Brownie Points

A few weeks ago I made the best brownies ever. I was in the mood for brownies but couldn’t decide which ones to make, until me and my friend came across these in a recipe book. They are called chocolate cheesecake brownies, and they have a layer of cheesecake mix swirled through the brownie batter. Cheesecake and brownies are two of my most favourite baked goods, so I was really excited to see how these would turn out. The recipe was very simple and didn’t take much time at all to make, and swirling the cheesecake mix was so satisfying and looked pretty going into the oven! I was really pleased with how these brownies turned out; the consistency was perfect, just that little bit gooey in the middle, and they looked very impressive despite being so easy to make. If you’re a cheesecake fan you should definitely give these a go! I used Philadelphia cheese this time in an attempt to save myself some money, and the flavour wasn’t quite as rich as when I used mascarpone to make a cheesecake. If you have money to burn I would recommend using mascarpone, you just can’t beat that flavour πŸ™‚ Here’s the recipe for chocolate cheesecake brownies, my new favourite brownies EVER!

Ingredients

For the cheesecake mixture:

  • 1 large egg
  • 225g full-fat cream cheese
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the brownie mixture:

  • 115g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 50g plain flour

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 140 (fan)/160C/325F/gas mark 3. Line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
  • To make the cheesecake mixture, beat the egg in a mixing bowl, then add the cream cheese, caster sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy.

  • To make the brownie mixture, melt the chocolate and butter together in a microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat, stir well, then add the sugar. Add the eggs, a little at a time, and beat well. Gently fold in the flour.

  • Spread two-thirds of the brownie mixture over the base of the tin. Spread the cheesecake mixture on top, then spoon on the remaining brownie mixture in heaps. Using a skewer, swirl the mixtures together.

  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, until just set in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin, then cut into squares.

Recipe from ‘The Cookie and Biscuit Bible’, with recipes by Joanna Farrow and Valerie Barrett.

My work rota has been a bit unforgiving as of late, so I’ve not had much time to bake or cook anything. However, I have five days off in a row starting this Friday, so I plan to spend a lot of time in the kitchen! I’m going to make my Grandad something chocolatey for his birthday; maybe a cheesecake or some biscuits. Still undecided at the moment. I want to try some more gluten free recipes as well! Enjoy the rest of your week readers, and happy baking!

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Let Them Eat Cheesecake

Hi there readers. Just a quick post from me today about this lovely Maltesers cheesecake I made a while ago. It was the first time I had ever made a cheesecake, but it was really easy to do and turned out nicely. It tasted so good; I particularly liked the base as it turned out quite chewy because of the Maltesers in it. I used mascarpone cheese which gave it a lovely rich taste, but I might try making another cheesecake using Philadelphia, as 800g of mascarpone turned out to be quite expensive… I want to compare the tastes of both cheesecakes and see which option is best. I had a lot of fun making this cheesecake, and even more fun eating it! I really like baking things with Maltesers in too; I’ve made some Maltesers cupcakes in the past which were yummy, so maybe I’ll make them again soon. I seriously recommend making this cheesecake, it is the ultimate decadent treat! Here’s the recipe, it’s from the Good Food Channel website.

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 125 g melted butter, plus extra for buttering the cake tin
  • 100 g digestive biscuits
  • 200 g Maltesers

For the topping

  • 800 g cream cheese
  • 200 ml soured cream
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 2 drops vanilla extract
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 150 g roughly crushed Maltesers, plus extra whole ones for decoration

Method:

For the base:

  • Butter an 8 inch spring form cake tin with melted butter, then leave to one side until needed. Whizz the base ingredients in a blender until they are like fine breadcrumbs. I don’t have a blender so i just smashed everything with a rolling pin πŸ™‚

  • Pour this crumb mixture into a bowl and add the melted butter. Mix everything together then tip into the spring form cake tin.
  • Press it down so it is level and compact with the back of a large spoon then put the tin in the fridge for a good 30 minutes to firm up.

For the topping:

  • Put the cream cheese, soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat together until combined.
  • In another bowl whisk the double cream until it forms medium peaks. It’s important to get the cream to the right consistency or the cheesecake wont set properly, so make sure you take the time to whisk it enough. Pour the whipped cream in a bowl with the cream cheese, soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla and fold gently together. Add the crushed Maltesers and fold to combine.

