Friday, July 13

School celebrations

And the celebrations continued in school. Now if you think this cake looks familiar, that's because we had the exact same cake for Lucas earlier this year. Russell loved it so much, he wanted a green version for his school celebrations. The customised cake is made by KushuCakes (that's her Instagram name) and she added an additional eye because the birthday boy is turning six.

On top of that, the dear baker gifted us with extra mini cupcakes! How cute are they? Oh gosh! I initially thought we could bring them home to share with KW and our helper but the kids absolutely fell for them and ate them all up. Sorry parents if your kid had extra sugar that day.






These boys. Brings me a lot of joy to see them so close.

Wednesday, July 11

Russell's 6th Birthday Party

Last weekend, we celebrated Russell’s 6th birthday with a party at home. We had a blast that evening and come Sunday morning, I was all partied out. We had quite the spread to prepare for and preparations for the food started as early at 6:30am with the beef brisket.

This year, we agreed to let Russell invite a few of his friends and boy, were they a riot! One plus one clearly doesn’t equate to two when it comes to the decibels of the noise they produce. At least he had tons of fun and that's most important!

What was also super cool this year was Russell and I made his birthday cake. He really liked the Chocolate Beetroot Cake we made for my mother-in-law and got his hands dirty making his own birthday cake. Good times.










Arugula salad with chorizo and balsamic glaze


Korean Bulgogi Wings


Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower



Aglio Olio with Bacon 



KW’s Slo’ & Lo’ Ribs



Oven Roasted Brisket 


xoxo

Tuesday, July 10

Russell // 6 Years Old

My dear Russell, you are six today. Brimming with attitude, energy and intelligence.

 Parenting you is so easy and difficult at the same time. You constantly surprise us with your intellect yet challenge us with your range of emotions. Before kids, your horizon widens. During pregnancy, it’s your waistline that widens. After the child is born, it’s your heart that grows to accommodate the good, bad and not-that-lovable.

 I wrote how you are like a sponge and this year you went through the periodic table (memorising all 118 elements) and parade of US presidents (all 45 gentlemen). This year, you also found an interest in chess. Can you sense my awe and pride? I’ve to constantly remind myself you are more than just a vessel of facts and knowledge. To not invest my pride in your intellect but your loving spirit.

You are headstrong and competitive, supposedly cornerstones of your father’s childhood traits. Yet you are incredibly sensitive and sentimental - I guess you must have inherited that from your father as well. As the firstborn, you are saddled with the burden of “doing things” right so that your younger brother will learn by default. I must say, you wear the responsibility with incredible pride. I know it’s not easy navigating those very extreme emotions you experience, I’m admittedly not the most patient person around but with your Papa, we promise to help you through them.

I’m very envious of the bond Lucas and you share. I remember the Christmas card you wrote to him, how you held his hand when we sang his birthday song and share your snacks. Having a pesky little sibling isn’t something we all wish for, but I know and hope you will always have your brother’s back.

 Happy birthday, my darling. My firstborn.


Love,
Mama

Monday, July 2

FOC Restaurant, Hong Kong Street

I’m watching Chef’s Table as I’m typing this out and realising I would never be as eloquent as the guest interviewees on that show. *Takes a deep breath*

After my virgin visit close to 2 years ago, I’ve always wanted to make a return trip to FOC Restaurant. I went with a couple of girlfriends then and I wanted KW to try the deliciousness I was exposed to. Of course, when I finally made that reservation to visit with my in-laws and KW, I suddenly thought, “Oh dear, what if the food isn’t as good as before? What if standards have gone down?”

Thankfully, the food was just as good, if not better. The words “tapas” has been thrown around a lot, basically used to describe anything served on small plates. But at FOC, they actually serve traditional tapas, with a modern edgy spin. Vibrant, flavourful and toothsome. Perhaps, even better than what I had in Barcelona a lifetime ago (otherwise, known as BC – Before Children).


The croquettes were handy little bundles of mushroom and ham. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. A must-order.

Another crunchy snack were the “Patatas Bravas” FOC Style (fried potatoes), which I don’t have a picture of as I was trying to wrestle/coddle a testy three year old. #mom life

 

Prawns in Rich Garlic Sauce “al ajillo”
Gambas al ajillo

Prawns in rice garlic sauce that had undeniably been infused with the aroma of fried prawn heads.

Roasted Pork Belly with Potatoes & Mustard
Panceta de cerdo asado con patata, cebolla y mostaza

Ridiculously soft and tender, with a prized crunchy skin. We ordered seconds as soon as the first was polished off.


Sautéed Cauli_ower with Pine Nuts & Spring Onion 
Coli_or salteada con piñones, romesco y cebolleta

If you do need some greens (or whites) to balance all the richness of the meal, order this cauliflower dish pronto.


Baby Octopus with Corn purée, Squid Ink & Onion Sauce
Pulpitos con puré de maíz, tinta de calamar y salsa de cebolla

It's not obviously likeable but an interesting take on seafood and corn.


