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"Quick Bread": Pancakes

I know. Since I had earlier denounced the use of the term "quick bread" in my earlier post , I really didn't want to use this misnomer. However, I realised that I need to keep this term for several reasons. Firstly, the term is short and handy. Secondly, most of my books have a separate section entitled "quick bread" and if I start calling these baked goods by any other name, I might have problem tracing the original recipes later on. Thirdly, we time starved creatures like anything that is quick right? Let's leave this confusing state of affairs to some other days when I can hear myself think. After two years since I wrote the post about my love-hate relationship with buttermilk , the situation still has not changed much. But I attribute that to my own laziness and lack of organisation. As you can see, I still love making and eating buttermilk pancakes. I just have to find a way to resolve this. For the sake of the carton of buttermilk sitting in the

What's A Quick Bread?

If pulling out a mixer to cream the butter and sugar is someone's idea of quick, I won't mind having my forehead branded with the word "BUM". Sorry, overdose of Slave Hunter . That is exactly where this banana bread recipe was listed in the "Quick Bread" section of Joy of Cooking '97 ed. I can't claim that I was conned into making this thinking that it was quick since I have made this before . But, quick or not, this recipe is a keeper. Just remember to go easy on the sugar. But I am curious to know what actually does "quick bread" mean and where do we draw the lines between this, the cake and the bread? According to Epicurious food dictionary , it means "bread that is quick to make because it doesn't require kneading or rising time. That's because the leavener in such a bread is usually baking powder or baking soda, which, when combined with moisture, starts the rising process immediately. In the case of double-acting b

All I Want For Christmas Is ... Another Christmas

It is the 27th Dec 2010. And I missed Christmas already. *sob* I missed the festive mood, the feasting and most of all being able to spend time with the family. But the part I don't miss: the post-feasting dilemma. My pants feels tight and my poor fridge is threatening loudly to self destruct if I don't cut down its load soon. I am declaring the kitchen is still closed until we clear out the leftovers or I have finally gotten over the holiday blues, the earlier of whichever. I need a piece of Christmas stollen now.

Days Leading to Christmas

Just a quick update on what I have been up to these days since my posts are so infrequent. (1) Days leading to Christmas are usually crazy. We will be having the usual Christmas dinner and apart from preparing food, I need to clean my house. Badly. We have ordered our festive goodies from Werner's Oven and fervently hope that this year's fare will be as good as the last. We do not have a Plan B. (2) Flu bugs are upon us. We are dropping off like flies. Our holiday gifts? Flu virus. (3) Running around. I have been shuttling between my place and my mom's. She's got it bad from the virus and needs lots of TLC. We even got her a fruit juicer to cheer her up. By the time I call it a night, I am better off dead than alive. Our dinners these days look like this. Simple and easy on the stomach. (4) Reading. Whenever I could manage to find pockets of free time, I sit down to Ruth Reichl's Not Becoming My Mother . Non food related. I got my copy from the library.

Bread Making Notes - Flour, Yeast and Books

Question: If you are making a loaf of bread, would you use self-raising flour? (1) Yes. It is still flour, right? (2) No. They sell bread flour for such stuff. (3) Maybe. When I don't have anything else on hand. (4) I don't make bread. If your answer is (4), what are you waiting for? Start making already! Or bribe somebody to make it for you. For your info, I can be that somebody. Or get one of those bread maker machines, despite that they yield funnily shaped loaves. The question seems like a no-brainer to me. Or maybe I am too simplistic. If I am making bread, I would go for bread flour. Ditto for cake, unless the recipe specifically calls for plain flour. The world is now so spoon fed, so don't fight it. Just go with the flow. You following me? Now, I would like to point you to last Sunday's article which appeared on the "Ask The Foodie" . Perhaps due to space constrains the columnist was not able to write more on the subject. His article probabl

