Baked rice for lazy people

17 01 2010

I’ve decided to turn this blog into a food blog of sorts, posting recipes every now and then in addition to travel/life/Japan related posts as and when I manage to churn them out.

Today I was craving baked rice really badly, and knowing my lazy self I knew I had to find a way to minimise the washing-up after.

So what I did was cook and bake the rice in the same bowl, all done in my toaster oven.

Recipe:

  1. 1/2 cup uncooked rice
  2. slightly less than 1 cup of water
  3. half a cube of chicken stock
  4. 3 tablespoons of tomato-based pasta sauce
  5. hotdogs/frozen vegetables
  6. cheese

Combine the liquid ingredients together in an oven-safe bowl, then heat up briefly till chicken stock cube has melted completely.

Add rice in, and let soak for 10 min or so.

Cover bowl with foil and cook for about half an hour at 1000w.

When most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, fluff with a fork and add in the hotdogs/frozen vegetables and leave to sit, covered, for a few minutes.

Finally, sprinkle cheese on top of the rice and bake till cheese is golden brown.

Tasty and convenient.





What I did today

25 03 2009
IMG_0646

MYLORD! We are awed by thy majesty!

I took my parents to try Japanese Pasta at Mylord in Shinjuku today.

Read the rest of this entry »





Lunch at Cedele

19 03 2009

I was treated to lunch at Cedele Depot at Wheelock Place yesterday.

To most, Cedele is synonymous with zero trans-fat and cold pressed olive oil – things that will not shorten your lifespan by a decade or so. 

I ordered a White Mushroom and Bacon pasta (penne), 

Yummy bacon bits with al dente pasta. Wheee~

and my friend had a Portobello Mushroom and Beef sandwich. 

Beefy and nice.

 

The Good: The food was, as far as I’m concerned, above reproach. Also, Cedele’s “healthiness” quotient was a sweet bonus factor. 

The pasta was chewy without being uncooked, and went perfectly well with the cream sauce, which was more flavourful and less oily than other restaurants. There was also a generous amount of bacon given, which imparted a delicate punch to the dish. 

Decadent without being sinful

Dessert was Lemon Jewel (Lemon-flavoured almond meal cake, supposedly with vanilla mascarpone but they ran out), and 2 scoops of icecream (Earl Grey and Fig, and Blueberry Cheescake).

The former was deliciously warm and moist, with a  delicately crunchy crust which went beautifully with the tart raspberry sauce and mellow vanilla icecream. 

The Earl Grey and Fig icecream was aromatic to say the least, studded with bits of pleasantly sweet and chewy figs. It’s a departure from the traditional Chocolate/Vanilla/Strawberry, but a nice one – I felt that the icecream was tasty without overdoing the sweetness. 

As for the Blueberry and Cheesecake icecream, it was comparable to Ben and Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake, maybe even better. A great blend of crunchy graham crackers and blueberry swirls that was just perfectly balanced between tartness and sweetness. 

 

The Bad: Service, unlike the food, was lacklustre. The wait staff took quite a while to respond to our frantic gesturing, and actually made a mistake with our icecream order. Our original order was actually for an Earl Grey and Fig, and a Caramel Sea Salt icecream -.- 

 

The Verdict: A definite thumbs-up for the food. Cedele has a rather varied and detailed selection of food both local and Western flavours, and it is also stated in the menu if each item is suitable for those with allergies/celiac disease. 

Cakes and other confectionery is made with unrefined sugar and has zero trans-fat, so those watching their health and waistlines may feel more comfortable with Cedele. The selection of cakes/bread/buns at Cedele bakeries is also very extensive, and tastes great to boot. I have to say though, their muffins are fantabulous 🙂 

The poor service was regrettable, but I doubt it will stop me from enjoying another meal at Cedele Depot again. Afterall it was  lunch hour when we were there.





If we could eat people…

4 03 2009

It occurred to me one day that interactions with people could be likened to types of food.

Comfort food
Food that is rather low-key, and may not be nutritious but somehow has a feel-good effect and triggers nostalgia.
Some people are like comfort food. They don’t taste particularly nice but you can eat them for days and days on end. Like warm, gloopy, but tasteless porridge. They may not add much value to your existence – porridge isn’t particularly known for its health benefits – but these people are the ones you can keep around you irregardless of occasion. Comfort food types include childhood friends, parents and the one friend you allow to see you in all your unglam glory.

