Saturday, July 29, 2017

Which ice cream maker to buy?

Ice cream is hands down my favourite food. At certain point in my life I decided that I needed a diet. I went on an ice cream diet for a few weeks one summer when I was in University.

I tried making ice cream at home without an ice cream maker when I was a kid. I put the milky custard in the freezer and took it out every hour or so to stir it. The product was decent but that was quite a lot of work.

Fast forward to when I first started working many many years ago, I saw an ice cream maker at an outlet for sale cheap. I didn't buy it then, thinking I'd see such deal again soon. But I didn't. Upon further research, I found that there are many types of ice cream makers. (1) the home budget style you need to put the ice cream maker in the freezer for 24 hours before you can start making ice cream. Not to mention you have to freeze the custard for hours before you can actually start making the ice cream. (2) the compressor style you can make ice cream any time you want, without pre-freezing - but it costs a fortune. It also takes up lots of space. It is a big investment.

That's a tough decision. So I ended up not making the decision until now!  After buying maybe my 100th tub of ice cream from stores, I decided it is time to buy an ice cream maker. I also gave myself excuses like making healthier ice cream/ gelato for my little one Mochi, ensure the ice cream is low in sugar and gluten free, and to try out funky new flavours.

Home pre-freeze style

Cuisinart ICE-21

This is one of the most budget model (around US$60 at regular price) with good review. If I were to buy a non-compressor stand alone ice cream maker, this would be my choice. However, I know I'd leave it in the kitchen storage collecting dust.

Kitchen aid
Who could resist the temptation of having a Kitchenaid sitting in your kitchen? It is the appliance that shows you are a professional. It is the appliance that shows you have good interior design taste. It is the appliance you see in staged houses for sale too!  I was very tempted too... before I realised it is an ice cream bowl attachment that require pre-freezing. Unless you have a KitchenAid already sitting at home and only plan to make ice cream occasionally. I'm not sure if it can meet the purpose.

Compressor ice cream makers

If I were to buy an ice-cream maker only after 10 years of waiting and pondering, I might as well buy a compressor ice cream maker so I don't have any excuse to abandon it.

Ice cream maker is not very popular where I live. After searching through the city, I found Cuisinart, Breville, Delonghi GM6000, and some other brands in Sogo and some smaller shops in Kowloon (Yau Ma Tei). They all have very good reviews but each with some drawbacks. If all equals, then ease of purchase and size helped me make the decision!

The Purchase - Cuisinart ICE-100
After waiting a month or two for the pre-summer sale, I went to the department store to find 2 models on sale. Given the Cuisinart ICE-100 width fits my previous kitchen counter-top perfectly, and it is ready for immediate pick up. I decided on Cuisinart over DeLonghi. 

Cuisinart ice cream maker review
My baby - Cuisinart ICE-100HK

In my research, I noticed some key concerns people have on Cuisinart ICE-100. I've added my comments after 1 year of using (and still going strong): 
  • Squeaky sound it makes after a few uses. (It is reasonable noise I can stand)
  • Potential dirt built up at the bottom of the ice cream bucket (See review from IcecreamScience). (I made sure I wash and dry the ice cream bucket immediately after every single use. I have included photos of the bucket for your easy reference) Some people recommended disassemble the parts and reassemble adding some food grade grease to avoid the squeaky sound. I will definitely do that in the future and provide update on that. 

bottom of ice cream maker bucketIce cream maker bucket bottom
Circled are the two small holes mentioned by Icecreamscience

inside ice cream maker bucket
Inside of the ice cream bucket

Are you also deciding on purchasing an ice cream maker? Which one you ended up buying? If you also have/had Cuisinart ICE-100, any tips you could share? 

See my other postings on the ice cream I made!

