let’s start the year off nicely – with a recap of a great meal last year.
it’s going to be nearly another year before you’ll want to think about christmas again, but I’d like to insert a little brainworm so you remember your options when the time comes to make your orders again.
happy chinese new year to you and yours! may it be prosperous, delicious, and full of people you love and enjoy.
may your yusheng be tossed up with family and friends (and may it be full of delicious abalone or whatever fish catches your fancy).
and after you’ve got the most competent-in-mandarin person round your table to grace each ingredient with an auspicious phrase,
it’s a massive feast on my side, as it goes – the traditional steamboat replete with good marbled beef, succulent prawns, bouncy fishballs and lots of abalone; hainanese boiled chicken and the requisite auspicious dish of dried oysters cooked with mushrooms and fattchoy.
it’s a jolly good way to start the year (especially since the same good eating repeats at least six times in my celebrations).
when you’re ready to fill that tiny space always left for dessert – there are pineapple tarts and mochi and jelly and cake, and there are also marshmallow treats made by young cousins dipped in chocolate and crushed cornflakes, cheerio atop. and if that’s too much eating for you, perhaps a round of road crossing would help?
I could – I could really do with one of these right now.
last night, a crime happened. my innocent, soft loaf of delicious, seedy (not seedy but seed-y), wholemeal bread was ripped from its sanctuary atop my oven and tossed to the floor, packet ripped open, bits of plastic and crumbs everywhere. when I gingerly lifted it from its prone position, the bread slices fell out like the saddest flood of emotion.
the suspects of this violation? the cat from next door, or a bird – whichever animal which had come in early last week to do the same unspeakable crime to a piece of jerky we had left wrapped on the counter.
pray for bread loaves everywhere, everyone. I hope you get to eat a lovely breakfast yourself full of eggs and ham and delicious things!
p.s. as some quick instruction: flatten your slice bread with a rolling pin, cut into the four corners an inch inward, fit into a muffin pan, and fill with ham and cheese. top it off with an egg, and bake at 175c until jiggly but set. at the beginning, it’ll take longer than you expect, but it’ll finish faster than you’d think (the same can be said of the eating)!
it’s a lazy sunday! perfect time for a grilled cheese – especially since many of you guys must be feeling the cold weather. even hot-hot-hot singapore is going through a bit of a cold, wet spot.
grilled cheeses are really the result of technique rather than any exact ingredient choices; here, we took spinach and sauteed it with garlic and soy sauce, piled high our cheddar-mozzarella grated mix, and laid on strips of black pepper ham over our seeded rye bread.
if you’re making one, make sure you press the water out from your cooked greens, pile the cheese high (there’s no such thing as too much – anything that doesn’t stay in the sandwich forms a crispy tuile), and spread lots of butter on the two sides of the sandwich that meet the pan. you want to fry the bread – there’s no dieting here.
no one quite does hospitality like an asian – though it’s a compliment oft repeated for italians, Americans from the south, and whichever culture/ breed you belong to – and what better way that to experience it at (their) home, where food is piled high and ever-forthcoming for guests and family alike.
it’s not often we get the chance to peek into someone’s home, much less eat the food that defines their lives – but bonappetour is a new startup trying to blur that line between stranger and friend (or cook, depending on your perspective). run by a group of young friends, the company tries to encourage kitchen-surfing – go to a host’s house, and sit down to a good meal. the premise is simple, the execution uncomplicated, and the food great (though that’s surely dependent on your hosts).
I’ve aching arms to show for a game of squash, a big smile on my face for friday-night-date-night, and some photos to show you of the magnificently belly-busting barbecue I my parents hosted for some friends last night.
cooking duty went to the partner and parents, so I had absolutely nothing to do the supreme duty of snapping photos as the night went on. we had a beautiful dusky sky, giant squid-killer king prawns-lemongrass pork-sausages-‘n’-wings with a good spread of greens – and finished with bowls of grass jelly and a slice of coconut cake (recipe coming soonish!).
I hope your weekend’s shaping up just as nicely – and if not, you’ve got one more day to make it awesome!
p.s. boiled eggs are a surprisingly good filler while you wait for real meat to come off the grill.
p.p.s I’ve included some numbers after the jump just in case you were thinking of holding your own party!
I’ve already posted my current go-to recipe, and it yields a not-greasy, fine-crumbed, dry-like-a-good-tea-cake specimen of a butter cake – you can get it here.
now for some tips:
lining a strip of butter over the surface will help you control the crack of your butter cake – we’re talking about a 2-3mm width of butter down lengthwise. it’s not full-proof – the crack doesn’t always go where you think it should – but it does help produce a beautiful crack.
for a coffee marble, increase the sugar to 110g when creaming with the butter. proceed with the original recipe, but stop just before adding milk.divide the batter into two; to one half, add 0.5-1 teaspoon vanilla extract*, and to the other half, add (1 tbsp of instant coffee granules moistened with about 0.75 tbsp of water). you can up the coffee to about 1.5tbsp of granules for a stronger flavor, and remember to add milk to both batters for the magical one-thousand-two-thousand-drop.
dollop the dark and white batters alternately, and swirl through with a knife.
*you may omit the vanilla extract if you wish – but I think it makes for a more fragrant cake.
for a chocolate marble, repeat as above, but use 1 tablespoon of cocoa instead of the coffee: sift and fold into half of the batter before swirling.
for a durian butter cake, beat in 160-170g of durian puree (avoid the excessively fibrous bits) after you mix in the eggs, but before folding in the flour. continue as with the original recipe: fold in the flour and add enough milk till you get that plop.
I know, I know – what is this, the fifth butter cake recipe on the blog! but I am approaching butter cake mastery – and while I can’t bring you slices of cake, I can share my newly-learnt trick o’ the trade.
this one came out crazily fragrant with butter, sweetened just enough so you taste the cake for all its homely, buttery rusticity, and with a notable lack of smeary oiliness – it’s the perfect tea-time-whenever-time cake.
the ice-cream uncle of singaporean provenance is a little different from the western music-blasting music truck – but the technicolor iced product and children (and grown men) chasing it remain the same everywhere.
tastes like childhood – and for some (ahem, the partner), it just tastes like another weekend. have a great one!