Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eine Schokolade Torte?

Schokolade Torte

Ingredients (cake):
150g butter
150g sugar
4 eggs (separate egg yolks from white)
180g nuts (grinded) - any nuts
180g dark baking chocolate
180g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 sachet vanilla powder

Ingredients (chocolate grazing):
100g dark baking chocolate
80g butter
Almond strips (optional)

(1) Whisk butter till light

(2) Add sugar and continue whisking

(3) Add yolk and whisk

(4) Meanwhile, melt the chocolate at low heat and pour into batter and whisk.

(5) Add vanilla powder

(6) Add nuts, slowly

(7) Beat egg white in another bowl

(8) To flour, add sieved baking powder

(9) Add flour mixture to batter slowly

(10) Stir in the egg whites slowly

(11) Prepare baking tin by coating with butter and then sprinkling with bread crumbs

(12) Pour batter into baking tin

(13) Place tray at bottom of preheated oven at 180°C

(14) Bake for ~45 minutes. Stick inserted should come out clean.

(15) Cool the cake

(16) For the grazing, melt chocolate and butter at low heat. Stir constantly.

(17) Pour chocolate grazing over the cake making sure to cover the entire cake.

(18) Add almond strips to decorate (optional)

(+) This recipe is so easy to follow
(+) The trick here is to sprinkle the baking tin with bread crumbs after the butter coating which makes removal of the cake from the tin extremely easy! No more torn-off crumbs on the tin leaving poke-marked holes on the cake surface. :)
(=) The cake is not too buttery or too thick.
(=) I especially love the nutty flavour from each bite!

Weisskirchen - Tante Juli's Farm

Never did I expect to derive such pure pleasure from a simple visit to the florist. The sight of the numerous never-seen-before species of flowers ambushing all corners of the store to welcome the customers is simply amazing. If diamond melts a woman's heart, then flowers would have to be its stiff competitor!

So armed with a huge bouquet of flowers, we made another joyful visit to Weisskirchen. One of the agenda for this visit and also the highlight for me would be the trip to Tante Juli's farm!

I must admit that I had a rather 'fantasy' perception of how a farm would be like: with sheeps, goats, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, cows, pigs, horses...etc all housed under one roof and not forgetting the all-important rooster sitting atop the roof waiting for its moment for the day.

Naturally, this was not what I saw at the real farm. There were cows grazing on a steep slope and each cow has their own unique names. When called, they'll actually acknowledge it by walking down the hill towards the source of the commotion. But they don't respond to just anyone calling them, mainly the farmer and his wife in this case. And like sheeps, there's a leader in the herd and she was chosen by the farmer based on her behavioural traits. Once crowned the leader, she'll be honoured with the traditional almglocken around her neck.

When we entered the farm house and approached the pig pent, all the pigs were running away and hiding outside. Only when the farmer called out their names (yes, they have names too!) did they came running back to the pent. So as I witnessed it, pigs are clever actually!

They also have two cats and a dog. And mind you, the dog is a Deutsch Kurzhaar and she has webbed feet which makes her a natural swimmer!

On this particular day, they found a baby hedgehog which was lost from its parents. And guess what is their favourite drink? Milk! And talking about milk, I had my serving of fresh, warm milk straight from the cow! It is so creamy and had a tinge of sweetness to it. I'm so thrilled as this trip turned out to be quite an "Animal Planet" experience for me.
Finally, any trip to Weisskirchen is not complete without the cakes, glorious cakes! :)

It's all about Cultivation...

Singapore is a safe country, very much like Austria. Ladies or in fact anyone can walk along the streets at night without having to worry about snatch thieves or people with ill-intents trying to sneak up on them.

Additionally, I noticed that the Austrians have reached a certain level of self-restraint and may I say "Cultivation" that Singaporeans might not have yet achieved.

For one, let me quote the example of the corn fields. It is not difficult to spot large patches of corn fields along the road in Summer. There's no fences guarding against unauthorised plucking, no spy cameras, no guard dogs, nothing. There might be some individuals who venture to pluck a few of the corns but nothing really to worry the farmers so much so to translate their worries into actions.

In some flower fields, I also noticed a big placard instructing the customers to pluck the flowers themselves and then to deposit the cash in a box located in the middle of the field. The cash box is simply secured by a padlock, nothing more.

And the most common sight would have to be the newspaper "sales point" tied around the lamp posts along the streets. It is made up of a plastic bag which resembles a folder with a cover flap. In the morning, the newspaper van would drive along the streets, collect whatever newspapers were unsold from the bag and load in fresh prints for the day. Also tied to the lamp post just above the bag would be a small rectangular piggy bank box with prints instructing on the price per copy. The method of transaction is simple:

(1) Take a copy of newspaper from the plastic folder.

(2) Slot your coins into the piggy bank box.

(3) Transaction completed.

Life can be simple. It just takes people to behave with self-restraint and may I say "Cultivation".

Monday, September 28, 2009

Geburtstag am 18.08.2009

A simple cake, on a special day, for a girl who's far away from her hometown.


fresh fruit yoghurt cake from Warmbaderhof

All You Need Is Love

While Singapore is celebrating it's 44th year of independence, I was celebrating the reminiscence of The Beatles at the Wörthersee lakeside stage.

Dinner was a simple affair of giant pretzel with beer for the locals and plain, simple mineral water for me.

It was almost full-house for the two days concert held over the weekdays and the concert was great with Paul McCartney and John Lennon look-alikes who could actually sing-alike as well!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

HonigFest @ Hermagor

One of the many events held during Summer is the honey festival at Hermagor, an eastern district within the state of Carinthia.

