Taiyaki (たい焼き)

Finally I got this fishy pan!!  I bought this from Seoul.  During travel, I always like to bring back bake-ware as souvenir for myself.  Not only this is practical and useful, using that tool/utensil bring your back to the trip.  It also brings back fond memory where I have bought that and how I sometime has to guess what certain tool is for  from language that I  don’t understand.

Taiyaki

This is such a basic and simple snack to make!  Including making my own home-made custard filling, it only took 35 minutes to make this yummy “fishy” cake =).

Fishy Pan, simple basic batter and home-made custard filling

Fishy Pan, simple basic batter and home-made custard filling

Here is the Taiyaki Batter from Cooking With Dog – How to Make Taiyaki たい焼きの作り方:

  • 100g Cake Flour (3.53 oz)
  • 2/3 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 1/2 Egg (30g/1.06 oz)
  • 100ml Water (3.38 fl oz)
You just need to mix together the above ingredients (make sure no lumps!).  Then lightly oil the heated pan and pour in batter, add favour filling of your choice (red bean paste is awesome too!). Add more batter on top and cook in medium high heat.  Cook until fish is pretty and golden brown!
Really pretty!  Love'em

Really pretty! Love'em

Highly recommend you check out the following youTube video for detail steps!  Really helpful!
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Sweet Christmas Gift – Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies Platter

So glad that I can make use of the cookies making I’ve learned from Chef Macro from the Pastry Training Centre of Vancouver.

My own Scottish shortbread & gingerbread stars are certainly tasty but can look a bit boring in a huge cookie plate.  By adding cookies with names that I am still learning to pronounce, all of a sudden the whole cookie plate looks a lot more interesting.   The top snow white cookies with silver balls decoration is Pfeffernüsse.  The shell like cookies next to Pfeffernüsse are Spekulatius.  There is my personal favourite: Elisenlebkuchen  (but I am still hopeless in saying that German name correctly =P).  At the centre is my own creation of rolling Scottish shortbread little balls into match (green tea) powder and icing sugar.  There is also very neat looking checker-board cookies.  I even created those four tiny swirl pattern cookies with side trimming (did not waste a bit).  That is a pretty impressive collection eh?

The following is gift set of six different kind of cookies:

  • peppermint candy cane biscotti with chocolate drizzle
  • Vanille Kipferl (yes more German name, you know the theme of my baking course ;-)
  • marble cookies
  • “BMW” style checker-board cookies
  • Pfeffernüsse
  • Spekulatius

Cookies Gift Set

Finally as fun activity for my good friends’ kids. I made a stack of “Winnie the Pooh” gingerbread cookies for the little ones to decorate. I had a blast decorating with them. They probably enjoyed the 6 bowls of different type of candies lay out for decoration more than the actual decorating part. That is just the greatest Christmas memory that I will always cherish.
Making of Winnie the Pooh Gingerbread Cookies

Instead of buying a gift card or another electronic gadgets for your friends, consider making them a batch of home made cookies. It is a lot of fun making and consuming =)

Late Fall Apple & Cranberry Pie

Apple Pie

Made the crust with Crisco classic pie crust recipe a couple weeks ago and it has been sitting inside the fridge waiting for the right filling.  Finally I saw really a large bag of local BC Spartan appples and I knew I have found the perfect filling.  The apples were small (only 2 inches tall).  it was a lot of work to peel and cut the apples but it all worth every single minutes peeling & cutting!

Started with rolling out half of the double crust recipe for bottom of 9″ glass pie dish (which is a cheap *must have* bake ware!)

Bottom of pie crust

Bottom of pie crust

6 cups of apple peel and sliced.  I also added a bit of lemon zest (for added fresh favour) and juice from one lemon to prevent the apple from browning.   I have also added 1/2 cup of dried sweeten cranberries into the apple to naturally sweeten the pie filling without adding more sugar.

