Friday, December 30, 2011

Roasted Fennel

Recently, I fell in love with two vegetable snacks. One of them is roasted fennel (I will write about the second one real soon). While fennel is not a common ingredient in Singapore, it can be easily found in the States and I've come to love this veg. By roasting it, the fennel caramelizes to give a really nice sweet flavor and is lightly crisped around the edges. The longer you roast them in the oven, the more brown they will be. I don't like to roast it until it is brown all over as I like to still have a good bite of the vegetable, but feel free to alter the cooking time according to your preference! :)

Not only is this tasty, it is really easy to make too. Slice the fennel, coat it with some olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper, pop it into the oven and wala! Snack made healthy! :) Makes a great side dish too!

Roasted Fennel

2 large fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Cut off the stems of the fennel and slice the bulbs lengthwise, about 1/4-inch thick.

Using a roasting tray, place the sliced fennel on a sheet of aluminium foil. Drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the fennel slices. Toss with your hands to coat well.

Roast the fennel in the oven for 20 minutes and then turn them over and roast for another 20 minutes, or until brown.
Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Home Fried Chicken

This is one good fried chicken. Granted, this is not the healthiest thing on planet earth and I'd usually oven bake my chicken for a healthier alternative but ooh, who doesn't love a good ol' crispy fried chicken once in a while? And I am speaking for my hubby as well haha! :)

HFC! Home Fried Chicken

4 chicken thighs with skin on
1 large egg
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of hot sauce
1 cup of self-raising flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
Vegetable oil (I use Canola oil)

Mix the salt, garlic powder and black pepper together and season the chicken thighs with it (don't use all the seasoning for a less salty version). Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water and the hot sauce.

Spread the flour on a plate, to be used for coating later.

Pour oil into a large pot, until it reaches the halfway mark (do not fill it to the brim). Heat the oil until it reaches 375 degrees. I test the oil by dipping my wooden spoon into it. If it sizzles around the edges, it is ready.

Coat the chicken thighs with the egg, and then with the flour. Drop them into the pot and cook them for 10 minutes.

Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here's a picture of some sugar cookies I made in the shape of a gingerbread man. I used the same recipe I made for the hearts which can be found here. It was fun drawing crazy faces on these men. Some had jagged smiles, some had eyes in a straight line and a couple sported a full suit and a tie. haha! 

Christmas is my favorite season of the year, not just because of all the presents, the festive food, the lights and all, but that above all, it is a time to remember our beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - the reason for this season.

So merry Christmas to one and all and have a blessed new year ahead! :)

Best Blogger Tips

Friday, December 23, 2011

I ♥ San Francisco!

Wow, it's been quite a while since I last wrote, mainly because I was away on a holiday with my hubby. We took a road trip to San Francisco and it was so lovely. We drove to Big Sur first (and admired the beautiful Pacific Ocean) and then headed to San Fran to gaze at the breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge. But of course what is a holiday without some good food? I had one of the best seafood ever! The Dungeness crab was in season and of course, we couldn't resist digging our fingers into one of them:

Their crab was not only fresh, it was really succulent and sweet. Their clam chowder was not bad (at the back) but the crab was really the star of the show! Tarantino's Restaurant has an indoor sitting, but my hubby and I just sat outside, alfresco style, after purchasing the food at their outdoor deli, where a guy would be boiling the crabs at the walkway. So really, it's pretty hard to miss it. In fact, I heard some people commenting that they couldn't stand the fishy smell the boiling crabs were emitting and ran away from the stand as fast as they could. But I thought it was ok heh! :)

Tarantino Restaurant (at the Fisherman's Wharf)
206 Jefferson St
(between Taylor St & Jones St)
San Francisco, CA 94133
Neighborhood: Fisherman's Wharf

And if I had to name the best dish I ate in San Fran, though it was a tough fight, I'd say the winner goes to Sam's Chowder Mobile!!

Oh look at the lobster flesh. Need I say more? Their lobster roll was super delicious, atop a generously buttered roll. It was so tasty, I wondered how they cooked it without drying out the lobster. They won several foodie awards, including CBS Best of the Bay Area's Street Food. They are mobile so they move around San Fran and I found them at the Golden Gate Park. Their chowder is really good too. Better than Tarantino's one, in my opinion.

