Here’s to 2021!

2020 has been a very hard year for many, but at last we are looking towards a new beginning of another year. πŸ‘πŸ‘ New Year’s Eve marks a time to reflect and learn, and what a year this has been!

As I was reminiscing the past year last night, I stumbled upon a video on the internet (typical insomniac behaviour lol) that recapped all the old animations I used to enjoy as a child. I have always been a fan of anime. It’s crazy to think some of these animes are over 20 years old (even older than me at that 😬) since I feel like I have been watching them since forever. It’s really a sad, constant reminder that time really does fly by- every small and seemingly insignificant moments in life need to be cherished and treasured before they disappear forever. ❀️

The future is never set in stone, and endless possibilities and dreams lay ahead! So, let’s smash this year! (Like I did to my chocolate ball dessert! πŸ˜‚) Wishing everyone a happy new year! πŸ₯³πŸ₯³πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽŠπŸŽŠ May all your dreams come true in 2021! ❀️❀️

Coconut rice pudding πŸ₯₯ and mango πŸ₯­ inside!

As Long As There’s Christmas

Happy Christmas Eve! πŸŽ„β˜ƒοΈπŸŒŸ Almost a week into tier 4, but funnily enough I am still enjoying my time away from work and being left to my own devices. 😌 Obviously this Christmas is a lot quieter than previous years, but I think it’s good to find some peace in these uncertain times.

Continuing my spree of festive baking, I decided to make a traditional Yule Log today. The filling is a whipped cream with raspberries, wrapped in a chocolate sponge coated in dark chocolate ganache and decorated with tempered chocolates. πŸ˜‹ It’s very straightforward, and I had such a fun time making it because I just love doing tempered chocolate work. πŸ˜πŸ‘Œ And to finish, all it needs a little dust of icing sugar to bring it to life! ❄️❄️

When You Wish Upon a Star β­οΈ

Despite the fact we are approaching ChristmasπŸŽ„, I know for many of us in the UK, there will be no moods for celebration. The chaos that has happened in the past few days had most certainly angered and frustrated me (and it’s much more than just having my holiday plan tossed right out of the window). I do believe tier 4/lockdown is the right thing to do, but I sighed at the incompetence, disorganisation and seemingly lack of care shown by the British government that has allowed the situation to be escalated to this stage… It’s such a sad way to end a truly unusual year (and who knows what’s in hold for the new year). Meanwhile, however, I am just happy to stay in my tiny flat and keep myself occupied for this festive period. I am not unused to celebrating the holiday alone, but I know many will be disappointed of being unable to celebrate with their families. I do hope everyone out there get to enjoy the holiday in some way despite the circumstances. ❀️

Taking my mind off everything going on, I decided to go ahead with some festive baking in the upcoming days. Today marks the winter solstice and apparently the ‘Christmas star’ ⭐️ is set to align for the first time in 800 years tonight from a social media account I have read. What a coincidence today that I decided to bake a ‘star bread’ (and it is REALLY a coincidence I promise!πŸ˜‚ Was wanting to make it when I saw it on Instagram a while ago!πŸ˜„)

I used a simple white bread dough recipe (It’s the same dough recipe I used here πŸ‘‰, and decided to go with a savoury filling of spring onions, ginger, garlic and coriander. I also added hot olive oil into the spring onion filling (apparently it helps to make the aroma of the spring onions to come out better??) The bread is actually easier to shape than I thought – you can see the steps below. Why not give it a try? πŸ˜‰

1. Divide the dough into two equal portions and roll into discs. Spread the filling over one of the discs.
2. Cover with the other dough disc. Put a cup over the centre to lightly stamp out a circle. Use a sharp knife to divide the edges into 16 equals portions.
3. Twist each of the edges and join two edges together to form the shape as shown in the image above. Allow for a second prove until doubled in size. Brush with olive oil before baking in the oven at 190C for about 15-20 minutes.
Smells amazing! πŸ˜πŸ˜‹

Wishing everyone a good week ahead of them!

14 Days to Christmas, 7 Days of Isolation…(?)

It’s been over a month since I last posted… and needless to say work and lockdown has completely took over my life in the past month… πŸ˜… (I was still required to go to work, so not that my routine changed dramatically at all, but the hours have been intense at times. πŸ˜›) However, one more week of work left before my official holiday, and I am determined to finish on a good note πŸ’ͺ and can’t for Christmas to finally come! πŸŽ…πŸŽ„β„οΈ

Unfortunately, a close colleague of mine has been tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago, so I am currently sitting out for self-isolation at home for another week. (Although a little birdie told me that self-isolation period is going to be shortened, so I may be returning to work sooner than I thought…) Meanwhile, it’s good that I finally have some free time for myself to do some baking. Today, I have decided to make some flower sausage breads using a technique I learnt from making a sausage roll wreath last Christmas (after I saw that on Bake Off!) Bringing a little sunshine β˜€οΈ and a feel of spring 🌼🌼 into this gloomy weather! 😊 I was so happy that the dough still managed to rise very well despite the freezing temperature haha! πŸ₯Άβ„️❄️

I have no idea what I will expect in my upcoming holiday (since I am nervous about booking anything in advance due to fears of change in restrictions), but hopefully some exciting fun will be on the horizon. 😁 What are your plans for Christmas? πŸŽ„

Happy Halloween!

