Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sunday is always about pancakes (and maybe on other days too!). Surprisingly it's really hard to find a restaurant or coffee place that serves decent pancakes in Hong Kong, so here we are again.

I have tried a lot of different recipes and have came to a conclusion that if you want heavenly and fluffy pancakes, you can't cheat with baking powder or baking soda. The key is whisking the egg whites separately.

I adapted this recipe from taste.fourseasons.com, they feature recipes ideas of gourmet chefs from the Four Seasons kitchens all over the world. This particular recipe is created by John Johnson, the executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel New York.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
serves 4

Ingredients -

6               Eggs
375 g        Ricotta cheese
110 g        Melted butter, cooled
65 g          All-purpose flour
30 g          Sugar
1/2 tsp.     Salt
2 tbsp.      Grated lemon zest
                 Butter, for griddle or pan

1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
2. In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, ricotta cheese and melted butter.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Slowly add to the ricotta mixture.
4. In another bowl, whip the egg whites until they form firm peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter, until just combined.
5. Over medium heat, lightly butter a griddle or non-stick pan. Ladle in a spoonful of batter (I use 1/4 cup for each batter) to form small hot cakes and cook until golden brown on both sides.

* Making pancakes can be very frustrating, especially when you don't have a big pan and need to make one pancake at a time serving 5 - 6 people. I always turn my oven on to 60℃ and keep the cooked pancakes warm. Use a piece of foil to cover the pancakes to retain moisture. And do not try to rush through the cooking time by turning up to high heat, you will just end up getting burnt pancakes!

Striped Cloud Cookies Tutorial

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I have been trying to search for the perfect cloud-shaped cookie cutter for a very long time. The metal or stainless steel ones I found in local bakery stores or even online cookie cutter specialists just somehow seemed a bit off to me. In the end I gave up the search and went for a plastic one made from a 3D printer.

These plastic cutters might not be as durable or as easy to cut as the conventional cutters we have at home, but at least we can have the exact shape that we have been looking for! I got mine from The Cookie Lady on Etsy.

Striped Cloud Cookie
- cookie dough (try the recipe from the kitchn)
- egg white for brushing
- food colouring gel (I used turquoise Americolor Soft Gel Paste Food Colour)
- long cake knife
- rolling pin & mat
- baking paper & tray
- cloud cookie cutter (available on Etsy)

1. Separate your cookie dough into two doughs, add food colouring gel to one of the dough until you get your desired colour.
2. Roll out both doughs to the same thickness. Lay flat and put in the freezer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the dough becomes hard.
3. Line baking paper in the tray. Preheat oven according to recipe.
4. With the cake knife, carefully cut rolled dough into strips that are approximately the same width.
5. Alternating the colours each time, line strips up and brush the side with a bit of egg white to stick the strips together.
6. Lightly roll on top of the striped dough to make sure the strips are stuck together and the heights are even. This is a very important step, if the strips are not stuck together properly, they will fall apart after you baked it.
7. With the cloud cutter, cut out cloud-shaped cookie and lay them evenly inside the tray. You can add custom messages with a cookie stamp.
8. Put the tray of cut-out cookies into the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes or until firm. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or according to recipe.

* The Cookie dough will start to become soft after 5 - 10 minutes out of the freezer, depending on your ambient temperature. Put your dough back into the freezer for 5 - 10 minutes whenever it starts to feel too soft before returning to where you left off.

* I have some little dots on my cookie in the top photo because I replaced granulated sugar with brown sugar in my recipe. Stick with granulated sugar or icing sugar and you will have a flawless cookie!

Fettuccine with Beef Ragù

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ever since we tried the Tagliardi with Veal Ragù at The Restaurant at Mr. C in Los Angeles, my Mr. C kept making requests of a remake for dinner. The menu of The Restaurant at Mr. C is inspired by Cipriani, so I started searching for a recipe that is also inspired by the renowned Italian restaurant.

The results didn't look exactly like what I was hoping for but the taste is surprisingly similar and the sauce was rich and meaty. As I had no experience in cooking the traditional Ragù sauce at all, this was actually quite a good practice and would definitely try different recipes again. Do let me know if you have any recommendations or advise!

