Friday, December 30, 2005

Phuket's Yummy Eats - Part One

Tom Yum Soup in Phuket
This tom yum was really spicy and refreshing!

As promised, here are some tantalising photos of what I ate in Phuket. I was only there for 3 days and stayed at this quaint little inn which was just 10 minutes away from Patong Beach. Food was great, and so was the weather. I came back with a really nice tan! haha. anyway here's part one of Phuket's Yummy Eats... enjoy!

Pad Thai
Pad Thai - I loved how these noodles were really chewy

Delicious Pineapple Rice
Thai Pineapple rice! The best I've eaten yet...

Authentic thai green curry
Had to eat their green curry of course!

Sticky Rice with Mango
ahhhh for dessert, sticky rice with very ripe and sweet mangoes

Duck noodle soup
Got this from a street stall - noodle soup with duck. delicious

Papaya salad in Phuket
haha, this is papaya salad, remember my previous post?

pancake or prata

I have a funny story for this. I saw this street stall selling 'pancakes' and I thought that it would be some lovely thai version and ordered one - banana nutella to be exact.

Banana Nutella Pancake

and guess what it turned out to be? haha yea you can see. it's actually prata! with banana and ya nutella. gosh the guy slopped on lots of oil, butter and even wanted to put condensed milk and sugar! this was so sinful! but it tasted kinda good I gotta admit.

fish and chips in phuket
fish and chips. yea weird to be eating western there ya? but haha was craving for it

cottage pie

So there, you got a gist of what I consumed when I was in Phuket. I have many more photos, mostly of street stalls and what not. Will post them soon. Meanwhile, hope I've whet your appetite!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Snowball Cookies

Hershey’s Kisses Tree

Seeing that I had no Christmas post, I knew I had to make up for it...

and I present you, a Hershey's Kisses Tree... haha hope you like it!

Anywayz, in case you were wondering, yes the cookie I'm going to be introducing to you all has something to do with Hershey's Kisses. Lots of them:

A whole lot of hershey’s kisses

'Clothed' kisses and ahem, 'naked' ones too!:

Naked Hershey’s Kisses

Okay I know what they look like. Shhh... don't spoil the moment.

Let me present to you snowball cookies or what i call hershey's surprise kisses...

Hiding the hershey’s kisses

yes siree, you actually 'hide' the kisses in the dough before popping them in the oven.

I've been wanting to bake these cookies since chancing upon the recipe at Running with Tweezers. These snowball cookies had been Tami's IMBB/SHF cookie swap entry and they looked and sounded absolute delightful. And boy were they promising:

Hershey’s Surprise Cookies

these cookies have a 'melt-in-your-mouth' texture and provides for a sweet surprise. That's cause on the outside they look so ordinary that you wouldn't expect a lovely hershey's kisses middle:

what is in the middle?

like this! ta dah! Man, I really do love these cookies! Perfect for christmas too. Good as gifts don't you think so? This is gonna be a keeper for sure. Yum yum!

Merry Christmas to all of you!!! It's technically still christmas... since there's like 12 days of it, no? :)

Snowball Cookies

- 1 cup soft butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups sifted flour
- 1 cup finely chopped nuts
- 1 5 3/4 ounce package of chocolate kisses
- Powdered Sugar

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add sifted flour and nuts, blend well.
Chill dough about 1/2 hour.
Remove foil from kisses and shape dough around kisses, using scant tablespoon of dough for each. Roll to form a ball.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 12 minutes until set but not brown
While still warm roll in powdered sugar. Cool and store in a tightly covered container.
Roll in sugar again before serving if desired.

*Recipe courtesy of Tami of Running with Tweezers

Monday, December 26, 2005

How to make bread pudding...oh, and Merry Christmas!

how to make bread pudding

Been away in Klang visiting relatives during Christmas and well, I'm finally back! again. Before I forget, here's wishing all of you lovely readers a Merry Christmas! Sorry I didn't have a Christmas post. My Christmas this year was a rather low-key affair, and besides I wasn't in Singapore. I spent it in a quiet little town in Malaysia. You get my drift. But I did eat alot of yummy food though! But won't be able to post much pics of them cause my cam batt died on me. yep...

