Black Bottom Cupcakes


Made this for fellow postgrad students a few weeks ago. It was one of those slum weeks that needed abit of pick me up! hehehe. I also decided to post this today after such a depressing self-focused post in the previous one!

I took this recipe from William Sonoma. I have never heard of this before and was intrigued. It was messy making this however, as I don’t have a good piping bag. And I think I need more practice handling one because the cream cheese was dripping all over the kitchen beach top! I realised quickly to put the muffin tray NEXT to the batter.

So it didn’t turn out beautifully but it did taste great! I was abit sceptical about chocolate and cheese. “Choc and cheese” sounds so much like “Chalk and Cheese” ;p

Anyway, the picture below is a little yellow-yikes! [EDIT-and the above picture looks too dark. Sorry guys…i did try brightening it up but didn’t work too well. Next time next time!] blame it on yellow lighting in the house. Don’t think it will happen again- using another camera next time!

WILLIAM S-SONOMA
Black Bottom Cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the filling
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room
temperature
2 1/4 cups cold water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

METHOD

Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180 degrees C.
Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Make the filling
1) In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the egg, sugar and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
2) Prop up a pastry bag in a sturdy glass or mug with the bags wide opening at the top. Fold the top of the pastry bag down over the glass. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the filling mixture into the pastry bag. Set the filled pastry bag aside.
3) In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the water, oil, vanilla and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
4) Make the batter: In a large bowl, using a whisk, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar and salt until evenly blended. Slowly pour the water mixture into the flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth.
5) Pour in the batter. The cupcake batter will be quite runny. Fill each lined muffin cup three-fourths full. Dont fill them any fuller than that or there wont be anywhere for the filling to go when the batter rises!
6) Pick up the pastry bag. Plugging the tip with one hand, twist the top of the bag to close it. Using one hand to guide the tip and the other to squeeze the top of the bag, insert the tip into the center of one of the cupcakes. Gently squeeze a small amount of the cream cheese filling into the batter. You will see the chocolate batter rise as the filling fills the middle.
7) Keeping in mind that you need to fill 24 cupcakes, squeeze a small amount into each one.
8) Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with the chocolate chips.
9) Put the muffin pans in the oven and bake until a thin skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean for about 26 to 28 minutes.

10) Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then lift out the cupcakes and put them directly on the racks. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Sweet Treats, by Carolyn Beth Weil (Simon & Schuster,
2006).

My battle


I hesitated posting this but felt inspired to do so this morning. Perhaps it has been my nightmare for so long that resisted me from racking it up but I think it’s about time.

I fought with obesity for many years. As a little girl of 7, i remembered feeling frumpy compared to my lean peers. My weight shot up and before I knew it, i was in the TAF club-“Trim and Fit” OR if you read it backwards “FAT CLUB” during my teenage years. I was the girl who couldn’t do lifts or push ups. I could run my 2.4 KMs and sit ups but failed everything else. It was my fault, no one shoved food in my mouth. It happened and I wasn’t proud of it. (although secretly i really couldn’t resist granny’s cooking… )

People teased and I used a braved front. It allowed me to explore other avenues. I acted, sang, spoke, accepted leadership positions. I appeared ‘fierce’ and refused to let teasing continue. Of course it has an impact on my self-esteem (afterall, I had so many crushes on guys and no one liked me.. *sobsob* so sad right? ;p) LOL.

That taught me a lesson however (i mean the weight thing not guys!). It reminded me that one should look deeper into a person. The person should be looked at on a whole. It shaped my choice of career.

It also made me want to be a stronger person. I refused to be the friend that should be pitied. I want people to like me for who I am.

Anyway, BACK to the picture above. I took this with ADRO Australia Biggest Loser. He appeared on a weight lost TV program that helped him to lose weight. His story was inspiring and I had a chance to take a picture with him at a recent health seminar that I attended.

Maybe that is why it inspired me to say this! haha

Anyway, I took up running and gym work during my uni and postgrad years (well..still in postgrad). Since quit gym but maintained the running. No soft drinks or KFC during those time. Still ate chocolate and carbs though! 😛 Took me 4 years but I lost over 30kgs.

