16 December 2012

Ariosto Roast Potatoes - Out of the slump

More than 3 months ago, my 10 year old oven was put to rest. It is a tale as old as time, how my journey as a baker begun with this metal box.

You may wonder why it took me 3 months to purchase an oven. And I will disappoint you with this. Laziness. Baking became a habit, almost an obligation. Week by week, baking was pushed to the back of my head. Week by week, packets of butter remained untouched. Then, it striked me, why was i baking.

I believe every baker has asked themselves this very same question a hundred times and ends up with a hundred different answers. And even now, I do not yet have an answer I am proud enough to announce. However, one rainy day, i decided to purchase the best oven there is to select from.
Along with it, I decide to not commit. I decide to bake as I please. Afterall, life, it goes on.

This was long overdue to Ariosto Spa BuccinascoAriosto was nice enough to send some of their samples to me so i would write a post for them about horse years ago. The lady was nice enough to not push me for this post and has commented that their best seasonings are roast potatoes and roast chicken.  Many bloggers have used their products, for example, The Novice Housewife and Angies Recipes. So why not?

1 kg baby potatoes (unpeeled and cut in halves)
1 packet roast potato Ariosto seasonings
olive oil to coat
3 tbsp honey
6 cloves of garlic (unpeeled and crushed)
corriander (finely chopped)

1. Combine all the ingredients together.
2. Lay out on a baking sheet and bake at 200C for 60-80 minutes, turning every 20 minutes. Or you may roast the potatoes on a grilling pan with butter until caramelised and crisp.
3. Serve while warm.
miss me?

28 August 2012

Cheese Loaf Bread - Birthday Post

You might be wondering. A bread for birthday? No, we had cakes but i baked bread and there were birthdays.

25th & 26th were both my girlfriends' birthdays. They are my special people and that's all needed to be said. So happy birthday, you two. After knowing you for 20 years, I believe i'll still strive my best to give you a surprise birthday!
I took the recipe from Clockwork Lemon (a recipe I have wanted to try for so long), used Cheese instead and voila.

18 August 2012

Milo Pound Brownie Cake

"You're almost there. 2.8km", the board writes.
We glanced at one another amongst our group, as if a ritual before the war. It wasn't a question, really, nor a suggestion. We knew we had to start running. 
From our relaxed attitude, it was obvious this wasn't our first run. Run the first 0.2km, then, run the last 0.4km and run whenever a teacher is at sight. Those were the rules. And from experience, be aware that a teacher jogs along with the very last runner.

But here's the catch. At the end of the 3.2km race, you'd be offered a cold cup of Milo and a long queue to the loo.
This was how Milo came into a hormonal-pimpled-rebelious-teenager's life who now has owwies in her teeth because she sleeps with a spoonful of milo-slash-nutella in her mouth.
The name is Milo. I am beautiful chocolate and ovaltine malty made better. I taste best when half-sticky or coating the surface of cold milk.

04 August 2012

Pandan Kaya Bread Pudding

You see, when you start working, everything becomes a little harder to get through. Especially for a boring person such as myself. 

So you fatten yourself up, preparing for the long hibernation we call "Holiday". Holidays for me (reminder: boring person) is to sleep, eat mac & cheese, occasionally dragged out of the room for hygiene purposes and movies. Oh, and of course popcorns. 
I would of course refuse to get my hands on baking, with a determination equal to that of an addicted hippie holding a roll of weed swearing to quit after one last round.

Unfortunately, no, I do not smoke weed because I'm a boring person.

25 July 2012

Chocolate Banana Muffin

This early morning, as my sister woke wearily from her bed and I have finally readied my face for public scrutiny, I said to her 
"I'm growing an afro."
A look of annoyance, then... a cold shoulder. 
"Really!! Look!!" 
Tucking my head as low as possible, I shoved the crown of my head to her face. Popping out, was a twirling little...you know, hair.
My sister isn't the type to wake up happy, or nice, or you know... kind. Despite the strand of hair celebrating its ridiculous number of twirls, conquering the crown of my head, announcing the possibility of an afro in the coming of my adulthood, not a creak of smile wavered from the tip of my sister's lips. 

