27 April 2010

Macaron: Quest for Feet - Part 1

I love macarons. Eating them that is. I've never really been game enough to make them. Its probably because I know I suck at desserts that need baking. Cooking.. I enjoy. Baking.. only when it actually turns out right. And for me.. most of the time.. it doesn't.

Then I read this post on Almost Bourdain. I agreed. Why not ? Afterall its only going to take me 3 egg whites, some almond meal and some icing sugar. And if it did fail, I could just vent out my frustration by smashing up the unsuccessful macarons and use them as sprinkles on top of some vanilla ice cream.

So began my macaron saga.. the quest for feet. Yes. The much coveted Feet. The visual sign of a perfect macaron :)

I said visual sign, because this isn't the only element of a perfect macaron. SeriousEats.com sums it up nicely...

"The Mallomar-shaped cookie must have a 'foot,' a crackly ringlet that surrounds the flat side. The outer shell is thinner than an eggshell but has an eggshell-like quality. Poking through the shell gives way to soft, almost-meringue texture."

Roasted Black Sesame Macarons
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds (I used almond meal)
  • 1/4 cup finely ground black sesame
  • 3 egg whites (6 tablespoons of egg whites)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  1. In a food processed mix the ground almond, ground black sesame and icing sugar to make sure there’s no lumps.
  2. Whip the eggs whites with a pinch of salt and slowly adding in the granulated sugar until you get soft peaks. Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites and start folding. To make things easier, add in the dry ingredients half at a time.
  3. Fold until you get a slow moving batter. Aka the flow-like-magma consistency.
  4. Pipe the macaron batter onto baking paper.
  5. Bake at 160C for 12 mins
  6. Remove from oven and let cool. Pair up the macarons of a similar size ready for the filling.

Attempt 1 - Failed

  • Followed the recipe (well... I think I did)
  • I probably tried a bit too hard not to over mix the Egg whites. As a result I think I didn't mix it enough, so ended up with the cracked tops. Whoever said Macarons could smell fear were right... !
  • Oven at 160C
  • 12 mins in the oven
  • Tops started cracking at about 6-7 mins in...
Bleh....Ok.. I kind of expected this. If I succeeded the first time, I would have been really surprised. Ecstatic. But still really surprised.

They still tasted great. The roast black sesame flavour really came through.

Attempt 2 - Semi Failed

I jumped back online and googled what could be the cause of my macarons cracking. I was thinking that maybe its more than just under-mixing. Someone suggested cracking occurs if the oven wasn't hot enough. So thinking that my oven may not be hitting 160C, I cranked it up a notch. And set it on 170C. And you guessed it... they burnt...my macarons went brown.

Nice uncracked tops.. slight feet. But they went brown ! Bleh..

  • In the oven for 11 mins
  • 170C
  • Visual Browning occurred from about 10 mins onwards
  • The base of the 1st batch I pulled out at 10 mins was uncooked and still stuck to the baking paper.
  • Tapping the tray on the kitchen bench a couple of times prior to baking (something I picked up from the last Google search).
  • Tops uncracked. Slight feet.
  • Burnt... but still really edible. Bit more chewy than the previous batch.
In truth, I couldn't really taste the burnt taste. But I'm still marking this one as failed as 1/2 of them had the base still stuck to the baking paper and weren't actually cooked through, even though the tops had browned.

I think I'm going to call it a day for now. Anyone out there have any tips ?

17 April 2010

Chicken with Rosemary, Olives and Tomato Sauce

On most weeknights when I get home from work, I open up my fridge, stare at the contents for about 5 mins and contemplate what I could conjure up for dinner. Usually if I'm feeling lazy, I'll make what I call my 'one pot meal', which usually consists of meat with some veg and whatever else I feel like throwing in.

Usually using whatever ingredients I have available from my fridge and pantry that's nearing its shelf life...

I had some of this with green salad and bread the first night. Then the leftovers tossed with some spaghetti the 2nd night. Not bad considering its just chicken with some rosemary, olives, anchovies and canned tomatoes. :)

Chicken with Rosemary, Olives and Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 chicken maryland pieces (Thigh & Leg of chicken - separated into 3 pieces)
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 red onion (finely sliced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 120ml white wine
  • 2 tablespoon olives
  • 400g can whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Season the Chicken with freshly grounded Salt and Pepper
  2. Heat oil in a dutch oven pot or heavy bottom pan, then brown the seasoned chicken all over and remove and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, gently cook the onion for about 5 mins until soft.
  4. Add the garlic, anchovies and rosemary, then fry for a few mins more until fragrant. The anchovies would just melt away as it cooks.
  5. Deglaze the pot with the wine
  6. Add in the olives, canned tomatoes and about 1/2 cup of water
  7. Bring to the boil, then return the chicken pieces to the pot.
  8. Reduce the heat, cover, then cook for 40 mins until the chicken is cooked through.
  9. Taste and season with salt and pepper if required.
  10. Serve with a crisp green salad and crusty bread or with some spaghetti tossed through.

12 April 2010

Duck Fat Potatoes (2) - Pommes de Terre Sarladaise

If you can recall, I still have close to 1/2 kg of duck fat sitting in my freezer. Apart from duck fat potatoes I haven't really ventured into anything else with the duck fat yet. One of these days when I do have time to spare, I will try to tackle the duck confit. But not now.

I actually think this method is better than the way I was making them before (which is why I'm reposting this).

You might be thinking.. Its duck fat potatoes... can they really go wrong ?! Well no. You can't. But after several tries on different versions (all of which were extremely tasty), there was one standout recipe.

Well... Crispy coating. Soft fluffy interior. :)

So here is another take on Duck Fat Potatoes.

