Thursday, January 31, 2013


I just had to try the Omakase burgers after hearing so many raves about them. 
My verdict is on Yahoo Makanation. 

Let me know what you think too.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The girls love the kuehs

It's so rare when we hear of younger folks upholding the time-honoured ways of handcrafting things. And it's extra precious when it's not old school for old school's sake, but for better artisanal quality over mass production and profits.



Handmade goodness you can taste

That edge in perfection is what Gavan Sing is championing at Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery at Block 84 Bedok North Street 4, #01-21. They have been around since the 1960s, and is now run by the third generation.



His parents, Gavan Sing and wife

I did a story on Makanation on Gavan and these delectable kuehs - you can click the link and read about how things handmade are better, the multi-faceted challenges they face, as well as how they plan to overcome them.

Gavan and his wife are only thirty-something, but they quit their jobs to help the parents with the family business, and are thinking of creative ways to enhance business. But they aren't compromising on the handmade quality of their goods. Awesomely commendable!



There are some special ang ku kuehs - I think for boys
They made a name for themselves with ang ku kueh in the 1980s, but tastes are changing, so they added Nonya kuehs back to their line of goods, and later on things like soon kueh and ku chye kueh.

Ang ku kueh is often given out at babies' first month celebrations. I learnt there used to be different ang ku kuehs for boys and girls. If I remember correctly, I think this one is for boys. Then I read somewhere that it's pointy ones for boys, and flat ones for girls. Ah, sounds similar to the speculation when it comes to analysing the pregnancy bump too!



I got to try my hand at moulding ang ku kueh
I had a chance at making ang ku kueh - it's actually quite fun. Like Play-doh that you get to eat eventually.


Making ang ku kueh
There really is an art to gauging what the right amount of dough vs filling is, and to see if it's the right texture and consistency. Even the amount of pressure has to be just right.

The kuehs are steamed for about 20 minutes after moulding. Oh, they taste so good when freshly made!


Haul from Lek Lim
Look at the spread that they have - Nonya kuehs, ang ku kuehs, ku chye kueh, soon kueh, peng kueh, and (more recently) fried items like curry puffs, yam cake, and spring rolls.

My favourites - the ku chye kueh with its delicious savoury filling and smooth skin. You can also taste the handmade goodness in the soon kueh. The turnip filling is not mushy unlike what you get with some machine made ones. The curry puff is richly spiced and comes with chicken and a section of boiled egg. The yam cake is yummy too. The Nonya kuehs are not too sweet.

Oh, they are also halal-certified, by the way!



Chinese New Year cookies
They've got Chinese New Year cookies out too - mostly handmade by relatives, and the 90-year-old Nonya sifu who taught Gavan's grandparents (she's still making kuehs at this age - amazing!). These really do taste like they came from some aunt's kitchen, with that comforting rustic feel.

I like the round peanut cookies (see centre yellow ones); they are full of chunky crunch inside! And the love letters have this rugged heft which I ironically prefer over the flimsy delicate type. They've also got green bean cookies in cute Chinese fu-lu-shou figurines, peaches and turtle shapes (left).

These are available for order two weeks ahead of the lunar new year. You can view the entire product catalogue and make orders online as well.


LEK LIM NONYA CAKE CONFECTIONERY
Block 84 Bedok North Street 4, #01-21
Singapore 460084
Tel: +65 6449-0815
Open daily

7:30am - 5pm, Monday to Saturday
7:30am - 1pm, Sunday


Check out their Facebook page for updates and even videos on how they make the kuehs.



Cookieees...

Monday, January 28, 2013


By now everyone would have heard of or maybe tried the "Kopi Crab" at Majestic Bay Restaurant at Gardens by the Bay. What do you think of it?

I got to interview Chef Yong Bing Ngen for a story in Makanation last year. The Kopi Crab is his invention to add some buzz to his new seafood restaurant. The classic dishes and crowd favourites are all there (chili crab, pepper crab, etc) but you need to have something innovative to stand out from the many seafood restaurants that compete on this little island.


