Sunday, 2 December 2012

How avoid mash mellows sticking to your cutlery

Posted by Kim Fong On 10:50

Do you find when you're cutting (either with scissors or a knife) into mash-mellows they leave this sticky mess on your knife or scissors? Even if you stick a fork into it, you know you're not getting your fork back clean. When sticking them on skewers and toasting them over the fire - you're hoping it melts off before you have to clean it off with your teeth.

Well relax! I've found the best way to avoid this is to dip or spray the knife/ scissors/ fork/ skewer with cooking oil (vegetable, canola, olive etc.)  before prodding these sweet squishy dumplings of sugar. Don't mess with icing sugar or hot water - just oil!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Keeping your egg white peaks stiff

Posted by Kim Fong On 11:39

whipping-egg-whitesThis could bring misguided traffic to this site… oh well! Quick tip to keep your egg white peaks stiff.
After whipping your egg whites to form various peak levels (soft to stiff), you may find they don’t always stay that way. Especially if you are a slow worker, like me sometimes. Tip from my Mum, add a pinch of salt while you’re whipping the eggs.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Cutting cake into layers

Posted by Kim Fong On 12:50

I learnt a really neat trick to cut a cake into layers. I typically would use a knife and struggle with the wonkiness. After googling for a little while, I found a lot of tips to cut cakes into two layers, again with a knife. 

I came across this site that was brilliant! I did this for my black forest cake and it worked a charm! Especially with having to split the cake into 3 pieces. Below my pictorial instructions.

Using fishing line or scentless dental floss, line up along the top of the toothpicks and pull through slowly.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Regrowing Shallots

Posted by Kim Fong On 16:34

This started off as an experiment that proved fruitful indeed. 

Hypothesis: Can you regrow shallots in a jar with water. 

Background: My parents, grandma and Uncles have always talked about regrowing various herbs and plants where the original produce came from the supermarket. These included such items coriander, parsley, spring onions, chilli, garlic etc. I was a bit sceptical but then, I see 

Setup: Stubs of shallots cut a few inches from the roots. Place standing in a glass of water filled just above the roots. Sit on the window sill that gets sunlight.

Maintenance: Regularly change the water to freshen it up.  

Result: Free shallots! 



After - Strong stems

After - Still room to grow

Monday, 20 February 2012

Disposable piping bag

Posted by Kim Fong On 22:29

For so long I've avoided recipes that require piping. First you need to buy the piping bag, then the added attachments, oh then there's the cleaning and the storage of the little bits and pieces. Too hard! I know, I know you can buy disposable ones at the supermarket. Again, too hard. 

What I've always done is use a sandwich bag, put the icing in, push it to one corner and snipe that corner. Pretty sweet! But ... with heavier icing and frosting, the plastic stretches out of shape and its just harder to pipe with. It needs more rigidity. 

After watching a few cooking shows on TV, I noticed piping bags made from baking paper. So I googled how to make one. Its pretty easy and does the trick! From now on - baking paper piping bag all the time!

Basically you need a triangle pieces of baking paper and fold that into a cone-like shape, then fold down the wider end to secure. Check out this video on youtube search how to make a piping bag from baking paper.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Avoiding Bitter Garlic in Stir-fry

Posted by Kim Fong On 11:12

Do you find that when frying garlic it goes bitter? It's not the garlic's fault. It's because its over cooked. 

Usually during stir-fries, you're often directed to add onion and garlic to a hot oily pan. This is where you're going wrong. Garlic takes less time to cook than onion. 

So next time, add the onion first, when its about to go translucent, then add the garlic. If you forget to add the garlic then, you can add it while your other ingredients are in the pan (meat, veges etc). No dramas and no burnt bitter garlic.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Baked Cheesecake Tips - For rich and creamy cheesecake

Posted by Kim Fong On 11:23

Cheesecake has become one of the most poplar desserts in the world. Cheesecake variations has been the subject of many debates. Some love lush and creamy cheesecake, others favour the dense New York Style cheesecake (my favourite). Then there’s the light and airy variety and a myriad of crusts which range from the classic Graham cracker to Oreo cookie to brownie and cake layers. The whole subject can get a little confusing. Regardless of the type of cheesecake you prefer, here are a few secrets to baking cheesecake that Mum and I put together.

Use first rate, quality ingredients
- Fresh, A Grade, large eggs
- Full-fat cream cheese produces the texture and taste you're after. The fat-free kind is prone to bake up a cake that's soft, chalky and slightly rubbery inside while the low fat sort, often dubbed "Neufchatel", will yield a harder, more crumbly cheesecake.
- When buying cream cheese for your cheesecake, make sure you buy the kind in a solid block, not the whipped cream cheese that comes in a tub. Whipped cream cheese has already had a great deal of air whipped into it, and will not give your cheesecake the texture you are looking for:
   - Heavy cream (pasteurized rather than ultra pasteurized)
   - Sour cream that hasn't actually soured and spoiled 

All ingredients are at room temperature 
- Before you begin mixing, all ingredients are to be at room temperature, especially the cream cheese, to make mixing easier. If it's cold and hard it will make a lumpy cheesecake and if you think beating it to death will take care of those annoying bits of un-creamed cheese...think again.
- To soften cream cheese place completely unwrapped packages in microwavable bowl and microwave on high 30 to 45 seconds or until slightly softened. 

