Friday, March 25, 2005

Party alert!!!!!

Heh, heh, heh. I may end up having a friend over on Sunday and we're gonna cook. Well, what else can we do? My mind is running amok with insane ideas of what to do, and more than half these ideas are dessert ideas. I love putting together desserts. For some reason, I think dessert ingredients are easier to work with and make pretty than other stuff. My next favorite kind of food to make would be appetizer. Food from these two catergories have the most potential to be made pretty. You can tweak, arrange, play around and it'll all come out looking really, really pretty. Not to mention the amazing colors that will come together. Or maybe it's the hot weather. Not sure. But I'm getting some shot glasses tomorrow and there'll be experimenting in the kitchen with lemons, mint and agar-agar. Whoop! Oh god, a girlfriend is asking me to go party with her tomorrow. I shouldn't be going, right? Well, my judgement is severely lacking but I am. Gah.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Galettes De Riz Complet

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I discovered rice cakes because of my little sister. Like I said, my little sister is a vegan, so when she comes back to Singapore, there's usually nothing in the house that she can eat and no one wants to stock up on vegan food for her anyway. It's lame-assed family food politics. So one vacation when she was back, she dragged me along to Jason's supermarket at Raffles city where she bought a shitload of things, one of which was Luxemburg(?) rice cakes. Those were good. And expensive. A pack of 13 rice cakes went for something like SGD5. Ouch? Yeah. So the other day I was at Carrefour, this supermarket which is supposedly French and carries stuff from France and other stuff for really low prices. I love Carrefour for one thing. Cheap organic food. The organic food there is usually half the price that you'll get outside I happened to come across the house brand organic rice cakes. Yummy. And also, blueberry preserve, rhubarb preserve, boisenberry jam, pear jam and strawberry preserve. Didn't buy any of those because I liked my jams sugar free, but hey, cool. The rice cakes are as good as I always remembered them to be. I eat them with peanut butter and sugar free strawberry jam. Hamlet, my hamster eats them plain and he eats them very fast. I wonder if replacing bread with rice cakes makes me a tree hugging hippie? Hmmm.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Chutney Mary

Buying a hamster cage is tiring business, especially if you're me. I went to the Pet Lover's Center at Tampines Mall. To get home, I either have to take a bus No.10 or take a train two stops down the line and take a bus No. 14. Common sense would dictate that I take the bus No.10 and be done with it. But somehow, on the way to the bus interchange, I find myself inside the train station. On the platform, waiting for a train. What is wrong with that? And not only that, I actually missed my stop and ended up about two stops away. Right. My stop is the most un-missable one since it's an interchange and everyone sort of floods on. So by the time I lugged a hamster cage and 6lbs of bedding home, I was starving. And the first thing that came to mind was Indian food.

I have a longstanding love affair with Indian food. Apart from the fact that most Indian places are very vegetarian friendly, there's something about the spice that gets me everytime. So I think of the two Indian places down the road from me, I had a choice of Chat Marsala or Chutney Mary. I thought of going to Chat but then, Chutney Mary was on a stretch with more food places so if I didn't find anything, I could get something else. I got a takeout vegetable byriani. It was, well, disappointing. The first time I had vegetable byriani was in Cambodia. In Cambodia, when they say 'vegetable', they mean vegetables. It's something like French beans. cauliflower, potatoes, fresh peas and carrots with a healthy amount of tomatoes thrown in as garnish, all of it fresh. In Singapore, when they say 'vegetable' they actually mean 'frozen mix of peas, carrots and corn'. The byriani was spicy, filled with the mixed vegetables, cashews and sultanas. And a healthy dose of cilantro. I think I've fallen in love with cilantro. It adds such a great taste to everything. Dinner was filling and that was only half the container of byriani. And I think Chutney Mary is a good place for when I need something spicy and filling for dinner. It's nothing spectacular but it does the job and is pretty good.

