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Monday, December 31, 2012

Apple Pie

Let's welcome the New Year with good old Apple Pie and a new look for 2013!  Hopefully this year will be full of good surprises just like the apple pie with its flavorful spices and softness in the inside and crispiness on the outside.. in the end, a very satisfying bite!
4 extra large green apples, cored and diced
1 cup raisins
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup brown sugar (add more to suit your taste)
30g butter
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 packet of frozen ready-rolled pastry puff (6 pieces in a pack)
1 egg, for the egg wash

Mix all together and cook over medium heat till half soft.  Take off heat and let cool.

Dust cutting board with some flour so that the pastry will not stick on the board and cut pastry puff into 4 squares.  
Place a spoonful of apple filling into the center and fold over. Using a fork, seal the sides. Transfer to a baking tray with parchment paper.
Brush egg wash all over and bake in pre-heated oven at 190dC for 20 mins or until golden.

My kids are already grunting about going back to school tomorrow.. and I follow suit! sigh!  Vacation's over!

Have a great year ahead, everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Toad-in-the-Hole and Banana Blueberry Pancake

This is it!  The time has come to say Goodbye to 2012.

It has been a mixture of pleasant and bitter-sweet journey with quite a bit of adjustments made along the way.  Colleagues of many years who became close friends, left with fond memories and new ones came along who can't quite fill that void.  Learning about the passing of an old colleague which left me shocked and sad.  Having said that, there were sweet moments where friends welcomed their first born into this world. We've had our big family reunion and holiday together.  Most recently, met a friend who I have not seen for 26 years!  It was so good to see her again.  Well, as the saying goes, 'life goes on' no matter what happens.

I feel so thankful that I have my wonderful loving family who are always there for me.  They are my pillar of strength. And a few good friends who are willing to go all out in helping a friend in need!  Life is priceless!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank you, yes, each and everyone of you, for your wonderful, wonderful scrumptious food, great recipes and of course, beautiful photos too.  Photos of your travels as well that brought me there and could just imagine what it's like to be there.  Getting to know you and becoming friends even though it's virtually to speak but nevertheless, I've enjoyed all your posts and can't wait to see what you have in store for me comes 2013!

This shall be my last post for 2012.  Hopefully I'll be able to entice you and hold your interest to many more wonderful recipes in 2013.

I've been on vacation for the past week and another week to go before I'm back to work..sigh! How boring!  Same thoughts with my kids as well when the school re-opens on Jan 2nd and the days will be back to routine.  No more late nights, no more going here and there shopping or visiting, no more playing till their hearts content.

Since I've been home, I get to at least prepare breakfast on some days.  Most days we go to a nearby coffee shop to have our breakfast until we got tired of noddles.  Here, I'm featuring two of the breakfast that I've prepared at home on two different days.  The first one is the 'Toad-in-the-Hole' and the other is 'Blueberry Banana Pancake'.

Slice of bread
1 egg
cheese slices
2 strips of bacon

1. Preheat oven to 180d C.  Pan fry the bacon streaks till half crispy.  Set aside.
2. Grease a muffin tray, place a slice of bread in the muffin hole and place a slice of cheese on top.
3. Break an egg on the cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Line 2 strips of bacon on the eggs and bake till the egg is half cooked.

 Blueberry Banana Panckae

Blueberry Banana Pancake
(makes 12)
25g butter, melted
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour, sifted
1 tsp B.O.S.
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 banana, peeled and thinly sliced (you may use 2 bananas if you like more banana in the batter)
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 tbsp vegetable oil
maple syrup, for drizzling

 1. Place the egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk together. Add the melted butter and stir to combine.
2. Place the flour, b.o.s. and sugar in another bowl and stir to combine. Add to the wet ingredients and stir well.
3. Add half of the banana and most of the blueberries and stir again to combine.
4. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet and spoon in the batter; cook for 2 mins and once bubble appears, turn it over and cook till done.
5. To serve, sprinkle with the rest of the blueberries and bananas and sprinkle with maple syrup.

A Very Happy New Year to all.  Be safe, be happy and be merry!  Cheers!

