Keep Stirring

#haiku083
She slowly stirs the
simmering stew as it
relaxes her soul.
#joyofcooking #calmingeffect #mindofacook

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Mixed Mushroom & Black Truffle Risotto

This slow and steady stirring that is required of a perfect and creamy risotto is very soothing to me. Even though I was making this while teaching my cooking classes, I still felt a sense of calmness in the midst of the chaotic fun …

… And #haiku083 came to me right after class. 

Mixed Mushroom and Black Truffle Risotto
Serves 2 – 3 (as Starter portions)

Ingredients:

100g Arborio Rice
20ml olive oil
1/2 medium size onion, peeled and finely chopped
75g fresh mixed mushrooms, roughly sliced (ex. Porcini, white and brown button mushrooms, etc)
5g fresh thyme leaves
50ml dry cooking white wine
360ml – 450ml chicken or vegetable broth
100ml water
20g unsalted butter
1 spoonful of Black Truffle Paste (adjust amount according to your taste)
30g grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
Fresh chives, finely chopped as garnish

Directions:

  1. In a small soup pot, bring the chicken or vegetable broth and water to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer. Your broth should be hot and right next to the pan that you will be cooking your risotto in.
  2. Heat up the olive oil in a wide and deep saucepan or pot. Fry the onion over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add in all the mushrooms with the thyme and continue to cook for another 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Take out half of the mushroom mixture, set aside and keep warm.
  4. Add in the rice and stir. Let the rice toast in the oil and to absorb the mushroom flavours. Let the rice cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
  5. Add in the cooking white wine and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes to allow the alcohol to cook away.
  6. Start to add the simmering stock a little at a time, using a ladle. Stirring constantly and allow the rice to absorb the stock before adding another ladle full of broth. Continue this process for about 18 minutes, stirring after each addition of broth. The stirring allows the starch in the rice to release to create a creamy and thick texture.
  7. When most of the broth has been absorbed, test the texture of the rice. It should be tender with a bit of firmness inside it. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and a spoonful of the black truffle paste. Stir to mix well. Add in the grated parmesan cheese and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  8. Divide the creamy risotto onto two plates. Top with the remaining mushroom, chopped fresh chives and drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can grate more parmesan cheese on top. Serve immediately.

Sudden Cravings

I had a sudden cravings for scones a couple days ago. Warm, buttery and moist scones, fresh out of the oven and nothing like those Starbucks stoney scones. Hong Kong is not a place for you to find really awesome baked goods. I don’t quite know what it is but all the muffins, scones and cakes here just don’t have the soft spongy texture and wholesome taste as those I have tried in North America and Europe.

I like to bake but not as much as I like to cook. Maybe because baking requires precision and I lack that in me. Every time I bake is up to chance and I’d have to say I usually have a 50/50 chance of getting it right. I have had plenty times where my chocolate chip cookies melted into a puddle of goo instead of nicely shaped separated chewy rounds. My cakes sometimes get super dense in the middle and have this rubbery outer crust to them even though I follow the exact same recipe as the last time I baked them, which turned out to be super moist and fluffy. My baking success depends on whether the baking angels were with me on that day.

They were with me on Tuesday after work. I decided to have my kind of happy hour – baking AND drinking at the same time. For the regular cook and baker, you should have all the basic ingredients you need to make yourself some comforting scones – flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and butter. And whatever you have in your pantry – nuts, blueberries, cinnamon, dried fruits –  you can throw them in. I had some frozen cranberries and lemons, so I made Cranberry and Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze.

I don’t usually bake in big batches because I believe baked goods should only be savoured in small quantities or else you will not appreciate them. Here’s my recipe for 8 mini scones.

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Ingredients:

1cup + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar (brown or white. I used a mixture of both)
zest of 1 lemon
6 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter (roughy 85 g)
1/4 cup milk 
1/2 cup frozen cranberries

Glaze: 1/2cup icing sugar + juice of half a lemon – whisk together until combined. 

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking sheet / parchment paper.

2. Combine all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl, including the lemon zest. Stir to mix well. 

3. Cut the chilled butter into cubs and add to the dry ingredients. Rub the butter with your hands into the flour to make a sand-like crumble mixture. You should have some big and small pieces of butter throughout. 

4. Add the milk into the crumble mixture, bit by bit, forming a loose dough. Depending on the humidity of that day, you might not need to add in all the milk. Once the mixture comes together, tip it onto a floured board and gently form the dough into a ball. Pat it flat a bit and put frozen cranberries onto one side of the dough and fold the other half over. Gently knead the dough and work the cranberries in so that they are more or less evenly distributed. Sprinkle more flour on the board and dough if it starts to stick. 

5. Shape the dough into a flat round that is around 1 – 1.5 inches thick. Cut it into 8 triangular pieces. Place them on the baking sheet and brush lightly with milk.

6. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking try for 5 minutes before transferring the scones to a baking rack to further cool down. 

7. Let the scones to cool at least 20 minutes before you drizzle the lemon glaze on top. The glaze will set in about 30-45 minutes. Serve them warm with butter and fruit jam of your choice.

ps. I baked them for my boyfriend so he could take them to golfing the next day. But he never get to try any of the scones because my dad and his parents took them to golfing instead. At least these scones were eaten the way I intended them to. :p

Some thoughts on Haiku writing …

After all this time, I have finally realised that I am no blogger. I admire those who can upkeep their blogs regularly with awesome and interesting content. I apologise for the infrequent posts of this blog.

I am glad to say that I am still keeping up with my 100 Day Project of haiku writing. It is #078 today! Can you believe it? After seventy eight days of writing, I do believe I have improved a bit but I also found out that I tend to go back to very similar themes. Is hard to train your brain to write in the fictional world – the make believe. It is quite powerful that your mind can create an entirely different world of your choosing, but it is also a very scary thing.

The question of “What are you going to write about today?” is rather daunting for me. I was taught in school that I should write about things that I know. So even to this day, I draw from what I have seen, what I have heard and what I have experienced to write my daily haiku. But that didn’t get me very far. There were days where I tried to write 3 lines about a murderous thought. But I have never killed anyone before. Bugs, plenty times, but a person, not in this life time. Thank goodness I still have some imagination within me.

“If not for the heart and imagination, the world of fiction would be a pretty seedy place.” ~ Stephen King

And I think this applies to all sorts of writing not just fiction. Haiku and other forms of poetry being one of them.

Here are a few of my attempts to write a more fictional-based haikus. (Please be kind. Don’t laugh).

#haiku036
The door left ajar,
Every night, for a lost soul
she yearns badly for
#stray #darkness #longing

Here I was trying to evoke a sense of lost and lust. I imagined a woman, laying in bed, in the dark, waiting for someone who she knew would never return to her. What kind of images popped up in your head after reading this?

#haiku045
Eyes covered by their 
Stoney hands, weeping, waiting.
Look at them, don’t blink. 
#theweepingangels #sallysparrow #blinkandyouaredead #doctorwho #thetenthdoctor

Okay, I cheated a bit here. I used my favourite Doctor Who’s episode, Blink, for this haiku. But seriously, those bloody angels are creepy!

#haiku071
In the haze of night
he sprung out from fertile ground
beaming innocence.
#mystical #blankslate #motherearth #birth

My thoughts here are mainly based on nature’s purity with a twist of fantasy thrown in. What kind of creature did you see birthing from the ground?

That’s my little update. Speak soon … hopefully very soon.