Friday, November 24, 2006

SHF25 - Matcha Chocolate Truffles

TGIF!!! Ie. Thank God It's Friday. Not to be confused with the US food chain TGI Friday's.

I am a slave of short cut writing. Where 'You' becomes 'U', 'You are' becomes 'UR' and 'In my humble opinion' becomes 'IMHO (not to be confused with I am a Ho.. NOT). We (my friend Bec and I) have become accustomed to starting off each Friday morning by emailing the one liner :'TGIF!!' Such are the days where 'Google' has become synonymous with the word 'Search/ing'. It's a bad habit I know, I try not to do it when I'm commenting on other people's blogs. So I always make sure I proof read my comment before posting it.

Anyway, moving on.. it's Friday and it's also Sugar High Friday, 25th Edition, hosted by Johanna of The Passionate Cook. Johanna decreed that this months mission, should we food bloggers choose to accept it is to:
1) Go out and buy the best truffles in the market.
2) Over indulge on them truffles and then
3) Make your own!
Which was exactly what I did! The Saturday after the theme was announced, I took a trip down to Prahran Market and bought myself some Monsieur Truffe! Monsieur Truffe makes the best handmade truffles I've ever had in Melbourne. I believe Ed of Tomato discovered it, shared it with his friends, who somehow ended up sending some to Deb of The Food Palate up in Sydney and that was how I discovered Monsieur Truffe. (Incidentally, I believe I may have met the man himself on my first trip. Ed describes him as 'the real deal with the full French accent)

So this was my second visit to Prahran to pick up some truffles. On my first visit, I picked up some marzipan filled truffles, chocolate covered with hazelnut praline truffles and some kalamansi lime truffles. This time round, I was intent on sampling his regular chocolate truffles. I mean, the flavoured ones are great and a must but I can't 'NOT' try the normal dark chocolate ones, how else would I know the difference? So I left the Monsieur's stall with $20 less in my pocket, two a small pack of chocolate truffles - dark chocolate and passionfruit; and a pack of caramalised chocolate almonds. I couldn't wait to get home, so I opened then bag of almonds and munched all the way home. LOL! Since I was sharing some with Ellie, I was only able to gobble half of em. Yum yum.. let's just say it was yummilicious! (Ellie: Don't worry, I still have your half !)


Monsieur Truffe chocolate truffles
(Unfortunately, no pics of the chocolate truffles I bought. In my haste to consume, I kinda forgot all about it, so you'll have to be content with one of the old shots)

So after over indulging on some MT, I set about preparing the ganache for my own chocolate truffles. I have probably mentioned a few times (like here, here, here and here) of my love for Matcha. So it was only logical that I would one day try and come up with my own version of a Green Tea Chocolate Truffle.

My inspiration for these truffles are from these lovely Japanese chocolates called Melty Kiss in Matcha flavour made by the famous Japanese confectionary company Meiji. They are little cubes (about 1cm x 1cm) of cocoa dusted candy with a matcha flavoured ganache like center. They litterally melt in your mouth as the cocoa powder dissolves in your mouth and reveals the bittersweet matcha center. A friend's mum brought a large box of these back from HK and since then, I have always associated chocolate and matcha to those chocolates. So with that in mind, I modified the Claudia Fleming's Earl Grey Chocolate Truffles recipe by substituted dark chocolate for white chocolate to make the ganache centre and added some matcha powder into the equation. The result was:

Green Tea ganache

Ok, so the green's doesn't look quite as appetising now, but it was really bright green when I made it about 2 weeks ago? I have been busy with the boy's birthday and moving houses that I didn't really get around to taking a photo of the truffle until a few days ago. :( I guess there's a reason why FRESH is always THE BEST. It's just a tad darker than it was before but it still tastes awesome!

This photo will probably not do it any justice, since I took it at night in bad lighting and bad focus, but it should give you an idea of what it looked like two weeks ago.

