21 June 2018

Guay Tiew Reua Thai Boat Noodles

Boat noodles is a very popular street food in Thailand 🇹🇭 In fact, noodles is a very big part of the food culture. I learnt that all types of noodles (whether rice noodles, glass noodles, egg noodles), they are all called Guay Tiew (same pronunciation) unlike in SG where Kuay Tiao means thick rice noodles. I still remember when I ordered my very first bowl of Guay Tiew, thinking that it's thick rice noodles, the hawker gave me "Sen Lek" which is very thin and slightly chewy. Sen Lek is somewhat like the default type of noodle hawkers would serve if you don't specify, or some stalls just serve "Sen Lek" only. Anyways, there's a whole lot of jargon to learn about ordering noodles, such as the type of noodles, soup or dry, type of broth, and we're not even talking about the fried ones. Well, I guess the same goes for SG where we have so many type of noodles as well.

I digress.

Anyways, Guay Tiew means noodles and Reua means Boat, so literally translates to Boat Noodles, I think because it's traditionally cooked and served on a boat, and hence the name. I love Boat Noodles as the broth is very aromatic and flavourful, plus I get to eat pig's blood which is no longer available in SG. I used to enjoy pig's organ soup during my teens because of the pig's blood. LOL! Nowadays, friends around my age who loves pig's blood still talk about it fondly and I guess we could only satisfy our craving or rather, relive the fond memories in Hong Kong or Thailand.

I digress again.

Back to the Thai Boat Noodles. And so, the very authentic stalls would use the liquid from pig's blood to thicken and flavour the soup broth  but sometimes they can be a little overwhelming on the palate. Some hawker stalls may also add MSG to the broth making the soup a tad too salty for my liking. That got me to think whether it's feasible to make the noodles soup at home. After searching on the internet for recipes, I found there are many variations to making the broth; some use beef bones and some use pork bones and different aromatics are used to season the soup. I decided to adapt from Hot Thai Kitchen's recipe as I find her youtube videos very informative and recipes easy to pick up.


Have tried cooking this a few times already, and I must say I love how my Boat Noodles turned out. So as mentioned, the broth is a key component, and homemade is even better because no MSG is added.

The recipe by Hot Thai Kitchen is such that the pig's blood is optional, that is it's not necessary to use the liquid to thicken the soup. The broth is already very aromatic and flavourful as it is. Trust me my soup tasted equally nice without the pig’s blood :p.

To serve, besides noodles of your choice, I included ingredients such as fishball, fishcake, marinated pork slices, bean sprouts and water spinach (kang kong), along with condiments like cilantro, spring onion, Thai basil, fried shallot & garlic, and finally a chilli vinegar dipping sauce.


Let's start with the soup broth preparation, which I usually cook one day in advance and let the flavours develop overnight.

Soup Broth
(makes 8 servings)

Ingredients

  • 4 pcs pork bones (about 950g)
  • 4 pcs chicken leg bones (optional, I use because I happen to have them)
  • 1 pc onion
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, lower white portion only
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 10 slices galangal
  • 1 pc star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 pc cilantro roots
  • 2 pc pandan leaves
  • 9 cups water
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Golden Mountain thai soy sauce (if don't have, just use light soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp tao jiew (yellow soy bean paste)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 15g rock sugar
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • Sea salt, to taste (I didn't add)

Steps

  1. Blanch the pork and chicken bones to get rid of blood and dirt. Rinse and place them in a large stock pot. 
  2. Add onion, lemongrass, coriander seeds, garlic, galangal, star anise, cinnamon, cilantro roots, pandan leaves, water and chicken stock. Bring the pot of stock to boil then lower heat, cover and let it simmer for 2hrs. Use a fine sieve to remove any scums that float to the top of the stock from time to time.
  3. After 2hrs, add the seasonings - soy sauce, dark soy sauce, tao jiew, white vinegar, rock sugar and white pepper and simmer for another 1 hr. 
  4. After 1hr, taste the soup and add sea salt if required.
  5. Leave the soup stock in the pot overnight. *if stock is prepared early in the day, at night bring it to boil first, off heat and cover.
  6. The next day, strain and discard the ingredients. Boil the soup broth again and it's ready to use.



Now that the soup broth is ready, it's time to cook Boat Noodles!

Personally I prefer Sen Yai which is thick rice noodles like the hor fun we have in SG, my son likes Sen Yai as well, but a thinner version of it. As for the HB, he likes Sen Lek which is the thin noodles which is slightly chewy (not glass noodles). Luckily I can get all these at one hawker stall at the wet market I frequent.

Typical ingredients include marinated pork slices, fishball, fishcake, pig's blood (optional), bean sprout, water spinach (kang kong).

To serve, I have two separate pots, one is the soup broth and the other is water to cook the noodles and vegetables.

(1) Bring the soup broth to boil and cook the fishball, fishcake, marinated pork and pig's blood.
(2) Bring the other pot of water to boil, blanch the bean sprouts, water spinach till just cooked, drain and place them in individual bowls. Next cook the noodles briefly till just cooked, drain and add them on top of the vegetables.
(3) Scoop the fishball, fishcake, pork and pig's blood from the soup broth and arrange on the top of the noodles.
(4) Finally, scoop the soup broth into the bowl of noodles till the soup just cover the ingredients. Best serve hot!

Not forgetting condiments, the noodles are typically served with cilantro, spring onion, fried garlic, fried shallot, Thai basil and not forgetting, chilli vinegar dipping sauce which will add much kick to the Boat Noodles!

Chilli Vinegar Dipping Sauce - blend all the ingredients together. Start with minimal amount of chilli and add more according to preference.

  • 1-2 red chilli and thai chilli, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar




    Look at my bowl of noodles loaded with ingredients. LOL! That's the beauty of home cooked dishes. I think I cannot be a noodle seller; there's too much preparation work involved and I load my noodle soup with too much ingredients!

    Usually I will make a large pot of soup broth and eat it for a few meals (mainly because the ingredients are sold in large quantity and cannot use up within one meal). LOL! Anyway we don't mind since we enjoy this noodle soup a lot. Aroi Mak Mak!

    15 June 2018

    Bak Chang 肉粽 ~ Glutinous Rice Dumpling

    The Chinese Duan Wu Festival (端午节)or commonly known as Dragon Boat Festival is upcoming next Monday! There's a story behind how this festival came about (to commemorate a patriotic poet/exiled official by the name of Qu Yuan in the warring states period of China (just google to find out more).

    In Singapore, the festival is typically celebrated with dragon boat race and eating Bak Chang aka glutinous rice dumplings (it could be more elaborate in China). Nowadays, many people have long forgotten about the significance of this festival and affectionately call this day Rice Dumpling Day without knowing the true meaning behind it.

    My knowledge of rice dumpling is very limited, I only know a few variations or flavours, such as Hokkien savoury rice dumpling which typically includes pork belly, mushroom, dried shrimp and chestnut; Nyonya sweet rice dumpling which includes minced pork and candied winter melon; Kee Chang or Alkaline rice dumpling which is basically tasteless and eaten with coconut palm sugar syrup. These days, there are of course more flavours and additional ingredients such as salted egg yolk, abalone, scallop and sweet ones with red beans etc etc.


    My mum learnt to wrap the Hokkien-style bak chang from my paternal grandmother and auntie, and from there she adapted her own taste for the ingredients and texture of the glutinous rice. My mum's bak chang is lighter on the palate; the glutinous rice is softer in texture and less salty so I can still taste the aroma from the bamboo leaf. Each ingredient is pre-cooked separately so each has its own flavour/aroma yet complement one another in the dumpling.

    That said, every household has their own recipes and personal flavours but since young I grew up with my mum's bak chang so I'm very used to this particular taste and texture. So much so that I'm quite picky when it comes to bak chang. Usually commercial ones don't impress me much as they tend to be overwhelming in taste and heavy on the palate. I like my bak chang small, less seasonings, less rice and more ingredients.

