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I belong in the kitchen

So you might have read my blog post about My Love For Cooking back in April 2012.

Here’s some of the frantic cooking I’ve been getting up to, since then. It’s so therapeutic… I feel like I’m in my natural environment when I’m in the kitchen these days. You know.. when men say women belong in the kitchen, I can’t help but feel there’s some truth behind it. Bahahaha. I love baking and cooking

Not saying that it’s all a woman should be good for, but rather… isn’t it a valuable trait to have as a woman? Kinda like how us ladies expect guys to be handy around the house, and with a computer (well I do at least) I’d definitely think somewhat less of him if he couldn’t even fix minor technical difficulties. Anyhoo, home cooked food galore incoming!!! Some of these dishes were cooked some time ago, and are in no chronological order…

And no, I don’t eat like this everyday, in case you’re wondering. Some times I just have an apple and some grapes for dinner, but when I cook I like to make it fancy. :)

Let’s start off with some egg porn. Every one I know loves eggs. This is my version of eggs benedict! If you lightly fry the egg with no oil on a good non stick pan, it’s just as runny and soft as a poached egg.. and a lot less trouble. Bacon slices + a slice of cranberry toast instead of english muffins, because I like the subtle sweet kick it gives.

However, since I’ve been trying to eat healthier….

I’ve since substituted my bread and 2 slices of bacon for just 1 slice and eggs, hollandaise sauce + salad with cherry tomatoes. *face palm* Eliminate the carbs.

I honestly think dieting is harder than breaking up with my ex-boyfriend, who was once my everything. At least with a relationship it’s just Hello and Goodbye, with a diet it’s the most torturous on and off ferocious battle of trying to not get fat but being seduced by food every single day.

Rib eye steak…. herbed butter… red skin potato salad. ♥

When I’m too lazy to go out and get my Marche crepe fix, I make my own.

Something fishy is going on here!

Salmon roe on salmon mentaiko on grilled salmon fillet with dill. Salmon is my favorite fish!!! Sidetrack: Overcooked salmon is one of my pet peeves. I don’t like any overcooked food but I get really annoyed when it’s salmon. How can you possibly screw up such a simple and perfect fish that needs minimal seasoning???

Peri peri chicken (I love my Happycall grill pan! It’s so versatile) with potato wedge-fries (lol it’s like a cross between both)

Home made wedges / fries with sour cream and sweet chilli…. BOMB!!! I’m sick of all the pre packeted fries and wedges served outside.

Calamari rings, boiled eggs, croutons, mesclun salad, tomatoes, glass noodles, italian dressing. I love me a good salad bowl.

More cranberry toast + roasted capsicum spread, topped off with either egg mayo and honey baked ham or egg mayo and smoked salmon! You’ll soon come to realize I have a few favorite ingredients that I use repetitively in my cooking… namely cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, capsicums, bacon and salmon.

I don’t normally cook Chinese, so if I do, it usually means my mum is in town and back from her travels and Chinese is her preferred type of food :)

Unfortunately Chinese food don’t always make good photography subjects! In the above is eggplants & minced pork in black bean sweet sauce, salted egg prawns and samsui chicken.

Speaking of samsui chicken (is this the proper name for this dish?) I love the one from Soup Restaurant and managed to create something quite similar! The sweet ginger sauce is soooo addictive. Because it’s all boiled with minimal seasoning it’s pretty healthy as well. Sam loves this!

I’d really rather eat Western any other day. Beef meatballs, garlicky broccoli and cheesy potato gratin. Best effin’ potato gratin ever might I add.

Offered to cook up a mussels feast for the fam one night, and we polished off what must have been 4kg worth of mussels… O_O

One is a slightly spicy tomatoey sauce, and the other one is creamy garlic. Mussels with cooking wine based sauces and garlic bread to dip with = you can’t go wrong!!

Jesus… this is so sinful…. just looking at it makes me feel like I’ve gained 500 calories. BUT IT IS SO GOOD.

Mentaiko pasta with bacon slices and pan fried fat scallops. YUM.

Every time I post up an oily food picture I must make up for it with a salad pic next after. LOL.

This is grilled black pepper chicken, red onion, cherry tomatoes (evident in 70% of my dishes), baby romaine salad in home made italian dressing

Mushroom soup full of awesome portobello mushroom bits!!!! :D

I love cooking soup, even though it takes a relatively long time, it’s very fuss free (and cheap lolol). Cook your ingredients till soft, add seasoning and stock and water, then blend. (or skip the blending option of it’s asian soup!)

Sam hates what he calls “rat tail noodles” but I love mee tai mak. Or is it bee tai mak?!

Stir fried with mushrooms, spicy sambal black bean sauce, minced meat, topped with spring onions and chicken floss!

A long-time-no-see friend came over impromptu one day and requested for bolognese pasta, so this was what I whipped up!

Can’t believe I used to have roasted potatoes for brunch…. carbohydrates are like a luxury for me these days. I won’t waste it on just roasted potatoes, lol. Pasta is higher up on my priority list.

More rib eye steaks bought from this place called Mmmm! (with 4 M’s I believe) They sell all sorts of seasoning, different types of meat and it’s the closest place to home I can get quality meat at.

