Archive | May 2010

Ang-moh Fish Soup

Fish soupThe first time I tasted fish soup that is entirely different from the good old hawker favourite fish slice bee hoon soup was two years ago, when I first moved to Germany. Granted, I have tried some fish chowder at an American style restaurant in Sg before. But a clear fish soup, nope.

Actually Bremen is not known for seafood. In fact, all the prawns and most of the fish I have eaten thus far were frozen. It’s ironic because we are an hour’s drive from Bremerhaven where there is a big port and two hours’ drive from Hamburg’s Fisch Markt. Still, the fish rarely make it here fresh. They are either already smoked or marinated.

I suppose the first fish soup I had was probably made also with frozen fish but really, my non-gourmet savoury tongue couldn’t tell. It was served at a local cafe with a variety of typical german and other european dishes. I figure the fish soup is somewhat Italian in origin because the soup is tinged with tomato red. The taste of fish is strong but not overpowering, and that without the use of ginger. Nonetheless, this fish soup experience didn’t motivate me to recreate it in my own kitchen.

The most recent fish soup I had at Gosch Sylt, a renowned seafood bistro in the Lloyd Passage in the city, did just that. A. recommended the soup to me a couple of weeks back but it took some convincing for the Mister to agree to lunch  there because it’s been branded a place for snobs. We didn’t regret the decision though because the fish soup was absolutely inspiring and the Mister’s salmon steak was well worth the price.

This photo brings you to the Gosch Sylt website.

I took a really long time to savour the soup so as to remember the taste, in order to decide which herbs to use later. A. advised that I should try to get fish bones but really, we both know that’s somewhat far fetched. A jar of gourmet fish stock has to suffice.

I’m the sort of cook who prefers recipes with few and preferably easily obtainable ingredients. So here’s my version of an ang-moh fish soup, which is simple yet satisfying.


Ingredients

  • 300g of 2-3 different types of fish, preferably deboned filets ( I used salmon and sutchi)
  • 100g mussels (optional but recommended as they add flavour and texture)
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 800 ml fish stock
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 -2 tbs dried parsley
  • 1-2 tsp dried tarragon (optional; sharpens taste of soup)

Method

  • Cut fish into bite-sized pieces
  • Bring fish stock to a boil and add white wine
  • Allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add fish (and musels) to soup
  • Add parsley, salt, (tarragon) to taste
  • Simmer soup for another 20 mins

Makes 2 generous portions

Drink up your DHA!

Fish soup with baguette

Preggie notes:

  • As we know, DHA is an important aid in fetal development, especially of the brain. Fish is definitely an excellent source. Choose wisely though because some fish may contain either too high a level of mercury or pollutants.
  • White wine? During pregnancy? Well, after half hour of simmering, the alcohol in the wine has mostly vaporised, leaving only the desired taste of wine.

Recipe Review – Cheesy Broccoli Crepes

Cheesy broccoli crepe
I realise I have spent more time looking for recipes online than trying out the recipes themselves. At the end of the day, it may seem more worthwhile to have made a failed recipe than searching for the perfect one. Nonetheless, I hate to have to dump food. That’s why I continue to look out for reliable recipes on the Internet.

I steer clear of certain ‘big’ websites with thousands of recipes and ten thousand more variations of one dish. It’s always tempting to try a recipe which has 500 reviews. Careful reading reveals that there are plenty of tweaking done by the reviewers in order to make the dish tasty. So the 5-star rating is pretty pointless.

The recipes that I try nowadays are found mostly on blogs by food enthusiasts, well thronged by loyal followers. These are reliable and rarely turn out inedible or bland. The recipe I’m reviewing in this post comes from http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au. It’s a blog managed by Amanda & Debbie. The first recipe I tried from them is the lemon meringue pie. It turned out like the one from Cedele Depot, which is dearly missed. Needless to say,  it prompted me to try a few of their other recipes.

The cheesy broccoli crepes are relatively simple but a little tedious to make because the crepes have to be made separately.

