Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another way to use a colander

We received all kinds of presents this Christmas. One of them is silicone collapsible colander. Kids can be really imaginative. While they have never seen anything like this before, Livie asked:

“Is this a toilet seat? Do you think my pee will go through the holes?”

Honestly it does look like a toilet seat, don’t you think?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gingerbread House

Jennifer brought a ginger bread house which she received from a friend. Livie had a great time building it with Yee Sum. This is Livie's first gingerbread house. Of course I have to post it.  Thank you Yee Sum!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lemon Ginger Bavarian Cream

Cherry's Ginger Bavarian Cream cake made for Diana's birthday wowed me.  It looked very pretty, very professional looking.  I wasn't going to make it so soon because somehow I thought I had to save up the courage to do it.  Now since my custard buns didn't work out for Mrs. Yip, I had a good reason to try making it, a lot earlier than my plan.

The cake is easy to make but assembly is hard, especially when my loose bottom cake pan is thicker than Cherry's. She gave me detailed instructions on how to put the cake together already, but I still had to modify it a bit to fit my thick cake pan.  Livie wasn't feeling well today so the two of us couldn't go to the dinner.  Without me being there to look after the cake, a lot of the lemon mousse was squeezed out when Ho cut it up.  I think the problem was in the mousse, it was not thick enough.  You can see the lemon mousse became very thin from the picture below. Room for improvement again!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Steamed Egg Custard Peach Shape Buns

I promised Mrs. Yip to make her egg custard bun (流沙奶黃包) for her birthday. I was going to make them in traditional peach shape buns to fit the celebration theme. As the post title explained, it didn’t work. The proofing and shaping was fine, but the dough rose so much in steaming process that they became gigantic buns.


I also made a little hedgehog for fun but since the dough was too thin, all the filling burst out from the spikes. It was such a brutal scene for the little animal that I didn’t bother to take pictures of him.  If I do take pictures, they will look a lot like those from the CSI tv show. Poor thing. Well, I’ll try another recipe next time. I'll make the dough thicker, hopefully I can get a healthy hedgehog from it. Since this bun didn't work, I made Cherry’s invention Lemon Ginger Bavarian Cream cake for Mrs. Yip instead.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Livie loves drawing.  Unlike many other kids, she actually enjoys drawing more than TV.  I was cleaning her treasure box with her over the weekend and found a few great pictures she had drawn recently.  You can tell that she's a happy girl who loves her family a lot from the composition in these pictures - they are colourful and everyone has a smiley face.

I love this one above in particular.  Our whole family are in it and there are loving hearts above us.  The one on the left is me, in glasses with long hair and a dress.  Next to me is daddy, also with glasses in a shirt and highlights in his hair.  Then it's Livie herself with long hair wearing a dress.  Finally Adrian by her side with spiky hair.  All of us look so happy together.

I wonder if Livie will be an interior designer someday.  Even though she's only 5 years old, she has already drawn a house of her own.  Now I know she really wants a cat, but unfortunately mommy is allergic to furry animals so they never asked me if they could keep one.  In her house, the kitchen is on the main floor (you can see the tap and the range hood).  Her walk-in closet is on the same floor.  She has her hand on the door knob getting ready to get in.  Second floor is the computer room with a fire place.  Her bedroom is on the third floor.  Behind the house is her school.  Very convenient location!
This one is Livie's version of Little Mermaid, so cute.    She used similar colours of the original mermaid but applied them on different hairstyle and outfit (no bra top yet, whew!)

There was one I couldn't find but stayed in my mind.  It was a get well soon card she drew for me when I was sick in bed.  She brought it to my bed, speaking softly to me when I was half awake, "This is for you, mommy".  My heart instantly melted.

Adrian is very sweet too.  I was checking Adrian's homework when I read this in his comprehension workbook:
Question: Would you like to visit another planet?  Explain why.
His answer was:
No, because I would miss home.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Caramel Pecan Coffee Cake

From my chocolate class I had some caramel pecans left. Sally, who was assisting in the class that day, suggested me to use them up in a coffee cake. So I did! The cake looks very pretty by itself when I baked it in a Bundt pan. I was a little worried when I mixed in the egg and yogurt in the creamed butter and sugar. The batter looked really lumpy. Luckily, the cake turned out really nice. I reduced the sugar a lot because the caramel was quite sweet already. Everybody likes the cake, some went for second too.

