Wednesday, January 31, 2007
That which you see above, my friends, happens to be a great source of magnesium and it's also known to improve one's cardiovascular system. Not only does it lower your risk of developing high cholestrol and high blood pressure; it supposedly controls your blood sugar levels which in turn, lowers your risk of diabetes.
I'm no nutritionist, but I know a health-food when I see one, or taste one. Besides, the internet provides a wealth of information!
What's this amazing food that I happen to be crazy about right now?
Buckwheat of course. Commonly used in soba (buckwheat flour), buckwheat is also a common staple in Russia.
My cousin studies at the Moscow Conservatory in Russia and he bought some packs of buckwheat. I've never ever eaten whole buckwheat and found it quite intriguing. According to my research, I was given toasted buckwheat groats. There are various ways of cooking it. But I think the easiest way is to steam it, and the end result is known as kasha.
Since I was clueless as to how to cook it, I googled buckwheat and found this kasha recipe. It's a really fool-proof dish to cook when you're hungry and don't want to eat something normal. Haha. okay, not that buckwheat is abnormal! It's just really good if you are looking for something to satisfy your hunger. Yes, I was a very hungry person today. My appetite today seemed rather insatiable. Thank god for the buckwheat!
Anyway I toasted the buckwheat first (even though I think it's already toasted), before pouring it in a pot of boiling water with some oil. The recipe recommended sea-salt (which I didn't have) and butter/olive oil.
You know what? I love buckwheat. Whole buckwheat. It has a nutty flavour that's easy on the palate and it's delicious as well. Cook it with eggs or throw in bacon bits etc... Or add in your favourite seasoning and viola! You have a healthy, satisfying dish. :)
I've decided that I'm going to eat more whole grains and less refined stuff. I know I know, I can't possibly be a health-nut but hey at least I'll try my best to lead a balanced lifestyle. Afterall, we are what we eat, no?
Saturday, January 27, 2007
How do you like your waffles?
I like mine crisp on the outside and a little moist on the inside.
There's a particular quality about waffles that I find most attractive. I suppose it's the light aroma that gets to me. You know, when you use a waffle iron and while the batter is cooking, there's this lovely 'baked' smell that materialises. I dig that! Heh, when it comes to food, smell is very important. I have a habit of smelling food. Shhh... don't tell anyone else :p
How a food tastes and smells affects then entire meal and I'm just glad that I have quite a good nose for food. Put it this way, I can guess foods that are cooking just by its scent. Sounds weird doesn't it? Haha... anyway back to waffles.
I've been selling waffles at Amplify's Eden Lounge for the past weeks and found them really easy to make. I want to share this fool-proof recipe which I got from one of my aunts. Feel free to tweak it where you see fit and multiply the recipe accordingly to yield more waffles.
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
Beat egg and mix it with the milk.
Sift flour, add sugar and combine with the egg-milk mixture.
Mix well and add oil. Mix until smooth and cook with a waffle iron.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Good chocolate is expensive. Or not?
I do think that the best chocolate might not necessarily be the priciest one. Many people might beg to differ but I stand by my statement. You see, sometimes we're so blinded by brand that we fail to recognise the underdogs.
Perhaps it's just my inclination to always support the underdog brands or my innate allergic reaction to conformity. When I try something, I don't judge it based on the brand - I'm fair.
That doesn't mean I don't like well-known brands such as Valrhona, Lindt or Green & Black's. Their chocolate rocks but I do fancy experimenting with other lesser-known brands. Seriously, I conclude that one can find good chocolate in the most unlikely places.
And I'm going to talk about it in this post since the theme for Sugar High Friday #27 is Chocolate by Brand. Hosted by David 'The Chocolate Guy' Lebovitz, I was really excited when I found out about the theme. Thanks David!
The chocolate in question is Carrefour's Dessert Chocolate. I know I know, the packaging looks simple and unassuming. But wait till you unwrap it:
Something mysterious lies within and it's 52% dark.