Chef Yong Bing Ngen has always wanted a seafood restaurant

Coffee and seafood aren't natural bedfellows, so it is quite interesting to see how the combination can work. Chef Yong said the inspiration came to him as he was sipping his morning coffee at a kopitiam, looking at the zi char signboards all offering the same old things. He wanted something unusual, and it was right under his nose.

Of course there were objections. But Chef Yong experimented with coffee for a few months and finally perfected the recipe using three kinds of coffee beans (Arabica, Brazil and white coffee), fruit juices, spices, apple jam and coffee liqueur.


The Kopi Crab is flambed at your table
Well, I do think it's a dramatic dish that engages all your senses. The Kopi Crab (market price) is flambéed at your table, so you get the aroma and sizzle before you tuck into the warm and sweetly savoury blend. In general, I've heard that people really enjoy the concept. Many have likened the caramelised flavour to that of popcorn.



The restaurant itself features nautical chic with turquoise and warm woods
Chef Yong has always wanted to open a seafood restaurant. His favourite food is fish, and freshwater fish in particular. This restaurant is different from his fine-dining outlets Majestic and Jing; here it's more casual and communal, very suited for family dining.

The outlet itself is cheerfully chic with nautical elements, sea-green turquoise and warm woods. You'll find it down the escalators, below the Flower Dome (no entrance fee required). It seats 110 comfortably and has a private dining room as well.


The live fish is neatly labelled in two languages
No Chinese seafood restaurant would be complete without a showcase of live fish. But what really impressed me here is the clear labelling of what each tank contained, complete with photos and  fish names in both English and Chinese. Well, it turns out that lots of tourists ask, "What's this? What's that?" and the labels save the wait staff a lot of explanation time.


Steamed live prawns with minced garlic
Steamed live prawns with minced garlic (market price)
Live seafood is indeed done well here. Garlic and good soy sauce enhance the natural sweetness of fresh seafood, although sometimes they can get a bit overpowering.

Majestic Bay also has dim sum, and I'm happy to say it's good dim sum. Har gau, siew mai, xiao long bao...oh, I must come back for lunch!

Seared chili crab meat bun
Seared chili crab meat bun (S$4.50 for three pieces)
Chili crab in a bun?


Chili crab meat bun
The soft bun seems to have soaked up the liquid part of the filling. Yes, this won raves around the table. While I agree this may be an easier way to eat chili crab, I still miss dunking the fried mantou and picking up loads of wet gravy with it.


Baked BBQ pork bun
Baked BBQ pork bun (S$4.20 for three pieces)
Oh have you ever seen such perfectly round and shiny buns? These were marvellous.


Soups are really good here!
Soup of the day (S$18 small for 2-4 pax; S$27 medium for 5-8 pax)
Here it's pork ribs boiled til tender, plus a lot of goodies. The rich, warm broth just feels so good going down the gullet. Extremely fortifying, as a good soup should be.



Sauteed wild mushrooms, asparagus, minced garlic
Sauteed wild mushrooms, asparagus, minced garlic (S$18 small for 2-4 pax; S$27 medium for 5-8 pax)
Oh I really liked this one, even though it's just vegetables. So lusciously umami. This is going on my must-order list.



Baked rice, assorted seafood, chef's recipe sauce
The other specialty that Chef Yong created for the new restaurant is the Portuguese-inspired Baked Rice with assorted seafood and a special sauce (S$68 for 4-6 pax; S$88 for 7-12 pax). This comfort dish tastes a little bit like Japanese curry rice! The local spices in the cream and baby abalones give it the Asian touch. Assorted seafood you certainly get - plump scallops, prawns, mussels - and it's all topped with mozzarella for a luxurious finish. Very filling, yes.

So there's lots more at Majestic Bay beyond Kopi Crab. I'm glad Chef Yong has finally realized his dream of having a seafood restaurant. One more place to bring your family and visiting friends for a nice seafood dinner or dim sum lunch!