A late β€˜Happy Halloween’ from the UK! πŸ‘»πŸŽƒIt’s been quite an eventful night as a second lockdown has been announced tonight… However, I shall remain positive for the upcoming month and take it a day as it goes. 😊 I hope all of you will be enjoying a fun Saturday night whatever you will be doing and wherever you are! πŸ‘Œ

And I did get around to doing some small things to celebrate this Halloween by making some little β€˜devil’ steamed pork buns! 😈 They weren’t absolutely perfect but were great fun to do (and hilarious too – I keep changing the design as I was making them before finally settling on one! πŸ˜‚)

Have a good weekend!

My Favourite Things of the Fall

Just realise it’s the last week of October and it will be Halloween πŸŽƒ this weekend! But meanwhile I am going to enjoy my week off work and hopefully do some more baking in the meantime! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚ (Since work lately has made it near impossible for me to bake at all…)

From our visit to Brighton, we had some green apples 🍏🍏 left over from our hotel breakfast sets. So I decided to make some mini apple pies using them, depicting my favourite things from the fall season (mid autumn festival πŸŒ•, Halloween πŸ‘», autumn leaves πŸ‚ and, of course, squirrels! 🐿❀️) I used my normal recipe of shortcrust pastry which is 2:1 ratio of plain flour to butter. Warm, buttery and tart πŸ˜‹ πŸ˜‹ – perfect in this cold, rainy day!

What are your favourite things in the fall?

Two Foodies’ Trip to Brighton

So it’s finally half term, which means I will be taking off a week away from work! YAY! πŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ‘ It also just happened to coincide with with my mum’s work break, so we decided to travel together this time. πŸ‘΅Obviously, with the current pandemic, we had to think long and hard about which was the best place to visit, and we finally settled on visiting Brighton for a four-night stay! 🌊

I baked some egg tarts the night before to take with me on the travel πŸ˜‚

It wasn’t a long train ride to get to Brighton (and I took off immediately after work! πŸ˜‚) This time, we had to travel separately, so I ended meeting my mum at the hotel there. With her working as a chef for a hotel group, we were also very lucky to get a free stay in the city. πŸ˜πŸ‘Œ

Greetings from the hotel! How cute are these! ❀️

Since my mum and I were both enthusiastic foodies, we were so happy to get to enjoy so many great food on this trip! πŸ˜‹ One of the first places we visited was Riddle and Finns just by the Brighton Seafront. Nothing can really beat a luxurious seafood lunch by the sea! πŸ¦€πŸ™πŸ¦ͺ🐟 (And how can one possibly say no to seafood when you are in Brighton? πŸ˜‰)

The view from the restaurant (before it started raining heavily! β˜”οΈβ˜”οΈ) We were so lucky we chose to eat inside (not that my mum could stand the cold πŸ₯Ά anyway! πŸ˜‚) as the people eating outside were then ushered back in all soaking wet!
Complimentary bread basket with four different condiments (our favourite was the mackerel 🐟 I really enjoyed the horseradish too but my mum wasn’t a fan! πŸ˜‚ ) I thought it was really cute for them to serve the butter on a shell.
Starters: braised octopus with confit egg yolk and miso yoghurt (left), New England clam and bacon chowder (centre) and tempura monkfish cheeks with a jalapeΓ±o and basil dip (right)
Jersey oysters three ways: (From the left clockwise) Porthilly (deep fried with pickled vegetables), Oysters Rockefeller and creamy champagne sauce. πŸ¦ͺπŸ¦ͺπŸ¦ͺ
Malaysian style wok fried whole crab πŸ¦€
My mum is working hard to try to get all the crab meat out! 🀣

My favourite dishes there were the oysters (the Rockefeller style was the best of the three for me), octopus and the tempura monkfish cheeks (loved that dip!) The clam chowder was okay, but I personally would enjoy it less thick and the vegetables more cooked. My mum (who is even pickier than me with food) really enjoyed the oysters too, but she also liked the crab, though it was hard work and a messy job getting all the meat out! πŸ˜‚ πŸ’ͺ Actually felt like a proper workout after! 🀣 (I found the dish okay, but we both thought the Malaysian coconut sauce was slightly too sweet and I wasn’t a massive fan of crab to begin with… πŸ˜…)

