Chocolate Chips Marble Cake

As the saying goes,"be smart, but don't be a smart alex." Sometimes, simple instructions can also be missed out. Okay, maybe the saying is not so relevant in my case. You see, when I saw Jess baked her Chocolate Chips Sour Cream Marble Cake, I couldn't help but to drool at how deliciously wonderful it looked. I recalled I have a tub of sour cream in the fridge and immediately, I decided to curb my cravings.
Guess what? In my eagerness and determination to make this yummy looking cake, I had forgotten to grease my bundt pan! No prize for guessing correctly how the cake turned out. "Coatless" or "topless" depending on how you viewed browning in the cake. However, fret not! The recipe and the name delivered itself! It's really moist, rich and yummy! Therefore, it's one of those "I am very ugly, but I taste very good" cake for me! LOL!
I didn't follow the recipe completely. I used up my 200ml Bulla light sour cream instead of 175g. I also reduced the sugar till 250g, which I found just nice. I would prefer to omit the chocolate chips next time as I find that the chocolate chips masked the buttery and the chocolate taste of the cake. Maybe I added a bit too much chocolate chips. >_< Anyway, put this into your next "to-bake" list. I'm sure you'll love it too! And don't forget the greasing, otherwise, you'll end up in the same state as me!
I like how each slice of cake has a unique pattern. Each of them has their individual identity!

Orange Butter Cake

If you noticed, I've been rather slow lately in my posts, and my response to comments. Apologised for the delay. I have been busy at work, and a lot of personal commitments. With the school holidays coming, there'll even be more delays in updating my blog! However, rest assured that I'll still be reading through all your blogs and keep updated with your bakings, except that I might not put my comments, or will be slow in putting comments. I thanked my blogger friends or friends for being so patient with me. :)

Anyway, this is another of my delayed post. It was my helper's birthday earlier this month. During her birthday, I didn't bake any cake for her, nor buy her any cake. Since she was going to have a belated celebration with her friends last Sunday, I decided to make a simpler cake for her. Initially, I wanted to bake a small whole cake. Somehow, I changed my mind, and decided on cupcake sizes instead.

I used Alex Goh's "Lemon Butter Cake" recipe. However, I replaced it with orange, reduced the sugar by 30%, and omitted the glacing. But I used chocolate fudge to frost some of the cupcakes instead. Chocolate fudge frosting is truly unnecessary as this cake is flavourful by itself. I found this butter cake to be very light and soft. The tangy orange taste and aroma from the cake is very strong. I like it very much though.
Recipe for Orange Butter Cake, modified from "Fruity Cakes by Alex Goh".
(Makes approximately 17 cupcake-sized cakes)

250g Plain flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
250g Unsalted butter
4 Eggs
140g Fine Sugar
50g Orange juice
1 Orange zest

1. Cream (A) until smooth and fluffy.
2. Whip (B) until sugar dissolves and thickens. (Ribbon stage).
3. Add (B) into (A) and beat until well blended and smooth. Add (C) and mix well.
4. Pour the batter into silicone mould. (I used a 5-domed shape and 6-pyramid shape silicone moulds and a 6-pc muffin tray)
5. Bake at 180C for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and unmould. Set aside to cool.
(Psst, I get comments that this looks like some charcoal buns. Do you think I can pass this off as one?)

Chicken Shepherd's Pie

My helper went for her off day on Sunday. So I had to prepare lunch for the children since we were not going to my parents-in-law house. I decided to make shepherd's pie for them. I've not tried this before, however, I figured it won't be too difficult. I searched on the web and found a rather simple recipe from Exclusively Food. I didn't followed it exactly. I used chicken instead of beef. I thought it was very much like making spagetti. I want to emphasize again, one thing about cooking is, you can add or omit ingredients to your likings or availability. It's that versatile!
Recipe for Chicken Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients for Meat fillings:
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 small Onion, peeled and diced
1 medium Carrot, peeled and diced
5 Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
400g Chicken meat, diced
180g Prego Traditional Tomato sauce
30g Mixed vegetables
10 pcs Canned button mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp Sweet Basil, chopped
Salt and pepper

