Friday, May 25, 2012

Chocolate and Cream Cheese Layer Cake

This recipe combines the best of both worlds - rich and moist chocolate cake, and sweet delicious cream cheese. It was one of the many cakes that my mum used to make for us when we were kids, and one of our favourites too. She made it without the raspberries, and I decided to add them since I had a box of them in the freezer. From the photos, the cheese layer looks much too brown on top, and that's because I didn't cover the pan with baking paper to prevent the cake from over-browning. The other reason may be that I used a dark-coloured cake pan which often results in a darker crust since it absorbs more heat. I'll have to try using a silver-coloured pan next time then, or perhaps reduce the temperature of the oven slightly.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sun-dried Tomato Butter

The only time I ever tried sun-dried tomato butter was at an Italian restaurant called  Pete's Place in Singapore, many years ago. They had this wonderful spread of breads that you can help yourself to, and I would go straight for the orangey-coloured sun-dried tomato butter. It just had that "umami" flavour from the tomatoes that made it taste so addictive, I would keep going back for more. Since I had a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge that I hardly use, I figured I might as well turn it into this delicious butter that is versatile enough that you can also use them as a flavour topping for steaks (so good!!!), chicken, seafood, vegetables, pasta or anything you like. It's also a great and easy way to use up any leftover sun-dried tomatoes you may have.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Garlic Bread Recipe

Here is a simple but delicious recipe for garlic bread, made with fresh crusty baguette from the bakery. I added some extra-virgin olive oil to the garlic butter mixture which helps cut through some of the richness from the butter, and at the same time give it a lovely aroma and flavour. The kids love, love, love garlic bread, but they were a little fussy when they saw the green bits of parsley in it. Guess I'll have to remember to make a separate batch for them next time, without the parsley. You can use any sort of bread to make this, and I usually use Turkish pide as I love the crispy and chewy texture when it's hot out of the oven. If you're using a baguette, try getting a good quality one with a nice crust. I got mine from Baker's Delight and it turned out really crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside without turning all mushy. You can make extra loaves of garlic bread and refrigerate or freeze them for another day. Serve them with pastas, soups, stews or just have them as a snack or appetizer. You won't be able to stop at one!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Japanese-style Hashed Beef (Hayashi Raisu)

Have you ever eaten food that made you smile? It's when you take the first bite, and suddenly all your tastebuds are awaken and you feel a calming sense of euphoria which translates into a big smile spread across your face. Some foods (like chocolate, ice-cream and chilli) can trigger the brain to release more endorphins in the body, which is why we feel happy or even "high" when we eat them. One of my most memorable encounters with such "happy food" was at this restaurant called Modestos in Singapore, where I ordered the tiramisu for dessert. When it arrived on the plate, I could already tell how good it must be, looking at the moist and creamy layers of sponge and mascarpone, topped with a generous dusting of cocoa powder. The first mouthful just overwhelmed me with that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, and I just couldn't contain the urge to smile. Needless to say, it was the perfect way to end a meal, and I would always order it each time I went back.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sesame-crusted Chicken with Sweet Chilli Glaze

These oven-baked drumsticks are crunchy and delicious, and no doubt healthier than your regular deep-fried chicken. You can use drumsticks (or chicken wings/thighs if you prefer) either with or without skin on, and they both turn out beautiful with a thick golden crust that is especially delicious with a sweet chilli glaze. It uses only four basic ingredients, which is fantastic, and takes only minutes to prepare. The oven does the rest of the work! No deep-frying, no oil-splatters, no greasy countertops and pans to clean up after. You can omit the sesame seeds if you want (not everyone is a fan of sesame seeds, I know) and just use the breadcrumbs, and perhaps throw in some herbs, cheese and all that for some variation. Next time though, I might try using chicken breast fillets and make little nuggets for the kids, which are easier for the little hands to handle.