I remember my first encounter with the stately coconut cake. It was my first christmas in the usa. My husband was still alive and well at that time. We sat around the bar in front of my mother in law’s magnificent rockefella center – esque tree. It was brilliant. It towered over me. It must have been at least 15 feet tall. It sparkled and glowed with all its grandiose. It was no humble tree. Despite the blinding lights from the corner of my eye i spotted s simple white cake. It was elegant and luxurious in its simplicity. A true beauty. I soon found out that it was a coconut cake. Sometimes when something looks so perfect on the outside, the inside can sometimes disappoint. Nothing ruins greatness more than the anticipation if greatness. It was good cake. Tender, moist and had an examplary crumb structure. The frosting wasn’t overwhelming, it was just right. My only issue was that it did not explode with the flavour of coconut. Apart from the superficial beauty of the coconut on the frosting it tasted like the almond extract in dr pepper that i loathe so vehemently. I was unimpressed.
I remember being in awe that night and I continue to be in awe by the beauty of grand christmas trees and coconut cakes. Since that day I have always fantasized about perhaps one day making my own stately coconut cake.
I recently found myself in brazil. I bought some goiabada. Guava paste. I became obsessed with the idea if making a coconut lime guava cake. I did some online trolling and i came up with a white coconut lime cake, sandwiched in between guava jam and frosted with a lime swiss meringue buttercream.
It was a tropical fiesta masquerading as a stately coconut cake.
Hari Raya Haji is only a few days away. I am excited. I am thinking of preparing a Malay feast with a variety of desserts. Only problem is that Joe doesn’t really care for Malay food. He tolerates it. I made a pot of Beef Rendang and Sambal Goreng many weeks ago and I found myself eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next four days. Not that I did not enjoy eating Malay food for four consecutive days. Bliss and orgasmic would be appropriate adjectives to describe the experience but I hate cooking food that only I alone enjoy. I almost feel a little better cooking food that he alone enjoys. Anyway it has been really busy at work. In the past years, September and October are typically slow months but they have been working us consistently. It leaves me no time to keep the kitchen well- stocked and clean. To make matters worse we have also been busy house hunting. We have placed two very fair offers the last couple months but without much luck. It is quite depressing. Between the messy, low inventory kitchen, work and depression of not being able to snag our dream home (not once but twice) I haven’t done much baking or cooking. I saw Gorton’s beer battered fish filets on sale and I figured the picture on the packaging looks good and i thought to myself that it probably would make a quick unhealthy snack on the many lazy days. Boy was I wrong. Frozen battered fish tasted nothing like the recollections I had of them as a kid. I thought fish sticks were one of the best things on earth. Fast forward to today, each time I try to eat one of those beer battered fish filet, I gag a little. It is that bad. As usual my mind wanders. I thought there was a point to this post but now I am not so sure anymore.
Eid! Hari Raya Haji!
I will make a feast. I was going to jot my thoughts on my upcoming one person Eid feast.
Contemplating between Ayam Masak Merah (Spicy Tomato Chicken), Beef Rendang ( Spicy Coconut Gravy Beef) or Ayam Masak Lemak Chili Padi (Green Chili Coconut Chicken Curry)….Hmmm….There is also the option of Chicken or Beef Beryani….Decisions! Decision! Decisions!
Dessert should be some kind of pie or layered cake I have never made before. Or wait…a Pandan Coconut Custard Cake. I saw that cake on a friends facebook posting last week and I have be fantasizing about it ever since. Pandan cake makes me reminisce my childhood in Singapore. It oozes of comfort that comes with familiarity. Sigh.
I turned 32, 5 days ago. It was uneventful and Joe threw a tantrum. 32 doesn’t feel much different from 31. It wasn’t as apocalyptic as turning 30. I think as you grow older you become more resigned. Your dreams and hopes fade away a little. It is like the day you were born a 100 candles were lit up for you and each day of your life the flame flickers a little and each year a flame extinguishes. Some years more than one candle dissipates with your dreams. Soon you are left with none and your zest and zeal for life diminishes with it and then I guess eventually you die. Growing up and aging. Some of us resist it. A few of us embrace it. And then there are people like me that just accept it.
