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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~~

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Tatter's Cake

Recently, I have just picked up a new craft, tatting. It is an art of creating lace with just a simple thread and a shuttle or needle. I must say this craft is intriguing and addictive. Last Saturday, members of this interest group (Shuttles & Needles) which I joined had a small gathering. I thought it would be great if I make a cake of the same theme. To be honest, I have no inkling of needle tatting. So if the loops I made for the needle is incorrect, I apologise.

This cake was fun and pretty straight forward. I cut out the shuttles freehand and made a hole so that the thread can thread through. I made the incomplete lace with a real shuttle and wind the remaining thread on the ones made with gumpaste. After the needles dried, I had to thread it. My hands were trembling when I did that. I was afraid that the thread might break the needle. It's a relief that it didn't happen. I used silver dragees and sprinkles to represent beads. I don't think it would be wise of me to try replicating beads using gumpaste. That would have killed me. The most daunting part was winding the yarn to cover the lump of gumpaste. The gumpaste was first colour-matched with the yarns and painstakingly wound. After the first 2, I sort of gave up. Doing this at 2 a.m. sent me seeing stars.

The end result was somewhat satisfactory with some flaws here and there. I had some of the crumbs this morning, leftover when I levelled the cake and it tasted moist. That is when I realised my mistake. I should not refrigerate the cake after covering it with buttercream. I thought it would be better if the buttercream hardens a little before I lay the Marshmallow Fondant. Not only the cake tasted abit drier, the fondant sweats. Fortunately, the ladies were gracious enough to say it tasted and looked good.

So here's the recipe which I used as a cake base.

Mocha Pound Cake
180g Butter
180g Fine Sugar

1/4 Tsp Salt
1-1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
100g Evaporated Milk + 1-1/2 Tbsp Coffee Granules (dissolved)

160g Cake Flour
40g Cocoa Powder (I used Valrhona)
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/8 Tsp Baking Soda

*Sift together

3 Eggs

1) Prepare and grease a 7 inch round pan. Preheat oven to 170 degrees.C.
In a mixing bowl using a hand held whisk, cream butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add salt, vanilla essence and whisk well.

2) Add in coffee solution and whisk till incorporated. Add in flour mixture, using lowest speed, mix well. Add in egg and beat well after each addition.

3) Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or till skewer comes clean. Tent the cake if necessary. Overturn the cake onto a cooling grid.

You can serve it as it is but I made Coffee flavoured Swiss Meringue Buttercream to go along with it.

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Adapted from Taste Goblet's blog)
4 Egg White
3/4 Cup Fine sugar
200g Unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Pinch of salt
1/4 Tsp Cream of Tartar

2-1/2 Tbsp Coffee Granules + 3 Tbsp Evaporated Milk (dissolved)

1) In a heat proof mixing bowl, add egg whites, salt and sugar and place over simmering water.
With a hand whisk, beat continuously, heat until egg whites are hot and all the sugar is dissolved.

2) Remove from the heat and place on the mixer. Whisk on medium speed, add in cream of Tartar and whisk until meringue is stiff, and the mixing bowl is cool to the touch. The meringue should look shiny and sticky.

3) Using medium speed, add butter, a few cubes at a time, till butter is incorporated. The mixture, at some point of time will look curdled and separated. Continue beating and it will come together again.

4) Increase the speed to high, add in coffee solution and beat till smooth.

I forgot to take a cross-section of the cake and of the gathering. Guess my mind was on strike due to the lack of sleep. Ah Boy is teething and having some discomfort. After I finished with decorating the cake, he woke up and fussed for a couple of hours before I could hit the pillow. @_@

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Crunchy Chocolate Chips Cookies

I think I made these cookies last week. Well, I couldn't remember which day exactly. Must be the age thing. I was busy with Ah Girl's cardigan, I can't seem to find the motivation to bake. And there was work. As there was a class party at Ah Girl's school, I decided to bake cookies for them. It was a perfect excuse. I, of course, consulted 'her royal highness' before embarking on this baking project. The thing is that; Ah Girl has this selective sweet-tooth. There are only few certain cakes and cookies that she would eat. Not at all adventurous. However, to my surprise, she loves 潮州甜豆沙饼(潮州劳饼), those Teochew traditional cakes. Perhaps it is time for me to explore into that area?

