banana loaf made easy

April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

For all alternative baking, there ought to start from the basics. A quintessential staple on a kitchen counter top, sitting quietly in a wooden bowl and deepening in flavours as time passes daintily. The banana is a versatile fruit that can be easily consumed on the go or forgotten. When that happens, turn it into a delightful treat. Banana bread or loaf should be a breeze to make. Thus it is also easily made dairy/gluten free.


The banana skins should be browned or very soft to touch. When you mash them, they should smell sweet and slightly musky. The mushier the mash, the moister the cake, the tastier it will be. So always buy more bananas than you need, a loaf is always welcome in a home.

for a 9 inch cake tin

1 tsp vanilla extract
two very ripe bananas, mashed
45g Bob’s Mill buckwheat flour
100g Doves Farm gluten free plain white flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
80 ml vegetable oil
50g unsweetened applesauce
50g non-dairy milk
150g Lundberg brown rice syrup

Preheat the oven to 170C and grease a 9 inch cake tin.

In a small bowl, add the mash bananas and vanilla extract and set aside.

In another deep mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well mixed. In a separate bowl, whisk the vinegar, oil, applesauce, non-dairy milk and brown rice syrup. Pour the wet mixture into the deep mixing bowl, whisk until there are no lumps. Then fold in the mashed bananas gently until everything comes together.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes. If the cake tester/knife comes out wet, set it for another 5-10 minutes. It should be golden brown and the cake tester/knife should be clean. If you like your bread loaf a little denser, take it out of the oven when it is still a little moist. The cake tester/knife will have a some batter stick to it. Let it cool for at least ten minutes before indulging it with a knob of butter or a squeeze of honey and a cup of tea.

a new carrot cake

March 25, 2014 § 3 Comments

As part of Supernature Organic April baking theme, I had baked a gluten free vegan carrot cake. While carrot cake is often available at bakeries and cafes, it is easily replaced with gluten free flours and sugar free options. Try Bob Mill’s quinoa flour, buckwheat flour or Doves Farm plain white flour. For sugar free option, Wholesome agave or Lundberg brown rice syrup. The agave gives a richer and pure sweetness to the cake, while Lundberg produce a wholesome rustic taste. This is my favourite combination by far but I do suggest trying a few flours to suit your taste.

for a 9 inch cake tin

45g Bob’s Mill buckwheat flour
100g Doves Farm gluten free plain white flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt
80 ml vegetable oil
60g unsweetened applesauce
50g non-dairy milk (hazelnut milk is a big hit)
150g Lundberg brown rice syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
a handful of chopped walnuts
1 large carrot or 2 small carrots, shredded

Preheat the oven to 170C and grease a 9 inch cake tin. In a deep mixing bowl, mix buckwheat flour, gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, applesauce, non-dairy milk, brown rice syrup and vanilla extract. Add the wet mix into the dry mixture, whisk together until well combined. With a spatula, fold the chopped walnuts and shredded carrots into the batter till it is evenly incorporated.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake it for 30-35 minutes. Use a knife or cake tester, it will come out clean when the cake is done. If there are little crumbs sticking to the knife or tester, return it to the oven for at least five minutes. Careful not to over bake as gluten free cakes gets drier when it cools.

Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it. – Julia Child

friday night thoughts

March 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

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For every camera phone users out there, there was once upon a time when pictures were taken from actual cameras and developed with films. Food photography was nothing less than the first black and white pictures in Le Cordon Bleu by Dione Lucas. The focus has always been in the cooking and taste of food. The dynamic flavors with simple ingredients and culinary techniques mastered by chefs.

Tonight I baked fennel for the very first time along with some red onions, garlic and thyme. Then sautéed half of a red onion and sliced garlic, then pour in a quarter cup of couscous with water. Season to taste, put the lid on and let the flavours soak in. Oh, and there were portobello mushroom and a sprinkle of cumin seed baked beside the fennels. It was one of the most delightful dinner one can possibly have on a Friday evening.

I only eat couscous when you cook them – m

I cannot stress the importance of simple cooking along with fresh ingredients more than what we eat today. Make your food worth the salt, your meal worth the time and most of all, be mindful and present to life.

Eating used to be a time for family bonding. It used to be a time when people said grace, relaxed together and appreciated each other’s company. It uses to be a time when the heart was fed. It could be that way again.
- John Robbins



March 14, 2014 § 2 Comments

As another month unfolds itself, we welcome a new puppy to our home. Meet Lambert, our friendly little one who loves to cuddle on my belly and have naps with me. It follows my dad every where he goes and barks like a toy dog when he knows you have food.


Recently, I have been learning the wonders of rubbing in. This morning it came to me with all the series of events happening while I was making scones. We all know the steps of making delicious rich buttery pastries, cold butter and flour. It is without a doubt that when you take cold rich unsalted butter and rub them into the flour with your bare fingertips, fold them with cheese, fresh berries or chocolate, that it will make your life wonderful.

The rubbing in method requires time. It calls for patience and your presence to be unconditionally still until the mix resembles breadcrumbs before adding in the liquid. The rewards are unforgettably comforting and wash the woos away. Whatever happens before that quiet moment of baking, sort of dissipates like butter melting into the flour. When the sun slowly rises, I felt an ease of silence knowing that much of the days’ work will go into a gratifying ending.

I often worry that being myself and giving chances often result in a catastrophe. That restricting others to certain obligations or instilling ways will create discomfort. Truth is there is fear. The fear of being vulnerable and simply taking time to discover what is real. While that happens the mirror of objections turn into disappointments. We all rub into unknown circumstances unconsciously, and often wonder how it started at the beginning. Like making scones, while step one takes time, I believe in good intentions, that with tenderness there will be joy and contentment.

