Category Archives: Sunday Night Theme

A Birthday Wrapped up in a Pseudo Red Velvet Cake :)

It was Sammy’s birthday (few weeks ago!)!! She turned a quarter of a century old and it was definitely time to celebrate!

We started off the celebrations in the weekend with her special request of a red velvet birthday cake. All well and good – if only I knew what went into a red velvet cake! Colouring? Dye? Few vegetables mixed together? So here I am a novice, armed with Dr.Google searching for the easist red-velvet cake recipe that I could find.

BUT who knew that a red cake can be so complicated? From research, many bloggers argue about what is and what isn’t a red velvet cake and different people put different things to make the cake red – most people (including the recipe found in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook) use red colouring to make the cake red, which technically would be the easier option, but was told, not the tastiest option.

Which way to go was confirmed when Miss Sammy said that she wanted a red velvet cake au naturale (I know, how picky right?!?!). So I throw away that thought of red dye in my sponge and start the research for red velvet cake from scratch, pressing all the ‘x’s on my tabs for those that had red dyes in their recipe.

From the recipes and some blog posts that we have found, it looks like it depends on the acidity of the cake that produces that red colour. Too little acidity, and the cake will turn to ‘purple satin’ or dark brown (almost chocolatey like) – so the key to create and maintain that red colour is…use the reddest natural vegetable/fruit you can find, and maintain the acidity in the cake. YUP! sounds easy enough…RIGHT?

Because I had no experience baking a red velvet cake, I used the recipe from Sophistimum (thank you! It was an awesome recipe! And yours looked MUCH better!) pretty much word for word, except for the natural cocoa which I didn’t have, but I have read that it is crucial that you use natural instead of dutch-processed cocoa because that maintains the acidity in the cake. Hence the result of my rich, dark PURPLE cake. I have to find this natural cocoa! But the result was so GOOD, so moist and so rich, and for those who don’t like beetroot, you can hardly taste it in the cake. I would definitely try this again, and this time with natural cocoa (because I found where I can buy it – Koko Black!). Next time, it will be called High Class Red Velvet Cake…

Natural Red Velvet Cake - No Colouring

Red Velvet Cake (Adapted from Sophistimum)

2 large beetroots (enough for 1 1/2 cups puree)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
230g unsalted butter, softened
250g of cream cheese, softened slightly
2 cups castor sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons natural (not dark or dutch processed) cocoa powder


  1. Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees celcius. Cut up the beetroot into large chunks and then place them on a roasting tray and pour in a cup of water. Then, roast the beetroot for about an hour until cooked through and soft, then take it out to let it cool.
  2. Meanwhile, line the bases and sides of 3 cake pans with baking paper and set aside.
  3. When the beetroot has cooled down, blend and puree the beetroot along with the lemon juice and vinegar in your handy food processor until you have a lovely puree of beetroot (yummm – some members in my family will beg to differ!)
  4. Preheat your oven again to 180 degrees celcius. In your mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth, and then add in the sugar until the batter is well combined.
  5. Add the eggs in one at a time into the batter, just incorporating the egg into the batter before adding another one in. Then mix in the vanilla essence.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder). Then add the dry ingredients in the beetroot batter and fold until well combined.
  7. Then, divide the cake batter equally into the 3 prepared pans. We used measuring cups to help us divide them up equally, but you don’t have to be so OCD like us!
  8. Then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through (you’d know when you put in a toothpick or skewer through the middle of the cake and it comes out clean). Then invert them onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 packets cream cheese, at room temperature
230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Using a whisk attachment, combine all of the above into the bowl of your mixer and mix until fluffy, smooth and enough to be spreadable.


Decorations were simple for Sammy’s cake – all I did was buy boxed marzipan (from one of the shelves off Coles) and red dye. Then I infused the marzipan with the red dye until the desired colour (remember to use gloves when doing this, or you get blood on your hands!! sorry, bad joke). And then I rolled it out and used flower cutters to cut out the outer layer and a nozzle tip to make the round, circular middle. Then decorate it around the cake as desired! My inspiration came from…believe it or not Bakery Story (iphone game!).


