Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hello there!

Hello there, nice to see you on OKC's blog.

OKC apologises for not blogging much recently. She has been away on a business trip, you see - first to London, then to New York.

In fact, London was where she found me during a John Lewis sale. I am a lot more value-for-money compared to my Singapore cousins. Maybe that's why OKC was crazy enough to lug me halfway around the world from London, to New York and then home to Singapore.

She also bought a cute little plate from New York, with all the landmarks of The City printed along the skirting of the plate.

We are both happily resting in her kitchen now.

OKC sends her apologises and says she'd be blogging again soon.

Take care now,
Blue Cast Iron Pot

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Irritated at work

I wish I'm the sort of person who doesn't get affected by what happens at work, but I am.

I don't get as much affected by stress from the workload.. but there are people that one deals with at work that... to put in a nice way, I wouldn't want be friends with outside of work.

Unfortunately, the world is made up of all kinds of character and one just has to continue to deal with the less pleasant ones.

Today, I'm really irritated by some people at work. Brrrr! It's not easy indeed to deal with both difficult and volumous work AND nasty people!

Thankfully, this blog is an outlet for me to express my frustrations! Reading about the beautiful plants and flowers in the gardens of my fellow bloggers also make me feel that much better.

My own balcony has too either too hot.. or too wet to be a nice place to spend too much time in recently.

Nothing works like a glass of starfruit tea to cool one down! 
I wish I have a glass in front of me now!

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice

What I like most about Tian Tian - the rice!

Tian Tian sells one of the best Hainanese chicken rice in Singapore. There are many good chicken rice places in Singapore, but I think Tian Tian really nailed the rice. The original store is located at Maxwell Market. They open at around 11am and close by 7pm. For those who don't work near Maxwell Market, you have to time your visit properly or else join the long queues during weekends.

All that, plus the heat at Maxwell market, makes it too difficult for me to enjoy the chicken rice properly.

So it's rather good news for me now that they have a store at Joo Chiat! I've known it for quite a while, but haven't had the opportunity to try it out. The chicken rice is as good as the one at Maxwell market and the shop is air-conditioned. So this will be my preferred Tian Tian outlet.

They also work longer hours at this outlet - 10:30am to 9:30pm, Tuesday to Sunday.

Tian Tian Chicken Rice
443 Joo Chiat Road
Singapore 427656

The chicken is nice and succulent, like many good chicken rice places in SG

Sweet Potato leaves with sambal chilli - spicy and good

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Assam Prawns

This dish is easy to make.

Assam, or tamarind, is an ingredient used in many Peranakan dishes, such as Prawns in Pineapple Gravy and Mee Siam. Tamarind is a long-lived, medium-growth, bushy tree. The fruit grows on trees dangling down in a long and hard outer covering (shell) brown in colour. When it is ripe, it is a little mushy (with pits) and is normally dried in the sun before kept for use in cooking. Assam is sweet and sour in taste, and is high in acid, sugar, B vitamins and calcium.

1/2 kg prawns
1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind pulp (assam)
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil

What I did
1. Mix the tamarind pulp with water
2. Add in the sugar and salt
3. Marinate the prawns with the above tamarind mixture and marinate the prawns for 15 minutes
4. Heat a wok until very hot and add in the oil
5. Drop the prawns in and fry until the prawns are slightly burnt
6. Add in some sliced chilli and spring onions, if desired

This dish is pretty nice but I'd add in a more sugar and a light dash of dark soy sauce next time.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Open Kitchen Concept Design - Part 1

My kitchen ended up looking somewhat different from this.. but this was the initial drawing from our designer when he first drew up how our kitchen and dining area should look like after we told him what we wanted.

I wanted an island to separate the kitchen from the dining area. It would add table-top space to my small kitchen and provide me with additional storage place.

I also wanted a shelf by the side of the island to separate the kitchen wall from the huge mirror at the dining area.

I didn't want any hanging lights above the island table-top. Instead, I wanted a light above above the dining table.

He got a few other things wrong as well (The dining table, the decal on the mirror, the design of the cabinets).. but this was in essence how I wanted our open concept kitchen to be like - separated by an island and a shelf.

