Roasted Dutch Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar and Honey

>> Monday, December 20, 2010

One of my favourite activities during the week is grocery shopping. Or more precisely, shopping at the food markets with my fashionable granny trolley (which was on my Christmas wishlist but I couldn't wait and got it myself a few weeks ago!)

Apart from the obvious pleasures of smelling/touching/purchasing the freshest produce and seeing all the seasonal items in abundance - I enjoy observing how people around me go about this activity and seeing their different purchasing patterns.

I also love to listening on to people's conversations at the markets (yes, I eavesdrop while I shop!). Like the time I was picking carrots, a man next to me asked his young son,

"Do you know what these are called?" 
"Errr...purple carrots?"
"No, these are called heirloom carrots, ok?"

Good on ya, dad! I adore conversations like this. 

Teaching kids that carrots don't come in a packet off the supermarket shelf. 

Then just a few days ago, I was picking some corns and this young boy came up next to me and asked,

"So, what do you look for in a corn? How do you know if it's any good?"

I taught him to pick ones which are bright and plump. Then he proceeded to have a conversation with me which rocked me socks off. With such genuine enthusiasm, he talked about how awesome that the blackberries in his basket are and how cheap they are now. Maybe it's because I don't have any kids myself yet, but it feels rather strange to be talking to a young kid as if you are talking to a grown-up.

Anyways, so this is the first time I have purchased those dutch carrots! December has a way of making you do things you normally wouldn't do. And plus I couldn't take my eyes off these when I saw them all vibrant and joyful, almost singing out to me.

These are so sweet and simply delicious - I'm sure they'd make a great side to any meaty Christmas dishes!

I wish your Monday was very nice and you keep safe during this festive time... 


  • 1 bunch Dutch carrots
  • 30 ml  olive oil
  • 3-4 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Few sprigs of dills (although I would recommend using thyme since dill don't really quite work as well as thyme - just what I had in the fridge).

1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
2. Trim carrot tops and wash carrots well.
3. Place carrots in medium baking dish with combined oil, garlic and honey and balsamic vinegar; toss well. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
4. Roast, uncovered, 15 minutes.
5. Add thyme leaves, roast further 3 minutes or until tender.


Black Sesame Agar Agar + winners of Baker's Delight challenge

>> Thursday, December 16, 2010

[Scroll to the bottom of the post to see if you're the winner of the Baker's Delight Challenge!]

This week I am learning to surrender

The relinquishment of one's own will, says wiki. 

What exactly am I surrendering? Well, a dream of mine. Although small - it does mean something to me. A dream that is almost within an arm's reach.

But circumstances change in our lives, and most of the time with little notice. So you try to be mature about it. You wrestle with the decisions in your head over and over. Then you step back. If you don't let go your hold on it, how can you know what else God has planned for you?

So here I am.  I am trying to be patient and I am waiting. I am also a bit scared of the unknown. 

Thankfully the thought that this joyous time of the year is upon us (9 more sleeps 'til Christmas - I kid you not!) just makes everything a little better. The sun came out for me this morning... Did that 'mean' person from work just smiled at me? Oh why, doesn't my hair look fashionably messy today? And how could I have made this black sesame agar agar look rather...well, presentable? ;)

Truth be told, I haven't been able to do any Christmas cooking/baking! But I have definitely enjoyed reading soo many wonderful posts from all over the world. This agar agar was made just because I happened to have the ingredients available. It may look like black sesame panna cotta, but the texture is completely different! Do not expect some smooth, velvety kind of pudding. The agar agar makes it rather 'chewable' if you know what I mean. It's almost like eating a banana that's black sesame flavoured. That sounds weird, doesn't it? But if you're a black sesame fan like I am, you'll be addicted and have one after another....

Black Sesame Agar Agar
Makes around 4
  • 3 tbsp sweetened black sesame paste (I used 3 tbsp of black sesame powder instead)
  • ~2 tbsp sugar (omit this if you're using the paste. Adjust the sugar according to your personal taste.)
  • 100ml cream
  • 400ml milk
  • 1 tsp agar agar powder
  • (optional) - whipping cream
  • (optional) - brown sugar syrup
1. In a bowl, add in the sesame paste and slowly pour in the cream and mix until combined. If using black sesame powder as I did, combine with the sugar first before blending in with the cream.

2. In a pot, add the milk and agar agar powder. Let sit for a few minutes and begin heating it up on a stove on low/medium heat until it boils. Take the pot off the stove.

3. Pour the black sesame cream paste from step 1 into the pot with the hot milk and mix to combine.

4. Let the pot sit in a bath of ice cold water and to cool down before pouring into the pudding molds.  Place into the fridge until set.

5. To serve - whip up some cream and pour some brown sugar syrup over the top.


Baker's Delight Challenge Winners!

Sorry for the long wait - but here are the randomly picked winners of the Baker's Delight challenge:


Congrats people! I will be sending you an e-mail soon.

