Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chef Mak Kwa Pui is really sweet and unpretentious
Chef Mak Kwai Pui (麦桂培) of Tim Ho Wan (添好运) fame is in Singapore! Yes, his dim sum draws queues from around the world at his one Michelin starred "hole-in-the-wall" eatery in Mongkok, Hong Kong (now with second branch in Sham Shui Po). He was previously with three Michelin starred restaurant Lung King Heen which is also famous for its dim sum.

Chef Mak is here for five days (30 June to 4 July 2011) at the invitation of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to offer his dim sum at Feng Shui Inn, Crockfords Tower. It's part of their Global Gourmet Kitchen series which aims to bring celebrity and acclaimed chefs to their restaurants for joint collaborations.

Some of you will know I went looking for Tim Ho Wan last year in Hong Kong, but missed it right under my nose. So it is such a pleasure for me to not only get to taste the dim sum right here, but meet the master chef himself. I was pleasantly surprised by how sweet, cheery and unpretentious he is. Despite his awards and being named by CNN as one of the top 25 most influential Asians, he remains unfazed, humble and down-to-earth. We asked him so many questions. He is refreshingly frank and does not sugar-coat his answers.

You know, all so often we love to wax lyrical about chefs and their passion for cooking leading them into the profession with stellar results. Chef Mak had no choice but to follow the family trade. His father and uncle were dim sum chefs. Here is a man who learnt his trade and learnt it well. Making dim sum is hard work that few youngsters will do today.

But we are still grateful he dedicated his life to dim sum excellence. These are some of the highlights you can look forward to at Feng Shui Inn while he is guest chef here. There are specialty dim sum and 8-course set menus available until 10 July. Feng Shui Inn also came up with auspicious names to celebrate these dishes.


The famous Baked Barbecued Honey Pork Pastry Buns
包罗万象 酥皮叉烧包
Golden Treasures
Baked Barbecued Honey Pork Pastry (S$4.80++ for two pieces, limited to four pieces per guest)

Yes! The famous crispy char siu bao are here! What a lovely sight. These are somewhat like polo/bolo buns. In Hong Kong, only 750 of these are served each day, and it's a limited run over here at RWS as well. Each guest is allowed four pieces max, and no takeaway is available.


Baked Barbecued Honey Pork Pastry
Baked lightly golden and topped with a delicately crispy sugar-glazed crust, each of these buns hold intensely flavourful char siu marinated in Chef Mak's secret recipe sauce. It's served piping hot, and this is really potent stuff!


Baked Diced Abalone and Chicken Pastry
招财进宝 鲍鱼鸡粒酥
Bestowed Good Fortune
Baked Diced Abalone and Chicken Pastry (S$13.80++)

These were also very good. The abalone comes from Hong Kong and is well-braised in a rich sauce. Diced chicken pieces sit below the abalone in the pastry shells. Each pastry tart has been conveniently sliced in half, so it's easy to eat. But be careful, it's also piping hot!


Beancurd Skin Roll with Fresh Vegetables deep-fried to golden brown perfection
爽心悦目 爽菜腐皮卷
Heart’s Desire
Beancurd Skin Roll with Fresh Vegetables deep-fried to golden brown perfection (S$6.80++)

These were gorgeously crisp, and it takes skill to get them that way without the vegetable juices making the skin soggy. Chef chose crunchy vegetables, and balanced them with just the right amount of sauce.


Sour and spicy Vegetarian Dumplings
酸辣情缘 酸辣鲜菜饺
Fated Romance
Sour and spicy Vegetarian Dumplings (S$6.80++)

A very nice take on vegetable crystal dumplings. The skin is beautifully made, soft but gently chewy and the diced vegetables inside still crunchy and sweet. You can taste the Szechuan hot and sour flavours in every bite. Plump, juicy and delicious.


Chef Pei Ge’s specialty ‘Lor Mai Kai’
温馨家庭 培哥爱心糯米鸡
The Warmth of Home
Chef Pei Ge’s specialty ‘Lor Mai Kai’ – glutinous rice with Chicken infused in Lotus sauce (S$8.80++)

This is one of my favourite dishes here. It's unlike any other lor mai kai in that it includes goose liver sausage (see dark maroon thing on top). That little piece is incredibly savoury, with a strong hint of wine. The sausage fragrance is infused in the rice too. Apparently, this is the traditional way 'lor mai kai' is done but is rarely seen these days.

We all loved that the glutinous rice isn't steamed til mush. It's soft but still with a bit of bite. Perfect.

