I have always loved masquerade masks. Especially the Venetian hand crafted ones, which are exquisitely beautiful. And don’t you just love the movies set in a time where people would wear masks to fancy balls? Doesn’t that touch of mystery just add to the class and sophistication of that era? I just think there’s something so sultry and seductive about it.
Of course these days, masks are just for fun and you only wear them if a party is masquerade-themed. And it just so happens I have one coming up. So on goes the scavenger hunt for a mask that I will like. And boy do I hate shopping when I go out with ONE specific purpose (I prefer wandering for hours, looking for anything that catches my eye). There are all kinds of masks out there and I wanted something classy and elegant. Without an overload of sequins and over-the-top feathers (which all of them had!). As far as fashion goes, I’m not the bold, ‘out there’ type. I like it simple.
But I finally found one to go with my black dress. It was silver grey with studded rhinestones. I loved it instantly. And it was different from the rest because it’s not made out of hard cardboard.
A simple mask with a little black dress might sound boring. But sometimes less is definitely more.
I took it for a test drive when I got home. Didn’t look too bad!
UK high street fashion has not failed me yet! Well actually, it has once or twice, when I made really bad choices.
I made my eyes look very elaborate because I wanted to see if I could double it for an Ice Queen of Narnia costume. Didn’t quite work unfortunately. And when I tried glaring for effect like the Ice Queen did, my sister fell off the chair laughing. She said I looked constipated (I don’t want to show you that photo). I then threatened I’ll put stories of her on my blog. The whole room erupted in laughter.
“The Ice Queen turns people into stone and this is the best you can do?! I’m sooooo scared.”
My little sis. She can be such a pest. But I still love her.
My parents had guests for dinner one night and so I thought to see if mom might need some help. Seems she had all the food prep under control. Then she asked me to make dessert because I could then put it up on my blog. But I’m onto her – it’s really so she wouldn’t have to make it herself! Moms can be sooo sneaky. But I love making dessert because I love eating them so I was quite happy to flip through my cookbook for a new idea. And I decided to make Chocolate Fudge Cake.
This dessert was easy enough to make (although other challenges did present itself). There’s a reason why we don’t share a kitchen – we both want to be Head Chef! Despite the long-ish post, this is actually a very quick and easy recipe (as long as you keep my mom out of your kitchen).
150 g unsalted butter
3/4 cup caster sugar (I used natural molasses sugar at mom’s insistence – a little advice: Don’t.)
100 g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda (I used 3/4 for a double portion of this recipe)
1/2 cup milk
50 g unsalted butter, chopped
125 g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
Melt and cool the dark chocolate. Leave aside.
Place butter and sugar in a bowl. Mom insisted I use natural molasses sugar because it was healthier. Fine. Problem was, molasses sugar clumps together in hard lumps and I didn’t realize because I never used it before. Before I knew it, I had already started mixing the butter and sugar. That’s when mom goes, “Oh I normally press out the lumps before using it. Maybe you should’ve used normal sugar instead.” It was your idea! I had to use a spoon to squish the lumps against the side of the bowl as much as possible to salvage this cake. Which took a good 20 minutes.
I put the butter to defrost in the microwave – it melted a bit too much. Oops. Oh well.
Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Then add the melted chocolate and beat well.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
Fold the sifted plain and self-raising flours, cocoa powder and baking soda into the chocolate mixture. Add the milk and beat lightly until well mixed. It looks lumpy because I couldn’t smooth out all the clumps of molasses sugar.
Line a baking tin with grease paper, pour in the batter and bake in a preheated oven of 180°C for 35 – 40 minutes (or until skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean).
To make the sauce, melt the butter, dark chocolate and vanilla extract in a pan over low heat. When completed melted, add in the cream and stir well.
Serve the cake with the chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream on the side. I used a circle cutter to cut a round piece of cake.
As soon as the cake came out the oven, I couldn’t help but to cut myself a piece. I exclaimed in astonishment that it wasn’t sweet at all! My mom pipes up, “Oh that’s because molasses sugar is not as sweet!” But the whole point of dessert is that it’s sweet! So I had to add some normal sugar to the chocolate sauce to compensate. Apart from the whole sugar scenario, I also had to struggle desperately to hold onto my mixing bowl from the very beginning to prevent her from laying siege to it (she kept trying to take over!). All in all, it was a still delightful dessert and I can’t wait to eat more. But it was a very stressful situation, which I pray none of you will ever encounter.
They say that “Too many cooks, spoil the soup”. But what they forgot to tell you is that:
Mother and Daughter,
Should never cook together.
This is why we don’t share a kitchen. Of course, I’m sure she also has plenty other reasons.
