Thursday, January 31, 2008


Bloody hell. Why did I not notice this earlier? These ladies [and gentlemen, I'm sure] are rocking!! This is earth shattering news. Dare I?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

With a huff and a puff

Today I made SARDINE PUFFS because my mom asked me to. She's absolutely mad for sardine puffs, and asks for them all the time. A while back I was crazy over puff pastry, but since I got over my fascination, I was left with a couple packets of puff pastry, and so I put them to good use and made these beautiful puffs.

A few notes on handling puff pastries in general:
  1. The secret to perfect golden brown puff pastries is to put as much egg wash on it as is humanly possible. This means that every millimeter exposed must be covered, and also that one wash is usually not enough. After the first wash dry, give it a second wash. A third if you have the patience.

  2. I don't know if everyone knows this, so I'm just putting it down; cover all exposed parts EXCEPT for the bottom, otherwise you'll have a hell of a time prying it off the tray. Also, avoid the edges of the pastry. If the egg wash get onto the pastry edge, it'll glue the pastry together and you'll get a half-stuck-half-rised frankenstein of a pastry.

  3. Most cookbooks will say that, if you are cutting shapes out of your rolled pastry, only rework the left overs once, or even not at all, as the pastry would not be able to rise evenly after that. I say, however, that unless I'm serving the President or Lee Kuan Yew himself, I am not about to waste food just because they won't rise that well. So unless I'm making vol-au-vent, I generally use up every scrap of pastry.

  4. Puff pastries dry up rather quickly, so work fast. Especially if you are reworking it, don't leave it to roll out later; they'll dry up and be no good at all.

  5. Absolutely no shame in frozen puff pastries, takes a saint to be able to whip these up everytime they need some. Just remember to take it out to thaw at least 3 hours before use.

Ok then, back to the puffs. These are really great, they taste fantastic, a snap to make [minus the time it takes to thaw], and they look sooo pretty, all golden and puffed.


Canned sardine [roughly 2 large cans of sardine, roughly 300g each, to 750g pastry]

1 large yellow onion

1 1/2 packet of frozen puff pastry

*measurements are according to what I had on hand, adjust as you like

Flake sardine, as chunky or as smooth as you like, taking as little liquid with it as possible. Chop up onions into cubes and mix into the sardine. Taste and season. That's your filling done.

Roll out pastry into desired thickness, probably around 2mm, then cut desired shapes out of it. You can do either triangles, rectangles or circles, and of varying sizes as well. You can also wrap them in a variaty of ways, but I'm lazy, so I used a pastry cutter to cut circles, fill them up and press down the edges with a fork. Take note to seal the pastries with a dab of the egg wash, or chances are they'll be gaping open when they cook and the sardine expands. Brush well with beaten egg and bake in a hot 200 degree celcius oven until golden brown, and that's it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Comfort food: Kimchi Soup

The first week of school so far has been a real bummer; first, I sprain my ankle yesterday when I miss a step on the stairs. Then today, I find out that my long cherished dream of going on exchange programme is dead. All in all, it has been a crappy 2 days, and of course, my first instinct is to turn to food. The frantic craving for something oily and deep fried, I'm sure, will come later, but first I want some Kimchi soup.

I'm sure a Korean will suffer a pulmonary attack at the way I make this soup, but I'm not in Korea and it tastes great the way I make it, so there. There are four basic components to Kimchi soup and they are highly variable.


Right, don't think I need to explain this. I don't know about other countries, but in Singapore kimchi can be found at most big supermarkets. It may be tucked far into a fridge somewhere, but most should carry it. How much to use depends on your heat tolerance and your other ingredients. I like lots of kimchi, and when cooking for myself, sometimes even omit fresh vegetables altogether and add only kimchi


You can use any kind, and any amount. Some suggestions would be cabbage, long beans, carrots, aubergines, etc


The usual, and my favorite, would be the rice vermicelli. Its a transparent, slippery and silky noodles that soaks up all the delicious flavour of kimchi, or any other soup base it is thrown into, and thus perfect here. If unable to locate, any kind of noodles, or even rice, can be used, to make kimchi porridge. How much to use depends on whether you are eating this as a soup, with other dishes, or as a one pot meal.

PROTEINS [the animal kind]

Any kind of meat or seafood can be used in the soup. Pork, chicken, beef, lamb, prawns, squid, fish, etc. A combination would taste even better. Today I'm using prawns.

