Tags: recipes

Poke

French Onion Soup




I've been wanting to make French onion soup for the longest time simply because it's totally yummy and B.T loves it (loads). I've always had the perception that it is a very difficult soup to make. I started scouring the web for recipes, found one that sounded simple enough to follow. And then, as I mentioned before, my Dad started rambling on about actually making the beef broth from SCRATCH and I swear that I almost fainted there on the spot.

So let's put things into perspective. There is no denying the fact that broth made from boiling bones for a long time, extracting all that yummy goodness etc, would give the soup more punch. But my mantra for cooking has always been to find a simple enough recipe that wouldn't be complicated and can be easily replicated over and over again. As since the recipe that I chose called for simple ready made broth that yes, comes in a carton, I decided, heck.

Coincidentally, B.T was doing the beef sous vide and we had the leftover beef gravy which was flavorful and beefy. We kept it and threw it into the soup which I guess did contribute to the taste. Hence, we decided that if we want to make onion soup in future, it'll always have to be after we sous vide beef. We can then keep the beef gravy to dump into the soup :P

The recipe was great but I landed up heavily modifying it. I would say, I changed 50% of it. Firstly, we don't have a ceramic pot that is oven safe so we had to find an alternative way to brown the onions. Also, we don't have a broiler so we substitute by using a blow-torch to melt the cheese (you can put the remikins in the oven as well to melt it but then it's hard to remove from the oven as it'll be piping hot). Finally, you'll notice that the bread slices in my soup look thick. That was according to the recipe but I realized that she used a broiler so that was possible. I'll now use thin slices of baguette instead so that it soaks through better in the soup. Nonetheless, I would say the French onion soup was a success and it's simple to make. :)

♥ Help Japan recover

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Poke

Cocoa chewy brownies




TS calls me Martha Stewart because I've been on a roll and cooking weekend after weekend. I beg to differ! My mom thinks I have a natural flair for cooking but I think it all depends on what I am cooking. I don't think I'm too good when it comes to Asian style cuisine. I am still at the stage where I don't mind cooking for close friends and family but feel shy to bring it to the office for people to try it out or something!

Nonetheless, B.T so far has been enjoying my cooking and that's the most important thing to me! :P When I told him that I bought ingredients for the tomato soup, his immediate response was, With the cheese sticks as well? Arww. I didn't get the ingredients for those - next time baby. But it's really nice to watch him enjoy the food so I don't mind cooking weekend after weekend. I'm next aiming to attempt French onion soup and thin mints and maybe samoas (girl scout cookies!). Meanwhile, he had a special request for chewy brownies so I tried this recipe out.

Baking brownies is one of the simplest recipes to follow. You can't quite go wrong. It's just whether the brownies turn out to what you expect it to be. I don't like my brownies to be too sweet so I reduced the sugar by quite a bit. The batter turned out really sticky which does translate to 'chewy' brownies I guess. However, I made a slight error by leaving it few minutes too long so I'm not quite sure if it's the type of 'chewy' brownies that he fancies!

Anyway, if you want an easy brownie recipes, this works. You can serve it warm with ice cream (vanilla works the best) or even spread the top with a layer of Nutella. Mmmmm.

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Poke

Happy Valentine's Day - Chocolate cookies




Happy Valentine's Day beautiful people! Regardless of whether you celebrate it or don't (we don't exactly and I just cooked dinner for him on Saturday and baked some cookies yesterday).


I used to love baking a lot. It was an almost weekly affair in junior college as I was churning out jars and jars of cookies of all kinds. My family literally got sick of eating them :P Right now, I sort of prefer to cook non-desserts. Desserts are fun once in awhile but it's not something to eat all of the time.

I started craving for a particular type of chocolate biscuit last week. For those who are familiar with Four Leaves' cookies, I used to buy the rectangular chocolate cookies that came in stacks of 5-6 in a clear plastic wrapping. Does anyone know what I'm referring to? Well, I had a sudden craving for those and chanced upon a recipe that sounded like it would turn out just like those. So I decided to make them.

The idea was to use cardboard letter stencils so place over the baked biscuits and sift icing sugar over so that you'll get icing letters forming a message such as 'HUGS','KISSES', 'I LOVE YOU' etc, all in the fun of Valentine's Day. The cookies turned out I would say 50% succcessful -

1) I was too lazy to make cardboard stencils so I bought puffy minatures stickers from Paper Market planning to use them as stencils. As they were tiny (though extremely adorable), it made the icing stenciling process, VERY DIFFICULT.

2) I forgot that I didn't own any cookie cutter so a last minute trip to the nearby departmental store proved half-successful as I bought a heart-shaped uh metal shape for making sunny side ups (in the shape of hearts). Cookies turned out HUGE.

3) Recipe called for 2 sticks of butter or 1 cup. I roughly filled the measuring cup with '1 cup' but forgot that there were many spaces around the side so I believed the butter used was less than required and the cookies were slightly dry.

