A Quest for perfect syrup recipes

Blackberry Syrup

Ingredients
2 pints blackberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lemon, zested

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to break up blackberries as they cook. Strain syrup to remove seeds and serve warm.

Source: Eat Boutique

Orange Vanilla Simple Syrup

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla pod or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel of the orange in strips, avoiding the bitter pith. Add to the saucepan. Juice the orange and add to the saucepan.
  3. Remove the seeds from the vanilla pod and reserve for another use. Add the pod (or extract) to the syrup, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until reduced by 1/3, or until you reach the desired consistency.
  4. Remove the pod and peel, cool syrup to room temperature, and enjoy.

Source: Eat Boutique

Cranberry Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh cranberries
1 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

Place 1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) frozen or fresh cranberries, 1 cup water, and 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until cranberries are falling apart, about 15 minutes.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl and let the strainer sit over the bowl until the syrup has cooled to room temperature, about 1 hour. Discard the solids and refrigerate the syrup in a container with a tightfitting lid for up to 2 weeks.

Source: Chow.com

Nerd’s Corner:

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Simple Syrup

Coffee Granita on a Sweltering Fall Day

I always get confused on how October should feel like.  Here, in San Francisco Bay Area, it’s been sweltering hot since the summer and the severe draught drags on.  Despite an earnest effort by retail stores to lure us into the spirit of the seasons, it just doesn’t feel so… yet! I hope.

I found this easy and light recipe from My Little Expat Kitchen — and it’s really yummy.  The coconut whipped cream perfectly compliments the coffee and the mint leaves finishes it off with super refreshing feeling.

Yield: 10 small glasses

Ingredients
500 ml (2 cups) freshly brewed, strong, hot filter coffee (I was out of coffee, so I used instant coffee – 2 packets per cup and that worked out alright).
90 g demerara sugar
20 ml Kahlua or other coffee-flavored liqueur (I skipped this too.)

Special equipment: shallow baking tray or dish 33 x 24 cm in size (approximately), suitable for the freezer, plastic wrap

Preparation
Make the coffee and while still hot, pour it into a large jug and immediately add the sugar. Stir well to dissolve. Give the coffee a taste and add more sugar if needed.  Make it sweeter than you usually drink it.

Pour the mixture into the  baking tray/dish and cover with plastic wrap.

Freeze the coffee granita mixture for about 1 hour or until the liquid starts forming crystals around the tray (Mine took about 2 hours to start freezing). Take it out of the freezer and scrape the granita with a fork, breaking up the ice, and put it again in the freezer. Repeat the same process every hour, until the granita is completely frozen. This will take about 4 hours, depending on how strong your freezer is.  In the end you must have a mixture that resembles icy snow.

You can eat the granita now or keep it covered with the plastic wrap. It keeps well for 4-5 days but it’s at its best during the first two.

Coconut whipped cream

Ingredients
1 can coconut milk (400 ml), full-fat (thoroughly chilled – overnight preferably)
2 Tbsp icing sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract (I omitted/forgot this)
pinch of salt to taste

Special equipment: stand or hand-held electric mixer

Preparation
Skim the cream that rises to the top and put in the mixing bowl of the stand mixer (chill the bowl for half an hour before whipping will help speeding the process).  Add other ingredients and beat at high speed for about 3-4 minutes until soft peak is formed.  Serve immediately or the cream can keep in an airtight container for a few days.

Scoop the granita into glasses and spoon a dollop of cream over the granita and top it with sprigs of mint and serve.  Enjoy! 😀

ควากาโมลี่ (Quacamole) – เปี่ยมคุณค่าโภชนาการ

หลายคนไม่ชอบทานอะโวคาโด้ เลยอยากจะแนะนำเมนูนี้ค่ะ ง่ายๆ อร่อยๆ แซ่บถูกปากคนไทย เอาไว้เป็นอาหารว่าง จิ้มกับข้าวเกรียบก อร่อยเหาะค่ะ

ส่วนผสม

อะโวคาโดสุกกำลังดี ลูกใหญ่ 2 ลูก
มะนาว 1 ลูก
มะเขือเทศ  1-2 ลูก หั่นลูกเต๋า เอาเมล็ดออก
พริกฮาลาพิโน่ ​(Jalapeno) หรือพริกซี้ฟ้า 1/2 – 1 ลูก
กระเทียม 1 กลีบ สับละเอียด
ผักชี 1 ช้อนโต๊ะ
เกลือ ตามชอบ
พริกคาแยน (Cayenne Pepper) – ไม่ใส่ก็ได้
ยี่หร่า – ไม่ชอบไม่ใส่ก็ได้