    Anyways, all these years I have not bothered to learn how to make bak chang as my mum would wrap a few dozens for giveaways. However she has stopped in the recent years. So I reckoned I ought to pick up the skill from her, else this heritage cuisine might be lost in my family! Haha. Sounds so serious.

    So last year during the Duan Wu Festival period, I asked my mum to teach me how to make bak chang from scratch. She already prepared most of the ingredients, and showed me how to fry the glutinous rice and wrap the bak chang the proper way. As with folks of her generation, everything was done with estimation, so I simply asked her for the ingredients and method and try to figure out the quantity on another day. Frankly cooking is the easier part, the tough part is the wrapping and I'm lousy at wrapping! I remembered I took like 10 mins to wrap one bak chang, as I was trying to figure out how to shape and secure it properly. I even asked my mum to buy a full set of ingredients for me to practise (and figure out the recipes). As usual I procrastinated till late November (before my shift to Thailand) and I think I only wrapped 18 pieces, and some of the bak chang turned out quite ugly. But at least I figured out the quantity of ingredients and noted the proper steps.


    Few weeks ago I was back in SG and the shops were beginning to sell bak chang materials/ingredients, just the right time! Ok, yep I brought back the key stuff and did my wrapping two days ago! My second solo attempt in wrapping bak chang \(".)/

    My target this time is 3 dozens as I intend to gift them to my girlfriends here (if the bak chang turns out good). Preparation work started on Tuesday night, where I soaked some of the ingredients first. Spent Wednesday morning pre-cooking all the ingredients and finally started wrapping and cooking in the afternoon. By the time I completed 30 pieces of bak chang, it was evening. Underestimated the quantity of glutinous rice and I still had some leftover ingredients. Was in a dilemma whether to prepare an additional batch of glutinous rice as I was very tired already and my kitchen was like a war zone. In the end, I decided to push ahead and made another 9 pieces. So it's literally a full day's work and I managed to wrap 39 pieces of bak chang in total!

    I'm quite happy with my attempt this time, most of the bak chang turn out well and resemble the triangular shapes. LOL! However, I was a little inconsistent, the first batch had slightly more rice than ingredients and as I progressed, managed to adjust such that there were more ingredients or at least balanced amount.


    Here are the key ingredients for bak chang.

    Dried mushroom (Japanese shiitake) - I bought the smaller ones (from SG) so that I can wrap the whole piece in each dumpling without cutting. Wash and soak them overnight.

    Dried shrimp - These were bought from Laem Chabang, a coastal port north of Pattaya. I chose the large ones to have more bite. Wash and soak in hot water for 15-20 mins.

    Pork belly - I bought them from the supermarket here, they came in long strips of about 1.5 inches width. Remove the skin (else too tough) and bones (if any). Cook the strips in a broth water (recipe below) till just cooked (able to poke through meat with chopsticks), remove and cut into bite-size pieces. *Strain and reserve the broth water for later use.

    Dried chestnut - These were bought in whole pieces from SG, imported from Italy. My mum bought Canadian ones last year but I couldn't find. Boil the dried chestnut and soak overnight, the next day remove the tough brownish membrane bits from the chestnut.

    Glutinous rice - If possible buy a special breed called Rat Tooth (鼠牙)only available during this period. It's more refined and softer in texture. Otherwise, any good grade of glutinous rice is fine. Wash and soak for 2-3hrs.


    Pre-cooking for the ingredients (detail recipes below):

    Pork belly - stir-fry the pork belly pieces with shallot oil, five-spice powder, coriander powder, white pepper, salt and broth, till fragrant.

    Dried chestnut - braise the chestnut in broth water (used to cook pork belly strips) till soft (not mushy).

    Dried mushroom - Stir-fry the mushroom with shallot oil, coriander powder, five spice powder, pepper, dark soy sauce, sugar and salt and braise in broth water.

    Dried shrimp - Stir-fry the shrimp in shallot oil, coriander powder and white pepper till fragrant.

    Glutinous rice - stir-fry the rice in shallot oil, season with salt, white pepper and dar soy sauce (for colour), to taste. Fry till fragrant and slightly sticky.

    Bamboo leaf and string - wash and soak in water till ready to use. Choose the mid-size ones, trim edges if necessary.

    Once the mise en place is done, the wrapping which is the tough part begins!

    Here are three videos I took last year, my mum giving tutorial on how to wrap the bak chang. They are now my previous go-to guide!






    Bak Chang 肉粽 ~ Glutinous Rice Dumpling
    (makes around 39-40 pieces)

    (A) Pork Belly

    • 6 strips pork belly (about 880g after removing skin & some fats, 1.5 inches in width)
    • Broth water: 5 cloves garlic, 1 spring onion, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1.25L water
    • Seasonings: 2 tbsp shallot oil, 1/2 tsp five spice powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/4 tsp white pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 8 tbsp broth water
    1. Wash the pork belly, remove skin and bottom bone layer (if any).
    2. Place pork belly into a pot, add the broth water ingredients, bring to boil and cook till chopstick is able to go through the meat (just cooked).
    3. Remove from broth water and cut the pork into bite-size pieces (about 45 pcs)
    4. Strain the broth water and set aside for use later.
    5. In a frying pan, add shallot oil and stir-fry the pork bites till slightly browned. Add five spice powder, coriander powder, white pepper and salt and stir till well-mixed. Add broth water and simmer for 5 mins. Dish and set aside.

    (B) Chestnut 

    • 250g dried chestnut (around 45 pcs)
    • 2 cups broth water (from cooking the pork belly)
    1. Wash and place chestnut into a small pot. Add enough water to cover more than 1 inch of the chestnut. Bring the water to boil. Off heat, cover and let the chestnut soak overnight.
    2. The next day, remove the tough bits of brownish membrane in the chestnut.
    3. Place the chestnut in a small pot, add broth water and cook till the chestnut turns soft (not too soft). Dish and set aside.
    (C) Dried Shrimp
    • 70g dried shrimp (around 90 pcs)
    • Seasonings: 2 tsp shallot oil, pinch of coriander powder and white pepper
    1. Wash the dried shrimp a few times. Soak in hot water for 15-20 mins. Clean throughly and drain.
    2. In a frying pan, add shallot oil and stir-fry the shrimp with the coriander powder and white pepper till fragrant. Dish and set aside.
    (D) Mushroom
    • 45pcs dried mushroom
    • Seasonings: 1 tbsp shallot oil, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp five-spice powder, 1/4 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp dark soy sauce, 1 cup broth water
    1. Wash and soak mushroom in water overnight.
    2. The next day, drain water and squeeze dry the mushroom slightly.
    3. In a pot, add shallot oil and stir-fry the mushroom with the seasonings till fragrant. Add broth water and braise for 15 mins (or liquid almost becomes dry). Dish and set aside.

