Friday, December 31, 2004

My Good Friend Amanda’s Chocolate Fondue

For my birthday this year, my dear friend Amanda bought me a chocolate fondue set. I suspect that it was a gift with a lot of vested interest as when she gave it to me, she said “Now we can have chocolate fondue during your dinner parties!” So after sitting in its box for about half a year, we finally got down to having chocolate fondue for dessert today. The set came with these really cute number labeled skewers so that you could identify your piece of fruit while it was submerged in the dark ocean of chocolate, but despite having these forklike skewer things, we had really clumsy people who kept dropping losing their pieces of fruit. It was good fun and after a while I think we had a little chocolate-sugar high and everyone was happy and smiling.

I made dinner and Amanda brought the fondue things, so this is the recipe for fondue that we put together:

Chocolate Fondue Mix:

500g Dark Cooking Chocolate
500g Milk Chocolate
3-4 tablespoons of Nutella
Milk to desired thickness


Peanuts and Almond mix

We were all pretty excited that by the time the chocolate was at it perfect consistency and texture, our stomachs were maxed out as we ate it while the chocolate was too runny; too lumpy was like molten lava and missed it when it was perfect, nonetheless it was good chocolate fun. Next time round, we’ll get it perfect.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Shimibashi Soba – Soba, So Good!

Shimbashi Soba
290 Orchard Road #B1-41, Paragon
Tel: 67359882

I learnt a few things about soba today. Firstly, it is a rich source of vitamins to keep me young and healthy because it has vitamin P, which is only found in buckwheat. Along with that, it is also very rich in vitamin C, B1, B2, and E. secondly, Soba detoxifies and keeps your immunity system up. Thirdly, soba is also good for your weight as it has fat burning acids, but along with that, it lowers your cholesterol and is a great source of fiber. So eat more soba. Furthermore, soba does not only physically improves your health and perhaps your lifespan, but the Japanese like the Chinese believe that noodles are a symbol of longevity, so eat oodles of noodles.

Soba with Assorted Mushrooms

I like this place. It makes me feel healthy. I have a vegetarian friend that doesn’t eat meat because she feels it is dirty. I think she’ll have a field day at this restaurant. Everything feels so pure, clean and Japanese. I spotted a Japanese man with his daughter and they ordered in Japanese which to me is always a good sign if you are in a Japanese restaurant. The last time I was here I had the vegetarian special which had nato beans, ladysfingers and an egg which cost S$15.90. I liked it very much because of how it healthy it made me feel and the soba here is top notch, handmade and bouncy. My eating partner went for the healthier option today of the warm soba with mushrooms. When the bowl of soup arrived, you could smell the broth! It was absolutely delightful! it was light, tasty and not too salty. I on the other hand decided that I just wanted to have soba. And so I ordered the cold soba with a side dish of beef with mixed vegetables. Our meal came up to S$42 inclusive of green tea for two which I guess might be a little pricey for noodles, but maybe that’s the price tag on health today. Overall, its good. I’ll come back when I want a healthy noodle fix.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Dinner - peace on earth and goodwill to men.

I heard the bells on Christmas day,
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Christmas is my favourite holiday and our Christmas dinner this year was fun. We had a little fight over what to serve for dinner, my brother wanted turkey, but in my opinion, it is just a big chicken, so after a small debate, we decided to go with a turkey and veal chops. The veal chops that we had were a huge! So everyone got a huge hunka-chunk piece with the wild mushroom tomato bordelaise and a serving of sweet potato mash and we had a side salad rather than the asparagus that is in the recipe. In my kitchen frenzy, I forgot to serve everyone a serving of the herbed butter that was suppose to go with it, but it was still rather delicious.

Recipe: Grilled Veal Chops with Herb Cheese, Wild Mushroom-Tomato Bordelaise by Emeril Lagasse

4 (14-ounce) bone-in veal chops

4 teaspoons Essence
recipe 1 bunch asparagus
4 slices prosciutto
1 recipe Wild Mushroom-Tomato Bordelaise,
recipe follows 4 tablespoons herb cheese, such as Boursin or Rondele

Preheat the grill to medium-high, and preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
Season each chop on both sides with 1 teaspoon of the Essence. Place on the grill and cook for 2 minutes. Turn each chop 1/4 turn and cook an additional 2 minutes. Turn and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the grill and place on a baking sheet. Roast until cooked until medium, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes, depending upon the size. Drain and transfer to an ice bath briefly to refresh. Remove from the ice bath and wrap in bundles of 5 each with a slice of prosciutto.

