Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging #263 - Round-Up

This week we play host to Weekend Herb Blogging. Been a crazy week with all the technology stuff failing on me. Missing emails and crashing firmware... lucky enough the WHB entries were all retained. (or were they?) Hmm...

First up we have Brii  Valsorda - Garda lake -Italy, with her lovely Lussekatter - St Lucia Buns 

Very interesting custom in Scandinavia. I always love the story behind our (traditional food fare). Simple to make and must be very tasty from the looks of it! Why not bring a taste of Scandinavia (and tradition) to your home this Christmas?

Next up is Haalo with Black Lentils and Speck Crostini.

Flavourful lentils paired with speck (what's this? Read Haalo's entry!) is definitely a great match! I love the suggestion of having an layer of goat cheese. Definitely will taste awesome.

Cinzia from Cindystar has a Sparkling Happy Holidays cocktail to tickle our palate as we welcome the festive season!

Cindy included an interesting write up on promengranate and included a quick recipe to this drink. Promengranate happens to be my favourite fruit of 2010... and I will cheers to that.... with this sparkling cocktail!

Anh from A food lover's journey, Melbourne, Australia, brought to us Poached stone fruits with jasmine and chrysamthemum flowers.

Colourful and I believe totally flavourful with all the fruits and flowers combined together. Love the cheerful outlook that this drink brings and I am sure the fruity and floral essence will perk up your day too!

 Yasmeen Healthnut from Ohio, USA brings to us Cranberry Upma.

Yasmeen shares her insights on cranberries and some of her favourite dishes and variations of how to prepare the berry! Very enlightening indeed! A South Indian dish with cranberries? There you go! Fusion at it's Christmas best. 

And last but not least, Janet from Toronto, Canada present to us, African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew.

African cuisine with a touch of creativity! Janet shares some tips in whipping this unique dish. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Peach Mousse with Chocolate Crumple

This was part of the round-up for WHB last week and I thought it was really interesting. And since a get-together BBQ was happening, I decided that I should contribute to desserts!

The recipe was adapted from Cindystar.


Serves 8/10 cups:

1 kg peach/apricots (since peaches and apricots are very pricey here in Singapore, I substituted it with canned peaches. Will use half fresh/half canned fruits the next time round.)
70 g butter
70 g sugar

for the crumble: 

100 g finely chopped dark chocolate (use at least 70% cocoa. I used a 74% one for the extra bitterness)
100 g finely chopped naturally baked almonds. Pecans would be great too.
100 g soft butter (salted)
90 g flour
50 g caster sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

- Drain the canned peaches and put them in a large pan with butter and sugar. Cook about 20 minutes until the butter and sugar melts into a thick syrup on low heat. Set aside some for garnishing and blend the remaining. Let cool and store in the fridge. Add a teaspoon of brandy or cointreau (orange liquer) for the extra kick.

- Mix butter with flour, almonds, sugar and cocoa powder. 
Use only the tips of your fingers while mixing. The trick is NOT to melt the butter. I used a block of chocolate. Use a chopper to finely chop the chocolate by hand. Do not use a electric chopper. It will melt the block because of the heat. Add chocolate, mix well and let the mixture in the refrigerator to harden. 

- Coarsely spread the mixture on a baking tray (lined with parchment paper) and bake at 150° for about 30/45 minutes. Set your oven on fan mode if you can. Crumble halfway through baking with a fork. Continue baking till the crumble is dry. Take care not to burn the crumble.
- Divide peach cream into cups, cover with the crumble and garnish with a slice of peach.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CSN Stores give away!

CSN Stores contacted me about hosting a give away on my blog!

I first noticed CSN Stores when I started visiting other blogs and I am pleased to tell you that someone here is going to win a $50 gift certificate for anything from dinnerware, to cork flooring, to slipcovers and diaper bags!! With over 200 online stores to choose from, you will definitely find something to spend your one-time-use CSN $50 gift certificate on!!

