Friday, 16 November 2012

Plusixfive Rendezvous with Lady Luck-Sa Supperclub

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I'm off to Singapore in a couple of hours(woohooo!) so I thought I'll leave you with some photos of yummy Singaporean food. So where you might ask did I have this scrumptious feast in London? Well, it was at the only place where serves authentic Singaporean food in London, the PLUSIXFIVE Supperclub, one of the pioneers of the supperclub movement over here.
I've been wanting to try their food for the longest of times and when I finally made my way there, I wasn't at all disappointed! Though it was one of their smaller menus(they were even worried that there weren't enough items on the menu!), I still left very well fed and astounded at how well the young team can cook!
This particular supperclub was hosted by Jason of Feast to the World and Shuhan of Mummy I can cook. Goz, the founder, wasn't around that day as he had just flown in from Hong Kong where he's currently based and was stuck at work. Last I heard, Plusixfive is planning to conquer the world and is going to do a pop up in Hong Kong too!
Shuhan and Jason
Now, let's get onto the food so be prepared to drool!

Flaky, crumbly, warming and oh so good spiral curry puffs.I certainly hope that they will take orders for these babies soon.

Rojak, a fruit and vegetable salad in an appetising, piquant sauce.

Tender, succulent and very flavourful 24 hour marinated pork belly satay.

The star of the show, rich, spicy, moreish Laksa that was jam packed full of well balanced spices and made with love.

Tasty Otak Otak, a bbqed spicy fish paste

Apam Balik, moist and light coconut pancakes with a smashing banana caramel sauce, a match made in dessert heaven.

Chewy, sticky, soft Kueh Bingka(Cassava Cake)

Last but not least Shuhan kindly made me some of her famous amazing sambal when I requested for it before the supperclub. 

I certainly look forward to one of their full blown supperclub feast as I know I'll leave wanting more!!!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Apple Cake - The Ugly one

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I've a lovely colleague R who keeps feeding me in the office, chocolate, cakes, crisps etc and she also sometimes gives me fresh curry leaves or green chillies when she goes for her bi-weekly shop at a Sri Lanka Supermarket. Recently, she gave a big bag of cooking apples plucked straight from her garden and so I went searching for an apple recipe! The first recipe I came across was one that was approved by Paul Hollywood, a baking 'superstar' in the UK so if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me. ;)
This is a very easy and tasty recipe though a little ugly looking. :P  When eaten on the day of baking, it has a lovely crusty biscuity top, when left overnight, the top will soften but the cake itself becomes even more moist and delicious, as the flavours starts to amalgamate. The demerara sugar adds an additional texture to the already lovely cake!

Ingredients (Adapted from here)

225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
110g soft brown sugar
Sprinkle of demerara sugar
2 eggs
130g light olive oil
400g cooking apple

1) Put the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl.
2) Beat the eggs and stir this, along with olive oil, into the bowl.
3) Spread half in a greased cake tin, cover with apples, spinkle some sugar over the apples then cover with rest of mixture. Sprinkle more demerara sugar on top.
4) Bake at 150C for 1 hour or until nicely crusty.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Slow Braised Pork Ribs

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Don't you just love a stew with a gravy that's so good that you'll be more than happy just to eat that with rice? With tender meat literally falling off the bone? If you answered YES and YES, this dish is made just for you!! ;)
It's easy to put together but it has a cooking time around 2 hours to allow the ribs to cooked till it's so so tender. Flavoured with warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon and star anise, it's definitely one that's well worth the wait!

Adapted from Cheat Eat
Ingredients(Serves 4)

800g pork ribs or soft bone (cut into 5cm pieces with fats trimmed off)
2 tbsp oil
40g galangal (cut into chunks)
40g ginger (cut into chunks)
1 tsp coriander seeds (pounded)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 tbsp bean paste
12 cloves garlic (leave skin intact and crushed)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1tsp five spice powder
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp corn flour

1) Place pork ribs in a colander, pour boiling water over it and drain well. The purpose here is to clean the pork ribs and gets rid of any gaminess.
2)Heat up oil in a heavy bottom pot. Add the galangal, ginger, coriander powder, cinnamon, star anise and bean paste. Fry the aromatics over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Bring up the heat, add the pork ribs to the pot and continue frying for 5 more minutes. If it gets too dry and the spices are starting to blacken, sprinkle some water in the pot.   
3) Add garlic, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, five spice powder and sugar to the pot and mix well. Pour in enough water or stock to just cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover and cook for about 2 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Remove any scum that might appear.
4) Mix corn flour with some water and stir it into a paste. Add this mixture into the pot and mix well. This helps thicken the gravy. Bring the gravy to a boil and add more dark soy sauce and/or sugar according to taste. Serve with rice and green vegetables.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Breast Cancer, Willow Foundation, Fat Duck and Me

