Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Instead of queuing up for Japan's Bake cheese tarts, I'm gonna go for these alternatives

Wah lao, another trend? And it's even more fattening than salted egg yolk!? My heart almost voluntarily stopped in the wake of what was to come. Cheese tarts. Palm-sized pastries filled to the bring with gooey cheese, a heady mixture of sweet and savoury and all guaranteed to cause a queue wherever they may be from.

In the wake of Japan's Bake Cheese Tarts arrive at Ion Orchard 29 April, two local stores decided to jump ahead of the game and throw in their tarts into the ring. Prima Deli and Antoinette.

You're probably gonna get lots of bloggers compare both, but I'm not gonna do that. My stomach can take both. And to be honest, you can't really compare them head on can you? It's like going to your local kopitiam and asking for a matcha green tea latte. Cannot lah.

But the great thing about more cheese tarts is... more cheese tarts! No need to queue:

Antoinette's Cheese Tarts
Look at that oooozzzee!

After Chef Pang's trip to Japan, he came back inspired and ready to whip these adorable munchies. Each one is slightly smaller than your palm with a generous flaky pastry. Think croissant but more buttery. See he used a reverse lamination method to make the pastry. That's layering butter over pastry before folding... okay I'm not gonna bore you with the details. I'm just gonna describe the tart:

Eat this warm, but never piping hot. Because if you do, you'll be setting your mouth on fire. One bite through the flaky, buttery pastry, past the thin, golden cheese skin at the top and you hit the jackpot. A glorious mess of oozing cheese that spurts in your mouth (yes I went there). The initial salty tinge gives way to a creamy sweetness that can only come from cream cheese and mascarpone cheese. The cheesy aroma fills the atmosphere and you'll be aware of the delicate globules of cream that you didn't manage to catch in the first bite. Scrap it off the plate, cause I'm pretty certain it's not gonna be easy to get a second tart. Chef's only selling these at the Penhas outlet for now.

There are others flavours:

Like the croissants that preceded them, there is a medley of favourite flavours: - original vanilla cheese tart ($2.50), salted egg yolk ($2.50), chocolate ($3), salted caramel ($2.50) and matcha ($3).

My favourites: original, matcha and chocolate:

 Matcha
The bitterness of the matcha is just right. Just enough to balance the sweetness of the cheese. The only thing I didn't like about this was the unappetising sprinkle of matcha powder at the top. Made it look like they sprinkled it with spring onions or wasabi powder or something.









Salted egg yolk
Meh. Sadly, this was a strong meh. Maybe it was because I was tired of salted egg yolk or I felt that there just wasn't enough grainy yolk to capture my attention. But these didn't pique my interest at all. It was like the sweet potato fries at McDonalds, so much potential but so disappointing.



Chocolate
Holy hell! What does Chef put in these chocolate sauces? (Okay, I checked: French chocolate.) Like the original cheese tarts, these burst with flavour. Filled with a luxuriously thick chocolate sauce that is neither too sweet nor too bitter, it leaves you craving for more. To be honest, I left Antoinette my mind devoid of this. But now as I recall the taste of it... I want more. It's one of those flavours that messes with your mind, whispering to you: "nah Amanda... I'm too rich for you, too strong... You won't enjoy the second tart.." But I DO! I do want the second tart filled with this gold mine of hot melted treasure! Damniittt...

Pardon the brain fart.

Priced from $2.50 each, available at Antoinette's Penhas outlet, 30 Penhas Road, tel: 6293-3121.
Opening hours:
Monday to Thursday, 11am to 10pm,
Friday 11am to 11pm,
Saturday 10am to 11pm
Sunday 10am to 10pm


Prima Deli's cheese tarts


More cheesecake than cheese tart - no ooze!
With all the buzz surrounding these I HAD to try them out. So I went straight to Prima Deli at City Square mall. It was dark. The mall was quiet. Not even McDonalds had opened up yet. But there it was, a shining beacon of hope. 

Prima Deli.

One lone auntie doled out the tarts. Placing them dutifully onto a stainless steel tray that glistened with the oil from yesterday's tarts. "Auntie, are these the cheese tarts?" I asked in Chinese.

"Yep. Want to buy better buy now cause someone ordered 50 already."

WHAT?! I quickly snapped up four. Two original and two salted egg yolk flavours.

"Bring home and heat up okay? A bit cold from leaving it in the fridge." 

What a nice auntie.

But because I had nowhere else to go but the Coffee Bean next door, I sat down, order a cup of coffee and asked for a plate and knife. Blogging the kiasu way. 

Unlike the tart from Antoinette, this was shortcrust pastry, thicker, sweeter and not so buttery. It was also larger. About the size of my palm. The filling was also more cheesecake than cheese ooze. It wasn't melty and goopy, but more of a mousse. it was nice, but nothing spectacular.

The salted egg lava cheese tart on the other hand...

Generous liu!

