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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lamington, Finally...

Had my first Lamington in Sydney some fourteen years ago, and somehow despite the fading memory of it, I still keep the crave of its cocoa and coconut flavor and I once set out a promise to bake for myself someday.

It has been long long time, and amidst browsing through many food blogs last month, I was exposed to this cake again. Due to the vibes of celebrating Australia Day which fell on last 26th January, this iconic Australian cake became popular and appeared in many food blogs. I was once again tempted…

Some interesting findings from Wikipedia showed that Lamington has more than a decade history and was named after Charles Cochrane-Baillie who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Traditionally Lamington is popular as fund raisers for Australian youth groups such as Scouts, Guides and churches to the extent that such fund raisers are called "Lamington drives". Friday 21 July 2006 was designated as National Lamington Day in Australia. And in September 2006, the National Trust of Queensland named the Lamington one of Queensland's favourite icon.

Lamington is not difficult to bake and in fact very straight forward. Besides the conventional chocolate coating, I also made passionfruit curd. I was thinking of alternating them and serve Lamingtons like a chest board. It is fun and the flavor is very refreshing.

Try and see whether you like it?

Makes thirty six 3.5cm Lamington cubes.

1. Sponge Cake

- All purpose flour > 145grams
- Granulated sugar > 160 grams
- Eggs > 5
- Melted butter > 60 grams

- Prepare a 9 inch square baking tin lined with baking paper.
- Preheat oven to 175C.
- Beat eggs and granulated sugar until pale and light.
- Gently fold in all purpose flour, following by melted butter. Mix well.
- Pour batter into tin and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from tin and cool on wire rack.
- Cut into 3.5cm squares. Will get 36.

2. Chocolate Coating

- Cocoa powder > 30 grams
- Icing sugar > 100 grams
- Melted butter > 25 grams
- Hot water > 25ml
- Dessicated coconut > 50 grams
- Extra icing sugar and butter (at room temperature)

- Combine all ingredients together and mix well.
- Separate 18 cubes of sponge cake. Dip into chocolate coating and toss in dessicated coconut.
- Into the leftover chocolate coating add the same portion of icing sugar and butter. Stir until it reaches a thick and firm consistensy. Fill into a piping bag and pipe a rosette on top of Lamington.

3. Passionfruit Curd

- Passionfruit pulp > 65 grams
- Granulated sugar > 40 grams
- Egg > 1
- Butter at room temperature > 30 grams
- Dessicated coconut > 50 grams
- Extra icing sugar and butter (at room temperature)

- Mix passionfruit pulp, sugar and egg in a bowl.
- Place the bowl on a double boiler.
- Stir constantly until sugar dissolves and batter becomes thick.
- Remove from heat and add butter. Stir well.
- Take 18 cubes of sponge cake. Dip into passionfruit curd and toss in dessicated coconut.
- Into the leftover passionfruit curd add the same portion of icing sugar and butter. Stir until it reaches a thick and firm consistensy. Fill into a piping bag and pipe a rosette on top of Lamington.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Boy, I'm Inspired!

Have included Sweet Paul in "My Blog List" for the longest time, but didn't really have the leisure time to familiarize and get deeper into what Paul's blog is all about, until yesterday. And after spending hours and hours reading and clicking through his styling works - chronologically, I should say I was deeply ... deeply.... inspired. Haven't been inspired this much.. in a long long time...

It was like lots of fireworks were shot out into the evening Bangkok sky! **am I exaggerating ha ha? This envigorating inspiration was there like breathing the freshest air into my lungs, like discovering a fulfillment to my utmost desire..... like a long yearning finally found the way out!

In that moment of admiring his blog, I spoke to myself.... “I l…o…v…e all about this and should be doing just this .... photo styling!” Perhaps in the scope of food and lifestyle still-life styling, plus relevant photography. A near future direction or profession. “There I have defined it!”

I didn’t sleep well last night and this morning I started to notice all little details I have forgotten to pay attention to. Yellow brushstrokes on the pavement, wooden plant pots at the bus stop, rustic fences, vegetables at the market, and I stopped by a vintage book stop and chatted with the shop owner. Bought a very old photography book printed in China and collected information of how to go to a vintage furniture market nearby. I was inspired and I wanted to photograph something beautiful, soon.

All I know is I have loved everything that is beautiful like red velvet cupcakes, satin, lace, strawberries, passionfruits, plates, cups, kitchen props, backdrops, old rusty wood panels, glass vases, fancy utensils, embroideries, beads, and this list can go on and on endlessly... Now I want to be able to capture them all!

So an inspiration turns a firm quest? ...If a man really works on his dream, can he make it come true?