I suppose it's just me and my love affair with the dark. Dark chocolate soothes me, it heightens my senses and man, it's too good to be replaced with anything else. There's nothing like a good bar of dark chocolate.
Alot of times, when I bake cookies that call for chocolate chips, I immediately replace them with chocolate chunks. I always have a few bars of Carrefour Dessert Chocolate in my refridgerator because I always have the urge to bake these chocolate chunk cookies whenever I have the time. I've used Carrefour's chocolate to make fondue and truffles. They always turn out great and I've stuck to the Carrefour brand ever since.
I don't remember when I started using Carrefour's Dessert Chocolate. I think it was 3 years ago when I started to bake avidly. That was about the time Carrefour came to Singapore. There are currently two outlets here. I love Carrefour because of the French and international products the carry. Alot of times, they have stuff that I find hard to find at NTUC.
Usually people scoff at homebrands but truly, Carrefour's chocolates are a force to be reckoned with. Call me biased if you wish, but I am a firm believer of quality and am not blinded by brands. Yes, it might be cheaper than branded chocolates (SGD$4.90 for two 200g bars) but it suits me fine. I think it gives my cookies that extra omph.
That's how big I chop them chocolates. I don't believe in scrimping when you bake chocolate chunk cookies. The more chocolate the merrier! Chocolate chips just doesn't do it for me. I think they are toooo tiny!
My cookie dough loves its marriage to Carrefour's Dessert Chocolate....
In order to get mighty fine chocolate cookies, you need good chocolate and I have found that in Carrefour.
Oh what would I do without their chocolates?
Perhaps then, I wouldn't have the yummiest chocolate chunk cookies.
What's so thrilling about these cookies? Those who have tried them will know what I'm about to describe. These cookies contain the chocolate chunks well and one bite brings you closer to chocolate heaven. What's more, they're easy to make! I won't deny that it's not the most perfect cookie but right now, I've been baking them so often that it becomes second nature. My friends eyes widen with excitement when I bring them some and I find joy in seeing others enjoy these delights. I've sold these cookies in previous bake sales as well. People seem to love them, so I hope you will try them out and put a smile on someone else's face :)
With good chocolate, you find infinite possibilities.
Chocolate Chunk Cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200g bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks
Set your oven temperature to 180 degree celcius.
Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.
Mix the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Drop cookie dough onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Sometimes the simpler the food is, the more glorious it tends to be.
Who says you can only get good food in posh restaurants? Food is food is food. The only difference is the combination of ingredients (how well they meld together, resulting in a gamut of taste and smell) and the packaging.
Hawker food in my opinion, is simply food that is stripped to its bare essentials. It's naked, exposed for all to see. Most of the time, it doesn't look as pretty as what you'd get in places where you'd most probably be forking out 3 times as much. It's all in the branding, marketing etc.
But some food is so good that you really don't need to market it - that usually happens when the food is so good that it speaks for itself. Having a 'voice' of its own, these types of food are themselves legends. Backed with history, each has a story to tell. That is perhaps why I have a soft spot for hawker food. I appreciate the hard work that goes behind each day in the non-air-conditioned kitchen. Some stalls are passed down from generations. So the recipes are old and authentic.
Food might seem simple and plainly functional to some, but to me, it's multi-dimensional. It's an entire entity. There's so many textures, flavours, culture, history that goes into it. I dare say blood and sweat too. But I will delve into that another time.
Today I want to bring to light a certain stall that most of you might have already heard of or dined at. It's a rather popular place. Open from 11am to 3:30am, this stall can get really packed; especially during suppertime.
Here's the reason why:
What's so fantastic about curry you ask? This is no ordinary curry. It's Hainanese curry rice at its best. The gravy is thick and starchy (i think they put corn starch) and tasty. Eating rice drenched in curry of this sort makes for a different gastronomic experience. Perhaps I'm just too used to normal curry that's why I find this type a novelty. I've eaten Hainanese curry rice before but that was many years ago - Midnight Curry Rice I think (they open only at midnight.. haha).
