Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Apple Tart "Maman Blanc"

You could say I am an avid fan of the Food Channel on my local cable television. There are so many programs I currently follow that it would be simply impossible to list down. On some evenings, my television set would be just tuned to only one channel and nothing else. I'm not sure if this could be viewed as a compulsive, obsessive behaviour - you tell me!


Another compulsion of mine is to buy groceries first and then try to source for a recipe around what I had purchased. Would not a sane person do the opposite? Guess what I did it again two weekends ago. I purchased golden delicious apples and had to source for a recipe to consume them. This is where the Food Channel comes in useful. I've made a couple of apple tarts before and have posted them as well. So I didn't want to repeat something that I had already tried out and tested.

apple custard 3

Timely again when I watched Raymond Blanc's "Kitchen Secrets" as he was making a Apple Custard Tart. So it is this particular recipe that I am now posting. The tart dough is new as well but I must say that the pastry is extremely good. It is flaky but at the same time a sturdy one. Some tart pastry tends to be flaky but falls apart once you cut through it. Well this doesn't! In fact it held up very well even one day after it was baked. The custard filing is extremely delicious and moist. However because as it is a custard, it is best consumed on the same day. I served it plain but I am sure it would have been delicious accompanied by a good vanilla ice-cream or creme fresh. Definitely a keeper recipe in my opinion.

apple custard 2


Apple Tart "Maman Blanc"
Recipe Adapted from Raymond Blanc's "Kitchen Secrets"

For the Pastry:

250g/9oz plain flour
pinch sea salt
125g/4oz unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1 tsp cold water
1 medium sized egg

For Glazing the Apples:

15g unsalted butter
1 tsp lemon juice
15g sugar

For the Custard Filling:

35g caster sugar
1/2 Tbsp brandy
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
3 golden delicious apples (or cooking apple), peeled, cores removed, each cut into 10 segments
100ml double or thickened cream
1 medium egg


1) For the pastry, pulse together the flour, butter and salt in a food processor until you reach a sandy texture. Add the egg, water and pulse again. If you over mix the dough at this stage it will lose its flakiness.

2) Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with the palms of your hands for 30 seconds, or until the dough is smooth and well combined.

3) With the palm of your hand flatten the dough slightly to 1cm/½in thickness, then sandwich it between two large sheets of cling film. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4) Preheat the oven to 220C/440F/Gas 7. Place a baking tray into the oven to preheat.

5) Roll the chilled dough, still sandwiched in cling film, to a 2mm thickness. Place a 22cm/9in diameter, 2cm/¾in deep tart ring on a greaseproof lined wooden peel or baking tray. Remove the top layer of clingfilm and carefully pick up the dough, place it into the tart ring with the second layer of clingfilm facing up. Lift and tuck the dough into the edges of the ring and discard the clingfilm. By tucking in the base you will minimise the shrinking of the dough during cooking. Trim off any excess with a rolling pin.

6) Using your index finger and thumb, pinch and press the dough until it's 2mm above the tart ring all around the edge. With a fork, prick the bottom of the tart. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

7) Meanwhile, for the filling, heat the butter, lemon juice and 15g of the sugar in a small saucepan until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Set aside.

8) When the tart case has chilled, arrange the apple segments in concentric circles, overlapping the apple slices as you go. Brush the apples all over with the brandy/butter mixture. Slide the tart ring onto the pre-heated baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.

9) Reduce the oven temperature to 200C/400F/Gas 6, then continue to cook for a further 20 minutes, until the pastry is pale golden-brown and the apples have caramelised.

10) Whisk together the cream, egg, spices and the remaining 35g caster sugar until well combined. When the pastry is pale golden-brown and the apples have caramelised, pour the custard mixture into the tart, bake for a further 10 minutes or until the filling mixture has just set.

11) To serve, remove the tart from the oven and set aside for 1 hour to cool slightly, then carefully remove the tart ring. Dust all over with icing sugar. Serve immediately.

apple custard 1

apple custard 5

apple custard 4

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Coconut Candy

I have not had these treats for years and years. When we were little tots my mum would occassionally make this candy for us. We looked forward to these occasions and loved it mainly because it was chockful of sugar. Tell me which kid does not like candy! My mum would add different colours to the candy to brighten them up but she did ration our portions. We would hold each piece in our hands and slowly nibble on them, just to make the taste last longer.


