Sunday, September 18, 2011


My family loves to eat.  Every member enjoys cooking and all of them are really good cooks.  I think our taste buds were spoiled by my mom’s superb cooking skills, so we all developed the interest in eating good food.  I had a late start because my mom said I was too slow and was always in her way in the kitchen when I was little.  I didn’t pick up the skill until when I was studying at university away from home. My cooking is like kindergarten level when compared to those of my sis' and big bro's.  Even though my other bro doesn't cook much, but his wife cooks very well too.  What a lucky man!

We had a small family barbeque at Lily’s (my sis) house today.  By small I mean usually we would have close to 20 people whenever we had one, but this time my parents, big bro and sis-in-law are enjoying sunshine and beaches in Hawaii; hence we’re down to 12 counts only this time.  Lily and Berta (my other sis-in-law) already decided on most of the items on the menu, while worrying that we might have too much meat, I brought some zucchinis and a Challah for the barbeque.

I know, as Cherry asked, why did I make Easter bread Challah in September?  My answer was, why not?  It’s a good looking tasty bread which fits for any time of year I’ll say.  It was huge, close to 17” long and weighed over 1.4kg.  We couldn’t finish it but everyone saved a few slices for themselves.  It’s a very easy recipe from William Sonoma.  Success guaranteed.

I also found some pictures showing simple steps to do a 4-strand braid for easy reference.  The link is included in the directions.

The recipe looks quite long in the original book.  Let me see if I can simplify it:

  • 2 packages (5 tsp.) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (40 – 46C, slightly warm to touch)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, plus 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
  • 780g or 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room
  • 1 Tbs. poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)

  1. In large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar, 3 eggs, 4 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt and butter.  Knead until all ingredients are incorporated. 
  3. Add remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Do not add too much flour more than the amount on ingredients list. The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading. Remove the dough from the bowl.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.
  5. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down the dough. Using a plastic pastry scraper, scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface.  Cut the dough into 4 pieces.  Make each into a rope, each should be as long as the width of your baking sheet.
  6. Line the ropes horizontally on the lined baking sheet.  Follow the instructions from this link to do the braid.
  7. Repeat the braiding until you reach the ends of the ropes. Pinch them together at the top and at the bottom, and tuck the strands under at the ends.
  8. Cover the braided loaf with a dry kitchen towel, and let rise again in a warm, draft-free spot until the loaf doubles in size and is jiggly when you shake the sheet, 45 to 60 minutes.
  9. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F.
  10. Brush the braid gently with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the seeds. Bake the braid until it is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Tip: Check after 20 mins, cover with foil if you see the loaf is browning too quickly. 
  11. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Makes 1 large braided loaf.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mooncake Festival

Saw my friend’s mooncakes last year on facebook. They look so pretty! I had this in my mind since then and bought a mould immediately. After keeping the mould in the kitchen for months, finally Mid-Autumn festival is here, I can give the recipe a try.

I tried 2 recipes. Cake dough of the first one wasn’t very good, so I chucked it. It did provide a very good lotus seed paste recipe though, that’s the one I used here – not too sweet, and relatively less oil than commercial mooncakes. Jennifer found me another recipe for the dough that is much better. It’s funny that I misread the step oven time, but they actually turned out well! The recipe was modified below accordingly. I couldn’t find glucose and was too lazy to make my own, so I mixed golden syrup and molasses together. It worked for me just fine.

I used molesses only in the one on the left, I used golden syrup in the other

Lotus seed paste Adapted from 愛在廚房

450g dried lotus seeds, peeled and centre removed
9 ½ cups water
300g sugar
300ml peanut oil (I used canola)
1 tbsp wheat starch

Heat oil in small pot to hot but not smoking yet. Turn to low heat for 5 mins.
Remove pot from heat. Set aside and leave oil to room temperature.
Bring one pot of water to boil. Put lotus seeds for 5 mins. Lotus seeds should be easy to open after.
Drain and ensure all centres are removed (otherwise your paste will be bitter)
Add 9 ½ cups of water and cleaned lotus seeds to pot. Boil until lotus seeds are soft and easy to break when gently touched. There should be enough water left just to cover the seeds. If water is drying up quickly, add ½ cup of hot water, bring back to boil. Then turn off heat and cover with lid.
Pour water and lotus seeds to food processor, puree to smooth.
Put sieve above a non-stick frying pan. Press lotus seeds puree through sieve.
Stir fry puree on medium low heat to a sticky texture, add sugar, mix until incorporated.
Stir in oil little by little. Make sure oil is well absorbed before you add more.
Once all oil is mixed in, sieve over wheat starch and stir until well mixed.
Remove from heat and leave it cool to room temperature.

