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Showing posts from January, 2011

Decisions and Indecision

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We are faced with choices that we will have to make each day. Turn left or right? Wear dress or pants (applicable to females only)? Handbag or clutch bag (again applicable to females only)? Eat this or that? Black tea or green tea?

There was once I had this conversation with a close friend:

Me: "So have you decided?"

Friend: "Nah, I'm still sitting on the fence."

Me: "You know what happens when you sit on the fence too long?"

Friend: "Should I?"

Me: "Your a** gets skewered."

From the above, one might think that I am a decisive person. Well, I thought I was. Until I was faced with 5 different variations on a single recipe. My decision making process went out of the windows.

Should I make Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies? Date Oatmeal Cookies? Ginger Oatmeal Cookies? Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies? Nut Oatmeal Cookies? Orange and Almond Oatmeal Cookies?

Decisions, decisions.

And as if there wasn't enough choices already, I had to switch to my …

Main Course Salads: Soba Salad with Soy Sauce Dressing

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While tossing up this salad in the bowl, I realised the colours of this salad much resembled that of the Yu-sheng (鱼生) we would eat every year during Chinese New Year with all the bright colours.

But this salad has none of those sugar soaked, artificial colour coated bits of who-knows-what in it.


I was intrigued by the delicate lightness and well balanced flavour of the Wafu Salad I had at Tonkichi. We eat there at least once a month and had never noticed this salad.

When I got back from dinner that night, I reached for The Japanese Kitchen to check up the recipe for this Japanese vinaigrette. According to the author, Hiroko Shimbo, salad is a recent addition to the Japanese diet and this recipe for soy sauce salad dressing was always popular among her students.

Unfortunately, this soy sauce salad dressing was not quite the dressing used in the Tonkichi Wafu Salad. But it is a great dressing in its own right. I made it twice in two days, and on both occasions I had to increase the am…

Do You Know What Is Making You Fat?

Do you know what you don't know? Test your knowledge and see if you are sabotaging your own health.

Q1. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. True or False?

Q2. Fats = death plague. Avoid at all cost. True or False?

Q3. "Low-fat" or "Fat-free" products are healthier. True or False?

Q4. Carbs make you fat. True or False?

Q5. We should regularly detox our bodies. True or False?

Q6. Late night eating will make you fat. True or False

For answers to the above questions, go to the article from The Independent.

I had flagged the above six points because these are the advice/wisdom that people rattle all the time. Now we know better.

"Quick Bread": Loaf "Bread" - Cake Salé

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When I was still a primary school girl, a walk before or after class was always punctuated by a stop at our favourite bakery, Katong Sin Chew Cake Shop. (Photos of Katong Sin Chew Cake Shop from Camemberu). It would be impossible not to stop by. The wonderful smell of baking bread and cakes, would lure a dead from its grave. Back in those days, a simple buttercream cake would have brought a smile to any birthday kid. Not a day went by without people collecting their order of birthday cakes from them. My mom would be one of them on our birthdays.

I used to wander into the baking area pretending to look for a trash bin or linger at the doorway pretending to choose something delicious from the myriad of baked goods. There would always be decks of buns and bread on the cooling racks, rows of butter cakes in disposal aluminmum tins cooling on the shelves in the shop and a refrigerated display cabinet filled with buttercream-covered cakes and swiss rolls. In those days when money was tight, …

Main Course Salads

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Since my last post about salads, I have been diving into my books searching for salads that pack a bit more heft. And there are lots to choose from!

Someone asked on Yahoo! Answer "What are the components of a main course salad?" Unfortunately, there were only 2 replies to the question and neither one, in my opinion, provide a complete picture. One was whatever takes your fancy goes into the salad bowl, the other gave a list of a rather limited list of possible salad candidates.

Apart from being able substantial, a main course salad should also be a visual candy. A riot of colours, texture and taste. The last thing any hungry diner would wish for is a huge pile of bland and limp salad tossed together from tired looking leftovers placed in front them.

To my reckoning, main course salad should be (a) hearty and filling; (b) a one-dish meal; and (c) a feel-good meal. And the components of a main course salad should include (but not limited to):

~ Greens ~
Except for maybe carrot an…

Beef Chili with Pinto Beans

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Writing a post on chili is always challenging.

