Jun 29, 2009

Mandy's Birthday!



Two years went by since this English afternoon tea party with my buddies. We used to work together in the same bank and I haven't seen them for a year already! I miss them so much that I want to place these pictures in my blog, and promise myself that I would organize some kind of gathering again in the near future! (Perhaps another birthday gathering?) We used to gossip, have lunches, shop, and sing karaoke together! Those times were fun! We even went to the amusement park together! Just imagine! Anyways, the venue of this high tea event was the lobby lounge of the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful hotels in Hong Kong. The food was good, nice scones and clotted cream, salmon puff pastry, cheesy quiche, very fresh sandwiches, strawberry cheesecake, mango mousse cake, chocolate cake & truffles... The service was a bit rushed because there were so many guests on the weekends! The average line up starting at 2:30 or 3 pm would be half an hour or more. Hm, perhaps that tells a little about the eating out culture in Hong Kong.. long line ups anywhere and any place for great deals making you not so relaxed!

Croissant


So happy that I made my own croissants and chocolate croissants! I think they taste better and more buttery than any other ones I've ever eaten in my life! Adapted from a recipe of a popular Japanese bakery, the secret to these angels are: use good butter, be patient, and be precise and work quickly. I always love fresh bread and pastries from the oven, and these babies are best eaten within an hour they come out of your oven. Otherwise, warming them up in the oven would be the second best alternative... I used French churned butter which made them so delicious!


Ingredients: (recipe comes in percentages, in grams, so you can adjust the quantity that you want to make)

All Purpose Flour...............100%
Water..................................50%
Malt Syrup..........................0.5%
Instant Yeast......................1.1% (dissolved in 2 tsp. of warm water)
Fleur de sel (or salt)..........2%
Skim Milk Powder..............4%
Sugar..................................8%
Unsalted Butter (1)..............5%
Unsalted Butter (2), chilled.............60%
Chocolate chips or sticks ................15%
Egg Wash (egg+ a little water)


Steps:

1. Place the flour into your stand mixer bowl and add the water, salt, milk powder and sugar. Mix on low speed for 5 min. As the machine starts, add in the malt and the yeast that has been dissolved.

2. After the first mix, add in butter (1) and mix on medium speed for 50 seconds.

3. Place the dough in a container and let it ferment for 60 minutes, covered. Room temperature should be around 23c.

4. After its first fermentation, divide dough into 1.7 kg pieces, and roll each piece into a ball. Try to drag it towards your body when forming into a ball so that there is tension on the surface of the dough. Then, flatten dough into 2 inch in thickness.

5. Place the dough on floured container and freeze it overnight till the next morning.

6. Next morning, take dough from freezer onto a floured surface, and roll it into an 8mm thick square. Also roll the butter (2) into an 8 mm thick square btwn. two pieces of parchment paper.

7. Place the sheet of butter diagonally in the center of the dough, fold the corners of the dough to the middle, wrapping the butter completely. Press dough with rolling pin to hold the shape.

8. Working fast, roll dough into a 6-7 mm thick rectangle. Fold it like a letter, with 1/3 of dough on the left folded to the center, and the right third folding over. Then roll dough again into a 6-7mm rectangle and repeat the folding. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and freeze for 90 min.

9. Out of the freezer, roll dough again to 6-7mm thick and fold like a letter and put it back into freezer for another 90 min.

10. Take dough out from freezer and roll it out into a 3mm thick square. Cut the square in half and place one piece over the other. Cut out equivalent triangles with height of 16 cm (not the side!). For chocolate croissant, cut the dough into rectangles about 50g each.

11. Shape the triangular dough by stretching one corner towards your body, place that corner forward, and roll the side from your body towards the stretched point. Place the croissant onto the baking tray. Repeat for remaining plain croissants. For chocolate croissants, place chocolate onto the front section of dough and roll up loosely to form rectangular shape. Place all croissants on baking sheet.

12. Let the dough rise for 1.5-2 hour in room temp., and then brush them with egg wash. After egg wash has dried, brush again. Preheat oven to 425c. After the eggwash has dried, bake croissants for 13 minutes, or until you achieved a darkish golden brown. Cool them a bit on wire rack and enjoy!

**To eat them fresh in the morning, you can freeze unused croissants before step 12 and just let the dough come to room temperature for about an hour before proceeding with step 12!

My Favourite Chocolate!




My Favourite Chocolate So Far...

is... Porcelana of Amedei Tuscany! It's not really that I think it's the best coz it's the most expensive kind, if you've tried Amedei before, and know about their processing cycle (from growing the cocao beans to the finished product), you would probably agree with me. It is a bitter chocolate with extra 70% cocoa, very appealing. I love its subtle and fruity taste and the lingering fragrance in my mouth. Honestly, I think that Valrhona, Michel Cluizel, and various other producers are great, however if I was given a choice, I'd still pick Amedei. I love chocolates. There are many many varieties of cocoa beans from different origins in the world... very interesting if you love chocolates. You can take a look at www.amedei.com.


Jun 28, 2009

Hainan Chicken Rice

Hainan Chicken Rice


One of my favourite Chinese dishes is the Hainan Chicken Rice. I love both its simplicity and authenticity. Actually if you think about it, the dish is not at all simple.. traditional Hainan Chicken Rice comprises of three different sauces, sweet and sour pickles, pure chicken broth, and flavourful steamed chicken and oil rice. I think the dish orginates from the island of Hainan in China and hence its name, and not many places can make this great dish! I had it in the Peak Restaurant in Hong Kong and it was nice! To be precise, the chicken should be served neither hot nor cold, and there should be a layer of "jelly" in between the meat so that it slips into your tongue with its perfect tenderness and juicyness. Served with its hot chilli dip, sweet soy sauce, and ginger & green onion dippings, the dish is irresistable! Actually, I think those who love this dish will find that the essence of Hainan Chicken lies in its broth and the fragrant rice because they are both made from the flavourful chicken, and because it accompanies the whole meal so well that it makes you feel very comforting without overfilling your appetite for desserts!

Keyakizaka Teppanyaki

video

The Teppanyaki lunch experience last summer in Tokyo was so enjoyable! The service of everyone in the restaurant was great and very courteous. The food ingredients were so fresh and delicious which made them incomparable with other places! They even made fabulous warm salad using their "Teppan", w/ sizzled squid and mushrooms and heated tasteful dressing over fresh & crisp greens and tomatoes! Needless to mention their meat selection and local caught seafood like crabs. Also this restaurant has been awarded as one star Michelin grade as far as I know!
Better Day - You and Me

I can't believe today is the start of my first blog! I guess I'm both excited and anxious to share what I love with the like minded। Food is my passion, as well as music, legal studies, different forms of literature and cultural studies, and more। Michael Jackson has just left this world two days ago; majority of us will miss deeply this superstar. In memory of all the great things happening and people around us, we shall keep and share a good record during our lifetime!