Cake dough Adapted from Chi Chi’s Kitchen

95g sifted cake flour
26g peanut oil (I used canola)
1-2g dietary alkali 食用鹼水
50g Lyle’s golden syrup
10g molasses

Mix all ingredients together.
Leave it in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Separate into balls of 45g each.
Roll each ball to as thin as you can, mine was about 1/16 inch thick.

I bought frozen salty egg yolks for the filling. Originally I bought 16 salty eggs, ended up with 7 usable yolks only. Luckily I found this place that sell frozen egg yolks only. It’s more expensive than buying the whole eggs but I won’t waste as much whites and the size is guaranteed. Sprinkled each yolk with some rice wine and cook them in toaster oven at 325C for 10 mins before using them.

Assembly and cooking directions:
Guidelines for lotus seed paste: Single yolk mooncake –100g, double yolk – 90g, no yolk – 110g
Cover each yolk with paste. Roll them into balls and wrap with thin cake dough.
Brush dough and inside of mould generously with cake flour.
Put dough in mould and press until you can’t press any further.
Release dough on parchment paper lined tray.
Evenly spray water on each cake and put in preheated 400C oven for 4 mins.
Brush with beaten egg and reduce oven temperature to 350C.
Bake for 12 mins.
Leave them cool to room temperature and put in a tightly sealed box for 1-2 days.
Dough will be softened after and ready to serve.

I made 21 moon cakes with 1 ½ times recipe of lotus seed paste and 4 times recipe of cake dough. Since there is less oil in these mooncakes than store bought ones, the paste tends to break apart easily. Make sure you press them well when wrapping the yolk and the dough has to stick well to the paste. When you compare mine with the mooncakes from stores, you’ll notice that their lotus seed paste looks almost like transparent. That’s because of their high oil content. Mine looks solid cream colour with light taste. I think that’s the difference between canola oil and peanut oil too.

So far the comments have been good. I’ll definitely make them again next year. I’ll make ice skin mooncake from Jennifer’s blog and will try sugarless lotus seed paste for my dad too.

These cake doughs were made with Chi Chi's Kitchen recipe and mixed molasses and golden syrup

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Great great great great grandpa

A: mommy, who is our great great great great grand pa?
M: I don't know, you’ll have to ask your grandpa.
A: I don't think he'd know.
M: Then why do you think I would know?
O: I know, grandpa is our great great....... grandpa.
M: Grandpa being a great person doesn't make him your great great....... grandpa.
A: If he is, he would be a caveman, Olivia.
O: Then what does that make grandma?
A: She'll be a cave woman.
O: What about 姑婆?
A: Cave aunt
O: How about “yee-sum” (二嬸)?
A: Cave sum
O: “Yee suk” (二叔)?
A: Cave suk suk.
O: Daddy?
A: Cave dad.
O: Mommy?
A: Cave mom.

Monday, July 18, 2011

When you wish upon a star...

Livie was overtired at night when we were at the hotel in Big Island, Hawaii.   She started crying when we told her that she couldn’t take the stuffed dolphin left in the room by the hotel.  Daddy tried every way to distract her from being upset.

Daddy: Livie, let's make a wish upon the stars.  What would you like to wish for?

Olivia: I wish I can have a stuffed dolphin.

Daddy: I wish my kids will stay with me forever, even when they grow up.

Olivia rolled her eyes, gave daddy a look and said, "You will!  So make another one!"

That made daddy's day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Day After Tomorrow

Ho loves the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow. He likes to watch it every once in awhile. This weekend he watched it again and left it on the shelf at a spot where it can easily be seen. Livie walked over to the shelf when she came down from her room this morning. After a minute, she said,

"The Day After Tomorrow is the end of the...

(Both Ho and I knew that she was scared of the movie. We were curious at what she'd say about it. However, she finished the sentence with:)


And she is right, it will be May 31st then. Kids, they are full of surprises.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My kids are funny!

