Busy Busy Bees 🐝

How are you all getting on this Monday? Are you all being busy bees back to work? Don’t forget no matter how busy you get, always take time to relax and spend time with your loved ones. (One of the good thing about living alone is you can ignore the latter haha 😛)

As a child, I was very lucky to have a family who worked very hard in order for me to get the life I have now. Whether you’re trying to earn a living for yourself or your loved ones, I commend you for your hard work and your determination to make the most of your lives. And, to commemorate those of you busy bees out there, I would like to share this recipe of my bumble bee lemon cupcakes. Best wishes to the rest of the week! And keep fighting! 💪

Bumble Bee Lemon Cupcakes

Quantity: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cake batter:

125g unsalted butter, soft

125g caster sugar

125g self-raising flour

2 large eggs

1 lemon, zest only

1 tsp baking powder

For the lemon icing:

250g icing sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 lemon, zest only

Yellow food colouring

For the bumble bees:

Yellow fondant

Dark chocolate, melted

Dr. Oetker Chocolate Hearts (alternatively, you can temper your own chocolate)

Other decorations:

Wafer flowers

Popping candies

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

2. Cream the butter with the caster sugar using an electric whisk.

3. Sieve your flour, and add the rest of the cake ingredients into the butter mixture. Beat or whisk until well-combined and smooth.

4. Line muffin tin with cupcake paper cases. Place the batter evenly across the cases. Bake the cupcakes for 12-15 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack once ready.

5. For the icing, sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. If your icing is too wet, add more icing sugar to thicken it.

6. To make the bumble bees, roll yellow fondant into small balls. Pipe the melted dark chocolate to form the stripes and the eyes. Insert the chocolate hearts on it to form the wings.

7. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, spread or pipe the icing on top and decorate with the bumble bees, wafer flowers and popping candies.

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Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes

At the end of every weekends, there always seems to be a sense of dread with the thought of going back to work tomorrow. As one who has suffered from anxiety issues, I have had problems of ‘butterflies in stomach’ as the end of Sunday approaches. Such was a bit of a problem when I was in school, but now having grown into adulthood, I have tried to find ways of managing these problems.

What I found was that doing something that you could enjoy and relax was a great help. And, for me, the best thing to do was obviously none other than having delicious food! So after an afternoon nap at home, I hopped onto a bus for a short ride to Angel station. It is one of my favourite spots in London to come by for good food as it boasts a vast array of restaurants and eatery here.

Now, I have a few places that I particularly go often here, but today I thought I will go for something different as I headed into Wahaca. For my fellow Londoners, I doubt it is something unfamiliar (as they are virtually everywhere!) I had a strange relationship with Wahaca in that, in my first few months in London, everyone I knew would go on about how great it is but we always struggled to get into a restaurant on Friday nights, so I actually didn’t manage to have a try until some time last year (and I genuinely like Mexican food!)

Devon Crab 🦀 & Avocado 🥑 Tostadas
Bavette Steak 🥩
Raspberry Sorbet & Vanilla with Hibiscus 🌺 Syrup and Cinnamon-Dusted Buñuelo Pastry

I really enjoyed the crab & avocado tostadas and the ice creams, especially with the cinnamon buñuelo pastry which brought something different to the table. Whilst the steak was also good overall, I thought it was a touch under-seasoned. Either way, a fiery kick start to the week!

Do you also enjoy Mexican cuisine? Do you have a thing-to-do on Sunday evenings? 😉 Feel free to let me know in the comments!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

The sunlight is finally back in London! Having powered my way through work last night, I decided to treat myself today by visiting Central London. What’s better than eating outside when the sun is out? For lunch today, I visited Duck & Waffle Local by Piccadilly Circus. I had walked past this restaurant many times before, but never tried it until now. Duck is always one of my favourite protein to eat, so it’s really a no-brainer choice for me.

The first dish I tried was a foie gras crème brûlée served with a toasted brioche. I was intrigued by the idea of a savoury take on this traditional French dessert. I particularly enjoyed the silky, smooth texture of the crème brûlée, and the savoury note from the foie gras accompanied well with the creaminess of the dish. Personally, I think I may prefer a thinner caramel on top as it did get slightly too rich and heavy after a couple of bites, but it’s nonetheless quite good.

