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I’ve moved continents!

 

I never thought I’d do it – move so far from family and friends and everyone I know and love. But sometimes you gotta take the plunge, right? (Tell me I’m right.)

 

It’s a big, big change – incredibly fun and incredibly difficult at the same time.

 

When I got to New Jersey early last month, it was cold. I mean seriously cold.

 

I didn’t want to step out of the house because my eyes would water and I was scared it would turn into icicles and I’d have shards of ice in my eyes and I’d be blind forever. (I’m not over-dramatic AT ALL. Can you tell?)

 

I missed the sun and my family and everything warm and familiar so much it hurt my insides.

 

But then after a few weeks of staying in, I decided that I’ve had enough. I needed some light and air and people.

 

So grudgingly I put on several layers, took off all expectation and set out on a walk.

 

Then I saw this – and it was love at first sight.

 

Skyline

 

 

And slowly, just like that, the cold wasn’t so cold anymore. I could feel the warmth on my shoulders and a gentle light in my eyes.

 

I explored beautiful parks filled with gorgeous dogs.

 

Dog Park

 

Ate cupcakes I’ve only read about for the longest time.

 

Magnolia

 

Even made some of my own at home :)

 

Homemade cupcakes

 

Shopped for all kinds of furniture and slowly watched our house transform into a warm and welcoming home.

 

Furniture shopping

 

Baked my first cake here! (Have you noticed how birthday cake smiles are the best kind of smiles?)

 

Birthday cake

 

Had the most fun it is humanly possible to have in a museum.

 

Museum

 

Indulged in long, lazy brunches with many drinks, and even more laughter.

 

Brunch

 

Gazed at the most beautiful tulips and wondered how they could possibly be real.

 

Tulips

 

Ate ice-cream from an ice-cream truck and felt like a child again.

 

Icecream

 

Stared wide-eyed at sights I’ve seen a million times in the movies.

 

NY

 

Chanced upon things from home that made me fuzzy inside.

 

Gulab jamun

 

Walked around in the sunlight with the handsomest man in town.

 

Sunnies

 

And then there was this.

 

Steak 12

 

The best steak I’ve ever eaten and cooked.

 

Something has to be said about the meat, particularly beef, that’s available here. If you buy the right stuff, you will be able to taste the quality.

 

The recipe came from a friend who actually tutored me through the process while I cooked it. It was the very talented, rather funny and mighty cute Madhu Menon.

 

It all began with some very, very good meat.

 

Steak 2

 

Just look at the marbling on that.

 

Steak 3

 

A good steak doesn’t need much, but it definitely needs aromatics and fat. Here are the aromatics.

 

Steak 4

 

And here’s the fat!

 

Steak 5

 

Also needed – a heavy cast-iron skillet that works your biceps each time you pick it up.

 

Steak 6

 

Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to give this beauty a good massage.

 

Steak 7

 

Drop it in the smokin’ hot pan.

 

Steak 8

 

Then some quick searing on both sides.

 

Steak 9

 

Throw in the aromatics and keep flipping.

 

Steak 10

 

Rest it a while – poor thing’s been flipping in a hot pan for ya!

 

Steak 11

 

And just look – a perfect medium-rare.

 

Steak 1

 

Serve with a fresh arugula salad. Yum!

 

Steak 13

 

Here’s the more detailed recipe:

 

Dry-aged Ribeye and Arugula salad

 

Recipe from: Madhu Menon

 

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins, plus resting time
Serves: 2

 

Ingredients:

 

approx. 1 lb dry-aged boneless rib-eye steak
salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to season
1 tbsp tallow or butter
2 tbsp unsalted butter
5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced
fresh rosemary, bruised

 

For the Arugula salad

 

1 packet fresh baby arugula leaves
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

 

Method:

 

1. Take the steak out of the freezer and place in the fridge 45 minutes before you want to start cooking. Once you’re ready to cook, take the steak out of the fridge. Put the cast-iron skillet on a high heat and get it smoking. Season your steak with salt and pepper generously and massage it into the meat on both sides.
2. Add the tallow to the hot skillet and then place the steak in the pan – you should hear a good loud sizzle. After about a minute and a half, lift one corner to see if it’s brown. If yes, then flip over and do the same on the the other side for another minute and half. You should have a brown crust.
3. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, flipping every 2 minutes (6 flips in all!). After the first 3 flips, add the butter, garlic, and rosemary. As the aromatic butter melts, use a spoon to scoop it up and pour it back on the steak, basting both sides of the steak.
4. I like my steak medium-rare, so this is when I took it off the heat. Keep it on for a couple more minutes if you like yours more done. Rest the steak on a plate for about 5 minutes.
5. For the salad, mix the lemon juice, honey, and oil and season. Pour over the arugula and toss. Cut the steak and serve with the juices from the pan and the salad.