4) Baking using a toaster oven can be tricky as the maximum temperature goes up to only 250 degrees celsius.

I was slightly disappointed with the way the cookies turned out but B.T said he was still happy with the thoughtful gesture. We decided to spread nutella onto the mini hearts (made using my silicon cookie mould because I ran out of baking tray space for the gigantic hearts) and we left them in the fridge. Funny thing was, we both had some this morning and agreed that keeping the slightly dry biscuits in the fridge, uncovered, made them moist. And they are quite yummy now!

Thought I'll still share the recipe because it's still a fun recipe and if anyone tries it, do let me know how it turns out!

::::: EDITED :::::
After we refridgerated the cookies, they tasted even better the next day and the next!!! It's really yummy right now! I think adding more butter might do the trick or simply just leave them uncovered/boxed, in the fridge.


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Poke

Flaky cheese twisters




I tried my hand at baking bread when I was 17. I did it from scratch meaning I had to use smelly yeast, allow it to rise etc etc. It turned out successfully. It was orange bread and it was good but it was time consuming so I did it one or two more times and stopped. It's truly fresh bread at its best though! To bake bread from scratch (sorry, I don't consider baking bread using a bread machine baking bread because the machine does it all for you and there are pre-mixed packs around!) is fulfilling but it needs a lot of patience. I don't know many that do it these days except bakeries of course. The bread machine has made it a lot more convenient and it does serve the purpose but like I said, you can't exactly call it baking because it's almost idiot proof.

We usually eat our soups with just regular bread or baguettes or Meiji salted crackers. I decided to make bread sticks but that was more complicated so I decided on cheese straws which uses frozen puff pastry. Ironically, as I didn't have a rolling pin, it took me a much longer time to make these cheese straws than the soup. It was also a bit of a trial and error and figuring out whether I was doing it right as it was the first time working with puff pastry.

Few things I learnt about puff pastry. The frozen sheets cost more but well, it saves a lot of time - you don't need to thaw and roll it out. You can use it as it is. I bought a block because it was cheaper but obviously needs more work. I got overly enthusiastic in dusting my counter top with flour. Don't do that. Flour sticks onto the puff pastry and after some time, it almost forms a crusty flour layer which can't be removed! So lightly dust the board as the recipe instructs. Doh.

Finally, depending on the brand or type of puff pastry that you buy, the baking time varies and also depending on your oven. All I have is an oven toaster but it's amazing on what I've cooked with that tiny thing! SO watch the puff sticks when you are baking or toasting it as once the cheese burns, it's almost game over. Oh and one more thing. You can decide how long you want the straws to be. I'll make them half the length in future. It's easier to handle and eat but the baking time will naturally have to be reduced - larger exposed surface area to volume ratio. It's like how smaller chunks of meat cook faster than larger chunks.

The flaky cheese straws turned out, indeed, flaky. Went perfectly well with the tangy tomato soup and the saltiness of the cheese added a great punch to the meal. It's extremely flaky as puff pastries are made mostly of butter (yes, it's calorie laden and not something to cook all the time!). I think it's best eaten right away though you can keep it for a day or two in an air tight container and re-toast them when you want to eat it again.

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Shabu Shabu

Sherried Tomato Soup




On Friday, I had a sudden inspiration to cook up a couple of new dishes over the weekend. Also, though I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day, I decided to cook dinner for B.T since it's been awhile. Cooked up two dishes - first attempt! last evening and will be doing another one today!

I have a penchant for good soups. The types served at Soup Spoon - thick and creamy, chock-full of ingredients, a lot of texture and good enough as a meal (together with chunky bread or bread sticks). I've successfully done butternut squash soup and mushroom soup and have been wanting to experiment on more. Decided to try out a tomato soup and next up, french onion soup!

The tomato soup turned out to be the easiest to make and the secret behind the amazing taste is the addition of cooking sherry! The moment you add in the sherry, the aroma is friggin' amazing! I love how the chunks of diced tomatoes add great texture and ooomph to the soup and it's a soup that isn't as heavy as a mushroom creamed soup and has a lovely sweetish sour, tangy taste to it. I'm definitely going to cook this again!

As usual, I'll edit the recipe and tweak it - the fun part of cooking!

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Ah Wee

Hosting




One of my buddies and his fiancee came over the weekend for a really casual dinner. It was a bit of an impromptu affair so we didn't go all elaborate. B.T made the pasta while I tried out a new mushroom soup recipe! At first I almost freaked out when the soup turned out all watery and decided to thicken it with flour. I forgot that if you leave it aside for awhile, it will actually thicken on its own. Anyway, it turned out great though I think the butternut squash soup was better! At least, we have an alternative.

I've written down the recipe for the mushroom soup below the cut :)

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Poke

The first house-warming at The Studio




It was an impromptu decision to have my family over for the official first house warming of the house. It was B.T who suggested it and he felt that the house was definitely complete right now - previously, he didn't want anyone over until everything was done! He wanted to at least invite my folks over before we left for HK so we picked a day and we started thinking of the menu for dinner and preparing 2 days before.

