27 December 2009

Victor's Kitchen, Sunshine Plaza

Hubby and I love dim sum! I guess we'll crave for it at least once a month? As much as we would like to explore different restaurants/eateries to try more variety and broaden choices, our usual haunts remain to be Victor's Kitchen at Sunshine Plaza and Kam Boat at Shaw Centre. We used to frequent Teahouse at China Square but sadly, Tung Lok has discontinued this dim sum branch. Then there are those highly recommended restaurants such as Royal China at Raffles Hotel, Wah Lok at Carlton that we went like once. Yet to try would be Cherry Garden at Mandarin Oriental... and I'm sure many other restaurants worthy for a sinful calorie laden meal.

Victor's Kitchen has been blogged and raved about by many bloggers already, as a humble eatery serving cheap and good dim sum. Indeed, we like that it is no-frills and we don't have to dress up for a decent meal of above average dim sum at reasonable prices. But it can get uncomfortable as seating and table space is very limited and squeezy. Do expect queues during peak hours and weekends.

Note: photos taken over a few visits.

3 of our must-order dim sum when we go any dim sum place are Siew Mai, Har Gau and Cheong Fun, sort of a gauge of the 'standard' of the chef and whether we would return again.

The Siew Mai here is pretty decent; proportion of lean pork more than prawns but nonetheless still crunchy and juicy. Perhaps I am more jaded now, I would like to have more prawns and some diced mushroom in my Siew Mai if possible and yes pls keep the pork lean. (Absolutely hated those Siew Mai sold at Kopi Tiam where large amount of fatty pork added. Yucks, how can call those Siew Mai?)

As for the Har Gau, prawns are fresh and crunchy and the skin mostly thin and chewy. When I say mostly, sometimes they do have misses when the skin is just a tad too thick. I like it that some diced bamboo shoots are added.

We love the Steamed Carrot Cake with XO sauce here. The texture is melt-in-the-mouth and smooth. Somehow the XO sauce overwhelms the ingredients like dried prawns and chinese sausage but I don't really mind.

The Cheong Fun here is mostly good as well. Good days being the cheong fun served piping hot and skin texture almost melt-in-the-mouth. (There are rare days when the cheong fun skin is a tad thick). We prefer the prawns than char siew or za leong (dough stick). And recently, they even added spinach inside the rice roll, a healthy attempt which I appreciate as I always lament the lack of veg in dim sum.

To get some veg in dim sum, try the Steamed Prawn and Chives Dumpling or Steamed Prawn and Spinach Dumpling. The latter is new on the menu. We love the chewy texture of the dumpling skin very much. As for the filling, chives, either you love or hate it; spinach, it's surprisely very compatible with prawns and as a dumpling filling.
The Lotus Leave Glutinous Rice is quite nice as well. The wrapped lotus leave looks like a little pillow :) The glutinous rice is soft and filled with fragrance of the lotus leave; chicken soft and tender, chinese sausage sweet and salted egg yolk savoury. All ingredients complement each other nicely :d, yes sinful indeed.
The XO sauce condiment which hubby likes.
The Custard Bun here is supposedly a signature dish. Bun is soft and fluffy and custard creamy and milky. Best part, a small piece of salted egg yolk is added which gives the bun the Oomph factor.
The Char Siew Bun is not bad either, chunks of sweet char siew meat oozing with sauce when you bite into the soft and fluffy bun.
There are a few other dishes we would order sometimes like braised chicken claws and spare ribs. Not too bad.

As for deep fried stuff like prawn dumpling, beancurd roll and spring roll, we seldom order them since the steamed dishes are the must-eats and already very filling. There is a popular deep fried pork dumpling which many people would order, tiny piece of minced pork wrapped with large sheet of dumpling skin and deep fried to a crisp.

With reasonable prices and quality dim sum, no wonder the place is getting more crowded... wonder if Chef Victor would move to bigger premise? But then again, he has remained at Sunshine Plaza for a few years now and probably it's this no-frills and value-for-money charm that attracts the strong followings.

Victor's Kitchen
91 Bencoolen St
Sunshine Plaza #01-21
10am to 9pm
Closed on Mondays

20 December 2009

Earl Grey Tea cupcakes & Nutella cupcakes

I'm really glad to receive a cupcake order recently! Finally, an opportunity to indulge in some baking which I so sorely missed. Didn't have much motivation to bake all this while as I'm supposed to stay off sugars :( (well, 1 more month to go and I'm looking forward to my pastries!)
20 pieces of Earl grey tea cupcakes with orange blossom & white chocolate frosting and 20 pieces of Nutella cupcakes with nutella praline frosting. Should be quite easily done, granted I'm quite clumsy in the kitchen recently so have to plan the schedule well in order not to rush through the bakes.
The last I baked earl grey tea cupcakes was more than 2 years ago, shortly after attending the hands-on workshop conducted by Chef Joycelyn. And since then, I did not try it again! Wonder why, as I love early grey. Probably there are simply too many recipes and too little time.

