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It’s Not Immoral to Pimp Your Pancakes

We thought it would be weird. We went ‘EWWWWWWW’ when we caught wind of how the Americans love doing it. Well, we thought wrong, when my morning-sickness-ed-out palette couldn’t get enough of it at a diner in New York City.

And then, Nassim Hill Bakery & Bistro does a superb waffle version, which karate-chops-no-shadow-kicks my brains out so much that even though I don’t have a waffle-maker, I settled for making this instead.

201311 Pimp Your Pancakes

THIS. Warm, tender, fluffy, incredibly light buttermilk pancakes, topped with generous slivers of crispy smoked bacon, tart blueberries and a good drizzle of maple syrup.

Shame on you if you still think that pimping your pancakes is immoral.

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

Burgers, Just For Me

201310 M's burger 1

I love burgers. Well, I didn’t used to give two hoots about them until I started dating M; I fell deeper in love with him when he made me a Grilled Mushroom Swiss burger. Embarrassing, and very telling of my gluttony nature, but heck, it is a true story.

201310 M's burger 2

Our relationship obviously blossomed after THAT burger (I mean, how could it not?!); then, we got married in 2009 and M whisked me off to New York City for our honeymoon. I became very well-acquainted with the juicy, succulent burgers from Shake Shack and never looked back. Unfortunately, I was pregnant when we visited NYC again in late 2011 and boy, did morning sickness (more like, all-day sickness) do me in! M had gone out to get some burgers for us to nom on but I could barely take a bite. I was absolutely gutted because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to return to the States for a Shack anytime soon.

I refused to have any burgers after that, as I was certain that none could match up. I sulked in my damn-I-want-my-Shake-Shack-burger-NOW corner when I learnt that the burger joint has opened in a branch in London (my second home) AFTER I moved back to Singapore. But the gods were kind and heard my cries because Omakase Burger showed up on the island; I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I sunk my teeth into the uber moist burgers, which are not unlike the ones from Shake Shack. They are rather expensive though, as the burgs are annoyingly small for my huge appetite.

201310 M's burger 3

A few weeks ago, M and I were vegging out in front of the telly, letting our guts hang out after a rather unpleasant dinner while we sought solace in a food documentary on (you guessed it) burgers. M kinda came out of the documentary with a spookily crazed look and declared that he was going to NAIL THAT DAMN BURGER. And I kinda did a WWF-flex-mah-muscles thing and growled YESSSSS.

That’s how this burger came about. Incredibly juicy in spite of using lean minced beef, slathered with gooey cheese, fresh tomatoes and lettuce, topped with crispy bacon, and smothered in homemade aioli. NOW, THAT’S WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT.

Sigh. I love my husband. I think you do too, huh? Excuse me, while I go bat my eyelashes at him for a burger.

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

The Luckiest Girls In The World

201310 Pa Can Cook 1

If you have been sticking around here long enough, you would have read that my husband is an avid cook, and you would have learnt that he inspires me to be more competent in the kitchen (which is partly how and why this blog was started in the first place).  If you have had the good fortune of coming round to our place for a home-cooked meal (and I’m not being boastful, merely telling the truth, YO), then you would KNOW that my husband IS brilliant. I put on weight when we were living in London because he made sure I ate well, and to do that, he made sure he cooked well. After all, even though I am a much better baker than a cook, I have very, very discerning taste buds.

201310 Pa Can Cook 2

For the past year though, M has been insanely busy at work and this means that he hasn’t been able to cook often, and man, do I miss the grub he makes! I was so delighted when his annual leave came around recently, and the doting husband cooked to MY heart’s content. I even put on a few kilos…testament to his cooking skills, no? But as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one enjoying his presence at home (and in the kitchen). Faith took on a very discerning palette a few months earlier, and she loves exciting flavours (exciting for a baby, that is). We abstain from giving her foods with sugar and salt when eating at home and try to make healthier choices when we are eating out (because she eats off our plates), and M has done a wonderful job in feeding her well. Take this lasagne for example, it is bursting with flavour, even though he hasn’t seasoned it at all. I was so impressed, that I stole more than a few bites whenever we heated this up for Faith’s lunches.

The girl lapped it all up with glee, of course. What’s not to like? Good food PLUS an awesome cook for a father. She is the luckiest girl in the world. And so am I.