Note: In Hong Kong, Chef Mak is affectionately known as "Pui Gor" (Cantonese for Brother Pui) or "Pei Ge" (Mandarin). So some dishes here bear his nickname.


Chef Pei Ge’s signature ‘Siew Mai’
画龙点睛 培哥烧卖皇
Fury of the Dragon Eye
Chef Pei Ge’s signature ‘Siew Mai’ – minced tender Pork Loin mixed with Fresh Shrimps (S$8.80)

Siew mai is a staple dim sum item, but it's usually not my favourite. This one had lean pieces of pork and chopped shrimp. Strangely, the pork tastes exactly like pork tastes in Hong Kong!


Rice Rolls wrapped over Lobster meat immersed in a rich Black Bean sauce
游龙封皇 豉汁龙虾蒸肠粉
Rolling Tides of the Dragon
Paper thin Rice Rolls wrapped over Lobster meat immersed in a rich Black Bean sauce (S$18.80++)

I assume this is a tasting portion. Tim Ho Wan is well known for its cheong fun (rice rolls) too. I liked that it is only the lobster that's doused in black bean sauce, and not the whole rice roll. So the sauce does not overpower the whole dish. Very nice and fresh. By the way, Feng Shui Inn bought new Japanese crockery just to showcase Chef Mak's dim sum!


Egg Tart with a golden custard center and a crispy crust
浓情蜜意 香酥忌廉焗蛋挞
Fields of Gold
Egg Tart with a golden custard center and a crispy crust (S$3.80++ per piece)

These were small but lovely. The shortcrust pastry is fragrant and the custard just melts in your mouth.


Wolfberries and Osmanthus flowers in a transparent Gelatin cake
蜜语仁心 晶莹杞子桂花糕
Whispers of Love 
Wolfberries and Osmanthus flowers in a transparent Gelatin cake (S$6.80++)

Refreshingly cold and firm, this was a nice way to end the meal.

----------------------------------------

We asked Chef Mak if he adapted any of his dim sum for Singapore diners, but he says he's staying faithful to the Hong Kong standards, as it's been proven that's what people like. He gets a lot of Singaporean and Malaysian customers lining up first thing in the mornings (yes, don't we love queueing!). He says he recognises our English accents.

Chef Mak's creations will be available at Feng Shui Inn from 11.30am to 11pm daily, from now til 10 July 2011.

Sure, prices may be more than what you'd pay at Tim Ho Wan, but you're enjoying this in a luxurious restaurant setting with table service...and most importantly, without the need to queue for hours or fly to Hong Kong!

If you have never been to Feng Shui Inn, I think it's worth a visit. Its executive chef is Li Kwok Kwong, who came over after 20 years at Wah Lok Restaurant (Carlton Hotel). We also got to meet him, and he's another great personality. I would love to come back and try his dim sum as well.


Live seafood tanks at Feng Shui Inn

Most grateful thanks to RWS for bringing Chef Mak to Singapore. And big thanks to Tania of RWS and Khushil of Weber Shandwick for inviting me to sample the "Michelin star" dim sum and to meet such a wonderful chef. And now I can say I know what Tim Ho Wan dim sum tastes like.


FENG SHUI INN
Crockfords Tower, Basement 1M (take the guest lifts and press G2)
Resorts World Sentosa
Singapore
Tel: +65 6577 8899
Lunch: 11.30am – 03:00pm
High Tea: 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Dinner: 6:00pm – 11:00pm
Supper: 11:00pm - 04:00am
The Michelin star promotional dim sum is available from 11.30am to 11pm.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to get your panna cotta out neatly
For June, DBS Indulge presented Roberto Galetti of the Garibaldi Group for its masterclass series at the AFC Studio. He is the Executive Chef, Managing Director and partner of the very successful group which includes restaurants Garibaldi, Ricciotti, Sweets Garibaldi, and joint ventures like Gunther's, Gattopardo's and Brotzeit.


Neat trick using end of spoon to drizzle sauce in fine lines
Roberto demonstrated a three-course meal with a tuna tartare salad, gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce, and panna cotta. I'd always wanted to see how an expert would make gnocchi - it looks simple but is probably one of the skills that's hard to get right, unless you are someone's Italian grandmother who has been making it for years.

The same goes for panna cotta. It's very hard to get the right balance, says Roberto. He emphasizes that you have just got to try, try and try. And folks, his is officially THE BEST PANNA COTTA I have ever tried! I'm almost afraid to make it. It's so good!