Porridge doesnt taste wonderful but its nice on a cold day.

Porridge may not taste wonderful but it's nice on a cold day.

Snack
Food that exists to satisfy a random and temporary craving. May or may not have health benefits. Consumption of such food often occurs in between lessons, or late at night and frequently overlaps with the next group, Junk food.

Snack people are consumed in considerably smaller portions than comfort food people. Usually. They are the kind that you get the impulse to watch a movie with, maybe spend a whole day with, but nothing more. Too much just makes you thirst for something more filling. Just like how having snack food for every meal does not fill one up, associating solely with people who belong in the “snack” category tends to create emptiness of a sort. Places to encounter snack food people include school and the workplace. Entertaining but superficial associations.

Snacks arent meant to be eaten as meals. Not always anyways.

Snacks aren't meant to be eaten as meals. Not always anyways.

Junk food
Food that tastes oh-so-sinfully good…but is in reality really bad for you and will come back to bite you in the butt 10 years down the road in the form of high cholestrol/blood pressure/fat.

Junk food people are the type with whom prolonged association is either bad for you, or makes you feel bad. They may be interesting at first, and may even keep you coming back for more, but in the long run it ends up being a very draining association. No different from the feeling you’d get after consuming 2kg of MSG. The bottom line with junk food people is that consumption must be moderated, if not cut out completely.

These types can be found in jails etc. or right under your nose, in the guise of that good friend who is nice one day and guilt-trips you the next.

So tempting....but so sinful....

So tempting....but so sinful....

Healthy food
Food that is good for you. Your mother told you so. Healthy food contains all the essential minerals and nutrients needed for growth and normal bodily functions. However, the healthiest foods often taste little better than cardboard.

Nobody willingly approaches the healthy food figures in their lives; such dealings are usually necessary evils. Still, when you enter the realm of  “older and wiser” it is often then blatantly apparent that these people are the ones who have given the best advice and had the best intentions. Well life is half about regret anyway…

Healthy food types are most frequently encountered during the years in which there is nothing for others to gain by associating with you. Healthy food type people include nosey but well-meaning aunties and your Chinese teacher in JC.

Actually, I really like vegetables.

Actually, I really like vegetables.

(Good)Chocolate/wine
This may be self-explanatory to most people, but chocolate and wine are undeniably some of the little luxuries in life. Their complex flavours aren’t revealed in one bite/sip, but rather need to be savoured sloowwwwwly.

These people are the kind whom you’d want to spend a lifetime with discovering all the hidden sides to their multifaceted personalities. Unlike comfort food, every nibble brings out a new aroma, and that is what makes these people worth staying in contact with for a long, long time. They may be bitter at first taste (as compared to junk food) but that soon mellows to reveal a seductively enticing core. However, moderation must be exercised judiciously to avoid addiction/desensitisation.

Chocolates/wines are often manifested on anniversaries and Valentine’s Day, in pretty boxes.

Just kidding, these people can be found anywhere…if you bother to take time to let that truffle slowly melt instead of just chewing and swallowing it.

Chocolate is good for the soul.

Chocolate is good for the soul.





What you can do with a $6.25 box of cornmeal.

24 02 2009
Cornmeal muffins
Ingredients:
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
Vanilla essence
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
Mix all ingredients together, pour into muffin moulds and bake at 200deg for 20mins. 
Cornmeal Pancakes
Ingredients:
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
Vanilla essence
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup sugar
Mix all ingredients together and fry till both sides are golden brown 
Cornmeal pancakes and muffins are essentially the same thing, except that the former has the addition of skim milk. That’s all. They even taste suspiciously alike. 
Cornmeal mush is basically just cornmeal+water, cooked over a fire until glutinous and translucent. It can be used as:
  • Porridge substitute with your favourite pork floss etc
  • Breakfast cereal substitute. Tastes great with brown sugar.
  • Chilled till hard, sliced and pan fried. Delicious both sweet and savoury 
  • As a thickener in fruit smoothies (this is hypothetical, I haven’t tried it yet) 
Cornmeal rocks. Apparently it’s really cheap too. $6.25 for about 500g is actually on the expensive side :O 
On a side note, this blog is exactly a month old! Check out the newly updated
gallery page. 