    (E) Glutinous Rice

    • 1.85kg glutinous rice
    • Seasonings: 10 tbsp shallot oil, salt, white pepper, dark soy sauce (to taste)
    1. Wash and soak the rice for 2-3 hrs. Drain.
    2. In a large wok or frying pan, add shallot oil and drained rice. Stir-fry till rice is shiny and coated with oil. Season with salt, white pepper and dark soy sauce. Stir-fry till seasonings well-mixed and rice is slightly sticky.
    3. ***Salt and pepper is to taste (take a few grains of rice to try, I added around 5-6 tsp of salt). Dark soy sauce is for colour, add tsp by tsp till desired colour tone. My wok is not big enough, I had to fry in 2-3 batches. After frying the batches, I mix all the rice together in an extra large mixing bowl and mix them well. Set aside.
    (F) Bamboo leaf and string
    • 90-100 pcs bamboo leaves
    • 40-50 string (not sure what string they are, they come together in the pack, maybe banana string)
    1. Wash and soak the bamboo leaves and string till ready to use.
    2. Tie the string in bundles of 10 for easy counting and cooking. Hang the bundle using hook at height level for ease of tying the bak chang.
    Assembly and cooking
    1. Take 2 bamboo leaves, place them opposite sides of each other.
    2. Twist the leaves to become a "cup". Add about 1 tbsp of glutinous rice into the cup, add pork, mushroom, dried shrimp and chestnut. Add another 1+ tbsp of glutinous rice to cover the ingredients, drizzle 1-2 tsp of chestnut water.
    3. Wrap up the rice dumpling and securely it tightly using the string. 
    4. Once 10 pieces of dumping per bundle is completed, they can be sent for cooking. To cook, add  water to a large pot (around 2/3 depth), bring to boil and add 1 tbsp of salt. Lower the bundle of dumplings into the pot and boil on medium heat for about 1 hour (make sure the water covers all the rice dumplings). Once done remove from water and hang to cool slightly (optional) before eating.
    5. *** My cooking pot is small, can only boil 10 pieces of dumplings at one time. For bigger pots, may be able to cook larger quantity, but avoid overcrowding the pot to ensure dumplings are properly cooked.
    6. *** Rice dumplings are best eaten warm. Steam for 10-15 mins before eating. They can be stored in freezer for up to 1 month or fridge for a week. Thaw before steaming.
    *Shallot Oil
    Shallot oil is a key ingredient in bak chang making. It's available at supermarkets but quite easy to prepare at home. 
    • 150g shallot, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup cooking oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    1. Add cooking oil and salt to small pot on medium low heat, add sliced shallots and fry till shallot turns golden brown. Watch closely towards the last few minutes as the shallots can get burnt easily.
    2. Drain and set aside oil for use. For the crispy shallot, it can be enjoyed as a condiment for stir-fried vegetables, fried rice, noodles etc etc.


    My very first batch of bak chang fresh from the pot two days ago. Quite pleased that they turned out reasonably well =D


    Gifted half of the bak chang to my girlfriends and they loved it! The hb and I have also been having bak chang for breakfast for the past two days. LOL! The rest are kept in the freezer and we will eat them whenever there's a craving!

    Overall, really happy with how my bak chang turns out, most of them look reasonably nice =D Although it's a lot of hard work and effort involved, the satisfaction is immense. Hopefully I will be able to practise making bak chang at least once a year! Or maybe next year I should learn to make Nyonya Chang?

    03 June 2018

    Thai-Themed Meal: Tod Mun Pla (Thai Fish Cake), Khao Pad Sapparod (Pineapple Fried Rice), Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)

    [ Collaboration with Borges Singapore and Singapore Home Cooks ]
    Dish 1 - Braised Chicken with Bamboo Shoot & Mushroom
    Dish 2 - Thai-themed ~ Tod Mun Pla (Thai Fish Cake) and Khao Pad Sapparod (Pineapple Fried Rice)

    As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been using olive oil and grapeseed oil for most of my cooking in the recent years, because they are healthier and boast of multiple health benefits. Many people have this misconception that olive oil and grapeseed oil can only be used for western cooking or drizzling on salad; however both oils are good for stir-frying and deep-frying as well! I usually alternate between the two types of oil for my cooking (as well as baking).

    Once again appreciate the opportunity given by Borges Singapore and Singapore Home Cooks to demonstrate the use of olive oil and grapeseed oil in our common daily Asian dishes :)

    For my second dish (or rather dishes), I'm going Thai since I'm currently residing in Thailand =D That said, many Singaporeans simply love Thailand as well as Thai food, judging from the frequent trips that I see on FB by friends and snaking queues at Thai eateries in Singapore. My family included :p

    I've been trying to cook more thai dishes, since I've access to more thai ingredients now. Today's dishes are Tod Mun Pla (Thai Fish Cake), Khao Pad Sapparod (Pineapple Fried Rice), Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad), all popular and quite easy to cook at home, and I'm using Borges Grapeseed oil to cook them (except for Som Tum which doesn't require oil).



    Some useful info about Grapeseed oil (source from Borges Singapore and Singapore Home Cooks):
    • Cholesterol Free. Contains vitamin E and A. 
    • Ideal for Wok, sautéing, frying and fondues.
    • Mild taste, light and nutty overstones that allows the flavours of other foods to shine through when used for frying and cooking.
    • Contains acid linoleic essential fats.
    • Low in saturated fats. No Trans Fat.
    • Carbohydrate and sodium free.
    • No added preservatives, flavourings or colorings.
    • With a smoke point 210-245ºC, it is ideal for stir-frying, fondues and deep-frying.
    The Grapeseed oil is unique by its polyunsaturated fatty acid concentration and natural antioxidants that contribute to regulating the free cholesterol presence and radicals in the body. Grapeseed oil has a relatively high smoke point approximately 420ºF (260ºC), so it can be safely used for stir-fries, sautéing and fondue. In addition to this smoking point, Grapeseed oil has other positive attributes in relation to cooking. It has a clean, light taste that can be described as “nutty”.


    Tod Mun Pla or Thai Fish Cake is a popular snack or appetiser which is very easy to make at home. Simply blend fish meat, red curry paste, egg yolk and sugar into a paste, add long beans, kaffir lime leaf and thai/holy basil, shape into a patty and pan-fry. Taste really good with sweet chilli dipping sauce. I make my own sweet chilli dipping sauce as well, so that I can adjust the sweetness and spiciness level. Mine is less sweet with more vinegar (for a more tangy taste).

    Tod Mun Pla (Thai Fish Cake)
    (makes about 18-20 pcs)

    Ingredients
    • 500g fish meat (choose more tender fish, I use dory and tilapia)
    • 2 tbsp red curry paste (storebought)
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 2 stalks long beans, cut into thin slices
    • 8 pcs kaffir lime leaves, cut very finely
    • Handful of thai basil or holy basil
    • Fish sauce (to taste, if necessary)
    • 10 tbsp Grapeseed Oil (Borges)
    Steps
    1. Cut fish meat into small pieces. Add the fish meat, red curry paste, egg yolk and sugar into a food processor or chopper and blend till a paste forms.
    2. Taste-test: Wet both hands and a teaspoon, scoop a spoonful of paste and form into a patty. Heat a frying pan with 1 tbsp of oil and pan-fry the patty till golden brown on both sides. Taste to see if salty or flavourful enough. I use store-bought red curry which is quite salty and flavourful. If not, add 1 tbsp more of red curry paste and/or 1 tsp of fish sauce to the fish paste.
    3. Once fish paste is ready, add long beans, kaffir lime leaves and basil, use a spatula to fold the ingredients till well-mixed.
    4. Heat frying pan with 10 tbsp of oil (my pan is 26cm) on medium high heat. Wet both hands and a tablespoon, scoop a spoonful of paste and form into a patty using the hands. Pan-fry the shaped patties in the frying pan till golden brown on both sides.
    5. Best serve hot with sweet chilli dipping sauce.

    Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

    Ingredients
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1 big red chilli
    • 3-4 thai chilli/chilli padi (to taste)
    • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp sugar (to taste)
    • 1/3 cup white or rice vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 3 tbsp water
    • Garnish: sliced shallot, cucumber and coriander
     Steps
    1. In an electric chopper or food processor, add garlic and both chilli and blend coarsely (bits are visible).
    2. Place blended garlic and chilli bits into a small pot, add sugar, vinegar, salt and water and bring to gentle boil over low heat. Taste and add more sugar or chilli if necessary.
    3. Stir till mixture turns syrupy and remove from heat. The mixture will thicken slightly more once cool down. 
    4. To serve, top with sliced shallot, cucumber and coriander.

    Pineapple fried rice is yet another favourite dish, as it has a tinge of sweetness from the pineapple (and raisins), aroma from curry powder, seafood freshness from the prawns and different textures from the rice and cashew nuts.