Quite pleased by how the cupcakes turned out. This is a very rich and buttery cupcake and the key is emulsifying the butter into the cake batter which takes patience. And of course, quality ingredients are essential - Elle & Vire french butter, Gryphon Earl Grey tea, Valrhona white chocolate...
Decorated the cupcakes with candied orange peel and Valrhona crunchy pearls. I love the silver and gold cupcakes, bought at Kappabashi, Tokyo.

As for the Nutella cupcakes, had attempted just a few months ago. This is a fairly easy recipe as well, except for the gooey mess of nutella... boy, nutella is really sticky and a tad hard to handle without getting it all over the place. Besides nutella, the Valrhona 55% Equatorial chocolate was also added (recipe calls for 40% Jivara which is sweeter).

Turned out quite nicely as well. I guess most people likes nutella so should be quite a crowd pleaser.Packed the cupcakes in 2s and 4s. The box was a little big for 2 pcs of cupcakes and the cupcakes would move around, so I made a simple cut-out board to hold them in place.

The 4-pc box was just nice, but probably a tad tight.
Sealed with my usual design labels.

Thanks to I for the order and hope that your recipients will like them :)

13 December 2009

Pan fried snapper fillet

Another pan fried fish variation using same recipe as the pan fried salmon fillet previously, this time using snapper fillet.

Couldn't find cod fish, the auntie at Cold Storage strongly recommended this cream snapper fillet instead. It was good, texture of the fish was tender and juicy! For veg, instead of broccoli and baby carrot, we opted for baby spinach and cherry tomato.

Another hearty and wholesome meal, good for the baby :)

10 December 2009

Tomato Chicken 番茄鸡翅膀

上个月8频道星期二特写之《家传菜7》中,专栏作家吴韦材介绍了一道简单的番茄鸡翅膀。 这是一道用最简单的食材最简便的方法所烹饪出的的家传菜。看了之后一直蠢蠢欲动想如法炮制。
节目主要叙述家传菜的背景和含义,所以没有像烹饪节目一样有规定的食谱。况且长辈的料理也通常没有食谱的呀。我就照着吴韦材的口述和画面来尝试, 简简单单无需想得太复杂。

  • 番茄5粒 - 3粒切大块,2粒切丁
  • 鸡翅膀8-10只切两段,洗干净后用纸巾沥干水分,再用盐抹均匀。
  • 小葱头4-5颗, 切小片
  • 蒜头4-5颗,切小片
  • 香料,香草 - 各人喜好
热锅加些橄榄油, 油热后先加切块的番茄。翻炒后加入小葱头和蒜头。待番茄些许融化,加入鸡翅膀翻炒。鸡翅膀表皮变色后,加入适量开水。 待整锅料理煮沸,加入一半切丁的番茄,然后转小火焖煮。鸡翅熟透后,加剩下的切丁番茄再煮一下。最后,依个人喜好撒些香料或香草就可以啦!我没加盐,因为鸡翅已抹盐。


This is a dish adapted from a current affairs show I watched on Channel 8. A simple yet delicious dish handed down by grandma. There is no recipe, so I just came up with my own version based on the programme commentary and cooking method. After all, it is meant to be a quick and easy dish.
  • Tomatoes - 3 of them cut into wedges and 2 diced
  • Chicken wings - 8 to 10 pieces, separate into wings and drumlets. Wash and dry using kitchen towel. Then rub thoroughly with salt.
  • Shallots, 4 to 5 pieces, sliced
  • Garlic, 4 to 5 pieces, sliced
  • Herbs like pasley or coriander leaves (optional)
Heat deep pan with some olive oil. Add the tomato wedges and stir fry. Then add the shallots and garlic. After the tomato softens, add the chicken wings and drumlets. Stir fry till the chicken skin turns slightly brown. Add water (enough to cover the chicken). Once boil, add half of the diced tomato and switch to low heat. Once chicken cooks thoroughly (cook longer if want a softer texture), add the remaining diced tomato. Cook for a while more, add herbs and ready to serve.
I love the tangy gravy with a tinge of natural sweetness from the tomato. The dish is really wholesome and appetising. Goes perfectly with rice. Yum!

05 December 2009

Puff Pastry 101 Workshop

Attended the Bake It Better: Puff Pastry 101 Workshop conducted by Guest Chef Christopher Tan this afternoon at Shermay's Cooking School.

