Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Year after year, I swear to myself I will not cook Christmas dinner. Yet, every year, I still do. Darn. I must be quite happy torturing myself. This year is kind of stressful as Christmas fell on a weekday. I was really undecided whether or not to cook but I relented in the end. I started brining the chickens on 23rd and sent my helper to get the stuffs ready. I had wanted to try out Terri's Chestnut stuffing. I didn't have time to go to the market on weekdays so I sent my helper. When she happily reported she got hold of the chestnuts, I was quite glad. The supermarkets are selling a can of chestnut puree (about 400g) for S$8.95. When I saw what she bought, I realised I must have been communicating in Martian. She bought water chestnuts. Okay, something must have gone wrong with my description. I told her chestnuts have brown shells and hard but I forgot to tell her they don't come in brown skin and covered with mud.

So with Terri's recipe, I did some damage control and turned it into mushroom stuffings. I roasted 2 chickens instead of a turkey. It's the same effort and since my oven can roast 2 chickens at a time, I offered to cook dinner for my parents. The result is slightly better than my previous attempt of roasting a whole chicken. I have taken a cue from Terri , to cover the chicken with aluminium foil in the initial stage of roasting. Perhaps I still have to get acquainted with the oven. The tips of the wings got burnt but having roasted the chicken breast down, the meat was rather juicy and tender. I stuffed the chickens and truss them. During roasting, the stuffing oozed out a little, making it look like the chickens are pooping. It was quite amusing actually so I asked Ah Girl to watch it. Oops, I hope the description doesn't spoil your appetite.

Mushroom Stuffing
400g Potatoes, boiled
80 g grated cheddar

1 Tbsp Butter
250g Brown Button Mushroom, diced finely
1 large Onion, chopped
2 sticks Celery, diced finely
1 Granny Smith Apple, diced finely
2 Tbsp Vodka (and a few swigs if stressed, I did)
120g day old bread, cut into 1 cm cube
1 Egg
1-1/2 Tsp Sage (crushed)

Salt, Sugar & Pepper to taste

1) Mash the potatoes and cheese and set a side.

2) In a frying pan, add butter and onions, fry till slightly browned. Add on mushrooms, celery and apple. Season to taste and fry till quite dry. Add vodka and turn off flame.

3) Set aside to cool and add bread, egg, sage and mashed potatoes.

The chicken is accompanied by pumpkin soup and salad with yoghurt. I was too tired to take pictures of those. The stuffing is slightly too much for 2 chickens. I baked them in tartshells and turned out to be quite delightful.

After dinner, it's dessert time. That was when my dear girl commented that I am her chef and waitress. Thank you very much but I much preferred to be waited on. I made 2 snowman. 1 frosty found home at my parents'.

Frosty looking a little sinister after being lit up.

I also made some mince pies but I'll save the recipe for another time.

And yes, I survived another Christmas dinner! As for New Year's dinner, I'll just stick to stir-fries or sushi.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

This fruitcake was baked some time back. I have always used my aunt's fruitcake recipe and have not tried others. The dried fruits are soaked in rum for more than a month. I am usually busy during Christmas, mostly because of work. But this year, I had to rush through a cardigan for Ah Girl. On top of that, I have some orders to fulfill. Then, there is Christmas dinner and I totally forgot making a log cake for the family. Not that we have a tradition celebrating Christmas but it's my mom's favourite festive season and I need an excuse to indulge. Ahahah.. And kids do love Christmas.

I'm glad that I have delivered my fruitcake orders and they are now in good hands (remember to feed the frutcakes). Sort of free up my baking schedule a little. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all readers; silent readers, those who left their comments on my blog and those who took time to write to me, those who I have met, those who I have not. I have made new friends and update my old pals of what I have been up to through this humble blog. It's been a great journey so far and thank you for making it enjoyable. Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a blessed year 2009.


Happy Birthday Lil' Miss!

I was asked by girlfriend, M to bake cupcakes for her dear girl's birthday party last Saturday. This little missy has specifically asked for cupcakes. However, her mommy still preferred a small cake for her to cut. So in the end, I baked 12 cupcakes and a 6 inch cake for her (vanilla and chocolate sponge cake). I tried to order a cake topper for this but the delivery was late. I only received the topper yesterday! I guess little missy must love 'Dora the Explorer' to bits. I remembered her birthday cake last year was the same theme too.

I had help from Zu from Quick & Easy Treats. Cheerful, soft-spoken lady who helped to print the images on wafers. I was busy with work and didn't go searching for the pictures I wanted to use. Lastly, I even forgot to attach the pictures to her. Sorry for rushing you, Zu. You've been a great help. I collected the printouts on the day itself and rush off to do some other errands. I reached home to decorate the cakes at around 5.00p.m.! And the party was at 7.00p.m. Good thing I have all the other stuffs prepared.

I was in a hurry so the pictures taken were not that great (not that I have been taking great pictures with my handphone). I made the cupcake inserts myself. I have this precision tool in my company that can do this. *Ahem.. I was thinking of making the inserts to sell and give my boss a fee. Hee~~ Ah Girl was invited to the party too. We stayed till about 10.30p.m. and she had a great time. She was very reluctant to go home. Well, me too actually. There was some nice wine going around. Eheheh.. but then I thought about Ah Boy~~ Thanks for inviting me and Ah Girl, M. We enjoyed ourselves and glad you, little missy and your guests enjoyed the cake. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

WW2 Zero Aircraft Cake

I was asked to do a customised birthday cake for Betsy of Knotty Bicsie. She is a friend of my tatting craft mate Jullie. It was a black forest sponge cake with chocolate cream and I added some Mars bars between the layers. Her hubby is into remote control aircraft and particularly liked the Japanese Zero Aircraft. I did some research online and based on the picture she gave me, I finally got it made.

But not without heartache and sleepless nights. It was far from my initial concept of the cake. I was supposed to make a stand to alleviate the plane over the cake, using the cake's weight to balance the stand. I tried to use pastillage as I read that it dries bone hard and is much stronger than gumpaste and fondant. I made 3 stands and left them to dry for 3 days before trying them out. However, I do not know if it is because of the humidity here or was it that I had rubbed in shortening. The strength just wasn't there. And this is what happened.

My heart broke along with them too. That was 2 nights before I had to deliver the cake! So I went back to gumpaste. I applied the Pythagora's theorem (I really did the math okay?) to make an inclination of 45 degrees.

I did the planes with part gumpaste and part pastillage. The smaller parts done by pastillage dried okay. I tried to make the propellers smaller but after breaking 3 of them, I gave in to the idea of obscenely big propellers. Only 1 plane will get to take flight. Unfortunately, 1 plane did slipped off the support during transportation, despite of bubble wraps. The support gave way. Aarrgh~~!! I let Betsy do the final assembly (placing the plane on the cake) as she needed to take it to her hubby dearest. It was supposed to be a surprise! I cut some candles into shorter lengths to represent the runway lights.

Tell you what, Ed, you are 1 lucky guy!

Presents from Betsy to Ed. Betsy's blog has the picture of the runway being lit up. Go take a look~

Here's the picture I mentioned.

So it was after 10 eggs, 3 Old Gold chocolate bars, at least 3 pounds of icing sugar, 7 sleepless nights and panda eyes that this cake got delivered to you. Happy Birthday! And glad to be a part of your celebration!

I would like to experiment with pastillage again as I know what can be achieved with it. Meantime, I will be busy with work and have some Christmas orders to fulfill. So please bear with me for the time being.

Till next time~~ じゃね~~