Open Tortilla with Peppers & Tru e or “Ibérico” Ham 
Tortilla abierta con trufa o Jamón Ibérico y pimientos del piquillo 

This was a beauty when it arrived and before it got folded. It's a very fancy-smancy version of a ham omelette. Don't deny yourself fancy-smancy eggs and ham.


Charcoal Grilled Sweet Potato with Quinoa, Feta & Sundried Tomato
Boniato a la brasa con quinoa, feta y tomate semi-seco

Perhaps this was the only dish we weren’t excited about. It was good but more like something you would only order because there is a hipster health nut in your party.


Suckling Pig & Scallops
Arroz / Fideuà de cochinillo segoviano con vieiras

The paella here is lip-smackingly scrumptious. Every grain is just plump with flavour, nothing to hide behind. We had the suckling pig and scallop, but I’m sure whatever you order would be awesome.


Spanish “French Toast” & Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Torrija con helado casero de vainilla

We were absolutely stuffed but the boys were chanting “Dessert” as if it were a closing prayer. We might have only ordered one dessert but I’m quite sure this is the desset to have at FOC. Cinnamon-sugar-dusted pillows that dessert dreams are made from.

Monday, June 25

Da Paolo Gastronomia's Greens & Grains


Da Paolo has jumped into the grain-bowl trend. Prices from $13.90 and many "premium-ish" items come with extra dollar signs.

I really liked my concoction, which consisted of a slightly spicy chermoula dory, roasted turmeric cauliflowers, grilled zucchini, soba and creamy basil pesto. I'm really digging the spices in this bowl!

I did have one gripe and I don't know if it is because of the warm-blooded Asian in me. The fridge was served out-of-the-fridge cold; I get that grain bowls are usually served at room temperature but this intense coldness of the dish made it difficult to enjoy. The staff had no issue warming the bowl up (which I highly recommend) and all was well again.

Friday, June 22

Da Paolo Pizza Bar, Chip Bee Gardens


It’s been ages since we visited Da Paolo Pizza Bar and I’m reminded of how good their pizzas are. Probably the most popular restaurant along the street, there is a waiting line before 6:30pm on a public holiday evening. And for good reason too.

We ordered a couple of delicious pies - Bosco D'inverno, a white-based pizza topped with truffle mascarpone, mushrooms and truffle oil, as well as a red-based Fiorentina Red Pizza, which boasted a delicious medley of spinach, salami and egg. I usually prefer white pies but this time round, I highly recommend that Fiorentina!

Wednesday, June 20

June DOTM: Rich Chocolate Beet Cake


Ah, a sweet treat for this month’s Dish of the Month. I was intrigued by the idea of making a beetroot chocolate cake as the idea sounded instinctively off-putting and at the same time, deliciously intriguing. I looked around for beetroot chocolate cake recipes and eventually found Anna Olsen’s recipe that promised a fudgy treat.

You can find the recipe on Food Network, but shockingly enough, it has abysmal ratings on that site. Undeterred, I decided to try it out. People in Canada have no love for fudgey chocolate cakes (kidding!).

I’ve tried cakes made with beetroot before, and wasn’t impressed or taken with the lack of flavour. For this reason, I absolutely love Anna Olsen’s Rich Chocolate Beet Cake. Anna’s cake is drop-to-your-knees indulgent - this is definitely not for those who like light airy spongey cakes. A heavyweight on a scale of 1 to Rich. Decadence is thy name and you will be sorry to cross it if you lack the will to take it strong.

I love how easy to make this cake, even Russell got in on the action. One thing to note, I realised my oven is warmer than usual, so I baked this at 170 degrees celsius.

Instead of the chocolate buttercream, I made a vanilla buttercream instead (purely for aesthetics’ purposes HAHA). To be honest, I have never really successfully made vanilla buttercream and I realised the key to a delicious buttercream is patience. My Achilles’ heel.

Here are the recipes, adapted from Anna Olsen and Kitchen Simplicity.

Ingredients 
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces 
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup finely grated cooked beets (I used packaged baby beets)
  • 1 ¼ cup hot water
  • Toppings of your choice
Method

Chocolate Beet Cake
  1.  Puree beets in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease one 8-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and dust the sides with flour, tapping out any excess.
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter has been worked into the flour (it will seem dry and crumbly).
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix in slightly, then mix in the beets. Add the hot water while mixing on low speed, then increase the speed to medium high and continue to mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until the batter is thick and fluffy.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spread to level the batter and tap the pan on the counter to knock out any large air pockets.
  6. Bake the cake for about 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for 30 minutes then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  7. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour and up to 4 days. 
  8. Make the buttercream and decorate the cake the way you like it. 
Vanilla buttercream
  • 1 cup (227g) of softened butter 
  •  2 cups icing sugar 
  •  2 tbsp milk 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Beat the softened butter for 6 minutes. 
  2.  Add the rest of the ingredients and beat for another 6 minutes.