Saturday, February 28, 2009

Woof! Woof! It’s Saturday!

Our Saturday did not start off that well…. Besides me having a little of a hang over from one too many drinks the night before….husband and I experienced a flat tire in the morning. It happened at the worst possible time, at the worst possible location; on quite a busy highway, about 35 minutes before husband’s weekly Tennis League Tournament!! Husband managed to change out the flat tire in a record time, drove to a friend’s house who lived nearby and had him drop us off at the Tennis Courts just in time! We did not want to take the risk of driving over 20 miles in that tiny spare tire just in case!!! Thanks Wei Wei for your big help!

We were supposed to pick up Seyda for lunch after husband’s tennis, but with the flat tire incident…the chauffeur role was reversed! Seyda came to our rescue and took us to lunch and home! =) After our Indian lunch buffet, we went scouting for dogs to adopt!!! Both husband and I are absolutely canine lovers and we’ve been pondering on the idea of getting a dog/puppy for quite a while. This is the first time we took actual initiatives to visit an animal shelter! Previously, we’ve only searched through online pet adoption sites such as for possible dogs or puppies that we can rescue! Our first choice is to rescue one, and the final choice (only if we desperately want a dog – NOW), we might seek to buy one.

We never realize that there was an animal shelter within a couple miles from our place! We got to the Lowell Humane Society, we saw so many adoptable pets; i.e DOGS, cats, guinea pigs, parakeets. It’s so heartbreaking to see all these animals abandoned or mistreated by their previous owners and have to end up in a shelter! =( So, we saw a Cocker Spaniel Mix named Dora…She was soooo cute with black (and sporadic white) semi-long fur! She’s so energetic and chirpy, but unfortunately might not be suitable for both husband and I in a home with no backyard, likes ours. =( . Although we prefer to rescue a dog, we want to make sure it’s the perfect one for us. I specifically want to make sure the dogs/puppies we adopt are at a younger age, preferably around 1 yrs old as I think the dogs will bond better with us! We’re in no hurry to adopt and is willing to “shop” around shelters till we find our perfect baby! And, I’ll be going back to the Lowell Humane Society from time to time to check on the adoptable dogs!!!Humane Society After a unsuccessful trip to the shelter, we went to a pet store in the mall to console ourselves…Haha We saw several adorable little puppies and asked to play with 2 of them; a Maltese and a Schnoodle (poodle and miniature schnauzer mix). The Maltese was exceptionally C-U-T-E!! He was like a little fluffy snowball; white, fury, tiny and light! The Schnoodle on the other hand was a little black fury cute thing and slightly smellier that the Maltese. Both are about 2 months old and cost a whopping $1600 each! Seyda jokingly suggested that it would be a great idea to “rescue” the puppy from the poor living condition of living in a crate of a shop! =P I do agree with her..haha.. that we should “rescue” them from that tiny crate in the store, but I’m staying firm to our plan of adopting from a shelter at least for now.

If you have a dog/puppy you want to give up or is available for adoption, drop me an email along with a picture of the dog/puppy! We’re looking for a dog/puppy about 1 yrs old (or younger), small (no bigger than 25 lbs), slightly energetic, hypo-allergenic/non or light shedder and is the cutest/sweetest thing! Adoptable dog/puppy must be in the MA, NH or RI area! We very much prefer to physically see and get to know the dog first before deciding to adopt it!

First Trial @ Foccacia Bread

I love Foccacia bread for the hearty herbal goodness. You can find Foccacia bread in certain bakery or in some Italian Restaurants where they serve you warm crusty Foccacia. Eat it warm and dip it in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and some grated parmesan cheese….so yummilicious! For those of you who’s not heard of Foccacia Bread….Here’s a little information extracted from Wikipedia:

“Focaccia (pronounced [foˈkaːtʃa] foe-CAH-cha) is a flat oven-baked Italian bread, which may be topped with herbs or other ingredients. Focaccia is related to pizza, but not considered to be the same. Focaccia is quite popular in Italy and is usually seasoned with olive oil and herbs, topped with onion, cheese and meat, or flavored with a number of vegetables. Focaccia dough are similar in style and texture to pizza dough consisting of high gluten flour, oil, water, salt and yeast. It is typically rolled out or pressed by hand into a thick layer of dough and then baked in a stone-bottom or hearth oven. Bakers often puncture the bread with a knife to relieve bubbling on the surface of the bread. Also common is the practice of dotting the bread. This creates multiple wells in the bread by using a finger or the handle of a utensil to poke the unbaked dough. As a way to preserve moisture in the bread, olive oil is then spread over the dough, by hand or with a brush prior to rising and baking.

Focaccia can be used as a side to many meals, as a base for pizza or as sandwich bread.”

This is maybe my first time baking bread (minus the time I attempted to make Chinese steam and baked bun about 7 yrs ago??), all from scratch with the help of my trusty Kitchen Aid stand mixer and no help from the bread machine! It turned out ok, I guess. I’m not very satisfied with the texture of the bread and I sort of pin-pointed the culprit; the yeast I used!

