A Taste of Thailand and A Singapore Sling

thai temple2

This was my first time in both Thailand and Singapore and really, I’m tempted to just let the photos speak for themselves.   Our first stop in Thailand was the grand palace, and my goodness, I was completely floored by its beauty.  Practically speechless.  It looked like one big glittery heavenly majesty.

thai temple4

The complex was also covered in the most breathtakingly beautiful mosaics.  So, every where you went you were faced with something like this.  (I have to just show the photo, because even the most descriptive words would not do this justice)

thai temple3

I know, right?

We also had two very different dinners in Thailand.  Our first night we had local street food, which consisted of fish with lemongrass, tom yum soup, papaya salad, and a big helping of sticky rice. Our second night was a fancy dinner with a lot of fusion dishes like pad thai tacos, coconut cheese, and thai ice cream sandwiches.  Both were incredibly delicious, but hands down, we all thought the street food was better!

Thai dinner summary

We only had one day in Singapore, so let me give you the quick three highlight run down.

1) Singapore botanical gardens were filled with some of the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen.  I believe the one on the top right was a young ginger!

singaporeflowers2) Food in Singapore is no joke — Laksa, chicken rice, water chestnut drinks, and of course chili crab (clockwise).  singaporefood

3) Oh yes, and a night cap at the raffles hotel for the original singapore sling! The guy at the bar told us it was originally designed as a “fruit punch” for the ladies!   Ha.. something about that is funny. singaporesling

And that concludes this quick summary of my recent trip!  Hope you enjoyed the photos!  I’m excited to get back to my regular broadcasting, though.. life for these next few months is going to be incredibly transitional as I get prepped to head back to school.  So, who knows what I’ll post about!  (probably lemon desserts and artichokes…)

Home Sweet Home

home food

For some people the word home has an instant one line definition and is designated as a very specific place.  For instance, where you grew up, where you sleep, where all your loved ones are, where all your stuff is, etc.  But as someone who was born 7,400 miles away from the place where I was raised, defining home can get a little tricky.  Most days, I define home as dear sweet New York City.  And for good reason — My parents are here.  My friends are here.  My stuff is here. My life is here.  But..

Every time I take a trip to Shanghai, this definition changes.  Although I only lived in Shanghai for the first four years of my life, it still feels like home every time I arrive at Pudong airport.  Shanghai is where my parents met and married.  It is where my grandparents live.  It is where I took my first steps, attended my first pre-school, ate my first ice cream.  I only make a homage once every few years, but just like New York, Shanghai is where I feel like a local, not a tourist.  So, it should come as no surprise that my favorite activity here is to eat delicious home cooked dinners at my Grandmother’s place (see picture above!).  The rest of my Shanghai days were filled with equally low key events that filled me chock full of that home sweet home feeling.   Below are 3 major highlights!   

1) Nothing makes me feel more at home than waking up to a breakfast of fried dough sticks, scallion pancakes, and salty bean curd — all for the price of something like ten cents!  I was trying to explain what the fried dough stick was like the other day, and the best I could come up with is: It’s like a churro, but bigger, fluffier, and salty instead of sweet.

breakfast

2)  I also took some time to take my nephews to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition.  The trip was more about hanging out with the munchkins rather than seeing the actual exhibit, but I did manage to snap this pretty cool photo of the giant modular representation of the city.  shanghai

 

3)  I waited in line for almost an hour with my family to get these coveted meat pies.  It was like the cronut adventure all over again!

line

meat pie

meat pie2

Honey, I’m home!

Summary photo

What a ride!  After an adventurous two weeks of new experiences,  there’s nothing quite like coming home to your own bed, your own shower, your favorite breakfast, and of course your sweet blogger community.  Dear dearest friends, how I have missed you so!

In my everlasting quest to quell wanderlust, this has got to be one of the most diversity packed excursions I have ever embarked upon.  Diverse sightseeing from the bright city lights in Shanghai to the sparkling heavenly temples in Bangkok to the serene orchard gardens in Singapore.  Diverse feasting from comforting home cooked meals at my Grandmas to exciting street food in Bangkok to a fancy cocktail at the Raffles Hotel (home of the original Singapore Sling!).  It just felt like I went through every possible type of experience, short of flying to the moon and back (though there was a moment where it felt like I had done that too!).

I cannot wait to catch up with all of you, and am bursting with excitement to share what I have been up to these last few weeks (as well as what I have in store these coming weeks!).  