So how come I'm suddenly so infatuated with this curry rice? Maybe it's due to the fact that it's Beach Road Scissors-Cut Curry Rice. I have Winston to thank for this. He brought me to the stall in promise that I will be super satisfied. He says that it's one of the pioneer Hainanese curry rice stall. I've heard that they named their stall Scissors-Cut Curry Rice because they used to use scissors to cut the pork chops. I think it's an ingenious name and catches one's attention.
The colour of their curry also caught my attention:
I totally dig the lovely reddish-earth-brown hue. The smooth liquid glides down well and is just so yummy!
Then there's the pork and cabbage:
Totally adored the sauce as well. I realised that I am very much a sauce person. If the sauce is done well, chances are, the dish would taste good. Well most of the time.
Winston and I ordered many dishes and ate till we were so full! We also had chicken chop and this feisty sambal ikan bilis. It rocks my world:
Our entire meal cost only $14, including a generous bowl of winter melon soup. Here's the interesting thing - the soup is sold by the drink stall. In it, there's pork chop, winter melon and soya beans (my favourite) and it only costs $3. It's refreshing, especially since the weather was so hot.
I like their signboard:
Pretty straightforward; scissors and all. It isn't exactly on Beach Road though. This stall is actually at the junction of Kitchener Road and Jalan Besar Road. It's opposite Hong Leong Finance and diagonal to Jalan Besar Plaza. The humble store is part of the Lau Di Fang (Mandarin for 'Old Place') coffee shop:
Who knew that such a simple nondescript location would hold such a gem? I recommend this place to all who enjoy food in its simplest form with no pretense and no nonsense - just pure soul food.
Beach Road Scissors-Cut Curry Rice
Lau Di Fang
229 Jalan Besar
Open 11am to 3:30pm
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I'm sold. I'm seriously sold. I'm sold to the idea of a delicious Ramly Beef Burger. Not just ANY Ramly Beef Burger but the ones made by Ranor. In my previous post, I explained how I found out about Ranor's Ramly Burgers on the Makansutra Forum. Well yesterday I ate only the chicken version and realised that it was the beef burger that have received rave reviews. Although the chicken one was good, I still think the beef one is DA BOMB.
It seriously is unlike any Ramly Burger I've ever tasted in Singapore. Just like how ieatishootipost explained - it is done with skill and a good combination of flavours.
How do they do it? Well I think it's the work of the curry powder and the Worchester sauce. And the beef patty. Oooooooo... what can I say? It's juicy, it's moist, it's phenomenal. Those who know me personally know that I seldom rave about beef or burgers this way. But hey, everything changes today. I watched intently while the dude cooked the patty with care and served it in the signature Ramly wrapper.
It makes me wonder if they cook it the same way in Malaysia. Anyone knows? I'm still on cloud 9 I tell you! Tasting this Ramly Burger is like tasting a bit of heaven. I'm seriously not exaggerating. Ask anyone who've tasted it and they'll readily agree. My sister is now a huge fan as well! And at $2.50, it's really worth it.
I can't stop raving about the burger! Ahhhhh... Here's another photo which shows the lovely pinkish brown beef patty:
Feast your eyes and pray that Ranor Ramly Burgers appear in the next pasar malam near you! :)
P.S. For the uninitiated, pasar malam is a malay term for night market. It consists of a stretch of street stalls that open from evening till late.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Just came home from kickboxing and was really hungry. I felt like I could eat a cow... hmm okay, maybe a chicken. Or maybe a good burger! There's a McDonald's near my place but heh I really don't fancy their burgers.
Then I remembered there's a pasar malam nearby and they sell Ramly burgers. Just from me to you, I used to hate Ramly burgers because they looked so oily and grotesque on the grill. None of them looked edible. Apparently I haven't been looking in the right places.