Place the veal chops on 4 large plates and top each with a tablespoon of the herb cheese. Arrange the asparagus next to the chops and spoon the bordelaise around the chops. Serve immediately.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup

Wild Mushroom-Tomato Bordelaise:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 pound portobello mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed, and chopped
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, and thinly sliced
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup seeded and chopped tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
1 quart veal stock or rich beef stock

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, or large, heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they give off their liquid, about 4 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, and stir to mix well. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine, and cook, stirring to loosen any bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is reduced by half. Add the veal stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve with the veal chops.

Yield: 2 1/3 cups


For a sweet ending, we rounded up the dinner with a simple tiramisu that I made up with the ingredients I had from home – sponge fingers, mascarpone cheese, espresso, chocolate and Baileys.

My Tiramisu

I was a tiny bit worried how this was going to turn out; thankfully, everyone liked it or was just being really really polite about it. I like serving it in a glass instead of a large tiramisu cake because you can see the layers which is a nice presentation and it beats the hassle of cutting a cake and having bits of it fall off.

My Mastercard Moment!

I guess the person that has the most influence in my life would be my mother. She’s taught me a lot of things about food, despite her lack of physical presence in the kitchen but her declaration for her love of cooking. One of the biggest lessons perhaps she has taught me is being generous and to joy of cooking and feeding others. I love feeding people and the joy from that is priceless.

This was probably one of the biggest dinner parties I have thrown. Somehow the guest list gained a life of its own and grew to a size of 18, so it was quite a challenge cooking for the whole mob of people that had to squeeze into my tiny house. I didn’t have enough table space and I wasn’t going to go out to buy a new table just to sit everyone, so I decided to have a table full of hors d’oeuvres instead which is kind of classy and fun. I love hors d’oeuvres. There is just something about them being bite size. Maybe it is because I’m a small person and so I like small things and I think small things are nice. I don’t really know. So this is the list of my hors d’oeuvres that I served:

Wasabi Prawns
Green and Red Jello Shots – Tequila Lime and Strawberry Vodka
Mediterranean Vegetables on Potato Nest
Frozen Vodka Watermelon Cubes
Salmon on Scrambled Egg Toast
Assorted Homemade Cookies
Assorted Chips

Well, it was a little crazy cooking for the mob of 18, but I had help from two others, and for me, the look of everyone after a good happy meal, that’s priceless.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Soup Restaurant: Singapore’s National Heritage Trail

Perhaps I will consider writing to the Ministry of Education of Singapore to tell them that for a taste of Singapore and to spice things up for National Education, they should send us students to Soup Restaurant. That way, the students and the educators will be happy and you can learn about the hardship of the Samsui women that were instrumental in our history and also about the type of food they ate, why they ate them due to their circumstances and such. It’s a stretch, but at least we might remember more and be less cynical about the whole affair.

Samsui Chicken

So this is what the restaurant is built on: serving the best dishes of the yesteryears and as the restaurant name suggests -- soup. They have a number of soups that you can have here which range from the types would improve your blood circulation, insomia, illness, clear your lungs and such. Along with that, there are things to remind you of our humbler beginnings, such as sweet potato leaves stir fried, samsui chicken, beggar tofu, beggar pork ribs. The menu should have enough to please everyone. I like the Teochew olive rice here but if you are on a tighter budget just have plain white rice. Soups are priced between S$6-S$10 and the dishes are pretty reasonably priced, like the Samsui chicken is only S$13. My small family of four had lunch here today, but my brother went on an ordering rampage and so lunch cost us S$93.85 inclusive of towels, peanuts, tax and service charge, but this is what we had:

Dried Scallop and Black Chicken Soup
Samsui Chicken
Beggar Pork Rib
Steam Lapan Fish (it’s a fresh water fish)
Beggar Bowl Tofu
Fried Penang Mee Suah
Ah Kong Fan Shu Leaves (Sweet potato)

So, all hail our Samsui women who have built Singapore and given us good food.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Greenwood Fish Market and Bistro -- Freshness Guaranteed

Greenwood Fish Market and Bistro
34 Greenwood Avenue
Singapore 289236
Tel: 64674950

If you have been to Sydney Pymont Fish market, you might be able to relate to this. Don’t get turned off by the smell that first hits you when u enter into the restaurant, because the first time I wanted to take a peek inside, I walked in and walked out in 10 seconds, but I did make a return trip yesterday. After all, it did state that it is a FISH MARKET, and that’s how it will smell. Nonetheless, if you can make it past the market (which is about 15 steps if u take large swift strides), you’ll make it to the promise land of the bistro where you won’t be disappointed with the freshness of the seafood.

