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Preview: Dad ~ Baker & Chef

Dad ~ Baker & Chef



The blog of a Dad that loves to cook and bake. You will find pictures of meals, desserts and birthday cakes I've made for my family and friends. And every now and then, the lovely wife contributes too! Comments are welcome!



Updated: 2017-12-11T11:09:27.590+08:00

 



16 Years - A boy grows up fast

2017-11-18T10:05:40.558+08:00

16 years old today. How time flies. It seems like only yesterday that this young man was but a small little fellow running around in and out of the house to play. Now, he is still running in and out of the house but to attend school activities, sporting activities and also to have fun.As tradition has it, Mike was woken up on the morning of his birthday after his presents were hidden under his bed. As he gets older, it gets more difficult to but him presents as toys dont quite cut it anymore. Also, for his 16th I wanted to get him a keepsake. Something useful that he could keep and remember as his is 16th birthday present.With that in mind, I got him a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. He also got a football as both he and his sister seem to go through footballs really quickly! Another present is due and that is a pair of shoes but he needs to come along to buy it.....It was off to school then for Mike.As for the cake. Well, this will be the 16th cake that I have made for him. A quick check on the history of his cakes revealed that I started making dessert cakes for him on his 10th birthday back in 2011. Prior to that it was always a butter cake decorated in various shapes and patterns. SO this would be the 7th Dessert cake and the fact that I have never repeated a cake recipe is pretty good!!There's this cake that I had tried, called a Trianon cake, also known as a Chocolate Royal Cake and obviously very French. When eating it, I realised it had a Joconde or Dacquoise base, a layer of Praline Feulletine and finally a topping of Mousse. Didnt seem too diffcult as I had made all three different components before. So I decided I would do it. I decided on a Dacquoise or almond meringue base rather than the Joconde as I wanted a slightly chewy texture for the base. Just a side note, while Dacquoise often refers to the finished cake, it is also the name for the almond or hazelnut meringue based component. For the Feulletine, I opted to use Nutella instead of making my own praline as I was just simply too lazy. There! I admitted it!! I searched for a few recipes on the Internet and finally pulled one together with some adaptationIngredients DAcquoise/ Almond Meringue Layer3 Egg whites125 g sugar200g ground almonds2 tbsp flourPraline Feulletine Layer75g chopped chocolate 1 tablespoon butter200g Nutella200g) Corn Flakes / Feuilletine Chocolate Mousse LayerMousse 300g chocolate400 ml Whipping cream2 Tbsp Icing sugar3 egg yolks1 tsp gelatineMethod Dacquoiseline a 9" pan with parchment or nonstick paper. Whisk egg whites and sugar till stiff. Fold in almonds till nicely incorporated. Spread evenly into the pan and bake in a 190C oven for about 20-25 mins until lightly browned. Remove paper and let cool.Praline Feulletine LayerCrush cornflakes in a plastic bag but take care not to make it into a powder. Melt chocolate and Butter together with Nutella over a double boiler. Mix well to incorporate. Add in crushed cornflakes and mix well. Spread into a 9" lined springform and allow to set in freezerChocolate MousseMelt Chocolate over a double boiler. Whisk in egg yolks into melted chocolate. Mixture may seize and clump up but a quick whiz with an electric mixture should smoothen it out. Whip cream and icing sugar till stiff peaks. If chocolate is still not smooth, add in a little of the cream and beat till chocolate is smooth. Slowly fold into the cream. Mix well till smooth. Set gelatine in a tsp of water and allow to bloom. Place over a double boiler and mix well till all gelatine is dissolved. Add into mouuse and mix well to incorporate.AssemblyPlace a 9" steel ring on a cake board (or use a springform pan) Trim the dacquoise with a cake leveler so the top is level. Place the dacquoise into ring or springform pan. Cover with the praline layer and press down on to the dacqouise layer. Cover with Chocolate mousse. Cover pan in clingfilm and chill for at least 6 hours or preferably overnightWe cut the cake at night and the cake was pretty much a hit although it was really rich and you couldnt eat too much off [...]



A Princess enters her teens with a Mocha Mousse Meringue Cake

2017-02-23T13:37:15.681+08:00

My little princess turns 13!The 17th of February 2017 was the date my little Princess turned 13 and she is certainly not little any more. Being a school day, we woke her early and as usual we hid her presents under the bed. This year she got a Puma Hoodie, two personalised Arsenal Mugs and two T-shirts. The mugs were ordered from Photobook and as there was a special for two mugs, I designed two different mugs. She was delighted with the mugs but remarked that it may have been better if I hadn't personalised it with her name as that would look more authentic - as if it really came from Emirates Stadium! Nonetheless, she was delighted with her two mugs as well as the Puma hoodie and t-shirts.Although she is in afternoon school for Form One, she had to go in for the morning session today as there was a farewell for one of the teachers. So it was a bit of a rush to get both her and her brother off to school in the morning. Later at night, we bought some of her favourite Chinese Fried Rice from the shop in Bangsar (Vincent) and had dinner at my Mom-in-Laws before coming home to cut her cake. I had made the cake on Thursday night and had spent a considerable amount of time trying to decide what to make her. She had said she would like a dessert cake and preferably something new that I hadn't made before. She likes anything chocolate. She also likes anything sour. I contemplated making a lemon cake but thought that would be too simple. Then I thought of a lemon meringue cake - something like a lemon meringue pie. However I wasn't sure whether all of us would enjoy it enough to finish a whole cake. Orange Chocolate mousse cake....orange cake with choc ganache....Sacher Torte.....Coffee Cake..... Mocha Mousse Cake......hmmm.Mocha Mousse Cake. She does like Mocha. She does like Mousse. Lets figure out a way to make it a little more special. Maybe add in an almond meringue in between layers for some nutty crunch. Indeed, a plan was working in my mind.So this is what I decided to do. For the cake base, I would use my tried and tested Le Cordon Bleu Chocolate Genoise. I'd whip up a chocolate mousse and add in some coffee to make a mocha mousse then I'd make my Almond Meringue base and put that in the centre. The Genoise would be sliced in two as well and one layer placed on top of the cake. Yes. A plan indeed!Mocha Mousse Meringue Cake The various components of the cake are as below:Chocolate Genoise Recipe4 Eggs100g Caster Sugar80g Plain flour2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder20g Butter, meltedpreheat the oven to 180C. line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Half fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Put the eggs and sugar into a large heatproof bowl and place over the saucepan making sure it is not touching the water. Using electric beaters, whisk for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is thick and light, has doubled in volume and leaves a trail as it falls from the beaters. The temperature of the mixture should never be hot, only warm. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and continue to beat until cold. Sift the flour and cocoa together and carefully fold into the whisked mixture with a large metal spoon until just combined. Stop folding as soon as flour and cocoa are combined or mixture will lose its volume. Gently but quickly fold in the warm butter. Pour the mixture into the tin and gently smooth the top with the back of the spoon. Bake on the middle shelf of oven for about 25-30 minutes or until springy and shrinking from the sides of the tin. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Clean the cake tin so it is ready to use later.Almond Meringue 3 Egg whites125 g sugar200g ground almondsline a 9" pan with parchment or nonstick paper. Whisk egg whites and sugar till stiff. Fold in almonds till nicely incorporated. Spread evenly into the pan and bake in a 190C oven for about 20-25 mins until lightly browned. Remove paper and let cool.Mocha Mousse500ml whipping cream2 tbps icing sugar250g good quality Dark Chocolate2-3 Teaspoons Instant Coffee Powder (dissolve[...]



15 Years old with a quiet celebration.

2017-02-23T13:28:13.009+08:00


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15 years old today!

His birthday this year fell on a Tuesday and it being a school day, we did the usual hiding of his presents under his bed before waking him up.

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This years gifts were sports themed and he got an Adidas t-shirt and cap as well as a sports bag. As a bit of a gag, we got him a Captains Armband and we also got him 4 training cones so he can improve his football and hockey skills in the garden!

This morning, he had a hockey tournament that he was representing his school in so he was more than happy to be able to play hockey rather than go to school! While having breakfast, he 'cut' his cake and wolfed down a quick piece before I dropped him off at the hockey stadium.

I had made the cake the previous night. We knew that we weren't going to be able to really celebrate his birthday as Sarah had her primary school 'graduation night' dinner on the 15th as well that we all attended.

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I decided I would try and whip up something quick that he would also like.

He loves lamingtons and I considered making a whole bunch of lamingtons but opted to take the easier way out and just make two lamington cakes. I chose to make two cakes so that the cake portion would be thinner and also so there would be more to go around! The recipe was basically my butter cake with a chocolate ganache and dessicated coconut liberally sprinkled all over.

I kind of felt sorry that his special day had to be spend at his sisters graduation but that is all part of life and growing up. It's never all about you and I am proud that he didnt seem to take any issue with not really celebrating his birthday. He is indeed growing up to be a fine young man.

Happy Birthday Son!!
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Chocolate Tart for a 12th Birthday!

