Monday, March 26, 2012

Tom Yum Soup with Udon

It's been a while since I managed to leave work early to take conference calls from my home instead of staying in late at the office.

It's not easy to rush off at 530pm in the evening, rush home, prepare for dinner, take 2 calls in between and then cook dinner. But the reward of all that rush was that The Husband and I got to eat a nice home cooked dinner on a weekday night, which is quite a treat for both of us.

This Tom Yum Soup with Udon noodles is very easy to make. I cheated by using instant tom yum paste - but I tried to add lots of fresh, healthy ingredients into the soup - prawns, sliced fish, tomatoes, mushrooms, vegetables and lots of fresh coriander.

I also used those dried udon noodles and cooked them for 10 minutes in a separate pot, draining them with iced water before dunking them into the tom yum soup. I liked these dried udon noodles a lot better than those supposedly "fresh" ones from the frozen/ chilled section of the supermarket because I think you can control the doneness on these a lot better.

All it took was 10 minutes of preparation and 20 minutes to cook the soup and noodles. 

Did you manage to have a home-cooked dinner today?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ice blended Juices

I've been trying to eat more fruits in all forms - fresh, dried, juiced and cooked.

One of my favourite ways is to blend the fruits with ice in my Vitamix. This afternoon, I blended oranges with ice and treated myself to a very cold and pulpy orange juice.

It's nice to have a glass of fresh juice whilst reading, watching the rain from the comfort of my living room on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Korean Strawberries

Korean strawberries seem to be in season now. You can find them in almost all the supermarkets in Singapore. These are really reasonably priced strawberries. I even saw 4 punnets for $10 in a neighbourhood fruits store at Aljunied.

They do not look that sweet - a bit on the pale side and not as red and huge as the strawberries from the US.

But they are pretty sweet and I find the size just nice for popping into your mouth.

I have been having them with everything.

From yogurt and muesli for breakfast..

To fruit salads for lunch..

The Husband used these to make desserts..

And I've made many a delicious smoothie out of these pretty little things..

Korean strawberries are really quite good! The only strawberries I like much better are the ones I had in Japan - very small and very red, these are so sweet you'd stop to wonder if they are artificially sweetened.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ping Gai Chicken - a Laos Dish

I have never been to Toronto, nor have I ever been to Laos.

No, but this was just one of those recipes I had to try out because even reading the recipe made my mouth water.

Apparently, this dish (Ping Gai Chicken) is a dish from a restaurant called Queen Mother Cafe in Toronto. It's a barbequed chicken dish that supposedly hails from Laos. Ping Gai translates to grilled ("ping") chicken ("gai") in Laos, so calling it Ping Gai Chicken (ie Grilled Chicken Chicken) isn't strictly accurate.

But back to this recipe.

This particular recipe was enough to make my mouth water from reading it because it had everything I liked in chicken - garlic, lime juice, cilantro and barbequed.

I JUST had to try it.

Sadly, the chicken turned out good, as did the wonderful sauce.. but.. it wasn't fantastic and certainly looked nowhere near what I was expecting.

You can pretty much tell from the photo below.

And the main reason for this sad outcome was because my grill broke down when I started making this dish. I love this grill of mine - I use it for making paninis mainly, and grilled chicken wings. But it refused to work and I was forced to throw these well marinated chicken thighs into the oven. And because I had guests over, this delayed dinner for about 45 mins and the chicken did not get that lovely burnt skin.

Hence, instead of looking like this...

 Picture from this blog (I really like this blog, by the way)

It looked like this...

The chicken as it was marinating (left) and my end product (right)

You can imagine my disappointment.

But this recipe is definitely a keeper and I'd have to remember this for all future barbeques!

Recipe adapted from here

4-6 chicken thighs, deboned

1 bunch Fresh Cilantro
6 cloves Garlic
1 tbsp Black peppercorns
3 tbsp Oyster sauce
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil

Dipping Sauce
1 cup Water
1/2 cups Sugar
3 sprigs Fresh Cilantro
2 cloves Garlic
2 tbsp White Vinegar
1 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce
Instead of using Thai Chilli Sauce, I used 1 tbsp of Dried Thai chilli flakes

What I did and didn't do
Marinade: Blend all the ingredients with a handheld blender and process until finely chopped and well combined. The marinade should look pretty green.

