Tuesday, September 7, 2010

13

Blueberry Muffins - Blogging from the Land of Maple Syrup!


Bonjour from Montreal! This is my first post since I've arrived in Canada around two weeks ago. I've started to settle in already - adapting to the colder weather, cooking for myself, getting around the city and - the most tedious parts - cleaning my room and doing the laundry. Nonetheless, I have been really enjoying my time here in this beautiful city (especially the frsh air, green grass and blue skies!) both during frosh week and just going around with friends. Here are some pictures taken around Montreal:


But the best part is that I have an oven in my apartment!! That means I'll get to contin
ue baking here! I was so happy to see it when I moved in. During grocery shopping the other day I finally picked up a few basic ingredients and I whipped up these blueberry muffins to share with my roommates.


In Hong Kong I never really had any good blueberries before because they're really expensive, but here they're considerably cheaper and a lot fresher too. I like eating my berries in a product more than by itself, so blueberry muffins were the perfect thing - easy to make and delicious to eat. I'm glad all my roommates like them (well they were gone by the end of the day) - permanent taste testers for this year!


These muffins are light, just sweet enough to balance the tang of the berries and have a delightfully, slightly crunchy top. I had some trouble figuring out how the oven works, and it seemed like they were not baking. I peeked inside the oven and it turns out that there is no heating element on the top, but somehow the tops browned as well. Can anyone help out here?


I also splurged and got myself a stick blender, so I've been whipping up berry-banana smoothies everyday for breakfast too. It's a real handy tool and I love it to bits! With the freedom to cook and eat whatever I want now, I'm sure I will be trying out many new recipes and dishes - can't wait to share them all with you, successful or not!

Anyway I have a class soon (yes I'm blogging in the library again) so I'll leave you with the link to the recipe from Smitten Kitchen. The only thing different I got was that the recipe made 12 muffins instead of 9 or 10 for me. And they are awesome drizzled with maple syrup :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

6

Matcha Cheesecake, Apologies and an Announcement


Hello everyone!

First comes the apologies - I know I've been an extremely bad blogger this year/summer. Yes, I promised that I'd post more frequently after IB was over...but who knew that summer was going to fly past so fast?

Which leads me into the "announcement" - in the blink of an eye, I am about to embark on the next phase of my journey in life. In two days' time, I will be leaving Hong Kong for university (college) in...wait for it...*drum roll*....Montreal, Canada! So My Buttery Fingers will be moving it's base kitchen over there too!

My last month was basically filled with shopping for clothes and supplies, seeing friends off, packing things, sorting out things for college, helping out at my church's English class and a camp - hence the lack of blogging.

I really don't know what the state of my "kitchen" in Montreal will be like - will there be an oven? An electric mixer? Are there spatulas around? It's impossible that I move my tools over there so I'll just have to make do with what's waiting for me there. I'll most likely be on a much tighter budget for groceries as an overseas student, so it would be necessary to save up for baking :(

As for the recipe for this post, I bring you this baked Matcha Cheesecake I made quite awhile ago. It's from a Japanese cookbook dedicated to cheesecakes my sister gave me for my last last birthday, which she insisted I bake from. This cheesecake is not too rich but still has a great creamy texture. The matcha taste stands out quite well - with it's always refreshing taste, it makes these luscious squares fit for eating in summer.

The recipe also comes with a white chocolate topping on top, but I found it quite unnecessary as the taste didn't stand out quite well and baked into quite an unattractive colour! I would omit it next time.

Hope you'll all enjoy this for now! Next post will be from Canada (land of maple syrup, yay) !

Matcha (Green Tea) Cheesecake
Adapted from Cheese Cake Book by Junko Fukuda, Yasuyo Shida and Kumiko Yanase (Original Recipe in Chinese)

Base
80g Digestive biscuits, crushed into fine crumbs
30g Unsalted butter, melted

Filling
250g Cream cheese
80g + 2 tsp Sugar (measure separately)
50g Whipping cream
1 Egg
1 tbsp Flour
2 tsp Matcha powder
1tbsp Brandy (I used rum)

White Chocolate Topping
20g Whipping cream
100g White chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 160 C.
2. Mix digestive biscuit crumbs with melted butter, press into 8-in square pan. Chill until the filling is prepared.
3. Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and mix it into the cream cheese mixture. Sift in the flour and combine.
4. Set aside 25g of the cream cheese batter. Beat in the brandy, matcha powder and the 2tsp of sugar into the remaining batter. Pour in the matcha batter into the pan, smoothen the top and chill until needed.
5. Place the cream and white chocolate into separate microwaveable bowls. Nuke the cream for 10-20 seconds until very hot, and the chocolate for 20 seconds. Mix the hot cream into the chocolate and blend well. Set aside until cool, and then mix in the previously set aside cream cheese batter.
6. Drizzle or pipe the white chocolate batter onto the matcha batter into a pattern. There might be some leftover white chocolate batter. Bake the cheesecake for 35-40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan until it reaches room temperature, chill for 2-3 hours. Remove from the pan and cut into squares.

