Sunday, April 20, 2014

Snaps

So my so-called 'holiday journal' was a complete failure. But in my defense, I was literally at home for the past two weeks apart from a few outings..
At home/outdoors


- TV show marathons (Falling off my chair when my favourite team gets eliminated from the Amazing race)
- Bake a lot. I made double chocolate hot cross buns twice.. The second time due to my sister's insistent demand of wanting something chocolatey. But I don't blame her. She's studying for her actuarial exams (brainy) and is rather quite stressed.. Chocolate is everyone's friend, people! I also roasted a chicken for the first time, made panna cotta with berries, brownies, tortillas... mhmmm..
- Throughout the week, the weather was really lovely! Blue skies, crisp autumn air. Gave me a chance to wear my favourite sunglasses from Sportsgirl when I went out for some walks.
- Read three books. A little disappointed I didn't read more.
- Holiday hw. How mundane. I struggled to pick up a pen because I felt so lazy.That biology book you see up there? Not the greatest source of reference.. As much as biology excites me, this textbook doesn't. Slabs of writing and an insufficient amount of diagrams (diagrams are usually the best way to learn with bio).

Some interesting outings
- Watched Captain America 2 and Spiderman 2. Some serious good movies.
The most attractive couple I've ever seen.
- Had lunch & dessert with friends.
- Went to the beautiful State library in the city to study for barely 2 hours with friends. The majority of the time? We ended up spending most of our time having brunch at Manchester press club and Starbucks & Cacao green. And a little bit of shopping. #soproductive
Source: Google
OH AND I finally sat for my Learner's driver's knowledge test so I can start driving soon! Probably should've done it.. A YEAR AGO, but I was a little lazy and I'm still worried about being a hazard to other drivers on the road..

So quite an unproductive, lazy 2 week break and I am not ready to go back to reality...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oreo cheesecake brownies

I just love baking hybrids; nutella pretzel brownies, cream cheese brownies, cookies and cream cupcakes and I'm dying to make these twix cookie dough cheesecake bars (how ridiculous do they sound?). So this is where brownie meets cheesecake and oreos.. C'est delicieux!

My second sister had to bring most of the batch to her colleagues, in fear that we'd end up eating the whole tray.. Bakers, I'm sure you'd understand the dangers. I love this recipe because you basically smother a nice thick layer of cream cheese in the middle and then put more brownie batter on top. Not only does the cream cheese layer look effortless, it tastes heavenly. Enough said, give these a try!

Oreo cheesecake brownies
Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 package (8 oz or 250 g) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar/icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 and 1/3 cup coarsely chopped Oreo cookies

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Butter a baking pan and line with parchment/baking paper.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Then whisk in sugar and bring to a boil. Whisk frequently, boil for a minute. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
3. In a bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand), beat together cream cheese, confectioners' sugar & vanilla extract until combined, about 1 minute.
4. In another bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder & salt. Whisk until combined.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs until combined. Whisk in melted butter-sugar mixture until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until combined, followed by Oreos.
6. Spear half of the brownie batter into an 8 inch baking dish, then followed by a cream cheese layer. Then, distribute the remaining brownie mixture, spreading it evenly. Swirl with a knife if desired.
7. Bake for 24-28 minutes, until brownies & cheesecake are set. Insert a knife into the cheesecake mixture, and it should come out clean. Edges will be lightly browned.
8. Let it cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies.
*Tip I read from Smitten Kitchen: Freeze them after it has cooled down, so it's easier to cut them.

Adapted from Sweet pea's kitchen

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Holiday diary:Day Four

I thought it'd be fun just to take a few snaps as a 'holiday diary', despite it being the 4th day already. I'm on my term 1 break, for two weeks. It's been pretty glorious. For example, yesterday I did nothing but had an Amazing race marathon (new season of course)..

DAY FOUR
I baked two types of brownies today; my favourite Baked ones and oreo cheesecake (recipe coming soon)! So decadent. Dw, I'm trying not to eat the whole tray; my older sister is taking them to work for her colleagues to sample..

Melbourne weather has been much colder lately (isn't it strange how we're experiencing fall/autumn while the northern hemisphere is experiencing spring?) so I wore my fluffy robe I received as a bday present a couple years ago, and H & M socks which I bought from Singapore.

I had dinner & dessert with my two sisters in the city after they finished working which was really nice! We went to a ramen bar and then went to the Lindt cafe to share waffles & chocolate lava cake.

