Monday, December 21, 2009

White Christmas 2009

A white Christmas is a good way to end a year as well as to signify a fresh start to the coming new year - with the snow dusting away the unhappiness in the past year and coating the land white, giving a fresh new start to the year ahead.

Throughout Europe with countless Christians and Catholics, Christmas is the most important day throughout the year - similar to the Lunar New Year for the Chinese throughout the world.

On this special occasion, the main streets in every town - big or small - are lined with makeshift stores forming the Christmas markets.

And I found a cute bread on sale in the bakeries - Dinkel Hearst. Even the hot chocolate drinks at McCafé was decorated with a nice cocoa heart. This is so endearing.... :)

Finally, I would like to wish all of you bloggees (bloggers blog, bloggees read blogs) a Merry and Joyful Christmas!

Bak Kwa Tip

I might be ignorant creating such a post here, but for the benefits of other ignorants around like me, here's an invaluable tip for Bak Kwa fanatics:

If you ever happen to land yourself a box of thick, fat glistening bak kwa while chancing upon an irresistible bak kwa sale or given to you as a present, here's a simple tip on how to make your bak kwa look and taste better!

*Bake them in an oven*

(1) Darker coloured bak kwa that looks more appetising

(2) During baking, the heat burns the disgusting fat globules on the bak kwa and reduces it to a layer of oil on the baking sheet

(3) The bak kwa looks thiner and tastes leaner as well!

The before-after baking photo (pretty obvious if you ask me)

When a Girl Becomes a Woman

As an aunt, I practically watched Alicia grew up from an infant into a 2 years old toddler. And on one fine sunny morning, I woke up to find Alicia all grown up with nail polish on her tiny fingernails!

Ah...the wonders of nature...never fails to amaze me! ;)

Project Soon Kueh

Soon Kueh is a traditional Teochew snack and being a 100% "pure-bred" Teochew, I decided to give it a go.

The recipe seems relatively easy but requires the cook to have both the frying and pastry making skills. While I am better at kneading doughs, I can't say the same with my wok frying skills. Hence, the Mother was recruited in this Project Soon Kueh.

Soon Kueh - 笋粿

Ingredients - Filling:
garlic (chopped)
shallots (chopped)
dried prawns (soaked and diced)
mushrooms (soaked and sliced)
yam bean (peeled and thinly sliced)
black soya sauce
oyster sauce
chicken cube
water (needs plenty as the yambean absorbs alot of water while simmering)

Ingredients - Skin:
300g water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs fried shallot oil (may add more directly to the dough if it is sticking to the palm)
200g soon kueh flour (can be replaced with rice & tapioca flour in a 1:3/4 ratio)

Method (Filling):
(1) Heat up the oil in the wok and stir-fry garlic, shallot and dried prawns till golden brown

(2) Add in the mushrooms and stir-fry till fragrant

(3) Add the sliced yambeans, stir-fry well

(4) Add the black soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken cube, pepper amd water. Stir well and leave to simmer over low fire till water is fully absorbed and yambeans are tender.

(5) Dish out and leave the fillings to cool before assembling with the skin

Method (Skin):
(1) Pour the flour into a mixing bowl

(2) Add the water, salt and shallot oil into a pot and bring to the boil

(3) Pour the boiling liquid into the mixing bowl and mix well with the flour. Do not pour the liquid all at once but knead and pour the liquid portion-by-portion till a smooth dough is achieved. Let the dough stand for 10 minutes.

(4) Turn the dough out from the mixing bowl and divide into 10 equal portions

(5) Roll the skin into thin sheets and cut into rounds

Method (Assembling):
(1) Wrap the fillings and seal the side to form a semi-circle

(2) Place the soon kuehs on a greased tray and steam for ~15 minutes over high heat

(3) Once cooked, remove from the steaming tray and brush with any remaining shallot oil (or just oil)

(+) The quantities for the filling ingredients are purposely left out as there's alot of room for flexibilities! For a lighter coloured filling, less black soy sauce should be added. If you relish a more salty filling, more chicken cubes could be added or alternatively, more oyster sauce.

(-) While rolling the skin, it should not be too thin as it tears easily during assembling.
(-) Try not to be too greedy with the fillings and leave some space for folding the skin over the edges

(=) With help from the Mother, the project became an obvious success! Received the thumbs-up from the Father!
(=) And not forgetting, it's quite a joy to be whipping up something delectable with your loved ones. :)

Kueh Bingka Ubi (Tapioca Kueh) - 木薯糕

Kueh Bingka Ubi (Tapioca Kueh) - 木薯糕

1kg tapioca
400g coconut milk
1 egg
150g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
100g melted butter
1 pc banana leaf

(1) Skin the tapioca and cut the flesh into small pieces

(2) Line a baking tin with banana leaf

(3) Pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend till a fine mixture forms

(4) Pour the mixture into the baking tin

(5) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 1 to 1.5 hours till a skewer inserted comes out clean

(6) Remove from the tin and leave to cool before cutting into pieces

(+) Easiest foolproof "dump-all-ingredients-in-blender" recipe for such a traditional nonya snack!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ebisboshi @ Iluma

While the world is still recovering from the latest episode of dramatic economic meltdown and I was just away for a mere short period of four months, the tiny island country was blooming and developing like never before!

Yes, I was referring to my homeland - Singapore. Just over a period of four months, there were already three new shopping centres - Ion Orchard, Orchard Central & 313 @ Somerset - added to the shopping scene along Orchard Road. At Little India, there's the much anticipated eco-friendly City Square Mall - a definite first in Singapore. And then there's Iluma at Bugis. And for sure, there'll be more sprouting out like crazy mushrooms in the months to come.

Question: And what do these new shopping malls have in common to the many existing ones?
Answer: The numerous familiar brands of clothings, accessories, restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies etc. 就如换汤不焕药.

Despite so, I managed to find a few new shops in these new premises:
* Prologue @ Ion Central - it's the upmarket 'relative' of the Popular bookstore family but Kinokuniya definitely has a wider book selection
* Filmgarde @ Ilumna - I hope they do show alternative movies apart from the commercially popular ones
* Ebisboshi @ Ilumna - a Japanese-themed restaurant very much like the Shokudo Japanese Food Bazaar and Marché but at a much smaller scale.

The visit to Ebisboshi was brought about after watching a recommendation of the restaurant by a local food program. I would have to admit that I was a little disappointed upon arriving at the restaurant. It was not as big as what I thought it would be from the television program and it doesn't help that there were only a few customers filling the tables. In any case, we decided to give it a try and were about to order only the finger foods when we were instead presented with a thick menu comprising of all the dishes from the various stores. This is different from Shokudo or Marché which requires the customers to order and collect the food at the respective food stores with all bills charged to a chip card.

And I must say our appetites opened up instantly while we were excitedly flipping through the colourful menu. The selections were so vast that we couldn't decide what to order! And the price was relatively cheaper compared to Shokudo or Marché.

Seafood fried noodles in tomato sauce - extremely appetising(超开胃!) and my friend ended up having to order another plate of sushi!

Similar concept to Don Buri except that the meat with eggs are separated from the rice - suitable for those who likes to keep their rice nice and dry. :)

So for sure, if I'm craving for Japanese food while in Bugis, Ebisboshi would be my top choice! Naturlich! :)