As many of you would know, I am a sucker for good dinnerware. I believe eating is a wholesome experience and what's better than to be able to serve your wonderful food and fabulous wares?

to magnificent glasswares,

I am sure you will find the ideal cookware that you need. The voucher can also be used in other sites which sells many many things which you would find useful!

This offer is for addresses in US and Canada only as CSN stores only ships FREE to these two countries. However, Singaporeans you should be able to use VPost! Or get your friends who are in these countries to help you with your purchases! It is a saving on top of savings!

All you have got to do is to email me at @huan and tell me how you are going to use the voucher. A ballot will be conducted and the winner will be  announced at this space! Closing date: 25 August 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

WHB#244: Truffles

We are back for WHB! Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska is the host for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging.  And this week I will discover the magic of the diamond of fungi - Truffles!

Black Truffles [Source]

Had been fascinated by truffles ever since the first time I tasted it at a local restaurant. It was a risotto with truffles generously shaved over it. The host of WHB, Haalo has a very enticing recipe a truffle risotto here. It is a pity that it is hardly available here in Singapore, and I am on a active hunt to bring it in with help from family and friends overseas.

My passion for food always brings me to researching about ingredients. (hey, I am an engineer by training. gotta go down to details.ha.) Note: A not so appetising fact about the prized fungi follows. Skip the next paragraph if you do not want to risk the way you look at truffles again.

*Potential Appetite Spoiler*

Truffle Flavour: The musky aroma of black truffles comes from androstenone. Androstenone is a steroid that is present in the male underarm sweat and in the saliva of boars (to prompt a mating response from sows). Some people find androstenone repulsive while others are more tolerant of it. 

*End of Potential Appetite Spoiler*

Truffles are basically subterranean mass of dense tissue with stiff structures and a earthy flavour. Raw white truffles are more pungent than black ones and are slightly garlicky, but their flavour is fleeting and is wiped out by too much heat. That is why truffles are usually served finely shaved (I want a truffle shaver!!!) onto hot food, like pasta or risottos at the table (plus what a visual sight!). This is to allow them to be slightly warmed and their flavour don't get dissipated before they reach your mouth!.

Truffle flavoured oil carries from a mild (white truffle oil) to rich (black truffle oil) and complex, mushroom-like flavour. It can be drizzled over carpaccio, scrambled eggs or plain pasta. Rich stuff like cream, butter or heavy cheeses goes great with the sh'room. Oh yah, of course, foie gras too, served on toasted bread with shavings of black truffles. Heavenly.

Truffle shavings on egg [Source]

Some tips on the usage of truffle:

Truffle season varies. For the best quality, use them in their respective season. For white truffles, spring (mid Feb to end May) and autumn (mid Sept to end Dec) are best while summer (May to end Oct) and winter (Jan to end Mar) are ideal for black truffles. Apparently different season brings out different tastes in the truffles. I won't know. Hadn't had a chance to taste all four types.

Truffles only grows in very specific conditions. The right climate, the right soil and the right host tree. Truffles forms a mutually beneficial relationship with its host tree, with both supplying each other with the essential material for growth. Read more on the internet, it is interesting. The pH level of the soil needs to be at 7 and only in uncontaminated soil that truffles will grow well to maturity. A great indicator of the extreme organic food? I am more attached to it already!

Truffles are great on their own! Do not boil, parboil, steam or marinate it. You will spoil the taste (and waste your money.) Canned truffles are (I really have no other choice) alternative. You should avoid cooking or freezing white truffles. And it does not goes well with seafood. Main gist: eat it raw.

Or, if you are feeling extravagrant, make truffle butter and stuffed in under chicken skin and bake it. It is heavenly. You can use other mushrooms like porcini too.

Red wines go best with truffles. Go for medium to full bodied reds to complement the woody fungi. White wine may be too acidic and wash out your palette.

A good sized truffle (30-50grammes) will go a long way.

Black Truffle [Source]

I really hope I can get my hands on some truffles soon!

