Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lemon Garlic Pepper Chicken

It's not easy to make dinner by a sick person like me.  I needed to find the easiest way to make a quick dinner yet appealing to the little bosses at home.  After my doctor appointment, I went to look for ideas from the Chinese grocery store.  At first I wanted to make wonton, no, too much work, not a good idea for a sick person to wrap them either.  Then I saw the free run chicken which reminded me a recipe I saw on Tastespotting.  I decided to give it a try.

Oops, I got home and realized I had forgotten to buy garlic, one of the important ingredients.  Since Ho was stuck in the house for the whole day, I asked him to drive out and get them.  When he handed me the garlic, I asked him, "Are we also catching a vampire tonight?"  He bought so many!  I asked for 2 bulbs and he got me two bags!

He dropped off the garlic and drove out for a coffee.  He's a person who hates the feeling of getting stuck in one place.  I went on to separate the garlic with the help of a knife.  Ouch!  I cut my fingers, two of them, first time in my cooking life had I ever cut my hand!  The blood was pumping out.  I asked Adrian to call daddy.  He dialed the wrong number!  Some lady picked up the phone and Adrian just yelled, "Mommy cut her hand!"  The lady kept saying, "What?  What?"  She must be thinking, "Should I call the police for the kid?"  Then I told Adrian to tell her he had dialed the wrong number.  Now it's Adrian's turn to ask me, "What? What?"  While pressing on my fingers under water to clean and stop the bleeding, I could only tell him to hang up.  Finally he called daddy's cell phone.   Ho drove back to help me with the wound.  Then he helped me stuffed the chicken and tied it out.

Livie saw us tying the chicken.  She said, "What are you doing with the yarn?"  Ho explained that the string was used to hold the chicken and avoid the stuffing from spilling out, and we would roast the chicken with it.  Then she said, "This is our first time eating yarn..."  She is so cute.

The chicken turned out to be a great success.  The skin was crispy, meat was juicy.  Only the backbone part was a little rare.  The juice was flavourful.  We dipped the chicken breast in the juice.  It's not tough at all.  Adrian couldn't get enough of it.  I roasted it at 390F.  I may do it 395F next time just to get the back bone part cooked.  It's just so little that I think 5F should do it.  I also reduced the black pepper to 1 tbsp only because the kids will find it too spicy.  Actually 1 tbsp is too much for them to eat the skin.  Without the skin, the taste was just right.  I'll definitely make this again.

Croissants - Breakfast Bread Week#3

I was so sick on Friday that I had to leave work after finishing the period reports.  It was noon only.  I thought, I really need some rest, otherwise I will have to miss baking class and Cherry will be all by herself.  Breakfast Bread is an energy consuming class. It'd be hard to do the dough all by one person.  So I slept for 5 hrs in the afternoon, another 6 hours at night.  It was still not enough for me, but I was determined to attend class.  The result?  I almost fainted in class because I was wearing a mask and the baking lab was exceptionally hot that morning.  I needed air!  I ended up rolling my dough improperly so my croissants looked weird.  I tore one of Cherry's proofing croissants, and I forgot to add the eggs in our dough for next week's danish class.  Luckily Cherry saw the eggs on the table and added them to the dough before it's too late.  Wow, Cherry's croissants were so perfect looking.  Mine?  I went home to cut them up, some of them were hollow!  It happened when I only rolled the sides of the dough, the centre was almost untouched.  So those ones made with sides of the dough were not proofed properly to the right size.  They looked so bad that it's too embarrassing to post the picture here.  Here's one of the better ones.

I also did a batch with cheese.  Most of them were hollow.  The outside looks ok, the shape is nothing compared to Cherry's.  Even though croissant is not my favourite, I may just do it one more time to make them right for once.

