Friday, 27 November 2009

Ingredients Series: Instant Sauces

I am of course a fan of preparing sauces from scratch. Gathering ingredients, storing them, using them and finishing them of course. But when time is your question, then having instant sauces for various cuisine help in your preparation for a meal. This trend in actual fact has taken the world by storm with instant curry sauces to even having prepared pasta sauces at your leisure. For a typical Asian, I look for instant sauces linking me to my heritage. 


My loyalty tends to lie towards Malaysian made sauces but Asian Home Gourmet is quite good. Manufactured in Singapore, it has a really nice spread of options for the asian in you. From Singapore Laksa to Vietnamese Pho, including mixes for Fried Rice. I like Brahim's because it has a selection of curries that somehow links the Malaysian in me to my homeland. So nationalistic...:)
However, there are plenty of other instant sauces. Thailand produces quite a number of brands that provides everyone the opportunity to cook thai food. Mae Ploy is probably the single most popular brand for Thai curry pastes. Other instant sauce brands include Mae Pranom and Nittaya. Malaysia does not lack either. Adabi and Baba's are quite staple in the UK. I have yet to find it in Germany but then again, I have not explored all the oriental stores available in Germany.






Going back to the reason why this blog exists, instant sauces does considerably shorten your cooking time. An average proper curry does take up to four hours to prepare with the right ingredients and the proper preparation method. Using an instant sauce satchet would mean only having to cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour. How's that for a quicker cooking process?

So check out your nearest oriental supermarket and see what you can find!

Go instant for a shorter cooking time,
The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Hainanese Chicken Rice - The innovative way

After 10 days of eating out due to a hectic work schedule and parents being over, I was not able to cook much. Coming back at 10pm every night does not help either. Today is probably the first day I could cook with ease. Having had chicken in the fridge waiting to be cooked off, I went foraging for ingredients. A small fridge doesn't really allow me to keep much ingredients. In any case, the thought of having chicken rice in Germany sounded excellent. Remembering the basics of the ingredients that Kitchen Virgin and I used when attempting to cook it the first time round gave me enough motivation to go searching for the ingredients.






Hainanese Chicken Rice - The Innovative Way

Thankfully, Germany isn't so bad in terms of ingredients. The lack of Malaysian restaurants means the lack of certain ingredients. But most of what I needed was around. So what went in?

Ingredients:

5 Stalks                  Spring Onions (sliced to about 5cm each, with roots thrown away)
Thumb sized           Ginger (skin taken off and sliced)
4 pieces                  chicken thigh (cleaned and insertions cut into the meat)
1 tbsp                     whole white pepper
2 to 3 bulbs of        shallots (skin removed and sliced into half)
1 tbsp                     vegetable oil
1 cup                      jasmine rice
2 tsp                       butter
1 clove                    garlic - finely sliced
1 tbsp                     soy sauce
                               salt and pepper to taste
A bunch of              lettuce leaves
1 large bowl of        water

Method:

