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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.

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.

 

TOFU PANIYAARAM – A VILLAGE TREAT

tofu-paniyaaram-2

I tend to cook with whatever I have in my pantry or fridge.  So if friends drop by I will just do a quick snack, and this is one of them.

Tasty, easy and savoury!

If there are some vegetarians in the group, then I omit all meat/egg etc and make it totally vegetarian for all to enjoy.

I vaguely remember my mum making these but she had chopped long beans and some salted whitebaits in her paniyaaram.  Her vegetarian ones had cooked dhall (lentils) and vegetables.

If you are wondering what  paniyaaram is,  this is a tamil word for a food made of small balls of batter either fried or steamed.

Again there are so many versions, variations, sweet and savoury and all equally delicious.

My favourite is the Milk paniyaaram which I ate for the first time in a remote village in South India when I visited India as a tourist some 20 years ago.

The lady villager was so hospitable and refused to let me  go until I ate her milk paniyaaram and drank a cup of Indian coffee. I remember her serving me with a baby on her hips and with a wide smile on her face. This meal has been very  memorable for me, sometimes when I recollect, I think I can taste it again.   It was so so delicious. So it only shows that a  simple dish can be unforgettable till today. I will post her recipe sometime later.
Coming back to the paniyaaram, it is called  thus because you need a paniyaaram pan, it is similar to the Japanese takoyaki pan. Or for Malaysians similar to the older version of the Kueh bahulu pan.  The fried balls will retain a circular shape if using the paniyaaram pan.

takoyoki-pan

Japanese  Takoyoki panpaniyaaram-pan

Indian paniyaaram pan

 

If this pan is unavailable, don’t worry too much, just use any pan that you have which can be used to fry small balls of dough.  Use 2 spoons to form a ball and put it into the hot oil gently to fry.

Enjoy this simple recipe, my dear friends.  Do comment and subscribe so that you can receive all my recipes. (more…)

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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Hi-protein and nutritious dessert just for you!

VIETNAMESE BEAN DESSERT

 

I am lucky to have travelled extensively and I have been to Vietnam twice.  I enjoyed Vietnamese food served there and I still do.  Infact their cooking is very easy to adapt and their use of multiple fresh herbs really made me  happy. Well I like herbs a lot in my cooking too.

There are just so many savoury  dishes that I enjoyed but I would like to share a simple dessert which is easy and very tasty just like  kueh (generic term for Malaysian dessert)

This dessert cake is unlike western buttery cake. Instead it is more of a pudding than a cake. It is  so easy to make and it is delicious if you like beans. And when  it is made of beans, it becomes very nutritious – how often can we find protein rich desserts!  Surprisingly this dessert is not found in most Vietnamese restaurants.

This is one of the desserts that I taught in my community centre recently  and my participants enjoyed it so much.

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Vadai – nutritious street food

vadai 3 featured

This is a snack in most indian homes and regularly taken as part of a breakfast item.  It is also a common street food.  It is crisp on the outside and soft inside.

It is very nutritious even though it is deep fried.  Looking deceptively simple but one of the most difficult snacks  to do as the texture varies according to the method used and how the urad dhal is prepared.

I have seen my mum prepare this for us  on a regular basis. I can remember that she laboriously grinds the soaked dhal using a grinding stone.

But once the vadais are fried and put on the table, the vadais will vanish so quickly,   because they are so delicious to eat with a cup of your favourite hot beverage.  And I always get extra vadais as it seems urad dhal strengthens a growing female teenager!

Now in this present day – no way I want to do laborious work.  And I am not that hardworking too  (sorry!)

I have given a lazy version or maybe a short cut way to do it  – pl read my notes below.

There are many variations but these are  the most common recipes.  Some of the variations that I do are as follows:

  1. Add some chopped prawns in the batter and fry  as usual.
  2. Add some chopped French beans or long beans to give a crunch
  3. Add extra chopped onions
  4. Commonly added ingredient is chopped spinach which is  nutritious in protein, iron and vitamin C.

You can use a 3 cm ice cream scoop, drop it in oil and deep fry like cocktail bites. Serve it with a mixture of chilli and tomato sauce.  Insert a cocktail stick into each vadai and viola!, served this way, you bring the simple vadai to another level.  ( It becomes ‘’atas ”  in the local language ( A simple snack served grandly).

Urad Dhal
Urad dhal

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Buttery Cookies

buttery cookies 1

 

Every year I am requested to make a dish either sweet or savoury for 170 to 200 mentally challenged or depressed patients who stay in a hospital here in Singapore.

This year I decided to do big buttery biscuits or cookies which are crispy, melt in the mouth and yet have a tasty bite. Because of their condition, there are some limitations as I can’t add nuts or other stuff which may choke them.

I came up with this buttery biscuit as there is a sudden craze for such cookies in Singapore (A certain bakery from Hong Kong selling butter cookies has opened a shop).

As I had limitations, I added toasted dessicated coconut and crushed cornflakes – just for the extra tasty bite, though not much.

It turned out so well – I made 200 large cookies, each size about 5 cm, thickness about 1 cm and yet it was gone in a few minutes. The thought that the patients enjoyed the cookies made me very satisfied and happy. This was another charity bake and I took about 2 hours to make and bake the cookies, cool them and place in air tight containers.

Kindly bake and tell me what you think. For me this cookie is going to be one that I will definitely keep baking for gifts for family, friends and for children.

The recipe here yields 35 to 40 biscuits (5 cm cookies).

 

buttery cookies 2

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Cornflake Cookies

deepavali cookies 1

 

Deepavali!

The word alone brings back memories for me. Suddenly I can visualise myself throughout my childhood – most of it centering around food, of course!

And recently when I had a request for a cookie bake to pass on to needy families, I agreed immediately. Each volunteer baker had to bake a certain number of jars of cookies, namely, chocolate chip cookies and cornflake cookies. The best part, all the bakers were not known to each other, but we introduced to each other in a “Whatsapp” group. So many messages and the person who brought us together is Sonia. She coordinated the bake, and gave us the recipes and instructions on how each cookie should look.

I am sharing the recipes here as they were very good. I did a sample bake of each cookie and passed them to about 30 people to taste test. I listened to their comments and did some very minor changes to make them the best tasting cookies.

I did a total of 70 jars of cookies. Even if it was for needy families whom I did not know, my intention was, and is always, very clear. When you give anything to anyone – it must of the best quality! So I did take the trouble to source for good ingredients as I wanted the end result to be the best!

 

deepavali cookies 3

 

As they turned out very well, I decided to do more of these cookies for my dinner party this week as a party favour for my guests, so that they could also enjoy these cookies with tea in the comfort of their own home.

Here’s the recipe for the cornflake cookies. Don’t forget to check out the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies!

 

deepavali cookies 2

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