Friday, April 10, 2015

Goodbye Blogger?

Some of you may be aware that I'm in year 12 this year (mum if you're reading this lol), so I won't have as much time to cook, photograph and write this year. I have to work my butt off to get into the course I want to for uni! Anyway, after year 12, I am planning on expanding my blog a little more sophisticated and more routinely because I love combining my passion for food, writing and photography..... And quite frankly, some of my blog posts here are so embarrassing. What was 15 year old me thinking?

I am also changing blog domains because I feel that Wordpress is slightly more flexible... That being said, I will leave this website as I have so many recipes left! And I remember one thing my dear Ku Zhang said to me once about deleting old blogs.. "Don't delete them, keep them for memory sake!"

It'll be more like intermittent postings on the blog, but I can't wait to graduate from high school. Just a few months and I'll be baking and travelling (hopefully) like a mad woman.

Hop onto Voyages and eats

Friday, January 16, 2015

White chocolate & berry blondies

This was my first time making blondies and there are definitely no regrets..
At first bite, this kept me going like 'Woah this is like a cookie/brownie and the white chocolate mmmhmm'. Quite similar to that scene in Ratatouille when Remy combines cheese and strawberries together and his mind explodes with fireworks (my childish obsession with Disney is evident), perhaps he's somewhat hallucinating.
They reminiscently taste like butterscotch..And the white chocolate chunks make it taste more caramel-ly and the berries add a sourness and slight sweetness. The texture in the middle is gooey, and the outside crust is nice and crisp.

I used Divine's white chocolate.. I love their chocolate range! Tasty and fair trade.
Would I add this to my repertoire? Absolutely.

Berry & white chocolate blondies 
Ingredients
.112 g butter, melted
.220 g light brown sugar
.1 large egg
.1 tsp vanilla extract
.125 g plain flour
.1 tsp baking powder
.100 g white chocolate chips/chunks
.150 g mixed berries (I used frozen blueberries & raspberries, no need to thaw)
.Icing sugar, to serve

Method:
1. Line a 20 x 30 cm brownie pan (I used an 8 inch by 8 inch pan) with non-stick baking paper (parchment paper). Mix melted butter with brown sugar and beat until smooth.
2.Beat in egg and then vanilla.
3.Stir in flour & baking powder. Mix in white chocolate chips/chunks and add the berries, stir very gently.
4.Pour into prepare pan. Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 30-40 minutes, or until set in the middle. Cool to room temperature before cutting them.

Adapted from Spicy ice cream

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A day at the patisserie

We had our normal lessons at Creipac, the language centre.We did a really fun activity to practice our writing. We formed teams in class and had a little competition against with each other.. Our teacher, Ghislaine showed us a video of Mr.Bean, then afterwards we had to write complex phrases in order of the events that happen. C'etait tres amusant!


 For lunch, we went to the boulangerie and patisserie because who can miss out on French bread and pastries? In other words, I nearly died in heaven.



The showcase of the pastries were just so pretty, I had to contemplate carefully of what savoury and sweet I was going to take away.. Rebecca and I decided on the same thing: quiche lorraine and mille-feuille. Although the funny thing was, we forgot to say 'mille-feuille aux frais', mille-feuille with strawberries that we both wanted, but just ordered 'mille-feuille', so we received the original, plain one. It was still good, but we stole some off Eric and agreed with strawberries, c'est mieux (it's better) !

We ate in a nice little park. The meal was quite good, however all of us were really way too full with a savoury and dessert in our hands.. Those cakes were extraordinarily huge for one person to eat.

Afterwards we went to the cultural centre, Tjibaou to learn about the Kanak culture. I thought it was quite significant that they have preserved a lot of that culture, and especially by building this to really showcase and tell the stories of the Indigenous people. Unfortunately I don't have much photos because we weren't allowed to take pictures, but it is great place to learn about the culture.



Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 reflections

I meant to post this on the 31st, but I was at a friend's! We celebrated by watching New year's eve, the movie which is super cheesy but cute, baking brownies, staying out on the balcony and finally waking up and making crepes for breakfast... Anyway, this is a bit of a wordy post but 2014 was somewhat a great, yet challenging year.

