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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Summer Strawberry Cake

Summer Strawberry Cake

Deb from smitten kitchen calls it a strawberry summer cake; lack of brain cells resulted in me calling it a summer strawberry cake. Same but different.

I took the shortcut way out and cream butter that came out straight from the fridge with brown sugar. The trouble with the sugar I use is that it takes forever to “melt” so every time I do any creaming with butter, it either takes forever or it clumps up – no matter how soft or hard my butter is. As such, the resulting batter was a little bordering on soft cookie dough which resulted in some addition of milk just to make it a little bit more fluid and easy to pour into the pan. Still, it was a super thick batter – I might just revisit this recipe again and tweak it a little.

I also cut back on the sugar – using about 3/4 cup of brown sugar instead which made for a not-too sweet cake. I reckon this would go great with some hot ginger tea or even cool ice lemon tea, if you like. My hubby would have it with his morning coffee. Eva enjoyed downing a slice for breakfast – it wasn’t too dry and the strawberries on the top gave it a nice visual effect. All in all, a good outcome for this recipe. If anything, the fact that I have about one quarter left within 24 hours is a good indication that everyone likes it although it’s not exactly fab for the waistline (time to dig out my yoga mat bag and get cracking again!)!

Summer Strawberry Cake
From Smitten Kitchen’s recipe here

Ingredients

1/2 cup gms butter
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
450 gms strawberries, hulled and halved

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a 9″ DEEP cake pan.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder together in a small bowl until well incorporated. In a larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined before adding the flour/baking powder mix gradually.
  3. Mix until just smooth (take care to not overbeat – it’ll result in a dense cake).
  4. Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer before sprinkling some sugar over the berries (optional).
  5. Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 170°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 55 minutes.
  6. Cool in the pan on a rack. Once ready, cut and serve on its own or with some whipped cream – if you’re all for indulging in a sinful treat!

Summer Strawberry Cake

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Flaked almond cookies

Flaked almond cookies

In search of an afternoon activity for Eva considering the rainy afternoon & days, I decided to make some Christmas cookies with the almonds I have in the pantry. Turned out to be a really fun activity for her and it ate up our entire afternoon – nearly two hours! YAY!

As for the recipe, I made some changes. I used orange juice instead of water and cut back on the sugar – I am certain that if I hadn’t, these cookies would be ultra sweet! I also made the cookies in such a way that the flaked almonds were layered in the cookies instead of just sprinkled over the top. Turned out to be pretty delicious and a keeper!

Flaked almond cookies

Ingredients

175 gms unsalted butter, diced
225 gms self-raising flour
100 gms cane/brown sugar
1 egg, separated
2 tbsp orange juice
50 gms flaked almonds

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Rub the butter into the flour until they resemble breadcrumbs and stir in the sugar before adding in the egg yolk and juice to form a firm dough.
  2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1 cm thick and sprinkle over the almonds. Fold twice and roll again until the dough is approx 5mm thick.
  3. Cut the dough into desired shapes and place on an ungreased baking tray. Continue to do the same until there is no more dough left. Whisk the egg white lightly and brush over the cookies.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove immediately and leave on a wire rack to cool & harden. The cookies will be soften at first but will harden as they cool.
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Five vegetable soup

Another soup recipe that is a definite keeper and great for those days where you just want something warm AND light! In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for some kobo ereader reviews.

Five vegetable soup

Ingredients
2 medium-large red bell pepper
2 large leeks
1 large zucchini
1/4 portion of a pumpkin
2 large tomatoes
Approx 1 liter of stock – I used vegetable stock
Some garlic croutons and mozzarella cheese – optional
Olive oil

Method

  1. Wash and roughly cube all the vegetables.
  2. Add some olive oil in a pressure cooker and fry the vegetables on high for 1-2 minutes before adding in the stock. Cover and cook under pressure for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Once ready, release the pressure, remove the cover and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve warm or hot with some croutons and mozzarella cheese.
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Simple beef stew

I am beginning to fall in love with my pressure cooker and stews. Earlier, I have been busy cooking up beef bourguignon, Italian-styled beef stews and even vegetable soups, experimenting with spices and wines. Even Eva felt that they were yummy – “C’est bon!” she declares. Then again, just about nearly everything is yummy – except that cake I made previously (she refused to touch it – LOL – a testament of what a disaster it was).

