Saturday, March 31, 2007

Yorkshire Puddings with Grilled Portobello Mushrooms in White Sauce

The fun thing about a generic recipe like the Yorkshire pudding is that you can spice it up and experiment with variants. I decided to use a shallow and broad dish (a la Lawry's) ) to bake the Yorkshire puddings this time around instead of a muffin tray as I felt that a broader pudding would act better as a base for the white sauce and portobello mushrooms.

1. Yorkshire pudding batter
2. Baby portobello mushrooms
3. Olive oil
4. Plain flour
5. Butter
6. Spices
7. Milk
8. Cream
9. Soup stock

1. Drizzle some olive oil and add a scatter of salt and pepper to the baby portobello mushrooms before pre-grilling them
2. Set mushrooms aside and keep warm covered in foil

3. Prepare the white sauce, I use a very simple guesstimate roux of flour and butter

4. Once the roux is slightly brown, add in abit of half-and-half (equal amounts of milk and cream)
5. Add salt, pepper and spices (I threw in a bay leaf) to taste
6. Thin the sauce with soup stock till desired viscosity is achieved
7. Spoon the white sauce into the freshly baked Yorkshire puddings and top off with the grilled portobello mushrooms

Hint: While the sauce is being kept warm on low heat and your Yorkshire puddings are rising away in the oven, use the opportunity to fry your steaks

And there we go, a crisp Yorkshire pudding filled with tender and succulent baby portobellos and a rich and creamy white sauce.

Just the thing to go with your steak. Serve hot!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Siang Hee, Zion Rd, Singapore

This was a pretty pleasant find, especially since it's only a short drive away and has been under my nose all this time. I was already feeling pretty pleased when I sat down in the spartan coffeeshop atmosphere with the ubiquitous television serial blaring in the background.

We started off with the Marmite porkribs. Turns out Marmite is similar to Vegemite, a vegetable extract that has a pretty unique salty flavor. These ribs were like a less sweet version of the typical "sweet and sour" but I appreciated that twist in the flavor.

Their specialty beancurd looks extremely familiar having eaten it at some supposedly classy Chinese restaurant and again at a country club. Their version actually tasted the best so far! There was enough flavor in this and the use of smaller beancurd cubes only increased the surface area for a better crisp. I liked the use of shimeji mushrooms in this as well.

Although the liver used in the "liver with special sauce" was fresh and not overcooked, I just didn't fully appreciate the "special" sauce. It had a confused flavor. I'm starting to venture away from "special" sauces for awhile since it seems that they are basically random concoctions of some sort.

The dish I was waiting for the whole evening; crispy pork knuckle. Ok, I've had authentic German pork knuckles in German pubs and restaurants but I've always had an affinity towards the Chinese variant where it's basically deepfried (not roasted). Why? It's not about supporting home brand or anything but the German ones tend to be too salty or the crackling would be too hard. I reckon Asian pork crackling is still the best. This was as crispy, greasy and tasty as it looks. Mildly seasoned with salt, pepper and five-spice powder, this goes great with beer.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Basil Alcove, Fortune Center, Singapore

I've heard some good things about this place and have always wanted to check them out. After procrastinating for quite awhile, I finally got myself down to see if they're as good as touted to be.

I may be a little biased here because I've just had a really fantastic bruschetta at Zanotti's but the bruschetta here, was at best, slightly above average. The tomatoes were too tart and the bread base too hard and crumbly, the olive oil with balsamic vinegar on the side was a nice touch but almost impossible to dip into without losing some of the topping. It would have been better if it came with a little drizzling spoon.

Although we got off to not the best start, it started to pick up very quickly. The chicken caesar salad was really quite delicious. They are very generous with the well-marinated grilled chicken and the addition of raisins to the salad was quite fun as well. They don't skimp on the dressing here either which is great since I love every leaf with a nice coat of that anchovy-based caesar dressing. Just wished that they would add some croutons to this though, maybe I'll try their conventional caesar the next time and see if it comes with croutons.

The grilled lamb comes in two double-cut French cutlets. It's nice and tender if you order it medium-rare. You may slice it saggitally and use the rib bone as a handle to eat it like a drumstick. The mash was made from real potatoes (i.e. not instant mash powder) and still had a very slightly coarse texture to it. I thought that canned pineapple and green beans were rather odd an accompaniment to lamb; it turned they were just the standard sides that came with everything else.

