Yes another order birthday cake order!!! Imagine my delight as it was from a former club mate. Yes I have kept in touch with paddlers throughout the years. Dragonboating has gained momentum over the past few years within the Asian community in the lower mainland. In the recent years the sport’s popularity has even touched the hearts of the english speaking community as more local teams are forming. When one asked any paddler, their response would be that dragonboat was not just a sport but a community within itself as teams display comaradie, support, competition and sportmanship. Like all sports, there are tears of joy for triumph and disappointment for every heartwrenching win/lost by a hundredths of a second. Close friendships are forged by individuals as they endure long hours of grueling practices in the worst possible weather conditions imaginable such as rain, sleet and snow. Dragonboating was definitely not for the weak at heart as every piece of the practice requires power, determination and teamwork striving towards a common goal success.
In this order, I chose to make chocolate cake. I had always admired Asian pastry chefs and undoubtedly Tony Wong was amongst the best of him. Having made a previous recipe, this time I made his chocolate sponge cake recipe. Unless most chocolate cakes, Tony’s was chocolate cake was quite extraordinary as it required no baking powder and instead depended on the properties of the heated eggs themselves to leaven the cake.
To make the sabayon, first beat the egg and sugar until warm on top of a double boiler then use a electric mixer to whip the warm mixture until frothy and double in volume. This method incorporated air into the mixture and at the same time released the oil from the egg yolks allowing them to reach their full potential. By doing so, the product would be light, moist and fluffy. Next, sifted flour was added in with the cocoa and oil to the mixture. I can’t emphasize the importance of not using a mixer as it will deflate the air that was already incorporated. Once everything was fully incorporated, bake the sponge cake at 350F for 25 minutes.
For the filling, I created a strawberry/raspberry chocolate mousse made from picked berries. I first soaked the gelatin and heated up the puree. While chocolate and gelatin was then added into the puree. The whipped cream was last to be added. I then finished the mousse layer off with some freshly sliced strawberries. Vola, here was the finished product.
Chocolate Sponge Cake:
As one could find versions of chocolate cake everywhere, I have left out the recipe. True to his words, Tony’s verson was a keeper; the cake was moist, rich and light. Happy Baking!!!
I finally have some free time with work winding down. I have been thinking of a couple of novels that I have read before. One of these novels was the critically acclaimed “Life of Pi.” It told the journey of a young man stranded on a boat with a bengal tiger. In the beginning, the story did not strike me as enjoyable but as I took the time to read I was soon captivated and enthralled by the writing. Symbolism was used to represent human characteristics in this case, animals namely a zebra, orangutang, hyena and tiger. From beginning of the story to the ending, Martel used these animals to depict human nature but he also used religion to touch base for salvation. One may question way he reflected on religion but it answer is simple; it is through religion where we find hope, strength and courage. Isn’t it why individuals pray or go to temples after all? On a deeper level, Martel actually touches on a darker more sensitive issue, cannisbalism and survival. I guess that was why Pi choose to use animals to represent individuals to retell his ordeal at sea as it was less frowned upon. The story was unfolded beautifully as it gave a detailed account of a young man stranded out at sea with virtually no hope and no chance of survival and how he overcame his obstacles. An example would be cohabitation with a Bengal Tiger, which of courses was a human being; moreover, how religion came into play and gave him hope and salvation when there was none. I savoured this read very much as it touches on every day life and how each individual was dealt with a deck of cards to play, every individual could be Pi, and no matter how hard the cards may be, that individuals through determination will triumph.
No sweet read could be accompanied without a similarly sweet dessert. This time it was Japanese Cheesecake again with a twist. A friend had ordered it for a get together and had requested for a cheesecake. This time around I chose to decorate it fresh fruit and created a caramelized sugar ball on top. Fruits naturally complimented the soft spongy texture but it was lacking something thus I created a sugar ball compliment the fruits. Voila.
The photo certainly did not do much justice for the cake but I was quite happy with the outcome of it. Hope you all have little sweet moments!!!
Snow again!!! My two lucky snow covered weekends of all time. Was it a coincidence or what that Vancouver got snow on the weekends one after each other. I often hear people saying they want a pineapple express. Boooo!!!! Despite the fact that I am freezing my ass off and shivering away, I am a fan of the cold weather. During these two weekends, if one where to notice a dark blimp sticking out the arm and inspecting the quality of the snow flakes whilst walking down a snow covered street, well….that blimp would be me
In light of these past snowing weekends, I thought of a superb idea to warm up the house. Nothing can warm up the cold air circulating around the kitchen than a nice toasty warm even. To cure my insatiable appetite for desserts, I decided to make a deliciously smooth cheesecake. I was flipping through a Pierre Herme cookbook recently and my dark gleaming eyes fell upon his milky smooth white cheesecake. Pierre Herme had always been my inspiration as most of the flavoring in his creations really complimented each other. His cheesecake was no different. Originally I had though that it was similar to the north american sytle cheesecakes but to my astonishment his really instructions really stood out. Slow baked cheesecake best described PH’s. You see most cheesecakes recipes required a higher temperature during baking and in turn this promoted a browning of the top as the sugar caramelized but with a lower temperature and a steam bath, the cheesecake was at its best. I have longed to make cheesecakes that have a creamy rich consistency and now I have achieved it thanks to his instructions. For me, I started at a lower temperature at approx 225F and increased the temperature to 235f over a period of 1 1/2 hours. Keeping a watchful eye on the delicately scrumptious concoction definitely helped. By the time the cheesecake was baked the center should only wobble a bit.
