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Thai Fish Cakes

Lone and I have been university mates for a looong time. Both of us had the same supervisor at Uni, shared our frustrations about our thesis work, share the same office/lab space-had cries over coffee about our lost data, laughed about our life and partners and shared similar taste in food (We love our carrot cake!). Lone even attended our wedding in Perth and Singapore.

Upon completion of her PhD, Lone decided to head back to Denmark to pursue further opportunities and to be closer to her partner. So in my sadness, I asked if she could come by for a Sunday lunch… a farewell lunch.

I chose to make Thai fish cakes because I recall our love for fish, healthy and quick food at uni. Nothing as hard as blending some snapper fillets with chives, red curry paste, corn flour and egg together.

Thai Fish Cakes
300-400 grams fish fillets
15 prawns cutlets
2 tablespoon of Thai red curry paste
1 bunch of chives chopped
1 egg
2-3 tablespoon of cornflour

Whiz everything together. Fridge it overnight. Shape in patties and pan fry. Serve with salad.

Having said all this, Lone- I miss you and I know we will meet very soon in cold wintery Denmark! =)


What I have been busy with…

Pardon my absence recently! I have soooo much to update. What a fabulous week.

First up…

I have graduated!!!!! Do you like my fancy cape and pretty bonnet?

Me and my beautiful parents!

And my grandmother!

It’s the feeling of one milestone to another. It has always been my wish to graduate before getting married and at the last minute, I received notification that I have graduated. Just seeing my proud parents and grandmother at the ceremony brought a tear to my eye. Standing up on the stage, I cannot help but feel a sense of accomplishment. The promise that I made to God, my family and myself… The visualisation that I have done in 4 years.. and there am I standing up there. Surreal.

And of course, we have been busy with our wedding preparations. Can you believe it?
We have

46 days more to go.

I have become a walking, talking, sleeping, working wedding planner now. After slacking for the last 6 months, we are on full speed! Meeting up with co-coordinators, checking photos, buying furniture, new bed sheets, flowers, menus, sitting plan, invites, ceremony programs, gifts…the list seems endless.

But I’m really excited.

a tad stressed but excited.

7 Days to Christmas- Seafood Mee Sua

One week to Christmas-what kind of Christmas will you be having?

Well, last Christmas I had my two fantastic friends over to celebrate the occasion with us. On top of that, they also attended our engagement party. These friends knew that I wasn’t able to head back to my family as I was desperately trying to finish writing up my thesis then.

Nearly one year has passed, and……. I finally received the reports from the University that I passed!!!! =)

Oh what a bittersweet feeling. All these while, I have not relaxed with the uncertainty of not knowing what exactly will happen when the reports come back. But with God’s blessing- the examiners gave me excellent feedback, much better than I ever expected.

It has been a huge 2008- While it felt like a short year, certainly when I looked back, lots of things and events have happened. In a way, I felt that this year has been productive.

So in true celebration fashion, I present to you a Mee Sua dish! Ok, so Mee Sua is often a dish cooked on Birthdays or Chinese New Year… but this is a type of celebration right? =)

Seafood Mee Sua (serves 4-5)
1/2 packet of Mee Sua
2-3 cups of stock
seafood mixture of your choice (I used 100 grams squid, 50 grams baby scallops and prawns)
Spinach leaves-2-3 cups
1 chilli chopped
a tablespoon of minced garlic

1/2 cup of Hua Tiao Jiu
1 tablespoon of soya
1 tsp of maggi seasoning

1) Quickly blanched Mee Sua and set aside.

2) In a wok, heat up a tablespoon of oil till very hot. Quickly fry garlic till golden brown and add seafood. When it is cooked, add the stock and simmer. Add all vegetables. Add seasoning and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

3) Last 5 minutes of cooking, add Mee Sua in for it to absorb the flavours! Serve with another dash of pepper.

I hope I’m not too late for Pasta Presto hosted by Foodie Tots and founded by Ruth from Once Upon a Feast! Come join in the fun!

Peanut Butter Ham Cheese French Toast

I had my first ever blood test yesterday. I don’t know about you but I hate needles. Needless to say, I was a teany winy bit nervous about the blood test.

Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as what I thought it would be. In that case, fear was definitely bigger than the pain. Well, action is the best cure of fear and I’m glad I experienced it. Having a friendly nurse certainly help though. As she checked my veins, she said that I should have drank more water prior to the session but she managed to find a “nice, juicy vein”-a little joke that certainly broke the tension. All I felt was a tiny prick and after what seems like ages, she said it was done. I turned around and saw FOUR vials of blood! Woah! I’m glad I didn’t see her drawing it.