Today’s my first successful attempt at making some decent crepes. I have tried to make crepes countless times but never succeeded in getting them to be as thin as I like it to be. The crepe recipe from exclusivelyfood is amazingly good. The ingredients are simple – eggs, flour and milk. And they really did turn out to be tender and delicate as the blog claimed. Without butter and sugar, it’s even a pretty healthy crepe.

The mix of cheese, cream and mayonnaise for the broccoli filling is really yummy. Don’t feel guilty about sneaking spoonfuls of it while assembling the crepes. It’s perfectly normal.

Freshly baked crepes

The recipe is good to use as it is. I didn’t change a thing. Here are however some additional notes:

  • You can use frozen or refridgerated readymade crepes. But I strongly advocate that you give the crepe recipe a try because it’s plain and doesn’t contain unnecessary amounts of fat and sugar.
  • While making the crepe, I always remove the pan to the side to cool for a few seconds before pouring the batter in. This prevents the batter from cooking before you can spread it out decently. It also helps to own a wooden crepe spreader.
  • Wooden crepe spreader

  • Since the batter does not contain any fat, you may need to oil the pan once every three crepes to prevent them from sticking to the pan or burning too quickly.
  • I managed to make only 6 rather sparsely filled crepes. The portion of filling would definitely be doubled next time. Not that I don’t like crepes. I love them. But if you’re also a HPLC person, you will likewise make very fat crepes so that you are eating more broccoli filling than crepe.
  • The serving size Amanda and Debbie recommended is 2 crepes per person. Initially, I was wondering if I would really stop at two. I did. They are filling.

The recipe can be found here.


This Caramel Macaron or That Caramel Macaron ?

Creamy caramel macaron
When I first offered macarons on DaWanda, I started off with creamy caramel macarons using PH’s recipe. They were relatively well-received but it seems most prefer caramel rather than caramel buttercream. Actually the only ingredient difference between the two is the amount of butter used. Nonetheless, the consistency of the macaron is altered significantly.

As already known, macaron shells should be a little chewy. So baking caramel macarons on a low mac mojo day is definitely asking for trouble because chewy caramel and chewy macaron shells end up either in the trash or in a doggie’s mouth.


I haven’t had problems with my caramel macarons until a customer gave me feedback last week that the ones he received were so hard, they made nice knocking noises on the tabletop but his doggies enjoyed them nonetheless. Good that I had some in my fridge and tested one promptly. Indeed, it was barely chewable. My guess is that it hasn’t been matured sufficiently. The one I tried the next day tasted much like the ones I have been sending out.

I concede anyhow that caramel is not a favourite flavour of macarons for me because the combination is simply too sweet. But I do enjoy caramel a lot. Motivated by the failure of the most recent batch and a personal desire to make a yummy caramel macaron for self, I decided to go back to PH’s recipe of salted caramel. PH says in his  book that a butter based cream brings out the taste of the caramelised sugar better (if my years of French didn’t fail me). I personally feel that this lighter version of caramel, made with more butter, makes it a more suitable filling for macarons because it is definitely not chewy and possibly lends more moisture to the macaron shells.

Jar of caramel buttercream
I think I’ve fallen in love with caramel macarons all over again…

Pitch Black Sweeties

P1010246

Are macarons too glam to be filled with breakfast spreads? Or is it okay to normalise them with nutella and peanut butter? Whichever side of the macaron you are on, it seems these almond meringue shells are destined to make anyone who has a sweet tooth happy. Some time back, a customer who took the leap of faith from macarons of chocolate, to pistachio, to salted caramel asked for some macarons of licorice. I know somehow it will eventually happen; getting a request for a flavour which I personally abhor. Nonetheless, flavour experiments are always exciting.

I decided that I would stick to buttercream as the filling and attempt to ‘licorise’ it. After some research on the internet, I found a website that sells everything and anything licorice and bought a sampler bottle of licorice powder. For the uninitiated, licorice is a flavouring extracted from a root and thus licorice powder is light brown and not black in colour. The pitch black colour of licorice candies is the result of the usage of molasses and most probably food colouring. Nonetheless, the colour association is now age-old and to keep to the tradition, I baked some really dark brown, almost black macaron shells.

