Food. Lifestyle. Love

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Recipe: Pumpkin brownies

It was Eid al-Adha last Monday, and yesterday some of the Malaysian students in the Netherlands came to our lil city for celebration. We booked the bbq pit on campus, and brought lots of food (like always), and the guys started grilling the delicious sate and other marinated meat.

The food was awesome (thanks guys!) I even prepared brownies and pumpkin brownies for dessert. I had the pumpkin puree stored in the freezer, and I thought this would be the perfect time to use it since fall is coming *wohoo*!

The texture is like a mix of pie and brownies. It is dense and creamy. I love the touch of the spices in it along with the sourish taste of the cream cheese.

Choose the pumpkin variety suitable for baking. The one usually sold in the grocery store in the Netherlands is the variety suitable for making soup (less sweet, more watery). I bought several pumpkin varieties last year from a nearby farm, and I kept the leftover baked flesh in the freezer in case I feel like eating pumpkin pie one day haha.

Pumpkin brownies
[click for printable version]


800 g pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar*
5 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sunflower oil

For the cream cheese marble:
300 g cream cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar*

*adjust the sugar based on your liking


  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C. Line a rectangular baking pan with a baking paper, set aside. 
  2. Combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, eggs, the spices and salt in a large bowl and by using the hand blender, mix until smooth. 
  3. Mix the flour, cream, baking powder and oil with the rest of the ingredient. Mix using a rubber spatula and spread the batter into the baking pan.
  4. Combine the cream cheese, egg, and sugar in another small bowl. Put a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture onto the batter, and by using the back of a spoon, spread the cream cheese with the batter to get the marbling effect.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the brownies come out clean.

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Monday, 25 July 2016

Recipe: Matcha cinnamon rolls

It finally feels like summer here. The weather has been sunny for many days after the continuous rain. I could wear my flip flops, wear sunglasses, and not wear any jacket. As funny as it sounds like, it is hard to experience real summer here. Once you have it, you just have to make out the best of it. 

Ph.D. life is good. I love doing my work, and I have many friends that I can talk. Whenever the weather is warm and sunny, I and my peeps will eat outside, sit on the grass, and enjoy the sun. We talk about our work, life, and bull shit stuff. We have different nationalities, and we always make fun of the stereotypes that we have about one culture to another. Ahh...I just love hanging out with them (you know who you are ;) ). 

If there's anything that I miss about my home country when living abroad, it will be about my family, nature, and food. Well...I can't do much with the first two, but I always try my best to prepare food that I miss so much or recreate something that reminds me of home.

So okay, matcha is not something common back home, but I love the flavour, and I try to create something new out of it. If only matcha is not expensive here (then again, what is cheap here? oh yeah...dairy products..), I would go crazy inventing more matcha based food. Anyway, this is one of them. If you like to have stronger matcha taste, just put extra matcha powder. 

Matcha cinnamon rolls


3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter
180 ml buttermilk, room temperature
4 cups flour, or more
1 tablespoon matcha powder
1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
100 gm milk chocolate bar, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons butter, melted

100 gm white chocolate
200 gm cream cheese
3 teaspoons matcha powder

  1. In the stand mixer with the dough attachment, whisk the eggs, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add 2 cups flour, matcha powder, yeast and salt, whisk until combined. Add more flour on low speed for about 10 minutes until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds using hands. 
  2. Lightly oil a large bowl, and transfer the mixture into the bowl. Cover and let it rise for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  3.  In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and brown sugar together, set aside.
  4. Butter a large baking pan. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a rectangle. Roll into an 18 x 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter, and sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Rearrange the milk chocolate onto the dough, and roll the dough into a tight cylinder. 
  5. Cut the dough into 12 rolls. Rearrange them in the baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. Fill a shallow pan with hot water and set it at the bottom of the oven. Take out the rolls from the fridge and place it on the rack above the hot water. Turn on the oven to 160 C and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Melt the white chocolate in a microwave and combine it with the cream cheese and matcha powder. Pour the icing onto the freshly baked rolls. Serve immediately

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Monday, 29 February 2016

His big fat Greek 'wedding'

" are going to be my paranymph"

.......WHAT?!! I had to think twice if what I heard was real...and it was

Christos, a colleague cum friend. We started to become close during our conference trip in Bordeaux last year. He's a very friendly person and a sweet guy. It was quite a shocked for me to hear his request,  but I was honored.

To be a paranymph is a big job, especially if you are close to that person. Me and Cynara, the other paranymph, started coming up with ideas about a month before Christos's big day. We want to make it as cheesy and memorable as possible, because we know he likes it that way :P

We contacted few people in our department to help out, and we decided to make a parody movie about him.

Well you see...Christos is a very smart guy and he is born to be a scientist, but at the same time he is also funny in his own way - especially when it comes to food, alcohol and his honesty!

Manos, another Greek in the department, was chosen to act as Christos. We came out few stories based on real life incidents with Christos (with some exaggeration) and the recording was done when he was not in the office.

A night before his defense, I had two nightmares: I cannot read the propositions properly and somebody edited the movie that we made. I was soo nervous that I just had to tell to one or two (well maybe six) people. Peter help me with pronouncing the word correctly, and I spent quite some time rehearsing reading Christos's thesis propositions loudly and clearly. "Why in the hell do you have eight freaking propositions!" I told myself repeatedly.

Christos was really calm on the stage, and he can answer all the opponents questions calmly and articulately. I tried to put myself in his shoes, if it was me, how would I answer those questions. Just the thought and the fact I was waiting for the opponents to ask me reading one of the propositions made my palms sweaty......LIKE HELL!! You have no idea how many times I swept out the sweat onto my dress, which was very obvious btw if you keep looking at me up there.

Christos accompanied by the Lovely Paranymphs; Cynara and me.
-Photo by Cynara-

All the nerve wrecking moment (for me) ended smoothly. In the end none of the opponents ask me to read his propositions (hahaha WTH..) and Christos received very good grades for his performance. He was not nervous at all, and I wonder where he got that self confidence from..

After the defense! Finally I was able to laugh haha!
-Photo by Cynara-

Gerard, his supervisor, gave very heart warming and touching speech. I almost cried, but kept my composure.

I headed home early after the reception. We had to assemble his 'wedding', married to the university, cake at the restaurant. I made two-tier chocolate cake for him, and I put plenty of chocolates on the cake, and a handmade fondant Smurf figurine as the topper.

Christos with his 'wedding' cake :)
-Photo by me-

The dinner was something that I didn't really expect. There was plenty of Greek food with loud live performance  throughout the LONG dinner. People were dancing in between the course, and at the latter part Christos's dad started doing a one man dance which was a surprised for me because he looked expressionless throughout the dinner.

The fact that he got up and dance was not really what I had in mind. I was told by another Greek that he's dancing a difficult traditional one man dance, which the dancer dance freely expressing himself. Suddenly I was shocked  hearing the sound of crashing plates. He started breaking the plates...and the dance and the plate breaking continued from one Greek guy to another. "Oh boy...I feel like I'm in the 'My big fat Greek wedding' movie" I told myself.

Anyhow the defense, party, and the surprise that we prepared for him ended well. He liked the movie *wohoo* and I hope he likes the cheesy photo album containing  pictures and messages that we prepared for him.

Congrats again Dr. Christos! You deserve it :)

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