Back to the cookies. Ah Girl has suggested that her friends should have Chocolate Chips Cookies. I have made Chocolate Chips Cookies a couple of times but did not yield the texture I was looking for. I prefer my cookies crunchy. I do like chewy cookies too but I have made some which became soft too quickly. I googled and found this recipe. I am glad that I tried. This recipe is a keeper. I tweaked the recipe a little and the cookies remained crunchy on the third day. I later discovered that the cookies were wiped out by the other kids and teachers and my dear girl didn't even had 1 cookie. She said she was distracted by the fishballs her classmate contributed. Photobucket Okay, so I saved some for us. While she nibbled and returned half of it back to me, Ah Boy ate 2 in 1 go. Ah Boy! Mommy loves you!! *Muak x 5

Crunchy Chocolate Chips Cookies (adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s cookies)
125g Butter, at room temperature
125g Fine Sugar
105g Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

190g Plain Flour
30g Cornflour
1/2 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp baking soda

*Sift together

135g Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
50g White Chocolate Chips (I ran out of Semi-sweet chips so I subbed with this)

1) Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius. Line baking trays with baking sheets.

2) In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar till fluffy and pale. Add egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until blended.

3) Add in flour mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon until just blended. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.

4) Wearing gloves, shape the dough into small balls and place on the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

5) Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool briefly on the sheets before transferring them to the racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers when cooled.

*Note : I am using a convection oven with fan thus I have lowered the required temperature. If you are using a conventional oven, suggested temperature is 180 deg.C.

Happy baking!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

7 Useless Information About...

... Rei.

I have been tagged by for the same meme by Jane and Yuri. I am supposed to state 7 random facts about myself and pass on it on to seven fellow bloggers. Thanks to them both, now you will get to know 7 useless information about me. Ahahah.

1. I have never cooked deep fried food for my kids so far and intend to keep it that way. I am a firm believer of 'to eat right, you have to start 'em young'.

2. I am against eating foie gras, soft shell crabs, frog legs and exotic animals. And I am working towards saying ‘No’ to shark’s fin at wedding dinners.

3. My favourite flowers are Jasmine and Chrysanthemum but have never received any of them as gifts, even though I requested.

4. I am academically inclined towards physics, chemistry, biology and psychology. I don't really do sports except swimming and archery.

5. I studied Mechanical Engineering and aced in workshop practical such as welding, turning and milling but my work has nothing to do with it.

6. I was not a coffee drinker until I worked as a part-time waitress at UCC café. I was in charge of brewing coffee using a siphon. I'm addicted to the smell of coffee since then.

7. Almost never watch horror movies and have irrational fear of clowns and monkeys (or people who personify them).

I would like to pass this tag to the following fellow bloggers.

1. Ganache Ganache
2. Bento Pet
3. All Things Purple
4. Rojak Rendezvous
5. Feed My World
6. Greg & Nee On The Go!
7. Love In The Kitchen

Here are the rules for tagging:
Link to my blog (tagger) on your blog.
Give seven facts about yourself.
Tag another seven bloggers by leaving a comment on their blogs and letting them know they were tagged and listing them (and their blogs) on your blog.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chirashi Zushi

Chirashi Zushi (ちらしずし), also known as 散寿司 is the ultimate Japanese party food if you asked me. There is actually no strict rules in preparing this and can be very versatile. All you need is sushi rice and various toppings that you like, may it be raw or cooked. If you want to prepare raw fish, just make sure they are fresh and properly chilled. If you use a nori sheet, you can make them into Maki rolls (卷き) or Gunkan (军舰).

