Monday, 3 December 2007

Gingerbread Boys & Girls

'Naked' gingerbread

Work in Progress

The Boys

The Girls


Another 1st time attempt! Really feel like giving myself a pat on my shoulder for this...hee. Its Xmas season, time for I decided to try to make gingerbreadman. My recipe produced 39 pieces of boys and gals, packed them in packs of 2. Brought them to the office today and distribute to close friends and colleagues who have kids.
Guess this is something that kids will appreciate it better than adults. Even before I reach office, I had given a pair out to one of my CCF kids, whom I saw at the bus-stop waiting for her school bus. She was delighted! Just seeing the smile on her face made my day.
I used the recipe from the book published by Culinary Institute of America. Pretty accurate, but just be careful about the amount of flour to be used. Depending on the flour, sometimes you may need to use a little more then stated in the recipe. My dough turn out so soft even after chilling, that i have to add in another tbsp of flour to make it rollable.
As for the icing... hee, its easy. 1.5 cups of icing sugar, sifted mix with 2tbsp of water. Pipe designs on the gingerbread using a paper cone. The CIA book provides good details on folding piping cones.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Chocolate Cupcakes

Realised by now that the top 3 ingredients you need for a cake/ dessert/cookie are: 1) good quality chocolate (i mean at least >60%), 2) unsalted butter, 3) raw/brown sugar.
Had the above ingredients at home and decided to whip up some cup cakes.
Recipe? Sorry.... I did not use any form of measurement this time round.... I am serious. Lazy to take out my scale and beaters, so decided to do everything by estimation. :P Don't anyone of you out there has such feelings once in a while? When you see Nigella Lawson just scooping flour from the container and says that's 2 cups of flour when you CAN'T tell at all and you are just amazed/ wondering how she manage to guage? hahaha...
But... steps wise, here's how I do it.
1. Combine the softened and cut butter, 64% choc pieces and brown sugar in a mixing bowl over simming water. Its about 80g of choc and 100g of butter. Sugar... about 2 1/2 tbsp.
2. Use a plastic spatula to mix it during the melting process. When it's done, let it cool about 5 min.
3. Sift in this combination: 2 tbsp wholemeal flour, 1tbsp cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp of baking soda, 2 tbsp of almond meal. I sift this directly into the choc mixture.
4. At this point, use a whisk to combine everything together.
5. I added an egg to the mixture, which bounded everything together... So, I added approx 1/4 cup of whipping cream to loosen the mixture abit.
6. Added some brandy soaked raisins for flavour. I guess you could add anything at this point... chopped walnuts, dates, prunes, choc chips.... whatever you have in your pantry. :) Sounds fun right?
7. Pop them into a 180C pre-heated oven for 20 mins. Check for doneness with a wooden skewer. Depending on your oven temp, might need a little while more. I had mine inside for additional 3 mins.
Made 6 cupcakes.

They are on the office table now, for my colleagues breakfast. :)
Have fun experimenting, be daring and try out... think about it? what's the worse that can happen? Overcooked cake, I suppose? :)

Sunday, 18 November 2007


Yes! I did made hummus today! Was surfing the blogs on Friday and saw this recipe from the Wednesday Chef. Bought a 250g pack of dried chickpeas from the supermarket on Sat, and decided... what the heck, so do it... Well, there are alot of recipes lying around which I want to do, alot of office work to clear, and things in the kitchen pantry waiting for me to use up before they expire. And of course, things to blog about. :)

So, whatever, this is my first attempt in making hummus. Boy, am I glad I did it. No more store-bought hummus after this time. All that cleaning up of the food processor was worth while, when I saw W's eyes grew big after his first taste of the hummus. We are fans of Mediterrenean food; tzatiki and hummus being 2 of the popular dips we love when we were in Greece for our honeymoon.

Thanks Luisa, for this wonderful recipe. It's really a keeper! Basically, it made my Sunday! :)

Friday, 16 November 2007

TGIF - A week of work and no play

This week is not the best of weeks I can have. Doing Singapore assignments is the worst thing that can happen to me in work. Things takes longer to be given to you, people are slower to get back to you on your questions... and people go on leave without telling you! when you need them!!! Urghhh....