*As truffles are not readily available in Singapore, pictures used are from other sites. Sources are all quoted at the bottom of the photos.*

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging #243 - Round-Up

Here is a round-up for our little summer party on Eat Read Live - Recipes!
Cardoons with Bechamel - Cook Almost Anything

Haalo from Australia shares with us this not very commonly used member of the artichoke family - the cardoons! What a great name, especially useful to con encourage your kids to have their vegetables. A great alternative to the useful mashed/baked potatoes to go with your Sunday pork/chicken roast.

Herbed Cheese Sticks - Everything Herbed

Ela from the Phillipines shares with us the very unique (and tasty) version of cheese sticks.... with herbs! Coupled with a lemongrass drink, this is sure to be a knock-out for a snack or pre-dinner bite.

Mediterranean cous cous stuffed heirloom tomatoes - Mele Cotte

Chris from Atlanta (USA) shares with us a variety of the super tomatoes! Heirloom tomatoes. It is not available in this part of Asia for us and definitely a "wow" for me when I first saw the photos. Great stuff!

Lemon Balm Tea - Kits Chow

Christine from Vancouver, Canada shares with us the soothing properties (and her gardening experience) of the Lemon Balm. Fantastic member of the family, Christine also included tips on how to use them to aroma-tise the house! Do you know that lemon is one of the most expensive herb to squeeze essential oils out of? I say, why use the oil when you can plant it yourself and use it like Christine!

Ethiopian Lentil Stew & Ethiopian Green Beans and Potatoes - Eats Well with Others

Joanne from NYC shares with us her close-shave experience of her day and the continued inspiration to have natural foods. Her Ethiopian dishes here looks packed to the brim with tastes and flavours while staying au naturel!

Strawberry Custard Tart - Eat.Read.Live

My very own entry after a couple of months break. Strawberries, don't you just love them?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Strawberry Custard Tart

It's WHB #243 and we are super honoured to be hosting this edition of Weekend Herb BloggingHere's a quick summary of the rules, if you are always cooking, why not share the knowledge with the rest of the community? It's a rewarding experience. :)


Inspired by the challenge to bake a wedding cake for a close friend's wedding, wifey and I were on a strawberry rampage for a while. We came upon this delightful recipe from a friend's website and decided to give it a shot! And oh man, do we love it, that we repeated the recipe (which we seldom do, we like varieties in our food.) again the following weekend!

We love our strawberries. Japanese ones are the best quality, shape, colour but pricey. And the American ones, especially those with long stems are good and sweet, especially in June. But they don't make good presentation material as they come in all shapes and sizes.
Thus, we prefer the Korean versions as they are mainly of the same size and with very nice rounded crowns which make them easy to process and set.

We used a 9-inch pie dish for this recipe.

Shortcrust Pastry

  • 150g plain flour
  • 60g salted cold butter, cubed
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water
  • 100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 200ml milk
  • 100ml cream
  • 2 tbsp honey (I used manuka honey, very distinctive taste)
  • 30g sugar
  • 1tbsp corn starch
Use as many strawberries as you can fit as topping.

  1. Using your fingertips, rub the cubes of butter into the flour. You should get yellow pellets, taking care not the melt the butter. Add the cold water a little at a time and mix by hand to form a ball. Wrap in clingfilm (to keep the moisture in) and chill in the fridge for at least 20mins.
  2. Preheat oven to 190C
  3. Roll out pastry to fit into pie dish. Pierce pastry base with fork. Bake for 20mins until the pastry is dry and golden brown, making sure it's cooked through. Let cool.
  4. Melt dark chocolate and spread evenly over the base of cooked pastry.
  5. Whisk egg, cornflour and egg yolks together and make a smooth mixture with no lumps.
  6. Heat milk, cream, honey and sugar in a pan until boiling point. (Add vanilla essence if desired. We used Madagascar vanilla bourbon in ours) 
  7. Remove from heat, and add a little of the milk mixture to the egg mixture, a little at a time, while whisking the combined mixtures continuously.
  8. After combining both mixtures, return to pan and gently heat until mixture thickens, be careful not to burn the mixture.
  9. Transfer to a bowl, cover with clingfilm and let cool. Whisk in a little milk or cream if the custard becomes too stiff.
  10. Spread custard over the tart base and top with strawberries. Brush over some jam to glaze. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set. 
Note: Do not keep assembled pie with custard for more than 6 hours as the crust tend to become soggy. Finish the tart within 3 days. Trust me, it won't survive that long.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging #243

