26 October 2009


Took half day from work last Friday to attend Chef Daniel Tay's demo class on "Strawberries" at Shermay's Cooking School. The Bread IV class was supposed to be my last, but I couldn't resist signing up for this class (and in fact, another puff pastry class by Chef Christopher in Dec :p).

Even though it was a weekday, the class was full with close to 40 pax, I think. That goes to show how popular pastries made with strawberries are, or rather, how popular Chief Daniel Tay is and his Strawberry Shortcake, Fraisier and Strawberry Tart desserts offered at Bakerzin. I guess everybody loves strawberry pastries, partly because of its visual appeal and partly because the tartness, sweetness and juiciness of strawberries paired very well with cakes and cream. I'm keen to attend the class so that I could bake either the Strawberry Shortcake or Fraisier for my close friends' birthday celebrations. Cupcake is good as giveaways or during parties but layer cake is always the essential for birthday celebrations.

4 recipes were demonstrated and these are very substantial recipes on their own which require multiple steps. The recipes are also found in his recipe book "Just Desserts". I guess the advantage of attending his class, he would share certain tips and knowledge not written in the book, and we could actually see the process of preparing the various components and finally assemble them.
  • Fraisier - A cake made of almond genoise sponge, pistachio butter cream filled with kirsh-soaked strawberries (techniques for crème patisserie for pistachio butter and Italian meringue included)
  • Strawberry Tart - A simple fruit tart made of sablé dough filled with almond cream, topped with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, finished with an apricot glaze
  • Strawberry Shortcake - A classic cake made of a genoise sponge and chantilly cream, topped with fresh strawberries. Cake assembly and decoration technique included.
  • Strawberry Ice Cream - Homemade ice cream using strawberry purée, includes how to make a basic custard
Seriously a lot of hard work goes into the Fraisier. Preparing the Pistachio Butter Cream itself requires another 2 recipes - butter cream and crème patisserie. Not to mention the almond genoise sponge. Assembling the cake itself is also tedious - almond genoise sponge, pistachio butter cream, neatly placed strawberries, more butter cream to fill all the gaps, sponge, spread with layer of Italian Meringue, caramelised the surface using blowtorch for colour, topped with a layer of apricot glaze and finally some fruits for decoration. Phew!

The Strawberry Tart requires 2 components - the sable dough for the tart and almond cream for the filling. Both are fairly easy, except that got to work very fast with the sable dough as the dough does not work well in our hot and humid weather. Just look at the amount of strawberries, rasberries and blueberries that go into just one tart. These fruits are not cheap, especially strawberries which preferably from Korean or Japan (even more ex) as they look nicer and are sweeter. End result, very lovely and vibrant and sure whets my appetite.

And now for the star. The strawberry shortcake remains one of the best seller and hot favourite of Bakerzin, according to Chef Daniel.

The key is making a very light genoise sponge, however requires experience in whipping and folding the batter, as well as ingredients (he uses Japanese flour) and oven temperature. We had tasting of just the sponge itself, and oh my, the sponge was light as feather and just the right sweetness and texture! Good to eat on its own.
Didn't have opportunity to see the full process of the strawberry ice-cream as the cake and tart recipes were really tedious and took up most of the time.
Everyone brought home a takeaway box (fresh from Bakerzin Factory) with a slice of Fraisier, Strawberry Shortcake and Strawberry Tartlet.
Even though lots of pistachio butter cream was used, the Fraisier was not heavy at all. Taste-wise, some may not like pistachio butter cream but I thought it was ok, not overwhelming at all. The butter cream paired well with the almond sponge and strawberries. The fruits balanced the sweetness and creaminess. But I reckon just one small slice with coffee or tea would be nice, not too much.

Instead of a big tart, can also make into tiny tartlets and top with one strawberry. Presentation-wise although not as appealing as the big tart, I think this is much easier to serve and eat. The tart retained some crunch even though kept overnight in fridge.
The strawberry shortcake was lovely, with the light as feather sponge and cream. With the combination of strawberries, it gave a 'fall-in-love" and blissful kind of feeling. I felt so tempted to finish the slice but alas, watching my sugar intake now so could just a bite or two :(
Nevermind, this shall be one of my top to-bake cake after I pop!

25 October 2009

Koh Samui 1-4Oct 09: Day 3 & 4

Day 3 of my escape!

Woke up to a slow breakfast of Pad Thai. YUM! It felt good to have someone whipped up a perfect meal to start the day...

After breakfast, we strolled a bit before going back to the room to watch Transformer 2 DVD which hubby bought the previous night.

Thereafter, we decided to rent a jeep and drive around. Hubby wanted to find some fishing pond and do a little fishing. Most holiday-goers to Samui prefer renting motorcycles because it's quite cheap and hassle-free as compared to a car, which is more expensive and could hardly find parking space at Chaweng or most other places.

