Saturday, September 24, 2011

Homemade Matcha Latte

The little cup doesn't really compliment 
the matcha latte's pale green colour too well..

Matcha latte is a nice breakfast drink.

I can't remember where I learnt this from (another blog, I think), but it's really easy to make your own matcha latte at home.

All you need to do is to add 1 - 1.5 teaspoon of matcha powder and some sugar (optional) to a cup of milk in a saucepan. Stir the mixture well and turn off the heat when you see some small bubbles.

Then, transfer to a French Press and push plunger down a few times to foam the latte.

And that's really all there is to make a cup of really yummy matcha latte.

The matcha latte looks better in a glass

Monday, September 19, 2011

Homemade Shanghainese Wantons


When we have homemade wantons at home, it could only mean one thing - The Mother-in-law is staying with us!

She arrived last Friday, with lots of different goodies from Hong Kong.. including fresh wanton skin from the market near her home!

These are different, she insist. These are apparently Shanghainese wantons and indeed, they look and taste very different then the Cantonese ones.

The way to make the filling and wrap them is pretty similar. It's the wanton skin that differentiates the 2 types of wanton.

The skin of the Shanghainese wanton is thicker and paler in colour. The Cantonese wanton skin is yellow from the egg yolks used and usually have an alkaline taste to it. This is due the alkaline water added to make the texture of the skin springy.

I like both types of wantons - Shanghainese, or Cantonese. And I'm lucky The Mother-in-law likes making them.. because whilst they are very yummy... they are a lot of work.

See this post on how to make them at home. 



The wantons go very well with this brand of chilli from Hong Kong - Koon Yick Wah Kee chilli sauce. This chilli sauce is slightly spicy and quite sour. Very suitable with piping hot wantons!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lavana Spa, Bangkok


I decided to try Lavana Spa after reading about it on DreamersLoft. It is a pretty large spa place and I liked the place immediately because it looked very clean and smelled great.


The Husband and I opted for a 90 mins oil massage and they had a promotion of a free 60 mins facial. It was a first for The Husband - he found the facial experience pretty interesting. I think "all these hot and cold things" were his comments.

In any case, I found the entire massage experience at Lavana Spa pretty good. Maybe it was because we went in the morning when they weren't as busy, so the place was fairly quiet and I really enjoyed the 90 mins of massage.

We were also served a free simple American breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs and ham after our massage. I think the spa offers free breakfast for all massages before 1pm to encourage more people to book a morning slot


I especially liked the chocolate mousse thing that we were served at the reception area after our treatments.


Lavana Bangkok Spa
No.4 Soi Sukhumvit 12 Sukhumvit Road
Klongtoey, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110
Tel : +66 (0) 2 2294510-12
Opening Hours : 09:00 am - 02:00 am
http://www.lavanabangkok.com/index.html

Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds

I had a pack of organic sunflower seeds lying around for a while now.

Inspired by a snack we had on the plane back from Bangkok, I decided to make some honey roasted sunflower seeds.

Like homemade granola, this is really something very easy to do - I just mixed the seeds with some canola oil and honey and then season with a sprinkling of sea salt. Then the mixture is spread out on a piece of Silpat and baked at 150 deg C for about 20 - 30 mins.

After it's cooled down, transfer to an air tight glass container and it makes for a good snack to munch on whilst watching TV.

This picture is taken outdoors in the middle of a sunny day 
- hence the "glaring look".. I don't like it much.
I've found that food pictures are best taken outdoors 
around 10-11am or 2-3pm on a cloudy day..

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Greyhound Cafe, Bangkok

We arranged to meet up with P, an ex-colleague from Thailand when we were in Bangkok.

P suggested we meet at the Greyhound Cafe in Central Chidlom.


I though the Greyhound Cafe felt very similar to the PS Cafe chain in Singapore, except with a more interesting menu.

The food was pretty good.. My favourite of what we tried was a dish called "Complicated Noodles" - which was really a stack of fresh lettuce with some flat pieces of flat rice noodles, minced pork and coriander. You wrap everything with the lettuce before eating. A bit messy but it was quite fun to eat.


