Oh Sweet Day!

Mini Coconut Cream Puff

September 28, 2015 by Fanny | 8 Comments


Happy Monday! My weekend was completed with a Moon Festival family dinner, a hotpot dinner, some leftovers and non-stop eating these mini cream puffs.

When I was a kid, Moon Festival was a big deal. A lot of home-cooked Chinese food, fresh fruits, moon cakes (although I am not a big fan), small and giant lanterns…The most important part of this festival though is that kids were literally allowed to play with fire! We used to be crazy about lighting candles, let the wax drip in an empty moon cake tin, and re-boil the wax inside. Thinking back now, I don’t understand why I found it fun. But kids are kind of hard to explain sometimes. This absurd wax-boiling activity was dangerous as kids could easily get burnt. It also left a big mess on the street considered how much work it involved to scrap the leftover wax from the ground. Being said that, this activity is one of my most vivid childhood memories of what Moon Festival used to be like in my home town!


Now let’s talk about these cream puffs. Like I said, I am not a fan of moon cakes, so we had these for dessert during our Moon Festival dinner. Cream puffs are extremely easy to make. The shells might look intimating to work with, but it’s not! The whole process requires stove-top cooking, food processor blending and oven baking. Well, it sound like a lot of work. But all it takes is dish washing. Honestly I can’t see how you can fail that! The filling can be pastry cream, whipped cream or even ice cream if you are done spending time on making the cream puff shells.


Ingredients (36 mini cream puffs):

Coconut Pastry Cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
Cream Puff Shells
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
Ganache Topping
100 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut


To prepare pastry cream, cook milk, coconut milk, coconut and salt in a saucepan over medium heat to bring the mixture just to a boil. Stir occasionally.

While the milk is cooking, in a bowl whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the mixture becomes pale. Add cornstarch and flour, mix until smooth.

Slowly add 1/3 of milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the milk-egg mixture back to the saucepan. Cook over low heat and whisk continuously until the custard is thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour the custard through the sieve and into a bowl.

Let cool for 15 minutes. Put a plastic wrap right on top of the cream to prevent skin forming. Refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

To prepare cream puff shells, preheat oven to 400F. Grease two 24-cup or one 48-cup mini muffin tin.

Bring water, butter and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and comes together in a ball, about 2 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to a food processor. Beat in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each egg addition. The mixture will become smooth and glossy.

Scoop a tablespoon into each muffin tin. Use a wet finger to smooth out any rough spots on top of the dough.

Bake for 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

Remove the pan from oven. Immediately use a toothpick to pierce the side of each cream puff, pull it out of the tin and onto a wire rack to let cool completely.

To prepare ganache, place the chocolate, heavy cream and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a wooden spoon until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly.

To assemble, cut a slit in a cream puff shell, fill with one tablespoon pastry cream. Grab it with its bottom, dip it in ganache to coat the top, let excess drip off. Place on a serving plan and sprinkle with coconut. Repeat with the rest.

Store cream puff in refrigerator before serving.

Blueberry Streusel Muffin

September 22, 2015 by Fanny | 9 Comments


So my last kid has started kindergarten. And lunch/snack packing has become one hell of a job in the morning. You know when you are making breakfast, getting your kids to brush teeth, change, not play, sit down to finish breakfast, not fool around, get in the damn car… all at the same time. It’s quite hard to squeeze in another task called “lunch packing”. Except I have to squeeze it in.

Starting this week, I’ve started to get some packing done the night before. It helps because saving that few minutes in an average school morning is incredibly crucial!


Same as after-school snack. Two kids require some real-deal snack. My girl is always good at eating. Such a blessing considered how horrendous it was for me to deal with my son’s not-eating habit when he was younger. Now that they are full-geared eating, after-school snack can not be a joke anymore, although it has never been.


Ingredients (12 regular size cupcakes):

2 cups all-purposed flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
half stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375F. Grease muffin tin or line with muffin liners.

To prepare the topping, combine all the streusel ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined. Whisk in sour cream, oil and vanilla.

Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture. Mix with a spatula until moistened.

Gently fold in 1 1/2 cups blueberries.

Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full with the batter.

Cover the batter with the remaining blueberries. Sprinkle around 1 tablespoon of the streusel on top of each muffin.

Bake until risen and browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

To Ethan and Maya – My first tenth

September 17, 2015 by Fanny | 9 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

Today I turned 41. This month also marks my tenth year in Canada.

The first time I went back to Hong Kong after I moved here was the “reconnection” with my mother whom I hadn’t seen for ten years. The second time was early last year when I first met my twin nieces.

Hong Kong seemed so much smaller, more confined, more dense. But I still remember I cried my eyes out when I had to say goodbye to this place. My heart broke into pieces when I had to say goodbye to my family and friends. I loved living in Hong Kong and the life I’d created there, but ten years later I can’t help but look at it with a totally transformed set of eyes, so much joy and pain and struggle and triumph between the woman I am now and the girl I was then.

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Happy birthday to this!


To Ethan and Maya – Summer 2015

September 15, 2015 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

To sum up our summer, may I say how good it feels to finally say goodbye to sunscreen!

Only hearing the word “sunscreen” is almost enough to make me wish for snow. Because applying it to you is like trying to wrangle an angry, writhing snake. Worst part of summer and I really love summer!

“Stand still,” “hold your arms out,” and “chin up,” are impossible actions for you. Most of the time I was like, “Okay kids, come over here so I can torture you in the name of preventing skin cancer.” And then we would go sit in the sun dreading every single second that passed as it meant we’re getting closer to having to reapply sunscreen. And we’d been doing it since May! Such a long torturing summer!


I won’t lie and pretend like I wasn’t ready for school and maybe snow to start again but, kids, we had a great summer!

Although I’ve lived in Vancouver BC for ten years, I have never tried camping. In fact if I didn’t have you both, I would never ever bother to even think about it. I grew up in a city, the only thing that could get me camping would be to bring my own bathroom. So yes, a serious toilet problem! But kids are crazy about camping. How adventurous it sounds to walk half a mile to a toilet at 3am and find out it’s even more fun to pee behind a bush next to it!

So when our friend, AK, confirmed us that they were going to fly over with her kids Zach and Katie to stay with us for two weeks in August, we decided to go camping with them. I truly understand that kids grow fast, and we should make sacrifice now and ease life later, but that toilet anxiety of mine, damn it!


Thank god for your aunt Karin and her husband Brian who suggested bringing us along to their friend’s cabin by Glimpse Lake, Merritt. How did they know that I’d rather chew off my own arm than go camping? Except this exact thing wouldn’t be out of ordinary for a planned camping activity. Now we don’t have to worry about it until next summer. Now we have our own toilet!

From time to time last year Brian would show us pictures of the beautiful lake where the cabin is sitting by to assure me that the peace comes with no Internet, no TV and no phone. And they had survived blazing 40 degree temperatures and the world’s most ferocious mosquitoes. It might be hard for us to endure, especially given that this summer had been unseasonably warm. He warned us, “IT IS GOING TO BE HOT!”

AK was too excited to care about the terrifying details after she saw the pictures of the lake. A dream-come-true experience for her family that they might not be able to arrange on their own. So here we go!

Our 4-hour drive took us to this cabin, a beautiful combination of rustic and comfort. Kitchen, bathroom, a dock, few boats, and windows overlooking the most surreal lake scenery that I’d never been so close to. The cabin owners just got every detail right and then some. Tucked under a canopy of lush, thick woods, it really did feel like we were a world away having a storybook vacation in a cabin. I fell in love with this place right away. It didn’t feel like camping at all, and for that I was grateful. My arm and my butt were very grateful.




So we spent a few days there sunbathing, fishing, boating and toad catching. For me, unplugging and lake-watching mostly, because I wasn’t strong enough to brave the ice cold water like you kids did!