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Sunday Night Roast

Opps, it’s almost another Sunday and we haven’t posted what we had LAST Sunday! I think we got totally distracted by the daily screenings of Masterchef…YES! I am using Masterchef as an excuse! If you watched it…how good was yesterday’s episode? It was their time to showcase what they could cook and most of the dishes were so different – all of them looked amazing and a far cry from that one episode of Masterchef USA that I watched (terrible plating). I thought Billy’s (Asian, from Sydney, food blogger, designer) twice cooked pork belly looked great – and was so happy that they posted his recipe up online! I think we will definitely try it one day…

Coincidentally, we Esthey cooked pork last Sunday too…once again, Esthey was the Iron Chef who cooked most of the dishes that made up our Sunday night feast. We had less people this week – many were away, some were sick etc, but the amount of food remained the same – funny that huh.

Sunday Night feast BBQ Pork Roast Pork Tofu CAbbage soup

Esthey made Roast Pork – and this is what I gleamed from Sammy was the process; it was marinated with five spice powder and the skin part was covered in salt (for the crackle); people sometimes boil the pork first before putting it in the oven. When it came out, the skin wasn’t that crispy so what Esthey did was pan fry the skin a little to crisp it up a bit. The result? Crunchy pork crackle with tender meat…yummm…definitely a contender to Chinese Restaurants that’s for sure!

Roast Pork Siu Yok

She also made BBQ Pork, or also known as Char siu (can anyone guess the theme by now?) – which she marinated with Char Siu sauce and put into the oven – we realized that it’s better to use the Pork Belly for Char Siu because it makes it more tender. And would be better to have 2 ovens, because of the different temperatures that the meat has to be cooked. No matter – still tasted good anyway! Just dry in some bits, but someone (DEB!) happily picked on the dry bits 🙂

Esthey also made (along with the two pork dishes), a HUGE pot of soup, a tofu dish and a token vegetable dish in the form of cabbage. Phew, I feel tired just talking about it, let alone cooking it – so well done Esthey, you are indeed a Kitchen Superwoman! 🙂

Tofu with Coriander

Meanwhile, Sammy used leftover green apples to make a quick apple crumble…was delish! 🙂 You can find a recipe of apple crumble here.

 Apples with cinnamon before the crumble

It is a great dessert to make, especially when you are short of time and have leftover apples, pears or rhubarb lying around 🙂 We added some leftover oats that were meant for a souffle, which was great because it added that crunch to the crumble layer. And of course, we topped it off with vanilla ice-cream – match made in heaven!

Apple Crumble with Ice-Cream

And then we sat down to our meal whilst we watched the premiere of Masterchef Australia (Season 3)..which is shaping up to be quite an interesting season – what with a middle-aged flirty mum, a gorgeously cute 62 year old man, not one but 2 food bloggers, and the rise of another Jono…! An interesting mix of people, and very entertaining to watch at this stage…and all in Week 1! Can’t wait for Masterclass tonight..this is where we pick up a lot of handy tips in the kitchen…who’s watching with me?


Posted by on May 6, 2011 in Malaysian, Sunday Night Theme


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Sunday Night Theme: Dumplings Cooked Two Ways

Pork Prawn and Chives dumpling wrapped pre-cooked

Sunday night’s theme was decided since last week, when someone suggested we should make dumplings, and the immediate reaction was “yummmm”, so dumplings it was! For this theme, we worked on the “many hands make light work” principle and thanks to the many hands, the wrapping of the dumplings were not as tedious as previously thought.

I have always remembered eating dumplings when I was little, and in many different forms. One of my favourite is Won Ton Mee (egg noodles cooked in either soup or black sauce with little yellow pork dumplings as its sides). I like mine dry (non-soup), with lots of flavoursome sauce and soft but chewy dumplings…yumm! We also eat them during Dim Sum, either in forms of Fried Wontons or Gao Jis (Chinese) – pan fried pork dumplings with white skin eaten with chinese vinegar and ginger. Yumm! I’m hungry just thinking about it!