วิธีทำ

1. เลือกอะโวคาโดที่สุกกำลังดี นิ่มแต่แน่น

 

2.  ผ่าครึ่ง

 

3. เอาเม็ดออกด้วยการเอามีดกดลงไปบนเม็ดมัน แล้วบิดมือไปด้านข้างเบาๆ เม็ดก็จะหลุดออกมาอย่างง่ายดาย

 

4. อโวคาโด้ที่เอาเม็ดออกแล้ว
5.  เอาช้อนเล็กๆ คว้านเนื้ออโวคาโด้ใส่ชามใหญ่

 

6. นำอโวคาโด้ที่คว้านจากเปลือกแล้วมาใส่ในชาใหญ่

 

7. บีบมะนาวทั้งผลลงไปชะโลมให้ทั่ว ป้องกันไม่ให้อะโวคาโด้ดำ

 

8. เทน้ำมะนาวออกใส่ถ้วยพักไว้ เพื่อเอามาปรุงรสทีหลัง ตอนนี้ ใส่เกลือ พริกคาแยน หรือปริกป่น เกลือ ยี่หร่านี่ ใส่แล้วหอมดี แต่ว่าตำให้ละเอียดก่อนใส่ จะดีกว่า วันนั้นขี้เกียจ 5555

 

9. หั่นส่วนผสมอื่นๆ

 

10. ใส่ลงไปในชาม คลุกเคล้าให้เข้ากัน ด้วยส้อมหรือช้อน สับๆ บดๆ ไปจนเข้ากัน
11. พอคนเสร็จ หน้าตาอย่างนี้ เรียก ควากาโมลี่ เลยค่ะ

 

12. เอาพลาสติกปิด กดๆ ลงไปบนเนื้อเลย จะได้ป้องกันไม่ให้มันโดนอากาศ จะได้ไม่ดำค่ะ ทิ้งไว้ที่อุณหภูมิห้อง ซัก 1-2 ชั่วโมงก็ได้ รอให้รสต่างผสมผสานกันจนกลมกล่อม

หลังจากทิ้งไว้ ลองชิมรสอีกที ปรุงรสด้วยเกลือ มะนาว พริก ตามชอบ แล้วทานกับข้าวเกรียบ หรือจะเอาไปทานกับสลัดและอาหารก็ได้นะคะ

 

ทำวนิลลาสกัด​ (Vanilla Extract) เองที่บ้านกันเถอะ

เวลาทำขนม ต้องใช้วนิลลาเยอะ แล้วที่ซื้อเค้าเราก็ไม่รู้ว่าใช้กลิ่นแท้หรือกลิ่นปลอม หรือใส่อะไรกันแน่นะคะ อย่ากระนั้นเลย มาทำใช้เองกันเถอะค่ะ ง่ายๆ ไม่ยากเลย

ส่วนผสม
ฝักวนิลลา 3-4 ฝัก ต่อ ขวดขนาด 8 ออนซ์ **
เหล้าว้อดก้า
ขวดแก้วสีเข้ม พร้อมฝาปิด ไม่มี ก็ใช้ขวดใสได้ค่ะ
ฝักวนิลลา
วิธีทำ
  1. ใช้มีดคมๆ ค่อยกรีดฝักวนิลลาให้แยกออกจากกัน แล้วหั่นครึ่งฝัก เพื่อให้ใส่ในขวดได้พอดี
  2. ใส่ฝักวนิลลา ซัก 6-8 ชิ้นในแต่ละขวด ถ้าเมล็ดวนิลลา ติดมีด ก็เอาขูดๆ ลงไปในขวดด้วยนะคะ เสียดาย หอม เทว้อดก้าจนท่วมฝักวนิลลา ปิดฝา
  3. แล้วเอาไว้ในตู้ที่มืดและเย็น เราต้องทิ้งไว้ 6 สัปดาห์วนิลลาสกัดถึงจะนำมาใช้ได้ หลังจากแต่ละสัปดาห์ผ่านไป ให้คอยเขย่าขวดให้ฝักและเมล็ดวนิลลากระจายไปทั่วๆ นะคะ
  4. พอครบหกสัปดาห์น้ำวนิลลาก็จะมีสีเข้ม ก็นำมาใช้ได้เลย ไว้ใส่ขนม เครื่องดื่ม อาหารต่างๆ ค่ะ พอว้อดก้าพร่อง ก็เติมลงไปได้จนท่วมค่ะ พอกลิ่นจากก็ค่อยทำใหม่ แล้วเอาฝักมาล้างให้สะอาด ตากให้แห้ง แล้วเอาไปใส่ไว้ในโถน้ำตาลก็ได้ น้ำตาลจะหอมเชียวค่ะ
** ฝักวนิลลามีหลายพันธุ์นะคะ เลือกตามใจชอบ ถูกแพง กลิ่นหอมแบบไหน  ตัวเองซื้อจากร้านบ้าง ซื้อจาก amazon.com บ้างค่ะ
ข้อมูล:

