Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mushroom, Zucchini and Bacon Quiche

Before I start rambling off, I would like to congratulate the following bloggers on winning a pair of wine holders which I am giving away in celebration of my first blog anniversary:

Kitchen Flavours of Yummy Food
Pam of For the Love of Cooking
Ramya of Passion for Cooking – Memory Achieved

Now back to items at hand! I had been on a look out for a suitable quiche recipe for some time now. I wanted my first attempt at it to be a successful one (fingers crossed of course). I thus browsed through the many cook books I was able to get my hands on from the public library as well as expanding my search into cyber space. I'm basically a "sight" baker and cook. "Sight" in the sense that I am drawn to pictures of food that are beautifully photographed, lots of colour and great presentation. Even when buying cook books, the first thing that draws me are the photographs. I'm not sure if you are like me.

Anyway I finally settled on a combination of a few recipes for this particular quiche. I used a 7" tart pan and the remmant was used to fashion out 3" quiche tartlets. One thing great about quiche is that you can practically use any ingredients as the filling. And I do mean practically any. Just imagine the number of combinations you could conjure up. You could end up baking a quiche every other weekend of the year. By which time you're probably not want to look at a quiche for the rest of your life.

In case I forget to add my review on this recipe, it has the thumbs up both from myself and my hubby. We had it for our Sunday dinner with a side salad.

Mushroom, Zucchini and Bacon Quiche
Makes a 9" tart - serves 8

For the Shortcrust Pastry:

2 cups self-raising flour
2 Tbsp ice cold water
120g cold butter, cubed
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

For the Filling:

3 Tbsp olive oil
200g streaky bacon, diced
1 cup fresh brown mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 cup zucchini, cubed
1 onion, finely chopped
6 - 7 baby tomatoes (sliced in half)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
250ml thickened cream
5 large eggs, lightly beatened
1 tsp of mixed Italian herbs
salt and pepper to taste


To make the Pastry:

1) Shift the flour into a bowl. Add in the cubed butter, olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste) and using your finger tips (or a pastry cutter) rub the mixture until it resembles a breadcrumb mixture.

2) Gradually add the ice cold water and mix into the crumbs until it the mixture comes together.
3) Knead until smooth but don't over handle the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4) Preheat oven to 200°C. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 9 inche pie tin with removable base. Trim the edges.

5) Line the base of a tray with non-stick baking paper and fill with rice or baking beans. Place on the tray and bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and rice.

6) Brush the pastry with a little of the egg mix and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Then prepare the filing for the quiche.

To make the Filing:

1) Heat oil in a pan. Add the bacon and cook until lightly browned. Then add in the chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes (until onions are transparent).

2) Throw in the vegetables. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are slightly soften.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the cream and eggs together. Then add in the seasoning.

4) Spoon the vegetables into the partially baked tart. Then pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Randomly spread the halfed tomatoes (faced down) over the tart. Then sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the quiche.

5) Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until just set (test with skewer).

6) Serve warm on it's own or with a side salad.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Strudeling with the Daring Bakers

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of Make Life Sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks . They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I remember about 8 years or was it 10, my memory fails me now, when Apple Strudel became a craze here in Singapore. As there were only so few outlets which would sell these desserts, people would queue for ages on weekends just to take one home. And you guess right, I too was one of those. It’s often said that a favourite past-time for Singaporeans is to queue for anything that is new, be it food, a new product, a new restaurant … basically anything that is new! I guess the craze has now waned off as I don’t see that much excitement hanging out in strudel shops. Maybe we’ve had enough of it or maybe that so many have now sprung up over the island, that it may be a case of one too many! Whatever it is, a strudel is a great dessert to serve at a dinner party or simply to treat yourself once in a while. The strudels we get here in the shops look more like mille fueille (open faced) rather than the ones that are being baked by Daring Bakers this month.