MAJESTIC BAY RESTAURANT
Flower Dome, Gardens By The Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-10
Singapore 018953
Tel: +65 6604 6604
Open daily
Lunch (Mon-Fri) 11:45 am – 2:30pm
Lunch (Sat, Sun & PH) 11:30 am – 2:30pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 9:30pm

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Awesome durian kaya toast!

Oh my god, this is so sedaaap! Durian kaya toast. It's really more of a durian custard though, and one that's so smooth and fine, with just the right amount of sweetness and real durian fragrance. You won't be able to stop dipping the toast into it and licking whatever spills onto your fingers. Quite frankly, it'll be hard to resist dipping your fingers in directly!

This was my friend Eunice's recommendation, and it's at Sedap Corner, a little cafe/restaurant at Simpang Bedok.

We asked the boss, Chef Bob, what goes into the making of this tasty treat. It's a mix of D24 and Mao Shan Wang durians, combined into a delicious kaya custard base. They make it fresh every day, and so are able to use less sugar and no preservatives. This means shelf life is really short, but that's no worry, as the whole batch sells out every day.

Chef Bob tells us they did a successful trial run of 2,000 bottles of durian kaya (as wedding favours - he recently got married). So looks like we might be able to one day take home some of this yummy stuff. But I think nothing beats freshly made kaya.


Vietnamese coffee
You can enjoy it some some drinks. They have Vietnamese coffee, among many other drinks.


The biggest chococcino I've seen!
And the biggest Chococcino I have seen!


Sedap Corner is at 282 Bedok Road, inside the Simpang Bedok makan enclave

Check them out at Simpang Bedok. It's a simple but pleasantly decorated cafe offering Asian dishes and Western grill specialties. This is a nice place to chill out too. Very relaxed vibe. Interestingly, they began life in Johor Bahru (where they have many outlets) but started this outlet five years ago. I should come back to try the mains. But the durian kaya toast is definitely a winner in my books.

SEDAP CORNER
282 Bedok Road
Singapore 469438
Tel: +65 6445-9987

Tuesday, January 22, 2013



Street food - oh, how it's fed and fascinated people from all over the world.

You've got Jolly Jeeps in the Philippines, tacos stands in Mexico, food alleys in China, food trucks in America, stalls in Bangkok, and kaki limas in Indonesia. Street food is the biggest, most loved and yet most unstructured culinary culture in the world.

But this much beloved cuisine is also one that's most under threat. Street food is often borne out of hardship in developing countries. Cheap, fast and filling food for the poor by the poor - deliciously so! It is honed by people willing to put in long, tedious hours often for not very much in return. In Singapore itself, the continuity of the our hawker food is often greatly debated as the older generation that made it great passes on, and the younger ones pick a more comfortable career.

Finally though, something's happening to pull all the fractured energies together to address continuity, open up fresh ideas and inspire thought leadership for new opportunities.

The World Street Food Congress is happening 31 May to 9 June this year in Singapore at the F1 Pit Building and Paddock (1 Republic Boulevard). It's spearheaded by KF Seetoh, street food champion, founder of food consultancy and street food guide publisher Makansutra, and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). There's a whole lot of people actively throwing their lot into this as well, including:
- TV host and street food aficionado Anthony Bourdain
- chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten who loves creating dishes inspired by the street foods of Asia
- editor-in-chief of US food publication Saveur, James Oseland
- China's top TV food host and winemaker Johnny Chan

The World Street Food Congress comprises three main prongs:

1. World Street Food Dialogue (3 and 4 June): aka the heavy-duty stuff. Big names and prominent minds will meet and present ideas, plans and opportunities for the industry ahead. If you're in the trade, you'll be keen to take a look. The line-up of speakers will be revealed at a later date.

2. The World Street Food Jamboree (31 May to 9 June): the part where consumers are probably most interested in! This is where 35 of the world's best street food masters gather and present an amazing feast! Well, it's also to generate leads and opportunities for the public to be part of the industry.

