Monday, September 25, 2006

Lemon Cheese Cake Virgin No More, and Duck Pasta

When I got a request from now 8 year old friend, and recent baker, to make a lemon cheese cake for her birthday I was hesitant because, 1. lemon is not a universally adored fruit, unlike its rounder sibling, the orange, 2. I have never attempted a lemon cheese cake, 3. now that I am getting paid for these things, there's a whole lot more stressed involved.

Fortunately, I have like 200 cookbooks at my disposal, so finding a recipe for lemon cheesecake was as easy as looking for news on snatch thieves in the local papers. But I think we all gravitate to our roots eventually, and I found myself using Catherine Lau's recipe from Cheese cake seduction. What I like about her recipes is that they are quite easy to follow.

Fortunately, it turned out quite well. It was fairly light, not too sour, just the right amount of zest, and well, a few of my friends had seconds, and since they were paying for it, I guess I could have relied on them for brutal honesty if the cake stank.

I originally wanted to add a layer of chocolate in between the biscuit base and the cheese filling, but completely forgot. Last Friday, I was doing some "market research" and had a slice of lemon cheesecake in Chinoz on the Park, which had chocolate glaze. But that was a baked cheese cake. This particular one, as you can see, is the chilled variety.

The other thing I tried over the weekend, which was inspired by the Duck Pasta in Delicious, was Roast Duck Pasta. Too lazy to cook the duck myself, I bought some roast duck.

Although none of my guest raved about this, I personally liked it very much, and even had the leftovers for lunch the next day. This is how I went about it.

Some diced raw garlic (about 1 bulb, I guess)
Oyster Mushrooms, sliced finely (about 300gms)
Half a Roast Duck, deboned, and sliced finely
Generous amount of coriander, finely chopped
10 basil leaves, finely chopped
250ml olive oil
4 red chillies, diced

500gms vermicelli pasta

1. Heat a little bit of the olive oil, or grapeseed oil, fry a small portion of the garlic until fragrant, and fry the roast duck together with the oyster mushrooms, to impart a lovely garlicky ducky flavour to the mushrooms. Set aside

2. Using rest of olive oil, slowly fry the garlic, and diced chilli. It should give a lovely aroma.

3. Boil the pasta to al dente.

4. Toss all the ingredients together, and sprinkle chopped herbs to incorporate.

5. Serve with parmesan if desired.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Culinary CPR

I have to say that the response to my semi commercial venture has been very encouraging. Now, the proof of the pudding is in the eating as the old adage goes, so, it remains to be seen how many repeat orders I have. Last week I've had to cater the following: Apple Pie, Tiramisu Cake, Tiramisu in A Tray, Peach and Banana Crumble, Scones, Chocolate Tart, Lemon Pistachio Sour Cream Cake, Banana Walnut Loaf, plus a side "encore" of a butter cake for Evil Twin's wife's birthday during bible study, but she no show, so the cake went to my mother's cell group.

A Chocolate Brownie That Doubled Up as a Birthday cake on Thursday night, for Toekneetoe

The major bulk of orders were for pickup on Saturday afternoon. I had premade the chocolate tart the night before, and plonked it in the fridge. Honestly, I don't know if it was the domestic help's fault, or my own, but to my abject horror, the next day, when we took it out, the whole tart pastry had turned soggy from water accumulated in condensation of sorts. Now, if I had been serving friends, it wouldn't have bothered me too much, but as this was a first time sale, I had to make a proper first impression, so desperately tried to dehydrate the tart, by placing it on a perforated pizza pan, and warming in on a low heat.

Can you see the soggy pastry?

But after half an hour, I gave up the CPR, and thankfully, had a spare pie tart casing, so after informing the buyer that I need some extra time, managed to whip up a new chocolate tart.

I subsequently froze the old tart, (no, I am not referring to cryogenically freezing some woman), which was subsequently served to the other cell group as well. I had a taste of it, and actually, it wasn't bad. However, if you are a not a chocaholic, I think this is way too rich for the average person, and can only be taken in small doses. Slithers of it. And even then, this recipe is not 100% solid chocolate, unlike some other recipes. Half of it is actually baked, with eggs, cream, cocoa, etc....

My latest treat to myself, Jamie Oliver's new book. I am not really a JO fan, but I got a 20% discount plus free brolly, so I am a reallll sucker for these things.

Had a glance through, it's typical Jamie Oliver, simplicity is its trademark. However the dessert section is disappointingly short. I think there are only about 20 types of desserts featured. One or two do look rather delectable, but the rest...hmmmmm......

Anyone want to buy it off me???

