The Sweet Spot

Pastry Chef & Traveler

Beach Bumming Essentials

puka beach

Puka Beach

puka shell beach Just another excuse to put up more Boracay photos, cause it’s just SO SO beautiful.

Having gone to Boracay and Krabi earlier this year, I have some essentials to pack for any beach, ok, any summer holiday. I suppose you could very well guess that sunblock and aloe vera gel is important cause you don’t wanna have burnt skin after the holiday. So which type or brand of sunblock should you get ? I have some favourites, here they are.

beach essentialsBanana Boat Ultra Protect SPF 50 with aloe vera for the body. Well, this one differs. We also tried Nivea when in Boracay, the SPF was between 50-70. Just reapply every couple of hours especially on the shoulder as it is most exposed.

Sunplay SPF130 for the face. i must say this is one of the most watery sunblock I’ve ever used, but for the face, it’s really good as it is not oily and it doesn’t leave a sticky feeling after. Reapplication is only necessary after a swim.

Aloe Vera Gel. Well, this one here is not really my fav but when we were in Boracay, we used Nature Republic’s Aloe Vera gel, and I tell you, it is just BLISS to apply it after your shower, after a long day under the sun. Plus, it reduces the chances of getting sun burnt or skin peeling as it moisturizes your skin as well.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse is probably one of my fav, especially if you want a after sun GLOW. Instead of looking just tan or charred, you get a nice after-tan glow and again, it moisturizes your skin too! Using regular lotion wouldn’t get you that glow.

Waterproof pouch. Oh. Em. Gee. It’s the best thing ever. We got it in Boracay for about RM10-15 per pouch and this one is a Nissin brand cause I’m special OK. It is good if you wanna take some photos while you are near the water but it is NOT recommended for it to be submerged in the water for a long time. We tried and there were little drops of water in the pouch. But if you’re thinking of just chilling on the float, then it is a good choice.

Sunglasses, of course you need ‘em.

Snacks and some accessories can come in handy ;) Straw hats and poncho / shawl could be useful too, seriously.

puka beach beer

Or make your own Floral Headwear / Flower Crown (tutorial here)


Eat sweets without putting on weight, with garcinia cambogia.

Krabi: Ya’s Krabi Thai Cookery School

Actually if given a choice, I would want to enrol in cooking classes everytime I travel to a new country. But time and travel companions sometimes do not allow so when I knew we were going to a cooking school in Krabi for our 3d2n trip compliments from Dove, I was pretty excited!

Ya’s Krabi Thai Cookery was opened in 2000 by Ya (Cholaya “Ya” Laothong). She has been cooking as a professional chef since 1983. With her love of cooking, jovial personality, and attentive nature, Ya’s cookery has since flourished into an establishment that has taught students from around the world (including the famous Chef Gordon Ramsey) the secrets of traditional Thai Cuisine. There are a few types of programs under the school for travelers to take part in, starting from 1000 Thai Baht, inclusive of transportation from Ao Nang or Krabi Town.

What we did was quite similar to Program B, but it could have been a mix-match of items as Ya taught us a Thai coconut and banana dessert which was not listed. Well, anyway, check out which program would interest you here.

yas cooking school krabi

The school is big and spacious. The space can be quite ‘open’ so just be aware of notorious flies on your dishes. Behind are some potteries and plants of herbs mostly used in Thai cuisine.

ya cooking school green red curry paste

Green and Red curry paste made from scratch.ya krabi cooking school

All the ingredients are measure out in plates and trays for all the dishes, so all you need to do is cut, slice, chop, dice them up. Mise en place is just as important, if not more when it comes to cooking. So always prepare your ingredients before you start the stove.

Ya has a few helpers who have been helping her for more than 10 years so they really know to cut things REALLY fast. Since we were in a group of 10, we were all given things to cut for all the dishes that we are going to cook.

Ya also gave us some tip to cut up certain ingredients to release more aroma, like lemongrass, onion and kaffir lime peel. Use a wooden tool to ‘bang’ hit on it, or rather flatten it before cuting into smaller pieces before puting them into the food processor or pestle and mortar to make it into a paste.

ya krabi cooking school som tum

Som Tum, Thai Mango salad, another one of my fav. The balance in Thai cuisine is really spot on, although sometimes I can find it a tad sweet. With the flavours of spicy, sweet, sour and salty, it brings a dish perfect harmony.

ya cooking school kangkungStir Fry Morning glory, they call it, but it’s kangkung. To get it to crispy yet retaining the juice, use a VERY HOT WOK, like smoking hot. In another pot, add in all the veg, beans and sauces. Once the wok is smoking ho, pour everything into it and just in seconds, the dish is ready.

yas thai cooking school krabi

I even got to make pad thai on the wok! I never manage to get pad thai right at home as it can be too wet sometimes. Controlling the flame is pretty important when on the wok station. I can never pull a decent face, can I ?yas krabi thai dishesSom tum, green curry, coconut milk chicken, pad thai, stir fried morning glory and minced chicken with holy basil are just SOME of the dishes we made. There were also panaeng curry, red curry, yellow curry, tom yum and a coconut dessert. You can say, we were fed well during this trip. Very well.