  1. To prepare the chicken, make sure to clean all unwanted parts - feathers left over. Next cut deeply into the chicken so that it has enough space to stuff some ginger and spring onions - use the green part of the spring onions. You can opt to insert the spring onions underneath the skin of the chicken as well.
  2. Prepare a pot, add in the bowl of water and bring to boil. Whilst waiting for the water to boil, add in shallots, whole white pepper, the white part of the spring onions, oil and salt. 
  3. When water is boiling, add in chicken. Reduce the heat to allow soup to cook chicken.
  4. On another pot, wash a cup of jasmine rice. Cooking rice in a rice cooker and a pot is the same. Do not disturb it. But before we actually cook the rice, we add the sliced garlic, butter, spring onions and black pepper. Heat the pot up containing the rice. Ensure the butter starts to melt and constantly stir the rice to avoid it sticking to the pot. The butter will act as the oiling agent for the rice replacing vegetable oil. Here you can replace the butter with oil if you do not want to have it too fatty but trust me it tastes way better with butter. 
  5. Once the rice is coated thoroughly with butter and the spring onions is turning colour into a deep green, add in the right dosage of water. Here one cup of water would need 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover the pot and let it cook. The heat is what will cook the rice. Do not open the cover until after 10 minutes. Stir the rice and then cover again. Let it sit for another five minutes before switching off the fire.
  6. The chicken by now would be ready. Reduce the heat to the smallest flame available. Take out the chicken and let it sit. Using the soup, add in your lettuce leaves to blanch it. This would cook your vegetables and save you time in boiling up another pot of water to blanch your leaves. It also adds flavour to them.
  7. Serve up with chicken, vegetables and rice. For condiments, you can choose to have chilli sauce or for me Chiu Chow Chilli sauce. Not having a blender makes it difficult for me to serve up the chicken rice chilli sauce. But then again, this probably calls for innovative thinking :)
Truly, I ate the whole lot. My landlord came by and had a portion as well. \




As I had no rice cooker, I had to use what was available to me to cook the rice. I used this glass to measure my rice and my portion of water. It goes the same with other glasses. Just do not start using bowls. That would mean an overflow of rice.

The time I took to cook was about 45 minutes provided you have defrosted your chicken or bought fresh from the supermarket. It may be a tad long, but you will relish the taste after that.

Still savouring the taste,
The Innovative Baker

The Iron Cup Cake Challenge - Kitchen Virgin til 27


Hello hello all,

as a special favour to my fellow baker,Kitchen Virgin til 27, I ask all you fellow readers to vote for her at the upcoming IRONCUPCAKE EARTH CHALLENGE!!!! Vote!!!!

Take your time, drool at her cupcakes and vote!

The innovative baker is left with no oven in Düsseldorf, so hence most recipes would lean more towards savouries.

Go go go and vote,
The Innovative Baker

Monday, 16 November 2009

Bak Kut Teh

A good friend, Mel, called up and asked whether we could meet up for dinner before I left for Germany. So we decided to have dinner at my place with me cooking up a very simple dish. Bak Kut Teh! A favourite amongst Malaysians (a very Malaysian dish indeed), it was a good night to have it since the day was windy and cold.




Bak Kut Teh

Essentially, Bak Kut Teh means Meat boiled in Chinese Herbal Tea. The actual ingredients would have consisted of different chinese herbs resembling shards of wood, slices of roots and the like. But being in London means having the next best thing - Bak Kut Teh satchets. Available in various Oriental Stores in China Town, Central London, a packet of Bak Kut Teh would cost about GBP1.99. So what does the recipe call for?

Ingredients:
1 packet               Bak Kut Teh (contains two satchets)
1kg                      meat - preferably pork ribs, if not, pork belly (chicken, lamb and beef is also fine)
1 packet               button mushrooms - it does not matter what kind. Canned mushrooms is also fine.
10 - 15 pieces      dried shiitake mushrooms - soaked in boiling water to soften (do not dispose of water)
1 whole bulb of    garlic
1 tbsp                  whole black pepper
2 tbsp                  oyster sauce
2 tbsp                  dark soy sauce
1 tbsp                  light soy sauce
3 bowls               water, or enough to cover 1/2 the soup pot

Method:

  1. Place pot with water on stove. Bring to boil.
  2. On a separate pot, boil water to pre-boil your meat. This is to get rid of the initial oil that the meat would release when boiled.
  3. When first post of water is boiling, fish out pre-boiled meat from second pot and place into first pot. Dispose of water in second pot.
  4. Next, add in the Bak Kut Teh satchets and mushrooms. Put in the water that was from the mushrooms as well.
  5. Next add in all sauces into pot as well as whole black pepper. Bring to boil.
  6. Once water is boiling, reduce heat and let it simmer. Let simmer for 1 hour.
  7. Test if soup is salty enough once flavours have entered meat. How do you know this? The meat would have changed colour after having to sit in the simmering soup for the last hour. Remove from stove and serve in bowls.
For the rice, you can add in smashed garlic and salt with the rice and cook as usual. If you wish to have more flavour, add in the water from the mushrooms here instead of adding it into the Bak Kut Teh. I personally like white rice with Bak Kut Teh.

