Friday, November 17, 2017

Baker's Corner: Chocolate Drip Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Glaze

I said I would blog the recipe of my twins third birthday cake, didn't I? Well, here it is!

First things first - I am no cake decorator. I assume you know that right? So, please be kind and don't judge my effort too harshly okay? ๐Ÿ˜„ I am just a hobby baker who still has far too many things to learn. Heck, I don't even own a turntable you guys! Enrolling in a cake decorating class has been on my agenda for years and I need to do that without further delay to get my basics right. Next year will be the year!

I'm going to make this post all about this cake and spare you the pain of my frivolous ramblings ๐Ÿ˜› This chocolate drip cake was one of my recent kitchen ventures that was a success. The drip cake phenomenon picked up steam a few years ago and I don't know about you, but I have been an ardent fan. I'd been meaning to try it for a long time and the perfect opportunity presented itself at the time of the twins birthday.

This cake has three components - the chocolate cake, the chocolate peanut butter frosting and the chocolate glaze, the recipes of which I tried for the first time on the morning of the girls birthday. I knew I was taking a big risk because I didn't know how everything would turn out, pair together or even if the quantities were right. I earnestly followed the chocolate cake recipe from a blog that I stumbled across but improvised on the frosting and glaze recipe as I went along.

To be honest, this turned out to be the easiest cake I have ever made. The cake itself has oil instead of butter so there is no creaming involved. Just mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, mix the wet ingredients in another, put everything together and you are sorted. The cake turned out tender, fudgy and moist with just the right amount of chocolate flavour. It wasn't all that sweet either so it went very well with the light, fluffy buttercream which was quite sweet and had a mild hint of nuttiness from the peanut butter. I used semi-sweet chocolate for the glaze which further brought the chocolate flavour to the forefront. The chocolate glaze was done in a matter of minutes and creating the drip effect was easier than I thought. The consistency of the glaze was just perfect. After that, it was just a matter of arranging a few chocolates and wafers on the top and I was done! From start to finish, the whole shebang took about 90 minutes. It struck me that I didn't even have to wake up as early as I did that day! But then again, I could have taken my time and done a much better job with smoothing the frosting on the cake for that seamless, uninterrupted finish. I clearly didn't ๐Ÿ˜›

Obvious cake flaws aside, will I be making this cake again? Absofreakinlutely!!!

So cake done and packed, I gingerly transported it to the twins preschool and they were delighted to see me and a chocolate cake (which brought them more excitement I'm not sure!). After the birthday girls blew out the candles and cut the cake, they had second helpings and were about to greedily reach for a third but as their mother, I had to put my foot down. Two little monkeys high on sugar is more than I can handle! Anyway, I stashed the leftover cake in the fridge and we polished it off within the next 3 days. Just keeping it at room temperature for 10 minutes was good enough to get it back to its moist yummy self.

I enjoy baking my childrens birthday cake. The happiness on their faces when they see it makes my mommy heart sing. Right now, they are at an age where they can easily forgive any flaws with the cake but as they get older, their expectations are going to get bigger ๐Ÿ˜ฐ  To that I say - bring it on! Jokes apart, I sincerely hope I can improve as the years go by and I can share with you my labour of love.

Trust me, this is a very easy cake to put together. If you you prefer to stay in your comfort zone  by baking simple cakes and avoiding any kind of frosting or decoration, you can begin your maiden cake decorating journey with this one.

Good luck and be sure to let me know how it turns out!

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Letter To My Daughters On Their Third Birthday

Writing this birthday letter has not been an easy endeavor. Unlike the previous two letters which came about effortlessly as a result of my assiduous note-taking throughout the year, this time, I have slacked off plenty. I still have been sending e-mails to both my girls documenting major events and memorable occasions but my memory keeping skills on a day-to-day basis has suffered. Oddly enough, I haven't put my camera to good use either. I've really had to rack my brain to extract the minute details of the past year. Note to self: Up your game and pronto!  

Anyway, I've been up since the crack of dawn to bake a chocolate drip cake for the girls which I promised them a while ago. They have been talking about their birthday for a few weeks now so I owed it to them to make their day special. I did a dreadful job with the cake last year but I think this year's effort sort of makes up for it ๐Ÿ˜›  I may even blog this recipe so check back soon! 