Macarons 102 – Getting There

In the last blog, I was so happy that my macarons were starting to resemble macarons and not just some weird-shaped almond cookies. Yay! And even though my oven is not behaving that cooperatively on most days (On some cold winter days, it could take up to an hour to get the pilot lit properly — arghhh), I found ways around it (here).

So shielding the macarons with another empty pan put on rack above works well, so here are some shots from the second batch.
These macaron shells have no extra flavors just different colors.  I filled them with store-bought dolce de leche that proves to be wayyyy toooo sweet.  I also made some lemon curd filling from the leftover egg yolk — that turned out to be waaayyyy too runny

 

The foot was high, but the shells were somewhat hollow.  I did try to bake them on the lower shelves — That was disastrous.

 

The dolce de leche filling that was too thick and too sweet

Macarons Test Lab – Here I go again…

Two years ago, I embarked on a journey to try to bake French macarons but got so discouraged and humbled that I swore to never go on this hair-pulling, teeth-grinding, suicide-inducing baking experience ever again.  Alas, I should have known better.  You guessed it, never say never, right?  So here I am again, being drawn into the labyrinth of recipes and techniques, and with sugar-stained hair and wayyyy too much coffee in my vein, I’m doing it again.

Somehow, I faintly suspect that I’m more of a masochist than I care to admit. Oy Vey!!!!!

Anyhow, this time, I decided to put a method to my madness by sticking to one recipe and wrestle the little devil down until I somewhat master it before moving on and up.

Much to my satisfaction, I’ve got some progress!!! Hurray!!! And all the jubilation and elation is owed to the marvelous Not So Humble Pie’s Macaron Troubleshooting with tips and tricks from Joy of Baking and shared passion and tenacity for achievement of Yaya Yayai who tirelessly compared baking notes with me — THANK YOU!!!

The most joyful experience was to watch the long-coveted ‘FOOT’ all of a sudden materialized out of thin air.  Oh! Joy — Now, at least, if I don’t do anything else in life.  This will be enough — I can safely say that this is closure for me. LOL.

So here is the recipe.  I make half the recipe for each batch.  It’s more manageable for me, so I include the measurement also for easy reference:

Not So Humble Macarons v3.0128 – Full Recipe
yields approximately 50 cookies
(Half recipe measurement below)

5 g dehydrated egg white powder*
28 g granulated sugar
225 g confectioners (powdered) sugar
125 g almond meal**
100 g aged egg whites***

Not So Humble Macarons v3.0128 – Half Recipe
yields approximately 50 cookies
(Half recipe measurement below)

3 g dehydrated egg white powder*
14 g granulated sugar
113 g confectioners (powdered) sugar
63 g almond meal**
50 g aged egg whites***

* I used CK Products as recommended by Not-So-Humble-Pie, but I just checked on amazon and it was not available, so one’s got to find another brand.  Just make sure it is dehydrated egg white and not  meringue powder.




** The 5-day aged egg white seemed to work perfectly.

*** I used Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour Super Fine Grind .  I may try Bob’s Red Mill next time, if I can’t find Honeyville

My First Succesful Macarons – Basic Macarons with Lemon Mousse Filling.  The foot formed but the color of the meringue was not white


 


– Prep two half sheet pans with parchment or silicone baking mats.

– Pre-heat your oven to somewhere between 290°F.  My oven heat is not the most consistent in the world and tends to overheat drastically.  That oven thermometer really is a life saver.  So I only use this temperature.

– Start by weighing out your sugar and egg white powder into a small bowl. Mix with a fork until uniform and set aside.

– Sift together your almond meal and powdered sugar.

– Weigh out your egg whites and begin beating them on low speed until foamy. Begin slowly sprinkling in the powdered egg white and sugar mixture as you beat. Then increase the speed to medium and beat until a firm meringue forms. (I sneaked and used medium high speed — about 8 — on my stand mixer and it turned out okay — or so I thought — to speed things up a bit).

– You want firm, glossy peaks in your meringue, you don’t want to beat all the way to stiff peaks. So hold yourself back.

