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Friday, August 29, 2008

Castle Cake For My Girl

I am so, so behind my posts. And I identify this as the culprit. I want to publish this post first among those backlogs as it is Ah Girl's 5th birthday today. She had requested for a castle cake earlier (initial choice was Ben 10, *faints*). Before this, I was clueless about fondant, royal icing and let alone decorating a cake. All my past bakes have been 'naked'. But to make Ah Girl's wish come true and a cake for her to remember, I decided to try make it for her instead of ordering.

Having accomplised this cake marks a milestone for me. So now is the time for me to give a 'thank-you' speech. Please bear with me. A couple of months back, I wrote to KWF and Edith for their advice. They responded and that gave me an idea how to proceed. Gina not only gave me tips but also gave me some colour gels. My sis, J lent me her silicone mat and Moss Green colour gel. The green colour would be impossible without it. And there is Yuri who cheered me on. The credit is not solely mine. Most importantly, I would like to thank the blog owner of Cake Journal. I followed her tutorials on Royal Icing and Marshmallow Fondant.

So this is supposed to be a 'Sleeping Beauty' castle. I left the space on top for the Princess Aurora figurine. But I forgot to put it there when I took these pictures. Tsk. Can't blame myself too much, I took these pictures at 3 in the morning! Prior to this, I made alot of planning and even wanted to do a trial run on this but couldn't find time. I made the fondant last Sunday at my mom's. I used my Chocolate Pound Cake recipe to bake an 8 inch and a 5 inch cake in the morning. This part was the easiest. After cooling, I crumb coat them with chocolate ganache. Most of the time spent was cutting out the flowers. I discovered that 1 of the plungers broke but still usable. Kinda slowed me further. By about 8p.m., it was time to cover the cake. I got abit worried as I have only 1 shot. Fortunately, all went well. The turrets were made of 'Smarties' Chocolate marbles. I wrapped the fondant around the bottle. I had to saw 1 cm off the ice cream cones as they were slightly too big. The middle piece was made of chocolate wafer, wrapped with fondant. The sides were covered with royal icing and sparkles.

Though tired, I had fun. I am thinking of doing this for a friend already! When Ah Girl woke up and saw the cake, she was elated! I got a hug and she said, 'I love you mommy!'. That was all I need, it made my effort seemed worthwhile. The cake was not perfect, I know because I hid the flaws. But to her, it was something she could show off to her friends and proudly declared it was made by her mommy. Her own special cake. Happy Birthday my dear girl, I love you too!

I didn't have anymore time for another cake for the teachers but am glad that the teachers liked the cake too. Putting the cake together took longer than I expected. They thought it was store-bought. Ahahaha.. I still have Ah Boy's cake done earlier coming up next. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mom's Birthday Cake

Baked this cake for my mom's birthday. Unfortunately, the feedback wasn't that great. Probably because I omitted the egg yolks. The cake is soft but not chiffon kind of soft. But still, it looked pretty, right? In my quest of searching a 'fresh cream' recipe that doesn't include fat for mom, I came across Swiss Meringue. Well, it shouldn't be categorised as cream but it functioned very much like one. It's actually cooked egg whites with sugar, marshmallow tasty. The only thing is that it tastes too sweet. As this is my first trial, I did not reduce sugar. It spreads easily on the cake and sets/holds it shape pretty well. It has a glossy look too.

I used orange and yoghurt in hoping to offset the sweetess of the meringue. I thought I had it covered but I didn't expect the cake's texture and coyly sweet meringue. I still went ahead with it as it was too late to bake another one, even more so to decorate. In the end, my mom scraped away the meringue and ate the cake with lemon curd instead. The swiss meringue method was found on Taste Goblet's blog. Hers was actually a swiss meringue buttercream but I stopped at the meringue part. I actually did the buttercream for my first covered cake. It is light, fluffy and hold its shape quite well too but not under hot sun and definitely no place at a BBQ (that's where the first cake went to!).