Happy Friday (major updates in lieu of pictures)

Hello and HAPPY FRIDAY!  Please excuse me if this post seems a little frazzled, but there is SO MUCH going on this week that I don’t even know where to begin.  Let us start with the most momentous event (are you ready?!): I quit my job this week!!! YAYAYAY!

Hehe, don’t worry.  It’s not as dramatic as it sounds.  I quit because I’m headed back to school this fall to get a masters, and everyone at work knew ahead of time, blah blah blah.  There were a lot of reasons I decided to move on from this job (so many that I could probably dedicate an entire novel to it, let alone one dinky blog post), so I’ll save the gnarly details for another time (err. actually, not quite sure anyone would want to hear about that on a site called lemoncakebreak.. I digress).

So what will I be up to between now and the start of school?  Well, for starters, I’m leaving for a mini tour of Asia (Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore) tonight!  I’ll be back Mid-Late June.  Not sure how much internet access I’ll have, but hopefully I can keep posting!  Either way, if I don’t post while I am away, I will DEFINITELY have infinite posts of delicious foods and fun activities when I return.

Also, I recently set up a twitter account for LCB.  Not surprisingly, I did this because often I’ll have a fun experience or a cool random thought that I want to share, but don’t want to dedicate an entire post to.  *awkwardly looks at feet* uggh, I currently have zero followers, so please consider clicking the button below!

Until then, you stay classy friends!

Flipping out over ICE CREAM PANCAKES

icp_final

Tonight, through a wave of creativity which was powered by curiosity, I transformed a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream into a stack of pancakes.  No, I did not partake in any form of wizard-like sorcery.  I simply took a cue from our ice cream bread adventures, and added flour.  It is not often that I feel at a loss for words, but here I am.. speechless, thinking.. how in the world do I explain myself now?

icp_ingredients

It all started shortly after the successful creation of ice cream bread.  I thanked my amazing friend for showing me the recipe and then we started to shoot the breeze on the logistics of ice cream pancakes.  Many MANY questions were tossed around.  For example, Are pancakes and bread made out of the same things?  If so, then are pancakes just grilled bread?  Is nothing what it seems?  IS EVERYTHING EVERYTHING ELSE?  It was a laughter inducing conversation which left me feverishly wondering… Is it possible, though?  Can you make pancakes from ice cream?  Only one way to find out, dear friends!

icp_process

Behold, the ice cream pancake — it works!!  IT LIIIIVES!!!  And, perhaps best of all, it is actually better than its bready counter-part.  See the following five note-worthy reasons as to why:

1) It’s faster.  A few minutes in the skillet vs. over half an hour in the oven

2) It’s easier. No need for self rising flour.  Regular flour will do just fine.

3) Smaller portions.  You can make just one pancake if you so desire.

4) The inside can be a little gooey, and it doesn’t taste like flour (I’m not sure why this is??)

5) You don’t have to use the entire pint of ice cream, which means there will be some ice cream left over to eat as is (major yay!)  Oh, and speaking of having some ice cream left over, I went ahead and did this…

icp_pour

Yup, that’s right.  I went there.  You know you were thinking the same thing.  😉

Oh, and the recipe?  Easy as ever, loves — Are you ready?   One part ice cream. One part flour. Combine, Mix, Scoop onto hot griddle/skillet, Brown both sides, Enjoy!  

Talk about a gate-way recipe, because now I’m REALLY curious about what else is out there!  Ice cream waffle cones?  Ice cream french toast?  ice cream muffins?  Are there any others that I am missing?  Will these work as well?  Only one way to find out, dear friends!  🙂

 

Five additional notes:

1) I highly recommend the chunky monkey flavor for making pancakes (or even bread!).  The bits of chocolate and walnut give the batter a really nice touch.

2) I should note that I made these pancakes on a whim like a mad scientist.  So, it could be that a little baking powder makes a much better pancake, or that the ideal ratio is 3/4 ice cream, 1/4 flour.  Which brings me to my next note..

3)  If you happen to do your own experimenting  please share your insights and results!  The wisdom of the crowd has never failed.   I was SUPER excited to share this finding with all of you and I couldn’t wait another second to make this post (as evidenced by me typing at 1am on a school night). 

4) I should also note that these pancakes are quite heavy, so I wouldn’t recommend eating a bunch for breakfast.  It’s more of a dessert food.  Just fair warning blog friends!

