All due respect to Ned Stark (bless his soul), but summer is coming.
I love summer for many reasons – not having to wear 5 layers before stepping outside, drinking coconut water instead of plain water all day long, more sun-lit hours, gorgeous flowers everywhere, and the beautiful, colorful produce.
Fruits are aplenty and in all shapes, sizes and color – tart, sweet, and juicy, the dessert possibilities are endless.
These raspberry lemon bars are a mouthful of summer. The shortbread base is crumbly and buttery, and the lemon-raspberry topping is fresh, citrusy and sweet all at once.
These are very easy to make, and they look quite spectacular don’t you think?
12 tbsp/1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
75g/ 1/3 cup caster sugar
170g/ 1 and 1/2 cup flour
For the topping:
225g/ 1 cup caster sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 cup fresh raspberries (crushed)
juice of 2 lemons
icing sugar, for dusting
lemon slices, raspberries, mint leaves or green sprinkles for decorating
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF , grease a 9 by 9 inch baking tin, and then line with parchment paper leaving the edges to over-hang. Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together, then add the flour and knead gently until a smooth dough is formed.
Press into the prepared tin, spreading with your fingers so that the dough is evenly distributed in a uniform layer in the tin. Bake for 15 minutes.
Using an electric whisk, mix the eggs, sugar and flour together. Add the raspberries and lemon juice and mix again. Pour over the baked shortbread crust and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Remove and cool.
Dust with icing sugar, and decorate with lemon slices, raspberries and mint leaves or sprinkles if you wish. Cut into 9 squares and serve.
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) 😛
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.
So I decided to be brave and make a simple Panna Cotta I could un-mould and serve in all its wobbly, white glory.
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.
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 🙂
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 6 mins, plus 4+ hours setting
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)
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 🙂
As a peace offering for my long absence, I come bearing the cutest, purplest mini cupcakes ever.
Am I right?
So tiny and bright and happy.
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
Did I mention the batter was so darn tasty I had to restrain myself from eating it all before I baked it?
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 🙂
Mini blueberry cupcakes
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 10-12 mins
Makes: 30 (depending on how small your liners are)
120 g plain flour, sifted
120 g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
120 g butter (melted and cooled)
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 boxes fresh blueberries
sweetened whipped cream (optional)
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!)
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!
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.
7. You will love to hate some of the movements. Like Burpees. I hate you burpees. But you will do them anyway.
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.
10. Expect to be changed – you will be stronger, you will learn to love your body, and you will feel so much more confident.
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.
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 😀
Start with some gorgeous red-green spinach.
And choose all your favourite kinds of fruit and veg.
Just put them together and you’re done! Super healthy. Super pretty. Super salad.
Prep time: 10 mins
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
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.
It’s time for all things cool, and fresh, and light.
It gets really hot and grimy in Delhi where I live so I want to share a list of my happy summer things with you 🙂
Which of these do you love?
The colour of the sky
My favourite summer fruit has to be mango.
Every time I smell a sweet mango I’m transported back to my childhood when Mum and Dad would make the most delicious fresh mango ice-cream.
These mango muffins taste a little bit like them. They’re soft and creamy and full of mango flavour.
I used the same recipe as my Banana muffins, substituting the bananas with the pulp of 2 sweet, ripe mangoes. I also added 2 tablespoons of milk to the batter.
It was only appropriate, considering the huge number of new shows out there now that have me glued to my laptop almost every night.
This time around the characters involved include earls, lawyers, doctors, stewardesses, vampires, hunters and scientists!
Three cheers for diversity! 😉
# 8 Terra Nova
Season 1/episode 1 (Genesis)
The orange scene
The year is 2147. The Earth is exhausted, taking its last few breaths. In these dark times, a father brings home a surprise for his children. It’s an orange.
Can you imagine fruit being hard to come by? I can’t.
The back-in-time space the characters move to inhabit, is portrayed as a fertile land full of strange and colourful fruit.
Also: Dinosaurs rock. (Sorry I just had to say that.)
# 7 Pan Am
Season 1/episode 9 (Kiss kiss bang bang)
The coffee scene
Pilots and stewardesses are supposed to be on their best behaviour in the sky.
Except this one time.
The usually gentle-mannered Laura drops hot coffee on a creepy old pilot when he tries to stare down her shirt.
# 6 Grey’s Anatomy
Season 2/episode 14 (Tell me sweet little lies)
The hot dog scene
The one time on the show where Christina isn’t dull, ill tempered, obnoxious and generally disagreeable.
A super fun hot dog eating competition, in the middle of the work day?! Who says docs don’t have fun?
