Nice Cream..?

I've been craving ice cream lately... And when I crave something, I mean intense, i-need-this-now-or-i-feel-like-my-life-will-be-over kind of cravings. Sure, I can't get everything I want when I want it all the time, and a lot of the time I just ~ride it out~ or try to sleep it off and the craving will subside. But it's not a foolproof method.

I still wake up imagining the taste of said craving in my mouth, the smell, the flavours dancing in my mouth... It's painful, sometimes. The other day, I went downstairs to the minimart just to buy a tub of ice cream because I was craving it that badly. It was a tub of red velvet ben and jerry's, which by the way, is better in Singapore than in the US?? I don't know why but I remember excitedly buying a tub in San Francisco before they brought red velvet to Singapore and I was so underwhelmed by it. In fact, I distinctly remember it tasting like raspberries, whereas the one here actually tastes of red velvet. It's even got chunks of red velvet cake inside!

Unfortunately, I can't eat ice cream everyday (well, I could, but) - it isn't advisable to; everything in moderation right? So with that, I thought of this alternative that I've been seeing around on the internet quite a bit - nice cream!

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Touted as a "vegan", healthier version of ice cream, nice cream is basically frozen bananas that has been blended or put through the food processor until it reaches a creamy consistency. It's quick, simple, and actually healthy!

As you can (probably) see, I didn't blend my nice cream very fully and this has resulted in me having some frozen banana chunks in it, but I think I like it that way c: To top it off, I also blended in some frozen raspberries and strawberries to turn it into a berry nice cream! It's berry nice, trust me.

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I suppose things as simple as this don't really require a recipe, as a lot of it is about trusting your instincts and adding more or less of stuff as you wish. But here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Do remember to freeze your bananas the night before! Peel and cut them up into little chunks before blending them. This will also save you the trouble of cutting off frozen banana peel the next day (I'm speaking from experience here). And as always, the riper, the better.
  2. About one medium/large frozen banana will do for one serving, or two small bananas.
  3. When it comes to mix-ins, the world is your blender. If that makes sense. Just add whatever, really. Cinnamon, oreos, BERRIES, watermelon, vanilla extract... Sugar if you would like added sweetness, but bananas are already sweet on their own.
  4. If necessary, add a splash of milk to keep the blending process going. If you find it getting too thin and you would like to thicken it up, blend in some ice cubes as well. c:

Enjoy x

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Banana Buttermilk Pancakes

Life is full of hits and misses and sometimes, you have to take a shot in the dark.

And you never really know how those turn out. It's a lot of risk-taking and finger-crossing and internal prayer-saying - and if you're lucky, you get a hit. Hopefully in your life you have more hits than misses, but if anything, I'd hope the hits are always worth the misses.

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I had a hit today!!

Oh, happy day. I had initially planned to go for a run at 730 and then come home, make some pancakes and do some work. But how often do plans turn out the way you want them to, anyway. I woke up at 10 and went out for coffee with my mommy instead, at Dutch Colony - a favourite haunt of ours. I love our morning coffee runs, and a jolt of caffeine is one of my favourite ways to kickstart the day. Gets my mind going, brain cells working. A buzz of energy. Also, time spent with mommy is always time well-spent. Good mornings, indeed.

By the time I got back, it was time for brunch... Lunch... Whatever. I'm sitting at the dining table typing this out as my parents are eating their lunch (traditional "popiah") and eating... Pancakes. Pancakes all day, everyday, no?

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Gonna blog the recipe down, so I know where to find it in the future. I hope it hits you as well as it did me. The original recipe calls for low-fat milk, but I substituted this for buttermilk so that I would have fluffier pancakes, pancakes with a little more rise. Also, a shoutout to my friend who bought me a lovely bottle of maple syrup from Canada - thanks to him, I've got the real deal. (It's amazing, by the way!)

Banana Buttermilk Pancakes

recipe adapted from here

Ingredients:

  • 95g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 small banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp buttermilk
  • a dash of vanilla extract
  • 20g melted butter

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder.
  2. Mash the banana in a small bowl. In a measuring cup, measure out your buttermilk, pour in the egg, vanilla extract and banana. Whisk it all together.
  3. Add the buttermilk mixture and the melted butter to the dry ingredients, fold in until just combined. The batter will be thick, lumpy and slightly wet. It's ok.
  4. Heat your griddle over a low-medium heat, and melt a pad of butter over it. Ladle your pancake batter onto the griddle, and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Depending on the size of your griddle, you can cook more than one at a time. Efficiency!
  5. Top with sliced bananas, maple syrup, whatever else your heart desires. I added some granola for a bit of crunch.

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P.S. I got a Townske account, and I'm currently working on a few guides for Singapore - most of which have to do with food and cafes, do check it out sometime! You can check it out here:

http://townske.com/trufflebeth

P.P.S I just watched Taylor Swift's Bad Blood music video, and I am in LOVE.

