31 October 2008


A delicious and appetizing dish but messy to cook as oil splatters everywhere in the kitchen.  Cook it once in a while for family to enjoy as they love it and also to increase the appetite of my 3rd child who is undergoing stress over her 'O' level exam.

Slice pork into thin slices and marinate with salt, sugar, soya sauce and pepper.   Dread pork with cornflour and coat with egg white individually to deep fry over hot oil till golden brown and crispy.

Sauce :
Cut onions, tomatoes, red chilly, garlic and ginger
Mix together tomatoe sauce, chilly sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, salt and water in a rice bowl
Taste and adjust seasoning
Fry ginger and garlic till fragrant
Add in onions and fry for 3 mins, add in tomatoe and chilly slices
Pour in sauce and let it boils
Blend 1 tablespoon cornflour and bit of water
Add into sauce and stir till thicken

30 October 2008


According to a herbalist, who had written many books on soup, soup cooks without meat tastes as good as long as the ingredients are well balanced.  Meat can be replaced with beans and fungi or algae.

Ingredients :
Yellow cucumber, adzuki beans, soya beans, black beans, 5 pieces dried mushroom (soak and cut into cubes), 1 sweet date, 2 pieces dried tangerine peel

Rinse beans
Remove the pith of cucumber and cut into large pieces
Put all ingredients into boiling water
Reduce heat and cook for 3 hours
Season with salt

Note :
Choose mature yellow cucumbers that are heavy in weight, large with brownish yellow skin and cracked patterns on surface. Cooking with skin on enhances heat-removing effect.

29 October 2008


Cupcakes are our obsession but not with too much cream.   Apples and lemon are good combination and what with an abundance of granny smith in season, I baked Apple Lemon-Curd Cupcakes.

Apples :
Peel and cut 2 apples into thin slices
Add water to just cover apples in a pan
Add in 1 tablespoon brown sugar + cinnamon powder
Boil till apples turn soft

Sponge Cake :
125 gm butter, 1 cup icing sugar, 4 eggs and 1.5 cup self-raising flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and sugar until creamy
Add in beaten eggs, slowly at a time and mix thoroughly
Fold in flour with a metal spoon
Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into individual paper cups
Bake till cake is spongy
Put a piece of apple in the centre of cupcake

Lemon Curd :1 cup lemon juice, 2 egg yolks, 60 gm butter, 2 cups water, 6 tablespoons cornflour, 1/2 cup sugar

Place cornflour and water in a bowl and whisk until smooth
Place cornflour mixture, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan
Heat over medium-high heat and whisk until mixture boils
Remove from heat when mixture thickens and cool for 5 mins
Add in yolks butter, whisk vigorously till well blend
Pour curd on top of cake and refrigerate

Marvelous cakes - sweet and tartness with strong lemon fragrance.

28 October 2008


For a change from eating too much green leafy vegetables everyday, this colorful diced vegetables and meat dish looks like precious gems.  This dish is not only colorful and delicious but also gives good roughage.   It is also ideal dish for children who do not like to eat leafy vegetables.

Ingredients :

minced pork, prawns (optional), 1 big onion, 3 medium-size carrots, 4-5 medium-size potatoes, 2 tomatoes and garlic.

Dice carrots and potatoes to boil until soft. Reserve carrot water
Dice onion and tomatoes
Marinate pork with salt, sugar, light & dark soya sauce and cornflour
Fry onion till soft and add in garlic to fry till fragrant
Add in pork and fry till cooked before adding tomatoes
Pour in carrot water and cover to boil for 5 mins
Throw in carrots and potatoes and stir till thoroughly mix
Test taste and adjust seasoning

The dish tastes better overnight.

25 October 2008


To cook everything in a pot is a convenient way of preparing meal.  Savoury rice is a common one-pot meal and you may add in varieties of ingredients. I normally use dried and preserved ingredients - chicken or minced pork, mushroom, liver sausages, cuttlefish, shrimp, szechuan vegetables, mui-choy, fresh bamboo shoots, garlic and ginger.

