Saturday, August 13, 2005

SHF #11: Coffee

eclairs, originally uploaded by emily loke.

When I first learnt to appreciate coffee’s potent ability to prolong my waking state, I was extremely abusive of it: chasing three espresso shots with three tequila shots was my way of kicking off a night of clubbing. I can’t imagine where the inspiration for that combination came from, or how I could ever think that was a smart thing to do, but I was thankfully young enough then for me to now write it off as one of youth’s many follies.

The next stage in the relationship was less abusive. As my passion for clubbing mellowed out, so did my lifestyle and my drink of choice. Since espresso was all of a sudden too overwhelming for me, it was no wonder that when I discovered ice-blended maraschino-cherry-infused mochas it was love at first sip –they were the perfect drink to nurse while one was deep in conversation about boys. Though the buzz that the hint of coffee generated was nothing compared to the fluttering of teenage hearts, everything about the drink (from its pinkish hue to its innocent sweetness) made it the closest consumable thing to love for me. Even now, I can’t think of a more perfect beverage to be in love over.

Today, for coffee and I, our relationship is all about acceptance. I haven’t progressed past the puppy love stage of my coffee drinking, but my stunted growth in the relationship department doesn’t bother me: I’ll proudly admit to not wanting coffee without chocolate, sugar and cream. Life is just too short to not give yourself what you want.

A Note: Before I forget, thanks so much to this month's host, Ronald, for being so gracious about accepting my tardy entry.

Black Forest Éclairs
(but only because the recipe for Black Forest Ice Blended Mochas is copyrighted.)

Choux Pastry

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbs sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs


2 cups whipping cream
¼ cup maraschino cherry syrup
1 tbs instant coffee powder
½ cup icing sugar

1. In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil on medium heat. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Toss in the flour, cocoa powder, salt and sugar, and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon till mixture leaves sides of pan. Remove from heat and cool till just warm to the touch, about 10 mins.
3. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, till mixture becomes a smooth but slightly sticky paste, then transfer to piping bag with a 1 inch nozzle.
4. Pipe éclairs about 4-6 inches long, about 3 inches apart, and bake for 35 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.
6. Slice off top of éclairs and hollow them out.
7. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the coffee crystals in the maraschino cherry syrup and then add the whipping cream.
8. Beat on high till mixture becomes whipped cream and then transfer to a piping bag with a star nozzle.
9. Pipe cream into the bottoms of the éclairs, and then cover with the tops.
10. Garnish with icing sugar or melted dark chocolate, if desired.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Catching Up 2005

My prolonged absence from this site was the result of a brief period of hyperactivity in my life, the beginning of this period marked by my mother’s arrival and the end of it by her departure. Life sometimes takes over and leaves you wondering at the end of each day where the time went- the past three weeks have been that way for me. Though I know I shouldn’t have to justify the lack of recent entries, I feel I owe it to you all to fill in some of the blanks.

Thus begins my short series called Catching Up 2005, an allocated cache of blogs that were meant to be up already. Some were half-written and never completed, some began with pictures but never progressed past that stage, some are still shimmering memories that have to be caught and tamed into text.

Hopefully, they'll soon materialize into the proper posts that they were always meant to be.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Let Them Eat Cake (I'll Have Something Else)

catching up, originally uploaded by emily loke.

It wasn’t an easy task growing up as the kid who couldn’t eat eggs. For the most part, I was left unquestioned about my allergy and managed to live a very normal egg free life, but there was always that one day of the year where my hypersensitivity would antagonize me to no end – my birthday.

When I was little, kids at my school would always have their maids show up at recess time with a huge cake for the teachers and students in their class. These cakes were always boxed in huge, crisp bakery boxes which were tied with a multitude of colourful ribbons and would be proudly displayed on a table in the canteen while a chorus of hungry voices sang for their supper. I always foolishly went to these canteen celebrations, nursing some silly hope that the box would be opened and a birthday jello would be revealed. Or a birthday mound of candies. Or heck, a birthday pizza even – something, anything non eggy that I could eat. Needless to say I was always sorely disappointed.

The really stinger was that the same thing would happen on my birthday, because I would always stubbornly insist on having a cake despite my allergy. Not having a birthday cake at a birthday party? The idea was too ludicrous to entertain. Plus, what sort of horrible whispers would circulate on the morning of the next school day if there was no cake? Children are evil, evil people. There had to be cake.

Much to my mother’s credit, she never took an I-told-you-so attitude towards my initial instance on having (and later inability to eat) birthday cake. Each year, she’d spend the night before the party baking and icing some elaborate and theme-coordinated spectacle-on-a-plate. She’d even let me pick the flavour (always chocolate), fully knowing I would never be able to eat it, and would always make sure there was a birthday-something-else for me to eat while everyone was having cake.

Her tradition of birthday-something-elses continues to this day, long after my birthday parties stopped. I’ve had birthday fudge, birthday ice cream profiteroles (made with egg whites), birthday cheesecakes, birthday truffles…the list goes on. This year, I was pleasantly surprised with a birthday mango jelly that my mother made on the sneak (which is impressive, given that she, A. and I were at that point living in a one bedroom apartment together) just when I had thought she’d have forgotten. Silly me.

It’s taken me a long time to make peace with my egg allergy – like I said, it wasn’t easy being the kid who couldn’t eat cake – but having a mom who made an allergy sufferer feel special instead of excluded made all the difference. Lesson of the day: It doesn’t matter what your birthday cake really is, as long as it was made with love and has a mound of candles in it.

Happy Birthday to Me.

mango jelly, originally uploaded by emily loke.