22 September 2015

Pandan Magic Custard Cake

I must be the slowest coach to make this Magic Custard Cake; I think the whole village had already attempted different flavours of it since last year? When the craze first started, I bookmarked the recipes and added them to my long list of to-bakes but somehow never got down to trying any of them.

Anyways, recently I had a little bit of coconut milk and concentrated pandan juice left over from baking a Pandan Chiffon Cake and finally have this opportunity to attempt the Pandan flavour of the Magic Custard Cake.

As usual, I went through in detail the various recipes and variations (Baking Tai Tai, Peng's Kitchen, Aunty Young, Anncoo Journal). Most of the ingredients and proportions are about the same, except for variations in the amount of coconut milk and fresh milk, as well as the use of pandan paste vs pandan juice/extract.

Since I only have a little bit of coconut milk left, I made it up with more fresh milk. As for the pandan flavouring, I decided not to buy commercial pandan paste or essence, but to use the concentrated pandan juice that I made for the pandan chiffon cake.

Baking the cake was rather straightforward for those who have baked chiffon cakes before; first, preparation of the main batter, followed by whipping up the egg whites till stiff peak, and then folding the egg white meringue into the main batter gently till incorporated. The batter was very very watery, casting a doubt as to whether the cake would turn out successful or not. It's perfectly normal, as advised by all the bakers who have attempted the recipes :)

All was fine until the baking time was up.

I didn't have a removable baking pan, so couldn't lift the cake out of the pan to let it cool down on the rack. The cake was quite heavy and soft and I could feel it wobbling as I attempted to lift the baking parchment several times. Afraid that the parchment might tear and risking the cake smashing into pieces, I simply let the cake cool down in the baking pan, which turned out alright I guess.

After the cake cooled sufficiently at room temperature, I transferred the entire baking pan into the fridge for the cake to chill and set completely. Finally removed it from the pan in the late night, and after trimming the sides of the cake, was elated that there were three layers - the cake, the custard and the kueh. Yippee!

Pandan Magic Custard Cake
(baked using 8" x 8" square pan)

  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 115g plain flour
  • 300g fresh milk
  • 80g coconut milk
  • 100g concentrated pandan juice, room temperature
  • 4 egg yolks (I use 60g egg with shell)
  • 145g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp pandan juice
  • 4 egg whites (I use 60g egg with shell)
  • t tbsp caster sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 165 degree celsius. Line 8" x 8" baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter over pot of simmering water. Set aside to cool down.
  3. Sift flour into a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Heat fresh milk and coconut milk to lukewarm. Add concentrated pandan juice and stir well. Set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl, cream egg yolks and icing sugar till light and fluffy.
  6. Add melted butter and the 1 tbsp pandan juice, mix till incorporated.
  7. Fold in flour gently till just incorporated.
  8. Fold in milk and pandan juice mixture gently till just incorporated. The batter will be watery and runny.
  9. In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites till foamy, add caster sugar and continue beating till stiff peak.
  10. Pour 1/3 of the meringue into the main batter, folding gently till just incorporated, followed by the next 1/3. Finally pour all the batter into the bowl of the remaining 1/3 meringue, fold till just incorporated.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake at 165 degree celsius for 55-60 mins.
  12. After cake is done, remove from oven and let the cake cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
  13. Transfer the cake to the fridge and let it chill for a few hours before cutting and dusting with icing sugar to serve.

Personally, of the three layers, I love the cake part the best as I'm not really fond of custard or kueh. The cake was tender and fluffy, almost melt in the mouth. The kiddo tried a small piece and said it was ok, but didn't ask for second helping. As for hb, he said it tasted like pandan kaya cake, well, which I supposed was quite close in terms of taste?

Ok, so now that I've tried and tasted the Magic Custard Cake, at least it's a check-off my list. Don't think I will attempt other flavours for now.

