Chocolate souffle

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It was the little man’s sixth birthday a couple of weeks back and he had been asking for souffles. I stalled as much as I could but after a while, I just gave up. Well, watching Masterchef helped his cause as one of the pressure tests was…yes, you guessed it – making chocolate souffles!

Since it was a slow Sunday, I thought hey, why not make some souffles? The hubby had never had any despite being a French (gasp!) and before we knew it, we had some cute ramekins from Daiso, dark chocolate couvertures from the local baking supply shop and eggs.

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Low fat banana cake

Low fat banana cake

In the quest of losing weight the healthy way, I have started to cut back on my diet, revamp my eating habits and regular exercise. The weight loss has been very slow – about 500 gms to 1 kg in three weeks – because I was still eating rather well. So I decided to get a little serious by doing some calorie counting. After just two days of counting calories, I must say that people really do overeat in terms of portions and the food itself. I found myself watching my portions when I cook and trying to stick within the 1200-calories-a-day limit with some success. It really isn’t all that difficult. The key is in finding substitutes and yes, portion control.

Since I have been developing a sweet tooth of lately – no thanks to my diet which has had me being restricted to no desserts and just fruits – I decided to find a low fat banana cake. I modified my own banana-based recipes with the general guidelines of substitution – applesauce for oil and whole wheat instead of bleached white flour. I wasn’t too sure how a 100% whole wheat cake would go down so I opted for the 50-50 approach.

The result is a approximately 130 calorie slice of banana cake – each slice is about 1 cm thick and oh so moist & delish! Noah loved it and kept crawling around the dining table as I was slicing the loaf up, begging for more – he got the crumbs because it was past his breakfast time and I don’t like the kids to eat continously all day long. I’ll give him half a slice for his snack later. I reckon this would go down quite well for breakfast – one or two slices would still leave me a good window for the remainder of the day plus the whole wheat element will keep me fuller.

Low fat banana cake

NOTE: If you’re after a richer indulgence, you can replace the applesauce with melted butter (or vegetable oil if you don’t want to live that dangerously). But that means a higher calorie count! Tehehehe.

Low fat banana cake

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cake flour
2 eggs
3 large bananas – mashed
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 applesauce
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp skimmed milk (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, mash the bananas before adding in the sugar, applesauce, eggs and vanilla extract. If you’re using milk, add this in as well. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Add in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon gently – take care to not overbeat. If the mixture is lumpy, that’s okay.
  4. Pour into a loaf tin or any pan of your choice. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  5. Enjoy them fresh or store in an airtight container to keep.
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Banana & raisin bread

Banana & raisin bread

Because we’re in a need of some bread and the bananas were “dying”!

The original recipe called for 120 gms of sugar but I cut back on this as the bananas are already sweet plus I don’t like to use too much sugar in my baked goods. It can be overpowering! Raisins adds a nice, chewy texture to an otherwise light and fluffy bread that is still quite moist.

Banana & raisin bread
Adapted from Cooking Crave’s recipe here

Ingredients

3 large overripe bananas, mashed
50 g butter/margarine, melted
85 g brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking soda
200 g plain flour
1/2 cup raisins (I used golden, dark and sultanas)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C and prepare a grease pan of your choice.
  2. Add the melted butter/margarine into the mashed bananas and mix well before adding the sugar, vanilla essence and egg. Mix in well.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking soda and fold in until just incorporate. Add in the raisins and fold in. Be careful to not overmix.
  4. Pour into your pan of choice and bake for 50 minutes until golden brown. I like mine a little on the darker side but if you want yours to be light, cover the top with aluminium foil about 30 minutes after baking.
  5. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing. Stand on a wire rack to cool. Enjoy as it is or store in an airtight container in the fridge (to keep for a few days) or leave at room temperature (for 2-3 days).
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Simple and quick pumpkin soup

(No pictures here because we were all too hungry and well, soup is soup. Hehehehe.)

For those days when it’s just too tiring to do anything else or for those lovely cool autumn nights, this is one recipe that is a pure keeper!

