Dear family and friends,
I'll be headed to Melbourne for the next 10 days for my dearest older brother's graduation. Needless to say, I'm ultra proud of his accomplishments as we all know of it's level of difficulty and amount of commitment required. That being said... I'm so looking forward to the 10 days of fun filled activities, trekking, visits to the hot springs and so on and so forth, not to mention the feasting and the wonderful coffee there! *shudders in excitement*.
Before I depart, I shall leave you all with a sunshine recipe for a Lemon lemon loaf, recipe adapted from BAKED new frontiers in baking which produces a moist and slightly dense lemon cake filled with puckery goodness in the form of lemon juice, zest and sipped in lemon syrup. A sure keeper if you're a big chaser of the lemon.
Lemon lemon loaf
recipe adapted from baked
makes one 9x5x3inch loaf
lemon cake3/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/8 cup grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
220 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
lemon syrup1/6 cup fresh lemon juice
1/6 cup sugar
lemon glaze1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
2-3 tblspoon fresh lemon juice
1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Oil and line the loaf pan with parchment.
2) Sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.
3) Puse sugar, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until combined. With motor running, drizzle the butter in through the feed tube.
4) add sour cream and vanilla and pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
5) Sprinkle in flour mixture, a third at a time, fold in gently. Do not overmix.
6) Bake for 20mins. Reduce temperature to 170 degree celsius and bake for another 30-35 mins until toothpick comes out clean.
7) Let cool for 15mins. Meanwhile, prepare the lemon syrup by cooking the sugar and fresh lemon juice till dissolved then cook for another 3 mins more. Poke holes on top and sides of the cake and brush lemon syrup over the cake. Wait for 5 mins then brush again and let cakes cool completely.
*snaps back to reality*
I was just about to comment that the braised pork belly that I have had at Paradise Dynasty was delicious. But who am I kidding. This pales in comparison to the glorious square of inundated fats I've had with a bottle of beer previously. It was good, albeit for the less than tender meat portion at the bottom.
Paradise Dynasty is part of the Paradise group which coincidentally owns Taste Paradise which I had happily sampled previously. Despite it's name suggesting a tad more grandeur as compared to the latter; it in fact is a more wallet friendly option with slightly more casual ambience. Located on the same floor of ION shopping mall as Taste Paradise, Paradise Dynasty surprises with its varied cuisine and I applaud the Paradise group for it's ingenuity in covering the many aspects of chinese cuisine, offering patrons a unique experience in either of the restaurants.
With respect to food, Paradise Dynasty is on top of its game (versus Crystal Jade and Ding Tai Fung, with its distinctively similar menu). The Minced Meat La Mien ($7.50) served up in typically smaller portions to allow diners more room for their other offerings. Good, this dish was elevated to higher grounds with the pairing of their chili sauce conveniently found in a tiny little urn on the table.
clockwise from top left: sauteed french beans with minced meat, chilled assorted eggs, yang zhou fried rice, mixed dumplings.
The dishes above all lived up to their standards, with the 8 flavors of xiao long bao ($13.80) paving the road to the pedestal. Beautifully thin skin wrapped around a succulent bite sized ball of aromatic pork, the sweet broth, a sexy hot mess that spills into your mouth with the gently nip of the skin. What distinct the Paradise Dynasty's xiao long baos from the others is the offerings of this staple item in different unique flavors. My favourite of the lot is definitely the black truffle, the earthy taste of truffle pushing interestingly thru this combination. Look out for the other flavors such as garlic, crab roe, foie gras and szechuan!
The deep fried pork ribs( $14.00) were a major let down with its less than tender texture and the strange lingering taste of burnt garlic coating the ribs.
Have room for desserts? Then try their pan fried red bean pancake ($6.00),sweetened red bean paste wrapped in a crisp pastry. Attack the sides should you be a big fan of the anything crisp and light. Not the best I've had but definitely befitting of a sweet round up to a good meal.
Paradise DynastyION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn #04-12A
(65) 6509 9118
How do you know you're in paradise?
When a lady clad in an intricate high collared black dress with a silk screened train at the back greets you at the door in the gentlest tone and ushers you thru the gates of certain grandeur. Emerging from the golden corridors, you are greeted by pretty china plates and a gorgeous tea pot perched at the end of the table. Elegant and refined, it was surely befitting of the image the rest of ION was trying to relay.
Perusing the menu intently, met only with the constant distraction of the bustle of service staff walking all around; we came to a realisation of the overwhelming service staff to customer ratio. Our verdict, the paradise group have really set out to portray the taste paradise as a top notch, and exclusive restaurant with excellent service standards.