I still love food though! Which is another reason why I’m maintaining this place. I believe we can eat what we want and still maintain a healthy life-provided everything in moderation! If I eat more, I try to run more. I have my weak days and strong days. Ultimately I Love God, Love Food, Love Life!

And i still love my grandma’s cooking. LOL

So I achieved one of my dreams as a young child to be at a healthy normal weight. AND being able to shop! goodness me! The first time I walked into a Singapore Store and managed to find something that I can FIT in and it actually looked nice!… I was overjoyed! haha. Well- I’m a girl afterall! LOL

So enjoy food and life everyone! Celebrate! Have fun! =)

*PS-I’m not being sponsored by anyone to write this post.

Calamari Fettuccine


Again, this is a dish inspired by what I saw and read in other blogs. It was one of those moments where a lightbulb started blinking in my head. The thought of “Ah ah! I can make this on pasta day!”

So here were go. Me armed with red wine, tomato paste, chopped roma tomatoes and calamari pieces attacking the stove. It was an adventure that I enjoyed. Especially topped with a generous serving of Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked pepper. I wish I have some freshly chopped chili and basil at hand as it will definitely add a certain kick. It is not perfect and there are many versions to this. This is what I call a “warm and inviting dish”. You can almost feel it beckoning to you…calling you….and saying “eatttt meeeeeeee”. Best of all, you can wear a grin on your face and feel satisfied-in a guilt free manner!

Calamari Fettuccine (4 servings)
250grams of Fettuccine
1 cup of button mushrooms
chopped red onion
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
4-5 roma tomatoes chopped
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
3/4 cup of Shiraz Cabernet.
1/2 cup of stock
Fresh calamari (i used about 100-200grams)
seasoning
Parmesan cheese-sliced

Method
1) Boil water. Salt it and cook fettuccine till al dente. Drain and keep warm.
1) Slice Calamari into desired cuts.
2) Saute onions and garlic. Add mushrooms.
3) Add stock and red wine. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well. Simmer for 10-15 mins till the liquid appears glossy and rich. Add seasoning.
4) Quickly add calamari. Once the calamari is cooked, add fettuccine.
5) Let it simmer for a while.
6) Dish it up. Serve with Parmesan cheese and a good dash of cracked black pepper.

Rum Tiramisu


Decisions decisions. I’m staring at the pile of pictures in the folder and I’m at a lost! Yup! Trigger happy recently. ;p Ever since I caught the fever of being an official foodie, I have been inspired by some fabulous foodie bloggers (look at my foodie blogroll on the left).

I got this idea from Evan. Previously, I flipped through Donna Hay 2 and I wanted to make the tiramisu “one day”. However, I was only inspired to do so, when I saw Evan’s entry.

I didn’t have the all the required liquor (e.g. kahlua) with me AND my Baileys expired!! ARGH. I finally decided on rum instead.

On hindsight, I could have placed slices of strawberries in between and it would make a good fruity tiramisu. This is a short-cut version BUT tastes wonderful-especially when you are short of time. I made this in less than 15 minutes!


Rum Tiramisu
(1 serving)

1 table spoon of strong instant coffee granules
2-3 tablespoons of hot water.
1 generous tablespoon of rum
2 sponge fingers, halved lengthwise
cocoa powder for dusting

Filling

1/2 cup of mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup of cream (I used Carnations “light and easy” milk as a substitute)
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted

Method :

1. Filling: Place the mascarpone cheese, cream and icing sugar together and whisk until light & creamy.

2. Dissolve coffee gradules with hot water. Mix rum or your choice of liquer in a bowl. Stir. Quickly dip both sides of the sponge finger halves in the coffee mixture. Place the 2 halves in the glass.

3. Top with half the filling. Dip the remaining sponge fingers and place on top of the cream layer. Spoon over remaining filling and dust heavily with cocoa powder before serving. Refrigerate until required.

Hummingbird Cupcakes


Looking back at my posts, I realised it has been some time since I last posted what I have baked. Yes, I’m still baking every weekend-or at least I try to. I made these hummingbird cupcakes recently. These cupcakes contained banana and crushed pineapple pieces which I think it is a fantastic combination. Very tropical and moist. Although the recipe did not come with frosting notes, I deliberately used cream cheese as I believe that the combination will be tasteful.

