Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chocolate Mousse and a cure for a hot day!

I had my first taste of Mousse when I was about 16 - Man, it was yucky. It was a strawberry mousse and the airy texture looked very much like the hair sculpturing mousse that I used at the time - think Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran hairstyles, we all needed mousse for our high tide fringes - you teenagers in the 80s will know exactly what I'm on about. That strawberry whatever really put me off mousse for many years. It was not until I had a Chocolate mousse torte at a french patisserie here some uh-mmm 20 years later that I discovered that the REAL THING had a BODY to it. It didn't feel like FOAM in my mouth. In fact, it felt silky and tasted really good.

I found myself fancying Chocolate mousse more and more, so much so that last Christmas saw me featuring a Gianduja Mousse Torte for dessert. I LOVE Chocolate pots too, but in this scorching heat, you want something lighter on your taste buds. There's a bonus too, it's sooooooo easy to prepare. I bet Paige could make it all by herself with her eyes closed.

Easy Peasy Chocolate Mousse
Makes approximately 6 espresso sized cups

70g good quality dark chocolate
1 tsp granulated gelatine
2 tbsp hot water
1 egg at room temperature
1 egg yolk at room temperature
150 ml thickened cream

Melt the chocolate and set aside. Place the gelatine in a bowl and dissolve with hot water, stirring continuously. Strain the gelatine to make sure you get rid of any lumps. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and the egg yolk until light and fluffy, then stir in the melted chocolate. Very quickly, mix in the gelatine.

In another bowl, whip the cream until just thickened and then fold into the chocolate mixture. Fill your cups or moulds with the mousse, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Another yummy treat we've been making a lot here are Ribena Icypoles. Yes, I know all about that dirty Ribena scandal - there are probably NO vitamins whatsoever in the syrup, but I didn't LOVE Ribena for the loads of Vitamic C that was supposedly in them. Carol Rode LOVES UNCONDITIONALLY. Enough said.

Icypoles are so quick and easy to make, and the children look forward to having them, especially if they've made it themselves. I know its more convenient to just buy a pack of ready made icypoles but there are so many nasties (additives) in these products. I made sure (in fact, I have a Ribena bottle in front of me) that Ribena has no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners in it, but if someone proves that is not the case, I shall have to re-evaluate the unconditional love thing.

So, go get the kids an Icypole mold, mom, it does'nt matter what syrup you choose, it's gonna be healthier than the stuff you get from the supermarket freezer. Oh, if anyone wants the recipe for the Icypoles, please e-mail me, I would love to 'chat' with you, and then I'll get paige to tell you how to make the Icypoles.

Last weekend (26th January) was Australia Day! We had an awesome time at our friend's home having dinner and watching the spectacular skyworks. I put a pavlova together for dessert and had Ming record the whole thing hoping to post it on youtube and on my blog. I need to edit the recording but have no idea whatsoever on how to go about it. So, if anyone of you out there can educate me, I'd be very grateful.

Have a great week, EVERYBODY!

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Best Buttermilk Waffles and my Rock Chic!

Every once in a while in the Rode-Chong household, we have ‘family-initiative’ cook-offs – what this means is, every family member gets involved in the food prep and the cooking itself. We have had ‘Sushi evenings’, ‘Popiah afternoons’ and last Saturday, we decided to make waffles for breakfast together. We got up bright and early and still in our PJs, we scurried downstairs into the kitchen. Unfortunately, the photos that follow only show Paige and I in action, as we look better in the morning compared to Ming, and Chloe insisted on being photographed only if she’s washed and dressed. Hhumppph! Teens!

The waffle making process.. separating the eggs, buttermilk makes the waffles sooooo flavorsome! Paige was really getting into it!

Whisking the egg whites... adding cornflour into the waffle batter makes it crisp on the outside and soft on the inside! That's me on the right. What? were you hoping to see me with sleep lines all over my face??!

1. The naked waffle...

2. with the delicious dollop...

3. Ta.......Da! Sink your teeth into this! ...a drizzle of maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish off...

Here is the recipe for the Buttermilk Waffles we made;

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup corn flour
2 cups buttermilk
8 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Lightly whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the egg yolks to the buttermilk and blend well. Add the dry ingredients into the buttermilk mixture, then the melted butter and beat with a few quick strokes, then fold in the beaten eggwhites.
Heat up the waffle iron and bake the waffles according to the manufacturer’s instructions till golden. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup.