1) Livie was curious about the hair volumizing cream which I bought recently.
Me: It works really well, it makes you look like you have a lot of hair.
Olivia: Can I try it too?
Me: Sure! Let me show you how to use it. First, you have to wash your hair, then squeeze some on your hand...
Olivia: When you put it on your hand, does it make you look like you have a lot of hands too?

2) The whole family was getting ready to go out. When we were at the door, Livie was getting impatient.
Olivia: Can I go out to the porch to wait?
Adrian: Go ahead Olivia, go to visit the Portugese!

3) Adrian was looking at a picture of Livie and Auntie D.  We said Livie looked very mature in the picture, like she was being interiewed by auntie.  Adrian started to pretend as if he was in an interview too:

"My life, began when I was born..."

4) Languages

Olivia: Mommy, I know 5 languages.
Mommy: Really?  That's great!  Which 5?
Olivia: I know French, English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Chinese!
Adrian: Haha!  Olivia, Mandarin and Cantonese are both Chinese!  That means you only know 4!

Oh, I love listening to them talking to each other!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

chestnut bun (栗子包) / shredded pork bun (肉鬆包)

Ho has been sweeping all chestnut buns from a local bakery every time he saw them available there.  He asked me if I could make them at home.  After big success of the sausage buns, i don't see a problem with that.  Just that I don't have time to make the chestnut puree myself.  I told him if he could find the Hero canned chestnut puree for me, I would do it.  This is not an easy task as the only one store in the area which carries it has been out of stock for a long time.  It is not cheap either.  I was surprised that he loved the buns so much that he went to the store to check stock every other day.  He came home one day excitedly telling me that he bought 2 cans, the only 2 they had at the store.

I have to look after my kids' taste buds too.  So I made sausage buns again.  Then what about my taste buds?  I like shredded pork buns, I mixed 1 1/2 tablespoon of shredded pork with 2 teaspoons of mayo to fill the rolled out dough. Mmm...

For bread dough, follow my sausage buns recipe.

Chestnut filling -


  1. Whisk egg yolk, vanilla, and cream in saucepan over low heat until thickened.
  2. Add to chestnut puree in large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix at high speed until smooth.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside until cool and ready to use.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Picking a husband

We had Dim Sum with friends and their babies yesterday.  When I walked Livie to the washroom, she kept saying that the babies were cute.

Me: You like babies a lot, don't you?
Olivia: Yes, they are so cute.
Me: I remember one time you told me that you wanted a baby brother or baby sister too.
Olivia: (After thinking for a moment) No, I just want to get married and live happily ever after.
Me: You don't have to be hurry.  When you grow up, you'll find someone you really love and want to stay with for rest of your life, then you'll marry him.
Olivia: I know how you picked daddy, mommy...  You went shopping one day and you saw daddy shopping there, so you picked him to be your husband.

I think I should also educate her that marriages are final sale with no exchange and no refund.


Usually we would only buy Häagen-Dazs ice cream when they are on sale, say 3x500g tubs for Cdn$10.  However, when we saw this new Lemon flavour with Half the Fat, we couldn't resist and bought it at regular price ($6.77 for a 500g tub).  To rub it in, the cashier lady told us that they were on sale at $2 a tub yesterday!  "I don't care!  I have to eat it now!" was what I had in mind when I paid.  We were crazy enough to ask for 2 spoons at MacDonald's to eat the ice cream in the car right away.  The taste is well worth the money.  I think it's the most refreshing flavour in the Häagen-Dazs brand.  I was delighted to see there was no single artificial ingredient in this product.  It probably will be the only ice cream which I'll ask for second. 
So, it became part of our breakfast this morning.  Yes, dessert for breakfast!  Fresh Strawberries Crêpe with Lemon Häagen-Dazs ice cream.  I heard Häagen-Dazs ice cream is very expensive in Hong Kong.  I wonder how much they'll charge for this plate.

Then, Ho came up with this chocolate lover's devil crêpe version: Toblerone Crêpe with chocolate syrup.

I also did a salty version with mayo and shredded pork which I didn't take a picture of.  As much as I like all these fillings, I do think the smooth yet light crêpes make a big difference.

