vendredi, janvier 30, 2009

Harman Kardon : Complete Home Entertainment System

The Bridge II

Hub is a buyer (like me), but he doesn't usually spend the household income (unlike me). I know that certain folks in our circle actually have sympathy for the man - for having a wife who's both bonkers and a spendthrift.

But I have to tell you that that's not totally true. I enjoy spending little bits of money regularly; He often spends a huge sum in a go (which would come to the same thing - almost). And I like to think that I'm careful (enough) with his hard-earned pennies, for I'm Asian after all. Even when I was a poor student I've never blown my budget. And would still have enough leftover to save.

All this to say that the dormant volcano woke up last night and ordered himself us a Harmon Kardon complete Home Entertainment System. You could feel the ground shake.

But to do him justice, he did hesitate quite a bit before commiting himself as times are bad as we all know - but he deserved it for working so very hard. And he does vegetate quite a bit in front of the TV when he's at home. Not really the DIY sort, you know.

Have never heard of H/K before, but apparently the company has won loads of prizes (e.g. EISA, ADEX...) in recent times and those machines cost a small fortune in this age where stuff like that usually cost lesser and lesser.

I'm the TV + DVD Player sort. PAL, progressive scan (dunno what it means though)...Anything more than that and it would be Greek to me. And this H/K theatre system is made up of the following :

  1. AVR 355 Amplifier : featuring Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD, and Faroudja DCDi Cinema video processing up to 1080p. Connectivity is via a series of optional accessories including that of an A-BUS connector. This enables users to connect to a wall-mountable controller, via ordinary Ethernet cable, which will power a pair of speakers. Allows for multi-room set-up.

  2. DMC (Digital Media Center) 1000 : The 250GB hard drive media server offers a host of advanced media-storage and playback capabilities, including independent, simultaneous playback of up to four audio streams in four separate zones, and HDMI output with video upscaling to 1080p. Content stored on the hard drive can also be copied to a memory card, a USB storage device or a CD-R/RW disc.

  3. The Bridge II : The Bridge II connects to the DMC 1000. Only needs one cable to connect the source, no power, and it will charge your iPod — all versions, excepting the shuffle. Distributes tunes as a multi-room source.

  4. HKTS 11 Surround Speakers : Review here.
Doesn't all that sound like Greek to you? Am writing that down so as to better digest it.

We do not have an iPod so may have to buy one. Maybe also a new LCD/Plasma. Why not a PS3 while we're at it. And brains to go with the whole thing. You'll need a degree in this thing to know how to use it. I'm a simple girl, would be perfectly happy just watching DVDs on the old Samsung. And going to the cinema for the sound (and caramel popcorn).

dimanche, janvier 25, 2009

Gongxi Facai - Year of the Ox

Pineapple Tarts from Cambridge Deli

R spent a month in Singapore and Malaysia over Christmas and the New Year. Knowing that she would need space in her luggage for all the shopping she wouldn't be able to not do, I refrained from asking her to bring back anything for me.

But she brought back some pineapple tarts for me nonetheless and wished me a Happy New Year with them. Isn't she so sweet?

Ate all of them myself. Didn't share even one with anybody. Oui, c'est comme ça.

Happy Year of the Ox everybody, Gongxi Facai Wanshi Ruyi!

jeudi, janvier 22, 2009

Puran Poli, Sprouted Bean Curry and Batata Wada

Lunch from cooking class at Sya's

I've had a busy week thus far. Yesterday R did a playdate in her mountain retreat. I sang on Sing Star, stuffed my face with chips and pop corn, not to forget Thosai and Vegetable Curry made by her helper. There was also Apple Strudel (excellent) and Black Forest Cake made by another helper, in other words, I was stuffed. Came home in the evening and ate rice porridge with marmite.

Today for lunch we had Japanese (buffet - meaning that I would keep serving myself) with the Grade 2 and Kindergarten/Transition mothers. I got to carry LP's cute little baby boy for quite a while (sigh...) but zut, when will I ever get to go on my diet?

The best part : Monday I invited myself and P to Sya's flat for a cooking class. India is gigantic, the road ahead when it comes to Indian cooking is therefore a long one. Since the Indian community is growing here in Modena, I would be foolish not to take up the opportunity to become apprentice to a few masters. OK, plus eat at the same time, but you know, one shouldn't waste food.

