Christmas is a time for family and friends

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas features largely in our annual calendar of celebrations. For our family, it is a busy of the year as we gather at various weekend parties before Christmas.

This year, we decided to organize just one large combined Christmas party for our family and friends instead of segregating the group and having different parties over several days. Also, I felt motivated to add some personal touches to an otherwise outsourced party as we are engaging a caterer to handle the food arrangements for almost a hundred guests.

The Christmas party invites were handmade from cardstock sourced from the craft shop. I decided I did not want a cookie-cutter style and so each invitation card is unique, no two are the same. One side has a shiny-but-slightly-matt surface while the other side sported colourful borders.


Christmas Party Invitation Front




Christmas Party Invitation Back


For each table group, I made a Christmas Tree centre-piece to add a festive tinge to the room and as a tribute to the season. Chocolate hearts were scattered around its base to bring some colour to the table setting.


Christmas Tree Gold


The sugar cookies I baked earlier were also left in plates on each table to serve as snacks for those with a penchant for sweet things. The kids loved them and I was so touched that several came up to say how much they liked the cookies.


Sugar Cookies Plate


This is the first time I baked for a large-scale occasion and I was so touched and encouraged when all the shepherd’s pie, fruitcake and brownie squares were polished off. Alas, Hubby and I were so caught up as hosts that we totally forgot to take pictures of the other food once our guests started arriving and we flitted from table to table, chatting and reveling in their company.


Sidetable of Cakes and Pastries


After dinner, the kids had fun with a piñata lovingly made by my mother. Using only natural materials, she lent her creative energy to fashion a striking piñata, heavily stuffed with goodies and little knickknacks. My mother truly has a way with kids as she organized the kids program that night and all of them, including the older children, had lots of fun.


Pinata Butterfly




Pinata Fish


It was a really wonderful evening spent with family and friends and a satisfying culmination of weeks’ of preparation, to finally know that it had been one great party.

Fruitcake

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fruitcake


The really good chock-full-of-fruits-and-nuts kind of fruitcakes cost a fortune in shops. I love those with minimal flour but simply bursting with aged sultanas. My main gripe is that most fruitcakes sold out there are so much more flour than fruit that naming them fruitcakes is in itself a misnomer.

This year, I was determined to make some at home for Christmas this year. I tried and varied this recipe several times along the way, making adjustments to the balance of ingredients as well as baking time, till I settled on what my family feels is a good enough version.

This is one of the heaviest cake, in the literal sense, that I have baked thus far. More than one kilogram of ingredients have gone into the cake and I was glad I did not stinge. Each bite of the fruit cake yielded a mouthful of fruits and nuts.

Truly, may it herald a year of fruitfulness in 2010!



Fruitcake


Ingredients

200 gm unsalted butter
80 gm light brown sugar
80 gm dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tbsp brandy
1 orange
zest (outer yellow skin) of one lemon
50 gm ground almonds
250 gm assortment of dried and candied fruits
500 gm dried raisins/sultanas
210 gm all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt


Method

1) Squeeze out juice of orange and finely grate the skin. Set aside in refrigerator.

2) Line and grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch baking pan, extend about 2 inches above the pan. Preheat oven to 150oC.

3) Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4) Add 2 tbsp of brandy and all the juice and orange and lemon zest. Fold in the ground almond and all the dried and candied fruits and raisins. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder and fold this into the cake batter.

5) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 45 min.

6) Reduce the
oven temperature to 140oC and continue to bake the cake for another 1½ hours or until a long skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

7) Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. With a skewer poke holes in the top surface of the cake and brush it with the remaining brandy .

8) Wrap the cake thoroughly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and place in a cake tin or plastic bag. Brush the cake once or twice a week with brandy until ready to eat. This cake will keep several weeks or it can be frozen to keep longer.


Reference : Joy of Baking

Sugar Cookies

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blue Sugar Cookies




Pink Sugar Cookies


We will be celebrating Christmas with a party this year. I had a very ambitious plan of preparing some homemade door gifts and googled for some interesting Christmas bakes.

As I tried out some of the recipes, I realized that time is not on my side and the thought of baking a few different offerings as door gifts for a hundred guests proved too daunting. So as a compromise, I decided to make just enough to be eaten at the party itself and gave up the idea of having them as door gifts.

This is one of the recipes that I had fun with – both because of the new experience of using royal icing (something I loved as a young girl) as well as the pretty colours.

Royal icing can be made using egg whites or meringue powder. Due to the risk of salmonella poisoning, I chose to use meringue powder instead. If you difficulty getting your hands on a can of meringue powder, you can search for a recipe using egg whites instead.

I had no idea of the huge variety of food colouring that was available till I stepped into Phoon Huat. There were bottles of liquid food colours, tubes of both white and coloured gel pastes. On top of that, there were the various sizes of icing nibs, squeeze bottles, icing bags and icing in ready-to-use disposable tubes.

It was really fun icing the cookies but if you plan not to frost the baked cookies, you may like to sprinkle the unbaked cookies with crystal or sparkling sugar before popping them into the oven.



Sugar Cookies


Ingredients

Sugar Cookie :
3½ cups (or 460 gm) all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp (or 4 gm) baking powder
1 cup (or 227 gm) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups (or 300 gm) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Royal Icing :
1 cup (or 110 gm) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
¾ tbsp (or 30 gm) meringue powder
Some warm water
Food Coloring
Hundreds and Thousands decoration


Method

Sugar Cookie :

1) In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

2) Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes).

3) Add eggs and vanilla extract, and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until a smooth dough is formed.

4) Divide the dough into smaller portions, wrap each portion in plastic wrap and put into refrigerator. Refrigerate overnight or until firm enough to roll.

5) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 170o C) and place rack in center of oven.

6) Remove one portion of chilled dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch (1 cm).

7) Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to a baking tray, lined with baking sheet. Place the tray of unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 15 min to chill the dough to prevent the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.

8) Bake cookies for about 10 min (depending on size) or until they are brown around the edges. Remove from oven and leave to cool on baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

9) When cookies are completed cool, frost with royal icing, if desired. Be sure to let the royal icing dry completely before storing in an airtight container between layers of parchment paper or wax paper.


Royal Icing :

1) Beat the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder until combined.

2) Add water a little at a time to get the right consistency and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes).

3) Separate the icing into as many portions as required for different colours and/or consistencies.

For out-lining, the proper consistency should be glossy with stiff peaks.

For covering or 'flooding' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.

