Wednesday, July 20, 2016

May Meringue

I have quite a peculiar feeling about / relationship with baking sweets.  There is always that nagging voice in my head asking 'who will eat all that cake?'.  

Funny that voice never questions savory dishes.  I can cook a whole leg of lamb and not feel guilty or worry that it will go to waste.

The thing is, THE THING IS, I don't really like sweets.  I'd put a forkful of cake in my mouth and I can sincerely say that I've had enough.

My husband is pretty much the same.  So the idea of HAVING to eat an entire cake sends shivers down my spine.  TOO HARD.


On the flip side, I love watching baking shows and as I watch I become curious and I want to bake.  I want to learn the techniques, I am curious.  I WANT TO BAKE.  I WANT TO BAKE.


MERINGUE.  Just eggs & sugar.  Lovely.

I decided to try my hand on Italian Meringue and French Meringue. 

For both meringues, I used ratios rather than recipes--only because I have no idea whether the eggs I had on had were 'medium' or 'large'.

They say the Italian Meringue is the most stable of them all, and great for those who worry about eating raw eggs.  So it only made sense that I tried that first.


Ratio in weight is 1 egg white : 1 water : 2.5 caster sugar

Three egg whites weighed 90 grams, this meant that I needed 90 grams of water and 90 x 2.5 grams sugar.

It also required cream of tartar, that I did not have.  However I had some lemon on hand so I just used it as the substitute.  I lined my mixing bowl with lemon juice by squeezing while running 1/8 of a lemon wedge along the inner area of the bowl.

Mix like crazy (thank you mixer, I don't think I will ever do this if I had to do it by hand), in the meantime I heated the sugar and water up to 240F.

Then slowly transfer the sugar syrup to the mixing bowl and continue mixing.

At some point it will become super silky and shiny--about the same time the bowl would no longer feel warm.

Transfer into a piping bag and you are all set.  The GREAT thing about this is that it keeps it shape.  And with egg whites effectively cooked through, no salmonella!  

I piped mine on top of a Calamansi Pie.  My heart can only stand so much sweetness, I was in desperate need of something to cut through all that meringue.

pure white.  simple.  beautiful.
Next was the French Meringue, why?  In my mind, this is the quintessential meringue--probably because in my childhood this was what I had known to be 'meringue'.

there is beauty in diversity


Ratio in weight is 3 egg white : 5 caster sugar

Two egg whites weighed 60 grams, this meant that I needed 100 grams sugar.

Again, no cream of tartar, so the whole lemon thing.

I also added 1/4 teaspoon of Vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon Orange Essence.

And a drop of pink, yellow and red icing colours.  I intentionally left that at the very last minute because I wanted random streaks of colour.

Mix everything till until it can hold its shape, place in a piping bag and go crazy making whatever shape you like.

I baked these in the oven for 1 1/2 hours at 100C.  


There as still so many baking techniques that I need to learn, practice and perfect.  

Not sure when the next blog entry would be, I tend to be super engrossed in the process that I forget to take photos--perfectly understandable when you have your hands covered with flour, eggs and all things that make wishes come true.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

the longest break

I can't believe my last entry was October of last year.  

What happened?

Nothing, really.  I guess I was so caught up with other things that I neither found nor made time to write.  

Some Bread

Hours were spent bread making--whilst exploring a classic bread  book.  Though yet to bake every bread featured, I have done my 'favourite' bread types.

Today, it is more subdued.  I would bake maybe once a week or every couple of weeks.  

I just made white cob last weekend--which was fast turned to bruschetta otherwise, rotten tomatoes.  Horrible.


On Yoga, I had gone through all the pre-paid classes I signed up for and now I had gone back to basics practicing with a volunteer group referred by a friend.  

Today, I am a quarter through the programme and pretty happy as it had helped me to finally develop a daily practice--something studio work somehow didn't encourage enough for me.

I was also pleasantly surprised to be suddenly capable to do some poses, just like that.  


Still mad about cooking.  