3. The World Street Food Awards: the world's first awards of its kind to build awareness and recognition, not just for the street food masters, but for their culture and country as well.

So mark your calendars. This very exciting global initiative is kicking off in Asia because we have the richest and widest array of street food, which thoroughly deserves to continue and flourish. And for it to do so, we need to encourage the jobs, skills and opportunities with the tripartite help of government, private sector and the people. Seriously, this could not have come at a better time. Here's to celebrating street food worldwide for more years to come!



Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bosch Apple-tizing Healthy Recipe Contest held at ToTT

Bosch came back bigger and better for its second original recipe contest for users last month. Six contestants vied for the top prize of two plane tickets to Germany plus S$1,000 spending money. It was held at the Bosch Culinary Studio at ToTT (Tools of the Trade), and I was happy to return as a judge.

Owners of Bosch food processors and kitchen machines to submit recipes using apples as the main ingredient. These are all home cooks, but what they crafted in that kitchen blew us away! We were all very impressed with their culinary skill, creativity and presentation flair. Well, OK, one of them (the second prize winner) did study bread-making in Paris, so these are serious enthusiasts.


Winner Mr Phua

The previous and inaugural competition saw the only guy winning the top prize of the sleek retro Bosch fridge. This year, we also had only one male contestant. We didn't think history would repeat itself but oh yes, it did. Not by sheer chance, but pure merit. Mr Phua Kok Wee's creation, the Savoury  Apple Chicken Tart, also the only savoury creation of the lot, won unanimous approval in all aspects - taste, presentation, and innovation.

Here are the recipes for the top three winning entries, and one consolation prize entry which I feel deserves mention because it was really tasty even though it was easy to make (that's a plus in my books, actually).


Winner - Savoury Apple Chicken Tart

First Prize Winner: SAVOURY APPLE CHICKEN TART
By Mr Phua Kok Wee

Using the Bosch MUM 4600 Kitchen Machine

INGREDIENTS

For the tart pastry:
180g salted butter
420g plain flour, sifted
100ml water
¼ tsp salt

For the tart filling:
60g large onion, chopped finely
60g celery, chopped finely
200g carrot, cut into small cubes
200g minced chicken breast meat
2 Granny Smith apples, skinned & cut into small cubes (200gm)
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp butter
4 tbsp milk
100 - 200ml water
½ tsp salt
a dash of white pepper
a dash of black pepper
a pinch of mixed spices
a sprinkle of dried basil
1 bay leaf
40gm grated Parmesan cheese

For the topping:
half packet ready-to-bake puff pastry (for the trellis topping)
1 egg for glazing before baking
warmed apricot jam for final glazing
finely sliced spring onions

DIRECTIONS

1. To prepare the filling, pan-fry onions with butter until soft. Add celery and carrot, fry a while. Stir in flour, cook for a few minutes.
2. Add milk, water, meat and seasoning. Then add apple cubes. Simmer until moist. Cool filling before using. Mix in Parmesan cheese and more salt to taste.
3. To make the tart pastry, cream the butter and salt until light and creamy, using the Bosch MUM 4 Kitchen Machine. Fold flour into the butter and add water to form a dough. Cover the dough with cling
wrap. Let the dough rest in fridge for 30 mins.
4. Mould the dough into tartlet tins. Fill tartlets with the meat filling.
5. Roll out the puff pastry into a thin sheet. Cut into thin strips, arrange over the tartlets in a trellis pattern.
6. Brush top with beaten egg to glaze. Bake at 180°C for 25 to 30 mins until golden brown. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
7. Remove tarts from the tins. Brush with warmed apricot jam and sprinkle with spring onions. Serve warm.