4) Add food colouring to the royal icing to obtain desired colour. Use a toothpick and add minute amounts at a time, a little goes a long way.

6) After frosting, add further decorations if desired.

7) The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.


Reference : Joy of Baking

Restore Soft Biscuits to Crispy Ones

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Alas! The batch of cookies I made for a Christmas party this weekend had gone soft. I have been wondering how to restore their crispiness as a layer of royal icing on them complicates matters. Previous times, I just popped them into the oven for a couple of minutes and then let them cool on a wire rack. However, the royal icing on this batch of cookies makes this method unusable. It just will not do for the cookies to be crispy again only to end up with a messed-up blob of watery icing on its top.

So when I chanced upon this method, I was eager to give it a try and…it really works!

This method requires some care to calibrate the amount of microwave time required to warm the biscuits/crisps etc rather than overheat them, but once this has been established, the process is repeatable.

I am told that this same technique works for potato chips and other crispy snacks too. Do note that for items that have fillings or coatings that melt under high heat (such as chocolate or jam biscuits), take extra care to limit the heating such that it does not melt the filling/coating. Instead, more cycles of the process can be applied.


lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll


Method

1. Get several cold ceramic dinner plates by putting them into the refrigerator for a couple of minutes.

2. Put a few of the soft biscuits on a plate and put it in the microwave oven. Give it a blast for just long enough to warm up the biscuits but not cook them.

3. Take the plate out of the oven and transfer the warmed biscuits onto a cold ceramic plate. What happens is the moisture in the biscuits evaporates without boiling and then condenses on the cold surface of the plate.

4. Transfer the biscuits onto another cold plate. Dry the first plate, and repeat the process a few times. After several cycles of the process, the biscuits will be dry and crispy.

Fruit and Yoghurt Parfait

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fruit and Yoghurt Parfait Top View


Recently, my brother and sister-in-law have both gone healthy and all in their eating habits. An answered prayer of my mother’s I must say. So in honour of their renewed decision for healthy living, this concoction is dedicated to them.


Fruit and Yoghurt Parfait


I have used kiwis, strawberries and mangoes for their mutually contrasting colours but the choice of fruits is of naturally not limited to these. However, in order for the different fruits to stand out, select fruits of different contrasting colours. The portions below are sufficient for 8 huge servings so do make adjustments as necessary.



Fruit and Yoghurt Parfait


Ingredients

4 green kiwis
12 red strawberries
2 ripe mangoes
1 huge tub plain yoghurt


Method

1) Wash and dice all fruits into cubes. Set aside.

2) Form a bottom layer with strawberries, put 3 tablespoons of yoghurt over them. Form the middle layer of kiwis followed with 3 tablespoons of yoghurt. Repeat for the top layer of mangoes.

3) Leave in refrigerator to chill before serving.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sweet and Sour Pork


The past few weeks have been spent busy perfecting some Christmas recipes for cakes and cookies and other preparations for our Christmas parties. I had hardly any time left to spend experimenting new dishes for dinner.

My father loves sweet and sour pork and sometime ago, I had promised to cook that for him. So I guess, this long weekend was as good a time as any to make good on that promise.

I had noticed that NTUC Fairprice sells cubed pork sold in trays and neatly labeled as sweet and sour pork. And so for convenience, I decided to get this and since it was already all cut to size, I only had to trim off some fatty bits. (NTUC Fairprice has, in recent years, proven themselves to be widely-stocked with a wide-range of fresh produce. With a large branch located nearby, it has been a pretty useful place to run to for any item left out from the family’s weekly market trip.)

The pork cubes were prepared and left to marinate for 5 hours. Each bite yielded tender meat and most importantly, no ‘porky’ smell. We found the dish a little too sweet for our liking and so I have reflected a reduced amount of sugar in the reproduced recipe below. Other than that, the family gave it a thumbs up and every single morsel was polished off.

This recipe is a keeper!



Sweet and Sour Pork


Ingredients

500 gm lean pork (shoulder part), cut into cube-sized
1 green bell pepper, cut into small pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
3 wedges of honey pineapple, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, cut into small pieces
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Some cornflour

Marinate:
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1½ tsp of Hua Diao Jiu (花雕酒)
1 large egg

Sauce:
12 tbsp of tomato sauce
3 tbsp of sugar (reduced amount)
8 tbsp water
2 tsp of white vinegar
Pinch of salt


Method

1. Season pork cubes with light soy sauce and Hua Diao Jiu. Add in egg and combine well. Keep in the refrigerator and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour.

2. Add all sauce ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir to mix well and set aside.

3. When ready to cook, coat marinated pork cubes with cornflour. Make sure all sides of pork cubes are well covered with thick flour.

4. Heat wok with oil over high heat or use deep-fryer. Deep-fry pork for 5 min, or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from wok and drain on kitchen towel.

5. Clean wok. Heat wok with 1 teaspoon of oil, stir-fry chopped garlic till fragrant. Add bell peppers and pineapples, stir-fry for 3 min.

6. Return fried pork cubes to the wok and pour in sauce mixture. Stir-fry to combine well. Fry all ingredients briefly over high heat for 1 min and dish onto serving plate.



Reference : My Wok Life

Book Review : Fame

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fame



Most people tend to view Christian literature as well…boring, dry and functions best as a sleep-inducing tool. Reading has always a favourite hobby of mine, as far back as I can remember, and I enjoy books of various genres. The one thing that I had always wondered is why there is an absence of books written for a widely secular audience but yet loaded with Christian values and presented in a manner that paints Christianity in a positive and appealing light. It would be a perfect way of sharing Christ and His values in a most non-threatening manner.

Over the years, I had concluded that it is probably a case of sensibility – dollars and cents just do not marry seemingly lofty heavenly morals. It would be hard to create a riveting storyline with God lurking between the lines, most people would have turned away. Thus, most Christian authors of secular fiction books will just mention God in their foreword or acknowledgment page.

Imagine my delight when I found Karen Kingsbury’s series of books. If you have not read any of her books, you would have missed out on powerful stories beautifully crafted to illustrate God’s blessings and ways in the lives of ordinary families and people. It is totally refreshing to see how ordinary people struggle with and live out kingdom values. Her stories touch on themes of love, loss, death, forgiveness, fame, acceptance, loyalty, trust, etc. Kingsbury effectively portrays Christianity not as a religion but for what it is – real relationship with God.