For vegetables, there are varieties in which you can use. The normal would iceberg lettuce, mustard leaves (Choy Sum) or Kai Lan. I use the next best thing - Romaine Lettuce. After washing the leaves, I directly place them into the soup to be blanched instead of frying it up. It saves time and lessens the washing up process as well.

So now, you have a perfectly hearty meal for a rainy windy night in London. Mel and I enjoyed it. So will you.

Having a taste of home,
The Innovative Baker



The Donno What Series


Hello hello fellow readers,

It gives me great pleasure to launch two other blogs:

donnowheretoeat
donnowhattoget

Donnowheretoeat already has its first blog up reviewing a Japanese Noodle House in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Donnowhattoget is still under construction but will be up and running once I get all my eggs in a row.

Enjoy browsing through and you'll have a gleeful time exploring this innovative baker has up her sleeves.

Launching the Donno What Series,
The Innovative Baker

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Penne with German Sausages, Brown Button Mushrooms and Rocket Leaves

I arrived Duesseldorf, Germany yesterday to begin a 5 week Work Placement with Messe Duesseldorf GmbH - the famous exhibition organisers for exhibitions like GDS - The Premier Shoe Event, Drupa - The largest Printing Exhibition and many others. I parked at my new abode, a chic studio apartment on the other side of the river, overlooking the Rhein River. 

The first thing I did after putting my bags was grocery shopping. Needless to say food is a very important aspect. So out I set and gathered much needed ingredients for my stay here. Came back all enthusiastic about the prospects of cooking, I forgot to check I did not have the following:


1.     A cooking spatula
2.     A chopping board
3.     A proper knife
4.     A non-stick frying pan
5.     A colander 


I had however pots in abundance, a substantial number of cutlery and probably crockery. So my first meal wasn't the most appetizing - sausages and eggs. But today, I set myself a task and became innovative. Using the tools I had, I was able to cook up Penne with German Sausages, Brown Button Mushrooms and Rocket Leaves.









What did I use to cut the ingredients? A steak knife that surprisingly was sharp. I used a dinner plate as the chopping board. I must say, with limitations, it did not hinder me from actually making a pretty decent dish that was full of flavour. The German Sausages needless to say added the flavour to the dish as it was already salty on its own. The oil that came out of frying the sausages allowed me to add flavor to the other ingredients.

So what are the ingredients?

A bowl              Penne
5                        German sausages – sliced into bite sized pieces
3 large               brown button mushrooms – sliced
A handful          Rocket leaves
A clove of         garlic
                          Salt and pepper to taste.

Method:
1.     First boil a pot of water with oil and salt for the penne. When water comes to boil, add in Penne. Test to see whether Penne is cooked and drain of water. Add in cold water to cool the cooking process.
2.     In another pot, heat up and add in vegetable oil. When oil is heated up, add in sausages to be fried. Halfway through, add in the garlic and later the mushrooms. Continue stir frying until mushrooms look slightly wilted. Add in penne and combine.
3.     Finally add in the Rocket Leaves and stir. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
4.     Serve hot. You can alternatively serve it cold like a pasta salad.
5.     But if you wish to serve as a warm salad, then fry the mushrooms and sausages separately. After tossing penne and rocket leaves together with some olive oil, salt and pepper, let it sit. Just before you serve, fry up the mushrooms and sausages together and serve on top of the pasta salad.