I will not be sharing any recipes this time unfortunately as the experiments are incomplete. Till then!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Huat Kueh

This month is the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar. Today being the 15th day of the month, marks the 'Hungry Ghost Festival' (中元节/鬼节) for the Chinese. During this month, we are to watch our tongues so as not to upset the spirits. Children are to stay indoors after sunset, etc. There are many horror stories related to the festival, mostly about spirits taking revenge, which I prefer not to touch on that. Since young, I was introduced to this tradition of offering food, incense, joss papers to the ghosts/spirits (not limiting to our ancestors), to appease them. I was told by my parents that this the month whereby the 'Gates of Hell' opens and the 'occupants' of the netherworld is allowed to visit living relatives and of course; feast.

While we have people around us going hungry, it is believed that it is the same in the netherworld. Some of these ghosts/spirits were being sent to Realm of Hungry Ghost (饿鬼道) , whereby they have huge bellies but with small mouths and narrow throats. Thus, they can never satisfy their hunger. However, this is the only time they are allowed to eat. And there are some poor souls, whose relatives do not believe in life after death, are able to receive 'hand-outs' from those who offered. So look at it this way, superstitious or not, it's charity in another form. Even though some might not believe in this practice, but being Chinese, I think we need to know. My mom called this practice '孝叔伯' (in Teochew), loosely translated as showing filial piety to the deceased. Mostly, people referred wandering spirits '好兄弟' instead of '鬼' . Strange, sometimes my mom calls me that when she was upset with me. Hmm...

Okay, enough of the introduction. This year, I volunteered to steam Huat Kueh for my mom. I don't know when it started but I remembered her buying Huat Kueh as an offering and for Chinese New Year. It is important for Huat Kuehs to 'smile' (split) when you are making it. It is considered auspicious by the Chinese. I remember my mom's frustrations when hers didn't. I tried this recipe from Fenying's blog and it worked! I think the Huat Kueh has the potential to rise/split better but was hindered by the steamer's lid. I modified it slightly as I do not want to have any leftover coconut cream.

Huat Kueh (yielded 1 SKP-16 container + 1 small muffin tin)
200g Gula Melaka
3 Tbsp Water
200g (1 pack) Coconut Cream (I used Kara's)
A pinch of Salt

250g Self Raising Flour


1) Chop Gula Melaka into small pieces. Heat up a saucepan, add water and Gula Melaka. Remove from heat when sugar has all melted. Sieve, add coconut cream, salt and set aside to cool.

2) In a mixing bowl, add flour and mixture. Use a hand whisk to mix till well combined. Mixture should be gooey. Do not overmix. Pour batter into container till 90% full. Steam for 45 to 50 minutes on high heat.

*Note : I used a towel to cover the lid to prevent waterdroplets dripping onto the Huat Kueh.

**Note : I learnt that if you sprinkle sugar like a cross on the batter, it will help the Kueh to split better.

For further reading and understanding about the Hungry Ghost Festival, here's a few links.

Huat Ah~~

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pecan Chocolate Chips Cookies

This time round, the challenge is cookies with chocolate. Some may ask why bother participating these challenges. Well, indeed, why bother? Looking at my long, long to-do list, I do get lost. Some recipes are too time consuming for me, so I had to drop them while I stare in awe at someone elses' blogs. Participating in a challenge gives me direction and it is also interesting to see what other bakers come up with.

While this bake out is relatively simple, I didn't prepare for it. I had to bake and decorate a 2 kg birthday cake for my neighbour last minute. Being my first covered cake attempt, I felt exhausted having to make everything from scratch. I ended up walking around like a zombie for 2 days. Blame it on my inexperience.

Having said that, I think I took the pressure rather well. I didn't scream and pull my hair out. I didn't smash the cake out of frustration (I couldn't, there would be no birthday cake for the birthday boy). But it left me brain dead. I was itching to bake something so this challenge came in the right time. I also needed to get this out of the way as I have other impending projects coming up later in the month.

The brain-dead part of me must have picked the recipe. I picked White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies thinking that I have all the ingredients on hand. Macadamia nuts expired? Never mind, I'll use Pecans. Coconut flakes? Don't have, it's okay. White chocolate chips? .... .... What am I doing??!! Photobucket In the end, due to too many substitutions, the recipe is unrecognisable even to the author (ごめんね~). So from White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies, it has transformed into Pecans Chocolate Chips Cookies. Talk about total makeover.