Monday, July 26, 2010

2

Taiwan Gradtrip (Food) Diary: Day 4 - Kaohsiung

Hi guys - I just got back my 8D7N graduation trip to Taiwan! We travelled to three main destinations in Taiwan: Kenting National Park, Kaohsiung City and Taipei City. The trip was amazing - was filled with fun, adventure, laughs and of course, wonderful food which I am desperate to share with you! In the next few posts I will write about where we went, what we did and the food we ate - sort of like a travel diary so I can remember this fantastic trip. I hope you'll find it entertaining and helpful if you decide to travel to Taiwan in the future!

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Itinerary: Day 4
Breakfast at hotel > British Consulate at Takao > Ramen Lunch > Fisherman's Wharf > Taiwan Sugar Museum > Shopping at Dream Mall > Liuhe Night Market

To be completely honest, I don't think Kaohsiung has that many places to visit as a tourist and the places we went on Day 3 were not very interesting, maybe it's because the whole day was rainy and dreary (but I'm going to talk about them anyway for the sake of remembering what we did). Picture above is taken at the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station.

Do: Former British Consulate
This beautiful building was built a long time ago, and it is now a museum type of building that has exhibitions displaying information about Kaohsiung's historical relationship with Britain. It takes a few flights of stairs to get up here, and you will be rewarded with a stunning view of Kaohsiung's port. (Info + directions)

Lunch: Ramen Place We Stumbled Upon
We sort of got lost on our way trying to get to the Fisherman's Wharf, and we found this little ramen place on the street and it did not disappoint. I had a Pork Ramen with Shoyu Tamago (soya sauce eggs). The soup was very good - flavourful and rich, whilst the ramen was perfectly chewy. The pork slices were also very tender. NT100 for the ramen, eggs and coke with free refill - very reasonable price!

Do: Fishermen's Wharf
A few restaurants along the harbour and that's pretty much it. We spent some time playing arcade games inside the tiny shopping centre instead! (Info + directions)

Do: Taiwan Sugar Museum
This is the old site of a sugar factory and houses some displays about sugar refining. Lined with trees and flowers, it's a great place to walk around and photograph. There was even an underground tunnel to walk through - the kind where people used to go into during bombings! There is also a shop selling lots of food - ranging from ice cream, black sugar syrup to egg rolls. I bought a red-bean yeast ice dessert (NT 35) - it tasted a little strange, as the yeast ice had an alcohol flavour. I still don't know exactly what it was!

Do: Shopping at Dream Mall
We originally wanted to take a ride on the Ferris wheel on the roof of the mall, but it was raining again so didn't go. The mall is packed full with a wide range of shops, but since most of the stuff was available in Hong Kong we didn't buy much. There is a food court in the basement selling a wide range of food. The curry rice I had there was mediocre through...but the bakery there sells awesome custard-filled buns! (Info + directions)

Eat: Liuhe Night Market
This is the best thing about Kaohsiung! Amazing food condensed along two short streets :) The day we went was just after the Dragon Boat Festival, so there was a parade going on and we even got to see fireworks! Now onto the food:

Deep Fried Cheese
This is basically some mozzarella cheese wrapped with a spring roll wrapper then deep fried. The crispy skin gives way to a delightfully creamy centre, and it came with a wasabi-mayo dipping sauce, yum. NT60/5 pieces





Deep Fried Cuttlefish
The cuttlefish pieces were a bit too salty for my liking but was quite chewy. Very fragrant as it was tossed with deep fried garlic. NT30/packet






Fishballs in Soup

The fish balls were bouncy and chewy and tasted quite fresh. They also sell pork balls, dumplings and vegetables in soup. NT40/bowl






Pepper Beef Buns

My first pepper beef bun in Taiwan. Peppery and juicy beef filling with a crunchy bread shell, yummy!