Man, I love that peak.  Won’t be able to do that with my hand mixer though 😛

– Beat in food coloring gel now (I use Buff) and then add 1/3rd of the almond mixture. Folding it in gently. Once combined, add another third of the almond mixture, and so on. For visual reference on how to combine and fold, see this video by Chef Nini. (Note: the batter should be deflated a bit to let the air out).

– Add your batter to a piping bag with a round tip (any size bit under 1cm works fine) and pipe rows of macarons.

I baked on these silicone mats I bought from Costco — super good-valued compared to the original Silpat – much cheaper and they also have templates for piping newbies like me 🙂

 

– Pick up the pan with both hands, and holding it level, tap it firmly onto the counter several times. This will bring up any air bubbles in the cookies. Pop the bubbles with a toothpick if they don’t break while tapping.
– These cookies NEED to rest on the counter. Between 30-60 minutes depending on the humidity.  They will become tacky and opaque and not stick to your finger when touched.  Then they are ready to bake.
– This is where the fun starts.  Each stove and kitchen has its own challenges, mine included.  So it took me one sleepless night to figure it out and crossed referenced with the Not-so-humble pie’s troubleshooting list.  This is my conclusion for my kitchen.  You will have to experiment and come up with your own way –  and then again, you might not have to.
  – After several trials and errors, I baked one tray at the time mine on doubled trays.  Then put another empty tray on the rack above to shield the cookies which browned to much if I didn’t.  Bake the cookies for roughly 15 minutes.
– Once the cookies lift easily from the parchment or silicone baking mat they’re probably done. To be sure, pop a cookie off with an offset spatula and break it open. The insides should be set and not overly moist (wet uncooked meringue is no good). If it is too moist the cookies will collapse when they cool.

 

First Successful Shell – foot wise — But the top browned to much and a bit flat in my opinion.  They are supposed to be plain white.

After my initial success, I felt a bit more confident and more reckless, hence the color purple.  I filled the shells with Lemon Curd Mousse (that’s a story for another time).  The shape and texture were perfect — no hollows but the top was still too brown.  So I had to try to fix.

 

So I thought, perhaps I baked too cool and too long.  So I tried 350 degrees 12 minutes with airing the oven by open and close to let the steam out after 8 and 10 minutes  (a friend share the tip from Pierre Hermês book) — A disaster.  The shells were uncooked and collapsed out of the oven thus creating huge air pockets.

This is the final disaster before I ran out of egg white — In attempt to fix the brown top, I baked on the lower rack (lower third) with an empty tray on the rack above to shield the cookies.  Just like the Troubleshooting list states, because they were cooked on too low of an oven rack, the cookies rose rapidly due to strong heat from the bottom of the oven. Even though, I double stacked the pans, it didn’t help, so I put them back on the middle rack (in the double-stacked pans) and put another rack on the top-third position with an empty tray to shield the cookies.  So, though the cookies are all cracked and hollowed, the color is perfect.

So, I think I figured it out, but didn’t have enough egg white to test this theory. So until the next batch, Bon Appétit.

Hawaiian Sweet Bread

I’ve adapted the recipe by Noreen’s Kitchen to make only half the recipe.  Here it is.

Ingredients:
3 1/4 – 4 cups  all-purpose flour
1/3 cup  mashed potato flakes
1/3 cup sugar
1 packet instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 large egg (2 medium ones)
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
1.  Heat butter and milk until melted

2. Place 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, salt, potato flakes, milk mixture, water, pineapple juice and vanilla in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer

3. Blend with dough hook until well incorporated

4. Add eggs – one at a time, blending with each addition

5. Add in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Resist the urge to add more flour or your end result will be a tough bread

6. Knead for 7-15 minutes until the dough forms a film in  The Windowpane Test  by pulling off a golf-ball-sized piece of dough and stretch it into a thin sheet between your fingers. If the gluten is well-developed, the dough will stretch into a paper-thin film without breaking. If quickly breaks…you guessed it, keep kneading).

7.  Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a soft cloth.  Allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled, approximately 1 hour.

 

 

8.  Once the dough finishes rising, remove dough from the bowl and gently press air out.  Cut the dough into 2-4 oz. pieces and roll until smooth.


9.  Place dough balls into 2 oiled baking pans.  The size of the pan will determine the number of rolls you fit into them

10.  Preheat the oven to 350°F – cover and allow dough to rise until doubles, approximately 30 minutes.


11. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown


12. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.  Allow bread to cool before serving.