Ok, this is a real simple dish which takes like 15 mins to cook. Before doing anything, start with soaking the vercemilli in water.

First, if using prawns, wash well and peel them, reserving the shells and heads.

Add suitable amount of water to the shells and heads and bring to a boil to make stock. Remove shells and heads, either by straining or picking them out. Keep the liquid simmering.

Cut up fresh vegetables, and add to stock, along with the kimchi.

Let boil for around 10 mins, then add the drained vercemilli.

Finally, just before serving, stir in the prawns. Don't let the prawns cook too long, as they will become tough, instead of springy. And there's the Kimchi soup done.

Now, with a bowl of kimchi soup and a few hours of the Lord of the Rings, I can be on my way towards recovery. What do my problems matter when compared to the ultimate fight between good and evil? Besides, which girl wouldn't be cheered by a few hours of ogling at medieval hunks, brimming with testosterone, beating the crap out of the baddies?

Monday, January 14, 2008

My latest indulgence

This is a bottle of S$30 vanilla essence that I bought because I'm sick of the generic stuff. Frankly speaking I was a little shocked at the price. Thirty bucks?! I bought it because the kindly lady assured me that it was good, and I was really grossed out by the generic stuff, and wanted to see what all the fuss about pure vanilla extract was.
Unfortunately, I have to report that so far that bottle of extract have not earned its price. The extract's flavour was much less intense than the generic stuff, bordering on bland. There was little hint of it in my cookies, even after I added an extra teaspoon of the stuff. What hint there was of it was far from extraordinary, and I actually think the generic stuff did a better job.
I'm going to pray that what was lacking was my baking skills, and not the extract, God knows my skills are abysmal. Since school has started, I have not had the chance to try the extract again, but when I do, I'll be sure to keep everyone updated.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The justification post

Here we go, following good old tradition laid down from my very first diary, foisted upon me by my mother, with her "you should have a / be a [fill in the blank]". In this case, I'm referring to my mom's idea that it would be a good idea for me to have a diary, since that's what good children do, write diaries, along with joining the girl guides [if you are a girl] and writing letters and blah blah blah. I'm not going to do the whole passe thing about blaming my mother for everything that's screwed up with my life, not now anyway, since I'm drifiting from my point.

And, the point is, every time I start a diary [including this one; I know its a blog, but that's basically a virtual diary right?], there comes a point where my initial enthusiasm for writing in it starts to wane, and I actually feel guilty and write 'justification posts', in which I justifies [yes, I know, to an inanimate object made of blended up trees and possibly cancer causing ink] why I haven't been writing. And, when I finally can't even be bothered with 'justification posts', the guilt somehow lingers. It may be impossible to see, but I assure you all the ghosts of every diary I've ever abandoned is haunting me.

Which is why I'm trying to stop abandoning this diary. This may not sound very promising to anyone who's reading, but I really am trying my best.

And here comes the justification: school's starting! And when school starts I'll be lucky to get time to breathe, normally, I mean, not the panicky-essay-due-and-I'm-so-screwed kind of breathing that's par for semesters. One thing though, I do have another post coming up, as I'll be baking up a batch of cookies for Geraldine before my last day at Freeflow, so that'll be something to see.

On a random note, I found myself craving the strangest thing yesterday. It began normally enough. It was only a short hour after lunch, which means I have no business feeling hungry, but I do. I couldn't fathom what exactly it was that I craved, so I ran through the usual list: Chips? Chocolates? Ice Cream? Soft drinks? Iced Coffee? Cookies? Cake? None of them felt right, and then it hit me. I wanted a salad. I am not joking, and I have to say this has never happened before and to say I'm stunned is to put it mildly. I am by no means a health nut, and would shoot anyone who insinuates such a travesty. Yet there it was.

Cautiously, to be sure I had not misread the signals my stomach was sending towards my brain, I made myself a salad, deciding that the only way to prove or disprove my conclusion was to eat a salad and see if my cravings were appeased. Lo and behold, it was! For the first time in my life, my stomach lusted not after something fat and sinful that I shouldn't have, but a healthy, tasty salad my mother would have been very proud of.

This is revolutionary, to say the least. I have not yet absorbed the full implications of this, event, yet, and I will be sure to share any other revelation I chance upon.