Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Make Croutons

For reasons unknown, my ability to brainstorm by pen and paper is depressing. I sit at my desk or on the bus and I struggle to formulate my thoughts and sentences. The more effort I put into trying to construct ideas, the more tired I feel. Eventually, I fall asleep.

On the other hand, shove me on a seat in front of the computer, then miraculously my fingers move on its own. No guidance necessary. They effortlessly find their places on the keyboard and dance across until I have typed out all my ideas. Does this happen to anyone else?

My theory is that since I grew up in the computer age, I have trained my brain and hands to work efficiently as a pair when I'm typing thoughts out versus when I write with pen and paper. Because of this weakness, I have always done below average on standardized exams if they have an essay portion. My ability to spell words correctly without spell check is embarrassing. Ugh. This technology age is killing my intelligence. In an attempt to regain some brain cells, I've been reading more and writing in a notebook when I'm traveling.

Luckily for me, making croutons does not require intelligence. All you need is decent hand-and-eye coordination to cut bread into cubes and the ability to read the temperature on the oven in order to create a light crunchy delight.

Note: I enjoy croutons unseasoned and in tiny cubes. Feel free to add herbs or salt to amp up the flavor or making larger sized croutons. With larger sized croutons, you may need to leave the croutons in the oven longer. 

My favorite bread to use is sourdough.


Servings: unlimited

Bread, cut into small cubes (approx. 0.5 inch)

Bread knife
Foil/baking sheet

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Use a bread knife to cut the bread into cubes, approximately 0.5 inches. Cut off the crust if it's a crusty bread like french bread.
  3. Place the cubes on a baking sheet or foil in one layer. Let it bake in the oven for 11 to 15 minutes, depending how brown you like your croutons. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sick [Coconut Flan Recipe]

I was fighting a bad cold when I updated last week. I finally healed up and was ready to put all my energy into writing a post. Suddenly, I fell ill again with only one 100% healthy day before my next ailment. These bugs that are attempting to kill me shuts down any desire I have to write or bake. Regardless of how much I sleep, I wake up in pain and tired. During the night, I get coughing fits that fills my mouth with phlegm (note: took me awhile to figure out how to spell this word >.> ) With me dealing with every day stress in addition to fighting an illness, inspiration is not in my vocabulary.

I made this for my family awhile back when I cooked them a 3 course dinner. Dinner was a breeze and they were looking forward to Alvin's Drunken Chicken. It was good, but it wasn't what we expected. The broth was too sweet for our taste so next time, I will cut back on the sugar and Miran. Other adjustments include upping the ginger and maybe add some chili for a spicy kick?

My favorite part of the meal was this coconut flan. I enjoyed the subtle flavor of the coconut mingling with the sweet caramel. Gosh darn, the flavor profile was on point. Because I didn't use up all the caramel, I poured the rest on a parchment paper and let it cool so it hardened into sugar shards. (Those were addictive). My only issue with the flan is the texture. It was dense and not creamy. I never tried flan before so I don't know the correct texture, but I know I overcooked it so I'm not surprised if that's the reason for the lack of creaminess.

Coconut Caramel Flan
From Steaming Basics by Orathay Guillamont

7 TBSP (105 mL) water
3/4 cup (175 mL) sugar

4 eggs
6 1/2 TBSP (97 mL) sugar
1 1/3 cup (325 mL) coconut milk
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk

  1. Pour caramel ingredients (water and sugar) in a pot over medium heat and let it boil until it turns into a nice dark brown shade. Swirl pan around to distribute color (DO NOT use a spoon to stir). Once satisfy with color, immediately pour into ramekins.
  2. Whisk eggs and sugar together.
  3. Add milk and whisk well. Pour into ramekins.
  4. Steam for 15 to 20 minutes (or less) depending on the size of your container. When the edges are set and the center is slightly jiggly take it and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, keep in the refrigerator.
  5. Prior to flipping ramekin, run a knife along the sides of  flan to loosen it. Then FLIP! Enjoy~


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