Brown-Butter Blondies

11
COM

The Blonde Bombshell in my kitchen

V-day' 2009-5

" What are blondies?", a overzealous voice shouts from behind the giant bell jar.

Standing up from my seat behind the threatening landslide of display boxes and freshly baked goodies. I was met by the inquisitive eyes of a young girl, her eyes running over the creases on my laced blouse.

"Almost like brownies, but without the chocolate," I replied. An uneasy smile concealing my own confusion spreads across my face.

"I'll take one then," she said, her hand instantly reaching out for her wallet deep within the realms of her overflowing shoulder bag.

For a whole night ( 5 hours to be exact), Claire and I stood faithfully beside our stall at the Joint Hall Carnival braving the humidity of the night and the occasional passing glances and excited chants that proved to be nothing more than a fleeting sign of interest as the young sauntered by. Ever bit the better saleswoman than I am, Claire tried her best at pushing for sales, urging the curious onlookers into purchasing some of our goodies. Which were namely an assortment of mini-cupcakes and a bell jar of blondies from me as well as a whole range of different flavored cream puffs plus Rocky Road Brownies and a devilicious cookie aptly named 'Lots of Stuff Soft Chocolate Fudge Cookie' by Claire.

at the end of the night, though the returns were anything but spectacular, we were more than glad that it was all over. Perhaps because of the fatigues levels creeping up. *shrugs*. Yet.. still another bake sale to add to my accolades. and a good experience not to say the least.

V-day' 2009-6


Returning to the topic of the hot blonde bombshell in my kitchen, Blondies aren't actually brownies sans the chocolate; in fact, they are a whole category on its own with its personal deliciousnes and personality. Blondies depend on brown sugar for its distinctive molasses flavor. Chewy, rich, and flavorful, blondies are an indulgent dessert that are hard to resist when made right of course.

so here's sharing with you a recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies!

this recipe involves browning the butter, which allows it to take on a more delicious subtly nutty flavor and aroma. But to keep an eye on it, cause this bombshell may actually burn on the stove... Don't say i didn't warn you.

Brown-butter Blondies
with blueberries, pecans and white chocolate chunks.

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 ounces chopped white chocolate
2 ounces coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 pint blueberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcious (350 farenheit). Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment; butter and flour parchment.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook butter until it turns golden brown; remove from heat and let cool. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine browned butter and both sugars and stir with a spoon till combined. Attach bowl to mixer and add eggs. Using paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 mins. Add in vanilla and beat to combine. Mix until thoroughly combines and pour into prepared pans.
  4. Sprinkle the pecans, white chocolate chunks and blueberries evenly over the cake mixture. Bake until cake tester comes out clean, 35-40 mins (do not overbake!). Transfer to wire rack to cool completely and peel off parchment and cut into desired shapes. Blondies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.

blondies1

Love

0
COM
Love


Written and Performed by Chris Cendana


My eyes are hypnotized and mesmorized by yours
My skin tingles with hair-colored icicles
From the moment you opened my door
My heart cries mercy when you talk to me
To give me the daily news
My tongue hits freeze and I cant speak
To say what I want from you

(Chorus)I want love, love, love
I want love and more love
I cannot deny my silent desire
I want love, love, love

My teeth cant hide away and hibernate from you
My mind cant concentrate on anything else in the room
My soul perspires and my voice gets higher each time I try to speak
If Santa came by once more in July, my half-Christmas wish would be

I want love, love, love
I want love and more love
I cannot deny what I feel inside
I want love, love, love

I can dream of us on a beach
Or sailing on a light blue sea
You might have to leave your heart with me'
Cause I feel I think I need

I want love, love, love
I want love and more love
I cannot deny this beautiful sight
I want love, love, love
I want love, love, love
I want love, love, love




Copyright 2009 Chris Cendana


Southern Coconut Cake

9
COM

The Cake Slice Bakers presents

...

cakeslicebakers

The February Recipe as voted by members of the cake panel was the Southern Coconut Cake. I was delighted to have this to serve as my springboard as my comeback cake ever since my disappearance in the scene for the last two months. (much to the others disgruntle apparently, that I have no comments on; *ouch* though; the sores still hurt just a little). Since I was someone who would chose rustic over fancy-smanshy, this was perfect for me.

The cake came together easily, (i chose to bake a smaller version of 6 inches) and apart from the minor mishap that occured whilst removing the first layer of cake from the pan, all was at ease. The incident which saw the loss of one mishappen layer that tore to shreds in the midst resulted in a less than 'sky-high' cake..