I usually serve this like buffet-style. I will prepare all the toppings and lay them on the table. The guests will just choose what they want on top of the rice. For the above, I prepared the following (clockwise) :

1. Prawns
2. Grilled Unagi
3. Shredded Egg Omelette
4. Sakura Denbu
5. Flying Fish Roe
6. Nori Strips
7. Crabmeat
8. Salmon Roe
9. Cucumber Slices
10. Julienned Takuan (pickled radish)

The most time consuming preparation is the prawns and crab, especially the crab. I had to steam then de-shell them. It can be quite tough if you don't have the right tool. There is a type of scissors for crabs but since I don't have it, I used a satay stick to help me. I didn't prepare any raw fish unfortunately; 1) I don't have a sharp sushi knife for cutting fish, 2) old folks don't take raw fish too well. A sharp knife is necessary for cutting raw fish, else it will leave the slices unappetitising and it is a shame to waste good, sashimi quality raw fish.

This is how I make my sushi rice.

Sushi Rice
Wash rice as per instruction on the package.
Cook 2 cups of rice with dried kelp (5cm length, optional) in rice cooker. Remove kelp after rice is cooked.

Vinegar mixture (This can be adjusted to your taste)
1/4 Cup of sushi vinegar
2-1/2 Tbsp fine sugar
2/3 tsp of salt

1) Stir the vinegar mixture till sugar and salt dissolve. Sprinkle some vinegar mixture onto big mixing bowl (use glass ones, no plastic or metal).

2) Scoop out the hot rice into the bowl. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture on the rice, using a rice scoop to stir well. In another hand, use a fan to fan it (or you can mix the rice in front of the electric fan). Remember not to mash up the rice. When done, cover the rice with a damp cloth.

I much prefer arranging the ingredients using a square container.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Strawberries Cheesecake

Last Saturday was my sis, S's birthday. After having Lemon Curd Cheesecake I made for sis J in August, she requested a strawberry version for her own birthday. Her birthday and mine is just 10 days apart. Coincidentally, my kids birthdays are also 10 days apart. Well, for my birthday, I didn't have any cakes. I didn't want to bake myself 1 either. Instead, I was treated to having durians. That, coming from a durian-hater IH.

This cake is quite popular among friends and I have got quite a few orders since its debut in August. I am glad to make this cake for S. It meant that there is another way for me to decorate cheesecake. I had wanted to cook my own strawberry jam for this cake, but I think it would a waste of the fresh berries. So I changed the game plan a little. I experimented with a few cutters before settling for this six-petal one. I pureed about 320g of fresh strawberries for this cake. The strawberries were halved and placed upright on the biscuit crust. All in all, I think I might have used at least 450g to 500g of strawberries. I am very happy with the result and will be adding this to the menu.

As much as I enjoyed the process of making this cake, I hope S liked it and that it met her expectations. Happy Birthday!

*Update to add recipe*

Strawberries Cheesecake
Base :
120g Digestive Biscuits, crushed finely
40g Softened butter

Filling :
8 to 10 Strawberries (depending on size), sliced into half
100g Cream Cheese, bring to room temperature
100g Yoghurt (Paul's set yoghurt)
70g Fine Sugar*

1 Tbsp + 1/2 Tsp Gelatin
3 Tbsp Boiling Water
*make sure the gelatin is melted and kept warm

200g Strawberry Puree**
200ml Non Dairy Whip Cream, whipped to mousse state and chilled

Topping : (Optional)
Some strawberry slices
1 Packet of Tortally Jelly (Strawberry flavour), use as per instruction but you won't be using all

1) Prepare a 7 inch loose base round tin. Mix the crushed biscuits and butter in a bowl. Transfer to the cake tin, using a small spoon to press the base evenly. Chill in the fridge for later use.

2) Arrange the halved strawberries against the tin. In a mixing bowl, using a electric whisk, whisk cream cheese, yoghurt and sugar till mixture is creamy and no lumps. Pour in the gelatin mixture, using a hand whisk to incorporate well. Add in strawberry puree and whipped cream, stir well.

3) Pour into the prepared cake tin, using a spatula to level the surface. Set the cake before decorating with strawberry slices and jelly. Leave to chill for at least 3 hours. Remove from tin.

*Note : As the strawberries were rather tart, I adjusted the amount of sugar accordingly.

