Walnut Mooncakes

I baked up a new batch of these yesterday for mom, since I was meeting her for dinner. I like the way the crust crumbles when you bite into it, the fragrance of the lotus seed paste mixed with the walnuts and salted egg yolk. The good part about baking them on your own is that I can be indulgent with the amount of walnuts I add. Mom was commenting that the walnut pieces were huge. You’d never find them in store bought ones. Here are some photos! (Photoshop is down so there are no captions, for now.)

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For those that were asking, here’s the recipe. It’s taken from here, another baker’s food blog but I’ve made a few slight changes to the filling to suit my own taste.

Ingredients:
360g Plain flour
25g Custard Powder
1/2 tsp Sodium Bicarbonate
50g Icing sugar
50g Shortening
220g Butter (salted)
1 egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
1/2 tsp Ammonium Bicarbonate
1 Egg + 1 tbsp water (for glazing)
Walnut for decoration

Filling:
1 kg White Lotus Paste
6 salted egg yolks (each cut into 6-8 pieces)

Method:
1. Cream sugar, shortening, butter, vanilla flavour and ammonium together until slightly white. (slow speed first then change to high speed)
2. Gradually add in egg.
3. Lastly add in sifted flour, custard powder and sodium bicarbonate to knead into a dough. (don’t mix too long) Leave dough in fridge overnight.
4. Steam egg yolks for about 5 minutes. Cut each yolk into 6 – 8 pieces, depending on the size of the yolk.
5. Take out dough from fridge and divide into portions of 20 gm each.
6. Divide fillings into about 25 gm each.
7. Make a dent in each ball of filling and place a piece of egg yolk in it.
8. Wrap fillings into dough and decorate with walnut.
9. Apply egg wash and bake at 160ºC for 10 mins. Take it out and leave it for about 10 mins and apply egg wash again. Bake for another 15 -20 mins.

Dinner at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant

We had a visitor from New Zealand and so decided that an introductory trip to the Singaporean’s favourite dish – Chilli Crab was in due. A friend suggested Jumbo seafood restaurant so off we went. We patronised the branch at Dempsey, seeing this as a wonderful opportunity to introduce this part of Singapore to our guest as well.

Personally, I’ve never been to Jumbo, and so was taken aback to see so many customers that weekday night. Indeed, the restaurant was packed! My hopes at finding good food that night was elevated. We went for a set dinner package for 4 people, so that we could try a variety of things. We were not disappointed. Here are some of the dishes we ordered.

jumboThe mixed platter, featuring seasoned jelly fish, braised duck with cucumber and mango salad, seafood rolls and fried special beancurd was a good start to our meal. The jelly fish was tangy and spicy, whetting our appetite.

jumboNext up, steamed drunken prawns. They were so sweet and succulent! Absolutely lovely.

jumboWe had to have some vegetables for a balanced meal and this was surprisingly good. A common dish, but nicely done.

jumboThe chilli crab was the highlight of our dinner. It was the very reason why we were even there in the first place! The crab was fresh, succulent and sweet. The chilli gravy really complemented the crabs well. Served with fried and steamed mantou buns, these were really fulfilling.

Location: Jumbo Seafood, Blk 11 Dempsey Road #01-16

Berries Meringue Baskets

I had loads of left over eggwhite that I was saving to make macarons. I never found the time to make them and figured that using them for meringue was so much faster, and simpler. I served my meringue basket with freshly whipped cream and some blueberries and strawberries. You can use whatever fruit you desire.

meringue basketRecipe:

3 egg whites
175g caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 tsp corn flour
300 ml whipping cream, whipped
Blueberries and strawberries

Method:

  1. Whisk egg whites at high speed till dry.
  2. Add in half the sugar slowly, while whisking.
  3. Carefully fold in the vinegar, corn flour and remaining half of the sugar.
  4. Fill a large piping bag with the meringue.
  5. Prepare a tray lined with baking paper.
  6. Pipe out a spiral base, then pipe circles around it to build a nest.
  7. Bake at 120°C for 40 minutes to an hour.
  8. If you do not want the meringue to brown, block out the top heating element with another tray.
  9. Remove from tray. Allow it to cool and fill with whipping cream and fresh fruit.
  10. Serve immediately.

Salmon En Croute

I had to attend a course last Monday and mom was coming over for dinner in the evening. There wasn’t much time to prepare an elaborate meal, and so I thought that this would be perfect, seeing that mom enjoys salmon. I used ready made puff pastry in this case. It simply is not worth the effort to make your own puff pastry, I think. Perhaps if I had alot of extra time at my disposal, I just might be crazy enough to try it one day. Till then, I think Pampas is good enough.

For this dish, I added some mushrooms for extra flavour. If you do not like mushrooms, or would like to do without the hassle, you can omit them. I served my salmon en croute with some salad by the side.