The recipe asked for Active Dry Yeast, and I used Rapid Rise Yeast as that’s the only type of yeast I have in my pantry. I proofed (adding water to yeast and mix) the yeast for about 5 minutes trying to let it bloom before adding it to the rest of the bread mixture! I later googled the difference of both the yeast and found out that with Rapid Rise yeast, I do not need to proof the yeast and should have just dump it into the the bread mixture. As, I have ignorantly proofed the Rapid Rise Yeast, I might have lost much of the “outgassing” action by doing so. Therefore, my Foccacia Bread (even though it doubled in size) was slightly dense, not as soft (as least it’s not rock hard?!) and fluffy as I hoped it would be. Maybe I should gave leave it to quadrupled in size before baking it? I got all excited and just couldn’t wait to let the dough rise a little longer!! I will try it a few more times, this time using the right yeast or right method to use the yeast! =) I will maybe let the dough rise a little longer next time too in hopes to get a crusty yet light Foccacia bread!Here’re before and after pictures of my Foccacia bread:

 Foccacia       Foccacia-1

The Foccacia Bread recipe I used was from Here’s the recipe :


Making a basic focaccia is a very easy way to begin making bread if you have never tried it before. Depending on how large you stretch your dough, this foccacia can be made thick enough to be used for sandwiches which will create a softer bread, or by spreading it out thinner on the pan before baking it will have a crisper crust.

Makes 1 Focaccia
by Deborah Mele


  • 1 Pkg. Active Dry Yeast
  • 3/4 to 1 Cup Warm Water
  • 4 Cups All-purpose, Unbleached Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Rosemary
  • Coarse Salt

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water, and let sit 10 minutes until bubbly. In a large bowl, combine the flour, Ts. of salt, yeast mixture and remaining water. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon and then your hands. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few minutes or until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down and place on an oiled baking sheet, forming into an oval or circle. Dimple the top surface with your finger tips, and then drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Variations: Instead of the rosemary, you might add 2-3 tablespoons of fresh chopped sage to the dough with some Fresh Parmesan on top. Other alternatives are sliced olives, thinly sliced zucchini or thinly sliced onions. Such cheeses as grated Parmesan, Mozzarella, or Fontina are also good.

June’s Notes: To my Foccacia Bread, I added about 2 tbsp of finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tsp of rosemary, 1/2 tsp of pepper into the dough. I used a stand mixer to mix all the ingredients together before kneading it with my hands. In addition to the recipe requirements, I sprinkled another 1/2 tsp of pepper, and some grated parmesan on top of the bread before baking. Instead of using Olive Oil, I stepped it up and used White Truffle Oil (White Truffle infused Olive Oil) as that was the closest to Olive Oil I have in the pantry. Price tag on the White Truffle Oil was kinda hefty at $6 for a mere 250 ml bottle! But, it was well worth the little “investment” as the bread had an extra earthy, nutty flavor to it! Even though the bread turned out slightly dense, I could taste the complexity of flavors from the Parmesan Cheese, Truffle Oil, Rosemary, Sun-dried tomatoes, and Pepper! Love it! Yums! Foccacia-2Updated March 1, 2009 : I sandwiched a piece of Salmon Corn Cake between my Foccacia, thus making it June’s version of Fish Sandwich! =) I kept it simple since the Salmon Corn Cake already had a lot of things in it and just added some mayo on the bread.Foccacia-4

Friday, February 27, 2009

Frozen Margarita

Frozen Margaritawas serve with my “sort-of-gourmet” dinner last night instead of some good white wine (I ran out of wine!Oh No!!). And since I have a mini bar stocked with different liquor, I decided to make some Pineapple Strawberry Frozen Margarita…….Minus the salt on the rim action! Dinner-11I tried to go fancy for dinner..…… No special occasion, it was just because I was in the mood to create a gourmet-ish meal!…Here’s what I made….Cream of Celery (no photo, opps) and for entree Rosemary Skewered Tiger Prawns and Salmon Corn Cakes served on Garlic Mashed Potatoes.I did not follow any specific recipe, just sort of threw things together and add as I go, especially for the Salmon Corn Cakes.

Occasionally, I find myself throwing and mixing ingredients into my cooking, creating, recreating or improvising something…..I’ve been lucky; the food usually turn out pretty decent and sometimes very good! Sorry for being so shamelessly “shy”! Haha! As a result, sometimes I don’t know what the dish is called and just name the obvious; like tonight’s dinner…Rosemary Tiger Prawn!! I have to admit some of my cooking ideas/inspirations came from watching cooking shows, reading cook books, eating someone’s cooking,exchanging ideas with friends and/or a spur of the moment thing!Dinner-13Till my next post…Ciao for now!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Midweek Surprise