So when I came across a Coconut Candy recipe in one of my cookbooks, memories came flooding back. Wouldn't it be great to make some for Christmas and colour them in red and green - the colour of Christmas. This recipe is so easy to make that any fledging cook could handle it. The candy makes great Christmas baked give-aways and I am sure the child in all of us will enjoy it as well. I hope you enjoy the holidays and wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

candy 2

Coconut Candy


3 cups grated coconut (slightly pressed)
2 1/2 cups sugar
300 ml evaporated milk
2 Tablespoon butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
green and red food coloring


1) Place all ingredients except vanilla extract and food colouring in a saucepan and place over a low flame.

2) Using a wooden spoon constantly stir the ingredients and cook the mixture until it thickens, becomes a lump, leaves the side of the pan and cystalisation begins.

3) Add the vanilla extract and stir well.

4) Remove half the mixture into a bowl. For the mixture in the saucepan, add the red food colour and stir well.

5) In the other bowl add the green food colour and stir well.

6) Line a square 9" x 9" square pan with foil. Lightly butter the foil and then spread one half of the pan with the red candy and the other half with the green.

7) Press down the mixture to compress it slightly. Cool completely before cutting in squares.

candy 1

candy 3

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Sandies

These cookies were on the cover of this month's "Desserts" and the entire magazine featured Christmas cookies. Such a timely publication as well. There was even a section covering popular Christmas cookies from around the world. The issue came out at the right moment as I was having difficulty picking a cookie recipe to bake from. In the end I decided on the Christmas Sandies and Crackle Cookie

xmas sandie 1

For the last three Christmas holidays, I would bake rather than buy gifts. I think a baked gift is so much more personal than a store-bought gift. I guess if you simply cannot bake or cook, you would have no choice but to go shopping. I too used to buy my gifts. The problem I faced each year is planning what to buy. On top of that I also need to remember what I have given in the past so as not to repeat them again. I think when you buy gifts from friends, the rule of thumb is probably buy something that you would use as well.

If you are like me, I am sure you have at one point of time received a gift that was totally useless. Interestingly I had read in the past that the top ten most useless gifts that someone would give includes toiletries, photo frames, towels, mugs, key chains and stuffed toys.


Christmas Sandies
Recipe Adapted from "Desserts Magazine #24)
Makes 36 1-inch cookies
Print Recipe


226g unsalted butter
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
2 tsp finely chopped mixed orange/lemon peel
Coloured nonpareils


1) Preheat oven to 180C. Line cookie baking trays with parchment paper.

2) Cream butter and icing sugar until combined and soft. Add in vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds.

3) Add in flour in 2 separate additions until combined. Add in dried fruits.

4) Shape into 1" size balls and drop each ball into the coloured nonpareils until well coated.

5) Arrange balls 1" apart in the prepared trays. Bake for about 14 - 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let it cool. Store in room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

# The cookie boxes are from Martha Stewart's store.

xmas sandie 2

xmas sandie 4

Monday, December 12, 2011

Banana Walnut Loaf

I love baking with bananas and am always on the lookout for a good recipe to try out. I baked muffins, cupcakes and cakes with this fruit but have yet to make a banana bread.

I tried out this recipe a few weeks back when my parents were in town paying me a visit. As uaual with all my posted recipes, the amount of sugar has been reduced from the original recipe. I used extremely ripe local bananas called "Pisang Emas" (golden bananas) which very flavourful and sweet. The Banana Bread turned out extremely good, moist and with lots of texture.


Banana loaf 5

Banana Nut Bread
Recipe adapted from "Marthastewart.com"
Print Recipe


113g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup of white sugar (already reduced from original recipe)
1/3 cup of brown sugar (already reduced from original recipe)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cups chopped toasted walnuts
1/3 cup chocolate chips, preferably dark chocolate


1) Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan and then line with parchment paper.

2) Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Leave aside.

3) Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffly, about 4 minutes.

4) Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Then add the vanilla extract.

5) Add in the dry ingredients in 2 separate additions and combine. Do not overmix.

6) Then slowly add in the sour cream and bananas and give it a gentle stir. Pour batter into pan and bake for about 45 - 60 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack. You can serve this slightly warm or at room temperature. This loaf keeps extremely well due to the bananas and sour cream.

Banana loaf 3

Banana loaf 2

Banana loaf 4

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pork Chop with Apple and Red Onion Chutney

I must confess that I very seldom cook with pork. I guess this is because my late hubby, LT, never had a liking for this meat. However I was tempted to make some pork chops one weekend when I was doing my weekly grocery run at a local supermarket. The chops looked really inviting and I had just the right recipe for them.