2016-04-26T11:22:35.556+08:00

My princess turns 12 today! How time has flown. Her birthday this year fell on a Wednesday. Although it was a school day, she woke up early, together with her brother, to watch the Chelsea-PSG European Champions League game on TV. They both woke up at 345am! At 530 we went down to wish her and then she came upstairs to look under her bed for her presents - as is the tradition. For her birthday this year, we got her a few things. First up was a set of 3 mini rubber balls (football, basketball and tennis ball) since she loves to toss them around; next we got her two 'magic' colouring books - just for kicks - the books magically turn into coloured pictures when you apply water to the pictures. Then we got her a really nice Puma tshirt, a Reebok tshirt, some fancy sports socks that she likes and finally the clincher was an Arsenal Backpack! She was really pleased with the Arsenal backpack. Although I call her my princess, she is hardly a princess in behaviour and is a real sports buff!While having breakfast, she painted the colouring books with water and both brother and sister were laughing away. Sometimes the silliest presents give the greatest joy. It was then off to school for the kids and off to work for us. We went out for dinner at night at Rakuzen at Sri Hartamas. Rakuzen was the choice as she claims that Japanese is her favourite cuisine. Also, since it was the Lenten season, she had given up meat and desserts so fish was the order of the day. She had a Sashimi bento while Mike had an Unagi rice set. I had the Sashimi as well while TLW shared a Sashimi/Tempura set with her mother who joined us for dinner.The restaurant gave us a small complimentary Macha Ice cream with strawberries and we had already decided earlier that we would all 'forfeit' our dessert abstinence for one day since it was her birthday. After dinner, we went home to cut her 'cake'. For her birthday cake she was tossing up between a lemon cake and a chocolate tart. She finally decided on a chocolate tart and asked if I could make her that for her birthday cake, Okay, so its not really a cake but that's what she wanted. I looked around at different tart recipes and finally combined a few to come up with this. I started the tart on the Monday night where I made the shortcrust pastry and let it rest in the fridge. On Tuesday, I completed the tart. I spread some marmalade on the base of the tart for a little orange flavour and then covered that with the chocolate filling before baking it. I then covered the top with a little melted chocolate mixed with cream and a bit of water. The finished tart was then put in the fridge to set and chill.Chocolate TartFor the PastryIngredients 110g / 4 oz butter225g / 8 oz plain flour80g / 3 oz sugar1 large egg Method Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until well combined, then beat in the egg, until fully incorporated into the mixture. Mix in the flour until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough. Tip the pastry out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly until smooth. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 30 minutes. Alternatively, it can be frozen for use at a later date or chilled overnight.Preheat the oven to 180°C. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and roll it out onto a flat work surface to a thickness of 5mm. Use a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin and line with grease proof paper. Next, carefully line the tin with the rolled pastryBake blind until the tart is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes then remove the weights and bake for another 10 mins. Allow to cool while you make the chocolate fillingChocolate FillingIngredients 300g dark chocolate2 eggs170g caster sugar200ml whipping creamDash Vanilla EssenceOrange MarmaladeMethod Whip eggs with sugar till thick. Add in melted chocolate. Whip cream and fold into chocolate mixture. Spread Orange Marmalade over crust and then pour filling into crust and bake in a 180 C oven for about 20 minutes. Let cool.GlazeIngredie[...]



Chocolate Mousse Royale Ice Cream Cake for a 14th Birthday

2016-02-24T10:02:51.879+08:00

Ahh, how time flies. My little boy is no longer a boy and is now a 14 year old young man! His birthday this year fell on a Sunday and we started the day off by going to church. We were running a little late so we didnt wake him up to open his presents as we usually do. I managed to quickly place his presents under the bed just as he left his room and then we went back in and wished him.He got a Chelsea t-shirt and a lego mini figure. We were supposed to get him a pair of sneakers that he wanted but there wasnt time to go shopping so hopefully we can go get it soon. After church we went for lunch the grandparents and then headed home to cut the cake.On Saturday, he had taken two of his friends out for a movie and lunch and then the friends had come back home to play. I had started making the cake in the evening and finished just in time to take him and his friends out for dinner as well. Michael had asked me to surprise him with a nice cake, something chocolate.I had thought long and hard about what to make him. I knew it had to be something chocolate as thats what he likes and also asked for. He loves the Chocolate Mousse Royale Ice Cream from Baskin and Robbins and so I figured why not make him a homemade Ice Cream cake!I"ve done Ice Cream cakes before and while planning for the cake, I tossed up between a sponge base and a dacquoise base. I figured a dacquoise base would not only be tastier but easier to make as well so I did that. For the ice cream, I basically made a mousse and freezed it. This time around, I made the mousse slightly differently where I whisked the egg yolks with sugar over a pan of simmering hot water - like a sabayon. Then I added in the chocolate and as expected it kind of seized up and beating it with a mixed smoothened it out but it was still very thick. Adding in a little whipped cream a little at a time made it all smooth again.I reckon I should have added the egg to the chocolate and not the other way around. I have amended the recipe to show that. Also, I think I should have whipped the cream a little thicker but I knew that the chocolate would set the cream anyway and I was afraid that the cream would separate as it was a very warm evening.This is the recipeChocolate Mousse Royale Ice Cream CakeIngredients Dacquoise Base120 g finely ground almond250 g sugar30g flour4 egg whitesMousse4 egg yolks400ml cream200gm good quality darkchocolate100g castor sugar 1 tsp Vanilla50g chocolate shavingsMethod Preheat oven to 180C. Line two 9" round pans with greaseproof paper. Beat egg whites till foamy. Add in sugar and continue beating till thick and glossy. Whisk together flour and almond meal. Add into egg white mixture and mix well. Divide into two pans and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.Meanwhile, make the mousse. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof pan over a pan of simmering water. Whisk egg yolks and sugar over another pan of simmering water till yolks are thick and sugar has dissolved. Add in the eggs to the melted chocolate, beating all the time till smooth. Mixture may seize or thicken but keep beating till smooth. Add in the vanilla. Whip cream in a separate bowl till fluffy then slowly fold into the chocolate mixture till smooth. AssemblyPlace one dacquoise into bottom of a 9" ring or springform. Cover with half the mousse. Place second dacquoise over mousse. Add in shaved/chopped chocolate into remaining mousse and spread over top of cake. Place in freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight.Allow to thaw slightly before cutting and serving.The cake doesnt look very pretty as it is just a brown cylinder but boy does it taste good! The dacquiose base lent a very nice flavour and texture and complemented the mousse really well. The chocolate pieces in the top layer of the mousse was just like the Baskin Robbins ice cream. In fact, my son kept going on about how it tasted just like a CMR (his short form for the Choc Mousse Royale).He[...]



Egg and Bacon Pie and memories of a Milk Bar

2015-09-24T14:24:28.247+08:00

When I was a Uni student in Melbourne I lived an an apartment that had a Milk Bar nearby - less than a 100 metres away. This Milk Bar was our stop whenever milk ran out(obviously) or bread, for a quick chocolate fix or snack. Even for a can of corned beef or when we had run out of something like tomato sauce. The milk bar was also a 'saviour' whenever we wanted a quick meal and that was usually a four and twenty meat pie with loads of tomato sauce squeezed into the pie. Joe and Claudette, the proprietors of this milk bar, served up another fancy pie that I absolutely loved - Egg and Bacon Pie. Joe and Claudette orginated from Lebanon and since I lived in that apartment for more than 3 years, we became good friends. They would know what I wanted based on what time of the day it was. If I sauntered in at around dinner time, Joe would welcome me before asking "Meat Pie or Egg and Bacon mate?" When I finished my degree and was working for a short time before coming home, I would stop at the milk bar early in the morning for an Egg and Bacon Pie to munch on while on my way to work.The pie from the milk bar was pretty yummy with chunks of bacon in an eggy filling over a shortcrust base. It was obviously mass produced and of the frozen variety but it was tasty, affordable and for a young hungry student, it was just great!The pie I made however has a bit more to it. I added mushrooms as well as spinach but made sure the mainstay of the pie was still egg. This is what I did:Ingredients makes 1 pie1 sheet puff pastry1 large onion - chopped2 cloves garlic - chopped1 tsp oregano1 tsp basil125g ham chips or back bacon100g spinach - blanched and chopped100g button mushrooms - sliced5 eggs2 Tbsp Sour Cream1/4 cup milk1/4 cut grated cheddar cheeseBlack PepperSaltMethod Heat oven to 190C. Line a pie dish with the pastry and bake blind for about 20mins. Meanwhile make the filling.Sautee onions till caramelised then add in the garlic, oregano and basil. Add in the mushrooms and cook till tender then add in the ham chips. Mix well. Add in the blanched spinach and simmer over a low heat to allow flavours to meld.In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream and milk till smooth. Season with a little salt and pepper. Place the filling over the bottom of the pastry and then cover with cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese and dont worry if anything floats up. Reduce oven temperature to 180C and bake for 30-40 minutes or till the pie is firm.The pie turned out really well and the addition of mushrooms and spinach gave the pie more flavour as well as more texture. The ham chips I used were nice and chunky and with the first bite, for a brief moment I was transported back to Joe and Claudettes milk bar on Wattletree Road, Armadale. Sadly, it seems that Milk Bars in Melbourne are a dying breed. A check on Google Earth that has street level views of Melbourne shows that my Milk Bar is no longer there. I can still picture Joe and Claudette standing behind the counter and their kids helping out whenever they were busy. I wonder where they are now....(This was actually made way back in 2013 but was posted late.....)[...]