Fettuccine with Beef Ragù
serves 2 - 3 

60g              Pancetta
1                  Celery Stick, finely chopped
1                  Carrot, finely chopped
1                  Onion, finely chopped
60g + 60g    Butter
4 tbsp.          Extra-virgin Olive Oil
250g            Ground Beef
250g            Ground Pork
1 cup           Dry Red Wine
1/2 cup        Tomato Puree
2 cups          Beef Broth (if neccessary, add when the sauce are too dry)
2 tbsp.         Milk
140g            Parmesan Cheese, grated
                    Fresh Fettuccine (from Il Mattarello)

1. Place 60g butter and olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. When the butter starts foaming add the chopped celery, carrot, onion and pancetta. Sauté until onion becomes soft and translucent.
2. Add ground beef and pork and cook until meat is browned. Stir and break the meat in small bits with wooden spoon.
3. Add wine, turn heat up to medium high and let the wine evaporate.
4. Add tomato puree and turn down the heat to a very slow simmer.
5. Let the sauce cook very slowly for at least 3 hours. Add a small quantity of stock each time when the sauce thickens too much.
6. Stir in milk and butter just before removing the saucepan from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Cook pasta until al dente, drain thoroughly in a colander.
8. Toss pasta together with the sauce and top with parmesan to serve.

Recipe adapted from Italian Master Chef // Homemade fresh Fettuccine by Il Mattarello

Banana Cake with Sour Cream Glaze for Mother's Day

Thursday, May 7, 2015

As a person who hates eating banana, this is the only banana thing that I do not only tolerate, but LOVE. So I promise you - it's really good!

This Banana Cake recipe goes way back to high school, made my first batch during Food Technology class and has been in love ever since. My friends and I make this almost every week at the boarding house, the heavenly smell travels down the corridor and the whole pan of cake would be demolished within an hour.

The cake is very moist and not too sweet, making it an healthy afternoon tea or dessert substitute. I've always had the cake by itself without any glaze or cream, but I tried using glaze this time to cover the cracks on top. I chose to use a sour cream glaze because I want to keep the not-so-sweet goodness in this cake and I'm very happy with the results!

Banana Cake with Sour Cream Glaze Recipe
make a 9" cake

Banana Cake
75g         Butter, softened
100g       Caster Sugar
2             Eggs
150g       Plain Flour
1.5 tsp.   Baking Powder
75ml       Milk
3             Bananas, mashed

* A normal baking pan will do, I only used a chiffon cake pan as its the only 9" pan I have on hand.
* Skip the glaze if you're not a big fan of the sweetness, the banana cake itself is heavenly!

1. Preheat oven to 180℃. 
2. Beat butter and sugar until pale. Slowly add the eggs.
3. Sift flour and baking powder together.
4. Fold in half the flour, then half the milk. Fold in the remaining flour and mile until combined. Fold in mashed bananas.
5. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. (The mashed banana might sometimes be mistaken as "cake not ready yet", try to stick in the skewer again at a different area to double check.)

Sour Cream Glaze
3/4 cup           Icing Sugar
3 tbsp.            Sour Cream
1/4 tsp.          Vanilla Essence
1/4 tsp.           Milk

1. Stir sour cream and icing sugar over low heat until almost smooth.
2. Remove from heat, add vanilla and milk. Stir until combined.

Recipe adapted from Cooks.com

- Banana Cake
- Sour Cream Glaze
- Cooling rack
- Tray (to be placed underneath the cooling rack)
- Measuring Jar (optional)

1. Place the banana cake on the cooling rack with a clean tray underneath.
2. Pour glaze over the cake and let it stand for a few minutes until the glaze starts to set.
3. Scrape up any glaze dripped into the tray and pour it back over the cake if necessary.
4. Transfer the cake onto a plate or cake stand once it starts to set. Put toppers on and voilà!

* It always feel easier for me to pour glaze out of a measuring jar so I can control precisely how drippy or where will the glaze be.
* The cooler the glaze is, the less runny it will be. If you want the glaze to only cover half the cake like I did in the photos above and below, wait a few minutes until the glaze becomes cooler and thicker before pouring.
* If your glaze is a bit too thick or not going where you want it to be, use your spatula to help spread it or cover it before the glaze starts to set.

