Sunday, February 28, 2016

Clementine Cake

I only used four clementines.
Ready to be processed
Clementine paste
Ready to be baked
Right out of the oven
Browned edges and slightly sunken center... :(
This cake is like the fourth season of Sherlock Holmes - it's been waiting for forever to be made.  Like Smitten Kitchen, I was fascinated by the recipe.  Cake with no butter and no flour.  Could that work?  It was my first time making this cake, but I braved it and made this for a dinner invite.  (I also took back-up cookies and a good bottle of wine just in case.  I am actually not that brave...)

The total time invested in this cake was three hours.  Two hours to boil the clementines and about an hour to put all the ingredients together and bake it.  I was very happy with the outcome.  The cake was dense, very moist, had just the right amount of sweet, and it was delicious.  The flavor of the clementines were very evident and, strangely, the cake felt very velvety as if it had chock full of had none.  

I highly recommend the sliced almond topper and powdered sugar finish as the cake itself is not very sweet.  (Another option is to make the glaze like Smitten Kitchen to pour over the cake) This is a very 'adult' cake so I would not recommend this for your child's birthday party.  Everyone at the dinner table seemed to enjoy the cake and I certainly did too.  I made my husband promise to tell me the absolute truth about this cake and he swears it was delicious for him too so I think it's safe to make this cake again.

The Recipe
Clementine Cake adapted by Smitten Kitchen

Sunken Center
  • I don't know if you can see it in the pictures but I actually had a slightly sunken center.  I've baked quite a few cakes in my life and have never had that happen before.  Eeeek~!  I quickly searched the internet for what might have caused it.  Here's what I've found.  
  • I believe my culprit was the baking powder.  Smitten Kitchen's recipe calls for 'heaped' teaspoon full of baking powder.  But, the original recipe asks for just one teaspoon of baking powder.  I went a little overboard with the 'heaped' spoon.  I will go with just one flat teaspoon of baking powder next time.  
Variations & Tips
  • Do not use 'heaped' spoon of baking powder but just a teaspoon as it may cause the cake center to sink.
  • I added sliced almonds and powdered sugar and I will do this every time I make this cake.  Or, I will definitely try the clementine glaze from Smitten Kitchen.  
  • Add the sliced almonds right before putting the cake in the oven.  Add the powdered sugar after the cake has cooled, preferably right before serving.  
  • Since the size of clementines differ, it would be helpful to use a kitchen scale to ensure you don't put too much or too little clementine.  
  • I only used the food processor for the clementines.  I used a handmixer to beat the eggs and the sugar and I folded the rest of the ingredients with a spatula to avoid over-beating.  (Make sure that your baking powder is mixed it well and is not clumped.  This will be disastrous for your cake!)
  • I checked the cake after 30 minutes and my toothpick came out clean so make sure you start checking your cake after 30 minutes.  
  • Ensure you implement the step of tin foiling your cake after 20-30 minutes - put foil over your cake to protect the top from over-browning.  I put foil over the cake after 30 minutes and put it back in the oven for an extra 10 minutes. 
  • My total cooking time was 40 minutes.
  • I used an 8x8 square pan instead of a round pan. My batter would not fit into an 8 inch round pan. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Mr. Baek's Korean Curry

Korean Curry (Hot!)
Curry Paste

Colorful Veggies!
'Almost' caramelized! 
Veggies in the pot!
Almost done!
Ready to go in yo belly!

This may sound strange to the non-Korean ears but curry is a very popular staple in a Korean household.  In our house, we even had mom's version and dad's version of Korean curry.  Korean curry is not as dense as Indian curry.  The flavor of the curry is not as in-your-face but more gentle on your palate.  That's the best I can describe it anyway. 

The below recipe is a slight deviation from the traditional Korean curry.  I've been seeing this recipe floating around the Korean food blogs, so I had to try it out.  The below video is of Mr. Baek from whom the recipe came from.  (Scroll all the way down to see the vid!)  The difference in this recipe from the traditional Korean curry is that the onion is caramelized (actually 'almost' caramelized) before adding the other ingredients.  I say 'almost' because it isn't caramelized in the traditional sense.  (This is how you really caramelize onions)  This step adds greater depth to the flavor of the curry and I do think there's a huge improvement in the flavor.  This is why we use more onions than the traditional Korean curry recipe.  Caramelizing reduces the volume of the veggie.  I also used chicken broth rather than just plain water - a trick I learned from my husband, who is known for his amazing Korean curry.