At this point, convincing her of my afro mutation was futile. I plan to try it out during her birthday when she is in a better mood. The possibilities are slim, nevertheless, I'm not one to give up easily. 
"Good luck"
she is not humored.

15 July 2012

Tres Leche Cake - Birthday Post

Dear 30-year-old me,
In the afternoons that you think back about me (hopefully a girl less awkward than you are now), what will you recall? Will you remember the times you tried using "the force" and was caught focusing to move a piece of paper? Or will you recall the time when 5 horses had to wait whilst you negotiate with Ms Celestine to stop eating the grass?

You've been through a lot, Ms 30-year-old. Mostly, involving moments you wish you had wiser judgement, better yet, you wish you had MIB's neuralyzer. You also wish that your friends had informed you about laughing like a black boar gasping for air. Or pulling off a green afro or cat ears.
However, Ms 30-year-old, these awkward moments are moments you should cherish. They are the moments you are at ease, moments you let go of your guard and moments when you are truest to yourself. You share these moments with people who won't leave you despite your "reasonable" nature or your 3 layers of tummy fat.

Then, there are other moments. These are the moments you regret. They are moments when you lie to yourself (convincing yourself that 3 slices of cake is rational). Moments you sacrifice others for yourself. These are moments you should have to pay for but you were let off with kindness. These are the moments to guide you. 

08 July 2012

Guest Post: Mrs Ferguson

One of the things I look forward to, aside from coffee and new bedsheets, would be e-mails. One in particular is Mrs Ferguson's. I remember that picture of a Carrot Bundt Cake, I was charmed. Her unique photography style leaves you wanting more and turns you into a stalker. Her creativity keeps you at your toes, reminding you of human evolution. Please take a look at her Gotye Duck (I want this as a hairpin and possibly everything else around me). 

Unfortunately, that's not all there is to Mrs F. Talent is but only a small part of her you're going to adore. With Mrs F, subjects range from Sherlock Holmes to the extinction of ants. Describing her as "Interesting" is an understatement. A ball of wit, no, a gem of inspiration.

Keeping her all to myself is anything but selfish. However, for the greater good of the world, I shall introduce her to you. Please do visit her blog here

Hello there. My name is Diana and I run the blog Mrs Ferguson. I love everything crafty and sweet and funny. I live in Budapest, Hungary and I'm the proud owner of two adorable adopted animals, Theodore the ginger cat and Macesz the derpest dog ever. I started the blog because I was inspired by all those amazing things I saw on Pinterest and such, and wanted to be part of this family. I know I'm a very small fish - which I told Jesi when she asked me to do this guest post, but she wanted to do it anyway -, but I've had some amazing experiences already, and even if for nothing else, but getting to know this lovely, crazy duck-hating lady was well worth it.
Oh, and I AM the cheekiest monkey of all.
J: So, why "Mrs Ferguson"? Can't believe I've never asked this.
D: I'd like to think it's kind of a homage to Craig Ferguson and Stephen Fry rather than just plain stalking. :) I love their wit and intelligence. And I adore the fact that though highly sophisticated and smart, they still find fart jokes funny.The short answer would be: I have a creepy old man crush on Craig Ferguson. Plus Fluffy the Unicorn was already taken.

J: We all have got one of those (Hugh Laurie here). Speaking of which, if you end up a big shot hollywood photographer, what would you work on?
D: I don't know if anyone ever did something like this, but I would really like to see a campaign featuring celebrities without any enhancement. No make-up, no hair extensions, no photoshop, in a simple white tshirt and jeans. I love spontaneous photos and minimalistic style, too. And animals. 
J: This is actually an awesome idea, but scary...
D: Can you imagine Lady Gaga in jeans, chucks and a white tank top with her natural hair in a ponytail? Such a perverted image.