Nibbling bits from the ruined cake, I was delighted by the subtle flavoring of the coconut within. The frosting on the other hand, was a slight hassle since it involved combining italian meringue with cream cheese. I added a tinge of lemon essence for that extra sour refreshing tinge to the otherwise sweet confection.

To sum it all up, the entire dessert was a God sent. A perfect combination of crunchy toasted shredded coconut, refreshing tangy cream cheese frosting and moist coconut white cake. Whats more proving than orders for 3 similar cakes in a week? *smilez*

Southern Coconut Cake
Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake

For the cake
:
5 large egg whites
½ cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups of cake flour*
2 and 1/3 cup sugar
4 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter (8oz.) at warm room temperature
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 ½ cups of sweetened flaked coconut for garnishing cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment circle and butter the circle.
  • Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk slightly. Add the ½ cup of milk and the vanilla and whisk to mix thoroughly; set aside.
  • In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, beat dry ingredients well in order to break up any lumps. Add the butter and coconut milk on low speed and beat just to combine. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy about 2 minutes.
  • Add the egg white mixture in 2 or 3 additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Divide the batter among the pans.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake taster inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then turn the cakes out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on an 8-inch cake round. Cover this layer with 1 cup of the buttercream frosting. Spread it evenly all the way to edge of the cake. Then sprinkle ½ cup of shredded coconut on top. Add the second layer and repeat the process. Top with the final layer of cake and frost the top and sides of the cake.
    Place the remaining 1 ½ cups shredded coconut on a large baking tray. Pick up the cake and hold it on the palm of one hand over the tray. Using the other hand scoop up the coconut and press it to the sides of the cake. Continue with this process until the sides of the cake are covered. Set the cake on a serving plate and sprinkle any remaining coconut on top of cake. Chill cake for at least one hour to allow frosting to firm up a bit.


Cream cheese buttercream frosting
12 ounces of cream cheese* slightly chilled
1 stick of butter plus 6 tablespoons of butter (7 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
¼ cup of water
3 egg whites

  • Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until slightly fluffy and smooth. Add the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Set aside at room temperature while buttercream is made.
  • Combine the granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue to cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the softball stage 228 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
  • Meanwhile, place the egg whites in mixer bowl and have the mixer ready to go. When the syrup is ready, turn the mixer on med-low and begin mixing the egg whites. Slowly add the hot syrup to the whites taking care not to pour onto the beaters, it may splash. When all the syrup is incorporated, raise the speed on the mixer to med-high and beat the egg whites until mixture has cooled and stiff meringue forms.
  • With the mixer on low, begin adding the cream cheese mixture by the spoonful. When all is incorporated, raise the speed to medium and whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

southerncoconutcake

Some kind of wonderful..

6
COM
Some kind of wonderful...


and as promised. A peek into my 2 days of valentines'. 2 days of soft reminder that he is and has always been there for me.

'Some people may require coffee to start their day.. but my day would never start without hearing your voice and a kiss...'

ecp1


so early morning, it was off to East Coast Park after a terribly exhilarating miss of our boat to st. john's (better luck next time!); all these done with sluggish footsteps and tiny whimpers of fatigue. Yet, in each other's presence, all was restored. Brunch was served up from our flashy red picnic basket. Shepherd's Pie which I had prepared even earlier that morning, chicken cheese sausages and a box of black grapes hailing from capetown. For that tiny space in time, life never seemed so simple before. With the wind billowing along the ungamingly straight coastline, hands clasped around the warm tray whilst dipping our spoons into the dish almost a little too eagerly, loving gazes exchanged occasionally... I wish I could do this everyday.

ecp4

Then I found the root to the entire magical experience casted. It was you... Just being close to you.



ecp2

yep.. YOU orite.. =D

ecp3

Yet despite the kisses and verbal exchange during our excursion.. I still needed my caffeine fix. gosh. guess it doesn't apply to me.. haha. The coffee from oldtown white coffee worked its wonders.

and finally.. a movie marathon! Slumdog Millionaire @ amk followed by Valkyrie @ Vivo. For me, I enjoyed Slumdog more. A potrayal of the humble and almost unimaginable living conditions of the Indian Slums, Slumdog strikes its viewers hard and fast with vibrant pictures and loud backgrounds sounds of the life of a slumdog. Racial Riots, Child abuse, Political Struggle and Social Imbalance are the highlights of the film. Educational and nonetheless romantic in a different sort of way.

vivo1

some shots taken from the roof of Vivocity whilst finishing up the second portion of our picnic food. Now.. talk about budgeted valentines' day!

vivo2

vivo3


'I promise I would love you with all I have. Ever.'
-Babe-

The next day...