One might think all Ramly burger stalls are the same but I beg to differ. There's a huge difference. And I must say that I was glad I read ieatishootipost's post on Ranor's Ramly Burgers in the Makansutra Forum. He tried the beef version but I stuck with the chicken. Told you I could eat an entire chicken; hmmm okay maybe just a chicken patty, sandwiched between fried egg, cheese, chilli sauce and fluffy sesame coated buns.
At only $2.50, I think it's a steal. It can't get any better. Ranor's Ramly Burgers are comparable to those sold in Malaysia. I'm not kidding! The patty is not drenched in oil and neither is it too hard. Everything is done just right - the egg, the chilli sauce (ooo-la-la... spicy and feisty!), patty and good thick buns.
This burger made my day! I couldn't stop raving about it after. My mum went out to buy one for herself after hearing me sing praises about it. I am still surprised actually. Could I have ever imagined a Ramly burger in Singapore tasting so good? I think not.
You have got to try this burger. It's yummilious. But thing is, Ranor Ramly Burgers are not located at a fixed location. They go where pasar malams go. So it depends. If you're lucky, you might get them in your neighbourhood.
Oh and one more thing - you can spot the difference in packaging. Other Ramly Burgers pack theirs in styrofoam box but Ranor wraps theirs in the authentic Ramly paper with its logo on.
Do open your eyes the next time you past by a Ramly store - if there's the word Ranor above the Ramly logo, you HAVE to try one for yourself. :)
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Christmas ended a week ago but that doesn't mean the Christmas spirit has faded into oblivion. Well at least for me it hasn't because I felt so loved when I received my gift pack from Nadnut yesterday.
Remember the Christmas Flog Exchange post on my blog last December? Organised by Sam of The Hinata Diaries and June of Nibble Scribble, this local flog (a colloqial term for food blog, you know, combine food and blog and you get flog!) event attacted about 15 locals, most of whom own food blogs of their own.
This event is similar to your usual Christmas gift exchange except that you actually exchange wishes beforehand and try your best to match that request and possibly add in some of your own creativity.
Most of the wishes were rather original, with some requesting for something homebaked. I think it's kinda sweet you know, to taste something you know is unique of the individual, baked with love, and is almost priceless since you definitely can't find it sold out there at some commercial enterprise.
Anyway, my wish was for your favourite dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate and I simply wanted to try the dark chocolate that the person who granted my wish liked. Nadnut was the one who granted my wish and I must say she was really sweet to give me that gift pack you see above. I am seriously spoilt for choice. She gave me 6 different types of dark chocolate. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box. There were so many different dark chocolate to choose from. It would take me quite a while to slowly finish them all. I intend to savour each one bit by bit.
The one I'm most excited about is the Meiji 99% dark chocolate because I've been wanting to get it. If I'm not wrong, I think I might have tried Lindt's 99% or 95% dark chocolate once. I can't remember clearly but it sure was an interesting experience. When I was much younger, I preferred sweeter chocolates, it was only when I was growing up then I got to like dark chocolate a whole lot more. Or it could also be probably because dark chocolate is easily available now than it was before? I don't know... but I sure see many more brands of noir chocolat in recent years.
This other one by Meiji sure looks interesting. Can't wait to try it. The Japanese have the cutest packaging I tell ya! Sometimes it entices you to buy the product even though you know you might not even want it in the first place.
And here's something that got me all excited too:
Classic Dark Tim Tam! I fell in love with Tim Tam a few years ago when I was doing a print journalism internship in Brisbane. I must have eaten a record number of Tim Tams when I was there. Oh Oh, I also mastered the Tim Tam Slam! It's awesome I tell you. First you bite the corners on both ends - just one each, do it diagonally. Then you take a hot drink (I recommend coffee, hot chocolate or Milo) and use the Tim Tam as if it's a straw - dip it slightly in the drink and suck hard so that the liquid melts the center and you are able to drink up the smooth dark chocolately fudgey delight + soft yummy chocolate biscuit. It's amazing I tell ya. Truly phenomenal. You won't realise it until you actually do the deed. It might not sound much but it's really an experience!
