Friday, February 26, 2016

A Few Of My Favourite Things (2)

I'm back with this segment! If you have no idea what this is about, then I suggest you check out my first series that I posted last year 

I've been busy with guests from India since the start of the week so although I have been cooking, it hasn't been keeping the blog in mind. It'll probably take me a while to bounce back with a recipe post and not having read any book or watched any movie of late, I decided it was time to gather my thoughts and come up with five things in Singapore that I truly love.

So here is my next set of favourite things,

Note that these listings are in no particular order of preference

1. Milk Pan at Provence Bakery & Cafe

I was introduced to Milk Pan by a colleague/friend sometime in 2011. Since then, my love-affair with this delicate Japanese bun filled with milk custard has been a fierce and unending once. Don't be fooled by the appearance, these plain and boring looking buns are irresistible!

There was a time when Holland Village was my usual haunt because of its proximity to my work place. Holland Village is a mecca for foodies as it houses restaurants offering all kinds of cuisine, cafes & bakeries. And when in Holland Village, a stop-over at Provence would be mandatory for me. I've tried a lot of baked goodies at Provence but the one thing that stands out for me is the Milk Pan. Soft on the outside, softer on the inside with a smooth, creamy, milky filling that will put a smile on your face.

I can't explain it any should taste it to understand the obsession!

Holland Village Shop
269 Holland Village 
Petit Provence
50 Jurong Gateway Road,
JEM #B1-K13,

2. Singapore Sling at Long Bar (Raffles Hotel)

When cousins from the US flew to Singapore to visit us a few years ago, we took them to Raffles hotel. This beautiful colonial style building houses Long Bar, the birthplace of the Singapore Sling.

The Singapore Sling, widely regarded as the national drink of the country, was first created in 1915 at the Long Bar in Raffles Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. It later went on to gain international fame and a century later, is still enjoyed around the globe.

Singapore Sling is one of my favourite cocktails so I had to taste the original. Sipping the iconic drink whilst flinging peanut shells on the floor (yes you can litter!) was a truly memorable and uniquely Singapore experience.

Long Bar
Raffles Hotel
1 Beach Road Singapore
Singapore 189673

3. Sticky Date Pudding at PS. Cafe

I had been to PS. Cafe with a large group of my girlfriends during Christmas a few years ago. I was advised to keep room for dessert since the restaurant offered a good selection.

The Sticky Date Pudding (steamed) was my absolute favorite dish of that evening. This dessert is presented beautifully, is moist, light, not overly sweet and has an interesting texture. The luscious sauce and ice-cream only enhances this decadent dessert. A must-try!

You can check out my review of PS. Cafe (Palais Renaissance) here

Palais S.C
390 Orchard Road
Level 2
Singapore 238871

(Note that there are more outlets)

4. Quesadillas at Blooie's Roadhouse

Quesadillas feature commonly on our weekend menu and when we are entertaining at home. My hubby specializes in this dish and he serves it alongside salsa, guacamole and sour cream. His rendition is inspired by the quesadillas at Blooie's Roadhouse (click here for more).

To rewind a bit, I acquired the taste for quesadillas from Blooie's Roadhouse, an American pub/restaurant on Upper Bukit Timah Road that was short walk away from our previous condo. We used to go there ALL the time (this was before we had the kids) and for the starters, we would order the quesadillas served with salsa, sour cream & guacamole and jalapeno poppers without fail. When it comes to quesadillas, I like them simple. I know of people stuffing them with refried beans, mushrooms, avocado, bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, ground spices, herbs and other stuff but I just like them to have grated cheese and nothing else. That's how it is done in Blooie's and it is this simplicity that I love.

The pic you see below is atrocious (the lighting at Blooie's is dim) but trust me when I say that this dish is yumminess on a plate!

West Coast Branch
21 Science Park Road #01-01
The Aquarius (Science Park II)
Singapore 117628

Bukit Timah Branch
Rail Mall
426/428 Upper Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 678053 

5. Gajar Ka Halwa at Zaffron Kitchen (East Coast)

Zaffron Kitchen is a restaurant I've been to innumerable times (ever since it opened at Westgate). But the very first time I visited this restaurant was several years ago at their East Coast outlet. At the time, me and hubby were at the newly opened Katong mall on a Sunday morning to watch a movie in Gold Class. After the movie, we were contemplating where to go for lunch and we ended up heading towards Zaffron Kitchen which is a stone's throw away from the mall.

After a hearty meal, we were in two-minds whether to order dessert or not. I am not a huge fan of Indian desserts (unlike the husband) so I usually end up sampling a bit of his plate. After much deliberation, he ended up ordering the gajar ka halwa, a carrot-based traditional Indian dessert.

