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Discovering Green Caviar with Meal Belly

We all know how important healthy eating is.

But we all also know, that healthy eating isn’t always the most feasible. For one or more of these reasons: not readily available, pricey, troublesome, or simply not being convenient or tasty enough.

Meal Belly intends to try change all of that, starting with one super ingredient! Founded in September 2016, Meal Belly is an online retailer specialising in gourmet ingredients and pioneers its flagship product, Green Caviar, through its e-commerce platform, www.mealbelly.com. They’re the first to launch Green Caviar, so you no longer have to travel overseas to have a taste of this product.

Most people in Singapore probably have never heard of this particular type of seaweed before, because it’s so uncommon over here. But here’s sharing some fun facts about Green Caviar:

  • Caulerpa lentillifera is the scientific name, and it’s a species of bryopsidale green algae from coastal regions in the Indo-Pacific
  • It’s also commonly known as Sea Grapes or Green Caviar, or Umibudo in Japanese
  • Effortless and convenient for everyday meals
  • Only 4 calories per 100 grams
  • Can be eaten on its own as a snack, with a dipping sauce, or as a side dish / garnish
  • It can only be readily purchased on www.mealbelly.com in Singapore, and will be delivered in 1-2 working days to your doorstep!
  • Safe for consumption for kids, expecting and breastfeeding mums in moderation – it also has high contents of iodine, which is ideal for them!

Considering there are so many benefits to this super seaweed, I was really interested in trying to incorporate this ingredient in my everyday meals, so here’s a super quick and easy recipe to share with you guys!

Cold Udon with Green Caviar

Ingredients: (serves 1)
1 serve of udon
30ml of udon sauce
150ml cold water
slivers of Japanese wakame
10g of cubed cold tofu
Meal Belly’s Green Caviar
garnish with cherry tomato / furikake

Directions:

  1. Rinse Green Caviar in water for 10 seconds, then soak in ice cold water for 3 minutes, before draining water and setting aside
  2. Blanch 1 serving of udon in hot water for 3 minutes, then run under cold water until cool to the touch, set aside
  3. Soak dried out Japanese wakame in water for a few minutes until fully rehydrated
  4. Combine udon sauce, cold water, cooked udon, tofu, wakame and top off with Green Caviar, then serve cold! Done in 5 minutes.

So preparing Meal Belly’s green caviar is completely fuss-free and idiot-proof, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is.

They come packed in little sachets of 20g such as these, and also in 100g & 200g. They’re sealed fresh and they really do still smell of the sea!

The texture is rather mushy and doesn’t look like much in this state. But just wait a few minutes and watch this seaweed spring back into life before your very eyes!

After rinsing, I dunked it in a cup of ice cold water for a few minutes.. then I saw the seaweed getting plumper and grow in size, which was really fun to witness!!!

After just 3 short minutes, this is what you’ll end up with.

A whole bunch of fresh Green Caviar! They do resemble sea grapes, huh? I find them strangely adorable!!!!

Don’t soak them in water for longer than a few minutes, because they’ll lose the crunch and texture, then return to the mushy state it was in before. It is advisable to rinse and soak them thoroughly so that they’re not too salty – they’re packed freshly in oxygenated water, so a good rinse will help reduce the sodium content before your immediate consumption.

I chose this cold udon recipe to pair with Green Caviar because I wanted to keep in line with the whole fuss-free, healthy eating theme.

Also, because Green Caviar is famed as an Okinawa delicacy, I had to pay tribute to Japanese cuisine. I really enjoy cold dishes because it’s so refreshing to have them in Singapore’s sweltering heat! I really enjoy Green Caviar’s crunchy texture and versatile nature, and can see myself including this as a topping to many different dishes. Salads, pastas, side sishes, and even soups!

It tastes like seaweed – slightly of the sea, slightly salty, but mild enough to accompany any type of sauce you soak it in. I think it’ll be pretty  delicious in something tangy and spicy. I’ll try it with Thai sweet chilli next!