I have yet to dye the rapidly multiplying greys on my head. I think I am at 30% grey now. I guess it is my way of accepting that I am growing old and when the hair on my head is all grey it will serve as a reminder to me that perhaps my time is almost up and death beckons. In my mind it is sobering.
I am not quite sure why each year when I reflect on growing a year older it tends be sombre and I weep a little.
Perhaps I should end this post with a thanks. Thank you to god for the health you have given me and a family that loves me unconditionally, a job that feeds me and clothes me and of course a Joe who keeps me human and reminds me that I am not only here on this planet earth existing but that I am also alive.
I haven’t made an entry to my very sad food blog for a while. And the first sentence of my first entry after a really long time is as unimaginative and unoriginal as it gets. I bore myself typing sometimes.
Although it has been a while since I made a personal contribution it does not mean I haven’t been baking. I’ve made more cinnamon rolls since. A nasty wheat crust French Silk Pie that took forever to thicken over the double boiler. My right arm was all sore after that episode. Totally not worth it. And on that same day Joe made his croissants and I made Povitica ( a croation/ slovenian nut bread roll). I was trying to make Joe’s grandma like me a little more and so I bravely or should I say stupidly attempted to make this nutty bread roll which in theory seemed easy enough. Tragically things did not quite go my way. It is always about finding the right recipe. And if you think a recipe from a Croation Ladies church fund rising cook book would do the trick, you are wrong and so was I. The filling was simply to thin to spread over the bread dough. I was left with a nutty gooey mess.
As always i digress.
I bought a really lovely bundt pan many months ago. Bundt pans are really cool looking. I am attracted to not only the hole in the middle but also the height that one gets from making a bundt cake. It simply looks so grand without having to layer the cake. I have been procrastinating for the longest time to use the bundt pan as it seems like a bundt cake would require way too many eggs and we would be left with way too much cake to eat. Fortunately I came across a recipe that merely requires 3 eggs and vegetable oil. Plus, I have a bag of butterscotch chips just laying around waiting to be used.
Butterscotch Pumpkin Bundt Cake!
The cake turned out pretty nicely. I must say my discounted Home Goods bundt pan did not disappoint. It produced a cake that was evenly browned on the outside, beautifully cooked on the inside and the best part….it just glided out of the pan effortlessly. I was impressed.
The cake was moist and tender. The perfect combination of pumpkin, butterscotch, cinnamon and nutmeg was so comforting and warm on a cold, wet fall evening. The aroma of pumpkin and cinnamon wafted through out the apartment 10 minutes before the bundt cake was ready. It felt like getting a big hug.
When the cake was ready I was torn between a Spiked Butterscotch Rum Glaze or a Butterscotch and Dark Chocolate Drizzle. I was afraid of ruining the bundt cake’s perfection with the wrong adornment. I picked something familiar and safe. The drizzle. Coward! Oh well. I just did not want to fuck it up! Sorry if that is so wrong. I am older now. 32 this coming October. I don’t take as many risks and leaps of faith as I used to. I am more afraid to make mistakes. It sucks but i guess that’s what happens when you are forced to grow up. I miss those care free, frivolous days. Perhaps one day.
In the meantime I have a Butterscotch Pumpkin Bundt Cake. And so I eat and stare in awe at its magnificent beauty. Cake will have to do for now.
My grand diet and religious calorie counting has taken a back seat. After a close call in Hong Kong with a 3 alarm fire I decided to let go. And I really let go.
I baked a Rocky Road Brownie the same night I got home. I had Pad Thai for breakfast the next day and Chicken Parmigiana the morning that followed. Every meal I ate ended with a gooey brownie. Yes I have problems.
I decided to tone it down a little this morning and decided to make cinnamon rolls.
Joe loves Cinnabon rolls. I try to make them at home and pray that he only loves them as much. Just something about mass produced, highly processed foods that satisfies Joe.
I tried a new recipe which had sour cream in it. It produced a really tender dough. Ground cinnamon loses its aroma and flavour the longer it sits in your pantry. Joe commented that we should get some Cinnabon cinnamon.
