Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tiramisu


Tiramisu
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.
Tiramisu is one dessert that always tempts me whenever I find myself in an Italian restaurant, still peckish after a main course. On the other hand though, I am always a bit hesitant because more often than not, the dessert fails to "pick-me-up".

So what will be my "perfect tiramisu" (if there is even such a thing)? It is one that has very moist sponge layers, making them even slightly squishy, and on first mouthful, reveal the secret ingredient of kahlua and other alcohol that could possibly cause any alcoholic have a relapse. It should not be too sweet and the cocoa powder should help to create a complementary bitter sweet effect.

I made tiramisu only once before and honestly, I can't remember much other than the crowd loved it but the tiramisu had a very soft body and collapsed.

This time around, I scoured around for a most authentic one and tweaked the recipe a little to adapt to the quantity of our packaging here. I also like that this recipe makes a zabaglione and hence, no fear of salmonella here, even though that means a few extra steps and cleaning up. The friends loved it and I do too.

Tiramisu
(Makes 24 single servings)

48 ladyfingers (errr, they are biscuits, not vegetables)
1.5 cups espresso (you may dissolve 4tbsp instant coffee granules in 1.5cups of hot water)
0.25 cups of Kahlua
2 tsp sugar

500g mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup fine granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
3 tbsp Kahlua
3 tbsp Bailey's Irish cream
200ml heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Let's prepare the filling first.

1. Mash the mascarpone in a large metal bowl until smooth.
2. Put some water in a pot to a boil (creating a water bath) and then turn down to a low heat, creating a rolling boil.
3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in another large metal bowl, until light and fluffy. Then mix in Kahlua and Bailey's.
4. Over the bain-marie (a.k.a. water bath from step 2), continue to beat the egg yolks until the mixture thickens. This should happen when you start to notice small bubbles forming at the bottom. Remove from heat.
5. Pour this mixture into the mascarpone cheese and beat in well.
6. Separately, whip up the cream until thick and fluffy.
7. Fold in the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese mixture until well blended.

Now, let's assemble the dessert! Prepare a 9"x12" pan, at least 2.5 inches tall.
8. In a shallow pan, mix espresso with sugar and Kahlua.
9. Dip each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture, give it a quick turn and start lining the bottom of the pan.
10. When the bottom of the pan is all nicely lined with coffee-soaked ladyfingers, pour half the filling evenly over them.
11. Repeat steps 9 and 10.
12. Sprinkle unsweetened cocoa with a sieve all over the top.
13. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours.

Bon appetito!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

If I was a rich girl

I would eat this every single day. I simply, simply, <3!

 


This is honestly one of the prettiest chirashi sushi I had ever eaten in Singapore. Don't you agree?
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Excuse Me, Are you a food blogger?

Since 2 years ago, the food bloggers on a little red dot get together, obviously over food.

This year, my dear friend June has the honor of organising and as we all know, it will not be easy. So pop over and help her meet her deadline to share more details within next two weeks.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Aoki


Aoki - 7 pc sushi set
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.

A long-awaited-for lunch at yet another famous Japanese restaurant - Aoki. Part of the Les Amis group, it is along the stretch of Les Amis restaurants, all the way hidden at the back of Shaw Centre. Kimono-clad waitress showed me to my counter seat where my friend JM still greeted me with a smile though I was terribly late.

Hungry but not wanting to be greedy, I ordered the nigiri sushi jyo-sen ($30). Meanwhile, a small appetizer dish of braised cabbage sprinkled with bonito flakes and sesame seeds was served. Like Shiraishi, this otoshi did not come for free (S$3) but I would not go to a Les Amis restaurant to save my wallet. Those darn greens were braised til soft and flavourful. After that was a salad of mixed greens dressed with a soy-garlic oil mixture. The dressing was a little too oily and salty but salad was not what I came for. In any case, I actually thought the salad was uncalled for, a little weird to be served alongside my sushi meal.

Anyway, with the healthy greens out of the way, sushi was served! Aoki-san was there and sliced up the sashimi for the sushi. But he stopped there and his colleague made the sushi.

7 types plus one sushi roll were served and those were good sushi! I like the small mound of rice, itself seasoned very well, complimenting the toppings. I like the tamago's texture, slightly rough and not disturbingly spongy but it was sweet enough to be the "dessert" sushi. The most interesting piece was a marinated piece of lean tuna which melted in the mouth! Can you say "Yummy!"?

