Vanilla Meringue

Vanilla meringueFrench meringue, one of the easiest meringue you could make in no time, this is my version of mini meringue that melts in your mouth. Only three ingredient, you could have a jar of this to keep in cupboard for a week. In my case, it won’t even last for a week, should be gone in third day. Meringue and macaroon is a very similar however macaroon involved many steps and preparation. Macaroon, always gave an impression that it was one of the recipe I called “failure of success” and the pâtissier recover the bake goods with filling the bottom with cream and sandwich another piece of macaroon. Somehow many French recipe had that kind of repertoire.

  • 4 egg whites
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  1.  Preheat the oven to 100ºC/ 212ºF. In a large clean bowl, whisk the egg white until peak firm was formed.
  2. Shift the caster over the egg white, make sure there is no lumps of sugar, then add in the vanilla extract.
  3. Use a large metal spoon, careful fold over the sugar and vanilla into whisked egg white. Do not over work with it otherwise you may knock out the air you had created into the egg whites.
  4. Use your finger or a spoon and dip into the mixture and smear it onto the four corner of the baking sheet, then line the baking sheet with baking parchment or baking paper.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a large plain nozzle piping bag and pipe it on the baking paper.
  6. Pop them in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Once it is done remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before you store them in the clean jar.

There texture is smooth and melts in your mouth, however it has a bit of chewiness at the end, that is because of the sugar. I think in the batch I going to reduce the sugar, as I think is a bit too sweet to my tooth, however in some explanation saying sugar in the meringue is crucial because sugar is the structure of the meringue, since I’m architectural amateur that word “structure” is sounds seriously in construction industry; which is true because that is the only ingredient comes in a tinny little form or crystal, supporting the “cotton” above it. How wonderful is that?

Angel food cake with lemon curd

IMG_1130ALook at this cake, not having a smooth side, imperfection decoration, simply because I don’t have the patient to decorate the cake or making it smooth. It is just beyond me! I think the way this cake looks will tells you it is home made.

Most people will have an answer said this is chiffon cake base, eventually it is not chiffon but angel food cake base. There are three basic cake commonly use as base. Sponge cake, chiffon, angel food cake. Three of them content light airy interior.

Sponge cake, made with butter, sugar, flour, eggs. It contain whole eggs Their leavening comes only from beaten egg whites (no baking powder or soda), and they have little or no butter. Is very common with eggy,  yellowish, crumble texture, light as well. It is a versatile cake that you could add any flavour.

Chiffon cake, made with eggs, sugar, flour, water and vegetable oil but no butter. It is very light, slightly dry if you just eating the cake itself. Chiffon cakes are light like sponge cakes, but the egg whites are not beaten separately. Chiffon cakes also generally contain oil so they are more tender and moist than sponge cake.

Is an obsession throughout South-east Asia, in Japan there are whole bakeries devoted to it. Chinese schoolchildren eat it as a snack. In the Philippines the ability to turn out airy chiffon is the test of a good home cook. Yet few in Britain know about it, despite our collective love of cake. I remembered when I was a kids, I had green pandan (pandanus amaryllifolius or screwpine leave) chiffon cake, it is very soft, spongy, dry. Often it made me choke when I eating it too quickly, simply because it is tasty. Most housewife in Asia would perfecting this chiffon cake recipe and by making them as light as possible, adding flavouring in it.

Angel food cake, made with egg whites, sugar and flour. It is even lighter than chiffon cake, Angel food cakes have no fat or leavening (such as baking powder). They are leavened with beaten egg whites and they have a high proportion of egg white to flour.

The following recipe was adopted from Mary Berry that made it at Master class of the Great British Baked-Off. I think this cake make a good center piece on your dinner party. You will need a special mould for this cake 25cm angel food cake pan or chiffon pan

Cake ingredients

  • 125g plain flour
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 10 large free-range egg whites
  • 2 large lemon, grated zest only
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp salt

Lemon curd ingredients (this makes more lemon curd than you need for this cake)

  • 10 large free-range egg yolks
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 4 large lemons, juice only (±200ml)
  • 2 large lemons, grated zest only
  • 175g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 passion fruit

Topping

  • 300ml whipping cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 (fan 160C) and arrange an oven shelf in the bottom third of the oven. Sift the flour and 100g/3½oz of the caster sugar together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric hand whisk or mixer on a high speed for one minute until frothy. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Increase the speed and add the remaining 200g/7oz of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks.
  3. Sprinkle over one-third of the flour mixture and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the flour mixture folding gently to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
  4. Transfer the batter to a 25cm/10in angel food cake pan. Gently run a knife through the centre of the batter to remove any pockets of air. Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and immediately turn upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs, or place over the neck of a wine bottle. Leave to cool for at least one hour.
  6. Run a knife around the inner and outer edges of cake to remove it from the pan. Invert onto a plate. Carefully use a palette knife to separate the cake from the base of the pan. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  7. For the lemon curd, mix the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a large pan. Cook over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir the sides and base of the pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Pass through a sieve into a large jug. Fill two 350g/12oz glass jars with the lemon curd and seal with lids. Cover the remaining curd with cling film and leave to cool.
  8. For the topping, whisk the cream and vanilla extract in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Spoon the topping over the angel food cake and, using a palette knife, coat the top and sides of the cake, smoothing as you go.
  9. Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the seeds. Stir the passion fruit into the reserved, cooled lemon curd and drizzle over the angel food cake before serving. You may want to use just one of the jars of lemon curd to serve with the cake and save the other to eat separately.

