Carob-Tahini Spread (liquid amazingness)

Carob-tahini spread, or known by its other name, liquid amazingness, is one of the things that I Would Not Have Tried without prompting from a review site or friend. I first tried it in a lebanese brunch place somewhere in Melbourne, where before tasting it, I bellyached about paying $7 for bread with spread on it.

Having tried it, I dreamt about this stuff until the day I recreated it and kept it in a jar in my cupboard, so I’d have it premixed ready for amazingness cravings at any time of the day.

Don’t even try to tell me about peanut butter-jam/jelly. I laugh in your inexperienced face (which was also my inexperienced face a couple of weeks ago, though my poison of choice is peanut butter with kraft cheese slices. Then the obsession took over).

You must try liquid amazingness. It is really easy to make. Please try. You will be surprised. You might binge and eat nothing else except bread dipped in liquid amazingness for breakfast for a whole week or two *cough cough*

Also I’m certain it’s kinda healthy… I hope given the quantities I’ve been eating

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Carob Tahini Spread, otherwise known as Liquid Amazingness

1 tablesp carob molasses
2 tablesp tahini
Some bread

  1. Mix the carob and tahini. Spread thickly on a slice of bread. Put it in your face hole. Swoon.

Christmas leftovers: Eggnog Panettone french toast

When people think of Christmas leftovers, I suspect there is always an image of leftover turkey and baked potatoes, etc.

However, I don’t really eat those things over Christmas. If you knew what I had for Christmas dinner, you’d understand why there are no leftovers of any sort.

A hint: it’s called Crabsmas in my house. And our mascot is Father Crustaceous. Imagine a crab in a santa hat, if you will.

Apart from crabs and gingerbread, nothing is sacred. So, being in a Christmas-celebrating country for once, I took the opportunity to try a few things for the first time ever: namely supermarket eggnog and panettone.

Panettone is nice when it’s fancy, but I can’t say much for the supermarket version. Cardboard is a word that comes to mind. Also, eggnog – rather rich? Nice but I generally can’t drink more than half a cup of custard at a time.

All these things came together in a blast of inspiration one morning. Inspired by Father Crustaceous, and a disappointing brunch out the previous day, I exclaimed: “I shall make panettone eggnog french toast! I am a culinary pioneer!”

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Turns out that other people had thought of both panettone and eggnog french toast, separately and together. But whatever, I thought of it all on my ownsome first.

Eggnog Panettone French Toast 

2 eggs
~1 cup eggnog
1/2 a small panettone, cut into wedges

  1. Whisk the egg and eggnog together
  2. Dip the panettone slices in the eggnog until they are sopping wet
  3. Fry off in a hot grill pan, as you do for french toast

Dough-splosions

This is another classic case of recipe-in-progress that gets posted, so that I don’t forget what I did and what I want to try next time. Don’t ask what possessed me to attempt making bread, I don’t know. No less, bread that I can actually buy from down the road (since I’m still based in KL).

Perhaps stubbornness because I wanted to see if I could do it myself?


Not membrane-like at all. Think I didn't knead enough

I also had a bit of an explosion because I forgot that I was making bread and went off to do something else. Note to self: don’t leave dough alone to proof for 4 hours, it will try to escape the bowl.

Boom!

I made two types of bread, one was cinnamon sugar and the other was cheese sugar. I’ve provided the recipes for both. It wasn’t quite as fluffy as I would have liked, but I think that’s because I kinda don’t know what I’m doing. Suggestions welcome, and I’ll try again soon ūüôā

Cinnamon LoafCheese Sugar LoafNot quite fluffy enough - but I think that's my fault

TangZhong (śĻĮÁ®ģ)¬†Bread

Adapted from Do What I Like, though I also looked at Bush Gourmand. I made a bigger loaf and scaled the Tang Zhong for one loaf of bread.

Tang Zhong – apparently this fluffs the bread

130g water
3 1/3 teasp unsifted flour

  1. Mix everything together, and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously.
  2. Keep going until the mixture starts to thicken, and you see streaks across the surface when you drag a spoon across the top (I’ll add a picture next time).
  3. Cool to room temperature.