Anna, my Chicago BFF (and former housemate) sent me a little semi-surprise package filled with GOODIES!! Malaysian Kuih (Cake) making supplies to be exact! Thanks, Anna!!! I had requested for her to help get me some Kuih making stuff when she went back home recently..Here are what she got me…different molds for various Malaysian cakes and cookies! Yay!! I’m so thrilled and I can’t wait to try them out…SOON! I will post pictures of the cakes and cookies I make with these molds! AnnaShe also got me some F.O.O.D. stuff!! Hehe! I always welcome food with open arms! On the right, it’s a bottle of Crispy Prawn Chilli from Malaysia…which looks absolutely delish! Can’t wait to try it!! On the left, it’s a box of I-dun-really-know-what-is-it yet that Anna bought in Japan. It does say Kokutou Green Tea (by Nestle, Home Cafe collection)…but everything else is printed in Japanese…From the box,..the cuppa tea looked frothy (and milky?) and I have no idea what Kokutou is….so, this will be a surprise! Will try this this weekend or something!.. Anna, arigato again for getting me all these stuff and sending them to me so quickly!! =)..Anna-1And, I leave sharing with you last night’s dinner =P.. Sautéed Celery, Braised Pork Legs with Potatoes and Bean Curd with Fish Ball Soup…….served with white rice! Tonite, I’ll be making some Cream of Celery and Sautéed some Tiger Prawns/Salmon. We’ll see what I actually whip up!Dinner-10

From Pancakes To Dorayaki

 Dorayaki       Dorayaki-1  

It’s just an easy transition! The ingredients to make a Dorayaki cake are almost the same as one to make a pancake, except Dorayaki cake batter usually requires more sugar and eggs. So, you could actually switch the recipe a little by adding a little more sugar and adding another egg or two to make it a Dorayaki cake batter. Then sandwich the pancakes with some Anko (red bean paste)!

According to Wikipedia, “ Dorayaki is a type of Japanese confection which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from kasutera wrapped around a filling of sweet red bean paste.It originally only had one layer, and the current shape was invented in 1914 by the Ueno Usagiya.

In Japanese, dora means "gong", and this is probably the origin of the name of the sweet. Legend has it that the first Dorayaki were made when a samurai named Benkei forgot his gong (dora) upon leaving a farmer’s home where he was hiding and the farmer subsequently used the gong to fry the pancakes, thus the name Dorayaki.”

For my version of Dorayaki,I just added about 2 tablespoon of sugar to my Whole Wheat Pancake batter, a simple and quick switcheroo. Thus, making it a Whole Wheat Dorayaki? I poured the “improved” batter into 3 inch discs and cook them like how I would, a pancake! Then I sandwiched about 2 tbsp of store bought Anko (sweetened red bean paste) between 2 Dorayaki cakes! Voila – Whole Wheat Dorayaki! The recipe yielded me 6 Dorayakis! =)Dorayaki-2If you do not fancy or have a hard time finding sweetened red bean paste, you could make the Anko paste yourself or think outside the box and use different fillings. Peanut butter, Jam, Hazelnut Chocolate, Coconut Jam (Kaya)…so many possibilities to make it personal! It’s yummilicious and easy to eat on the go for either breakfast, snack or dessert! Make some up, wrap them individually and leave it in the fridge for your hungry household! Here are some of my Dorayakis, each wrapped with wax paper and bounded by a decorative paper band to make it look pretty! They will be breakfast food or snacks for husband and I the next few days!Dorayaki-3

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whole Wheat Pancake Recipe

I found a bag of whole wheat flour tucked away in my pantry and decided to make some semi-healthy pancakes for brunch. I found this Whole Wheat Pancake recipe from, and decided to use it with one substitution! Buttermilk for milk, since I have some fat free buttermilk in my fridge! The pancakes came out light, moist, fluffy and had a slight nutty flavor to it. Here’s the recipe with my tiny substitution!

Some quick facts on whole wheat flour:

  • High in fiber
  • Good source of Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and Magnesium.
  • Contain antioxidants not found in fruits or vegetables.
  • Read more facts on the benefits of Whole Wheat HERE.




  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup fat free buttermilk (original recipe asks for milk)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • additional oil for frying


Oil a frying pan. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in one bowl. In another bowl, scramble the egg, then add the milk and the 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, well enough to eliminate dry spots but no more.

Heat the frying pan to medium temperature. Pour a pancake. The pancake will bubble. When the bubbling settles down and the edges are slightly dry, flip the pancake. When the pancake looks done, remove it and start another one.

You should get about 10-12 pieces of 3” pancakes! Serve pancakes with your favorite condiments; whipped butter, maple syrup, chocolate syrup or fruit sauce!

June’s Notes: I mixed all the ingredients in one bowl (to avoid having to wash another extra bowl!). Started with the dry ingredients then added all the wet ingredients and mixed it well. I left the pancake batter aside for 30-40 minutes before I started making them. The pancakes still turned out light and fluffy! I served my pancakes with some homemade Strawberry Sauce using a bag frozen strawberries and half a bottle of mix fruit preserve from a local farm! Ended up with lots of extra sauce for my next batch of pancakes or whatever I come up with next! Good luck!Brunch-3

Happy Birthday, Mom-In-Law!

birthdaycupcake-1Thank you for everything! Hope you have a wonderful celebration tonight!