Hot Seafood Platter

The seafood here is great. Lots of selection, great freshness, great cozy relaxed ambience and the staff were pretty good. I was impressed by the large menu for the size of the place, other than seafood platters, if u would like there are one-dishers like soft-shell crab pasta. If you love fish, there is a good selection too, snapper, monkfish, barramundi, cod, john dory among others are served grilled or as fish and chips. What I thought was interesting was that they had interesting combinations of serving fish with foie gras and I love foie gras so that earned an extra brownie point with me.

My overall experience was good. There were 7 of us, but it was my first time there, so we had the hot seafood platter, the cold seafood platter – which would give u a comprehensive guide to seafood if u can’t make up your mind or if u just simply greedy. Along with that we had two soft-shell crab pastas, a barramundi fish and chips and a NZ green lipped mussels which were cooked with white-wine and garlic sauce. The place is a little pricey if u have three courses it would set you back about S$50-S$60, but if u are into communal tucker, you can order it this way and our bill came up to slightly less than S$240. Anyhow, I would say this place is a gem in the seafood places because most of our seafood restaurants are Chinese and so, this is a great addition.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Kitchen Experiments: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can’t really remember when was the last time I had a chocolate chip cookie so I thought I’d bake some for the throngs of people that will be streaming in and out of the house over the next week. Anyway, I have been home the whole week that I have been bored to bits so I turned to my kitchen for some sanity.

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies:

125g unsalted butter, soften
150g brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 egg
250g self-raising flour
190 dark chocolate bits


Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.

Place butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined. Fold in flour, then chocolate bits.

Roll heaped teaspoon measures of mixture into balls and place on baking trays. Flatten balls slightly with a fork coated in flour. Bake in oven for 15-17 minutes, until golden, swapping trays on shelves after 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Kitchen Experiments: Emeril Lagasse’s Orange Pumpkin Soup

As a rebellion against my mother’s whiter than snow diet that she has put me on, I have decided to get me my appetite back by going big on flavour and colour. This soup is good, its not shy about flavours at all, and the long list of ingredients work together pretty well. The only thing I didn’t follow in the recipe is that I didn’t add the cream into my soup because I didn’t want it to be too heavy, and I finished a bowl for lunch and I think I have got good nutrients into my body. YAY!

Orange Pumpkin Soup with multigrained bread

Recipe for Orange Pumpkin Soup

1 small (2 pound) pumpkin, halved, strings and seeds discarded (or seeds reserved for roasting) 1 acorn squash (about 1 pound), halved, strings and seeds discarded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and halved
3 medium carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 medium shallots, peeled and halved
1/2 medium orange
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup plus
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Rub the pumpkin and squash halves with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; place flesh side down in a large roasting pan. Place thyme sprigs under each half. Toss the onions, carrots, shallots, orange and bay leaves with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and place in the roasting pan. Roast until the vegetables are well browned, about 1 1/2 hours, occasionally stirring the vegetables (except the pumpkin and squash). Remove the orange if it begins to brown before other vegetables.

Remove the pan from the oven and let sit until the vegetables are cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, remove the thyme and bay leaves and discard. Once it is cool, scoop the flesh from the pumpkin and squash and transfer back to roasting pan. Place the roasting pan over 2 burners over medium heat. Season with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, cloves, and allspice and add wine to deglaze the pan. Add 2 cups stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove the orange and discard.

