The Cook Book Challenge – Week 14 : Japanese

Week 14 : Japanese
Recipe : Matcha Chiffon Cake
Cook Book :  New Tastes in Green Tea by Matsuko Tokunaga

I know technically a chiffon cake is not traditionally Japenese but I saw this week’s theme and I thought of Matcha green tea. Matcha is a Japanese green tea which is traditionally used in Tea Ceremonies but is now more commonly used as a flavouring ingredient in sweets.

I bought this book last year because of the different ice tea flavour ideas and for the different ways tea can be used as an ingredient.  I’ve had my eye on the Green tea chiffon cake for a while.  Today was the perfect time to bake it.  I have never used tea as an ingredient before and I was looking forward to baking this.  Unfortunately, as you can see from the photo below, it didn’t turn out as green as I hoped for and it didn’t rise much.  Contrary to that, though, the green tea flavour was definitely present and the cake turned out to be very airy and soft.  I am still happy with the outcome.
  • 115 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp matcha
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 tbls vegetable oil
  • 1/3 water
  • 4 egg whites
  1. Preheat oven to 170c
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and matcha.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the egg yolks and beat until the mixture turns pale in colour. Add the oil and water and mix.
  4. Gradually add the sifted flour to the mixture and lightly mix.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and slowly add remaining sugar. Continue beating until peaks form.
  6. Mix 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter.
  7. Fold the rest of the egg whites in, stirring carefully.
  8. Pour batter into an angel cake tin.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  10. Place the pan upside down and let it cool completely.
  11. Can be served with fresh whipped cream.

Bon Appetite,

The Cook Book Challenge – Week 13 : Love

Week 13 : Love
Recipe :  Red Velvet Cupcakes
Cook Book : Jamie’s America by Jamie Oliver
The buzz about red velvet cupcakes are in the air.  I’ve never eaten one  or even seen one.  So I had to see what the fuss was all about.  I thought making red velvet cakes will be perfect for Valentines Day and for this week’s theme for the cook book challenge: Love.   After all, red is the colour of love, isn’t it?
Hubby and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day though I have received roses some years in the past.  This year we celebrated it with my brother, @mrEd2U and his family.
The only thing that I was worried about while baking these little beauties was if it will turn out red enough.  I have read blogs where they had problems with the colour where the cupcakes turned out more brown than red.  I had red food colouring in the pantry but was one of those cheapo ones that come in a pack of 4 with 3 other colours.  To make sure, I went out and bought a proper red food colour.  From the photo below, you can see that colour of the cupcakes turned out just fine.
I made this a family affair and let my 3yo help decorate it.  For the frosting, I opted to use a chocolate ganache and not the frosting included in the cook book recipe.

I loved how it turned out.  It was, like it’s name, velvety.  It was light and airy.

Fresh out of the oven
Makes 12 cupcakes
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 large egg
sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tablespoon of red food colouring ( I only used 2 tbls)
2 heaped tbls cocoa powder
150g plain flour
125ml buttermilk
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1 1/2 white wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 180degC and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
Using an electric mixer cream your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Gently beat in the egg, a pinch of salt, the vanilla extract and the red food colouring.  In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa and plain flour and fold half of it into your butter mix, followed by half the buttermilk.  Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk until you have a smooth mixture.
In a small bowl, mix your bicarb of soda and white wine vinegar together so it fizzes up, and stir this into your cake mix.
Divide the mixture between your cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  To check they’re cooked through, insert a skewer into the centre of a cake- if it comes out clean, they’re perfect, if not just pop them back into the oven for another couple of minutes.  Leave them to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely while you make your frosting.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
230g dark chocolate, chopped
250ml of cream
Place the chocolate in a large bowl.  Heat the cream on medium heat until it comes to a boil.  Remove from the heat and pour into the chocolate.  Stir till completely mixed.  Cool completely by placing in the refrigerator.  When cool, whip using an electric beater. Whip till you get the desired texture.
Bon Appetite,

The Cook Book Challenge – Week 12 : Eggs

Week 12 : Eggs

Recipe : Egg Pasta Dough ( Pasta all’Uovo )
Cook Book : Italia by Antonio Carluccio
I was really nervous about this weeks challenge.  I have never made pasta from scratch before but have been wanting to do it for ages. Since my mum had the  pasta machhine and never used it, I thought it was finally to give it’s first run.

I looked for the most simple recipe I could find from my cook books and found this recipe.  It only needs 2 main ingredients.  How simple is that?  Egg and Strong flour.  It is so simple that I will make my own pasta again.  The taste and texture of home made pasta is far superior to store bought dry pasta.  It’s very silky and soft and the best thing is that you know exactly what went in it

I didn’t take any photos of me using the pasta maker, simply because I didn’t want to show the huge mess I made. Flour everywhere.  I’m such a messy cook.
Recipe :
400g Italian ’00’ flour, plus extra to dust
4 large fresh eggs
large pinch of salt
Pile the flour in a mound on a surface and make a well in the middle.  Break the eggs into the well and add the salt.  Stir the eggs into the flour, with a fork at first and then with your hands, until it forms a coarse paste.  Add a little more flour if too moist and a little water if too dry.
Now knead the pasta dough using the pasta machine until it is smooth and workable, not too soft and not too hard.  Cover  the dough with a cloth and rest for 15 to 30 minutes before rolling out.

