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A moment in life #37 - Think Vintage

>> Saturday, June 26, 2010

Vintage Spoons

I love those lovely vintage spoons…

These are not mine. They belong to the lovely Tammi. I spotted those during the balut tasting that a bunch of bloggers had about two months back.

Tammi surely has a beautiful house, cosy and welcoming. What I love the most is the garden, in which she raises chooks for the family. Herbs and seasonal vegetables are thriving also.

For the photo, I’ve played around a little with vintage and old-fashion style. Something different.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I need a lot of catch up sleep after all that World Cup games during the week.


Strawberry forever. Recipe: strawberry chiffon cake

>> Thursday, June 24, 2010

Strawberry Chiffon Cake #3

Where I grew up, we could not grow strawberries.

Living in a tropical country, while we had abundance of mangoes, custard apples, dragon fruits etc., we did not have strawberries. Available every summer were the local mulberry varieties – they were sweet and sour and made excellent cordial.

Then, strawberries appeared in one late summer, around 10 years back, from some farmers in the highland area of the country (Da Lat). My close friend at the time, O., would go crazy for them and I never understood why. Those strawberries were small, not at all luscious.The taste was sour and uninspiring.

It was not until I resided in Australia that I discovered my true love for this fruit. We have strawberries very often in our home. No preparation neccessary. Just simply enjoy the fruits as they are, au naturel. A perfect fruit needs not any prepation (the other one is navel oranges - I'm crazy about them).

Lately though, I kept on thinking about a lovely chiffon cake I made once, ages ago. I remember the flavours very well - fruity with slight yoghurt fragrance although the cake itself is dairy-dree. The cake also has a different texture from normal chiffon cake since real strawberry puree is used here.

The amount of the recipe is originally for a 8-inch tube pan. My chiffon pan is much larger (10-inch), but I was too lazy to adjust the measurement. Hence, a smaller and not as tall cake. Never mind. The cake is so soft and fragrant, something I love.

You can serve it with chocolate sauce. I wanted to enjoy the strawberry goodness, so I served the cake with strawberry compote and some grated chocolate.

Strawberry Chiffon Cake #2

strawberry chiffon cake

Adapted from here. I've increased the amount of strawberry and did not use any artificial flavouring.


5 egg yolks
40 gm. Castor sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt

250 gm. Fresh Strawberries - puree until fine
80 gm. corn oil
3 tsp vanila extract

120 gm. cake flour
1 tsp. Baking powder

5 Egg white
1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
70 gm. Castor sugar


(1) Mix the egg yolks with sugar and stir until well mixed.

(2) Add in cornoil, strawberry puree, vanilla extract and stir till well-mixed. Add in flour and baking powder and stir until smooth .

(3) Beat egg white with cream of tartar and while egg white is beating, pour in sugar gradually and beat till stiff.

(4) Fold egg white with the egg yolk mixture and pour into a greaseless 23 cm or 25 cm tube pan and bake at 175C for about 50 mins.

(5) When cake is done, remove from oven and overturn the cake onto a wire rack until cool. Remove from pan. Serve.

below: a dreamy girlish kind of photo :)

Strawberry Chiffon Cake #1

I'm sending this entry to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is organised by Haalo of Cook almost anything at least once. Our current host is Chris from Mele Cotte.


A moment in life #36

>> Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My life without me

This is you.

Eyes closed,
out in the rain.

You never thought you'd be doing
something like this.

You never saw yourself as,
l don't know
how you'd describe it, as...
like one of those people
who like looking up at the moon,
or who spend hours gazing at
the waves or the sunset or..
l guess you know what kind of people
l'm talking about

My life without me

Maybe you don't
Anyway, you kinda...
you kinda

like it being like this,
fighting the cold
and feeling the water seep
through your shirt
and getting through to your skin.
And the feel of the ground
growing soft beneath your feet

and the smell.

And the sound of the rain
hitting the leaves.

All the things they talk about
in the books that you haven't read.

This is you.

Who would have guessed it?.


{Quote from 'My life without me' screenplay. The movie was good. I like}


IIP - Noodles! Recipe: "Taco" Soba Noodles

>> Sunday, June 20, 2010

Taco Soba

Okay, I am jumping up there, right on the food porn scale with this post!

It’s no gourmet food. But like the instant spicy ramen, this is something I enjoy. Occasionally, but with immense pleasure.