Place chicken in shallow glass baking dish. Pour marinade over and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap. Marinate at least 1 hour or overnight in refrigerator.

Dipping sauce: Combine water and sugar in saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until dissolved. Continue cooking 10 minutes or until reduced and syrupy. Cool completely. Add to food processor with cilantro, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, chilli flakes and fish sauce. Process until smooth.

Preheat grill or BBQ and grill for 6- 8 minutes on each side.

If roasting in the oven, you will not get the wonderful black burnt bits. But if you prefer this anyway, preheat the oven to 200 deg C and roast for about 45mins, skin side up. You might want to brush the skin with a bit of oil to ensure it gets crispy at least.

I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top and then served with the dipping sauce.

By then, dinner was really quite delayed and I was too flustered to remember to take a photo of the dipping sauce.

I will be trying this out again and will hopefully have better pictures to post then.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Best Onion Rings at Relish

Relish by Wild Rocket serves the kind of onion rings I love.

Sweet onions coated with a thin layer of very crispy, well seasoned batter. The batter was so good, I could have just eaten it on its own and still loved it.

I had these onion rings along with a burger. The onion rings definitely stole the show. 

Apparently, if you order it on its own, these come with curry mayo which sounds really good too. In fact, I think flavoured mayo usually taste great.

Where do you go for your favourite onion rings? Or do you have a recipe for really fantastic onion rings?

Have a happy week ahead!

Relish @ MyVillage
Add: #02-07, 1 Maju Avenue (Serangoon Gardens)
Tel: 6634 3422

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mixed Berry Smoothie with Mint

On very hot weekend afternoons, when I don't have much of an appetite for any lunch, I find salads and smoothies most comforting.

Today is another one of those extra hot Sundays, so I decided to make a smoothie out of all the berries I have in the fridge. All I did was throw some ice, blueberries, strawberries, mint leaves and milk into my Vitamix and blend everything together. I supposed you could add some honey if you like your smoothie sweet but I found this good enough for me.

The mint leaves makes this smoothie really refreshing.

And I suppose it is indeed a very healthy lunch, especially since I had it with a couple of fresh strawberries and plums.

Such a refreshing smoothie! I love my Vitamix for this

Before and after

Chocolate Rum Balls

We lived next to my grandmother for a few years when I was younger. I was going to the kindergarten at that time and my grandmother would fetch me to school every morning and then pick me up from school in the afternoon.

I remember tagging along when she does her marketing before I went to school, and on some days, tagging along whilst she ran some errands in the afternoon.

Grandma used to sometimes buy me little bribes me to keep nice and obedient whilst I tagged alongside her. One certain days, it'd be a packet of drink, on others, it'd be a chocolate coin. My favourite was when she would let me choose a little treat from the confectionery shop. I would always choose a little cake shaped like a little mouse. It was a dense chocolate cake covered in chocolate rice, with almonds for its ears and cream/ chocolate for the eyes.

A couple of years later, the confectionery shop near our place stopped selling them in a form of a mouse and started selling them as regular, round rum balls.

Rum balls are still one of my favourite snacks after all these years. I even learnt how to make these little babies (leftover chocolate cake, heavy cream, chocolate and of course, rum). But it's always easier to buy these and there are a few shops out there that sell them just the way I like them - with a strong taste of nostalgia.

One of those shops is Le Cafe Confectionery & Pastry - the shop that also sells those famous golf-ball sized pineapple tarts and bean curd tarts. Their rum balls come coated with a layer of chocolate and are very dense indeed, with a slight hint of the rum.

Perfect with a cup of coffee or if you are not having any caffeine (like me), a hot drink of lemon, honey, ginger and lemongrass.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Quiet Morning

Our air-conditioner and water heater in the bathroom broke down over the weekend.

The air-conditioner in the living room started blinking quietly on Friday night and refused to work. We got someone to come look at it and it seems we have to replace an expensive part inside.

"It's probably best to just replace the entire unit since your compressor sounds like it might go next," advised our regular air-con man.

