Oct 31, 2008

Not quite Bloody Mary

I had to take this photo of the cocktail I made for the magazine because of 2 things:

The sky is getting dark soon
Why waste a good photo showing the watermelon which I took so much time to scrap out the 'flesh'

This cocktail was supposedly to be named as Rainbow Cocktail as it had all kinds of fruit cocktail in it like peaches, pear, cherries, apples, melon and the red liquid is actually freshly blended Watermelon juice.

It does look like Bloody Mary cocktail with its offensive bloody redness. But its not. I usually serve this at home for parties. Each half of the watermelon is used to serve either cocktail or a nice fruit salad. After the party, just junk, no mess, no fuss and less to wash!!

This is great to serve for those Halloween parties or Christmas parties too.

Here's my tried and tested recipe to keep

1 whole watermelon
1 can of fruit cocktail in heavy syrup
1 can of peaches in heavy syrup
lots of ice

1. Cut the melon into half from the centre.
2. Slice off a bit off the rounded bottoms..so the melon can sit properly on the table without toppling over.
3. Blend the melon balls into juice and add all the fruit cocktails to mix
4. Pour into the empty melon shell and load it with ice
5. Serve cold...!

I also made mini bread cups and filled it up with tuna flakes that was seasoned with low fat mayo and dash of grounded white pepper..

Oct 30, 2008

Thank You Singapore

Yesterday I had a cooking class in a Japanese home. 2 ladies of leisure contacted my Assistant and decided on a menu they wanted to learn. So A and I found our way to their humble home in River Valley Road area.

They wanted to learn to cook the following local favourites:

Hainanese Chicken, Chicken Rice and chilli sauce
Paper wrapped chicken
Egg Tofu with Sugar peas
Fried Hokkien Mee
Mango Pudding
Ah Balling

And soon we found out why..as one of the ladies will be leaving Singapore soon. Her husband has been posted to Thailand for 2 years and she worries that she cannot find her best loved hawker fare. Decided that once and for all, she had to learn to cook it herself.

She has stayed in Singapore for 3 years now, with her family and have grown to love Singapore, the people, the sights and sounds and most of all, the food.

Some of the dishes/recipes have been modified to suit the Japanese palates. Especially anything that has extra spiciness.
I have also modified the paper wrapped chicken recipe so its less oily. Its pan fried instead of deep fried.

What is not shown in the dining table are the chicken rice, and desserts as it was in the fridge for chilling. The Ah Balling was still bubbling in the pot. As we have to leave soon, as A has to fetch her kids from school, we left them with much appreciation and I was truly inspired by them. They gave me a chance to impart my culinary heritage to them. The way my mom used to teach me the right way to cook ah Gong's Hainanese chicken rice.

With that, the ladies say "Thank you Singapore" and to me "Thank you, for your inspiration"

Here's my Paper wrapped chicken recipe:

Serves 2
4 chicken thighs, cut into 4 sections each
1 stalk of spring onions, chopped

50ml corn oil(or any cooking oil)

Baking paper, cut into 15cm squares

Marinating sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp fine sugar

1. Marinate chicken pieces with sauce for 30 minutes
2. Place a piece of chicken on one end of the paper.
3. Sprinkle a teaspoon of spring onions on top.
4. Fold and wrap to seal the packet.
5. Heat up a frying pan with oil
6. Place each chicken packet and cook for 15 minutes. Turn over every 3 minutes.
7. Serve hot. Discard paper when serving.

Oct 27, 2008

Remember when...

Once upon a time, when Melody was still a little girl..very little girl. I learnt to make the teochew soon kueh from my mother in law. It took me a long time to figure out the proportions of the ingredients as she measures everything by gut feel. No measuring cups or spoons, no weighing scales. And when I figure out how it was done, I told myself that one day I will impart these skills to my children too.

Yesterday was the day. Melody wanted to try making soon kueh. I cooked all the fillings, made the dough. And show her how to wrap the fillings.