 

This dish is proof that the best food comes from good quality ingredients and non-fussy cooking.

 

Also, it shows me that good food will always be a comfort in times of unfamiliarity and sadness. It will be your ray of warmth in the cold.

 

I’ve always said food is magical. I know this is true – because it always makes things better :)

 

Change is always hard but it’s impossible to have new adventures without them. I hope you will join me in this new journey – it promises to be mighty fun :)

 

Hello! No, I’m not dead. I haven’t been abducted. Aliens haven’t beamed me back to my home planet. Yet.


Something did happen to me though, that will adequately explain my long absence.


Something rather exciting.


It involved beautiful red and white flowers.


Red and white flowers


A Cathedral in all its finery.


Cathedral in its finery


Friends from near and far.


Friends from near and far


All looking utterly fabulous.


Friends from near and far 2


A night of crazy dancing.


Night of crazy dancing


A puppy that didn’t let me go.


Puppy


My best girls all dressed up and gorgeous.


My best girls


A brother who killed the dance floor.


Brother


A mother who held on tight when I needed her the most.


Mother


A father who lit up the room with his smile.


Father


Some babies who looked cute enough to eat.


Babies 1


Like seriously, look at this one!


Baby 2


A magical, magical mini cupcake tower.


Cupcake tower


An adorable vintage car.


Vintage car


A sermon no one will easily forget.


Sermon


A choir that moved us to tears.


Choir


Old friends.


Old friends


And new.


New friends


A walk to remember.


Walk


And this wonderful man.


Man


Have you guessed yet?


I got married! :D


Got married 1


Got married 2


It’s been such an incredible experience, such an amazing time and everyone involved just made it the most memorable event ever for us.


10450312_10155128247780576_5129311685681884098_o


Does that adequately explain my absence?


Okay okay congratulations and all that, but where are the cupcakes we came here for, I hear you ask.


Here they are!


DSC01406


I made these sinful, boozy Amarula cupcakes with adorable sugar moustaches adorning them :)


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Why moustaches?


Because they’re dedicated to my husband who is rockin’ a pretty marvellous beard right now :)


Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 9.14.37 pm


The cakes aren’t too sweet, but have a hint of the creamy Amarula, while the buttercream frosting is loaded with the stuff so you can really taste the delicious South African liqueur.


DSC01418


For those who aren’t familiar, Amarula is cream liqueur made from the fruit of the African Marula tree, which incidentally elephants love to eat (how cute!) and it’s similar in taste and texture to the more well-known Baileys Irish Cream.


Here’s how to make them :)


Amarula cupcakes


Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 12 mins
Makes: 6


Ingredients:


60 g flour, sifted
60 g ground sugar, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
60 g butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp warm milk
4-5 tbsp Amarula cream
sugar decorations (optional)


For the Amarula frosting


60 g butter, softened
100 g icing sugar, sifted (plus more if needed)
5-6 tbsp Amarula cream (depending on consistency desired)


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C and line a 6-hole cupcake tray with paper liners. In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together. Add the butter, vanilla extract, egg, milk and mix well until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the Amarula cream and mix throughly. Spoon into the cupcake liners.
2. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack.
3. For the frosting, mix the ingredients together, adding the Amarula a little at a time until you have a fluffy frosting. Add more icing sugar to thicken if needed.
4. Pipe or cover the cooled cupcakes with frosting and top with a sugar decoration if you like.


DSC01407


Thank you dear readers, for staying. I am back now. And I’m not leaving.


Yours,
Mrs Culinarystorm


PS- All the professional wedding pictures were taken by Kuntal and Nat. Check them out – they’re pretty awesome :)

When was the last time you had a real, face-to-face, no holds barred conversation with someone?


One where you’d completely lost track of time?


One where you could keep going for hours and feel the lightness of only minutes having passed you by?


One where the next morning, when you try to remember what you spoke about through the night, all you can recall is a warm feeling.


Conversation


It’s a magnificent thing – being able to talk about just anything with someone in a fearless, honest and crazy way.


Knowing that nothing you could possibly say would ever result in judgement. That exquisite feeling of being bound by nothing – just indulging in an unrestrained spilling of words.


Swimming in and out of a million different ideas and stories with someone.


Being wrapped up in their lives and minds for a moment, and letting them step into yours.


It’s so beautifully detailed and intricate in some ways, and yet so simple at the same time.


