Sunday, November 27, 2005
My my, when I think of cookies, I think of endless possibilities. No doubt, I really dig cookies not only because they're delicious but also cause of their convenience. Pop one in your mouth and satisfy your sugar craving. It's as simple as that.
Being a cookie lover, I always look out for cookies out there that look and taste pleasant. BUT you know what? I've come to find that nothing beats home made cookies. It's just so different. If you're a cookie-baker, you'll know what I'm talking about. Cookies are one of my favourite things to bake and I love the versatility; besides, baking some yourself will give you more choice as to what treasures you could 'dump' in.
So anyway, I'm sure you know what all this is leading to ya? COOKIE SWAP! Haha, Jennifer the Domestic Goddess came up with this tantalising theme for this month's Sugar High Friday and Is My Blog Burning. Yes, they've combined both events this time round.
We were supposed to bake up a batch or two of our most favourite homemade cookie(s). And naturally, I had to bake more of my yummilious Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Okay, call me boring or safe but I couldn't help it! I was simply craving for them, besides I've been quite stressed out studying for my exams that I knew I just had to get myself away from the books and mess up the kitchen again. :)
There you have it then... my cookie with chocful of bitter-sweet/dark chocolate. I love them to the max! Try it out will ya?
Don't you feel like having a bite of that?
Now now, check out those CHUNKS. This is what I call a real cookie.
Allrighty, back to studying once more. Cookies rule... I hope I don't get distracted by all these cookie thoughts of mine... I'm already thinking of what cookies I shall bake next.. hmmm... that can wait till after Thursday! yes, that's the last day of my exams. Wish me luck y'all!
Chewy Centred Chocolate Chunk Cookie
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks
Method:Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 degree celcius.
Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.
Mix the rest of the dry ingredients and add in chocolate chunks.
Use a tablespoon to drop cookie dough on to a greased baking sheet.
Bake for approx. 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
Once done, let it cool on a wire rack and enjoy.
*What makes the cookies chewy is the cornstarch. Omit the cornstarch and replace the baking soda with baking powder if you want to make crispy versions.
**Cornstarch is the same as cornflour. It's just the way they're called. In S'pore, it's cornflour.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Everyone loves nutella. There's not a soul I know that detests or avoids it intentionally. I mean, come on, you cannot go wrong with chocolate and hazelnut. It's simply bliss. It's eternal heaven. It's sinful for sure, yes, but hey, when you're scooping spoonfuls into your mouth, the only thought on your mind is 'Mmmmmmmm.....'. That's it. No one should leave this earth without tasting this wonder. It most definitely is more than a one hit wonder I'm sure. It's a gazillion-full of wonders. Okay i'm starting to deviate. Sorry! Ahhh okay anyway here's something that will get your attention:
Now, I started dreaming about nutella cupcakes when I saw Nic's post about hers. She had used a Donna Hay recipe and tweaked it abit. Then others started trying out the recipe too. Finally, Barbara of winosandfoodies decided to launch "Hay hay, it's Donna Hay". So here I am, trying my hand at these delicious cupcakes and eating them in quick time. Haha... besides, I know some of you have been asking me for a good nutella cupcake recipe. Actually I had always thought that it would be a chocolate cupcake frosted with nutella. But you know what? That'll be too much... too cloying. I really like this version. It's a keeper! Here's some more photos of these cupcakes:
before entering the oven
freshly baked nutella frosted cupcake out of the oven
Here's the recipe.... courtesy of Nic. I'm so glad she posted about these cupcakes. My my... i'm uber happy. I just found the way to eternal happiness :p
Nutella Frosted Cupcakes
10 tbsp(140 grams) butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups (200 grams) sifted ap flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
Nutella, approx. 1/3 cup
Preheat oven to 325F.
Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
Cream together butter and sugar until light, 2 minutes.
Add in eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Don't worry if the batter doesn't look smooth. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and baking powder until batter is uniform and no flour remains.
Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin liner with batter.
They should be 3/4 full, if you're not using a scoop.
Top each cake with 1 1/2 tsp Nutella.
Swirl Nutella in with a toothpick, making sure to fold a bit of batter up over the nutella.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
With regards to Italian restaurants, I know I had to post about Via Veneto. Yes, it's another place I reviewed a few months back but haven't got the time to blog about it.
Anyway, it's a lovely authentic Italian restaurant along Clarke Quay. The chef is Italian and he's very jolly and friendly. Had a really interesting conversation with him about Singapore food and his life here. He's been here for 10 years already and he does like it here. But he only started trying out local food only in recent years. It's nice when he recounts his experiences at hawker centres; how the locals give him weird looks just cos he's an 'ang mo' (red head a.k.a. foreigner/caucasian/white). I think his name is Carlo Marengoni. He was from Bergamo, near Milan.