On another note, I got impatient and rang up my supervisor to ask for the status of my thesis examination. It has been 4 months since I submitted it. Apparently, one examiner pulled out hence my thesis has traveled from London to Norwich to the next appointed examiner.

Isn’t it ironic that my thesis has clocked more miles than I have?

The good news is that the other examiner did finish her report and I passed!!

So I’m praying hard that the new examiner will be a nice, patient, sweet person who will pass me as well.

All these dramas make me crave for something comforting. Sinfully comforting. And it has to be different. So one lazy Sunday afternoon, I had a crazy idea of sandwiching ham and cheese between peanut butter slattered bread soaked in beaten eggs.

I felt slightly guilty and paired it with a simple baby spinach salad with a quick drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

And surprisingly, it was pretty yummy!

Peanut Butter Ham Cheese French Toast (Serves 2)
4 slices of thick white bread
3 eggs
1 tsp sugar

4 slices of ham
3 slices of sliced smoked chedder cheese
peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon of reduced fat spread

1) Slatter bread with peanut butter on both sides. Lay ham and cheese. Top it off with another piece of bread.

2) Lightly beat eggs with sugar. Soak bread in the egg mixture for around 1-2 minutes on each side.

3) Heat pan and melt butter. Fry sandwiches both side till golden brown. Serve with salad.

Seafood Aglio Olio

My first recipe post since mid May. Has it been THAT long? The holiday dust has finally settled and I’m slowly getting back on routine again.

Many people asked how do I feel now that I have finally submitted. Having worked on this baby for 2.5 years and being in university for 7.5 years, the emotions are mixed. I can’t say I’m happy about the mistakes I have spotted after submission but I am relieved that I have managed to stuck it through . Also, it’s not quite done yet. In addition to changes (when examiners’ reports come in + mistakes spotted), supervisor and I realized that we are able to write up a few papers for publication and a book chapter. That’s pretty cool huh? To come out of it and realize it is NOT THAT useless after all.

In short, I’m still working on it.

Doesn’t it seem endless?

I’m mean seriously. It does seem endless doesn’t it? LOL

On the other side of the coin, I haven’t stopped my work in the kitchen since I got back as well. Back to my beloved recipe books!! Ahh….

After a long hard pause, I have chosen this recipe to post. Why? Well, because it’s one of my personal favorite. It’s a one pot dish -meaning little to wash up and soooo easy.

Seafood and olive oil goes so well together. I love the way they dance together with garlic in a hot pan. Little seasoning is needed because of the subtle tastes that go together. I used prawns and baby squid here but anything goes with this I’m sure.

Seafood Aglio Olio (Serves 4)
250 grams of Fettuccine
1/4 cup of good olive oil
200 grams of squid, cleaned and sliced.
150 grams of prawns
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
1 small bunch of broccoli, chopped
sea salt
cracked pepper

1) Cook fettuccine in boiling salted water. Drain.

2) Sizzle garlic in olive oil. Quick toss prawns and squid in the pan till nearly cooked. Add broccoli.

3) Add fettuccine to pan. Toss together. Season with sea salt.

4) Dish up. Serve with cracked black pepper.

And I’m back on the Presto Pasta Wagon!!

Woohoo! Thank you Scientist in the Kitchen for hosting!

Thesis Submission

My highs and lows of being a postgraduate student is often documented here. Tears, frustration, joy, ambivalence emotions that ran through me as I struggled to complete this challenging task. So this time round, I thought I could share with you my thesis submission experience.

I’m not very academic but an opportunity allowed me to pursue a dream that I had since I was a little girl (or was implanted in me when I was kid by my dad!). I would have never completed this without the support of so many people. Thank you. *muacks*

My hard work of 3.5 years.

I have to submit one copy loose in a box file.

My baby and me.
My slightly tidied version. More stacks of papers around that also. You can see the carpet there..there was no way I could even walk without stepping on any papers during the “peak period”.University’s Car park.
Up the slope! (with 4 thesis = 10kgs?!, I used a trolley).
The doors that I have been walking through for the past 7.5 years.

The chair that I sat in for the past 7.5 years each time I visit my supervisor. He was my lecturer then but turned into my supervisor. For the past 3.5 years, we discussed and argued. He corrected me and provided me with encouraging and criticizing words. We came up with new discoveries in his office. I cried in that chair when I realized I had to take an extension + all those dramas that happened (Although it was really a minor issue looking at the bigger scheme of things).

Yesterday though, his anxious personality showed through. I stayed in his office for 1 hr talking about publishing + trying to re assure him that I’m not going to leave yet. And YES, i do know that most thesis require minor/major changes from examiners so I still have to revisit this. And YES, I know he wants me to write up papers (but 6!??!!) and YES i know he wants to be the first author for some papers. Then I told him “Peter, u know I’m over this right?” which he then say “Yes” and finally allowed me to leave with the relevant documents!