God comes through so strongly through her books that as I followed the story, I found myself tearing at times and stopping now and then to pray for myself or my family. You know it is a good Christian book when you feel motivated to do something for God. But you know it is a fantastic Christian book when you are compelled to immediately stop reading to respond to the message God is bringing you through the book. And only after you have responded then you are able to pick the book up to continue reading.

God bless Kingsbury for being a literary agent of God’s message to the world. She is also involved in various ministries ministering to different groups!

Verdict : 10/10. I love all her books!

Curry Puff

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Curry Puff


One lazy afternoon, Hubby made a request for some homemade curry puffs and that started the hunt for a recipe easy enough for me to follow.

We preferred our curry puffs with a thin crust and so I used dough rolled out to about a 0.3cm thickness. Instead of the measly filling most commercially-available curry puffs offer, I determined that each bite of my curry puff be bursting with flavourful potatoes and pieces of chicken and thus, a generous dollop of filling went into each curry puff.

Everyone agreed that the pastry was fantastic but the filling was not salty enough and that was when I realized I had forgotten to add the salt! Nevertheless, my dear supportive family and neighbours finished off all 23 curry puffs that night.

And you know what, my neighbour liked them so much that she requested me to teach her how to make them! K, that affirmation of yours made my day :)



Curry Puff


Ingredients

Filling:
1 big onion, chopped into small pieces
3 big potatoes, cut into cubes
350-400 gm chicken fillet, cut into cubes
10 tbsp of curry powder
4 hard boiled eggs, cut into eighths
some salt to taste

Pastry:
500 gm of plain flour
¾ cup of plain water
¾ cup of oil or 170 gm salted butter, melted
some salt to taste


Method

1. Boil cubed potatoes until cooked and soft. Remove from water and set aside.

2. Add flour, water and oil and knead together for 5-10 min. Let dough sit for 30 min.

3. Stir fry onions in some oil till soft.

4. Add chicken pieces and fry. Then add potatoes and fry.

5. Add curry powder and salt to above ingredients. Continue to fry till fragrant.

6. Add water until it almost covers the ingredients and fry till almost dry.

7. Roll dough to a thickness of about 0.5cm and place it over a curry puff mould. Put the fillings in the middle and clamp the mould shut to seal the edges. Remove excess dough from the edge of the mould. If you do not have a curry puff mould, you may cut the dough into circles and crimp the sides with your fingers.

8. Heat oil in wok and deep fry till golden brown.

9. Cool and serve.


Reference : Moms4Moms Forum

Nonya Kaya

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nonya Kaya 1




Nonya Kaya


One day, out of the blue, my mother and I talked about how people make kaya. It seemed simple enough with only a few types of ingredients needed. I felt it would be an exciting and useful new recipe to try since our families enjoy kaya as a breakfast spread.

The amount of sugar that I have used is reduced as we prefer it to be less sweet but if you prefer yours a little sweeter, do add another ¼ - ½ cup more sugar.

You may also use more pandan leaves if you like kaya of a deeper green colour, I used 12 more pieces to arrive at the colour in my picture. Alternatively, you can also pound or blend a portion of the pandan leaves and strain it for pandan juice which can then be added to the mixture before cooking.

One important point to note is that if you are going to cook it over the stove, ensure that the pot is not warm nor hot when you place the ingredients in it to mix. If the pot is hot, the eggs would cook immediately and you will end up with pandan-and-coconut-milk-flavoured scrambled eggs.

This is the first time I am using this recipe and one thing I learnt was to add a little more sugar water while blending so that the kaya remains moist enough for easy spreading even after storing in the refrigerator. I removed most of the water and I found it fragrant though a little thick.

Hubby loves it so I will definitely be making it again and maybe…just maybe, my family will bid goodbye to store-bought ones.



Nonya Kaya


Ingredients

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup eggs
1 cup sugar
10-15 pieces of pandan leaves, washed and wiped dry

(This recipe makes roughly about 1½ cups of kaya)


Method

1. Wash, dry and tie up bundles of about 5 pandan leaves in each bundle.

2. Measure out eggs, then beat lightly till egg yolk and whites are mixed.

3. Put all ingredients into pot. Turn heat on at small and cook for about 1 hour, stirring continuously. The kaya mixture may look like a lumpy or curd-like substance.

4. Turn off heat and let mixture cool for a while. Remove all pandan leaves then put into a blender. There may be quite a bit of water (this is just sugar water) and if so, drain out some of this water. Blend lightly till smooth. Add more sugar water if kaya is too thick while blending.

5. Pour into jars and let cool before storing in refrigerator.


Reference : If she can do it, so can you

Lemon Cheesecake

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lemon Cheesecake 1




Lemon Cheesecake 3


It has been a long while since I last made a cheesecake and to coincide with Hubby’s home-coming from a business trip, I tried out this recipe. I had previously made a non-bake version so this time, I wanted to try one that requires some baking time in the oven.

That first time, I made the cheesecake by hand-mixing as I had not gotten an electric mixer at that time. Perhaps I did not mix it sufficiently then as the cheesecake turned out slightly heavy. This time, the mixing process was a breeze with my electric mixer. Oh, the joys of modern appliances! However, lest I got too trigger-happy, I was warned not to over-mix for cheesecakes.

Too much air added to the mixture can lead to deep cracks in the top of the finished cake as the air bubbles expand during baking. Another reason for cracks, I learned, is a sudden and rapid change in temperature if the cake is baked at too high a heat or when the cake is cooled too quickly.

Even with this bit of information in mind, I think I must have over-mixed. Towards the end of the baking period, a small crack started to develop across one section of the cake top and when the cake was done, a deep crack was deeply etched on the cake’s surface. Thankfully though, with the help of some artfully-positioned fruits, it still looked presentable enough for tonight’s dessert.

Oh by the way, the recipe is good, the cheesecake was yummilicious :)



Lemon Cheesecake

Ingredients

200 gm digestive biscuits
100 gm butter
4 eggs
175 gm castor sugar
500 gm cream cheese
200gm sour cream
Rind of one lemon, finely grated
Juice of ½ lemon


Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 160oC.

2. Line base of a 20-cm diameter baking pan with baking paper.

3. Melt butter in a medium-sized pot.

4. Place biscuits in a bag and crush with a rolling pin.

5. Add crushed biscuits to melted butter and mix well. Press the mixture onto base of baking pan. Put the crust in the fridge as the filling is prepared.

6. Place eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is creamy.

7. In a separate bowl, mix together cream cheese and sour cream with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. Do not over-mix. Stir in the lemon juice and grated lemon rind. Combine with the cheese and egg mixture.

