Sunday, 28 April 2013

Garlic Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart

Posted by Kim Fong On 10:29 pm

To celebrate ANZAC Day this year (and a four day weekend), BBQ dinner was at my brother's place. The wonderful thing was everyone had contributed that evening. Even my little 10 year old nephew. 

My sister-in-law wanted to make fresh garlic bread. For me, garlic bread is taking an existing loaf of bread and mixing up a garlic and herb butter, and slapping it on the bread. Then wrap it up in foil, throwing it on the BBQ until it's a little bit crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. But not this time! Crack open the yeast and flour, we're making bread! 

After a little creative chatter, I suggested making it a "pull-apart". None of us had done this before but I was fairly confident. The result was great! This says a lot coming from my folks. They usually have many opinions about how to improve something but few compliments. Fortunately, there were more compliments this time around, including going back for 2nds and 3rds.

I recreated this today to go with OG's clam-less chowder. The first pull-apart was vegan friendly, but today's version was not so friendly. I've given both vegan and non-vegan versions below.

7g dried yeast (2 tspn)
1 tspn sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup water) [bath water warm]
3 cups plain flour
1/2 tspn salt
4 Tblpsn olive oil (or melted butter)
80g butter, softened (or dairy free margarine) 
1 large (or 2 small) cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tblspn oregano (dried or fresh)
1 Tblspn parsley (dried or fresh)
1 Tblspn basil (dried or fresh)
~ 100g mature parmesan, grated

1. In a medium bowl, combine yeast, sugar and warm water (warm milk & water). Stir and set aside to ferment.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine salt and flour. Make a well in the centre. Add yeast mixture and oil (or melted butter). Using the dough hook attachment and cake mixer, mix until combined and forms a dough. Turn out onto a clean and very lightly floured surface. Continue to knead for about 5 to 10 minutes until dough becomes smooth.

3. Place kneaded dough back into mixing bowl. Cover the top of the dough with cling wrap and place bowl in a warm area. Allow to rise to double it's size. About an hour. 

4. Preheat oven to 180C. Light grease and line the base of a spring form cake tin. (If you don't have a springform cake tin, you can use a regular round one. The Springform makes it easier to turn out later.)

5. In a small bowl combine butter (margarine), garlic, oregano, parsley and basil. Mix until well combined. 

6. Turn risen dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead for a little bit to get the smooth texture back, then roll dough out. Try to make it as close to rectangular as possible. It should be about 1cm thick. Spread the butter mixture all over the rolled out dough. (See picture below.) Sprinkle parmesan over dough. 

7. Roll dough along the long edge to form a log. Using a knife or clean fishing line, cut cross sections of the log about 3 to 4 cm thick. Turn it upward, place in cake tin close together (see picture below). 

8. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until golden on top and the sides are coming away from the tin. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes and remove from tin and cool further. Serve warm.

Other flavour optionals: 
Spinach and feta (cottage cheese) 
Bacon, onion and cheese
Butter and vegemite
Apple and cinnamon 
Jam and cream-cheese

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Chrysanthemum and Mandarin Muffins

Posted by Kim Fong On 10:22 pm

Chrysanthemum tea always reminds me of Grandma. I will always remember when I was young, Chrysanthemum flowers would be blooming around this time of year. The colour and smell in the garden would be wonderful! Then Grandma would pick, wash then dry them out in the sun. Then as the weather got cooler, she would brew us a pot of Chrysanthemum tea. Yum! I'd always ask to have mine with some sugar. As always, she would treat me! 

It's been a very long time since I've had that tea party with Grandma but it's a memory that will always be with me with every Chrysanthemum tea I drink. 

For many, Chrysanthemum reminds us of Mother's day. Also known as May flowers - these fragrant, aromatic flowers are known in Chinese culture to have many health benefits

Couple this with mandarin season also coming into full swing, what a perfect time for this recipe. The original recipe came from a cupcake book from a friend of mine and was title Camomile and Mandarin Cupcakes. However, I decided to change it up with Chrysanthemum in place of Camomile. And I'm calling them muffins coz they really don't need the icing - it's too good on it's own.