✿ Pear Frangipane Tart ✿

Today, I quit my job.

I had been working there sine January this year, after IB results came out, in a bid to gain some experience of what it's like working in f&b and to do something productive with my time. It was at one of my favourite cafes, doing the usual service stuff - taking orders, serving coffee, and lots (and lots) of washing.

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I guess it was a decision based on various situations and things that have been bugging me for a while. I mean, this job had its fun moments, and I have met a lot of really great people along the way. People that were fun to work with, who looked out for each other and really showed me what it meant to work in a team. It also showed me how much work goes into the day-to-day running of a cafe and especially some of the workings on the back end. Things aren't always as perfect as they seem to be, but I guess that's usually the case for anywhere and anything. I think I was talking to someone once, or I read this from somewhere - passion is actually derived from the word pasi, a latin word that means "suffering", or "enduring". I guess passion and hard work should really go hand in hand, and if you truly have a passion for something, you won't mind going through shit for it. For me, I guess I drew a line as to how much shit I was willing to take. Quitting won't always be a viable option, especially when I enter the workforce upon graduating University, but I shall exercise this freedom while I can.

After talking to a number of baristas and cafe owners for The Local Barista (a website thing I'm working on), I realised how important passion is, but also priorities. I have so much respect for all these people whom I've talked to, because the amount of dedication they have and the amount of effort & hard work put in is simply astounding. To me, they really embody what it means to truly have a passion for something as they didn't just sit on their butts and wait for success to come to them, or for other people to get it for them - they worked to get to where they are today, and they keep going. Honestly, it's awfully inspiring.

With the (somewhat) extra time I have now (or one less commitment), I am going to make the best of all the time I have left! One of my May resolutions was to bake and blog more, so here I am trying to keep to it. The one thing I fear, however, is baking merely for the sake of baking. I remain thankful for the random bursts of inspiration once in a while, or for the baking feels that hit me ever so often, little things that keep me going.

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Last night, I felt like baking a tart. I've seen frangipane things going around before, but I was always somewhat confused because frangipane doesn't involve frangipanis (the flower), but it is actually an almond cream! I decided to top it with pears because well, I like the sound of a pear frangipane tart and the other option that I thought of was berries, but I had none at home.

Ah, pears. An all-time favourite fruit of mine.

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Tart-making seems so simple, but it feels like there are so many steps that could go wrong along the way. I was so afraid that my pie crust would rise awkwardly as I didn't have the beans to hold them down. I also had to hand-press the pie crust in as I had made the dough the night before, and when I wanted to roll it out the next morning it was solid and taking way too long to thaw. So, I broke little chunks off with my hands and just pressed them in, bit by bit. I was also afraid of the frangipane tasting a bit weird, as I put the cream in the fridge to set a little after making it but every time I checked on it, there seemed to be a little bit of unmixed egg yolk. I would then mix it in and it would all look fine, until I checked on it the next time! Thankfully it baked up alright and more importantly, tasted good!

I'm in a bit of a tart-making mood lately so do hit me up if you're willing to be a tester of tarts :-)

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Pear Frangipane Tart

For the crust, recipe adapted from here

Ingredients:

  • 190g all-purpose flour
  • 60g almond flour/ground almonds
  • 130g butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg yolk

(note: on hindsight i feel like i should have added some sugar (because i substituted the icing sugar in this recipe for almond flour), so do feel free to add that in.)

Steps:

  1. Mix the flour and almonds together.
  2. Using your hands (or a pastry cutter, but I used my hands and it was a lot of fun and turned out great), cut the cubed butter into the flour/almond mixture until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. It should be soft and somewhat crumbly.
  3. Add in the egg yolk and somewhat knead it into the dough, until completely mixed in.
  4. Knead the dough a few more times, making sure to absorb up any unmixed bits of flour or almonds along the way. Wrap it in clingfilm and keep in the fridge for at least two hours before baking. I kept mine overnight.
  5. The next morning, roll it out if you can and line your nine-inch tart pan. OR, you can manually press it in. Poke holes in it with a fork (this process is called docking, apparently) to let the steam out as the crust bakes - bake it for about 20 minutes.

For the pears, recipe from here

Ingredients:

  • 2o0g pears, any kind, sliced
  • 4 cups (950ml) of water
  • 225g sugar (i used 180g white, 50g brown)
  • juice of 1 lemon

Steps:

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, sugar and lemon to the boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the pears and let it simmer on medium heat until pears are tender, stirring and turning occasionally. Let the pears cool in the syrup.

For the frangipane, recipe from here

Ingredients:

  • 90g softened butter
  • 60g white sugar
  • 75 ground almonds, blanched or unblanched
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • a dash of vanilla extract

Steps:

  1. Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Add in the ground almonds, followed by the cornstarch, egg + egg white, and lastly, vanilla extract. Mixture may look curdled, but it's really just the almonds. Chill in the fridge and stir occasionally (in case of that bit of egg).