I am consciously grocery shopping for unfamiliar ingredients to expand our menu.  I feel very lucky to live in a country where I am spoilt with the range of fruits and vegetables available!

Just the other day, my husband--the carnivore told me that his eating habits had changed.  He said, he used to think that he can't properly eat if the dishes are without meat/fish/chicken, but he is now finding that he can't properly eat if the food is no good.

He had been 'approving' vegetarian dishes more and more these days.

Channeling Mari

Much stuff had been let go the past couple of months.  Yey!  

This really started when we were moving to our new flat.  While waiting for the movers, I started to think about how ALL OUR STUFF were in the truck, if they decide to make a run for it, I would not know what to do.

I did some mental calculation on the cost of those items, and while modest (in my opinion), it was seriously dizzying for me.

I thought that maybe if we had less stuff, I wouldn't have been feeling anxious.

Material possessions can give us comfort, convenience and entertainment, however these can also give us stress and even deplete our time and resources. 

It is crazy how it is so easy to overlook associated costs.  

This made me consider...

MAYBE, I can own less. 

And so, I (somewhat unknowingly) started on the path to owning only things I love and things that are useful to me.  I feel that this is a lifelong process, of assessing what you have on hand and of  evaluating--scrutinising any purchase.  

My better quality (not bigger quantity) closet really caught me by surprise.  Last Saturday, I wore a top I bought eleven years ago.  And it is a top that I love to this day.

Sometimes treasures are hidden literally under a pile, heap, stack of your clothes.

100 Day Challenge

I thought I would expand the latter by doing a 100-day challenge.  

It is still a toss for me which one would be harder:

(a) no online shopping (not even groceries!)
(b) no buying of Shoes, Clothes & Accessories, Kitchen Gadget (online and offline)

Maybe on the 100th day from this post, I will make an entry :)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Arugula Pasta

There had been more and more pasta adventures lately that I had failed to take photos of.  While I still do the standard plain pasta, I did not feel any compelling reason to post as it would just be a repeat of previous posts.

What I love about my new found skill (pasta making) is that I have another venue to utilise food that are close to being wasted.  For example, I found wilting Arugula in our crisper--guess what I did? 
Arugula Pasta
I had worked quite a bit with various pasta doughs to realise that adding semolina gives me some grit.  It isn't bad, just different.  You can see the semolina bits.  This was a mix of Semolina, Whole Wheat and All Purpose Flour. 

I also learnt (the obvious) that fresh leaves sometimes do not cut perfectly when passed through my pasta cutter--so some pasta strips have some small leaf bits dangling. 

Other things in my pasta bucket list are beets infused pasta and herbs between pasta sheets (so they look like wrapping paper).

Oh, I need to use my spaghetti cutter too!

Friday, October 9, 2015

black pizza

I have not touched yeast longer than I had expected given that my stand mixer had been with me for more than a month.

I was worried that my pack of yeast had gone dead, so I tried proofing a small amount earlier this week and got positive results. With that, I made pizza :)

I have done pizza more than a few times in the past, but this is the first time since my bread baking class.  I used the same recipe I always used--and will continue to do so until my weighing scale reaches me, then I can play around with recipes.

'before' shots are never flattering!
I used a mix of wholemeal and unbleached all purpose flour.  On top is a medley of my favourite things like squid ink, cherry (or grape) tomatoes, capers, anchovies and while it is not my favourite as I like making my own, random dollops of ready-made spaghetti sauce. 

Some basil would have been great, but I didn't have any.
black is beautiful

Luckily I had cut the pizza right out of the oven because in a matter of seconds almost, it had gone crispy.  Good luck not shattering crispy pizza--even with a sharp pizza roller.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Squid Inked

When a good friend asked me last week what my favorite pasta was, I thought immediately that it is spaghetti.  For sauce my number one is anchovy and garlic oil, close second is puttanesca.  Pesto and Marinara are tied at third.

I told her that I remember feeling down when I found out that one of the cafes that I frequent stopped serving squid ink marinara.  Suddenly, I don't feel like eating their new marinara anymore.  It doesn't taste (and look) as much as coming from the sea with the standard linguine as it did with squid ink spaghetti.