For our dumplings, we made them out of pork mince, prawns, chinese mushrooms, ginger, chives (all diced well) and chestnuts as the main ingredients and seasoned well with salt, pepper, soya sauce, shao xing wine and combined together with corn flour. Then get in there and mix it with your hands (the only way to do it!) until well combined. If you want a more detailed recipe, then follow this blog here.

Dumpling mixture pork mince chives mushroom ginger

Then comes the fun part, making the dumplings! We used two different kinds of wrapping skin (no, we didn’t make them, we just bought them from the oriental store), wonton skin and gyoza skin because we couldn’t find the white dumpling skin.

For a full demonstration of how to wrap the dumplings you can refer to various youtube videos that are similar to how we made it. There are quite a few ways to go about making it, so choose one that is easiest or will suit you.

Otherwise you can take private lessons from Esthey who seemed to make a perfect one from the get go! Should have seen the rest of us struggling to get the dumplings look as nice as Esthey’s. She made it look so easy when she demonstrated it to us, but once it came to making mine, it just looked funny and out of shape.

Apparently the tricks are to:

1. Not to fill it up with too much filling (or they will fall out or not be able to seal properly)
2. Wet the edges of the skin with cornflour and water
3. When choosing to crimp the dumpling, only pinch the pastry on one side
4. To make it look pretty, make sure the pinches are heading towards the middle of the dumpling
5. You can tuck in the ends together to make it look neater
6. The shape you would want the dumpling in, is a crescent shape
7. Make sure you seal it well, or it will spill when its boiled, or pop when its fried!

I think we made about 110 dumplings that night, and it didn’t take as long as I had initially expected (well done to all the dumpling wrappers! ours didn’t look great in the beginning, but they certainly took shape at the 20th dumpling – so kudos!). Esthey pan fried half of the dumplings, and Sammy boiled the rest of them.

Pan Fried Dumplings

To complete the meal, we had soup (which Esthey boiled for a few hours with pork bones), noodles, and chinese cabbage. The dumplings didn’t sound like a lot, but they were GONE in a matter of minutes – they were that good! The boiled ones had enough flavour and they were not overdone (so it was nice and soft).

Noodles with Dumpling Gao Ji wantan Wonton soup chinese cabbage

The pan fried gao jis were the hit of the night…! They were cooked so well – crispy skin on the outside with yummy pork on the inside and dipped with Esthey’s amazing concoction of a dipping sauce (fried chilli, onions, dark soy sauce, soy sauce and red wine vinegar, ginger?). It was soooo good and tasty! Paired perfectly with our noodles.

Dipping sauce for dumplings

Now, if only our soup was perfect….! In our haste and hunger to feed the masses, we realized that the soup wasn’t enough, so we added more water to it, and started dishing them out into the bowls…only to realize that we didn’t add SALT. Wow, what a difference it would have made because the soup was so sweet…! But it didn’t matter much because the king of the dish was the dumplings, and they tasted so good that i forgot about the soup anyway!

Well done to Esthey for once again preparing, cooking and making all the little side dishes/dipping sauces etc, and then you beat everyone else to helping Aunty Kit wash up (if aunty kit wasn’t there, you’d probably would have taken over!) You are indeed, in many ways, a wonderwoman in my eyes 😀 YOU ROCK ESTHEY!

Pork and Chives Dumplings Gao Ji wrapped

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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Malaysian, Savoury, Sunday Night Theme


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Getting Ready for Easter: Chocolate & Ginger Easter Egg Tart

Easter is less than 5 days away and I am SO excited – not just for the super long weekend – but because we can celebrate the victory that we have over death and sin through Jesus’ death and resurrection – and it’s a celebration of a new life that everyone can have through Jesus! So yes! I’m REALLY excited 😀 We often celebrate Good Friday and Easter as a solemn reminder (well, the church background that I come from does anyway), but I reckon Easter should be a joyous occasion, a celebration because our greatest enemy has been defeated, not by ourselves, but by our Saviour! What is there NOT to celebrate?

