31 August 2006

Sweet nothings...Everything!

I've recently been creating lots of desserts (new ones and old classics) for visiting friends, birthday-dos, wedding afternoon tea receptions and generally to satisfy the sweet cravings of myselves and friends (Leons, G, shan, O, XY...).

Some of these have been inspired by visits to Borough Market, PYO farms, Ready Steady Cook requests and just a general urge to practice baking therapy!

I've decided to share these recipes (along with great photo evidence!) with all of you. Please let me know how you get on with recreating these little beauties:

Mango and passionfruit cupcakes (Ready, steady cook - style request)
These were created combining the Magnolia Bakery (in NYC) cupcake recipe and inspiration from the muffin we had at Ottolenghi

Ingredients (makes 6 cupcakes, 170 degrees Celsius)

1/2 mango - deseeded, flesh cut into small cubes (icm cubes)

2 passion fruit + gelatin leaves + icing sugar - to create the passionfruit topping for the cupcakes

125g butter

3/4 cup plain flour

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 egg - lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup milk (infused with real vanilla bean pods)


1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.

2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. Add beaten egg slowly whilst beating.

4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.

5. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.

6. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.

8. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.

9. Fill cupcakes paper until 3/4 full, placing cubed mango pieces into the batter.

10. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

11. Remove from oven, leave to cool slightly and top with passionfruit topping.

Pavlova (english) - my style, my impromptu dessert

Meringue nests - you could make them or M&S sell decent ready-made ones. But these are basically egg whites and sugar beaten till tripled in volume and baked in a low oven.

Summer berries - blackberries, raspberries, strawberries

Raspberry coulis - macarate really ripe raspberries with a little icing sugar

Freshly whipped cream

Fresh mint leaves - roughly torned

Assemble as above.


27 August 2006

Is it 100% cotton?

I always aspire for my baby sis to never grow up? Or rather to not grow up too quickly?
I wished her world was about real wooden toys, running in open fields, climbing trees etc etc. You know what I consider as a proper childhood? At least that's what I think childhood ought to be IF I ever had kids of my own.

BUT Kyl-linn's surely growing up real fast and it saddens me when we cannot protect her from the evils of the modern world. However, she does say the most unexpected of things you would not expect to hear from a 4-year old. Below is dialogue between Kyl-Linn, mummy and her teacher at nursery school:

Another attempt by mum to get KLL to be less anti-social and take part in school activities:
K: Mummy, I am not going for any school excursions because all the other children have a special T-shirt that they wear to these excursions.

M: Is that true? We'll go and buy one from the nursery tomorrow then.

M: Teacher, could we buy one of those excursion T-Shirts? Kyl-linn feels very left out as she does not have the T-shirt the other kids wear to excursions.

T: Of course. So sorry - I did not know she does not have one.

K: Is the T-shirt made of 100% cotton?

That's my 4-year old sister for you! Could you actually be angry with her? And where on earth does she learn to say such things?

As much as we wished for her to grow up in a "normal" mannner, I guess it's the society we live in today that dictates how quickly our children no longer become children anymore. In Kyl-Linn's case, you cannot help but wonder if it's because she's got 2 very eccentric sisters and a "mad" mum!

23 August 2006

How classic are you?

I find it quite funny (well, more perplexed really) that some people choose to think that they are quite classic and timeless in terms of their dressing. You know - the taitai look? When really it's just bling-classic bordering slightly vulgar. (think: J Lo)

I go for understated classic - comfortable, timeless and sexy (not overtly but confidently). Afterall, you should always look up to how CEOs wives dress right? And if you mum's a CEO wife, even better. Just how your mum would dress. That's a yummy mummy for you.

Let me give you an example (starting from head to toe):

  • Chanel diamante sunglasses vs Oliviers People/Celine sunglasses
  • Dior T-shirt vs Asprey cashmere tank
  • Dolce & Gabbana jacket vs Asprey cashmere cardigan (twinset)
  • Chloe Paddington vs Celine boogie/Hermes Birkin/Tods tote/any Loewe bag
  • Mixture of fake and real jewellery (the more the merrier) vs the real stuff (preferably diamonds and pearls only)
  • Jimmy Choos vs Sergio Rossis
Enough said. Wished I had a picture.

