Friday, April 30, 2010

Teochew Yam Paste (芋泥)



Yam Paste (芋泥) is the quintessential Teochew dessert. Eat at any Teochew restaurant and this will most likely be the only option on the dessert page. Call it what you want - Yam Paste, Taro Pudding, Teochew Taro ... it will always be Ou Nee to me.

I made this calorie-busting, artery-clogging, heart-attack-inducing dessert with some lovely yam I bought. Yes, Teochews love their yam (among other root vegetables), as you can see here and here.



Traditionally, lard was used to give it that smooth, silky texture and unmistakable aroma. Of course, in this day and age, vegetable oil has become the de facto substitute. Good or bad? Hmmm ... I have mixed feelings about this, depending on whether I am rooting for the "health" or "taste" camp.

Anyway, Ou Nee uses only three ingredients: yam, sugar and shallot oil (but a whole lot of the latter two).

This was my first time making this, and I didn't follow any recipe. Instead, I watched a video demo (see bottom of post) and referenced it with a good dose of estimation and taste-testing.

Recipe
(a very rough gauge)
- 1 yam, sliced*
* How large a yam?
To give you an estimate, the amount of my mashed yam filled up a large Chinese soup bowl.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup oil (or lard oil), add more if you want it smoother
- 4 shallots (sliced)



Do not add any water when you are mashing up the steamed yam, even if it looks dry.

1. Steam yam slices till fork tender (about 20 mins).

2. In the meantime, fry shallots in oil till fragrant. Scoop out shallots and reserve oil.

3. Mash steamed yam. You can use the back of a cleaver (as shown in the video), or a potato masher, or like me, just the back of a fork.

4. Pour in 1 cup of sugar into the mashed yam and fold in. If you watch the video, the presenter used pair of chopsticks and pressed the sugar into the yam, all the while turning the bowl. I used a fork and it worked fine. Just keep folding and distributing the sugar into the yam, working from the outside towards the centre of the bowl. Do not add any water. Taste test, and if you want it sweeter, load up on the sugar.

5. Heat up the shallot oil again. Add the mashed yam and start stirring with a spatula. Keep stirring, and you will see the yam take on a very smooth consistency as it absorbs the oil. It helps to use a non-stick pan. When the yam ends up like a well-kneaded ball of dough, you can remove it and serve. It's amazing when it's fresh from the skillet ... each spoonful literally glides down your throat!

6.
You can garnish the yam paste with gingko nuts or crispy shallots or with pureed pumpkin. I personally like it without anything else but for photography purposes, I added shallot crisps. Yeah, the things we do for our blogs! ;)



If you want to watch how Ou Nee is made, here's a cooking demonstration I stumbled upon ... in TEOCHEW!!! OMG, I couldn't believe my ears when I heard the cook (the lady in the yellow apron) speak in the Teochew dialect. I'm ashamed to say I only understood very little. :( Ah well, here it is!

Part 1


Part 2

Thursday, April 29, 2010

One Year On ...

Dear blog

How time flies! This day, last year, we started on this adventure together. It was my birthday, and I wanted to do something different. I joined a gazillion other people called "food bloggers" and never looked back.

One year on, and look at us ... we're still here! I was quite sure I would drop out after 3 months. ;) But truly, I couldn't be happier and prouder at how far we have come. And it's all in large part to our supportive friends and readers. What would we do without them?

So, tell me ... how do you like your birthday present? Yes, that new header. I thought it would be a nice change for you. And me? Well, I got an early birthday present two days ago!

I think you and quite a few people already know that I am, ahem, expecting ... a new DSLR, that is. ;) I did mention it here, and I got my wish.

So yes, I have a new baby in my arms, and it's a boy girl Canon 550D! Heh. Can't wait to see what another year of blogging brings, especially with this new addition. I'm raring to go! Sit tight. :)

Happy birthday (to us)!

Love
Ju

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Festive Rice

This post is dedicated to my friend, Daniela. My thoughts are with you, and I hope everything turns out as your heart desires. Auguri!

I was at the supermarket the other day and chanced upon some cookbooks on display. I grabbed one on rice dishes, and found a recipe which caught my eye. It was called Festive Rice, and I managed to peruse the ingredients list very briefly before my sons took off to play catch-me-if-you-can.

