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If you watch MasterChef Australia, you’ve heard about the notoriously hard-to-get-perfect dessert called Panna Cotta. (BTW, if you do watch MasterChef, read this) :P

 

It’s a thing of beauty. Usually pearly white, with a slight wobble, and silken smooth when your spoon cuts through it.

 

Panna Cotta is essentially cooked cream that’s set in a mould with gelatin. You could sweeten it with sugar or honey, and add any other flavors you want. Most often, it’s served with some sort of fruit compote or purée.

 

I’ve made a Coconut milk Panna Cotta before, but I never un-moulded it for fear of it falling apart.

 

So I decided to be brave and make a simple Panna Cotta I could un-mould and serve in all its wobbly, white glory.

 
Panna Cotta 1
 

I experimented with different amounts of gelatin and made it a few times until I got the texture absolutely right.

 

I also played around with a few fruit flavors and textures.

 
Panna Cotta 2
 

This is the perfect summer dessert – it’s delicate and cold, and can be eaten within 4 hours of putting it in the fridge to set.

 

My recipe makes exactly 2 serves, but feel free to double/triple.

 

Make this for someone special today – and watch them smile as you bring out the perfect wobble :)

 
Panna Cotta 3
 

Panna Cotta

 

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 6 mins, plus 4+ hours setting
Serves: 2

 

Ingredients:

 

120 ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
180 ml (3/4 cup) full cream
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
fruit compote or purée of your choice (optional)

 

Method:

 

1. Pour the milk into a pan and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
2. Place the pan over a medium heat and stir gently and continuously until the gelatin dissolves (about 3 minutes) but make sure it doesn’t boil. Now add the cream and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves (another 3 minutes).
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour into 2 custard cups and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set (more is okay, but not less.)
4. To un-mould, run a knife around the edge of the cup and then dip it into a pan of boiling water for a few seconds. Immediately turn over onto the serving plate and tap to release the Panna Cotta. You may need to repeat the dip a few times, but it will un-mould eventually. I promise!
Note: For a fresh cherry sauce, un-pit and chop up a handful of cherries and place in a bowl with a tablespoon of sugar and a dash of rum or whisky, mixing well. Leave for an hour and then serve. For a peach or mango purée, blend the flesh of the fruit with a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of cream and serve. Use any fruits or sauces – the plain Panna Cotta takes on any flavor really well :)

Food cravings are like wizards.

 

They appear out of nowhere (POOF!) and swirl a wand about (WHOOSH!) and say to you – You need a gooey, dark chocolate cake in your life.

 

It looks like this, the wizard says. Exactly like this.

 
Chocolate lava cake 3
 

You have to make one this very minute, the wizard says. No, I don’t care that it’s 11 pm and you’re in your pyjamas. You want this NOW.

 

All that’s left to do is give into the wizard’s command. He looks like Gandalf okay? Can you say no that face?

 
Gandalf
 

So I put together this gooey, delicious dark chocolate batter and pop it in the oven.

 
Chocolate lava cake 1
 

Look how you can tell the centre is still soft underneath once its ready? 😍

 
Chocolate lava cake 2
 

This lava cake has to be eaten the second it comes out of the oven. When you cut into it and see the warm and intensely chocolate-ty centre ooze out, you will know everything is right with the world.

 
Chocolate lava cake 5
 

The wizard knows my soul.

 

Chocolate Lava Cake for two

 

Recipe adapted from: Buzzfeed’s Christine Byrne

 

Prep time: 12 mins
Cook time: 11 mins, plus cooling
Serves: 2

 

Ingredients:

 

2 tbsp butter (unsalted and at room temperature), plus a bit more to grease the ramekins
2 tbsp caster sugar, plus a bit more for the ramekins
115 g dark chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 tbsp flour, sifted
pinch of salt
a couple drops of vanilla extract
icing sugar to dust (optional)

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 200º C. Grease two small ramekins with butter and then scatter some caster sugar into each bowl, turning the ramekin around as you do, so that the base and sides are well covered. Tip the ramekin over once done, and throw away any sugar that falls out.
2. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave in 2-3 bursts of 30 seconds each, stirring well between each burst, until completely melted.
3. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl with the sugar. Cream into a paste using an electric mixer and then add the eggs. Whisk for a minute until everything combines, then add the flour, salt, and vanilla extract and whisk again until well combined.
4. Using a spatula, fold about a third of the melted chocolate into the batter. Slowly add the rest of the chocolate and keep folding until you have a uniform and smooth batter. Pour into the prepared ramekins and place on a baking tray. Bake for about 11 minutes, or until the edges of the cake begin to come away from the ramekins. Leave to rest on the counter for about 5 minutes and then flip onto serving plates. Dust with icing sugar to decorate if you wish, and serve immediately.

 
Chocolate lava cake 4
 

Key Lime Pie

Summer has arrived, and she brings with her many wonderful things. (Bless her sunshiny soul.)

 

She brings afternoons spent in beautiful parks, filled with happy people marvelling at the golden light and bright skies.

 

Prospect park

 

She brings walks with adorable dogs who tire very quickly and then plonk themselves down in the middle in the road, leaving you wondering what you should do. (I thought it best to take a photograph as you can see. I have the BEST ideas.)

 

Dog walking

 

She brings happy outdoor birthday parties with tiny beings and ice-cream cake.

 

Outdorr birthday

 

She brings lazy brunches, funny conversations, many iced drinks and big smiles.

 

Brunch

 

And she brings an appreciation for just how beautiful everything around us really is.

 

Prospect park lake

 

Did I mention she also brings some fabulous pie?

 

Key lime pie, to be specific!

 

Key lime 1

 

If summer was a pie, this would be it.

Sweet, but tart.
Light, yet indulgent.
Crumbly and smooth.

This dessert is summer in a tart tin.

 

Key lime 2

 

Super easy to make, and requiring only a few ingredients, make this today and welcome Lady Summer.

 

She doesn’t stay long (at least for me) so I want to impress :)

 

Here’s how you do it.

 

Key Lime Pie

 

Recipe adapted from: Pioneer Woman

 

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins, plus cooling and setting time
Serves: 8

 

Ingredients:

 

200 g Graham crackers, crushed into small pieces
75 g caster sugar
75 g unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp lime zest, plus more to garnish
120 ml lime juice
2 egg yolks
1 tin (approx 400 ml) sweet condensed milk
 
Key lime 4

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Mix the cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter together until well combined. Press the mixture into the base of a 13-inch rectangular tart tin with a removable bottom. Bake for 5 minutes and then leave to cool on a wire rack.
2. Mix the lime zest, lime juice, and egg yolks with an electric whisk. Add the condensed milk and mix at a high speed until creamy and smooth. Pour this mixture into the cooled crust and bake for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven, garnish with zest, and leave to cool. Once cool, refrigerate for about 2 hours, before gently removing from the tart tin and slicing to serve.

 

Key lime 5

 

Enjoy the warmth and light and shorts weather while it lasts. Happy Summer guys! <3

 

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 :)


DSC01403


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.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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? :)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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


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