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Welcome to my blog. I created this blog with the intention of sharing my views on travel, food, books & movies which are among my top interests. From time to time it may include some ramblings as well!

Please contact me if you are interested in submitting guest posts. Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recipe of the month: Vegetable Pulao

It's time for a recipe that is very close to my heart. This is a recipe for Vegetable Pulao that I have been making for the past 6-7 years. Every single time I make Pulao at home, it is this recipe that I turn to, so in a way, it is my go-to recipe. I've made it on countless occasions when I've had guests at home and I very frequently get asked the recipe Since it works so well for me, I haven't changed a thing and have continued to make it the same way over the years. Why mess with a good thing no? 

This recipe does have some history attached to it. Immediately after I got married, I was a housewife for a while. I had just graduated from dental school and I was quite frankly quite fed up with studying and working. Since I was always highly enthusiastic about cooking, I used that short phase of my life to learn all the basic recipes that my mum and MIL had perfected over the years. One among them was this recipe for Vegetable Pulao. This is my MIL's recipe and it is one of her signature dishes. My husband was very eager that I learn this recipe from her and he used to frequently bug me about it. I did eventually learn it but the first few times I made it, the feedback I would always get is that - "its good but it tastes a bit different from mum's". I had no idea what I was doing differently. My MIL uses a mixture of two different pulao masalas for this recipe. One from Everest and one from MTR. This combination, gives it a distinct flavour that you do not get if you just stick to one masala. She also uses fried bread cubes as a kind of garnish which gives it a different twist and something my hubby really loves. I guess the saying 'Practice Makes Perfect' is true because as I continued to strive to get it right and eventually succeeded to get it to taste like her version (don't ask me how though coz I have no idea...hahaha).  

I use an equal proportion of basmati rice and regular rice i.e. sona masoori in this recipe. There are certain kinds of rice dishes that I make for which I use an equal ratio of these two varieties of rice. I just like it better that way. But then again, there are other kinds of rice dishes where I exclusively stick to either basmati rice or regular rice. You can use whatever rice you like but be mindful that the quantity of cooking liquid would change (more details on that as you read on). 

Here is the recipe. It is slightly labour intensive but the good thing with any pulao is that it is a one pot meal and all you need is a simple raita and some crunchy element on the side and your meal is ready!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Restaurant review: Dinner Buffet at Cafe Mosaic @ The Carlton, Singapore

Cafe Mosaic is a contemporary cafe located at level 1 of the elegant Carlton Hotel in Singapore. This restaurant is touted as a place where Asian and Western culinary favourites are brought together to give diners a taste of what the best of Singapore has to offer. From their menu, Cafe Mosaic presents a kaleidoscope of culinary choices in their buffet as well as on their à la carte menu.

I became aware of the buffet at Cafe Mosaic only after my boss asked for suggestions for a dinner venue to treat all of us to celebrate her being granted tenure at my University. A few of my colleagues had been to the buffet and so it was highly recommended. The 1-for-1 buffet promotion for Citibank, DBS/POSB and UOB Cardmembers was another compelling reason to pick this restaurant for the venue. We made a reservation on a Friday evening for 16 people which was handled efficiently so after work, we all headed in a big herd towards Carlton Hotel.

The hotel is beautiful and has an air of sophistication. Since we reached the hotel before 6:30pm, we waited for a while in the waiting area of the main lobby until the restaurant opened for service. BTW, the restrooms are located just outside the restaurant and they are super clean

The restaurant is a decent size and is somewhat compartmentalized. The decor is pleasing and the lighting is ample. We caught a glimpse of the spread as we made our way towards our table and it looked impressive indeed! 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Baker's Corner: Mixed Vegetable Pizza with Roasted Garlic White Sauce

Today was a really nice day. Apart from being a weekend, it was one of those days that me and hubby decided to make pizza from scratch at home. We don't cook together very often (either I take over completely or he does) so its kinda fun when we become kitchen collaborators. To be fair to him, he did 80% of the work with me only chipping in between....hehehe. Whenever we make pizza at home, we take our own sweet time and the whole process from start to finish can take up a considerable chunk of the morning. It doesn't really feel like a chore but a fun kind of art project! (the cleaning up is however a different story altogether!). We decided to make two different pizzas today - one Margherita Pizza with Marinara Sauce and the other, a Mixed Vegetable Pizza with a Roasted Garlic White Sauce. We came up with the latter pizza as a contrast to the regular pizza that we make all the time which has the same ol' tomato-based sauce.

