Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Happy Birthday. Singapore

You know a show is good when it literally moves you to tears.

...

Happy birthday.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Shark (Sketch)

I feel that this blog has insufficient sharks.



Saturday, 27 May 2017

Chilli Flower

Found this in my drafts - a photograph of a flower on my chilli plant, from early February. It has since borne fruit and many more flowers, but this first one remains special to me. 


Apropos of nothing, I recently visited the River Safari, and had the opportunity to touch a live horseshoe crab. There was also a starfish that was more popular with the children, but personally, starfish pale in comparison to the living fossil that has been virtually unchanged for 450 million years. Also, horseshoe crabs have blue blood (royalty??) which is used in some biological assays. Meeting a real one was a very nice moment.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Pineapple Tarts

It's already the Ides of March! Where is the year going.

I love pineapple tarts (the "golden pillow" variety), but they are both seasonal and really quite expensive. Making my own sounded like a great idea!

Pineapple Tarts (makes 30-45)
Adapted from this recipe. 

Filling
565 g (340 g drained) can of pineapple chunks
100 g granulated sugar, plus extra
1 1/2 – 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 – 1 1/2 tsp tapioca starch

Tart pastry
300 g all-purpose flour
75 g cake flour
50 g icing sugar
2 tbsp corn or tapioca starch
1/4 tsp table salt
220 g Golden Churn unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 egg yolks, divided
1 tsp water

To prepare the filling, drain pineapple. Place in a blender and pulse briefly until crushed. In a non-reactive saucepan, combine pineapple and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in lemon juice, and extra sugar to taste. Add tapioca starch to thicken to desired consistency. Cool to room temperature before use.

To prepare pastry, whisk flours, icing sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside. Cream butter using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Fold in vanilla essence using a spatula. Add two egg yolks and beat until combined.

Using a whisk, slowly beat in half of the flour mixture. Add remaining flour and beat with a wooden spoon until just combined. Scrape pastry dough together and knead 1–2 times to form a ball.

Divide dough into 30–35 balls (about 20 g each). To make each tart, press down on each dough ball to form an indentation. Place 1/2 – 1 tsp pineapple filling into the indentation and pinch shut. Roll lightly between the palms to form a pillow shape. If desired, decorate with a fork.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Whisk remaining egg yolk with water. Place pineapple tarts on a parchment-lined baking tray and brush with egg yolk glaze. Bake 15–20 minutes until golden-brown.

Notes

Theoretically, cornstarch can be used to thicken the filling, but I don't like to use it in fruit fillings because it tends to dull the flavour. Besides tapioca starch, potato starch also works well.

Golden Churn butter is magic and doesn't turn into oil at Singapore room temperatures. I strongly recommend this brand for this particular recipe.

The cake flour helps with the "shortness" of the dough, it can be replaced with plain flour mixed with 1–2 tbsp rice flour. Gluten-free flour would probably work, too.

I haven't tried this yet, but I think a touch of almond essence would help with the flavour. Perhaps 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, and 1/2 tsp almond essence. Other things I'd like to try: different glazes (the egg yolk glaze is very eggy), using silken tofu instead of egg yolks in the pastry, adding cheese powder to the pastry.


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Lemon Curd (Egg-Free)

I could have sworn that I had posted this long ago... Anyway, here is some egg-free lemon curd that, with further substitution, can be made vegan.

Lemon Curd (Egg Free)
Loosely adapted from this orange curd recipe.

Ingredients
180 - 250 ml juice from 2 lemons
Zest from 1 lemon
30 ml aquafaba
50 g silken tofu
150 g granulated sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp gelatin
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Pinch salt

Over medium-high heat, simmer lemon juice until reduced to about 60 ml. Stir in zest; set aside.

Blend aquafaba and tofu until smooth. Whisk in sugar until incorporated. Stir in cooled lemon juice and gelatin.

Return to medium heat. Whisk constantly until curd has thickened to a pudding-like consistency (about 10 minutes).

Strain curd, if desired. While still warm, stir in butter and salt. Transfer to a clean, airtight jar and keep refrigerated.

Notes

Add more or less gelatin to adjust the firmness of the curd. For the above recipe, 1/4 tsp gelatin makes a spreadable curd but not too sloppy curd, while 1/2 tsp is a little closer to jelly.

Adjust the amount of sugar to taste (I only use 100 g, because I like a more tangy curd).

Friday, 10 February 2017

KFC Chizza

So I tried KFC's newest offering. The Chizza is a cross between fried chicken and Hawaiian pizza. Or, if you prefer, chicken parmigiana with pineapple.


It's not terribly big; the box is about 15 by 15 cm.



Compared with other pictures I've seen, mine looks pretty attractive! It's at least vaguely heart-shaped.



And here is a cross-section. The Chizza is composed of a battered chicken fillet - original recipe, judging by the taste - topped with tomato sauce, chicken ham, pineapple chunks, a proprietary cheese sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Did I mention that it's basically chicken parmigiana?

In spite of its dubious appearance, the Chizza is actually pretty good. The chicken is standard KFC fare, juicy with a crisp crust. The tomato sauce is unexpectedly excellent, a good balance of tangy and sweet. The cheeses, ham, and pineapple come together nicely without overwhelming the taste of the chicken base. Since it doesn't contain much in the way of carbohydrates, it's not too heavy, and it's not terribly greasy either.

I do recommend using a fork and knife, because it is pretty messy and difficult to hold. Also, at S$5.10 à la carte, it is on the expensive side. Nevertheless, it's worth trying at least once. I might go get another one, when the hype dies down a bit. (When I was at KFC, practically everyone was ordering a Chizza. Or multiple Chizzas. The staff really had to rush around. It was crazy!)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

MRT Announcements

Rest in peace, Mrs. Melson.