Saturday, February 27, 2010

DARING BAKER CHALLENGE FEBRUARY, 2010 ~ Heaven on a Dessert Plate!

The February 2010 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obesession.
Oh boy! Time really does fly when you're having fun, or terribly busy or both! I almost can't believe it's the time of the month when all Daring Bakers rise to the given challenge and post their own versions. February has been very busy and fun and I've been like a whirling dervish trying to cope.
But I wanted so much to make this Tiramisu from scratch. In my excitement, I made the mascarpone cheese way ahead of time and kept it in the fridge. I didn't have any problem with it at all, it was creamy and set after being refrigerated overnight. The recipe for the savoiardi (lady fingers) was also very good and they came out crispy outside and soft inside, just how I wanted. The zabaglione was also fairly easy because this isn't the first time I made it, but I'd have to say, the recipe was really good. The pastry cream set up beautifully too. I just love the recipes given here, they all came out good!
I made two versions of Tiramisu, one version was the "spooned" dessert which I put in ramekins. I made round savoiardi for this--so easy. I decorated the top with cocoa powder and real cacao nibs.
The second version, is my favorite, I lined a 6-inch cake pan with plastic and made about 2 layers of ladyfingers and the mascarpone-zabaglione-pastry cream-whipped cream mixture. I kept it in the fridge overnight. When I lifted it out of the pan, it was a bit soft, so I popped it in the freezer for a few minutes before I sliced it. I decorated the top with cocoa powder, shaved bittersweet couverture chocolate and sliced strawberry.
The sliced Tiramisu cake showing the yummy layers of savoiardi and creamy mixture.

I can say this has got to be one of my favorite challenges so far! The recipes given were fool-proof, and when we took a bite, it was really heaven!
Thank you Aparna and Deeba for this challenge, this one is definitely going to be part of my dessert menu :)
*I have to say that because of the ease of making the mascarpone, I was inspired to start making home-made cheeses.

Monday, February 15, 2010


The 2010 February Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

I was excited when I first read the DC challenge for this month, because I really like the idea of mezze or small dishes over eating one big dish. Plus there's more freedom to make other small dishes, so I started making my pita bread early but alas--I don't know if it was the weather or it was me but the result was less than I expected. My sisters said they tasted good but they looked more like chinese steamed buns. I had no choice but to follow the recipe that was given to us, but it was frustrating for me because I had a fool-proof pita recipe and the temptation to use it to redeem myself was really great. But what is a challenge if I didn't try to conquer it? So I tried again and voila! I made perfect ones this time!!
The hummus recipe was really good, it was my first time to make it and it was good! I made it again and it was better! I will definitely use this hummus recipe again and again.

The hummus I made from canned chickpeas

The mezze platter--Red pepper keftedes, Sardines in Olive Oil, Feta Cheese garnished with flat leaf parsley, Fried Shrimps, Pita Bread and tomatoes. The Hummus alongside some Olives is on a smaller plate

For the mezze platter (I prefer to call it mezedes--the Greek version) I made Red Pepper keftedes (made of canned roasted red peppers and batter), Sardines in olive oil, Feta cheese, Fried Shrimps, sliced Tomatoes and Black Olives.

Thank you Michele for this challenge and this really good hummus recipe!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Noodles Noodles

I dreamt of noodles...a bowl of yummy egg noodles with a flavorful broth and topped with my favorite ingredients, shrimps perhaps?
I remembered that I made duck stock and it's somewhere in my freezer. But I was lacking the other ingredients and so I made a quick visit to the supermarket, and voila! I had my noodle soup! It didn't matter that my toppings were shrimps and fishballs and the base was duck stock. It was still good...
Did I say the shrimps were huge today?

Seafood Noodle Soup (Or any meat or non-meat topping you like)
2 cups stock (chicken/duck/fish stock) I used duck stock
6 pieces fish balls
2 prawns, cleaned
1 bunch taiwan pechay or bokchoy, cleaned and washed
egg noodles
spring onions, for garnish
Boil stock, and add shrimps and fishballs. Cook for 3 minutes until the shrimps turn a bright color. Boil water in another pot and drop the egg noodles and cook. Strain and discard water. Put noodles in a bowl, arrange cooked shrimps and fishballs. Drop the vegetables in the boiling stock and cook about 2 minutes, do not overcook the vegetables. Arrange vegetables beside the shrimps and pour the hot stock. Garnish with spring onions.
I purposely did not season my noodle soup because I added chili-garlic sauce with calamansi juice and soysauce when I was eating it...yummy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Just Can't Stop!

I have a confession to make...eversince the Daring Bakers made Nanaimo bars and I have seen most of my fellow DBs version of their bars, I just can't stop thinking of them. As a matter of fact, I made two more variations! Yes I know, the challenge is done, and we have posted our take on it but I have to make more, that's how insanely obsessed I am. And I don't think I'm finished yet, because as I write this, more flavor combinations are playing in my head...
The first one I made here is strawberry-flavored with strawberry miroir. Just look at that gorgeous pink and red combination--just right for Valentine's day!

Chocolate Strawberry Slice
Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup oats
Melt butter, sugar and cocoa over a double boiler, take off heat, add egg and stir well. Cook again over double boiler until the mixture thickens. Take off heat and add crushed graham crackers and oats. Mix well to combine. Press firmly onto a lined 8 x 8 pan. Set aside in chiller.

Middle Layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons custard powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup strawberry pie filling
1 tablespoon melted gelatine
Cream butter, powdered sugar, custard powder, cream and strawberry filling until well combined. Slowly pour in the still-warm melted gelatine. Beat again. Spread evenly on the bottom layer.

Top Layer:
3 tablespoons melted gelatine
1/4 cup strawberry filling
1/3 cup water

Cook gelatine, strawberry filling and water over medium heat until mixture thickens. Press through a fine sieve to remove seeds. Pour over the middle layer and let set in the chiller for 2 hours before cutting into squares.

A few days after making the chocolate strawberry slices and getting a varied response--some liked it but some still thought it was too sweet even if I halved the sugar in the middle layer, I thought up another flavor combination--tiramisu! I thought that maybe the flavor of cream cheese and coffee will make up for the sweetness of the powdered sugar and I was right! This was better received at home.

Tiramisu Bars
Bottom Layer:
1 cup graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup butter
Melt butter and add crushed graham crackers. Mix well and press firmly onto bottom of an 8 x 8 pan lined with parchment paper. Set aside in chiller.

Middle Layer:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 bar (225 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
With the paddle attachment of your mixer cream powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Add the coffee granules and continue beating until the coffee is well incorporated in the mixture. Spread on bottom layer and chill overnight.

Top Layer:
100 grams bittersweet chocolate
15 grams butter
Melt the chccolate and butter in the microwave oven for 40 seconds. Mix well with spoon and drizzle over the middle layer. Chill for one hour before cutting int squares.