**Note : To make strawberry puree, simply take 320g of fresh strawberries, blend well and sieve.

I do apologise for not being able to disclose much about the decorating method as I am selling this cake in this pattern. Appreciate your understanding.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Orange Chocolate Brownies

Made this for the same Filipino party some time back. Besides coconuts, I think Filipinos/Flilpinas love chocolates. Adults and children will swarm around those who bring chocolates home as gifts. I know of 1 helper around my neighbourhood, she brought home close to 8 kilos of chocolate when she went home for holidays. I don't know if anyone suffered from nosebleed. I was told that some chocolates in Philippines are brittle as the chocolates were mixed with flour. Perhaps that is why one has to bring 8 kilos of chocolate back to Philippines.

I am a hoarder and collector. I like to collect recipes, cook books, crochet patterns. My birthday, last week, I received 5 cook books, 2 crochet pattern books and 1 pattern book on tatting from friends and family. Earlier, a friend sent me a bread slicer from Australia. I just like to tell you all how much I appreciate them. You people really know me. I hope I can put them into good use. The following recipe is adapted from 1 of the books (Brownies, by Linda Collister) which I left there collecting dust for a while. I thought rich, chocolate-y brownies would be a good idea for a Filipino party.

Orange Chocolate Brownies (adapted from Cranberry & Dark Chocolate Brownies)
200g Plain Chocolate, break into smaller pieces(I used Cadbury Old Gold)
200g Butter, diced to small cubes

3 Eggs
170g Fine Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange

200g Plain Flour
100g Diced Almonds (original recipe used cranberries)

1) Prepare a 8 x 8 inch square pan. Preheat oven at 170 degree Celcius.

2) In a heat proof bowl, melt chocolate and butter over a pot of simmering water. Leave aside to cool for use later.

3) In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs and sugar. Add in zest and whisk till mousse-like. Pour in chocolate mixture. Sift in the flour, add almonds and mix well.

4) Bake for 20 minutes or skewer comes clean. Do not overbake it. Leave to cool in pan and cut into squares. Or you can serve warm with ice cream.

I love brownies but I seldom bake them even though they are quite easy to put together. Due to the chocolate content, it is considered as 'heaty' food. I will have to take plenty of water after consuming.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Buco Salad

I first heard of Buco Salad on Terri's blog. As she aptly puts it, it's absolutely refreshing and a hit at the barbeque. I was invited to a barbeque party not long ago by a Filipina. She is a PR married to a Singaporean and teaches in Ah Girl's school. Among those invited were fellow Filipinas/Filipinos who are working here as domestic helpers, engineers, teachers and of course, Singaporeans like me. Eversince I saw the recipe that Terri has put up (practically drooling at all her food pics), I have been wanting to try it. What detered me was the coconut scrapper. I couldn't find it anywhere here in Singapore. I am not sure if the scrapper is available at Lucky Plaza though.

So I told my helper about the scrapper thingy and she came up with this. I think it's brilliant!

She said she used to make this when the scrapper was not available. Just a piece of bamboo, metal strips cut out from a condensed milk tin and raffia string, you have a coconut scrapper! Sometimes we are just too reliant on gadgets. But having said that, I have asked my helper's sister to bring 1 along when she arrives here in December. Ahah. With the scrapper problem solved, nothing beats bringing Buco Salad to a Filipina party. In case you are wondering, Buco is coconut in Tagalog.

I couldn't find Nata de Coco that are in bigger chunks. I know that will give the salad a better texture. Instead, I got hold of a 1kg packet of Nata de Coco bite-size bits swimming in light syrup. I forgot the weigh the Nata de Coco after draining. Tsk. The wet market near my place is only selling old coconuts. I got those pretty-young-but not-too-young coconuts from Shop 'N' Save. Below is the recipe adapted from Terri's Marylou's Buco Salad. It is a rather forgiving recipe so you don't have to bee too particular about the measurement.

Buco Salad
4 Coconuts, hacked open and scrape flesh
1 can 850g Fruit Cocktail, drained
1 Packet 1 kg Nata de Coco in light syrup, drained (I bought Strawberry Flavour for its pink colour)
1 Cup Whipping Cream
3 Tbsp Condensed Milk
1/8 Tsp Rose Essence

Toss everything together in a large bowl.

