Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Inspired to Bake and Make Fresh Pasta

I wanted to be productive at home so today was about making Deep Chocolate Cupckes and finally getting a test run on my new pasta maker.

Living in KL means easy access to these kind of stuff. I asked my friend to buy the pasta maker from Hock Choon at Ampang (since we rarely go to that area). My suspicion is that it is cheaper than if I buy it in Mont Kiara or Bangsar area. I paid less than rm100 for it.

Started baking at 4pm and thankfully cupcakes came out beautifully. While the pasta took more of my attention because I was fascinated and foreign to that new machine. Turned out to be easier than I thought. We made fresh egg pasta, from flour and eggs only! I bought the special flour (as suggests in my Jamie Oliver cookbook). Tipo 00 flour or farina di grano tenero from Italy, bought it from the BIG supermarket at Publika Mont Kiara.

For the pasta sauce I made 2 kinds: truffle cream sauce for me and hubby while little Alex had the cheesy sauce. Toddlers love cheese sauces (my observation!)

Love the taste of fresh pasta. Beats the instant pasta hands down. Really soft and tasty! Plus Alex had a little fun with pasta maker... She tried to help!

Tip for moms who have daughters like me: I baked so many times yet it doesn't mean that little Alex will eat all the stuff I do. Today I added some colorful stars on the cupcake topping and she tasted 4 spoons of cupcake! Yehey!!! Little joys of motherhood.

I brought the cupcakes to the office the next day and had good reviews from my colleagues. So I decided to jot down the recipe so that others may try it out. This is really for CHOCOLATE lovers because it really has that deep, rich chocolate taste. It is obviously different from the store-bought ones which are more commercialized. I highly urge using superb, top quality ingredients because that makes a BIG difference in the overall taste. The original recipe called for a chocolate ganache topping. I changed mine to cream cheese butter frosting to have that contrast with the chocolate color and taste.


Ingredients for Cupcakes:

  • 100g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa) - try to buy good quality swiss chocolates
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee (decaffeinated for preference)
  • 1 cup flour (I use Organic Unbleached Flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark coca powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

Preheat the over to 180 C. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small bowl, break up the dark chocolate. Mix the boiling water with the instant coffee, and pour over the chocolate. Stir and allow to melt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, coca powder and salt until well combined. Set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (at least 3-5 minutes on low speed). Add the eggs, one at a time. I use the mixer machine for this.

Beat in the flour mixture, by tablespoon, alternating with the melted dark chocolate and the milk.

Fill the cupcake liner. I fill it all up until all the batter is used up in the 12 muffin cups. Usually this is about as high as the muffin cups.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a tester inserted comes out only just clinging with crumbs. Take the cupcakes out of the oven and allow to cool.

For the Ganache Topping:
100g Dark Chocolate 
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tbsp cream
1 tbsp butter

Combine all the ingredients for the ganache in a metal bowl. Set the bowl over a small saucepan filled with boiling water, and stir until just melted. Set aside.

Smooth over the dark chocolate ganache on the cupcake (when it has cooled down). Let sit for a few hours to set or put in the fridge.

These cupcakes are so deep and chocolaty, you might want to serve them with some plain unsweetened whipped cream on the side to lighten them.

Or, another option is cream cheese butter icing. I replace the dark chocolate with 2-3 tablespoons of Cream Cheese. Then just add butter and cream, plus sift some icing sugar into the batter and use the mixer machine to whip everything together. The "sweetness" depends on your taste and you can adjust it as you go along. Optional, you can add a teaspoon of vanilla essence into the cream cheese topping.

Do try it. I am so, so sure you will enjoy the deep chocolate cupcakes!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Have Baby, Will Travel

Prior to having a baby, my husband and I enjoyed traveling to new places on every occasion that we had. The thrill of discovering a new place and trying new stuff (food, shopping, sights) were things I personally love. So when baby Alexandra came, naturally, I thought to myself that this would not stop us from traveling.

Like every new parent, the first few travel with a baby (and even now as a toddler), were not without sleepless nights. The first airport travel was carefully planned, after reading several articles online to help prepare us. After many articles, now I was assured of the following:

At the Metal Detection Gate and Carrying Liquids

Airport staff and checkpoint guards are usually sympathetic when you are traveling with a child. So don’t worry if you need to pass the baby or let little toddler walk through the metal detector gate. Also, your stroller will be pushed across, and you don’t really need to fold it up and put through the screening belt. Lastly, we were worried about her milk and water.  Will they ask us to throw this away? Turns out, once you have a baby with you, the baby bag has this “untouchable” status! After several international and domestic travel, it has been proven that any water, milk and medicine liquid I carried in that baby bag, we never get stopped for it!