The beauty of pasta is that it acts as a replacement to noodles for us Asians. Germany is not utterly huge on oriental groceries and what you get are the normal ingredients like lemongrass and the occasional finding of Malaysian ingredients. Yet this does not allow many of us to cook Malaysian food. Then again, being Malaysian doesn’t mean that we need to only eat Malaysian food. 


Trust me, this dish was delightful. Simple yet fulfilling.


The alternative Asian in her,
The Innovative Baker


Curried Pork Belly with Carrots, Celery and Cherry Tomatoes






Curried Pork Belly with Carrots, Celery and Cherry Tomatoes

After having deviated a bit with food reviews and competitions, I have returned to posting up what I am supposed to be doing. Featuring simple recipes for singletons who have odds and ends in their kitchen. I am an avid at-home-chef and that explains my ever extremely exploding larder that includes curry powder, chilli powder, paprika, turmeric powder, fresh chillies, frozen chillies, dried chillies and the like.

This time around, I had the basic ingredients for a curry. Plus root vegetables that were not all that fitting for a curry but nonetheless, suited the situation for now. So what did I do? Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

Curry paste:
4 heaping tbsp                      curry powder for meat
2 heaping tbsp                      chilli powder
4 fresh                                  red chillies - sliced and deseeded
10 whole                              shallots - peeled
4 cloves                               garlic - peeled
a Thumb sized                      ginger - peeled and sliced smaller
3 stalks                                 lemon grass - outer leaves removed, use only the bottom half
                                            salt
                                            fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp                                  water

1 packet                               pork belly - sliced
6                                          carrots - chopped into bite size pieces - diced preferably but not too small
6 stalks                                 celery - chopped into bite size pieces
a whole packet of                 Cherry Tomatoes - halved
2 soup bowls                        water
A can                                   Coconut Milk
                                            salt
                                            pepper (if needed)

Method:

  1. First make the curry paste. Combine all ingredients into a blender. Blitz until it becomes a paste. 
  2. Heat up a sizeable pot and add in vegetable oil. When oil is heated up, add in curry paste. Fry the paste until you see a layer of oil surfacing. 
  3. Add in sliced pork belly and stir until meat is coated with the curry paste slowly sizzling with the heat.
  4. Add in the water. If you do not have soup bowls, just add in enough water to cover half the pot you are using. Not to the brim! This would mean spillage!!!
  5. Whilst meat is cooking, add in all the vegetables and let it brew. Make sure the curry is boiling before reducing the heat to let it simmer. Leave it simmering for about 30 minutes to reduce the water. Whilst simmering, make sure you stir off and on to avoid the curry from burning. (the timing is judged according to the size of pot you are using. So be sure to keep checking). 
  6. When water is reduced, add in coconut milk. Stir only for a bit until coconut milk has combined with curry and is brought to boil. If coconut milk is cooked way too long, the oil breaks and you would end up with a water curry.
  7. Remove from heat and serve! You can serve with rice or bread like what I did in the picture. 
Again, all the ingredients I had were at my disposal and there was no need for me to run out and buy any additional ingredients. I have yet to make a curry with parsnips though that may sound like a weird combination. If you don't have carrots or celery, you can alternatively add in potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and even butternut squash!

I did not want to make a superbly hot curry, so I omitted dried chillies from the paste. You can add in about 4 dried chillies to make it even more spicy. Be sure to soak them in hot water first before blitzing it with the paste.

So now you have a perfectly good curry to eat on your own or even to serve your friends.

Unleashing her Malaysian side,
The Innovative Baker


Iron Cup Cake Competition

When Kitchen Virgin's First Cupcake Competition was nearing (2 weeks ago), she was working hard. I must say her cupcake was divine!!!!









Chai Cupcakes with Cinnamon + Yoghurt Frosting

Kitchen Virgin has grown leaps and bounds and makes the most delicious cupcakes you can find. And this version was actually vegan. So all you vegans out there should try looking out for her and ask for a batch! Other cupcakes that were featured and were amongst my personal favourites (look wise):


















Whilst many looked really good, there were the simple looking ones that tasted decadent.