Happy Birthday, to my special Mom-in-law! XOXO

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Durian Cheesecake Or Is It Durian (Cheese) Tart…Anyone?

DurianTart-6 DurianTart-8

I finally made Durian Cheesecake / Durian Tart on Friday after having long creative thoughts to change my Jackfruit Cheesecake recipe into a Durian one! The result was totally yum, just as good as the Jackfruit Cheesecake I’ve made with a hint of “Durian-ness”!!

If you are not familiar with Durian, this somewhat “scary” looking and thorny seasonal (typically from June-August) fruit is widely known as King Of Fruits in many South East Asian countries, i.e. Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, etc. Although this fruit look tough and thorny on the outside, the actual fruit in the inside is creamy, custardy, soft, slightly mushy and has a distinctive aroma that many found very overpowering and offensive. Durian is a fruit that you either would LOVE it or totally ABHOR it! Just mention durian, and you’ll send chills down the spine of those who loathe this fruit! My family and I (and thankfully my husband too) however absolutely adore Durian! My dad is always willing to fork out money to buy some good Durian. I vividly remember once we drove up to a Durian Farm in Balik Pulau (in Penang, Malaysia) just to fill up our tummy with Durian and filled the whole car trunk with good Durians worth several hundred ringgits!

Hotels in Malaysia and Singapore ban guests to bring Durian into their premises because this fruit leaves an aroma (or odor) that will linger around for hours!!! Most Westerners (and some locals) are terrified of the fruit and thought it stunk!

Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations and The Travel Channel surprisingly actually enjoy this pungent fruit and related his encounter with the fruit as thus: “Its taste can only be described as... indescribable, something you will either love or despise. ...Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother”. Apparently, Chef Andrew Zimmerman of Bizarre Food tried eating Durian twice, failed, spitted it out and compared it to, “completely rotten, mushy onions..”.

Durian trees are generally very large and tall, growing to 20-25 meters in height depending on the species. The Durian fruit itself are also large, grows up to 12 inch x 6 inch (usually the size of a Cantaloupe to a Watermelon) and can weigh from 2-7 lbs. In Malaysia, Durians are not plucked but rather picked from the ground (or from suspended nets) when the ripe Durians fall!

There are many different kind of Durian varieties available (in Malaysia) and they are all priced differently and have slightly different look on the outside, the inside and taste different from one variety to another! I just love Malaysian durians and unfortunately unable to get them in the US. The Durians we get in the US are mostly from Thailand and I feel not as fragrant as the ones in Malaysia, maybe because it’s always frozen! I love my durian fresh but can’t be too picky living in the US, so frozen Durians will have to make do! Here’re two pictures of the Durian, still frozen!

Durian Durian-1

It took me quite a while to remove the Durian fruit ( I did not thaw it long enough…) from the intimidating thorny husks without leaving me with cut fingers! I reserved some to eat it as is, and used some of it to create Durian Cheesecake based on my Jackfruit Cheesecake recipe! I needed to change measurements in some of the ingredients to make sure that I can taste the hint of the Durian in the cheesecake! Here’s a picture of the cheesecake before (left) and after (right) baking. I baked it in a removable tart pan which I thought looked very nice. Previously, I made the cheesecake in a regular spring foam cake pan.

DurianTart DurianTart-1

I am extremely extremely proud of this Durian Cheesecake creation….Here’s why! Rob (English) and Seyda (Turkish), who initially hated Durian and previously gagged trying to swallow a tiny piece of Durian fruit (both ended up spitting the fruit) ATE A WHOLE PIECE OF DURIAN CHEESECAKE! Chris (Filipino/American) who had tried Durian once and vowed to stay away from Durian, thought it was pretty good as well and also ate a whole piece! I offered them some whipped cream to help “dilute” and hide the durian taste, but all of them declined the cream and ate it as is!

Seyda was at first skeptical about Durian Cheesecake fearing that it would be a horrible repeat of eating the Durian fruit, Durian Chocolate (while in Malaysia) and Durian Dimsum dessert incidents. Her curiosity somehow conquered her fear and hesitation and she decided to try half a piece. To my surprise and hers, the taste was acceptable to her and she actually asked for MORE!!! Mind you, the Durian taste and smell is not really subtle in the cheesecake! On the other hand, all of us did not tell Rob the “actual” flavor of the Cheesecake thus just offered him a piece of “Cheesecake”. He ate it, savored it, DID NOT GAGGED (unlike the time he ate Durian fruit) and FINISHED IT! Rob commented that he thought there was a funky smell to the cheesecake but would have never guessed it was Durian!DurianTart-7I think I should start taking orders and selling this Durian Cheesecake! Chef Andrew Zimmerman, I DARE you to give June’s Durian Cheesecake a try!!!What do you think?!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shopping, Cooking Dinner And A 80s Party….

