Friday, August 31, 2007

Garlic Prawn Pasta

Everyone has their favourite pasta. Some like theirs creamy, while others prefer tomato based ones. I'm a huge pasta fan and though I usually prefer mine with a tomato base, I think my preference has been tweaked a little.

It all started when I heard from some friends that I should try the Garlic Prawn Pasta from Coffee Club. They all agreed that it was phenomenal. But I was a tad sceptical; I mean, it sounds rather plain - I imagined just some garlic and olive oil. Guess what? It wasn't phenomenal, it was mindblowing!

The first time I tried it, I shared it with my sister because we weren't really hungry and we finished the pasta in less than 15 minutes! You should have seen us. We were both slurping up the noodles enthusiastically. When it was all gone, I thought how nice it would have been if it were a bowl of neverending pasta.

What's so great about it? The flavour. They are rather liberal with their garlic and the prawns are fresh and succulent. It's deliciously tasty. It really is a simple pasta dish relying only on olive oil, garlic and chillies but somehow it manages to pull through really well!

Both occasions when I had it, I didn't manage to snap a shot because well, it was so yummy that I forgot!

So anyway, the pasta was on my mind for days and weeks and I thought, how difficult would it be to make something like that?

That said, I went on my own garlic prawn pasta conquest. I realised that even though I had the garlic, and chillies, there still lacked a certain flavour. It wasn't tasy enough. I thought it had to do with the salt. But eventually, I thought why not try some chicken stock? And amazingly, it worked. Although I'm not sure if that's what they use. I have a feeling that seasalt would work too. But I don't have any in my kitchen currently.

I've made my version of garlic prawn pasta a couple of times already and my sister likes it so I guess it's not that bad? So now, when I crave for some, I know I can just whip one up without having to go all the way to Coffee Club.

It's really simple, this dish. I realised that I'm very much into natural olive oil based pastas now - like Aglio Olio and all. My next conquest is pesto.

What's your favourite pasta recipe/combination?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A is for Apple

A slice of warm apple crumble from Calendar's

Apples are quinntessential fruits.

Why do I say that? Open your fridge, and tell me if there's at least one apple sitting there. I know most people keep apples in their fridges. When my parents go fruit shopping, apples are a no brainer.

I have apples at home everyday. Sometimes it's red Royal Gala, and other times, it's green Granny Smiths. Dad loves buying fruits and it's always fun when he gets into his 'fruit-crazes'. Sis and I always have a good laugh about it when we reminisce the times when he would buy home huge amounts of papayas, or mangoes; depending on the season. Seriously, I kid you not! Apparently when he is in an 'orange' mood, there'll be loads of oranges in the fridge. It's quite fun actually. That's one reason why I love to open the fruit compartment in my fridge. Sometimes I'll be surprised by a lovely ripe mango or some starfruits and on certain days, just plain 'ol apples.

Apples are awesome, in my perspective. Afterall, they do keep the doctors away, no? Some like theirs crunchy but I like mine soft. Weird eh? When I mean soft, I mean a soft bite - those tend to be sweeter. Crunchy hard apples have a more tangy bite. Hmmmm haha that's applogy talk! I like apples by itself but I think the best way to have them in dessert form is a la pie or baked.

Baked apples exude a certain sweetness that simply hits home. It's that homey feel you get - the warm and soft sweet flesh that goes so well with cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins. Mmmmm.... Superb. Although I like apple pies I haven't made them. Have only made apple crumble and just recently, apple cobbler.

Today I want to talk about both apple crumble and apple cobbler. I'm really fascinated at our ability to play around with flour and come up with so many variations of something good and simple.

Those of you who bake often might know the difference between a crumble and a cobbler. A crumble is when you mix dry ingredients like oats, cinnamon, brown sugar and flour with butter till coarse crumbs form and then you simply sprinkle them over your prepared fruit dessert. Cobblers however, are usually made with wetter ingredients like milk and eggs. So what you pour on top is usually a wet batter that covers the entire surface of your fruit dessert.

I know crumbles and cobblers aren't exactly common desserts found in Asian countries like Singapore so I was ecstatic when Calendar's sent me a huge 1.7kg apple crumble to try. You might remember me posting about their carrot cake the other time. Well their chocolate cake and apple crumble is really worth a mention as well! But I'll comment on their apple crumble today.