Katie was the craziest one. She’d beg to go swimming, completely lose her mind after five seconds in the water and then belligerently demand to be carried out. Seeing as Katie is a water dog, had the lake been warmer she would have submerged herself for hours. And Maya, you had watched Katie and demanded to sit on a floating tube. This didn’t surprise me given your personality, but I thought that once you got out there and experienced the coldness you’d be all OH MY GOD WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO. Except right now I don’t think you will ever in your life say those words. Instead you were just sitting there smiling, giggling and squealing, while I was getting myself prepared to carry you directly to a warm bath.




One of the many firsts for you kids on this trip was fishing on a boat. You guys took turns as passengers while Brian steered the boat. He also showed you how to cast a fishing rod. And Ethan, you almost took out three eyeballs while getting the hang of it. You were a little impatient and wanted to catch a fish immediately. More than appropriate when I was relaxing on the cabin patio, I could hear you and Maya moaning, and the echoes of “UGHHHHHH!!! Where are the fishhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh???” bounced back and forth across the lake.



Of all the activities surrounding this visit to a lake, you guys have taken to toad catching the most. Thanks to Zach who was literally spending the whole trip doing nothing but catching toads! He would make a good career being a toad catcher considered his persistence. The first day we arrived there, it was chilly and rainy that it’s impossible for us to do any water activities. I guess the wet weather helped to incubate a large number of toads on the lawn that if you step on it you would easily kill a few of them. So Zach decided to “save” them and the next thing I know is the whole gang followed suit. Each one of you grabbed a bucket from the shed and started collecting them. I’d been refusing to get involved. Like when Ethan, you asked me to come and look at that huge toad you got, I’d be all, “That’s okay, Ethan! Try to get another one big enough for dissection!”




I decided to take that one look at the buckets on the last day of the trip. And HOLY GOD! A few days in and you guys got a truck load of toads ready to be minced and cooked and served with pasta for the whole village! Seriously, if you take a closer look at that pile of amphibians in the bucket, you could see a few of them twirling their peers over their heads!








I was really trying to unplug and relax for a few days, and this place couldn’t possibly provide a more perfect environment for doing so. Families, friends, kids sharing life on life. This trip has given us a lot of wonderful memories. This trip has given you kids a taste of life on the water. I totally understand how anyone who has grown up with that kind of recreation at their doorstep might never want to leave it. And I can’t thank Brian, Karin and AK enough for helping us to create them. I hope it will become our annual trek to this same little nook on Glimpse Lake.


I’ve mentioned how I never like to hear you whine, but when the refrain is, “But I don’t want to leave!” I have to feel gratified that I was able to give you that feeling.


Coconut Crepe Cake

September 14, 2015 by Fanny | 6 Comments


Guys like coconut. It’s well proven considered all the males I know love dessert in coconut flavour. Except my son. Well, he doesn’t even like chocolate. So he is an abnormal human being that we don’t have to pay attention to at this point.

My husband is a coconut lover. When it comes to his birthday cake, it’s pretty simple for me to ride on something coconuty. I was also thinking something different from what we usually have at home, like coconut cream pie, coconut cake, coconut macaroons. So when that Instagram picture of a Lady M crepe cake came across my eyes the other day, I was like Bingo! Let’s do a coconut crepe cake.


I’ve been making crepe cakes for quite a while. It’s not a big challenge for me. And in fact I was quite proud to improvise something and came up with a whipped cream frosting to make it a little special.


Not sure if Lady M has their own coconut crepe cake. But they totally should!


My son didn’t take a single bite. No! Here he’s just wanting to blow the candle, then headed back to the backyard!

Ingredients (7-inch 20-layer cake):

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 1/3 cups milk
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Coconut Pastry Cream
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut 
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sweetened coconut, lightly toasted


To prepare crepe batter, mix melted butter, milk, eggs, flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Cover the batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or up to 2 days.

To prepare coconut pastry cream, cook coconut milk, whole milk, coconut and salt in a saucepan over medium heat to bring the mixture just to a boil. Stir occasionally.

While the milk is cooking, in a bowl whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the mixture becomes pale. Add cornstarch and flour, mix until smooth.