Carnitas or Pulled Pork in a Cubano/Sandwhich/whatever

2016-04-26T11:24:09.241+08:00

This was made way back in February 2015 but I'm only posting it now. Better late than never right!For a number of weeks now, my son has been asking if I could make Pulled Pork. We had tried the pulled pork burger in a kids meal when we had taken my inlaws out for dinner almost a year ago at Morgansfields. So over the weekend, I decided I would make some pulled pork! At first I thought of just making my usual Pork Roast as the meat is so tender that I always serve it 'pulled' anyway. However, I thought I'd take the route of making a real pulled pork where the meat is served in a bowl - pulled away and ready to eat. Also, I figured I would slow cook the meat, kind of like braising it, so that it would absorb the juices and make it more tasty and flavourful.While looking for inspiration on the web, I came across Carnitas - which basically means "little meats," and is a dish of Mexican origin. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or lard until tender. That caught my eye and I decided to combine a few recipes to make pulled pork simmered in beer and orange juice and also chillis for a bit of spice. So a variation of Carnitas it was.Then came the decision of what to serve the pulled pork with. Fist thing that popped to my mind was a pulled pork burger. Then I thought of Cubanos! You see, A few weeks ago, we sat down as a family and watched Chef - the movie where a chef leaves his restaurant and starts up a food truck selling Cubanos. The kids seemed to think the Cubanos looked really good and I thought that was the end of it. However, a recent trip to Fridays triggered their memory of Cubanos as it was on the menu. I mentioned that it didnt look very good though and thats when my little princess asked if I could maybe make it one day.So with that request in mind, I decided I would make Cubanos. So on Saturday, my little princess followed me to drop Michael off at band practice. Then we popped into the supermarket at Bangsar Village to get some pork shoulder - without the skin, together with lettuce and nice ripe tomatoes. My princess asked why I was getting Tomatoes and Lettuce and I explained they were for the Cubanos. "But Cubanos dont have lettuce and tomatoes Dads." She remarked. "So you're not really making Cubanos then...." I told her that a real Cubano also used Pork Roast rather than pulled pork and since she said she didnt want cheese in the sandwhich it wasn't going to be a real Cubano anyway. "And anyway, when did you become such an expert on Cubanos?" I asked her. "Especially when neither of us have had one before.""Lets watch Chef again then and see what they put in." Was her cheeky reply.On the way home, we stopped at our favourite bakery, Aroma, to stock up on bread. It was still early and they didnt have the Ciabatta ready yet so I placed an order for 4 loaves of Ciabatta and one loaf of Rustical. Later in the afternoon after picking Mike up from Band practice we returned to Aroma. As we were getting out of the car, Mike asked what I was making and I replied Pulled Pork Burgers. His eyes lit up and then he frowned a little. "Are you using hamburger buns?" He asked. "No, I've ordered some Ciabatta and Rustical.""Oh! Then its a Cubano!" He said excitedly."Not according to your sister." I grumbled. "She says that Cubano's dont have lettuce or tomatoes. And there needs to be cheese, but she doesnt want cheese""I suppose she's right, but I dont want cheese either." He said, then turning to his sister, he chided her. "Sarah! Let Daddy call them Cubanos if he wants."A mini 'fight' then ensued between brother and sister as to what really constituted a Cubano. I sighed and walked along with them to the bakery, listening to them arguing - over what to call a sandwhich. Double Sigh.Ingredients Beer and Citrus Pulled Pork600g pork shoulder or pork butt1/2 can beer2 oranges - juice3 dried red chillies - cut into[...]



TLW's Birthday 2015

2016-04-26T11:25:33.325+08:00

Today is TLW's birthday but the celebrations started on Saturday night! You see, since today is a working/school day and since Mike had to play with the School Band at some show for the launch of KL Fashion Week at PAvilion later this evening, we thought we'd best celebrate he birthday early.On Sunday, TLW had a lunch appointment with some of her ex-schoolmates to celebrate two birthdays. I'd say Old Schoolmates but they are all still happening babes so 'old' doesnt quite do them justice! She figured she may be too full from a long lunch to properly enjoy dinner so we decided we'd do dinner on Saturday.Of course she quietly asked if I could make her a Tiramisu for her birthday. But of course! That was always part of the plan.So Saturday night, we went for a Japanese Buffet at Eyuzu Restaurant, Eastin Hotel. We had wanted to go to Genji at PJ Hilton but it was closed for renovations. So Eyuzu it was. The food was pretty good although I guess we were a little disappointed at the variety. Dont get me wrong, there was plenty but somehow it stuck to the basics. There was no fancy hand rolls, just the one with crab sticks. The sushi and sashimi spread was basically just Tuna, Salmon and some White fish. The did have Fresh Oysters and Prawns too but I guess we were hoping for more types of Sushi and Sashimi. They also had chicken, beef, squid and salmon teppanyaki made to order as was as Tempura made to order but both were pretty average. There were a lot of other items on offer as well. No cause for complaint but as we all agreed, it was nothing to knock your socks off. Still, we had a good time and indulged at the end of the meal with loads of Macha ice cream and also Moshi.Sunday morning we went to church and then dropped of TLW and Bangsar Shopping Centre for her lunch appointment. The kids and I went to get some cream for the Tiramisu and also some bacon and ham for lunch and also contemplated what to make for dinner. I decided I would keep it simple since we werent sure how hungry TLW would be. The kids suggested Goulash and my princess asked if it would be nice with pork. So dinner was decided upon as Pork Goulash. I made some BLT Sandwhiches for lunch that the kids relly enjoyed. I think they were just really hungry! After lunch, I whipped up the Tiramisu and then later in the evening, Sarah helped me with the Pork Goulash. I also made a 'Saffron' Rice to go with the Goulash.Dinner was enjoyed by all and of course TLW couldnt wait to dig into her Tiramisu. With only 4 hours in the fridge it wasnt as cold as it should have been although everything had set nicely. I served the tiramisu with Almond Pralines and that gave it a lovely crunch and added sweetness.Monday morning and I woke up the kids to wish TLW. We had bought her a small gold pendant in the shape of a flower. She wore it to work and seemed rather pleased with it. We were contemplating going out for dinner later at night and catching Michael's Band Performance at Pavilion.As it turned out, Michael called from school to say he was having fever and so he didnt go for the Band performance. I took him to the doctor in the evening and so whatever plans we may have had were scuppered. Anyway, the Tiramisu was still enjoyed by TLW and all of us.On Tuesday, TLW took some to work to share with some of her friends. My little princess 'complained' as that meant that there would be less for us but I told her that the Tiramisu was for mummy and she could share it with whoever she wanted to.Happy Birthday TLW!Note: Pics taken using a phone camera due to time and laziness constraints :)[...]



Giant Choc Chip Cookie Dessert

2016-02-24T10:00:11.342+08:00

Mothers day 2015 was celebrated on the 10 May and The Lovely Wife asked if I could make her a trifle. Sure! Why not! While the kids liked the idea of a trifle, they wondered if I could make something else as well. You see, I havent been baking too much new stuff off late and I guess the kids just wanted to try something new. I said I'd make them whatever they wanted but they retorted by asking me for suggestions. The trifle was being made on Saturday for Sunday as it needed time to set. So, since the inlaws were coming over on Saturday night, I decided I'd make something for dessert. I suggested a lemon cake but while my daughter thought that was a good idea, my son didnt seem to keen. I went through a few possibilities while searching the internet but most elicited looks of boredom and disinterest. I had seen a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Sunday offered as dessert at some restaurant, I can't quite remember which one though. So I threw the idea to the kids about a giant choc chip cookie like dessert that you could eat with ice cream. The looks of boredom immediately turned to interest. Deep interest! I surfed the web for a few recipes and settled on this Choc Chip Cookie Cake from Sallys Baking Addiction. Looking at the recipe, I wasnt't too happy that it called for one egg + 1 egg yolk as I didnt want to waste any egg white. I decided I'd modify it just a little and so I used two eggs. I compensated the extra white by baking the cookie a little longer. I also made two smaller cookies in ramekins as I felt there was a tad too much batter for a 9" dish. The cookie turned out pretty well and I took it out to let it cool. The top hardened up and I gave the smaller cookies to the kids to try out. They said it was like a nice chewey choc chip cookie just a little softer. It had a nice crispy top and was soft and chewy in side. Ingredients 3/4 cup (170g) salted butter, softened to room temperature1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar2 eggs2 teaspoons vanilla extract2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons corn flour1 teaspoon baking sodaMethod Preheat oven to 180C degrees. Line a 9-inch round springform or cake pan with baking paper.Beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat on until creamy. Add in eggs and beat till combined. Add in Vanilla, scrape bowl and mix well. Sift together flour, cornstarch and baking soda. Add into butter mixture and mix till combined. The dough will be quite thick. Add in choc chops and mix together until evenly combined. Spoon dough into the prepared pan and level. Bake for about 40 minsRemove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Cookie will be soft but will crisp up as it cools completely. Once cooled, use a sharp knife or metal spatula to loosen the sides of the cookie cake from the pan and transfer to a serving dish.I let the large cookie cool but after removing the baking paper, I felt it was a little soft so I put it back in the oven for a little while to crisp the bottom up. Not too smart as it started getting soft again and the top (which was now the bottom) softened through the cooling rack and bits fell off....Anyway, I stuck the bits back on and let it cool again. Thats why I didnt take a full picture!Tastewise it was pretty awesome! It tasted like a soft chewey choc chip cookie and it cut nicely too. It may have been a tad thick and maybe next time I will bake it in a 10" dish. Cooking times have already been amended to reflect the extra heating I did.The cookie-cake is delicious on its own and even better with a dollop of ice cream. I think one of the key things in this recipe is to use good quality chocolate chips - i used dark couverture so that always makes anything taste better. The kids loved it and my little princess was especially excited by how big the cookie was. She did admonish [...]