I had actually wanted to come up with two variations this month, i.e. a sweet and a savoury strudel. However time was against me and thus had to settle for one only. Instead of using the recipe provided, I used a pretty similar recipe for the filing. We loved eating this strudel especially warm from the oven, the crispy outer layer and the infusion of the sweet and tart fruit filing inside ... simply delicious! Many thanks to Linda and Courtney for coming up with a recipe to challenge us all.

Apple, Blueberry and Cranberry Strudel

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

For the Strudel Filing:

70g fresh breadcrumbs
170g butter, melted
150g brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 granny smith apples, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cut chopped walnuts


1) In a frying pan, lightly fry the fresh breadcrumbs in 70g of the melted butter until golden. Set aside to cool.

2) Preheat the oven to 190C (375F). Line a large baking tray with parchment and lightly grease it. Place a rack in the middle of the oven.

3) Make the strudel dough as described in the recipe below.

4) In a large mixing bowl, toss together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon rind. Then add in the fruit and walnuts and mix well. Add ½ teaspoon of flour into the filing to absorb some of the juices that will come out. This will prevent the strudel from becoming soggy whilst baking.

5) Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the filing about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip.

6) Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

7) Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Using a small sieve, dust with a fine layer of icing sugar. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

For the Strudel Dough
Recipe from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar


1) Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.

2) Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

3) Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.

4) Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

5) It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.

6) Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

7) The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.


- Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn't come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;

- The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster;

- Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;

- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;

- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Celebration Bread

I've been eyeing this particular bread recipe for a few months now. I told myself every other weekend that I should really put aside some time to try this recipe especially since I love fruit loafs. After much toying around I decided this was the weekend to get cracking at it! Also it's been ages since I last made bread and I must confess that I'm really not that great at it. If you don't have a breadmaker, like myself, you really have to put aside half a day or more to do this. For this particular recipe, I decided to use my Kitchenaid to do all the kneading ... heh isn't this easy!

The proofing took a few hours but I was able to do my other household chores in-between the waiting time. By late evening (nearly sunset and I thought I'd share a picture of it from my apartment window ) I was rewarded not only with the smells of bread baking in the oven, I also had the end result of two absolutely delicious fruit loafs. It's no wonder that this recipe is called "Celebration Bread". It surely was an afternoon to celebrate as far as I was concerned.

Celebration Bread
(Makes two loafs)

Ingredients :

3 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 packet (7g) dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp orange extract
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup of milk, at room temperature (I used low fat milk)
1/4 ~1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
1/2 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, whisked until frothy, for egg wash


1) Heat 1/4 cup water to 105°F~115°F (Do not exceed 115° or the yeast will die). Sprinkle active dry yeast on the surface of warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let it stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes. You will see a froth form on the top it, and you can also smell the yeast.

2) In a separate bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt.

3) Gradually stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) flour mixture into the yeast bowl. Add the orange extract, eggs, milk, and butter. Adding the remaining water, if needed, to make a soft, pliable ball of dough.

4) Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook) for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and only slightly tacky, but not sticky. It should have a soft, pliable quality, not stiff and resistant. If it is too stiff, knead (or mix) in small amount of water until it softens; if the dough seems too sticky, sprinkle in small amounts of flour as needed.

5) Add the dried cranberries, raisins and dried fruit and knead (or mix) for another 2 minutes, or until they are evenly distributed. Then gently knead (or mix) in the walnut pieces until they are evenly distributed. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

6) Proof the dough at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. Punch down the dough to release the gas, fold the edges of dough to the center.

7) Transfer the dough to the counter and divide it into 2 equal pieces to fit 2 loaf pans (8" x 4" size). Place the dough into the pans and brush lightly with oil.

8) Proof at room temperature for about 90 minutes, or until the dough nearly doubles in size. Brush the loaf a second time with the remaining egg wash. Preheat the oven to 325°F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

9) Bake for approximatel 163C (325F) for 40-45 minutes or until the loaf is deep golden brown, feel very firm, and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. The internal temperature at the center of the loaf should register between 185~190°F.

