Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reviewing the past, enjoying the present, looking to what lies ahead

Today, I chanced upon my blogs after trying to download a new browser as I have been having issues with Safari - wow, it's been 4 years since my last post ! I really should try to post more frequently, and not less.....4 years is a bit TOO long a break I think. It has been most interesting looking back at my previous posts & thinking about what had happened before.
Family photo taken August 2012

Many things have happened since that last entry in October 2009 - I have been to US many times more ( it's now a yearly visit ), been to Italy 3x since 2010 ( the food is amazing, so are the sights ! ), taken lots more cooking/baking classes ( both locally & in the US & Italy ), etc.

In fact, I just signed up for the "Waitress" class at Palate Sensations in 2 weeks' time - this is one of their movie-themed classes, featuring food inspired by the movie. In this case, it's pies - which are some of my favourite things to eat & make.
Kueh Lapis made by me in class at Palate sensations Jan '13

Anyway, since 2009, many food bloggers have come on the scene, including one of my favourites : ieatishootipost, by the well known Dr Leslie Tay, whom I believe has just wrapped up shooting a food series. Also, I have gotten to know dear Mrs Ergul, ( through our mutual love for food & making stuff & friends in common ) - do check out her lovely website where she showcases her baking & photography skills. :-)

A recent encouraging note from a friend
Recent health issues have also made me treasure the simple things like just being able to sleep & eat normally, and to have access readily to good & relatively cheap food in our little red dot. We definitely have much to be thankful for, but let us also not forget that "man shall not live by bread alone"( Luke 4:4 ) and live lives of discipline rather than giving in blindly to all our selfish desires and temptations. As our nation gears up for it's 48th birthday celebration, my prayer is that besides being well known for being food-lovers & tech-savvy, Singaporeans will also be known for our love and compassion to all, and our love for "whatever is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise"( Phil. 4:8 ).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Beginnings, Old Favourites

Hmm, just logged in & realised that it's been more than a year since my last blog entry...and my dear friend Angie has already returned from her stint in LCB Sydney & is a fully qualified chef ! :-)
You can check out her adventures past & present on her own blog.

So we had our second Singapore GP already, with more excitement & entertainment about 1 month back & this time the F1 party was hosted by yours truly at my home. The company was great, as was the food, but sad to say, this year my Ferarri team was nowhere near the top....what with Massa's horrific accident and all....well, there's always next year to look forward to I guess !

I am now just a couple of days away from my visit to the US - my annual "pilgrimage" to MA & NY, where I will indulge in some of my favourite things to do - like glass art/craft classes at the Diablo Glass School in Boston, as well as cooking classes in the Big Apple. This year I have booked not only an Italian cooking class at Micol Negrin's wonderful Rustico Cooking School, but also a class at the Institute of Culinary Education, where I will be learning the "amaizing" things I can make with corn ! No, I am not being corny (haha) but this was how they named the class : "You'll Be Amaized with Corn" ! :-)

Wonder if I will have time to actually rest....hmm, must schedule that in too....;-)

Really looking forward to revisiting some old favourites in both Boston & NYC, as well as finding new ones....look out for more postings on this blog ( yes, I promise you won't have to wait a year this time...LOL )

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Farewell dinner for Angeline

We had a really nice dinner to bid our dear friend & fellow foodie Angeline farewell last night. She is on her way to acheiving her dream of becoming a chef - 3 years at the Cordon Bleu institute in Sydney ! Wish I could spare the time & money to go too, but that will have to remain a dream for a while....
We had appetiser of Marks & Spencer frozen salmon rolls - a requirement by our hostess as part of our food tasting adventure. Personally, I found them okay - not exciting but edible & a good option if you are entertaining & have no time to prepare appetisers...not sure about the cost though. Anyway, it was soft enough to prove ideal for my current state of masticating disability. :-)

Thereafter we took turns to show off our culinary abilities - Angeline made a very nice vegetable soup and delicious saltimbocca ( pork rolled with veal ), followed by some great porcini mushroom risotto by Lynette and ending off with tiramisu prepared by your truly ( from Chef Daniela's recipe ).

We had a great time enjoying the food & company & even wore F1 t-shirts for the occasion ( being the first night of the inaugural Night Race in Singapore ), kindly "sponsored" by Angela.
Not being great F1 fans, we were content to watch the practice rounds on the telly.

