Snake Tongue Tea? Gosh.. I Am Going Away……白花蛇舌草罗汉果茶

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the body is in its best condition when the Yin and Yang is balanced. I am no expert in this field but being  a Chinese, I was “brainwashed” about the need to cleanse /balance your body with some foods and drinks such that your body is in the top notch condition.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_medicine

One of cheapest way of “self medication” or “self balancing” about your body’s Yin and Yang is preparing some herbal drinks at home. There are many many herbs that sometimes i seriously doubt that the grass/weeds that I stepped under my feet are edible and are types of herbs.

In fact, today, one of the herb that I wanted to share with all is a common grass that can be found in many countries. But don’t simply pluck from the streets and cook it unless you are 100% sure of that is exact the plant. Eating plants that have toxins can be disastrous to your body!


WHY THIS DRINK?

Last week, I am eating a lot of baked pastry, according to TCM, it brought heat to your body. I am having a bit of sore throat and today when I am doing the marketing,  I saw these plants. It is in a store selling all sort of herbs in a wet market. Beside selling this herb, they also sell other types of “body cooling” herbs such as purple cane, rhoeo tricolour and other general cooking herbs such as Thai basil, mint leaves and etc..

I WAS TOLD THAT IT IS A COMMON ITEM AND IF YOU CAN GET THIS HERB IN ITS RAW/FRESH FORM, YOU CAN TRY THE DRIED VERSION IN THE TRADITIONAL CHINESE VERSION MEDICAL SHOP.

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This herb is called Hedyotis Diffusa (白花蛇舌草)scientifically and literally translated from Chinese language as White Flower Snake Tongue Grass! Don’t asked me why this name, Ha-ha.

As Hedyotis Diffusa sound so alien to most readers, shall we have a simpler name Snake Tongue Grass? So, from this point onwards, Hedyotis Diffusa and snake tongue grass shall be used interchangeably.

As per Wikipedia on Heydotis Diffusa, it was written that

Hedyotis diffusa (Chinese: 白花蛇舌草; pinyin: báihuā shéshécǎo; literally “white flower snake-tongue grass”, sometimes abbreviated to 蛇舌草 shéshécǎo) is a kind of herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is sometimes combined with Siraitia grosvenorii (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果; pinyin: luóhànguǒ) to make hot drinks like Lohoguo of Guongsei (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果蛇舌草精; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果蛇舌草精; pinyin: luóhànguǒ shéshécǎo jīng) or Luohanguo Pearl and Sheshecao Beverage.

Therefore, in this illustration, I have combined with Siritia Grosvenorii (罗汉果), hereinafter refer to as Lohanguo), another common traditional Chinese medicine ingredient.  It is a natural sweetener and is used to treat diabetes in TCM. This combination is nothing raw, you can see it in Chinese Provision shops that sell in instant form.

Source: http://www.fjzzyy.cn/product.asp


BENEFITS OF SNAKE TOUNGE GRASS (HEDYOTIS DIFFUSA)

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Snake tongue grass is believed to have inflammation properties and ability to prevent tumour growth. In addition, it is used to clear heat, counteract toxins, remove damp, treatment of boils and abscesses, snake bite, sore throat etc..

If you goggled heydyotis diffusa, you will note that there are lots of research relating to studies on its role on cancer prevention. The articles below list out the major health benefits of snake tongue grass which includes mostly inhibit cancerous growth of many types of cancer- Chinese herbs in Western View – Baihuasheshecao – health benefits and side effects.

 Sourcehttp://www.baike.com/wiki/白花蛇舌草

In another study to study the anticancer properties of Oldenlandia Diffusa published by US National Library of Medicines in 2004, it was concluded that:

“Oldenlandia diffusa extract effectively inhibited the growth of all the eight cancer cell lines and induced significant increase of apoptosis. The extract exhibited minimum toxic effect on normal pancreatic cells. Furthermore, there was a significant inhibition of lung metastases in the animal model with no noticeable adverse effects. The herb extract could be a potential anticancer agent.”(Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15273074)

As with other herbals, it is advisable that PREGRNANT WOMEN SHALL REFRAINED FROM DRINKING THE TEA UNLESS WITH ADVISE FROM MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.