So anyway, give it a go. It’s pretty healthy as well given the use of olive oil. I made 12 cupcakes and 14 tiny patty cakes from this recipe.

Hummingbird Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil/olive oil
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1 8oz can crushed pineapple, with liquid
2 mashed bananas
1 cup coursely chopped pecans

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt with a whisk in a good sized bowl.
2. Beat eggs.
3. Add oil and vanilla to beaten eggs and mix until somewhat combined.
4. Add egg/oil/vanilla mixture to flour/sugar/baking soda/cinnamon/salt mixture.
5. Mix together pineapple, bananas, pecans until combined.
6. Add to the rest of ingredients and stir to combine.

Toscanini’s

Before the York trip, we headed to Toscanini for some tucker. We were in the mood for simple non-fuss food. Once again, we did a search on Entertainment book and found Toscanini’s. It’s a small place near Canning Hwy.

On arrival, we were greeted by a counter full of delicious salads, rolls and wraps. Very Mediterranean. I love the open feel of this little cafe. There were stacks of mags and newspapers for your leisure reading as well.

I felt like a good hearty soup and was pleased to see that they have “Roasted vegetables, chicken and noodle soup”. It was thick and comforting! I loved it so much that I promised myself that I will make my own version of this soup soon (which I did and it will be in a later post).

Mr AR decided on a vegetarian Turkish bread. Oh so yummy. The chunks of veges with feta cheese was a great combi. Simple but delish.

Poor Mr AR was so hungry waiting for me to finish work that he decided we are going to have a salad as well. He isn’t vegetarian but he knows I like my salads! hahaha. Besides, the salad looked really good….we couldn’t resist the temptation of ordering more food. So here we have the rocket spinach feta with honey mustard dressing, roasted veges (again!) and a potato one which i can’t remember what was it… mmm… delicious nevertheless. I was impressed to see roasted slices of eggplant! Usually, cafes have the usual sweet potato/pumpkin combi.

Definitely a place to head back to. It’s great for desserts and coffees too.


Toscanini’s Cafe

Moreau Mews
(902B Canning Highway)
Applecross WA 6153
08 9316 0096

Adult Pear Crumble

It’s a sunny day in Perth! After all the dreadful storms and rainy weather, it’s finally sunny!

Writing this thesis should be a pleasure. It should be a celebration of my hard work over the past few years. Data collection is almost done, people volunteered to participate in my study and I have all my readings with me!

Writing however, has always been a chore to me. Academic writing anyway. It’s quite hilarious that I found housework more appealing than writing. I mean, I’m cooking better meals now. Laundry done. The floor mopped and rooms tidied! It’s almost like I’m transferring the stress to housework. In fact, the more writing I have to do, the cleaner and neater the house needs to be. It’s like transferring my unrelenting standards to something that is tangible.

So in the midst of my struggles, I present to you a good old pear crumble. It’s less sinful than other desserts but certainly hit a nice warm spot in me. I made another version a few weeks later- adding chocolate bits in it as well. I’m keen to experiment and perhaps use berries and strawberries next but pear provides a good bite to it.

Adult Pear Crumble (1 serving)
1 huge pear, cored, chopped and peeled.
1 huge tablespoon of brown sugar (more if required)
1-2 tablespoon of rum (depending on how u are feeling that day…)

Topping
2 tablespoons full of oats
2-3teaspoons of flour
1 tablespoon of spread
crushed walnuts

1)Preheat oven 180-200 degrees C.
2) Cook pear, brown sugar and rum in a saucepan for 15 mins on low heat or till caramelized. Stir frequently or the sugar will burn!
3) Make topping: Rub spread into flour till it resembles breadcrumbs.
4) mix oats and walnuts into flour mixture.
5) Once the pear is done, spoon into ramekin.
6) Spoon topping on it.
7) bake for 20 mins or till the top is golden brown.
8) Cool for 5 mins
9) Add a scoop of mango ice-cream (I used Weiss Mango sorbet).
10) EAT!

York

After a while, you forget how it feels like to have a break. A couple of weekend ago, Mr AR and I packed our bags and head off to York- A historical town with little to do. Even the planning and packing was a terror. “To go or not to go”, I kept asking him. “Perhaps it is more productive to stay and do my work”, I whined.

