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COFFEE TALK

COFFEE TALK

Singapore coffee festival is an event for all coffee lovers and more. I went to this year’s coffee fest held at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre  and was greeted with beautiful quotes along the way. Enticing me of course!

 

 

The first stop that caught my eye was organic coffee!. Had to try. Drank 2 cups of Peruvian coffee. Loved it. Especially the coffee named fiesta. My must buy to bring home!

I was looking around for breakfast but there was nothing much.  While looking for a bite I was intrigued by 3 vendors, selling pie tee buah kluak, chilli crab croissant  and vegan burger made totally with soya. Wasn’t keen on soya and chilli crab croissant was more like lunch so settled for the pie tee. Good choice, spicy with generous filling of chicken and buah kluak paste. It was definitely a ‘wow’. Should have reduced the salt though.

Pie tee full of buah kluak flavor!

 

Headed down to learn to make flat white which is what I normally order when I am in a cafe.

So it is 30% expresso with 60% steamed milk and 10% milk froth.   So I can do it at home for my daily caffeine fix..

I had always liked and have followed Sumiko Tan’s writings in the Sunday times for many years, so participated in Coffee with the columnists with Sr writer, Mr WongKH together with another best known columnist Ignatius Low in the forum.  Realized that they write their hearts out and not something they were told to write on. Great! Mr Ignatius Low was honest so will follow his column too.

 

This drink caught my eye at the wharf area.   But I loved the bottle more than the lychee tea that was inside it!

Walked around several vendors, surprised that Shiseido is not only a cosmetic house but a cafe as well. They had collagen drinks and cheese cake – couldn’t control my amusement..  They were promoting their skin care range at the same time.  Yes good idea!

I had time to listen to a talk on flat lay photography who is a blogger himself.    Delivery could have been better.

Some ST staff at the entrance of the activity corner  at the flat lay photography were not very helpful.  Maybe the organizers could do it better next time.

Nevertheless there was more than just coffee, there was wine, books, magazines, coffee in ice cream, and many cafes showing off their wares.  There were interesting forums, talks, learning to brew coffee, tasting like an expert and home roasting demonstrations. Of course there were chocolates and those from Nicaragua and Belize were worth a try.

Loved the ambience and the space to move around.   Happy to note recycling was a part of the festival to save the earth.  Great Move!  The crowd was basically young, from 20s to 40s, very hip and adventurous!

Yes I will join again next year.

AVOCADO SHAKE

AVOCADO SHAKE

 

The first time I had avocado was in Jakarta many years ago. I had gone on a 7 day cruise in Leisure World (Now this ship is no more) with a friend, Ms Mandy and she introduced the avocado as a miracle fruit. And this fruit was made into a shake which can be found in many cafes. street corners as well as restaurants in Jakarta. Her favourite way of saying something so shiok is “Shokudu”   Sometimes I  use this word when something is so out of this world in taste.

Yes I agree with her so much that this avocado shake is so shokudu in taste especially when gula Melaka (palm sugar) is added.

Back in Singapore then, hardly  could I find avocado except in specialty fruit shops and later the avocado shake was in the menu in Sanur Indonesian restaurant at Centrepoint, Orchard Road, Singapore. They used to make a fantastic avocado shake. Now somehow this drink has been so commercialized and I guess the ingredients are not authentic.

Now practically all kinds of fruit is available all year round due to imports from various countries.   We are very lucky too because I have seen the prices are sometimes much lower than the countries they have been imported from – could be due to economies of scale.

Avocado itself is so versatile. It grows in many countries. The common ones we find here are from South America, USA, Australia , Vietnam, and Indonesia. I have tried Sri Lankan varieties. They are much smaller but the Thai and Vietnamese variety tend to be the size of our palm. In Asian countries it is known as butter fruit. This is quite a suitable name because you can substitute mashed avocado for butter in your toast. Sometimes I sprinkle demerara sugar on my toast or even spread honey with it.  Because of its bland taste and the creaminess, butter can be substituted with avocado puree in cakes. I have tried some cakes and it did turn out well. So you can eat more cake as it contains no butter which is all fat. No need to feel guilty after eating cake!  I have done pancakes and waffles with avocado.  Do find time to check them out  in my blog.  Extremely delicious.

