Tag Archives: pastry

Quiche Lorraine

I cheat and use store-bought shortcrust pastry with my quiches. If you have the time to wait for the dough to rest, and don’t mind clearing up the mess (which I always seem to make tons of whenever making pastry) go right ahead.

Quiche Lorraine reminds me of growing up in the suburbs in Sydney and having a slice of quiche with a salad on the side. You can’t really not like it – salty bacon and sweet sauteed onions enveloped in a warm eggy pillow – with pastry. It’s pretty easy, too – just make sure you blind bake your base properly, or it will end up soggy instead of crispy and short, giving you good contrasting textures with each bite.

Ingredients

  1. 1 -2 sheets ready made shortcrust pastry
  2. 1 large onion, diced
  3. 6 rashers (or more if you want) bacon, diced
  4. 200ml heavy cream
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 1 cup grated gruyere or cheddar cheese
  7. salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/390F
  2. Line the base and sides of a loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry
  3. Prick the base, line with baking paper and add pie weights/rice/beans before blind baking in the oven for 15 minutes
  4. Remove the baking paper and pie weights and put back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned
  5. While the base is baking, make your filling
  6. Sautee the bacon on medium-high heat until brown and crispy and remove from frying pan to cool
  7. Reduce the heat to low and cook onions until soft and translucent
  8. Mix cream, eggs, cheese together in a jug.
  9. Season with salt and pepper – remember not to oversalt as the bacon and cheese will provide additional seasoning
  10. Once the base is ready, sprinkle your bacon and onion on the base, and pour in the eggy/cheese mix over
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/320F and bake quiche for 30 minutes or the middle is just wobbly (it will continue to cook a little more once out of the oven)
  12. Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes before removing quiche from the tin
  13. Enjoy hot or cold as leftovers the next day ūüėČ

 

 


My first apple pie

individual apple pie

After making successful pastry for my mince pies a few weeks ago, I said that I would conquer my fear of pastry. And with the inspiration of Mamma’s Gotta Bake’s mini apple pies and the ever dependable Martha Stewart’s recipe for easy pie crust, I made my first apple pie ! I’ve a long way to go from a presentation perspective, but the taste and texture came out just how I wanted it to (I’m so thrilled).

A few rules that I followed while making my pastry:

  • Keep everything as cold as possible – butter should be chilled (I popped mine in the freezer). The reason for this is to keep the butter from melting into the flour, giving you a more crisp and flaky end result. For this reason you should minimise contact with your hands as much as possible, use your fingertips or the heel of your palm, which are the coolest parts of your hand, or better, use a pastry cutter or a food processor.
  • Add just enough water to the pastry to bind it together – too much and the water will evaporate while cooking and steam, making the pastry soggy.
  • Don’t overwork the pastry – quickly work the ingredients to just bring it together. Overworking the pastry will release more gluten in the flour, making your pastry less delicate.
  • Make sure you rest the pastry for at least an hour – I rested it for two for good measure – this helps the gluten to relax, giving you a more tender texture.
  • I love the idea from Martha Stewart to double the quantity of dough, and freeze half for use later.

My first apple pie makes 4 individual 10cm pies

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  1. 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  2. 230g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1 tsp sugar
  5. 4-6 tbls iced water

For the filling:

  1. 6 tart apples (granny smith or fuji), peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 cm pieces
  2. juice of half a lemon
  3. 1/8 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
  4. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  5. 1/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  6. 1/4 cup white sugar
  7. good pinch of salt
  8. 2 tsp cornstarch

To finish:

  1. 1 egg, beaten
  2. 1 tbls granulated sugar

Method

  1. Make the pastry first to give enough time for it to rest while you make the filling
  2. Add the cubes of butter to the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse on low until combined – it should resemble course breadcrumbs
  3. Add 2 tbls of the chilled water to the mix and pulse once or twice – just enough to bind the ingredients together for you to be able to tip the mix onto a board for kneading
  4. Continue to add 1 tbls at a time until the dough comes together
  5. Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour
  6. For the filling, add a few teaspoons of lemon juice to the cut apples to stop them going brown
  7. Add the sugars, nutmeg, cinnamon and cornstarch and mix to coat the apple pieces
  8. Cook in a large saucepan for a few minutes until the apples soften – I like my apples to still have a bit of bite when cooked – if you want them softer, cook them for longer
  9. Add more lemon juice to the mix to taste – the sourness will mellow as the mix cooks
  10. Remove from heat and cool – about 30 minutes
  11. When ready, preheat your oven to 220C/425F
  12. Roll out your pastry to 3mm and I used the foil pie trays to cut out two circles per pie – one circle the size of the edge of the tray, one 1/2cm larger
  13. Use the larger circle to line the tray – you can use a muffin tray if you don’t have the foil trays
  14. Spoon the cooled apple mixture into the trays
  15. Top with the smaller circle and seal the edges (I used my thumb and you can also use a fork)
  16. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle the granulates sugar on top
  17. Bake on a baking sheet to catch any apple filling that may bubble out for 18-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown
  18. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes
  19. Serve while warm with a big dollop of cream or ice-cream

Cabbage Slice

After the “oh no ! I have no pastry in the freezer !” incident the other night, I decided to a) stock up and b) make something with it. ¬†I decided on one of the simplest and yummiest recipes I know, cabbage slice – a soft cheesy cabbage and egg filling encased in flaky pastry. ¬†It’s one of my comfort foods.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 onion, sliced
  2. 1 small head of cabbage, sliced
  3. 1/2 cup grated cheese (or 1 cup if you’re feeling extra cheesy)
  4. 3 boiled eggs, chopped
  5. salt and pepper to taste
  6. 2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
  7. 1 beaten egg

