Dec 26, 2008

We wish you the merriest..

There was an Advertising tune for Heineken beer last year that goes like this:

We wish you the merriest, the merriest
The merriest, YES, the merriest
We wish you the Happiest, the happiest
And the happiest NEW Year

Here's the youtube ad I found

For days, we couldn't get that tune out of our heads and I often heard my daughter singing it.

OK, I may have got the wrong spelling here..but that was how it sounded like.

I baked 3 more Chocolate swiss rolls cakes and had it decorated for our neighbours. Its something I do every year for them. And wishing them the Happiest and the Merriest New Year!

And here's to all who frequents my blog, read and gave your kind comments. A Merriest and the Happiest NEW CHEER to you too!

Dec 25, 2008

All I got for Christmas was...

A very big hug! From my niece ; Noelle. She turn 7 years old this Christmas and we celebrated her birthday yesterday with the family. Her mom (my cousin), asked me to bake a cake for her. There was no special requests of flavours or taste or theme. Only thing was to bake the cake with low sugar so that all the old folks in our extended family can enjoy it too. As most commercial baked cakes are very sweet.

So I baked a Chocolate sponge cake that uses only 50% of sugar instead of more as per the recipe I had. I used the best chocolate powder available and briefly soaked 2 cans of Dark cherries with Cointreau so it has a hint of liquor in it.

Since Noelle's name was very 'Christmassy', I decided to bake a cake with a touch of Christmas iconic figurines. Namely old Santa Claus up on the roof top next to the chimney. And a little boy that was dressed in mittens, hat and scarf. The little cottage house was the same cake, cut and trimmed down to look like a house. And the cake was covered in fresh cream that had peppermint extract.

As this is very much a child's birthday, the cake had all kind of candies which kids loved. Gummy bear candies, chocolate mushroom biscuits, Glico Pocky strawberry sticks as the roof, rainbow marshmellow as the chimney. M&M candies decorated the front and back doors.

I ask Linda(Noelle's mom) to get nice candles and she found these really interesting ones. Each candle is coloured and even the flames that was burning are also coloured!

Happy Birthday to Noelle..and Thank you for the very big hug too!

Dec 22, 2008

A plate of noodles

Whenever we had this dish, it often reminds me of the late Raymond Koh. He was my hubby's best friend since Secondary school. They studied together and kept in contact even after school. When we were dating, my hubby would introduce Raymond and his girlfriend to me. As with all good things and with good friends, my hubby wants me to know about his friends too.

When we got married, Raymond got married too. And he stayed 2 blocks away from us. Almost without fail, every fortnight, Raymond and his wife would invite us over to his place for games and food. The men will play card games or watch football together and the women would talk in the kitchen. I was hopeless back then, I couldn't cook or bake at all. But Raymond's wife was an excellent cook.

She would cook this simple dish of fried bee hoon with shredded cabbage and some fresh prawns. Mrs RK takes much pride in cooking this and often enough, I was left out as I have nothing to share. So I ended up watching TV and sitting around doing nothing.

They had a son who was the same age with our eldest daughter, Natasha. Some 14 years ago, Raymond told us that he had a rare blood disorder. Later we found that it was leukemia. A year later, the illness took our dear friend away. Leaving behind Mrs RK and his young son.

Mrs RK was devastated and kept away from everyone. She was too depressed and later we found out that she moved out of the flat too. We lost contact with her.

Over the years, when I pick up cooking, I improvised many fried noodles dishes to recreate the one she cooked for us. And this recipe I have now, comes close to what we had.

So this post, I dedicate to our late friend, Raymond Koh. We have always thought of you, and remembered you.

Fried Bee Hoon
1 packet of bee hoon, soak in water to soften
1 large white cabbage, washed, shredded
20 pcs fresh grey prawns, devein, shelled, cut into chunks
3 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp fine sugar
200ml water
1 clove of garlic, chopped

100ml onion oil

1. Heat up the wok with onion oil and add garlic to stir fry till fragrant.
2. Add prawns, fish sauce and fry for 2 mins.
3. Add cabbage, oyster sauce, sugar and water and fry for another 2 minutes over high heat.
4. Add soften bee hoon and stir fry till noodles soak up liquid sauces
5. Turn off the fire, dish out and serve immediately.

Its good on its own, or you can eat this with freshly cut chillies.

Dec 18, 2008

Sad to part

My old faithful iMac went to heaven yesterday. I bought it when I was still working for Batey Singapore. It served me very well for almost 8 years and outlived its expectancy of 5 years.

