Saturday, June 30, 2007

You're so precious... Honey (cake)!

The cake I used for the finale of my Wilton course is actually this cute little cake. I was looking for a simple cake that wouldn't use up too many eggs or a ton of sugar... yes, I'm a certified cheap-o. I found a recipe for Honey Cake in my cookbook (Edith Adams Omnibus) and thought it'd be perfect. Just a heads up, this cake is very simple and delicious on it's own; but if you are wanting to frost the cake, you will have to double the recipe in order to make enough cake for 2 layers!

Honey Cake (Yield: single layer, 8-inch round cake)

- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 egg
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves
- 7/8 cups milk
- 1 cup raisins (optional)

1. Cream shortening and brown sugar. Add in honey and egg.

2. Sift flour, soda, salt, baking powder and spices together.

3. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, alternately with the milk.

4. Add in raisins and pour batter into a prepared 8-inch round pan.

5. Bake for 1 hr at 350F.

This cake turned out more like a dry-ish bread, rather than a moist cake. The flavour slightly resembles traditional gingerbread, all it lacks is the molasses. My sisters actually really liked this cake. I thought they might, which is why I omitted the raisins... I use to hate raisins when I was younger, but have grown accustom to them. Maybe they'll grow fond of the shrively grape remnants as they age? We'll see...

Ma Lai Koh x2

This is my second attempt at making ma lai koh... this time I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour. The cake came out a bit more dense than when I used cake flour the last time I made it. I ran out of my pretty, pink, cupcake liners but these white ones have their own aesthetic. This'll be one of my shorter blogs... c'est fini!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wilton Cake Decorating: Course 1, FINALE

Well, Course 1 of my Wilton Cake Decorating is over :( I feel somewhat saddened, but also very accomplished. I've gained some new skills in the art of cake decorating and I'm very proud of myself.
Here, I'm showing off my beautiful sweetpeas... aren't they adorable?

Finally, after 4 classes we have reached the stage of completing the Wilton Rose!

Here's me, posing with my beautiful cake

The course was a lot of fun... I'm hoping to sign up for Course 2, but I think I'll give it a break (at least for now). I want to relax and enjoy the free-time I do have, since I'm picking up a ton of extra working hours at KFC! That's not to say that I won't be decorating cakes at home... I know my family is getting sick of having to eat up all the cakes I make, but hey... what's better to become sick from the flu or a cake?!? :P

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pizza Casserole Take 2

I decided to prepare my pizza casserole again for dinner (see my previous post for the recipe). This time I stuck to the original recipe and didn't half it. Good thing too... my family devoured both casseroles and only about 2 pieces were left! But this time I decided to prepare some herbed bread sticks to go with the casserole, and boy were they tasty.

There are numerous breadstick recipes on the internet and to find just one is quite hard. I prefer the breadsticks that are on the soft side, because the crunchy ones (to me) take away from the soft "al-dente"-ness of the pasta. So here's my recipe for soft herbed breadsticks.

Soft Herbed Breadsticks (Yields 2 dozen)


- 1 pk regular or quick-acting yeast
- 1 c warm water (105 to115 degree)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 1/4 c All-purpose flour
- 2 tsp each dried rosemary (crushed) and dried thyme
- 1 tsp each dried oregano leaves and dried basil
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Cornmeal
- 1 Egg white
- 2 tb Cold water
- Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in sugar, salt, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, 2 cups of the flour and the oil. Beat until smooth.
2. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle (dough will be soft).
3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
4. Place dough in greased medium bowl and turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in warm place 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until double. (Longer rising gives typical French bread texture.)
5. Grease large cookie sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide dough into 24 equal parts.
6. Roll and shape each part into rope, about 9 inches long, sprinkling with flour if dough is too sticky. Place on cookie sheet.
7. Mix egg white and 2 tablespoons cold water. Brush over breadsticks. Sprinkle with poppy seed.
8. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake about 20 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and crisp. Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Store loosely covered.