Basic Crêpe (Adapted from All Recipes)


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs.  Sieve flour and add to the eggs . Gradually add in the milk, keep stirring. 
  2. Once all flour are covered with egg mixture, add water.  Use spatula to stir and press batter against side of bowl until combined.  
  3. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.  
  4. Press batter through sieve while transferring the batter to another bowl.
  5. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
  6. Cook the crêpe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Course Final Project

This was the cake i decorated 2 weeks ago in the final class of Cake Decorating Course I.  I had learned a lot from this course.  It's hard to imagine myself piping roses, daisies, apple blossoms, daffodils, and all those beautiful flowers before taking the course.  It was so much fun too.  Too bad they don't have course II offered on Saturday morning, otherwise I would definitely take that too.  They do fondant in that course!  Maybe, it is time to take a break because I had been attending baking class almost non-stop since January last year.  I can spend my Saturday morning with my kids now.  Cherry is taking Course II, hmm... I can use some private tutorial from her.

Monday, March 28, 2011


After dinner with grandma, Adrian brought Livie's drawing bag into the house from the car.

Olivia: I left my bag in the car!
Me: Your brother brought it in for you already.
Olivia: Oh, thank you Adrian!  You are the best brother I have!
Adrian: I'm the only brother you have.  In fact, I'm the only brother you'll ever have!
Olivia: No!
(Ho and I were looking at each other, confused.)
Olivia: I'll have a brother when I get older.
(Ho and I were even more puzzled.)
Adrian: That will be your son, Olivia!
Olivia: Oh...

Her brother knows her the best.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Change in Plan - Fruit Cream Cake

I felt bad for not having a special cake for my brother’s birthday. Even though the one he cut was beautifully decorated by Cherry at class, my brother thought the buttercream we used was too sweet.  (Not Cherry's fault of course because she only makes perfect cakes!)  I was going to make him a Boston Cream Cake but my pastry cream didn’t pass the storage test and water started to seep out. What can I do? In my pantry I have peaches in a can; in the fridge I have blueberries, raspberries and whipping cream… A simple fruit cream cake it is now.

I had lady fingers in my original design, they can be used with this cake too. They helped a lot because my masking skill is terrible. I used the shortest time to assemble the cake together. When I took the cake to the restaurant, feeling quite satisfied with the cake, my mom looked at it and said, “It’s SO UGLY!” She was not joking, because she hates grapes and anything that looks like grapes. Urgh! Yup, blueberries are lookalike of grapes to her. Luckily, seems like nobody agreed with her. Is it really that ugly?

Everybody focused on the taste. The cake finished quite quickly, that’s a good sign.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Milk Custard with Egg Whites 蛋白燉奶

Just when I was complaining having too much egg yolks in the fridge, I made this Chinese dessert with egg whites only again. My friend posted a picture of the one she made at home, it looks SOOO GOOOOD! Well, mind you, she uses Hokkaido 3.6% milk. While we don’t have that in Toronto, I’ll try with 2%. Less guilty to the body anyway.

It’s very easy to make.

  • 200ml Milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  1. Melt sugar in milk with double boiler (or with a heat proof bowl on a pot of simmering water)
  2. Whisk whites to foamy stage
  3. Pour whites to milk mixture through a sieve to remove bubbles
  4. Mix well and pour everything to 2 bowls (you can pour through the sieve one more time)
  5. Cover bowls with aluminum foil and place in steamer.
  6. Steam with medium heat for 7-8 mins, low heat for 2 more mins.

 Livie actually cried because she did not have enough. I have to double the portion next time.


After the Disney on Ice Toy Story 3 show, we went to visit Jennifer. She took us n the kids to the roof top garden at penthouse of her apartment building. Ho was excited to show Adrian where he used to work. So he picked him up trying to let him see the building.

Ho: Adrian, daddy used to work there. Do you see the blue lights? That’s the building I’m talking about.
Adrian: Oh yeah, I see it.

Then Ho put him back on the floor. Adrian pulled me by the arm and whispered to my ear…
Adrian: Don’t tell daddy. I actually didn’t see anything but I was scared of the height so I just told him “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” So he will put me down.
Me: I think that’s a very good move, Adrian.

