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Almond Jelly with Longan


Saturday, March 03, 2012


This recipe, like most of the others, was a result of craving for something not available where we were living at the time. My Almond Jelly need came during our stay in Cologne, twelve years ago. For some reason, recipes for Almond Jelly were scarce on the internet and no one I knew had one ("Buy the instant mix" was the kindly advice). It took me ages but I finally hit gold on a website which wasn't even a cooking one. The site belonged to a Malaysian young man studying in a UK university who had the same craving, begged his mum for her recipe and out of the kindness of his heart, published it on the internet for those in the same, sad shoes.

So I took his recipe, gave it a couple of turns, each time costing me a pretty penny as agar agar powder, condensed milk and tinned longans were expensive in the Asian supermarket in BarbarossaPlatz.

But everything is an investment if you want to get it right, so this is my final version which I've used all these years. The ingredients are the same, but the measurements have been altered to suit my tastebuds. You can, of course, do some tweaking on your own. The texture of the jelly is akin to firm silken tofu with a bit of bounce. Use more water or less agar agar powder if you like yours really soft. And if tinned longans are not an everyday event in your supermarket, both local or Asian, tinned mixed fruit will do the job too. Traditionally the jelly is set in square or rectangular forms, cut into squares or diamonds and served. I just decided to go fancy pants with decorative molds which I had recently acquired and can't get enough of.

Almond Jelly with Longan


You need:

4.5 cups of water
4 teaspoons of agar agar powder
1 tin of condensed milk (I like Dutch Lady!)
2 tsp of almond essence
Square receptacle or jelly mold(s)
Tinned longans, reserve the syrup

You do:
  1. Pour water in a saucepan. Mix in agar agar powder and stir well till dissolved.
  2. Using a medium flame, bring mixture to a soft rolling boil, all the time stirring gently. 
  3. Let boil for about a minute, taking care not to over do it. You want a a gentle boil, not Mount Vesuvius on an angry day.
  4. Turn heat off. Add in 2tsp of almond essence and the entire tin of condensed milk. Stir well, making sure the milk is evenly incorporated. I use a whisk for this.
  5. Pour contents into square receptacle or jelly mold. Again, gently does it as you don't want any air bubbles trapped in the jelly. It's purely aesthetic, taste will not be affected, of course. 
  6. Chill in the fridge until set. Once set, pry it out gently from mold. If using a square tin or container, tip it out and cut into squares or diamonds. 
  7. To serve, assemble some jelly and longans in a bowl. Pour some longan syrup over and enjoy it cold.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:54 pm

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Mirabila - Garden Verses WIP


Thursday, May 12, 2011


A little while back I mentioned my last completed cross-stitched piece "Poppy" was a warm-up to The Big One. Well, this is it - "Garden Verses" by Mirabilia. I started right after I put the last bead onto "Poppy". Here are progress photos of "Garden Verses". I will add more in due time.

at two weeks


at three weeks

at six weeks (there was a lapse of one week where I didn't get anything done)

For my non-stitching readers, WIP is short for Work In Progress. I thought I'd clarify as wip means seesaw in Dutch. According to the Hubby, it's also Dutch slang for something rude but I choose not to remember what.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 8:23 am

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Ginger Snaps


Sunday, May 01, 2011




I chanced upon this recipe years ago and it's been my to-go place whenever I need a ginger snap fix. In the past (as in living in Singapore), I used to scratch my itch with Marks and Spencer's ginger snaps. In the Netherlands it was a totally different matter. There wasn't a Marks and Sparks there and even worse, not a sign of ginger biscuits, snaps or otherwise to be seen on the supermarket shelves. The horror!

So in keeping with the if you can't buy it, make it yourself mentality I've developed over the years from living overseas, I started sourcing for a suitable recipe.

And I found this gem from allrecipes.


Everything about it was perfect except for the spice factor. If it was there, I totally missed it. Being Peranakan, my taste buds have been conditioned from birth to expect fireworks in the form of spices and flavour in my daily food.  And that goes double for  cakes and desserts. Anyway, after a few trials and hundreds of biscuits later, I got the measurements correct and I've been using the recipe since. Flash forward and we currently reside in Singapore.  I've on a few occasions, skipped over the ginger snaps from Marks and Sparks in favour of my home-baked ones. That's how much I love them.

