Tuesday, October 10, 2006

In the Mood for...Warm Sticky Date & Fig Pudding with Creme Anglaise

Tried several Sticky Date Pudding recipes but always find them a tad too sweet for my liking and especially so coupled with the ever rich and decadent butterscotch or caramel sauce...diabetes alert!!! Chanced upon this easy-to-prepare recipe some while ago but somehow never found the time to attempt baking it. The original recipe is for a full 100% date pudding but I happened to be short on dates when the craving came and so decided to improvise and came out with my version with the addition of figs. Beautiful contrasting texture...soft, moist and warm and at the same time crunchyas you bite into the seeds of the fig. The pairing of the pudding with the Creme Anglaise is superb as it is not cloyingly sweet. High Yum Factor!

Warm Sticky Date & Fig Pudding with Creme Anglaise

Ingredients for Pudding :
200g Pitted Dried Dates
100g Dried Figs, chopped
150g Butter
250ml Water
3 nos. Whole Eggs
300g Brown Sugar
175g Cake Flour, sifted
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence/Extract

Method :
1. Preheat oven to 180 Degree Celsius.
2. Cook dates, figs, butter and water in a pot over medium heat until fruits are soft (about 15 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. Blend fruit mixture to form a puree and set aside to cool completely.
4. Whisk eggs and half of the sugar for about 5 minutes till thick.
5. Fold in fruit puree and gradually add in flour, baking powder and remaining sugar. Mix well.
6. Line muffin tins with paper cases and fill with pudding batter.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes or till cooked.

Ingredients for Creme Anglaise :
250ml Cream
250ml Milk
100g Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence/Extract or 1 no. Vanilla Bean
4 nos. Egg Yolks

Method :
1. Combine milk, cream, sugar and vanilla essence/extract or vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Gradually whisk the mixture into the egg yolks.
2. Return mixture to the saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

* To Serve - Warm pudding in a microwave oven, place assorted fruits on the side of the pudding and drizzle with the Creme Anglaise to finish.

** Special Mention - If you want that extra 'hic', er...I mean kick in your pudding, try adding in a tablespoon or two of rum or brandy to the recipe; or alternatively serve with some poached fruits laced with Grand Marnier. The choice is yours!

*** Post-mortem Report - If you are calorie-conscious, you can try to reduce the cream in the Creme Anglaise to 150ml and replacing it with milk. It will have a more watery, milky mouthfeel but not so heavy on your waistline!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Fancy a Guilt-free Ice Cream...?

Bugis Junction Food Street, B1
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm
Tel: 6333-8458

I was at Takashimaya last weekend and they were having a Food Fest in the Atrium. So...where there's food, you'll get the crowds! Much like what honey does to bees! There were loads of foodstuff available to satisfy all palates...well...almost!! I was dying for something cold when I came across this little corner kiosk selling soft-serve ice cream. This is no ordinary ice cream judging from the very long queue of people waiting patiently to get their hands on one. I thought to myself...it can't be that bad with that long queue of people waiting. I later found out that this is Uzumaki Soft Serve Ice Cream from Japan. It claims that it is packed full of goodness like antioxidants, vitamins and cleansing properties and contains almost no fat. It comes in eight flavour variants which include Matcha, Wasabi, Azuki, Sesame, Chocolate & Chip, Blueberry, Tencha Matcha & Seaweed Wasabi. And so I stood in line and waited patiently in the queue for my ice cream. A full 10 minutes of waiting before I came to the top of the queue...during that excruciating 10 minutes I was torn between a choice of either their popular green tea variant or the more exciting and palate challenging wasabi variant. I went the conservative way and decided against the risks. Unlike conventional soft-serves, this was dispensed in an one-shot dispenser. This is a British-patented machine that presses out oodles from pre-packed cups instead of the usual powder and liquid mix. Not only healthy, it is sterile - the ice-cream community made a big deal of this technology when it debuted in 1996. I had mixed reactions when I received my very 'safe' Matcha Ice Cream. At $4.00 a serve, I was expecting a monster of an ice cream but what greeted me instead was a meek-looking, kermit-the-frog green swirl of 'spongey' glob that was weak on substance, taste and texture. Given a choice, I would have preferred it with a stronger matcha flavour and a denser texture similar to premium ice creams. But...that's just my two cents worth! Try it out for yourself and be your own judge.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

High-Altitude Dining Experience @ Mezzaluna...

