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!