Sunday, December 14, 2014

Orange Marmalade

Woke up one morning and decided I want to make orange marmalade.  This is going to be a kitchen adventure because I have never made any before.

Lots of searching online yielded all kinds of recipes but all asked for the use of pectin.  I was not keen on using that and almost gave up searching.  Until I came across Alton Brown's Orange Marmalade recipe.  There's no pectin but it called for a mother load of sugar.  But he's Alton Brown.  He can't be wrong.

But before I could start, I needed to look for mason jars.  I went to Spotlight, remembering I saw some jars there before but could only find lids.  After running around a bit, a girlfriend prompted me to visit Howards Storage World and I found the last 2 boxes of jars that they had in their Plaza Singapura outlet!  Lucky me!

Here's the ingredient list taken off the Foodnetwork site

1 3/4 pounds oranges (I used about 5 navel oranges, weighing slightly more)
1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
6 cups water
3 pounds plus 12 ounces sugar

You would also need 2 very large pots, 1 for the marmalade and 1 for sterilizing the jars.  By large, I meant at least 6 litre pots.

The oranges are first cleaned and sliced using a mandoline.  It will be a bonus if you have a kitchen helper (it's really tiring slicing the oranges).  Be careful to remove the seeds but if you can't catch them it's fine.  When the marmalade boils, they will come to the top and you can just scoop them out.

The sliced orange, lemon juice, lemon zest and water are all added to a 6L stainless steel pot.  Bring it to a boil and then turn the fire down to keep it on rapid boil for another 40 minutes, stirring constantly.  The fruits will be softened during this time.

At the same time, boil water in another pot to sterilize your jars and covers.  The site asked for the tongs, rack, ladle and funnel to be sterilized too.  Once the water boils, put everything in to boil for 10 minutes then put the pot lid on and leave them till needed.

Remember to stir your marmalade constantly.  When the 40 minutes are up, add in the sugar and keep the boil going for another 20 minutes, till the temperature reaches 105 Deg C.  If you don't have a thermometer, then you will need to eyeball and test it by first putting a small dish into the freezer for about 10 minutes.  Then, put a small teaspoon of the marmalade on the plate.  Let it sit for about 30 seconds then tilt the plate.  If the marmalade is runny, continue boiling.  If the marmalade is gel-like, then you are good to go.  At which time, your marmalade would also reach a nice amber colour.

Remove the jars and lids from the water and dry on a clean cloth (or rack).  Once the marmalade is ready, fill the jars up to the base of the screw line.  Put the lids on.   While you are filling your jars, put the heat back on the pot of water used for sterlizing the jars and get it boiling again.  Once you are done filling the jars, put them back into the pot to be sterilized.  To prevent the bottom of the jars from touching the pot, put them on a rack or like me, use a folded cloth.  Boil the filled jars for about 10 minutes.

Remove the jars from the pot and leave them out for 24 hours in room temperature before opening.   Once opened, they can last for a month.  Unopened jars should last for 6 months.  Left over marmalade in the pot could be placed in a small container to be eaten the next day.

The home-made marmalade tasted quite different from store-bought stuff.  It's naturally fragrant and does not have a very strong taste or smell, unlike commercial marmalade that generally has additives to make the smell and look more attractive.

Next up, blueberry marmalade!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chocolate cake (like Awfully Chocolate)

The boy invited his friends home for a little party and as with our past tradition, we baked him a cake.  Chocolate cake is the natural choice.  Instead of the tried and tested recipe that I always used, I decided to search for something easier.

Found one that claims it's from the owner of Twelve Cupcakes and that the result is almost like Awfully Chocolate.  I adapted it and made a slight variation.  You can go into the link to see the original recipe.  Here's what I used:

Group 1
90g Cadbury Old Gold Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
(Melt chocolate with the heat from the fresh coffee)

Group 2
2 eggs
1/2 cup corn oil
1 cup buttermilk (add 1 tbsp lemon juice to 1 cup fresh milk and let stand for 10 minutes)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Group 3
300g sugar
215g self-raising flour
25g Hershey's cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
(Sift together)

Group 4
100ml whipping cream
20g butter
260g Cadbury Old Gold Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa)

Here're the steps:

1.   Preheat oven to 160 deg c
2.   Whisk eggs from Group 2 till fluffy then add in the ingredients from Group 1 + the rest of the ingredients from Group 2 and combine thoroughly
3.   Add ingredients from Group 3 to the mixture in Step 2 and mix thoroughly
4.   Line baking pans with parchment paper
5.   Pour batter from Step 3 into pan and bake for 30 - 40 minutes (or as long as required.  Cake is done if a skewer comes out clean when poked into the middle of the cake)
6.  Remove cake from oven and cool on rack
7.  While cake is baking, melt ingredients in Group 4 over a bain marie
8.  Remove from heat and continue stirring till all chocolate and butter is melted and the mixture is thick and shiny
9.  When cake and chocolate fudge are all cooled, assemble cake and frost to liking

I do like the taste.  It's not too sweet and is definitely rich and chocolatey.  It stayed soft even after sitting in my chiller for 4 hours.  This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Belgian Waffles

Bought a waffle maker and I've been looking for a recipe that the family likes.  I think found it.  It's definitely a keeper!