The winner was the spice girls!!!!!


More photos from the event can be found at The Iron Cup Cake London

I have been asked by Kitchen Virgin to also participate. I am still deciding. Yes or no? In any case, the world of cupcakes is overtaking the traditional cake...

Cupcakes galore around her,
The Innovative Baker

Friday, 13 November 2009

Chocolate Ganache!

In my blog about Chocolate Chip Cheese Cake, I linked my fellow baker, Kitchen Virgin, about her recipe version of Chocolate Ganache. So now I shall give you my version of it. Pictures are at the moment not available as I was busy making it and forgot to snap photos...shame of me for not doing so. But my second blog post Chocolate Fudge Cake in Different Variations displays how I used my chocolate ganache. So what exactly goes in a chocolate ganache?

Ingredients:

225gms                      plain / dark chocolate - broken into pieces
100gms                      butter - chopped into pieces
124ml                        single cream

Method:
  1. Prepare a Bain Marie - a small pot filled with some water brought to boil with a glass bowl placed on top. In the glass bowl, place butter and chocolate pieces in to be melted down. Stir until butter and chocolate have combined and is runny but not watery.
  2. Place glass bowl on kitchen work top and stir in single cream. You can also use double cream but be sure NOT to use the thickened version. Before adding cream, be sure to stir the cream to even out the consistency of it. Continue stirring until cream is blended into chocolate mixture. 
  3. Leave it to set. 
Now you have a to-die-for chocolate cream mixture that you would end up not wanting to waste. My flatmate's boyfriend ended up licking the bowl just because he did not want to see it go to waste. Well that goes the same with the cake batter as well.

TIP: do not over heat your chocolate mixture. To know whether it looks weird, you will see a layer of oil like substance appearing on the surface of the mixture. That's when you know you've over heated your mixture.

In the name of chocolate,
The Innovative Baker


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A meal with the STARS...not!

As some of you may know, I was in Duesseldorf, Germany for a few days working at the Occupational Safety and Health Exhibition A + A. Normally evenings are filled with dinners with clients but this time round I had dinners with colleagues. It was indeed a different scene altogether. So, this post would be about a restaurant set at the outskirts of the Duesseldorf old town called Basil's. It is an Italian themed restaurant with a dash of German and Turkish in it.


Apparently, this restaurant is patronised by the B and C Class celebrities of Germany. Something like to be seen and to be heard sort of environment. The restaurant's ambience in a whole was indeed dim like...giving the sense that you were not suppose to stare at your neighbours as you dine because they were 'important'. The prices were somewhat affordable with the cheapest on the main course being Euro 15.00 for a simple chicken fillet. I had the Pangasius Fillet (A type of fish) that has picked up popularity in recent years with crayfish and vegetables.





For my starters I had in traditional Autumn style, The Pumpkin Soup.


Both dishes without drinks were about Euro 21.00. The main course cost about Euro 16.50. Whilst the ambience was indeed bustling with activity, it is one of the many restaurants that allow smoking within its premises. So I ended up smelling like used smoke...hhahahahaha... that aside, the food was actually good. The fish was light to the taste and not fishy at all, with a good combination of crayfish and vegetables allowing the fish to stand out. The pumpkin soup was also delightful to the tastebuds. It was not thick with just the right consistency of pumpkin and spices. It was not too watery either making it an absolute joy to partake of.

So where exactly is Basil's? It is located at

Haroldstrasse 30
40213 Duesseldorf
Germany

As to whether I saw the stars? I wouldn't have the slightest clue as unlike England, I have not had the opportunity to watch German soap operas thus my inability to spot a German celebrity... in any case, go not because of the people but because of the food.

Eating her way around Germany,
The Innovative Baker

Sunday, 8 November 2009

English Tea anyone?