Luckily the rain stopped pouring when we finished our lunch, so we got to enjoy a stroll around the seafront and the city, including visiting the famous Brighton Pavilion. We snapped many pics! πŸ˜†πŸ“Έ

Look at the waves! 🌊 🌊
Brighton Palace Pier
Brighton Seafront
Beautiful sky! ❀️❀️
Brighton Beach
Glorious sun above β˜€οΈ
Brighton Pavilion
Royal Pavilion Gardens
The Lanes
Mural in the Lanes
Love the market feel here with all the boutiques

Brighton is truly hidden gem with its ambient, relaxing atmosphere and a beautiful seaside. Over the new few days, it was such a delightful surprise to discover all these great food places within the city! 🀀🀀 Here are some of the best ones!

Delicious, healthy salad lunch in Foodilic πŸ₯— That mango and avocado salad was so yummy! It’s great value for money too – only Β£8.50 to sit in with one hot main and three side salads. Very generous portions too! We were so stuffed afterwards! 😬
Blue cheese pizza in Fatto a Mano. Simple and scrumptious! And I introduced Burrata to my mum – which she absolutely loved! πŸ˜‚ (We wandered into this restaurant as a shelter when the sky suddenly started pouring 🌧🌧 one day. Weather hadn’t really been on our side throughout this trip… πŸ˜…)
When I visited Salisbury last month, I found a Roly’s Fudge store and bought some of these back for my work colleagues. They absolutely loved it and devoured the whole box before I got to try any. πŸ˜› So I finally got to have some this times around, but I found them rather too sweet for my liking… πŸ˜–

Our last meal in Brighton was a French dinner in the Petit Pois Restaurant. πŸ‡«πŸ‡· And we managed to finish on a high as this was our favourite meal throughout the trip! πŸ‘

Complimentary appetiser: apricot and chestnut croquettes
Starters: pan fried scallops with artichoke purΓ©e, apple and hazelnut salad (top) and classic garlic and parsley snails (bottom)
Bouillabaisse- fish soup with sea bass, mussels, squid, king prawn, seaweed and potato
Duck breast with celeriac Dauphinoise, grilled spring onions and blood orange sauce

We absolutely loved the earthy nuttiness of the croquette appetiser! πŸ˜‹β€οΈ The dish of the night though was the scallops. The artichoke purΓ©e and the acidity of the apples marries perfectly with the lightness of the scallops. 🀀 My mum also really enjoyed her Bouillabaisse. For me, the duck breast was also very yummy with a medium-rare cook (which it’s how I always like my duck) and I wished they gave me more of that delicious blood orange sauce! πŸ˜‚ I couldn’t get enough of it!

Once we finished dinner, we ran back into the hotel passing through a storm β˜”οΈ β˜”οΈ as the rainy night marked the end of our trip. 😝

Chill Day 😎😴

Happy Sunday! Only a very short post today, but it’s nice to get back to some cooking/baking after some time. After several long weeks of work, it’s nice to be able to catch a break today, so I decided to make a classic brunch with a bit of a twist. These fluffy American pancakes πŸ₯ž are infused with nori (Japanese seaweed) and served with crispy bacons πŸ₯“ – one of my favourite things of all time! πŸ˜‹ Perfect and rich when served with a dab of butter!

What do you like to eat your pancakes with? What are you having for brunch/breakfast today? Let me know in the comments below! πŸ˜‰

Birthday Weekend Getaway: Salisbury and Stonehenge (Part 2)

I didn’t realise how tired I was last night until I was back in my hotel room and quickly fell fast asleep. 😴 Lately, I have been struggling with insomnia and intense dreams, so I was glad to wake up this morning feeling really refreshed. Guess this weekend away from London did do some good for me after all! ☺️

Breakfast at the hotel

After enjoying a Full English in the pub area of the hotel (I genuinely was quite surprised to see that there were a good handful of people staying in the hotel last night πŸ™‚) and another bath time πŸ›€ back in my room, I headed out to round off a few things in town and visited Salisbury Cathedral among a few other noticeable places in before hopping on the train back to London which was scheduled just after lunchtime. The weather was just as miserable as it was yesterday πŸ˜…πŸŒ§πŸŒ§, so it was a bit of a hassle at times juggling between the shoppings (mainly some sweets for my colleagues at work) and the umbrella in my hands. πŸ˜‚πŸ› β˜”οΈ (I was determined not to lose my umbrella again today! 🀣)

