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The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A strawberry butterfly cake


My little girl is no longer so little. She celebrated her 3rd birthday last week, but she is the size of a 4 or 5 year old and speaks like one too. I often forget that she is still so little and sometimes expect so much from her. I can't believe it's been 3 years since I laboured in the hospital and had my all-natural unmedicated birth experience (which I was told was not possible after my firstborn was delivered via emergency ceasarean years ago). She was an easy baby who loved to sleep (she still loves her sleep), and she's clever in a different way to my boy's brainy smartness. She's turning out to be a very girly girl, and her request for her birthday cake was simple and girly: a pink and purple butterfly strawberry cake. This Betty Crocker butterfly cake recipe seemed simple enough to execute, and I made a strawberry cake using two recipes. I followed this food.com recipe, and used Chocolate Moosey's idea of reducing the strawberry to produce a more intense flavour and colour (but I reduced it much further than she did). Fresh strawberries were not available at the supermarket, and I could not find the frozen variety, but thankfully one of the cake supplies store I went to sold tubs of frozen pureed strawberries. The strawberry buttercream frosting was a lovely pink colour, and fortified the strawberry flavour of the cake. I was pleased with how well the cake turned out, and I was complimented on the cake at my girl's party. Homemade cakes are a rarity in Hong Kong (kitchens here are tiny and tabletop ovens are a bit of a luxury), and in fact I've never been to a birthday party where the cake was homemade. One dad at the party told me that he wasn't going to have any cake until his wife told him that I made it. I made the strawberry cake again for my girl's class when they celebrated her birthday in kindy, and the principal declared that she had two servings!

I really enjoyed making and decorating this butterfly cake, which was as easy to make as the other pink cake I made last year. I wonder if my third baby will be requesting pink cakes for her birthday like her sister! The recipe below is for a round two-layer strawberry cake. For cutting and decorating into a butterfly cake, please refer to This Betty Crocker butterfly cake recipe.

The cake shortly after I finished decorating it:

Strawberry Cake

Ingredients

CAKE
2 1/4 cups (225g) sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (115g) butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (240g) pureed strawberries
1/2 cup (115mL) milk

FROSTING
1 cup (225g) butter
3.5 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60mL) reduced pureed strawberries

Method

FOR CAKE:
1. In a large saucepan, bring pureed strawberries to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the strawberries cook down to about two-thirds of the volume. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Use 1/2 cup of the reduced puree for the cake and reserve the remaining 1/4 cup for the frosting.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. In a large bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.
4. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
5. Add the eggs to the creamed butter, one at a time, mixing well each time. Add vanilla.
6. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk and strawberry puree (in two additions), beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated, and do not overmix.
7. Divide the batter between the two round greased and lined cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes or until the tops are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes then invert cakes onto cooling racks to cool completely.

FOR FROSTING:
1. Using a hand mixer, mix together sugar and butter on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
2. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons of strawberry puree and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more puree if needed for spreading consistency.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Kid-friendly lunch @ ZAKS (Discovery Bay), Hong Kong

One sunny Sunday, we took the kids on the ferry out to Discovery Bay. The ride itself was worth it, as it was a fun novelty for the children who don't often go out on the water. They also had lots of fun splashing at the beach, which was another novelty for the kids. When we got hungry for lunch, it was a no-brainer choice to head to ZAKS. And the awesome thing is, for every HK$120 spent at certain restaurants on D'Deck (ZAKS included), we could get a free ferry ride back to Central! ZAKS is very family-friendly, with plenty of menu choices for the kids and adults alike.

The cappuccino (HK$43) is decent here:

The 8-year-old wanted the Mini Hotdog (HK$60) which he polished off in no time:

The 2-year-old was indecisive, so we ordered Chicken Fingers (HK$60). This is homemade stuff, with strips of real chicken breast (not processed/reconstituted stuff) and super crunchy coating:

Hubby got the Flame-Grilled Rib-Eye Steak Sandwich (HK$120) which was apparently so good, that he forgot to offer me some to taste:

My Smoked Salmon Pita (HK$108) was superb:

Thumbs up from everyone!

[Prices quoted above do not include the 10% service charge.]

ZAKS
Shop G04 (Ground Floor) & 103 (1st Floor),
Block A, D'Deck,
Discovery Bay Plaza,
Lantau Island
Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2987 6232

Monday, 14 November 2016

Delicious savoury crepes and coffee @ La Patisserie, South Perth (Australia)

One of the great things when meeting up with friends for breakfast when visiting Perth is that good coffee and food are always involved. We met up with hubby's long-time good friend and his kid at La Patisserie in South Perth for a late breakfast, a nice little place hidden from view of the popular Mend Street behind a set of staircase to the building's first level. The coffee was great, and the savoury crepes were delicious! Seating is cramped and limited (most especially with wriggly young ones), so opt for take away and head down to the foreshore only a short walk away to enjoy the food.


Display case full of pastries and croissants, living up to its name:

Delicious coffee:

A premium version of French Toast (AU$9.50), with two slices of brioche soaked in egg and cooked with ham and gruyere cheese, with a side of maple syrup:

Smoked Salmon Crepe (AU$10.50), with sour cream, lemon and dill:

Roast Pumpkin Crepe (AU$9.50) with baby spinach, tangy cheese and toasted pinenuts. This vegetarian option is so full of flavour, you wouldn't miss the animal protein:


La Patisserie South Perth
Shop 3
35 Mends Street
South Perth, WA 6151
Australia
(08) 9474 9730

La Patisserie South Perth Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Classy lunch @ LE SALON DE THÉ de Joël Robuchon (Elements), Hong Kong

Not too long ago, hubby and I stole away for a quick lunch date on a Saturday after both the younger kids had gone down for their afternoon naps at the same time (alas that was a rare occurrence never to happen again!). With this rare opportunity to lunch without the kids, we decided to splurge a little and headed to an all-time favourite in the mall downstairs, LE SALON DE THÉ de Joël Robuchon. The afternoon tea here is highly recommended, but the a-la-carte and lunch sets are also reliably excellent. We went with the set lunch menu, and we could choose an appetiser from three options, and a main from four choices. Prices varied according to the main dish selected, and the ones we chose were HK$298 each. The sandwich and crepe options were cheaper at HK$238. The option of coffee and tea was HK$38 extra (usually over HK$50), or HK$85 to have cake with the coffee/tea.

Hubby's entree was Spanish octopus confit with grilled cauliflower and green olives. The octopus was tender and tasty:

Mine was the king crab raviolis with daikon, chrysanthemum jelly and green apple. These were excellent bite-sized morsels that was crisp and refreshing:

For main course, hubby got the mushroom tortellini with lobster and Chinese red spinach. I loved the generous chunks of lobster:

The slow-cooked Scottish salmon with seasonal vegetables and seafood broth was melt-in-your-mouth tender with gorgeous flavours:

Hubby couldn't pass up the delicious cakes, so he ordered the Jivara Orange Cake:

An excellent choice:

Once again, we enjoyed a meal at LE SALON DE THÉ that didn't disappoint.

[Prices quoted above do not include the 10% service charge.]

LE SALON DE THÉ de Joël Robuchon
Shop 1020B,
1st Floor Elements
1 Austin Road West
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2351 6678