63rd Floor, State Tower Bangkok
1055 Silom Road, Bangrak
Bangkok 10500
Tel : +66 (0) 2624-9555
Fax : +66(0) 2624-9554

Website : www.thedomebkk.com
Email : reservations@thedomebkk.com

You've probably heard of the famous Sirocco Restaurant in Bangkok. The award-winning alfresco fine-dining venue on the 63rd floor of Bangkok's second tallest building, the State Tower. And so..what will a visit to Bangkok be if we missed out on an opportunity to wine and dine at this much-talked about restaurant. E did finally managed to book us a table a week before our trip there. And we came prepared and dressed to the occasion as they have strict house rules with regards to attire. However, with the rain and dark stormy clouds looming above, we had to kiss the opportunity goodbye and settle for the next best. You see, as Sirocco is an alfresco dining, they are inevitably affected by the elements and in this case, the threatening clouds and impending downpour! It was drizzling by the time the lift brought us up to the 63rd floor and we almost couldn't hide our evident disappointment. But there's nothing we can do to beat the elements. The only consolation the Service Staff offered us was for us to take a quick walk out onto the outdoor balcony and have a panoramic view of the mesmerizing nightlights of Bangkok's colourful skyline. The view here is just breathtaking to say the least and not for the faint-hearted nor for those with a phobia for heights! Anyway, back to the burning question...so where did we end up having our meal? We settled for Mezzaluna, another Italian reataurant also located on the 63rd floor but with indoor dining. We were not disappointed too inspite of settling for second best! Both Mum and I decided on the 6-course Degustation Menu which cost a whopping 3800 bahts because we were exhausted just looking through the extensive ala-carte menu. Dad settled on a Pan Fried Foie Gras with Pineapple Jus Reduction for his appetizer which he described as simply shiok! The sauce also complemented the dish well without being too overpowering and acidic. For his main course, he had his eyes set on the Chargrilled Matsusaka Beef with Potato Mash and Baby Spinach. Aiyo! Dad offered me a bite and my eyes just rolled up towards the heavens. This is supposed to be an in-between grade between the famous Kobe Beef and the equally famous and slightly more affordable Wagyu Beef. So...you know why I was in seventh heaven lah! The beef was so well-marbled and tender that it just literally melts away in your mouth! The portion served was big too which explains why my dad was generously sharing some of the beef with the rest of us. But the price tag was equally BIG too at 4200 bahts!!! That's even more expensive than my Degustation Menu put together!! E had a safe choice of Proscuitto with Melon for appetizer which like I mentioned was just safe (to read as OK lah, ordinary...etc) For mains, she had the Grilled Tiger Prawns and Scallops which was a great ala-carte choice as she wanted something light. Both the prawns and scallops were fresh and succulent and grilled to perfection. As for my Degustation Menu, I started off on an Antipasto Plate which consisted of a light assortments of pan fried foie gras, fresh oyster with a dill and lime mayo dressing, crayfish and tomato tian and proscuitto. Not a bad start to whet one's appetite for yummier things to come...Next up, came the Mushroom Cappucino with White Truffle Oil Drizzle. I particularly like the light foamy texture of the soup as you slish it around in your mouth. We had the Gratinated Canelloni stuffed with Maine Lobster next which was pretty ordinary. I was trying to find chunks of lobster in my canelloni but was disappointed when all I got was minced lobster stuffed into the pasta shells. To prepare us for our main course, we were all served a Pineapple Sherbet to cleanse our palates...Mmmm! Dad loved it and was complaining that they only served us one tiny scoop each. It's a palate cleanser not dessert, Dad! And so, we were served the Morelle Mushroom encrusted Lamb Noisettes. The lamb was delicately marinated and encrusted with minced morelle mushroom and baked. It was nicely done and juicy and without the 'lamby' note that some would find offensive in lamb/mutton dishes. It was light (to be read as small portion!) but appropriately so as we moved to the final end of the 6-course dinner. I was almost bursting at the seams already at this point...and there's still dessert to behold! I had the Lemon-Lime Brulee which was an apt finale to a wonderful and satisfying meal. Light both on taste and texture and simply enjoyable. If you next visit Bangkok and you have the $$$ to splurge on makan...consider the Sirocco for its food, picturesque view and unique alfreso dining experience. But if you have the chance, thanks maybe to unforeseen weather changes, don't forget to give Mezzaluna a go while you are there! I don't think you will be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Local Thai Dining Experience...