Ze Spread (e.g. Ghee, Puran Poli, Gulab Jamun, Sprouted Bean Curry, Flavoured Rice, Batata Wada)

Sya made Puran Poli, a sweet dish from Maharashtra usually eaten on festive occasions like the Gudi Padwa. The Poli looks like a roti but is different in that its preparation begins with the stuffing, in this case boiled Chana Dal and Jaggery (unrefined cane sugar of which Maharashtra is the largest producer and consumer in India - also known as Gula Melaka in Malay). We ate it with Ghee...!

Batata Wada

She also demonstrated the making of Batata Wada which is a battered spicy potato patty deep fried and served as a snack (not unlike the Begedil from where I come from). I love this and ate quite a number of it. Basically you boil a few potatoes and mash them, adding spices like ginger, garlic, fresh chilli, onions, turmeric, salt, garam masala, coriander leaves and curry leaves to be mixed together and then hand-formed into round patties. Then you make a batter with gram flour, chilli, turmeric, salt, pinch of rice flour (for crispiness), hot oil and water (room temperature). Coat the potato patties in the batter and deep fry in hot oil. Yummy...

Banana Raita

She also made Chutneys and Raitas (e.g. with banana, ginger, garlic, chilli, coconut, salt, sugar, coriander leaves, water, yoghurt...), chapatis, flavoured rice (oil, coriander, cumin, curry leaves, peas...), Gulab Jamun and what was quite impressive was the fact that she actually has a special knife that she uses to grate her own coconut. Wow.

Sya grating fresh coconut

Vegetarians out there may be interested in this Sprouted Bean Curry. You sprout your beans by soaking them overnight in water, draining away the water and leaving the beans in a cheesecloth till they sprout. To cook the curry, you grind coconut, chilli, coriander leaves, cumin seeds and garam masala into a paste. Brown ginger-garlic paste, onions, curry leaves, add in the other paste, mustard seeds, asafetida, turmeric, mixed spices, chilli till they turn fragrant, add the sprouts, water, kokum peel (for sourness, the fruit is related to the mangosteen) and simmer the curry till it's ready.

Cooking Sprouted Bean Curry

Sya set out our lunch on big stainless steel plates (makes me want to buy a few of those for myself) with a bit of everything on it. I didn't do justice to her chutney and raita since I don't eat yoghurt but P loved them (right, P?) But I ate loads of everything else and that the bathroom scale can testify.

Sya's Colourful Spice Pot

I had a great time with the chirpy gals (shouldn't say it too loudly lest it should confirm the Hub in his idea that I enjoy myself too much while he's slaving away in the office) and have made another date with them next week. This time, I am (yes me) going to demonstrate how to bake a cake. That ought to make the Hub smirk. He thinks that I'm the worst baker on earth.

PS : Voici ze Appe pan that Sya kindly got me from India. Cool, isn't it?

Potato and Cauliflower Masala

Potato and Cauliflower Masala

I'm on a cauliflower trip lately. As if I do not already fart alot. Anyway I was told that I'm so fat probably because I do not digest my food very well. I should maybe see some specialist on the subject. On the other hand, Hub's very punctual on the pot (armed with the newspaper and/or iphone) and he's still fat.

Made a Potato and Cauliflower Masala a few days ago. Do watch out not to boil the cauliflower for more than 15 minutes. It is best eaten slightly crunchy. Recipe's quite similar to the Chicken Tikka Masala, only there's no need of course to marinate the vegetables beforehand.

samedi, janvier 17, 2009

New Computer

It was one of those days when Hub walked out of the house without his wallet and decided to buy us a new computer. This HP I'm currently writing the message on is now more than 7 years old. It has its cranky moments and may soon expire - together with all the children's photos that I've never had printed.

He wanted to buy another Apple but I'm somehow not for it. Like your portfolio, it's better to diversify, so since we already have an iMac, we should stick to Microsoft and have both systems under the same roof - just in case.

So we got another HP Pavilion. Christmas bundle a6664it with a 19" flat screen monitor. Which now runs on Vista - and I was told it sucks. But what choice has the layman on these matters?

And boy have I got to dig really hard for the cash to pay for it. He didn't have his cards, I have already reached the limit on mine this week. Luckily I managed to withdraw some cash and ahem take out my little cachette that I was keeping, you know, for other things.

Just to let you know that once we've changed the computers, we may never find our way back to our internet connection (couldn't remember how we set it up in the first place) again - or at least not immediately. One good reason why I've been putting this off for a few months now.

vendredi, janvier 16, 2009

The Art of the Toilet

Another reason why I find Europe wanting nowadays is that it's usually difficult to find free toilets wherever you are. And you know bladder control is a delicate matter with age. When we were last in Venice, I had to walk a long long way with MIL following WC signs and when we finally found it, it cost a hefty 1 euro per entry.

