Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lemon Angel Food Cake

So last week, I made Leche Flan. But what do you do with the leftover egg whites that you have when you bake up the Leche Flan? Make Angel Food Cake of course! Angel Food Cake has kind of received a bad rap over the years. I personally consider it as gross hospital food. Ha. 

The first time I ate Angel Food Cake was actually in a hospital. Ahhh, the excitement I felt when I saw a piece of cake to eat. But oh, the disappointment I felt when I took that first bite. Tasteless yet fluffy? You've got to be kidding me. I was deceived!

Now to tackle the Angel Food Cake on my own with Ina Garten's recipe of course! I haven't eaten hospital Angel Food Cake in years but I hope they've stepped their game up! Ha

-Listen to Alton Brown when he says you need a Tube Pan to bake Angel Food Cake. He was right when he said it will sink in the center if it's not.

-Don't use a Bundt Pan either. Supposedly, Angel Food Cake needs straight edges and the curviness of the Bundt Pan is a no, no.

Taste: If a marshmallow was made into a cake, it would be Angel Food Cake. Taste exactly like marshmallows with a hint of lemon. 

Texture: Light and Fluffy

Lemon Angel Food Cake
Recipe by Ina Garten

2 cups sifted superfine sugar, divided
1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups egg whites, at room temperature (10 to 12 eggs)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar with the flour and sift together 4 times. Set aside.

Place the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs make medium-firm peaks, about 1 minute. With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar by sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites. Whisk for a few minutes until thick and shiny. Whisk in the vanilla and lemon zest and continue to whisk until very thick, about 1 more minute. Sift about 1/4 of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold it into the batter with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the flour by fourths by sifting and folding until it's all incorporated.

Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, until it springs back to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan on a cooling rack until cool.

-Aaron John

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gonna' Party Like It's My Birthday...Well, Blog-iversary.

365 days, 137 followers and 88 posts later, my blog has now been up and running for one whole year!! I can't believe it! No words can express how truly grateful and thankful I am for everyone's support. When I first started out, my main goal was to expose myself to different foods, to grow, improve and learn different cooking techniques. Most importantly, I wanted to share this "journey" that I wanted to embark on.

Deciding to create this blog was one of the best decisions I could have made. The world of "food blogging" has been extremely welcoming and the love that others have for food is fantastic. I mean, to have a community in which there is so much appreciation for each other's work puts a smile on my face. I still have a lot to learn about blogging but I'm looking forward to every minute of it. For now, I want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this past year!! :)

Speaking of having a lot to learn still, what are your suggestions to improve this blog? Is my layout boring? Do you want to see savory dishes? More food from my background aka filipino food? I want you to be totally honest. ;)

I can't leave this post without something food related. So, to celebrate my first year of blogging, I made Leche Flan. Leche Flan is a Filipino dessert that is always seen at our Filipino parties. It's a baked custard dessert with a caramel "sauce". It is dense, creamy and oh so sweet.

- I cannot stress this enough, do not mix the sugar as it is boiling, it will cause it to crystallize. This has happened to me many times. Let it do it's thing. When it begins to take on a light amber color, pick up the pan by the handles and swirl it.

-When your sugar has reached the amber color, pour some into your ramekins. Immediately swirl the sugar around in the ramekin because it will harden quickly!

Taste: Sweet vanilla flavor with an almost smoky flavor from the caramel.

Texture: Dense and creamy

Leche Flan
Recipe by Jun Belen

For the Caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

For the Custard
12 egg yolks
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Candied Lime Peels (Optional)
1 to 2 limes
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water

Making the Caramel

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, mix sugar and water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil using medium to high heat until the color of the mixture becomes golden brown. Carefully pour the hot caramel into the ramekins and swirl it around until it completely covers the bottom of the mold. Set aside to cool.