    Khao Pad Sapparod (Pineapple Fried Rice)
    (serves 4-5)

    Ingredients
    • 3-4 tbsp Grapeseed Oil (Borges)
    • 10 pcs prawns, deveined and sliced into half
    • 2 eggs
    • 530g cooked rice (preferably overnight)
    • 1 small onion, finely chopped
    • 10 pcs cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
    • 150g pineapple flesh, cut into small pieces
    • 60g cashew nuts, lightly toasted
    • 4 tsp thai soy sauce
    • 2 tsp fish sauce
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • pinch of salt
    • 1.5 tsp curry powder
    • 1/2 tsp white pepper
    • 4 stalks spring onion, finely chopped
    • Garnish: coriander, thai lime
    Steps
    1. Heat up a large deep frying pan or wok on medium high heat, add 2 tbsp of grapeseed oil and saute the sliced prawns till just cooked. Dish up and set aside.
    2. Add 1 tbsp of oil, add the eggs and scramble lightly. Once eggs are almost cooked, add the rice and toss to mix well with the eggs.
    3. Push the rice aside, add 1 tbsp of oil and saute the onion till slightly cooked (changes colour), then toss the onion with the rice.
    4. Add the seasonings and toss the rice to mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Mine is on lighter side.
    5. Add cooked prawns, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, cashews into the rice. Toss to mix well.
    6. Off heat and add spring onions and toss to mix well.
    7. Best serve hot (in pineapple bowl or plates).


    And finally Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)! This is such a refreshing salad that our family eats it so very often as it's crunchy and appetising with different textures and taste. Many times the HB would tabao from the evening market on his way back from work. It's convenient to buy from street stalls as you can find it everywhere, but the thing is sometimes they are too spicy and sweet for my palate. Of course the advantage of homemade is, you can adjust the taste to suit your own tastebud.

    The below recipe is on the lighter side, feel free to adjust the seasonings. As my mortar and pestle is  small and I don't have a big proper som tum mortar, I make my som tum in my own steps by batches, which is not the authentic way of preparing it. Please google or check youtube videos on how it's done properly.

    Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)
    (serves 4)

    Ingredients
    • 200g julienned green papaya (I use a slicer tool to slice the papaya into thin strips)
    • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 2 stalks long beans, cut into 1cm pieces
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 3-4 thai chilli, add more to taste
    • 2 tbsp fish sauce, add more to taste
    • 1-2 tbsp palm sugar, add more to taste
    • Juice from 1 thai lime, add more to taste
    • 3 tsp tamarind juice, add more to taste
    • 3 tbsp raw skinless peanuts, toasted till slightly browned
    • 1 tbsp tiny dried shrimps, lightly toasted
    1. Soak the julienned green papaya in iced water for 10 mins. After 10 mins, dry using salad spinner or kitchen towel.
    2. Add the green papaya into a large mixing bowl, use a pestle to lightly pound/crush the papaya strips.
    3. Add cherry tomatoes and long beans into the mixing bowl and lightly pound/crush them using the pestle.
    4. Add the tiny dried shrimps into the salad.
    5. Add the peanuts into the stone mortar, lightly crush the peanuts into halves or smaller pieces. Add the peanut pieces into the salad.
    6. In the same stone mortar, pound the garlic and chilli till a coarse paste. Add fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice and tamarind juice. Lightly pound and stir till the palm sugar is melted.
    7. Pour the sauce from the mortar into the mixing bowl, toss everything together till well-mixed. 
    8. Taste the salad and adjust taste to preference.
    9. The salad tastes best freshly prepared.

    Hope everyone enjoys these thai dishes! I'll try to post more thai recipes in time to come (if I have the time!). Stay tuned :)

    LAST CALL for Borges Giveaway!
    Want the best from the Mediterranean? We are giving away three sets of Borges Gift Basket worth $60 at http://bit.ly/2INmCz4 

    Be sure to check it out!
    #BorgesRecipes

    01 June 2018

    Braised Chicken with Bamboo Shoot & Mushroom

    [ Collaboration with Borges Singapore and Singapore Home Cooks ]
    Dish 1 - Braised Chicken with Bamboo Shoot & Mushroom
    Dish 2 - Thai-themed ~ Tod Mun Pla (Thai Fish Cake) and Khao Pad Sapparod (Pineapple Fried Rice)

    In the recent years, I've switched to using olive oil and grapeseed oil for most of my cooking, because they are healthier and boast of multiple health benefits. Many people have this misconception that olive oil and grapeseed oil can only be used for western cooking or drizzling on salad; however both oils are good for stir-frying and deep-frying as well!

    Really pleased and honoured to be partnering with Borges Singapore and Singapore Home Cooks to demonstrate the use of olive oil and grapeseed oil in our common daily Asian dishes :)

    For my first dish, I'm using the Borges Classic Olive Oil to cook this simple but wholesome one-pot meal, Braised Chicken with Bamboo Shoot & Mushroom. I believe most chinese families would have our own rendition of this classic chicken stew at home, as it's like a comfort and homey dish to many of us.


    Olive oil is considered as the healthiest fat due to its high content in oleic acid. For the Borges Classic Olive Oil, it is a blend of quality refined olive oil and a high quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Due to its less accentuated flavor and aroma, it is the most suitable oil for frying, braising and for vegetable and meat stews. 

    Some useful information about using olive oil in the kitchen (source from Borges Singapore and Singapore Home Cooks):
    1. Whether fried, boiled or roasted, any food should be cooked at low heat. The temperature should never exceed 200ºC so that the olive oil does not deteriorate.
    2. The best temperature to fry green vegetables and fish is between 155 and 160ºC. For other foodstuffs, between 175 and 185ºC. Never exceed 210ºC, as olive oil starts to burn beyond this temperature.
    3. If the recommended temperature is respected, olive oil hardly penetrated the food, does not increase its calorific value and maintains its nutritional qualities.
    4. Filtering olive oil after frying allows to be re-used 4 times.


    Braised Chicken with Bamboo Shoot & Mushroom
    (served 4-5)

    Ingredients
    • 1.2kg chicken meat, chopped into pieces
    • 12pcs dried mushroom, soaked in water to re-hydrate
    • 200g bamboo shoot, sliced
    • 6 stalks spring onion, lower portion only
    • 5 slices ginger, sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
    • 5 tbsp Classic Olive Oil (Borges)
    • 1/2 cup mushroom water (used to soak the mushroom)
    • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
    • Corn starch slurry (1 tsp corn starch + 2 tsp water) 
    • Garnish: spring onion, chilli, coriander
    Marinate
    • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp hua tiao cooking wine
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tbsp corn starch
    • 1/4 tsp white pepper
    Steps
    1. Marinate the chicken pieces with oyster sauce, soy sauce, hua tiao cooking wine, sesame oil, corn starch and white pepper for 3-4hrs.
    2. Heat a cooking pot to medium high heat, add olive oil and saute spring onion, ginger and garlic till fragrant.
    3. Add the marinated chicken pieces and stir-fry till slightly browned.
    4. Add the mushroom and bamboo shoot, and stir-fry with the chicken for a minute.
    5. Add the mushroom water and bring the mixture to boil.
    6. Turn heat to low and let the chicken simmer for about 20-25 mins.
    7. Add dark soy sauce to the braised chicken for some colour and corn starch slurry to thicken sauce slightly. (add sea salt to taste if desired, I didn't add as I find the sauce flavourful enough from the marinate).
    8. Garnish and serve hot with rice.


