A for Apple

Apple Pie Cake, anyone?

"An Apple a day keeps the doctor away." This is an age old wisdom that every child would have learnt in his school. However, do you know the many health benefits behind this modest fruit besides knowing it tastes sweet and crunchy?

According to research study, consuming one to two apples a day will reduce the risk of heart disease. This study shows that daily apple consumption may help to lower cholesterol levels and two markers associated with plaques and inflammation in artery walls. If you are interested to read more about this, you may visit this site.

Not only does eating an apple reaps tons of health benefits, the scent of green apples was found to relieve migraines too. Read about the research through this link.

Apple contains Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and C. It also contains Fibre, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium and Zinc. To learn more about the good stuff found in an apple, visit this site.

For those into traditional chinese medicine, the apple helps to balance the lungs and intestines. It will also aid in detoxing your livers after a night of drinking. 

The humble Apple was also on the recent news due to its involvement with the "Dirty Dozen". Nope, I'm not referring to any fruits hooligans. The Dirty Dozen refers to a group of fruits and vegetables most contaminated by pesticide use. More information is available on this site. Therefore, to avoid introducing excessive pesticides into your diet while continuing to enjoy your apples, you are advised to purchase organic apples.

Hope you enjoyed my little post about Apples. Eat wisely, live healthy!


Store in a Cool, Dry Place

My Vitamin C tablets.

Does this statement sound familiar to you? Recently I had to collect my monthly drug dosage of vitamins from the pharmacy and I was advised by the pharmacist to store my drugs in a Cool, Dry place. I was quick to inform her that I have been storing them in the refrigerator for the longest time. First she greeted my ignorance with extreme shock (imagine the emoticon :O) then she continued to remind me to store the vitamin C tablets in a cool, dry place. All right, I'm not trying to be funny. Could someone please advise me if such a place exists in Singapore with average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius around the year and a relative humidity that will only make my bread doughs very, very happy?

Doubting the pharmacist, I went on to do a little Googling on my own as it takes more than just an advice from a professional to convince me to stop storing my ascorbic acid in a Cool but not Dry place. Well, it's not hard to find the information if every single site repeats the same mantra of "Store in a cool, dry place". Why is there a need to do so? Vitamins degrade and lose their effectiveness if they are stored properly. At the end of the day, I will simply be popping little orange pills that taste sour. Heat and moisture are not best friends of drugs. According to this site, storing my vitamins in the refrigerator means allowing condensation to enter the packaging each time I open it. This will lead to vitamin deterioration. 

Hope this little piece of information helps you as well. Live healthy and be happy!


Testing Tiramisu recipes

I was requested to conduct a class on Tiramisu making for Father's Day. So I had to test out my recipe before the actual day.

Over the years, I have tried and tested a lot of Tiramisu recipes but none seemed to find its way into my Red Book (my book of treasured recipes).

So I have done some research on the recipes and figure out how the variations in recipes affect the end product.

Types of alcohol used
Before I got my hands on a bottle of Marsala wine, I was making Tiramisu with Rum. Rum is fine as a decent flavour to pair all cakes. But the sweet aroma of Marsala wine will produce a much tastier dessert. So I reckon it is worth all the effort. If you cannot consume alcohol, you have to find Rum extract. Using any other types of liqueur substitute will just spoil the overall taste.

Instant coffee vs Espresso
For the convenience of most bakers, we will use instant coffee. However, don't forget coffee is an integral part of this dessert. Tiramisu means "Pick me up" in Italian. Hence, the coffee used for dipping the savioardi sponge fingers must be a good strong coffee preferably espresso.

Homemade sponge fingers or store bought savioardi biscuits
Although I'm an advocate of making everything myself, in this case I love the Italian sponge fingers. Somehow the aromas that they have included in their sponge fingers make them tastier than homemade. Till I figured out what those aromas are, I'm sticking to store bought.

Whipping cream or Egg whites
Unless you are saving those egg whites for your Macarons making, folding in both whipped cream and whisked egg whites add lightness to the recipe. It also adds volume to your mascarpone mix. Thus, you could use only 250g of Mascarpone for 8 servings.

Egg yolks mixture
I have recentl chanced upon a good article about Tiramisu making using the zabaione (sabayon) method. Instead of simply whisking the egg yolks and sugar till thickened, I whisked it over a Bain Marie. This helps to cook the egg yolks. I was rather pleased that the final product was light and airy. On top of that, it aas much more stable. I could keep the dessert in the fridge without worrying about raw eggs inside.

Cocoa powder or chopped chocolate
Tiramisu is never complete without a generous sprinkling of cocoa powder. Some lush recipe included chopped chocolate instead. After trying both recipes, I have decided to include the both. The chopped chocolate adds the extra lushness to the dessert. The cocoa powder helps to cover up the parts of dessert that the chocolate missed.

After all the talk, here is the wonderful article on Tiramisu (recipe included). Enjoy!


Deconstructing the Snickers Bar

The trend in Molecular Gastronomy in deconstructing classic recipes has finally gotten to me. Yes, I was craving for a Snickers bar. And yes, I am not spending another cent on store bought chocolate bars ever again. And yes, I was feeling too lazy to dip my brownies into chocolate ( although I really love everything coated with chocolate). So, I was inspired by the deconstruction of desserts. It presents classic desserts in a new way. Refreshing or catastrophically. And hence, my feeble attempt at one of my favourite chocolate bars.

I was trying to reconstruct the memories of eating a Snickers bar. The chocolate coating, the salty peanuts and the chewy marshmallow centre bring together the entire experience. Therefore, I recreated the marshmallows by simply whipping up a batch at home.  Not forgetting the peanuts, I opted for the sugar- coated version as I wish to introduce my favourite salted caramel sauce. Being a chocolate lover and bringing together the chocolate bar experience, I have thrown in several pieces of chocolate cake cubes. To top it all off, I drizzled in the hit chocolate sauce.

Verdict: what's not to like about a chocolatey, gooey mess of marshmallows and peanuts?

Sugar high.


The Ultimate Choc

I guess most of us are posed with the problem of leftover bananas on our kitchen counter. And so on the other day, Mr K decided to give a banana to make him a dessert. Well easy I would usually make banana cake or muffin. As you can see, it's all so boring after a while.

Therefore while the banana was screaming "Eat Me!" for a couple of days. I started to search the internet looking for inspiration to this banana problem (ok, it's a good problem). There is an abundance of banana cakes in the market. And I simply grown to dislike the overpowering banana flavour which is a result of too much flavouring. But I love chocolate. Simple banana-choco combination never fail to please me. Besides, what's not to like about Chocolate desserts?

If you do a quick search of banana brownies, you will find that most bakers have mashed up the banana and incorporated them into the brownies. However, I would love to give the banana a chance to be presented beautifully on the cake. Solution cut cross sections of them and placed on top of the batter.

The result? Simply soft banana pieces in every bite. The subtle fragrance of the  banana lends moisture to the brownies while baking. And of course the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the divine dark chocolate brownie. Therefore, I named this dessert - The Ultimate Choc (pronounced as "Shock" in French). Enjoy!