To find out where they are, you can visit their website at

Have I ever mentioned how much I love farmer's markets? I love the whole concept of a wide variety of fresh produce and food stands all under the same roof. And at times, u can happily sample your way through the stalls too! The hubby and I made our way to SoMa (South of Market) for lunch and from far, we could see a long line snaking this stall. That is enough to capture our curiosity and the hubby quickly parked himself at the end of the queue while I checked out their menu. Their porcetta (pork) sandwich seemed to be the bestseller that afternoon, so we ordered one and boy was it delicious! The pork had a good crunch to it, and was salted just right. I love how it had heaps of arugula sandwiched in it. yums! I gobbled the sandwich up too quickly for a shot, but I did find a video of it on youtube so enjoy! :)


Roli Roti Gourmet
1 Ferry Bldg (at SoMa)
San Francisco, CA 94105

I also got some chocolates from Alfieri Farms. They sell some really good almond brittle and I bought home the dark chocolate variety. It was really addictive. I finished my packet in a couple of days and am yearning for more! I got it at one of the stalls in SoMa. Their website seems to be under construction, but you can view more info from yelp here:

As mentioned, the seafood in San Fran is really fresh, and so I really wanted to try their sushi. This restaurant was recommended on Frommer's guide book so we decided to check it out. It was really crowded and we had to wait for about 15 minutes before we could get a table, but it was worth the wait. The fish (below is the sushi delux), do bear me for repeating, was fresh, and the tamago! oh the tamago was so sweet and juicy, I've never really had anything quite like it.

We saw many tables ordering their clams cooked in sake, so we tried that too and it was not bad! It bore a slight resemblance to vongole.

704 Sutter Street
San Francisco CA 94109

On the day we left San Fran, we decided to return to this korean restaurant because the first time we went there, the queue was way too long and we were way too hungry after our long drive and we had to leave. This time, we were the first customer the moment they opened for lunch so we definitely had a seat! Haha! As we ate, the place began filling up with the lunch crowd!

This restaurant is famed for their soft tofu and so I had the kimchi one while my hubby had the seafood one. I preferred my soup base, and let me tell you, their tofu was unbelievably soft! Love it! Love their side dishes too. This is the first time I had full head+tail on fish as a side dish, though the fish was a little too salty for me. Thumbs up for the korean supermarket (separate establishment) beside it too that sold a wide variety of korean produce. I bought their fried scallion pancake as takeaway and it was delicious!

My Tofu House
4627 Geary Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94118

So yep, here's the top picks of the food I tried on my first trip to San Fran. It was really a culinary delight and I would head back again just for the food alone! In fact, on our way back I was badgering my hubby when we could visit San Fran again hehe. If you have foodie places to recommend, do let me know! Keeping notes for the next trip! :)

Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs

Glistening pork ribs, slightly charred at the edges to give a smoky flavor.
The hubby and I have been eating meal after meal of pasta recently cos:

1) I was testing out new pasta recipes
2) I wanted to use finish some stuff in the fridge ie: ricotta and mascarpone cheese

and so the craving for Chinese food hit me pretty fast and hard and before long, I was reminiscing about the Hong Kong spare ribs I used to eat at the zi char stall near my hubby's house. While I contemplated just going to a Chinese restaurant here for a quick fix, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try making it myself hurhur.

Well, it turned out simply delectable! It was juicy on the inside, and slightly charred at the edges to give a nice smoky flavor. I used the fleshier kind of pork ribs this time so it was a bit like eating char siew. I'm going to try using the boney kind of spareribs the next time I make them! :)

Paired perfectly with some fluffy white rice. Yums!

Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs
1 tablespoon of Chinese five-spice powder 
1 full rack St. Louis-style spareribs, cut into individual ribs (about 3 pounds total)
1/2 cup hoisin sauce 
1/4 cup shaoxing wine or dry sherry 
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
1/4 cup honey

Sprinkle five-spice powder evenly over ribs and rub into them until thoroughly and evenly coated. Set ribs aside.

Combine hoisin sauce, shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and honey in a zip-lock bag. Add ribs to bag and mix until evenly coated. Seal bag, transfer to refrigerator, and let ribs marinate at least overnight and up to three nights.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375°F. Remove ribs from bag, wiping off excess marinade with your fingers (reserve the marinade). Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, set a wire rack on it, and spread the ribs evenly over the rack. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour. Remove foil, brush ribs with marinade, increase heat to 450°F, and continue to roast until charred, glazed, and sticky, about 15 minutes longer, rotating ribs and basting with marinade once more during cooking (I did it after a 10-minute interval).
Let rest 10 minutes, then serve.

