Sunday, March 28, 2010

Two Scoops of Sorbet

I would love to try making my own ice creams but without an ice cream maker, I doubt it is easy or possible at all. My sisters who have made their own perfect scoops encouraged me to get myself an ice-cream maker. The type of ice-cream maker they have is the one that needs to be stored in the freezer overnight or something like that. Personally, I think it is rather troublesome because some space in the freezer needs to be allocated for the maker. I wonder if there are other types of ice-cream makers where pre-freezing of the machine is not required. I am just clueless about home-made ice creams and the gadgets required!

Anyway, since I don't have a maker, I decided to make the equally refreshing, non-creamy cousin - sorbet or sherbet. According to the info on Wikipedia, sorbet is a frozen dessert usually made from fruit juice or puree. Chocolate or cocoa version is popular too. Some sorbets contain wine or liqueur for extra flavor. At first, I wondered what is the difference between sorbet and sherbet. Well, apparently they are the same. The term sherbet or charbet is derived from Turkish whilst the term sorbet or serbet is Persian.

The two recipes below are based on my dessert book 'Desserts All Around The Year' by Martha Day. With some mandarin oranges in my refrigerator at the time of making this sorbet (about 3 weeks ago), I decided to tweak Martha Day's original lime sorbet recipe by using the mandarins instead. These sorbets are so good and so refreshing! They are so easy and cheap to make and what's best is that they make just the perfect desserts for family and friends after a hearty meal.

Mandarin Orange Sorbet

250g cups granulated sugar
600ml water
grated rind of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
175ml freshly squeezed mandarin orange juice

1. In a saucepan, dissolve the granulated sugar in 600ml water over medium heat, without stirring. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.
2. Combine the cooled sugar syrup, lemon rind and orange juice in a bowl or jug. Stir well, taste and adjust the flavor. Add more icing sugar if you want it sweeter but do not over-sweeten. Add more lemon juice if you want it a bit more tart.
3. Pour mixture into a freezable container and freeze for 3-4 hours or until soft set. Remove from container and chop roughly. Place in food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Return to container and freeze again. Follow this step for an additional 2 times, each time placing it in the blender after it has soft set and freeze again. Blend until a smooth consistency is obtained. Best prepared 2 or 3 days ahead because of the process.

Chocolate Sorbet

475ml water
3 tbsp clear honey
115g caster sugar
75g cocoa powder
50g plain dark chocolate, broken into squares

1. Place water, honey, cocoa and sugar in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved.
2. Remove from heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. Let it cool down and freeze until soft set.
3. Here on, follow same method as step 3 in the mandarin orange sorbet recipe above. Do the freeze/blend process for 3 times to achieve a smooth consistency.

Last but not least, if you're a real ice-cream lover and love to have it home-made, you'll be truly wowed by the tantalizing array of ice-creams at Perfectscoops by Quinn. Perfectscoops is by far one of my favorite blogs dedicated only to ice-creams. I had the warmest pleasure of meeting Quinn in person during my recent bloggers' meet up in Kuala Lumpur. With a warm and infectiously bubbly personality, it is not hard to guess that this lovely gal just loves ice-creams in every way possible!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Roasted Duck Mixed Congee

Using some leftover roasted duck from one of my many Chinese New Year feasts, I managed to whip up an unsuspectingly delicious bowl of silky smooth congee (or porridge as it's more commonly called in Malaysia). By just adding some other dried stuff like scallops, oysters and such, the congee takes on a super lovely flavor and aroma! To achieve a bowl of silky smooth and thick congee quite like the version one usually gets in dim sum restaurants, there are 2 tips for home cooks which my sister-in-law imparted to me a while back. So, enough said, here are the recipe and tips.This recipe serves 2-3.

Photobucket- 130g Jasmine rice/white long-grain rice
- Approx. 2 liters water
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Shao Tsing/Hua Tiaow wine)

1. Wash rice twice - each time with clean tap water. Discard the water.
2. * Place rice in a pressure cooker, pot or rice cooker.
3. Add the water, cooking oil (tip #1) and cooking wine.
4. Leave to soak for 30-40 minutes (tip #2).

While the rice is soaking, prepare:
- Approx. 300g store-bought roasted duck, cut into small pieces
- 4 pieces dried scallops, wash and soak for 10 minutes, then break into strands
- 4 pieces dried oysters, wash and soak for 10 minutes, then chop into small bits
- 3 pieces dried shitake mushrooms, wash and soak for 30 minutes or till soften, trim off stems and cut into strips
- 2 pieces dried black wood's ear/cloud's ear, wash and soak for 30 minutes or till soften, trim off 'heads' and cut into thin strips
- 30g groundnuts, remove skin and split in 2 (cooks faster)
- 130g minced pork or chicken

After the rice has been soaked for the required time, add in all the ingredients above into the pot. Cook until the congee is thick but not dry, and smooth. If the water evaporates and the congee becomes too thick while cooking, some hot water can be added in. Do not add too much water at a time as this will dilute its flavor.

* For faster cooking time, use a pressure cooker. Using a pot over a stove or an electronic rice cooker is fine too. If using a pot, clay pot is the best. I have a phobia of pressure cooker, so I don't own one. I cooked my congee in my much-loved automatic rice cooker. With automatic rice cooker, the heat will turn off by itself after a certain point when the congee has been cooking for long and as it gets thicker. What I did was to let it rest for a few minutes before pressing the 'cook' button again as I wanted my congee to cook longer and soften even more. Using the rice cooker, my cooking time was approx. 1 hour to 1.15 hour.

For garnish:
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped spring onion
- Crispy fried shallots (thinly slice 10-12 shallots and fry in hot oil in a wok/pan over medium low heat till golden brown. the amount of oil should be enough to cover the shallots)
- Chopped/sliced fresh chilies (normally congee is not accompanied by chilies, but I much prefer mine with them)