If you’re looking for something quick and easy, which doesn’t require much time slaving in front of the stove and more time for surfing on Gateway computers, this is it. That is provided you have a pressure cooker. Just dump everything, wait for the liquid to boil, cover and activate by locking in the cover. Once the pressure builds, it’s a matter of leaving it to continue cooking while you go about doing other things. Me? While this was cooking away, I was busy changing Noah’s diaper followed by a good breastfeeding session. Once I was done and while my mum burped him, I dumped the vegetables into the pressure cooker (release the pressure first, naturally) and cooked it for a futher 10 to 15 minutes. That allowed me to check my emails and such. Amazing, no?

Definitely a tool I’d recommend to cooks out there! Oh, apologies for the lack of photos – everyone was too hungry and well, there will always be another time for pictures! Kekekeke.

Simple beef stew

Ingredients
1 kg stewing beef
2 cups fresh mushroom – quartered
5 medium sized potatos – peeled & cubed
1 medium sized onion – diced
3 medium sized carrots – peeled & cubed
100 gms streaky bacon – cubed
1 star anise
3 cloves
Some vegetable stock
Some olive oil

(B) Thickening
1/2 tbsp corn flour
1 tbsp water

Method

  1. In the pressure cooker, fry the spices, onion and bacon in olive oil until fragrant before adding in the beef.
  2. Fry the beef on high heat for five minutes before adding in the vegetable stock. Once the liquid comes to the boil, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Release the pressure and remove the lid. Add the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Add thickening, then dish out and serve immediately.
  4. Release the pressure and remove the lid. Add thickening, then dish out and serve immediately with thick slices of bread or a side serving of rice.
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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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Provençal Vegetable Tian

Provençal Vegetable Tian

For the vegetarian in all of us, this dish is heavenly. For a working mum like myself who likes to pump her kid full of veg, this is god-sent (just like sites for people looking for unique wedding presents for couples). Just slice, arrange/line up and pop into the oven for a quick bake – all of which can be done in between clearing the kitchen!

While the original recipe called for sautéed onions with garlic or leeks, I omitted this step because I didn’t want to do any cooking on my Pyrex dish and neither was I keen on washing more pans. So as a replacement, I just grated over some garlic and sprinkle mixed Italian herbs over. You can use fresh herbs but woe to me for not having any on hand. Still it makes for a good vegetable dish and reminds me very much of the animation Ratatouille. (In fact, it could be just this dish that he served up and not ratatouille!)

Provençal Vegetable Tian
Adapted from The Garden of Eating’s Provençal Vegetable Tian

2-3 large cloves garlic
2 small zucchinis (one green and one yellow)
1 small eggplant
4 small tomatoes
Some dried mixed Italian herbs
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C.
  2. Prepare the vegetables by slicing them into coins that are around 2mm thick. Try to keep the thickness even otherwise some slices would cook faster than others – the problem would be the undercooked veg!
  3. Line the baking dish – I used Pyrex – with rows of vegetables alternating between the wet and dry ones – I did green zucchini, then tomato followed by yellow zucchini and finally the eggplant. Continue until you run out of space (I managed to get a good four rows of veg in my baking dish)
  4. Sprinkle over some finely chopped garlic, mixed Italian herbs, ground black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Cut and butter a baking paper (to cover the veg so measure & cut before you butter it) liberally before place it buttered side down onto the veg.
  5. Baked for 35-45 minutes until the vegetables are soft (not mushy). Serve with a side of meat or grain like couscous or pasta. Good for freezing/storage as well.
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