After poring over a million recipes in my first recipe book and not being able to decide which one to try, I finally decided to make the Spinach and Zucchini Frittata as my first recipe out of this book! I thought it looked like an omelette but I don’t actually know if there’s a difference. In any case, I thought to have a nice brunch with mom and sister (and maybe some girl pow-wow time) and this seemed simple enough to make. Or so I thought.
There’s not really a Part A or Part B, I just like my ingredients broken down instead of one long list. Otherwise I become super disorganized in the kitchen as if my brain doesn’t function.
80 g grated emmenthal cheese (which I omitted)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 zucchini (courgette), sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100 g spinach leaves (I just used about a handful)
2 tbsp cream
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Prepare ingredients for Part A.
Beat the eggs and cream together and season with salt and pepper. (If adding cheese, add half here)
Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the onion first. Add in zucchini (courgette) when onions are slightly brown.
When zucchini browns, add in garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts and excess moisture has evaporated off (otherwise frittata will be soggy in the middle so the book says).
Shake the pan to get even layer of mixture. Pour the beaten eggs and cream from Part B over the vegetables. Cook for a few minutes until egg is just set (best done on low heat, as mine got burnt!).
Now for the slightly complicated part. You’re meant to put the frying pan in the grill (and add the rest of the cheese here) to cook the top, but I decided I was going to flip it. And because I had fried it on high heat, the bottom was burnt and the top was still full of watery egg. DISASTER. It was like egg exploded everywhere in the kitchen. It flipped without breaking though *big grin*. AND…it was only half burnt!
Cut into wedges and serve.
The unburnt parts tasted really good. We finished the whole thing and I’d definitely make this again. Plus, it was so easy to make (except the part where I flipped it).
Of course, there was the egg explosion to clean up afterwards.
A small problem with the Wagamama Cookbook is that there isn’t a picture for every single recipe, so I’m not sure how the food is meant to look like (unless of course I ordered it in the restaurant). I tried making the Wagamama Chilli Chicken Ramen before, which was noodles in a spicy soup and I thought it was delicious. Forgive the self-praise *sheepish grin*. In any case, I was flipping through the cookbook when I came across the Wagamama Chicken Chilli Mien and I thought it sounded pretty good, as it uses soba noodles and I didn’t have to make stock for soup. This recipe uses the Wagamama Chilli Sauce.
275 g soba noodles
3 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breast fillets cut into 1 cm (1/2 in) strips
1 red pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
1 small courgette, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) lengths
1/2 tsp salt
300 ml Wagamama Chilli Sauce (I only used 6 tbsp because it was too spicy for me)
Marinate chicken with 1 tbsp of soy sauce and some corn flour. Leave aside with other ingredients.
Cook soba noodles in a pot of boiling water until just tender. Drain thoroughly. The recipe doesn’t add any sauces but because I figured my chicken would turn out quite dry, I added 1 tbsp of soy sauce and garlic oil for some taste.
Heat the olive oil in a pan until completely hot. Add the pepper, courgette, red onion, spring onion and salt and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Then add the chicken and fry until cooked.
Add the chilli sauce. If using all 300 ml, bring to the boil.
Serve chicken with the soba noodles.
It turned out alright but it might’ve been better if there was more sauce to the chicken, as that’s where all the flavour comes from. Next time I’ll make the sauce less spicy and try this again.
I received my first recipe book I ever owned on New Year’s Day, so I never expected to receive another when I’ve barely finished flipping through the first! It was The Wagamama Cookbook (and it even comes with a DVD!). We had major reservations about trying out The Wagamama Restaurant because we typically view franchises of Asian restaurants with non-Asian chefs as adapted imitations of the real thing. But surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad and we quite like it!
I had quite a lot of lemongrass and chillies leftover from making my Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken, so I thought to use them up to make the Wagamama Chilli Sauce. Plus this sauce (all 300 ml of it) is used to make the Chilli Chicken Men and many other recipes, which I wanted to try.
I adapted this recipe slightly from The Wagamama Cookbook. It is a thick, sweet red sauce spiked with chilli and ginger. It will keep for a few days in the fridge. This recipe makes about 300 ml (1/2 pint).
2 tbsp olive oil
300 ml (1/2 pint) water
Part A: 3 lemongrass stalks (white bulbs), finely chopped
1 tsp peeled and grated ginger
2 chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp bought sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
Prepare ingredients for Part A.
Heat oil in a pan until hot. Add ingredients from Part A and sauté for 7-8 minutes. It smells SO fragrant.
Add ingredients from Part B and continue cooking on low heat for 8-10 minutes.
Add the water, bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Blitz in a blender and use.
And that’s it! Quite simple really. Although, it didn’t come out as red as I expected. It looks quite red in the blender because the lighting was rather dark but it looks more orange like in the photo below. And it was terribly spicy. Almost as bad as my Lemongrass Chicken. But it tasted very flavourful. Lemongrass does wonders.