Well, to make myself feel better mentally, i decided to blog an entry before i leave the office. Quite unproductive today, no mood to work, as u can see... well these kind of stuff does happens once in a while. Anyway, its quite impossible that I can complete my work by next Friday. There are tons of stuff to plough through next week.
I am already thinking of the dinner I am going to cook later... :p
Ok guys, have a great weekend. I know, I still owe the entry on the chives kimchi... going to polish it off later... Might be doing hummus this wkend...hee

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Saturday - Breakfast and Dinner

Saturday... a day to catch up on sleep, housework, exercise, office work and whatever you can't finish in the first 5 days of the week. Something that I always look forward on Saturday is breakfast. Not that I don't eat b'fast during the week, but its always eaten in front of the laptop in office. So, Saturday is a great time to sit in a coffee shop; a simple one will do... kopi and a piece of kueh... that's all and I'm satisfied... total cost? $1.10. Damn, could have been a dollar if not for the 10c price increase for the ming jiang kueh...haha...wonderful way to start the day. Loved the way the kueh was done at this stall. The filling is crushed peanuts and sugar, a weekly indulge for me. I can't stand those with a filling similar to peanut butter, gooey and messy, with no fragrance at all. The best ming jiang kueh I had was actually in Cameron Highlands, where the skin is thin and crisp, not like SG's version where the skin is so thick. The ancik will add crushed peanuts, sweet corn and a little condensed milk! hahahaa... sinful rite? But so so good...yummy...:)

Dinner... W is finally back from his trip to Jarkata. Well, apparently he had loads of fun eating and shopping for real Polos. According to him, he ate loads of carbs and well, put on weight of course.

Planned for Sat's dinner two night ago. Decided to try out the chives kimchi I read from a TW recipe book. Also, in order to clear my pantry, decided to do a fried rice cakes. So on Thursday, I soaked the dried chinese rice cakes, changing water daily. As for the kimchi, it was an experience doing it, getting a bit of mess on my t-shirt. But luckily the result tasted ok... none of us had a tummy upset... :) Will be writing up the recipe for these 2 dishes in the next post... for now... need to clear some office work... that's what happens when your boss gives you a laptop...:P

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Dinner at Eden Cafe

Scallops in egg yolk and lemon sauce, with the strawberry champange

Penne in Chocolate and Olive Sauce

Polenta cake with sundried tomatoes and feta cheese

Lavender roast chicken

Mahi-Mahi fish with almonds and lemon sauce
Trio of desserts: Chocolate Ganache
Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper Moouse Cake
White Wine Jello with Osmathus and ElderFlower
Great Place with great food... and of course great company! Dinner with the lovely bride-to-be and the jie meis.
Venue was held at Eden Cafe, located in Club Street. Though the restaurant was admist all the pub joints, the interior was very cozy and homely. All thanks to June, who knows the Clement, the boss, we were fortunate enough to have a 8 course sampler menu... washed down with a beautiful strawberry champange from Chile.
Lovely ambience, though I think we were quite a nusiance, with our loud garfaws...:P
No complaints about the food... all of us polished everything off the plate. We thought we won't be stuffed since the portions were not big...but...BUT... we were so STUFFED that we just din want to move at all...haha

Well, great place and I will definitely be back... ;)

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Taipei - 1st week

1 week has since passed for my Taipei trip. Not sure how many pounds I have piled on and the amount of saturated fat that I have consumed...*sob*...but, I am not regretting it... :D
The chocolates and cookies served to me when I checked in at Shangrila is already a sign...haha. The cookies and chocolates are sure good... ;)
On the 1st night, we visited Ximending and had the famous mee suah. Three of us bought a small bowl and stood among the locals, happily slurping down the mee suah, even though the tougue is scalded by the hot soup. Lovely, marvellous... Move away, SG's version of that ShiLin oyster mee suah. Although this 'Ah Zong Mian Xian' does not have oysters, it has bits of the pig intestines, paired with a sprig of basil leaves, black vinegar and chopped garlic. There's no problem in wolfing down a 2nd bowl!
The 1st work week is pretty uneventful...until Friday! All of us can't wait to get off work. Threw our bags in the hotel room and zoomed off to 'Wu Fen Pu', a fashion area. Nothing much...for us actually, haha...we are getting old. Also went to the nearby nght market. Waited long time to visit the night market. My tummy is ready for anything and everything! Saw a queue in front of this stall, so... typical Singaporeans... we join in the Q! Hee, it was a treasure found. Piping hot bun, baked in a hot stone stove... the juices literally flowed from the buns... yummy...