Taken from Taste of Home, I halved the recipe and it yielded 3 waffles with some batter left behind.  Could have been 4 if I didn't over-fill the pan for the first one.

Here's the ingredient list:

1 cup flour
3/8 cup sugar
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg, separate (I happened to have only large eggs and it had a double yolk :P)
3/4 cup milk
114g butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla (I think I added more)

1.  Melt butter and leave to cool.
2.  Mix flour, sugar and baking powder.
3.  Lightly beat egg yolk, add in milk, vanilla and the cooled butter.
4.  Mix the liquids into the flour and mix well, getting rid of the lumps.
5.  Beat the egg whites still stiff.
6.  Fold egg whites into the batter.
7.  Let the batter stand for a while before making your waffles.

Here's the waffle.  Don't mind the holes haha!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Salt Baked Flower Crab

Ordered some crabs from over the weekend and decided to bake them in salt.

The crabs were delivered alive and the young man even helped to keep the crabs alive in my sink with some salted water.

We usually put the crabs in a 1-pot-wonder but this time round, I thought I'd bake them in salt.


Coarse sea salt - enough to line the pane and cover the crabs (I used 2kg worth)
Chinese wine (I used Hua Diao.  Try to avoid those labelled as "kitchen use"橱用as they often come with added salt)
Ginger slices (optional)
Crabs - best to use live ones.  Wash them in clean water to make sure you clean off any dirt on the shells


In order not to shock the crabs (and have their legs fall off when baking), I make them drunk.  Line them in a container and pour in enough wine to submerge them to just beyond their mouths so the wine can go into their system.  You can also put a few slices of ginger at the bottom of the container.  Leave the crabs to get drunk for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220 deg C.  Line the baking tray with a thin layer of salt.  When the crabs are ready, remove them one at a time from the wine and line them on the salt layer in the baking tray.  Cover the crabs completely with the remainder of the salt and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes depending on the size of your crabs.

Once done, gently scrape away the salt and remove the crabs from the salt pile and they are ready to be served!

Note: the crabs are baked whole and you can peel away the lungs and all the inedible parts when you open up the top and bottom shells.  I would also ensure that the salt used is of very large crystals so they won't fall into the cavities of the crabs and make the crabs too salty.  It also makes removing them from the crabs easier too.


PS: You can use the wine to dunk live prawns, if you are eating them on the same day :)  I've also forgotten that I could actually bake eggs (quail eggs, shell and all) in the salt at the same time!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Classic Belgian Waffles (and my new waffle maker)

Because my BFF and her little darling will be visiting us for tea, I needed to test out a recipe that will make them happy.  That, and testing my new waffle maker.

First, let's meet the new soldier in my kitchen army.  Bought off Taobao, this gadget is made in Germany (surprise, surprise!) and is really easy to use.  It makes those thick, Belgian waffles with the really deep dimples, something that would make substantial breakfast / lunch / tea / dinner (depending on your mood).  

More on the waffle maker later on.  Now, let's get back to the recipe.

I used the Classic Belgian Waffles recipe found on Food & Wine.  It's something from Thomas DeGeest.  I was a bit surprised that it contains no sugar (but of course, what do I know about real Belgian waffles?).  The sweetness would come from the icing sugar, chocolate sauce, Nutella or whatever you want to put on it.  Here's the list of ingredients:

  1. 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  2. 1 cup warm water
  3. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 cup whole milk
  6. 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  7. 2 large eggs, separated
  8. 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  9. Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

I used only half the portion as I wasn't sure how it would turn out.

Simple instructions:

1.  Separate egg whites from egg yolks and whisk egg whites till soft peaks form and keep cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

2.  Melt butter and let it cool 

3.  Mix yeast with the warm water, set aside

4.  Mix flour with salt

6.  Whisk yeast, cooled melted butter, milk, vanilla extract into the flour till smooth

7.  Fold in egg white and let the batter stand for 20 minutes

As for making the waffles, please follow the instructions for your waffle maker.  For mine, I find that I had to fill the pan to the brim so the batter would flow into every cavity, allowing the batter to touch the pan on all sides so the surface would crisp up.  Once done, you can put in a heated oven to keep warm if you are not eating immediately (or you intend to serve everyone together).

Sprinkle icing sugar over the waffles before serving, together with your favourite sweet sauces, whipped cream or fruits (or all of the above :P )

Bon appetit!