Exam & test cramming is never a good idea nor fun.
VCE has been hectic, which many people including me did not really anticipate. It goes from super basic math, super basic chemistry to all of the sudden a much higher, demanding level. So, I think that being said, I didn't really know how to handle my time properly this year. So 2015 is my last year of high school (year 12), and my game plan is ORGANISATION.

And I mean, working till 2 AM on gene technology for biology is actually the worst idea ever. Nor is neglecting year 11 chemistry for year 12 biology, because in the end, IT'S OVER WHELMING. But I am glad my hard work was well worth it for year 12 biology this year, content with my study score :)

New Caledonia was a trip of a life time and my desire to learn languages.
Fail jump shot picture....
For me, French isn't really a chore. Sometimes when I walk to school or walk back, I'll listen to the French radio. I love watching French movies, reading and my French tutor is awesome. Also, the New Caledonia trip definitely helped my French and it was such a good trip. I have made friendships (and strengthened) some with people. Frankly, I didn't really expect us 14 students to get so close during the trip...  I hope to continue French for the rest of my life (at least in uni) and hoping to pick up Chinese again, since I realise the importance of being bi/trilingual! Plus it puts me to shame being a Malaysian Chinese...

Malaysia & Singapore
Throwback to the greatest (and first) kouign amman of ma vie. 

Singapore & Penang was such a wonderful trip during January (will I ever cease saying that?). Not only just solely for food and sight seeing, but the best part is spending time with your relatives. I have very little relatives here in Australia, so seeing them is always a joy.

It was also nice catching up with my friends in KL the way I've done each summer spent in KL for so long. Always good times.

So to 2015: My bittersweet last year of high school. Dreading it, yet excited for it to be all over!

Great apple crumble/crisp

New year's resolutions... Well, over the years, I realise how futile they are. The no.1 resolution that always goes down the wrong pathway: "Lose weight".. Sorry, not sorry but I'm eating apple crumble.. But in all seriousness I hope that I can eat slightly more healthier and refrain from eating so much desserts this year. And be a bit more active. But I guess it'll come and go. My number 1 resolution is to STAY ORGANISED because I have a big school year ahead! My last ever year of high school. Nervous, but can't wait to get out.

Anyway, it's funny how we have different names for food. For example, we say 'tomato sauce' in Australia, in the states, it's 'ketchup'. We usually say 'muesli', not 'granola'. Having lived in Australia for more than half my life, I have come to discover 'apple crumble'. Oh the humble apple crumble... Or known as 'apple crisp'?
To be quite frank, I prefer apple crumble to apple pie. I love all the oats and crumbly buttery bits on top of steaming hot apples and pouring custard or eating it with vanilla ice cream.

Ambitious kitchen is one of my go-to blogs, her recipes are easy and delicious! So how could I go past a post titled 'The best apple crisp you'll ever have with brown butter'?
It certainly was a great recipe, and I ended up going back for many, many, many more slices. With copious amounts of vanilla ice cream.

I have to excuse myself for the horrid pictures though.. I wasn't quite sure how to photograph apple crumble lol!!!
Apple crisp 
Ingredients
For the topping
-1 cup all purpose flour (I used combination of 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup all purpose)
-1 cup old fashioned oats
-1 cup dark brown sugar *
-1/2 cup chopped almonds
-1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
*I used light brown sugar and reduced it to 1/2 cup.

For the filling:
-1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
-1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or vanilla extract)
-6 medium sized Granny smith apples, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced
-1/3 cup dark brown sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp bourbon (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

Method
1.Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan.
2.To make topping: Combine flour, oats, brown sugar & almonds in a large bowl until well-combined. Add in the pieces of butter and use your hands to squeeze and combine until mixture becomes crumbly and resembles wet sands (or cut butter pastry cutter or place all topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse until just blended).
3.Once finished, place topping in the fridge and begin making apple filling.
4.To make the filling: place butter and seeds from vanilla bean in a medium saucepan and turn heat on medium. After a couple of minutes the butter will begin to crackle & foam. Whisk consistently until a brown colour. Remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to give off a nutty aroma. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
5.While butter is cooling, place apples, 1/3 cup brown sugar, cinnamon and bourbon in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add brown butter to apple mixture and toss again to combine.
6.Take 1/2 cup of topping mixture and toss with apple mixture. Place apple mixture in prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with topping.
7.Bake the crumble on a baking sheet for 55-60 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