Bread

500g flour
200g water
10g milk or some skim milk powder – make up the liquid in water instead
2 tsp salt
2 tablesp / 30g sugar ‚Äď the typical amount in Hong Kong style bread is about double this, pump it up if you’re making a sweet bread
2 tsp yeast
50g melted cooled butter – I just melted mine in the microwave and let it cool to room temperature

2 teasp vanilla essence
2 teasp cinnamon
2 teasp brown sugar
OR
1/4 cup grated cheese
2 teasp brown sugar

Oven temperature: there are options…either 220 degrees C or 180 degrees C (I tried the 220 degrees C here)

  1. Mix flour, water, milk, salt, sugar (30g for cheese loaf, 60g for cinnamon loaf), yeast, melted butter, and tangzhong together in a bowl. Also add the cinnamon and vanilla if you’re making the cinnamon loaf.
  2. Knead until it gets stretchy, the “membrane stage”. I didn’t get there, so pics next time if I do. It also works in a bread machine for 2 cycles, about 10 to 15 minutes if I’m not wrong.
  3. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover loosely to allow it to rise. Leave it there until it doubles in size. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half in a warm room.
  4. Punch the air out, and dump it into the baking tin. Let it rest there for 15 minutes or so. It should pop out above the baking tin.
  5. Now add your toppings:
    1. Sprinkle on the brown sugar for the cinnamon loaf, or
    2. Sprinkle on the cheese and brown sugar for the cheese loaf. I added too much cheese so I had to “rescue” it, hence the crown shaped top. Don’t over-do it so that it gets too heavy or the top of the loaf will slip out the sides of the tin when it bakes.
  6. Bake at:
    1. 220 degrees C for 25 minutes. Then remove the tin, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes so the outside gets crispy. Note that the cheese burnt a little on this setting, so a little tweaking may be required.
    2. 180 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, with the lid of a pullman baking tin closed. I haven’t tried this yet, but the time seems a little short to me – to be updated!

In Sickness and in Mild-Lactose Intolerance

Despite the fact that I’m more than often (read: every day if possible) willing to eat hugely indulgent cakes/ice cream, that cheese and chocolate are some of the ingredients I use most frequently according to the tag cloud (after chilli and garlic), and that I would do a great many things to spend an afternoon eating a large bowl of clotted cream garnished with raspberries, I do have a slight problem with milk products.

Clearly, I am of the opinion that a slice of really good cake is worth any slight potential inconvenience it causes. But what it does mean is that I get rather grouchy when I eat bad cake, or bad ice cream, or those weird plastic cheeses. Wasting the lactose quota for the day, you know?

Pre-creamy cashews. I wouldn't have believed it worked until I tried See it looks a little like cream..ish

I never used to be this way. If not for this little issue, I’d probably balloon up to the size of a small walrus in a few weeks. Because I do love my cheese and chocolate.

I blame my university in the Netherlands for feeding me cheese sandwiches at breakfast and lunch almost every single day for 3 years. Perhaps my body went on strike after that? I’m still not especially keen on sandwiches. My feelings towards cheese have, however, not been affected in the slightest.

The consequence of all this is that you probably shouldn’t expect to find me extolling the virtues of the “best carbonara¬†sauce¬†I ever made”.

Didn't chop carefully, was tired Getting a little hot and steamy Mushrooms and cashew sand

I understand that prior to providing pictures of a nice, creamy, brown mushroom soup may not be the best moment in time to discuss lactose intolerance.

Mushroom slurry

So, why cream of mushroom soup? Um, I like it. And sometimes I miss Soup Spoon. No, this isn’t even similar to the Soup Spoon recipe at all, I just felt like having cream of mushroom.

And then, the opportune moment arrived – I was staying with BigFoot in Melbourne for the week, and both of us were sick. I was slightly healthier than he was by soup day, having had the worst of my flu a few days prior. Hence, I got to decide what we ate while he spent time accidentally taking very drowsy medication that knocks you out. He was up and about after a few hours, though I don’t think anyone else would have wanted to share the dinner we made. *cough hack sneeze*

Egg salad! Ugh The other side is burnt...that I didn't show you

Is it sad that I need the excuse that both of us were sick before having soup for dinner? I think it is. I don’t know why I have such an attachment to square meals at dinnertime. ¬†It must be the auntie lurking within.

I also think it’s kinda bad that I was excited about being sick because of the excuse to have soup and garlic bread for dinner.

Don't float the bread like this, we burnt our fingers. So much for attempts at fancy plating.