As with my other drink series, since this is a Chinese herbs, for the benefits of my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically include this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

  • 痈肿疮毒,咽喉肿痛,毒蛇咬伤。本品苦寒,有较强的清热解毒作用,用治热毒所致诸证,内服外用均可。如单用鲜品捣烂外敷,治疗痈肿疮毒,也可以本品与金银花、连翘、野菊花等药同用;用治肠痈腹痛,常与红藤、败酱草、牡丹皮等药同用;若治咽喉肿痛,多与黄芩、玄参、板蓝根等药同用;若用治毒蛇咬伤,可单用鲜品捣烂绞汁内服或水煎服,渣敷伤口,疗效较好,亦可与半枝莲、紫花地丁、蚤休等药配伍应用。近年利用本品清热解毒消肿之功,已广泛用于各种癌证的治疗
  • 热淋涩痛。本品甘寒,有清热利湿通淋之效,单用本品治疗膀胱湿热,小便淋沥涩痛,亦常与白茅根、车前草、石韦等同用。” (Source:中医e百网页)


BENEFITS OF ARHAT FRUIT OR LUOHANGUO (SIRITIA GROSVENORII)

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Luohanguo is also called arhat fruit or monk fruits. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a natural low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks, and in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diabetes and obesity. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siraitia_grosvenorii). It is very common and you can easily purchased it in any Chinese herbal shops at a very reasonable price.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • One bunch of fresh snake tongue grass of about 500 g. Usually it comes with root and cost about SGD1.20 for it (this price is for estimating the quantity of your fresh snake tongue grass)

  • 6 dried lohanguo

  • 400 gram of rock sugar (can be adjusted according to individual preference)

  • 4 litres of water.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Soak your snake tongue grass in clean water for 15 minutes

  • Clean thoroughly the grass and watch out for the root portion which may have some soils stuck to the plants.

  • Use clean water to rinse the cleaned snake tongue grass.

The soaking of the snake tongue grass is requested by my mother in law which i think it make sense. Be it commercially cultivated or “plucking” from the wild, we will never know if there are any pesticides, therefore like other vegetables, it is a precautionary steps to wash away the pesticides (if any) by soaking in the water.

You may need quite a lot of water to clean the natural herbs. It is my usual habit to recycle  these water for watering my plants! These are just muddy water and throwing away is a waste. If you do have a lot of plants at home, I would encourage to use this to water your plant or flush your toilet, if you want. You know, I am just a stingy old man! Ha-ha

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  • Break open the lohanguo and look out for any mould in the shell!

 

NOTE

Note that it is not necessary for you to break your lohanguo like the picture above. I do have the habit to break it and see what is inside. There are a few experiences that I saw mold settling insides the seeds. If it is dry with small patches, i will just wash with cold water. Otherwise, I will throw away. The usual ways of cooking this is just use some hard object to break but not open the lohanguo, throw it in the herbs that you are cooking.

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  • Put 4 litres of water in a big pot. Add in snake tongue grass and lohanguo and bring to boil under high heat!

  • Once boiled, turned to medium heat and boiled for another 15-20 minutes.

  • Add in rock sugar and let it boiled for another 5 minutes.

NOTE:

The preparation of this drink is rather flexible, be it the use of main ingredients (snake tongue grass and lohanguo) or side ingredients (rock sugar) and water, You can always adjust to suit your family’s taste buds. Personally, I will start with less water and some rock sugar. If i find it too sweet or concentrated, i will just dilute with water.

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  • Strain the herbal teas and store in a glass bottle (preferred if you have). Though it is not advisable to keep this overnight according to TCM, however, if needed, store in fridge in a clean (preferred if sterilized with hot water) bottle.


VARIATIONS

  • As the drink can be slightly bland, you can add in a small quantity of dry longan to add flavour to it. I have added this to make my kids drinking this tea.