After our little brunch party, Seyda accompanied me to shop for some accessories needed to complete my 80s look for the party at night. I wasn’t sure what I was able to buy with a budget of $20, but I think I did pretty well! The best deals were a gold tote bag and sort of matching gold belt from Express for less than $8!! Those two items originally would have cost $20 and $50 each! That was one heck of a bargain! hehe! The rest of my $20 were spent on Pink / Fuschia fashion jewelries from Claires. 

When we got back, husband decided to attempt another round of New England Clam Chowder for dinner! All 3 of us went grocery shopping for ingredients to make dinner and worked together to prepare chowdah and fried ravioli to feed 7 people! Husband and I are happy with this batch of clam chowder, however we agreed that there’re still room for improvement! I don’t think we’ll see an end to the New England Clam Chowder in this household! =). No picture of the clam chowder, but I did take a snapshot of the Fried Ravioli – an easy recipe from Giada De Laurentiis from Food Network.Fried Ravioli After filling up with soup, raviolis and durian cheesecake, we got dressed and accessorized for the 80s themed birthday party in Boston! It was my first time going and participating in a themed party (besides Halloween), and it was very enthralling to see almost everyone dressed up in something from the 80s. Some went all out,and some a just a little… Nevertheless, it was really intriguing to see bursts of BRIGHT colors, all in the same room! Party started at the birthday boy’s place, a real bachelor’s pad with a basement filled with different entertainment and continuous flow of beer. Guests were either playing pool, drinking, playing beer pong or huddled in their own groups – chatting.80s Party-2The party later continued at a bar/ restaurant /club called Johnnie’s On The Side. All of us walked around town, crossed streets in vibrant 80s outfits and funky hairdos..=P…We indeed stopped traffic and painted Beantown red! =)….

80s Party       80s Party-1

Left the group a little earlier to get some late night supper in Chinatown. We ordered so much food and still managed to cleaned the plate….got home at 3.30am feeling that I just ate a whole whale (or was it just me?)…=P

Sunday, February 22, 2009

One (Almost) Perfect Brunch!

BrunchI invited Seyda over for brunch with husband and I on Saturday and made a variety of food to serve. I would say it was ALMOST perfect….. unfortunately I did not have Champagne to make it a Champagne Brunch, that would just be oh-so-fabulous and “Ritzy”??!

Here’s my brunch spread, served with freshly brewed coffee and orange juice. I browned some store bought frozen Maple Turkey Links and Hash Brown Patties. I also made some Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes from scratch! And the highlight for brunch was Salmon Eggs Benedict, also made from scratch! Brunch-1Here’s a close up of my Whole Wheat Pancakes with homemade Strawberry Sauce! Seyda loved the taste of the wheat in this moist pancake! The recipe is a keeper and I will definitely share this recipe soon!Brunch-2And my Salmon Eggs Benedict, a refreshing twist from the regular Egg Benedict that usually contain bacon or ham! The recipe was from a Williams-Sonoma Brunch Cookbook! The method described to make the Hollandaise in the Williams-Sonoma book looked kinda of confusing, so I ended up using Tyler Florence’s recipe to make the sauce. Even with this simpler steps, my first batch of Hollandaise sauce was a failure…..the heat was too high, and I ended up “scrambling” the egg mixture. It took a combined effort between Seyda and I to perfect the Hollandaise sauce! Brunch-4Well, won’t you agree that if only I have a bottle of bubbly Champagne…the morning brunch would have been perfect……. to kick off the rest of my Saturday! Seyda and I are determined to repeat another brunch affair, this time we’ll be sure to have some bubbly ready to serve it as is, or to make some Mimosas or Bellinis!..Yum..

Another Gluttonous, Sinful Weekend

The summary of our round the clock, non-stop eating and other fun stuff! This gluttony really has to stop! Husband and I are going on a soupy diet this whole week!

Friday - Big bucket of KFC for dinner and hung out at Chris’s new loft. Made Durian Cheesecake at midnight.

Saturday – Made whole spread of brunch for 3 and shopped for 80s stuff with Seyda. Made fried Ravioli and husband made a pot of clam chowder for dinner. Durian Cheesecake was quite a success, as both Durian lovers and non-Durian lovers liked it. Painted Beantown Boston red, wearing 80s outfits from 9.30pm – 1.30am. Late night supper in Chinatown after that and getting home at 3.30am.

Sunday – Brunch/Lunch at a Cambodian Restaurant. Watched basketball on TV. Went for early buffet dinner – celebration of friend’s new born baby boy. Now, on bed feeling like a fat pig and filled with guilt for eating too much!

More detailed postings coming right up!****Burp*****

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sago Gula Melaka

Updated: August 25, 2009.