¾ cup milk
5 grams dried Chrysanthemum flowers
150g butter, chopped
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tspn finely grated mandarin zest (of about 2 mandarins)
2 mandarins, peeled, seeds removed and segmented
½ cup fine semolina
1 ¼ cup self-raising flour

1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Line 12 muffin holes with paper cases.

2. Place milk and Chrysanthemum flowers into saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to stand to infuse. Strain.

3. Place butter, sugar, eggs, mandarin zest and mandarin in a food processor (one with cutting blades, not a cake mixer). Process until almost smooth. Add milk mixture, semolina and flour and process until smooth and a thick batter. 

4. Pour mixture evenly among the cases. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of a muffin. Transfer on to a wire rack to cool. Serve. Can be kept in an air tight container for a few days.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake

Posted by Kim Fong On 5:24 pm

Topped with my chocolate hazelnut truffles

Last weekend saw my oven take on two different types of baked cheesecakes. It was a cheesecake fest! A cheesecake royale! A cheesecake battle! 

How this come about? Well...

It was OG's Dad's birthday last Saturday and I offered to make him a cake. Naturally he accepted. This time with condition (well, a request) ... "Can you make Babcia's cheese cake?". [Translation: can you make my mother in-law-cheesecake] My response, sure - I'll give it ago. 

In my mind, there are a few things going on. My biggest obstacle was to source the main ingredient - Brandcourts cheese. Found this at Costco! Woo! My biggest challenge was living up to this infamous cheesecake. Nostalgic expectations will fill the room. This cake I've never actually had, let alone trying to replicate and not disappoint.

I've had other ricotta cheesecakes before. And I was never impressed. I still loved my New York baked cheesecake. So dense and tasty.... mmmmm! 

Just so happens that on the same weekend, my family and I were to celebrate my Dad's birthday. Hmmm! Do I make Dad my cheesecake? Do I put these two cheesecakes back to back?! Yes! Challenge accepted!  

So which cheesecake won? Well, personally - I still prefer the New York Cheesecake. However, the ricotta was very much loved by everyone. And I managed to live up to the expectation there. Woo! So depending on your preferences, I think they're both winners!

Happy birthday to all the two dads in my life. This recipe is credit to Babcia (OG's Grandma). Treat it well. This is a family recipe. May it live on and touch the lives of those who experience it. 

Sorry for the low quality photos. And incase you're wonder what's on top, they're just my chocolate hazelnut truffles.

Tip: Check out my tips on the perfect cheesecake here. I follow these principles regardless of the type of cheesecake to ensure it doesn't crack or burn.


50g butter 
¾ cup caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 ½ cups plain flour     
1 ¾ tspns baking powder     
1 tspn vanilla essence 
a splash of fresh cream to soften dough  

1 kg fresh, young ricotta cheese       
2 eggs                    
6-8 Tblspns caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence
150ml fresh cream
2 heaped tblspns custard powder

1. Cream together butter and caster sugar until pale. Add egg yolks one at a time and beat until combined. Should be a pale colour.

2. Add flour, baking powder, vanilla and cream. Using the dough hook attachment, mix until it forms a dough. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead until combined. It should look soft and shiny. Wrap in plastic and set aside.

3. Blend cheese until soft (a few seconds). Add eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add cream and custard powder. Mix until combined.

Building the cake
4. Grease and line a springform cake tin (~20 to 22cm diameter). Preheat oven to 180 to 200C.

5. Roughly roll out the dough and press into lined tin (including the sides). Pour filling mixture in. 

6. Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until mixture is just or almost set. If it browns too quickly, turn the heat down to about 160C and/or cover with paper. It should look golden on top. Turn oven off, with the door open ajar leave pan in oven to cool slowly. When cooled, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

7. When ready to serve, remove sides of tin and side baking paper. Slide base onto the serving plate. Serve with fresh fruits and whipped cream.

Tasty Query - recipes search engine