A New Way to Prepare Eggs - I call it Snow Eggs

2015-03-27T18:08:18.231+08:00

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I first saw this on a video that was in Russian or some Eastern European language. Basically what the video showed was separating eggs, whipping the egg whites, shaping the egg whites into a kind of volcano shape, placing the egg yolk into the centre and then baking it.

Looked fabulous and I couldnt get it out of my head. I wanted to make it for a while but each time I suggested it, I was met with doubt and resistance. Finally, I decided I would just make it. Two weekends ago, (14th March) Michael was away at band camp and so I persuaded my little princess to try these eggs for breakfast and let me make it for her.

I used three eggs and separated them, placing each yolk into an individual dish. Then I whisked the egg whites with a little salt until it was thick - like a meringue. Then I dolloped a batch of egg white on parchment paper and shaped it, making a hollow in the centre. The egg yolk was poured into the hollow.

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I then baked it for around 15 minutes in a 180C oven.

Once it game out I placed it on a plate and sprinkled some pepper on the eggs and also a little more salt.  I served it with some lightly toasted bread as well.



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I call this Snow Eggs coz it looks like pillows of snow.

The Snow Egg was really interesting. Sort of like a savoury pavlova and the egg yolk was a little runny once broken. The crust was a little rubbery as it cooled so you need to eat this fresh out of the oven and not let it cool too much. My princess thought it was interesting too. It was certainly a new way to enjoy eggs!

When I make this again, I will make the base a little flatter so that it cooks faster. As I said, indeed a new and interesting way to serve eggs!


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11 year old Princess with a Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse Cake

2015-02-18T22:41:57.457+08:00

So my princess turned 11 today, the 17th of February 2015! As per the practice over the years, we placed her presents under the bed and then woke her up. It was a school day for her today while her brother Michael started the school break for Chinese New Year. She gets tomorrow until the end of the week and also the next Monday off.She got a few presents from us starting with an Adidas T-shirt. My princess loves games that you play together and with that in mind we got her a board game called You are Sentenced, a small dice game and finally an Electronics Lab that lets you build 130 different circuits to build timers, make make sounds, flashing lights and other electronic gizmos - supposedly even an AM Radio!She seemed quite please with the presents and with the presents out of the way, she got ready and went off to school. I had to go to work but after school she was taken for lunch at Chillis with Mummy, Mike and Amma. My wife's brother and family went for lunch too.Later in the evening, my parents visited and we went out for dinner. Sarah wanted Japanese so we went to Rakuzen at Sri Hartamas. She enjoyed a Sushi and Tempura bento while Michael went for the Unagi Rice Bento. Mummy had a Teriyaki Cod while my parents shared a Beef dish. I had a Beef Teppanyaki and we all shared a Grilled Salmon head. I had told the restaurant manager that we were celebrating Sarahs birthday and they gave us a complimentary dessert - Japanese ice cream wrapped in some kind of waffle covering. Rather tasty!After dinner we returned home to cut her cake that I had made the night before. I had asked her before her birthday what cake she wanted me to make but she wasn't really sure. She asked me for options and I suggested a Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse cake and she seemed game so that is what I decided I would make.For the cake, I adapted various recipes. I started off with the base of a Chocolate Genoise that I have used before. It comes from the Le Cordon Chocolate cookbook. Next, I adapted Jamie Oliver's recipe for Salted Caramel although I added a bit more cream since I felt it was way too thick and hardened too quickly once cool. For the chocolate mousse, I adapted the chocolate mousse from my friend Deeba's Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake although I left out the coffee and I also changed the method a little.I baked the cake in an 9" Pan but then used a 10" ring mould so the cake had to be flattened slightly. I should have just stuck to using my 9" or 8" springform the the whole cake but I wanted to place the cake on a cakeboard...Salted caramelIngredients200g sugar100ml whipping cream50g butter, cubed½ tsp sea salt or salt crystals Place the sugar in a large saucepan with 50ml water. Gently heat on low, swirling the pan but not stirring, until just melted. (Don’t let children do this.) Turn up the heat a little and simmer gently, swirling regularly, until you have a clear, very dark golden caramel. Remove the pan from the heat then carefully and quickly whisk in the cream and butter. It will splutter a bit, but don’t worry about that. Keep whisking and beating until smooth, then beat in the salt. Let cool. If making the caramel in advance, keep it chilled but bring back to room temperature before using.Sugar syrupIngredients 1/4 cup brown sugar1/4 cup water1/2 tsp pure vanilla extractMethodHeat all ingredients together till sugar is dissolved. Set asideDark chocolate mousseIngredients300g dark couverture chocolate {70%}400ml whipping cream1.5 tsp gelatine sprinkled over 25ml water100g brown sugarMethodIn a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over the water and leave until spongy. Place bowl in another bowl filled halfway with warm water and leave until the gelatine dissolves and is clear.Place the chocolate and 100ml cream in a large bowl toget[...]



Souvlaki

2015-02-03T19:57:21.732+08:00

When I was a student in Melbourne, one of my favourite foods was Souvlaki. There were plenty of greek cafes dotted around Melbourne and I was partial to the souvlaki where the meat was in cubes and grilled on a hot plate rather than the kebab kind where it was sliced off a spit. When we visited the Gold Coast late last year, I was quite disappointed to find that Souvlaki wasn't as readily available as it was in Melbourne. However, I was really thrilled to be able to find a shop selling souvlaki and to introduce my children to it. They really loved it and I decided I would need to try and make it one day.One of the things that has stopped my from making Souvlaki is that we dont seem to have souvlaki bread available her in KL. The use of pita bread was never a consideration as the pita we get is somehow to thick. Of late however, I have noticed that the Mission brand has different types of breads - Pita, Naan and also Wraps. The wraps look like kind of a thinner version of a souvlaki bread and so I reckoned I would try it out. In my minds eye, I would use lamb chunks for the meat, make a yoghurt garlic sauce and throw in a bunch of chopped tomatoes and lettuce all wrapped up with the flatbread.This post is actually after making the Souvlaki 3 times! The first time was on a Sunday in mid December 2014. After church, we were wondering what to have for lunch. We were planning on just getting some takeaway from the local shop when I decided I would take a trip to the local supermarket and see what I could whip up, failing which we would get some takeout. My princess was game to come with me and on the way I made a deal with her that I would try to make Souvlaki if she helped me chop the tomatoes and lettuce. She was game!However, when my princess and I went to the local supermarket, I wasnt too impressed with the lamb that they had. I almost gave up and thought I'd forget trying out the souvlaki but I found some beef strips that looked pretty okay and so I decided to buy that. I also got some mushrooms for some added body. My daughter's main concern was how I was going to make the garlic sauce and I told her that I'd figure that out.When we got home, my son asked what I had bought for lunch and I said I was going to try and make Souvlaki. His eyes lit up as he said "Really? Yaay! Are you going to make the garlic sauce too?" Looks like the pressure was on!Ingredients Garlic Sauce8 cloves garlic1/2 cup Yoghurt - drained.Splash Red wine vinegarsplash of lemon juiceMeat250g Beef/ lamb - cubedSplash lemon juice1 tsp basil1 tsp oregano2 tsp corn flour200g mushrooms - sliced (optional)2 large tomatoes - chopped1 lettuce - chopped8 WrapsSaltPepperMethod First make the garlic sauce. Process the garlic so it is finely chopped. Remove 2 tsps and set aside. Add in the yoghurt with the red wine and lemon juice to the garlic and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.Now marinate the meat with a splash of lemon juice. Mix the meat with the corn flour and some salt and pepper. Set aside. In a skillet, heat a little olive oil and sautee the 2 tsps mince garlic (reserved from the sauce), basil and oregano. Add in the meat and allow to brown. Add in the mushrooms (if using) and cook till the juices of the mushroom come out. Set aside.To assemble, lightly heat the wraps in the oven and then spread garlic sauce generously over the centre of wraps. Place a few strips of meat over the garlic sauce and then cover with tomatoes and lettuce. Wrap the bread tightly and serve.* To drain the yoghurt, place the yoghurt in a cheesecloth or paper towel set inside a colander. Place in the fridge and allow to drain for about two hours. This makes the yogurt nice and thick as most of the water is removed.I told him he ne[...]