My family thought that the breadsticks were very flavorful and went well with the casserole dish. I loved these breadsticks and may have gone overboard with the thyme (after all, it's my favorite herb!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Me: [to parents] "You have both been to H-mart on occassions, but I have yet to see this Korean Supermarket. That's it... we're going!"

Parents: "Okay!"

And so it was... I went with my parents (dragging my two sisters along) to H-mart, to see if it was as great a supermarket as my beloved T&T. The long drive to Langley was tedious, but I was excited to see a new store. The only korean store I shop at is Hannam (in Guildford) and it's almost too small to be called a supermarket. But when I stepped into H-mart I was amazed at the size. I think it was actually larger than T&T! And the selection of foods there was very impressive. They had a very well stocked produce section, which had very reasonable prices (even cheaper than Save-on/Safeway). Their freezer section was enormous and had a wide variety of frozen meats, buns and desserts. They even sold mochi in bulk! Which was awesome... my sister just loves mochi. I think it's the chewiness that gets to her :P and at $0.55 a piece I had to buy at least six. To me the best part of the store was the bakery... I've always had a passion for baking and am always drawn to the bakery section of every supermarket. H-mart's had a various buns which I had not seen before, and I've seen plenty! (at City Fresh, T&T and Henglong) Anywho... here are the pics of H-mart's bakery goodies

Sorry for the crap-tasticness of the photo... I couldn't get a good angle :(

Here's a better pic! This is one of H-mart's chestnut buns... shaped like a chestnut, how ingenious :P

And here's the filling inside the chestnut bun

After wandering through the bakery section, I saw a women carrying a bag of what looked like large, brown frisbees... that couldn't be right??! So I walked towards the direction she was leaving from and found this...

Couldn't help myself! So I bought a bag... as $2.50 for a bag of approx. 30 pieces of this yummy rice snack, how could I not? I loves this machine, and the operator was just as loveable... He was such a cute man with much enthusiasm for his work. As I snapped this picture...

... he exlaimed "I am KOREAN!" It just made my day

You must take a trip down to H-mart, if not to purchase a butt-load of awesome Korean treats then to see this cute Korean man and his Magic Rice Machine!

Lor Bak Koh... almost

I wanted to use up the remaining 2/3rds of my acorn squash (left-over from my japanese-inspired dinner) but was having a hard time deciding what to prepare. Then I remembered a while back, when my family went out for dim-sum at Neptune in Richmond (see post here) we ordered this pan-fried pumpkin cake. Noting that my acorn squash and pumpkin are from the same "squash" family I decided that this would be the recipe I would whip up. You can find the recipe at Jo's Deli & Bakery... this site has some really great recipes for Southeast Asian favorites. Couldn't find any dried shrimp in the house (Note to self: I must go out and get some for future recipes) so I just increased the amount of lap cheong in the recipe. After steaming, cutting and frying this dim-sum treat I ate it with some of Yeo's Sweet Chili Sauce. If you have not tried this chili yet, you must... it goes with everything: char siew bao, zongzi, ham sui kok and all the dim-sum treats!!! Sorry, about the tangent... sometimes I get off track. My pan-fried acorn squash cake was very tasty and had a perfect texture. Soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, truly the only way all "Lor Bak Koh" are meant to be eaten!

Curry and Pasta for Dinner

The other day, I was up for preparing dinner again. After the indian-inspired one, I thought I'd go for something a bit more simple. I've never tried making curry before, as it is usually my dad who cooks that (yeah, my dad cooks!), but for some reason this time I felt brave :P I wasn't too sure if my sisters would enjoy the curry so I also made them a simple pasta dish.

Actually, the reason I made the curry was to finish up the jalapeno peppers I had left-over from my Reshami Kabob recipe... and I did. The curry recipe I used can be found at Simply Recipes, the only alteration I made was to substitute half of the chicken called for in the recipe with potatoes... my family loves potatoes in curry, and too much chicken can be erm... chicken-y?!
The simple recipe for my sister's pasta was made using a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup.

