Monday, March 28, 2011

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

A few weeks back whilst at a local supermarket, I happened to bump into a friend of mine whom I have not seen for years. However we do keep in contact through Facebook. That's the best thing about social networking sites because you are in touch with people you know without having to be physically in the same place at the same time. But then again there's the downside about it - everyone seems to know what you are up to and there is no where to hide!

lemon meringue 4

My friend's eight year old daughter had been bugging her for a pet dog and the standard reply has always been "no, you can't have one because your baby brother is on the way". My friend is currently pregnant with her third child. Later that evening I received a text message from my friend asking if she could bring her daughter over to my place on the weekend to help me bath my two dogs. Her mother thought it would be a good idea for her to learn how much work goes into taking care of pets. Plus hopefully this fantasy goes away.


Mind you, keeping a pet is not easy. Your pets are for life and I truly believe this! Pets are not to be bought on an impulse, just because they are cute and then when the novelty wears off, they are discarded or abandoned. In Singapore, this is happening so often and the shelters are always full. I told my friend sure, come over for tea as well, and I’ll bake some treats. I think her little girl had fun that afternoon and I know my two dogs did as well.

lemon meringue 2

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

Recipe for Tart Shell

For the Lemon Curd Filling

3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of cornflour/cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of cold water 3 to 4 lemons, the juice and finely grated zest
3 egg yolks, beaten
50g unsalted butter

For the Meringue topping:

4 egg whites
1/2 cup of castor sugar

To make the Lemon Curd Filling:

1) Place the sugar, cornflour, cold water and finely grated zest in a medium-sized saucepan.

2) Over a gentle flame heat the curd, stirring continuously until it begins to thicken.

3) Add the beaten eggs and butter and continue to heat and stir through until very thick.

4) Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, adding more to taste as desired. Pour the lemon curd into the cooled cooked pastry shell and top with the meringue.

To make the Meringue:

1) In a very clean and large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer place the 4 egg whites. Whisk until soft peaks form and then gradually add in the sugar a little at a time until the meringue is thick, smooth and glossy and all of the sugar has dissolved.

2) Spoon or pipe the meringue over the lemon curd filled pie shell. Use a hand-held blow torch to crisp up the meringue. If you don't have one, place under an oven grill but watch carefully in case the meringue burns too quickly.

lemon meringue 1

lemon meringue 3

Friday, March 25, 2011

Leek, Pepper and Bacon Risotto

I'm not much into risotto but as I had some short grain rice which I didn't want to waste, I decided to cook up a small serving of it. This simple recipe cannot be any simplier. All you need is just time!

Risotto is actually an Italian dish that takes a longer time than cooking normal rice. When it is done well, this dish has a rich, creamy texture, with each individual grain of rice standing out clearly and having a hint of a bite, rather than being soft or mushy. Nowadays risotto also comes in pre-packed boxes and you can find this in most good grocers. All you need to do is just add water. But with most instant meals, the essence of preparing it and having fresh flavours is totally gone altogether.

leek risotto 3

Making risotto may sound like a complicated process to a newcomer. I personally don't think it is. It starts with frying rice with the ingredients until everything is well coated. The white wine is added and the mixture is continually stirred until the wine has evaporated. Next, broth is added in small amounts at a time, whilst continuously stirring the rice. The entire cooking time can take between 20 to 30 minutes depending on the quantity of rice being cooked.

leek risotto 4

Leek, Pepper and Bacon Risotto
Serves 4
Recipe Adapted from "Good Food" Magazine


1.5 litres of canned unsalted chicken stock or home-made stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 streaky smoked bacon rashers, cut into pieces
300g arborio rice (or short grained risotto rice)
125ml white wine
1 small red pepper, cut into thin strips
1/3 cup of frozen green peas
4 large leeks, sliced diagonally (about 1/2" thick)
50g grated parmesan
1 bunch of chives, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste


1) Heat up your stock and keep it warm.

2) Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside.

3) Turn the flame to medium. Stir in the leeks, frozen peas and red pepper in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in all of the wine and keep stirring until all the wine has been absorbed.

