Baby J's Fullmoon Cupcakes

Friday, 24 January 2014

Better late than never, I made these cupcakes for Baby J's fullmoon party. Yeah, you heard me right, FULL MOON, and Baby J's already 4 months+! I'm still getting the hang of motherhood so please bear with me.

Banana cupcakes

Made 2 different cupcake flavours, one banana and the other orange and poppy seed. I reduced the sugar used in the orange and poppy seed cupcakes as the original recipe was quite sweet. Could reduce more as it was still a bit sweet. Omitted the almond extract as it made the cakes taste like marzipan. A big no no for me. If you like the taste of marzipan, simply add in 1/4 tsp of almond extract. As for the frosting, I used my go-to recipe for Italian meringue buttercream, you can get the recipe here.

Since it was a bit last minute, the little milk bottle decorations were store-bought while the buttons were made using gumpaste.

Orange and poppy seed cupcakes

I haven't baked for the longest time, 2 years maybe? So, "If you don't use it, you lose it.", the cupcakes under the pretty frosting weren't exactly...ideal.  The cupcakes cracked and worst of all, some overflowed! Not sure how that happened! I ended up chopping off the cupcake tops. Really need to get my baking mojo back.

Orange and poppy seed cupcakes

Orange & Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner
adapted from Lindy Smith's The Contemporary Cake Decorating Bible: Over 150 Techniques and 80 Stunning Projects

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Yield: 15-20 depending on case size


Ingredients:
  • 185 g unsalted butter
  • 140 g caster sugar
  • 100 g marmalade
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 80 ml orange juice
  • 185 g self-raising flour
  • 60 g ground almonds
  • 40 g poppy seeds
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 170°C.
  • Line trays with cupcake cases.
  • Place butter, sugar, marmalade, orange zest and juice in a pan and stir over low heat until the mixture is melted. Allow to cool.
  • Sift flour and almonds into a mixing bowl. Add poppy seeds, mix, then made a well in the centre.
  • Gradually pour the cooled liquid into the well and mix until smooth.
  • Add eggs and mix until combined.
  • Pour or pipe the mixture into the cupcake cases until they are about 2/3 full.
  • Bake for about 20 mins or until a fine skewer inserted into the centre of one of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the pan for 5 mins before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Catalunya, Singapore

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The past year has seen a dramatic change in lifestyle for the two of us, for the very simple reason that two has become three. When the PigPig found she was pregnant, that limited our usual eating excursions due to a combination of pregnancy symptoms as well as dietary limitations. Now that the little one is out, we are still adapting to life, and going out for meals with him in tow is particularly challenging.

Thankfully, we employed a confinement nanny for the first two months, and 7 weeks in decided to abandon baby at home and have a date night by ourselves. Having missed out on a holiday to Barcelona recently to take care of baby, we thought we’ll have some Spanish cuisine here in Singapore. Therefore, Catalunya seemed quite appropriate.

Catalunya, Singapore

The 120 seat restaurant is located in Fullerton Pavilion, an outpouching on the waters of Marina Bay, within spitting distance of the Merlion. Internally, it was beautifully modern and sleek, unsurprising given it was conceived by an award-winning design firm. Lots of the touches inside had a distinct Spanish flair, most noticeably the big bulls head (whatever your thoughts may be on bullfighting), although subtler notes such as the predominant usage of cacti (given Spain’s large arid swathes of land). However, some people may find the ambient lighting a bit too dark, and I noticed a couple on a separate table using their iPhone to read the menu!

Catalunya, Singapore

SPHERICAL OLIVES”. Given that the executive chef has had a decade’s experience at el Bulli, it should be no surprise that these olives were not what they seemed. Instead, they were little balloons of olive-flavoured goo. While this kind of technique is nothing new, I have to say that the skin is the thinnest I’ve encountered so far. However, the usage of molecular cuisine to this doesn’t add anything particularly interesting, and I think eating qualityy “real” olives is actually much better.