Note: Do not be tempted to grease the tin – it will prevent the cake from rising properly. If you want to cut back on fat or have a dairy intolerance, this is a great cake to make. The cake itself doesn’t contain any butter and you can easily swap the toppings for a fruit syrup or jam if you want to make it completely dairy-free. The egg yolks are used up in a job lot of lemon curd, but you could always buy in a good jar lemon curd and save your yolks for another use.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Egg Pasta

 

IMG_0916I got a very good article to share with you, it is from the great Italian food writer – Anna Del Conte. Pasta is the generic word for any kind of dough, such as bread and pastry. ‘Pasta’ is also a paste, such as pasta di Acciughe (anchovies), Pasta Di Mandorle (almond). When used by itself the word usually means pasta in its best-known sense, which, to be correct, in Italian is called Pasta alimentare. And what is this food that in the last half a century has conquered the Western world? It i simply a mixture of flour or Semola and water and/ or eggs.

Pasta, as a mixture of some sort of ground cereal and liquid, was obviously made in ancient times. If the first pasta maker were the Greeks or the Etruscans it does not matter. Pasta was not brought back to Venice by Marco Polo in 1295, because there are references to it before that date. Personally I think that pasta was yet another Arab import into Sicily. In the past the Sicilian were recognized as the authority on pasta and Sicilian food was greatly influenced by the Arabs.

By the Renaissance, pasta – at that time called vermicelli – was enjoyed only by wealthy people. It became popular at the end of the 18th century, but only in southern Italy. Naples was the scene of the eruption of pasta as the food of the people; along with Vesuvius it became the symbol of Naples. In 1700 there were 280. On most street corners there was a maccheronaro selling Maccheroni from his stall – maccheroni being the general local name for pasta. The first pasta factories were established around the Gulf of Naples and it is from there that pasta, and spaghetti in particular, reached the United States when the Italians began to emigrate there at the beginning of the 20th century.

But there was an American who fell in love with pasta much earlier. It was Thomas Jefferson, third president of the US, who, having no doubt enjoyed eating pasta on one of his visit to Italy, ordered a pasta-making machine to be sent to Monticello, his house in Virginia.

Up until World War II it was only in southern Italy that pasta was eaten daily, usually as a first course at lunch. But in the second half of the 20th century pasta has become the most popular starter to a meal also in northern Italy, where it has ousted the local Risotto. A dish of pasta is now often served as a Piatto Unico (one-course meal) but never with salad. It is the typical meal of southern Italians, and it provides a healthy and well-balanced diet based on pasta plus a sauce consisting either of small amount of meat, or some vegetables, pulses, cheese or eggs.

In Italy, pasta usually means dried pasta. Fresh pasta is eaten far less frequently and is by no means considered superior, but rather a different kind of food which can be better or worse, depending on its quality.

Fresh pasta: In Emilia-Romagna fresh pasta is made using only eggs and 00 flour. The classic recipe is given here. In order regions one or two of the eggs may be replaced by water, which produces a softer and less tasty pasta. In the south the mixture is of durum wheat Semolino, flour and water, a type of dough that is hard to knead and shape. All these mixtures, once the dough is rolled out, are called sfoglia. Rolling pasta totally by hand is difficult job, but there are many machines for making fresh pasta at home. The Macchina per la pasta will roll and cut the pasta, too.

Dried pasta: This is commercially made pasta, the composition of which is tightly controlled by law. It is made only with durum wheat semola and water. For pasta integrale (wholemeal pasta) the durum wheat is less refined. Equally important is the drying process, which must be gradual and lengthy. The best pasta is dried over 48 hours, as opposed to 32 for the more mass-produced type. The dies through which the mixture is extruded also play an important part: for the best pasta bronze dies are used, giving a rough surface that is ideal for retaining the dressing. Dried pasta comes in many shapes and sizes, most of which are best suited to a particular type of sauce. Generally speaking, long pasta, such as spaghetti, is best with a sauce based on olive oil, as this keeps the strands slippery and separate. Thicker long shapes are dressed with sauces that may also be based on butter, cream and cheese, which also go well with medium-seized tubular pasta. These shapes are also perfect dressed with vegetables or pulses, while the large rigatoni and penne are used for baked dishes.

Cooking pasta: Pasta may be everyday food, but it should be cooked with great care. It must be cooked in a large saucepan in plenty of salted water: there should be 1 litre of water to every 100g of pasta, to which 10g of salt is added and immediately stirred. The cooking time varies according to the shape and quality of pasta, and whether it is fresh or dried.

