Month: October 2012

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The best cupcake in the world – Molly’s Cupcakes

The cupcake boom was alive and well when I was first in Chicago four years ago. There was Sprinkles, Swirlz, Sugar Bliss…and of course, there was Molly’s. I especially love Molly’s. I truly love Molly’s. Molly’s was a five minute walk away from my apartment when I lived in Chicago and I definitely had a love hate relationship with it. I loved it for the little pick-me-ups whenever I needed (or wanted) one, but of course hated that my then expanding waistline was in no small part attributable to my love of the delectable concoctions at Molly’s Cupcakes.

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Panel for the blind tasting

Pinot Noir – A taste of its worldly flavours


God made Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas the devil made Pinot noir.”

As famously declared by André Tchelistcheff, America’s most influential wine maker in the post prohibitions period (post-1930s). The Pinot Noir demands undivided attention from growers and wine makers, seduces drinkers with subtle nuances and excites those who adore it. If I am to draw literature reference from “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, then Pinot Noir can be described as “lust” manifested in, the not so glamorous, berry form.

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Some hot picks for Kyoto

Every time my wife S and I go to Kyoto, one of our all-time favourite cities, we discover new things to tell friends and family (and you) about. One of the single most popular posts on this blog is our 2009 Kyoto Guide. Recently, we’ve been blogging about some singularly spectacular things to do in Kyoto, such as staying in the city’s most unique ryokanstyle resort, exploring Arashiyama, learning zen meditation, or taking a cooking class to learn some great Japanese home cooking techniques. The following are just a few more recommendations to add to my always growing list of hot picks for Kyoto – awesome things to see, do, eat or buy in this amazing city. 

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Homemade Vanilla Fridge Wipe

Pantry Basics: Homemade Vanilla Fridge Wipe

Homemade Vanilla Fridge Wipe

Vanilla fridge wipe is a household cleaning product that I first discovered as an undergraduate in Western Australia. It’s a food-safe disinfectant that also smells delicious, which helped to make housework just that tiny bit more tolerable. To my dismay, when I moved back to Singapore, I discovered that it wasn’t sold here. And because it’s highly flammable, I couldn’t purchase it in Australia and take it home with me either! Fortuitously, some years later, I chanced upon a recipe for homemade vanilla fridge wipe in Donna Hay Magazine (in Issue 17, to be precise). Since then, I’ve been happily whipping it up at home.

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Nigel Slater’s chocolate beetroot cake: one of the best chocolate cakes I made

 

Putting vegetables in baked treats is not uncommon as they add moisture to the bake. We have shredded carrots in carrot cake and sliced zucchini in muffin – but beetroot in a chocolate cake? As I was watching Nigel Slater (in Simple Suppers) make a beetroot cake, I was going “what the hell was he thinking?”.

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Passion fruit curd pie

Or as it is known in my family – ¨Postre de Boris¨ (Boris’ dessert)

Boris was once the boyfriend of my fantastic cousin Ximena, who has always been a trailblazer and is a fixture on my list of girls to follow. Not only is she an expert bamboo taxonomist, a flower connoisseur and the head of a newly converted organic coffee farm but she is also a student of life and a beautiful strong soul.

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A delicious and nutritious roasted vegetables tray bake

A bowlful of roasted spuds would qualify as comfort food for most. My perfect potato nugget is crisp on the outside, creamy and fluffy on the inside, cooked in olive oil, and seasoned generously with sea salt and black pepper. My cheeky son, A, doesn’t quite fancy white potatoes, but absolutely adores sweet potatoes. Roasting intensifies their sweetness, turning them super caramelised and downright addictive. He prefers sweet potato fries/nuggets to steamed rice anytime, and requests for them about once a week. I’m always happy to oblige, considering how nutritious they are.

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Japanese Home Cooking Class

Haru Cooking Class: A lesson in Japanese home cooking in Kyoto

Japanese Home Cooking Class

Japanese home cooking may be pretty simple, but if you haven’t had the chance to witness the actual practice of preparing the dishes, there are always nuances that are lost when you just follow a recipe. This is often exacerbated by the inevitable inaccuracies of translation. How you work out what kind of starch is used to dust tofu for frying, gauge whether oil has been heated to the right temperature for deep frying tempura or whether you’ve wrapped your gyoza correctly is made so much clearer when an expert shows you how to do it and talks you through the process as you try your hand at it. It’s doubly useful when the person guiding you speaks the same language that you do. This is why Haru Cooking Class in Kyoto is such a gem of a find.

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Japanese roll cake

Pantry Basics: Roll Cake (ロールケーキ)

Japanese roll cake

When my toddler, T, had his first taste of this roll cake his wee face broke into a wide smile that lit up his eyes and entire face. Like him, I can’t seem to get enough of this light-as-a-feather roll cake. Asian incarnations of the Swiss roll are decidedly lighter than their European forebear. The Japanese, in particular, have catapulted the roll cake (ロールケーキ or ro-ru keiki) into another stratosphere. Their roll cakes tend to be lightly, rather than assertively sweetened. And they have a soft, delicate texture and moist, fine crumb I absolutely love. I was heartbroken when the Arinco stall in the basement of Ion where I had indulged in many a salted caramel roll cake air-flown from Japan closed down.

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Totto-ed: Ramen hot spot with broth that you want to slurp and slurp

I spotted Totto from a distance by recognizing the crowd outside. Yes, it is one of those places that have chosen to forego reservations altogether, instead preferring to have a crude pen and paper waitlist. Located in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC, this place is touted to be one of the top ramen places along with Ippudo and Momofuku (neither of which takes reservations either).