Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chocolate Macarons (朱古力馬卡窿)

Thinking of the gift for Valentine's Day,  it would always be flowers and chocolate.  Giving flowers to your love will always make her smile and the temptation of chocolate will always make things sweet in the end.  It is worth the effort of making this chocolate macarons for your Valentine as it is light, crunchy on the outside and the inside is as soft as pillow.  The sweet tastes is balanced by the bitterness of the dark chocolate.  I like to use whipped cream for the fillings as it gives the macaron a more boldly look.  It is always nice to receive home-made or hand-made gift.  It is the thought that counts.  

Happy Valentine's Day!           

Chocolate Macarons

1 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
2 egg whites
5 tablespoons castor sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

90g dark chocolate, break into chuck pieces
2 tablespoon thicken cream, whipped

  1. Sift the icing sugar and almond meal into a mixing bowl.  Repeat the sifting process one more time and remove any coarse lumps from the almond meal.  Add in the sifted cocoa powder.
  2. Whip the egg white in another bowl until foamy then add the castor sugar into the mixture and continue beating until the egg white becomes so stiff that it won't fall from the beater.  You have to be patient in this process as macaroon would not rise up nicely if the egg white is not beaten enough.
  3. Fold in the egg mixture lightly into the icing sugar and almond meal mixture in two batches.   
  4. Snip 1cm from the corner tip of a zip bag and scrape some of the batter into the bag.  Pipe out the  batter onto a lined baking tray.  Each mould should be around 4cm and 3cm apart.  Repeat the process until all the batter is used. 
  5. Tap trays on bench to remove air bubbles.  Set aside for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven at 160C.  Bake for 12 minutes or until the top is firm.  Let cool for a few minutes before peeling the macarons off from the baking sheets.  The macarons may stick and easily crack if they are not cooled enough. 
  7. By using a pipe bag, pipe the filling over the flat sides of half the macarons and sandwich together with the other half.  Stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.
  8. Chocolate fillings: melt chocolate in microwave at medium heat until melted.  Let cool for a minute then add in the whipped cream until combined.  Refrigerate the mixture until thicken and spreadable.   
The recipe is adopted and modified from Eat, Live Run from Jenna's Project Food Blog Challenge #7 video 411: raspberry rose macaroons


糖花 1 杯
杏仁粉 3/4 杯
雞蛋白 2 個
幼砂糖 5 湯匙
可可粉 2 湯匙

黑朱古力 90g,弄碎
發好忌廉 2 湯匙


  1. 篩糖霜和杏仁粉到大碗,重覆一次,除去大粒杏仁粒, 然後加入篩過的可可粉。
  2. 用電攪拌机打發蛋白至起泡,隨隨加入砂糖,再攪至蛋白企身為止。如果把碗倒轉,蛋白不倒下便成。
  3. 分 2 次加入糖花杏仁粉,輕輕攪好。
  4. 把卡馬窿料放入piping袋, 榨出一個個小圓形模於放好蛋糕紙的烤盆,每個保持 3-4 cm 距離,直至所有蛋糊做完為止。
  5. 輕輕敲烤盆於桌上,弄去氣泡,靜放 15-20 分鐘。
  6. 預熱焗爐 160c, 焗馬卡窿 12 分鍾。待涼。
  7. 用微波爐中熱溶化朱古力,待涼一下便混上忌廉。用刀或 piping 袋填上夾心料便成。

Chicken & Avocado Toasted Fingers

A while ago, I ordered a focaccia with chicken and avocado at our local cafe and was truly disappointed with the quality of the food as the avocado had turned black.  It was a pre-made one that had probably been sitting in the display fridge for a couple of days.  The so called CHEF just reheated it and handed it to the waitress.  I wonder if it is that difficult to put fresh avocado onto the bread just after it is ordered?  I would much prefer the quality of cafe food in our town a decade ago before the franchises invaded all the Mum & Pop's small businesses.  That time, everything was freshly made on the premises including cakes and the menu was very simple.  It would only be sandwiches, toasted fingers and a few light meals.  I remember I ordered a serve of toasted fingers on a busy day.  The waitress told me that I'd have to wait as it needed to be grilled.  It's worth for the wait as I enjoyed the meal thoroughly.  It's disappointed to see that my local cafe only emphasis on speed as everything was pre-made that could be served right away and had to forgone the freshness in quality. 

