Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cooking up a Thai storm

Last Monday was A's birthday, and since he wanted something low key and chill, I decided to cook him up a feast and invite a few friends around instead of taking him out. He has a penchant for both Thai and Indian foods, so given our Indian adventures last week, I thought Thai would be a highly welcomed choice.

I spent a day or so digging up old recipes that I thought would fit the theme. It was actually more difficult than I thought to figure out an appetiser-main-desserts menu -- mostly because I wanted to spend more time on the desserts than anything else! After some deliberation, I decided on a fairly simple, but still fun and casual menu. Appetisers would be rice paper rolls with dipping sauce, while mains would be a simple green curry with coconut rice and a pad thai.
The rice paper rolls were easy - shredded chicken, grated cucumber and carrot, some lettuce and beansprouts all went onto the paper and were rolled up. I served them with a simple plum sauce and hoisin sauce. The curry was simply a matter of chucking any leftover veggies I had, some tofu, green curry paste and some coconut milk into a pot and letting it simmer. Pad thai, similarly, was just about stirfrying rice noodles with chicken pieces and beansprouts. All done (with the help of the 2 other girls; the 3 men just sat there chatting while we did all the cooking. Don't worry, we made them wash up) in a matter of half an hour.

Desserts was the main concern for me. I really wanted to make cupcakes, because a year ago, back when we'd only been going out for a week, I made - or rather, attempted to make - him cupcakes for his birthday. As these stories usually go, I ended up forgetting to put in baking powder (this WAS in my pre-baking/cooking days). I'm not sure if he ate them, but clearly was touched enough to stick around for a while. I had yet to attempt cupcakes again since that incident, but for the sake of continuity and tradition, I decided to give it another go.

After poring over the multitude of cupcake blogs out there, I decided to stick with something simple, not too fancy, yet rich and decadent. I was initially considering these Thai Tea Cupcakes, but ended up going with these cupcakes for the simplicity and apparent "never fail"ingness of the chocolate cupcake. Sounds good enough to me. I decided to forgo the mint buttercream and ganache, since some people don't necessarily like mint. I don't understand it, but hey, they're the ones missing out. No matter. I'll just substitute. I examined the fridge for something to flavour my frosting, and eventually found some lime juice that would go wonderfully with my cream cheese. I following the recipe to a T, the only chance being I made half a batch, 12 cupcakes, instead of the full 24. Chockylit was right when she called them "rich chocolate cupcakes", because they were definitely rich. A whole cupcake with icing was almost more than I could take. Nonetheless, they received rave reviews - definitely something to repeat again sometime.

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
(makes 24 regular cupcakes)
courtesy of Chockylit of Cupcake Bakeshop

200g bar chocolate (I used pretty average quality safeway cooking chocolate, worked wonderfully for me.)
3 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
8 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 package cream cheese (mine had about 250mL)
1/2 stick butter
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
3-4 tbsp lime juice (or as much as you like)

1. Chop chocolate and transfer into bowl. Add butter, and melt, stirring until both are combined.
2. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
3. Beat with electric mixer for 3 minutes, or as much as you can by hand.
4. Add egg one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each.
5. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and pinch salt into the mixture. Mix until blended.
6. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 180C for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Beat cream cheese and butter till creamy.
8. Sift in half the sugar, and beat until combined.
9. Stir in lime juice, then continue to beat in remaining sugar.

Because I only made half the cupcakes and the whole batch of frosting, I still have a little tub sitting in my fridge. I also could have done well to add more lime juice, as the three tablespoonfuls of lime juice wasn't necessarily enough to completely outdo the cheesiness of the cream cheese. Nonetheless, the cupcakes were given rave reviews. Everybody could only manage one after our meal, which was fine; more leftovers for me! I also served up a tropical fruit salad to cleanse our palates somewhat. Lychees, watermelon cubes, pineapple chunks, mango slices and passionfruit pulp was just what we needed to finish off a night of Thai goodness.


Truffle said...

What a lucky man! Sounds like an absolutely brilliant dinner!

ilingc said...

Dinner sounds lovely mel.

What is it about guys and their helpful nature when it comes to cooking? Make sure he appreciates the next meal you cook for him :) - apart from showing it by washing up that is.

Mine doesn't even do the washing up these days. His mum does!

Mel. said...

Thanks, truffle! I'm by no way up to your standards of gorgeous looking, and by the looks of it wonderful tasting, food every night; but hopefully, I'll get there someday!

ilingc, tell your man to get up and make you a nice home-cooked, let-me-do-everything-even-washing-up dinner every now and again! Sounds like the two of you are perfectly happy (and with his mum too!), but no harm in keeping you happy :-)

Shantanu said...

Hi Mel, since you are a fellow foodie, I have tagged you with a food meme on my blog. Hope you don't mind. I bet there won't be any Indian restaurants on the list :)

Hungry Hamster said...

็็Hi! I'm new to food blogging! Do u mind if I link you on my page?


Ali-K said...

Good on you with the cupcakes. I bake and bake and bake and still leave out things like baking soda!