Boil rice with water which had been used to soak mushroom, shrimp and cuttlefish.  Season rice with sugar, salt and Japanese sweet sauce (mirin).  Marinate meat and leave aside.  Fry the garlic, ginger, cuttlefish, shrimp and mushroom until fragrant.  Add in these ingredients when rice is boiling.  When rice is almost dried sprinkle on top the rice with meat and rest of the ingredients.

24 October 2008


When my eldest daughter is on vacation break from univ she likes to cook.  One of the dishes are stuff portobello mushroom.  She marinates the minced pork with cornflour and seasoning, mixed in onions, garlics and mushroom stalks.  Stuff mushroom with pork mixture and grilled over high heat till meat is cooked.

23 October 2008


Had dinner the 2nd time in Cafe Cartel but ended up unhappy.  The food was a disappointment and did not meet our expectations.

It was on a weekday and there was quite a crowd.  We ordered 2 set-meals which included free flow of bread and drinks - peach ice-tea and Sprite.  As usual DH ordered his favourite spare ribs which was a disappointment.  The ribs were not well marinated and was dried. The taste was bland and suspected that it was instant sauce.  A complaint was lodged.  His mood was spoilt by the spare ribs the whole night.

The ice tea was full of peach flavour.

The pasta was delicious - creamy and smooth

The fried fish and prawns were crispy and not oily.  The french fries were full of flavour and crackling.

The chicken lagsana was tasty but was spoilt by the texture of the meat.  Beef should be used instead of chicken.

It will be the last time we patronise.   Hope they take note of our complaint and improve on the food.

21 October 2008


Food is the good choice to cure exam fever.  Nutritious food such as tonic soup and dessert to alleviate the stress and jittery of exam fever.

Starts off with favourite sweet pastry fruit tarts - baked peach tarts.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
150gm cold butter
3 tablespoons castor (super fine) or icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons ice water

Mix flour and sugar together
Add chopped butter and mix, until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
Add enough ice water to form a smooth dough
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins
Pinch a small dough into tart tin and press to fill tin
Prick lightly with fork, place on a baking tray and chill for at leat 30 mins

Pre-heat oven to moderate 180C
Bake pastry for 10 mins
Remove from oven and brush the bases lightly with egg whites to seal
Cool and then spread each case evenly with jam

90gm butter
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
60gm ground almonds
125gm castor sugar
3 tablespoons self-raising flour
2 tablespoons fresh milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tin sliced peach in syrup

Cream butter, sugar and lemon rind till light and creamy
Beat in the eggs a little at a time
Using a metal spoon fold in the flour and ground almond, then the milk last
Place a slice of peach into each pastry shell
Spoon filling into the pastries and smooth the surface
Sprinkle some ground almond evenly over the top of each tart

Bake for 20 mins or until set and golden brown

Serve hot or cold.

As there is still left-over custard from the previous berries pastries, I used the custard for fresh peach tarts.  Fill the case with custard and top with peaches.  Boil 5 tablespoons of syrup in sauce pan and add in 2 gelatine leaves till dissolve.  Cool and spread over the peaches. Refrigerate till serve.

20 October 2008


I know the picture looks horrid and do not do justice to the dish but it is delicious.  The ribs are tender and full of flavour and is a good dish to go with rice.

Marinate the ribs with brown bean sauce, tomatoes sauce, oyster sauce, plum sauce, salt, sugar and light & dark soya sauce for 1 hour.  Saute the onion and garlic till fragrant, add in the ribs and fry till meat are light brown.  Add in water to cover 3/4 of ribs and simmer for 1 hour.  Place potatoes, carrots and radish on top of ribs and simmer till vegetables are soft.

To tenderize ribs marinate with lemon juice for half an hour and rinse before adding marination.

19 October 2008


I hated bitter gourd when young and my mum used to force me to eat whenever she cooked it.  As I grow older I tend to enjoy it.

