Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

I have tried pumpkin pie once many years ago when I was in America. I don't remember whether I liked it or not so decided to try Tatiana's recipe. I also looked forward to trying the popular American graham crust. As we don't have graham crackers in Australia, Google suggested I substitute Shredded Wheatmeal so that's what I did. (I also made my own butternut pumpkin puree.)

The crust was easy enough to make, although (for once) the quantity seemed just a tad small to line my pie dish. I also had to add just a bit more butter to make the crumbs stick better. Nothing drastic though.

Thirty-five minutes was enough in my fan-forced oven because after that it started to burn slightly around the edges. (I wished the recipe specified whether the temperature was for a conventional or fan-forced oven. I was getting slightly annoyed by the small details that have been left out of many recipes and for an amateur cook were important.)

The pie came out beautifully from the oven and I couldn't wait to taste it. I'm sorry to say but I was majorly disappointed yet again. The crust was fine but the filling didn't impress me. For the recipe's defence, it could be because I'm not a fan of cream mixed with eggs which gave it a bit of a flan flavour. My husband liked it and thought it was fine. (He is a big fan of the flan.) His family gobbled it up as well so maybe the pie was good, just not to my taste.

Husband: 3/5
Wife: 2/5

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

So I have finally made another recipe from Tatiana's Table. Being low on time and energy, I picked these cookies as they seemed quick and easy to make (and I couldn't predict how long my baby boy would lie quietly in his rocker). I started with a bit of trepidation, having been disappointed by my last few attempts. I was pleasantly surprised that the directions were very straight forward and the cookies themselves were very easy to make (the only minor challenge was pressing the dough evenly into the pan with my fingers - it might've been better if I rolled it out with a pin and then pressed it).

The house smelled absolutely delicious while the cookies were baking in the oven. Even my three-year-old daughter inquired as soon as she entered the house, "Have you made cookies?"

Everything was going too well until I started making the glaze. I have always used a different glaze recipe for shortbread cookies that I have made in the past and never had a problem. I think there might've been something not quite right with the quantities because I had to keep adding icing sugar to make it less liquid. The recipe specified for 2-3 tablespoons of milk. In a hurry, I added almost three tablespoons which was way too much. Even after adding numerous spoons of icing sugar, the glaze was watery and frothy and took forever to set.

The end result? My first batch (which turned out thicker) tasted more like shortbread rather than the crispier second batch which my husband preferred. I didn't mind either although I much prefer the other shortbread recipe that I have used and always got good reviews. These cookies were not as sweet by themselves but were sweetened by the glaze which made them taste not quite right. Of course, some people might prefer them that way. I think I'll stick to my original recipe.

Husband: 3/5
Wife: 3/5

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fudgy Chewy Brownies

Chocolate brownies with cheese cream icing

I have decided to make the brownies as they looked quite easy to make (and being 39 weeks pregnant, I didn't have a lot of energy to stand around in the kitchen. I also feel quite nauseated making anything that is not sweet).

I probably should mention that I have never made brownies of any sort before so probably never realised how much butter, chocolate and sugar went into them (or maybe I happily blocked out that information from my mind).

I had Lindt 70% cooking chocolate at home so decided to use that instead of the cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate. I also got a bit annoyed that the editor of the book did not check each recipe properly and it was not mentioned anywhere where to add the cocoa powder (if you decided to use it). It also missed basic instructions such as oven temperate and baking tin size.

I used an approximately 20 x 20cm square tin and put the oven at 180°C. The brownies took about 40 minutes to bake with the toothpick coming out almost dry at the center (double the time it suggested in the book).

Impatience is my weakness so after they cooled enough to be cut, I tried the edges (while they were still quite warm). The brownie crumbled in my mouth and I could feel the super richness of the dark chocolate, butter and sugar. I was hesitant to add more butter by icing them but since that was part of the recipe, I had to be true to it and give it a go (especially since I bought the cream cheese specifically for that purpose).