CONCLUSION

I am eating a piece of my zebra patterned pound cake with a glass of this tea as a snack this morning. Chinese believed that all oven baked pastries are “heaty” to your body. There is a constant need to have some drinks to “cool” your body. Too much “heat” in your body will cause acne, sore throat, boils, abscesses and etc.. (In Western terms : inflammation). This is pleasant drink and is a choice among many body cooling drinks that are cooked by Chinese households. You may also interested in my other drink series here:

Have a nice day and don’t forget to cleanse your body! Hope you like the post and cheers.

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Devilled Egg- Simplicity Rules…

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INTRODUCTION

I loved eggs. Be it poached, fried, boiled, braised I liked it. My kids loved eggs, be it poached, fried or boiled, they loved it any forms. My whole family loved eggs, we fight for eggs, fried rice will definitely come with eggs. eggs cooked in any form will be appreciated. If I am not baking, on the average, we will need about 40 eggs for a month. If I am baking. we will need about 20 eggs per week.

We cooked eggs in omelette form, like salted turnip omelette, braised tofu and eggs, minced taukwa omelette, steamed tofu and eggs and etc. We use eggs in almost all the noodles dishes like Singapore fried prawn noodles, Sarawak Laksa and etc. We used eggs to cook our vegetable dishes such as braised luffa with eggs, and etc. We also used them for soup dishes such as shark fin melon soup and etc. Therefore, you can see that we used eggs almost daily in the foods I cooked.  However, I never cooked any egg dishes from Western cuisines besides the normal hard boiled eggs or scrambled eggs.

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While I am searching of some eggs recipe, I came across this term devilled eggs! It caught my attention! What is this cuisine? I goggled and managed to get some definition from Wikipedia.

Devilled eggs (US) or devilled eggs or ‘eggs mimosa’ are hard-boiled eggs, shelled, cut in half and filled with the hard-boiled egg’s yolk mixed with other ingredients such as mayonnaise and mustard,but many other variants exist internationally. Devilled eggs are usually served cold. They are served as a side dish, appetizer or a main course, and are a common holiday or party food. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deviled_egg)

There are many many recipes in the internet and most of which I can’t followed as it utilizes ingredients that I do not have. Therefore, I have decided to prepare my own devilled eggs based on the ingredients that I have.

This is a simple recipe and easily tailored to meet your families taste buds. If you love eggs, you will not be able to reject this simple dish!



WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 6 eggs
  • 1 big tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian dried herbs

  • 2 tablespoon of mayonnaise


STEP OF PREPARATION

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  • Hard boiled the eggs and shelled the eggs.

  • Cut off 1/3 top part of the eggs and take out the egg yolks.

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  • Chopped the tomatoes and top part of the egg whites (1/3 portion). Add in the herbs, few drops of olive oil or cooking oil, pinches of salt and mixed well;

  • Scope one table spoon into  your choice of egg holder.

Note, depending on how you want to present your dish, this step is optional if you preferred not to use an egg holder.

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  • Mash the egg yolks with a big spoon and add 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Mash until as finely as possible.

  • Add in herbs and mixed well. Spooned the egg yolk into the egg whites portion. Sprinkled with more Italian herbs if desired.

  • Can be served as a party snack

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Notes

You can cut the eggs into half and make 12. However, because my eggs are rather small, therefore I have decided to cut out 1/2 and retained the remaining two third. Otherwise, if you cut into half, you can cut it symmetrically and cut of the bottom to let it “sit” stably in the plate.

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CONCLUSION

It is rather easy to make this dish and have full flexibility of tailoring to meet your family’s taste buds. It is definitely a good choice of party foods due to its simplicity of preparation but elegant presentation!

Hope you like this short post! Have a nice day!

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I am submitting this post to Little Thumbs Up “Eggs” event organized by organized by Bake for Happy Kidsmy little favourite DIY and hosted by (Baby Sumo of Eat Your Heart Out). You can link your egg recipes here.

Link up your recipe of the week

King of Fruits + Cream Cheese = Durian Cheesecakes, Game to Try?

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INTRODUCTION

Imagine a bite of cream cheese and another bite of durian flesh, that will be what you are going to get from these cheese cake, soft, smooth, creamy and sweet.

