Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake

I could not have chosen a worse day to take these photos. It was Wet Wednesday, the day it rained and rained, and Singapore's iconic shopping belt - Orchard Road - transformed into Venice. You can imagine how gloomy the skies were ... not a great day to take photos but I tried my best.

Anyhow, bad lighting should not take away the spotlight from today's treat.



This cheesecake steals the limelight with its incredibly soft texture. Well, it's not called a soufflé cheesecake for nothing. The "problem" was, like a soufflé, it looked better in the oven - all tall and proud. The moment I took them out, they started deflating. Sob sob. :(


Photos taken under harsh fluorescent kitchen lights because it was just SO dark. :(



I turned them upside down because I thought they looked better this way. The tops were kinda wrinkly and I'm sure you prefer to see their cute baby-soft bottoms instead.

This is an original recipe from the awesome Corner Cafe, which you can find here.


So light it is like eating clouds. White, fluffy clouds, that is ... not those black, ominous ones, which spoil your photos. :(

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pomodoro Sauce

The new school term started today and there were tantrums, protests and whining early in the morning. And that was me. My children, on the other hand, were slow and sleepy, but thankfully co-operative. Well, I we will adapt soon enough. Soon enough. :)

Here is an easy dish I make when I don't feel like eating (but know that I have to). I had two large and ripe tomatoes on the brink of expiry, and turned them into a really simple Pomodoro Sauce. I poured it over my freshly cooked penne, sprinkled some grated parmesan cheese and also dried chilli flakes to fire things up a little ... and tadah! I had one hot dish ready for lunch.







Recipe
(adapted from Tyler Florence)

For the Pomodoro Sauce (yields 4 servings)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons white onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh herbs (oregano, basil, parsley), chopped - I used parsley
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pinch of sugar - you'll need more if you are using local tomatoes, which are very tart
- 3 or 4 tbsp Passata* depending on how much gravy you want (I like the brand, Mutti)

*Source: Passata is made from ripe tomatoes that have been puréed and sieved to remove the skin and seeds. It is sold in jars and can be smooth or chunky depending on the sieving.

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic and onion in oil for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and herbs, continue to simmer for 5 minutes until the tomatoes soften. Add a little water if too dry. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Add passata, bring to a quick boil and turn off the heat.

2. Pour this over hot, freshly cooked pasta (I used penne) and sprinkle grated parmesan cheese and/or chilli flakes. Buon appetito!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Krish

It's sad that I am doing home reno at the moment ... because I have just found my dream home ... and there is not a chance I can replicate it in my own apartment. :(

Just look:






Welcome to my French kitchen! Does this not look like a scene from Julie & Julia? *wistful sigh*

Stepping into Krish, I felt like I had accidentally stumbled upon a secret European corner in tropical Singapore. I so loved every bit of the interior - it was pretty and idyllic and quirky. And I could go on and on and on. ;)

I remember thinking to myself, if I lived in a house like this, I would bake lots of pretty desserts for afternoon tea, like Swedish Visiting Cake, Choux Puffs and Pavlova. Everyday. And you'd all be invited too. :)

I was glad I arrived early to take photos because it took me quite a while to settle down from the excitement of seeing the beautiful interior. When I finally did, we were shown the menu. Here's what we had. First the drinks:


Coffee for the adults; Juices for the young ones. Check out the cute sugar lumps.

Then came these:


(Clockwise from left): Roti John Sandwich (on orange plate); Chicken Sausages; Parmesan Fries; Breakfast Chapati Wrap.

More food started arriving. It's nice to see a table laden with food, yes?


I wish I could say I cooked all these. Heh.


Parmesan Fries.
Savoury and finger-lickin' good. Nothing like starting the day with salt and grease. This was especially loved by the kids.


Breakfast Chapati Wrap - Egg, Bacon, White Cheddar, Roasted Potato, Peppers, Caramelised Onions.
The chapati was made from scratch and had a lovely chewy texture. It would have gone well with any stuffing - and indeed, even if eaten plain - but the eggy-cheesy filling was super.