When that day arrived, I was eager to get going. He picked me off from work mid day, had lunch and we were off! It an hr off Perth which suits us fine.

That’s the house! The GrandhouseIt’s a bed and breakfast. Our hosts, Jan and Nigel are really nice people. They house has a lovely feel to it. It has 6 rooms-each room has an en suite.

After arriving, we decided to take a good long stroll to York’s town. After walking for 10 mins, we arrived at the Swing bridge which oversees the Avon Ascent River.

Isn’t the view beautiful? It felt good admiring God’s creation.

That’s town. A street. We completed our exploration of the town in 10 minutes! ;p

Boo liao.. but this sign looks interesting! :p

I couldn’t resist taking this sign! Murdoch Uni is on South Street ;p but I’m sure it not the South Street in York!

Then we felt like coffee, so we went to a coffee caravan! The drinks isn’t fantastic though.

Later that evening, we went to Imperial Hotel for dinner. We heard that the Imperial Hotel went through major renovations recently so it was supposed to be worthwhile heading there for a meal. Unfortunately the we took of their interior are too dark to be posted.

We went straight to the main courses and then a dessert.

Mr Ar’s Beer battered fish and chips. It is ok and the fish is quite fresh but not as good as Nicholson’s Bar.

Pumpkin ravioli with pesto. The ravioli was delicious but it was waaaayyyy too oily for my liking. I had like maybe…. 10 pieces? Mr Ar finished it for me while I happily tucked into his fish and chips! hahahaah

Rhubarb and blackberry crumble. Now, this is lovely. I don’t think anyone can go wrong with a crumble though…

This is their sitting room in The Grandhouse. How cosy it is. The picture is blurry but it’s really a nice place.

Look, I even spotted a recipe that I like! Lol.

The fireplace.

ok..fast forward to day 2.

Now, since it is a bed and breakfast, of course they serve breakfast! Mr Ar wanted bacon, eggs, sausage, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes..

Me- i went for the muesli, yogurt, mango and rhubarb. The homemade jam was good too! I think the left one was orange marmalade and the right one was strawberry.

We opted to have an alfresco breakfast, so we braved the cold and sat outside. The view was lovely.

Following breakfast, we went for a drive. Isn’t that beautiful?

We headed to the town again. Went to the old bakehouse that is converted to a showroom for beautiful jarrah furniture.

And then it was our way home! So it was a short trip… but a lovely one. ahhh….

Chicken Biryani-MUHIBBAH

It’s funny. As a little girl growing up in the multicultural Singapore, I did not appreciate the different kinds of ethic food available as I do now.

This time round, I have decided to participate in MUHIBBAH organized by Babe in the City_KL. The origins of MUHIBBAH lies in many foodies wanting to celebrate Malaysia’s Merdeka or National Day in late August. This year, foodies have to pick a favorite dish of a different ethic background and explain how and why this dish was introduced to us.

Now, you may wonder who would a Singaporean girl staying in Perth want to participate in this? *OH NO, maybe the Singaporean girl is turning her back and want to be Malaysian?*

Truth is, my boyfriend is Malaysian AND my DAD was a Malaysian too! Yes, I have Malaysian blood in me.. kekeke.. but I’m also proud to be a Singaporean!!!

Yup-all the above long winded excuses for participating in this fun-filled event!

Nevertheless, on the eve of Singapore’s National Day, I think it is appropriate to say that this post is to celebrate both Singapore and Malaysia’s birthdays and food culture. =)

After delibrating for a couple of weeks, I have decided on….. Chicken Biryani!

Why this particular dish you ask?

I’m a Singaporean Chinese dating a Malaysian guy of mixed heritage. Not many know but Mr AR has both Chinese and Indian blood in him. Although I have heard of this mouth-watering dish in Singapore, I have NOT tasted it before I came to Perth! I know, it’s horrible. I’m not proud of it but I did not use to taste Indian food (with the exception of Mee Goreng and Prata/Roti Canai of course) or any other kinds of different ethic food much at all.