In my home, avocados sit on my fruit basket. Used daily for breakfast, shake and many times in salads.  I also make a Mexican dip known as guacomole.

As in most fruits, avocados ripen best off the tree. But here in Singapore I haven’t seen that so you’ll find that a lot of them are unripe when you shop. Choose avocados that feel heavy. The skin should be dark, with a hint of green, and taut, with no dents.

If a little ripe, when you hold an avocado, it will give a little give.

If avocados at the market are green and unripe, you can ripen them at home. Put them in a brown paper bag out of direct sunlight. Within three days they’ll be ripe and ready to eat. Press the skin gently. It will be tender but not too soft.

 

As for the shake you may put all the ingredients and blend and pour it into a glass, or if you want restaurant style, then the ingredients can be layered to make it so inviting. Of course you can stir and not stir too much to avoid too much of a certain ingredient.

Some may not like too much sweetness or too much coconut cream. And this can be decided if the shake is layered accordingly. For me I prefer to mix all and drink it chilled or slurp it slowly so as to maximize the joy of tasting my favourite fruit shake.

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AVOCADO WAFFLES - A BREAKFAST TREAT

Avocado Waffles

BREAKFAST. We need breakfast daily. Not simply bread and toast all the time, or our favorite local prata, nasi lemak, chee cheong fun, etc. Once in a while make it special and different.

Lately I am experimenting with different types of whole grain and nutritive flours. I did the following breakfast on a Sunday morning which I know my family members will enjoy.

It is so simple once you have your ingredients on hand.

Avocados are always in my house, it is a staple for my daughter who eats it daily with one of her meals at least.

I told her I will make avocado pancakes the night before, but decided to do waffles instead.

At first I thought the buckwheat flour will not marry with the avocado well but I tell you, it happened to be a good combination. If you like buckwheat and avocado then please go ahead and make it because it gives a satisfying and fulfilling breakfast without the feeling of “Oh dear too much of a flour meal first thing in the morning”

The waffles were perfectly cooked, crisp on the outside and soft inside.

I gather this can be an all day breakfast meal if you include a piece of roast chicken or ham etc. Include a green salad and it becomes lunch or dinner.

That’s what I did with leftover batter. So enjoy a different kind of meal for a change, albeit a nutritious clean meal!

 

Avocado waffles

INGREDIENTS

1 cup self raising flour

1 cup buckwheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 avocados

 

METHOD

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend to a batter . It is alright to have some lumpy avocado.

Heat a waffle iron, brush with butter.

Pour half a cup of batter into the waffle iron and cook till desired crispness or softness is reached.

Serve with maple syrup, strawberries or blueberries and sunny side eggs.

Notes:

You may replace oil with any other preferred oil or melted butter.

You may use half cup self raising flour and 1 ½ cups buckwheat flour.

As this is not a cake recipe, you don’t need to be exact in the measurements.

Please reduce the salt if desired.

Use ripe avocadoes if possible and if you use another 1 more avocado, you don’t need the eggs.

You can make pancakes if you do not have a waffle iron. Add half a cup of water to dilute the batter if necessary.

 

PINEAPPLE TARTS TASTES DIVINE

 

Pineapple tarts have been a firm favourite since I had helped my mum making it as a little girl. I remember rolling the pineapple jam into small marble sizes and placing them on a tray.

My mum is the person who had made such great tarts that many of her friends would come over just to get a tin. My mother never sold any food to anyone, she always gives them.   And which I do follow till today. The satisfaction of seeing someone’s joy is just immense.

And I love pineapple tarts so much that I must share this incident that may leave you dumbfounded.  It is  a true incident.

You should know if you read about me  in my home page, that my mum passed away when I was barely 18 years old.

I got married at age 23.   I was in the family way at age 27.

And guess what, I craved for my mum’s pineapple tarts, but how?

I had a dream that night, my mum who was dressed so regally knocked on my door and was holding a huge tin of pineapple tarts. I remember the tin so well – it was a 2 kg EveryDay milk powder tin.

She told me this “this is just for you, enjoy it”.

I took the tin and started eating and devouring the pineapple tarts one by one. I was so satisfied. And thanked her profusely. She smiled and went away.