(Left) Krish Eggs Benedict - Curried Duck Breast, Poached Eggs, Hollandaise. (Right) Plain Eggs Benedict.
These was the two dishes that didn't impress. The eggs were poached right - runny yolks and all - but the whites had a strong lingering sour taste (too much vinegar, chef). The slices of duck breast in the Krish Eggs Benedict were also very tough, and were left largely untouched. Pity, because they were beautifully presented! And I'm such a diehard "eggs-for-breakfast" person at that. :( Sniff.


(Left) Plain Buttermilk Pancakes. (Right) Buttermilk Pancakes topped with Strawberries.
They make fabulous pancakes here! Fluffy and moist, yet crisp on the outside. I'd come back for these pancakes alone.


Kingfisher beer battered Fish & Chips with Curried Mayonnaise.
Very fresh and nicely seasoned, and best of all, a batter that was not too thick. Gosh, I hate batters that are so chunky, the entire fish fillet separates from it and slides out when you cut into it! This one was done just right. It was perfect with the Curried Mayonnaise too, which I. HAVE. TO. TRY. MAKING!


The Krish Hash (seen right above the Fish & Chips) tasted like pureed yam rice. One of the kids ordered it but us adults ended up polishing it up. It's savoury and creamy and really addictive.

I must say, there are two things I really like about the food here.

First, there are many options for non-meat eaters. Ever since I have stopped eating meat (save for the occasional seafood), I have been on the lookout for eateries which cater to vegetarians. Second, I liked that the food for the children are adults' food in smaller portions. I am extremely turned off by places which only offer nuggets, hash browns and cocktail sausages for their children's menu. Grrr. Not here at Krish, thankfully.



After eating, we ambled around and explored the equally lovely surrounds, while my daughter and her friend had drinks on the swing. Krish is extremely child-friendly and families with children will find this a wonderful place to enjoy a relaxing Sunday brunch.

KRISH
9 Rochester Park
Singapore 139220
Tel: 6779 4644
Brunch is available on Sundays. Krish also serves dinner on weekdays and caters to private functions. For more information, visit their website.

Many thanks to Rikki and Nat for your hospitality, as well as Danielle of Ate Consulting, for this generous invitation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Atayef (Pancakes) With Blueberry Sauce And Cream Cheese


Atayef With Blueberry Sauce and Cream Cheese.


Like I mentioned in my Strawberry Shortcake post, blueberries are in full force at the supermarkets right now, and of course I got some for myself. I have to confess, I am not particularly fond of blueberries ... but when everyone around you is snapping up a few punnets at one go, you go grab some too. Talk about herd mentality, huh?

Anyway, I made a jammy blueberry sauce the next day, and was looking for a pancake recipe when I chanced upon some beautiful Atayef at Joumana's equally beautiful blog. According to her, "Atayef are the equivalent of American pancakes ... [they] are considered a dessert, not a breakfast food; in Beirut, there are shops where people order these; you can get the clotted cream or ashta there and the syrup as well."

I don't know about you, but these are soooo good, I could eat them for dessert AND breakfast! Mmmmm ...

Alright, so there are three recipes in today's post, but don't be daunted. They are all very easy, trust me. First, let's start with the blueberry sauce, which can be done the day before (and refrigerated).

Recipe for Blueberry Sauce
(from here)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 tbsp lemon juice


Cook all these ingredients in a saucepan over a low flame, stirring constantly. Cook for as long as you want your blueberries to be mushy. I allowed mine to soften and split, but still retain their shape.

And then you get this:


Tadah! Blueberry sauce served up by The Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato!

Next, we have to make the sweetened Cream Cheese Mixture. I don't have any photos for this, but basically, you add these ingredients together and whip them into a creamy blend:

Recipe for Cream Cheese Mixture
(Guesswork by The Little Teochew)
- 200g Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened)
- 40g unsalted butter (softened)
- 2 tbsps icing sugar
- Splash of milk (if too dry)
* You can adjust the proportions here and there ... it's up to you. If you like, you can even add a few drops of vanilla extract.

Now that you have the Cream Cheese mixture, set aside while you make the Atayef.

Recipe Atayef (Pancakes)
(from Taste of Beirut)
See notes by The Little Teochew in italics.
- 1 cup plain flour (better if you use cake flour)*
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp sugar (I used my vanilla sugar!)
* If you don't have cake flour, simply take away 2 tbsps of the plain flour and replace with 2 tbsps of corn flour.

