Monday, January 7, 2008

A jolly good 2008 to you!

Hope the new year has begun well for you. We were near Munich over the new year and went walking up Wallberg as the queue for the sleds and chairlifts was too long.

The collected snow between branches and twigs reminded me of the Malaysian ice-kacang, one of my favourite desserts.

The night before, we went with friends to the heart of Munich. I experienced for the first time the lighting of many, many fireworks by private individuals at Odeonplatz. It amazed me that people would spend so much on pyrotechnics. It was also a bit scary as 'rockets' whooshed past quite nearby, and there were lots of broken bottles in the
Marienplatz after the fireworks. 'Collective irresponsibility' I called it, as normally people would not break glass in the streets or leave so much litter for the street cleaners the next day.

Here's a toast to a year in which we achieve more than we felt we could. May your days be full of love, discernment and peace.

May everything you do and say be measured if not positively spontaneous. Be true to yourself!

P.S. There is still no snow on the ground in Cham, Switzerland, where we live. Is it going to snow in February or March?! It's six degrees Celsius today - so 'warm' for winter, no?

For lovers of Pannacotta, that smooth and creamy but not-so-calorie-laden Italian dessert, here's a recipe I adapted from German chef Schubeck:

400ml milk (can be low-fat)
4 leaves of gelatine
1 tsp of vanilla sugar with bits of real vanilla in it
4 tbs sugar
100ml cream

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water. Gently heat the milk with the vanilla and sugar till simmering. Remove from heat. Stir in the softened gelatine leaves till dissolved. Leave to cool.

Whip the cream till thick but not too stiff. When milk-gelatine mixture is cool and starting to gel, stir the whipped cream into it. Scoop into 6 bowls. Place in refrigerator to cool and completely gel for an hour or more.

Note: You can increase the milk amount by 80ml without adding more gel leaves. Lessen the sugar if you prefer Pannacotta less sweet.

For topping, choose your fav: caramelised sugar syrup, poached peaches, rhubarb in sweet ginger sauce, thawed blueberries or raspberries.

You can also vary the flavour of the Pannacotta. I've substituted the vanilla flavour with ginger, stirring in a packet of ginger tea granules. Adding half a teaspoon of fresh ginger juice would strengthen the 'heat' deliciously. This reminded me of my late mum's steamed egg custard flavoured with ginger. Mmm...



wonda said...

There was practically no snow in my area last year. No sign of snow yet this year. Hey, Argus, you got up so early or was a mistake in the the posting time?

Lydia Teh said...

Happy new year to you and the 'risque' writer :)

Kenny Mah said...

Oh I miss Munich so! I love Marienplatz, used to go there to just mull around... and the Xmas market there is fantastic! And the snow!

Me miss Deutschland but bad. :(

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Wonda. A decidedly snowless winter for us, huh?
The time must have been translated into your 'early time' - coz I seldom get up early.

Lydia, thanks. But stop spreading those rumours; if the man loses his job, you pay for our 5-star retirement home in 10 years, OK?!

Oh, poor Kenny and his Heimweh for Deutschland. Ah, the lovely Christmas markets and shops. Rindu, eh? Come to Switzerland and I'll show you some luscious German-speaking Swiss Misses. ;-)

WokandSpoon said...

Pretty snow! All we have is rain! Happy New Year! Hope you have a great year!

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Wokandspoon. We've had only rain here, too. (Except for the few days when we were in Germany over the new year, it snowed a bit in Cham, Switz - saw some evidence of it by the roadside when we came home.)

wonda said...

The "avocado in your header" got rolled up in my rolled sushi last night. A piece for my supper yesterday and the rest became the lunch today for my son and me. A former university student from Malawai told me that the African avocado is as big as his palm. It's night time here now. Will try to snap the photo of the avocado plant that shot up from the seed that I simply stuck in the soil in late summer (I think). This is the first time it grows though I have experimented with growing it many times but failed. My son doubts it will withstand the cold winter.

wonda said...