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It's Pink October or Breast Cancer Awareness month. Breast Cancer Awareness is a cause that's close to my heart as I unfortunately had to go through treatment for it and yes! I've kicked it in the a***!!!! I've been wanting to raise some awareness about Breast Cancer on my blog and looks like its the right time for it now isn't it? ;) I'm still not too sure about how I'm going to go about writing this so please forgive me if I start rambling on as it's not the easiest of experiences to share. 

I was diagnosed in Sep 2009, aged 32(yes, you now know how old i am. haha), a pretty young age to be told that one has Breast cancer(BC), however I was not alone as there are quite few ladies around that have shared the same experience as me. Being told that I had BC was one of the worst things I ever had to hear, I went through all sorts of emotions and there were so many questions that no one could answer... Why me!?! What did I do to deserve this?? No one could say the right words during the 1st few days of finding out  as I wanted to just be alone and not talk about it. I remember my lovely breast cancer nurse telling me that Breast Cancer is the 'best' cancer to get as it has one of the highest survival rate and my immediate thought was... I don't care!!! I just don't want it! I don't want to go through Chemo! I don't want to lose my hair, i don't want to wear a wig, it's not happening!! etc etc etc. It totally screwed everything up. I was suppose to get registered for marriage within the year, I had holidays booked so everything had to be put on hold. At this point I would like to thank my awesome fiance at that time and now loving hubby for sticking with me all through the treatment period. 

Something my mother said kinda woke me up a bit. I had to accept it and fight it! Simple yet made so much sense. I then drowned myself listening to sermons CDs by Pastor Joseph Prince, my home church, New Creation Church in Singapore and within the week, I felt much better about things and was ready to do whatever it is I had to do.

First all sorts of tests had to be done, ultrasound, CT scan, Bone scan, blood test etc, a tiny procedure was done to insert a Portacath, a kind of valve or catheter that's inserted below my collar bone to assist in the administration of the chemo drugs. Thank God the cancer didn't spread to the other parts of my body and was just isolated in the breast. 

My amazing mum almost immediately flew over so she was here when I had to start chemo and was taking care of me throughout my treatment.16 rounds of chemo I had to go through. I lost all my hair, was nauseous, had tummy problems, lost weight, was perpetually tired, had hot flushes but there were drugs to help with the nausea so it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. There was also surgery, radiotherapy, herceptin treatment to go through so it was a very long process and I was off work for 10 months, mostly stuck at home as blood count was low and i could pick up viruses very easily. Come to think of it, I don't know why I didn't start my blog then since I had so much time on my hands. Oh well! Too late for that now. 

As my energy levels were still low after all the treatment, I had to do a gradual return to work starting from just 2 half days a week to working full time again. This took me around 4 months and I'm blessed that my company understood and allowed me to do it in this way. 

I've been back at work full time for 2 years already and somehow, the whole episode seems like almost a distant memory. Even now, my energy levels isn't like what it used to be before treatment so I still have to listen to my body and rest when it tells me to. Am still taking medication that has some side effects, there are also some things that I've to be more aware about but I won't bore you with the details. :) I got through this only with the support of my family, friends especially my mummy and hubby. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart for what they've done.

Ok, that might have been a little long winded but please, please, please, ensure and encourage your loved ones as well as yourself to go for regular mammogram checks once you are 25 or above. I hope that I'm not scaring you and I also have no desire for anyone to go through what I've been though but it's always better *touch wood* to detect things like this earlier as there may be less treatment to go though to get rid of it and there will also be more options available. 

So what had the Willow Foundation and The Fat Duck have to do with this? The Willow Foundation is a charity that provides days out for seriously ill 16 to 40 years olds. Please visit the Willow Foundation website to find out more about what they do and how they have lifted the spirits of many others and myself! When my chemo nurse first told me about it towards the end of my treatment, I asked if I was eligible for it as I wasn't exactly seriously ill but someone from the foundation approached the Chemo team at the hospital and told them that patients who have undergone breast cancer treatment were welcomed to apply for a day out.  I had always wanted to make a trip to the Fat Duck for a meal since I came over to the UK but had been unsuccessful in getting a reservations even after quite a few attempts so I said that I wanted a meal there as a day out and they made it happened! I had to wait a few months, which I didn't really mind as they had to wait for someone to make a last minute reservation. When the time came, the Willow Foundation made the reservation at the Fat Duck and booked us into a nearby B&B for one night. This outing came at the right time as I had just completed all my treatments and it was a great way to celebrate!!!! I was also way excited that I was finally making my way to the Fat Duck!