I better recover soon, otherwise, I'm sure Cherry won't register other classes with me ever again!  Who would expect on the same night, I even cut my fingers!  I'm really sick!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Weekend of Failure

Finally there’s a long weekend which we would stay home most of the days.  I decided to do some gardening and baking.  On Saturday Ho asked if I could make him some little goodies to bring to his male bonding gathering at a friend’s house.  I flipped through Tony Wong’s recipe books and found one which seems to be the easiest to make – a chocolate chestnut log.  Simple ingredients, short instructions.  Yet, the chestnut puree I bought was too sweet and not thick enough.  The chestnut cream didn’t hold the shape well.  The cake batter somehow was too runny too.  Luckily the texture was fine, just couldn’t see the piped lines before and after baking.  Taste was ok, except the chestnut cream.  I’ll buy another brand next time.  Ho said his friends thought the chestnut and chocolate was a good mix.  Maybe I can do a layer cake with the same combination…


Aggressively I bought 6 bags of soil and 1 bag of grass repair kit on Sunday, hoping I can save my dying lawn.  Livie got a little fever, Adrian is still on antibiotics, and Ho suddenly got a suspicious running nose.  While they all stayed in the house to rest, I continued with my gardening plan.  Before I went out, I prepared another Hokkaido Milky Loaf for proofing.  Wow, I was jumping on the shuffle in order to loosen a little bit of soil.  After laying the soil and some grass seeds, I felt my arms were not mine. Ho opened the door and shouted, “It was already 7pm!”  Oh no, I haven’t even finished all the area I wanted to do and I’m late for the BBQ at my sis’ place, and the dough must be over proofed!  As expected, the dough was 1.5 times as high as the loaf pan.  I quickly took a shower, cover the dough in pan with saran wrap and drove to my sis’ place with Ho and the kids.  The electronic thermometer fell on the covered dough and brought it back to normal size. J  I was so rushed that I forgot to brush the dough with egg wash again!


Victoria Day Monday, all plans were cancelled because Livie’s temperature was still high.  I called Richmond Hill Kids Walk-In Clinic, thank God they are open!  Before we left the house, Livie’s temperature was 105.7F.  Luckily the doctor didn’t feel we need to panic, he took some specimens in her throat and sent Livie for a urine test.  We just have to monitor her condition for now and keep giving her Tylenol and Advil.  Seems like she needs both drugs every time she has a fever now.  This is the 3rd time her temperature went up that high.  Livie had no appetite, so the rest of us ate at Hero Burger on our way home.  While Livie was resting and Adrian finished his studying, both of them started their TV marathon, I started to make my first ever macarons.  I chose to follow the William Sonoma hazelnut recipe from my newly bought recipe book.  They look easy to make yet it’s hard to make them look like proper ones.  I couldn’t get the feet on my macarons.  The top was not as smooth as it should be either.  The taste was great though. 

Ho couldn’t wait to put ice cream in between for a macaron ice cream sandwich.  

Then he suggested to put the leftover chestnut cream as filling.  

Yet I find the chestnut over powered the hazelnut.  Scratch that idea then.  I didn’t have time to make the chocolate ganache like the book suggested, I simply spread a thin layer of Nutella and the taste was perfect for me.  Here they are, don’t look good, but taste good.  I brought some back to the office and people all enjoyed them a lot.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Train of Thoughts

When all four members of the family are in the car, usually both kids occupy most of the talking time.  Same case this time.  I’d been trying to say something but couldn’t get my first word started.  Very soon I forgot what I wanted to say.  Ho had taught them the phrase “Train of thoughts” before, so he decided to remind them about this phrase.

Ho: Kids, you guys are talking non-stop.  Mommy can’t even remember what she wanted to say now.  What do we call this again?  Mommy has lost her… what?

Both kids finally stopped talking and started to think.  Livie tried to answer first.

Olivia: Her patience?

Ho: Good try, not that though.  Adrian, do you remember?

Adrian thought for a little while and said, “Her mind?

