Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas
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Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1 Final Class!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Can't wait to tell you all about my Wilton cake decorating final class of course 1!

We each had to decorate an 8-inch cake using the techniques we learnt from the previous classes. We had to prepare an iced-cake and sketch out what we have in mind.

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1 Final Class

Icing the whole cake myself without any help was pretty daunting. Since I don't have an oven, I used store-bought butter cakes. The first step was to 'clean' the crumbs by spreading a very thin layer of icing on the cake. Next, ice the cake using an icer tip - much easier than using just a spatula! Lastly, fill in all the holes and gaps with more icing then smoothen out the surface with a spatula. I kept scraping out more icing than I wanted to while smoothening it out with the spatula, exposing the cake underneath. I ended up doing a lot of patch work. As you can see it is pretty uneven, and the shape looks like a top hat! Oh well, practise makes perfect!

List of things you are expected to bring for class 4:
  1. Student kit
  2. Course book
  3. Scissors
  4. Damp cloth
  5. Disposable table liner
  6. Plastic Bag - to bring home used tips/piping bags
  7. 2 recipes of buttercream icing prepared at different consistencies (depends on the final cake)
  8. Flower lifter
  9. Cake design template
  10. An iced-8 inch cake

First hour of the class was spent learning how to 'print' and 'write' on a cake. And again, it's all about pressure control! Finally, the pretty ribbon rose! It's easier than expected and once you get the angle right, it's pretty straightforward.

Glad to say that the final product is not too far off from my sketch! I used two different kinds of flowers for my centrepiece - ribbon rose and swirled flower. I piped in more leaves to hide the imperfections...hehe.

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1 Final Class

These are the cakes created by my fellow classmates. All so unique and pretty! 

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1 Final Class

SO, that's it for now. Thoughts on the course? It is pricey and for that kind of price I expected more to be included in the package i.e. the ready-to-use decorator icing and piping gel for our first class; and the random bits of accessories like the icer tip, 16-inch featherweight bag, angled spatula, flower lifter, disposable table liner and the like. It was also a hassle to bring the cake as well as a huge bag filled all the random knicks and knacks all the way from home, especially if you don't have the luxury of travelling by the real BMW! But instead it's only bus, MRT and walk. Anyway, I cabbed it to class the last day with the iced-cake. Having said that, it was definitely an inspiring course. No regrets! Now I can't wait for course 2!

Check out these posts:
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Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1 Class 3

Thursday, 22 December 2011

This is a follow-up post on the Wilton cake decorating course that I took. If you missed it, here's all about classes 1 & 2. For classes 1 and 2, we used Wilton ready-made buttercream icing, for the subsequent classes we had to prepare our own. I followed the recipe as stated in the course book and let it rest for about 2 days as suggested for the air bubbles to settle. The instructor commented that my buttercream icing was too thin. I blame it on the rain.
List of things you are expected to bring for class 3:
  1. Student kit
  2. Course book
  3. Scissors
  4. Damp cloth
  5. Disposable table liner
  6. Plastic Bag - to bring home used tips/piping bags
  7. 2 small cupcakes
  8. Home-made buttercream icing of different consistencies and colours. Medium for flowers, thin for leaves.
 We did a lot of pretty things in lesson 3.

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1 Class 3


Drop flowers, rosettes, 3 different kinds of leaves and elegant shells. These were all done on the practise board. Next, we had to ice a cupcake and place a 'shaggy mum' on top. Haha yes, it's the purple broom-like thingy. Not very pretty IMHO, or maybe it's just my amateur piping skills. The pompom flower on the other hand is much more eye-catching. Mine's the one with dark and light blue on the front. The others were done by my fellow classmates. Love the pastel pink and purple! Such sweet colours.

That's all for now and I will be posting about my final class tomorrow, so stay tuned!

SO, in summary, what did I learn in class 3:
Moisture level of buttercream icing is very important. Do NOT follow the amount of liquid stated in the recipe. Adjust accordingly. It depends largely on the humidy of your surroundings.
Let buttercream rest for a day or so for the air bubbles to settle. Store in air-tight container or put in plastic containers then wrap in clingfilm.
Aerate the buttercream again with a spatula just before using to "smoothen" it.
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Chinese Yam and Black Chicken Soup 山药乌鸡汤

Monday, 19 December 2011

Meet Silkie, a type of chicken with dark blue or black flesh and bones.

