Archive for March, 2008

Pineapple Tarts’ Sweet Pastry Crust – More Ways Than One

March 31, 2008

pa.jpg

This is¬†one long-overdue entry talking about Chinese New Year goodies, almost two months after the festive season! ūüôā

I have gotten a request, quite a long time ago, from CH’s ex-colleague’s friend (yes, we live a complicated life! Ha!) for the recipe of the sweet pastry crust which I’ve used as the base for my pineapple tarts. While I am more than happy to share the recipe, one of my less desirable traits – procrastination, prevents me from doing so! Ops! Better late then never!

 My version of the sweet pastry, or rather the version which I inherited from my dad, is slightly firm, slightly sweet, slightly salty (a delightful contrast to the sweet-sourish pineapple jam), very buttery (oh yes!) and not so crumbly with a teeny-weeny bit of chew.

It was one of the easiest recipes in the world, requiring few ingredients but also one of the toughest, as the chef would really have to practise restraint from overdoing the dough.

¬†Here’s my recipe, as requested, with the most gentle reminder… DON’T overdo the dough:

(makes about 100 open-faced tarts)

500g flour

100g rice flour

80g icing sugar

1 egg

320g salted butter, room temperature 

Steps:

1)  Beat butter with icing sugar on high, til well mixed and no more. There is no need to beat til fluffy. (Good idea to sift icing sugar if it is lumpy.)

2) Add egg, mix well.

3) Turn off mixer. Add flour and rice flour to the egg and butter mixture. Using a spatular, mix til flours are barely incorporated.

4) If dough is too soft, rest in fridge for about an hour before use.

Besides this recipe, there are hundreds other, using a variety of different ingredients that yield different texture and bite Рcaster sugar, parmesan cheese for that addicitve umami, no rice flour etc. 

CH’s ex-colleague’s friend, whoever you are, let me know if my instructions to the¬†recipe are okay! If possible, I would love to meet you to bake together!¬† ūüôā¬† Afterall, nothing unites people more than the common love of sweet, decadent food!

  

Project Wedding Cake – Completed!

March 31, 2008
wedding-cake-1.jpg

My hands trembled ever so slightly while I stacked the fondant covered cake layers on top of one another. I pleaded silently to the cake –¬†Today is Cousin Y’s big day! Please¬†don’t collapse and spoil the wonderful evening for her!

After months of plotting and planning, the first wedding cake I’ve ever attempted finally materialised! Not in my dreams, as it had been for the longest time, but in reality, occupying a spot on the raised platform at the al fresco area at One Rochester, and ready to share the spotlight with the fabulously svelte, gorgeous and¬†glamourous bride and the handsome groom.

Of course, the cake could never upstage the lovely couple, but I beamed as it made its grand entrance onto the raised platform, and I was so proud of it as guests wandered around the cake to take pics and complimented it. 

This project is not the result of my effort alone but it materialised only with the help and enthusiasm of my wonderful friends. The lovely flower arrangement on the top layer, its complementing adornment of pearls and crystals (gave the cake a dose of sophistication to complement the graceful couple!) came from the creativity of SM and YR. And of course, there to provide (very strict) guidance was my dad who had impatiently rolled up his sleeves to help when he saw me fumbling with the fondant.  

wedding-cake-2.jpg

What a wonderful and satifying experience it was – to see the couple cutting¬†the cake to the applause of the guests. It was especially meaningful – I made the cake and I did it for someone¬†very dear to my heart!¬† ūüôā

Here’s wishing the lovely couple all the happiness in the world for many, many, many year to come! Y and L, all the very best to you both!¬†

Growing Pains

March 27, 2008

I am sure our neighbours hate us now, or at least they must have wondered what’s happening at Chez Lim these couple of nights.

It’s Rui.

I wonder if it is growing pains that make him wake up every night to cry – sometimes twice, once at 2 (that’s AM!) and the second time at 6-ish. This morning, he was crying so loud that the poor little boy sounded hoarse. My helper and I had to take him downstairs to play him some music to calm him and rock him back to slumberland.

Maybe it is really growing pains or maybe Rui has discovered the power of crying (just as I had… hee hee, but that is another story). Whatever it is, I hope this episode would end soon, as it is so terribly heartwrenching to see the little boy cry like that – chest heaving with tears streaming down his face and swollen eyes squirming to adjust to the lights. Also, I don’t think CH would be able to function normally with this continual loss of sleep. Most importantly, I believe babies would be healthier if they have a normal cycle of sleep.

So, Rui rui, be good tonight and sleep tight, okie!

Water Baby!

March 18, 2008

It’s been quite some time since I have the time to post. Funny thing is, I am not sure why I was so busy. Work? Well, relatively hectic. On the home front? The usual. Yet, time seems to slip away so fast!

I took a different route home from work today, taking¬†THREE buses just to reach home. I was pleasantly surprised when I actually¬†arrived at¬†home earlier than expected! The little one was sleeping and had not bathed yet, so today I had the rare chance to bath Chengrui – on a weekday!¬†¬† ūüôā¬†¬† Usually, when I come home, it is already time to sing him his lullaby.

Rui absolutely loves water, drinking it, playing in it and being drenched in it. Even as a tiny newborn, he loved bathing and would kick his tiny feet in the water enthusiastically when Grandma bathed him. I believe babies are naturally drawn to warm water, having been in a warm, liquid environment for the first nine months of their being.