Mushroom Chicken Pasta

-3 cups of cooked pasta, any shape (NOTE: rice can be substituted)
- 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 can milk
- 2 chicken breasts, cooked & cubed
- salt & pepper
- 3/4 cup frozen vegetables (I used the corn, carrot, pea & beans mix)

1. Place the soup, milk and veggies in a non-stick skillet/fry pan. Cook over medium heat, until the vegetables are cooked.

2. Add in the cooked chicken, and salt & pepper to taste. Continue to cook until the mixture is heated through.

3. Place 1 cup of pasta on a plate and spoon over the mushroom-chicken sauce.

Once more, the dish I prepared for my sisters was not enjoyed by them as much as the dish that I had assumed they wouldn't enjoy! They dove after the curry and it was literally devoured within 20 minutes. The pasta was eaten as well, but we still had some left-over. I must learn to give my sisters more credit... must keep telling myself, they can handle spicy foods :P

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Family Outings: Luxe

Rating ***1/2 out of *****
Yeah for dim sum! Just this past weekend my family decided to try out a new dim sum restaurant that recently opened up in Langley.

Order from either their menu or simply pick a dish you like as it is brought to your table...

Before I get to the food... let's take in the aesthetics of this new dining location, shall we?

Such a cute condiments dish... they even give you a tiny spoon to dish out the sauce. How thoughtful!

The place settings, tea cups and tea pots were all themed beautifully. The rippling effect on all the dishes, and the decision to have everything in white was very elegant.

Finally, on to the food... We started with their char siew puff pastry rolls. The flakiness was perfect with the savouriness.

Their beef tripe was very good. The texture was perfect and the sauce was not too over-powering.

We also ordered another type of beef tripe... this one was more marinated, but the sauce was still perfect (not too salty, but very flavourful)

We never go to dim sum without trying the phuong thao... these ones were more spicy than the ones from Neptune. I actually enjoyed these better!

Luxe claypot chicken rice is a must... the portion is quite large and only came around $6.50, not bad considering they give you lots of chicken, veggies and one whole lap cheong!

And for dessert... Mango Pudding. Good, but not as good as my mom's :P

Sure it just looks like a plain old bao, but this was one of my favourite dishes. IT was filled with lotus paste and salted egg yolk... I love anything with salted egg yolk

All-in-all, Luxe's Restaurant was a very enjoyable dining experience. The waiters were friendly and catered to our needs, the host was very knowledgeable and seemed genuinely pleased to greet us. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was very inviting and serene. If you do find yourself somewhere in Langley, I recommend Luxe... for dim sum or just for a dinner outing. Two-thumbs up!

Onde Onde

After making all those savoury goodies for dinner and lunch I decided to get back to my real passion... sweets! Of course, everyone loves sweets so I guess it's not so much a passion as it is just a deep, deep love :P I also love making malay sweets which use rice flour and coconut, so since my dad had bought a sweet potato that has been sitting in our pantry for the last 3 weeks I decided to make ONDE ONDE!!! Hooray (I cheer for myself way too much, eh?). Anywho, I used the recipe posted by the baker who cooks. The only difference is that I made a smaller batch (because I didn't have enough sweet potato), and used brown sugar instead of Gula Melaka; the end result tastes very similar. Yes, I am too lazy to post the exact recipe I used but I will show pictures of my onde-onde making!

Here's the rice flour dough... what a nice orange-y color

Filling the dough with brown sugar and desiccated coconut

These onde-onde just need to be boiled and rolled in desiccated coconut; then they'll be ready for eating *drool*

Monday, June 25, 2007

Japanese Dinner

I guess that bento making has caused me to expand my cooking repertoire... that's a good thing right? Of course it is! Today's dinner would be japanese-inspired. Here's all the stuff I whipped up!