Thankfully, old faithful still starts up and I was able to back up all my emails, files, and web creations. My hubby was told of it and he came home to fetch me to Funan Centre. He got me a new iMac.

And I had to junk old faithful this morning. But I kept the keyboard, mouse and also the Bose speakers because it was still in working order.

Now I have a new iMac G5 that comes with a 20inch LCD screen which also houses the CPU, DVD and the full works. I need to re-adjust my chair and my view. Everything is now so darn big! But soon I will forget old faithful..because this new iMac works 10x faster. Every camera picture downloads in a flash.

This was old faithful..the now extinct domed shape iMac

And this is more like Eve from Wall•E the movie

Incidentally, I think Wall•E is run on OS X...that startup it had sounds so familiar!

Dec 13, 2008

The Seasons of Life

Tomorrow my 'baby' will be 18 years old. We are throwing a big party for Natasha today at my mom's place. She asked for a chocolate cake, decorated in a garden theme. I had too many ideas of what to do. But in the end, this was what I came up with. This cake marks her coming of age, almost out of teen-hood, and growing into a young woman.

It is a 3 tier cake. Bottom and centre tier is a rich chocolate cake that had orange peel and Cointreau added. Top tier is a rich fruit cake filled with dried cranberries and golden raisins and laced with roasted hazelnuts.

The decorations was to show all the things she loved as a child and as she grew up, she wanted designer bags and shoes, all the food she grew up loving to have. Her sister helped to draw the facial expressions in one of the fondant figurines. A little girl cuddling up with pillows and blanket.

It was covered in Chocolate Marshmellow fondant which I made and added Peppermint extract. And I also mixed it with Satin Ice's Chocolate Fondant which I bought a month ago. It was the most delicious fondant I have ever bought to use. I added Varlhorna chocolate powder and Varlhorna dark chocolate bars to make the sugar paste.

The baking of the cake, plus decorating took me a day's work. I started early at 9am yesterday. By 11am,the cakes are cooling. I made the fondant and the other decorations. In between periods, I rested and also cooked all the sambal(chilli) pastes to be used in the BBQ today.

The seasons of life, that is what this cake it shows the seasons of her life, seen in the eyes of a doting mother.

Happy 18th Birthday, my dearest Natasha

Dec 11, 2008

Made with Love

Yesterday I had a private baking class conducted at my home. A lady wanted to learn to bake a perfect pound cake with fruits and no liquor. And had wanted to decorate with fondant too. She had intentionally wanted an X-rated figurine to be constructed in full 3 Dimension. But in the end, she found out that her hubby wasn't too sporty on such things. And had to settle for a cake with a simple figurine.

So here it was, a cake made with love from a woman to a man. Not just any man, but someone she loves and adores and goes all out to have this cake baked and decorated to his delight.

The cake was a rich fairy light pound cake that was laced with dried cranberries. It was then covered in strawberry flavoured fondant. The figurine was constructed piece by piece and stuck together with just water and placed on the cake. The sides with covered with a clear ribbon that had golden hearts on it.

I also gave her extra fondant to bring home to practice on her skills in modelling.

When my hubby came home, I showed him the photo of the cake and he said "Why I didn't get one for mine?"


Dec 10, 2008

Eat, Drink and be Happy!

We hosted a hi tea buffet for our students. *we are Kitchen Capers and Chef Secrets Cooking Studio. It was fun, new friendship were made, and students had the chance to spend time to mingle with each other and with us. When most of time they come for our cooking or baking class and hurried home.

We also had lucky draw for everyone and my daughter, Melody helped to pick out the winners and Amy (co-owner of Chef Secrets Cooking Studio) gave out the prizes.

Judging for the smiles and laughter, it shows that the students are happy with the prizes they got. We had allocated 5 top prizes worth S$60 each with 1 Silicone Bundt Pan, 1 Silicone Sunflower pan, 1 set of Cookie Cutters, 1 Kitchen Capers Apron, and a $10 Training Voucher which they can redeem when they come for our classes. For the consolation prizes, we had given Disney cup, a Kitchen Capers Apron, a set of Cookie Press with 4 different piping tips, 4 cookie shapes.

Amy and I cooked and baked some 12 different dishes from Asian to Western cuisine. Here's the spread of food we had. For Asian cuisine we had Pickled Ginger, Pickled Bittergourd, Steamed Vegetarian Pau, Indonesian Mee Siam, Water Chestnut dessert(pan fried), Hokkien Ju Bee P'ng and Yam Kueh. And for Western cuisine we had Donuts, Shepherd's Pie, Quiche Lorraine, Banana Crumble Pie, Sugee Cake with Cointreau, Hazelnut and Sesame seeds cake, Rose Cookies(made from Real Roses), Kueh Bangkit, Horlicks Doggie cookies and also we had Rose Fizz Cocktail.