Here are some photos of my stunning 4 hour meal but take note that I was there in April 2011 so the menu should have changed since then. 
Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast
Oak Flavoured film
Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast
Iberico Bellota Ham, Shaved Fennel
Rhubarb, Braised Konbu and Crab Biscuit
"Mad Hatter Tea"
"SOUND OF THE SEA" with edible sand made of tapioca and eel. Bubble/Foam was from a seaweed and vegetable stock.
Artichoke, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe

Blood Pudding, Risotto of Spelt and Umbles
Blood Pudding, Risotto of Spelt and Umbles
HOT AND ICED TEA.....Right half was warm, left cold!
Neroli scented Yogurt and Rhubarb Sorbet
Kirsch Ice Cream and the smell of the Black Forest
Whiskey Gums
THE QUEEN OF HEARTS she made some tarts.
white choco with a thin layer of jam and olive biscuit in it.
Heartfelt thanks to the Willow Foundation for making this wonderful meal happen!
And without being too naggy, please book yourself for a mammogram test too. :)

More information on Breast Cancer can also be found at the following

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Hainanese Chicken Rice

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Originating from Hainan, China, Hainanese Chicken Rice, a very popular dish, was brought over to Singapore by immigrants and have evolved to what we see being sold in almost every corner of Singapore! Tender, succulent chicken served with fragrant rice that has been cooked in chicken stock, accompanied with a soy, sesame oil dressing as well as a spicy homemade chilli sauce makes for a very, very satisfying meal. 
Chicken rice recipe adapted from I am a Feeder and Chilli sauce recipe adapted from Feast to the World
Ingredients (Serves 2)
For the chicken:
2 free-range whole chicken legs
Bunch of spring onions 
2 pandan leaves, tied into a knot
4″ knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
Water (see method)
Sea salt
Large bowl of ice water

For the rice:
1.5 cups of rice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2-3″ knob of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2-3 tbsps vegetable oil
1-2 tbsps Sesame oil
1 pandan leaves, tied into a knot

For the chilli sauce:
6 large fresh red chillies
2 small clove garlic
5cm fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar

To serve:
Half a cucumber, sliced
Garlic chilli sauce (above)
Sesame oil

1. Rub the chicken legs all over with the sea salt, then place into a large pot with the spring onions, pandan leaves, ginger and add enough water to cover the chicken legs completely. 
2. Bring the pot to the boil over a medium-high heat, then turn it right down to a simmer and skim off the scum that floats to the top. Don’t allow the stock to boil again or it’ll turn cloudy. Simmer for around 20-25 mins, removing any more scum from the top. When you chicken is cooked, remove immediately and plunge into the bowl of ice water. Strain the stock and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat, then add the finely minced ginger, garlic and fry until fragrant – be careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the washed rice and stir, making sure the rice is well coated, the ginger and garlic distributed and the grains are beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add about 1-2 tbsps sesame oil and stir well until evenly distributed.
4. Pour the rice mixture into the rice cooker and cook it as per normal, using the chicken stock instead of water
4. To make the chilli sauce, put all ingredients into a blender and pulse into a paste. Season with salt to taste.
5. To serve, plate the rice, cold chicken, sliced cucumber, achar and garlic chilli sauce. Mix 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of sesame oil and drizzle it over the chicken. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Pickled Green Chillies

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Pickled Green Chillies is a condiment that's an essential accompaniment for a lot of Asian noodle/rice dishes like wantan mee, fried rice or noodles or my recently posted Wat Dan Hor. You'll also see this placed prominently next to the chilli sauce and chilli oil in many Chinese restaurants too. It's spicy, sour nature is pretty appetising too!