4) Then add the chicken stock into the rice, one large ladle at a time. Stir and wait until all the stock has been absorbed before adding another ladle. Continue to do this for about 25 minutes until the rick is just cooked and the risotto resembles a creamy consistency.

5) Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Then stir in the bacon, parmesan and chives, saving some of each for garnishing. Serve immediately.

leek risotto 1

leek risotto 1

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A French Toast Breakfast

There is really nothing better than waking up on a Sunday morning to be welcomed by a plate of delicious warm french toast with maple syrup, fruit and a dollop of my faviourite jam on the side. I love having breakfast such as this.

In fact I think an English breakfast gets me moving faster than an Asian one! Heh I'm Asian right so I should be having my fried beehoon, or porridge or chee kueh .... shouldn't I? When on holidays, the best meal of the day for me would have to be breakfast, especially a buffet spread (ok I love stuffing my face). I thoroughly enjoy moving from one station to another, spread out with fresh fruit, cereal, cold cuts to the guy who keeps flipping sunny side eggs to scrambled eggs. My knees go jello at the sight of this and I would methodologically start with my fresh juice, to fruit and work my way to the main spread of eggs, sausages and pancakes.

Well it's been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so what's your favourite breakfast dish?

fren toast 1

fren toast 3

French Toast
Serves 3 - 4


8 slices of Brioche loaf, cut into about 1" thick
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream (can be omitted)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Maple syrup, jam and fresh fruit to serve


1) Place eggs, milk, cream salt, vanilla extrct, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl. Whisk to combine well. Soak the brioche into the egg mixture.

2) Preheat a large frying pan over medium fire. Add about 1 tablespoon oil and about 1 1/2 tablespoon butter.

3) Fry the brioche for about a minute of each side until golden brown. Do not overcrowd your pan. Repeat with the remaining slices.

4) Serve immediately with maple syrup, jam and your favourite fresh fruit.


fren toast 2

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cheese, Olive and Buttermilk Herb Bread

When I first saw the photos of this bread from "Mix & Bake", I immediately knew I had to try out this recipe. It is a non-yeasted bread and the texture is different from a regular loaf of bread. In fact, it is somewhat dense loaf but I guarantee you that it is ever so delicious. I am even dreaming (and salivating as well) of it again as I write this post. This loaf has a scrumptious flavour of two types of cheeses. Not forgetting the rest of the other delicious ingredients that's added to the batter. I must forewarn you that the smell from the oven whilst the loaf is being baked may drive you to stand in front of the oven waiting for the timer to ring.

buttermilk bread 1

Just imagine having a slice of this with a hearty bowl of soup or maybe serve it on the side with a delicious salad. Left overs are great when lightly toasted, hmm that's provided you still have left overs.

This is definitely a recipe keeper. It's so good that my boss has asked for the recipe and she has never done so todate even after sampling my baked goodies for more than a year.

buttermilk bread 2


Cheese, Olive and Buttermilk Herb BreadRecipe Adapted from "Mix & Bake" by Belinda Jeffrey


2 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
60g freshly grated parmesan
60g grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
8 pieces sundried tomatoes, sliced thinly
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup mixture of spring onion and Italian parsley
2 tsp thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
2 eggs
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (or use 1 1/4 cup less 1 Tbsp fresh milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice. Set aside for 10 minutes before using)
Egg wash (optional) made from 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tsp water
Extra thyme springs and sea salt, for topping


1) Preheat oven to 180C or 350F. Generously butter a large loaf tin (23 x 13 x 6cm) and either line it with butter parchment paper or dust with flour. Set tin aside.

2) Sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt, pepper and mustard powder into a large bowl. Whisk with a whisk to incorporate the dry ingredients. Add both cheeses, olives, sundried tomatoes, spring onion, parsley and thyme and stir them thoroughly together.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the oil and buttermilk until they are well combined.

4) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir together to form a thick, sticky batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly.

5) Brush the top of the batter with the egg wash and then srpinkly some thyme leaves and sea salt onto the loaf.

6) Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. If the top starts to burn, place a piece of foil to cover the top of the loaf and continue baking. Leave in tin for 5 minutes before turning ot onto a wire rack.