10) Remove the bread from the pan and transfer it to a cooling rack. Allow the bread to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mile-High Devil’s Food Cake

This month's Cake Slice Bakers choice by popular vote is the Mile High Devil's Food Cake. There are many versions of this popular chocolate cake and each recipe will have a uniqueness about it. To me this particular recipe is different because of the creaming method. In fact inside this book "Sky High" to which Cake Slice Bakers are baking from, you will find a number of recipes which adopts this particular creaming method. I particularly don't own a copy of this book but guess what, I recently ordered one from Amazon and it will reach me by end of June. I can hardly wait.

As usual I scaled down the recipe to a 4" triple layer cake. The cakes baked off nicely in the oven although 2 of them had a slight crack on the top. I told myself not to worry too much as I can always level the slices and cover them with frosting. After cooling for about 20 minutes, I noticed that the sides had developed a cracked rim as well and when I took the cakes out from the pan, the sides well off. The crumbs were extremely soft and I mean soft. I could not possibly assemble this at all. So instead of calling off this challenge all together I decided to use my 3 1/2" ring moulds to cut out smaller cakes. So I'm now down to a 3 1/2" triple layer cake .. ever heard of something like this before? Haha! As the cake was so small, I decided to just use whipped thickened cream with a tablespoon of icing sugar as the frosting. However I must say that the cake is extremely, extremely good and chocolatey. If you decide to eat it the next day, the cake will be a bit more dense due to the refrigeration, but still very yummy!

Check out my fellow Cake Slice Bakers for more beautiful creations of their triple layer cakes.

Mile-High Devil’s Food Cake
From: Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes By Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake


1 cup of unsweetened cocoa NOT DUTCHED PROCESSED
1 1/4 cups of hot water
3 cups of light brown sugar; packed
2 and 2/3 cups cake flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of salt
255g unsalted butter at room temperature [2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons]
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of cold water

{*1 cup of cake flour is equal to ¾ cup of flour plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch}


1) Preheat the oven to 325F(162C). Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and grease the paper as well.

2) Place the cocoa in a medium bowl and add the hot water. Whisk until smooth and let it cool to room temperature.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low blend to combine. Add the butter and the dissolved cocoa. Then raise the mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

4) In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and cold water until combined. Add this liquid to the batter in three additions scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Divide the batter among the three pans.

5) Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a cakes tester inserted into the almost comes out clean. There should be a few crumbs attached still. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Then invert and remove parchment paper and cool completely on a wire rack.

Bakers’ choice of: Brown Sugar 7-Minute Frosting or Brown Sugar Buttercream

Brown Sugar 7-Minute Frosting

6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup*
2 tablespoons of water
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar

{*corn syrup can be substituted with equal parts of treacle OR liquid glucose OR light colored honey}

Do not try to make this frosting on a rainy day or if you live in an extremely humid area. The humidity will make it impossible to work with the egg whites.

1) Place all the egg whites in a bowl and set them aside while you make the syrup.

2) In a small heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Boil until the syrup reaches 238 degrees F (softball stage) on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from heat.

3) Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites in the bowl and beat just to combine. With the mixer on medium speed gradually add the syrup in a thin stream taking care not to hit the beaters. Beat until fairly stiff peaks form but the frosting is still spreadable. If the frosting is too stiff it will be hard to work with. Use immediately.

Brown Sugar Buttercream

5 egg whites
1 1/4 cups of packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of water
453g (16 oz) of unsalted butter (16 ounces) at room temperature

1) Place all the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer; set aside.

2) In a heavy medium saucepan combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then bring to a boil without stirring and cook until the syrup reaches 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

3) Begin beating the egg whites on medium low speed. Slowly pour in the syrup making sure not to hit the beater. Increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.