Back where I come from, you can find them almost everywhere you turn, they are usually free, clean and sometimes even designer.

And I really do have a thing for toilets, I often dream about them, a few times I've even "conducted" banquets in them. I regret very much of course not ever having designed and renovated my own bathrooms.

Found an article the other day about the Japanese and their toilets. Looks like I'm not alone in my love for them.

mercredi, janvier 14, 2009

Shitting Pigeons

2 of the PRs in my arcade

I hate hate hate these birds. They are just impossible to get rid of. And it's amazing how all they do is eat, shit and coo. When you see them in Pixar cartoons, they looked so cute. In reality, they suck.

When my babies were born, MIL said she didn't fancy them because they were just digestive tubes, one way in and the other way out. But seriously none of them ever shitted as much as these pigeons. They've shitted on our cars, on our outdoor tables/chairs/BBQ, on the ground, on my plants, you name it they've shitted on it. I think they've shitted on me too.

All in a week's shit (just from those 2)

And at least my Babies' shit is never corrosive. Nor impossible to remove.

The Geometra of the house said that when they were renovating it a decade ago, they had to kill more than 400 pigeons. Pity the pigeoncide hadn't been as thorough as I would have liked it to be.

I didn't want to get a rifle (not even an air one) to kill them as I worry about leaving such dangerous things around for the kids to get their hands on. Plus I would freak out if I see carcasses. I hate the birds dead as much as I hate having them alive. And I've lost my appetite for roast pigeon ever since I've moved to Italy.

If you have good (non-dangerous nor costly) methods in getting rid of them, I'm interested.

dimanche, janvier 11, 2009

Cauliflower in Whole Spices

Cauliflower in Whole Spices

The slave driver woke me up with a slap on the shoulder (after just 7 hours of beauty sleep).

"Hey! Don't you think you ought to start cooking the curry?"


"I am thinking of going sledding with the kids after lunch, so we'd better not eat late."

"What the ·$%&*+..."

So I had to get out of bed, put on my bathrobe, roll up the sleeves and go slave in the kitchen. Making Indonesian Beef Rendang today so that would take hours. Though managed to make the process shorter by using the Rendang paste that One Wheel sent me. Also made a Cauliflower in Whole Spices which on the contrary is easy and fast to prepare.

Cauliflower in Whole Spices :

1 Head of Cauliflower (cut into big pieces)
Fresh green chilli
Onion Seeds
Mustard Seeds
Cumin seeds
Cinnamon bark (tiny piece bashed)
Cardamom seeds
Anis seeds
Fenugeek seeds
Ground Coriander
Ground Turmeric
Fresh tomato
A little water
Coriander leaves (optional)

Heat up water in a casserole and when it's boiling, add in 2 tsp of salt and cook the cauliflower in it for maximum 15 minutes. It should be cooked but still crunchy. Drain and set aside the vegetable.

In a wok, heat up some oil and brown the onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and whole spices. When they sizzle and are fragrant, add in the cooked cauliflower, coat it well with the spices and add in the diced tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add in a little water, cover for a minute, toss in the coriander leaves and serve hot.

Butter Basmati Rice, Cauliflower, Pappadum, Beef Rendang

vendredi, janvier 09, 2009

Tasks for 2009

This one's for Muriel's Hub P

If resolving to visit a number of stores both in person and online within the 1st week of the Sale counted, I've fulfilled at least one resolution in the New Year. Having busted my household budget for 2 months within the same week too, you may eventually count participating in reviving economy through consumption as the 2nd. From now on maybe dieting could be helped along if I should decide to serve us soups everyday so as to cut costs. I'm closing on the 3rd.

But the truth as we all know is that I've failed to stick to my resolution to spend less - even before the year started. And spend less I have to since times are bad.

Quite seriously, I suck at sticking to my resolutions. For the past 6 years I've set losing weight as a goal and never lost it for more than a few weeks. Last year I promised myself that I would finally attack this weight problem and lose those extra 10 Kgs. This year, I have 15 to lose.

I also resolved every year to be a nice wife and mother. Never resort to aggression or a raised voice to solve issues, only use reason and calm. Be a positive person, to only give praise and never criticise. Well, cows will fly.

