baking fiends unite!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Food Review 2007 #7 - Zi Yean Restaurant

I've heard alot of good reviews abt this restaurant from food bloggers and the newpapers and food guides.

When I reached the restaurant, was surprised to see that it actually occupied the half the block of shop spaces! From the end of the block, it's the al-fresco dining area, then followed by the coffee-shop style, with fans, and then towards the middle of the block, it's the air-conditioned area. Of course, in this warm weather we've been expriencing lately, I chose to sit in the air-con area. :P

These are the dishes we ordered :
Stirfy venison with bittergourd. This is good stuff! Even some of the kids, upon hearing it's deer meat, tried it and were hooked! The meat was very tender and the seasoning was done just rite. Yummilious!
Tofu dish... This dish was just ordinary... The tofu was egg tofu, aside from being very soft, frankly, there's nothing to shout abt.
Soon Hock fish. This fish weighed over 1kg! and cost a bomb... but I only got the pic of the steamed fish. The other way it was prepared was braised fish (That was so good that I din managed to get a pic :P). The fish is really fresh and it's very well done!This is one of their chef specialty, Emperor chicken. The chicken was not stewed soft enuf tho', and the accompanying sauce was really good. And when the chicken was cut opened, there's mui-choi inside! What a pleasant surprise! And the mui-choi tasted very sweet.... really a dish that went very well with a bowl of steaming white rice!Crispy deep fried prawns wrapped with fu-pei. Another winner.... the kids loved this very much!The obligatory veg dish... mushroom with spinach. Average, in my opinion....Here's the favourite part of the meal.... DESSERT! We ordered or-nee... This dish was not listed on the menu, so we checked wit the waitress and she confirmed that they have it. However, the dish did not turn out as good as I hoped for. Instead of the coconut milk, they only used sugar syrup. The yam was abit lumpy, not smooth like paste. The bits of yellow in the dish are pumpkins... frankly, I believe they can definately do better!


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mom's Birthday Cake

A cake fully laden with fruits for dear Mommy. She doesn't like cakes or any kinds of food that looks dark... so chocolate cake is out of the question.... She always said that a fruit cake is the best whenever she's offered chocolate cakes during celebrations. It's her birthday and of course she calls the shots. :P

The cake itself is pandan flavour. Cut into 3 layers and sandwiched with chopped kiwis, peaches and strawberries.

Hope she loves it... Happy Birthday Mommy!


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Black beauty?

Been gng thru' my list of to-do list recently and realised that I've got a pile of bread recipes "to-do"! Since getting the KA, I've been trying to make more breads than usual. Tasting the bread kneaded by the KA kinda convinced me that I'll use it instead of a bread machine for my future "challenges". I've tasted a few breads made by bread machines before and somehow the texture of the bread cannot compare to what is being made by hand or KA cum arm power. So when I conveyed this message to DH, you can imagine him giving out a huge sigh of relief! LOL....

This weekends, I decided to try out a new bread (to me!). Ground black sesame is added to the dough and it's the process of the bread making that got me very interested and can't wait to try it out.

This recipe makes use of a starter dough, which was left overnite in the fridge. It suits me perfectly, as I can make the starter dough the nite b4, and then complete the whole process the next morning.

I am pretty sure that the results will be good and it really is! The baked bread is really soft and moist. Even my mom who don't like anything that looks black and dark was game enough to give this a bite and gave it a thmbs-up. And judging from the speed which family members are eating the bread, I'm sure there will be requests for this bread very often!

Here's the recipe :

What you need
Starter dough:
  • 3gm yeast
  • 250gm bread flour
  • 200gm water
Main dough:

  • 3gm yeast
  • 50gm water
  • 175gm bread flour
  • 80gm sugar ( add 20gm more sugar if u like it sweet)
  • 20gm milk powder
  • 1 small egg (abt 40gm)
  • 75gm ground black sesame
  • 5gm salt
  • 40gm butter (at room temp)
What to do
For starter dough:
  • Mix all the start dough ingredients tog. Knead using the KA for 4 mins using medium speed.
  • Put in a metal bowl and cover the top with clingwrap.
  • Place into the fridge and chill it for at least 12 hours.
After 12 hours (or the next morning, for me):

  • Place all the ingredients (except butter) for main dough into the mixing bowl, tog with the starter dough.
  • Knead the dough for abt 10 mins.
  • Add in the butter and continue to knead until dough passes the pane test.
  • Poof for 45 mins.
  • Divide the dough into desired grammage and rest for 15 mins.
  • Shape dough as desired and poof in the loaf tin until dough filled 80-90% of tin.
  • Bake in preheated oven @180C for 35 mins.
  • Cool completely and enjoy!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nutella cupcakes