My friend Beattrice came a visiting and whilst we were out and about, she said she wanted to have something sweet to settle her growling tummy. So off we set to this well-known tea house called Richoux. It was indeed set in the scene of how old cafes looked like. In traditional english style, we ordered the Richoux Cream Tea. It comes with 4 scones, clotted cream, jam and a hot drink of choice. I ordered hot chocolate but was given cappucino. Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to savour scones on clotted cream.






The texture of scones was more bread like and were small, perfectly sized for tea. Not a fan of jam, neither was Beattrice, we practically devoured the clotted cream. Per order of the Richoux Cream Tea costs GBP8.25 inclusive of VAT. A tad more expensive then what you'd normally pay at a regular tea house, but Richoux does do justice to its name with its devine clotted cream.

How I came to know of Richoux was actually through JQ who recently came to visit me about 3 weeks ago now. Her friends and her met there whilst I was busy attending Raya open houses. She was raving about the clotted cream and by the time I got there, everything was cleaned off the plate. Must say something about the food right? There is also of course the traditional English Tea that comes with sandwiches, scones, a hot drink and other types of food ringing up the cashier at GBP16.50 but that was just about too much to eat for both of us.

In any case, Richoux is indeed very English, even to the service where you'd have to wait to be served and not wave your crazy hand in the air hoping to catch their attention. Perhaps being set in the very up market section of London does call for some air about you.




Note the fine print on the cup says it was established since 1909. So having had the opportunity to patronise such a long established tea house does give me the sense of britishness...hahahaha....

Anyway, for those who wish to visit the place, the link is all over this blog.

Devour your scones away,
The Innovative Baker


Friday, 6 November 2009

Pasta with Meatballs with an Asian Twist!

What's a food blog without pasta? I had all the ingredients to make it and so I decided to make pasta with meatballs. It would have probably looked better with spaghetti but heck, I make do with what pasta I have.




Pasta with Meatballs with an Asian Twist

Ingredients:

A bowl of            pasta (preferably a large soup bowl)

Meatballs:
250gms                mince meat - should be a combination of pork and beef
1 whole                red onion - cut roughly
1 tbsp                  chilli flakes
1 tbsp                  sesame oil
1 tsp                    corn starch
1 tsp                    freshly ground black pepper
A dash of            salt

Sauce:
A bottle of          chopped tomatoes (a can of the same is fine as well)
1 whole              yellow onion - diced
2 whole              peppers - diced
10 - 20 whole    cherry tomatoes - halved
3 stalks of          red chillies
1 tsp                  dried oregano (or to taste)
bunch of             fresh basil leaves - thinly sliced
                          salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. First, combine ingredients to make meatballs in a food processor. If you are taking meat out of the freezer, make sure you defrost the meat before adding it to the food processor. Blitz it till everything is combined. Roll the meat mixture into balls as above.
  2. Next start the fire and place a pot over with some olive oil. Add in diced yellow onions and salt. Stir until onions are sweaty and fragrant. Sweaty you say? Yes...it looks translucent and it looks like water is coming out of it. That's what sweaty means in terms of onions. Then add in the sliced red chillies, halved cherry tomatoes before adding in the meatballs. 
  3. Stir for a bit before adding in the chopped tomatoes and its juices into the pot. Add in the oregano and sliced basil leaves and stir in the mixture. Wait till it boils and then the fire down to let it simmer. Cover the pot and wait for the sauce to combine its flavours with the meat and tomatoes. Let is simmer for about 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Whilst sauce is simmering, prepare a separate pot with water to bring to boil. Add in salt and some olive oil. Once water is boiling, add in pasta of choice and let it cook. I normally test the density of the pasta by having a bite. The best is always al dente, and that means crunchy to the bite but not soft to a point that it looks like a pile of starch. Follow the instructions of the pasta packet if you don't know what al dente tastes and you'll be on your way to edible pasta. Drain the hot water and run the cooked pasta through cold water to stop the cooking process. Place the cooled down pasta back into the pot.
  5. Add in freshly grounded black pepper and chopped peppers into sauce and stir it in. Add in salt should it not be salty enough.
  6. Once pasta sauce is to taste, scoop a portion of pasta sauce onto pasta. Stir in pot first before serving it up. 
A normal bolognese sauce takes more than 4 hours to cook. Mine is the express version and takes about 30 to 45 minutes in total. It still gives me the same kick and this sauce has many variations from meatballs to beef slices. But, to appease my Italian friends I will have to state that in the world of pasta, except for Pasta Carbonara, there is no such thing as meat with pasta. It is normally served up plain like the aglio olio or with seafood. You would not find a pasta dish in Italy that contains meat. It is the concoction of other countries that gave birth to pasta with meat. Even with Pasta Carbonara, it only contains bits of bacon or pancetta, and even then they use it sparingly unlike us folk :)

