Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Love vs. Apology...

 Love means always being willing to say you're sorry.
                                                  -Martha Beck, The Oprah Magazine-


Courtesy of Google

I read about an interesting article that can help spark your relationships with someone, be the person your other half, friends, relatives et cetera, entitled "Always Apologize, Always Explain" by Martha Beck here. The article is a good one. It tells us why we need to apologize and when is the best time to apologize which is "...the moment you realize you've done something wrong" (p2).

There are 4 ways of apologizing:
"1. Full acknowledgment of the offense.
 2. An explanation
 3. Genuine expression of remorse.
 4. Reparations for damage." (p3).

When we have asked for an apology (really mean it), we should feel good about ourselves because Lazare describes an apology as, "an act of honesty, an act of humility, an act of commitment, an act of generosity, and an act of courage."  and Anne Lamott refers to it as "giving up all hope of having had a different past." (p4).

If you want to know more, read this. I remember the old English adage: Let bygones be bygones which means to forget something bad that someone has done to you and forgive him/her.

But what if you can forgive and can never forget, or you can forgive but when the matter is mentioned again, you keep on remembering...?
    

Courtesy of Google
 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wow! Katharine Hepburn's Brownies....

When I read the name of the recipe, I was thrilled. I told myself that I have to taste this... to discover whether the taste would be as delightful as Katharine Hepburn's brilliant act.


Well, it's not a disappointment! The taste is... how should I describe it... divine. The top is dry, flaky and crusty but below is sweet, moist, chewy, and very chocolaty. The best part is, you only use one bowl to whip  up the ingredients. Therefore, you won't have to clean up a lot.

Thanks Stephanie for the recipe.

Ingredients:
60 grams unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
113 grams unsalted butter, cubed 
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar (I used brown sugar) 
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
30 grams all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
100 grams chopped walnuts or pecans (optional : [**I've tried without nuts, and with almonds too. My verdict: Nuts free brownies is divine but if you love nuts, pecans is the best.])

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). 
2. Line an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan. 
3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a stainless steel bowl using double boiling method (the bowl is placed over a saucepan of simmering water). Remove from heat.
4. Using a hand whisk, stir in the sugar.
5. Add in the vanilla extract and eggs.
6. Lastly, fold in the flour, salt and chopped nuts (if using).
7. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. 
8. Cut into16 brownies. 

Adapted from: Stephanie Jaworski

Friday, April 15, 2011

Basket Weave Cake with Royal Icing Flowers and Birds

A very speacial occasion cake..

Fondant Gift Cake

A gift cake wrapped in fondant for someone special..

Two Tier Fondant Cake

The pictures with a thousand smiles...





Chocolate Banana Cake


I’ve tried this recipe and it tasted great.

However, for this entry, I reduced the amount of sugar to half. Walla, it doesn’t change the cake texture; soft and spongy. But it does make it less sweet.

So, to those who are monitoring the sugar intake in their diet, there’s no harm done reducing the amount of sugar for this Chocolate Banana Cake recipe.


Ingredients:
Chocolate Banana Cake with Deulce de Leche Toffee

2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar (I used only 200 g of sugar)
1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (75 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium sized bananas)
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) corn, safflower or canola oil (or other flavourless oil)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Method:

1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) pan. Set aside.
  1. A. In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. B. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add  B (the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients) into A and stir, or whisk, until combined. You will notice that the batter is quite thin.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.  
  5. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  6. When completely cooled, you can frost with Chocolate  Ganache, but I top it with Deulce de Leche toffee.




Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chewy Fudgy Brownies


I made it! My girl has been asking for a chewy brownies... I browsed through Mamafami's blog and found this recipe. It is chewy and lovely to be eaten immediately after baking.

