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Food for the weekend

weekday tea

weekday tea

The longest days are those that can’t decide what sort of days they want to be. Or those that can, and you’re not quite agreeable on how it wants to be.

Thursdays need to be the new Friday. And in order for that to magically happen, plans need to be made and good plans at that. None of your half-hearted let’s-have-dinner plans. I’m thinking more along the lines of let’s-grab-a-cocktail-and-laugh-until-our-sides-hurt type of night. Easier said than done, but really, all it takes is a little commitment…for me, it’s commitment to not give into the couch potato in me who’s idea of a good time is staring uselessly at a TV screen. Honestly, I recall none of those nights. I do recall the ones where I end up befriending everybody at the bar and laughing at funny alcohol names. Note to self: sloe gin is not slow gin. It was not, contrary to my belief, made slowly. 

Yes, you may laugh at me.

While we’re laughing, I need to confess  haven’t much of a recipe to share today. Perhaps more of a wishlist of recipes I hope to make soon. A dinner party may be in order. Any takers?

Appetiser: Perhaps a little spicy and tangy to start? I agree. Green papaya salad (Som Tum) is a staple in Thai cuisine, and one of those get-the-appetite-going type of thing.

Main: Since I’ve always thought beans in veggie burgers contribute to a whole lot of farting, boy am I glad that this one is gluten-free and tempeh based!

Dessert: Nothing better than layer upon layer upon layer or crepes, filled with orange diplomat cream. Hello Thomas Keller, you’re a genius. Since I don’t live in NY, I shall just have to make do with making my own version of his crepe cake. Yeah, jealous yet?

Have a lovely Thursday start to your weekend folks!

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So, You Want to Touch My Ganache?

I’ve been having a disappointing run with the shops. It’s almost as if the universe is conspiring with my wallet to stop me from buying things. I mean, what’s up with 4 hours of shopping and not buying anything?

I know…failure.

But maybe it’s the universe’s way of saying “don’t give up”.

The late nights, frustrated phone calls, missed gym sessions have clearly taken a toll; as my shopping craving rightfully points out. Let’s throw in the seasonal insomnia,uninspired outfits and constant migraines, and I’m a whine bomb.

Still I persevere, whether it’s for that dress, or maybe just to make my way to December. In this case, even after ‘knowing’ the right way of making ganache, trying this new version has just made it all worth it. Worth the extra steps, worth the unsettled feelings I’ve had towards other ganache recipes and worth taking that chance.

The things worth doing are never easy.

Silky  Chocolate Ganache (adapted from Miette)

10 ounces chocolate, 60% or darker, chopped
2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1) Combine chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl

2) In  a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Nest the bowl over a pain of simmering water to create a bain marie. Heat, stirring, until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from heat.

3) Whisk the egg yolks in a small heatproof bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup of the melted chocolate mixture into the yolks while whisking, to temper them. Pour the tempered mixture back into the pan of chocolate and whisk to combine. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Pour the hot ganache through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean heatproof bowl.

4) Use the ganache immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Ganache does not freeze well.


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{Daddy’s Girl} Strawberry Birthday Cake

There are photos. The ones you wish no one took. The ones that make you wish you were young again. The ones that remind you of the good ol’ days. The ones that you had forgotten existed. And then the best sort; the ones that make you smile and if you looked hard enough, takes you back to the exact moment it happened. You know the ones. It’s probably the photos you take out to show anyone who wants a peek into your life. Doesn’t really matter if the dress and glasses you had on looked super dorky. Or that you’re the chubby 4 year old that the other kids poked fun at. The truth is, dad was the best dance partner who had a few groovy boogie moves and mom took a mighty good photo.

Dad woke up in good spirits today, feeling rather smug he made it to 55 and still livin’ it up like the hipster he is. Surely he can’t be that old since we spent the last hour syncing his iPhone full of songs; Above and Beyond, Maroon 5 and Bon Jovi. Plus, the fact that he recognised the importance of having a birthday cake (sort of hinted I should bake him one…) makes him SUPER RAD.

Happy birthday dad!

Birthday Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese

1.5 recipe x GF Genoise; bake in 3 x 6inch round tins. Cool completely.
Strawberry Coulis
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
Creme Chantilly

Strawberry Coulis
250g frozen strawberries (frozen berries ensure consistency in flavour)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp rose water OR 2 tsp Rose Syrup (I used Royal Rose NY)
1 tsp vanilla

1) Thaw berries in the microwave or overnight.
2) Process berries and its juices in the blender until smooth. Leave the seeds in.
3) Place the liquid berries into a small saucepan. Add in all other ingredients.
4) On medium heat, cook the sauce until it thickens. Allow to cool completely.