These past few years have been a steep learning curve spiritually because God has been reminding me about the centrality of the cross and how Jesus dying on the cross is not about me, but about Him and how He wants to glorify the Father’s name, and calls me to do the same. So it will be a special time and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Now, I don’t really know where this tradition of eggs, chocolate and bunnies came from, and how it was suddenly connected to celebrating Easter, but a quick read from Wikipedia tells me that Easter eggs may have started from the traditions of when Christians were ‘celebrating’ Lent, they were not allowed to eat dairy (including eggs) so come Easter Sunday, they had to use up all their eggs (which they ate hard boiled at that time) as part of a Clean-Up day. Another view is that it could be from the symbolism created by the Catholic church where they dye their eggs red to represent the blood of Christ, and the shell of the egg represents the tomb and when they crack the egg open, it represents the new life in Jesus and his resurrection. I don’t know which is true, or if any are true and there are many other legends connected to this as well, which I found a fascinating read, but adds nothing to the meaning of Easter I think 😛

Chocolate Ginger Easter Egg Tart Chocolate Crust Pastry

So anyway, back to the tart – I chose to make this tart because as I was reading through the Masterchef Magazine, and this was the recipe that struck me because it uses ginger in dessert. Chinese usually do include ginger in their savouries and sometimes their sweets, because ginger, in itself, has nutritional qualities especially for confinement periods after giving birth! So, putting ginger into a dessert isn’t very unusual, but what was interesting was ginger in a western dessert. I tried to picture in my head what it would taste like, but because I didn’t normally like ginger, it was difficult for me not be biased against it. But I went against my own notions about eating ginger and went ahead and tried it anyway, because it looked so good in the magazine!

This is Marion Grasby’s recipe, and I whilst I followed the ingredients, our methods differed a little…this was how I did it last week!

Chocolate and Ginger Easter Egg Tart

  • Preparation Time: 2 hours
  • Setting Time: 2 hours
  • Serves: 10

Ingredients for Pastry:

  • 125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 185 g (1 1/4 cup) Plain Flour
  • 25g (1/4 cup) Cocoa powder
  • 55g (1/3 cup) icing sugar
  • 2 egg yolks


Line a 23cm tart pan and butter the sides well (especially when its not non-stick)

Combine the dry ingredients (butter, flour, cocoa powder, icing sugar) together in a food processor and blitz until it becomes like breadcrumbs. Then add in the 2 egg yolks and blitz together until it forms a dough. (I forgot to separate the above two steps, and blitzed everything together, which was fine, but it just didn’t mix that well, so I would recommend combining the dry ingredients first).

chocolate short crust pastry dry ingredients food processor

Just a tip I learnt about separating egg whites from yolks (which is probably old news for some), crack the egg horizontally  directly on the benchtop (not at an angle on a bowl like I used to). By doing that, you would get a perfect crack around the egg, making it easier to pry it open to take the yolk out. Awesome tip from Lifehacker!

Chocolate shortcrust pastry just formed food processor

Once the dough is formed, tip it out onto a clean counter top and form it together into a disc (round-ish) shape. Wrap it in cling wrap and then place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Then, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (celcius). After 30 minutes, take it out of the wrapper and if you are so inclined to roll it out, you can roll it out and then place it onto the prepared tart pan.

