that complements so well.. Case in point.


The idea of having pistachio and cranberries came from Siena, this amazing 9 year old lass from Australia's Masterchef Junior. She's the most beautiful little girl with an air of confidence that puts me to shame. Sigh, got a lot more to learn! Her dish was pheasant stuffed with cranberries and pistachio.

oo! goes well with pheasant? must go well with everything then!

Carrots were used in sweet cakes because sugar and sweeteners were expensive and not easily available and that carrots contain high levels of sugar. Besides, carrots are high in beta carotene (for retina and hence, eyesight) and Vitamin A. All good stuff.
From Wikipedia of course!
whee! *goes for another slice*

Original recipe from here.

Once again, I shrunk the recipe to 2-egg because my baking pan is small, 9 inch diameter by 2 inch height. In retrospect, it should have been 3-egg recipe for the pan AND a better cake to frosting ratio.

1/2 cup (50 grams) pecans or walnuts
1 large raw carrot, about 1 1/2 cups finely grated
1 cups (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
3/4 cups (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chuck the nuts into the oven and toast them for 5 minutes. I set the heat at 180 deg C so as to preheat the oven anyway.

Finely grate the carrot and complain about the humidity in Singapore.


Throw in the cuppa flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt and sieve them into a separate bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the egg till slightly frothy/foamy and throw in the sugar. Then, take out the anger of the humidity and beat the egg till its thick and light colored (as above)

Slowly pour in the cuppa oil while whisking it. Canola oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fat so don't feel so guilty! Peanut oil on the other hand...
I've made this recipe 3 times. The first time, I cut 50% of the oil and it turned out crumbly and dry. The second time I cut away 30% of the oil and 20% of the sugar and it was still crumbly and dry because sugar is hydrophilic (water-loving) and helps in maintaining the moisture of the cake. This time, I threw in all the sugar and oil and it's nicely moist and the perfect hit on the sweet-ometer. So if you're looking for a cake lower in calories but still as good, I guess you just gotta have a smaller slice?

Then, pour in the dry ingredients and gently stir the mixture until the dry ingredients have JUST been moistened and incorporated. Don't overmix it cause the leavening (rising agents) will work too quickly and the cake will end up slightly dense and flat.

Then, toss in the nuts and grated large carrot in stir gently. And of course, the customary finger poke taste test. For best results, repeat the poke test at least 3 times. =)

Some recipes suggest putting apple sauce/apple puree/crushed pineapples to help keep the cake moist. I've put crushed pineapples into the cake before. The pineapples tasted good but I thought that there was too much going on in the cake. Nuts, carrots, pineapples, frosting. Hurhhhhh????

Bake the batter in the oiled baking pan/pan lined with baking paper at 180deg for 20 minutes or until brown and the poke of a stick comes out clean.

And now, my favorite part of every cake. THE FROSTING! Admittedly this recipe made twice as much frosting as required but I used it all on the cake anyway cause I was too lazy to find a box to store the excess. Well, if some is good, more must be better!

250g of cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups of icing sugar (I used 1/2 a cup cause I just couldn't bring myself to do 2 cups.)
1/4 cup (57grams) of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
juice of 1/2 an orange

For a smoother frosting, whisk the butter and cream cheese together first and slowly sift in the icing sugar. But really, just chuck them all into bowl and whisk the life outta em. It'll still turn out good.

Once again, the finger poke test. For frosting, repeat it at least 5 times. =D

Green and red is ♥


Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D
1) Don't overmix the batter or else the cake will not rise. Gently fold in the carrots and nuts and quickly pour them into the pan.

2)Don't cut the oil and sugar. Instead, share the calories with your friends and make em happy. Com'on, trust Distracted Student on this.

3)Refrigerate the frosting a little if it is too runny to be spread. 10minutes will harden it up sufficiently to be spreadable. Singapore is SO HOT that my cheese and butter softened while I walked home from the supermarket 10mins away. Oh well, makes for easier whisking!

4)Don't use up all the frosting on that 2-egg recipe if you aren't a frosting junkie like me.

5) FINELY grate the carrots. There are several sizes on the grater. Choose the SMALLEST sized for grating. I used to use the larger ones and the carrot taste wasn't as strong. Not to mention, it makes the cake almost uncuttable without ruining the texture on the sides.

Now go share some love and calories! =D

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pilot: crepe with smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onion, sage and basil.

Hurrah! It's my long awaited summer vacation! *throws confetti* It has been a grueling 2nd semester in Dental school and I'm only Year 1! I see a bleak 4 years ahead of me.. But oh well, tough times don't last!

Nonetheless, it's a perfect excuse to start a food blog aye.
I need to destress.
AHHH foood!
*walks to the fridge*

Alright lets get this baby going! =D

Made this zomgyums crepe today because my friend gave me a couple of pots of sage and basil and since I'm flying back to Singapore tomorrow, I needed an excuse to use these little babies. Something about basil and sage just sings. Really. The crepes themselves are fantastic too. Delicate, tender but holds well. The perfect canvas for experimental people like me to mess about. Fortunately, I got a forgiving housemate.

Crepes were conceived in France and gained widespread popularity. It's use is extremely diverse, in sweet foods and savory foods alike. It could also be used to make cakes (Mille Crepe - thousand layer crepe) or mixed with flavorings and infusions to make flavored crepes. And interestingly, In Galicia (Spain), it's made from pigs' blood instead of milk!
From Wikipedia of course. =)

Basic Crepes Recipe from here

Since it's for 2, I shrunk the recipe. The recipe is pretty easy to remember too. Ratio of 1 flour to 1 cup water/milk to 2 eggs and 2 tablespoon of butter.

1/2 cup of plain flour
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon of butter (15grams)
1/8 teaspoon of salt

Mix the egg and milk/water mixture and stir!

Here's a tip for producing a smooth batter without lumps and bumps. Sift in the flour slowly while stirring rapidly. This dissolves the flour rapidly and avoids the agglutination of flour. Some recipes dictates pouring the wet ingredients into the mound of flour. If it agglutinates, just sieve the mixture and you'll get a smooth batter! But aye, I'm lazyreluctant to wash clumps of batter off my sieve.

You get 3/4 cup of batter! Just enough for 2 persons with a 20cm thin crepe. Perfecto.

Add in the 1 tablespoon of butter and stir! Ok honestly this is probably 1 out of 6213476123 times that I use butter. Gahh. My heart wept when I poured that 15g in. Alternatively, you could substitute a tablespoon of olive oil. Fragrant, healthy, and more importantly, less guilt.

Now just heat up the pan to medium-high and fry it up! We want them to look nicely brown on both sides. =D

If smoked salmon were any cheaper, I think I might just swap rice with it. Oh. SO yum. Perfect with cream cheese, sage, basil and onion..

Same crepe recipe but this time, I put mushrooms, ham, onions, cheese and egg. Oh gosh mushroom, ham and cheese should be sold together. Like Mushameese. Or Cusham. Maheese. Blah.

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D
1) Lumpy batter! Don't settle for lumpy batter. Looks bad, tastes bad, is bad. Whisk in the flour while stirring or sieving the batter would solve the problem

2) Make sure the pan is sufficiently hot. Once the batter is poured in, swirl the pan to spread it thinly. The heat will help in the spreading of the batter as a thin layer would be cooked first. Or if you're lazy like meunwilling to swirl the pan, spread it with a spatula by gentle dragging. Remember that they are delicate and would break easily.

3) Who am I kidding, it's just crepes! Easy peasy stuff. =)

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