Indeed, Chef Galetti says to pay attention to the steps. So let's dive straight into the recipes! There is a video on making the gnocchi too (mixing and shaping, step 5 in recipe below). This is where the demo comes in more useful than a written recipe.


RECIPES (extra notes in italics)


Battuto Di Tonno Con Rucola Arance E Zafferano

Tuna Tartare with Rucola Salad and Orange Saffron Sauce

Tuna Tartare with Rucola Salad and Orange Saffron Sauce

INGREDIENTS

Orange Saffron Sauce
  • 100ml orange juice
  • 1g saffron
  • ½ tsp corn flour
  • 50g unsalted Butter
  • 10ml water
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Tuna Tartare with Rucola Salad
  • 300g fresh tuna, sashimi grade (he used yellow fin tuna, maguro or loin is fine. Other fish like seabass, snapper or salmon also can be used, as long as they are fresh)
  • Lemon juice from 1 whole lemon
  • 10g capers, finely chopped
  • 10g onions, finely chopped (so that it's not too strong)
  • 10g gherkins, finely chopped
  • 3 orange segments
  • 40g extra virgin olive oil
  • Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper


METHOD

Sauce (do this first, as it needs time to chill)

1) Boil the orange juice with butter and saffron for a few minutes. While waiting for mixture to boil, dissolve corn flour in a small bowl of cold water.

2) Reduce the heat from the sauce and add in the dissolved corn flour slowly until mixture reaches the
thickness that you want. Remember that once the sauce becomes cold, it will thicken so be careful
when adding the corn flour.


Tuna Tartare with Rucola Salad

1) Dice tuna and place in a bowl. Try to cut all the same size, or smaller pieces may overcook.

2) Add capers, onions, gherkins, a few orange segments (keep some for the final decoration), Italian
parsley, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and lastly, the lemon juice to the bowl of tuna and mix
ingredients together.

3) Plate the salad with the remaining orange segments and drizzle the sauce all around.


-------------------------------------------------------


Gnocchi Di Patate E Spinaci Al Gorgonzola Con Noci Tostate
E Riduzione Di Aceto Balsamico

Homemade Spinach and Potato Dumpling with a Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce,
Toasted Walnuts and a Balsamico Glaze

Homemade Spinach and Potato Dumpling with a Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce, Toasted Walnuts and a Balsamico Glaze

INGREDIENTS


Toasted Walnuts & Balsamico Glaze
  • 50g walnuts (just toast these for a few minutes)
  • 200 ml Balsamico vinegar
  • 100g Sugar

Spinach Gnocchi
  • 1kg Idaho potatoes, mashed
  • 400 – 500g flour
  • 100g spinach puree
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 30g parmesan cheese, grated
  • Nutmeg, grated
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Gorgonzola Sauce
  • 1 litre cooking cream (whipped cream is fine)
  • 400g gorgonzola cheese
  • Salt
  • White pepper 


METHOD

Spinach Gnocchi

1) Boil the Idaho potatoes with their skin still on in a pot of water and salt. Boiling time depends on the size of the potatoes. Make sure they are soft but still firm.

2) Once potatoes are done boiling, peel it and cut them into pieces. Bake potatoes at 180°C for about 10 minutes. You can make the balsamic sauce in the meantime.

Using a vegetable mill to grind the boiled potatoes into tiny tendrils
3) Mash the potatoes through the vegetable mill twice and at the second time, add in the blended and
drained spinach purée (cook the spinach with bit of water, salt and pepper, blend and drain). If you don't have a vegetable mill, you can mash the potatoes but you should get it really fine.

4) Check the weight of the mashed potatoes and spinach purée and find the right proportion for the others ingredients.

5) Mix (slowly) all the ingredients while the potato is still hot and bring the mixture from outside to inside – shape them by using extra flour and pass the gnocchi through a fork, allowing them to fall in a floured tray without touching them further.




6) It is recommended to try the texture of the gnocchi by boiling a few pieces even before shaping them all.

7) Keep the gnocchi in the refrigerator if you are using them in the next few hours, otherwise it can be kept for up to two days after half boiling them and ensure that you soak them immediately in water and milk. Alternatively, you can freeze them and keep the gnocchi dough for up to 2 weeks.

8) Cook the gnocchi in boiling salt water and wait for them to float up to the surface of the water. Carefully remove the gnocchi and mix them in hot Gorgonzola sauce. Slide them right off the pan onto the plate!