Goulash

2015-03-26T20:12:49.274+08:00

One of my Christmas presents last year from The Lovely Wife and the kids was a Le Creuset oval pot. Le Creuset is super expensive in this part of the world and for a long time, both TLW and I have gazed longingly at the Le Creuset displays in the shops.I used the Le Creuset immediately on Christmas Day 2014 for a casserole and found that leaving meat to slow cook in the oven delivered super soft, tender and tasty meat. So when we were shopping for groceries, I saw some nice cuts of beef and I suggested that I would make Goulash."Will it be nice Dads" piped up my princess. "What exactly is goulash?"I explained that Goulash was a meat stew, generally using beef or lamb in a tomato based sauce with loads of paprika for flavour. The kids had seen a shop in Publika, one of the nearby shopping centres, that served Goulash and they made a reference to that, asking if mine would be better."I really dont know coz we haven't tried their Goulash have we?"The kids proceeded to 'interrogate' me further on when I had last made Goulash, was it nice, if I really knew how to make it, was it nice, why hadn't I made it for them before, was it nice.... I explained that I had made it before as a student and I thought it had turned out quite well. I also remarked that I had offered to make it a number of times before but since no one seemed interested, I always made something else. As to the oft asked question of whether it would be nice, I told them to try it and then make a decision.And so it was agreed that we would have Goulash for dinner that night. The kids helped me out with Sarah chopping up the onions and garlic in the food processor. Mike helped to cut the capsicum and tomato while I cut the meat and the carrots. Ingredients Two large white onions - chopped4 cloves garlic - chopped4 bay leaves1 Tbsp Corn Flour600g beef - cubed2 Tomatoes2 Tbsp Paprika1 tsp cayenne pepper1 can chopped tomatoes2-3 carrots1 green capsicum1 red capsicumSour CreamSaltPepperMethod Preheat oven to 180C. Marinate the meat with a little salt and pepper and coat with corn flour. Set an oven proof pot or dutch oven on the stove top and sear the meat. Remove and set aside. In the same pot, cook the onion and garlic till soft. Add in the bay leaves and fresh tomatoes and mix well. Add in the paprika and cayenne pepper and cook for a little while then add in all the meat, carrots and capsicum. Cover the pot and place in the oven and allow to cook for at least 2 hours. Remove from oven and place on stove top and on a slow heat, mix the goulash, breaking up the carrots and capsicum into the mix so that it thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.This dish is amazingly simple to do as it basically sits in the oven for 2 hours and you are free to do what you want. The meat comes out amazingly soft and tender and the spices all seap into the meat. As the dish cooked in the oven the smell off goulash started to permeate the house and it smelled really good! The kids and TLW couldnt wait to taste the dish and they kept asking me if it was ready. When dinner was finally served, the kids and TLW piled the goulash on to the rice and then asked if the sour cream was required. or optional. I told them that the sour cream is supposed to make it a little more creamy and also to take away the harshness of the paprika but it was up to them if they wanted to add it on or not. That's why I didnt add it to to the dish.TLW and the kids absolutely loved it. This was the first time I had made this where the meat was so tender and succulent and practically melts in the mouth. We all ate way too much of the goulash with rice and my little princess proclaimed that she reckons this rates as one of her favourite [...]



Christmas 2014

2015-03-26T19:33:51.015+08:00

Christmas this year was a very quiet affair. We contemplated having an open house but decided instead that we would just celebrate it quietly with the family over a nice lunch. The Lovely Wife wanted a nice sit down lunch and asked if she could invite over two of her dearest friends, Lynn and Tina. I decided to make a leg of lamb, a simple citrus salad and a chicken casserole. I would get some pita bread to eat with the lamb, make a little rice and of course potatoes to finish everything off. I contemplated making dessert but since I had made the obligatory chocolate cake, I reckoned that would be enough for dessert.Usually at Christmas Eve, we host dinner for the extended family where we also open all our presents. However, this year, we celebrated Christmas Eve at my Mom-in-Laws house and my parents joined us there too. Both my brothers had plans of their own so again it was a quiet affair. We went for Christmas Eve mass and then went to my mom-in-laws. After dinner at my in-laws, we returned home to open up our presents. This year, we seemed to have overdone it a bit with the presents with each of us getting something big, huge and splendid. Michael got the Millenium Falcon lego set that I managed to get at a large discount via searching online and finding it on eBay! As per usual, there were a lot of other smaller gifts for each child. Sarah got Michael a tiny dinosaur mug/pencil holder from Petrosains while Mike got her a beanie in the shape of a dogs head. For some reason, my princess loves wearing beanies - especially to sleep!Also through online shopping, I managed to get Sarah a Pogo Stick. She had been asking for a pogo stick for the longest time and I was glad that we were able to get it for her. While shopping online, I saw this amazing deal for a QuadCopter and decided that we would get that as a joint present for the kids as well. On to The Lovely Wife. in addition to some smaller gifts, her big gift was a Marc Jacobs handbag. The kids and I had decided that this year there would be no jewellery and since TLW likes bags, we decided we'd get her a nice one. We tossed up between an Oroton bag and a Marc Jacobs bag and the Marc Jacobs won. Both were on sale but we were still surprised that the Marc Jacobs seemed reasonable compared to what we had seen elsewhere. Turned out that it was a Marc by Marc Jacobs - meaning it was the lower end of the Marc Jacobs brand. Not that I know the difference. Regardless, TLW was extremely pleased with our gift although while opening it, she seemed to not believe it when she saw the Marc Jacobs bag cover. You see, we often put other stuff in branded boxes to fool her! As for me, I got a lovely bow tie to add to my collection and a few other smaller gifts. After opening all the presents, the kids suddenly ran upstairs and came down with a large box for me. It was super heavy and when I opened it, a bright orange box appeared. It was a Le Creuset Dutch Oven! Wow! TLW said that this was a joint Birthday and Christmas present since it was so expensive. I was practically speechless! Le Creuset! I always wanted a pan that you could cook in and also put in the oven and this was just beyond my expectations. I remarked that I could use it the very next day for the chicken casserole!Early on Christmas morning, I took out the lamb that I had marinated the previous night. Before putting the lamb in the oven, I covered it with some Dijon Mustard and bread crumbs and then placed it in the oven to slow cook.Ingredients 1 Leg of lamb5 cloves garlic5 pepper corns handful rosemaryhandful thymeSaltKnob butterOlive Oil1 cup dijon mustardbreadcrumbsMethod Pound garlic, pepper corns, rosemary and thyme together. Add [...]



My Birthday 2014

2015-01-27T20:37:05.095+08:00

Late, late, late! I've been so late in all my posts but I'm trying to catch up. Today is already the 27th of January but the date on this post is 29 November just to coincide with the actual date of my birthday.So Saturday, 29th November, 2014 was my birthday. The Lovely Wife had initially suggested spending the weekend away but we then realised that my son had Band Practice on Saturday morning so I said we'd just take it easy at home. I woke up bright and chipper early on Saturday morning to wake up my son. There's nothing like a birthday to make you wake up bright and chipper! This didnt go unnoticed by The Lovely Wife either who remarked to the kids something to the effect that "daddy is so chirpy on his birthday but on normal days grumbles about waking up early!" The Lovely Wife and kids wished me happy birthday and I then went to have my shower and get ready to drop my son off at school. After my shower, I got the smell of frying bacon and when I went downstairs, I found TLW and my princess in the kitchen - but they quickly shooed me away, saying the kitchen was out of bounds. I proceeded to sit in the lounge and watch some TV while the smell of bacon teased me!Finally, they brought out a plate consisting of bacon, sausage, mushrooms, an egg sunny side up and a slice of toast together with a small salad. I love my bacon and eggs and it's an inside joke that even when we go for a holiday and there is a full buffet breakfast, I will still have my bacon and eggs. The breakfast was lovely and what a wonderful way to start my birthday! Before leaving to drop of my son, my princess presented me with her hand made Birthday Present - a new camera for me! My son also presented a lego he had made of a camera held by a lego minifigure. How sweet of the two of them. I had been mentioning that I was thinking of upgrading my camera and so that was the theme of their presents.TLW then showed me pictures on her phone that she had taken of some Le Gourmet cast iron cooking pans. She had wanted to get me some pans but my wise son said it would be better to take me along to make sure they got the right pans. As they say, its not the present but the thought that counts and there was certainly a lot of thought that went into all this!I dropped off my son and then returned home to relax for a while as I was supposed to go pick him up again at 1230. He called however at about 11am saying that they had finished early and so I left to go get him. When we returned, we found that TLW and my princess were both dressed to go out and TLW smiled and told my son and I to go pack a bag for the night. She had booked us into the KL Sheraton and had got a really good rate on the room with Club Lounge access! Woohoo!!We arrived at the Sheraton and the room was really nice and quite spacious too. There was a small sofa that Sarah immediately said she wanted to sleep on. There was also a small walk in wardrobe with a separate door where you could store your luggage and shoes. After offloading our luggage, we headed up to the 38th floor to check out the lounge. The views from the lounge were really nice and I made a note to take some pictures later on in the evening. We relaxed with some soft drinks and cakes before heading out for a late lunch at the nearby Yut Kee. As usual Yut Kee was packed but we waited for a little while and then had some char siew rice and belacan fried rice. It had started to drizzle slightly after lunch and so we quickly made our way back to the Sheraton. We contemplated going across the road to the Quill shopping centre but as the rain had become heavier, we decided to just head back up to the Club. Another round of soft drin[...]



