Monday, August 30, 2010

Gingery Teriyaki Sauce


When I whipped up that Watermelon Granita With Ginger Syrup in my previous post, I deliberately made extra syrup because I knew I could use it for a Gingery Teriyaki Sauce.

Here's the ginger syrup. Mine was really spicy because I used a lot of old ginger. I like!

- 2 tbsp Ginger Syrup (see recipe here)
- 1 tbsp soya sauce (Kikkoman or Lee Kum Kee)
- 1/2 tsp mirin

Combine all the ingredients and it's ready! How easy is that?!

Drizzle it over panseared salmon, and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds while you're at it.

Serve it with a salad like me! I wanted a low fat, no carb meal to keep me from falling asleep afterward. ;)


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Watermelon Granita With Ginger Syrup

Do you notice that, of late, I have been featuring recipes from other food blogs? Well, I feel that the best compliment you can ever give a fellow food blogger is to make something from his/her blog and link it back. :)

Today, I'll be doing the same. I want to share a wonderful dessert from an equally wonderful food blog, Trissalicious.

Ever since I discovered how easy it is to make a Granita, I have been making it on a regular basis. I realise it's a great way to use up abandoned bottles of juices or sodas that are taking up precious real estate in my fridge. As soon as I freeze the odds and ends into a new slushy cocktail, I will see my kids make a beeline for it. They make really refreshing treats on hot afternoons.

I was intrigued when I saw this at Trissa's blog: Watermelon Granita with Ginger Syrup. Watermelon and Ginger? The idea of this seemingly odd pairing fascinated me so, and I was curious to see how it would work. For the record, it blew me away. I LOVED it!

(from Neil Perry’s Spice Temple, and seen at Trissalicious)

- 750 grams coarsely chopped fresh watermelon
- 60 grams white sugar (I reduced to 30 grams because my watermelon was so very sweet)
- 200 grams finely diced watermelon, to serve
- 100 grams white sugar
- 20 grams ginger, chopped (I used old ginger for a stronger, astringent bite!)

1. Macerate the watermelon by combining the first lot of watermelon with the sugar and allow to stand for around 45 minutes. Process this in a food processor and then strain. Transfer to a 20 cm x 30 cm shallow metal tray and freeze, scraping occasionally with a fork until crystals form and the granita is frozen. This usually takes around 4 to 5 hours.

I decided to keep the watermelon rind for serving. One less thing to wash!

2. For the ginger syrup, combine the sugar, ginger and 60 ml of water in a saucepan. Bring this to a boil and then remove it from the heat and allow to cool. Strain out the ginger.

3. To serve, place some granita in a chilled glass, add the diced watermelon and pour some ginger syrup over it.

This would be a perfect dessert after a hot and spicy curry dish, no? And hardly any skill needed. I made extra Ginger Syrup to keep. I'll tell you what else I used it for. Watch this space!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Braised Ee Fu Noodles (For Pigpigscorner)

I. Am. So. Honoured.

I just realised I am the first Guest Blogger for Pig Pig's Corner! What a privilege. What an honour. This certainly counts as one of the high points of my blogging journey so far.

I still remember when I first started blogging - my photos were laughable and my readership comprised a grand total of 3 people (I, Me and Myself). Pig Pig's Corner was one of the few established bloggers who kindly cast a glance my way, and for that, I will always be grateful. Fast forward 16 months later, and today, I am doing a guest post for them.

Wow. The world works in mysterious ways! Thank you, Ann and Jeff, for this wonderful opportunity. :)

Now, the dish. If you do a quick scour of Pig Pig's Corner, you will see an impressive repertoire of dishes. As I jokingly asked Ann, "What have you NOT cooked?" Eventually, I figured less is more, and decided on a very simple dish - Braised Ee Fu Noodles (伊府面) - something everyone can make.

I am sure you must have heard of this dish, even if you have never eaten it. It is on the menu of any Chinese restaurant worth its salt, and never fails to appear at wedding banquets.

