Monday, December 21, 2009

: happy holidays :

Happy holidays everyone!! I hope everyone is getting excited for Christmas - I know I am! There's nothing like walking down lighted streets and listening to Christmas music to get me into the holiday spirit.

This year, I decided to try my hand at a beautiful cake for Christmas. When I was young, I used to stare in awe of beautiful cakes in bakeries and cookbooks. In fact, when my parents used to take me to the library, I would head straight to the baking section and borrow books on cake decorating! So, what better Christmas cake than a traditional bûche de noel? Because of my time constraints, what with school exams and all, I decided to take the easy route and buy a ready-made swiss roll. (You can buy them at your local Metro, or Asian grocery stores.) I think it turned out pretty well, don't you? :)

Merry Christmas to all, and may all your bellies be full!!

Bûche de Noel

1 large store-bought chocolate swiss roll
1 small store-bought chocolate swiss roll

Chocolate Ganache:
1/4 cup whipping cream
100g semi-sweet chocolate chips

Candy Mushrooms:
4 vanilla-flavoured tootsie rolls
Cocoa powder, if desired

Shredded coconut
Icing sugar

1. Place the large swiss roll on a platter or serving board. Cut one end of the small swiss roll diagonally, then place the cut side anywhere against the large roll.
2. To make ganache, microwave whipping cream for 15 to 30 sec until cream is hot. Pour over chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir until chocolate is melted. Let the chocolate cool slightly.
3. Spread chocolate all over top and sides of cake. You can be a little bit messy so it looks like tree bark.
4. To make candy mushrooms, microwave tootsie rolls for 5 to 7 seconds, just to make them pliable. Flatten 3 candies into flat discs to resemble mushroom tops. Divide the last candy into 3 pieces and roll into a stem. Using a bit of water as the glue, stick discs on top of stems. You can also dust the tops with a bit of cocoa powder to give them some colour.
5. Pour some shredded coconut around the cake to resemble some snow. Sift a little icing sugar over the cake. Arrange mushrooms around the cake.
6. Slice and enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

: a fresh approach to fruit :

So. I've sort of been on a blog hiatus for 4 months.

It's not you. It's me.

I've just been so busy... you know... school... work...

I know, I know.

It's no excuse.

But... ladies and gentlemen - I'm back! And with some more healthy (and not so healthy) eating advice ;)

This is a post I've been wanting to write for some time now. Earlier this year, I entered a recipe development competition for Sun Rich Fruits. The challenge was to create something unconventional using their chopped fruit products, in less than 5 steps, with minimal/easy cooking. Seeing as I have an affinity for Asian cuisine, I opted to make an Asian dish. What transpired was a Thai-Style Tropical Shrimp Cocktail!

It was a bit of a last minute entry, but lucky I entered because I won! (My classmate won the other prize as well :)). I had been waiting to post this entry because they were going to post the recipe on their website (and I had wanted to link it), but alas, it still has not made it. But they did send me a stack of postcards/recipe cards they made up for my recipe :) These cards are meant to be distributed at shows and retailers, so it's kind of neat to be "in print"!


Thai-Style Tropical Shrimp Cocktail (serves 6)

18 Medium-sized shrimp, cooked and peeled
1 cup Sun Rich Pineapple Chunks
1 cup Sun Rich Orange Sections
1 cup Sun Rich Grapefruit Sections
1 cup Sun Rich Mango Chunks
2 tbsp. Chopped fresh cilantro

2 tbsp. Lime juice, fresh
1 tsp. Rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. Fish Sauce
1.5 tsp. Brown Sugar
1/8 tsp. Bird's eye chili, finely minced
1/8 tsp. Lime zest, finely minced
Salt to taste

1. Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl.
2. Add fruit and cilantro to the dressing and toss thoroughly to coat.
3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for flavours to develop.
4. Prior to service, add shrimp and toss. Serve immediately in individual glasses for cocktail appetizers, or as a side dish.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

: wedding cake making 101 :

When I found out my friend Caity was getting married this summer, I immediately thought that for her wedding present, I would decorate her wedding cake. This was just before I had started my Baking classes, so I figured I would learn a thing or two about cake decorating and fondant.

