Thai Tea series - Part II Thai Tea Cookies

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Thai Tea series - Part I Thai Milk Tea Chiffon Cake

For part II of my Thai Tea series, I decided to do a simple Thai Tea Cookies because I was craving for some munchies :p

Instead of exploring new recipes, I just use my Teddy Bear Cookies recipe and add ground tea leaves instead.


Thai Tea Cookies
(makes 20-25 cookies)

Ingredients
  • 100g cake flour
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp Thai tea leaves
  • 1 tbsp egg
  • 1 tsp Thai milk tea
Steps
  1. Sieve cake flour and icing sugar together. Set aside.
  2. Pound/grind the tea leaves into fine powder.
  3. Melt butter in a small pot and add tea powder. Let the tea infuse in the butter while the butter cools down for about 10-15 mins. Chill the infused butter in the fridge till it solidifies.
  4. Remove the infused butter from the fridge and scrap the butter into the flour mixture.
  5. Use the finger tips to rub the butter with the flour mixture till it resembles coarse crumbs.
  6. Add egg and milk tea, bring the dough together using spatula till dough forms.
  7. Place the dough in between 2 clear plastic sheets. Roll and flatten to about 4mm thickness. Chill the dough sheet in fridge for at least 30 mins.
  8. Preheat oven to 170 degree celsius fan mode.
  9. Remove dough sheet from fridge, cut to desired shapes and repeat till all dough use up.
  10. Bake at 170 degree celsius fan mode for about 13-15 mins.
  11. Let the cookies cool completely before storing in airtight container.



Besides the conventional round shape, I cut some dough into teabag shapes and after baking, tie the cookies with a string attached to mini labels. I thought they looked adorable this way :)

The cookies have a lovely thai tea aroma but taste-wise just a whiff of it. Probably I could add more tea leaves (for the butter infusion) or more Thai Milk Tea to the dough. Alternatively, dip the cookies with some thai milk tea sauce. But meanwhile, I'm happy to enjoy them with some Thai Milk Tea :)

Thai Tea series - Part I Thai Milk Tea Chiffon (Cooked Dough Method)

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Did anyone visit Artbox Singapore at Marina Bayfront last weekend or intend to go this weekend? I've not been to the one in Bangkok; thus it was a must-go for me and I did last Friday. Didn't expect such a huge crowd and by the time I finished browsing all the merchandise stalls, the queues for the food stalls were horrendous that we didn't even know how to start? In the end, only managed to buy a "Dragon's Breath" puff cracker snack which is actually over-rated, more for the novelty. And so, while I was happy with my shopping loot, was quite disappointed that I didn't get to eat some of the more famous Thai street snacks and desserts like egglet with Thai Milk Tea ice-cream or even any Thai Milk Tea.

I digress.

So recently I was madly in love with Thai Milk Tea; bought 2 canisters of the red and gold tea from my previous trip to Samui and have been making the drink every other day. Didn't make it as sweet as the authentic ones but the fragrance alone is enough for me. 

Anyways, was inspired to explore a series of bakes and desserts using Thai Tea :)

The very first one is Thai Milk Tea Chiffon Cake using cooked dough method. Baked a Pandan Chiffon Cake using the cooked dough method some time back (I have to post that recipe soon!) and really love the super moist and soft texture of the cake.

But it's rather tricky to get the correct proportion. This was my second attempt; for the first attempt, my cooked dough was too dry and I had too little liquid (milk tea) so ended up with a hard cake. Somehow, the milk tea got absorbed into the cooked dough very quickly and luckily this time I prepared a larger portion of milk tea to add into the cooked dough. Very glad that the cake turned out alright because the cooked dough batter was quite thick and sticky before I folded in the egg white meringue.