Oops, typo. I mean "Malawi."

Argus Lou said...

Oh, ja, Wonda. The avocados they sell here are quite big, costing about RM6-RM7 each.
I love avocado in sushi.
My late mum had an avocado plant in M'sia but I'm not sure if it ever gave any fruit. ^_^

Cynthia said...

A very happy new year to you dear friend! I love that picture in your header! And the shade of green is so calming.

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Cynthia. A wonderful & healthy new year to you and your family. I saw the new look of your blog and it's fabulous. Happy blogiversary to you!

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Happy New Year, Argus dear! Aah Pannacotta...I just had a soy version of that yesterday and I don't think I shall be a convert in the near future. ^_^ Adding ginger to it does sound delicious and probably perfect for the winter as it warms your insides up, eh? I do love ginger...especially caramelized ginger. Yummy!

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, dear Lyrical. Yes, I've a similar philosophy -- if we're gonna eat something fattening, let it be as close to the original as possible (no soy subs, please! Same for butter vs fake butter). The only concession I will make is less whipped cream and less sugar; anyway we like it less sweet. ;-)

WokandSpoon said...

Hehe - I just re-read your post and the snow made you think of ice kacang! heheehh! That's funny how something totally unrelated to food made you think of food!

Argus Lou said...

Does that happen to you too, WokandSpoon?
Anyway, the pristine globs of snow between the little branches are exactly like the shaved ice in 'ice kacang', no? Just add red syrup, dissolved gula melaka, evaporated milk and deliciously 'fillings'!

wonda said...

Lee Ping's baked bread looks so good that I want to sink my teeth into it. Too bad the screen is my obstacle. I gave her the no-knead bread (Jaden's link) that you posted in Sept.

Argus Lou said...

Thanks for directing me to it, Wonda. It looks wonderful, doesn't it? I'm so glad Mrs HBT is enjoying making bread. I am not into fluffy white bread but hers sure looks delicious.

wonda said...

You know something, Argus? Looking at your Pannacotta reminds me of "Tau Foo Far!"
In the past, I have tried making tau foo far using soyabean milk and gelatin powder and topped it with brown sugar syrup. Now we have imported ones from HongKong with sesame flavors etc, but I still like its plain ones.

Argus Lou said...

Haha, yes, it does look like Tau Foo Fa, doesn't it? You can use low-fat milk and omit the cream for a low-calorie treat.
Wonda, I grew up with 'white sugar' Tau Foo Fa in Taiping but when I went to live in KL, I was introduced to it served with brown sugar syrup and promptly fell in love with it.

Padma said...

We are having lotsa snow here and that made me sick for quiet some days :) Thanks for stopping by and Happy New year..

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Padma. It's always a pleasure to read your blog and see what you're up to and your delish homemade goodies.

SteamyKitchen said...

brrrr....6 degrees C!!
its 29C here and my air conditioner is on!

xoxo, jaden

Argus Lou said...

Hey, Mrs Steamy Florida, appreciate your dropping by despite your tight-as-a-rat's-ass schedule. ;-)
Hope your cookbook project is going stupendously.

Lee Ping said...

Dear Argus,
Thanks for sharing this panna cota recipe. I noticed that gelatin leaves is being used instead of the gelatin powder. I have a packet of gelatin leaves in my pantry, now I know what I can use it for. I would not omit the cream because it would not be as rich and creamy. :)

Argus Lou said...

Hello, Mrs HBT. Nice of you to drop by despite your busy schedule.
Both gelatine powder and leaves would work - both are gelling agents although I wouldn't know how much gelatine powder to use.

Yes, I agree the rich creaminess of Panna Cotta can be a rare treat. ^_^

Lee Ping said...

p/s your new banner is cool.

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Mrs HBT. I think so, too. ^_^

My old living-room

My old living-room
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

A cherished dream

A cherished dream
To live on a pale beach by a crystal clear sea. (This was taken on the east coast of Johor state, Malaysia.)