Saturday, November 1, 2008

Just a Little Something...

Sorry things have been quiet of late. The month of October has been pretty darn crazy for me, and I haven't really had the time. I'm currently in Vancouver, visiting some family. I heart Vancouver. If I had my way I'd move all my family and friends here and just stay and never leave. I hope to take some foodie pics while I'm here, but smarty pants me didn't bring the camera cable to upload my pics. Oh wells.

In any case, here are some pics of the cupcakes I made for my aunt's birthday back in March. Yeah the quality ain't so hot cos they were taken with the camera on my boy's phone. Just a little something till I can get back to my regular routine, which might not happen till like, December. Lots of stuff on my plate at the moment, but I'll be back!Brownie babycakes, PB&J cupcakes and Mojitos cupcakes.Yet more brownie babycakes, carrot cupcakes and strawberry cupcakes.Carrot cupcakes up close.Strawberry cupcakes up close.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hot Soup!

There's this old skool (and I mean old skool) steak restaurant in town, which has been around even longer than I have. It used to be THE place to go to on a hot date (my boy says that when his parents were pak tor-ing - that's dating if you didn't already know - this is where they'd go for a romantic dinner. Hee hee. And apparently the decor hasn't changed much till this day, and neither have the wait staff! Seems that there's this old dude who's been there as long as the restaurant's been open. Amazing or what? I've seen him there on every occasion that I've been there to eat. So maybe the decor isn't quite as hip and happening as it might have been back in the day, but it's definitely got its charms. I just love the vintage, old skool vibe of the place, which I would think is fairly hard to come by anywhere else. Sure you've got tons of hot new restaurants with their sleek & chic designer furnishings and tastefully appointed interiors so you can dine in style... yadda yadda yadda... but this, this is really something else. Anyways. The restaurant that I speak of is none other than Sashlik, a Russian-esque steakhouse that's been around for eons. On the menu is a selection of hearty steaks, which is pretty much what it's known for, as well as a couple of seafood options. It's also got a fantastic Bomb Alaska (so I've heard), which unfortunately I have yet to try because everytime I'm there it's bloody sold out. Bleh. In any case, what I really like here is the Borscht Soup. Well, it is a Russian-esque steakhouse after all. It's hearty, it's got lotsa good stuff, it's just real yummy. What's not to love? My boy and I always order it when we're there.

So then I decided that I wanted to try and make it at home, so I don't have to go there every time I get the craving for a big bowl of piping hot Borscht Soup. I found this recipe online somewhere, I think it's, but I've since made it a couple of times and tweaked it to get it just how I like. It's got all sortsa good stuff: beets, cabbage, sausage, onions, carrots, potatoes... it's a meal in itself! And a mighty fine one too, might I add.Ruby red beets... so good but so potently staining. Chopped carrots and potatoes to add body to the soup.I bought the wrong bloody type of sausage this time... it totally didn't crumble at all. Bah. And it looked kinda pale and bland. So I tried to spiff 'em up with some herbs and seasonings. My mountain of cabbage...... waiting to be crammed into the pot. Luckily it all fit.My giant pot of Borscht Soup.

Borscht Soup
16oz. pork sausage (Make sr
3 medium beets, peeled and cubed (I just use the stuff from a can)
3 carrots, peeled and cubed
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 6oz. can tomato paste
¾ cup + 2 pints broth (the original recipe calls for 4 pints of broth, but I like my soup thicker)
½ medium head cabbage, shredded
1 8oz. can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
sour cream to serve

1. Remove the casing of the sausage and crumble into a big pot together with the oil and cool through. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender. Add tomato paste and ¾ cup broth and stir through until well-blended.
2. Add remaining broth to the mixture, and bring to a boil. Add beets and cook until they've lost their color. Then add the carrots and potatoes, and cook until they're tender, about 15 minutes. Finally, add cabbage and diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and simmer. Serve piping hot with a dollop of sour cream.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cupcakes for a pre-wedding bash!

