Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 Resolutions: Cream Tarts

Fancy some really easy no brainer pretty looking homemade desserts????
don't believe me???'s easy peasy u can do it with ur eyes closed or get lil ones at home involved :)))))

These pretty looking cream tarts were made by Monkey a few weeks ago under my 2013 Resolutions Project. Good and easy recipe by Anna Olson, plus not much cleaning to do........wuahahahahaha

The recipe begins with melting 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
Monkey used really low heat at number 2 bcoz I didn't have the patience to stand and STARE at Heat no. 2 is just nice while I busied myself with other things....

In the mean time, Rule number is alwiz to preheat your oven before u start anything....
so heat it up at 350*F or about 175/180*C

whack the shit outta some graham crackers...or whichever crackers u can find at the supermarket. Throw everything into the ziplock bag and wham-baam-wham-baam all u want....
collect about 1 Cup of these graham crackers

Add these to 1 Cup of sieved all purpose flour
4 tsp of sugar
1/4 tsp of salt

and mix all till well combined

please please please get ur measurement right
tsp = teaspoon

TBSP = tablespoon
TBS = THE BIG SALE hahahahahha my favourite word :))))

by this time, ur slow melting butter should have pour everything in and mix till it turned crumbly like this

Then scoop some of the mixture into a mini muffin pan like the above...
it's not ur standard size muffin pan but of smaller ones....u don't want your beautiful petite delectable tarts turned into chunky masculine looking giants don't ya???

so press them down and on its sides until compact like the above
to me, this was the toughest step bcoz it consumed some time being inexperienced me...making this for the first time.

This recipes makes about 30 mini it's best to have more than 1 mini muffin pan...

Bake them for only 10 minutes!!!! woohoooo
yeah I know they looked horrible but trust me, these ugly ducklings will soon turned into beautiful golden swan....hehehehehehe

After they have cool down, just use a toothpick, poke at its sides, move it a bit and mini tarts will turned itself 360 degrees around the pan and off u lift them outta the pan. Thanks to the butter in the mixture, it's quite "slippery" and slides out easily.

U can keep them in airtight container until u are ready to use them. The recipe didn't says how long u can keep them...and I didn't have the chance to experiment with its shelf life bcoz it was gone....all gone....

To prepare the basic vanilla's even easier!!!!!
Heat 1 Cup of low fat milk *it must must be low fat ok*
add 1/2 vanilla bean but bcoz I lurve them so much, I dunk in one whole bean :D:D:D
plus Monkey stole JS's precious Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla from his pantry...huhuhuhuhuhu
the nose...the smell...aaaahhh!!!!!

okie u just wanna heat it must just be below simmer and not bubbly...
when u see it simmer on its side..then it's ready. So again...use very very low heat.

Meanwhile crack 3 egg yolks...u need really fresh good quality eggs like the above...lurve its color :))))). Add 3 TBSP of sugar and 2 TBSP of cornstarch
whisk this mixture well and place a strainer on top of this glass bowl
Slowly and gradually mix your simmered vanilla milk into this over the strainer to remove the chunky huge piece of vanilla bean.

then return the mixture into the pot and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, constantly stirring with a spatula - esp on its sides
U will know its ready once the mixture has thickened and turned glossy

Once again pour it all into the glass bowl and add in 2 TBSP of butter
bcoz the mixture is hot...the butter will melt effortlessly.....

Voila!!! so smooth and creamie!!!
and Congratulations bcoz u have just prepared the ultimate basic vanilla cream which can be used for so many other things!!!!

What I did was another short cut...once this mixture has cool down a bit...Monkey dunk it all into a plastic disposable pipping bag and store in the fridge until it's ready to be used. This recipe makes 1 1/2 Cups of vanilla cream.

and whenever u are ready to consume them....u just need to assemble it easily...

Remove all the cute tiny popsie tarts from its air tight container....with your vanilla cream inside ur pipping bag...this should be effortless...then top them with fruits of ur choice :))))

but the easiest step was popping them into ur mouth continuously...
so yummy...

Easy isn't it?? esp when u have parties at home...everything is pre-prepared...just need assembling. And it uses the most basic ingredients...nothing too fancy...If u can't find vanilla bean just replace with vanilla extract :))

For a proper professional recipe visit the website *here*
Happy Baking!!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Alhambra, Andalusia

A few months ago.....Monkey was flipping through a really thick book - 1,000 places to see before you was my birthday gift from my loveliest roomies...
and in Spain, there is ONE and ONLY ONE place to go.....Alhambra

I lurve the name so much already!!!!! then after a few tapping here n there on my ipad, I've got the whole idea where is Alhambra, what is Alhambra..though we all have learnt it in school history, I guess my knowledge already gone...dissipated the moment I left my school >.<

Part of Alhmabra from another palace....Palacio Generalife
JS was so so so accommodating and sporting for doing this with's about 2.5 hours train ride from Seville. There's nothing to do here except visiting this palace in a city called Granada.
But we sure found good hotel and great food and yummy tapas :)))) huhuhuhuhuahhahahahahhaha

a lil info about Alhambra:
built back in 889 as a fortress high up on the mountain during the Islam conquest. Oh don't forget Europe was conquered by Muslims. Known as the Nasyrid Dynasty, this is a very important place and palace in the history of Islam. Soon it was converted to a beautiful palace in 1333 by Sultan of Granada. Throughout the years, it was reconquered and conquered between the Muslims and Christians and finally the last muslim ruler was ousted....he actually cried having to leave this pearl set in the emeralds....