This is just the beginning.. will be posting up more pics which I took over the weekend... :)

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Chocolate cake in a bowl

CHOCOLATE! Really thankful to the person who invented chocolate for cooking...One of the best creations on earth.
Haven't been baking for a while and I really can't stand it. But I was so busy that I just don't have that 2 hrs to spend in the kitchen!
So when I saw th recipe on Su's website, I was really eager to have a go at it. What's more, W is in town to share my guilt. haahaa...:P
Followed the recipe, a bit apprehensive at first, cos I nvr baked using a microwave oven. Used Carefour's 64% baking chocolate for this recipe. Other modifications include using wholemeal flour, raw sugar, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence.
Result? OK... I know it looks damn gross in the pic...but it really really REALLYy taste damn good! Even W applaud it. Only thing is that the cake can't hold its shape, thus the mess on the plate.
This is a recipe that can be easily doubled and baked in individual ramekins for small dinners. Don't omit the fruits and whipping cream to serve. They are very impt and accompany the chocolate cake/pudding very well.
As I am writing, W is eating... a peep into the bowl shows only 1/4 left...haha...maybe I should do another one before i leave for TW tomorrow, keep him company for 2 days maybe...if it can last that long... ;)

Friday Dinner

Fridays are special for me. Maybe it's becos in my first job as an auditor in the Big4, we will slog through the week and chill out on Friday. So Fridays are just different.
Now, Fridays are STILL different, haha... esp when W is around. We usually eat out on Friday, but with a fish in my freezer and me leaving on Sunday, means that I have to cook on Friday... Not very exciting, but well... for a change.
Something simple, I don't want to use too much crockery...
Decided to do a fried beehoon and baked the black promfret... It's easy to do, and can be done even when you have very little ingredients in your fridge...:)

Baked Promfret( or any whole fish or fish fillet)
1 tbsp mirin or sherry
1 tbsp black soya sauce
Dash of black pepper
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of paprika
Marinate for a good 15mins and place the fish on a double layer of aluminum foil. Wrap the fish and back in a preheated oven of 190 degrees. My oven's temp is abit low, so depending on your oven, you can use 180. Bake for 20 mins.
When 15 mins has passed, take the fish out, open up the foil, and put a dash of pepper/salt mixture on both sides of the fish and let it continue for the rest of the baking period.
Because it's baked, so all the juices of the fish are retained. Pair it with some good chili sauce and its really bliss.

Fried Beehoon
No recipe here. You can add what you like and what you have on hand. Some points to note, after my fry beehoon experience:
- Soak the beehoon overnight, or at least 2 hrs before frying with hot water. This makes frying easier.
- Fry the ingredients first. Dried mushrooms, Black fungus, dried shrimps, whatever. Fry it with some olive oil till its fragrant. If you are adding veg like peas or seafood, only add it just before you add the beehoon. And fry it only for a min of so, cos it will still continue to cook when you are frying the beehoon.
- Prepare a mixture of water and dark soy sauce, about 100-150ml beforehand. Abit of estimation..hee. As you fry the beehoon, it will be very dry and the mixture need to be added slowly and stirred thoroughly.
- A long pair of chopsticks will also help in the process.
- Remember, don't add too much soya sauce in the beginning. If the beehoon is bland, more salt/ soy sauce can be added. If it's too salty... I have no idea what you can add... *wink* Happy cooking!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Lunch at Provence

Chocolate Wassants

Has been a while since I last blogged...sigh... staying in SG does not mean alot of free time. Everynight was packed with stuff, either work, yoga lessons, thai lesson or volunteer work. On Friday night, I just wanted to sit down and stone in front of the TV, not really concerned about what was showing and the type of junk I am shoving down my throat. These are just some days that you feel like self destruction...hahaha