Recipes adapted from All Recipes

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup light yogurt
• 1 cup white sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (reduce if you are using vanilla yogurt)
• 1/3 cup caramel
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease Bundt pan with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in yogurt. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. By hand, fold in the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Spread half of the batter into prepared pan.
3. Combine caramel with pecans. Arrange the mixture on top of the batter. Do not get too close to the sides, otherwise the cake will split when you flip it out.
4. Spread remaining batter on top.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
6. Dust with icing sugar for presentation.

Or you can replace caramel with ¼ cup of brown sugar, ½ tsp of cinnamon, and 1-1.5 tbsp of melted butter to mix with pecan for filling.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ginger Yuzu Macarons

I was doing groceries the other day when I passed by the aisle selling candied ginger. A light bulb appeared above my head: How about ginger macarons? It sounded interesting enough. As I was wondering what filling I should pair it with, Cherry told me about her Yuzu Green Tea Cake. And she had some leftover buttercream for me! Perfect!

I tried to replace some of the icing sugar in the recipe with same weight of almond flour because many people said the macarons were too sweet. It didn’t work. The batter was too thick, causing bumpy tops and the batch was hard to cook. When I asked Chef DeSouza at GB, she said macarons would always be sweet and I could only compensate it with the filling. BTW, Cherry’s Yuzu buttercream was excellent by itself but the ginger overpowered the flavour, so I couldn’t taste much when I ate it with the macarons.

Now, another excuse for me to bake again, but first of all, I have to age the whites again… Then I have to look for recipes to use up the yolks…

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hazelnut Cappuccino Cream Cake

Today is celebration of our dear friends V’s and L’s birthdays. I previously promised L that I would make him a Chestnut Mont Blanc but Hero chestnut puree was out of stock in all stores I checked. Since I purchased hazelnut flour online with my almond flour order recently, and I have always liked the Hazelnut Cappuccino flavour, I decided to make it again. However, I was too tired to do anything else after my Chocolate class yesterday morning, plus the run around from chestnut search, I fell asleep early before I could work on the cake. It was a good move because I had no idea the next day would be so hectic.

After weekly Sunday dim sum with my mom, I picked up buttermilk on my way back home to make the cake. I’ve been wondering if I need to toast hazelnut flour a bit (like what I did when making it from whole hazelnut) before adding it to my recipe. Unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury of time and I sifted it in without the toasting part. Either I didn’t put enough hazelnut flour or I should have toasted it first, I couldn’t taste the nut at all. Luckily I added some caramelized hazelnut on top, otherwise, it would become a simple coffee cream cake. I was so much in a rush that the cream was not whipped to stiff enough stage to support the cake long. Therefore I volunteered to serve the cake. Otherwise, it would have fallen apart. Looked pretty though. Cake texture was moist and spongy. I’ll try it again with toasted hazelnut flour again.

Chef Adrian

Kids pick up whatever the adults do quickly.  My kids know not to touch the food when mommy takes the camera out. Today we had pancakes for breakfast. I let them served themselves with as many pancakes as they wanted. Suddenly Adrian said, “Look at my breakfast creation.” I had to take a picture of it. He asked me, “Can you name it Le Adrian Breakfast?” I said, it should be “le crêpe de Adrian”, he said, “No, le crêpe de Adrianne”. I don’t even know if that name exist, but if he wants it that way, Adrianne it is then.

Of course Livie wanted a picture of her breakfast too. Ok, here’s Livie spooning syrup over her pancakes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I'm so excited!  The almond flour I ordered online arrived today!  Wow, it only took them 2 days to ship to Canada.  They even gave me a free sample pack of chia seeds.  Everything is individually packaged in a resealable bag.  Oh, the flour is so finely chopped...  I so want to bake...  No... I have to control myself.  I've been baking almost every night this week...  I'll definitely order from them again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Closest to Sara Lee Pound Cake

Have you ever felt that you really need to do something regardless how tired you are? With baking, I get this all the time. Tonight I had that feeling again. My husband loves Sara Lee pound cake but I had been searching every site to find the close enough recipe. After copying recipes from dozens of sites, I don’t recall where I got this one anymore but it’s supposed to be an improved version of Elvis’ favourite pound cake recipe. At the same time I wanted to compare the Rose Levy and traditional mixing method. Therefore, I made a double batch making one load with Rose Levy’s one bowl method. It’s supposed to reduce gluten formation in flour to create the melt in your mouth texture.

After the comparison, I like the traditional method more. It might be me, who didn’t do the mixing properly, but Rose’s batter came out quite thick and big holes were trapped in the cake (pictures above), while the traditional method gave me a dense yet smooth cake (pictures at top of the post). Other than holes, as you can tell from my pictures here, there’s not much difference in the texture. From this exercise I also realized the importance of “sifting flour 3 times”. The flour weighed less every time after I sifted it. Hence, the recipe I’m posting here is the weight I measured after sifting the flour thoroughly.