Five Easter Egg DIYs

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Here's a round up of some gorgeous Easter egg DIYs.

one   //   two   //   three   //   four   //   five

Four more days till Easter and one more day till the super long weekend! Yay!

Unicorn Cookies Tutorial

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Unicorn Cookies

Sugar Cookies
- Rolled out Cookie Dough
- Unicorn Cookie Cutter (Available in our shop)

* You can check my previous post for recipes and tips on making sugar cookies.

- Stiff Consistency Royal Icing in Dark Brown, Pastel Yellow, Pastel Blue, Pastel Pink and other colours you want for the hair and tail
- Flood Consistency Royal Icing in Pastel Yellow and White

* Sweetopia has a really good royal icing recipe with illustrations!

1. Start out by piping the outline of the unicorn with white icing.
2. Fill the head and body with white flood consistency icing.
3. Pipe the outline of the horn with pastel yellow stiff consistency icing.
4. Fill the horn with pastel yellow flood consistency icing.
5. Pipe the tail with pink stiff consistency icing.
6. Pipe the hair with pink stiff consistency icing.
7. Draw the horseshoe with pink stiff consistency icing
8. Draw the eye and nose with dark brown stiff consistency icing.

* Customise each unicorn with different hair colour combinations and accessories, I love the ones with the little heart!

I couldn't resist making a version of Agnes' unicorn in Despicable Me, 'It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!'

Be Mine Bear Cookies for Valentine's Day

Monday, February 9, 2015

I have always had a weak spot for bears and ever since I came across these cute nut-hugging bears on pinterest, I just need to make my version of hugging bear cookies. So perfect for Valentine's Day!

Heart-hugging Bear Cookies

Sugar Cookies:
you'll need
- Cookie Dough (I use the sugar cookie recipe from Playground's cookie decorating class. But any cookie recipe without baking powder will do)
- Rolling Pin & Mat
- Baking Paper & Tray
- Bear Cookie Cutter (Available in our Shop )
- Tiny Heart Cookie Cutter (Available in our Shop )

1. Line baking paper in the tray. Preheat oven according to recipe.
2. On a non-stick mat, roll out your cold cookie dough. With the bear cookie cutter, cut out bear-shaped cookies and lay them evenly inside the tray.
3. Cut out heart-shaped cookies with the tiny heart cutter, carefully place a heart cookie on top of each bear cookie. Repeat until each bear has a heart on top.
4. The cut-out cookies should start to feel softer now. Gently bend the arms of the bear and wrap around the heart cookie. Press down gently to make sure the hands and heart are stuck together. (If the cut-out cookies are still firm and cold, wait for a few more minutes before you begin this process) If the "armpit" has minor cracks, get a pinch of soft cookie dough to fill the crack.
5. Put the tray of cut-out cookies into the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes or until firm.
6. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or according to recipe. Remember to leave the cookies inside the oven for a few extra minutes to make sure the tiny heart is also cooked.

you'll need
- Stiff Consistency Royal Icing in Brown, Black and Pale Yellow
- Flood Consistency Royal Icing in Brown and Pale Yellow
- Red Gel Paste Food Colouring and Brush, or Red Edible Ink Marker

* If you are new to cookie decorating, Stephanie from Joy of Baking has a video recipe on her site.
* I always turn on the fan in the oven to speed up the drying time of the royal icing in between coffee breaks. Remember though, FAN ONLY, not heat!

1. Start out by piping the outline of the bear with brown stiff consistency icing.
2. Fill the head and body with brown flood consistency icing.
3. Pipe the outline of the heart with yellow stiff consistency icing, avoiding where the hands are overlapped.
4. Fill the heart with yellow flood consistency icing.
5. Fill the ears with brown flood consistency icing.
6. Outline the hands with brown stiff consistency icing.
7. Fill the hands with brown flood consistency icing. Pay attention to the amount you add here, make sure the royal icing don't drip down.
8. Draw the eyes and nose with black stiff consistency icing.
9. Write your message on the dried icing heart with gel colouring or edible ink marker.


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