Pecans Chocolate Chips Cookies(yields about 50 ~ 54 pcs of 1-1/2 inch wide cookies)
130g Butter, room temperature
150g Light Brown Sugar
1 egg
2 Tsp Vanilla Essence

150g Plain Flour
75g Self Raising Flour

80g Rolled Oats
80g Chocolate Chips
70g Raisins
70g Pecans, toasted and chopped coarsely

1) Line a sheet pan with greaseproof paper. Preheat oven to 180 deg.C for conventional oven or 170 deg.C for fan oven.

2) In a bowl, using an electric whisk, cream butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla essence beat well.

3) Sift in the 2 flours and the rest of the ingredients. Fold till well combined.

4) Divide into equal portions, shape them or drop them by spoonfuls onto prepared pan, about 3cm apart and bake for 15 mins (mid rack) or till browned.

*Note : If using plain flour only, add 1/2 Tsp of baking soda to 225g of plain flour.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cranberries Scones

Besides making lemon curd tarts, this is one of my favourite ways to eat it. With scones! Scones has its origin from Scotland (source : Wikipedia). It is classified under quick bread (similar to muffins), however, they are also known as 'biscuits' in the Sates. It is usually eaten with clotted cream and jam. I always looked out for scones when I have High Tea but usually they serve with butter/whipped cream and jam.

I borrowed a recipe book about quick bread, muffins and scones from my sis. There are a couple of recipes that featured savoury scones. Have yet to try them out but they sure looked good. I picked this particular recipe as this recipe uses yoghurt instead of cream. Makes me less guilty when I stuffed my face with these. The original recipe is named Featherlight Scones; plain and does not use any sugar, except fpr sprinkling. Ideal as I wanted to have it with lemon curd. I added some cranberries to it as I thought they go well with yoghurt and lemon.

Prior to my attempt, my mom warned me about the difficulty of making scones. Hers turned out tough instead of the crumbly texture which I like. In my opinion, she might have overmix or overknead the dough. Apparently, her British Home Econs teacher didn't tell her that, so she stopped making scones after her first attempt. What a pity! I didn't get to eat scones till late in my teens! Anyway, it's now my turn exploring the kitchen.

Cranberry Scones (Adapted from Taste of Home, Muffins & Quick Breads)
3 Cups Plain Flour
3 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
8 oz. Cold Butter

1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence

1 Cup Plain Yoghurt
70g Dried Cranberries

*Soak the cranberries in yoghurt for 30 mins

2 Tsp Milk
Some Sugar

1) Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda together in a mixing bowl. Add salt. Cut in butter, using a pastry scraper till mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2) Stir in egg, yoghurt, cranberries and vanilla essence till just combined. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead lightly 6 to 8 times.

3) Roll out onto a lined sheet pan and shape into a 9 inch circle, cut into squares. Brush the top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 210 deg.C for 15 minutes or till golden brown.

4) Serve warm with lemon curd/jam or butter and cinnamon-sugar.

*Note : The recipe stated to cut the scones into wedges but I cut in squares. Supposedly, smaller = less sinful. But I had 3 at 1 go. Tsk..

**Note : Take out the cranberries and it is a versatile, basic scone recipe.

Happy Baking~~! じゃね~~

Friday, August 8, 2008

Meat Stew

I remember cooking this dish during Home Economics class when I was 13. All of us were very eager to have our first cook out without the supervision of our moms. Moms being moms, I think you will find these words familiar. 'Don't mess up my kitchen, clean and wipe properly, watch how you hold the knife, why you cut up the vegetables like that... etc.' Well, or that's just my mom? Time flies. The first digit now progressed from 1 to 3. Eek!! Photobucket

I have fond memories of the Home Economics class back then (this makes me sound really old). I learnt how to sew a dress and a skirt. Those were the 2 pieces that spoke to me that I do not have the makes of a seamstress. I faired pretty well in the kitchen though. I would proudly bring home whatever I cooked/baked. Probably didn't pass mom's standard but she was polite enough to say nice. Some of my friends would however, give their bakes to guys whom they secretly/openly liked. My rationale then was that; since my mom paid for the ingredients, she had the rights to it. Perhaps, I did like some guys back then, but that doesn't mean I have to feed them right? Their mommies would do that!

Anyhow, I didn't have time to cook a proper dinner after running around and making a cake on Saturday. I was also sick of eating out. So I decided to cook this meat stew as I remembered requiring minimum ingredients, minimum attention, simple 1 dish meal. So while I left the cheesecake to set in the fridge, here's what I did.

