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A Few of My Favourite Things!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

WCB 38

Our television cabinet contains shelving to hold the audiovisual equipment. These shelves are about 25cm high, plenty of room for holding what it's designed for, however a cat would have to almost get down its elbows and knees to fit in there.

But, we have very determined cats. The other afternoon, while entertaining friends, I heard a scrabbling noise and turned to see two remote controls come flying off the shelf. Bella had managed to crawl into the narrow space head first and was busy making space for herself and rotating her body around to face the front. I think she looks uncomfortable but she seemed to be quite content.

Visit
Eatstuff for the round up of WCB 38.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Iced 'The Rouge Metis'

You don't need to be a tea connoisseur to have heard of Mariage Frere, with many bloggers having waxed lyrical about their divine products.The post that caught my attention however was posted on Kuidoare where J. posted a photo that displayed the teapot of my dreams. It was the very shape that I had been searching for, with the platinum glaze and the cast iron lid only adding to its beauty. Whether I would be able to afford it or not, I knew that A. and I would have to visit Mariage Frere while in Paris even if it was just to gaze upon the teapot.

The sweet scent of mingled tea flavours assaults your olfactory senses as soon as you step foot in the door. The number of teas on offer is quite overwhelming but we managed somehow to choose four different types, including the Marco Polo.

We have only tried two so far, The Blanc au Jasmin and my favourite - The Rouge Metis. This red tea is very sweet smelling and contains berries, lavendar, currants. Although it tastes great brewed in the usual fashion, we love chilling it and serving it cold from the fridge with red tea ice cubes. It's perfect for the humid weather we are currently experiencing.

And yes, we did travel home with the teapot :-)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Our Singaporean Food Adventure!

Okay, I think this is the final update on my trip. We had a brief stopover in Singapore on the way home &, of course, went in search of some good food!!! We managed to fit in kaya toast & nasi lemak for breakfast, spicy soup noodles from a halal food stall during a break from shopping and some noodles accompanied by really tender beef brisket from Lau Par Sat that was on the bland side.

Of all the meals we had though, the most memorable one from this trip was at Sin Huat Seafood Restaurant. I searched out this place after reading about it here. Despite the warning to show up either really early or really late to avoid the crowds, only two other tables were taken when we arrived. As there were only two of us, we only wanted to order the crab beehoon, however the chef/owner seemed a little put out and kept recommending other dishes that we might like to have as well. I love suggestions (which is why I like reading other people's reviews), but when I'm made to feel like I have to order something...well, that doesn't go down as well. We ended up with a half-dozen steamed prawns, crab beehoon and gai-lan knowing that there was no way that we were going to finish it all, with the chef himself all but admitting the same. But, hey, you don't want to displease the guy who was going to be cooking your food, right?

The prawns were juicy and tasty and the gai-lan suitably garlicky, but the highlight was the crab beehoon, which was loaded with flavour. I did find that he was quite heavy-handed with the oil but maybe that's why everything tasted so great. It was disappointing however to see half the meal being left behind because there was just too much of it. I was glad later on in the night that I hadn't eaten more though because the food made us soooo thirsty!

Sin Huat Seafood Restaurant
659-661 Geylang Lorong 35
Tel: 6744-9778

Sunday, February 19, 2006

WCB 37

They must be dreaming about being big cats, sitting amidst the long grass in the savannah, surveying their kingdom. Maybe having just finished off a recent kill... a gazelle perhaps?

Friday, February 17, 2006

One of my favourite cheese sandwiches...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Chinese New Year Celebrations: Hawker Stalls

Chinese New Year festivities came to an end with the full moon on Sunday after 15 days of celebrations. One of our favourite events during this time of year is the Hawker's Stall market that is held on the banks of the Yarra River in front of Crown Casino.

The usual Chinese acrobatic, musical and martial art performances are held on a stage specially constructed for this event however, for us, these merely serve as a backdrop to the main event.