When the pasta is al dente it is drained through a colander or, for long pasta, by lifting it out with a long wooden fork or a spaghetti server. Some of the cooking water is sometimes reserved to add at the end, should the finished dish seem too dry. This is always done when cooking fresh pasta, since it absorbs more liquid. Once drained, the pasta is transferred to the frying pan containing the sauce or to a warmed bowl and immediately dressed; it should never be left to sit in the colander or bowl without any dressing. Pasta shouldn’t be dressed with too much sauce, nor should the sauce be watery.

Pasta can also be cooked using a totally different method, which is called ‘the Agnesi method’, since it is from the late Vincenzo Agnesi, the founder of the Pasta Agnesi company. And here it is: bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the usual amount of salt and then add the pasta and stir vigorously. When the water has come back to the boil, cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes and then turn the heat off, put a clean towel over the pot and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Leave for the length of time suggested on the packet instructions. When the time is up, drain the pasta and dress as usual. Pasta cooked in this way will retain more of the characteristic flavout of the semolina. The other advantage is that it does not overcook if left a minutes longer.

Pastasciutta is a term meaning pasta that, once cooked, has been drained and served with a sauce. Pasta in brodo (‘pasta in soup’) on the other hand, is pasta served in the liquid in which it has cooked, which is the brodo, or stock.

Pasta colorata or aromatizzata (coloured or flavoured pasta) – pasta that is yellow (saffron), brown (fungi), red (tomato) or black (cuttlefish ink) – has now become as widely available as the traditional green (spinach) pasta from Emilia. Pasta ripiena (stuffed pasta) includes the large range of different types of ravioli. The wrapping is made of egg pasta and the stuffing is different for each type of raviolo.

In Italy, pasta is made in different ways in many regions, but the most popular fresh pasta is the pasta all’uovo made in Emilia, for which this is the traditional recipe.

  • 300g Italian 00 flour, plus extra for dusting (Double “O” is finely milled, it is easy to built the elasticity of the dough, you could use normal plain flour)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Put the flour on the work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the salt and the eggs. Using a fork or your fingers, mix the eggs and draw in the flour gradually. Work quickly until it forms a mass. Scrape the work surface clean and wash your hands. Alternatively, you can use a food processor. Put in the flour and salt, switch on the machine and drop in the eggs through the funnel. Process until a ball of dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.
  2. Knead the dough for about 5 – 7 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes – or up to 3 to 4 hours.
  3. Unwrap the dough and knead on a lightly floured work surface for 2 – 3 minutes, then divide into 4 equal parts. Take one piece of dough and keep the remainder wrapped in clingfilm or cover with a damp tea towel. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin, or by machine following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. If you making lasagne, or any type of stuffed pasta, proceed immediately to cutting and stuffing. If you are making long pasta, before you cut it, leave the dough to dry until it is no longer sticky. Then feed each strip of dough through the broad cutter of the machine for tagliatelle or fettuccine, or through the narrow cutters for tagliolini. For tonnarelli, roll the dough out only to the fourth setting of the machine. Whe dry, feed the sheet through the narrow cutter to achieve a sort of square spaghetti.

At least you try this recipe by hand during the mixing process, I think it is very important for you to feel the ingredient when you working on it. The first attempt I made fresh pasta before I found this recipe, I didn’t use machine but by hand, it was very exciting when I mixed the flour with eggs, using heel of my hand to roll it as is using my body heat to gently working with the gluten of the flour rolling it and giving my attention and love toward the mixture. This is a good collaboration between me and the food; I called this the good relationship. Then when I rolling out into a sheet I cut them into several piece and floured each of them and piled them together and then rolled it like a swiss roll then used a sharp knife to sliced it. Unfortunately it doesn’t came out as I expected because it was stuck together badly. The second time I made it I didn’t dry them much it cooked too quickly and it fall apart. The third time I made it by machine and it is great!

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Egg & Soldiers

P1150472AEgg and soldiers is one of those easy breakfast for everyone. I can’t remember when was the last time I had this, but this classic breakfast is very simple to prepare and enjoy. No fuss at all, is depending on how did you like the egg to be.

I like the egg just set on the white and the yolk is gooey and soft, I sprinkle some coarse sea salt everytime I dip in the soldier, the gooey yolk over flow over the shell. Hmmmm! That is a really a joy for the day.

  1. Bring water to boil in a saucepan, when the water is boiling put in the matchstick. The reason to put the matchstick when the boiling water may crack the egg.  so the matchstick is to cling the white if it does happen. Boil the egg about 4 minutes,.
  2. While that is happening toast the bread and butter it then cut into strips for dipping into the egg later.
  3. After 4 minutes remove the egg from the boiling water and place onto the egg cup, cut the top off.
  4. Sprinkle some coarse sea salt before you dip in the “soldier”.

That is the real good breakfast you willaddicted to it. I promised!