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Archive for December, 2007

Christmas is my favourite season of the year! There’s this unspoken excitement and joy when I see the hallways, shopping complexes, town halls etc decked with christmas decorations. As a kid growing up in Malaysia, I wasn’t exposed to Santa Clause until my dad got transferred to Mauritius. It was there that I was introduced to the kind, gentle old man in red suit and long, bushy white beard, who drives a gift laden sleigh pulled by reindeers! 

My last couple of christmases here were spent quite quietly. I’ve always wanted to organize and cook up a christmas feast just like those you see in the movies. This year, I finally got my chance to cook up a christmas feast. Krys’s family was down here for her graduation and so were Shaun’s family for his brother’s graduation. Finally, I had the numbers to cook for! 

Being my first christmas dinner, I didn’t dare experiment with turkey, so ham was my next best choice. On top of it there was a roast chicken, a ragù bolognese made with lamb, pork and chicken, fresh green saladherb roasted baby potatoes and glazed dutch carrots as sides and cranberry ice cream with pavlova for dessert. Initially I was afraid we didn’t have enough food as we had quite a few “growing” boys but we had enough leftover to last us for another two days!

As for Christmas Eve, Krystal’s mum single-handedly cooked up an asian feast of fresh fish, prawns and clams! We had crispy salted prawns, butter prawns, steam fish with ginger and shallots and black bean sauce clams. Christmas this year was indeed a jolly affair for me! 


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Finally, I’ve a chance to share about the beauty of tassie, also known as the Apple Isle. With its natural beauty and spectacular views, tassie is the place to be for all you nature lovers out there. As a kid, I spent 2 years in Mauritius when my dad was transferred there to work. It was there that I discovered a passion for outdoor activities and an appreciation of God’s awesome creation. Mauritius brought with it many happy and unforgettable memories to me and I’ve never been able to find a place that matches it beauty – not until coming to tassie. Many people think tassie is a boring place and is only for retirees. To a certain extent I have to agree with that. But behind this boring facade, there are many undiscovered wonders and beauty.   

I’ve been here 5 years and there are still so many places I’ve never been to and want to go. If you are into shopping and eating then tassie is not the place to go; but if you are not, then take at least 10 days to discover the wonders of this hidden beauty. Just surrounding Hobart – the capital of tassie, take a day to visit the Port Arthur peninsular, grab some oysters at Barilla Bay, enjoy a glass of wine and even dine in at the wineries in Coal Valley and if it’s winter, visit Mount Field National Park for the spectacular Russell Falls and tumble around in the snow up at Lake Dobson; moving down south, make a day trip to Bruny Island, visit the apple farms around Huon Valley, trek through Tahune Airwalk, go caving at Hastings Cave, grab a bite at the Pancake Train in Margate; as you drive up to the midlands, visit Cradle Mountain – one of tassie’s most talkabout and famous destinations, go to King Solomon and Marakoopa Caves at Mole Creek, visit Liffey Falls for a cool splash, for the big kids out there Tasmazia is worth a visit for its many mazes and unique “town”; now moving on to Launceston the second biggest town in tassie: personally, the only place in launnie I’ve visited is The Cataract Gorge – bring a picnic along with you and enjoy it in the park, walk along the bridge for some great views or go for a dip in the pool – this place is a great place to be if you want to spent an afternoon just lazing away; if you are here in December, take a drive from launnie to the lavendar farm in Scottsdale or if you are here late September, the tulip festival up at Wynyard is where you want to be; as for the East Coast, don’t forget to grab my favourite wood fired pizza at Orford, spent a day exploring Maria Island, grab home made berry ice creams, jams, sauces, liquer, scones and waffles at Kate’s Berry Farm and don’t forget to go to Coles Bay and Freycinet for one of the greatest beauty in the world – Wineglass Bay, walk barefooted along Friendly Beaches, go kayaking and hiking in Freycinet National Park etc.; moving upwards along the east coast, drop by Bicheno for some great surfs and for its blow hole, St Helens for a quiet getaway, Binalong Bay for its beautiful sunset, St Columba Falls for its spectacular beauty and not to forget Bay of Fires for its piercing blue water, red rocks and white sand beaches.There is simply too much to share about this diamond that’s hidden south of Australia.

