I remember laughing while watching early seasons of Top Chef because it felt that the constant comment of the judges was, “needs more acid.” At some point, it almost felt that the phrase was used when tasters couldn’t think of anything else to say. But, as I’ve aged and my tastes have definitely changed, I now find myself on an almost constant lookout for acidity in dishes to balance fatty foods and rich sauces.
My kids love Panna cotta, and would choose it over any item on the dessert menu without thinking twice. There was a period of time when my darling five-year old son was so obsessed, he requested for it as his after-dinner treat two weeks in a row. Panna cotta translates as “cooked cream”, and to me, is a simple, soothing dessert that is an antidote for frazzled nerves at the end of a hard day.
When the entertaining (read: feasting) season is in full swing, I like having standbys in the fridge, something that can take something ordinary to the next level. They don’t have to be overly fancy or luxurious. The only criteria is that these standbys are flavour-packed and perhaps bring an unexpected twist, to shake things up a bit. I’m not clear on what the proper name of this tomato dish is. I call it a relish, but it could also be more of a chutney or jam (depending on how long it is stewed for).
Truth be told, when entertaining in our home, I usually start with bubbly or wine for our guests. And if the hubby was left to the task, he’d simply crack open some bottles of ice cold beer. The idea of having to shake up an interesting beverage on top of planning, cooking and serving a meal, is a step that I’d gladly skip. However, with the stifling Singapore humidity, red wine is often too heavy. And beer tends to leave me feeling bloated (of course, I’m speaking purely from a lady’s perspective – this doesn’t seem to apply to blokes).
Earlier this week, I wrote about the seven course dinner I prepared for my brother and his wife. In that post, I shared the full menu as well as my recipe for the evening’s first course. Well, today I’m sharing another dish – another new recipe that was created especially for that meal.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of whipping up a real feast. The occasion was the birthdays and wedding anniversary of my brother and his wife, which all fall on the very same day in November. Because of our current work and child schedules, Su-Lyn and I don’t find the time to entertain as often or as dramatically as we used to. But for this dinner, I decided to go all out.
Singapore is currently enjoying quite the culinary renaissance. It feels like there are new restaurants and cafes opening weekly. And to be honest, I can’t even keep up with all these new places. Unfortunately, judging from my dining-out experiences over the past year, far too many newbies prize style over substance, i.e. while many of these new eateries look great and attract a growing pride of local hipsters, the reality is that their food is often both mediocre and very expensive. One restaurant that opened this past year, however, whose culinary program has continued to impress me is Bacchanalia, located (oddly enough) in the city’s Masonic Hall.
It wasn’t until two years ago that La Mother dearest found it necessary to learn how to cook – which was rather odd I suppose, given what a fantastic cook my maternal grandmother is, and how my mum was raised in a very typical Kampung environment in Muar, i.e. great Peranakan and Malaysian food. Prior to her learning how to cook however, she did learn how to bake an exceptionally good molten chocolate babycake (aka chocolate fondant) – in part to save us from the teasing at school that our mum couldn’t cook; classmates can be a most unforgiving lot. “Hey, my mum bakes a great chocolate fondant ok? Bet you don’t even know what that is, so b****r off.” Pardon me.
I first heard about Diner en Blanc in an article from a magazine some years back, but by the time I realised the inaugural one in Singapore was going to take place, it was too late to even vaguely think about trying to get onto the guest list. This year, I was slightly better prepared, and was all excited about taking part in the much talked about gourmet flash mob in a secret location – coming up in October (next month!). Happily, I also managed to grab some time with organiser Clemen Chiang.