4) With the mixer on med-low add 1-2 tablespoons of butter at a time. When all the butter has been added increase the mixer’s speed to medium and beat until the mixture looks curdled or separated. Continue to beat until the icing comes together again looking like soft smooth whipped butter.

Assembling the cake:

Place one layer flat side down and cover it with 2/3 cup of the frosting. Top with second layer and repeat process. Top with third layer and frost the sides of the cake.

Bakers Notes:

** A cake topped with the meringue frosting is the best the day it’s made. It does not do well in the fridge.

** If you choose the buttercream frosting you can keep it in the fridge for 3 days. Make sure to allow the cake to
come to room temperature for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Otherwise the frosting will be hard and heavy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mixed Berry, Maple Syrup & Oat Muffins

I have not made muffins for ages now and felt in need of a couple for breakfast the next morning. One thing great about making muffins is that you won't have a whole lot of cleaning up to do. Another plus point is that it'll really take you half the time as compared to baking a cake or cupcakes.

As I have a huge jar of oats left plus frozen berries in the fridge, I decided to try out this particular recipe. I would now buy berries whenever they are on offer and freeze them for future use. It's really handy for times like this or when the urge to make a berry crumble for dessert comes to mind.

Mixed Berry, Maple Syrup & Oat Muffins


1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1 cup oats, plus extra for topping
1/3 cups chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup low fat milk
60g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 maple syrup, warmed
1 egg
250g frozen mixed berries (blueberries,raspberries & blackberries)


1) Preheat oven to 180C. Line a cup muffin or cupcake tray with paper liners.

2) Sift flour into a large bowl. Stir in oats, sugar and walnuts. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

3) In a jug, whisk together milk, butter, syrup and egg. Add to dry ingredients, mixing lightly until just combined. There will be a few pockets of flour but don't worry. This gives the charactistic muffin texture. Fold in berries.

4) Spoon evenly into prepared pan until 3/4 full. Sprinkle with the additional oats.

5) Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden and cooked when tested. Cool on wire rack. Store in an airtight container - these freeze well.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lemon Macarons with White Chocolate Buttercream

It has been ages since my first attempt at making macarons and as I had some left-over egg whites, I decided to bake up a batch. Macarons are such a treat even though they can be a bit finicky to make. This is really my second attempt and I am still getting some cracked tops and "feet" which seem to extend a lot more than required. Even though they don't really look like the smooth, well rounded and neat macarons I've seen on many blogs, these still taste great.

Lemon Macarons with White Chocolate Buttercream
Recipe Adapted from Tartelette
Makes between 30 to 40 macarons

For the macarons shells:

90 gr egg whites (from about 3 egg)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds
2 tablespoons lemon zest


1) For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge.

2) In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.

3) Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like lava or a thick ribbon.

4) Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

5) Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets.

6) Sprinkle with the lemon zest. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.

7) Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy.

8) Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of butterceam in the center of one shell and top with another one.

White Chocolate Buttercream

226g unsalted butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
170g white chocolate (I used valhora white chocolate)
3-5 tablespoons whipping cream or half-and-half

In a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners sugar at low speed until fluffy.
Add in melted and cooled white chocolate and whipping cream (start with 3 tablespoons and add in more to achieve desired consistancy). Beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes, scraping the bowl with a spatula.

Monday, May 11, 2009

An Anniversary, A Birthday and a Gift Away

Slightly more than twelve months ago, 27 April, 2008, to be exact, I decided that I wanted to start a blog and pen down my experiences as a fledging baker. Now twelve months have passed and I am now celebrating my blog's first anniversary. I really cannot believe I've learnt so much since then, tried out so many recipes, had the pleasure of meeting so many talented bloggers, joined Daring Bakers and Cake Slice Bakers.

As I take a look at the number of recipe folders I've created in my computer's hard drive, the numerous pictures taken, the recipes tried and tested, I shake my head in disbelief and realize I've certainly come a long way. I've no regrets todate, although sometimes I struggle to think of what I'll be cooking or baking over the weekend. Don't get me wrong, it's not stressful thoughts but rather thoughts of so many recipes to try out there ..... which should I pick!

