Friday, August 22, 2008

A Bento Party.... Here I Come :)

And they say that every cloud has a silver lining... and I think mine came in the form of a blogger... Pat of Bento Pet. I have not been accessing my PC since last week and I only got to read her post Bento Enthusiasts/Bloggers Meet? only when I came back to work on Wednesday morning. Despite the little bump in my personal space at this time, her post managed to put a smile on my face. She has so kindly, with her friend Emily, decided to organize a Bento Meet to be held on the first week of September. As days passed, the event is quickly taking off and it is really getting more and more interesting by the day.

The last post which was sent this morning has even promised more exciting things in the form of contributions for the goodie bag by my dear blogger friend SueSue of Cooking Momster. I am sure that before we get to meet, the event would turn out to be a real "Party of the Year" and those who will be meeting up will be talking about it for many years to come .. and I would like to bet my last dollar on this :).

I like it when I read her little marketing nudge which read "Venue: "Onsen"
Lot: B-G01, Block B Jalan Persiaran Surian, Palm Spring @ Damansara.
Kota Damansara. Tel: 7801 5366.
(Map will be posted soon)

Date: 6th September 2008
Time: 12.00p.m. - 2.30p.m.
Participating Fee: RM50/= inclusive of a complete Japanese lunch, free flow of Ocha (Green Tea), goodie bag of surprises and an afternoon of Bento-licious fun!

The lunch menu includes:
Kani Salada - Crabstick Salad
Mixed Tempura
Mixed Maki
Tori Karaage - Fried chicken
Niniku Chahan - Garlic fried rice
Mixed fruits

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bento #6

Still enjoying and appreciating the newness of my Bento Set gift from allthingspurple *smirks*.. so when it came to preparing my Bento #6, I decided that it should be mostly items that need not be kept warm.. haha.. want to keep that set in the bag for one more week.

I didn't fancy rice for my bento but love carbs (that accounts for the waistline of a whale). Decided to make a very simple potato salad and when I say simple, it is because I don't have anything in the fridge to add to the potato... not even one sprig of spring onions :(. Didn't go do my marketing like I normally would in Sundays. Too excited about baking and decorating my cuppies. Anyway, I did have some eggs. So, boiled an egg to be mashed into the potato salad and added mayonnaise and pepper. The rest of the stuff were straight out of the fridge.

Fried chicken burgers with a fried egg

Simple steamed potatoes with 1 mashed egg and mayonnaise

For veg and fruits, I washed some honey cherry tomatoes, some cucumbers and a kiwi fruit.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Cake Connection

Thanks to a post by Min of Baking Projects, I met up with the two lovely ladies at Cake Connection. I love going around checking up cake decorating shops and I seriously feel that there are just not enough of them here in Kuala Lumpur. I normally surf the internet to look for new items and most of the lovely things that I would like to have are not available here.

Anyways, after reading Min's blog about Cake Connection, I was very eagered to pop-in to see what lovely items they have there. My first visit there was during lunch time. It had to be a quick one as it was a working day for me. Had a bit of a problem finding them as Cake Connection was located in a new mall called Jaya One and because the building itself is new, there were not enough signages at the moment. It did not help matters that the security guard who I chose to ask was a foreigner... I asked him if Cake Connection was on the block on my right, he nodded. After 10 minutes of searching and not finding, I went back to him to ask if perhaps it is at the block on my left? He nodded again...aisay...

I finally found it.. in fact, the directions were posted quite clearly on their blog.. which in my haste to look for them, only remembered that they were at Jaya One. Just look for Block D and if you are parking inside their car park, try to look for 9-11, Block D. The lift will take you straight up to Cake Connection. If you happen to see Kluang Station Kopitiam from the road, Cake Connection is right above Kluang. This is their address:-

D-11-1, Block D, Jaya One, 72A, Jalan University. Section 13. 46200 Petaling Jaya.
Phone number : 03 : 7956 4450
Fax number : 03 : 7956 4450

I met up with Nancy and Shyamala (on the next visit) and they seem to be very nice ladies. Their shop is lovely. It is very tastefully decorated with lots of floor space. Every thing is so neat and I love their cookery room cum training room at the back. It looked exactly like I've just walked into someone's homely kitchen. Nancy told me that they wanted to make it very informal and have people really feel like they are at their own homes during the class.

