Sunday, July 22, 2007

The tale of 3 little piggies and the Chocolate Soufflé

Chocolate souffle

One Friday night, one little piggy decided that they hadn't had korean (cuisine) for a while and suggested to the other two little piggy that a little trip to the koreans was in order. So off they went to the korean restaurant nearby where they gorged themselves on a dinner of beef bulgogi, kimchi and tofu hotpot, Spicy fried chicken pieces and a plethora of side dishes.

Feeling a bit unsatisfied because dinner was only average, they decided to skip the dessert menu (at the korean restaurant) and move to another joint for dessert. So they said their farewell to the little korean lady and headed back to the parking lot where they parked their little piggy wagons.

Now, there were a fair few cafes and restaurants nearby where they could move on to for dessert, but as usual, the little piggies couldn't decide which cafe they should go so they started chatting in the parking lot. Mind you, it was about 10 degrees and Grey* piggy decided then to start talking to Orange* piggy about the up coming snow trip to Mt Hotham. (Yes, these little piggies all snowboard). Pink* piggy (who was frezzing her little piggy tail off) decide to put a stop to the conversation and said: "HALT! It's friggen freezing out here and we're talking about snow. Let's go back to pinky's place where it's nice and warm, where you two little piggies can talk about the snow and this little piggy can ponder about dessert"

Orange piggy took a bit of convincing but when Pinky told Orange how sad it was to be at home on a Friday night by his piggyself playing throwing food at other pigges on facebook.... It took a few more prodding but Orange agreed to come over for a bit.

So when they got home, Pinky decided that something warm was in order and whipped open her new Donna Hay chocolate cookbook for inspiration. Inspiration came when she flipped to page 79 and saw a photo of some mouthwatering chocolate soufflés. Pinky was instantaneously inspired and skipped to the other room (where grey and orange piggies were watching repeats of Simpsons) and promptly declared that they were going to stay at the House of Pinky for dessert and dessert was going to be Donna's chocolate soufflé.

Chocolate souffle

Chocolate soufflé
from Donna Hay, chocolate

Ingredients:

150g dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup cream (single/pouring)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup caster sugar
6 egg whites

*extra caster sugar for dusting
*melted butter for brushing

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
  2. Brush 4 ramekins (1 cup capacity) dishes with butter and dust the insides with sugar. (by placing 1 tbsp of sugar into the ramekin and rotating until the insides are completely coated.)
  3. Melt chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat, when chocolate's melted and smooth, add in cocoa powder. Stir until smooth.** Remove from heat.
  4. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar (in several batches) and continue whisking until thick and glossy.
  5. Fold in 1/4 of egg white through the chocolate mixture.
  6. Once mixed, fold through the remaining egg whites.
  7. Spoon into prepared ramekins.
  8. Carefully tap down the dishes to release any trapped air in the ramekins. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20mins.

The end of the chocolate souffle


The verdict:
Pink piggy loves it! Grey piggy and Orange piggy hmm'd through it. (pink piggy will take it as they loved it) It was warm and chocolatey. Perfect dessert for a cold winter night. Serve with strawberries and dollops of cream on the side. Mmm paradise...

Pinky was a bit worried (being a sinkerphobia sufferer and all) when the soufflé came out all cracked. But a quick look at the photo in the cookbook showed that Donna's was cracked too so it was all good. =)

Notes:
*Pinky = me, Grey = Alv, Orange = Fabian. Those were the colours we were wearing that day.
**My suggestion> I had a bit of trouble with this step. Donna suggested that all three item be placed into the saucepan and melted over low heat until smooth. All I got was a brown lump of chocolate. I think it may work a bit better if the chocolate and cream were melted first and then the cocoa powder added. Feel free to tell me if I'm wrong.
***What's with the 3 little piggy? The 3 of us have been eating out a lot together the last few weeks. Hence, the inspiration for the 3 little pigs. =)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Comfort food - Creamy pumpkin soup

Creamy pumpkin soup


Hello World! Where have you been?

Actually, I've been around. Been doing a fair bit of cooking too. But just haven't found the motivation to post them... which is bad, because as I write this I have another 3 post sitting in draft mode with pretty pics to accompany them but no text what-so-ever.

I get a bit excited when the weekend comes about because weekends means I can cook/bake to my hearts content and take nice photos of my blood, sweat and tears... Ok... So I'm exaggerating. Not every recipe I decide to tackle ends in blood, sweat and tears. Maybe just sweat...