"Paul, thanks the inspiration! I like to dedicate this award to your blog!" You should all check out Paul's blog and be inspired :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' Mezze

Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone! Many thanks to Michele of Veggie Num Nums for hosting this month’s challenge: Mezze. It is a truly amazing challenge with so many flexibilities and options.

Mezze is a style of eating, not a specific recipe or recipes. It is a bunch of small dishes served all at once—sort of like the Middle Eastern version of Spanish Tapas. It can be served as appetizers before a meal, or as the meal itself. In practice, apparently Mezze is all about eating with lots of fun - taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It’s also a fantastic way to share a meal with family and friends.

We are only being asked to make pita bread from scratch and hummus. For the the bunch of dishes we are free to pick up from any of the Middle Eastern flavors – the whole range of optional dishes that we can scoop up and eat with pita bread. With the amount of time available in hand, I decided to go with pita bread, hummus, tabouli, falafels, and satay (recipe from the previous Daring Cooks’ Challenge with adding black soy sauce and substracting turmeric in marination).

I love the taste of every single one of the dishes, especially falafels. And even though tabouli is new for me, it is still very refreshing while mixed with couscous. The combination of all totally fits my taste buds and next time I would make this again for a feast catered for a group of friends.

The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

For my own convenience, I have make some adjustments to the challenge recipe. For the original recipe please click here.

Serves 6

1. Pita Bread
Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Makes ten 7 inch pita breads

- Dry yeast > 1 teaspoon
- Lukewarm water > 300 grams
- All purpose flour > 300 grams
- Salt > ½ tablespoon
- Extra virgin olive oil > 1 tablespoon
- In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 1.5 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
- Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 230C.
- Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 4 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle slightly bigger than 7 inch and ¼ inch thick. Then use a 7 inch cake ring to cut into a 7 inch circle. The cut-out leftover could be rerolled to make another circle. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack. Roll the second dough. Altogether it will make ten 7 inch circles.
- Place one piece of dough into a baking sheet, and bake at 230C for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

2. Hummus
Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden

- Canned chickpeas – strain, reserve the chickpea liquid > 150 grams
- Reserved chickpea liquid > 4 tablespoons
- Lime juice > 45 ml
- Garlic – peel and crush > 2 cloves
- Salt > 1/8 teaspoon
- Peanut butter > 2 tablespoons
- Granulated sugar > 3 teaspoons

- Puree chickpeas plus liquid in a blender until it forms a smooth paste.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

3. Falafels
Recipe from Joan Nathan and

- Canned chickpeas – strain > 100 grams
- Large onion – chop > 1
- Fresh parsley – chop > 5 grams
- Fresh cilantro – chop > 5 grams
- Salt > 1 teaspoon
- Ground red pepper > 1 teaspoon dried
- Garlic – peel, chop > 4 cloves
- Ground cumin > 1 teaspoon
- Baking powder > 1 teaspoon
- All purpose flour > 4 tablespoons or more
- Vegetable oil – 3 inch deep in pan > for frying

- Place chickpeas and onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
- Sprinkle in the baking powder and flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
- Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts.
- Heat 3 inches of oil at 190C in a deep pot and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
Note: Instead of deep frying you can bake Falafel balls on a nonstick pad (silpat or the like) at 160C, just until they’re firm, about 20 minutes.

4. Tabouli

- Couscous > 1 cup
- Water > 1 cup
- Cucumber – chop > ½
- Big tomatoes – chop > 2
- Fresh mint – chop > ¼ cup
- Fresh parsley – chop > 1 cup
- Garlic – chop > 2 cloves
- Lime juice > 1.5 teaspoon
- Ground pepper > ¼ teaspoon
- Extra virgin olive oil > 1/8 cup
- Salt > ½ teaspoon
- Granulated sugar > 1 teaspoon

- Bring water to boil in pan. Remove from fire. Fold in couscous and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Cover pan.
- When it is done, scoop with spoon to keep grains from sticking together.
- Combine the salad ingredients, including couscous, in a big bowl.
- Mix the dressing ingredients together and stir into the salad mixture.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Just right before everyone in this world is celebrating love in the honor of St. Valentine, some of us have taken a great step in actualizing love in a more extensive scope than just lovers, family and friends by reaching out to other mankind in other part of the world.

Lauren of Celiac Teen chose to be one of those assertive some who have initiated action in giving hand to Haiti. She has spent hours and hours of asking bloggers for recipes, designing e-book, finding her way to make it available for online sale, and ultimately donating the money to Haiti. Kudos to Lauren for this graceful effort!