Accompanied by onion rings and spinach.

The inside of ma steakkk… this is how pink I like it!!!

Mushroom risotto with truffle salt and bacon pieces. Risotto is such a pain in the ass to cook. I’ll take pasta any day!

Feeling cheapo and weight conscious one day, I threw vegetables in a pot and minimal pasta and made minestrone soup. The perfect dinner for when you don’t feel like eating very much at night.

Kong ba paoooooooo!!!! O_O Very easy to make but I’m an extremely impatient person and hate slow cooking recipes. Slaving over a stove for 3 hours, monitoring the fire, adding water when it dries up….

Buttery garlicky prawns and smoked salmon atop a summer salad.

Sam said to me one day, “I like capsicums.”

So, I went nuts and bought a whole bunch of baby capsicums then stuffed basil + feta cheese + random ingredients filling in it.. turned out pretty good!!! They were baked, the puddle of oil in the center piece is just olive oil and oil from the cheese that oozed out, which we spooned out afterwards.

More ching chong food for the fam!

French beans with minced pork and dried shrimps, tofu with baby corn, carrots, black fungus and mushrooms in a sweet sauce and steamed pomfret.

A craving for Secret Recipe’s lamb stew turned into another slow cooking process. I get very happy when I crave for something from a restaurant and my home made version turns out to be cheaper and better tasting!!!

Roasted chicken and vegetable medley… I wanted to let the skin of the chicken get more crisp, but left it in for 5 more minutes too many so it got slightly burnt. LOL

Spinach rosti (thanks to my happycall pan – it makes perfect rostis!) with smoked salmon & sour cream. Another quick fix, takes only 20 minutes to whip up.

Grilled dory fish (seasoned with black pepper, paprika, lemon juice and bay leaves) and a passionfruit glaze.

Tom yum soup!!!!! I added black fungus to mine because I like the chewy texture. This was also surprisingly easy to handle for a first timer. I thought the restaurant needed to boil it for hours… but it’s pretty much instant. And so dang cheap without the seafood! You can get a tom yum pack from NTUC Fairprice for a dollar something, then just add stock + ingredients and more seasoning.

I prefer kimchi soup to tom yum because of its thicker consistency. I cook mine with golden mushrooms, silky tofu and cuttlefish balls (LOL random ingredient)

And this is the stuff I eat when I’m too lazy to cook, yet too lazy to go out and eat. I stack jalapeno cream cheese with salmon and season generously.

Ok pretty sure I’ve cooked a lot more dishes than this but I GTG out now, if you guys want the recipe for a certain dish that’s appealing to you (and if enough of you want it) just drop me a comment! I’ll find some time to do another cooking tutorial post. :)

Hope you enjoyed looking at my food pictures!

xoxo,
Jess

Shahi Maharani






Hi!!!

Here you have three absolutely vain & unrelated pictures of myself to start my post with, just because I especially liked how my hair looked yesterday. Yay for good hair days.

So, on to real business. If you’ve been following my blog for as long as I’m hoping you have (lol), you’ll know I have a passion for indian food.

I absolutely LOVE indian food…. I’ve blogged about it so many times! But I won’t settle for just roti prata and any curry, I’m always on a mission to find quality indian cuisine offered in Singapore. It’s sad how misunderstood indian food is in Singapore, many people I know don’t like it because they think it’s “dirty / smelly”… they say they don’t think the food has been cooked cleanly in their kitchens. I think that’s a silly, silly stigma, because most of the hawker centres selling Chinese food in Singapore have appalling standards of food preparation hygiene, and yet we eat it everyday without complaints… Well the only complain I have is that my farts are especially deadly whenever I have indian food. LOL. But hey, eating gorgonzola cheese (italian) and caesar salad (general western) makes me gas a lot too so it’s not just limited to indian food, it really depends.

The point of my post today is to share with you guys my current FAVORITE indian restaurant in Singapore!!! I’ve gotten a lot of questions before asking about my old favorite indian place but it closed down in recent months to poor business :( It was called Mumtaz Mahal, located at Far East Plaza, and I was so gutted when they shut down. It’s now replaced by some nasi lemak or indonesian food place.I thought my butter chicken days were officially over…. every other place I’ve tried just isn’t quite the same. Like I said before, good indian restaurants in Singapore are DAMN difficult to find and I’m so glad to have chanced upon this one accidentally one fine evening, it’s our go-to for our indian fix these days, and is a lovely venue to have dinner for any occasion (if you can find indian food kakis that is, for me when I find a buddy who likes indian food I CLING ONTO THEM FOR DEAR LIFE I’m never letting you out of my sight dear friend). This place is new to Sam & I, but I’m sure it’s been around for actually quite some time, it gets very popular during dinner time we have noticed :)

So.. here are some pictures from the amazing dinner we had a few days ago!! My weight-management physician (you’ll find out more about her soon) will not be pleased, omg. Don’t tell her about this.