Of course, you don't need special occasions to make this. It is such a quick and simple dish, you can whip it up any time you feel like having noodles. For the recipe and more photos, please hop over to the wonderful Pig Pig's Corner.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Calamari Rings

Ho-kay. Here's one of those dishes I was enticed into trying out but ended up not liking. Argh ...

I happened to stumble upon this Calamari recipe which uses semolina flour for the coating. Isn't that interesting? Most other recipes use regular flour and/or breadcrumbs, so my curiosity was piqued, and of course I gave it a go. You never know till you've tried, right? So I tried. And now I know it's not something I would make again.

The coating was crumbly more than crispy. I wanted crispy. I wanted to hear a nice, loud "crrrr" when I bit into it. Sadly, I got none of that. :( Thank goodness for my Thai Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce. That saved the day.

Ah well ... one of those dishes. Win some, lose some. That's cooking.

(from here)

- 1 squid, cleaned and cut into rings, and soaked in milk for at least 30mins*
- 1/4 cup semolina flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup (or more) vegetable oil (such as canola) for frying
* This was not stated in the recipe, but is something I always do. It tenderises the squid.

1. Pour semolina flour into a shallow bowl or onto a plate. Stir in the salt. Set aside.

2. Drain squid rings from milk. Roll them one by one in the flour and salt mixture until they are covered. Place floured rings on a clean plate next to the stove.

3. Pour oil into a small or medium-sized frying pan (the larger the pan, the more oil you will need). The oil should be about 1 inch deep.

4. Turn heat to medium-high, until the oil begins to bubble or "move" from the bottom of the pan. To test if oil is hot enough: using a pair of tongs, dip one of the calamari rings into the oil. If it sizzles and begins to cook, the oil is ready. Turn heat down to medium.

5. Place as many rings into the oil as can comfortably fit at one time. Be sure to stand back, as sometimes the oil can splatter and "pop" as the calamari cooks. Allow to fry about 1 minute, then turn the rings over to cook on the other side. The calamari should turn a light golden brown. Do no over-cook, or the calamari will turn rubbery.

6. When rings are done frying, remove from the oil and place on an absorbant towel or paper towel to drain.

7. Serve immediately while still hot. If desired, place calamari on a bed of lettuce or fresh coriander. Serve with the dipping sauce of your choice. I used my Thai Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce.

So pray tell, what's your secret to making deliciously crispy calamari rings?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sticky Date Pudding

Aren't sweet indulgences one of life's nicer moments? Like savouring a warm Sticky Date Pudding with freshly-made Butterscotch Sauce, accompanied by a generous scoop of homemade Vanilla Bean Ice-cream?

Sticky Date Pudding. Never really fancied it because all the (bad) renditions I have ever tried tasted nothing of "sticky", "date" or "pudding". Instead, they have always been "dry", "bland" and "cake".

Then, some 5 months ago, I finally sampled a good Sticky Date Pudding. That was at Boomarang, with Brad. I remember it was the one thing we were most eager to try out after reading Catherine's rave review. And we were not let down - the pudding was sticky and moist, with a slight gelatinous texture. I think that last trait is the hallmark of a good Sticky Date Pudding - it shouldn't crumble like a cake.

Anyway, after that lunch, I promised myself I would try to make it at home. I even bought my dates way before the recent explosion of dates on our supermarket scene (due to Ramadan). But I kept putting it off time and again, thanks to the many other tantalising dishes I saw online. Distractions, they are. Thank goodness dates keep very well in the fridge!

And then, lately, I saw two versions - at Fel's and at Evan's. They both looked incredibly, impossibly good! Needless to say, I had pudding envy (sorry Freud!). And you know how food blogs are, they are contagious. One look and I got all fired up and inspired, and I dragged my sorry butt and got down to work.

(from Exclusively Food - please visit their blog for excellent step-by-step pics)

For the Sticky Date Pudding
- 270g (1 1/2 cups) deseeded dried dates (I used Mazafati dates)
- 312ml (1 1/4 cups) water
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 60g (1/4 cup) butter, roughly chopped
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
- 188g (1 1/4 cups) self-raising flour
- 150g (2/3 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar (I reduced to 100g)

Not the most pleasant-looking batter, I know. Haha!