Anyway, vegan soup – because I didn’t need more problems in addition to flu. But I do think I will continue making cashew soup instead of using cream. I always end up with leftover cream in the fridge, and I never know what to do with it because it isn’t advisable for me to whip up the entire packet in one go and spend the afternoon eating whipped cream with a spoon.

Cashew Cream of Mushroom Soup, and Cheesy Garlicky Bread

Inspired by the recipes of Vegan Sparkles and Joy the Baker, though I’m not sure how close their method is to ours – I pretty much just glanced at their recipes for seasoning, before we went off and did our own thing in a congested stupor.

Cashew Cream of Mushroom Soup

2/3 rice cup unsalted cashews – yea, sorry I couldn’t find my usual measuring cup
2/3 rice cup hot water – as above… I don’t think it’s an exact science though
200g pre-sliced white mushrooms – I was sick, don’t judge. I usually don’t buy pre-sliced
200g large brown mushrooms – 3/4 roughly chopped smaller, 1/4 chunked large
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablesp soya sauce
A few shakes of italian herb mixture
1 cube of vegetable stock
Black pepper to taste
2-3 more serving size bowls of water – like a cereal bowl size

  1. Dump the cashews in the hot water and leave them to sit for a bit.
  2. Throw the peeled garlic and onion in the chopper, and roughly chop.
  3. Heat up a big pot with a little oil. Add the garlic and onion and let them sizzle until they smell great (if you can smell). If you can’t smell, keep going until they are soft and a little charred on some edges. Heat should be on medium.
  4. Chuck in the white mushrooms and the browm mushrooms that you roughly chopped smaller. Keep the large chunks back.
  5. Pour in the soya sauce and a few shakes of herbs. Don’t worry, you can always add more later. Stir stir until all is cooked. Use medium heat, don’t burn the bottom of the pot.
  6. The cashews should have softened a bit by now. Put everything in the chopper and chop it well. I only chopped until the texture of large sand grains (note that I have a chopper not a blender).
  7. Once the mushrooms are cooked, dump in the cashew water mix. Combine everything in the pot.
  8. Then take everything out of the pot and chop it in the chopper until it goes smooth.  Pour it back in the pot over medium heat.
  9. Now you can add in the extra water. I added 3 cereal bowls full, and it was a little too much. I think 2.5 bowls would have been enough.
  10. Once the water is mixed in with the mushroom paste, crumble in the stock cube and make sure it dissolves. This is when you throw in the large mushroom chunks too.
  11. Add some black pepper. It should be done soonish, as soon as the large mushroom chunks are done. Just keep seasoning until you like it, and you can boil down to make it thicker if you want.

Cheesy Garlicky Bread

6 cloves garlic
4 tablesp butter, softened
Some cheese – it’s up to you what you use, we used the equivalent of about 4 tablesp of maarsdam (that was what was on sale in the supermarket)
2  short, slightly crusty bread rolls

Oven temperature: set it to grill

  1. Chop the garlic roughly in the chopper.
  2. Add the butter to the chopper and then pulse the chopper again.
  3. Dump in the cheese in the chopper and pulse a couple more times. The final mixture looks like egg salad, kinda gross in my opinion but whatever.
  4. Cut the bread rolls into slices.
  5. Spread the buttery, garlicky, cheesy spread on to the slices and reassemble into a  bread-roll shape.
  6. Wrap the rolls in silver foil and stick them in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes, or when you can smell tasty roasting garlic. After that, check and see if they’re done. Ours were slightly burnt because we didn’t check until 20 minutes (we couldn’t smell the garlic…)

The Egg Series: Cheese on Toast

I know what you’re thinking, cheese on toast. Where’s the egg?

Let me tell you something. I don’t like egg.

Before you run for your torch and pitchfork, I’d like to clarify – I don’t like egg that looks like egg.

See, that made it clearer didn’t it?

What that means is that I don’t like boiled, fried, and poached eggs. They look like egg! White on the outside, yolk on the inside. It isn’t psychological, I swear. It’s something to do with the smell. And taste. That’s basically everything I suppose. I’ve never liked eggs that look like eggs.

I like the idea of eggs, if that makes sense. Farm fresh eggs from a corn-fed hen. With a beautiful sunny yolk and a speckled brown shell. See, I’m hungry already. But put a boiled egg in front of me and there will be consequences.

Eggs that I do enjoy: eggs in cake, meringue, omelette, chawanmushi, eggs in french toast, eggs in fried rice, eggs in clear soup…and so on.