Catalunya, Singapore-SPHERICAL OLIVES

AVOCADO ROLL”. Very reminiscent of a sushi maki roll, this had generous portions of lobster meat with avocado, salmon roe and caviar on top, sitting on what felt to be a soy-based-sauce. Perhaps a tad uninspired and somewhat unusual in a Spanish restaurant, but it was actually pretty good with all the flavours combining well without overshadowing the lobster taste.

Catalunya, Singapore-AVOCADO ROLL

FOIE GRAS AND EEL ESCALIBADA”. Apparently a traditional Catalan dish, it is essentially a layering with a bed of eggplant topped with pepper, foie gras and eel. The overall combination of flavours was good, and a nice touch was a slight sugary glaze giving a slight crunch as well as a little sweetness to the dish. However, I have to admit though that I didn’t taste the foie (although the PigPig said she did) so I wish they had given more.

Catalunya, Singapore-FOIE GRAS AND EEL ESCALIBADA

CROQUETAS DE JAMÓN”. However, the croquettes here were amply provisioned with ham. In fact, perhaps there was a tad too much ham, as it was a bit on the salty side. Other than that, it had a creamy interior with a mild cheesy taste. Juxtaposing that was a thin but mildly crunchy exterior (possibly made with panko?).

Catalunya, Singapore-CROQUETAS DE JAMÓN

TORTILLA DE TRAMPO”. It certainly doesn’t get more Spanish than a tortilla. However, this is anything but humble, with a creamy interior oozing egg yolk. There was also a generous application of chorizo within, giving a richer taste.

Catalunya, Singapore-TORTILLA DE TRAMPO

ROASTED MEAT CANELÓN”. In one of my favourite plates of the night, a mix of beef and chicken meat along with a hint of mushroom was wrapped in a crepe before being smothered in a luxuriously decadent cheesy sauce. The chicken flavor was a bit anonymous, but the beef and mushroom combined wonderfully for a deep and rich aroma. I was a bit worried about the cheese (can’t abide strong cheese smells) but this was just right, without overpowering the crepe.

Catalunya, Singapore-ROASTED MEAT CANELÓN

BOMBAS DE LA BARCELONETA”. Essentially, a ball of minced meat inside another ball of potato. While the potato was quite fluffy, the meat filling was a bit so-so, lacking any real feature to stand out. It says a lot that without the mayonnaise and bravas sauce on top, this would have been particularly bland. This would have been passable as a standard tapas in a typical bar, but in this surroundings for this price, I expect more.

Catalunya, Singapore-BOMBAS DE LA BARCELONETA

OCTOPUS A FEIRA”. Such as this for example. The chunky pieces of octopus had a charred surface to give extra aroma, but still remained tender and soft. Based on past experience, this really spoke volumes about the chef’s skill, as I tend to be served octopus pieces resembling chopped car tyres rather than actual food. There were also a few smaller pieces of pork belly. They were not bad, but really I wish I had more octopus. All this was inside a frothy airy sauce which may be light on substance, but heavy on the flavour.

Catalunya, Singapore-OCTOPUS A FEIRA

TORRIJA”. Apparently a traditional dish more from central Spain than Catalonia, this consists of two parts. One being some bread (brioche in this case) which have been soaked in milk (for 12 hours along with some herbs and spices too). The other (which I doubt is traditional at all) is ice cream made from smoked milk. The smokiness was very strong and the ice cream would have been difficult to eat on its own. However, paired with the sweetish bread, the combination suddenly becomes a brilliant pairing with a lot of character.

Catalunya, Singapore-TORRIJA

LEMON PIE”. Catalunya’s slightly different take on a lemon pie, this had the lemon custard sitting in the middle, with the meringue inside a cone. The lemon custard was as promised by the menu, full of zest and lemon essence, and would have been a little bit too tart if not for the sweetness of the meringue for balance. The cone served as the alternative to a tart’s pastry, but more delicate.