it's really really really so beautiful and totally worth the trouble coming all the way....JS even insisted he would like to visit Alhambra again....O.O

Weather wasn't too kind to us...we were hiking up this mountain by 6.30am in the rain!!!!!
story was...visitors are supposed to make reservation to visit this palace..and Monkey must have missed that in her lil research...she only found out a week before the then nobody could help us to secure reservations bcoz it's fully booked and there's only XX number of ppl are allowed to visit this place. Following a tip, Alhambra do have extra tickets for blur visitors like us hahahaha...but the thing is...they only dispatch them for sale from 8.00am to 8.30am....only a 30 minutes windows!!!!

arghhhh we didn't wanna missed by the time we reached the top at the ticketing counter at 7.00am sharp...there was already a queue!!!!!
we were alarmed!!! oh damn!!! I thought we gonna be the first!!!! and so we queue up with strangers, chatting up, sharing umbrellas and breakfast. I was with a lone woman-traveller from Egypt, giving me free history classes about Alhambra...woohooooo!!!!!! This is even better than my old history books :)))))))))

Carlos V Palace

u must be wondering why is this so Roman....coz it is!!!!!
in fact it's Renaissance, built by Emperor Carlos V who was a ruler of America then. He spent his summer here and decided to built his residence next to the Arab's so "next" that both his palace and the Arab ones are connected -_-"
let's take some time to digest this.....Spain conquered America last time...OK? still with me???

Spain found America...remember Christopher Columbus???
Ok he's not spanish...he's Genoese from Genoa...present day Italy...or some say he's Portuguese...watever it was he worked for the Spanish Monarchy. It was also him who introduced Christianity to America....arghhh let's not go into a different chapter of history...
come back to Alhambra :)))))

despite the rain the wetness the coldness....Monkey was so so so so happy...
and she's not even in the Arab castle yet!!!!
there's a time stamp on the are only allowed into the most important part of the Palace once for a maximum of 30 minutes. If u missed your time allocation.....then that's it :P

there!!!! this is it!!!!!

Queue-ing with other curious tourists....snapping pics for each usual we were early for our 9.00am window of time allocation...just in case...hahahahha. In Singapore this is called Kiasu-ness.

Once the machine read my ticket and the bar was raised for Monkey to enter...she was so ecstatic..
yeah just to see some stones and history -_-"
JS was no better....he was bz snapping away...he decided he won't need the umbrella anymore...and so there I was....carrying our unglamorous umbrella....

We went berserk!!! wow look at the Moorish windows!!!!!
look at the view!!!!!!
I wished this is my bedroom...or study room...even if it's a kitchen I don't mind...hmmm even if u put a bath tub next to those moorish windows it's gonna be so awesome!!!!!!

the intricate artwork!!!! and stone carvings...they must have really good masons then
We were WAH-WAH-WAH-ing our way in :P

no words can describe the artwork...look at the Jawi alphabets carvings, it's 3D, u can touch them :)))
In Islam, you can only do geometries and animals or humans

and then we saw IT!!!!!! it's there!!!!! THERE!!!!!!
u have no idea how difficult it was to shoot this pic with no tourist nearby....patience is highly needed at this juncture....just stand there and wait for that opportunity. No one is allowed outside the courtyard...we were constrained to the perimeter within the building.....

Ladies and gentlemen....the reasons we were here.....
The Lion Palace!!!!!
so so so so so beautiful and the highlight of Alhambra

The courtyard housed the private rooms of the Royals, there's water feature everywhere with more Moorish designs.....those cute lions spouts water outta their mouth, at the exact angle onto the smaller drainage system.....each orientation north south east west wings of the courtyard have more lil fountains that flow into the center of the courtyard...

The effect??? Soothing zen water sounds with such splendour view....
aaaaAAAAaaaaaaaaa no wonder he cried when he was kicked out fr here. I think I'll do more than crying...hahahahaha

There are 12 lions in total....each representing the 12 tribes of errr I think the lions are Jewish???? From the 11th century, 2 special Lions have got triangles on their head representing Juda and Levi, the chosen tribes. Yeah don't ask me why are the Jewish Lions sitting inside a Muslim Palace which has been conquered and reconquered between the Muslims and Christians....I should have paid more attention in my history lesson -_-"

One for the album.....
We were here!!!!! 

Monkey tilted her head in pain......

Honeycomb ceiling they called it
this was the Comares Palace, perfectly square.
The largest hall at the palace, it was also the Throne Room/hall for the sultan.

this bath house must be almost a thousand years old.

In between buildings and palaces, there were many gardens like this...
one can really get lost here.

Such magnificent view from the Alcazar....
Alcazar is one of the oldest part and was for military use....afterall it's a HUGE fortress up on this hill. From here u can see the whole Granada.

a fantastic view of the snow capped mountains - also known as the Sierra Nevada
the highest peak of the whole of Spain lies in this mountain range at about 11,411 ft

Later we were off to the last bit of Alhambra - the Generalife
this place is huge isn't it??? hence u will need almost a day.

From Generalife, u have a spectacular view of all the other palaces we visited.

so cantik!!!!!!
I wished I could read wat's on the wall :))))))))

JS was so happy and mesmerized with this place that he actually took the late afternoon off.
off fr Monkey...and climbed another different hill at a different part of the city to photograph this entire hill from a different perspective. I called him MAD

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