Looking at her now...engrossed into making that perfect soon kueh. We make mini ones so its easier to handle.

Here's my tried and tested recipe

Makes 24 pieces
500g turnip, skinned, shredded
100g dried shrimps, soaked in water to soften
5 pcs dried black fungus, soaked in water to soften, shred
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar

300g Rice Flour
80g Tapioca Flour
500ml boiling hot water
1 tbsp corn oil
1 tsp salt


1. In a wok, add 2 tbsp of corn oil to heat. Add dried shrimps to fry till fragrant. Then add black fungus and turnip and stir fry for 5 minutes over high heat.
2. Lastly, add light soya sauce, sesame oil, sugar to mix. Remove and leave it aside to cool completely.
3. In a mixing bowl, add sifted rice flour and tapioca flour, salt and hot water. Stir quickly and it should look lumpy. Add corn oil to mix. Cover the bowl and leave it aside for 15 minutes.
4. Remove and knead into a smooth dough. Divide the dough into 24 portions.
5. Flatten each ball, add a tablespoon of cooked turnip in the centre of the flatten dough.
6. Seal by picking up the sides. Brush with corn oil before steaming.
7. Steam in a steamer over high heat for 10 minutes. Serve hot with sweet sauce or chilli sauce.

Oct 25, 2008

Walk with me..

In early 2005, a fellow foodie and good friend Raymond Khoo got me to work with him on a Yellow Ribbon project. It was to start a chinese restaurant that was owned and run by a group of ex-drug offenders. Ray and I work at the Highpoint Halfway House at Geylang Road. The restaurant was Goshen Restaurant. But it has since closed shop due to financial problems. During my course of volunteer work there, I met Chef Benny Seteo and we became good friends overnight.

Chef Benny made Singapore proud to be the First asian to go to London and under study at Fifteen Foundation that is owned and run by famous TV Celebrity Jamie Oliver. Soon after his return from London, he open his first Italian restaurant called 18 Chefs.

In the years of knowing Chef Benny, we shared with each other, many skills in cooking and baking. I would teach him to make no bake cheesecake for his restaurant and he taught me to make this Chinese Cured ham. Whenever we meet, Chef Benny and I would talk of the good ole days and indulge in good food. And he was thankful that I stood by him all these years.

I introduced him to Dr Pauline D Loh who used to run the Bon Appetito on News Radio 938 and had his story told again over the radio waves.

And to Chef Benny, I often told him..that God walks with us all the time. In our daily walk, in our lives so that we can learn from it and be an inspiration to others like He did with us. So let us learn to walk with our friends not to lead them or be behind them. But to be by their side, be their friend in need and indeed.

And here is the Chinese cured ham recipe which Chef Benny Seteo selflessly shared with me...

Thanks Brother Benny..

Chinese Smoked Ham(Bacon)
Original Recipe by Chef Benny Seteo
Modified for Smoking by Gina Choong

1 pig leg(about 450g to 500g), deboned
curing liquid/spice
1 tbsp szechuan Peppercorns
1 tbsp Sea Salt(coarse)
2 pcs dried Bay Leaves
200ml water

Method to cure the ham
1. Get the butcher to debone the pig leg for you.
2. Wash and clean the pig leg.
3. Add all the curing liquids ingredients in a pot till salt is melted.
4. Roll up the pig leg and tied it together(tightly).
**I use rubberized Bandage to wrap and bind the meat** You can get this from the pharmacy

5. Use a large glass jar and put the bound up pork in it.
6. Pour the hot liquid into it.
7. Add more water till it covers the pork entirely.
8. Leave it aside to cure for at least 1 day.

Method to Roast the cured ham
1. Discard the curing liquid
2. Remove the strings that bound the ham.
3. Wash the ham under a running tap water.
4. Roast ham in preheated oven 240C for 15 mins or until skin is brown and burnt.