After much menu-pushing and squabbling, the mother and I settled on 5 dishes, mainly dim sum and some hot appetisers. First up, the crackling pork belly ($12.80); this dish was top notch with a crisp top of texture similar to toasted cereal, strange comparison I know, with innards soft and gelatinous, providing the right amount of chew factor. Placed daintily alongside a trail of mustard dots, these went down so easily and dangerously fast with the two of us.
The next dish, the XO carrot cake( $7.80) that followed was gorgeous, period. I could go on all day waxing lyrical about it but in a nutshell, it was beautifully seasoned, the yam cake, a beautiful consistency and texture and the bits of egg strewened throughout. LOVE!
Please exercise a bit of self control when ordering the xiao long bao (4 for $3.80); these were lack lustre in comparison to our usual hunts at crystal jade and ding tai fung. The steaming broth encased within the dry pastry skin lacking in dimension and flavor.
The har gao ( 4 for $4.80) was mediocre in all aspects, apart from the usage of fresh prawns within, the end product lacked a little finesse and I grunted in disapproval of its disappointing performance after the star performance of the pork belly and carrot cake.
Not meaning to sound like a sore customer but the egg tarts (3 for $3.60)were a definite spoiler. With its pastry just calling in desperation for a few more minutes in the oven for that crisp browned crust, these were also a little too small to prove their worth.
Moving on to the items worth a mention, the BBQ pork pastry(3 for $3.90). Moist generous pork fillings complimented by a buttery pastry with browned, egg glazed outer shell. Flaky, moist and rich, these are definitely worth ordering should you make your visit.
The last of our flustered order came, the crispy fried tofu and anchovies ($8.80); a towering pyramid of fried tofu strips covered in a blanket of salted anchovies. The chef's amazing mastery of heat evident from the tender yet hot tofu innards with a lightly fried outer crust.
Taste Paradise may give the impression that it is just a looker with its opulent surroundings and over the top decor; however with a well-exected menu at hand, booted with excellent service and reasonable prices; this may just be the much needed contribution into the rather stale scene in the chinese mid-priced dim sum department.
Tel: +65 6509 9660
Previously on fundamentally-flawed, the Swiss rolls took the reigns with it's tender and soft hearted centers. In this episode of 'bake it off', I decided on a macadamia nut tart, an ode to my secret love for chocolate coated macadamia nuts. Yes, I do suck on the rich coating of chocolate before chewing on the toasted macadamia nut within. Isn't that the best way of eating it? Some of you may beg to differ, but give me a box of chocolate macadamias anytime, with that oh-so-familiar Hawaiian prints on the box and I would happily suck and chew my way through it.
Back to the star of the show, the macadamia nut tart; cinnamon tart crust with a lovely rum infused custard and rich, creamy toasted macadamia nuts sprinkled throughout. I loved it thoroughly, especially the crunch of the roughly chopped nuts complemented with the sweet custard filling, the addition of malibu white rum responsible for the slight insertion of a tropical punch into the assemble. Best eaten hot, this tart could have used the help of a scoop of earl grey ice cream to really 'POP'. Pity...
on a more personal note, the heart is feeling a little sore from a recent spate of emotional rollercoaster rides. To whoever it may concern, let me remind you that what goes around comes around. Let the heavens be the witness to my sincere intentions only to be met with cruel redemption. But let me hold my peace, and leave unsaid unspoken.
Macademia Nut Tart
makes a 9 inch tart
tart crustadapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe
3 tbsp unsalted butter (40g)
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup corn syrup
135g firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp rum
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups macademia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
to make filling:
1) melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Brown butter for 10mins.
2) Strain browned butter and mix in the rest of the ingredients except the macademia nuts.
3) Preheat oven to 150°C and place tart pan on a foil lined baking sheet. Spread nuts over the bottom of the tart shell and pour filling over.
4) Bake until filling is set and golden brown on top about 45mins - 55mins.
A chocolate mousse cake that eventually evolved into Swiss roll. What are the odds?
Yes, it was a swift change of direction once a perfect sponge cake emerged from the oven. Given the temperaments of my rusty old machine, I was elated to see the emergence of an evenly browned surface from its realms. What better way to showcase this than in a Swiss roll?
Okay, so I admit I got lazy in the midst respite blooming ideas of mocha buttercream and toasted walnuts mingling in between. Instead I settled for a quick vanilla whipped cream filling with a generous drizzle of sweet sweet caramel sauce all over. A quick trip to the fridge before slicing a piece for a bit of saccharine satisfaction; thus the rough edges... This is how I roll.
see the bits of brown caramel sticking out. those are the best parts!!!
