Saturday, April 29, 2017

Baker's Corner: Summer Tomato, Olive & Caramelized Onion Focaccia


It's the start of the long weekend! Gotta love those 💗 I have plans to catch up with family, colleagues and a close friend, cook (and stuff myself with!) lots of good food, binge watch season 12 of Grey's Anatomy and/or Sherlock with the husband, get started on a new novel and enjoy plenty of cuddles with my girls. That is more than enough to qualify for a fulfilling weekend for me 😊

Moving on, I have a nifty recipe for you to keep you busy this weekend!

It appears as if focaccia is to Italy what baguette is to France. This oven-baked salty and oily Italian bread is a delight to have on hand. Focaccia takes on different guises with aplomb. It can be served as is, alongside pasta, soups or stews, dunked in an array of dips, to make fabulous sandwiches or even as a pizza base.

Basic focaccia dough requires only five ingredients, flour, water, olive oil, salt and yeast. A simple focaccia dough lends itself to so many variations that once you master the dough, your options are endless. You can use a combination of two or more of the following ingredients (among others) to adorn your focaccia: rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic, olives, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions, bell peppers, parmesan and nuts. Focaccia is the perfect canvas for culinary experimentation but getting carried away with too many ingredients would be overkill in my humble opinion.

Pssst.....let me let you in on a secret. I really don't fancy olives much. It is an ingredient that does not enjoy a place in my fridge at any given point of time and whenever I am at a salad bar or sandwich joint, I pointedly request for olives not to be included in my order. Then why have I included it in this recipe, you ask? Well, I made this focaccia bread to take to a friend's house and while choosing the ingredients to adorn the focaccia with, I cast aside my preferences in favour of something that complements focaccia and is generally liked. So gregarious of me, no? 😝



Making focaccia at home does not require any fancy schmancy gadgets, uses inexpensive ingredients, is simple to make and turns out unquestionably impressive. For anyone intimidated by the idea of making your own bread, focaccia is a perfect place to start. And did I mention there is no kneading involved? This one delivers on every single level now, doesn't it?!

Your choice of flour depends very much on what kind of focaccia you’re looking for. Using plain flour, or even finer “tipo 00” flour will give you a softer, more tender crumb; while a mixture of strong bread flour and coarse semolina creates a more robust, chewy texture. In this recipe I have used bread flour alone with great results - a delicate crusty exterior with a soft fluffy interior.

A few things to keep in mind - this dough is really wet and that is how it is supposed to be. Once the specified quantity of flour is added, put the bag of flour back into the pantry pronto so you don't get tempted to add any more!

The secret to the best focaccia bread is great tasting olive oil. Since there is quite a bit used, the bread really takes on the flavor. Also, you have to ensure that you create lots of dimples with your finger tips into your dough and then drizzle enough olive oil into those dimples which will then get absorbed while the focaccia bakes creating a flavorful bread with a crisp crust and tender interior.

This bread is delicious eaten on the day it is baked, but it will keep for a few days and you can freshen it up in the oven for a few minutes just before serving.

I know I've rattled on for quite a bit so I will give my fingers some rest now. Besides, I do need to enjoy the long weekend too 😎

For your next baking project, take on this humble yet delicious focaccia and I guarantee it will be love at first bite!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Kids Day Out: Palawan Pirate Ship & Palawan Beach at Sentosa, Singapore

It had been a while since we had taken the kids to Sentosa. The last time was to the S.E.A aquarium and before that to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (both visits which had been a success much to my surprise!). I wanted to take them outdoors for some fun in the sun and Sentosa was the first place that came to mind. 

Palawan Pirate Ship

Did you guys know that the iconic Port of Lost Wonder in Sentosa that had ceased all operations since Dec 27th 2016, has reopened its water play area?  Due to public demand, families can now access its signature water play area – the Pirate Ship which is now goes by the name ‘Palawan Pirate Ship’.

Even better news - it is free for families to enjoy. An attractive water park with a ship, slides, a giant water bucket, water canons and the works that has no admission charge....how can young parents pass up on that! 

We reached the water play area on a Saturday morning just before opening hours in the hope that it wouldn't be terribly crowded and parked the car at the parking lot located at Palawan beach. I spotted a huge KidZania as I walked towards the water play area. KidZania Singapore offers children real-life experiences through many different role-play activities in the kid-sized city. A place I definitely want to take the kids to one day! 

Anyway, coming back to the Palawan Pirate ship, it is a water play area designed for children aged 3-10 years old. An exciting and safe place for the little ones to splash around and have a whale of a good time! There are sheltered rest areas and benches located nearby. Also, paid locker facilities, shower rooms, and nursing rooms are available for use. 

The kids immediately bolted towards the water play area and there was no turning back! I was allowed to take both of them on the water slides and they loved it so much that I was coerced to take them close to 50 times (after which I had to feign a broken back and only then they let up!). They spent a good hour and a half exploring every water feature, running and splashing to their heart's content.

Although the sky was gloomy on that day, we were fortunate that it didn't rain and the weather was quite pleasant.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Recipe of the month: Roasted Beetroot Risotto


I am aware that I slacked off last month with only two blog posts. I got busy (and also a little lazy) so that explains the drop in my usual quota. But with four draft posts currently in my cache, I'm going to make up for it folks! 😎

Having said that, let me present to you the first of the lot which happens to be a cheat post. I have done nothing more than write this short introduction and do a spot of editing which hardly took five minutes so in blogging terms it is akin to zero effort!