6 green chillies (Sliced)
Chinese Rice Vinegar (Enough to cover the chillies)
2 - 3 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
Boiling water

1) Pour boiling water over the chillies and let it stand for 10 mins.
2) Drain off the water and pour in vinegar, salt and suger and stir to combine.
3) Place them in clean jars and leave it in the fridge.
4) They'll be ready for use the next day.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Wat Dan Hor (Rice Noodles With Silky Smooth Egg Sauce)

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I've been wanting to make Wat Dan Hor ever since Wendy of the Dish Piglets Duo mentioned this on twitter. It's a childhood favourite, one that I haven't had in ages!!! She even kindly emailed me the recipe since it wasn't up on their blog yet but did I make it then?? ...Nooo...Blame it on laziness on getting myself to Chinatown to get the fresh hor fun(rice noodles).  Wendy has been since put the recipe up on their blog and I've also finally gotten my lazy self to Chinatown. :)
Now my only regret it not making this sooner. Silky hor fun, coupled with the silky smooth sauce makes for a simply delicious, warming meal in this gloomy, wet, cold weather we are currently having in the UK. I'll definitely be making this more often!!
Recipe Adapted from Dish Piglets

Ingredients: (Serves 2)
400g Kuey teow/hor fun/flat rice noodles
2 chicken thighs (de-boned and sliced. The bones can be used to make the chicken stock)
150g fish cakes (sliced)
2 stalks of Cai Xin (Sawi/Chinese Mustard), sliced into 4 cm sections
3 cloves of garlic
Dark soy sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
White pepper

To make the egg sauce base:
1 egg lightly beaten
500ml Chicken Stock (Homemade would be the best!)
6 shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soya sauce
A pinch of white pepper
1.5 tbsp Corn starch (mixed with water)

1) Marinate the sliced chicken with 1 tbsp of light soy sauce and pepper.
2) Blanch the flat rice noodles in hot water to loosen the noodles up. Drain when ready.
3) Heat sunflower oil in wok and when the oil is hot, throw in the flat rice noodles and pour dark soy sauce  (just enough to coat all the rice noodles) and 1 tbsp of light soya sauce and lightly fry. Remove noodles and set aside.
4) Next, heat some sunflower oil in the heated wok, add the shiitake mushrooms, minced garlic and chicken. Stir fry the chicken until cooked. Add the chicken stock next. If you prefer more egg sauce on your noodles, use more chicken stock.
5) When the stock is boiling, add the fish cakes, cook for around 2 minutes before adding the vegetables (cai xin).
6) Add the corn starch slowly whilst stirring. The stock will slowly thicken. Stir in the lightly beaten egg.
7) Serve the flat rice noodles in bowls, then pour the ready egg sauce onto it. Serve with pickled green chillies. Recipe can be found here!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Nyonya-ish Achar (Spicy Pickled Vegetable Salad)

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Achar/Acar, is a kind of Spicy pickled vegetable salad, commonly served with Chicken rice(which I'll be blogging about soon) and Nasi Lemak. It's spicy, sweet and sour flavour is really appetising and I even eat it on it's own. Not exactly a good thing as I ran out of it so quickly. I made this on a Friday evening and by Monday, it was all gone! Thanks to Mummy I can cook's recipe, it was simply delicious! How I wish I made more!!
There are several different ways of making achar, one being the Nyonya version. In this version, cucumbers, carrots, cauliflowers, tumeric, green chillis and sesame seeds are the essential ingredients and as you can see in the recipe below, I used pineapples which from what i heard is a big no no. However, I like pineapple as it imparts a nice touch of sweetness to the achar so I threw some in... opps!!... I also forgot to buy peanuts so I replaced these with cashew nuts and macadamia nuts...double opps!! you know why I put an -ish in the title. ;)

This recipe was adapted from Mummy I can cook's proper nyonya recipe so please head over there to have a look. 
Adapted from Mummy I can cook 

500g cucumbers
100g carrots
100g pineapple
100g french beans
1/4 cup of white rice vinegar
1/4 cup of unrefined cane sugar, to taste

For blanching/salting
1 tbsp unrefined sugar
1 tbsp sea salt
1 cup rice vinegar + 1 cups water

For the rempah
150g (3-4 large) shallots
2 red chillies
2 green chillies
1 stalk lemongrass
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1 tbsp sunflower oil, for frying

To finish
large handful freshly toasted sesame seeds
small handful of crushed freshly toasted cashew nuts
small handful of crushed freshly toasted macadamia nuts

