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!

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Real Road Trip

It’s Thanksgiving weekend. A few friends wanted to go to visit the only UNIGLO store in North America, which is in New York City. Of course Ho, being a “funaholic” and “fashionholic”, wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity. Our friends were very brave to invite us to join their 3 nights and 3 days trip to New York, as this would be the first ever long road trip for the kids. We are not talking about 2 hours to Niagara, it’s a 9-hour drive. Honestly, with our experience in Hong Kong, I believe my kids would behave “most” of the time. Yet still, riding in a van is quite different from on a plane where you can walk around.

The kids were very excited. We wanted them feel in charge of something, so we asked them to be responsible for the road entertainment department. After serious consideration, the 2 of them picked one DVD – Spy Kids. When I suggested other ones to take, they both answered, “We don’t want to lose it…” Great! We’re stuck in the van watching one movie for 9 hours.

It’s a brilliant idea to depart on Thursday. Even though we left our house at 7pm, after picking up D, Lou, and V on the way, by 9pm, we were at the border with no traffic at all. I made some smoked salmon sandwiches with my beloved Tang Zhong Toast Bread so we can save eating time too. I think it was about 2am when we arrived at the first stop. We only needed to stop once before then because Adrian woke up with his sleepy legs. He was going to throw a tantrum but Ho got him controlled by taking him out for fresh air. The kids were wide awake when we checked in the hotel at 2:30am. I only remembered asking them to brush their teeth before going to bed. Luckily they both went back to bed quite quickly after.

The theme of our first full day Friday was shopping of course. I was quite worried about what the kids could do for the day when we drove by the shops. You can’t imagine how relieved I was when I saw the big Scholastics store across the street of Uniglo. The kids and I spent at least 2 hours there reading and watching the Magic School Bus video while daddy shopped for deals in different stores.

Finally we got to see the Statue of Liberty on Saturday! It’s very tiny looking at it from the pier but we’re there to see it, not from TV or pictures! This was also Fifth Avenue day. Ho and I so wanted to bring the kids to FAO Schwartz. They went wild when they got on the Big Piano. Ho purposely showed them the movie before coming to New York. Livie loved the design your own Barbie computer and the fashion show too. Somehow Adrian fell in love with the life saber from Star Wars. He played with it whenever he saw it at the toy stores. It was so funny when I saw them playing with it and making their own sound effects. We also went to the American Girls store. I was waiting for Livie to ask me to buy her one, but she actually wasn’t even interested. She said, “They look so fat.” Oh my, no wonder she doesn’t eat well. She has weight control in her mind already!

On Sunday I took the kids with me following D, L, and V while Ho went back to Uniglo the 3rd time in 3 days! On our way to the 90K sq ft Forever 21 store at Time Square, we passed a huge Toys R Us store. Looked a like a lot was going on there. So I brought the kids in. Wow, it’s a flagship store with a 3-storey high Ferris wheel built on the basement and a live size moving T-Rex on the second floor! You can tell they really know how to do business because there was toy demonstration in every 10-ft diameter area. How can you not spend any money in the store? End up, the uncles and auntie came to look for us at Toys R Us too after their disappointing visit to the Forever 21 store.

We made one more stop at Muji and then we headed back to Toronto. We had a great time in this trip, seems like everyone got what they wanted in NYC. Apart from clothing for himself, Ho also bought me some very nice clothes and my favourites are the HeatTech undershirts from Uniglo! Kids went to one big toy store everyday, they were happy too. Luckily we found these toy stores so little feet of Livie’s can rest because we forgot to bring her stroller. Special mention goes to Uncle L who did an amazing job in driving us around in the crazy New York traffic. I love the combination of this group, I think we can go anywhere together! What made the trip more perfect was that we still had one full day before work and school day came on Tuesday.

Monday, October 4, 2010


We were awakened by Livie’s screaming cry at 5am this morning. Both Ho and I ran to her room to see what happened. We found out that she just woke up and wanted to turn off her CD player but mistakenly switched on the radio really loud. I gave her a hug and wiped her tears while Ho took his pillow getting ready to stay in her room with her. After a short while without waking daddy up, she came to my room to tell me that she couldn’t sleep. I took her to my bed, hoping she could fall asleep soon. It didn’t work however. I tried holding her, massaging her, taking her to the washroom, holding her hands, nothing worked. She had been waking me up every 15 mins to tell me that she still couldn’t sleep. At 6am, I said, “Sweetie, do you want to try lying down? You may fall asleep easier that way. Mommy has 2 meetings in the morning and my boss will not be happy if I’m late.” She finally lied down, held my hand and tossed a little. When I woke up again at 7am, she was sound asleep like an angel.

I could feel her love to me by just looking at her. When I left for work, I just couldn’t resist giving her a big kiss.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Another Baby Shower

I was invited to another baby shower for 2 mommies-to-be. Strangely, one of the mommies is bringing the main courses, the other mommy is also bringing food too. This is a non-traditional shower, but hey, friends gatherings are always enjoyable, who cares what it’s called?

I have a busy schedule today. Chocolate class finishes at 12 noon, 1pm is the shower, 2:45pm kids’ art class starts, 4:30pm is my long time White Rose friend’s wedding in Vaughan. Oh, Linda looked so pretty in her wedding gown! I can tell Linda spent so much time in planning this. You can tell that she a perfectionist from the wedding favours she made for her guest. She designed the invitation card, program book, she hand wrapped and tied the gifts one by one, I think she made the ornament herself too. The wedding was perfect! Every one of the hundred guests participated in the games and we all had fun. Too bad I forgot my camera at home. It was a beautiful wedding.

So I ended up managed to go to every event. It’s a busy day, but I enjoyed every part of it.
This was the cake I brought to baby shower in the afternoon. It’s a Japanese cheesecake loved by one of the mommies and host of the party. I love it when I don’t have to guess whether the audience will like what I make or not. I had not made this for awhile, still as good as I remember it was.

Adapted from
• 7 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
• 1/4 cup whole milk
• 1/2 cup superfine sugar (I reduced it to 1/3 cup because I also reduced lemon juice in the recipe)
• 3 eggs, separated
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 2 1/2 cups boiling water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a 8-inch cake tin with cooking oil spray.
3. Beat cream cheese with milk to soften.
4. Add half of the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and lemon juice.
5. Beat until smooth.
6. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until foamy.
7. Gradually add remaining sugar and cream of tartar, beating on high speed until soft peaks form, about 8-10 minutes.
8. Gradually fold beaten egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, stirring gently.
9. Pour into cake pan and smooth the surface.
10. Place cake pan into a larger roasting pan and place in lower rack of oven.
11. Pour enough water into the roasting pan to come half way up the side of the cake pan.
12. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a pick inserted in the middle of the center comes out clean.
13. If the surface becomes too dark while baking cover with a piece of tin foil, but be careful not to open the oven door until it has been in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
14. Let it cool in the oven with the door ajar by sticking a wooden spoon at the opening. You can leave it overnight.