J: (Laughs) Imaging Desperate Housewives crew and Sex and the city ladies.
J: How did you recognize your talent in crafting and photographing?
D: You're just too nice, people will be dissapointed if they come to check out my blog. :D I don't know, there hasn't really been a big milestone or anything. I've always loved photography, I used to waste a lot of rolls of film when I was little running around our garden taking pictures of snails on the concrete. Plus my paternal grandfather who died long before I was born was also a big photography aficionado so I inherited many photos and old cameras from him. Maybe not having a chance to actually know him made me interested in the things he liked. He was crafty, too. And I always loved the little craft projects in kindergarten and elementary. 

J: What about baking?
D: For the baking... I guess loving to eat up all things sweet gave me a big push. :) But I think for me it started the other way around. First I got interested in food photography which led me to the preparing part. Plus the cooking channel.
J: Yes! The cooking channels, your other creepy crush for Jamie Oliver.
D: Come on! He's awesome! And those baby blue eyes..

J: (Laughs) I prefer green after all.. What about your humour and wit?
D: For the humour...I guess I was just born this way.:D I remember when I was about 12 or so I used the watch a taped show on VHS of a Hungarian late comedian, G√ąza Hofi, almost every afternoon after school. He was intelligent, wise and piss-your-pants funny. 
J: I was watching Mr. men everyday.. Do you ever get in trouble with that humour?
D: Hmm... I won't say trouble, but sometimes after I say something sarcastic and people don't get it I just end up looking like an idiot. 

J: I feel your pain.. I feel you... sobs* It gets lonely when they don't get your jokes.. Whats your inspiration?
D: Everything. A photograph. A song. A good movie or a TV show. Nature. The Internet. A crack in the pavement. Anything. 
J: Such an artist... I would love to see through your eyes just for one day... 

05 July 2012

Strawberry Custard Tart

They're either people you'd love or people you'd hold a grudge with. 

I went to a reputable saloon a few nights ago. I was excited. I was anxious. After directing the lady very specifically, she began prepping my hair. And that moment her hands touched my hair, I apologized to my previous hairdresser.

As she combed pulled my hair like you would to feathers of a chicken, ignoring the constant clicks of my impatient tongue, I knew I was in deep mumbo jumbo.

Then the first cut.
I stared at the mirror.
(scissors snapped) "Wait a second." 
(scissors snapped) "No.. no.. That wasn't 2 inches."
I sit there, my hair as a hostage. As the scissors continued its path of destruction, from the corner of my eye, on the floor, lay my hair 4 maybe 5 inches long. 
(scissors snapped) "you..."
(scissors snapped) "you..."
(scissors snapped) "F*ck you bitch!!!"
"F*ck.... (scissors snapped) you..."

28 June 2012

Grapes Marbled Pound Cake for 2

Are you timid?
I often brag about my bravery. At the age of 6, I held a big white snake around my shoulders. At the age of 8, I was in a cage with a mother tiger and its cubs.

I often brag about these conquests. However, the fact that I was crying whilst barely touching the snake and the fact that it took 3 zookeepers to calm me down was hardly discussed.

Yes, unfortunately, I am timid. The first time I discovered that cockroaches can fly, after a second of cursing, I dropped down to the floor and played dead. Realising they also have the ability to sense fear from their prey, I flapped my hands in an attempt to camouflage, ran under a table and held my breath.

23 June 2012

Guest Post: Chic & Gorgeous Treats

Disclaimer: All Pictures and recipes in this post are by Joanna from Chic Gorgeous.
Jo from Chic & Gorgeous Treats is here for our very first guest post! 

One of the first blogs I followed when I started blogging was Chic & Gorgeous Treats. After I found her Amanda's Pink Rainbow Cake, it was a one-sided admiration. And her recent Earl Grey ice Cream post changed this admiration to jealousy. Thus, the post was dedicated to me (coughs*).