Nutella is my all-time fav spread. And it's so versatile. Can be used as a bread spread, frosting for cakes and even fillings for bread! And my fav way of eating it, straight from the container :P

What you need
  • 140 grams butter, at room temp
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 200 grams sifted cake flour (sift flour 1st, then weight 200gm)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • approx. 1/3 cup Nutella
What to do
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Line muffin tray with paper liners.
  • Cream together butter and sugar until light.
  • Add in eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated.
  • Add in vanilla essence.
  • Flour in flour and salt till well combined.
  • Fill each muffin liner with batter abt 3/4 full.
  • Top each cake with 1 1/2 tsp Nutella, swirl Nutella in with a fork.
  • Bake for abt 20 minutes.
  • Remove from muffin tray to cool completely.
  • Taste best the next day.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Food Review 2007 #6 - Restoran Ah Yat Abalone Forum

Was at Genting Highlands last weekends for a short getaway... the adults, to escape the warm weather in sg; the kids, to enjoy themselves at the Theme parks.

Mealtimes were such a headache! We were simply spoilt for choice. Be it fast food joints or nice high-end sitdown restaurants, they are everywhere. We were walking ard exploring the place when we came upon a very familiar name, Ah Yat Forum.... Upon closer scrutiny, we saw that they actually serve dim-sum in the mornings. That's somefin new.... I dun remember seeing Ah Yat in sg serving dim-sums. So we decided to try the dim-sum there for b'fast the next day.

We were there ard 9.30am...the place is abt 60% full. The restaurant starts their business at 9am daily. Service was prompt, and the decor of the restaurant is very pleasant.

Here are wad we ordered :DS's fav chicken feet... abit spicy, but nicely seasoned. 2nd pic is glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf - very fragrant... can see that there's dried scallop in it. Last pic is egg custard bao (nai wong bao). This is the 1st time I ate this. Was told that the bao is not authentic enuf... hm... how is it supposed to taste like????My fav char siew bao - not sweet enuf for me! :P 2nd pic is steamed pork ribs. This dish is pretty well-done too. The last pic is egg tart. Very flaky crust and it was served warm.... yum!This is one of my fav too! Yam wrapped with filling and then deep-fried.... I love everything YAM....yum! Next up is prawn fun-cheong. The accompanying sauce is too little. Taste-wise not bad. Then we had siew-mai. Love the shrimp roes tat topped it.
Shark-fin dumplings. A tard too dry. A small piece of shark-fin was found inside it.... but u really have to look REALLY close to find it! The next dish was deep-fried fu-pei with fish paste as filling. Nothing special.

Finally, the har-gao. Crunchy prawns.... then the last dish is har gao with chives... hm.. din get to try this but I can smell the chives once it was served.


Nigella's Chocolate Chip Muffins

Being lazy, I'm attracted to this recipe as I dun have to melt butter. :P

Resulting muffin is moist! The kids love it very much. Here's the recipe :

What you need
  • 250gm plain flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150gm sugar (i reduced it. Original amt was 175gm)
  • 150gm chocolate chips
  • 250ml milk (i used chocolate milk)
  • 90ml veg oil (i used corn oil)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1tsp real vanilla extract
What to do

  • Preheat oven to 200C and place muffin liners onto muffin tray.
  • Weigh the dry ingredients and combine in a large bowl.
  • Measure all the wet ingredients into a large cup.
  • Mix wet ingredient into the dry. Combine well. Batter will be runny.
  • Spoon batter into muffin liners.
  • Bake for abt 20mins at 180C or until skewer comes out clean.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Food Review 2007 #5 - Loy Sum Juan

Father's day is just round the corner... but since we're going away for a short trip to M'sia this weekends and it was my Father's b'day last sunday, we decided to celebrate both occasions together.

For the dinner that day, we did not plan ahead where to have our dinner. In the end, Mom decided that we shd go somewhere nearby and we settled on LOY SUM JUAN.

This establishment has been around for decades. I remember when I was still a little gal, we used to go there for my late grandma's b'day dinners. She loved the steamed fish head served there. But for me, as a kid, all I can remember was that it was always very packed and the boss even rushed us (the CUSTOMERS!!!) to finish our food fast. Well, Singaporeans are a really peculiar lot... we dun seem to mind any kind of attitude of the hawker/cook/chef if the food is good! haha... anyway, my childhood memories of that restaurant remained firmly etched in my mind. At that time, the restaurant was located at Outram Park. When the govt announced plans to build the MRT line, the bldgs at Outram Park had to be demolished. Loy Sum Juan then relocated to Tiong Bahru Plaza, where it remained till now.

