Say HELLO to the perfect Meringue/ Mimi’s Chocolate Swirl Meringues

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Hey you, how are you? Hope you are doing alright. Me? I’m okay, just had a double jaw surgery about a couple of weeks ago to fix my biting problem. While recovering from the massive swelling, not being able to bite and chew is killing me. I’m basically eating baby food right now. As a food lover, it’s not so nice. Besides the pain and lack of energy, I do enjoy my 4 weeks sick leave. And this allows me to finally have time to take a break from my busy life, sit in front of my computer and talk to you

Before my surgery, I discovered a super good recipe that I must share with you. I have had a few meringues in my life, mostly from good cafes. You know, those that are loaded, have great atmosphere, good selection of pastries, good terrace facing a garden and etc. In another word, those places that made me feel so good that I must sit down with a cup of coffee and a pie, or a piece of cake. So I have tried their meringues. Looking huge, white, hard, very hard, oh and very sweet, what else should I say? Why on earth would anyone like this kind of a dessert? At that time I didn’t understand.

That day at work, I was out of ideas. But I must come up with a dessert for 20 people, like right now. Didn’t really have the energy to start mixing a cake dough, somehow I felt like making meringue, the first time ever! (Yeah I like taking risk) So I googled and found a recipe from my all time favourite food blogger, Mimi Thorisson, an amazing woman who has beautiful children, dogs, great photographer husband and lives in Medoc. That’d be a perfect dream to many I believe. And she writes awesome blog Manger, sharing marvellous recipes about French cuisine that always blow my mind away. When I found her recipe for meringue, I knew that it is going to turn out great. So I started to take out my eggs and sugar immediately. I had no doubt about it at all.

Not to forget to mention that my electric mixer is broken, I was literally beating a huge load of egg whites with my hands, for 20 people. The weather is cold but I was sweating, as you can imagine. It took 20 minutes more than estimation. 🙂

Everything was worth it when I took my first bite of the fresh meringue. ‘Heavenly! It is heavenly good! Oh my god.’, my colleague repeated. I could not believe that meringue can be so good. (Well, it means that I have had bad ones) I finally realised what a real meringue supposed to taste like. The fragrance of egg white lingered in my mouth wonderfully. Like Mimi wrote, it should be crispy from the outside and soft from the inside. And she was so right. I thought one was too big for me, but I ate 2 in a row. And I made them again and again. No fail.

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Referred to recipe from Manger:
(Make 6 giant servings or 12 medium ones)

6 extra large egg whites (room temperature)
1,5 tsp cornflour (I used potato flour)
2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
320g Icing sugar
A pinch of fine salt

Methods:

1) In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until frothy. Add the potato flour and sugar (1-2 tbsp at a time) gradually and continue whisking. (You should add the sugar in small quantities until the end of the process.)

2) When the egg whites form stiff peaks (Tips: turn the bowl upside down and it should stay nicely in the bowl without dropping to your head), gently fold in the cocoa powder to create nice swirls in the egg whites.

3) With the help of two spoons, spoon the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking tray. The meringues should be about 10-12 cm large and 6 cm high (for big making ones). ‘Twirl’ your spoon around and finish off with a spiky peak.

4)Finally ‘dust’ some cocoa powder on top of each meringue and (optionally) use a small fork to gently draw a few more swirls

5) Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, switch off the oven, and leave them to cool inside the oven with the door slightly open for 15 minutes.

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For this recipe Mimi has made a chocolate sauce to serve with the meringues. I have tried it but it was a little too sweet for my own preference. I have created an easy raspberry sauce that I thought it goes really well with these meringues. You know, a little kick of sourness and berry flavour together with the sweetness from the meringues. Oh, and the colour too! 😉

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Raspberry sauce:

200g Frozen raspberry

100ml Water

50g Sugar

1 tbsp Potato flour +2 tbsp water for mixing together

Juice of 1/2 lime

Methods:

1) In a saucepan, put in raspberry, water and sugar and bring to boil. Mix well until sugar is dissolved.