I think this common Malaysian dessert that I made recently should to be nicknamed “Malaysian Tapioca Pudding”. This dessert is usually made from Sago pearls which looks exactly like Tapioca pearls, but derived from a different starch. Sago is a starch extracted from the pith of Sago Palm stems and Sago Pearls are widely used in South East Asian desserts. Tapioca on the other hand is a starch extracted from a root of a plant call Cassava. Tapioca starch is a very common thickening agent in cooking. Both Sago & Tapioca pearls are quite tasteless, odorless and are “springy” and slightly chewy when cooked. Hence these two pearls are used quite interchangeably. As I can’t find Sago Pearls here, I have resorted to use Tapioca Pearls in making the Sago Gula Melaka dessert. Therefore, shouldn’t I call it Tapioca Gula Melaka, Palm Sugar Tapioca, or Malaysian Tapioca Pudding? =PSago Gula MelakaGula Melaka (Palm Sugar) used in this dessert is commonly found in Malaysia. It’s dark brown in color and often cylindrical shaped. This is slightly different than the Palm Sugar from Thailand as they are often off white in color, round disc shaped and in my opinion has a stronger “coconuty” flavor. Malaysian Palm Sugar (left) can be found in specialty Malaysian Store (or Malaysian online grocer), while the Thai/Vietnamese Palm Sugar(right) can be found in most Asian Stores, especially the ones specializing in South East Asian food. Palm Sugar is used not only in South East Asian desserts, they are also used in savory dishes,i.e curry.

Palm Sugar Palm Sugar-1



  • 1/2 Cup Tapioca or Sago Pearls
  • 5 Cup Water
  • 125g Gula Melaka, chopped in small pieces (Ok to use brown sugar, if you can’t find this)
  • 2 pcs White Palm Sugar (**Optional)
  • 2 Pandan (Screwpine) leaves, knotted (**Optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Thick Coconut Milk


In a medium pot, boil 5 cups of water and knotted pandan leaves over medium heat. When water is boiling, add tapioca/sago pearls and stir for a couple seconds. Let the pearls boil for about 15 minutes (there should still be a white dot on each pearls). Then, turn off heat and cover for 10 minutes to let the sago cook completely. Pearls will turn translucent when cooked. Do not overcook the pearls as you will end up with a pot of gluey goo!!!! Remove Pandan leaves, strain pearls with a sieve and run cold water through, stir to cool and to separate the cooked pearls. Put them aside (in the sieve) and let water drain. Then, transfer these into a bowl or smaller individual bowls depending on your preference and chill in the fridge. I would reckon to chill the Sago/ Tapioca Pudding for at least 3 hours for the pearls to completely set.

While the pearls are chilling, add gula melaka, white palm sugar and about 4 Tbsp of water in a small pot. Cook the sugar mixture over low heat till sugar dissolves, and syrup is thick. Let cool.

Serve chilled sago / tapioca pudding with Gula Melaka syrup and coconut milk. This should serve 3-4 people! Enjoy this sugary coconuty goodness!!

Sago Gula Melaka-1I've shared this recipe with Vaishali from to participate in her vegan event: "It's a Vegan World: Malaysia (August 2009)". This would be a great vegan/vegetarian dessert recipe for some of you out there!.

Happy Birthday, Mom!


The Most Special Day

Mom,Your birthday is
the most special day of the year,
because without you I wouldn’t have
the all encompassing comfort
of a mother’s unconditional love…
your love, for me
You are always there for me, Mom.
Whenever I need you,
to cheer me up, make me smile,
bolster my confidence,
or sympathize with me and ease my worries,
you fill up my empty, hurting places
with your boundless affection.
Your loving presence in my life
gives me a reassuring feeling
of security and peace.
Thank you, Mom,
and Happy Birthday!

By Joanna Fuchs


I called mom to wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and started singing her the Birthday Song when she picked up the phone… I stopped after the first verse (Happy Birthday To You…)..thinking she got the message, only to have Mom say… “and then?”.. and prompted me to finish the song. So husband and I continued and did a small duet (over the phone) to finish the whole Birthday Song…for my special Momma…. =)…..Mom was at the market when I called, and so I teased her about wanting to hear the whole Birthday Song even though she was in the midst of shopping.… Ain’t my mom cute?

Happy Birthday, Mom! XOXO

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Noodles & Orzo – Yesterday & Today

Lazy to hit the local grocer, I’ve been semi-stretching my resources since I ran out of fresh vegetables and have very limited meat although abundant seafood. I prefer to serve both some vegetables and meat for each meal, you know doing the balance thing with vitamins, protein…yadi yada.. I think I succeeded in avoiding the grocery store this week, since the weekend is here and we’re going to eat out tomorrow onwards. Although, I actually need to make a run to an Asian grocery store for some DURIAN, to make Durian Cheesecake!!!!=P

