Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cupcake World

I am officially entering the world of cupcakery. Funny, I am nervous. I hope that I easily do this just like how I easily experiment on pasta dishes.

As mentioned in my first post, the last time I baked was when I was in HS and first year college. I know I need a refresher. My mom is a good cook but do not bake. So when I saw a deal in Cash Cash Pinoy, I purchased a voucher for a 4-hour cupcake baking workshop at Cake Terrific. We will be taught how to bake four recipes: (1) Black Bottom, (2) Classic Chocolate, (3) Red Velvet, and (4) Banana cupcakes.

After almost 2 months after buying the voucher, I attended the class last week. I was very excited!

I was told we can bring home our finished products so I had to stop by Chocolate Lover to buy a box. They sell the boxes in 10's which is okay since I really plan to pursue this hobby (It makes me happy!) and maybe bring some in the office or school.

The class was from 10am-2pm. Our teacher was Chef Sabrina. Also assisting us and taking pictures was Chef Aicel.

We were first taught how to properly measure the wet and dry ingredients. I thought we will bake individually but we were grouped by three. It was disappointing but also a relief because I don't want to waste the ingredients if I didn't do well.

Two recipes (black bottom and red velvet) were demonstrated to us. After showing how it's done, Chef Sabrina let two participants continue while she is explaining and telling when to go on to the next step. The other two recipes (classic chocolate and banana), we did as a group. Once everything is mixed and poured on the pans, we gave it to Chef Aicel for baking.

While the goodies are in the oven, Chef Sabrina discussed the different ingredients and what they are for as well as tips in baking. She also answered our questions.

While the cakes are cooling, Chef showed us how to make the frosting. I was disappointed on this part because she used a ready-to-whip cream. I was hoping she will show us how to make cream cheese or buttercream frosting. But the fun part is we get to try piping frosting on our cupcakes! That to me will always be the best part.

I think it was pretty easy. I can't wait to try it on my own! *insert Whitney Houston song here* I am already researching on what recipe I should do first. I am not doing anything chocolate for my first try. I do not want to waste chocolates! :) I hope I won't turn my kitchen into a disaster area.

P.S. I was able to bring home a dozen of cupcakes. I gave it to my best friend and her mom as a gift. The banana cupcake was tasty but wasn't soft and moist. The classic chocolate was good for a first time (again) baker but still needs improvement. But most importantly, it was edible! Haha. :D

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Christmas Gift from Me to Me!

That irresistible "welcoming feel that baking gives a home". Soon, it will be felt and smelled from my humble abode.

Last Christmas I gave myself a fridge and an entertainment set. This year, meet the new member of my household (that kind of introduction reminds me of Beauty and the enchanted furnitures/cookwares in Beast's castle. :P I wonder what I should call it?):

It is an electric convection oven. I read that there is a difference between the regular and convection oven so I was studying some articles online. I hope it is not too hard to use. I'm getting myself prepared, too, on how much my electricity consumption will be when I start to use it.

Just the thought that I can finally bake those recipes I have been googling and saving in the past thrills me. Sunday chicken, lasagna, cupcakes, muffins... My list is getting longer and longer!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chicken with Sundried Tomatoes

I love mushroom soup so I usually have a can or two whenever I do my grocery. Weeks ago, I saw this featured recipe on the label and got intrigued with red wine vinegar. Sundried tomatoes and basil are good but in different pasta dishes so I also wondered how will it taste with both ingredients in one dish.

The ingredients are not so hard to find. They are readily available in the supermarket but just in case, I was already googling for alternatives for the vinegar and tomatoes.

I am not sure if I will like egg noodles so I bought penne instead. Also, when I cook, I always end up not strictly following the recipe. I made little modifications like instead of whole chicken breasts, I cut them into bite sizes. Instead of water, I used evaporated milk for a creamier sauce since I will be using penne. The recipe was also a little bland so I added a bit of seasoning.

My taste tester said it was good! :) Though I think it's better if I seasoned the chicken before/while frying. The vinegar is not so special maybe because of the small amount added to the sauce. It might also be nicer if it's spicier by adding some chili flakes. And I like my penne dishes eaten after storing it in the fridge after a couple of hours then reheated. It makes the penne more flavorful. And you will never go wrong with grated cheese melting on top, much better than parmesan, IMHO.

Here's my finished product:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Birthday Wish

A blogger has to have a birthday post, right? I should not miss this chance. :P Anyway, birthdays are someone's very own new year. 'Tis the time to reflect, intentionally or not.

At the start of the month, I already claimed that August 2012 is going to be a great month. It was. I think I should do that daily. So every day will be a great day. Positivity!

But when you say great, does it mean it should only be filled with joy and laughter? I came to understand I should not only think of it that way. It always has to be a balance so one has to learn something new and mature.

The month was pretty good not until exam days and on the eve of my birthday. I was really sad, mad, and disappointed. I was stressed, sick, and heart broken all at the same time. What could be worse than that?

But thanks to many warm wishes/greetings and especially the one from Tita Ahdda, I remember how great this month is supposed to be. Here goes:

"A heart that is open to appreciate every blessing would always be bigger than the eyes that see what is missing. Let our blessings be the reason to celebrate life & may those missing serve as inspiration and challenge to strive and to work for a life that never stops to get better."