Throw a slice of cheesecake like this one into the mix and you will probably make a friend for life.


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A spoonful of this fluffy cheesecake will make you feel like you’re eating a piece of light yellow cloud.


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Using just 3 ingredients also makes this a super simple dessert to put together without having to run to the store.


There is something about its delicate, pale yellow, billowy surface that just relaxes me. Do you feel the same? :)


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3-ingredient Japanese Cheesecake


Recipe from: Happy Home Baking


Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins, plus cooling
Serves: 6-8


Ingredients:


120 g white chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Meji – a Japanese brand)
120 g cream cheese, softened
3 eggs, separated
sprinkles (optional)


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Method:


1. Line the base of a 7-inch round cake tin with parchment paper and grease thoroughly. (I used brown paper parchment.)
2. Place the white chocolate pieces in a double boiler, and stir until melted and smooth. Add the cream cheese and mix until incorporated. Remove from the heat and mix in the egg yolks.


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3. In another bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff and then very gently fold into the chocolate-cream cheese mixture.


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4. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place on a baking tray. Fill the tray with some hot water – it can come upto half the side of the cake tin. Bake at 170º C for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 160º C for another 15 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside for a final 15 minutes. Let the cheesecake cool completely before removing from the tin. Cut into slices and top with sprinkles if desired.


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Simple is always best. Now grab a friend, make some cheesecake, crack open a bottle of wine and let the words flow :)


Life can be stressful.


That’s why God gave us cake.


Like this one.


Chocolate rum cake 1


He also gave us goofy friends who say silly things and make us laugh even when everything is miserable. And then all you want to do is feed them cake :)


Like this one.


Manasvi


Sometimes things in our lives are spiralling out of control.
Or things are not going the way you want them to.
Or hey, you’re unhappy about something and it’s all you can think about.
Been there, done that.


But you know what’s a billion times better than dwelling on those sad thoughts?


Doing something for you. Just for you.


A little pick-me-up or a stress-buster, and having some fun while you’re at it.


Here’s 10 things to do for yourself to feel better right this minute.


1. Cuddle with a puppy. Stick your face in the soft furriness and cover his face with smoochies. How about this one?


Simba


2. Call an old friend. Talk about monkeys, fitness, philosophy or food. Whatever you fancy- those are just a few things I talk to my oldest friend about.


best friends


3. Stand in front of the mirror. Let your hair down. And dance to this song. (I just did. And I can’t stop.)



4. Grab a cup of tea, get under the covers and drown yourself in a good book. I recommend this or this.


5. Go get some sunshine and breeze. Everywhere has someplace quiet and beautiful, but if you’re in Singapore like me, nothing beats the Botanical Gardens and this stunning trail.


6. If you have a funny dad like mine, (most people do right?) send him a message and then grab your stomach laughing for the next 5 minutes. Real examples below:


Funny Dad texts 1


Funny Dad texts 2


7. Go be a badass at the gym. Nothing feels like a problem when you’re snatching a heavy bar over your head. Like seriously. If you’re in Singapore come hangout with these super fun people at CrossFit Firecity.


crossfit


8. Write. About anything. Let that pen hit paper and you’ll see things tumbling out making you feel better. Not convinced? Read this.


9. Sleep it out. Sleep makes everything calmer and clearer. Stay in bed all day. It’s okay to be lazy sometimes. Really, it is.


sleep


10. Bake this cake. Boom. Life is better.


Chocolate rum cake 2


Flour-less Chocolate and Rum Cake


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Serves: 8-10


Ingredients:


180 g dark chocolate (the best you can find)
120 g butter (salted), plus a little extra for greasing
120 g caster sugar
4 eggs
11/2 tsp vanilla extract
60 g cocoa, sifted
100 ml dark rum
cherries to garnish (optional)


For the glaze


100 g dark chocolate
50 g butter
60 ml dark rum


Ingredients


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 190º C. Melt the chocolate and butter together over a low flame, stirring until both melt. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the sugar and stir in well.
2. Crack the eggs in one at a time, making sure to mix well and fully incorporating each before adding the next.
3. Add the vanilla, cocoa and rum and stir well until everything comes together in a loose batter. Pour into a greased 9-inch round tin and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
4. For the glaze, melt the chocolate and butter together, and remove from the flame to cool. Stir in the rum.
5. This is a soft cake so make sure it is completely cool before you turn it out onto a plate or it may break. Placing it in the fridge for a few minutes before turning out usually helps. Once transferred onto a plate, pour the glaze over and top with cherries if you like.


Chocolate rum cake 3


This cake reminds you to be nice to yourself. Be kind. Things can get hard sometimes, but more often than not, they get better.