Last night, I made some Asian Noodles using whatever I have in my fridge, freezer and pantry. I cooked some dried Asian noodles (made from Soybean) that looked like fettuccine along with a chicken leg (the last piece of meat in my freezer) and some Shitake Mushrooms. Also made some wonton filled with frozen fish paste and chopped scallions, then cooked it in boiling water. Sauce for the noodle was rather simple as it’s just a mixture of garlic oil (with fried garlic), sweet soy sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper and some boiling water. Right before serving, I tossed the noodle in the sauce, topped it up with shredded chicken and sliced mushroom, threw in some cooked wontons, and finally sprinkled some chopped scallions and bits of toasted sesame. The result…complete satisfaction! =)NoodlesTonight’s dinner is something I would like to call “East Meets West” with Malaysian Curry Fish served on a bed of garlic Orzo. I cooked some garlic butter Orzo and added some frozen vegetables mix. Then I added a pan fried Salmon steak (cut into half) into a pan of simmering Malaysian (Indian curry) and finished it up with COCONUT MILK…hehe! The Malaysia (Indian) Curry was a store bought (A1 brand) paste which I always have handy in my pantry. =) Another easy yummy dinner!


A Persimmon A Day….

Persimmons-1 Keeps all doctors away…I hope! Persimmon is one of my (and my family’s) favorite fruit and I ALWAYS eat it fresh (with the skin on). The skin is crunchy and the flesh is oh-so-honey-sweet and smooth! The ones we get in Malaysia are usually very sweet (and still firm to the touch), which now I found out are the Non-Astringent ones.

Anyway, during our to NYC recently, I picked up a basket of mini persimmons labeled as Sharon Fruit. The curiosity in me sparked me to do some googling around to find out the story behind the name. Sources from the Internet mentioned that Sharon Fruit, is a variation of seedless Fuyu Persimmon mostly grown in Israel and is known as the world’s sweetest Persimmon!

I found out that there are actually 2 kinds of persimmons, astringent and non-astringent. According to Wikipedia; “The heart-shaped Hachiya is the most common variety of astringent persimmon. Astringent persimmons contain very high levels of soluble tannins and are unpalatable if eaten before softening. The astringency of tannins is removed through ripening by exposure to light over several days, or artificially with chemicals such as alcohol and carbon dioxide which change tannin into the insoluble form. This bletting process is sometimes jumpstarted by exposing the fruit to cold or frost which hastens cellular wall breakdown. These astringent persimmons can also be prepared for commercial purposes by drying.

The non-astringent persimmon is squat like a tomato and is most commonly sold as fuyu. Non-astringent persimmons are not actually free of tannins as the term suggests, but rather are far less astringent before ripening, and lose more of their tannic quality sooner. Non-astringent persimmons may be consumed when still very firm to very very soft.”

Now that explains, the bitter chalky taste of the Persimmons (Astringent) my family and I ate in Australia. They were being sold on the streets and looked so good! But our first bites into that shiny orangy fresh persimmons left us puckering up with a bad impression of Australian Persimmons! If only we had known better at that time!

Let me share a little history of Persimmons before I go on telling you the health benefits of eating them! This is an excerpt from : “Persimmon is known in the Far East as the "Chinese apple". Its scientific name, Diospyros, means "food of the Gods". The original fruit is native to China and it was introduced to Japan 1300 years ago, to Europe in 1600 and to the USA in 1800.”

Now to the healthy benefits of eating (taken from various sources on the internet) these tomato like oh-honey-sweet fruits…. A Persimmon contains twice as much fiber than apple, and therefore has positive effect on the cholesterol level with the soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. It also contains antioxidants such as carotenoids and polyphenols which may also affect fat metabolism. A study conducted in Japan also showed that the peel of the persimmon contains phytochemicals known as proanthocyanidins which may protect cells against oxidative damage associated with aging. Persimmons are also good for your heart as it reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke. Besides that, the fruit also is a good source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and iron, vitamin A and C, good for your lung, relieve diarrhea, treat hypertension, senile asthma and cough with mucus.

Go ahead, pick up some Persimmons (or Sharon Fruits) today!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

V-Day Flowers Update

I promised to snap pictures of the V-Day flowers I receive from husband once they are in full bloom…Unfortunately, I don’t think all of them will fully bloom at the same time as I now have half shriveled Iris, fully bloomed Stargazer Lilies and some (Iris & Liles) still pushing to open up. I think by the time all of them bloom, I will have very nasty looking Irises..=P… but the Lilies do compensate with the wonderful scent!

Here’s a picture of the flowers when I got them: Flowers-2 And this picture below was taken 2 days ago….now, most of my Irises are wrinkly crinkly!Flowers-3

My Sea Monkey

Puffer-6OK..Sea Monkey is probably not the right term to call Beanie, my Puffer Fish….but it really really did reminded me of a monkey in the sea!! Apparently, Sea Monkey is actually a nickname / term for a variant of brine shrimp…… But just look at the way he’s chilling!!! Just like a MONKEY!!! I found him yesterday morning hanging upside down, with his tail curled and hooked to a fake plant stem…….It was so cute!!! If I had not known better, I would have thought something bad had happened to him as he did not move (except for his eyes). =). Beanie kept his position for quite a bit, long enough for me to grab my camera and click away. This guy probably got annoyed with all the flashes from the camera and swam away shortly after that... Click on picture to view a bigger image of Beanie, my Puffer Fish!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Breakfast For Dinner