Catalunya, Singapore-lemon pie

I had a glass of red Malbec, which was decent if not spectacular. The PigPig meanwhile had a cocktail meanwhile, called Lola. Featuring a mixture of sherry and blue cheese syrup (!!), this was truly something unique. I personally found it abhorrent, but I cannot take blue cheese. The better half however loved it, finding the nutty cheese combining well with the sweetness of the sherry (cheese is typically eaten with a sweet preserve too so I guess this is a variant thereof). She also found the taste slightly reminiscent of durian (and I’ve had Caucasian friends comment that durian smelled a bit like cheese).

Catalunya, Singapore-lola cocktail

Altogether, the bill came up to about $230 for the two of us. Service throughout was good, if not particularly striking or noteworthy. The best interaction was with a Spanish staff, who was clearly pleased when I declared the torrija to be brilliant.

Overall, the food was of very high quality, with a few exceptional dishes sampled. A couple seemed a bit uninspired and lacking in creativity, but was still tasty. To put it another way, even the weakest dish was of above average quality. However, most of the dishes we sampled were cheese-intensive and heavy. We noted a lot of people ordering the suckling pig (which was cut into pieces by the table with a plate) and lobster rice, but we opted against ordering that to sample more tapas dishes. Perhaps next time with a bigger group.

Catalunya
The Fullerton Pavilion
82 Collyer Quay Singapore 049327
General enquiries: +6534 0188
Reservations: +6534 0886
Official website
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Baby Bath Essentials

Thursday, 12 December 2013

I never had to bath Baby J until a month ago when the confinement lady left. All I did was observe, take pictures and have fun. We were taught how to bath a baby during the antenatal classes we attended, sounded easy, but in actual fact, it's NOT especially bathing a newborn. Baby J was not hard like the dummy, he was so small, delicate and slippery, felt like I could break his bone just by carrying him.

bathing

During the bath, you have to support the baby's head and body with one of your arm and hand. And with the other hand, clean the baby using a washcloth. After that, you have to somehow flip him over and wash the baby's back and bottom. I left that to the professionals for newborn Baby J. Now that he's much stronger and can somehow support his own neck, it's somewhat easier. The first time was a challenge as I was completely on my own. He's not as light as before and very active. He almost, ALMOST slipped from my arm. And he was naked for quite some time after the bath while I scrambled for all his stuff. So have everything ready!

chicco bath thermometer

Here are a few bath essentials for Baby J:
  • Baby bath tub
  • Chicco No-Tears Bath Shampoo - contains pot marigold which has skin-softening properties. Dilute a few squirts in the bath.
  • Chicco Sweet Perfumed Water - it apparently contains an ingredient that acts as mosquito repellent. Simply put a few drops into the bath.
  • Washcloth - for cleaning the body in the bath tub.
  • Chicco Globe Fish Bath Thermometer - it is shaped like a puffer fish and floats in water. It has a thermo-sensitive strip that changes colour according to temperature.
  • Muslins - those old school nappies. I like to use these instead of towels as they are thin and have a surprising degree of absorbency. They are cheap and also quick to dry. I usually use this to wrap around Baby J right after removing him from the tub and before putting him on a towel, on the bed.
  • Towel
  • Cotton balls - for cleaning the eyes
  • Q-tips - for ear care
  • Chicco Body lotion - contains sweet almond milk with softening and nourishing properties. Very light and not greasy, perfect for the hot and humid weather where we are.
  • Chicco Nappy Cream - contains zinc oxide (10%), which creates a breathable protective barrier against nappy rash and panthenol contributes to regenerate baby's skin.
  • Chicco Massage Oil - contains rice bran oil, which has moisturising and smoothing effect on the skin. It contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which is important in order to restore the hydrolipidic barrier that is impaired in dry skin. I usually use this to massage Baby J after cleaning him at night.