Smoking ingredients
1/4 cup rice
3 tbsp szechuan peppercorns
1 tbsp cinnamon powder

Method to Smoke the cured ham
1. Line a wok with tin foil.
2. Place the smoking spice mix on the tin foil.
3. Put a wire rack on it.
4. Rest the ham on it.
5. Turn on the fire to medium and smoke it for 10 mins.
6. Leave it covered for a further 5 mins.
7. Remove and sliced.

Storage and usage
You can slice and store a container in the freezer.
If you are going to consume soon within 2 to 3 days, just put it in the
Smoked Bacon can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Can be served on its own : COLD like a Cold Dish Platter
Or added to soups to brew into a rich and flavourful Superior Soup.
Or added to other dishes and stir fry or cooked.
Or added to raw rice in the rice cooker to be cook


Oct 24, 2008

Food and Friends

Recently, I found some old school pals at Facebook. Because I started a group there and named it as Bartley Primary School Alumini. It was really nice to have found my primary school mates after such a long time. We chatted on the phone for long hours. And hope to meet up this Sunday over coffee or tea. I baked a cake for this occasion but decided to decorated it to give it to someone else instead as I fear that the sugar paste cannot last till then due to the rainy seasons the last few days.

In all, I baked 2 different cakes for the same person. The doggy cake was a Nutella Chocolate Cake while the roses cake was Fruit Cake that had dried cranberries and XO liquor in it. GT will drop by later to pick up her gifts. A cake for her to celebrate with her friends, and one for her to celebrate with her family.

Here's to GT, Happy Birthday and many more to come..more happiness, more joy and love. ps..don't give the cake to Gabby.!

I would also to dedicate one of the cakes I did : the rose one..to Shira. Thanks to her..she help me to pipe the icing on the words Happy Birthday because she saw me shook like mad!

Thanks Shira...for being here for me.

Let sleeping dog lie...

As I hung these toys to dry, Jing Jing starts to whine. She cannot find her toys. She plays with it every day. She will randomly pick each one and brings it to us. Asking anyone "you wanna play with me?" So most of the time, we just do. But the last couple of days it was raining, the toys never seem to dry.

So she decides to spend all her time lying down, sleeping, waiting for things to happen..

and while she did that, I sat near her and practice on my fondant modelling and made these..

Oct 20, 2008

Remembering Ah Gong..

Whenever there was a family gathering, my maternal grand father would instruct his wife(Ah Ma) to cook the dish he loved so much. We grew up loving it, too. These days, whenever we have stewed beef tendons, we would be reminded of the sight of Ah Ma watching patiently over the stove as she prepared Ah Gong’s favourite dish — and of their love and care for the family.

Over the years, I learnt to cook this from my mom who is now going too old to labour in the kitchen. The whole family loved this dish. So whenever there is a family gathering, I would make this dish again. The family that gathers at the table to eat this dish, often felt the love and warmth in the family.

That was what I think Ah Gong would have expected and wanted from us all..to love, to care and to cherish each other.

600g beef tendons
2 sticks cinnamon
3 star anise
1 tsp cloves
Salt to taste
1 stalk spring onion (white part only)
2 medium red onions, quartered
2cm piece ginger, bruised
1 litre of water
1 tbsp corn oil

1. Heat up a pot of water and add spring onions and ginger to boil.
2. Add tendons to cook briefly for 5 minutes. Drain tendons, set aside, discard water, spring onions and ginger.
3. Heat up a deep casserole with corn oil. Add onions and sauté. Add spices to fry till fragrant.
4. Now add tendons and fry for 3 to 5 minutes until they sizzle a bit.
5. Add water, cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 2 hours till tendons are soft.
6. Add salt to taste, serve warm with rice.

Where to get Beef Tendons in Singapore?
Its often sold as frozen packs at Carrefour(Plaza Sing).
Once in a while you will find it at Cold Storage or Jason's Marketplace.