Also, those hot dogs made me mighty hungry. Like seriously.
# 5 The Vampire Diaries
Season 2/episode 5 (Kill or be killed)
The spiked lemonade scene
Okay to be honest I had to think long and hard for this one.
This show has been a guilty pleasure for a long time and I really wanted to include it!
At an innocent town picnic (or so we think) a werewolf spikes lemonade with vervain, to hurt and expose two vampires.
This stuff is right up my alley by the way.
# 4 Downton Abbey
Season 1/episode 5
The salty pudding scene
In this period drama, Mrs Patmore the cook makes a stunning raspberry meringue pudding and then mistakenly tops it with salt instead of sugar.
All the lords and ladies at the dinner table choke and splutter quite appropriately, and although it’s the cook’s worst nightmare, it’s such a funny scene!
This is the hottest new thing in TV-show land, and if you’re not watching it yet- start NOW.
If nothing else, I can bet a million bucks you’ll adore Maggie Smith’s badass character.
# 3 The Good Wife
Season 1/episode 23 (Running)
The pizza scene
Taking a break from the legal madness that is their lives, Alicia and Will share a casual pizza and beer in office, reminiscing about their days together in college.
The simple food and the completely complex relationship makes for a fantastic moment.
Plus Julianna Margulies has such an intriguing face. Don’t you agree?
# 2 Supernatural
Season 2/episode 21 (All hell breaks loose-Part 1)
The pie scene
The swoon-worthy (equal parts masculine and sensitive) Dean Winchester loves pie. (one of the MANY reasons why I love him)
The problem is there’s always something that gets in the way- demons, pagan Gods, and his brother Sam’s habit of showing up with cake instead of pie. (It’s not the same thing, Sam!)
My fav Dean lines in the show: “Hey, see if they’ve got any pie. Bring me some pie. I love me some pie.” 🙂
There’s even a site dedicated to the Dean and pie love story. Check it out here.
This is some serious stuff.
# 1 The Big bang theory
Season 1/episode 7 (The dumpling paradox)
The dumpling scene
Food comes up very often on this show, but this scene in their regular Chinese restaurant has to be the funniest one ever.
(Also- dumplings! I want one please. Now.)
Read below and revel in the greatness that is Sheldon.
Scene: A Chinese restaurant.
Sheldon: I’m sorry, we cannot do this without Wolowitz.
Leonard: We can’t order Chinese food without Wolowitz?
Sheldon: Let me walk you through it. Our standard is, the steamed dumpling appetizer, General Tso’s chicken, beef with broccoli, shrimp with lobster sauce and vegetable lo-main. Do you see the problem?
Leonard: I see a problem.
Sheldon: Our entire order is predicated on four dumplings and four entrees divided among four people.
Leonard: So, we’ll just order three entrees.
Sheldon: Fine. What do you want to eliminate? And who gets the extra dumpling?
Raj: We could cut it into thirds.
Sheldon: Then it is no longer a dumpling. Once you cut it open it is at best a very small open faced sandwich.
Prep time: 40 mins (plus chilling)
Cook time: 25 mins
150 g plain flour, plus a bit more for dusting
100 g butter, diced and kept cold, plus a bit more for greasing
50 g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp strawberry jam
For the crème pâtissière
100 g caster sugar
50 g cornflour
1 tsp vanilla essence
400 ml milk
20-25 large strawberries, sliced
1. Mix the flour, butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the egg yolks and the vanilla essence and mix again to form a dough. Wrap in cling film and keep in the fridge for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease a tart tin with butter and then press the pastry into it, using your hands to get it all around the base and sides in as even a layer as possible. Use a fork to prick the pastry all over. Line the pastry with baking parchment and cover with baking beans. Bake for 25 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven, discard the parchment and remove the beans. Mix half the jam with some warm water and brush the tart, before letting it cool.
4. For the crème pâtissière, beat the sugar, cornflour, eggs, and vanilla essence in a bowl. Gently boil the milk in a pan and remove from the heat. Let it rest for a couple of minutes, and then gradually pour it into the egg mixture, beating all the time. Cook this mixture over medium heat and keep beating as it cooks. The mixture will thicken, and you need to watch very carefully because it could suddenly become very thick. Once it starts to thicken, turn the heat to low, and keep taking it off the heat (while stirring) to check the consistency. When it is thick and creamy, transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool.
5. Once the crème is slightly cool, beat it again to give it a creamy consistency and spoon it all over the tart. Cover with strawberries. Mix the remaining jam with some warm water and brush this over the strawberries so the tart looks glossy and bright 🙂 Eat as it is, or chill for a while before you do.