Making the Custard

In a large bowl, beat the yolks. Add the condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract until well blended. Using a fine strainer or cheesecloth, strain the egg-milk mixture to remove any egg solids. Straining the mixture is key to making a really smooth custard. Pour the mixture into the ramekins and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan. Add hot water until it reaches half-way up the sides of the ramekins. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes until the flan is firm. Let the ramekins cool and then let them chill in the refrigerator.

-Aaron John

Monday, March 14, 2011

Granola Bars

I'm behind on blogging yet again! Busy, busy, busy. First of all, I would like to say that my heart goes out to the people of Japan. No one deserves anything like this happen to them. It was truly shocking to turn on the television and see the devastation that the tsunami had caused. Japan can use any help they can get. If you would like to donate, here is a link to the Red Cross Website.

Let's get back to the food. The Nature Valley Trail Mix Bars have to be one of the greatest snacks. It has oats (healthy), almonds and peanuts (healthy), and dried fruit (healthy). Despite being "healthy" it doesn't taste healthy. It's actually pretty filling and doesn't lack in flavor. So, this is my attempt at recreating the Nature Valley Bars by using Ina Garten's recipe as the base.

-The recipe below was my adaption of Ina Garten's Recipe to recreate the Nature Valley Trail Mix Bars. Thus, I omitted some of her ingredients and added in some extras.

Taste: Almost exactly like the Nature Valley Trail Mix Bars. A floral sweetness from the honey with a deep rich sweetness from the brown sugar. In addition, bursts of sweetness and tartness from the raisins and cranberries with hints of nutty-ness from the oats and almonds.

Texture: Not completely chewy like the Nature Valley Bars. Has a crunch on the exterior from the caramelization of the sugar and honey, with the Rice Krispy cereal giving more crunch throughout the bars. Chewiness from the fruit and crunch from the almonds as well.

Granola Bars
Original Recipe by Ina Garten, Adapted by Me

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup salted and roasted whole almonds
1 cup Rice Krispy Cereal
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Place the oatmeal on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the almonds, Rice Krispy Cereal, Raisins and Dried Cranberries until evenly combined

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture and mix until well combined

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

-Aaron John

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oreo Truffles

So, I'm a day late in making a new post this week! The quarter has been winding down and it's finally the last week of winter quarter. Even though, this quarter is essentially done and over with, I'm even more busy with finals being this friday and saturday with another one on the following thursday. So, in order to whip up something quick and simple, I decided to try out these oreo truffles.

Oreo Truffles have been getting a pretty decent amount of attention. But "Why?!" I asked myself. Aren't Oreos fantastic on their own? Do we really have to grind them up and mix them with cream cheese so they're soft and mushy and no longer crunchy? I could not fathom this. However, you have to try everything once, right?

 So I followed the recipe and made these truffles. I loved the ease of this recipe. A 3 ingredient recipe is so simple that anyone can make these. What was the result? Keep on reading. ha. 

- Definitely refrigerate your truffles for at least one hour before dipping into chocolate. If not, they will fall apart in the dipping process due to the heat of the chocolate.

Taste: Call me crazy but I wasn't wild about how these tasted. They had the classic Oreo chocolate flavor but the tang of the cream cheese left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Cream cheese has that tang which I don't think works well with this. I would suggest using a prepared frosting instead if you're like me and don't like a tangy chocolate flavor. 

Texture: A snap from the outer coating of chocolate conceals a creamy, smooth, fudgey interior.

Oreo Truffles (Makes 36 truffles)
Recipe from Bakerella

1 package oreo cookies (divided… use cookie including the cream center)
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
white chocolate bark (I used Semi-Sweet chocolate)

1. Finely crush 7 cookies in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and crush into a fine consistency. Reserve for later.
2. Crush remaining cookies and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together.
3. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.
4. Melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. You can sprinkle the tops with the 7 crushed cookies for decoration. (I usually eat mine before they make it to this stage.)
5. Once dry, refrigerate and enjoy!

-Aaron John


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