Thursday, July 30, 2015

Earl Grey Madeleines (Dorie Greenspan)

"Mum, do you know that these are fire ants?" exclaimed my son while pointing at the large red brown ants trailing along a bus stop near Changi beach.

"Oh!" I always know these ants are the stinging kind but never knew that they are known as fire ants.

"Mum, do you know that there are trillion dollar notes in Zimbabwe?" my son and husband was excited when they bought one of these trillion dollar notes with AUD$6 at eBay.

"Wow!"I was surprised as I never knew that.

"Mum, do you know that the man in our Australian $10 note is Andrew "Banjo" Patterson? One of his famous works is Waltzing Matilda and I love this song!" said my patriotic Australian born son when I picked him up from school yesterday. Being a Singaporean... Obviously, I don't know. Hmmm...

I'm learning new things everyday... from my son, family, friends, work and even baking. Today, I have learned from here, here and here that I can incorporate tea into bakes by infusing tea into either 1) the water 2) the milk or 3) the butter or any fat that we are using to bake. Among all these infusion methods, I have read from here that infusing tea in unsalted butter is the best and the most ideal amount to use is 2 grams (about 1 1/2 tsp) of tea leaves to infuse every tablespoon (15g) of butter.

Perhaps intentionally, this is the same method and amount that Dorie Greenspan has used to infuse the butter in these Earl Grey madeleines and they are fabulously delicious!

earl grey honey madeleines Dorie Greenspan
Earl Grey Madeleines
For this bake, I have used two of these tea bags to infuse 40g butter.
When the butter has been well infused, make sure that you give the bags a big squeeze to salvage every single drop of butter that has been soaked in the tea bags.
While the butter is infusing, I did this.
Then, I beat in the honey and vanilla.
I did these steps gently with a spatula.
The batter has to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight in wrapped in this manner.
This will help the batter to form the characteristic humps.
I'm baking the madeleines using a miniature silicon madeleine mould.
They are so tiny that I can pop more than one of them at one time into my mouth.
See their perfect browned and crispy rim...
... every one of these is so delightfully addictive
... being crispy, butter and spongy all at the same time!

Do you know that tomorrow is the last day of July 2015? ... LOL! I know that you know!

I hope that everyone who linked with us at Little Thumbs Up Tea event has enjoyed the beauty of using tea in creating their food. Among a total of more than 90 entries*, I have seen many refreshing latte and have learned many creative ways to use tea for cooking and baking. Do you like to know which link has the most clicks in this event? It is Green Tea Magic Custard Cake by Joceline, Butter, Flour and Me. Thumbs up, Joceline!

Thumbs up to Cheryl too for hosting this fruitful event. It has bee fun cooking and blogging with you and many friends.

Before proceeding on, I also like to thank Doreen from my little favourite DIY for giving me the versatile blogger award. You are an amazing blogger too :)

* will update the number after 1 Aug 2015
UPDATE on 31 July 2015 - Please note that Jess is sick and she will be starting her LTU on 3rd Aug 2015.

Here's the recipe from the book, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
(with my modification and notes in blue)

Makes 12 standard size madeleines or 56 miniature madeleines about 3 cm each
5 tbsp unsalted butter - I have added 40g for half of the recipe.
2 tbsp Earl Grey tea leaves - I have used 2 Earl Grey T2 tea bags.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour - I have added 55g.
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup sugar - I have added a reduce amount of 50g for half of the recipe.
grated zest of 1/2 lemon - I have added grated zest of 1 small lemon for half of the recipe and we are loving this amount of lemon zest that I have added.
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp pure vanilla extract - I have added 1/2 tsp vanilla paste for half of the recipe.

To flavor the butter with the tea, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave oven - I did this step using a sauce pan. Stir in the tea and allow it to infuse for 15 mins.

Line a small sieve with a double layer of damp cheesecloth, then strain the butter into a small bowl; discard the tea leaves. - I didn't have to do this step because I was using the tea packed in tea bags. In order to get the maximal amount of tea out from the tea bags into the butter, I held each tea bag with my thumb and index finger and gave it a big squeeze to salvage every single drop of butter that has been soaked inside the tea bags.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or in another large bowl and, using your fingertips, work the zest into the sugar until the mixture is fragrant.

Working with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and zest together until pale and thick, 2 to 3 mins. Add the honey and vanilla and beat for 1 minute more. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently fold in the sifted dry ingredients. When they are incorporated, fold in the butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate for at least 3 hrs or for up to 2 days. This long chill will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines.

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C or 180°C fan forced  Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick madeleine pan, give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, there is no prep needed - I'm using the silicone miniature madeleine pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Spoon or pipe the batter into the molds - Don't worry about leveling the batter, the oven's heat will take care of that.

Bake for 12-14 mins or 8 mins for the miniature ones or until the madeleines are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the mold by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife.

Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

Note: Using half of the recipe, I have baked 28 miniature madeleines about 3 cm each.

Serving: While they have an entire tea service baked right into them, there's still nothing better than having these madeleines alongside a cup of fragrant Earl Grey tea.

Storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, the madeleines should be eaten soon after they are made. You can keep them overnight in a sealed container, but they are really better on the same day when they are baked. If you must store them, wrap them airtight and freeze them; they'll keep for up to 2 months.

Happy Baking
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This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and me, Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Cheryl from Baking Taitai at this post.

Our Little Thumbs Up event starts on the first day of the month until the last day of the month. Please join us! To join, simply cook or bake any recipe with the theme of the month which is TEA for July 2015 and link with us at this post anytime until 31st July 2015.

What after July 2015? Jess from Bakericious will be the next hostess of August 2015 and her theme is BROWN SUGAR! UPDATE on 31 July 2015 - Please note that Jess is sick and she will be starting her LTU on 3rd Aug 2015.