There is no turing back. Often by the time I am ready to sit down to the task, the pot of the said stew has long been emptied and left out to dry. I can't go back and re-sample the chili for a quick refresh of the taste.

There is no cross reference with anyone around me. I have yet heard of someone who eats chili here, much less about someone who knows who to cook a pot of it. Maybe some eatery do serve chili, but I doubt many try or take them seriously.



Except for someone.

And, strangely, that someone is my brother. He is definitely not a big foodie as I am, but he knows how to enjoy his food.

So it happened that there was once he popped into my place to have dinner and I gave him a bowl of chili. He eyed it skeptically and then upon recognising what it was, smiled happily.

He didn't explain why he was smiling when he tucked into the bowl of beef chili. He didn't have to. It took me a while and then I had this flashback of him comi…

Paying Up For Non-Generic Food ... For Now

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Just after picking up our little princess from her class the other day, we headed over to the Cold Storage at Great World City to pick up some grocery.

I have been clearing out the fridge of all the remenants, as well as many science projects, for the past week. But before I could pare the contents of my fridge further down, we ran out of milk. Running out of milk is an unacceptable situation in our household. Our little princess goes amok, and I can't bake (and go amok as well).

Since making the decision to give our little princess organic milk, we have been picking up cartons of them whenever and wherever we see them. Due to the much higher pricing, they are stocked only at selected supermarkets which are located in premium neighbourhoods with high disposable income. Great World City define their target market as being made up of families "with a monthly household income above S$10,000". Don't be surprised that Cold Storage at Ngee Ann City doesn't carry organic …

Chicken Ratatouille with Garlic Roasted Potatoes

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Our last trip to Hong Kong last November was ... unmemorable.

However, I did remember something delicious I ate onboard. I remembered because I snitched it from our little princess. I had to snitch because we were told that that particular meal option was no longer available. It was no longer available because the other option was dog food. Okay, too harsh on our national carrier. It was a terrible combination of something and something else, which I would rather forget. And it seems like I have.

While I had to endure looking at our princess enjoying her meal, I resolved that I will make something similar for myself once I returned to my kitchen.



When the stewardess came bearing a tray of what she said was "Chicken with potatoes", I eyed the covered dish suspiciously. Since kids get served first onboard, our little princess dug into it while we looked on curiously.



The name chicken and potatoes hardly do justice to the dish which came with a serving of ratatouille as well. I kno…

Portion Control

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Whenever I hear of words such as "dieting", "lose weight", "eat less", "less fats" and their likes, it makes me sad, even when I am not the person in the subject matter.

I enjoy eating and there are only three oppportunities in a day for such activities. Most times just two, in fact. I'm talking about meals, not snacks.

Imagine yourself enclosed in a dark cave all the time and you were only given three chances to exit the cave into the sunlight. Would you:

(a) slather yourself with sunblock, top your head with a hat and shield your eyes with sunglasses before stepping out?

(b) bring a timer to ensure you get a even tan front and back?

(c) run right out to see the world and the sky above for all that it is?

(d) stay in the cave?

If you want to make my day, just drop me your choice in the comment section.

I would definitely choose (c). Life is too short as it is.

However, I don't mean to say that everyone should not take necessary precaution agains…

Hoppin' John

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A few months ago I found foodXervices online and had gone to their warehouse to check out their wares. And it was certainly well worth the trip.

I came back carting bags of beans of almost every colour, pastas of almost every shape, pasta flour, exotic seasonings and many other this-and-that. It is almost like a cook's paradise, except that it is a warehouse and hence not as comfortable and glamorous as Cold Storage or even our local NTUC.

The pricing of their wares are at wholesale rate and they stock so many items that are hard to find in our supermarkets. Try looking for dried pinto beans or pappardelle pasta. They have both! Wholesale rate but retail size packaging. Best of both worlds.

However, a word of caution: Check the packaging of the food stuff for rice weevil. I found some of them in their dried pasta.