I walked through those doors to submit.

My clean out desk at uni. Yes, I know I need a haircut and some sleep. Then my friend said that looked unrealistic and got me to model in front of another desk.
That’s my friend’s desk.
My celebratory coffee in my favourite cafe at uni – “Club Murdoch”.

Citrus Pistachio Shortbread

Buttery shortbread.. yum yum treats.

Interrupted by…

Day 1
*phone rings
Me: hello?
Supervisor: Hey Daphne, I’m nearly done with your draft. Come and pick it up tomorrow morning at 9am. By the way, I want you to start working on some things (list 5 major changes).

25 minutes later
Me: Ok, thanks!

Day 2
Me: Here are the changes I have made! What do you think??
Supervisor: Hmm.. I think it is better to do it another way….

That is the typical sort of conversation I have with my supervisor. He is brilliant with the capital B..and always overflowing with ideas that I have to do. The changes drives me nuts but I know that it will be a good piece of work at the end.

I came back from supervision this morning with a thick pile of papers. Yup. More changes to be made but I will submit it next week. So in less than 7 days time, my uni days are over. Technically that is. Holiday here I come.

Oh, wait.. where was I? Yes. Buttery treats.

Citrus Pistachio Shortbread-melt in your mouth treats! I like shortbread but seldom have them. I wouldn’t say this recipe is the best shortbread recipe ever but I do like the no fuss rounded teaspoon approach + the pistachio on the top. Certainly flavoursome with the citrus peel. Love the bite size too!

Citrus Pistachio Shortbread
1/2 cup shelled pistachios toasted
250 grams butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of rice flour
2 tablespoons of corn flour
3/4 cups of almond meal
2-3 tablespoons of citrus mixed peel
1/3 cup icing sugar (extra)

Preheat oven 180C. Line 2 baking trays.

Chop 1/2 cup of pistachios and reserve the remaining nuts.

Beat butter and icing sugar till combined. Fold in flours, almond meal and chopped nuts.

Shaped tablespoons of mixture into tiny balls. Press whole pistachio on each ball. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Cool on racks. Dust cookies with extra icing sugar.

Apple Cinnamon Walnuts Muffins

What other postgraduate students didn’t tell you is that, u get to spend lots and lots of time on the computer doing formatting just before finalizing the draft. Boohoo. And that the Word software just HAVE to crash like 10 times in the day (not exaggerating) while you are doing that. I don’t swear but if I do, I sure I will use up every swear word it can be used. (Although I confess to banging my head on the table due to frustration after the 9th time the document crashed).

For one weekend in my 3.5 years as a postgraduate, I don’t have to think about THE thesis. The final draft is in the inbox of my supervisor. In pdf format. I’m praying hard that only minor changes are needed..because that will mean that my journey as an university student will finally come to a close.

“Every beginning is a consquence. Every beginning ends something.” – Paul Valery

How true that quote is.

And every beginning is exciting as well.

This blog started as a venting outlet as a Honours student who was going through a bad break up. Fast forward nearly 4years later, everything changed. The blog became an outlet where I can express creativity in the kitchen. On top of that, I’m finishing uni, met heaps of lovely people, fell in love with a guy who actually still loves me after this thesis journey (but he made me promise that I won’t do another one) and will also begin working in the area that I have always dreamt of being in.

But away from the life story and back to the topic of the day. It was our duty to bring supper for our bible study group… and I took the chance to make muffins! This must be the fastest muffins to whip up. I made this while cooking dinner. Took me less than 10 minutes to gather up ingredients and then into the oven it went.

I didn’t use can apple but cut fresh ones instead. I like the crunch that fresh apple give in muffins. Feel free to use the canned version if it is more convenient or if you are running out of time… but fresh is still better. =)

I love warm fresh muffins. It makes me feel warm and cozy on a cold day.

Apple Cinnamon Walnut Muffins (Makes 12)

2 apples chopped in small pieces* (or 400grams of can pie apple)
2 1/2 cups of self-raising flour
2-3 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of soft brown sugar
1 1/3 cup of mlik
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150grams of melted butter
1.2 cup of walnuts chopped

*I used 1 gala and 1 fuji apple-couldn’t decide so I used both!

Preheat oven to 180C. Line muffin tray. Shift flour and cinnamon in bowl. Add sugar. Make well in the middle.

Whisk milk, eggs n vanilla in a jug. Pour into the well and fold slowly. Add melted butter.

Continue folding till mixture is combined. Do not overmix, mixture should be lumpy. Spoon into prepare tins. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm!