Thai Milk Tea Chiffon Cake
(makes 1 cake using 21cm regular chiffon pan)
(*reference from Bake For Happy Kids, Cook.Bake.Love, Wen's Delight)

Ingredients
  • 250ml (1 cup) fresh milk
  • 3 Thai tea bags
  • 65g unsalted butter
  • 60g cake flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 egg yolks (I use XL size eggs, around 65-70g)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 80g caster sugar
Steps
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degree celsius, fan mode.
  2. Place fresh milk and tea bags into a saucepan, bring to simmer and let the tea bags seep in the milk for about 10 mins.
  3. Strain the tea-infused milk, squeeze as much liquid from the tea bags as possible and discard the tea bags. Managed to extract about 180-190g of milk tea, set aside.
  4. Heat up the butter in the saucepan till melted, add flour and pinch of salt and stir till all blended and paste is formed. Do not overcook.
  5. Remove from heat, add the milk tea bit by bit and stir till blended. *used around 120g of milk tea.
  6. Add egg yolks one by one and stir till blended. Add more milk tea if batter is too dry. *used all the remaining amount of milk tea.
  7. Beat the egg whites using an electric mixer on high speed, add sugar gradually, till stiff peak.
  8. Pour 1/3 of the meringue into the batter bowl and fold till just blended. Repeat with next 1/3. Finally, pour the batter back to the meringue bowl with the remaining 1/3 of the meringue and fold.
  9. Pour the batter into the chiffon pan, knock the pan on the counter a few times. Bake at 160 degree celsius fan mode for 45-50 mins.
  10. Once done, remove chiffon pan from oven, turn it over and let it cool completely before unmolding.

The chiffon turned out just a tad shorter than I like, maybe coz I used a 21cm regular pan? I think it would be perfect if I were to use a 18cm tall pan or 20cm regular pan (for this particular recipe where I used 4 pieces of XL size eggs). Or perhaps I could use 5 regular size eggs. I believe the recipe proportion vs size of chiffon pan does matter. Or probably I didn't fold the meringue properly and some meringue deflated hence resulting in shorter cake?

Anyways, the wonderful aroma of Thai Milk Tea whiffed through the kitchen during the baking process and I was really anticipating it! The cake turned out super moist and soft and I totally love it. It's good to eat on its own but I made some chantilly cream and Thai Milk Tea drizzle sauce to make it more fancy.

The ever-critical HB said that it's a tad too moist (he didn't complain when I baked the Pandan chiffon previously). Oh well. Probably I will try 5 regular size eggs next time round to see how it goes.

Next up, what should I explore? Cookies? Cupcakes? Egg Tarts? I'm excited, but let's hope that I don't get overdose of Thai tea too soon!

Chicken Chop Ipoh Hor Fun

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One of my favourite Hawker Centre is Changi Village and I believe many would agree with me that there are lots of good food (besides Nasi Lemak) there. To name a few, like my HB's favourite Sambal Fish Head with Bittergourd and Fish Slice Soup (Guang Xing), Deep Fried Cempedak and Banana Fritters (Million Star), Beef Noodles (Bedok Beef Noodles), Pork Belly Satay etc etc (there are many other stalls we have yet to try).

This Chicken Chop Ipoh Hor Fun is a signature dish of two particular stalls (Amigo and Wing Kee)and we used to eat it every time we go Changi Village. The rendition by both stalls are almost similar, the chicken chop is very crispy and savoury with a tinge of sweetness, the Hor Fun has a smooth texture and the braised sauce is gooey and savoury with a tinge of sweetness as well.

Anyways, these days we hardly have a chance to eat the Chicken Chop Ipoh Hor Fun anymore because we discovered Guang Xing Fish Soup and Sambal Fish Head and we're hitting Changi V very often because of it :p

Well, to satisfy my cravings, I decided to create it at home myself.

Was offered a pack of Knorr's Hao Chi seasoning to try; it smells really fragrant and I thought it'll incorporate nicely into this dish by cutting down many tedious steps.


