Sunday, 30 March 2014

Elaine Bakes: Green Tea Financier

Financier is a small French cake which uses brown butter rather than the regular butter, which as a result, gives it a distinctive nutty taste. Brown butter, also known by its French name, beurre noisette, is basically your regular unsalted butter which is then melted over medium heat in a saucepan till golden brown in colour. 

My impression of this cake when I tried it many years ago in Paris was that it was quite oily due to the amount of butter used. As a result, I was put off baking this cake till now, although I already have the moulds sitting patiently in the kitchen waiting to be used for the past 2 years! Yesterday I decided to have a go at baking financier as I have plenty of egg whites left after using the yolks for making green tea ice cream. 

I was very pleased with the cake texture. It has crisp edges and moist centre. The cake wasn't as oily as I have imagined for it to be. It is best to consume the cake on the day itself. I like it best when dunked into a cup of piping hot milk tea. Yums!

Without further ado, here's the recipe:

Green Tea Financier
(Makes eleven 4cmx3cm round financier moulds)

Part 1: Brown Butter

100g Unsalted butter

1. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan.
2. As soon as the butter has melted, whisk the butter to keep it from separating.
3. Once the butter starts to bubble, stop whisking and increase heat to medium high.
4. Whisk the butter occasionally to stop the butter from burning.
5. Turn off heat once the butter has turned caramel colour. 
6. Cool the saucepan in a pot of cold water briefly to stop the butter from cooking further.
7. Strain butter with a cheesecloth and set aside.

Part 2: Cake Mix

 10 g    Green tea powder
 38 g    Cake flour
  5  g    Corn flour
 60 g    Almond flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
 A pinch of salt

115g    Caster sugar
100 g   Egg white (from approx. 4 eggs)
100 g   Brown butter (from Part 1)

1. Pre-heat oven to 220C.
2. Sieve (A) and combine with sugar in a mixing bowl.
3. Make well in centre of mixing bowl and pour in egg white.
4. Whisk till well combined.
5. Whisk in brown butter in 2 additions.
6. Transfer batter into a piping bag and pipe into cake moulds, stopping at 3mm from top. Tap mould against work surface to smooth top of batter.
7. Once the financier mix is inside the oven, lower temperature to 180C and bake for 20 minutes or when the cake skewer comes out clean. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Elaine's Kitchen: Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Since I haven't been experimenting on new ice cream flavours lately, I decided to try Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream when I came across the recipe on David Lebovitz's site the other day. I thought it would be quite an interesting flavour to try as the only time I ever tasted salted caramel would be when I have Pierre Herme's salted caramel macarons.

My verdict? The ice cream was very creamy and had a good texture, but a tad too sweet for my standards. Will I make it again? Probably not due to a few factors Firstly, the Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream took me 1.5 hours to prepare, whereas Green Tea Ice Cream would take me only 30 minutes or so. Secondly, the caramel stained my saucepan, which is a pain to get rid of. Last but not least, the caramel pieces gave my left thumb a deep cut when I was trying to break them into smaller pieces. It still hurts even after 24 hours...Ouch! Ok...I think I have ranted enough. I decided to blog about the recipe anyway just in case I change my mind in the future. The original recipe asks for 150g sugar but to make it less sweet, I have amended the quantity to 100g.

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Preparation time: 1.5 hours
Churning time: 45 minutes

Part 1: Caramel Praline (mix-in)

 50 g    Sugar
1/2 tsp  Salt

1. Spread sugar evenly on saucepan and heat sugar till mixture bubbles. Stir the sugar with a spoon to prevent the sides from browning.
2. Once sugar has melted, stop stirring and allow the sugar to brown.
3. Sprinkle salt into caramel mixture without stirring.
4. Pour caramel onto silicone non-stick baking sheet. Lift baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling almost vertically to encourage caramel to form a thin layer.
5. Set aside to harden and cool.

Part 2: Ice Cream Custard

250 ml  Milk
100 g    Sugar
 30  g    Salted butter
125 g    Whipping cream
  3         Egg yolks
1/2 tsp  Vanilla extract

1. To make caramel, spread sugar on saucepan and allow to caramelized.
2. Remove from heat. To prevent caramel from cooking further, cool saucepan briefly in a pot of cold water.
3. Add butter and stir with a spoon till butter is melted.
4. Gradually whisk in whipping cream, stirring as you go. If the caramel hardens, return saucepan to heat and continue stirring over low heat until the caramel is melted.
5. Stir in 125ml milk.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Then gradually pour in mixture from Step 5 into the yolks.
7. Whisk till the mixture is well incorporated.
8. Add in remaining milk and vanilla extract.
9. Transfer mixture back into saucepan and continue stirring with a wooden spatula till a custard is formed (approx. 75 deg. C) under medium heat.
10. Cool down mixture before transferring mixture into an ice cream maker and start churning.
11. Churn ice cream for 45 minutes.
12. While ice cream is churning, break caramel pieces from Part 1 into little pieces (approx. 1cm).
13. Once ice cream is churned, stir in crumbled caramel pieces into the ice cream.
14. Transfer ice cream into a clean container and chill for at least 5 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Note: I finally found a good and healthy way to use up the remaining egg whites. I made Angel Food Cake which fitted nicely into my 16cm Angel Food Cake pan. Yummy!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Travelogue: Day 3: Strasbourg, France

Today is the day I most look forward in the entire trip to as I have been wanting to visit Alsace region in France since I saw BBC featuring the place in Raymond Blanc's The Very Hungry Frenchman programme 2 years ago. We took a 9.05 am flight from Barcelona heading to Stuttgart, Germany, arriving at 11.05 am. I thought it might be worth mentioning that the seat on German wings was awesome. As we booked our tickets from Lufthansa website, we were sat at the front rows with extra legrooms and were served breakfast as well.

