august: Lisa’s Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Jackfruit and Toasted Coconut

This month, I was really excited about the South East Asian theme. I mean, it’s somewhere that I love travelling to, and hey, I even got married in Thailand! I wanted to tie in the flavours that I associate with South East Asia – lemongrass, jackfruit and coconut. I’ve never made a panna cotta before, but have enjoyed a few in my time. It has always been the classic vanilla panna cotta with a berry coulis of some sort. So I thought, how about infusing the lemongrass flavour into the panna cotta, and then adding some more classic flavours on from there.

The result was my Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Jackfruit and Toasted Coconut. The actual panna cotta turned out with a very subtle lemongrass flavour, so the fruit is essential in this dish. If you don’t have access to jackfruit, or don’t like the taste, pineapple would be a good substitute. The toasted coconut gives an added texture to the dessert, as well as adding another dimension to the taste.

Give it a go – I think you will really enjoy it.

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august: jasmine’s pineapple and coconut layered sponge cake

I chose S. E. Asia as the theme this month because I wanted to make something for my husband K. I am near the end of my pregnancy and K has had to put up with quite a bit from me over the past 8.5 months, so I wanted to say thanks and to show him a little gratitude. K loves desserts….and what better way to a man’s heart than through his stomach!

K is from Singapore and because we have not been able to go back for a visit for a while now and won’t be able to visit for at least another 6 months he has really been missing the foods from his home, so I figured I would try to bring a little bit of S.E. Asia to Sydney :)

Unfortunately, August is a winter month in Sydney, so a lot of the beautiful tropical fruits which are available year-round in S.E. Asia are not readily available. Anyways – I did what I could and used coconut and pineapple as my key ingredients this month to make a pineapple and coconut layered sponge cake.

The layered sponge cake was inspired by the layered kuehs (cakes found in S.E. Asia) which are readily available in Singapore. The kuehs that I have seen are made of flour, sticky rice flour or gelatin, but what I find unique about these cakes is that most kuehs consist of many thin layers. Whenever I am in S.E. Asia I fill myself up on all the different types of kuehs that I can find and love eating the kuehs layer by layer. I do not have the skill to make the fine kueh layers … so my rendition is more of a traditional sponge layered cake.

The base of my recipe is a sponge cake and the filling is a home-made pineapple jam cooked with star anise and cinnamon. The pineapple jam recipe is an adaptation of the jam balls used in pineapple tarts, another traditional Singaporean/Malaysian food that K grew up with. I also made some pineapple tarts, but didn’t have the proper tart mould, so just made small round tarts.

The layers of the sponge are lightly soaked in a coconut cream and the top of the cake is a mixture of icing sugar and coconut milk powder.

The end result is a fluffy sponge filled with a slightly tart pineapple jam and a hint of coconut flavor. The cake can be served on its own or is also delicious with coconut ice cream!

august: kerri’s kaffir lime mango with coconut cream & sable

Hong Kong is a place where most young professionals eat out every night. Not because it’s indulgent, but because most apartments are tiny, with kitchens often only having a two-burner stovetop. No oven. No benchspace. Pretty much not designed for cooking. When we moved here, I searched and searched for an apartment with a full kitchen, and spacious enough to allow us the room to welcome people in for a home cooked meal. And so it is that we are able to host a monthly dinner at ours, where seats go fast because indulging in a home cooked meal is rare.

I decided to theme the whole dinner around our BSS theme for this month, incorporating flavours from south east asian countries into every dish. Palm sugar, fish sauce, coconut, kaffir lime and lemongrass were on display. Yum.

clockwise from top left: crisp s+p pork belly with black vinegar dipping sauce on pickled cucumber; grilled vietnamese style chicken wings; pickled watermelon salad; duck curry

I love tropical fruits but mango has to top my list. And mango with lime and coconut brings in the south east asian influence perfectly. So with these flavours in mind, I found a perfect dessert recipe for this month’s challenge by Gregoire Michaud, Executive Pastry Chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, which he shared on this blog.

His recipe included a cake layer, but I substituted this with a sable crumb for added texture. I also decided to add a palm sugar caramel drizzle on the top just to add that little bit more, and used the extra sables for presentation.

The finished result was an explosion of tart limey mango, smooth creamy coconut, sweet crumb texture and mellow palm sugar goodness. Not as pretty or elegant as Gregoire’s but yummy nonetheless. My guests were left wanting more, but unfortunately I only made just enough.

You can find the recipe here.
The original recipe is here.

august: anna’s thai tea parfait

We decided to have a fancy dinner party on the weekend. Not for any reason, except that we just felt like it! I wanted to make my South East Asian dessert, so we incorporated Asian ingredients and flavors into the whole meal, although the techniques and the dishes themselves were not really Asian.

This was our menu:

The recipe for the Thai tea parfait is from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. At Momofuku, it’s served with lemon mascarpone and Thai tea crunch, but I topped mine with ginger and kaffir lime leaf infused cream and my own version of the “crunch”…

My mum recently visited from Australia and brought some homemade “kueh ka pek”, also called love letters.

These are a specialty of Chinese Malaysians and are usually made for Chinese New Year. My family has made these for as long as I can remember. It’s usually a whole weekend event involving all our relatives. There are only a few ingredients in the batter (coconut milk, eggs and flour) and each piece is made individually in a special metal iron and cooked over a charcoal grill. They are very crispy and extremely delicate. Can you believe my mum brought these all the way from Australia?!

I took some of the pieces that had crushed in transit and sprinkled them on top my dish. You really could use anything you like that is crispy to add texture to the dish.

The combination of flavors is really unique – there’s tamarind in the parfait, and kaffir lime in the cream, two things you would not usually find in dessert – but somehow it works. It’s also really creamy and smooth, and the added crunch brings it all together. If you love Thai tea as much as I do, you will love this dessert!

Find the recipe here

august: south east asia!

Don’t you wish you were here?

Well, you can be… with your taste buds! At Jasmine’s suggestion, we are taking you to South East Asia this month!

So sit back, relax and sip on some mango juice while your eyes take in the sweet delights of the tropical South East.