What are its health benefits?

A tasty and affordable superfood, Green Caviar packs a nutritional punch. Here are some of the benefits of the vitamin and minerals that it contains.

  • Vitamin A: Helps to maintain a healthy eyesight and promotes skin regeneration for better skin.
  • Vitamin C: Strengthens the immune system, prevents stroke, cardiovascular and other diseases.
  • Calcium: Keeps bones strong, which prevents onset of osteoporosis.Iodine: Prevents thyroid disease, which can lead to dry skin, constipation, weight gain, fatigue and other symptoms.
  • Potassium: Helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure, maintain bone density, and prevent cardiovascular disease.

When I attended an event to learn more about Meal Belly’s Green Caviar, they served it up in a poke bowl, which is a Hawaiian concept for raw fish salad!

As you can see, Green Caviar is commonly associated with other healthy foods because of its highly nutritional contents.

Personally I think this is a great ingredient to have in my cabinets at home, because it’s so unique – I can bet that whoever I prepare this for will ask, “What is this?!” and it’s a sure conversation-starter! I feel it would go particularly well with canapes, something I love doing for events and house parties.

Green Caviar stores for at least 8 months in your fridge while sealed tightly in its original packaging, so you don’t have to worry about its shelf life either. you don’t have to worry about its shelf life either.

Due to the rise of superfood and healthy eating among consumers, the farming of green caviar has spread from Okinawa to other Asian countries, such as South Vietnam where it’s farmed and then harvested by hand for your enjoyment.

Meal Belly is the only store stocking this product now, so hit up their website to stock your kitchen with this unique superfood! Enjoy up to $16 off from now till end January.

Enter “Shibertyxmb” to receive additional 10% off!

xoxo,
Jess

Dining at Rochester Mall

I admit to not having explored the West side of Singapore very much as I have mostly stayed in the East and North most of my life, but I took a day off to explore Rochester Mall recently, and was surprised to find some hidden gems to dine at!

Rochester mall is located next to Buona Vista MRT, which makes it easily accessible even if you don’t drive.

It’s a family orientated mall, with enrichment classes for the kids, ifestyle services such as massages, nail, hair, fitness classes to keep the adults engaged, and my favorite feature of the mall has to be their abundance of alfresco dining options!

Our first pit stop of the day – DW Workshop, a newly opened place that’s been running for less than a month when we visited.

DW Workshop is a wonderful new concept destination that allows you to attend fun workshops (think arts and craft, DIY, even cooking classes) and get really good grub + nail the perfect Instagram shot at the same time!

Just look at the aesthetics of this place. It’s a design HEAVEN. Every corner of DW Workshop is so Instagrammable, it makes photo-taking here a real breeze, what with the natural sunlight spilling in through the large windows and reflecting off their white walls.

It’s like I walked into a Kinfolk book, guys! And that open kitchen…. urghhh. My heart. Talk about #houseinteriorgoals!

They’ve customized many of their furniture pieces here, to achieve this magazine home look.

The second level, where the workshops are mainly held.

You can learn how to DIY your own lamp or paper jewelry from scratch here! How cool is that? Obviously they understand that industrial / boho chic is all the rage right now.

They even have fascinating knick knacks for sale, curated stuff they’ve brought in themselves from all over the world.. including this watch that aids visually impaired or blind people to read the time by using braille. The little ball is magnetic and automatically goes back to the proper time whenever you shake your wrist!

Before trying out their lunch menu, we decided to check out their coffee because DW Workshop proudly brews different types of coffee that will totally be up your hipster alley!

Stovetop Brewed Italian Coffee

They’re also the first in Singapore to bring in Poursteady – a robotic machine that creates reliable, perfectly executed pour over coffee each and every cup! How high tech is this?!

Coffee, tea or me?

The espresso was fragrant and extremely strong. If you like your coffee with some kick.. you’d really enjoy this. I took it down better with some milk and sugar!