Black chicken 乌骨鸡

Black chicken or silkie is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. It has lower fat content, higher levels of iron and nutrients present in regular chicken. It also contains naturally occurring antioxidant carnosine, which protect against ageing, alleviate diseases such as autism and diabetes and help prevent atherosclerosis, joint inflammation and protect against neurological disorders, such as Alzhemier’s. It is very small and lean and is usually used to make soups.

Chinese Yam and Black Chicken Soup 山药乌鸡汤

Like Silkie, Chinese wild yam has anti-ageing properties. Besides, it also promotes urination, lower blood sugar and lower blood pressure, has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties and helps improve digestive system. Raw Chinese wild yam is extremely slimey and the fluid will make your skin itchy upon excessive contact. Be careful and wear gloves when handling fresh chinese yam. The flesh will oxidise and turn black upon exposed to air, so soak them in water right after cutting. This will also help get rid of some of the slimey stuff.

Chinese Yam and Black Chicken Soup 山药乌鸡汤

I've combined these 2 super foods and made this super-duper nourishing dish. Say YAY! to forever young!

Chinese Yam and Black Chicken Soup 山药乌鸡汤

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2 hrs
Yield: serves 2-3


Ingredients:
  • 1 (about 400 g) black chicken - chopped into pieces
  • 400 g Chinese wild yam 山药
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 1 tbs goji berries
  • 6 red dates - seeds removed
  • 4 dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 5 cups water

Directions:
  • Remove yam skin with a peeler. chopped into pieces then soak in water till later use.
  • Blanch chicken. [Place chicken into a large pot, add enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Once water comes to a boil, remove from heat, drain and wash.]
  • Place all ingredients in a pot (I used a claypot). Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer for 2 hours covered.
  • Season to taste with salt.
Chinese Yam and Black Chicken Soup 山药乌鸡汤
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Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1 (Class 1 & 2)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

So, I finally took on the challenge and went for my first ever cake decorating class on Thursday since I have so much free time. Yes, I am currently unemployed and desperately needs a job. I am open to any job opportunities and options. Anyone actively hiring in Singapore, PUH-LIZZZzzz get in touch. Thanks much!

OKAY, back to the cake decorating topic. As you can tell from my blog, I am not much of a baker. As of today, I have only 29 cake recipes out of 404 recipes in total! And they are mostly bake-and-serve kind of cakes, no elaborate decorations whatsoever. Lemon Rose Cake with Strawberry Gelée was the only cake I decorated with all my patience and love. Decorated with just Rosettes - basic yet eye-catching. It was a messy experience in April earlier this year, and yes, I need that much time to recuperate.

Rose Cake 2

When I do something, I like to do it right and I like to learn new skills. Cake decorating seems like the trend now, sounds fun and so the Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course it is! There are 3 courses altogether and every course has 4 classes, 2.5 hours each. The one I went to was express class, combining classes 1 and 2. 3 and 4 would be next week. You can check out the time schedule here on the B-I-Y website.

The instructor emailed us about the things we needed to take for our first class just the night before. A tad last minute IMO! Some stuff I have, most stuff can be bought from the B-I-Y store. Oh, I forgot to mention that B-I-Y specialises in cake decorating and sugarcraft products and ready to use decorations. The teaching studios are located on top of the retail shop. Very convenient. So, the list. Things we can't get from the store: Marie cookies, round disposable plastic containers with lid and an 8-inch cake! Thank god, I live near 3 main supermarkets.
List of things you are expected to bring for Day 1:
  1. Disposable table liner
  2. Apron
  3. Scissors
  4. Damp cloth and dry cloth
  5. Pencil/Pen/Highlighter
  6. Plastic Bag - to bring home used tips/piping bags
  7. 3 pcs (only) of normal size Marie cookies
  8. 3 pcs of round disposable plastic containers with lid (those use to pack food)
  9. Small container of icing sugar.
  10. 2 x tub Ready- to-use Decorator icing
  11. 8 inch cake (only 2 inch height )
  12. Angled spatula
  13. Wilton icer tip and 16 inch featherweight bag
  14. Piping gel (one tub x Share among 4 student-suggestion)
  15. 10 inch cake board x 10 inch cake box
There were only 4 of us in the class and we were each given a student starter kit and a lesson booklet. Course 1 is all about the basics. For classes 1 and 2, we were taught tips on how to bake a perfect cake for decorating and were introduced to different cool tools for that. Next was how to prepare buttercream icing and the different consistencies for different situations.