Bottom right, the star dish: Butter Chicken (not sure what they call it in their menu, they always have different varying names for it depending on the restaurant but just ask for butter chicken)

This is sooooooooooo ridiculously gooodddd wtf. It’s the best butter chicken I have EVER had and I’ve had many, trust me!!! Even the super pricey, famed & popular indian restaurant in Perth called 9 Mary’s that I went to didn’t match up to this (and that place was quite fabulous indeed)

The sauce is relatively sweet, not too spicy or salty to be considered “curry”, it’s very creamy and quite mild in terms of spiciness. The chicken was well marinated and tender through. Most butter chicken dishes have a decent-enough sauce, but the chicken itself is blah – too dry and plain on the inside. But this one had such an authentic taste!!! It’s an explosion of flavors in your mouth. It goes so well with…

Naan bread!

My favorite here is the garlic naan. Now, I normally prefer butter naan, but this place does the garlic naan better and has won me over :) Garlicky while not being too overpowering or “spicy”. It’s definitely not the best I’ve tired, but it is nice enough. Fluffy centers and crispy exteriors make it the perfect sponge for soaking up all that much sauce that comes with most indian main dishes.

This…. this. This is Sam’s favorite, and he says he will come back to Shahi Maharani (wow what a mouthful) again and again, JUST for this.

It’s a sizzling hot plate (hence the blur foggy picture, it was still sizzling and smoking away) with a ton of different ingredients. You probably can’t tell properly, but from my memory, the platter comes with 2 largeeee succulent tandoori prawns (TO DIE FOR), fish tikka pieces, tandoori chickens and 2 kebabs. On a bed of onions / shallots that had the time to get all caramelized, browned and lovely. I love.

If you’re not too big on indian food and don’t know where to start, get this platter & share. Their portions are actually relatively large, Sam and I more than over-ordered, but we rarely give ourselves an indian meal treat these days, so we jump at every opportunity. It makes us really happy. I adore how it arrives at our table still sizzling and smoking….. anything on a hot plate instantly makes it yummier, like drinking soup from a stone bowl, or noodles in a claypot!!!

This last dish we ordered that night is the lamb korma. It’s tender mutton pieces drenched in a rich curry, medium spiced. Sorry you can’t see much from the picture, lol, it’s all drenched in sauce. (which is why it’s sooo good!) Someone I used to know commented that she doesn’t like indian food because there’s too many spices & flavors going on, she doesn’t know what she’s putting into her mouth at the end of the day and whether they use ingredients (such as meats) that aren’t as fresh and mask it up with a thick curry flavor. You’ll have no problem with the “smelly mutton smell” (as chinese people in Singapore call it) here.

We’ve tried more dishes on other dates that aren’t listed here because I didn’t manage to take a picture of those, but literally everything we tried on the menu ranged from good to very good. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother to make a blog post out of this, I’m generally a very lazy blogger, LOL. Note that this is, in no way, a sponsored post. I wish it was though… my life would be complete. I love my own cooking, but I can’t cook indian food. The recipes are too traditional & complicated and how large a spice rack would I have to own?!

Food quality aside, this place is fast turning into one of our top restaurants in Singapore because of it’s wonderful service and ambience. Restaurant set up is very cozy, nicely decorated and is posh enough to be considered a “nice dinner” but not too posh that it’s pretentious or that you’d feel uncomfortable if you wore casual clothing. The waiters are friendly & all speak decent english, quick to fill up your water glass when it’s emptying, they’re happy to give you suggestions based on your own preferences and most of all, they want to make sure you have a good time. We are always checked up upon and asked, “how is the food?” with a smile. In Singapore, it is SO SO SO SO rare to find GOOD QUALITY SERVICE in our restaurants. Professional and friendly waiters are honestly a near-extinct species here. Why the hell am I paying 10% of my total bill for service tax when I haven’t received good service at all? So when I find a restaurant with good service, such as the Fish & Co at Changi Airport and this one, it’s like a dream come true. 

Oh, I must also mention that they have a live band - indian singers singing indian songs!! (well duh I sound stupid – if not indian singers singing chinese songs meh) Very cool experience, and the vibe we get from this place is great, we never fail to leave smiling and patting our tummies (and rolling out the front door)

See: me entering, before food is served….. see again: me exiting, food in ma belly.

Pricing wise, it’s towards the high side, but totally worth the money. If you’re on a budget, mentally prepare yourself before entering. Our dinner above costed us about $100 SGD – for 2 naan breads, 1 lamb korma, 1 butter chicken, and 1 platter to share. That’s a lot of food we had to ourselves though.. probably about 3-4 person’s worth, so technically you could almost halve that amount for a meal for 2, if you wanted to. But since I’ve started cooking regularly, I really haven’t been dining out that much, and I’m happy to indulge in quality food & service once in awhile. If the price totally puts you off, they also have a lunch buffet, it’s more affordable and it’s all-you-can-eat so knock yourself out. I haven’t tried it personally but reviews online say it’s pretty good. Thing about buffet food is…. the quality is almost always never as good as ala carte items. Well it’s your choice to make!

Shahi Maharani North Indian Restaurant
252 North Bridge Road, #03-21B Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6235 8840
Food quality: 4/5
Service / Ambience: 4/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Most suitable for: Families, lovers of Indian cuisine, adventurous foodies who want to try something different!