Chicco Baby moments

Check out Chicco website for their complete range of Baby Moments products to take care of baby’s sensitive and delicate skin. All Chicco Baby Moments products are:
  • Parabens Free
  • Hypoallergenic and clinically tested
  • SLS and SLES Free
  • Alcohol Free (except eau de cologne)
  • Dyes Free
  • Clinically tested
After a month of bathing him, I think I finally got the hang of it. Here are a few tips:
  1. Get all the essentials ready including a fresh nappy and his clothes.
  2. Have a muslin/towel placed near the bath tub to wrap him afterwards.
  3. Try to wait till he poos and pees before taking a bath.
  4. Wash his bottom before putting him in the bath.
  5. Prepare another bucket of water just in case he poos in the bath. That happens! 
  6. Go to the gym and build up your arm muscles! 
This post is sponsored by Chicco Malaysia, but all opinions are most definitely my own!
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Boppy Feeding Pillow

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Boppy pillow

One thing I can't live without now is the Boppy pillow.

Boppy pillow

Imagine having to hold a >4 kg baby against your breast for more than 30 mins without any support! And no matter how much I want to tone my arms, trust me, not this way. Most of the time, feeding the baby doesn't only involve holding the baby against your breast, you'll have to hold the tiny little body and balance the baby's head with one arm, support your breast to help the baby latch on with the other. And you'd wish you have more arms when the baby starts to put on a fight with your breast.

Boppy cradle hold

The Boppy pillow is a nursing pillow to make your breastfeeding life easier. It is designed to wrap around your body snugly and you can then rest the baby on top to feed comfortably. Since I had a c-section, it's best to breastfeed the baby via football hold, where you tuck the baby under your arm on one side. Since a baby is much heavier than a football, you will need the support underneath your arm! It is also great for use during bottle feeding. You won't have to hunch forward, which is really bad for your back.

Boppy football hold

The boppy pillow is very versatile. You can prop the baby up after feeding with the head resting up. The head is slightly elevated, which reduces acid reflux and prevents regurgitation. As you can see, the whole pillow wraps around the body of the baby, so you don't have to worry about the baby rolling off the pillow. But the baby may slip downwards when the baby kicks and moves around and you'll have to prop the baby back up again. When the baby is older, it serves as a nest for tummy time and to helps the baby learn to sit upright.

Boppy pillow

Another thing I like about the Boppy is that the pillow's slipcover can be taken off easily by unzipping the zip behind. There are many slipcover designs to choose from and both the pillow and slipcover are machine washable and tumble dryable.

Boppy slipcover


This post is sponsored by Chicco Malaysia, but all opinions are most definitely my own!
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Penne with Lobster

Monday, 11 November 2013

Was the lobster bisque too rich for you? You may want to try using the lobster stock for this really flavourful pasta dish instead.

Penne with lobster

Penne with Lobster

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Yield: serves 2


Ingredients:
  • 150 g penne
  • 1 can (400 g) plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup lobster stock
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black peppercorn
  • Parsley
  • Red chili flakes

Directions:
  • Combine plum tomatoes, lobster stock and sugar in a pot. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer until about half (about 20 mins).
  • While sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to manufacturer's instructions. Drain and leave aside for later use.
  • Stir in heavy cream.
  • Mix in cooked pasta.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve with chili flakes.
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Lobster Bisque

Friday, 1 November 2013

To be honest, I haven't really cooked anything worth blogging for many months. Ever since I started working, then I was pregnant and then the baby. The wild boar had been doing most of the cooking as he gets home earlier than I do. And when I was pregnant, the belly gets so hot, it's just impossible to stand in front of the stove. And then with the baby, I hardly get any rest, let alone some me-time to do my own stuff especially during my confinement month. Everything was new to me and the baby's feeding schedule was non-existent! Now that he's 6 weeks, he's somewhat more predictable and the feed-to-feed interval is now about 3 hrs. And so, here I am!