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


Appletops won second prize

Runner Up Prize Winner: APPLETOPS
By Ms Tan Hui Kian

Using the Bosch MUM 52110 Kitchen Machine

INGREDIENTS

For the bread dough:
250g bread flour
50g wholemeal flour
50g carrot
200g milk
10g sugar
2g salt
4g dry instant yeast
10g olive oil butter

For the filling:
2 red apples
2 green apples
50g walnut
50g raisins, soaked overnight in rum
½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp icing sugar

Cream cheese topping:
110g cream cheese
25g olive oil butter
60g fine sugar
¼ tsp vanilla essence

Crumble topping (optional):
50g plain flour
25g olive oil butter
10g sugar

DIRECTIONS

To make the filling (you can do this while waiting for the dough to rise):
1. Cut the apples into 1.5cm cubes and throw away the core.
2. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon powder onto the apple cubes.
3. Break the walnuts into smaller pieces and add it to the apples. Add the raisins.

Cream cheese topping:
1. Whip the softened cream cheese and butter together using the Bosch MUM 52110 whisking attachment at speed 2. Add in the sugar and vanilla essence and whisk at speed 3.

Crumble topping (optional):
1. Mix the flour, butter and sugar together using the Bosch MUM 52110 blender attachment at speed 2 and 3.

To make the bread dough:
1. Warm up the milk over the stove and set aside.
2. Using the Bosch MUM 52110 shedder function, shred the carrots using size 5 blade. Take out the shredded carrots and set aside.
3. Pour in the cooled warm milk, yeast, salt and sugar into the mixing bowl. Turn on the Bosch MUM 52110 using the hook attachment at speed 1 to mix them.
4. Add in all the bread and wholemeal flours and carrots. Mix at speed 1 for about 5 mins, then at speed 2 for another 5 mins.
5. Add in the butter by parts and mix it into the dough at speed 2 for about 10 mins.
6. Rub some butter in a round bowl. Take the dough out from the mixing bowl and set it to rest in the bowl. Cover with a wet cloth.
Let the dough rise for about 45mins or until the dough is twice its size.
7. Divide the dough into approximately 18 pieces, each 30g.
8. Take each piece and press out the air gently. Fold in the edges and form a round ball.
9. Leave to rest for 15 mins. Take each ball and press out the air gently.
10.Flatten each ball into a 3-inch circle and place it on a buttered baking tray.
11.Place a teaspoon of cream cheese topping on top of the dough. Add the fillings on top. Top it off with the crumble.
12.Preheat the oven at 190°C. Lower to 150°C and bake for 20mins. Remove and place on a baking rack to cool.



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



2nd Runner Up - Apple Yoghurt Mousse Cake


Third Prize Winner: APPLE YOGURT MOUSSE CAKE
By Mdm Emily Choy

Using the Bosch MUM 48CR1 Kitchen Machine

Yield: 12cm round cake

INGREDIENTS

For the apple jelly filling:
8g gelatin powder
¼ Fuji apple
150ml apple juice

For the cake:
25g cake flour
25g corn flour
2 eggs
40g sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the yogurt mousse:
80ml plain yogurt
100ml Yakult (apple flavour)
150ml whipping cream
20g sugar
6g gelatin powder
30ml apple juice

DIRECTIONS

Preparing the apple jelly filling (approx. 10 mins):
1. Soak gelatin powder with apple juice till dissolved. Microwave 25 seconds.
2. Cut apple, toss with some lemon juice or lightly salted water.
3. Mix cut apple, apple juice and dissolved gelatin liquid. Pour into container and freeze for 15 minutes.

Making the cake (approx. 20 mins):
1. Sift flours. Separate the egg yolks and whites.
2. Using the Bosch MUM 8 whisk attachment, whisk egg whites with sugar until 70% stiff.

3. Then whip up the egg yolk and vanilla extract, and mix with sieved flours. Fold in flour mixture into whipped egg white until all ingredients are incorporated.
4. Bake in preheated oven at 170°C for 12-14 minutes, or bake in ordinary rice cooker for 16 minutes until done. Cool the cake (you could put it in freezer for 5 minutes for faster cooling).