To assemble:

Take your pre-baked pie crust out of the oven, and let it cool for a while. About 5 minutes before baking, take your frangipane out of the fridge while you take the pears out of the syrup. Spread the frangipane in an even layer atop the crust, and arrange the pears above that however you like the look of it. Bake for approximately 55 minutes, and let cool.

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CROISSANTS

Happy Mothers' Day to all the moms out there!!

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This Mothers' Day, I decided to bake croissants for my dear mommy who just flew back from the USA this morning! She's always flying there for business trips, which kind of sucks because I miss her quite a bit when she's gone, but I know that she does this so that she can provide for us. I'm just really thankful for her. I'm also very lucky in the sense that she's always been very supportive of my sisters and I, and she trusts us a lot and gives us a lot of freedom. She lets us grow and learn from our own mistakes, but will step in when things get too much for us to handle. She can also tell when something's wrong without us having to say anything, and she will always be there for us no matter how busy she is. Mother truly knows best; mother truly is the best. She also has this amazing habit of reading people and being able to tell the good eggs from the rotten ones. Which has led to her giving me tons of great (and 90% spot on) advice, about people and all the other little things in life. Ok I could go on and on about my mom but I'll stop before this post gets insanely long.

Okay so, croissants.

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Here as some lesser-known facts about croissant-making:

  1. You are going to use a hell lot of cling film.
  2. You will need to find something to do for four one-hour blocks, broken up by each turn of the dough.
  3.  One whole day spent on the dough itself, and another morning for the actual croissant-making. You will stop and reflect on what you are doing with your life and time.
  4. Exercise will take place in the form of constantly running to your fridge and back, and the constant dough-rolling.
  5. Flour and butter will go EVERYWHERE.

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The recipe I used is from topwithcinnamon, which I used primarily because of her amazingly helpful gifs! Her gif-making skills are terrific, and they were a good guide as to what to do at each step. They really made this seemingly-impossible task a lot more doable. Instead of making chocolate croissants, I decided to make Nutella ones as my mom is a fan of the chocolate hazelnut spread. I also halved the total recipe as I was afraid that it might turn out badly, and I wasn't very keen on wasting an entire bag of flour on a failed recipe.

BUT! In my application to Yale-NUS, I remember a question that went along the lines of "What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?", and I wrote that I would make croissants, or something to that effect. Well, I finally did and I wouldn't say that these are fantastic, but they are not a failure!

Bless. I'm definitely going to make these again, some time in the near future (before I start school!) and when I do I'll probably make a huge batch of dough to freeze and use when the croissantspiration strikes! You see, they weren't kidding when they said that croissants are a labour of love and in a few months, I'll have the love but not much time to labour...

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I'm not going to post the recipe here as I normally do due to the very minimal changes I made to it. In fact, the main difference between this and Izy's croissants is that instead of the 1 tbsp of chocolate chips, I used 1 tsp of Nutella instead. Anyway, I'm sure the gifs accompanying the recipe will be a lot more comprehensive than anything I could write, so here's the link to the recipe:

For the dough + basic croissants For the chocolate croissants

Artistry x SAM

What was meant to be a regular brunch turned into a rather artsy-fartsy day. We met at Artistry, one of our favourite cafes where I waited for about half an hour for his arrival (but it's ok because he brought a portable charger which had juice for me hehe). Had a nice chat with Sue and Gerard while waiting, though! The Artistry staff are really lovely people, and this is just one of the many reasons why I love this cafe so much.

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They had only just started doing this piece of art the day before I came, but it looks great already - I can't wait to see the finished product!

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And of course, I had their Peanut Butter & Jelly french toast! I had been craving it for ages, and it was an amazing feeling to be able to satisfy my cravings! This is definitely one of the best french toasts in Singapore, no doubt about that. The layer of peanut butter and jelly in the middle is simply divine, yet the toast itself retains its moist, eggy texture. The berry compote is a great accompaniment, as is the vanilla ice cream and the speculoos crumble. I just wish that ice cream didn't melt at such a rapid pace in our hot and humid country.

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Darryl had the baked eggs which were oh-so-spicy but also oh-so-creamy-and-good. I should have let it cool a bit before taking a bite though, for I could practically feel smoke coming out of my mouth because it was so hot.

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Raspberry-and-mint-infused water!!

Had a great chat over food and coffee, and we went to buy some dance stuff for Darryl before heading to the Singapore Art Museum (SAM)!

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We also visited the new exhibition at the Queen's Street branch of SAM, Imaginarium! It was mostly about children and their imagination, and it really made me miss my childhood quite a bit. Although I was never quite the imaginative kind, it was nice to look at these artworks and draw bits of inspiration from them.

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One thing about my childhood though - I never did learn how to ride a bike properly. Like, the two-wheeled ones. Ooooooop. I do wish I didn't have to rush off for an interview that day, but no matter! Darryl also told me about a few more art exhibitions around Singapore so I might take a day to go and visit all of them.

Soon, soon.