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Gluten-free List (HK)

Gluten free ("GF") restaurants in HK
Just Salad, Soho Central (***)
Cafe on the 1st at the Excelsior, Causeway Bay (*****)
Life Cafe, Soho Central - vegan also (****)
Green Waffle Diner, SOHO Central and various outpost (****)
La Creperie, Wan Chai (*****)
Eat Right, SOHO Central (**)
Coast Bistro and Bar, Soho Central. Need to request specifically for GF meals (to try)
Sesame Kitchen offers gluten free cooking class in Sheung Wan
Taco Truck, Quarry Bay, Shop E, 22 Finnie Street (to try)
Munch, TST 1 Knutsford, Buckwheat pizza! (to try)

Organic / MSG free restaurants that hopefully understand our gluten free requests:
The Chairman, SOHO Central (*****)
Yin Yang, Ship Street - Wan Chai (*****) - Closed as of 2017. they make everything from scratch with love. At $680, you can be the King and make whatever allergy requests you have. Starting at $228 (set), lunches are more affordable. I think they have ala carte menu as well.
NaturoPlus, Wan Chai (*****) - Closed as of 2016. I was there last night. They understand the term "gluten-free". However, most dishes are not GF. I usually eat the Pork dish which is amazing. They changed the sauce to a cream sauce for me, but they said the pork was marinaded in Chicken Powder... To be 100% GF, you could order the steak, the chicken with olive oil, or the fish.
健味粥 Tam Keung's Congee (****), closed MSG & chicken powder free congee. Famous for its fresh fish & pork. The place is a bit quiet most of the times cuz it is located on a infamous drinking street (Tung Lung St) but it doens't serve alcohol... But the congee tastes like how I make it at home.
Tim's kitchen, the Michelin winner (*****).  Closed as of 2017. You can check with the waiter for the exact ingredients in each dish. They are always MSG-free but also confirms that your dishes are chicken powder free and soy sauce free. Note that in HK, most deep fried dishes are made with corn starch.
Original taste workshop 原味家作, various (**)
Xiyan 囍宴, various (**)

I haven't tried all of them but you could find information and reviews of them on openrice (available in Chinese and English).

Organic/natural food shops where I do my GF snack shopping:

Little Giant, Wan Chai (*****)
Health Gate, Central (***)
OrganicToHome, Soho (**)
Safforn Bakery, 24 Square Street, Sheung Wan (gluten free bread)
Healthy Delight, Soho 34-38 Stanley Street, 2/F (to try, has organic GF milk formulas)
Just Green, Soho Central, 52 Graham St
Green Earth Society, Sai Kung, See Cheung St
有機地Organic Land, Wan Chai (181 hennessy road), Tin Hau, Central (**) e.g. Gussie Auntie's cookies. See their online product listing
點點綠Green dot dot, 18 outlets - not GF focus (*)
綠盈坊O'farm, 12 outlets - not GF focus but may have some GF items (*)
Manna Organic Path of Health Ltd 177 Wan Chai Road. Also in Yuen Long, Kwun Tong, etc. (*). Not GF focus. Has Envirokidz rice crispy. Key product is coconut oil.
Healthy Delight delivery
SpiceBox Organics in Sai Ying Pun (Western district)
iDetox food store also has classes, workshops, etc.
General grocery stores with GF selections:
Oliver's Prince's building, Central (pricier) (****)
City'super, IFC Central, Times Square CWB, etc. (***)
Great, Pacific Place Admiralty (****)
Taste of Park n' Shop, various locations
International of Park n' Shop, various locations
Mark n Spencer, Central
Market Place by Jason's
Apita and Jusco, Taikoo Shing
Wellcome, various locations

Specialty shops with specific GF items:
Canadian Fine Foods (closed? I cant find them anymore) for delicious GF sausages, 3 Wan Chai Road (*****)
il Bel Paese for gluten free pasta and other italian ingredients. Queens Rd E Wan Chai near Star St (****)
NaturoPlus a restaurant that also do GF ordering delivery, Wan Chai
Mandarin Oriental HK, Central, GF bread at $68 4 slices (*****)
Ali Oli, Sai Kung, G/F, 11 Sha Tsui Path. Has GF bread with delivery. Also offers GF cakes!
cake2 Tin Hau 天后興發街 54號 - they seem to sell GF cake mix per magazine article in 2008
Xocai chocolate from Africa [to check]

