Posted by: Chi Anh | January 11, 2011

Door To My Kitchen has moved!

Dear Readers, Door To My Kitchen has officially found its own home and has been relocated to www.door2mykitchen.com.

All the previous posts will still be available on the new page, with bigger and better graphics. Please check out my new website for the latest cooking adventures from now on, and remember to change that bookmark!

Posted by: Chi Anh | January 2, 2011

2010 in review: Door To My Kitchen

So while the media was so busy reviewing everything else in 2010, I was pleasantly surprised to see my own blog being reviewed by WordPress as well. And guess what they came out with. I did great, according to them! Yay! 12000 hits in less than a year, I guess that’s a number I should be proud of. Too bad I am moving to my own server and will start from scratch with my hit rate, but it’s a new beginning, and a fresh start, ain’t it? I’m really busy getting the website up for you guys before I start work after new year break (which is in 2 days!)

So here goes the review. Hope you guys can give me your own review of my blog as well! What did you like best? Which recipe was your favorite? What can I do to improve this blog?
Last but not least, thanks for your readership. Without you guys, cooking would only be half as fun🙂

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2010. That’s about 29 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 48 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 149 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 35mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was March 30th with 183 views. The most popular post that day was Good food chases Monday blues away: Shrimp Curry Rice.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, sgblogawards.omy.sg, stumbleupon.com, and healthfitnesstherapy.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for pho xao, homemade bruschetta, spaghetti and meatballs jamie oliver, tiramisu, and fresh vegetable salad recipes – jamie oliver.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Good food chases Monday blues away: Shrimp Curry Rice March 2010
4 comments

2

Perfect Cupcakes for Picnics April 2010
6 comments

3

Classic Tomato Sauce Pasta (from Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution”) April 2010
4 comments

4

About Me March 2010
3 comments

5

Awesome Dinner Party: Homemade Baguette & Bruschetta, Roasted Chicken with Apples & Leeks, Smashed New Potatoes with Garlic & Chives, Chocolate Marsala Cake May 2010
4 comments

Posted by: Chi Anh | December 31, 2010

It’s New Year’s Eve… Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011!

I can’t believe this year is really coming to an end. It has got to be the most eventful year in my life so far. My discovery of my passion, the birth of DTMK blog, my big move back to Vietnam, my new work place… all is wrapping up on a good note, and I am eagerly awaiting for 2011 to unfold. Starting with a brand new look for this blog that I have been working on with K aka Brown Fish, my designer and soulmate🙂 I can’t wait to launch it. I am going to buy hosting for my new website by today, and greet the new year with my first ever website. Stay tuned for the launch!

So what are my 2011 new year resolutions? Let’s see…

1. Launch my website

2. Cook & Bake more more more! Feed my family and friends more more more!

3. Read and learn more recipes. It is never enough!

4. Start my Herb garden on my roof top – a project that me and my Parents have been procrastinating since I came back.

5. Be happy and remain purposeful with my life. Never forgetting my real goal and dream, and my blessings.

6. Master motorbike riding in Hanoi. Sigh. I do NOT want to be seen as a loser who does not dare to get out on her own on her bike!

7. An exercise regime that allows me to look slim despite all my eating, cooking and baking.

8. Save money to prepare for my future goals.

9. Get to know more places in Hanoi, especially cultural and good eating places. If you know of any, suggest to me!

10. Last but not least, spend more time with family. It’s never enough after being away for 8 years. We still have lots to catch up. I also need to visit my Sister and her baby in the States next August. Can’t wait!

Finally, I just want to say that I am very grateful for what I have this year. My family, friends, all your support and love, especially your support for my passion. Looking around, there are so many cookbooks and kitchen tools that are given to me by you dears, reminding me everyday that I am not alone in my pursuits. I hope to make you all proud one day! Until then, let’s continue to eat, pray & love🙂

PS: i still haven’t seen Eat, Pray, Love😦 Perhaps I should make it a resolution to watch it in 2011!