Ingredients :

250g unsalted butter ~ cubed
400g cooking chocolate ~ cubed
6 eggs
340g brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
20g chocolate emulco
80g flour
60g cocoa powder
140g walnut/pecan/almond/macadamia (optional) ~ chopped and toasted

Method :
1. Layer a 12" x 12" tray with greaseproof paper. Ensure that the paper is longer than the tray for easier removal of the brownies from the tray.
2. Melt butter and cooking chocolate using a double-boiler. Set aside till lukewarm.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and chocolate emulco  till the sugar dissolves.
4. Pour the butter and chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Mix well.



5. Add sifted flour and cocoa powder into the mixture. Do not overmix.
6.  Add in the toasted nuts.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven at 160 C for 1 hour or till done. The temperature and the baking time depends on your oven.
7. Leave the brownies  to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting. Brownies is best eaten after leaving it overnight. (But I love them freshly from the oven).
8. You can cover the top of the brownies with ganache. You can also eat the brownies with icecream, custard sauce or deulce de leche or simply enjoy them the way they are.

Source: Mamafami

Toasted Coconut and Raisins Cookies.

Remember the basic cookie recipe? Well, I baked another variation of it yesterday. This time I added toasted coconut (since I have plenty of it) and some raisins. These cookies turned out fabulously delicious..



Imagine having  crispy and buttery cookies that melt in your mouth... Mmmmpphh.. heaven.

Toasted Coconut and Raisins Cookies
Ingredients:
250g unsalted butter
140g brown sugar                                                                                                                                                                       
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
300g medium protein flour  
100g toasted coconut
70g raisins 


Method:

1. Beat butter and sugar till pale and fluffy.
2. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract.
3. Fold in the sifted flour and a pinch of salt into the mixture.
4. Add the toasted coconut and raisins   and stir until well combined. 


5. Using your hands, gather the dough and roll into a sausage shape or a long block about 5 cm thick.
6. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour or until firm.
7. Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper or Silpat mat. Preheat oven to 190 degree C/ 360 degree F.
8. Slice the dough into 5 mm and place on the baking sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until pale golden.
9. Leave on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thanks Kjee for the e-Card...

Thanks Kjee for the card. Kjee, who is my virtual friend, is a well-knowned journalist in Malaysia. She's a versatile person for she's also a playwright and a good cook. Her passion in writing leads her here where I met her virtually.


Being friends with you have added a bright spot to my life... even though it's only a virtual one. Hope that I'll be able to meet in person one day.

Courtesy from Google

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane...

I was browsing through my files in the computer when I accidentally noticed a file with photos of my first few attempts in cake decorating. This is like a walk dowm the memory lane... It's funny how I got obsessed with cake decorating and the satiation I had whenever I'd completed my masterpiece. I would stare and stare and stare and stare... at the cake and it'd give me a kind of wonderful feeling.. These were several of the cakes that I had baked and decorated... Thanks Nahdzah for being a very patient sifu..
















Saturday, April 9, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

This was yesterday dinner. I haven't been cooking this for quite a while. My girl loves this especially the potato part. Since this is one of the family relish, I'd love to share this with all of you.



I have lots of family's delights recipes but I don't have the pics. For the sake of this blog, I'm cooking them one at a time and taking some shots of the food prepared. Hopefully my daughter will be able to enjoy the treasured recipes with her family members in future (what am I rambling about? Hehehe.. She hasn't completed school yet.. Still in form 1).




Shepherd’s Pie
Filling:
Cooking oil spray
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
500 g (1 lb) lean lamb mince (I used minced chicken)
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups (500ml) water
1 beef or chicken cube

cup (20g) finely chopped fresh parsley

Top:
1.25 kg potatoes (chopped and cooked until tender)
½ cup (125ml) skim milk
Paprika, to sprinkle

  1. Heat the large non-stick frying pan which has been lightly sprayed with oil.
  2. Pie filling: Add the onion, carrot and celery and stir constantly over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add one tablespoon water to prevent sticking. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Spray the pan with a little more oil, add the chicken/lamb/beef mince and cook over high heat until well browned.
  4. Add the plain flour and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Return the vegetables to the pan and add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, stock cube and 2 cups (500ml) water. Stir and slowly bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  6. Top: Meanwhile, drain and mash potatoes until smooth.
  7. Add the milk, season with salt andpepper, then beat well.
  8. Preheat a grill.
  9. Prepare the pie: Stir the chopped parsley through the mince and season well. Pour the mince into a 1.5 litre capacity baking dish. Spoon the potato over the top, spreading evenly with the back of the spoon. Use a fork to roughen up the potato and make the traditionally crunchy topping (You can also pipe the filling using piping bag if you want). Sprinkle lightly with paprika and grill until golden. Watch carefully because the potato browns quickly.

