May 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Finally a recipe post! This should be a regular go-to recipe as it is so simple to make. I have been approached by a few vegan/gluten-free home bakers on what to use for substitutions. While I have no fix gluten-free flour mix nor foolproof methods, I had managed to bring this lovely chocolate delight to the table just in time for tea.
Baking with gluten free flour is not as challenging as you think it is. I have failed and succeed; threw and sold many gluten free vegan cupcakes/brownies/cookies/shortbread. One thing, I have learnt is to never stop baking/cooking until you find the right fit. It is a journey for you to discover your own tastebuds and explore the wonders of different ingredients.
1 cup 70-80% dark chocolate, melted
1/2 cup fruit puree (apple, papaya, pear or any fruit you enjoy)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
50g rice flour
50g sorghum flour
30g tapioca flour
30g brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp guar gum/xanthan gum
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 vanilla pod
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and lined an 8-inch baking pan with a layer of oil.
2. Melt dark chocolate over the bain-marie or one minute medium heat in the microwave. Do not worry if the chocolate bits are not completely melted. Some bites are always welcomed. Puree fruit in the processor and set aside.
3. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Once chocolate is melted, add in fruit puree, oil, milk and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until very well incorporated.
4. Pour it into the pan and even the top with a spatula. Bake it for 25-30 minutes. It will come out soft and very moist. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before indulging.
And more to say, this is not available at the bakery/cafe I work in, but I am more than happy to share it with anyone.
*After leaving it for a day or two, it tends to get very dense. So best consume within the day of.
April 21, 2013 § 2 Comments
Having more time to myself means treasuring moments spent with loved ones. Catching up with friends for coffee at our usual cafes; impromptu vintage props hunting; slow-cooking scrumptious dinners for family. As laughs were shared, I cannot help but observed the people, collected their emotions, and captured more left tables.
A week ago, I was down with a mild food poisoning. Mild, but leaving me two pounds lighter and queasy in the mornings. Those silent moments laying in bed were awful. Though somehow, I managed to distract the pain with reading and listening to the awesome sound waves by Alt-J (∆).
Lately, I have been waiting. Waiting for a letter to be delivered with new opportunities. The anticipation and restlessness test my patience. The recent unsettling soul has lengthen my yoga routines. Finding comfort in stretched muscles and refuge with being upside down, taking each breathe with gratitude. While letting time pass, I exercise the thoughts of being present to life again. For what’s worth, it is to appreciate the journey from the past and let the future be.
Easier said than done of course, but I once had the same thoughts when there was a need for 100 cookies in an hour. On the radio, Squirrel Nut Zippers were playing, the bakery was beaming with a gorgeous sunrise and I had the entire kitchen to myself. I sang along to the tunes and danced foolishly, covering myself in flour/sugar mix. An hour passed, I had baked more than what was needed.
I could be waiting for the bus. I could be waiting for a cafe to open. I could be waiting for life to happen. The clock will still tick the same way it did, centuries ago. My patience may change but in that time, I learn to keep steadfast. After all, patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet
April 16, 2013 § 3 Comments
I had always consider rolled oats as such a versatile ingredient. A dry mix of oats, dried fruits and nuts along with some milk for a simple breakfast on the go. On a quiet afternoon, when everyone is away at work or school, I find myself stirring the same mix with maple syrup/honey. Preheating the oven, reaching into the depths of our kitchen cabinet for the classic Mason Cash deep mixing bowl, and rustic wooden spoon. I quite enjoy getting my fingers messy despite having a clean spoon. It’s much advised for the weak-willed adults who cannot seem to pass the rich sweetness of luscious natural sap or nectar.
Just to warn you, this recipe is not for a law-abiding baker. It is for those who cannot seem to understand why that packet of toasted almonds or sunflower seeds has been sitting in the dry pantry for months. It is for those who want to clear out the fridge but are too afraid to make anything because they have insufficient ingredients but do not want to buy anymore.
I like my granola loose, un-clusterred, definitely crunchy and slightly caramelized. Chopped tree nuts such as almonds and cashews are more then welcomed. Seeds add some rawness to the mix and are comparatively lower in fat. I particularly like adding fresh fruits before indulging into the mix but do add some chopped apricots/cranberries for a crunchier texture.