Spending so much time in the kitchen waiting for treats to be out of the oven, I wonder when real life’s satisfactions will come about. Perhaps they come in forms of a thank you note, or a kind gesture or a change of heart to be a better wellbeing. Whatever comes, for now I will keep rubbing in until they come about.

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I had spent some time digging out old editorials and organizing recipes from various publications. This late afternoon, I made myself a good cup of finca tamana by Tim Wendelboe, a lovely clean citrusy brew and re-read the entire sketchbook with a homemade blueberry cake. Another long weekend with the cafe ahead.

“The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.
- Stephen Kendrick”

when silence is gold

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Last lunar new year, I found a note between John Kerouac’s On The Road book. My late cousin had collected a series of his books and a few more of his favourite authors. Every year, we return back to my aunt’s house for a reunion meal. Every year, I stand in front of the shelves, picking up random books and flipping pages until it is time to go home.

It is not every year I get to spend time with my other cousins. E’s brother, Chong, who just returned from Thailand spent some nights with the family. The note, was for him and was “edited” by E. We thought the note was for Chong. But according to him, it wasn’t.

The past few weeks have been a little tougher than usual, I have been questioning life and the path I am on. What it entails and what it offers. The book, the cafe, the family and being in this country.

Two days ago, I visited the crematorium after a restless morning. I have had thoughts before but never got the courage to do so.Torn and heavy hearted I found the disturbed thoughts silencing themselves between the walls. It’s ironic how peaceful it can be around the eternal rest.

I walked out feeling a little more grounded and lifted inside. Another paradox in life, I cannot explain but only feel compelled to share.

This morning, Chong had surprised me with a message. He mentioned that the note was written when both of them had experienced love. That being in love “makes us see how wonderful life is”. Reminding me not to think so much but to enjoy it. Thus, was placed in On The Road. The note was meant for me. To show me that love and youth make life wonderful.

Chong calls this synchronicity, I believe it is too.

There are signs we can choose to ignore and paths we choose to take. But we can only follow the flow and find a rhythm that sings to our heart. Find that rhythm and make it your anthem.

Life must be rich and full of loving–it’s no good otherwise, no good at all, for anyone.”
― Jack Kerouac

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We are still working on the cookbook. It is taking more time than we thought but we are working hard for it to be out by Christmas. This is a purple sweet potato cake with rosemary lemon syrup. Purple sweet potato has a dense floury texture and a rich tannin sweetness. It was really lovely with the fragrant rosemary and citrusy punch syrup. More recipe testing soon.

trust that inner gut feeling again

February 25, 2014 § Leave a comment


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There seems to be days I wake up to and find myself asking what shall I bake or cook today? There are routines to follow and list to abide by. It becomes mundane and a little dullness always sink into. Standing in front of the cake display, I ponder like a new customer with thoughts of what to nourish themselves with. Except when that happens they seem to take a much longer time to decide and annoy the staffs when they change their minds after paying.

The contemplative moments happen before sunrise and when no one is in the cafe; before the silent dawn breaks into a noise of light and brings in a gleeful sunshine. These days, we have been spoiling ourselves over the weekend with blueberry buttermilk pancakes for Sunday specials, purple potatoes for crisps, fresh Korean pears and new brews. I am also trying new recipes for more homemade cakes and perhaps a change of menu for lunch time.

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We have not been cooking much at home. But when we get the chance to, I get spoiled with a big spread of delicious wholesome soups boiled for hours and hearty dishes with fresh veggies. We also got new coffee beans from Nylon and making some moves with the Kalita waves.

On that thought, I have been hard on many things lately. Filling the days with events after events, not taking time to reflect or understanding as much. We pace ourselves to keep the moments occupied. Afraid to feel empty but only to feel a little more transparent and vulnerable with all the frenzies.

I am back to writing in the journals and reading more again. Be more mindful of sights and sounds. Filling the soul with nourishing food and keeping the days count.

There are things about ourselves that we need to get rid of; there are things we need to change. But at the same time, we do not need to be too desperate, too ruthless, too combative. Along the way to usefulness and happiness, many of those things will change themselves, and the others can be worked on as we go. The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it.”

― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

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Recently received a lovely care package from Trish. I am really glad for this homegrown quarterly magazine filled with travel stories and impeccable images. Check out Desiderata and other local Malaysian talents.


February 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Recently, I’ve been reaching out to the heart with a softer rhythm. A much gentle pace to ease into the flow of everyday events. It has been a heavy week with disappointments and excitements, how they both love to tease the heart and make you wonder what is worth. There is a quiet need to set aside time for deeper reflections and seek simplicity.

This island is always full of surprise, after two years of living here I am still finding ways to be part of it. As Tyler Brûlé said, “It is that time of year when many wake up, stare at the ceiling and take stock of their career”.

While staring through the glass window in the kitchen, I wonder if customers understood our passion to serve wholesome food. That a simple tomato mozzarella sandwich was made with slices of heirloom tomatoes, shipped in either from France or America on specific days, smeared with homemade pesto freshly through out the week, topped with hand shredded mozzarella, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and pressed on the grill until the bread becomes well-crisp.

We make food to show we care.

Taking the time to be mindful of ingredients, steps and services. And realize, there are people worth persevering for.

The day of showing love and affection was spent at home drinking cognac, watching cooking channels and eating Lana’s chocolate cake. The days before that we had been taking time to just enjoy the very early mornings before work and late nights after the day is done. Simple pleasures to be thankful for.

The most wonderful of all things in life is the discovery of another human being with whom one’s relationship has a growing depth, beauty and joy as the years increase. This inner progressiveness of love between two human beings is a most marvelous thing; it cannot be found by looking for it or by passionately wishing for it. It is a sort of divine accident, and the most wonderful of all things in life.
- Sir Hugh Walpole

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