18 September 2015

Ramblings about exercise and diet

6 months ago, a day after my 38th birthday, I stared at a photo taken during the home celebration and thought to myself, WTF, I looked like crap, frumpy, fat and haggard (partly also it was a super lousy celebration, don't ask). Finally took the courage to step onto the weighing scale and I was a bit shocked. Sheesh, confirming my suspicion that I put on a lot of weight (was always in denial). The tell-tale signs were there, a lot of clothes felt tight or worse, I couldn't fit into them. My HbA1c is also hovering at borderline ideal range.

It was there and then, I decided to make a change and that very evening, I started my exercise regime. Just start, don't make excuses, 1km is better than nothing at all! Started very slow covering only 1.5km and building up to about 5km progressively over 1 month. And thanks to my good friend J, who introduced me to the Runkeeper app, I'm able to track all my runs and exercise, keeping me in check and motivated!

In addition, started eating healthier and a bit of (mental) calorie counting, more vegetables and proteins and lesser carbo (more during breakfast and lunch and very little or none for dinner); try to avoid eating after 8pm. Once in a while, I still indulge but in moderation. The weight loss started off very slowly and at times I felt deflated, so I gave myself a goal, in fact 2 goals - to participate in a competitive 5km run (in 3 months) and to reward myself with a luxury branded bag upon losing 5kg.

Well, now that I have achieved my first 2 goals, I thought of penning my thoughts that went through my mind the past 6 months. I'm not the type who write motivational messages and what not. Actually these are just silly or even cynical ramblings, laughing at myself, so don't take me seriously!

