This is one of the recipes I hae learnt recently in a shortcrust pastry baking course in June. Held over 5 days from 8-2pm, I learnt Apple Cranberry Pie, Flan Parisian, Tarte Normande, Tarte Bourdaloue and Quiche Lorraine... the latter two were the ones that brought me to my knees (with all that butter and cream!). I devoured with my family as soon as I brought them home.
Tarte Bourdaloue is a classic pear and almond tart and originates from Paris in 1906. I omitted the pears this time I didn't have any preserved pears at home. So what resulted was an Almond Cream Tart which is equally delicious. Don't be alarmed by the number of ingredients and steps. What results is a beautiful decadent tart which you can enjoy for days :)
I will make the classic Tarte Bourdaloue in one of the future blog posts.
Ingredients (yields a 8inch round tart)
200gm plain flour
100gm unsalted butter
2gm vanilla essence
Almond Cream Filling
60gm softened butter
60gm ground almond
10gm plain flour
2 gm vanilla essence
1 cup almond flakes/almond slivers
40gm Apricot glaze (for the shine - optional)
1) First and foremost, cut the butter into cubes, put them in a small bowl and place them in the freezer. I can't emphasize how important it is that the butter is ice cold. It can't be soft as then it would affect the pastry dough texture. It will not hold itself well and will crack easily in the later stages.So, please please make sure the butter is hard and frozen.
Sieve the plain flour, sugar and salt.. After sifting, put these ingredients into a mixing bowl.
2) Now, take out the hard cubes of butter from the freezer and place them into the mixing bowl with the flour mixture. Use a plastic scrapper for 5 mins to break the butter into the flour.
3) Working very quickly so that the dough still remains cold, use your finger tips to get a flaky dough texture like glass shards.
4) Mix the egg, ice water and vanilla essence in a another small bowl pour this mix into the butter dough.
5) Knead the entire mix quickly into a ball. Don't over knead.
6) Using your cleaned kitchen counter or a pastry mat, sprinkle a little flour (don't use too much flour - this will result in a hard dough) and crush the dough little by little using the heels of your palm. This is called fraisaging.
7) Continue fraisaging until all the dough is used up.
8) Again, working very quickly, join the fraisaged dough pieces into a round lump. then wrap in cling wrap. Keep it in a chiller for 20mins.
9) At this juncture, preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Start preparing the almond cream. Cream (beat with a wooden spoon) the softened butter by hand for a few minutes. Sieve the flour, ground almonds and sugar and then add this to the creamed butter. Cream again for another 2 mins. Mix the beaten egg and vanilla essence in a small bowl.. then add a little at a time (like 1/3 at a time). Mix well till well combined. Set aside in a cool place.
10) Take the chilled dough after 20 mins and roll it out on a slightly floured surface. It shouldn't be too thick and should be big enough to fit into a 8 inch tart ring or pan.
11) Butter the ring or a tart pan. Then place the rolled out flat dough into the ring gently and carefully. Smooth the dough into the ring and press along the edges. Trim off any extra dough using a rollling pin to go over the top of the ring. If there are holes or parts where the dough has been stretched out too thin, patch it up with small pieces of dough.
12) Pour in the almond cream and spread it out evenly.
13) Top with almond slivers/flakes.
14) If there is any extra dough and almond cream, make mini versions of this almond cream tart.
15) Pop the big tart and the mini ones into the oven for 25-35 mins till the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool down for 10mins. If you are using the apricot glaze, warm the glaze in a small pot till it reaches jam consistency. Then, brush over the tart. Enjoy delicious Almond Cream Tart!
My sister's husband Shahid was kind and generous to order for my family a crate of sweet Pakistani Chaunsa mangoes recently. Chaunsa mangoes are exceptionally sweet, succulent, almost fibreless and emit a wonderful sweet fragrance. They are commonly called the 'King of Mangoes'. What better way to use so many of them (there were 8!) then to use them in a refreshing smoothie perfect for hot summer days? Simple and quick and so so refreshing. I didn't add any water as I wanted it to be thick and creamy as a dessert.
Ingredients (yields 3-4 ice cream cups)
400gm Mango pulp (roughly 2 large ripe mangoes)
300gm plain yoghurt
30gm brown sugar
8-12 ice cubes
2 tbsp chopped pistachios for garnish
1) Get all the ingredients ready.
2) Blend all the ingredients (except the chopped pistachios) till they are all well incorporated and till you get a thick creamy smoothie. Chill further, garnish just before serving and enjoy!