Prepare 6 cups of apples

Prepare 6 cups of apples

In a small mixing bowl, add 1/4 cup of all purpose flour, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.  Mix until everything is all blended and no more lump of brown sugar

Thickening sugar/flour mixture for apple filling

Thickening sugar/flour mixture for apple filling

Mix flour mixture with apple + cranberries and the filling is DONE!  Cannot get any  simpler than this eh!

Fillings ready

Filling ready

Cover the top with remaining pie crust – do remember to roll out the top crust a bit larger than bottom. Since the filling is pretty high, you need large to to fully cover.  I did very very basic side trimming so it looks a little interesting.  But after baking, the side trimming pattern did not show =P

Covered top crust with slightly decorate the edge

Covered top crust with slightly decorate the edge

Brushed with 1 teaspoon of melted butter and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of sugar on top.  This ensure the top of crust will brown nicely.   Covered the edge with foil to avoid over-baking the side.

Ready for baking!

Ready for baking!

The World of Cookies

This past few weeks have been very busy at work.  Hence no blog post update for a month.   I am so glad that even in a very busy week, I could make time (by getting up before 7am and going to bed after 4am) to take my 3rd baking course “The World of Cookies” from chef Marco’s Pastry Training Centre of Vancouver.  I have learned so much and this is definitely the most fun course so far!

You probably make thing anyone can make cookies why bother taking a course.  But the cookies covered is not just the ordinary cookies.  Making them feel like making “dim sum” of pastry.  Small piece of wonder that requires lots of different technique if you want to present a collection of display that can “wow” people.

Base on the following ingredients, can you guess what kind of cookies we are trying to make?

ingredients of the first cookies - chocolate chips cookies (chef macro way)

ingredients of the first cookies - chocolate chips cookies (chef macro way)

We started with the American classic chocolate chips cookies but this is made with real chocolate instead of  never melt during baking chocolate chips.  The resulting cookies have rich caramelized taste with wonderful melt in your mouth chocolate felt.   It is also really nice to learn recipe that can make by hand without bring out kitchen aids.  It is petty nice upper body workout ;-)

Already looking very impressive and colour with only portion of the cookies display

start arranging cookies for display

start arranging cookies for display

Beautiful eisenbahner & linzer (aka hazelnut cookies).  Eisenbahner is the main reason why I take this course and I loved it.  The look and taste is amazing and sophisticated that you simply cannot buy it from regular bakery.

Eisenbahner &; linzer cookies

Eisenbahner & linzer cookies

Learned a couple cookies I have never heard of before: Fianacier  & Florentine .  I really like Florentine (the following pictures) because it so rich yet well balanced with a rather delicate sweat paste bottom.  It was such a smart combo that is rich but not unbearably sweet like most  regular cut square cookies

Florentine

Florentine

Really enjoy this course and I am going back to for more.  Signed up Christmas cookies.  Looking forward to learning making more interesting little wonders of pastry world – cookies :-)

Chocolate Chips Cookies

Browsing my list of recipe and find I actually never post the most basic cookie recipe.  This is because I never come across a recipe that I really like the result until I found this from very interesting post about “A Day in the Life of an Intern-Making the Perfect Chocolate Chips Cookie“.  It is so neat to have peak into such a “sweet” intern job.

Here is the ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of butter (I used unsalted butter, so I added in 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the recipe)
  • 1 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 cup of chocolate chips ( I used 1 cup of chocolate chips + 1 cup of  chocolate fudge chips)
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda together and set aside.
With stand mixer, using paddle attachment in medium speed, cream butter with sugar & brown sugar until fluffy and light.  Then in measurement cup, lightly beat the eggs & vanilla and gradually pour in the egg mixture to sugar butter mixture.
Preheat oven to 375F.  Then take mixing bowl out and use hand and spatula to mix the flour into batter. I find hand mixing flour result in more tender cookie and you have less flour flying in your kitchen ;-)
Scope out the cookie with ice-cream disher on parchment paper (or silicon baking sheet) lined cookie sheet.  The cookie will grow!!  So remember to leave a lot of space in between.
Baking 8 Cookies per Sheet

Baking 8 Cookies per Sheet

Look closer, notice I have split the perfect round scope of cookie dough a half and reattached together.  This result in a slightly rough edge (more natural) look.  The cookie can spread more evenly with this slight alternation!  Only take a few more minute but make a huge difference.  Highly recommend this method.
Split and Reattached Cookie Dough

Split and Reattached Cookie Dough

Bake for 10 to 11 minutes until beautifully golden brown.