We also had the fresh lasagna salad and mini chicken wings, both of which was okay but nothing too special.



I especially liked the drinks we had. The Husband had a Thai milk tea granita which was delicious but you had to be patient with it as you need it to melt a little before drinking. I had a green concoction of green grapes, green apple and mint sauce. It was a really refreshing drink!



The desserts were pretty decent as well. The Mixed Berry Layer Cake had very soft, fluffy fresh cream and I thought the Nutella Banana Tart was very well made - a nice crunchy crust with yummy chocolate and fresh bananas.



It's a cafe I would definitely visit again, especially after an afternoon of shopping!

Greyhound Cafe
Central Chidlom, 4th floor
Bangkok

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coconut Custard from Mont Nom Sod


Just before we left Bangkok, we went to MBK Shopping Centre (also called Mahboonkrong) to buy some "kaya" for my parents.

My parents visited Bangkok a couple of weeks back and raved about the "kaya" from a shop on the second level. 

They couldn't tell me which shop it was though so after combing the entire second floor, we came to the conclusion that the "kaya" they wanted had to be from Mont Nom Sod (Milk and Bread Shop).

Kaya is coconut jam that is made from coconut milk, eggs and sugar. I've always considered it to be a specialty from Singapore, so it is really strange to be looking for "kaya" to buy home from Bangkok.

Mont Nom Sod is a small shop that specialises in selling bread with all kinds of spread and milk in all kinds of drinks..

The "kaya", or coconut custard, as it is called at Mont Nom Sod is freshly made and last only 3 days.. so I only brought home 2 little bottles.

I had it for breakfast today and it was really quite delicious - sweet, but not too sweet.. with a tinge of pandan and coconut... a very nice, wobbly texture.

It went very well with a slice of fluffy white toast.

Yum!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baan Khanitha & Gallery

Baan Khanitha is a restaurant just a stone's throw away from Somerset Park Suanplu. The Husband read somewhere that it is a pretty good restaurant so we decided to have our first lunch in Bangkok there.

The restaurant was quiet (only 3 tables during lunch) and looked both expensive and pretentious. I braced myself for disappointment as I sat down.

Happily, it turned out that I was wrong.

The restaurant was indeed quite expensive and food came in small portions.. but everything tasted very good!

For starters, we were served a platter of bits and pieces with wild betel leaves - bits of lime, bits of dried squid and dried prawns, bits of chopped lime, onions and chilli. The waiter said we were to put a bit of everything on a leaf and then top it with the sweet sauce in the centre and wrap it up.

"Be careful the chilli padi," he said. 

And so we avoided the chilli. The strange mixture was pretty good and tasted really refreshing! I liked the bits of chopped lime that came with the skin and all.


Then the food we ordered started coming.

The tomyum soup was delicious - it came with 2 fat river prawns (also called "big headed prawns" in Hong Kong). These are the right type of prawns to use in tom yum.. as all the fat from the prawns would seep out into the soup, giving it a richer seafood taste.



The grilled duck and lychee with curry sauce was also very good. The sauce was quite sweet and more peanut-like than curry-like, but I thought it went very well with the juicy duck meat and plain rice. I didn't think the lychees added anything to the dish though.


I also liked the crispy prawn cakes - especially the plum sauce and pickled cucumbers and onions that came with it.


My favourite part of the meal though was the rice. Which is really strange because we only had plain, steamed rice. But it was fluffy, yet every grain was separate and distinct. The Husband and I asked for second helpings of the plain rice..

The fresh mango with sticky rice and coconut ice-cream was also delicious. The sticky rice came with crunchy bits on top.. and the coconut ice-cream had pieces of dried coconut and some jelly, jackfruit-like bits inside. The combination of the cold ice-cream with bits, soft sweet mango and sticky, crunchy glutinous rice was heavenly!


I still liked food from along the streets in Bangkok but this is a restaurant I would definitely be visiting for very refined, quality Thai food.

We never made it into the gallery part of the place but I understand it is an art gallery..