Boys.



I abandoned the book to give chase and thereafter got distracted. When I returned a few days later, the cookbooks were no longer there. :( All I remembered from that book was that the rice was mixed with softened onions and grated turmeric, and then cooked in coconut milk. To serve, top it with omelette shreds and wedges of zucchini and tomatoes.



Why it's called Festive Rice, I have no idea. I didn't even get a chance to note the title and author of the book. Gah, thanks a lot, boys! But I am guessing it's the colour that makes it look festive. You think?

Anyway, here's what I did. I fried some white onion slices till they were soft but not browned, then set them aside. In my rice cooker, I added my washed rice grains, poured in a packet of coconut cream (topped with some water) and a pinch of turmeric powder. I also added a pinch of salt. As the rice was cooking, I made an omelette and cut it into thick strips. The tomato and zucchini were cut into small cubes, and thrown on the side when the rice was ready to be served.

Easy, huh? And does it not look so cheery and summery? :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vegetable Curry

I am a fan of ready-made pastes, homemade or otherwise. They are lifesavers whenever a meal has to be whipped up quickly. As some of you may already know, I always have a jar of rempah in my fridge.

Here's a Vegetable Curry dish - a no-brainer, really - which I make using the rempah. I never thought of adding corn until I dined at a Thai restaurant in Katoomba. I was on a family vacation in Sydney and spent 2 days visiting the Blue Mountains.



Being tropical islanders, we were always in need of extra warmth (it was winter) despite being bundled in thick clothing. That came in the form of hot spicy food. This particular restaurant served really good vegetarian fare. Their curry, in particular, was aromatic and very delicious. I instantly noted the subtle sweetness the corn contributed to the gravy.

Come to think of it, that trip was about, what, seven years ago! Time for a re-visit, don't you think?!



Recipe
Use any combination of vegetables you like. My usual suspects are:
- Round cabbage
- Carrots
- Corn
- Brinjal (eggplant)
- Cauliflower
- Long beans
- Firm potatoes
- Tau kwa (firm tofu), cut into cubes and fried beforehand
- Hard boiled eggs

- 2 Tbsp rempah
- 1/2 packet coconut milk (I usually use Kara)
- Water
- Kaffir lime leaves or lemongrass stalks



1. In a large pot, heat some oil. Fry the rempah briefly.

2. Add in the vegetables except the tau kwa and hard boiled eggs. Mix and toss so that the rempah is mixed evenly.

3. Add some water so that the veggies don't burn. You don't need the veggies to be totally submerged - that would be too much water! For a start, add 2 rice bowls of water and take a look when it starts bubbling. It's best to keep your heat medium once you have reached a rolling boil. As long as the gravy is gently bubbling, it's good enough. Remember that as the cabbages soften, they also contribute water content to the gravy, so go easy on the water.

4. When the cabbages have wilted, add some coconut milk. Don't pour in all at once - add them in 2 or 3 instalments, so that the flavour is absorbed as the veggies cook. If it still looks dry, add a bit more water. Cover pot and allow curry to simmer.

5. Every now and then, give the curry a gentle stir and add more coconut milk. Throw in fried tau kwa cubes, hard boiled eggs and salt (to taste) about 5 mins before turning off the flame. The curry should be ready in approximately 30 mins.



It's a fallacy that meatless = bland. I can assure you that this dish certainly is anything but. Don't take my word though. Try it!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reduce Reuse Recycle With Tupperware

Here's an offer which would be of interest to readers in Singapore.

In conjunction with World Earth Day on 22nd April, Tupperware is running a promotion to help more people Reduce Reuse and Recycle.

Introducing the Tupperware Eco-Set.

Backed by a Lifetime Warranty, it's now available for S$10 (usual price S$20).

Like it? Want it? Here's how to get it. Simply head down to any of the outlets listed below or get in touch with an authorised Tupperware Brands Consultant, and share your tip on saving the environment!