Nutrition per serve (if the recipe uses lamb)
Protein 3g; Fat 7g; Carbohydrate 15g; Dietary Fibre 2.5g; Cholesterol 1mg; 915 kJ (220 cal)

Source: Periplus Step-by-Step Tasty Low-fat Recipes Book

Spaghetti Bolognese... My Style...

I just love pasta and fortunately for me, my family are not fussy eaters. Whatever I serve them, they would eat with great relish.
The sauce recipe was originally from LEGGO's. I 've been using this recipe whenever I cooked tomato base pasta sauce for years. I remembered the day I received a recipe book from LEGGO'S after writing to the company. I still keep the letter from the product division secretary dated 23 April 1996. It's been 15 awesome years of trying all sorts of the favourites in the book.
However, for this recipe, I added my preferred ingredients which are the vegetables: carrot, fresh button mushroom and green capsicum. You can use beef, lamb, chicken or other types of meat. I used minced chicken for my girl does't like beef, and I orgot to buy lamb . This recipe serves four people. I don't have parmesan cheese in stock; so, you cannot see the sprinkle of cheese in the pic. Once you are familiar with the recipe, you can play with the ingredients. But remember not to put too much oregano for you'll have a sharp strong taste i.e. bitter sauce.

Spaghetti Bolognese
500g  spaghetti cooked according to packet directions
Grated parmesan cheese

Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
500 g minced beef (I used minced chicken)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (I used fresh English parsely)
250g LEGGO’S tomato paste
1½ cup water (you can add more if you want a lighter sauce)
1 teaspoon powdered beef stock (I used 1 chicken stock cube)

I added:
1 large carrot, diced
1 large green capsicum, diced
Fresh button mushrooms, chopped or sliced

Method:
  1. Heat oil, add minced chicken, onion and garlic and cook until browned.
  2. Add remaining sauce ingredients to pan, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the vegetables and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Spoon sauce over cooked spaghetti.
  5. Serve sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese.
Source: LEGGO’S Weekday Favourites recipe book.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stronger with Each Tear

I'm dedicating this song "Each Tear" by Mary J. to myself, my daughter and all women out there.

We are stronger from the experiences we encounter every day. Each is a lesson that shows us the right path to tread on. I appreciate it when it says "In each tear (each tear) bring you closer to your dreams. No mistake, no heartbreak can take away what you're meant to be. You're not a victim, you're more like a winner, And you're not defeat you're more like a queen".

Value what we learn in life for it will make us a better person.



 Each Tear - Mary J. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Little Things

Little drop of water,
Little grain of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the beauteous land.

And the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

So our little errors
Lead the soul away,
From paths of virtue
Into sin to stray.

Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love,
Make our earth an Eden,
Like the heaven above.

Julia Fletcher Carney
1824-1908, b. USA


This poem emphasizes the value of things; though small, the importance and usefulness of those little things are worth living for. I felt compelled to pledge to people to stop the destruction done to the world and the people living in it. We should not spark hatred and shame others just because we are not sharing the same principle. It saddens me to see that we experience that in Malaysia.

Stop polluting the environment, stop polluting the mind of the people, stop destructing the trust that our forefathers had built before. Please respect each other and show our children the correct way to lead the country. If this is not stopped, the country would not prosper and would still hold the title developed country. There goes the 'negara maju' status...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pecan Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Cookies

I read Muna's entry on basic cookie dough. The process looks easy and all the ingredients are within reach. So, I embarked on the project yesterday afternoon. It took me about 20 minutes to whip all the ingredients and wrap the dough for the chilling process.The result is Mr. Hubby and my girl get to bring fresh homemade cookies, for snack, to work and school respectively today.