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
3 cups granulated sugar
405g all-purpose flour (Sifted 3 times)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs + 1 yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup whipping cream

1. Butter and flour 2 9by5 inch loaf pans.
2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
3. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or 6 to 8 minutes with a handheld mixer.
4. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition
5. Beat in vanilla.
6. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour, then cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition.
7. Scrape down side of bowl, beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes. Batter will become creamier and satiny.
8. Pour batter in 2 loaf pans and put them in COLD oven at 325F for 1 hour – 1 hour 20 mins.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


The long waited Toy Story 3 Blu-Ray was finally released! Adrian and I were discussing when and where we should buy it from.
Adrian: Did you buy it already?
Me: No, daddy said we should shop around to see where we could get it cheaper. Or we can wait to buy from Blockbuster when they have previewed ones for sale.
Adrian: (His eyes wide opened) Oh yeah! Maybe we should wait until next year to buy it. It will be cheaper because it's old!
Me: Right! But can you wait that long?
Adrian: Only 2 more months and it will be next year!
Me: Oh, right...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Adrian’s Bible Workbook

Adrian brought his bible workbook for me to sign. The title was “Learn to Obey”. Here are some fill in the blanks on the sheet:
I learn to obey to God by:
Being kind to others.
I learn to obey at school by:
Being quiet.
I learn to obey at home by:
Not punching Olivia.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hazelnut Chocolate Ganache Macarons

It was too late at night when I made these. I was paranoid when I whipped the egg whites because I didn’t want to waste the whites which I had aged for a week in the fridge. When the recipe specified “firm, but not too stiff”, I under whipped the whites. The result was of course flat macarons. More practices required!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Getting Intellectual

1) For Adrian’s daily reading assignment, he’s supposed to do reading for at least 15 mins everyday. He can pick whatever comics, magazines, or books. Last night, he took a magazine from our bathroom. He said, “it may sound weird to u but I’m reading Today’s Parents for my reading today.” When I asked him why. He said,

“They have a topic on ‘Top Toys – Kids Tested.”

2) Livie was grocery shopping with me. Suddenly she asked me, “Mommy, do you know how people say “.com” in Chinese?”

I was really curious. Livie’s Chinese level is only up to general conversation, I could never imagine she would know something so much on the technology side. I was waiting for what she’s going to say.

Me: What is it in Chinese then?
Olivia: Dot CA!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Oolong Vanilla Macarons

Finally after putting it off for over a month, I made my oolong vanilla macarons last night. the baking part is so so only because there r hollows in the macarons. I think I over baked them this time. They have feet though. taste is fine. Just a touch of oolong tea in the after taste. Very interesting. Buttercream is a disaster. I should have added more vanilla. Now it’s too bland. In fact, I think the vanilla flavour didn’t go very well with the tea. Oh well, I’ll think of sth else next time. However, when I brought them back for Cherry and my instructor at GB to try, my instructor actually said they were very good and even better than some of those she had bought at bakery shops before. Hmm… maybe I was too harsh on myself. Her comment really boosted my confidence and I`m ready for more macarons!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Banana Banana Bread

Daniel is leaving us!

Daniel is a sweet boy. He joined the company about 2 years ago after he graduated from university. I was helping out at another position at the time and that position was split into 2 jobs later. He was hired to do one of those 2 jobs. Naturally I was the one to train him. I sat with him everyday within his first 2 weeks in the company. He’s like a little brother to me. It’s funny that another coworker who sits beside him wrote on the farewell card saying that Daniel is like her second son. Daniel, you are a family to everyone! Everybody likes him. Therefore, when he asked me if I could make him a banana bread, he got what he wanted.

I had never had success in making banana bread before. I don’t usually eat it so I don’t know how it’s supposed to be like. However, when 5,500 people said it’s a good recipe, I’ll take their word for it. It is a heavy loaf. Heavy in weight but not heavy in taste. In fact the fruit flavor was very refreshing. There is so much banana in the recipe that it is called "Banana Banana Bread". It is not a typo in my post title. Yet I would reduce the banana a little to 2 cups next time because I found some of them sunk to the bottom. I couldn't whisk the batter further as I didn’t want to overmix the batter. Otherwise it might harden the texture and make it dry too.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup butter
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 2 cups mashed overripe bananas

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 65 - 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon Take 2

It’s a long story.