You know what? I so have to go to Italy one day! I really dig Italian food and I want to sink my teeth in a really red, ripe, juicy tomato. I know it beats the ones we have here. Allright, back to my review. Let me fill you in on the lovely delights that Via Veneto has.
That which you saw on top of this post is a brilliant salad. Not sure if it was named after the author, but you know what? I like my salads with a splash of balsamic vinegar and this one had a generous amount of it. Not only that... they used garlic scented olive oil too. There was also basil leaves and white beans. The end product? A rather tangy, cooling and crunchy salad. What a beauty. Simple and understated .
Ravioloni Crema e Funghi
Ya, there's just something about me and ravoli. I like eating it. Why? I love to bite into my pasta and find something pleasant waiting for me. It's like eating chinese wanton. Well but I prefer ravoli anytime. Just appeals more to me. Anyway these fresh pasta was filled with ricotta cheese and cooked in cream and mushroom sauce. Decadent. Mmmmm yum. okay I do have a weakeness for ricotta cheese. I have to find a good ricotta cheesecake recipe soon... Back to these ravoli; I tell you not only was it robust and textured, it was creamily delicious as well. The mushrooms were good - high quality of course.
Valentino - Salmon steak served with broiled scallops crown flavoured with a creamy champagne sauce, topped with fried battered endive leaves
Allow me now to rave about this next dish. My valentino it might just become. At Via Veneto, they have this section in the menu entitled 'Designer's Dedication' and there are a few main courses named after Italian designers. I chose Valentino of course. I was soon served with a richly pink and plump salmon steak that came with a very interesting accompanying endive leaves that had been battered and fried. I enquired about these leaves and Chef Marengoni showed me some. It's really like a form of cabbage, only narrower and more firm. Oh and the scallops were lovely too, I do figure that the sauce completed it! A sure winner this Valentino. I was on cloud nine I tell ya.
Affogato al caffe - vanilla ice cream immersed in espresso
Dessert wasn't tiramisu (was too full!) but I was glad I had this ice cream with espresso. The homemade ice cream was made with real vanilla beans (look a the black specks) and it certainly went well with the espresso. A great pick-me-up after a full afternoon lunch.
And in case you were wondering, here's how the interior looks like. It's really cosy and there were quite a few Italian paintings on the walls. The whole atmosphere makes you feel as if you were in Italy. Well i know it doesn't beat being in lovely Italy itself but I guess this would suffice for now.
#01-06 Clarke Quay
3E River Valley Road
Open: Lunch 12noon – 2:30pm, Dinner 6 – 10:30pm daily.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Anyone who knows me personally or through my blog are well aware of my love for food. I really don't know when this 'obessession' started but I really do know that i'll definitely be in the food industry sooner or later. Right now, I'll just make do with being a food 'critic'. Yes, I actually write food reviews. Not just for this personal foodblog of mine, but also for a magazine.
Thing is, most people are envious when they come to know of this sideline job of mine. But I do think that it's really different - eating for personal pleasure vs eating for work. Imagine, you have to process your thoughts and really pay attention to how the food tastes, the ambience, service etc. It really isn't easy! haha but i still love my job. Well it's not my full time job. I'm an undergrad actually. Juggling work and school and all can be rather taxing but I love it. That's just who I am... I rather be kept busy with stuff to do all day long than to bum around doing nothing.
All right, anyway this post is about Enotria, an Italian restaurant I just reviewed. I usually try not to duplicate content and so I'm writing an entirely fresh 'review' of sorts about this place here. Savour the food images and do go down to personally try the food because it really rocks my socks! I'm not saying just because. (No! they certainly didn't pay me to say this!)
Enotria means The Land of Wine, and it's actually a Greek word. It's been around for almost a year and the current chef was from the well known Garibaldi restaurant, also specialising in Italian cuisine. So, back to the food, when me and my companion got there, we were very impressed by the decor and furnishing:
It certainly looked rather classy! Very banquet like. Lovely.
So we sat down at a corner and were served these delightful bruchettas:
these babies were crisp and light. it was served with a dab of olive oil and some herbs (thyme or oregano i think).
We placed our orders and the prawn salad came first:
Insalata di gamberi con avocado ecaviale - prawns salad with avocado and caviar
Wonderfully refreshing and light, this salad made me feel as if I was in the Maldives, eating while watching the waves, facing the cool breeze. Sounds weird but that's how I felt! Haha and the prawns were so juicy and sweet. Loved the avocado too, gave the salad a great creamy texture and of course the caviar was adorable. They used argula leaves too (my favourite!) and the dressing was done well... didn't taste too salty or sour.
Ai Funghi - champignon & porcini mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce
Our pizza came next. Can you believe we actually finished the entire thing? What pigs we were. Well, all in the name of journalism I say! Have to give comments on food, so have to really focus don't I? Anyway this wood fired pizza had the nicest thin crispy crust with just the right amount of mushrooms and cheese. You really can't stop at one slice. I can simply taste the pizza in my mouth as I type this right now!
