Sunday, January 29, 2012

Prune layer cake.. not!

A disastrous adventure!

As usual, the fear-not in me tried to make this time consuming, calorie-laden cake.. And failed miserably! It's more like a layer KUIH than it is a cake! Nothing like the one in table for two or more's version (see recipe in link). 

I had a really difficult time baking this cake. The first layer turned out pancake-like and I had to discard.. On my second attempt, I burnt the top! Talk about things not working out! 

I then decided to change the mould and just throw everything in and bake it whole.. But as usual, I just had to try one more time.. It kinda worked this time after I changed the mould and baked it on a lower shelf. But as you can see, it turned out wet and dense!

I'm not sure why it turned out wet at the bottom and middle part, but the top part turned out quite nicely.

Anyways, as dissapointed as I am, and crazily-so.. there's a part of me that wants to make this again (??!!) I know I really shouldn't.. But it feels like 'unfinished business'.. I know I can get this right! So another time, another day! Another recipe!

Edible if you close your eyes ^^ aesthetics-wise.. forget it ^^||

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Korean cucumber salad (Oi namul)

Another all time favorite of everyone except baby pig and me.

If you like garlic and korean side dishes, this is a refreshing, crisp and easy salad to make. Best served chilled.

japanese cucumber, garlic, sesame oil. gochugaru

This is a pungent dish, so beware. But it is also easy to make. You would most likely have all the ingredients at home already. Replace or omit gochugaru with other chili powder if you don't have it. This salad would still be as tasty without chili powder, toasted sesame seeds or spring onion. So don't worry about it. It's the garlic and good sesame oil that makes it special.

Oinamul (adapted from korean favorites)

4 japanese cucumbers, sliced into discs (choose long, thin ones)
1 1/2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp gochugaru chili powder
1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
1 spring onion, chopped (optional)

1. Combine cucumber and salt, and mix well. Set aside for 30 minutes. Then rinse in cold water and drain well. Squeeze out excess water from cucumber with your hands.

2. Combine all other ingredients together. Mix thoroughly into cucumbers. Cover in plastic wrap and chill cucumbers for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with spring onion.

Easy, right? However today's attempt has kinda of failed, as I overdosed on salt and left the cucumber marinating in salt too long. As big pig puts it, it's more like a pickle than a salad (> <). Still my best guinea pig, big pig likes it. Fatty hubby too.

Salty, but edible.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I love chillies! And I like them FIERY HOT!

There's something about chillies.. . It's addictive, and it's also a laxative (^ ^||). It adds a 'zing' to any dish. Bland food comes to life just by adding chillies! It is the prefect complement to a prefect dish, or the life-saver to a dish gone wrong!

I first realized the importance of chillies during a trip to east europe. After too many goulashes and european what-not, I was really missing the food at home... Till someone whipped up some chillies. And my life was saved that day forth.

Anyways, I really like fresh cut chillies with my food.. not just any chilli, it has to be a CILI PADI. If there's none, I'll settle for any chilli. But not tabasco sauce though!

aunt's fiery dried 'jalapenos'

My aunt grows this mind-blowing chilli that a small bite of it, can send one all the way to Mars! It is not like the common cili padi at all. It's shaped like a jalapeno, and turns bright orangey red when ripe.There's a really nice fragrance and flavor to this variety. Since I can't get it fresh all the time, she had the chillies dried, so that I can use it anytime, pounded into flakes.

cili padi flakes

Gochugaru. This is another kind of hot chilli pepper I like. It is usually sold in the form of flakes or powder. It's from korea, and it's available at the many korean marts in town. Since I've discovered korean food many years back through winter sonata from the big hallyu wave, this is a staple ingredient in my fridge. It comes in a gorgeous shade of red, and packs a punch too. Compared to aunt's chilli's flavorful flakes, gochugaru is quite neutral in taste. So it is really suitable for cooking, as it doesn't overpower the flavor of the dishes.

fiery red gochugaru

I love my cili padi and gochugaru.. and you can tell.

And as much as I like my sweets, I like my hot and spicy dishes too. And I think life should be that. There should be sweetness as well as a good dose of spice! That would be a life worth living.

Chilli~est la vie!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hummingbird cake

When papa pig's away.. the mouse can come out to play! YAY!

And today's the day! la-la-la-la...

I have a sweet tooth, but most recipes are still way too sweet for my liking. I don't know about you, but I always find cakes tasting a little sweeter the next day! So I'm going to do it MY WAY (^^)

After comparing a few recipes online, which called for 400-450g/ 2 cups of sugar (?!!), I just knew I had to reduce the sugar! After all, the bananas and pineapples are already sweet enough! We don't want to die of a sugar overdose, do we? (I know you'd be pleased, papa pig)

So this is my take on the hummingbird cake...

