Archive for July, 2007



cupcake quartet

Mmm. Cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. White and dark chocolate cupcakes with vanilla or raspberry buttercream frosting. You can never go wrong with that.

I found a cheap pastry decorating kit at Carrefour (only $4.95, with 6 different nozzles!) and had lots of fun making proper cupcake icing for the cakes I made for Peishan’s book club last Sunday. They were a hit with the girls. Yay!

For the recipe, I basically used the one for the Magnolia Chocolate cupcakes. For the white choc ones, I replaced the dark choc with Cadbury white chocolate and cut down the sugar by half a cup.

As for the buttercream frosting, here’s the recipe:



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basil pork noodles with sliced red peppers

I’ve realised that so far none of the recipes I’ve posted here are actually really chinchai, so I thought I’d share one of my simple ones today. Today I made a variation of Chubby Hubby’s Simple Pork Noodles (which itself was a variation of dan dan mian). By adding basil and red peppers, I gave the dish a nice sweet and fragrant kick, as well as something crunchy as a counterpoint to the soft udon and tasty chewy pork.

basil pork closeup

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s really easy and fast. It probably took me 15 minutes from prep to plating, so it’s perfect when you’re tired from a long day at work and just want a quick and nice meal. Why eat instant noodles when you can make something healthier like this for just a bit more effort and time?


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red velvet cupcakes

red velvet close up red velvet others
L to R: Closeup of cupcake; and my rejected decoration designs, one of which is Nippletastic!

I first encountered red velvet cupcakes at Johanna’s 30th birthday party in New York two years ago. Instead of a birthday cake, she opted for red velvet cupcakes from a famous bakery (I forget which one, but it wasn’t Magnolia). One bite and I was hooked!

red velvet cross-section
Mmm, orgastastic!

As its name suggests, the red velvet cupcake has a lovely deep red colour which you can see better in this cross-section picture. It was a bit scary making the batter, which reminded me of Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Marsyas (which in turn was inspired by flayed skin. Eee.).

That aside, the cupcakes turned out well, with a rich velvety, unbelievably soft texture that’s not oily at all. One thing I like about them is that they’re not too sweet, which is made up for by the frosting.

Recipe after the jump!

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Got Buttermilk?


Here in Singapore, buttermilk is a foreign concept and usually found in atas (‘high class’) supermarkets. Luckily, there’s always a quick, easy and chin chai way to make buttermilk – just add lemon juice!

Today whilst making red velvet cupcakes (post to come soon), I added the juice of half a large lemon to 1 1/2 cups of semi-skimmed milk, as per instructions from dubdew. Cue panic when I tasted it – it was curdly and lemony! Luckily after a frantic phone call to dubdew, I learned that:

– the lemony taste will dissipate after letting the milk stand for a while in room temperature.

– it is best to use full fat milk (although I used skimmed milk and it was fine).

– the acid in the lemon juice will react with other ingredients (the baking soda?) to create carbon dioxide.

About that last point: this means that buttermilk is important because it helps the batter rise better and creates lightness in the cupcakes. I used to think that buttermilk was basically half and half; but since it needs to be acidic, I guess I was wrong.

Half and half, by the way, is a milk product popular in North America and Canada (I think). It’s a very light cream, kind of in between milk and cream, and usually put into coffee. I remember when I bought half and half accidentally when I was studying in New York; I poured it over my cereal, ate a spoonful and nearly choked. I could feel the butter-fat coating my tongue and back of my throat – fattalicious, but also so strange!

So the question is: what would happen if you used half and half in a cupcake recipe? Would the finished product be indeed denser?

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cupcakes closeup

I just love cupcakes – their size, their cuteness, their pretty-ness, their lethal ability to send you into a sugar-induced swoon. And since I got my new oven, I’ve been going on cupcake baking sprees!

I made these about two weeks ago. The chocolate ones with white frosting were made according to a Magnolia Bakery (NY) recipe, while the carrot-walnut ones with pink frosting taste just like the Cedele carrot-walnut cake.

The chocolate ones were heavenly, but the carrot ones were just a wee bit dense. Next time I make them, I’ll add a bit more baking soda and egg.

Anyhoo, here are the recipes. Enjoy!

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Hello, my name is Tessa and I like to cook and bake chin chai-stylee.

I started this blog not because I want to be a food writer, but because I just wanted to have an online database of all my recipes, as well as share my favourite dishes with the rest of the world. And yeah lah, also to show off :p

For those wondering about the name, chin chai is a Singaporean term for being laissez-faire, artless, slapdash, or as we like to put it, ‘just anyhow’. I’m not an artisanal cook and I sadly can’t afford fancy cookware nor expensive ingredients. I am also a lazy scatterbrain who likes cooking no-fuss dishes with a lot of agar-ation (another local term which means ‘rough estimation’). I hope you enjoy my recipes; feedback is welcomed!

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