I've also been reading my French tutor's book which is quite challenging, despite it designed for les enfants, but it's definitely helping with my recognition of sentence structures. And I'm writing down  new vocabulary.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Flourless peanut butter cookies


 I always crave for a cookie. Why do you think I have posted 9 recipes of cookies on my blog? Brown butter chocolate chip, being my favourite (and also a household favourite). The Brown butter choc chip recipe is from Ambitious kitchen, and so are these flourless peanut butter cookies! I've also made her snickerdoodles.. All, have been executed with success.
These literally take about 5 minutes to whip up. It uses one whole cup of peanut butter. And a good, hearty amount of oats and dark chocolate chunks! I'm an avid peanut butter eater, so it's only perfect for pb-lovers.
These aren't your traditional kind of cookies. They're a little bit more chewy, and seriously take my advice when I say to warm these up so you have melty chocolate bits and drink with a cold glass of milk. I also like to sprinkle a little sea salt on top (something I learnt from reading food blogs).

Flourless peanut butter cookies
*Makes 16-20 cookies
Ingredients
. 1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (not natural)
. 2/3 cup brown sugar
. 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
. 2 large eggs
. 2/3 cup rolled oats
. 1 tsp baking soda
. 2/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180 /350 F.
2. In a small bowl, mix together oats & baking soda. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer (or by hand) until smooth. Mix in dry ingredients and then gently fold in chocolate chips/chunks.
4. Roll cookies into 2-inch dough balls. The dough should be pretty sticky. You can use an ice scream scoop/cookie scoop as an alternative.
5. Bake for 9-11 minutes, remove when edges start to turn golden brown.They will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven.
6.  Cool for 2 minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Ambitious kitchen

Monday, March 24, 2014

Predicaments

I baked two cakes for my birthday. But there's a story behind this. I think some people may think I'm a little crazy to bake two cakes, but I'm just a person who refuses to give up and, rather a perfectionist. I'm an Aries, and I saw this on Buzzfeed which are all freakishly correct traits of me; "When things don't go your way, you don't handle it... super well."

I'll give you a silly anecdote. A few years ago, I walked out of my piano exam and I was picked up by my second sister & dad. I was crying all the way home, because I felt like I didn't go as well as I would've wanted to. Next week I found out the result.. My result was an A. To this day, my sister still makes fun of me.
So I thought I had ruined my birthday mango cheesecake with an oreo base, because the sides of the base were a little soggy when I baked it in the waterbath. So I made another cheesecake, a Japanese cheesecake. Next morning, I cut a bit of the mango cheesecake; IT'S NOT ACTUALLY THAT BAD. And decided to go along with that cake for my birthday dinner.

Lessons learned: Double check that your spring-form pan is secure and wrapped around tightly with foil. You do not want soggy cheesecake base. And I don't think I'm going to bake my 18th birthday cake next year.

I cannot believe that I'm already 17, and a legal adult next year.. My sisters have been asking me "How did you grow up so fast?", which I can't answer to. I honestly feel like a fourteen year old... Not someone who is not far from finishing high school and entering the real adult world.
Mango cheesecake
My mango cheesecake was a semi-predicament; it didn't quite turn out the way I wanted, but it wasn't horrible. The base was a little hard to cut, and I was basically murdering the cake when I was cutting it to serve. But on the positive note, it was a hit. I really did not need to make another cheesecake...

But then I had another predicament. On Sunday night, my Samsung S2 which I've had for a year DIED. I was using it then suddenly it completely shut off itself. I can't turn it on anymore. I tried charging it, this that.. So I've been quite annoyed and it's extremely inconvenient when all of your contacts have been lost... So this calls for a new phone. But this won't be for a while :(

So I had a Japanese cheesecake to photograph. I used Diana's desserts recipe, the one I used for the cupcakes! But this time I used it for a bigger cake and it was very very delicious. As fluffy as it could be and a little spongy! One thing I would recommend is to strain your cheese mixture before adding the egg-whites, if there are any lumps. And add a tad more sugar because it's not very sweet.

Fellow bakers, what kind of baking disasters have you had?

Asides from these predicaments (small predicaments, I must say), I had a wonderful birthday surrounded by friends and family!

Japanese cheesecake
Ingredients 
140 (5 oz) sugar *I'd increase to about 160 g.
6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
50 g (2 oz) butter
250 g (9 oz) cream cheese
100 ml/3 oz milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
60 g (2 oz) cake flour/superfine flour *I just added more cornflour since I don't have cake flour.
20 g (1 oz) cornflour (cornstarch)
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions
1. Melt cream cheese & butter & milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, cornflour, egg yolks and lemon juice & mix well.
2. Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in sugar and whisk until soft peaks form.
3. Add cheese mixture to egg white mixture and mix well. Pour into an 8 inch round cake pan (grease and line the bottom & sides of the pan with parchment paper).
4. Bake cheesecake in a water bath for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until set & golden brown at 160 degrees Celsius (325 F)

Adapted from Diana's desserts

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Celebrating International women's day

A lot of my friends questioned me why I hosted a Girl rising screening, something 'out of the blue'.