For the second dish, I ordered their signature dish: confit duck leg and waffles with a fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup. This modern, French spin on the American classic was cooked to almost perfection. Waffles were deliciously crispy and the duck was scrumptious when paired with the sweet maple syrup. And the fried duck egg to me was more than a garnish as I felt it added another level of texture and complexity to the overall dish.

Those who know me will know that besides food, movies are another great passion of mine. Today, I was particularly excited coming outside because of the release of Toy Story 4. Like many of you out there, I grew up watching the franchise since I saw the first film when I was around 4 years old. To think of how many years have passed since then, it was almost a scary feeling. So many good and bad moments in the last 20 or so years, it was like a trip down the memory lane in my mind.

Grabbing a bubble tea before the movie!
Long time no see, Buzz and Bo Peep! 👋 (I actually ended up going to another cinema nearby ’cause the ticket in this place was really expensive… 😓)
Waiting for the ads to finish before the showing…

Without spoiling the movie for people, I am just going to say it was a lovely film to watch and to see these wonderful characters again brought back so much joy and happy memories! (And to see Woody and Bo Peep reunited for the first time after all these years, it filled me with warmth and hope for the future.)

After the movie, it won’t be like me to not have some more food before heading home, right? So I ended up grabbing a chicken katsu curry and a gelato before riding the bus back.

To quote Buzz Lightyear, here is to another Saturday and ‘to infinity and beyond‘!

Pillows and Marshmallows

Last night I dreamed I ate a 10-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone.‘ Have you ever dreamt about marshmallows? Tommy Cooper once did at the cost of his own pillow. As I am leaning against my pillow, almost half dozed off, I thought I would share the recipe of my homemade marshmallows.

It’s probably unsurprising to know that I am always a big fan of sweet treats, but this is my first time making any kind of confectionary. And surprisingly, these pillowy blueberry marshmallows are rather easy to make. I can say my friends and I had fun eating them while dipping them in our hot chocolate and coffee yesterday. (It’s quite a sticky business though! 😂)

The recipe is adapted from the book ‘Pâtisserie’ by William and Suzue Curley. The recipe starts from making a blueberry purée, but you can also adapt it for other kinds of fruit purée to create marshmallows of different flavours! 😋

Blueberry Marshmallows

Quantity: 1 tray

Ingredients:

For the blueberry purée:

150g blueberries

15g caster sugar

15ml water

1 tsp lemon juice

For the marshmallows:

110g blueberry purée

10g leaf gelatine

225g caster sugar

135ml water

38g egg whites

Icing sugar, for dusting

Cornflour, for dusting

Method:

1. To make the blueberry purée, place blueberries, caster sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to boil and crush the blueberries as you are cooking them. Pass the purée through a sieve and set aside.

2. Soak the leaf gelatine in cold water and set aside.

3. Use 110g of the blueberry purée to make the marshmallows. (You can save any leftovers to eat later, for example, putting it in plain yogurt!) Place the purée in a saucepan and bring to boil.

4. Squeeze off any excess water from the leaf gelatine and add it to the purée. Stir until the gelatine is fully dissolved. Set aside.

5. Place the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and heat to create a syrup.

6. In a large, clean mixing bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks.

7. Mix the syrup with the purée mixture. Then add it to the whisking egg whites. Continue to whisk until smooth and cold.

8. Mix equal amounts of cornflour and icing sugar together. Sift into a bowl.

9. Line a small baking tray with baking paper (choose one with enough depth). Dust it with the cornflour and icing sugar mixture, saving some for dusting the marshmallows later. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the tray and spread evenly.

10. Place in a fridge for about 1-2 hours, or until set.

11. Once set, cut into cubes of marshmallows and roll in the dusting mixture before serving.

Have a sweet marshmallow dream! (Excuse me as I doze off on my pillow 😴…)

What You Need On a Sick Day

After waking up with a temperature and a runny nose this morning, I must say I didn’t have the best start to the day being bed-bound at home. 😷 Paracetamols and sleep quickly became my best friends. Have you ever felt though the more you sleep, the more groggy you get? (Not to mention the fact that I also need to constantly get up to clear my blocked nose! 🤧)

I finally woke up from my long nap as the rain started to fall outside. However, instead of staying in, I swiftly went for a shower to clear my head since I already made some dinner plans with friends for tonight before this week. I stepped outside, jacket on and umbrella ready in my hand.