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Recipe (serves 4):

750g salmon fillet, boneless
400g puff pastry block
300g asparagus
150g brown swiss mushrooms, diced
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 small sprig of thyme
3 tbsp freshly chopped dill
zest of one lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg, beaten (for glazing)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 230°C.
  2. Melt butter in a small frying pan. Add chopped onions and fry till translucent.
  3. Add thyme and diced mushrooms. Fry over medium fire till mushrooms are soft, and the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the thyme sprig. Set aside.
  5. Remove the bottom 1/3 of the asparagus stalks.
  6. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water till soft. Upon removal from boiling water, place them in cold water immediately.
  7. Using a blender, or food processor, puree the asparagus stalks. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water.
  8. Add whipping cream, chopped dill and lemon zest to the puree. Blend and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Remove the skin of the salmon. Prepare the salmon by cutting it into 4 equal parts. Season both sides of the fillet with salt and pepper.
  10. Roll out the puff pastry and separate it into 8 sections.
  11. On one rectangular piece of puff pastry, place one portion of mushrooms in the centre, topped by the salmon fillet and finally the asparagus puree.
  12. Place another piece of puff pastry over this, and seal the sides by pressing down on it.
  13. Repeat for the other 3 servings.
  14. Brush with eggwash and place it on a tray lined with baking paper.
  15. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top of the pastry is golden brown.

Italian Dinner at Valentino’s

Ristorante Da Valentino serves authentic Italian Cuisine. The restaurant is run by an Italian family and they’re good at it. Very good at it. It is one of those fairly cosy establishments that makes you leave with not just a warmth in your stomach, but also a warmth in your heart. Of the couple of times I have been there, the service has always been impeccable. One of my friends, M, absolutely goes gaga over the food whenever we go there. Here’s an idea of the things we like to order.

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This mozzarella cheese is an absolute favourite among us. It is different from the usual Caprese that most Italian restaurants serve. This is hand braided buffalo mozzarella, freshly imported from Naples, Italy. The taste is fantastic, if you are a cheese fan, of course.

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This antipasti is very appetising and really whets your appetite. The vongole is fresh, sweet and succulent. The white wine tomato sauce complements the vongole totally.

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This is one of our house favourites. The squid ink crab meat pasta. I don’t recall a time at the restaurant when this was not one of our orders. If you enjoy seafood pasta, you have got to try this. The handmade squid ink pasta retains some resistance when you bite into it. Flavoured by the chunky crab meat in a tomato based seafood sauce, the taste is heavenly. Enough said.

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This was one of their specials of the day and so we decided to try it. The pasta tasted typical, but the meatballs were really good.

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How can we forget their wood fired pizzas? This one has a thin and crisp crust. The fillings were rich but accompanied with the rucola and freshly shaved parmesan, the taste was delightful. J had many slices of this.

Check out the restaurant at 11 Jalan Bingka, Mayfair Park.

Almost Perfect Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins may seem simple to bake, but it is not easy to get a really tasty one. They sometimes end up too dense, too floury, or just…. not right. After trying and adapting a couple of recipes from books, I finally stumbled upon what I think, is the best blueberry muffin recipe I’ve come across to date. The muffins are slightly crumbly, just the right density, crisp top, buttery flavour and chock full of blueberries. Perfect for breakfast and tea.

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Almost Perfect Blueberry Muffins
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 7 ounces sugar
  • 2 ounces butter, melted
  • 10 ounces sour cream
  • 8 ounces fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat an oven to 275 degrees celsius. Grease a muffin tray or use muffin paper cups.
  2. Sift flour with baking powder. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl till combined.
  3. Whisk egg in a second bowl till light coloured, about 20 seconds. Add sugar and whisk vigorously till thick and homogenous, about 30 sec.
  4. Add melted butter in two additions, whisking to combine after each addition.
  5. Add sour cream in two additions, whisking just to combine.
  6. Add blueberries to the flour mixture and toss to combine.
  7. Add sour cream mixture to flour mixture and fold with a spatula till the batter comes together.
  8. Make sure blueberries are evenly distributed. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick.
  9. /4 fill each muffin cup with batter.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Notes
Adapted from "The New Best Recipe"

 

Introducing… Pane’s Pizza

J and I decided to try out the new pizzeria – Pane’s Pizza, near our house today. He went down to buy some while I prepared some soup for us. I wasn’t expecting much from a neighbourhood pizzeria actually; I was just looking to fill my hungry tummy. J came back rather excitedly, however, and started to rave about the pizzeria (before we even started eating). He spoke of how they used top quality ingredients, such as mozarella cheese and parma ham imported from Italy. In fact, the staff shaved the leg of parma ham in front of him. He bought a 10-inch pizza – Pane’s Pizza, their specialty for $17. It was basically fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil and Italian Parma ham topped on a tomato based crust. The crust was thin and slightly crispy, unlike the bready ones that most pizzerias here serve. We really enjoyed it.

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J also bought a small rectangular slice of Pepperoni pizza to try. That too, was delicious. The pepperoni and cheese was topped over a flavourful tomato based crust. The crust was more crispy that the earlier pizza that we tried.

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Address: Blk 164 Bukit Batok Street 11, #01-152 (Near the market, beside Guardian Pharmacy)