    This pot of wholesome goodness smells so aromatic when I'm cooking it, even my mum who's with me exclaimed that the aroma is tantalising. And indeed, the sauce is heavenly and goes so well with rice! Couldn't resist second helping :d~~~

    Do give this simple one-pot dish a try with Borges Classic Olive Oil :)

    Want the best from the Mediterranean? We are giving away three sets of Borges Gift Basket worth $60 at http://bit.ly/2INmCz4 

    Be sure to check it out!
    #BorgesRecipes

    20 April 2018

    Greek Yogurt Marble Butter Cake

    I haven't been attempting much new bakes recently, choosing to stick to the same old trusted recipes again and again. I blame it on the weather which is crazily hot and most days I'm simply brain dead from the heat! Also don't have the mood to do any food styling or photography :(

    I digress.

    But when I saw an IG post by HoneyBeeSweets.sg on a Greek Yogurt Bundt Cake that she baked few days ago, I simply couldn't resist trying it out. Actually it was because I have a tub of Greek Yogurt that's near expiry :p

    I have mentioned before that I'm not a fan of butter cakes nor pound cakes as they are more dense and dry in texture. Surprisingly this cake was not as dense or heavy as the usual butter cake and it was quite moist, probably due to the addition of greek yogurt in the batter. The chocolate paste added a contrasting taste to the butter cake which I like.

    Was supposed to wait till the next day for the buttery flavour to develop but I couldn't resist taking slice after slice when the cake barely cooled down. Enjoyed more slices with a hot cup of tea for breakfast again. #fatdieme. Baked two loaves and gifted the remaining, as I've already satisfied by my cravings :)

    This recipe is certainly a keeper! 


    Greek Yogurt Marble Butter Cake
    (makes 2 loaves using 7x24cm rectangle cake pan, or 18cmx18cm square cake pan, or 20cm round cake pan)
    • 15g cocoa powder
    • 30g hot water
    • 3 tbsp fresh milk + 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 225g Greek yogurt
    • 400g cake flour
    • 1.5 tsp baking powder
    • 0.5 tsp baking soda
    • 0.5 tsp fine sea salt
    • 200g unsalted butter
    • 200g caster sugar
    • 3 eggs (65g egg with shell)
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    1. Line the cake pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 170 degree celsius, top & bottom heat.
    2. Mix cocoa powder with hot water, stir till a smooth chocolate paste. Set aside.
    3. Add lemon juice to fresh milk, mix and let the mixture curdle, about 5 mins. Then add the mixture into the greek yogurt. Mix well and set aside.
    4. Sift cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and fine salt into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
    5. Cream butter and caster sugar using paddle attachment of electric mixer on medium high speed, till light and fluffy for about 5 mins.
    6. Turn speed of mixer to low, add the eggs, one at a time, switch to medium speed and beat till well-incorporated.
    7. Add vanilla extract and mix well.
    8. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the yogurt mixture.
    9. Scoop about 1/3 cup of batter and mix well with the chocolate paste to form a chocolate batter.
    10. Fill the cake pan with main batter till 1/3 height, add dollops of chocolate batter and swirl the chocolate batter into main batter using a toothpick or cake tester. Add more batter till the next 1/3 height, add dollops of chocolate batter and swirl the chocolate batter into main batter. Finally fill the cake pan with the remaining main batter, add the remaining chocolate batter and swirl into the main batter.
    11. Bake the marble cake batter for about 50 mins at 170 degree celsius. 
    12. Once baked, remove from oven and let the cake cool down completely before unmoulding. 
    13. Store the cake in an airtight container, the cake tastes better the next day.

    01 April 2018

    Butterfly Pea Flower Nasi Lemak

    It's been more than three months since my family relocated to Chonburi, Thailand. Although I mentioned that I would resume my blogging once we settle down, the truth is, I've been procrastinating. Yes, I have visited some interesting places, dined at some lovely cafes and restaurants and been cooking a lot, but simply couldn't find the mojo to write. I really have a lot of backlogs. Urgh.

    So yes, I'm forcing myself to kickstart with this piece! Initially thought of starting with a Thai recipe since I've been cooking more Thai food, but on the other hand, I've also been cooking SG local dishes due to our cravings :p

    Frankly this is my first time cooking a whole set of Nasi Lemak from scratch. In SG it's simply too convenient and relatively easy to find reasonably good Nasi Lemak; plus I'm lazy lah! But now that we are away and it's not readily available anymore, I start to miss it.

    My Nasi Lemak set consists of Butterfly Pea Flower Coconut Rice, Tumeric Chicken Wings, Nyonya Achar, Tempe, Sweet Sambal Chilli, Ikan Bilis with Peanuts as well as hardboiled egg. I separated the process into different days so that it's not too rush. Spent a day making the Nyonya Achar, another making the Sweet Sambal Chilli and marinate for chicken wings and finally ready to cook the rice, fry the wings, assemble and eat!



    How does my Nasi Lemak set look? Love the addition of butterfly pea flower tea to the coconut rice, it gives the rice a lovely bluish hue and somehow the whole set looks much more sexy, exotic,  appealing :p

    Here are the recipes, with reference from several sources, such as Nasi Lemak Lover, Noob Cook, LadyHomeChef (hosted under Miss Tam Chiak).

    Butterfly Pea Flower Coconut Rice
    (1 cup of rice, serves 2A1C)
    • 20 pcs dried butterfly pea flower
    • 1/2 cup boiling water
    1. Infuse the dried flowers in boiling water till the flowers are fully bloomed, around 30mins.
    2. Set aside 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp infused butterfly pea flower water
    • 1 cup Thai Jasmine rice, washed and drained
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk
    • 2 pcs lemon grass, lower portion, smashed
    • 3 pcs pandan leaves, tied into a knot
    • 1/4 tsp sugar
    • Pinch of salt
    • 2 pcs shallot, slightly smashed
    • 2 slices galangal
    1. Add coconut milk, sugar and salt to a small pot, bring to boil till sugar is dissolved.
    2. Off heat, add lemongrass and pandan leaves to the coconut milk and let them infuse till mixture is cooled down.
    3. Stir in the infused butterfly pea flower water.
    4. Place rice into rice cooker, add the coconut-butterfly pea flower mixture (together with the lemongrass and pandan leaves) and stir to mix well.
    5. Add shallot and galangal, and set the coconut rice to cook.
    6. After rice is cooked, let it rest for 10 mins before fluffing the rice.

    Tumeric Chicken Wings
    (serves 3)
    • 6 chicken wings
    • 3 pcs shallot
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 tsp coriander seeds
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 2 tsp curry powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp shallot oil
    • Cooking oil for brushing
    1. Pound shallot, garlic and coriander seeds in a mortal into a paste.
    2. Add turmeric powder, curry powder, salt and shallot oil and stir till well-mixed.
    3. Place chicken wings and marinate paste into a ziplock bag.
    4. Seal and rub the marinate till each piece of chicken wing is well-coated.
    5. Marinate for at least 4hrs or overnight in fridge.
    6. Remove from fridge 30mins before cooking to bring the wings to room temperature.
    7. Place the chicken wings in the basket of an air-fryer, brush cooking on both sides of the wings.
    8. Air-fry for 15 mins at 180 degree celsius, turning over once after 8-9 mins.
    9. Best serve hot. 