Strawberry Cream Cheese
250g cream cheese, room temperature
60g butter, room temperature
1.5 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup strawberry coulis

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth on LOW. Add in the icing sugar and beat well.
2) Slowly add in the strawberry coulis and beat well until combined on LOW. Use immediately or place in the fridge until ready to use.

Creme Chantilly
300ml whipping cream, very chilled
1/4 cup icing sugar

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the cream and icing sugar until medium peaks form. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

To Assemble
1) Mix 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tsp vanilla. This is your imbibing syrup.
2) Take 1 of the genoise layers and brush with imbibing syrup. This is your bottom later.
3) Top layer with 2 tbsp of strawberry coulis and spread evenly across the layer. Using a piping bag fitted with a 10mm round piping tip, pipe the strawberry cream cheese filling over the coulis in a circular motion. Top with second layer. Repeat with coulis and cream cheese.
4) Top with 3rd layer and brush top with imbibing syrup. Cover cake top and sides with the creme chantilly. Sprinkle rainbow happiness with wild abandonment.


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2nd Anniversary of my 21st!

Halfway to 46. Dear me, when did the number get so large? It’s okay, my dad wished me a happy 22nd birthday. I think we’ll leave it as that.

How are grown-up 23 year-olds suppose to act?

Should I still be reciting lines from my favourite cartoons? Is it even ok that I still watch them? Is my bank account suppose to reflect a larger, much larger number? Do I need to get health insurance? Is it alright if I prefer to take public transport over driving? Can I still wear heels that make my knees hurt (are my knees even suppose to be hurting now?) Why did I just buy myself a brand new set of Lilo and Stitch bedsheets?

Not sure.

But I do know that it’s really just a number. A day to have everyone around you be super nice and enjoy birthday cake with you. And get nice cards.

If you dish out a pretty yellow cake with fluffy chocolate frosting, you might even get presents!!! Happy Unbirthday to everyone else, just as good a reason to eat cake!

Recipe to come soon!!!


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Farewell NYC

I embarked on my New York adventure with no real plan. I thought I felt like doing it, so I did. And I’m glad I didn’t regret a single minute of my decision. Except maybe when the credit card bill arrives, but that’s a problem for reality. Who needs reality when I have shiny new shoes and baking trays.

But I’ve been talking about me, New York and other people for 2 months and I think my brain is yorked out so in the spirit of thingsd, let’s make a list of my highlights!

Biggest OMG! Moment:
Seeing Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block perform

Favourite Gluten-free Cupcake:

Favourite Meal:
It’s a toss up between Diner in Williamsburg and brunch at The Essex

Favourite non-GF Dessert:
Peanut butter cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory (because it was raving madly awesome) and LuLu’s snowball

Favourite Store:

Best Purchase:
My $20 rainboots when my shoes broke during a storm or my GHD hair straightener

Most Inspiring Food:
Arepas & grilled corn with cotija cheese

Favourite Tourist Site:
American Museum of Natural History & Alexander Wang exhibit at The Met

Most Exciting Meal:
Serendipity; the sheer size and madness of the desserts

Favourite Grocery Store:
Trader Joe’s

Best Night Out:
Either the body-to-body dancing at Taj II or the non-stop partying at Hiro

Best Thing about being a Tourist:
Cute stranger boys making sure you’re at the right subway stop so you don’t get lost

Best Breakfast:
HOT CHOCOLATE at Starbucks on a cold, wet day

NYC should seriously…
Stop meddling with their subway lines during weekends because it’s confusing!

NYC should never…
change, I like you the way you are!

Thing I’ll miss most…
Not working…and Union Square, East Village, the AMAZING friends I’ve made and the plethora of vintage treasures

Worst Meal:
Probably the shitty food at Coney Island and the disappointing saltwater taffy

I can’t wait to tell everyone back home about…
AREPAS! These Venezuelan street food makes me so happy and is naturally GF! And Amy’s Bread’s amazing yellow cake.

Favourite Vegan Food:
Vanilla milkshake at Blossom

The Highest High:
Meeting so so so many friends, Melinda, Andy, Mike, Jenny, Jonathan, Ashley, Vivian, Sandeep, Tiffani, and so many other amazing folks, thanks for making me not want to go home. :)



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Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Hong Kong makes my legs hurt. Hong Kong causes a temporary inability to feel tired and for that matter, angry, upset, lonely and aimless. Hong Kong is bustling with so many people that it’s just impossible to feel that way. And the shopping, oh how it makes my mind whirl filled with giddy excitement. I didn’t buy much (read: tiny sizes, even for shoes!) but the sheer assortment to look at is filling enough.