Mr. Baek's Korean Curry
  • 1 1/2 Medium carrots 
  • 3 Medium potatoes (I used Russet)
  • 2 Medium onions
  • 1 Bell pepper
  • 5-6 White button mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 Cup of diced chicken (I used boneless breast, but wouldn't mind trying chicken thighs)
  • 2/3 Cups of Korean curry powder (Click if you wanna buy this online
  • 4 Cups of chicken broth (You can use water or veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp of ground pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4-5 TbspVegetable oil
  1. Cut all vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces.  (You may cut it length-wise like Mr. Baek does in the video.)
  2. Use about 1/3 cup of chicken broth and pour it into the curry powder to make curry paste.
  3. Heat about 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a skillet on medium high heat and cook the diced chicken for about 2-3 minutes until most of the skin is white.  Do not fully cook.  Set aside.
  4. In a large pot, heat 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil on medium heat.  Put in the diced onions and ground pepper.  Cook the onions for about 10 minutes until it is (almost) caramelized - refer to picture.  Stir frequently with a wooden spoon to avoid burning.  
  5. Once the onion is caramelized, add all the vegetables and the chicken to the pot with the remaining vegetable oil and cook for about 3 minutes on medium high heat.
  6. Pour the chicken broth and continue to cook on medium high heat for about 5-8 minutes or until the potatoes get soft and all the vegetables are cooked.  
  7. Add the curry paste and stir.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes.  
  8. Turn off the heat and serve with your favorite rice!  (I recommend Jasmine rice.)  
If you can read Korean, check this site out with the original images and instructions.
If you want an English version of the traditional Korean curry recipe click here for Aeri's Kitchen recipe.

Monday, February 15, 2016

White Chocolate Coconut Truffles

toasted almonds + shredded coconut
coconut oil + white chocolate

ball-ing the chocolate mix

ready to go in the freezer
ready to go back into the freezer

all ready to be packaged
"Am I beautiful?"

ready for some L-O-V-E

These truffles are a winner.  They really are amazing, if I say so myself.  Apparently they are a Raffaello copycat - a little sister of the famous and oh-so-delicious Ferrero Rocher.  But, no store-bought candy can beat a home-made truffle.  These are not intensely sweet but just sweet enough for you to keep going back for more.  If you love coconuts in your sweets (like moi!)  these are the best ever truffles for you.  The coconut coat adds a little fancy-ness to them and you can easily dupe people into thinking you are a truffle-making fairy.

The Recipe:
White Chocolate Coconut Truffle by Let the Baking Begin

Changes I made:

  • The original recipe inserts whole almonds into each truffle (like the original Raffaello).  I opted to add in 1 cup of silvered almonds into the chocolate + coconut mix instead.  This allows for almonds to be in every bite which I absolutely love.
  • I toasted the silvered almonds before adding them to the coconut mix.  Here's a link to toasting nuts.  I usually dry roast them on a skillet.  Let the almonds cool a bit before you add it into the shredded coconut.  Add the melted chocolate + coconut oil after this step is completed. 
  • The recipe gives two options to choose from.  You can roll the coconut balls directly in shredded coconut or you can dip them in white chocolate and then roll them in coconut.  I opted for the extra white chocolate.
  • For the 'dipping' white chocolate, I only put in 2 Tbsp of coconut oil instead of 3 like the recipe says to.  I wanted the chocolate to be a bit thicker.  
Tips & Reminders:
  • Ensure you use unsweetened coconut.  The white chocolate is already intensely sweet so it will tone down the sweetness of each truffle.  
  • I used Ghirardelli's white chocolate chips
  • Next time, I'll make the balls a little smaller so that they are bite-size.
  • I put the coconut+almond+chocolate balls in the freezer as they were too soft to roll in melted chocolate.  They firm up pretty quick and it is much easier to dip them in melted chocolate if you add this step. 
  • I put the finished truffles back in the freezer and this sped up the process.  
  • The recipe already tells you this but if I may repeat this great tip, coconut oil is a better option than butter as they remain solid in room temp.  The flavor also works awesome with coconut oil.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Potato Salad


Potato Salad by Smitten Kitchen
Potato salad is probably a popular go-to dish for a pot luck dinner party.  It's hard to mess up and most people like it.  If I'm opting to bring a side salad, potato salad allows for lowering the risk of having two leafy salads as there's always someone who tries to sneak in the 'healthy' to a pot luck.

I have another potato salad recipe that I really love but I opted for this one today.  Smitten Kitchen is my cooking fairy blog mother and I didn't want to pass up a great excuse to try out one of her recipes.

Recipe Variants:
  • I used 4lb of potatoes instead of 3lb like the recipe
  • BUT I did not increase the dressing at all and it still worked great!
  • I added a tablespoon of sugar to the dressing
  • I completely eliminated dills cuz...I didn't have any but would love to try it out next time
  • I used four eggs instead of three to match the potatoes.  I would not have minded adding a bit more actually
  • I did added ground pepper at the end - this is a must.  
Reminders & Tips:
  • Red onions have a pretty strong flavor so you can soak them in ice water for about 15 minutes to tame the strong flavor a bit.  
  • Putting the salad together is pretty easy & quick.  Just remember to budget in the time for the boiled potatoes to cool to your cooking time, especially if you're making this on a tight schedule.