Monday, June 29, 2015

Viennese Biscuits / Butter Cookies (Basic to compilation of varieties of possible flavors)

Oh how much we love Marks and Spencer Viennese Biscuits. After a long long baking journey, here we are finally baking these scrumptious eggless butter shortcake swirls!

If used Lurpark butter, it can be called Danish Butter Shortcakes.

However, if we use New Zealand butter can it be called New Zealand Butter Shortcakes? Likewise for Australian butter.

Base Cookie Dough Ingredients:
125g Salted Butter
150g Plain Flour (for melt in the mouth change 20g to Corn Starch)
25g Icing Sugar
0.5 teaspoon Vanilla Paste
1 tablespoon Milk

  1. Place Salted Butter and Icing Sugar and whisk until light and fluffy. Add Vanilla Extract and whisk for 10 secs.
  2. Pour sifted flour and Corn Starch into mixing bowl. Mix until well combine.
  3. Add Milk and mix well, the mixture should be thick, sticky, soft and can hold it's shape.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  5. Fill the dough into a piping bag with 1M / 2C / 1E / Wilton 190 tip or Star tip.
  6. Pipe your desire shape onto the silicon mat, remember to leave approx 1cm.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are slightly light brown.

Full recipe:
6cm x 8cm size yields approx 12pcs. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Straight down 1" size flower approx 65pcs. Bake for about 15 minutes.
Ring loop 2" diameter size yields approx 30pcs. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Some Extra Tips Below:
- To have uniform shape cookies, draw grids on one of the baking sheet, place another baking sheet on top and pipe according to the shadow grid. Continue until complete.

Below is my creations hopefully it'll inspire you. You may bake the Viennese Biscuits and make all kinds varieties as below. Hope you all will love this recipe.

Matcha Viennese Biscuits
1 tablespoon Matcha Powder
1 tablespoon Icing Sugar

Chocolate Viennese Biscuits
1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
0.5 tablespoon Icing Sugar

Dark Chocolate Viennese Biscuits
Coming Soon

Strawberry Sandwich Viennese Biscuits
Coming Soon

Passion Fruit Sandwich Viennese Biscuits
Coming Soon

Click here for our blog page Baking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Friday, June 26, 2015

Salad Lunchbox a.k.a. Salad Mealbox Ideas

Salad around my working area cost from the range of S$8 to S$15! Also, keeping up to a change to a more healthy lifestyle.

It's time for me to pack us own salad or change our daily meal to save some money in the long run.

Summary of what we will be using, restocked our house with some items!

Salad Base: Butterhead Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Rolla Rosa, Red Chicory, Endive, Green Frisse, Pea Sprout, Red Sails Lettuce, Carrot, Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes, Purple Cabbage, Baby Raddish, Alfalfa, Corn, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Green Coral, Red Coral
~Yet to try...Capsicum, Celery, Beetroot, Pumpkin

Fresh Fruit Topping: Strawberries, Blueberries, Grapes, Pear, Tomatoes,
~Yet to try... Mandarin Orange, Mango, Avocado, Peach, Apricot

Dried Fruit Topping: Dried Goji Berry, Raisins, Dried Cranberries, Turkish Figs

Nutty Topping: Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Cashew Nuts, Almonds
~Yet to try...Pistachio, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds

Protein: Fish Ngoh Hiang, Hard-boiled Egg, Bacon, Sausages, Corn Beef, Egg Mayo, Quinoa, Smoked Chicken Breast, Tamagoyaki, Chick Peas, Smoked Salmon, Ham, Steam Chicken
~Yet to try...Beef Pastrami, Tuna, Crab Stick, Beef Pepperoni, Fish, Kidney Beans, White Beans, Edamame, Green Peas, Tofu

Carbohydrate: Croutons, Wheat Ramen Noodles, Pasta
~Yet to try...Soba, Glass Noodles

Salad Dressing: Ceasar Salad, Honey Mustard, Tropical Mango Passion Sauce, Organic Creamy Avocado, Honey Yuzu aka Citron Salad Dressing Recipe

Below are our creations hopefully it'll inspire you.