Eating On A Budget

Last night I went to bed with Jeffrey Steingarten's wonderful book The Man Who Ate Everything . I consider myself lucky to be able to read TWO chapters before I had to go attend to our little princess's nightly sleeping ritual. Usually before I am able to warm my seat reading a book, our little princess will come and try to get my attention in the most unruly way possible in her books. We are working on this issue. But not getting anywhere, unfortunately. Anyway, the first chapter last night was Staying Alive. A very interesting essay exploring the possibility of living on a subsistence budget without the sacrifice of good eating. (Subsistence: the means of support life, usually referring to food and other basic commodities.) The essay reminded me of the article I wrote back in October 2008 about the S$36 a month in meal vouchers each of our needy folks receive here and ask if anyone can survive on it. Back then everyone was about belt tightening and bootstrapping. Now, as t

Stewing Over iPhone Photos

This hideous picture came out of my iPhone. I just can't make them come out any better than this. Arghh ... I give up. Beef stew is something that I make often and it most probably is my holy grail of my cooking journey. The goal has always been the same - a bowl of thick stew laden with chunky vegetables and hunks of meat that yields to the slightest pressure from a spoon. A bowl of comfort and contentment in the hand. But looking at the photo for this stew, it is anything but comfortable.

Soft Pretzels

I came across an article from NY Times about making soft pretzels the old fashioned way and also another in Salon where they report that people are giving the pretzels a face-lift . Just look at them. All bronze and prefectly shaped. Their look make me drool over my keyboard and filled me with envy. I can't really recall where else on this island one would be able to see pretzels other than Auntie Anne's . And at Werner's Oven too, of course. I must confess that I am not much of a pretzel person even when there was a Auntie Anne just below my office for the past 9 years. I doubt I bought more than 5 pieces of anything from the little shop. Pretzels are ... pretzels. They are nice but somehow taste foreign in my mouth. Much the same way I catagorise the chapati. Then I gave it a try. Make my own, that is. Please excuse this food snob here. I still believe that if I want anything decent, I will have to make my own. Or that it has to be from a reputable establishment.

Traditions

From my window at dusk "Traditions must evolve - otherwise they become acts without meaning, fossils from dead civilizations, relics of a past that remind us of where we were, not where we're going." - David Mas Masumoto, Holiday Meals. I have been seeing pages after pages of articles about Thanksgiving and then suddenly at the flip of a certain switch now they are all talking about Christmas. It is quite baffling for me since Thanksgiving is not in my culture, the day (which falls on 25 Nov this year) was a non-event to me. However, any sort of celebration involving food is always interesting to me, and presumably you as well. Celebrating Christmas is something that I can relate to. Not for any religious reasons though. We are Buddhist. But I rationalised that it doesn't preclude us from feasting with the family especially when good food establishments start pushing their Christmas catalog your way. I can't exactly remember when I suggested to my mom that v

Carnivore Sauce

(photo taken from Cook's Illustrated website ) What's not to love when you have a plate like this placed right in front of you? Maybe the glaring fact that you WILL overeat will give you pause. Even our little princess was lured to the table and ate an adult portion despite her dislike for anything with tomato in it. I told her that the sauce over the pasta is called Carnivore Sauce because the variety of meats that went into the pot. Her eyes lit up with a those meat-loving twinkle. I was fully prepared to slave away at the stove just to find out what exactly is an Italian Sunday Gravy. When I read the recipe , I couldn't believe my eyes. Firstly, I need 4 types of meat for this sauce. And secondly, I don't have to brown all the meats. I sent up a prayer silently. It is strange. I have never regard myself as a reglious person, but being in the kitchen seems to make me so. The prep work took less than 15 minutes. I know cos our little princess popped into the

Good Read: Walter The Baker

I swear I will never be sick of children's books which has a theme revolving around food. And from what I have Googled, it seems like there is not lack of books in such catagory. *Grin* I stumbled across this book when I was standing around at the very rowdy children's book section of Kinokuniya (I really pity those overworked shop assistants who would have to pack up that section at the end of the day! I wouldn't wish it on anyone.) while our little princess was busy picking out a book for herself. I was getting impatient and started pulling out books and shoving them in front of her face. Me: "How about this?" She: "No." Me: "How about this? It looks ... interesting." I didn't think I sound very convincing. She: "No thanks." Me: "How about this one? Looks ... exciting." Yeah, I am that pushy. She: "Nope." Me: "Look, we haven't got all day here ... " My eyes roaming back to the bookshelf to