  1. It took me 6 months of exercising 3-4 times a week, 4-6km each time, PLUS minimal carbo and lots of wholegrains and vegetables to lose 7kg. To me, it’s torture ok. I can’t decide whether I hate exercising more or dieting more.
  2. I really envy people who could eat all they want and wouldn’t gain weight or still look slim! For me, slightly more carbo will make me gain kilos. Or I suspect, even breathing air will make me get fat.
  3. I love food. Period. If I’m the type of people who will not gain weight no matter how much I eat, I will definitely live to eat.
  4. Nowadays I’m constantly hungry. I hardly have snacks at home, so I will linger in the kitchen trying to find any snacks at all. I love looking at food photos on FB, blogs, Instagram and sometimes I would just salivate at the pictures.
  5. Sometimes I will steal snacks from the kiddo’s goodie bags from school. I don’t allow him to eat most of the stuff anyway and if I don’t eat them, they go to the waste bin. Waste not right?
  6. I love to bake and cook. But the irony of it, nowadays I eat very little of what I baked and cooked. They went elsewhere, no prizes as to where they went.
  7. No, I've NOT turned into a health nut eating vegan and whatever macrobiotic diet. I repeat, I LOVE food, all the fatty, sinful ones, bring them on! Just in moderation, or work them off lor.
  8. I get water retention and bloaty very easily, if I don’t drink enough water. So I’m like a thirsty hippo drinking 2-2.5L of water every day, which is supposedly the recommended amount of water intake, which I believe most people don’t do. I wonder how they manage it.
  9. 6 months ago, I’ve not jogged like in 10 years. Never in my life would I imagine myself to join competitive 5km runs either. But I did 2 so far.  Before I started all this running, my hb jio me to run 10km. I’m thinking to myself, siao bo? Run 5km want to die already, can I really do 10km?
  10. Anyways, I am very proud of myself, in fact surprised by my own determination. For that I’m rewarding myself with a branded handbag. Yes an expensive 4-figure one. I don’t care (less than $2k ok right?). No, not Chanel lah, cannot afford. But then, if I lost 10kg and run 10km and win 10million, maybe I will?
  11. Although I have lost 7kg, I still look stumpy. I have fat arms, that look like legs. And legs that look like tree trunk. I have resigned to the fate that I might never be slim slim. My family has fat genes.
  12. 5 years ago, I lost 12kg just by breastfeeding for 1 year. In fact I was the “lightest” since Secondary school days. I swear to myself I must maintain and not gain back the weight.
  13. Swearing is no use, I gained back 8kg in 5 years. But I gonna swear again, to maintain the current weight. Or better still, lose some more as buffer so that I can afford to gain some back.
  14. I’m convinced that I have to weigh myself every day so that I can keep in check. And only in the morning because I’m lighter in the morning! I would get paranoid even if I gain 200g, so I would relieve myself in the toilet and check again, maybe it’s just the water you know.
  15. I have 2 weighing scales, a digital one and a mechanical one. The mechanical one is 1.5-2kg less. Sometimes to make myself feel better I weigh myself on that one.
  16. The digital weighing scale also seems to have some error, sometimes when I change position, there will be a weight difference by a few hundred grams. So I would step up and down in different positions until I’m convinced.
  17. My favourite pair of jeans which is super ex is getting loose, not sure if I should just wear it with belt or get another slimmer pair. It’s really ex ok!
  18. Should I refresh my wardrobe since I’ve slimmed down? But 5 years ago, I refreshed my wardrobe but had to buy new ones coz I gained weight. If I refresh now, what if I gain weight again and have to buy new ones again? Cannot keep 2 sets lah, wardrobe space no enough.
  19. I used to jog in the morning, but I’m not a morning person. I’m sluggish and grumpy. So now I exercise at 4pm to make it in time for the kiddo to be back from school. I thought I’m siao to run at 4pm coz most days it’s super hot. But then I saw more siao people jogging at 2 or 3pm when it’s blazing hot.
  20. Each time before I jog, at about 3pm I will start looking out the window at the jogging track below my house to check the weather. And check at every 10 min interval. If it’s very hot, I would start debating to myself, should I go run at 4pm or not. Maybe I should just chill and take a break?
  21. Sometimes when it’s cloudy, I would be so happy, but after I change and get ready, or about to start, the sun turns on full blaze and I would curse and swear, WTF!
  22. Sometimes when it’s cloudy, I would be so happy, but after I change and get ready, or about to start, it starts to rain and I would curse and wear, WTF!
  23. Once, it’s cloudy I was so happy, after about 1km, it started to drizzle. I rushed home to bring in my laundry. After bringing in my laundry, the rain stopped. WTF! I went back downstairs to continue, and the sun came out.
  24. Usually my first 2-3 km is ok, energised and I could go on non-stop at a steady pace. But at the 3km pace, I start to regret, wondering why I am running and when will this ever end.
  25. I often wonder, why do I even bother to diet or exercise at all?
  26. Why is it that some people make running look so effortless, they run like air? I look like an elephant stomping the ground. And I huff and I puff like I’m about to collapse from asthma attack.
  27. Sometimes the weather would be cloudy and breezy at noon and 2pm, and I would be thinking whether to go for a run. But I’m worried that the sun would come out suddenly and it’ll be crazily hot. But it remains cloudy till 4pm and after I get ready, it turns sunny.
  28. Sometimes I find that I have no energy to run, is it because I’m on diet and eating less? But if I eat more in order to have more energy, then I’m not dieting and I can’t lose weight. How?
  29. When I run, if I let my mind think about some drama/movie that I’ve watched recently I find the distance is not as daunting and time passes quickly. But if I let my mind go blank, I would be counting each and every step I take and wondering why after running so long, I only cover 50 meters.
  30. Recently I tried jogging on treadmill at a hotel gym. It felts damn shiok to jog in air-con, and even better when plugging into Asian Food Channel watching Anna Olsen bake some mean looking molten chocolate cakes, and then thinking to myself, shall I reward myself with a slice of cake after the workout? Sheesh, have I turned into a health nut, exercising even during vacations?
  31. My most satisfied moments about exercising - during the warm-down and stretching, thinking to myself, I have survived yet another workout, I have burnt like 300 calories which means I could indulge in something 1000 calories later?
  32. My most satisfied moments about weight loss - stepping onto the weighing scale and seeing my weight go down and able to fit into old clothes once more, walking in clothing store and try on clothes a size smaller. 
P.S. Oh yah, secretly of course I would love to become more attractive and make heads turn and people telling me I look younger than my age. LOL!!!!!!!!