Cake Connection carries quite a fair selection of toppers and gumpaste flowers, and they are simply beautiful. On my second visit, I spent quite a long time admiring the lovely products. Bought several products home which included sugarpaste roses, amongst other things and something which I really love, their spiral rolling pin.

I couldn't wait to use all the items that I bought and it was so timely as I needed to make some cuppies for the prayers at my dharma centre and also some fondant flowers and butterflies for a friend's daughter. Hence, I did both.

There is definitely a difference between making fondant flowers yourself and buying them off the shelf. For amatures like myself, the flowers that I do are a far cry from those lovely ones I bought at Cake Connection. From far, it looks passable but like they say.. "good from far but far from good" haha. With these ready made flowers, the cakes really looks much prettier and you can easily achieve the consistency and standards that you want. For those expert cake decorators, buying ready made flowers will probably be time saved, which is better used for other things.

And the fondant roller, I love it. It adds another dimension to an other wise boring finished piece. I have posted some of the pictures of the cuppies which I have made over the weekend, and you can easily tell which ones do look definitely better and nicer :D. Don't believe me, just have a look...

Cuppie with only homemade fondant, which is rather simple and "bland"

My homemade flowers,which is a poor comparison to the sugarpaste flowers bought at Cupcake Connection. But have a look at the fondant impression done with the fondant roller.

The greatly enhanced cuppie....

complete with sprinkles ...

and sugarpaste roses.....

These were the cuppies that I made for the Tsog offering but I am saving the lovely roses for the next offering.. I have to finished those homemade ones first, no point wasting them :D

Don't you love the spiral indents.....

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Cupcakes for Little Girls & their Mummy

I was so happily surprised when I read a comment made on one of my older post by one of my new bento friends, Christene of allthingspurple, that her little girl Kimberly liked the fondant flowers and butterflies which I made. And she politely asked if I can sell them to her .... haha.. that is about the highest compliment I have received so far since I started this Recipes blog of mine. A little girl liked them well enough to ask her mummy to buy them for her **still floating on this cloud happiness**.

Since I already had plans to make some cuppies as an offering for Tsog Offerings Day at my buddhist centre, Kechara House, I simply replied Christene that it would be my pleasure to make a few extra ones for her little girls (Kimberly & Ashley). Work on the flowers and butterflies started on Saturday as I needed for them to dry sufficiently. My theme for the cuppies for offering was just simple roses but cut some extra flowers with some butterflies from the extra fondant.

The cuppies were strawberry cuppies and orange with poppy seeds cuppies. But Christene later called me to tell me that her daughters' were only concerned with the fondant... not the cake.. haha...phew, luckily I remembered to pack them all the extra leaves, flowers and butterflies in a small container.

As I personally cannot bear to taken in all the sweetness of buttercream myself, I decided to make the icing for the girls out of whipped cream instead. The only problem with whipped cream is that refrigeration is necessary and fondant cannot take refrigeration. So, what I had to do is to put in the whipped cream first and store the cuppies in the fridge. Only at the last moment, when Christene said she was leaving her house to make her way over that I took the cuppies out of the fridge to add in the fondant flowers and butterflies.

These ones were for the girls....

This little green mouse is made of chocolate pellets which I melted and dropped into the moulds the night before.

An overkill with the number of flowers and butterflies on a cuppie .. but I was told the girls liked it like that :D

The green veins on the cuppie are made from royal icing

But I cannot forget about the girls' mummy and, these are for them....