You see, I was never introduced into global issues and poverty as a young kid in primary school. My parents always told me how fortunate I am, but I never really understood that.

It wasn't until year 9, where I had one of the most enthusiastic teachers I've ever come across; my humanities teacher. He inspired my incredibly, to do some good. As a class, we studied Blood diamond; the hidden truth about diamonds... I discovered the dark truth behind my beloved chocolate.. And also, we were taught to be critical of some campaigns such as the notorious failed KONY campaign. I did a research project which dove into looking at the violation of Afghan women, and just pondering about it made it think why should they be treated any differently to the way I am.

I stress, had it not been my teacher who introduced this rigorous curriculum, I would not be as passionate about the issues as I am today. I think it is incredibly important to introduce such topics like these into the school curriculum, which is why I wrote my 'Take a stand' article a month ago.

I'm particularly passionate about these social issues and third world issues because
1) Some of the sexist remarks I hear in school make me incredibly angry.
2) The way some women are depicted in society is just simply unfair.
3) These women who are having their rights violated in third world countries aren't able to have a voice, and if we are the ones who have the resources to raise that voice, we must answer to that plight. We need to raise awareness, particularly amongst us, youth!

^seriously, as much as I love Carl's jr, has eating a burger ever looked sexy? Last time I checked, sauce and lettuce just drips out of your mouth.

I wrote an article about the lack of coverage of influential women in the media. It's alarming to see girls around my age, doing things to attract attention, and I think part of that has been due to media exposure. Which has also led to some people stereotyping females or expecting standards. So please read my article, which sort of coincides with IWD! Also, highly recommend to watch this TedX talk (I could honestly have a TedX marathon all day long)!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Simplicity

There's always beauty with simplicity. Simplicity in appearance, simplicity in food. Sometimes I like to be elaborate & picky, but every now and then, I'm a little too lazy to do something complicated.

I haven't really cooked or baked much lately, but I made something simple that was easy and wowed my family. Green tea panna cotta.

For me, panna cotta has always been one of my favourite desserts. Basically like a pudding; soft, creamy with that little jiggle. It's simple.

Now, perhaps some of you are like 'Hold your horse! Isn't panna cotta difficult to do?' So, some of you may be intimidated to make panna cotta like I was initially, but it turns out, it's actually super super easy. Who loves fast & easy desserts? *Raise hands*
Honestly? You'll probably have all these ingredients in your pantry except for the green tea powder. However, I do suggest buying some green tea powder because it's a beauty in desserts (e.g my green tea ice cream). I'd dial up the green tea powder and take down the sweetness just a little. But other than that, it was simple, and pretty perfect.

P.S you can find me on Twitter now!

Green tea panna cotta
Serves 6 (I made about 7 ramekins)

Ingredients
1 and 1/2 tsp green tea powder (I'd increase to 2 or 2 and 1/2)
600 ml (21 fl oz) cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp gelatine powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*Optional: Sliced fruit

Method:
1. Put the green tea powder in saucepan with a little of the cream. Mix and form a paste. Then, whisk the remaining cream, ensuring that there are no lumps.
2. Add sugar the saucepan, stirring to dissolve. Then, slowly bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Then remove from heat.
3. Put the gelatine in a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot cream to form a smooth paste. Return the mixture to the saucepan, stirring until the gelatine has completely dissolved. Rest for 10 minutes to allow it to infuse.
4. Strain the mixture into a large bowl, then add milk & vanilla and stir to combine.
5. Pour into teacups/moulds/ramekins, and chill for at least 3 hours or until set.

Adapted from Yoshoku via Ooh-look

Friday, February 7, 2014

Local eateries

Of course you can't pass the local hawker stalls in Singapore....While there are nice restaurants like in my previous post, there are also plentiful of local eateries around! 
Porridge with deep fried pig intestines
I was a little jittery when Aunty M & Uncle D said they'd be ordering some porridge with pig intestines and pig liver etc...But you know, it was not bad at all! Interesting. Also, above is one of Singapore's best fritters (yau zha gwai).
 We also had this sashimi thing.