1. Place dates and water in a small saucepan over high heat. When the mixture starts to boil, add bicarbonate of soda and 60g butter, and remove from the heat. Stir and then set aside for 25 minutes (the butter will melt during this time).

2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Celsius fan-forced). If you are not using a fan-forced oven, adjust the oven rack to the lower half of the oven so the top of the pudding will be in the centre of the oven.

3. Grease a 20cm diameter (top inside measurement) round springform pan and line the base and side with baking paper.
Note: I decided to use muffin tins instead. Too lazy to line a cake tin.

4. Place cooled date mixture in a food processor. Pulse mixture a few times to form a chunky paste.
Note: I used my potato masher instead. Too lazy to take out my food processor! Just mash directly in the saucepan.

5. Add eggs and vanilla to date mixture and pulse a couple of times until just combined.
Note: Just whisk directly in the saucepan. Oh boy, I am pure genius!

6. Stir flour and 150g (2/3 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Use the back of the spoon to break up any lumps of brown sugar. Add date mixture to the flour mixture and gently fold the ingredients together until just combined.

7. Pour batter into prepared pan. If, when baking, the pudding starts to overbrown, loosely cover it with greaseproof paper.

8. Bake the pudding for about 50-60 minutes (about 20-30 minutes if baking in muffin tins), or until it springs back when lightly pressed in the centre. A thin-bladed knife or wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding should come out without any batter attached.

I interrupt my son's eating to show you a peek of how moist and sticky the inside looks.

For the Butterscotch Sauce
(adapted from Australian GoodFood Magazine, July 2010, and seen at muffinsareuglycupcakes and Evan's Kitchen Ramblings)

Make the sauce when the pudding is baking.
- 185ml whipping cream
- 165g firmly packed brown sugar
- 150g butter, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt

1. Melt all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. Make sure the sugar does not burn.

2. Leave to cool slightly.

* I believe this step makes the pudding sticky:
When the pudding has finished baking, leave it in the pan and allow it to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Using a skewer, pierce several deep holes in the pudding. Pour about 125ml (1/2 cup) of the hot butterscotch sauce over the pudding. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.
* Note: As I used muffin tins, I removed each individual pudding after they had cooled down a little, but still warm to touch (about 15 minutes after baking). I then pricked them with a toothpick before spooning warm butterscotch sauce over. This helped the sauce penetrate into the pudding, making them extra moist and sticky. Make sure you place your pudding on a cooling rack over a tray, to catch the excess butterscotch sauce that will drip and make a mess.

Serve pudding with hot butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice-cream. I made my own vanilla bean ice-cream ... which I might blog about another day, if I have the time.

Store leftover pudding and sauce in the refrigerator or freezer (freeze the sauce separately). Suitable to reheat.

Ho ho ho! My first (and laughable) attempt at making an ice-cream quenelle. :(

As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and my pudding ain't shabby at all! ;) It was sticky, moist and dotted with delicious bits of dates. I wish it was slightly "chewier" though, but what the heck, I can actually make decent Sticky Date Pudding from scratch, so it's a small compromise!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Spicy Chilli Sauce

There I was, slouched languorously on a comfy armchair, and feeling listless at a children's (birthday) party. The other adults were either eating or engaged in chatter, but I was in the mood for neither. I think I had overeaten. So I picked up the folded stack of newspapers - untidy and ruffled - and gingerly flipped through its limp pages.

Not surprisingly, I paused when I came to the food section and zoomed in on the featured recipe - Roast Pork. But it was not the meat that I lusted after ... it was the sauce. The scarlet dipping sauce made me weak in the knees with its beckoning hue of red.

Quick as a wink, I grabbed a pen and scribbled down the ingredients and recipe on a scrap of paper, then slipped it into my handbag. I was going to make this sauce the moment I got home! My initial ennui evaporated instantly, and when the cheesy magic show began, I found myself laughing along with the children.