And then we come to the food. I can only sum it up in so many ways…let’s just say you will never ever find yourself starved in HK.

Which also leads me to an important announcement; I’m cutting prawns, chicken, eggs and refined sugar from my diet (or as much as I can manage it). My eczema has gone mad and my skin’s as dry as the Sahara Desert.YUCK. So based on a couple of sources, chicken, eggs, prawns and sugar has the tendency to wreck all sorts of havoc on a person’s skin. So, let’s try this for a month and hopefully it’ll clear some. Expect a range of vegan recipes coming your way in the next few weeks but don’t be surprised if you see a butter attack midway through.

Luckily vegan chocolate fudge cookies don’t contain any of the barred substances so I can dunk them quite freely in ice cold almond milk. And this is bliss.

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cookies (from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook by Cybele Pascal)

1 1/4 cup GF flour blend
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp xantham gum
2/3 cup refined sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup rice milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line two cookie sheets with parchment. Mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cream of tartar and xantham gum together.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the oil and milk on high for 30 seconds. Add in the sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add in the flour and blend. Pour in the chocolate chips, mix well. It will look as if the chips aren’t ‘sticking’ to the dough, just press them into the cookies later on.

3) Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the baking tray and press down with your palms. Bake for 15 minutes. Do not overbake or it’ll be dry and not fudgey anymore.


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Buckwheat Banana Scones

Some days I feel like breaking the rules. Like going for a morning walk, or calling Fred instead of him calling me or not baking banana bread when I have spotty ones lying around.

Truth is, I usually feel boring. I wake up, brush my teeth, can’t decide what to wear (or can’t remember what I decided on the night before), find something decent to throw on, try to make my hair look normal and then think about what I can look forward to next. It usually involves food, whether it’s a lush dinner I’m imagining or a thing I’m going to bake. But it never ends up the way I plan it to because I always go back to chocolate.

Today I had no urge for chocolate. I wanted to eat it (which I did!) but I didn’t want my hair to smell like it. So the polka-dotted bananas on the counter top found a new fate apart from banana bread; banana scones! They’re all baked now, slightly fluffy, nutty from the buckwheat flour and creamy and sweet from the chunks of slightly overripe bananas. And the smell is much more pleasant than chocolate, it’s more like velvety butter.

The scones border slightly on the dry side so I’d recommend adding another 2-3 tablespoons of milk, especially if you live in a drier climate. :) Or maybe I might’ve have over baked mine a little.

I want to glaze them in a salted caramel glaze. Is that too much?

Buckwheat Banana Scones (by Sweets by Vicky)

2 1/2 cups GF flour blend
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 stick butter, chopped into 1 inch chunks and placed in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
2 medium bananas, quartered lengthwise and chopped into 1/2inch chunks
1 egg yolk, for egg wash
2 tbsp raw sugar, for sprinkling

1) Preheat oven to 175°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2) In a bowl of a stand mixer, blend the flours, sugar, baking soda and baking powder together. Add in the chilled butter and beat on low until it resembled breadcrumbs; some larger pieces may remain, don’t worry.

3) In another bowl, mix the milk, sour cream and egg together. Slowly pour into the ‘breadcrumbs’ and mix until it comes together. Add in the banana chunks and beat for 5-10 seconds, careful not to mash the fruit. Turn out onto the baking sheet.

4) With well floured hands, smoothen and pat the dough out into a disc about 4-6cm thick, depending on how you like them.

5) Bake for 30-40 minutes (thinner scones) and 40-50 minutes (thicker scones). Once done, remove from oven and cut into individual wedges. Enjoy!


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Pistachio Bundt

Dear mister rain, please understand that there is rarely a morning I would like to dive headfirst into a swimming pool so it would be greatly appreciated if you rained on someone else’s parade (just make sure they have an umbrella!)

Why the sudden urge to go wade in a pool and work off some extra calories? Two words… steak tartare. And maybe another three. Fried goat’s cheese. Is there anything more amazing than crispy goats cheese with a molten, viscous centre. It might actually be better than chocolate fondants. Ivan, what do you think? And well, after experiencing steak tartare, I almost feel like I’ve upped my ante and I’m suddenly all sorts of adventurous and cool. Like I’m totally down with this.