Caramel Swiss Roll
Swiss Roll Sponge Cake
adapted from Everyday Treats by Anita & Sanny @ Jam Bakery
Meringue | egg white -- 120g
| Granulated sugar -- 60g
Egg yolk -- 80g
Granulated sugar -- 20g
Vegetable oil -- 60g
Milk -- 60g
Plain flour -- 80g
Baking powder -- 1/2tsp
Baking soda -- 1/4tsp
1) Whisk egg whites with electric mixer till foamy. Add in the granulated sugar gradually and whisk until soft peaks are formed.
2)Whisk egg yolks with electric mixer at medium speed till foamy. Add granulated sugar gradually and whisk until pale yellow and stiff.
3)Pour in milk and vegetable oil and whisk well.
4)Sift in plain flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix well with mixer.
5)Add in 1/3 meringue mixture and fold well with a spatula.
6)Add in the remaining meringue mixture and fold in gently to incorporate.
7)Pour the mixture into a baking mould (13x8 inch tray lined with parchment) and smooth the surface with a scraper. Bake for 12-15 mins at 180°C.
8)When its baked and cooled, lift the cake up and peel off the baking mat.
9)Fill the roll with any flavored cream you want!
Caramel CreamBrown Sugar 50g
Whipping Cream 50g
1) Make Caramel Cream. Place sugar and cream in saucepan and bring to a boil at high heat for 3mins, constantly stirring. Lower the heat and simmer for another 2mins. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
Whipped CreamWhipping cream 120g
castor sugar 1tbsp
1) Whip cream and sugar in a chilled mixing bowl until stiff peaks form
To assemble Swiss Roll, turn cooled sponge onto a clean work surface. Peel off parchment paper from bottom of sponge. Spread an even layer of whipped cream over one side of the sponge.
Drizzle the caramel sauce over the whipped cream layer. Making sure to reach every edge of the cake. Gently roll up the sponge to make a Swiss roll. Chill in the freezer to set. Slice into even pieces before serving.
If you think that I could live the rest of my life devouring meal after meal packed full of brunch treats; then you are absolutely right! Another cross off the brunch marathon list, Verve Bar and Bistro situated at the picturesque (and might I add rather deserted) Gillman Village. Rudely stopped in our tracks by a sign that read 'Closed for Private Event' placed at the entrance above an ungainly flight of stairs leading down to the restaurant; my aunt to give a call to resolve the questionable issue.
A mistake of course since the sign was a remnant of the party previously. The lethargic, inattentive service staff, prime evidence of the busy night before.
Nonetheless,the world-weary surroundings with its laidback decor unperturbed by the hustle and bustle of the fast paced world proved to be a major draw factor for most of the diners. Despite the lack of air-conditioning, it was still rather cooling given the relentless spinning of the ceiling-mounted fans above head. One wouldn't doubt that the air was fresh just looking out the glass doors at the luscious foliage outside.
The menu was a simple affair featuring the likes of classic salads, sandwiches, pastas and mains; mostly safe combinations with a few chef's specials speckled across the board. We made our choices swiftly before settling down to luxuriate in the beauty of our surroundings.
I love complimentary bread bowls and the foccacia with olive oil and balsamic vinegar offered at Verve was excellent. Toasted to a rather peculiar stage of its life, the bread withheld a chewy texture within, in wild contrast to its crisp sides. I could have more if I wasn't bothered by my ensuing order of Verve's signature pasta, Crab in light tomato cream sauce.
My order of Pasta turned out excellent with the piquancy of the tomato toned down with the addition of cream. A lovely aroma contributed by the use of crab broth. Not to mention, the extreme generosity of the chef with the topping of crab meat. I smiled while slurping down the utter goodness of pasta, with occasional thoughts shifting to the toasted pine nuts on my order of crabmeat linguine previously at Marmalade Pantry. Pardon my infidelity.
My brother's order of Carbonara with linguine was apparently a good choice too; the sight of an empty and perhaps thoroughly licked bowl being the best testimonial of its standards. p.s. my brother is a picky eater.
The Prawn and Arugula pasta on the other hand was a major let down with the first order of linguine pasta being slightly undercooked. I wouldn't blame the kitchen given the fact that Arugula was namely stated on the main title, it should be served as a rather substantial amount. And sure enough, it was a platter fit for a cow king. After taste-testing a forkful of my rich and creamy pasta, this dish paled in comparison on so many different dimensions and as a result, made my mum one unhappy diner. At least the freshly brewed cappuccino was a consolation. *shrugs*
Our next order of Verve's signature pizza, Santino (pepperoni, spanish chorizo with baby spinach, jalapeno and fresh red chili) was a sure winner with a crust of suitable thickness, have I mentioned my strong dislike for biscuit like crusts?, and a thick crown of melted cheese with spicy chorizo discs as exclamation marks. I shall try the Enzo (peking duck pizza) on my next visit!