Well, I do have days when I am more obedient though. Last Saturday, finally went to my yoga class with W in Holland Village. Lunch was a question mark, both of us not knowing what to eat.
Earlier, I have read about this Japanese bakery called Provence which sells lovely bread...hee, I am a bread person through and through, no matter how hard I control it, I still fall for it alot alot of times!
Finally found it! Its just under the food court at Lorong Liput, diagonally opposite the hawker centre. When we stepped in, it was...'Wow'... the bread and the queue forming behind the cashiers...I had a happy time selecting the breads and the sandwiches...:)

W wolfed down teh chicken teriyaki sandwich before I can take a pic of it. The wassants are lovely!!! A pack of 10 or 12, I can't remember cost me $5... not cheap but worth it. It is only out at the shelves everyday at 12noon and the regulars make a beeline for it. For me, I literally take whatever people are taking...haha.

Also bought the Brazilian cheese bun, French sesame cream cheese, and some others...lovely... I can drool just thinking back the fragrance of the breads and cakes...Doing all that yoga seems to defict the purpose...but who cares! :D

Monday, 17 September 2007

Shermay's Cooking School - Chocolate Making Class

Chocolate scone at Dao Palo
Chocolate cups
My first chocolate making class! I had it at Shermay's Cooking School in Holland Village. Had a yoga lesson in the morning and spend some time having lunch at Dao Palo... great food there. The chocolate scone does not have the floury after taste that most scones have. Wait till W is back, and we will have our lunch there. Just looking at the stuffed mushrooms, eggplants and pizza make me drool... although the items are abit pricey... :P
Anyway... chocolates.... the class was packed. The instructor was Frances Wong, a chef from The Patissier, along with Terence, a Temasek Poly student on attachment.

Frances is very clear in her teaching on the basics on chocolate making, tempering etc. I volunteered for the marbling and the dipping process, which was so enlightening...haha... Only Valhorna chocolate is I did not waste the chocolate that was given to us for dipping. After all the ganache was dipped, the remaining chocolate was put into small little cases and dressed with almonds, chocolate pearls and stuff.

The class gave me alot of ideas for Christmas gifts which can be delivered easily. Well, apparently this is the last class of the year... Friends, if you like to attend, you have to wait till next year. This is the website, where you can find the schedule for the rest of the year... ;)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Mango and Passionfruit Cheesecake

Did another cake for a colleague's birthday. She loves cheesecake and mango, thus the combination. This item does not need any baking. Looked through quite a few recipes, trying to decide what goes into the cake.
Couple of recipes... the main source one from Imperial Kitchen and some others on the internet. Along the way, I made some modifications since I do not have gelatin leaves.

Variations made:
- Used 1 block of cream cheese instead of mascarpone.
- Used 250 grams of marie biscuits, mixed with 2 tsps of cocoa powder. Marie bisuits tend to be drier, so I added slightly more melted butter. The trick is if the crumb mixture does not come together after you press them in your hands, you will need more butter.
- Used juice and zest of 2 big limes. Zest is mixed with the cream cheese during the creaming stage, while the juice is added in the last stage after the whipped cream is added. The juice acts as a thickening agent for the cheese, and adds a tang to the cheese, which is a nice contrast.
- I did not use sour cream. Only added 200g of whisked whipping cream. Did a boo-boo on the whipped cream. I over-whisked it and the water separated from the fat! All in a matter of seconds...haha... Had to run out and buy another portion.
- Oh yes, I added 1 cup of low fat condensed milk! I had my reservations initially over adding condensed milk. But after searching through a few recipes, I realised that quite a few added this item. To my pleasant surprise, the end result was a very smooth batter, and the sweetness is just nice for someone like me who don't have a sweet tooth. :)
Of course, no further sugar is added.

I had the whole cake stored in the freezer overnight, and cooled in the fridge on the day of serving. You would realise that the passionfruit will start to 'defrost' and trickle down the sides of the cake. It's ok, let it be, as it enhances the flavour of the cake.

Not too difficult a recipe to make... :) Will make this again based on request...kekeke...