Meat Stew
400g Lean Pork, cubed
3 Medium size Potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Carrots, peeled and used 乱切法
1/2 White Onion, peeled and quartered
1 Tbsp Butter
2-1/2 Cups Water or Stock
1 Tbsp Cornstarch + 3 Tbsp Water

Salt to Taste
Pepper to Taste

1) Marinate pork with salt and pepper and leave aside for at least 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

2) Heat up a pot, add butter, onions and pork. Add vegetables when the pork starts to browned. Stir fry for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add water, bring to boil then reduce to a simmer.

3) Let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Season to taste and add cornstarch solution to thicken. Serve hot with rice or bread.

Super easy! I wonder what they are teaching for Home Economics class these days.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chilled Lemon Curd Cheesecake

August is a busy month for me. 3 family members are celebrating their birthdays this month. First, it will be sis, J's birthday. Well, for birthday cakes, I need something more presentable. I can't possibly give her a 'naked' cake. However, I do have a problem. I sucked at piping cream on cakes. This is my second decorated cake. My first was done in last November.

I tried out Florence's Chilled Mango Cheesecake last year. Her recipes are clear and a breeze to use. Since I wanted to make Lemon Curd, I planned incorporate it in the cheesecake. The curd's consistency is not unlike mango puree so it is easy for substitution. Also, I followed her suggestion of adding an extra 1/2 tsp of gelatin as I would like to replace half the cheese used with yoghurt. This resulted a lighter version of cheesecake, refreshing and easy on the calories. However, you have to use plain set yoghurt which is thicker and more tangy.

It was a crazy Saturday as I had to make the lemon curd in the morning. Spent some family time, shop for groceries at the supermarket. Rushed back to prepare the cake and cook dinner. I had to let the cake set for at least 3 hours before I could remove it for dressing up. The moment of truth. Half way through piping, I almost wanted to give up. Prior to this, I did a research of different piping techniques from this site. I thought the site was informative and should be relatively easy to re-create what was demonstrated there. I didn't have time to practise so I just went ahead with it. I did a shell border for the bottom. While it looked passable but I didn't use the method taught. Hey, anything as long as I get there. Photobucket Hmm.. promising. So I tried with the reverse shell. It was hideous, I had to scrape the cream off. Star border didn't work out either. At last, I settled with something suspiciously, looking somewhat like a zig-zag border. PhotobucketI didn't follow the instructions. I figured if I scrape and re-do the cream again, the cake would melt. Verdict : I still sucked at piping cream. I used some coloured dragees to liven up the cake. Perhaps using silver dragees would be better. The cake had this ivory shade which in my opinion, looked really elegant. Pity it was already close to 9 p.m. when I took this shot. Verdict : I sucked at photography and food styling too.

Lemon Curd 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 Lemon Curd
200ml Non Dairy Whip Cream, whipped to mousse state and chilled

Topping : (Optional)
100ml Non Dairy Whip Cream, whipped stiff and chilled
3 to 4 Tbsp Lemon Curd
Coloured Dragees

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 lemon curd 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 curd on top of the cake. Decorate with dragees.

*Note : Decorating is optional. Eating it without the extra curd is fine too. However, I would recommend it.

Have to go brainstorm for the other 2 cakes.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Lemon Curd

My little jars of sunshine. I love the refreshing taste/smell of lemons. Never fails to perk me up. Lemon curd is one of the first few stuffs I made when I started picking up baking again. Last I made, I had lemon curd tarts with it. I was extremely pleased with the recipe I found at Joy of Baking. The ingredients used are really simple too. Just eggs, sugar, lemon and butter. The cooking time doesn't take that long. Which reminds me; why our kaya jam takes so long to cook?

To ensure getting a creamy texture, I strained the eggs after whisking it. I also strained the lemon juice to get rid of the pulps. Double-boiling method is used so as to prevent curdling. However, I received a tip from a friend. When hers curdled, she poured the entire batch after adding butter and blend it in a food processor. After that, she mixed in the lemon zest. I have not tried this method personally, I hope this tip might help to salvage any curdled batch. It is a pity to dump it in the trash.