Ban Klang Nam
288 Soi 14 Rama III Road,
Bangkhlo, Bangkhlolame,
Bangkok 10120
Tel : 0-2689-1969, 0-2292-0175, 0-2292-2037
Open Daily 11.00 am - 10.30 pm

Mum, Dad, E and myself popped by nearby Bangkok last week for a weekend of gatronomy indulgences and shopping bliss. We didn't quite shop till we drop but we sure made sure we didn't miss out on any makan opportunities whilst there. The first night E brought us to this local haunt, a 'kelong-style' restaurant nestled on the bank of the Chao Praya River and overlooking the huge Rama IX cable-stayed bridge. The sweeping view of the river and the bridge is magnificent if you can get a table out on the verandah. First on the menu, we had the perenniel favourite, Tom Yam Goong. The tantalising concoction of sweetness from the fresh and succulent river prawns together with the tangy lime juice and a light lashing of coconut milk is enough is whet your appetite. Next came the Thai Otah Otah which was lemak but I felt could do with another pinch of salt or some nam pla to make it even more yummy! We ordered the Stir-fried Bittergourd Shoots with Minced Garlic as we have never tasted this vegetable before. This was an interesting dish as it was a cross between Dou Miao (Pea Shoots) and Fan Shu Ye (Sweet Potato Leaves). It was cooked just nicely without being too overcooked and stringy. Next up, E ordered one of her favourites, Deep Fried River Prawns with Garlic. The deep-fried prawns were fresh and succulent and the garlic nibs fried just to perfection were sweet and aromatic. We were recommended the Steamed Scallops with Minced Garlic. (Ahem...garlic again! Garlic breath aarrgh!) The scallops were thick and chunky and were steamed with just the right timing, making it tender and juicy. However, we felt that it lacked the natural seafood sweetness...maybe a case of frozen scallops as opposed to fresh ones?!? The next dish was also a highly recommended dish...Thai-style Salt Grilled Sea Bass. Fresh whole fish (read scales and guts intact!) packed in sea salt and thrown on the grill. The compacted sea salt layer ensures that the natural sweetness of the fish is retained and helps to evenly distribute heat throughout to ensure even cooking. To eat...simply remove salt crust...peel away the fish skin (scales come off at the same time!)...and enjoy! Simple fare but heavenly shiok! Next up...what is a seafood makan without crabs!? And so E ordered the Thai-style Curry Crabs which is also the restaurant's speciality. The crab was sweet and meaty but I didn't quite like the curry sauce which was a tad too sweet and lemak for my liking. It didn't help that they threw in some fenugreek to spice it up. But...having said all that..E still loves crabs! Finally, to top off the night's feasting, we had a satisfying round of Sticky Rice with Mango. Make sure you pre-order in case it runs of of stock towards the end of your dining experience. That will be such a huge letdown! Overall, the food was good and reasonably priced. Reservation is highly recommended. The Service Staff there speaks basic English and you can even get them to speak to your taxi-driver for routes to get to the restaurant (via mobile phone though). Well, at least that's what E did and it worked out well! I give the restaurant a thumbs up for food, ambience and pricing. Drop by for a meal if you have the time whilst in Bangkok.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Cantonese Cuisine Anyone...?

Majestic Restaurant @ The New Majestic Hotel
31 - 37 Bukit Pasoh Road
Singapore 089845
Tel :(65) 6511 4718
Email : restaurant@newmajestichotel.com
Mon - Fri : Lunch & Dinner
Sat : Dinner
Sun : Closed