2) Squeeze in the lime juice. Slowly pour and stir in the ‘potato flour mixture’ to the saucepan. The sauce should start to thicken up already. Turn off the heat and let it cool completely before serving. Serve with meringues, or other desserts together with fresh berries on top. Voila!

How to eat ‘meat’ without killing any animals / 自制面筋/ Homemade Seitan with Asian flavor

How to eat 'meat' without killing any animals / Homemade Seitan with Asian flavors

I am not a vegetarian but I cook mostly vegetarian food at home nowadays. It’s definitely a healthier option for me. Especially when there is only vegetarian dish on the table, it is so easy to get enough vegetables intake per day without any effort. Even for my husband who always seeks for his protein intake from food, I have got him a solution- my homemade seitan. I bought this vital wheat gluten flour online that contains 75% protein, which is much more than chicken that has around 30%. It is not hard to make, low cost and very versatile in cooking. With seitan, you can make every delicious dish possible meat-freely. I like the texture of seitan, firmer than a firm tofu, a little chewy and you can play around with the taste pretty much any way you like. I have made my seitan a little poultry flavor by adding five spice powder. Read that you can easily twist it by adding seaweed to make it somehow fishy and so on. A perfect option for those who want to give vegetarianism a go!

(Make 4 servings)

Ingredients:

250g Vital wheat gluten flour

250ml Vegetable broth + 1,5 litter for cooking

2 tbsp Soy sauce

1 tbsp Mushroom powder

1 tsp Five spice powder

1 tsp Sesame oil

1 tsp Garlic powder

1 tsp Minced ginger/ ginger powder

Methods:

1. Mix vital wheat gluten flour in a deep bowl with mushroom powder, five spice powder, garlic powder and ginger.

2. Add soy sauce to 250ml of vegetable broth. Slowly pour in the liquid and mix in with the flour. Knit until the dough is formed for about 5 minutes. Cover with dry cloth and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

3. After resting, knit the dough and divide it to small portions. Cut into smaller pieces as the dough will double its size after cooking.

4. In a deep pot, bring 1,5 litter of vegetable broth to boil, add in the cut dough. Cover with lid and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Let it cool down. Use immediately or keep it in refrigerator in container.

Note: Adding some broth together with cooked seitan in container prevent them from drying out. I have stored cooked seitan in my freezer as well, works just fine!

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IMG_4344This is the second time I made seitan but I always surprised myself each time when I opened the lid to check the doneness of my seitan. My god, you could never expect how big they expand! They almost ‘got out’ from my deep pot! 😀 So you wanna have a deep enough pot and not so giant looking pieces when you put them in for simmering.

I really enjoy cooking seitan as I still can eat ‘meat’ dishes without killing any lives. It makes me and my husband very happy after a satisfying meal without feeling guilty and still it is a healthy dish. At least I have not found any studies saying that this thing is not good for you. Of course, nothing is good for you when you eat too much of it. However, this is not for those who suffer celiac disease. Not this time.

Will share out recipe with seitan soon! 😉

PS: I should definitely cut them into even smaller pieces! 😛

Self-made Marzipan Babies / Organizing a baby shower/ It’s a BOY!

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Yesterday my friend Laura and I organized a baby shower to my sister, Evon who is 9 months pregnant. It was our first time to organize an event like this.  I’m glad that the party went perfectly well without having the possible fuss of sudden baby delivery. Who knows?! I also felt touched to see Evon smiled and laughed so happily, which you could tell from her face all day long. I am glad that many of our friends showed up.  As you know foreigners like us, we don’t really have many friends nor family around, since this is not the place we grew up after all. The stereo type Finnish people are quite introvert and independent that I find it difficult to win their hearts. Therefore every effort they put and time they sacrifice to us, it means so much to us. We are very thankful and will always keep it to our hearts.

