東京: Tokyo round-up

Am back from our winter holidays and I feel even more tired after the break.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not being ungrateful for while I do enjoy being away from work for the past week or so, but the body has also taken ‘a beating’ with the amount of food and drink throughout the entire trip with the gang (this time round, 22 of us in total).

Ditched the camera back home and went with photos taken on the iPhone.  Quality may not be of the best, but it’s good enough.  Here are some random shots to remember the trip by:

IMG_6264We arrived into Tokyo at about 11pm and after checking-in the hotel, all I could think of was sleep.  The Man, on the other hand, could only think of Ichiran Ramen.  So we piled on the layers and took a slow walk in the cool winter breeze to our favourite ramen joint.

IMG_6268Figured since we made it all the way there, I might as well indulge in a bowl of ramen noodles (sans oil in my bowl of soup).

IMG_6269Look who’s the happy camper here!  If you are interested to find out more about Ichiran Ramen, check out the posts that I’ve written previously.

IMG_6274Undeniably my favourite place to go pick up beauty products in Tokyo.  This store was close to where we lived in Roppongi.  The best part?  It was still open at midnight!!  🙂

IMG_6279A new brand that I’ve come to discover with cool products.  The only thing that’s stopping me from acquiring them?  The price point.  Pretty ex IMO.  And guess what?  For once, I didn’t really feel like shopping much in Tokyo.  Shock much?  Yeah, I’m shocked as well.  ;0

IMG_6278Pint-sized servings of coffee or matcha latte only available in Starbucks Tokyo!

IMG_6394And we took onsen to a whole new level when we smuggled our own cups and Umeshu into the hot springs. ;p  Yup, crazy Singaporeans on-the-loose in Hakuba.

We did also squeeze in some time to check out a couple of restaurants (which explains for the food coma and how I need to lose more weight after this trip).  Reviews on those to come soon.  🙂

Can burgers be healthy?

Well, yes, if you make them yourself. 🙂

I was in the mood for some home-made burgers but wanted a twist in my previous recipe.   So I surfed around and realised that I could substitute the Panko (Japanese bread-crumbs) in my recipe with tofu.  And the best part?  You won’t even know the difference.

If you like to give this recipe a try, click here and follow the steps.  Just omit the Panko and the milk if you are using tofu.  As for the type of tofu to use, I would recommend that you use the firm type of tofu and drain the moisture out of the tofu with paper-towels before throwing it into the meat mixture and mashing them up to form the hamburger patties. 🙂

An easy and wholesome dinner idea served alongside rice or in our case, a soup and potato gratin for a full meal.

 

An evening of indulgence @ home

Weekends should be made of these.. more indulgence at home.  Lucky us got invited to a friend’s do and boy, was the host generous!

We got treated to some really fine wines on top of the amazing food that he whipped up.  🙂

And my contribution to this small dinner-do?  A spinach dip that I had just learned from another friend.

This Spinach dip is really pretty simple to do as well.  All I did was to get chopped frozen spinach, drain the excess water from the spinach and pop in 1.5 cups of low-fat sour cream.  Add about 1 teaspoon of chicken essence powder, mix well, add pepper to taste and viola – it’s done!  It really is that quick and easy.

 

Third time’s a charm at ODP

The Style Princess was back in Singers for her Summer vacay and the intern who first got to know her in Geneva during his vacation wanted to meet up with her, so a get-together was in order.  I had to organise the outing of course, becos I had to ask Style Princess’s momma for permission to take the girlie out.   Being the chaperone for this gathering also meant I was responsible for bringing her back to the door-step after dinner.

The intern and I were involved in a volunteering event which was close to Tiong Bahru, so I suggested dinner at ODP purely for convenience plus it does make for a pretty cool hang-out for the 16 yo gal who’s not been to this part of the town yet.  Thank goodness, she liked it and thought it was a trendy place for the cool kids to hang out.  Hehe.

Couldn’t risk being turned away if we just showed up at ODP unannounced on a Friday evening, so made reservations way in advance.  Yes, I don’t exactly like messing up with the dinner plans unnecessarily (especially if it’s on a weekend and the hip places are usually packed) and if it takes just one phone-call or web-booking to secure a table at a restaurant, then I’ll do it.  I hate having to scramble and find another restaurant if I can help it. Ordered a couple of starters to share:  (Top right to bottom left) papaduck papadum with crusted duck fillets & mint yoghurt dip / flamed tuna carpaccio with radish and yuzu salad and crispy chicken wings with curry, yoghurt and cucumber salad.  Unfortunately, my fave steak tartare with truffle mayo and potato chips was not available for the day.  I was sorely disappointed for that’s the one dish that I really liked and had wanted the Style Princess to have a taste of it.  She’s a steak tartare fan plus truffle fan too.  I was quite certain that she would enjoy this dish.  Of the three starters, I particularly enjoyed the papaduck papadum.  My dining companions thought it was like deep-fried chicken strips.  But I thought the duck strips coated with crushed papadum were simply delish.  Couldn’t stop at one actually.