With so many beans in my pantry, I am digging for recipes on how to cook them. In my search, this dish of Hoppin' John came up since it was associated with been eaten du…

Red Bean in Green Tea Buns - Matcha Anpan (抹茶あんぱん)

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At recent trip to Mediya, I stumbled upon packets of prepared red bean paste sold alongside bags of mochi rice cakes that look and feel like tiny bars or discs of white soap. But they taste better than soap, of course! Once at a yakitori place, I had a small bowl of cold red bean served with just a single snowy white ball of mochi rice cake sitting right in the centre. Thinking to re-create the dessert, I grabbed 2 packets of the prepared red bean paste and a bag of the mochi rice cakes.

But today's post is not about that dessert, since I didn't take any photos of it as I hurriedly gobbled it down. Next time, okay?

The reason I grabbed 2 packets of the prepared red bean paste was that one was the coarse grain type while the other was the smooth paste version. Typical of me when I can't decide, I just got both.

I made dessert with the coarse grain version and it came close to what I had in the restaurant. I was so happy, until I realised I am missing the yakitori. Dang!

Anyway,…

Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli and Sun-dried Tomatoes

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Chicken, broccoli and pasta. It is the perfect one-dish meal one a weekday night. What's not to love about it?

Except that a jar of sun-dried tomatoes cost S$8.35 a 200g jar, which is as expensive as the pound of chicken breasts in the recipe. So would you rather buy another pound of chicken breast or the jar of sun-dried tomatoes?

Since my food resolution has been about eating more whole natural food, I should be picking up another pound of chicken. But because I was trying out this recipe for the first time, I wanted to know how it really taste like before I start messing around with it.

If you have been following my blog for some time, you would know that I am fearless when coming to messing around with recipes from Cook's Illustrated/America Test Kitchen. Just not this time.

The recipe for this easy pasta dish can be found at ~wingerz and I got mine from the Cook's Illustrated Annual 2005. I love their annuals.



In fact, pasta, broccoli and chicken seems to be such a perfect…

Hearty Vegetable Soup

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I love the weather at this time of the year. The sky looked overcast most mornings. And when I turned into our carpark in the late afternoons, there will always be a slight drizzle.

Rainy days give me the perfect excuse not to drive. Not that I ride without protection from the elements. Just that I need any excuse not to drive. I'm born to be driven and rue the day I decided to learn driving. What madness has possessed me?

Not driving out meant that I have to dig deep into the fridge and pantry. Actually, I don't have to dig very deep. These days my fridge is always filled to its brim. Hubby even joked that we don't need to paste anything on the fridge during Chinese New Year cos it is so full already. You see, during Chinese New Year people will usually paste the 满 word (Chinese: plentiful) on the rice bins to symbolise the hope that there will be plenty of food for the coming year. Guess I don't need that sticker.

Yes, I have the tendency to horde more food than we coul…

Roasted Tomatoes

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My mom has recently taken a fancy to eating foods that are definitely not native. But the irony is that she cooks typical local dishes for as long as I have eaten her cooking. And that's where I, her only gluttonous daugther, come in. Her other offsprings are foodies but not much of a cook.

During one of those afternoons when she came for a visit, she spied a book on my table and started flipping through it. And when she was done, she declared that she would love to visit Italy and eat Mediterranean foods.

Me: "What would you like on your pizza?"

Mom: "Artichokes."

Me: "What would you like in the pan sauce?"

Mom: "Capers."

Me: "What would you like in your pasta?"

Mom: "Olives."

So when we found we had too many cherry tomatoes in the fridge, I decided to roast them. Just tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and capers. And, of course, salt and pepper. Generous amounts of them.



After about 45 minutes of roasting in a 180 degC oven, the resul…

Food Forecast for 2011

Happy New Year to all my readers!

As always with the beginning of the year, it is a good time to lay down some food resolutions going forward.

2010 food resolutions were short and sweet. Simple but yet challenging in their own ways.

The year saw me buying lots of free range meats, organic milk, Omega-3 eggs and natural cheeses. They are definitely more costly, but being able to know for a fact that I am feeding our bodies with the most nutritious food available is worth it.

The manifesto of eating whole natural food is challenging when it comes to snacks and grains. I am still feeding our little princess lots of junk and also I can't seem to make a switch to whole grains. It is the wiring of this pair of brains I am carrying around. I'm still looking for a manual over-write.

While I have certainly been making more of my own foods than buying, there is still room for improvement.

Also in the year, I did the Cooking The Cookbook experiment. It was alot of fun and got to try out recipe…