Incidentally, another friend who attended a pasta making class told me that the chef taught them two variations, one was with spinach and the other with, you guessed it!  Squid ink.

These two incidents got me thinking about making squid ink pasta.  So I searched high and low for squid in where I live.  NOT EASY.  

After securing the coveted ingredient I made pasta dough.

What lies beneath?
The dough was so dark and so rich that I could not help but laugh like an evil queen.  


I would have wanted to make spaghetti, but for some reason the idea of black velvet ribbons changed my mind.

happily eaten after

My husband loved the texture and managed to eat three servings.  I struggled to stop at a serving and I half--but a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do :)

I still have packets of Squid Ink, I am thinking of other fun pasta projects I could do with those.

Friday, September 18, 2015


I had been reading a lot and watched videos on pasta making.  What becomes clearer each time is that there is NO ONE best / perfect pasta.

There are good and very good pasta though.

I like how purists talk about less is more, that great pasta do not need bells and whistles.  Simple.  

SIMPLE.  I am so in!

I did not rush to experiment on infused and coloured pasta because I wanted to experience basic pasta first, as in wheat, semolina, all purpose flour and eggs.  That was it.  

I did try it with and without salt and olive oil.  

I am still learning.  I have not decided which one I like best.  


Having experienced the basic pasta preparation, I ventured on making parsley infused pasta.  It turned out pretty good, so today, I made tomato and pepper fettuccine.

Truth be told I prefer spaghetti, but I though the tomato bits and peppers would show better in thicker noodles.

I know I don't look much, but wait till I had rested!
I did expect the dough to be more red and I was surprised it kind of looked "normal".  Not much colour difference.

This is a mix of all purpose flour and semolina--you can see the texture of the semolina in the dough.  

The smallish tomato bits were also a nice touch--so much better than having pink pasta :) 

find the spots, go on.

When making spaghetti, even with well floured dough I find that I need to separate each strand from the rest which is frustrating.  However, with my fettuccine cutter--there is nothing to it!
like soldiers
 Because it is so humid where I live, it sometimes seem like drying the pasta doesn't really dry it.

Oh well, cook fresh :)

excited to find out what I'm gonna be :)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Round 2: Pasta Making

I remember the first time I made fresh pasta.  It was a whim.  I googled the recipe and used the first one I saw.  No reading about dough texture, kneading or best practices. 

I also had no tools except a rolling pin. 

Pasta was pretty decent all things considered.  But with too much energy spent on the pasta itself, I served it with a rushed sauce.  Somehow this made me feel like starting off with great shoelaces and ending up with forgettable shoes.  It did not make sense.  

I remember Marco Pierre White saying that the end result should be better that the ingredients going in.  OBVIOUSLY.


There was no more pasta making after that, I decided that the only way I’d make pasta again was if I had a pasta roller. 

Last Saturday, my stand mixer came.  It is a little bit funny because my pasta roller attachment came before the stand mixer.  It had been waiting for a while.


How was my pasta?  Much, much, much better.  I was able to roll it dramatically thinner than last time. 

It also helped that I had been reading about pasta making.


How do I feel about pasta making now?

I feel that it is definitely worth it—but only when you have time to enjoy the process, are equipped with a pasta roller (mixer or a food processor would be a bonus), and have good sauce worthy of the labored pasta.

There is, I discovered some skill in feeding pasta dough into the roller.  Really.  The last dough ball turned out much better than the first one I rolled out.  Watching videos makes you think that there is nothing to it, but there is.  Experience will allow you to roll better.

Feeling the dough is critical.  It seems like the more I read about pasta making the more I realise that it is really a touchy-feely process.  Your recipes are good guides but you need to know how good dough should feel and look like.  I love how certain chefs and experienced home cooks tell you how it should be.  How it needs to be shiny, how it is smooth, how upon rolling it changes, how suddenly, flour and eggs had transform into silky pasta :)  I love that.
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