9) Use balsamico glaze (see second photo above on using the end of a spoon to make fine lashings) and chopped toasted walnut as a garnish.


Gorgonzola Sauce

1) With a very low heat, cook the Gorgonzola cheese and the cream together till the cheese is completely melted. Always cook cheese using a gentle fire. Once melted, blend the mixture and set aside. Blending will remove the gritty bits, if you don't like those.

2) Do note that other types of Blue Cheese can be used, but quantity will need to be reduced should it be anything stronger than Gorgonzola cheese.


Toasted Walnuts & Balsamico Glaze

1) Boil the balsamico vinegar with the sugar until it reaches the right thickness. There's no need to stir, just leave it be. Add in some hot water if the mixture becomes too thick.

2) Chop the walnuts and toast them in the oven for a few minutes at 170°C and use for garnish.


-------------------------------------------------------


Panna Cotta Alla Vaniglia Con Salsa Alle Fragole Pistacchi
Traditional Panna Cotta with Vanilla, Pistachio Nuts and Strawberry Sauce

Traditional Panna Cotta with Vanilla, Pistachio Nuts and Strawberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS


Panna Cotta
  • 350ml fresh milk
  • 500ml cooking cream
  • 250g sugar
  • Lemon zest from 1 whole lemon (if you don't have a zester, just use a peeler)
  • Orange zest from 1 whole orange
  • 1 vanilla bean (you can re-use this two or three times)
  • 5pcs (2g each) gelatin leaves (take note as some leaves are sold as 5g, not 2g! You can also use powdered gelatin but that gives a harder texture)


Sauce
  • 100g sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 450g strawberries (any fruit, really)
  • Icing sugar
  • Mint leaf, for garnishing


METHOD


Panna Cotta

1) Slowly warm the milk with cream, sugar, lemon zest, orange zest and vanilla bean. Once mixture is
warm, add 5 gelatin leaves (put the gelatin in cold water for a few seconds before using it).

2) Ensure that the mixture of milk does not reach a boiling point (excessive heat will separate fat and water). Remove mixture from the heat just before it boils and strain.

3) Pour the mixture into your moulds and keep them in the refrigerator (without covering it, or wrap with cling film but poke holes in it) until it is cold and solid for approximately 3 to 4 hours. Removing the panna cotta from the mould neatly can be tricky. Use a sharp knife (see first photo) to dislodge the dessert from all along the side of the mould, and pop it out gently.


Sauce

1) Prepare the syrup by first boiling water and sugar together. Once sugar has completely dissolved, allow it to cool at room temperature.

2) Wash the strawberries and blend it together with some of the syrup until it reaches the thickness you
desire.

4) Use toasted chopped pistachio nuts, icing sugar and mint leaf to garnish.


-------------------------------------------------------

In addition to food sampling, we had lovely wines paired with each course.

The Wines
The White: 2009 Praepositus Kerner, Abbazia Novacella
The Red: 2008 Barbera d’Alba Piani, Pelissero
The Sweet: 2010 Moscato d’Asti Nivole, Michele Chiarlo


Treats from Sweets Garibaldi
We were also treated to dessert samples from Sweets Garibaldi. This is his new cake and dessert shop at Mandarin Gallery. I found out from their Facebook page that there is a Great Singapore Sale promotion now on til 24 July - buy 2 slices of cake, get 1 free; and a 20% discount on whole cakes. Perfect...there are two birthdays in July my family has to celebrate.


Roberto's tribute to his Mama - a booklet of her best recipes
There was a little surprise gift for all of us, one which I thought was the most touching of all. Roberto Galetti's special tribute to his mother - a carefully curated collection of 29 recipes of dishes that she used to cook with love while he was growing up. The booklet is peppered with precious old photos looking back at his family and his life. It's a limited print, about 2,000 copies, and dining guests can get a complimentary copy at any of his restaurants.


Roberto Galetti heads up the Garibaldi Group
I also found out why he used the name Garibaldi. Earlier, I'd been puzzled why a name of a General could be an appealing choice for a restaurant. At the masterclass, Roberto revealed that this Italian General fought the Austrians and the Spanish, and effectively united Italy. Roberto wanted to do the same with the flavours from the north and south of Italy. He is from the northern part (between Venice and Milan), where they tend to use more cream and butter than olive oil (which is more popular in the south). One of his partners had been from the south, I think. So they wanted to bring both regional types together in one restaurant.