Keys to a White and Smooth Cheesecake:
-Lower Baking Temperature and Longer Baking Time
-Warm Water Bath
Pierre Herme Cheesecake (Can also be found here)
1 kg (2 1/4lbs) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 egg yolks
70g heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 225.
Mix the cream cheese and sugar and beat until smooth.
Add egg yolks, eggs and cream one by one until fully incorporated and smooth
Add the flour and mix well.
Pour the cream cheese filling onto the cooled cheesecake base in the ring on the baking sheet.
Place in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours until the edges are set and the middle is a little wobbly.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven, set aside to cool, then refrigerate.
This cheesecake really hit the spot and I am glad to share this recipe. Enjoy this smooth silky cheesecake!!!
What a beautiful and peaceful weekend it was. It was a rarity that Vancouver was blanketed by a thick layer of snow. The cold snowy weather really made my day as I relaxed and cozied up at Starbucks, sipping away at hot coffee and savouring a fresh baked croissant. Watching the snow make their way silently down to the street was quite relaxing. Every flake was quite different and each had a character of its own. Each danced, twirled, and floated as if they were part of a play. Off in the park, children were busily laughing away building snowman while others were gleefully tobogganing down the slopes amidst the backdrop of beautifully covered white evergreens. The air was crisp and the snow was cold but everyone enjoyed it. I certainly did. I have always liked walking down the street covered in snow while listening to the soft crunching of the snow underneath my feet and when the snow melts on face, I especially like the chill it sends up my spine. Quite peaceful….I certainly hope that Vancouver gets more of these weekends were everyone can slow down the enjoy the true beauty of mother nature.
After a cold day out admiring the snowfall, nothing helps warm up the tummy other than a nice bowl of steaming hot rice. In this case pineapple rice rice. Our family has always been a fan of Thai food. One of our favorites was the Pineapple fried rice. To make this dish I improvised a bit but I never forsaked the key ingredient in this dish, the fresh pineapple. Pineapples were quite delicious and juicy when ripe. They certainly added moisture and tang to any dish. To prepare the dish, I first bought a pineapple and diced up the flesh. Attention was placed to ensure that the shell was not broken as it was the centre piece. The shrimp, egg and Chinese sausage were sauteed first. Once these ingredients were cooked, the rice was fried and soy sauce was added for flavoring. The diced pineapple came last. To assemble, I ladled the rice onto the pineapple and voila pineapple fried rice.
Pineapple Fried Rice
3-4 bowls of rice
1 pineapple ripe and halved
1 bowl of shrimp
1 chinese sausage
2-3 eggs for scrambled eggs
soy sauce and salt both for flavouring
This dish was quite versatile to make and next time I think I might add ham or chicken or scallops to dress it up a bit. Nonetheless, no one can refuse a fresh bowl of steaming fried rice correct?
Bon Appetit!!! and a Happy Snowy Weekend to all.
Valentines certainly came and gone nonetheless the gentlemen delivered. I was shopping at Thomas Haas the other day; it was like a zoo in there. The beloved pastry and chocolate store attracted hundreds of loyal fans all eagerly waiting for mouth watering pastries and beautifully hand made chocolates. Chocolate lovers, husbands, boyfriends etc had already formed a s-like line in the store by the time I arrived. Everyone’s hand had boxes delicately shaped heart chocolates; momentos of love for each other while staff hurried around to fulfill their special day. Smiles were all around and the store smelled like rich chocolate. One whiff and I was drunk this to elixir.
In downtown Vancouver, cold tin empty flower buckets that once housed dozens of gorgeously scently long stemmed roses lined the shelves Someone’s heart was melted that evening when smelling fragrant sweet scent of the deep coloured vibrant red roses. What a special day this was.
To celebrate this special day, I made some tarts. I first started off with the pate sucre recipe. I made the crusts and fill them with 3 different toppings. In comparison to other crusts, pate sucre was quite versatile. The crust had a nice crunch and made a lovely addition to the fillings. The first tart was the lemon meringue tart. I decided to be adventurous and did a yuzu/meyer lemon filling. Yuzu added a zing to the filling and as for the meringue, I chose to make an italian meringue.
The second tart contained a milk and white chocolate ganache while the third tart had a topping of fresh raspberries and pistachios.
Felder was my go to chef when making a pate sucre recipe. I found his recipe was quite crispy and light sweet. The key to his recipe was the icing sugar. Felder substituted granulated sugar with icing sugar which in turn results in a lighter pastry.
Lemond Curd Filling (adapted from Anna Olson)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 cup water
6 large egg yolks ( I used 4 large egg yolks)
½ cup fresh lemon juice ( I substituted yuzo and meyer lemon juice)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I opted out)
I also added 2 teaspoons of lemon zest.
In the end I was quite delighted how the tarts turned out. They were very beautiful and definitely head turners. I think I could just sit there admire them and drool away; but as with anything fresh baked tarts go fast so here comes my fork and tea.
Bon Appetit everyone. Hope everyone enjoyed their special day!!!