Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Passionfruit Bars

There is something about passionfruit that evokes beach, holiday retreats and chilling by the pool.  I am guessing it has to be the sheer name of this fruit. 

Passionfruit is a small, spherical fruit. It is dark brownish purple when ripe,and green when unripe. The fruit contains many small, black seeds covered with the fruit's flesh. It is tart and sweet. The seeds can be eaten or used for various cooking recipes. Because of its unusual taste it is probably used much more in desserts than actual dishes.  It also makes a great fruit juice on its own or as a cocktail, mixed with other fruit juices or alcohol.


Pfruit bar 1

Passionfruit Bars
Recipe Adapted from Use Real Butter

Ingredients for the Base:

300g all purpose flour
70g confectioner’s (icing) sugar
250g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for the Filling:

6 large eggs
320g castor sugar
55g all purpose flour
1/1/2 tsps baking powder
2/3 cup passion fruit puree
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Confectioner’s sugar (for dusting)

For the Base:

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. For the cookie base, mix the flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt in a medium large bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2) Grease thorough a 9x13 baking pan, then place parchment paper on top with sides hanging out (for easier removal of the bar after baking).  Then grease one more time.  Press the dough into the base of a 9×13 baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just golden. Remove from oven.

For the Filling:

1) Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Whisk or beat the eggs until slightly frothy. Gradually whisk in the sugar. Then beat in the flour and baking powder until well-mixed.

  2) Add in the passion fruit purée, lemon juice and whisk or beat until thoroughly combined. Pour the filling over the crust in the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top of the bars are golden brown and the center is firm.

3) Cool completely and refrigerate for a few hours before slicing into squares. Makes 2 dozen 2×2-inch squares.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Dark Chocolate Birthday Cake!

This cake was made early this month for my boss birthday.  For the last 5 years, I have been baking a cake for her B Day whenever she happens to be in town.  This year I made a 3-layer Dark Chocolate Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting ... absolutely delicious and oh so sinful!  Unfortunately I was unable to cut this to show you the layers - so you will just have to make do with photographs of the whole cake itself.


Dark Chocolate Cake


312g plain flour
420g caster sugar
2 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
120 grams unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
150 ml vegetable oil
280 ml buttermilk (make your own using fresh whole milk plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice)
4 eggs at room temperature
260 ml hot strong coffee
2 tablespoons of vanilla


1) Preheat oven to 180°C and grease/ line three 8-inch cake tins.

2) In large bowl, sift in all the dry ingredients. Into another bowl, add all the wet ingredients and give it a quick whisk.  Then add the wet ingredients with the dry and whisk for about 2 minutes until well combined.  The batter will be quite liquid.  Measure out equally and pour into prepared baking tins.

3) Tap the tins on the counter a few times to get rid of the air bubbles.. Bake each layer for about 20-25 minutes, rotating once (if necessary). Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes out barely clean. Refrain from overbaking. Cool completely on a wire rack in the pan before over-turning.

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting
Recipe Adapted from Tish Boyle's "The Cake Book"


6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Put chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl from the pot and set the chocolate aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat at medium speed untl light and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate at low speed, mixing until blended and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase the speed to high and beat until slightly aerated, about 2 minutes.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Irish Love Affair with Rachel Allen

Last Saturday I attended a paid event show-casing one of my many favourite chefs, Rachel Allen. Her latest program which is currently aired on BBC Lifestyle is called "Rachel Allen: Easy Meals".

Born and raised in Dublin, Rachel Allen left home at 18 to attend the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. There, she began to hone her skills on food, "growing it, preparing it, cooking it, eating it and,crucially, enjoying it."


In this series, Rachel Allen brings us to her home town and shares her expertise with the audience. Rachel shares the secrets of her approach to delicious but fuss free food, perfect for the hectic lives we lead, through a collection of simple but sumptuous recipes.  Each show is themed around a particular occasion or cuisine: Oriental Feast; Sunday Lunch; Take a Few Ingredients; Easy Indian; Lazy Sunday Mornings; Cooking for a Crowd; Quick Easy Baking; Romantic Dinners; Middle Eastern Spice; Cook Ahead; Speedy Sunshine Food; Inspired Italian; Easy Christmas.

I have seen a few of the show's series and I love the simplicity of the dishes she whips up. She also gives tips about ingredients as well as information on how ingredients are grown as well as a visit to a local cheese factory, how local sausages and meats are cured and made.




The event was organized by Starhub, a local cable network provider.  About 170 people attended the function, all foodies for sure. Heh if you weren’t you definitely would not be there would you?  It was held at The Jewel Box, a splendid venue which is atop Mount Faber with commanding views of Sentosa Island. I was even vowed by their washrooms as it too had full height glass windows (with the exception of the toilet cubicles) and an amazing view of Sentosa skyline.


During the two and half hours, Rachel Allen interacted with the audience and she even had an omelette cooking competition going with two participants from the audience, both of whom received a personal signed copy of her “Easy Meals” cookbook.




The meal served that night was a scrumptious three course dinner from Rachel’s cookbook. She even demonstrated one dish which was the Apple Tart. The recipe for the tart dough seems so easy and the pastry was amazing. I was expecting the bottom crust to be slight soggy as it was a closed tart and no blind-baking was done. But the pastry was not soggy at all – in fact it was so soft and crumbly … simply delicious!

Overall I loved how the event went. Maybe I am bias because I do like Rachel Allen. Her personality was exactly how I had imagined her to be … easy going, ultra friendly and very approacheable.

Salad with Beetroot, Toasted Hazel Nuts and Cashel Blue Dressing - for starters


Roast Duck with Gravy and Sage and Onion Stuffing Served with Cucumber Pickle, Buttered Cabbage and Granny's Roast Herbed Potatoes - for the main


Apple Tart - to round off the whole evening

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