Dates are in season again as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is upon us. Fasting is mandatory in Islam for all Muslims and we must not eat or drink (not even a sip of water) from sunrise to sunset. It is certainly a very testing month of our faith for all Muslims but we somehow manage and soon the 30 days get over and we get back to our regular eating. Dates are always eaten when breaking the fast at sunset because dates are highly nutritious (dates are very rich in iron, manganese, potassium and copper). It is recommended to eat 2-3 dates when breaking fast because dates provide the body with natural sugar, helping to restore the low blood sugar after fasting all day. And it helps to kickstart the digestive process.
So, I happen to be in a supermarket the other day and was thrilled to see boxes and boxes of dates displayed all ready for the approaching fasting month. I quickly grabbed two boxes and brought them home only to have my husband requesting a loaf/bread/cake or bars using the dates. You see, its always a challenge to please my husband's taste buds when it comes to confectionaries because he is so particular about the usage of butter, sugar and eggs. So whatever recipe I come across online, I have to tweak it to replace the butter (for this recipe I used coconut oil), eggs and reduce or sometimes completely omit the sugar. And I am not always successful.
The following recipe gives a no-butter no-egg Date and Walnut Oatmeal Crumble - essentially a date and nut filling sandwiched between two layers of crispy crumb mixture.
Ingredients (Yields around 18 crumbled squares)
For the Crumb Base and Topping
1 3/4 cups rolled oats (or even fruit-free muesli)
1/2 cup brown granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup coconut oil
For the Date Filling
250 gm dates
1/4 cup brown granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup grated white coconut
1) Firstly, you have to pit and chop the dates into small pieces. This is the most time consuming step of this whole recipe.
2) Then, place the chopped dates, water and brown sugar into a small pot. Boil till the dates become soft and mushy. This will take roughly 5 mins on low heat. You can mash the date mix to speed up the process.
3) Then, add in the chopped walnuts, grated coconut, vanilla and coconut oil and give it a good mix.
4) Switch off and let this date mixture cool.
5) Take a medium sized mixing bowl and add all the ingredients - plain flour, rolled oats or fruit free muesli, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and coconut oil. Mix it well and divide into 2 portions.
6) Spread out half the crumb mixture into a greased 10inch by 6inch glass baking dash.
7) This will be followed by the date filling. Use your fingers, to spread it out evenly, if you need to. That's exactly what I did!
8) Top off with the remaining crumb mixture and spread it out evenly.
9) The side view.
10) Bake in a preheated oven for 30-45 mins at 180 deg C or 350 deg F. Once baked, let it cool down bwfore slicing the block into squares.
11) It wasn't easy to cut into perfect squares because of the sticky date filling but they tasted so delicious! The sweet filling complemented the not-so sweet crumb mixture very well.
When my girls were much younger and were studying in a local elementary school in the East of Singapore, I would volunteer on a weekly basis to keep the kids gainfully occupied while the teachers were engaged in their staff meeting. Occasionally, we would hold meetings related to th volunteering within the school and food was always brought in. One of the parent volunteers, Niza, made an amazing bread pudding that I can't replicate even till today. Attempts to obtain her recipe were always met with vague answers and that she would bring the recipe the following week. I guess when you have an absolutely delicious out of the world recipe, you wouldn't want to share it with friends you don't know so well.
Perfectly understandable but something I wouldn't do. I share my recipes with everyone. I believe that everyone brings a different, their own unique touch to the food they make and it never turns out exactly the way the original cook makes it. For example, let's take my own recipe below. Some may make it full fat, some may use blueberry bread instead of the stipulated banana walnut bread. You get my gist? So go on and share your recipes with everyone. You'll make that person's day! And the fact that someone actually asked for your recipe is a compliment and vouches for your culinary skills. What a boost to your ego :)
For those who may not know, bread pudding is essentially a bread based dessert. It is popular in many countries around the world. Bread Pudding uses stale bread pieces spread with butter and then soaked in a sweet creamy egg mixture and then baked till the custard sets and the top is a glorious golden brown. One of the easiest desserts to prepare and it can be both sweet or savory. Interesting fact - Bread Puddings were first found in a published recipe book in UK dated 1728. We are looking at a close to 300 year old recipe!
Many recipes online use actual bananas and walnuts for their Banana Walnut Bread Pudding. I needed a quick and easy recipe so I used the slices of a Banana Walnut bread loaf, instead. Such an easy fool proof way to bake the perfect Banana Walnut Bread Puddng. It tasted heavenly, by the way :) And look out for the wholemeal version. Couldn't resist not topping off with more walnuts, though!