We were introduced to the menu and concept of DW Workshop by Edalin, who kindly brought us around the premises and was all too happy to patiently explain their meticulous detailing to us. Was glad that we came on a weekend, because their Weekend Brunch menu looked amazing!!!

We wanted to order everythingggg.

Lovely cold pressed juices, my pick was Cloudy Apple.

AND THIS.

My crab eggs benedict croissant hybrid that comes with a super flakey, crispy buttery croissant, sandwiching a crabmeat salad and two poached eggs covered in hollaidanse sauce…

BASICALLY BRUNCH PERFECTION.

I kid you not. This was one of my favorite dishes I’ve ever had for brunch! So refreshingly delicious!

Looking at this photo is inducing major cravings right now. Whoever thought up this simple but effective combination – genius.

The rest of the world should catch on and create more croissant-benedict hybrids.

Our other main, the Beef Bourguignon was also great.

Slow cooked with balsamic vinegar for many hours, it even comes with dark chocolate shavings and bread to soak up all of that wonderful thick sauce!

Our entire table spread of food at DW Workshop. I loved how they use quality ingredients and that the menu wasn’t overly complicated of fancy. Straight up good food that’s executed well, to comfort your soul.

D and I sat on the couch for hours (that’s where we dined, they’ll give you a wooden board to put on your lap), just idly chatting and enjoying our afternoon at this cosy little new find..

We’re gonna be sad when it starts getting more crowded because it’s so undiscovered at the moment, we were able to spend an entire Sunday afternoon basking in its quiet tranquility!

When we were done with our mains, Edalin walked over to surprise us with desserts on the house. Such lovely hospitality. We really enjoyed the Matcha Tart and Carrot Cake, thank you very much!!!

If you’re looking for a date night sorta place, PastAmore may be what you’re looking for, located right next to DW Workshop!

Their alfresco set up is totally appropriate for dinner dates in the evening, while their indoor seating area is cosy and unpretentious, suitable for families and friends alike!

Parma ham with buffalo mozzarella. I love Parma ham!

Carbonara with bacon, a must-order for me every time I visit an Italian restaurant

Bolognese spaghetti

And my favorite – Seafood risotto!

This was delicious, both creamy and tomato-ey at the same time, with a nice robust seafood flavor in the simmered rice.

I could eat pasta for life! So difficult to choose between cream or tomato base. Think I love both variations equally. *heart shape eye emoji*

Didn’t have space for dessert in my belly left, but here’s some eye candy and his cuppa latte ;)

Our final pit stop at Rochester Mall concluded our gastronomic adventure at SwissBake!

I’m sure Swissbake needs no further introduction, they’ve been around for a long time and have been serving yummy pastries in different parts of Singapore!

If you’re looking to stop somewhere for a quick tea break or a short meeting, this would be an ideal place to grab some pastries and some sandwiches.

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing breads and pastries at Swissbake!

We had their Peach Yogurt drink, tuna sandwich, palmier, croissants and banana roll. By the end of it, we were so extremely stuffed! that we had to take the tuna sandwich home. Still tasted good after keeping it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

The next time you’re in the West and looking for dining options to explore, why not check out Rochester Mall? They’ve got a whole lot more to offer, waiting for you to discover! DW Workshop is a definite must visit by my books!

xoxo,
Jess

Discovering Shiberty Bakes with Olympus Pen F

In the blink of an eye, I have been the owner of a dessert cafe for close to 3 months now.

Where does the time go?! It feels like just yesterday that I was searching for a suitable place to rent, running around like a headless chicken, trying to get everything sorted out, and now, Shiberty Bakes has been serving up yummy desserts 6 days out of a week… And what a CRAZZYYYY roller coaster ride it’s been!!!

I have learned so much about life and business through these few short months, and I have much more to discover. I’m a real rookie in this industry, so every baby step is considered a huge learning curve for me! Everything from learning how to deal with suppliers, customers, staff, coming up with new dishes, perfecting the recipe and execution… these things have been responsible for keeping me up at night, and making me a better, stronger person. Didn’t realize till now, how even the simplest of things can be extremely difficult to accomplish yourself.