Sharing this recipe which I have reduced sugar to suit my family's palate. This time round, I doubled the recipe. You can halve this recipe for a smaller batch. The curd will keep well in the refrigerator for a week.

Lemon Curd
6 Eggs, whisked and strained
250g Fresh Lemon Juice, strained
230g Fine Sugar
120g Unsalted Butter, cubed, bring to room temperature
Zest of 6 Lemons

1) In mixing bowl (use either stainless steel or glass), add in eggs, sugar and lemon juice. Using double-boiling method, whisk the mixture constantly.

2) Continue to whisk till mixture looks pale and starts to thicken. At this stage, the whisk will leave a mark on the curd. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter till incorporated, Add in the lemon zest and mix well.

3) Cut up a large sandwich bag and press onto the surface of the curd to avoid a layer of film from forming. Leave aside to cool through before storing.

*Note : I cut up a sandwich bag to cover the curd as Terri advised against using cling wrap for health reasons.

**Note : The texture should not be too runny.

***Note : Zest the lemons before juicing them.

****Note : After juicing the lemons, do not throw them away. They can be used to scrub the grease off your stove, cabinets or oven.

Lemon curd can be eaten with scones, use like jam or swissroll filling. It can also be used to make lemon curd tart, lemon meringue tart or lemon curd ice cream. I used it for cheesecake too. Well, that is another story.

Later~~ ^_^

PS. : I took this picture at the common balcony outside my flat and found my neighbour staring at me. Maybe she thought I was out of my mind.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blueberries Yoghurt Chiffon Cake

My mom gave me some dried blueberries a couple of weeks back. I intended to make bread with them but IH kept buying loaves after loaves of bread to my annoyance. Sometimes, he would buy another loaf when he just went through half loaf of the previous purchase. Then he will start with the new loaf when the previous one left with 3 or 4 slices. I really wanted to do this; PhotobucketPhotobucket

Gina posted her chiffon cake trial with dried blueberries on the forum. She did not use any leavening agent, oil or Cream of Tartar to stabilise the egg white. Her recipe depends solely on the egg whites to leaven the cake. Her idea is to create a low fat and chemical free cake, healthier cake so to speak. To achieve this, you need to know how to whisk the egg whites properly and fold them quickly and properly. However, in place of Cream of Tartar, you can substitute with 1 to 2 teaspoon of lemon juice. Cream of Tartar is a type of acid, so using lemon juice works fine too. In my trial, I omitted the oil and substituted milk with yoghurt for its flavour. I also used fresh blueberries, blended with the yoghurt.

A reader left a comment, questioning about how I calculated the liquid content. To simplify things, please note that the weight of the eggs are not taken into the calculations. For the 4 yolks and 5 whites recipe, the liquid calculated is 140g of juice/milk/yoghurt/etc., + 40g oil = 180g. So now you know how I played around with the formula. This is my modification of Gina's recipe.

Bluberries Yoghurt Chiffon Cake

4 Egg Yolks
30g Fine Sugar
1/4 Tsp Salt

80g Fresh Blueberries
80g Plain Yoghurt (I used Marigold's)


80g Dried Blueberries

*Soak in the yoghurt mixture to plump up

120g Cake flour
1/2 tbsp Baking powder

*Sift 2x

5 egg whites
40g castor sugar
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar

1) In a bowl, using hand whisk, whisk yolks and sugar till sugar dissolves.

2) Add oil and salt, whisk and add in yoghurt mixture and dried blueberries. Stir well.

3) Fold in sifted flour and mix well.

4) In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat till the whites are frothy. Add in sugar gradually and beat till soft peaks.

5) Add in Cream of Tartar and beat till stiff peaks.

6) Fold in 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture using a rubber spatula till incorporated.

7) Pour the mixture to the remaining egg whites and fold in gently till incorporated.

8) Pour the batter into a 21cm chiffon tube pan. Bang the pan on the table to get rid of bubbles.

9) Oil a piece of aluminium foil and cover the pan loosely. Bake at 170 deg.C for 10mins.

10) Turn down the temperature to 160 deg.C and bake for 20mins.

11) Reduce the temperature to 150 deg.C and bake for 10mins. Insert a skewer to check if the cake is done. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 to 10mins to brown the surface.