A Cake and a Meal for a Belated Birthday Celebration

2015-01-25T11:37:39.379+08:00

Although we didnt celebrate my sons birthday on the day itself, I still wanted to make him a cake. I love Nutella and when I saw that Matt Preston had a recipe for a flourless Nutella cake that he had showcased on MasterChef Australia, I was rather intrigued. I planted the seed of suggestion in my kids but they didnt seem to enamoured by the thought of a flourless cake. I wasnt too sure either since the recipe called for only two ingredients - Nutella and Eggs.I tossed about the idea of making him a decadent dessert cake but the more I looked at recipes, the more appealing the idea of the Nutella cake became. I asked The Lovely Wife to get me a bottle of Nutella when she went to the market but didnt check the amount required and told her that a small bottle would be enough. Actually, the small bottle held only 200g of Nutella whereas the recipe called for 240ml. I decided I would just add in some cocoa and also flour as I wanted the cake to be more like a cake rather than a pudding.I decided I would use self raising flour so that there was some leavening agent.The eggs whipped up beautifully and then I added in some of the Nutella and then the flour and cocoa. The eggs started to deflate rapidly but I put it in to bake nonetheless. It was a disaster!The cake didnt rise at all and was thick and rubbery. I let it cool and cut out a small piece. It tasted okay but the texture was just too rubbery. My daughter had a bit of a laugh and made a face at me. Was I crushed... My son had gone to Genting where he had been invited by his friend, Ben's, parents together with 3 other neighbourhood boys to celebrate Ben's birthday. He was due back later that morning. Before he came back, I decided I was going to try the recipe again but this time follow it to a T. I popped round to the local supermarket with my daughter and bought another bottle of Nutella - this time the larger size.I followed the recipe exactly and this time the volume of the batter was much larger. The eggs didnt deflate much and I spooned it into the pan and allowed it to bake. After 20 minutes, the cake had risen spectacularly. I knew though that it would collapse once it was taken out of the oven as flourless cakes are akin to do. True enough, once it cooled, it collapsed somewhat. I was in a bit of a rush to remove it from the pan and as I did so, some of the sides stuck to the pan.Flourless Nutella CakeIngredients 4 large eggs240 g NutellaMethod Preheat oven to 175C, grease 17cm pan and line with baking paper.Place eggs in the bowl and whisk on high speed for about 6 minutes.Place Nutella in a bowl, put in microwave for 20 seconds to soften.Add 1/3 of the eggs mixture at a time into Nutella mixture and getly fold in. Add all egg mixture in.Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 20-25 mins.The cake looked pretty good and I couldnt wait to taste it. I put the cake into the fridge to chill it slightly. In the afternoon we had to go to Mid Valley to see the dentist as Mike's front tooth filling had come undone. While at Mid Valley, we were tossing up whether to have dinner out or if I should cook and I decided I'd whip up something quick. We bought some bacon, mushrooms and ham chips for a pasta and I also bought a Baquette. So for dinner, I made a spicy pork pasta and cut up the baguette and served it with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vineger - what my daughter calls my 'special bread sauce!' This is what I did with the pasta.Spicy Pork PastaIngredients 1 large Onion8 cloves garlic4 rashers back bacon - chopped2 stalks curry leaves200g ham chips - chopped3 birds eye chilli - chopped3 tomatoes, quartered200g mushrooms - sliced100g Basil leave[...]



A quiet 13th Birthday celebration

2015-07-31T10:50:55.412+08:00

So as I said in my previous post, my son was away at Band Camp on his birthday so we couldnt celebrate it with him. He texted us when he was nearing KL and we picked him up from school around 6.45. He had a good time at Band Camp so that was really nice. We had decided that we would take him out for dinner to celebrate his birthday as we had a lunch to attend that afternoon and we didn't have time to cook. We got home first to unload his bags and allow him to shower. We had hidden his presents under his bed as usual but didn't tell him anything and he didnt seem to notice. We went for dinner at S.wine at Publika - a place that we had always wanted to try but that always seemed to be packed out with no place. This time, since it was a little later in the evening we managed to get a place although there was still a bit of a wait. We shared a pork chop and pork ribs, both of which were rather good. The kids weren't too impressed with the Pork Chop although I thought it was quite nice. The food is a bit overpriced though and the place is really crowded. Nonetheless, it was quite a nice dinner. After dinner, we headed home and I told Mike to go "check under his bed." He grinned and said that he had noticed it earlier while 'sitting on the pot' before taking his shower. He didnt say anything though and pretended that he didnt know about it all through dinner! We got him a few items as usual. He got a set of Minecraft Handbooks that basically teach you how to build spectacular structures in Minecraft, a set of Lego Mixels and a Lego Mini Figure from Sarah. We also got him a book from the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan that he enjoys. The proverbial icing in the cake was an Adidas Chelsea t-shirt that he liked very much. To top it off, we went downstairs to find his final present in the freezer - a tub of Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream!The Ice cream was meant as a present so I didnt use that for dessert. Instead, I remembered that both Mike and Sarah like the 'dirt cup' a dessert at Tony Romas that is basically a kind of chocolate pudding topped with crushed Oreos. As I didnt have time to make dessert, I took the easy way out and bought two ready made choc puddings, crushed some oreos and served it to them. It wasn't nearly as nice as what they were hoping for but Michael liked the idea anyway as was very happy! After all some kind of dessert is better than no dessert!So that was our quiet birthday celebration for my boy who is growing up way too quickly. Happy Birthday Son![...]



Mike turns 13 but No Cake Today

2014-11-15T07:11:55.449+08:00

I"m sure many of you have popped round to see what I've made for my son's birthday. Yeap, regular readers/followers of this blog would have watched my little boy grow up on this blog. Today he turns 13! But, but, wheres the cake??
Well, there is no cake today as my son has more important things to do than celebrate his birthday with us. This is his first birthday where he is not at home to celebrate with us - my boy is away at Band Camp in Melaka!

So there are no presents to hide under his bed this morning, no cake to make and no special dinner or meal to cook for him today.

Indeed he is a big boy now and being away from the family is all part of growing up I say.

Happy Birthday my dear boy!

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TLW's Birthday 2014

2014-08-11T14:02:06.029+08:00

So it was The Lovely Wife's birthday yesterday and I actually offered to cook her dinner. However she said that she'd be more than happy with just my Tiramisu and we could go out for lunch instead and try some place new. So that's what we did!

The day started off with Church in the morning and then sunday school for the kids. After that we headed to Pavillion in the city and roamed around the shops and worked up an appetite. We had lunch at La Boca Latino Bar in Pavillion. The Lovely Wife had gone here with a few friends a few weeks earlier and she really enjoyed herself.

We shared three dishes among the four of us. We had the Ceviche where we opted for Salmon, the Nachos Rancheros with Chile Con Carne and Cordero Estofado - a Chilean stew made with lamb.


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It was the first time I've eaten Ceviche and it was quite nice albeit a bit limey. The Nachos and Cordero Estofado was really good and very filling. We thought both the Chile and Cordero Estofado was perhaps a bit heavy on the cumin. After lunch, we headed home and cut into the Tiramisu that I had made the previous evening. The Lovely wife had 3 servings! Yes, she does love her Tiramisu.

Later that night, we all went out again to Village Roast Duck. The kids especially like roast duck and they like this restaurant as they serve a free soup and free black herbal jelly for dessert! After coming back from dinner, it was Tiramisu time again for The Lovely Wife.

Good thing I made a large dish of Tiramisu....