*Note : Remember to retain the coconut water for consumption, refreshing for a hot day! Do not scrape too deep into the coconut flesh or you will get pieces of husk attached.

** Note : Terri mentioned that Tropical Fruit Cocktail should not be used as there is too much soft papaya.

***Buco salad should be served cold. Best prepared the night before and freeze. Thaw before serving. Alternatively, make it a few hours before the party and freeze it.

Before the party was over, the salad was gone. That's how good it is. Give it a try!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chilled Blueberries Cheesecake

My mom has been asking me to stop baking eversince she noticed my expanding waistline. But the baking bugs are hard to kill, you can't spray 'em with insecticide for sure. Every now and then, I will still bake but I did divert my attention to the crochet hooks. To keep up with the pace I set for myself, I decided not to bake during weeknights. Thus you will see less stuff churning out of my kitchen. However, there has been this nagging thought on my mind. Given the amount of time I am sitting down now; instead of my waistline, would, you know, my behind be the next to 'prosper'?

Recently, the term that kept coming up is 'spreading the wealth'. Well, I don't have 'wealth' to spread around but I am all for sharing. This is a well-loved combination among my friends. Usually, when I make a chilled cheesecake, it is meant to be a gift. I don't usually get to eat it. Which is great! I get to create something but didn't have to put on weight. That's a good way of spreading the fats love around. In case you are worried, this recipe is a healthier version and induces less guilt. The recipe is the same as this cake Lemon curd cheesecake, but I replace lemon curd with blueberry puree.

Blueberries Cheesecake
Base :
120g Digestive Biscuits, crushed finely
40g Softened butter

Filling :
100g Cream Cheese, bring to room temperature
100g Yoghurt (Paul's set yoghurt)
60g Fine Sugar

1 Tbsp + 1/2 Tsp Gelatin
3 Tbsp Boiling Water

*make sure the gelatin is melted and kept warm

200g Blueberry Puree*
200ml Non Dairy Whip Cream, whipped to mousse state and chilled

Topping : (Optional)
4 Tbsp Blueberry Pie Filling
1-1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

*Mix well

100ml Non Dairy Whip Cream, whipped stiff and chilled

1) Prepare a 7 inch loose base round tin. Mix the crushed biscuits and butter in a bowl. Transfer to the cake tin, using a small spoon to press the base evenly. Chill in the fridge for later use.

2) In a mixing bowl, using a electric whisk, whisk cream cheese, yoghurt and sugar till mixture is creamy and no lumps. Pour in the gelatin mixture, using a hand whisk to incorporate well. Add in blueberry puree and whipped cream, stir well.

3) Pour into the prepared cake tin, using a spatula to level the surface. Leave to chill for at least 3 hours. Remove from tin.

4) Choose your desired piping tip and pipe the whipped cream along the edges of the cake. Spoon and spread the blueberries pie filling on top of the cake. Decorate as desired.

*Note : To make blueberry puree, simply take 220g of blueberries pie filling and add 20g of water, blend well and sieve.

Usually, I would love to add fresh berries to the cake but blueberries are not in season now and 1 punnet (250g) is going at S$6.95 as compared to previous price of S$3.85. My wallet didn't like the idea so I would have to make do with the canned ones. It worked well by the way.


Gumpaste Recipe

For those who have written to me about the recipe I used for the gumpaste flowers and butterflies, here it is. The original recipe can be found here. The reason I chose this recipe instead of those using Gum Tragacanth is because it is a cheaper alternative. I read that it also holds better in humidity. Making your own gumpaste is definitely cheaper than buying commercial ones.

For those who are using regular mixer, like my Philips Cucina, the below recipe will not fry your machine as I have already quartered it from the original recipe. You will need to make this at least 24 hours beforehand to allow the paste to mature. The flowers and butterflies I made, dried fairly well after 24 hours.

Nicholas Lodge's Tylose Gumpaste
1 Egg White
8 Oz. Icing Sugar
4 level Tsp Tylose Powder

Some Crisco Shortening

1) In a mixing bowl, beat egg white with dough hook on high speed.

2) Set aside 1/4* cup of icing sugar. Using low speed, add remaining icing sugar to the egg white. Turn to highest speed and beat till soft peak.