Tupperware Brands Singapore
85 Defu Lane 10
#01-00
Singapore 539218
Tel: 800 601 1345

Causeway Point
No 1 Woodlands Square
#03-42A Causeway Point
Singapore 738099
Tel: 92711406 / 68937768

Bukit Batok
Block 273 Bukit Batok East Ave 4
#02-80
Singapore 650273
Tel: 93685252

Tampines
Blk 419 Tampines St 41
#01-82
Singapore 520419
Tel: 93893066 / 67898133

This promotion is valid from 21 April to 4 May. For more information, please refer to Tupperware's
website or call 800 601 1345.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Orange and Kaffir Lime Granita

I'm going to keep this post short because of my bad back. :(



I had some navel oranges and decided to juice them into a GRRRRANITA! I found a recipe quite easily, but I wanted to add a twist to it. I flavoured the syrup with kaffir lime leaves, and that gave a lovely dimension to what would otherwise have been flat-tasting orange juice in frozen form.



My daughter went crazy and had glass after glass. When I asked her why she liked it so much, she said it had "a nice zing" (without knowing what went into the granita).

Bingo.

Don't omit the kaffir lime leaves. They do make a difference. Cheers to icy cold drinks in scorching hot weather. Clink.

Recipe
(adapted from Food & Wine)

For the syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup regular sugar + 3tbsp sugar (cos I like it sweeter!)
- About 6 to 7 kaffir lime leaves, torn (sub with lemongrass if they are more easily available)

For the juice
- 2 cups fresh orange juice, strained



1. In a small saucepan, add water, sugar and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar until you get a syrup consistency. Discard the leaves and leave to cool.

2. In a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish (I used a metal baking tin), stir the cooled sugar syrup into the orange juice. Freeze for about 45 minutes, or until ice crystals form around the edge. Using a fork, stir the crystals into the center and freeze for about 30 minutes, until a thicker rim of crystals forms around the edges. Stir again and freeze for about 1 hour longer, stirring every 15 minutes or so until all the juice is frozen.

3. Scoop the granita into serving glasses, and top with vanilla ice cream (optional).

4. The granita can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 days; re-scrape before serving.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Goma Ice-cream

Black sesame always gives a classy edge to food, and Goma ice-cream is a fine example. This, my friends, is ice-cream all grown up. I, for one, can never say no to the seductive, goth appeal of this dessert. How do I resist thee? Oh, sweet surrender.


Melting ice-cream and condensation on the cup ... incredibly photogenic. :)

The past few days have been crazy, crazy hot. And whilst browsing through various recipes, I realised I was subconsciously drawn to ice-creams and granite (plural of granita). I'll be the first to tell you that subliminal advertising works. It really does, because the next thing I knew, I was preparing the ingredients to make Goma ice-cream.

Goma, as you know, refers to sesame seed in Japanese. Unhulled white sesame seed is called shiro-goma, and black sesame seed is called kuro-goma.
Information taken from here.

I chose to make kuro-goma ice-cream with the sesame seeds I had leftover from making this dish.

Mistake.

The recipe called for black sesame paste. I thought that I could make my own by pounding the seeds. What was I thinking?! Super woman I am not, and there was not a chance I could achieve a smooth, paste-like texture ... which was why my ice-cream turned out so grainy.

After pounding till my own head pounded, I still got a gritty consistency. :( Sigh. Lesson to all, get a bottle of sesame paste if you are thinking of making this ice-cream. Otherwise, it tasted really nice. Not too sweet, and very creamy and nutty.

LOVES♥

I will try this again for sure, when I buy a bottle of ready-made paste! *face palm*

Updated (19 April)
- I received an email from Jade, who shared with me a precious tip, which I am publishing verbatim.
"I've always made mine with black sesame powder ~ the kind you get in sachets and mix with water to get instant 'hei zhi ma hu' and found that it works best because you get really concentrated flavour and there's no excess liquid that might interfere with the consistency of the ice cream. Saves you a lot of time and energy too ... The final product lacks that dark intensity colour-wise, you get a sort of pale speckled dove grey, but the flavour is in no way compromised."


Thank you, Jade!



Recipe
(from my buttery fingers and originally adapted from Junko Fukuda)

- 60g black sesame paste
- 180ml milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 70g + 2 tbsp sugar (measure separately)
- 120ml whipping cream
- 1 tbsp ground black sesame seeds

1. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp of sugar with the black sesame paste until smooth.