DSCN1553

If I was to compare it to the Melty Kiss, there would be no comparison of course. Whilst both would melt in your mouth, the Melty Kiss had a stronger matcha flavour, whilst my truffles have an extra coating of dark chocolate and was a bit more creamier and sweeter due to the white chocolate. But no doubt, with a bit of tweaking and practise I am sure I will be able get it right one day. :)

Truffles in a box


Matcha Chocolate Truffles
*Adapted from Claudia Fleming's Earl Grey Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients:
1 & 1/4 cup Double Cream (Heavy Cream)
140g White Chocolate, chopped finely
4 tsp Matcha powder*

250g Dark Chocolate (35% - 60% cocoa)
1 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder

*to your taste, I used 4 tsp because I prefered a stronger taste)

Heat cream gently until boil (be careful as heating it too quickly may cause the cream to split). Add matcha powder and stir until the tea powder is dissolved. Remove from heat, let the mixture sit for 2mins. Place chopped white chocolate in a medium sized bowl and pour the cream mixture onto the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

At this point, you can either choose to: a) cover the mixture and chill for a minimum of 4hrs until the mixture is set. or b) pour the mixture into a lined rectangle or square shallow container before chilling. The first time I made truffles I followed Claudia's recipe to a T and ended up with chocolate covered hands when I was rolling the truffles with my hands into rounded balls. I think I had to wipe my hands clean 3 times throughout the rolling process and I ended up wasting quite a bit of chocolate there, not to mention making a mess on the table.

This time round, I decided to pour it into a shallow rectangular plate that I have. By lining the sides, I was able to remove the ganache from the plate and cut square pieces of ganaches, there by solving the dirty hands issue. I think I got the idea when I bought some truffles from Koko Black once. Come to think of it... Monsieur Truffe's truffles are rectangular in shape too! Why didn't I think of that sooner... anyways.. Your choice. I know some people use a melon baller to scoop it up into perfect round balls. I'm not that skilled with the melon baller, so I chose the latter :)

After shaping the truffles, return to the fridge for 15 - 20mins to firm them.

Meanwhile, melt two thirds of the dark chocolate for the truffles coating using a double boiler or simply by suspending a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the remaining chocolate and stir continuosly until the chocolate is melted, smooth and is at room temperature.

(This is where I erred, and I think that is why my chocolate ended up with a funny white streak when it cooled. :( Something to do with chocolate tempering.)

Place the cocoa powder into a bowl and like an assembly line drop the truffles into the melted chocolate (use a fork to foat them with the chocolate) and when well coated, lift the truffles out of the melted chocolate and drop them into the cocoa powder and roll them until they are well coated with the cocoa powder. Repeat with remaining truffles.

Makes about 24 chocolate truffles.

Note to self: Do not make truffles on a warm day. The ganache filling oozes out of any available cracks. (See the above close up photo)

Green Tea Chocolate Truffles

Friday, November 10, 2006

To Melly, With Love

Sweet Melly

This is my dear friend Mel. A week and a half ago Melly walked down the aisle and became Mrs W. Damn, I can't call her Mrs W, she's younger than me! As I write this, she's enjoying (I hope) her two week honeymoon in Vanuatu.

Young Mel and I have been friends for almost 10 years now. You wouldn't guess where we first met.... Route 57 West Maribyrnong/City Tram! LOL Is this starting to sound like a love story or what? Mel and I used to live down the road from each other, she on the Flemington side of Racecourse Road and me on the Kensington side of Racecourse Road.

St Aloysius (Girl's) College was where Mel went to and where her mum Cathy was educated too; and I joined St Al's (as we call it) in 1997 when I migrated to Melbourne from Malaysia. Route 57 was the tram that we travelled on to school everyday.