Sam & Jess, signing off! (it was actually his idea to blog about this place since I gushed about it so much)

We’re going on a sponsored trip for the next 3 days – woopie!!! Will be back with a blog post about it afterwards. I can’t wait for this well-deserved break, even if it’s going to be a short getaway nearby.

xoxo,
Jess

My love for cooking. ♥

Dear everyone,

I have an announcement to make. Today, I woke up feeling terribly excited about one thing – cooking lunch.

Yep. I literally woke up with a huge grin on my face because I knew I was gonna get down, dirty and gritty in my tiny kitchen, slaving over the stove and chopping onions and having them make me tear and having the garlic stink up my hands when I touch em. It’s a joyous activity. I can’t decide if I have no life or I choose to be excited about the simplest things in life, lol. But one thing’s for sure, I realized my love for cooking cannot go unnoticed. It has to be acknowledged, it’s too passionate, too strong. It’s positively consuming me. (see what I did there?)



All pictures in this post are of my most recent home-cooked meals. Here we have linguine with sun-dried tomatoes, pan fried scallops & prawns! Pasta is one of my favorite foods. 

Almost every day, I will crack my brains just thinking about which culinary I should attempt to conquer next… what should I cook for lunch later? What should I cook for dinner tomorrow? I think I can almost safely say that I enjoy cooking more than I do eating, which is a bold statement. We all love food, but I don’t know a lot of people who like to cook the way I do. Most people in other countries cook because they have to, because dining out is expensive, but in Singapore you can dine out everyday and still get by. Hawker fare is cheap, available everywhere, and delicious. Don’t get me wrong, I love digging into my food once I’m done beautifying it in the kitchen. That is half the reward. But the true beauty about cooking is knowing that your food is appreciated by other people. Food has a very special kind of effect on people. It makes people of all ages, languages, races & backgrounds speak the same language… Hunger. And a well fed-person, is a happy person. I like making people happy in my own little ways.


Roasted red capsicums stuffed with cherry tomatoes, basil, sun-dried tomatoes (as you can tell I am obsessed with tomatoes) along with other random goodness, topped off with cheese and breadcrumbs! Look ma, no meat.

And here, I’ll just admit it – I like the attention. I love getting reactions out of people when I cook. Most people don’t expect it from me, which makes it extra fun and dramatic. It’s like when a fat guy finishes first in a marathon.. They’re happy that you tried, but they’re over the moon and completely dumbfounded that you actually succeeded. Do I really look that prissy? I guess so. Less than 3 years ago I could barely cook anything, you could leave me with a kitchen full of raw supplies in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and I’d still starve to death. I couldn’t even fry an egg, or prepare instant noodles myself. My idea of cooking maggi mee is dumping the entire contents of the packet into a large bowl filled with water and popping it into the microwave for 3 minutes to “cook”. Before I discovered the microwave technique, I never even dreamed of touching the stove. Microwave-food alone was an achievement for me. I’ve always had an innate fear of stoves, microwaves.. anything fire or electricity related that could possibly explode, I’d stay far, far away from. So I don’t know exactly when it was, or what inspired me to get my ass involved into the kitchen, but one day I decided I would stop being such a pussy princess, and that I’d man the fuck up and finally learn how to cook, like a woman should. (Don’t mean to sound sexist, but let’s admit it girls, the way to a man’s heart is his stomach) I have an inkling it might have been when I toyed with the idea of moving to Australia to live. People kept drilling it into my head that living alone in your own apartment and fending for yourself is hard, and that cooking was a necessary skill. Sam, and my very own mother would subtly rub it into my face that I couldn’t survive by myself.. I recall hearing this sentence in a slight taunting and challenging tone, “Who is going to cook and clean up after you???” And in my head a small proud voice screamed, “I’ll cook for myself dammit!!!”...  Sam’s mum also did not particularly like me very much back then when I visited his family in Melbourne, and I was told by Sam it’s because I was “too spoilt.” As a result of indignation, a new hobby and skill was born.

Here’s my list of reasons why cooking is awesome!

1) It’s cheaper than eating at most restaurants, while being equally or even yummier, if you do it right. Singapore has a serious lack of individual, unique restaurants… I’m sick of dining at the same old franchised outlets!!! Perhaps cooking is not cheaper than hawker fare, but you can’t eat hawker food your whole life.

2) It ups your “future amazing wife potential” (Yay for me, take that Sam’s mum! Hah just kidding.)

3) You can do your food exactly the way you want it to be done! If you’re a fussy eater and control freak like me, it works out perfectly.

4) While Singapore lacks new & exciting restaurants to try, they do exist but they’re all terribly far away and tucked into strange little obscure corners, and easily accessible. Cooking at home saves me taxi fares!

5) It’s an awesome way to kill time. Not sure what to do on a mundane Sunday? Attempt to cook your favorite food or dessert! Even if you fail, you’ll have fun trying.

Learning how to cook was not an easy thing to do. But it is undoubtedly one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

It is messy, a lot of trial-and-errors, is a big time investment, difficult to grasp at first and most of all, pure hard work. There’s a lot of physical exertion involved. Being a non-sporty person, the only time I ever perspire or get covered in sweat in my air-conditioned house is when I have to babysit my food sitting in a stove-crib. When I first started out experimenting with different cooking styles, I had to put up with the awkward looks on people’s faces when they were asked to try my cooking and they didn’t like it, but didn’t know how to tell me. It was quite a difficult blow to stomach considering I always try to give my best. At least I know they weren’t lying, and they will only give compliments when they’re real.