Nowadays I cook it often and my children love it.  I normally stir-fry with black bean sauce and soft bones pork or boil it in soup with red dates and dried oyster, which claims to clear the body system of toxic.

The soft bones pork are marinated and stew in brown bean sauce until tender before adding to the bitter gourd during frying.

16 October 2008


Cannot resist the beautiful strawberries and blueberries on display at the supermarket that I bought a punnet each.  I intended to use them in pastries and bought a packet of ready-made puff pastries due to my laziness to make the pastry from stretch.

Roll out the pastry and cut up into rectangular shape.  Make a dent in the centre of the pastry and place them on the baking sheet to refrigerate.  While the pastries are in the fridge, make the custard cream.

Mix 2 tablespoons of custard powder with 570 ml of fresh milk in a saucepan.  Add in 3 tablespoons of sugar & vanilla extract and stir over medium fire.  When nearly boiling add in 2 pieces of gelatine sheets.  Keep stirring and slowly pour in 1 beaten egg till thoroughly mix.  Bring to the boil. Leave to cool

Prick all over the pastries and brush egg white over them.  Bake until puffy and brown.  Spoon custard cream into the dent and decorate with berries.

15 October 2008


A popular dish in Asian cuisine.  Kangkong, also known as water convolvulus, is an easy to cook vegetable.   I like to stir fry with sambal belachan or preserved bean-curd.

14 October 2008


How about some sweet and sensual dessert after having tasted savory food?

Let us have some chocolate cupcakes with fudgy glaze which my daughter baked for her classmate's birthday.  She followed the recipe from Dorie Greenspan "Baking From My Home To Yours" on page 215.

Ingredients :
1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 tspn baking powder, baking soda and salt, 120gm unsalted butter at room temperature, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 large egg, 1 large egg yolk, 1/2 pure vanilla extract, 1/2 cup buttermilk & 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy.
Add sugar and beat for about 2 mins, until well blended.
Add egg then yolk.
Beat in the vanilla, reduce speed and mix in half of the dry ingredients.
Add buttermilk until incorporated and follow with rest of dry ingredients.
Add melted chocolate and divide batter evenly among paper cups.
Bake at 170C for 22-25 mins until cakes are springy to the touch and a knife inserted into their centre comes out clean.
Cool cakes before glazing them.

The cakes cracked due to high temperature at 180C.

For the glaze :
3 ozs bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, 3 tbspn confectioners' sugar, sifted, 30gm cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Melt chocolate in a bowl over saucepan of simmering water
Let it cool for 5 mins
Stir in confectioners' sugar into chocolate, follow by butter
If glaze loses its gross, blow a puff of hot air from a hairdryer before serving

The cakes were delicious and well received.

13 October 2008


Peanuts are rich in calcium, phosphorous and proteins.  It is highly beneficial for tendons and bones and promote the development of brain cells and improve the memory.

Chicken feet are rich in collagen and according to "old wives tales", it strengthens leg muscles.

Ingredients : Peanuts, red dates, chicken feet and 2 pieces of dried tangerine peel.1. Rinse peanuts. Core red dates.
2. Soak peel until soft and remove the pith
3. Scald chicken feet and rinse
4. Bring dried tangerine peel and water to the boil
5. Add all ingredients and boil for about 2 half hour.

To avoid soup from becoming too greasy leave the nails of the chicken feet intact to prevent the oil leaking out from the chicken feet.

11 October 2008


During my younger days in 1960s life was not a luxury and most families were poor and produced many offsprings.  Married women were not working and stayed at home to look after kids thus the burden fall on the shoulder of the men.  The food we ate was simple and meat was only eaten during festive seasons.  The common food we had for meal were beansprouts, beancurd, and preserved food such as preserved eggs, salted fish, ikan bilis and vegetables.  Thus to have chicken or pork for meal was a luxury.