I wanted to teach my children Chinese, help the Babies become geniuses. Then I decided that they should just enjoy their childhood while they can, play and watch TV.

I wanted to master Italian, sit for an exam. I've since stopped my lessons and now content myself with being able to order 200g of ham without any hesitation.

I resolved to become a sex goddess. But it's kind of difficult being one when you can hardly squeeze into your old kinky underwear and when you managed to, you look like Miss Muppet only less cute.

In 2009, I resolve therefore to not make any resolutions. Just set myself a few tasks and hope to finish them :
  1. I will spend less. To start with, I will postpone my diamond upgrade. We should work on saving for a new flat or house;

  2. I will find a good therapist for Eldest Son and put him on the Instrumental Enrichment Programme here in Modena (even if it means nulling task Nº 1);

  3. I will try to go to the gym at least once a week while I may not eat less;

  4. I will work on my flute (Hi Giorgio!) and piano;

  5. Parlerò più italiano.

And I will start with the above and see how things go before creating new ones.

mercredi, janvier 07, 2009

Vietnamese Beef and Vermicelli Salad

Vietnamese Beef and Vermicelli Salad

I have been pretty busy though G-d knows not with doing the housework that I need to do. There are piles of washed, dried and folded clothes lying around waiting to be returned to their drawers and more piles of dirty ones waiting to be washed. But at my age I should be allowed to procrastinate especially when I have a new small obsession.

The other day, while reading through a few blogs, I came across a remark that the Jews do not cook their meat in milk. I know (one of my oldest friends being Jewish) that they do not eat pork, prawns, fish without scales...but why can't they mix meat and milk? That set me on a few hours of research on the subject - few hours because one answer led to another question (e.g. why were Jews moneylenders?) and so on and so like the Hub said, "don't you have anything better to do with your time?" Apparently not.

I won't bore you with the details, but the reason I thought was quite sweet : one shouldn't cook a kid in its mother's milk. So they can't mix milk and meat (e.g. beef, lamb) and if they eat meat and cheese, they can only do so at a few hours' interval (which, if you ask me, like asking your non-Jewish neighbour to manipulate your switches during the Sabbath, is quite hypocritical).

Anyway that's religion for you. My mom's religion has a thing about cows, so she couldn't eat it. And on the 1st and 15th day of the Lunar month, she goes vegetarian. My religion? Twice a year I go crazy. Schlussverkauf/Saldi/Sale/Soldes/Rebajas, I speak in tongues on those days. Like nowadays.

Having spent too much time on such things, I had to churn out dinner rather quickly. The breadwinner does expect bread to be on the table on time. Beef was on the mind so beef turned up where the bread should be : Spicy Vietnamese Beef and Vermicelli Salad.

Basically grilled Beef steak sliced and marinated in a paste (lemongrass, galangal, shallots, garlic, brown sugar, rice wine, lime juice and zest, fish sauce, chilli...).

(mung bean or rice) quickly cooked, drained, rinsed with cold water, topped with raw greens (e.g. bean sprouts, julienned carrots, salad leaves, cucumber, tomatoes, shallots, fresh mint, coriander leaves...)

and dressed in the sauce that I usually make for my Imperial Nems.

Cold Wave

Snow-covered trees in the garden

If I could predict the winning numbers for the lottery like I could the weather, I would have been very rich now. Predicted a few months back that we would have a cold winter and it seems thus far that I had it right. Has not stopped snowing since the beginning of the week. Was waiting for the snow on the trampoline to melt so that we could try finding Baby Girl's lost tooth, but of course now there is more snow than ever on it.

Snow-covered trampoline

Was also waiting for school to start so that I could go check out the Sale. But of course it has to snow so that I couldn't go anywhere. You keep seeing images of overturned cars on the side of the road on the 8 o'clock news plus some 25-year old guy in France drowned after his car skidded and fell into the river. So I'm driving slowly and trying not to make sudden movements. After my near-accident last month on the 1st day it snowed, I must say that I am pretty nervous on the road nowadays.

Still, I managed to check out the Armani factory outlet near the house before the snow started getting really bad. Prices are still high, but then you'll be buying Armani after all. Found one lone woollen coat in my size (or my size 12 months ago). Took it as a sign and bought it. Even though I could barely squeeze into it. It is beautifully cut, though I've promised myself not to buy another black winter coat, I just couldn't resist it. I try normally to dress brightly in fuschia pinks and turquoise greens for psychological mood lift.