The grilled duck had a nice aromatic smokey scent and flavor. The charred margin of fat was indeed quite delectable. It came with a scoop of pesto and some other sauce that didn't affect the dish much since it's tasty enough to eat on its own. The best part about the entire meal was the price which came up to only about 50SGD! The only gripes I would have about this joint are the lack of air-conditioning and desserts but I'll definitely still be back to sample the other things on the menu.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Popeye's Chicken, Changi Airport T1, Singapore

Now I have another reason to come to the airport besides leaving the country. This stuff is pretty good for fast food. Most importantly the food tasted fresh and although fried foods can't be totally absent of grease, the oil used did not have that "been re-used a billion times" sort of taste.

The Cajun chips were actually more salty than anything. Didn't really taste much Cajun spices in this but they were crisp and flavorsome. The buttermilk biscuits are really like savory scones and they're served with jam. But to each their own, they are great for dipping into the mash gravy as well.

The chicken pieces here are signifantly larger than what you get at the Colonel's and because of the high turnover, the chook doesn't sit too long under the warmer to dry out. The chicken breast piece was pretty enormous and still rather juicy within. The quality of the fried chicken here sort of reminded me of the good old days when KFC was actually a restaurant, the food was brought to you, served on porcelain plates and the cutlery wasn't made of plastic. Anyone else remembers this?


Friday, March 23, 2007

Hong Kong Ginger Milk Custard

With the gaining popularity of Hong Kong style desserts and such dessert shops popping up all over the island, I decided to make some of my favorite ginger milk custard. This recipe was given to me by a close HK family friend and is used for commercial purposes (thanks again!). This stuff is so simple to make that once you've mastered it, you'll be kicking yourself for paying 3-4SGD a bowl.

1. Fresh milk (full cream please, low-fat is poison)
2. Ginger (old ginger is best)
3. Sugar


1. Slowly warm milk in a saucepan over a medium flame, stirring constantly to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pan
2. Add sugar to taste
3. Bring to a boil and set aside to cool

3. While you are waiting for the milk to cool, grate some ginger and squeeze the juice out into a bowl

4. Put about two to three teaspoons of ginger juice into each bowl (about rice-bowl sized)

5. Pour the milk into the bowl
6. The milk should be warm enough to be uncomfortable when you put your finger in but not scalding
7. Set aside to cool at room temperature, after about 10-15 minutes, the milk would have set

Hint: Adding more ginger juice will give the custard a firmer set but will also inevitably impart more spicy ginger overtones

That's it. How easy is that? A custard that doesn't require any steaming or eggs. This can be served warm or chilled but do not prematurely chill it hoping to set it quicker. The enzymes in the ginger juice which cause the milk protein coagulation react best at room temperatures. Enjoy!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lawry's, Paragon, Singapore

When you think of a good slab of meat in Singapore, two words normally come to mind (no.. not "D's House"): "Lawry's" and "Morton's". This meal at Lawry's however, was slightly disappointing. The breads weren't served warm and the butter wasn't thawed-soft either. Not the best start.

The spinning bowl salad was never a big favorite of mine, the dressing is still quite tasty but I'm not a big fan of beetroot.

But all the other bits doesn't matter as long as the slab of meat is good. I'm not fussy with the frills (although you would expect them to be decent in a place like Lawry's) as long as my meat craving is satisfied. The 450g Diamond Jim Brady was still pretty decent although the Yorkshire pudding was pretty dried out.

The other main ordered was this grilled salmon (who goes to a steakhouse and orders fish?). I had a little nibble as I don't normally care much for salmon but this was normal. Definitely not terrible but not the best I've tasted either. Somehow, after this most recent visit, I don't think I'll be mentioning "Lawry's" and "Morton's" in the same breath for a while.


Mini Fu Cuk

When I saw the bold words on this pack from a distance, I was like "Whoa!", somehow another word comes to mind. I admit that this was bought purely out of amusement. I was hoping they would taste like fish crackers since I saw fish in the ingredients and these mini fu cuks did look crispy.

Gosh were these bad. The oil tasted rancid, the flavor confused (is it supposed to be sweet or savory?), it just didn't taste right. I guessed in the end I was the one who got "fu cuk-ed".


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cheesy Sausage Fillo

Making this sure reminded me of those college drinking nights where the feed only needed two prerequisites: salty and greasy.