Chicken Chop Ipoh Hor Fun
(makes one portion)

Ingredients
  • 1 pc boneless chicken leg
  • Marinate: 1/3 cup fresh milk, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp haochi seasoning, 1 tsp sugar
  • Crumb coating: 2 tbsp panko, 2 tbsp cereal, 1 tbsp crispy powder, 1/2 tsp haochi seasoning
  • 120g Ipoh Hor Fun
  • 3-4 stalks Choy sum, cut into sections
  • Braised sauce: 1/2 cup chicken soup, 2 tsp kecap manis, 1/2 tsp haochi seasoning, corn starch slurry
Steps
  1. Combine marinate ingredients and mix well. Marinate the chicken at least 4hrs or overnight.
  2. Combine ingredients of crumb coating until well-mixed. Rub the coating onto both sides of the marinated chicken.
  3. Heat up cooking oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken until cooked and both sides golden brown. Set aside.
  4. Boil a pot of water, blanch the hor fun for 30s, remove and set aside.
  5. Using same pot of water, cook the vegetable for 1-2 mins, drain and set aside.
  6. Pour the sauce ingredients into the pot, stir till well-mixed and boil. Add corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce slightly.
  7. Place hor fun and vegetable into a serving plate and pour sauce over them. 
  8. Chop the chicken into pieces and place them into serving plate.
  9. Best serve warm, with sambal chilli and pickled green chilli.

I would say my version turned out not bad at all. The braised sauce was quite yummy and tasted great with the hor fun. The chicken chop was succulent and juice probably coz I used kampung chicken and I marinated it overnight. The coating was quite crispy as well, I think I could explore further with different types of coating like cream crackers or plain flour or tapioca starch.

I guess I would be cooking this from time to time, whenever cravings hit :)

Koh Samui March 2017 - Part I Centara Grand Beach Samui

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Last month, our family went to our favourite destination in Thailand, Koh Samui, for my birthday getaway! It's been 2 years since we last visited and all of us missed the island dearly.

As usual, I'll share my travel experience in parts because there are too many photos!

Part I - Centara Grand Beach Samui, room and facilities
Part II - Dining at Centara Grand
Part III - Market tour and cooking class at Centara Grand
Part IV - Dining at Samui (street food, Krao Chao Ban, Sabienglae, dessert) and night market

We took the afternoon flight by Bangkok Airways and landed in Samui close to evening. This time, we rented a car so that it's easier to travel around (used to rent a motorbike when only 2 of us). By the time we settled the car rental procedures and drove to Chaweng Beach, it was nightfall.


We've been to Samui many times and have stayed in different properties at Chaweng, Lamai and Bophut. (Check out my past travels to Samui here). This time we wanted to stay at Chaweng again as it's more centralised and convenient. However selecting the property to stay is always a dilemma as most of the resorts are quite dated, or otherwise very small.

We know about Centara Grand since it's a prominent property along Chaweng beach and we always passed by it. However quite hesitant to choose this resort because it's quite an old property and we thought it might be dated and worried about maintenance and cleanliness. After going through many reviews, finally decided to give it a try. Free parking is available, so it's a plus point for us.

Lobby lounge and reception *photo taken during day time.

Check-in was prompt and we were offered cold towels and iced lemongrass drink.


Elegant and airy lobby lounge.

And here's our One-Bedroom Suite! Since it was my birthday getaway, we decided to splurge a little for bigger space. The spacious living area is certainly welcoming as we could all enjoy our personal space without getting into each other's way. Anyways, there was an early bird discount for room rate :)

Although the room has a slightly dated look (we usually prefer modern furnishings), everything is very well-maintained and it felt quite cozy. Love it that there's ample seating and area for us to laze about.

The bedroom is also very spacious. I must exclaim that the super king-size bed is really comfortable, enough room for the 3 of us.

Likewise the bathroom is spacious, with an over-sized bathtub and separate shower and toilet cubicles. There's also a wardrobe and closet sufficient for our clothing and stuff.

View from the balcony. Our room was on level 2 overlooking a lush garden. Sea view is limited though. Should have requested for higher floor.

The morning after we checked-in, I received an Instay Survey via email. I merely feedback that we had thoughts about changing pillows and the bathroom sink seemed to have drainage problem. We were thinking of informing housekeeping after returning from lunch, hence didn't think much of it and went out. However, both issues were resolved by the time we returned without us prompting whatsoever. This certainly earned the resort a thumbs-up for taking initiative and responsiveness to guests' feedback.

Now for a tour of the hotel and some facilities.


Love the swimming pools here, very spacious and  water temperature was just right. With the scorching weather, it was a must for us to dip in the pool daily.



Ample deck chairs around the swimming pools, garden as well as on the beach for those keen in sunbathing.



