Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Adam's Cookies Singapore: Cookies That Leave a Big Impression!

Call me a weirdo but I love cookies much more than cake or ice-cream. Seriously!

That said, as much as I like cookies, I don't really eat store-bought cookies very often. It is fairly obvious that good quality ingredients and the perfect recipe make great tasting cookies but the two don't always exist simultaneously. I prefer to bake cookies myself which I do on a regular basis. That's when they are fresh, warm, buttery and so divine! Well, if that makes me somewhat of a cookie snob then so be it!  

I usually like most flavours of cookies that I have come across (well, maybe not durian cookies!) but I am partial to traditional combinations such as chocolate chip, white chocolate and macadamia nut, peanut butter, gingersnaps and oatmeal-raisin cookies. I have certain specifications when it comes to cookies. I like large and chunky cookies which have a chewy yet soft texture and in case of chocolate-based cookies, I expect them to be fully loaded (otherwise what's the point, right?!). 

I was recently sent a box of assorted cookies from Adam's Cookies Singapore in exchange for an honest review. Initially I was only going to post my feedback of the cookies on my social media handles but the cookies were so good that I felt the need to do an independent blog post so it can reach more people. 

Sharing is caring, is it not?

Adam's Cookies is an online cookie bakery started by hobby baker Adam Neale. He developed his love for cooking and baking from his mother and grandmother. With a long-standing love for cookies dating back to his childhood, he decided to create his own cookies after not being able to find that dreamy cookie - a soft and chewy cookies loaded with chocolate.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Book review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I scrolled through the completed draft of this book review and pondered for a second if the length of the review was too short. And then I realized that I'm not reviewing multiple books in a series like how I've been doing the past few times! 😆 So, for a change, we are going with short and sweet for today's book review!

Before I get cracking on my review, let me tell you what I love most about my kindle. Yes, as a previously self-confessed hardcover and paperback book nut, I sheepishly confess that I LOVE my kindle. Now that I've got that out of the way, did you know you can get goodreads and kindle to sync? This makes it easy to review books (both on Amazon and goodreads), right from your kindle. When you link your kindle app to goodreads, it will automatically update your reading progress and your rating/review once you are done reading. I have had an account with goodreads for many years which I used sporadically to discover new books. But I never used it for anything more than that. Recently, I made time to update my profile and many of my reads with ratings and reviews. I so wish I had done this from the time I first set up my account! (one small personal regret that I'm trying to undo!). Anyway, I've added a bunch of books to my 'want to read' list and I intend to cross them off my list slowly and steadily. It is July and I'm more than halfway through my reading challenge for 2021 so I'm optimistic about meeting my target 😊

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is a novel I added to my list because I had been seeing glowing recommendations for it popping up all over social media and the blurb caught my attention. 

Matt Haig is an award-winning British author of both fiction and non-fiction books for children and adults. He is a champion for mental health with some of his work taking inspiration from the mental breakdown he suffered from when he was 24 years old.

Matt Haig's work of non-fiction, 'Reasons to Stay Alive', was a number one Sunday Times bestseller and remained in the UK top 10 for nearly a year. His bestselling children's novel, Father Christmas and Me, is currently being adapted for celluloid. In 2020, he released his novel The Midnight Library which went on to win the Goodreads Best Fiction Award for that year and was shortlisted for the 2021 British Book Awards "Fiction book of the year". The Midnight Library was adapted and broadcast for radio in December 2020.

Nora Seed could have been many things in life. Young, brilliant and gifted, she had all the ingredients to create the recipe for success. Being an exceptional swimmer, she could have made it to the Olympics. With a natural flair for singing and songwriting, she could have been a successful musician. With a brilliant mind to her credit and the heart to be an eco warrior, she could have studied glaciers in the Arctic and contributed to the fight against global warming. She could have expanded her horizons and travelled to Australia with her best friend to conduct whale watching tours at Byron Bay. She also could have enjoyed a quieter albeit comfortable life by marrying her boyfriend and running a pub in the picturesque English countryside. Yet Nora did none of those things.

At the age 35, her life is a cacophony of nonsense. She has been bogged down by expectations and regret at every stage of her life. Single, jobless, cash strapped, ghosted by her only living family member and haunted by a failed romantic relationship, she is in a downward spiral. The unexpected death of her beloved pet brings her to the end of life’s tether. It is then that Nora decides that she does not want to live anymore.

But when Nora takes a drastic step that leaves her hanging between life and death (a purgatory of sorts), she enters the transcendental Midnight Library. Located beyond the edge of the Universe, this library has an infinite number of books that act as portals to ALL the lives Nora could be living. The library acts as a metaphor for limitless possibilities. There are lives where Nora would make different choices from her original aka 'root life' with those choices leading to different outcomes and consequently, whole new life stories. 

While in the Midnight Library, Nora goes on an epic journey in self-discovery by living hundreds of lives and becoming hundreds of different versions of herself. Mrs. Elm, the kindly librarian from Nora's school days, happens to be the librarian at the Midnight Library and she acts as a guide for Nora to choose a path to commit without the crippling regrets. But the revelation that stuns Nora and changes her perception of life is how even the most seemingly 'ideal' lives come with their own set of challenges, imperfections and disappointments. 