If I had a chance to redo my kitchen, I'd probably do it in a similar way.. never mind the small inconveniences of not being able to deep fry or cook strong smelling food in my kitchen.

Recently, I've been looking at some designs of kitchens that I like. In my next post(s), I'd share more.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Simple Recipe for Homemade Achar

I love to eat achar with nasi lemak, or just plain rice.

Part of my plan for simple living is that ultimately when we retire one day, we'd be able make do with as little store bought things as possible. I plan to bake my own bread at home, make my own jam, pickles and basically make things from scratch when I can.

So I thought I had better start practising now.

This homemade achar is not difficult to make. The good thing about making your own achar is that you decide what you want to put in it. I like only 3 things in my achar - cucumber, carrots and pineapple, so I omitted any cauliflower, long beans and other vegetables I didn't like. I forgot that I used up all the pineapples the day before for my Prawns in Pineapple Gravy, so I didn't have that as well.

Here's the recipe:

2 cucumbers - Remove the seed part
2 carrots, peeled
1 red chilli
Half a pineapple (I forgot these)
Any other achar vegetables you like, like cabbage, long beans etc
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup ground peanuts

For the sauce:
2 tsp tumeric powder
1 garlic, finely grated
1 small piece of glangal, finely grated
1 small shallot, finely grated
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup boiled water
2 - 3 tbsp sugar
A good pinch of salt
Chilli paste, to taste (I used a homemade one by my grandmother)
1 tbsp of olive oil

What I did
1. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a pot and cook on low heat. After it has simmered for a couple of minutes, turn the fire off and let cool
2. Cut the cucumbers, rub salt all over and set aside for about 30 minutes. Drain away all the liquid and pat dry with a kitchen towel
3. Finely slice the carrots and soak in boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain and pat dry with kitchen towel
4. Cut the pineapple into bitesize pieces
5. Cut the red chilli into thin slices and remove the seeds
6. Mix everything together and then taste, adding more vinegar, sugar or salt as required

The achar is good to eat immediately but should taste better after a day or two.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Udang Masak Nenas (Prawns in Pineapple Gravy)

Inspired by my trip to Malacca, I decided to cook something Peranakan last evening.

Udang Masak Nenas means Prawns cooked in Pineapple. Some people translate this as Prawns in Pineapple Curry. I'd rather call this dish prawns in Pineapple Gravy because there isn't anything curry about this dish apart from the colour. The bright orange hue of the dish comes from the tumeric but there is no curry powder or curry leaves in this dish.
I learnt this dish - Prawns in Pineapple Gravy from A.

The dish turned out very well. As the rempah and assam stock was simmering away, I tasted it and was a little worried because it was rather sour, but the addition of the honey pineapples balanced the taste and I thought this dish was quite yummy. It was just a little sourish but very fragrant and goes well with a bowl of hot rice.

I had my parents over for dinner and everyone loved the dish. Next time, I'd peel the prawns before cooking since my dad doesn't like shelling them.

See recipe here. The only minor adjustments I made were that I added some candlenuts to make the rempah thicker and I omitted the belachan. Oh, and I added in a little less water so that I'd get a thicker gravy.

Strictly Pancakes

I didn't know that there is a cafe in Singapore that specialises in pancakes.

I love pancakes and one of my favourite places in Australia is Pancakes on the Rocks. Their Devil's Delight - a combination of chocolate pancakes, strawberries, cream and chocolate ice-cream is to die for.

Sadly, Pancakes on the Rocks doesn't have a presence in Singapore. (I just found out they now sell pancake mix - I wish that will come in to Singapore!)

Well, one has to make do with what one gets.

The pancakes at Strictly Pancake all come with maple syrup and a choice of flavoured butter (rum and raisin or mixed herbs, I think)

On weekends, the menu is limited to just the weekend specials. I opted for a sweet version with berries and custard. The Husband had a savoury version with omelette and mushrooms.

Strictly Pancakes isn't really bad. The pancakes are nice and pretty fluffy, albeit a tad chewy.

Savoury pancakes - with omelette and pan-fried mushrooms

Pancakes with strawberry and blueberries

I requested for rum-and-raisin butter to go with my pancakes

Strictly Pancakes
Add: 44A Prinsep Street
Website: http://www.strictlypancakes.com.sg/