  • Take the tin containing the biscuit base from the fridge and tip the creamy mixture over the top of it. Spread it around to level and then bang the tin a couple of times on the work surface to make sure it touches the base mixture evenly and there are no gaps.
  • Place in the fridge for an hour or two to set. Once ready to serve, remove from the fridge and press the Maltesers in to the topping if using. Cut and serve.

This coming week I have a very hectic work schedule, so I will probably have a break from baking and cooking. However, tonight I am making some chocolate cheesecake brownies, so you can expect a post about them when I find the time. Cheesecake and brownies combined, what could be better?! πŸ˜€ Happy baking everyone.

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Chicken and Salad Gohan(d) in Hand

Well I have been seriously rubbish at updating my blog lately! I’ve started teaching piano part-time, so I’m usually either at work or teaching at the moment, which doesn’t leave me much time to sit down and plan out what I’m going to cook. However, yesterday I had some free time so I decided to make a Japanese style chicken and rice salad. I love Japanese food but I barely ever make it, which is something that I need to remedy soon. I’ve tried making makizushi before but it didn’t go very well! Maybe I will try making it again soon. This chicken and rice salad is a very easy and quick dish to make; it’s ideal if you fancy something light and is a nice meal to have during summer. It only takes about 15 minutes to make if you have the chicken ready cooked. The salad has quite a subtle flavour, so you may want to add more mirin to the dressing if you fancy a stronger taste. I think this dish would be nice to take on a picnic, or a good healthy lunch to take into work. It’s so easy to do, I’ll definitely be making this again, and maybe serve it with some tempura or gyoza πŸ˜› Here’s the recipe, it’s from the Good Food Channel website. It will make enough to serve two people.

Ingredients

  • 110 g jasmine rice
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1/3 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 red peppers, diced
  • 85 g cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • salt and black pepper

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp mirin (Japanese rice vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil

Method

  • Put the jasmine rice in a large pan with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the rice is just tender. Drain and leave to stand in a sieve for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through, then transfer to a bowl.
  • To make the dressing, gently warm the rice wine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Add the sunflower oil and stir into the rice.
  • Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Dice the flesh. Stir into the dressed rice together with the spring onions, pepper, chicken and avocado. Season to taste.

I made a Maltesers cheesecake today, so I will post about that tomorrow once I’ve had chance to sample it. It’s still setting in the fridge at the moment, but it looks very yummy! I hope you all have a good weekend, and I promise I will try and update this blog more regularly from now on. Thank you for reading, and happy cooking.

(By the way, gohan means rice in Japanese, hence the title of this blog… I was struggling to come up with a name for this one!)

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Orange You Glad I Made A Green Tea Loaf

Long time no speak readers, I apologise for that but I’ve been doing a lot of shifts at work recently. I thought I’d just do a quick post today about the green tea and orange loaf cake I made a while back. I got the recipe from my Chinese cookbook and thought it sounded yummy, so decided to give it a go. This loaf cake doesn’t contain any flour, ground almonds are used instead, which means it is my first gluten free bake! I really liked the light texture created by the ground almonds, and the taste of them wasn’t overpowering at all. My next challenge is to make something dairy free! Overall, I really enjoyed this cake; it was moist, flavourful and very moreish! Is there anything better than loaf cake? Here’s the recipe for green tea and orange loaf cake. The recipe uses jasmine tea leaves, but I think any other green tea would probably work as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 large orange
  • 1 tsp butter, for greasing
  • 1 tsp plain flour, for dusting
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp jasmine green tea leaves
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Method:

  • Pour 700ml of water into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the orange into the pan and cook on a medium heat, gently boiling, for 1 hour, topping up the water if necessary to keep the fruit submerged.
  • Once the orange is cooked, leave to cool then slice into quarters and remove and discard any pips. Transfer the orange, skin and all, to a food processor and blend to a pulp. (I wasn’t able to do this as I don’t have a food processor, so I had to discard the skin and mash up the flesh of the orange. This worked just as well, but I’m not sure if the cake may have had a more bittersweet flavour with the skin added. If I ever buy a food processor I will make this cake again and see!)
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas mark 4. Grease a 19cm x 9cm loaf tin with the butter and dust with the flour. Alternatively you can line it with greaseproof paper, which is what I did, to make this recipe truly gluten free!
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl, then add the orange pulp and all the remaining cake ingredients and mix to combine (alternatively use a food processor). Pour the batter into the loaf tin and cook in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour until the cake is golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then carefully remove it and cut into thick slices.