Nora must do some soul searching to decide what fulfilment means for her and what makes life worth living in the first place.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Baker's Corner: Easy Peach Tarte Tatin

So Covid-19 restrictions are easing in many countries across the world. You know what that means right? Social gatherings to resume! While travel still may not be a feasible option for many people, meeting friends and family living within the country is the best way to get out of the isolation we have been in for so long. 

In the last 18 months, I can probably count with my fingers the number of people who have visited us at home. For people like my husband and I who LOVE to cook, invite people over and who would host dinners and small gatherings with ferocious regularity, this has been a rather disconcerting feeling. Even our children keep asking us why people don't come over any more! Fortunately, that has slowly started to change. In Singapore, for the past few days, the new local community cases have been in the single digit range and the vaccination rate (for the first dose at least) has risen to above 60% so it has really started to feel like a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We had a few small-sized social visits recently and it felt really good. Hoping for more in the months to come 😊

Since dinner parties could soon be a thing, I have the perfect dessert to sweeten things up!

The Tarte Tatin was accidentally created at the Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, Loir-et-Cher, 169 km south of Paris, in the 1880s. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. After turning out the upside down tart, the sisters were surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert!

The Tart Tatin is a sweet pastry in which the fruit (usually apples) is caramelized in butter and sugar before the tart is baked. It originated in France but has spread to other countries over the years. Originally, the tarte Tatin was made with two regional apple varieties: Reine des Reinettes (Pippins), and Calville. Over the years, other varieties have tended to displace them, including Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Gala.

Tarte Tatin can also be made with pears, quinces, peaches, pineapple, or even steered in the savory route by using tomatoes or onion. The Tarte Tatin is made with shortcrust or puff pastry.

This Peach Tarte Tatin uses canned peaches and store-bought puff pastry so it is kind of a cheat's version! This recipe requires only 4 main ingredients and the dessert comes together in less than 45 minutes. And won't you agree that it looks good? Trust me that it tastes very good! The sweet and slightly tart caramelized fruit with the hints of warming spice and the puffed up buttery pastry makes for a great combination. Serving this dessert with vanilla bean ice cream would have taken it a notch higher but I wanted to keep things simple so I did away with the ice cream. 

This is a forgiving dessert. Even if your caramel isn't the exact shade you intended it to be, even if your pastry isn't precisely centered over the fruit or even if the fruit slices get dislodged, you can get away with being messy and the dessert still tastes good!

If you have been following my blog, this dessert might look uncannily similar to my Caramel Peach Upside Down Cake. Both desserts taste good but this tarte tatin is easier and faster to make thanks to the puff pastry. Next time I'm planning to make this recipe with a few tweaks. I would like to use canned pineapple slices, add a splash of rum to the caramelized sugar, use toasted desiccated coconut and sprigs of mint for the garnish and serve it with coconut ice-cream to give it a tropical feel 😊 

I hope wherever you are living in the world, you do get the opportunity to meet and greet your loved ones real soon (if not right now). If you happen to be cooking for them then do give this dessert a go! 

Here is the recipe. I suggest that you go through the entire recipe to familiarize yourself with the steps involved and check out the notes section at the bottom for tips and substitutions. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Recipe of the month: Hara Bhara Kabab

I'm bringing you yet another Indian savoury recipe to make up for the lack of this category of recipes in the past year 😊

Hara bhara kababs are one of my most favourite Indian snack! These vegetarian kababs are pan-fried spiced cutlets made with a mix of spinach, green peas and potatoes. They are delicious, satisfying and reasonably nutritious as well. I am pretty sure I have mentioned this before but I love any dish that showcases herbs and greens. The vibrant green color and fresh 'herb-y' flavour really appeals to my senses. 

My husband made these kababs for the first time sometime last year. The recipe he followed suggested to finely chop the spinach and mash the cooked peas instead of pureeing them together. As a result, the kababs were not green in color and taste-wise, missed the mark as well. He was quite disappointed with the outcome and began scouting for other recipes. 

He tried the recipe you see in this post (with his own modifications) next and it was a total winner! He baked the potatoes in the oven and crumbled them while still hot thereby allowing all the steam to escape. This ensured that the potato mixture was free of the dreaded moisture (which can make the kababs soggy). He then pureed the spinach, peas and herbs with the aromatics without adding water (this is key!) to make a thick paste. The roasted gram flour and breadcrumbs helped to bind the mixture together to form a stiff dough which was easy to shape. He adorned each kabab with a cashew nut and shallow-fried the kabas in a mixture of ghee and oil on medium flame until browned and crispy. He has made it a few times after that and it always turns out so good. I'd even go as far as saying that it was restaurant quality. The children and I absolutely love it and keep encouraging him to make it! 

I am the one responsible for pan-frying the hara bhara kababs that you see in these photos and if you were wondering, yes, I tend to roast them a little more than what is considered normal 😛 You can cook them until the desired color and crispness, okay?

This is a great snack to make for the kids, during tea time or when you have guests. You can make them ahead of time, shape the kababs and refrigerate them. After that it is only a matter of shallow-frying the kababs which doesn't take very long. We like to eat these kababs with mint chutney and a tomato-based chilli sauce but any savoury yoghurt-based sauce or dip would go well too. 

Try this recipe folks. I am sure that you will love it!