31 March 2007

The best scrambled eggs ever

When Allen from Eating Out Loud announced the theme for the first Food Fight, I instantly thought of this one: the softest, creamest, melt-in-your-mouth-est scrambled eggs I've ever tasted.

The first time I came across this was a while ago when I was browsing the lovely Niki's Baking Sheet. Her list of Five Things to Eat Before You Die had an entry for Bill's scrambled eggs. Being an amateur foodie, I had no idea of who this Bill was at that time. But the location of the restaurant got my attention: Sydney. Three-hour bus trip from where I live. So maybe I can try this out next time I go to Sydney as a nice alternative of Chinatown food, I thought.

And then I really did, with the boyfriend, on our first trip together to Sydney. It was a nice, sunny Sunday mornig. The boyfriend asked me where I wanted to have breakfast. I told him I wanted to try this place called Bills in Darlinghurst that sells the allegedly best scrambled eggs. So we started walking, from Chinatown, central Sydney, where we stayed. It didn't look that far on the map I swear to god. But by the time we were both starving and tired, we were still wandering around in some quiet street in Darlinghurst, looking perplexed and thought where on earth was this place.

Finally we found it. Sitting right in front of our eyes. Little white house with big, clean windows and doors. Full of chirpy people. We got in. Sat at a table next to the window. It was such a magic place. White walls and wood floor. A big vase full of blossoming lilies. Everything was so clean and tidy, like no one had been around here before, and yet there were people sitting around at every single table, talking, eating, laughing.

We ordered THE scrambled eggs that Niki highly recommended. And it was GOOD. Unbelievably good. It melted in your mouth. It was so soft that you were even afraid of breaking then using the fork. And the combination of the creaminess of the eggs and the crispiness of a piece of toast was just everything you can ask for a breakfast.

The boyfriend told me later when we were walking away from Bills, that he was actually a bit cranky after a long walk on a Sunday morning, before breakfast, just in the vague hope of finding this allegedly best scrambled eggs. Who knows if this is just this Bill dude boasting himself? But after the brekky he told me, "it is unbelievable, oh my goodness, this definitely IS the best scrambled eggs ever." Apparently worth walking a couple of blocks on a Sunday morning too.

Bill is kind enough to put this recipe on his website. I've tried it a dozen of times, and although it didn't turn out to be as perfectly as it's supposed to be (because I was trying to avoid using too much butter, which, by the way, is something you should never do if you want the ultimate taste of this), it is still unbelievably cream, soft, and melt in your mouth.

Bill Granger's Scrambled Eggs

Per person
2 eggs
1/3 cup (2 fl oz) cream
a pinch of salt
10 g (1/4 oz) butter

1. Place eggs, cream and salt in a bowl and whisk together.
2. Melt butter in a non-stick frying pan over high heat, taking care not to burn the butter.
3. Pour in egg mixtureand cook for 20 seconds, or until gently set around the edge.
4. Stir the eggs with a wooden spoon, gentlybringing the egg mixture on the outside of the pan to the centre. The idea is to fold the eggs rather thanto scramble them.
5. Leave to cook for 20 seconds longer and repeat the folding process.
6. When the eggsare just set (remembering that they will continue cooking as they rest), turn out onto a plate and serve withhot toast.

Note 1: If you are making more than two serves of scrambled eggs, make sure you cook separate batches so as not to crowd the frying pan.

Note 2: Sometimes when I don't feel like 2 eggs per serve, I'd cook 3 eggs for 2 serves. Just change the recipe to 3 eggs and 1/2 cup cream.

Thanks Allen for initiating this interesting food blog event and letting me share this wonderful recipe.

17 March 2007

HHDD#10 - Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

Baked this cheesecake at the end of an eventful and exhausting week. Had coffee in a mug every morning just to wake myself up after 6-hour sleep. Stayed in the lab 1/3 of my day time of the whole week and nothing seems to go anywhere. And yet after I finally got motivated again on the last day of work, I made a terrible, terrible mistake such that the aim of the experiment had to change because of that. After being told that I've screwed up the whole experiment, I just couldn't hold on any more. Rushed to the bathroom and cried for 10 minutes.

It's amazing how everything can go wrong at the same time, and how much can one take before he/she finally breaks down. It is at this time that I really needed something to hold on to, something to comfort me, something to make me feel better. I then chose to bake this cheesecake, from a recipe I got a while ago at Epicurious. I fell in love with that cheesecake on the picture the first time I saw it. Very exquisite yet extremely decadent. What more can a gal ask for.

The conversion of the ingredients was a pain. Because I don't have a 10-inch springform pan, I had to convert everything into 2/3 of the amount to suit my 22cm (8.5 inch) cake tin. This might contribute to the extremely rich taste ("too sweet that I have to stop to take a break", said the boyfriend) in the end. Or maybe I should've left it for a whole day to let the flavours blend, according to the repcipe. But if you are a true sweet tooth, then the combination of the sweetness and the bitterness is just right. Otherwise go grab yourself a cup of cold milk to have the cheesecake with.

