Friday, August 17, 2012

Baker's Corner: Iced Chocolate Cake

As I sat mulling over what sweet treat to bake next, it occurred to me to flip through one of my trusted cake books for inspiration. Hmmmm.....shall I bake a simple, non-fussy cake? How about if I whip up a batch of dainty cupcakes? Or shall I step out out of my comfort zone an attempt an intricate layered cake? All these thoughts were zooming through my head. At the end, I thought I'd stick to something basic since the realization hit me that a layered cake would be way out of my league! My agenda is to master the easy cakes first before going for something more complex. I always learn something new during each of my baking ventures and I have found that this helps me to better my next attempt. I picked this simple Iced Chocolate Cake from the book Mary Berry 100 Cakes and Bakes. Chocolate cake is an absolute no never fails to impress! And when it comes to cake toppings, a good icing is what I prefer.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Recipe of the month: Appam and Chettinad-Style Egg Curry

Appam (also called Aappam or Aappam hoppers) is a type of food in South-Indian (mainly Kerala) and Sri Lankan cuisine. It is eaten most frequently for breakfast or dinner. There are several variations of this dish. The variety shown here is the Vella Appam. These appams are fairly neutral in taste and mostly served with some spicy condiment or curry. They are made from a batter using rice, yeast, salt and a little sugar. After the mixture has stood for a couple of hours, it is fried in the "appachatti" which is a specially designed pan. In South-Central Kerala, it is mostly served with kadala (chickpea) curry, stew or egg roast.

Hailing from the state of Karnataka, I never had much association with appams during my childhood. The first time I ever tried them was probably a decade ago at a restaurant in Mysore that we used to frequent for brunch every Sunday. I had it with vegetable stew and I remember liking it a lot. During those days, my only association with appams was at that particular restaurant. I decided to learn how to make it (several years later) when I discovered that my hubby is a big fan of the dish and also because I am extremely intrigued by anything that requires a special pan/vessel to prepare it! Every time I go to India on holiday, I end up picking up some special kitchen gadget or equipment in order to try out the unique dish that requires it.

I arrived at this particular recipe for Vella Appams after a few failed attempts with other recipes. This one hasn't failed me to date. It is easy and the end result is good. I have no idea where I got this recipe from since I found it scrawled in pencil in a corner of my tattered old recipe book. After getting frustrated with recipes that were leading nowhere, I tried this one out (without much hope) and it worked like a charm. So, whoever came up with this recipe - thank you very much!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Happy Friendship Day!

"A true friend walks in when the whole world walks out."

It is the first Sunday of August and this day is celebrated as Friendship Day. Friendship Day is quite a phenomenon in India, especially among the school and college going kids. I haven't observed the same level of enthusiasm here though. The first thought that came to my mind this morning was the many happy memories that me and my friends shared on this day during our undergrad days in India. The tying of multicolored friendship bands, exchange of greeting cards & gifts, the thoughtful notes and messages, going out to the cinema and the parties...those were the days! Ah! What would we do without friends. We love them unconditionally yet sometimes we feel like strangling them! 

Here are 10 reasons I'm thankful for having such wonderful friends in my life

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Restaurant review: La Nonna, Singapore

La Nonna at Holland Village 

Holland Village is one of my favorite spots in Singapore. It is a small busy enclave in Buona Vista in Singapore which happens to be near my workplace. A popular venue for younger Singaporeans and expatriates, it is dominated by and often visited solely for its eateries and watering holes, along with some specialist shops selling non-traditional wares.

Whenever me and my colleagues have time to go out for a leisurely lunch, we invariably end up going to some restaurant at Holland Village. A few weeks ago, me and a bunch of colleagues decided to treat a fellow colleague for a farewell lunch as he was leaving to Switzerland to pursue his higher education.
We picked La Nonna, an Italian restaurant as the venue since we had heard that it had a good lunchtime promotion. La Nonna means 'the grandmother' in Italian so we were looking forward to some hearty Italian comfort food. We made the mistake of not making a reservation so by the time we reached there at 1pm, the restaurant was full and there were even people waiting ahead of us. One of the staff told us that the waiting time was about 15 to 20 mins, so we decided to wait while going through the menu. I liked their menu although it is limited. It had an interesting selection of antipasti, pastas, pizzas, other Italian main courses and desserts. There was a decent selection of vegetarian dishes too. We discovered that it was the last day to order the 3 course set lunch menu (priced at 22$ per pax) and since it looked really good, we all decided to go with that. We finally got a table but were disappointed to have been told that the 3 course set meal was sold out! It was only about 1:30 pm in the afternoon. They were offering another promotion for 1-for-1 any main course, pasta or pizza so we settled for that.