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1

photo

The fun part started with icing the cake surface followed by creating patterns using a star tip and round tip. It is all about the angle and pressure control! We were also taught how to transfer your favourite picture onto a cake, which was actually easier than expected.

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1

We all used Wilton ready-made buttercream icing for lessons 1 and 2, but for our next class, we would have to prepare our own buttercream icing. We will be learning how to pipe drop flower, rosette, shell, pompom flower, leaves and we will be decorating some cupcakes! Can't wait!

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1

SO, in summary, what did I learn in class 1 & 2:
  • Bake a perfect cake. Start from knowing your oven. Not all ovens work the same way! Do not blame the recipe, learn how to troubleshoot first.
  • Moisture level is important and adjust the amount of liquid in the icing recipe accordingly. Add liquid bit by bit. It is all about trial and error and experience.
  • Do not introduce too much air into icing. Else it won't be smooth and you will get air holes.
  • Let cake and icing rest for air to settle down. About 2-3 days wrapped in clingfilm.
  • Correct piping bag position and pressure control is important.
  • Patience.
  • Practise makes perfect.
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Cumin Beef 孜然牛肉

Friday, 16 December 2011

This dish is not for the faint-hearted.

Cumin Beef 孜然牛肉

This is a popular Hunan dish and the recipe is adapted from Sunflower Food Galore.  The beef is deep-fried, twice then stir-fried in more oil. But if you can get past that, the result is rewarding. The beef is tender and packed full of wonderful aromatic flavours.

Deep frying the beef twice is to ensure tenderness on the interior while caramelisation on the exterior of the beef. The beef will take much longer to caramelise if it's deep-fried only once and the beef will shrink more and become tough. 'Pre-soaking' the ingredients in oil is a method widely used in Chinese cooking. The temperature of the oil can be heated to temperatures well above the boiling point of water, and can therefore dehydrate, dry and brown the surface quickly while leaving the meat moist. 

Cumin Beef 孜然牛肉

Cumin Beef 孜然牛肉

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Marinate time: 1 hr-overnight
Cook time: 15 mins
Yield: serves 2


Ingredients:
  • 400 g beef - thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups oil (for deep frying)
  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorn
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tbs grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic - grated/ minced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 stalk spring onion - diced
Marinade:
  • 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 2 tbs Shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Directions:
  • Mix together beef and all marinade ingredients. Leave to marinate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight.
  • In a small bowl, mix together Szechuan peppercorn, cumin, chili flakes, ginger and garlic. Leave aside for later use.
  • Heat up oil in a wok/ pot for deep frying. Add beef and stir the beef to ensure the pieces do not stick together. Remove beef onto a large metal sieve to drain once the meat changes colour.
  • Wait till the oil is smoking again, add drained beef into hot oil again. Fry the beef until the beef is caramelised around the edges. Remove beef and drain on the same large metal sieve.
  • Drain oil from wok and leave about 3 tbs of oil in the wok.
  • Heat up oil then add the bowl of spices and aromatics. Fry until fragrant.
  • Mix in beef and sesame seeds. Season to taste if necessary. Remove from heat once mixed.
  • Garnish with spring onions and serve.
Cumin Beef 孜然牛肉
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Durian Butter Cake with Chocolate Chips

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Looks like durian season is here again as I started seeing pictures of durian on facebook and lots of durian sold in the sidewalk of streets. This should be a brief one as the main fruiting season is usually around June to August. Durian is known as the king of fruits with a spiky exterior and unique smell. To some poeple, it may smell like old stinky socks, smelly garbage, clogged drain or rotten eggs, but to us durian-lovers, we are drawn to the exotic fragrance.

Durian Butter Cake with Chocolate Chips

Fresh is of course the best way to devour the king of fruits but if you can resist the temptation and have some to spare, making durian desserts is also the way to go! I actually made this cake twice. The first cake was a tad dense and dry. After stumbling on a post about how to make the perfect butter cake, I realised it might due to the dense batter. I added a bit of milk to lighten up the batter the second round and it turned out much better, the cake turned out soft and moist.