Salisbury Cathedral
Under the rain β˜”οΈβ˜”οΈ
Sculptures in the park surrounding the cathedral
Army museum (Didn’t go in, since I spent too much already yesterday and try to save money… πŸ˜›)
A bridge (?) over High Street
Market Square
Council building (I think… πŸ˜…)
Thought this was cute so took a picture lol… πŸ˜‚
A monument in town centre with the Haunch of Venison just right behind it

A friend of mine who originated from Salisbury recommended me to check out the Haunch of Venison, a gastropub in the area. I loved the old, historical interior look of the pub immediately which made me the more excited to try out their game menu! πŸ˜‹

The interior of the dining room
The staircase
Had a wander inside the pub πŸ‘€
The pigeon starter – loved the crispy kale it came with! πŸ˜‹
Venison Sunday roast with a trio of sauces – horseradish, mint and cranberry

Now I am ready to board the train πŸš‚ with a full stomach!

Birthday Weekend Getaway: Salisbury and Stonehenge (Part 1)

Happy weekend, everyone! Hope all of you had a good week. In my case, this week has certainly felt long, so I was glad I have finally made it to my β€œbirthday weekend”! πŸ˜› Despite my original plan of going away abroad is now thrown out of the window, I decided (at the very last minute) that maybe it was worth going away from London for a bit after all. Therefore, on Thursday, I decided to book a train away to Salisbury to see the famous Stonehenge. I appreciate that, for some people, the place is nothing more than a pile of rocks, but 10 years old me would have been so excited! (At that point in my life, I was obsessed with a lot of the mysterious locations in the world such as Loch Ness, the pyramids in Egypt and Machu Picchu among many places.)

The weather in London has been very rainy in the past days! β˜”οΈβ˜”οΈ As a precaution, I checked weather forecast (something I normally don’t do if I am honest! πŸ˜‚) and anticipated that it would also be raining in Salisbury. Before I stepped out of my house, I kept on reminding myself not to forget the umbrella (more on that later lol) since I have an awful habit of leaving it behind whenever I go!

Initially I was worried if it would be complicated to get to Stonehenge from Salisbury (since I don’t drive), but it turns out that there is a direct bus one can board from the city centre. I purchased the all included ticket (total to Β£32.50) that covers the bus and entry to both Stonehenge and Old Sarum Castle. The bus journey wasn’t very long (around 30 minutes from the city centre of Salisbury) and I quite enjoyed the scenery of all the open fields around the area – since I really needed a break from city life lately. 😝🌾🌾

Stonehenge Visitor Centre
A replicate of the apparent homes (?) for the builders of Stonehenge

To get to the Stonehenge from the visitor centre, there is a choice of either taking a shuttle bus (which arrives in less than 5 minutes) or walking (around 20 minutes). On a nicer day, I might choose to walk, but today I decided to take the shuttle bus. The foot path is designed to be a circuit around the Stonehenge, so I have taken lots of snaps 😝 and here is Stonehenge from all directions!

Before leaving, I also took a scroll in the exhibition area and sat down for the a small lunch in the cafΓ©.

Feels like this is the weather today πŸ˜‚
Inside the exhibition
Wish I can go to all these places one day! πŸ’ͺ
Steak Cornish pasty πŸ˜‹ plus an apple juice I bought from M&S before I boarded the bus πŸ˜†

Boarding the bus again, I then headed to Old Sarum Castle (which was about 20 minutes away from Stonehenge and only about 7 minutes away from city centre.) The castle was situated in a very peculiar spot (in my opinion at least πŸ˜‚) that required one to cross a long winding footpath through the fields and up the hill. And only when I was halfway gone, then I realised that I left my umbrella on the bus! πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ by the hill
Don’t know why it took me a long time to figure out how to open this lol…
Entrance to Old Sarum Castle
View from the top
360 view of the castle
Feels a bit like walking in a tight rope 😬 the slope on the side is very steep!
Very foggy day today

As the rain started to get heavier 🌧🌧, I tried to still go around the castle (without my umbrella of course…) but it did gradually get to a point when I had to retreat since I was soaked from top to bottom (if anything, my frustration was more with my own forgetfulness than the weather! πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ) So I finally settled down at a spot underneath a tree and patiently waited for the tour bus to come back. 🚌 (And luckily, since it was the same tour bus that kept going around in circle, I was thankful that I was able to get my umbrella back πŸ˜‚β˜‚, otherwise it would have been long gone!)

After checking in the hotel and soaking myself in a warm bath, I then headed out for dinner in Zizzi. (Tonight felt even busier than I imagined a Saturday night would be, so it took me some time before I finally found a place with spaces. And it was pouring rain as well, so I didn’t walk around looking too much.)

And the perks of staying above a pub means I got to take a pint to my room to enjoy! πŸ˜‰

Wasn’t feeling alcohol today, so went for a lemonade instead lol! πŸ˜‚ Just needed something to quench my thirst to be fair.