Had taken a hiatus from posting (but definitely not cooking) for a good three months now due to other commitments. So I am extremely honoured to be given the opportunity to kick-start the posting again by hosting the upcoming Weekend Herb Blogging (19-25 July) and a big thank you to Haalo for letting us to have the chance to be the potluck blog this week showcasing the dishes from around the globe. The rules are simple, check out the details here

Sunday, March 14, 2010

WHB #224 Round-Up

Interesting weekend with loads to do and look forward to in the following week. I hope the weekend was as eventful to all of you as it had for us. The Pancakes celebrat(ing) our first year anniversary, in stages and how apt that we are hosting our first WHB. (It was a coincidence, totally not planned.) We love food. And that's the best celebration of life (and our union). 


And now to start our pot-luck party from around the world. The #224 one.

Maninas, a Croatian from UK shares with us the wonders of putting together curry leaves and pineapples. The marriage of the flavours is oooh-so-tempting!

tigerfish, US weaves magic with the highly versatile hairy gourd (mother) after a 3-year hiatus (of the vegetable) from the kitchen.

Cinzia of Lake Garda, Italy introduces the marvels of turmeric and uses it in a very simple recipe that yields a great tasting munchie.

Mangocheeks from West Scotland shares the different uses of Jerusalem Artichoke (a type of sunflower) and a very nice risotto recipe.

Kiran of  Lowell,Massachusetts turns a page from mama's cookbook. The easy, quick stir-fry way to serve the very lovely cauliflower while preserving the nutritious value of it!

Christine of Vancouver, Canada tested out her new wok with this very classic chinese recipe which marries the freshness of the sea (prawns) and the peppery greens. 

Oz, of the Netherlands announces the magical enchantments of the Citrus Dust. A great way to convert your citrus harvest to a sprinkle of magic that can be used almost anywhere!

First time participant of WHB, Cynthia, from Vancouver, Canada was short on ingredients to cook what she planned but exhibited her creativity and whipped out an impromptu dish using what she found in the fridge! 

Chris of Atlanta Georgia shares these wonderful cakes that packs a citrus surprise! A great alternative to the regular citrus family that we are so used to.

Brii from Lake Garda, Italy toasts a nice nutty mix that can be used extensively, in salads, vegetable dishes and I suspect that will taste great on its own!
Haalo from Australia, the great manager of the WHB series, turned inspiration when dining out into a great treat in the kitchen. These wonderful slices of royalty will sure come great on their own as a snack or as a side!

And my very own entry for this week's WHB shares my personal fascination of the pine  nuts.

And that's is for our round up. Host for WHB#225 - March 15th to March 21st  will be Yasmeen from Healthnut Send your posts to YasmeenHealthnut AT gmail DOT com

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging - Mushroom Risotto with Pine Nuts

It's WHB #224 and WE are hosting this edition of Weekend Herb BloggingHere's a quick summary of the rules, if you are interested in this weekly activity. I am immensely excited as the entries for this week comes flowing in.

Focus of this week will be the pine nuts.  Pine nuts comes from the seeds of various species of pine trees, generally in Mexico, southwestern US and Europe with Spain and Italy the world's top producers. A single pine cone contains hundreds of seeds but the cones needs to be heated to open and loosen the nuts. Thereafter the hull protecting each individual nuts must to cracked open to obtain the individual nuts which explains the high cost of pine nuts. (It sells for SGD5-7 per 100grams here in Singapore.)

Aren't they beautiful? Pine nuts contain 24 grams of protein for every 100 grams and provide one of the most protein among nuts or seeds. They are also an excellent source of vitamins B1 and B3, and trace metals such as manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium etc... They are believed to help produce a strong and healthy heartbeat, lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. 