Calendar's uses coconut in their crumble topping, which gives it a nice sweetness which I love!

They make theirs with fresh apples (duh!) and plenty of raisins and cinnamon. I really like my cinnamon so naturally, I adored their apple crumble. Once again, my family was won over by their apple crumble. Let me tell you, we finished the apple crumble within 2 days! Can you imagine? hahaha... I told you my family eats well.

Tastes even better warm. Dang, I wish I had some vanilla icecream to go with it. If you haven't tried apple crumble in your life and are simply too lazy to make one yourself, please do yourself a huge favour and order one from them. You have my promise that you won't regret it! Have I ever lied?

Since that apple crumble, I've been thinking alot about apple desserts. And it helped that we had so many Granny Smith's at home the other day. Mum asked me to quickly eat them. But I thought, hey instead of forcing myself to chomp on all of them (haha, okay, it wasn't as if she wanted me to finish them all), I thought why not make some apple crumble. However, I realised I didn't have coconut or rolled oats and I wanted to try something different anyway so I googled for an apple cobbler recipe and found one easy one. It called for walnuts too and I happen to have some at home so in I went to the kitchen and within an hour, we had some yummy Apple Walnut Cobbler to chow on!

I sliced the apples really thinly so you can't really see them here. But it tasted really good. Simple and so easy to make.

Honestly, I didn't know the difference between an apple crumble and an apple cobbler until I tried out this recipe. I mean, i've always heard of peach and blueberry cobbler but I never really thought or researched into how they were made. But hey, we learn something new everyday, no?

Oh and I change my mind.... - A is for Awesome Apple Crumble/Cobbler. I love my apples! :)


Apple Walnut Cobbler

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup walnuts -- coarsely chopped
4 cups tart apples -- thinly sliced
1 cup flour -- sifted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg -- beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter -- melted


Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Spread the sliced apples in the bottom of a greased baking dish (8x8). Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the egg, evaporated milk, and melted butter. Stir in the combined dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour over the apples in the baking dish. Top with remaining walnuts.

Bake at 325F (170 degree celcius) for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

This recipe for Apple Walnut Cobbler serves/makes 6

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chocolate Fondant

Chocolate has got to be life's greatest pleasure. Or at least, in my view that is. Nothing gets me smiling in excitement than a tub of good chocolate icecream or a bar of dark chocolate. It's no secret. I adore chocolate and allow me to repeat again - I do think that it's God's greatest gift to man. Blame it on my sweet tooth. Desserts rock my world and boy am I so glad that I don't have an chocolate allergy. Imagine that! How horrible it'll be eh?

If chocolate is my poison than chocolate fondant should be the secret to my heart. I'm a sucker for this molten chocolate cake. What can be better than eating something that you think or rather looks like a simple chocolate cake, only to have you finding a rich and decadent liquid chocolate centre once you've cut through it?

I used to think that it was a tricky dessert to make. Until I chanced upon a simple recipe from VideoJug. Woke up this morning to bake cupcakes for an Amplify event today and couldn't resist making myself some chocolate fondant.

Check out the molten centre:

So now tell me this is heaven....

Do yourself a favour this instant and whip one up yourself and chant together with me: "Chocolate is a lady's best friend".


Chocolate Fondant
Adapted from Video Jug's Chocolate Fondant Recipe.

66g chocolate
33g flour
66g sugar
66 g butter
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl using the double boiling method. Set aside.

Whisk eggs and slowly add in sugar and mix till airy and fluffy.

Sift flour in the chocolate-butter mixture and mix.

Add egg mixture to the chocolate-butter mixture and mix well.

Pour batter into ramekin and bake for about 6 mins (duration depends on how big your ramekin is. I put mine in one medium sized ramekin so it took longer, about 15 mins. but if you're using a few smaller ramekins, 6 mins should be sufficient)

Viola... your own chocolate fondant!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mortar & Pestle

A while ago, I attended an interactive event at the National Museum. Part of the Food & Culture Series, this 2 hour long session was conducted by Christopher Tan, a writer and cookbook author. You see his name in the papers everyweek giving recipe and food advice.