12) Remove from the oven and invert the pan. Run a sharp knife along the edges to remove the cake from pan when it's completely cooled.

*Note : After blending the fresh berries and yoghurt, the colour was a vibrant purple. However, after adding into the yolk mixture and oxidation, it turned into a ghastly hue of grey. I think purple + yellow won't give you a nice colour. A fellow forumer suggested adding lemon juice to it. Maybe I will try that out in my next trial.

This picture was taken at my residence. You can see that the colour is not that pretty.

Previously a reader asked for the picture of my tented cake, so here it is. Sometimes the foil will 'fly' when the fan blows. (Sorry about the reflection, I had to use flash for the cake to be visible.)


Had to remove the foil for browning. Remove the foil in the oven. Do not take out the cake from the oven to remove (I had the help of a pair of long bamboo chopsticks; those used for deep frying). I 'disturbed' the top part of the cake. Some batter got stuck there.


Continue baking till browned.


Hmm... if not for the peeling off part, any chance of not having a cracked surface?


Side view of the cake. Noticed that it shrunk quite abit, but still tall.

I made this cake in a smaller tin, 16 cm. This is what happens when I did not tent the cake. Looks like 'Huat Kueh'. I still need to fine-tune the recipe for this cake size as I have excess batter. Chiffon cakes can also be baked in those small cups. You do not have to overturn them to cool as they are small, they cool relatively fast in those cups.

I realised that as I get more mature (sounded better than old), I am becoming to be like my mom. She likes to keep things and store them up. Me too, I still have 4 punnets of fresh blueberries stashed in my freezer. Hee~~


Friday, August 1, 2008

Bento Competition

Remember the Bento Competition I mentioned in my earlier post? I am delighted to find out that my entry got shortlisted! This is the entry that got selected. Bento Pet will run a poll and the best entry will be voted the winner.

It is an honour, just to be shortlisted. To see the rest of the bentos, please click here. They are so creative and colourful! I admire their perserverence and dedication to Bento food art. After a while, I do get bored/lazy and lose the drive to take pictures of my bentos or even arrange them nicely to be picture worthy. There are times when I get swamped with work and everything, I need to prioritise. Thanks Bento Pet for organising this event, I found the motivation to do this again. I need to find time for my other interests too. My beading loom, crochet needles and cross-stitch cloths are all gathering dust. Hmm... come to think of it, I still have some jigsaw puzzles chucked in a corner.

I try very hard not to use processed/deep fried food in my bentos. You do not need alot of seasonings to bring out the flavours of food either. Ah Girl will be in Primary 1 in 1 year+ time. I am thinking of packing bentos for her as well. She is a fussy eater but I am glad that she doesn't take to processed food such as sausages, ham or nuggets. She loves soups and noodles mostly. I might need to get a thermos afterall. After checking out the other bento blogs, I discovered that; instead of just letting the pictures do the talking, one needs to be more descriptive about the bentos. I hope my descriptions will not be a bore.

Rice decorated with Sakura Denbu and sesame. Tom Yam Chicken with Pineapples stirfry. Cherry Tomatoes and Fruits and Nuts mix.

Rice with Natto and sesame. Steamed Broccoli and Carrots. Pan fried meatballs, Fruits and Nuts mix.

Rice with Umeboshi. Stirfy Broccoli, Carrots and fresh Button Mushrooms. Saba Shioyaki with Lime wedge.

Today's lunch. Rice with Natto, sesame, Sakura Denbu and Umeshiso Furikake (Do try this combo, it is rather interesting). Fried egg. Stirfry Wakame and Cherry Tomatoes with Butter and Shoyu. Stirfry Kalbi Chips with Shoyu and Sake.

Is it time to start packing your own bento?

PS. : I will update this post when the winner is being announced. Stay tuned.

*Update : And the winner is Kelly @ Kel's Place. Congratulations! It was fun being a part of the event.

Happy Boy

This picture was captured by my helper. 笑到见牙不见眼. Oops... can't see his teeth here. This is one moment, which I am sure, every mother would want to see on their children's faces. Ah Boy is able to stand up with support now. One of his favourite sport is to crawl to the TV console, grab the edge and pull himself up. Or he would stand up in the play pen, grumbling and babbling his displeasure at us for leaving him there. He is able to cruise, taking small, baby steps. He is not afraid of falling either. He will just give you a big grin and pick himself up again. Maybe his 'airbag' (a.k.a. diapers) works. In time to come, I may need to remind him of this spirit should he falter; if you fall, pick yourself up.