I rolled my eyes in my head.
It has been really hectic with work. I actually have go to work to get paid. No more sitting on my ass on reserve. I actually have to get dressed, go to the airport and get on a plane.
I have always cherished those days when I got paid to sit at home and be on call. I am not quite sure why some reserves get upset over that, I on the other hand feel truly blessed when that happens. It is probably also the reason why it is the longest job I have ever had.
Anyway all the flying , has taken its toll on my immune system and I am officially sick. Oh well.
I haven’t been doing much cooking or baking.
All I could make was a banana chocolate chip muffin. We had bananas. Joe had mentioned something about a muffin. It was quick and easy. I always add wheat germ and flax seed to my muffins. I like muffins that make me poop.
And yes I succumbed to a smart phone. I hate myself. Joe pressured me into it. I hate letting consumerism win. I fight so hard not be a person who needs stuff to make them feel fulfilled or accomplished. I aim for a simple and uncluttered approach towards life. And yet I have this god damn phone! It is a nice phone but I don’t need it. I miss my fuss-free flip phone. It is all I really need. I hate the idea of being glued to a gadget muddling with a mindless game or app. I hate how these phones have terrible battery life and you constantly need to have your phone charged. I hate that we complain about not making enough and how the 1% are getting richer, yet we subscribe to the very things they sell to us to make them richer.
Complaining is moot. I am weak and faltered under pressure.
On the positive side at least my phone now has a camera and that is one thing I do appreciate.
Time to take a shower, clean up the apartment and make some dinner. Time to do the things I really need to do.
Each time Joe goes to visit his Grandma, I often try to make an effort to bake something. I have never met this lady although Joe and I have been together for over 4 years now.She sounds so adorable and funny. She is a pretty hardcore Republican, though. This much I know.
I enjoy baking cakes but the kitchen has to be spotless before I would consider embarking on a major baking project. It almost feels like I need my mind to be uncluttered before I can start baking especially if it is something challenging. Otherwise I fall apart and so does my project.
I had a pretty exhausting work week, involving a Seattle turn, an Aruba turn, a Montego bay turn and the crew desk even threw in a Baltimore turn in there just for fun. So yah, that was what I did the last 5 days.
So the apartment is a little dishevelled and plus Joe had made cabbage rolls last night and the kitchen was not in the pristine condition that I often like it to be.
After flipping through a few cookbooks and numerous websites, I decided on cream puffs also known as profiteroles.
I made the pate choux (choux pastry) and baked the shells the night before. Choux pastry needs to be baked immediately so that it will rise nicely.
This morning I intended to make the both chocolate pastry cream and vanilla pastry cream. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I only made the chocolate pastry cream.
The chocolate pastry cream is so easy to make it is just like making the standard pastry cream and the only difference is that you add melted bitter sweet chocolate just as your pastry cream start to thicken.
Once the filling was ready, I filled the shells generously.
I later drizzled the cream puffs with chocolate glaze.
Chilled the cream puffs for an hour and BAM! Tender custard-like shells with and explosion of chocolate goodness in each bite.
One of those days when my body craves for something semi-healthy. It is like the body has had enough junk stuffed into it and it screams for some nourishment.
I have learnt to love bulgur and quinoa. I probably have a tendency to over-cook it as I don’t really care for measurements when I am cooking. I like to eye-ball it. As long as it tastes and looks good who cares if it was done right. Yes, I am superficial like that.
So what’s on the plate?
I stir fried some shrimp and baby spinach with my favourite sambal. I like my food to have a little spice. Otherwise ” I can’t get no satisfaction…”
Then there is a relish to add a little freshness and crunch. I chopped some cucumbers, apples, onions, cilantro and seasoned it with a pinch of salt, pepper and lemon juice.
The bulgur and quinoa I cooked in chicken stock, chopped onions, smashed garlic, a little tumeric, paprika, salt and pepper. Once it is almost cooked, I add fava beans, olives, raisins, sunflower seeds, cilantro, lemon zest and juice.
So refreshing on a not so typically hot spring afternoon in Chicago.