Mel's house was located on a street that was between two tram stops and for some reason or other she used to board the tram from the stop before mine and her elder brother Ant would board the tram from tram stop where I would get on the tram. We used to joke that it was: (a) so that his friends wouldn't know that she was his little sister and (b) so that the girls from our school (lots of girls from our school on the same tram) wouldn't know that she was his little sister because all the girls would sneak peeks at him when he'd get on the tram, for you see big Ant was a probably the cutest boy on the tram. (Tall, fair and handsome LOL)

Anyway, Mel would get on the tram from the stop before and stand at the front of the tram behind the driver so when I get on the tram the first person I would see is her. Since we both had the same school uniform on, we'd smile and say hi to each other every morning. Me, being a newbie, would move into the middle of the tram because "that's what the tram conductor says to do" so that people from the following stops could get on the tram easily and proceed to the next stop in time.

One day, the tram arrived late (probably because the previous tram broke down), packed like a sardine can and Mel and I ended up standing next to each other at the front of the tram, behind the tram driver. We said our regular hi's and somehow or rather started chatting and I found out that she was in the same year as I was but in a different home room. We discovered that we both share a passion for netball and sports and that we literally lived 5mins from each other. To cut a long story short, from that day onward we became friends and Mel started catching the tram from 'my' tram stop.

Then one day I told Mel about the cute guy who always catches the tram from our stop but he'd be on the tram before us, she was curious and wanted to see the cute guy too so we arranged to meet up earlier so that we could 'check out' the cute guy that I was talking about. That was when things went downhill...When the cute guy turned up, Mel couldn't stop laughing! (I thought she was going mad) She went over, said "hi" and gave him a peck on the cheeks. I was like totally shocked! There I was trying to comprehend the situation, my brain struggled in that 1 long minute to understand: 1) Why was Mel laughing so hard, 2) she kissed him!!!???!! I was like, OMG this girl's got guts!

It turned out that the cute guy was her brother Anthony who was in the year above us. I was like OMG.. need a place to hide! LOL. We had a good laugh about it though. There I was thinking Mel's got guts and turns out it's her brother. Could've fooled me! and she did!

We both graduated Year 12 in 1998 and sort of went separate ways for a little while as I enrolled in Monash University in Clayton and she went to Victoria University in Footscray, a bit closer to home. It was our passion for sports that brought us back together when she invited me to play basketball with her family friends and later on we played netball together and still did until earlier this year when we both injured ourselves (and her Mum banned us from netball until after the wedding!).

Anyway, Mel is a very dear friend (and like a little sister) to me and I felt very priviledge that she thought the same of me when she asked me to be her Maid of Honour at her wedding (that occured a few weeks ago). ... By now you're probably wondering.. so what does this have to do with food? ;) This is how it's related:

For Mel's hen's party celebrations, we arranged for a weekend away at her parent's holiday house in Ocean Grove, VIC. The party was to start on Friday night with cocktail party, nibbles and lots of Singstar and to finish up with some Mini Golf and Dinner on the Saturday night. In the weeks leading up to the hen's weekend, Mel became very unsettled and stressed (as all brides would/might?) so I decided to make a little change to our Friday plans by ditching the nibbles and arranging an intimate dinner for those of us who started the celebration that day. I had the day off work on the Friday to go up earlier with Cathy so that we could decorate the place and get some food and drinks before Mel and her friends arrived; Mel was to drive down after work (about 1 1/2hrs drive from the city).

I figured, if I was Mel, and I was driving down after work, the last thing I would want to do is sit around eat nibbles and drink cocktails/champagne. So I decided that I would cook the 6 of us a nice 3 course meal and I was sure that we'd all appreciate that more than nibbles after a long day of work. In my books, a good solid meal is always better than lots of nibbles when you're exhausted.

