Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blue Cheese Popovers

It has been quite a long time since I posted something on my blog. Busy would be my excuse despite how cliché it sounds.  The new year has brought so many fine ideas and must resolve resolutions. Among those resolutions, making homemade bread is one of the top three resolutions while the other two are better time management and drink papaya leaf juice regularly which I would, I would do it.. when.. if.. Oh you know how we love to make excuses to ourselves:)

So, I have been busy learning to make bread because of the simple reason that my family loves bread. We are bread eater. We love the smell of the fresh loaf coming out of the oven. There is a certain romance in eating warm bread. So I embarked on a journey of mastering bread baking, I read books about the history of bread, the science behind baking bread, up to the species of wheat, and where they are grown. I know I have strayed too far from my first goal which is simply to make my own bread. But being a virgo, I strive for perfection (and Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Bread Everyday book is excruciatingly hard to put down). I have tried many, many bread recipes. Some worked out incredibly well, some did not but still tasted good. Please note that did not do well means the bread did not look as presentable as I expected, not that it was a total failure. I will post my progress once I manage to organize the recipes and the pictures.

A week ago, it was a cold and rainy Saturday morning and both my hubby and Amiko were still sleeping. I wanted to make some bread for them but I was kind of down with flu and the last thing I needed was to waste my strength on kneading bread. Besides, I was thinking of something savory yet light to eat for breakfast. So I decided to not bake bread but to bake something I never baked before. After a quick search in The Joy of Cooking book, I found a recipe for popovers. It is a simple recipe, does not require many ingredients, and easily tailored to suit our taste and preference.

Preheat the oven to 225C
Makes 24 mini popovers or 12 regular popovers.


-1/2 cup flour
-1/2 cup wheat flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 eggs
-1 ¼ cup low fat milk
-1 tbs melted butter
-75 gr Danish Blue Cheese, diced
- 75 gr Old Cheddar Cheese, grated


-Mix all the flour and salt, set aside
-Beat the eggs and combine the eggs in a bowl with milk and melted butter.
-Fold the flour until just blended, a few lumps may remain.
-Spray the muffin tins with oil, you can use either regular sized or minis.
-Fill a quarter of the tin with the batter; put the cheese (I don’t mix my cheese, I made 12 popovers with blue cheese and another 12 with cheddar) and fill with the batter until full.
-Bake at 225C for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 175C and bake for another 20 minutes, until well browned.
-Turn off the oven; leave the popovers for an extra 10-15 minutes for extra crispness before taking them out or you can serve them right away. If you can wait, that is.
-Serve immediately.

A few notes on making popovers, NEVER open the oven door to avoid deflating the popovers and do be creative with the filling. You can use all purpose flour if you do not have wheat flour. In fact, the original recipe actually calls for all purpose flour. I use wheat flour for the extra fiber and the nutty, earthy taste. Please do not be discouraged with the words ‘Danish Blue Cheese’. I just happen to like it a lot and there were still some in the fridge. I reckoned that it would be better to use it instead having my daughter sneaking up now and then nibbling it like a silly chubby mouse.

A few yummy fillings that I have tried to replace the cheese:
-Milk or dark chocolate chips.
-Basil pesto sauce.
-Sundried tomatoes.
-Apple Sauce.
-Smoked beef.
-Or just have it plain! They are delicious just as it is.

I hope you would try this exciting recipe. Why exciting? Like the name stated, the batter literally pops, though puffs would be a better way to describe it. It was like watching the instant microwave popcorn bag puffed from a flat paper to a blissful big pillow! Your family will enjoy it a lot. I guarantee it. No money back policy, unfortunately.

Anyhow, I better get back on my bread quest. My regards to your loved one and your pets, I wish you happy days ahead!

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Raspberry Semifreddo

The weather is not quite so friendly lately here in Jakarta. It would be blazing hot during midday and pouring cats and dogs in the afternoon till very late at night. Sometimes it is vice versa. When it is real hot, all I crave is just something that can shake off the heat and instantly makes me feel good. The thing about craving is that when the feeling comes and tickles your taste buds, it is able to mess around with your head in a strange pre-historic way and lets you think that you ought to get that certain food despite the time and place, now. Or you’ll be unleashing the dragon.

