Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cooling down in Melbourne

We've been experiencing some heat waves with temperatures up to 41 C. So what are great ways to cool off if you're going to the city? Obviously eat and drink. 

1) Spend minimum time outdoors. Once I made my friend and I walk to Fitzroy for gelato at Messina in 40 degree heat and I instantly regretted it (but was relieved at Messina). That means, try your best not to go shopping along Bourke street. Melbourne Central, Emporium etc are your air-con friends! 

2) Get cold drinks and froyo!

Hardware societe
This is a favourite of mine near Melbourne Central. Be sure to come early during the weekends, and relatively early on weekdays. I usually go around 11-12 ish for brunch, and the normal waiting period is about 20-25 minutes. I made the grave mistake to go on the weekend with my friends, and we turned away when we heard the waiting period would be an hour plus. The coffee is fantastic and the quality of the food is pretty consistent. Iced coffees and mochas are delicious and not too sweet. My friends had the iced tea with mint which was refreshing although a bit too sweet for my liking.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Barcelona day 1 & 2

So what happened in 2015 since my last blog post about blondies? A lot. 
My second sister got married, I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL, and I went on a trip to Spain & Portugal with my parents & eldest sister. My whole motivation for getting through that awfully painful time of exam prep & exams itself, was the fact that I'd be able to travel to Europe and see my relatives & friends in Malaysia afterwards.
So a few days after my last exam, I travelled for nearly 24 hours from Melbourne (transiting in Dubai and eating Shake shack) to Spain. We were so exhausted that my sister and I fell asleep in our hotel room for 3-4 hours straight. The funny thing was our parents phoned us and knocked on our doors numerous times, but we were in deep sleep. This was to the extent that my dad started having theories that we had either
1) Gone gallivanting and couldn't wait to start shopping already like his perception of 'young people' (despite after 24 hours of travelling mind you)
2) Been kidnapped 
So the first night was really just not productive. I woke up feeling so groggy, but we had a delicious local dinner at a restaurant nearby our hotel.

Nice clams
 We had lots of paella throughout the trip.

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 
.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

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) with some 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 
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)

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

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


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
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

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.. :(