However, as we were so busy enjoying ourselves, no photos were taken to commemorate the occasion....guess I will have to do that when we meet for the Ferrari party this Sunday at Daniela & Fabio's home !

Watch this space.....

Friday, September 26, 2008

Back to Baby Food

Just realised that it's been a lmost a year since my last blog....been very busy & a tad too lazy to keep up. However, since I had an unexpected break from work today for medical reasons, thought I'd get back to the business of recording my adventures in the culinary & gastronomic realm.

Actually, it's kind of hard to eat at present as I have just lost 2 teeth & my jaw is swollen & aching.
No, wasn't in a food fight or anything like that BUT it was the dreaded wisdom tooth thing.
Had been a very bad patient & did not do anything about my wonky 3rd molar ( it grew out almost perpendicular to the 2nd one ) until it made its presence felt. I started having pain for about a week & finally got them taken out 2 days ago. They were given back to me in a little plastic bag & looked rather disgusting even to a seasoned pro like me.
Deliberated over whether I should post a picture of them, but decided not to traumatise any poor unsuspecting soul who may have chanced across my blog & was expecting glorious food pictures instead of gore...

So it's back to baby food for I hope not to long....I miss my chewy & crunchy stuff !
Anyone has delicious recipes for soft food that isn't too "babyish" ? Let me know, ta.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ratatouille Revisited

It's been about 1 month since my last entry - have been too busy to blog. However, have attended some really nice classes since then, one of which was the special Ratatouille class organised by Palate Sensations some weeks back. This was inspired by that wonderful film & the instructor was Chef Philippe Nouzillat, from Brasserie Wolf.

Monday night found us at PS, all ready to recreate that french dish, which is essentially a vegetable stew, which was brought to our attention by the film. On the menu for the 3-course dinner was the starter of pumpkin soup, followed by the main course of roast rack of lamb with ratatouille, ending off with dessert of chocolate petit pot. I was very excited as all these were things I have not tried cooking before.

We worked in groups of about 5 to 6, and set about quickly chopping & stirring & searing, etc. Thank goodness I didn't have to cut the onions, but even though I was not doing it, we were all quickly affected by the pungent smell which brought tears to our eyes. Ah well, it was all worth the sweat & tears in the end ( thank goodness no blood was shed except for the lamb's ).
I was very proud of our pumpkin soup, which I had spent lots of effort stirring and then blending it with a stick blender ( gotta get me one of those now ! ).

The rack of lamb was also wonderful, seasoned just nice & was nicely complemented by the ratatouille, which was classic comfort food ! Now I know why Anton Ego in the film was so affected by the dish. Even though I did not grow up in the french countryside eating this, it reminded me of the comforts of home and a good home-cooked meal ! The chocolate petit pot was quite interesting, athough I think the one we were served was a bit runny & was not the one we actually prepared as they were all put together to cook & no one could quite remember whose was which. However, that is a very simple dessert to prepare, almost effortless, and would be something to remember for future dinner parties.

There will be other classes in future similarly based on food films ( we seem to be getting a spate of these films recently ), including 2 on "No Reservations" - one French and the other Italian. Unfortunately, I am away during those classes, so will have to do those next time. Have asked Lynette of PS to repeat those classes for my sake. :-)
Here's a picture of my group of ladies having the pumpkin soup out on the balcony of PS. Don't we all look happy & satisfied with all the stuff we made ? :-)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Naan But the Brave

Had a very interesting Saturday last week at the Family Day at my workplace. This is an annual affair meant to encourage employees to bring their family members & have a good time enjoying things like games & food & such. As usual, there were many food stalls run by the staff themselves, with an interesting array of cuisine from simple pancakes to good food from Myanmar. However, as I was there rather late in the event, most of the food was gone.

I had the pleasure, however, of tasting some very nice dishes from the Khansama Tandoori Restaurant. They were doing a roaring business, largely due to the fact that they were serving freshly made naan on the spot ! I was totally fascinated by the way that this lovely bread is made & so had to take some pictures to record this.
The chef took the pre-prepared dough, kneaded it to the right shape & consistency, then uses a clothed covered coconut husk to slap the dough onto the wall of the cylindrical tandoor or oven. The naan then cooks in this interesting oven ( which is essentially a stone or concrete cylinder with burning charcoal at the bottom and when it is done, the cooked naan is lifted out using a long hook. The freshly baked naan was heavenly - both the plain one as well as the garlic one. I has these with some very nice butter chicken, which was the only meat dish they had left. Their tandoori chicken & other stuff had already sold out by the time I got there.