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

Oh, All That Glitters! On Her First

I didn’t know what to gift Faith with on her first birthday. She is a very blessed child who has plenty to eat, wear and play with, thanks to family and friends who love her so. It didn’t make sense for me to get her more toys, clothes and what-not, and so I decided to create some memories for her instead, starting with the below.

We hosted a lunch to thank family and friends who have been so generous, kind, helpful and loving to us. We couldn’t have survived the first year without them (you know who you are!) and we are deeply thankful to have them in our lives.

Faith wouldn’t remember any of how we went through the first year and we wanted her to grow up, looking at the photos and listening to our first-hand accounts of how our family and friends helped us. That is why M and I splurged on a photographer, J (the talent behind Freeze The Moments); we hoped for someone to capture precious moments and relationships that would otherwise be lost on the unobservant eye. I don’t think I can do J’s work justice with words alone; I reckon I should leave it to you to have a look at the photos and all I can say is, we are absolutely pleased with what he has done for us and we highly recommend him.

I was dying to dive back into some creative work as well, and was delighted to be able to put a dessert table together for Faith. It was wonderful to finally sketch my ideas and breathe life into them. I’d dare say this was a pretty good attempt, seeing as to how it is my second dessert table *annoyinglysmugface*. It was tough though, to DIY and take care of Faith full-time; I took quite a while to design and craft the different elements, often working into the wee hours after Faith had gone to sleep. I don’t know how stylists do this for a living and I have nothing but respect for them! I had help of course, from the vendors who supplied the two-tier lemon buttercake with vanilla buttercream, chocolate pecan cookies, strawberry tarts, cheesecake, cream puffs, iced gems, and rose and mint macarons. I did entertain the crazy idea of making the desserts and pastries on my own like I did with my first dessert table, but I knew I would crumble under all that pressure. I always wanted to make Faith her first cake though, and settled on baking her a 4-inch smash cake (a refined-sugar-free buttercake with cream cheese frosting topped with her favourite blueberries) instead. Faith was also very blessed to have received two tissue pom-poms (one cream and one pastel pink, both attached to the chalkboard easel in some of the photos below) that I have chosen from Most Wonderfully Made, an online store that stocks the prettiest party supplies! The sponsored pom-poms were so well-made, as compared to the ones I DIY-ed (those on the backdrop of dessert table), that I wished I had gotten all of them (which are very affordable, by the way) from the store; I would have spared myself from all the agony of tidying the pleats up! I’m putting in a mental note to stock up on party supplies for the next party I plan!

Alright, I think I have yakked enough about the party. I leave you…with our memories.

P/S: Photos of our guests are not posted here as I would like to protect their privacy.

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A Family-Friendly Meal: Corn & Bacon Fritters with Guacamole

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I know, I know. I have been awful with posting recipes over here. We haven’t been cooking very many exciting dishes, and so I have been rather uninspired in writing down our recipes. Besides, M is the whizz in the kitchen and he NEVER works with recipes (which is annoying because YOUR WIFE RUNS A FOOD BLOG YO!), if he even has the time to whip something up. He likes to say that he cooks with his heart and judging by what I have been fed with, I’d say that he is dammmnnnn right because the man I love is still cooking his way to MY heart!

But this week, being the less talented half, I redeem myself in the kitchen with a family-friendly and downright delicious meal. Corn & Bacon Fritters with Guacamole, anyone? It’s too easy to prepare and versatile enough to experiment with for your tasting pleasures. I was really delighted to have contributed this recipe as a guest writer over at A Dollop Of Me, a beautiful family blog run by one of the most inspiring mothers I know, Corsage. I love to read her musings on parenting and life, which often have me nodding at every word she says, and for the foodies in you, she writes a series, Kitchen Exploits, which is such a joy to follow! Grab your cookies, brew a nice cuppa and hop on over now for a satisfying read!

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

Macarons: Just Because

201307 Macarons 1

201307 Macarons 2

I miss making macarons, watching feet form, photographing them, and kicking back with a cup of tea. But only in London…for that’s where my love affair with them first started. Nothing comes quite as close where I am right now. But the memories of the sights, smells, and tastes will do. For now.

 

Balls…BALLS?!

We were lounging around in the living room, watching Heston Blumenthal work his magic on some very delightful feasts on the telly. Fans of Heston would know his penchant for creating dining experiences that are out of this world. In this particular episode, he demonstrated the creation of the meatfruit, a meat-based dish made to look like a fruit, something which I thoroughly enjoyed during M’s birthday celebration at Heston’s restaurant in London, Dinner.