Hummingbird Cake (my Way)

375g self-raising flour 
250g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup / 250ml sunflower oil (next time, I'm using melted butter)
300g undrained pineapples, crushed
4 large / 400g bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting 
250g cream cheese
55g butter
250g icing sugar, sifted (next time, reduce to 200g)
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g chopped and toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a bowl, mix crushed pineapples, mashed bananas and vanilla extract together.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon powder. Add eggs and oil to the dry ingredients.

Then stir in the pineapple and banana mixture. DO NOT BEAT mixture.

Pour into 3 - 8 inch pans and bake for 30 minutes.

Leave to cool before frosting.

One recipe suggested poking some small holes into the cakes (before frosting), and sprinkling some pineapple juice into the cake so that it will be nice and moist. I did.

So how did my adaptation turn out? Well, it worked.. cake tastes nice, banana-ey, cinnamon-y and moist. Nice texture too. However, if I were to make this again, I might replace sunflower oil with butter. There's nothing like the taste of butter in freshly made cakes! I love BUTTER.

This is also one of the rare (very) times, I ice my cakes. I've never liked frosting. I like my cakes the way it is. I think frosting dulls the flavor and camouflages the wonderful aroma of the cake, blah, blah... Truth is I don't know how to ice cakes, I just slap them on! But since baby pig have been wanting frosted cakes FOREVER, I'm going to make him happy today!

As you can see I'm really terrible with frosting (><). I've never successfully frosted anything! Anyways, the cream cheese frosting is awfully sweet in my opinion, and it really camouflaged the taste of a really nice cake. I'm going to skip the frosting next time, or find another recipe! By the way, the original cream cheese frosting recipe calls for 2 times the sugar! Yikes!

Anyways, fatty hubby likes this cake. He actually said it's good.. and that's saying something else! He is usually non-committal  with an 'ok'.. I'm not sure if he's just pulling a fast one.. but I'm happy.

Baby, big and mama pig really, really like this cake too. Even the frosting. Baby and Big had seconds! And you know what, happiness is... THIS!

It's a happy day (^^)!

Cake's really GOOD!  

p.s  if you've been a good boy, papa pig.. we might save you a slice!

No cook creamy tuna pasta

Finally! I have my salad cream and I'm all set.

Another super duper easy dinner. No cooking required. Just throw the tuna chunks, sweet corn and salad cream together. And we are done! Oops, the pasta..

I like salad cream. Add lots.. oops! I mean enough. The mixture should be on the creamy side. Add to pasta. Season with some chilli flakes.. and tuck in!

I really like the simplicity of this pasta. It's light and sweet (corns), with a hint of tang (salad cream). And it's really refreshing especially served chilled on a hot day. For a balanced meal, add some salad greens.

This pasta is so easy, no recipe needed. Once you've tasted it, you'll remember for life and can make this anywhere, anytime. I know, because my chubby big brother made it for me once long, long time ago and it's stuck since.

Make extra, it's that good! (^^)

It's plate-licking good!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Potatoes with butter and soy sauce

They say failure to plan is a sure way to fail. 

I say 'even with a plan, failure still comes my way!' My 'I'm invincible and surer-than-sure' attitude landed me in a mess today. What I was so sure was salad cream turned out to be mayonaise! (><) And with that no tuna pasta today.

What I did make, turned out to be something even better! Potatoes with butter and soy sauce from Makiko Itoh in just hungry. And it's so easy (^^)

Sorry, too lazy to re-type the recipe again. You should be able to read this or head over to just hungry.

As usual, I tweaked the recipe a bit by adding carrots to make it a more balanced meal. I also added meatballs (from IKEA) during the last 15 minutes of the bake because I was too lazy to cook them. 

Everything turned out beautifully!

The combination of butter with soy sauce is just heavenly. Ok, so I added way too much butter.. how do you measure 2 tablespoons of butter, anyways? I'll just have to remember to use less next time. 

Oh, yes, there will be a next time! And many many other next time.. This is a keeper!


dinner alone

I was all prepared to make tuna pasta for dinner, till fatty hubby called and said he has to attend a company dinner.

So I just made a simple dish for myself. Stir-fry cabbage with eggs.

I know it doesn't sound nor look inspiring.. and I can bet you that my late Mum was not inspired while cooking this dish at 5.30am when I was young

But it's an all time favorite of mine. And just because I liked it, Mum cooked it almost every day.. and it has nothing to do with 'she loves me' kinda thing. It was simply because it's easy to cook.

