What's Cooking

March 1, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze

Last Friday's dinner was an attempt on Bobby Flay's Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze. This is the first time I've ever made meatloaf - my impression of meatloaf, up to this point, irreversibly damaged by bad cafeteria experiences from university days in North America (meatloaf = all of last week's leftovers). When I saw the program on Foodnetwork Asia, it looked interesting enough to try. Hence my Friday evening venture.

It doesn't look very pretty, but it was a hit! I loved it, hubby loved it, and the kids' godfather loved it too! The recipe, taken off the Foodnetwork was followed quite closely. The only differences were that I used a mix of beef and pork about equal amount, used regular store bought breadcrumbs and I mixed Cheddar with a little Parmesan because those were what I had in the kitchen.  You should also use more chilly flakes if you want it spicy.  I think this one's a keeper.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste with coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan
  • 1 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 220 degC.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the zucchini, peppers, garlic paste, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until almost soft, 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together the eggs and herbs in a large bowl. Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, 1/2 cup of the ketchup, 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar, and the cooled vegetables and mix until just combined.
Mold the meatloaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Whisk together the remaining ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the entire loaf. Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

March 15, 2011

Almond Tiramisu Cake

I am not typically a fan of tiramisu cakes. Traditional tiramisu, the ones made with coffee and alcohol soaked ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese, I LOVE. But the typical round or square cake versions of tiramisu found in many bakeries, I wouldn’t touch with a very long fork. With one exception. A certain bakery/cafĂ© in the Klang Valley, which has been around for many many years, makes these wonderful tiramisu cakes, tasting quite like the traditional thing, but topped with loads of almonds. It is simply divine!

So after seeing the prices rise and quality drop over the years, I’ve attempted to make my own and ensure the quality of ingredients. This is my second attempt.

It is 3 step process, so you should spread the work over a few days. The cake base is a Genoise, which is a very light French sponge cake with ingredients that are very similar to the ladyfingers. The mascarpone mix is then made, the cake assembled and refrigerated at least overnight for the flavours to develop. Finally, it is topped with caramelized almonds.


  • 40 g clarified beurre noisette (browned butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 vanilla pod
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • ½ cup minus 1 tbsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 175 degC.
To make the beurre noisette, take about 50g unsalted butter and melt in a pan. Continue heating until it boils and starts browning. At this stage don’t leave it unattended as it can over-burn quickly. Heat until the milk solids drop to the bottom of the pan and the butter has turned into a deep golden brown (like honey); quickly remove from heat. It will smell nutty and wonderful. Pour the liquid through a very fine mesh and measure out 40g. Take a little of the butter and lightly grease the bottom of a 9in silicone pan.
Place the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and heat over a simmering pan of water. Stir constantly until the mixture feels just slightly warmer than your body temperature. Transfer the bowl to your mixer and whisk it for at least 5 minutes until the eggs triple in volume. It is important not to take a shortcut on the 5 minutes.
While this is whisking, take the vanilla pod and slice it in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon or the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds inside, and mix into the browned butter.
Once the eggs are sufficiently whisked, take about ¾ cup of the eggs and mix well into the butter mixture. Set aside. Sift in (yes, double sifting) half of the flour and cornstarch and fold well, gently and thoroughly. Sift in the rest of the flour and cornstarch and fold again. Then fold in the butter mixture and ensure it is mixed well. Be gentle to minimize volume loss.
Now pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-35 minutes. Do not open the oven door before 25 minutes. Once the cake is done, there will be a little shrinkage and the cake will tear away from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. To unmould the cake, turn the pan upside down onto a cooling rack and gently peel off the pan from the cake (by now you should be able to handle the pan with bare hands). Flip it again onto another rack to let the cake cool right side up.

Mascarpone Cheese Mix

  • 6 shots of expresso (made with the 6-cup stovetop espresso maker)*
  • 3 tbsp rum
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 6 tbsp castor sugar
  • 500g (2 tubs) mascarpone cheese
  • 500 ml whipping cream**
Add the rum to the cofee and set aside.

Place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and thick.  Add the mascarpone cheese to the egg and mix until combined.  In another bowl, beat the cream then fold it into the mascarpone and egg mixture.***

In a separate bowl, beat up the egg whites until soft peaks form. Take a large dollop of the whites and fold quickly into the mascarpone mixture, then add the rest of the whites and fold quickly and gently.

*     If you want stronger coffee, you can add 2 tsp instant espresso coffee to the coffee
**   You can also use 400 ml of whipping cream since some whipping cream comes in 200 ml packages
*** This cake has to be eaten right out of the fridge as it can melt easily especially in Malaysian weather.  Gelatin can be added to help it last longer. Before beating the cream, reserve 4 tbsp of cream.  Heat it up until just barely simmering.  Remove from heat, let it cool about 1 minute and add 2 tbsp of gelatin to it, mixing until it dissolves.  Let it cool further while you continue to whip up the rest of the cream.  You can add the gelatin mixture into the whipped cream and continue to fold it into the mascarpone mixture.

Caramelized Amonds

  • 1 cup full almonds (leave the skin on), toasted
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla pod

Combine sugar, water and salt in a pan.  Split the vanilla pod lengthwise with a small knife and scrape out the seeds inside with the back of the knife or with a small spoon.  Add into the pan.  Heat up the pan until it boils for 1 minute. 

Add in the toasted almonds and mix well.  Continue stiring the almonds in the boiling syrup until most of the liquid has evaporated.   Remove from fire and continue stiring until the liquid dries off and the almonds make a sandy sound when stirred around the pan. 

Place the pan back on the fire.  Stir the almonds constantly until the sugar starts to caramelize.  Parts of the almonds will caramelized while parts will still have the sandy sugar coating.  Turn off the fire and let the almonds cool on a silicone work mat.

Once cool, take a rolling pin and bash the almonds into small chunks.

Assembling the cake

Take the Genoise and cut it into half to make 2 layers of cake.  Place the first layer on a cake board.  Using the silicone brush, brush the cake with half of the coffee.  Make sure that the coffee soaks through the whole cake.  Place a cake ring (9.75-10 in) on the cake board with the cake in the centre.

Take about half the mascarpone mixture and pour on top of the cake, over the sides, filling up the cake ring, roughly leveling it off.  Take the 2nd layer of cake and place it on top of the mascarpone mixture, gently pushing it down.  Brush the 2nd layer generously with the coffee-rum mixture again.  Pour the rest of the mascarpone mixture into the cake ring, covering the whole cake and sides.  Level it off at the top (don't worry if it's not perfectly done because any imperfections will be later covered by the almonds).

Place the cake in the refridgerator overnight.

Before the cake is presented, take it out of the fridge and remove the cake ring.  If you have trouble getting the cake ring off, use a hair dryer and gently heat up the ring before removing.  Now cover the whole cake with the caramelized almonds.

Voila!  Almond Tiramisu Cake!