Ingredients ( Yields 8 big square chunks)
1) First butter a 10 by 6 inch rectangle glass baking dish.
2) Then cut the bread slices into 4 triangles each and butter both sides.
3) Arrange them into the baking dish in an alternate fashion, till all the pieces are used.
4) Preheat the oven now at 180 deg C or 350 deg F. Then beat the eggs lightly with an electric beater.
5) Add the sugar and keep on beating till all the sugar has dissolved around 5 mins.
6) Now, you will add the cinnamon powder, vanilla essence, cream and skim milk. Whisk everything till all are mixed well.
7) Pour this egg cream mix into the baking dish with the prepared bread slices. Bread slices will start to float, so gently press them down with a spoon. Set aside for 10 mins.
8) Top with the chopped walnuts.
9) Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40-45 mins or till the top is golden brown.
10) Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an added indulgence.
Imagine cheecakes in bite size? The idea for this came from a request from my daughter Riya who requested for an Oreo Cheesecake (after watching videos on Youtube) and I had a tea gathering to attend yesterday (4 Apr) at a friend's place and I wanted to bring something bite-sized.
I had a fabulous hilarious time catching up with this fun group of ladies. We met eons ago through our parent volunteer group while our kids were in Temasek Primary School - an elementary school in the east of Singapore. Our kids have long graduated and have gone on different ways but our friendship is still growing. Some of us haven't met up with others for a while but we didn't take long to warm up to each other again.
Like what Saras, our host, quipped 'If one treasures a relationship, no matter what, it cannot break. All it takes is a hug and coffee'. Well said dear.
So, coming back to the recipe, this is a rather simple cheesecake recipe involving baking. I like the base which has crushed Oreo biscuits and Pretzels. Why Pretzels? The filling has condensed milk which can be very sweet for some. The addition of the Pretzels gave a nice balance to the overall taste - it turned out salty sweet chocolatey and creamy. If you find the base rather dry add a bit more butter to the recipe below (10gm more). Cheesecakes can sometimes be quite big a slice and over filling to the point of one gasping for breath and going 'Enough! There isn't any space left in my tummy!' However, the size of these cheesecakes, being mini, is ideal for tea parties and post dinner desserts when you have had just too much to devour and you just want something sweet to complete your meal!
I have used a mixture of Ricotta and Cream Cheese in the filling. Ricotta is not technically a cheese as it is actually from whey, a by product of cheese making. It has a solid texture compared to cream cheese and must be beaten well to ensure all the lumps are smoothened out well to use in the cheesecake recipe. I have used Ricotta in baked pasta dishes but this is the first time I have used it in a dessert. I loved the mix - in fact I was spooning and gulping down the remaining batter mix!! Yum.
Ingredients (for 24 mini chesecakes)
For the biscuit pretzel base
100gm Oreo biscuits (18 biscuits) (Split and filling removed. Keep the filling)
50 gm Pretzels
70 gm unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
1 cup ricotta cheese
250gm cream cheese
1 cup condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, extra for decorating
24 hole Mini Muffin Non Stick Pan
1)Start preparing the mini muffin pan by greasing it with a brush of butter. This ensures that the cheesecakes do not stick to the muffin pan base.
2) Process the Oreo biscuits and Pretzels in a food pocessor or a blender. It will be time consuming if you try to crush them using a rolling pin and you will not get a fine texture that is required. Mix in the melted butter.
3) Press the crumb base mixture into the 24 holes of the mini muffin pan. Use the end of a rolling pin - it works out really well then using a spoon. Leave the pan aside while you prepare the filling.
4) Preheat the oven to 170 deg C or 325 deg F. Whisk the Ricotta and cream cheese well, then add in the orea filling, condensed milk, beaten eggs and vanilla bean paste. Whisk until smooth and until there are no more lumps.
5) Add in the choc chips in the end.
6) Spoon the prepared batter mix into the greased holes of the mini muffin pan. The cheesecakes expand a little so don't over pour. You may have some remaining mix. (Go on take a spoon and taste it. Your knees would buckle, I promise!)
7) Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins max. The sides will be set and the middle will be slightly wobbly. Remove from oven and quickly top a few choc chips so that they melt in the warm cheesecakes. Leave them to cool. Once cool, scoop them out from muffin pans and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours before serving.
8) Enjoy a little bite of sweet chocolate cheese heaven!