Counting down to the big day soon, so this gonna be my last workshop for a few months to come I guess. Thankfully I was still able to attend this class as I love puff pastry!!! Admittedly, puff pastry is fattening due to the amount of butter used but I just like the crisp of the pastry with strong notes of heavenly butter and preferably with savoury fillings. Fresh from the oven, the buttery smell never fails to make me salivate :d~~~~

Have always resisted making puff pastry at home due to difficulty in managing the pastry in our humid weather. Attempted traditional rough puff pastry before and ended up with messy dough and having to stick the dough into the fridge to chill every now and then as the butter melted quickly. When I read the description from Shermay's website that it's a quicker and easier method, I was sold.

The master puff pastry recipe was demonstrated, along with 3 recipes for variation (and 2 bonus recipes).
  • Classic quick puff pastry - easier method than traditional puff pastry but bakes and rises equally nicely.
  • Smoked chicken vols-au-vent - dainty puff pastry cases stuffed with smoked chicken filling. Great for parties!
  • Galette des rois - traditional french confection of almond butter encased in puff pastry shell.
  • Lattice apple tart - Puff pastry tart with apple compote with a blanket of eye-catching lattice top.

Chef Christopher started with the classic puff pastry since as this would take almost the whole lesson, given that the pastry has to be rolled, folded and chilled sufficiently for total of 6 turns. Though time consuming, he assured us that it was fairly manageable just slightly tedious. Once pastry is ready, it could be rolled to the intended thickness and even cut into the intended shape and freeze for some 1 month before use.Vols-au-vent casings could be cut into shape well in advance and freeze for later use. Shape depends on personal preference. Square pieces would be more economical since less wastage as compared to rounds.

The smoked chicken fricassee was easy to cook and enhanced with tomato paste. Didn't even need to add salt since smoked chicken was used.

Combining the smoked chicken and vols-au-vent, decorated with a tiny piece of pastry as cap and pasley for colour. Looks totally tempting and appetising!

The puff pastry was so light and crisp with subtle hint of butter! We could go for seconds or thirds without feeling the burden or overdose of butter. Certainly unlike the heavy handed buttery puffs by Polar Puffs and Delifrance.
The smoked chicken fricassee was marvellous as the filling, really enjoyed the smoky flavour complemented by the tinge of sweetness from the tomato paste and enriched with some creme friache.
My favourite recipe of the lot and I certainly would like to bake lots of vols-au-vent and experiment with different fillings.
Not really familiar with french confection so this was the first time I learn about this dessert. Filling is a frangipane, which is good for tarts as well. With the puff pastry done, it's relatively easy to make the filling consisting of butter, sugar, creme fraiche, rum, ground almonds and flour.

Decorations for the galette are flexible. Could do curves.
Zig-zag cuts.
Or leave shapes. All baked and puffed up beautifully.
Best served warm. Once again, the puff pastry was crisp and light and the frangipane filling was moist and not too sweet. The hint of almond was quite distinct, those who love almond taste would love this dessert.

Cooking the apple compote was easy as well, just need to select the right type of apples.
A special lattice cutter was used to roll and cut through a piece of pastry and once the pastry was opened, viola, a pretty lattice!
Stunning result. The risen layers of pastry was visible even through the lattice.
Light and crisp lattice puff pastry with a tart-sweet apple compote.
Was really glad to have attended this class, and looking forward to baking soon. (hopefully baby could give me some time-off during the 16 weeks maternity leave!)

03 December 2009

Curry Fish Head, Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre

The recent stormy and cold weather makes people crave for food hot and spicy like curry fish head, doesn't it? One of our favourite haunts for curry fish head is at Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre.

In fact, this stall originated from the old Taman Jurong Market, which used to be opposite the DBS Bank (for those familar with this area) some 10 years ago? Hubby was already a big fan back then and he introduced me to the stall when we were dating :) And the other fishball noodle stall I blogged about before.

When the new Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre is up, hubby specifically checked with the stall owner to verify (as there are another 2 stores selling curry fish head at the old and new place).

Now, I think we go there at least once in 2 months to satisfy our craving, cold weather or not :p Even though it is a zichar store with many other dishes apparently quite good as well, we always order the curry fish head and at most a stir-fry kailan or other veggies. We wanted to try the other dishes, but the curry fish head is just too enticing to pass.

The curry gravy tastes spicy and sourish, just nice not too thick nor watery, complementing the fish meat very well. In fact, the gravy is so addictive that we would be happy just eating plain rice with the gravy. Fish used is red snapper, fresh and chunkful of meat. In addition, what I like are the generous helping of veggies - brinjal, lady fingers, tomatoes and fresh pineapple, cooked together with the fish head and had absorbed the goodness of the gravy, unlike some stores who just add pre-cooked veggies before serving.

I think a small claypot cost $13 and big pot $15 (can't remember exactly). Salivating yet? I am, as I'm looking at the photo.

Hong Guan Cooked Food
Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre
Yung Sheng Rd