Angela - I do not have your details so you will have to shoot me an e-mail!



Banana Mango Cake

>> Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I am going to be trite here and say something you have heard a million times recently:

I can't believe it's almost Christmas! And I can't believe another year has gone by!

What an eventful revolution around the sun it has been - so many changes, laughter, tears, joy, personal growth (which I wish there were more of!) and blessings. Another year of God's faithfulness.

What have I been up to apart from humming Disney songs (thanks to all those people who changed their facebook profile to Disney characters!) and eating buttered corns?

Well, I've signed up for this website which requires me to fill in my personal information like what I do in my spare time and what my daily routine is like. I wrote about which type of people I am compatible and can get along with. Things I can't stand in a person. You get the picture. I am trying to be 'matched' and connected with the people in this city.

I mean to me, this seems like the last resort. Especially if you are a bit desperate and just can't find 'the one'?  So, today I met up with a potential 'match' after work. I went over to the that person's place actually. 

Whoa, you're thinking...aren't you moving a little bit too fast Viv?!

Friends, I don't know what you're thinking, but I am looking for a flatmate/roommate of course! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to lead you on. To think that this is some juicy post. But I just couldn't stop chuckling to myself when I was filling out the flatmate finder form. This is just a bit funny to me.

But yes, I am moving. Again. It's hard. It's tiring. It's oh-very-exciting. The house I saw tonight wasn't the one unfortunately. It was nice and warm. But it needs to work on its hygiene a little bit to be considered a contender. 

Let's hope the next few ones I see will be good! I'm dreaming about a light filled kitchen with some mango trees in the backyard.

Just because, I love mangoes. 

When life don't give you enough bananas, you can just use mangoes. Truly.

I was having a dilemma when I was making my usual banana cake weeks ago, only to find at the last minute that one banana was missing!  Calm down. Quick, think of your feet! What do I have. Mangoes! Now, where have I heard about mango bread before? Thanks Deb! I remember she said that mango bread is the Hawaiian's answer to our banana bread!

I used my usual banana bread recipe and just substituted a banana for 1 small mango. I also added in some nutmeg and cinnamon.

The verdict? This is like eating the most fragrant piece of cake ever. When I took a bite, I was thinking, 'This tastes sooo pretty'. Weird I know. But the mango and nutmeg add much 'perfume' to this banana bread that I can just imagine having this with a cup tea with my future potential flatmates in our mango-tree filled backyard.

Banana Mango Cake
Inspired by How to be a Domestic Goddess
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 50ml grapeseed oil (or similar neutral cooking oil)
  • 1/4 cup yoghurt (I used greek yoghurt)
  • 150g sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 small, very ripe bananas (about 300g weighed without skin), mashed
  • 1 medium sized mango (Updated 8/12/2010: it's Mango not Banana - sorry for the typo!)
  • (optional) a handful of chopped pecans (just because I found them in the pantry)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 170ÂșC/gas mark 3 and get started on the rest.

2. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.

3. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, grapeseed oil, yoghurt and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas and mangoes (cut into small cubes)

4. Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the pecans (optional) and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit.

5. Scrape into the loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1 1/4 hours. When it's ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish.

6. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer.


Curry Seafood Bruschetta

>> Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Remember the time when I used up half a French baguette from Baker's Delight and stuffed it with prawn and cream cheese (and ate it all by myself because I had no one to share it with?)

I thought it's about time that I post about the other's fearful symmetry! (A terribly poetic usage, I know.)
And also to remind you that there are only a few days left for the Baker's Delight challenge - a chance for you to win a voucher to sample some of their new artisan range - just leave a comment on that post for your chance to win! :D 

Seafood curry is a first for me. And it made my kitchen smell crazy delicious that I'm pretty sure the neighbours were standing outside my door sniffing through the cracks. Scary (imaginary) neighbours.  The baguette is toasted to perfect crunchiness and the rich seafood and melting cheese that goes on top of it makes it the perfect snack anytime during the day.
Curry Seafood Bruschetta
  • 1/2 French baguette
  • 80-100g mixed seafood (fresh or frozen - I used fresh from the local seafood shop)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 50g cheese (I used mozarella)
  • handful of herbs (like parsley)
Preheat oven to 200C.

1. Put a pan over medium heat and once hot, add the olive oil and garlic. Stir until fragrant and slightly golden. 

2. Defrost the mixed seafood if necessary and add to the pan along with the herbs.
3. Once cooked/heated up, add the curry powder and stir around the pan until combined.
4. Add the milk and cream - let it cook for a few minutes and add the salt and pepper. 

5. Slice the baguette into around 2cm thick slices. Using a small knife, make a cut (lightly) around the centre of the slice and press down on it to create a cavity (to hold more toppings!).
6. Put the seafood mixture into the cavity of the baguette and put the cheese on top of each.
7. Back at 200C until the cheese melts (roughly 5-10 minutes - keep an eye out to make sure that sides of the baguette doesn't burn.)

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