(from The Straits Times, 6 June 2010)
Basic chilli sauce
- 10 fresh chillies
- 2 chilli padi aka bird's eye chilli (optional, if you want it really spicy)
- 2cm piece ginger
- 3 cloves garlic
- 60ml rice vinegar (I used 30ml rice vinegar + 20ml freshly squeezed lime juice)
Blend everything in a food processor till fine. Feel free to adjust the proportions of the ingredients according to your taste.

To make the dipping sauce for roast pork, add these to the above:
- 1 cube nan ru (南乳), aka red fermented beancurd (I added 2! Why not? It makes the sauce creamier!)
- 2 tsp preserving liquid from the nan ru (南乳)
- 2 tsp sugar
- Juice from 4 small calamansi (I omitted)
- 2 tsp mirin
- 2 tsp soy
- 2 tsp sesame oil

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tuna And Cream Sauce

Here's a pasta sauce recipe I tried out from my David Rocco cookbook. It's called Tuna and Cream Sauce in plain English, or Salsa Di Tonno E Crema in sexy Italian. Hmmm, why does everything sound better in Italian? ;)

I was attracted to the simplicity in ingredients (there's always canned tuna, tomato sauce and cream in my house) and the speed at which it can be whipped up. It's a perfect dish for lazy days, especially weekends.

In the book, David Rocco challenges you to cook a pasta dish with this sauce the next time your friends order a pizza. :) He promises your pasta will be ready way before the pizza boy arrives!

Anyhow, it was a delicious sauce, and I loved how the cream transformed the ordinary tomato puree into a luxurious, velvety blanket for the penne. Also, I didn't even use 1/2 cup cream as stated in the recipe. I only used about 1/4 cup and it was enough to make me go "Mmmmm!". So, if you are cautious about calories, feel free to cut back on some of the cream.

These are your main ingredients. I used my packet of dried cherry tomatoes in place of sun-dried tomatoes.

(largely adapted from David Rocco's Dolce Vita)
Serves 4

- 1lb (500g) penne, fusilli or any short pasta
- 12 black olives, pitted (I omitted, didn't have any)
- 8 large sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 tbsps (60ml) extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus extra for drizzling
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups (500ml) tomato puree or tomato sauce (I used canned whole tomatoes, which I mashed up quite finely with some liquid from the can)
- 1 can (7oz/198g) tuna, packed in oil
- 1/2 cup (125ml) whipping cream (35%)
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (I used dried ones instead)
- Salt, to taste
- Sugar (optional), if the tomatoes taste too tart
- Grated parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

1. Cook your pasta until al dente (make sure you salt your pasta water generously). While it's cooking, make the sauce.

2. Roughly chop up the olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

3. Heat the EVOO in a pan, then gently brown the garlic, olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Add the tomato puree or sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Taste test and see if it's too tart (my pet peeve). If it is, a dash of sugar will help counter that. Then in go your tuna and whipping cream. Let this simmer for a few minutes, and it's ready. Taste it and see if it needs salt.

4. Drain your pasta, reserving 1/2 cup (125ml) or so of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan of sauce, and pour in a bit of the reserved cooking water to help bind everything together*. Cook for a minute or so on high heat. Once you get a creamy, thick sauce coating the pasta, you're ready to eat. Add the chopped parsley and mix well.
* You don't have to add the entire 1/2 cup. Add enough to get the desired consistency you want.

5. I sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese before serving.

Buon appetito and happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mee Siam (Malaysian Dry Version)

If you like fried bee hoon (rice vermicelli), you would probably like this Mee Siam dish. It's spicy and packed with flavour, and is a nice change from the regular-style fried bee hoon.

I never knew there was this dry Mee Siam until I saw it at Rasa Malaysia. Since I had all the ingredients, I didn't hesitate to try it out. What I like about this dish is that you can make it vegetarian if you leave out the chicken and the shrimp. And it will in no way affect the overall taste, because it is the spice paste that gives the bee hoon its robust flavour.