It's funny that most of the pork I see in the local supermarket chiller counters seem to come from Australia. You might think that since Australia is such a distance away from Singapore, the pork cuts would be frozen. Surprisingly they are not! They are chilled just before export to retain its freshness. When meat is kept at a temperature of between 0°C and 4°C, spoiling bacteria doesn't grow on it the way it does at room temperature. If you buy chilled meat and have no plans to cook it on the same day, the meat can be safely frozen to be consumed within the next one or two days. However with frozen pork or other types of meat, once defrosted, it must be cooked immediately.

Did you know that frozen pork is imported into Singapore by sea? Well I didn't. The meat is usually kept at minus 18°C and can be stored at this temperature for up to two years! When it arrives here, it is frozen rock solid, and usually needs to be thawed before it can be sold to consumers. As with most frozen food stuff, the quality and taste of the product will definitely be compromised. That is why most chefs would insist on using the freshest cut of meats when cooking.

Some interesting facts about the shelf life of frozen meats when stored in a Freezer of -18°C:

Beef/Veal - shelf life of 12 Months
Lamb/Mutton - shelf life of 6 Months
Pork - shelf life of 6 Months
Poultry - shelf life 12 Months

pork chop 3

Pork Chop with Apple and Red Onion Chutney
Recipe Adapted from "Quick & Easy Workday Dinners"
Serves 4


125g butter
1 medium size red onion, sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into quarters and sliced
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup honey
4 pork loin chops, about 250g each
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
725g cabbage, sliced thinly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1) To make the chutney, melt 50g butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, apples, cloves and honey. Simmer, covered for 10 mins over low heat. Increase heat to medium and cook, uncovered for a further 20 minutes until it resembles a thick chutney. Allow to cool.

2) Season the dhops well on both sides with salt and black pepper. Leave to marinade for 20 mins.

3) Heat oil and 50g of butter in a large frying pan. Cook the chops on medium high heat for 6 - 8 mins on each side or until brown and cooked through. Remove and rest for 2 mins.

4) Melt remaining butter in pan, add the mustard seeds and cabbage. Cook covered over medium high heat, tossing in between for about 12 mins until tender. Season with salt and black pepper.

5) To serve, place a pork chop on each serving plate. Serve with cabbage on the side and a spoonful of the chutney.

pork chop 1

pork chop 2

Friday, December 2, 2011

Red Bean Paste Pau (Azuki Bean Steamed Buns)

I was blog hopping a while back and came across a Pau recipe from my blogger friend, Shirley of Kokken69 . Timing was right as I was trying to find a simple and easy recipe for steamed buns. I guess what caught my eye too was the perfectly shaped bite-size morsels as well as the pretty "stamped" seal on top of each steamed bun.

pau 3

I thought to myself that this recipe would be the one to try out. I must confess that I did not make the red bean filling from scratch as I had left-overs from my Mooncake baking spree sitting in my refrigerator. The filling would be just sufficient for the amount of dough this recipe will create. The steamed buns turned out nicely but as with all steamed goodies, they are best consumed whilst hot. Once the buns turn cold, they turn a bit hard and dry. So always steam any remaining buns prior to consumption. My next project would be to try to nail down a recipe for fluffy steamed BBQ pork buns - like the ones served in Dim Sum Restaurants.

pau 1

Red Bean Paste Pau (Azuki Bean Steamed Buns)
Dough Recipe Adapted from "Dim Sum in Hong Kong"


150g Hong Kong (or Pau) flour
2g dry yeast
2g baking powder
20g caster sugar
75g low fat milk
2g vegetable shortening


1) Place all ingredients into a mixer and blend until smooth at low speed.

2) Ferment for 10 mins at room temperature. Then blend in mixer again for 5 mins.

3) Divide the dough into pieces of 20g each. Roll out to form a round wrapping of about 2 inches in diameter. Try to make the edges a bit thinner than the center of the wrap.

4) Place filling (I used about 35g. Roll the filling to a tight ball before wrapping) in the center of the wrap and pull down the edges gently. Seal the edges tightly, tucking in so that the bun has a nice round top.

5) Proof Pau at room temperature for 45 mins.

6) Steam Pau over boiling water for 15 mins. Serve whilst still warm. Left overs can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed container. To consume, steam for about 5 mins.

pau 2

pau 4
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