Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chinese new year 2017

Its that time of the year again. The annual endeavor to make my favorite Chinese new year treat, pineapple tarts. This year, I did both open faced tarts and pineapple shaped ones made to look like pineapples, using guidelines from Mrs Leong's cookbook.

The pineapple filling was spiced up with Star Anise, Cinnamon and Cloves. There is a huge difference between homemade filling and store bought ones. Like what a noted baker said, good bread is difficult to find in a store, but easy to make at home. This hold true for me as far as pineapple tarts are concerned. In Singapore, it is unbelievably expensive to buy commercially made ones and yet, it just doesn't taste good as home made.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Making coffee from scratch
Fresh Arabica coffee berry

Depulped in their muscillage


Coffee beans in their parchment after a few days in the sun

Dehusking by hand. 
Green coffee after parchment removal

The finished product after roasting

I had a fun time processing two kilos of fresh coffee berries from a colleague. It was a tough job processing the berries by hand but the effort was very interesting and exciting.

To speed up the process, I used a tool for cracking crab shells and completed the task in an hour. The beans were then washed with water. This "gilling basah" wet processing is used in Indonesia as compared to the dry processing methods used in other parts of the world.

The beans were then fermented for a day and then sun dried over a week. The dried beans must now be dehusked to remove the parchment covering the bean. It was yet another tedious job doing it manually. I resorted to using a garlic mincer to crack the parchment.

The result are the green beans which are
 roasted to make the coffee beans we buy at the supermarket.

As soon as the beans were roasted and cooled, I couldn't wait to make myself a cup of coffee. I can only say that the taste of that coffee was extremely satisfying. The wife liked it and that meant more to me than anything else.

The yield from 2 kilos of coffee berries was slightly over a 100g of roasted beans. That certainly gave me a new found appreciation for the hard work put in by the coffee farmers. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Liberica coffee from jie Coffee

Liberica coffee

I was at Chong Pang this morning and was surprised to find this stall set up at the market. The couple manning the stall was very enthusiastic about their coffee. 

It was unusual for a small stall like this showing fresh Coffee berries, green coffee and their coffee products. As I have always wanted to taste fresh coffee berries, I stopped to chat with the vendor who answered my queries enthusiastically.

He told me the coffee was Liberica. The berries were huge and so was the green coffee. After sampling some of his coffee, I bought 250g from him. He obliged me with some green coffee. I liked the coffee. It has been said that Arabica beans are the best but a lot more goes into making a good cup than just the bean itself. 

Bumping into this stall was certainly a coincidence as a colleague of mine brought back some fresh Arabica berries for me to process. I will be fermenting the beans, dehulling and drying them and finally roasting.

I will also be planting some of the beans and hopefully harvest them in a few years time. So getting the Liberica berries was certainly a bonus.

Liberica berries and green coffee

Jie Coffee
Jie coffee contact details

Monday, May 05, 2014

The spice of Life

Selection of Spices from Spice Voyages: Whole Mace, Gourmet Cloves and Black Pepper. All products from PT Agri Spice are HALAL certified.

 Clove essential oil, Nutmeg essential oil and Patchouli essential oil
Cinnamon Vanilla sugar, Clove Vanilla sugar and Vanilla sugar
 Selection of spice including unusual oblong Nutmeg and Long Pepper
Homemade Chai Tea mix

As I walked  towards the Spice Voyages booth at FHA2014, I heard some ladies calling out my name. In that instant, I was caught between utter surprise and moved by the gentle gesture of friendship expressed by the Spice ladies of PT Agri Spice Indonesia.

I first met these ladies at FHA 2010 when I first bought some of their Green Coffee from various parts of Indonesia. For those who really know coffee, Indonesia coffee is one of the best in the world. This is due to the unique set of God given conditions for growing great coffee, Grown at higher altitudes in rich, fertile volcanic soil in lush shady areas, is there anywhere else in the world where these conditions come together.

Indonesia is located at the Pacific ring of fire where the SEA tropical rain forest is twice as old as the Amazon rain forest. Having roasted the Green coffee from these Spice ladies, my personal opinion is that it is the best in the world, contrary to some marketeers who scoff at the quality of Indonesian coffee.

I usually buy my supply of Vanilla beans from these ladies and they were kind enough to give me some spices which I have put to good use by making Chai Tea,

PT Agri Spice Indonesia
Klaten 57437 PO Box :221
Jawa Tengah Indonesia
(All products are HALAL certified)

Thanks!! Spice Ladies. Looking forward to seeing you again in FHA 2016

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pineapple tarts 2014

It is that time of the year again, where I indulge in my favorite Chinese New Year snack. Come to think of it, this is the only CNY snack that I love and cannot seem to get enough of. I never fail to sample that at every home I visited, especially if they were completely homemade. People usually make their own pastry but settle for commercially made filling. I find commercially made Pineapple filling  too chewy and cannot be compared to freshly prepared homemade filling.

For this year, I added some pork lard to the dough and I have to say, the pastry turned out quite well. In hindsight, I should have done some research into rendering lard first but even though I had not done the rendering correctly, I did get lard that was snow white. Correctly rendered lard is through wet rendering but I missed out on that. Fortunately for me, I started with the frozen fat which helped to lower the rendering temperature. The next time I do some lard rendering, I am going to find myself some leaf lard and do it the correct way.

Now, what should I do with the rest of that lard? Perhaps I should take a leaf(pun intended) from my cousin and do some char kway teow at home.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

May Day Guiness Loaf

There was some leftover Stout after my wife made Guiness Beef Pies for dinner last evening. It was a good excuse to use the remainder for making bread. For this bake, I used my basic white recipe which is 70% hydration. The Poolish was made last night with 300g of flour. Waiting for it to cool down to eat with some butter and coffee for afternoon tea.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

 A little bit of automation to keep the fire going while I was busy preparing the dough for the Pizza
 Fire going strong.
 6 balls of Pizza dough resting before they are shaped
Pizza cooking in the beehive. The intense heat cooked the Pizza in minutes.

Wood Fired Oven Pizza

The recent weather was possibly the worst time to have an outdoor party and yet we threw caution to the wind and just went ahead with the plan to make pizzas in our wood fired beehive oven. Two days earlier, I had checked the weather forecast for the week and it was supposed to rain every day of the week.

The day before the party, I came home drenched as I was caught in a very heavy downpour. The heavy drenching made me confident that the following day would be dry enough for lighting up my oven. (It turned out eventually that that day was the only dry day in the week.)

I decided not to bake any bread as I wanted to focus on the Pizza. I made some improvements in my loading of the Pizza using a flat metal sheet. The Pizza was assembled on this sheet which can then be transported with ease. The Pizza attempt was a great success as our guests finished off all the 6 Pizzas.