anyways, this post is about that bread pudding recipe i tried previously. Why? Cause I've perfected it. I always find that trying a recipe for the second time almost always provide for a better outcome. This was what happened for my bread pudding. My previous one was too soggy and didn't hold well together. I realised then, that I should have reduced my milk and egg mixture into half, since I wasn't using french loaves. So do take note, if you want to try this bread pudding recipe, please use normal bread or any fruit and nut loaf. It works wonders. As you can see:

a slice of bread pudding

it looks much better than my previous attempt. now i'm yearning for a piece of that!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I'm back.... from Phuket

thai coconut

Am finally back... from my short trip to Phuket. Have loads to blog about but that will have to wait. Need to sort out my 200 over pictures first! haha. anywayz i had a good time. The beach was lovely and yes i came back with sun-kissed skin. My friends will know what i'm talking about when they see me. It was so indulgent. I felt so lazy just lying there on the beach sipping my thai coconut which was oh-so-sweet!

and.... here's a teaser photo:

papaya salad on the beach

i'll leave you to guess what in the world that is. :) meanwhile, time to get some rest and get ready for my kickboxing class soon. toodles!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Heart-ful Shortbread

Cranberry Shortbread Hearts

Being a huge fan of shortbreads, i've tried my hand at baking it countless times but they always end up tasting like butter cookies. I know that there's nothing wrong with butter cookies, but the thing about shortbread that i find highly appealing is its crumbly texture which melts in your mouth.

And as usual, since I'm one who doesn't give up easily, i decided to try another shortbread recipe. It's from Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookie Edition. Yea that exact magazine I've been raving about.

This recipe for cranberry shortbread hearts caught my eye and I knew I had to try it. So lo and behold, I baked it the other day and it worked. Do note that this recipe is a little special because it requires you to cut out the cookies after it's baked, not before.

I brought these shortbread to YISS last week and it seemed that everyone loved it. That's good! Hmmm I may consider including this in my online bakery.

Speaking of which, I have decided to start this online bakery thing from next year. Probably in January. I would however, be using this blog of mine to let you know what I'd be selling.

Currently on my list are my chocolate chunk cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, peanut butter cookies and maybe this shortbread. I've decided to keep it simple and start with cookies first. But I could perhaps do my brownies too if anyone asks. Or better yet, if there are special requests for anything you've seen on my blog, I guess you could let me know too. I'm still working out costs and deciding how much i should charge :) so be patient and I'll let you all know when i'm ready! hahaa.. this is exciting.

Oh, one more thing, you probably won't be hearing from me for the next few days again because I'll be heading to Phuket tomorrow morning. Will be back on Wednesday, and would leave again on Christmas eve for Klang, Kuala Lumpur to visit grannie and relatives. But do look out for delicious pictures when i'm back ya? Until then, have a Merry Christmas and keep healthy!


Dried-Cranberry Shortbread Hearts

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degree Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius) with rack in center.
Put butter, sugar, vanilla, flour, and salt in large mixing bowl.
Stir together with a wooden spoon until combined but not to creamy. Stir in dried cranberries
Press dough evenly into an 8-inch square baking pan.
Bake until firm and pale golden, about 30 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack, about 20 minutes. Run a knife around edges; remove shortbread, and transfer, right side up, to work surface.
Cut out hearts with a 2 inch heart-shape cookie cutter. Trim any stray bits of cranberry from edges with a paring knife. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cafe @ Amplify

cookies all in a row

Just the other day, I had an important task. Well at least, it was important to me. I had to bake something. There was going to be a 'cafe' thingie at the YISS i was helping at. To be specific, there was going to be some time for participants to chill & catch up. There were massage and manicure stations, together with sports like table tennis and netball. And then there was going to be the 'cafe'. Okay, it was going to be some kind of makeshift cafe, but hey it's my first shot at selling my food.

So I decided to bake cookies. I ended up baking chocolate chunk and oatmeal raisin cookies. And guess what, they were a sell-out! haha, well at least now I know where I stand. Hey, i'm seriously thinking of selling my cookies as a sideline thingie. Hmmm now that's a thought.

Okay, anyway here are some pictures from the cafe stint I did. enjoy!

delicious oatmeal raisin cookies
my oatmeal raisin cookies

For this, I used a new recipe i found in the Martha Stewart Holiday Cookie edition mag that Sarah sent me. It was delicious! I think I'll stick to this recipe the next time I feel like some oatmeal cookies again.

Cafe all set to go
the cafe corner - sans people

Cafe filled with people
my 'customers' at the cafe corner

Cafe table

Emicakes kindly sponsored more than 100 pieces of brownies for the cafe. Cool huh? They were amazing and came with a lovely chocolate layer. I also sold some other biscuits and snacks.