Ho: No, but probably very soon…

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sore Throat Spray

I was developing a sore throat when I was in Hong Kong.  My aunt gave me a spray to help relieving the pain.  I explained to Adrian that I should not talk for a few minutes after I had sprayed it in my throat.  Later in the day, Adrian was so caring to remind me to do the spray.  Then he said:

“Any last words?”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hokkaido Milky Loaf

My husband has been bugging me on making Japanese white bread.  I googled it and realized a lot of people were looking for the recipe too.  Someone posted this site, and wow, what a great collection!

The original recipe was enough to make 2 loaves.  Here's my modified version for one 9" loaf:


  • 270 g Bread flour
  • 30 g Cake flour
  • 5 g Dry active yeast
  • 15 g Milk powder
  • 40 g Sugar
  • 5 g Salt
  • 1 pc egg
  • 125 ml Fresh milk
  • 75 ml Whipping cream


  1. Sift all dry ingredients except salt together.
  2. Warm milk and whipping cream to 40C.
  3. Add #2 milk mixture to yeast in large mixing bowl.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of dry ingredients on #3 milk mixture and leave it aside without moving it.
  5. Once the flour starts to crack, about 20 mins, add remaining dry ingredients plus salt and start kneading with electric mixer.
  6. Add the egg.
  7. After 5 mins of kneading, scrape bowl and knead for 1-2 mins.
  8. Shape dough into ball and cover with damp cloth.  Proof until double in size.
  9. Punch down dough and knead a few times.
  10. Shape it into a log and put in a greased 9" loaf pan. Let it proof to at least same height of the pan or a little taller.  Mine took almost 3 hours!

 11. Brush with egg wash or milk. (I forgot about this part)

 12. Bake in preheated 340F oven for 35 mins.

Tip: Check after 10 mins, if it starts getting too brown, cover it with foil.

I added a little too much flour when I finished the dough.  The bread was a little dense and not as moist as I wanted it to be but the taste is good and close enough to those from J-Town.  I'll try it again with exactly the same as what I wrote above and see.

Future - Livie's version

We were having dinner together, Livie said to me:

Olivia: Mommy, when you are very old, I'll help you.

Me: Thank you, Livie.  How old will I be when you help me?

Olivia: When you are old and cannot walk, I'll help you.

Me:  I see.  How will you help me?

Olivia: I will buy you walking stick or wheel chair.  I see all old people need that.

Then she told me that she saw an old person using both walking stick and wheel chair at the same time.  She thought it was very funny.

Not sure why suddenly both my kids thought about me getting old.  Do I really look that old?  I think it's because we met a lot of older relatives when we were in Hong Kong who make them think people getting old.  At least this is my wishful thinking :-).

澳洲牛奶公司 (Australian Dairy Company) Scramble eggs lookalike?

Within my trip to Hong Kong, I have enjoyed some food which I’d really like to try making them at home.  Tonkatsu was one, scramble egg was the other.  I have a dozen eggs in the fridge, should be enough to for my experiment.  Besides, I have a pretty good idea of what I need to make them as smooth as those I ate at 澳洲牛奶公司 (Australian Dairy Company).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Muji Japanese Chiffon Cake

I don’t usually use cake mix since I believe everything tastes better when it’s homemade.  Jennifer, my sister-in-law, bought me this Chiffon Cake mix from Japan.  Of course I want to try it.  Japanese bakeries make amazing cakes.  I used my limited Japanese learned from years ago to read the ingredients and instructions.  Luckily I could understand core part of it and managed to make the cake successfully.  It was really easy to do.  The package even includes a paper mold.  The cake was very soft and had a strong egg taste.  I wonder how we can achieve the same result by making it from scratch…

Chelsea Buns - Breakfast Bread Week #2

It was a busy morning for Cherry and I.  We had to do both chelsea buns and the coissant dough for next class.  I had never heard of chelsea bun until this course.  So it is a spin of cinnamon bun with honey and butter glaze inside, cherries and pecans on top.  We also put blackcurrents inside.  Since both Cherry and I are not big fans of cherries, we only put cherries on one of the bun pans.  We also put the minimal amount of glaze and cinnaman sugar inside to ensure it's not as sweet as those cinnimon buns we see out there in the stores. 