Speaking of compliments, if someone tells me I’m pretty, I’d curtly respond, “Thank you. ^.^”
On the other hand, if the same person said, “I LOVE your cooking / baking!!!” I’d be all like, “Really? Why thank you!! I’m glad you liked it!!!! :D”

A compliment has so much more meaning when you know you earned it!

These days, even when I have become comfortable with cooking, I still face new problems and questions everyday – what is affordable to cook, that I haven’t cooked recently, that everyone home will find suited to their taste buds, that I already have the ingredients for in the fridge because I do not have time to go out and buy groceries? …Sheesh, it’s like the problems never stop coming. But that is also part of the reason why I find cooking fun, because it is a challenge. If something is too easy, it’s probably not worth doing. I am always learning.



To digress, I solved that problem last night by doing a fried cauliflower dish coated in seasoned batter, I also prepared a garlic aioli sauce to dip with. Do not be deceived by it’s plain looks! It is crispy and full of flavor, normally I wouldn’t even take a glance at cauliflower. Everyone raved about it and the cauliflower costed me only $1.30. Hoo-rah!

Just today, I decided to make hamburgers for lunch, at the request of my boyfriend. I thought to myself, “Hey, McDee’s can serve up a hamburger within minutes. How difficult can it be? No problem-o!”  but I ended up spending over an hour wreaking havoc in the kitchen, and by the time I was done, I was almost too tired and hot and bothered to enjoy my meal properly. (But I did, anyway, because it was good. I fell asleep after that though)

Was the pain worth it? You bet. Toasted buttered bun.. Cheddar cheese.. Creamy portobello mushrooms.. Fresh lettuce & tomatoes.. Home made fatass juicy beef patty.. Fried bacon.. White onions.. Accompanied by deviled eggs. Food comas are made of these.

Most people would look at the picture above and go, “Oh, yum, a burger!” but to me, it is a work of art. (Don’t laugh!)

I look beneath the exterior to see what lines beneath. I think about frying the bacon that made the hot oil splatter and how it hurt when it landed on my bare skin, about how it took 20 whole minutes to cook that monster of a beef patty, about how my eyes still sting just a little from cutting the onions and let’s not even get started on how messy my whole kitchen was after the fiasco. Since picking up cooking, I have been extremely aware of what I am putting into my mouth. I feel like most people don’t know what they are putting into their bodies when they dine outside. Did you know that your tasty McDonald chicken nuggets are actually made from this disgusting laboratory-produced piece of inedible looking thing?! At least when I make my own burgers, I can make sure real minced beef goes into my beef patties! (well I know supermarkets are full of preservatives and other random shit but it’s still an improvement to cook yourself) Perhaps it’s just easier not to know the harsh reality, but I say, it is a damn good thing to know as much as you can, ignorance is never bliss. These days, I am better at telling real food apart from fake food, from what are genuine flavors & aromas and what is just laden with unhealthy MSG. I don’t eat as much junk food as I used to, and have become more health conscious, because I always think twice before I buy food outside.

How much nutritional value is this going to give me? Am I really going to pay $8 for a McDonalds meal when I can cook a nicer, healthier burger and with the same amount of money I could double the portions? I don’t know about you, but I always feel sickly after eating McDees. I like McDees, and I am not discriminating against anyone else who does, but surely I am not the only one who feels like my throat gets all dry and congested when I finish their burgers, and the slight nauseating feeling when you’ve finished your whole meal, downed with those oily fries (that aren’t even made of mostly potatoes?!) and diluted, watered-down soda. (P.S I am very proud to tell you guys I have given up my soft drink addiction!!!! Big milestone in my life.)

Another sense of awareness that cooking has brought to my attention is eating meat. I roasted this whole chicken for dinner last night. (Of course I didn’t finish it alone, it was shared among 6 people) Here it looks like a tasty roasted chicken, fresh out of my oven, ready to eat. 2 hours before this, however, before the marinating and roasting in the oven, all I saw was a dead, cold chicken carcass sitting on my table waiting for it’s head to get chopped off, and for it’s guts to be de-gutted so that I could have it for dinner. I hate touching uncooked raw meat, but it is a solemn reminder that another animal had to die, so that I could live (better). Not just one, but many, many animals. Now you could say “You can live without meat!” but I’ve enjoyed eating meat for all my life and will not (or can not) stop now. I am not interested in preaching about animal cruelty or being vegan because I have nothing to do with that, however, I just wanted to highlight how this prompts me to waste food less often, I try to finish everything I have on my plate. If an animal had to die, at least I’d make it’s death worth their while. It makes me appreciate food this much more, gluttony aside, I realize I am privileged to be at the top of the food chain and how lucky I am to have food always readily available, and that I never have to go hungry. Many other people in this world suffer from starvation, a depressing problem that shouldn’t exist in this era considering our abundance of food.