We tried some fragrant nasi lemak and tender chicken and beef satays. We also had something that I thought was labelled 'Pulut Inti' - glutinuous rice with spicy shrimp filling. Can someone tell me if this is the correct name? The coconutty chendol was just right for quenching our thirst on this warm Sunday afternoon, my favourite part being the gula melaka syrup they squirted onto the shaved ice as a final touch. Also, I finally got to have my ice kachang. I've been looking for this dessert everywhere, but no one was serving it because it has not been warm enough. I'm really not a big fan of sweet corn, but I love flavours of rose water and evaporated milk mixing together - divine!


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Broccoli Soup

During his childhood, my husband was fortunate enough to do quite a bit of travelling with his parents. His mother, a journalist, was often invited to conferences and young A. skipped school to tag along to exotic places such as Turkey, Syria, Greece and Jordan, living out of a suitcase from one swanky hotel to the next. Part of this experience, of course, meant that room service meals became the norm.

In general, these meals tend not to be ground-breaking in their execution nor are they, generally-speaking, comforting home-styled dishes. However, there is one dish that has remained in A's memory, one meal that he has spoken of often with fondness - broccoli soup. Now, he doesn't remember exactly where they were staying at the time (he was only 8 years old, after all), but thinks that it was either at The Sheraton in Istanbul or The Marriot in Athens. Both A. and his mum enjoyed the soup so much that they put in a second order for it.

It almost sounds like too simple dish to invoke such strong memories but seeing as it's been with him all these years, I wanted to recreate the soup for A. This task was, of course, made difficult by the fact that although he remembers that it was a wonderful soup, there aren't too many other details to go by.

I started out by steaming two heads of broccoli and boiling several small potatoes until tender. The onions and leeks were cooked until softened, then 2 tablespoons of flour were added and cooked for a few minutes. The onion/leek mix, broccoli and potatoes were added, together with salt, pepper, dried basil, to about 4 cups of vegetable stock and pureed until smooth. The verdict: we both loved the way the soup turned out - thick and creamy without the need for any dairy. This one's a keeper!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New Year Celebrations in Paris!

Yes, this post is way late, but I'm still catching up on posts from our trip...

We spent New Year's Eve in Paris but instead dining at a swanky restaurant and joining the Champs Elysee crowd for the fireworks, we chose to have an intimate dinner for two at our hotel room. That morning, we left our bottle of Veuve Cliquot to chill (the balcony was colder than our bar fridge) while we gathered our menu items from a little place located on a little side street just off Rue St Honore. They had scallops, sea urchin, prawns, crabs and a host of other delicacies to tempt us but we (only) ended up purchasing a cooked lobster, seaweed salad and some caviar.




The hotel kindly provided us with dinner plates, champagne glassess and cutlery, and we were set to go! We laid everything out on a tray and sat on the bed for a simple, fun hotelroom picnic - just the two of us.


We chatted, read and watched television while waiting for the countdown, then rushed out onto the balcony when the clock struck 12, with me wrapped in a thick blanket, to clink our glasses of champagne and gaze at the firework display.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Wasabi Pea-Crusted Barramundi


It looks like I'm not the only one who has been getting into wasabi peas lately and this is a snack that is definitely moreish. Whilst the peas are not as potent as wasabi paste itself, the vapourising heat can still catch you out unexpectedly. Cuttlefish and shrimp flavoured peas are also available but where would the excitement be?

We loved the fresh barramundi fillets from Garfield Fish Farm last time and picked more up over the weekend. The fillets were coated with crushed wasabi peas (mixed with some cuttlefish peas), salt and freshly ground Sze Chuan pepper before being pan-fried. Crunchy texture of the skin contrasts with delicate white flesh, but with fish this fresh it's hard to go wrong.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

WCB 35


We brought back some organic produce from this morning's Farmers Market at St Kilda as well as bread from both Phillipa's (Chocolate Cherry Loaf) and Baker D Chirico (Pane di Casa) only to discover that Bella is a real foodie...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pistachio, Raspberry & White Chocolate Biscotti

I bought the December issue of Bon Appetit before leaving for my Europe trip, with the idea of baking some Christmas cookies for family & friends. I read through the magazine and only ended up ear-marking a single page. This recipe drew my eye each time I flicked through the magazine, the full-page picture showing off the bright green pistachios and ruby red dried raspberries against a pale biscuit, but I just didn't get the chance to bake before jetting off.