15 September 2015

Phuket July 2015 Day 3 - dhatri spa, Thanoon Seafood, Vero Italian

Continued from
Day 1 - Heng Heng Thai Food, Pullman Arcadia
Day 2 - Pullman Arcadia, Kang Ean2 Seafood, Seoul Grill

As usual, woke up bright and early (the kiddo is an early bird) for breakfast. And as mentioned during the previous post, we didn't linger in the restaurant for long as we didn't enjoy the crowd. Opted for a simple and light breakfast as I had a spa appointment in the late morning, and also in anticipation of lunch.

Had been to dhatri spa before during previous stays and because of the excellent quality of the spa treatments, decided to have a scrub and massage. The treatment did not disappoint and I certainly felt rejuvenated afterwards, in fact I lamented to the HB that it was too short!

For lunch, we ventured to Thanoon Seafood, located near the Sarasin bridge that linked Phuket island to the mainland of Phang Nga Province. Dined there during the last trip and the food was not too bad with nice waterfront scenery.

We hardly get this type of seafront view in SG, so I guess that makes us yearn for such dining experience. Lol :p

The Tom Yum Seafood here certainly fared better than that of Kan Eang2 Seafood the previous day. Besides spiciness and sourness, the broth had a sweet undertone.

The Stir Fried Clams with basil and chilli was not bad, clam meat was quite fresh and overall the chilli and basil sauce very appetising.

This is a local vegetable, slightly fibrous, while I liked it, it was a tad salty.

The papaya salad was a tad too wet. I preferred the ones served at Koh Samui.

Ordered the Prawn Cake for the kiddo seeing how he enjoyed it the previous day at Kan Eang2. But he ate only one piece and didn't want anymore, which meant that this wasn't as nice as the ones at Kan Eang2. Well, he was right, I thought it wasn't as fresh.

HB really wanted to eat the the deep fried fish (butterfly style) in tamarind sauce, so we had a special order. We told the waitress that we wanted deep fried fish butterfly style (it was available in the menu but without sauce) and add a tamarind sauce for us (there's fried prawns in tamarind sauce in the menu).

Alas, don't know why the chef decided to change the style of the fish. Fail! Total disappointment.

When fish is sliced this style and deep fried, the fish became hard throughout and lost the tender texture. If fish is deep fried butterfly style, the exterior is crispy while interior will still remain tender.

After lunch, the kiddo and I simply headed back to the hotel for a rest and relax afternoon while the HB went for a massage at the Naithon Beach area.

For dinner, we decided to stay in to try the Vero Italian Restaurant at Pullman Arcadia itself. After so many stays, we finally got the chance to dine here.

The alfresco areas offer stunning views. But the tables with the best view were occupied :(

So we opted for indoors instead. The decor and furnishings were warm and cozy, mostly wooden furniture.

Complimentary bread basket, very nice breads with balsamic vinegar and EVOO dip.

The restaurant did right by offering the Kid's Menu and took orders for the kiddo first, so his food was served first and very quickly. It's wise to feed kiddos first so that the adults could enjoy a slow and relaxing meal thereafter. Most of the time, adult meals were served first and the kids got restless waiting and adults couldn't really enjoy as they had to entertain the kids relentless questions on "why my food is not here yet". This shows that this restaurant really pays attention to details. Thumbs up!

Anyways, the pizza was yummy, except that it was too big!

I had salmon which was nicely done, crispy skin and tender and juicy meat.

Whereas HB had lamb shank. The meat was bone tender and went well with the sauce and mashed potato.

Overall the meal was enjoyable with impeccable service by staff.

Basically this marked the end of our short 4D3N annual getaway to Phuket (day 4 was just breakfast and then to airport for our flight).

Not sure if we would return to Pullman Arcadia next year as I'm also eyeing other properties. But then again, I do miss the breathtaking views from the room as well as the excellent hospitality. Well, will leave the decision till next year then.