1. Chop all the cucumbers, carrots and french beans into finger-length batons.Chop pinapple into chunks. 
2. For the cucumbers, sprinkle over most of the salt and set aside to sweat. 
3. For the carrots and french beans, blanch very briefly in the boiling vinegar-salt-sugar solution, just long enough for the water to return to a boil. Drain and chuck into a very low oven to dry for about half an hour.
4. Pound/blend your rempah ingredients and then fry the paste in medium low heat till aromatic. Add the vinegar and sugar, bring to a boil, and then let cool.
5. While it's cooling, drain, squeeze and pat dry the cucumbers. Combine with the other vegetables/pineapple, sesame seeds, cashew nuts and macadamia nuts, then pour the rempah over, and mix well. Don't worry if it seems the marinade can't cover all the vegetables, they will start releasing their own liquid as they pickle/ferment (use non-reactive bowls or glass jars). Let the vegetables sit in the marinade for at least a day before eating.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Stripped back by Ben Spalding

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My current motto seems to be 'Will travel for food', having recently travelled all the way down south to Brockley Market and Fed by Tang Lunch. Another area that we decided to explore is East London, an area that's becoming a cool place to hangout with lots of street food markets, interesting restaurants, new coffee joints etc.

A great new addition to the east is Stripped Back, a pop up by Ben Spalding in Broadway Market. Having worked at Royal Hospital Road, Fat Duck, Le Manoir and most recently Roganic to name a few, Ben is definitely no stranger to the culinary world. He's using Stripped Back to showcase his style of cooking whilst doing research to set up a more permanent arrangement. Located in the London Fields Primary School carpark,  No reservations, raw, personal and stripped back cooking is what this is all about. 

Another highlight about eating here is seeing Ben and his sous chef, Steve in action! Somehow, I really enjoy observing chefs 'doing their thing'!
Ben Spalding
We arrived bright and early at 11am when they opened so we didn't have to wait too long to enjoy the food. First up was a refreshing fizz made with 42c below vodka and meadowsweet.

This came with a very very delicious yoghurt, muesli and malt bread which Ben took 3 years to perfect! And no, I wasn't too successful at getting the recipe from him! :P
The first course was the prettily plated right in from of us, Kentish Pearls cooked in yogurt whey, black truffles, roasted almonds and seeds. No salt is added on the finished product as Ben likes to season it in the cooking process making for a healthier dish. This is evident to as the potatoes was so delicious and probably one of the best I've ever eaten.  Soft, creamy and tasty especially when paired with the roasted almonds, made for an awesome texture sensation!

Next up was the Mall Tavern Smoked salmon, Razor clam and shiso broth with grapes, pickled carrot and coastal herbs. The amazing broth was light yet infused with so much flavour and another texture adventure with the thoughtfully put together ingredients! A total delight this was!

The 3rd wrap was one of Ben's favourite dishes, a Burnt wrap with Salt marsh lamb, ras el hanout, blowtorched baby gem lettuce and minted sourcream. A home style, warming and flavourful dish.

The dessert was Lightly set chocolate brownie custard with pecans, shortbread cream and strawberry juice. Very moriesh and luscious!
Lastly was a cola jelly with a hit of alcohol. A perfect way to end this very enjoyable meal!
The menu is changed constantly depending on the seasonal ingredients Ben sourced every week so it's definitely a place to go back to every so often. The meal costs £17.50 for 4 courses with a petit four. A bargain in my opinion as it's essentially fine dining style food.

Yes, I revisited Stripped back as it just had to be done. On this occasion, we also found out that Ben is planning a 6 month residency in a pub in Islington from Oct onwards so that's going to be real exciting! Follow him on Twitter at @John_Salt to be kept in the loop! He's also at @benspalding1 and @_strippedback

The menu was totally different this time but it continued with the theme of putting amazing flavours onto 1 plate. I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

Salad of english Vittoria tomatoes & homemade goats curd, bronze fennel, bread curls & mango juice

Cured and roasted Cod flakes, dark cauliflower cream, fried bacon. mallow juice flavoured with fig leaves 

Hot lamb broth, chorizo, coriander, Beans sprouts, red onion & peas

Sweetened Goats milk yoghurt toasted pumpkin seeds, maple syrup & wild blackberries

Peanut butter & jam fudge

Yet Another update!
Yes! I must be kinda addicted to Stripped back as I again made another trip back after watching Athletics at the Paralympics!

Salad of sun dried tomatoes & homemade goats curd, bread curls & mango juice

 Tea smoked salmon

Erin doing some smoking
Absolutely delicious Mushroom Duxelle filled Lumaconi. We've been inspired to recreate the filling.

Stunning Chocolate Banana Delice

Stripped Back
London Fields Primary School Playground
West Gate Street 
E8 3RL

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