Spoil yourself a little. Because you’re amazing. And never for a minute think you’re alone.


In the end you’ll see, we’re all sitting across each other at a giant table, eating cake and laughing together :)


Chocolate rum cake 4


Hello there!


I know it’s been a while – but I’m baacccckkk :D


As a peace offering for my long absence, I come bearing the cutest, purplest mini cupcakes ever.


Blueberry cupcakes 1


Am I right?


So tiny and bright and happy.


Blueberry cupcakes 2


You know how when you go to a bakery and you choose something called Ultimate Mango Cupcake and when you eat it you find there’s only like a 1cm piece of mango in there?


That is NOT RIGHT, Mr Bakery Man. That is promising me a *@&*# load of mango and then being a scrimpy poo about it.


These blueberry minis are just the opposite of that. They are jam-packed, bursting-out-the-seams, gloriously full of blueberries. Mmmmmmm


Blueberry cupcakes 4


Did I mention the batter was so darn tasty I had to restrain myself from eating it all before I baked it?


Blueberry cupcakes 3


These cupcakes are actually so good, they don’t even any frosting/fanciness on top – it’s so satisfying to see the purple blueberry bits peeking through :)


Blueberry cupcakes 5


Mini blueberry cupcakes


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 10-12 mins
Makes: 30 (depending on how small your liners are)


Ingredients:


120 g plain flour, sifted
120 g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
120 g butter (melted and cooled)
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 boxes fresh blueberries
sweetened whipped cream (optional)


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the butter, eggs, milk and vanilla. Stir well until everything is combined and you have a glossy, smooth batter. Add about 3/4th the blueberries mixing well and pressing them down with a fork so that most of them burst (you’ll see pretty purple juice swirls in the batter).
2. Line a cupcake tray with mini cupcake liners. Carefully spoon the batter into each liner. Fill each one about two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
3. Eat as they are, or top with a teaspoon of sweetened cream and a fresh blueberry (or two!)


Blueberry cupcakes 6


When I say blueberry, you get blueberry.


Time to go stuff ma face. (Again).


A few of you, my gentle, non-violent readers, have told me that you’re going to mail me slaps if I keep writing only health/fitness/diet posts.


I was shrewd enough to pick up on your very subtle feedback.


So I asked you guys for suggestions on what to bake and I got some great ones.


Twitter suggestions


But in the end, after some deliberation and discussions with fellow decadent dessert lovers, I decided this dessert is the one I want to #stuffmyfaceinrightnow.


I modified it a bit though, so putcha hands up for…Triple whiskey dark chocolate cake baby!


Triple whiskey cake 1


This cake is everything you want in a dessert.


It also has some side effects.


It might make you laugh like a loon and then dance around your room to this song.
It may even make you think that a shot of whiskey with a slice of the cake before a work phonecall is the best idea ever. FYI – It. Is. NOT.


What I love about this bombshell is that you can taste the chocolate and the whiskey in every layer.


You can taste it in the moist and fudgy cake layers.
You can double taste it in the sinfully smooth and shiny ganache filling.
And then triple taste it in the dense and slightly salty buttercream on top.


Triple whiskey cake 4


Although it has 3 parts, it’s really quite easy to throw together if you have all the ingredients.


Triple whiskey cake 2


Just don’t eat it until all the parts come together, ummkay?


I know it’s hard when it looks like this…


Triple whiskey cake 3


But hold on, because it gets SO much better!


Here’s what you do.


Triple whiskey dark chocolate cake
Adapted from: Undressed Skeleton


Prep time: 30 mins, plus cooling
Cook time: 40 mins
Serves: 8


Ingredients:


110g flour, sifted
50g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
225g castor sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 medium eggs
100 ml strong brewed coffee, cooled
100 ml whiskey
60 ml milk
80 ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
sprinkles, if desired


For the ganache


200 g dark chocolate chips
80 ml heavy cream
4 tbsp whiskey, plus more if needed
2 tbsp unsalted butter


For the buttercream frosting


150 g salted butter, softened
200 g icing sugar (plus more if needed)
50 g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
4 tbsp whiskey, plus more if needed


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
2. In another bowl crack in the eggs, add the coffee, whiskey, milk, and oil and whisk well.
3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix well until you have a uniform batter. It will be rather thin – don’t worry about it. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. If the cake is still wobbly in the centre, switch off the oven and leave the cake inside to cool. If not, remove and leave the tin on a wire rack to cool.
4. For the ganache, put the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Heat the cream until gently bubbling, then pour in the whiskey and stir. Pour over the chocolate chips, add the butter and stir to melt the chocolate. Taste and add more whiskey if desired. Leave to thicken in the fridge.
5. For the buttercream frosting, mix the butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder, and whiskey together. Taste and add more whiskey if desired. If it isn’t thick enough, add more icing sugar. Mix to a thick, creamy consistency. Set aside.
6. Once the cake is completely cool, slice it gently through the centre to create 2 layers. Place the bottom layer on the serving plate and top evenly with the ganache. Cover with the top layer and top with the buttercream frosting. Decorate with sprinkles if desired, and serve!