He has got 6 pearlies now and started biting his Jie Jie when he is angry with her. So now, Ah Girl knows that he will retaliate if he is bullied. However, I need to curb this habit. Need to get him those toothpaste and brush thingy meant for babies. He is taking solids really well. It will come a time when he will not need to be nursed anymore. Think I will miss holding him so close to me, near to my heart. When did you last hug your children? I made it a point to hug them everyday; when I leave for work, when I come home, or whenever I felt like a hug.

Just when you thought you have loved them enough and couldn't give anymore; children has this special key to unlock your heart further. Talk about unleashing your potential, eh?

To my dear children :

Sleep well, sleep tight, mommy will always be by your side.

Lots of hugs and kisses. *muak muak muak*

Tom Yam Chicken Puff

This is my first attempt of using puff pastry, storebought of course. I remembered my sis, S, attempted making puff pastries. or did she? Must be getting old, can't remember. These days my memory is failing me. I got myself a small note book to jot down thoughts, notes and events. The thing is that; I am not very disciplined in this area either. I would forget to to write it down or I would forget to look it up in my note book. Worse, at times, I don't even remember where the book was! Back to puff pastry. I always have this conception that puff pastry requires skilled hands to make and pastry magarine is needed.

While participating this challenge, I did a reseach on puff pastry on stumbled upon this site. The method seems easy. For the challenge, we are supposed to incorporate puff pastry, meat and canned fruits into the main dish or using them together in a main and a side. To be honest, my mind went blank. Whatever creative juice I had or rather, if I had any, were dried up. I procrastinated till it passed its deadline. No one seemed to remember. Photobucket .... Then they decided to extend the deadline.... Photobucket .... Looks like there is no escape. Still, I waited till last Sunday and came up with this Tom Yam Chicken Puff. It's like a no brainer to me and I am rather embarassed about it. Of course, due to last minute, I had 'no time' to make the puff pastry from scratch so I got myself a pack of frozen pastry from the 'Shop N Save' nearby. They have this intersting French Apple Pie recipe printed on the package. I was really tempted to make that instead.

I did not make the Tom Yam paste either. I got it from Gina and the recipe can be found here. I am rather pleased with the paste. Since it is homemade, it is free of preservatives, colourings and what-have-yous. It has this bright orange hue unlike those I have bought in the past, a darker mass. I used it on poultry, seafood and even fried rice! This is how I put the puffs together.

Tom Yam Chicken Puff
1/4 Onion, chopped
1 Chicken Breast (300g), skinned and de-boned, cubed
60g Tom Yam Paste (I have them portion and pre-packed)
4 Tbsp Canned Pineapple Syrup
150g Canned Pineapples, drained and cubed
1 - 2 Stalks Scallions, chopped
3 - 4 Stalks Cilantro, chopped

1 Block Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed

2 Tsp Mushroom Sauce (Vegetarian)
1 Tbsp Corn Starch
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Some Olive Oil for frying

1 egg, lightly beaten

1) Marinate chicken with mushroom sauce, salt, pepper and cornstarch for 1/2 to 1 hour.

2) In a frying pan, heat oil and fry onions till fragrant. Add in chicken and fry till meat changes colour. Add tom yam paste, syrup and pineapples. Turn on high heat and fry till ingredients are dry. Turn off heat and stir in scallions and cilantro. Leave aside to cool.

3) Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. I rolled it to about 2 mm thick. Cut it into desired shapes and sizes (I cut it into rectangles by estimation). Scoop the cooled ingredients onto the pastry,, fold and seal the sides tightly.

4) Preheat the oven to 210 deg.C (for fan oven). Apply egg wash on the pastry and bake for 15 to 20 mins, or till nicely puffed up and golden brown.

*Note : I can take spiciness relatively well and it also depends on the spiciness of the tom yam paste you have. You might want to go with caution for the amount of tom yam paste used.

It's a change from the usual curry puffs. They are sweet and spicy at the same time. The robust flavours just burst in your mouth. I think I can use this combination for fried rice next.