Transfer the soup in small batches to a food processor or blender and puree until very smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a medium saucepan or soup pot. Add the remaining 4 cups stock, orange juice, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar and bring to a simmer. Add cream and stir to combine. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ode to my grandmother

Since I have been wheeled out of the operating theatre, my grandmother has taken it upon herself to nurse me back into good health through traditional medicinal foods. My first course was ground up double boiled rhino horn, which is about the foulest thing I had to swallow. But I had to be the filial granddaughter and I lapped up every single drop with my breath held. The next liquid that she had made me is bird’s nest which has been more palatable. Since this weird food has been taken for granted as a wonderful thing in the Chinese diet, I decided to do a little research about the benefits of Bird’s nest.

Benefits of Bird’s Nest

- Helps stimulate appetite and aids digestion
- Ideal for the elderly and children, both men and women.
- Provides a unique pre-digested form of protein and nutrients that will help speed up recovery of chronic illness.
- Pregnant women are especially encouraged to consume Bird's Nest -- it is believed that the baby will have a beautiful glowing complexion.
prevent internal dryness
- Useful in maintaining youth and enhancing a smooth and wrinkle-free complexion.
- Superior tonic for woman.


So I guess grandma is right in feeding me strange foods.

Monday, December 13, 2004

the sick people diet.

I wonder if it is the bland food that makes you lose your appetite or the loss of appetite that makes your food taste bland.

My grandmother has made sure that I make a good recovery and so she has bought a snakehead fish, which is traditionally believed to be good for healing. Old wives’ tale or truth, I’m not sure. Nonetheless, my diet for the last 4 days has been very exciting. I have been served snakehead sliced fish soup (occasionally with chicken) with a choice of carbohydrates: wholemeal bread, rice noodles, rice or porridge. Needless to say, I haven’t been eating much, and I’m starting to wonder about the causal relationship between the bland food and my appetite. Perhaps i should insist on really tasty things being put through a blender and fed through a straw.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Peach Garden -- Modern Cantonese

Peach Garden
273 Thomson Road
#01-06, Novena Garden
Singapore 3076444
Tel: 62543383

This place is a little pricey where we had dinner for 4 for S$95 (after discount), but you get a 10% discount with UOB, Citibank or DBS credit cards which might give you an added incentive to come here. The food here is good and I enjoyed every thing that we had tonight.

Wasabi Prawn Salad

This is what we had – half a roasted goose, wasabi prawn salad, milk fried perch, homemade tofu with spinach and roasted pork. The roasted pork was interesting since when we think about char siew we often think about the roasted red pieces of meat but here they serve them by pieces (S$6 each) that are sliced into cubes and with condiments of Dijon mustard and peanuts. What’s great about it that makes it one of their house specialties is that it has a really crispy skin but the meat is still really succulent and juicy. The prawns were also interesting, they were served with a wasabi infused mayonnaise and topped with normal and wasabi fish roe. I like this very much because the dish is carefully thought out and it’s got good details. Firstly, the wasabi roe highlights the wasabi in the mayonnaise, secondly, it is sprinkled with sweet strawberry and mango bits which people are likely to ignore if you go straight to the prawns, but when taken together, the sweetness from the fruits highlights the taste of the wasabi prawns. Excellent place! It is rather small in capacity, so either go early and promise to eat fast so they can turn the table over before the reservation group comes in, or make a reservation.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Kitchen Experiments: Kylie Kwong’s Mrs Jang’s home-style fried eggs

Recipe from Book:

1 ½ cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
small pinch of ground white pepper
2 green shallots, finely sliced
1-2 red chillies, finely sliced

Heat oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Crack eggs into a small bowl, then pour into hot oil. After 2 minutes reduce the heat to moderate, allowing the underside of the eggs to become firm and crisp (the yolks should still be funny at this point). Carefully slige a fish slice under the eggs and lift out of the wok, then pour off the oil. Return the eggs to wok and put back over heat for another 2 minutes to crisp further.

Gently remove eggs from wok and drain off any excess oil before easing onto a plate. Drizzle eggs with oyster sauce and garnish with pepper, shallow and chillies.

Source: Kylie Kwong - recipes and stories

My twist to it:

Instead of using oyster sauce, I used ketchup manis which added some sweetness to it. And on the second set of fried eggs, I sprinkled it with pork floss instead to give it a local Singaporean twist.

What I liked about making this dish was that it is really easy, and simple and the ingredients are hardly complicated and the idea behind this dish was taking the good simple everyday ingredients and enhancing their flavours through the garnishing.