09 September 2015

Phuket July 2015 Day 2 - Pullman Arcadia, Kan Eang 2 Seafood, Seoul Grill

Continued from Day 1 - Heng Heng Thai Food, Pullman Arcadia

The next morning, we woke up bright and early, eagerly anticipating the sumptuous breakfast buffet spread that Pullman offers. I have mentioned before, the buffet spread and quality at Pullman is one of the best I've eaten. The atmosphere was also relaxing and peaceful, making the entire breakfast experience a highlight of the stay.

To my dismay, the restaurant was overcrowded with boisterous tourists from a group tour (or more); their mannerism and behaviors somewhat spoil the mood. The kitchen did their best to keep the food refilled which was commendable but on the ground it seemed to be understaffed; dirty plates not cleared promptly, and no offers of coffee or tea. The situation continued for the three breakfasts we were there, although we wanted very much to linger and enjoy a slow and nice breakfast, we didn't.

After breakfast, we decided to take a stroll around the lobby and hotel as the furnishing has been refreshed and even more lovely than before.

Reception area.

Lobby lounge. There's live band every night, nice place to chill out and relax over breathtaking views.

New area which opened since our last visit.

There's a deli bar with two small shops selling clothing and accessories.

Bar by the main pool.

Guests can enjoy coconut juice or ice-cream while relaxing by the poolside.

This is another chill out area, also great for sunset viewing. Our room overlooks this area.

We decided to venture out for lunch. On the way out, hubby caught sight of this durian stall and being a durian lover, simply had to stop to try.

These were local durians.

Bought one to try, meat texture not bad, tasted quite like our kampung durians.

We drove for one plus hour from almost the northern part of the island to the southern part at Chalong Bay.

Kan Eang 2 Seafood is highly recommended by many people so we don't mind going the distance for good food.

This place looked kind of familiar. I think either we've been here before or another restaurant nearby, some 15 years ago?

Anyways, the restaurant is big and spacious with indoor and alfresco choices.

One of my favourite dish, Tod Mun Goong, deep fried breaded shrimp cake. The shrimp cake was fresh, flavourful and crispy, and the kiddo liked it so much he had three pieces, leaving only one piece each for hubby and I :(

We were pleased to see the deep fried fish butterfly-style; it was nicely done but too bad without the tamarind sauce that we liked (dish found at Krao Chao Bann Koh Samui).

Tom Yum Seafood. Initially they sent a non-spicy version (waiter just assumed we don't take spicy) and we rejected it. It was ok, the broth was sour and spicy but lacked the depth of sweetness we were looking for.

Steamed squid in lime and chilli. Was quite good, squid was fresh and sauce very appetising.

Overall, it was a good dining experience with lovely view and gentle breeze. Food-wise, some hits and misses, considered one of the better dining places we've been in Phuket (although still falls short of our expectations as compared to Koh Samui).

After lunch, we shopped at Patong Beach area for a while before heading back to Naithon area. But before that, must let the kiddo try the famous street snack!

Our usual order, Nutella with Banana. The pancake was crispy on the outside, with warm and gooey banana and nutella inside. Yummy! The kiddo loved it and had almost half of it by himself.

We reached the hotel in the evening, just nice for a swim by the main pool to catch the lovely sunset.

For dinner, we decided to venture out again to a nearby mall. Wanted to eat at our favourite hot pot place, MK restaurant but the kiddo insisted on Seoul Grill.

It's basically a conveyor belt buffet concept, all-you-can-eat for 2 hours at 299 baht person, children FOC.

First time we see a grill like this, the centre part for grilling meat and the side is for soup. Quite brilliant because the juice from the meats will drip into the soup making it very flavourful and sweet.

Besides items on the conveyor belt, there are also cooked food like fried chicken, sushi, noodles, salad etc. Not bad at all.

After dinner, we shopped at Tesco supermarket for a while before heading back to the hotel for the night.

Stay tuned for Day 3 - dhatri spa, Thanoon Seafood, Vero Italian restaurant.