500g of rolled oats
30g of raw brown sugar
170g of dried nuts/fruits
a pinch of salt
100g of honey/maple syrup
oil for the pan
optional, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick
Preheat oven to 160C and oil the baking sheet or cast iron pan. Mix rolled oats, honey or maple sryup or both & raw sugar/salt. Chopped up the nuts and fruits separately. Add in dried nuts and continue mixing until well incorporated. Please use your hands.
Spread the mix evenly on the baking sheet/pan and bake it for 10 minutes. Stir and scrap down the sides, bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Scatter the dried fruits once it is done and let it cool. The baking time should be around 20-25 minutes. Once it is cool, store in it a jar far away from weevils or nibblers.
favourite dried fruit + nuts combinations:
almonds + banana chips
walnuts + cranberries + dash of ground cinnamon
pistachio + apricots
sunflower seeds + sultanas + dash of allspice
April 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
There is something rather peculiar about left tables. They are mostly messy and unthought of. A dapple of spilt milk, stained coffee rims sat beneath long banters of serious conversations, crumbled bread flakes from a man who ate his sandwich while focusing too much on his phone. You can almost tell how someone eats by the way they leave their tables.
When it’s business, they drink with courtesy sips. Occasional quick gallop between deep negotiations when the other is in serious thoughts, paraphrasing vocabularies carefully in the head. A chance to drink up before one is judged to be seemingly rude for not listening. They leave with prudence, empty cups and no napkins. When it’s two ladies, they would sit all afternoon. Granted there will be two slices of pretty cakes and lattes, it would last longer. You can hear loud laughters from this end of the room, sporadic whispers of gossips and childish giggles. They leave unhurried with chairs untucked, napkins on the table or floor, forks with bits of cake intact and stained coffee spoons. Perhaps they enjoy their coffee sweetened much like their lives, sugar coated with fancy dresses and accessories.
After waiting tables for five years, I have gotten used to cleaning other’s mess. “That’s her job”, you may say, but I have a list of pet peeves of how people should treat a common space. A cafe is much appreciated with honest respect and sincere humility. I always treat it as my own home, keeping it tidy with careful thoughts for the next person stepping in.
Chef J used to say, “Make these chocolate truffles as if you are making them for yourself and loved ones. Be good to yourself. Be good to others.”
While admiring left tables, I think of the conversations and thoughts taken place. Whether they agreed to disagree, what they think of the new spring/summer couture dresses, what colour they are going to paint their walls, what’s for dinner or whether they will ever meet again. At that moment, I have the privilege to be part of their history, unnoticed or so. To provide a wholesome meal, a sweet treat or just a cup of joe. I preserve the empty unkept space for a moment. After it ends, I carry on with the same duties for other people. In it, I learn the beauty to endings. That there is no real ending, but a continuation to shape lives in trivial ways.
There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story. – Frank Herbert
March 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Sharing food with another is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly. – M.F.K Fisher.
Lately, it’s been about sharing. Sharing space, sharing time, sharing food and sharing even more. I learn to understand that sharing food forge a connection between people. Sharing a pot of spicy curry with a serving spoon, being aware of taking enough and leaving some for others, hoping for more or the best bits to be left behind so you can savour it quietly. A consideration we were taught one way or another that depicts how we enjoy a meal.
At Ben Thanh market in Ho Chin Minh City, I saw two ladies sharing a shallow bowl of steamed rice, stir fried vegetables and meats. They sat on small stools and leaned over their lunch, occasionally tilting their heads up to watch the crowd. I stood from a distance observing their little break as they wait for each other to take a scoop and go ahead with their own. They didn’t talk much but seem to understand what each other’s preferences. She pushed a last piece of meat over and ate some more vegetable; her friend casually nod her head, a gentle gesture of gratitude.They chewed their food and sat upright, staring at opposite directions. Watching the crowded market go by its usual routine.
Back at home, I have been having more cherished meals. Exploring fresh ingredients found in the market, spending a little longer than usual and planning the meals in our heads. More diced shallots for flavour, watercress for a refreshing aroma and white pepper for a good kick. We place our groceries on the kitchen counter and carry out those careful thoughts. I put my culinary skills/habits aside and allow space for growth. I learn his ways of cooking and love for slow-cook soup. A clear broth with meat and other hearty ingredients simmered over low heat. I reminisced the younger days when every family meal came with a bowl of warm soup; he reminisced the days when his family devoured in simple stews and congee.
We carried on the little habits of eating/cooking, bringing those conversations to the kitchen and table Resurfacing good and bad characters that make us human. Learning, accepting, caring, trusting and growing as days go by.