8. Remove crust from the fridge and pour in the combined mixture.

9. Bake in oven for 40-45 min.

10. Turn off heat and allow to cool in oven with door ajar. Refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.

11. Either leave it plain or decorate the top with fruits.


Blueberry Topping

Ingredients

2 tbs sugar
¼ cup cold water
2 tsp cornflour
1 tbs lemon juice
200 gm blueberries


Method

1. Put sugar, water, cornflour and lemon juice in a small pot.

2. Heat, stir until thickened.

3. Add half the blueberries and continue to cook until soft. Allow to cool.

4. Arrange the remaining blueberries on top of the cake and spread the topping over. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Reference : The Sunday Times, Lifestyle Section

Toot toot time

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Little Buddy's Achievements



Many mothers confess that after the huge investment of time and effort on their firstborn, the same cannot be said of the attention given to their subsequent offspring. I admit that I am guilty of it too.

On the other hand, because of the experience gained in teaching Big Buddy, I have also discovered that I am more effective in guiding my younger one and bolder in leading him to explore areas and concepts that are traditionally reserved for older children. Do not get me wrong, this is not a case of kiasu-ism at work. I do not push my kids unnecessarily and certainly never beyond their interest and capability.

After recognizing both upper and lower case letters of the alphabet and numbers 1-10, Little Buddy breezed through writing them and has mastered writing them from memory. Over a span of 7 months, since I started Little Buddy on written work, he is now able to write his English name, read some English and Chinese words, draw expressively and converse intelligently with a wide vocabulary. He handles writing and drawing instruments well with a firm and confident grip and turns book pages without creasing them.

On life skills, he has been able to use the toilet, remove and wear his trousers and briefs and flush the toilet without help. He can self-feed if he so desires and is able to communicate his needs and wants more than adequately to people around him. He displays a self-confidence way past his 3 years, pooh-poohs babyish games and often prefers older play mates who play more interesting and rowdy games.

He has a strong character with definite likes and dislikes which he does not hesitate to let known. He is strong-willed with firm opinions that are difficult to sway.

Much of Little Buddy’s development has been self-driven as he constantly shows interest in what his brother does, often emulating him in speech and actions too. His progress too has been helped by an exceptional memory, he remembers very well things that were said, taught or done just once.

As I grow along with Little Buddy, I have been pleasantly surprised and secretly proud of his achievements. While he is strong in character and not easy to teach and guide, I rejoice at his well-rounded mental, physical and character development.

Floating Lotus

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Floating Lotus



Over the past two months, I had been in the kitchen occasionally, baking brownies as gifts for friends and cooking some simple dishes. However, it has been quite a long while since I last whipped up something new and my fingers are starting to itch again.

The thought of making something Thai is tempting but nothing too exotic as I am but an amateur in the kitchen still. This recipe seems simple enough and the ingredients called for are easily available.

It tastes a little like Bubur Cha Cha and it brought back nostalgic memories of the time I made that sweet dessert in Home Economics class during my secondary school days. In those days, my class usually treated these lessons with little seriousness, indulging instead in much chatter and laughter as skills like cooking and sewing were the least on our young minds then.

Little did I know then, that I would one day willingly step into the kitchen to cook for my family with such positive anticipation and joy…



Floating Lotus


Ingredients

½ cup thai pumpkin
½ cup taro (yam)
1 cup sticky rice flour
½ cup coconut milk (use only the cream if using fresh)
¾ tsp salt
2 cups pandan-infused water
1/3 cup white sugar


Method

1. Steam the pumpkin and taro until soft, between 10-15 min.

2. Mash the pumpkin, then mix equal parts pumpkin and sticky rice flour together until a uniform paste. Do the same to the taro (separately).

3. Roll into small ¼ ″ – ½ ″ balls and set aside.

4. Boil the balls in hot water until they float. Remove with a slotted spoon and put into a bath of room temperature water.

5. Boil the coconut milk with the water, sugar and salt. Add the balls and serve.


Reference : Real Thai Recipes

Up up and away

Wednesday, August 5, 2009



Last Sunday was Hubby’s Company Family Day and they organized a private viewing of UP at the cinema. There were lots of other kids and it was great fun meeting other families. We were given vouchers redeemable for snacks at the snack bar and we came away with bag loads of hotdog buns, popcorn, nachos and drinks. To top it all, there was a mini lucky draw just before the movie screening and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that our family won a prize.

UP is a stereoscopic 3D movie, requiring specially provided glasses in order to view the 3D effects. It was great fun with the kids reaching out to grab at things that appear to pop-out at them. But yet I wished those glasses came in smaller sizes for the kids as Little Buddy had his adult-sized one falling off his nose.

The movie had a story-line with much more depth than the cute characters and graphics. It explores themes of love, adventure, loyalty and honour, issues associated with aging, making choices and dreaming new dreams with cursory light mention of childless marriage, absent parenting – some in greater depth than others. The emotional aspect was so well portrayed that even Big Buddy caught the nuances and could empathise with the characters at critical moments. It is a wonderful journey of sorts, whimsical and yet poignant.

UP is a fantastic showcase of how far Pixar has advanced over the years. I love their subtle portrayal of unlikely themes and the clever presentation of subjects that may still appeal to the thinking adult.

Go watch it if you can!

Mango with Sticky Rice

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mango with Sticky Rice


Every time we visit Thailand, we will definitely seek out this popular Thai dessert. It is so much cheaper and tastier than the versions found back here in Singapore. The sweetness of the mango goes so well with the fragrance of the coconut milk in the warm and slightly-salted sticky rice.

Sweet ripe mangoes are a key ingredient for this dessert and I had a hard time finding them. They were everywhere just a couple of weeks ago but now, just as they were in abundance then, they are a scarcity now. The recent few that I bought 2 weeks back were sour. To make this dish, I scoured the market stalls till I saw some huge Taiwanese ones. Thankfully, they were delightfully sweet.

A last thing to note : if you do not intend to consume this immediately, please remember not to refrigerate it. It will turn into a rock-hard sticky mess – something you definitely will not want to sink your teeth into!



Mango with Sticky Rice


Ingredients

½ cup raw glutinous rice
¼ tsp toasted sesame seeds or salted fried mung beans (optional)
1 sweet, ripe yellow mango


Sauce for rice :
½ cup coconut milk
¼ tsp salt
1 1/3 tbsp white sugar


Sauce for topping :
¼ cup coconut milk
1/8 tsp salt
1½ tsp white sugar
½ tsp tapioca starch (optional)


Method

1. Soak the sticky rice for at least an hour before steaming.

2. Steam for 20 minutes on medium-high in a sticky rice steamer or in a bowl placed in a covered saucepan with an inch of water at the bottom of the pan.