Mashed Potato Topping:
990g Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
30g Salted butter
70g Whole milk
100g Mozzarella cheese
1. Boil potatoes water until tender (about 20 minutes). While the potatoes are cooking, start preparing your other ingredients.
2. Heat oil in a medium size saucepan over medium heat.
3. Add garlic, onion to pan and cook for about 10 minutes.
4. Add carrots and mixed vegetables to cook until they have softened.
5. Add tomoto sauce and basil leaves to mix.
6. Add in chicken and saute. Cover and cook for about 10mins.
7. Turn off the heat.
8. Meanwhile, drain the cooked and soften potatoes.
9. Mash them in a bowl, then add butter and milk to mix.
10. Place the meat filling into an ovenproof dish.
11. Topped it with mashed potato. Use a fork to create patterns in the potato, then sprinkle potato with cheese.
12. Bake the pie in the preheat oven at 190C for about 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is golden brown.
13. Serve hot.

Beng Hiang Restaurant

There is this restaurant which we love to go for family gatherings which served my dialect group cuisine - hokkien. It's none other than Beng Hiang restaurant. My spouse and I belong to this ethnic group. My parents like this place, and so do my parents-in-law. My parents-in-law, being traditional, will prefer dining out in chinese restaurant, rather than cafes. Therefore, this place suits them very well, especially so since we were there to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday on Sunday evening.

Before I begin on the review of my favourite restaurant, I must apologise for the pictures. My iPod touch pictures just didn't do justice to the food. Its resolution is just terrible. Please bear with me.
Fish Maw Thick Soup with Crab Meat ($60). The soup was really very thick and tasty. There are crab meat, scallop shreds and loads of fish maws. This is a must have soup when you visit the restaurant. It truly beats having sharks fin soup! It's very satisfying too!  
Spiced Sausage & Fried Prawn Balls ($20). Their spiced sausage or 五香 is really fragrant. The spice is not over-powering. The minced meat is soft. The skin is crispy. Dipped it in the sweet sauce and chilli, popped it into the mouth and let the minced meat juice flow! The fried prawn ball has a different type of crispy skin. It's similar to spiced sausage, except that it doesn't have the spiced powder. 
Crispy Roast Chicken ($28). This is the leanest crispy skin you can have! There is simply no trace of fats in the chicken skin. And it is very very cripsy. The chicken meat is very soft and tender. I can tell you, this is a huge chicken! It comes with pepper and salt for you to dip your chicken meat.
Thai Baby Kai-Lan ($16). I told the captain to load it with lots of garlic. And here it was, fried baby kai lan with lots of whole garlics and "bian yu". As the vegetables were not separated, it could get quite tough at the joints. Even so, it was quite good. I like this type of vegetables! 
Steamed Bread with Braised Brisket (“Kong Ba Bao”) ($14). Aww...this is another must-haves! The braised pork belly is salty and good! The sauce is very very dark. It is not very fatty, enough fats to feel the "collagen" and enough meat to chew on. They sliced it so thinly, it fits nicely into the steamed bread! Add more sauce when you sandwich it and feel the sauce dripped down your mouth as you bite into it! It's unsightly, but that's the way to enjoy this! Hahaha...
Fried Hokkien Noodles ($16). Traditional hokkien noodles. It's very wet. You can feel the gravy being left on your lips as you slurp up the noodles. Top notch. 
Black Glutinous Rice with Coconut Cream. Dessert is complimentary from the restaurant. You don't always get the same dessert when you are there. As you know, complimentary means, you cannot complaint nor expect too much. It's a bit watery, even though the black glutinous rice is very soft and nice. The soup base taste like coconut water...not much of the glutinous taste. Overall, it's still edible. My daughter said this is her favourite. My son knew this was a complimentary item, he didn't finish it as he said he was too full.
The servings and the food were just nice for the 10 of us, which included 5 children. There is no service charge, however you'll have to pay for the tea at $1/pax and the peanuts at $2.00 per plate. Actually the peanuts are quite nice also. I believe it was nice because it was fresh due to the high turnover of customers. The place is quite run down, so don't expect posh or nicely decorated ambience. Parking around this area can be a huge problem. So go early if possible. Coupons are required at anytime of the day!

