Friday, February 23, 2007

Sweet Eats :: Caneles

I love petit-fours. I'm not sure if it's their miniature size or the don't-feel-as-guilty-having-more-than-one factor that attracts me. Nevertheless, I was prompted to make these little caneles the other day. Caneles date back to the 18th century, a specialty from Bordeaux in the south-west of France made from a batter using eggs, milk, rum & vanilla. A brotherhoood was even set up in the 1980's to protect the traditions of this little cake! Don't you just love that idea?!

Caneles are pretty easy to make. Traditionally they are made in fluted copper moulds (of various sizes), but since my baking budget doesn't stretch that far, I made them in mini silicon canele moulds that I picked up at a kitchenware supplier in Paris. Apparently the batter is best made in advance & left in the fridge to rest for at least 24 hours. Using the recipe over at C&Z, most of the work came in preparing the silicon moulds, greasing them & sprinking them with icing sugar so I would get the crispy caramelization happening on the outside. And then it's just a matter of waiting patiently for them to bake in a very hot oven...they take a while depending how dark & crispy you like them. Luckily they are pretty impressive to watch during baking cos they rise up out of the moulds like souffles, only to sink back down again.

What you end up with is a little cake that's dark & crispy-chewy on the outside, but moist and custardy on the inside with a lovely rummy vanilla flavour. They are delicious and you can't stop at one...or two! These cakes keep pretty well...but they never last long enough in our household for that! N

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sweet Year :: Have a piggy new year!

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! A weekend of feasting, celebrating and giving of lucky red money packets has just passed in this Year of the Pig. And 2007 is an extra special year...not just any old piggy's the Year of the Golden Pig! Apparently, this "golden" year only swings around every 60 years (or 600 years, depending what you read!) Subsequently, a baby boom is expected in China as it's believed any child born this year will be extra lucky & prosperous!

I just like to have a giggle thinking that I'm going to give birth to my own little piggy in April! There's no doubt this little piggy will follow in its mother's foodie footsteps! And we got off to a great start on the weekend, thanks to a 10-course Chinese banquet! Little bubba didn't know what hit him/her!

We couldn't find any golden pigs, so these little pink piggies had to do...they'd like to wish everyone a thoroughly happy & piggy year! N

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sweet & Soft :: A market stall tale

"Awww.... these little toys are so cute. You wouldn't happen to have one who wants to be a librarian?"

"Well... we do actually!"

"I have to have her! I am a librarian attending a librarian conference and I am looking for a present for a librarian friend!"

This is little Orabella and she has found herself the perfect home! I hope they feed her Sacher Torte as that is her most favourite dessert! T


Friday, February 09, 2007

Sew Sweet :: You complete me!

There is a horrible pink plastic crate languishing next to my desk and it is filled with, what I call WNIPs.... Works Not in Progress! The amount of these WNIPS has been bugging me... I feel guilty every time I start thinking of something else I want to create! So in an effort to get some of these things completed and allay my conscience I gave myself a couple of rules.

1. I am not allowed to start something new unless I complete a WNIP first.
2. I am not allowed to post until I had completed both.

So that's why it has been so quiet around here!

Little Flopsy has been hanging around for months with just a completed head and some cut out limbs. Her pattern is from "this" Japanese magazine... which is my all time favourite. She has a bit of a grumpy attitude, which makes me like her even more.

My reward was being able to myself a tea cozy, Like Nicky I have some "Tea History".... it runs through my veins. Both my parents are from great tea nations, China & England... and has always been apart of our daily ritual. Tea signifies the end of chores, a time to relax... and that would never happen if the tea is cold!

The hand stitching of the motif was so much fun... creating images out of thread can be a bit addictive! I think I understand embroidery a bit more now. Maybe I will have to complete some more WNIPs so I can stitch some more! T