I’ve tried decorating the sides of my cakes with nuts a number of times using a range of different methods. I would usually start by toasting the nuts and chopping them up. After which, it is up to my imagination to get them to stick.
On some days, I would try to grab as much chopped nuts as possible and moving quickly, try to press them onto the cake. But usually, no matter how fast I am, the nuts would slip off my hands before they go on the cake and I would end up touching the icing. On other days, I would use the “throwing” method where I would “throw” the nuts onto the sides of the cake. Unfortunately, it would usually lead to uneven sides and nuts all over the table.
Last week, my mom asked me to bake a hummingbird cake for a birthday and I decided that I would, for once, spend some time and get the nuts right. Mustering up all the energy I had left, I decided to…lay the almonds one by one. I got down on my knees so that I would be on the same level as the cake on the table, put all the toasted sliced almonds next to me, and working as quickly as I could, I started from the top and laid the almonds one by one.
I would say that I am quite a newbie to the sewing machine. It probably sounds crazy but before I learnt how to use the sewing machine, I used to sew everything by hand. I would sew pouches and other random things and because I did them by hand, it would take dayssss. I was spurred on to use the sewing machine mainly because of its speed. It got me excited thinking that something which took me 3 days to sew could actually take me 30 minutes! Hence, I decided to go onto craigslist to find a second sewing machine and was blessed to find the right one. My mom and I drove to view it and bought it right away. I’ve never turned back since :P
Sewing was quite a challenge at the beginning. The sewing machine is a rather complex machine and can be quite overwhelming for a beginner. My mom taught me how to put the thread through the machine, the bobbin, and the basics of sewing. After which, I was pretty much on my own. I ploughed through the internet for resources and while I’ve seen and tried tutorials that I still cannot understand after reading it 10 times, I’m glad to say that I have found 2 awesome (and in my opinion, the best) zippered pouch tutorials which I now solely rely on when making zippered pouches – zippered pouch by Dana Made It and opened wide zippered pouch by Noodlehead.
Jon and I love a really good sichuan hot pot and by that, I really mean a hot pot that is adequately spicy but not too spicy, doesn’t numb the tongue so much and has a soup that is tasty and has depth. For our National Day family get together, Jon decided to take on a culinary challenge and cook the sichuan hot pot from scratch!
Jon and I started loving sichuan hot pot during our uni days in the US. There are tons of really good hot pot places all around. Hot pot gives you that comforting and soothing feeling, especially during a cold winter. Then, we realized that our love of sichuan hot pot went more than just warming us up during winter as we started to look for good sichuan hot pot places here in Singapore. We would usually have hot pot after work, sitting out in the humid weather, sweating and dipping all our meats and vegetables into the hot pot, only to finish sweaty and satisfied.
Yesterday was Singapore’s 48th birthday. For my immediate and extended family, it is a day where we get together, have a feast and watch the national day parade on television. It is actually pretty exciting because from where I stay, we can hear a little of the activities going on, such as the helicopters and when the F16s flown by the Singapore Air Force flies by the house. Year on year, the sequence of the national day parade is somewhat predictable, which in my opinion makes it quite fun. We’ll always ask questions like “has the contingent marched out?” “is the President out yet?” just to ensure we don’t miss out on anything.
Annabel (aka Bel) and I were at the supermarket quite a while ago and as we walked through the pasta section, she pointed out Barilla’s Cannelloni, asking me if I had seen such a pasta shape before. Despite being quite a pasta fan, I have never noticed nor tried it before. We decided to get it. Bel is a really awesome cook and one day, we were surprised with cannelloni stuffed with minced beef for dinner – it was heavenly!
The first time I made truffles was when I was in Seattle. I’ve always been a big fan of dark chocolates. I’m not a milk chocolate kind of person, and definitely not a white chocolate kind of person – I love my cocoa!
Getting to eat a chocolate truffle is a real treat since it is really decadent, but also really expensive. The first time I made champagne truffles, I was mesmerized at how easy and decadent it is. Unfortunately, I’ve to say that while it is easy to make truffles in the US, it is tough to do it back in Singapore. Since moving back, I’ve always had trouble sourcing for chocolate. They are either mediocre chocolate, or really really expensive. Once, when I decided to make Pierre Herme’s Riviera for my mom’s birthday, his recipe suggested to use a particular type of Valrhona chocolate. In an attempt to make it perfect, I went to the store to see how much it would cost. After some calculations, the cost of chocolate alone for a 9-inch cake would be more than a whopping SGD$100 (USD$78) – absolutely ridiculous and crazy. From then on, my siblings, whenever they go in and out of the US, would carry 10lb blocks of chocolate for me. I would in turn bake them awesome goodies :)
For the longest time, I had been struggling with my cuisinart ice cream machine. It worked well when I was in US but since I brought it home, it has been giving me a multitude of problems. At home, we have quite a few american appliances and due to different voltage, we have a huge voltage transformer. My kitchenaid, and many other american appliances have worked great but the cuisinart was a different story. Sometimes, nothing would be wrong and I would churn out ice cream fine. Sometimes, it would run for 15 minutes and switch off by itself and not be able to turn on again. At other times, the same thing would happen for 10 minutes. One day, it decided to not turn on again, and I guess it was gone forever.
This time when I went back to Seattle, I decided to bid the voltage problems goodbye, and get the kitchenaid ice cream maker attachment. I must say that in terms of churning out good consistency ice cream, this attachment is really really awesome. I must say though, my only problem with it is pouring the mixture in. Due to all the stirring and cooling involved, I tend to place the mixture in wide mouth bowls and containers so that they would cool faster. It is actually quite hard to pour the mixture in while the machine is turned on (which is what you’re supposed to do) since the space available to pour the mixture in is very limited. Hence, it has been quite a feat so far with me holding the mixture and another person holding a funnel, positioning it strategically over the bowl but not touching the moving parts – sounds complicated, right! So, until I find a better way, I love my new ice cream maker attachment just about 99%.
David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop ice cream book is highly recommended for anyone who loves making ice cream. It is the only recipe book I have that’s dedicated to ice cream and it has served me very well so far. I like it that the book has a combination of very easy to make recipes when you feel like whipping something up in 10 minutes, Yet, the book also has complicated recipes if you’re looking for a challenge or for a recipe to impress.
When I first flipped open the book, the first recipe that caught my eye is the gianduja gelato! I always pick a hazelnut ice cream when I go to gelato shops and I just couldn’t wait to try making it myself.
I crave chocolate…a lot.
Many people tend to stay away from chocolate desserts at restaurants. As for me, I’ll choose a chocolate dessert 9 out of 10 times for the simple fact that… I LOVE chocolate. (that’s an understatement by the way)
I like chocolate on its own. It is nice to have some other simple ingredients complement chocolate BUT, I really just like chocolate, chocolate. Hence, David Lebovitz’s devil’s food cake is one of my favorites because its just… chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. (I just realized that I’ve used the word “chocolate” 11 times :P)
I can’t stop laughing at the cover photo! Jon decided that it would be an awesome idea to take a photo with the theme “The Burger from Heaven”. So, after I assembled a burger, we went to the darkest spot in the garden, shined a torchlight on the burger and took the photo. As I edited the photo, it didn’t exhibit the “from Heaven” type of atmosphere and instead, Jon felt that it looked more like “a burger from a drug lord” type of atmosphere. Hence, we decided to name it “The Crack Burger” – LOL!