Saturday, September 29, 2007

Carrot Cake, Take 2 aka SUCCESS!!!

Summer Carrot Muffins

After yesterday's dismal results, I hit the books in search of a recipe to better my first and found Stephan Franz's simple and summery Apricot Muffins, from one of my all time dependable cook book, The Cook's Book. I modified his recipe for 2 reasons: a. I hate apricots, and 2. I was on my carroty quest. So I present my formula below:

250g (8.5 oz) carrots, shredded and pat dry
100ml (3.5 fl oz) carrot or orange juice
375g (13oz) flour
4t baking powder
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter
125g (4.5oz) sugar
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
250ml (8.5 fl oz) plain yogurt
Grated zest of 1 orange or lime
  1. Soak carrots in juice for 3 hours
  2. Sift flour & baking powder, set aside
  3. Beat butter, sugar, salt until light & fluffy, add eggs & beat well
  4. Add yogurt, zest & drained carrots to the party
  5. Gently introduce the flour & mix briefly
  6. Spoon into greased muffin tins
  7. Bake at 180'C (350"F) for 25 minutes or well rised & golden
  8. Bring them to the park (above) or zoo (below) & take some lovely pics for the family album

As I don't fancy oranges much, I've used lime zest instead to give the muffins a lively background, and baked them in mini tins rather than jumbo sized ones, but it is your preference, just tweak the baking time accordingly.

I'm pleased with the results, the muffins were light and not too sweet. Soaking the carrots in carrot juice enhanced their inherent flavor which is usually lost in many carrot muffins, and they added an orange hue to the overall results. Lovely!

Carrot cake, Take 1

Arty Farty Carrot Cake

Fancy Smancy Close Up

I have a thing for Carrot Cake, and in my inexhaustible quest for the ultimate CC, I have tasted bakes from far and wide. This week, I thought to give it a go, who knows, the treasure may be in my own backyard all along?

Nope, keep digging. I shan't put the recipe up, it is good but not perfect. I will not yield, nor will I falter. No! I will give it another go tomorrow, for I do not believe I messed up my backyard (aka kitchen) for naught.

Good thing they make good pictures, that should count for some pride redeemed.

Salmon Sashimi, by Master Chef Mum

Salmon Sashimi, Yusheng Style

If ever pressed to name my fav food, the answer would be 3 pronged:

Fav Food: Salmon Sashimi. I moan in shameless ecstasy every time a thick orange slab of the oh so meltingly buttery fish swims into my mouth. Oh gawd, pure joy.

Fav Cuisine: Indian. More specifically, North Indian Vegetarian. No fight. But that's another blog.

Food I'd gladly give up the world for: My Mum's cooking.

I must thank my lucky stars, for I can have 2 of my top 3 foods at one go. My mum makes the best salmon sashimi (not to mention the cheapest since I don't have to fork out a fortune to dine in exclusive Japanese restaurants). She also makes a mean yusheng, way way waaayy better than the ones you can find anywhere.

What peeved me here is not her heavenly bestowed culinary flair, of my lack thereof. While I can take forever to capture food at their most photogenic display of texture, color and shape, Mum the Great simply throws a bunch of key ingredients together: a sprinkle of this, a splash of that, a toss of some other, and Viola! Art on a plate! And 2 seconds to snap.

Without further ado, I present Mum's masterpiece for your viewing, and my eventual devouring pleasure.

The Moomba, Singapore

Baby G and I had dinner at The Moomba, an Australian inspired restaurant sitting pretty by the Singapore river. Think Aussie chow, furry koalas and doe eyed kangaroos hop into mind, but PETA fans, breathe easy, for no fur was shed on our dinner account. Not on this night, anyway.

Char-grilled Portobello
on eggplant caponata with roasted potato and sauteed spinach

I liked this dish, although for the love of me, could not understand why it took the kitchen more than 30 minutes to fry the fries when the restaurant was nary packed with the early dinner crowd, unless you consider 2 tables a crowd. However, once the dish was plated and delivered, all was forgiven.

