Cafe Hopping, Food

Cafe Hopping: Strangers Reunion

The thing about not being a student anymore is I now have the spending power. I don’t mind going somewhere a little bit more expensive to read and chill over coffee with my girlfriends. Since last Friday was Teachers’ Day, I met up with my other teacher friends to talk over coffee. I wanted to bring them to Strangers Reunion since everyone has been raving about it. Also, I wanted to start on the 20 cafes I should be visiting in Singapore. Might as well explore my own country as well, right?

The place was cosy, not too posh or fancy. In fact, it was a bit rustic. I liked that they made use of natural lighting as much as possible. Netizens have been talking about the coffee, but I didn’t feel like having any that day. Hannah and Izzati did get some caffeine so I shared some with them.

ImageThe menu

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Hannah’s Piccolo LatteImage

Izzati’s Flat White

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My Buttermilk Waffles with Strawberry Maceration!Image

Hannah’s Apple Pie
ImageAnd Izzati’s Strawberry Almond Flan

We enjoyed the coffee as much as we loved the desserts. Their buttermilk waffles deserved two thumbs up! I love love love the soft and buttery waffles. Plus the strawberries were sweet and juicy! Would I come back here? Hell yes! I should try other things on their menu too, like the matcha cake. YUM.

Strangers Reunion

Address: 37 Kampong Bahru Rd, 169356
Phone: 9368 3610
Opens daily: 9:00 am–10:00 pm

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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Magnolia Bakery’s Orange Vanilla Cupcakes

Every September, I am reminded of Earth, Wind and Fire’s September. It’s a much happier song than Wake Me Up When September Ends. Like seriously.

Anyways, I bought myself At Home with Magnolia from Book Depository some time last month. I meant to buy The Complete Magnolia Bakery cookbook, but as usual, I forgot about my ability to read and purchased the wrong book. It was a detour from my main intention of going on Book Depository – I needed to purchase The Cuckoo’s Calling – and hence buying the wrong book was the retribution. I’ve not tried any other recipe from Magnolia Bakery before, let alone taste the actual cupcakes. Since I can’t fly myself to New York right now, I might as well make myself some really good cupcakes. I’m so over the Red Velvet and Salted Caramel cupcake phase. THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN RED VELVET CUPCAKES, PEOPLE.

Moving on. Someone gave Ibu oranges during Eid when she had her friends over (happening sia mak aku), but she’s too terrified of sour oranges (so am I, actually) thus I decided to salvage them oranges and make them edible. I was initially skeptical of the recipe, both the cupcake and the frosting. I was *this* close to making my normal Chantilly cream frosting, but I figured WHY WASTE THE MONEY BUYING THE BOOK, THEN? I have to keep forcing myself to break the norm and actually challenge myself. Even when it comes to cooking and baking.

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I reduced the amount of sugar for both the cupcakes and the frosting because I know how sweet-toothed American recipes tend to be. Needless to say, I don’t think I need to fly myself to New York now. These babies will suffice.

Orange Vanilla Cupcakes

1 and half cups self-raising flour

1 and a quarter cups plain flour (I used cake flour)

1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

2 cups sugar (I used 1 and 3 quarter cups)

1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

4 large eggs

1 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

  • Preheat oven to 175 deg centigrade. Line two muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and zest gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the orange juice and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Frosting

3 tablespoons plain flour

1 cup whole milk (DO NOT USE SKIM/LOW FAT MILK. I REPEAT, DO NOT)

1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

  • In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously and mix until fluffy, for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well.
  • Add the cooled milk mixture and beat for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably white in color. Add in a bit of coloring if you’d like. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (I skipped this step!). Use immediately to frost the cupcakes.

PS: I finally made myself a wooden board for my food photos! 😀

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Food

A Foodie’s Journey

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This is supposed to be a food blog. This is supposed to be where I share with the internet what baking frenzy I’ve been up to. This is supposed to be where I try recipes from around the world and share it with you guys.

I miss baking, and I miss taking photos of my bakes. Time as a working adult is very precious, especially now that I prioritize gym over baking. I still cook, but mostly to satisfy a hungry stomach.

So here I am, looking back at my old photos realizing that I’ve come a long way in terms of baking and photography. I’ve always wanted to have a blog like Kak Rima or Pick Yin where each page is adorned with beautiful photos of food and awesome recipes. I need to remind myself it doesn’t happen over time. Good things come to those who wait and put in effort. So that is what I shall do.

I’ve pretty much mastered the art of baking cakes and cupcakes. Cakes are easy, really. I still don’t have the guts to make pastries and puddings or hotel-like desserts. Macarons? Don’t even think about it. I’ve tried making them twice and failed miserably. Cookies and Eid treats? Umm.. I don’t have the patience to make them.

As much as there’s still a lot for me to learn, I’m glad I am now able to make a decent frosting which won’t kill me or my friends and family, whip up a simple chantilly cream for basic cakes, made my mum her favorite Black Forest Gateau, make myself my favorite durian cake, and take orders for the ever popular Red Velvet Cupcakes and Salted Caramel Cupcakes.

I think I’m about done with RVCs and Salted Caramel. There needs to be a change in the trend for cupcakes. I need to experiment more. I need to throw myself into the deep end of baking and cooking. What is next, then?

I don’t know when I’ll complete this list, or even find the time to make a few of them, but I am determined to get them done.