Simple and quick pumpkin soup

Ingredients
1 medium sized butternut squash (or any other type of pumpkin)
1 large red bell pepper
1 large yellow onion
Approx 1 liter of stock – I used vegetable & beef stock
Some croutons and fried bacon for garnishing – optional
Olive oil

Method

  1. Half the bell pepper, onion and butternut squash, and place the cut portions in a baking pan. Drizzle some olive oil over and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for half an hour or until the pumpkin is soft. Place aside to cool when ready.
  2. Place the bell pepper and onion in a food processor or blender together with the scooped out flesh from the squash. Blend until smooth – add some stock if necessary.
  3. Once the mix is smooth, pour into the stock and heat over a gentle flame until it simmers. Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve warm or hot with some croutons and fried bacon. My hubs likes his soups with a bit of cream and strips of hard cheese (Comte, cheddar, Colby, etc).
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Orange Flower-Lemon Hot Milk Cake

Orange Flower-Lemon Hot Milk Cake

Since Noah got transferred back to Dole, I have ended up with a surplus of breast milk as the hospital in Besancon would just take my milk without any questions. In Dole, however, they don’t have enough space for my daily delivery of eight bottles. So I have been given back the milk that I deliver on a regular basis. I have taken to freezing as much as I can – my fridge just isn’t built to freeze milk on this scale – but I still have a surplus of chilled milk. So I decided to bite the bullet and use my own breast milk in my baked goods.

After looking around the Internet (while I download videos of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares), I found the perfect recipe…

The result is a very moist and delicious cake – nothing obvious about breast milk in there. I would omit the orange flower water if I make this again and just stick to either lemon, orange or vanilla. Because I didn’t have enough eggs, I decided to half the recipe and ended up with a very nice, not too sweet cake. For those who would like to add a twist to this, feel free to add in some raisins, nuts like almonds and even fresh fruit.

Orange Flower-Lemon Hot Milk Cake
Adapted from Hot Milk Cake recipe here

Ingredients
4 eggs
Slightly less than 2 cups brown sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp orange flower water
Zest from 1 lemon
1 1/4 cups milk
10 tsp butter

Method

  1. Beat eggs on high until thick (about five minutes).
  2. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder before folding in into the egg mixture. Add the orange flower water and lemon zest.
  4. In saucepan, heat milk and butter just until the butter melts before combining with the batter.
  5. Pour into a 9 inch greased pan and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm as is or with a side serving of ice cream, yogurt or fresh fruit.

Orange Flower-Lemon Hot Milk Cake

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My new toy!

Our new Tefal Activys oven in SG.

Growing up in KL, I have never thought of being without an oven. My mum has a stovetop-oven that she took with her everywhere we moved to and I grew up watching her bake Chinese New Year cookies in them. When I went to Australia, the homes came with ovens and a stovetop. In Switzerland, it was the same and similarly in France.

So when we first moved to Singapore, that was one of my requirements – an oven. Here, most people don’t really own ovens and even if they do, they are tabletop ovens or toaster ovens – something I find to be oddly bizarre. Then again it has a lot to do with Asian cuisine – most dishes are stirfried, steamed, stewed or deep fried.

Anyway, the owner’s oven wasn’t working and after checking with my dad who was an electrician before he retired, we decided that it just wasn’t worth it to get it repaired – for one thing, it wasn’t ours and it was already broken when we moved in. For many months, we looked around for good bargains and I for one found it quite hard to adjust to being downgraded from a “proper” oven to a tabletop one. Still, as time went by and I began to really itch for an oven – this being the festive season for Chinese and I got really tempted to make some pineapple tarts, I decided that I could live with it – better than nothing.