1. In a small bowl, sift the flour, sugar and baking powder; mix with a wire whisk.

2. Pour the milk in a bowl; gradually add the flour, sugar and baking powder mixture.

3. Mix with the wire whisk; the consistency should be a little thicker than a crêpe batter. If the batter is too thick, add a little milk. Do not let it rest.

4. Heat a crêpe or pancake nonstick skillet till very hot; grease it with a half teaspoon of oil or spray it; place the equivalent of 1/4 cup of batter in the skillet to form a circle. Let it cook for a few minutes on one side; when it has formed little bubbles and it looks dry, take it out onto a plate. Do not flip it.
* I did not grease my non-stick pan at all, and my Atayef still turned out perfect. :) Also, I made mini ones - don't I always! - and found pouring the batter from a measuring jug (with spout) a breeze.

5. As soon as all the Atayef are cooked, fill them with some ashta (cream) a bit of cherry coulis, pinching on one end to form a spoon shape and place in a serving platter; serve right away or refrigerate for a few hours.
* I made one pancake at a time. Each time a pancake was cooked, I would place it on a cooling rack and pinch the sides, and then make the next pancake. Only after I had finished using up all the batter did I start filling up the pancakes with cream and blueberry sauce.

Here's how the Atayef looks like when it's fresh off the pan and briefly cooled:


The holes indicate the pancakes are cooked. When the pancakes are still warm (but cool enough to handle), pinch the sides and hold for a short while. They will stick and form these lovely 'petals'.

Make A LOT ... you will want to eat more.


Cloning for a good reason.

And don't forget to bring out a dainty teacup and saucer to match.


Like my teacup set? It's a gift. :) I am really lucky.


Fill them up with generous dollops of Cream Cheese.


Then dot with jammy blueberry sauce.

You can use ricotta cheese or clotted cream or whipped cream with any fruit preserve you like. But imagine the marriage of Cream Cheese with Blueberry Sauce ... like a deconstructed Blueberry Cheesecake that's stuffed in a Pancake! Oh. My. Glee.




You should have seen the looks on my helper's and daughter's faces when they ate these! Eyes widened at first bite, and then shut tight in bliss thereafter.
:) 'Nuff said.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Crispy Tofu With Salted Eggs



It all started with a newspaper advertorial for a local hotel's restaurant. I saw the tofu dishes on promotion and zoomed in straight into this one:


Crispy Tofu, Corn Tossed with Salted Egg, Curry Leaves and Chilli Padi. Woooo ... sounds good! But to taste this dish, you'd have to eat it at The Fairmont Singapore. So, let's just wing it and make it at home, shall we?

I had two salted eggs in the larder and this dish was perfect. For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with salted duck eggs, here's what they look like:


Fear not. That black stuff, according to Wikipedia, is damp salted charcoal and is meant to be removed. Haha! Rinse well under running water.


We are only using the yolks for this dish. As you can see, the yolks are firm and hold their shape even though they are uncooked. Mash them up like I did.


Fresh Chinese Tofu and Curry Leaves.

I suppose you can use any type of tofu (except silken tofu which may not hold well during frying), but I chose fresh Chinese tofu from the wet market (see picture above). The texture is not as smooth as those packaged ones at the supermarket but you really taste the natural beany goodness in every bite.


(Left) Golden and crispy tofu cubes; (Right) Salted duck egg yolks bubbling in butter. Mmmmmm.

When you fry the tofu, please don't do a half-hearted job. Take the time and effort to fry till they are golden and crispy on the outside. Otherwise you will end up with tofu that is fried but still mushy ... and if you want mushy tofu, you are better off eating it steamed or in soups. One of my pet peeves is eating fried tofu that is NOT crispy! Yuck.

Recipe
(guess work by The Little Teochew)
- 1 slab fresh Chinese tofu, cut into cubes
- 2 salted duck egg yolks, mashed
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 chilli padi (bird's eye chilli), sliced thinly (optional)
- 1 knob butter or margarine
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Note: I omitted corn because I didn't have any, but that shouldn't stop you from adding them if you like.

1. In a skillet, fry tofu cubes in oil until lightly browned. Add in garlic, curry leaves (as well as chilli padi and corn, if using) and continue frying till tofu is crispy and golden brown. Set aside and drain off excess oil.

