Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Crumble


Crumble innards
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.
A dessert feast over the weekend at the ex-colleague/good friend's house. Berry Crumble (as pictured), creme brulee served a la mode, carrot cake choked full of walnuts and topped with a delicious and addicting cream cheese frosting, chocolate souffle torte made entirely without butter, eggless tiramisu for the raw-egg sensitive girlfriend and chocolate lava cake that oozed lava, loads of lava, all right.

In fact, she inspired me to splurge at the bake store. I bought a new springform pan, vanilla essence, several different sizes of cake boxes, aluminum tins, vanilla essence, nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, hazel nuts and almond nuts) and a few different cupcake toppers.

I used my existing springform pan to bake up a lemon cheesecake last night. I woke up to a huge crack on the top of that silly cake. How can I tolerate such a defect? This cannot happen again and obviously it cannot be me, so it has to be the equipment. Say hello to the new springform.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Happy Birthday


Spring Court
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.
Today is the 7th day of Chinese New Year or "ren ri". This is also the day where it is everyone's birthday so happy birthday to you!

My uncle decided to hold the annual CNY dinner on this day, at Spring Court. It was full house and the food was slow. But what we ate was slightly above average, albeit a little on the saltier side. Highlight was definitely all the sauces and gravies - non oily, yet rich with lots of flavour. I reckon a meal during a non-festive period would be much better.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

VERY happy Chinese New Year!


I cannot think of a more delicious ending to the long weekend than a dinner at Kaisan. Of course, the official excuse for gluttony was to celebrate the farewell of a good friend/colleague whose last day at the company was tomorrow. We always need to rejoice over a good meal right?

We let Chef Thomas take reign, knowing the latest shipment of fresh fish just arrived few hours prior. True enough, as Chef fed us constantly over the next couple of hours, both of us let out sparodically groans of pleasure.

We started with a sashimi of kodai, apparently a typical fish dish served in Japan to introduce the lunar new year. The meat was firm, subtly sweet and light. Then there was a little dish of ikura, neat. I really enjoyed this. A series of sushi followed. Hamachi was creamy tasting but not oily; shima-aji was really fresh; and we all know how amazingly different bluefin maguro taste, way better than those anemic-looking tuna served elsewhere. We took a little break with a clear palate-cleansing soup made with the bones of the kodai earlier.

To continue the sushi fest, the kanpachi possessed a balance of crunch and richness. Not professing to be a uni-lover, I downed the uni sushi rather quickly but surprisingly with minimal aversion. The botan-ebi was heavenly! If I had to pick a favourite sushi, this would be it. The first bite was crunchy, then the creaminess chaser followed; oh, if only that orgasmic feeling could last forever! We had another prawn dish, pan-fried botan-ebi with shimeiji mushrooms and topped with a sweet mayo cream sauce. While the prawn was still sweet and crunchy, I probably could go without since I am not much of a cream-sauce type of girl.

The friend jested, "The Japanese really knows how to rape the sea!" when the heads from the botan-ebi sushi earlier were grilled for us to savour the legs and creamy roe that resided in the heads. The hotate was big, fresh and sweet and the otoro, both the raw and torched, were needless to say, deliciously sinful. Finally, we rounded off with goma and macha icecream,
accompanied with a fresh, sweet strawberry.

And yes, I had to loosen a notch off my belt before walking out of the restaurant, but not without thinking for another excuse to revisit.

*for detailed picture-viewing, pls visit my Flickr set here*

Kaisan Japanese Restaurant
Tel 63394929
#01-21 Raffles Hotel Arcade

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Marmalade Pantry



It was a tough Monday. Work constantly streamed in while I was kept busy making futile attempts to clear my way through. Thanks to a gracious God, pre-arranged dinner to catch up with a friend resulted in a very enjoyable and not to mention, delicious, Monday night .