Ice Box Loot

Do you like pot luck gathering? I do. I love it. As a guest at such gathering, you end up eating something which you do not expect or would not normally eat. As a host/hostess, it takes the whole load of stress of food preparation off your shoulder, except for some coordination of the food that your guests prepare to avoid duplication. It could get competitive. Possibly ugly. Men. *Roll eyes* Anyway, during such gathering we always would volunteer to bring a cooler box loaded with chilled drinks. Trust me, most host/hostess would thank you for it. They might even kiss the ground you walk on, if they were desperate. Our cooler box is big enough for a toddler to sit in it and splash around with some ice cubes. One of best thing about bringing a cooler box? We usually end up bringing home a lot more than we had brought along. Sometimes we ended up with ice cream. During our Brunch , we ended up with yogurt. The other day, we ended up with bottles of beer. I had devoutly prayed for some

Savoury Cheese Muffins

Yesterday, I saw an article on The Sunday Times about more supermarkets here are offering a wider variety of cheese in response to the increasing local demand. I'd say it's about time! I grew up on pale soft square slices of so-called cheddar cheese , often found on my breakfast plate in those ungodly morning hours during my school days. I was just too sleepy to even want to know what I was eating. This was my only exposure to cheese until Pizza Hut came along with mozzarella cheese and wedges of Laughing Cow cream cheese started popping up in the supermarkets. It was pathetic. Years later, I still buy those highly processed sliced cheese from time to time despite their almost barely there cheese taste, for our little princess' palate is simply too unaccustomed to the taste of real cheese. And I thought that her immature palate was the only one I had to deal with. Until I met blue cheese. If you Google blue cheese , you will most probably see words such as "pungen

Kimchi Fried Udon

I've made kimchi fried rice , kimchi pancakes as well as kimchi stew and am still constantly looking out for more ways to cook with this fiery delectable stuff. I thought I saw somewhere that you can make kimchi gyoza too. When I saw the bags of udon and kimchi sitting in the fridge, I thought might as well match-make them ala yaki udon style. This is the perfect example of my home cooking style - unconventional fusion and unsystematic measurements.

Good Read: Bee-bim Bop

Whenever I watch Korean drama, I will crave Korean food. Scenes of diners digging heartily into bowls of piping hot soups/stews, hungrily shoving white rice into their faces and the myriad colourful side dishes on the table. I am HUNGRY! I think there is some insidious subconsious brainwashing message embedded in each episode of those drama serials. Well, that's my conspiracy theory at least. In hopes of our little princess joining us in our Korean food craze, I found Bee-bim Bop to be the perfect book to rope her in. She was so intrigued by all the ingredients that go into the dish and had asked me to prepare it for her. Each flip has illustration that spread out over the 2 pages and the reading is simple enough for her to read by herself (with a little help of course). At the end of the book, there is also a recipe for making bee-bim bop. I am always on a look out for food related storybooks which made Hubby to question my ulterior motive - was it really for our little p

I Am Here But Not (Quite) Here

What are my excuses for being missing for the past weeks? (1) Just back from Hong Kong. Disappointing trip. Air pollution, heavy human traffic EVERYWHERE, high cost of living, and most of all, food sucks. The Hong Kong I remembered had all these as well but to a lesser degree. The street food was really good then. Every corner we turn, we would find something interesting and yummy. On the plane there, I had hopes of recapturing those delicious days, but I was just plain wrong. 4 days there seemed like eternity. (2) Been busy reading books. The last trip to Kinokuniya saw me carting 11 books out of the store. That was last month when they had a sale. Tomorrow (17th Nov) they are having another sale and I have already made a list of books to pick up. Will someone please cut up my privilege and credit cards? (3) Photos in camera and not in laptop. Lamest of all excuses. Yes, I am that lazy. I have just managed to upload some food snaps. So do check back with me again. These probably