P1010276

The buttercream was simply whipped with the licorice powder for the filling. A generous amount of licorice powder was added to the buttercream and the taste made me cringe and simulated a hypothetical heart seizure but it was probably necessary so that the licorice flavour is brought out in the final macaron creation. Even if I can’t decide whether macarons should remain haute couture, I know one thing for sure – I hate lame macarons. If the dark chocolate was supposedly infused with the finest of Earl Grey leaves, I shouldn’t have to be left wondering, “Hmmm…did the lady pack the wrong flavour?” Not to mention that I paid 2,45SGD for one.

Now, I await the verdict of these pitch black sweeties from a bona fide licorice lover.

Hearty mushroom soup – The perfect light dinner

P1010155
The best mushroom soup one can ever have would be found in Poland. In fact, the best of any mushroom dishes would have to be had in Poland. That’s because the assortment of forest mushrooms is tremendous. If you are a mushroom freak, you should plan a summer trip to Poland. During summer, mushroom picking is a favourite family outing. The collected mushrooms are either promptly used to cook a cauldron of soup or preserved in jars to be served later as appetisers.

Unfortunately, back home, the supermarket choices are limited to white or brown button mushrooms, and if I’m very lucky, oyster mushrooms. I’m always hesitant to make mushroom soup, fully aware of the high standards of mushroom dishes the Mister has grown up with. Anyhow,  I chanced upon a Jamie Oliver recipe that persuaded me to throw caution into the wind and be convinced that this mushroom soup would semi-satisfy a mushroom soup craving.

The secret to transforming an ordinary mushroom soup into a smacking good one seems to lie in the use of dried porcini. Porcini is a type of mushroom with a pronounced flavour. When dried, the piquancy is further increased. Even though the main ingredients used in the recipe below are button and oyster mushrooms, I find the taste of the soup edging somewhat towards that of the ones tasted in Poland. Not bad at all.

I always wonder how restaurants make thick mushroom soup with floating pieces of mushroom. After reading Jamie’s recipe, I know. Puree only half of the soup mixture and then remix them. Ensure that the mushrooms are very soft before you puree them. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be very smooth. The result is a thick soup and with bite too.

As mushrooms are filling, this soup is perfect as a main course for dinner on days where you had too much for lunch. In line with my HPLC diet, I had it with some vegetables, simply boiled and lightly buttered.

Recipe simplified from a Jamie Oliver original.

Ingredients

  • 600g mushrooms, preferably a mix
  • 5 pieces dried porcini
  • 30g butter
  • 1 medium-sized onion, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 600-750 ml vegetable stock
  • handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp of cream (if one can afford the fats)

Method

  • Soak dried porcini in hot water till they are softened. Chop them up.
  • Chop mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Mince garlic and onion
  • Melt butter in a big pot
  • Add mushrooms and stir fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add garlic and onion
  • Allow mixture to cook for about half hour, until the juices released by the mushrooms are almost gone
  • Add porcini, the soaking liquid, stock, parsley and bay leaves and salt to taste
  • Simmer for another half hour or so.
  • Remove half of the soup to a separate big bowl and puree
  • Add pureed soup back into pot. Stir to combine.
  • Add cream, if using

Monogram Chic

Birthday Macarons

Got a request to bake a whole bunch of macarons for her children’s birthday party last week. I decided to spruce a couple of macarons up a bit to make the little ones smile.

Monograming is not difficult at all. Just melt some baking chocolate either in the microwave or over a water bath and pipe using a very fine nozzle. I used Wilton No. 1.

Birthday Macaron Favours

Macaron Birthday Favour
Everyone’s heard of wedding favours but how about birthday favours? A lady contacted me recently on DaWanda, asking me if I could prepare small packs of macarons as gifts for guests of her birthday party.

Macaron Birthday Favour II
Since they have to be shipped, the packing has to be somewhat sturdy so flimsy bags do not come into consideration. I had some acrylic pieces on hand and made a simple clear box as a sample. I think macarons are meant to be showpieces and hiding them away in opaque boxes are such a pity sometimes.

Macaron Birthday Favour