Monday, September 11, 2006

Weekend Travails

Yikes!!! I've been baking everyday since Friday. On Friday, it was the birthday cake for friend's birthday party, (no cell group), who requested the flourless chocolate cakes. Again, let me reiterate that decoration is not my forte. I really need to attend some cake decoration class, so if any of you have any pointers as to who conducts these classes, without making it like a diploma course with commensurate pricing, do let me know.

Starting with Friday night, this was the outcome of 34 pieces of flourless chocolate cakes piled together. The problem with this cake was the stress involved in getting it to the destination without it toppling. Of course, I had structurally enforced with with skewers, but you never know, it's like the equivalent of 10 on a Richter Scale when the car goes over some potholes in KL!!

On Friday night itself, I get an order from Datin, asking for passion fruit cheesecake, lemon meringue pie and scones. Aiyo, wheeeeeere to find passion fruit at such last minute. Hardly something I can buy in the wet market, or even cold storage. After much objection, she resigned herself to any cheesecake. I asked if she wanted the chilled variety or baked. Fortunately, it was the former, so she got an orange cheesecake. I have NOOO idea how this one tasted. Lemon Meringue Pie, now becoming a standard order, wasn't much of a problem.

Fellow gym member had ordered a Durian Poppy Seed Cake as well. (all this was for Sunday morning pick up). So on Saturday night, before going off to join my pals for a spot of Pok Kuat (Dead Gin), I had to basically make, the cheesecake, the lemon meringue pie, the durian poppy seed cake, and the sponge base for Baby Boy's 4th birthday on Sunday.

On Sunday, after church, and after a nap, had to prepare Scones, Chicken Pies and assemble the chocolate oreo cake for the birthday party.

The chocolate oreo cake, which in my opinion, tasted better than it looked. I had just plonked on some power ranger toys as decoration, coz that's what the kid wanted. Then again, I spent all of 15 minutes icing it, with ganache.

These chicken pies sold out like hotcakes at the tea party. It was a last minute inclusion in the menu. Quite handy albeit a bit more costly to use the disposal tin foil pie containers.

The scones which were also popular, but not as popular as the pies.

Although I did get the following compliments for the scones:

wendy says:
oi! your scones were lovely...

datin says:
Scones r crazy! We went berserk. Orga*****.


Monday, September 04, 2006

All Kinds Of New Experiments

I've been dying to try these Mini Beef Pies In Guinness (Stout) that I saw in AWW. It's meant to be finger food, and are bite sized, the size of the mini muffins....which in my opinion, is too small, and too much work. The ingredients call for beef, guinness stout, beef stock etc...and ready rolled shortcrust pastry.

Mid valley megamall at the moment is quite an exasperating place to do grocery shopping, coz both Carrefour and Jusco are undergoing renovation, and half the stuff is not available, which includes, PASTRY. So I am combing the mall on Thursday night is a futile quest for ready made shortcrust.

Conclusion : The supermarket that sells the most variety of ready pastry, is Village Grocer, Bangsar Village. You can get Pampas Puff Pastry, Shortcrust, Borg Puff Pastry, Canola Pastry, Filo, etc etc...Not even cold storage has that variety.

I decided to experiment on my cell group first, on Friday night. Beef in guinness stout is not everyone's cup of tea, or stout, or beer. Anyway, I decided on an assortment of puff and shortcrust pastry. Now, since I couldnt find ready rolled shortcrust, I had to contend with the block of shortcrust, which you have to roll yourself. And as I forgot to defrost it early enough, it was still too hard. After zapping in microwave, it was too soft. Looked like a disaster from +the word go

Muffin Sized (not mini muffin) Beef Pies in Guinness

For my main event on Saturday, I got lazy, and made just one big pie

Also made cream puffs,

with very badly made custard, that turned out looking like scrambled eggs.

I must try to make a creme patisserie from scratch.

Friend ordered a durian cake, which I had to make by Sunday night. As it is chock full of fresh cream, I hope that along the way, the cream doesn't melt, in transit. Unlike some commercial cakes, that use non dairy cream, which hold its form, fresh cream melts darn fast. Again, this is a guinea pig case.... It's my first attempt at this type of durian cake, inspired of course by my recent less than pleasant experience at the cafe mentioned in previous post.

On Saturday night, I got an emergency order from friend, for birthday cake with purple icing. Decorative cakes are not my forte, but since she wasn't in a position to be choosy, I relented. (which was a bad idea coz was up till 4am on Saturday partying, and was sleep deprived on Sunday). Forgot to take a picture of the purple cake.

As I was getting the cake ready, I get YET another SOS from friend, who said her restaurant had run out of dessert. It was 2.30pm, and she was picking up purple cake at 4.30pm, so the only dessert I could quickly whip up for her was the peach and banana crumble.