After savouring each and every piece of sushi, we were expecting the meal to finish with a couple wedges of watermelon served on a dainty Japanese ceramic ware. But to our surprise, a bento box filled with 3 different desserts was served. There was a plum wine jelly that tasted like honey choya, small cube of gelatinous cheesecake which was not anything great and the best of all, a chewy mochi filled with vanilla icecream and served with not-too-sweet azuki bean mash, our favorite. Needless to say, we were impressed by the sheer variety.

Too bad Aoki is a little out of the way but if I have a bit more time, I reckon I will come more often. I will be checking out yet another famous Japanese restaurant soon so let's see if that can beat Sushi Yoshida, which currently remains as favorite indulgent Japanese lunch for now.

*full set of pictures here*

Aoki
1 Scotts Road
#02-17 Shaw Centre
Tel: 6333-8015

Monday, July 09, 2007

Double Chocolate Cake


Double Chocolate Cake
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.

After appearing on the newspaper, I was teased by the classmates from Disciple class for keeping them in the dark about this food blog. Aiyoh, so embarrassing! Inevitably, there was a pressure to bake up something for taste-testing.

So last week, I had some spare time to whip up this really simple double chocolate cake. It had a texture sort of bouncy, but moist though not as 'sticky' as the famous Lana chocolate cake. I added chopped dark chocolate chunks to freshen things up with another dimension. It was devoured quickly and I am glad I made more servings through smaller portions.

I did not realise one of my classmates was actually my blog reader until she came up to me and asked me to post this recipe. So in her honor (Margaret, here you go! :0), here is another version of a simple chocolate cake.

The Chocolate Chocolate Cake
(Makes 2-9" cake)

2.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
0.5 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 whole eggs
250 g unsalted butter
1.25 cup fine granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup whole milk
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped

1. Prepare 2-9" round cake pans - butter and line with parchment paper.
2. Preheat oven to 170C.
3. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
4. Beat butter, sugar until light and fluffy.
5. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well each time.
6. Add vanilla essence and mix well.
7. Add 1/3 flour mixture, fold quickly then add 1/3 cup milk, fold quickly.
8. Repeat the above until twice, adding the chocolae chunks with the last addition of flour.
9. Pour into the prepared pans and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until toothpick comes out almost clean. Do not overbake! Let it cool in pan then remove and cut.

You don't need a cream or icing - it's chocolatey enough. This recipe is also good to make layered cakes; just obmit the chocolate chunks, slice each cake round into half and make a whipped chocolate ganache to fill in between. Absolutely decadent!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Jaan


Pan-Fried Duck Liver
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.
I have to admit Jaan was not my first choice for dinner but on a Sunday, I had not much choices as this was a last minute arranagement. I had several decent lunches at this hidden-find restaurant and knew it had a fantastic view to offer and more importantly, available seatings so I took our family friend to dinner there.

I am glad our friend enjoyed himself. He was taken by the modern decoration (as in, relative to traditional French), especially the few pieces of abstract paintings, and the flamboyant crystal ceiling lightings too. The night was clear and offered a clear view of the Marina bay area.

Although he was here primarily as a medical tourist, it was amusing to see him order the pan-fried duck liver ($35) when the check-up was just the following day! But more importantly to me, he totally enjoyed his sinful appetizer, eating in sort of a revered silence, slowly and relishing.

The appetizer of Langouste Royale Medaillon Topped With Basil Jelly
Green Pea Ice Cream And Mango Mayonnaise
($36) sounded interesting to me. Mango and lobster, it seems like the "in" combination in French cuisine but it works. There was a couple of sushi rice rolls seasoned in a chili oil which was a surprise, but added some heat to jolt the tastebuds in a good way.

For mains, I got a vegetarian option, pastilla of grilled zucchini and eggplant ($35), which had a soft-boiled egg over a salad on the side and a large pastry, sort of like our spring roll skin, filled with layers of vegetables and deep fried. It was just okay, edible but not something I would order again.

I also ordered the Crusted seabass with summer truffles and carrot foam, asparagus and cabbage nage off the degustation menu. It sounded yummy and really, it was visually appetizing (check out the truffles!). The carrot foam was delicious, savory, light touch of cream with only a subtle hint of carrot. Alas, the bass unfortunately suffered a tough death. Perhaps the fish was simply too large to begin with but in any case, the fiberous flesh was a turn-off and we could not bear to finish it. We did bring it to the attention to the waiter, who subsequently brought in his manager. However, his curt attitude did not lead us to expect a waiver off the total bill so kudos to him for that gesture.

Dessert at Jaan on the other hand, always delivers. The Dark Chocolate Tart ($20) may seem expensive and small but trust me, you cannot eat too much of that dark creamy chocolate cream and really, it is the quality that counts and a little goes a loooong way.

Comfortably full, we hung around for coffee and petit fours. For the entire set of pictures, click here.