I realized a few weeks ago that the last guest post my husband did for my blog was way back in December 2015. Gasp and double gasp!😮 Not one to sit quietly after such an unacceptable discovery, I told him that in order to make up for the extended absence from my blog (which was purely unintentional by the way) he had to bring his A-game. How thrilled am I that he managed to do just that with this post! 

Handing over to your host for today. Adiós 🙋



Greetings readers! I'm back on this space after a long hiatus.

I have an popular savoury recipe for you today. As most of you are aware, Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. Most types of risotto contain butter, wine, and onion and the broth can be derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. This delicious rice dish represents the epitome of Italian home cooking and comfort food.

The rice is first cooked briefly in a soffritto of onion and butter or olive oil, to coat each grain in a film of fat, called tostatura; white or red wine is added and must be absorbed by the grains. When it has evaporated, then the heat is raised to medium high, and very hot stock is gradually added in small amounts, while the concoction is stirred gently, almost constantly: stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At that point, the pot is taken off the heat for the mantecatura (the point when diced cold butter is vigorously stirred in), to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible. It may be removed from the heat a few minutes earlier and left to cook with its residual heat.

Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy, but has some resistance or bite (al dente) and separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all'onda ("wavy, or flowing in waves"). It is served on flat dishes and should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. Risotto waits for no one. It is ready fresh off the stove and should be eaten immediately as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft.

Risotto is more of a technique than a dish. It has a reputation for being fussy and time-consuming and this isn’t without reason. Making risotto requires some experience and once you start the cooking process, it does require a fair bit of attention. Getting that perfect al dente texture of the rice and the right consistency can be tricky. But do all the required prep ahead of time and give it some TLC and it will give you more than your effort's worth on the dinner table. Practice makes perfect with this one!


I have been making risotto at home for a few years now and after several trials and tribulations, I've somewhat gotten the hang of it. I usually make mushroom and peas risotto or butternut squash and sage risotto but for this guest post, I have attempted something different. The recipe you see here is a roasted beetroot risotto which was inspired from a local Italian restaurant. The risotto turned out rich without being heavy, with al dente rice, a vibrant deep pink hue from the oven-roasted beets with a hint of thyme, a dollop of sour cream all adorned with shards of Parmesan and chunks of sweet roasted beets. The verdict was good enough to get it featured here!

The first time I made this dish, I crumbled goat's cheese over the risotto along with a dollop of sour cream. But I later felt that the goat's cheese was too overpowering and salty for the dish. The second time, I used only sour cream and felt it was perfect.

Keep in mind that if you are using store-bought stock, you don't need to add any salt to the risotto. The stock and Parmesan will lend all the salt you need. You may even run the risk of your risotto being salty. In such a situation the sour cream comes in very handy. So do not season without tasting first!

That's all from me for today. Till next time....

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Feet Haven: Ancient Tradition with a Modern Twist

Media Invite
How often do you spot seedy looking foot reflexology parlours located within rundown shophouses or obscure corners of old shopping centres and pass by without a second glance? If you were to ask me, I'd say - quite often. Although I am no stranger to the experience of foot reflexology, I have some serious trust issues and only visit a parlour if it has been recommended by a friend or boasts good reviews.

For the uninitiated, reflexology, also known as "zone therapy", is an alternative therapy involving gentle manipulation or pressing on certain parts of the foot to produce an effect elsewhere in the body. This mixture of healing art and science is based on the premise that an energy channel encompassing 12 vital organs exists from the feet to the top of the head. This technique is said to relieve pain, headaches, anxiety and stress, as well as increase blood circulation and boost energy. Other than enhancing general wellbeing, it is thought to be able to cure colds and other minor ailments.

When I received a kind invitation from the good folks at Feet Haven to receive a 60-min foot massage, I checked out the website and reviews and was pleased with what I came across. And the invite couldn’t have come at a better time. As a full-time working mom of twin toddlers, I am on my toes every waking minute of the day. And that particular week had left me completely knackered. A busy work week, multiple exercise regimens, meeting up with ex-colleagues, a friend’s wedding and taking the kids to a water park and then the beach had resulted in my legs feeling like lead! I was in dire need of some serious R&R.



Founded in April 2011, Feet Haven Reflexology is a boutique Foot Reflex spa offering foot reflexology and body massages to its customers. There are three outlets located in the trendy enclaves of Katong, Upper Bukit Timah and Serangoon Gardens. With its crisp fresh interiors and chilled out vibe, Feet Haven aims to banish the dull, old-fashioned reputation of foot reflexology parlours that typically attract an older clientele. The boutique spa has been generating major buzz especially among the younger crowd comprising mostly of students, young working professionals, bloggers and new parents. Accolades have naturally followed: Feet Haven was awarded the Best Foot Massage by Harper's Bazaar Spa Awards 2013 and named Best Value Simply Her Foot Spa by Simply Her in the same year. It has also been featured in popular publications including 8 Days, Cleo, Mother & Baby, Young Parents and Eastie Brekkie.

Soon after my toddlers went down for their afternoon nap, I made my way to the nearest outlet. Feet Haven’s newest offering at Bukit Timah is tucked away in a quiet little recluse of Jalan Bingka, Bukit Timah, away from the madness of the city.

As I entered the spa, the calming music playing in the background and essential oil scents wafting in the air came together to create an instantly pleasant and soothing environment.




Offering a whole range of services under one roof,  Feet Haven aims to alleviate stress and restore customers’ well-being with their therapeutic services of body treatment and reflexology.