Preparing the mousse (15 mins):
1. Soak gelatin powder with apple juice. Microwave 25 seconds till dissolved.
2. Using the Bosch MUM 8, whip up the cream with sugar. Mix plain yogurt and Yakult, then fold in whipped cream.
3. Mix gelatin liquid into cream mixture.

To assemble:
1. Place vanilla cake at the bottom. Pour in 2/5 of mousse, and then the apple jelly. Freeze for 10 minutes.
2. Pour in the remaining mousse mixture. Put in freezer for 15 minutes, then transfer to fridge, until it sets.



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

Consolation prize - Crepes a la Pomme

Consolation Prize Winner: CREPE A LA POMME (Apple Crepes with
Streusel)
By Ms Claire Lee Han Ying

Using the Bosch MCM 4100 Food Processor

INGREDIENTS

Crepe batter:
60g plain flour
a good pinch of salt
1 egg
½ tbsp melted butter
150ml milk
butter or sunflower oil to grease the pan

Apple filling:
5 large apples or 8 small apples
50g butter
4 tbsp Malibu rum (coconut rum or any fruity liqueur of your choice)
100g sultanas

Streusel topping:
75g plain flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
40g frozen butter
40g demerara sugar or brown sugar
2 digestive biscuits, finely crushed

To serve:
Ice cream of your choice, preferably vanilla
fresh berries

DIRECTIONS

For the crepes:
1. Place the flour and salt in the Bosch MCM 4 Food Processor and add the eggs, butter and half of the milk.
2. Whizz until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides once or twice to dislodge any stray pockets of flour. This will ensure a very smooth batter.

3. With the motor running, mix in the remaining milk.
4. Cook the crepes on a lightly buttered frying pan, stirring the batter occasionally.

For the apple filling:
1. Core and peel the apples (you may leave the skin on to keep the vitamins).
2. Cut the apple into dices. Alternatively, the apples can be roughly chopped with the food processor.
3. Heat the butter in the large frying pan until sizzling.
4. Toss in the apple cubes and sauté for about 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown and slightly softened.
5. Add Malibu rum, stirring to deglaze, and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.

For the streusel topping:
1. Sift the flour with cinnamon into the food processor bowl.
2. Put on the rough grater attachment and insert the block of frozen butter to form the streusel topping. The topping should resemble breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in the sugar and crushed biscuits.

To assemble:
1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
2. Place the apple filling on a greased baking dish and spoon the streusel topping on top of the apple filling.
3. Bake until the topping is crisp and golden.
4. Place the remaining half of apple topping inside the crepe and transfer the apple filling on top of the crepe.
5. Top with ice cream and fresh berries to serve.


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


So that's it for some of Bosch's deliciously 'Apple-tizing' creations from some truly talented users. Many thanks to Bosch for inviting me as a judge.

You can also check out all seven dessert recipes from the previous competition too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


The Lunar New Year celebrations are coming soon, and many of us are already planning reunion dinners. A little bit of cash sure would be welcome for those feasts! And that's what Dian Xiao Er (店小二) is giving out! The Grand Reunion (大团圆) Contest on their Facebook page is a fun and easy game where you can host virtual tables and invite friends to join them.

Here's how it works:
1. You can start and host as many tables as you want, inviting 9 people to each table.
2. You can join as many tables as you like, provided they are by different hosts.
Each filled table (all 10 seats filled) qualifies the host for the S$888 Grand Prize, and the members for the S$88 cash prize. Everyone also gets a chance to win weekly prizes. Double win!
3. And yes, gotta "Like" the Dian Xiao Er Facebook page to qualify too.