This restaurant also delivers, as I was pleased to discover. Am definitely going to either go to the restaurant ( I got a $10 food voucher from them ! ) or order from their home delivery menu, which is very extensive.
Naan, anyone ?

Monday, September 10, 2007

All's Well That Ends Well

Last Saturday was the finale to the series on Basic cooking skills at Palate Sensations & as befitting the occasion, the topic was Plated Desserts. With the trend towards desserts taking centrestage ( we now have dessert restaurants opening here in Singapore, where the menu only consists of desserts ), it becomes a very worthwhile skill to have, knowing how to do plated desserts. what are "un-plated" desserts then ? Will have to ask Lynette or Francois that one. Funny how I only just thought of that...

Anyway, on the menu were the following :
Vanilla Creme Brulee
Passion Fruit Souffle
Chocolate Fondant

I was late again for the class ( had to do an emergency case at work ), so I walked in right when everyone was busy working on their creme brulee, which starts off with boiling cream. Later we would finish off the creme brulee by caramelising a layer of sugar over the top using a blow torch. Here's my finished product : it tasted great ! Now to experiment with other flavours at home - like green tea & sesame, which I have tried before in a couple of Japanese restaurants in Melbourne. Must ask Francois how best to do it.

Speaking of Francois, he had decided that the best way to gain control of his unruly students was to use a little bell, which he would ring each time he wanted us to stop whatever we were doing & listen to him. Felt a bit like Pavlov's dog after a while, but it was effective. This time, although the class was even bigger than last week ( one group had to use a side room to do their cooking ! ), we all managed to do the right things at the right time & everyone was successful in getting their desserts right.

Next up were the profiteroles, which are essentially choux pastry cases as in the eclairs & cream puffs, filled with ice-cream instead of pastry cream, and finished off with chocolate sauce & toasted almond flakes. Making the choux pastry was the hardest part as it required a lot of whisking & stirring - good thing we had 2 guys in the group who put in a lot of elbow grease ! A lot of team work went into this - including putting the finished choux pastry mixture into the piping bags and taking turns to pipe out the cases, plus maing the chocolate sauce. We all chipped in by doing our bit. We also had home-made ice-cream to put into the cases ( vanilla & coffee ! ), made by the chefs.

So with the all co-operation, this was my final product :
Tasted great, and this time around, the choux pastry seemed much easier to make. The home-made ice-cream tasted great - looks like I will have to drag my ice-cream maker out from storage again....

The last 2 items on the menu were rather more difficult & "exotic". I have never tried making a souffle, having heard all about how difficult it was to get one to rise properly. However, I am please to report that we managed to get ours done quite nicely, although this was after the first batch of egg whites refused to whip up nicely ( likely due to there being bits of egg yolk in it & the bowl being greasy ) & we had to redo the egg white mixture. The secret apparently is to butter the ramekins or souffle moulds very well along the walls as well as over the rim. This prevents the mixture from sticking to the mould & thus allows the souffle to rise unimpeded. Passion fruit is an excellent choice as the light tartness went extremely well with the sweetness of the souffle. t smells heavenly too - some of it got onto my recipe sheet & I can still smell the faint aroma of it. Still, I found the final product a tad too sweet as we had sprinkled sugar over the mould after buttering it, plus dusted icing sugar over the top of the cooked souffle.

The final dessert was my favourite : chocolate fondant, otherwise known as "lava cake" as it has a liquid centre which gushes out when the cake is cut. This recipe we used is the very same one that Francois uses in his restaurant, so we were very privileged to be able to use it. This was how mine turned out - I was rather pleased with it, although I kind of lost control with my tube of raspberry sauce, which resulted in a somewhat Tarantino-esque appearance of the final plated dessert. Nonetheless, it tasted great, all the more because it was made with much effort. Am definitely going to make that again in future - especially when I want to impress ! :-) Here's a picture of some of my classmates enjoying the fruits of their labour.

All too soon, the series of lessons has ended. I have learnt much & enjoyed myself thoroughly, making some new friends in the process. Am planning to sign up for the Intense French series, with a Gourmet Challenge at the end - gonna be fun ! On the final note, we also finished up our Mousse cakes started the previous week & this is how our raspberry one turned out.

I didn't get to taste it in the end since I was too full of dessert by then, and so I took it home. According to my siblings, it was very good. :-)