Today is hump day. (yay!) Every hump day night, I spend at least 5minutes in front of the bookshelf at the end of my bed, picking out a couple of cookbook or food magazine for the weekend inspiration. Then, when I've decided on the recipe, I'd scribble down the ingredients and give myself 2 days to make sure that I have all the ingredients that I need to start the weekend with. Come Saturday, I would be happily baking/cooking away and on Sunday afternoons I set up shop in my room to photograph the goodies made on Saturday. I reckon that has to be my most favourite part of weekend (next to 'sleeping in' of course!), because after I'm done with the photos, I get to stuff my gob with the leftovers. Someone's got to eat them right??

That's the sort of routine I've been following in the last two months - cooking or baking on a Saturday and photographing them on a Sunday. My FMIL (aka future mother-in-law aka Alv's Mum) has picked up on the routine too. When she sees me sneaking off with a batch of biscuits or a cake on a nice platter she goes, "Taking photos again ah?"

I bet she thinks I'm going nutty, doing all this baking and then going through all the trouble picking out the best pieces and using the best crockery just to photograph them. Bleh... what does she know about food blogging...?

This pumpkin soup was the result of the weekend that's just passed. The inspiration came from a Gordon Ramsay (orangey) carrot soup that is featured in this month's ABC delicious Magazine. I say 'inspired' because I only like carrots.. in moderation.

What's another orangey soupy vegetable/fruit? Pumpkin of course!

Creamy pumpkin soup

Ingredients:

850g pumpkin (I used kabocha/japanese pumpkin)
3 cloves garlic
1 medium sized onion
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1L stock (I used chicken)
100ml sour cream
1 small bunch parsley stalk
2 tbsp butter (or more)
2 slices of short cut bacon (optional)
some chopped parsley, to serve

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C. Deseed pumpkin, and place a generous piece of butter (about 1 tbsp) in the cavity of the pumpkin. Place pumpkin in a baking dish.
  2. Crush garlic and add to the baking dish. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the garlic and place baking dish into the oven.
  3. Roast for about 10 - 15mins until garlic is fragrant but not burnt. Remove the garlic from the oven and roast pumpkin for another 50mins until the flesh is soft and tender when poked with a fork or skewer.
  4. Remove pumpkin from oven and set aside to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, dice the onions and parsley stalks.
  6. Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop up all the pumpkin flesh and set aside.
  7. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of butter and fry the onions with a pinch of salt until fragrant.
  8. Add in the roasted garlic and parsley stalks and stir to mix.
  9. Once the onions, garlic and parsley mixture become fragrant, add in the pumpkin flesh and cumin, mix well.
  10. Add in the chicken stock, give it a bit of a stir to ensure that the pumpkin and stock are well mixed.
  11. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for about 1 to 1hr 15mins. At the end of the simmering time, the soup should be of a thick consistency. (Might be a good idea to check on the soup during the simmering period)
  12. Remove from heat and let it cool for about 10 to 15mins.
  13. Meanwhile, slice bacon and pan fry it until well browned and slightly crispy. Remove and set aside.
  14. Once the soup has cooled down a little, blend the soup with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth. If the soup is a bit too thick, pour in some extra chicken stock or some water to thin it to your liking.
  15. Return soup to saucepan and stove for reheating under a low to medium heat.
  16. Just before the soup starts to boil, stir in the sour cream.
  17. Serve with sprinkles of chopped parsley, toasted bread and topped with some crispy bacon.
Note: For a more flavoursome soup, prepare the soup a day before hand without adding in the sour cream. Reheat and add in the sour cream just before serving.

My verdict:
Adding the bacon in was something I came up with at the last minute. I don't know how to explain it, it was one of those things that I felt that the soup would be incomplete without. No idea where I got this notion from but my gut feeling was I ABSOLUTELY have to have it otherwise I won't be happy with the end result.

Actually, I'm glad I insisted on it. The pumpkin soup was really sweet, rich and creamy. The extra bacon in it helped cut through the sweetness for me. Alv's mum and her friend went without the bacon. She commented that it was too creamy and rich for her but her friend Jenny loved it. (Shrug, more bacon for me.)

Oh and the cumin, mmmm made the whole house smell nice and yummy. Oh, and it gave the soup a bit of a spicy kick to it.

Describe the soup in 5 words or less: "It-was-really-good"


Creamy pumpkin soup