Wednesday, February 27, 2008

For the chocoholics out there.

A quick peek at the amount of chocolate that goes into baking. Well, into my baking anyway.

I do love my chocolate.

Probably my favourite shelf in my room.

Cocoa powder.
For that chocolately punch.
And dusting tiramisu(s).

My beloved.
Lindt Excellence Dark.
Goes into everything that requires dark chocolate.
I use this a lot.

And I mean a lot.
This stack would last me for maybe 3 weeks max.
On a good baking phase that is.

For the rare moments where I feel the price of Lindt
is to much for my purse to bear.

Chocolate chips.
Are not just for chocolate chip cookies.
Among their many other uses, they can be melted down for chocolate mice.

Mainly for decorating.
Sometimes for snacking.

Chocolate sprinkes are always useful.

Flavoured powders for dusting.
Cinnamon, Irish Cream, Amaretto and of course, Chocolate.

Ok, admittedly the Nutrageous and Snickers bars are for snacking.
But it won't be long before I find ways to incorporate them into my baking.
I won't just stop at Snickers Brownies.

Oh, and if anyone happened to notice that I don't have any cooking chocolate bar thingys among my stacks of chocolate, truth be told, I can't stand them. Give me good quality eating chocolate to use in recipes anyday.

After all that chocolate talk, I think I'm off to make a batch of brownies. Tata.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Italian Pick-Me-Up.

A.k.a. the more well known Tiramisu.

And this wonderfully creamy, coffee-infused dessert does just that.

Vanilla Tiramisu Recipe

This tastes best if left to set overnight.

250g tub mascarpone
1 vanilla pod (I know most people usually don't have vanilla pods just lying around, I guess you could replace this ingredient with vanilla essence.)
4 egg yolks
80g caster sugar
300ml double cream
300ml warm, strong black coffee
100ml coffee liqueur e.g. Kahlua, Tia Maria
2x200g packs Italian sponge fingers (you probably won't need all of them)
Cocoa powder (to dust)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together caster sugar and egg yolks till thick, creamy, and pale in colour.
2. Split vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape out seeds and add to the mascarpone. Add the mascarpone into the egg yolk mixture and whisk until smooth.
3. In a seperate bowl, whisk the double cream till soft peaks form. Gently fold the cream and 20ml coffee liqueur into the mascarpone mixture.
4. Add the rest of the coffee liqueur into the strong coffee. Dip sponge fingers into the coffee and arrange them to cover the base of a square 24 cm casserole dish. Drizzle a couple of spoonfuls of coffee mixture over the sponge finger layer.
5. Pour half of the mascarpone mixture and spread evenly over the sponge fingers. Don't worry if the mixture seems watery it should set after refrigerating. Repeat with another layer of sponge fingers dipped in coffee and finish off with the rest of the mascarpone. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
6. Before serving, dust with a generous amount of cocoa powder.

If you do end up with extra coffee and sponge fingers like I usually do, they make an excellent tea-time treat!

Hrm, I wonder if it's the coffee or the coffee liqueur that

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Doing my bit for charity.

Food for the soul.

Along with eating good food comes the exercise needed to burn it off. Being able to do it and raise money for charity is an added bonus.

After fattening everyone around me over Chinese New Year, I have been conned, with the utmost reluctance I am, esthusiactically and willingly joining them in their efforts to lose the excess weight.

Exercise is a good thing. And being able to exercise and raise money at the same time makes it all so much better. Which is why I have signed up as a participent for the Colchester Mile Run which is organised under the Sport Relief Programme. The run will be held on the 16th of March 2008.

According to the website:
"Comic Relief spends the money raised through Sport Relief to help vulnerable people living incredibly tough lives in the UK and in the world's poorest countries."

Sounds good to me. I'll be doing my bit for the world just by running. Whee!

Each participant has been allocated their own fundraising page. Here's mine:

Please do visit and please donate generously =) Or not so generously if you can't afford it. Every little bit helps, just give what you can.

Being the simply lazy unfit person that I am, I'm only running one mile (which is about 1.6 kilometers). But as an added incentive for my readers, if my donations are over 70 British Pounds, I will run the mile in a Chef's Outfit. Or at the very least a pretty apron =P. It all depends on how fast donations roll in and how much time I have to prepare. And I will post photos. All donations should however be made from the heart, not because you want to see me make a fool of myself.

Much love,
Bee Nee

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Product Review: /lambda/ ultra premium extra virgin olive oil.

The kind people at Sperion have sent me a bottle of extra virgin olive oil to review. Not just extra virgin olive oil. ULTRA PREMIUM EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL. When I first read about the product, I was intrigued. As far as I knew, virgin olive oil was one of the heathiest oils to use. Now there's Ultra Premium?

The price of 37 euros was kind of daunting to your average university student, i.e. me. I mean it's just olive oil. Or so I thought. But obviously, I leapt at the offer to try what sounded to me like the beluga caviar equivalent of olive oils.

A few days later this arrived. Direct from Greece, no less.

My heart skipped a beat. It looks like an elephant sat on it.

The post room people insist it arrived in this condition.
I shall choose to blame the Britsh Royal Mail then.

Thankfully the bottle was lovingly wrapped in layers of bubble wrap.
Not a single scratch in sight.

Before I move on to the oil, first let me rave about the bottle.
I absolutely adore it!
From it's sleek, clean design...
to the cold, solid feel of the glass... it's wooden cork top.
Ok, maybe I'm just easily impressed.
But I WAS impressed.
At that point I hadn't even opened the bottle yet!

Definitely not just olive oil.

Enough of admiring the bottle. On to the main attraction, the olive oil itself.