So in celebrating my blog's first anniversary, I would like to give away a set of wine bottle holders (wine not included) to three lucky bloggers. The wine holders come in a set which actually resembles a male and female chinese costume. The costumes are called qípáo. However they are probably better known as "changshan" for the male costume and "cheongsam" for the female costume. All you need to do is leave a comment in this post and make a link of this gift away in your blog. Three lucky bloggers will be randomly picked by my hubby (he is definitely non-bias as he doesn't read my blog). You have until next Wednesday, 20 May to leave a comment - make sure that I am able to contact you in the event you are one of the lucky three.

In addition to celebrating my blog's first anniversary, we also celebrated Milo's fifth birthday. He is my younger Shitzu and a very playful one at that. He is a real cutie pie and extremely lovable. I don't think there is a single mean bone in his body. He simply thinks everyone is a friend. Every time my hubby and I come back to the apartment, Milo will greet us at the door with happy whimpers and his ears will be curled back behind his head. To celebrate his B DAY I made him a special treat.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Tart

I had quite a bit of buttermilk left over from making a chicken dish recently and rather than waste it (you know the phrase "waste not, want not"), I searched for a recipe that called for buttermilk. Actually there are quite a number of desserts ranging from cakes, cupcakes, bread and tarts. So I narrowed this down to a tart which I have not made before. This recipe is completely new to me, including the tart dough. Todate I've only baked off using Dorie Greenspan's recipe, so it's about time I extend my range. In making this tart, I split the process over 2days. By the way, this is one of my "mid-week" baking sprees and I do have this pretty often. Instead of doing one large tart, I baked these in individual 3 1/2" tart moulds and managed to squeeze 7 tartelettes in total from below recipe. The tart pastry was made first unbaked and kept overnight in the fridge. The next day, these were baked followed with the filing.

I also did a variation to the original recipe. Half the tartelettes had blueberries in the filing before being transferred into the oven to bake. The other half were baked with just plain filling. These were then topped with a fresh blueberry and apricot preserve compote. These tartalettes can be served either slightly warm or cold. We had them warm and they were absolutely delicious.

Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Tart
(makes a 10" tart or seven 3 1/2" tartelettes)

For the Shell:

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
113g (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into little bits
1 large egg yolk beaten with 2 TBsp ice water
Raw rice or beans (or baking weights) for weighting down the shell

For the Filling:

1 cup buttermilk **
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp freshly-grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
56g (1/4 c) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups blueberries
Icing sugar for sprinkling

** If you do not have buttermilk in your refrigerator, you don't need to run out purposely to buy a carton. Use the following method to make your own buttermilk.

1 cup of milk (less 1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice
Add both together and let stand for five minutes before using it.

Make the shell:

1) Stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and blend until it resembles coarse meal. Add yolk mixture and toss until the liquid is incorporated. Form dough into a ball. Dust with flour and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 1 hour.

2) Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Fit into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim. Chill shell for at least 30 minutes or, covered, overnight.

(If you're making the tart all at once instead of chilling the crust overnight, this is a good point to melt the 1/2 stick of butter for the filling -- doing it now will give it time to cool off before adding it to the filling later)

3) Line shell with foil and fill the foil with rice. Bake shell in the middle of a preheated 180C (350C) oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and rice carefully and bake the shell for 5 - 10 minutes more, or until pale golden. Let it cool in the pan on a rack.


Make the filling:

1) In a blender or food processor, blend the buttermilk, yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice, butter, vanilla, salt and flour. Blend until smooth. Spread blueberries over the bottom of the tart shell and pour buttermilk mixture over top.