Papaya Milk

The perfect refreshment after all the deep fried food! I've always loved papaya milk, but the papaya milk in Taiwan is just like ambrosia - chock full of papaya flavour and all the sweetness is from the fruit and not from sugar. I want one right now! :p NT40/cup


Also alot of other things to taste - kebabs, Turkish icecream, seafood, fruits...if only I had a bigger stomach! (Info + directions)

Monday, June 28, 2010

2

Taiwan Gradtrip (Food) Diary: Day 3 - Kenting/Kaohsiung

Hi guys - I just got back my 8D7N graduation trip to Taiwan! We travelled to three main destinations in Taiwan: Kenting National Park, Kaohsiung City and Taipei City. The trip was amazing - was filled with fun, adventure, laughs and of course, wonderful food which I am desperate to share with you! In the next few posts I will write about where we went, what we did and the food we ate - sort of like a travel diary so I can remember this fantastic trip. I hope you'll find it entertaining and helpful if you decide to travel to Taiwan in the future!

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
Itinerary: Day 3
Breakfast > Packed up > Lunch at Kenting Main Street > Travel to Kaohsiung (2-hour van ride) > Checked into hotel > Dinner at beef noodles shop > Walk along Love River and take Boat ride

We didn't do much this day as we had to travel back to Kaohsiung for the next part of our trip. We were going to visit Kenting Farm in the morning, but it was raining too hard for us to go out :( I thought I would be able to live up my Pioneer Woman dream by taking photos of cows and pastures :(

Eat: Lunch at Yi Ben Lo Mei
This is a place that specialises in soya sauce dishes. It's a casual restaurant where the customers can pick their own ingredients from the variety of meats, vegetables and noodles, which is then cooked up with their specialty soya sauce.

I chose to have vegetables, an egg, some pork balls with mushrooms and some noodles. I really liked their sauce as its slightly sweet, not too salty or heavy and it had hints of spice. The noodles were the best; they had a texture similar to that of the noodles in Mi Goreng (Indonesian noodles) and it really mopped up all the sauce, so it was very tasty! Price depends on what you pick to eat - probably around NT100-200.

Eat: Dinner at Gang Yuan Beef Noodles
My, my...even mentioning the words "beef noodles" can make me salivate instantly...I really miss it from Taiwan! First we ordered some cold cucumber sticks with garlic, sesame and chilli oil, which were very tasty and refreshing.

As for the beef noodles, we had the tossed variety this time and it was just absolutely delicious! The noodles were thick and chewy - my kinda noodles - and the sauce was just thick enough to slightly coat the noodles. The beef was tender and well-flavoured. Perfect eaten with a dash of chilli oil.

We shared a bowl of noodles between two, and a plate of cucumbers between 4 - NT63 each.

Do: Love River, Kaohsiung
This river is supposedly a landmark of Kaohsiung, but it wasn't very interesting to see. A boat ride at NT80 each takes you up and down the river, but when we went it was almost Dragon Boat Festival so we only travelled up half the river.

Eat: Macarons from Le Petit Prince Bakery
The macarons were quite dissapointing - they a bit too dry and crumbly, not much flavour and very little filling. NT120 per bag.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

2

Taiwan Gradtrip (Food) Diary: Day 2 - Kenting

Hi guys - I just got back my 8D7N graduation trip to Taiwan! We travelled to three main destinations in Taiwan: Kenting National Park, Kaohsiung City and Taipei City. The trip was amazing - was filled with fun, adventure, laughs and of course, wonderful food which I am desperate to share with you! In the next few posts I will write about where we went, what we did and the food we ate - sort of like a travel diary so I can remember this fantastic trip. I hope you'll find it entertaining and helpful if you decide to travel to Taiwan in the future!

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
Itinerary: Day 2
Breakfast > Sightseeing around Kenting [ChuanFan Rock (船帆石), Elulanbi Lighthouse (鵝鑾鼻燈塔)] > Lunch at HengChun Ancient Town > Dead Coral Beach (星砂灣) > MaoBiTou Park (貓鼻頭) > Water Activities at ChuanFan Rock Beach (船帆石沙灘) > Dinner at Amy's Cucina

Do: Sightseeing Around Kenting

ChuanFan Rock (船帆石)
A rock that is apparently eroded to look like a ship's sail. From the side as seen on the photo, it is supposed to look like President Nixon's profile. It was raining like nobody's business when we passed by, so we only took photos from the car.