Beng Hiang Restaurant
112 - 116 Amoy Street
Singapore 069932
Tel: (65) 6221 6695
Fax: (65) 6220 2906

Mon - Sun
Lunch 11:30am - 2:30pm (last order)
Dinner 6:00pm - 9:30pm (last order)

Garlic Cheese Loaves

It was PSLE marking days for the last few days. No lessons for primary school students. I had to take leave for two days and stayed home with the kids. I needed to as I wanted to coach my eldest son in his studies. I knew that if I were to leave him alone to study during the four days, it will be as good as the days wasted.

For me, the most important food to bake during this period is bread, for breakfast. I know I will have time to bake this while I let him attempt mocked questions. I bought Judy Koh's Pockets of Happiness for quite sometime and haven't tried any of the recipe yet. I decided I shall try the bread, and attempt the Garlic Cheese Loaves.

For the overnight sponge dough, I used normal bread flour. For the actual dough, I used wholemeal wheat flour. From my previous experience with wholemeal wheat flour, these were my observations:

1) The bread won't rise to twice its size. Mainly because it is natural and doesn't have leavening agent.
2) The dough will be slightly drier. The final dough is not as wet as those with processed bread flour. I found it easier to handle.
3) The baked bread will be denser than those baked with processed bread flour. It won't be as airy and fluffy as those.
4) As for the taste, it taste exactly like Prima's wholemeal flour, except that it is much finer.
5) Quantity will be lesser and size will be smaller if you use the same wholemeal flour weight vs bread flour. Which means that, using the equal weight for both flours, you will have to expect that the final output of the wholemeal flour will be smaller in size or lesser in quantity.
Ever since I started using this wholemeal wheat flour, I tried not to use bread flour alone. I will add some wholemeal flour into the bread flour, even though it means the size or quantity will be compromise. Psychologically, I feel healthier. However, I do not know if using this wholemeal wheat flour will prevent me from gaining weight if I eat too much compared to normal bread flour. Does anyone has any information on this?
Anyway, this garlic cheese loaves is really nice. I didn't use cheddar cheese cubes as stated in the recipe. I used normal cheddar cheese slices instead. Also, I realised that my garlic topping didn't stay well on top. All of them dropped out when I cut the loaves. I think it would have been better if the garlic toppings were added before baking the doughs.
Besides those, I really like this bread as, firstly, it does not contain egg. Secondly, the amount of sugar is really minimum. And lastly, it uses olive oil instead of butter. I had it dipped in olive oil for breakfast and it sure makes a satisfied meal!
Recipe for Garlic Cheese Loaves, adapted from "Pockets of Happiness by Judy Koh"

(Makes 3 loaves)

Overnight Sponge:
300g Bread flour
1/8 tsp Instant yeast
210g Water
1/8 tsp Salt

1. Mix the yeast, bread flour, salt and water till smooth. Cover and let it ferment overnight or for at least 8 hours. (I left it in the fridge overnight.)

Main Dough:
300g Wholemeal wheat flour
9g Salt
2g Instant yeast
2g Sugar
210g Water
20g Olive oil
150g Cheddar cheese, cubed (I used 6 slices of cheddar cheese slices as I don't have anymore. I would have used at least 3 slices for each loaf)

Garlic Topping:
25g Chopped garlic
100g Butter, melted
10g Fresh parsley, chopped (I used fresh sweet basil leaves)
--> Combine all ingredients and mix well (I didn't mix the butter with garlic and basil.)

1. Combine the fermented sponge with the dough ingredients and knead in a mixer till it forms into a smooth and elastic dough.
2. Divde the dough into 3 equal pieces, about 340g each. Round each piece of dough. Cover and set aside for 15mins.
3. Flatten each piece of dough before adding some cubed cheddar cheese, about 50g per piece. Roll up the dough and shape into oval shape.
4. Proof in a proofer or in a warm and moist place for about an hour or till they are double in size.
5. Slash the tops of the risen dough with a sharp blade and bake at 190C for about 25mins, or till golden brown.
6. Spread the garlic butter toppings over the loaves and return to the oven to bake for about 10mins till they are fragrant. (I brush the loaves with soften butter, then topped them with garlic and basil. For this final step, I moved my bread loaves to a higher rack, use grilled function to brown the garlic.)