Chef Galetti was quite funny and entertaining
Chef Galetti was also very funny and entertaining throughout the session. I'm glad he's retained his Italian accent despite many years here (and some prowess of Singlish).

Thanks to DBS Indulge and AFC Studio for inviting me to this masterclass. If you are interested, next month we have Michael Han of Fifty-Three at the next masterclass. Details on the page!

Check out also the previous masterclass featuring Chef Sho Naganuma of Hide Yamamoto.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Kelong Restaurant is a Chinese-style seafood restaurant
While on our short holiday at Nirwana Gardens, Bintan Resorts (see their Facebook page) also recommended to us The Kelong Restaurant. This is a Chinese style seafood restaurant, built on stilts above the sea.



Cosy lighting and the cool seabreeze make for romantic dining
The wooden Chinese style round tables and chairs are reminiscent of Chinese banquets. You have a great view of the sea and the cosy lantern-themed lighting sets the mood for romantic dining. It's a nice change having the cool seabreeze instead of air-conditioning.


I shot this off the side of a van
I shot this off the side of a van. This is what the restaurant looks like all lit up in the evening. The view from the Calypso bar that's at the far end of the kelong jetty.



Live fish and seafood kept underneath the restaurant
Live fish and seafood are delivered here regularly and kept underneath the restaurant. Fish are not caught here, as in the case of real kelongs, but it looks like you're getting fresh seafood for sure.

Here's the dinner they lined up for us.


Gong gong - snail-like shellfish
Gong gong - snail-like shellfish, steamed and served with a complex chili-vinegar dip. Listed as an aphrodisiac on the menu (S$14/S$21/S$28 for Small/Medium/Large portions respectively).


Butter prawns
Decadent Butter Prawns....I love the egg drop fritters on top. And the curry leaves make a nice accent.


Qi Ling Yu - steamed fillet fish with Chinese mushrooms and carrot
Qi Ling Yu (S$14/S$21/S$28 for S/M/L) - steamed fillet fish with Chinese mushrooms and carrot. Light and healthy tasting. Apparently one of their specialties.


Crispy chicken
Crispy chicken (S$26 full portion, S$13 half portion). Deep-fried chicken. What's not to like?


Scallop with broccoli
Scallop with broccoli. Nicely done.


Fried Rice
What Chinese restaurant is complete without fried rice?


Our favourite dish of all - the black pepper crab!
But our favourite dish of all was the black pepper crab (S$4.30 per 100g)! Unabashedly peppery and hot! This is the way black pepper crab should be. The sauce is so savoury, you want to lick the shell clean. We even packed back the remnants for a late night supper back at our Banyu Biru villa, which has a full kitchenette, crockery and cutlery.

So if you're ever in Bintan and crave Asian-style live seafood, this is where you can get some.

And if you're craving a free holiday, Bintan Resorts is also offering a 2D1N weekday villa stay at Banyu Biru Villas for four persons (inclusive of ferry tickets) in a SUPER EASY CONTEST right here! Hurry, last three days to enter. Contest ends 30 June 2011. Don't miss it!

Many thanks once more to Bintan Resorts and Nirwana Gardens for this contest, my lucky draw prize that resulted in the stay, and for arranging our meals at Spice Restaurant and The Kelong.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lump Crabmeat Summer Rolls with Yuzu Mayo
Recently I joined some of my friends (who got to stay at the Marina Bay Sands) for some drinks and bar snacks at KU DÉ TA. I previously shyed away from this place because it had this almost forbidding aura of exclusivity, but we all found it can be a nice casual place to chill.

From the club menu, we tried a few items. The Lump Crabmeat Summer Rolls with Yuzu Mayo (S$16) is just the thing for our warm weather. The juicy and generous crabmeat filling is a burst of seafood sweetness scented by yuzu.



Crunchy curry fried chicken and calamansi
What's bar food without some grease bombs? Crunchy curry fried chicken and calamansi (S$16) - the crunch is addictive! It's not as spicy or salty as I thought it'd be though. Good with chili sauce.



Mini mushroom burgers
Mini mushroom burgers (S$16) - marinated shiitake, smoked eggplant, bel paese, green
olive mayo. I didn't try this, but heard it was not bad. I got the similar looking Pork Belly mini burgers (S$22) which was even better! Kurobuta pork belly glazed in a soy-vinegar sauce, topped with pickles and interestingly, peanut sauce. Yes, it's fatty, but it's the kind of tasty fattyness that makes you feel it's worth it.