5) If I have one regret for this blog thus far, it Is that I did not title my last post “CRONUT-COASTER of looove”  Okay, there I said it 🙂

Friday morning math: doughnut + croissant = CRONUT

Cronuts cover

After a wonderfully well-liked post on ice cream bread (thank you all for your lovely feedback!), I knew it was going to be tough to create a follow-up post that wouldn’t completely pale in comparison.  So, dear friends of the world wide web, as a devoted  blogger residing in the big apple, today I bring you the one, the only, the ultimate — the cronut — a imaginatively decadent pastry created and designed by the one, the only, the ultimate — Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery.

For those of you wondering, “what in the world is a cronut??”, this video does a nice job of explaining.  In a nutshell, it is a layer of croissant dough that has been painstakingly modified so that it puffs up (like a doughnut), when fried.  It then gets rolled in sugar, injected with pastry cream, and delicately decorated with a little icing and some sugar crystals.  The making of this pastry is apparently so labor intensive, that the bakery can only produce a few each day (my friends and I estimated less than 100).  They’ve been having serious trouble meeting customer demand, which has caused those who come back empty handed to throw temper tantrums and even shed a few tears!  Having been in their shoes, I know their pain!

cronuts the making

For those of you wondering, “I want a cronut.  How do I get one?”, gather ’round for a quick story time as I relay my adventures in attempting to procure this culinary delight — I met up with a few cronut curious friends Wednesday morning.  Based on some hearsay that the cronuts were selling out by 8:30am, we decided to get there at 7:45am, thinking this would be early enough.  It wasn’t.

Cronuts line

At 7:45am, the line was already 20-30 people deep.  By the time we got to the counter, they were already sold out.  Two things saved us from hitting a new low: 1) we got a free sample of a freshly baked madeleine as we waited in line.  2) my best friend (who had made a previous attempt at getting a cronut last week), suggested we get something called Domininque’s Kouign Amann, known more simply as “DKA” (explanatory video here).  This is probably the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.  I would go so far as to say that in an objective pastry vs. pastry contest (without all the media hype of the cronut being a mix of a doughnut + a crioissant), the DKA actually tastes BETTER than the cronut.  The execution is culinary pastry perfection: Crispy, crunchy, and lightly caramelized on the outside, with the perfect amount of soft gooeyness in the middle.  Flakey throughout, even(!) in the gooey center.

cronuts DKAOkay, but back to cronuts.  So, after our failed attempt, I RETURNED the next day at 7:00am, waited in line for an hour, and was finally able to purchase a pretty gold box of these deeply coveted cronuts.   Behold, dear feasting eyes!

cronuts back cover

cronuts cross sectin

What was the verdict??  Well, like I said before.. I actually think the DKA was a better execution of culinary mastery.  But, the cronut is undeniably a work of culinary genius.  I have never tasted anything like this before; its creation has sparked an interest in pastry makers and eaters worldwide, etching out a new path for fellow food lovers to explore.  And really, that’s what it’s all about, wouldn’t you agree?  Expanding the world of food as we know it.

cronuts face

I scream, you scream, we all scream for… bread? — Ice Cream Bread

icb3Three little words dear readers:  Ice Cream Bread.  Never have three words been so powerful to convince me to turn on my oven while in the midst of sweltering ninety degree weather.  And further, to tempt myself with a chocolate bread made from ice cream, four days before the official start of beach season.  And yet, there it was, slowly materializing in my kitchen — Ice Cream Bread, a bread that is made simply with ice cream and flour (nothing else).  I am proud to say that I have traveled to this sweet holy land, and that it has pushed the outer most boundary of my foodie imagination.

ICB ingredients

When I first heard of ice cream bread, my mind had something akin to a cosmic explosion of culinary discovery.  My head was racing with my favorite ice cream flavors — strawberry, caramel, cookies and cream, phish food, cookie dough — all of which I could now morph into a baked good by just adding flour and an oven.  Common sense told me that this would be the perfect recipe to try out in the fall, as we transition from summer to winter.  But, reality told me that there was no way I was waiting that long to give this a try.  I had to try this now. 

icb before afterI have zero regrets here.  The bread was exactly like how you would imagine it to taste — soft, fluffy, and marvelously delicious with remnants of your favorite ice cream flavor.   And, best of all, the recipe could not be any easier.  Are you ready?

Combine 1 pint of ice cream and 1 1/2 cup of self rising flour.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean)  

There you go.  That is it.  I pretty much have this recipe memorized already, it is that easy.  

(No self rising flour?  No problem!  Make your own by adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder for every 1 cup of flour you add.)

Take my advice fellow blogger friends: get thyself to the nearest pint of sweet frozen deliciousness, and start your ovens!  The discovery awaits you!

And if I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s another drool-worthy picture to help sway your opinion.

icb1