Monday, December 21, 2009

: happy holidays :

Happy holidays everyone!! I hope everyone is getting excited for Christmas - I know I am! There's nothing like walking down lighted streets and listening to Christmas music to get me into the holiday spirit.

This year, I decided to try my hand at a beautiful cake for Christmas. When I was young, I used to stare in awe of beautiful cakes in bakeries and cookbooks. In fact, when my parents used to take me to the library, I would head straight to the baking section and borrow books on cake decorating! So, what better Christmas cake than a traditional bûche de noel? Because of my time constraints, what with school exams and all, I decided to take the easy route and buy a ready-made swiss roll. (You can buy them at your local Metro, or Asian grocery stores.) I think it turned out pretty well, don't you? :)

Merry Christmas to all, and may all your bellies be full!!

Bûche de Noel

1 large store-bought chocolate swiss roll
1 small store-bought chocolate swiss roll

Chocolate Ganache:
1/4 cup whipping cream
100g semi-sweet chocolate chips

Candy Mushrooms:
4 vanilla-flavoured tootsie rolls
Cocoa powder, if desired

Shredded coconut
Icing sugar

1. Place the large swiss roll on a platter or serving board. Cut one end of the small swiss roll diagonally, then place the cut side anywhere against the large roll.
2. To make ganache, microwave whipping cream for 15 to 30 sec until cream is hot. Pour over chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir until chocolate is melted. Let the chocolate cool slightly.
3. Spread chocolate all over top and sides of cake. You can be a little bit messy so it looks like tree bark.
4. To make candy mushrooms, microwave tootsie rolls for 5 to 7 seconds, just to make them pliable. Flatten 3 candies into flat discs to resemble mushroom tops. Divide the last candy into 3 pieces and roll into a stem. Using a bit of water as the glue, stick discs on top of stems. You can also dust the tops with a bit of cocoa powder to give them some colour.
5. Pour some shredded coconut around the cake to resemble some snow. Sift a little icing sugar over the cake. Arrange mushrooms around the cake.
6. Slice and enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

: a fresh approach to fruit :

So. I've sort of been on a blog hiatus for 4 months.

It's not you. It's me.

I've just been so busy... you know... school... work...

I know, I know.

It's no excuse.

But... ladies and gentlemen - I'm back! And with some more healthy (and not so healthy) eating advice ;)

This is a post I've been wanting to write for some time now. Earlier this year, I entered a recipe development competition for Sun Rich Fruits. The challenge was to create something unconventional using their chopped fruit products, in less than 5 steps, with minimal/easy cooking. Seeing as I have an affinity for Asian cuisine, I opted to make an Asian dish. What transpired was a Thai-Style Tropical Shrimp Cocktail!

It was a bit of a last minute entry, but lucky I entered because I won! (My classmate won the other prize as well :)). I had been waiting to post this entry because they were going to post the recipe on their website (and I had wanted to link it), but alas, it still has not made it. But they did send me a stack of postcards/recipe cards they made up for my recipe :) These cards are meant to be distributed at shows and retailers, so it's kind of neat to be "in print"!


Thai-Style Tropical Shrimp Cocktail (serves 6)

18 Medium-sized shrimp, cooked and peeled
1 cup Sun Rich Pineapple Chunks
1 cup Sun Rich Orange Sections
1 cup Sun Rich Grapefruit Sections
1 cup Sun Rich Mango Chunks
2 tbsp. Chopped fresh cilantro

2 tbsp. Lime juice, fresh
1 tsp. Rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. Fish Sauce
1.5 tsp. Brown Sugar
1/8 tsp. Bird's eye chili, finely minced
1/8 tsp. Lime zest, finely minced
Salt to taste

1. Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl.
2. Add fruit and cilantro to the dressing and toss thoroughly to coat.
3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for flavours to develop.
4. Prior to service, add shrimp and toss. Serve immediately in individual glasses for cocktail appetizers, or as a side dish.