3. While steaming, prepare the sauce for the rice. Add the ½ cup of coconut milk to a saucepan along with the 1 1/3 tablespoons sugar & ¼ teaspoon salt, and stir over low heat until dissolved. Set aside.

4. Prepare the topping sauce as well. In another small saucepan, add ¼ cup coconut milk, 1½ teaspoons sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt, and stir over low heat until dissolved. Mix the tapioca starch with a little bit of water in a small bowl until a paste, then add as well. Mixing the starch beforehand will prevent any lumps from forming in the sauce. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat.

5. When the rice is cooked, spread out in a shallow bowl and cover with ½ the sauce meant for the rice. Stir well and keep adding more until saturation point is reached – which is usually just before puddles of coconut milk are seen. Stir well and cover with a towel. Let the rice absorb the coconut milk for 10-15 minutes.

6. Slice mango as shown and arrange on a plate. Spoon an equal amount of sticky rice next to it, and top with a few spoons of the thicker sauce. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds or fried salty mung beans.


Reference : Real Thai Recipes

Silky Girl Funky Eyelights Pencil

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Silky Girl Funky Eyelights


The last time I tried a pencil eyeliner was almost a decade ago. The experience put me off pencil liners for good as it was messy with powder fallout. To seal it off, within a couple of hours, the smudge was so bad that I looked like a panda with punched eyes.

Only in recent months after seeing smudge-proof versions in candy colours, did I contemplate revisiting pencil eyeliners. So on a whim, I bought one from Silky Girl since it was on discount at Watson’s. It was so cheap that I thought I could just throw it away with no heartache if it disappoints again.

I had my first opportunity to use my new Silky Girl Funky Eyelights Pencil in Metallic Bronze last Saturday. It was on smoothly enough without tugging although I did not use an eye primer. The colour was too sheer with just one application so I went over twice till I liked what I saw. But I wager one application will be fine for daily light make-up. There was no smudge even after four hours but for all its staying power, it was easily removed with eye makeup remover at the end of the day.

I like that application is such a breeze and it being affordable adds to the overall positive experience. The other colour I was eyeing was the Olive Green one, so now I may just go get it.

Skin79 Prestige Diamond BB Cream

Monday, July 20, 2009

Skin79 Diamond Prestige BB Cream


A slew of Blemish Base (or BB in short) creams has hit the market since a few years ago with many touting it as a wonder must-have beauty product. It was originally developed for post-laser/surgery skin and so it supposedly has inherent gentle healing properties while providing light-medium skin coverage. Most BB creams also contain a sunscreen (both UVA and UVB) and some other properties like whitening or anti-aging.

I have been slow in getting onto the bandwagon because I tend not to have a healthy image of most Korean beauty products. Nothing proven, just a personal biasness.

But just recently since I was on the look-out for a sheer liquid foundation, I decided to give BB cream a try. After trawling CozyCot for reviews on the heaps of BB creams, I bought a sample each of Skin79 Prestige Diamond BB Cream and Dr Jart+ Detox Healing Black Label BB Cream.

Over the weekend, I tried the Skin79 Prestige Diamond BB Cream and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. I dabbed 2 dots each on my forehead and each cheek, 1 dot each on my nose and chin. It glided on very smoothly with a texture that is neither too thick and sticky nor too watery and diluted. It was a very close match to my skin tone with no visible differentiation in tone at the jaw-line even with only minimal blending done. I lightly dusted over with compact powder, and immediately liked how I looked in the mirror.

While I would not use it solely for skincare, it is a convenient all-in-one product that shaves minutes off the makeup routine.

Getting ready for school

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

af_school_bus_child


Knowing Little Buddy’s strong character, we encroached the subject of him going to school very early on although he will only join his elder brother next year. As expected, we encountered resistance from him right from the start and all the way from there.

He argued that he does not need to go to school to learn as Mommy and Grandma can teach him at home. He insists that he is a small boy and cannot go to school yet (he says this when he is asked to do something he does not want). He refuses to go near the school bus when it arrives to fetch Big Buddy and will run off.

Sigh…thankfully he is now more receptive to the idea of going to school after continually talking about school, the friends he will make, the fun activities he will enjoy. Big Buddy’s excited chatter about his school day has helped tremendously as well.

At the current moment, we are stuck at the stage of getting him to accept the idea of going to school in the school bus. Although he enjoys bus rides, for some unfathomable reason, he balks at the idea of getting on the School Bus.

Today, while waiting for a neighbour’s kid, the bus aunty and driver invited Little Buddy to go up the bus and have a look. With much persuasion, he finally relented and allowed me to carry him up and be introduced to the Bus Aunty, Driver and the other children. He remained disinterested and insisted on getting off after a while.

However, it is a positive step forward and hopefully, after today, his resistance will slowly come down and we can soon count it as one challenge overcome…

I can't walk...my leg pain pain

Friday, July 3, 2009

Much to my displeasure, one of the recent activities Little Buddy has taken to is jumping. He loves to climb onto the bed or sofa or the toy box and from there, take a flying leap to the floor.

I should have no qualms if he wears appropriate protective gear and practises his jumps in a safer environment. As it is, I have shouted myself hoarse in stopping him whenever he does this at home. I have taken the soft approach of explaining to him why he should not jump from such a height, the tough stand of punishment in the naughty corner and even caning but to no avail. Once my back is turned, there he is at it again.

That is, until last evening when Little Buddy complained of pain at the back of his left knee and upon examination, I noticed some swelling of the knee. Fearing the worst as he could not even stand without support, I brought him to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital, for an X-ray just in case, he had a fracture. Armed with masks and with apprehension at entering a possible H1N1 environment, we quickly made our visit and left within half-an-hour, thankful that there was only a handful of people at the Children’s Emergency.

I thank God that it was just a strain. Little Buddy had most likely pulled his hamstring, thereby causing some swelling. The doctor bandaged his knee to minimize movement in that knee joint and assured us that recovery should be in sight in 2-3 days’ time.


3Jul09 - Sprained hamstring

Cheese Scones

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cheese Scones


Hubby and I love the salty and cheesy taste. So with the packet of shredded Cheddar cheese in my fridge, I made some Cheese Scones and had them with jam for today's breakfast.