Salad Meal 1
Salad Base : Butterhead Lecttuce, Romaine Lettuce, Rolla Rosa, Red Chicory, Endive, Green Frisse, Pea Sprout
Topping : Walnuts, Strawberries
Protein : Fish Ngoh Hiang
Dressing : Ceasar Salad

Salad Meal 2
Musclun Salad Base : Butterhead Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Rolla Rosa, Red Chicory, Endive, Green Frisse, Pea Sprout
Topping : Hazelnuts, Blueberries, Dried Goji Berry, Hard-boiled Egg
Protein : Bacon
Dressing : Ceasar Salad

Salad Meal 3
Salad Base : Butterhead Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Red Sails Lettuce, Pea Sprout
Topping : Macadamia Nuts, Dried Apricot, Dried Cranberries, Croutons
Protein : Corn Beef
Dressing : Honey Mustard Salad

Salad Meal 4
Salad Base : Butterhead Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Red Sails Lettuce, Pea Sprout
Topping : Cashew Nuts, Dried Goji Berries, Dried Cranberries, Grapes
Protein : Bacon
Dressing : Honey Mustard Salad

Salad Meal 5
Salad Base : Butterhead Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Red Sails Lettuce, Pea Sprout
Topping : Croutons
Protein : Sausages
Dressing : Honey Mustard Salad

Salad Meal 6
Salad Base : Butterhead Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Red Sails Lettuce, Pea Sprout
Topping : Hazelnuts, Dried Cranberries, Pear
Protein : Sausages, Egg Mayo, Quinoa
Dressing : Caesar Salad

Salad Meal 7
Salad Diced Mix : Pear, Carrot, Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes, Purple Cabbage, Baby Raddish, Alfalfa
Carb : Wheat Ramen Noodles
Protein : Smoked Chicken Breast, Chick Peas
Dressing : Honey Mustard Salad

Salad Meal 8
Salad Diced Mix : Strawberries, Cherry Tomatoes, Purple Cabbage, Baby Raddish, Alfalfa, Corn
Protein : Smoked Chicken Breast, Tamagoyaki
Dressing : Ceaser Salad

Salad Meal 9
Salad Diced Mix : Baby Spinach Leaves, Baby Butterhead Lettuce, Frisée, Green Oak, Green Carol, Green Baby Cos, Mizuna, Red Oak, Radicchio, Rocket, Red Baby Cos, Totsoi, Red Baby Radish, Cherry Tomatoes, Brazil Nuts, Croutons, Lychee
Protein : Garlic Mangalica Debreceni Pork Sausage, Hard boiled Egg, Chick Peas
Dressing : Mango Passion Fruit Dressing

Salad Meal 10
Salad Diced Mix : Green Oak Leaf, Red Oak Leaf, Kale, Cherry Tomatoes, Blueberries, Goji Berries, Croutons, Pasta with Chunky Pasta Sauce, Hazelnut
Protein : Smoked Salmon, Hard Boiled Egg
Dressing : Organic Creamy Avocado Dressing

Salad Meal 11
RED : Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes, White Mushroom, Salt, Pepper
YELLOW : Mix Penne Pasta, Ceaser Salad Dressing, Parmesan Cheese. Add a Pork Ham
GREEN : Sautéed Australia Broccoli and Bacon

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Six Best Swiss Chocolatiers in Geneva!

Sometimes a sky-high reputation can be hard to live up to. For example, the Swiss are well known for their skill in watch and chocolate making. And yet for as long as I can remember, I haven't really been all that impressed. I mean yes, confectionery from Toblerone and Nestlé isn't bad, and some Lindt chocolates are even quite good, but by and large they aren't (in my opinion) that much better than many other brands available on our shores.

The secret, though, is that the best Swiss chocolate isn't made by multinational manufacturers, but by the dozens of small individual boutique artisan shops around the country. By nature of their (relatively small) size, they don't actively export any of their chocolates outside the country - so for those of us in Asia we really do need to fly to Europe to buy and try. Or ask someone else flying there to buy on our behalf, of course!