Posted by: Chi Anh | December 22, 2010

Carrot Cupcakes

It’s back-to-back cupcake blogging this week, as I have been baking cupcakes for various occasions lately. I still think cupcakes are the best desserts for crowds as it is easy to distribute, not messy, and always cute to look at. This time, I made these adorable Carrot Cupcakes for my office to celebrate the end of my probation period at work. Yes, time flies, it’s already been 2 months working in Vietnam, and the fact I could bake things and bring to work, shows that I am fitting in just fine. And yes, it also means I have found my Vietnamese guinea pigs for my dessert creations! And I think they don’t mind🙂

Back to the Carrot Cupcakes. I’ve always wondered how a vegetable like carrots could go into a dessert, but apparently carrot cakes have been made since the Middle Ages, as carrots add a lot of taste and sweetness to cakes (carrots have more sugar than any other vegetable and hence often used as a natural sweetener back then). Coincidentally, my Mom came home one weekend from the local market with a bunch of fresh organic carrots that looked so fresh, so I decided to hijack them to make Carrot Cupcakes for the first time. My Mom is a health nut so the thought of using Carrots for a dessert was welcomed by her, even though she had no idea how it would taste like. And we were all pleasantly surprised by its taste and texture. The amazing thing is, you won’t taste the carrots at all, only a very rich & sweet taste with a solid, moist texture. It’s a nice change from the light, buttery cupcake batters we are used to. To prepare grated carrots and apples for this cupcake, please use a Food Processor. Don’t bother grating by hand unless you have endless time on your side. I❤ my Food Processor!

Carrot Cupcakes (adapted from joyofbaking.com)

INGREDIENTS

Cupcake:

  • 2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) corn/canola oil
  • 2 cups (210g) finely grated raw carrots
  • 1 cup grated apple (from about 2 large apples)
  • 1/2 cup (55g) walnest, coarsly chopped
  • 1 cup (100g) raisins

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter at room teperature
  • 227g cream cheese, room temperature.
  • 2 – 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C or 350 deg F. Grate the carrots and apples in a food processor. Coarsely chop the walnuts.

2. In a big bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt. In another large mixing bowl, use a stand mixer or electric mixer to whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar until slightly thickened. Fold in the dry ingredients (flour mixture) into the egg mixture until fully incorporated (see picture below).

3. Using a spatula, fold in the grated carrots, apples, raisins and chopped walnuts into the batter. Divide the batter equally into a muffin pan. This batter makes about 20 cupcakes so you will need more than 1 pan. I had to use a 12-pc muffin pan and packed the balance into 8 silicon lined cupcake cups. Remember to fill only up to 2/3 cup, as the batter will rise a lot during baking. As you can see, I filled mine up to the rim and ended up with ultra high-rising cupcakes which I had to shave off slightly to have a flat surface for frosting. Greedy me😛. Bake for about 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out dry.

4. Remove the cupcakes and let cool completely on a wire rack. Using a piping bag, pipe out the frosting on top (as I did) or use a knife/spatula to spread the frosting out on top. To make the frosting, in a bowl, mix the butter with creme cheese using a stand mixer (with paddle attachment) until smooth, then gradually add the icing sugar until fully incorporated.

And tada! You have a gorgeous cake that not only looks good, and also tastes great:

Alright… it’s only 9:41pm now and my I’m already dozing on and off… the cold weather in Hanoi somehow makes me lethargic all the time! I sleep sooo early every night and still don’t seem to feel fresh in the morning. Argh. Hate that feeling. Anyway, gonna head to bed soon. Only 2 more days until Christmas! Can’t wait to roast chicken on Christmas Eve for my parents🙂