Thanks Muna for sharing the recipe of very light and crunchy cookies. However, I'd improvised the recipe by adding pecan, chocolate chips and oatmeal. I also used medium protein flour.



Ingredients:

250g butter (I used Anchor's unsalted butter)
140g sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
300g plain flour (I used medium protein flour) 
75g instant oats (you can use rolled oats, porridge oats or other substances like coconut)
100g chocolate chips
100g chopped pecans 

Method:

1. Cream butter and sugar till pale and fluffy.

2. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract.

3. Fold in the sifted flour and a pinch of salt into the mixture.

4. Add the instant oats, chocolate chips and chopped pecans and stir until well combined. 

5. Using your hands, gather the dough and roll into a sausage shape or a long block about 5 cm thick.

6. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour or until fim.

7. Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper or Silpat mat. Preheat oven to 190 degree C/ 360 degree F.

8. Slice the dough into 5 mm and plce on the baking sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until pale golden.

9. Leave on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Muna Fadaaq

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies and Cream Cheese Frosting

We love carrot cake. So, when I stumbled upon this Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies recipe at Martha Stewart, I knew that it would be worth a try. True..  It's simply irresistable especially when the cookies (which dough has the same ingredients as a carrot cake batter) are sandwiched with rich cream-cheese frosting in the middle. So now we can have "carrot cake" whenever we want..
Since the dough has to be chilled in the refrigerator, it makes life easier... I never bake the whole batch at once. I keep the dough in the fridge and only bake the cookies when I wanted. So, sometimes we have the cookies during the morning breakfast, afternoon tea, as travelling snack, or when I was busy with my reading or writing and we had guests at home and I could not perform miracles - this would be my saviour... and so as other chilled cookie doughs. We'll get freshly baked cookies most of the time.
The best thing about this carrot cake sandwich cookies is that you can have them with or without the frosting. They are also wonderful with vanilla icecream. You can play with the ingredients by adding nut meats, candied fruit, coconut and other varieties to suit your preferance.
The size of the cookies baked and also the way you drop the dough on the pan will determine the cookies texture - crispy or soft and chewy. I love the cookies soft and chewy, therefore I would not flatten the mound of the dough dropped on the baking sheet.  The baking time varies depending on the size of the cookies and so as the temperature of the oven.

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies 

Ingredients:
A
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar (sometimes I used only brown sugar)
1/2 pound (2 sticks or 227 grams)  unsalted butter, room temperature (I used Anchor's)

B
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

C Sieve together:
2 cups all-purpose flour (there were times that I ommitted part of the flour and substituted it with wholemeal flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

D
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (you can use instant oats too)
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 3 large carrots)
1 cup raisins

Directions:
1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or depending on your oven and the size of the cookies. Line the baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.
2.     In an electric mixer bowl, beat A: sugars and butter till light and fluffy (approximately 3 to 4 minutes).
3.     Add C: eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
4.      Gradually add C: (sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger) to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended.
5.    Mix in D: oats, carrots, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
6.     Using a small ice-cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches space between cookies. Bake until browned and crisped 12 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the cookies - rotate pan halfway through baking to ensure even color.

7.    Let them cool on the pan for a while before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, pipe about 2 teaspoons of cream-cheese filling onto a cookie (you can use an offset spatula for this process too). Sandwich together with a second cookie.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Source: Martha Stewart 

Cream Cheese Frosting

This Cream Cheese frosting recipe makes about 2 cups. It can be used for other purposes like frosting cupcakes, filling for red velvet cake. and

Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 113.5 gram) unsalted butter cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract OR 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions:
1.  In a mixing bowl, soften cream cheese using a spatula.
2.  Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended.
3.  Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth.
4.  Add vanilla extract or lemon juice and lemon zest, and stir to combine.
Source: Martha Stewart