I didn't step into the kitchen at all during my confinement month as I wasn't allowed to touch unboiled water, well...the less the merrier. I did brush my teeth, wash my hands, as for shower, I can shower as per normal but I had to rinse myself with a bucket of water boiled with herbs. I couldn't eat a lot of things, not my choice by the way. Cold stuff was out of the question, had to eat it with hot milk...ugh! No eggs, no ginger, no strong Chinese herbs, no vinegar, no wine for the first 12 days. No long beans but weirdly yes for French beans (don't ask me why), to me, the difference is just the length...no cabbage, no bak choi, no watercress, no brinjal, no yam, no all types of melons/gourd (I think), no chilled fruits (must be at room temperature), no oranges...the list is long...you get the idea. And since I had C-section, no squid and shellfish especially crabs for 100 days(!!!) as it is "poisonous" and will interfere with the wound healing.

Lobster bisque

I'm usually not a fan of shellfish, not unless someone peels the meat for me, hah! Found this lobster recipe while I was going through the thousands of food pictures on my comp. One of the many backlog posts that I've accumulated since....well let's not get into that. Since I have a little bit of time now, I'll try to clear as many I can before the new ones come in (I hope soon).

lobster stk

This recipe is pretty straightforward, it just takes a bit of time for the stock to reduce and the hardest part is removing the lobster meat from the shell. Just search on youtube and you'll be able to find tons of videos on how to do it.

lobster

Lobster Bisque

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 3 1/2 hrs
Yield: serves 4


Ingredients:
For lobster stock:
  • 2x 600 g live lobsters
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 5 shallots
  • 1/2 bulb garlic - peeled and crushed
  • A bunch parsley
  • A bunch thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn
  • 4 L water

For bisque:
  • 1 cup lobster stock
  • 1/2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tbs heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:
Prepare the lobster stock:
  • Coarsely chop the carrots, onion, celery and shallots.
  • Place all ingredients for stock except for lobsters into a stock pot. Bring to boil.
  • Add lobster to boiling stock. Cover and bring to boil again.
  • Boil for 15 mins. I boiled the lobster one at a time as I couldn't fit both lobsters into the pot.
  • Remove lobster from the pot and leave to cool.
  • Remove meat from the shell. Save the meat for later use and place the shell back into the pot. Cover and continue to simmer for another 3 hrs or so.
  • Strain and discard ingredients. (I got about 1 L or so of stock after simmering for 3 hrs.)

Prepare the bisque (1 portion):
  • Bring to boil a cup of lobster stock.
  • Stir in tomato paste until combined.
  • Reduce heat and stir in heavy cream.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with lobster meat.

Lobster stock
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Baby J's Cot: Chicco LullaGo

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Some people were asking me about the cot that baby J sleeps in. It is the LullaGo from Chicco for babies aged between 0 to 6 months. We were considering a playpen that comes with a bassinet as we wanted something light and portable. Plus, some comes with a diaper changer and is suitable for newborns, infants and toddlers. However, it doesn't look very stable. The old school wooden cots are stable, but is quite heavy and you can't move it around easily.

Baby in LullaGo from Chicco

This cot is both light and stable and since we travel to KL quite often, we could even carry this cot back! Here's a picture of it packaged in a bag beside a 13" Macbook.

LullaGo from Chicco

The cot is pretty straightforward to assemble.Unzipped, and here's everything in the bag.

LullaGo Chicco

Open up the main frame and make sure it's locked in the correct position, you will hear "click" sounds. Attach the 4 legs and again, make sure you lock them in place. Place the mattress on the bottom fo the crib and that's it. The package doesn't come with a matress cover, so you will have to get it separately. My aunt sewed a couple for us. It is easy to disassemble as well, just press the buttons to "unlock" the parts and pack them into the carry bag.

LullaGo from Chicco

I like the mesh inserts on both sides as we can keep an eye on Baby J through them without having to look over the cot. Look at him...sleeping peacefully. Besides, it also provides ventilation.

Chicco Lullago

The fabric covers are washable and can be removed by undoing the zips along the edges of the cot.

LullaGo from Chicco

It's usually in the baby's room with the confinement lady now, but we do move the cot to the living room and eventually into our room when the confinement lady leaves. Really light and convenient!

chicco Lullago

This post is sponsored by Chicco Malaysia, but all opinions are most definitely my own!
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