Heston (on telly): To make a meatfruit, we are going to use…THIS. *holds up a bull’s neatly severed testicle whilst looking supremely smug* I am going to use a bull’s plum to make a plum.

He proceeded to squeeze the living daylights out of the testicle, and emptied its contents into a bowl of whatever.

Me: Whutttt…?! Did he just…? *mind overworking at this point, hoping that the bowl of whatever was meant to be tossed into the bin, not for consumption*

Heston mashed up the bits (pun so very intended) in the bowl and started fashioning a rather realistic-looking plum out of it.

Me (hysterical): OH-EM-GEE OH-EM-GEE, YOU MEAN I ATE BALLS AT HIS RESTAURANT? YOU MEAN I ATE BALLS?! *whimpers* But it was so good…YOU MEAN I ATE BALLS?!

M (stifling his maniacal laughter): Yah you did!

Me (all dramatic whilst pulling my hair and dragging my hands down my face): NONONONO. It can’t be! I am pretty sure it was chicken liver parfait that was stuffed inside the meatfruit. NOT BALLS! It can’t be balls…right??? WHAT THE…..

M was shaking violently with stifled laughter at this point and I was pretty traumatised.

Heston then held up a meatfruit that looks like a mandarin, just like the one I ate at Dinner, and promptly announced that it was made of chicken liver parfait.

Me (total outburst): SEEEEEEEEE!!! I TOLD YOU IT WAS CHICKEN LIVER PARFAIT! *slaps M on his back repeatedly, who was still shaking with laughter*

Moral of the story for me: It wasn’t balls that I ate.

Moral of the story for M: Please don’t mess with my head again. It was very traumatising.

Moral of the story for you: Marvel at the number of times I mentioned ‘balls’.

 

 

 

 

 

Happily Ever After

Forty years of marriage, three kids and two grandchildren. Ladies and gentlemen, there IS a Happily Ever After.

What better way to celebrate than with some homemade cake?

201306 Strawberry & Lychee shortcake 1

201306 Strawberry & Lychee shortcake 2

201306 Strawberry & Lychee shortcake 3

Strawberry & Lychee Shortcake with a cake topper that I made (both of which need to be worked on for better results)

201306 Strawberry & Lychee shortcake 4

Thank you, Papa and Mama, for teaching us how to love. Happy Ruby Wedding Anniversary to you two lovebirds!

Check out what I have been baking in my kitchen.

Thou Shalt Love Pie

201305 Beef Pie 2

I am not a fantastic cook. I would say I am a decent one but I lack the intuition, guts and creativity that my husband has. That is the reason why he looks way more convincing with the chef’s hat on while I look sexier brandishing…an egg whisk.

But there are a few dishes that M would trust me to cook. One of these is the beef pie, which is a full-bodied, savoury beef stew topped with a flaky, buttery puff pastry beret in our household.

201305 Beef Pie 1

Don’t get me wrong. M breathes life into beef stews! But he now snubs frozen ready-to-roll puff pastry for the one I make ever since I fed him with homemade no-fry chicken curry puffs and beautifully flaky Portuguese egg tarts. So naturally, the task of making beef pies has fallen into my hands.

There was much to be excited about as I hadn’t made puff pastry in a looooong time (my last attempt was made in London); I was hoping to nail it in the tropical heat but of course, I had to cheat with air-conditioning. I was also particularly keen on breaking in some of our very cute Le Creuset mini cocottes. I mean, puff pastry berets on colourful mini cocottes?! Wouldn’t YOU hyperventilate at the thought of that, too?

I spent all day in the kitchen to make these pies. It was back-breaking work but I was delighted to see my husband happily tuck into the pies. You see, he always does it with dramatic flair, by hitting the puff pastry beret ever so gently with a spoon to reveals most satisfying ‘crack!’ that hints at its flakiness, before letting a wide grin of approval spread across his face and digging deep into the pot for liquid gold. It is strangely satisfying to watch. Now, your turn.


201305 Beef Pie 3

Beef stew

Makes one 8-inch and two 4-inch (diameter) pots of stew

1kg stewing beef tenderised and cut into 2cm by 2cm by 2cm cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1.5cm by 1.5cm by 1.5cm cubes
7 sticks celery stalks, leaves removed and cut into 1.5cm by 1.5cm by 1.5cm cubes
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5cm by 1.5cm by 1.5cm cubes
450g portobello mushrooms, sliced thickly
Few sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
600ml beef stock
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Hot water on standby to add to stew

1. Preheat oven to 170 Celsius.

2. Add olive oil to Dutch oven over medium high heat and sear beef cubes. Once golden brown, remove beef from Dutch oven and set aside.