From Stuttgart airport, we took the S-Bahn train to Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof. The journey took 27 minutes. When we got off the S-bahn train, we were quite lost as to which stairs to take to catch our connecting train to France. Bless one old gentleman who came to our aid. Initially we thought that he wanted to ask for money as he was dressed quite shabbily. With his shaky legs and broken English, he directed us to walk to the end of the platform as though he knew that we wanted to get to the main platform. We could have ended up on some random streets had it not because of his kindness.

Once we got onto the main station, we had some brunch as we have some extra time left before our train leaves for Strasbourg. We bought our train tickets from the airport as we weren't sure if there were going to be delays due to unforeseen circumstances. The journey to Strasbourg from Stuttgart took less than 1.5 hours on the high speed TGV. By 2.11pm, we were already in Strasbourg.

Kléber Square, Strasbourg

Once we checked in to our room, we had a rest before exploring the town. First stop, we went to check out Galeries Lafayette just right opposite. Not far from Galeries Lafayette, there were a few cake shops with very pretty cakes on display. As tempted as I was to enter the shops, I had to resist as the parents wanted to have proper food instead of cakes for lunch. Haha...

Pretty cakes & pastries

Instead of pretty cakes, I settled for very delicious summer fruit yogurt that day.

We explored the very photogenic Petite France. The buildings were what I have always imagined France to look like prior to setting foot in the country. After setting foot in Paris for the first time, I then realized that France wasn't built that way. Then I found out this part of France with half-timbered buildings as what I have always imagined France to look like. 

Here's another view of Kléber Square at 9.03pm in May. That's all for today. Stay tuned for more posts. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Eating Out in Barcelona (Part 4): Citrus Restaurantus

Our initial plan was to dine at Barcelona's seafront but we changed our mind and went back to town centre for dinner instead. We spotted Citrus Restaurant earlier in the morning when we left Tapa Tapa Bar, which was situated just next door. 

The menu looked interesting. The menu came in several languages, which was very handy. Although the restaurant settings appeared posh, price wise, it was quite affordable. 

First to arrive was Fish and Seafood Crepes with a Thin Shrimp Cream (€8.95). The crepe was filled with finely diced seafood and drenched with strong prawn flavoured gravy. It was very delicious. 

I was looking forward to trying a warm starter of Seafood Ravioli with Cream of Crab (€6.45) only to realized halfway through eating that in fact what I was savouring was Ravioli of Prawn and Baby Vegetables with Herring Caviar and Pine Kernels (€8.35). The waitress must of heard of the "ravioli" word and assumed we wanted the latter. The dish was worth trying but I was disappointed that it wasn't what I wanted. I didn't request for an exchange since we were halfway through the dish.

Next, we had "Kumato" Tomato Salad with Tuna Belly and Spring Onion (€6.55), which we didn't order either. The waitress took the wrong order again. Initially, I didn't suspect anything. I thought the dish certainly had a special presentation style. It wasn't until when I went through the menu again only to realize that the waitress gave me the wrong dish. She probably listened to only a certain keywords rather than the entire phrase. The tuna was very thinly sliced and had no fishy taste, so all in all this dish was acceptable.

Not to be missed, we also had Fish and Seafood Paella (€11.55) which required a 20-minute waiting time. The paella came with a generous amount of seafood. 

For dessert, we had Red Fruits Foam and Violets Ice Cream (€4.95). The dessert is made up of what I suspect are berries Jell-O, a scoop of violet ice cream, accompanied by some berry sauce. The dessert was nothing to shout about. The texture was quite rough. 

The total bill came up to €43.45, inclusive of a bottle of still water. I would rate this place 3/5. I would have scored this place higher had it the waitress gave me the correct orders. 

Here's the address:
Citrus Restaurantus
Passeig de Gràcia, 44
08007 Barcelona.

Tel: 934 87 23 45

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Eating Out in Barcelona (Part 3): Tapa Tapa

On Day 2, we settled for breakfast at Tapa Tapa, a tapa bar that is located along Passeig de Gràcia. The breakfast menu was quite extensive. The bar wasn't too busy when we were there. Service was ok. 

Mum ordered Tapa Tapa Breakfast (€4.05) which came with 1 sandwich, a glass of fresh orange juice and a cup of coffee. For the sandwich option, she went for the potato omelette filling. The baguette was quite tough to bite, but on the bright side, the omelette was very delicious, while the coffee was very milky, which I enjoyed very much. Dad went for the Fast Breakfast (€2.00) option which came with a French Croissant and a cup of coffee. 