So without further ado, here's our in-alphabetical-order mini-guide to Six of the best Swiss Chocolatiers in Geneva! For maximum convenience we've chosen only stores that are within walking distance of Geneva's main shopping street, so you'd totally be able to visit all the stores within an hour or two.

Auer Amandes Princesses Best Swiss Chocolate Geneva

Auer Chocolatier
Amandes Princesses - 15.00 CHF
Auer's signature Amandas Princesses are almonds in crispy sugary coating, and then further coated in creamy milk chocolate with a dusting of cocoa powder. This was one of our favorite chocolates - the sugar gives just the right hint of crispiness to go along with the creamy chocolate and crunchy almonds. 4.5 stars.

La Bonbonniere Alcohol Best Swiss Chocolate Geneva

La Bonbonnière
Alcohol-center chocolates and Pavé de Genève - 26.00 CHF
These spheres (a variety of liqueurs including vodka, brandy, whisky, etc) are alcohol'ed on steroids - the teetotalers amongst us could actually get tipsy on a couple of these. The Pavé de Genève (those cube things) literally translate to "Geneva's Pavement," and are named after city's cobbled sidewalks. These are rich, silky, and supremely luxurious - but perhaps slightly lacking the complexity of Du Rhone's version (see below). These are best eaten cool - they're a little too hard if eaten straight out of the fridge, but melt too quickly if they're out too long in our Singapore heat. 4.0 stars.

Du Rhone Moccas Glaces Best Swiss Chocolate Geneva

Du Rhône Chocolatier
Moccas Glacés - 25.50 CHF
These coffee-flavoured Pavé de Genèves are absolutely delicious - the coffee adding a depth of flavour that's absent from regular offerings. Du Rhône won the Gault & Milleau Prize for these chocolates and we think it was well deserved! 4.5 stars.

Faverger Avelines Best Swiss Chocolate Geneva

Avelines - 9.70 CHF
The most 'commercial' chocolatier on the list, these were also the least enjoyable chocolates for us. Don't get us wrong, the hazelnut praline sandwiched between layers of smooth chocolate are still pretty good; just that they're a little weak in comparison to the others. 3.0 stars.

Note that Favarger sells two additional 'colors' in their Aveline range with green and blue wraps (milk and dark chocolates). These aren't worth the effort to buy and carry back to Singapore.

Laderach Assortment Best Swiss Chocolate Geneva

Läderach – chocolatier suisse
Assorted Chocolates - 24.20 CHF
These assorted chocolates are typically made by hand and priced by weight. We quite liked most of the choices - particularly the ginger ones, although some were perhaps a tad on the sweet side - like the dulce de leche. 4.0 stars.

Teuscher Champagne Truffles Best Swiss Chocolate Geneva

Truffes au Champagne - 31.50 CHF
A tad bit disappointed here. Teuscher makes a big deal of these truffles being made with Dom Pérignon Champagne. But we couldn't detect any hint of alcohol, and the truffle overall was really really sweet (bordering on sickly sweet). 3.5 stars.

We hope this mini-guide helps you on your quest to find the best Swiss Chocolate in Geneva! If you noticed, the prices aren't exactly cheap, so if you're on a budget we'd recommend definitely trying Auer's crispy/crunchy almonds and Du Rhône's coffee pavement slabs. Happy chocolate hunting!

At time of writing, 1.00 CHF = 1.43 SGD.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dry Foochew Chinese Red Wine Chicken Recipe

Serving for 2

2 tablespoons of Sesame Oil
30g of sliced Old Ginger
300g Chicken
3 tablespoons of Foochew Red Glutinous Rice Wine 红糟酒 Residual
50ml of Water
50g of sliced Shiitake Mushrooms
50g of sliced Black Fungus

  1. Heat pan on medium high heat and fry Old Ginger until fragrant.
  2. Place the Chicken and top with Foochew Red Glutinous Rice Wine 红糟酒 Residual.Pan dry until fragant, then add in Water and mix well.
  3. Cover & let it simmer for 25mins.
  4. Add in the Shiitake Mushrooms & Black Fungus, continue simmering for 5mins.
  5. Serve hot with Rice.