In a lot of ways, cooking is like baking to me. It’s a valuable and convenient skill to have, it impresses people, and I am always guaranteed some sort of a reward. I’m fussy with my hobbies and interests, if I feel like they don’t provide me an instant sense of worthwhile-ness, I will drop it almost immediately. With cooking or baking, even if people somehow don’t like it, at least it fulfills the human being’s most basic need – having something to put in your stomach. No food is ever wasted when it satiates your hungry. Watching people dig into my food gives me a similar sensation as to when I see people gawk and squeal at the sight of my decorated cupcakes.. At the end of the day, it’s not so much of smugness, or self-gratification, but mostly I am humbled that something so simple can evoke a response like that from another human being. Please continue to make orgasmic noises and pull funny expressions while wolfing down the food I made you, it puts a smile on my face.

And that, briefly, is why I love cooking… Other than how it tastes so good.

Now I don’t even have to worry about what to cook for lunch the next day, because my best friend is cooking and bringing lunch to my place for me tomorrow. The only cooking I like better than my own cooking is meals that are cooked by other people, with utmost sincerity, just for me!!!

xoxo,
Jess

The BEST Vietnamese Spring Rolls Recipe evarrrr!!! :D

So every time I create a recipe how-to post, I just HAVE to include that it’s the “Best xxx recipe evarrrr” because it so totally is! If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t feel obliged to share it. :P

If you didn’t already know, my boyfriend Sam is half-Vietnamese, and half-Chinese. But I just think of him as only Vietnamese because his whole family follows the Vietnamese culture, they speak, eat and look like viets, not Chinese, so his Chinese ethnicity is sort of invalid in my opinion.

Now, I don’t eat a lot of Vietnamese food, I generally prefer Thai food as they’re similar but Thai is more tangy and spicy. The one Vietnamese food I really like is Vietnamese spring rolls, the fried ones – not the fresh ones! And Sam happens to make this REALLY well.

This is what I’m talking about!!!! It looks so deliciously crispy and golden brown omg ♥

For every single occasion, be it a house party, chinese new year, etc.. people will always ask one question: “Is Sam making his famous spring rolls?”

My relatives will not stop hounding him until he fries up a whole big batch for them! Mind you, they don’t eat 10, or 20 of these. When Sam makes a batch of these, 50 is the minimum amount he’ll make, and they are ALWAYS snapped up… There are no leftovers whatsoever!!! I’ve seen people fight for the last piece on the plate hahaha. Word of warning, when you cook this, it’ll all be gone before you know it.

This dish will be unlike any spring rolls you’ve ever had before.

When I think of spring rolls sold outside, I would never order them. I would think they’re too oily, just full of lousy vegetables, and a waste of carbs and money in general. These however, will blow your mind. They’re crazily addictive because they’re perfectly sized, small enough to make you want to pop another, and another into your mouth. It’s not too filling, although they are hearty – normally I have at least 10 of these for dinner. The SUCCESS to this dish is the sauce that comes along with it – without the sauce it’s good, but nothing to rave about. However dunk it in Sam’s secret recipe sauce (not so secret now!) and it becomes the best thing ever!!!

So I’m about to begin teaching you guys how to make this, however..

I do want to make this very clear that this recipe is 100% original, not “inspired” from recipes taken from other cook books or websites. Sam wanted me to credit his mother for these as he grew up eating a very similar dish she cooked, but he’s made some slight modifications since then. If you do make these or want to share the recipe / pictures online (even after altering it), do remember to credit and link back to this entry. It took me awhile to convince Sam to give me the recipe to share with you guys, so please use with integrity. :)


Let’s rock and roll!!!


YOU WILL NEED:

Main Ingredients

♥ — 200g chopped minced pork (if you’re muslim, try this with minced beef!!!)
♥ — 200g chopped fresh prawns, de-shelled and de-veined
♥ — 100g grated carrots, wrung (squeezed) dry
♥ — 150g cooked bee hoon / rice vermicelli
♥ — 150g diced shitake mushrooms

♥ — 4 cloves diced garlic
♥ — 1 small onion or half a large onion diced

♥ — 1 egg
♥ — 2 tablespoons fish sauce
♥ — 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
♥ — 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
♥ — 3 teaspoons of salt
♥ — A pinch of MSG / flavor enhancer (you can leave this out if you want, but a lil bit never hurt!)

Extras

♥ — Spring rolls pastry, defrosted (NOT the fresh, rice paper type. I use this, available at NTUC)
♥ — 1 egg white (you will need this for wrapping the spring rolls)

Sauce

♥ — 1/2 cup water
♥ — 2 tablespoons fish sauce
♥ — 2 tablespoons white sugar
♥ — 1 tablespoon white vinegar
♥ — 2 tablespoons lemon juice
♥ — Juice of 1 Calamansi
♥ — Half a chilli padi, cut up (use a whole chilli padi if you like it super spicy, or 1/4 if you have low spice tolerance, but don’t put none at all if you can help it!)


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Step 1: Combine all the main ingredients together in a big bowl!

Here’s Sam doing the dirty job for me. Well somebody has to be holding the camera, right? It’s not truly authentic unless it’s made by a Vietnamese!! Lol… kidding.

(actually I’m not, but yeah. :P)

After combining all your ingredients it should look like this!