Durian Butter Cake

Durian Butter Cake with Chocolate Chips

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Yield: 8-inch square cake


Ingredients:
  • 250 g cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 250 g durian flesh (the best you can get)
  • 4 tbs whipping cream
  • 250 g unsalted butter
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 4 (about 60 g each with shell) eggs
  • 7 tbs milk(more or less depending on the consistency of the batter)
  • Handful of chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 150°C (fan).
  • Generously butter a pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess flour. Or, line with pan with parchment paper.
  • Sift together cake flour and baking powder. Repeat sifting into another bowl. Flour will have been sifted 3 times total.
  • Place durian flesh and whipping cream in a food processor and blend until you get a smooth paste.
  • Beat butter until smooth then add sugar slowly at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. The colour would be like cream cheese.
  • Beat the eggs together in a separate bowl. Gradually add the beaten eggs to the butter mixture (Do not pour it in the butter mixture all at once). Stop the moment it is combined.
  • Gently fold in half of the flour.
  • Mix in all the durian puree until just combined.
  • Gently fold in the rest of the flour.
  • Add milk if the batter is too thick.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  • Bake at 150°C for about 45-50 mins or until done. [skewer should come out clean]
Note:
  • All ingredients should be at room temperature. Batter will curdle if the eggs and liquid are cold.
  • Do not over-beat the mixture when flour is added. You will get a tough cake if you do.
  • Add just enough milk until the batter drops off the spoon by the count of three, its consistency should be like a thick custard.
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Apple Pork Ribs Soup 苹果猪骨汤

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I bookmarked this recipe straightaway when I saw it on My Taste His Taste. Pork and apple is a Western classic combo, but in Chinese soups?! It does sound...weird. It is apparently a common homemade Chinese soup dish, a great cooling soup and is great for soothing the lungs.

Apple Pork Ribs Soup 苹果猪骨汤

The flavour of this soup really depends on what type or how big the apples are. The original recipe calls for 4 apples but I used 3 instead as the apples I used were quite large and I was afraid that the soup would be too sweet. So remember to adjust accordingly to your taste. The soup is on the sweet side, use less apples if you prefer it to be less sweet. We really enjoyed the sweet and savoury flavours of the soup, definitely a keeper!

Apple Pork Ribs Soup 苹果猪骨汤

Apple Pork Ribs Soup 苹果猪骨汤

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Yield: serves 4


Ingredients:
  • 500 g pork ribs
  • 6 dried red dates 红枣
  • 3 medium sized apples (I used pink lady)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 dried honey date 蜜枣
  • 1.5 L water
  • 1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)

Directions:
  • Blanch pork ribs. [Place pork ribs into a large pot, add enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Once water comes to a boil, remove from heat, drain and wash.]
  • Place all ingredients into a pot and cook under pressure for about 40 mins. [Or simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs)
  • Season to taste with salt.
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Spicy Nam Yee Pork Ribs with Lotus Root 香辣南乳排骨焖莲藕

Friday, 9 December 2011

Who says I don't like vegetables? I love bitter gourd, love brinjal, love, potatoes, loooooove lotus root. See?! Just not the leafy, very green tasting ones.

If you are not familiar with lotus root, check out one of my old posts on lotus root. It's not only yummy to eat, it's beautiful and looks great in pictures. Ever since I made 'Stir-Fry Lotus Root in Fermented Red Bean Curd', I was hooked. I'd cook this dish whenever I have lotus root in hand. Instead of the usual stir-fry, I made a stew with pork ribs. So instead of being crisp and crunchy, the lotus root was soft and tender.

Spicy Nam Yee Pork Ribs with Lotus Root 香辣南乳排骨焖莲藕

If you still haven't tried the lotus root-nam yee combo, you are missing out, big time!

