Thursday, October 28, 2010

Japanese Cotton Cheesecake

I haven't disappeared but just been quite busy writing my 3000-5000 words philosophy of science assignment and now that I am near 'the light at the end of the tunnel', I wanted to share with you one of my favorite cheesecake, and from my favorite baker, Alex Goh of course!

Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake

I remembered I first tasted this cheesecake when I was 19 years old, at my first holiday job while waiting to enter university. This cake is so soft that it is referred as cotton cheesecake (not because there's cotton added to it :p). It's sort of like souffle - although I have not tasted one before but I can imagine it. A slight change I made was to use 50-50 ratio of milk and cream or you can stick to either one if you like but I used to buy one and leave in the fridge to enjoy a small piece the whole week. I think it was at first only available at Raffles City basement supermarket, they had a small counter outside and under Fiesta. Now I think it has changed it's name but what's distinctive about it is the cute cow embalm on top of the cake. I haven't figured out how to do that yet (Evelyn! maybe you can teach me!) but once I do, I'm going to put Singlish Swenglish on it! Heh! I did a green tea version before this too and it's really good too!! It will come up soon but stick with this one first.One step you should do properly is the beating of the egg white because that's the only thing that's helping it to raise. I find this website very useful if you want to be a bit more scientific about baking.

160g cream cheese
25g butter
60g milk
60g whipping cream
40g flour
30g cornflour
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
100g sugar
pinch of salt

  1. Place in the bowl which you will be using over a pot of boiling water the cream cheese, butter, milk and cream. Using a whisk ( I like this one from Ikea, gets out all the lumps), stir over the double boiler until it is thick. Remove from the heat and set aside.

    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
  2. Mix the flour and cornflour in a separate bowl first, then add it gradually to the cheese mix, making sure to whisk constantly and ensure all the lumps are gone before adding more.It should be a smooth mixture after all the flour is added in.

    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton 

  3. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees or 170 degrees if your baking pan is dark-colored.Separate the egg yolks and place the egg whites in a clean stainless steel mixing bowl. Add the egg yolk one by one into the cheese/flour mixture. Make sure each yolk is well incorporated before adding the next one.
    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake

    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
  4. Next, beat the egg whites with the mixer until it is foamy first, then add the cream of tartar, and then the sugar one tablespoon at a time until it is all added in. The eventual result should be at soft peak.

    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
  5. Add about 1/5 of the beaten egg white into the cheese mixture first to loosen up the mixture. Then fold it back to the egg white mixture. Don't mix it like you are stirring coffee! Be gentle and use a figure 8 motion. This should be what it looks like:

    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
  6. Pour it into a round 24cm pan which you have greased and lined. Wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil because its going to be baked in a water bath. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. I find that it does matter if you are using a light colored or dark colored baking pans because the latter requires a bit more time. And this is how I set up my water bath, by filling up one baking tray with hotwater and placing the cake pan in the middle of it.

    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
  7. Once it has turned firm (test with a skewer through the middle of the cake) and golden brown, remove the cake from the oven and from the mould immediately to let it cool. It will shrink if you let it cool in its mould.

    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake

    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
  8. Be patient and wait for about 30 minutes if you can before slicing it. Here it is:

    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake

    and here
    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake

    and here's one that while I was eating it, it sort of just peel away showing the creamy softness, so I had to show you again!
    Singlish Swenglish Japanese Cotton Cheesecake

    Ok, I got to go have one piece now :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beef with Cumin

Cumin Beef

I've only tried making this dish once but Johan seems to like it - reason being the cumin taste reminded him of Mexican food. It was a tad too strong by my taste but if he request for it, it can be easily whipped up even as you use the kind of beef usually reserve for braising by just cutting it against the grain. This is taken from Dunlop Fushia's 'Revolutionary Chinese Cooking - Recipes from the Hunan Province'

340g beef, sliced
2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
2 fresh red chilies, seeds discarded and finely chopped, or 1 chili padi, chopped finely
2-4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt to taste
2 spring onions, green parts only finely sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
400ml cooking oil.

1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon potato flour
1 tablespoon water

Cumin Beef

  1. Marinade the beef for about 10-15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Heat the cooking oil to about 140 degrees C, or on high. Add the beef and stir gently. Once they have separated, remove from the oil and drain well.
  3. Pour off all the oil leaving about 3 tablespoons and heat over high flame. Add the ginger, garlic, both chillies and cumin and stir fry briefly until fragrant. 
  4. Add the beef into the pan and stir well so it coats evening, seasoning with some salt.
  5. When all the ingredients are sizzling fragrant, add the spring onions and toss briefly. Turn off the heat and stir in the sesame seed oil and serve.

    Cumin Beef

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mum's Soda Bread

No, it's not my mom's but Tony Tobin's mum's recipe for soda bread. I've always wondered about this bread which I've heard quite often and finally made it two months ago. It's not as daunting as it seems and actually keeps quite well. If its your first time making bread, this should be something you can master pretty easily. I got this recipe from a collection of recipes of UK cooks in a book called 'Saturday Kitchen Cookbook - The Top 100 recipes from the TV series'. I didn't get to see the show since I'm in Sweden, but some recipes seems quite interesting. The only thing is not all the recipes come with a picture, which I kinda of like in cookbooks, because you have something to expect and maybe less easy to go wrong? Or I'm just a picture person :)

The interesting tidbit about this bread is about the cross that's made on top. According to Wikipedia, it was suppose to a) ward off the devil or b) let the fairies out of the bread (??) or c) help air circulation so the cook rises and cook better or d) helps when slicing the bread to even out the portions. Which would you think it's true?