The gajar ka halwa looked like art on a plate. It was warm and creamy with ghee oozing out of it (take a good look at the pic). The Ben and Jerry's vanilla ice-cream complimented the halwa beautifully.

I haven't been to this particular location since then (and I don't know if the standards have remained the same) but I still dream of that to-die-for gajar ka halwa!

East Coast
135/137 East Coast Road
Singapore 428820
Tel +65 6440 6786

That's a wrap!

Let me know your thoughts on my favourites. Are they yours too?

Until next time!


Note: This is not a sponsored post. The opinions and recommendations in this post are solely from personal experience. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Baker's Corner: Sweet Onion Galette with Gruyere and Thyme

It was somewhere around the middle of last year that I started obsessing about making a galette. It took this long to finally happen! My original plan was for a heirloom tomato galette because all the pictures I had seen looked so vibrant and gorgeous. But then I saw a plum galette followed by an apricot-cherry galette and then a strawberry galette and those looked stunning too! With so many possibilities, my obsession turned into a delicious confusion 

It is widely believed that a pie is intimidating and meant for perfectionists. But a galette? It is the cracked crust and irregular shape that makes it so appealing. Call it a free-form pie, a rustic tart or simply a delicious flaky treat. Any way you roll it, a galette is the perfect dish for the imperfect cook. Even though there's pastry-making involved, the crust is more forgiving. A little leftover dough is an easy fix for any pastry tears. Not to mention, a galette cooks faster and more evenly when compared to a pie. So you can clearly see why I chose a galette over it's more daunting counterpart!

Yesterday, I made up my mind that I would wait no longer and dive right into it. I still wasn't sure on the kind of filling to use. I wanted to do something savoury because I've already featured a sweet dish this month (check out my last blog post). So for one last time, I scrutinized the savoury recipe category and out of the blue, settled on this one because it looked irresistible, had commonly available ingredients and seemed pretty easy. Aside from the fact that the whole thing is made from scratch, it has a buttery crust, onions, herbs AND cheese....come on!! It doesn’t get any better than this, does it? Heirloom tomato galette and fruity can wait a while longer (sorry!)

The filling in this Sweet Onion Galette needs just 8 ingredients, the dough needs just 45 minutes to chill and it bakes in under an hour (both of which are idle times for you) so this dish is fuss-free and comes together fairly quickly. Simple, rustic and honest. Gotta love that right?

This was our brunch today and it was such a satisfying one! Check out the recipe for this scrumptiousness and don't waste a second before trying it out for yourself! 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Day Special: French Chocolate Mousse

Yes I'm aware of the fact that Valentine's Day is two days away but I posted this dessert today to lend a helping hand to those who haven't yet decided on what sweet treat to whip up for that someone special. Ain't I a dear?

Chocolate mousse is a classic favourite that is immune to the vagaries of fashion. Richly flavoured, yet light as air, this dessert epitomises sweet chocolatey indulgence. The exact debut of chocolate mousse in France is unknown. Did you know that mousse is derived from the French word mousse which means “foam”? Once only a specialty of French restaurants, chocolate mousse entered into American and British home cuisine in the 1960s. Since then, it has been making waves in the dessert arena.

I don't believe in toying too much with classic dishes in the name of modern gastronomic innovation. Don't get me wrong....I am no purist but I draw a line when it comes to over-the-top, crazy culinary twists. While working on this post, I came across recipes of chocolate mousse that have incorporated olive oil, avocado, tofu, basil, coconut, coca cola, chilli flakes and more such shudderingly odd ingredients. I skimmed through scores of low-carb, sugar-free, vegan, dairy-free, guilt-free, paleo....blah blah fad recipes till I arrived at this one and heaved a huge sigh of relief along with a simultaneous exclamation of 'Eureka'! Thank heavens for the good people who steer clear of grossly adulterated recipes.

With a few rare exceptions, all chocolate mousse recipes have two basic ingredients - 1. Chocolate, which is of course the star of the dessert, and 2. Egg white, which is whipped into a foam and then added to the melted chocolate to provide the light and foamy texture, which is the cornerstone of this dessert. Most recipes I browsed through used cream but I decided to pass on that. Cream undoubtedly give this dessert a softer and lighter texture but for recipes using dark chocolate (which in my opinion works best), this ingredient dilutes the flavour of the chocolate. I have modified the recipe slightly to suit my preference. This recipe calls for two not-so-traditional ingredients namely vanilla essence and coffee. I made an exception to these two since vanilla counters the ‘egginess’ of desserts and coffee enhances the chocolate flavour.

I had kept the major share of this mousse stashed at the back of the fridge for later in the evening when my husband got back from work but I couldn't resist grabbing a spoon and greedily digging into one of the glasses of chocolatey goodness. Rich-creamy, dark-dreamy, velvety smooth chocolate mousse. Perfection!