Yeah, it’s not pretty or gourmet, but it’s yummy nevertheless. Honestly, the measurements are pretty forgiving, so you don’t have to go nuts trying to measure all the ingredients so accurately… and I think it’s pretty much impossible to mess up because of how straightforward it is. If you manage to screw this up, sorry honey, you have no business in the kitchen, time to learn dancing or juggling instead.

Now, that’s the easy part about this recipe. Who can’t dice a few mushrooms and grate a few carrots then combine them? The difficult bit will probably be learning how to roll your spring rolls nicely. If you don’t do this properly, your spring rolls will either be 1) Ugly 2) Tastes yucky due to weird texture 3) Not as appealing as it could be.

I took the liberty of taking Step-By-Step pictures of how Sam does it, so follow these instructions carefully!

1) Get a big tray for working on, and place a sheet of the spring roll pastry in front of you, in a diamond-shaped position.

2) Spoon a decent sized amount of your spring roll mixture and place it 3/4 down your pastry. You want a small amount of filling, no more than half a tablespoon (or use the above to gauge!).

3) Take the end of your pastry…

4) And fold it over the filling, as shown above.

5) Fold it across from one side

6) Now do the other side! …I hope you’re good at origami, haha. I kinda suck at this because I was never good at symmetry.

7) Take some egg white and spread it across the area which the finger is pointing at. This will keep your spring roll from unfolding involuntarily.

8) Now to finish it up, roll it all the way up from the bottom! Do not roll it too tightly, or loosely. Sam tells me the less you think about how you’re doing this, the better it will probably turn out.

If you do it too tight, your pastry will loop around the mixture too many times and will not be as crispy as it should be when fried.

9) When you have something like this, you’re done! Yay, congratulations, you just rolled your first spring roll! :D

It’s actually pretty fun… for the first 20, at least. Then it gets tiresome. Now the awesome part about this recipe is that you can keep the rest of the spring rolls that you think you can’t finish in the freezer for a long time. I’d recommend keeping it for a week or two tops, but according to Sam, his mum kept it for months. LOL. Make sure you keep it in an air-tight container.

Now, how do you fry the spring rolls? Well I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how to fry stuff. Pour a generous amount of oil into your frying pan (shallow fry if you’re health conscious, deep fry if you don’t care), wait for the oil to become really hot (otherwise it won’t be crispy), then fry your spring rolls until a gorgeous golden brown color, while turning it on both sides constantly!!! How long your frying time takes depends on how big you rolled the spring rolls and how much oil / how hot your oil is. It’s not rocket science, you can figure it out :)

And wait! Just when you thought we were done, we still have the sauce to make!!!

Refer to my “WHAT YOU’LL NEED” list above, and scroll to the Sauce section. Combine all the ingredients, Sam threw in some leftover grated carrot to boost how the sauce looks and popped a whole calamansi into the bowl.

This sauce is DA BOMBDIGGITY. You won’t be “dipping” your spring roll in the sauce, you’ll be dunking it in to say the least, most people leave their spring roll “swimming” in the sauce for a good few seconds, lol!

This is the p.e.r.f.e.c.t.i.o.n you should get if you’ve followed this recipe correctly!!!!!!! ♥_♥

Sooo crispy and such a gorgeous medley of flavors! Prawny and meaty with just the right amount of vegetables to complement all the textures and flavors. Burly men will not scoff at these because they are hearty and filling, despite how they look. I want some now even though I just em yesterday, oh gee.

This is less than 1/4 of what we fried yesterday – this recipe makes A LOT of spring rolls, more than 50!! (remember, they freeze well)

The spring roll pastry packet I bought had 50 sheets of pastry and we ran out of pastry before we could finish using up the filling. I highly recommend these for parties because the ingredients are cheap (estimated cost for today’s recipe is $10 or less and could be the dinner of 4 hungry people) and they’re easy to make in big batches! Or definitely make these if you wanna impress your boyfriend / girlfriend’s family.. I have a feeling it especially appeals to middle-aged Asians (and ang mohs!)

Although I’m sure anyone would love these tasty bites because I’ve offered them to my nearing-80-year-old grandmother and my little neighbor who is less than 10 and everyone who’s ever tried them has thoroughly enjoyed them!

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Happy rolling your spring rolls guys!!!

Let me know how these turned out for you and the responses from people who are going to eat it! I’ll positively chop my head off if you don’t get raves, haha. Sam, and his mama, would be so proud of their family recipe. :)

xoxo,
Jess

The best Spinach Feta Quiche Evarrr!!

Hi!!!

I’m back to share another recipe :D!! This time it’s savory food and not dessert because some of you requested for dinner recipes instead, however this is still baked in an oven. I love shoving food in the oven, it’s so fuss free.

Today’s recipe is named The best Spinach Feta Quiche Evarrr!!!!… although I haven’t really had a lot of Spinach Quiches outside, so… I’m not sure if it really is THE BESTEST BEST one out there. LOL. But I loved it. And Sam said it’s reallyyy good. So this is definitely worth trying!

I was craving for something creamy, something cheesy and with spinach… VOILA!!!

Idea of spinach quiche came into mind, and in a matter of hours, my idea materialized.


….Isn’t it beautiful?! :’)

Disclaimer: This recipe is SUPER DUPER CHEESY. And crazy sinful. Which is why it’s so good. It’s an explosion of flavors in the mouth!!! Do not attempt this if you’re a mild eater.