Earlier in the month, we celebrated Chloe’s 14th Birthday – she had wanted a guitar for a while now, so we granted her wish. She sure looks good with the guitar draped over her shoulders. I wish I were more like her when I was 14, beautiful and confident. I have to admit, I’m living vicariously through my daughters!

The only problem is, we really need to get her some lessons soon. We’ve been watching ‘Friends’ re-runs lately, and hearing Phoebe belt out …
“Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you?!
Smelly cat, smelly cat, it’s not your fau…lt…!”
… So guess what Chloe’s been singing?? Go figure...

Boy, was she strummin' ma pain! Ouch! classes soon for sure!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lemon Polenta Cranberry Cookies and my first DMBLGIT win!

In my previous post, I mentioned that Paige and I baked a batch of Lemon Polenta Cookies after Christmas – some of you who know us would have had little puzzled expressions on your faces. “ Paige??” no, don’t you mean ‘Chloe’??” you might think aloud. Nope. It was Paige. These days Chloe bakes all on her own and might I add, very confidently too. Paige on the other hand becomes an eager assistant if we’re making something she loves.

...And she definitely LOVES this!!

I saw this recipe on JenJen's fabulous blog last year I think it was, I tried it, had first time success and fell in love with the cookie ever since. The only difference to the recipe was that JenJen used raisins (or was it sultanas?) (Both) of which I’m not a big fan. I prefer cranberries, but you can substitute them with a dried fruit of your choice. The most gorgeous thing about this cookie is the incredible texture that the polenta imparts. The grainy texture will leave your taste buds very happy and if you think you have the will power to stop at one cookie, you are kidding yourself. I love to watch Paige eat something she totally loves – it’s as if that cute little mole on the side of her mouth is dancing!

I have lots to show and tell today so I’ll get on with the recipe, shall I?

Lemon Polenta Cranberry Cookies
Makes: Approximately 56 Yummylicious Cookies

220 g salted butter, softened
1-cup caster sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
½ tsp salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup Polenta
2 ½ cups plain all purpose flour
1-cup cranberries

Add softened butter to sugar in a mixer and whizz until just combined. Add zest, yolks and salt, whizz again just for about 5-6 seconds. Then add the flour, polenta and cranberries. Whizz again until it all comes together, but only just. Make sure you do not over beat the cookie dough! Knead the dough into 2 balls, then using some cling wrap, cover and shape the balls into 2 cylinders, then using a rolling motion to smooth and neaten the cylinders. I find it helps to wrap the cylinders with 3-4 folds of the cling wrap. Chill in the freezer for about 45 minutes before slicing and baking in a pre-heated oven of 180 degrees Celsius. The cookies only need 2cms apart on the baking sheets.
Tip: resist the temptation of adding more than the recommended amount of cranberries, as this would undermine the quality of the texture.

Two days ago when I was having my dinner in front of the TV, I accidentally spilled some water onto the glass table while adjusting its position. (You know the type of side table with castors that are sometimes used as Cocktail servers – I just love them, they are so retro! And so versatile too!) I didn’t worry about it too much and continued to enjoy my dinner and my current Korean soap. Then with an excited tone of voice, Paige said, “Mom! There’s a heart-shaped puddle of water on your table!” And sure enough, there it was, a naturally formed heart-shape water puddle! It’s just one of those wonderfully peculiar unexplainable things. All at once the other family members were crowding around my dinner and my pretty water puddle. “Don’t move Lou Poh!” (Meaning ‘wife’ in Cantonese) In a flash, Ming had the camera in his hands, my dinner was removed by the camera crew, i.e. Chloe and Paige, my soap was put on ‘pause’ and I was instructed not to breathe.

Ming started ‘clicking’ left, right and centre. Isn’t it beautiful? What do you think? Incidentally, this month’s ‘click’ (a monthly themed photo competition hosted by Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi) theme is ‘Liquid Comfort’. I don’t know if this water puddle will qualify as an entry, but I’m going to submit it anyway and let the Judges decide.