We previously tried making a pizza sauce using mayonnaise (inspired from a 'cool lime mayonnaise' sauce on a pizza at Pizza Hut) but I didn't like it because I don't really like mayonnaise in general. I don't mind it in really small quantities in sandwiches, burgers, wraps and stuff but a heavy hit of mayo is not my thing. My husband began searching for an alternate white sauce and found Emeril Lagasse's Roasted Garlic White Sauce which looked really appealing. The Marinara Sauce that we make for the Margherita Pizza is also adapted from Emeril's recipe so we have a tendency to trust any recipe of his. It is a really simple recipe but takes some time to make only because you need to roast a whole bulb of garlic in the oven. But the resultant sauce is smooth, thick, spreadable and has great flavour so I think it is totally worth the extra time. 

We chose a bunch of random toppings like bell peppers, mushrooms, red onions and pineapple chunks but you can customize your toppings depending on what you like. You could throw in some sweet corn kernels,  baby corn, olives, zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, fresh mango, a choice of greens....basically whatever you like. The pizza tasted really great and I'm pretty sure it will feature as a regular in our household from now on. The crust turned out a little thicker than what we expected so rolling the dough out to a larger size is what we should have done to get it absolutely perfect. Oh well! There is always a next time to improvise :)

I'm going to skedaddle out of here now. Check out this recipe, try it and let me know if you like it!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Recipe of the month: Quesadillas with homemade Salsa and Guacamole

I haven't been cooking much lately (yeah that statement sounds strange to me even as I type!). I've kind of somewhat lost my cooking mojo! But it is just a passing phase so I'm not too flustered by it. I still do find the interest to bake occasionally but the cooking bug has crawled aside for the time being. I had plenty of draft posts ready that I had the good sense of creating during my cooking highs so that has really been my saving grace...hehehe. I think the last blogworthy dish that I cooked was the Dabeli which was way back in April (I posted it on the blog only much later). After that....zero....zilch....nada!

Anyway, ever since my husband (I call him 'A' remember?) contributed his Margherita Pizza as a guest post to my blog last year, I have been bugging him to feature another one of his recipes. There are lots of dishes that he exclusively churns out in our kitchen that I really REALLY like such as Quesadillas with Salsa and Guacamole, Jalapeño Poppers, Thai Green Curry, Mushroom and Pea Risotto, Penne in a Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce, Papdi Chaat, Paneer Butter Masala, Egg Biryani and so on. He makes these signature dishes for me usually over the weekend - on a leisurely Friday or Saturday weekend. While he is hard at work chopping, dicing, sauteing and serving, I'll be propped on the sofa watching some lame show on tv (and not helping one bit!). Yeah....I so look forward to those weekends!

I've already chronicled our love for Mexican food in the past so I'm not going to go there today. I like salsa but it is the guacamole that really does it for me. I can polish off a large bowl of guacamole all by myself....a bagful of tortilla chips and I am good to go! We have chips and dip at home quite frequently but occasionally hubby also makes Quesadillas to go along with it. I acquired the taste for Quesadillas from Blooie's Roadhouse, an American pub/restaurant on Upper Bukit Timah Road that was walking distance away from our previous rented condo. We used to go there ALL the time and we would always order the Quesadillas and Jalapeno Poppers without fail. When it comes to Quesadillas, I like them simple. I know of people stuffing them with refried beans, mushrooms, avocado, bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, ground spices, herbs and other stuff but I just like them to have grated cheese and nothing else. That's how it is done in Blooie's and that is how it is made in my home as well.

So, here is my husband's recipe for Quesadillas with homemade Salsa and Guacamole. I am responsible for the photos in this post this time round and I feel they didn't do any justice to his dish (boo!). But I can vouch for the flavour so you will have to believe me that it is good!

'A' will be taking over now.....bye y'all!

Hello again readers! I am back on this space after a gap of around 1 year. As I've mentioned before, cooking is something I enjoy....writing not so much. That may be the reason why even though this photographs and recipe for this dish were ready months ago but it is being published much later. I had a few dishes in mind that I was considering to feature as part of my next guest post and among them, Quesadillas with Salsa and Guacamole was one of them. This is a dish that I make frequently at home and it something that both me and my wife enjoy immensely.

My introduction to Mexican food began way back in India but it was only truly during my stint in the US when I truly began to get further acquainted with this marvellous cuisine. On a brief visit to Mexico in 2008, I was able to appreciate the freshness of the ingredients, bold flavours and colorful presentation of several popular Mexican dishes. In particular, authentically made Salsa and Guacamole were two dishes that left me with a yearning to recreate them at home.