*Adapted from Ambitious kitchen

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A new blog

New blog @ wordpress 

I know my dad's gonna say "But why so many blogs?!?!?!", well I sort of just wanted a new blog for a new start and to put more of my pictures since this blog has turned more into a food blog.. Hopefully over the summer, I'll take a lot more pictures :) 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Après l'école: le deuxième jour (after school, the second day)

After our first lesson with Ghislaine at Creipac, we headed off for lunch and our first excursion!

We had a quick lunch at 'Quick'. Our teacher, Madame S however agreed with all of us that "Quick, ce n'est pas quick!!!"- Quick, it's not quick! The queue was horrendously long, but when it came to ordering, it came out really quickly. Anyway, it was pretty decent. Better than McDonalds.

Photo credit to Rebecca
We ate on the Anse Vata beach. Sun, light breeze, conversations and fast food. What more could you ask for? 

We headed back to our hotel and we played cards for a while before we were picked up by the Tchou tchou train! It's a small train that makes a tour around Noumea. Such a cute little train!

 Our tour guide was incredibly heart-warming and joyous. He conducted 3/4s of the tour in French, then the rest in English. He was all like "Here in Noumea, we are happy so let your worries disappear and just relax and be happy!" And we were all really like "Woah he has a cool mojo", we all asked him for a photo later!
As we went up the mountain, we saw incredible views. This was at Ouen Toro park. 



Simplement, je pourrais dire que c'est incroyable. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Creipac

To be honest, at first I wasn't looking forward to our French lessons. And I guess that's single handedly from experience of dreadful Saturday language school.

We had 3 hour French lessons each day at the language centre, Creipac. It was about a half an hour drive from the city centre (Noumea). To my surprise, they were some of the best lessons I've ever had. Not only was our teacher incredibly encouraging & helpful, she made our lessons incredibly interactive. Also, having a small class of 7 students, was really comforting. We all felt comfortable making mistakes and talking with each other all en francais.
3 hours went incredibly quickly, and many of us just long to have language classes like that yet again. 
Our teacher, Ghislaine helped us immensely, I can't thank her enough! It was mostly an emphasis on speaking & listening. The activities we did were fun, for example some of us had to go up and give a short brief description of an imaginary person, based on a single picture we were given. Then, all of us would 'interrogate' the person and ask all sorts of questions.

It also really made me realise and value how much the fact that smaller classes are very beneficial for language classes, and learning a language is something that I feel passionate about (I have yet to master Chinese.. uni?) because the problem with a lot language classes in school, it's too big. Sometimes, a teacher can't handle so many people, and consequently students are timid talking in front of the class. Since I go to a public school, we don't have the luxury of small size classes like private schools.
But I would definitely give the Creipac experience 10/10!

View from the pier opposite. The language centre is nestled in lots of trees, near the mountains! 
The view wasn't too bad either. 
At the end of our lessons, we received fancy certificates saying that we had completed 18 hours of French lessons at the Creipac language centre. 

Merci pour tout Creipac :D 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hummingbird bundt cake

Last year I discovered hummingbird cake. Aunty SS made me a hummingbird cake for my birthday, and I loved it!
Hummingbird cake is practically another version of carrot cake sans the carrot of course. Add pineapple and banana, voila.
This is simply a no fuss cake because personally, I find layer cakes cumbersome. Two reasons:

1) I am not artistic AT ALL. I cannot draw to save my life, so making a layer cake look pretty is the last thing on my mind. I am more of a person who will execute and replicate a recipe, or even a piano piece. I can't listen by ear in music, unlike my second sister who can magically play tunes without the piece in front of her. I unfortunately lack creativity (no I'm not a drone)..