People says the famous Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon is very complicated to do, but since I like cooking so much, I don’t mind going through a little trouble to do it. I made it and took it to my in-laws’ house for Auntie 10’s farewell dinner. We ended up having too much food so we had to take the stew home. Don’t misunderstand, it tasted good, just that other food were made by another aunt and those were expensive dishes, of course we had to eat those first.

Here’s the main part of the story: When Ho took the pot out from the car, he tripped over the stairs at the garage and spilled the whole thing! I mean, not a single drop left. It was midnight, the 2 of us had to pick up the beef, drive the car out, wash the floor, etc. It was 12:30am. I went back to the kitchen to continue packing Adrian’s lunch, leaving Ho outside to do the final tidy up. Suddenly I heard a big bang on the door. I opened the door and saw him in pain with blood on his leg. He tripped again! I dropped everything to help him clean the wound, then went out to the garage again to brush the water out ensuring no raccoon will come for my stew. When I finished, it’s 1:30am.

I wasn’t upset about the spill, I was actually worried why Ho could be so tired to trip himself twice. I also felt that it was a waste without others tasting it. Luckily I didn’t put all ingredients in the stew because we had too much food. I made the stew again the next day (that`s why my title of this post calls it "Take 2") and invited D over for dinner. I like having friends over. It’s in my genes, my mom used to host big dinner gatherings all the time. Of course, we can’t do that frequently because of our small house size, besides, I have to admit that I don’t really know how to do housework. It’s embarrassing to say that we can only invite close friends who can stand our messy place to come.

After making the dish twice, I realize how important the wine is.  At first I used a bottle of red wine we got from a wedding.  The stew was a little sour so I adjusted the taste with some rock sugar.  The second time I used a red wine given to us by a friend.  The sourness was gone. 

Since I modified Julia’s recipe to simplify the steps, it will take me some time to type the recipe. I have to post it later.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Green Tea Tofu No Bake Cheesecake

Made this for my friend Angel’s birthday. I was going to make Japanese Cheesecake but when I mentioned Japanese, Vincent asked, “Is it green tea?” Oh, ok, I’ll give it a try. I followed a couple of recipes but I was not happy with the texture. It’s too late to buy a cake, so my poor group of friends became my guinea pigs again. They were all very nice and polite when they said, “It’s a good cake”. They didn’t complain… (in front of me). Adrian was honest, as usual. He said, “It’s the worst cake I’ve ever had!” To be fair, the taste is not that bad. Since he loves cheese, he can’t relate green tea with cheesecake. I do agree there is lots of room for improvement though. Sorry Angel!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Egg Custard Buns 奶皇餐包 & Sausage Buns 腸仔包

Wow, 腸仔包 post from Chi Chi's Kitchen looks very yummy, I want to try making them too! I checked the fridge, all I was missing was the sausage. Ho, who was out for a meeting, naturally became my delivery man. Traditional homemade bread tends to dry up quickly the next day. Since my Tang Zhong Toast gave me big confidence in the method, while I was waiting for Ho, I searched again for 湯種餐包 (Tang Zhong Bread) recipe because my skill is not advanced enough to make up my own. When Ho returned with the sausage, he asked me if I could make 奶皇餐包 Egg Custard Bun too. It's too late at night! I had to try it the following day. These pictures were taken on 2 different days.

When I took the sausage bun back to the office for breakfast, here are the reactions:
Is it fake?
You mean you made the sausage?
Wow, it’s so big that you can eat it for dinner.

Aren’t my colleagues nice? They were all guys. All my girl colleagues said, “It looks so pretty!”

I tried using the dough starter from my Tang Zhong Toast in Carol’s recipe. It made the dough too wet after baking. I had to stick to Carol’s original one. Even though it will be dense the next day, but once you reheat it in microwave, it’ll be soft and moist as long as you don’t put it in for too long.


Egg Custard Filling Ingredients:

(a) All Purpose Flour 15g
Corn Starch 15g
Vanilla Custard Powder 30g

(b) Evaporated Milk 130ml
Heavy Cream 170ml

(c) Egg Yolk 1pc

(d) Sugar 40g

Melted Butter 15g


  1. Sift (a) together, mix well.
  2. Add 5-6 tbsp of (b) mixture and mix until smooth.
  3. Add egg yolk. Stir until no white powder can be seen.
  4. Add (d), mix well.
  5. Put remaining (b) mixture to boil. Pour it to (4).
  6. Keep stirring until there's no more lumps. Steam mixture in a wide container for 20 - 25 mins.
  7. Leave it cool and knead with hand to a smooth dough.
  8. Take 280g from the filling and put the rest in refrigerator.
  9. Cut the filling into 8 pieces of 35g each. Make sure you don't press them too hard.
Bread dough Ingredients:

A) Tang Zhong / Dough Starter (This will make more than what you need in one batch)

Bread Flour 50g
Water 100ml
Milk 150ml

B) Main Dough

Bread Flour 230g
Cake Flour 70g
Sugar 30g
Instant Dry Yeast 1 - 1 1/2 tsp (see instructions below)
Salt 1/2 tsp
Egg 1pc
Water 15ml
Heavy Cream 80ml

Unsalted Butter 30g
Tang Zhong 100g


  1. Cook ingredients (A) in pot on low heat, whisk until a paste formed. Scrape it to a large mixing bowl.
  2. When (A) is cooled, add ingredients (B) excluding water and butter to the bowl of stand mixer. Start mixing. It will be very sticky.
  3. After everything well mixed, add water. Keep kneading until the water is evenly mixed in.
  4. Add butter. After kneading in high speed for 10 mins, all moisture should be absorbed and the dough should be smooth.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball, put it in a slightly greased bowl, seam side down. Cover with plastic and leave it in a warm place.
  6. After 50-60 mins, size of the dough should be about doubled. (If you are not in a hurry, use 1 tsp and flavour of flour will come out better, but it will take you at least 1 1/2 hrs for the size to double.) Punch it down and knead a few times on a lightly floured surface to remove bubbles.
  7. The dough should weigh about 600g. Separate it into 8 pieces of about 75g each.
  8. Sausage Roll: Shape small doughs into long strips of 25 cm long. Roll 3 rounds for each sausage end side down. Put them on parchment lined baking tray and cover with damp towel for second proof.
  9. Custard Bun: Shape small doughs into balls, cover with damp towel for second proof. After proofing, press dough to flat and put custard filling in centre, seal and shape into ball again. Put them on baking tray with sausage rolls.
  10. Brush proofed doughs with egg wash.
  11. Put tray in preheated 350F oven, middle rack for 18 - 20 mins.

After a few days, I made braided bread simply with the Tang Zhong toast recipe. It worked fine only without the taste of egg. I have to adjust the temperature and timing too. The bottom was a little dry. Oh well, another excuse for me to bake again!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A few from Livie

1) Journal

Livie was very excited to tell me that she started to write journal at school, just like Adrian. I could tell that she felt like a bigger kid because of this new work.
Me: I can't wait to read it! What did you write?
Olivia: I wrote about our trip to New York. I told the teacher about the gigantic Ferris Wheel.
Me: Wow, that's great! You know the word "gigantic"? How did you spell it?
Olivia: Oh, I didn't write that word.

2)  A few more bites
Livie has not been eating well in the past 2 years. We have to negotiate how many more bites she has to eat at the end of every meal. It's dinner time again...
Olivia: Mommy, how many more bites do you want me to eat, eight?
Me: Sure, you'll be a very good girl if you can eat eight more bites.
Olivia: Ok, let's start counting from 4.
Me: ...

3) After dinner
Livie loves it when I hold her upside down.  She requested it again today after dinner.
Me: No, you're going to throw up.
Olivia: I'll close my mouth.
Once again, I'm speechless.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Introduction to Chocolate (Part I)

After the Art of Cakes – Classic to Modern, I told myself, “I need a break! No more baking class in the next 6 months!" Then Cherry asked me if I wanted to take Introduction to Chocolate with her. Do I really like chocolate? I’m not a chocolate fan, but I do want to use chocolate to decorate my cakes sometimes. I struggled a little bit before asking Ho for his “blessing”. After a series of “please, please, please…”, he asked, “Are you really going to take a break after this class?” I said, “… maybe I can take Cake Decorating next year.” Heehee… we’ll see about that.

So, here I am, taking a professional course at Geroge Brown – Introduction to Chocolate. When I read the syllabus, it gave me a nice surprise. Not only do they temper chocolate to make decorations, they utilize the method to make all sorts of cakes and desserts. I love this course! There are a lot of first timers at GB in this course, Cherry and I, being in the 4th course, should be more experienced comparatively… but no, we failed in the first 2 weeks! Luckily this course is not graded. The chocolate ganache cake and cranberry almond bark were all a mess! The cake fell apart, the bark became a bulk of chocolate and we had to cut them in cubes! Luckily our confidence came back when we did the chocolate dipped biscotti and strawberries, the truffles were successful too, whew! The course is really hard!