(largely adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

- 12 oz (340g) vermicelli (I used 200g)
- 12 oz (340g) bean sprouts (I used about 2 handfuls ... don't think it amounted to 340g)
- 12 shrimps, shelled and deveined (and marinated in a dash of soya sauce)
- 3 pieces fried bean curd/firm tofu (I used 1/2 slab of tau kwa, cut into strips and fried till slightly golden)
- 3 stalks Chinese chives, chopped into 1-inch length
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt to taste (I didn't need any)
- Soy sauce or fish sauce to taste (I didn't need any)
- 3 tablespoons oil

Spice Paste:
- 4 red chillies (remove seeds if you don't want it too spicy)
- 5 shallots
- 5 garlic
- 2 tablespoons taucheo, aka fermented yellow bean sauce (I used Sin Sin brand "Crushed Salted Soya Beans")

The spice paste after blending in a food processor.

- 2 eggs, lightly beaten and fried into an omelette
- 2 stalks scallions, chopped into 1/2-inch length (I omitted)
- 2 limes (cut into wedges)
- 1 red chili (thinly sliced)

1. Soak the vermicelli in water for about 15 minutes or until they turn soft. Drain and set aside. Using a food processor, grind the spice paste and set aside. Heat up a wok with some oil and make the beaten eggs into an omelette. Fold and slice the omelette thinly. Set aside.

2. Heat up the wok and add 3 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is heated, fry the spice paste until aromatic and the oil separates. This ensures that the chillies are cooked through and you will not get that "grassy" taste of raw chillies. Add shrimps and chicken (if using), stir-frying until half done, then add the fried tofu pieces.

3. Add the vermicelli and keep stirring until the the spice paste has spread evenly. Add sugar and salt to taste, if required, followed by bean sprouts and chives. Continue to stir-fry until the vegetables are cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt or sugar to taste. If the noodles taste bland, add a little soy sauce / fish sauce to taste.

4. Transfer the Mee Siam onto a big serving bowl and garnish with the omelette strips, chopped scallions, chilli and lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Mmmmm ... every strand of bee hoon was coated in spicy crimson goodness. :) It would go perfectly with coconut water or lime juice, no?

How does it compare with the wet version? Well, it's like comparing apples with oranges. They are so different! The Singaporean version - which is served with the bee hoon swimming in a sweet, spicy, tangy, soupy gravy - is closer to my heart. Well, I grew up eating it, after all. :) But as and when I want a spicy, kick-ass fried bee hoon, I will definitely be making this dry version again. Very soon. Like maybe, tomorrow.

I am submitting this post to Muhibbah Malaysian Monday, hosted by 3 Hungry Tummies and Test with Skewer.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Clear Water Cake (Sponge Cake) 清水蛋糕

With a name like "Clear Water", it's forgiveable if you thought I was referring to some Japanese facial product. :) I came across this recipe at Cook.Bake.Love - a beautiful name for a blog, I thought. I was so enchanted with what I saw ... angelic little cakes which looked oh-so-twee. And if you know me, I can't resist anything pretty and petite.

But why "Clear Water"? Well, there is no water in this cake at all. Instead, like water that is plain and pure, so is this cake. Nothing fancy, just simple goodness. And what these pillowy-soft babies promised, they sure delivered ... a sheer delight to behold and almost a sacrilege to eat. Almost.

Their fluffy texture reminded me very much of those tissue-lined sponge cakes that I grew up eating as a kid. Do you remember those? ;)

(originally from here and seen at Cook.Bake.Love)

- 3 egg yolks 蛋黄
- 1 whole egg 全蛋
- 50g corn oil 粟米油

- 50g low protein flour (cake flour) 低粉(蛋糕粉)

- 3 egg whites 蛋白

- 50g castor sugar 细砂糖
- Dash of salt 盐

* Notes from The Little Teochew:
1. I used my vanilla sugar because I wanted a hint of vanilla in my cakes ... people who do not like a strong, eggy smell should add 1/4 tsp vanilla extract;

2. I used Top Flour instead of Cake Flour;

3. I used regular canola oil in place of corn oil ... any neutral-flavoured vegetable oil can be used;

4. I omitted the salt.

1) Beat (A) till well mixed with an egg beater. 用打蛋器打匀(A)。

2) Sift in (B), mix well. 筛入(B)拌匀。

3) Whisk (C) till frothy, add (D) and beat till stiff peaks. 把(C)打至粗泡加入(D)打至干性发泡。