I was a little worried as to whether the cuppies could take the hot journey back to her place but I got a call later (must have been 10 mins later after she has left with the cuppies and her girls) and told me that there is no need to worry about the cuppies... at least 4 of them are safe.......safely tucked inside the tummies of Ashley and Kimberly...hahaha.

Latest addition...... check out allthingspurple's blog for photos of her two lovely little princesses here.... they are the two prettiest little girls I have had the pleasure to meet... must be the genes from their mummy :D

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My First Complete Bento Box

This weekend just past has been a rather packed weekend for me and I do enjoy them very is like I am truly living life to the fullest, just like how it should be. I have so many things that I want to post but first things first, I must really thank Christene of allthingspurple for her lovely gift. After getting to know her through Bento Pet's blog, I got to meet her in person, even though it is only for a short while. My place was really a mess, so was too pai seh (embarassed) to invite her in. Next time Christene, when I have time to clean it up and make it more presentable.

She gave me my first real bento set. How wonderful and when she passed it to me, all she said was "I know that this will be very useful to you as you have started to bento now". I opened the gift and saw that it was a Thermos branded set... wow, complete with a bento strap (the one that I picked up from the 100Yen shop has no strap, so I have to use rubber bands to hold the lids down) and the best part was the thermos bag. Goody, now I can have warm food to eat.

It is indeed a most wonderful gift as I have now that I have started my bento journey. And you know what Christene, you have chosen one of my favorite colors too... blue :D.. Thanks again so much dearie.. hugs!!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pressure Cooker

I am so in love with the latest thing that moved into my kitchen... and that is my Pressure Cooker. I have always been thinking about owning one, but have heard (rightly or not) about the terror stories of exploding pressure cookers if the users are not careful when using them.

However, what decided it for me was after tasting the totally out of this world beef stewed cooked by babe of babeinthecitykl. Went over to her blog for the recipe and that is exactly when I made up my mind to get one of those babies back.. the pressure cooker, I mean.

Got my sister-in-law to go get it for me at the place recommended by both babe and a colleague. They both recommended me to get the Premier Pressure Cooker as it was not only reasonably priced, but also the availability of spare parts will not be a problem later.

Was so very excited about putting it to work that very night but as it was quite late by the time I got back, I had time only to read the instruction manual, which was rather brief. I reckon that it should not be rocket science when it comes to using a pressure cooker. The very next day, I tried steaming rice with it. By the way, there was no recipe manual inside the box, which I was told, used to be available.

Actually, I was a bit apprehensive from all those "horror" stories I have heard. So, followed the instructions in the manual very very carefully but nothing really prepared me for the real life sound effects of the pressure cooker.

The hissing came fast and very loud... so very loud that it set the dogs barking. With the super loud hissing and the dogs going crazy, I went into a total panic mode. Ran from the dining room to the kitchen and turned off the gas stove. Phew, luckily no explosion, I told myself. When the pressure cooker finally depressurized, I opened it and found that the rice was only partially cooked. Turn the gas stove back on and watch the cooker like a hawk for 5 more minutes before turning it off. No hissing this time.

The next day, went to office and checked with a colleague. She said "Shouldn't that be how a pressure cooker works meh?"... haha pai seh (embarrassed). She was probably right. Went home that night and decided to give it another try. This time, used it to soften some meat for making soup. Maybe due to the assurance given by the colleague that the cooker will not just blow up in my face, I was very prepared for the hissing bit. When it did, I still jumped. But the dogs didn't bark and I managed to coolly wait until the hissing stopped. Then I realized, this is how a pressure cooker works. Ha Ha.

I have so far managed to steam rice with it, boiled soup and make a soya sauce pork stew. I am very happy with the time savings and the gas savings this pressure cooker is giving me. And the meat really turns out wonderfully, even for meat which I forgot to take out to defrost was cooked without any hassle.