Words that mean something to me
taitai - lady of leisure in Cantonese. But conjures an image of ornate looking, too posh for hands-on raising of their OWN children, does not do ANY cooking and often has a cheating husband.
yummy mummy - lady of leisure too! But is a modern hands-on mummy, stylish and quirky. Often runs her own business, actively involved in the community and cares about the food she feeds her family. Is always sexy and confident too...haha

18 August 2006

Really nice vs Properly nice (OR RATHER - REALLY VS PROPERLY)

Have you ever used these phrases before? I suppose "really nice" is probably quite commonly used. Generally to describe a person you know/have just met, parties, restaurants that was well, nice and pleasant. But "properly nice" is somewhat less common but I use it nonetheless.

I was queried last night about the difference between "really nice" and "properly nice". I guess it's a really subtle difference? But I gave MHK L an example that he thought was very fitting. In all honesty, both terms have positive intendment and are in no way meant to be antithesis or used as substitutive adjectives.

However it got me thinking: why did I feel the need to be euphemistic? Is it a social ill? (Americanism) Am I just conforming to the modern society I live in today?

The pressures of creating an ideal world (coupled with the perfectionist in me) in this day and age has got us rejecting ALL negative vocabulary/imperfect fruit (see supermarket spec to their suppliers)/the proliferation of IBanking analysts (the pitchbooks have to be perfect)/A* at GCSEs etc etc.

But without the ugly, how can we define the beautiful? Without the bad,how do you know what is REALLY good? (vs PROPERLY good...haha)

OR maybe, just maybe, it's due to the fact that I've (and it's only just moi) allowed my mind to go back in time (Anglo-Saxonised- see the meaning of "nice" in Middle English below) and decided that it's much nicer (no pun intended) to live in the past we've left behind.

The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Ed. states:

nice adj. nic·er, nic·est

  • Pleasing and agreeable in nature: had a nice time.
  • Having a pleasant or attractive appearance: a nice dress; a nice face.
  • Exhibiting courtesy and politeness: a nice gesture.
  • Of good character and reputation; respectable.
  • Overdelicate or fastidious; fussy.
  • Showing or requiring great precision or sensitive discernment; subtle: a nice distinction; a nice sense of style.
  • Done with delicacy and skill: a nice bit of craft.
  • Used as an intensive with and: nice and warm.
  • Obsolete.

[Middle English, foolish, from Old French, from Latin nescius, ignorant, from nescre, to be ignorant. See nescience.]
nicely adv. niceness n.
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Words that mean something to me
Americanism - to be like the GAP store salesperson in NYC. Or that American tourist you meet in Florence by the Duomo, in Harrods, London and pretty much everywhere else in London.
Anglo-Saxonised - the use of the English language in a Peter Bowler way. Witty, English humour style.

16 August 2006

The best char siew ever...and kindly verified by my downstairs neighbour

That piece of char siew-quality meat I got from Borough Market? Well it was finally turned into char siew last night.
This involved marinating the meat for 24 hours (turning once over at the 12th hour) and a 40- minute wait later, the aromas of freshly roasted char siew engulfed the whole of my kitchen and my tiny flat. And that was already 9pm last night, but it was worth the wait.

I took the meat out of the oven, resisted picking on that divine culinary piece of artwork (resting time babes!) and figured it was a sin not to share this joy with someone.

However, given that my charsiew-loving friends are nowhere to be found (Tango's in HK, MHK L's not going to be home THAT night(woah!), DK's in loveland etc etc) I called my ever-reliable and loyal (to my culinary experiments) downstairs neighbour J to experience the "high" from char siew-eating.