Ain’t she a beauty?


Triple whiskey cake 5


This drunken cake is perfect to bring to a party, or to just eat by yourself (LOL).


What ya waiting for? Make it now :D



You guys have probably heard of CrossFit. It’s a fitness and exercise program that people around the world can’t stop talking about.


I had only heard good things about CrossFit from this guy who loves it like crazy, so when I moved to Singapore I decided to try it at CrossFit Fire City.


It’s been over a month already and I can say I’m truly addicted. I remember though, the apprehension I felt before my first class. Will I be able to do anything? Will I embarrass myself? Should I even try this at all?


For all those people who are asking that question right now, here’s a nifty little list just for you :)


10 things CrossFit Beginners need to know


1. This WILL be the most intensive workout you’ve ever done in your life. So be prepared for it. It doesn’t matter if you run, kickbox, zumba, or do yoga everyday. This will be a challenge, but you will be able to see it through. I promise.


2. You will hear lots of terms that are alien to you at first: Box, Double unders, Snatch, Clean, Wallballs, among others. Don’t worry – you’ll slowly figure out what they are. (Some of them were made by the Devil. Just FYI.)


3. Every single movement is scalable. This means that you can perform every movement because it can scaled down to what your body can handle. Can’t do double unders? Do single unders. Can’t lift 30kg? Do 10kg instead. You will slowly build strength and move to more complex movements and higher weights.


4. The coaches are trained and will give you extra time and attention when you’re a newbie. Not only that, experienced crossfitters will also help you if you’re struggling. You never feel alone in the box.


5. Learn to love squats. I’ve said before that CrossFit should be called SquatFit. So many of the movements you will learn depend on being able to squat right. So get squatting!


squats


6. You will be sore everywhere. And I mean everywhere. In muscles you didn’t know existed. Climbing stairs will hurt. Sitting down will hurt. Standing up will hurt. The cure? Go to the next class to relax those muscles and make new ones sore. LOL.


Soreness


7. You will love to hate some of the movements. Like Burpees. I hate you burpees. But you will do them anyway.


burpees


8. Motivate yourself to attend the first few classes. After that, nothing will be able to keep you away. Really!


9. Everyone talks about how CrossFit communities are always full of the friendliest people you will ever meet. I thought this was an exaggeration until I met the folks at CrossFit Fire City. Everyone is so incredibly warm and friendly and funny. I hear that most boxes are like this – a place where you feel like home.


Crossfit community


10. Expect to be changed – you will be stronger, you will learn to love your body, and you will feel so much more confident.


crossfit love


So if you’re looking for a change from your usual routine, why not give CrossFit a try? And if you’re in Singapore, come say hello to the wonderful peeps at CrossFit Fire City.


CrossFit is also about eating clean by the way. Remember my 30 Days of Paleo challenge?


Look at this psychedelic, colour-burst salad.


colour burst salad 4


Ain’t it pretty? :)


It’s easy to put together and makes for a very filling but packed-with-goodness meal.


It makes you feel like you’re eating a rainbow :D


Start with some gorgeous red-green spinach.


colour burst salad 2


And choose all your favourite kinds of fruit and veg.


colour burst salad 3


Just put them together and you’re done! Super healthy. Super pretty. Super salad.


Colour-burst salad


Prep time: 10 mins
Serves: 2


Ingredients:


large handful of baby spinach (use the red and green variety if you can find it)
1/2 dragon fruit, peeled and sliced
1/2 pear, peeled and sliced
7-8 cherry tomatoes
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1/4 papaya, peeled and chopped
small box of blueberries
1/4 pineapple, peeled and chopped
5-6 small radish, cut into halves
large handful of roasted almonds
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


colour burst salad 1


Method:


1. Wash and drain the spinach, then arrange evenly on a plate. Cover with all the fruits/veggies-you can use whatever type you like. Just make them a nice mix of colours.
2. In a small bowl, stir the honey, almond butter, and extra virgin olive oil together. Add salt and pepper to taste – a little extra pepper is nice, since it is largely a sweet salad.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve immediately.



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