It was actually the coissant dough in second half of the class that wore us out.  Hope it will turn out ok next class.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Had a very nice Tonkatsu meal when I was in Hong Kong. I thought, "Can I make pork chops like this?"  Just so happened that CitySuper had free recipes for customers to promote their products, and they had pork chop cutlets recipe available too.  I wouldn't recommend people to pick up all free recipes from there because some don't show all basic ingredients.  For example, they have "cream puff mix", or "pound cake mix", not much help for me.  However, since they are only promoting the dipping sauce in their cutlet recipe, I can follow the instructions to handle the pork chops.

One special trick it listed was to use low gluten flour (cake flour) to cover the meat before dipping it in egg and then panko (Japanese bread crumbs).  It didn't explain why but I did it and the batter was very fluffy and crunchy.  I didn't completely follow the marinade ingredients.  I kind of combined what I learned from different people to mix the seasoning together.  It's a success!


4 - 6 fast fry pork loin centre cut (Fast fry is thinner slices so it will be cooked before the the batter is burnt)

1 tbsp mirin

1/2 tsp vinegar (this will tenderize the pork)

1/2 tsp sugar (just to cover up the sour taste from vinegar)

salt and pepper

one egg, beaten

low gluten flour (I sifted it first to get rid of the lumps)

panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

vegetable oil

sesame oil

lettuce, tomatoes, lemon for sides

Katsu sauce from Kikkoman


1 Cut small incisions into the surface o the pork particularly in the muscle and fat areas.  Doing this will prevent the pork cutlets from shrinking in size when it's heated. You can cut them into 3" size if each slice is too big.

2 Hit the pork with back of knife to tenderize the meat.  Marinade the pork for at least 1 hour.

3 Prepar flour, beaten egg, and panko.  Coat the pork with flour and shake off the excess.

4 Dip the pork into the beaten egg.

5 Put bread crumbs all over the pork.  Secure bread crumbs by patting.

6 Here's one trick from TV:  Heat vegetable oil and a few drops of sesame oil in it.

7 Slide pork cutlets into hot oil. (Original recipe says 170C, but I don't have a cooking thermometer.  I just saw the oil "moved" around in the pot quickly and I put in the meat and turned down the heat to medium to medium high.)

8 Since it's fast fry pork loin, as soon as you see the batter turned light goldenbrown colour, you can remove the pork to a stand to drain off the excess grease. Otherwise the meat will be too dry.

9 Cut them up in long slices.  Garnish with shredded lettuce, lemon wedges, and tomatoes slices.

I think it doesn't need much Katsu sauce.  The flavour is good by itself.  Adrian experimented different dipping ways and told me that one light dip on each end of the slice would be perfect.



I was making dinner tonight when Adrian said to me:

Adrian: Mommy, I think I'll miss you a lot when you are dead.

Me: Oh... thank you, I'll miss you too.

Adrian: I'll want to come to visit you in heaven.  Can I?

Me: Of course!  But you don't have to hurry because mommy wants you to live longer, healthy, and happily ever after.

Adrian:  I''ll do a lot of good things so I can go to heaven to see you.

Me:  Good!

Adrian: Mommy, I want you to live for a long long time...

Me:  If I live a long time, I'll be very old.  There will be things which I can't do myself, I'll need someone to take care of me.  Will you?

Adrian:  Yes, I will!

Me:  Then you'll have to study well, learn a lot, be a useful person, and make enough money to look after us.

Adrian:  I will!  I'll give you all my money so you'll be rich.

Me:  Wow, you're so nice.

Adrian: But then I'll be very poor.

Me: No, you won't be.  Besides, mommy will save the money up for you. Then I can give it back to you when you need it...

Haha, I love talking to my kids!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Report

Even though Adrian and Livie had done some worksheet at the hotel but they still missed a lot of school work because of this HK trip.  I tried to get them to do as many as possible before school days resume tomorrow.  I saw Adrian did a book report.  He answered each guiding question with a short answer, usually one sentence only.  Yet the end of the instructions says that the student is supposed to do a 5-min speech to present the report.