Sweet mung bean soup with fritters
Also had these little rice cakes with some pickles on top!
 Making siew yoke...
This 'local eatery' was at my uncle and aunt's place. Uncle D is the master of roast pork... Roast pork belly has that traditional crackly, crispy skin. It was amazing. I learnt from the best! Now my family is awaiting for a replica. 
 Baked crab
The crab was amazing! We had black pepper baked crab and salt baked crab. Obviously if you want the au natural, then go with the salt baked. But I really fancied the black pepper because I'm crazy about black pepper.
Had some laksa..
 Tutu kuih
Interesting type of kuih, soft, and spongy with a nice filling! Very nice to eat when it's warm.
Cedele 
Cedele would be more fitting for the cafes post, but I simply had too many pictures! This was at a suburban mall, and I'm pretty sure there are a few branches. It claims that it has no transfat, and to be healthy.  I thought the cakes were nice (especially if it claims to be healthy), I shared a salted caramel cheesecake & carrot cake with my aunty (on my mum's side, not Aunty M).I think the cheesecake needed a little bit more salt though, but the carrot cake was very nice. Thank you to Aunty J for taking me out!

So 'Local eateries' is my last post of my Singapore trip. Singapore was a fantastic trip! Just when you think five days is sufficient, it really isn't. There are lots of things to do in Singapore, more importantly, there is so much food to eat. Had such a lovely trip staying & spending time with my relatives, and so far it's been one of my highlights of 2014 (even though 2014 just started).  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy CNY and back to reality

Happy Chinese new year everyone! I am celebrating with family for the next few days, and then I'm back to reality which is SCHOOL. I have been in holiday mood for the past month and a half. I've been in South-east Asia, visiting Singapore, Penang and my hometown, Kuala Lumpur. So it's been a pretty great summer.

I am hoping not so much for prosperity this year (besides, I'm a student), but for a good school year as I'm entering my second last year of high school!

Also, I wrote a post on Huffington post about why YOU should care about the 66 million uneducated girls in the world.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Eateries

I had a diverse range of food in Singapore, all tested by my trusty uncle and aunty. I was quite surprised to learn that food of other cultures are really good, such as Spanish, Italian, Mexican etc...
Tiong Bahru bakery

Kouign amann and traditional croissant.
These were the ultimate croissants, dare I say the best I've tasted in my life. I shared a traditional croissant and a kouign amann croissant with Uncle D. Think flaky, crispy with delicate layers. The kouign amann croissant is a must, so sweet and crispy. Btw Uncle,if you're reading this, I INITIALLY THOUGHT YOU SAID 'ALMOND' and was wondering where the almonds were...

Scoop
Cute ice cream shop, also pointed out by Aunty that it's a shop that attracts so many girls! Gee, I wonder why. There are many flavours to choose from, but I settled with butterscotch and pecan. Aunty got the lychee martini, which was very refreshing and Uncle D got durian... I normally don't eat durian, but on this trip I had durian ice cream twice, suffice to say I like it!
Lei Garden
Chijmes
We were supposed to eat at the iconic Chijmes branch of Lei Garden, however there was a power trip. There was also a wedding happening, I really pity that groom and bride. Anyway, we went to the Orchard road branch. I really loved the dim sum there, some of the best baked egg tarts, bbq pork puff pastry and I also had sago with mango & pomelo. My cousins had durian pudding, which I could smell from across the table. We all also shared the glutinous rice balls, coated with peanuts and a hot sesame filling.
Zaffron



Hearty Indian food. My whole family knows how much I love roti canai, so eating naan, mutton curry with teh halia (ginger tea)is my kind of lunch. Uncle D and I agreed that the roti naan was ordinary, and we'd just order two of the garlic naans. Funnily enough, he accidentally ordered a vegetarian dish via the iPad menu, mistaken that the tandoori tofu was chicken! I was perplexed when it arrived, wondering where the meat was (let's say, my uncle is more of a carnivore) and then he realised his order was wrong and we chuckled about it.



Steaming, braised ox's tail.
 Don quijote is in Dempsey Hills, a nice location with quite a few popular restaurants.
It was quite a light dinner with interesting flavours. Kind of reminds me of The black toro! My favourites were the wagyu beef with blue cheese dip, the braised ox's tail, mushrooms, calamari and to top it off, we had a chocolate lava cake! Overall, a really enjoyable dinner.

Max Brenner’s
Yes, there are a couple of Max Brenner’s around the world, but I have only tried it once, and was left disappointed with soggy waffles last month in Australia. So, after the night we had a chocolate lava cake, Uncle said we could try another one at a different place and compare. While I loved Don Quijote's, if I had to pick, it'd be MB. I felt that the chocolate was pronounced more in MB, but that having been said, MB specialises in chocolate.