These treats are making its way to Michelle’s Greedy Gourmet:

Apple, mango, nectarine, sultana and chocolate pie

When you least want it, drama follows. What is the worst thing that could happen to a postgraduate student expecting to finish her 200-300 pages thesis anytime?

The computer died.
That was when I realized how valuable and precious the word “back up” means. Thank to the constant reminders from AR who even took the step of stashing a DVD of my write up in his office locker. “Just in case the house burned down,” he said. I laughed it off then but now I’m so thankful that I have copies of my work everywhere.

As a tentative measure, I resorted to working on my laptop again. The only problem is that I have about 5-6 programs running at the same time and it is a 5 years old laptop… yup. U guessed it. It lagged big time. In fact, it crashed twice last night, and I had to remind myself to “stay calm” (especially since I was editing 316 references!).

Then the man who I pledged myself to be married to (In exactly 1 year 1 day’s time) came to my rescue (HA! sounds so heroic! I can’t believe I just wrote that statement!). He stayed up all night to fix the computer up. He grabbed a few moments of sleep as the computer loads. So, by the time it was 7:30am, the desktop was up and running again.

Thank you AR. =)


In light of the above event, I decided to follow the theme and blog about a pie that I made around 2 weeks ago. I’m not even sure how I’m going to write the recipe up! As a disclaimer, this is probably one recipe that you should not try from this blog =) .

I had 3 pieces of puff pastry left and thought a pie might be a good idea to use it all up. Just as I was stewing the apple pieces, it occurred to me that 3 apples will not be sufficient to filled up the pie dish! Ok, correction, it wasn’t a pie dish, it was quiche dish.

So anyway, after blind baking the pastry, it became really obvious that if I use that filling, the pie might become a “stingy pie”. You know, the “full of pastry but barely there filling” pie? So guess what I did?

I went to the fridge and digged out every fruit I have in there. So that means my pie consisted of

1 mango
1 nectarine

n the 3 apples that I was stewing.

Ok. everything chopped and into the saucepan with the apples. Oh dear, it still looked sparse.

Open pantry cupboards.

Light bulb moment– chocolate! Chocolate makes everything taste good.

oh! And some sultanas. Ok, in the saucepan it went as well.

So here you go. This is my “Apple, mango, nectarine, sultana and chocolate pie

3 pieces of puff pastry
3 apples
1 mango
1 nectarine
handful of sultanas
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 Cinnamon stick
2 tsp of mixed spice
1/4 cup of chocolate chips

Line a dish with puff pastry. Patch pastry up if it didn’t fit the dish. Blind bake for around 15 minutes.

Mean while, stew skinned and chopped apples, sultanas, nectarine and mango with brown sugar, cinnamon stick and mixed spice for around 15 minutes. Cook till soft. Line pastry with stewed fruit and sprinkle chocolate chips to fill the gaps if the filling isn’t sufficient. Cover it with another layer of pastry, making 4 slits at the top. Bake for 25 minutes till puff and golden.

Serve with ice-cream. makes everything looks good ya?

Plum and Grape Gratin

It has been an interesting long weekend. First up we headed to the new Ikea and got lost in the midst of the crowd. After 3 months, we finally bought a frame for the engagement party guest board. I spent Monday morning tidying up the study room and now I feel ready to continue writing the next few chapters of the it feels like it is never ending but i know it eventually will thesis.

I’m already fantasizing what I will do on the day I hand it up. The walking up to the graduate center, signing a thick green book off, quick thank you to supervisor and then driving home to pack ALL my papers away (resisting the temptation to burn them all!). The celebratory dinner and the flight back to Singapore for a long awaited holiday. Just TWO MORE MONTHS.

Another dessert post. I suppose I’m slowly getting the hang of making different sorts of desserts. This recipe was adapted from Donna Hay Classics 2 and was supposed to be a nectarine and blueberry gratin. Well, I had plums and grapes on hand so I substituted the fruits with that. =)

It was my first attempt of a gratin and I’m pleased with the result. The lightness of the gratin paired well with the stone fruit and grapes. Grapes were included in at the spur of the moment and I was glad I did it. My only regret was that I should have added 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar more to balance off the tartness of the plums.

Plum and Grape Gratin (serves 2)
3 plums stoned and sliced
1/2 cup of seedless red grapes
1 tablespoon of sugar
10 grams of butter

gratin topping
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup of caster sugar
2 egg whites

Pre heat oven to 180C. Divide plums and grapes into 2 ramekins. Sprinkle butter and sugar on them.

Gratin topping- Whisk egg whites till soft peaks form. Mix flour, almond meal and sugar in a seperate bowl. Fold egg white through the dry mixture gently. Spoon gratin topping over the fruit and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Serve with a dollop of ice-cream!