My top 3 highlights for 2015

1 Jan

I have neglected writing for over a year because 2015 was a whirlwind of adventures for me. I didn’t spend as much time experimenting in the kitchen but is not all that bad. I took a backseat on the practical part and got tasted real food during my travels, exposing my palette to different flavours and ingredients.

The top 3 adventures in 2015 that will influence what I’m cooking and how I will cook for 2016 are:

  1. I got married in India (and then Melbourne). I saw Taj Mahal and ate real Indian food – chaats and home cooked Indian meals with farm fresh ingredients.

I’m really, really married. I had 2 beautiful weddings! (How much more married can you be?) I became part of an Indian family and I welcome this new addition to my identity . I’m finding the most practical way of incorporating this new part of my life, is to learn Indian cooking!

The past few times when I tried making Indian meals all by myself, I feel really accomplished when I saw Mr T’s satisfying grin on his face. I think I’m doing it right and I’m gradually getting used to the spices and remembering their taste.

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Wedding photography by Jon Low

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2. I had my honeymoon in Italy and we literally ate our way through

We had our long overdue honeymoon at September, just before we moved from our beloved Melbourne to Singapore. The trip was 3.5 weeks and we enjoyed Italy thoroughly. We love the architecture, the history, the art and the food. We love the food. We ate alot and we are extremely picky on where we ate. Even when we were exhausted, we will go the extra mile (literally) to find a place where they serve real/good food. We stayed away from tourist traps.

We had pizza at the oldest pizzeria in Naples, the best artisan gelato in Florence (I had them everyday), squid ink risotto in Venice, a wonderful Tuscan lunch at Chianti (of course, with a nice glass of Chanti Classico!), Bolognese in Bologna, another nice gelato in Milan (we were only in Milan for 1 day) We discovered a local coffee place in Rome, where we would visit every morning  (we name the barista Mario) and drank our coffee the italian way – standing up and zipped in and out of the place in 15 mins. There was no long, pretentious queue for good coffee like those in Melbourne. We ended the trip with a quiet, relaxing time at Lake Como, where I fell asleep after a glass of gin and tonic at the porch. Boy… do I miss Italy now.

I tasted real Italian cooking – not hard crust pizza, not soft pasta, real Italian tomatoes (there seems to taste more harmoniously in a dish than tomatoes elsewhere. Perhaps is the skilful used of it…) When in doubt, always go with the Basil + Tomato + buffalo mozzarella combo. I love the creamy, fresh Burrata I had in Tuscany and I would use that in place of mozzarella if I could get my hands on them.

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3. I move to Singapore, next to Johor Bahru, where I grew up.

Oh boy… my childhood favourite hawker food. hello! My tastebuds never mature, it simply remained 16 years old. The fancy food chains and the gimmicky taiwanese/japanese/korean snacks does not appeal to me. Anytime, I’m up for my traditional Malaysian kuehs.

This move also changed what I can make in the kitchen. The ingredients i’m used to are a premium here. On the other hand, the ingredients available in the supermarket are ingredients my mum would use, the yummy kueh people would use, which means is time to learn how to make food I like to eat as a child.

In 2016, I’m getting back to the kitchen. I would like to experiment with more spices in 2016,  try some kueh recipes, learn cooking from mum and start sharing my kitchen experiments again on the blog!

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Green tea soba with Roast Chicken on a hot lazy day

15 Jan

Melbourne heatwave has finally started. This year summer has being kind so far. December was cooling and I like that weather. 

I have overheard at Woolworth yesterday that their roast chicken goes on special every Tuesday. I love tight arse Tuesday. For only 8 bucks, I got a big roast chicken that a bride-to-be should not finish all by herself. (Yip! I’m engaged and I need to fit into a wedding dress!)

And so… this is the dish that I have created. Perfect for a lazy evening after work and in this hot summer day.

Ingredients

A handful of Green tea soba

Watercress

Mixed lettuce leaves

Cucumbers

Deep roasted sesame dressing 

Some roast chicken (from Woolworth)

Sesame Oil (Korean)

Soy Sauce 

Roasted Sesame seeds for garnish

Preparation time: 15 mins

1) Cook the soba noodle like how you would cook pasta. Add soba noodle into boiling water and cook for a few minutes until it is slightly softer than al dente. (You don’t want mushy soba noodle)

2) Slice up cucumbers. Drizzle roasted sesame dressing over cucumbers, lettuce leaves and watercress to make salad. Set aside

3) Chop up or slice up roast chicken anyway you like

4) Plate salad, roast chicken and soba noodles 

Enjoy!!!!