2. In a separate large bowl, whisk together 70g sugar and the egg yolks until pale yellow.

3. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until just about to boil.

4. Mix the yolks and the milk, adding the milk in small portions (so you don't end up with scrambled eggs!)

5. Pour the mixture (the custard) back into the pan. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens - it should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

6. Strain the custard. Mix the custard with the black sesame mixture, adding the custard in small portions (or the mixture will separate).

7. Place the bowl over an ice bath to cool, stirring occasionally. Chill the mixture until thoroughly cold.

8. Mix the cream and ground sesame seeds into the cold ice cream mixture.

9. Churn the ice cream in an ice-cream maker, for around 20 minutes (time may differ according to your machine).
* I do not own an ice-cream maker, so I simply put the mixture into a metal container (with lid) and placed it into the freezer. I churned by hand, every 1.5 hours for 3 hours, to break the ice crystals.


Ice-cream the colour of graphite. Welcome to the dark side.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

After my last post "Time Out", I received quite a number of emails expressing concern and telling me to keep on blogging. Thank you so very much for your encouragement ... you know who you all are. I am really touched and I certainly have no intention of quitting this blog. :) In fact, here's another post to prove my word. Enjoy!

I wanted to bake something simple for tea and I remembered this Hot Milk Sponge Cake from Tish Boyle. It looked deliciously light and fluffy, and I was quite sure my family would like it.




I got quite excited upon seeing the texture. It reminded me of Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake! I had a few slices, and they were utterly delicious. It tasted so much like Ji Dan Gao (Kai Dan Kou)!




I saved some batter to make cupcakes for my children. I also decorated them with Royce' Chocolates and some Korean strawberries, just for the heck of it. Incidentally, the chocolates were a gift from my neighbour to my daughter for her recent birthday. My neighbours are really nice. :)

Here's how you make this really easy but lovely cake:

Recipe
(adapted from The Cake Book by Trish Boyle)

- 1 1/3 cups cake flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract



1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt twice. Then set aside.

2. Combine butter and milk in a saucepan, heat on medium until the butter has just about melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Using the whisk attachment, beat your eggs on high until blended, about 1 minute.

4. Add your vanilla extract/beans and sugar gradually and beat until pale and tripled in volume. About 6 minutes according to the book.

5. Sift one third of your flour mixture into your egg mixture. Fold it in with a rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture in 2 more additions.

6. Reheat the milk mixture until just under a boil. Then add the hot milk mixture into the batter and fold it in.

7. Scrape the batter into a prepared pan. The book suggested a 9-inch cake pan. But I used a 7-inch greased pan and it worked too! Hahaha ... don't ask me how it's even possible. I have no idea!

8. Pop it in the oven at 175 degree celsius for 20 to 25 mins. When done, put a toothpick in and it should come out clean. Cool the cake before serving.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Time Out

Dear Friends

I've been terribly busy of late and it's time for me to realign my priorities. Something's got to give, and you know what I am about to say next, don't you?

*takes deep breath*

Here goes: I am quitting.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

But NOT from blogging. Haha, heavens no!

I was referring to blogging's social scene. ;) The truth is, I'm well and truly up to my neck with things that I must do, and I'm just not able to visit your beautiful blogs as regularly as I would like to. :(

So, please don't think I am ignoring you. I will pop by and say hello at every chance I have. Promise! *cross my heart*

At the same time, I will be suspending comments on my blog for an indefinite period of time. My email is always there if you need to get in touch. Other than these adjustments, nothing else will change. In the meantime, it's Business Blogging As Usual!

Stick around, won't you? :)
Ju

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cream Of Carrot Soup (Potage Crécy)



Here is something I made a few days ago. It was a toss between Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting or Cream of Carrot Soup. I bought two packets of baby carrots, not realising I already had some in my fridge. Then my mom came over with some foodstuff AND a packet of baby carrots. So, that makes 2kgs of carrots!!! Chomp chomp chomp ... what's up, doc?

In the end, it was Cream of Carrot Soup because of popular vote. My children love the soup at Parkway Parade's Caffe Bar better, but this version was good on its own too. Well, not a drop was left after lunch, so that says a lot, doesn't it?