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

Adapted from Epicurious
22cm springform tin

Be sure to make this dessert at least one day ahead to allow the flavors to blend.

250g chocolate wafer cookies
120 g bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I omitted this one)
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar (can be omitted if you don't want it too sweet)
Pinch ground nutmeg
5 tablespoons hot melted unsalted butter

1 cup whipping cream
400g bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/6 cup Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur

625 g cream cheese, room temperature
1 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum (I used Kahlúa)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee crystals
1 1/2 tablespoons ground whole espresso coffee beans (medium-coarse grind)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 large eggs

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Espresso coffee beans (optional)

For crust:
Finely grind cookies, chopped chocolate, brown sugar, and nutmeg in processor.
Add butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down bowl occasionally, about 1 minute.
Transfer crumbs to 22cm springform pan.
Wrap plastic wrap around fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up sides to within 1/2 inch of top edge, then over bottom of pan.

For ganache:
Bring whipping cream to simmer in large saucepan.
Remove from heat; add chocolate and Kahlúa.
Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth.
Pour enough ganache just to the bottom of crust.
Freeze until ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes.
Reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use later for creating lattice pattern.

For filling:
Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 185 C.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended.
Beat in flour.
Stir rum, espresso powder, ground coffee, vanilla, and molasses in small bowl until instant coffee dissolves; beat into cream cheese mixture.
Beat in eggs 1 at a time, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.

Pour filling over cold ganache in crust.
Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet.
Bake until top is brown, puffed and cracked at edges, and center 2 inches moves only slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 5 minutes.
Transfer cheesecake to rack.
Cool 15 minutes while preparing topping (top of cheesecake will fall slightly).
Maintain oven temperature.

For topping:
Whisk sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend.
Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover filling completely.
Bake until topping is set, about 10 minutes.
Transfer cheesecake to rack.
Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about 3 hours.

Run small sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides.
Transfer cheesecake to platter.
Spoon reserved ganache into pastry bag fitted with small star tip.
Pipe diagonal lines atop cheesecake.
Repeat in opposite direction, making lattice.
Pipe rosettes of ganache around top edge of cake.
Garnish with coffee beans, if desired.
Chill until lattice is firm, at least 6 hours.
(Can be made 4 days ahead. Wrap loosely in foil, forming dome over lattice; keep chilled.)

Makes 12 servings.

11 March 2007

Marguerite Shortbread

Marguerite cookies, originally uploaded by cherryleader.

Baked this for my lab's weekly meeting. These shortbread gave amazing smell when they were still in the oven. The boyfriend said that these are actually what his mom used to bake when he was little, and they were called "melting moments". It's surprising for me to hear that, especially when I actually got this recipe from a chinese book forum. They call these "Lady Marguerite who lives in ... (insert some exotic name of Italian town here)".

I (still) don't have the kitchen scale. So I have to convert all the ingredients from grams to cups. Apparently the conversion was not that accurate, leaving the dough with a fairly dry texture, almost too dry to hold together. In fact I had to add extra melting butter just to roll out the dough. After the chilling time the dough was incredibly hard, but luckily when I knead them into small balls the dough was softened by the body temperature and much easier to manage. I particularly like the little cracks around the edge of the shortbread after I pressed downeach small ball with my measuring cup. Also because of the lack of butter, the centre cracked a bit after baking. But they still look cute, don't they?

Marguerite Shortbread

100g butter, room temperature
60g icing sugar
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
100g plain flour
100g cornflour

  1. Cut the butter into small pieces. Beat the butter with icing sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Sift the egg yolks into the butter mixture. Mix well.
  3. Mix and sift the flour into the butter mixture.
  4. Knead into a dough. Chill in fridge for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 170 C.
  5. Divide and knead the dough into small portions. Press them down.
  6. Bake for about 25 min.

Raspberry and ricotta muffins

Trapped with uni work, I have not been able to enjoy the fun of experimenting different baking items or taking part in the many activities that are going on.

I baked this raspberry and ricotta muffins on Friday night, as one of the snacks for the picnic the day after. We've been planning on doing this for weeks. By "this" I mean a ridiculously long and relaxing picnic that started at 1pm and ended at 9pm together with this year's Sky Fire.

The end result was pleasant. They were these normal sized muffins of slight ricotta flavour. And if you happen to get the raspberry bit, the sharp, sourness of the berry leaves you with a unforgettable aftertaste.

Raspberry and Ricotta Muffins
Adapted from Ask Bill in 22/08/2006 The Sydney Morning Herald

2 1/2 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
165g (3/4 cup) firmly packed brown sugar
185ml (3/4 cup) butter milk
2 eggs
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh ricotta
1 1/2 cups raspberries (frozen are fine)
Demerara sugar, to sprinkle (I omitted this one)

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 12-hole 80ml (1/3 cup) capacity muffin tin with paper cases.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl.
  3. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Use a fork to whisk the butter milk, eggs, butter and vanilla until just combined.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until combined; do not overmix.
  6. Add the berries and ricotta, stir until just combined.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cases and sprinkle tops with demerara sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Makes 12