    Nyonya Achar
    (makes 5 jam bottles)

    • 2 small cucumbers (about 450g)
    • 1 small carrot (about 200g)
    • 100g cabbage leaves
    • 200g pineapple flesh, cut into small pieces
    • 40g skinless peanuts, roasted and pounded
    • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, roasted
    • 3 tsp sea salt
    1. Cut the cucumbers into 3-4cm sections, cut each section into quarters and slice away the seed block. Next cut the cucumber into thin strips. Add 1 tsp of sea salt to the cucumber strips and toss to coat well. Set aside for 1hr. After 1hr, squeeze out the excess water from the cucumber strips, pat dry, spread them out on a flat tray and air-dry for 1hr.
    2. Cut the carrot into 3-4cm sections, then cut the carrots into size of matchsticks. Add 1 tsp of sea salt to the carrot sticks and toss to coat well. Set aside for 1hr. After 1hr, squeeze out the excess water from the carrot sticks, pat dry, spread them out on a flat tray and air-dry for 1hr.
    3. Cut the cabbage leaves into bite-size pieces. Add 1 tsp of sea salt to the cabbage pieces and toss to coat well. Set aside for 1hr. After 1hr, squeeze out the excess water from the cabbage pieces, pat dry, spread them out on a flat tray and air-dry for 1hr.
    4. Place the cucumber strips, carrot sticks, cabbage leaves and pineapple pieces into a large glass bowl and set aside.
    Rempah
    • 7-8pcs shallots
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 2 pcs candlenut
    • 3 pcs dried chili, soak in hot water till soften, remove seeds and cut into small pieces
    • 3 pcs big red chilli, remove seeds and cut into small pieces
    • 1 stalk lemongrass, lower section only, sliced thinly
    • 5 slices galangal
    • 1 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1 tsp shallot oil
    • 1 tbsp cooking oil
    • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 100g brown sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    1. Place the shallots, garlic, candlenuts, dried chilli, red chilli, lemongrass, galangal and shallot oil into a blender, blend into a smooth paste.
    2. Add 1 tbsp of cooking oil in a pan or wok, add the rempah paste and turmeric powder and stir-fry till paste is aromatic.
    3. Add the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to the paste and bring to simmer.
    4. Remove from heat, let the rempah paste cool slightly and add the rempah paste into the mixing bowl of vegetables. Add the pounded peanut and sesame seeds. Stir to mix everything well.
    5. Let the achar cool down completely before bottling. Divide the achar into glass containers (prewash with boiling water) and store in fridge. Let the achar pickle overnight for flavours to develop before consumption. Bottled achar can be stored in fridge for up to 4 weeks, but best eaten within 2 weeks.



    Sweet Sambal Chilli
    (makes 1 jam bottle)
    • 8 pcs shallot
    • 5 cloves garlic
    • 15 pcs dried chilli, soak in hot water till softened
    • 4 pcs big red chilli
    • 3 pcs chilli padi
    • 1 tsp belachan, toasted
    • 1 tsp shallot oil
    • 1/4 cup cooking oil 
    • 100g Gula Melaka
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    1. Remove seeds from the dried chilli, red chilli and chilli padi and cut them into small pieces. Retain some seeds if wish to have a more spicy sambal.
    2. Place the shallot, garlic, chilli, belachan and shallot oil into a blender and blend till a smooth paste.
    3. Add cooking oil into a wok, then add the rempah and fry on medium low heat till the sambal is cooked and aromatic (turns from bright orangey red to dark red).
    4. Add gula Melaka and sea salt and mix till gula Melaka is melted.
    5. Let the sambal cool completely before bottling.


    Tempe - store-bought (I lugged back from SG) and freeze. Simply deep-fry or air-fry till golden brown (around 10 mins at 180 degree celsius).
    Ikan Bilis and Peanut - store-bought. I air-fry them around 15 to 20 mins at 160 degree celsius, till golden brown.
    Hardboil egg - place egg into water (fully covered) and boil for 10-12 mins.

    To serve, simply assemble all the ingredients onto a serving plate.


    I must say I super love my Nasi Lemak set, it's visually appealing with myriad of colours and tastes totally tantalising! So does my HB and kiddo. (The kiddo only ate the coconut rice, chicken wings and egg))

    The coconut rice is fragrant but not too oily or overwhelming. I chose to air-fry the chicken wings as it's more convenient, less oily and cooks more evenly. This chicken wing has a kampung feel to it, like those sold at Malay stalls. Super love the sweet, spicy and tangy achar, so aromatic and flavourful with the spices. Homemade achar seems to taste "fresher". And the sweet sambal chilli, super like it as well, only thing is, I retained a bit of chilli seeds and the sambal is a tad too spicy for me. But the HB says it's just nice.

    Very pleased with my first attempt, and this shall be on my regular menu probably once a month =D

    10 February 2018

    Croissant-making with Bakerz@Work Academy

    Back in October last year, I attended a Basic Croissant Workshop at Bakerz@Work Academy. I've always been curious about croissant making; heard that the process is very difficult and tedious. Since my family loves croissant especially the kiddo, I decided to go for the one-day hands-on workshop to experience the art of making hand-rolled croissants.

    The workshop started at 10am and ended at 5pm with an hour lunch break. Class size was small with six students and the "classroom" is a comfortable commercial bakery kitchen. The Chef-Instructor was Chef Kel who is very friendly, patient and very willing to share his experience and tips about making croissants in home kitchen.

    During the workshop, we learnt about dough composition and lamination techniques, yeast fermentation, gluten development and flavour formation. Chef Kel would go through each topic with theory, followed by demo and then we proceeded to hands-on with supervision and guidance.


    Tadah, proudly presenting my first-ever hand-rolled or hand-laminated croissants! They were certainly a far cry from being perfect, but I was already very happy and satisfied with the results. I mean, I could actually make my own croissants now!

    That was me, super excited to have finally reached the stage of proofing for my hand-laminated croissants.


    Although it's a little daunting at first, trying the grasp the techniques of folding and rolling, but as we proceeded, we began to get the hang of it. It was helpful that we worked in a buddy system where we reminded each other the steps; and Chef Kel was around to render assistance whenever we were stuck and unsure.


    Some might feel that all the work that took one whole day just for what? Eight Croissants? Is it worth it? To me, totally! It felt satisfying being able to churn out homemade artisan croissants using the best quality ingredients and serving them to family members. Freshly baked croissants made with love tasted extra yummy :)

    Actually the whole day process can be separated into two or even three days so that it's not so tedious. With careful planning and time management, it's not difficult after all. Patience is the key to croissant making as a lot of time is spent waiting between the proofing, folds, rolling and especially if our home kitchen is hot without air-con, the dough has to be put back to the fridge/freezer more times as it turns soft very quickly.

    Chef Kel also showed us the process of making Pain Au Chocolat using a laminate machine. Wow, using a machine makes the rolling job a breeze and the layers are more uniform and neat! See how nicely the layers of the Pain Au Chocolat turned out? Beautiful!

    I'm afraid it would be almost impossible to achieve such uniform and distinct layers using hand-rolled method, but it's not possible to buy a commercial machine at home lah.


    When making croissants, there will be leftover dough after cutting and shaping the croissants but they don't go to waste at all. We can either keep the dough as old dough for making sweet breads/buns, or add on to the next batch of croissants or make them into Monkey Bread, by cutting the dough into small pieces and toss them with sugar, chocolate chips, dried fruits, nuts, cheese etc. These were really yummy!


    Here were the works of the six students who attend this workshop. Mine's forth from the left. All in a day's work.

    All in all, I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone who wish to learn how to hand-roll croissants and make their own croissants at home. It's advisable to attend a hands-on workshop to learn the technique and get a feel of the entire process. I can confidently say that the recipe and techniques taught here is foolproof. And after practising croissant making a few times and familiar with the technique, it became easier and manageable, and being patient and meticulous is more crucial in ensuring success in croissant making.


    Here's sharing my practices so far :)

    Practice I


    My first practice one week after the workshop. For this very first practice, I must say it was not easy at all since I was working in a hot kitchen without air-con, unlike the workshop where the classroom is fully air-conditioned. There were some frustrations as the dough got soft very quickly and had to go in and out of the fridge and freezer many more times than expected.

    Nevertheless, managed to complete the croissant making. The croissants didn't turn out great but hey I was just happy to be able to try it at home. And must keep reminding myself PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE.


    Practice II


    A batch I thought cannot make it and wanted to give up halfway as I didn't thaw the butter properly and parts of it broke during lamination resulting in many butter patches. Proceeded half-heartedly anyway, and the croissants were poorly cut, shaped and rolled.

    They still looked like croissants and tasted ok, but the crumbs look terrible. A reminder to self, every step in the croissant making is important.

    Practice III


    My third practice before my kitchen was closed for my relocation.