3) Turn the speed back to low and sprinkle tylose powder over five seconds. Turn the speed up to the high setting for a few seconds. The mixture will became quite thick.

4) Sprinkle the work surface with the reserved icing sugar. Remove the mixture from the bowl onto a work surface. Rub your hands with shortening and knead the paste, adding icing sugar gradually till you get a soft but not sticky dough. Wrap the paste tightly with a plastic bag and keep it in a ziplock bag.

5) Refrigerate for 24 hours.

6) Bring paste to room temperature before use.

For storage instructions, kindly follow the link provided.

Happy decorating!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Bentos Series 8

Couldn't really think of a title for my bento posts so I decided to numerise them from now on. And what an auspicious number to start with! You may have noticed now, my favourite furikake is Umeshiso (梅 しそ). The slightly sourish taste from dried plum and the fragrance of perilla leaves makes even plain rice interesting. Previously at the Hokkaido fair at Isetan's, my mom bought some sun-dried furikake. There were so many varieties and I was especially glad that she bought the one with Ume. I love it to death!

Stir-fried Chinese Spinach with Shimeiji and Carrots, Tomatoes. Devilled egg with Tuna in Hot Mayonnaise (canned food). And of course, rice with Umeshiso furikake.

Rice balls with sun-dried furikake filled with Natto (纳豆). Weird combination it may seem, but it really goes very well together. Stir-fried beans with white baits (good source of protein and calcium). Tamago-Yaki, Tomatoes. Dates, raisins with various nuts.

Niku-tofu (肉豆腐), Jaga-imo with beans, topped with pan-fried white baits. Rice with sun-dried furikake and Apples and Blueberries.

Somen with Umeshiso furikake (again), Chinese Spinach, Tamogo-Yaki. Chicken with Hijiki.

My desperate attempt in increasing my milk supply by adding soup in my menu. Just a simple fried rice with eggs and beans. Carrot, potato and chicken soup. I should have added Umeshiso furikake too. Tsk.

それじゃ~~ Till the next bento!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wedding Cake For A Friend

Judging by how many shots I took for this cake, shows how proud am I of this cake. I took a total of 58 shots of it. Scary huh? Well, pardon me for overindulging and self-bragging because this is the first wedding cake I have made. My first attempt on making gumpaste from scratch and of course, my first gumpaste flowers and butterflies. The review came back; the couple loved the design (well, I think the bride will love it more than the groom. It's a 'girlish' cake afterall) and the family enjoyed the cake as well.

Thanks to the vast information online, I am able to make this cake a reality. If you are into cake decorating, do join this new community. There, I learnt the importance of lining a fruitcake with marzipan before fondant. The fruitcake recipe is from my aunt and I have yet to have her permission to post it here. My apologies. If I were to do this over again, I would try to roll out the gumpaste as thin as it would go. I am still not too satisfied with the results yet.

This part of detailing took me quite abit of time. I was afraid that the whole thing will not form a proper sequence, but I guess my 'guess-timation' was spot on this time. In case you are wondering, they were sugar pearls, difference sizes of dragees and gumpaste cut-outs, glued together with royal icing. I did not purchase expensive flower or butterfly cutters for this project. The Sakura flower cutters were actually from Daiso. They are vegetable cutters meant for my bentos really. The butterfly cutters are those cheap plastic cutters for cookies. So if you are new to decorating, do not go out and kill your wallet by buying those expensive cutters. Like me, I do not know how long my interest in gumpaste and fondant would last. Start with the cheapest tools you can get your hands on first. In my opinion, if you could use the simplest tool and make something grand; you will get much more satisfication out of it.

Another view.

Close up on the butterfly and flowers.