After receiving that birthday wish, everything just fell into place again and I had another wonderful birthday. :D

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Abcde, 1234

I went to a workshop yesterday. It was the first time that I ever signed up for a workshop. It was a very good experience especially because it's calligraphy - the only 'talent' I can say I have.

Alessandra Lanot (Alessa), the organizer and our teacher, calls the event calligraphy crafternoon. You have to sign up online to join the workshop.

In the confirmation email she sent us, she said it "is NOT a formal workshop. As I mentioned in the blog post, it's just a dorky craft hangout with other like-minded people, experimenting with materials, and getting to know each other. :) Although to provide some form of structure, I'll be sharing some basics, and will be providing worksheets, printed lessons and modules that we can all do together, or individually."

I started doing calligraphy when I was in Grade 5 or 6 during our writing class. No matter how tiring it is to complete pages of lines, loops, spirals, letters, and numbers, I have always enjoyed that subject. Since then, I always spend minutes daily to practice writing the alphabet and the numbers 0-9. At any point in time, whenever I'm bored or idle, I find myself getting a pen and paper and start scribbling.

In high school, I usually volunteer to do the greetings on the board for the Christmas party using colored chalks. I also bought two editions of Speedball textbooks. Those books introduced me the strokes, angles, and tools in calligraphy. Instead of printing something for the cover page of some of my projects at school, I do the lettering using colored sign pens. I usually do calligraphy to somehow personalized the cards I gave to family and friends.

However, I didn't have the same amount of chance and time to use calligraphy at work. I even think my penmanship gone bad due to lack of practice that's why when we started giving out certificates to recognize the good work of our team members, I volunteered to write the names on the certificates to remember the art.

Eventually, I joined Carina and Rexie in signing up for this crafternoon. It was held at Pipino, the vegetarian sister restaurant of Pino at Malingap street in Teacher's Village, Quezon City. I have been there once but dined in Pino. The place is easy to locate but just in case you get lost, you can always refer to Google map. Alessa also provides the address and map in her email as well as her contact number if you need help to get to Pipino.

The registration fee is Php 300.00 which includes snacks after the activity. You can also buy the kit for Php 700.00 if you do not own any tool which is really good for beginners. So hassle-free.

I am quite familiar with the tools, fonts, and some calligraphy terms but it was my first time to use a fountain pen. Really fun! Can't help but imagine Jose Rizal write his novels.

I found it hard to use the obliq nib (pointed one) but that is what I want to specialize on. I like writing in script and usually ends my strokes in loops and curves. I was more comfortable with the italic nib (broader one). How could I forget the Gothic font style? It was my first love. Though, I think the nib provided could have been less broader since the cardboard is not for big slogans.

Alessa also showed us that we can use brush pens and colored inks. I would like to master that too.

If I remember it correctly, she said we should work more on the down strokes. She also mentioned that the writing speed is a factor in producing the correct proportion and style. And that calligraphy is writing using the arms. Practice daily for at least 30 minutes.

Since I have not done this for years and can't really decide on what quote to use for the final output, my product is not so good (but I love my N!). I also had a problem with too or not much ink in the nib. As always, my style was inconsistent while my strokes were not proportional.

And here are the works of the rest of the participants:

Alessa is also conducting a watercolor crafternoon and might be having a stamping crafternoon soon. I read in her blog that she had a craft soirée too. Try one of those and learn something new or just like me, relive those old hobbies.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Cake Dream

I am still up, reviewing for my business law midterm exam scheduled at ten in the morning later. For some ice breaker, I looked at the pictures posted in Instagram and saw a 'cupcake cake' by @doughnsugar. I want to have one on my birthday which is only a week from today.

While retweeting the post, it reminded me of one of my dreams - to learn how to bake. There were times when I was still in elementary (or maybe high school?), I would stay up late at night just to watch Heny Sison's TV show. Her cake decorating show sparked my interest in baking. If there are professionals I really look up to, they are chefs. Especially, pastry chefs.

As a high schooler, my favorite class was baking aside from drafting (I have even considered taking up architecture!) and algebra (I somehow hate it now which is a different story).

With no budget for an oven, materials/tools/utensils, and ingredients back then, there were just five instances when I tried to bake. Actually, two of those tries were no-bake.

My first two tries were during our baking class. With my group mates, we made a marble cake and peanut kisses cookies. The marble cake was okay but the icing/frosting was a failure. The cookies were a little toasted but still edible. However, we end up eating the kisses separately instead of it melting on top of the cookie.

At home, Mom usually buys me a box of no-bake brownies. It's just something you have to mix and chill. I used to use the ice trays so I don't have to cut them in cubes when they are set.

I also tried making a no-bake cheesecake when I was in college but Dad and I ended up just eating the crust and pour over it the cheesecake. Unfortunately, it didn't set because I bought the wrong all purpose cream.

The last try was when I baked a birthday cake using a microwave oven with two of my friends since college. The icing wasn't perfect but I was able to try writing the 'happy birthday' greetings on it.

I can't help but smile while reminiscing and writing this. I may not have the talent but I'm building up the passion. Learning to bake is still in my to-do list. Hopefully, soon.