Chutney Mary
719 East Coast Road. It's a few shops down from the coffee shop across the canal from Siglap Centre.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Perfect Pho

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There was this one day when I was looking through the internet for some way to turn tofu into fake fish because that very day, I had tasted the worst vegetarian 'fish' anyone could ever come up with. And suddenly, I stumbled upon a recipe for Pho. Or more specifically, vegetarian Pho. It looked pretty darn good and so I stored it up in my computer for another day. So comes today. I've had a uncler under the bottom of my tongue and my throat hurts badly on the left side. I decide that this is The Day for Pho and I make my way down to the supermarket for ingredients. Basil wasn't available and I thought I had ginger so didn't buy those.

I changed the broth recipe a little. Instead of using clear vegetable stock (Who has clear vegetable stock which tastes like anything, anyway?) I decided to boil up shitake mushrooms for a stronger stock. The stock was strained through a tea towel (Never knew how much little bits could come out of shitake mushrooms.) and then I threw in star anise, cinnamon, garlic, onions, bay leaves and left off the charred ginger because my ginger had gone all gross. Somehow, when you use your wrist to bash up garlic, 8 cloves of that stuff is a lot. After that, the soy sauce was thrown in liberally and a pinch of salt. I left it to boil for about 30 minutes while I cut up onion rings, washed the cilantro and deseeded the chilli padi that had already gone slightly dry. The rice noodles were left in boiling water to soften along with the beansprouts. After that, the whole thing was assembled. Rice noodles and bean sprouts, onions, cilantro and topped with a perfect red chilli. Hee. The soup was poured on, the lime wedges posed on the spoon and I snapped a picture of it.

The Pho was pretty good. I could taste the different spices used in the soup. Also when I poured the boiling soup on the noodles, I could smell the chilli and cilantro as they got a hot bath. For a person who screws up most recipes, I think I did pretty good on this one. Maybe tomorrow, I'll experiment with stewing deep fried tofu in the soup and using that to replace the beef.

Another project of today was the idiot proof red bean pasteI made. Never underestimate the ability of sugar. I was in despair when I realized that there was too much water in the bean mixture and I didn't want to add tons of sugar to get it to thicken. So I left the thing boiling on the stove and went to watch some TV and in about fifteen minutes, heard the thing spitting and hissing and discovered that the water had evaporated and the sugar had made the whole mixture sticky and shiny. The mixture was beat up with a whisk (a spoon couldn't stir up enough of the mixture at one time to prevent me from getting burnt.) and then thickened pretty darn fast from then on. What I'm going to do with that, I have no idea, but I'll figure something out. One day.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The one where she goes positively nuts.

Kinokuniya is a Japanese bookstore in Singapore. To my knowledge, there is one at Bugis Parco and another one at Ngee Ann City. The one at Ngee Ann City is my playground. It is a positively gigantic place with enough books to keep me happy for my entire life. I discovered that bookshop while shopping for my school books and discovered many little gems there, books I thought would never exist in Singapore existed there. And while the literature section is my heaven, I also discovered the food and drinks section this afternoon. And guess what? They stocked every single cookbook I've been lusting over for the past year.

1. Mrs Lee's Cookbook.

Not to be confused with The New Mrs Lee's cookbook. It's something I've always noticed in my dad's cookbook cupboard although he acquired a copy of The New Mrs Lee's Cookbook lately. I've been lusting after this cookbook because I want to cook like my dad and also, it's like an introduction to local-ish cooking things for me. For example, how to season a motar and pestle and also a nice long list of spices and other ingredients in all four local languages. I don't have to figure out what word for something like fenugreek is here any more. While I'm pretty fluent with 'western' cookbooks and cooking, I am a clueless idiot when it comes to anything Asian.

2. The Candle Cafe Cookbook.

Ever since I started my trip on vegetarianism and my little sister became vegan, I've been hanging around a vegetarian forum board. And one of the cookbooks everyone raved about was The Candle Cafe Cookbook. Considering how amazingly un-vegan friendly Singapore was, I did not expect to ever be able to pick up a copy of this cookbook locally. And I nearly had a heart attack when I saw it on the shelf at Kino. Which leads me to...