Steamed Brownies

17 02 2009
Fresh out of the steamer.

Fresh out of the steamer.

Okay, the picture looks a bit gross but hey it tasted pretty good if I may say so myself!

I woke up today to the smell of pandan cakes being steamed – luminous green, fluffy things. My mother then developed a random craving for brownies kukus, a kind of steamed brownie that my father sometimes orders through his Indonesian client. So, I was persuaded into turning my normal baked brownies into steamed brownies!

Here’s how I did it:

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 drops vanila essence

1/4 cup self-raising flour

3/4 cups plain flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

200g semisweet chocolate

100g butter

Method:

  1. Beat eggs and sugar together with the vanilla essence
  2. Blend the other dry ingredients together and make sure the cocoa powder is fully incorporated.
  3. Chop up the chocolate and butter, and melt them together. Take care not to burn the chocolate/cause the mixture to become immiscible.
  4. When the chocolate-butter mixture is lukewarm to the touch, stir in the egg and sugar, then the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir for a couple of minutes till mixture is smooth and homogeneous.
  6. Steam at high heat for 15min, then low heat for 30min to an hour till a  skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Tip: Substitute all or part of the butter with canola oil for a low-cholestrol version. Bear in mind that this will cause some loss of flavour from the final product though…






Botejyu Okonomiyaki

11 02 2009

A couple of days ago, while my family and I were shopping at Liang Court, I developed this horrible craving for Okonomiyaki.

So we trooped to Botejyu on the 2nd floor in the pioneering spirit of trying new things. In fact I haven’t much experience with Okonomiyaki in Singapore before, the only time I’ve eaten it here being at Pachi Pachi (Cuppage Plaza).

Botejyu was not too bad. Foodwise, the Okonomiyaki was quite nice (but then again how bad can cabbage+batter smothered in sauce taste), and so was the yakisoba. My parents and I shared a mochi-cheese Okonomiyaki (that the restaurant is trying to promote as “Okos”) and a plate of seafood Yakisoba.

For some reason I still associate Yakisoba with lots of mayo and aonori.

The Good: The Okonomiyaki was nicely fluffy, and the Yakisoba noodles were superb as far as my limited experiences are concerned. The noodles differed markedly from the usual that you’d get at Taka basement, in the sense that they tasted neither prawny nor alkaline, and had a fantastic bounce in them. The noodles were slightly seared before frying, and were just nice and al dente upon serving.

Service was wonderful as well. We were served by a Chinese waitress called Xiao Shuang, who was very attentive and polite. My mum struck up a conversation from her and found out that she was from Fujian. Interesting. What impressed me was that she bothered to come round and ask us if the food was nice 🙂

The Bad:There’s something about the experience of eating Okonomiyaki in a small cramped place with good friends, that Botejyu is unable to provide. The swanky decor and lack of teppan does take away a significant amount of communality from the experience. It’s like eating carrot cake (the hawker centre kind) at Raffles Hotel.

The Verdict: Some 紅生姜 and 青海苔 would have been nice. Otherwise, the food here is not bad and I would reccomend it to anyone who wants to try Okonomiyaki and/or Yakisoba. Kudos to the good service.

However, those looking for a more rustic experience should look elsewhere. I’m thinking fondly of the Okonomiyaki that I had for dinner one night in Osaka with Japclassmates. It was a squishy little mom-and-pop place, about 5 tables or so in the whole shop. The table we sat at was 4 to a table but we managed to squeeze in a 5th person.

Mine’s the 1st from the right, prawn Okonomiyaki 🙂

Ravenous friends.

I miss the quaintness of paper menus tacked on walls, the warmth of the shared teppan in winter, the cramped shop where you can’t move without touching the person next to you….how the owners were like “OMGSINGAPORE”, our “I Never”  games.

Okonomiyaki is best eaten with friends. You can arrange your friends around the table, or chop them up finely and mix them into the batter. It lends a delicate quality to the taste of the final product.

Of course, one aspect in which Singapore exceeds Osaka is the complete absence of cigarette smoke in eateries. Yay.