2) It's really troublesome you know. 2, 3, 4 layers yeah whatever. Then you have to put a 'crumb coating' and how do you get your icing to look so clean and cut? I wonder. But I do love the look of layer cakes. I'm just lazy. 
Anyway, punch line is: bundt cakes are so much easier to handle. The glaze? Even easier. Just whip some cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and add a little milk and drizzle. I love uncomplicated things. 
Hummingbird bundt cake with cream cheese glaze
Ingredients
1 cup chopped nuts, toasted (Walnuts or pecans etc)
2 and 1/2 all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oil (I used sunflower)
2 cups sugar *
4 large eggs, lightly beatened
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 1/2 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
1 can of crushed pineapple, undrained

*Reduced sugar to 1 & 1/2 

Cream cheese glaze
4 oz (113 g) cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted *
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbsp milk

*Reduced powdered sugar to 1 & 1/2

Method
1) Preheat oven to 365 degrees F/180 C. Cover bundt pan with non-stick spray (or grease with  butter) and dust with flour
2) Place toasted nuts, flour, baking soda & salt in a bowl and mix until combined. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
3) Transfer to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto wire a rack to cool completely before glazing
4) For the glaze: place cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla in a bowl and mix until combined. Add milk in one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition. Add more if necessary to achieve a pouring consistency. Drizzle on top of bundt cake. *Optional: finish with finely chopped nuts

Adapted from Bakers royale


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Noumea day 1

If there is one word to describe my trip to Noumea, it would be bliss.

Quite literally a trip of my life. Immersion into culture, bonding with my school friends and enjoying the sun pretty much sums it all.
Many people do not know where New Caledonia is. When I try to explain that it's a small French island in the Pacific, near Tahiti and Fiji, many people jump to the conclusion "So basically France?"

Pas exactement- not exactly. How about 17,000 km away from France?

School WITH A VIEW! 
Nouméa is the capital of New Caledonia. Think crystal blue waters, white sand and lovely weather. Locals think that '18 C is cold'. Quite the contrary for us Melburnians. We experience freezing, wet winters! 18 C is lovely. 

The Age also wrote an article about it

Its tourism isn't as well developed as many other well known pacific islands but it really does have the potential. So it was a nice change to see that there weren't too many tourists lurking around. A lot of tourists notably from Japan, New Zealand and Australia. I went on an educational tour with my school via GET, which was quite professionally done! 14 students and two teachers.

The trip to the airport was actually pretty exciting, because we've pretty much all never been on a school overseas trip. The plane ride was only about 3 and a half hours, not too long. I sat with Eric and one of the school teachers. We watched quite a few episodes of Friends (my all time fave show) and by the end of it, we were struggling to keep our eyes open. Actually, I think everyone was quite exhausted despite the short flight because it was a reeeeally long day at the airport and arrived in the evening.

  Yi Shan has a Gopro so she took that everywhere. So handy for group selfies ha ha ha.

There were also several other schools from Australia.

In a later post, I will write about Amedee, an island where we went snorkelling. I would've also loved to see Ile de pins, but we didn't have time to visit there!

We had 3 hour French lessons each day at the language centre, Creipac. They were quite literally some of the best oral lessons I've ever had. Not only was our teacher incredibly encouraging & helpful, she made the activities fun and we all learned from our mistakes. More on my French lessons in a later post.

Anyway, on the first night, we didn't do much because we arrived in the evening. We all had a pretty magnificent burger and a taste of Orangina- the French version of Fanta except that it is less artificial and more bitter..I quite liked it. First night was at the hotel, so us students played cards all night, trying to keep quiet but that really failed. But what do you expect with a bunch of students running wild in a foreign country?

Actually, our definition of 'wild' is playing countless card games........
Next morning, trying to keep our eyes open. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Caledonia


Last week, I came back from my trip to New Caledonia. I was there for 11 days, and they were some of the best days I've had all year (apart from Singapore). 

