Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Pure Maple Syrup Ice-cream (No egg recipe)

I think I have discovered a favourite way to make ice-cream. Alice Medrich, how utterly talented is she? Her recipes in ‘Pure Dessert’ yet again tell me that minimal ingredients and preparation still can yield very good results.

You see, I am not a big fan of making custard-based ice-cream. I just cannot bother to do it in hot weather. The texture, too, feels a little bit heavy after freezing. It was not until I discovered Alice Medrich’s recipe that I’ve managed to make ice-cream a bit more often. Her recipe contains no eggs, just cream and flavouring ingredients. It results in lighter and softer product. Even after sitting in the freezer for a lengthy period, the ice-cream texture is still soft-serve like, which I totally adore.

On Sunday I made ice-cream with just cream, a bit of milk, a pinch of salt and pure maple syrup. I used the organic dark maple syrup (Grade B) we carried all the way from the US. The deep, dark caramel flavours of maple syrup really shined through. It was such a marvellous recipe, a keeper!

(I took the photos when it was really hot. It melted so FAST! ARG!)

Pure Maple Syrup Ice-cream – the Recipe

(Based on “Pure Dessert”)

Note: because there are no yolks to thicken the ice-cream, it tends to melt quicker. I have an idea from Momofuku Milk Bar’s cereal ice-cream recipe that a bit of gelatine may help, but I have not tested it yet.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup dark organic maple syrup (Grade B if you can get it)
Scant 1/8 tsp salt
600ml heavy cream

Heat the milk in a saucepan until barely simmer. Set aside to cool down to lukewarm, then pour in maple syrup and salt. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the cream, and chill overnight.

The next day, freeze the ice-cream according to your ice-cream maker’s instructions. I’ve found that with this recipe, extra churning time is required (but I got really hot and humid weather, too).

Serve soft or freeze in the freezer until hard to scoop. If the ice-cream gets too hard, leave to stand for a few minutes until scoopable.

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Tamarind and Fresh Ginger Cake – an Asian inspired affair

I know, I know its been so long here. I have been out of touch with this blog.

But of touch with this blog.

But there have been so many things going on at the same time.
A lot of baking, shooting for the book with Chi Anh. A job change (which I love!). And an impending trip to Europe (tonight!). It’s all happening and sometimes I feel overwhelmed.
Gratefulness is what I feel throughout this whole time. I think without Chi Anh, I would have almost given up. We both have gone through an incredible period of excitement, pain and even heartbreak. It’s incredible how you can share so much with a person you haven’t met. Real connection is beyond physical distance. We talk most days, and her presence in my life is so real and cannot be replaced. Thank you, buddy!

And of course, my family, who has happily eaten far more cakes than what is considered to be healthy. Nice cakes, yes. And also the not-so-good one (why did I think of making a tofu based cake? It was a horror story!).

Of course, there are unexpected surprise, too. This tamarind and fresh ginger cake was inspired as I did a lot of research and ‘soul searching’ for my book. It plays on the tangy sweet-sour flavour of tamarind and the spicy warmth of ginger. The cake is really lovely, somewhat a cross of gingerbread cake and lemon pound cake. Moist and soft crumbs…
I almost forgot about it totally, until last weekend when Mr. B and I got a chance to try the amazing gingerbread cake with smoked maple butter at Pope Joan. I can’t say my cake is the same as that one, but if you like gingerbread, this is for you….


Tamarind and fresh ginger cake with lime glazing

Inspired by two incredible bakers -David Lebovitz and Dan Lepard.


30g dried tamarind paste
150ml water
125g unsalted butter
80g dark brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
30g fresh ginger
100g icing sugar
Juice of ½ lime
20g chopped glace ginger (optional)


Preheat the oven to 170C. Butter and line the base and side of the loaf pan (17cm size, which is half of the standard loaf pan you can normally buy).
Put the tamarind paste into a small sauce pan with 150ml of water. Bring to a gentle boil, and mash up the tamarind. Pick out the hard tamarind bit. Peel the ginger, then finely grate them into the butter mixture.
Whisk in the butter until it is completely melted, leave the mixture to cool. Add in the egg, a pinch of salt and sugar mixture and mix well to combine.
Sift flour and baking soda to the butter and tamarind mixture, mix until the mixture just incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake the loaf for 35-45 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean if pieced in the middle of the cake. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
Making the icing: sift the icing sugar in a bowl, gradually add the lime juice and whisk well to have a thick and smooth consistency. Adjust the consistency with extra icing sugar or lime juice.
When the cake is cool, drizzle the icing on top of the cake. Arrange the chopped crystallised ginger on top if using.

