Monday, May 4, 2009

The overflowing pantry

I'm a lazy person. Everytime I encounter food, I take pictures of them with a mental blog post stored away in the archives in my brain. The main reason that stopped me from blogging is the chore to "stamp" each picture with the blog's name and uploading the pictures online. It will seem quite effortless to many out there but somehow... it is not for me.

It is the same with trying out recipes. I see recipes that I want to try (my list is neverending) and I would mentally make them in my mind. So even after buying the hard-to-find ingredient(s) required in the recipe, I have yet to physically try the recipes. But I think I can also attribute it to the fact that I'm a hoarder. I like to stock up my pantry so that I know I have everything to make anything I want at a whim. Easy-to-obtain items don't count as a trip to the supermarket or grocery store can easily solve that problem. But don't count on your local supermarket or grocery store to stock up on everything required in the recipe. Often, the assembly of ingredients in a recipe requires trips to different stores and painstaking hunts for ingredient(s) or equipment(s).

Come to think of it, now I remember my poor Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs). It is still waiting for me to make the Hamburg Steak (recipe from Chubby Hubby). Now I have to find a way to use up breadcrumbs. Same goes for my Mirin, Hoisin Sauce and Hua Diao Jiu. Sighs. I've got to wait till Mum finishes her supply of Char Siew before I can try out the recipe for Char Siew from ieatishootipost. So now you have a vague idea of what a hoarder's pantry looks like, I am proud to introduce to today's additions to the pantry.

Clockwise from left: EASIYO Yogurt Maker AD$15.96, Natural Yoghurt 3 Pack AD$7.98, Reduced Fat Yoghurt 3 Pack AD$7.98, Skimmers Yoghurt 3 Pack AD$7.98, 2 Yoghurt Jars + Yoghurt Cookbook AD$9.98, Greek Yoghurt Base, Raspberry Yoghurt Base and Strawberry Yoghurt Base AD$3.71.

Mum couldn't resist buying another yoghurt maker since it was so cheap! She paid AD$25++ for hers and since it was on sale, she decided to get another. That way she can mass produce more. The yoghurts are very versatile. They can be eaten on its own, frozen to become yoghurt ice-cream or do like what Dad does. He eats the plain yoghurt with his rice. It is common in Indian cuisine as well. I like the fruit varieties. I can hear the questions ringing in people's minds. Why make yoghurt when you can buy it at any supermarket? Besides, it is not very expensive to buy it at supermarkets.

Well, my answer is that it does taste different from supermarket varieties. My family and I have been yoghurt eaters and we've tasted nearly every type of yoghurt available in the supermarkets. Homemade yoghurts are less sweet as you can control the amount of sugar to put it in. Also, homemade yoghurts are free from any additives and preservatives. No matter what the packaging says on the outside, to have a certain length of shelf life, some sort of additives or preservatives will be present in the yoghurt. Well, homemade yoghurts don't have that problem so you will be eating fresh yoghurt. Also, natural flavoured yoghurt are great since you can flavour it with anything you like. Add fruits to it for a great snack or dessert. Add jams or sauces to flavour the yoghurt and give it that swirl or marbling effect. Add herbs for a great dip and condiment. It is just so versatile. Oh. And you don't have to buy the packets of yoghurt base everytime you want to make yoghurt. Just buy one pack for starters, follow instructions in the book, and you will be able to make yoghurt!

Right: EASIYO Passionfruit Flavour Topping Fruit Squirt AD$2.98

I forgot to put it in for the "family potrait" above. Oh well. It can be the prodigal son that came home.

Glucose Syrup AD$4.36. I checked out Michael Laiskonis blog and was inspired by his use of glucose syrup in a number of his workbooks. His recipes have inspired me to hunt for locust bean gum, trimoline and xanthan. His blog is very inspiring for amateur bakers. Though he is very "scientific" and mathematical in some sense, his ideas and perseverance impressed me. Check it out if you are lacking of inspiration!

Copha Vegetable Shortening AD$2.42. Amazing! Mum has been trying to find it for ages and now she's found it. And next to it was blocks and blocks of lard! They had another type but I forgot. I was attracted by the various packaging of butter, then amazed by the varieties which led me to wonder between the differences of butter. She came to stop me from buying butter since we already have so much at home and tada. She found it! That supermarket is so cool! They have so many more "cool" stuff than the other supermarket from the same chain.

I Savoiardi. This is the remaining half pack. This is the Italian Sponge Fingers that I use for my Tiramisu. I will post pictures of my Tiramisu soon. I don't make my own Sponge Fingers because 1) I am too lazy to do so, 2) I haven't made any before and hence 3) don't know of any good recipes that I know is good for sure, and 4) this Savoiardi is from Italy and I figured that it would be quite authentic.

Close-up of the Savioardi. It has a crisp sugary shell encasing soft sponge. It is quite dry to be eaten alone but fantastic with a cuppa coffee or when soaked or brushed in liquids.

CocoaBelgian Pure Dark Belgian Chocolate AD$3.98. While shopping for chocolate, a thought struck me. When I buy dark chocolate, I simply buy any chocolate that says "Dark Chocolate". But what I failed to do in the past, was to check the Ingredients section to see how much cocoa solids it has in the chocolate. To my dismay, I realized that most cooking chocolates in the supermarket sections do not have enough cocoa solids in them. E.g. Dark chocolate has 50%-60% cocoa solids content and milk has 30%-40%. White chocolate has 0% cocoa solids and contains cocoa butter. I like to buy this popular brand of cooking chocolate. However, this particular brand's of cooking dark and milk chocolates have a minimum of 40% cocoa solids. So now what? What is the difference between dark and milk chocolate? Different amounts of sugar, milk and most importantly, COCOA SOLIDS! I was quite upset that I had to pay more for the dark chocolate variety when the dark chocolate had the same amount of cocoa solids as the milk. And the same applied for the other brands as well. Only the couverture type had a minimum of 50% cocoa solids but cost an extra arm and leg as well. The couverture type cost almost twice as much for a lesser amount. E.g. Dark chocolate cost about $3++ for 250g and the couverture would cost about $5++ for 150g.
So moral of the story; I chanced upon this Belgian Dark Chocolate, I checked the cocoa solids and saw that it has minimum 50% cocoa solids, and bought it. I'm going try to make bonbons this friday. After all the horrid assignments and tutorials are over, I need to relax. Hopefully, normal chocolate will work out fine. Anyway, I checked the fat content. Nestle Dark Baking Chocolate have 42.8g of fat while this chocolate has 34.6g of fat. Now I need to think of how to increase the fat content. Couverture chocolate, on top of having the required amounts of cocoa solids also have increased amounts of cocoa butter ranging from 36%-39%. Maybe I can replace the cocoa butter content for more fats. What do you think?

Silicon Daisy Mould AD$9.97. Omg. I'm really obsessed with learning how to make chocolate bonbons. There is so much to learn from making truffles and ganaches!

Other mould AD$2.20 for 2. The colour and price were irresistable. Never mind that it is deeper than what I wanted. Actually, I am not sure because it's got two stacked together and I haven't opened it yet. Going to check it when I wake up.

Madeleine Mould AD$17.95. This is the OTHER madeleine mould that I wasn't entirely happy with because of the size. This mould is more shallow but bigger than the mini one that I liked. Bought it out of sheer desperation.

Springform Mini Cake Pans AD$4.95 each. I've got plans for it already.

And I shall end here. Shall dream of all the goodies. Goodnight.

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