Posted by: Chi Anh | December 20, 2010

Orange Chiffon cupcakes with Orange Butter icing

Soooo… as promised, I am back with my FIRST cupcake entry from Vietnam. Though this has been baked awhile back, I haven’t had time to share it with you guys. I made them for my girlfriend’s birthday, but she happened to be down with wisdom tooth ache that day. Luckily my Orange Chiffon Cupcakes were so fluffy and soft that she could still enjoy it! I’ve always had a fascination for Chiffon Cakes or Angle Cakes for its high-rising fluffiness. It’s a perfect light dessert that I could imagine having tea with every day! I plan to make a real Orange Chiffon Cake for New Years day (stay tuned!), but for now, I start small first and try making a cupcake version of it, with a very sweet, tangy Orange butter icing. It was a violent success. The cakes really rose and clung onto the sides of the pan. The recipe suggested not using paper liners to let the cupcakes expand at the top. I tried both and find those inside cupcake paper liners still prettier🙂 What do ya think? (see picture). As the key ingredient/flavor is Orange, I used the very fragrant Vietnamese oranges that Mom buys from the local market. You can usually smell them from miles away. The juice is not so sweet, but since it’s going into a cake, it doesn’t matter. I love all citrus based cakes! Next time I’ll try Lemon Angel Cupcakes!

Orange Chiffon cupcakes with Orange Butter icing (adapted from “Cupcakes” by Elinor Klivans)

INGREDIENTS:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup canola or corn oil
  • 4 large eggs, seperated
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Orange Butter Icing:

  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 160 deg C or 325 deg F. Sift the cake flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and put the oil, egg yolks, water, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla and almond extract in the well. Using an electric mixer (I use the hand mixer for this to save the Kitchen Aid standing mixer for the egg white later), beat the mixture at medium speed until smooth and thick (see picture below). Stop in between to scrape the dry ingredients off the sides of the bowl.

2. In another large clean, dry bowl (absolutely grease-free), with clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Increase to high speed and beat until the egg whites look shiny and smooth, forming soft peaks. Slowly beat in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, then continue beating at high speed for about 1 minute, until stiff peaks form (see picture above).

3. Stir about 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture (see picture above). Then use a spatula to carefully fold in the remaining egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated (be gentle to not lose any volume from the egg whites). Pour the batter into the cupcake tin (about 1/2 cup per hole, don’t be greedy or you’ll end up with oversized cupcakes! ). Bake for 35 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean (see picture below). Let cool completely (about 45 minutes). Use a small knife to loosen the edges of the cupcakes from the pan and carefully remove them (use your finger to rock them back and forth gently inside the pan before releasing them).

4. Make the icing: In a clean bowl, stir the powdered sugar, melted butter, orange zest, and orange juice together until smooth and thick (see pic below). Spread about 1 tablespoon icing on top of each cupcake. Decorate the cupcake with some orange zest, or silver pearls like I did🙂

 

Posted by: Chi Anh | December 19, 2010

2010 in retrospect…

I’m back!

And I mean it for real this time. 2010 is drawing to a close, and I realized I do NOT want to start 2011 NOT blogging. Christmas is coming, and my house is stocked with ingredients I bought to bake Christmas cookies. I can’t wait to start on my first batch of cookies tomorrow!

Looking back, 2010 has been the most eventful year in my life so far. Ups and downs, happy and sad, unions and separations, mark a year of emotional roller coaster rides for me. I did underestimate my move back to Vietnam a bit. After 2 months of overwhelming craze of settling in and adjusting to my new work & life, in the 3rd month back home, I start to feel lost and question my sense of belonging to this place. I start to miss everything about my life back in Singapore, and a sense of loneliness starts creeping into me, as the cold winter rushes into Hanoi. Yes. I have been having a low moment. So I did some soul searching. And as alone as I might feel in this foreign yet familiar land, I am not. I have my family beside me. I have my loving friends who still care for me from overseas, and I have you readers, whom I have unwillingly neglected through the past 3 months. I hope you guys are still out there, are you? Most importantly, I have realized my dream – again. And I am glad that I am taking active steps towards it, starting with the completely revamped Door To My Kitchen website that will be launched by Jan 2011! Yes. I can finally kiss goodbye to my ugly WordPress URL and head down to my own domain.