A darker, more golden brown as compared to its plainer brother, it's pretty unassuming till you cut into it and BAM. The rich, grainy, salty filling slowly flows onto the plate. And this is with the tart COLD. Imagine it hot and steaming with a soft but firm mousse to balance the salted egg filling. Prima Deli also managed to get the balance of flavour just right (don't know if they did it by accident) but because the cheese is rather light, it complements the richness of the salted egg yolk filling.
Best part of it all, just $2 (UP $2.30) now. Too delicious!

Priced from $2 each, avaiable at all Prima Deli outlets.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Recipe: The easiest, tastiest eggslut ever


I never heard of an eggslut till I went to Coffee Valley in JB. They served it in a breakfast platter, in a salad and eggslut set and on its own too. I had no idea what it was till Hannah explained, "Oh Nigella Lawson created it!" Did she Hannah?! DID SHE?! I googled, and it did not come from the foodporn queen of BBC. It came from a food truck in LA. Well, they started as a food truck and have since opened a store in Grand Central Market. The shop's name is "Eggslut" and they're famed for the slut.

A glorious concoction of mashed potatoes topped with coddled eggs. Coddled eggs are basically eggs steamed in a glass jar. It's simple to make but I find it a little troublesome to go out of my way to steam a whole mason jar. If you want an accurate recipe for that you can go here.

Instead, I decided to make an easier version of it. A tamer version perhaps. The... Eggbitch? HAHAHA. Okay, definitely not tamer. More indulgent, but a hell lot more ghetto caused it's instant mash, leftover cornflakes and super oily lup chiong and fried garlic.

If Eggbitch was a person, she'd be a leopard-print wearing, fake Louboutin preaching, sky-high beehive hair Thai disco lounge singer who might claw your eyes out with her 50RM gelish nails that have been filed to a point. She has a deep appreciation for discount wine and Tiger Beer and carries leftover peanuts from naughty patrons in her fake LV bag.


See, I had no toast, no steamer and no mason jar. Plus I wanted to make a quick dish for the husband cause he told me he was hungry and about the reach my place in 10min. So I had to improvise:


I used instant mash potatoes, cornflakes to replace toast and lup chiong and garlic to make it even tastier.


 I used this. So tasteless. So gross. I had to put chunks of butter inside just to make it taste a little better.
But it got better after that:


Exciting layers of deliciousness!

Then finally, you've got the magical eggbitch in your hands. All sticky, gooey and oh-so-satisfying:


See, I didn't coddle my eggs and I still got this beauteous mixture. How? I POACHED my eggs. All you need is a runny yolk you see. 

Two ways to do it:
1. Poach 
2. Sunny-side up

See! No need to coddle, just dump an egg with a runny yolk on top and you get the same effect, but with less effort ;) The crunch comes from cornflakes and the bulk comes from 20sec mashed potatoes. EggBitch FTW.




Makes 2 portions

INGREDIENTS
- 2 lup chiong (Chinese sausage), chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 packet of instant mashed potatoes (depends on the brand - this brand "Smash" provided 3 portions)
- 20g softened salted butter (adjust according to taste)
- 2 eggs
- 1 packet of cornflakes
- a couple leaves of coriander / chopped spring onion
- salt and pepper for taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Fry the lup chiong and garlic till fragrant. Start with the lup chiong cause it takes longer to cook. The garlic can be tossed in after about a minute. No oil needed either cause the lup chiong's fat will do the work. Put it aside to cool. 
2. Prepare the instant mashed potatoes according to the packet. (You can go the long way and make your own, but this is not a "girl got lots of time to cook" recipe okay. So live with instant mash.)
3. While it's still hot, add in the butter and stir. Stop adding the butter when you feel it's the right amount of fluffy. Put aside.
4. Start on your eggs. All you need is a really funny yolk - that's what makes this dish slutty you see. POACH or SUNNY-SIDE UP. You pick. I poached mine. Here's how: boil water in a saucepan, bring it to a simmer. Use a balloon whisk to create a vortex in the saucepan. Crack a cold, refrigerated egg into the direction of the spin. The spin should help keep the egg in place. After 30sec, fish it out of the water with a slotted spoon. Do this with your other egg.
5. You've got the eggs, you've got the rest of the ingredients. Start layering and do it quickly so that it's still hot. Lup chiong and garlic first, then mash, then your poached eggs (follow diagram above)
6. Cover one side of the whites with cornflakes (I didn't have toast) then garnish with some coriander leaves. Done!
7. Wanna be really slutty about it? Add a layer of cheese before placing the egg on top. Oooo gooey cheese~





Sunday, April 10, 2016

Recipe: Apple Crumble - lazy girl style


I love apple crumble. It's comforting, it's warm, and just the right amount of sticky for Singapore. I especially like my crumble to be a little more doughy and cookie-like rather than crunchy like granola. If you're looking for that kinda crumble, you're in the wrong place. Sorry!

This one has a digestive biscuit crust and apples that are baked soft enough to cut through with a fork, but still crisp enough for a bite that adds to the texture of the dish. Covering my beautiful apples is a golden brown crust of cookie dough that is sweet and chewy.

Baked with love and perfect with a scoop of ice cream, it's super comforting on a rainy day.