Mixing Ingredients
- Also, unless the recipe instructions specifically says otherwise, you should beat the cream cheese by itself first until it’s smooth and light before you add any of the other ingredients. 
- Avoid over-beating the cheesecake filling. Over-beating incorporates additional air trapped inside the batter - a result of over-mixing. Once in the oven, the air bubble expands and wants to escape from the cake. As it finds its way out of the top of the cake, it creates a crack or crevice in the cake's surface. 
- Beat in eggs one at a time. Be sure to mix your cheesecake batter well, eliminating all possible lumps in the cream cheese BEFORE you add the eggs. It is the eggs that will hold air in the batter, so add them last, and mix as little as possible once they are in the mix. 
- Some recipes contain a small amount of starch, such as flour or cornstarch. These recipes will result in a cheesecake whose texture is slightly more firm and cake-like. These flour-containing cheesecakes can be baked directly on the oven rack at moderate temperatures. 

Spring Form Tin
- Use a spring form pan (a pan with removable side and bottom) or cheesecake pan with removable base. Line tin with foil to ensure water doesn’t leak into the tin and soak the pastry. Placing the pan on a baking sheet helps avoid leaks in the oven if not using bain-marie. 
- Generously greasing the sides of the baking pan before pouring in batter will allow the cake to pull away from the pan as it cools and shrinks instead of pulling apart from the middle.
- To prevent discoloration, line the base of the tin with a disc of nonstick baking paper or greased greaseproof paper. 

Bake in a Bain-marie 
- Also known as a water bath, produces a texture that is creamy almost custard-like, moist and rich. Cheesecakes baked in this manner are insulated from the direct dry heat of the oven. A cheesecake is similar in structure to many flourless custards and benefits from the gentle even heat a water bath can provide.
- To make a water bath, you set the foil-lined cheesecake pan inside a roasting pan lined with a heavy tea-towel on the oven rack, and then pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is at least halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan (but NOT spilling over the top!). 
- You should use a roasting pan that allows at least 5cm/2 inches of space between the edge of the cheesecake pan and the edge of the roasting pan. For example, if your cheesecake pan is 23cm/9 inches in diameter, use a roasting pan that's at least 30cm/12 inches across. Placing a heavy dishtowel in the bottom of the roasting pan before you set the cheesecake in it will protect the bottom of the cheesecake from receiving any direct heat from the oven coils. Be sure you fill the bath with boiling/hot water. If you don't start with boiling water, it will take a very long time for the water to get hot in the oven, and will throw off your baking time. 
Foil-line pan in Bain-marie

Fruit for topping not in cake
Fruit is better reserved for use as a topping as its flavor can get muddled and lost in the cheesecake when baked along with it. A plain cheesecake topped with a cooled fruit compote or fresh berries glazed with melted preserves will give you a spectacular presentation as well as optimum taste.
If you decide to use fruit in the cheesecake, to save it from sinking it to the bottom, dust the fruit with plain flour before putting it in the cake. Be sure its the last thing you stir/place in.

A Correct Oven
- Always bake a cheesecake on the center rack of the oven. 
- Don't open the oven door during the first 30 to 40 minutes of baking, drafts can cause the cheesecake to fall or form cracks. 
- Use correct oven temperature. The appropriate temperature would be a low heat oven approx 160C/325F
- Avoid over-baking. Be aware that baking times are not always exact, due to variations in ovens. 

When it’s ready
A perfectly baked cheesecake will be: Puffed around the edges and the center should be slightly moist and jiggly. 

After Baking
- Unless otherwise directed by your recipe, turn the oven off and allow cheesecake to remain in oven, with the door ajar, for an hour or until center is completely set. This helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking in the center. After chilling the once wobbly center should firm up just fine and without the unattractive cracks that overcooking causes. 
- Upon removal from the oven, loosen the cake from the edge of the pan by running the tip of a knife or narrow spatula between the top edge of the cake and the side of the pan. This allows the cake to pull away freely from the pan as it cools. 
- Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature away from drafts before refrigerating. Place a plate or sheet of paper over the cheesecake to slow the cooling.
- After a cheesecake has chilled completely, preferably overnight, you will need to refrigerate for at least another 6 hours. Gently loosen the entire side of the cheesecake from the pan with the tip of a knife while slowly releasing the spring-form pan clamp. Carefully remove the side of the pan. 

Serving Cheesecake
- Garnish a cheesecake no sooner than 1 to 2 hours before serving, better yet...just before serving 
- For optimum flavor, serve cheesecake at room temperature. This takes about 30 minutes. 

Storing Cheesecake
- Store in the refrigerator up to 4 days, loosely covered. 
- Baked plain (minus topping) cheesecakes freeze well for up to 2 months. Transfer the cheesecake from its baking pan to a flat pan, such as a small pizza pan, or a cardboard circle. Place the cheesecake in the freezer, unwrapped, until the cheesecake is frozen firm. Wrap the cheesecake in a double layer of plastic wrap, then in heavy-duty foil, and label and date. 
- To thaw, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight. Don't garnish the cheesecake with any toppings until ready to serve.