3. Lower to medium heat and add onions and garlic to Dutch oven. Fry for 10min until onions are soft and very lightly browned.

4. Add carrots, celery, potatoes and cook for 5min. Add mushrooms and rosemary, give it a quick stir and then add the beef. Pour in the hot beef stock and add balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in plain flour to thicken gravy.

5. Place Dutch oven into preheated oven, with lid on and leave the stew in there for 1.5 hours. Give it a stir every half hour and top up with some hot water if gravy dries up too much. Always add the water such that the liquid barely covers the ingredients in the stew. Cook for a further 1.5 hours or until beef is tender and bring Dutch oven out onto the stove to further simmer (with lid off) if you would like a thicker gravy. For pies, I would suggest a very thick gravy so that the pies don’t turn out too wet.

6. Spoon out some stew into ovenproof pots or baking dish, and cover the top with the uncooked puff pastry. Make sure that puff pastry isn’t directly in contact with the stew as the pastry will be wet and soggy. Bake at 210 Celsius for 20-25 minutes till pastry is puffed up and golden. Serve with salad or your favourite sides.

Puff pastry

Makes one 8-inch and two 4-inch (diameter) pie berets

250g unsalted butter, very cold, sliced to 2cm by 2cm by 2cm cubes
250g strong white bread flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
125ml ice-cold water
1 egg, beaten for egg wash

1. Freeze butter cubes for half an hour.

2. Pulse butter, flour and salt in food processor for one second. Mix things up in the processor and pulse again. Do this for a few times till mixture is combined and resembles rough cornmeal.

3. Add water and pulse briefly till water is just incorporated. This will not form a ball of dough just yet and will still resemble rough cornmeal.

4. Turn out mixture onto lightly floured work surface, bring mixture together with lightly-floured hands to form a cylinder.

5. Roll cylinder out to form a rectangle with the shorter end facing you. It should look like a letter to you. Fold the dough as you would a business letter (into thirds). Rotate 90 degrees anti-clockwise such that the shorter end is facing you again and flip the dough such that the folded seams are facing downwards. Roll dough out again to a rectangle. Freeze between layers of baking parchment for 15-30min. Repeat such that you roll and fold for a total of four times each. Only very lightly dust work surface and rolling pin when the dough is sticky, although I would avoid this as much as possible.

6. The final rolled-out dough should be fairly elastic, smooth and about 4mm thick. Cut out desired shapes, apply a light layer of egg wash with a pastry brush, place pastry on top of cocottes/baking dish that are already filled with cooked stew and bake at 210 degree Celsius for 20-25 minutes till pastry berets are puffed up and golden brown.

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.


About The Author
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Read about my food-gasmic adventures in San Sebastian here! Also please come by and check out the prettiest cake I've made over here!
Macarons: Be Inspired
Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cookies
Rose & Lychee Chiffon Cake
Pan-seared scallops, jamon iberico chip, pomme puree, jamon iberico foam and chestnut
Red Velvet Cake
An English-themed Dessert Table
Chocolate & Hazelnut Salted Caramel Cake
Gula Melaka Salted Caramel Buttercream Macarons
The Ispahan Cake
The Ispahan
Sunflower Seed Macarons with Black Truffle Salted White Chocolate Ganache
Lemon Cupcakes with Lime & Ginger Whipped Cream
Portuguese Egg Tarts
Ba Zhang - Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Braised Pork Belly
The Fat Duck
Strawberry and Cream Pancakes
Pandan Souffle Roll with Toasted Coconut Whipped Cream
Red Velvet Cake
Lychee and Emperor's Seven Treasures tea-infused macarons
M's Spanish Paella
M's birthday cake - Japanese Cheesecake with Rose Whipped Cream
Lor Bak Gou - Fried Radish Cake
Pandan Chiffon Cake
Homemade Scones
Marmite & Coffee Pork Chops
Quick and Easy fried rice recipe!
Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons
Pumpkin & Chocolate Brownies with Cream Cheese Swirls
Matcha, Milo and Plain Polvorons
Kampar Chicken Biscuits - A popular Malaysian snack
White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies
Hustling the Xiao Long Bao in my kitchen
Bailey's & Coffee Macarons

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© Rachel Tan and The Pleasure Monger, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material on this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rachel Tan and The Pleasure Monger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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