This morning's spoil

Bought a few pairs of big jeans for Eldest Son, not realising that he has managed to lose a few kgs since the last time I checked, so they are now a little too big for him. But it's OK, he'll grow into them. He started mentioning that those pants hung on him like they did on the Italian teenagers you see, you know the ones with porcupine hair and exposed briefs, from the poorer suburbs. That freaked me out, bought Armani jeans to fit like a glove, not hang and show buttocks, especially not Spiderman briefs.

Hub has 2 close friends from High School who married young. Both have daughters (one of them is Hub's God-Daughter) who sat for their Baccalauréat last year. Believe it or not, both obtained mention Très Bien! It's very rare and difficult to obtain this grade normally, so it's amazing to have both girls we know getting it. One has chosen to study medicine and the other law. So it doesn't help to know that unless some miracle should happen, we normally do not have mention Très Bien material on our hands et en plus he should expose his bum...

School may be closed tomorrow if it continues to snow. So much for my hoping to cover Sisley (have to get some kinky underwear for MIL), Max Mara, Geox and Zara. Therapy is at hand and yet inaccessible. What other cure for winter blues except more chocolate?

mardi, janvier 06, 2009

Trattoria Stefani, Italy

Stinco al forno

There is this trattoria near my house that we've meant to try out but never got a chance to till last week. SIL was treating and we didn't want to burn a hole in her pocket. :-)

Actually it was freezing cold that day (and everyday since - we're in a COLD wave since Christmas) and after my long wait at the Post Office we didn't feel like going anywhere that would require us to be in contact with the atmosphere for more than a minute. Lunch at Aldina would require quite a walk from the car whereas Trattoria Stefani's parking's at the doorstep.

It was a really simple place, brusque and minimum service, but bright and clean. They have a lunch menu at 13 euros that included 2 courses, water and a coffee. The normal menu has the usual Modenese stuff e.g. Gnocco fritto, tigelle, tortellini in brodo, pasta, risotto, lasagna, grilled and baked meats, bollito...I ordered the Risotto ai funghi followed by the Stinco al forno (baked pork shank). Both were excellent and not at all inferior to what Aldina would churn out. The risotto was al dente, generous in mushroom and not at all dry. The pork shank melted in the mouth though it was a little too salty for my taste. (Update : The Tagliolini in brodo we would try in later visits was very good)

Risotto ai funghi

This is an address to be kept. Simple, comfort Italian food. No pizzas though. For that, walk 50m to its right and you'll find Da Gianni, Colombaro's pretty good Pizzeria with a signed poster of Schumacher on its wall and the fat owner Gianni taking up the rest of the space. (Tel : 059553540, closed on Tuesdays)

Stefani Primo Trattoria
124, via S. Antonio
Colombaro (MO)
Tel: 059 553632
Closed on Saturdays

lundi, janvier 05, 2009

Compote Pomme-Banane (Banana-Apple Sauce)

Compote Pomme-Banane

I have not made this in years. In another life, I made a compote de fruit everyday for a few years. When the Babies were babies, that is.

Back then, I never buy a pot of baby food unless I was travelling. It's really easy making your own fruit sauce, allowing you to control what goes into it, which fruit(s) to introduce to the baby etc. And as I was to discover (I say that as I never eat compote myself) soon enough, compote is eaten not just by babies but people of all ages e.g. Hub loves it and I have seen childless grown-up men buy and eat it!

I've been buying organic fruit sauce for the kids from the supermarket for a few months now. Then I was looking at the over-ripe apples and bananas in my fruit basket the other day and it drew on me that instead of throwing them away, I could make a compote with them. Yes, I can be this slow, I fear.

Just peel the fruits (in this case 2 apples and 2 bananas) and cut them into pieces. Heat up a little bit of water (really just a bit as fruit naturally contains water) and when it's boiling, put in the fruit, lower the heat and cook for a few minutes till they turn soft. Add in a touch of ground cinnamon if you wish and then purée/mix everything. Voilà une Compote Pomme-Banane faite maison! Eat it at room temperature or chilled. If you prefer it to be more acidic, squeeze some lemon juice over it.

samedi, janvier 03, 2009

Christmas Parcel

I went to my friendly neighbourhood Post Office yesterday and queued up for 30 minutes just to send a letter. Hub couldn't understand 1) why it took so long 2) why I didn't have stamps at home 3) why I couldn't return another day to post it.

Maybe I enjoy standing for ages looking at Italians collect their monthly pension or at the sole person working behind the counter, always taking her time, always printing out pieces of paper from her old printer and stacking them everywhere...