That will be our little secret.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Meatballs in Mediterranean Tomato Sauce

I learned to make hamburger with beef and pork awhile back ago. Yet I seldom make them because they are still too meaty to me. When I bought frozen meatballs from Ikea recently, I saw bread crumbs in the ingredients. A bulb lighted up above my head… So that’s how they soften the texture. I decided to make it at home.

I used one part of beef, one part of pork, and one part of Japanese “pan” crumbs (by volume, not weight). After spending the time to make the meatballs, I got lazy and used a Japanese tomato sauce bouillon I have at home. Looks good, tastes good. I’m happy with this one dish meal.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Coconut Cookies

I wish all recipes which require egg whites only will come with a pairing recipe suggesting what to make with the egg yolks. I have a big tub of egg yolks saved up in the fridge after my chocolate meringue cake and hazelnut macarons. Cherry told me her bf’s b-day was coming up, I know what to make now – Tony Wong’s Coconut Cookies!

These cookies taste wonderful but are definitely not for healthy conscious folks. But hey, once in awhile is ok, right? Besides, this is one thing that my talented niece won’t make for her bf, it is a little something I can do to thank them for letting me park my car at their place on Saturday class time.


Adrian was telling us that he would only share things with boys at school, but not with girls.
Ho: That’s not fair Adrian.  We should not discriminate anyone.  We treat everyone the same.  In our family, we have 50% boys and 50% girls...
Olivia: (tried to be the smarty pants) No, we have 100% boys and 100% girls.
Ho:  Sorry, Livie, it’s impossible to have 100% and 100%, only 50/50.
Adrian: Of course we can!  I’m not 50% boy 50% girl.  I’m a 100% boy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Adrian twisted his ankle over the weekend. We kept him at home so he wouldn’t hurt it again when he runs around at school. Today is also the TV commercial audition day. When daddy took Adrian to the audition, I picked up Livie from school and went out for dinner. We don’t usually have girls only time when Adrian is around. It’s a nice time to have some girls talk. Yet, Livie loves her bro so much that most of our conversation was around him.

Olivia: Mommy, I’m sad today.
Me: Why?
Olivia: Because Adrian hurt his ankle. I don’t want Adrian to get hurt ever again.
Me: Aww... Me neither. I want both of you to be healthy and well always too. But he’s getting better today.  Mommy rubbed his ankle with some Chinese herbal stuff. He should be able to walk properly soon.
Olivia: We prayed for him in class today.
Me: That’s very nice, did you tell your teacher about his ankle?
Olivia: Yes. And after we prayed for him, I prayed for myself too.
Me: Why did you have to pray for yourself?
Olivia: Because Adrian kicked me on my face the other day, so I had to pray for my face.
Me: Does it hurt still?
Olivia: No, it didn’t hurt even when he kicked me, because his foot didn’t really touch me.

Afterwards, daddy and Adrian join us for dinner. I told Adrian what Livie said and he should give Livie a BIG hug. And he did, with a big smile too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Restaurant Grade Gourmet Bread in 45 mins

I meant 45 mins from the time you measure your ingredients to taking the bread out of the oven. Yes, ONLY 45 mins. There’s no proofing and kneading involved. Hmm, the bread burst with fresh herb flavour, I felt like sitting in a nice restaurant when the waiter serves the basket of assorted gourmet bread in front of me. It’s super easy to make. I highly recommend it.

Cheddar-Herb Quick Bread Recipe adapted from Inspired Magazine from Sobeys

• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 cup milk
• 2 ¼ cups all purpose Flour
• 1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese
• ¼ cup assorted fresh herbs (I used sage, chives, and oregano)
• ¾ tsp each baking powder and baking soda
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, finely cubed

  1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Make sour milk by stirring lemon juice to milk. Let it stand for 5 mins.
  3. Blend flour with cheese, herbs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until well combined.
  4. Cut in butter until crumbly using a pastry blender or two knives. (I used my fingers, make sure you don’t let the butter melt in your hands)
  5. Add milk mixture and stir just until a ragged dough forms.
  6. Knead lightly, about 10 times. (Oops, I lied, there is some kneading involved, just minimal though)
  7. The dough will be sticky but once all dry ingredients are mixed in with the liquid, it won’t stick.
  8. Transfer dough to a parchment or silpad lined baking sheet and pat into a 1” thick dish.
  9. Dust the top of the loaf with a little additional flour (I missed this part) and score a large “X” (about ¼” deep) using a sharp paring knife. Bake for 30 mins or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let it cool for about 5 mins before slicing.