Another Tip: But if you want to do it the lazy easier way, try this method instead. I like this method better because shortcrust pastry can be really crumbly and it’s quite difficult to roll out without it crumbling everywhere. Place the whole piece of pastry on the tart pan (ideally you would have shaped it into a flat disc) and press and shape the pastry into the tart pan making sure that its spread evenly.

chocolate shortcrust pastry pressed in pan

Then, poke a few holes onto the pastry with a fork and place it back into the fridge for another 20 minutes. Then take it out of the fridge, place a piece of baking paper onto the pastry and fill it with pie weights or rice. Then bake it in the oven for about 15 -20 minutes until its cooked. Let the pastry cool down. While it cools, you can start on the filling.

Ingredients for Chocolate and Ginger Filling

  • 250ml (1cup) cream
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 350g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 125g glace ginger (sliced – if you like ginger, than bigger chunks, but if not, then dice into smaller pieces)
Glace ginger crystallized ginger sliced

In a saucepan, mix together cream, ground ginger and butter and stir with medium heat. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl…

Chopped chocolate heatproof bowl

…and just when the cream mixture starts to boil, pour the cream mixture onto the chocolate and stir until it completely melts. Stir in the glaced ginger and when mixed well, pour the filling into the cooled pastry tart.

chocolate ganache ginger glace mixture

Place the tart into the fridge and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until set. Then use Easter eggs to decorate it however you like! Just don’t be like me and use complementing chocolate flavours instead (i used mint chocolate and it didn’t really go together)

Marion Grasby's Chocolate and Ginger Easter Egg Tart Mint Chocolate Eggs

The ginger tart was…interesting. I didn’t like ginger that much, but in the chocolate tart it was not too bad – the chocolate seemed to mask the ‘bite’ that ginger has, but yet still has the taste. I realized how much ginger we had that night, and on top of it was more ginger in the dessert (that was totally coincidental). Those who loved ginger loved the tart, but those who didn’t mind it seemed to like it as well…but those that didn’t like ginger…hmm, I think they would have just preferred the chocolate part of it 🙂 I’m glad I tried to make it though, was an interesting experience and also it was a relatively simple tart to make. I have to say, the chocolate shortcrust pastry rocks..! I will definitely make it again the next time.

ps. How do you like our new theme?? I think we will stick with this for awhile!


Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Cookbooks, Desserts, Sunday Night Theme


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Sunday Night Theme: It’s all about the Pies

The theme for Sunday night was fuelled by a member in our group who was sick of Chinese food (*shock horror!*), so we decided to have something western and “supposedly” simple. I say supposedly because our dinners go from a traditionally simple idea, to full on elaborate meals requiring various side dishes making it a full blown banquet!

Sammy and I didn’t do ANY cooking this time round, which was a bit strange for us, but  a break is always welcome since we made Loh Mai Kai and Ji Dan Gao (post still to come) that same day! So if you’re looking for recipes, we don’t have any unfortunately, unless our friends who cooked are so inclined to share them with us. The food was delicious that night, and everything looked and tasted great! We had two different pies, made by two people, made in different ways (interestingly!).

This is the curry puff pie :D, looks like a pie from the outside, but tastes like a curry puff inside, made by Lisa.  They were made using a Pie Maker, hence the perfectly shaped and browned pie. If you are a pie lover, and need an additional appliance just to make up your bare kitchen, this is probably one for you! From what I observed that day, it was pretty simple to use. It comes with cutters so that you can cut your pastry the perfect size, then you fill it up with your filling of choice and then there’s another cutter for you to cut your puff pastry for the top of the pie, put them together, press them down like a sandwich press and voila! You have four pies! Amazing…!

curry puff pie pastry pie maker

The other pie (which was AWESOME by the way), was a beef and potato pie. The filling was stewed for many hours and the beef was so tender and tasty and the potato added to the creaminess of the pie. It was so good, I couldn’t help but go for seconds! Well done Lindsey!!

beef and potato pie

Lindsey also made her signature dish – the classic caesar salad with a twist. Both the salad and the beef pie were an adaptation from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh, Simple cookbook (best gift ever Lindsey!). This seems to be my favourite phrase, but “there is just something about that sauce!” but in this case, it’s the dressing that was a standout – it was creamy, yet complimentary to the fresh salad and even though there wasn’t any ‘real’ bacon or croutons, we polished the TWO large bowls of caesar salad clean! yuumm..always looking forward to Lindsey’s caesar salad!