Linguine al pesto alla genovese - linguine pasta with basil pesto sauce, long beans and potatoes
Oo-la-la! This pasta I like! Why so? because it was cooked al dente! Just perfect. Authentic Italian pastas should taste like this, and have that extra bite. I know most Singaporeans don't like it this way and usually complain that it isn't cook. But hey, it's meant to be eaten this way! I adored the pesto, which came through really well and of course the beans added that extra crunch and potatoes, well I love potatoes so any comments I give would be bias! haha... but seriously, the ingredients really complemented each other.
Ravioli di maro al pomodoro - stuffed pasta with ricotta cheese in tomato sauce
This has got to be my favourite pasta dish of the year! You have to try it for yourself. My my.... I know ricotta cheese is the best and I really like it, but whoa, the way this was cooked - geez unbelievable! One mouthful and I was hooked. The special tomato sauce also added to the omph factor. They didn't use ordinary canned tomato puree ya know... instead, they pureed real fresh tomatoes themselves and added celery, carrots etc to it... No wonder it was so fragrant! I like! Mmmm.... the cheese was a great blessing and made each bite so precious and delightful...
The best tiramisu I've ever eaten
Of course, I had to try their tiramisu. I mean, this is the most popular Italian dessert ever! Guess what? Enotria's tiramisu really took me by surprise. I didn't expect such a fantastic version of one of my most favourite dessert. Their tiramisu had just the right amound of cake, marscorpone cheese, liquer etc. Perfect combination. I've eaten tiramisu at various places but I think I've just found one that I really like. So do go try it. You won't regret... :)
China Square Central
3 Pickering Street
Friday, November 11, 2005
spices like cinnamon bark sticks, star anise, cloves, caradom seed, whole all spice, and white pepper corns.
There really ain't nothing as satisfying as a warm cuppa tea after a good hearty meal. I love milk tea, I love warm hot aromatic tea. Give me chamomile, green or english breakfast tea anytime and I'll be a happy tea girl. But of late, I've been quite in love with some sort of different tea 'concoction'. I believed the indians came up with it. Called Chai, it's actually spiced tea with milk and it's a great pick me up! I think it's similar to masala tea too.. hmm or maybe both are one and the same. Anyway I decided to make my own with a recipe I found online. Mine didn't have that strong a spice taste so if you are like me, and love that extra kick, just double the spices and let the flavours mix and meld into each other!
simmer with milk
and viola! My first attempt at Chai! .....
I love the milky light brown colour.... very soothing i think. haha oh don't you just love chai? Starbucks now has this Chai tea latte even.
1/2 star anise
10-12 whole cloves
6-7 whole allspice
1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon, or two short sticks
6-7 whole white peppercorns
1 caradom pod opened to the seeds
1 cup water
4 cups whole milk
2 heaped tablespoons of high quality full bodied broad-leaf black tea (Ceylon, or English Brakfast if a broad-leaf Ceylon is not available)
1. In a 2 quart saucepan, add spices to 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil; remove from heat; let steep for 5-20 minutes, depending on how strong a spice flavour you want
2. Add whole milk to the water and spices. Bring the milk and spice mixture to a boil and remove from heat
3. Add tea leaves to the milk and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes or to taste. You can choose to add sugar at this point.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Have a slice of cake if you please...
Been craving for butter cake of late. There really is nothing like good simple butter cake. I've always been sticking to chocolate so I thought why not do something different? Thus this Orange and Poppy Seed Butter Cake. It just so happened the my aunt gave me some poppy seeds last week and I wanted to use them. I remembered this butter cake recipe from one of Donna Hay's Magazine and decided to go with it.
If you're wondering what poppy seeds are; well it's actually from the poppy plant which is used to make opium. Before you start thinking that it's all drugs, let me have you know that you can't possibly get high just by eating poppy seed cake. haha... besides, poppy seed is a much popular ingredient in baked goods like bagels and cakes, especially Chiffon cakes! (my aunt makes excellent orange poppy seed chiffon cakes that are as airy and fluffy as clouds).
Hmmm well poppy seeds are banned here I think. But my aunt got hers from the U.S. the last time she went there. So heh, all's good! I like how the seeds provide an extra crunch and a slight nuttiness to your cakes etc. They look like small black dots:
folding the poppy seeds into my cake batter - look how tiny the seeds are?
mixed cake batter in cake tin, ready to be baked.
I liked how this cake turned out - moist and not too dry. Love the fresh citrus-y taste. Hmmm feel like baking poppy seed cookies next. We'll see... I have only some seeds left.