Passion and Cream Martini
Here's my "Passion and Cream" martini (S$20). Vanilla-infused Grey Goose vodka, fresh
passion fruit and passion fruit foam. Very light and thus perfect for me (my alcohol tolerance is hopelessly low).

And look! They have an "Angry Bird" cocktail on their drinks menu. Chivas Regal 18 years scotch whisky, crème de peach liqueur, lemon juice, apple juice. Though intrigued, none of us were fond enough of whisky to order this, I guess. Next time, maybe I'll try it.


Berry Bellini and some martini behind it
Berry Bellini (S$20) and some martini behind it. The Berry Bellini is made with Prosecco, Chambord with muddled fresh raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Sounds like lots of antioxidants and vitamins!


Urban Breeze?
I can't remember if this is "Urban Breeze" - Grey Goose vodka, passion fruit, cranberry
juice, pink grapefruit soda. The colours and slice of grapefruit seems to point to it.


Wassup, B? Highball
This is the "Wassup, B?" highball (S$20), Ku De Ta’s secret wasabi mary with Grey
Goose vodka that comes with a grilled wasabi shrimp.


Yellow and Dirty Martini
The "Yellow and Dirty" martini (S$20), Grey Goose vodka muddled with fresh pineapple and vanilla pods.


KU DÉ TA sees a good crowd right before sunset
KU DÉ TA does see a good crowd in the early evening, well before clubbing hours. Many people come here to view the glorious sunset up here on the Skypark.


Spectacular skyline view from KU DÉ TA
The view from the Skypark is also another huge draw. You can see the entire Singapore skyline from the vantage point of the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands hotel.


Skypark Pool
KU DÉ TA also overlooks the infinity pool at the Skypark. The pool is certainly very popular with the hotel guests.


The Orchid Suite at Marina Bay Sands is huge and gorgeous
I also got a peek at the hotel room my friends stayed in. The Orchid Suite at Marina Bay Sands is HUGE and gorgeous. If I had known, I would have brought a wide-angle lens to capture the full glory of the room. Too bad I only had my 50mm lens with me then.

Well, this place is starting to look like a nice staycation destination (oh they have a "Shop & Stay" package that you can book from now til 3 July, to stay til 1 Aug). Lots of promos for the Great Singapore Sale too.



KU DÉ TA
Marina Bay Sands SkyPark
1 Bayfront Ave, Level 57
Singapore 018971
Tel: +65 6688 7688

Opening hours:
SkyBar -- 12noon till late
Club Lounge -- 6pm till late
SkyDeck -- 9am till late
Poolside Terrace - 9am till 10pm

Restaurant
Breakfast – 7am till 11am
Lunch – 12noon till 3pm
Dinner – 6pm till 11pm

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Drop by *Scape this Saturday (25th June) for a good cause. Singapore's first Social Media Day (SGSMD, see Facebook, and Twitter, hashtag #sgsmd) 2011 promises to be a day of fun-filled activities organised by social media volunteers and enthusiasts.

Parts of *SCAPE’s atrium and gallery would be converted into a mini “funfair” on 25 June from 2pm – 9 pm. Proceeds collected through the various activities would be donated to the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF).

Donate $1 or above to charity and you could win a 3D2N trip to Hong Kong, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. As you know, you can never go to Hong Kong enough times.

The event's tag "SoMe" (contraction of "Social Media") does encapsulate how social media is about expressing oneself. But we can see that social media can be used for sharing with the less fortunate as well as socialising.

Line-up of programme from 2pm – 9pm at *SCAPE:

* SoMe! Shopping Booths: Sales booths by various blog shops*
* SoMe! Superstars: Youtube performers, in the flesh!
* SoMe! Shutterbug: Photography-sharing workshop (by Tan Geng Hui)**
* SoMe! Social Media Wall: We’ve all left a message on our friends’ Facebook Walls before, so how about leaving a message on an actual Social Media wall for a change? Donate a dollar (or more!), and get to leave your message on the Wall for all to read!**
* SoMe! Games: Have fun at the game booths located at Level 5 Gallery, earn game ‘stamps’, and collect stamps at all 4 game stations to redeem your exclusive SoMe goodie bags!
* Creative Sandwich-making contest**, Stage Games, and more!

*Partial proceeds from sales will be donated to SPMF.
**All proceeds from sales will be donated to SPMF.

Hope to see you there!