I have never slept or lived the same way ever since starting this business, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else. Owning a humble little space I can call my own that serves up yummy food has always been a dream of sorts for me, and I’m glad I have the opportunity to try this out before I hit 24!

From the very beginning, I made it a point to document this life-changing F&B start up experience with my latest photography toy – the highly raved about Olympus PEN-F!

So for those of you who haven’t been to Shiberty Bakes before, let me introduce you to my café with a little help from the Olympus PEN-F!

 

The kitchen, in the beginning. It has now been converted into a war zone and looks like this but 10x messier X)

Blank space by Taylor Swift comes into mind when I look at these photos of before the cafe got filled up with furniture, and everything else! So much room for possibility and creativity. When I see a blank slate, I don’t think of emptiness, but I see potential.

Let’s take a little tour and see what Shiberty Bakes looks like now together, shall we?

The above photos are all taken with the Vintage filter, which is in built, and my personal favorite filter because it makes my cafe look like a bakery that popped up from the 1950′s!

One of the unique points about the PEN-F is that it has a creative dial located on the front of the body of the camera, and features 4 different filters – Monochrome, Colour Profile, Colour Creator, and Art Filter! This makes it especially convenient and useful for people who are not too fond or well versed at Photoshop or have no time to edit their photos, yet want to achieve a dramatic mood with their pictures.

Some Before & After examples of what you can achieve with the filters - I love how the same image can look so different, with a simple twist of a dial! These are all unedited photos.


Featuring Light Tone filter


Featuring Vintage filter. Don’t you just adore our tongue-in-cheek personalized calligraphy quotes?!


Featuring Pin Hole filter


Featuring Colour Profile. I love how this mode makes the colours pop!


Featuring Monochrome. This mode makes a relatively ordinary filter look very nostalgic and evokes more emotions than in color, for sure!

Featuring Colour Creator

And y’know, because I’m the owner of a kick ass dessert cafe, you’re about to be treated to a visual array of absolutely decadent desserts, proudly taken with the Olympus PEN-F.

Don’t worry, these sweets don’t cost you any calories when you’re only looking at them through a computer screen. If you’d like to get your hands on some of these, though, you know where to find us!!

You don’t have to do much work to get good photos when the PEN-F is so powerful and the photography subjects this colorful and delicious-looking!

Our opening month’s special – Fairy Floss toast! With Fairy Floss that looks like unicorn hair, cotton candy and vanilla ice cream

Salted egg yolk macaron

Chocolate Baileys cake, which was a popular flavor until we removed it from our menu!

Matcha and Red Velvet macarons

Buttermilk Waffles! With sea salt and vanilla ice cream, drizzled with maple syrup. Would you look at the ridiculous amount of berries we lovingly pile onto every plate?!

Customizing fresh floral cakes is our forte.

Blackcurrant Blueberry (aka Ribena) cake, we were surprised to have a local celebrity walk in and ask for this for her birthday celebration!

Charcoal Waffles! These waffles will stay crispy throughout your entire stay here, we promise!

Customized cupcakes for Twitter’s office in SG :)

That time I helped a friend deliver this cake and flowers (whom I also ordered for him) to his girlfriend..

Matcha toast

Rocher toast!

It’s quite amusing how different our toasts look now, as compared to these Beta 101 versions you see above. We’ve only been open a couple of months but have made drastic changes and tons of amendments to our menu, recipes and general operations! Everyday, we are striving to serve our customers better. And I admit, we have a long way to go still, and we humbly ask for everyone’s support and kind understanding.

There’s always something to be improved on, and something that can be done better. I would like to thank everyone, from my followers, to my friends and even complete strangers who have enjoyed our desserts from the bottom of my heart for showing their support to Shiberty Bakes since our opening, this wouldn’t have been possible without you guys! Hope to see more of you at the cafe soon!