There are three kinds of tables:
- Public: anyone can join
- Friends: any of your Facebook friends can join
- Invitation only: only those specifically invited can join

Prizes

Grand Prize:
One lucky qualified table will be randomly selected at the end of the contest.
1 x $888 Cash for the host
9 x $88 Cash for each person who joined the table

Most Popular Host:
The host who has the most number of qualified tables wins.
1 x $388 Cash for the host

Weekly Lucky Prizes:
Each week five lucky fans who joined the contest will be randomly picked.
5 x $68 Dian Xiao Er vouchers each week, runs for 3 weeks



This contest ends 9 February 2013 at 11:59 pm (Singapore time). Entries shall be deemed to be received at the time of receipt by Dian Xiao Er and not at the time of transmission by the participant.

Good luck playing and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Saturday, January 12, 2013



We received a nice surprise hamper yesterday (thanks to Tai Sun!) - a lovely traditional Chinese woven basket filled to the brim with glorious nuts, cookies and goodies. Yes, Chinese New Year will be here before you know it!

It looks like there are some new varieties out for the festive season - Macadamia and Cashew Mix (luxurious!), Baked Cashews and Cranberries (nice!).

I was also just about to stock up on more dried nuts and fruit (I love their healthy Nature's Wonders range) for the kids' school snacks, so this is also pretty timely.

However, I doubt this lot is going to make it to CNY; we've already finished the Wasabi Peanut Mix and Honey Roasted Almonds. Yum yum, dangerously addictive! Will just have to buy more!

Friday, January 11, 2013


"Hey I saw Nadine and Jolie on TV!"

So my friends told me last week. It was a "On The Red Dot" segment on Singaporeans and their love for hawker food. They interviewed me, and the kids were the "ke le fe" or extras for the eating shots. I missed the first airing on Channel 5, but saw it on Channel News Asia (CNA) last Saturday. Our part is about a quarter into the show. This episode discusses what makes us uniquely Singaporean and they also featured Catherine Lim talking about Singlish!

Our love of food seems to be one defining characteristic of Singaporeans. It's not just food bloggers who take photos of food; almost every other person these days will whip out their phone to take and upload a shot of their meal before they tuck in. We take pride in knowing where to find good food, and we keep hunting for new gems.

Someone cynically said that our obsession with food is one reason why we don't do well in sports. I disagree. I mean, look at China. They love food too, but churn out so many athletes! Hahaha. But do you think the Singapore's obsession verges on the unhealthy? We didn't discuss this on the program but it would be interesting to see what people think.

On The Red Dot is a series on trends, issues and policies that matter to Singaporeans. It is telecast every Wednesday, at 9pm on Channel 5 and on Saturday, at 10.30pm on Channel NewsAsia.

Anyway, I should really do better at collecting my own press coverage and mentions. Usually someone else or a reader points out to me that they saw me in the papers or some magazine. And I still don't clip it. Ah well, all is transient in life.

There's another food documentary on CNA coming up though, also with "guest appearances" by Nadine and Jolie. Probably next month. I'll try and keep a lookout for it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Hi guys, how's 2013 treating you so far? I'm liking it already! Lots of change and new routines. While there were many wonderful memories and experiences in 2012, it was also a year of upheaval and I really wanted to see it go.

So this new year, I have many things I want to make happen - including trying more new dishes and recipes at home. I may not have nice photos, but I'll plonk them down here anyway.

We started new year's day with a gumbo (that rain-filled eve made me feel like a warm stew). I remember the simple one at Ruth's Chris, and I also wanted to use my new Dutch oven for braising.

So I picked out Paula Deen's recipe; actually I think this might be the first recipe I've tried from her (although have glanced at her southern fried chicken recipe some years back). I have to say it's a pretty good one; everyone liked it from adults to kids. A keeper!

Here's the recipe with my own changes/comments in brackets.

INGREDIENTS
3 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves (I only used two as my pot was not big enough)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I had to make do with garlic sausage, but works fine)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons margarine (no way, it's butter or bust!)
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
4 cups hot water
5 beef bouillon cubes
1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
2 cups frozen sliced okra (I used fresh)
4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked

DIRECTIONS
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove. Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of margarine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.

Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons margarine. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups hot water and bouillon cubes, whisking constantly. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving add the green onions, shrimp and chopped parsley.
 
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