Gnocchi

I have never thought of myself as impressionable. Well, not at 32. But yet, in a recent shopping trip, I found myself saying to Hubby:"I want to get the dress/top/bottom similar to the one the actress wore in [name-of-latest-Korean-drama-to-have-graced-my-tv]." By the way, I have finally laid my claws on Slave Hunter ! If only I could say the same of on lead actor's six-pack. What a hunk! It is truely terrible for the producers/directors to cast such attractive actors in a drama, I get so distracted and Hubby distraught. Korean dramas are evil. Then I found myself opening up a pantry cabinet stuffed full with cans of diced tomatoes. It took me a while to recollect why I actually I bought them in the first place. That's what Korean dramas do to me. They filled my brains with hunks. The cans of diced tomatoes were earmarked for the recipes from The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles . After flipping through the book, I started conjuring images of piping hot pasta t

Cream Scones

I think I might as well rename this blog Simply Scone since they appear ever so often here. I know you have read it before but I feel I need to say this again - I love scones. There ... I feel better already. Okay, let's get down to this curious thingy that I have here. One look at it sitting in the multi-coloured spotted paper muffin cups, declare itself anything except scone. But it is a scone, my friend. Don't let the looks deceive you. So how did the scones ended up in the paper cups? Well, I had initially wanted to freeze the whole batch of scones. The decision to freeze it made it necessary for me to portion out the scones rather than to do the usual method of patting it into a circle and scoring it into wedges. I did that for the cranberry scones for our brunch previously. As the dough/batter was quickly sticky, I didn't fancy rolling it out on a flour board and then wash the board, roller, cutter AND mixing bowl when I could get away with washing just a spoon A

Never Judge A Book By Its ... Title?

I don't know about you, but I am the sort of person who hates spending time searching for things that go missing. But have said that, anyone who knows me will know also that I am quite a disorganised person. That's quite oxymoronic, isn't it? That brings me to this recipe of Baked Chicken with Fennels, Tomatoes and Olives, which I had earlier made it to a raving success . I thought it would be nice to have the dish again. Then disaster struck. I lost the recipe. Lost as in the recipe just vanished without a trail. And the stupid me had totally and conveniently left out where is the source of the recipe in the earlier post. Just great. I spent hours flipping through my cookbooks and searching the internet to come up with nothing. So I stuck those chicken breasts back into the fridge and mope around until dinner time came around. Then I flipped More Best Recipes hoping to find something to do with those chicken breasts. In its Cooking For Two section I found a recipe w

Ikan Billis - The Easy Way

I just learnt a new trick to crisp these fellas up in the oven. Horray!! No bothersome frying with oil. I still can't shake off my experience of frying these way back ago . I had wanted to make porridge to go with it, but the porridge just never did turn up in my pot. Maybe my pot is just not magical, afterall. So in the meanwhile, I am chomping these down as snacks. To crisp ikan billis in oven: (1) Choose clean and preferable headless ikan billis. (2) Rinse a couple of time to rid of unwanted particles and also wash off excess salt. (3) Lay to dry on paper towel and press another paper towel on it to remove excess moisture. (4) Preheat oven to 200 degC and lay a baking sheet with aluminium foil. (5) Spread the ikan billis out evenly on the baking sheet with minimal overlapping. (6) When the ikan billis is slightly coloured, remove from oven and redistribute the ikan billis for more even baking. Total baking time should be about 15 min.

Learning To Slice

I need a bread slicer . I need it now! Hubby just butchered my latest loaf. It is driving me up the wall to see those uneven slices. Arghhhh .... Either that, or I have to go apprentice in some bakery.

Breakfast Challenge

Breakfast is by far the most challenging, and hence often forgone, meal in my house. Getting myself out of bed, regardless of whether it is 7 am or 12 noon, is already a chore enough. Getting our princess out of bed is also another. Do I need more on my plate? As a result, we usually just go with the liquid breakfast. Milk for the two of them and tea for myself. That's it. Yes, it is a sorry state of affairs. And I doubt that things will change anytime soon ceteris paribus. However, one morning I just craved for something sweet. PMS, maybe. And was I glad to have these blueberry scones in the freezer. Yes, they are scones and they have appeared here many times. I can't help it. I just love scones. I can't remember which recipe I had used for this batch of scones, but I know it is either from Cook's Illustrated or Joy of Cooking. Both just taste good. But then again I am partial when it comes to scones. The recipe from Cook's Illustrated can be found here and t

