29 December 2008

Singapore wet markets

December in this part of Southeast Asia is usually gloomy with pregnant clouds hung heavily on one's head. Yet, it couldn't stop me from checking out local wet markets throughout Singapore. Each time, the riots of color, texture and shape shooed away the gloom.

Wet market is my favorite destination whenever I am in this part of the world. It reveals to me the secret of local cuisine (on a trip to a local wet market in Manado I figured out the nine herbs that make the base of North Sulawesi dishes) and tells me the important ingredients for everyday livelihood of the locals (apparently, small dried shrimps are essential for dishes in Singapore. I wonder what they are for. Laksa??).

But most of all, the promise of local fare after a visual feast is the biggest incentive of long walks in these wet markets.

To me, wet markets evoke fond memories of similar trips with my mother in my younger years. Where we lived, the ubiquity of "kangkung" signaled how it was an important vegetable for the population (the dish is known as "Pelecing Kangkung"). My patience in accompanying my mother doing her weekly chore was always rewarded with snacks or "kuih-muih" (see picture above as examples of the kind of "kuih-muih" I would get) and yellow rice with its accompaniments (deer sweetmeat, boiled egg and pieces of chicken in chili sauce known as "Pelecing Ayam"), folded in banana leaves. But perhaps for a Singaporean youngster, they'll get biryani rice such as the following picture.

What strikes me about Singapore's wet markets is the freshness and diversity of vegetables, seafood and poultry on offer. I wish we had similar fresh seafood here where I live....

* in this trip, I visited Westcoast Rd wet market (nearby Lin's apartment), Victoria whole sale market (next to Bugis Junction MRT stop), Little India, and Geylang Serai wet market (next to Paya Lebar MRT stop). My favorite spot is the Geylang Serai, mostly because all the food in the foodcourt is halal.

28 December 2008

Nigella's Nutella Cake

I made this for Eid last October. It is from Nigella Lawson’s The Domestic Goddess. For Nutella fans I would highly recommend giving this recipe a try. A whole jar of nutella went into this! Lovely! Here is a link to the recipe: http://www.nigella.com/recipe/recipe_detail.aspx?rid=239

25 December 2008

Strawberry Cream Pie

In an effort to keep cool this summer and to eat proportionally, I prepared no-bake desserts in ramekins. One such recipe is the Strawberry Cream Pie which originally appeared in Domino's Magazine. I made the recipe for two.

2 lbs. fresh strawberries (about 4 pints), tops removed, plus 4 strawberries, reserved

1 ¼ cups whole milk

¾ cup sugar

5 tbsp. cornstarch

3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

2 ½ cups graham-cracker crumbs

10 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp. confectioners' sugar

Place 2 pounds strawberries in a blender and blend on high until pureed, about 10 seconds (do in two batches if necessary). Combine milk, sugar and cornstarch in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and whisk until dissolved. Add the strawberry puree and lemon juice. Cook on high heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture is thick and bubbling (about 7 minutes); remove from heat. Place graham-cracker crumbs in a 10" x 1 ½"-deep pie plate, drizzle with melted butter and mix until all the crumbs are moistened. With the back of a spoon, press evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate to form a crust. Pour strawberry filling into crust and let cool completely (about 30 minutes). Cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, place heavy cream in a mixing bowl and, with an electric mixer, blend on high until stiff peaks form. Add confectioners' sugar and blend another 10 seconds. Using a spatula, spread the whipped cream over the filling. Slice reserved strawberries, add to top and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

Romancing the Scone *

My first blog entry does not have Milo or Nutella as its main ingredient, but it certainly can go well with a big dollop of Nutella slathered on it and a mug of Milo on the side. Though of course, more traditionally it goes hand in hand with a cuppa tea and some jam and cream. So here it is, a lingering colonial legacy that we do enjoy; the good ‘ol tea scones. I thought it appropriate too to start with this recipe as it had made its way to a many Forestry school potlucks (where the authors of this blog met) and seemed to continue to have a following.

This recipe is adapted from the King Arthur’s cookbook. I was house-sitting at Julie’s in New Haven and came upon this recipe. I often made scones at home in Malaysia but usually with butter. As I am a big fan of sour cream and the recipe looked so simple, I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did. The first time I made it, I still remember…it was rainy outside and I decided to have some friends over for tea time. Warm scones on a rainy day; it was lovely. The scones were just perfect to have along side some Earl Grey tea. My favorite way of eating this is with whipped cream (or clotted cream) and strawberry preserves. I also have to put a vote in for melty nutella with sliced fresh strawberries.

I think the thing about scones is that like Milo and Nutella, there are all about comfort. They are the kind of food that you can embrace and it embraces you back. A food hug! Seems silly I guess to think of a big giant scone giving one a hug. But I think that is the essence of comfort food. You can exhale, drop in a chair, and just sit back and relax, catch up with friends and enjoy the food (or the beverage) and most of all, the moment.

So here it is, my debut recipe on this blog, an old favorite, the Sour Cream Scones. I dedicate this to my lovely ladies (Jo, Shim and Upik) whom I have enjoyed many a tea-time with. Here's to many more!

Recipe: Sour Cream Scones
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ cups sugar
1 cup sour cream

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt into a bowl. Add sugar and mix well. Add sour cream and mix until it forms a dough (the dough should be slightly sticky but manageable). Add a couple more tablespoons of flour if it is too wet. With well floured hands, divide the dough into three balls (if you prefer larger scones, divide the dough into two). Sprinkle some flour over the dough and pat each ball of dough into a round disc of about 1.5 inch thickness. Cut each disc into 4 wedges with a sharp knife (dip knife in some flour first so it won’t stick to the dough). Place on baking tray, bake in oven preheated at 220 C or 450 F for about 10-12 minutes. Enjoy while warm.

* I totally borrowed this cheesy title from an article I saw online.

20 December 2008

Welcome to Milo & Nutella

Welcome to Milo & Nutella, a collaborative food blog written by far-flung foodies and former forestry school gal pals.