#1. Chicken Katsu

#2. Various Tempura-Battered Veggies

#3. Tempura & Panko-crusted Shrimp, Cucumber Rolls and Tuna Salad Rolls

1. The chicken katsu recipe can be found on and is really simple. Being a KFC employee you'd think that I'd be sick of fried chicken... well, I'm not and don't think I ever will be. Even my boss isn't sick of chicken... I don't think it's possible to hate chicken, not when it's soooo goood! The katsu turns out nice and moist, not too greasy (unless you fry it wrong :P) and with just the right saltiness. I also made my own tonkatsu sauce by following this recipe. Eaten on a bed of rice with home-made tonkatsu sauce drizzled on it, this chicken katsu is actually a meal in itself... if I had known I probably wouldn't have made so much stuff for dinner... oh well :P

2. The batter I used to make the tempura was really simple (from and it even has a video showing you how to make the tempura. The vegetables I used were: carrots, zucchini (my family's favourite... we always fight over these ones, so I made extra), acorn squash, broccoli, sweet potato and some onions.

3. We just happened to have a sushi roll mat in the house, so I decided to try my hand a making both cucumber rolls and tuna-salad rolls. The cucumber rolls were basically made with sushi rice, nori, mayonnaise and thin cuts of cucumbers. The tuna-salad rolls were made with sushi rice, nori and tuna salad. Sushi making is so fun and simple. My sisters really enjoyed the sushi and my parents loved the shrimp. The panko-crusted ones tasted like popcorn shrimp from DQ (only better :P) and the tempura ones were also very tasty.

Chinese Tea Eggs

We've had some hard-boiled eggs hanging out in our fridge for the past 4 days! I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that eggs which have been kept for more than a week will go bad... so I decided to "tea-stain" the eggs to ensure that someone in the family would finally eat up these eggs. The trick worked! Actually, I was kinda tempted to eat one after I had cooked them :P But my dad also decided that he would eat one... Hooray! Only 2 more to go. If my mom eats one and I somehow can convince one of my sisters that it's not poisoned/rotten we'll finish these eggs off before the week is done!

Here's my recipe...

Chinese Tea Eggs

- 3 cups boiling water
- 1 black tea bag
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp all spice
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 egg which have been hard-boiled and still have their shells

1. Take the eggs and gently tap them, with the back of a spoon, to crack their shells. Be careful that you do not dislodge any of the shell. These shell pieces are needed for the marbled "tea-stained" effect.

2. Place the water in a pot and bring to boil. Add in the tea bag, cinnamon, sugar, all-spice and soy sauce. Stir and let steep until the broth has a deep black/brown tea color.

3. Add in the "cracked" eggs and simmer in the broth for 2 hrs. Add more water, as necessary, to keep the eggs submerged at all times.

4. Turn off heat and let the eggs + broth cool.

5. Once completely cool, remove the eggs from their shells and serve.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Brownies! Yay

My sister had a class party a few days ago and had volunteered to bring brownies. Or should I say, that she volunteered me to make her brownies :P My sister brought home a note that stated she would supply 30 brownies and my mom looked at it in shock. And here's how the conversation went.

Mom: *Gasp* "What! I'm suppose to make you brownies?"
Me: I would be more than happy to bake brownies for you, sis.
Mom: *Looks relieved"
Sister: That's what I thought. I knew Joanna would make me brownies!

Apparently, I'm a bake-aholic... and even my sister knows! I mustn't let this get around, so let's just keep it between me and the internet, o.k.?

The brownie recipe I used was from the nestle website Everytime I bake brownies I use this recipe. I love it because these brownies turn out half-way between fudgy and cakey... and they are delicious. This is a really easy recipe, as it uses cocoa powder and not melted chocolate. So if you're a beginner baker and don't trust yourself with melting chocolate, this brownie recipe is for you! I always have to mix in something with my brownies, and since my sister's allergic to nuts I always reach for either white chocolate or butterscotch chips. I love these chips, because when they bake instead of getting all goey they sort of crystallize and become nut-like... yeah, I'm a huge nut fan :)

I cut out the brownies using handy-dandy cookie cutters and packed them up to be taken to my sister's class. The best thing about using cookie cutters is that you get to eat the left over scraps :P My family couldn't wait to dig into the brownie scraps/crumbs and we had a brownie-good time!