In this instance, I baked two versions: sugar coated for me and plain for the Son. Flavour wise it's the same both ways. On the matter of texture, the sugar coated snaps are satisfyingly crunchy. The plain ones soft and chewy. I am partial to crunchy.


And just for my own amusement, I gathered some dough and made three of these:


I never got to frost the cuties though because, faster than you can say gingerbread man, a certain eleven year gobbled them up.

"Look mum! No head!"

Below is my spiced up version of the ginger snaps. I have highlighted the changes in red. For the original recipe, please click here.


Ginger Snaps (all spiced up and ready to roll)


You Need:

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground allspice
4-5 tablespoon ground ginger
1/3 cup white sugar for decoration

You Do:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, oil, molasses, and egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, allspice and ginger; stir into the molasses mixture. Roll dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll each ball in white sugar before placing 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in preheated oven, or until center is firm. Cool on wire racks.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:33 am

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Dutchess' Chicken and Pasta Bake


Saturday, April 30, 2011



Well praise be the kitchen gods! Finally, a food entry. And about time too. To end the drought, I thought I would offer up this little concoction of mine. It's the Son's current favourite and he deigns to consume even the odd couple of carrots and mushrooms. On the subject of Vegetables one must pry his mouth open to get them down and even then, it's not always a sure thing. I suspect in this dish, the carrots and mushrooms being drowned in cream and cheese, makes it somewhat palatable for him.


I personally can't handle more than a few mouthfuls of this, it's too rich for me but goes down quite the treat for the two men. And that is why, more often than not, I cook two sets of meals. Conflict in taste-buds and all that.

Some of the following ingredients will have no measurements for I measure them out by sight and the all important taste test. This may cause inconvenience to some of you so you can do what I do: When in doubt, start with half a teaspoon and work from there. Unless it's salt or pepper, then it's pinch, pinch, pinch all the way.


Dutchess' Chicken and Pasta Bake



You Need:

1 medium sized chicken breast diced into 1" cubes
300g of penne cooked to al dente
1 small carrot, skinned and thinly sliced
250g of white button mushroom, thinly sliced
1 tsp of chopped garlic
chicken stock; cube or powder
1 bay leaf
parsley, finely chopped (dried version is good too)
thyme, finely chopped                    "
salt and pepper
300ml thickened cream
olive oil for sauteing
mozzarella cheese, grated
red cheddar cheese, grated

You Do:
  1. Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium fire. Brown chicken cubes to seal in flavour. When chicken turns a light golden brown, add chopped garlic, sliced carrots and mushrooms. 
  2. Stir fry until carrots and mushrooms start to soften. Add a bit of water to prevent things from drying out. Add chicken stock, bay leaf, parsley and thyme. Saute some more till cooked.
  3. Pour thickened cream and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cooked penne and give the whole lot a big stir. Turn off fire.
  4. Divide penne into three or four different oven-proof bowls. Set aside.
  5. Spread a layer of red cheddar and mozzarella cheeses over the penne. Amount depends on how much you love your cheese. 
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 30 minutes or until a deep golden brown.
Lekker!

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 2:58 pm

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Belated Happy Dance


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I am two months late with this Happy Dance. Truth is, I'd taken the photos the day after it was completed but never got round to uploading it. Anyway, here it is, from Nora Corbett's Pixie Couture, may I present you Poppy in all her sophisticated glory:






I enjoyed this so much because of all the different reds involved. Red, as you know, is my favourite colour. Then there was also the beading and metallic threads. Thanks to chicchicbaby for this birthday chart. Hope I've done it justice.

Note: For fellow stitchers who like to know these things, this piece was stitched on 32 count Lugana.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 5:57 am

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I Did Not Photoshop This!


Friday, March 25, 2011


Went to the common bathroom where all medicinal lotions and potions are kept to get some ointment for the mosquito bites I sustained while out earlier. Yours truly is the local blood bar everywhere she goes. Opened the door and hey presto, this greeted me:


4 o'clock sunlight + perfect angle = GLOWING TOILET BOWL!


Enjoy your weekend everyone!

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 9:25 am

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Someone Needs A Haircut


Thursday, February 10, 2011



The Son, that is. He's running around looking like a monchichi.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:47 am

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