Baan Khanitha & Gallery
69 South Sathorn Rd (intersection of South Sathorn Rd and Suanplu Rd)
Sathorn, Bangkok
Click here for the website

Somerset Park Suanplu

Somerset Park Suanplu is a great service apartment to stay at in Bangkok.

The apartment is very spacious and clean. The staff are all extremely friendly. The  location is pretty central - there are a few really good restaurants and massage places nearby, it's possible to walk to a sky train station, or else just a short taxi ride to major shopping centres.

It's also very quiet and there is a beautiful garden just in front of the apartment to take a short stroll after breakfast.

Breakfast isn't great though and I would rather walk out and have a bowl of noodles by the street than have the breakfast in the hotel. It's not that it's bad... just very typical, boring hotel breakfast fare.

We booked the hotel from an online travel website only to find out that if you book direct from the Somerset Service Apartments website, you'd get a better deal due to their guaranteed best rates offer.

After I expressed my disappointment, the apartment upgraded us to a slightly bigger apartment and had some flowers for us when we arrived!

The best part of my stay was that it was really quite quiet and I was able to get all the uninterrupted rest that I needed over the weekend.

 Our apartment came with a living room

 A small but well equipped kitchen

And a spacious bedroom...

The roses in the room were beautiful

I also really liked the garden just outside the hotel lobby

 Love the pretty lotus flower

Greenery and water just makes me feel relaxed..

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Short Getaway to Bangkok

I was really needing a break last Friday.

However, when I got to the airport, I was thinking to myself that maybe it wasn't the best of ideas to be going to a busy city like Bangkok when all I needed was some rest and relax.

It turned out to be a restful and relaxing trip though.

We stayed in a really nice and quiet service apartment, took went for a couple of nice long massages, took long naps everyday and watched a couple of movies I should have caught last year at the theatres.

It also drizzled on and off the whole time we were in Bangkok so the weather was nice and cool.. So cool in fact, I caught a bit of a cold.

And then of course, there was the food! A couple of the best restaurants we visited this time were also just a few minutes walk away from the apartment too.. so we didn't have to really travel a lot.

I didn't regret going for my break in Bangkok at all. In fact, I think that I will probably go for a longer trip next time!

I will be posting more about my trip over the next few days.

In the meantime, enjoy these pictures!

View from the plane. Beautiful padi fields!

 Nearer to Bangkok..

Great food in Bangkok

Tom yum soup - I can never seem to get enough of this soup..

 I loved to snack on these green mangoes - you can eat them with 
a bit of the sticky, fishy, spicy sweet sauce or some flavoured sugar. 
These can be found all over Bangkok - at the supermarkets or along the streets

 Of course, those massage sessions really helped me to relax

And those sweet desserts helped as well!

It was drizzling for most part of the time we were in Bangkok.. 
but when it wasn't raining, a nice stroll 
around the apartment was really nice and relaxing

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fresh Carrot Juice


This is probably the healthiest sweet drink you can find - fresh carrot juice.

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of potassium, and contain vitamins C & B6, copper, folic acid,thiamine and magnesium. The high level of beta-carotene gives carrots their distinctive orange colour. Beta-carotene is a strong antioxidant, so carrots are really really good for you and your skin. (As with everything in life though, moderation is key. Consume too much and you'd turn into a carroty shade as well)

When juicing carrots, it's better to use big, older carrots than those soft, young ones. I've found that the bigger, older carrots tend to make sweeter carrot juice.

In fact, the bigger ones are also better for soups and in stir-fry, so I find myself buying young carrots only very occasionally, when I use them raw in salads.

Have a good week ahead.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Craving for Thai Food

A pot of tom yum soup I've made recently. 
It's good but doesn't taste like the "real thing"

I have been craving Thai food recently and I guess there is no better way to satisfy the cravings by booking a trip to Bangkok.

It's been a while since I've been to Bangkok. Hm.. come to think of it... I've not been there since I started this blog!

I'm really looking forward to this trip.

See you all very soon!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

MasterChef Australia and Caesar Salad Dressing

I've been watching every episode of MasterChef Australia Season 2 on cable TV (Star World Channel).

