baking fiends unite!

Friday, June 26, 2009

2009 food review #3 - The Line, Shangri-la

Took a day off work yesterday to celebrate Mom's b'day. I booked a table at The Line, located at Shangri-la Hotel. They are having a Birthday promotion now, where you get a discount off the bill depending on your age... for example, Mom's 66 this year, so we got a whopping 66% discount off the bill! It's quite incredible, isn't it? But the catch here is that you have to call exactly 1 month in advance (in my case, 25th May) to try getting a reservation. Each reservation is limited to 8 pax, so the 9th person in your group will have to pay full fare. Thankfully, we went in a group of 8... so no extra charges incurred! :P

Anyway, it was a beautiful day to start with and we reached the resturant just slightly after 12noon. It's buffet style and my 1st visit to the restuarant. The buffet line is really huge! The variety offered is rather overwhelming. I spent a good 15 mins just walking around trying to decide on where to start...
Finally decided that I should "attack" one table at a time. LOLz. I started off with seafood... sashimi and the boiled crabs, prawns, mussles and a must-eat, the oysters... everything was so fresh and succulent! Really relish every bite.
The sushi bar.... yes, those are slabs of salmon, tuna and squid... yum!

Maybe I shd let the pictures do the talking.... BUT I did not capture every dish/line available. The restuarant was enjoying a full house and of course that meant each line had guests q-ing up for food. So I thought I better not be in the way too much. Furthermore, I had my growling stomach to settle too!Roast beef....Couscous, risotto and ravioliOne of my favourites... Laksa. The broth is really thick!Part of the Indian food line....*grin* chocolate fountain! But sadly they only have mashmallow and cakelets for dipping.Selection of bread....Ice cream counter... the mango sherbet is so full of goodness! and chocolate ice-cream is really creamy and not-too sweet. We get to choose from a wide variety of toppings too!AHHHHH... DESSERT.... love love love... need I say more? LOLz...Dessert line again... can you spot those macarons?Fruits... strangely limited selection of fruits available. And the shelf above? those are nonya kuehs.

Frankly, I only sampled 50% of the dishes available, and was stuffed to the brim! There are also a dimsum bar, salad bar and many other dishes that I did not get to try, and the pictures are missing in this post too.
I'll go for this buffet again if the promotion is a long-term affair(let's see who's b'day is coming up next!). Currently, the price for per adult is $44++ and per child is $23++. ++ means additional of 17% (service tax and GST).


Monday, June 22, 2009

Dark Chocolate Macadamia Brownies

Giving in to my cravings of brownies. :P

Very moist and fudgy.... hmmm... i'm in fudge heaven!
What you need
  • 200gm butter
  • 180gm dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
  • 180gm caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 4 eggs
  • 150gm self-rising flour (sifted)
  • 100g roasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 100g dark chocolate droplets
What to do
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line an 8-in square cake tin with baking paper and set aside.
  • Melt 180gm of dark chocolate and butter in a brain marie. Once the mixture is smooth and shiny, set aside to cool for 8-10 minutes.
  • Once the chocolate mix has cooled, add caster sugar and vanilla extract and whisk in till smooth. Then add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. The mixture should be thick and gooey.
  • Coat the macadamia nuts and 100g of chocolate chunks in flour and set aside.
  • Fold in the flour into the chocolate mixture.
  • Fold in the coated macadamia and chocolate droplets.
  • Pour batter into the lined baking tray and bake for 40-50 minutes, or till a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it.
  • Once baked, allow to cool completely, then chill the brownie in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm it up, making it easier to slice.

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Earl grey cheesecake

Settled on an earl grey cheesecake recipe for Father's Day. From the recipe, I deduced that it shd be similar to the Japanese cheesecake, which is soft, fluffy and light.

However, I underbaked it and that explained the "pear-shaped" figure that the cheesecake spotted. I followed the recipe and baked it for a good 70mins, but I guess it's still not enough. Anyway, after leaving it overnite in the fridge, it tasted good! Moreover, the earl grey taste was not prominent enough... or maybe the cream cheese is too strong? hmm....
Here's the recipe for anyone interested to give it a go.