Walnut, tamarind and fresh ginger cake: adding 50g coarsely chopped toasted walnuts to the cake batter before baking.
Spiced tamarind cake: omit the ginger and add ½ teaspoon of ground allspice to the cake mixture.

Note: You can bake a full-size loaf by doubling the ingredients.

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{Salad days} Viet-Russian Potato Salad & Chicken cabbage salad with tamarind dressing

Did I tell you my discovery this summer? Salad! Yeap, the simple, humble salads. I used to dislike salads.

Growing up in Vietnamese food culture, I was spoiled with the choices of veggies for meals. But most of the veggies are cooked, and we just did not embrace salad much.

 This (already gone, technically) summer, I made a switch and developed a “thing” for main meal salads. Initially, the effort was to get 5 serves of vegetables in my diet. Since then, I have developed a love for the refreshing and light flavours and texture of different kinds of salad. My favourites are chickpeas and cabbage coleslaw, wrapped with a warm tortilla for lunch. It is delicious and filling without making me feel sleepy after lunch.

 Gardening, too, has made me appreciate vegetables even more. Home-grown tomatoes, oh my god. How sweet, juicy and pretty are they? My summer staple has been quinoa, toasted bread cubes and chopped tomato salad. We have enjoyed it almost every summer lunch

Unfortunately, main meal salads are still a no go at our family dinner table. It must come from habits. But certain someone regards fresh vegetables as raw and dull *sigh*. (This comes from a household when even lettuce is cooked to dead!!) I have sneaked in salad here or there though. Tomato salad with pasta, burghul salad with grilled meat, zucchini “carpaccio” … It is getting there, somewhere. I just hope vegetables will get more love as time goes by.

So, here they are. My two favourite salads. The first one is a crowd pleaser, a creamy potato salad. I’ve sneaked in some blanched broccoli for good measure. The second one, chicken cabbage salad with tamarind dressing, is my staple. I love the natural sweetness and tartness of tamarind here. A departure from the much loved Vietnamese cabbage chicken salad (goi ga), but in a good way.

Viet-Russian Potato Salad
Salad Nga (Russian salad), as we call it in Vietnam. This is a favourite when I grew up. You won’t find a party without it. I’ve change the recipe a bit, adding broccoli and edible petals from my garden. Light, creamy, tasty and inspiring.
5 large potatoes (I used a creamy flesh variety)
5 small gherkins, finely diced
Kernels from a corn cob, lightly boiled
½ red capsicum, de-seeded and diced finely
4 tablespoon mayonnaise (low-fat works fine)
4 tablespoon sour cream (low-fat works fine)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
100g brocolli, cut into florets, blanched
(optional) 60g of Vietnamese style meat loaf, diced
Peel the potato and boil them in salted water until soft. Drain and mash.
Combine the mashed potatoes with cooked corn kernels, diced gherkins, diced Vietnamese meat loaf (optional), mayonnaise and sour cream, salt and paprika. Adjust seasoning to your taste.
Mount the potato mixture onto a serving plate. Decorate with blanched broccoli and edible petals if you have any.

Chicken, cabbage and pear salad with tamarind dressing
I ate this for lunch very often. They make great filling for rice paper rolls, too.
Ingredients (serve 2-3)
¼ small purple cabbage
1 pear
60g sesame seeds, toasted lightly
100g cooked chicken breast, shredded
Tamarind dressing
2 tablespoon tamarind paste (found in Asian shops)
4 tablespoons warm chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon honey grain mustard
1-2 teaspoons raw sugar
2tsp salt
Herbs – chopped coriander, parsley etc.
Clean the cabbage, and shred finely. Slice the pear (peel the skin beforehand if it bothers you).
Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients together. Whisk to combine. Taste to see if it needs adjustment.
Toss the cabbage, chicken and pear with the dressing mixture. Just before serving, mix in the herbs and toasted sesame seeds.

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