 

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Peach Melba Buttercream Pudding with Seasonal Fruits

4 Dec

Christmas is around the corner. This is the time where everyone is travelling oversea. I was thinking this might be the year where I can finally have 4 weeks off and fly overesea just like most people I know, but guess not. I wasn’t allow to extend my leave… 😦

Just before everyone part way – until we will see each other again in January – on Saturday we had our Christmas party that was planned almost 3 weeks ago.

This Christmas party is planned with a twist. I knew all of us can be a Masterchef when we are inspired. Hence everyone has to bring a dish and everyone in the party will vote for their favourite dish. We have 3 entrees, 2 mains and 3 desserts. ( one of the guys pull out from mains ).

I was allocated to make a dessert. I agonised for weeks on what to make. I wanted to challenge myself yet I knew I didn’t want to disappoint the party for bringing a dish that was still a work in progress and is not my best. I try not to overwhelm myself with an overly complicated dish driven with advanced techniques. Afterall, I have only learnt the difference between a whipping cream and a whipped cream. Mr T says, I should try to avoid any dish that requires oven for now… 😦 (I haven’t have much luck with my baking recently, after a failed attempt on my cheese souffle)

I finally opt to make a pudding like dish, plus I get to try gelatine, which I never have experience on. It doesn’t requires alot of technique but I can still produce something pretty. I didn’t win with this pudding I made, but it was a crowd pleaser. I received a few positive comments and everyone wiped off their portion even though we all have reached our limits.

I found this recipe from Delicious – Simply the best.

The idea is a layer of buttermilk pudding and a layer of peach jelly. I think this will also works well with mango instead and I will try that 1 day, especially when this is the mango season. Also, experiment the finishing fruit pieces. Try kiwi. Try adding passionfruit pulps to the fruit pieces. Try crunchy fruits like apples or fruit jellies. Have fun trying!

(Photo taken by Claire)

My variation

I have reduced the sugar, as I would like the sweetness to come from the fruit pieces and the peach melba. Also, I don’t like dessert that is too sweet and sugary.

I have also reduced the size of each serving which is just right for each of us, with all the food we have to eat and already eaten, the buttermilk pudding can be overwhelming for the already filled tummies.

Also, I would think using canned peaches will also be much more convenient, so one won’t have to stress about peeling the skin off while having to worry about wrapping KK presents, showering and needing to put on make up – all this in 1 hour.

Peach Melba Buttermilk Puddings with Seasonal Fruits (adapted from Delicious – Simply the best as featured in previous post)

Serves 6 standard glasses or 16 small cups

5 titanium-strength gelatine leaves* (perhaps try it with any gelatine leaves?)

600ml thickened cream

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

400ml buttermilk

4 ripe yellow peaches (or use canned peaches)

Mixed fruit pieces to fill up the glasses

1) Soak 3 gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 mins to soften.

2) Place the cream, sugar, vanilla and buttermilk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

3) Add the gelatine into the mixture and stir to dissolve. Remember to squeeze excess water out from the leaves

4) Strain the mixture through a sieve, as there are pieces in the buttermilk and we want the smoothest texture in the pudding.

5) Cool slightly and pour the mixture evenly among the glasses that will be used for serving. Set the pudding in the fridge for 3 hours or until it set.

6) Prepare the peach melba by softening the peach in boiling hot water. Cut a small cross on the bottom before adding peaches into hot water. Then remove the skin after it cools.

7) Place the flesh with the stones removed in a blender and puree until smooth. Then pass through a sieve. Meanwhile soften the last 2 pieces of gelatine leaves in cold water.

8) Warm the puree a little and add the last 2 pieces of gelatine leaves into the puree. Stir to dissolve again.

9) Add the peach mixture into the glasses after the 1st layer has set. Return to the fridge for another 2 hours or until set

Further tips

– Use ripped yellow peaches so is easier to peel the skin off after boiling and is much sweeter

– If you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 tbsp white vinegar to 1 class milk and stand for 5 minutes before using to home made buttermilk

– Use canned peaches.

– Passing the peach puree through the sieve is a pain, so allow time. Replacing this with bottled juices will not work as juices from the shops will be in clear liquid which will lose the colour on the 2nd layer.

– Make sure the first layer is set before pouring the 2nd layer or you won’t get the segregation

For people who are wondering who won:

The highly anticipated Mango Mousse

The underdog starter dish – Rockling with Oyster Mushroom and secret sauce

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