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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Know Your Cakes??

Did you know that .....

...if you were eating genoise, you'd be enjoying an Italian sponge cake named after the city of Genoa?

...the blueberry muffin is the official muffin of Minnesota?

...A Revolutionary War traitor named Benjamin Rumsford, invented the Baked Alaska after he fled the U.S. for England?

...If you ordered a Black Forest Cake, you'd get a chocolate layer cake filled with Kirsch-flavored whipped cream and sour Morello cherries, topped with chocolate curls?

More cake facts...

* The first recorded mention of cheesecake has it being served to athletes during the first Olympic Games, held in 776 B.C.E. The recipe consisted of “crushed cheese, wheat flour and one egg.” Recipes have evolved since then, but American cheesecake is different from Greek cheesecake, Italian cheesecake, German cheesecake, French cheesecake, etc. Different cultures use their own favorite fresh cheeses and flavorings, which have a very different impact on the personality of the cheesecake.

* Ponque is the Colombian version of the Pound Cake

* A torte is a cake made primarily with eggs, sugar, and ground nuts instead of flour. Variations may include bread crumbs as well as some flour.

* Rehruecken - A German cake that takes its name "rack of venison" from the way in which the almonds adorn the cake, standing vertically upright.

* A bundt cake is simply the name used for a dessert cake baked in a ring-shaped pan with decorated sides

* A gâteau (pronounced ga-toe) is a French cake, often specifically a sponge cake that may be made from almond flour instead of wheat flour. In general terms, any cake in France may be considered a gâteau, but some French cakes are more gâteaux than cakes you might see in other parts of the world. Yet if you order any kind of cake in France, you will be ordering a gâteau.

* Shortcake is a sweet biscuit (in the American sense: that is, a crumbly, baking soda- or baking powder-leavened bread, known in British English as a scone), and a dessert made with that biscuit.

* Fruitcake originated in ancient Egypt and was considered an essential food for the afterlife.

* Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembling fruitcake or Lebkuchen

* Lamingtons are an Australian cake named after Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland.

* Panettone - A fruit-filled Italian sweet bread that is served particularly at Christmas.

* Clafoutis - A French dessert consisting of cherries suspended in a pancake-like batter.

* Flan - An elegant, rich, baked custard quite similar to crème caramel.

* Pavlova - A traditional meringue-based dessert in Australia/New Zealand named after the Russian ballet dancer Ánna Pávlova.

* Buccellato - A Sicilian circular cake given by godparents to the godchild and family on the christening day. The cake is supposed to be as large as possible to ensure good luck. Legend has it that the cake has even once reached the size of a Ferris wheel!

* Dacquoise - A cake made with layers of nut meringue and whipped cream or buttercream.

* Chiffon - A very light cake made with vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings

* Strudel - A traditional Viennese layered pastry.

* Charlotte - A type of molded dessert of French origin but is also seen in Eastern European kitchens.

* Crostata - An Italian tart.

* Babka - A spongy yeast cake that is traditionally baked for Easter Sunday in Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia.

* Baklava - A rich, sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jill Draper

Can you spot the difference between these two images? While the pic on the left is a photograph of snow-covered trees, the one beside it is a tapestry of the trees.

Sixty-two year old British artist Jill Draper renders pictures of landscapes in her embroidered tapestries that are painstakingly recreated with astonishing accuracy using just a needle and thread.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stephen Wiltshire - The Human Camera

Known as The Human Camera, Stephen Wiltshire has an uncanny ability to draw/paint detailed cityscapes from memory after having only observed them briefly. As a child he was mute, and did not relate to other human beings. He was diagnosed as autistic at the age of three.
After a 45 minute helicopter ride over Rome, he drew a 15 foot wide panoramic picture of the city without having a second glance at it.

The Kremlin Palace, Moscow 1990

Chicago Skyline 2005

Las Vegas at night 2005

Electric City, Tokyo, 2006

St Pancras Station 2006
One of Stephen`s most iconic drawings. Although he first memorized the building in 1988 he could still recall every detail almost 20 years later and drew it exactly as how he captured it in the late 80`s. The results of the comparison with his early work are fascinating.