I remember the first time I heard of taco rice from a Japanese girl dressed in sweet Lolita fashion. She was so cute, sweet and different. If you don't know about Lolita fashion, take a look here. For me, back then, it was a strange new world. Those girls seemed so unusual with their look. But talking to them, getting to know them, they were just normal girls who expressed themselves through the way they dressed. A big lesson for myself. You know the saying - "don't judge the book by its cover". It takes time and effort to know a person. Go beyond the surface and there are so much more to learn and appreciate from each other.

That Japanese girl gave me the first taste of Taco Rice - a dish I would classify as 'hungry student's food'. The meat was seasoned simply with the instant taco seasoning, and some other cheap ingredients one could easily pick up from the supermarket. I was skeptical but strangely enough, it was delicious!

Forward to my kitchen, years later. I am no longer an undergrad student, living in shared house. But secretly, when I am by myself, too lazy to cook, taco rice and tuna pasta salad are my friends. Lately, I've toyed with a new idea - taco + noodles = taco noodles. Why not, especially for a noodle addict like myself?

The results? We all loved it - from my sister to Mr. B. We even fought for a share of it the next day. The seasoning was mightily spicy, and it went so well with cheese and sour cream.

So here it is - taco noodles. I'd say try it if you like taco and noodles. :)

Taco Soba


Soba works well here, but I think thin egg noodles or spaghetti can also do the job.
Note: this is a fusion of taco flavours, and bears no resemblance to the actual taco!

Ingredients (s. 4)

Dry soba noodles, about 300-400g, cooked as per instruction

2 tsp oil

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

500g chicken breast fillet, cut into strips (or use beef/turkey mince)

1 package taco seasoning

extra tsp of cumin and cayenne pepper (optional)

Topping: cherry tomatoes (cut in halves), sour cream, shredded lettuce, pickled jalapenos, shredded cheese etc.


+) Cook soba noodles as per package direction. Rinse well but keep warm

+) Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft and slightly golden.

+) Add in the chicken, stir with an wooden spoon until the meat is quite caramelised outside. Now, get your taco seasoning to the mix. Add in extra spices and seasoning as you wish. Mix well. Pour in about a cup of water. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens.

+) Assembling the dish: divide noodles in warm bowls (Put the serving bowls in a low oven for 15 mins). Arrange the topping and laddle the meat and the sauce on top. Serve hot.

Taco Soba


This post is prepared for the International Incident Party hosted by Penny of Jeroxie. Our current theme is NOODLE PARTY! Come to her blog for the list of all participants.

Taco Soba


Ice-cream in winter. Recipe: Spiced quince ice-cream

>> Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quince ice-cream

Another week has almost passed by. So quick, isn’t it?

It’s such a long week for me with late night (World Cup!), deadline and lots of coffee to get by. It’s also the week of typical Melbourne weather – rainy, grey, cold, then sunny with blue sky, all in one day.

Late autumn, early winter is time for quince to appear. Every year until now, I have always slow-poached the fruit and enjoy it with yoghurt and muesli.

This year, I thought something different would be nice. Browsing through Arabsque, a lovely photo came up – quince, stuffed with mince meat. It was a straightforward recipe, with clear instructions from Claudia Roden. It would have been a fabulous dish, if I didn’t messed up the first stage of the process – baking the whole quince in the slow oven. I must have missed out something, but the fruits turned soft so quickly and exploded. No more stuffed quince. *sigh*

So what to do?

I made ice-cream. It was simple – a good basic ice-cream mixture, perfumed with cinnamon and nutmeg, then adding the soft quince mixture. It was creamy and fruity.

Am I crazy to make ice-cream in winter? Certainly not. It’s one of the most deliciously whimsical moments that I love. :)

Quince ice-cream

Spiced Quince ice-cream

Based on the recipe here. You can go ahead and make the crumble mixture like Karen from Cistrus and Candy. It would be a nice touch.

Ice-cream base

500ml pouring cream
250ml milk
2.5 cinnamon quills
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
35g brown sugar


In a pot over medium flame, heat the cream, milk, cinnamon quills and freshly grated nutmeg together to a low boil, while stirring constantly to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom. Once bubbles start to form on the edges of the cream mixture, remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes for it to infuse.

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugars until pale and thickened. While continuously whisking, pour in the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream. Tip the whole mixture back into the pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of the spoon thickly.

Strain into a container and cool completely, overnight in the fridge.

The Quince mixture

2 medium size quince
A bit of honey


Wash the quinces, then bake in a preheated oven (180C) for about an hour or more until the fruit is soft. Cool, peel, scoop the flesh out (remove the seeds) and mix with some honey. If you are after smooth ice-cream, pass the cooked quince through a sieve to remove the fibre.

