Thursday, 26 April 2012

COUGH


"My name is Vicious and I'm a hairy worm."
The three separate visits to the doctor didn't help.  First it was flu, with fever of 38.5 degrees C at one point. My entire body was on fire. Fortunately that only lasted two days but I’m now plagued by a vicious cough that won’t go away! It is as if I had accidentally swallowed a hairy worm. It would resurface at the edge of my throat without my prior consent, bringing on a bout coughing fits.

On some days I feel like a SARS victim. Commuters on the MRT and buses throw wary glances as soon as I start to cough. Passengers in the same elevator cringe. My colleagues have stopped trying to engage me any decent conversation because when I try to speak, the worm would come out to play.  At other times I croak, and no one understands a word.  When it gets too cold, I cough. When I try to sleep, I cough. There’s nothing more unbearable.

In another 15 days, Tammy and I will be on our holiday in Bangkok. I can't bear to think that I should miss out on all the tasty Thai food. Will someone please get the worm away from me!

Monday, 9 April 2012

PURE BLISS



I've to admit that I enjoyed the Good Friday weekend immensely. The BB wasn’t working (joy!) and there weren’t many phone calls either (surprise!). I caught up on my sleep, and baked cookies while listening to Laura Fygi’s Bewitched

I hardly stepped out of the house during the 3-day weekend.  During the mornings the sun was so intense that I could feel my own skin turn crispy.  And then every afternoon God would decide to pour the Indian ocean over Earth!  Not fun.

Pure bliss comes in the form Thomas Keller’s simple Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe uses molasses sugar. No nuts. No vanilla. Just absolute chocolate enjoyment the form of 70% and 55% chocolate chips.


Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from this recipe in Ad Hoc At Home by Thomas Keller

Makes 30

340 grams all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
140 grams 55% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces
140 grams 70% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces
227 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
200 grams molasses sugar
100 grams caster sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat your oven at 180 degrees C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium-bowl. Stir in the salt.

Put the chips in a fine-mesh strainer and shake to remove any chocolate “dust”.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes until the mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in the chocolate.


Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the dough with a spatula to be sure the chocolate is evenly incorporated. The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for 2 weeks. Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers. Defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

Using about 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape the dough into balls. Arrange 8 cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between them, because the dough will spread.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating the pans halfway through baking.

Cool the cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


I've never used molasses sugar in my baking before so this is a first. It not only tints the cookie a nice honey brown, it also gives a rich caramel flavour. I could tell that my mother enjoyed the cookie very much because she said, “This cookie is different! You should consider setting up shop.” She then proceeded to pack a dozen for a friend.

Perhaps the greatest compliment came from my young nephew who declared, "It's delicious!"  Since kids are pretty blunt, there are no two ways about stuff like that.  It is either a "Wow!" or a "eeeew!"  This is definitely one Wow Cookie so Thomas Keller gets two thumps on the back.

Monday, 2 April 2012

GIFT FROM SEOUL: MADAME BUTTERFLY




A gift from Roke and Julia in Korea.  It's a bookmark but I think it looks more like an elegant piece of hair accessory, don't you?  Makes me feel beautiful just looking at it.