Okay, this is one of my backlogs. This cake was done in September, that's how far behind I am with my posts. Anyway, 1 down, a few more to go. I need to find some motivation. But now, it's back to the hooks again.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Snowskin Mooncakes

I know I'm terribly late posting mooncakes here. But I would like to dedicate this post to my mom and my best friend, H. A guy who has a sweet tooth for mooncakes. H's affair with my mom's mooncakes started 13 years back. Back then, my mom started a little venture selling her mooncakes. They were well received by friends and relatives. Then it started the ball rolling when they in turn, introduced the mooncakes to their friends and relatives. Then, my mom stopped selling after a couple of years, as she hurt her wrist. H was rather devastated. He wanted to know when he would be able to taste those mooncakes again. He would come reminding me every mooncake festival. I guess I was hated at some point. Ahahah~~

To be honest, I wasn't very keen to pick up my mom's skills as her method took like forever to knead the dough. This year, I finally made the effort. But I found that the water and flour ratio had to be adjusted. Probably due to the water absorption of the flour. H was elated when he received the mooncakes. He was kind enough to say they are very close to my mom's version. I know there's still room for improvement. I promise you, H, next year, it will be better. I will try to supply you mooncakes until you are 60 and beyond. Ahahaha~~ I promise you mom, that I will upkeep your standard. Thank you for passing the recipe to me. I took a bold move to sell the mooncakes this year and the feedbacks have been good. After a long, long hiatus of 13 years, all my mom's client base is gone. I hope to rebuild mine slowly. Clients said they will be back next year. Shall see then. Ahahah~~

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vanilla Apple Cake

ただいま~!It's great to be back! Well, it's great that my helper is back. I had to work from home for the past 2 weeks when she was not around. First, Ah Girl cried for the first 2 days because she missed her. Then she fell sick. Next, Ah Boy fell sick too, with me following suit. Work has been crazy to start with. I thought I had it planned. Turned out that I overlooked certain areas and miscalculated production quantities required (instead of 1,200 sheets, I wrote 120 sheets! What the ...!). The production line was chaotic, I have to apologise to my staff, especially my colleague who covered for me while I was away. Sorry! Morale was real low and it didn't help that I had to stay up till 4 or 5 in the morning to get some of the office work done. I was coughing, sneezing and lost my voice for a couple of days.

Anyhow, I survived. I worked, I cooked, I cleaned, I didn't die of exhaustion, yet. However, I apologise to those who left comments for me. I was unable to reply due to 1) I didn't have time to blog, 2) I log on at night but those little hours I have, I need to do work. I also learnt a couple of things during my helper's absence. 1) I really, really enjoy being with my kids. A part of me wants to stay at home with them. 2) I can be really, really naggy. So much so that Ah Girl said it is better for me to go to work so that I do not nag at her that much. 3) Time management is important. 4) Sometimes, things appeared impossible because you see them as so.

Okay, back to this cake. This is an entry for this month's Sweet and Simple Bakes event. I had a couple of backlogs to cover but as the deadline's today, I have to publish this first. I just had time to bake this Vanilla Apple Cake this morning. While baking this, the aroma that filled the kitchen could kill you (in a good way, of course!)! How can something so simple, be so satisfying? I couldn't wait for it to cool completely to have a slice. IH commented that it would be great to have this cake, warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. For once, he was right. I didn't make any ice cream but I would definitely try it out when I bake this cake again. This recipe is a keeper! I did a couple of changes and here's my version.

Vanilla Apple Cake
6oz Salted Butter, softened
120g Fine Sugar
30g Molasses
4 Eggs, beaten
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
250g Self Raising Flour, sifted

3 small Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
¼ Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 170 degree C. Grease a 7 inch loose base round tin.

2) In a mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the caster sugar and butter together until the mixture turns pale and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually and add vanilla essence.

3) Add in sifted flour, dampen it and turn on the mixer on low speed and mix till batter is smooth. Pour batter into the prepared tin and arrange the apple wedges on top. Press them slightly into the batter when you are done. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.

4) Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until skewer comes clean. Leave to cool for a few mins, then release the tin and cool the cake completely on a wire rack.

*Note : I tented the cake and only removed the aluminium foil in the last 10 minutes.

**Note : The batter is rather thick but the cake will be moisten by the apples and sprinkled sugar during baking.

じゃね~~ I have to go deal with those backlogs and reply to some comments.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Hi folks,

Happy Mooncake Festival! I am terribly sorry for the lack of updates, slow response to replying your comments and questions. I was caught up with work, mooncake sales and a wedding cake. Plus, my helper is to take 2 weeks urgent leave to resolve some family matters. I will have to work from home in the meantime. I will make an effort to update this blog when time is permissible.