  1. Macarons
  2. Eclairs
  3. Tiramisu
  4. Fruit tarts
  5. Nutella Swiss Roll (Izzati you owe me a lesson on this!)
  6. Kek Lapis (it’s about time)
  7. Creme Brulee
  8. Ravioli (I cannot keep going to Badoque for a plate of $17 raviolis)
  9. Fresh pasta (someone get me a pasta machine please)
  10. Rendang (yes, ibu, I think I’m ready for this)

Ten items, Sham. That’s all. Now where do I begin…

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Musings, Recipes from the Heart

Girls and Spicy Baked Pasta

I celebrated my semi freedom by making a simple baked pasta for my girls since we had a mini post exams celebration with an arts and craft session. We’ve been friends for so long (nearly a decade!) but our hidden talents only surfaced as of late when we’re more relaxed and not so consumed with studying for exams. Our talents are such a surprise to each of us – painting, sewing, scrapbooking, and glass painting. We couldn’t take much pictures, though. Well, considering that we stayed up till 1am talking and crafting our handiwork.

I have always loved baked pasta, and upon discovering how easy it is to make it yourself, I stopped ordering baked pasta whenever I’m at restaurants. Hmm. Actually, I stopped ordering a lot of things when I learned how to cook. Knowing that I can replicate a dish so much better than a purchased one makes me think twice about my food orders. This baked pasta, as with my other béchamel sauced dishes, is a special one. I add a little secret ingredient that offsets the creaminess and richness of the cheese sauce.

Garlic. That’s my secret ingredient. My mum loves cheese, but too much cheese makes her puke. She can never finish an entire piece of baked pasta or lasagna if she bought them outside. Since I started adding garlic to my white sauce, she took second helpings. And I truly enjoy seeing her eat. She a strong Malay taste for things. Making her eat Italian food took some coaxing, but I’m glad she’s loving it now.

I saw my friend posting a picture of her baked pasta on Instagram, and suddenly I got a huge craving for it. Googled some recipe check and settled for a combination of recipes. Pardon my instructions, cooking is a difficult skill to teach because some things cannot be conveyed in words. I’d rather teach you all to make this live, or over the telephone, but hey, this will do.

Ingredients for red sauce:

1 packet of large shell pasta (500g)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 big red onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

500g ground meat (I substituted with sliced sausages)

2 cans of diced tomatoes (400g)

1 cube of beef/chicken stock (I used beef)

2 teaspoons of dried oregano

2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for béchamel sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons plain flour

2 garlic cloves

1 litre full cream milk (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE WITH LOW FAT)

200g cheddar cheese, grated

150g mozzarella cheese, grated

salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:

200g grated cheddar

150g grated mozzarella

Bacon or pepperoni slices

50g Parmesan

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees centigrade.
  2. In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil, add chopped onions and saute till fragrant, before adding garlic.
  3. Add in meat, and cook till browned. Add in chopped tomatoes, stock, oregano and cayenne pepper. Cover the pot and allow the sauce to thicken for about 20-30 minutes. Add in salt and pepper to taste, then turn off heat. Set aside.
  4. Cook pasta according to instructions on package.
  5. In another pot, melt butter, and add in garlic, saute till fragrant. Add in flour and quickly whisk the mixture till a thick batter forms.
  6. Add in milk, stirring or whisking constantly. Add in both cheese, and stir until the cheese has melted. Once cheese has melted and a thick white sauce is formed, turn off the heat and set aside. (Note: Important that the bechamel sauce is removed from the heat)
  7. Drain pasta and put into a casserole dish or pyrex. Stir in red sauce, and coat all of the pasta. Pour bechamel sauce onto the pasta and red sauce mixture. Do not stir in the bechamel sauce. Leave the sauce to seep into the nook and crannies of the pasta.
  8. Level the top and spread remaining cheese and pepperoni slices as the topping. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until cheese on top has melted.
  9. Serve!
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Recipes from the Heart

Fudgy Brownies

It’s the morning of my first exam for my almost final semester in university, and I’m pretty darn excited for it. I just cannot wait to finish the exams and start baking again. I have, over the past two weeks, baked out of stress, out of the need to release the tension. But they have resulted in flat cakes and dry cupcakes. Well, at least I got to spend time in the kitchen.

This is another recipe off my tumblr. I made it sometime in February this year, for fun and decided to give them away to random uni-mates I bumped into in school. Las year, I did a fundraiser with a group of friends and sold close to thirty boxes of these babies. Trust me, they are super delish, and cheap too if you ask me!

I got this recipe from the Joy of Baking. It’s the same brownies recipe I used for the bake fundraiser I had last year. I altered the recipe a bit and trust me, this is the best brownie recipe evaaaa.

Ingredients:

5 ounces (150 grams) Dark Chocolate (I used Cadbury Old Gold cos they were on sale!!)

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 tablespoons (15 grams) cocoa powder

1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar

1/2 cup (100 grams) caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3 large eggs

3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a nonstick cooking spray) an 8 inch (20 cm) square pan, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment or wax paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar . Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, stir in the flour, salt and chocolate chips (if using).
  3. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out witha little batter and a few moist clumps clinging to it. Do not over bake. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled. These freeze very well.

I have to make do with updating this space slowly with old content, but I’m hoping to try out some new recipes and take new photos once the exams are over. And boy, I am so excited! Happy Monday everyone! And for those of you taking your exams, may the odds be ever in your favour! 😉

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