Orange and Poppy Seed Butter Cake
185g (6 and 1/2 oz) butter, softened
1 and 3/4 cups caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (6 fl oz) sour cream
2 and 1/4 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) orange juice
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1) Preheat the oven to 160 degree celcius (320 Fahrenheit).
2) Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until light and creamy
3) Gradually add the eggs and sour cream and beat well
4) Fold through the flour and baking powder.
5) Add orange juice, orange rind and poppyseeds. Mix well.
6) Spoon the mixture into a 22cm (8 and 1/2 inches) round cake tin lined with baking paper and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
7) Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then trn onto a wire rack
Donna Hay Magazine
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Plenty of dates for the taking
Geylang Serai is a haven for all things malay - from food to clothes, textiles, and what not. It's a lovely place and ideal for anyone who wants to savour a bit of the Malay culture. This Thursday was Hari Raya Puasua, meaning 'day of celebration'. It's actually a festival that marks the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting for the muslims. During this period, Geylang Serai is transformed into a bustling market of sorts, not unlike Chinatown during CNY.
I was there last week and it was very crowded due to the probable last minute rush to get the things they need for the big day. And so I trotted down rather happily, in anticipation of savouring good Malay food and soak up the atmosphere. I did go home happy, albeit smelling very much like grilled meat and yes my hair stank too! But i'd say it was all worth it. I have plenty of photos for you to enjoy... it's a mini photo essay of sorts - of the food I came across at Geylang Serai.
Rows and rows of cookies, tarts, and goodies
check out this cute watermelon shaped cookies
my my, aren't they so innovative - look at them M&Ms, in cookie form
Putu Piring in the making
Putu Piring is actually steamed rice flour cake with a gula melaka centre
cooked putu piring... notice the brown stuff? that's the gula melaka in the middle
the sign read prata tumbuk... supposedly some indian street food
the ever so famous Ramly burgers. They're best eaten with egg and cheese. Mmmm heavenly
kebabs for the meat lovers
anyone wants chicken wings?
Look at that lovely orange hue of those wings
huge tiger prawns, and their version of the Chinese 'bak kwa', except that this is made of beef i think
love this indian snack.. it's made of chick peas, dhal etc.. best eaten with green chilli
forgot the proper name for these but i call them beef dogs. it's stuffed with some beef mixture. looks yummy doesn't it?
this has got to be the best putu piring yet!
Have I whet your appetite? I think you must be wishing you were at Geylang Serai now eh? Anyway I have to rave about this putu piring stall at S11 Geylang Serai Makan Place. It's located at Haig Road, at Geylang Serai. It's a small corner at a coffeeshop and boy oh boy.... their putu piring is superb. Served warm and at a reasonable price of 3 for $1, I just had to get some. They were featured on Makansutra before and I remember seeing them on Food Chain, the progamme hosted by Tan Kheng Hua. I do think this putu piring was better than the one I tasted whilst walking through the market.
This stall at S11 had a long queue and we all know why. So do check it out if you have a chance too. You might be a new putu piring fan like i am. Now that i've 'conquered' Geylang Serai, I feel like doing Little India too. Maybe I shall... soon enough, after my exams are over! till then..
P.S. This is my 100th post on this food blog of mine!~ can't believe i've written so much... well let's just say that I'm incomplete without food. i am passionate about a good eat and yes i love to bake and cook! i promise to keep the content coming and look out for more delicious recipes, reviews and ramblings about food. i hope to revamp this site soon but I have yet to find someone who can help ( i suck at html)... oh well we'll see...
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I blame it on the extremely hot and humid weather - these days i've been craving for ice cream, alot. Most of the time, I just settle for the prepacked ones at 7-Eleven; think Magnum etc. But yesterday I couldn't resist trying out something fresh and intriguing. Located at Citilink Mall, Wild Hibiscus Gourmet Ice Cream opened only a few months back, if i'm not wrong. Have read about it in the papers but never got down to actually trying it, until now. Boy did i not regret it.
Lavender & Orange flavour
Me and my sis were there after watching Unexpected's gig at the Esplanade yesterday night (they were awesome, as usual) and we felt like indulging in something sweet, thus making a pit-stop at this ice cream parlour. We had two flavours: Lavender & Orange, and Elderflower sorbet
Both flavours will uber fantastic! I'm not exaggerating. It's quite different from normal 'safe' flavours like vanilla and chocolate. These were quite refreshing. I love the lavender and orange one especially. I could actually taste the lavender and orange essence (there were orange peels in it even). The elderflower one was amazing, rather creative i say.
anyway if you, like me, are bored of the usual vanilla flavoured ice cream, and need something to cool down the fiery temperatures, then try this one. I think you might like what you taste.
P.S. Other interesting flavours include chocolate & hibiscus, and alot more. have yet to try them though!
Wild Hibiscus - at Polar Cafe
#B1-02 City Link Mall
Tel: 6835 9909
Ice-creams available daily from 11am-10.30pm