Overall it was a rather fun experience with the rest of the girls. I think I’m going to put it on my ‘to-do’ list whenever I travel, try to learn how the locals cook.

krabi ya cooking school

*visited in June 2014

Krabi Cookery School
269 Moo 2, Ao Nang, Muang, Krabi 81000 Thailand
Phone: (66) 075.662.155
Mobile: (66) 081.979.0677

Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts

Oh you know what ? I totally don’t get all the pumpkin spice memes out there, and all those addiction and crazy things people do for pumpkin spice. but you know what ? Whenever people get over serious for pumpkin spice and all things pumpkin-y, you know Fall is here.

Although, really pumpkin is available all year round here, why limit it to just the last few months of the year ? So while pumpkin spice latte is NOT my thing, I’ve decided to make a pumpkin spiced doughnut in celebration of fall. In case you don’t know, fall doesn’t happen in Malaysia. All we get at this time of the year is either haze, rain or worse, flood. But you know what ? Nothing like a fried (ahem, deep fried), slightly spicy and comforting doughnut to warm things up.

friend pumpkin doughnuts


cake like pumpkin doughnuts for fall

These doughnuts are not those that are super light and fluffy in the center. The texture is more cake-like and if you want to bake it, you can too. It also does not contain YEAST, hence the texture unlike regular doughnuts. Since the dough had pumpkin puree, it made the doughnut quite dense as to using just regular water to mix the dough. But it gives it a nice sweetness and earthy flavour from the pumpkin. They also tend to be quite soft and hard to handle, so, handle with care?

Pumpkin spice is really, just a mixture of some spices. You can easily mix it up as you may already have some of the spices at home. If you want to make your own pumpkin spice latte, get your regular favourite coffee and add a sprinkle or two of pumpkin spice!

Pumpkin Spice Mix (1 tsp)

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground all spice or ground cloves
1/8 ground nutmeg

pumpkin donutThe process may take some time as you would need to steam the pumpkin till it softens, cooled, then mixed into the dough. As the dough can be rather soft, I also left it in the freezer for 30 minutes. It doesn’t require any proofing time, as it doesnt have any yeast. So you can say that the proofing time has replaced to resting time. Original recipe from Serious Eats.

fried pumpkin doughnuts

Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts
Serves: 15
  • 2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (refer recipe above for homemade mix)
  • 1 large eggs
  • ½ cup (90g) sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup (45g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup (130ml) buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120g) pumpkin puree
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup (190g) caster sugar
  • canola oil, for frying
  1. Peel a approx 200-250g pumpkin, remove seeds and cut to smaller cubes. Place on a plate and steam for about 15 mins or till the pumpkin is soft. Test with a fork, it should insert easily. Remove and mash till fine.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. In the mixing bowl with a beater attached, combine eggs, sugar, and brown sugar beating until combined and slightly foamy. Add buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla, and pumpkin puree. Stir until smooth.
  4. Slowly add flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Lay out two large sheets of plastic wrap. Spritz plastic wrap with canola oil. Divide dough into two balls. Wrap in plastic wrap then flatten into discs. Refrigerate for at least two hours or up to overnight.
  5. Generously flour a large work surface. Take one of the discs and turn out the dough to coat with flour, sprinkling the surface of the dough with flour to lessen stickiness. (Note the dough is EXTREMELY sticky, don't be shy about adding flour until it's workable). Gently pat the dough to about ½ an inch thick. Use a floured 3 inch doughnut cutter to cut out doughnuts and place cut doughnuts on a well floured sheet of parchment paper. Collect any scraps and roll out dough to cut more doughnuts until all the dough is gone.
  6. Fill a Dutch oven or deep fryer with 2 inches of oil. Heat oil over medium high heat to 160 C. Using a shallow, heat resistant strainer, drop doughnuts in the oil and fry until a deep golden brown on both sides (about 2 minutes per side, use the color as your guide as the oil temperature can very with time).
  7. Use wooden chopsticks to turn the doughnuts. Be careful not to crowd the doughnuts in the pan (no more than 2 to 3 doughnuts at a time). Remove doughnuts immediately from the pan using a heat resistant strainer or tongs. Set on paper towel lined baking racks to cool. Once cooled slightly, toss in a paper bag with sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Or you may drizzle with white chocolate



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