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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Week 11, 2015

 Mar 9 (Mon)


Happy Monday! I had a very busy day today. Went for Body Combat for the first time in months and sweated buckets. Completed my first bakery order and went to graze Istria at the Polo Club in the afternoon. As we were walking back to the stable at 5pm I turned around and saw this. Isn't it beautiful? I'm always amazed that you can still find places like this in the concrete jungle that is Singapore.

I went to pick up some bone-in pork chops at Isetan after my Body Combat session and made Pork Chop au Poivre for dinner. The sauce is lovely on rice or on salad. Today I served it on a bed of butterhead lettuce.

I always brine pork so they don't get too tough when you cook it, but when you brine meat remember to cut down the salt in the recipes so they don't end up too salty.

Mar 10 (Tue)

Sometimes I really wonder what makes a restaurant/café successful/popular. It doesn't seem to always be a reflection on the food, or location. I've been hearing and seeing photos of this coffee joint everywhere since last year, but never made it there because the location is just too weird. Then today two of my friends have kids swimming in a stadium in the area, so we decided to catch up there. The coffee was ok, but I can't say it was mind-blowing, which is what I expected from a place that prides itself on its home-roasted beans. The food, on the other hand, was borderline bad. I ordered a pork burger, which had a whiff of past-the-sell-by-date taste, and at $18, I expected real fries, not some broken chips out of a bag.


My friend H's tuna steak had a fishy smell, and J's smoked salmon on focaccia bread looked puny and unappetizing. I tried the almond croissant that A ordered and it was completely dry. Almond croissant is one of the easiest things to make if you can get your hands on almond syrup. The one we had didn't seem to have any syrup in it at all, nor any almond taste. Needless to say, I will never go back to this place again. Nothing annoys me more than wasting my stomach on bad-tasting calories.

After the unsatisfactory lunch I needed some comfort food, and since hubby's not coming home for dinner I went for my default simple pantry meal: a traditional Shanghai noodle dish with pickled vegetable and meat topping. The pickle comes in a can, and so far I've only found it in the Chinese grocer Yue Hwa in Chinatown. The packaging looks like this, and although it says pickled cabbage, it's not cabbage at all.

I usually stir-fry one can of this with about 200g of pork or chicken slices, or minced pork. I then make a soup stock with 50% chicken stock and 50% water. Boil some noodle, add the soup and put the pickle/meat combo on top, and you have yourself a meal.


Mar 11 (Wed)

Today is SOSD day, but because my instructor is in Germany helping some big shot in the show jumping world build courses, my jumping lesson before SOSD was cancelled, so I got to sleep in a little, and had a normal breakfast of toast and coffee, along with a smoothie.


I soaked half a cup of oatmeal in half a cup of almond milk overnight and blended it with some strawberries and blueberries in the morning.

For dinner I met up with my bunch of foodie girlfriends at our favorite Peking duck restaurant in Paragon shopping center. Restaurants that serve Peking roasted duck in Singapore are dime a dozen but this place does it the best. I like the fact that the skin is always crispy without being greasy and heavy, and they do a very good duck fried noodle with the meat that's left on the carcass.

 
Whenever I get together with this group of friends, conversation never stray too far from food and we exchange information on all kinds of food related topics. This time I found out about a Nonya lady who teaches Peranakan cuisine from her house. Here's her website: Grandmother's Recipes 


I also learned where to get cheap and good organic vegetables from the supplier's warehouse

Mar 12 (Thur)

J is not coming home for dinner tonight, which is just as well because I spent the whole afternoon baking for my charity drive.


 
 
I tested a new cookie recipe to be added to the bakery as well. The double chocolate oatmeal cookie. Ta-da!
 

With so much baking, dinner was just a smoothie and my go-to grilled cheese sandwich.
1/2 avocado, 1/2 mango, 50g blueberry, 1/3c home made yogurt, enough almond milk to thin it.

Mar 13 (Fri)

My friend P read about a neighbourhood bakery that sells authentic French bread and another friend A went to check it out, and said it's one of the best in Singapore. A is an Le Cordon Bleu alum and who also completed a bread course at one of New York's culinary institutes, I just can't remember which one now. So when a bakery gets A's stamp of approval, it's a must-go.

The shop is called the Bread King They are open from 7:30am to 8pm on weekends, but on weekdays they close from 1pm for a few hours in mid day. Besides bread, they carry some cooking ingredients as well, and A scored some burrata that was freshly shipped in from France. It's a little bit out of the way for me, but I think I need to check it out soon.

Bread King
43 Burghley Drive
6289 2508

After chowing down the croissant that A bought for me from Bread King (it's gone soft in this humidity but the flavour is very good) we went searching for lunch in Tiong Bahru. Here's my friend L admiring the unique architecture that's unique to old houses in Singapore.


