Monday, July 30, 2007

The whimsical bridal shower box

My lovely neighbor, Candice merely said: "There are 8 of us at this bridal shower, and I want to impress." How nice it is to have the creative freedom in baking. When SW made a birthday cake order, she did the same: "I want a birthday cake, what can you make?" You have no idea how much I love you all for this.

You've seen the birthday cake. Here are pics of the bridal shower order:

The menu:

~ Plush chocolate pillows of engagement rings ~

Chocolate soufflé cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream

~ Bed of roses ~

Nutty pistachio cupcakes with a hint of cardamom topped with creamy rose buttercream

~ Matcha dots ~

Matcha (green tea) macaroons with creamy white chocolate ganache

~ Petal dots ~

Hibiscus macaroons with sticky meringue cream and swirls of hibiscus syrup

~ Sandy sables ~

Buttery muffin tin cookies

The whimsical bridal shower box

Chocolate soufflé cake with vanilla bean
French buttercream...

...topped with a hand made candy diamond ring

Buttery sables and hibiscus macaroons

Matcha macaroons with white chocolate ganache filling
to offset the bitter after taste of green tea

Bed of roses

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Strawberries and cream

First Macarune cake sale: Vanilla bean layer cake with fresh strawberry center and zesty cream cheese frosting with silver dragées and violet hearts on the side, assuming everyone likes to play with their food like I do.

Small note from SW about the cake here>

Saturday, July 28, 2007

3 years of bliss

I worked from home today cause my agency's moving to another building. This means furiously whipping French buttercream with one hand, while checking emails with the other. There are 2 Macarune orders due this weekend so 90% of my afternoon was spent gently folding stiff egg whites into cake batter, constantly checking oven temperature and washing and reusing the mixer bowl.

The resulting product was pleasant: vanilla bean layer cake lightly brushed with orange blossom syrup, layered with fresh farmer's market strawberries, and frosted with zesty cream cheese frosting. By the end of the day I had 1 order down, 1 broken plate, 5 rounds of dishwashing done and 9 broken eggs. It couldn't be clearer how important it is to have a commercial kitchen for heavy duty baking like this. That, or a house-elf.

When the bf got home I was exhausted (mostly from dish-washing really) and teary-eyed. Between small kisses and big hugs, I found myself saying, "I hate my job" only to realize how this isn't even my real job. Funny how we say things we don't mean instinctively just because of how we feel at the moment. And that's the one thing I've always done in our relationship.

I haven't mentioned, but the bf and I reached our 3-year mark last Saturday. As this month has not only been hectic but slightly brutal, we spent the day quietly in his car, parked by the beach. Me reading with my feet resting on the dashboard, and him blowing puffs of smoke out the window. 3 years is a long time when the majority of your time's spent living with the other person. Of course we have our moments, and there were gaps in between those 3 years when I "wasn't sure." I hold my twenty-something status accountable.

At this moment, I can't say enough how very sure I am, and maybe it's instinctive but as he turns around to kiss me lightly just to remind me he's here, I just know.

Us in Chicago summer of '04

2nd anniversary gift from the bf
Custom-made ring by Mark Poulin

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Time out

When the world hits you with the inauspicious “unexpected,” you can A. tackle it with your shields up or B. stick your face in a book. While the former is usually expected of twenty-somethings like me who have responsibilities in social empathy, the latter I realized, is what I’ve been doing for many years. Books are a way to escape to different worlds where people fight and die while you cry, but at the end of the day you’re detached from it all because it’s not happening to you. And that’s why they’re so beautiful.

Things have been good in SF lately. I had Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows delivered to my doorstep on the day of release. The bf’s sweeter than ever, and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather spend my days with. Cupcake orders have been pouring despite my feeble attempts in advertising – when you work in the field, you don’t usually bring work home. On a similar note, projects at work have been kicking off left and right. And I’ll be heading down to LA for a shoot next week.

See? Everything’s not so bad. Somehow gloom still looms and I’m wondering if it’s all the teen angst I’m dealing with through reading Harry Potter books.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer day off

As I'd mentioned before, I took Friday off to spend time with the bf. Since dayoffs are hard to come by, we chose to do everything that would normally require queuing up. Think Tartine Bakery, Bi-rite creamery, theme park and the latest Harry Potter movie.

We did all of it and more.

