Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Catching Up Over Christmas

I have been extremely busy during the days running up to Christmas. Both due to work as well as personal Christmas preparations. As a result, my blog has been post-free during this period of time althought that did not mean that I didn't do any baking. Nevertheless, I am now catching up on the posts that I should have posted earlier. Better late than never, right?

Cooking Up A Storm on Christmas Eve

That's right. This year I have been put in-charge of my family's Christmas dinner which we have decided to hold it on Christmas eve. I have to admit it took me a while to finalise on the menu for the night. There were many recipes which I considered but then in the end, I have to find the ones that sound yummy, but not too task-demanding. After all, except for baking, I am relatively alien to the kitchen in terms of cooking...

After 2 weeks of recipe contemplation, 2 hours of ingredient shopping, 4 hours of preparation in the kitchen prior to dinner (with the help of 2 maids and my good ol' sister who arrived early for the dinner), here are my (ahem) pride and glory:

1. Prawn Salad (this is contributed by my niece. Simple & nice, go girl!)
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2. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Crabstick & Mushroom Salad in Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce topped with "longan" fruit. (A case of "dump all leftovers here"...)
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3. Sausage & Pineapple Cocktail.
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4. Coca-cola Pork Ribs (this is the family's favourite, it seems)
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5. Oven-Fried Cucumber & Zucchini Sticks
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Mains: Choice of the following with sides of Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Honey Glazed Carrots.
1. Swiss Steak
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2. Fish in Lemon Parsley Butter sauce
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Kid's menu:
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1. Fried Chicken cutlets
2. Sausage/Crabstick Cheese Bruschetta
3. Garlicky Mash
4. Chocolate Milkshake

1. Chocolate Tartlets
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2. Creme Caramel
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3. Lemon Pudding Cheesecake with Kiwi Fruits
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I have to declare the dinner to be a success except for a minor accident. Moments after cutting slices of the cheesecake and when I was about to return it to the fridge, somehow the slippery pie dish slipped out and fell to the floor. Oh no!!! And just when I thought I could have it for breakfast the next day as I like this cheesecake very much. :(

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Here's the cheesecake, seconds from disaster!

Nevertheless, it was a fun evening. Tiring yes, but fun! We ended the night with gifts-exchange under the Christmas Tree.
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Merry Christmas to All! Good tidings and Peace!

Countdown to Christmas III (Tartlets, Cupcakes & A Cake)

More goodies for the upcoming Christmas celebration...

Fruit Tartlets (for my office)
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Hazelnut Frosted Cupcakes (same frosting as below) for my friend's potluck Christmas dinner.
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And another birthday cake for my brother (Hazelnut Cream Cake). Frosting was very-very good...., but then again I used Varlhona chocolate and good quality roasted ground hazelnuts. ;-) But looks like I have got a long way to go in mastering the art of cake decoration.

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Countdown to Christmas II

More Christmas cookies baking....

Orange Chocolate Chip Stars
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Clockwise from top: Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies, Peanut Snowballs, Coconut Orange & Sultana Stars
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Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Best Celebration Of The Year!

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"This Christmas Day, All Christians Sing,
Sing Out The News the Angels Bring;
Over All The Earth, Let Praises Ring,
For Jesus Christ is Born.
All Sins Departs before His Grace,
And Life and Health come in its place;
The Love of God We Now Embrace,
For Jesus Christ is Born."
(Part of the Lyrics from my church choir's anthem for this Christmas, "Sing The News" by Stan Pethel)

Christmas has been and always will be my favourite celebration of the year!
Wishing All a Joyous Christmas and A Blessed New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Happy Birthday, Daddy Dearest! (Ice-Cream Cake)

Another birthday in the family, this time it is daddy dearest. And that also means another opportunity for me to make a birthday cake which I approached with glee.
For this occassion, I decided on a "Ice-Cream Cake". Not difficult to make, just sandwich some ice-cream with sponge cake and frost it all over with whipped cream. The latter seems to be the hardest for me. The first time, I over-whipped the cream till it curdled and started turning into butter. The second time, the whipped cream melts faster than you can say "melt"! Look at the pictures below and you will understand.
I guess my kitchen's temperature is just too warm. : I

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Ice-cream Cake that won't stay "frosted".
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Sliced. FYI, it's Vanilla & Choc Brownie ice-cream.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Countdown to Christmas