I was wrong.

I learned nothing about fondant! (Though I did learn how to frost a cake). Now, some of you may recall my previous post about my fondant ducks, but working with fondant for a cake is a whole different story. You need to use a much larger amount, make sure the consistency is correct, and that is rolls properly and is pliable enough to wrap the cake without cracking.

The other challenge was that I was going to make a three-tier cake, and would need to use dowels to hold up the top cake tiers... which I've also never had the experience of doing.

(Is it obvious that I like a challenge?)

Nonetheless, I took this task in stride and even under-went the process of making my own large-batch fondant for this wedding cake. I kept the decoration very simple as it was my first wedding cake (and I didn't want to - horror of horrors - mess it up!). I played around with some ribbons and things, but in the end decided to decorate the cake with edible flowers from Caity's parents' farm.

The result?

I thought it turned out to be a very beautiful, simple and sophisticated wedding cake!! And most importantly, the bride and groom loved it!

Congratulations Caity and Samuel!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

: countertop buzz :

As you may have noticed, there's been a lack of posts lately on kitchen mischief. I'm still testing and developing recipes, but alas, most of it has been done at work! Chef Ian and I at the Compliments Culinary Centre at George Brown College have been having some fun cooking up storms in the kitchen (most of which you'll find in the upcoming Holiday issue of Inspired Magazine!). In the meantime, here's a delicious summer wrap that we cooked up recently - take a peek at Counterbuzz for this recipe and other tasty ones!

Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps (makes 4 Wraps)

450g Compliments Balance Lean Ground Chicken
1 can 227ml water chestnuts, chopped
4 tbsp (60ml) Compliments Sensations Lemongrass and Four Peppercorn Marinade
1 cup (250ml) diced onion
1 tbsp (15ml) Compliments Pure Olive Oil
1 tbsp (15ml) Hoisin sauce
¼ cup cilantro chopped
1 head hydroponic bib lettuce

1. In a heated pan, add oil and diced onion. Stir fry for about 2 minutes until onions are translucent.
2. Add ground chicken and water chestnuts and cook until chicken is done.
3. Add Compliments Sensations Lemongrass and Four Peppercorn Marinade, Hoisin sauce and cilantro and combine thoroughly.
4. Spoon chicken filling into individual "lettuce cups".
5. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2009

: coffee crisp cake :

There are lots of wonderful treats only available in Canada that I missed when I lived overseas. Maple syrup was one of them, and the other - Coffee Crisp. I happen to love both coffee and chocolate, so it's no surprise that I was immediately smitten with this candy the first time tried it! I decided to pay tribute to this bar of deliciousness by turning it into a cake. Layers of vanilla cake, creamy coffee icing and crispy wafer cookies add lots of texture to this cake, and the chocolate glaze is the finishing touch to making this dessert absolutely unbelievable!

Coffee Crisp Cake


1 store-bought vanilla loaf cake, or vanilla cake mix baked in a 9x5 inch loaf pan
2 x 150g cappuccino or vanilla flavoured wafer cookies

Coffee Icing:
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter
4 cups icing sugar

Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp butter
2 x 100g milk chocolate bars, chopped

1. Use a serrated knife to cut edges off loaf cake to make a rectangular brick. Carefully cut cake sideways into 3 1/2-in slices. Freeze slices in one layer on a baking sheet until ready to use.
2. To make icing, stir whipping cream with instant coffee and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Microwave for 15 sec until cream is hot. Stir to dissolve coffee. In a large bowl, beat unsalted butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually beat in icing sugar, adding cream when it gets too thick. Set icing aside.
3. Place one slice of cake on a platter. Spread a thin layer of icing over cake. Top with wafer cookies. Spread with another thin layer of icing. Repeat with 2 more layers of cake, icing and wafers. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. (It's fine if it looks a bit messy as it will get covered in chocolate glaze.) Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes.
4. To make glaze, microwave whipping cream and butter for 15 to 30 sec until cream is hot. Pour over chopped milk chocolate in a bowl. Stir until chocolate is melted. Let the chocolate cool slightly. It will thicken up a bit.
5. Pour glaze over top of cake. Use a metal spatula to spread the glaze over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
6. Slice and enjoy!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

: shrimp quesadillas :

Growing up, I was always under the impression that certain foods were a no-no when it came to eating a cholesterol-free diets. My mum in particular suffers from high blood cholesterol, so has always tried to shy away (or at least limit) her intake of what she perceived as "high cholesterol foods". One of these foods is shrimp, which I happen to love!