We were kinda nervous. We both cook on a regular basis and specialize in different types of dishes but this was our first dinner party and cooking for 6 people is quite different. When The Studio was being renovated, he said that he'll leave it to me to decide on the decorations of the house and was hesitant to change the crockery but now sees how nicely everything ties in. For the dinner menu, I decided on it and they were all dishes that we had never done before (except for the butternut squash soup trial that we did).

Everyone loves the final product of the place - big yay and amazed at how the place has transformed and in fact looks bigger than before. We broke out the new candles, the lighting was warm and dim and B.T was happily demonstrating his new entertainment system. It helped that I did a lot of the preparations for the food the night before so it turned out to be rather relaxing when we cooked except the brief moment when he accidentally burned a little of the soup but it turned out fine. The soup was tasty but we didn't add enough stock so it was more of a puree paste than a soup :P

I was afraid that the attempt to bake the pavlova would be a flop but thankfully it all worked out and I'm very happy with the results. B.T loved it as well and we were surprised at how easy it was to make. The fact that we don't have a proper oven - just an oven toaster, I did estimations on the baking time. Also, we used a regular baking tin instead of a swiss roll tin so the meringue roll wasn't exactly a roll - actually I've no idea how the final product is meant to look like as the recipe came without pictures! The salad turned out fab too and we'll probably be repeating some of these for the next couple of dinner parties to come!

I am really happy that my family loves the place and enjoyed the dinner. The best part is seeing everyone enjoying the food - except that I didn't know that my BIL doesn't eat mangoes or salads but he loved the meringue. And Mudder who text-ed me in the early morning just to tell me that she was really impressed with my culinary skills and the dessert which she loved. Yay! Now I just hope that it isn't beginner's luck and the next few attempts will be even better :P

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Poke

Butternut squash soup




I think I've found the perfect recipe for homemade butternut squash soup! I'm not going to eat this at Soup Spoon now :P All thanks to one of my friends who cooked this at the Thanksgiving dinner and it was so good, I asked for the recipe right away.

My family are coming over this week to The Studio for the first official 'house-warming'. It was a last minute decision and we scrambled to figure out what to prepare.

The menu is quite simple and as for now, we are preparing grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon, grapefruit and avocado salad, buttersquash soup and a pavlova which might fail since we don't have a proper oven BUT, I have a backup :P That is marshmallows dipped in melted milk chocolate rolled in rainbow sprinkles and speared with a chocolate coated, crushed almonds Pocky stick.

We made butternut squash soup for the first time and it was such a success! It's thick and really tasty! So I'm sharing the recipe here. I made some modifications so it's not the original recipe and basically, it's a taste as you go recipe!

Butternut squash soup with sun-dried tomato puree - (makes 6-8 servings if it's served as an appetizer and serves 2 if it's meant to be the main meal)

3/4-1 butternut squash (depending on how large it is)
Sun-dried tomatoes pesto
1 stalk of celery (large)
1 small carrot (again, depending on how large it is)
1/4 large onion or 1/2 a small onion (white type)
1.5 cups of chicken stock (we used a Knorr cube dissolved in a litre of water)
1/4 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon curry powder (I didn't measure this actually and just sprinkled whatever I wanted)
Dried thyme/fresh thyme
Olive oil
Black pepper
Salt

1) Halve the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds and place cut side up on a baking tray.

2) Season with salt, pepper and thyme and drizzle with olive oil.

3) Bake squash in pre-heated oven at 108 degrees C (we just used the oven toaster!) and bake till it's soft and slightly brown.

4) Dice celery, carrots and onions and in a large pot, stir fry the vegetables till they sweat.

5) Scoop out the flesh of the squash and add into the pot. The squash should be soft enough to be mashed up easily. Mash up the squash while frying it with the rest of the veggies.

6) Add the chicken stock gradually, stir and bring to a boil. Don't add too much and you might not require all of the stock. It depends on how you would like the consistency to be. I like it thick and I used less than the recipe called for.

7) Add the curry powder and if required, more salt and pepper.

8) Puree the mixture till it's smooth and add the cream.

9) Serve with a dollop of tomato pesto.






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greedy

Cinnamon french toast


Wholewheat cinnamon french toast dusted with powdered sugar :) Mmmmm


Taking a break from pancakes, we decided to whip up some french toast!

3 small eggs
6 slices of refrigerated wholewheat bread - sliced into triangles
6 tbspn of soy milk
3 tspn of cinnamon powder
1 tspn of sugar

It's really easy -

Soak the slices in the mixture of eggs, cinnamon powder, sugar and soy milk. Pan-fry in a skillet with a few chunks of butter till golden brown. Before serving, sift over a mixture of icing sugar and cinnamon. Top with maple syrup. Viola :)






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