Cheesecakes are a favourite dessert for a lot of people, including me. I like them plainly classic or with blueberries. My first introduction to cheesecake was around 15 years ago when my then neighbour Malar ( and always a close friend) had requested her husband, Nathan, to get the famous New York Cheesecake for me. It was creamy, light and so heavenly. I was hooked. Then, I remember years ago we had a small birthday celebration for a friend ( for those who hv read my earlier blog posts - it was for Supermom actually) who had just turned 40 at a Cheesecake Cafe near our house in the East of Singapore. It was a beautifully decorated cafe - very Victorian with fountains and statues. And of course, the cheesecakes were to die for!! When I returned from America 2 years ago, I found out, with much dismay, that it had closed down. Now, where would I get my cheesecake fix?
I came across some fun facts about our fav dessert... Did you know that the first cheesecakes may have been created in the Greek island of Samos? There were considered to be a good source of energy and were served to athletes in the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. Instead of all the complicated recipes of today - they just used flour, wheat, honey and cheese! Then, the Romans conquered Greece and modified the recipe to include eggs, cooked it over a hot brick and served it warm. They brought this modified Cheesecake recipe to Europe. The version we see today was not created till the 18th Century and adding cream cheese was an American addition to the cake.
Enough history. Having a no bake simple cheesecake recipe on hand will always prove useful. Using very few ingredients and inolving no baking, you can come up with this dessert in no time. This particular version is rather unique in that the base has a crunchy bite because of the addition of demerara sugar and the whole cheesecake comes together quite tastefully. On the other hand, if you prefer a sugarless base (I understand, there is enough sugar in the cheesecake filling), do it without the demerara. I have used a flat 10 inch pie pan which gave me rather thin slices but if you prefer a higher thicker cheesecake, do use a pie pan or a sprinform pan with a smaller diameter (8 inches). I promise - this is a keeper! :)
Ingredients (for 8 thin slices)
100gm Digestive biscuits, crushed to fine crumbs
50gm demerara sugar (optional)
50gm butter, melted
150gm icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
500gm Philadelphia cream cheese (2 blocks)
200ml Creme Fraiche (or double cream)
1) First, line your pie pan or springform pan with baking paper. This helps to lift the cheesecake from the sides easily.
2) Get the melted butter and crushed digestive biscuits ready and place them in a mixing bowl. If you are using demerara sugar, add now. Mix everything well.
3) Then, spread it out onto the prepared pie pan and flatten it out using the back of a metal spoon or a palette knife. Refrigerate in the freezer section for an hour.
4) Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Get the ingredients ready. From the top, block cream cheese, creme fraiche, vanilla essence and icing sugar.
5) Do note that the actual filling prepration should only be done half an hour before the time to take out the chilled base from the freezer. Whisk the icing sugar, vanilla essence and cream cheese first. Then whip the cream fraiche/double cream seperately and add it to the icing sugar mix. Fold it in using a wooden spoon, mixing well.
6) After an hour, take the chilled base from the freezer and spread the cream cheese filling onto it and even it out. Make sure there are no air bubbles. Chill for another hour in the freezer and its ready to be served.
7) Cut into desired number of slices and enjoy! If you are serving this in a party, keep bowls of blueberries or raspberries in sauce nearby so your guests can have it plain or with fruit on top.
Brownies are on everybody's list of favourite snacks, favourite desserts etc. I have a family recipe which I have been using for years involving a whole load of butter and eggs, which I am not too fond of. I remembered Michelle Obama advocating applesauce instead of butter in her bid to reduce obesity in America. Surfing through the internet for a healthier brownie recipe but which doesn't alter its taste too much, I came across a few using applesauce and even sour cream (instead of butter)!... interest piqued, I tried them out but wasn't too happy with some of the ingredients. What follows is a modified combined version of a few recipes :
Ingredients (yields 16 -20 squares)
2. Get all the ingredients ready.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and set aside.
4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together apple sauce, brown sugar, sour cream, melted chocolate, eggs and oil until well combined.
5. Add the flour mixture and stir until just lightly mixed.
6. Spread batter into the pan and sprinkle the chopped almonds and chocolate chunks. Bake until a wooden skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs - around 30-35 minutes. Its your call here, use your own judgement.
7. Let the brownie cool completely in the pan, Lift brownie using the paper overhang. Discard the paper and cut into squares. Enjoy guilt-free brownie squares on their own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
I attempted to make modaks (or steamed rice dumplings with sweetened coconut filling) for the very first time for Vinayagar (elephant god)'s birthday which fell on Sep 5th this year. I am a Muslim who has married a Hindu. I try to follow some of the Hindu festivals to my best ability. Anand, my husband, was specially pleased that I made that effort to make Vinayagar's birthday special this year.