The linguine with crabmeat tomato chili and pinenuts (S$19) was, in short, good and satisfying. I expected no less for that amount of money. I also commend the waiter who automatically brought along a black pepper grinder and I requested for a generous sprinkling. I could detect a really robust sauce which whetted my appetite for sure and I could not wait to dig in as I hurriedly gave the noodles a final toss to mix in the small sprinkling of shredded cheese and pepper (this was definitely not a wet sort of pasta dish).

I found the linguine noodles perfectly al dente, chewy with bite just the way I liked. To be picky, there were mostly shreds of crabmeat with an occasional chunk but I felt overall, the amount of crustacean was slanting towards stingyness and the sweetness of the crab was lost amongst the tomato and chili. But overall, the dish did the trick of filling my stomach and still fulfilled the criteria (whatever that is!) of being a repeat order.

I know you are wondering what the girlfriend got. Her ultimate burger (S$19) was done according to request and accompanied with a huge serving of french fries. The lousy girl tackled only half her burger, vis-a-vis a cleaned out pasta plate, I win hands down!

We arrived too late to order dessert and linger, since we wanted to catch some last minute shopping and the restaurant closes at 9:30pm. So yes, we traded dessert over shopping and I think that is a good enough reason to render a return visit soon.

*Side line - I was attracted to this cute ball of flower at our table.

Moving on, after a spot of shoe-shopping, it was time to rest the feet and catch up proper. Besides, the sweet tooth was beckoning the friend. Being the Starbucks Oreo cheesecake fan that she is, we found ourselves there where I got the mango cheesecake since it looked pretty in its yellowish hue. Well, it was not too sweet but was not cheesy enough. I found it leaning towards a mousse structure, with only a hint of cream cheese as an aftertaste. Although I cleaned up the plate good, I still felt something amiss; definitely not a repeat for sure.


Marmalade Pantry
Basement 1
Palais Renaissance

Monday, February 12, 2007

Little Thrills


Stay tuned
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.
I won, I actually won! A dining voucher for Cilantro so I suppose, stay tuned!

Hehe, little joys like this made Monday less blue.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Chocolate Mocha Cake with Bailey's Irish Cream



A hiatus from the kitchen but I am back today with a dark and delicious chocolate mocha cake with Bailey's Irish Cream for the sister's birthday.

The recipe was adapted from a recipe by Tamasin Day-Lewis that uses Irish whisky instead. Although I thought the recipe required quite a bit of preparation but once everything was ready and in place, it was just a matter of carrying out the procedures.

The cake is not too sweet, borderline bitter so you would want to use the best bitter chocolate you can get your hands on. If the cake has been resting in the refrigerator, a mere few seconds in the microwave will instantly revive the cake into its moist and melt-in-mouth goodness although the ground almond gave also gave it a nice crumb texture simultaneoulsy. It was thus not cloyingly rich and just delicious. I would think it can only get better if there was some vanilla ice cream to go along as well.

Ingredients
(for the cake)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
4 tablespoons freshly made strong mocha coffee
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft enough to cream
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup freshly ground blanched almonds
A few drops natural bitter-almond extract
6 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted

for the frosting
2 ounces best bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
1/4 cup unsalted butter

Method

Make the cake
1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan.

2. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler with the coffee and whiskey. Remove the top pan and allow them to cool.

3. Cream together all but a tablespoon of the sugar with the butter until it is pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.

4. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peak stage, then add the last tablespoon of sugar and beat to firm peaks.

5. Blend the chocolate mixture into the creamed butter and sugar with a rubber spatula, then stir in the ground almonds and bitter almond extract. Fold in a spoonful of the egg white, followed by a spoonful of flour, and continue until it's all blended in.

6. Scrape the mixture into the cake pan and bake it in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes. A skewer should come out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife round the edge of the pan and turn the cake out on to a rack.

Make the frosting
1. Melt the chocolate and whiskey in the top of the double boiler until satiny smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter, a tablespoon at a time. Stand the bowl over iced water and continue to beat, otherwise the butter and the chocolate will separate. You can always add a little cream if this happens — whisk and the mixture will cohere. Spread the icing over the cake, leaving a rough finish.