Half-way through, I realized the recipe called for grated, not shredded cheese. I was too lazy to further chop up the cheese, and so used it as it was. The texture was not compromised and we liked its lightness and fluffiness.

I used half the portions for my bake and yielded 20 scones. You may add more cheese if you prefer a cheesier taste.



Cheese Scones


Ingredients

250 gm of butter, semi-melted
30 gm of white sugar
1 egg
500 gm of self-raising flour
250 gm of fresh or skimmed milk
(230 gm to be used in the recipe, 20 gm to brush over scones before baking)
100 gm of Cheddar cheese, grated


Method

1) Cream butter and sugar at slow speed for 2-3 min, or until blended. Add egg and continue beating at slow speed to combine all ingredients. Stop beating, scrap the mixing bowl to dislodge any butter residue at the side and bottom of the bowl.

2) Combine grated Cheddar cheese with self raising flour. With low beating speed, blend in the cheese and flour mixtures in stages. Pour in 230 gm of milk immediately after mixing the flour. Beat till all well combined.

3) Remove dough from mixing bowl, and place it on a floured surface/ kitchen table top. Let dough rest for 20-30 min. Extensive kneading is not required, just knead to form a dough will do.

4) Sprinkle some flour on the dough before rolling out to about 1 inch thick. Flour a round/oval shape cutter of 1.5 inches in diameter (about half a palm-size) to cut out the dough. Flour the cutter constantly and tap it sharply so that it goes through the dough to shape the scones easily. Alternately, cut in squares with knife, and shape it round with bare hands.

5) Place scones on a lightly greased baking tray and brush the top of each scone with milk.

6) Place scones at middle rack and bake in oven preheated to 180°C for 15-20 min, or until golden brown.

7) Leave scones on a colling rack to cool before serving.


Reference : My Wok Life

Mini cyber geeks

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mini Computer Geek


I wanted to create an email account for each of my sons so as to enable them to each own at least a decently-named email address.

Little Buddy has no problem getting his at Gmail since he has a relatively unique name. However, I had difficulty finding something meaningful for Big Buddy. I knew his name was a popular one but was surprised that when combined with his father’s last name, it was still a pretty much common occurrence.

I created accounts with Hotmail and the associated @live.com but I failed to get them to work with my Microsoft Office Outlook despite checking out the various help forums and fiddling around with the settings, etc.

Finally, for ease of checking emails, I decided to settle for Gmail for both fellas till I figure out how to get Hotmail to work with my Outlook.

Me a cyber geek, not!

To the movies

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last Saturday marked the first cinema visit for my two boys.

We were given tickets to watch Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen last Saturday and since the men in my family are crazy over Transformers, I thought it would make a great family outing. On the other hand, I had my apprehensions too.

I had heard that the movie was a marathon 2½ hours long and was in fact wondering if the kids would be able to sit in the cinema for that length of time. Would they fidget, stand on the seats or talk loudly and disturb the other patrons or clamor to be let out? Would they be frightened by the loud sounds or the darkness of the cinema and end up with nightmares at night? Oh my, such a long list of considerations you may say until you know my boys.

Big Buddy is fearful even of Tom and Jerry cartoons when it turns a tad violent. You will never catch him watching thrillers, he heads for a hiding place when suspenseful music comes on to up the ante. Little Buddy is braver but he can be unpredictable. While he usually has no issues with watching suspense thrillers, he refused to sit in for a 5-minute show when we were at the Army Museum two weeks ago because it had gunfire.

Well, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. In the worse case, we will just leave the cinema should the children get too difficult to handle.

And I am glad we went for the movie, the kids thoroughly enjoyed the whole movie experience. As for the loud noises…Little Buddy slept through the last 30 minutes of the movie ;-)


28Jun09 - First Movie (Transformers Revenge of the Fallen)

New toys again

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The boys were recently given a box of Kid Knex constructors by their Grandfather and I secretly love this new toy myself. Many stores sell the Knex for older children but not Kid Knex for the really young kids.

A lot of thought has been put into making this range of toys because the pieces are of excellent quality, well-built with no sharp edges which may pose some danger to young children. They are easily joined together with simple yet secure connectors, colours are bright and vivid and the end-results, simply too cute for words.

Here are the boys with some of their creations on an early Sunday morning.


Knex Dragon Fish



Knex Bird



Boys with their Knex Creations

Is there school today?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Big Buddy would ask me this everyday till he finally understood that school is out. The mid-year school holidays will come to end in a day’s time when school officially starts on Monday.

It had been a whole four weeks of fun and play for both boys. Little Buddy enjoyed having his elder brother at home to play with and at Big Buddy’s instigation, gets into a whole lot more mischief than usual. To balance out, I try to set some semblance of routine with time set aside for some holiday work, otherwise it will be tough for Big Buddy to settle in to school when term resumes.

Due to the quick and rampant spread of the H1N1 pandemic, we decided not to travel overseas for a vacation. While it is not really deadly for most, we will definitely not court it. Moreover, it is a hassle to have to declare our travel itinerary to schools and offices on our return. We also limited mall shopping, preferring time spent outdoors and at less crowded places.


School Holiday Adventure


It had been a great break for Big Buddy but I think he looks forward to seeing his friends again. This past week, he had been counting down to next Monday and I daresay, I too, will be glad when school reopens : )

Shepherd’s Pie

Sunday, June 21, 2009

We are celebrating Little Buddy's birthday today and I made this as one of the dishes. It will be the first time I am cooking something for a major celebratory affair.


Shepherd's Pie Tray




Shepherd's Pie Portion





Shepherd’s Pie


Ingredients

6 big potatoes, cubed
½ big white onion, chopped
1 tbsp chopped garlic
300 gm minced chicken or beef
1 small can of button mushroom
1 cup of mixed vegetable
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
some milk
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp of plain flour mixed with 3 tbsp of water


Method

1. Stir fry onion and garlic until onion is soft. Add in minced chicken/beef, button mushroom and fry until it is cooked.

2. Add in whole can of cream of mushroom soup and add one can of water and mix well. Add in mixed vegetable. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the prepared flour mixture a little at a time to thicken the fillings to a texture you like. Discard the unused flour mixture. Leave the fillings aside for later use.

3. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add in all the cubed potatoes and boil until it is soft. Drain the water and pour soft potatoes into a big mixing bowl.