Toasted fingers is not in the cafe menu anymore and it is replaced by other gourmet meals such as thick toasted sandwich and focaccia bread.  Somehow, I really miss my good old favour of toasted fingers.
Chicken & Avocado Toasted Fingers
serve 2

2 slices of bread
1 cup of cut up roasted chicken meat
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup low-fat grated cheddar cheese
green salad 

  1. Butter the bread, top up the bread with chicken and avocado fillings.  Seasoned with pepper.  Sprinkle enough amount of cheese to cover the bread.
  2. Place the bread into a grill under high heat until the edge of the bread and the cheese turn golden brown.  Cut each of the toast into 3 finger long pieces and serve it with green salad.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Herb & Cheese Aussie Damper

Although the new year has just begun, three eastern states of Australia have been affected by the horrible flood.  I have been living in Australia for more than 2 decades and I have never had a summer that rain and rain for over two months. When the flood came to Brisbane, TV channels had been board casting live for 24 hours and everyone just hope that the rain would stop very soon.  My town was lucky to escape from serious flood damage but there still a lot of cleaning up afterward.  It's sad to see that people lost nearly everything and had to fight with insurance company for compensation.  There were also injured animals and the most tragic was the lost of human lives.  Many flood victims are still cleaning up and trying to get back to their normal life this Australia Day (26 Jan).  It is so great to see that many people are willing to help the victims though volunteering cleaning up, donating money and necessary items, cooking meals, offering shelters etc.....  Although we cannot beat the mother nature to ruin our land, it cannot beat our spirit.

I combine two recipes to make this savoury version of herb & cheese damper.  It goes very well with other finger food.  Damper is a bush tucker that is made in camping.  I first tried it when I went to an excursion with school to a farm, the farm lady put a bottle of beer into the batter and cooked it under wood fire in the bush.  We dipped the hot damper with honey and I always enjoy having it with the crowd of people.  Happy Australian Day!     

Herb & Cheese Aussie Damper

3 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cup milk
80 butter, soften
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon mixed herb

  1. Preheat oven to 200c.  Line a 20cm round cake pan with baking paper.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and crumble the butter with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add milk and cheese using a flat edge knife lightly mix until mixture starts to come together like scone batter.  Knead lightly and shape into the cake pan.  
  4. Score top of damper into 8-12wedges with a sharp knife.  Bake for 45 minutes or until golden.  Serve with finger food such as smoked salmon, ham, olives, cheese and sun-dried tomato for great entertainment.    

Friday, January 21, 2011

Veggie Burger

There used to be a vegetarian cafe near my work.  I walked pass it many many times but never want to walk in for a meal as my perception told me that western vegetarian food was just not my type of food.  I would much prefer a meaty burger instead.  Until one day, my cousin suggested us to have a try.....  It's menu was very simple, it only serve burger, fresh juice and some cake and slices.  It took me a while to choose my burger from a choice of chick peas, soy beans, lentils etc.... I ordered a chick peas burger and carrot juice and I would never forget it's tasty almond slice.  That was a big step for me to get to learn and enjoy western vegetarian food and eating a variety of salad.  Thinking of all the natural ingredients and goodness from the vegetarian meal makes me feel healthy and being kind to the animals.  Unfortunately, the cafe was sold not long after my discovery of vegetarian food but my love for veggie meal had grown ever since.     

Veggie Burger

Serve 4

4 hamburger buns, buttered
1/4 cup cucumber, sliced
2 whole tomato, sliced
1/4 cup red onion, sliced
1 cup alfalfa
natural Greek yoghurt  
Thai sweet chilli sauce

Veggie patties:
2 big potato
1 small carrot or sweet potato
1/4 cup of tin chickpea, coarsely mashed
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup peas
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2-3 tablespoons corn flour
salt & pepper
bread crumb from old bread

  1. Peel the potato and cut into chuck pieces.  Peel the carrot and cut into 1cm cubes.  Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a saucepan and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt into the boiling water.  Cook potato and carrot in the saucepan until well cooked.  Drain excess water and coarsely mash the cooked vegetables.  
  2. Place the chick peas, corn, peas and onion into a mixing bowl, add in the mashed vegetables.  Then add in the flour and seasoning until the ingredients are all well combined.  Add a bit more flour if it comes too lose.  Divide the ingredients into 4 portions.  Place a portion of the ingredients into a ball shape, generously coated with bread crumb and flatted it into a patty shape.  Repeat the process to make 4 patties.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in pan and cook the patties until golden brown.  Add a bit more oil if needed as the bread crumb needs plenty of oil to get crispy.  Be careful of the popping corn when it gets heat up.
  4. Lightly toasted the burger, then arrange it with tomato, cucumber, onion and alfalfa. Top it with the patty and drizzle it with sweet chilli sauce and yoghurt.  Serve it with seasoned salad.