Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Avengers Birthday Cake!

I have always been a soft-core, Marvel fan and since watching The Avengers by Marvel, you might say it has become an obsession. On my quest to have everyone I know become obsessed with the Avengers, I bought tickets for my mom, dad, brother, and myself to watch the movie in 3D.
Carrying my obsession over to the culinary arts, I made a cake for my brother's birthday featuring the heroic group.
The cake is an Asian styled cake, layered with vanilla chiffon, pandan agar and a taro filling. The entire cake is covered in whipped cream then drawn on with homemade piping gel.
Homemade piping gel is so worth it to make because you get exactly the color you'd like and you can flavor it with whatever essence you'd like. The only downside is using it after it has been stored; the gel congeals and when you try to break it up, it becomes lumpy and is very hard to pipe. One of my foodie cousins helped me smooth out the gel so that I could pipe it out; it was a painstaking process and I would have lost my head if she didn't help me.
I had found a photo online that I modified and used as a template. The piping gel transfer did not work very well for me but it did enough for me to retrace the picture. After that it was just a matter of precision and patience. Since smaller details were very hard to pipe on, I omitted the eyes and some minor lines.
I was nervous of the outcome but near the end I was quite proud of my accomplishment. And not only that, the cake was a hit amongst the guests and Tommy really liked it. Success!

Homemade Piping Gel  (about 1/2 cup)*

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch (cornflour)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Gel Food Coloring of choice (opt)
Whisk sugar and cornstarch (cornflour) in a small saucepan.
Gradually add juice and then the water. Make sure there are no lumps.
Stir over medium/high heat until mixture boils and thickens.
Color as desired.
Will last about a month or so in the ‘fridge but will need to be at room temperature or reheated until smooth.

For the opaque white gel, I used 2 tbsp skim milk and omitted the lemon juice (cause it will curdle the milk). I also added a pinch of white vanilla powder for flavor.

I doubled the recipe for the primary colors, which was WAAYY too much. I have left over gel...what to bake next?



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cream of Broccoli Soup

While I made the Rabbit and Mung Bean Congee for the family, I quickly made a creamy and vibrant broccoli soup for myself, using a recipe I adapted from Gordon Ramsay but turning it into a cream-of soup. So good. I flippin love Broccoli.


Rabbit and Mung Bean Congee (Viet Dish)

Before I was a vegetarian, approx. three years ago, I was in Vietnam one summer and my cousin and I dropped by a local congee/rice porridge street vendor and ordered some rabbit and mung bean congee. Since I had been a fan of gamey meats, the rabbit was right up my alley. The restaurant served piping hot congee topped with mung beans, minced rabbit meat, scallions and a vegetable that I cannot find here nor know what it is called. It is similar taro stems, an ingredient used to make the delicious Vietnamese Spicy and Sour Soup. Since I did not have that particular ingredient, I omitted it in my version of the dish.
The rabbit was purchased at a Chinese supermarket, frozen and creepy looking as heck. Thawed and unpackaged, it looked even worst hahaha! This was my first time ever cooking with rabbit so it was a little nervous but the thing was dead, so whatever hahaha. (God I am a bad vegetarian...)
Instead of mincing the meat like the street vendor did, I chopped the bunny up and seasoned it slightly before adding it to a pot of water to create a Bugs Bunny stock. I had toasted some rice in my conventional oven before adding it to the boiling pot to slowly cook and break down.
Mung beans are amazing and these little green pellets were given as a gift to me on my last trip to Vietnam. Mung beans are so versatile as an ingredient. They are used to make savory and sweet dishes as well as bean sprouts, providing a good source of fiber and protein.  I placed 1 1/2 cup into my slow cooker the night before so that they would be nice and tender the next day. As soon as the rice cooked down and the soup was getting thicker because of the starch, I drained the cooked mung beans and added them to the pot.
Served piping hot with sliced scallions and fresh ground black pepper.

Silly Rabbit...
Mung Beans (photo from the web)


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Grilled Halibut and Lemon-Dill Quinoa has been a VERY long time since I last posted anything on my blog, so my apologies. My schedule was very busy and I never had enough time to cook. I have also been away on a trip to Victoria, BC, visiting my best friend and some pals. Since Victoria is an island on the west coast of Canada, seafood is a must in local cookery. On the day I headed back, I dropped by Fisherman's Wharf and purchased some fresh crab, halibut, and smoked tuna for the flight home. As soon as I got home, I boiled the crab and served it to my family with a salt n' pepper with lime dip, which they LOVED. Mom said that the crab was delicious and coming from someone who does not enjoy crab, that means a lot.
For the halibut, I sliced it up into three portions and marinated it in a soy and sesame mixture. I grilled the slices on a hot griddle. I cooked up some quinoa and tossed it in some lemon juice, olive oil and chopped dill.  I drizzled a sweet soy and red vinegar reduction on the dish before serving it with some local Pinot Gris from the Vancouver Islands. Yummeh! :)