2) Bake tart in the middle of a preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until filling is just set. (If you are making mini tarts, the baking time should be around 25 minutes or so)

3) Let tart cool completely in the pan on a rack. Then sprinkle with powdered sugar, sifted, and serve at room temperature or chilled, with ice cream if desired. Tarts can be refrigerated for up to 2 days - store in containers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lime Melts

I came across this recipe and had wanted to try this out for ever so long. It's such a simple recipe and it very much reminded me of melting moments. However I wasn't sure until I had made them. I must admit that I've come across lemon cookies but not a particular recipe that uses limes instead. You may want to take note that if you should ever come across any key limes (unfortunately we don't have this here in Singapore), use them instead of ordinary limes. The melts are suppose to taste even better. The best part about these cookies is that the dough, once rolled into logs, can be frozen for up to two months. So whenever you feel like having a melt craving, just place one of the logs from the freezer into the the fridge section the night before baking. This will help to thaw out the dough whilst you sleep. Isn't this great!

Lime Meltaways
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Yield: 5 dozen


169g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Grated zest of 4 tiny or 2 large limes (if you have key limes, use them as I've heard that the cookies will taste even better)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (a.k.a. 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt


1) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.

3) Between two 8-by-12-inch pieces of parchment paper, roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour. (I placed my logs into the freezer for about 25 minutes as I really didn't have time)

4) Heat oven to 176C (350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.

5) Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, just three or four minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fresh Basil Pesto

My husband has scored again this weekend ... now don't you think of anything that is naughty! I meant to say that I've decided to try out a new pasta dish (one of his fav foods). Something simple and entirely very fresh .... a fresh basil pesto. I was searching through Tastespotting and there are quite a few recipes found in their site. By the way if you have not discovered Tastespotting, where have you been all this time! There is a wealth of recipes in this online library and you get to discover this huge group of talented bloggers from all over the world as well.

I finally settled on a recipe from David Lebovitz and decided to try his method of making pesto. Instead of using a food processor as with most recipes I had come across, David used a mortar and pestle to pound all the ingredients. I thought to myself I could do this. Back home in Malaysia, when we were very young, my mum would make curry paste by pounding all the ingredients in a mortar. This is the traditional way and the pounding action brings the ingredients together. Somehow or other, the curries always tasted more delicious using this old fashion method. But nowadays, who has the time to do this especially when a food processor does the trick in less than 2 minutes. However I must agree that the old fashion method does build up some (not a whole lot though) biceps. I had bought my mortar and pestle about 6 years ago when I was back home in Malaysia and so far have not used it very often. I learnt recently from a local cook program, that the best way to season a new pestle is to pound it with some cooked rice for about 10 to 15 minutes. The cooked rice will help to pick up any residual sand or dust particles from the new pestle. After that just rinse the pestle with some warm water and you are ready to go.

I used the pesto for a simple penne dish topped with freshly grated parmesan, with a side of streaky bacon and a plate of toasted garlic bread .. simply delicious!

Fresh Basil Pesto
Recipe from David Lebowitz
(Makes about 1 cup - serves 4)


2 cloves garlic, peeled (I used an extra 2 cloves and the pesto had a distinct bite to it. Suggest you use 2 cloves only)
3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
5 cups (20g) loosely-packed fresh basil leaves (washed and dry)
5 Tbsp (75ml) olive oil
2 ounces (60g) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (30g) pine nuts, toasted (I toasted mine in a frying pan, too lazy to turn on the oven)


1) Smash the garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle until smooth.

2) Coarsely chop the basil leaves, then add them to the mortar and pounding them into the garlic as you add them.

3) Once well-mashed, when they've become a fairly-smooth paste, pound in the olive oil, adding it a spoonful at a time, until well-incorporated.

4) Lastly, pound in the cheese, then the pine nuts.

5) Continue mashing everything for a few minutes until the pesto is as smooth as possible.


Fresh pesto should be served within a day or two after it's made. Otherwise the garlic can become overpowering. It can also be frozen for a few months, if well-wrapped.

If using a mini-chopper, or similar device, simply blitz all the ingredients together until as smooth as possible.

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