2. In the same skillet, add a knob of butter or margarine, followed by salted duck egg yolks (mashed). Allow everything to bubble and foam.

3. Throw tofu cubes back in and mix everything to coat.

4. Taste test and season with salt or pepper if desired. Dish up and serve.


I omitted chilli padi because it was a dish for the whole family. But I would most certainly add some if I were cooking this for the adults only.

Overall, the dish was decent but nothing to shout about. I am pretty sure it has to do with me omitting the chilli padi and corn. I think I will just have to experiment again and see. That, or pay to eat the chef's creation. ;)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

I have a lot on my plate right now - and I'm not referring to food - so I haven't been in the kitchen much. Besides, I have a newfound love. These days, after I am done attending to my kids, home reno and errands, you'll hardly find me sitting in front of my laptop dutifully blogging (or reading blogs). Heavens, no. Instead, I make myself a nice hot cuppa tea and watch GLEE online. Heh heh. High five to any GLEE fans reading! ;)

Anyway, here's a dessert I made when strawberries were still dominating the supermarket shelves. Since then, blueberries have slowly but surely taken over, and I can't wait to make a nice blueberry cake soon. But for today, let's shine the spotlight on the strawberries.



These beautiful long-stemmed ones were from Cold Storage. I grabbed a box, admiring their fresh, pristine state. They were a far cry from the tired, bruised ones I saw the day before at another supermarket chain (every punnet was bad ... how they had to audacity to put them up for sale is beyond me).

We ate most of these juicy strawberries as is, but I saved some for making Strawberry Shortcake - the American version, that is ... which consists of strawberries and whipped cream sandwiched in a split biscuit (scone). It is a classic dessert that is not to be confused with the Japanese Strawberry Shortcake, which is a frosted sponge cake with layers of strawberries and whipped cream.

I used the recipe from Joe Pastry, who gave a wonderful photo-by-photo tutorial. The one thing that fascinated me was the addition of hardboiled egg yolks to the biscuit dough. As Joe explained, "The biscuits are a variation of my go-to recipe, but sweeter and incorporating Rose Levey Beranbaum's trick of adding hard-cooked egg yolk for extra color, lightness and tenderness ..."

Genius.



The weather was crazy hot that day, and while it was the perfect time to enjoy this treat, it was a nightmare to take photos. I could not get any good shots when the cream refused to co-operate, and I couldn't care less either. I just wanted to eat! That's all you're getting today, folks. ONE photo of my Strawberry Shortcake, melting cream and all. :)

Was it good? Hell yeah!

Recipe
(from Joe Pastry)
- 220g plain flour
- 2 hardboiled egg yolks, pressed through a fine mesh strainer
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 30g sugar
- 56g cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 177ml buttermilk

- About 4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
- 4 tablespoons sugar

- 1 recipe Chantilly Cream

1. Preheat oven to 260 degree celsius*, arranging a rack on the top shelf of the oven. Once that's done, combine the fruit and the sugar and allow to sit (macerate).
* I don't know about you, but for my oven, 260 degree celsius would be too hot. I didn't want my biscuit tops to burn, especially when they were sprinkled with sugar. So, I lowered it to 220 and it worked fine for me.

2. Sift the flour and leavening together into a bowl. Add the salt and egg yolk and whisk to combine. Add butter and rub between your fingers until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add cold buttermilk and with a spatula, slowly and gently bring the dough together. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead once or twice to form a smooth dough. Pat into a mass about 3/4-inch thick (about 2cm) and using a biscuit cutter, cut into 2 3/4-inch rounds (about 7cm). You'll have 7-8 portions. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and bake 10-12 minutes until golden.

3. Prepare the Chantilly cream. When the biscuits have cooled, split them and lay them on individual plates. Spoon on some of the Chantilly cream, then a layer of the macerated strawberries, then apply the tops of the biscuits. Add another layer of Chantilly cream and finish with more strawberries. Consume immediately, with gusto.

For step-by-step photos, click here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Muah Chee (Microwaved Version)



There are some dishes I make just for the heck of it, and Muah Chee certainly falls into this category.