One thing is for sure. One of the best things that happened in 2010, is Door To My Kitchen🙂 I can’t wait to see how this evolves in 2011!

But for now… I’ll keep myself busy with the tons of recipes that are still waiting for me to discover🙂 I will be bombarding with my new creations next!

Have a happy happy Christmas🙂

Posted by: Chi Anh | September 23, 2010

Stir Fry “Pho” (Pho Xao)

After 1.5 weeks buzzing around settling into my home in Hanoi, I realized I am almost at the end of my 2-week break. And why do I not feel rested at all? I can’t really recall the last time I felt truly rested. This move has really been draining me out. I thought once I get myself across the Vietnam border, all the moving stress would end. Oh how wrong I was. Now all the stress of settling in is just getting started! The Vietnamese are right when they say “Vạn Sự Khởi Đầu Nan” (“all beginnings are difficult” – simple but oh so true). I know I should not say “never”, but honestly, I never want to relocate again. EVER! Now I am still stressed out about my belongings stuck at the Port, waiting to clear customs (I’ve been so busy the past few days just to settle these customs documents alone!). My KitchenAid is probably feeling very lonely in one of the boxes. Sigh… Don’t worry, Mommy will come and get you soon! And hopefully you will get be at your permanent home by this weekend🙂 Ok I should stop talking to my Kitchen Tools and start blogging about all the good food I’ve been enjoying in Vietnam!

So this weekend me and my Mom made many dishes together. One of it was Stir Fry Beef Noodle (Pho Xao). This is one of my favorite “Fast Food” meals at home. As long as your ingredients are fresh, it will taste terrific! But the biggest difference to the taste will be the noodle (Pho). It has to be a good Vietnamese brand (dried ones are ok), made from all natural ingredients only (stay away from those that have a lot of chemicals you can’t pronounce in the Ingredients list). So if you have some green leafy vegetables, some carrots and beef in your fridge, you should be able to have this yummy meal on your table in no time! My parents now are obsessed with eating healthy, so I was allowed to cook only 100g of beef for 3 of us. Supposedly red meat is bad for you and you should only have it twice a week. Gulp. I don’t want to remember how much beef I ate in the same day back in Singapore. Anyway so here it goes…

Stir Fry “Pho” (Pho Xao)


INGREDIENTS (serves 3-4)

  • A pack of Dried Pho noodles (probably a 500g pack)
  • 200 – 300g Beef (Flank steak parts are best for stir frying), cut into thin slices
  • 300g of green leavy cabbage like Bok Choy, Chye Sim (warning: they shrink a lot when cooked, so feel free to use as much as you want), leaves separated from the roots.
  • 2 – 3 medium sized carrots, cut into thin slices about 5 cm in length
  • 1 bunch of Chinese Celery for extra flavor, chopped into 3cm length pieces.
  • Corn Oil or any neutral oil (a few tablespoons each time you stirfry)
  • 2 limes for squeezing upon serving

METHOD:

1. Add about 3 tablespoons of oil a deep non-stick frying pan or a wok, stir fry the beef and vegetables the way you stir fry any other Vietnamese stirfry dish (see “Stir Fry” category on the right). Meanwhile, cook the dried Pho according to package instructions. Take it out when it is al-dente, to avoid the Pho getting soggy when you stir fry it later. See picture below for the Stir Fry dish without the Pho.