Slowly add 1/3 of milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the milk-egg mixture back to the saucepan. Cook over low heat and whisk continuously until the custard is thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour the custard through the sieve and into a bowl to make it super smooth.

Let cool for 15 minutes. Put a plastic wrap right on top of the cream to prevent skin forming. Refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

To prepare crepes, heat a 7-inch skillet over medium-high heat with a light coating of oil. Pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet, swirling it until it evenly coats the bottom. Let it cook undisturbed until the bottom is golden and the top is set, about a minute. Carefully flip to another side and cook for 15 to 20 seconds. Transfer the crepe to a baking sheet to cool. Continue with the remaining batter. It’s fine to stack the crepes to cool completely.

To assemble the cake, lay first crepe on the serving plate and spread with 2 to 3 tablespoons pastry cream. Repeat with all the crepes until you place the last crepe.

To prepare frosting, whip the whipping cream and powdered sugar until it holds firm peaks.

Smear a thick layer of whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake. Cover the cake with toasted coconut.

Chill the cake in fridge before serving.

To Ethan and Maya – Your 41-year-old father

September 11, 2015 by Fanny | 3 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

Your father turned 41 today. I remember one time when we were watching a movie with a scene where people were doing sky-diving or sky-gliding or something fatal like that. And your father started to get really excited.

Your father: I would love to try that!

Me: No. Never. Not gonna happen. NUH. UH.

Your father: But it’s fun…

Me: You know I love you, right?

Your father: Of course.

Me: And you’re my soul mate.

Your father: Right…

Me: And you’re the father of my children.

Your father: …

Me: And most importantly, I can’t run this family without you. If you die, I will have to wait tables.

09112015 - Your 41-year-old father

Here is your father. He may get older, a little wrinkles, a tad bit more gray. But damn it he has never ever grown up!


To Maya – Grade K

September 8, 2015 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Dear Maya,

You started kindergarten today.

Once we got to school and walked in the classroom you were happy and your nerves had eased. But over the past few days, you’d been so nervous. Would my friends be there? Would Ethan play with me? What if someone touched my rings?

Before I started the car this morning, I had us all take a deep breath. And then I turned around to the backseat and asked, “Who is on your team?” Both you and your brother pointed at me, and your scepticism slowly melted away just as your shoulders relaxed down from your ears.

And this is what I will give to you: an outstretched hand, a partner, someone with a clear view of the goal that they can pass the ball to.

09022015 - Grade K

Major milestone today. Here we go.


Espresso Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

September 7, 2015 by Fanny | 9 Comments


I won’t lie and pretend that I wasn’t ready for school to start again tomorrow but, man, it was a great summer! Fantastic one indeed!

A few days staying in a cabin right by Glimpse Lake. No internet. No TV. No phone. Just a surreal and priceless lake scenery. Families, friends, kids sharing life on life. And then friends from everywhere flew over to visit us. Tons of dinner parties, staying-overs, get-togethers… There was not one single second that my house was not noisy, thanks to those 600 crazy kids and another few adults who were shamelessly chatting and yelling and bitching around as what we call “catch-up”. The moment when my house was silent, it was because we went out to beaches, parks, Science World, movies, golfing, soccer, baseball… Simply non-stop!


To be honest, it was quite exhausting. Driving, cooking, clean-up, kids fights… But also a lot of drinking, talking, laughing, crying… We had such great fun and memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything!


Over the past week, I did dream about what our next summer would be like. And I’ve decided to make it even more memorable. One of the easiest ways to achieve that, which I highly recommend, is to follow the following moms on Instagram. These globe-trotting mothers travel the world with their kids while sharing the best family travel tips, tricks, and hints, one escapade at a time.

Check out The Best Family Travel Instagrammers

by Nicole Standley at Mode

Ingredients (8-inch cake):

2 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumb
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon espresso powder
2 packs 8-ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated, room temperature
Chocolate Ganache
100 grams dark chocolate, cut into small chunks
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup


Preheat oven at 350F. Grease an 8-inch spring form pan.

Make the crust by mixing all the crust ingredients together in a food processor or with a fork.