Divide the dough into 4 or 5 portions.  In the machine, pass the dough through the rollers, a portion at a time, decreasing the gap between the rollers each time, so that the dough becomes thinner and longer.  Repeat this until you obtain the desired thickness: 3-4mm for lasagne and cannelloni;  1.5-2mm for stuffed pasta.  Then either pass through the cutting rollers to make various sizes of ribbon or cut into sheets.

Cook fresh pasta in a large saucepan, allowing 1 litre water per 100g pasta plus 2 tsp salt.  Cooking time varies according to the kind of pasta, it’s thickness and whether it is stuffed, but home made pasta ribbons will take about 3 minutes.

I wanted to make lasagne so I rolled out the pasta into thin sheets and cooked for about 3 minutes a couple at a time.

The pasta sauce for the lasagne
The finished Lasagne with the home made egg pasta
I served the lasagne with home made garlic and herb bread.

Bon Appetite,

The Cook Book Challenge – Week 11 : Mixed

Week 11 : Mixed
Recipe :  Mixed Grill
Cook Book : Tales and Recipes from a Travelling Cook by Iain Hewitson
I have to admit that the choice of dish for this week’s Cook book challenge theme was decided by Hubby.  We recently completed our backyard and we now love to spend time outside on warm balmy evenings.  We also restored our barbecue back to it’s original glory after years of neglect.
We now love cooking on our barbecue so for this week’s theme, we had a Mixed Grill.  The great thing about a mixed grill is that you can use whatever meat you want.  I also barbecued asparagus and yellow sweet peppers to break up all the meat.
4 think Italian sausages
4 thick pieces centre-cut fillet steak (approx. 80g each) trimmed of all fat and sinew
4 well trimmed double lamb cutlets
4 large flat field mushrooms, peeled
olive oil
freshly ground salt and pepper
4 slices lamb liver, trimmed of all fat and sinew
chopped parsley
lemon wedges
Preheat BBQ
Put sausages in simmering water and simmer gently until firm.  Drain, then barbecue sausages over moderate heat, turning regularly until well browned.
Brush meat and mushrooms with oil and barbecue over high heat to the desired degree, seasoning once sealed and removing to the side when almost ready.  (Turn while cooking to create attractive grid marks).
Oil liver, season and cook briefly over high heat.  (The liver must, at the most, be pink inside – otherwise it will be dry and tasteless.)
Arrange meat and mushrooms on plates sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Bon Appetite,

The Cook Book Challenge – Week 2 : Indian ( a catch up )

Week 2 : Cool
Recipe :  Mango Lassi
Cook Book : Floyd’s India by Keith Floyd

I love Indian food and for this Indian theme, I didn’t want to make a curry, simply because I tend to make curry a lot.  Hubby is a quarter Indian and naturally loves curry.  So I have made it my mission to find that perfect curry recipe for him.
For his birthday weekend, we had his family over and he asked for me to make Curry (surprise, surprise!).  So I thought, to accompany it, I’ll make Mango Lassi.  I’ve never made it before but have had it dozens of times.  
Puree any soft fruit of your choice, such as raspberries, strawberries, mangoes apricots or bananas, to make 250ml of puree.  Add the puree to 750 ml of natural yoghurt and 100ml of sugar syrup and blend with some ice cubes.
note:  to make sugar syrup, put 50g of sugar in a saucepan with 300ml water.  Place over moderate heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove from the heat.  Leave to cool.  The syrup can be stored in the fridge for several weeks.
Bon Appetite,

The Cook Book Challenge – Week 10 : Cool

Week 10 : Cool
Recipe :  Quick banana and strawberry Ice cream
Cook Book : Lighten up by Jill Dupleix

For this week’s cookbook challenge, I decided to use Jill’s recipe for Raspberry eclairs, without the eclairs. I used her recipe to make a VERY simple ice cream.
Once you read how simple this is, you will never think of making ice cream any other way again!   If you do want to make her healthy quick raspberry eclairs, follow the recipe below for the ice cream then sandwich it in between two sponge finger (savoiardi) biscuits.
6 firm ripe bananas
150g raspberries or strawberries
Peel the bananas and roughly chop.
Wash the berries; hull the strawberries and cut in half if large.
Place the bananas and berries in a freezer bag and freeze overnight until solid.
Soften at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
Whiz in a food processor until smooth and creamy.
Serve now as a soft serve ice cream or freeze in a plastic container for 3 hours until firm.

Bon Appetite,

The Cook Book Challenge – Week 9 : Berry

Week 9 : Berry
Recipe :  Eton Mess
Cook Book : Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson

My choice for this week’s berry challenge was Eton Mess… or rather, Hubby’s choice.  It was his birthday weekend and we had his family over for dinner.  Instead of baking a birthday cake, he asked for this.
Eton Mess is an English dessert simply made with meringue, cream and strawberries.  Taditionally it’s only made with strawberries however, being the height of summer and the markets are aboundant with all types of berries, I used a mixture.  This is so simple to make and can be made in minutes.

500g strawberries
2 tsp caster or vanilla sugar
2 tsp pomegranate juice
500ml whipping cream
4 small meringue nests
Hull and chop the strawberries and put into a bowl.  Add the sugar and pomegranate juice and leave to macerate while you whip the cream.
Whip the cream in a large bowl until thick but still soft.
Roughly crumble in 4 meringue nests – you will chunks for texture, as well as a little fine dust.
Take out a ladleful of the chopped strawberries and fold the meringued cream and rest of the fruit mixture together.
Arrange on four serving plates or glasses and top each with some of the remaining strawberries.
Bon Appetite,