The food remained good... the popular dishes are still served, exactly the same way it was done years ago. However, their service has not improved much. At the recep counter, the gal who served us was not in uniform. In fact, she was dressed so casually, that DH remarked that she could be working in the kitchen instead! hah! Anyway, the restaurant was only half-filled when we reached there during dinner time.

The variety of dishes on the menu is good ... so we did spend some time selecting. However, the waitress was not very helpful, maybe she's new?
This is what we had that nite.....

The famous steamed fish head. Still taste as delicious as ever. They've added some new variations to this dish, but we still thot it's better to stick to the tried and tasted. Mom tried replicating this dish at home... taste is quite close. Well, the ingredients are simple... I guess that's why.
Marmite pork ribs. This dish is a pleasant surprise... it's sweet and the ribs were well marinated. The flesh remained juicy.
Shrimp paste fried chicken... This is a clear winner. I've tasted shrimp paste chicken from many places, this one wins thumbs up. The skin is very crisp and fragrant. The chicken tasted very tender and juicy. LOVE IT.
Stewed duck with sea cucumber.... We ordered half a duck. The duck is stewed till soft... in my opinion, not soft enuf. would love it if it's more "melt-in-the-mouth texture. But nevertheless, the chef had done a good job with this dish. The sauce went very well with rice!
The mixed veg dish.... This dish is well done. Love the assortment of mushrooms in it. Kids and the older folks love it too.

Stir-fired sambal kangkong ... Mom loves to order this dish whenever we eat out. She said the same taste cannot be obtained at home as we dun have the same "BIG FIRE" the restaurant kitchens are equipped!.... anyway this time, this dish had disappointed us. The dish was too oily. My bro even commented that my mom can do a better job with this veg at home!
Hotplate tofu.... a simple dish... deep-fried egg tofu with minced meat and mushroom in the sauce. Very child-friendly.
Steamed prawns in ginger & garlic paste.... the prawns tasted fresh, but nothing to shout abt.
Oatmeal prawns... i L.O.V.E this! Actually i'm no fan of prawns but I really enjoyed this dish alot. The prawns were deep-fried... the shells were very crispy that I ate it whole! Could taste that the prawns were very fresh. And it was really fragrant! I was scooping all the oats to go with my rice... unhealthy, I know... but then I seldom eat prawns cooked this way. keke
To round this up.... LOY SUM JUAN still lived up to it's reputation. The portions served were good, the prices very reasonable. And more imptly, the customers were no longer being chided but the boss for eating fast enuf anymore. But it's sad to see that even at dinnertime, the place was not full. They probably have to spruce up the place and service to attract more customers. Well, I'll definately be back there for another makan session soon.....


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Going somewhere... (part 3 - last part)

After "baking" in the sun for a good 1.5 hrs at the ostrich farm, we went to the fruit farm. All of us immediately rushed into the air-con room to listen to a sales pitch. The promoter was trying to sell us the honey and pollen and royal jelly the farm produced. They even sells tongkat ali! hahaha... got to try a little of the honey and then proceeded to the shop where they sell the fruits produced by the farm. There's an optional farm tour (RM$15/head) where the staff will bring you into the plantation to see all kinds of fruit trees and also try the fruits freshly picked from the trees. However, none of our gp members wanted to go for that tour, so we ended up getting some fruit juices and fruits from the stall and left the farm.The HUGE mangoes on sale!!! as big an an adults' head! SERIOUS.... Then there's the brazil longans on the right... huge as well... the texture of the fruit is abit crunchy... actually taste like a rambutan.The buah susu... erm, tasted it but i can't find some similar tasting fruit to describe the taste...Dinner time! We reached a local restuarant at the Kota Tinggi town central. As some of you may still recall, there were very bad floods at Kota Tinggi last year ard the X'mas period. There's still signs of the floods in the town area. Even the restaurant which we had our dinner... the flood waters reached the 2nd storey of the 3-storey bldg. The low bldgs opposite the restaurant are now unoccupied as the floods had made it unsuitable for stay. We had to rush thru' our dinner... the dishes were served all together, so there's simply no time to take any pics. Well, it's just some ordinary chinese restaurant fare....