GF dessert!!!
Riquiqui (closed), Central. Great after dinner hangout. (think Chickalicious in NYC). Call/email Amanda/Andrea in advance to order GF dessert like flourless chocolate cake, pavlova, ice-cream/gelato, etc. Friendly service and lovely atmosphere (****).... sadly closed....
Baking Maniac, online. Email ordering. GF cupcakes and other goodies. The chef & son pair is amazing. They are fluent in the allergy-language: egg-free / nut-free / gluten-free / milk-free, you name it. And their cupcakes taste as good as the regular ones! (*****)
Piece of cake (phone ordering. seems to be out of business)
Hagan Daz (some flavours)
Ben & Jerry (some flavours) - Times Square
Grassroots Pantry 12 Fuk Sau Lane, Sai Ying Pun, Western District - gluten free cookies!
Mana, 92 Wellington St Central also has gluten free desserts
Sweet Secrets 35 Graham St Central - gluten free cupcakes
Island Gourmet at the Shangri-la - GF version of their Chocolate Frou Frou
Sift Bakery can do GF cupcakes and some of their beautiful cakes like the feminine Ispahan
* I'll keep adding to this list. Please feel free to suggest.

Special thanks to everyone who left GF related message on geoexpat or else I could never find these amazing stores!

[Original post in 2010. Last updated: Jul 2013]

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Scrumptious homemade chocolate ice cream

How my scrumptious chocolate ice cream looked like after staying in the fridge for over 24 hours. As tasty as fresh Very scoop-able.

I have made at least 10 batches of ice cream since the purchase of my ice cream maker last year. While I loved every single batch, something is just not right:

  • While they are all smooth and rich when freshly made, the texture become icy and hard once frozen overnight! 
  • I used the best chocolate, different mix-in, but they taste nothing like Haagen Dazs. 
  • I might not have the patience for that egg yolk cooking process. I've thrown out many batches of overcooked egg yolk since. What a waste!
What is missing? I've read so many "scientific" ice cream making articles. I tried different ideas.  The best texture, best tasting ice cream I made was the one I made with sweetened chestnut cream (creme de maroon) so I didn't have to add white sugar. But making ice cream with liquid sugar doesn't seem to make that difference.

Finally I read the Kitchn "Best homemade chocolate ice cream" article which was just posted last month. It has condensed milk in the recipe, which is also an ingredient on the Haagen Dazs box! Haagen Dazs is my favourite store brand ice cream.   I think I found the holy grail. I made it immediately this weekend. O dear! This is just how Haaden Dazs belgium chocolate ice cream tastes like. That rich chocolate flavour with a hint of caramelised taste. That is it! That is the secret I have been searching for! 

A few tips/reminders on ice cream making:
  • Use condensed milk!
  • Whisk the heavy cream until standing, then add/fold it in the other ingredients gently as per recipes. That seems to make the product more fluffy and less dense/hard. 
  • Dutch processed cocoa powder really make that chocolate flavour stands out
  • Whisk the custard for the one last time before putting in the ice cream maker
  • I reduced the sugar content but added more chocolate than the recipe called for. The product seemed fine
Scrumptious chocolaty chocolate ice cream

1. Melt 200g chocolate in a bowl sitting on top of boiling hot water. I used Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate, 54% cocoa.  (original recipe called for 6 oz or 170g chocolate - mix of milk and dark)

2. Whisk 1 cup of Heavy Cream until standing
3. Add the 1 cup of cream (whisked), 2 cups of fresh milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup condensed milk, 3 big table spoons of dutch-pressed cocoa power.  (original recipe called for 3/4 cup of sugar)
4. Heat on medium-high until simmering for 2-3 minutes. Continue whisking occasionally 

5. Gradually add the hot dairy mixture into the melted chocolate. Blend throughoutly. 
6. Put in freezer until cooled (approx 1 hour?)
7. Whisk the mixture again before putting in the ice cream maker. 