Finally, with desserts on my agenda, I sampled the lemon tart with ginger ice cream much to the dismay of my stuffed companions. But hey, they each had a mouthful and instantly fell in love with the tartness of the lemon filling combined with the flaky pastry encasing it. The ginger ice cream came as a real surprise to me as I would normally have shunned it but upon the unavailability of vanilla ice cream, I approached the choice of ginger with much animosity only to be rewarded in leaps and bounds. The lovely punch of heat and spice by the ginger clearing the palate for every incoming forkful of lemon pastry.
In a nutshell, Verve bar and bistro serves up an excellent selection of foods and wines perfect for an evening of romance or a lovely weekend brunch. Watch the time fly by as you kick back your heels and chill in the unworldly atmosphere of Verve. Be sure to order the pizzas too!
Block 7, Lock Road
What better way to escape the sheets of rain then to take shelter in the midst of a warm, cosy cafe, heavily perfumed with the scents of freshly baked bread and freshly ground coffee? Heeding the advice of our soaked skins and slightly hoggish stomachs, we entered the doors of 85 degree cafe situated in Yiwu, China.
Greeted by rows or freshly baked bread, we were spoilt for choice. Danish pastries, eggs nestled in french toast,Pork floss buns and all. My eyes rolled separate ways just glancing at the unnerving range of yeasted goods. I settled for the seaweed pork floss bun whereas my companion picked the brown rice pizza wrap in addition to a slice of cake each for our lunch.
The Seaweed pork floss bun featured an ethereally soft bun topped with a generous serving of melt-in-your-mouth pork floss punctured by bits of seaweed that contributed an interesting seafood punch into the mixture.
It was good, but the brown rice pizza wrap was wayyyy better. A seemingly healthy wrap made of brown rice enveloping a myriad of ingredients bearing close resemblance to a pizza. Tomato, mozzarella cheese, chicken and more... a kaleidoscope of flavors making love with each other in the most sensuous manner in your mouth.
Moving on to desserts, we had the Vanilla Napolean slice and Parmesan cheese cake. In opposition, the former emerged victorious; only because of the crunchy slices of puff pastry encased within its contrasting creamy interior. The Parmesan cheesecake was an interesting combination of sweet cream and savoury Parmesan cheese. Intriguing as it is, it lacked textural contrast due to the soggy crust resulting from the dense fillings.
In such a situation, count on your best friend to think of an idea to combine the best of both worlds in one bite. This was it... crisp puff pastry from the napolean eaten with a generous dollop of Parmesan cheese cake filling. You'll be stoked. Trust me.
Like the warm brick red hues that coat the walls, Trattoria Da Angelo in Futian, Shenzhen carries with it that generous and passionate air of elegance that translates so beautifully into its cuisine. Well known amongst the expatriates for its hearty and flavorful pastas and traditional Italian food, it's centralised location delivers the perfect solution for a comfortable dinner venue for most office workers.
From the specials board, carried around so diligently by the waiters to each newly seated table, we ordered the Pappardelle Al Ragu D Anatra - homemade pappardelle witrh ragu of duck and porcini mushrooms in light tomato sauce. Irresistibly divine, the pappardelle was cooked to perfection, the sauce carrying the right nuances of spicy, salty and balanced by the tanginess of the tomato sauce. Fresh wild rocket leaves thrown gave a hint of bitterness to the otherwise rich dish. As we slowly chomped our way through the tangled ribbons of pasta, sipping on our bottle of wine with gusto; I was amazed that the dish remained palatable and even more intoxicating despite its resonating heat dissipating into the cool winter's night.
Our other order of Filetto Alla Strogonoff - special beef fillet flambed with cognac with wild mushroom, mustard and cream sauce served with gnocchi napoletana was slightly more of a confused dish with the creaminess of the beef fillet strogonoff being slightly offensive to the delicate nature of the gnocchi coated in tomato sauce sprinkled with basil. Still, eaten separately, both components proved to be winners.
Dessert was a warm apple pie served with a scoop of vanilla icecream. Simple and lovely, the shortcrust pastry with its slightly doughy texture provided fantastic contrast to the stewed apples within its labyrinth. Paling in comparison to the standards of its pasta dishes, I would recommend that dinners give desserts a miss and indulge in an extra pasta dish instead. Just my two cents worth!
Trattoria Italiano Da AngeloGou Wu Gong Yuan (behind Coco Park), 福田区购物公司北园,235号商铺