Recipe from ‘Chinese Food in Minutes’, with recipes by Ching He Huang.

I will definitely be making this loaf cake again! I haven’t baked much recently, although I did make some chocolate and raspberry cupcakes for a party I went to. I used the same recipe as the Easter cupcakes I made, but put a teaspoon of raspberry jam inside the sponge and topped the cakes with fresh raspberries. I sampled one of them and it got my seal of approval! I love putting jam inside cupcakes, I think it works really well. Next week, I should have more days off to try and bake something interesting (and possibly dairy free), so watch this space. Happy baking readers.

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Curry My Favour

Hello again readers, I hope you’ve all had a great week! I’ve not been too busy this week with work, and I’m starting some volunteer work next week teaching singing, so I’m very excited and happy. I’ve been using my Chinese cookbook again to cook up some tasty treats in the kitchen. Yesterday I made a curry chicken stir fry, which turned out really well. The chicken definitely had quite a spicy kick to it; I think I’m using slightly too much chilli bean paste, so even though I enjoy the spiciness, next time I will add a bit less, as it can be a bit overpowering. The dish of curry chicken was so pretty and colourful; the purple onions, green spring onions and spicy orange of the marinated chicken really caught the eye. The chicken was cooked by poaching it in stock, which is a great way to cook chicken, because the meat soaks up all the flavour of the stock and is so tender. I’ve only ever poached chicken once before when making noodle soup, but I want to cook it like this a lot more, because it’s healthier than frying. My Chinese recipe book said to use the poaching liquid to pour over and moisten the rice, but I decided to serve it as a soup side dish, and I added some spinach to it because my family really like spinach. I’m not sure how well the stock worked as a soup; it was quite refreshing but may have lacked flavour somewhat. I think I should have added some more ginger to it! However, the curry chicken stir fry is definitely my favourite Chinese meal I have made so far, because it looked so appealing and had a fantastic flavour, with a spicy kick that was a treat for the taste buds! If you need a pick me up after a hard week, give this chicken a go, you won’t be disappointed. You could serve it with the stock as a soup as I did, or with some garlic spinach or garlic pak choy mushrooms. Any kind of rice will work well with this curry chicken stir fry; I served mine with plain rice, but jasmine rice or egg fried rice would be just as good! The original recipe is to serve 2, but this version has doubled amounts, so it will serve 3 to 4 people.

Ingredients

  • 500g skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced at an angle into 4cm strips
  • 2 handfuls of bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • sea salt and ground white pepper

For the spice marinade

  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon medium curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons chilli bean paste (put less in if you don’t want it too spicy!)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine

For the stock

  • 200g Chinese leaves, washed and shredded
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 spring onions, sliced lengthways into 5 cm strips
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients for the spice marinade in a bowl and set aside.

  • Bring a pan of water to the boil, add all the ingredients for the stock and bring back to the boil.
  • Turn the heat down to a simmer, add the chicken breasts and poach for 25 minutes. Remove any scum from the top of the stock while cooking. Season with salt and white pepper.

  • Remove the cooked chicken breasts and, when cool enough to handle, shred into bite sized chunks. Keep the stock on a very low heat and toss the chicken in the spice marinade.

  • Heat a wok over a medium heat and add the groundnut oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add the red onions and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the spiced chicken and stir well, then add the red peppers, spring onions and bean sprouts and stir fry for 1 minute. Season with soy sauce. Serve immediately with your choice of rice and a bowl of hot stock to ladle onto the rice to moisten it. Alternatively, serve the stock as a soup side dish.

Recipe from ‘Chinese Food in Minutes’, with recipes by Ching He Huang.