Do remember that I did say I know little of olive oil. But mind you, I feel that's a good thing, just relying on my tastes and my intuitions about good food.

Upon opening, the first thing I noticed that was different about /lambda/ was it's scent. It's diffrent from any other olive oil i've used before. It smells strong, pungent, and well.. green. It's a wholesome, down-to-earth sort of fragrance, kind of like freshly mown grass. I like it.

First taste. I poured a few drops into a spoon and tasted it. This is strong stuff, and it leaves a strong, peppery sort of aftertaste. Which I read somewhere is good. Oh, wait I'm not supposed to know much about olive oil. Heh. Anyway, I must say that the olive oil alone is a bit too strong for me, but I'm not about to go around drinking olive oil like wine.

So what have I been doing with my /lambda/ olive oil?

To be honest, I'm a baker. I'm not fond of cooking proper meals, but when I do I choose to go with quality, fresh ingredents (budget-allowing), and use simple recipes. Which is how I think good produce should be treated. Why contaminate your tastebuds with less than average stuff ?

So in a way my /lambda/ olive oil fits perfectly in my kitchen. It's unique flavour complements my simple recipes well, the strong, peppery taste stands out on its own among the basic herbs and spices that I use.

Simplicity at it's best.

Wild rocket salad.

Spaghetti Aglio Olio.

Fresh Focaccia Bread.

My verdict?

Yes, the oil is pricey, but it's truly a one of a kind experience. This olive oil has spoilt me, I'd probably never use any other if I could afford it. Maybe one day, when I'm rolling in dough.

Many, many thanks to Tory and Giorgos.

To read more rave reviews or to order your own bottle of /lambda/ ultra premium extra virgin olive oil, visit the Speiron website.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day.

Non-food related post.

Happy Valentine's Day
No Mr. Bear is not edible.
But he's the only Valentine-ny photo that I have.

On this special day, I'll be showering all my tender love and care on a 4000 word assignment. Whee.

So I'll leave the rest of you to celebrate on my behalf. And while I'm avoiding my assignment I shall ramble on for a slightly longer post. My well blended list of mush peppered with dashes of cynicism:-

I am one of those people that believe that you shouldn't just spend only one day a year showing your other half how much you care. Make every day count. Heck, make every moment count.

Small gestures count.
A brief call, a simple text, a short IM left for that special person to find when she wakes up the next morning and turns on her computer can make her day. Seriously. Sounds to simple to be true? It works.

Flowers die. Memories you make together don't.
(Yes, I'm rather unappreciative of flowers, but doesn't mean I don't like recieving them.) I prefer shiny objects, diamonds ARE a girl's best friend.

But seriously folks, gifts don't have to cost the earth.
Handmade ones are far far more meaningful and so much more valuable. How about some handmade cookies made with a recipe from this blog? A cake maybe? Heh heh.

"I love you" is a phrase that can never ever be overused no matter how many times you say it.
However, you can't take it back once it's out there. At least not without causing hurt. Even when you don't mean to, it happens. Use your words wisely. You'll never know who might be listening.

I am a romantic at heart. Honest!

Thus ends my list of cliches. This only happens once a year. Guess I am affected a little by Valentine's Day after all.

Final bit of mush. I shall end with one of my latest favourite mushy quotes:

"I never imagined I'd know it for myself. My heart... It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it's trying to escape because it doesn't belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I'd wish for nothing in exchange - no gifts. No goods. No demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine. "

(Yvaine, played by Claire Danes, Stardust 2007)

Now if only my assignment was as easy as writing this post.

What are your plans this Valentine's Day?

P.S. LDRs suck.

P.P.S. I know you never read my blog, but I miss you.

Edit: Just another quote from the same person, same movie, which I think is quite true.

"I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing"


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chinese New Year at Wolfson House 3

Being away from home also doesn't mean you have to forgo the CNY open house visiting.
Since I had no one to visit this year I decided I'd let people come to me.
(Warning: photo-heavy post.)

Decorations carried all the way from home.

The spread.

Doing the blogger thing.

The Cookies: Cornflake Cookies

Peanut Cookies

Pineapple Tarts

Hazelnut Cookies

Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

The Cakes:

Flourless Dark Chocolate a.k.a. Volcano Cake

Vanilla Tiramisu

Lemon Cream Cake

Exhausted, but trying to be a good hostess.
(Spot the eyebags, my eyes look almost closed.)

Chinese New Year is not a season for calorie counting.
And yes, the oranges were a last minute addition.

Come in. Sit. Eat. Enjoy.
While the tired baker takes a nap.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Being Away From Home...

... is no excuse not to have a reunion dinner.
Good food is everywhere.

*Photo stolen from JiaEn's blog.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Happy Rat Year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!
Wishing all readers a Happy Chinese New Year.

With homemade Chocolate Mice! =D

*Squeak Squeakety Squeak Sqick Sqeak*

Translation: May you all have a prosperous year ahead!

Or maybe they're just saying "Eat me", I dunno.
I doubt chocolate mice speak anyway.
But they sure do taste delicious.

Happy CNY everyone!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Old School Peanut Cookies.

Just like Amah makes.

Well at least I think so, with all the measurement issues.

Taste's pretty authentic anyway in my opinion.

Ordinary, shelled, skinned peanuts.
(Okay, I didn't shell and skin them they came like that)
And the work starts...

Fry, or roast until fragrant.
(not burnt)

Grind finely in blender.

Mix with caster sugar, wheat flour and water.

roll into balls, poke small wells and fill with egg.
(I still don't know what the egg is for, but my grandma always does it)


Yummy, crumbly, peanut cookies.