'The Mortar & Pestle in Southeast Asian Cuisine' - that was what it was all about. Ya, sounds a little bit dry and I was almost expecting a history lesson. But it was much better than that. Kind of a like a fun cooking class actually. We learnt the benefits of using a mortar & pestle and by the end of the session we were all converts. It's fun actually.

We have a mortar & pestle at home but I hardly use it. Usually Dad's the one who touches it but in recent years, it's been left in a lonely corner. Dad uses the food processor for his 'rempah' because it's too much hard work I guess, to use the mortar & pestle.

But seriously, this amazing kitchen tool needs more credit. I learnt how to make two dishes at the session and one of them has a very strong Thai accent.

First you need to make a coriander root, garlic & white pepper paste. Then you use the paste and cook it with prawns and serve it with sticky rice. Apparently you an use it to marinate seafood before you barbecue it. It's seriously amazing stuff. I never knew that coriander root could do so much. I'm really impressed. This paste is really simple to make. All you need is a tsp of white pepper corns, about 3 tbsp finely chopped coriander root and 10 cloves of garlic. Use the mortar & pestle and grind it to a paste. Trust me, it's worth the effort! Right Dot? *winks*

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Turning Upper Thomson Road P-I-N-K

It's no secret that I like eating at Miss Clarity Cafe. In fact, it's my most favourite place to hang out, and enjoy food at affordable prices.

Whenever I step into that cafe, I'm immediately transported to a pink girly world where I find myself being more chirpy and cheery than before.

This cafe brings back memories simply because I've had many gatherings there including friends' birthday celebrations. Those in Amplify will know what I mean! haha and we'll always make a racket when we go there.

Anyway in case those of you don't know, Miss Clarity Cafe has another outlet at Upper Thomson Road now. Their Purvis Street outlet still exists but they've simply expanded and you'll be happy to know that the other outlet is as lovely as its first.

Pink and pretty, the Upper Thomson Road outlet is more spacious and I personally love the location. I dropped by the new place last week and am glad I did. Seeing Nora again was like being reunited with a family member. :) She's that dear to me. haha, whenever I visit after a long time, she'll always ask me where have I been. She's a sweet lady.

So while I was there, I had quite a bit of food which kept me very full until late that night. We had cheese fries which I simply dig. They melt cheddar cheese instead of using some lame'ol ready made cheese squeeze. Really made all the difference.

Allow me to rave about the Papa de lamb. Dot was craving pasta and wanted to eat pappardelle pasta so bad. So we ordered this dish with slow-braised lamb shank. There wasn't an inch of disappointment with this. Braised for 4 hours, the lamb was tender and really delicious. Topped with a tangy tomato concasse, this dish was the clear winner for the night. It soothed our appetites and plastered grins on our faces.

Finally, the paella dish was on the menu so I had to try it. It came out in a little black pot with all the seafood on top (i ordered the seafood one) and looked really yummy. We tasted it and found it to be a bit different from what we expected. It was good, no doubt, but I think it could have done with more flavouring. So we asked Jonathan (the chef) and he told us that he took a different twist. It was cooked with tomatoes and saffron but not meant to be too strong and overpowering. I have to admit that I've never tasted an authentic paella from a Spanish restaurant so I believe I can't say much.

Oooo dessert was something altogether. We had the chestnut cream meille feuille. It's bascially wafer-thin crisp pastry (filo i think) sandwiched in between chestnut cream. Eating this was a dream. I totally digged the pastry and the cream was good too. Lovely

Next was the hot favourite (or so we heard) and one forkful later, we understood why. The top is kind of like a chocolate truffle cake while the bottom was cream cheese. The cheese is so smooth and creamy that it slides down your throat and it was a perfect fit, pairing it with the dark mysterious and equally smooth chocolate truffle. Chocolate truffle is a little like fudge so it works out pretty good. Oh yes, this cake is called Twin Divine. It was indeed divine I must say.

Jonanathan made us a green tea souffle too. I quite like the green colour. This souffle's light and airy and I like the green tea taste.

Here's a peek at how the interior looks like.

Much bigger eh?

I think I might visit here more often from now on. I think this location is more suitable for birthday celebrations.

What can I say, Miss Clarity is going places and I'm happy for them :D


Miss Clarity Cafe
2050 Upper Thomson Road
(beside Longhouse Hawker Centre)

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