New York Subway Train - 2007

Venice, Italy 2008

Sydney Opera House, 2008

Toronto Skyline 2008

Aerial view of Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey 2008

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Napoleon Complex

'Short guy, tall wife celebrity couples' like Nicholas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes/Nicole Kidman, etc are not 'short' in supply.

Napoleon complex is a colloquial term describing an alleged type of inferiority complex which is said to affect some people, especially men, who are short in stature. The term is also used more generally to describe people who are driven by a perceived handicap to overcompensate in other aspects of their lives. This maybe one of the reasons why short dudes date tall women. Same reason why men with small packages drive big trucks!

Here are just a few couples I've SHORTlisted.

Nicholas Sarkozy 5' 5" and Carla Bruni 5' 9"

Verne Troyer & Genevieve Gallen
RESPECTIVE HEIGHTS: 2′8″ & 5′6″/5′6″

Mick Jagger & L’Wren Scott

Penny Lancaster and Rod Stewart

Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman before their divorce

Brigitte Nielsen and Mattia Dessi

Ever dated a shorter guy?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Oodles of Noodles

Is pasta a noodle or is noodle pasta?!!

Until recently, the FDA required a noodle to contain flour, water and eggs to be rightly called a noodle.
Since most Asian noodles aren’t made with eggs, this left them with alternatives like “imitation noodles”.
Asian noodle producers (from the birthplace of the noodle no less) could not use the n-word. The government finally relented, and we can now see “Asian noodles” on packages.
So, if farfalle (bow-tie pasta) contains eggs, it is rightfully a noodle but ramen that does not have egg in it is not entitled to the n-word.
A noodle, to me, is anything elongated, extruded from dough and cooked in boiling water.
Next to rice, noodles are our staple and we do have an inexhaustive list of noodle types and styles in which they are cooked.

Noodle Trivia

1. Traditionally, the Chinese serve noodles for a birthday celebration. These customary noodles are usually long, yellow coloured noodles made from wheat flour. They symbolize long life in the years to come and should not be cut while cooking or eating them.

Lum Meen or Birthday Noodles

2. How long would all the noodles in one packet stretch?
51 metres! Yes, that’s more then two times the length of a tennis court.

Ramen - A Japanese noodle dish that originated in China

3. The Chinese are on record as having eaten pasta as early as 5,000 B.C.

Wonton Noodles (Malaysian style)

Wonton Noodles (Hong Kong style)

4.The word Noodle derives from the German Nudel (noodle) and may be related to the Latin word nodus (knot).

5. Spätzle is a Swabian type of noodle made of wheat and eggs. Swabia is both a historic and linguistic region in Germany.


6. Tészta refers to various types of Hungarian noodles.

7. Erişte is a flat, yellow or reddish brown Turkish wheat noodle.

8. Laksa - A spicy noodle dish native to Malaysia and Singapore. Basically, there are 2 types - Assam Laksa and Curry Laksa.

Assam Laksa - Thick rice noodles in a sour fish broth

Curry Laksa - Yellow noodles in a coconut milk curry

9.Idiyappam - String hoppers made from rice noodles curled into flat spirals - a culinary specialty in Kerala and Tamilnadu.

10. Pancit is the term for noodles in Filipino cuisine


11. Tagliatelle - Legend has it that tagliatelle was created by a talented court chef, who was inspired by Lucrezia d'Este's hairdo on the occasion of her marriage to Annibale II Bentivoglio, in 1487.


Here's a recipe to share

Stir Fried Spaghetti Malaysian Style


* 1 (8 ounce) package spaghetti
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1/2 onion, chopped
* 1 egg (optional)
* 3 1/2 ounces ground pork
* salt and pepper to taste
* white sugar to taste
* 1/2 tablespoon chili sauce
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon tomato puree
* 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned


1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion in the oil until the onion is a bit brownish. Stir in the egg. Add the ground pork and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Mix in the cooked pasta, salt, sugar, pepper, chile sauce, soy sauce and tomato puree. Stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes. Add red pepper and stir-fry for another 2 minutes; pour in a bit of water if it is too dry.