My new year resolution....  to be more charitable to the ones in need especially young children and the old.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Little Pony Unicorn Birthday Cake

Has it been a year already?  I thought I just did an angry bird birthday cake for my little missy. How time flies and she's now 8!  Being the youngest, she always get extra attention.  When I asked her if she wants me to buy her a cake or to make a cake, she said 'oh! mommy, can you make me Little Pony Unicorn cake? I want durian cake!'.  Oh dear. Big mistake!  So, this dear old mom got what she deserved, did some research from the internet on how to make the little pony unicorn figurine and decided to bake the durian cake with durian in the cake batter as well as in the filling.

It's no easy task to make the unicorns.  Saw how to make it from you tube, and tried to replicate it and the result? keekkeekke.. some says it look like a dragon, some says like rabbit or a dinosaur but the wise ones said 'oh yes, that's a cute little unicorn'. Thanks, guys!  

In truth, I thought the white one which my daughter educated me on the characters, is called 'pinkie pie' does look more unicorn-y than the yellow one, which is called 'fluttershy'. 

 Ok..let me introduce you to Pinkie Pie.. and..
 here's Fluttershy..

I'm happy as long as my little one is happy.  Notice her birthday present, the Princess Cadance from mom & dad.

We love durians.  Most people especially non-Asians may not like this King of Fruits due to the smell and the texture of the flesh.  This fruit is banned in hotels and restaurants as the smell may cause some confusion and false alarm for those who are not familiar with this fruit.  The smell may make you think there's a gas leak or something.  But for many Malaysians like me and my family, we just adore this fruit.  It's so delicious and rich and that's why they call it the King of Fruits.  Of late, there are many foreigners who have acquired the exotic taste of this wonderful fruit and is becoming popular.  Like it or not, it's not a cheap fruit.  It's seasonal  and only get cheaper if there's an abundance crop.  Please click on the link to learn more about durian.

Wonderful beautiful tasty durian!

This cake doesn't have any filling or frosting.  I decided to sandwiched the cake with durian filling to enhance the flavor and taste.  And I'm glad I did it as everyone loved it.  I do mean everyone.  They love it so much that they had double and triple helpings at the cake.  I will definitely make this again, mark my words!

Durian Butter Cake (I made 1 1/2 recipe for a big crowd but this recipe I'm sharing calls for 1 recipe)
250g butter
180g caster sugar
4 eggs
250g durian flesh (I used 300 g for an extra ummph)
1/4 tsp durian essence (I omitted this as I find that it's not necessary since I used a lot of the flesh)
230g self raising flour
20g coconut powder (I omitted this cos I don't like coconut powder in my bakes)
1/8tsp baking powder
1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda (B.O.S)

Durian Filling: 
350g durian flesh
250ml whipping cream
- Whip the cream and the durian flesh together with an electric mixer till combine.  Keep chill until use.

  • Preheat oven to 180dC.  Prepare baking pan with parchment paper and grease well.  You can also use bundt pan if you don't wish to sandwich the cake with any filling.
  • Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy.  Add in eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
  • Stir in the durian flesh and essence (if you use any). fold in sifted flour, coconut powder, baking powder and b.o.s. Mix well.
  • Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 45 min or until done.
  • Cool completely, and slice cake horizontally into two and sandwich it with the durian filling.
Keep cake in the fridge until serving time.

This is 'an-out-of-the-world' kind of cake!  My type of cake! mmm....durian!  Can you smell it? kakkakaka

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gingerbread House, Gingerbread Man & Black Russian Brownies

Ooo yeah!  The time has come for me to try my hands at making the Gingerbread House!  I thought it was a simple task.  All I need to do is just make the dough house structure, bake it, construct it, decorate it, and voila!  Well, I'm in for a big surprise.

At least, the steps are all so simple until the assembling part!  It took me 3 hours or more to finally complete the assembling and decoration.  It took a lot of planning.  Good thing I baked the house structure a day ahead together with the gingerbread man.