A rather simple chilled cheese cake to make without baking, therefore the natural aroma of the durian are maintained in the cake even days after it was prepared. For this recipe, it is rather flexible except one step that I am rather insistent-handling of the durian flesh. Mastering this step will give you a cheese cake that will impressed your guest. For this step, I beg to disagreed  with any shortcut method(no blending), other than that, you can use your common sense to proceed with the making of the cheesecake.

Steps in preparing the durian cheesecake will involve (preferably in this order to smoothen your flows of preparation):

  • Preparing the biscuit crust
  • Preparation of gelatine
  • Beating the cream
  • Sifting the durian flesh
  • Making the cream cheese fillings
  • Decorating and serving the cake

Though it looks like the step are many, however the times taken are very short. So, don’t be frightened by the steps  mentioned here.

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WHAT IS DURIAN….

To start the post,  it is only fair that I have some introduction on durian as a number of my overseas friends apparently never seen durian before. As usual, per Wikipedia:

“The durian /ˈdjʊriən/ is the fruit of several tree species belonging to the genus Durio and the family Malvaceae. Regarded by many people in southeast Asia as the “king of fruits”, the durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb.). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.

The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as pleasantly fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as almonds, rotten onions, turpentine, raw sewage. The persistence of its odour has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.”

picture source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/



WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 350 g of assorted biscuits.You can use biscuits of any type and I have used 2 types of biscuits some sugar crackers and some Fox chocolate crunch biscuits. I have chosen to use these 2 types of biscuits as there are slightly sweeten and have been sitting in my kitchen cabinets for quite a while.
  • 150 g of melted butter.
  • 350 g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 750 g of fresh durian flesh (with seeds)

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  • 90 g of granulated sugar or sugar powder
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • 6 large teaspoons of gelatine powder 
  • 1/2 cups of plain water
  • 8 inches spring form cake tin or detachable base cake tin. You can refer here for more explanation on the cake tin selection.

For decoration of the cake

  • 10 large teaspoons of gelatine powder 
  • 1 cup of plain water
  • 200 gram of flesh durian tear into smaller pieces.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the biscuit crust….

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  • Microwave heat your butter for 1 minutes and set aside for later use.
  • In a food processor, place your assorted biscuits and blend your biscuits until very fine pieces. The finer it is, the easier it is for you to make the crust . However, if you want to have something to munch in your mouth, you can have your biscuit pieces coarser.
  • Transfer the chopped biscuits into a mixing ball. Gradually add in the melted butter. Stir until well mixed.

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  • Transfer the chopped biscuits into the spring form baking tin. Use a spoon to press firmly against the bottom and against the side such that it is equally spread out. Put in the freezer and refrigerate until later use.

 


Preparation of gelatine…..

This step can be used for both the cream cheese filling and decoration of the cheesecake.

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  • Put the water in a small metal bowl, sprinkle the gelatine in an even layer over the surface and leave to go spongy.
  • Take another bigger metal bowl, put some water and heat it using the smallest heat. Place the first bowl on top of the hot water, stir until all the gelatine are dissolved.
  • Take out, let it cool at room temperature and set aside for later use.

Beating of Cream…

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  • Either hand whisk or using a machine beat the cream until firm peak. Note that your mixing bowl must be dry and free of any oils. Otherwise , it is hard to beat the cream until firm peak. Don’t over whipped your cream. When you over whipped your creams, your can add a bit of fresh cream to make the cream looked fresh again. Shall I refer to you to some links from www.finecooking.com’s video that I have posted in Guaishushu’s Facebook Page here.
  • Scoop out your whipped cream and put it in a fridge.


Sifting of Durian Flesh…

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  • Get hold of 750g of fresh durians. De-seed the durian and put it in a sift. Use a metal spoon to rub against the sift until all the flesh become some meshed durian. Weigh 350 g and keep the leftover in the fridge for making of “durian ice cream” if you want.
  • Put your sifted durian in the fridge as it can oxidize rather quickly. Alternatively, you can just add one scoop of fresh cream that you have whipped and mixed with the sifted durian, it will reduce the tendency to get oxidize. Oxidize will render your colour darker and therefore would have less appeal to your guest.