Marinate chicken (I prefer to buy wings and drum sticks than whole chicken as we do not like breast meat) with salt, soya sauce, sugar and ginger juice for 1 hour.  To steam, add 1.5 rice bowls of sh'ao xing wine into the chicken (do not add water) and add in mashed garlics and wolberry seeds.  Steam chicken over high fire till juice runs clear when pok with a skewer.

To consume cold put chicken in the fridge for 1 hour before serving.

09 October 2008


Curry chicken for dinner.  Curry leaves and lemon grass enhance the flavor and aroma of the dish.

The curry paste is best prepared by using the mortar & pestle than using the blender.  It brings out the taste and the texture is finer when using the mortar.

05 October 2008


This soup is effective in eliminating heat and also good for the elderly.

Ingredients : Carrots, radish, sugar cane, lalang grass rhizome red dates and chicken stock.

04 October 2008


Exam time is here again where most parents will get stress up instead.  I will cook tonic soup for my children to increase their mental power and to concentrate better in studying.  The suitable soup to concoct is pig brain with tian-ma.

Pig brain is very cheap and for a dollar you get 2 pieces.  To clean the brain all you need to do is to use a toothpick to remove blood vessels from the brain, rinse and blanch in boiling water.

Ingredients : 2-3 pieces of tian-ma, wolberries, dried longan and 20 gm dang-shen.
Put all ingredients together with pig brain and water in a soup pot and double boil for 2 hours.  Add salt to taste when serving.

Tian Ma arrests convulsion, relieves dizziness and headaches.  It mainly treats headaches and dizziness, paralysis numbness of the limbs and difficulty in speaking due to stroke and rheumatic conditions.

02 October 2008


I was trying to look for agar agar strips in Killiney NTUC but was out of stock so I ended buying 3 packets of almond jelly mix.  I prefer to use agar agar strips instead of instant mix as they taste and smell funny.  As my children are longing for this dessert I bought to try it out.

The instructions on the packet to add 350 ml of water to the packet of mix but I reduced 50 ml to make sure that the jelly set to the right consistency.  It just simply mix with water and more sugar, if you prefer a sweeter version, and cook mixture till boiling.   Pour jelly into mould and set.

The jelly turned out soft but consistency holds

We also tried out with peaches in syrup but tasted sourish. 

Longan makes a better choice.

01 October 2008


With the F1 going on and downtown roads closure on weekend we ended up dinning in Cafe Cartel located in Springvale, Upper East Coast Road.

We ordered 2 pork ribs, 1 ham & egg sandwich with melted cheese and an oxtail stew.  Added an additional $3.90 for a soup, 1 drink and free flow of bread was included.  Desserts were brownie and bread pudding with ice-cream.

Free-flow bread with butter and vinegar were self-served at the corner of the shop front entrance.

Soup was diluted cream of chicken soup.

4 slices of ham & egg sandwich with melted cheese served with french fries - bread was nicely toasted.  Ham and egg tasted fresh and full of flavor ($7.80).

St Louis pork rib served with delicious sweet-sourish sauce.  The meat was well marinated and tender. A big slab enough for 2 servings and worth the money spent. Price is cheap ($12.80) and better value than Tony Roma.

Oxtail stew with onions, carrots and potatoes. The serving was large and meaty with at least 3 big chunks of the oxtail. The gravy was thick and full of sweetness from the onions and carrots. ($16.20).

To finish off the meal, desserts served :

Brownie served in chocolate sauce and ice-cream. Brownie is dense and moist.  The sauce was thick and smell heavenly, and quite a heavy dish to end the meal.

Bread pudding with vanilla ice-cream and fruits.  The pudding was compact and sweet, better to eat together with ice-cream. ($8.50)

Overall food was good.  Service was not so attentive due to the crowd and had to request for cutlery and water refills repeatedly.

Discount is offered for students who show their student pass and Citibank credit card holders.

The Cafe Cartel
907 Upper East Coast Road
#01-02 Springvale
Tel : 64499789