Spicy Nam Yee Pork Ribs with Lotus Root 香辣南乳排骨焖莲藕

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 - 1 1/2 hrs
Yield: serves 3


Ingredients:
  • 500 g spare ribs - chopped into small pieces
  • 550 g lotus root - washed, skin removed and cut into fairly big slices
  • 4 cloves garlic - crushed
  • 50 g ginger - sliced
  • 2 red chili (or to taste) - sliced
  • 3 cubes nam yee 南乳 (fermented red bean curd)
  • 30 g rock sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions:
  • Heat up a bit of oil in a pan.
  • Add garlic, ginger and chili. Saute until fragrant.
  • Add nam yee cubes and fry for about 1 min, breaking the cubes apart while frying.
  • Mix in ribs, stir-fry for a few minutes until the ribs change colour.
  • Add lotus root, rock sugar and water.
  • Bring to boil then lower heat to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until ribs are tender and sauce is thickened.
  • Season to taste.
Spicy Nam Yee Pork Ribs with Lotus Root 香辣南乳排骨焖莲藕
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Taiwanese Sausage with Garlic 台式香腸炒蒜

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

One of the most memorable street food we had in Taiwan was grilled Taiwanese sausage served with fresh garlic. Yes, you heard me, the fatty pork sausages were eaten straight up with raw spicy garlic. The sausages were sweet and salty and they were a good match with the spicy and pungent pieces of garlic. The wild boar loved it to bits. You usually get them with cloves of garlic in the night markets, while in restaurants, you get them with thin slices of garlic. I prefer the latter as eating one whole clove of raw garlic with each piece of sausage is just too potent for me.

And of course, I prefer fried garlic.

Taiwanese Sausage with Garlic 台式香腸炒蒜

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Yield: serves 2-3

Ingredients:
  • 1 bulb garlic - peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 3 sticks Taiwanese sausages - sliced

Directions:
  • Heat up a bit of oil in a non-stick pan.
  • Add all the garlic and stir-fry.
  • As soon as the edges of the garlic turn brown, throw in all the sausages and continue stir-frying until the garlic pieces are all nicely browned.
Taiwanese Sausage with Garlic 台式香腸炒蒜
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Drunken Ribs with Chestnut 栗子排骨

Monday, 5 December 2011

The wedding and the 'group honeymoon' is over, so let's say bye-bye to steamed recipes and hi to more sinful dishes, well, at least for now.

Drunken Ribs with Chestnut 栗子排骨

Drunken Ribs with Chestnut 栗子排骨

Printable recipe By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 10 mins
Marinate time: 1 hr - overnight
Cook time: 1 hr
Yield: serves 3-4


Ingredients:
  • 1 slab of pork baby back ribs (about 1 kg) - membrane removed, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup char siew sauce
  • 1 thumb size ginger - grated
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 can (330 ml) beer (I used Carlsberg)
  • 1 pack roasted and peeled chestnut snack

Directions:
  • Marinade ribs in char siew sauce, ginger and garlic for at least 1 hr, or preferably overnight.
  • Combine ribs and beer into a pot, cover and bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer for 30 mins.
  • Add all the chestnuts and leave to simmer uncovered until thickened (about 20-30 mins).
  • Season to taste.
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Korean-Style Spaghetti

Saturday, 3 December 2011

It's December! Time flies, a lot has happened over the past few weeks and here's a summary of what we've been busy doing.

2011 Holiday


Our good friends from college got married and we were one of their bridesmaids and groomsmen. We went to the same college and they got together just a few months before us, so....they've been together for more than 10 years and they are finally married!! Like our honeymoon, we went on a 'group honeymoon' right after the wedding to Phuket, Thailand. We rented a private villa located near Surin beach and we spent most our time in the villa, just chilling out, swimming, sleeping and eating. I will post more photos of the amazing villa soon.

We flew back to KL right after Phuket. The wild boar got his wisdom tooth extracted, no signs of sore and pain after the surgery, so that didn't stop us from eating in KL. The wild boar came back to Singapore that weekend while I stayed back in KL to accompany my sick grandmother. I came back to Singapore a few days ago with my mum and sis. They went back to KL yesterday and now I finally have some me time. And more action in my kitchen!

Korean-Style Spaghetti

Korean-Style Spaghetti

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Yield: serves 2


Ingredients:
  • 200 g spaghetti (or any other noodles of your choice)
  • 1/2 cucumber - julienned
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 soft-boiled eggs
Sauce:
  • 2 cloves garlic - finely minced or pressed
  • 2 stalks spring onions - diced
  • 2 tbs gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
Directions:
  • Mix together all ingredients for sauce in a large mixing bowl. Leave aside for later use.
  • Cook pasta as instructed on the packaging. Drain and pour everything into the mixing bowl with sauce. Toss to mix.
  • Season to taste.
  • Serve with cucumber, sesame seeds and egg.
Korean-Style Spaghetti
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