Happy Birthday TLW!(image)



Easter 2014 Ribs

2015-03-26T18:55:41.354+08:00

Easter this year fell on the 20th of April. The kids had stayed off meat for the period of Lent while I had stayed off sugar. The kids had stayed off Desserts as well. So for Easter dinner, the request was firstly for a nice dessert - "doesnt have to be something new Dads, your Tiramisu will be fine" - and something meaty and tasty!The Lovely Wife makes a great BBQ Ribs but she uses loose ribs. We've always liked the ribs that are served in restaurants in a slab where you cut each rib of the slab and then devour it - like in Morganfields or Tony Romas. So for our Easter Dinner, I decided I was going to make some ribs. I decided on Pork Ribs but you could use beef ribs as well. I used two type of ribs - baby back and normal ribs. I actually always thought that baby back ribs were the flat kind but apparently the baby backs are the ones that look more like a rack of lamb. Anyway, I seasoned the ribs with a dry rub of garlic, pepper corns, paprika powder and cayenne pepper powder all chucked together into a pestle and pounded with a little olive oil. The mix was then rubbed on both side of the ribs and then wrapped in foil.I didnt have much time to cook the ribs as I only came back from my son's hockey training at around 4.30pm. The ribs sat in the oven at 160C for about 2 hours and then I removed the ribs from the foil, raised the temperature to 180C and spread the BBQ sauce over the ribs and let it cook for another hour, basting constantly with more sauce.The sauce was loosely based on Jamie Oliver's Epic BBQ Sauce and I must say it turned out rather spectacular.Ingredients 900g Pork Rib 600g Baby Back Ribs3 cloves garlicHandful Black Pepper Corns2 tsp Paprika Powder2 tsp Cayenne Pepper PowderOlive OilMethod Pound the garlic, pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper together with a little olive oil to make a paste. Rub all over the ribs and then wrap in foil and allow to sit in the fridge for at least 30 mins. Slow roast the ribs for at least 2 hours but preferably 3 hours at 160C. Remove the foil and cover ribs with BBQ sauce. Roast for another hour at 180C basting constantly with more sauce.BBQ Sauce1 medium onion, peeled and quartered8 cloves garlic, peeledolive oil4 bay leaves2 teaspoons paprikajuice of 2 oranges200 g soft brown sugar6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar200 ml tomato ketchup2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce3 teaspoons English mustard2 Tbsp Chilli Sauce1 teaspoon sea salt1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperMethod Process the onion and garlic together in a food processor. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and gently fry onion and garlic on a low heat. Add in the bay leaves and continue frying till nice and soft and fragrant.Add in sugar and stir well till you get a brown paste. Pour in 285ml of water and cook for 2 more minutes, then squeeze in the juice of both your oranges and add all the remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring everything to the boil, then turn down the heat a touch and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken slightly.The BBQ sauce is very much dependent on taste so add in more mustard of vinegar as you go along to suit your palate. I'd have liked to add in some Tabasco Sauce but sadly there was none available in the fridge. We had invited Lynn over as well and everyone thought that the ribs were really really good.What I would do differently next time though is to let the ribs roast for a little longer so that the meat really falls off the bone.I know I have hit on a winner when TLW admits that my version of ribs are better than hers!Happy [...]



Sarah turns 10 with a Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Cake

2014-02-19T22:12:41.432+08:00

My little princess turned 10 on the 17th of February. I cant believe how fast time has flown. With the 17th being a Monday and as such a school day/working day, we celebrated her birthday with the family over lunch on Sunday. The usual suspects were invited - my parents, my mom-in-law, both my brothers and family, my borther-in-law and family and Sarah's Godparents. Unfortunately her Godparents were away and so it was just the immediate family. My elder brother couldnt stay for lunch as he had a prior engagement but he did pop round for a bit.Deciding what to cook for lunch was a long discussion with The Lovely Wife. Sarah didnt know what she wanted although she knew that she didn't want rice and curry. So we decided to go down the Western route. My son wasn't very helpful as each time we suggested something, he would cheekily reply "It's not MY birthday."So anyway, after tossing up a few ideas, we decided to on the menu. Shepherds Pie, a spicy Bacon Aglio Olio and a Salad. It was also then that The Lovely Wife declared that I was cooking. All of it....Ever since my son started Secondary School, our weekends are rather jammed packed. This particular Saturday, The Lovely Wife had my daughters Parent Teachers Meeting. My son was supposed to have a replacement Saturday school day but it also coincided with a full day Band Practice at school. With The Lovely Wife at her meeting and my son at school, Sarah and I proceeded to do the grocery shopping.We both had a lot of fun together shopping for meat, vegetables and ingredients for the cake. We got back home and unloaded the groceries and then relaxed and waited for The Lovely Wife while we watched TV together and I planned my recipes. We were having so much fun that we forgot that Sarah had her Tae-Kwan-Do class at 1.30pm and only realised it when The Lovely Wife came home and asked us why we hadn't had lunch yet! As it was already nearing 1pm, Sarah decided that she would skip her Tae-Kwan-Do class and we all went out to but some lunch. I started on the cake late afternoon by making the cake base - from the tried and tested Cake Boss Sponge recipe. I baked the sponge and then left it to cool while I went to get my son from school. Later in the evening, I made the cake filling. My princess loves Hersheys Reese Cups and so I thought I'd make a cake version of that. A simple sponge cake with a Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse. To jazz it up a little, I added a layer of Feullantine. This is what I did for the cake:Ingredients Sponge Cake4 eggs2 cups sugar1 tsp vanilla1 cup whole milk55g salted butter2 cups all-purpose flour2 tsp baking powder1/4 tsp saltFeullantine1.5 cups Corn Flakes2 Tbsp Butter100g chocolate meltedPeanut Butter Mousse300g Good Quality Dark Chocolate100g chunky Peanut butter2 Egg yolks1 Tbsp Brown Sugar400ml Cream2 Tbsp Icing sugarMethod Sponge Cake1. Beat eggs in large mixing bowl with electric mixed for 4 minutes. Do not skip this step!2. Add sugar, and continue beating for another 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and stir on low until just combined.3. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add to eggs and sugar on low speed until just combined.4. In a saucepan, heat milk and butter on low heat just until butter is melted. Add to batter, beat just until combined.5. Pour into two greased and floured (or lined) 8" round cake pans.6. Bake at 160C for about 40mins until the middle springs back when touched, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven[...]



Carbonara revisited - this time with egg yolks!

2014-01-12T21:05:38.772+08:00

Yesterday, The Lovely Wife was away and the kids and I went out early in the morning to get some shopping done. My son needed a new belt for school as well as a spare pair of shoes. The kids also had some activities that they had to go for at 1.30 in the afternoon and I was leaning toward eating out and then dropping them off at their activity. As were were driving into the shopping centre, I realised that we had been eating out a fair bit and we were all somewhat tired of it. I asked the kids if they felt like some pasta for lunch and I was met with a resounding yes!My little princess excitedly asked what pasta I would make and I said, something simple and quick since there wasnt much time. I told her we'd buy some bacon and I'd make a Carbonara. She then asked me if a Carbonara was the creamy pasta and I was about to say yes when I remembered that an authentic Carbonara doesnt use cream.... A long time ago, I posted my version of a Spaghetti Carbonara although I did mention that my version didnt use egg yolks or any egg for that matter. I followed up that post with another post based on a comment from a reader where I explained that what I thought was a Carbonara, really wasn't. I've always been to scared to try and make an 'authentic' Carbonara for fear that the yolks would curdle. I've also realised that what one thinks is authentic can become adulterated over the years and that some famous world chefs now use cream in their carbonara - but together with egg yolks of course. This became very apparent while watching an episode of MasterChef Australia Masterclass where Gary Mehigan made his Pasta Carbonara. My little princess and I both watched that episode where Gary explained that although an 'authentic' Carbonara doesnt use cream, there was nothing wrong in adding a little cream in. The cream kind of stabilised the egg yolks and made the carbonara a little richer. I adapted the recipe from Gary Mehigan's, replacing the guanciale with bacon and reducing the egg yolks. You all know how much I love my mushrooms and especially with bacon so I added in some mushrooms as well. This is what I did. Ingredients 400g spaghetti 100g bacon - chopped200g mushrooms - sliced6 garlic cloves, finely chopped 4 egg yolks, at room temperature 50g Cheddar or parmesan, finely grated¼ cup (60ml) thickened creamSaltPepperMethod Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, season with salt. Add spaghetti and cook until just under al dente, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook bacon until slightly crisp. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until lightly golden before adding the mushrooms and cooking till tender. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, cheese, cream, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl to combine.Remove pasta directly from saucepan and add to pan with bacon. Add a ladle of pasta water and continue to cook for a further minute. Transfer pasta to bowl with egg mixture, tossing well to combine. Divide pasta among bowls and serve immediately.To say that the Pasta Carbonara was yummy would be a little bit of an understatement. It was simply brilliant! I wanted to eat more but the pasta was really filling and really rich. The kids loved it too and I was really thrilled with how well the Carbonara sauce turned out. The only grouse I have with this recipe is the leftover egg white. I'm still not quite sure what to do with the egg whites. We also kept a little of the Pasta Carbonara in the fridge for The Lovely Wife to try later. I was a lit[...]