Idle Time

I had just finished a Korean drama, "Pasta", and was quite intrigued by the sign that the restaurant in the show would hang after it had closed for lunch till dinner time. The sign simply said: "Idle Time". But as someone who has worked in a real Italian restuarant before, I know that the time in between has nothing to do with idle. After the last lunch diner leaves the restuarant, wait staff and kitchen crew would start the prep work for the dinner shift, albeit at more relaxed pace. I would like to think that I am on idle time currently too. My cooking has recently been shifted a gear down. Most of my spare time now has been split between catching up on my readings and also trying to cope with our little princess academic progress in school. Her teachers have warned us that the pace of school work will be kicked up a few notches as they start preparing the kids for primary school (!!!). As I have been schooled the mainstream way, I found myself at a complete loss

Repetitions - Bread

Finally, I've nailed this down. A bread which I am able to call my own. Or rather a bread whose recipe my overcrowded brain is able to recall without missing an ingredient. At least, not yet. The original recipe came from the Japanese website and I tweaked it slightly to streamline the process (read: to facilitate laziness or cut corners). Athough I love my white bread, a little fibre in the bread is always a good thing. So I added a little dash of wholemeal in the dough. Just a little. So here's my streamlined recipe: Measure 250g bread flour , 30g wholemeal flour , 60g plain flour , 4g yeast , 4g salt and 30g sugar . Empty into mixing bowl of standing mixer and turn on lower speed to mix evenly. Measure 270g milk (cold and full cream; straight out from fridge is fine - really!). Pour into mixing bowl. Mix with a dough hook on medium speed. While the flours are getting hydrated, measure out 30g of butter (+/- 10g; I like more when working with wholemeal flour). Set

A Scoop Of ...

Ice-cream. It has been on my mind quite often these days. Especially since I bought these cute little ice-cream makers by Tupperware. Although the easiest way to go about it is to just buy an ice-cream maker from Cuisinart, I just can't bring myself to buy a single purpose equipment much less think about where to store it in my tiny kitchen. But all hope is not lost, for I've learnt that people do make ice-cream long before Cuisinart makes ice-cream makers. What a discovery! I'm doing some research and hopefully get to experiment with it once our little princess is done with her cough. Sigh ... But in the meanwhile, I made this. When I saw this, I asked our little princess if she would want some ice-cream. Her whole face lit up brighter than a bulb. Then reality hit her and her eyes were full of suspicion. She leaned closer for a sniff. And then, she said: "This is not ice-cream!" Her eyes were full of accusation. I love doing that to her. I would think

Hawker of Yesteryear

Go grab today's copy The Straits Times and read "Singapore's amnesia of the taste buds" (ST, 22 Sept 2010). Recently I found myself repeatedly saying to various different people that the hawker these days are more interested in counting money than cooking the food. It is hard to find good food these days. But then again how do I define good food? I am not too sure if I can articulate that well but here is what I found online which sounds closest to my way of defining good food. "Good food means ... tastes, looks and smells delicious, is fresh, wholesome and pure, has nutritional value and will do no harm if eaten in moderation, is produced by methods, traditional or modern, the producer would be proud to show the public, has had minimal processing, has been humane in the keeping and slaughter of animals, has minimal chemical content, contains no unnecessary additives." I think for the purpose of this post, let's restrict to the first half of the desc

Nicoise Salad

Did you know that salad is now the new bubble tea in Singapore? Execpt that it is a whole lot healthier. Healthier?? Okay, maybe not healthier. But definitely a whole lot more fibre. There. A more politically correct statement. For the longest time, salad to me was: (1) just a lazy cook's way of adding fibre into the menu. I mean, come on, you don't even cook your vegetables? Maybe it is just me who has been brought up eating 99% of my vegetables cooked.; (2) more for decorative purposes on a plate than as a side dish. In short, I never took salad seriously. But now I am a lazy cook myself, I am looking at salad with a whole new set of glasses. Especially after trying them out during my sampling of the Gourmet Cookbook and my Cooking The Cookbooks - The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2007 . Suddenly I realised that I do like salads for the refreshing taste and do they make a difference in a meal experience. Or that they could actually be a meal by itself. Like t