Live music
live music @ the cafe. how cool is this?

my homemade cookies for sale
my cookies for sale

my chocolate chunk cookies for sale

oatmeal raisin cookies for sale

now you see it....

empty cookie tin

now you don't!

so there, my first attempt at actually selling cookies I've made. I've been thinking about setting up an online bakery and I really might just go ahead with it. Hmmm what do you guys think?


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Stir together oats, flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl, set aside.

Put butter and sugars n the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add oat mixture, mix until just combined. Mix in raisins

Using a 1 and half inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly.

Bake until golden and just set, about 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks using a spatula; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Bread Pudding

slices of bread pudding

Finally, I'm back! Yes, after that short disappearance. Well I didn't vanish. It's just that the week after my marathon has been really busy. Was helping out at the annual Youth In The Spirit Seminar my youth ministry, Amplify, organises. I was part of the 'Host' team and had to ensure that the participants were comfortable, that they got their meals and have a good 4 days 3 night at our Catholic Spirituality Centre (CSC) where the retreat was held.

Anyway to cut the long story short, the entire retreat was amazing and Gardenia sponsored us more than 100 loaves of bread! Can you believe it? They gave us white bread, white meal bread and fruit & nut loaf. There were so much bread that we couldn't finish it and had to give away loads. Well of course I took home some of my own. And isn't it obvious what I made out of it? Yes, bread pudding!

Freshly baked bread pudding

Ya, I know the recipe calls for baguettes but since I had these yummy bread, why not just make use of them eh?

Gardenia Slices

That's the bread by itself. It's only available during the festive season.

Gardenia Fruit & Nut Loaf

Now now, all of you, go get yourself a Fruit & Nut loaf from Gardenia today! I think I saw NTUC selling it at $3 instead of the usual $3.95. hahaaa..... okay enough plugging for Gardenia. Toodles!


Bread Pudding

12 slices day-old baguette, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
4 cups milk
1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Spread the bread cubes in it.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until well blended. Pour in the milk and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Let stand, pressing down on the bread occasionally, until it is evenly soaked, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 350°F. Scatter the cranberries evenly over the surface of the soaked bread and press to submerge the fruit. Set the baking dish in a large, shallow roasting pan. Add very hot tap water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

Bake the pudding until a knife inserted near the center comes out almost clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Generously dust the top of each slice with confectioners’ sugar.

Serves 8.

*From Williams-Sonoma "Dessert" recipe book.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Parisian Hot Chocolate

Bittersweet choc - 74 percent cocoa content

My legs are really tired, knees sore and muscles aching.

And it's all because I ran a marathon today.

Yes, the entire 42.195km of it! Sounds crazy huh? But hey I completed it! My first try and it was a real challenge. All about mind over matter. Most of the time, I used food as a motivation factor; thinking of what I'd eat after I've completed the distance.

and so, that's where this post comes in. A few days before, I made this thick decadent hot chocolate to pamper myself. It's quite simple really. Just add bittersweet chocolate to milk and viola. Here's some pictures:

Mixing Chocolate with Milk
mixing the chocolate with milk

A Cuppa Parisian Hot Chocolate

David Lebovitz's post about this dark desirable cuppa made me wanna drink it. That's why I knew I had to make some for myself.

Haha, I should probably make it for myself again as a reward for completing my first marathon ever!


Parisian Hot Chocolate

2 cups (60 cl.) whole milk
5 ounces (130g) bittersweet chocolate - at least 70% cocoa solids
Optional: 2 tbsp light brown sugar

Heat milk in saucepan.
Whisk in chocolate to warm milk, stir till melted and steaming hot
Taste & add brown sugar if desired.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Blogging by Mail 3 - X'mas in a box from the U.S

Blogging By Mail 3 – Box Arrives

And so, my exams are officially over as of TODAY! Hurray! Come on, cheer with me! Yaaa Hooo! :)

Anyway, I finally received my BBM package from Sarah of Cooking with the Headhunter on tuesday. Couldn't blog about it immediately cause of my exams but hey, I can, now! So be prepared for a whole slew of photos in this post. You will get to see what's in that box she sent me.

In fact, I'm so glad the box came on Tuesday. I had an exam in that exact afternoon and I heard it was going to be a tough paper so I was already rather anxious and nervous. But it was a delight to find the package delivered to me that exact morning! It really made my day. More so what was in the box that really touched me. Sarah had included a whole lot of goodies and even handmade stuff that represented christmas. I love Christmas but it's a pity that not much fuss is made out of it here. Well, other than the commercial aspect of gift-giving... I can safely say that Chinese New Year is more celebrated here than Christmas. Christmas is getting too hyped up I must say. The real reason for it has been watered down loads.