So my new found cool and I decided to bake with pistachio jell-o. A pistachio bundt.

And it’s really green.

I first laid my hungry eyes on it when I saw the pistachio cake on Pioneer Woman. It sounded easy, box mix, jell-o, club soda… yeah but how would I know if a gluten free box mix worked the same as a regular one? So scrap that idea. But I had already bought the pistachio pudding (which I suppose probably has traces of wheat…so be careful!) Anyway, google google google later, I found a recipe here!

Not sure what to expect really, but the batter was the consistency of frosting, I barely had enough sour cream so I made do with buttermilk…no ground pistachios either so almonds would just have to do. Turns out, baking isn’t as mean as people make it sound; it’s actually quite forgiving!

So break out the bundt and make this, eat it, and feel like you’re part of Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

Pistachio Bundt

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 2/3 cup GF flour blend

1/3 cup ground almond meal

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 package Instant Pistachio Jell-O

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1 1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 cup), chopped into cubes

1 tsp almond extract

1) Preheat oven to 180. Grease a bundt tin very well.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until fluffy. Add in the butter and whisk until there are no chunks left. It will look COMPLETELY gross and curdled. Keep trooping on. Add in the sour cream and blend.

3) Quickly add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, almond extract and packet of pistachio pudding crystals. Whisk on high until it’s fluffy. It’ll look like frosting.

4) Pour into prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

5) Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before inverting.


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The Flavour of Love

Everyone must have one. It’s either a gift passed down from generations to come or a present out of goodwill from a neighbour you’ve had tea with. Or perhaps you’ve done it the hard way and researched and experimented. Whatever it is, everyone must have a good, creamy, mind blowing chocolate frosting.

And because I like you, here’s mine. Take it, make it, share it, or eat it on your own at midnight. Just be sure to remember that frosting if happiness on a fork (or finger).

Oh, one more thing- anyone with a awesomely delicious chocolate cake recipe? The sort that’s moist, tender and for a layer cake? I tried a few over the weekend and had to settle. SHARE SOME CHOCOLATE CAKE LOVE.

My Favourite Chocolate Frosting

200ml sour cream, room temperature
270g dark chocolate, 55%
1/3 – 1/2 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup, gently warmed

1) Melt the chocolate over a bain marie or use the microwave and heat it in 30 second spurts, on medium until melted.

2) Mix the sour cream and golden syrup together.

3) Once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, slowly pour it into the sour cream mixture, whisking gently as you go.

4) Sift the icing sugar over the chocolate mixture and whisk (using a hand-held whisk, NOT electric) thoroughly.

5) Chill in the fridge until ready to use. You may need to bring it to room temperature before using if it sets too hard. It shouldn’t though.


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Macaron Day 2

“This time baby, I’ll be bulletproof”…

As I happily sang along to my current song-of-the-day by La Roux, I saw it as a sign. A good sign! The macaron shells will be bulletproof! I followed all that I’ve read and made sure my batter was “flowing like magma” before I carefully scooped it into my piping bag. Baking sheet- check. 160 degreeC oven (conventional), check. And I even had a little rhythm as I piped those cute little buttons of almond goodness. There were tiny pointy bits (that resembled a woman’s chest) but I remembered that a reader told me I could fix that with a little water on my finger and a gentle press. No sweat, positive thoughts!

So I decided to conduct a minor experiment. I left 1 batch out for 15 minutes and popped them into the oven. Result? Slightly cracked tops on some, and little feet, not poofy enough.

Batch 2 (pic above) was in 30 minutes after I had piped them. Result? Poofy feet, no cracked shells, but not matter how hard I tried to rap the tray against the table to get rid of the slight pointy bit, it was still there. *sigh*

Batch 3 was in 30 minutes (same as batch 2) but I placed it under batch 2. Result: NO FEET, a big mound of crunchy almond mountain-ness.

The improvements from this try was that…all of the shells were easy to remove, hardly any ‘innards’ were sacrificed. Hardly any crackly tops, most of them resembled macarons! Like, cousins, once removed.In fact, I’d say it was a big improvement. And I made sure the almond + icing sugar mix was as fine as I could manage, I even sifted it.

BUT! it seemed to turn soft-ish, chewy-ish. Not like the crunchy shell I imagine it to have. Can I be annoying and attribute this to the humid weather here? I mean, cookies die at the humidity’s mercy. And if you’re wondering about the recipe, I used this one from Syrup and Tang. It’s supposed to be the more reliable macaron! Maybe I should try the French macaron method?

I’m feeling really down now.I think I’ll go window shopping online.


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