Me: Adrian, how can you do a 5-min speech with so few words?

Adrian: I’ll just say the words slowly.

I couldn’t stop laughing for a long time.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Brioche - Breakfast Bread Week #1

When I told people that my Breakfast Bread class would start on the  morning after I had returned from Hong Kong, everyone said I was crazy.  It turned out that I was wide awake since 5:45am.  I didn't feel sleepy until I drove back home.

Our instructor is Chef Torrens.  A lady who has been in the business for almost 20 years.  When Cherry and I arrived, only the farthest 2 tables away from the demonstration table were left.  It's hard to hear her sometimes.  Luckily Chef T came over to check with us very frequently to ensure we got everything right.

This is a much faster group compared to our Baking Arts.  Guess most people are more experienced. The team who shared our table are both working in the industry already.  Considering I was usually the slowest one in Baking Arts, I have to wind up myself to a faster mode and arrive earlier to class for ingredients measurement.

Chef T let us try her brioches, wow, they were so good that the egg and lemon flavour burst out as soon as we tore it apart.  Even though the butter content is high, yet, it's not too greasy when we held it with our fingers, or, maybe it's just how I want to believe it is. :-)  Anyhow, it's very easy to make.  Just need to clarify with chef T on the regular active yeast amount equivalent to the yeast cake we used in class.

Livie's brioche cheese burger!

Friday, May 7, 2010

On the flight back

Finally the last day in Hong Kong.  I kept my promise by taking the kids to the hotel restaurant for buffet breakfast.  All they wanted was rice crispies with milk.  That’s a HK$98 per kid buffet man!  They just enjoyed the freedom of going out to the food table to take whatever they wanted.  Luckily the manager was so kind not to charge us for Livie.  Well, anybody can tell she doesn’t eat much.  She’s so tiny.  Ho didn’t join us because he had to do the last minute shopping, ha!

We were on the plane back to Toronto.  There were a lot of kids on the plane.  Wow, there were a brother and his little sister, should be younger than 2 years old because she didn’t occupy a seat.  They were fighting 70% of the flight.  The sister was constantly crying and the brother was constantly yelling at her.  I felt so bad for those sitting around them.  Strange thing was, they were sitting with their mommy and their daddy was sitting at one row behind.  If I were the one sitting beside the mommy and kids, I would have offered to exchange seat with the daddy so he could help to separate the kids.  Well, maybe there’s a reason I don’t know.  Anyway, compared to those kids, Adrian and Livie were so quiet and well behaved.  Livie was a little grumpy because she was tired but didn’t have enough room to stretch and sleep.  She was fine most of the time.  She had a comment about the airplane when I took her to the washroom.  I accidentally hit her head with my elbow.

Olivia: Mommy, did you know your elbow hit me?

Me: I’m sorry, but we don’t have much room when 2 of us are in the washroom.

Olivia: Why do they make the washroom so small when the plane is so big?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sales Admin Team Reunion

Finally got a chance to check out one of those baking utensil shops that Cherry told me about.  This one is in Causeway Bay.  A little bit disappointed because the prices are not as low as I was expecting them to be.  Yet, it is a real one-stop shop for bakers.   I only picked a few items which may not be available in Toronto. 

Very excited to see my ex-colleagues from Hutchison at dinner tonight.  The kids were also happy to eat with their kid friend Tim, Auntie Peggy, Jo and 2 uncles.  So we went separate ways for dinner.  Everybody looks the same after 12 years J.  So happy to see everyone is doing well.  I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures with them!  Just because of this, I have to make sure I’ll return to Hong Kong soon for this picture opportunity again!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spa at Peninsula - updated post

Realized I forgot to include an important component of the spa treat.  So here's the updated version:

It’s my birthday and Ho treated me with a half day spa at Peninsula Hotel.  I was surprised to know the price was so reasonable.  Only about Cdn$100 more than a regular spa here in Toronto.  Yes, it's still expensive but you're getting a half day at the world class 6-star hotel including a pool side lunch!  What a deal.