Oh my, every cube of potato was a gem, crunchy on all sides sans the grease as they were baked, not fried, and baked to perfection they were. Soft, piping hot flesh burst out of their crusty exterior with every bite, dancing in harmony with the eggplant caponata in my mouth.

The portobello was meaty and cooked al dente, as mushrooms should, and although the spinach was on the bland side, the entire ensemble came together quite nicely. (See diagram above)

Tomato Risotto
with marinated olive leaves and gratinated ashgrove smoked cheddar

Hands down one of the best risotto we have tried. Cheesy, creamy, seasoned just right, and have I mentioned cheesy?

The cheddar did not carry its smoky characteristic, unfortunately, but it was saved by its generous serving which ensured every spoonful of risotto had a healthy portion of cheddar which went a long way with the basil (one of my favorite herbs) and oven roasted tomatoes that just burst in your mouth.

All in all, a more than decent place for Aussies and veggies alike. Check out their menu, prices are slightly above average, but well worth trying on a special occasion, when they will be more than glad to recommend the wines to go with your orders.

Last note on a not least first course, their bread basket's not free, but you cannot give their walnut loaf a miss, hot from the oven, a perfect introduction of the understated yet satisfying flavors to follow.

Miss Read, KL

Potato Cubes with the "Trimmings"

Dainty bites before the big guns. As usual I needed my tatos with all the sauces the place can provide. Spotted mustard by the bottle and promptly requested for one, along with mayo and tartar, just for comparison, you understand.

The tatos were nothing much to speak about, they were lightly fried and not too greasy, but bland. The army of sauces did little to liven things up.

Walnut Pasta

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my best picture to date. The clarity, contrast and color captured near perfection in my books, for those who don't know better they may think I am swooning over a carat. But I remain focused and on track.

Taste wise, this is also one of the best pasta I have tasted. Walnut pasta is indigenous to a remote part of Italy and not readily found in many Italian restaurants, maybe coz it sounds unusual and unfamiliar. A real pity, for forays into the unknown has its own rewards, so you can imagine my delight when I saw this on their menu.

The sauce was made with, well, walnut, and enriched with mascapone, which gave it a most lusciously creamy body without imposing on the walnut's subtle fragrance. Mushrooms played the second supporting role, alongside parsley juliennes that lifted the entire dish to a delightful finish.

Mac & cheese

Oh you would think this to be the simplest, least exciting dish of the night, but it turned out to be way more than the name promised. 4 cheese sauce so thick, rich, creamy and stringy, as cheese should be. What more can I say, the picture says it all. Bon appetite!

Senses, Hilton KL

I had the luck of taste to dine at the acclaimed Senses restaurant in Hilton Kuala Lumpur recently. OK, not so recently, think half a year back? So whilst the taste buds not longer tingle with the fresh memories of flavors, the mind recalls with fondness, and with a little help from my friend, my 3.2 mp camera phone. So here goes:

The usual bread filler with the now trendy mini baguette, a healthy smear of French slightly salted butter, and a pomegranate and cranberry punch. We all need some goodness to balance out the butter every now and then.

Cream of White Asparagus with Seared Scallop and Edemame

A choice of soups and I went with the white asparagus coz Baby G had the same thing just the previous night. Also a good time as any to try the snowy white green (pardon the pun) for the first time.

The soup was light despite the cream base, and the scallop balanced the sublimity with its subtle sweetness, almost a perfect slurp sans the edemame, hard and tasteless. They were probably added in for color, although a better contrast for taste and texture could have found its purpose in a few kernels of lightly caramelised corn kernels?

Lightly Seared Seabass, Spinach Spetzels,

Saffron Couscous, Curry Foam and Curried Mussels

Quite a mouthful, on both tongue and palette. The fish was a tad dry and over done, the spetzels carried no hint of spinach, but the foam was fun to have and all elements managed to come together quite beautifully, texture and color wise.

And a surprise dessert...

Gosh I loved the truffles and coffee, any meal that concludes with a good cuppa cannot do too wrong by me. That said, dining at Senses was sublime, the service excellent and the food well worth a try. I will probably do a return visit for the other items on the menu so stay tuned.