And so, such pasta is best served piping hot with slices of french bread on the side of which I did not have. But in any case you are still welcome to serve it up however you may like it. The vegetables are interchangeable with courgettes, carrots and even celery to add some crunch to it. Omit the chillies if you're not a spice fan like me.

Hope it brings a smile to your face,
The Innovative Baker


Thursday, 5 November 2009

A hearty mushroom soup for a cozy London.

When a rainy day comes in London, a soup is always the best remedy. That and of course a good book, green tea and a comfortable blanket to cover yourself in. One of the soups I love making is the creamy mushroom soup. But as cream is quite heavy, I tend to only put in 1/2 of a 284ml bottle of single cream. 




Creamy Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

A bunch of                  assorted mushrooms - brown, white, shiitake, chinese if you will
3 stalks of                   celery - diced
4 - 5 medium sized      carrots - diced
1 large                        yellow onion - diced (if you don't have yellow, use red)
1 thumb sized              ginger - diced
3 cloves                      garlic - finely chopped
A bunch of                  fresh basil leaves - finely sliced
2 stalks of                   fresh rosemary - put in whole and to be removed later
1/2 a portion of           284ml bottle of single cream
3 large bowls of          water
                                  Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Firstly dice up all vegetables. You have the option of putting the onions, ginger and garlic in a food processor and zap them up to smaller pieces to quicken the process. But remember to roughly chop your ginger and onion as you don't want your food processor to go 'kaputt' before you can start using it.
  2. Heat up a sizeable pot and pour some olive oil*. When oil is heated up, add in blended ingredients. Once the aroma of the blended ingredients starts filling the air, add in the celery and carrots first. Reason being is both of these vegetables take longer to cook. Even though you might be boiling them at the end, cooking them first will help in quickening the cooking process.
  3. Next add in the mushrooms and continue stirring. Once you can see the mushrooms sweating, add in the water. Bring it to a boil before adding in the rosemary, fresh basil, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and let it simmer.
  4. Once you see all the vegetables have absorbed in the water and are soft to the touch, get your hand held blender ready or prepare your blender. Before you start blending the soup, remove the stalks of rosemary as the sticks do not break regardless of how long you cook it. Start blending after with the hand held blender and you will see the soup turn into pulp. If you don't own a hand held blender, you can use a blender. Be careful however when you use a blender. As the soup is hot, you will need to allow your blender jug (if made of glass) to cool down before you start cleaning it. Going back to blending it,  make sure you run it through blender for a good few minutes ensuring everything is fully reduced to a pulp. There is of course the possibility that you might miss a few bits here and there.
  5. Reboil the pulp before adding in the cream. Do not over boil the pulp as you might find yourself a discoloured soup. Turn the gas off and stir in the cream. Too much cream makes it heavy to finish a bowl, so just add in 1/2 of the bottle.
  6. Scoop up a portion and serve with freshly baked french bread or dinner rolls. 
You can buy semi baked french bread from the supermarket and continue the baking process at home. Remember to follow the instruction as you do not want to have a hard slice of bread. This recipe can serve up to 4 people in sizeable soup bowls. If you are a meat person, you can fry up some bacon and combine it into the soup before you blend it. Or alternatively add in the bacon slices and condiments. If you're serving this up for a dinner party, place the bacon slices in the centre of the soup and place a basil leave over the bacon slices.