Tomorrow I’m going to make an orange and green tea loaf cake, which I’m pretty excited about! I love green tea but I don’t drink enough of it lately. Jasmine tea is a particular favourite of mine, and that’s the type of tea that goes into the loaf cake, so I should really enjoy the taste of it, if all goes well. Stay tuned to see how it turns out. I hope you have a great weekend, and happy cooking everyone!

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Belated Father’s Day Cupcakes

Hi there readers, I hope you all had a good weekend. I finally got round to making some baked goods last week! I decided to make some cupcakes that I was originally planning to make for Father’s Day, but since I was working I didn’t have time. I made two different flavours of cupcake, and gave them to my Dad and Grandad as a belated Father’s Day present. They were very well received and I had a lot of fun making them! I made malted cupcakes with marshmallow icing, and raspberry cupcakes with white chocolate butter cream, using recipes from my cupcake Bible, Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery. Soon I will have made every cupcake in that book! I sampled each cupcake I made, and my particular favourite was the malted marshmallow. The raspberry ones were nice too, but I’m a sucker for marshmallow! My brother tried a malted cupcake, and said it was ‘awesome’, high praise indeed from him! Here are the recipes for the cupcakes, you should definitely give them a go.

1. Malted cupcakes with marshmallow icing

I’m not really sure why I picked this type of cupcake to make for my Dad; I think it’s because I was interested to see how homemade marshmallow would turn out, as well as find out what Ovaltine would be like to bake with. I was a little bit apprehensive about the marshmallow but it’s actually really easy to make! It’s consistency is like that Marshmallow Fluff stuff you can get, so I’m happy because I love Marshmallow Fluff, but it can be hard to find in the UK. Now I can just make it myself! πŸ˜€ The malted flavour of the Ovaltine came through quite well in the sponge, but I think I may have added a touch too much vanilla essence… I spent a fiver on a big bottle of some really good quality Madagascan vanilla essence, and it has quite a strong flavour, so I should probably use a little less than the recipe says. The sponge was a little stickier than some of the other cupcakes I’ve made, but it was lovely and moist inside πŸ™‚ Overall, I’m really pleased how these cupcakes turned out and I think they may have knocked peanut butter cupcakes from my number one spot! This recipe makes 12 regular sized cupcakes.

Ingredients

For the sponge:

  • 110g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 120g light soft brown sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g self raising flour, sifted
  • 60g plain flour, sifted
  • 50g Ovaltine powder
  • 125ml semi-skimmed milk at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream

For the marshmallow icing:

  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the sponge:

  • Preheat the oven to 160C (fan)/180C/250F/gas mark 4 and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until pale and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.
  • Combine the flours and Ovaltine in a separate bowl. Mix the milk, vanilla essence and sour cream in a jug. Add one third of the flour and Ovaltine to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one third of the milk and beat again. Repeat until all the flour and milk has been added.

  • Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two thirds full. It is quite a runny batter so be careful! Bake for about 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown, or until a skewer inserted into a cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for about 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool. Ice once they are completely cool.

To make the marshmallow icing:

  • Cook the sugar, golden syrup and water in a saucepan over a high heat until it boils which should take about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks start to form. With the blades still beating on a low speed, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup in a steady stream onto the egg whites. Continue to beat on a low speed until all the syrup is added.
  • Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until thick, glossy and cool. Add the vanilla extract towards the end of the mixing process.

Β 

2. Raspberry cupcakes with white chocolate butter cream

My Grandad loves raspberries, so I thought he would enjoy these. He also loves chocolate too! These cupcakes were very easy to make; a similar method is used for the strawberries and cream cupcakes I made not too long ago. I particularly enjoyed swirling the raspberry jam through the batter, it looked so pretty! The butter cream turned out great, lovely and smooth; I think it’s the best butter cream I’ve made so far. My electric mixer helps to get the right consistency. I used good quality white chocolate that is made in Wales, as I thought my Grandad would appreciate that πŸ™‚ These cupcakes also turned out really well, the sponge was moist and the jam inside worked nicely with the creaminess of the butter cream. I think that I could have added a little bit more jam into the middle of the cakes though. These cakes are a really nice treat to have during the summer, but I wouldn’t keep them for too long at room temperature because the butter cream contains double cream. They probably won’t last long anyway, though! πŸ˜‰ The recipe makes 12 regular sized cupcakes.