    Took the time to ensure that each step was followed through meticulously and exercise more patience when it came to resting the dough in the freezer/fridge in between folds and rolls.

    Was quite happy with the results, the crumbs turned out nicely, although the shaping and sizing still needed improvement.


    Practice IV


    My first practice after shifting to Thailand. Glad that I managed to find pastry butter and T45 flour for making croissants at a baking supplies shop in BKK.

    A good chance for me to test my oven for baking croissants as well, as this oven at my rental house is an analog one instead of digital which I'm used to.

    Tried my best to be patient and rest the dough well between the folds and rolls; the croissants didn't turn out as well as Practice III. Could probably proof 10-15 mins longer, but I was rushing to go out to pick up my kiddo from school ("rushing" is a no-no in croissant making! Could have placed the croissants in the fridge for low temperature proofing while I was out).

    Although not totally satisfied, was happy that I could continue to practise on my croissant making here.

    Practice V


    My latest practice which was just last week; this batch I really took the time to rest the dough well in the freezer/fridge each time, and took extra care to roll properly.

    Just when I thought it's going to be THE perfect batch, alas, life is not perfect.

    Crumbs turned out beautiful I believe. But somehow all the shapes came out different, some lopsided and some plain ugly, only the shapes of one or two could make it.

    Not sure what went wrong? Was it the weather which was really hot and humid and I over-proofed croissants, was it because I didn't rest the dough enough between the folds and rolls? I think during the final rolling, although I rolled the dough to about 3-4mm thickness, somehow after cutting, it became 5-6mm thick, resulting in bigger croissants. Probably due to the size, it affected the proofing?

    Oh well, all I can say is, every croissant making is a new learning experience, and I shall continue to strive for the best possible homemade croissants!

    06 February 2018

    New Country, New Beginnings 2018

    Sorry for neglecting my blog for so long!

    I don't even know how I should start this post. Had taken a hiatus from blogging since December last year;  not by choice, but rather due to some family matters. And one of the key happening is, my family has relocated from Singapore to Pattaya in Chonburi, Thailand due to my HB's job assignment, for a period of two years.

    It has been a roller coaster ride thus far, from recce trips to school selection to house hunting, to packing, settling admin issues, managing interim living in SG. And finally the shift here, interim living once again; delays in our cargo, more admin procedures... it has been mentally and physically draining for the past 2 months, with a couple of emotional outbursts and breakdowns.

    Frankly there is a lot on my mind about this relocation, yet I couldn't bring myself to recall them as it's too mentally exhausting to do so. Well I did whine a lot on my personal FB the past two months! LOL :p Therefore I'm going to leave it as that, less my mood gets affected again.

    On the brighter side, there are a lot of things I would like to share as well, about living life in a different country, about the environment, lifestyle, weather etc; about the interesting places I visited, the nice food and eateries I tried... I guess just so many that I don't know where to get started! In time to come, I'll blog about them for sure, such as lovely cafes, interesting shops, markets, spa, places of interest etc.

    Anyways I have started cooking on a daily basis and has been posting photos regularly on my FB and IG, it's just that I haven't pick up the mojo to edit photos, write recipes and blog. As it is, it's so tough writing this particular piece to kickstart my engine! Once again, I have to pick up from where I left off and re-start my blogging regime again!

    Till my next post! Stay tuned!

    24 November 2017

    Bouquets of love, care, appreciation and gratitude from Floral Garage Singapore

    [ Collaboration with Floral Garage Singapore ]

    Was feeling  quite stressed up and low-spirited recently, so when Floral Garage Singapore offered to send me some fresh flowers or gift basket, I couldn't say no. First of all, who doesn't like receiving flowers? Moreover, I think some lovely flora would certainly lift up my spirit!

    Floral Garage is a 3 year-old floral and gifts company, ran by a team of passionate floral hobbyist turned professional florists, with a mission to provide quality and affordable products so that the meaning of love, care, appreciation and gratitude can be conveyed through the simple gesture of gifting.

    The company offered a wide range of products such as flower bouquets (signatures include Freestyle, premium freestyle, Vegetable), hampers with flowers (chocolate, fruit, baby, CNY, Get Well Soon etc) , gift baskets, condolence stands, congratulatory stands, terrariums, party stuff and more! Customers can even request for customised bouquets!

    As I browsed through the website to select the product I wish to receive, I was literally spoilt for choice. It's my secret wish to receive a huge bouquet of flowers, wait, the terrarium would be a nice touch of greenery for the house.... oh, the vegetable bouquet, the foodie/cook in me couldn't resist it! And the Winter Collection! Remember the Korean drama, Goblin: The Lonely and Great God? The cotton flower bouquets look similar to the one in the drama! The collection is on sale now!


    Being greedy, I selected 2 items in the end =D

    I still wish for some flowers to perk me up, so selected this sweet little flower arrangement, Simple Gesture.  Love the pinkish and dreamy combination! Admiring the flowers while having a cuppa tea certainly makes me feel so much better!


    I believe home-cooks or foodies would love this edible Vegetable bouquet! It comes in 3 sizes, small, medium, large and the large one has an option to include a bottle of wine. I opted for the small bouquet which includes broccoli, bellpeppers, eggplants, carrots, radish, lemons and leeks. Certainly a very practical and fun gift as the vegetables can be cooked and eaten after I finish admiring them :p


    There are several delivery timings to choose from and I opted for the timeslot 10am to 2pm. By 11+am, my 2 gorgeous bouquets have arrived to cheer me up :)

    In fact, the company has several options, such as Same Day Delivery, Standard Delivery, Specific Time Delivery or Self-Collection. Check out their website (https://floralgaragesg.com/delivery/ ) for the various options and their charges.


    Thank you to Floral Garage Singapore for the wonderful bouquets! I'm having a gathering over the weekend; the flower arrangement would be just nice as a table decoration, and the vegetables? They would be included in my menu ;)

    Do check out Floral Garage Singapore for your upcoming gifting thoughts :)

    Floral Garage Singapore
    Website: https://floralgaragesg.com/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FloralGarageSG/
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/floralgaragesg/
    Address: 756 Upper Serangoon Road, #03-34, Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre, Singapore 534626
    Email: service@floralgaragesg.com
    Call: +65 6282 2813
    What's App: +65 9387 8871

    22 November 2017

    Creamy Tomato & Basil Chicken


    [ Collaboration with Healthy Gourmet Singapore ]
    Dish 1 -  Vanilla Custard & Strawberry Jam Tarts

    The second dish that I created is this Creamy Tomato & Basil Chicken using Alce Nero Organic Soft Whole Wheat Flour, Organic Chunky Tomato Puree as well as Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Healthy Gourmet Singapore.

    Can't decide between a tomato-based chicken or creamy chicken? How about combining them? Sometimes I find tomato-based a bit too tangy for my liking and cream sauce a bit too rich. Surprisingly, the combination of tomato puree with cooking cream worked so brilliantly together;  both tastes balanced each other such that the dish was not too tangy and not too overwhelming for the palate. The addition of basil also added a refreshing aroma and further enhanced the overall taste.

    During busy days, this one-pot dish is definitely a time-saver as it's quick and easy to cook and versatile to serve as well; it goes well with bread, pasta, rice, salad or just on its own.


    And doesn't it look christmasy as well with its vibrant colours? Try out this dish for the upcoming Christmas holidays!