In one of my Nutrition classes this past year, my professor (who is a registered dietitian) actually told us that despite the fact that eating shrimp does raise your LDL cholesterol level slightly, it will also raise your HDL cholesterol (this is the GOOD cholesterol which removes LDL/bad cholesterol from your body). Coupled with the fact that shrimp is low in fat officially makes this seafood quite a healthy treat after all!

To show my appreciation for my low-fat shrimp friends, I decided to try incorporating them in a mexican dish, and this awesome shrimp quesadilla did not disappoint!!! Perfect for a summer meal out on the patio with a couple beers, this can also be grilled up on your barbecue!

You can also add cilantro to the quesadilla filling, but I served this with my mango salsa (which already contains cilantro) so I didn't feel it required any more.


Shrimp Quesadillas (makes 4 servings)

325g shrimps (about 40 medium), shelled, de-veined
1 cup red onion, diced
1 cup bell pepper, diced (I used green, but you can use any colour)
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1 small red bird's eye chili, minced (you can also substitute with 1/2 a jalapeno pepper)
2 tsp canola oil
4 x 10" Whole Wheat tortillas
1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
Black pepper

1. In a hot pan, add 1 tsp of oil and saute shrimp for 2-3 minutes, or until mostly cooked through. Set aside.
2. In the same pan, add the remaining oil and saute onion, bell pepper, garlic and chili for 2 minutes until onion is translucent.
3. Spread veggie mixture on half a tortilla and layer with shrimp and cheese.

4. Fold the other half of tortilla skin over the filling, and bake in 400F oven for 7 minutes (or until tortilla is lightly browned and crisp).
5. Remove from oven and serve with mango salsa!

Monday, May 11, 2009

: you make friends with salad :

When the weather starts to get warmer, roasts and stews take the backburner in my mind and I start craving lighter meals. One of our favourite salads in this house is a mango chicken salad. So easy to make, super healthy, and I even add a little extra protein and fibre to this with some sesame seeds, flax seeds, and almonds.

I threw together the dressing by experimenting with a few different condiments in my pantry. Granted, I do think my condiment collection is quite extensive (I own 11 different kinds of vinegars), but you can easily find all these ingredients in your local grocery store :)

Interesting fact - when you see mustard in a dressing, it isn't necessarily used for flavouring purposes, but works as an emulsifier to help suspend two immiscible (un-blendable) liquids. In this case, oil vs everything else! While the dressing isn't really mixed together, it gives the illusion that it is.

Isn't food science fun?

Mango Chicken Salad (makes 4 servings):

2 x sweet ripe mangoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 x chicken breasts
8 cups baby spinach
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp flax seeds
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Sesame-soy dressing (below)

1. Toast sesame seeds, flax seeds and sliced almonds in a pan until slightly browned and aromatic. Set aside.
2. Cook chicken breast on a grill or pan until cooked through. Let cool and dice into 1 inch cubes.
3. Dice mangoes into 1 inch cubes.
4. Assemble spinach on plate, and layer with chicken and mango.
5. Sprinkle sesame seeds and almonds on top.
6. Top with dressing.

Sesame-Soy Dressing (makes approx. 1/2 cup):

2 tsp light soy sauce
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1.5 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
8 Tbsp canola

1. Mix all ingredients together.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

: simple mango salsa :

Spring not only brings balmier weather to us in eastern Canada, but also an abundance of fruits that have been hibernating since last Fall!

Seeing as I am from the tropics, it's not suprising that one of my favourite fruits is mango. While technically mango is available year round, I am especially fond of the Ataulfo mango, which only makes an appearance in the Spring/Summer season. The Ataulfo mango is yellow-skinned with a non-fibrous, sweet, silky and meaty texture. In other words - delicious! I remember eating these as a wee child back in Asia, and the red/green varieties has just never cut it for me.