The road was closed down on this particular sunny afternoon but were instead lined up with countless makeshift stores selling different housebrands of honey as well as products that were somehow related to honeys or bees.

honey extractor

I spotted one particular store which was selling a traditional Austrian cuisine - Eierschwammerl-Rahmsauce mit Knödeln. Absolutely nothing to do with the festival theme but which caught my attention nonetheless. Smacked right in the center of the store was this giant flat-based wok with thousands of eierschwammerl stewing in a thick brown creamy gravy. And seriously, who could resist it?!?

Unfortunately, one plate cost us a damning €10 so we ended up sharing it and had to instead scout around for a cheaper alternative lunch. And salad was the natural choice - healthy with some stripes of turkey to top up my daily protein requirement. :)

And lastly, I would like to add that bees are not only a hardworking lot, they can be rather clever....or a more apt description would be innovative...what do you think?

New favours from Ferrero Rocher

Found two new favours from my all time favourite - Ferrero Rocher.

Ferrero Garden - Lemon Favoured

Ferrero Rondnoir - Dark Chocolate with Black 'Pearl' Center

Are these available in Singapore? Or am I super outdated?


It all started on a beautiful sunny weekend and a bag of bread crumbs.

The drive around a nearby lake provided us with a stunning view of the mountainuous range in the backdrop and the crystal blue lake in the foreground. This is the view that has drawn thousands and probably millions of city dwellers flocking to peaceful and tranquil towns dotted throughout Austria.
People could be seen paddling idly across the lake, others on their sails breezing past the docks and many more sun tanning on the grass patches. Nevertheless, the object of our pursuit cannot be found. We drove around the lake, stopping at locations where we thought were further away from the throngs of human activities which might have driven them to hide in the remote spots. Alas, we were disappointed.
While heading back with our heads almost drooping into the bag full of crumbs, the distant memory of a feeding dispenser located along the river pushed its way through the clouded memories and surfaced to my mind. River Drau it shall be!

Upon passing the onion-shaped dome churches, we knew that it would be a matter of minutes before arriving at the all-too-familiar river which flows next to the town center.
Almost instantly, we spotted them! At first, there were only a few along the river. And as we descended the steps and started sprinkling bread crumbs at them, more and more simply appeared from nowhere!
Somehow, they reminded me of the Navy and Air Forces, with high-tec communication gadgets to inform others in the vicinity of their discoveries and also theirs magnificent manoeuver towards the target before the smooth water landing from flight. Amazing!
It was not until the bag was emptied out and dusk approached before we decided to head back. Mission accomplished. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Maroni a.k.a Chestnut

The first image that popped into my mind at the mention of chestnuts is that of a pushcart manned by a man in bermudas hard at work frying the dark brown chestnuts amidst a big wok of charcoal....never, never as fruits growing from a tree. And this explains my look of amazement to find them staring at me within such close proximity!

However, the joy was short-lived as I learned that the one I'm witnessing is a Horse Chestnut tree which produces inedible chestnuts, unlike the Sweet Chestnut tree, it's edible counterpart.

Nevertheless, this is definitely one thing for me to look forward to in the cold, cold Winter - steaming hot chestnuts wrapped in brown paper bags, drawing customers with the smell of roasted nuts wafting down the streets, into the tiny alleys...hmmm..... :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Old World @ St. Paul

Walking leisurely through a large manicured garden to the St. Paul's Benedictine Abbey, one could never have imagined it's huge collection of ancient books dating back to more than 900 years ago.

Rows upon rows of impressive towering shelves full of books with brittle pages greeted us at the entrance. It's a wonder than I even dare to heave a sign of breath near them - for fear that the pages would simply be reduced to ashes and lay scattered on the floor.

Plugged into the audio guide, I was led into the ancient world of monks who had the privilege to read and copy countless volumes of manuscripts when literacy was rare. This is the first time the Abbey's opening it's doors and exhibiting it's priceless documents to the public; from centuries-old documents to the World's oldest printed book to the oldest manuscript dating back to the 4th century found outside the Vatican City.

What intrigued me the most was the section on "Forbidden Books". In today's world when most scientific studies or discoveries are made quickly known to the public, it was a forbbiden subject in the past. Forbbiden because it provided an alternative, scientific explanation to things other than the powers of God which might possibly shake the very foundation of the Monasteries and Abbeys' preach of faith to the believers. Even so, the monks were actively researching and recording their scientific findings only to have the documents locked away from the prying eyes of the public.

The Secret Recipe for Carbonara

Some years back, I was imparted the recipe for Carbonara by a Slovenian. Five years later, in the very same continent, I was told that the recipe is not Italians! So here goes the superseded version:


olive oil
diced onion
bacon strips (I only had ham but bacon would be recommended)
pasta (cooked in a pot of salted water and drained)
grated parmesan cheese
sliced garlic (optional)
milk (optional)

(1) Fry onions and garlic in olive oil.

(2) Lower the heat and add the bacon strips. Stir fry till golden brown.

(3) Meanwhile, add grated parmesan cheese to the egg. If you prefer a wet carbonara, moderate amount of milk can be added as well.

(4) Add the pasta and egg mixture into the pan.

(5) Stir in the yolk.

(6) Cook for ~ 1 minute until the eggs are dried.

(+) It's easy and tasty!
(+) No cream of any type if needed which makes it that little bit less fattening.

An insight into the past....

I was awestruck when I was shown a pair of binoculars from World War II.

It was heavy alright but it worked fine and was very well preserved till date. Instead of staring glassy-eyed at it from a high security bullet-proof casing in a museum, I got to handle it! How cool is that! :)