Don't forget your thumbs up or display this badge! And make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post preferably within this month. (2) Please mention Little Thumbs Up in your post and link back to Bake for Happy Kidsmy little favourite DIY and 
Cheryl from Baking Taitai. For more details, please see this.

Don't forget to submit your details to win Slow Cooker Central by Paulene Christie (RRP AUD$24.99). This giveaway is open to ALL and the submission ends on 6 August 2015.

Slow Cooker Central by Paulene Christie Book Giveaway

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Most Fuss Free Chicken and Mushroom Pies that I ever baked... made from scratch and they are delicious! (Slow Cooker Central)

As a mum, I wouldn't say no to fuss free recipes...

... especially this easy chicken pie recipe.

To cook this pie filling...
I don't have to brown the onions, chicken and mushroom initially.
I don't have to use any pre-cooked or pre-roasted chicken like what I did at here, here and here. The chicken used in this recipe is actually 100% cooked from scratch!
I don't have to pre-cook the bechamel or any creamy sauce.
I don't have to cook it with any hot boiling stock.
I don't have to worry that the creamy sauce will split.

All I need to do is to assemble all the pie fillings ingredients in one pot (or a slow cooker) and leave it to cook with low heat for 3-6 hours or until the chicken is tender and the sauce is reduced. That's it!

I'm amazed that 1) the chicken pieces are eventually beautifully browned! 2) the sauce is creamy and yummy and won't split!!!

Fuss free? Absolutely!!!

When I want to eat the pies, I transferred the fillings into a pie dish or ramekins, placed Parmesan cheese on the filling and then a ready rolled puff pastry on top of the cheese and bake the pies for 15 mins...So easy and these pies are so comforting to eat!

fuss free easy chicken mushroom pies
The most fuss free chicken and mushroom pies that I ever baked

See how the busy me made these delicious pies to serve 3 very hungry people. First, I gathered all these ingredients...

2 cups finely sliced or chopped button mushrooms
1 brown onion, finely diced plus 2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup cooking cream, can be regular or light (with 18% fat)
1 tsp vegetable or chicken stock powder
2 skinless chicken breast fillets, chopped into bite size pieces
Skinless chicken breast??? Will it be too tough and dry after cooking? I will show you the answer later.
Assemble all in one pot or a slow cooker.
Leave it to cook with cover and low heat for 3-6 hours or until the chicken is tender.
Do not be alarm if the cream looks like it has split. It will be ok later.
Absolutely no worries! At this point, I walked away to do other things.
After at least 3 hrs of cooking, the filling will look darker in colour and the chicken will be nicely browned.
To reduce the sauce, cook the filling uncovered until the sauce is reduced according to your liking.
You can either stir in the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese into the filling and cook it for 15 mins or sprinkle on the filling just before baking.
As usual, I always prefer to use the fat reduced fat ready rolled puff pastry and I need to thaw and use just one sheet.
It's dinner and baking time and so I did these.
Place puff pastry over the top. Trim the edges (or not - my family and I prefer not to waste any pastry :p). Brush the top lightly with one egg which is lightly whisked. Bake at 180°C for 15 mins or until the pastry is puffed and golden.
Serve immediately!
Nom nom nom....

Oh wait!!! I have to show you something ...

 See! The chicken breast pieces are beautifully browned!
And they are not dry at all being flavoursome and tender.
This recipe is amazing!

Do you know that Slow Cooker Central is currently the No. 1 selling book in ABC Book Shop?

I'm impressed that a slow cooker and the recipes including this chicken and mushroom pie recipe from the book, Slow Cooker Central can make the lives of busy working people so easy.

Thanks to Slow Cooker Central! Busy people like us can eat well and don't have to be hungry... LOL!

I hope that you like this recipe as much as I do. It is one of the chicken recipes that I have seen in the book, Slow Cooker Central by Paulene Christie and there are more than 250 recipes that you can find in this amazing book.

Are these 250 recipes all soups and stews? Nay!!! The Slow Cooker Central recipes originate from some of the creative members in Paulene's Facebook Slow Cooker Recipes group which has used a slow cooker to transform a humble chicken into these flavourful food...

Besides Chicken, there are chapters like Soup, Snacks and Light Meals, Beef, Sausages, Lamb, Pork, Game, Seafood, Vegetable and Sweets.
Just the chicken chapter itself, I'm seeing many amazing recipes with flavours from around the world.
Chicken Gumbo with southern American flavours.
Here we have the Mexican style chicken...
... and many many many chicken dishes with Asian influence.

... like
honey and garlic chicken
simple chicken satay
oriental style orange chicken
orange and ginger chicken
teriyaki wings
Thai peanut chicken
sweet and sour chicken
oriental honey soy chicken
Japanese sticky chicken wings
Peking chicken fried rice
chicken tikka masala and the list goes on...

If you are a busy working mum like Paulene Christie, the author of Slow Cooker Central book, you gotta have a slow cooker and this book! Thermomix, KitchenAid Cook Processor or a humble slow cooker... Now, I say eeny, meeny, miny, moe... LOL!

I'm sorry that I have agreed to the publisher that I can't publish the recipes in this book in this book review post. However, if you really wish to bake these fuss free chicken and mushroom pies, please read my post in details, you will see that you can actually cook these pies without a written recipe. *Hint*

If you have a slow cooker and like to buy this book, it is available in most book stores at RRP AUD$24.99 or if you are lucky, you can win one here! This giveaway is open to ALL international readers and the submission ends on 6 August 2015. Good luck!

Slow Cooker Central by Paulene Christie Book Giveaway
Before ending this post, I like to thank Harper Collins Australia for giving me this opportunity to do this review. I like to make a disclaimer here that I'm not paid to do this review and like to share my most honest opinions about this book.

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