8. Pour the mixture in the ice cream maker. I churned it for at least 50 minutes. 

9. Move the churned mixture into a pre-frozen container.

VIOLA!! This is how it looks after 10 hours of freezing. I was in such a rush to try out the new recipe that I forgot to add any mix in. 

This will be my go-to recipe. I will try condensed milk on other flavours ice cream =)))))
I'm so excited!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Gluten free lunch at home - SUSHI!

It was so hot and rainy the past weekend we decided we would spend the Sunday indoor at home. Stay at home weekend could be lots of fun!

We made sushi (maki roll) for lunch and Mochi the little one enjoyed the experience - preparing and eating. And it is a super healthy lunch for adult and kid alike.

And it is simple! Instead of one of us doing all the cooking in the kitchen, everyone gets to participate. Just wrap all the ingredients of your choice in rice and seaweed! We did not dip our sushi in soy sauce as it is so flavourful as it is! 

Little Mochi usually takes at least an hour to finish her lunch. She also has little patient to sit at the dining table with us. However, for the Saturday sushi lunch, she finished her food the same time as we did! Well actually we were eating as we make the maki rolls to make sure the seaweed remain crispy. 

What we put in the sushi? 
  • little white fish, 
  • salmon (seasoned with salt, pan fried and flaked), 
  • sliced cucumber, 
  • fried egg (seasoned with salt). 
  • avocado!
  • sesame
  • shrimp and other seafood
  • Spam (yay Hawaiian spam musubi!). I used a Japanese brand with no flavour enhancers.

How about sushi rice?
  • Cooked rice (2 bowls)
  • White vinegar (60ml or adjust to your taste) - any gluten-free white vinegar... as some rice vinegar may not be gluten-free
  • Sugar (3 spoons or adjust to your taste)
  • Salt (pinch)

You may adjust the vinegar and sugar based on the actual taste. We prefer it less sweet.
You may also add quinoa when cooking rice. 

How to cook rice without a rice cooker? 
I never had a rice cooker until the past few years! Here is how I did it:
- rinse your uncooked rice in water 
- put the rice in a pot (I used clay pot)
- add water such that the level of water is about 1cm above the level of rice
(So the water : rice proportion is approximately N cup of rice to N+1 cup of water)

Bon appetite!

Gluten free life with little kid

I'm back!!!

It has been a while since I last posted! So what happened? My life is become more flavourful with the little one.  While Mochi the little one does not require a gluten free diet, I'd strive to reduce her gluten and sugar intake. Let's see how this impact my gluten free healthy diet adventure. I found that I pay even more attention to food ingredients! I will share some photos and review once I get a chance. Stay tune!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gluten free bakery in HK!

Great news!
A new bakery in Hong Kong that sells gluten free bread!

Saffron Bakery
Quoted from their website "We have therefore sourced what we feel to be the best gluten free flour on the planet. Doves Farms in the UK have developed an award winning range of Gluten Free Flours. Their Gluten Free Brown & White Bread Flours are a blend of naturally gluten free and wheat free ingredients and natural gum for an alternative to wheat bread flour."
They prepare brown and white gluten free loaves on the weekend at all their outlets.You may also contact them if you would like to place an order for other gluten free bakery products.

You could find them at:
- Sheung Wan, 24 Square Street (830am-6pm)
- The Peak
- Stanley
- Repulse Bay
- Gold Coast

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gluten-free snacks from Germany

Below are scores of the snacks I tried, with 10 as the highest score.

The yummiest of the yummy:
Schär (10/10)



Good but not the best:


Those I finished the pack I got but won't repurchase:



Bottom of the list:

After eating these Bio Hirsebrot bread by Schnitzer (spezial) I finally understand what it means when other bloggers suggest that certain bread tastes like "cardboard" by many bloggers. (1/10)