Friday, August 31, 2012

Woohoo my first 1000 pageviews! & Dinner at Poulet, Bugis+

Yay I hit the first 1000 pageviews! Most of them would be my own daily viewing I supposed... so in my very mathematically driven mind, it would be

4 months of blogging = 1000 pageviews
- my own daily views = 4 x 30
= 880 views over 4 months
= 220 views per month
= 7 views a day

oh man.. that doesn't sound very impressive, does it? Nevermind.. it's baby steps! Trying to increase my frequency of blogging and that would also mean..

+ more baking
+ more food reviews
more eating
less time for exercise
caloric input > energy spent
You get the idea.

Still.. I will try!

Most recent pig-out happened at the suddenly-crowded, got-acquired-by-Capitaland, BugisJunction-linked mall, Bugis+.

Poulet - a French casual dining chain
Located at Bugis+, #04-12
Opened Daily 10am to 10pm

Not to be confused with the common (mis)conception that french food is always expensive and small-portioned, Poulet offers hearty and delicious french cuisine at very affordable pricing. Each of our dishes were smackingly good and even with the large portions, we licked every single plate clean, surely leaving the cleaning of crockery an easy job! 

Poulet Roti (Half Portion $15.80, Full Portion $28.80)

Poulet basically means Chicken, and therefore the signature dish is also their namesake - Poulet Roti. Brined for a full day then slow-roasted in the rotisserie, it is served with a mushroom chardonnay sauce that added a light creaminess to the tenderness of the meat. Succulent mushrooms accompanied the dish; I just wished there were more baby spinach or couple bread rolls that I can soak in the yummy sauce.  

Iberico Pork Belly $15.80
Wow.. I'm never a fan of pork belly, usually thinking that its oily and hard. But this pretty much changed my preception of 三晨肉! There wasn't much traces of fat and the pork was very soft and tender. The mustard paired beautifully with the meat, emphasing the deep braised flavor of the sauce. As much as I'm normally non-porky, I may just order this as my main next time round! 

Oxtail de Bourguignon $15.80
It's oxtail pressure-cooked in red wine sauce, and served with a whole onion and soft soft soft carrot! The meat tears away easily from the bone, you can literally see strands of beef being pulled off. A hearty dish that reminds one of a mum's home-cooked dinner. It's actually going to be tough to decide between this or the pork belly the next time.

French Onion Soup $5.80
My companions liked the soup alot though not exactly to my taste. The onion flavor is deep, however there's a herb-y taste to it that kind of stood out. The croutons were very crisp though and goes very well with the soup.

Salad de Paris $9.80

The salad is a mix of garden greens, cranberries, roasted pine nuts, olives and supposedly avocado though I didn't see any, could be buried amongst the greens. It's not too bad, but forgettable, only necessary if you need some vegetables.

now... for the DESSERTS.
Banana Bread Pudding $6.80
Typical bread pudding are drenched or rather drowned in a milk-based custard/sauce which totally overpowers the flavor of the pudding. Here, the banana speaks for itself. The fragrance of the caramelised banana slices alongside the soft but sturdy, definitely not sodden, bread pudding had me in love, at first bite.  
Caramelised Apple in Puffy Tart $7.80
This is one of the most popular desserts, recommend to order right at the start of your meal to avoid disasppointment. The flaky tart is decadent! The apple slices are thick-cut, slightly softened and not overly sweet which allows you to taste the buttery aroma of the puffy tart base. A layer of almond paste embedding the apples added another dimension, a nuttiness. This is a dessert that will make you lust for it over and again. For sure.

You would think that 3 of us would be stuffed to the max by now... and indeed we are. We had the croissants take-away for brekkie the next day! It's not on the menu but you can ask for them, to be served plain, $2 each. The menu has 2 dishes with croissant, chicken with fig or egg mayo. We saw many tables ordering those for sharing but we were simply too full.

They are made from scratch by the restaurant. Toasted them slightly the next morning and had them as is. Wow. I love that it's slightly doughy, very flaky, and check out the pockets! The dough must have been lovingly folded time and again, filled with layers of butter rolled into it. Do bring them home.. pack one for each of your family members. They will kiss you for it!

Overall, great dishes with good service. The staff comes around frequently and the chef mingles with the guests alot. This is almost a very family-styled bistro type of feel. Be prepared to queue though or go very early. They do not take reservations currently, you can stand in queue and drool first.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Healthy but Dense Cranberry Nuts Bread

Ever since I started Pinterest, my enthusiasm in bread making is re-kindled. Check out the food & drinks category of Pinterest and you'll be indulging in various pictures and forms of these yeasted carbs. Grilled cheese paninis, pulled pork ciabattas, chicken avocado on rye, buttery dinner rolls, sweet cinnamon bread, soft pull-apart parmesan monkey bread.. you get the idea right?