Shiberty Bakes is located at 46 Owen Road #01-277 s210046 and we are open Tuesday – Sunday, and Public Holidays, from 1pm to 10pm (9:30pm last order).  

Call us at 6291 5221, or drop your orders at orders@shibertybakes.com if you want anything you see here for a special occasion! We still do cater dessert tables and customized cakes for weddings, birthday parties and other events, by the way!

Shout out also goes to Olympus for always producing amazing cameras, such as the PEN-F, allowing me to capture these memories and photos so well. :)

xoxo,
Jess

Recipe: Ham & Cheese Waffle with Perfect Italiano

You know what I find to be a popular food trend nowadays?

Food hybrids. You know, combining two things into one new brilliant creation that’s been hardly attempted before. Like cronuts. It’s a very novel idea, and usually fun to experiment around with.

I always keep Perfect Italiano cheeses stocked in my fridge, because cheese is just one of those ingredients that’s simple enough to cook with yet complex enough to add to any dish to bring about a brand new dimension of flavors. And Perfect Italiano does just that – it is Singapore’s number one cooking cheese that adds simple Italian flair to everyday family meals, making your home cooked meals that much more exciting.

I was plating some Buttermilk Waffles in my dessert cafe the other day, when I thought to myself… look at how beautifully crisp these golden things are. And what a pity they’re only being used for dessert-related dishes. They’re so glorious, they should be used in savory food also. Then it just dawned upon me. Why not make a Ham & Cheese Waffle, since you know… I have a waffle machine, and Perfect Italiano cheese in the fridge.. Not a bad idea at all. You don’t need a professional machine for this, waffle machines that are meant for home usage are fine too!

Ham & Cheese Waffle

Ingredients:

Waffle Mix (makes 6 waffles, adjust accordingly, adapted from credit source)
2 eggs
2 cups (256g) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (595g) milk
1/2 cup (109g) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (12.5g) white sugar
4 teaspoons (18.4g) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1.5g) salt
1/2 teaspoon (2g) vanilla extract

Toppings
handful of cut up pieces of chicken or pork ham
half cup (50g) of Perfect Italiano Mozzarella cheese
sprinkling (5g) of Perfect Italiano Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle iron
  2. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy
  3. Beat in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, just until smooth
  4. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray
  5. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron
  6. Cook until golden brown
  7. Top off with half cup of Perfect Italiano Mozzarella cheese, sprinkling of Perfect Italiano Parmesan cheese and handful of ham
  8. Finish off by baking in the oven for 3 minutes at 180 degrees

The end result… is pretty genius.

It tastes just like a breakfast waffle, thanks to the ham and sweetness from the waffle itself! I can see myself making this over and over again.

Probably with tomato sauce and bacon next time, to amp it up more, or even fry up some sausages and lay them on top. Or perhaps some crispy fried chicken and a drizzle of maple syrup? Mmmmm.

Perfect Italiano Mozzarella Cheese has a mild flavour that melts beautifully and stretches to perfection, their Parmesan Cheese has that sharp and savoury taste which packs a nice flavourful punch! Mixing them together creates the best oomph of flavourful stretchiness. Double Mmmmm.

I spread some tomato sauce on the side of the plate for a bit of zing, which lifted the overall taste. I didn’t spread tomato sauce all over the waffle, because I thought it would be too similar to a pizza then!

The waffle retains its fluffy and crispy bite while the two different blends of oozy Perfect Italiano cheese made it super delectable! Although I just made some this morning, I feel like I could go for some again right now.

That’s how addictive this is. Cue hearts in eyes emoji. Savory waffles are SO underrated. I think adding garlic/onion powder (or other spices / seasoning you prefer) to the waffle mix itself and reducing the sugar would be a great variation as well! Depends how sweet you like it. I like that the waffle itself is still sweet because it contrasts with the salted cheese and ham.

Gone within a few bites. Few things in the world bring me as much satisfaction as melted mozzarella on my food, especially if it’s from Perfect Italiano.

