My new blog: For those who came here for the cake pop class, I've created a new blog with updates on classes and photos over at guiri in the kitchen

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Bird's Eye View of 2008

Let's see, 2008 is coming to an end, and instead of ranting about what I should or should not have done, I've decided do a feel-good post here and write about what I have achieved instead.

1. Visited Hokkaido, Japan
2. Visited Hanoi, Vietnam
3. Climbed Mt. Kinabalu (although not to the peak)
4. Took up Flamenco (and passed the SDI Preparatorio exam)
5. Learnt how to bake and make ice cream
6. Organized my online photo collection, ToaMG - The Vault
7. Climbed the Story Bridge
8. Completed at least 1 charity run
9. Sending my aluminium cans and plastic bottles to the recycling centre

These are the things that I can remember just because I have blogged about them. The rest which are not mentioned here does not mean that they are insignificant - it just means that I have a memory of a goldfish. Now I see how important it is to keep a journal or a diary. Honestly, I'm really glad to have started this blog ... if only I could update it a little more often! ;)

I already have an initial list lined up for year 2009, but I'll keep mum for the moment :) Does that include making babies, you ask? LOL! That's for me to know and for you to find out!

Happy New Year 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

2009 New Year's Eve

The plan was to have a BBQ party right at home. With every family member home for the holidays, what else could be better than ushering in the new year together! Everyone was excited and had interesting ideas for the night ... until dad has to be hospitalised this afternoon for suspected dengue.

Mom is with dad in the hospital, and by the looks of it, he would probably have to do the countdown to 2009 there too. Sis have postponed their flights till next week just to make sure dad is alright before going back to Australia. The last time I had dengue in 1993, I was out from the hospital after 3 days. Hopefully the second blood test tomorrow shows a more positive outcome and that he can be discharged sooner. Will see what the doc says tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

SDI Exam 2008

I finally got my hands on my flamenco exam certificate last Friday. It was an early Christmas gift. Yep! I passed my SDI Preparatorio Level, together with Clea, Sania and Manuela. Now that it is over and I have completely forgotten about how nervous I was, I must agree that the entire exam had been fun. All of us were dressed up in standard black leotards, flamenco skirts, with our hair neatly bunned and adorned with a large flower.

As we got closer to the exam (which was on Nov 13, 2008), Joyce organized extra classes for additional practices. Although Joyce insisted that we were doing fine, we were all quite tensed and worried (who isn't?). But what I have appreciated most about having taken the exam is my speed of improvement within a short period of time. Somehow I guess its a human's nature that we can sometimes be too comfortable with our current positions. If things like exam never existed, we would never push ourselves to our maximum potential.

Nicola, our examiner was really sweet. At the end of the exam, she gave lots of pointers to all the exam candidates which I found to be very useful, eventhough it was clearly basic information. She also gave a workshop on Alegrias, which was difficult for us Preparatorios, but nonetheless of great fun. Once Fernando asked me, "Is your flamenco teacher Spanish?". He was quite skeptical about a non-Spanish teaching a Spanish dance but I told him I have a great teacher, and of her being Spanish or not was not of importance, I simply wanted to dance only!

Hopefully next year I'd be able to complete my Primer level too!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt

After getting an ice-cream maker from my mom as a birthday present, I have attempted to make nutella and rum raisin ice cream, both unsuccessful to my dismay. It was nothing serious though, texture was perfect, but a tad too sweet. Then yesterday I saw some fresh strawberries at the supermarket and made another attempt with a frozen yoghurt recipe. It was so simple to make and turned out as yummy as what I had expected it to be, so here's the recipe!

The following recipe makes about 1 quart


Approx 450g of fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vodka/kirsch
1 cup plain natural yoghurt

*Note: Original recipe called for 1 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, but I didn't have any, and it still tasted good

Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka/kirsch, if using, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring every now and then.

Purée the strawberries and their liquid with the yoghurt and lemon juice (if you have) in a blender or food processor until smooth. If you prefer to leave some pieces of strawberries in your frozen yoghurt, you can reserve about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of fruit pieces without the liquid and stir them in later. You can also press the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds.

Refrigerate for 1 hour, and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can freeze it directly in the freezer, but every 30 minutes while it freezes, check and stir vigourously with a spoon or spatula. Repeat until ice cream is completely frozen. This should probably take 2 hours or less depending on your fridge.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My First Fondant Cake... a Success!

Yesterday I went to ICCA at Seksyen 14 to source for some ingredients and tools to decorate my youngest sis' birthday cake. I wanted to make an extra special one for her, knowing her favourite soft toy was the Polarbear from NICI.

While I was there, Nancy attended to me, and asked if she could of any help. I told her I was looking at the possibility of making little figurines to decorate a cake and she asked if I've worked with fondant before.

"Erm, the closest I ever got to working with fondant is plastercine/playdoh", I replied honestly. "Is it the same?"

She just smiled and explained that it is not quite the same, and is a little bit more difficult to handle. She suggested perhaps it would be better to just get a 3D shaped bear pan to bake the cake and just ice with white frosting to turn it into a polar bear. I pondered a while and decided to go with using fondant. I was not quite willing to give up so soon. So she showed me all the necessary stuff I need to work with that sugar paste and I got a few other extra things to experiment with. Mind you these stuffs are not cheap :P

And so I found this nice little recipe for Moist and Tender Chocolate Cake from and yummy chocolate ganache from Martha Stewart improvised a little from there.


Ingredients for Moist Chocolate Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa (I used Hershey's)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
180gms unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup milk

Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache

200ml whipping cream (approx. 1 cup)
250gm semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped walnut (or any other nuts you prefer)


PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch-round baking pans (I used only one and then divided the cake into 2 after it is baked). COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture alternately with milk. Spread into prepared pan(s).BAKE for 25 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan(s) for 15 minutes; invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the ganache filling, bring cream to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate in a heatproof mixer bowl; stir until smooth. Let cool completely. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until mixture reaches a medium stiff consistency, 2 to 5 minutes, checking frequently. If it does not reach this consistency, chill in freezer up to 5 minutes, then continue beating.

To assemble cake: Trim rounded tops of cakes flat. Stir together half portion of the ganache with the nuts; spread over one cake layer. Top with second layer, and spread remaining portion (without nuts) over top and sides. Smooth with an offset spatula.

Chocolate ganache frosted cake

Note: This is already yummy enough on its own, or you can continue to decorate it with fondant like what I did with mine :)

My first attempt to decorate a cake with fondant... yes, it's all edible!