Countdown to my most favourite holiday season, Christmas has begun. There are Christmas shopping to do, presents to wrap, and cookies and cakes to bake. :)

Some recent bakes:
Cranberry Yoghurt Babycakes
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Peanut Snowballs
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Walnut Marble Yoghurt Cake
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Baked Caramel Tapioca Slices (they may not look like much but these are very delicious and decadent)
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Kiwi Jam (as gift to a friend)
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Monday, December 05, 2005

An Apple A Day (Light Apple Cake)

You know what they say about "An apple a day...." (Takes the doctor away).
If this is true, then you should have my Light Apple Cake. It has one apple on it! *grin*
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This cake is another easy & fast recipe, provided that you use a cake mix. I personally like the Butter Cake Mix from Best23 and City Bakers baking supplies shop (for those staying in the Klang Valley).
Here's what you need to do:
- 250g butter cake mix
- 125g butter, softened
- 25ml apple juice
- 1/4 cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2+1/2 eggs
- One red apple, sliced thinly with skin intact but discard seeds
- Some demerara sugar + dark molasses sugar + cinnamon powder (or just use brown sugar)
Cream butter and cake mix until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one and mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Pour into greased and lined 7 inch square cake tin. Arrange sliced apples on top and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon generously all over. Bake at 175-180c (pre-heated) for about 30-35 minutes (or until cake is done). Cool on rack.

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Light and fluffy inside

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Let's Feast on Pumpkins!

Halloween and Thanksgiving may be over but one does not need a particular festival to feast on pumpkins.
I bought a 1kg pumpkin today with the intention to experiment with making Pumpkin Paste tong shui (sweet consomme). Then I realised that I only needed 500g of it so that means I was left with another 500g.
A quick ponder, and I decided to make a Pumpkin Bread with half of the leftover and Chilled Pumpkin Jelly with the other half.
Luckily, I love pumpkins and so do most of the adults at home. Otherwise, the above trio would be an over-kill for us. :)
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Pumpkin Paste Tong Shui (Recipe here)
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Chilled Pumpkin Jelly

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Based on this recipe for Sweet Potato Bread, I improvised and made:
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Pumpkin Bread from the bread machine. (Improvised recipe here)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Better Late Than Never (Cookies & Muffin)

Well, I may have missed out some of the latest food blogging events such as "Hay Hay It's Donna Day" and the 2005 SHF/IMBB Cookie Swap but like they say, "better late than never..."
I think I must have been star-struck by the numerous utterly-delicious entries for both these events, to the point that I felt like I must give them a try too.
Ok, enough mumblings. Here are my "delayed" efforts:

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Self-Frosting Muffin
(based on recipe by Donna Hay; see link above for details and recipe)
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After reading so many raves, I have to see what the hype was all about. And I am glad that I did. These are so good, although I only got a quarter bite out of one muffin. Then again, this emphasizes how good the muffins were All gone before I can have another bite! *grin*
I have no doubt that Nutella would be absolutely fantastic with these muffins but all I had was a jar of PB & Chocolate jam. But no regrets in using this though. I think I must have been overly generous with the PB for the entire top was almost covered by the jam (maybe I should have folded more of the muffin dough over the topping). When baked, it formed a crusty and sweet top (that is somewhat similar to those infamous "Rotiboy" buns, but only crustier) .
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The 2005 SHF/IMBB Cookie Swap reminded me that I have to start my Christmas cookies-baking soon. From the round-up of this event, there are tons of cookies recipe made available. Really useful for anyone looking for new recipes to try this Christmas.

For starters, I tried 2 recipes. One was Honey Ginger Snaps based on the recipe from Esurientes, and the other is Custard Crunch Cookies from Gina of Kitchen Capers.
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Honey Ginger Snaps
For the former, mine was a far cry from the original. I expected them to be crispy but they had a chewy center. Could be due to under-baking since I have a phobia of over-baking cookies in my notorious oven (see previous posts if you wonder why). But I still think they are good! The sweetness of honey is nicely balanced with a slight tinge of peppery ginger. Would make this again, and this time will make them thinner so that they are crispier.

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Custard Crunch Cookies
For the latter, no fats are listed in the recipe. These cookies came out being quite hard-to-crunch but somehow, I got addicted to them. They could be a taxing on the jaw but I kind of enjoyed the crunchy effect. And the taste was very nice as well. Next, I would have to learn how to lessen the "hard crunch" effect.