 

Potato Bread

 

 

Ingredients:

  • Bread flour    200 g ( 2 c.)
  • cake flour      50 G ( 1/2 c.)
  • yeast              1 1/2 teaspoon
  • milk              120 G ( 3/4 c.) luke warm
  • egg               1
  • sugar            4 Tbsp ( divided – 1 Tbsp in the milk and yeast)
  • salt               1/4 Teaspoon
  • butter           40 G ( 1/2 stick)
  • Sweet potatoes or potatoes boiled and mashed 150 g ( 3/4 c.)

Directions:

1.  warm the milk and add 1 Tbsp sugar and yeast.  Rest for 5-10 minutes until the yeast grow and become bubbly.
2.  Combine all the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer.  Then add the yeast mixture.
3.  Knead with dough hook until smooth about 15 minutes – 20 minutes – (Test doneness by The Windowpane Test  by pulling off a golf-ball-sized piece of dough and stretch it into a thin sheet between your fingers. If the gluten is well-developed, the dough will stretch into a paper-thin film without breaking. If quickly breaks…you guessed it, keep kneading).
4.  Take the dough out of the mixing bowl. Tug the side under to form a ball and put in a greased bowl. Cover with soft cloth or plastic wrap then let rise in warm spot until double in size (about 1 hour).
 
5.  Preheat the oven to 350°F
 
6.  When the dough finishes rising, turn it onto a lightly floured surface.  Press out the air and form a rectangular shape. 
 

 

7.  Cut the dough into equal size strips and cut again to about a 2 oz. pieces.  Roll into smooth balls. Put in the greased pan.
 
8.  Proof (let the dough double in size again) on top of the oven for about 20-30 minutes
9.  Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool slightly and glaze with melted butter.

Simple Apple Pie

It’s been a while since I baked apple pie.  And the other day, I went to McDonald’s and got their apple pie on a rainy day — Ummmm… I forgot how I miss the cinnamon & nutmeg aroma and the gooey juice of the apple.  So I decided to make one today, since it was cold out and thus perfect weather to bake a pie 😀

After lots of trial on recipes, I settle for this one — which is going to to be my go-to recipe from now on.
The recipe makes two 9″ pie crusts, or one 9″ covered pie crust.

INGREDIENTS

For the crust 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter,  cubed
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon iced water (add 1 tablespoon at a time as needed)

Directions

  • Using a rubber spatula, thoroughly mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Cut the butter into small cubes, then add to the flour mixture and cut vigorously with a pastry blender or two knives. Work as fast as you can so the butter doesn’t melt.  As you work, periodically stir dry flour up from the bottom of the bowl and scrape clinging fat off the pastry blender or knives until the butter become pea-sized pieces; the rest of the flour should be reduced to the consistency of coarse crumbs or corn-meal.  The mixture should seem dry and powdery and not pasty or greasy.
  • Drizzle over the flour and fat mixture the ice water.
  • Using the rubber spatula, cut with the blade side until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls.  Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula.  If the balls of dough stick together, you have added enough water; if they do not, drizzle over the top 1-2 tablespoons ice water.
  • Cut in the water, again using the blade of the spatula, then press with your hands until the dough coheres.  The dough should look rough, not smooth.  Divide the dough in half, press each half into a round flat disk, and wrap tightly in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and preferably for several hours, or for up to 2 days before rolling.  (The dough can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 6 months; thaw completely before rolling. – If you need help with rolling out the dough, click here).
  • While preparing the filling and rolling out the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F

For the filling

6 small or 2 large Golden Delicious (Gala, or Fuji) apples
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoon cornstarch
3 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground ground cinnamon

Mix together sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and cornstarch.  Sprinkle over apples and toss to coat. Cook in a saucepan over medium heat until tender.

Meanwhile, roll out the dough that you previously put in the fridge and transfer it to the pie pan.  Then put the filling in the unbaked pie crust.

Roll out the other half of the dough and cover the pie.  Squeeze the rim to make decorative rim or just press with fork to close the seams. Cut slits in the crust to vent the heat.

 

Bake on the middle rack for 45-55 minute until the crust turn golden and the filling is bubbly.  Let cool on rack for at least 15 minutes.  Slice and serve warm by itself or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Variation

If you don’t want the top crust, here’s a great alternative for the topping:

 

 

You’ll need:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (cold cut into cubes)
  •  A few dashes of cinnamon

Using a pastry cutter, mix together the flour, sugar and butter until evenly distributed and crumbly in texture. Sprinkle over the filling topped with dashes of cinnamon. Put pie in the oven on a cookie sheet to catch the juices that may spill over. Bake 45 minutes or until pie crust is golden brown.