Not only that our friends came, they brought drinks, decoration, and gifts like diapers, pacifiers, baby wipes, baby clothes and etc. It was so fun to see those small little things that none of us are familiar with! We also played games like guessing the tummy width and baby names. Despite the reality, my husband and I have been calling the baby ‘Kasimir’ which is a Nordic or Russian name that sounds like Cashmere. 😀 He he he… Evon and her husband have always hated it but since they never tell the baby’s name, Kasimir sounds just fine to us. For food, Laura and I made a table full of Spanish pinchos and omelets as well as Mexican tortilla chips with guacamole.  Laura also made her signature Mango cake, which I have previously modified to a Strawberry version, click here for recipe. To fit the theme, I decided to make baby decoration for the cake. It was my first time ever to make a decor like this. Luckily I have experience playing with clay as a kid, and those baby images found from Google did make me believed that I can make it too. Why not? No tools or what so ever, it’s okay! I used my imagination. 😉

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Big thanks to Ksenia and Laura for sending me the pictures! 🙂

(Make 3 babies)

Ingredients:

80g White color Marzipan

1tsp Cocoa Powder

1tsp Vodka/Gin (More for diluting)

Methods:

1. Knead marzipan until it is soften and workable. Divide in 3 parts to make 3 babies.

2. To make a baby, take 1/3 of divided marzipan and roll into a ball to make a baby head. Use your thumbs to press on the ‘face’ to resemble eye sockets. (See image below)

3. Take 1/4 from the rest of the marzipan and roll into a long strip for making legs and arms. Arms should be thinner and smaller, and legs should be thicker and bigger.

4. Make the rest of the marzipan into the shape of an egg to resemble the body part. Make the lower part of the body rounder and bigger to resemble the tummy. Use fork to make chest lines.

5. Use any left-over or steal a small piece somewhere to make a tiny nose and ears. Use knife and fork to make shapes of the fingers and toes. (Repeat step 1-5 to make another 2 babies)

6. Mix cocoa powder with vodka/gin. Use a toothpick to dip the color and draw eyes and mouth carefully.  Dilute the color by adding more vodka/gin and brush it on the body to make it looks more real.

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Be creative of baby posing! 🙂IMG_2894

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My Malaysian friends said that they looked really scary and would cause them nightmares, while my Finnish friends loved them and said: ‘How cute! How cute!’ You see, cultural differences. But hey, it will work for Halloween too! Be prepared! 😉1383184_10151896756977840_2083112697_n

Finnish Salmon Soup / Into the wild

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I am so blessed. This summer has been really warm and I finally have my summer break ‘almost’ free after 3 years of intensive studies pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. My husband and I already went to Barcelona in July and last week we even drove all the way from Helsinki up north to Norway and back, 3029 km in total. 😀 Imagine I have already had 2 holidays! Yes, I know, I’m so lucky. Barcelona was great, full of delicacies, cultures, architectures and energy! But I’ve got so tired. Don’t get me wrong, it was the excitement of the city; I was overjoyed. 🙂 But what I want to emphasise is that Finland is one of the most beautiful places in the world where you can really let go and loosen up completely, particularly during the summer time. When the sun is up, the water is cool, the sauna steaming hot, fishes jumping out from the lake, sausages grilling on the coal, and cold beers. Birds fly, wind blows. The sound of leaves, the smell of birch, period. And my phone battery ended, how perfect. That was when I finally disconnected from everybody, everything else that does not really matter. The moment of stillness, emptiness and silence is so calming that it made me feel like it was worth dying for. It was real that felt so unreal. If you can only imagine.

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Kaamanen, a village where we camped in Inari, Lapland of Finland.