Recipe of homemade Foochew Red Glutinous Rice Wine 红糟酒

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pasta Exploration ::: Prefect Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe from Scratch

Been a fan of Carbonara, been buying the ready made sauce. However, since I started baking and using Thicken Cream for my bakes, here I am trying out Carbonara from scratch with the extra Thicken Cream I have in my fridge.

Serves 2 pax
1.5cm Angle Hair Spaghetti (x2 to x3)
2 L of Water
1 teaspoon of Salt

200ml Thicken Cream
2 Egg White
2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder
2 tablespoons of Parmesan Cheese
2 teaspoons of Herbs

8 slices of Bacon (cut up into 1cm slices)
50g sliced Mushrooms
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

2 Egg Yolk (Optional - Garnishing/serving for self mix)
chopped / dry Herbs (Garnishing)

  1. Cook pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the Thicken Cream, Egg White, Garlic Powder, Parmesan Cheese gently with a fork until well combine.
  3. Heat up a pan, cook Bacon stirring for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add Mushrooms and Olive Oil, stirring until the Bacon beginning to crisp, set pan aside.
  5. Quickly add the Carbonara mixture and Herbs, bring it to a simmer.
  6. Drain pasta, then return to pan, toss to combine. The heat from the pasta will cook the egg slightly and form a creamy sauce.
  7. Serve immediately with extra parmesan, crushed Black Pepper, Herbs and top with an egg yolk.

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Friday, June 12, 2015

One Mixing Bowl only Moist Banana Cake Recipe

In search for a banana cake that just using one mixing bowl, here is our first recipe trial. I've split the recipe into 3 pans (5" x 1.5" round pan) to use as a piece for an epic complex cake that we gave it a special name Dreamy Chocolate Banana Caramel Cake. After this post, we'll be posting the recipe.

Recipe for
(x2) 6" x 2" round pans
(x1) 8" x 3" square pans
12 muffins pan

2 Eggs
75g Sugar
120g mashed Banana
100g Top Flour
0.5 teaspoon Baking Soda
0.5 teaspoon Baking Powder
1.5 tablespoons of Milk
60g Vegetable Oil
100g Walnut

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease line the bottom of the pan with parchment papers.
  3. Whisk eggs, sugar n mashed bananas at max speed till stiff/ribbon stage, approx 10mins.
  4. Fold in sifted flour n milk alternately. Start n end with flour!
  5. Add in oil n mix well till batter is shiny n flowing.
  6. Sprinkle chopped walnuts and additional banana bits on top of batter n mix/fold with spatula before baking.
  7. Place in the oven for 30mins or until golden brown on the top. Test with a cake tester, if it comes out clean, leave the cake in the oven door slightly open for 10mins.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Click here for our blog page Baking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Air France New Business Class Review SIN-CDG (AF259)

In November last year, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on board Malaysia Airlines' Business Class to Sydney. We thought the service was nice, the food was good, and the seats were comfortable. MH's offering is quite last-gen now, though - which is partially why we managed to get the ticket at such low cost in the first place - so we're absolutely thrilled to bring you a review of a more current-generation business class experience. Enter Air France's (new) Business Class cabin, on flight AF259 from Singapore to Paris!

Air France New Business Class Cabin

Première partie (Part One) - Before the Flight.

Air France flies from Changi Airport Terminal One. Business-class check in is, as expected, a quick affair and the efficiency of Changi's Immigration and Security means that you're airside* within 10-15 minutes. Since AF only flies one flight a day to Singapore, the lounge is contracted to dnata's Skyview Lounge - it's a fairly comfortable lounge and overall slightly better than MH's offering in Changi.