4. Mash potatoes quickly while it is hot. After mashing, add in the whole cup of cheddar cheese and mix well. The heat of the potatoes will melt the cheese. Add in some salt and pepper to taste. Add in some milk to the mashed potatoes but not too much as the mashed potatoes will turn slightly wet and soft during baking.

5. Pour the fillings into a glass baking tray or metal baking tray. Level the fillings and top it off with the mashed potatoes. Spread evenly.

6. Sprinkle more shredded chedder cheese on top of the mashed potates and baked it in a preheated oven at 200°C until the top is brown and crispy.


Reference : Baking Mum

Chocolate Crinkles

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It has been a long while since I made any entries in my blog. Please forgive me as I had been up to my neck in work.

My family loves anything chocolate and when I saw this, I knew I need to try this out. I baked this quite some time ago and unfortunately, I did not manage to take any pictures before they were polished off.



Chocolate Crinkles


Ingredients

170 gm dark chocolate
85 gm butter
185 gm plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking powder
115 gm sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt


Method

1. Place chocolate and butter in a metal or heat-resistant glass bowl, set it over a pot of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. When the mixture is glossy and melted, stir and set aside.

2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Set aside. (B)

3. Beat sugar and eggs until thick and smooth. Add vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Mix until combined. Add B and salt, mix till well combined.

4. Scoop dough out into plastic container with tight-fitting lid, cover and refrigerate over night.

5. Preheat oven to 170 deg C. Take dough out of fridge and let soften for 20 min.

6. Line cookie sheet with baking paper. Scoop out generous tablespoons of dough, roll into balls and place on baking tray about 3cm apart. Place unused dough back into fridge.

7. Bake 10-12 min until tops are cracked. Remove from oven, let cookie cool on baking tray for 5 min then transfer to metal rack to cool completely before serving.



Reference : Field Guide to Cookies by Anita Chu

All things nice and beautiful

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I pride myself as someone with relatively good taste and discerning enough to appreciate the finer things in life. Not that I am good at creating lovely things, but more of being able to recognise a well-designed item when I see one.

During my moments of web-surfing, I sometimes chance upon some fabulous blogs. They exhibit such a refreshing style of artistic flair in the writing, layout or design that gets me all inspired. So much so that, I have decided to bookmark them at the new column I created at the left.

So if you happen to know of any other design-worthy blogs, do drop me a line. For now, do enjoy these.


Little Hen Designs

Aesthetic Outburst

An Indian Summer

Butter Cookies

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I bought these cute Disney cookie cutters at Carrefour last weekend and could not wait to use them in my next baking adventure. Big Buddy wanted the Winnie the Pooh series while Little Buddy loved the Marie ones – no surprises there since he has always loved cats.

Disney Marie Cooikie Cutter

Disney Pooh & Tigger Cookie Cutter


Finally too, I got to use my new cake mixer for the first time. It was such a breeze compared with brute arm power for the previous occasions.

The buttery dough was very soft even after refrigeration so I added some floor to it so that it becomes less sticky. I also floured the cookie cutters so that the dough does not cling to it.

Marie and Pooh Butter Cookies



Tigger and Marie Butter Cookies





Butter Cookies

Ingredients

250 gm butter
130 gm icing sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla powder/essence
400 gm plain flour
½ tsp baking powder


Method

1. Cream the butter and icing sugar until creamy.

2. Add in eggs and vanilla powder. Beat well.

3. Fold in flour and baking powder.

4. Knead lightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper until 5mm thick.

6. Use cookie cutters to cut into shapes and put them onto greased baking tray.

7. Bake at 160c for 20-25 minutes.


Reference : Baking Mum

For the little kid in each of us

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hey folks, go check out Mini Modern.

This is a fascinating website showcasing sleek mini room and house displays made up entirely of mini furniture and figurines. It is really amazing, the lengths and efforts the creator has gone to in order to setup each of those rooms.

Here are some preview pictures of what's available. Absolutely exquisite and drool-worthy, are they not?

Mini Modern 1



Mini Modern 2



Mini Modern 3

A new kitchen toy

Sunday, April 5, 2009

After relying on arm power for a couple of times, I finally decided to pamper myself with a mixer. After my experience with the Steamed Sponge Cake, any mere thought of having to hand-beat or hand-whisk another bowl of batter really scares me off. Since I intend to embark on a conservative plan to bake at least once in two weeks, it may well be a reasonable investment considering the bargain price I got it for.

A cursory browse in any of the larger electrical stores will boggle your mind with various brands and their myriad of functions. Most of these high-end models will easily set you back by a couple of hundreds or even a thousand dollars. It will be madness for a novice baker like me to go for one of these Rolls-Royce mixers - I can hardly justify the expenditure! Brands like Kitchenaid and Kenwood will sit well in kitchens well-fragranced by the aroma of frequent bakes. My budget will instead be something less than $60, with as many functions as possible and made in an as-reliable-as-possible nation.

It had taken me a few weeks of researching functions and plenty of price checks before I decided on the Philips Handheld Mixer HR1561. However, a quick pop into Best Denki today showed that the Philips Stand Mixer HR1565 was on sale at $62. When I next checked in with my regular electrical appliances supplier, I was offered an even better price than that.

And you know what? The best thing is that in the end, my mixer was gifted to me by my mother :)


Philips Mixer HR1565

The saga continues...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Good grief! What else can they do to further distinguish themselves with notoriety? The pediatrics clinic with bad service that I was ranting about earlier just scored themselves a further black mark in my book.

On Tuesday evening, the usual pediatrician that my children see was closed so I had no choice but to bring Big Buddy to him. Big Buddy was in tears and complaining of pain at his ear/jaw area as he ate his dinner. Fearing a possible episode of mumps as I could feel a swell, Hubby and I decided to bring him to seek medical attention.

The conclusion was that it could be a possible lymph node infection or a case of early mumps. So, on the safe side, Augmentin was prescribed as Big Buddy had two previous lymph node infections that resulted in incisions to drain abscesses that formed. When the nurse advised on the medicine dosage, something struck me but what it was did not register till we came home.

Last night, I decided to do an online check on Augmentin and its recommended dosage for children as I had a hunch that something not right. I discovered that the amount prescribed Big Buddy (2.5ml) was way below the recommended range for children his age. I then dug up past records that I kept and confirmed that the dosage that he last took in 2008 was 7.5ml. This represents a huge disparity of 5ml so I called the clinic to seek clarifications.