My version of sandwich - Carrot Tuna on Hazelnut Cranberry Rye
I pulled out my flour-encrusted, dough-spotted notes from my KL bread-making class, went off to buy all sorts of flour - bread flour, dark rye, whole wheat, lots of nuts - walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and stocked the fridge with milk, eggs and cranberries.

The journey started with me ambitiously embarking on a 500g dough recipe, with 50% dark rye, 50% bread flour. I guess I over-estimated my Kenwood mixer's capability. Barely 10 minutes into kneading, the dough hook decided to give up and went at 10x the normal speed. Bumh! Bits of dough flew all over the living room. My arms took over but either I did not knead long enough or the technique was not right. The bread did not rise well and turned out really heavy.

That was the first attempt.

My 2nd attempt was a little better. I gathered that I should take baby steps. Lower the total volume and reduce the ratio of dark rye. Googling for ideas, I picked up a Walnut bread recipe by Dailydelicious. I've always loved the walnut bread by Cedele. (My recent favourite is their soft pumpkin bread. Soft and slightly sweet. Thumbs-up!)

Off I went to try out the recipe with some tweaks. Here goes:

Ingredients (Source

188g bread flour
94g rye flour (I used dark rye)
94g whole wheat flour (can get this from NTUC)
6g instant dry yeast
260ml water
1.5 tsp sea salt
Hazelnuts halves, toasted and cooled (can be sub with any other nuts)

1. Mix flours and yeast in mixer bowl, stir to combine briefly
2. Add salt and 3/4 of the water
Note: Salt should not come into direct contact with yeast, it will kill the yeast
3. Knead with dough hook until dough reaches the windowpane stage - around 20 minutes
Note: let the mixer rest couple of times during the kneading stage to prevent over-heating of mixer
Note: Add more water if dough is too dry, up to the full amount of liquid stated above. I used almost all of the water.
Windowpane stage - read here
4. Pull dough out onto a floured silpat and round the dough into a ball
5. Leave to rise for 2 hours
The dough should have doubled in volume, as seen here:

6. Flop dough out onto floured silpat again, gently punch the air out of the dough
7. Roll out the dough, add desired amount of nuts and cranberries
Note: I soaked the cranberries in milk first to make it moist and plump
8. Shape according to preference (I shaped one long loaf and 2 breadsticks)
Note: this is a slightly dense loaf, would not be able to achieve the tall bread loaf shape ala pullman types
9. Make slits on top of loaves and sprinkle flour atop for that rustic look

10. Leave to rise for another 1 hour
Note: the dough would have risen again. It's ready to bake when you press the dough lightly and the indentation bounced back slightly but leaving a mark behind
11. Pre-heat oven to 200C

For a crusty top, do the following:
A. Place a metal (never place glass) container below the baking tray in the oven when pre-heating
B. Prepare a bowl of boiling water
C. When ready to bake, place bread inside the oven and immediately pour the hot water into the bottom tray and close the oven. This creates a steaming effect which helps to make the bread crusty.

12. Bake for around 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 175C, remove the bottom pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes
The bread is ready when you tap the bread and it sounds hollow.
Cool completely before cutting.

Verdict - this 2nd attempt was better and the bread was pretty chewy on the inside with a slightly crusty top. Taste better when toasted lightly again before eating. The edges will be more crusty and you can hear the "cruunch" when you bite into it. Pretty good but my skills are still far from bakery standards.

Will continue my journey of crusty breads.. to be updated!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sticky Date pudding

It's a new found love. Sticky Date pudding. Prior to trying this bake by a friend, I've never had any interest in date puddings. The lure of decadent chocolate layer cakes and calls from walnut-studded carrot cakes just distract me too much usually. To my surprise then, the sticky date cake my fren baked was uber good! Her version is light and a little fluffy, almost has the texture of a steamed cake. That.. started my journey into dates and butterscotch!

Still, few places I frequent offer sticky date cakes on the menu. It's an Australian favorite and my search for good sticky dates has so far proclaimed Robert Timms to have the best one. Heard that PS Cafe and Marmalade Pantry have good renditions as well. Planning to go PS Cafe next week, will update!

Sticky date pudding is also not a difficult bake, in fact, one of the more fuss-free recipe with less things to wash up. I used the recipe from The Little Teochew, and as with all her bakes, the cake did not disappoint. It's my 3rd time baking this today and so far, all who have tried it liked the cake. It's yummy, easy and you can ease back on the sugar and butter scotch. To all fans of sticky date pudding, please please try this on your own. You'll love it!