Our ride for the day! Advantage, faster than motorcycle, with air-con and not subject to weather conditions =D
We decided to head to Sabeinglae for lunch, a local restaurant which offered very good Thai food from our previous trip.
The restaurant looks so different in daylight (previous time, it was night time and the whole place seemed quite dim and secluded).
Pleasantly surprised to realise that the restaurant is so close to the beach and overlooks the sea. Really nice view.
The mixed veg was stir-fried to perfection, just the right crunch.
Hubby's favourite and he claimed it was even nicer than the one he had at Poppies. Very spicy and sourish.
Green curry chicken. Very fragrant aroma and taste of curry.
Another great dish, combination of fish and celebry is unique but very good.
Once again, Sabeinglae is the best!
After the satisfying meal, we drove around and decided to pop by some waterfall to take a look. Chanced upon a signage which says viewpoint. Luckily we had the jeep which was powerful enough to go up the hills. But still was kind of scary.
10 baht entrance fee to get to the viewpoint, which is just 3 mins through a dirt path.
Treated to a nice view, not totally breathtaking but still beautiful. Hang around a bit before going downhill in search of the fishing pond.
Found. Top Cats Fishing Resort.
Quite a large size fresh water fishing pond, the environment is very serene and well-kept.
Top Cats offers lodging and food for holiday-goers as well. Probably for those who enjoys fishing, wants to stay for a longer period and looking for unique experience.
There's pool table for some entertainment.

And even a swimming pool.

In the distance, Thai Teak Houseboat which is the lodging available for holiday-goers.

We took up a 4-hr fishing package which included fishing guide, bait and 2 rods. And we got our very own fishing hut as well. Cool. 2 fishing guides were attached to us on that day, probably coz there weren't any other anglers around, and 1 teenager, probably a relative also came to help out.

Basically, the fishing guides would prepare the bait and cast the rods for us. We didn't even have to get our hands dirty and wet. Luxury style fishing.

Hubby fighting with fish. One of the fishing guide standing by in the water to land the fish. Once the fish is landed, the guide would release the hook and nurse the fish for a few minutes before we took a photo. Then, he would nurse the fish again (even applying some iodine on the fish) before releasing it. They took very good care of the fish here as they are expensive to bring in for upkeep. They kept urging hubby to jump into the water to hold the fish for photo-taking (towels, showering facilities provided), naturally hubby won't do that! Haha. Apparently it's a norm to do so, especially for the foreigners.

The Giant Mekong, which hubby had already landed before in Bangkok, so he wasn't really interested. He was more keen in landing those species not landed before.
We started out pretty slow, but as the evening approached (usual feeding time of fish apparently), there were more hits.
Hubby happy with his Red-Tail Catfish, a first for him.
Some snacks from the restaurant.
Can see the almost full moon in the distance? The next day would be the notorious full moon party at Phangna Island.
Another new catch, the Red-Tail Tiger Catfish.
Yet another new catch, this time the Red-Tail Leopard Catfish. That's where we decided to call it a day. Although hubby was hoping to land an Arapaima, but well he was happy with his catch.
We tipped the guides before going off. Not an easy job, especially when he had to go into water everytime a catch was landed.
We drove back to Chaweng in search of a dinner place and came across a night market. Popped in to take a look but nothing suitable for dinner. Nonetheless interesting to experience the local night market.

Moving along, we saw many pizza places offering wood fire pizza along the main central Chaweng but couldn't find parking lot for car anywhere. The bane of driving in Samui.
In the end, no choice but to drive back to resort and park there, and settled dinner at an Italian restaurant near the resort.
Service was very very slow and food so-so only. Can't even recall name of restaurant. By the time we were done, it was quite late. Quickly went back to resort for a good bath and hit the bed after a long day.
Last day!
Our relaxing escape approaching the end. Ordered french toast with bacon and mushroom for breakfast. The french toast and mushroom was perfect but bacon overdone. Still a good breakfast.
Decided that we could with one more spa before going home. So headed to hubby's favourite Leelawadee Allure Mssage & Spa.

Naturally hubby went for his 1hr 'Tiger Balm' Back Massage, whereas I settled for a soothing foot massage to ease my tired legs from water retention. Bliss.
Soon, the bliss was over. We returned the jeep, went back to resort to pack up and check-out. It was still early to go airport, so we left the luggage with the resort and headed for lunch. Been eyeing this Ninja Restaurant directly opposite our resort the first day, as it seems to be quite popular.
In fact, quite a humble little eatery serving home-style thai food.
Tom Yum soup again. Not as spicy, very 'mum's place' style.
The omelette was nice, similarly, very mum's taste.
We love the stir-fried veg in Samui. Kana is actually Kailan.
The squid with chilli was good, spicy and sourish, very appetising and fresh.
With that, we concluded our last meal at Samui and headed for the airport and home.
Wonder when we would be back again. Next time, probably with Junior in tow. Till then.