7) This loaf is best served on the same day. Wrap left overs tighly and store in fridge. Gently reheat in oven if serving left overs.

buttermilk bread 3

buttermilk bread 7

buttermilk bread 5

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lamb Cutlets with Mint Gremolata

I hardly cook lamb at home and can probably use the fingers on one hand to count the number of times I have actually done so. But I do occassionally order a lamb dish when dining outside. I know some folks can't stand eating lamb (maybe it's an Asian thing). They say that lamb has a strong gamey smell and no matter how you cook it, they simply cannot eat it. I personally don't have that issue, be it cooked in curries or western dish.

As I was cooking for myself only on a Sunday evening, I decided to buy a couple of lamb cutlets rather than a french rack. I think lamb cooked in a roast or grilled should be eaten immediately. The meat tends to get a bit tougher the next day. However if it was a curry dish, to me it always taste better the next day. This particular recipe was so easy to do that it was ready in less than 30 minutes. It's a simple dish but I think quite elegant to serve if you are having guests over. Best of all, you really don't have to slave behind a stove and get all sticky and flustered.

lamb cutlet 3

lamb cutlet 2

Lamb Cutlets with Mint Gremolata
Recipe Adapted from "Quick & Easy Working Dinners" by Periplus
Serves 2


4 french-trimmed lamb cutlets
2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves
1/2 Tbsp flat leaf parsley
1 clove garlic
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste


1) To make the gremolata, finely chop the mint, parsley and garlic together. Add in the lemon zest, combine and set aside.

2) Season the cutlets and leave for about 15 minutes.

3) Heat a chargrill pan to very hot. Lightly brush with the oil. Cook the cutlets over medium heat for 2 minutes on each side, or cook to your preference. Remove and rest the meat for about 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the gremolata on top of the cutlets before serving.

4) Serve the cutlets with your favourite vegetables or sides. I served mine with oven roasted vine tomatoes, seasoned with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Together with this I added pan fried cubed russet potatoes seasoned with a pinch of dried mixed herbs, salt and pepper.

lamb cutlet 4

lamb cutlet 1

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lemon Sugar Cookies

I really do like baking with lemons as it gives such refreshing flavours to baked goodies. So when I stumbled upon this lemon cookie recipe, I simply could not resist and as I've not used lemon in a cookie dough before, the idea was even more tempting. Every so often I'm bugged at work as to why I have not been bringing any goodies to work lately. So a batch of these would definitely work at keeping those "hungry palates at bay"! I must say thought that the cookies turned out great! Extremely light and with a freshing lemon zest flavour.

I made the full recipe posted here and packed them into two separate jars. One to be taken to office and a smaller one to be given to a friend whose birthday had just passed early this week. On the day I brought the lemon cookies to work, I distributed a few around. I guess the cookies must have been really delicious because the cookie jar seemed to have missed a few more lemon cookies the very next morning when I got into the office. A "big rat" and a two-legged one at that must have snucked in and ran off with a few cookies!

lemon cookie 4

lemon cookie 3

Lemon Sugar Cookies
Recipe Adapted from "Taste of Home"
Yields between 36 - 40 cookies


1 3/4 cups white castor sugar
Zest of 2 large lemons
226g unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp lemon extract
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda


1) For the lemon sugar: Combine 1/3 cup sugar with 1 tsp lemon zest in a bowl. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar and break up any clumps. Set aside.

2) For the cookie dough: Sieve flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda in a medium bowl. Use a whisk to mix and set aside.

3) In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with remaining sugar. until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time and beat until well incorporated.. Add lemon extract, lemon juice and reserved lemon zest. Add flour mixture, one cup at a time, blending well after each addition, until all flour is incorporated. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

4) Preheat oven to 180C. Shape dough into balls about 1 1/2 Tbsp in size for eadh cookie. (I used a small ice-cream scoop to do this). Roll the dough in the lemon sugar and place onto lined baking sheets about 3" apart. Flatten the dough to about 1/4" and for 12-14 minutes. The cookie will be slightly soft in the center. if you want a crispier cooker, bake another minute longer but watch out in case it gets too brown.

