Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pandan Chiffon Cake

"Hello ladies, look at your cake, now back to mine, now back at your cake, now back to mine. Sadly, yours isn’t mine, but if you stopped using pandan essence and switched to real pandan extract, yours could smell like mine."

Forgive me! I was just having fun doing my own silly parody on that Old Spice ad. :)

Let's do it again, shall we?

Look at that cake. Anyone who has tasted pandan will tell you, this is impossible to resist.

Look at that tender, tearaway-soft texture ... so delicate, it instantly draped itself over the scalloped edges of my plate.

Look at that pastel green hue - all natural, as it should be. Nothing garish, nothing gaudy.

Bring it close and inhale, and let its heady sweet scent intoxicate you. Take time to smell the roses pandan. ;)

I guess you can never really fully describe pandan ... you just have to taste it to understand it.

Would it surprise you if I told you this was my very first Pandan Chiffon Cake? Yes, I am terribly ashamed of myself. To live in southeast asia where pandan is cheap and abundant, yet never have made a cake out of it is nothing short of sacrilege.

Truth is, I didn't have the cake tin and I never entertained the thought of buying one. My kitchen drawers are perpetually filled to the brim with all sorts of ... things, and a chiffon cake tin is really quite bulky. Recently though, I did a major clean out. Like, MASSIVE. Anything I hadn't touched in a year, I nonchalantly disposed.

It's called "letting go".

And what do you do with new storage space? Why, buy new stuff to fill it up!

It's called "vicious cycle".

Anywaaaaay, I finally bought the tin and Pandan Chiffon was hands-down, the priority on my to-bake list. I guess you might see more chiffon cakes from me now?

(from Jun's Indochine Kitchen)
My notes in italics.

You need a 22-cm chiffon cake tin for this.

Ingredients A
- 7 egg yolks
- 75g coconut milk*
- Concentrated fresh pandan extract**
- 150g flour
- 4g baking powder (1 scant tsp)
- 95g sugar (can reduce to 75g)
- 3g salt
- 83g vegetable oil (it's about 83ml)

* Coconut milk
- Option 1: freshly squeezed, first press coconut milk. I think you'd need to buy 1 coconut (grated). You'd also need a coffee sock or cheesecloth, and muscle power. At the very most, add 1 or 2 tbsps of water to the grated coconut before you squeeze. Do not dilute the natural creaminess of coconut milk.

- Option 2 (and one which involves no work): Fresh pasteurised coconut milk. They are usually sold at the refrigerated sections of supermarkets (where they stock the tofu, yellow noodles, etc).

Do not use packet coconut cream (like Kara or Ayam brand) because it is too rich. I speak from experience because I stupidly did. Haha, how embarrassing! ;) My cake was so moist from all that coconut oil, it sprang right out of the pan when I tried to cool it upside down. Tee hee!

**I used 30 fresh pandan leaves + 1/2 cup water and blitzed in a food processor. Squeeze out the juice from the pulp and leave it in a glass overnight in the fridge. Use only the green stuff that settles at the bottom of the glass - Wendy shows us how it's done. And if you can't get fresh pandan leaves from where you are, bottled essence will have to do (use 4g or 1 tsp), in which case, you have my heartfelt sympathy.

Ingredients B
- 7 egg whites
- 100 g sugar

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.

2. Combine egg yolks, coconut milk and pandan extract in a mixing bowl. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture and sugar into the bowl. Add vegetable oil and whisk everything to combine.

3. In a separate and clean bowl, beat egg whites and sugar together till it forms soft peaks.

4. Slowly fold egg white into egg yolk mixture in 3-4 additions.

5. Pour cake mixture into an ungreased tube pan.

6. Bake for 45 minutes.

7. Flip the pan upside down against a bottle on kitchen counter and let cool for 25-30 minutes. Loosen side of cake with a knife.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Garlic Buttered Pasta

Fast food: garlic buttered pasta, roasted chicken and a side of broccoli.

Following my previous post, I thought it would be most appropriate to share a pasta dish next. :)

I cooked this during the recent school holidays for my daughter and her friends. It was a last minute get-together and of all times, they chose to come over at 11am. *big groan*

Obviously, I had to ensure a (somewhat) proper lunch was provided. *grumble grumble*

Hey, school holidays are very precious to me, you know? It's when I get to laze in bed and allow everything to fall apart. The kids run amok and I couldn't care less, so you can imagine how reluctantly I tore my bedraggled self from the cosy comfort of my bed.

I trudged to the kitchen to see what I could churn out under short notice, and after a good 5 minutes of vacant staring into my fridge - "Earth calling Ju, Earth calling Ju" - I decided to make a buttered pasta, a side of blanched veggies and a roasted half-chicken. Fast and painless. Perfect!

You know, I absolutely hate cooking under pressure because I just can't think on my feet. The kids in Junior Masterchef would surely beat me hands down (actually, they'd beat many, many adults hands down).

Also, I tend to be extra clumsy and messy when I cook-on-demand ... the kitchen always ends up looking like a hurricane-swept zone after I am done. This time was no different - ONE. BIG. MESS.

Maybe it was the stress of rushing out food, but I felt completely spent afterward. I didn't even cut up the roasted chicken, or bother twirling the spaghetti. In fact, if you look at my photo, I literally plonked everything onto big serving dishes, snapped 2 shots, and told the girls to "help yourselves!"

All I wanted was a nice shower, followed by some durians, and then slink back into bed once more ... all three of which I did. :)

(from tasteofhome)

Yield: 4 servings

- 2 cups uncooked small pasta shells (I used 3/4 packet spaghetti)
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced (I used 6 cloves)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
- Dash of salt
- Dash of pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute garlic in butter (make sure under low heat - the garlic and butter should not brown). Remove from the heat. Drain pasta; add to garlic butter. Stir in the parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper; toss to coat.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Appreciate The Cook

Here's a conversation with my daughter 4 days ago, when I picked her up from class ...

Me: "What's that you're holding? Let me see."

Daughter (handing over container to me): "Spaghetti bolognese."

Me (sniffing the contents): "Oh? Where did you get it?"

Daughter: "We cooked it for our Home Economics class today and it tastes HORRIBLE!" (dramatically throws up hands in the air)

Me: "What do you mean horrible? Was it horrible to cook or horrible to eat?"

Daughter: "BOTH! The ingredients they gave us looked so ... UGH. And the spaghetti tasted so ... UGH!"

Me (laughing at the disgust on her face): "Which one of your classmates cooked the best?"

Daughter (bordering on shrieking): "No one! Everyone tasted everyone's and EVERYTHING TASTED THE SAME - BAD!"

Me: "Ahhh, so aren't you glad you don't have to eat this sort of ... erm ... stuff at home?" (sorry, couldn't resist)

Daughter (eyes opened so wide they are almost popping out): "Yes. YES! The spaghetti you make tastes so good. OMG, this (points at the container) is trash. Horrible!"

Me (grinning): "Good, I'm glad you know!" (sorry, couldn't resist again)

Daughter: "Just throw that thing away when we get home. Yuck."

And throw away I did, but not before snapping a photo. :)

"I am so gonna blog this," I thought to myself. Now having done that, can I just say, this will surely go down as one of my favourite posts? Tee hee!

And if you are a home cook who puts food on the table for others, day in and day out, this post is dedicated to you. :)

As I mentioned in my About Ju page, " ... the best way to get to know [my] food is by cooking it ... it makes for a more aware and discerning eater. It makes one understand the food and appreciate the cook."

Those last 3 words were written with you in mind, my dear kiddos. *wink*