size matters

By , February 17, 2009 10:23 am

“what do they serve at this place?”
“seafood lor.”
“nice or not?”
“kopi tiam type so no need to dress up. the crab is very big”
“ooh i like big crabs. is the sauce good?
“not bad la. the crab is very big.”
“ok. is it expensive?
“can’t remember leh. the crab is very big.”

so we set off to casuarina road with one basic piece of information – the crab is very big. check out our picks for the night :

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baby squid in a sweet and sour sauce. i heard it’s not bad but i wouldn’t know cos i don’t like to eat baby squid. sounded very crispy. (can’t remember how much it costs)

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sambal clams – sold on this one because the sambal sauce was fantastic and the clams were sweet and yummy. ($10 – value for money cos it was a pretty big plate!)

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dou miao that was cooked just right. wasn’t too oily or under/overcooked. (i think it was $8)

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steamed prawns with egg whites which were totally overcooked 🙁 ($20) so we asked for another plate of prawns, this time boiled :

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this one’s a winner! the shell easily slid off the juicy white flesh and you can taste the freshness and natural sweetness of the prawn. ($15)

and finally, the star of the night :

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chilli crab! ($95) we only ordered one because it weighed 2.4kg. it’s hard to tell that this is a monster of a crab from the above picture. here’s a little perspective:

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so never mind that the sauce was a tad too sweet, starchy and not spicy enough for most of us, the crab was very big.  

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oh the man tou that came with it was crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. it would’ve gone really well with the sambal sauce. i’m thinking crab in sambal sauce will rock – next time!

this is ban leong wah hoe seafood on casuarina road. for no frills dining and very big crabs! 🙂

a mix n match cake

By , February 16, 2009 9:22 am

do you sometimes go grocery shopping, grab a buncha stuff you have to later find a need for because their expiry dates are drawing near? that happens to me quite abit and yesterday i found myself studiously going through annie bell’s gorgeous cakes, with whipping cream and mascarpone cheese in mind.

i finally picked out two recipes – one for a mascarpone filling and one for the cake (the recipe with the mascarpone called for 6 eggs and it sounded big and daunting). the result :

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me thinks this recipe will be made quite often from now – it’s healthier than the regular cake cos it doesn’t require butter or flour; the ground almond gives the cake a slightly nutty texture which is interesting; the ingredients are similar to that of a macaroon cept that it uses whole eggs instead of just the whites – there’s no wastage or the need to bake something else with the yolks; the washing up afterwards is easier because there’s no oil. what’s not to like right? 🙂 

For the Cake: (oven at 180deg)

4 eggs, separated

150g caster sugar

225g ground almonds

1tsp baking powder, sifted.

1. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks

2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Just mix it well – dont let the mixture get too pale or thick.

3. Fold the whites into the yolks in 3 parts.

4. Fold in the ground almonds and baking powder.

5. Bake in two 18″ tins for 20mins (test with a skewer – it’s ready if skewer comes out clean)

6. Cool completely.

For the Filling

250g mascarpone

35g icing sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

250g strawberry/raspberry/blueberry coarsely mashed (careful not to puree them if u’re using a processor to mash it up)

1. Blend mascarpone cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract.

2. Stir in mashed fruit.

Spread half of filling on top of one cake, then stack the second cake on top and spread rest of filling. tada! u’ve got a “mix n match” cake (no that’s not their names in that book).

i have to admit there’s an unpolished a home made look about it but feel free to experiment and be creative 🙂

letting off steam

By , February 12, 2009 1:29 pm

the thing about baking, is that sometimes you spend a few baking sessions working on the same thing so you know for sure that you have mastered something as opposed to it being an incidental success.

i thought i had the macaroons nailed down with 2 successful batches but yesterday, i threw away an entire batch without even putting it in the oven. the circles i piped out joined into a train of purple goo (that was a my choice of coloring for the day) cos they were too watery.

i was too disheartened to take pictures.

the fault was most likely my poor estimation with the boiled sugar – about a quarter was hardened because i kept thinking i should boil it a little longer.

note to self : get a new candy thermometer.

the other thing about baking, is that you see a nice picture of a cake online and you think you’ll bake it cos the results on the site looks good. but sometimes even when they look like the picture on the site, they aren’t so good. like this pandan cake:

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when it came out of the oven, i thought it looked very promising. i left it til it cooled and on the first cut, realised it was too hard. then when i tasted it, it didn’t come close to edible cake much less pandan cake. FAIL. whole thing went to the bin.

the other note to self : only work with tried and tested recipes. the sort that has over a hundred comments, all of them waxing lyrical about said recipe.

more on macaroons

By , February 10, 2009 9:54 am

it’s been a long break and what have i been doing? all the vices associated with chinese new year (do i really need to spell it out?) BUT seeing how yuan xiao jie has officially marked the end of the festivities, it’s back to life minus (so much) vices.

i have baked a coupla times in the last few weeks, and what’s  real find, is this new macaroon recipe.

it’s here : http://www.willcotton.com/presspageshtml/nytimes2005-12.html

this recipe has been sitting in some site for the last 4years and i’ve only just tried it. to be fair, i must’ve chanced upon it but dismissed it cos it’s the italian way of making macaroons (with sugar melted to a syrup). i’ve tried that once with inedible results.

this new recipe produced pretty incredible results so here’s sharing. a few tips :

1. 3 large egg whites – large is relative. so measure your whites. 1 egg white = 30gm.

2. the recipe requires you to check the temperature of the sugar with a candy thermometer. get a candy thermometer. i unfortunately bought a faulty one and before the sugar reached 241 deg on the thermometer, the sugar had cracked and i had a pan of rock sugar 🙁 when i redid the sugar syrup, my gauge was for the sugar syrup on the ladle to harden when it’s not stirring the sugar. you can then pour it into the beaten egg whites in a stream exactly like the recipe says.

3. leaving the oven door ajar with a wooden spoon is a fantastic way to get a nice unburnt color on your macaroons (thanks ben! he gave me the recipe and this wooden spoon tip!)

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their tops could be prettier but i was pleased with their legs (which is what the frilly sides of the macaroons are called), that their tops didn’t crack, and that they didn’t look burnt like they usually do when i baked it in the past without leaving the oven door ajar.

for the filling, i experimented with cream cheese (100g) and smuckers strawberry sundae syrup – it was pretty much add syrup to cream cheese and mix til taste is satisfactory (meaning not too sweet but not too cheesy) so i’m not sure how much i added 😛 please leave a note if you try the filling in the recipe k?

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