When I finally managed to turn my oven on last weekend, this was the first batch of cookies that went in. Although you need to bake it twice, these are some of the easiest cookies that I've ever made. The dough takes all of 5 min to combine before being shaped into 2 logs. The logs are cooled after baking, then sliced and baked again. I used some Pariya semi-dried sour cherries that were a little too alcoholic-tasting to just snack on in place of dried raspberries. These tasted wonderful in the biscotti but they lacked that brightness of colour that would have contrasted so well against the base. Oh yes, I also substituted the coconut extract for the almond extract because I really dislike the flavour of almod extract.

I cannot commend these biscotti highly enough! Definitely my favourite out of the 3 types of cookies that I made this weekend - although the vanilla salted peanut cookies come pretty close. What made them even more incredible was the chocolate that I used to coat them - Callebaut 54% Dark and Valrhona Ivory White. Expensive? Yes, but I think it's well worth it!

Pistachio, Raspberry & White Chocolate Biscotti
3 cups AP flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup sugar, 3 large eggs, 2 tbs olive oil, 2.5 tsp coconut extract, 3/4 cup shelled pistachios, 1 cup dried raspberries/strawberries, 1/2 cup white chocolate
  1. Beat sugar, eggs, oil and coconut extract until well blended.
  2. Add flour/baking powder/salt mixture and beat until smooth.
  3. Stir in pistachios, dried fruit and white chocolate
  4. Drpo dough by heaping teaspoonfuls into 2 12-inch long strips on baking sheet and shape with wet fingers into 3-inch wiode log.
  5. Bake at 175C for 30 min until lightly browned and firm to touch.
  6. Cool logs for 30 min then cut each into 1/2-inch thick slices. Stand upright onto baking sheet, spacking about 1/4-inch apart, and bake for 20 min at 170C.
  7. When cool, dip into melted chocolate and chill 30 min until chocolate is set.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Hediard

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Pastries and Macarons from Pierre Herme

Okay, I'm still catching up on our holiday adventures!

Instead of busying ourselves with tours of galleries and museums and visiting the Top 10 sites listed in guide books, this time we defiantly struck out in search of new foods to try instead. We visited La Maison du Chocolat, Laduree and Pierre Herme and tasted their intricately-decorated pastries for the first time.

Of the pastries, my personal favourite was probably the Plaisir Sucre for two reasons. One, the sensational chocolatiness minus any cloying sweetness. Two, the construction, as well as the differing textures, of the layers which consisted of a hazelnut dacquoise base topped with a milk chocolate spread, dark chocolate ganache and thin dark chocolate sheet twice over, whipped chocolate cream and finally another thin dark chocolate sheet. Maybe one day I will feel brave enough to try making it at home, as Keiko has done. The Surprise Yu dessert, stewed and raw apples with yuzu with yuzu cream enclosed in meringue and wrapped in orange cellophane, is also pictured here (back) but this really was not to my liking. The other pastry worth mentioning is the Isphahan (not pictured but you can see what it looks like here) from Laduree, fresh raspberries and lychee and rose-flavoured cream sandwiched between pink meringues - unusual and summery flavours.

Of course, we also had to try the much-heard of macarons. We picked a number of flavours from both Pierre Herme and Jean Paul Hevin, but our favourite by far was caramel à la fleur de sel (A: "I would go back to Paris just for these!"). Fortunately, A had the forethought to ask for two of these! The most unusual and strongest flavour was truffe blanche et noisette. Although the earthiness of the truffle flavour was certainly unusual and unexpected in a macaron, it did not prevent us from enjoying it.