 The water is so picture perfect, the weather was amazing (Apart from one day where I wore a t-shirt and it was windy & raining. Possibly the worst idea). The trip was for a school French study trip, and I am so glad that I went. I had to really persuade my parents to let me come on this trip (I presented them my case last year), and I am really blessed to have had such a wonderful time there. I'll be of course writing & posting pictures of my adventure in New Caledonia, but that won't be for a while because of exams :( But I had such a lovely time there, I MISS THE COUNTRY SO MUCH ALREADY AND SAYING MERCI TO EVERYONE!
 Ok gotta study study study.. :(


Friday, September 5, 2014

Chilli brownies

So since I did the 40 hour famine, I was asking my older sister to ask her colleagues if they could sponsor me.. And in return, I would bake something! So I have baked oreo cheesecake cupcakes, baked brownies and these chocolate chilli brownies.

Someone requested chocolate chilli brownies, and at first I was quite adamant. "What about just normal brownies?" However, I searched up some recipes.

So I settled on this recipe which gave me a different type of brownie. Normally I bake very dense, fudgy brownies, but these are a little mixture of both: fudgy and a bit cakey, thanks to the addition of baking powder & soda. Now, some of you may be shaking your heads.. "A BROWNIE SHOULD BE COMPLETE FUDGE OTHERWISE, IT'S JUST A CHOCOLATE CAKE." Yes, I can see your argument. But, I became a little bit more liberal when I tasted one of my friend's brownies... Cakey, moist with lots of chocolate chunks.

I added dark chocolate chunks and white chocolate chips, and I added a little bit more chilli powder than it asked for which gave it some kick. I think they're pretty good brownies, even though chilli sounds a tad weird. I'll definitely keep this recipe for normal cakey brownies too.

Chilli chocolate brownies
Ingredients
230 g unsalted butter
220 dark chocolate, divided in half
1/2 tsp ground chilli
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 shot espresso or 1 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips or roughly chopped chunks
Icing sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 F
2. Place butter, half the dark chocolate, chilli & mixed spice in a saucepan and gently melt together, stirring to prevent it catching on the bottom
3. Transfer melted chocolate mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla extract, espresso, cocoa powder, brown sugar and eggs. Mix well.
4. Sift in flour, baking powder & baking soda and mix until flour is just moistened.
5. Roughly chop the remaining half of the dark chocolate and stir through brownie mixture along with whiter chocolate. Pour into lined 20 cm tin.
6. Bake for 30-35  minutes, until firm around the edges and still slightly soft in the middle.
7. Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream

Adapted from Our Kitchen

Friday, August 22, 2014

Peanut butter cookie cheesecake


This is for a dear friend whom I met about 9 years ago, when I first arrived in Australia from Malaysia! My teacher assigned her to show me around and everything, and since then we've come a long way.

We have been in the same class twice in primary school, and we have been in the same class since we were 13 in high school until now. She recently did debutante and I was invited as one of her guests! So honoured and such a fun night.

More than grateful to have a friend like you M.

Anyway these are easy and super tasty. Definitely a crowd pleaser from the raving reviews I got from my friends. Great hybrid like oreo cheesecake ehehehe. So I'm just quickly posting this post because tonight I'm doing the 40 hour famine.. 40 hrs without technology! What will I be doing? Catching up on school work, reading lots of novels & magazines and perhaps going out for a walk (instead of the treadmill!).

Peanut butter cookie cheesecake
Ingredients
1 unsalted stick butter (113 g or 1/2 cup), softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 cups chocolate chips (or chunks)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 block, 250 g)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Method
1. Make the cookie dough. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (I just baked at 350 F or 180 C). Cream butter, sugars, peanut butter until smooth and fluffy.
2. Add egg & beat well until incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda & salt. Slowly add the flour mixture in with butter & sugar, mixing well after each addition. Stir in oats & chocolate chips.
3. Make cheesecake filling. Cream cream cheese, egg, sugar & vanilla until smooth.
4. Press half to 2/3s of the cookie dough in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Pour the cheesecake filling over the dough. Crumble remaining dough and sprinkle over the top or roll it into a flat layer and place it over the cheesecake layer.
5. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned and cheesecake is set. Serve warm or cold, and store leftover bars in the fridge.

Adapted from Pinch of yum