To assemble ice cream

Strain the chilled cream mixture into your ice cream machine and churn according to your manufacturer's instructions. When ready and thick, spoon the ice cream out into a container and add the quince mixture. Mix through the ice cream loosely. Freeze.

(When serving the ice-cream, it's best to bring the container out of the freezer for 10 mins to soften the ice-cream a little. I sprinkle my ice-cream with lots of pistachio)

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I'm sending this entry to Weekend Herb Blogging #239, hosted by Rachel from The Crispy Cook. Information on WHB can be found here.


Delicious Vietnam #3 Announcement

>> Tuesday, June 15, 2010

For those who had the Queen Birthday holiday, hope you had a fab long weekend. {It’s freezing getting back to work, but it’s still okay. Except what was wrong Italy?!?!}

Anyway, back to the main topic. The roundup of Delicious Vietnam #2 {June edition} is up. We had a lot of delicious entry, so head to this post to savour all of them! Thanks to our host and all the participants!

Now, onto Delicious Vietnam #3, please welcome our hosts, Anne and Mike of Budda Bellies

To participate to Delicious Vietnam, it’s simple.

If you are new to Delicious Vietnam, here’s a summary of the event along side with some rules and recap of past edition.

You have until the second Sunday of July (US time) to post about anything related to Vietnamese cuisine – recipes, food writing, review or reflection.

In your post, please include the phrase “Delicious Vietnam #3” with the link to your host.

Please submit to your post by the deadline July 11th 2010, which is:
+) 12 noon, Monday, 12 July 2010 – Melbourne (Australia) time
+) 7 pm, Sunday, 11 July 2010 – Los Angeles time
+) 9am, Monday, 12 July 2010 – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city time
+) To convert the date and time to your part of the world, click here.

Send your entries to
buddhabelliespdx [at]

with Delicious Vietnam #3 in the subject with the following details:

• Your Name
• Your Blog Name/URL
• Your Post URL
• Your Location
• A photo (optional): 300px wide

Looking forward to next month round up!


Late Autumn Rhyme. Recipe: Nut and Dried Fruit Cake

>> Sunday, June 06, 2010

This year autumn has been wet and gray. But these moments of sunshine were not lost. How I just love a warm autumn day, filled with sunshine and golden leaves...

The autumn leave...

Also, the quieter moments when household chores are kind of finished, and the other obligations can be safely ignored. Just me, and a good book. Bliss.

Ingredients for happiness #1

In the kitchen, soup and stew are making their regular appearance. Among the favourites are sweet corn chowder, cream of chicken (without the cream), roast pumpkin soup and the dainty savory mochi dumpling soup. Oh, did I also mention that I love the hearty barley and vegetable soup, simmered slowly in the slow cooker?

In the sweet department, simple cakes are the stars. We have occasionally enjoyed whole orange syrup cake, banana bread, yoghurt pudding (from lemonpi). That’s quite a lot, isn’t it? Thankfully, we have friends to share the sugar high dosage with.

A lot of the dishes I make these days won’t make it to the blog. Sometimes a quieter enjoyment of a dish without the fuss of styling and photographing is desired.

Nut and Dried Fruit Cake

But this cake is something worth mentioning. It’s so easy to whip up from ingredients in the pantry. Dried fruits and nuts of choice, it is the ultimate ‘power slice’. What can I say? She, Alice Medrich, never disappoints.

A few more words about a favourite ingredient, Brazilian nuts. They are so versatile, and I like them much better than walnuts in cake recipes. With almonds and pistachios, Brazilian nuts have become a staple ingredients in my pantry. They are so good in pesto and only cost a fraction of the price of pine nuts.

Nut and Dried Fruit Cake

The amount of flour is minimum here, and it’s beautiful. I like to use whole-wheat spelt flour for this loaf. The cake is dairy-free.

Adapted from “Pure Dessert”

3/4 cup whole wheat spelt flour (or all purpose flour)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinammon powder

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup dried apricots, cut in thirds
2 cup quartered moist dates
3 cups Brazilian nuts, coarsly chopped
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 160C. Spray the loaf tin with veg oil spray. Line bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, sugar, cinammon powder, dried fruits and nuts. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla until light. Pour the egg mixture over the dried ingredients, mix well but avoid over mixing. Scrap into the prepared pan.

Bake until the top is golden brown, around 1 hour or so. Cover the loaf with foil if the top is browning too much. Cool in the pan.

The cake keeps at room temperature for several weeks.