I make plenty of dishes with mangoes, but to start off, I'd like to share a very simple dish that really highlights the essence of mango. A very simple mango salsa using just three ingredients! This healthy snack is packed with vitamin C, A and other antioxidants and you can use it as a relish with fish and chicken, or simply as a dip for chips and crackers!

My Simple Mango Salsa

4 cups mangoes, diced (I dice mine really small, but you can dice them whatever size you see fit!)
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced

1. Dice mangoes and chop cilantro.
2. Combine all in a bowl and let sit and macerate for 30 minutes prior to serving.

**You can also add a little bit of chopped red chilli for a kick, or 1/2 cup of diced red onions!

Friday, May 1, 2009

: homemade yogurt :

One of the best things about culinary school is that you discover how easy it is to make foods you once thought was very difficult to make. For my food science class this year, I worked on a project with some classmates on yogurt. Although our project was mostly scientific-based, we decided to make a batch of homemade yogurt just to see what happened.

The results were outstanding, and once you realise how simple and delicious it is to make your own at home, you'll never buy store-bought yogurt again! (Added bonus - it won't have those extra additives that you always find in big brand yogurts!). The best part about making your own yogurt is that you can use any type of milk - lowfat, whole, soy, almond, etc.

The following pictures were taken during our yogurt-making trial, and provides step-by-step directions.

Give it a try! Your bones and teeth will thank you :)

Homemade Yogurt (makes 4 cups)

4 Tbsp plain yogurt (okay, you do need to buy store-bought yogurt, but just for this first run)
4 cups milk (whole, lowfat, soy, almond, etc.)

1. Sterilize your milk by heating and bringing it just to boiling point, and then turn off heat. Let your milk cool until it reaches a lukewarm temperature (about 100°F).

2. Transfer your milk to a holding container (or several small glass containers for individual servings) where your yogurt will eventually set.

3. Whisk your yogurt to remove any lumps and whisk into your milk thoroughly.

4. Place your container in a warm dry environment to encourage bacteria growth, fermentation and coagulation. As you can see, we placed our container over a heat vent and insulated it with a tea cozy. You can also pre-heat your oven to 125°F and turn it off prior to placing your container in the oven.

The optimal incubation temperature is between 95°F and 115°F. Make sure you check the temperature of your mixture every hour or so to make sure the temperature is within that range. If it's close to 95°F, just preheat your oven again to about 115°F and turn it off when it reaches that temperature.

5. After 4-6 hours, your mixture will magically turn into yogurt!!

Depending if you like your yogurt runny or thicker, milder or tarter, you can incubate your yogurt for longer than 4-6 hours (longer incubation will yield a thicker and tarter yogurt). Once you're happy with your yogurt consistency, refrigerate it straight away to prevent further fermentation.

Your yogurt should last about 2-3 weeks in the fridge. And just before you run out, you can use this yogurt to make your next batch!


Friday, April 10, 2009

: easter egg hunt :

We all know that Easter is all about chocolate, eggs, and chocolate eggs. So I decided to make a chocolate cake pop egg to celebrate the holidays.


I made the eggs using the cake pop method with some leftover chocolate cake I had in the freezer. I even hid a little surprise in each of my egg-shaped pops... keep reading to find out what!

I melted some white chocolate slabs using a double boiler, and attempted to dip half of each egg and then let dry before I dipped the other half. I quickly realised this method was not ideal. The white chocolate was too thick and was leaving blobs on my eggs.

This was not going to work out.

I decided the try doing a pour-over method instead, thinning out the white chocolate with shortening. I placed my eggs on a rack over a tray and poured the white chocolate mixture over it, making sure all sides of the eggs were covered.

This yielded a much better result. So much so infact, that one has to wonder...

Is this an egg? Or an egg?

And when you bite into it....

There's even a yolk! (Made with yellow cake mixed with frosting).

I actually first tried to make this using a sponge cake I had in the freezer, but the cake was too yellow and although I dyed the yolk part with yellow food colouring, there wasn't much differentiation.