Chocolate Steamed Buns (man tou)

Me: "I thought you didn't want to make any more mantous?"
Myself: "If I don't make, I'm afraid the kids have nothing to eat in the morning."
Me: "There're still some more breads in the container."
Myself: "Nevermind, I'll just make some and keep it in the fridge, so that they can eat anytime!"

Do you often have self talks? Well, I do, once in a while. Not exactly in this case actually. I hesitated a little before deciding if I should make lots of them. As you know, I have a large family. Erm...not actually very large. Okay, correction needed. I have three small mouths to feed. However, when it comes to foods that the three small mouths like, one small mouth can eat three shares! So you can imagine, sometimes, I really need to "mass produce" or bulk purchase!
In the end, I managed to convince myself to make chocolate steamed buns for my children. They loved these chocolate buns very much! They were pretty small when I made it, so the boys could eat at least four of these at one time! It didn't take long to finish them though. I took this recipe from Florence's blog. Thanks to Fiona who recommended me to try it!

Jane's Pizzeria

Don't be mistaken. It's not another post on food review. This time, I made pizzas from my home kitchen. My parents and siblings missed my pizzas. So I invited them over to my place for pizza on one of the Saturday two weeks back. However, I found that I have overbaked them, therefore, making them slightly hard. Nevertheless my family still took them, and finished them all! So supportive!

Whenever I entertain at home, whether it's family members or friends, I like to plan in totality. From drinks to starters to main course to desserts. Therefore, on a Saturday evening, I prepared a four-course meal and a drink.

I like to start off the meal with some refreshing drinks. That will be ice-cold lemongrass drink. Boil a few bulbs of chopped and mashed lemongrass in a pot of water. Add sugar to taste. Refridgerate till chilly cold, then serve. Add ice if required.

Salad was prepared by my helper. Ever since I saw HHB in sharing her salad dressing, I've been using that for my salad now. A whole lot of ingredients were used to prepare a wholesome salad: coral lettuce, royal lettuce, cherry tomatoes, yellow & green capsicums, onions, raisins, olives, button mushrooms and almond flakes with olive oil, lemon juice, rock salt and black pepper.

As I bought quite a lot of tomatoes from the supermarket lately, I decided to make tomato basil soup. The verdict? It was really good according to my family members. This is something new which they have not tried from my kitchen before though.
The main course for the evening was Assorted Pizzas. I baked the pizza base first, then add the toppings.
Chicken Pizza. Shredded chicken, yellow & green capsicums, onions, button mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. Baked to melt the cheese.
Wasabi Mayo Salmon Pizza. Flaked salmon, onions, capsicums and wasabi mayo. The mixing ratio for mayo and wasabi is approximately 3:1.

Smoked Salmon Pizza. This was prepared by my sister, who sponsored the smoked salmon. Mayo and dill were mixed and spread on the baked pizza base. Followed by smoked salmon, ring onions and olives. Dill and black pepper were sprinkled on it. This is my all-time favourite! Yummy!
Prawns and Chicken Pizza. Prawns, shredded chicken, capsicums, olives, onions, button mushrooms, pineapples, and cheese. Baked to melt the cheese.
After dinner, we rested for a while before I served my dessert. Dessert of the day was dark chocolate tarts. I had one which I added liquer cherry in it. When you bite onto the cherry, the liquer oozed out from it made it feel so shiok! One of my favourite way of eating it!
You can tell from the amount of food that my family sure loves good foods. Next round, I'll be wondering what to make... Jane's kopi-tiam style?

Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake

I had an order for a huge chocolate birthday cake for a 4-year-old girl earlier last week. It was from my cousin. He requested for a cinderella on the cake.
Actually, I had it all planned out on what to do for the week. Unfortunately, I was down with gastric flu even before I could start! I quickly nursed myself back to normal and accelerated my planning and baking. Thankfully, I was able to complete the cake on time. The recipe I used for the chocolate fudge was improvised from here.