When I woke up that morning, I could sense the taste of pineapple tarts in my mouth and throat.   You will understand this when you eat one too many.   I was so shocked and do you know, it was the best and till today I don’t crave it that much even though it is my favourite festive treat.

 

 

Now to the main tart itself, I have done many variations of this tart but yet to perfect the one that my mum made. She didn’t leave a recipe. So it has always been a trial and each time doing the tarts slightly differently. Yes I did have many successes along the way, and as always never wrote the recipe down. One day, my younger daughter who also loves these tarts told me that she is going to tape me while I am doing it. Which she did. That is the recipe that I have been using to make tarts for her.

As she lives in London, whenever she comes to visit me or when someone goes to London, I will pass 2 jars of pineapple tarts, one for her and another for my best friend’s daughter, Mary Laura who loves these tarts too. Mary Laura has told that my tarts are the best.

Me being always on the look out for a pineapple tart recipe, came to read about pineapple tarts in the Straits Times quite  recently and so decided to have a go with this recipe. I found the dough  very difficult to handle as it had too much butter to flour ratio. But the taste was good.

 

Today’s recipe is the adaptation from the article in the Straits times  with some modifications and  it turned out so well. You will not be disappointed with this recipe of course. So those friends of mine who have requested for the recipe, here it is. Enjoy making it and eating it too.

Both the jam and the pastry are important elements.

But to save time, you may buy the jam from reputed stores. There are some good ones, for today’s recipe I bought the premium jam and I did some modifications to suit my taste.

For the pastry, it depends on your preference, some like it crumbly, some like it crisp and soft, and some like it meltingly smooth.

The pastry that I have in this recipe is slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the inside. If you bake it a little longer maybe another 5 minutes more, it will be crisp crumbly.

My personal preference is a pastry which is crisp on the outside and soft inside, which melts in your mouth but at the same time very flavourful.

 

Pineapple tarts

INGREDIENTS

210 gm plain flour

20 gm cornflour

30 gm icing sugar

¼ tsp salt

140 gm unsalted butter – must be direct from fridge and cubed

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

I to 2 tbsp ice water if necessary.

Pineapple jam as required

METHOD for Dough

In a food processor, add all the ingredients except the ice water.

Pulse it or use low speed to get the dough together. If it does not form a ball of dough, add 1 tbsp of ice cold water. Repeat if necessary to form a nice soft dough.

Keep aside in the fridge for 15 mins to 30 mins.

Or you may roll the dough to about 0.6 cm if it is not too soft to handle and proceed to use the tart mold to cut into shapes and fill with the jam.

Bake in a preheated oven at 175C for 15 mins or to your preferred pastry texture. Not more than 20 mins or your jam will become too hard.  This happens if you use store bought jam.

Remove the baked tarts to a rack to cool.

Once cooled, store in an airight jar.

This recipe makes about 40 tarts.

INGREDIENTS for Pineapple Jam

300 gm store bought premium jam

1 tsp of cinnamon powder or less

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

1/2 cup to ¾ cup hot water

5 cloves

METHOD

Put all ingredients except the water in a pan to heat through till well combined. Add the water if it is too thick and  combine until you have the right ball forming consistency. If you like the taste, remove to cool and roll into 6 gm balls. Place in a tray and keep aside to be placed in each tart shell before baking.

 

Notes:

If the jam is too tangy, add soft brown sugar, a pinch of salt to counterbalance the taste.   This is only necessary if you are using store bought pineapple jam.

Alternatively you can prepare the jam by using fresh ripe pineapples. OR you can use canned pineapples.   Reduce the sugar as the canned pineapples are already very sweet, Coarsely pulse the pineapples ,add lime juice and salt , 1 tbsp of butter, cinnamon stick and cloves, cook it till it is jammy and cool to use it. Do it a few days earlier.

 

For this recipe, I took 8 gm of dough each which I rolled into a ball. Pressed my thumb into the centre and while holding, pinched it with the pinch maker all around  with my other hand.

I finished the whole process and placed them in a baking tray.

Then I placed 1 ball of pineapple jam, 6 gm each. Slowly patted the jam onto the tart base.