It is an extremely long TV game show series but I must say it is really quite enjoyable.

Firstly, the participants are pretty nice people and they actually seem to quite like each other (compare this with MasterChef US and you'd know what I mean).

Secondly, I've found myself learning so much about cooking from the series, particularly from the "Masterclass" episodes.

The recipes look very good and I find myself picking up useful tips along the way, like scoring the skin of duck before roasting, how to make lava chocolate cake ahead of time, etc.

All the recipes from the classes are also available online, and I'm sure I will be using quite a few of them soon.

This is one that The Husband used recently - Caesar Salad Dressing by Donna Hay.

Ingredients
1 egg
2 anchovies
1/2 tsp Wostershire sauce
1 tsp of lemon juice
3/4 cup grape seed oil
salt to season

Mix all dressing ingredients together in blender until smooth. We have found that it's also good to add in some finely grated garlic and dijon mustard.. but it's important to add these slowly and taste along the way.

Now that I know this dressing works, next time, I'd try adding all the works to this salad - soft boiled eggs and honey-roasted bacon.

Caesar salad with homemade dressing

Monday, September 5, 2011

Open Kitchen Concept Design - Part 2

As promised previously..

Here are some kitchen pictures and sites I really like. Enjoy!

I like the white beams and the lamps in this kitchen. And the chairs are just so cute..


The natural lighting of this kitchen is great! I like the combination of country styled furnishings with pretty lights and designer chairs.


This kitchen is so sleek and cool looking, it's hard to believe it's an Ikea kitchen. BTW, this picture comes from a really nice blog called Solid Frog - a blog with beautiful pictures of beautiful homes.


Spacious and simple. Nothing to dislike about this kitchen, except I'd be scared to cook in it... for fear of messing it up!


And lastly... for a whole lot more of kitchen pictures and ideas, see this and this. These pages are sources of inspiration.

Red Apple with Yakult


Another nice thing to do with those yummy New Zealand apples - Juice some and mix with a bottle of Yakult.

If you juice apples that have come straight out of the fridge, this drink will be nice and cold even without any ice.

Enjoy the week ahead.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Easy Apple Spice Cake


The Husband found some really delicious New Zealand apples at the supermarket near our place.

So I decided to use some of those apples to make an apple cake for a potluck with my family today.

Every major festival, my extended family would gather at my uncle's place for a potluck session. Today's potluck was to celebrate the the Mid Autumn Festival.

The Chinese celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival, also called Mooncake Festival on the 15th day of the eighth Chinese lunar month when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. This year's Mid-Autumn Festival falls on 12 Sep, so we are celebrating it in advance.

As with every potluck, there is too much food to go around so I was initially disappointed that this apple cake wasn't flying off the table. But then my grandma and aunt, both great cooks, gave me a thumbs up for the cake... and everyone who ate it seemed to like it.

The brother-in-law was also very quick to suggest that he would packed home the rest of the cake.. so I think this turned out to be a pretty good recipe, after all.

And it is a really easy recipe too. The original recipe is from marthastewart.com

Ingredients
Dry ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Wet ingredients
1 3/4 cups sugar (original recipe says 2 cups)
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil (I use canola oil)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Others
3 cups apples, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped nuts, pecans or walnuts (optional, I used macadamia nuts)

What I did
1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C
2. Sift all the dry ingredients together
3. Cream the wet ingredients together using the paddle attachment of the electric mixer until the mixture turns lemon yellow
4. Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients to the mixture, mixing at medium speed
5. Gently mix in the apples and nuts.
6. Pour the mixture into a 9 inch cake pan, or a 12 cup Bundt pan (Spray the pan and lightly dust with some flour before pouring the mixture in). I added some blueberries on top today, as I had some extra blueberries at home.
7. Bake for 90 mins (The original recipe says 75 - 90 mins but I've found that the cake cooks only at about 90 mins. If the top gets too brown, cover the pan with an aluminium foil in the last 20 - 15 mins of baking)

This cake is wonderful when served warm, ideally with some good vanilla ice-cream. I had it warm and after it cooled down and I definitely think warm is much better.




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