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients (for 1 loaf)
450g wholemeal flour
225g self-raising flour or if you use ordinary flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder plus 1/4 teaspoon salt to every 140g of flour. (I got this tip from Joy of Baking)
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
600ml milk
250ml plain yoghurt

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Mix the wholemeal flour in a bowl with the self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar.
  2. Mix together the milk and yoghurt in a separate bowl and add to the flour to make a soft dough. Flour your hands generously and the work surface and knead lightly until the dough is smooth.
  3. Shape the dough into a circle about 4cm deep, take a sharp, floured knife and cut a deep cross on the top.
  4. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes until crusty and brown, it should be ready when you hear the hollow sound when you tap on the bottom of the bread.
    Irish Soda Bread

Monday, October 11, 2010

Taiwan Lu Rou Fan - Taiwanese Stew Pork Rice

Singlish Swenglish Taiwan Lu Rou Fan

Since I started my studies one month ago, I haven't really had so much time to explore recipes and this is actually a good time to catch up on my postings which are lagging a bit from when I made the dishes. This was done in early August for the first time, and I think it went really well with a dollap of Lao Gan Ma :). However, as this dish is quite oily, what you should/can do is to filter the top layer off, which you can do with one of those oil sieve, or sit the pot in the fridge for the top layer to form and you can take it off easily with a spoon.

1 medium onion, minced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked and diced
300g semi-fatty pork with distinct fat layer you can cut off separately, or pork belly. Diced the meat and fatty parts separately.
1 star anise
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons light soy sauce to taste
Sugar to taste
2 whole hard-boiled eggs, peeled

Side dish
2 leaves of suancai, diced into large chunks
1 cloves of minced garlic
Sugar and salt to taste

Singlish Swenglish Taiwan Lu Rou Fan

  1. Heat up a pot over medium heat and fry the fatty portion of the meat first, over medium heat until it is browned sufficiently. According to some videos I watched, this part is essentially to obtain thick gravy that is characteristic of this dish.

    Singlish Swenglish Taiwan Lu Rou Fan
  2. Add the onions, garlic to the pot first until slightly browned, then add the mushroom and the rest of the pork and stir fry the mix until the pork changes colour.

    Singlish Swenglish Taiwan Lu Rou Fan
  3. Add enough hot water to the pot to just cover the mixture and the soy sauces and bring it to a boil before turning down the heat to simmer for about an hour or until the meat turns tender. Add the eggs halfway so they are stewed at the same time.

    Singlish Swenglish Taiwan Lu Rou Fan
  4. While waiting, using a separate small pot, fry the minced garlic in a little oil until they are fragrant, then add the diced suancai and fry them until they seems a little dry, then add enough water to cover them, salt and sugar to taste and simmer over low heat until they just lose their crunch.
  5. To serve, scoop over a bowl of rice, the pork stew, hard-boiled egg and suancai. Yums yums!

    Singlish Swenglish Taiwan Lu Rou Fan

Monday, October 4, 2010

Swedish Kalops or Beef Stew with Allspice

Kalops or Swedish Beef Stew with allspice

I have made beef stew before but this has a distinct flavor that I can only account for due to the use of allspice or kryddpepper. They look like black peppercorns but bigger and smells like a combination of cloves, star anise and other fragrant spices. I tried this when I went for lunch with my colleague at Finn Inn, a lunch restaurant near my office. It was on a Thursday since they were serving yellow pea soup and Swedish pancakes and this dish seems perfect for the cold autumn we have been experiencing. They served it with fried potato chunks instead of boiled potatoes and that was what I made too and seasoned them with salt, pepper and some chopped parsley. The other quite distinct feature about this is the pickled beet roots, which you can buy off the shelf or try making from fresh ones if you can't find any (I'll give you the recipe at the end). These recipes are from a book called 'Very Swedish' by Annica Triberg, Per Ranung and Tore Hagman, which we got as a wedding present from our dear friend, Lisbeth.

Ingredients (serves 2)
600g beef chunks for stewing purposes
2 medium size onions or 1 large onion, cut into large segments
1 carrot, cut into 3cm chunks
1 tablespoon or 15g butter
6-7 whole allspice
3 white peppercorns
2 small or 1 large bay leaf
1/2 cube beef stock
1.5 tablespoon cornstarch
salt, white pepper for seasoning

Kalops or Swedish Beef Stew with allspice

  1.  Heat the butter in a pot and sear the beef chunks. 
  2. Add the carrots and onions when the beef is browned and fry with the meat for about a minute or two.

    Kalops or Swedish Beef Stew with allspice
  3. Add hot water just enough to cover the beef and add the spices and beef stock and boil over low heat for about 90 minutes or until beef chunks is tender.

    Kalops or Swedish Beef Stew with allspice
  4. Just before serving, dissolve the cornstarch with a little water and stir into the stew to thicken it. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the beetroot and fried potatoes.

    Kalops or Swedish Beef Stew with allspice

    To pickle your own beetroots (this should make you more than 2 portions):
    Ingredients:12-15 small beetroots, salt, 100ml spirit vinegar (12%), 160g sugar, 300ml water, 3-4 whole allspice, 3-4 whole white peppercorns
    Steps: Boil the beetroots in lightly salted water until they are soft. Pour off the water and peel the beets and subsequently placed in a jar. Boil the pickling solution of the vinegar, sugar, water and spices and stir in  the sugar until it dissolves. Let it cool before pouring over the beetroots and cover, store overnight before use. I haven't tried this yet so let me know if you do!