Nothing like a good dose of ice cream in the AM

Theme parks are great for:

Getting tanned

Monkeying around

Scoring your dream hunk

Sparring with superheroes

Pretending you're sampaning by some exotic island

Having a BLAST!
Nice kiddie leash Ma'am

Feeding "rescued" animals
$5/fish for Bobby the seal

Checking out other wild animals

...and snapping shots of nostalgic Australian birds
"Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree..."

That's about it really

We left at 2 and headed straight to the theater for Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix and Transformers. The former was as good as expected. Great depiction of the book, and hands down better than the Goblet of Fire. The latter, cheesy Michael Bay (as expected).

The night ended with fireworks from a distance

As I sit in the comfort of my couch typing this entry of such mundane going-ons, I can't help but wonder what's happening with Nathaniel Tan.

I thought I overdid it when...

I spent $200 during the L'Occitane sale

But when Corporate Body Shop announced a sale in our building, I may have gone overboard...

...just a little

Friday, July 13, 2007

Baking inspired by Tartine

From left: fresh fruit tart with a just-sweet-enough crust
and the world's most satisfying chocolate pudding

Not those. Those we got from Tartine Bakery.

I have to admit. As a child who grew up in Malaysia, my experience with delectable slices of kuih and agar-agar left no room for "pudding love." Even so, there's something to be said about this rich Scharffen Berger chocolate pudding that lasted the bf and me a full day. And that's saying a lot. Other goodies we got included the signature Tartine quiche and unexpectedly, the gougère which I had craved all of a sudden.

Bite after bite of the gruyère speckled gougère (say that 10 times quickly) the bf and I couldn't hide our contentment. It was just the right thing to savor before dinner. The fluffy-layered interior brought back memories of the teenier versions served as an amuse bouche at Parisian bistros. As tempted as I was to get another 1 (we finished it even before reaching Bi-rite down the street) I resisted, and decided to make my own.

Bite-sized gougères with gruyère, parmesan and fresh thyme
freshly-baked right after our trip to Tartine

I'm taking a day off tomorrow to join the bf in his last day off before starting his new job. Guess where we're going for breakfast at 7AM in the morning?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Facts fuelled by "me" time

This time, I'm not kidding.

I'm REALLY taking a break from baking. Sure I got my first order of cupcakes for Sunday. But that aside, I'm staying away from more baking at least till Monday. Instead, I'm gonna gimme some "me" time. Yes flour! You heard me. Damn you and your stupid friends sugar. And Valrhona, don't think I love you just coz you have a fancy name!

So what do I do with this “me” time?

Create a "me" list:

  1. I had my first taste of foie gras at 9
  2. I have never dyed or expressed desire to dye my hair
  3. At 13, I dated a boy for a month. The relationship promptly ended when he tried to stick his tongue down my throat.
  4. I have neither been too thin or too fat, but grew up convinced I was overweight
  5. I’m an environmentalist at heart, but sometimes I throw an apple core on the grass because it's, well, biodegradable
  6. Toast dripping with butter is my favorite food on earth. But every time I eat it, I get a fever afterwards
  7. There are quite a few people in this world I’d rather not have to deal with for the rest of my life
  8. I might hesitate spending $30 on a top but have no qualms about spending $100s on skincare
  9. Béchamel sauce tastes much better if I didn't know what went in it
  10. I love Paris no matter what
  11. Pandan kaya is just as good to me as crêpe Suchard
  12. I have low tolerance for blown up titles in jobs, politics and life
  13. I know myself a lot less than the bf does
  14. The bf is by far my greatest discovery at twenty-something
  15. I’ve been to 18 different countries in the world
  16. I’ve lived only in cities. 6 cities to be exact. I could very well be a country girl at heart, but I really don't know
  17. I will eat anything once
  18. I won't do everything once
  19. I dream of living in South of France. Le Cordon Bleu is just a step closer
  20. I look better in pants than I give myself credit for
  21. I over-indulge in everything but am addicted to nothing
  22. My life will always be a fairy tale
  23. Kissing ass doesn't cut it for me. Even if it means a million dollars
  24. There are people who come and go in my life. And I think of them fondly as I sip my morning coffee
  25. My mom told me that coffee made kids stupid. I now drink more tea than coffee
  26. I did retail at Banana Republic and kicked ass
  27. Every job I've had has been advertising-related down to (my first job ever!) selling ad space for The Daily Free Press at BU. Every job but the 1 at Banana Republic
  28. I have fond memories of trudging through piles of snow feeling the cold wetness seep through my classic adidas in Boston
  29. I prefer Pretz to Pocky
  30. As a kid, I made my own mini candy store with cardboard, mini jam jars and rewrapped cut-up sweets
  31. My most memorable “alone” time in life involved an hour long boat ride from Montreux to Le Bouveret after a 6 hr flight, swimming in Lake Geneva, walking down Sixth Ave. in Manhattan for interviews, and stepping into my dorm room for the first time at BU
  32. I was head cheerleader in high school
  33. At 10, I disobeyed my teacher by rollerblading in class. She slapped me and I laughed
  34. Max the dog bit me in Oct '05 and left a scar on my left cheek
  35. I crave chocolate only once a month
  36. I developed allergies at 21
  37. Despite graduating with honors, I didn't do the walk. No reason
  38. I love and hate being Asian
  39. When living in London, I ate fries and mayo almost every night before bed
  40. The bf has “Slow Show” by the National as his ring tone when I call
  41. I’m clumsy
  42. I performed a “story-telling” of Roald Dahl’s The Brolly Man during junior high, and cussed twice right into the microphone because I forgot my lines
  43. I used to think all bloggers were narcissistic. Still do
  44. Talent over looks on all counts
  45. I would move to London just for clotted cream (and Selfridges, and Waitrose, and )
  46. I don’t understand chick flicks and was shocked to hear that some of my closest friends swear by Legally Blonde for motivation. You know who you are
  47. I’m not the least bit religious
  48. But I just laid on the kitchen floor asking God why my candy thermometer broke