Done Baking after 10 to 11 minutes

Done Baking!

I am very happy with the result of the cookie.  I like using both baking powder and baking soda for a slightly more puffy cookie.  Using just baking soda will result in much flatter and crispier cookie which not the way I like it.  I will definitely make this recipe again but I need to  find a way to reduce sugar without affecting resulting texture.  2 1/2 cup of sugar + brown sugar is indeed too much.   Too sweet for my taste.

iBrot #6 Middle Eastern Manakeesh Bil Za’atar (minus Za’atar spice)

 Middle Eastern flat bread - with a LOT of sesame

Middle Eastern flat bread - with a LOT of sesame

Much improved pressed down pattern. I had to press the bread 2 times to get this effect. This is pretty easy dough to knead and don’t need any egg. Maybe I can finally make vegan bread ;-)

Very basic ingredients for  Middle Eastern flat bread

Very basic ingredients for Middle Eastern flat bread

I used multi grain flour thinking it may work better with sesame. Actually I keep it just basic white flour would have shown the subtle sesame favour a lot more. But at least this is a “healthier” version. I have I have too on too much EVOO on the parsley & thyme topping.

EVOO, parsley and thyme topping on  Middle Eastern flat bread

EVOO, parsley and thyme topping on Middle Eastern flat bread

Done baking. A bit disappointed the neat pattern I have spent so much time to create is not really showing.

 Middle Eastern Manakeesh Bil Za’atar (minus Za'atar)

Middle Eastern Manakeesh Bil Za’atar (minus Za'atar)

My most favourite shot. The neat quilted look.

Lovely quilted bread look

Lovely quilted bread look

India Trip Planning Site Update Progress

I am pretty happy with progress so far after three weeks setting up my wordpress.org site in my home server.  I need something interesting to motivate myself to get more prepared with my up coming to to Indian & Nepal by the end of year.

Here is the site: http://india2011.aleung.ca


v0.1 – 2011-08-07: initial draft – installed apache, MySQL, PHP and wordpress.org.  wordpess.org installation is indeed very simple.  There was a little problem setting the redirect public link to work properly but I could easily find the answer from quick google searches.

v0.1 - initial draft

v0.1 - initial draft


v0.2 – 2011-08-14: added expense tracker after I get my first big trip related credit card monthly statement. Really need to track this expense closely to make sure I don’t easily go over budget. The way I do is pretty simple and fun. I am a simple Google spreadsheet to keep track of the spending and show the data visually using Google visualization to compare latest spending with my budget expense range with very easy to read gauge. The bar char on the side is nice and quick way to see the breakdown.

v0.2 - Expense Tracker  created with Google Visualization

v0.2 - Expense Tracker created with Google Visualization


v0.3 – 2011-08-21: added preparation page, shared button and count down widget. Finally made myself read through pages of preparation written in Chinese.  After understanding those and  research a bit, I put together a page that I don’t mind to read in detail

v0.3 - added preparation, count down & share buttons

v0.3 - added preparation, count down & share buttons


The feature I love the most has to be  the header pictures from 2008 Nepal trip!

First Day of Baby Trekking in Annapurna Region

First Day of Baby Trekking in Annapurna Region

Fish Tail mountain (Macchapucchre)

Fish Tail mountain (Macchapucchre)

Rice Paddy Field

Rice Paddy Field

Soft Trekker Buddies

Soft Trekker Buddies

Soft Trekker Breakfast with Most Amazing View

Soft Trekker Breakfast with Most Amazing View