Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake

We had this for breakfast on Monday. What's with the "quadruple" you ask? Well, Nigella Lawson explains that this cake is made up of cocoa, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup and grated chocolate. Love this cake for its simplicity to bake the loaf. Put everything into the food processor , blitz and pour. Easy-peasy. the chocolate syrup is a whole other thing. You want the syrup to be syrupy, not just melted sugar with cocoa. For that, you'll need to stir consistently over low heat for the liquid to turn caramel-y...if there's such a word. Easy if it's just sugar and water but with cocoa added, looking for the colour change is impossible. Doesn't help that it's simmering. It basically has to reduce to turn into this yummy thick syrup. Anyway, if this is going to be daunting, forget it. In my opinion, the syrup didn't really enhance the loaf nor did the flakes of chocolate on top. Purely aesthetic, I feel. The top did look shiny and chocolate flakes inviting but other than that, the loaf itself was to die for. Rich, moist and flavourful. Maybe it was the Valhorna Manjuri cocoa I used and the 75% dark chocolate chips? Well, Young Master's mates wiped out whatever that was left from breakfast for tea, so I didn't get a second slice to have it 'dance in my mouth' - quoting Manu Fidel.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Big Pasta with Mushroom, Parsley, Garlic & Thyme

I know...the title itself is a mouthful. I would have just called it plain Vegetarian Baked Pasta. This recipe came from Nigella Lawson's Feast and it ensues the baked rigatoni for meat-lovers from the previous page. Our family love butter-sautéed mushrooms with garlic on toast. So, baking this for Sunday lunch was a no-brainer. But working out the right quantity was a lot of brain. Nigella's recipe was to feed 16! I halved the béchamel and mushroom mixture recipes, and used only one 500gm packet of pasta (recipe called for three). I ended up baking the pasta in a 20cm dish and six large ramekins. If you're going to do this, make sure you have a large party or freeze the rest (like I did) for a weekday lunch. Cooking the white sauce may be a bit daunting for beginners but you have to start sometime because lots of comforting food involves béchamel...and even better, cheesy béchamel. Always get the roux right first. Set the stove on low fire, melt the butter and add the flour. Sprinkling them into the pan while constantly whisking helps. When you see a nice paste, add the milk. Never stop whisking. No need for vigorous whisking just a gentle and steady hand will do. Increase the heat a bit and continue whisking till it thickens. Let it come to a boil but not over-flowing it and take the sauce off the heat. You'll have a beautiful sauce for your pasta. The other thing I changed here was using three cheeses to top the pasta mixture instead of one. Less salty with less parmesan, richer with cheddar and great browning with stringy mozarella.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

I've been on sabbatical from "commercial" baking for 2 weeks now and will continue for another 2 weeks to purportedly help with Young Master's year 6 SATs equivalent. Well, I don't know how much I'm helping when I've been cooking and baking up a storm in lieu of cake decorating! Must be a stress reaction or instinctive know, cooking for his brain? Just this morning, a friend updated her Facebook status saying her son's teacher recommended fruit juices to help them. She said sure, will get some Peel Fresh (packaged juices) later. Son replied, "no mum, fresh juice"...You can already see good ol' mumsie skinning oranges. Frankly, I've been doing the same. The MOTH (who'd reason with you that fishes are friends not food if he can have his say in my meal planning) have been scrunching his face a lot lately. Yes, if you don't know, yet, fish is brain food....yeeeesss.
So, Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares - brain food or not? Well, chocolate sharpens the mind and peanut butter nourishes the brain! See? I knew I had a reason for putting this together...*snigger*. These fudgy squares are divine. By using dark chocolate and a smooth peanut butter, the match was made in heaven. They just melt in your mouth. Think these squares have been helping Young Master keep his anxiety level low?