Allright then, it's time to reveal what's in the box. There's going to be lots of pictures so I'll let them speak for themselves and give only short comments:

Contents of Box
a whole bunch of goodies awaits

Schiklosch - Yugoslavian cookies made by Sarah and her family

Closeup Schiklosch
close up of schiklosch

You know what? I'm like addicted to these cookies. Ever since I opened the box, I've been eating them non-stop. I can't help it! It's really that delicious. The top part is made of walnuts, cinnamon, cloves etc. The bottom's kind of like shortbread. Lovely. Sarah, you rock!

Coconut Macaroons
coconut macaroons

Yet another yummy delight that Sarah made. My dad really like this one! I even packed some for him to bring to work. He copied the recipe Sarah sent and intends to make some of his own soon. Sarah, you have a new fan! Anyway those who want the recipes for the Schiklosch and Coconut macaroons can visit Sarah's post about them as her cookie swap entry for the recent SHF/IMBB.

Plenty of Sweets and Chocs
Look at all that chocolates! Sarah, did you read my mind or what? hahaa..

Different kind of Ferrero Choc
my utmost favourite. A special version of ferrero. But too bad they don't have it here in Singapore!

Snowman Peeps
snowman peeps!

I was thoroughly excited to see these peeps in the package! Why? That's because I've been soo curious about peeps eversince I watched how they were made on a programme that aired on Discovery Travel & Living some time back. I think it featured all-time favourite sweets and treats. They showed the original chick peep that used to be made for easter. Since then, there has been many peeps in different guises, like this one: the snowman!

One Snowman Peep
a close up of Mr Snowman Peep. Ain't he cute?

I love these peeps! They're so light and fluffy and not too sweet. Yum. I still have some. Gonna save it for some friends to try.

Box of Tazo Tea
Tazo Tea - Blended black, green and Oolong teas.

Brewed Tazo Tea

Sarah, what can I say, You really sent me a dream package of all my favourite things. I love teas and I really loved the one you sent me. Thank you once again!


These are speculaas that are made in germany. She sent me a pack of these. They're spice cookies and you can really taste the ginger and cinnamon in them. Perfect for eating with coffee and tea of course.

Homemade Christmas Ornament

Spongebob Squarepants Socks
Spongebob Squarepants socks

more x’mas ornaments
more christmas ornaments

Awww... I loved these ornaments and yes the socks too. It gave the package a personal touch and a very Christmas feel to it. It's like Santa visited me early this year. That's what so amazing about Blogging by Mail! You send and receive packages to total strangers, after which you make new friendships and chat about common interests and what not. I wouldn't have this opportunity of finding out about different cultures and traditions had I not taken part in the event! This is just so amazing. When I told my friends about my involvement in this blogging by mail edition and the past 2 ones, they were seriously surprised that such a thing exists! I suppose it's the part about receiving and sending things to strangers that they can't fanthom. But I guess they don't understand how passionate we are about food and all. Seriously, I love this food blogging community. It's grown so so big ever since I first discovered it! I adore the fact that people all over the world muse and share recipes and send homemade stuff from across the globe. It really warms my heart. :)

Okay, before I get all mushy, let me present the final thing in the package and my most favourite surprise:

Martha Steward Holiday Cookie Edition

A Martha Stewart Cookie Edition Magazine!!!!!
I was delighted when I saw this and started flipping through the pages. Here's a few pages to feed your senses:

Cookie pages

Cookie pages 2

Yummy huh? I'm so gonna try out these recipes soon. Sarah also included a flyer from Martin's, a supermart/grocer she frequents. It's interesting to see what kind of things are sold in other countries.

Man, this has been a very long post! But hey, it was necessary, since there were just so many lovely surprises Sarah included. You know, I was almost speechless by the time I rummaged through the box. She had also given me a cd of german christmas carols which i've started to listen and taken a liking to. Sarah has Hungarian/Yugoslavian roots and it has been interesting learning about her culture and tradition. This is certainly my best Blogging by Mail experience yet! I'm so looking forward to the next one.

Someday, I hope to actually visit these people who've sent me stuff and also the people I've sent stuff too. It'll be so fun and very interesting I figured! Ahaha... but that'll be a long time more. Got to finish my undergrad studies first eh? Okie Dokie... that's all for now...

P.S. Many thanks to Cathy of My Little Kitchen for hosting the third edition of BBM. Check out the other packages at the round up.

Food Ninja's hosting the fourth edition of Blogging by Mail, so hurry, send your particulars and sign up now!

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