Saturday, April 28, 2012

Japanese Castella


I have to admit that I baked this cake out of curiosity, and not so much because I wanted to eat it. I have read so much about this popular Japanese cake that many talented and adventurous food bloggers have attempted to make. It's a simple cake, but takes a bit of practice and experience to perfect it. It's great that many of them have shared their tips and tricks in baking the perfect Castella, except that I didn't really take note of them! The entire process just sounded a little too daunting, plus it had to be baked in a special wooden box which I didn't have. I didn't think about the Castella again until I borrowed a book from the library and saw a recipe for Japanese Castella. Actually, I've borrowed this book many times before, but the name of the cake just didn't register in my mind until I discovered it on other food blogs. The recipe, of course, is just a recipe and doesn't tell you how difficult it is or what problems you might encounter. But when I saw that it just needs to be baked in a round springform tin (no special bakingware required), and I didn't need to use bread flour, I was delighted and set off to make my very first Castella, no holds barred (almost).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Apple and Blueberry Shortcake

Granny Smith Apples are currently in season (in Australia, that is) and I couldn't resist buying some in case I had sudden cravings for apple desserts. I love using apples for baking, and some of my favourites are Apple Crumble and Dutch Apple Cake, which I have made over and over again. My original intention with these lovely green apples was to make an Upside-down Apple Cake, which is absolutely decadent. However, the recipe makes quite a large cake and is best eaten on the same day. All I wanted was a slice or two, and not having to eat apple cake everyday for the rest of the week. It's just too sinful. Instead, I found a recipe for Apple and Blueberry Shortcake in Bills Food, a cookbook by Bill Granger (I was puzzled why it was spelt Bills and not Bill's, and G speculated that some people might take it to mean "Bill is Food" instead. Hmmm....).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Strawberries and Cream Sponge Cake with White Chocolate Flakes

Last weekend, we had a little celebration for Z's birthday at home. Upon special request, G made his "famous" Hainanese chicken rice (scroll down to the end to see photo) which we all enjoyed for lunch. For his birthday cake, I made a simple vanilla sponge filled with fresh strawberries and chantilly cream, and covered it with more cream and plenty of white chocolate flakes. Z said he loved the cake, mostly because of the marshmallows, and the strawberries too. The sponge itself turned out fine, thankfully. I actually made a "test" sponge the day before using a slightly different recipe and it turned out really "spongey" and rubbery - it reminded me of loofah! After that experience, I decided to play it safe and stick to a recipe I've used for making Swiss Roll. I simply couldn't afford to get Z's birthday cake wrong, although I was prepared to just buy one from the cake shop if I really needed to.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wafu Hamburger with Potato Salad

Wa means Japanese and Fu means style. So this dish is a Japanese-style hamburger (or hamburg), which is really a grilled beef patty (or a giant meatball) topped with a Japanese-style sauce. It sounds so simple, and yet the combination of the moist and tender beef with the shimeji mushrooms (love the texture!) and dashi gravy is so delicious. The potato salad is a great side dish for this as it helps so soak up some of that mushroom gravy and makes the perfect mouthful when eaten together with the hamburger patty. This was a comforting and enjoyable meal for both G and I, although the kids weren't too excited about it when they spotted bits of onion in the meat. I guess I should dice up the onions a little finer next time and hope they don't notice them!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Almost Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad

Even though I've only had Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad once in my life (and many years ago), I will always remember it as being one of the tastiest salads I've had. I'm no salad lover, which is why the crunchy toasted almond flakes and crispy noodles really did it for me, not to mention the deep-fried chicken tenders scattered over the top of the salad which made it a complete and satisfying meal. The "oriental" dressing was fantastic, although at the time, I was more focused on enjoying my meal rather than trying to analyse and figure out the components of the dressing.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Best-loved Lemon Tart

My mum has been making this lemon tart since I was a little girl, and it is one of the best-loved desserts in our family. I would like to think that this is the best lemon tart I have ever eaten. I have never known any other version of lemon tart until I came to Australia and noticed that all the lemon tarts sold at cafes and patisseries were different from what I was used to. They were really lemon cream tarts I suppose, as the lemon filling typically contains cream. I have to say that mum's version wins hands down, as I prefer the tart and lemony jam-like filling which is perfectly balanced by the rich, buttery and slighly salty shortcrust pastry. Pure heaven!