This year we are celebrating the girls birthday at a local water park followed by a visit to the beach because (like most kids) they are fascinated with water. This morning began by a simple cake cutting celebration at school followed by a visit to the temple. And in a while, we will be checking into D'Resort, a nature-inspired resort at Downtown East as part of a staycation. The resort is located adjacent to Wild Wild Wet, Singapore's most popular water park as well as Pasir Ris beach. So we will be spending the next three days doing all the things they like. This is my treat to the girls and I'm waiting to see the delight on their faces!

Since this is a birthday letter that chronicles the experiences of the past year, let me back up a bit. To be honest, I approached the start of this year with trepidation but seeing how it has unfurled, I feel much differently. To me, the terrible two's don't deserve the bad-rep it has earned and if any other parent of a soon-to-be two year old is reading this, I say to you - two year olds can be outwitted so don't fear them! ๐Ÿ˜€  On a more serious note, if you can efficiently avoid triggers for undesirable behaviour then you CAN keep the monster at bay! Tantrums are a part of normal child development so know that you are not a bad parent if your toddler creates mayhem. This year brings so much more than that so savour the wonderful moments that undoubtedly mark the terrific two's!

Without further ado, here is the third year birthday letter. Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Brand-new dishes unveiled at Greendot, Singapore!

[Media Invite]

So, if you have been a loyal blog reader, you may remember that I have reviewed Greendot on the blog before. I had been there with a friend and we came back high on all things green! 

Greendot is an asian-fusion vegetarian casual eatery. It was founded in 2011 with the mission to make healthy meat-free meals convenient, accessible and affordable to the masses. By using fresh ingredients and adopting cooking methods that preserve the natural goodness of the ingredients, the restaurant does justice to its healthy eating reputation. Greendot aims to modernize and revolutionize the vegetarian food industry by providing a plant-based, nutritious and convenient alternative to diners when compared to greasy run-of-the-mill fast food.

I recently received an invite to sample the brand-new dishes unveiled by Greendot (available exclusively at the Paya Lebar and VivoCity outlets).

The outlet I visited was the one at Paya Lebar and sits smack in the middle of Paya Lebar Square. The restaurant has an open kitchen concept that overlooks a minimalistic, bright and clean dining area with earthy tones. There are two seating areas, one inside the restaurant and the other located just outside giving diners a full view of the mall.

As with the rest of their menu, the new dishes do not contain any MSG or artificial preservatives. The four main ingredients that take centre stage in these dishes are: lion’s mane mushroom, konnyaku, soya and broccoli. Serving up to three persons, each dish is touted to be colorful, appetizing and wholesome.  

First up, we were served the Osmanthus Jelly Drink. Chilled, sweet and refreshing, this is a drink I enjoyed. 

Next, we were offered some of the regular crowd-pleasers that are served at the restaurant. I heartily dug into the brown rice and the three sides that was served alongside it. My favourites were the Lion Mane Mushroom Rendang and Stir-Fried Spicy Eggplant.



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Recipe of the month: Vegetarian Lo Mein + Giveaway from Market Fresh Singapore

Boy oh boy, do I have something good in store for all you folks in Singapore! ๐Ÿ˜Ž So, in case you have something important going on and are absent-mindedly scrolling through this post, I suggest you push the other stuff for later and give me your undivided attention (I'm being pushy for a reason, trust me ๐Ÿ˜› ). What I'm talking about is a fabulous recipe and a chance to win a voucher to buy the ingredients you need to make the above-mentioned fabulous recipe - a double bonus for all you foodies!

To elaborate, I am so excited to be hosting my very first giveaway! I am using my blog's facebook page as the platform to host the giveaway so if you are residing in Singapore and want to participate, follow the simple rules mentioned in the top-most post HERE and stand a chance to win!

This post is a collaboration with MarketFresh.Sg as part of their "Modern Mummies in the Kitchen" campaign. For the uninitiated, MarketFresh is an online wet market with next-day delivery option throughout Singapore. They are a new generation of wet market stall owners, bringing to you Singapore’s fresh & best value wet market groceries online for your convenience and hassle-free shopping.