For a more "authentic" cakey-hard-boiled egg, try it with a white cake (but remove the top/bottom/side which will brown during baking), and then dye the yolk bit yellow.

Happy Easter!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

: roasted beet risotto :

There's something really glamorous about risotto that I just can't quite grasp. Maybe it's the fact that it's so labour intensive to make. Maybe it's that it just tastes so decadent.

Well, whatever the reason, I decided I wanted to try and make a beet risotto as I had some leftover in the fridge I wanted to use up. I recently visited the St. Lawrence Farmer's Market where I had bought some farm-fresh veggies:

I thought that by roasting the beets, the sweetness that resulted would meld really well will the savoury saltiness of parmesan cheese... mmmm...

To roast the beets, I sliced them up (approx. 1/2 inch) and placed them on a baking tray with some olive oil and roasted them in a 400F oven.

About 15 minutes later, I flipped the beets over so they would cook evenly on both sides. About another 15 minutes later, I took them out of the oven and let them cool.

Then I used a fun cookie cutter and cut some of the beets into flower shapes for decoration. I finely diced up the rest of the beets to add to the risotto.

When you add the chopped beets to the risotto, it will turn the most fabulous shocking magenta colour!

The resulting dish looked gorgeous and was soooo delicious.

Roasted Beet Risotto (makes 6 servings)

10 Small beets, roasted (approx. 1.5 cups small dice)
Olive oil
1 small Onion, finely diced
3 Garlic cloves, minced
4-5 sprigs of Thyme
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup Red wine (I used Chianti since that's what I had lying around)
7 cups low-sodium Chicken stock (or you could use half regular stock, half water)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper (for seasoning)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Peel beets and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Place slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, making sure beets are coated on both sides. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
2. After 15 minutes, flip beets over and let roast for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool to the touch, chop beets into small dice (brunoise), or you can cut them into fun shapes. Set aside.
3. Place a large saucepan/pot to medium heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion and saute until translucent.
4. Add garlic and thyme sprigs and saute until fragrant. (As a note, I don't bother pulling the leaves off the thyme as by the end up this, all the leaves will fall off the stems anyway).
5. Add the arborio rice and stir until all the grains are coated.
6. Add the red wine and stir until wine is absorbed into the rice. The rice will turn a very unattractive cloudy grey-ish colour... but not to worry! This is only temporary :)
7. Add chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time and consistently stir until rice has absorbed each batch of liquid. Towards the 7th cup of liquid, the rice will start to get a little creamy as it releases its starches. Depending on how you like your risotto (al dente), you can add a little bit less liquid. Just have a taste and see what tickles your fancy.
8. When all liquid has been absorbed, turn off the heat, and IMPORTANT: pull out all thyme stems!!! Nobody wants to eat a stem.
9. Add grated parmesan cheese and diced beets and stir through until thoroughly combined.
9. Season as you wish with salt and pepper, and serve!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

: braised pork, tofu and eggplant :

My roommate is a picky eater. So, I take it upon myself to cook foods she claims not to like and try to force her to enjoy it :) But in all seriousness, I think most people claim not to like certain foods because they've only tried it cooked in certain ways. In this dish, I've taken two of my roommate's least favourite ingredients, tofu and eggplants (which taste relatively bland by itself), and braised it with pork in a delicious spicy and savoury sauce. The good thing about tofu and eggplants is that they're like sponges, so they suck up all the saucy goodness, turning them from flat to flavourful! Needless to say, this dish is now a favourite in the house.

Braised Pork, Tofu and Eggplant (serves 6)

1 T vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground pork
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 package (425g) regular/medium tofu, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock
3 T oyster sauce
1 T dark soy sauce
2 T chili garlic sauce (or more/less depending on how much you like spice!)
1 T cornstarch
1 green onion, sliced thin
Pinch of white pepper


1. Add oil to hot wok (or pot/saucepan) and fry garlic and ground pork until just cooked through.
2. Add eggplant, chicken stock, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and chili garlic sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to medium, cover and let braise for 7-10 minutes or until eggplant is tender.
3. Add tofu and mix around to make sure the tofu gets all saucy.
4. Simmer for another 15 minutes on medium heat for the tofu to absorb the sauce.
5. Mix cornstarch with a bit of cold water and add to mixture to thicken the sauce.
6. Add white pepper and sliced green onions at the last minute.
7. Serve with rice!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

: get fruity :

I've never really considered myself much of a baker. As much as I love cakes, pastries and sweets, I've always been more of an eater, and less the maker. So it's a bit surprising to myself that most of my posts thus far have been about desserts.