I specially decided to do it with love and dedication and prayed to Vinayagar for guidance and success. Modaks are Vinayagar's favourite sweets thus Hindus all over the world make them as an offering to him. Remember that if you are making Modaks as an offering, refrain from tasting them during the cooking process. It is traditional to serve to Vinayagar first before having your first bite.
Ingredients (for 12-14 modaks)
For the dumplings
1 cup rice flour
1.5 cups water
1 tsp oil
a pinch of salt
For the filling
1 cup fresh grated coconut
3/4 cup grated jaggery
seeds of 3 -4 cardomaoms, pounded coarsely
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp rice flour in the end (to absorb moisture should the filling still be wet)
1)To make the filling, heat the oil and roast the pounded cardamom seeds.
2) Add the grated jaggery and let it melt in the heat.
3) This will be followed by the grated coconut.
4) Mix well and let it cook till the mixture dries up
5) Let this cool on the side.
6) To make the dumpling, heat the water, oil and salt in a small pot.
7) When the water comes to a rolling ball, add in the rice flour and quickly mix till it forms a lump. Cover and remove from heat.
8) Let it cool for 5 mins.
To make the modaks, follow these steps...
9) After 5 mins, knead the dough and roll into 14 balls. Be careful as the dough will still be hot.
10) Then, flatten each ball into a hollow disc. Put in the filling and start pinching at the sides till 6 grooves are formed.
11) Join these grooves at the top. Make all the other balls the same way. Do note that the rice dough will be sticky. Either oil your fingers or use rice flour to coat your fingers. My mom has heard that adding a bit of milk to the dough helps.
12) Steam the modaks for 12-15 mins. In the meantime, make the kolam (floor designs using rice flour) outside your front door.
13) Serve the modaks to Vinayagar.
I don't often make fruit cakes. Somehow something always goes wrong - either the mixed fruit just sinks to the bottom or the cake crumbles easily. My husband, Anand, had requested me to make a fruit cake while he was in Beijing last week. It is often a challenge to make fruit cakes (or any cake) for him as he isn't fond of butter and whole egge.
Just the other day, he was commenting on how he had lost the taste for egg yolks after coming to Singapore. He finds the eggs here in Singapore have a very strong egg smell. It can be overpowering for someone who is very conscious of the smell. Even I who is someone who has grown up in Singapore find certain eggs very eggy. Fortunately, I have discovered a certain brand which doesn't seem to have that strong a smell.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand, I used to find it difficult to make eggs rise without any eggs and butter. Recently, Anand seemed to have bend the rules regarding eggs! So after a very long time, I baked a cake for Anand with eggs and butter in it. Anand found the butter flavor a tad too strong - my next try - to mix half the butter with sunflower oil. Let's see how that goes. But overall, I found the cake quite nice - not too sweet and light fruit cake flavor. Best part- it is so easy to put together. No soaking of the fruits overnight, no beating of butter and sugar...boil and mix everything, that's it!
Ingredients (makes one 20 cm square cake)
Egg & Coconut Milk Pudding or Vatlappam is a traditional sweet treat served during our Muslim festivals in my family. It is served with thin crepes of rice flour called Appams. It is a high protein dessert and it is quite delicious even on its own. This dessert is very popular among ethnic Sri Lankan. It is traditionally made with egg, coconut milk, jaggery (palm sugar),cashew nuts and then flavored with cardamoms and cloves.
Originating from Sri Lanka in the 1900s, it became quite popular among the Tamil Muslims of Tamil Nadu, India. It became a must have dessert in most religious festival days and during other celebrations.
Ingredients ( Makes a 5 inch round pudding)
4 eggs beaten and then sieved
3/4 cup sugar
1 and half tbsp roasted gram
15 -20 cashewnuts
100 ml coconut milk
1 tsp Vanilla essence
3/4 tsp salt
Raisins and Saffron strands for decoration
Prepare a 5 inch round baking tin or a metal container by applying a little butter on the bottom and the sides.
Soak the roasted gram, cashewnuts and cardamoms in hot water for 2-3 hrs.
Drain and then grind the cardamom seeds only (discard the pods), cashewnuts and roasted gram.
Mix the rest of the ingredients (except the saffron strands and raisins) with this ground mixture.
Beat well and pour into the prepared baking tin or metal container. Garnish with saffron strands and raisins.
Steam for 45 mins.
Hi guys! I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.