So the next post is full of local eateries. These were at nice restaurants/cafes/franchises! So delicious...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Outings in Singapore

I'm a Malaysian, yet ironically I've never visited Singapore until now, at sixteen. I flew up to the tiny country (barely a dot on a world map) for five days visiting Aunty M & Uncle D. They were the ones that took my parents and I around in Beijing (and also their family went with our family to California), while they were living as expats. They are so much fun to be with, and they took extremely good care of me :) It was my first time flying by myself. Though it was only an hour flight from KL...

To my surprise, although Singapore is a small place, (going from the east to the west of the island so easily), there is a plethora of activities & sights and eateries to do. The food is great,  from your local hawker stalls to restaurants of all kinds of cuisines. Singapore is cosmopolitan.

Singapore trip will come in THREE parts; outings, eateries in restaurants and local eateries.

So things I did in Singapore....

1) I went to the Singapore zoo and also did the night & river safari. The Singapore zoo itself is huge, you can walk (real workout) or take the tram around. My favourite animal was the leopard and also seeing the splash zone show with the sea lion.  I really liked the Night safari, and also the shows. River safari: my uncle and I would not recommend. Waste of money just to go on a five minute boat ride,and some of the animals were hiding. Though, we saw the Red panda and the giant panda which was cute.


2) Shopping on Orchard Street. Of course you gotta have some shopping therapy! I had so much fun with my aunty shopping along there! I'm regretting not buying more though...

3) Gardens by the bay. The enclosures are extremely nice, obviously the project costed a lot of money but it's impressive. We went to the Cloud forest and the flower dome. I also really liked the cool temp inside, unlike the heat during midday in Singapore.



4) Take pictures with the lion and Marina bay sands hotel. I have yet to visit the actual hotel!!
5) My uncle and I went to Adventure Cove in Sentosa. According to my older cousin, Universal studios isn't really worth the money, and initially I thought so too. So even though I didn't go there, I personally think Adventure Cove would be better. It’s a nice place to spend the day. Our favourite ride was the Riptide Rocket, we rode on it about four times! You can also snorkel at Rainbow reef, which was pretty cool considering I've never gone snorkeling but the water left a nasty salt taste afterwards. My uncle says we could easily spend three days in Sentosa, however my trip was quite short. So next time, there will be more.

6) We went to the Jurong bird park and took the tram around the park to tour. The park isn't very big, so I don’t think you'd need to spend a lot of time. I do recommend seeing Kings of the skies show. I saw some owls, eagles and vultures.
I did quite a fair bit of activities within five days, thanks to my relatives’ planning!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013

Dear twenty thirteen, it's been good.

Somewhat, I had a good school year; whether it was the love-hate relationship with biology (not a fan of the ecology unit), or my love for history. I'm loving the fact that I'm saying goodbye to geography & physical education, because quite frankly, my mapping skills nor my coordination is top notch. But I'm entering year 11 & 12, my two final years of high school...

Besides school, I've encountered some of the most amazing experiences;

Becoming a HuffPost Teen blogger
!!!!! is all I can say. I cannot believe that some of my work is being read by many, many people!

Work experience at the hospital
Just a year ago, I applied for my work experience at RMH, not really thinking I'd get the placement (since there are only limited places available to students), but I did! Although it was only for a mere week, it really opened my eyes into the medical world; it makes me want to pursue that dream. However, I'm not sure whether I'll make it, since it is incredibly difficult & competitive to get a placement in med school, I'm going to try my best! If not? That's okay.

Charity work
After all these years, I've finally taken the initiative to do some charity work. I raised over $700 for a baking fundraiser. Half of it goes to the UN's world food programme and Stop the traffik. I also hosted a Girl rising screening at my school!

EUROPE TRIP
Going to Europe; Paris and London has been a long-time dream of mine.

Taylor Swift's concert 
I WENT TO T-SWIFTY FOR THE THIRD TIME!

Favourite recipes of 2013? 
Green tea ice cream
Brown butter chocolate chunk cookies
I declare it as the BEST chocolate chip recipe ever.

Most popular recipes
One of the most viewed recipes this year was my coffee cupcakes! Definitely a pleaser for coffee-lovers.

Blueberry muffins
The best blueberry muffin recipe I've encountered so far. The streusel is delicious and the muffin itself, very fluffy!

So I don't know about you, but I've had a pretty good year.