In order to bring you the freshest ingredients, MarketFresh operates just like a wet market. In three easy steps you can enjoy your choice of fresh produce hand-picked especially for you each morning. First you order and customize from sections including fruits, vegetables, butcher, fishmonger, yong tau foo and dry provisions; second, you pick your delivery time from 4 convenient time slots and third, you receive groceries from express couriers who will deliver your order within hours. They operate before daybreak and take their last orders before noon in-keeping with how a wet market functions. This is to ensure your order gets to you on the same day, fresh as can be ๐Ÿ˜Š

I love the wet markets in Singapore. Every Saturday morning, it is a ritual for me to rise early just so I can hand-pick fresh produce from the wet market located opposite my residence and get home before my kids start to stir. MarketFresh were kind enough to give me the luxury of an extra hour of sleep by doing my job for me! I was given the choice to order groceries of my choosing from the online website and I was pleased to note that I found everything that I usually buy from the nearby wet market and at affordable prices too!

Placing the order was a breeze and this is what I received (and is similar to what my typical weekly market haul looks like). All the groceries were fresh and were delivered within the time slot I had chosen. There was an assortment of fruits, greens, vegetables, freshly grated coconut, fresh egg noodles and coconut milk. I had listed baby carrots in my order but I received a message earlier in the day saying they were unavailable at the market that day and hence I gave instructions to substitute it with something else. The order was correct except for a zucchini which had been mixed up with a bag of Japanese cucumbers. I'm sure MarketFresh would have set it right it for me if I had informed them but I had ordered zucchini purely on a whim so I settled for the crunchy cucumbers (and used them later in the week alongside a bowl full of homemade hummus ๐Ÿ˜Š ).

Some information about MarketFresh that you should know is,

  • Delivery is fixed at a flat rate of $6. Orders above $30 enjoy free delivery!
  • MarketFresh opens only when the wet market opens therefore they do not operate on Mondays
  • Since the wet market closes at around 1pm, all late afternoon orders are stored under refrigeration until ready for delivery
  • All orders will delivered within a time limit of 3 hours and the order will be packed with sufficient ice packs to keep your groceries cool and fresh

Okay so getting straight to the recipe, I have a local favourite for you - only a vegetarian version. Lo Mein is a Chinese dish made with stir-fried noodles. It often contains some type of meat or seafood, usually beef, chicken, pork, shrimp or wontons but it can also be eaten with just vegetables.

The Vegetarian Lo Mein that I have for you today is salty, savoury, bursting with that delightful 'umami' flavour and showcasing some bright and crisp veggies such as red cabbage, red bell peppers, snow peas and carrots. It is easy to make, delicious and hearty at the same time. What's more is that it is healthier and much better than take-out you guys!

Good Lo Mein needs a combination of dark and light soy sauce, sesame oil and brown sugar. I advise that if you do not use dark soy sauce in this recipe, you will not achieve the desired flavour so please do not skip it. If you have a particular brand of good quality dark and light soy sauce that you love, go ahead and use it. You will be thankful you did!

Coming to the noodles, Chinese egg noodles i.e. wheat flour noodles with egg added is what is typically used for Lo Mein. Fresh egg noodles work best for Lo Mein compared to dry and I was so happy that I could buy 1kg of fresh noodles from MarketFresh. It not only saved cooking time but ended up tasting great in the finished product. If you were wondering why they look short, I personally do not like tugging on kilometer long noodles so I cut them up a bit (is that blasphemous in the culinary world? ๐Ÿ˜ ). I understand if you cannot get your hands on fresh noodles. You could use dried Chinese egg noodles or ramen or worst case scenario, spaghetti or linguine. Just cook the noodles according to the package instructions and proceed as normal with the recipe instructions.

You can use this recipe as a clean-out-your-fridge strategy as it can be made with a variety of vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, baby corn, spinach, bok choy, kai lan, chives, mushrooms, snap peas, onions, cabbage, broccoli) and almost any protein you can get your hands on!

Oh, and before I go on to the recipe, did I mention one more bit of good news? For exclusively my readers, MarketFresh is offering a first-time 10% discount! The promo code is MEGHA10

So guys please try this recipe and let me know how it turns out! I'd love to get feedback. Also, be a dear and take part in the giveaway. It would make me even happier!

Happy shopping and happy cooking ๐Ÿ˜Š