INGREDIENTS
For the crust:
10 McVities digestive biscuits
5 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
7 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
5 apples, cored and sliced into 1cm thick slices
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
½ tbsp. lemon juice,  freshly squeezed

For the crumble topping:
¾ cup plain flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold

DIRECTIONS
For the crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 190 deg C.
2. In a large bowl, add the digestive biscuits, sugar, cinnamon and butter. Break it up into fine crumbs using the end of a rolling pin. Mix well.
3. Press the mixture firmly onto the base and sides of the dish before baking for 7min.
4. While waiting for the crust to bake, core and slice your apples into 1cm thick slices.

For the apple filling:
5. Remove the dish from the oven and leave to cool. While waiting, mix your apple slices, brown sugar, plain flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice in a large bowl. Make sure each apple slice is generously covered.
6. Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and lay out the apples over the crust. It doesn’t matter if the filling rises above the dish.

For the crumble topping:
7. In another bowl, prepare the crumble topping by mixing the flour, brown sugar, caster sugar, salt and unsalted butter. Mix with your hands till it forms little clumps. Scatter generously over the dish.
8. Bake the crumble in the oven for 15min or till the top turns brown. Lower the heat of the oven to 180 deg C and bake again for another 15min or until a fork slides easily into the centre of the dish.




Saturday, April 2, 2016

The best reason to visit outdoor markets: food

I was on the cusp of abandoning the idea to attend the 90s-themed art market at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station when it struck me that I had never been to that historical building before.

So I went.

I was greeted by grey skies and a lot of people.

A LOT OF PEOPLE.



The sky was overcast, the humidity at an all time high. But every nook and cranny of the railway station was covered in humanoids. Can you spot that couple at the bottom, right in the centre? Yeah, they decided to attend the market to take their wedding photos. Crazy.

There were families lugging their kids for a fun day out at this "rare and magical place" - yeah cause kids, this is where trains used to come! And of course, a billion and one hipsters and swaggy teens admiring the architecture and raw hipster-power that emitted from the old tracks.

I was sweating my balls off, so I told Abel to hurry up. I was on a mission to find food.

I don't know about you guys, but markets like these, run by The Local People and other organisations like Public Garden fascinate me for two reasons:

1) Lots of independent artists who do great work get their first showcase here.
2) The same thing can be said for new foodie places.

We decided to start the great migration at the back of the herd - squeezing past the multitude to get to stores of interest.

First up, hydration. We stopped by the first decent-looking drink stall we could find, and joined the sweaty masses trying to buy some drinks.

For all the fancy beans procured from far away magical places, the coffee was... okay. Maybe it was watered down cause of the ice melting so quickly, but meh. It did not rock my world. But the way they went through their disposable plastic cups, plastic bags of ice and cans and bottles of beverages reminded me of my school fun fair. Back when they taught us how to be entrepreneurs.

Did you school ever do that? Gave you and a group of friends the option to set up a store and sell stuff. My friends and I sold fried ice cream and sausages. We made lots of money. Also we walked away pretty sticky-fingered and oily at the same time. Hold frozen ice-cream wrapped in bread long enough and that's what happens. People tend to crave easy-to-hold, bite-sized noms that they are familiar with. Think coffee, chin chow, or stuff they remember from their childhood. Here's proof of how much they crave it:


Too hot not to get a drink.

Whinging about the crowds of the platforms, we continued on in search for interesting stores. There were a couple of interesting designers. None that stuck to my mind except for these:

WICKEDMALLOWS



These homemade mallows are to die for! You can order them in boxes at home, but here they stuck them on a stick and torched them for a caramelised touch. Too yummy. I had it once before, so I didn't get it this time round. Besides, the crowd was crazy. Literally stretched across three stores.

Here's a picture of what it looked like the last time I got it:

That's Pink Moscato Vanilla Bean, Matcha and Chocolate flavours.

Order from them here: WickedCreamSG 

Honestly, it seemed liked the buzzword of the day was matcha. 101 things were matcha. A store literally just sold matcha:



The macarons looked pretty good so I bought them.

The more I walked around, the more I felt that this was just a conglomoration of hipster-preneurs. But hey-ho, that's what makes the money go right?

Where millenials go, food trucks go too.























THE TRAVELLING COW


Fried Mac and Cheese balls and Chilli Crab Nachos

I was disappointed with the nachos. They tasted like salted cardboard, and the chilli sauce, though spicy, simply made them unbearably soggy. Also, there wasn't enough sauce to dip and scoop.

The balls. Though. Little globules of heaven:

The only trouble was that it was a 45min wait for the balls. Luckily, that was the amount of time it took to squeeze through everyone to get a decent spot to rest and chill at on the edge of the station.




























We wrapped up everything pretty quickly after. We bought a handful of things and sat down enjoying the breeze that came with the cloudy day.

Macarons, iced latte from The Federation, IndoMie flavoured chips and a gorgeous ring with a snow-globe like centre full of glitter.
Despite the heat, the crowd and the sparse offerings of stores to check out, it was still pretty enjoyable. I got to sit pretty on the edge of a train platform station, pose with a coquettish smile and people watch.