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Variety is always good

That's why I don't just do macaroons

Behold, the chocolate soufflé cake
Red currants beat the conventional cherry on top any time

2nd Macarune order: pistachio French macaroons

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Not sure what to name this entry

The hassle of spring cleaning is over and signs welcoming the beginning of summer are pretty damn refreshing. Trees bloom white flowers with juicy fat petals, city streets line with festivity, storefronts catch the twenty-somethings’ eyes with bright colored floral dresses, and the unmistakable words of “SALE” and “50% off” shout at you everywhere you go. Each weekend is savored with walks in the park and lattes at the local café followed by the petting of local city pets and the occasional damage to our wallets.

The wind’s still strong but the sun’s shining, so your mind tells you it’s ok to wear your Rainbows. It’s ok to walk to work without a jacket. And it’s ok to eat as much watermelon as you want without fear of getting “wind” in your stomach. If this is just the beginning, I can’t wait to dive right into summer.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

First batch (for sale)

Yes, it's true. I'm proud to see my babies go.

Coffee and rose French macaroons
I'm calling them macaroons from now on just cause macaron seems to confuse everyone

Putting my love for ribbons to good use

Final touch, and out the door!

Name cards to-go

The sample macaroons and temporary menu that started it all

I'm finalizing the menu (which will include cupcakes and shortbread!) and should have it distributed to the "taste-testers" with the final tasting batch shortly. I hope you're as excited as I am.

Monday, July 2, 2007

How I celebrated the end of June..

the end of the quarter, and the beginning of summer.

Friday night:
Bellinis, champagne and strawberries at the Bubble Lounge with SW and S.

Hello? Hello??!
Someone please rescue me from lousy pick-up lines

Sometimes it gets too sunny in the club

Bubble lamp at the Bubble Lounge

Saturday: Walk downtown, shopping and Ratatouille with the bf. Apologies to those who were
texted multiple times on how FANTASTIC the movie was. I couldn't help it cause I loooooved it. LOVED IT.

Thou shall not laugh

I used to live on these.
Now I live on him (see the kid behind the mags?)
No no. Not Alfred E. Neuman. The Asian kid

The bf marking his territory

Acute analysis of the $50 sandal

Sorry Michael. Maybe next week?

Mmm... popcorn

Mmm.. Jumbo-sized soda

Sunday: Stuffing our faces (and drinking on the streets! Yes, we don't usually get to do that here) at the Fillmore Jazz Fest. Hitting balls at the range and prepping for my FIRST order of
macarons :) Yipee!

Crispy chicken, funnel cake and fattie!


Glug glug glug

Absolutly funny