As I know Mel was on a semi restricted diet due to 'have to fit into wedding dress' syndrome* and I was looking out for myself too, having not exercised for months because of the foot injury; I decided to go with something low fat and healthy and made the following:


Entree:
Kathy's Chicken Meatballs w/ Mango Chutney and Redcurrant Sauce

Main:
Baked Fish w/ Herbs, Grape Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese
sides: Baked potato stack and brocollini

Dessert:
Roasted Strawberries Meringues


Chicken Meatballs w/ spices and a Mango Chutney/Redcurrant Jelly Sauce

Kathy's Chicken Meatballs, so called because I first tasted these meat balls when one of my bosses Kathy made them as part of a farewell maternity leave party we held for one of our colleagues at work. These meatballs are superb! The ingredients are fairly simple and not too fancy yet they pack a great punch served with the mango chutney and red currant sauce. Spicy (because of the spices), sweet, tangy and juicy all together. The capsicum and lettuce was my touch as I wanted to serve them in lettuce cups - Sang Choy Bao style but since we didn't want to waste food unnecesarily^, I decided to just serve the meatballs on a slice of lettuce for a touch of green.

^Cathy (Mel's mum) told me not to get another lettuce because she was already getting some for the bbq lunch the next day.

Kathy's Chicken Meatballs w/ Spicy Sauce

Ingredients:
500 – 750 g minced chicken
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 small onion
1 small can water chestnuts
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 egg
2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce
½ teaspoon cumin )
½ teaspoon ground coriander) optional use any spices to your own taste
Salt & Pepper
Oil for frying

Using a food processor or stick blender process onion, water chestnut and coriander until roughly chopped. Put minced chicken, breadcrumbs, onion mixture sauce and spices in a bowl and add beaten egg. Mix for about 3 minutes until mixture comes together then form into small balls. Heat oil in pan then fry balls until golden. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.

Sauce:
½ cup sweet mango chutney
½ cup red currant jelly
Juice of small lemon (use ½ then add to taste)
small red capsicum (or yellow) diced.

In frying pan heat chutney, red currant jelly and lemon juice and mix together. Add in diced capsicum. Place meatballs in sauce over a low heat and shake pan to cover in the sauce. This takes about 5 minutes to heat the meatballs through (may be heated from frozen but allow more time)


Main - Oven baked Basa fish w/ grape tomatoes and parmesan

This dish, I came up with by combining Tobie Puttock's Roasted Milk Potatoes and a baked fish variation from one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks. I can't remember which now. At first, I was a bit skeptical about how the parmesan cheese would go with the fish, but surprisingly they go really well together! I think it might have been the sharpness taste in the parmesan cheese that actually gave the fish a bit of more flavour since it was only seasoned with olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. And we all know how well cheese and tomatoes go together :)

Apologies in advance for the sketchy instructions because I kinda just made it up and went with whatever I remembered.

Baked Basa Fillets w/ Grape tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese

Ingredients:

Basa fish fillets (or you could use any white fish fillets)
1 punnet Grape tomatoes or Cherry tomatoes
Parsley, chopped
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan cheese (to your taste)
Garlic, finely chopped

Lay fillets in a large baking tray and season with garlic, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Ensure that the fillets are well coated with seasoning. Slice tomatoes in halves and drizzle a bit of olive oil onto the tomatoes and mix well before scattering them onto the fillets. Bake for about 12-15mins (ensure that the fillet is cooked) and grate parmesan cheese onto the top of each fillet (amount to your preference) and grill under the griller until cheese melts and then serve.

Note: Cooking time may vary depending on the type of fish used and if your fish is not well thawed it might take a bit longer than 10 -1 5mins. My problem is that my fish was still quite frozen and I actually had to cook it for a while longer than 15mins.

Roasted Potatoes with milk

Ingredients:
Potatoes
Rosemary
Salt and Pepper
Milk (enough to cover the potatoes)

Wash, peel (optional) and slice potatoes into 0.5cm thin slices. Place potatoes in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and rosemary and toss well to combine. Fill bowl with enough milk to cover all the potatoes and leave aside for about 30mins.

