Chicken chow mein

I probably will be cooking more of Chinese food this month and cooking through a cookbook will definitely solve my problem of having to think of meals to prepare (and I really think hard). So it’s Ching-He’s Chinese Food Made Easy again because I love the dishes listed in the book and they are all easy to prepare and the portions are small ((2 -4). Having just come back from a baking course and hungry like a big bad wolf, I just want to make an easy meal. So it’s chicken chow mein to the rescue.

I will be attempting most of the dishes and tweaking a little to give my own twist to it.

The flavour from this dish comes mostly from the five-spice powder which is the seasoning for the chicken. In the original recipe, red pepper is called for but since the hubs and I are not fans of it, I didn’t add the slices. I know it adds colour to the dish so in future to achieve the more colourful look, I would add slices of carrots instead. Also, I found the noodle a little dry and bland and added one tablespoon of dark soy sauce to it. Perhaps, I could also add some tablespoons of chicken stock if I have it on hand.

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CSCA AB Lesson #3 – Cakes

Our lesson today was on Cakes but before we got down to business, Chef told or rather, warned us to wear something that we don’t really want and dark as we would be doing chocolates (think ‘mess’). On top of this, we have to be on task or else out we go. I guess it was about tempering of the chocolates since precision is important and tempering chocolate is affected by the temperature. I can’t wait for that class um..because I have NOT done that before.

As a good student (ahem), I read up a little about cakes. Basically, we have butter cake, genoise (sponge cake), angel cake and pound cake (I believe there are more). For each one, there are different properties and before I could consolidate my thoughts (yesterday night), I kind of gave up and retired for the night. Too much information and I figured I would need more time to understand. Too much science for me…

Chef Elise explained a little about cakes and how to actually cover the cake with the buttercream. We were not going to make American type of buttercream which consists of butter and icing sugar (phew!) but we were going for French buttercream which uses whole eggs and egg yolks. Her method is different from the one I attended at LCB. This method uses cake ring and to me, better and more manageable once you get the technique right.

When it comes to choosing, I chose the one that I have not had any experience in. I went for coffee praline cake which is made up of almond praline (what on earth is that?), coffee buttercream (familiar but the method employed is so different) and spice cake (exotic!).

To tell you the truth, I spent a long time before I got down to baking. I was reading the recipe, going through mentally what the process would be like and trying to imagine what the finished product would look like. In the end, I was the last to ensemble my ingredients and I panicked. By the time I did my cake batter, all the oven space was used up = last one to go into the oven. Thankfully, Chef came over a while later and arranged the trays again and squeeze mine in.

Next was the almond praline and I had no idea what it was. By the time I got my ingredients (got the wrong ingredients and had to redo) and wanted to go over to the stovetop, there was no more space left! *cry!* I’m way behind others!

In the end, it was okay. When the praline was almost done and in the cooling stage, I finally understood what it was and was able to picture my cake.

When it was done, it was perfect (to me). It was a piece of art. Chef was happy, my classmates complimented it and came over to take pictures. The baker was happy and chef came over…twice to ask me if I’m happy. Of course I am. I’m ecstatic!

I am weakest with cakes. I dislike assembling and decorating it yet I know it would be totally satisfying once done well. I need to bake more cakes. =)

Lynn's coffee praline cake

Mariela's Tiramisu

Chef Elise's cake

A classmate's cake

The conversion of cups to ounce has really slowed me down. I spent quite some time doing Math! Doesn’t help that the  weighing scale is in ounces rather than in grams!

Remember: 1/2 cup of butter = 4 ounces