Sunday, November 27, 2011

Daring Bakers November 2011 - Sans Rival

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

I got in early this month so I could make this in time for my very last day at work before starting maternity leave. A Sans Rival cake involves layers of baked dacquoise (similar to meringue) with lots and lots of buttercream icing. I have a serious sweet tooth and am not afraid of fat, but even I had to baulk at the idea of eating this cake between two. Fortunately it was a big hit at work . I am hoping that I find a mothers' group that likes baked goods so I have a regular place to share the DB challenges and other sweet things I make.

I made the recipe exactly as prescribed, except I adopted a suggestion from someone in the forum to bake the dacquoise layers spread on baking paper instead of in a tin. That worked really well because I don't have multiple cake tins in the same size, but I could still bake 2 at a time. Although this is not the kind of thing I would usually make by choice, it was lots of fun to prepare the layers and decorate the cake.

Thank-you Catherine for hosting this month and for introducing me to something new. I would love to explore more Filipino foods in the future.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Daring Cooks November 2011 - Cooking with Tea

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

For this month's challenge I took up smoking. I'd had the idea of using tea leaves to smoke food floating around in my head for awhile, I can't remember where I picked it up. So when this challenge was revealed and the only requirement was to make something savoury with tea, I knew what I wanted to do.

I googled tea-smoked chicken and it came back with hundreds of recipes and suggestions, but many of them were based on a mixture of equal parts tea leaves, raw rice and brown sugar. The traditional approach is to use a foil-lined wok but I wanted to try it in our barbecue.

I have described my method and ingredients below, but it really extremely flexible and could be used in any sort of salad, or sandwich or ramen or pasta or whatever. The result was some perfectly cooked and very tasty chicken pieces, but the smoke flavour was very subtle and the tea flavour was non-existent. I think it would need a longer smoking time (at a lower temperature than I could achieve in our barbecue) to develop more flavour.

Tea-smoked chicken summer salad

For the chicken
4 skinless chicken thigh pieces
1/4 cup tea leaves
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick crumbled into pieces

Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat your barbecue on high for around 10 minutes.
Choose a robust baking tray and wire rack that will fit inside your barbecue.
Wrap the tray on both sides with a double layer of foil.
Combine the tea, rice, sugar and cinnamon and spread evenly inside the tray.
Place the tray inside the barbecue and wait until it starts to smoke
Place the chicken on the rack and then put the wire rack over the tea mixture in the barbecue.
Turn the heat down to low, close the lid of the barbecue and leave for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes I checked the temperature using a digital thermometer with a probe and it was good to go.

For the salad (to serve 2)
2 smoked chicken thighs, shredded
1/2 cos lettuce, shredded
1 bunch asparagus, blanched and sliced
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and dress as desired. I used just a little olive oil and balsamic.