Seriously....look me in the eye and tell me you don't want to eat that!

This Valentine's Day, indulge in this to-die-for dessert that comes together with just a handful of ingredients  ❤ ❤ ❤

Friday, February 5, 2016

Restaurant review: Lunch Buffet @ Sattvam - Bangalore, India

So if you have been following my blog, you would know that my husband and I recently completed 10 years of togetherness as a married couple. To celebrate this milestone, we were looking to enjoy a lunch date together. My in-laws readily volunteered to baby-sit the twins so we would get some time to ourselves. Being all too familiar with the notorious Bangalore traffic snarls, we didn't want to venture out too far so settled on SATTVAM, a restaurant serving Sattvic cuisine located near us. My in-laws who had previously dined at the restaurant, highly recommended it.

Situated in the up-market and plush Sadashivnagar area, Sattvam provides a unique dining experience for the discerning and health & spiritually conscious Bangalorean. In addition to an a la carte menu, this restaurant offers the largest vegetarian buffet in the city comprising of soups, starters, chaats, salads, breads, rice, main courses with accompaniments and desserts in Indian and adapted world cuisines. Patrons can also get a taste of Sattvam through an exclusive pastry shop at the ground level which offers exclusive Sattvic bakes made in the in-house bakery.

When on Sankey Road, look for the Godrej Nature's Basket and you know you are on the right track. A private lift takes you up to the restaurant. Once you are at the waiting area, you can glimpse wall-mounted plaques of the the numerous awards & accolades the restaurant has garnered.

Now, I wasn't clued in on Sattvic food. It sounded pretty insipid and uninspiring to me. A spread of vegetarian food without onion and garlic is food that cannot possibly taste all that good (in my mind) so I was intrigued by the concept and did some further reading to enlighten myself. Turns out that the online menu of the restaurant provides detailed info about the Sattvic cuisine and lifestyle and served as the main source of information which I am sharing with you here (so I don't get credit for it ok?).

We are what we eat is the popular and proven adage and the right balance of pure food is imperative for the creation of a person in Sattva guna - a person who has balance, order, and purity in himself. The original Sattvic diet was devised for the development of a higher consciousness and is prescribed for a consciously spiritual and healthy life; a perfect diet for clarity, physical strength, sharp mind, good health and longevity. The Sattvic diet is a regimen that places emphasis on seasonal foods such as fruits, dairy products, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and non-meat based proteins. Sattvic foods are rich and abundant in 'Prana', the universal life force. It requires avoiding canned and processed food, and foods prepared with chemical fertilizers or sprays. It also means properly prepared fresh foods. Onion, garlic and caffeine are taboo in a Sattvic diet as they cause denseness in the body. According to the Vedas, Sattvic foods are juicy, wholesome and pleasing to the heart, providing subtle nourishment for positive vitality.

What makes Sattvic food so salubrious is that all dishes are prepared and served fresh. Leftover food is never served or consumed. Hence Sattvic foods have a very low probability of forming 'ama', or toxic build up in the body This is the inherent philosophy behind Sattvam, a culinary experience which promises to be divine, pure and spiritual.

The interiors of the restaurant are appealing. The space is bright, well-ventilated, elegant and spacious which resonates with the quiet simplicity and dignified ambience of the Sattvic lifestyle. Trellises within the restaurant, sheer panels, fabric curtains and upholstery, lotus stencilling on the ceiling and lotus motif on the panelling are noteworthy design elements. Temple motifs, such as the Mahadhwar or main door, shanka and chakra symbols are woven seamlessly into a contemporary setting.

Soft, piped music playing in the background lends a soothing touch to the dining experience.

The views from the restaurant is enhanced by the rich foliage and stately trees visible from the large glass windows.

A live station, an elaborate buffet counter and the a la carte menu aim to give the insightful and perceptive diner an experience worth remembering.

We mentioned to the staff that we would like to sample the lunch buffet. We were informed that soups and starters would be served at the table. We were presented with a tangy tomato shorba which had juicy red pomegranate seeds in it (whoever thought of that is genius!) and six varieties of piping hot starters encompassing two types of kebabs, paneer tikka, tandoori pineapple, baby corn manchurian and dragon roll. All the items were good especially the hara bhara kebab and an encouraging sign of the quality and range of food to come.

Now, anyone who knows me well enough knows that I like to strategize and plan things. So, when there is an elaborate buffet in front of me, I first time my time to scan and survey everything on display and mentally plan out what I want to eat and how much of! I advise you do the same because the buffet at Sattvam is not your usual run-of-the-mill buffets. You don't want to overindulge and then discover something interesting you would have really wanted to sample.