Burrata, Smoked Salmon, Olive and Breads

The place we visited was Flour & Grape, not so far from the London Bridge station. (Though it was a bit of a walk, especially in the rain…) The restaurant specialises in fresh, homemade pasta and has a small menu for that reason, though it is definitely one place not to miss out by pasta lovers like me. (On a side note, this restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so come early if you can to avoid waiting in long queues.) My friends and I decided to share several pasta dishes from the menu. (Definitely a reason to have a big party when you visit this place haha!) It was literally like a fun pasta potluck! My favourites were definitely the pork shoulder tortellini and tiger prawn trottole thanks to the rich butter sauce and prawn bisque that were served with the pasta. Certainly was glad that my appetite wasn’t affected by the cold!

Pork Shoulder Tortellini, Truffle Taglierini, Beef Ragu Fettuccine, Tiger Prawn Trottole and Red Pepper Ricotta Mezzaluna

As my friends and I enjoyed the good food and chatting about all the things in our lives (work, family and men LOL…), I realised I didn’t feel so ill after all. I guess good food and friends are the best cure to any sickness you have! 😊 (We also went for coffees and have some of my homemade marshmallows after. More on that later!)

What is your favourite thing to do on a sick day?

Your Daily Bread

I would believe, for many of you, bread is a staple item in your house. Breakfast, lunch or dinner… you can do no wrong with a piece of bread with your meal. Sourdough, in particular, appears to be a popular choice as of late.

While I am not a massive fan of this artisan bread, I was intrigued by its unique preparation. For those of you unaware of this, sourdough requires a starter. Sourdough is not made with active or dry yeast and instead uses wild yeast. The sourdough starter is essentially a pre-ferment made from mainly flour and water, and a way to cultivate the wild yeast in the flour.

The recipe I used for the sourdough starter comes from BBC Food. (Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sourdough_starter_22976) The starter will take a few days to be ready, so do start early if you want fresh sourdough bread by the end of the week.

Once the starter is ready, you may make the sourdough bread. (Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/how_to_make_sourdough_08213) The remaining procedure is very similar to making regular breads otherwise. One of my colleagues is actually quite fond of sourdough himself and I recommended this recipe to him.

Now, I tend to like to dip my sourdough in garlic olive oil and salt before eating, or have it as an open sandwich. How do you like your sourdough bread? Let me know in the comments!

The Sun Above the Marshmallow Clouds

As we are approaching to the second half of June, summer holiday may have begun for some already. But for the past week, the sunlight was tucked behind the clouds in London. (Maybe it was ’cause I kept complaining how hot it was the week before?) For those of you who live in hot, exotic countries though, I wonder how many of you are sick of the heat by now? (Trust me, having lived in one before, I can empathise haha.)

But for now, how about enjoying a dessert? This mango and coconut meringue is one to enjoy be it cloudy or sunny weather. The combination of crunchy, marshmallowy meringue and soft whipped cream paired with tangy mangoes is one that can whisk you high up in the clouds. And with its vibrant yellow colours, it was as if the sunshine is brought into the house. ☀️ 😊

Mango and Coconut Meringue

Quantity: 1 meringue

Ingredients:

75g egg whites

100g caster sugar

50g icing sugar

Yellow food colouring

Half a mango, peeled, stoned and sliced into pieces

100ml double cream

80g mango pulp/purée

Desiccated coconut

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 140C/ 275F/ Gas 1.

2. Make the French meringue by whisking egg whites in a clean mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar a bit at a time when whisking until stiff peaks are formed. (To test if it is ready, tip the bowl over and the meringue shouldn’t fall.)

3. Gently fold in the icing sugar into the meringue.

4. Brush stripes of the yellow food colouring inside a piping bag with a star nozzle. Place the meringue into the bag and pipe small peaks to form two circular discs of equal sizes.

5. Bake the meringue discs for about 1 hour, or until crisp and lightly coloured. Cool the meringues slowly in the oven, then open the oven slightly to cool further before taking them out to cool on a wire rack. (If the meringues are cooled down too fast, it may cause them to crack.)

6. Whisk the double cream to soft peaks. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of desiccated coconut into the cream.

7. When the meringue discs are completely cooled, spoon most of the whipped cream on top of one of the discs. Drizzle the mango pulp/purée over and place the mangos on top. Add the remaining double cream, and place the other meringue disc on top to finish assembling.

8. Sprinkle more desiccated coconut over the meringue before serving.