Cook and Feed with Love @ Peace Connect

We cooked. We came. We fed. We went.
Two months ago, Edith started initiating a "cook and feed" for an elderly centre near her place. She started inviting a few bloggers for this session. The organising committee included herself, Jo, Shirley and Zhuoyuan. They met up, took the lead and came out with a healthy menu for the luncheon. They ensured that the food we prepared has low salt, low sugar and soft enough for the old folks to swallow. I volunteered to fry bee hoon, and was made the team lead for this item. Gradually, by word of mouth, we also gathered some passionate non-bloggers to join in this cooking session.
A total of 17 passionate persons (plus some of their friends or family members) gathered this morning at Peace Connect. We had a briefing by the centre manager, Lucy, before we adjourned to our "work station". Some of us knew what we wanted to do, while others wait around to fill the gaps of where help would be needed. In summary, we made ourselves useful.
The queue started early and orderly. The quantity we prepared was meant to be for 80 persons. However, I think most of us cooked more than enough to feed >100 persons! The elderly complimented on our food, and were happy to see us at the centre. Hope over to their blogs (including mine) to check out these nutritious foods.

Zhuoyuan's Red Bean Soup
In appreciation of our time and efforts, Lucy invited one of the elderly man to sing us his favourite hokkien song. Apparently, many of the old folks in the centre enjoyed singing. The event was over in a flash. The elderly, after filling their stomach, took their leave one by one. There was enough left overs for some of them to packet home. We helped to clean up the area before we left.

It is really heart-warming to know that there are many people in this country who geniunely cares for the old and elderly. People like Lucy, the centre manager, and one of her staff, Elizabeth. It is also good to know that there are some corporate sponsors who help to feed the elderly in the centre.  It was a good opportunity for me to meet and know more people during this session, bloggers or non-bloggers alike.
Specialy thanks to Edith for organising and doing all the coordination. Thanks to the organising committee, and the rest of the volunteers, for a heart-warming day. Hopefully, we can have another of this session again next year. :)

These are the rest of the passionate bloggers.
Judy -
Wendy -
Doris -
Winnie -
Christine -
Esther -
Sheryl -
Jess -
Eelin -

Beancurd with Barley Dessert

Recently, I have a liking for this dessert - Beancurd with Barley (Fu Chok Tong Shui). It started because one of my colleague only takes this dessert. I tried it once with her, and I like it very much. So I decided to learn how to make it. It's really easy. I think it's easier than Tau Suan. I've bought the bean curd sheets quite sometime back, and didn't get to do it till Sunday morning.
Recipe for Beancurd with Barley Dessert (Fu Chok Tong Shui), modified from "dim sum mini cookbook series".

150g Bean curd sheets, soaked to soften and drained
75g Barley
45g Gingko nuts
125g Rock sugar
1.5kg Water
2 Eggs, lightly beaten

1. Cut soaked bean curd sticks into shorter lengths and place in a (thermal pot's) pot.
2. Add all other ingredients except eggs.
3. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30mins*.
4. Pour in the egg into the soup in a slow steady stream and stir in a single directoin to form thin ribbons.
5. Turn off the heat and place it in the thermal pot to let it continue heating.

* Note:
~ If you don't use thermal pot, then let it simmer for at least 1hr 30mins, until the beancurd breaks up. After 1.5 hours in the thermal pot, the beancurds broke up till very fine.
~ I used egg whites as I have abundance of them in the fridge.
~ I used a mixture of Holland and China barleys.
~ You may adjust the rock sugar according to your liking.

Degustation Meal at Il Lido

It was my spouse birthday last Friday. No, I didn't make any cake for him this year. Mainly because, he didn't fancy my cakes. That's quite an irony isn't it? He encourages me to bake, however, he doesn't take my bakes. Anyway, that's alright, as long as someone else (my helper) eats them.

Having gone through so many birthdays together, 19 to be exact (courtship to marriage), I decided to buy him a good dinner. Afterall, he has been such a wonderful companion for the past 11 years of our marriage. Definitely, he deserves something good once a while, or at least, once a year. Also, it feels good to be paying for him. *wink*