This is also my first time embellishing my photos with word fonts. I like the effect but I can foresee myself doing this only if I have got time on my hands. It takes effort to select the right type of fonts to complement the photos.

Anyway, here you go ... Cream of Carrot Soup, or if you want it more classy, say it in French - Potage Crécy!



Recipe
(from Easy French Food)
Makes about six 1-cup servings.

- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled if needed and sliced thinly
- 1 large potato, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I only used 2 cups stock + 1 cup water)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- Salt to taste
- Chives, chopped (I subbed with parsley)



1. In a large sturdy soup pot (or Dutch oven), melt the butter on medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots, potato, and garlic in the butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and pepper and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down so that the soup is just barely bubbling. Cover the pot and cook the soup for 30 minutes.
* I used a pressure cooker and the soup was done in 15 minutes.


2. Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool enough so you can comfortably puree it, using either a food processor or blender. Work in small batches and watch out for hot splashing soup! Once it is pureed return the soup to a pot. You can also puree this soup using a stainless steel food mill for a very smooth soup.
* I used a potato masher followed by a whisk. You'll get a slightly textured soup this way.


3. When you are done pureeing all the soup, stir in the whipping cream and season to taste with salt and additional pepper. You can further season this soup with such things as powdered dry ginger, cumin, curry or cayenne. All of these flavors go very nicely with carrots.

4. Heat the soup to serve. Serve in bowls and garnish with chopped chives.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Little Man Turns Five

To answer some of you who asked in my last post on Salmon Teriyaki, yes, I am still using the DSLR. :) I've been cooking and baking A LOT, just so that I can photograph my food. Isn't it silly? But hey, might as well get busy while the camera is still in my possession.

I am also taking into consideration all your clever suggestions to report loss of the camera, hide it and just keep it. LOL!

My older son - the alpha male - turns 5 today. This was the cake I baked for his class yesterday - a remake of Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake. I know it looks feminine (I wanted to use up the remainder of the sugared daisies), but I made up for it by getting him a very macho-looking set of Hot Wheels cars and a rocket ship for his birthday presents!


If you watch Nigella make her cake here, you will notice that I decorated my cake quite like hers. Note however, that I did not use her frosting recipe.

I know the cake was a hit because I saw many of his classmates go back for seconds and thirds. Chocolate is always foolproof with kids. :) Oh, and the teachers and principal needn't have stopped me after school to tell me how much they loved the cake ... but I am grateful they did. All the positive feedback truly made my day.

I am abruptly ending this post here because we're all going out to somewhere nice for lunch now. :) After eating, I just want a nap. LOL. It has been a very long and trying week. Thank goodness the weekend is here. Hope you'll all take the time to relax and recharge too!


I had so much fun photographing this cake ... picking out which sugared flower I wanted to focus on, and which I wanted to blur. :) I love playing with the DSLR.

Happy birthday, my dear son! You've brought so much happiness into my life, and I can only hope to do the same for you.

PS: The countdown ends today ... you can finally unwrap all your presents! :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Salmon Teriyaki



You know how those chain restaurants serve their fish in teriyaki sauce, right? It's usually a pathetic slice slathered in way too much sauce. I suppose it makes a lot of sense. These restaurants probably use fish that is not supremely fresh, so drenching it in all that sauce will help mask the fishy odour.

At home, when I cook Salmon Teriyaki, I use very little sauce. When you know you are using fresh fish, why smother its natural sweetness with sauce? Here's how I usually prepare this dish ... truly fast food in every sense of the word.



I used to marinate the fish in homemade teriyaki sauce for about an hour before cooking, but I have since done away with that, and it still tastes good. I simply salt the fish fillets lightly and panfry them. In the meantime, I would make the sauce:

- 2 tbsp sugar (slightly more if you want it sweeter and more viscous)
- 2 tbsp mirin* (or cut down to 1 tbsp if you don't want it too strong)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (use Kikkoman but Lee Kum Kee works fine too)
* I buy my big 1-litre bottle from Giant supermarket.

It may look like very little sauce, but believe me, it's enough to drizzle onto the fish (I usually buy fillets around 300g and cut into smaller slabs).