There is so many more yummy talk about cheeses and home cooked food on the Perfect Italiano’s website. Check them out if you need a little inspiration to spice up your cooking or just some inspirations for the next meal! Perfect Italiano is available in leading supermarkets.

Don’t forget to hashtag #PerfectItalianoSG when you use their cheese in your homecooked food and post photos on social media!

xoxo,
Jess

Ribena Cordial – Blueberry Blackcurrant Cake recipe

When thinking about local childhood drinks, the name Ribena surely comes to mind.

This deep purple / reddish cordial has been a household name in Singapore ever since I could remember. Their signature bright purple colored packet drinks were a favorite of mine when I was in primary school! And it seems like not much has changed about the people’s love for Ribena throughout the years. It’s still a popular beverage, especially with the kids.

What’s not to like about it?

Ribena is a cordial made from 100% blackcurrants from New Zealand and contains no artificial sweeteners, flavorings or colors! Rich in Vitamin C, a 200ml glass of Ribena drink provides a child’s daily Vitamin C requirements.

Everyone already knows the most fuss-free way to enjoy Ribena – pour some cordial and water into a glass, then stir, and drink up!

But because I own a spiffy little dessert cafe… I can’t possibly just stop there, can I? Experimenting with new flavor combinations and plating of food happens to be one of my favorite hobbies!

As part of our daily Seasonal Cake offerings that are sold at Shiberty Bakes by the slice, I decided to come up with a Blueberry Blackcurrant cake inspired by and made with Ribena!

I love the pretty purple ombre effect and the simple but effective finishing touches on the cake. Can’t help but dab a little bit of gold on everything I touch these days!

To our usual sponge cake and buttercream recipe, I added blueberries and Ribena cordial! The end result is tasty and rather subtle in taste. It won’t taste overly-Ribena-ish as I’d initially expected! I think this would be a great cake to make for Mother’s Day, and for any Ribena lover.

If you added raspberries in the middle cream layer, I reckon it would be even more delicious! To achieve the ombre purple effect, just make different shades of purple, ranging from light to dark, and always start from the bottom (dark) part first, and work your way up!

Blueberry Blackcurrant Cake

Plain Sponge Cake (base recipe source)

Ingredients:

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 225g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 200 grams blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / gas mark 4
  2. Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl
  3. Mix all of the ingredients using a electric whisk, then add blueberries into batter and gently stir
  4. Pour the mixture into 2 non-stick 7 inch tins
  5. Place them in the oven till golden brown 15-25 minutes
  6. Cool on a wire rack before serving

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (base recipe source)

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons of Ribena cordial

Directions:

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar into a metal bowl and stir vigorously over a bain marie.
  2. Transfer the heated egg whites and sugar to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer
  3. Mix at high speed until they have reached their maximum volume / stiff peaks
  4. Mix on medium speed while pinching off small pieces of butter and throwing them in
  5. Mix in 8 tablespoons of Ribena cordial
  6. The buttercream may look like it is breaking down, but keep on mixing and it will come back together

And there you have yourself a deliciously fluffy and tempting Blueberry Blackcurrant Cake! Just look at that color!!! To achieve this deep purple in the frosting, you will need violet food colouring.

To relive my childhood memories, I made my own sparkling Ribena drink a tad bit more sophisticated by just adding 3/4 cup soda water to 1/4 cup Ribena cordial, and some cut up fruits to go along with.

The sweetness of the cordial can be adjusted simply by adjusting the amount to suit your own preferences! I suppose the kids would like it slightly sweeter, while adults may prefer to cut down on the sweetness.

Just as I was done frosting the cake and making the drink at my cafe, my awesome friend Geraldine spontaneously walked in, so I made her share the yummy treats with me!

She was all too happy, of course. She’s the sweetest thing ever!!!

Good things are made great by sharing them with someone you love! Who will you make these Ribena treats for?
Ribena is having a promotion now, for every 1L of Cordial drink bought, you will receive a free jug to make awesome concoctions at home with!

xoxo,
Jess
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