Tuanqi's special V-day outing @ Botanical Gardens!
I'll just leave you with the photos...

botanical1

botanical2

botanical3

after a mini song session whilst waiting for the late comers to stream in (can't blame anyone yar.. 10am meeting at the park is surely a mean feat especially on a Saturday!) and sharings from Kee Zhi and Velda.. it was time for refreshments and games!

botanical4

The twister game courtesy of Zhiheng was invigorating and sure worked some of those inflexible muscles...I could have sworn I overstretched my calf in a squatting stance with my arms twisted below me. argh...

botanical5

finally.. a group shot! A major thanks to everyone for coming and to Ruth for preparing the lovely refreshments for us!

oldskool1

Next up.. on the road to Old Skool Sinema at Mt. Sophia for a movie! 'Carrot Cake Conversations.' Love the plush red cushions and free seatings @ the theatre. Though a really small one with minimal shows, mostly local productions with a more artistic flair; the sinema seemed like a real popular place to go, or maybe it was just the valentines' weekend...

oldskool2

oldskool3

And to end the day off... Another cheap meal with the best companion in the world. Nothing beats that.

carrotcakeconversations

A plate of Carrot Cake anyone?

all but a little green-eyed

2
COM
All but a litte green-eyed

Orchidville New Forrest Restaurant

birdcage

Well, let's just say that if you have extreme intolerance for the color green then this place certainly isn't the ideal dining surroundings for you. Walls splashed audaciously with the leafiest green, twigs and branches in random assortment dangling from the ceilings accompanied by naturally draped ferns; orchid balls and twig-caged lightings illuminate the room. Diners would spend half of the time staring at awe at the flora around them, a scene lesser known to them due to the better known choice of chic urban decor widely found in most establishments.

Orchidville's New Forrest Restaurant situated in the midst of an orchidville (DUH!) and an agrotechnology centre specialises in chinese cuisine with a bit of a spin on the classics. Having been invited for dinner by Zh's dad with his brother. My feelings of being compelled were exchanged for more pleasant waves later in the evening when I came to saw the location.

interior

Being a fan of flora and fauna and basically all things nature, I came to love this place. Once we stepped into the halls decked out in an omnious shade of green, I was overcomed by a wave of peace. Green, that is its immediate effect on me.

peanuts

Dinner was without a doubt one of those 10 course, long chinese dinners that made you tired just by the slow ardious process of plate changing and listening to the urges of the elders to 'eat more'. The courses that were the most memorable were definitely the pork knuckle and the 'buddha jump over the wall'. The former was cooked in a style that was almost akin to the German pork knuckle. Braised first and fried after. This produced a crisp outer skin to be chipped away with succulently moist meat below. Wrapped in lettuce and eaten with ginger and hot sweet sauce; this dish was immensely enjoyable when tucked in to by everyone round the table. The other dish was a soup served up in individual portions, filled with a mixture of fine ingredients such as scallops, fish maw and shark's fin. This dish proved to be physically and psychollogically rich; the soup base a fine balance of flavors with red dates and thinly sliced ginger. *yum*

The rest of the dishes were just slightly over average with the better half of them almost 'forgettable'. But still, the location and ambience prove to be a major draw factor for most the crowds. Take into account that there was a company function going on in the room next to ours. Yes, so business was brisk. Still, I can't help but think of the improvements that could have been made thru a renovation and refurbishment of the dilapitated exterior patio; now boreing only the stains left by the partying crowds that once flooded the area.

If only...

interior2

Orchidville New Forrest Restaurant
10 Lorong Lada Hitam
Mandai Agrotechnology Park

Tel: 6552 7003

caged

Valentines Day

0
COM
Oh how we all hate Valentines Day...

Cynical? yes indeed. Valentines Day hasn't exactly been on the top of my list of favourite holidays to celebrate. With the streets flooded with couples doused in syrup-ey mood for love, florists and restaurants holding the reins with their cut-throat prices, baskers with wicker baskets filled of individual stemmed roses pressurizing poor boyfriends to buy their lovely lady a stalk. All of it seems a little gimicky at this point. Perhaps I hadn't had a memorable Valentines day so to speak of, thus my grudges. But I pray that this year would show a glimmer of hope.


