Monday, November 28, 2011

Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad

I borrowed Neil Perry's "Good Food" from the library last week mainly to look at the drool-worthy pictures.  Well, one of the recipes caught my eye, and it made a wonderfully light lunch for me today.  The recipe was simple and extremely appetising even though I didn't manage to get hold of all the ingredients listed in the recipe. 

Crab & Soba Noodle (adapted from Neil Perry's Good Food)
serves 4

250g picked fresh crab meat (I substituted with shredded chicken**)
270g packed dried soba noodles
1 red capsicum, seeds removed and cut into julienne
1 lebanese (short) cucumber, seeds removed and cut into julienne (I used japanese cucumber, worked out well)
3 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 handful mint leaves, rinsed (I left this out, couldn't find mint leaves in the supermarket)
1 handful coriander leaves, rinsed
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, lightly roasted (I left this out too)
freshly ground pepper

sesame soy dressing:
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce (I added a splash more)
3 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp finely diced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar

- Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until just tender, then refresh in cold water and drain well
- To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid, seal and shake vigourously.  Set the dressing aside. (I poured all the ingredients in a bowl and mixed with a small whisk)
- For the salad, simply mix the noodles, capsicum, cucumber, spring onion and herbs together, and toss gently with half the dressing.  Place the noodle sald in the centre of four serving plates.  Divide the crabmeat (chicken) among the salads, sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with the remaining dressing.  Give a good grind of fresh pepper and serve.

* You can exchange the crab for prawns, scallops, lobster or chicken.
** To prepare the chicken, boil a piece of chicken breast meat until fully cooked through (around 15-20 mins).  Set aside to cool.  Shred the chicken meat when fully cooled.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

Do you remember Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree series?  Recently my friend posted that she bought the book to reminisce.  I loved the whole series with the magical lands, Moonface, Saucepan Man, Silkie, the slippery slide, etc.  Wouldn't it be great if we can make pop biscuits?!  And toffee shocks would be perfect for Halloween! 

Today, I happen to be in the Land of Indecisiveness and Absent-mindedness.  It took me approximately an hour and a half to decided whether I should make a Triple Chocolate Muffin or a Chocolate Chip Muffin (Tough decision, rite? Don't roll your eyes!). 

Well, I finally decided to go with a simple Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe which I found on  While I was midway through measuring all the ingredients, I realised that I had sifted self-raising flour instead of all-purpose flour.  Yes, I know it's not a big mistake as self-raising flour is similar to all-purpose just that it has baking powder pre-mixed into it.  But given that I'm rather new to baking, I'm usually quite a stickler to recipes.  And I had absent-mindedly poured out 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips which isn't required in the recipe. Arrghh.....  

So due to my sheer brilliance, today's bake of plain chocolate chip muffins became Double Chocolate Chip Muffins! 

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins (adapted from
makes 12

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk (Based on others' comments, I increased it to 1 cup milk)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (Based on others' comments, I increased it to 1/2 cup oil)
1 egg
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup dark chocolate, 1/2 cup white chocolate)
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

-Heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease bottoms only of 12 muffin cups or line with baking cups.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, chocolate chips, and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, combine milk, oil and egg; blend well. Add dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy.)
- Fill cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops of muffins before baking with a combination of 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoon brown sugar.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 1 minute before removing from pan. Serve warm

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pasta Carbonara - The Nigella Way

The one thing I've learnt ever since I stepped into the kitchen this year is that organisation matters.  Yes, very much so!  It helps that your kitchen is organised, and it definitely helps if you read the recipe thoroughly and plan your cooking process.

I think everyone knows that I'm a huge follower of Nigella by now.  I've made her pasta carbonara 3-4 times already, and they have not failed me yet!  But the two reasons I like about making this dish are firstly, it's fast, and secondly, somehow I have the planning and timing all down to a pat ( I said, I have cooked it 3 or more times..), so it makes me feel.. ahem.. like a very experienced cook!