I’m a huge cheese fan and I found this super delicious. So if you love cheese, this is an orgasm in the mouth, quite literally. n___n But if you don’t, stay away. It’s so rich and filled to the brim with 2 types of cheese, how can you go wrong?! You mix spinach + cheese + bacon and you get a pretty much fail-proof recipe.

This recipe is quite forgiving, so you don’t have to use exact measurements or ingredients for the filling, you can adjust here and there as you please, and it’ll still turn out fine. You will realize later my recipe quite agar agar one but just HAVE FAITH ok LOL. The ingredients list looks quite long but the actual preparation time takes less than 30 minutes, so do not be intimidated.

Let’s get started!!


YOU WILL NEED:

8″ round baking pan for baking the quiche in

Non-stick cooking spray / baking paper to line the tin

♥ — 3 tablespoons of butter (for frying of the ingredients)
♥ — 3 cloves garlic, diced
♥ — 1 onion, chopped

♥ — A lot of chopped fresh spinach. I don’t know the exact measurements for this (how to measure spinach?!) but you can look at the picture above. Maybe 3-4 cups worth? For me I bought 2 bunches from NTUC Fairprice and used it all.

♥ — 2 cups of chopped mushrooms of your choice. I used portobello mushrooms because I think I am atas. LOL you can use brown mushrooms too, but no shiitake / brown / chinese mushrooms. Angmoh shrooms only.

♥ — 3/4 cup of Feta Cheese. (I went nuts and put in 1 big cup lol so mine was ultimate cheesy)
♥ — 6 slices of Cheddar Cheese
♥ — 4 eggs, beaten
♥ — 3/4 cup milk
♥ — 4 tablespoons of sliced sundried tomatoes pieces (or to taste)
♥ — Half a cup of real bacon bits or fry up some real bacon (If you don’t want this to be a vegetarian meal. I used bacon bits)
♥ — 2 and a half tablespoons of self-raising flour
♥ — Paprika & coriander for garnishing
♥ — Pepper to your own taste (This is a salty recipe from all the cheese, so no salt required)
♥ — Herbs to your own taste. I used 1 teaspoon each of dill weed and parsley.
♥ — Breadcrumbs


—- Optional Part—

♥ — 8 inch unbaked deep dish pie crust (I skipped this part. I don’t actually like pie crusts, but if you like more carbs and crust in your quiche then go ahead and add this.)



Step 1:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Melt the butter in a frying pan, and combine the Spinach, Mushrooms, Onions, and Garlic.

Fry and sautee in medium-high heat until the water oozing out from the spinach and mushrooms have completely dried up.



Step 2:
Turn off the heat, then add in the sundried tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese to the spinach mixture. No need to cook this, just mix well.

My quiche turned out slightly soggier than I would’ve liked because I didn’t fry my spinach and mushrooms for long enough for all the water to be absorbed. It was delish nonetheless, but you don’t wanna make the same mistake I did! I’m sure it would be perfect otherwise.



Step 3:
Line your baking tin with baking paper or spray non-stick cooking spray on the bottom, then pour in and spread out the spinach mixture evenly.



Step 4:
Place bacon bits / fried bacon, cheddar slices and bread crumbs on top of spinach mixture. Save a few slices of cheddar cheese for later. I didn’t actually measure the bread crumbs and it doesn’t matter. I reached into the bag and sprinkled liberally.

I know it doesn’t look so very appetizing right now, but JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE. ^.^



Step 5:
In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and flour well. Make sure there are no lumps.



Step 6:
Pour over spinach mixture, then bake at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes, then place remaining cheddar cheese slices on top and sprinkle with more breadcrumbs, then cook for another 15 minutes, or until it’s done.

You know it’s done when your quiche is no longer wobbly and has a nice solid-ish texture. You can poke a toothpick in after about 30 minutes to check on it.

If you’d read my Brownie Recipe Tutorial, you would know all about how baking time can be different for everyone.


WHEN YOU ARE DONE…

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This is all the glory you’ll end up with!!!!!!



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Sprinkle with paprika and garnish with coriander straight after you take your quiche out of the oven to achieve this GORGEOUS color. :D

Allow it to stand and cool in the baking tin for at least 15 minutes before serving. You don’t wanna serve your quiche piping hot, you want to have it only relatively warm because that’s when the flavors are at its best.



POW WOW!!!! It’s ridiculous, I know.

Definitely a lot more photogenic when sliced up than my brownies were. The spinach and mushrooms give the quiche a nice veggie bite and every spoonful of quiche was overflowing with gooey, melty cheese that made me go like this: …..:’)

So rich, so creamy, sooo goood wtffffff. Sam confirm wanna marry me please. If I didn’t have to watch my weight, I’d make this again. And again… Three quarters of my 8″ quiche was GONE in 20 minutes.

My auntie was visiting that day and after 2 generous slices, she said, “I’d finish all the leftovers if I didn’t have to let other people try it.”

….For a first attempt. ;)

If you guys have any questions, feedback on how yours turned out, or requests for future recipe how-to’s, leave me a comment! Hope yours will turn out equally fabulous and good luck!!


ENJOY!!!!!!

xoxo,
Jess
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