5) Let cookie sit on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

lemon cookie 1

lemon cookie 2

Monday, March 7, 2011

Asparagus and Sundried Tomato Tart

I love making tarts because I can split the process into two stages, which is what I usually do. I would make the tart shell mid week after work and throw the unbaked shell into my freezer. I would sometimes even forget that I even had the shell in the freezer. Those are the days when weekend becomes a real treat. I usually try to work with smaller shells as it is so much easier to put together and I often cut the recipes into half. In that way I could whip up a variety of tart flavours from one batch of dough.

I have tried a variety of doughs but I often tend to stick to two particular recipes which I find is most suited for sweet tarts and savoury tarts. This particular Pate Brisee recipe is one of them, absolutely flaky and buttery, and most suited for all sorts of savoury tarts.

Asparagus tart 1

asparagus tart 4

Asparagus and Sundried Tomato Tart Recipe adapted from "Savory & Sweet" by Michel Roux


350g Pate Brisee
48 medium asparagus spears
Salt and Fresh ground pepper
5 sundried tomato, thinly sliced
1 medium egg
2 medium egg yolks
200ml heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp mixed dried herbs


1) Roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness and line a loose bottom rectangular tart pan measuring 14" x 4.5" x 1" deep. Chill for about 30 minutes.

2) Preheat oven to 190C. Prink the base of the tart shell and bake blind for about 20 minutes. Lower oven setting to 170C. Remove the beans and paper and return the tart to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

3) Cook the asparagus in boiling salt water until just tender. Drain and refresh in cold water, and pat dry. Trim the asparagus to the width of the pan.

4) Slice the sundried tomatoes, do not use the oil. Line the tomatoes on the bottom of tart shell.

5) Mix the whole egg, egg yolks and cream together in a bowl with a whisk. Add in the mixed herb, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Pour two thirds of the egg mixture in the tart pan.

6) Lay the asparagus over the sundried tomatoes. Carefully spoon the remaining egg mixture over the asparagus. Immediately bake the tart for 30 minutes. Slide the tart onto a wire rack and leave to cool for 20 minutes before unmoulding.

asparagus tart 2

asparagus tart 3

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Marble Molasses Pound Cake and a Little Nap Time ....

This fondant cake design comes from my limited collection of children's fondant books, one of which is by Debbie Brown's "50 Easy Party Cakes". I have not done fondant cakes for a long while now and decided that I had better get at it before I loose my touch. It also gave me a chance to use my bowl shape cake pan which I had bought more than a year ago. I guess I'm the type who buys things and uses only half of them.

I wasn't sure what type of cake to make as its base but something simple would do most nicely. I had struggled between a chocolate cake or a marble cake and finally decided on trying out a new recipe which was a molasses marble cake. It's pretty close to a marble cake except it uses molasses and has the hint of spices, like a Christmas fruit cake. I must say that it is a really, really delicious cake and moist as well, especially since it's a pound cake. Definitely a recipe to used again in the future! As I could not cut the cake to show a cross section of it, I decided to take a picture of it directly from "Southern Cakes" book.

Molasses cake

crib cake 3

Marble Molasses Pound Cake
Recipe Adapted from "Southern Cakes"


2 cups shifted plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
113g unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar (reduced from original recipe)
2 eggs
2/3 low fat milk (you can use regular milk)
3 Tbsp molasses or pure cane syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves


1) Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 9" by 5" loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. The lightly flour the pan, shaking off the excess.

2) Combine flour, baking powder and salt into a flour. Use a whisk or fork to mix well.

3) in a large bowl, beat butter on high until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat for a minute. Then add both eggs into the mixture and continue beating for another 1 or 2 minutes. In-between scrap down the bowl.

4) Add about a 1/3 of flour mixture and beat on low. Stop mixer and add in half the milk and beat to mix. Alternate with the rest of the flour and milk.

5) Scoop out 1/3 of the cake batter into a clean bowl and add in the molasses and spices. Stir to mix well.

6) Spoon each batter into the pan, alternating between the plain and spiced batters. Run a table knife through the batter in a figure eight pattern to swirl the batters together.

7) Bake for about an hour, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly in the center, and until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes in its pan before unmoulding. To loosen cake from pan, run a table knife along the sides. Cool completely, top side up before serving.

crib cake 2

crib cake 1
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