Through our exchange of emails where I feel like the pauper and she's the queen, we realized our equal love for baking. We talked about food for hours and after several rounds of begging, I was promised 100 Jo-baked-cookies each month for immunity fees. Please do visit her site for some awesomeness!
Hi there fellow Pencil & Skirt peeps! Gosh, I am lost for words at the moment..LOL. That's usually not the case as Jes and my other friends can assure you that I am a chatty person in life. Right now, I suddenly feel like a sense of pressure on my shoulders. That's maybe because I am trying to win some hearts here too.. [I'm only joking!] I think it's best I share with you how I feel, since it's only appropriate, you know just like the Oscars? To be honest, I am thrilled and feel really honoured that Jes asked me to guest blog for her. Plus I am No# 1..yeayy!!! Not to mention she "loves" my treats over at my blog [You do right Jes?..coughs]. So that says a lot and sure got to mean something right? I have to say after getting to know her, I felt like I found another fellow new buddy. We both are so deeply passionate about baking that it isn't funny one bit. Who knows? We might collaborate and work on bigger projects one day. To kick start the guest posting on her blog, I have decided to make a simple decadent light and healthy treat. Perfect to kick off those hot sunny days and quench the thirst. Hope that you will enjoy it as I much I did preparing these Raspberry Lemonade Yogurt pops for you. If only I could hand out to you all for samplling.. I would ;). ENJOY and do pop over to Chic & Gorgeous Treats to give me a holler. Cheers~
Me: How did you realize your love for baking?
Jo: This is a good question. When I was back in high-school, we had Home Economics as one of our subjects. We had to cook and of course baking was involved. I can still remember that very day. We attempted to bake Chocolate Cake. Guess what, my baking failed. The cake came out hard as rock. 
(nods) I feel you, sista'. My first cake was used as punishment "if you lose the game, you have to eat".
I will let you in on a secret. "We actually used instant cake mix". Now, not sure where it went wrong, but I swore then that I will never bake again. 
Kind of like the time I swore "I will never eat m&ms again". 
So how'd you start baking again.
It started maybe around 4 years ago, when I used to throw my friends parties and had cookout sessions. 
I always love to end the meal with something sweet and delectable. That's when I started to get my hands dirty and give it another shot in baking. Of course there were flops, but somehow I persevered and continue to experiment. The more I practice, the better I became in a way.
(relieved) I'd thought God was unfair and made you a genius.
So here I am, obsessed with making sweet treats, and continue to strive to do better. 
What's your goal?
My aim is to become a pro in cake decorating and continue to make really good old classic cakes. Hopefully that dream will come true.
Talking about Classics, what's your most unbelievable fetish when it comes to baking?
I am not sure if I have a fetish in baking. Does making anything pink counts? Or any sweet pastel colour counts? I suppose in terms of fetish in baking, I really love the colour PINK, shabby chic, and glamorous designs. To be honest, I am pretty anal (laughs at word "anal"), I like to have everything I make in perfection.. So I tend to dream of designs, which I never seem to follow anyways as it tends to be dependent on how I feel that day.(laughs)
Ah yes, the good old mister-mood
What would you hate to happen whilst baking?
The thing I fear most, is when the cake falls apart while transferring from the cooling rack to a cake base. 
(shudders) We all hate that..
Maybe I am not gentle enough.. or maybe because the cake was too moist.. Also the humidity that constantly ruins the frosting. It just makes it harder to pipe designs on our cake. Which means I will have to constantly work with the air-condition on in order to bring down the level of humidity.
Precisely! Thank you, Asia!
Okay, lastly, how do you deal with harsh criticisms, if you have any.

I think everyone will have their own opinions. So the best is just learn to let go and take it with a pinch of salt. I am no saint and it isn't always easy to just laugh it off. But it's part of our life growth. However, I stay by this motto as much I can "If you have nothing nice to say, best to hold in peace"
That's what a saint will say, Jo. For me, its "Let me at em, just let me at em!"

17 June 2012

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lying awake, tossing and turning, I realised. I missed baking. With my most trusted apparatus I was born holding, my wooden spoon, I decided it was time for a cookie recipe to succeed.

My long-awaited desire to try recipes by Russell from Chasing Delicious was well rewarded. Thus, announcing my victory against the cookie army. 

Yes!! I won you little pieces of cunning devils.