Inexperienced as I was, I dreaded bathing Rui when he was a newborn for he was so soft and fragile. But now, bathtime is FUN time!

chengrui_pail.jpg

We used to bathe Rui in a little blue tub but being the happy chomper he is, he has very quickly outgrown the tub. Now, he sits in a plastic chair while we shower him. And of course, the naughty one loves it and is completely fascinated with the shower and flow of water!

chengrui_bathingchair.jpg

And this is Rui, nice and clean, drool-free after a shower. Who doesn’t love a sweet-smelling and happy baby? I read somewhere that Katie Holmes said the sweetest smell¬†in the world was her baby’s scent and breath. How true! Forget about lavender, the scent that puts me in a contented and happy mood is Rui’s warm, natural scent – the best in the world!¬†

chengrui_walker.jpg

Salut d’Amour

March 12, 2008

Just a while ago, when I was having dinner, I saw Rui had managed to take a teeny-weeny single step without support, before collapsing onto the mattress Рpacifier in mouth, of course.

I am just amazed at how fast the little one has grown! These couple of days, I kept hearing Salut d’Amour, Edward Elgar’s lovely¬†musical gift¬†to his wife Alice, in my head. It evokes so much memories of my pregnancy and the first month when Rui came into our life.¬†

I would hear¬†the¬†piece¬†everytime¬†while waiting for my turn at Dr. Chew’s clinic. Then, I was not able to fully enjoy this violin piece as I impatiently waited for my turn to be examined, worried that the doctor would again fuss over the ¬†low level of iron in¬†my blood.

Salut d’Amour was also part of the soundtrack that was played during¬†Rui’s first month. He was an impatient baby and demanded constant attention. And I was¬†a helpless first-time mummy (just as helpless sometimes now), trying to figure¬†out what exactly his cries meant. Frustrated, I would put the tune on repeat mode to soothe the little monster. It worked, well, at least sometimes.

Elgar’s wife famously said, “The care of a genius is enough of a life work for any woman.” I am sure taking care of a genius is tough but just about how many women are privileged enough to say that.

Genius or not, there is certainly much fun (and sometimes the inevitable heartache and blues) and a lot of work, taking care of the two men in my life. Thank goodness, the joy outweighs the frustration I feel sometimes. 

As I type this, I¬†could hear the giggles and laughter coming from father and son. I couldn’t think of a better piece of music to go with the scene I had just seen in the bedroom than Salut d’Amour… Indeed.¬†¬†¬†


 

Project Wedding Cake

March 10, 2008

Young’s trial wedding cake

March will be a special month in Cousin Y’s diary for she will be donning the bridal veil and white satin heels the end of the month.

I am really excited for this wonderful girl Рa tough, no-nonsense photo-journalist on the outside but really a sweet and sentimental person at heart, someone whom I can always count on and look towards for sensible advice.

Being the wonderful person she is,¬†Y has gallantly accepted my offer to make her wedding cake! I applaud her for her bravery as I have never made a wedding cake in my whole life, not even my own, so I am¬†extremely honoured and grateful for her faith in me!¬† ūüôā

Quite determined¬†for her wedding cake to be a success,¬†I had a little practice with fondant yesterday with the lovely L, who had actually made her own wedding cake! (It’s so romantic and memorable to do so and I wish I had done the same!) Not expecting the results to be worthy of comparison with the ones made by Mich Turner, we are nevertheless quite happy with our handiwork!¬†

The mini cake¬†is a two-layer affair. Moist mocca chocolate cake with rich ganache is covered with white fondant and decorated with dainty handmade pink roses. Of course, for Y’s wedding, I will be making something more bold and elegant to suit the exquisite taste of the bride.

After the little practice, L and her hubby M had dinner with us. Not wanting to spend too much time slogging in the kitchen while guests were here, we had a simple dinner of salad, foccacia with sundried tomatoes and basil, seafood pasta and coq au vin, most of which were prepared in advance. I was quite elated when L presented me with a bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, the fruity white wine which CH and I wanted to buy the day before but could not find.

dacquoise.jpg

Dinner in the weekends have to end with desserts. This is the house rule at Chez Lim…¬† ūüôā¬†¬† So last evening, we sank our teeth on Strawberries on Pistachio Dacquoise. This is¬†a¬†terrific, terrific¬†recipe by Eric Kayser which is so worth repeating. The tartness and refreshing taste of the strawberries balanced the¬†beautifully light pistachio-almond dacquoise and rich custard wonderfully. Instead of unsalted pistachios, I used salted pistachios to finish for¬†an added crunch. The slightly salty fragrance of the waxy nuts added a great dimension to the dessert. Even CH who doesn’t really care¬†for desserts, went for seconds.

Fantastic wine, good food, yummy desserts and great conversations. I just couldn’t think of any other¬†better ways¬†to spend¬†the Saturday night and went to bed with a rounded and satisfied belly! Calories to be banished? They would just have to wait for my Bikram Yoga session tomorrow!

Welcome to The Sweet Life at Chez Lim

March 9, 2008

chengrui_pineappletarts_resized.jpg 

This blog is long over due.

When Rui first came into our lives, I wanted to start a blog, so I would remember every single detail – of the joy he brings us, the sleepless nights, the joys of motherhood/fatherhood and the blues.

When Cousin YX was preparing for her trip to Brisbane in January, she wanted me to start a blog, so she could track Rui’s growth (she is his first fan – a stalker of sorts… but in a good sense, of course! ūüôā ).

When CH tasted some of my culinary experiments, he asked me to record them down, so he, being the ever forgetful hubby (yes, he even forgets what he has eaten), would remember the dishes and sweets I have created for him.

Now Rui is an active eight-month-old baby and Cousin YX is into the third month of her internship in Brisbane, did I sit down to pen the first entry to my blog.

I hope Rui would not inherit this trait of mine – procrastination… not a good thing. Nevertheless, better late than never.

This is to the Sweet Life…