Her e-book is now available for purchase and the money will proceed to the Red Cross. So for anyone who is interested in this charity work, do click on Haiti Ebook to read more about “A Hand for Haiti”. Feel free to make a further action of purchasing the book by clicking on Add To Cart button available on the page or else please spread the words by providing this link in your blog

I just passed a truly comforting 6-month period with T. What could be better than cooking the most favourite and loved make-blogger-feel-at-home food from Lauren’s ebook for a little celebration on our own?

At the same time, I am also submitting this post for Bake-a-Cake - A Valentine's Day Special conducted by Confessions of a Bake-a-holic! Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone!

Makes two dome shaped cakes of size 4"x9.5"x2.5" or one 8.5" circular cake

- All purpose flour > 175 gram
- Baking soda > 1 teaspoon
- Salt > 1/2 teaspoon
- Eggs > 3
- Mashed banana > 100 gram
- Vegetable oil > 110 gram

- Granulated sugar > 200 gram
- Ground cinnamon > 1/2 teaspoon
- Ground cloves > 1/2 teaspoon
- Banana essence > 1.5 teaspoons
- Almond - chop into chunks > 50 gram
- Raisins - chop into chunks > 60 gram

- Pre-heat oven at 190C.
- Mix A together and whisk until the batter is even.
- Fold in B. Mix well.
- Pour into mould and bake at 190C for 35-40 minutes.
- Remove immediately from baking tin.
- Cool and keep in room temperature.
- Serve with strawberry slices and marmalade.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I have been absent from blogging for a couple days for one single reason: T was hospitalized. Well, yesterday he was discharged from the hospital and now he is fine and resting at home.

T admitted himself to the hospital after vomiting a few times in his office on Saturday afternoon while I was in the middle of a photography seminar. And he chose the hospital close to my residence to make it convenient for me to go and visit him. Couldn’t believe he still had a very clear mind in the midst of all the discomfort and illness. He was diagnosed of having intestine infection that later at midnight led into high fever. 39.5 degree Celsius and no doctor was available to attend to him because it was a weekend.

I was worried that his body temperature might rise even higher and whether this was H1N1 cause apparently he was having headache, fever, and vomiting. Ice pack, bed bath and body scrub didn’t seem to help much. The temperature was still above 38.5C. He lost his appetite and any smell of meat, no matter how subtle it was made him want to vomit.

Nurse informed us that only the next morning (if we were lucky) the doctor might come early or else normally he would come late on Sunday morning. I didn’t want to take that chance. Emergency department was contacted and I managed to get the Emergency nurse to pressurize the nurse in charge of T to make a serious phone call to the responsible doctor or anybody else who could replace him. I was very upset.

At 6 am in the doctor came. He confirmed then a blood test and H1N1 test were necessary and an hour later the result came okay and H1N1 was negative, so he said that the fever could be due to other reasons, if not just intestine infection alone. T needed to stay in the hospital for a few days until his body temperature went back to normal and stayed stable for 24 hours. In the meantime he was taking pills for both fever and infection. Bought a handy battery thermometer to monitor T’s body temperature constantly and stopped getting annoyed by the fact that the nurse was not measuring as much as what I thought she should be doing...

After staying there for 3 nights and 4 days his condition improved and finally was allowed to go home. This was our first experience staying together in the hospital as I was on work leave to be with him. At the end of it, I could say that no matter how much a hospital was upgraded to be much patient friendly and more-like-a-resort, a hospital was still a terrifying and boring place.

Being in the hospital environment made me realize how much I want to be at home and have a home cooked meal. And this was just what I had in mind…..

Serves 4

- Water > 2 litres
- Chicken carcasses – remove skin > 2
- Big carrots – slice coarsely > 2
- Lotus roots – slice to thickness of 1cm > 300 grams
- Salt > 1 teaspoon

- Granulated sugar > 2.5 teaspoons
- Pepper > 1/2 teaspoon
- Water chestnuts – peel, boil > 100 grams
- Spring onion – chop > 1 stalk
- Coriander leaf > 1 stalk

- Whack hard the chicken carcasses through the bones to get sections about 3" big. The more bone that is exposed, the more marrow that gets in the soup which will make it richer and more flavorful. Whack several places along the bone just to expose more marrow. Leave aside.
- In a large pot, fill with water and bring to boil. Add chicken carcass sections and boil for 5 minutes. Lots of foam and fats will float on the surface. Remove from stove, drain and rinse chicken carcass sections of the scum and wash the pot thoroughly too. Refill pot with 2 liters of clean, cold water.

- Add chicken carcasses and carrots in the pot. Boil. With a large spoon, skim the surface of any fats and impurities. Fold in salt, sugar, and pepper.
- When carrots are cooked, add in water chestnuts and lotus roots.
- Cook for 20 minutes more.
- Remove chicken bones. Place soup on serving bowl and garnish with chopped spring onion and coriander.