Saturday, May 17, 2014

Baker's Corner: Chocolate Raspberry Marshmallow Bars. A guest post for The Big Sweet Tooth

I am super stoked (and a tad nervous) about this post. I can proudly say that on my blog, it is the first of its kind. Presenting to you my first guest post on The Big Sweet Tooth

I've always wanted to do a guest post on another blog but I wasn't sure how to go about it. Do I wait until someone asked me or do I put myself out there? To me, such an invitation isn't much different to being invited to someone’s house. A blogger invites you into their virtual home out of regard and trust which is a pretty wonderful gesture. I don't know many food bloggers on a personal level and being an extremely lazy blog reader, I have only begun interacting with fellow bloggers within the blogosphere off late. I saw Rafeeda’s guest post a few months ago on a blog that I follow and after taking a peek at her lovely space, I saw how welcoming she was towards other bloggers to do guest posts on her blog. She is a mother of two adorable little girls and despite that, she manages to keep her blog running at breakneck speed with posts of her own, guest posts, hosting events and what not! Kudos to her for that! I thought it couldn't hurt to drop her an e-mail and in uncharacteristic fashion, I did. She replied almost immediately and was very nice about the whole thing. It being the year end holiday season, I was very busy during the time this whole conversation between me and her took place so I had told her that I would get back to her in a few weeks time. Picking what to make for someone else’s blog took longer than I thought it would. I had with me one sweet and one savoury dish so I ultimately sent her this dessert in January (going by the title of her prizes for guessing why!) that you see here

During her last visit, my sister gifted me with a recipe book from Marks & Spencer titled My Little Afternoon Tea Book. I flipped through the pages and caught sight of the recipe for Chocolate Raspberry Marshmallow Bars. I was drawn to the lovely photos and made a mental note to try it. I still consider myself a novice baker so I was wondering if it would turn out just like in the book but once I did, my fears were allayed. The only gripe I had with the finished product was that since I didn't have the recommended size of the baking tray and had to improvise, the bottom layer ended up being a little thicker than what it was supposed to be. Initially I was a bit hesitant about sending this recipe to Rafeeda because marshmallows usually contain gelatine but I discovered that nowadays you easily get not only halal certified brands but also brands that are suitable for vegetarians.

This is an interesting and versatile dessert with different layers of flavours and textures. You can make in advance for parties, potlucks or lunch boxes. It has chocolate, jam and marshmallows....what’s not to love!

I’d like to thank Rafeeda for welcoming me into her personal space. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this guest post for her

So, for the step-by-step recipe and photos, please hop on over to Rafeeda's space here.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Restaurant review: Jamie's Italian, Singapore

Jamie Oliver is one of my favorite celebrity chefs. He is unquestionably one of the most famous and recognized British chefs in the world. I've watched his shows on the box for years. I like how he cooks simple, unpretentious and wholesome food, time and again stressing on the importance of using fresh produce and natural ingredients. His enthusiasm and energy are infectious and I've always gotten the feeling that he is genuinely trying to revolutionize people's eating habits. He seems a tad mad at times but I only find that charming! Needless to say, when I heard his restaurant was coming to Singapore, I went a wee bit mad meself (tee...hee). I was even happier to note that the restaurant was scheduled to open in Vivocity, a mall which I happen to haunt as much as an in-house poltergeist!

Jamie’s italian was founded in 2008 on George Street, Oxford when two unique minds, Jamie Oliver and his friend/mentor Gennaro Contaldo (whom he met in the kitchen of London’s Neal Street) collaborated together to share Italian cuisine with the rest of the world. To bring to the forefront fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the bold and simple flavours and the relaxed way of sharing dishes. Since then, the successful chain has since grown to 30 restaurants worldwide with a growing international market.

Jamie's Italian is the newest restaurant that I patronize and a place that both me and hubby are fixated with! I had been waiting patiently to check out the place but the initial clamour was ridiculously insane with tables being booked months in advance. I knew that there was a walk-in option too but in a mall like Vivocity which is perpetually crowded 24x7, I didn't think that getting a table would be much easier. We visited this restaurant for the first time to celebrate our anniversary in January and it left us with a good first impression. We were extremely keen to go again on Valentine's day but having just returned from a holiday, we didn't get a reservation at the last minute. The next special occasion was my hubby's birthday in March so not to take any chances, he made a reservation weeks in advance. After that I went yet again with my gang of girlfriends on my birthday early this month. My review is a compilation of my experiences at the restaurant during the multiple times that I've been here.

On all occasions, once we informed the staff of our reservation, we were requested to wait a few minutes either at the bar table or the waiting area. Waiting goes by quickly when you are admiring the Jamie Oliver memorabilia (they have some good stuff for sale). The staff are friendly and eager to assist which reflects the restaurant's courteous attitude towards their customers. 


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Recipe of the month: Methi Pulao (Fenugreek Leaves Pilaf)

Usually whenever I'm on holiday in India, I don't venture into the kitchen very often. I take full advantage of my mum and MIL indulging me by preparing all the kinds of food that I like *grins* As a result, I end up overeating ridiculously and come back to Singapore lamenting about my increase in weight (which always happens by the way). I don't mind my own cooking but I find that I relish food much more when I'm not the one doing all the work! Before I sound like a pampered princess, believe me when I tell you that I do make it a point to cook on at least a few occasions when I'm home. I usually bake when I'm in my parents house in Mysore because I'm the only so-called baker in my family and my mum feels happy when her unused oven gets jolted out of its stupor. In my in-laws place, I usually go the Indian route and make a snack, a vegetable gravy or some rice preparation. During my last visit, I unexpectedly found myself with ample free time so I did manage to cook a couple of dishes. 

I am a huge fan of greens in general and can eat them every single day. I love fenugreek, mint, basil, dill, coriander, spinach, taro, bok choy and I use them extensively in my cooking. Fenugreek leaves (also called methi), are one of my most favourite greens. I use it to make rice preparations, dry side dishes, curries (check out my methi paneer), chutneys and dosa. What is good to know is that methi is said to have a range of health benefits, particularly towards the hair and skin. Most Indians use fenugreek seeds, fresh fenugreek leaves and dried fenugreek (kasoori methi) in a variety of dishes. 

One of the dishes that I cooked in my in-laws place during my recent trip back home was this methi pulao. I always used to make methi pulao a certain way by sautéing onions, tomatoes, ginger-garlic-green chilli paste, fresh methi and finally flavoring the rice with pulao masala. Sometimes I would throw in a handful of fried potatoes for good measure. But then I came across a recipe that was quite different from my own and I decided to check it out. This recipe has fragrant basmati rice, sauteed fresh methi, crushed ginger-garlic and whole spices cooked in coconut milk, ultimately garnished with caramelized onions and fried cashews. It is subtly spiced, rich, flavourful, not overpowering and most importantly, showcases the unique flavour of methi. All you need is a simple raita and your meal is ready. This dish doesn't really need any gravy or curry to go along with it since the rice has enough flavour to take center stage. I find that any pulao made using pulao or biryani masala for flavouring can taste kind of generic so once in a while, a dish like this makes for a refreshing change. I know sometimes it takes a lot to suppress the urge to throw in some masala powder or the other while preparing Indian dishes but for this rice, I request you to please control yourself! hahaha Whenever I've cooked this dish for family and friends, I have always gotten compliments for it so take my word for it when I say the outcome is delish. 

Here is the recipe. I didn't include step-by-step photos because the procedure is relatively simple and straightforward. So, the next time you feel like incorporating greens into your main course, you can consider making this rice....lemme know how it turns out!