My husband and I were camping along our way, mostly next to the rivers. During our road trip, we met countless reindeers and sheep on the road as expected. We also saw them crossing the river and running under the mountains, amazingly beautiful. I can tell you that we were truly back into the wild. How? We drank straight from the clear rivers, we cooked and ate organic foods (we picked wild berries and mushrooms), we washed ourselves in the rivers and we also tried to fish our dinner. 😉 On our way we visited my husband’s uncle Kari in Tervola, where his partner Sinikka has her own garden, how cool! Before we headed on to Norway, Kari gave us some fresh dill, onions, new potatoes and salmon that he caught from the Kemi river next to their home.

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Here come the new potatoes and fresh dill.

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Kari is kind, truthful and super humorous. He loves to watch Bold and Beautiful. 😀 😀 Kari and Sinikka are one of the most caring people we know. It is completely stress-free to hang out with them. ❤

Alright back to the business. What do you eat when you go into the wild? You can make sushi straight from the fresh salmon, if you happen to have sushi rice with you. 😀 Or sashimi. I happened to have fresh dill, onions, new potatoes and salmon, so it called for a Finnish classic cuisine ‘Lohikeitto’,  salmon soup. It’s like sweet and sour from China, fish and chips from UK and mac and cheese from US for examples. You can’t miss a salmon soup when you visit Finland, at least it is one of the most common Nordic dishes among the locals. It is great all year around, during winter -30 celsius or summer +30 celsius, it tastes always as good! And it’s super easy. Learn it and you won’t regret it.

(Make 2 servings)

Ingredients:

500g Salmon, skinned and cubed
6 Medium size potatoes, cubed
1 Onion, sliced
1 l High fat milk (3%)
1 bunch dill, chopped
1 tbsp Butter
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

Methods: (When you are inside a tent)

1) Melt butter in pan/pot. Add sliced onion and fry until fragrant. Add potatoes and sauté until soften (I think it is faster to cook by sauteing than boiling with a portable stove).

2) Add in salmon and sauté until it turns pink (cooked). Add in milk, salt and pepper. Cook with high heat but do not let the milk to boil.

3) Cook the soup until the potatoes are soft and good to eat. Mix in the chopped dill and served warm with rye bread.

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Note: In a proper kitchen, people cook the onion and potatoes with water, and add in salmon and dill just before serving, cream is rather optional.  By accident I found it better in taste by just adding milk instead of water. Thanks for my mother-in-law who taught me to use high fat milk for this recipe. It tasted so ‘complete’! Pure satisfaction!

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Hyvää ruokahalua!

IMG_1119Here is a picture of me preparing to cook inside of our tent. WILD! 😀

Black Forest Cake/ 一直以来最想要的蛋糕

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Last Saturday was my husband’s birthday. I needed to be at work the whole day, so I wanted to make him a cake to make it up with him. He wouldn’t have mind really; it was more for me so that I wouldn’t feel so guilty of not being available. Isn’t it so that in order to show your sincerity, when giving something you must give something that is precious/meaningful to you? So I decided to give Black Forest cake. And I’m gonna tell you why.

My sister and I were raised by my grandmother in a village in our childhood and we met our mom a few times a year. She was occupied by her work, traveling around places to make money to support our living. We missed awfully much of her most of the times. I remember there were a couple of times when my mom was around to celebrate my birthday with me. And that was one of those times when I ever got out of the village. Standing in front of a selection of colourful, beautiful cakes in the bakery, how fancy! I was offered to choose what I like, and there was always this Black Forest cake that caught my eyes. It has always been there on the shelf, in any bakeries, looking elegant and expensive, very ‘grown-up’ as well if you know how I feel.

That was what i’ve always wanted, but I never dared to pick the Black Forest cake, because I thought that it would be out of my mom’s budget for my very small birthday party. Even though it looked extremely tempting as always; and as high priced as always. I ended up picking those spongy cakes with candied house on top, because I believed that those kinds are the ones for a kid like me. I was between 5-8 years old.