Note:

There is no compromise to this step. As I am making a chilled creamy cheese cake, I do not wish to have any durian fibres in the cake. It should be as smooth as the cream cheese. No blending and other short cut. Eating a cheesecake with strains for durian fibres will irk your guest.

It is rather difficult to estimate the exact quantity of the raw durian you need as the recovery rates can varies. The durian that you seen in the picture is of rather good quality, yellowish colour, sweet and soft but comparatively small compared to other better quality ones. You don’t need top grade durians as too strong the smell will mask cream cheese flavour. Probably you just need the least expensive durian and your guest will be equally impressive with your final cheesecake. For Singapore and Malaysian readers, I have bought about 1.5 kg of raw durians for about SGD20. You should be able to judge the quality. It is a good buy as I only managed to use half of the durians.

Another side tip. Add equivalent amount of cream to your meshed durian, stir well, freeze it and you will get the durian ice cream. Try it and you will know that only homemade durian ice cream can be that luxurious.. thick and aromatic. Alternatively, pump into a choux pastry and it will become durian puff and if wrapped in a crepe will become durian crepe… 

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Making the Cream Cheese Fillings

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  • Use the same mixing bowl that you beat your cream, put in the cream cheese and the sugar, beat until well mixed and smooth. It will be rather fast and 2-3 minutes will do.
  • Add in the sifted durian flesh and beat at low speed until well mixed.

Note:

Some readers are telling me that they don’t have a sweet tooth and concerned about the sweetness. The sugar content in this recipe is very low considering 90g in the entire cake of about 900g, representing only about 10% of the ingredients. However, if you are still concern about the sweetness, change the granulated sugar to icing sugar powder, start with half of the volume and take a small tablespoon and taste the cream cheese durian mixture, if it is too sweet, just add in the remaining sugar powder in stages until it suit your taste buds.

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  • Take out the cooled gelatine, fold in the durian cream cheese mixture with a spatula or big metal or wood spoon. Ensure that it is well mix and followed by folding in the whipped cream. Stir until well mixed.

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  • Take out the baking tin, pour the mixture and use a spoon to flatten the top and chilled it over night.

Note:

While it is best that you chilled it overnight. However, if you run short of time , you can consider to put it in the freezer for about 1 hour when the mixture start to set or becoming firm and proceed with the next steps of decoration.

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Decorating and serving  the Cheesecake

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The decoration below is for your reference only. As durian and cheese are rather yellowish in colour,  therefore the colour of the cheesecake is quite monotonous. I have topped the cheesecakes with additional tear durian flesh. When it is set, I have made some more gelatine (about 10 big teaspoons of gelatine with 1 cup of water) and put on top of durian flesh. In this manner, the gelatine will help to preserve the durian flesh flavour and avoid it to oxidize.

For the serving, I have cut slices of fresh mango to go with it. The fresh mango will negate the creaminess of the cheesecake and just an excellent combo that I have never thought of before.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is not a difficult cake to make but if you are a durian and cheesecake lover, you will definitely like the cake. The cake is very creamy with natural durian fragrance even days after the cake is make. It is smooth and soft as the durian flesh have been sifted to get rid of the fibre.
  • Understand how to make this cake will also give you numerous alternatives of dessert preparation. The addition of cream to sifted durian flesh will be ideal for your durian cream puff using the choux pastry or durian crepes when wrapped it in a crepe.
  • The recipe here is definitely for homemade purposes where the usage of ingredients are rather “hard core” for durian lovers. With the same proportion of raw ingredients I mentioned in this post, this cake will be very costly if you buy it in restaurants or cafe. However, with  a fraction  of restaurant price, you can comfortably have a much better cheesecakes than in other eating outlets.
  • All steps here are rather flexible except sifted  durian flesh which I am quite insistent as the cake should be smooth and  non – fibrous. If you can’t finish the cake, try store it in a freezer, take a portion out, when you crave for it, defrost and tell me what is it like. You would not be disappointed.

Thanks for reading the post and hope you have a nice day. Cheers.

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For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 10th February 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

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