Nadnut also included Droste 75% pastilles (also another of my favourite!) and another Duc d'O 76% dark chocolate. I certainly look forward to having a good time munching on the many chocolatey delights! Thanks girl, it is really a great gift and boy am I a happy girl right now!
Saturday, January 06, 2007
I don't quite believe in horoscopes but I have got to admit that as a Leo, I fit the said personality to a T. Especially my passionate nature. It's true, I have various passions, all of which I pursue with great zeal and the most obvious one is self-explanatory - which explains the existence of this humble food blog.
Seriously, FOOD is like my second name. That's what most of my friends know me for, my great passion for food - both producing, appreciating and consuming it. I am not really sure how to properly explain it, but let's just say that I take immense joy in using my humble talent to make others happy. I enjoy it when I see others enjoying their food, especially if made by me and I just gotta say - food goes beyond feeding one's hunger. Some of you might have noticed the various occasions when I post about me baking or cooking for an event of some sort at Amplify (the youth ministry I'm in) and well, this post itself has alot to do with that.
You see, I've decided to take my passion for baking and cooking to a higher level. I recently assumed the role of Food & Beverage head at Amplify. I won't deny that it's going to be loads of hard work, but really, I've been thinking about it and I think God couldn't have made it clearer. I want to use my skills for the benefit of others and to spread His love at the same time. It's a belief of mine that one can actually taste food and notice the difference - whether it's cooked with love, or not. Sounds utterly cheesy, but seriously, it's usually rather intangible but that's just one way I see food.
Wait, there's more...
At Amplify, the hospitality team (of which the F&B dept. works very closely with) has recently launched Eden, a lounge area at the foyer where we reside. So before session starts, this area will be a place of fellowship where youths will gather and enjoy good food, music, and company. Doesn't it all sound uber exciting? Well I think it is. I seriously can't think of a better way to utilize the space and turn it into a haven. Though the lounge isn't a permanent fixture, I think it's a great start - to have it every Friday before session!
Amplify holds what we call Amplify Fridays (it usually consists of lively praise & worship - the band rocks! + inspiring teaching, etc) every weeknight at CSC (Catholic Spirituality Centre) and we just had our first Friday of the year this week! It also marks the opening of the lounge area. I've got to take my hats off to Lydia (head of the hospitality team), Flo, and Winston for coming down super early to set up the place. Also, to the rest of the hospi team: Larris, Nat, Vivian, Rebecca, Lynette, Thelma etc... Thank you! It is not easy to set up and then clear up the place all in one day. It couldn't have been done without each and every committed person in Amplify.
Now, I've said so much, now let's see what's all this hoop-la about!
Welcome! This is the menu display (yea, the Eden name is not up yet because the designer is still printing the signboard I think .. haha ) and as you can see, I baked cookies for sale, chocolate chip cookies to be exact. Yep, and now every week I have to rack my brains to think of what to sell at Eden.
The area looks so dreamy and 'lounge-like' right? I love it! Most of the furniture we got at Ikea and the red sofa is actually from our room. Haha.
Look at all the buzz. It's amazing to see the area when it's full of activity. It's only the first week and the response has been really good.
Here's some of the hospi team at work, rearranging the stuff. We actually bought nice glasses and mugs from Ikea to serve our drinks. Oh and, check this out:
HUGE cookie jars. I adore them. They were from Ikea and they just fit right in. This is what I call a real cookie jar! :)
Gosh, I really have loads to say! I'm really anticipating what 2007 is going to bring. God is just so good and I feel really blessed in more ways than one. Having an opportunity to hone your baking and cooking skills - I mean come on, to me it's a dream come true. Nothing gives me more joy than knowing that I'm able to serve and give to others what God has given to me.