What you need (for a 9-in cake)
For the base:
  • 120gm crushed oreo cookies
  • 55gm soft butter
For the cake batter:
  • 500gm cream cheese
  • 30gm icing sugar
  • 12gm earl grey tea leaves
  • 150gm water
  • 50gm butter
  • 1 no. egg yolk
  • 2 nos. whole egg
  • 3 nos. egg white (ard 120gm
  • 80gm sugar
What to do
  • Simmer tea leaves in water for 3 mins. Use 80gm.
  • Grease mold, lay baking paper at base & wrap base wif alu foil.
  • Add in butter to crushed oreo cookies. Using a spoon, press and smooth the cookies onto the base of mold.
  • Melt cream cheese using brain marie and make sure there are no lumps.
  • Mix in icing sugar.
  • Beat cream cheese using the mixer, till fluffy. Add in soft butter.
  • Add in egg yolk and whole eggs and beat till combined.
    Add in earl grey tea and some tea leaves (optional)
  • Place mixture over brain marie but do not on the fire.
    Whip egg white till frothy and add in sugar till wet stiff peak.
  • Lighten cream cheese mix with a little of egg white. Fold in remaining egg white into mixture.
  • Place mold in water bath, bake at 180C till it turns golden on surface, lower temp to 150C till baked, ard 65-75mins.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Food Review 2009 #2 - Golden Spoon Restuarant

OH! I just realised that this is the only 2nd published food review for this year! Well, I had some drafts but delayed them so much that I forgot how the dishes tasted like, so I can't really comment much on them...haiz... I know, I'm a BIG procrastinator!

Anyway, back to this review... I live near the Tiong Bahru area, a quaint little neighbourhood which has alot of yummy eateries. This time, my bro suggested we go for a new restaurant opened in one of the small lanes near the Tiong Bahru Market. The owners of this restaurant were formerly from Jumbo Seafood Restaurant, and I read rave reviews about them, so without any hesitation, I agreed to his suggestion. Surabaya Chicken : This dish rocks! I had no idea how the chicken was prepared when I was reading the menu. In fact, I was really curious how the dish actually looks like as it was called "dirty chicken" in Chinese in the menu! And the waitress explained to me that it's a very special dish and there's nothing "dirty" in it. LOL... when the dish finally arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. It's a deep fried chicken and those golden strips you see in the image are dried cuttlefish! Paired with a sweet dark sauce (tasted like kecap manis) it's PERFECT! I just couldn't stop eating.Stir-fried Baby French Beans : This were crunchy! Lightly flavoured and this is the first time I had baby french beans.One of their signature dish, Hae Zhor : Crisp beancurd skin, fresh and juicy insides. I can actually taste the crunchiness of the prawn paste. This is truly well-done! One of the best hae-zhor I had eaten. Thumbs-up!
Steamed Fish : This is "Ang goh-li" fish. It was steamed just right! and generously sprinkled with chopped garlic and spring onions. Yums!Drunken prawns : The prawns were reallllllly fresh and the shell came off so easily! It's cooked just right but the only grouse I had was that the sizes of the prawns were a little small. The broth was so sweet and aromatic too!Sea Cucumber and mushroom stew : Quite ok. Nothing to shout about...Cripsy Beancurd : Another of their signature dish, this beancurd really took me by surprise! I was not expecting much I guess, but it's delicious! There were bits of century egg within the beancurd.. and I even spotted salted egg yolk! DH took a piece of it and was commenting that it's good and then realised that there's century eggs in it. He does not take century eggs at all but still managed to actually eat a piece of the beancurd without realising there's century eggs inside. And SIL, who doesn't take tofu or bean products, took 2 piece of this!Yam paste (orh-nee) in coconut : finally... dessert time! Actually I was already very full from all the food but I just can't say no to yam paste. It's my favouritest-tiest dessert! And when the waitress described this dessert to me, I was completely sold. BUT, I was really disappointed. This dessert did not deliver at all. Firstly, having the yam paste in the coconut doesn't do anything at all to add to the flavour. Then the portion is really small (as in there's so pathetically little yam paste in the coconut). And then as you can see in the image, the yam paste spotted a really funny brownish colour instead of the purplish colour yam paste should have. Boy.. I'm so disappointed! What a way to mark the end of a nice meal. Darn...Anyway, out of 10, I'll give this restaurant a 8 (just make sure you don't order the yam paste as dessert :P), then I'm sure you'll enjoy yr meal. Price-wise, they are very reasonable. We spent around SGD25/head.