It felt idyllic strolling around the resort grounds with its lush tropical garden blooming with lovely flora and fauna.


 Mini golf course which my kiddo liked.

 Many sports and leisure activities are offered at the Health Club.

Small playground for the kids.

 Kids Club where my kiddo enjoyed himself so much that he didn't want to leave.


Good size gym with ample sports equipment (there's another room with weight-training equipment).


Also checked out Spa Cenvaree as I was thinking of having a pampering spa session on my birthday. The staff there was so gracious and hospitable and offered a tour of the spa.


The biggest spa treatment room for 2 that comes with a private Jacuzzi tub.


Another couple spa treatment room which is slightly smaller.


Individual spa treatment room with bathtub.
 Another individual spa treatment room.


Canopy for thai-style massage.


Relaxation area.


In the end, I selected a 2.5hr treatment which consists of a scrub and signature salt pot massage.


Upon checking-in to the spa and before treatment, I was treated to a iced bluepea flower drink.

The therapist was friendly and skillful and I drifted off to sleep just minutes into the treatment.

Certainly felt rejuvenated after the pampering session and once again, treated to some tea and fruits at the relaxation lounge.

Overall, Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui certainly surpassed our expectations and in fact we are quite impressed with the property; she's considered a grand old lady but very well-maintained and doesn't look her age. And the exceptional hospitality and service standards displayed by the staff certainly left a lasting impression on us.

Hope that I've covered a good overview of the property. Next up, the dining experience at Centara Grand. Stay tuned!

Meg's Pastry Studio - 2017 1st Q Orders

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Wow! It's already April 2017? I must say these past 3 months really whizzed by fast and furious yah? I've seemingly lost track of time!

2017 has been quite an exciting year for me so far, with many new experiences and opportunities.

As usual, my January is always packed because of the festive season and kiddo's birthday. But this year is exceptional because my kiddo goes to Primary One and I was (and still am) having a tough time adjusting to his routine. With his birthday celebration/cake, CNY baking (for personal consumption) and all, I didn't take any orders in January as I didn't want to stretch myself too much.

After getting hang of the school routine and building it into my routine, things got better from February onwards and I was able to do more test-bakes and explore new recipes. One such recipe is a Teddy Bear cookie which I adapted from a newly-bought recipe book that comes with a free cutter. I posted the cookie photos and recipe on my blog, FB and Instagram and surprisingly received very positive response and ended up taking a few cookie orders :)

Then came March, which was exhilarating for me because I was invited to feature a recipe on Sunday Times Life Section and my Ombre Strawberry Shortcake was showcased :) *Phew* I've been procrastinating to write this particular recipe proper and glad that this opportunity came knocking. Some people might ask, why share the recipe when I'm selling the cake? Frankly speaking, I don't mind because I'm not baking for a living, I'm baking for the love of it. Sharing is a form of spreading the love of baking and if there are people who try my recipe and like it, why not? :)

Here's a summary of my orders for this first quarter; each and every bake is a labour of love and I had great fun creating them :) Once again, big thanks to everyone who has been so supportive and patient with me.




Small batch of teddy cookies ordered by my Uni hall friend; so happy to meet her after a long hiatus and glad that she enjoyed the cookies!


Matcha and chocolate teddy cookies ordered by a lovely lady who saw my FB/Instagram posting and emailed me :) Was pleasantly surprised because I didn't think that there would be people interested in ordering the cookies.


Another small batch of teddy cookies, ordered by another lovely lady who also saw my FB/Instagram posting and messaged me :)


A petite mango cake ordered by a lovely lady who has tried my cake before through her friend who ordered from me before :) Always feel blessed when orders came in through recommendation or word of mouth.


A large batch of 60 teddy cookies, my biggest baked so far, ordered by another lovely lady who ordered ombre cake previously. It was great fun baking these cuties and I'm grateful that she's still ordering from me :)


My signature ombre strawberry shortcake in 2 different sizes ordered by my yoga teacher. The Korean strawberries this season look lovely and taste quite sweet too. It's always a joy to create strawberry desserts as they look so pretty! Hope to have opportunities to bake with strawberries before the season ends.

Looking forward to more bakes for the upcoming months!