There were 3 things that happened in the kitchen today that made my life a little more exciting than usual :
1) I uncorked my first bottle of wine (I know.. this sounds so pathetic right? But there's always a first time for everyone! Mine just came 30 years late).  It was tough! I had to watch a video on youtube before I knew how to use the corkscrew.  The sommelier made it look so easy, but I took around 15 minutes to wrench the cork out!  That 15 minutes was probably more exhausting than my 45 minute swim this morning.
2) Fire in Pan! Usually when I add wine while cooking, it usually just sizzles and reduces.  Earlier when I was cooking the bacon, I poured the wine in too quickly and there was a huge flame that came out of the pan!  It freaked me out at that moment, but thinking back, that was so awesome! It's like how the chefs cook on tv.  Having said that, I probably won't attempt it again.
3) I've learnt how to plate my pasta using the twirl method. This is all thanks to blogger, Xiaolu (6  I was reading her tips on food photography and styling, and it works (though I probably need more practice!)!

Alright, enough of my rambling. And here's the recipe. I recommend watching Nigella's video before your attempt.  You'll find out how easy this recipe is after viewing the video.  Based on her video, I omitted the cream and nutmeg, and the pasta still tastes as good!  And less sinful.  The trick to making this dish fast is to cook your pasta first.  While it's in the boiling water, prepare the the beaten egg and parmesan cheese mixture and set aside.  Cut the bacon or pancetta into small pieces and set aside.  When you have about 4 minutes left of pasta cooking time, bring out the saucepan, heat the olive oil and start frying the bacon.  Everything moves like clockwork then ;)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pork Chops with Balsamic Mushrooms

I don't know if anyone would believe it, but this is one of the easiest meals I've ever cooked.  I found this recipe in one of  Donna hay's magazines - Fast 50 Favourite Things. 

What drew me wasn't the meat.. but the button mushrooms! Button mushrooms were my absolute favourite when I was a kid.. And I grew up on the Narcissus brand.. Yummy meal that took less than half an hour to prepare (marinating time included!)!

Pork Cutlets with Balsamic Mushrooms (adapted from Donna Hay)
I couldn't find pork cutlets at my local supermarket, therefore I used pork chops instead.
I've typed out Donna Hay's original recipe in here.

4 x 200g pork cutlets
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbs of rosemary sprigs (I didn't have rosemary, so I used thyme instead)
300g of button mushrooms

- Marinate the cutlets in 1 tbsp olive oil, crushed garlic and rosemary sprigs for 10 minutes
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat an cook pork for 6 minutes each side or until cooked through. (I only required 3-4 minutes on each side for the pork chops)
- Remove pork from pan.
- Add 1 tbsp olive oil and button musrhoom into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden.
- Serve cutlets with the mushrooms and drizzle with balsamic glaze to serve.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Latest Love - All Things Enamel

I'm starting to have a serious love affair with enamel utensils.. The past few weeks have seen us hunting for vintage kitchenware.  Unsurprisingly, it hasn't been easy finding vintage ware in Singapore.  The good news is that we have lots of enamel! And yes.. we've been raiding our little neighbourhood shops for these pretty finds.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Would-be Chocolate Meringue Pie

So I had an epic baking disaster today. 

I think this was probably the most difficult thing I've ever baked.  The recipe looked simple enough, like all recipes do when you first look through it, but I guess I wasn't up to it technically.

I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen making this pie.  I think I didn't get the consistency of the filling right.  The chocolate came gushing out of the tin like lava streaming down the sides of the volcano when I lifted the base up.  That's the deal with baking.  Sometimes the effort comes to nought.

I've just been hit by a disappointing turn of events recently.  Something which I thought I had in the palm of my hand suddenly took off, and away from reach.  Maybe it's not my time yet.  Maybe it's a way of telling me that I need more practice.  Maybe I have to learn to be strong, grit my teeth and deal with it.  I wish I had all the answers now,  but I don't.  Maybe this is life.  It's not about the situations that come along your way, but the attitude you choose to take when facing them. 

