Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's Bath Day!

How the week has flown past ... and it's already Sunday today! Can't even remember what I had done over the last 6 days. All I do know is it's Monday blues again tomorrow .... sigh!

Any way it's bath day again for my two fur balls ... that's my 2 shitzus, Benji (he's the white one) and Milo (you guessed it ... he's chocolate and white, hence the name).

Both love their bath times except Benji who hates getting his face wet. He has a double coat so really does look like a huge white fur ball. Both are absolutely lovable ... and after their bath they will both roll on the floor, pick up their favourite toys from their basket - a huge basket of toys at that - and will strew it all over the place. Milo will go berserk .. and will run up and down the living room area.

Some how or other Benji and Milo know it's week-ends ... I don't know how but they do. Maybe coz me and my hubby will wake up later than usual ... they have more treats and they see more of us than usual.

I guess they are just simple minded doggies and anything will make they happy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Black Vinegar Trotter

This is certainly one of the classic confinement food on a Chinese menu for new mums!

Chinese believe Black Vinegar purifies the blood, Old Ginger drives out wind, and Brown Sugar puts a check on "dampness". Pigs' Trotters are said to provide collagen and is good for strengthening joints & lumbar. Sesame Seed Oil is also to promote blood circulation and the eggs to nourish the body.

But for most of us, we just LOVE to eat this dish - whether confinement or not! This is also a dish popularly offered to relatives & neighbours who visit.


2 Pig's Trotters
1 kg Old Ginger, skinned & smashed lightly
4 Tbsp Sesame Seed Oil
1 bottle (~4cups) Black Vinegar
600g Brown Sugar
4 Hard Boiled Eggs, shelled
9 cups water


1) Clean & pluck off the hair from the pig's trotters. Cut into Big serving pieces.

2) Heat Sesame Seed Oil. Fry Old ginger until golden brown & fragrant.

3) Put fried ginger into a BIG claypot. Add vinegar, water, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 1/2 an hour until ginger becomes soft.

4) Add pig's trotters and continue to simmer until soft & tender (approx. 2hrs)

5) Add shelled hard-boiled eggs 1/2 and hour before serving. (Confinement nannies usually puts in the eggs with the shells still intact. This way, the vinegar will dissolve the shells and provide more calcium for the mother in confinement! )

Making Fondant Rose

I'm now trying my hand at making fondant flowers and my first attempt is trying to do a rose. The rose does seem to be one of the most popular of all flowers that grace most cakes and cupcakes. So why not try this!

I went to Phoon Huat, which is not far from my office, during lunch time to buy a pack of Wilton ready made fondant. Unfortunately Phoon Huat didn't have white fondant so I had to settle for another type of fondant which was important from South America, cost was under $7 for 500 gm.

I had previously bought a Wilton rose cutter set which I was planning to use on this project. Unfortunately the cutter did not succeed no matter how hard I tried - even following the instructions did not work. Maybe the fondant was too soft ... but I did add cornstarch! Anyway I came across a video clip from You-Tube on how to make fondant roses. You'll be amazed at the amount of things you can learn from You-Tube ..... a wonderful online library of information .. plus sometimes crap as well !

This is the end result .... still not perfect but it's a start. Just need to put in a bit more practise that's all!

This is the web link if anyone is interested to try this:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Palm Sugar Pannacota

I happened to chance upon this whilst doing a web search for recipes using palm sugar (or gula melaka which is the Malay name). Simple to do but absolutely decadent ... especially when it calls for fresh cream! Supposedly palm sugar is not as sweet as normal sugar ... if you have not tried it before, it has a totally different taste ... hard to describe ... sweet, burnt caramel ... sweet sugary cinnamon smell.

It can be found as a ingredient in quite a number of Asian desserts particularly in Malaysia, Singapore and also Thailand.

I remembered that I had 2 blocks of palm sugar left over which I had bought a while back during a week-end trip to Malacca (this is a charming town in Malaysia, with lots of history). Now's my chance to use it and try something different - an East meets West dessert!

The entire cooking process took me approximately 20 minutes, quick and easy.

Final result ... all I can say is ........ YUM YUMILICIOUS!! Not forgetting the additional 200+ calories around my waist!

Palm Sugar Pannacota
Source : Yani @

½ cup fresh milk
1 cup fresh cream
20 g palm sugar or gula melaka
7 g gelatin powder mix with ¼ water
For the syrup 40 g palm sugar ¼ cup water


1) Put in fresh milk, fresh cream & palm sugar into a pot. Stir and bring to the boil. Once boiled, remove from heat.

2) Put in the gelatin mixture & stir until the gelatin dissolves.

3) Put in some ice cubes & cold water into a suitable dish.

4) Put a bowl on top of the ice cubes & pour the pudding mixture into the bowl. Stir until the mixture is cooled.

5) Transfer into 4 small cups or ramekins & refrigerate for 1 hour. The pudding will set by then.

6) To prepare the syrup, dissolve the palm sugar in the water & pour onto the cold pudding.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My first iced cake!

I've always been amazed at how bakers can create such wonderful cakes with intricate designs. It makes me wonder if I can do this as well .... Of late I've been browsing through several websites especially Wilton's cake decorating classes conducted at Bake-it-Yourself. So one Saturday afternoon I decided to pop by their store to check out their goodies and chanced upon a vacant slot for a series of 4 Saturday classes for Stage 1. What was I waiting for .... here's my chance and I immediately jumped at it - paid on the spot as well. Now it's just a matter of waiting for March 15 - my very 1st class!

Finally the day came ... over the next 3 sessions I learnt how to crumb coat a cake using buttercream icing, piped shells, stars, made an icing clown, buttercream roses, sweet pea flowers. Finally I was on my 4th and last lesson - I had to bring an iced cake to class and decorate it within one hour using some of the techniques taught.

Boy oh boy!! This is stressful ..... anyway here's my so-called "masterpiece" ... it's a vanilla bean lemon raspberry cake with light blue buttercream icing, topped with 6 white roses!

Vanilla Bean Lemon Cake with Raspberries
(adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)
1 3/4 sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
Zest from 4 lemons
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1-2 cups raspberries, depending on how many you want

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the butter and sugar together in a mixer until light colored and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add in the lemon zest.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Combine the lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla in a small bowl.

Add the dry and liquid mixtures to the mixing bowl alternately, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Mix just until everything is combined.

Pour batter into pans. This batter with fill two 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2 loaf pans, or about (24) 3 1/2 x 2 x 1/2 mini loaves, or about (16) 3 1/2 diameter mini bundt pans as pictured - it's a lot of batter!

Place raspberries on top of the batter, and using a spoon or spatula, gently swirl them into the batter. Bake until a tester comes out clean -about 45 minutes for a large loaf, 25-30 minutes for minis. Let cool on wire rack.

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