Meanwhile, here are some good deals and V-day present ideas that you could consider!

Check out With Love this Valentine for reasonable, almost too good to be true steals on flowers and flower bouquets!
With collection points from NTU and NUS, things couldn't get easier. and who wouldn't want a cute red bear like the one featured below.. awww.. it needs a home!
read: and no babe, this is not a hint for you to get me flowers... you know I've always thought of them as useless burdens...

Next up, how about getting a box of decorated sugar cookies for your loved one. With lovely messages etched on its heart-shaped cookie; I'm sure that the recipient would swoon at this one. Followed by a hug thereafter. THink about it yar!

Check it out here if interested!


Last of all.. Oh please.. you wouldn't think I was gonna give up on advertising myself would you. hehe. Some sweet nothings for the dearest? Our special v-day exclusive cupcakes, personalised cupcakes and other cakes are still out for grabs. So do drop my website for a look!

So what you going to do this valentines' day?

a walk down memory lane

4
COM

A trip down memory lane


pandan buns


My grandma was one of those ladies particularly talented in the art of cooking. Her kitchen would often be stirring with activity every single time I dropped by, filled with the pitter-patter steps of those with inquisitive noses. Grandma was often considered the queen of consultants when it boiled down to food matters and every family gathering at her place meant nothing less than a galore of mouthwatering dishes featured, set on top the lovely antique marble counters.


Like many women who had lived through the British colonisation period in Southeast Asia; my grandmother worked as a house keeper for a British family residing in Singapore at that time. Her gentle ways and generous hospitality towards the family gathered their respect; and in return they honed her cooking skills, adding many more western recipes to her culinary repetoire. English dessert recipes came as a revelation to her. And till this day, my mother still speaks fondly about my grandmother's rendition of sherry trifle and lemon meringue pie.

bread


I still remember visiting the house one fine summers' day. The prevailing atmosphere in her kitchen was the tang of spice and rich butter carried in a mist of white air filled with flour dust. She and everything else were covered in fine particles, and when she loaded ingredients into a mixing bowl, her swift actions left a hole in the atmosphere where she had just been. Pinching and crimping the sides of the filled curry puffs, i relished in the opportunity to steal a bit of the piping hot fillings every time my grandma turned her back.

Memories aside, recently, I had chanced upon my grandma's vintage recipe book over at my auntie's house. Stashed away in the corner of the kitchen rack, the book had evidently bore the traces of old age, its cloth covered faces spotted with incandescent brown dots and the flowery fabric peeling slowly away from the sandy surface. The contents of the book revealed a surprising discovery.. handwritten recipes copied diligently by my grandma. All in English of course and in the most beautiful cursive writing I've ever seen. Organised sections of puddings, custards, and cakes were found with elusive recipes for christmas cakes, her most famous sherry trifle and many more. I was thrilled and excited at my find, but stumped with disappointment later when an innocent request to take over the vintage inheritance was denied by my aunt. i guess a little waiting would be no harm.

In the meantime, I took the liberty of baking a simple pandan bun bread for the family on a lovely late Friday. These bore a certain resemblence to those rows of soft buns sold in the neighbourhood shops during my mother's childhood days. Everyone, including my grandmother enjoyed it. All day long, a smile that stretched the length of the great walls spanned my heart as I thought of my grandmother happily munching on her buttered buns, recollections of the olden days in tow. That was the least I could do for her.

Pandan Bread


recipe adapted from Baking Cottage

Sweet Pandan Buns
Ingredients:
240g bread flour
60g plain flour
50g castor sugar
10g milk powder
2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp pandan paste
1 egg
150g Milk
20g unsalted butter
5 g salt
Coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

Method:
Mix flour, castor sugar, milk powder and yeast till well blended.
Add milk, pandan paste and egg to form a dough.
Add in butter and salt and knead until dough is elastic and smooth.
Gather dough to form a ball and cover dough with cling wrap and let it rest for abt 50-60 mins or double in size.
Divide dough into portions of 60 gm each. Shape into balls and leave it to rest for abt 10 mins. Roll out dough and shape as desired/wrap it with fillings.
Let it proof on lined or greased baking tray for another 50-60 mins or until dough is double in size.Apply egg wash (1 beaten egg) or milk on dough and sprinkle toppings as desired on it.
Bake dough at 180-190ยบC for abt 12 mins or till lightly brown
.

Where the horses roam...

9
COM

'oh give me a home, where the white horses roam...'

riders

' Popo! i want a horse!!!'