Strollers can be passed on to an airport staff just before getting on the plane. That way, you can easily get to the boarding area, or sometimes baby can even sleep while you wait for your flight (especially instances of delayed flights). Depending on the airport where you land, sometimes the strollers are handed out right after you get out of the aircraft, while other airport deliver it through the conveyor belt alongside the luggage. We were stressed at first because we weren’t sure how this worked.

Snacks, Milk, Diapers on the Plane

You don’t need to over pack, but as a mother’s advice to another, always have enough to last for a day in terms of snacks, diapers and milk on your hand carry. This actually saved us one time. Our Paris-Singapore flight on the A380 had huge problems: 5-hour waiting inside the plane (with my 8-months old baby!), then we had to deplane, got checked into a hotel without releasing anything, neither luggage nor stroller! Paris airport hotel + tired + evening + Sunday only spelled that it was close to impossible to find shops with all those stuff! I really thank the heavens I had enough stuff that day.

Baby Ergo Carrier

This is one of my treasured purchases, which allowed us to carry our baby. It is one of the best investment for traveling with  a baby, especially if you have luggage to handle! Don’t travel without it. We were dependent on it until Alexandra turned 1.5 years old.

Take-off and Landing

You can avoid a lot of crying if you prepare yourself (and your baby) for take-off and landing. If your baby seems to be experiencing ear pain from air pressure changes during takeoff and landing, encourage him to breastfeed or suck on a bottle, pacifier, or sippy cup. This definitely helped me a lot. Be aware and think in advance of what you will need to help ease the air pressure.

Now let’s get some ideas on where you can bring your baby or toddler. I will share some of our experience:

1.     Stick to decent resorts or hotels. I wouldn’t risk going to places that are too “adventurous” at this point, especially with my baby. So when we had our 1st island getaway adventure with her, we chose to go back to something we were familiar with like Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia. She was 5-months old back then and everything was perfect. Almost all hotels provide baby cots for free.  Room service was important to us as well because there was a day it rained, and we didn’t want to risk mosquitoes in the evening, so we just enjoyed in-room dining.

2.     We also brought her to a long-haul flight Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to Paris. Everything was okay, but of course we had our stressed moments wondering what to do if she cried, etc. Make sure you take a reputable company (we took Singapore Airlines) and had the baby cot which allowed her to get lots of sleep. The airline hostesses were also helpful and understanding, which helped a lot for a first long-haul trip. They helped to warm the milk bottle and gave all the assistance I needed. So don’t be afraid of taking your little one back to see grandparents even if it means long-haul flights. It will be okay and a memorable experience (if you are well-prepared!)

3.     We brought her back to see the other grandma in Manila, which was a short 3-4 hours flight. Upon arriving in Manila, we also booked an island getaway Boracay, which was a familiar place to me. One tip for parents who don’t want stress: go back to places you loved and want to revisit. That way your first trip with baby will be a bit more predictable.

4.     Short getaway to relieve the stress, enjoy a beautiful sunset, a good dinner and massage… we went few rounds to Port Dickson. Stayed at Avillion and Thistle. Not bad for a short drive. We brought the maid along… which means we were able to have good massage sessions plus romantic dinner. I didn’t want to take baby-sitting services from hotels so I brought my own nanny.

5.     Cameron Highland – a bit longer drive but worth it if you like to enjoy some cool breeze, which makes you think you are not in Malaysia! Make sure you stay at a reputable place. We had a horrendous experience (without baby, long ago, will never go back to Equatorial).  Always look at TripAdvisor for family reviews as that will help a lot in terms of expectations.  Last December 2011 we stayed at Strawberry Park Resort, which was newly renovated. It was good. Else try the local resident package for Cameron Highland Resort.

6.     Kota Kinabalu is beautiful and easy access via Air Asia. I would highly recommend going to Shangri-la Rasa Ria. You don’t need to leave the resort when you get there. Superb dining, great service, beautiful Ocean View Premiere rooms (with your own Jacuzzi, superb bubble fun with your young one) and you have the jungle right inside the resort. You can have orangutan viewing in an exotic setting yet easy access. And did I mention their kids club is superb?!? Love their swimming pool!