I think the one thing I've discovered since creating this blog is that desserts are one of the most fun foods to jazz up! It's so easy to make a simple dessert look completely elegant, or oh so cute. (Okay, maybe those ducks actually did take quite some time to make! But you get the idea). As such, I've currently been mostly experimenting with desserts and how to make them look delicious and attractive (on camera and off!).

I made this fruit flan in my Culinary Desserts class, and it looked so good that I just had to share. The recipe is also dead simple, and straight from our class workbook. And it's actually quite good! Measurements are all in grams/ml, and some adaptations apply.

Fruit Flan (makes one flan)

100g Sugar
170g Shortening
3g Salt
1/4 t Vanilla extract
1 Eggs
25ml Milk
300g Pastry flour

375ml Whole milk
75g Sugar
30g Cornstarch
1 Eggs
1/2 t Vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Melted chocolate (about 1/4 cup, enough to cover your pastry crust bottom.
Fruits (of your choice)
Apricot jam, heated up with a little bit of water to a glazing consistency

1. To prepare pastry crust, cream together sugar, shortening and vanilla until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl. Add milk and just disperse.
3. Sift and add flour. Blend until incorporated - DO NOT OVERMIX.
4. Work dough on floured table. Chill until needed.
5. For the custard filling: In a saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch and 1/2 the sugar and bring to a boil.
6. In a bowl, whisk eggs with the remaining sugar until pale and slightly thickened
7. Temper the egg mixture and add to saucepan.
8. Whisk until mixture thickens, ensuring it is smooth and lump-free, then remove from heat and add vanilla and mix through.
9. Pour pudding onto a clean sheet of plastic on a tray (to prevent skin from forming) and refrigerate and let cool.
10. Roll out pastry crust to 1/4 inch thickness and line flan or tart pans. Poke holes with a fork in the dough. Bake shell in 350F oven until golden brown (15-30 min).
11. When pastry shell is ready, let cool slightly and 'paint' on melted chocolate to prevent soggy bottoms.
12. When chocolate has cooled completely, add custard and smooth out.
13. Arrange a variety of fruits in an artistic design covering all cream (I used strawberry, tangerines and kiwis).
14. Glaze fruits with melted apricot jam.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

: the mommy diaries :

I'm sure many chefs and home cooks alike will agree that their love of food stemmed from their parents' home cooking. I'm no different. Growing up, the best cook I knew was definitely my mother, and I draw many of my inspirations from her home cooking. I remember when I was a young'un, I wanted to be just like her and would pretend to cook "carrots" (cut-up pieces of orange construction paper), "onions" (cut-up pieces of white construction paper), and "celery" (you get the idea) in my "saucepan" (old cookie tins).

Of course, back in those days, all I did was just make a mess of confetti. These days, I try to re-create my mom's cooking whenever I'm craving comfort food, and this simple Thai-Style Fried Rice with Chinese Sausages is one of my favourite adaptations. And I hope it can be yours too! And mom, you're still my favourite chef!! :)

Thai-Style Fried Rice (makes approx. 7 cups)

4 cups cooked rice (rice stored overnight in the fridge works best)
2 x Chinese sausages (laap cheong), small dice (or you can use chicken, etc.)
1 x Tomato, small dice (flesh only)
1 medium onion, small dice (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup Green peas
3/4 cup Corn kernels
2 x Eggs, cracked into a bowl and whisked with 2 T of water
2 x Garlic cloves, minced
2 t canola oil
1-2 Birds Eye Chili, sliced thin (optional)
1 x Green onion, sliced thin (optional)
3 T Fish Sauce
Juice from 1/2 lime