One of walls in the restaurant.... the many trophies and awards they received.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Durian puffs

We had a tropical fruit party at the office last week. After the event, I brought home boxes of (leftover) durians. Guess we over-bought. :P

Anyway, there's no such thing as too much durian in my household. After sharing it out with my siblings and the kids, I still had a substantial amt left. So, I took out the spoon, put on some plastic gloves and removed the flesh from the seeds. Kept the durian flesh in a plastic container, wrapped with many layers of clingwrap and plastic bags and left it in the fridge. The next day, I took out the durian flesh and pureed them. I had 2 options, either a durian mousse cake or durian puffs. Being a Saturday, i was too lazy to run go buy a pack of cream under the hot sun, so I settled on making puffs (or choux pastry, as more commonly known) instead.

After the puffs were done, I piped in the durian puree... no added cream whatsoever... it's just pure 100% durians! and boy... I'm in durian bliss once i bit into the puff!

I'm going to post the choux pastry recipe here, with some modifications on my part, as it is a really really fantastic recipe. Thanks to Florence for sharing her recipe!
What you need

  • 85ml water
  • 50g butter ( i used salted butter)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 50g bread flour (sift it together with cake flour)
  • 20g cake flour
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
What to do
  • Boil water, butter and sugar in a saucepan till bubbling. Turn the heat to low.
  • Add in the sifted flour mixture in one go and mix with a wooden spoon till a dough is formed.
  • Still on low heat, cook the dough for 1 - 2 minutes till a thin white film appears at the bottom of the saucepan.
  • Transfer dough to a mixing bowl and beat till it is lukewarm to touch.
  • Add in egg by thirds and mix till well blended and smooth.
  • Place batter into piping bag and pipe it onto a lined pan in rounds of about 1 inch in diameter.
  • Bake at 200C for 25 minutes then 180C for 8 - 10 minutes or till golden.


Honey Castella Cake

There had been alot of mention about this cake for the past few years. While it did not really caught on in Singapore, bloggers in HK and TW had been raving about this cake. There were also many recipes floating around... and a wooden baking mold is needed for this cake! However, the price of a wooden mold did not come cheap in Singapore and it's not so easily available. So I held off baking this cake. Of course there were others who tried to use metal tins for this bake. I believe most were successful. What attracted me to the cake was the texture of it. The photos posted for the cake shown somewhat a nice fine crumb, almost like a pound cake. But it's essentially a sponge cake!
So there I was doing my usual blog-hopping when I came across a recipe for this cake. It looked simpler than the others I've encountered, so I saved the recipe and decided to work on it last nite. Everything went well, till I tried to tent the cake during the last 15 mins. When the cake was finally done, I removed the tent and lo and behold! It had shrank! I guess it could be the oven temperature when I adjusted it after 20mins into baking... still I cooled the cake and resisted trying a piece till this morning.
Verdict : This cake tasted exactly like a sponge cake! except that it's very sweet and a strong honey taste to it. The crumbs are indeed fine. A good cake to go with tea. :)

Maybe I should really try one of the other more "tedious" recipe for this cake as a comparison. I had not eaten a REAL castella cake, so there's no base for comparing. Well, back to the drawing board then. *shrug*