I had a fantastic time devouring the soup. I'm sure you will too.

Love,
The Innovative Baker.

Guten Tag!


Guten Tag meine Damen und Herren,

in case you're wondering I have not been posting, I have been and am still away in Duesseldorf, Germany attending an exhibition for occupational, safety and health. Not all food related but it's what keeps money in my pocket and allow me to explore the culinary skills in London.

Will be posting up a food review or two and the means of cooking within a limited space.

In the meantime, enjoy yourselves whilst browsing through the blog.

Yours,
The Innovative Baker

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake!






Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Deserts are possibly my favourite concoction to entice people to have a bite or two. I was recently invited to a family get together lately and I was thinking what best to make. I have done the chocolate cake and orange cake way too often so I figured cheesecake would be good. I couldn't find a disposable cake tin big enough so instead of making a huge one I made cupcakes instead. The recipe is 100% the same except that it was transferred into cup cake tins rather than a huge cake tin.

Ingredients:

600gms             soft cheese - I used Marks & Spensers housebrand
(3 packets)        but the normal version would be Philadelphia Cheese.
3/4 cup             caster suger
1 cup (284ml)   double cream - bitten till soft peaks form
1 1/2 cups        chocolate shavings

Crust:
1 1/2 tubes       chocolate biscuits - remove cream in centre to add to
                        cheese mixture and stick biscuits into blitzer to become
                        crumbs
50gms              melted butter
50gms              melted plain chocolate

Decoration:
A portion         of chocolate ganache
sprinkling         of chocolate shavings

Method:

  1. Line the muffin tins with cupcake cups.
  2. Remove cream in centre of chocolate biscuits and toss whole biscuits into food processor. Once biscuits are made into crumbs, add in melted butter and chocolate into crumbs. Fold in making sure mixture is equally spread. Scoop about 3/4 tbsp into each cupcake cup and compress them onto bottom of cupcake cups. Freeze them.
  3. Beat double cream first and leave in fridge once soft peaks have formed.
  4. For cheese mixture, beat soft cheese until they are smooth, then add in sugar and continue beating. When sugar and cheese are combined, add in cream from biscuits and chocolate shavings. Fold in the double cream and ensure all ingredients are combined.
  5. Take out the muffin tins from the freezer and scoop cheese mixture into cupcake cups. Send them back to the freezer.
  6. To prepare chocolate ganache, you can refer to my fellow baker, Kitchen Virgin at 27 for the recipe First Customer. I have another recipe for chocolate ganache which I will post up when I have the time. Chocolate shavings are very easy. Simply run your knife down the sides of your chocolate bar and voila, you have chocolate shavings.
  7. Once cheesecake has formed or hardened, take out of freezer and let it sweat for a bit. Directly decorating it may not turn out as well as it should. After about an hour of sitting on the kitchen top, you can then experiment with your decorations. Below are two examples of what I did with the cheesecakes.






Now you have a perfectly sized cheesecake to serve per person. Be sure to remove the cups before serving.

Needless to say, the cheesecake mixture is just the basic mixture. You can take out the chocolate shavings and add in small cookies like the mini oreos or you can also add in the juice of a lemon to make it a lemon cheesecake. This would mean your biscuit base would change to digestive biscuits rather than chocolate ones but who cares. You can also add in alcohol to make it more appealing to the the alcoholic in you :)

I hope you had fun making it as did I. Always a favourite at parties. Now to start exploring making strawberry shortcakes!

Love,
The Innovative Baker.

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