Elulanbi Lighthouse (鵝鑾鼻燈塔)
This was built by the British when they were in Taiwan. A small trail from there leads to the most southern point of Taiwan (which again we didn't go due to the rain). It was still pouring like mad, so we were all donned in kiddy yellow plastic raincoats!


Dead Coral Beach (星砂灣)

The beach is not composed of fine sand, but rather, thousands of irregularly shaped pieces of dead coral that has been washed onshore! We had a fun time finding corals that resembled certain objects...and finally the sun came out at this point.


MaoBiTou Park (貓鼻頭)

The views from here was just incredible - you could see a huge stretch of where the South China Sea meets the Luzon Strait.






Eat: Lunch at HengChun Ancient Town
Braised Pork Noodles and Soya Sauce Eggs
We wouldn't have noticed this humble, dimly-lit noodles store if our driver had not pointed it our for us. Apparently it has been cooking up these bowls of delicious noodles for 60 years already - the old lady cooking them up told us that the bowls used have been there as long as the shop has been in business!

Their eggs were just awesome - lightly drizzled with a thick, slightly sweet, oyster sauce reduction, and went really well with the eggs. There is a choice of either noodles in soup or tossed noodles in a sauce. I went for the tossed option - the braised pork was very flavourful and tender. The noodles were a tad too soft for my liking, but tossed with the sauce, a few dashes of black vinegar and chili sauce, it was good enough for me to finish the whole bowl. (NT40/bowl of noodles; NT 40/plate of 4 eggs)

Tofu Dessert
This is a milk-flavoured tofu pudding dessert, with red bean soup. I loved the milky flavour of the tofu, and it went really well with the generous amount of red beans. They also sell their tofu with a huge variety of other toppings. (NT35)

Do: Water Activities
So, after sightseeing and our stomachs taken care of, we went to do some water activities at ChuanFan Rock Beach (船帆石沙灘). We thought it would be something chilled; but in fact the activities were REALLY exhilarating. We were screaming, shouting, and holding on for dear life! In fact, our triceps and bicpes and back muscles hurt for a few days - even wearing our backpacks hurt. Nonetheless thinking back it was really fun - despite me falling into the water upon a particular sharp bend! (NT450/per person, 3 different rides, around 1.5hrs)

Eat: Dinner at Amy's Cucina
Amy's Cucina is a restaurant located towards the end of Kenting Main Street. The eight of us ordered food to share:

Pizza: We ordered two flavours, Supreme and Mexican Beef. Both had lots of cheese (yay), and I particularly liked their chunky tomato sauce - it was chock full tomato flavour and was laid on quite thickly. Base was a bit too dry.

Baked Seafood Rice: They were very generous with the seafood - prawns, clams, scallops and fish...delicious combined with the creamy white sauce and golden brown cheese topping.

Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta: The pesto cream sauce was the best - the fresh basil scent and flavour really came through. Chicken pieces were a bit dry.

Spaghetti Carbonara: Lots of bacon and a very rich sauce. Nothing too special, but it's all good as it's hard to find a decent Carbonara in HK!

Baked Cheesecake: Perfect for me as the had the slightly sour lemon flavour that I love to balance the richness of the filling, and the browned top made it look very appetizing. Base went well with the filling, not too sweet and quite buttery.

We shared all of this, NT200 each.
Eat: Mangoes!!
Yes, even something as simple as mangoes is worth writing about. Our driver treated us to these mangoes, and oh, I haven't had such sweet and fragrant mangoes for a long long time! They were really juicy too, and none of the ones we had were sour. Perfect end to the day!

Note on Transport: We hired a driver and 8-person van for the day, which cost us NT5000 in total. They will also help plan your day and recommend what to do so you can get the most our of your day. Service time is around 8-9 hours. A great option for us car license-less students!
(Leader Travel Service Co, leader1388@yahoo.com.tw)

Friday, June 18, 2010

2

Taiwan Gradtrip (Food) Diary: Day 1 - Kenting


Hi guys - I just got back my 8D7N graduation trip to Taiwan! We travelled to three main destinations in Taiwan: Kenting National Park, Kaohsiung City and Taipei City. The trip was amazing - was filled with fun, adventure, laughs and of course, wonderful food which I am desperate to share with you!

In the next few posts I will write about where we went, what we did and the food we ate - sort of like a travel diary so I can remember this fantastic trip. I hope you'll find it entertaining and helpful if you decide to travel to Taiwan in the future!