My daughters helped out with the decoration on the gingerbread cookies.  They are very good at it and enjoyed doing it very much!  The 'dress-up' are all their creations.  Nice huh! walls are up..but wait.  The 'fun' part was the roof and the chimney!  That's where the disappointment and despair begins and I'm not one to give up that easily. Muaahhahhah!
Okay, the roof and chimney looks good... but don't be fooled.  The 'glue' doesn't hold and the roof gave way.  Oh! I'm in desperation.  I tried various ways to keep them together.  Add more frosting and pray hard it will stick but failed!  Tried using the satay stick by supporting the roof from bottom and planted it to the 'ground' but the roof was too heavy.  So, that idea didn't work either.  Now what?

Thought of making a hole through the top of the roof and tie through with a string but dough is too hard to poke through.  So, bad idea.  I'm not gonna put my hours and hours of work to waste.  Being the so-called 'creative' person, tried hard to think of salvaging my house.
Then, yes, the idea came.  The only problem I'm having is the roof, right?  All I need to do is to keep it together - logically, it has to be connected at the top and stay as a 'triangle'.  Since the 'glue frosting' doesn't work, well, I could use ribbon to hold it together and yet make it look like a present!  Oh yes, that might work and it did!  Phew!  Next year, if I want to make this again, got to search for a better 'sticking frosting' than this one.  Anyway, please click this link on how to make this.
There you go... my first ever Gingerbread house.  It is surrounded by Black Russian Brownies.  Scroll down to the bottom for the recipe.

Dinner's done, and now all set to go at tearing down the house and pop it into the mouth.  The kids having fun at 'destroying' the house..that's what this is all about.  FUN!
 Oh! My poor chimney chin chin!
Next, the roof... they don't have a problem at tearing that down!.... kakakkaka

My nephew is such a joker.  He told me that I have to make a 'double storey gingerbread house'  for next Christmas! Yeah rite.. you are so funny, my 'bigger than me' nephew.. wakakak kakak akaka!  Errr.. you are joking right??

Black Russian Brownies
115g bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
115g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup superfine sugar (I used 1 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp Kahlua liqueur
2 tbsp vodka
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnut

1. Pre-heat oven to 180dC.  Prepare pan with parchment paper.
2. Melt the choc and butter with the peppercorns in small pan over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
3. Beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in large bowl and stir in the choc mixture, Kahlua and vodka.
4. Sift the flour and baking powder and stir evenly into the choc mixture.  Stir in the walnut, pour into pan and bake for 20-25 mins or until done.
5. Let cool and cut into pieces.

We celebrated our daughter's birthday together with Christmas.  This will be featured in my next post on her Durian Little Pony Unicorn Cake theme.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Peaches & Cream Cupcakes - The Christmas Selection

I did it! I finally did it. Have always wanted to make Christmas Themed Cupcakes but never got the time to do it but this year I'm very determine - very!  Once I've a goal, nothing can stop me.. oh yeah! Yup! Now I'm happy and mind you, I do have more Christmas Themed goodies in store within the next few days.  I'm on the roll, bay-beh!. Gonna keep it a secret for now. Haahaaha.

What type of cake comes to mind when it's Christmas Cupcakes?  You'd think it must be cinnamon, ginger & spices or mincemeat cupcakes right?  Well, I decided to go for mild tropical flavor - the Peaches & Cream Cupcakes.  It's so delicious.  Instead of using pureed peaches, it has thick slices of the plump juicy peaches at the bottom of the cakes, so it comes as a wonderful surprise to find the golden fruit at the base as you eat it.

1 cup plain or all purpose flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
400g canned peaches, sliced

Fondant - white, green, red

 1. Pre heat oven to 170d Celsius. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is incorporated.
2. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until milk is just combined.
3. Whisk in the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture. Continue to beat until incorporated and mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
4. Divide the sliced peaches between the paper cases so that the base of each case is covered. Spoon in the batter to 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 mins or until done.  Cool completely and decorate with fondant.

More Christmasy posts have yet to come.. can't wait to do my next Christmas project.  I still have 2 presents pending..sigh! Gotta find time to complete the presents by this weekend!

Have a Jolly Merry Christmas to everyone!  It has been a wonderful year getting to know you through the our common passion for food!  A Blessed Christmas to All!'s supposed to be 'Dooms Day' tomorrow.  Do you really believe that? Really really believe that? Oh well.. good nite and sleep tight. Dooms Day or not, I'm here to stay.. for a looonnnng time :)