In the past few years trendy cafes have been popping up one after the other in Tiong Bahru, but I'm sad to say, none of them has really good stand-out food. Today we ended up in a place called PoTeaTo. Because we weren't too hungry, the four of us shared two main dishes and a big jug of lime juice. The fish and chips and their fries were decent, but the ribs were not cooked enough so the meat was very hard to cut off the bone. I guess at least they're true to their name and does good fries, but I don't think I'll go back again just for fries. Another place stricken off the list =o(


I've been seeing the Philips Air Fryer everywhere, in stores, at friends' homes, everywhere! I have so many kitchen appliances that I have to think really really hard before buying anything now so it took me a while to finally bite the bullet and get one for myself. It arrived today, just in time to make an oven-fry recipe in the air-fryer.

Mexican Fries




Four potatoes fit just nice in the fryer basket. I decreased the oil from 4 tbsp in the recipe to 1 tbsp according to the recipe booklet that came with the fryer. It took 5 min of pre-heating, and 20 min of "frying" (shake half way).



 

The fries that came out of the fryer had a slightly crispy outer layer and a warm and soft interior, something in between the real deal and the oven-fried version. I never expected the air fryer to give identical result to deep frying so this works for me.

When J came home later, the fries were cold, so I put them back into the fryer at the same setting for 10 minutes, without the pre-heat. To my great surprise, they came out crisper! Isn't that nice to know! So next time I'll double fry to get them crisper.

The BBQ Margarita Chicken Tostadas was very ordinary. The chicken taste no different from if I had just mixed it with some bbq sauce. The salsa was nice though, so the recipe is worth saving after all.

 
Mar 14 (Sat)
 
I have a habit of browsing through Pinterest before bed and sometimes I see a recipe that I want to try and start mentally checking off if I have all the ingredients needed that I end up losing sleep. Does anyone else do that?
 
Anyway, on Friday night I saw a photo of a biscuit with an egg hidden inside that I just had to try. The ingredient list was short, flour, eggs and butter are always on hand. My chives are dying but I do have oregano and I still have cheddar left from another recipe that I shredded and froze. Of course I have yogurt, so I'm all good to go. 
 
I was already planning to make Chicken Sausage with Brussels Sprouts and Fennel for brunch but decided that I can make the biscuit too. It all worked out well, because the biscuit needs to bake at 475F while the sausage skillet bakes at /250C.




Surprise Cheddar Biscuit

 

The hardest part of this was to boil the eggs to the right doneness. Because the biscuits will need to be baked with the egg inside, I didn't want to have a hard boiled egg at the end, so I tried to have a soft  egg yolk to start with. The first time I tried the eggs were too soft and I couldn't peel them without them falling apart. The second time I cooked them closer to a medium, and they were much easier to peel.

The dough was fairly easy to make in a food processor, but whatever you do, DO NOT over work your dough, or you'll have a very tough biscuit. Shaping the dough around the eggs was a little tricky because it's very sticky, so make sure you wet your hands. I ended up with a little extra dough, which I made into a regular biscuit. They bake very fast, 5 min at 475F and 5 min at 400F.


These biscuits were huge but they were so yummy you'll want to eat it all. I devoured my half in just a few bites and took some from my in-laws too. The texture is very soft and airy, and the cheddar and oregano adds a nice flavour to the biscuit. It's definitely a keeper. If I'm not in the mood to impress I may just shape them into regular biscuits without the eggs inside. Then you wouldn't have to worry about over-cooking the eggs, and should be able to bake them at the normal 180-200C for about 15-20 minutes.

Then a foodie friend of mine saw the photo I posted on WeChat and commented that I could try salty eggs inside the next time. Brilliant idea! Or maybe even century eggs! I've always loved the century egg pastry in Hong Kong, so why not put it in a biscuit?! Mmmmm, the possibilities!!

For dinner I made Mint Marinated Shrimp with Tabbouleh


It's the perfect dinner on a hot summer day, and also feels healthy ;o)
 
Mar 15 (Sun)

My in-laws will be leaving in two days after their 3-month visit, so today we went for lunch at our favourite dim sum place, which is the same group as the Peking duck place I went to earlier in the week. There are many restaurants for dim sum in Singapore and our friends have recommended to us their favourite places, including the famous Hua Ting, the Cathay, the one in Carlton Hotel, and Peach Garden, but after trying all of them we still go back to Imperial Treasure in Great World City whenever we want to have dim sum. While Hua Ting and Cathay are both pretty good, I think Imperial Treasure has the best Liu Sha Bao (salty egg yolk custard buns), which is a must-have for me when I go for dim sum. They also have a steamed dessert with alternating layers white bun dough and salty egg yolk. Yes, I do have an addiction to salty egg yolks...

 
I picked up some flank steak from Cold Storage for dinner and made it with my favourite recipe: Martha Stewart's Soya Lemon Flank Steak
 

Once in a while it's nice to take a break from the highly fatty wagyu steaks and sink your teeth into some chewy muscles, and flank steak is just the right thing for that =o)