Have you ever had breakfast for dinner or supper? It’s not uncommon for me to do so and tonite was one of the breakfast for dinner night – Omelette (with home fries) to be exact. Not really the healthiest omelette with all the eggs, butter, whole cheese, whole milk and Kielbasa Sausages…..but I did try to balance it out with lots of vege - onion, chopped spinach and tomatoes…=)…. I was a little ambitious trying to make this omelette using 3 eggs per omellete / per person! 3 eggs in each omellete proved a little too much after all the ingredients were added in and I had to cut the omellete into half to share. Made another batch of 3 eggs omelette since I already have the ingredients prepared and kept the uneaten portion for breakfast tomorrow .=)

Omelette-1 Omelette

And since we’re talking dinner…….last night I requested my husband to make dinner since he did so well cooking Valentine’s Day dinner…..=P….I told him that I wanna eat scallops with Rum Mushroom sauce! =)..It was a semi combine effort but hubby did most of the cooking….All I did was cut up some mushroom and pan seared scallops. Quite a fancy dinner with Pan Seared Scallops & Rum Mushroom Sauce served on a bed of Rice Pilaf…..yummy..yummy…I’m happy!

Dinner-8For dessert, I made some Strawberry Compote to serve with Rob’s Cheesecake from V-Day!. To top things up, we even had some bubbly Champagne! Just perfect!


Pineapple Roll Recipe

Updated February 11, 2013

Pineapple Rolls (Crust pattern made using grooved rolling pin)

Pineapple Tart
Pineapple Rolls (Crust pattern made using a chef's knife; crust was a little too thick here)

A little birdie told me that her sister would like the recipe for the Pineapple Rolls I made for Chinese New Year….. I discovered the Pineapple Roll recipe from Lily of Lily’s Wai Sek Hong, a food blog I frequent for amazing and easy to follow recipes!

Here’s the recipe I used to make my CNY Pineapple Rolls…...


**Pineapple Filling/Jam (To be made one day ahead before making the rolls).
  • 4 Cans 20 ozs pineapple crushed/chunks(drain and pulse in food processor until fine)
    sugar (amount of sugar should be equal to the pineapple pulp e.g. 1 cup pineapple pulp to 1 cup sugar. 3/4 cup of sugar will be acceptable as the canned pineapples do tend to be sweeter than fresh ones)
  • 1 Tbsp of lime/lemon juice
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon bark
  • 6 Cloves
  • 1 Segment of star anise
Put all the ingredients in a big round microwavable bowl and microwave on high. Start with 15 mins, stir well, high for another 15 mins x 2. If jam is still runny, microwave at 1 min at a time until it is thick but still wet. It will thicken and dry out when it is cooled. If jam has gone too dry, just add enough water, stir well to dilute. Jam for filling should not be too dry as it will dry further when the tarts are baking. (The timing in the microwave is for making 4 cans of pineapples, so if you intend to try making with one can only, then the time taken in the microwave should be very much shorter).

Let the pineapple jam cool and refrigerate overnight. Roll the jam into little balls (about 3/4 tsp) and set aside use.

June’s Notes: I cooked my jam filling in a saucepan, over medium heat stirring constantly till the pineapples turn slightly dark yellow and is no longer runny. I don’t remember how long I cooked it for though!

  • 250 gm Butter 
  • 60 gm Icing(powdered) sugar
  • 440 gm All purpose flour (remove 4 tbsp and replace with corn flour)
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla essence
  • 1 Egg yolk + 1 tsp water for glazing
Cream butter with icing sugar until light. Add in egg yolk and vanilla and cream until combine. Add in the flour and mix into a dough. Rest down for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Roll out dough to 5mm thickness using grooved rolling pin to get a striped pattern, then roll diagonally to form checked pattern. Cut into strips (about 1" x 2-1/2"), turn pattern over, fill the middle section with pineapple jam, roll/fold each end of the pastry to cover the jam (I adjusted the jam filling (add or reducing) to make sure that the pastry can close up- just nice (to avoid gaps or overlapping of pastry). Repeat. Glaze and bake in preheated oven @ 350 F/180 C for 15 minutes.

June’s Notes: I did not use grooved rolling pin to create the pattern. Instead, I use a chef’s knife and gently score the pastry diagonally to create the checked pattern. You do not want to cut / score the pastry too deep, as it will make it hard for you to wrap the jam later. For my pineapple rolls, I cut the scored pastries into strips of 1” x 2-1/2”. Then I filled it with about 1/2 tsp of jam in each strip and roll the pastry over to close it up. I adjust the jam filling (add or reducing) to make sure that the pastry can close up- just nice (to avoid gaps or overlapping of pastry). I believe that I doubled or tripled the crust recipe in order to use up all the jam filling!
Good Luck! =). Please send me some when y
Simply June ou make them! =P
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