Press the mixture onto the bottom of the spring form pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Turn down oven temperature to 300F.

To prepare filling, warm heavy cream in microwave. Add espresso powder and stir to dissolve completely. Let cool to room temperature.

Beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar on medium speed until smooth in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Then add eggs, one at a time, and mix until well blended.

Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Tap the pan on counter a few times to release all the air in the batter. Bake for an hour, or until the edge of the cheesecake is puffed but the center is still wobbly and wet looking.

Turn off the oven with the door slightly opened, let the cheesecake sit in the oven to cool completely, at least an hour.

Chill for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

To prepare ganache, place the chocolate, heavy cream and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a wooden spoon until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly.

Pour ganache over the top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to gently push the ganache to the sides to create an even layer.

Chill in refrigerator. Leave it in room temperature for 15 minutes to soften the ganache before serving.

Nobu’s Miso-Marinated Black Cod

August 31, 2015 by Fanny | 4 Comments


So here continues to find my Asian cooking roots after my first trial of beef brisket with daikon and leek in clear soup with great success.

One of the big reasons that I haven’t cooked Chinese as much is because Asian cooking does require more preparations, details, fresher ingredients… Not that I can’t handle these. I just figured cooking western food could also be delicate and scrumptious, not to mention sometimes it’s definitely more convenient considered how much I love one pot meals.

However, I’ve started to get bored. And I realized that my kids do enjoy Chinese food a little more, especially fish, which I barely cook. Why? Because I am not a fish person. I know I am selfish and all. And I’ve decided to change that. Alright?!


We talked about this Nobu’s black cod dish when my two bestest girl friends were here. And I had a feeling that that’s the kind of fish that I would love to eat. Meaty, buttery, sweet and salty, but not fishy fishy. And you know what, turned out I cooked this and I think I’ve eaten all the amount of fish that I’m required to eat for the rest of my life!

The original recipe suggests to marinate the fish for two to three days. I only did one and a half. And it turned out great! Just in case you are as desperate as I was! I also didn’t use the oven. A few minutes per side was enough to fully cook the fish.


Ingredients (serves 4):

1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
4 tablespoons white miso paste
3 tablespoons sugar
4 black cod fillets, about 1/2 pound each


Bring the sake and mirin to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat for 20 seconds to evaporate the alcohol. Turn the heat down to low, add the miso paste, and whisk. When the miso has dissolved completely, turn the heat up to high again and add the sugar, whisking constantly to ensure that the sugar doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat once the sugar is fully dissolved. Cool to room temperature.

Pat the black cod fillets thoroughly dry with paper towels. Place the fish and the miso marinade in a resealable plastic bag. Leave it flat on a plate and let it marinate overnight (or 2 to 3 days).

Lightly wipe off the marinade from the fillets.

Heat oil on a non-stick skillet over high heat. Place fish skin side up on the pan and cook until the bottom of the fish browns and blackens in spots, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until the other side is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. The fish is ready when it’s opaque and flakes easily.

Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich with Blueberry Sauce

August 24, 2015 by Fanny | 5 Comments


It has waffle. It has ice cream. So call it breakfast dessert if you want! But you know you are allowed to eat it any time.

I was just looking to get rid of that bag of leftover waffles. And then I glanced over to the other side of the freezer and spotted that box of vanilla ice cream. Then I remember up in the fridge sitting a jar of blueberry sauce that I made for these blueberry cupcakes a few days ago. So there we had a wonderful combo of waffle ice cream sandwich!


Just so you know, you can go with ANYTHING!!! Seriously anything you like to put between two pieces of warm, buttery, crispy waffles!


Ingredients (about 6 ice cream sandwiches):

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup water
12 fresly made or leftover waffles
1/2 quart vanilla ice cream


To prepare blueberry sauce, mix sugar, cornstarch, blueberries and water in a small bowl and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool completely.

Toast waffles if they are leftovers. Let cool slightly.

Scoop ice cream on a waffle. Top it with a spoonful of blueberry sauce, followed by another waffle.

Eat immediately.