The water heater was a lot more dramatic.

Just as we were leaving our place for church on Sunday morning, I heard dripping sounds from our bathroom. Hot water was dripping (more like pouring actually) fast and furious down from the ceiling through the lights!

It took us by surprise and we spent some time figuring out how to turn off our water supply completely to stop the water. And then we managed to switch off the water supply in the bathroom.

Then it was a few hours before the repairman came to hoist down the entire heater unit from inside the false ceiling.

What a weekend.

After all that, it was good that I was on leave today so I could have a quiet Monday morning at home today.

A slice of banana cake and ice-cold milk is best on a morning like this.

How has your Monday been?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Japan - One year on

Today marks the first anniversary of the terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last year, followed by the nuclear crisis at Fukushima.

It's about 2 years since our last visit to Japan.

Coincidentally, our last trip was to the Tohoku region, north-eastern area of Japan, where the earthquake and tsunami hit.

It is sad that such a beautiful region should be hit by such tragedy.

It'd be some time before The Husband and I would be able to visit Japan again though.

Hopefully, by then, these places and their people would be well on their way in building a new future.

Beautiful sites from around the Tohoku region (North-east region of Japan)

Homemade Mee Hoon Kueh

Mee Hoon Kueh (面粉馃, or literally translated as Flour Cake) is a type of flat noodles, usually served with meat and vegetables in an anchovy-based soup. 

To me, authentic homemade Mee Hoon Kueh has to eggless and should be shaped/ pulled by hand. Today, you can easily find Mee Hoon Kueh in most food courts around Singapore, but they invariably make them with eggs in the dough and roll the noodles out using machines and then cut them out too neatly for my likely. 

Homemade Mee Hoon Kueh is a comfort food for me. The taste is rustic, simple, yet delicious. Somehow, my mum's version of Mee Hoon Kueh is the best I've ever tasted - the noodles are chewy yet smooth and the soup light and savoury soup, full of the taste of anchovies. She doesn't add too many ingredients in the soup - just fishball, some chicken and lots of vegetables. Mushrooms are usually left out because they tend to overpower the taste of anchovies.

My grandmother used to make them often when I was younger and she would usually give me a bit of the dough to make creations of my own. I'd usually make a bear or doll out of the dough and then play with my "Mee Hoon Kueh" toy for the rest of the evening.

Food with childhood memories are the best kind of comfort food.

My mum's Mee Hoon Kueh - yummy! I have to learn this from her..

Monday, March 5, 2012

Korean Crispy Chicken Wings

One of the best thing about my trip to New York last year, was that I chanced upon the best fried chicken wings I've ever had.

I came across this shop not too far away from Korean Town in New York, and brought back some spicy fried chicken wings back to my hotel for dinner.

The wings were so crispy and so spicy, I was addicted. I wasted no time to take photos but wolfed down the piping hot, freshly fried, spicy wings, licking my fingers long after the last wing. It was so good I made sure I had some again a couple of days later. They were more memorable than my visit to Brasserie Les Halles, the home base of Chef-at-large Anthony Bourdain.

I later found out that those Korean chicken wings - double fried and crispy with savoury or spicy sauce painted on them - were all the rage these days in New York. Read this article from The NY Times for more details.

Those were really really great fried wings. I don't think I miss anything else from New York as much.

So when I saw "4 Fingers Crispy Chicken" in Ion, touting to be Korean chicken wings from New York, I knew I had to try the place out.

I haven't been having a great appetite lately, so I was really glad I was in town the other day with a reasonable appetite to boot.

I ordered a set of mixed wings - soy & garlic and spicy flavoured wings. It came with some seaweed fries and soda.

The wings looked very good and resembled the ones I had in New York, although much smaller in size but hey, that was America and these are Asian chickens, right? I couldn't wait to eat them but had to really restrain myself to take a couple of pictures before digging in.

When I touched the wings though, I was so disappointed I thought I might just burst out in tears. It would be a first, in a fast food restaurant, for sure.

The wings weren't piping hot! OK, I don't need piping hot but they were just plain cold!

Surely, it is a sin to serve fried chicken wings to a customer cold. And I was one of the 2 customers they had in their store at 3pm on a weekday!