Many had seconds, and many ask for another buffet again. They loved the food, the company and of course the prizes too. We might do this again next year, most likely in April.

Thank you everyone who came and supported us in this buffet.

And lastly, when everyone has left..its time to clean up. My sweet little daughter Melody is seen here helping the dear old lady to mop the whole kitchen.

This elderly lady was one of the assistants who came to help us to cook and wash up.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Adeline H aka Yuri for her help on the eve of the buffet. She came to help me to bake. I told her I only stir the cream, she made the pie crust, folded and kneaded into shape and form and baked the Quiche Lorraine.

Dec 5, 2008

Make Me A Servant

On the 1st December, that's a Monday, I had a lunch appointment with my ex Primary School teacher, Miss Chua SC. She was my form teacher for two years when I was studying in Bartley Primary School in the early 1970s. Miss Chua was a very dedicated teacher. Though she only teaches us English and Arts, she does it with so much passion and joy. As her student, I immensely enjoyed going to school everyday and meeting her too.

She would greet us with a wide smile, literally smiling cheek to cheek. She never frowns and hardly ever gets upset or angry. Even after leaving Primary school, I have always kept in contact with Miss Chua. Till today, I still call her once in awhile. And when technology advances, computers and emails are a common form of communication, I will write to her via email. Before, it was often a phone call or a greeting card mailed to her home.

For years, I kept in contact with her. She watched me grew up from a little girl to a young woman and heard from me about falling in love and finding love in all the right places. When I had Natasha, Miss Chua send me all her well wishes. She became more of a good friend I had over the years.

So when we met for lunch on Monday, she ask me this:

"Woon Ting(that's the name she knew me for..!), why am I so special to you?"

I paused...and really wondered. Come to think of it, I never gave much thought to that. I am literally speechless and went on with the 'umm..errs, mumm..."

Finally, I said this :

"Miss Chua, for your lovely stories and your art classes. I loved the way you tell us stories. And the way you teach Art. And many years down the way, I learnt to tell stories like you did and taught Art to my children the way you did too. You have been an inspiration to me. And I am most thankful"

Miss Chua told one story that make me cry as a child. Its the story of Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde. I will always remember the way she told it to us that day in my primary school days. The way she related the story, how the Prince wept and how he told his story to the swallow that stayed with him. I remember going home telling my mother about the Happy Prince. And with each story telling session we had, I would go home and translated it to Mandarin and tell my mom the story too.

Later, my dad went and bought the story book of the Happy Prince. The book was bilingual so that my mom could read the story too.

Many years later, when my niece was born, I retold the story of the Happy Prince to her. It jotted many wonderful and bittersweet memories. Of someone who used to tell us stories that teaches us to be good children, gave us good moral values and how contented we must be in this life we have.

In so many ways, when I think about good teachers like Miss Chua, I would like to think she was that old Christian song that goes like this:

Make me a servant, humble and meek
Lord, let me lift up those who are weak
And may the prayer of my heart always be
Make me a servant today

Miss Chua, a servant, humble and meek, she gave me so much more than she ever knew she did. She taught, she gave, she serves and she loves every child she taught in her class.

Thank God for Teachers who dares to make a difference in a child's life.

Dec 1, 2008

Hi Tea Buffet Tickets..!

Did you get your tickets? Kitchen Capers and Chef Secrets Cooking Studio are hosting a special Hi Tea Buffet for our past and present students for their continued interest in our classes.

If you have always wondered what we could teach, come for the buffet and taste our dishes. There will be Dim Sum, local Singapore hawker favourite snacks like Mua chee, puttu mayam, Masala Vadai, Tau huay too. And not forgetting Western pastries like pies, cakes, quiches and muffins.

Not only that, you will get a chance to go for lucky draw which are sponsored by our suppliers. From bakeware (silicone bakeware), cookie cutters, Training vouchers, its worth every dollar you pay for.

Tickets are sold at S$10 per adult or teenager, S$5 for kids from 3 to 12 years old(under 3 years old is FREE), S$5 for Senior Citizens(above 55 years old). So hurry down to Chef Secrets and get your tickets by this Thursday, 4th December.

Please contact Amy Ou at 6273 9558 regarding the tickets. Open to all. Tickets are limited, so do hurry!

8 December, Monday from 2:30pm to 6pm
Chef Secrets Cooking Studio
Blk 163 Bukit Merah Central
#03-3579 Singapore 150163
Telephone : 6273 9558