4) Fold in the egg white mixture to egg yolk mixture in 3 additions, mix till well combined. Scoop the batter into paper cups till 60% full. 蛋白霜分3次和蛋黄糊拌匀,用小勺装进纸杯至6分满。

5) Bake in preheated oven at 150C for about 18-20mins. 烤箱预热150度,烤18-20分钟左右。

When the cakes cool down, they will shrink and pull away from the paper liners. I used muffin cups which are taller than cupcake holders, and I believe that was why my cakes "collapsed" upon cooling and ended up looking like chubby hourglasses! Hahaha! Nonetheless, I thought they looked rather cute. ;)

Finally, I just want to add that this cake is proof that you do not need ovalette or leavening agents to achieve that soft, spongy texture. I hope you'll all try this recipe some day. :)

PS: To a very special friend - who sent me these gorgeous toile serviettes and other beautiful gifts - merci beaucoup ... j'adore. I await your return to blogworld. xoxo

Friday, August 6, 2010

No Bake Pots De Crème

I promised my daughter Pots De Crème* a long time ago. Today, I finally made good that promise because I realised my semi-sweet chocolate chips were expiring soon! Ooops. Heh. Well, she doesn't need to know. ;)
* Pronounced "poh duh KREHM".

Anyway, I searched around for Pots De Crème recipes, and noticed they all involved either raw eggs or baking in a water bath. Hmmmm, not exactly my cuppa. I wanted a chocolate custard that was cooked in a saucepan and then poured into serving glasses of my choice, before getting chilled in the refrigerator. Does this still count as Pots De Crème? Oh, it doesn't matter. I just wanted convenience.

So I googled "no bake pots de creme" and grabbed the first recipe that surfaced from the Net. It turned out to be really easy and fuss-free. In fact, it was quite similar to making Crème Pâtissière. Best of all, there was no baking involved, and within an hour, we could all delve into the creamy centres of these wicked Pots of Cream.

(from heights eats)

- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
- 115g semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, or a combination
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp sugar (I halved it because I was using semi-sweet chocolate)
- Dash of salt (preferably sea salt)

Note: I halved the recipe but kept the amount of semi-sweet chocolate as stated (I had to finish up as much chocolate chips as I could, right?) ... and that resulted in a firmer texture. Nonetheless, it was heavenly ... melt-in-the-mouth rich and velvety smooth when eaten.

1. Heat the cream, espresso powder and chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, beat together the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a medium-large bowl. Set aside.

2. When the cream mixture is almost at a simmer (ie, almost about to boil but not yet boiling), gradually pour it into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking to combine as you do so. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat, stirring almost constantly, on medium-low until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (or reaches 175-180 degrees, if you have an instant read thermometer), about five minutes. Do not let the mixture overheat or worse, burn. This is how the chocolate custard looks like when it's cooked:

You should be able to see streaks as you whisk or stir.

3. Leave the custard in the saucepan to cool slightly before pouring into serving ware of your choice, and then place into the fridge for chilling. As soon as the custard firms up, it is ready for eating. If you are in a hurry to serve this, obviously, using smaller cups will hasten the chilling.

4. (Optional) Serve with whipped (flavoured) cream, or a drizzle of light cream, or with chocolate shavings.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cream of Mushroom Soup

We have been having freaky weather of late ... when it's hot, it's scorching ... and when it rains, it pours. Oh yes it does! Not that I am complaining. Not when I have a piping hot bowl of Cream of Mushroom Soup.

This recipe - from Donna Hay - was exactly what I was looking for. It uses only cream and milk, without any need for stock. YES! Finally. :) Easy peasy! The only thing I'd like to add is, if you do not have an immersion handheld blender like me, you can use a food processor to chop up your mushroom to bits (of your desired chunkiness) before cooking.

Tip: To get a varying texture, add the mushrooms into the food processor in 3 batches. By the time the third batch gets chopped up into nice chewy bits, the first batch would have become a smooth puree.