Ingredients

For the sponge:

  • 110g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g self raising flour, sifted
  • 120g plain flour, sifted
  • 125ml semi-skimmed milk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons good quality seedless raspberry jam, plus more for the inside of the cakes (1 teaspoon per cake)

For the butter cream:

  • 100g good quality white chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 60g vanilla butter cream (see this blog post for how to make it, use half the specified amounts though)
  • 3 tablespoons double cream
  • fresh raspberries for decoration (2 for each cake)

To make the sponge:

  • Preheat the oven to 160C (fan)/180C/250F/gas mark 4 and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.

  • Combine the two flours in another bowl. Put the milk in a jug and add the vanilla extract to it. Add one third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added.
  • Gently fold in the jam until mostly combined. You should have some jam streaks running through the mixture, not an evenly coloured batter.

  • Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two thirds full. Bake for about 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack. Once they are cooled, cut a small hole in the centre of each cake using a sharp knife and place a teaspoon of jam inside. If the jam is not soft enough, warm it slightly in a saucepan first.

To make the butter cream:

  • Melt the chocolate in a saucepan under a very low heat. Be careful as white chocolate can seize easily. Stir it occasionally until completely melted and smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
  • Once the chocolate is cool, combine all the ingredients and beat well until smooth and creamy. Use immediately. Top the cupcakes with some fresh raspberries.

Β 

Recipe from ‘Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery’, with recipes by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas.

I think I might buy another Primrose Bakery book; everything I have ever made of theirs has turned out to be fantastic and so very delicious, so I would relish having some more of their recipes to try. I want to try and make some more layer cakes and try my hand at making PΓ’tisserie style sweets soon. My boyfriend’s birthday is coming up, so I need to decide what to make him! Maybe something with peanut butter πŸ˜‰

I’m running the Race for Life this coming Sunday, so I probably won’t get chance to bake anything this week, but stay tuned though as I’m going to make another loaf cake soon. Have a great week readers! Happy baking.

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Hot Hot Beef

Hello there readers, I hope you all had a good weekend. It’s been a fair while since I last posted, so I apologise for that. I’ve not had many days off work recently, but I finished early yesterday so I managed to do a bit of cooking at last! I made something from my Chinese cookbook called Chongqing beef. I hadn’t made anything with beef in for ages, and the recipe seemed like it would be pretty spicy, so I thought it would be good to perk me up after a shift at work. The meal turned out a LOT spicier than the chilli chicken I made last time, but it was really yummy. My parents seemed to enjoy it and it certainly blew the cobwebs away! I made garlic spinach again too, because it is so simple to make and tastes delicious. You can see the recipe for it here. I also served some egg noodles with the Chongqing beef, but I think egg fried rice may have been a better choice. If you fancy something flavourful and spicy, then this meal is for you! Here’s the recipe for Chongqing beef:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 250g beef fillet, sliced into strips
  • 1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon chilli bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 large handful of long dried chillies or chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Chinkiang black rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • a dash of toasted sesame oil
  • a dash of chilli oil
  • 1 handful of dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

Method:

  • Heat a wok over a high heat and add the groundnut oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add the beef slices and stir fry for 30 seconds. As the beat starts to turn brown, add the rice wine or sherry.
  • Season the beef with the chilli bean paste and stir well, then add the Sichuan peppercorns and dried chillies and stir fry on a medium heat for 1 minute.

  • Season with the vinegar and soy sauce, then take off the heat and add a drizzle of sesame oil and chilli oil. Sprinkle with the peanuts and coriander. Transfer to a serving plate, serve with noodles or egg fried rice and eat immediately.

Recipe from ‘Chinese Food in Minutes’, with recipes by Ching He Huang.

I really enjoy making things from my Chinese cookbook because they take hardly any time to do and always taste amazing. I think next time I might have a go at making hot and sour soup or dumplings for a starter, with a curry chicken stir fry, but I might change my mind as the week goes on. I still really want to make Mapo Dofu too… my Dad doesn’t like tofu much though, so I might make it for my boyfriend next time he comes to stay. I haven’t baked anything in ages, so I will have to set aside one of my days off to make something sweet, maybe a green tea loaf cake! Hope you have a great week readers, and eat lots!

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