1kg of ribeye pork - that's what we devoured over the course of an hour in the gallery of my kitchen, standing right in front of the oven that the char siew came out from, eating right from the roasting tray...did not even bother plating it up or slicing it...haha
Nothing was needed to accompany the charsiew - it was just good on its own. ALL we did was cut the char siew up into bits and just chomped along.

Life's good again...IF YOU HAVE GOOD CHAR SIEW.

To spread the goodwill, I've included my charsiew recipe. Friends: make sure your gfs can replicate this feat k?


  • 1 kg rib eye pork - this is called "mui far yok" in your Chinese butchers. Or go to Ginger Pig in Borough Market and ask for the fatty fillet.
  • 5 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee Charsiew sauce - as marinate
  • 25ml Shaoxing wine
  • 50ml Glenfiddich whiskey - this is the secret ingredient
  • Heather honey for sweetness and finished glazing
  • White pepper


  • Cut the 1kg pork into two long 1 1/2 "strips (char siew shape) if too large a piece
  • Mix all marinate ingredients (whiskey,wine,sauce and pepper) with the pork and leave covered in the fridge for 24 hours, turning round once at the 12th hour
  • Set oven temperature to 170 degree celcius
  • Line roasting tin with heavy duty foil, place marinated meat onto tin and roast for 30 minutes in middle shelf. Do coat the meat with half of the marinate that was used.
  • Remove from oven and baste with remaining marinate. Also baste with 2 tablespoons of honey to get the "char" quality. Roast for an additional 10 minutes at 180.
  • Remove from oven and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes
  • Plate up and eat!!!! Only needs to have fluffy thai fragrant rice if you really want a complete meal.

13 August 2006

The delights of temping

I decided last week over a phone conversation with the recruitment agency (she called me at 9am on a Monday) that I will take on a temping job as a PA in a Private Bank for 2 weeks. Temping - an entirely different world to what I've been used to in the past 4 years. The pay's OKAY. I mean the girl's got to pay for her food and shopping right?

However, what I've learnt is the following:

  • It's great to be working as a PA IF you know that it's not your job FOR LIFE as a PA
  • St. James Street as your workplace is detrimental to your purse - I spent my week's wages in advance in the first lunch break! HAHA
  • Work that requires so little brain-power and actually pays you to do minimal work is fab. BUT 2 weeks is probably the most I can be bothered with - really.
  • I now truly understand the phrase: "It's just a job"
  • Timesheets/hourly wages/faxes/binding machines....
  • Also, never work for someone that feels threatened of your presence. Even if it's just for 2 weeks.
  • Fortnum & Masons do nice chocs. Aspreys make fab clothing and Celine - pretty bags!

Again I am reminded of how blessed I am to be in the position to do this job with relative ease and that the money I earn is not for making ends meet but rather, is just extra shopping money! Keeps me grounded really! Lalalalala.....

06 August 2006

Fruitstock : Woodstock

Another year, another glorious summer... That's what Fruitstock is about and that is what London is to me.

I fall in love with London ALL over again when it comes to summer. The annual free festival "Fruitstock marks the pinnacle of MY summer in London.
It almost seems like that's when I renew my vows to this wonderful city. It reminds me why I love it so much, what life is about really - good company, friends, glorious weather, quirky people, great food, good music and all things innocent and nice!

This year's no exception. Especially since I had a cracking time with "Horn Hou Cheung" and his other half discussing the selling points of a Black and White and how we can create the most "in" drink of the Chinese partying community in London. Never be without a Black and White! Haha... flippant talk is always good.

And as with all happy times, the day ended prematurely with the rumble of JK's tummy calling for a proper dinner despite having been eating for the past 3 hours at Fruitstock. He claims the waft from the barbecue stall has activated the gastric glands in his tummy causing what we call "wai sek" (JK's claims its hunger). But having said that, it was almost 9pm so maybe it is time for dinner! Sigh...the long summer days do mess up eating times quite badly.

And where did we head off to?Chinatown! Again, it's just that one other factor that makes London quite so desirable to me really. Mayflower - voted by moi as the best Chinese in Chinatown. We had the Shaoxing steamed crab with rice vermicelli "nam yu" pork chops and garlic stems with lily bulb and squid cake. Yummy! That's what we call life...