Adapted from Serious Eats
  Best Blogger Tips

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fluffy Homemade Marshmallows

As promised, here's the recipe for marshmallows! And as previously mentioned in my last entry, this pairs divinely with a cuppa ultimate hot chocolate. Just plonk in two to three of these fluffy pillows for a delicious treat!

Do try this recipe if you've never made marshmallows before. It is surprisingly easy, and you only need a few basic ingredients. Gone are the days of those rubbery and spongy store-bought marshmallows. Homemade ones are the real deal! Try it if you don't believe me! The ones you make yourself are waaaay softer and they just melt in your mouth. And they taste way better too! :)

I was able to fill two 9-inch pans of marshmallows with this recipe, so feel free to adjust accordingly. They can also be kept for a few weeks in an air-tight container. 

Homemade Marshmallows


2/3 cup of water, divided into two
3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin (each envelope containing 1/4oz of powdered gelatin)
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 cup of powdered/icing sugar for dusting

Lightly coat the insides of your pan with vegetable cooking spray. Sprinkle powdered sugar over it and set aside.

Pour 1/3 cup of the water into a bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and stir briefly to incorporate. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, or until the gelatin has softened.

In a small unheated saucepan, combine the remaining 1/3 cup of water and the granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir to mix well. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the mixture without stirring for 10 minutes, or until it reaches 240 degrees, also known as the softball stage. You may clip a candy thermometer on the inside of the pan (make sure it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan or the reading will not be accurate). If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can also test the temperature of the mixture by dropping a small amount of it in a bowl of ice water. If the mixture solidify into a malleable ball, the sugar has reached softball stage, as opposed to hardball stage.

Using a hand electric mixer (or a standing mixer) on low speed, carefully add the hot syrup to the softened gelatin. Add the vanilla essence and increase the speed to medium-high. The mixture will start out very clear, but will eventually turn white. Beat for about 10 minutes, or until the marshmallow gets very thick and sticky - like melted marshmallow.

Using your spatula, spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Set it aside for about 3 hours, pr until the mixture is firm and cool. It will not be as firm as store-bought marshmallows.

When done, sift the powdered sugar on the top of the marshmallow, lightly coating it. Sift the rest of the powdered sugar into a shallow bowl. Run your knife around the edge of the cooled pan to loosen the marshmallow. Turn the pan upside down onto a sheet of wax paper. Cut your marshmallows into desired shapes/cubes. Place your knife under running water from time to time to prevent too much marshmallows from accumulating on the knife because they will be sticky.

Lastly, roll each marshmallow in the powdered sugar until completely coated. Store marshmallows in a single layer, or in layers separated by wax paper. 

Happy marshmallow-ing! :)

Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ultimate Hot Chocolate

'Tis the season for some hot chocolate!
The city's been hit by some really strong winds recently (and when I say strong, I mean uprooting 50-year-old trees, toppling cable lines and causing crazy blackouts kind of strong) and so this little ol' me who is not used to the chill is freezing her toes off!

Hence, to warm myself up, I made a cuppa hot chocolate that day! :) The puffy marshmallows you see melting into that mug were homemade, and I shall share that recipe in my next entry. No store bought synthetic tasting marshmallows can fight a homemade one! But for now, let's concentrate on that cuppa!

This recipe's really easy as pie, and the best thing is, you can easily tweak every component until you find the taste that you like best. Truth is, everyone has their own idea of what a good cup of hot chocolate should taste like. Some love it to be extra thick, some prefer it to be super sweet, some love it to be very milky, and so just go with the flow! Just remember to taste, taste, taste when you're stirring your pot!

I love how these marshmallows act as a sweetener for me, which is why I tend not to add too much sugar into mine. And I like mine with a touch of peppermint, so I stirred that delightful looking peppermint cane into the drink. Oh, how Christmas-y this feels! :) Totally my favorite time of the year!

Ultimate Hot Chocolate
(serves 1 large mug)

a mug of whole milk
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, or to taste
a pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the temperature just reaches the boiling point.  Taste and adjust accordingly. Garnish with your favorite marshmallows and peppermint sticks! Enjoy!