2. Using the same pan, add another 4 tablespoons of oil, and add the Pho. Using a wooden spoon or chopstick, try to divide the Pho as much as possible to breakdown the chunks of Pho that stick together. Pour in the natural gravy from the Stir Fry beef & vegetables to wet the Pho and lend it some flavor. Season with salt, fish sauce (only about 3 – 4 spritz) and pepper to taste. Keep stirring the Pho in the pan (see picture) until it dries up a little bit, and has acquired enough flavor and taste (about 15 minutes). Add in the beef & vegetables stir fry into the pan, mix everything up and serve with bottled chili sauce and a piece of fresh lime.

Posted by: Chi Anh | September 20, 2010

Hello Hanoi!

Hi everyone… I’m finally back home safe and sound, still awaiting my massive shipment by boat from Singapore that contains mostly my kitchen tools, but I have been pretty busy in the kitchen with my Mom over the weekend. Despite the shock of being back in the crazy traffic and melting heat, I truly enjoy being back where I came from, eating the food I call true “home” food, and enjoying the freshness of seasonal vegetables and fruits (in Singapore most vegetables and fruits are imported all year round. You sort of lose the notion of “seasons”). Unlike the past years where I would be busy watching TV while my mom prepares the meals, now I’m the one designing the menu together with my Mom, and it’s such a joy to realize that we have this huge passion in common! My mom is now my food stylist as I snap pictures of our delicious creations. It’s so much fun. Can’t believe I’ve been missing out on all this fun.

I still have another week to go before I start work officially, so these days I am taking my time to practice my motobike riding so I can start getting around. It’s a true stress as the traffic is insane, but I’m working on it. My parents have also prepared a big space upstairs on the terrace for our future herb and vegetable garden. I have bought tons of herb seeds (Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Parsley etc) back from Singapore so hopefully I can grow them here and not lose out on my favorite flavors! Trust me, they don’t sell those stuff here. If they do, tell me!

I have also ventured into the supermarkets here in Hanoi, and to my relief, they sell Dijon Mustard, Chickpeas, Pastas. But to my disappointment, I could not find much baking ingredients (icing sugar, brown sugar, caster sugar, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, chocolate chips). Please tell me there are other shops out there that I don’t know of that sells these stuff! Well it’s only been a week here, so I’m sure there are places that sell more imported stuff that I do not know of. The search will start soon! For now, I’ll continue to make local dishes with ingredients sourced from our very own fresh market outside our house! I’ll post our weekend dishes later!

Helloooo my dear dear readers! I know I have personally apologized to many of you whom I have met recently for my abscence. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but I really cannot afford to cook for another few weeks. Why? I’m finally ready to announce this. Door To My Kitchen is officially moving! Where? Back to Vietnam!! Yes. After 8 years of camping out here in Singapore, I am finally returning back to my lovely old town Hanoi, back to my dearest family, and back to the awesome authentic Vietnamese food! With this, I will embark on a new journey, refamiliarizing myself with the Vietnamese culture and food. I might no longer have AFC or Food Network, but I will have my Mom to teach me through all the traditional dishes that has been passed down from generations in our family. I will also finally expose my parents to my own creations of dishes from international cuisines. Most of all, I hope I will have more time to blog! I even plan to have my own kitchen herb garden. I have finally bought my KitchenAid mixer for more serious baking. Yeah… things are getting really exciting! I guess I’m ready for my own domain name too! Stay tuned!

I have another important announcement to make. SIS Sugar (Singapore’s largest Sugar company) has been kind enough to sponsor me their complete collection of sugars (caster sugar, brown sugar, icing sugar) for me to use in my next baking adventure. That is my first collaboration with a commercial entity through this blog, so I am very honoured and excited (not like other popular bloggers who get free stuff all the time!). Thinking of the best way to use this meaningful sugar, I decided to use them for a big baking collabo  with my ex roommate Olivia. She has recently started her very own Cooking/Baking blog as well. Having been besties/roomies since the first days of Uni, I am extremely happy to see her going full time with her kitchen adventures. This is my dream as well and we support each other fully! We embraced the idea of taking the SIS Sugar to create our very own cupcake recipe. Something that would represent our unique friendship and characters. And guess what was born out of an afternoon of baking together: Roomantique cupcakes (Room for ‘roomies’ of course. Cos we were roomies. Duh. The rest is just to make it sound more fancy). These beautiful (and also very tasty) cupcakes are made of light, moist butter sponge cake dotted with lavender and lemon zest, filled with melted dark chocolate, and topped with beautiful meringues. Sounds awesome right? It looked and tasted awesome too! Here’s a sneak peek:

And here is my 3rd announcement (gosh how long IS this entry gonna get??). Me and Oli are gonna put Roomantique cupcakes up for sale, and the proceeds shall go to saving Tiger, a stray community cat, from its current severe conditions. Read more about Tiger here. So not only did we create a unique cupcake recipe out of the SIS Sugar given to us, we are going to use it to feed more happy cupcake lovers and help a cat gain his lungs back. What a way to appreciate free sugar right? More details of the Bake Sale will follow. Meanwhile, if you don’t feel like buying them but rather go through the process of baking these beautiful cupcakes (with your own ex-roomie), feel free to try the recipe! As I am lazy to write the full wordy recipe as usual, this time I’m gonna summarize the entire recipe as Photo collages. After all, a picture says a thousand words! Hope you guys like it!

Roomantique Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS (makes 12 cupcakes)

For Meringue Topping:

  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature (we used free range eggs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (200g) caster white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Cupcake batter:

  • 2 large eggs separated
  • 1 3/4 cups (175g) sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Lemon zest of a lemon, juice of half a lemon
  • A pinch of dried lavender flowers

For the chocolate filling:

  • About 100g of dark chocolate (we used 72% dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream (you can variate the amount of cream depending on your taste)

(Follow the picture order from left to right, top to bottom)

1. In a large, clean & dry bowl, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks.  Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds stiff peaks and looks snow white & shiny. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) plain tip.

2. Squeeze the meringue out into small spirals as shown, about 4cm in diameter. Bake in a preheated oven (130 deg C) for about 15 – 20 minutes, until the meringues are evenly golden brown and come off from the parchment paper easily. Leave the meringues to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the cupcake batter…

3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a bowl of electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1 – 2 min). Add 3/4 cup (150g) of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 – 3 mins, see picture 5). Add egg yolks one at a time while beating, and add the vanilla extract, beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, alternatively add the flour mixture and milk, in 3 additions beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until well combined. Stir in the lemon zest, juice, and a pinch of dried lavender flowers (see picture 1 below)

4. Beat the egg whites as per step 1 until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a spatula, gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to form a lighter mixture, then gently (and I mean very gently), fold in the remaining whites into the batter, avoid deflating it as much as possible. Divide the batter evenly between the cups and bake in preheated oven (180 deg C) for 20 – 25min, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

5. While waiting for the cupcakes to cool, heat up the heavy cream in a bowl over a pot of simmering water, then add the chocolate and stir slowly for it to melt and combine. You should have a shiny and smooth chocolate frosting after 10 minutes. Take it off the heat.

6. Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut a small cone into the top of the cake, fill the hole with the chocolate filling, and cover the hole back with the small cone you cut out earlier. Spread a thin layer of chocolate on top of the cupcakes before you place a meringue on top. The chocolate should help stick the meringue to the cupcake. And your Roomantique cupcakes are done!

This is the final result of our 2.5 hours of hard work:

Aren’t they gorgeous? I love making cupcakes that are beautiful without any help of food coloring or ready-made deco. And they smell great too, with a hint of lemon and lavender surely to leave you wondering why 2 seemingly very distant and different flavors could go together so well, just like me and Oli. Luv ya roomie!

And now back to business… we will post up the details of the Made-To-Order Roomantique cupcake very soon. Do order them for your next gathering/parties/loved ones. And remember, with every cupcake you eat, you are contributing to Tiger’s recovery! Eating cupcakes has never felt so un-sinful, has it?

