Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter with my own Pandan chiffon cake recipe

Pandan cake recipe below!

I just love chiffon cake and have managed to work out a recipe that has not too many eggs and works well with ingredients you can buy in the UK. Here it is...

Happy Easter!

If you want to avoid cracking, you have to handle it very carefully when you put it upside down to cool. Better still, use a ring cake pan.

I love this cake, it's so soft, like a sponge, so light and the amounts of fat and sugar are not high.

Pandan chiffon cake

3 egg yolks
50 g sugar
75 ml vegetable oil 
70 ml coconut cream (you can make it with dried grated coconut)
100 g cake flour
3/4 tsp of pandan paste 
1.5g salt (optional)
½ tsp of vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder

For the meringue mixture:
3 egg whites
50 g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp of cream of tartar

Heat the oven to 170 C degrees, gas mark 3. 
In a small bowl, mix the baking powder and flour. Set aside.

Make the meringue by beating egg whites and tartar with an electric whisk. Add sugar gradually.

Beat egg yolks, add sugar and continue until they reach a pale yellow colour.

Add coconut cream, oil, vanilla, pandan paste. Combine the flour gradually and stir with a wooden spoon. Fold the meringue into the green mixture carefully.

Put into a greased tall ring cake pan, around 23cm diameter (this is the best shape, as you can see in the picture, if you use another type of cake tin you risk cracking)... Bake for 55 or 60 minutes. 

Place a sheet of foil on the shelf above the cake, a nifty tip I learned online but remove it for the last 10 minutes. When cooked, you need to turn the cake upside down. You can use the neck of a bottle to cool it without ruining its surface (it is rather sticky when warm).

Cool for an hour and the cake will detach neatly from the tin. Use a serrated knife for cutting the cake.

Friday, 14 April 2017

What is success?

I wrote an article on LinkedIn summing up my careers so far (marketing and journalism) as fruit of persistence, willingness to learn new skills and not listening to negative people. It has not been easy as English is not my first language and have encountered discrimination as a woman and foreigner. But one has to soldier on because otherwise you go nowhere...

I have been battling with SAD for a few years, seasonal depression, and keeping busy helped me. I had a horrible year where RSI took away one of my coping mechanisms, gardening. I am back to my old self now and accepting that ageing is happening but I am still a fighter and won't accept ageism in the workplace. I am encountering this in marketing and did encounter it in journalism only aged 37.

I think I am successful, despite the dark moments when I doubt myself or succumb to negative vibes from other people, which are getting rarer because I have learnt the hard way that you must please yourself first - trying to please everyone does not work.

This does not mean being selfish, it's making yourself more secure so you can then help and support others. I still do a good amount of volunteer work and do turn down paid work to continue doing it because I have realised that it makes me happy. So for me success is to have finally achieved a level of financial comfort (not being rich) that allows me to work and volunteer, learn and improve myself.

Learning makes me happy too, so what if I have too many skills in some people's eyes? I enjoy the challenge of mastering something new and if you cannot get it, you are narrow minded and I do not care about your opinions any more. Find another victim to pour your jealousy and bitterness on - and that is very true in the workplace too. If you are miserable, keep it for yourself and don't ruin it for others. I have had enough of being a nice mouse, I might be small but I have teeth.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Homemade pizza, what is not to like?

The last slice of my homemade pizza

Yesterday I invited a vegetarian mum and her little girl, who goes to the same school as my daughter for dinner. They are vegetarian so I thought of making pizza and fritters. The savoury fritters were such a pretty starter with the vine tomatoes in the middle (sorry, I forgot to take a pic as I was busy serving). 

The pizza was very tasty, again, I did not take a photo of the lush platter but here is the leftover slice that is going into a lucky girl's lunchbox tomorrow. I do this pizza a lot because it's also tasty cold and perfect for taking to events, especially those with kids. So below is my recipe for the pizza. I have got a feeling I posted a recipe of the fritters before (rice fritters and spinach fritters), if not I will share the recipe again.

First of all, I have a shocking confession to make, actually two. I use a breadmaker to make the dough and I use cheddar to accompany the mozzarella, sometimes I just do cheddar and blue cheese... the sacrilege of it!

If you do not have a breadmaker, here is the recipe for the dough:

1 cup of water (use a cup or if you like numbers, a cup is 4oz
1 tbsp of melted butter (I actually use extra virgin olive oil... shush...)
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
2 3/4 cups of white bread flour
1 tsp of dried fast action yeast

Mix these in a bowl, knead and let to rise covered with a cloth or oiled clingfilm. I even prepared the day before, stuck it in the fridge and made the pizza the day after.

For the sauce, boil some chopped toms from a tin to let the water evaporate, add 1 or 2 tsp of sugar to get rid of acidity. Yes, shock horror, sugar.

To make the pizza, oil the baking tin (the thinner, the better) the spread the dough to cover its base. With a spoon cover the base with the thickened tomato sauce. Add cheese/s grated or cut into thin slices. Sprinkle some mixed herbs on top. Bake in warmed oven for 20 minutes at gas mark 6, 200C.

Get the pizza out and enjoy! If the cheese is not melted, leave in the oven for a bit longer. Also ensure the base is cooked underneath. A soggy bottom is just yucky!

Friday, 13 January 2017

How to make snow ice cream or granita

Snow ice cream

This recipe, tried and tested back in 2010 when we had massive snow fall, will make four generous cups of ice cream. 

125ml of milk
60g of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups of fluffy snow (preferably not compact if you do not want it slushy like in the pic - a cup is about 4oz)

Mix milk, vanilla and sugar in a bowl or jug, then slowly spoon in the snow, stirring carefully. Enjoy! My photo shows a slushy mixture as the snow I used was a bit compact, but it was tasty. 

In Italy we have a simpler version of snow ice cream, just get the snow in a cup with a metal spoon, add lemon juice and sprinkle with sugar to your taste. It's just like a fluffy, lovely granita from the sky....