So I had an epic baking disaster today.
Am I upset?  Yes. 
Am I going to give up?  No way, Jose.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Banana Muffins Re-visited for a Visit


I am late in my blogging this week and I am feeling ever so hassled by probably my one and only ardent fan, my husband.  He has been reminding me everyday for the past couple of days to bake something to place on the blog.  

There is sort of an unspoken pact between my hubby and myself, that I should try baking a new recipe every week.  I'm ashamed to admit that this week I have not met my kpi (key performance indicator) [boy... doesn't everyone just hate this term! I used to sigh on the inside whenever my ex-bosses mentioned this term].  There were just errands, engagements that came along my way this week that I just couldn't ____________.  haha..  I'm sure all of you will know how to complete my previous sentence.

However, I did bake this week. For my grandmother.  I wanted to bake something healthier for her and banana muffins came to mind.  So, I revisited an old recipe, and made it healthier by reducing the amount of sugar.  Hmm.. can I say that I met half my kpi?? 


Friday, November 4, 2011

Mesclun Salad & A Walk in the Park

I had a major kitchen failure this week.  So, today, I decided to go easy with myself -- salad.

It has also been a strange week.  I was rather sickly and weak.  There were also many thoughts that came running through my mind.

This Tuesday, I went out to take a short walk at Bidadari Park to clear my mind.  I love that park for two simple reasons --firstly, we had our wedding photos taken there, so it holds a special place in my heart.  Secondly, and the main drawing factor, I love the tembusu trees.  I like their sturdy trunks, the strong branches, the whole structure of the tree.  I have to declare that they are my favourite trees.

Perhaps my liking for the tembusu tree is due to its simplicity. I love that they look so grand and sculptural even though these particular tembusus are 'balding'.  No frills. Raw, yet beautiful.

Yes, back to lunch today, simple and un-frilly.  Store-bought vegetables with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a quick grating of parmesan cheese.  Fresh. Simple. Beautiful.

Mesclun Salad
(serves 2)

1 packet of mesclun (mixed baby greens), rinsed and spun dry
1-1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
grated parmesan cheese

- In a salad bowl toss the mesclun well with the oil and drizzle it with the vinegar.
- Season the salad with salt and pepper and toss it well
- Serve with grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nigella's Chocol-oat Cookies

Have you ever woken up and felt yucks?  Well.. today, I'm feeling exactly that way.  Yucks.  And the worst thing about feeling yucky is that everything else gets all affected by your mood.  

I needed comfort food.. Lo and behold, I found it in a Delicious magazine, in the form of cookies!  So here we go, Nigella's Chocol-oat Cookies which she claims that no great dexterity is required.  After trying it out, I agree completely.  Super simple, instant comfort.

Chocol-oat Cookies (adapted from Nigella)
makes 20

1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
75g rolled oats
35g good-quality cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g unsalted butter, softened
50g caster sugar
75g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
125g milk or dark chocolate chips (depending on your taste)

- Preheat oven to 180*C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper
- Combine flour, oats, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soad in a bowl. Set aside.
- In an electric mixer, beat butter, caster sugar and brown sugar together until the mixture is thick and pale.
- Beat in vanilla, follwed by the egg, then slowly beat in the dry flour mixture. 
- When it is all mixed togehter, fold in the chocolate chips
- Pinch out handfuls of batter and roll between your hands to form cookies about the size of ping-pong balls.  Very slightly flatten them before spacing them wide apart on the baking trays and cook for 15-20 minutes.  (My batter was too wet to roll them between my hands. I spooned the cookie mixture on to the trays instead)
- When the cookies are done, they will have spread into big, flattish, but still squidgy discs.  They will feel soft to touch but will harden a little (not too much) as they cool.
Once they are cooked, but still soft to the touch, remove the cookies from the oven and stand on the trays for 30-60 seconds.  Then remove with a thin spatula or knife to a wire rack to cool.