It was then that the attending nurse confirmed that the dosage advised us is in error and it should be 7.5 and not 2.5ml! Apparently the nurse attending to us that night made a mistake when typing the medicine labels. Although thankfully, the swell and pain had subsided, given Big Buddy’s history with lymph node infections, this is something that could have led to actions more drastic than oral medication being needed.

I am shocked at the grave mistake made by the clinic. Granted that the doctor called me within short notice to apologise, I sure hope my feedback will result in his staff exhibiting better care and attention in this area.

My Favourite Brownie

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hubby is a big fan of brownies and has been dropping hints for me to make him some. He often picks up those brownie pre-mixes on supermarket shelves, asking if they were any good.

I really have not much confidence in baking, secretly wondering if a microwave oven can do a decent baking job. I have heard several comments about how dry cakes can get when baked in one. But when I came across this brownie recipe and saw the number of successful bakes achieved by various people, I felt I needed to give it a try.

Since I do not own a measuring cup, I used the equivalence of 1 cup = 150g. This recipe is really just about measuring and mixing before finally, my boys topped the brownie mixture with some mini M&Ms for decorations just before it gets sent into the microwave oven.

This post not only marks my first bake but also the first food item churned out from my kitchen that I felt confident enough to present as a gift to someone not in my immediate family. I only intended to make some brownies for our own consumption but after seeing how chocolatey-rich it tasted, I decided to make a second batch for a close relative.


My Favourite Brownie In Tray





My Favourite Brownie


Ingredients

1¼ cup or 150 gm all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup or 80 gm unsweetened cocoa powder
2¼ cup or 450 gm white sugar
½ cup or 75 gm chopped pecan nuts
¾ cup or 180 gm melted butter
4 eggs


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan.

3. Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Stir to blend.

4. Add melted butter and eggs and mix thoroughly.

5. Add pecan nuts and mix thoroughly. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan.

6. Bake for 25-30 min in preheated oven. Cool completely in pan before cutting into 2 inch squares.


Reference : Mum Loves Cooking

Should I set up another blog?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Looking at my recent posts, I seem to be documenting my exploits in the kitchen more often than not…which has set me thinking…

There are several people I know who maintain more than one blog. They compartmentalise different facets of their lives and journal them separately on different blogs. This approach has its benefits since it allows each blog to have its own distinct flavour with a sharper focus, thereby attracting a more targeted group of readers.

I am contemplating grouping all my recipes into a separate blog. It will certainly be neater and more reader-friendly. People who are into meddling around in the kitchen may not necessary be interested in the tidbits of my life. While friends interested to know what is going in my family may hardly be bothered with what I am cooking/baking, unless of course they are coming over for dinner.

On the other hand, one more blog means double the effort in upkeep and double the discipline and diligence in posting regularly. Otherwise, one of the blogs will most definitely be neglected or left to collect dust somewhere in cyberspace.

Sigh…I have yet to decide so I will probably chew on the idea some more. That is until either impulse on the spur of the moment will push me over and I set up my recipe blog tomorrow or I procrastinate long enough till the idea dies a natural death.

Steamed Sponge Cake (鸡蛋糕)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I saw this on my sister-in-law’s recipe blog. What caught my eye were the incredibly little amount of different ingredients required and the few steps needed to arrive at the end-product.

I still have not bought an electric mixer and so, the beating was done the old-fashioned way – by hand. My arm felt ready to break by the time the mixture was deemed ready to be poured into a tray for steaming. But then again, this would be classified as a labour of love :)

Steamed Sponge Cake 2



Steamed Sponge Cake 1





Steamed Sponge Cake (鸡蛋糕)


Ingredients

200 gm self-raising flour
200 gm sugar
4 eggs


Method

1. Beat eggs and sugar together till ribbon stage is reached and the mixture is pale yellow in colour.

2. Gradually fold in the flour till well-mixed.

3. Pour the mixture into a baking pan and sprinkle sugar across the mixture into a + sign.

4. Steam on high heat for 25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.


Reference : Live Life & Live It More Abundantly

Tiramisu

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I think I have become addicted to the euphoria of a recipe turning out fine on its first try. Not that I profess to be great in the kitchen or anything like that though. For a family with some picky eaters, the indication I use for a dish turning out fine is when it gets finished up with no fuss.

Hubby has been requesting for Tiramisu and finally I found a popular recipe that seems do-able for a novice like me.

I did not follow the recipe to the dot. Blur me only realised that I had forgotten to buy fresh milk when I was about to begin. I decided to risk it with instant milk reconstituted from the powdered milk we take instead. The taste was still fine, although I would make sure fresh milk was available the next time I make this again. Since liquor is not something we enjoy, I decided to forgo that and use black coffee as its substitute instead.


Tiramisu Whole


In my household, the domestic helper usually does the daily mundane cooking. So, the satisfaction of knowing that you possess the ability to contribute something different and tasty to the table keeps me going.


Tiramisu Slice


As the saying goes : The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, Hubby’s smile as he spooned the last bit into his mouth says more than what he verbalises.



Tiramisu


Ingredients
44-48 lady fingers
pure cocoa powder

Syrup:
180 ml water
180 ml milk
180 ml liquor (cocoa or coffee)
50 ml rum
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp melted chocolate or chocolate syrup

Cream:
450 gm mascarpone cheese
450 gm liquid whipping cream
200 gm castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
30 ml liquor (cocoa or coffee)


Method

1. Roast the lady fingers in the oven at 160°C for about 5 minutes.

2. Beat very well the whip cream and 100g sugar until sugar is dissolved. Do not overbeat as whip cream can turn to curds.

3. Beat very well the cheese and 100g sugar until sugar is dissolved.

4. Combine beaten whip cream and cheese with vanilla essence and the liquor. Place in the refrigerator.

5. Place all the ingredients into a measuring cup and warm it for 30 seconds in the microwave.

6. Place a layer of lady fingers on the bottom of the baking pan.

7. Using exactly half the liquid, sprinkle evenly all over the lady fingers.

8. With a tea strainer and teaspoon, powder with cocoa all over the lady fingers.

9. Take 1/3 of the cream and place it in the middle of the cake. Push the cream towards the sides of the pan until it touches the walls. The cream must touch the walls all around, and make sure the cream is well-spread with no holes communicating with the lady fingers below.

10. Place next layer of lady fingers over the cream. Sprinkle the rest of the syrup, followed by the cocoa powder. Place the rest of the cream on top of everything.

11. Level well and sprinkle with plenty of cocoa powder.

12. Refrigerate overnight.


Reference : Sweet Decadenze