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Itinerary: Day 1
10am flight from Hong Kong to Kaohsiung > Took a rented van to Kenting National Park (2 hour ride) > Hotspring at SiChongQi area (四重溪) > Dinner and Snacks at HengChun Ancient Town (恆春鎮) > ChuHuo Scenic Area (出火) > More snacking along Kenting Main Street

Accommodation in Kenting
We stayed at a hostel called Farm Guest House (牧場旅棧), where the eight of us stayed in a small hut to ourselves. It had two bedrooms, two toilets and a little 'living room' area, and the hut was adorably decorated with a cow theme! They also provide delicious breakfast, which were freshly made, toasted sandwiches as well as pudding, milk tea and soy milk. The location was perfect for us - less than 10 minutes walk from the busy Kenting Main Street, but just far away enough for some peace and quiet.

Do: Hotspring

There are many hot springs clustered around the SiChongQi area. The Japanese-style one we went to had around 6 pools, with varying temperatures. Some hot springs require you to be nude, so remember to ask before entering! Ours cost NT220 for unlimited time.

Eat: HengChun Ancient Town
Beef Noodles

Our driver recommended this shop to us. We didn't want to stuff ourselves just yet as we wanted to leave room for food later in the night, so we ordered a plate of vegetables (NT100) and 4 bowls of beef noodles (NT80/bowl) to share. The soup base was my favourite component; very rich, mildly spicy and was packed with the aromatic flavours of spices. The noodles were not chewy enough for my liking, and the beef was quite flavourful and tender.

Deep-fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Chips

Whilst walking around the main street, we spotted this small shop that sold freshly fried food, and we ordered some to share. The chicken and chips were fried upon ordering and was then tossed with some parsley and pepper-salt. I loved the chips as the sweet, tender centre contrasted really well with the seasonings. The chicken was succulent and surprisingly, not overcooked. Unfortunately it wasn't open yet when we went back for more :( (NT160 total)

Green Beans Shaved Ice
Our driver treated us for this, how nice! A specialty of the town, it consisted of a small mountain of shaved ice on a bed of chewy, tapioca 'noodles' and nata de coco drizzled generously with a sticky syrup and cooked green beans. It was a bit too sweet for our taste buds, but it was very refreshing!

Do: Fireworks at ChuHuo

The ChuHuo Special Scenic Area's attraction are the spontaneous flames on the ground. We brought fireworks from HengChun and ignited them here, where we did some "Fireworks Painting". Don't worry, it is perfectly safe and none of us got hurt. When we went pass the area the next time, the flames were still burning brightly despite the rain!

Eat: Kenting Main Street

Kenting Main Street is the heart of the area and was bustling with locals, tourists and vendors. There are numerous numbers of stalls selling a range of local snacks, restaurants offering a variety of cuisines (Japanese, Italian, Thai) as well as many shops selling beach clothing and souvenirs.

Green Tea and Milk Tall Soft Serve Ice Cream

A refreshing treat to kick off our crazy food night! It was very very tall, and despite being slightly too watery, the green tea flavour really came through and was perfect with the milk taste. (NT 30)

Grilled Meat and Sausages
I had a grilled sausage, which tasted more like a Chinese preserved sausage so it was a bit too heavy and a tad oily, hence took up valuable stomach capacity! I'd definitely recommend sharing this. They also serve grilled glutinous rice sausages, lamb and pork ribs. (NT30/sausage)

Korean BBQ Beef (Bulgogi) Roll

This is my favourite find on the whole street - it's just SO good! The seaweed is the Korean kind - crispy and salty - which wraps around shredded lettuce, kimchi, corn and a generous amount of juicy bulgogi. The meld of salty, sweet, spicy and savoury is just perfect! They also have other choices of chicken and pork. (NT60)

Mini Dorayaki

This stall sells a myriad of dorayaki (Japanese pancake sandwiches) flavours, such as red bean, custard, black sesame, peanut, strawberry and chocolate. The pancake is quite fluffy and not too sweet, but overall it was a bit dry. (NT100 for 7)

Fresh Milk
The owner claims that the milk is fresh from the nearby Kenting Farm. The consistency is similar to that of Hong Kong milk, but a little more rich and creamier. I love drinking milk, so it was still good for me. (NT30).

And after all the crazy eating, we went back to our hostel and had a good night's sleep.
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