Bake We Must!

I didn’t bake, cook, whipped, stirred, mixed, or anything remotely related to the kitchen, because I was too bummed out from the 3 dozen or so cupcakes I baked two weekends ago. Plus, I knew that this coming weekend (oh the weekend before Christmas!) and the day before Christmas will be dedicated to me, myself, and the kitchen. Why, you may ask? Simple! I have decided to do what I have never done before: give baked goods for Christmas. And not just simple vanilla and choc chip cupcakes (ok maybe those too)… I’m doing cheesecakes and brownies and sundae cupcakes and chamomile cakes and banana and walnut slices… ohmy!

Also, it has been H-E-C-T-I-C at work the past few weeks because the office is closing during the holidays. Closed office + workmates going on extended leave = deadlines! Urkurkurk!

So I have been going home close to 9pm everynight, because I leave the office close to 6.30pm now which means I am only able to catch the really late Body Attack (aerobics) classes that finishes at 8.30pm. I get home tired, knackered, and sore, that I only have enough time to eat my first decent meal of the day (again, because I don’t have enough time to eat a proper meal at work during the day), watch a bit of my favourite primetime shows on tv (ahhhh hello Fringe, NCIS, and SVU), brush my teeth, and off to bed to start everything all over again the next day.

Enough ramblings from me. I am planning on making these creations during the Christmas holidays as presents, Kris Kringle, and party desserts on the boyfriend’s family’s Christmas day lunch!

1. Chocolate cheesecake brownie – from Donna Hay’s Chocolate book
2. Banana and walnut cake with cream cheese frosting and dessicated coconut.
3. Chocolate and vanilla (as bases) sundae cupcakes – topped with caramel sauce, whipped cream, nuts, a glace cherry, and a wafer.
4. Coconut babycakes with coconut cream cheese frosting
5. Vanilla babycakes with caramel frosting
6. Chamomile and orange carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – I can’t remember where I actually got the recipe from… will get back to you on that one. It’s definitely from one of the popular food blogs out there!

Oh, and I’ve been given in charge of the dinner to make for the Noche Buena, or the eve of Christmas day. You see, in Filipino tradition, the eve of the 24th is just as important as the Christmas day itself. Families were known to cook up a storm and fill the dining table with loads and loads of food – hamon (ham) with sweet pineapple sauce, pancit (noodles), lechon (slow roasted pork with crackling), and the oh so sinful Filipino desserts: bibingka (sticky rice cake), cuchinta and sapin sapin (another sticky rice cake), leche flan (creme caramel), brazo de mercedes (a sort of soft meringue-esque cake with sweet custard in the middle), and many others.

Ok, I may not have the skills to make those, but I’ll see what I can do on the day. It’ll most probably be semi-healthy, since we’re all watching Dad’s cholesterol levels. I might even divert a little bit away from the Filipino in me and do a bit of seafood action like what the Aussies do: prawns, prawns, and more prawns! Maybe grill some salmon, toss some greens, roast a tray of mixed veggies, and a huge plate of fresh season fruits: mango, berries, and cherries! Oh just imagine the colours!

It is summer here in Australia, so no white Christmas, Mr Snowman, hot chocolate by the fire action going on. Yes, we love our Christmas hot, by the beach, the barbie going on, a beer in one hand, and the oh-so-embarrassing-why-do-I-keep-wearing-them-every-year-but-I-still-do paper crown hats you get as a freebie inside the Christmas crackers.

Hmm… ok.. this is the longest non-baking related post I’ve done, so I’ll shut up and go to bed. But first… a little consult with Miss Nigella (in her Nigella Christmas book!) on what she recommend for a good, fuss-free Christmas dinner!

16 December 2008 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

Chocolate Cupcakes and Babycakes

So I was invited to another Sunday night barbie with friends last weekend. I knew there would also be a few kids on the party, so I decided to make grown up and kid friendly versions of the chocolate cupcake.

Because I was strapped for time, I just made do with Nigella’s very handy cupcake recipe and just tweaked it around a bit so they can become chocolate madness!

Chocolate Cupcakes and Babycakes

125g unsalted butter, softened

125g self raising flour

125g caster sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk

1 tbsp cocoa powder

100g bittersweet chocolate, melted

1/2 cup or so of semisweet choc chips

1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C. Line your cupcakes tin.

2. Beat butter and sugar together until well blended.

3. Add milk and a little bit of flour, in 2 batches.

4. Add eggs and again, a little bit of flour, in 2 batches.

5. Add in the rest of the flour. Beat well, and then add the vanilla extract.

6. Add cocoa powder. Fold in the melted chocolate and the choc chips.

7. Divide into your cupcake tins and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from tins and cool on rack.

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup thickened cream

300g semisweet chocolate, chopped

1. Heat the cream on a pan. Bring to boil.

2. Remove pan from heat, and slowly add chocolate shards. Mix well until mixture becomes glossy and shiny.

*You can add sifted icing sugar if desired, however, there will be sugar lumps and it will take some time for the sugar to dissolve.

The adult version – chocolate on chocolate!

babycakes with sprinkles…

and silver cachous and a teeny tiny choc chip

and yes, they were a big hit in the party! The kids loved it and kept going back… and my friend’s 4 year old daughter christened me “Aunty Cupcake Witch” but apparently, witch in a good way. No complaints from me! ๐Ÿ™‚ She requested rainbow cupcakes next time. Hmmmm…… ๐Ÿ™‚

Half of the cupcakes were gone within minutes of me serving them (and that’s the cupcake tier I got from Victoria’s Basement hehehe0

14 December 2008 at 6:28 am Leave a comment

Day 3 – Dinner at Namba, Osaka

Dinner at one of the restaurants in Namba Station, before heading to Den Den Town.