There’s no yeast in the ingredients, that’s why there’s no proofing required. The crust was crispy when it first came out from the oven. I may brush the top with egg white next time and spray water in the oven to create a thicker crust. It’s still very good if you eat it fresh from the oven though.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream

On Thursday a colleague in the company kitchen asked me how my baking classes went.  I told her that I didn't bake as much now because I was only taking cake decorating class now.  She said, "Oh, I was gonna ask you if you would bake me a cake because it will be my birthday on Saturday."  She has been very nice to me all along.  I didn't want to disappoint her...  Ah... I have just the right recipe for her!

The original recipe used a very sweet buttercream but I like the Martha Stewart Swiss Meringue one more.  I brought 16 cupcakes to work.  2 saved for the birthday lady, rest for others.  People loved them!  They couldn't wait for the cupcakes to go back to room temperature before eating them and asked me for the recipe immediately after eating them.  It's funny one of them told me that she loved the hardness and softness of the buttercream because the buttercream hardened when it just came out from the fridge yet it melted immediately in the mouth.  That's why it's both hard and soft. 

Update: Here's the recipe...

Champagne Cupcake Ingredients: (20 cupcakes)

• 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3 tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• 2/3 cup butter
• 1 1/2 cups white sugar
• 3/4 – 1 cup champagne (I used Asti only)
• 6 egg whites

Marth Stewart’s Swiss Meringue Champagne Buttercream Ingredients(5 cups)
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 5 large egg whites
• 2 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• 3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 4 tbsp champagne


To Make The Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare a cupcake pan with liners. (This recipe yielded about 20 for me.)
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne. The batter will be thick but it’s ok.
  3. In another large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
To Make The Buttercream:

1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 8 minutes.
3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 2 minutes.
5. Add champagne and beat until fully mixed. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.


Talking about cake decorating, I've learned so much.  Here are some photo's of some roses and the first cake I decorated in the fifth class.







Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pork Jerky 自製豬肉乾

We went to BSJ’s house for New Year’s Eve party after dinner. Even though I was quite full from dinner at my in-laws’, I could not resist trying the homemade beef jerky at the party. I didn't know it could be done at home. Ho LOVES pork jerky, oh I have to try that some time! Since I couldn’t wait to ask the friend how she made them, I went on the internet to search for the recipe. Bless the technology, I found several recipes with photos! Reading from the comments posted, the successful rate is quite high. The instructions are not complicated either. Thinking it would be a good CNY presents for families this weekend, I gave it a try.  LOL, after giving up my exercise and sleeping time to make these, I realized the CNY eve dinner is the weekend after!

2nd batch
Ground pork 500g
Ham (minced) 100g
Sugar 85g (I reduced the sugar from original recipe)
Honey 1 big Tbsp
Fish Sauce (魚露) 2 Tbsp
Shaoxing Cooking Wine (紹興酒) 1 Tbsp
Vegetable Oil 1 Tbsp
White Pepper ½ Tsp (Optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 320F.
  2. Mix all ingredients in mixer for 2 mins.
  3. Put one big scoop of mixture on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and roll out to 3-4mm thick.
  5. Put in centre of the oven for 15 mins.
  6. Cut the pork into squares with pizza cutter.
  7. Set oven to grill on Hi, put the baking sheet in for 3 – 3.5 mins.
  8. Turn the jerky over and grill for 3 – 3.5 mins again.
  9. The colour will darken after.
Depending on your oven, the grilling time may vary.

Before it went in the oven for the first time

I followed the original recipe to pan sear the first batch.  They got burnt very quickly.  The picture below shows the ones I had left.  I decided to use the oven grill method in the second batch and they came out just right. Each batch yields about 30 pieces of 2” x 2” squares.

First batch, some burnt marks, actually more on the reverse side of some
 Ho is very happy that he doesn’t need to spend $$$ to buy pork jerky at the stores anymore. I spent only about 1/4 of the money to get the same quantity.  The taste is very close to what’s being sold at stores. Now that we can make them at home, we can adjust the saltiness and sweetness according to our preference too.