Sunday, June 25, 2006

Blueberry Corncakes

Berries in general are expensive in this part of the tropics. A cupful of raspberries, blueberries or blackberries goes for a sweet S$9.90! Which is positively sinful, don't you think? Last week, the gods of berries deigned to reduce the prices of blueberries by half. And since I prefer my fruit cooked, I figured I might as well take advantage of the offer and pick up a pack of the inky hued fruit. In deciding what to do with them, I turned to my now trusty The Last Course by Claudia Fleming. I'd been meaning to try her Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts with Graham Cracker Crust, but for the life of me failed to find a store that stocked the whole wheat pastry flour that the recipe calls for. I finally found it in Bangkok of all places, which I visited over the weekend, but that's another post for another day.

I settled for Ms Fleming's Blueberry Corncakes instead since I had all the ingredients on hand. And they didn't disappoint. As the author describes, "these golden little cakes are absolutely irresistible". Made with almond flour, yellow cornmeal (polenta), butter and egg whites, these cakes turned out utterly scrummy in mini-muffin size as opposed to regular sized muffins, which were a tad on the heavy side. The recipe calls for a whopping two and two-thirds cups of icing sugar, which made them slightly sweeter than I would have liked. But other than that, they were a real winner. Leave them out for another day and they taste even better. The cornmeal seemed to have time to meld into the cake and leave less of a crunch. One of the best things about these beautiful little cakes are the blueberries scattered throughout the batter, which pop in the heat of the oven, intensifying their flavour and making wee pockets of jam within. They are a real tea time treat, though I ended up having them for breakfast and with ice cream for dessert after dinner as well.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Braised Pork Belly

This was such a serenely simple dish to put together, and with such elegant results too. Lifted from J's copy of Think Like A Chef, it was a matter of chopping carrots, celery, a leek and an onions, cooking them in a skillet till tender, searing the slab of pork belly and then braising the lot in chicken stock. The resulting dish was a wonderfully tasty yet clean broth and meat that was sumptuously fork tender.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Best Cocoa Brownies

Often, for me, the measure of a good cookbook is in the success of the very first recipe that I attempt from it. If it emerges a raving success, I gleefully congratulate myself on money well spent and bring out the Post-It stickies to flag yet other recipes I'd like to try. By that merit alone, one of my latest purchases, Alice Medrich's Bittersweet, was a tremendous hit.

Because my schedule of late hasn't really permitted me to do much in the kitchen other than boil water for pasta or make scrambled eggs, I was looking for something simple yet satisfying. Sweets for the stressed, is what I like to call the fat food that my colleagues and I munch helplessly at our desks during the last month of every quarter when impossible deadlines and printing schedules collide.

These moist, chewy, dark as midnight brownies were everything that Ms Medrich promised. There is not a drop of real chocolate in it, but the three-quarter cup plus two tablespoons of the best Dutch-processed cocoa made these intensely chocolately, and received an A for both taste and texture. They are, as they have been named by the author, The Best Cocoa Brownies ever. I can't wait to try more of her recipes.