7.     Langakwi – such a short flight and easy access.  This is one of the easiest beach place you can get to with a toddler. An hour of flight, plus a few minutes car ride (depending where you book). We stayed at the Andaman which was okay for toddlers. I am glad we didn’t book the neighboring Datai as it was all honeymooners there. We did cross over for dinner though one evening. Always check if the hotels are children friendly so that you avoid those honeymoon places which may make you uncomfortable. The Andaman swimming pool is superb as it had lots of plants and trees around which provided good shade.

8.     Hard Rock Hotel, Penang – this is definitely for toddlers! The water playground was such a wonderful surprise! My daughter really enjoyed running around and they even had a shallow pool with sand. For parents, what you will probably enjoy is the easy access to the swimming pool if you had the Lagoon room. Long ago they didn’t allow families with children to book the Lagoon rooms, but we were able to stay there. We had a blast mostly because of that room… not sure if we would have enjoyed as much if we took the normal rooms.  They also had a nice children playroom. Small, but decent.

Don’t stop traveling because of your baby. Instead, bring him or her along. It is a wonderful experience and it will do them good, too!  All it takes is extra planning. And of course it helps to have a supportive husband in tow. Happy traveling!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Breakfast at Red Beanbag, Publika and BFM 89.9 Radio

Last Sunday while daddy went on a hike at TTDI with his buddies, I decided to have breakfast out with my little girl. Publika is nearby and that mall is starting to draw a lot of crowd.

Breakfast at Red Beanbag (yes, I came back to the place). The french toast was sinful and tasty. Went well with my cappuccino.

In the end, I spoke to the owner. Perhaps one of these days we will bring him for an interview at BFM 89.9

Hmmm, not sure if I mentioned that I started working again? This time at the radio station. No, no ... I am not a deejay. I am a Producer for the Enterprise shows like Speed Consulting, Resource Centre and Careers Unusual at BFM 89.9

It has been great 5 months so far for me. Met so many people. Much, much more than in my 4 years stay at Microsoft Malaysia.

There were funny days at the office where me and my colleagues within enterprise wore same color outfits by coincidence. It happened quite often, I guess great minds think alike!

Living and working in Malaysia has been so colorful so far. We are nearing our 6th year in malaysia this December. How time flies!

Back to the subject of Publika mall in Mont Kiara area. It was a pleasant surprise to see they had a carousel and giant castle slide that Sunday. When we showed our food receipt, Alexandra was entitled to have a carousel ride. We both enjoyed it. And yes, she had fun sliding down the big castle slide too. Overall Publika is a good mall for nearby residents.

Be Careful, Lots of Crime Lately in KL

I am writing this to warn everyone of the rampant crime that has even happening lately in Kuala Lumpur. It is worrying that the police are not solving the crimes in town.

My colleague almost got robbed this May 2012 while driving at Section 17 at the stoplight. A motorbike with 2 men crashed her window in an attempt to grab her handbag. The glass didn't completely shatter, so she was lucky. But after the incident she was obviously shaken.

Many people in her Facebook commented that this handbag grabbing incident is common at that area. Worrying how this is becoming a common, everyday acceptance.

Yesterday I received a warning from a real estate agent friend. This comes timely as the news of 2 real estate agents who became victims of rape & theft. The other real estate agent actually died.

I hope this is a warning to everyone. I am often positive about things but this is something all women should be aware of and cautious about. Extra careful nowadays please.

Below is a message from my friend :

This was confirmed by the TTDI Shell guy! happend at sec17 junction!

New Tactic! To Rob You in PJ And Soon All Places - spray some liquid on your tyre which leads to smoke outburst PLEASE FORWARD TO SAVE EVERYONE LIFE

Just received this from a local police force in Bangsar. There is a new tactic used by the thieves and robbers & spreading into PJ & other KL areas. Be careful when there is a motorist approaching while you are driving alone in a car. These days, the thieves will spray some liquid on your tyre which leads to smoke outburst.

When you encounter such a situation, don’t panic. Stay calm & don’t ever try to park your car to check what is going on. This is the intention purposely created by these thieves to get your attention. Once you get out from your car, they will snatch your belongings or may even harm you.

So, if you ever encounter such an incident, drive to a safe place where crowded people are or to a petrol or police station. As for the stain, use water to clean it up, that’s all. Look after your own safety, especially to those ladies out there. What ever happens, don’t simply walk out from your car! This is a true case that has occurred before. Once you see this message, don’t forget to forward it to all your friends.

This one below is what I added to the message as I sent out to my friends:

Colleague Freda also experience shattered window last week while at that area while at stoplight. They didn't get to her bag but she was definitely shaken from incident. Be careful!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...