There are just so many places I’ve yet to go such as Strahan, Walls of Jerusalem, Flinders Island, Maria Island etc. etc. My aim is to one day be able to tick all the boxes in the short and long walks guide provided in the Info Tasmania guide :) .  


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This was the cake CY made for Krys for her birthday last week. Early this year, I made a chocolate marble cake for an OCF (Overseas Christian Fellowship) event, and she really liked it. So we decided to make this for her. This was one problematic cake! First, due to a technical error, the cake had a grand canyon in the middle; then the white chocolate ganache did not set properly and couldn’t cover the dark cake. In the end, we had no choice but to pile the well in the centre with strawberries and stuck the sides with waffles and the top with strawberry slices. Yeah I know, it looks like the cake I made for Alan. Oh well, we had no choice. 

Ingredients:

Dark Chocolate Batter: 

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/3 cup strong espresso
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 40g plain flour
  • 3/4  tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 90g dark chocolate, melted and cooled

White Chocolate Batter:

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 40g plain flour
  • 3/4  tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 90g white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 180g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160C, and grease a baking pan
  • Melt both the chocolate in 2 separate bowls. 
  • Mix cocoa powder, coffee, vanilla essence and 1/4 cup cold water in a bowl and whisk.
  • Sift flour , bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt together.
  • Divide butter and sugar into two batches. Beat each batch until light and fluffy. 
  • Break the eggs into a measuring jug and lightly beat it. Add half the egg mixture into the butter mixture, beating well each time. Repeat the other half in the other butter mixture.
  • Stir in melted chocolate into the individual butter mixture.
  • Add the flour and cocoa mixture alternatively into the dark chocolate mixture. The same is to be repeated by alternating the milk and flour into the white chocolate mixture.
  • Spoon alternating spoonfuls of each batter into a pan. Swirl with a toothpick or skewer and bake till set (approximately 1 – 1 1/2 hours).
  • Leave to cool and decorate accordingly.

 

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It was Krystal’s birthday this week and following tradition, CY with my assistance would make her a cake. I asked her to pick a cake from my new cake book and she chose orange poppy seed cake. However, CY refused to make it for her as he does not like anything citrusy. So, I said I’ll make them for her as cupcakes so she could bring it to work for her tea break. I’ve never had orange poppy seed cake before and this was also my first time baking it hence I didn’t know what to expect of the taste.  I didn’t really like my first taste of it as it left a funny after taste in my mouth. After I creamed some of them and brushed some of them with orange syrup, the taste was perfect! 

Orange Poppy Seed Cake

Ingredients: 

  •  1/3 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 185g butter, softened
  • 2 oranges – just the grated rind
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1   1/2 cup self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Combine milk and poppy seeds in a bowl, set aside to stand for 20 minutes. 
  • Beat butter, rind and sugar with an electric mixer till light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir in flours, almond meal, juice and poppy seed mixture. 
  • Fill cupcake baking paper with cake mixture and bake till set.

Cream Cheese Filling

Ingredients:

  • 115g Philly cream cheese
  • 115g butter
  • Icing sugar

Method:

  • Make sure cream cheese and butter is at room temperature.
  • Combine cream cheese and butter and beat with electric mixer till smooth. 
  • Add icing sugar gradually till it meets your taste.

Orange Syrup

Ingredients: 

  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat till sugar dissolves. 
  • Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and allow it to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes till it thickens. 

Assembling  

  • Divide the cakes into two batches. One batch for cream cheese filling, the other to be brushed with orange syrup.
  • Cut a circle from top of each cake and remove it. Pipe cream cheese filling into each of them. Top with walnut.
  • Brush the other cakes with orange syrup. Arrange mandarin oranges on top and brush with orange syrup. 
  • Cut the skin of an orange into thin slices and simmer with remaining orange syrup. Use it to decorate the cupcakes.