1. Heat wok, and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Saute onions on medium heat.
2. Add garlic, making sure not to burn! Add tomatoes.
3. Stir fry until tomato juices have evaporated, and then add peas, corn and chinese sausages. Fry until everything is heated through.
4. Remove from wok and set aside.
5. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to wok, and add egg mixture. Cook until you have a fluffy omelette. Break up omelette into small pieces (uniform with diced sausages, peas, corn, etc.)
6. Add vegetable mixture and rice into the wok and combine.
7. Add fish sauce and lime juice and combine.
8. Add sliced chilis and green onions (if adding).
9. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

: i'm not irish, but kiss me anyway :

Every year comes a holiday that celebrates red and green*. And a holiday that celebrates pink, yellow and green**. And then there's that holiday that celebrates all things green***.

But why does it always have to be about green? What makes green so special? Why do colours like brown and black always get overlooked?

Well, I'm about turn this holiday upside down. Brown is back.

A very dark brown, to be specific.

I was asked to make some cupcakes for a St. Patrick's Day breakfast event last Friday, and I had been seeing lots of "stout cupcakes" around the blog-o-sphere. Nigella Lawson (my idol) has a fantastic recipe for a Guinness Chocolate Cake that I decided to adapt to make Guinness mini cupcakes.

I love Guinness.

I love cupcakes.

It's genius!

To make it even more celebratory, I decided to make the mini cupcakes in little cups and pipe my frosting to make it look like mini pints of Guinness.

They may not have gotten anyone drunk, but they sure did get everyone in the St. Patrick's Day spirit!


Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guinness Cake (makes approx. 30 mini cupcakes)

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup Guinness (or other stouts)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups plain flour (*I used cake flour)
2 cups sugar (*I used one cup of white sugar, one cup of brown sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

1. Combine melted butter, stout and cocoa powder in a large bowl.
2. Add the eggs and sour cream and mix thoroughly.
3. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt into the wet ingredients and combine thoroughly.
4. Pour batter into oven-proof paper cups (I line mine with parchment paper for easy removal).
5. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until a toothpick pushed into the center comes out clean (around 15-25 minutes depending on your oven).

Chocolate Fluffy Frosting

1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1-2 T Chocolate syrup, or to taste (ie. Nestle Quik)


1. In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Add chocolate syrup to taste.

***If you don't know this by now, you don't deserve to

Sunday, March 15, 2009

: rubber duckie, you're the one :

I was commissioned to bake two dozen mini cupcakes this weekend for a baby shower, and rather than the standard piped frosting, I decided to get a little creative with the cupcake embellishments.

I've never used fondant before, so naturally, I decided to forgo buying ready-made fondant and tried to make my own instead. I found a rather interesting recipe online that uses jello powder, but it didn't quite work out. I played around with the ingredients, and finally found a combination that formed something pliable. I'll post the adapted recipe sometime in the future when I have a chance to experiment again.

I decided to use the fondant to make little rubber ducks on a bed of piped blue Swiss Meringue Buttercream on Vanilla cupcakes.

Here are my ducks on the lookout:

Here are my ducks forming an army:

And here's their final resting place:

My last duckie didn't have a cupcake to sit on:

Vanilla Cupcake recipe from Joy of Baking.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe from Martha Stewart.

Monday, March 9, 2009

: breakfast of champions :

Since I'm in school for culinary arts & nutrition, it's only fitting that I post a nutritious recipe once in while (amidst all the cupcakes!). Two years ago, I was browsing through the cookbook section of a bookstore and came across a whole-wheat oatmeal pancake recipe along with what I'm assuming was a really great photo. It looked very simple to make, so I decided to give it a try and noted the recipe on my cell phone.

The pancakes turned out to be one of those really dense yet fluffy hotcakes, with lots of meaty texture. None of that wimpy flat pancake business! Because the addition of the oatmeal, the pancakes are a little bit dryer than most, but nothing that syrup can't fix :) And lots of fibre and good carbohydrates too.

To this day, this is my go-to recipe for pancakes. I've never written down the recipe, and still consult my cell phone whenever I make it! Unfortunately, it's been years, so I can't remember the book from which this recipe is from!