Taste-wise, the pine nuts releases a buttery taste when bitten into with a hint of spice, which taste very like thyme. The nutty aroma follows as the nut is chewed further into. They can be taken raw as snacks or added to salads or rice dishes to provide volume or supplement protein intake. Roasting pine nuts prior to topping meat dishes will greatly intensify their flavour.

I used pine nuts in my risotto and viola! It added crunch and texture to the creamy risotto and added depth to the taste!

Mushrooom Risotto with Pine Nuts.

(adapted from Jamie Oliver's basic risotto recipe)

You will need: (Serves 2)

400ml chicken stock
40g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk celery finely chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
handful pine nuts
2 portobello mushrooms, diced
125g risotto rice
1 glass white wine
salt, grounded black pepper
40g freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Melt butter in oilve oil. Soften the onion, garlic and celery in the pan with the oil and melted butter on low heat.

2. Add in the rice when the vegetables soften and lightly fry, on medium heat. Keep stirring. Once the rice looks transluscent, add the wine.

3. Once the wine had cooked into the grains, turn down the heat to low to prevent overcooking the grains on the surface with the center still hard. Add in the first ladle of stock together with a good pinch of salt. Continue stirring to massage the starch out of the risotto. Add stock ladle by ladle while stirring making sure each ladle of stock is absorbed before adding the next.

4. Cooked till the risotto is soft but with a slight bite when bitten into. (If you run out of stock before this stage, just add hot water.)

5. Stir in the diced mushrooms, stir to mix well.

6. Turn off heat and add in shredded cheese and pine nuts. Mix well. Cover the pot/pan. The risotto will turn super creamy in the next couple of minutes.

7. Serve as soon as possible.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Announcing - Weekend Herb Blogging #224 Hosting

What an exciting week! This week will be hosting the Weekend Herb Blogging and a big thank you to Haalo for letting us to have the chance to be the potluck blog this week showcasing the dishes from around the globe. The rules are simple, check out the details here

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging - Mandarin Orange Muffins with walnuts

Been a busy week in the kitchen as I am taking a sabbatical from work. So back to Weekend Herb Blogging to share some of my adventures... from the cooking pit. Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging. Here's a quick summary of the rules, if you are interested in this weekly activity.

One of the must-have for the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) is mandarin oranges. It stands for prosperity and luck and we have to bring a pair when we go visiting during the festive period.  It didn't help when the oranges are sold in cartons of 12, 18 or 24 depending on their sizes.  Papa being his usual generous self bought us the carton that had 24 of the fruit. Needless to say, at the end of the festive period (14days) we still have about 20 of the mandarin oranges lying around.

Mandarin oranges belong to the citrus group and contains the usual goodness from that family. High in vitamin C and the skins full of flavour.  These fruits are gorgeous, their thin skins make them easy to peel, and the juice taste great if you decide to pass it through the juicer.

Well, something had to be done to use up the oranges and they came in the form of muffins!

You will need (make 1 dozen)
(recipe modified  from Martha Stewart's)

115g unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 mandarin oranges, peeled, segments cut into bite-size
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped.
3/4 cups sugar (more if desired, I like it less sweet)
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1.  Preheat oven to 190 deg cel. Mix flour, baking powder and salt. 

2. Coat thinly cut segments of mandarin orange with flour. (Prevents them from sinking to bottom during baking)

3. Beat butter and sugar till fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time until combined. Add in vanilla.

4. Set mixer to low speed and add in flour mixture (from step 1). Add in milk, beating until just combined. Do not over mix.

5. Fold in mandarin orange segments and walnuts.

6. Scoop batter into a standard 12-cup muffin pan. Sprinkle mixture of sugar and nutmeg on top of the muffin batter.

7. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through until muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. (It takes 20-30mins).

8. Transfer pan to cool for about 10 minutes. Turn muffins on their sides in the muffin cup and let cool. Best served warm.

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