1. Fillo pastry
2. Egg yolk
3. Cheese(s)
4. Sausage (s)
5. Butter
6. Sesame seeds

1. Lay the fillo pastry out in sheets, they are very thin and break easily so I used three sheets for a base and two for every subsequent layer
2. Butter and brush egg yolk on the layer
3. Add your cheeses (I used shredded cheddar, mozarella and Kraft slices)
4. Throw in the sausages (bratwurst and viennas)

5. Butter and spread egg yolk over the complete product and scatter some sesame seeds on top
6. Bake in the oven at about 150degC (non-fanforced) till golden brown

There you go, looks like some grotesque giant sausage roll haha. Does it look ugly? For sure. But does it taste good and do the boys like it? Hell yeah!

Melted cheese and sausages encased in a crisp pastry. Bring on the Heinz catsup and mustard!


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Venezia, Fifth Ave, Singapore

We were intending to head to the Tea Party but didn't realise that they are closed on Tuesdays. As a backup plan, I remembered this Italian gelato place at Guthrie House (just round the corner) where I bought a few tubs of ice-cream quite a few years ago.

I've never actually dined in at this place and the hard steel chairs were definitely quite different from the soft suede sofas at the Tea Party but since we were up for some form of dessert, in we went.

As with most gelato joints, they have quite a wide selection of flavors ranging from the simple chocolate and vanilla to the more exotic (local?) ones such as durian.

We weren't exactly feeling adventurous tonight so we went for the "safe" flavors of chocolate, rum and raisin and durian. The durian looked "yellow" at the counter but it appeared as white as paper when it was served. The color was so dubious that it prompted my dining companion to ask the waitress, "Are you sure this is durian?" Well, first taste proved that it was durian, but it's a light sort of durian-taste, not too bad a dessert to initiate first-time durian eaters to I reckon. The chocolate was decent and so was the rum and raisin. The waffle was not bad but I still prefer the batter used at Gelare's.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mini Star Fermented Beancurd, Geylang, Singapore

Funny how this is the first time I've noticed that Xin Chai is known as Mini Star in English. It's hard to find fermented (smelly) beancurd in Singapore and other than this joint, I don't know where else I can satisfy my occasional fermented beancurd cravings.

Although the texture is consistently quite good here, the flavor and smelliness is still alot less robust than the ones I've had in Taiwan and China. Still, it's pretty decent overall and goes well with the chili sauce and pickles.

Deep-fried large pork intestines are getting pretty rare in Singapore as well. I remembered the first time I had this was in pre-1997 Hong Kong from a street stall, a feeling and atmosphere that can never be found any longer. So it's almost pretty nostalgic eating these tasty, crisp and chewy entrails.

The first time this was ordered was purely out of amusement and boredom but it was surprisingly good. Freshly made and fried on the spot, it was served piping hot.

The best part about each fried dumpling was a steaming hot, decent-sized, whole shrimp laying within. This is definitely joining my dining repertoire of dishes for this joint.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Kazu Again, Singapore

Some friends were in town, as it was a weekday and I didn't have much time to think over where to bring them to for dinner, I decided to just stick to the safe, trailed and tested Kazu.

We had the usual, started off with the angler fish liver in ponzu sauce.

And the whole array of grilled food on sticks, or so-called over-glorified (and over-priced?) satays as we so-called named them haha. Here's the asaparagus wrapped with pork belly.

Foie gras on a stick. The only thing that beats char-grilled foie gras on a stick is char-grilled foie gras in my mouth.

Chewy chicken skins with a crispy edge, salty and greasy. What more could one ask for?

Grilled mochi develops this amusingly bloated shape.

The shimeji counterpart of the asparagus pork belly wrap.

My personal favorite, the pork and apple is a must-have everytime I'm here.

Grilled beef tongue, chewy and beefy. This had a really nice meaty bite.

Wagyu on a stick. Wagyu on anything has to be good.

The squid was grilled to perfection, nicely glazed and caramelized on the exterior but still tender in the flesh.

We ordered these triangle rice sandwiches for fun and amusement because they resembled those rice cakes you see on Japanese cartoons. They come in spicy shrimp, salmon and pickled plum if I'm not mistaken.

Finally Kazu has somewhat of a decent dessert. The snowdrop is basically ice-cream encased in mochi. What a sweet way to end off a meal.

Here's one for the statistics. About 64 sticks in total this time; almost a record breaker. Maybe next time...