Making Salsa and Guacamole at home is pretty easy. It is just a matter of gathering the ingredients and chucking them into a bowl. Quesadillas don't even take that much time or effort especially if you are using store-bought tortillas (a 10-year old could do it). Sounds good doesn't it? Rest assured that this entire dish can come together in under an hour. Serve it to your family or while entertaining friends at dinner parties and it is sure to be a big hit.

So please go ahead and check out the recipe....


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Restaurant review: Mai Thai @ Chip Bee Gardens, Singapore

Me and my girlie gang spasmodically go out for dinner on birthday celebrations but since the past few months we've all been so preoccupied that our outings kept getting postponed until we realized that there were not one but THREE birthdays that were pending celebration. Not wanting to push it any further, we finally settled on a date where all of us were available (no mean feat that was!). The date being finalized, the next tricky bit was to pick the cuisine and restaurant. One of the birthday girls, expressed her inclination for Thai food and since all of us happen to be Thai cuisine enthusiasts, the choice was unanimous. Even though Singapore has many Thai restaurants, none of us had an absolute favourite so it required a little bit of brainstorming before we arrived at Mai Thai at Chip Bee Gardens, Holland Village. 

Established in July 2009, Mai Thai Restaurant is a casual fine dining restaurant with both indoor and alfresco seating, offering authentic Thai cuisine and warm hospitality in the rustic Chip Bee Gardens just opposite Holland Village. The location was super convenient for us because of its proximity to our workplace. We made a reservation in advance for 8 people, something I would recommend especially on a busy Friday evening. 

On arrival, we found that our reservation was in someone else's name so there was a little bit of a muddle before we were shown to our table. The restaurant isn't very big but the interiors are pleasing to the eye with subtle Thai influences. The largely white decor is interspersed with Thai-inspired art work, statues, rustic table setting and warm lighting. 

The restaurant seemed short of staff so it took a while before we got the menu. Talking about the variety of food, the menu of the restaurant is very impressive. It has an array of dishes in categories ranging from appetizers to salads, soups, rice, noodles, side dishes, drinks and desserts. What's more is that there are certain dishes that come in a large serving that is suitable for sharing and there are vegetarian versions of several popular dishes. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Baker's Corner: Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

So, I'll try not to get into an elaborate introduction to this post. All I'm going to say is that these are possibly the best cupcakes I have ever made (like seriously). I've baked vanilla, chocolate and red velvet cupcakes in the past but these babies beat all the others by a mile! For a while now, I've been exceedingly conscious of the fact that my blog has not yet featured a cupcake recipe and even though I've baked cupcakes on a few occasions in the past, I did not deem any of them worthy enough to deserve a place here.

Anyhoo, I came across this particular recipe while I was browsing through the Foodgawker gallery for a tried and tested, fail-proof cupcake recipe. We were invited to a barbeque at a friends place over the weekend and I had offered to bring in dessert. The funny thing is for the past several months, I've completely stopped making desserts (ever since I embarked on a no-sugar diet - another temporary thing that I have going on!) so in order to skip the temptation, I have been avoiding going anywhere near or even thinking about the sweet stuff. I decided to make an exception just this one time so I went full-steam ahead with my baking plans

This recipe yields cupcakes that are moist and have great flavour. The moistness of this cake comes from three ingredients - the brown sugar, oil and yoghurt. I absolutely love to use brown sugar while baking and Greek yoghurt is something that I always have in my fridge (I dig the stuff) so this recipe appealed to me all the more. The addition of carrots by no means makes this dessert 'healthy' so don't kid yourself but it has that heady 'spiced' flavour that is unique to a carrot cake. I made a critical mistake in the frosting in that I used melted butter instead of just softened butter and that led to the frosting being too runny. I managed to salvage it by adding more confectioner's sugar but that could have been easily avoided if I had paid more close attention to the recipe. So please don't be like me okay? Moving on, in order to makes the cupcakes look pretty, I made the effort to pipe the frosting as opposed to just lazily slathering it on like I usually do. The frosting held its shape reasonably well so I was satisfied in the end.

I'd like to thank my gang of BFFs for gifting me the gorgeous plates that you see in this post. You girls are the best! Okay so that is me done babbling. Go on now....make these yummy cupcakes and make a bunch of people real happy!