Next but not least in today’s order of news.. (Drum roll…..) I’m very happy and honoured to announce that I’m the Third Overall Winner (in all three categories, Edibility, Aesthetics and Originality) in the December 2007 DMBLGIT (Does my blog look good in this) Photo Competition hosted by Dayna of Food and Photography. Thank you Dayna, Andrew of Spittoon Extra the Organiser of this wonderful event and the Judges, namely
Bea of La Tartine Gourmande
JenJen of I love milk and cookies
Lara of Cook and Eat
Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything
Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen
Congratulations to all the other winners!

Third Overall Winner in three Categories: Edibility, Aesthetics and Originality

This is indeed a very special event for me as it’s my first win in the DMBLGIT Competition – I see it as my 1st Blog Birthday Present.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Gianduja Mousse Torte & Christmas 2007

Happy 2008 everyone! I hope you spent Christmas and the New Year with loved ones and good friends as I did! I also managed some well-deserved rest after all that cooking and baking leading up to Christmas, so that was good too. I left the meals to Chloe and Ming to organise; it’s really nice to have others think about what to serve up for a change. That’s not to say that I took a break from leisurely baking or dessert making, on the contrary, I had a couple of ‘young-er’ girlfriends of mine over the other day and we whipped up a mean Frangelico Tiramisu, Paige and I baked some Lemon Polenta Cranberry cookies that were ‘to die for’ – not literally, thank goodness! Chloe and I baked a Chocolate and Potato cake – definitely her favourite ingredients in the whole wide world, and I made a Chocoholic’s Ultimate Chocolate Mars Bars Cake for Chloe’s 14th Birthday on the 3rd of January.

Christmas Day was easy, I decided that we would do a ‘pot-luck’ and everybody made a dish or two so I didn’t have to slave over a hot kitchen, the weather wasn’t too bad though, 34 degrees Celsius, rather mild compared to Boxing Day, a whopping 44.2 degrees Celsius! We didn’t have the traditional Christmas Turkey and the works –too heavy, I thought, so I made ‘Babi Chin’- a braised pork belly in shallots, garlic and aromatic coriander served with steamed Chinese Buns and some gourmet lettuce and as a second dish, ‘Popiah’ – a Malaysian-Singaporean hawker favourite of stir fried turnip with dried shrimp wrapped in spring roll skins with lettuce, prawns, chopped omelette, Chinese sausage, crushed peanuts and fried shallots, a little dark sweet soy caramel and a prawn paste chilli jam.

You must be wondering why I have not mentioned this dessert that you’re looking at. I’ve decided to call it ‘Gianduja Mousse Torte’- it’s the Christmas Day dessert that I painstakingly made for my family and friends. This dessert that took me two days to create (because of the lack of expertise (hey, this is my first time experimenting with, attempting and putting this dessert together!) and only 8 dessert rings!) is the reason why I’ve not written a post about it up until now. THE VERY THOUGHT OF WRITING OUT THE RECIPE for the Gianduja (pronounced ‘zhan-du-ya’ meaning hazelnut paste. The commercial product ‘nutella’ is what it is) mousse, then the Jaconde layer (a thin, pliable almond sponge), followed by the chocolate caramel truffle layer, not mentioning the dark chocolate mousse and hazelnut wheat biscuit layers IS ENOUGH TO SEND ME OFF ON A HOLIDAY. So, I hope you will be happy with the photos.

And on Christmas Day...

The Dramatic sistas Chloe and Paige happily posing...

...and doing the sisterly thing...

...While Ming captures a candid shot of me preparing the buffet table...

Gift Opening!

... and some of us are hmmmmm.. very enthusiastic! HA!HA!

Some of the Chrissy Food!

The 'Popiah' DIY station...

Kim and Kenny at the Buffet spread...

It's Dessert time! My Gianduja Mousse Torte..

A Lovely Gingerbread House made by Tania of "LittleCheffo". To view the complete set of the Gingerbread House photos, head on to Tania's Blog!

I have something to share with you all. 2008 is a special year for me, as I will be embarking on Teaching Cooking and Baking classes. It’s all very exciting for me and I will have the full details for you on this blog when I’m all ready. With the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season, ‘Oh for the Love of Food!’ turned ONE very quietly. That’s ok; it was a humbling time for me as I reflected on all the beautiful new friendships I’ve made through this blog. I am very thankful for all the kindness, assistance, and encouraging comments I’ve received from all of you. I hope that 2008 will be another wonderful year of Food Blogging, another wonderful year of getting to know you better. I pray that we will not lose focus of the most important people, relationships and moments of our lives. God Bless you all.