Okay, that dragon thing is out of context. Blame it on The Game of Thrones. I simply am addicted to the books and the tv series and my hubby seems to be on the same wavelength. We just found something that we both could enjoy together without him or me criticizing each other’s choice of books and movies. Back to the topic of craving, the hot midday and afternoon are quite suffocating for me. Trying to stay indoor doesn’t always help when what I want is to get my hands on cold desserts. The main problem is that I cannot find my ice cream maker anywhere. I know it must be somewhere inside those boxes that I haven’t unpacked, got me there, and I’m talking about huge boxes that my hubby put really high on the top of shelves.

So I gave up on ice cream.


Now, that would be a perfect idea if I do have the patience to mash the granita in the container with a fork for every two hours for at least four times. So what can I have to satisfy my cold desserts craving?

I did not know.

One night I was reading a Giada de Laurentiis cookbook before sleeping and found a luscious coffee semifreddo recipe. Why didn’t it occur to me? Yeah, easy to make and requires very little ingredients and utensils. As you know that I like to tweak a recipe here and there and make it my version, I decided to make a raspberry semifreddo, also for the lovely mere fact that I got loads of fresh organic raspberries in my refrigerator. Those are my daughter’s but I did not tell her that I used them to make this. The confession of crime could wait.

Semifreddo itself means half frozen but that does not mean it is rather liquidy like melted or unset ice cream. I remember when I was a little girl my mom and dad used to take me to this lovely gelatteria. The store itself was small, with only several white painted wrought iron sets of chairs and tables, there were grape vines dangling on the wooden beams which supported the not so high ceilings, synthetic of course but nevertheless very high in quality -the fake vines and the grapes looked marvelously real- or my dad would’ve given his endless comments about it, and it did add a classic Italian touch. Moreover, the gelatteria was really private and humble; it did not put such a big sign that advertise, "Oh, look! Here’s a place where you can buy ice cream." Gelato is not ice cream. I guess that was why I loved it so much, more for the humility and the privacy of the place, and the colorful layers of the cassatta. Not only gelato and cassatta, they also sold semifreddo and this spectacular Bomba Siciliana. It is not hard to make them as long as you have the patience and the passion. For now I’ll just share my semifreddo recipe.

For the Semifreddo
-250 gr Raspberries
-1 cup heavy cream
-2-3 tbs confectioner sugar
-100 gr vanilla meringue, coarsely crushed
-3-4 tbs kirsch
For the coulis
-250 gr Raspberries
-2-3 tbs confectioner sugar
-1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

-Oil a loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and set side.
-Puree the raspberries in a blender
- Whip the cream and the confectioner sugar until soft peak forms. Taste the sweetness; if you like it you can add more sugar.
-Fold in the raspberries, crushed meringues, and kirsch. (psst.. I added slightly more kirsch)
-Transfer into the pan, smooth the surface, cover with clingfilm and freeze at least 6 hours.
-Meanwhile, make the coulis. Puree the raspberries and press them on a fine sieve to get a lovely smooth texture. Stir in the confectioner sugar, taste the sweetness; if you like it you can add more sugar. Flavor the coulis with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
-Serve the semifreddo with the coulis. Voila!

You can substitute raspberries with any berries you like. Be creative, this is a foolproof dessert so there is no way you can go wrong. If you want to make a vegan version, simply substitute the heavy cream with non-dairy whip cream and skip the liquor if you want to make it non-alcoholic version. As for me, kirsch augments the flavor of almost every spring and summer fruits. I happen to have some meringue in my air tight jar that I made about a week ago. You can cheat and use store bought meringue but be forewarned, store bought meringue is often times too sweet. So, check the sweetness, if it is quite sweet then completely reduce the amount of the confectioner sugar in the semifreddo mixture or don’t use any sugar at all.

There you go, my take on semifreddo.

I sincerely hope you would try to make this recipe at home. The reason is very simple. If you have kids, you might want to watch their ice-cream intake. I mean, children and ice cream are inseparable, so the challenge is how to make it healthier so they can still eat it a lot and us parents don't have to worry about a thing. Lots of famous premium ice creams sold out there are heavenly, utterly delicious but they contain too much egg yolks. If they don’t use yolks, like other generic brands of ice creams, the amount of sugar is despicably insane, so insane you’ll get a cough after a scoop or two. I’ll be posting my easy ice cream recipes and frozen yogurts, yolk-less, soon and till then, have fun with your semifreddo.


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