And that's really all the things needed to cook this. Actually this dish uses shallots not garlic. But as usual, the hero in me took over and I made do with garlic since I was too lazy to peel the shallots (^^). I did say it was going to be easy, right?

So a bit of oil to saute your garlic/shallot. Then the eggs go in, just scramble them up. Add the cabbage. Season with soy sauce and stir fry till cooked. As I like this dish a little bit wet, I added some water and dished it up before it dried out.

Oh, I did add a bit of shredded carrots for color because I wanted to try out my Benriner japanese mandolin. The original recipe does not call for carrots, and that's because I don't like them and Mum was more than willing to oblige.. less work, of course. It IS 5.30 in the morning!

Not bad..  Mum still did it best.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

happiness is...

Many things make me happy.. good food, simple food, cheesecakes, potato chips.. but most of all, family who loves food the way I do.

'precious' hanging in all its glory on the fridge door

Well, in case you can't see the text in the pix.. it's 'BEST FOR BAIKING'. Need I say more...

It's from one of my guinea pigs, 3 years ago. So what if he spelled baking wrong.. baby pig was probably 7 then. And you know what, this is my most treasured medal ever! Thank you, baby pig! Cheesecake when papa pig's away, eh?

Since we are on the subject, I must tell you about another one of my guinea pigs, big pig, who eats everything.. and I mean, EVERYTHING... He makes me happy when he eats the things I get right, and more so, when I get it wrong (which is pretty often when I go into my hero mode). Now that he's a teenager with more discerning taste, it's harder to please him.. guess all the more reason to do better!

And of course, chubby pig. who recently rated my butter cake a close 2nd to a popular bakery's cupcake.. and that's because it's frosted, has a beautiful name called vanilla skies and obviously very sweet for my sweet toothed chubby pig. But don't worry, chubby.. I'm working on the best frosting ever.. and a pretty name too.

As you would have noticed AGAIN, I'm really not noted for my cooking. But this year, this will change. I'm ready for the best cook award from fatty hubby:) 

it's gonna be a good year!

I just know it.

And what better to mark 2012 than by doing this? So stay with me.

Home cooked dinners. It's not something I do. Why? Cooking for 2 has no economics of scale value in my opinion. It is not cheaper, neither is it easier. And the fights over who does the washing up after, are not worth it! Hence the very good relationship I have with the kakak who sells food near our place.

But since fatty hubby asked for home cooked dinners recently, I've actually made it my resolution to cook dinner on weekdays as much as I can.. And let it be recorded, I've done just that for the last 2 weeks.. EVERYDAY. Not bad, eh? So what if I cheated a bit with the fried chicken bought from shihlin, I still cooked the veggies! So that counts too!

In the event, I've discovered that I'm a 'creative' cook, as I'm a 'creative' baker. That sounds really good.. but the truth is I turn into some kind of monster when I'm in the kitchen - another me, "the I'm Invincible", takes over. All  this means I NEVER follow recipes through. In all madness, I change the recipes - adding, reducing and omitting ingredients on whims - despite knowing and promising myself not to after the many many misses!

I'm bad when I bake, but I'm worse when I cook.

So I like baking better, and you can probably tell. It's challenging, but more importantly it got me through a very difficult and sad period. It's been almost 7 years since I started baking and I can't tell you enough how much I enjoyed every successful bake, and some misses too.

However, my happy run came to an end last year. My guinea pigs decided that they are obese (my fault, papa pig says) and I've been banned from supplying them sweets. So things have been pretty slow.. only the occasional birthday cake.. or when papa pig is away;)

Anyways, writing all this down is really nice. It really is going to be a good year! I know it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I've always admired blogs that are accompanied by music. And i told myself if I ever have one, it will have to have MUSIC!

For an IT challenged person like me, this is MAJOR!!! Woo-hoo! And it was not difficult at all! Picking the right kinda of music is way tougher..

Butterfly Waltz by Brian Crain is tops in my list and you can tell why, right.. Pachelbel's Canon in D, and Yimaru's music really grows on you.. Enjoy.


I'm really excited!

And it's all thanks to.. josh re-starting his blog.. my cooking resolution for the new year.. then checking the wonderful food blogs out there.. discovering dorie, momofuku, makiko itoh, bourke street bakery, table for two, or more, nasi lemak lover, honey and jam, cannelle et vanille, smitten kitchen, sunnyside farm.. And here i am! Hurray!