Life is so much easier when you are a grown up, definitely, at least now I can make my own cake! I don’t remember when was the last time I tasted Black Forest, for sure it was more than 10 years ago! But I remember when the cherry jam, chocolate and alcohol lingered in my month, wow it was so surprisingly good! My version of Black Forest is not as sweet as from the bakery, but I like it more this way.

Ingredients for the dough:

150g 70% Baking Dark Chocolate

150g Butter, keep in room temperature

150g All purpose flour

150g Sugar

2 tsp Baking powder

1/4 tsp Salt

6 Eggs, placed whites and yolks seperately

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 175 Celsius. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave for a few seconds.

2) Beat in sugar, then mix in egg yolks one by one.

3) Add in flour and baking powder.

4) Beat egg whites with salt until shifted. Fold into the mixture with spatula.

5) Grease a baking container and place in cut baking sheet. Pour in the mixture and bake for 30- 40 minutes. (Poke with a wooden stick and make sure it comes out clean, that tells when the cake is ready)

6) Keep completely cool. Then cut horizontally into 2 layers.

7) Spread one layer of the cherry filling( see below) on the first layer of cake, and spread whipped cream on top of it. Then place the second layer of cake on top. Spread cherry filling and whipped cream again( and at the side if preferred). Decorate with whole fresh cherries.

Note: This cake is originated from Germany and it’s supposed to put in Cherry liquor, which I don’t have. 😛 Some people make thicker layer of the chocolate cake and scrambled some of it for decoration. You may also decorate it with grated chocolate. 🙂

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Ingredients for the fillings:

6 dl Whipped cream

3 tbsp Sugar

1 jar (320g) Cherry Jam

1 cup Fresh Cherries, reserved more for decorating

6 dl Brandy/ cognac

Methods:

1) Remove seeds from fresh cherries and cut them into smaller pieces.

2) Mix in brandy and cherry jam, set aside.

3) Whip cream until shifted and fold in sugar, set aside.

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Voila!

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IMG_0985Happy Birthday to Riku! ❤

Riku and his cake

It’s amazing that many of my Finnish friends and relatives have never heard of Black Forest cake before. For some reasons it is extremely popular in Malaysia. It must have been the European who introduced to us during the 15th centuries, I guess? Let me know if you happen to know about it! 🙂

Spaghetti alla Carbonara / Sweet memory from Rome

Carbonara

In 2011 my husband and I went to Rome for holiday. The city was so beautiful that we felt in love again. Walking through all the busy streets and allies just to discover local good food. What’s in Rome? Pasta and pizza! I ate a lot of those but only one of them was my favorite, that is spaghetti alla carbonara. Those chewy, perfectly cooked spaghetti with cheesy sauce packed with bacon fat, tasted like heaven! Sat next to the flowery window with a bottle of Italian white wine, it was just the perfect ending for a long day walk in Rome.

Last weekends we just had our mid-summer holiday at our friend’s summer cottage. The whole trip was about grill meat and vegetables and alcohol. Enough is enough, I have to have my pasta. My husband asked me sweetly:’ Baby can you make Carbonara, the one we ate in Rome?’ Of course. 🙂

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Barilla, the most sold pasta brand in Rome and we have one of them. The one I’m using is whole grain.

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Crispy bacon

(Serves 2 people)

Ingredients:

100 grams Spaghetti

1 pack/ 170 gram of bacon,

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Dash of black pepper

Methods:

1) Cook spaghetti in boiling water with a pinch of salt for 8-10 minutes. Dry drain, save 1/2 cup of cooking water for later used.

2) Meanwhile, fry bacon in pan with olive oil until brown. Add garlic, stir and fry until fragrance. Mix cooked spaghetti into pan and turn off the heat. Add beaten egg and parmesan cheese. Combine the egg and cheese mixture with pasta, until the cheese dissolve. Add cooking water gradually to prevent drying out. Season with salt and pepper.

3) Serve immediately. Top up with more parmesan cheese. Buon Appetito!

Carbonara ready to serve