After rushing thru' our dinner, we finally came to the last stop of the itinerary... the firefly-watch tour. We reached the jetty which is just 15 mins from our restaurant. Were briefed abt the tour along the way... we all have to put on life jackets as a safety measure... also kids were not allowed to sit on the outside of the ferry as they're afraid that they will get too excited upon seeing the fireflies, stand up and loose their balance. Anyway... an issue raised by our tour guide was that there shd be NO PHOTOGRAPHY allowed during the tour. Also to try to keep our volume low. MOST IMPORTANTLY, we shd not touch the fireflies shd they fly near us. The reason is a perfectly logical one. As fireflies are highly sensitive to noise and scent, once they come into contact with a foreign scent and happens to attach the scent onto their own bodies, when they re-joined their "group", they will be ostracised. Furthermore, the numbers of fireflies is on the decline all these years, which is only understandable with the pollution brought on by human and also the crazy weather we experienced these years.
The jetty where we take the boat... it was ard 7pm when we reached there...still we were the 2nd tour coach. However, we still managed to get on the 1st boat.
This shot is taken while we were on the boat, gng into the mangrove swamps. This is the last shot I have to share.... as it's near impossible to take any shots of the fireflies without flash... However, PLEASE do go for this tour if u have the chance to... the experience is simply awesome! Esp, since we're all living in an urban environment, there's simply no chance to see any fireflies, wad's more at their most natural habitat. Words really cannot describe the moment when we spotted the fireflies.... it's really really amazing.... it's almost magical for me.
to escape the heat


Going somewhere... (part 2)

Next stop.... Ostrich Farm. This is one place that the kids were looking forward to! Well, frankly, I got no idea wad to expect from this place, until the gates opened... Firstly we were introduced to the egg of the ostrich and then the whole life cycle and also wad parts of the ostrich were utilised after they were SLAUGTHERED! Some ostriches were confined in an area as it's the mating season now... too bad we din get to see any mating dance that ostriches were famous for. Then there were several boarded areas where different ages of ostriches are placed. It's a great place as we got to know alot more abt ostriches. To end off the visit, DS got to ride on an ostrich! I din expect him to be so brave to actually asked to get on an ostrich... but well, he did it and din show any fear... guess my little boy has really grown up!DD holding on to an ostrich egg... 2nd pic is a 1-week old ostrich, an finally DS on an ostrich ride.
This literally pushed the term "goose pimples" to a higher level!A one-day old ostrich, trying to struggle free of the egg.Polish chicken... the feathers on the head makes a beautiful crown... reminds me of a feather duster tho'. :P


Going somewhere.... (part 1)

This is how dark the skies were when I left home yesterday.....

NO LAR... I din really LEAVE home, but went for a day-tour to JB.

Since December last year, I promised to bring the kids to a day-tour which consist of visiting an ostrich farm, fruit farm (both in desaru) and then the finale of the tour, a fireflies watching boat ride at Kota Tinggi. I wanted to expose the kids to mother nature and this is definately a very enriching and interesting way to do so.

We started the day by leaving the house at 6.15am, to meet at a carpark where the coach is waiting.

The 1st stop after leaving the m'sian immigration was a coffeeshop at Sentosa. It's b'fast time and the food the tour guide was raving abt turned out ok. We were expecting it to be really nice when he kept describing to us along the way how delicious it was. We had prawn noodles, yong tau foo curry hor-fan and claypot bak ku teh, which is served either with rice or mee-suah. No pics of the food. Not too bad, but was rather pissed that they charged us RM$1.50 (for the prawn noodles) more when they know that we're singaporeans.
The morning was spent gng to some shop selling the local specialities, like pong-bia, tau-sar bia and even sour plums! (the tour guide claimed that the sour plums from that particular shop is good, not too sour and is a good relief for those with constipation problems!)

Before we went on a 1.5 hr ride to Pengerang, we stopped by Giant hypermart... ended up with lotsa tibits as it's selling at the same price as Singapore, only that it's in RM! (so it's actually half the price of sg)

After sitting in the coach for 1.5 hrs, we arrived at 四湾岛 (Pengarang). Went direct to have our lunch at a local restaurant. Food was not bad... there's prawns, fish and even crabs! Pengerang is known for harvesting small lobsters from the shallow seas... so we have that for lunch too. The lobsters were deep fried, marinated with curry powder. However, dun expect large and firm flesh, tho' it tasted really fresh.
After lunch, we ordered chendol from the stall next door.... VERY DELICIOUS... esp in this hot weather! and cheap too.... RM1.50 per bowl... the gula melaka is very fragrant.... After lunch, we were driven to a herb garden. Actually it's a small patch of land next to a temple. The garden owner also takes care of the temple. All the herbs are labelled and have details on the labels what it's good for and even how to consume them. The owner is incredibly friendly and helpful... if u request for certain herbs, she'll even cut some for u. But knowing human nature, alot of ppl will request and end up throwing them away once they reached home! We got to try chewing some of the leaves of the herbs. The plants are all organic, so it's very safe.