Oct 19, 2008

A thought that counts

While I was cleaning up the cabinets last month to make way for new cabinets. I had to junk some old stuff I don't need and keep what I will need. There seems to be alot of stuff I have. Which I don't need but I wonder why I am still keeping it!

And I saw this little white beaded rabbit in my stash of stuff. And almost forgotten little keepsake I had. It was a gift some many Christmases ago. Hand made and wrapped in tissue paper. A gift from my aunt SF. A year after she became a single parent. I remember keeping this and when we moved house, it was always kept with my jewellry box of things that are expensive and important.

Although it was not an expensive jewellry item. To me, it meant so much as auntie couldn't afford lavish Christmas gifts anymore. And she made it by hand, just for me. As I was born in the lunar year of the Rabbit. This little gift of love was no taller than a 20 cent coin.

Many years ago, my dad use to remind us all the true meaning of giving. He always say that we should not look at gifts as how much it costs or or how expensive it is but to look into the gift of love, the thought that counts.

So now, I teach my girls too, that same philosophy that a gift is measured by love a person has for you. Not by the monetary value or the size of it.

This little beaded rabbit is now kept in my jewellry box again. One of my must-have, must-keep, and most treasure gift of love.

Oct 14, 2008

My Gift to Jesus

I am such a crazy dog lover since young. Brought up in a home and a family who loves dogs. Although we had other pets in the house like cats, rabbits and even chickens! When I was old enough to have $$ to spend it, I wanted to get my own dog. So my sister and I took out some savings and bought a dog. At that time, we know nothing about caring for a young puppy so we settled for an old 'stud' instead. He wasn't an old dog. Just too old to sire any more puppies.

He was bred for size, quality and was very tiny. He was my first owned dog..we couldn't change his pet name as his ex owners have been calling him that since he was a puppy. When we got him, he was just past 6 years old. He weighed only 4 pounds! And was a joy to have at home.

All my cousins grew up with fond memories of him. When I was dating my hubby, he was still around. My mother in law adored him too.

When he passed away in March 1989, the whole family went into mourning for a family pet. He was more than a pet. He was FAMILY. And his name was Jimmy. He was 16 years old when he died in my arms at the Pet hospital.

A dear friend send me a poem to brighten me up. Since then, I have relook, re-read this poem when my old pets have gone to the Rainbow Bridge...

My Gift to Jesus

I wish someone had given little Jesus
a dog as loyal and loving as mine
to sleep by His manger and gaze in His eyes
and adore Him for being divine.

As our Lord grew to manhood His own faithful dog
would have followed Him all through the day
while He preached to the crowds and made the sick well
and knelt in the garden to pray.

It is sad to remember that Christ went away
to face death alone and apart
with no tender dog following close behind
to comfort His masters heart.

And when Jesus rose on that Easter morn
how happy He would have been
as His dog kissed His hand and barked it's delight
for the one who died for all men.

Well the Lord has a dog now, I just sent Him mine...
My old pal so dear to me
And I smile through my tears on this first day alone
knowing they're in eternity.

~author unknown-

Today I am getting all too emotional..as its Beauty's birthday today. If she is still here with me, she will be 15 years old. Grand old dame.


Oct 9, 2008

Kitchen Capers Forum moved...

To all my members/students at Kitchen Capers forum, please re-login at this new site for the forum


She crashed on Tuesday night due to overeating, over indulgence of good food, good wine and good company. So Prashant, my good friend and also her guardian angel had to 'revive' her and moved her to a new location.

She is fine now...over the period of 4 years, she has grown to be too 'fat'...hosting some 2000 plus plus of tried and tested recipes, 4000 images of wonderful food, showing all the wonderful step by step pictures of how to cook or bake. She has all the information about ingredients and household appliances, on how to use, where to get and where is having a good promotion.

Thank you everyone who loved her and nurtured her...