    Creamy Tomato & Basil Chicken

    • 6 chicken thighs, halved
    • 3 tbsp Alce Nero Organic Soft Whole Wheat Flour
    • 2 tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp mixed herbs
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 2 tbsp Alce Nero Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 1 bottle Alce Nero Organic Chunky Tomato Puree
    • 1 chicken stock cube or sea salt to taste
    • 15g sweet basil + extras for garnish
    • 10 cherry tomato, halved
    • 100-150ml cooking cream
    1. Place the chicken thighs into a ziplock bag with sea salt, black pepper, mixed herbs and whole wheat flour, seal and toss to coat well. Let the chicken marinate for 30 mins.
    2. Add olive oil to a casserole or pot on medium heat and fry the chicken thighs for 5 mins on each side till golden brown and crispy. Remove from casserole and set aside.
    3. Drain excess oil from the casserole, leaving about 1 tbsp. Heat oil using medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and sautee till onion is fragrant and translucent.
    4. Add tomato puree and chicken stock cube/sea salt, bring the mixture to boil.
    5. Add cooking cream and stir till well-mixed.
    6. Add fried chicken thigh, sweet basil and cherry tomato, turn heat to medium low and let the chicken and sauce simmer for 15 mins till chicken is fully cooked.
    7. Garnish with some sweet basil and any other herbs of choice (such as parsley, celery leaves). 
    8. Best serve hot, with pasta, bread, rice, salad or on its own.


    Once again, appreciate Healthy Gourmet Singapore for giving me the opportunity to try out their in-store products. Hope I'll have a chance to work with them again.


    Healthy Gourmet Singapore is an online grocery store committed to bring in all-natural and contaminant-free products with no harmful chemicals and additives, to consumers who share the same belief about sustainable farming practices and respecting the environment and our body through the right food choices.

    Brands that the webstore carry include Alce Nero, Belvoir Fruit Farms, NOMU and Ortalli, and range from cooking ingredients such as condiments, pasta, sauces, spices, to baking needs such as vanilla paste, chocolate and jams.

    Check out their website at http://shop.healthygourmet.sg/

    20 November 2017

    Vanilla Custard & Strawberry Jam Tart

    [ Collaboration with Healthy Gourmet Singapore ]

    Last week I was blessed to receive this bundle of organic, delicious and healthy products from Healthy Gourmet Singapore!

    Healthy Gourmet Singapore is an online grocery store committed to bring in all-natural and contaminant-free products with no harmful chemicals and additives, to consumers who share the same belief about sustainable farming practices and respecting the environment and our body through the right food choices.

    Brands that the webstore carry include Alce Nero, Belvoir Fruit Farms, NOMU and Ortalli, and range from cooking ingredients such as condiments, pasta, sauces, spices, to baking needs such as vanilla paste, chocolate and jams.


    I had the privilege of selecting any items from the store to create dishes with them; was literally spoilt for choice as there were so many items that I wish to have!
     
    Since Christmas is a month away, I decided to create a simple dessert and another one-pot dish which could be put together easily and yet visually appealing for the upcoming festive celebrations.

    Presenting my first dish, Vanilla Custard & Strawberry Jam Tart, created using Alce Nero Organic Soft Whole Wheat Flour, Alce Nero Organic Demerara Crystalised Brown Sugar, Alce Nero Organic Strawberry Jam and NOMU Vanilla Paste.


    Personally I don't have a sweet tooth and I also try to cut down on sugar intake and use more healthy ingredients for my bakes. This is the first time I introduce whole wheat flour and demerara brown sugar in my bakes and the result turned out great!



    The whole wheat flour, brown sugar and vanilla paste were used in the tart pastry, and the vanilla paste and brown sugar were also added in the custard. To create more depth and layering in the tart, I filled the tart shells with strawberry jam before topping with vanilla custard.


    I must rave about the NOMU Vanilla Paste as well! I'm very particular about vanilla paste and extract and use only the best quality ones (certainly no essence which is basically chemically-derived). NOMU Vanilla Paste contains pure vanilla seeds combined with cold pressed Vanilla Extract, and it's bottled in a dispenser pump which is such a brilliant idea! Mess-free and so easy to use; I'm totally in love with the product.



    Love the different textures created in this tart.

    Rustic crunch from the tart shell, natural fruity sweetness from the strawberry jam, creamy and lovely scent from the vanilla custard, fruity tang from the fruits and finally mint leaf to refresh the palate.

    I used strawberry jam for the layering this time, in fact any other jam flavours are fine. As for the toppings, any fruits would do, I selected raspberry and blueberry as they look so christmasy together. The mint leaf created a stunning colour contrast to the tart and I always like to add it to bakes as they are so refreshing.

    The tart shell and vanilla custard can be made a day in advance.

    After baking the tart shells, just store them in an airtight container. For the vanilla custard, I filled it to a piping bag and store in the the fridge. The next day, simply assemble, decorate and ready to serve.


    Vanilla Custard & Strawberry Jam Tarts
    (makes 16 tarts, using 6cm fluted cutter/3.5cm base tart case)

    (A) Tart pastry/shell
    • 150g Alce Nero Organic Soft Whole Wheat Flour
    • 30g Alce Nero Organic Demerara Crystalised Brown Sugar
    • 75g unsalted butter
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 tsp NOMU Vanilla Paste
    • 1 tsp fresh milk
    1. Sift flour into a large bowl, add sugar and mix well.
    2. Add cold unsalted butter cubes. Using finger tips, break the butter and rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles bread crumbs.
    3. Add egg yolk, vanilla paste and fresh milk to the mixture, use a scrapper to help with the mixing.
    4. The mixture will come together and thereafter, use hands to form the mixture into a dough.
    5. Knead the dough gently into a ball. Place the dough between 2 pieces of plastic sheet.
    6. Roll the dough to about 4-5mm thickness and place in fridge to rest for about 1 hour.
    7. Remove the dough from fridge. Dust a baking mat (and rolling pin) with flour, use a fluted cutter to stamp the dough.
    8. Use a metal scrapper (dust with flour) to lift up the cut dough.
    9. Place the cut dough over the tart case and gently press it downwards.
    10. Using finger tips, gently press and mold the dough into the tart case. Use a fork to poke holes at the base of the tart pastry.
    11. Bake the tarts at 180C, fan mode for 15mins. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. After the tart shells are cooled slightly, remove them from the tins and let cool completely before assembly. *if assembling tart next day, store the tart shells in an airtight container.
    (B) Vanilla Custard
    • 1 cup fresh milk
    • 20g Alce Nero Organic Demerara Crystalised Brown Sugar
    • 1 tsp NOMU Vanilla Paste
    • 4 tsp corn starch, sifted
    • 1 egg yolk
    1. Add fresh milk and sugar into a small pot.
    2. Place the pot into a large, shallow pan/pot with barely simmering water. This is the bain marie method, to create a gentle and uniform heat for cooking custard. Keep stirring the mixture till everything is melted and well-mixed.
    3. Add sifted corn starch. Mix till well-blended, the mixture will thicken slowly.
    4. Add the egg yolk and keep stirring till well-blended, the mixture will further thicken into custard.
    5. Add 1 tsp vanilla paste and mix well.
    6. Stop cooking once custard is creamy and gooey. Cover the surface of the custard with a clingwrap and let the custard cool for 10-15 mins,
    7. Sift the custard for a smoother texture (as they may be some fine lumps and grainy bits in the custard).
    8. Cover the surface of the custard with a clingwrap and let the custard cool down completely. 
    9. Fill the custard into a piping bag. Set aside. *if assembling the tart next day, store the bag of custard in the chiller.
    (C) Assemble
    • 16 tart shells
    • Vanilla Custard
    • Alce Nero Organic Strawberry Jam
    • 16 pcs raspberry
    • 16 pcs blueberry
    • 16 pcs mint leaves 

    1. Fill each tart shell with 1 tsp of jam.
    2. Pipe the vanilla custard to fill the tart shell.
    3. Top with raspberry, blueberry and mint leaves.
    4. Ready to serve.


    Don't these tarts look lovely? They are great for Christmas parties, or in fact any tea parties.

    Overall not too sweet and full of natural fruity goodness too. My kiddo already gave stamp of approval :)


    I'm already thinking of making them again for an upcoming gathering.


    Stay tuned as I used the remaining ingredients from Healthy Gourmet to create another simple one-pot dish!