To make it pretty, I crinkle cut strips of thin dough or just roll strips and put a cross on each.

And some I used a mini star mould to cut the shape of a star to decorate each tart.

You may leave it out if it is too much work but then I love to do them.

For the dough, you may reduce the icing sugar or leave it out completely  if your jam is sweet enough.

It is very important to have everything cold, including the flour, butter, eggs etc.

The pastry is a short one, so it has to be cold.

SHORTBREAD BARS

 

These are english shortbread, a type of rich cookie or biscuit as it is called in asian countries.  In my early days as a child, I remember eating these cookies but it is also called butter biscuits because of the vast amount of butter used.  My mum used to do beautiful biscuits just for us kids which were  very yummy and which melted in the mouth.

Of course it was very expensive then to buy them which comes in colored round and oblong tins.  I used to reuse the tins for keeping knick knacks. These are very good too.  It is still available at very good shops.  I do buy them as gifts if I don’t have time  to prepare them myself.  But most of the time, I will prepare these shortbread bars and beautify them by putting them in beautiful art tins which becomes my signature!  And of course you know that mine is free of any chemicals or preservatives and  definitely more tasty!

So today I would like to share my recipe which I have altered a little to include flavouring and zest.  I have baked many different types of shortbread but this is one of my favorite.  It is a little finicky to do as the dough can become very soft in our hot climate.   But the hard work pays off as you will bite into a crunchy yet soft cookie when baked.  The flavor in this shortbread is just too awesome as I have used orange zest and orange extract.    You may substitute with grapefruit, lemon or just leave it out.

INGREDIENTS

 250 g plain flour

1 tbsp rice flour

220 g butter

80 g fine sugar

1 orange – zest only.

1 tsp orange extract or more if you like the flavor.

coarse sugar for sprinkiling.

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180C

Beat butter till smooth and creamy. Add sugar and continue to beat till fluffy.

Add the orange extract and the orange zest and blend well.

Slowly add in the flours and gently form a dough.

Wrap with cling wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

Roll dough onto a floured surface to ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick, cut into 8cm by 2 cm or 3 inch by half inch bars.

Place the shortbread onto a baking sheet.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired. Keep the shortbread in the baking sheet in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill. Poke a few holes  on the top of the shortbread with a cake tester or a skewer stick if desired.

Take out and bake in a preheated oven  for 10 minutes or till shortbread is very lightly brown.

Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. Keeps well.

 NOTES

These shortbread keeps very well if stored in an airtight container.

Its a very good gift to bring along for children.

If you can’t find the orange extract, substitute with 2 tsp orange juice.

Handle the dough lightly as it may become soft, or chill well before cutting into bars.

 

NUTRITIVE GOODNESS IN A MEAL

falafel 2

Falafel is all about goodness, made totally of chickpeas or garbanzo beans.

Love it because it is one of the tastiest vegetarian food. It can be a starter or it can be the main meal.

I ate this  many years ago in London for the first time  in one of the Middle Eastern Cafés which are just about everywhere in the London streets.   It was good. It reminded me of  snacks that I ate  as a child but not the “’dressed up’’  kind.

I began to have a liking for such food and I started exploring the making of it as well as eating in places where  middle eastern food is served.    Not that I have tried all but the tastiest was in Amsterdam near a palace.  Really couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant though.

Now coming back to the making – many make the mistake of boiling or steaming the  dried chickpeas.

Absolute NO!  The dried chickpeas needs to be soaked preferably overnight and blended with some ingredients.

Form into canelles or lime sized balls, then just  deep fry, no need for crumbing or egg washing!

I have made it very easy for you to follow my recipe. Easy and yet  not short cutting the taste that comes with it.

Here I am using mini chapatis to wrap  it, but of course you may use any other wraps such as pita bread or soft tacos that are available in the supermarkets now.  Try and you will not be disappointed and you will have an accomplishment of feeding your friends and family a nutritious and tasty meal.

Serve it with Hummus ( a middle- eastern  dip) or simply grated  cucumber with yoghurt – delicious!

falafel 1

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SO VERY REFRESHING…….

Still on Vietnamese food,  this is  another  favourite dish of mine and my family loves it too.  It is wholesome, fresh and so very easy once you prepare the ingredients.