I am planing to steam a spare ribs dish using the pressure cooker to see how different the meat will taste but definitely, it will take a much shorter time to do. Made this steamed spare ribs a while back. The ingredients and method would be exactly the same, except that it will be using lesser gas and lesser time.

Oh my pressure cooker...... let me count the ways I love you .... beef stew, stew pork, soups.. ah.. i also want to boil porridge using you soon....ahhhhhh

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Snow Skin (Ping Pei) Mooncakes

It has already been at least 3 weeks after attending the mooncake making class at Melinda's but have not got down to making any since then. Anyway, I think we do have at least a month more to go before Mooncake festival, which I believe falls in mid September. However, since in my enthusiasm after the class and having bought some ready made lotus pastes, I finally decided to pick up my arse and did something about them.

Of all the the types of mooncakes, I reckon the snow skin ping pei ones are the easiest to make and I quite like them myself. When I told my mum that I was going to make some, she insisted that I made enough so that my brothers can take home some for their in-laws too. Oh well, I was not going to be too ambitious, hence, I made them in two batches, since both of them were not going to make it back for dinner on the same weekend.

I used the recipe which was given by Melinda for the first batch. That produced only very few mooncakes and as they were my first attempt to make them without Melinda's supervision, they were passable. Made an error in reading the recipe though. Used more pastry dough than fillings. Hence, I must say that unless you like pastry dough more than you liked fillings, those are really low grade mooncakes haha.

The second time when I made then, I used another recipe which I got off a recipe book. The quantity was a lot more as it yielded 4 large ping pei mooncakes and about 15 smaller ones. I forgot to take a copy of the recipe this morning. Will edit this post later when I do.

The pastry dough is quite yummy as it is basically the "yuen koh", soft cake that you can sometimes find at the pasar malam, night markets. They used to cost only about RM1 a bag. These days, I reckon they must cost at least RM2.60 a bag. You can still find an uncle selling them in OUG pasar malams on Thursday nights.

As I only made 4 large ones, I asked my brother if he liked the salted duck eggs. He said he did. So, I made one with 2 duck eggs especially for him. Any more eggs then i might as well just hand him the duck eggs with a clump of pastry.

I had some pastry dough left which I used a cookie cutter to cut up... mmm.. I like these as much as those with the lotus fillings :) yum yum.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Bento #5

These days, waking up early in the morning is not as much as ordeal that it used to be. Perhaps it is the thought of waking up to prepare my bento lunch that has giving me this extra burst of energy to jump off my nice warm bed :). All this is really with much gratitude to my new Bento buddies Bento Pet, Allthingspurple and LZMommy.

I am still eagerly checking out the blogs of these bento bloggers and others too but there is one particular one that I am keeping an eye on... and that is Bento Pet's blog. Why? Cause she is going to research into some low calorie recipes and I am in much need for bento meals which are nutritious but at the same time... ahem... perhaps reduce my waistline from that of of a whale to perhaps a garoupa or a siakap :)

This morning, decided not to fry anything for lunch and as there were no leftovers from last night, I had no choice but to open up the freezer to look for whatever is there. Goody, found a small tray of Unagi. Luckily of the pressure cooker, it only took about 10 minutes to steam up 1/2 a cup of rice and after that, recycled the water in the pressure cooker to just defrost the Unagi.

I got a packet of broad beans which is rather yummy. Picked it up at Isetan KLCC. Never tried it before but found that they were rather yummy. The packet read "Onishi Shokuhin - Tabekiri Shoyu Mame"

Left container: The yummy broad beans, an orange and some cherry tomatoes.
Right container, top: Unagi
Right container, bottom: Rice sprinkled with some sesame seeds, bonito flakes and seaweed. Cucumbers as dividers and 2 eggs (without yolks)

Can't wait for lunch time :)

pssst, christene of allthingspurple... if you are reading this post, I hope you win.. my vote goes to you. Why, your bento is not just about the yummy food or the lovely presentation. Your bento virtually oozes with the love you have for your daughters. Good luck :)

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