Preheat oven to 180 C. Arrange potato slices onto a baking tray lined with baking paper or an oiled tray (which ever is your preference) and bake until potatoes are crispy. I think it took about 15mins or so.

I decided to stack my potatoes into a small stack and served the fish with some blanch some brocollini, drizzled with the pan juices from baked fish.


Roasted Strawberry Meringues


Donna Hay lovers would recognise this recipe! It's from the current edition of DH Magazine. Roasted Strawberries meringues. I have never made meringues before and was a bit nervous about it but they looked so pretty in the magazine, I just couldn't resist! I premade the meringues the night before we left of course :)

Roasted Strawberries Meringues served with a dollop of cream and roasted strawberries, drizzled with left over syrup.

Ingredients:

150ml egg whites (approx 4 eggs)
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1 1/4 cup thick (double) cream to serve

Preheat oven to 120 C. Beat egg whites in with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and vinegar and beat until the mixture is thick and glossy. Place spoonfuls of mixture onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Make a small dent on the centre of the meringues to creat a nest and bake them for 25minutes or until the meringues are crisp on the outside. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in the oven for 30mins.

Roasted Strawberries
16 strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 200 C. Place strawberries in a small baking dish and sprinkle with caster sugar. Roast for approximately 10 - 15mins or until strawberries are soft and syruppy. Remove and set aside.

To serve, simply spoon strawberries into the centre of each meringue and top with cream.

Makes about 30 - 35 meringues.

Roasted Strawberry Meringues


I kinda played a bit with the left over syrup from the roasted strawberries, somehow got the idea to make these semi circles on the plate. I thought it was pretty cool. :)

So we spent the rest of the night boozing on Midori splices and some funny cocktails that the other girls concocted, the three girls from Mel's work got absolutely smashed and was outta batteries the next day when we went mini-golfing. We had dinner at a restaurant in Ocean Grove called 13 Steps. Nothing to blog about there. I was so disappointed with my order I didn't bother taking photos of it. But we had a fabulous weekend nonetheless.

I was wrecked from the weekend, but nevertheless, nothing gives me pleasure more than cooking for a friend and Mel is more than just a friend.. who deserves a little spoiling every now and then :)


Coasters

*The dressmaker told Mel that the dress would fit better if 'they worked together' and she lost a bit around the waist, rather than get the bigger size and alter it to fit her.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The morning after

Ok, so maybe I was a bit buggered and over-reacted last night. Not so sure now..

It's still an ugly looking tart.

Dressed it up w/ some icing sugar to cover up the 'scars' and bought some cream and strawberries at coles this morning to serve it with.

I'm going to hold my thoughts on it until it passes the taste test..

EDIT: 10/11/2006

It passed the taste test! laced with strawberries of course. But yeah.. I'm so disappointed that it turned out that way. Might have to find a new recipe.. or a new oven!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

*Bawl* The oven that killed my tart


I'm so depressed.. the blasted oven has done it again.. *bawl*

I've been slaving the whole night to make a lemon tart for morning tea tomorrow. It's a special occasion, my boss is turning 60. A few of us were going to bring something for a special morning tea to celebrate her birthday.... not anymore!!! Look at what it's done:...



The blasted oven has ruined my tart :'(

What's wrong with it? Well.. it's quite burnt around the edges, the lemon custard/curd surface is in patches (it's not suppose to be this way.. it didn't do it to me the first time). Just when I thought I had the temperature controlled at 160 c in the stupid oven, I opened the door to check the tart and it'd sky rocketed to 190 c, boiling the bloody custard instead of slow cooking it and left it in messy patches. (can you hear my cries of anguish??)

I'm desperately trying to think of ways to save it, It's already 11:30pm.. way past my bedtime and unless I slave the night away there is no way I am going to be able to bring something decent into the office tomorrow.. damn oven. I was so looking forward to it too. As if it wasn't bad enough that I had a mini disaster the first time I made this, now it's happened again .. bah....!

Am I ever going to get this right...??