Till then, take care!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ah Boy is 1!

Today is Ah Boy's first birthday. Time really flies. He's 'talking' alot more and making lots of sounds. Crawls really fast and cruising steadily. He's able to stand unaided for a short while so I think he's not far making his first baby step. We actually celebrated his Lunar birthdate instead which was 2 weeks+ back. It was just a small celebration at my parents'. I made Chirashi Zushi and a birthday cake.

This picture exposed flaws of my piping skills. Photobucket I bought this cake pan during a spree. Ah Boy loves bears and Barney. Going by the Lunar birthdate, Ah Boy gets to celebrate his birthday first. Ah Girl said it wasn't fair that her brother celebrated his first since the actual date is in September. Hers, August. Guess she remembered the month sequence really well now. As their birthdays are only 10 days apart and to appease her, the poor bear had another 5 candles pounded into its tummy. *Ouch* She loves birthdays and she's already counting down on her next! My dear, you just celebrated it 10 days ago. Photobucket

Abit blur at first.

Getting excited.

Chuckling when we sang 'Happy Birthday'.

'Hey, Jie Jie! That's my cake yo!'

Can't wait to take a bite.

I used my sis's Sponge Cake recipe, the one she which she called her own. She's generous to allow me to share the recipe in my blog. Thanks S! The recipe shared here should be enough to fill an 9 inch pan. I used the whole recipe as I do not know how much batter the bear cake pan would need. In the end, I had enough for the bear pan and a short 6 inch cake. Also, her original recipe was a Lemon Sponge, but I used vanilla instead. This recipe is using egg separation method.

This is the texture of the sponge. Wonderfully soft. Ah Boy likes this alot. I will be baking this more often but perhaps I will reduce the recipe and bake them into cupcakes.

S’s Sponge Cake
5 Egg Whites
100g Fine Sugar
½ Tsp cream of tartar

5 Egg Yolks
80g Fine Sugar
1-1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
125 ml Milk
4 Tbsp Melted butter

170g cake flour
½ Tsp bicarbonate of soda

*Sift together

1) In A clean bowl, whisk egg white and sugar. Add cream of tartar and whisk till peak.

2) In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar till pale and fluffy.

3) Add vanilla essence, milk and melted butter to egg yolk mixture then fold in sifted flour mixture.

4) Fold in egg yolk mixture into egg white mixture.

5) Bake at 180°C for around 50 minutes to an hour.

*Note : The bear pan is my first silicone bakeware. It may be the size of it or silicone bakeware bakes fast. It took 25 minutes.

**Note : I used dairy whipped cream (150ml + 1 Tbsp Icing Sugar) and chocolate ganache (65g chocolate + 65g dairy whip cream) for the piping.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bentos & Slowing Down

Since I have cakes oozing out of my ears now, I decided to take a break from blogging about cakes and sweet stuffs, lest I get queasy looking at my own blog. I have to refrain myself from baking for the time being but seriously, I don't know how long I could last. Baking is addictive, especially for me. My hands don't take to idling. I'm making mooncakes this year and I'm also thinking of starting a crochet project soon.

Plans aside, I have not been updating my bento posts lately. Doing too many things at the same time. Thanks Bento Pet for the reminder. This is for you. Hope they pleased your eyes!

Abura-age stuffed with rice with toppings; fried white bait, sakura denbu and scrambled eggs. Fresh fruits with yoghurt.

Rice with stir-fried Hijiki, long beans, carrots and Abura-age. Steamed carrots and Xiao Bai Cai. Stir-fried chicken with Ichimi chilli powder.

Chahan with mix vegetables. Orange slices and Melon Jelly.

Somen with Tom Yam flavour seaweed. Wakame and carrots stir-fry with butter and Shoyu. Pan-fried Salmon, lime wedge.

Rice with Natto, Steamed Tofu with chopped Tomatoes and Shiso Shoyu. Stir-fry young french beans, carrots and Shimeji.

There will be more coming up I promise! Stay tuned.