Caesar salad cos lettuce bacon

And last but definitely not least, Michelle baked sticky date puddings (yea, I know they weren’t technically pies..but we’ll let that one slide :P). I don’t know where she got the recipe from but it was soooo good! It was one of the best desserts that I’ve tasted – it was baked perfectly, crusty on the outside but so moist and sweet and full of dates on the inside, and paired together with cold vanilla ice-cream – they were a match made in heaven!!

Sticky Date Pudding vanilla ice cream dessert

My goodness, I was so full that night, and hubby wasn’t there to eat my leftovers either…so, in reference to our topic our conversation that night…I definitely had a baby…a FOOD baby!! *pats tummy* Bring on Sunday!!

ps. Thanks to Deb for taking such awesome pictures for us 🙂


Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Sunday Night Theme


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Sunday Night Theme: Phrata & Curry Night

Every Sunday night, a group of us get together to have dinner, and when we do, we try and cook a themed dinner just so we get to eat a variety of food. This week was Phrata and Curry Night, or better known to Malaysians as Roti Canai night (yea, i know, I don’t know when did I start to talk like a Singaporean!). We’ve done this theme before but it was a rerun special because it was Lisa’s ‘surprise’ birthday party. I say it in inverted commas because someone in our group keeps letting the cat out of the bag…

We brought Vegetable Curry (not made from scratch unfortunately!), we didn’t really have the time. So we cheated a little by using Tean’s Gourmet Vegetable Curry paste – they are an AWESOME brand of asian sauces and we keep buying them because they are the closest to the real thing back home. We’ve tried the Prawn Mee and Curry Laksa – and its yummmm.


So with this dish, all Sammy did was throw in the vegetables (mixture of cabbage, lady fingers, brinjal, carrot etc), a few curry leaves and the paste – and leave it to boil – and voila!

There were other curries that night as well – Green curry, chicken curry and Esthey’s AWESOME rendang. From memory, she used a packet sauce as well, but she cooked it in a pressure cooker – and it was soooo tender and flavoursome! Ben & Lindz bought Garlic Naan and Butter Chicken from Gopi Curry Leaf  (we found out about Gopi through TFP, and didn’t realize such a great eatery was so close to us! )Plus we did fry up a packet of Phratas (those that you get in the frozen aisle of your local oriental shop). Needless to say there was a lot of food that night!

This was my plate of food – and yes, I was greedy, but the food was good! I had a bit of everything…and went back to the Garlic Naan for seconds…and thirds…

Just something random but we were drinking Cruisers that night, and guess what we found?

(You probably can’t see it that clearly, but it reads “What was Lindsay Lohan’s first movie?” If you were born in my generation you would probably know its The Parent Trap.) Since when did they have Odd Spots on Cruiser bottle caps?? Brings back images of Libra pads and the little “aha” moments in the toilet…but I digress.. 😛

We bought a demanded requested cake from Lisa from Francois (cake shop in Leederville), the Chocolate Truffle Cake. Such a beautifully decorated cake! If only I had the patience!! It is, I think,  one of the best chocolate mousse cakes I’ve tasted – It has 3 layers – chocolate mousse, covered by a layer of chocolate fudge on top of a layer of chocolate filled pralines. I like the different textures of the cake, from the crunch of the pralines and the richness and smoothness of the mousse – if only it wasn’t too rich I could have eaten more!

It was a great night, was stuffed to the brim, as like all our Sunday Night Themes 🙂 But it was special because it was Lisa’s birthday (Happy Birthday SHISTA!!)…hope you had a great day Lisa, and even though our surprises didn’t really turn out like we planned, it was fun and we hope you liked it! And big shout out to Esthey for organizing and running around and doing everything!! 🙂


Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Malaysian, Savoury, Sunday Night Theme


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