Put all that into a saucepan and boil over a low flame. Once it bubbles, stir to dissolve all the sugar. Make sure your flame is not too big or the sauce will burn. Within minutes, you'll see that the sauce will thicken slightly and turn glossy. Turn off the fire and leave it to cool. Note that if you want your teriyaki sauce to be syrupy like those commercially-made ones, you'll have to add more sugar.

Once your fish fillets are seared, place them on a cooling rack for about 3mins, then transfer to a serving plate. Drizzle teriyaki sauce over and you're ready to eat.



Oh, one other thing ... chopsticks are not just utensils for eating; they have religious connotations too. Be mindful how you use your chopsticks in Asian cultures, especially in the presence of older folks. If used improperly, they almost always symbolise death or bad omens.

For example, DON'T cross your chopsticks! Good grief, I have seen this in so many food photos. It's totally taboo in chopstick-wielding cultures. Also, never ever stick chopsticks vertically into your rice - it is symbolic of offerings for the deceased.

If you want to know more about chopsticks etiquette, have a look at Wikipedia as well as this article. The rules vary among Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and Vietnamese cultures ... but only slightly. Superstition or not, I think it is only polite to respect these rules of etiquette. Besides, you don't want to get hollered at and have your hand smacked by my Grandma! ;)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Singha Beer, Saint Pierre and Stroobant


Private room at Saint Pierre.

Two weeks ago, I had lunch at Saint Pierre. It was one meal I really looked forward to. Hosted by Singha Beer, in collaboration with Saint Pierre, it promised to be an afternoon of culinary pleasures, specially created by celebrity chef-owner, Emmanuel Stroo-hoo-hoo-hoo-bant (that's me hyperventilating as I type).


This is him - the Chef in Black. Photo borrowed from here.


Da Chef In Da Flesh! (I did the silent squeal when he walked in).

Chef Emmanuel came to say hello to all the guests - mainstream media and bloggers - before the meal was served. He explained how and why he came up with the dishes he prepared. Obviously, nothing registered in my head because I was too distracted ... by his charming European accent, of course.

As it was a sit-down luncheon, we didn't get to mingle with everyone. But seated with me were fellow food bloggers, Aromacookery, Camemberu, Ladyironchef and Hungry Cow. Needless to say, I was in good company.

Here's what we had:

Beer and fine dining may seem like strange bedfellows, but Chef Emmanuel proved them otherwise.


Freshly baked rolls for starters, with salted butter that was to-die-for. Singha Beer, was of course, the drink du jour ... and we gamely chugged straight from the bottle.


North sea grey shrimp salad with thousand island ice-cream, momotaro tomato and organic avocado mousse.
Egad! Thousand island ice-cream?! So incredibly simple but utterly brilliant. All salads should be served with Thousand island ice-cream.


Saffron infused mussel consommé with low temperature braised patte jaune chicken and spring vegetable julienne.
Pure and unadulterated, the way a consommé should be. Consommés are expensive, difficult and time-consuming to make, so each drop is literally liquid gold. If Brand's were to come up with a seafood version of their Chicken Essence, they wouldn't have to look any further. The broth had such a powerful, intense briny taste, I couldn't help but wonder how many pounds of mussels went into filling this shallow soup plate?


Singha jelly with lemongrass infused scallop mousse and wild herb salad.
Ah, the pièce de résistance - the Singha Signature Dish. My compliments to the Chef for his originality. It is easy to cook, but not so easy to create. How many people can think of infusing beer with jelly and then wrap it around smooth-as-silk scallop mousse? Accompanying the mousse were the freshest scallops and the mealiest potatoes. That's award-winning cuisine for you.


Cheese platter (from left to right ): Brie, Comte, Munster and Goat's Cheese.
While everyone had four cheeses each, Ladyironchef and I had an extra cheese between us, literally. Camemberu, of course! She was sitting in the middle, you see. :) I liked the Munster best, followed by the Comte, Goat Cheese and Brie, in that order.


Caramelized banana crusted flourless Belgian chocolate cake and coconut sorbet.
Grandma Stroobant would be proud! The cake was decadent and rich, without being overtly sweet. Belgian chocolate ... need I say more? I wished there were more pieces of caramelised bananas. They were tiny nuggets of heaven.