Oh, and I like these with a bit of Lyle's Golden Syrup too :)

Okay, maybe a little bit more...

Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes (makes about 5 medium sized cakes)

1 cup Whole-Wheat flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/8 teaspoon Salt
4 tablespoons Sugar
1/3 cup Oats (quick cooking, rolled)
2/3 cup Milk
2 Eggs
1-2 tablespoons Canola oil or Butter

1. Combine dry ingredients.
2. Add eggs and 2/3 cup milk. It will make a thick batter.
3. Let sit for about 15 minutes for the the oatmeal to absorb the liquid.
4. Heat up a flat bottomed pan on medium heat, and add a bit of oil or butter to grease up the pan.
5. Add pancake batter in dollops (I personally use my 1/3 cup measure to make 5 uniform sized medium pancakes. If you're making canape sized, just use a spoon).
6. The batter is very thick, so use a spoon or other tool to flatten it out to the thickness you want. (I like mine thick and meaty). The batter will rise a fair amount as well.
7. After about 2 minutes, check underside. When browned to your desire, flip over.
8. Enjoy with a bountiful amount of your syrup of choice :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

: good things come in extra small packages :

I've been a food blog lurker for years, but only recently started checking out baking sites and happened to stumble across Bakerella, the baking genius behind "cake pops"! I clicked through every page of her blog, growing more impressed by each culinary dessert creation. Her creativity was infectious. I too wanted to re-invent desserts into cute new packages!

I decided to start slow. I am, after all, only a novice baker!

I had some leftover cupcakes from the baby shower, so I decided to turn them into cupcake lollipops (sans the lollipop stick). So really... just extra-small chocolate covered cupcake-shaped cakes. I crumbled them up and mixed them in with my deflated frosting (it came in handy after all!).


I think I need more practice :) But hey, it's only my first time! And they're taaasty.... :)

Visit Bakerella's post for step-by-step instructions and photos! She even appeared on the Martha Stewart show last year during Cupcake Week, showcasing her "good things" :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

: gourmet ham and cheese :

Sometimes I don't leave class until well into the evening and by the time I get home, I'm starving. Tonight was no different and the first thing I did when I arrived home was to peruse my fridge contents. What's quick, easy to assemble, and delicious? I decided to try a new version of ham and cheese - gourmet style!

For the cheese, I mixed together equal parts light cream cheese and goat cheese, and threw in some chopped green onions as well.

For the ham, I decided on some deliciously pungent and salty prosciutto.


Gourmet Ham and Cheese

1 T goat cheese
1 T light cream cheese
1 t green onion, chopped fine
2 slices of prosciutto
1 bagel, sliced in half, toasted

1. Mix goat cheese, cream cheese and green onions together.
2. Assemble on bagel with prosciutto.
3. Eat! :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

: baby cakes :

If you know me personally, you'll know that I am an avid cupcake supporter. I love cupcakes, possibly more than life itself! But seriously. Upon my invitation to my good friend Marta's baby shower, I decided straight away that I would bring mini cupcakes to celebrate Little Walnut's impending birth. Baby shower + baby cupcakes = cute!

I debated between making a chocolate cake and banana cake, subsequently finding out that the baby mama is allergic to bananas. Chocolate it is. I decided to try out a Devil's Food Cake recipe with fluffy marshmallow-like frosting. I adapted the cake recipe from Taste and Tell with the recipe below, and the fluffy frosting from All Recipes.

The chocolate cake turned out very light, moist and not overly sweet, so it made it very easy to eat more than a few in one sitting ;) The frosting was dynamite - really light and so yummy. I attempted to use a shortcut to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream and add unsalted butter after the frosting had been whipped, but the addition of the butter completely deflated my fluffy frosting.

While still delicious, it kind of defeated my purpose of making chocolate cupcakes with "fluffy" frosting.

On another note, I found the sweetest baby shower gift - organic teething toys in the shapes of fruit! I bought these from Grassroots in Toronto.

Cute, non?

Devil's Food Mini Cupcakes (makes approx 84)

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1.5 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 1/3 cups cold water

1. Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add sugar, melted chocolate and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add flour mixture and water alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
4. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.