27 May 2012

Grapes Breakfast Cake

Back when I was studying, my cousin had a habit of cooking up snacks to prep me for my exams. Then, she would knock on my door (occasionally shocked to see the state of my well-being) and wish me "all the best". Hours later, as I walk out the exam hall, I would receive an enthusiastic message from her asking how i did.
As time goes, I started to miss these little things. So, I'll be passing on this sweet habit to all of you.

This cake is a tribute to examinees, particularly those who are "winging" it and those who are caught dancing to Billy Jean with a neon colored head band and drum sticks made of crumpled lecture notes (definitely not me).

Its a simple Breakfast cake. Not too sweet or sour, not too dense or light. Perfect for exams and fricking delicious.

22 May 2012

Bread And Butter Pudding

Amongst the lines of family visits and many more dinners, I managed to wiggle into my tiny skirt which isn't tiny at all (They're a tad smaller than those required to fit The Hulk). After jumping, rolling and with the help of holding my breath, I defeated the tiny skirt. This means I could have a whole pot of Bread and Butter pudding to myself. It seemed like a good idea.

Once again, please head on over to Pencil Kitchen's facebook page.
Bread and butter pudding. Its bread spread with butter baked in a smooth soft custard pudding. And for the boozy lovers, a very rum sauce.
And have you had bread butter pudding cold before? Let sit in the fridge overnight and you have yourself a cold dessert for summer.
The original recipe was Nigella Lawson's Croissant Pudding. However, one of my house rules is to never leave a croissant to stale. So I used leftover raisin bread. Raisin breads are originally sweeter than croissants or white breads, so I reduced the sugar by 1 tbsp but the above recipe is for white/wheat breads. And this recipe is by far the best bread butter pudding i've ever had. Not to forget, the very Rum sauce, I assure you, addictive.
Need a new skirt to contain all these awesomeness,

18 May 2012

Milk Tea and Aged Wooden Board

Recently, Blogger has deleted all my pictures. (GASP)
Yes, ALL my pictures. In an instant, all my posts turned into an Alien invaded corn field.
Secondly, I've finally obtained that level of self-destruction and decided that I'm cool enough to create a facebook page. Please go over and like it so I feel loved. Needy, i know.
After the previous wooden board tutorial, I was barely satisfied. I wanted more. I wanted to have an antique feel. I wanted to age the wood. And since aged wood are not very much available for a decent price, I had to faux it.

What you will need:
White Paint
Black Paint
Darker/Lighter shade of Paint to the wooden board color
Brown Paint (suitable shade to the wooden board)
A bristled Paintbrush (Rough brush)
1. After creating your wooden board, what you need is to create shadows or highlights to the board. In this case, a darker shade of the color of board (lighter if your board is dark painted). On about 1/3 area of each plank, paint with the darker/lighter shade. Be random to look natural. Do not paint rectangular shades. 
2. Darken the Edges and corners of each plank This will create a worn-out-in-the-sun look.
3. On the black edges and on areas that will be over used, paint quick white strokes. With a rough bristled paint brush, you can create the natural cracked effect. (Always start with small amounts of paint. You can touch up when its not enough)
4. Lastly, use a brown shade that is suitable for the color of your board (I chose mustard brown for purple) and paint very little areas of the board that will be MOST used. It will give the almost-chipped effect to the board. 

5. Let dry and remember, woods are very forgivable. If it looks horrible right after painting, give it a chance to dry up. It will come together soon enough. 
By "popular" demand, like 4, here are "Milk Tea Sachets". When I checked, I realized most of them are made here in asia. If you see one of these in your local chinese store, purchase it and give it a try. They're delicious. But for homemade milk tea, here's how we have it.

Homemade Milk Tea
1 tea bag (Black Tea preferably)
1 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp Condensed milk (or more if you like it sweet)
1. In boiling water, drop in the tea bag and stir until preferred depth of color (I like it tense).
2. In your preferred mug, pour in the condensed milk then add the hot tea.

Traditionally, the condensed milk is left at the bottom of the mug so that we can choose how much of it we would like to mix into the tea. However, with milk tea sachets, all you need is hot water and some milk if you prefer a more milky taste.
Cookie Pants up,
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