Posted by: Chi Anh | July 23, 2010

Cherry Clafouti (Cherry Flan) a la Julia Child

I know you guys must have forgotten about this blog by now. Or if not, you would be wondering why I haven’t been posting lately. Well, I’ve realized that I can’t cook when I’m not feeling completely at peace and easy. For the past 1 month, I haven’t been at ease. Big changes are coming and I find myself having to worry about so many different things everyday that going grocery shopping to plan for meals just seems a tad too much for my soul right now. Not that I don’t love cooking anymore. I seriously miss cooking and baking terribly. I’m just not in the best place for it now. Let’s hope this state of mind will pass soon. But don’t worry, I will never stop cooking completely.

But that’s enough for disappointing news. Today I’m finally showing you how I made one of the best Summer cakes, and in my friends words, the best dessert I’ve made so far! It is Cherry Clafouti, an authentic French dessert, which is light and moist, perfect for hot Summer days! The original clafouti is made with cherries, but if you recall I have also baked Plum Clafouti and Chocolate Clafouti. Basically “Clafouti”, or  “Flan” cake is a pancake-like batter poured over fruit, then baked in the oven. You can variate and make them with apples, pears, blueberries as well. As long as you use plenty of fresh fruits, it will surely taste great.

I made the Cherry Clafouti for Rachel’s  birthday BBQ. It tasted great even after a few hours being left outside, though it had deflated quite a bit. And that was the first time my dessert was finished all in one night! As it was my first time making the traditional Cherry Clafouti, I made sure I followed Julia Child’s recipe exactly. When it comes to French food, I know I can count on her. And luckily this dessert seems to be one of her simplest recipes (you know Julia tends to get very complicated with her instructions…). I was going to use frozen cherries for this, but fortunately cherries are in season, and even though they are very expensive in this side of the world, it was well worth it to buy them just for this cake.

Cherry Clafouti (Cherry Flan) – Adapted from “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 to 8)

  • 3 cups pitted black, ripe fresh cherries (or frozen/canned cherries if they are not in season)
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup white granulated or caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour

METHOD:

1. If you are using fresh cherries, you can pit them by using a cherry pitter (an amazing device just to pit cherries in one single movement). But if you also refuse to pay for a 20 dollar WMF Cherry Pitter like me (I still don’t mind get it as a gift though, HINT), you can pit them by hand, which can be a painful job: slightly hit the cherry on a flat surface with the side of your knife to loosen the seed from the flesh, then carefully use your thumb and index finger to dig out the seed without breaking the cherry apart. If you have kids or friends over, this will be the best task to assign to them😛 And it can get really messy so make sure you don’t wear your finest outfit!

2. Place the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, salt, flour (in this order) into a blender or food processor. Cover and blitz at top speed for about 1 minute.

3. Pour a 1/4-inch layer of batter into a lightly buttered, fireproof baking dish. Set over medium heat on your stove for a few minutes until you see a film of batter setting in the bottom of the dish. Remove from heat. This layer of hardened batter will be the base of the cake and prevent the cherries from sinking all the way to the bottom later. Spread the cherries evenly over the batter and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour on the rest of the batter slowly. Be careful not to let the cherries swim away from their positions.

4. Place in the 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F preheated oven and bake for about an hour. Keep checking regularly in the last 15 minutes to make sure the cake is not burnt. The clafouti is done when one corner is puffed up and the entire surface is lightly browned. But to be sure, use a cake tester or toothpick still. It should come out clean after poking it into the center of the cake. Before serving, sprinkle some icing sugar on top with a strainer. The clafouti is best eaten warm, and it will sink down / flatten as it cools.

And that’s it! Pretty simple. If there is one fruit cake you want to try, this should be it. I can’t wait to make all the other versions like Apple and Pear clafouti as well! To a delicious Summer ahead!

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