* 'Airside' - a term describing the common area past customs & immigration, used mainly by frequent flyers to portray an air of superiority to the less frequently travelled.

Skyview Lounge Changi

Clearing security at the gate is a breezy affair too, because AF allows First and Business class passengers to skip to the front of the security line. Naturally they also get to board 'at their convenience' once the cabin is ready. As each row only has four seats in a 1-2-1 configuration ('every seat has direct aisle access' in AF's marketing), there's plenty of space in the overhead compartments for a bag or three.

Deuxième partie (Part Two) - The Seat.

On to the cabin and my little cubicle for the next thirteen hours, then! All 19 rows (76 seats) in the cabin are laid out in a reverse herringbone* arrangement. This provides a remarkable level of privacy - after you're seated, you really can't see any other passenger (except those walking past you in the aisles).

* 'Reverse Herringone' - a term describing an airplane cabin whose seats are angled away from the aisle slightly such that nobody can see anybody else. Used mainly by frequent flyers as a shortcut to avoid saying "the cabin had seats which were angled away from the aisle slightly such that nobody could see anybody else."

Air France New Business Class Seat

You get a nice, comfortable, decent-sized pillow, a blanket, and a hangar to hang your coat on. The flight attendants then take your coat, stow it away in a closet somewhere (or maybe the pilot puts it on if he gets cold) and hands it back to you at the end of the flight.

Air France New Business Class Seat

The seat reclines from an upright position to a fully flat, parallel-to-the-floor bed - and in any lounging position in-between as you decide. If you noticed, your lower legs go into the little 'hole' area underneath the table/desk area of the seat in front - Air France says this results in almost 2m (6'5") of length. I found the seat insanely comfortable, especially when in bed mode. I managed to get a very restful ~7 hours of sleep - MH's angled, wake-up-every-1-hour-to-push-yourself-back-up seat felt almost like premium economy in comparison.

Air France New Business Class Seat

I also really liked the little cubby on the side, and especially appreciated the elastic straps on the 'wall' which I used to strap down my passport and phone. Oh, there's a vanity mirror too, which some of you might find more useful than I did.

Air France New Business Class Seat

Next to that there's a (very cool white) reading light and the Android-powered handset for turning the lights on and off, calling the flight attendants, and controlling the in-flight-entertainment.

Air France New Business Class Seat

You also get a USB power slot (which didn't work for me) and a 120v power supply - enough juice to power all your devices throughout the entire flight. Unless you own a new MacBook, in which case you had better make sure your USB slot works.

Air France New Business Class Seat

The 16" screen is sharp and crisp and pops out towards you. Here you get a better view of how spacious the foot cubby is - I can't speak for the giant 7-footers among you, but if you're around or slightly over 6 feet tall you'll be perfectly comfortable.

Air France New Business Class Seat

Troisième partie (Part Three) - The Experience.

So far so good - having established that the hard product* is amazing (the cabin is stylish, the seat is gorgeous and the privacy is top notch), we move on to the more subjective parts of the flight.

* 'Hard Product' - a term used by frequent flyers to describe the seat, cabin and aircraft, as opposed to the "soft product" which is the service from the flight attendants, the food, and other unquantifiable measurements.

Air France New Business Class Amenity Kit

Before take-off, we're offered a choice of orange juice or Ayala Brut Majeur Champagne. I don't drink so I can't comment on the bubbly, but my sommelier friend Monsieur Google tells me it's a very highly rated 'budget' Champagne. We also get a small amenity kit with everything any air traveller might need - a toothbrush, toothpaste, ear buds, eye mask, moisturizer, lip balm, etc. I find myself more excited at the (in my opinion) rather stylish pouch than what's contained inside.

We're also given some disposable socks and slippers to keep your feet warm when you're in your seat, and clean when you're in the toilet.

Air France New Business Class Slippers

As we start pushing back from the gate, the safety video comes on and it's indescribably awesome! "... your seatbelt must be securely fastened. It will elegantly highlight your waistline while ensuring your safety." How adorable is that?