Duck Fat Potatoes (2) - Pommes de Terre Sarladaise
  • 3-4 Red Skinned Potatoes (peeled - cut into rough chunks)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (Crushed with the flat side of the blade, skin left on)
  • 8-10cm Sprig Rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons Duck Fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • Freshly grounded Black Pepper and sea salt for seasoning
  1. Bring a large deep saucepan with water to boil add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  2. Place the peeled and cut up potatoes into the water, bring to boil and reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 mins. Or until the edges potatoes start to soften.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 180C with a tray lined with a piece of baking sheet.
  4. Once the potatoes are done, drain them and give them a quick jiggle in the colander to rough up the edges a bit
  5. Using a pan, melt the duck fat and add in the crushed garlic and rosemary sprig.
  6. Add in the drained potatoes and toss the potatoes around until they are covered in the duck fat.
  7. Carefully remove tray from the oven.
  8. Transfer potatoes, fat, garlic and rosemary on to the baking sheet lined tray and place back into the oven. Cook for 35-40 minutes or until potatoes turn golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and season with some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt flakes.

09 April 2010

Cantonese Style Beef Brisket

After the Beef Rendang, I've been looking around to find another recipe that I can make in bulk on the weekends, then frozen and ready to be consumed during the week. Work has been rather busy the past week, and by the time I get home, there just isn't enough time to cook something from scratch.

This Cantonese Style Beef Brisket is relatively inexpensive (at about $5-6 for 1kg of beef brisket) and quite easy to make. It also freezes really well and goes great with plain rice or noodles. The Daikon Radish was added to bulk up the stew a bit more. Unlike potatoes, the radish doesn't break down and isn't starchy after cooking. Its not a must have item, and you can omit this if you can't find any radish. However, if you are able to easily source some then do try adding them to the stew. As during the cooking process, the radish sucks up all the flavours of the stew and becomes really quite tasty. :)

Cantonese Style Beef Brisket
Recipe adapted from Pigpigscorner.com
  • 1kg Beef Brisket (chopped into chunks)
  • 500g Daikon Radish (peeled and chopped into chunks)
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing Wine
  • 5 slices Ginger
  • 3 cloves Garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons Chu Hou Sauce
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 1 piece Cassia bark
  • 1 small piece of Rock Sugar (about
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Cornstarch Slurry (1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with cold water)
  1. In a pot heat up the oil, add ginger and garlic, saute until fragrant.
  2. Add beef brisket and stir until the beef is evenly brown
  3. Deglaze with the Shaoxing wine.
  4. Mix in Chu Hou sauce.
  5. Add star anise and cinnamon stick
  6. Add radish, rock sugar and enough water to cover all ingredients.
  7. Bring liquid to boil, lower heat and cover to simmer until meat is tender (at least 1 1/2 hours). Stir the ingredients around half way through. I left the stew simmering for 2 hrs.
  8. Add light soy sauce to taste.
  9. If required, thicken the stew with cornstarch slurry.
  • Chu Hou Sauce is available at most Asian supermarkets.

07 April 2010

Chicken Wings with BBQ Sauce

I prepped these last night so that we could have something to munch on while watching the Arsenal vs Barcelona match this morning. Its nearly 6.30am and the game is into its 80 minute mark soon. The score when I walked away to start up my laptop was 3-1 to Barcelona. :(

Oh well.... at least the chicken wings were yummy... :)

Chicken Wings with BBQ Sauce
  • 1kg Chicken Wings (Tips discarded, Wings and Drumlette separated)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons dry spice mix
  • 1/2 cup BBQ Sauce
  1. In a large bowl, marinate the pieces of the chicken wing with about 2 tablespoons of the dry spice mix. Then squeeze the juice of one lemon over the chicken wings. Mix well and cover the bowl with some cling wrap and place into the fridge to marinate overnight.
  2. When ready to cook the wings, remove from the fridge and pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  3. Arrange wings over a cake cooling rack (sitting over a tray to catch the drippings) and bake for about 20 mins.
  4. Remove from oven and generously brush each wing with some BBQ sauce. Switch the oven to the grill setting and return the wings to the oven for another 2-3 mins
  5. Take the tray out, flip the wings over, brush with BBQ sauce and return to grill for another 2-3 mins.
  6. You should be able to see the BBQ sauce start to bubble and caramelise. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

06 April 2010

Sambal Chilli (Shrimp Paste & Ikan Bilis)

I came across this recipe from The Little Teochew when I was looking around for a sambal chilli recipe. After reading it, I thought .. Ground ikan bilis.. what a great idea ! You get the taste and depth ikan bilis took to the table with the sambal chilli, but without having to constantly be munching on them. Wonderful. :)

I was looking for a sambal belacan type of chilli recipe though. So I omitted the salt and threw in some shrimp paste. And also added some dried chillies for extra heat.

As Ju from the little teochew said.. Its savoury, spicy and sweet at the same time. I think my sambal turned out a bit dry (but still very tasty), so will probably double the amount of oil required the next time.

Sambal Chilli (Shrimp Paste & Ikan Bilis)
recipe adapted from The Little Teochew
  • 70g Fresh Chilli
  • 1 large red onion
  • 10 dried red chilli (soaked in water)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 80g ikan bilis (grounded)
  • 1 tablespoon piece palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sized piece of belacan (dry toasted in foil packet)
  1. Blend fresh chilli, soaked dry chilli, red onion and garlic together in a food processor to form a smooth paste.
  2. Wrap the belacan in some aluminium foil and toast it over a hot pan until you start to smell the shrimp paste.
  3. To the heated pan, add the oil and stir fry the ikan bilis powder until fragrant. Add the blended chilli paste, toasted belacan and sugar and stir fry for another 15 mins until the oil starts to separate.

Related Posts with Thumbnails