This event is presented by HTC and supported by omy.sg

Thanks to Alvin for the info and content. See his post for even more details.
David Lebovitz's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
 - what could be more basic than that? But David Lebovitz raved about Joanne Chang's recipe, so I just had to try it. Plus, I had a surplus of oats that no one else would eat.

After baking a batch, I was in heaven! He is right. Who cares about "fussy showstoppers" when this delicious thing is what we want to eat?

Here's the recipe with my own notes in green. These cookies are so good, I have been having trouble blogging them. Because every time I sit down and look at this recipe, I'm off to the kitchen again, baking a new batch instead of writing. Yes, I have a batch of batter chilling in the fridge as we speak now.


OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES (Makes About 24 cookies)
Adapted from "Flour" by Joanne Chang

Be sure to really beat the butter and sugar together in the stand mixer. (If you don’t have a mixer, Joanne says you can beat it by hand for ten minutes instead.) And feel free to swap out the raisins for any other dried fruit - cranberries, sour cherries, diced apricots, etc.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

1 cup (200 g) packed light brown sugar -- I shaved off as much as 150g and it was still very sweet! 
2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 3/4 cup (245 g) flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I omitted, not a fan)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 (I didn't have this, so I tried some allspice powder)
1 3/4 cup (175 g) old–fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
1 1/2 cups (240 g) raisins (if you like "boozy raisins", poach them in a bit of wine/rum first)

METHOD
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps of baking soda. Stir in the oats and raisins.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until thoroughly combined. On low speed, or by hand, gradually add the flour and oat mixture to the creamed butter, mixing until completely incorporated.
4. Chill the batter a few hours or overnight, covered. (This step is optional, although recommended by the author.) Absolutely DO NOT skip this step. I did once and my cookies failed. For me, I put the entire metal mixer bowl into the freezing compartment for an hour and it's more than enough. 
5. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
6. Drop the dough in 1/4 cup (50 g) balls evenly spaced on the baking sheet and flatten the tops slightly with your hand. (I got about 8 cookies per baking sheet.) You can make smaller cookies too. They turn out just fine (well, if crispy is fine).
7. Midway during baking, rotate the baking sheet and tap the tops of the cookies down somewhat firmly with a spatula to flatten the domes. I skipped this step, as my oven doesn't require me to rotate stuff halfway. But then I did make smaller cookies, so tapping them was not necessary.
8. Bake the cookies for 20 to 22 minutes, until they just start to turn brown across the top, but do not overbake.
Remove from oven and cool completely.

Storage: Once cool, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Jackson Plan is named after English lieutenant Philip Jackson who was one of Singapore's first surveyors
The Jackson Plan. What is the Jackson Plan?


Plan of the Town of Singapore
Perhaps only hardcore history buffs will know Lieutenant Philip Jackson, the English surveyor who drew up one of Singapore's earliest urban town plans. The Jackson Plan of 1822, or The Plan of the Town of Singapore gave us the Chinese Kampung (Chinatown), Kampung Chulia (Little India), Kampung Glam (the Malay enclave) and the Eurasian quarter.

Well, this Jackson Plan is indeed named after him and his effort. It's a British gastrobar at Duxton Hill that wants to bring back the flavours of Singapore's colonial past - featuring old English dishes with Asian ingredients that traveled the East Indian spice trade route to Britain.

Interestingly, it's taken an Italian to make this happen. But Beppe DeVito, who also owns Il Lido and Forlino, is more than well-known in the F&B industry. DeVito lived in London before moving to Singapore, and had always wanted to blend experiences from both countries.

While Philip Jackson aimed to bring some order to the chaotic fledgling town of Singapore, this particular Jackson Plan is all about feasting and merriment. Chef Christopher Dougan is from Scotland and trained under two of UK's top chefs Nigel Haworth and Paul Heathcote. The fare is hearty and honest. Everything here, from the bread to the blood pudding, is made inhouse.

Irish barman John Kernan who heads up the drinks and restaurant operations will also see to it that guests are well-served. The wait staff are friendly with no pretensions. I was also heartened to note that they are pretty knowledgeable about the dishes and drinks.



Cool white and green walls nicely set off the old school furniture sourced from auctions in Britain
The restaurant is appropriately ensconced in a heritage shophouse. The feel is a mix of industrial and old school, with vintage furniture and floor tiles sourced from auctions in the UK.


Eclectic furniture, handbag stools, and vintage floral tiles
I love the mish mash of eclectic chairs and tables. There are thoughtful touches like side stools for handbags (they have that too at Forlino). The floral vintage tiles also remind me of Peranakan tiles.

