Okay, I didn’t know about Beecher’s Handmade Cheese until I’d watched an episode of Foodcrafters on the Food Network (it’s been more than a month and yes, it’s still my favorite TV channel :-) ). In that episode, they’d showcased the mac & cheese made by the cheese shop in Seattle.

Now, I like macaroni and I do love cheese, but I’ve never been able to find a ready-made mac & cheese from the stores that was … eh … nice … you know what I mean? Sometimes they tasted too “cheesy”, and oftentimes they tasted kinda artificial, leaving a strange aftertaste on the tongue and in the back of the throat.

And sadly, I didn’t try to make homemade mac & cheese, mostly because I was so disappointed with & disillusioned by those store-bought ready-made ones.

But there I was, watching Kurt Beecher Dammeier prepare a batch of his famous mac & cheese and describe how his mac & cheese (or rather penne & cheese, as he uses penne instead of macaroni) became so popular that it became called the “world’s best” by his customers.

So, I was intriqued about trying mac & cheese again, this time following Kurt’s recipe.

Now, sadly, I didn’t have the 2 cheeses called for in Kurt’s recipe: Beechers Flagship Cheese and Just Jack Cheese. I could try ordering them online from Beecher’s, but as I was eager and impatient to try the recipe, I decided to substitute Beecher’s cheeses with a good aged cheddar and some pre-sliced Monterey Jack.

Even though I may have conceivably used cheeses inferior to Beecher’s, I was still able to turn out the best mac & cheese I’d ever tasted!

The dish had the right amount of cheese … not too overpowering like the store-bought ready-made kind … while the chili & garlic powders were not overpowering, giving a more rounded taste to the sauce. And the penne really provided a great platform for the cheese sauce to cling to.

If you want to try your hand at making Beecher’s “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese, here’s the recipe …

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Sorry it’s been a while since my last post … sadly, my job’s been keeping me busy, too busy to do any cooking or baking, let alone try out new recipes.

But I’d just discovered the Food Network a few days ago when I was changing my cable plan. And the first show I’d watched on that channel was a pretty funny one by the witty Alton Brown … Good Eats.

Not only does Alton show us how to cook … eh, well … good eats, of course, but he also gets educational with the history, science and nuggets of information about those good eats, all accompanied by some humor. Check his show out on your TV or the episodes available on YouTube.

And so, here I was … while laughing with Alton, he showed how easy it was to make soft, homemade pretzels. And here’s my yummy attempt at making those same pretzels …

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Pasta sauces are one ingredient I don’t usually make at home … I have made my own pasta sauce from scratch, but somehow, making homemade pasta sauces does not interest me as much as baking breads or roasting chickens & turkeys.

So, for spaghetti nights, I would usually go with pasta sauces readily available in jars from the stores & supermarkets. But I would still liven up these pre-made sauces and this is how I would do it most times … Read the rest of this entry »

My kid was helping me make spaghetti bolognese the other day and she had found from the Food Network, a technique to easily remove the skin from tomatoes. And it really did make it easier to peel the tomato skins off!

Later, I learnt that this is the same technique taught by the Culinary Institute of America in their book, The Professional Chef.

Here’s my description of the technique to easily peel tomatoes … Read the rest of this entry »

So, we had homemade pizza over the weekend … there’s nothing like making your own pizza, right? Not only can you control what and how much (or how little) of the toppings you want on your own pizza, but you can also choose the best quality ingredients you can find or afford for the toppings & dough!

And if you have kids, the pizza making is a great way to bond and spend time with them. They can help to prepare the dough and toppings, roll out their own crusts and top their own pizzas any way they like (within reason, of course :-) ). It’s also a good way to get them to eat if they are choosy or picky eaters … let them choose & top their pizzas to make them feel that the pizzas they make from start to finish are really theirs, which should help ensure they’ll eat them.

My kid enjoyed helping me weigh and mix the dough ingredients, and I’d even let her slice the ham (obviously, I was hovering over her shoulder, worried that she might cut herself). She made for herself a smoked ham, mozzarella & Parmesan cheese pizza, stretching out her own pizza dough and spreading a base of a tomato-based pasta sauce that supplied her vegetable diet needs (she doesn’t like to eat vegetables but will eat a bit of such tomato-based pasta sauces). She happily devoured almost the whole 12″ pizza (less a 1/6th slice)! I think that’s quite a lot of pizza for a slim 10-year old, right?

