Thursday, February 11, 2016

Torta Sabbiosa (Italian Sandy Cake)

Being a non-Italian baker, I'm thankful that I can learn many interesting and authentic Italian cakes and desserts recipes from a newly released book, Dolce by Laura Zavan.

What is Torta Sabbiosa? Sabbiosa in Italian means sandy and so when I translate "Torta Sabbiosa" from Italian to English using Google translate, it says that it is a sandy cake.

Sandy cake? Still confused? This is what this book says... "This vanilla-flavoured cake, very popular in Veneto, is said to have been invented in Pavia (Lombardy) at the end of the 19th century. The texture, made using potato starch and icing sugar is reminiscent of fine sand (sabbia in Italian). Beyond Veneto, it is more commonly known as torta paradiso. It is a quite substantial cake, more an afternoon snack than a dessert."

And this is how I have learnt to bake this cake...

torta sabbiosa paradiso Italian sandy cake
Torta Sabbiosa / Torta Paradiso / Italian Sandy Cake

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Elderflower and Lemon Drizzle Cake

Have you seen green bottles of elderflower cordial selling in most supermarkets in Melbourne? Yes I have and I wonder what are these... Then my cousin told me that I can buy elderflower cordial at ALL Ikea too!!! Oh!

Please pardon me for being totally new to elderflower. Ha ha! Sua ku me! (meaning mountain tortoise in Hokkien saying that someone is not well informed) Accordingly to Wikipedia, elderflowers are borne in large corymbs (10–25 cm in diameter), where the individual flowers are tiny (about 5 mm), white creamy in colour and each has five petals. Due to its honey like scent, elderflowers are used to enhance a solution of sugar and water to produce the aromatic elderflower cordial. Interestingly, the leaves of this plant are rather bitter-smelling.

Elderflower cordial is typically consumed as a summer drink and is usually diluted with either water or sparkling water with or without tonic or gin. Thanks to my curiosity, we have been enjoying our sparkling water with a hint of elderflower cordial throughout this whole summer! Lovely!

Then the more curious me asked "Can I use elderflower cordial for baking?" Yes! Google tells me that I can and leads me to this recipe.

Hey! This recipe is familiar! This recipe is so like My Mother-in-law's Madeira Cake by Nigella Lawson... but a little different and I like it!

elderflower lemon cake
Elderflower and lemon drizzle cake

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pomegranate and Orange Flower Panna Cotta

Pomegranate with orange flower...

To me, it sounds kind of pretty and exotic... Do you think?

I'm happy that I have discovered these exotic Mediterranean flavours from these miniature pomegranate and orange flower panna cotta. And they are made from a newly published Italian cakes and desserts book, Dolce by Laura Zavan.

I must say... If you like making and baking Italian desserts and cakes at home, I'm sure that you will like this book. Really? Please allow me to show you a few good glimpses of this book...

pomegranate orange flower panna cotta
My miniature pomegranate and orange flower panna cotta

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Vegetarian Chinese Steamed Buns with Bok Choy and Mushrooms 蔬菜包 - Vegan too!

To most Chinese, the reunion dinner is an important Chinese tradition to celebrate the Lunar New Year’s Eve. It is also known as Tuan Nian, translates from Chinese words 團年 which describes the tradition of family gathering at the reunion dinner that concludes the end of the year. Hence, the best foods with auspicious meaning are served in abundance for this meal as we believe that abundance of good food will bring the family great wealth in the new year.

Ironically... After a night of sumptuous feasting, our family including most Buddhist Chinese will observe a vegetarian diet on the first day of Chinese New Year. Why? For all these years, I can't understand this rationale after noticing the drastic contrasts of the before and after Chinese New Year eve feasting! Maybe people are feeling guilty or sinful after digging in excessive food eaten on Chinese New Year eve and need to obtain good karma for the New Year. Hmmm...

These Chinese bok choy and mushroom vegetarian streamed buns are always our all time favourite. I know that my husband and son will love these regardless of all occasions... on the first day of Chinese New Year or even Chinese New Year eve!

We are loving these not because we are guilty of having too much good food before Chinese New Year... We are loving these because these vegetarian steamed buns "got standard"!!! LOL!

vegetarian vegan vegetable Chinese steamed buns bok choy mushrooms
Vegetarian Chinese Steamed Buns with Bok Choy and Mushrooms 蔬菜包