Recipe (Source) :

270g pitted dates (I used King Soloman Deri Dates)
1 1/4 cup water
1 tsp bicarb soda
60g unsalted butter, chopped
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C.

1. Place dates and water in a pot, bring to boil on high heat.
2. Add bicarb soda and unsalted butter. Remove from heat and cool for around 10 min.
(be careful, the mixture will bubble up when soda is added, make sure the pot has sufficient height)
3. Blend the mixture with a hand blender
4. Add the eggs and vanilla essence and blend to combine, short few pulses is sufficient.
5. Mix all flour and sugar in a separate bowl and ensure that sugar has no clumps.
6. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture and fold in to combine.

Pour into lined 8-in pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. I tent it after 30 minutes to prevent a charred top.
(If using muffin cups, bake for 25 - 30 minutes)
I made 1.25 times the above portion and baked for 60 minutes. I think 5 to 10 more minutes would be good as the base was still a little molten.

Butterscotch sauce:

180g thickened cream
160g brown sugar
150g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to boil. Simmer at low heat for around 5 minutes, constantly stirring the mixure until it thickens.

Once cake is done, cool for 10 minutes. Poke numerous holes in the cake and drench the sauce over cake. This ensure that the dates become sticky with the caramel sauce.

Drizzle more butterscotch for that additional buttery sweetness.
Serve warmed with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for best enjoyment.

The sauce can be refrigerated and stored for up to 2 weeks. Reheat before use.
Puddings can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and warm before serving.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Spicy Mango BBQ Sauce

Over the last few weeks, I've come to realised that being a vegetarian in the neighborhoods of SG is difficult and not exactly healthy. There's usually only 1 store selling V food in each food place and most sell fried bee hoon/white rice/ brown rice with a variety of mostly fried beancurd (& skins) and greasy/spicy vegetables. There's also usually many choices of bean products, somewhat done to resemble meat in taste/texture as well, which just doesn't cut it for me. If I want to be vegetarian, I wanna eat vegetables!

After 2 weeks of greasy beehoon and bread in every form, we went to Salad Stop at Novena Sq. Spinach, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, onions, mango etc wrapped in a toasted spinach wrap with a spicy thai sauce was refreshing. Now... That's a healthy vegetarian dinner for us!

It can also be easily replicated at home. I set out to look for a delicious and non-creamy dressing since I shun anything that screams milk. Pinterest, my latest best friend, yielded a recipe that suits just this occasion! Adapting it in a variety of ways due to availability (or rather unavailability) of ingredients in the nearby supermarket, the Spicy Mango dressing is borned.
Definitely spicy, the sweetness of the mango somewhat tempered it and a fruitiness in the sauce shone through. However, beware if you are non-spicy eater, the bird's eye chilli has a potency that creeps up on you. In a very Singaporean way, it would simply be Shiok!

1 Large very-ripe Mango, diced
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 an onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoon sea salt
4 chilli padi, cut (seeds removed if you prefer it less spicy)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup sunflower oil
2/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoon Nando's Garlic Peri Peri sauce (optional, I added it just to increase the usage)
Black Pepper (to taste)
Coriander (optional, I used it when I use this sauce as a marinade, it complements the taste)

It's a very simple recipe. Cut and measure everything, dump it all into a pot, bring to boil and simmer for around 10 -15 minutes. Cool it and I used a hand blender to emulsify it.

I used it as a marinade for the grilled chicken breast (no longer vegetarian but trying to stick to lean protein) and mixed 3 parts natural yoghurt to 5 parts sauce as the salad dressing. Thumbs-up by the hubby!

Add some toasted walnuts, dried cranberries and thick cubes of mango to the usual salad suspects and you've yourself a very satisfying grilled chicken salad.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Shin Yuu Japanese Ala Carte Buffet Dinner

It's the hubby's birthday! Since we are 2 foodies who are trying to trim our waistlines, we hardly or rather dare not.. indulge ourselves at buffets. I can think of so many places I would go if only my body type allows, with the foremost definitely being the English High Tea at Goodwood Park. Then Cafe Brio at Grand Copthorne comes to mind, and I've always wanted to try the ala carte chinese buffet at Long Jiang.

Daydreams aside, the hubby's bday is an occasion where we indulge. In a Meaty way. In his Favourite cusine. In never-ending servings. To Sashimi Haven. To Shin Yuu at Greenwood. 