Sour Cream or Yogurt Coffeecake

What is a coffeecake? I had no idea. So I googled it. Coffeecake: a cake or sweet bread usually served with coffee. Oh ... okay ... .That was ... erm, enlightening. Now, what is a teacake then? Alright, that's another story for some other day. Today it is about coffeecake. I found a small tub of sour cream sitting in my fridge. I find such surprises everyday in my fridge and wonder constantly who the smart alec was to stock the fridge with such stuff and conveniently forgot about it. Oh look! I found a round block of Provolone cheese, too! Chucking the cheese back into the fridge, I looked at the tub of sour cream. Possibilites race through my mind. Nachos? Baked potatoes? Rosti? Nah ... I was in a mood for something sweet. Which doesn't happen often these days. Flipping through JOC, I stumbled upon this recipe. I love serendipity, don't you? By the time I sat down to eat the cake, it was almost 10pm and it just didn't feel right to pump caffeine into th

TV To Table

Just the other day, I was watching Chef at Home and the guy on the tv started frying up some potatoes. Princess and I looked at the tv for a while and then at each other. Princess: "Mommy, I wish I can have some of that fried potatoes." Me: "Yeah, I wish for some too." Then after a while of staring at the tv, the chef, Michael Smith, poured some garlicky dressing over the pan-roasted potatoes. Princess: "Noooooooo ... That is yucky!" Me: "Yeah, way too much garlic for me." I am no vampire, but one whole head of it??!! Princess: "Mommy, can you make the potatoes for me without the yucky sauce (referring to the dressing)?" Me: "Well, I do have a bag of baby potatoes ... " 20 minutes and many splatters of oil later, we were happily munching on the crispy potatoes. Princess ate hers with her favourite mayonnaise and we ate ours with the reduced garlic version of the dressing.

Repetitions - Salsa

Lesson learned: Ultra-chunky salsa = bad idea when eating with taco chips. Unless your taco chips are made of sturdier stuff than just brittle taco. This is easy to put together once I fished out all the ingredients from the fridge. The rest was just pure knife-work. So depending on how fast you flash your knife, I put it together in about 10 minutes. I had listed this on my Repetition list for a few reasons: (1) we love anything with salsa; and (2) it is a handy dish to bring when going for casual gatherings. Burgers with salsa topping, grilled meats with salsa on the side, and nachos are just some of the ways with salsa. I love the recipe so much I tacked it on my fridge door!

Digging for Pennies

Wondering along the magazine aisle of Cold Storage yesterday afternoon, I happened to spot a copy of the Time Magazine sporting a picture of a barlett pear on its cover. After scanning through the article of Who Needs Organic Food , I put down the magazine and returned the carton of our usual fresh milk which was sitting happily in my grocery cart and picked up an organic carton costing almost 3 times more. Crazy? Yes, I think the price definitely is but I can live with myself better for giving Princess milk that is free from growth hormones and antibiotics. Ditto for meats. Cold Storage at Great World City offers Free Range beef and pork. For chicken, so far I found the Sakura chicken offered by NTUC to taste reasonably chickeny and pricing affordable. Here's a post from ieatishootipost about the Sakura chickens here . Now, I have to go dig out the errant pennies from the washing machine and under the sofa to pay for the increased grocery bill.

Weekly Bread

This is the typical loaf that comes out of my oven these days. Princess asked me why the bread always have 3 humps (think camel humps). I told her I haven't the fainitest idea. I just followed the picture of the recipe . The first time that I turned out a soft and cottony bread was somewhere in Jan-2008. Since then, I hadn't baked bread often enough to nail down a single recipe which I could put together without a reference. As I go on with my practice, I realised that I have alot of leftover bread in the freezer which I need to find something to do with. Well, that is a good problem to have right? And also I have even ventured into adding wholemeal flour to it. Just like how I incorporated brown rice into out diet. Just a little, that nobody would be bothered by the addition. Myself, I don't like brown rice nor wholemeal flour for the taste and texture. So I had to sneak it in without being noticed. *Clipped from NYTimes* So after reading this article about white bre

Typical Salad

These days my salad usually look like this. Topped with lots of avocado and drizzled with generous amount of Vietnamese Dipping Sauce. And when there are some Barlett pears to spare, I'll just drop some slices in for some pockets of sweetness. Fruit and vegetable salad combo! My new love.