After trying to mix the icing by hand, I got tired and pulsed it in the food processor. The quantities ended up being way too much for the size of the brownies. (I was actually quite surprised how few brownies turned out from this recipe since all the previous recipes had humongous portions.)

When my husband walked home, he could straight away smell them (who doesn't love a house smelling of freshly baked sweets?) Although he's not a fan of dark chocolate (the way I am), he liked them more than me. He did agree though that they were very rich and one little one was enough to fill you up.

For me, they were just a bit too rich, although after putting them in the fridge, in the next few days they became harder and I found them easier to eat.

Husband: 3½ /5
Wife: 3/5

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Challah Rolls

I can't believe that after giving up on my blog, I have 7 followers! I feel encouraged to start again. It's much more fun writing when other people read it.

I have made the challah rolls over a year ago and never blogged about them. Maybe they were the reason I gave up with the recipes. Having tried challah before, I was expecting some chewy soft and sweet addictively delicious bread.

They looked promising when they came out of the oven (if I ignored some slightly burnt edges). What I got was oily weird taste dry bread. There were so many of them, I didn't quite know what to do with them. I decided to take some to my grandma (who loves all things bread and doesn't like all things sweet). She kept asking me to make them months later because she loved them. I had to tell her I probably wouldn't be doing a second run ever again as the effort and time it took to make them was just not worth it.

My husband didn't mind them too much. I disliked them more than anyone.

Husband: 3½ /5
Wife: 2 /5

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Banana Bread

Banana bread with chocolate chips and walnuts

The first time I made this has been a few months ago. I have made it several times since then (but without walnuts, the way my husband preferred).

The first time, the outside started to brown too soon while the centre was still uncooked. I ended up taking it out with the inside still wet. This did not make a big difference to my husband who devoured it.

Every time my bananas started to overripe, I would make this banana bread, putting the oven temperature a little lower than recommended. This let the centre cook properly without burning the outside.

What came out was a perfectly moist cake with mouth-melting chocolate chips. I have since looked through other recipes of banana cakes and have noted that none use lemon juice and orange rind. In my opinion, that's what gives this recipe that extra subtle flavour. 

After trying several more recipes from the book, my husband still says that this is the only recipe that was really successful.

Husband: 4½ /5
Wife: 4½ /5

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Meatball Soup

Soup with meatballs, rice, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and coriander

In Russia, soup is a staple dinner dish. It is always something you have before the main course. My 80 year old grandparents still have it every day.

I'm not a fan of soup. This is probably because I've had it every day of my childhood and never questioned it until we left Russia and I discovered that in other countries, people didn't have soup every day. Not being a fan of vegetables, I quickly decided I didn't want to eat it anymore. Only in the last few years, I have started to enjoy it occasionally.

When I saw this recipe, I thought I wouldn't mind trying it. I should've learnt from my other cooking experiences out of this book and halved the ingredients. After I finished rolling the meatballs, I realised there was no way they were all going to fit into my pot, not to mention adding potatoes and carrots later. I had to separate the soup into two pots.

As you can see from the photo above, there was not much liquid. Some of the meatballs ended up falling apart. I was very frustrated with the whole process because it was taking so much time and not turning out the way I expected. When my husband and I tried it, we were not impressed. Not to say it was bad, just not something I would cook again.

husband: 3/5
wife: 3/5

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Curry Chicken with Chang Hao's Basmati Rice

This recipe took ages to make but was worth it in the end. Finally, a yummy dish that we both enjoyed.

I did find there was a lot of sauce but it tasted delicious mixed with the basmati rice. It tasted just like something out of a (good) Indian takeaway shop. I never heard of green apples being added to curries but it added a nice tarty flavour. Mmm...

Ratings - Curry Chicken
husband: 4/5
wife: 4/5

Ratings - Chang Hao's Basmati Rice
husband: 4/5
wife: 4/5