This was my all-time, number one, favourite childhood dessert ... and I am happy to note that my daughter has inherited the same love for this sweet snack.

I would never have thought of making my own Muah Chee because it is streetfood that is cheap and quite easily available. But when I chanced upon this packet of peanut powder at the supermarket, I started wondering if I could make my own, since it involves nothing more than cooking glutinous rice flour with water and oil.



I was in luck because when I googled for an easy Muah Chee recipe, I found this microwaved version at the wonderful Little Corner of Mine. It originally came from Gina of Kitchen Capers, and it goes like this:

Recipe
(A)
- 250g glutinous rice flour
- 375ml water
- 2 tbsp shallot oil

Mix (A) in a covered Pyrex bowl and microwave on high for 7 mins. Cut into tiny pieces using a kitchen scissor and drop it into the peanuts and sugar mixture. Coat well and serve immediately.
* Note from The Little Teochew: Don't do that. It's going to be sticky and messy if you try and cut small pieces directly from the bowl. Instead, do it like the Muah Chee hawkers. They always cut a big piece out and plonk it into the peanut/sugar mixture, and then start cutting into small pieces. This way, as you cut and roll the little pieces around in the peanut mix, they don't stick to one another, or your scissors, anymore.

(B)
- 250g peanuts, toasted and ground finely
- 50g sugar
* Or use ready peanut mix like me (which you should test taste first ... I added more sugar as it wasn't sweet enough for my sweet tooth).

Mix (B) together to create peanuts and sugar mixture.


This is what you get after 7 mins - a soft, sticky and gooey texture.



Serve them in individual portions, with toothpicks!



I am going to make this again tonight (among other yummy snacks), to eat while I watch the opening match between South Africa and Mexico! I can't believe World Cup is here again. Time really flies ... four years have passed???

Good luck to all the teams!


Who is/are your favourite(s)?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Breakfast Char Kway Teow

The loud pattering of rain rudely roused me from my slumber and I grudgingly woke up. Trudging to the window all bleary-eyed, I found myself staring out to this:



Dang. I just wanted to sleep some more. :( But since my brood had also awakened (groan!), I had no choice but to start the day, but not without first fixing up some carb-laden Breakfast Char Kway Teow.


After all, we need to put some cheer on a day when the sun has forgotten to shine.

Breakfast-style kway teow is different from the regular (and more famous) Char Kway Teow. The latter has slivers of fish cake and chinese sausage, eggs and cockles fried together with the flat rice noodles.

This breakfast version consists of nothing more than rice noodles fried with garlic, bean sprouts and chives. It is one of many widely popular breakfast choices in Singapore. Go to any stall at the hawker centre, and you can order a plate of this for about S$0.70 to S$1. You'll have the option to make your meal even more hearty by adding on sides - choose from sunny side ups, sausages, fish cakes, cuttlefish cutlets, stirfried cabbage or luncheon meat.

And yes, you heard me right ... this is for BREAKFAST.


Give me hot, greasy grub ...


... and an aromatic cup of kopi to go along. And I am ready to take on the world my children.

Recipe
- 400g fresh kway teow (rinse briefly)
- 2 stalks chives (or spring onions), cut into inch-long strips
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Beansprouts (as much as you like)

(For the seasoning sauce)
- 2 tbsp thick, sweet sauce (I used Rose brand "Thick Sweet Sauce" - made from molasses, sugar, water and caramel)
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (omit for vegetarian version)
- 2 tbsp water
- dash of salt and pepper (if required)
Mix all your everything in a bowl and leave aside.

1. Heat oil in wok on high. You have to maintain high heat throughout.

2. Stir-fry garlic a few seconds, add bean sprouts.

3. Toss in kway teow and drizzle seasoning sauce soy sauce mixture all over the noodles. Gently stir-fry for 3-5 mins.

4. Make a well in the centre of the wok, pour beaten eggs and scramble once they start to set. Throw in spring onions, fold the noodles over, give it one good last stir-fry to mix well with the kway teow.

5. Dish up kway teow onto individual serving plates.

6. Top with a sunny side up (you can omit this if you have already added beaten eggs into the kway teow).


Now, who cares if it rains all day?

Related reads:
- Chez Pim's Pad Thai
- Char Kway Teow