As for myself, I had Grilled Sandwich with Acorn Ham and Mozzarella Cheese (€4.65). The sandwich was well toasted. It was alright, it was pretty much just ham and cheese toastie.

The total bill came up to €12.25, including a bottle of bottled water. The food was nice and priced reasonably. Definitely worth dropping by if you want to grab a quick bite. Overall rating: 3.5/5.

Here's the address:

Tapa Tapa
Passeig de Gràcia 44
08007 Barcelona.

Tel: 934 88 33 69

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Travelogue: Day 2: Barcelona

After breakfast, we bought a T-Dia 1 Zona ticket each from the ticket machine which allows for unlimited journeys on all means of transport for 1 day. First stop was the famous Sagrada Familia (Metro: Sagrada Familia).

Look at the queue!

Antoni Gaudi's masterpiece was just right at the doorstep the moment we exited the metro. It kinda reminded me of Milan where the Duomo was just above the metro as well. Construction of the Sagrada Familia started in 1852 and is expected to complete in 2026! Yeah, you read it right! There was already a long queue of tourists forming, waiting to go get a glimpse of the cathedral's beautiful stained glass windows and impressive ceilings even at 10am! We didn't join the queue as our schedule was already full for the day.

Next stop, we headed to another of Antoni Gaudi's famous landmark, which is Park Güell, a public park perched on a hill which spans over 17 hectares. There were 2 ways to get to the park. One which involves walking up the steep streets and the other which involves more walking but on a street that is not as steep. I chose the former and was glad with my decision. To ascend the hill, we took a subway to Vallarca station. After we exited the station, we followed signs to get to the bottom of the hill. To get up the steep hill, there were escalators along the way, which was really cool! However, we still need to do plenty of walking on the steep street. I would recommend those who chose this route to have good pair of walking shoes as well as a pair of strong legs!

After a long hike up, we were rewarded with a panoramic view of Barcelona. In the distance, the famous Sagrada Familia can be spotted. 

The panoramic view wasn't the highlight of this trip, in fact what I was anticipating was Gaudi's mosaic work at the main terrace which has been featured in so many magazines related to Barcelona. The main entrance of the park is situated between the 2 gingerbread houses. We exited the park later through the main entrance. The journey down the hill was better and less tiring. 

Gaudi's intricate ceramic mosaics and magnificent views of the park 

We took a bus when we got to the main road and stopped by one of the shops for tapas, which I shall feature in my next post. 

Biggest vending machine ever! Machine was found at one of the metro stations. 

After a light lunch, we proceeded to Palau de la Música Catalana (Metro: Urquinaona), a concert hall which is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building itself was unique but that was it. I'm not very good at appreciating works of art I have to admit.

Next, we moved on to Casa Milà (Metro: Diagonal) that is situated slightly further up from our hotel on Passeig de Gràcia. Initially, we wanted to make a trip up to view the impressive rooftop but thought that it wasn't worth it as it was raining and we forgot our umbrellas. 

As recommended by our guide book, we made a trip to Barcelona's waterfront (Metro: Barceloneta) in anticipation of some fresh seafood. However, we found the place to be quite tourist orientated. So we decided to head back to town centre for something else.

That was it for my Barcelona travelogue. Overall, I enjoyed Barcelona for its good food and interesting architecture. Next, stay tuned to my Barcelona Eating Out posts!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Eating Out in Barcelona (Part 2): Costa Gallega Moncho's

I had a long evening nap in the hotel on Day 1 due to all day of travelling and walking. So it wasn't until almost 9pm that we left our room for dinner. We weren't sure of where to go but spotted a group of people from our hotel walking towards a certain direction and we followed behind closely. Finally we settled for a restaurant nearby as we didn't actually know where they were going. lol!  

We spotted this restaurant which looked kinda posh. By the time we placed our order it was already 9.30pm (I have to admit...I timed everything!).

Since the sight of ham can be spotted been all over Barcelona, it is only fair that we try this delicacy at least once. So we settled for this Melon con Jamon (€19.00) which was basically ham with melon. I imagined that this dish would be the ones we normally get from Italian restaurants where chunks of melons were wrapped in paper thin Parma ham. How wrong I was. The Spanish ham was more chewy and came in bite size chunks. The sweet and refreshing melon complemented the salty ham very well.

After about 1/2 hour wait, our Arroz Negro (€32.00), translated as squid ink rice finally arrived. This dish is cooked in a similar manner as paella.

The rice dish consists of squids, prawns, mussels, capsicum as well as other unidentified ingredients. I preferred the paella dish from lunch better as there wasn't much seafood in this dish, although my parents chose to disagree as they preferred this version of rice dish better.

Our total bill came up to €54.75 for a pax of 3 small eaters, inclusive of a bottle of 1 Litre still water (€3.75). Overall rating: 3.5/5

Here's the address:
Costa Gallega Moncho's
Passeig de Gracia 71
08008 Barcelona.

Tel.: 93 215 31 41