Mixed deep fried seafood – is it safe to say these are tempura? Mmmmm…

Green tea after a long, cold day outside

Setto!

Another setto, this time with unagi and cold soba noodles

Check out that eel!

Cold sobra noodles

And the super clean, super organised, minimalistic restaurant.

I love this country!

11 December 2008 at 6:17 am Leave a comment

Spinach, Feta, and Semi-dried Tomatoes

I know this is a baking blog, but I’ve been taking so much food photos lately and there’s nowhere to put them except here. So forgive me if I divert and go over the wall to the neighbouring dishes once in a while.

After Japan, I was craving for non-Asian dishes for a while. I have nothing against Japanese food.. in fact, that’s one of the reasons why I loved Japan so much and why I would return to that beautiful country. But eating Japanese food everyday for a week was a bit too much for me (especially if you’ve had ramen for dinner every night). I still crave for Japanese food, but after a while I was also starting to crave for savoury, Mediterranean, Greek, Italian, even Turkish dishes (mmmm kebab…).

So,ย afterย a trip to the supermarket, a packet of baby spinach, Danish feta, and some semi-dried tomatoes later, I found myself making a delicious, light, tangy, herb-y salad that I absolutely missed when I was in Japan.

Baby Spinach with Feta and Semi-dried Tomatoes

Lovely portrait of greens and whites

ย Look at the colours!

I drizzled the salad with some of the olive oil that soaked the semi-dried tomatoes (it came in a vacuumed packet). The milkiness of the feta coincided with the sour, almost sweet bite of the tomatoes and neutralised by the crunchy spinach leaves. Ooh la la!

9 December 2008 at 9:38 pm Leave a comment

Japan Food Photos! Day 2

Jetstar plane food from Gold Coast to Osaka – the meal wasn’t too bad. In fact, it actually tasted great!

Chicken teriyaki with rice and black sesame seeds and mixed veggies

The whole meal for $15… not bad!

Fluffy couscous with pumpkin and herbs

The boyfriend’s meal – Japanese pork curry

Several food on our 2nd day in Japan… this time in Hiroshima – breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea!

Mixed mussels and other seafood goodness! – for a 3pm lunch!

Mixed seafood with roast potatoes and radish centre

Some sort of deep fried crumbed seafood – I wasn’t familiar with the dish but I had an inkling it might be mussels or sea urchin. What do you think?

Very happy (and hungry!) me!!!

And then random food hunts around Hiroshima station while waiting for the shinkansen back to Osaka saw us buying different Hiroshima goodies, including…

Red bean pancakelets!

I bought 4 so I can eat them for breakfast. They were perfect as breakfast because they were pretty filling, but not too heavy! Just right!

Beautiful bakeries in Hiroshima (and consequently, around Japan!) – the taste of the food is just as important as its appearance. I love the artistry and creativity poured into each creation!

Bakeshop where I bought some bread and strawberry jam for breakky

They had chicken and pizza and other fried stuff inside the bakeshop!

And the cutest baked goodies I’ve seen in Japan!

How can you possibly eat them? They’re so cute!

PS. I can’t remember the name of the dishes because they were all in Japanese. All I know was that they all tasted superb!

3 December 2008 at 10:24 am Leave a comment

Japan food photos – Day 1

Some random food photos from the recent Japan trip coming up. This first batch was from our first dinner in Japan – just a hole-in-a-wall ramen place outside our hotel in Osaka. It was a one man show but boy oh boy, was he fast and was the food grrrreeeeat! But then again, we were starvin’ marvin’ from our whole day flying affair, so any ramen on a cold 6 degree Osaka night would be great!

Tonkotsu – I’ve always wanted to try The Gallery Victoria’s Ichiban-Boshi’s only-15-bowls-per-day tonkotsu ramen, and now I finally get to taste it from it’s own mother country, for half the price!!! Delicioso!

Mixed meat, veggies, and rice bowl

Gyoza!

Beef teriyaki and rice bowl

Oh, I should add I did not eat them all! Only the tonkotsu! The others are my holiday buddies’ meals, I promise! Hahaha!

2 December 2008 at 10:36 am Leave a comment

Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes

So I finally managed to grab hold of my friend’s photos of the chocolate cupcakes I made for another friend’s birthday on the weekend. Phew! That was a long sentence!

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, I got the recipe from Diva of Sugar Bar. The recipe claims to be the (one of) the best, moist cupcake recipe out there, and I gotta say, there’s alot of truth in it! I’ve tried so many chocolate cupcake recipes, and I can say that this takes the (cup)cake! ๐Ÿ™‚

I added chocolate chips because I love the bursts of chocolate whenever you take a bite, and I used a normal buttercream for the frosting to emphasise the rich chocolate taste of the cupcake base. A dozen had some chocolate shards for more chocolate texture…

Chopped chocolate shards

Decorating the cupcakes

and the other dozen with just normal pink buttercream frosting…

Pink “rose” cupcakes

Same same, but different

Enroute to the party!

So everyone ooh’d and aaaah’d when they saw the cupcakes, and when I finally put them on the tier the cupcakes just looked soooo pretty! Look at my babies!!

Cupcakes in the tier! Preeeettty!!

Birthday girl eyeing her cuppies!

Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting

The cupcakes and their maker! ๐Ÿ˜›

Ok, I’m off to Japan very very early tomorrow morning, and will be back in Sydney next week Thursday. Until then, see ya! ๐Ÿ˜›

18 November 2008 at 2:43 am Leave a comment

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