Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Some modification and late night therapy

Some of my cuppies never made it to the table and stay dormant for a while in the fridge. I copied a recipe of some muffins with ground almonds. I was excited when I looked at them rising in the oven. Minutes after that I was not so sure if I was really happy as they just continued rising. The moment they came in contact with the cool air, some sunk right away, producing something like a huge caldera in the middle, others erupted like some mini volcanoes but without the lava and the volcanic ash.
Think since I grinded the almonds myself, it was not properly done resulting in a mixture of inhomogenous coarse and fine grains. The coarser grains might have provided too much spaces for the hot air to fill but the cakes later collapse when the air was forced out. I got muffins with crispy texture and filled with vesicles LOL;).

So what do I do with them?

This is how one of them looks first

I removed them from the liners and grinded in the dry blender and they turned like some bread crumbs. I modified a choc cake recipe by replacing some of the flour and cocao with them. They rose beautifully like the morning sun and the best part is they didn't collapse...yay! The first batch of 20 was gone in a few hours. Hubby had two of them. That means they were ok.

Made the second batch to finish off my volcanoes;) but reduced the amount of batter in the liners.

After some swirling and sprinkling, they were ready as buah tangan for a visit to my brother's.

I even love doing that!
And tonight since I'd stay a bit late to prepare for tomorrow's lecture, I might as well bake too. I had leftover pumpkin, looked for some recipe and we now have some yummy cuppies. I had forgotten the eggs but they turned out well. The recipe asked for some cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger powder, and I added some choc chips. Bea2 stayed up late too as she had a late afternoon nap and helped me. She already talked about bringing some to school.

That's her with a hand in a cookie jar;).

I just love baking and constantly trying to improve. But at the same time refraining myself from attending classes as I think I just have no time for all this. Such dilemma!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Since a girl is 6 only once....

...and wanted a princess cake for her birthday, mama had to look for ideas and came up with this:

I choose a dark pic purposely so that the not-so-smooth fondant does not look that obvious. Anyway, it was only my 3rd time 'playing' with it. It was 6 am with Atef staring at me with please-pick-me-up look on his face. And it was supposed to be Cinderella, but I just could not figure out how to get her hair in place. I let Bea1 and Bea2 did some finishing touch to it while I got myself busy in the kitchen.

The birthday girl

She was very pleased with it, but the first thing she said was "This is not Repunzel!". I guess she got that idea from Bea1, who else.

One thing that I would always remember about her is, one night when all of us still sleep in one room. Everybody was already quiet except for her. Bea1 was tired of listening and asked her to continue the next day. She was quite frustrated with that request and said that she just could not stop. What she meant was it was beyond her control that she must talk. I could not help but to laugh at that.

Most of the time I love listening to her stories, but sometimes I just got to ask her to stop;). She talks about everything to tiny details. She is also the drama queen in the family;). Hubby said obviously she inherits that from me!

The party
We made it like any playgroup gathering at our place except for no potluck this time. I asked everybody not to bring gifts as not to get others to feel left out. We just invited the same people that used to come over, and Bea2 also said she just wanted to have the same friends over. We let the kids play at the pool after eating and continue eating after that. So we had 4 of my friends and their 7 kids, and the babysitter with her children and my sister with her fantastic 4.

The food

I planned to have it simple. Bought an Ikea 365+ 3-tier cake stand and I must fill that up;). Made some flourless cuppies with ground almonds and the texture turned to be airy and crisp *LOL*. I didn't know what happened but I baked that at 4 am that day. I was still asleep, maybe. Made fruit tarts the night before, and kept them in the fridge and the pastry turned soggy. Fried mihun that turned out to be a little dry, and even the birtday cake had egg-smell. It was white-butter cake. Maybe eggs were not fresh or I should put in more vanilla. Added some kuih from a pasar tani on the cake stand. And grilled some chicken wings, and poured some bbq sauce on them later.

Hubby brought home satay and LOTS chocolate, icecream for the kids 'kenduri'. My sister brought some lauk-pauk and I cooked rice for those who must have rice. Everything's almost gone after they came back from the pool. Must always use the pool to get people to be starving that they could just 'hentam' anything. No left-over, this is the kind of party that I like;). And minimal cleaning left as friends and babysitter kept clearing plates etc. throughout the party. And I also got a good cooperation from the girls keeping the house clean before the party. They even arranged the shoes at the door, something I never taught them to do *LOL*.

