Monday, June 17, 2013

Yuzu ice cream

Attempted yuzu ice-cream over the weekend as I love the tart and fresh taste of the the yuzu fruit which looks like a cross between a lime and a Mandarin orange. Yuzu is harvested in Japan during the autumn/winter season with some Japanese even taking a hot yuzu bath to keep the colds at bay. Took the MRT to Meide-ya, a Japanese supermarket at Liang Court to see what I can source as this was probably the best place in Singapore to find all supermarket things that are Japanese. As June is not the season for yuzu, I had to make do with a small little bottle of yuzu concentrated juice costing around $14 which is rather expensive for a miniature bottle. Content wise, it says pure yuzu juice and salt. Well, at least it doesn't come with the whole baggage of chemicals and preservatives. Made a little custard from milk, cream and eggs but a little lapse from answering an sms gave me "scrambled eggs" instead of a nice, smooth custard. Threw away the first batch including the little precious 4 teaspoons of yuzu juice that I've added in. The second attempt was much better and gave me a wonderful batch of creamy yuzu ice-cream.

I love experimenting in the kitchen with new ingredients. Not everything comes up roses but each failed recipe makes me learn and I get even better at it the next time.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tropical fruits

Langsat - sour and sweet when ripe... wonderful ! 


It's the season for tropical fruits. We used to have these fruits in abundance when Singapore was less urban but now, we import them mainly from Thailand and Malaysia. An after meal favourite for me and my family and my husband in particular is the langsat fruit. He never fails to buy them in bags and devours them 1 kg at a time. For someone who doesn't quite like vegetables, fruits are a good alternative. Langsat is one of the most unglamorous fruits ever in terms of appearance, but they have quite a unique sweet and sour taste. As for the rambutans, I remember a British tourist stopping me on the road some years back asking if I knew where to find a red fruit that looked like a hairy strawberry. Took a while for me to figure that out. Oops ! Guess it was the rambutan.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cafe Pal : Modern Thai

Oolong tea with pomelo and yuzu

Lychee tea

Freshly baked and soft orange chiffon cake that came with a chocolate dipping sauce

Met a friend for tea and cakes at Cafe Pal in Middle Road (close to Shaw Towers at Beach Road) , a place which also serves Thai food from a nearby restaurant. While the decor of the place was simple, you could see the effort put into the tea and the bakes. Reminded me of how the Japanese would go to great lengths for the little touches that would make the difference.  The chiffon cake was fresh and soft while the fruit teas were lovely. I ordered lychee tea which was very refreshing but what was really good was the blend of oolong, pomelo and yuzu which my friend ordered.  

Loved the presention too. The teas were served in glass teapots with flower teacups and saucers. They had little cornflake cookies on the side with simple and beautiful leaves adorning it. Must come back again for the Thai food and of course the fruit teas. 

Cafe Pal 
43, Middle Road #01-100, Singapore 188952

A Minton tea cup

"It's a Minton, a very special antique piece," said the vendor at Portobello market in London. He was packing up for the day as I was making my way out of the market but somehow this cup and saucer caught my eye. It was a little chinoiserie, a little art deco and the colour was quite unique - a reddish orange or some say vermilion. The Minton group contributed greatly to the Art Nouveau movement in the 1890s with its beautiful majolica tiles popularly called Peranakan tiles in Singapore. Minton made fine China too and as much as I was rushing off, this beauty had to be added to my collection. 

Geylang Serai market

I used to hate going to the wet market as a child as I remembered how smelly it was when live chickens were kept in cages and slaughtered on site. Thank goodness that practice has long stopped, making a trip to the wet market more enjoyable without the stench in the air. Now, a trip to the wet market at least once a week is a necessity to buy the freshest produce. The relationships with the fishmonger, the butcher, the fruit seller give it a more human touch and it is just not the same when buying from the supermarket.

I love going to different wet markets to check out the produce and each has its own speciality according to the customers from the area. Kandang Kerbau market which is in Little India is best for for mutton, beef and spices. Some of the sellers there have also adapted to the changing tastes of Singaporeans . There is a vegetable stall that sells Western salad leaves like arugula and rocket leaves by weight and plays Italian opera music in the background while another has all you need for Thai and Vietnamese dishes. Geylang Serai Market is another of my favourite market. They have the best supplies of keropok, buah keluak (an Indonesian nut) as well as sea food such as mussels, crabs, prawns and squid. Though cheap, all the stalls do not clean the fish upon purchase unlike other markets.

Most people today would prefer to shop at the supermarket even for fresh produce like fish but for me, it is never quite the same. My mum would always look forward to going to the market where she would meet her neighbours and market vendors. She insisted on going even when she was ill. With the big supermarkets muscling in, I do hope that wet markets will still have a future. Look at the fate of the once ubiquitous neighbourhood provision shops and how they have lost ground to the big supermarkets. Another huge factor - most children of market vendors and even food hawkers are unwilling to take over due to the nature of the job.  

Singapore has changed so much in recent years and with modernisation and the influx of many foreigners, we have lost much that was familiar to us. Some things are worth treasuring such as the neighbourhood communities built up over the years at the market.
No Facebook or Twitter, just face to face socialising at its best. I am a mix of both worlds, old enough to remember all these and yet young enough to go a little digitial. But I do hope the tradition of wet markets will continue for years to come.

Making the most of the mango season

Blend the ripe mangoes into a fine pulp

Freshly churned mango ice-cream 

Mangoes are pure delight ! Exotic, fragrant, succulent, juicy, fleshy, refreshing - the adjectives are simply overflowing. And when its mango season in Thailand, a bountiful supply makes its way to Singapore. On average, each mango costs around $1 when the season is at its peak and it is my favourite family fruit to end a meal. When we go overboard with the mangoes, I would make ice cream with it blending the mangoes with a home made custard base of cream, egg yolks and sugar. It is then churned in the ice-cream maker for a delicious home blend, pure without any preservatives.