It started with a small cup of ginger tea.  Their staff will never let you look up to them.  They will always squat when they need to talk to you.  After checking in, I was brought to the changing room to change into their robe.  Then the girl took me to the steam room and sauna.  In between there was a shower which had 3 settings: Tropical Rain, Cool Mist, and Body Jet.  Each sprayed water in different speed with different scent.  Loved it!  I thought the cool mist would be cold but it was just right.  The sauna room had a window facing the harbour.  After that I went to the harbour view relaxation room with adjustable beds, magazines and a fridge filled with complementary water, mango yogurt drink and berry smoothies.  Finally the masseur first greeted me with "Happy Birthday" when she came to take me to a private room for massage and facial.  Again, she squatted when explaining the products to me.  As expected, I fell asleep even before the facial started!  It was so relaxing!  The masseur wrote me a birThen I went back to the check in counter and the girl asked me if I wanted to have lunch in the robe or get changed first.  I thought, probably many people will be in swimming suit or robe, so I decided to change after lunch.  What a nice pool they have, covered with a panaramic view of the harbour.  It's a 3-course meal with fresh juice and tea or coffee.  I chose pan seared scallop on bed of greens, steamed chicken breast with mushroom sauce, and whole wheat strawberry shortcake with blood orange sorbet.  When the dessert came, a lit candle was on the sorbet and the waiter greeted me happy birthday again.  I could only finish half of the entree and dessert.  Even though they tried to provide a healthy light menu, but the smoothie from the relaxation room was quite filling already.  Wow, what a full half day.  Thank you daddy!  Too bad only hotel and spa guests are allowed so he couldn't join me for lunch.

Ho came to pick me up after the spa and we went to Heritage 1881 to take some pictures.   Then we met up with Jenn and Francis to look for Tony Wong’s patisserie and Tse Ling’s cookies in Kowloon City.  Luckily Jenn remembered the street name.  Even though we went the wrong way, but once we asked someone at a store on the street, he easily pointed out the direction to us, probably lots of people asked him before.

We went to Tse Ling’s Cookies Quartet first, wow, there was a line up to outside of the store.  Then we thought it might be a good idea to check out Tony Wong first.  Same thing!  Another long line up to outside.  So we decided to separate into 2 groups to do line up.  Tse Ling’s cookies got so very interesting flavours.  Quite light too.  Best thing is they let you try every single flavour before buying.  That’s good and you can tell they have confidence in their products.  Then we went to Tony Wong’s Patisserie.  The cakes exceeded my expectation.  They’re so good and not too sweet at all.  I bought his cookbooks at the store and asked if Tony’s in the store.  To my surprise he was there and even signed autograph on both books for me!  Yeah!

At night we had dinner at Ho’s uncle’s place.  His domestic helpers are good cooks!  The food was so yummy and they even made their own shredded pork with lean pork from soup.  I didn’t count the number of people there but it was one big birthday party for me.

What a special birthday it was this year!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Squid Gang Reunion

So excited to see my high school friends in Hong Kong.  It’s been 12 years since I last saw them.  They’re my best friends.  There are some friends in your life who you’ll always feel close to even though you have not been keeping in touch with frequently.  We spent the most important teenager days in high school together, our values are similar.  No matter how long we have been apart or how far we are away, we can always have things to talk about.  It’s like I never had left.  I was so surprised that they remembered my birthday and had a cake ready for me.  I knew there’d be a cake but didn’t expect it to be a birthday cake. Too bad Nicole wasn’t able to join us.  With her, that will be the perfect reunion.  We still had a great time at Christine’s place though. 

Can’t believe the buildings are so high in Hong Kong now.  I used to live on the 29th floor and I was bragging about touching the clouds sometimes.  Now the normal residential buildings can reach 60th floor or higher.  Beyond my imagination!