 

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Alan’s birthday is next week but we had to celebrate it last weekend as he was leaving to go back to Penang for the holidays. This year I decided to make him a chocolate banana cake inspired by the one sold in Secret Recipe in Malaysia. Their chocolate banana cake is one of my all time favourite. I was initially not going to decorate it this way but when I was removing it from the cake tin, I accidentally “rip” the chocolate ganache. As a result, I had to cover my ugly edges with chocolate wafers.

Chocolate Mud Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3/4 cup strong espresso
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1  1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 185g unsalted butter, softened
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 180g dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160C, and grease an 8 inch baking pan
  • Mix cocoa powder, coffee, vanilla essence and 1/2 cup cold water in a bowl and whisk.
  • Sift flour , bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt together.
  • Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well each time.
  • Stir in melted chocolate into egg mixture.
  • Add the flour and cocoa mixture alternatively into egg mixture.
  • Pour into pan and bake till set (approximately 1 – 1 1/2 hours).

White Chocolate Mousse and Banana Filling

Ingredients:

  • 600ml thickened cream
  • 450g white chocolate
  • 3 banananas

Method:

  • Melt cream and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat till smooth.
  • Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate till just cold.
  • Beat with electric mixer till mixture changes to a paler colour.

White Chocolate Mousse 2 (alternative to the above recipe):

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp water
  • Lemon juice
  • 2 tsp gelatine
  • 2 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 227gm white chocolate

Method:

  • Combine 2 tbsp water + 6 tbsp lemon juice in saucepan. Sprinkle gelatine on top and let stand for 10 minutes to soften. Stir over low heat till gelatine dissolves. Set aside.
  • Bring 1/2 cup of cream to simmer in a heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and pour over white chocolate. Stir till smooth.
  • Whisk in gelatine mixture to white chocolate. Refrigerate to cool and beginning to thicken slightly. Whilst cooling, stir it often (every 10 minutes or so).
  • Beat remaining 1.5 cups of cream till stiff peaks. Fold gently into white chocolate mixture.
  • Layer cake with white chocolate mousse.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 250ml double cream
  • 250g dark chocolate

Method:

  • Melt cream and chocolate together in a double boiler.
  • Leave to cool to room temperature then refrigerate it.
  • Give it a good whisk.

Assembling

  • Slice cake into 3 layers. Place bottom layer into a 9 inch springform tin.
  • Cover with half the white chocolate mouse and top with slices of bananas.
  • Top with next layer of cake and repeat above step.
  • Top with the last slice of cake. Pour chocolate ganache over cake. Allow it to flow freely and it’ll cover the cake completely.
  • Refrigerate to allow ganache to set. Decorate accordingly.

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I’m back! it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything up. I’ve done a little bit of cooking here and there but just couldn’t find the time to post things up. 

I love this japanese curry! There’s this little shop in Melbourne, along Swanston Street (I think) which sells this amazing dish. One of my closest friend, Shane brought Alan and I there a couple of years ago and I’ve never forgotten the place. They were a really small shop but the queue was all the way out till the street. I’m not sure if they still exist or have grown bigger but all i remember was a big steaming bowl of rice topped with japanese curry and priced only for AUD6!

Ryan was the first one to start cooking this dish at home. After he left for Sydney, I started to cook it. Unfortunately I do not know how to cook it from scratch. We buy this instant pack from the Asian grocer and delicious curry in 30 minutes!

curry-box.jpg

Ingredients:

  • A pack of golden curry mix 
  • Chicken thighs
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Onion
  • Rice

Method:

  • Prepare steam rice.
  • Cut chicken thighs into cubes. Cut the potatoes and carrots into bite size pieces. Cut the onion into quarters.
  • Follow the instruction on the pack and bring a pot of water to boil.
  • Add in the all the ingredients except for the onions and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Break the curry paste into quarters and slowly mix it into the chicken. Add in the onions and stir. The curry will thicken and if you want to, adjust the taste accordingly.
  • Top it on a steaming bowl of steam rice and enjoy!


 

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