3. The millennium restaurant Cookbook and The Moosewood restaurant Cookbook

Ditto for those two as well. The Moosewood restaurant one has a chocolate cake recipe that according to most people in the forums, is to die for. You won't even know it's vegan because it is Just That Good. That recipe is one of the first ones I will try the minute I get my kitchen refitted this June. As for the millennium restaurant, it's apparently an amazing restaurant in California. I'm not sure which part but if I do take another 14 hour trip there again, I'm willing to make another two day long trip on the highway next to the coast to try it out.

And that is all. Although not waiting until June for a brand new kitchen would be nice. Also, a pestle and a motar, the kind that my dad and Jamie Oliver both have. And maybe a cast iron wok like the one my grandma left us. And loads of other nifty and cool kitchen equipment I can't wait to start collecting and using. I turn positively green when I go on Chocolate and Zucchini and see the posts about the mandolin slicer and the blowtorch. Why can't I live in a country where it wouldn't be illegal for someone to own a blowtorch?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Jazz and Grasshoppers

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What do the two have in common? Well, they're two of my favourite things. My love affair with Jazz started a couple of years ago when I first got my hands on a copy of Norah Jones's 'Feels like Home'. I was hooked, I tell you. Hooked. Then came Jamie Cullum and yet another love affair with singers like Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, you get the idea. Those were the people my dad listened to at what felt like ten thousand decibels, when I was younger and I positively hated until Norah Jones came along.

So anyway, this evening, by some wonderful twist of fate, I visited a jazz bar at Boat Quay. A very lovely and cosy jazz bar. Two walls were completely covered in a long couch and there was a small bar seperating the seating area from the stage. Very dark and very nice. Also nice was the view of the river from the window behind me. The exterior of the place looked tacky, but from the moment you step into the stairwell leading from the first storey of the shop house to the second storey, it was nice. And classy. And very inviting.

Tonight was pretty nice. The music was terrific and I got my first taste of a Grasshopper. The alcoholic kind, not of the insect variety. A Grasshopper is basically Creme de Methe, Creme de Cacao and vodka shaken together and served up in a nice little martini glass. There is nothing about a Grasshopper that I do not love. I have a scary addiction to anything which involves the twin flavours of mint and chocolate. You can never go wrong with pairing mint and chocolate together. Even mint flavoured hot chocolate is wonderful. A grasshopper is basically an alcoholic, well, melted alcoholic version of mint-chip ice cream. In my book, that qualifies as heaven.

1oz Creme de Menthe
1oz Creme de Cacao
1oz Vodka

Shake all ingredients together with ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Strain into martini glass and consume. Die and go to heaven.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

About everything.

According to the Mariam-Webster Online Dictionary:
Vegetarian: One who believes in or practises vegetarianism
Vegetarianism: the theory or practice of living on a diet made up of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and sometimes eggs or dairy products

A year ago, I developed an obsession for reading blogs. And I discovered food blogs. And I was hooked. So I thought that it was time to add my own two cents to the great WWW about food, et viola! This blog was born. Food is something which amuses me no end. The shopping for ingredients, the creation and putting together of something and all the artistry involved in it. Also, there's this insane obsession with kitchen equipment, I love cool and weird looking kitchen equipment so much, our relationship borders on unhealthily-obsessive.

Some trivia about me. I'm a Singaporean, I do English Literature in college and am a vegetarian as well as a feminist. I don't burn bras, but I don't wear them either. Most people's perception of a vegetarian would be someone who lives on salads and weird foods. And from most eateries I've been to here, they seem to think that vegetarians have no tastebuds. Even the vegetarian eateries are guilty of that. I don't eat meat or drink milk. Aside from milk being one of my body's worst enemies, I also have a problem with the non-existent ethics of the dairy industry. Being a vegetarian food blogger would be seriously interesting. It's an adventure I can't wait to cook and blog through, armed with cookbooks, food blogs and a kitchen.