Just two Sundays back, I was treated to a feast at the Majestic Restaurant at the New Majestic Hotel, a new boutique hotel situated in the heart of Chinatown. The restaurant is rather small with the capacity of just over 15 tables (smaller tables) with 3 private dining rooms. The kitchen is open-concept style and we can both see and smell the cooking of the delectables bites and the activities that goes on in the busy kitchen. Some of the chefs are rather cute too! First up...we had an appetizer plate consisting of a piece of crisp Peking Duck Skin sitting on top of an equally tempting slice of a melt-in-your-mouth foie gras and a huge piece of succulent tiger prawn that is lightly battered and evenly fried to perfection and tossed in a delicious wasabi sauce.The portion didn't looked too big, much like french cuisine (ahem...also to mean small food portion served on a huge plate!) but trust me by the end of it all, we were already bursting at the seams, if not then it's probably our wallet!!) The second dish was a soup...Shark's Bone Soup with Fish Maw and Beijing Cabbage. Wow! This soup really packs a punch! It didn't look intimidating at all when served...just reminded me of a runny cream soup. But when I had my first sip, I fell in love with it! The soup didn't taste creamy and fishy at all. It has a nice smooth, velvety almost 'gummy' texture to it, much like what you'll get by long-boiling a chicken soup, except better. Simple but heavenly...Next on the menu, we had a Steamed Scotland Bamboo Clam with Minced Garlic. Nothing extraordinary about this dish except that the Bamboo Clams were steamed with just the right timing without it being too overcooked and chewy. Dad loves the next dish which happened to be the Grilled Rack of Lamb with Chinese Honey Sauce served on a bed of Pan-fried Oriental Carrot Cake. The lamb was nicely marinated and grilled to perfection to retain it's natural flavour and juiciness. I particularly liked the sauce which is sweet and comes with a hint of char siew and hoisin sauce. The carrot cake was an unusual side-kick used to compliment the dish. Next up, we had the Braised Homemade Tofu with Roasted Garlic. It was nothing to shout about though the tofu was indeed silky and smooth and could almost glide down your throat. Our finally dish for the night was the Braised Noodle with Sliced Goose and Dried Leaf Mustard. Springy Shanghai La Mein with succulent slices of goose and Mui Choi...a nice simple finale! To end off the night's feasting, I had a hot Almond Cream with Papaya for dessert. Not too bad a choice except that the Almond was a little too overpowering (I think they were too enthusiastic when adding in the Almond essence). The dinner cost a bomb but nonetheless we all enjoyed a wonderful dinner together celebrating both E's promotion and K's belated birthday. I give it thumbs up for ambience and food. If you like to impress someone and want something a little different, you may like to consider the Majestic Restaurant for your next makan venue...but be prepared to pay and splurge!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In the Mood for...Curry Potato & Beef Pasties

Tried out Secret Recipe's ginomous Curry Puff some time back and was tickled into having a go at making my own version at home. I got out of bed this morning and told myself this has to be the day...so here goes!

Curry Potato & Beef Pasties

Shortcrust Pastry :
500g Plain Flour

250g Butter
1/4 tsp Salt
50 -70ml iced water

Filling :
4 nos. Large Potatoes (boiled and diced)
300g Minced Beef
1 no. Large Onion (diced)
4 tbsp Curry Powder (mixed into a paste with some water)
3 tbsp Oil
3/4 cup Water
Salt & Sugar to taste
3 nos. Hard-boiled Eggs (quartered)

Method :
1. Preheat oven to 200 Degree Celsius.
2. To prepare Shortcrust pastry, weigh out flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add in butter and rub butter into flour using fingertips till it resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Add in sufficient iced water to form a dough. Knead well till dough is smooth.
4. Place covered in the refrigerator for 30 mins before using.
5. To prepare Filling, saute diced onions with oil in a pan till softened and fragrant. Add in minced beef and fry till almost cooked. Add in curry paste and stir-fry. Add in the water and seasonings to taste. Lastly add in the diced potatoes and slowly simmer to absorb moisture into potatoes. Set aside to cool before using.
6. To assemble Pasties, roll pastry to approx. 0.50cm thick. Cut out rounds (approx. 15cm diameter). Place about 1 1/2 tbsp of filling and a quarter of the hard-boiled egg into the centre of the round. Seal the edges together and place onto baking trays.
7. Egg wash the pasties. bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or till golden brown.

* Special Mention - This jumbo-sized treat can be served as a main for lunch just by having a simple garden salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar on the side.

** Post-mortem Report - If you like your pastry with that buttery melt-in-the-mouth texture, increase the butter to 350g. However, I find it a tad too 'soft' for my liking. The 'soft' texture also posed a problem during pre-baking handling. Also, feel free to substitute beef with chicken or any other types of meat (either minced or cubed).

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Welcome to Chubby Chef....!

Welcome to the world of the Chubby Chef! Hope you'll enjoy your visit here. In the world of the Chubby Chef...you'll find tried and tested recipes (from anywhere and/or anyone who care to share their recipes with moi!), my latest food cravings and must-haves, some makan reviews and sometimes...I'll even throw some of my nagging thots! So...stay tuned and have fun! Feel free to drop me a comment when the urge arises...all are welcomed!