Nut and Dried Fruit Cake


I’m sending this cake to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by the lovely Simona from Briciole. For your information on WHB, visit Haalo from Cook almost anything at least once.


Delicious Vietnam #2 – Savory mochi dumplings in light broth (súp bánh ít)

>> Tuesday, June 01, 2010

For the second edition of Delicious Vietnam, I’ll take an unusual approach to re-interpret one Viet dish – Bánh ít (savory mochi dumplings)

Savory mochi dumplings in light broth (sup banh troi man)

So first off, what is “bánh ít”? It is one of those dishes that fall into the “dumpling” category of Vietnamese cooking. The outer dough is made of glutinous rice flour. The filling has mince meat, prawns, mashed mung beans and onion.

In Hue, where this dumpling was christened, the making of “bánh ít” requires a lot of attention and details. I once saw a documentary on Hue imperial style cooking and it showed the whole preparation process. Typically, each dumpling was wrapped carefully with banana leaves. After cooking and cooling, this layer of leaves was removed, and a new layer was applied to achieve that ever-green and fresh presentation. So much effort in preparing a feast for the King, huh?

Nowadays, in the modern kitchen, we don’t really use banana leaves. Thus, the name “bánh ít trần”, aka “naked dumplings”, was born. They are certainly tasty even though the whole detailed presentation is lost. We like our banh it tran with spring onion mixture.

Savory mochi dumplings in light broth (sup banh troi man)

My interpretation…

Lately the weather has not been too kind. Cold, windy and grey. I’ve been craving for some hot and steamy soup. Not exactly the thick or rustic soup, but something more elegant like a flavorful clear chicken broth… Having tasted such awesome chicken broth made by Ms Baklover, I know I have to make some.

Pairing savory mochi dumplings with the soup is a fun idea. I quite like the texture of glutinous rice wrapping – it’s sticky, a bit chewier than the normal kinds. Enclosed inside is the usual suspects – minced chicken meat, mixed with the sweetness of the diced prawns, the peppery spicy note from white peppers and that familiar aroma of spring onion. Seasoning is simple – good fish sauce, and perhaps a tiny bit of chicken powder. I have purposely left out the mung bean, since it does feel a bit heavy on the palate. But the star is the broth – And I cannot recommend this recipe enough. Just sprinkle some chopped spring onion and serve the soup hot. It’s heavenly on a cold rainy day.

(it may be good as a lovely late night snack for the coming World Cup season since most things can be prepared before hand and reheat. The mochi balls keep well for at least a day)

Savory mochi dumplings in light broth (sup banh troi man)

Savory mochi dumplings in light broth

Enough for 4 servings as entrée. The amount of broth from here might be more than needed. Just freeze it for later. Make sure to let the dough rest. Be gentle when wrapping the filling.

The dough
200g glutinous rice flour
1 cup warm water, approximately
2tsp sea salt

The filling
100g minced meat
50g prawn meat, finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely chopped
White pepper, fish sauce, and salt to taste

1 quantity of light chicken broth, recipe here

To serve: 1-2 Shanghai bokchoy, clean.

Prepare the chicken broth beforehand.

Make the dough– Put glutinous rice flour in a bowl with some salt. Slowly pour in the warm water, mix to combine. Add enough water and adjust the amount of rice until a dough is form and it doesn’t feel too sticky. Knead lightly, then let the dough rest in a covered bowl for at least 30-40 mins,

Prepare the filling - mix all the ingredients together. Knead briefly until everything comes together. Set aside.

Making the mochi balls: pinch a piece of dough (about the size of table tennis balls), flatten it using your hands, put some filling in the center. Gently enclosed the filling, roll the dough lightly to get a round shape. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Make sure to cover the dough and the balls properly to prevent them from drying out.

Boil a large pot of water, add some salt. Prepare another bowl of cold water. When the water in the pot is boiled, add in several mochi balls, and let boil gently. The balls are cooked when they float to the surface. Take out with a slotted spoon and immediately refresh them in the bowl of cold water (to prevent them from sticking together). Finally, put in a separate bowl and keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the mochi balls.

Prepare the broth: Let the broth simmer for a little, briefly cook Shanghai bokchoy. Taste and adjust seasoning.

To serve, put some mochi balls in a bowl together with the Shanghai bokchoy. Ladle the hot soup over the dumplings. Serve hot, with extra sprinkle of pepper.

You still have time for Delicious Vietnam #2, hosted by Ravenous Couple. The details can be found here. Hopefully more of you can join the fun. :)

Inspirations needed? Here is the roundup of Delicious Vietnam #1!

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