Friday, February 12, 2010

Family Luncheon - breadsticks and chocolate cake

Breadsticks - looks great but texture was a dissapointment

Winner - chocolate cake with lemon cream cheese frosting

We had another of our family luncheons yesterday. YP invited us all over for Singapore Laksa. She had me at 'Sing'!. It was our first family gathering since returning from the summer holidays. As usual the host prepares the main course and the rest of us supplement with side dishes, kid-friendly dishes and dessert.

Singapore Laksa is different from Penang Laksa. Penang Laksa has a strong Thai influence. It's rice noodles served in a sour, spicy fish stock, accompanied by sliced pineapple, cucumber, torch ginger bud (bunga kantan) and a dose of hae ko (prawn paste). The flavour is heavy with lemongrass, tamarind and chillies. Singapore Laksa, on the other hand, is yellow noodles served in a coconut curry broth, accompanied by fish cakes, cooked prawns, chicken strips and slices of hard boiled eggs. It's very much like what we Penangites call Curry Mee. Coming from Penang, I was determined that nothing could beat Penang's Curry Mee. However, YP makes a mean version of Singapore Laksa that has me converted. As we approached her main door, the sweet-spicy aroma of the broth enticed us before we could even reach for the doorbell, confirming we had the right address.

It's a great atmosphere where everyone (except the kids, maybe) has the common goal of enjoying the feast, amidst great company. (The kids enjoy great company while playing, never mind the food!) What's designated as 'main course' is laid out first, then the table cleared to serve dessert, and later, coffee and tea. Fried rice, spaghetti and meatballs and grilled chicken accompanied the Laksa. (Hey, I didn't say there was a specific theme. Anything edible goes). And later a bevy of freshly cut fruits, fruit jelly and cake.

My contribution was Parmesan breadsticks and chocolate cake. The breadsticks, we rationalised, would serve the hungry kids coming and going in between playing. No fear of spills or sticky fingers on windows or furniture. No dirty faces to clean. Crumbs could be easily swept up. The breadsticks, however, turned out to be a disappointment. I scoured the net and saw a recipe which promised a bread that the Italians would approve. They looked great and the flavour was good but the texture was just too chewy. Did I not bake it long enough or did it go soft when it cooled, even in an airtight container? The recipe called for only one rise, and would it be better had I let it rise twice? I'm going to have to tweak this one.

The chocolate cake, on the other hand, was a hit. I used the same chocolate cake recipe as the cake I made for Keane & Zern's birthday. Blian requested a Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting and so it was. Here's the recipe for the frosting:

Philly Cream Cheese 1 block (250g)
Butter 54g, softened
Lemon ½ medium size, juiced and zested
Icing sugar 1- ½ cups, sifted

Cream butter and cream cheese till soft. Add lemon zest. Beat till fluffy, add juice and continue beating. Add 1 cup of icing sugar and continue adding till you get the sweetness you like and the frosting reaches spreadable consistency. Frost cake.

Spread the frosting thicker than you would like it. In warmer temperatures, the frosting 'melted' some and absorbed into the cake. Next time I would also slice the cake horizontally and sandwich some frosting so that the flavours will be more spread out.

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