I baked some cupcakes for my sister's friend's pre-wedding get-together, and I thought why not put up the pics, since it's been a while since my last post. So no new recipes today, cos I made peanut butter and jelly cupcakes and chocolate mint cupcakes (both of which I've posted about before), as requested by my sis. Just to shake things up a bit, I made the chocolate mint cupcakes in full-size this time, rather than the cutesy mini babycakes. I also added some crunchy Valrhona pearls to the finished cupcake for some added texture. I love those little crunchy pearls of goodness... so addictive. Chocolate mint cupcakes taste good big or small!So this guy ain't quite as cute as the babycake, but I think it still looks pretty darn good.

As for the PB&J cupcakes, they're pretty much as good as it gets, so I just topped them off with a single red heart, since it's a pre-wedding party after all. I heart PB&J cupcakes!Best wishes to the bride-to-be!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I've been hankering for curry puffs for a while now, but everytime I think about the number of calories in one of those bad boys, especially when I walk past Old Chang Kee (a famous curry puff vendor here, I swear I feel oilier just standing at the counter), I convince myself that it just ain't worth it and I keep on walking. But with Hari Raya Puasa coming up next week, temptation is just everywhere! Even in the carpark at HV, next to the mosque, there's a little stand there with an old uncle selling his goodies, which includes the Malay style apok apok, fairly similar to the curry puff but you have a choice of either potato filling or sardine filling. Both are very enjoyable, let me tell you. But they just as bad as those curry puffs because they are all fried in lots of OIL. YUM.

So in an attempt to satiate my craving for these little golden puffy parcels of goodness, I decided to try and make my own curry puffs. I also decided to be lazy and use frozen pastry dough, because I just don't want the hassle of trying to make the pastry on my own, only to have it fail miserably. For the filling, I used a recipe that I found here, and just tweaked it a little so I could use whatever I had in the kitchen. Plus, I added a piece of hard-boiled egg together with the filling in each puff. Finally, I baked my curry puffs, instead of frying them in a gallon of oil, so it's a little bit healthier and a little less guilt-inducing. Just a note, the recipe I'm posting reflects the changes that I made. For the original recipe, click here.

I deliberately made extra filling so I could snack on the leftovers. Heh how greedy am I?My puffs, brushed with egg wash and waiting to be baked. What do you do with those leftover scraps of dough? I used mine to make these mini curry puff "pot pies". Hot out of the oven and (thankfully not literally) bursting with puffilicious goodness!

Curry Puffs
3 to 5 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1½ curry powder
1 tsp chili flakes (I didn't have any chili powder)
½ tsp ground turmeric
300g chicken tenders, cut into small cubes
3 potatoes, peeled, boiled and diced
1½ tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil and fry onions until lightly golden brown. Add the curry powder, chili flakes and turmeric and fry gently.
2. Add the chicken, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the potatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the chicken is completely cooked through. Leave aside to cool.

To assemble:
1. If you're using pre-packaged pastry dough, make sure it's at room temperature. Roll out according to package instructions and cut with a round cutter of your choice (I used a 4-inch cutter).
2. If you're using hard-boiled eggs as well, slice them into fairly small slices.
3. Place a piece of egg in the center of the dough circle, and then spoon some filling over it. Try not to overfill the puff, so that you have enough space to seal the edges.
4. Fold the dough circle in half, and squeeze the edges together so you get a semi-circle-ish puff. Crimp the edges with a fork (I don't know how to do the braiding thing, although that looks so much better).
5. Place your completed puffs on a baking sheet lined with parchment, then brush with egg wash. Bake the puffs according to the instructions on the pastry dough package - I baked mine at 320 degrees Celsius for about 13 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on them so they don't burn. I also roatated the tray about halfway through the baking time.

Mmm mmm curry puff. Maybe next time I'll be brave and attempt to make the pastry from scratch. But for now I'll just enjoy these!
The "pot pies" came out pretty good too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Munchies for the Doggies

I'm always on the lookout for dog treat recipes, and this is one of the best ones I've managed to find to date. It's got good crunch, and is really fragrant thanks to the sesame seeds. I've made it a couple of times already, and have always had good results. The best part is that it keeps pretty well stored in an air-tight container, without refrigeration. That's always a plus in these parts cos it's always so bloody hot and humid.