We found a really good bargain at Carrefour – well, we saw the same bargain months back but decided that we could then live without an oven – and went ahead with the purchase. The price included free delivery so we didn’t have to cart it back with our groceries, and Eva – massive workout; no need for fitness equipment! It arrived yesterday in lovely condition and I never felt so excited about getting a kitchen gadget! Nil tried it out yesterday with a regular 9-inch pizza and the blur man forgot to set the temperature, leaving it at 280°C!!!! The pizza turned out “too” cooked on the top and barely on the bottom – yes, he forgot to move the tray to the right height as well. I suspect I’ll need to get some more appropriate baking pans but I’ll get them when or if I need them. In the meantime, I’ll just make do with the baking utensils the owner already has here in the apartment.

Anyway, tonight will be its first proper debut and my foray back into baking again! I’ll be making a fusion baked fish dish and hopefully it’ll turn out nicely. Wish me luck! 🙂

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Tarte au citron & chocolat

Tarte au citron & chocolat

It’s the man’s birthday today and being the birthday boy, he has the privilege of deciding the menu for the entire day – yes, breakfast, lunch and dinner! I had actually spent the past couple of weeks bugging him about what he wanted since the only thing I could afford (well, I can get him a gift but I’m just stingy) was a lovely meal comprising of a main dish and a dessert. Well, as much as people like to think that I am capable of running a restaurant, I’m not a chef and neither is my home a restaurant. 🙂

Anyway, Nil filed in a request – yes, it sounds awfully funny but I did tell him that the kitchen is now only taking special orders and in advance due to the baby belly – for some asam laksa and his all-time OTHER favourite dessert – tarte au citron.

FYI, I HATE LEMONS. Sure, I like the smell, I like using the rind in baking but to make a lemon tart with tons of lemon juice and rind…no, no, no!

BUT it IS the birthday boy’s wish so okay, tarte au citron it is. I looked around my cooking books and found a pretty easy recipe with no fuss ingredients – eggs, cream, lemons (of course), butter and so forth. As usual, yours truly made some adjustments to the recipe, particularly the pastry. I had some leftover cocoa powder which I’m trying to use up so hey, why not make a chocolate pastry shell? I didn’t put much as I wasn’t too sure how the mix would go plus I just wanted a hint of cocoa in the pastry NOT full-blown chocolate. Nil was a bit shocked at first (“why chocolate????”) but it turned out surprisingly good. I halved the recipe to get just enough for a small (and shallow) 8″ pie pan.

The result was a very tangy custardy tart – perfect with a side serving of fresh strawberries to take the edge off the sourish taste of lemon but still fragrant and delish without being too…well, lemony! Again, both the pastry and custard filling was not very sweet as I cut back on the sugar and/or substitute white/refined with cane sugar.

Tarte au citron & chocolat
Adapted from The Cook’s Companion by Lisa McCormick

Ingredients

(A) Pastry
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
1 tbsp cane sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water

(B) Filling
Rind from 2 lemons
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup whipped cream/cream (35% fat)
1/4 cup cane sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly grease an 8″ tart/pie pan.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl before adding in the sugar and cubing the butter into the flour mix.
  3. Rub the butter with the flour, using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the center, add the egg and water. Mix well until it forms a dough – add more cold water if necessary.
  4. Cover and leave to rest for 1 hour in the fridge.
  5. When ready, remove from the fridge and roll out before covering the tart/pie pan. Remove excess dough from the top/sides, prick some holes in the base before pouring in the baking beans.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is set.
  7. Remove the pastry shell from the oven, put aside and immediately lower the temperature to 190°C.
  8. In a bowl, mix the rind, lemon juice and sugar. Beat well. Gradually add in the cream – do not overwhisk as it will result in bubbles or a frothy mixture. Add in the eggs one by one while stirring gently.
  9. Remove the baking beans from the pastry shell and pour the filling in before baking it for 20 to 25 minutes until the filling has set.
  10. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool. Serve as is or with a dollop of cream and/or some fresh fruit.
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Strawberries in crème pâtissière

Strawberries in crème pâtissière

My latest comfort food in the form of strawberries with a few dollops of crème pâtissière or pastry cream, all served up in small ramekin dishes. Simply, not too sweet yet oh-so-tantalizingly delish! Perfect for the summer or just when you need a little pick-me-up…the prospects of having to pack and move is definitely a downer, if you ask me.

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