For the mains, we shared the wild mushroom risotto with truffle crumbs and the smoked pork belly with roast pumpkin walnuts and grapes.  Both of these dishes weren’t new; I had them before.  But somehow this time round, I thought they tasted even better than before.  Is it even possible?  The dishes keep getting better with each visit?  Hmm..

This time round, there’s finally room for dessert!  So we ordered two to share and even got the kitchen to put a birthday candle for one of the desserts.  We were celebrating the Style Princess’s sweet 16!  The chocolate and pistachio souffle, creme anglaise dessert was passable.  The very slight of pistachio souffle only came through when you stared hard at the colouring which clearly could be mistaken as pandan souffle.  The ice-cream ‘why just sunday’ was the fairer choice, loved the chocolate cake and honeycomb bits in these deconstructed sundae.

We didn’t stay very long for we were only given 2 hours for the table but it was sufficient for a couple of good laughs with my possibly youngest group of friends.  Gee, now I feel really OLD!

 

Penang Food Trail

Gosh, I can’t even recall when was the last time I’ve been to Penang. Mummy, if you are reading this, do you recall the details?

Anyway, it’s been ages since the Man and I have been to Penang, so when Doree asked if we wanted to join him and a couple of friends for a food feast weekend getaway, we didn’t need much convincing to say yes.

So join us on our little weekend getaway as we eat to our hearts’ content and unveil (hopefully) the best of Penang food.

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Our adventure started with our flight to Penang being a little delayed but after dumping our luggage at the hotel, we drove down to Gurney Drive and wasted no time in filling our tummies with the local street fare.

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Fascinated with the small crowd gathering at this Lok Lok stall, we decided to join in the fun and eat our food off sticks after dipping it into the boiling water to have them cooked first.

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This stick of cockles may look gross to some,but it seriously is one of my favourite ‘fear factor’ type of foods. Doree and I had two sticks each while the Man steered clear of this.

Next up, we walked around and the ‘all things fried’ stall caught the eye of the boys, so they proceeded to order a serving of fried chicken drumstick, fried chicken skin and fried tofu. I hardly even touch chicken skin because I’m put off by how crazy sinful a tiny piece of this is. But the Man stuffed a piece in my mouth and it tasted so darn good that I almost couldn’t stop myself to having more. Sigh, why do all things fried taste so good?

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That’s not all, after putting our initial cravings to ease, we found ourselves a table and the boys set off on a quest to bring more food to the table. Minutes later, our table was filled with tiny plates of famed Penang hawker fare from Fried Oysters, Penang Char Kway Teow, Penang Laksa to Grilled Sting-Ray.

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It’s no wonder we felt stuffed after this late night supper feast! But I’m certainly looking forward to more of the crazy eating with friends over the weekend.

The eating continues so stay tuned!

Keep calm and eat cake..

Yes, keeping cool is needed while making chiffon cakes.  That plus making sure you read the instructions and kinda memorise them before making the cake helps as well.  This was my second attempt in making the cake.  The first ended up tragically (ie: it was flat)!  I was too eager to remove the cake from the tin and that was my ‘downfall’.  The cake went from almost fab to flat within seconds.  After the failed baking incident, I was obviously upset with myself so I began to re-read the recipe again.  Turned out I was supposed to invert the cake tin immediately after taking it out from the oven and then let the cake cool before attempting to remove it.  *face palm*  Arh well, lesson learned and thankfully, cake number 2 turned out almost perfect!  Phew!

Presenting my very first Yuzu Chiffon Cake.  Yes, Yuzu!  As you know I’m crazy about all things Yuzu.  So with some Marigold Peel Fresh Yuzu Juice and a teensy weensy bit of Yuzu concentrate left, I decided to whip up a light chiffon cake celebrating my love for Yuzu!  🙂

Taste test?  It was really, really good!  I believe this might just be a breakfast staple on our table at the loft in time to come.  Looks like I gotta stock up on more bottles of Yuzu concentrate then.  Hehe.