So without sounding too mushy, yup… it was Mr AR who introduced me to the wonders of Indian food. A girl has got to do what a girl got to do to know the culture and heritage that her guy is from right? ;p Much as I like Tandoori chicken, Chicken Biryani, with it’s unique blend of spices and flavors won me over big time. I love the way the spices blend together to create this mouth-watering feel and richness in flavor.

The origin of Chicken Biryani came from Persia to India. A quick search on Wikipedia and I found that there are actually MANY versions of Biryani. I didn’t know that Biryani was mentioned as far back as 2AD where it was used to feed warriors of ancient times. It’s also very popular in celebrations such as weddings.

Biryani is a rich rice pilau layered with meat and steam gently so that the flavors blend together.

I don’t think I give much justice to this dish by my mediocre home-cooking and lack of certain herbs/spices. It was however, fun to plan and make this dish. I couldn’t wait to finish my writing draft at uni to return home to make this! LOL I also made dhall, an all time favorite of Mr Ar’s family in Malaysia.

Without further ado,

I bring you the Malaysian version of Chicken Bryani adapted from Mr Ar’s mum’s cookbook “Traditional Malaysian cuisine”.

Ingredients

A
2.5 cm piece stick cinnamon
4-5 cardamoms
1 nutmeg (Which I obmitted because I couldnt find it in time!)

GROUND A in paste

B
Chop and mix 1 onion, 3 pieces of ginger and 3 huge tablespoons of garlic.

C
1/4 cup of Cashews-ground
1/2 tsp of chilli powder
1/2 tsp tumeric

GROUND and mix with approximately 1/2 cup of water to form a paste.

1 Chicken breast marinated with garam masala, salt and pepper
pandan leaves (which I obmitted as there isn’t any fresh ones around in Perth)
2 Cups of Basmatic rice-par boiled
2 tomatoes chopped.
Ghee/margarine/butter
1-2 cups of stock

Method
1) In a large pan with tight fitting lid, melt margarine and fry onions lightly.
2) Add set A and fry lightly for a few minutes till fragrant.
3) Add Set B. Fry till well browned.
4) Fry Chicken till cooked and lower the heat.
5) Add Set C and tomatoes. Add the par-boiled rice and stock.
6) Stir well and cover pan with lid.
7) Cook for 5-10 minutes till rice is well-done.
8) Serve hot with dhall.

Dhall

Ingredients
1 cup of Dhall-soaked for 6-8 hours
ghee/margarine/butter
1 large onion chopped
2-3 teaspoons of tumeric
3-4 teaspoons of chilli powder
4-5 teaspoons of cumin
2 large tomatoes
5 pieces of dried chilli
1 cup of vege stock
cabbage/eggplant/corn/cauliflower- veges that u fancy.

Method
1) Melt spread. Fry dried chilli with all spices till dry and fragrant. Add chopped onions.
2) Add dhall and stock. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and all other veges.
3)Serve hot with Chicken Biryani!!

I can’t wait to see what other ppl have in store. It’s actually quite exciting! If you want to participate, there is still time!! Check the link out and see other delicious posts here-

Speedy Pumpkin Soup


Pumpkin soup is another classic. You can’t really fail with this. It’s low-in fat, delicious, creamy and it fills you up. The first time i tasted the soup was college. It was late and that was the only item they have left in the cafeteria. I was skeptical at first. I mean, how good can pumpkin taste right?

At first taste, I was…. surprised. Creamy and smooth… mmmm.. OK, so that version probably contained lots of cream in it but that didn’t stop me from going back again and again and again.

So I learned the hard way…. especially after gaining 10kgs after first year of college!!!

A good pumpkin soup need not have cream in it. =)

Speedy Pumpkin Soup

1 kg butternut pumpkin- chopped in bitesize pieces
2 cups of vege stock
herbs of your fancy.
salt n cracked pepper

toasted almonds.

1) Microwave pumpkin pieces on high for 10 minutes.
2) Boil stock. Add pumpkin and herbs. Remove from heat and cool.
3) Use hand blender- whiz it through till smooth.
4) return to heat. Stir gently till heated through.
5) Ladle and sprinkle toasted almonds.
6) Serve with cheesy bread! =)

PS- roasting the pumpkin will bring out a sweeter flavour. Previously, I roasted red onions, pumpkin and red capsicum to create a rich soup.