Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mini blueberry muffins

I used to enjoy quite a bit of blueberry muffins during my college days. Banana nut bread was the other. Soft, moist and sweet at the same time. Totally satisfied my cravings for carbs at the time. Somehow, never got around to baking them at home as they are so readily available commercially.  Started looking online for breakfast ideas for my daughter who lacks appetite in the morning. Adapted this super easy recipe from www.foodnetwork.com. A little less sweet but still soft and moist. Most importantly, my daughter willingly devours these for breakfast in the morning with a glass of milk.
Ingredients for 24 mini muffins:-
1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup of granulated sugar

2 large eggs
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream or whole milk

1 3/4 cups of flour
1/4 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/2 cup of blueberries

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line two 12 cups mini muffin pans with paper liners.
2. Cream sugar and butter at medium speed until light for about 3 min. Add in one egg at a time and beat mixture at low speed until combined. Next, add in and beat at low speed the sour cream, vanilla, and heavy whipping cream or milk.
3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture slowly into the cream mixture and beat at low speed until batter is mixed. Increase speed to medium and beat for another minute for smooth consistency.
4. Fold in blueberries carefully into the batter. Scoop 2 tbsp of batter into the muffin pans.
5. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffins come up clean. Let muffins cool on a cooling rack before serving.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

48 hours in Shanghai.

Was supposed to be in Shanghai for 3 days at the end of July for a wedding. Two weeks before we left for our Asia trip,  we were told the wedding had been postponed to September. On top of that, our flight to Shanghai was cancelled without any notifications from the airline (CE). Too late to change our travel plans. Had to move forward with the shortened stay.
Shanghai is a vibrant city, no doubt. However, I call it the honking city. A city of you honk, I honk, everybody honks. Never seen another city with drivers touting their honks so liberally. Can't miss it while sitting in a taxi waiting for the traffic lights, getting into a taxi, or crossing the streets. Constantly on the race to be somewhere with total disregard for fellow human beings, I suppose. Not sure if I'd see an improvement in their driving or social etiquette in the near future.
Shanghai to me had not changed much in terms of the people or infrastructure compared to my last visit 4 years ago.  Still a lot of people from different provinces of China. But, more empty buildings and fancy cars on the streets this time around. The cost of  living in Shanghai has skyrocketed to the point where personally, I think it would take more money and extra efforts to lead a comparably comfortable life there vs here in the US. The overall living environment just cannot compare.
First time in Shanghai ten years ago, I loved to take leisurely strolls around the little alleys in the neighborhoods, buying an apple or a pear or one banana from the neighborhood fruit stalls and watching locals living their daily lives. Ten years later, these are hard to come by. Most neighborhoods have been reorganized into planned commercial areas which to me had lost its authenticity. Not quite as appealing.

View of Huang Pu River and Pudong from our very nice hotel room on the 17th floor of Waldorf Astoria on the Bund. Just the place to knock ourselves out as we were sleep deprived due to the cancelled flight. Preferred to stay in and ordered mediocre room service. Definitely, an oasis from the scorching heat outside.
Typical Shanghai- crowds at the Bund trying to cool down from the daytime heat. It was in the 40's (Celcius) during the 2 days that we were there. Very humid and unbearable weather.

                                                     Old elevator in WA- still functional, I think.

Shanghai Museum- great place to spend a few hours away from the heat. Had to queue under the hot sun and deal with people trying to jump the queue. Have a little courtesy, please.
I can't imagine using this hard pillow to sleep at night even though my godfather used to sleep with a rectangle shaped hard pillow when I was little.
                Liked the color of the vase. My photography skill did not do it justice, though.
                                                         Typical Chinese painting
                                                    Reminded me of my grandma's bed.
Afternoon tea at WA. US$60 per set. Sweets were a little too sweet and savory pastries were average. Voted as one of the best afternoon teas in Shanghai.

Last dinner in Shanghai. Walked across the street from WA to La Pedrera Spanish Restaurant for a change of taste. Nice ambiance and great service. Very nice Iberico ham- US$50 for 60 grams.
    Foie gras salad- dressing was a little too sweet and tiny shavings of foie gras was negligible.
Australian steaks on a stone. No offense to anyone but I much prefer USDA prime rib eye steaks.
                                           Quite tender, just a little under seasoned.
                         Squid ink paella- perfectly cooked clams but the rice was not flavorful enough.
 
                                      Very good catalan cream to round up the dinner.
                          Last minute gifts from Nanjing Lu- peanut, green bean and sesame soft cakes.