But the real star is the food. Oh how we loved almost every single dish, and every element within those dishes! I'd brought hubby along for the food tasting. We have famously opposing taste-buds and yet both of us liked the food there. That does not happen very often!


Pimms No.1 Cup - delightfullly refreshing
Some drinks to start with....we were recommended the Pimms No.1 Cup (S$10.50 by the glass; S$39.50 by the pitcher) and it was indeed delightfullly refreshing. Other cocktails include Queen's Cup, East India Punch and Jackson Punch. The Coolie's Cup sounds like quite a mix - rum and absinthe, fresh calamansi and mint, with gula melaka and cinnamon.

In addition to wines, ciders and perry, they also offer vintage ales and beers (Oxford Gold Organic, Marstons Old Empire, Ringwood Old Thumper and Suffolk Strong Vintage Ale.


Potted Smoked Mackerel, Rye Toast
Potted Smoked Mackerel, Rye Toast (S$12.50) is one of their signature starters. It's beautifully smooth and light in texture. It wasn't too fishy for me, but if you find it too strong, the wedge of lemon helps. There's enough of the creamy paste for a generous spread on the crisp rye toast.


Crab Cakes, Quail Eggs, Anchovy Cream
Crab Cakes, Quail Eggs, Anchovy Cream (S$16.50). Mini little patties of warm comfort. The crab cakes are so tender, they almost melt in your mouth after you crunch through the breaded exterior. The runny quail eggs sunny side up just amplify the comfort factor.


Scotch Duck Egg, Pea Salad
Scotch Duck Egg, Pea Salad (S$13.50). This is their spin on the usual scotch eggs. Instead of sausage meat encasing the egg, it's duck confit! Nice. Boiled egg fanatics will note that there is no gray ring around the yolk. I even liked the dressing on the pea salad.


Real Chips
Real Chips (S$6.50) on the side - twice-fried but still tender inside.


Scallops, Black Pudding, Smoked Cheese
From the mains, I chose the Scallops, Black Pudding, Smoked Cheese (S$28). This was our first time tasting black pudding and we were surprised at how pleasant it was. A little on the sweetish side, gently chewy and crumbly, with no funny taste. If you don't yet know how it's made, good! Eat it first. Then find out.

The fresh scallops were blanketed by the delicious melted smoked cheese, and were perched atop some amazingly tasty mashed potato (next time I'm ordering extra mashed potatoes as a side).


Home Baked Beans
Home Baked Beans (S$5), another side they recommended. Most of us have only ever had baked beans out of a can, not freshly homemade. The tinned ones tend to be rather sweet. So this one took some getting used to (it had more of a sourish hint to it), but it grew on us, and at the end, we were not sure we could ever eat beans out of a can again.


Beef Shin, Bone Marrow, Potato Cakes
Beef Shin, Bone Marrow, Potato Cakes (S$25.50). They warned us that the beef shin tends towards leanness and could be a bit tough, but we didn't find it so. It was like a really nice stew. It was not fatty but the meat was tender and so deeply infused with flavour. I also liked the potato cakes - better than any pancakes I've ever had.


Farquhar Mess, Mango and Gula Melaka
Farquhar Mess, Mango and Gula Melaka (S$11.50). This is their take on the Eton mess, and is a cheeky reference to the haphazard town-planning situation Jackson inherited from the former governor William Farquhar. It's more of a fun dessert, with lots of whipped cream, pieces of meringue and gula-melaka coated mango slices at the bottom.


Eccles Cakes, and a most potent rum and raisin ice cream
Eccles Cakes, and a most potent rum and raisin ice cream (S$9.50). There's more rum in this than cream!  The "cake" is like a caramelised raisin pastry. A little too sweet and dry on its own, but when paired with the ice cream, it was just nice.


There is a breezy patio for al fresco drinks and dining

The Jackson Plan is a nice place to chill out with friends. There is a bright yellow-themed bar section as well as a breezy patio for al fresco dining and drinking. We truly enjoyed dinner there and are making plans to come back.

Many thanks to Christine Yee who invited us, Beppe DeVito, John Kernan and Christopher Dougan for the opportunity to discover The Jackson Plan. It was lovely meeting all of you.



THE JACKSON PLAN
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40 Duxton Hill
Singapore 089618
Tel: +65 6866 1988
Open
Mon - Thurs: 11.30 am - 12.00 am
Fri: 11.30 am - 1.00 am
Sat: 3.00 pm - 1.00 am
 
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