Yuzu Chiffon Cake (Recipe adapted from Happy Home Baking)

Ingredient A:
(makes one 18cm cake)

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 90ml of Marigold Peel Fresh Yuzu Juice
  • 10ml of Yuzu Juice concentrate
  • 40ml vegetable oil
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Ingredient B:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Sieve flour, baking powder together, set aside.
  2. Separate egg yolks/whites and bring to room temperature. (It is easier to separate eggs when they are cold.)
  3. Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl, add in sugar, and with an electric whisk on low speed, whisk till the mixture becomes very sticky and turn pale.
  4. Drizzle in the oil, whisking at the same time till the mixture is well combined. Repeat the same with the Yuzu mixture. Sieve over the flour mixture and using a manual whisk this time, whisk until flour mixture is fully incorporated into the batter.
  5. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Beat in the sugar in 3 separate additions on high speed until just before stiff peaks form.
  6. Add the beaten egg white into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula until just blended.
  7. Pour batter into a 18cm (7 inch) tube pan (do not grease the pan).
  8. Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter.
  9. Bake in pre-heated convention oven at 170 degC for about 40mins or until the cake surface turns golden brown.  Instead of using a skewer, E from missus C’s reverie taught me to press the top of the cake lightly.  If the cake bounces back (ie: springly), then you know it’s done.
  10. I thought this step was really important!  Remove from the oven and invert the pan immediately. Let cool completely before unmould. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan and the center core. Release the cake and run the knife along the base of the pan to remove the cake.

And if you love anything with Yuzu in it, why don’t you give this recipe a try?

Personally, I think it’s just the kind of cake that helps to keep me calm so that I have more energy to shop on!  😉

 

Chasing those blues..

Whipped this batch of macarons for pals and realised they looked like blue treats for Smurfs instead of humans.  Kinda exotic but fun I guess and that put a smile on my face.

When friends saw these gems, they kinda squealed too.  Blue macarons?  Who makes blue macarons?  Well, me I guess.  Just wanted something fun in every bite.

Hazelnut Macarons with Black Truffle & White Chocolate Ganache
Makes about 14-16 filled bite-sized macarons

For Macaron Batter

  • 1 egg white (preferably aged for 3 days) brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar powder
  • 38g icing sugar
  • 36g powdered almonds
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of gel-based blue colouring
  • 1 tbsp powdered hazelnuts (for topping)

Method:

  1. Line baking tray with 2 pieces of parchment paper.
  2. Sift powdered sugar with the almond powder to ensure that there are no lumps.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add cream of tartar and beat the egg white until they begin to foam. At this stage, add granulated sugar gradually.  Continue beating until very stiff and firm. When you invert the bowl, the egg white batter has to stay put. That’s the time you know when you should stop.  I decided to play it safe and whisked the egg white batter for about 5 minutes before stiff peaks were formed.  Add colouring.  Continue to beat the egg whites on high for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in 3 batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula (ideally).  Stop folding when the mixture is smooth and there are no streaks of egg white.  Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far. [Note: Sometimes I use up to about 40 strokes in order to achieve this consistency.]
  5. Scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
  6. Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch circles, evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
  7. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons and to remove the air-bubbles in the macarons.
  8. Leave the macarons out in the open for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This step is important to allow the top of the macaron shell to dry up so that you get a smooth surface for the macarons.  You will know when to pop the macarons into the oven when you touch the macarons and the batter does not stick to your fingers. Be careful not to leave them out too much for it will give you crunchy macarons and you don’t want that. This step is important and if you skip it, your macarons might flatten .  While waiting, preheat oven to 140 degrees C.
  9. Bake for 15 mins and let cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

For Black Truffle & White Chocolate Ganache:

  • 70g White chocolate
  • 40ml double cream
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoon chopped black truffles (I used dried black truffles)

  1. Hydrate dried black truffles by placing them in the cream overnight.
  2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling.
  3. Pour the cream over the white chocolate and leave to stand for two minutes. This will give the chocolate time to soften.
  4. Stir the ganache until smooth. If the white chocolate has not yet melted then place the bowl in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds. Remove and stir until smooth.
  5. Leave the white chocolate ganache to cool until it reaches the desired consistency.
  6. Refrigerate ganache till it sets to a pipe-able state and fill/spoon over the cooled macaron shells.

Assembling macarons:

  1. Spread the black truffle white chocolate ganache on the macaron shell.
  2. Sandwich and you are done!

It’s recommended that you let the flavours sit inside the macaron for 1 day before having them.

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I’ve been busy in the kitchen… Click here to check out my baking adventures in Geneva.