Wild exclaimations filled the Chrysler as we pulled up into the parking area. A joint parking lot for both Mimolette and Riders Cafe, the distance a vast difference from that featured on the HGW site. The two in clear sight of each other.

With the many large horses trotting around, their trainers in tow dressed in slacks and hardy helmets looking almost as fit as the horses themselves; it is no wonder that one would be fascinated at the settings. I myself was immersed in a landslide of thoughts and dreams as I starred out into the stables not far below from the cafe's patio.

patio

What I liked about riders cafe; sentiments which i shared with my dining accomplices and many other patrons alike; was the laidback settings of the place. With a cottage feel, high ceiling fans, greenery all around and the frequent sightings of the majestic horses taking their morning strolls outside; it was that easy to be charmed. It's no wonder this place is often full during weekend brunch hours...

collage2

The menu was simple.. no fuss at all. And the food was quick to arrive all around the table. I had the norwegian benedict and a cappuccino to match up. Whereas others ordered the egg benny and riders breakfast. Overall, the poached eggs were wonderfully executed and the smoked salmon providing a savoury contrast to the sour hollandaise sauce. One thing that my brother noticed was that the hollandaise sauce was hardly as aromatic or sour as it should conventionally be. I suppose they did this batch in a hurry or perhaps altered it to suit the asian palette as many would think that the sour taste meant that the eggs had gone bad. haha. Another gripe was the toughness of the muffin exterior after toasting.. the knives proved almost inadequate in the task of producing bite sized pieces.. *sulks*. But still, definitely worth its price tag of $12. (note that panfried potato cubes and freshly sliced fruits and berries were plated on the side. extremely delish!!). *burp*.. my cravings for eggs benedict have been satisfied!

food

Coffee served was Grinders coffee which in general was done quite well. No signs of burnt beans of milk. A tad diluted though. But that's acceptable for me. Had many worsts experiences in my life before.

brunch

Dining accomplices included our gracious guest Popo. Glad that she enjoyed herself, peeping over the railings for an occasional glance at the horses prancing impatiently in their stables. Guess a little fresh air and greenery once in a while can do wonders for the soul. Others present were Er-yi, Dayima, Mummy, Kor and Velda. Some sort of farewell procession for the brother (aka Kor) who would be heading back to heat-stricken Melbourne later that day.

popo


collage1

Perhaps it would be another year before I see him again. I will miss his annoying little ways, his gaping look of concentration in the midst of gaming, his pestering bombardment questions regarding his girlfriend and many other strange habits. Strange how life can take you apart to so many different places, but still bring you back together in the end. Like footprints in the sand that never vanish.

kor

I'm sure that someway or another, our lives will cross their paths soon. See you soon Kor!

a figment of my imagination

0
COM
A figment of my imagination

I shun this side of me, one that upon emerging, evokes still images of senseless self-dominated mind games that I used to put myself thru. i sense that certain predicament creeping up onto me, an unwelcomed guest of course, but still persistent nonetheless. He challengs my self-worth, brings chatter marks to the most shiny surfaces of relationships. I wish it would go away...i really do.

our trip to the barrage - documented

7
COM
Our trip to the Barrage - documented

Metallic grey streaks stretched the skies. An obvious sign of the torrential rains to come. Yet the water in the bay's reservoir remained a state of calm despite the strong winds and undulating water levels on the outside. Miracles of the barrage. Made to prevent floodings of the lowlying areas in the city region during the rainy seasons and eventually to bring in more water when the levels are lower; the barrage instantly converted our exposed bay area into a reservoirs of sorts. A idea I found redundant at first but came to appreciate in my round trip of the foundation's gallery.

first

babe squinting thru the reflected lights bouncing off the water surface. as cute as ever...

looking over

looking onward at the throngs of people that have gathered at the rest areas spaced out along the barrage.

combined1

blackandwhite

and we walked up the colossal arena from the basement up a rounded slope to the turfed rooftop of the building. We took a few moments to absorb in the sights of Singapore. One that was constantly on a hungry journey for upgrade. The skyline was no longer recognisable, like a child in the stage of puberty with an everchanging face. I shuffled my feet, the breeze stealing my breathe away as i gazed in admiration at how far we've come. You and I.

city1

The Singapore Flyer, a gargantuan wheel being the focal point of many shots was a welcome addition of course. Still, I resist the temptations to take a ride unless the prices did tumble overnight. haah.

city2


cityscape

dotted with ongoing constructions.. I've only one word to describe it. fugly..
combined2