Chewy Junior

Chanced upon these cute little puffs at Tanjong Pagar. The name of this shop is called Chewy Junior. Its like a cross between cream puffs and doughnuts. Personnally, I think they are healthier than doughnuts in Krispy Creme and Doughnut factory. At least the puffs are baked, not fried! heehee. Sorry if I offend any doughnut lovers out there.
They are sold at $1 to $1.20 each, and they are just next to the famous Chocolat n Spice muffin shop in Tajong Pagar market area. The hot sellers are the Choc Museli, Choc Madness and the Oreo crunch. The size of each puff is just nice, not too guilty...haha
Heard a 2nd shop is already on the way, I can foresee another queue will be forming soon....:)

Dinner for Two

Being back home with W means more home cooked food. I mean, instead of having dinners at my mum's place, I prefer to cook for 2. Time to horne my cooking skills before they go rusty... also before all the stuff in my kitchen cabinets grow mouldy and expire!

Grilled Salmon Belly
These are lovely salmon belly pieces we found at cold storage. How to cook them? Simple. As long as the fish is fresh, I do them in only 2 ways, either steam or grill them. All you need is the following to marinate them:
- half a lime/lemon
- pinch of sea salt
- ground pepper, freshly ground if you can
- handful of fresh herbs. I use coriander. For those we don't like the coriander smell, you can always change to dried oregano, or fresh basil.
Season them for about 15mins, and put them on the oven grill. I put them for about 10mins in the oven.
Out comes the nice, crisp salmon belly with all the omega-3 fat oozing out...lovely.
I paired it with fresh local lettuce, so that the fish smell is not too overwhelming.

Briased Black Moss with Dried Oysters and Dried Mushrooms
This is a dish usually eaten during CNY. I have alot of dried oysters in the freezer, not knowing what to do with it. Decided to be a little bit hardworking and made this dish. If you want it for dinner, it's best to cook it in the morning and let the flavours develop throughout the day.
- Dried mushrooms
- Dried oysters
- Dried Black fungus
The above items should be rinsed and soaked overnight separately. I did not state the quantity as it's up to each person's preference. For 2 pax, i used about 10 pcs of dried mushrooms, 15 dried oysters and 3 pcs of dried fungus.
- Black moss
- 2inch piece of cinnamon bark
- 1 star anise
- 3 cloves of garlic, bashed but still with skin
- 2-3 tbsp of dark soy sauce
- 2 tsp if light soy sauce
- 1 tsp of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of stock or water

Brown the garlic with olive oil till fragrant. Then, add the cinnamon and star anise. When the fragrance is released, about a min or so, add in the mushrooms, oysters and fungus. Stir fry them for a min. Add the black moss in and fry for a while more. Add in the soy sauce and sugar. Also add the stock at this time. Simmer it over a low fire for about 20 mins. If the liquid is drying out, add more stock/water.
Generally, the ingredients can be cooked quickly, but time is required for the ingredients to absorb the flavours and seasonings. Patience and time is required for this dish.:)
Before dinner time, just reheat the dish and serve it on a plate of lettuce. :)

Tiramisu with Strawberries

This is post that should be posted long time ago... Just could not find the time to do it. Made tiramisu with strawberries for my colleague Ashley right after I came back from Sydney. Promised her a tiramisu for her bday.
I remembered coming across an article on Straits Times on the recipe for tiramisu. Did 1/4 of the recipe, using 250g of mascarpone cheese. However, I used close to 400g of strawberries. Instead of just egg yolks, i also used the egg whites by whisking them stiff and mixing them into the cream cheese mixture.

Forgot to take a picture of the 'cut' version, all was gone before I can remember to take... ;)
Verdict: Could do with an additional dash of liquer into the coffee bath mixture. The strawberries with cointreau is a refreshing change to the traditional tiramisu. There were leftovers of the sliced strawberries which W and I happily ate. :)

Sydney trip, Part 2

Has been back from SYD for more than a week now. Was so tied up that I can't find the time to blog. There are so many dishes cooked/baked but no time to load up... The above pics on the Harbour bridge and Opera House were taken on my last night in Sydney. The job has been tiring and I spent the last night having Vietnamnese food in Chinatown, walking up along George St, stopping at Gelatissimo for my favourite chocolate gelato, and ending up at Opera House for the breath taking view. Will miss the time spent in Paddy's market buying the nuts and dried fruits and the time at Fish Market, buying the fresh oysters and sashimi, sitting by Wentworth park watching the rugby training and seagulls. It's just so mind relaxing. Guess the next time I will be back in AU will in 2008... till then, I have these pics for memory. :)