(From left to right): Petit fours, fancy sugar lumps, caffè latte.


As we were leaving, the pungent smell of cheeses arrested us in our tracks. Surveying all the different varieties, we managed to locate the Munster, our group favourite.

For anyone keen to try out the Singha Signature Dish, it is now available at Saint Pierre upon request with prior reservation. Beer and fine dining? Yes, we can!

Saint Pierre
1 Magazine Road
#01-01 Central Mall
Singapore 059567
Tel: 6438-0887

Many thanks to Singha Beer and Saint Pierre for hosting us, and the kind people at The Right Spin for the invitation.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Doughnut Pops

My friend, K, is making a huge mistake lending me his DSLR and all his fancy schmancy lenses. I say "mistake" because he's never going to get them back! Muahahahaha!

Oh relax, I'm just kidding, of course. :) I'll return them as promised, albeit reluctantly. That camera bag and its contents are worth a small fortune, and as long as they are in my home, rest assured I will be treating them with more TLC than with my own children.



Look at these photos and tell me, how on earth am I ever going back to my little Panasonic? DSLRs are awesome. DSLRs make my food look good. They make me feel like an A-list food blogger. They make me happy. My birthday is just around the corner. Am I making any sense, dear husband? Oh, save it. He doesn't read my blog.



Before I turn this post into a monologue on DSLRs, let's go back to the topic of food. Doughnuts, to be specific. As you may know, Zurin is currently taking a break from blogging, and I wanted to send some love and hits her way.

Besides, when I saw those fat and fabulous ring doughnuts she made recently, I promised myself I would make some too. I love our local doughnuts ... of the spongy, bread-like variety. When I went to KL last December, I ate my first Krispy Kreme and almost died ... and not in a good way. It was not only sickeningly sweet but also dense and cakey.

CAKEY.

If I wanted cakey, I'd eat a cake, thank you very much. No, no, no. Give me my regular 2-for-$1 doughnuts from my humble neighbourhood confectionery. Kam siah.



I knew I'd never be able to replicate Zurin's beautiful ring doughnuts, so why even try? OK, I lied. I tried and they were the sorriest looking doughnuts ever. That was when I had to think of Plan B. Fast. When I saw the packet of lollipop sticks lying on my kitchen table, I immediately knew what to do. Make Doughnut Pops! Those lolly sticks were leftover from my failed Cake Pops project (yeah, the ones made famous by Bakerella). I was supposed to have made them for my daughter's birthday but the trial run ended up so tragic I had to turn to frosted cupcakes instead. Ah well ...

Anyhow, Doughnut Pops are nothing new. In fact, they are very much like the doughnut balls we - children of the 70s - grew up eating. Four balls skewered on a satay stick and generously coated in sugar. Bliss.


I have seen this bowl-in-hands type photo in so many blogs, I gotta have one on mine too, dammit!

Recipe
(largely adapted from Cherry on a Cake)

- 8oz plain flour
- 1 1/2oz castor sugar
- 2 tsp dried yeast (I used the same amount of instant yeast)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1oz butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsps milk
- 3 tbsps boiling water
- Oil for frying



1. Measure the milk into a measuring jug and then add the boiling water, a teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast. Stir it and leave the jug in a warm place for about 10 minutes till the yeast mixture froths. Put the rest of the sugar, the salt and the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter. Then pour in the beaten egg and frothy yeast mixture and stir and mix to a smooth dough. If it seems a little dry add a teaspoon or so of warm water.

2. Turn the dough out onto a board and knead for about 10 minutes by which time it should feel springy and show slight blisters just under the surface. Return it to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise until double in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

3. When it has risen tip it out onto a board and punch it down to disperse large air bubbles. Divide the dough into 24 equal parts and shape into balls.

4. Once shaped, deep fry in oil until they turn golden brown (about 2 minutes). Do no overcrowd the wok.

5. Drain on kitchen paper before tossing them in a bowl of castor sugar. Or you could use cinnamon or vanilla sugar too. Poke a lolly stick into each ball and out come your Doughnut Pops!

I am submitting this post to yeastspotting. :)


You gotta admit, whether or not you like doughnuts, these are adorable.