I was so overwhelmed by disappointment I couldn't finish those wings, as much as I wanted too. And the seaweed fries, whilst quite unique, were cold too.

It's really a pity because those wings did pass the taste test - the spicy ones were especially good.. and they were indeed very crispy.

But they were C.O.L.D.

It'd be some time before I get over my disappointment and dare visit this place again.

4 Fingers Crispy Chicken
#B4-06A ION Orchard
Tel: +65 1800-4274-779

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mad about Waffles

I have this thing about waffles.

I love to eat them.

I've tried lots of waffles around, and sadly, most waffles are just not up to mark, according to me anyway.

My favourite waffles so far are the ones from Wimbly Lu.

Of course, I still think that the ones from the fast food chain A&W are a lot better (a lot more more crispy and I think soft cream goes better with waffles than ice-cream), but you can't get them in Singapore, so Wimby Lu's ones are good enough.

When it comes to gourmet waffles, I really miss the ones in the Melange Cafe in Taipei. This cafe makes really good waffles with custard cream, fresh strawberries and strawberry jam on the side.

The following pictures are some of the waffles I've eaten over the past few months. I'm still on the look out for good waffles in Singapore.

Where do you think sell the best waffles in Singapore?

Waffles from A&W

Waffles from Coffee Bean at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

Waffles we had in a random shop in Bali - good but a little too cake-ish

Belgium waffles with ricotta cheese and cherries on SQ flight to London

Waffles with chocolate ice-cream at the Wimbly Lu. I prefer the plain version with 
maple syrup at Wimbly Lu since I find the homemade ice-cream too thick and creamy

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wild Honey at Scotts Square

I met up with a few friends this morning for brunch. This group of friends are mostly fellow bloggers - owners of blogs that I read on a very regular basis. Except L who doesn't blog but then she reads all 3 of our blogs.

I was really glad we ended up going to Wild Honey at Scotts Square. I've always wanted to try out this place. A lot of my friends have raved about it, but the long queues at Wild Honey at Mandarin Gallery... I just don't think I could queue an hour for breakfast... You could make a reservation at this new outlet at Scotts Square. I was rather glad I did even though we were meeting on a weekday morning, because I noticed the restaurant got pretty packed quickly.

The restaurant was beautiful, yet cozy and homely. I feel like I could stay for half a day pretty comfortably.

The menu was also beautiful. I'm not sure if it is because of the menu, or just because of the words "all day breakfast". There's just something about "all day breakfast" that makes you think about off days, weekends, holidays and other leisurely days.

We all ordered slightly different dishes so we could have a little bit of everything.

Petunia and Ting had the Tunisian - which came in a little pan, with fried eggs, chorizo and a spicy soup-like sauce. The wonderful thick slices of brioche soaked up the sauce and soft egg yolks very well, I think.

The Tunisian - love that brioche, yum!

L had the Mexican, which was a wrap with scrambled eggs, black beans and other wonderful stuff in it. I am pretty adverse to the smell of peppers recently, but it still tasted really great to me. The salsa that came with it was really delicious too.

The Mexican

I ordered the Canadian, which came with picture-perfect pancakes with maple syrup and homemade jam, as well as some beautiful looking bacon. I thought the pancakes looked way better than they tasted, but I really loved the jam that came with it and am really inspired to make some of my own jam afterwards. The bacon was surprising good too. And from someone who does not fancy pork, I think it's probably better than good.

The Canadian - love that jam

These pancakes look quite perfect.. but sadly, they were e a little too chewy and hard for me. 
McDonalds hotcakes are still my favourite!

I always enjoy my outings with this group of friends.. and already, I'm looking forward to the next one. See you all again very soon!

The cozy restaurant was pretty yet comfortable

The Mocha at Wild Honey came with milk and honey.. it looked so good

This Wild Iced Tea looked really ordinary, but I thought it was quite delicious and thirst quenching.
It was a blend of a few teas - chamomile, hibiscus and something I don't remember..

The cappuccino looked with the cocoa dust on top

Wild Honey
6 Scotts Road
Scotts Square Level 3
Tel: +65 6636 1816