I do not have stamps at home like I used to because I do not usually need to mail anything. I still have pieces of French stamps here and there in the house - so much for wanting to stock up on stamps and now I can't even use them. Besides, one has to pay according to weight, size and destination of courrier so one can't always know beforehand how much it's going to cost. Most of all I do not trust the 3rd World Italian Postal Service - so the least I can do is hand over my letter to the Post Office in person and see that the lady stick a stamp on it.

And whether I go there on this day or another wouldn't change anything, in my 17 months here, every trip to the Post Office has always been greeted with a long and slow queue. La dolce vita.

Anyway, what I was leading up to was the fact that just after I've paid for my stamp, the lady asked me if I was xxx living on xxx road. She then showed me a small parcel and asked me if I've received a slip for it. I replied negative, she shrugged, printed out another of her papers on the old printer, made me sign on it and then passed the parcel to me. Great, of course, but made me wonder if I would still get this parcel if I hadn't decided to go to the Post Office...

It was from my old friend One Wheel! Filled with things he knew I would enjoy. And he has been sending me a little parcel almost every year now that I think of it. This year, I think that it's a miracle that I even got it. Everywhere I've only known horror stories about parcels to Italy either being returned to sender, lost, confiscated or taxed to death. And the list of prohibited items to Italy is long and quite ridiculous. In fact, the only way to send anything to Italy is probably to send it to a postally less prohibitive country in the EU and then to transfer the parcel to Italy from there.

Well, YL and L, thanks a million for the Christmas cheer, will think of you when I use the pastes and listen to the music! Molto grazie...

jeudi, janvier 01, 2009

Saint Sylvestre

Sweets made by DC's Mom

Almost everyone in the family has indigestion after more than a week of continuous binging. So for St Sylvestre this year I've decided to keep the meal simple : Foie gras on toasts to start (that we ate with an excellent Loupiac), followed by Gambas al pil pil and a Roast Beef served with Hub's Marchand de Vin Sauce (shallots, red wine, porcini mushrooms...), fried potatoes and green beans. For those who want it there was Gongonzola Cheese after that and a Tiramisu to finish. Home-made, of course.

The Loupiac

Gambas al Pil Pil

Roast Beef Sauce Marchand de Vin


Just before midnight, we drove next door to DC and M's house in Montale to welcome 2009 together. They had family (from Puglia) and friends (old Beaux Arts schoolmates from Paris - one of them's an actress) visiting so it was quite festive. In fact they sent rockets etc shooting after midnight (and the extra second for the atomic whatever) which gave me quite a fright. When you come from a country where they told you that you could burn down your house or lose your fingers with those stuff you couldn't help but worry. We also had free fireworks displays as the neighbours competed with one another to set them off. There's an economic crisis coming on, but not in Montale.

They had quite a lovely sweet New Year spread of pandoro, homemade sweets/snacks and citrus fruits from the South where DC's family come from and of course free flow of champagne. We talked, we danced and then we went back home to sleep.

I wonder if I should start working on my NY resolutions and try for more realistic stuff then strike the lottery or lose weight. How many of you make resolutions and actually stick to them?

Nutella Swiss Roll

Nutella Swiss Roll (with a few bites taken)

When I was a teenager learning Home Economics, there were a few things that I would be making all the time after the lessons, including stuff like puff pastry, banana cake, scones, cheese straws, sponge cake, sago melaka, agar agar and Swiss Roll. When I woke up this morning on the 1st day of the new year, I had a sudden desire to make a Swiss Roll and since I do not like jam I filled it with Nutella.

Swiss Roll Base :

100g Sugar
4 Eggs
2 Tbsp fresh (or sweetened condensed) Milk
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
100g self-raising Flour

Beat sugar and eggs till thick and creamy over a bain-marie. This may take quite a few minutes as the egg mixture has to double even triple in volume. Sift the flour twice, divide into 3 portions and gently fold them into the mixture. Add the fresh or condensed milk and vanilla essence and mix well. Pour batter in a lined swiss roll tin (rectangular in shape) or the tray in your oven.

Bake for 10 minutes in a heated 190ºC oven on the lowest shelf.

Use a kitchen towel, baking paper or cling wrap to first roll the cake up tightly and keep it rolled up to cool. Then unroll it, spread the nutella on and roll it up again. The kids love it, of course. They'll eat anything with nutella in it. Mine cracked because I worked roughly, but it didn't bother me.