On a different note, ahhh... yes I've been busy busy busy, also because school started this week. Haha, yea I know what some of you are thinking - NUS starts school next week don't they? Well yes, that's true but this semester I'm actually studying at SMU. Yep, I applied for the local exchange programme. I know it sounds silly at first, but I mean seriously, I'm curious to know how things run at SMU. I love challenging myself and I really am going to make full use of this semester there and learn as much as I can. Besides it's nearer to my home and it's in town! I'm able to walk to Orchard Road or Bugis from SMU!
P.S. For some of you who are wondering what I've been going on and on about - Amplify, etc. Well, just for those who don't already know, I'm Catholic and I've been serving in Amplify, a youth ministry since 2002 and our mission statement is : To spread a love for Jesus Christ and His Church to every young person. Yep, well if you're curious, you can find out more at our blog.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Tze char stalls really rock my world right now.
For the uninitiated, tze char stalls are kinda like restaurants located at coffee shops. In short, it's a less classy version of a typical Chinese restaurant. At tze char stalls, there are no air conditioners, only fans and round tables sometimes lined with red plastic. Seated on plastic chairs, you stand to sweat and feel the humidity but know that you can't do much about it. Then you pray hard that the food is well worth your discomfort. When that happens, you forget about your surroundings and start to enjoy the food for what it's worth.
I had a similar experience recently. Leo and Cass have always raved to me about this tze char place near their homes. It's called Jin Long and they supposedly serve good and cheap seafood and food. So at their invitation last week, me and a couple of friends joined them and as promised, did not live to regret it.
Let me start with the black pepper crab as seen in the above picture. This crab was truly amazing. The peppery sauce enchanted all, so much so that we were licking our crab shells (ok, that was me) and scooping up the excess sauce from the plate and eating it with our rice and all. You could feel the silence that ensued, after the crab was served. Everyone could only look in awe and once we've all picked a part of the crab, you could hear the concentration given in ensuring that nothing is wasted, not a shred of crab flesh left in their shells that would go to waste. No no no, we all dutifully cleaned out our shells and slurped up all the sauce. It was really really good.
Next, the oatmeal prawns,
Nothing super fantastic but I love their abundance of oatmeal and I liked that it wasn't too oily. You know how sometimes they put loads of oil when they fry their prawns, until the oatmeal becomes so wet and oily because of their high absorbency? Yea, that was absent in these prawns and I was so happy. Ended up eating quite a bit of the oatmeal :)
At tze char stalls, pork ribs are usually the most common dish that everyone needs to eat:
I suppose it's quite hard to go wrong? These pork ribs were tasty and delicious. Personally, I think that if a tze char stall serves good pork ribs, then their other dishes probably wouldn't all too bad either!
Ahh and I want to rave about another of their dish:
Sambal Kangkong with cuttlefish. Gosh, this was delish. I love sambal and I appreciate a good serve of sambal kangkong and wasn't at all disappointed with this one. It was cooked just right and the sambal was uber shiok!
Oh, then, last but not least, the triple egg soup:
Really tasty this soup! It has 3 types of eggs according to Cass. This is her favourite soup and I think it has century egg, salted egg and your normal egg. I like it. Though I know it doesn't really look really appetising in the picture.
Anyway I'm glad I finally went to Jin Long. It really lives up to its reputation (from what I hear from Leo and Cass, it's really popular) and you can tell that it's quite well-liked from the crowded tables! We had to wait for a table of six when we were there on a Wednesday night. Imagine that! I don't really have the address but I know it's somewhere near Bedok Interchange. About 10 minutes walk.
Before I forget, let me wish all of you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! God Bless You! And may this year of 2007 bring you good health, happiness and lots of good eats. Cheers :)