I made fully loaded pizzas for my significant other & I, using good quality pepperoni, smoked ham, red & green capsicums, onions, fresh white button mushrooms, black olives, mozzarella and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on a bed of the tomato-based pasta sauce over a moderately thin crust. The crust was made from what I call Savory Olive Oil Dough, which has garlic powder and onion powder for additional flavor.

Here’s my recipe to make the dough … Read the rest of this entry »

Chili crab is a very popular dish in Singapore and Malaysia. Although I’ve never tried making it myself before, I discovered a post card that was made to publicize this signature dish for The Singapore Food Festival last year, and I thought I’d share it with everyone (with some minor edits & corrections to a couple of what I think were errors in the recipe along with some additional notes) …

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If you’ve been following Pat Geyer’s blog, The Rantings of an Amateur Chef … oh! You have not? Well, I highly suggest you do … his blog is chock full of great recipes with lots of photos showing the various steps in making the delicious food!

… ehhh, where was I? Oh yeah, if you’ve been following The Rantings of an Amateur Chef, you would have come across his family’s pretty simple traditional Roast Thanksgiving Turkey, the key to which is the binary basting sauce of butter and red wine.

With this simple combination of just two ingredients for the basting sauce, you can easily imagine the wonderful glaze and taste of the finished turkey, right?

Since I was already planning to roast a humble chicken, I decided to try his basting sauce on the turkey’s smaller cousin.

Unfortunately, although I had lots of butter, my pantry was a bit sparse for red wine. But I did find some Chinese rice wine (like Pagoda Shao Hsing Hua Tiao Chiew).

I felt butter may not go well with the rice wine, so I decided to change the oil to something more Asian to suit the rice wine: sesame oil with vegetable oil.

So, I ended up with a different basting sauce, albeit originally based on Pat’s Thanksgiving Turkey recipe. And as I had some fresh capsicums and button mushrooms, I thought … why not slice them, toss them with some of the very fragrant basting sauce and roast them with the chicken?

So, with a tip of the hat to Pat, here’s …

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As King Arthur Flour’s Pain de Mie (aka, Pullman loaf or regular sandwich bread) tasted so great, I’m keeping the main ingredients the same for Trial #3 although I’m proportionately reducing the amounts to fit my 9″ Pullman lidded loaf pan … the 13″ version makes a lot of bread (2 1/2 lb), which is a lot to be wasted if Trial #3 doesn’t work out. The 9″ pan should make a smaller 1 2/3 lb loaf.

I do also have a 4.5″ Pullman lidded loaf pan, which makes an absolutely cute cube of a loaf of about 5/6 lb. But I’ve a feeling that such a small loaf may introduce additional unknown variables to Trial #3 that may make it difficult to later upsize the recipe for the 9″ or 13″ pans, right?

As I’d observed previously, the original Pain de Mie could be a bit softer & more moist. So, for Trial #3, I’m adding home-made dough conditioners as suggested by livoRead the rest of this entry »

An upfront disclaimer … this is not a real recipe to make something that can be eaten … it’s just for fun, eh? …

Ashley, my 10-year old daughter, loves to play at having a restaurant/café and she has this growing set of plastic ingredients such as eggs, tomatoes, carrots, fish, chicken (or it could be a small turkey) zucchini, onions, etc. She even has a set of plates, bowls & cutlery to serve up her make-believe culinary creations.

And today, she came up with a very interesting “dish” … it’s just a simple combination of several plastic ingredients on a plate, but it was what she’d named it as that I thought was pretty amazing and made me want to blog about it. I had even suggested making up a faux recipe to go with her creation, the Happy Face Meal

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Well, the Pain de Mie is now thoroughly cooled and ready to be sliced and compared to store-bought sliced white sandwich bread (which we’ll just call a “SB” for short).

First, here’s my Pain de Mie (aka, “my loaf”) compared against what the Pain de Mie is supposed to look liked, from King Arthur Flour’s blog (aka, “KAF loaf”) … here’s the whole loaf before they are sliced (my loaf is on the left while the right one is the KAF loaf) …

My underachieving loaf did not rise enough to fill the pan fully, resulting in the shorter, dome-topped loaf instead of a nice, squared loaf. Read the rest of this entry »

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