My boy turns 12 with a Caramel Machiato Chocolate Mousse Cake

2013-11-20T21:49:07.585+08:00

Friday, 15th November 2013 marked by son's 12th birthday! It also marked his last day in primary school and coincided with his School's Prize Giving Day. So indeed it was going to be a busy day indeed!Both The Lovely Wife and I had taken the day off and my son had asked that we celebrate his birhtday that night with the family as he wanted to have a party for his friends the next day, being a Saturday and all.He also wanted a cake to cut with the family on his birthday dinner but being a big boy now, he didnt want to cut a cake with his friends for his party. He also specifically asked for "Something nice Dads, something with Chocolate". When pushed as to what cake he wanted, he smiled and said "Surprise me!"So anyway, as per usual practice, we woke him up on the morning of his birthday after hiding his presents under his bed. He had had his eyes on a pair of Nike sports shoes but being the good boy that he is, he remarked that they were way too expensive. To put things in context and perspective, the week leading up to his birthday had been immensely busy. On Tuesday, 12th November, he sat for his Grade 3 Drum Exams. Then on Thursday, he got his UPSR results. (UPSR is the Standard Six government exams) He did extremely well and obtained the maximum 5A's! So, in recognition of his good results and his birthday, TLW and I decided to splurge and get him the pair of Nike Air Max shoes that he had his eyes on! Boy was he happy! He also got a Lego Technic set, a Lego mini figure from his sister and a Crayola Secret Message Pen set. I also got him a Dinosaur skeleton mini kit akin to a lego mini figure just for kicks since he has always loved dinosaurs! The dino skeleton was pretty crappy though but Michael did like the thought nonetheless.So, presents opened, hugs and kisses all round, shower and change and I took them to school for the Prize Giving Day while TLW went to pick up both Grandma's as well as a shoulder of Pork I was supposed to roast later for dinner. Prize Giving Day was really special with Michael winning a number of awards while Sarah got some awards for her class as well. It was a fitting finale to his 6 years of primary school and we are all very proud of all he achieved! After Prize Giving Day we returned home and I started on the Roast Pork - a 3.5kg shoulder that took almost 6 hours to roast!The Lovely Wife made a batch of her BBQ Chicken salad and I also made applesauce to go with the Roast Pork as well as some roasted potatoes. My mom-in-law made her famous fried prawns so there was quite a feast!Dinner was attended by my my parents, TLW's mom, brother and family as well as Michael's Godpa. My elder brother was overseas while brother number 2 had some other function on while Michael's Godma was On Duty at the hospital. The Roast Pork was a hit as usual as was the apple sauce! In fact, all the food was a big hit and everyone enjoyed the meal. As for the cake, this is the first time any birthday cake has been completely devoured in one sitting! There was none left over and I didnt even have a chance to take a nice plated picture. I had made the cake the previous night and only finished at 2am as I ran into a few problems with the caramel mousse. I rushed it a bit and didnt chill it enough and so the cream separated. I made another batch but again, since it was late, I didnt have time to cool it sufficiently and so it didnt whip up as much as I would have liked it too. Or maybe my method wa[...]



Birthday Take Two

2014-08-22T12:29:08.295+08:00

The week after TLWs birthday, the market was back to being normal again. I told TLW that I'd make her another fancy meal but this time using Cod! You could almost see the sparkle in TLW's eyes.Since TLW was taking her mom to the market, I asked her to get the cod as well as some asparagus. She asked what I was going to make and suggested that I make a Steamed Cod with Soya Sauce but I hushed her and told her to just go get the cod as well as some asparagus.I've mentioned before that Cod is rather expensive but we all so love Cod and it's not often that we indulge. TLW came back with 4 nice and thick slabs of Cod and I couldn't wait to cook it let alone eat it.Once again, my daughter insisted that I plate the meal nicely and so I pandered to her request. I have to admit that a nicely plated meal does look so much better and somehow it tastes better too! Cod always has its own flavour and I dont like it with too much sauce. It is also a kind of fatty fish so you shouldnt use too much oil. What I did was to simply mash up some lemon thyme leaves with butter and let it sit on the fish for a little while before slow grilling in on a griddle.Grilled CodIngredients 4 sprigs Lemon Thyme Leaves100g butter4 Cod FilletsSaltPepperMethod Mash the thyme leaves with butter and form into a paste. Lightly season the cod with salt and pepper and then spread the thyme butter over one side of each fillet. Let rest for a little while. Lightly oil a griddle with Olive Oil and then grill the fish on both sides until cooked through.Steamed Asparagus with Chopped Egg and Mustard Sauce200g Asparagus - trimmed2 Eggs2 Tbsp mayonnaise1 Tbsp Dijon mustardDash red wine vinegarsaltblack pepperMethod Steam asparagus in a steamer or double boiler till tender - about 1- to 15 minutes. Lightly stir fry in a little butter to give it a nice gloss. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.Place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water by one inch. Heat over high heat until the water comes to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover with a lid and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove eggs from water and run under the tap to cool. Peel and roughly chop the eggs and set aside.For the Sauce, mix the mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar together. Add in some water if mixture is too thick.Arrange the asparagus spears on individual plates or a platter and spoon the egg over the asparagus. drizzle the sauce over the eggs.The Cod was simply divine and both The Lovely Wife and I realised that I could have cooked smaller pieces of cod i.e. cut each steak into two. The kids however said that there was no such thing as too much cod! The kids also loved the asparagus and especially the mustard sauce.I served the whole thing with some of my Honey Citrus Rocket Salad. This time I added in some grilled eggplant to go with the capsicum and rocketTLW 'complained' that there was no dessert but I laughed it off as my son and I jumped into the car to drop my daughter of at school for the Tae Kwan Do. On the way back, a quick trip to the petrol station down the road solved the absence of dessert with my son and I buying her a small tub of Haagen Dazs Ice Cream. Happy Birthday once again TLW![...]



Birthday Dinner at Gastro Dharmus

2014-08-22T12:30:29.929+08:00

Yeah I know I'm late and I'm slacking on this blog but it's not easy finding the time. Anyway, August 10th 2013 was The Lovely Wife's birthday. The day coincided with the wedding of one of my cousins so we couldnt celebrate her birthday. Fortunately, the preceding Thursday and Friday were Public Holidays due to Hari Raya so we decided we would celebrate TLW's birthday on Friday night instead.Initially I had planned on taking TLW and the kids out for a fancy dinner. Then I thought why not make her a fancy dinner at home instead. After all, unless I took her out to a really swanky restaurant, I would only end up humming and hawing about the food and especially the dessert. By cooking at home, I would save everyone from listening to my hums and haws...The plan was to make TLW a seafood dish. TLW likes cod and I had grandiose plans of Grilled Cod with Prawns. I would serve it with a side of Pumpkin mash and a citrus honey salad. That was the plans but sometimes the best laid plans go awry.On Friday morning, the kids and I went shopping for groceries. TLW had some errands she needed to run so that fit us just perfectly. When we reached the market in Bangsar, we ran into the first problem. Being the second day of Hari Raya, the usually active morning market wasnt at its full service. The fishmonger was sorely missing so that meant no Cod. Aaargh! There was no Cod in TMC (the nearby Supermarket) and Village Grocer (another Super) was closed as well. Things were not looking too good. Fortunately the flower lady was around and we bought a whole bunch of flowers for The Lovely Wife. We bumped into my father while buying the flowers and he insisted on paying for them. We headed back home and stopped at Mercato, the supermarket near our house. They didnt have cod either but there was some lovely Lemon Sole as well as Prawns. I had a peek into the frozen seafood section and decided to indulge and buy some Scallops as well. Both the kids were delighted with my choice of seafood - especially the scallops. I also bought some Jarrahdale pumpkin and a few slices of Bacon. The plan was starting to come together. The Lovely Wife loves my Tiramisu and so I got the ingredients for that as well.The kids and I went for a quick breakfast and then headed back home. As we were putting the gorceries into the fridge, my son mentioned that he got a bad smell from the packet of fish. I sniffed at the Lemon Sole and didnt notice anything. The kids went up to play while I trimmed the flowers and put them into two vases. One vase with roses and another vase with Lillies and Chrysanthemums - Lillies being TLWs favourite flower. I placed the vases around the hall and then started on the Tiramisu.I've modified my Tiramisu recipe a little and add in grated chocolate as well as top it off with Caramelised Almonds - just like the Tiramisu cake at Alexis that TLW adores. I've also reduced some of the alcohol and now make it in a wider pyrex dish that we got from our last trip to Langkawi. This yields a slightly larger and less thick Tiramisu which to me is just about perfect!Once the Tiramisu was in the fridge, I decided I would start to season the prawns in some lemon juice. As I opened the pack of prawns, I was overwhelmed by a bad, bad smell! The prawns were certainly smelling odd. I rinsed them out and they were still stinking so I wrapped them in newspaper and threw them in the b[...]