Air France supplies a generic brand of noise-canceling headphones which work well enough to drown out most of the engine noise and the snores of nearby passengers.

Air France New Business Class Noise Canceling Headphones

The in-flight-entertainment system is fast, quick, and has a decent selection of English movies and TV shows. Not as comprehensive as Singapore Airlines or Emirates offerings, of course, but for an overnight flight it's more than good enough. I also liked being able to see the flight map on the control set while also watching Jeremy Clarkson before he went crazy and got himself fired!

Air France New Business Class In Flight Entertainment

What I didn't like so much was the service. The flight attendants were ... clinical and competent, but they never did seem particularly interested to please. Maybe if I was a French-speaking Frenchman it might be different, but I couldn't help but get the feeling that they were all "sacre bleu! What eez deez le smelly chinois doing in my sophisticated French cabin?!?" One of the attendants working my aisle didn't even speak English, so her communication to me was only a series of pointy fingers and impromptu sign language.

Quatrième partie (Part Four) - The Food.

Sometimes I'm not too sure how Airline bigwigs plan meal services. AF 259 departs at 12.25am Singapore time; and about 45 minutes after that a full dinner service starts. Now I realize that it makes perfect sense to have dinner at 7pm if we're on Paris time, but ... we're still in Singapore, and it's 1.00am! My body and stomach just want to go to bed, but my hidden kiasu spirit says 'screw sleep, eat food!'

Air France New Business Class Menu
Air France New Business Class Menu
Air France New Business Class Menu

Amusingly enough, Air France serves the Appetizer on a tray together with the cheese plate, fruits and dessert. Once you're done with your appetizers they clear the plate and serve your main course. So if you weren't paying attention you could totally find yourself being served a grilled steak after you're halfway through your chocolate mousse.

Air France New Business Class Dinner Service

Although I wasn't in the best frame of mind (or frame of stomach) to eat, I still did very much mostly enjoy the food. I say 'mostly' because like most airplane breads the mini baguette was a little hard, and I find foie gras terrine (one of the appetizers) utterly disgusting. Don't get me wrong, I *adore* foie gras when it's sliced, seared properly and served hot, but when it's minced and served cold it's just one mushy mess.

Air France New Business Class Dinner Service

After heroically finishing everything on my plate I took a 7 hour nap, and woke up to a hot towel, steaming cup of espresso and some delicious lemon sable cookies. I'm totally upset that I didn't get the brand/manufacturer name (and I can't find it on google either) - gotta make a mental note to grab a box or two on the return flight.

Air France New Business Class Coffee and Cookies

For breakfast I went with the Cinnamon Apple Crepes which were sort of just OK.

Air France New Business Class Breakfast Service

Pour Conclure (In Conclusion)

Air France's new Business Class product is amazing. The seats are comfortable and private, food's pretty good and you can easily get a full night's rest. Service is a little aloof compared to the more service-focused Asian carriers, but it's adequate and I never did go hungry or thirsty throughout the flight. The timing is perfect, too, as you land in CDG at around 7.30am, just right for a full day's work in Paris (or to catch the early morning shuttle flights to the nearby European cities).

Air France New Business Class View of the Graian Alps
Nice view of Mont Blanc and the Graian Alps

Air France flies once daily from Singapore to Paris (and back). Indicative Air Fares are around s$1.2k for Economy and s$6.8k for Business Class (I flew on corporate discounted rate which was significantly lower). Hope you enjoyed the review!

** slightly off topic **

Having experienced AF's current gen Business Class product and comparing it to Malaysia Airlines, I think I can now understand why MAS' new CEO Mr Mueller is trying to cut down on long haul flights. MAS' premium cabin simply isn't competitive, and most people won't pay premium money to fly a subpar product. So it makes sense for MAS to concentrate on regional, medium-haul routes where other competitors also still fly older cabins.

Anyway as a Malaysian I have lots of memories flying on MAS, so I wish all the best to Mr Mueller and hope his turnaround plans work wonders!