Eventhough I tried not to get anyone to be left out, we still had a drama. Bea3 was dissapointed that even after cake-cutting, she still was not allowed to eat the dress on the doll;).

It was sorted out anyway!

My friend said birthday girl would be sad as people didn't bring her gifts. Told her, I had already explained to Bea2 already. We could not expect everybody to bring 5 gifts each birthday and she was ok with that. Kids are easy sometimes;).
The first guest arrived at 12.30 pm and the last left at 7.30. Such a beautiful birthday bash yesterday!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Colourful tiara cookies

I shouldn't stay up this late, but I guess I'm just as excited as the girls. So, just a quick one.

Saw a tiara cookie cutter at the cakeconnection and thought the girls would love it. I bought it along with my first REAL vanilla extract. I'd been wanting to have that for ages.

You know how girls love everything princessy and kept pestering me to start making tiara cookies and I just got to try my vanilla.

So we did it tonight. 10 pm on a school night, my girls (and the bigger boy too) started decorating, while Atef observed from his high-chair, and maybe wondered what's the excitement all about;). I shooed them to bed after that and promised that they would have the cookies cooked and cooled in the morning.

Everybody talked about bringing them to school and Bea2 already searched for a tupperware already.

My favourite simple recipe is always the shortbread. 1 stick of good unsalted butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and about 11/2 cup of flour, some rice floor, some vanilla and a pinch of salt. It gives us 9 tiaras and a tiny one from the extra that I didn't decorate to have the real taste of the cookie. The cutter is huge, they are the biggest cookie I've ever made and it was a challenge to tranfer the cookie to the baking sheet after cutting. But practise makes perfect, I hold on to that.

I ran out of granulated brown sugar and I used gula melaka, powdered with mortar and pestle;). The cookies turned out very nice, and yes the vanilla does make a difference. I'm refraining myself from eating more and frustrating the girls in the morning.

I just learned that a mixture of an eggyolk with a few drops of water and food colouring is food paint. It's better to use new paintbrush or pastry brush but we don't have any. So I just let the girls used their hands. They were all ecstatic about the new technique hehe;). We combined that with sprinkles and dragees that I so want to finish, so that I can buy new ones.

Try it, it is so much fun for us!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What's (not) cooking!

I hope everyone had a great time with the family during Christmas (for those who celebrate) and the long holiday. I was so occupied with getting the kids occupied during the school holiday;).

Atef's new middle name is clingy;) and I'm not much into cooking lately. But I watched Jamie Oliver doing some pumpkin soup and I made it tonight.

Everything was done in a hurry including when picking up the squash in the market. I ended up with a not-so-ripe one. No nice photo either but I managed to throw a sage leave for garnishing. I don't have the gadget that people use to mash up food, so I just used my hand-mixer. It worked well to just mash the squash and it left some chunky bits. But Bea1 didn't really enjoy it as she could still see bits of union. She is ok when she does not see it;). Hubby said I need to cut down the rosemary. I remember I used the same amount of garlic, union, rosemary for 3 kg squash (like the great chef does) on only 1/2. No wonder the taste a bit strong, and I had forgotten the carrots too. But I sense if everything is right, the soup is just wonderful.

And you know what, to me a good thing about cooking is if we fail the first time, we will want to try again fast. That's what I'm going to do. I also added some bbq-ed chicken in case kids could not take the soup. Anyway, the crouton is it!

I'd like to share some of things that I did in the kitchen in the last few weeks when I managed to get a breather from Atef.

Lots of cut-out cookies and I love this the most. Bea2 complained that she didn't like to wait for the cookies to cook and cool before decorating. I found a recipe of some colored dough that can be used before baking.

The girls decorating with some gels.

Hubby stopped at Cameron Highland during a trip and came back with a huge bag of zuchini that I didn't know what to do with it. I just replaced the carrot from a carrot cake recipe and I can't really tell the difference, except for the green instead of orange bits.

Some not-so-neat chocolate tiny balls with ganache.

I looked for my bowl high and low and found Bea3 licking off the chocolate from it, in front of the TV.

Some friends and family came visiting from Kedah during the Christmas holiday. I was about to pipe the icing on my simple butter cuppies when I got a call that said they were already at the lift. I eventually just spread it with a spoon. I just love the buttercream icing with lemon juice and zest. Must do it again!

And this is the latest pic of the baby that keeps me away from the kitchen, but I love him to bits anyway. He has some rash that is healing beautifully now.