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. In a large frying pan, fry the onion until soft
  3. Add the cabbage and stir fry until soft (this part’s a bit messy until the cabbage at the bottom cooks)
  4. Add the chopped eggs and mix
  5. Add the cheese and mix so it coats the cabbage and egg
  6. Pile cheesy cabbage mix on to the middle of one sheet of pastry and arrange so that you’ve got 3cm clear around all four edges
  7. Give the clear edges a baste with the beaten egg to help seal
  8. Place the second sheet of pastry on top and seal the edges with a fork
  9. Slash a few diagonal cuts across the top to allow steam out while the pastry cooks (helps to keep the pastry from going soggy)
  10. Wash the top with the beaten egg
  11. Pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown
  12. Cut into quarters and enjoy ! (Leftovers are good cold the next day too)

A very short trip to Hong Kong

Crispy skin chicken

My mum, sister and I have been planning a girls weekend together for a while now.  With them living in Sydney and me in Singapore it was always going to be a bit of a challenge but a random opportunity meant that it managed to happen much sooner than we thought.  Destination: Hong Kong.

In between the manic shopping, being in Hong Kong, of course, we ate.

I grew up with Cantonese food in Sydney – it being the predominant Asian cuisine before Thai, Malaysia, Beijing and Shanghainese restaurants started to spring up around ten years ago.

In Singapore, Cantonese cuisine is either very good and high-end, or average and cheap. ¬†I miss the rowdiness at the likes of East Ocean or Golden Century in Sydney where it’s casual and the food top-notch. ¬†Here good Cantonese food (including yum cha) is ordered from the menu rather than just going in and ordering what you like or what is recommended. ¬†It’s just so…formal. ¬†Maybe that’s actually a good thing, but old habits die hard for me.

Problem is, with only 2 1/2 days, it’s hard to visit all the places you want to, with popular restaurants fully booked days ahead, and the appeal of somewhere local where we can refuel before heading back out to the dizzying array of shops was sometimes too great to travel far (or at all).

Won ton noodles “kon loh”

We ate “kon loh” wonton noodles, where the noodles are thinner than you can get here in Singapore and cooked perfectly al dente, simply served with some oyster sauce and the most tender kailan, accompanied with a delicious soup with soft pillowy wontons, topped with fried onions and fresh shallots.

Other typically Cantonese cafe food was one which I used to eat regularly for lunch with my friends back in Sydney.¬† It’s a calorie-buster – and takes a while to make – fried rice, topped with a deep fried pork chop, covered in a tomato-based sauce with fresh tomatoes, then baked.¬† I don’t know why it works so much better than ordering a plate of fried rice served with sweet and sour-like pork but when that casserole dish turned up, a big smile was on my face, not just happy that I was going to eat something yummy, but the fond memories of the three girls I used to eat this dish with.

Both of these were at a very busy, popular-with-the-locals, typical Hong Kong cafe in Causeway Bay – Tsui Wah. ¬†Be prepared to wait a while for a free table during peak times, but it’s worth it.

Tsui Wah Restaurant
G/F, 493-495 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay

Steamed whole garoupa with soya sauce

For dinner we went ¬†just across the road from our hotel, on the 12th floor of the World Trade Centre, at the Dragon King Restaurant.¬† The evening we went we were treated to a less-hazy day, so we had a spectacular view of Kowloon (specifically Tsim Tsa Tsui) from our window seat.¬† We had wanted to go to Tsui Hang Village Restaurant for roast meats, but they were fully booked the entire time we were in Hong Kong. ¬†Dragon King luckily still managed to¬†hit the spot nicely.¬† Unfortunately we did go slightly later – 8.30pm – and the suckling pig AND the roasted pork had both sold out.¬† We ended up ordering crispy skin chicken – something we probably haven’t eaten in years, bean sprouts with egg and dried compoy, and steamed whole garoupa with soya sauce, a classic dish.

All three dishes were perfectly executed – not overly seasoned, MSG-free, the chicken skin crispy while the meat was moist, and the fish fresh and firm.¬† We even got chatting to the maitre-D who very kindly offered us a course of double-boiled soup to start the meal, and a jelly-dessert to end the meal.¬† All this surrounded by Cantonese families all having their Sunday dinners.¬† It’s not fancy for them – I guess because space is such a luxury in Hong Kong, small apartments mean that once a week the family get together to eat in restaurants.¬† So the vibe is friendly and happy with a good amount of chatter in the background.

Dragon King Restaurant
12/F, World Trade Center, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2895 2288

Espresso custard tart from Lord Stow’s bakery

As Hong Kong is a bit of a late starter, we were often up and ready before anything was open. ¬†Luckily for us, on the ground floor of our hotel was cafe EXpresso, that is the exclusive distributor for Lord Stow’s patisseries in Hong Kong. ¬†You can read the history of his bakeries in Asia from the link. ¬†Delicious classics like croissants and portuguese custard tarts were enjoyed on the first morning, and the next we went for wholemeal croissant and the best best best one, espresso custard tarts. ¬†The custard not too sweet with a strong punchy coffee flavour and the tart pastry didn’t completely fall apart and crumble like a butter pastry.¬† It had layers with substance yet managed to be light as air.¬† The wholemeal croissant tasted surprisingly almost just like a normal croissant – delicious.

EXpresso Cafe
The Excelsior Hotel
281 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

All in all, the trip managed to satisfy most of my Cantonese food cravings, although I am looking forward to yum cha with friends on Sunday and on a mission to get some good three layer roast pork.  Any good recommendations in Singapore ?