Our local gastronomic scene seems to have been taken by storm with a new wave of “inventive” and somewhat “avant garde” kinda culinary styles where anything goes as long as it looks really appetising, tastes pretty good, seemingly healthy and most importantly, Instagram worthy. I don’t dig most of these “experimental” culinary concepts well but I must say some of them are really quite delicious, so much so that I would go through the trouble of garnering all of my favorite ingredients to make a portion at home just to satiate a craving. The poké bowl is one such recent craze.
I’m on a tart making spree! This happened once several years back when there was an online tart and pie bake-along event where I did Pierre Hermé’s Tarte Ispahan, Ladurée’s Tartelettes Croustillantes Abricots ou Cerises and the classic Tarte Bourdaloue aux poires all in a short span of just days apart from each other. It was crazy but fun!
Days back, I saw good figs at our local supermarket, and was determined to reprise Hidemi Sugino’s Tartelette aux Figues which I also did at the end of that same year back in 2011 but alas came feijoas and I got distracted, out of which Tartelette au Feijoa et Chocolat Noir was created. However, determined not to let those beautiful fresh figs, and the extra pâte sucrée in the fridge go to waste, I made yet another round of of tartlets, this time a pairing between figs and rosemary, Tartelettes aux Figues et Romarin, inspired by flavours of the Mediterranean Aegean Sea.
Christmas is here again and for many, it is a time for celebration and jubilation. But for me, Christmas also tells me that the year is coming to an end and the contemplative and reflective mood sets in. I generally steer away from crowds so no count down parties for me. But what I do like is a bit of festive indulgence, something in sync with the mood for the holidays. No turkey for me, not the traditional way at least. Had never been a fan and I probably never will. On the contrary, I’m all for the numerous sweet treats which the Christmas season offers. Eggnogs, gingerbread men, assorted cookies… are just some of the things I love! But what I’d always craved for every year around this time, is a good Christmas fruit cake. Rich and moist, it is packed with nutty and fruity indulgence amidst all the rummy alcoholic decadence. But truth be told, despite how much I liked it, I couldn’t go beyond two slices. With the traditional Christmas fruit cakes, it was sheer heaven as the flavours and aroma just hit me instantly as I sink my teeth into it for the first bite. But soon, the richness turns into heft and before long, the sickening sweetness creeps in. That is the reason why I’d not made a proper Christmas fruit cake in years as I knew my family would never be able to finish it proper. All this was until a good friend Chris shared a fruit cake with me last year and I was immediately blown away. It was all of that is of a fruit cake that I’d always thought of and hoped for but it doesn’t taste as heavy as the traditional ones would. Another friend Lynette too shared her fruit cake recipe with me and upon comparison, I found striking similarities between these two recipes used by these two ladies. So the best thing I did was to combine what I thought to be the strengths and wonderful attributes of both recipes and it turned out wonderful! So this is the recipe to create the Christmas Loaf Cake which I’d always wanted and here I am to share it with you all!
I love salads because they are such quick and fuss-free meals which are extremely versatile and virtually effortless to make. Given the right melange of components and ingredients, they can also be visually stunning and most certainly help to work up one’s appetite and get those salivary glands raging. That is when you’ll realise that a salad alone may just not be enough. *chuckles*
The other important thing about salads for me, is how they epitomise one of the doctrines of what good food should be, freshness. When the ingredients are crisp and just off the vine, very little needs to be done to tease out all those wonderful flavours and aroma which Mother Nature has put into nurturing them, be it fruit or vegetables. They will sing their own song, with lyrics which speaks of their innate sweetness which make all other condiments redundant. The other thing I love about salads, is how they could easy be assembled using the produce of the season. Midsummer August now and many stone fruits and other exotic varieties are in season. For me, the real treat are figs, especially Black Mission figs. I’d used them in Hidemi Sugino’s Tartlette aux Figues before and they were absolutely lovely. This time round its a red simple Fig and Halloumi Salad, a taste of the Mediterranean summer.
Ground too much of those silician pistachios from making Ladurée’s Financier Pistache. That’s just me being overtly zealous … or kiasu, depending on how you want to look at it! So I need use them up quickly before they start to lose all that lovely jadite green. So this is how this cake came about! I’d been wanting to bake this at home for some time already, after learning it at a tea cake class @ Palate Sensations 2 months back. Really love the texture and taste of the cake. Nothing like what I’d had before! Not that the good o’ butter pound is getting boring or what , but this is something which got me really excited. “Wow! Didn’t know a cake could taste like that!”
Financiers are dainty little french confectioneries, tea cakes generally enjoyed over a cuppa. What makes ’em really special is the use of buerre noisette, literally meaning hazelnut butter, owing to the “butter cooking process” causing it to develop a tan hue, giving the tea cake its characteristic colour and nutty aroma. And if this is not enough, the “nuttiness” is accdentuated with the use of ground almond which really provide the petit four secs a lot of flavour. And as if to push the palate experience to the limits, Pierre Hermé incorporates maple sugar, trimoline and ground toasted hazelnut in his recipes making them a real special treat!