My Matcha Cupcakes

As promised in my Wilton Lesson 3 post I would post the recipe I used for the Matcha Cupcakes. I actually used an internet recipe which can be found at and let me encourage you to try it. The pound-cake like texture and the amazing matcha flavor go so well together in this recipe that I can't even describe it... and will not attempt to alter it at all.

The buttercream I used was made using the basic recipe from the Wilton Course book (you can find it on the Wilton Website). Here is a picture tutorial of my step by step cupcake making...

Step 1: Bake the cupcakes and let them cool

Step 2: Frost the cupcakes and...

Step 3: Dip the frosted cupcakes in desiccated coconut

Step 4: Take the iced cupcakes to class & decorate as you wish!

Indian Inspired Dinner: Part 2

... as promised, here's my continuation of the Indian-inspired Dinner I prepared.

So, in addition to the naan and spicy chicken kabobs I planned to make some chicken pizza's. I made them by taking 3 of the largest naan dough balls (uncooked), rolling them out and placing them on a baking sheet. I baked the bread for 10 minutes at 325F; just enough time for the bread to slighly brown, but not cook through fully. I then took out the semi-cooked bread, slathered on some barbeque sauce and topped the pizza with grilled chicken slices and grated marbeled + gruyere cheese. Pop the pizza's back into the oven until the cheese is all melted and goey... and there you have a quick, Naan-bread Chicken Pizza.

The Three Pizzas... the front two are bbq, and the back one is basil mayo.

I also decided to try out a wacky version of a chicken pizza using the basil mayo (from my basil chicken pita post) instead of barbeque sauce. OMG that pizza turned out so good. It was very moist and basil-y and was the perfect compliment to the naan-bread base.

A close-up of my soon to be famous, Basil-mayo Chicken Pizza

Funny thing... my sisters actually fell in love with the chicken kabobs that I had made and weren't to excited about the pizza! I was so surprised, I guess you never really know what you like until you eat it, eh?

NOTE TO SELF: I must market my new Basil-mayo Chicken Pizza... maybe Panago will sign me on :P

Indian Inspired Dinner: Part 1

The other day my dad asked me if I wanted to make dinner... what do you think my answer was? Well, you can probably guess by the pictures that I answered "YES!"

I'm always looking for ways to experiment and improve my culinary techniques... this time I was rarin' to try something Indian inspired. Having been intrigued by the Thai Chicken Tacos at Milestone's (pictured here) I really wanted my family to have a taste of this amazing dish.

Step 1: Finding the perfect kabob recipe...
I wanted to pick the perfect recipe to use in this Indian-inspired Chicken Taco and I found it in the Reshami Kabob recipe from So I prepared/marinated the chicken the night before... and stuck them on skewers (which had been soaked for 30 minutes) just before grilling them on the George Foreman Grill.

Step 2: Finding the perfect Naan recipe...
This one was pretty easy to figure out. I went to and found the naan recipe with the best review. Here it is... Naan Bread. I was a little afraid that this recipe wouldn't turn out. Not because I don't trust allrecipes, but because I don't trust yeast. Me + Yeast do not equal good times... for some random reason (maybe my impatience) it doesn't seem to rise properly in my presence :(

Luckily, this time the story was different. The Naan rose perfectly.

After shaping and frying the naan in my well-greased skillet they turned out beautifully.

Step 3: What do you garnish with?
I settled on garnishing this dish with my thai peanut sauce and some warmed Tikka Masala sauce from Patak's.

Step 4: Assembly
To make the Indian-inspired Chicken Tacos you take one piece of naan, layer on a handful of chopped garden greens (lettuce, cabbage, carrots, scallions etc.), place one skewer on top and then drizzle the taco with the peanut sauce.

Continuation... I wasn't too sure if my sisters would enjoy the spicy chicken kabobs, so I decided to prepare a couple different options for their dinner... Part 2 is to come!