(from Donna Hay magazine, and seen at Evan's lovely blog)

- 30g butter
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 500g white button mushrooms, chopped (feel free to use a variety of mushrooms)
- 3 cups milk
- 1/4 cup single or pouring cream
- Sea salt, cracked black pepper
- Shaved parmesan

1. Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add butter and onion, and sweat the onions. Add mushrooms and cook till the onion is softened, and liquid from the mushrooms is almost gone.

2. Add milk and bring to a boil. Add cream, sea salt and black pepper.

3. Use an immersion handheld blender* to blend soup until desired smoothness is achieved.
If you do not have an immersion blender, use a food processor to chop up your mushrooms to your desired chunkiness before cooking.

4. Ladle into soup bowls and top with cheese & black pepper before serving.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Barracks Cafe at House, Dempsey

A Few Good Men (And Women)
The Hungry Cow
The Little Teochew
(Please look out for their posts!)

The Location

The Mission

Summer High Tea Buffet.

"Did You Order The Code Red?!"

Red Espresso Tea Set (S$5 for tea only, S$9.50 as a set as seen above).
Brewed with South African Rooibos tea - which has zero caffeine and 5 times more antioxidants than green tea - this Red Latte tasted uncannily like our local teh tarik. It's made with fresh milk and not condensed or evaporated milk, and it was good! Yours truly downed 2 glasses! Tea is my poison. :) Besides this Red Latte, you can also choose from the Long Espresso (S$4.50); Red Cappuccino (S$5) and Fresh Red (S$6).

Panini Pressed Brioche + Red Espresso Jam.
A rich, caramely spread, very similar to our kaya (coconut jam) ... but made from - you guessed it -
Rooibos tea again. The brioche was a delicious accompaniment! Put together, they tasted like yummy kaya french toast.

The Courtroom Courtyard Showdown

The Sweets

The Savouries

The Surrounds

The Special Orders

Skinny Pizza, from a la carte menu (S$25 each).

Don't they all look alike? LOL. But like a mother who can tell her triplets apart, I'll identify them:
(Foreground) Salt Cod Brandade (S$25)
(Middleground) Grilled Figs With Parmesan Crumble (S$25), and
(Background) Ahi Taki (S$25).

They are called "skinny" because of their cracker-thin crusts, which of course, helps you stay, erm, skinny? I liked the Grilled Figs one best for its sweet-salty combo.

We also shared among us, desserts from the a la carte menu - a Chocolate Hazelnut Gateau (S$12 per slice), a Lemon Cake (S$12 per slice) and a Warm Strawberry Shortcake (S$9.50). But I found myself more enamoured with the asian-inspired desserts, like the Pandan Jelly Sponge (S$6) and the Mint Passionfruit Kachang (S$10):

Mint Passionfruit Kachang (S$10).
(Above) When served, (Below) After our merciless "cross examination".
A very clever re-make of our local Ice Kachang – passionfruit curd, ginger oat crumb and coconut sago, with coconut foam and mint granite toppings. We were quite intrigued with the coconut foam! This was, hands down, my favourite dessert of the day.

The Verdict - "I Want The Truth!"

Truffle Fries (S$9).
Of the many items we sampled, this was undoubtedly the scene stealer, for me at least. What, fries?! Absolutely. Laced with truffle oil, it was hard to ignore their heady, intoxicating, smoky aroma as they were placed on our table. And boy, were they utterly addictive! In fact, I called them our "palate cleansers" because we would snag a fry in between bites of everything we ate. So there you have it - the humble spud stole the show. And that's the honest truth.

"You can't handle the truth!"

8D Dempsey Rd
Tel: 6475-7787

Opening details:
Monday – Friday: 12pm – 10.30pm
Sat: 11am – 10.30pm
Sunday: 9am – 10.30pm

Website here.

Many thanks to our effervescent hostess, Janet Lim of Spa Esprit Group, for the invitation and warm hospitality; and my fellow bloggers Aromacookery, Camemberu, Ladyironchef and The Hungry Cow for your great company!