Best Blogger Tips

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Real Mushroom Soup

When I first saw this recipe in Jamie Oliver's cookbook, I was really excited. What drew me to this recipe was the use of as many different fresh wild mushrooms as you can find. I knew that the depth of flavor for this soup would really be one of a kind with such variety. So, the moment my new food processor arrived in the mail, I immediately dropped by my supermarket and bought my mushrooms! :D I was that excited! Haha!

Although I was not able to find all the mushrooms he mentioned, I was able to get a decent variety: dried porcini, crimini, white, shitake and oyster. The end result? Delicious! :)

The Real Mushroom Soup (adapted from Jamie's Dinners)
(serves 6)

a small handful of dried porcini (if you were to use a field of Portabello mushrooms to make a soup, just adding a tiny but of dried porcini into the base would make the whole thing more luxurious)
600g/1lb 6oz mixed fresh wild mushrooms (chanterelles, girolles, trompettes de la mort, shitake, oyster), cleaned and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
a knob of butter
a handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 litre/1 3/4 pints chicken or vegetable stock
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese
1 lemon (I omitted this cos I didn't want any lemony taste in my mushroom soup)
optional: truffle oil

Place the porcini in a small dish, add boiling water just to cover, and leave to soak. Get a large casserole-type pan nice and hot, then add a good couple of lugs of olive oil and your fresh mushrooms. Stir around very quickly for a minute, then add your garlic, onion, butter and thyme and a small amount of seasoning. After about a minute you'll probably notice moisture cooking out of the mushrooms and at this point add half of your porcini, chopped up, and the rest left whole. Strain the soaking liquid to remove any grit, and add it to the pan. Carry on cooking for about 20 minutes until most of the moisture disappears.

Season to taste, and add your stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 minutes. I usually remove half the soup from the pan and whiz it up to a purée at this point, then pour it back in, adding the parsley and mascarpone, and seasoning carefully to taste.

You can serve this soup as you like, but there are a few things to remember when finishing it off. Mix together a pinch of salt and pepper with the zest of one lemon and the juice of half of it, then spoon a little of this into the middle of the soup. When you go to eat it, stir it in and it gives a wonderful flavour. Other things you can consider are little slices of grilled crostini put into the bottom of the bowls before the soup is poured over. Or you could even quickly fry some nice-looking mushrooms – like girolles, chanterelles or oysters – and sprinkle these on top of the soup. If I was going to use truffle oil, then I would use it on its own – a few drips on the top just before serving.

Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pasta with Bacon, Roasted Bell Peppers & Peas

You won't believe how delicious this pasta is until you've tasted it for yourself! This is one of my favorite pasta dish and the last time I did it, I ate way too many helpings than I normally would cos it was just so flavorful!

The smokiness from the roasted bell peppers/capsicums, the sweet peas, the salty and fatty bacon and the cheesy cream that binds them all together - to describe it in Singaporean style - it was super shiok!

Not to mention easy! You can whip it up in no time, and here's how! 

Pasta with Bacon, Roasted Bell Peppers & Peas
(serves 4)

3 strips of thick-cut uncured bacon (you can use normal thick-cut bacon too), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 red bell peppers
3/4 cup of tiny frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 pound of pasta, preferably short, tubular ones like macaroni or penne
Black pepper

Roast your bell peppers until the skin is charred and black. You can place them in the broiler of your oven or over a grill. If you can't do either one, you can also use a skillet. But the charring would be less uniform if you use this method. Simply bring an your skillet (with no oil) on high heat. Sear the sides of the bell peppers until they are blackened.

When the bell peppers are done, put them aside to cool. Then, remove the charred skin from the capsicum. The flesh of the bell pepper should be tender but not mushy. Remove the seeds and cut them into small cubes.

Cook your pasta according to the package's instructions.

While your pasta is cooking, melt the butter with oil over medium heat. Cook the bacon in the butter for 4 minutes.

Add the peas and cook for one minute, stirring to coat well.

Then, add in the peppers, stirring for half a minute or less.

Add the cream, a pinch of salt and several grindings of pepper and turn up the heat to high. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cream thickens.

Toss the sauce with cooked, drained pasta, mixing the Parmesan cheese in at the same time. Serve immediately, with extra grated cheese on the side.

Best Blogger Tips