It's just one of those days that seem to make London quite so appealing and that's exactly why I miss London when I'm back home!

Words that mean something to me
Black and White - a shot glass worth of "dao fu far" and "chee mah wu". It's going to be big!!!

04 August 2006

I did not go to El Pirata and all I got was this...

Using what I had bought from Borough Market and as a feeble attempt to cut down on my expenses, I unexpectedly cooked myself the best meal of the week!

The salad was inspired by what Leons served me at Keen M's flat (one of those days...) last week and the steak - what can I say? All you need is a good piece of meat and a decent griddle pan.

It's so good I'm sharing the recipe with you:


  • Good rump steak - the best your money can buy
  • Spinach salad leaves
  • Ripe tomatoes, preferably roma
  • Serrano ham - tiny shavings. Its expensive
  • Half a clove of raw garlic - for the salad; just a tiny grate
  • Extra virgin olive oil - dress salad
  • Balsamic vinegar - dress salad. Again I am talking Modena Balsamic Vinegar
  • Seasoning - lots on the steak, to taste for the salad

Griddle well-seasoned steak to preferred doneness (I go for medium rare) and leave to rest for 15 minutes (this is imperative and really helps bring our the best in your steak. BE PATIENT!). Assemble salad. Eat.

Contraindicated to share with anyone else - best for times of selfishness.

The Driving Theory Test Day

When you are actually not working, it's funny how time seems to pass so quickly.
Wake up, check email, have a coffee, MSN May Yee, check more email.
Logon to Bloomberg, scan through the dailies, Theresa MSNs and says we'll catch up over coffee. Then Boom! Its 12noon. Time to head off to Borough Market for lunch.

AS I'm attempting to step out of my flat, O&DK says they might see me there! Oui!

O&DK - such a lovely couple. O's the cool one (the one that wears the pants she says) and DK despite his playboy appearances, is actually quite a sensible and grounded person. It's nice to just hang out with like-minded people and really live the life of The Blessed One.

O & moi shopped around for her rabbit diet and I sat her down in one of my regular cafes and just chatted about how lucky we actually are to be able to lead this leisurely life of ours. We discovered if we were prescribed retail therapy by Dr DK, it'd be quite disasterous on his pocket and mine!
And also O & moi are really close to our family! It's warming to be meeting new people that still value the family as a important social unit. Sadly, this is evanescent in our modern society we live in...maybe that's why the both of us do actually click.

3ish I hopped off to Holyrood St to complete the most important task of my week - the Driving Theory Test. And as with all tests, big/small, important/unimportant, butterflies abound in my tummy.

Back to Borough Market and as I've got a no-show sms from T, I decided maybe some food shopping at The Ginger Pig will not harm. I bought the most amazing piece of ribeye pork ("char siew" quality) and was immmediately salivating: thinking about the char siew that I can make out of that beautiful piece of meat. And bought some pork ribs, chicken frames and some rump steaks. I promised the butcher I'll bring him some of my char siew if it's any good.

Also picked up some salad leaves and Serrano Ham from Brindisa for tonight's dinner (I'm trying to cut down on my expenses so giving El Pirata a miss today).
Life's never been so good...I'm not going to fancy restaurants but I'm happy.

On my way home, and in fact throughout the day, the question that T posed to me on MSN kept coming back to "haunt" me. Can I actually give up the Past life? Is that what I actually want? T's doubtful and thinks otherwise.

I must say: I'm not sure at all.

BUT what I know is that I'm a much happier person, I'm taking miniscule steps to move outside of my comfort zone (O: an irrational deed a day, keeps cynicism at bay) and trying to lead the simple life again.(not Paris Hilton way of course!)

Words that mean something to me
Borough Market - somewhere I always wanted to shop regularly but due to mad working hours and unfulfilling Saturdays of the past life, never quite got round to doing so. I'm now frantically making up for lost time.

Past life - the lifestyle I've chosen to leave behind.