It is a way of eating fresh vegetables in a palatable manner and it is  good for communal eating and sharing .  I like to do this for a party as it can be prepared in advance and not much cooking is required.

Besides it is great for hot summer days as it is so very refreshing.

I taught this dish in my cooking class recently and everyone raved about the simplicity of the fresh ingredients and the delicious sauce that came with it.  It was also deemed to be so easy to do by everyone.  So give it a try, my friends!

This sauce recipe is so very special as it came from a Australian friend  who knew this Vietnamese lady who whipped up this sauce.   I simply love this sauce.  I make more than enough each time and use it for other dishes as accompaniment.  The most easiest way is to pour this sauce onto Chinese rice rolls – chee cheong fun.  Simply divine!

vietnam rolls 1

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Mushroom and Vegetable Curry

mushroomvegcurry 1

 

I do love simple vegetarian food,  I cook lots of vegetarian dishes almost daily and have a wide repertoire of recipes.  And each time I cook, it becomes a new dish as I tend to modify or add some new ingredient.

This  vegetarian dish is so simple, interestingly tasty and can be eaten on its own with a glass of wine.   Yes, I didn’t make a mistake here…..

This dish was cooked on a  day when I returned from a trip and I couldn’t bear to go out and eat lunch.  So looking at what I had in my pantry, came up with this dish.   As I didn’t feel like eating rice, I made prata to go with this vegetable dish.

I am not into mushrooms as in itself they taste very bland even though mushrooms can be meaty.   This adds a new dimension to simple potatoes and carrots to create the meatiness in a vegetarian dish.

I used Indian spices as the vegetables need to be cooked for  a little longer than other greens. So the spices tend to gel very well with the longer cooking time, thus giving a lovely curry.

As I said earlier, this dish can be eaten on its own or with any bread,  chappati, or prata.

It is a good accompaniment to rice with some soup or other gravy.

Once in a while it is a nice change to eat simple food.  So try this out and one might not miss any meat!

 

mushroomvegcurry 2

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Kangkong Moolie

kangkong mollie 1

 

Aha, this is one comfort food for me. I adapted this dish from Mrs Cardoza, my Secondary 2 Home Economics teacher in my convent days. During that time we had to go through Home Economics for 2 years in Secondary 1 and 2. After that you go on and take subjects that is relevant to your liking or course of study etc. I didn’t continue Home Economics after Secondary 2 (because I don’t mind cooking, but I disliked sewing and I preferred mathematics!).

Coming back to the Moolie, what I learnt then was Fish Moolie – a firm favourite in my family till today. But I adapted this dish to make the kangkong (morning glory or water convolvulus) the hero of the dish.  There is no spice and can be suitable for vegetarians. My mother used to call it by another name, Saar – which is very similar – always cooked when you want to eat lightly the day after heavy feasts or dinners.

 

kangkong mollie 3

 

It is a simple dish using either cream or coconut milk and the green leafy vegetable. And it is definitely comfort food. It goes very well with plain white rice and maybe a fried fish or another vegetable as a side dish. I did some variations this time, I added bonito flakes as the garnish and to add a Japanese flavour!

Aha! An Indian/Eurasian dish with Japanese flavour – just try it – you will get hooked too!

You only need about 5 minutes to cook this dish once you have the ingredients ready.

 

kangkong mollie 2

 

INGREDIENTS:

250 g kangkong, washed well and cut into long lengths, stems and leaves separated

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tsp ginger strips

½ tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp coconut cream or milk

Salt to taste

1 tsp cooking oil

Bonito flakes, for garnishing, a small handful (optional)

 

METHOD:

Heat a pan, pour oil, add garlic and ginger strips, stir and add turmeric powder.

Add the kangkong stems first, stir and then add the leaves.

Add salt, coconut cream and 1 cup of water.

Let it simmer for a few minutes. Remove from stove.

Garnish with bonito flakes and serve immediately with plain white rice.

 

Notes:

You can add chicken or vegetable stock instead of 1 cup of water.

Bonito flakes are not necessary – the dish is as good as it is.

You may substitute coconut cream with skimmed or low fat milk.

Kangkong is the best green leafy vegetable for this dish, but spinach can be used also.