We decided on an Italian restaurant, Il Lido located at Sentosa Golf Club. I've convinced him to try the Degustation Meal, priced at $148++ per person. With DBS credit cards, you get a 1-for-1 for the set menus. It's a good deal, isn't it? Furthermore, we have decided, no more buffets for such an occassion. Got to watch our waist line as grow wiser each year! Hahaha...
Entrance to Sentosa island sets you back by $6 per vehicle. The restaurant is located at the left exterior of the building. You walked through a pathway of wooden planks before you reached the main entrance. The restaurant can accomodate more than 100 persons. There are outdoor and the indoor sitting. It will truly be nice sitted at the outdoor and enjoy the seabreeze. However, I chose to sit indoor to prevent myself from perspiring.
I ordered Shirley Temple to start with, while he ordered a glass of Merlot. We were served a bowl of Zwieback bread, where it was very crispy and nice. The bread was spread with some butter and herbs before toasting again. The serving for this bread was rather generous!
Our six-course dinner started with Chef's compliment of Pan Seared Tuna. The presentation was truly fantastic. The sauce that was used tasted sweet and a slight sour, something like plum sauce? I can't make out what it was though.
First course, Scallops with Confit Cherry Tomatoes, Roast Garlic Cream and Crispy Prosciutto.  The scallops were thick and juicy. It goes well with the cream mixed with the juicy arising from the grilled scallops, which made it sweet. Crispy Prosciutto was just...crispy?
Our second course was Pan Roasted Goose Liver with Apricot Compote and Walnut Salad. As much as I don't want to go for this specially, I had to eat this as it was part of the menu. The goose liver was very soft, toufu-like. However, taking too much can be a bit of yucky. The apricot compote was sweet and goes very well with the greens and walnut. The walnut was slight bitter while the compote was sweet, it was quite a nice combination to the palate.
The third course, our favourite was Fettuccine with Spiny Lobster and Spicy Tomato. The fettuccine was nicely done, eaten with the sauce really satisfied our tastebuds. The sauce, we concluded that, was made using lobsters or alike. It tasted very similar to lobsters bisque. Sweet basil leaves were added too. The chunk of lobster meat was equivalent to half a lobster. At least enough to taste the freshness and sweetness of the lobster. We finished up the sauce.
Our final main course, US Prime Beef Tenderloin with Spinach Cake, Garlic Sauce and Barolo Reduction. We ordered it medium well. It came in the way I like it, no blood. It was tender and juicy. The black sauce tasted something like soya sauce with vinegrette. I wasn't sure what it was. The Garlic Sauce was creamy. The spinach cake was really wonderful. One look, you might think it's hard, but it's not! You can taste the very fine spinach with some cheese. I've not tried cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. I suspected it was mixed with either one. This spinach cake is very special. The shape stayed when you cut it, however, the moment it touched your tongue, it disintegrated completely! How special is that!
I requested the restaurant to prepare a small cake for my spouse. They did! They served us a chocolate mousse cake with a lit-on candle. The staff asked if we wanted a birthday song to be sung, my spouse was shy and decline politely. I jumped in and said okay. Heehee... So the few of them gathered and sang him a birthday song. After that, we took some photos, blew out the candle, then they removed the cake from us. Huh? No cake cutting, sorry.
Dessert was Molten Lava Milk Chocolate Cake in Hazelnut Crust with Vanilla Ice Cream and the Chocolate Mousse slice. The presentation, as usual, was very appealing. The hazelnut lava cake was warm, coupled with the fragrant hazelnut and the flowing chocolate was an indulgence. The cherry was juicy with liquor. The vanilla ice cream didn't soften or melt a bit even though I had it after I've finished my lava cake. You can see dots of vanilla seeds on the ice cream. Very authentic, very vanilla. The chocolate mousse cake was rather sweet. There were pieces of crunchy pearls in the mousse cake.
You can't have desserts without Coffee. Coffee was strong and bitter. I didn't finish it even though I tried to add more milk to it.
By the time we left, which was just half past eight, the restaurant was barely 25% filled...
This degustation meal was a good experience for us. It was also value for money (with the 1-for-1), as in one meal, we got to taste poultry, beef and seafood. It was all quality food. One might think that with the tiny quality portion served, it might not be filling. However, I can assured you that, it was full enough for both of us. (Don't forget we had lots of the bread too!)  It's good fun to go for such a food once in a while, while we can afford. It's special and you'll derived more satisfaction from it too (minus the hole in the pocket!) The most important thing, don't forget to take advantage of credit card discounts or similar.