Somehow my greedy pooch Reese just knew that these were doggy treats and not for human consumption, cos he usually snoozes while I bake, but today he sat bum smack in the middle of the kitchen floor waiting for some samples.

Rows of butterfly biccies waiting to be baked. (Ironically I really don't like butterflies - I'm scared to death of them - and if I'd seen so many heading my way I would just faint and die.)The butterflies, hot out of the oven. Some cat-shaped biccies. I also made bunny- and heart-shaped ones, but was too lazy to take photos of them.

Crunchy Sesame Rye Treats
1½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup rye flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup sesame seeds
¾ cup broth (vegetable/chicken/beef)
3 tbsp canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together. Whisk together broth and oil, then add to dry ingredients and mix well. If necessary, add extra flour to form a dough that's not too sticky. Scoop dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead.
3. Roll out dough to about ¼-inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for about 25 to 30 minutes, until crisp. Cool on wire rack.My greedy Reese, posing for the camera. (Truth is he just didn't want me to take away his stuffed toy ball.)

UBC Ponderosa Cake in a Cupcake!

I first made the UBC Ponderosa Cake a while back, and people really seemed to like it. So naturally, I had to try and see if it would work in cupcake form. I basically followed the recipe as it is, and baked it in cupcake papers instead of a big square pan. I've experimented a couple of times, and as luck would have it, my first trial came out better than the second time I tried it. The key is not to overfill the cupcake papers, like I did here. Ideally the cupcake papers should only be filled about two-thirds of the way. I kinda forgot and filled them almost to the top this time and hence they really puffed up after baking. Oops. Also, I find that it looked much better when I used mini chocolate chips (which I did in my first attempt, but ran out of for my second go at it), rather than the regular sized ones. Nonetheless, this is a super yummy cake... the combination of banana, chocolate and cinnamon sugar is just killer!I just love the crunchiness of the cinnamon sugar topping, mixed with the dark chocolate and the moist banana cake beneath it all!

A Warm, Hearty Meal

Today I woke up to a gloomy, wet morning, the kind where you just wanna stay cuddled up, all warm and cozy in bed and not do a damn thing for the rest of the day. Suffice to say, whilst I didn't quite make it to my yoga class as I'd intended, I was pretty productive, running some errands in town and squeezing in some baking for the poochies (a post on this will come soon). I also made dinner, which was a really quick and simple affair, with tasty results!

My first taste of a tuna noodle casserole came pretty late in the day, whilst my family and I were on vacation in Vancouver about two years ago. After four years of studying there and many meals at my aunt's place, she never once made her tuna casserole. But she pulled it out one evening when I finally made it back for a visit, saying she was too tired and couldn't be bothered to make anything fancy. Man! I loved it. It was so simple, but so yummy. I just couldn't get enough of it. So anyways... I decided to try and make it for myself tonight, seeing as today wasn't quite as warm as it usually gets in these parts. I don't have her recipe for it, but I saw this, and I thought it looked pretty darn tasty, so I gave it a go. I changed things a bit here and there to make things easier for myself; it's really up to you to tweak it as you see fit.Oops... didn't see the Roasted Garlic bit when I picked it up at the supermarket. Oh wells.The casserole is ready to be bunged in the oven.

Tuna Noodle Casserole
8 oz. penne (I didn't have any egg noodles), cooked until al dente
1 can tuna, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup (mine had roasted garlic, I didn't realize this till I'd already plonked it in)
½ cup milk
1 cup frozen peas, cooked
½ cup or more grated cheddar cheese (I used a mix of red and white cheddar)
½ cup dried breadcrumbs
1 knob of butter, melted
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Mix the first 6 ingredients together until well combined. I found that it's easier to mix the soup in with the milk before pouring it into the pasta/tuna/pea mix.
3. Spread mixture into a greased casserole dish. Mix together melted butter and breadcrumbs, then sprinkle over the top, followed by the cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, and then serve piping hot.
There's nothing quite like a warm, hearty meal with which to end the day. Yum yum.