Service was impeccable, with constant re-fills of tea (which cost $1 in addition to the buffet price) and service staff is quick to remove empty plates. Serving of orders was fast and furious, with the complimentary dishes served approx 5 minutes after being seated. Our Sashimi was served almost immediately after our order placement. Guess the chefs start slicing the moment any guests enter the bistro since it's probably ordered most often and by 100% of patrons.

Quality of the food is indeed very good. Sashimi is very fresh and succulent, you can tear away parts of the sashimi slices cleanly just with a quick bite. However, variety is limited, with the menu divided into sections - Appetisers, Sashimi, Grilled/Braised, Tempura, Noodles/Rice. I was hoping for desserts.. but guess the restaurant is right to expect guests to have no room for sweets after all the meats.

The appertizers:
Top row - Oysters and a mini platter, served complimentary (ie: cannot be repeated). Oysters was lightly cooked or maybe baked, pretty light on the palette and well-enjoyed. Sliced Smoked Duck was served with a fatty layer of skin which may be better appreciated by others but left on the plate for me. Slightly tough and chewy, cold fatty duck is just not for me. Seared Tuna belly was fabulous and simply melted in the mouth; never a tuna fan, this just changed my mind about this fish species. Wish I could have repeated this dish. Last item on the platter is the Salmon Aburi (Torched salmon). Also melts in the mouth but somehow it was pretty salty. This can be repeated but we think the salmon sashimi is worth more repeats than this aburi sushi.

Bottom row - Chawanmushi is silky soft and has fat fat roe that pops in the mouth. Must Try but could be potentially filling, especially for ladies. Recommend to share between 2 persons. Sashimi mixed platter - Salmon was to-die-for, check out the beautiful lines on the meat. They are chunky and boasted full flavor; its simply salmon haven for sashimi fiends like me. Tuna and tuna belly were equally delightful, soft yet slightly chewy, worth repeats and additional time on the threadmill!

The carbs:
Clearly one of the signatures and ordered by most, if not all the tables, the unagi avocado sushi roll is indeed a must-try! Luscious ripe slices of avocado added a touch of creaminess to the unagi. The only thing I would ask for would be to have somewhat thicker portions of unagi as it was slightly over-shadowed. 

Garlic rice was the last item we ordered as I comtemplate if I could stuff anything more into my stomach. The greedy me decided I could and we asked for a small serving. It was fragrant and fluffy and I wolfed down quite a few mouthfuls, more than the space I allocated to the buckwheat noodles. The cold soba was quite chewy and the hubby enjoyed it quite thoroughly. Me, I find it quite the usual only.

The meats:
Wagyu beef - Tender and chewy, again one of the signature items. Its cooked medium well, very slightly red in the middle, its indeed another must-try.
Beef Short-ribs - not very memorable, this is one of the dishes we did not finish. Tough meat, cannot really bite it cleanly off the bones.
Chicken mid-joints - wow.. I'm a big fan of chicken wings and have had more than my fair share from wings around SG. This is one of the best, grilled in a very fragrant marinade and the meat pulls away from the bones cleanly, easily,  yummily!

The seafood:
Seared scallops with a sauce made from roe - not bad.. but I remember the slightly salty and creamy sauce more than the scallop itself. One serving is sufficient. 
Soft-shelled crab - Kind of over-fried and more batter than meat, give it a miss.
Grilled tiger prawns - Thumbs-up! Decently-sized, the fresh meat separates from the shell easily. The sweet sauce was good, repeated this dish.
Dish in the middle left is kimchi squid. Memorable in a negative way - could not really find the squid amidst the beansprouts and cabbage. It's more a kimchi dish than a squid dish. One chopstickful was all we tried.
Prawns in an egg scramble - Generous amount of moderately big prawns in a very fluffy egg fry. Hint of mayonnaise added to the sweetness.

We tried to photograph all the dishes we ordered but still forgot a couple of them - Gyoza &Edamame which are not bad, crispy Gyoza and the usual soy beans but served at room temperature. Cold Edamame would have been more appreciated. Tempura was very good, served piping hot and crispy. The ebi, sweet potatoe and pumpkin tempura were the best. Sadly, there were no mushrooms amongst the selection.

Overall, quality was pretty well-matched for the pricing. Worth a visit if you are a big japanese food fan. Dinner pricing was $49.90++. Total nett bill for 2 including tea was $118. However, me and hubby think that we will repeat Himawari more than Shin Yuu as variety at the former place is wider and the overall pricing is approx $10 cheaper per pax, slightly more value for money.

Shin Yuu
16 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park, S 289209
6763 4939