What happened to me was a classic case of egg-envy, after which I thought about it and realised I didn’t like egg, and then made something tangentially egg-related. I found out that Bel was starting an Egg Series, and of course I wanted in on the action.

Her response: You don’t like eggs though…???

Well that’s true. I don’t like eggs. But I like cheese, and I like onions, and I like toast. And I like the gooey, cheesy mess that spills out when you cut into a slice of this. A gooey, cheesy, pungent mess that would not be possible without adding an egg or two.

And now I’ve made myself hungry again.

Cheese on Toast (You can call it eggy-cheese or cheesy-egg so that it fits into the Egg Series)

Taught to me by…. my Mum. Hello Mum! *waves*

2 slices of bread – I had small slices so I used 3, whole grain
2 eggs
1/2 to 2/3 cup of sharp cheddar, grated – if you’re greedy like me you can use more. If you prefer a more eggy flavour, stick closer to the half cup. Any other cheese should work too, it’ll just change the flavour a bit
1/4 of a red onion, chopped
Butter
Black pepper

Cherry tomatoes – these are just for you to eat so you can pretend that you’re having a healthy lunch. Though I guess in the grand scheme of things, cheese on toast isn’t too bad.
Branston Pickle – I like pickle with my cheddar, you should try it, it’s nice.

You can spice it up by adding any number of ingredients. I sometimes add a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard when I’m feeling posh, or chilli powder if I want something spicy. Mushrooms would probably be nice too.

  1.  Butter the bread. Put it in the oven to toast for about 5 minutes. I butter my bread before toasting it in the oven, because I like to think it makes the bread crispier.
  2. In the meantime, mix together the egg, cheese, onion, and black pepper. Insert any extra fillings here.
  3. Eat some cherry tomatoes and think about how balanced your meal is now that you’ve done so.
  4. Remove the toast from the oven, and spoon the cheese-egg mixture on top of it.
  5. Put the cheese on toast back in the oven. It’s good to go when the shine just leaves the top of the cheese-egg mixture. This took me 8 minutes.

A note on oven settings: I have an oven with a convection + grill setting, so I used that at 200 degrees C. Anything with a heating element will work though! (oven, grill, barbeque….)

On hindsight, maybe I should retire from the egg series. This recipe doesn’t seem very egg-related at all, or rather, it is as egg-related as a slice of cake is to egg, or as ice cream (which has egg yolks in it) is to egg. Ah, well.

Lazy French Toast

I’m a lazy person sometimes. By this I don’t mean the lazy where you stay in your pajamas all day and watch movies (though that can be fun too), I mean the lazy in which you find the easiest way possible to get the thing you want. And today I wanted french toast for lunch.

Of course french toast is a lunch food. It’s got egg, which is¬†protein, bread ¬†which is the carby part, and raisins which make up part of your daily dose of vege. The three basic food groups, yay it must be healthy! It’s also a teatime food, a dinner food, and a midnight snack food.

It’s also a pain as I don’t really like standing over the stove sweating away, especially just after getting up in the morning.

But, I decided, today is going to be a french toast day. Yesterday was meant to be a french toast day but the Tahiti Crepe was too much of a temptation to resist (strawberry compote + strawberry coulis + creme chantilly = amazing). This left me thinking of french toast late last night and thinking of food late at night, especially when you don’t have any, is a bad idea. I’m really not an obsessive person.

Lazy French Toast

Stolen and edited from Smitten Kitchen. But I didn’t invite anyone over, I just ate it all myself.

Bread – 4 slices. Any bread should be alright.
Eggs – 2
Milk – a bit more than a cup
Cinnamon
Raisins
Honey

  1. Beat your eggs, add milk. The mixture should be a bit milky, and not too thick. Dump in cinnamon to taste (as you can see, I like cinnamon).
     
  2. Layer your bread into an oven-proof dish, put raisins between the layers. I think chocolate chips, fresh fruit, or any other random snack would have been nice too.
  3. Pour the egg on to the bread, and leave it in the fridge for about an hour to soak in.
  4. Put the bowl into the oven for about 15 minutes at 220 degrees C. If you are extra lazy like me and don’t want to wait for the oven to heat up, put it in a toaster oven for about 15 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn!
  5. Add honey and eat it by yourself in bed watching a movie. I did say it was lazy french toast.