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Head over to http://trufflebeth.squarespace.com
Butter, flour, eggs and sugar… And chocolate chips. It shouldn’t be too difficult, right?
Well, I don’t know about you but I am still on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I’m still searching for The One. Google “perfect chocolate chip cookies”, and you’ll get 1001 results; of websites and blogs, all claiming that they have found the perfect cookie, yet the recipes differ. There seems to be a lack of consensus on what makes for the chocolate chip cookie. Now, before we get into the different variations (crunchy, chewy, cakey and whatnot), I’d just like to put it out there that perfection is relative. I suppose there’s a perfect cookie for each cookie category that exists. The Perfect Crunchy, Perfect Chewy, the list goes on…
Subway cookies are a good example of my kind of Perfect cookie. I have yet understand how they achieve that perfectly chewy inside, and crisp cookie edge. I don’t like my cookies plain crunchy because I feel like I’m going to break my teeth, and chewy cookies are so hard to get right because you risk your cookie coming out soft/underbaked rather than chewy.
SO I’ve decided to embark on a quest. A quest to find the recipe of my Perfect chocolate chip cookie! I’ve been trying for so long anyway, so I guess I’ll attempt to document my journey through this blog.
This recipe I attempted is from one of my favourite blogs of all time, iamafoodblog!! She has a number of chocolate chip cookie recipes on her blog, but this is her most recent one, adapted from Tara O’Brady’s new cookbook, Seven Spoons!
One thing I love about this recipe is — no mixer needed! It’s so simple and efficient, you literally only need two bowls to make this whole thing. One for the dry ingredients, and one for the wet. Yay! Also, this recipe calls for brown butter. The very first time I tried to brown butter, I burnt it. So, do keep a very close watch on your butter and one way to test it is to use a spoon and spoon some into a white bowl (ah, third bowl used!) to see how brown it is exactly. I found this guide especially helpful to browning butter.
Also, Stephanie shared a very helpful tip to prevent one from overmixing their cookie dough: to mix the dry ingredients in just a little (you should still be able to see streaks of flour) before adding in the chocolate chips and mixing it all together. You see, most recipes tell us to mix the dry ingredients in until “just combined” before adding the chocolate chips, but when you mix the chocolate chips in, the dough unfortunately gets overmixed in the process which is such a pity! So I ended up with something like this:
I like these cookies because they do have a pretty good chew to them, but they lack a crisp exterior. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m baking it for too short a period of time, because the original recipe said to bake it for 10-12 minutes but I found that it wasn’t enough. I actually changed the oven setting to ‘fan’ in a bit to brown the tops a bit more…
Chocolate Chip Cookies v1: Tara O’Brady’s (from iamafoodblog), adapted from here
What to do:
Conclusion: these cookies are good, I’d say that they’re above average, but they’re not tHE ONE. But I’m getting there, one cookie at a time.
“March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers”
I’m really happy with how this roll of film turned out! The colours turned out beautifully in this one, and I have fewer bad shots – and only one terribly underexposed one in the whole roll, an improvement from the previous roll! c:
I just wish that film isn’t such an expensive hobby :-( The cost of buying a new disposable camera every month and developing the film adds up, sigh. But I’m a little hesitant about investing in a “legit” film camera, as I don’t quite have the skills to use it and I feel like I will be wasting even more money and film on experimentation. The camera I’m using right now is so easy to use, it’s simply a case of point-and-shoot.
And you get such lovely effects!
I feel like this shot came out a lot nicer this time round! I took a similar one in my April post (view it here)! They were taken from different angles though. This photo was taken in the early morning one day, when I was planning to make a visit to Nylon but I was a bit too early.
Robertson Quay / Toby’s Estate for breakfast (or lunch, or brunch) with Darryl one Sunday morning
St Andrew’s Cathedral – the most beautiful church in Singapore, and this photo does not do justice to it.
Sights along Orchard Road
More Chinatown stuff, early morning walks
Left: Dempsey Hill, where I was brought to see the big fish in that pond
Right: Gillman Barracks (I’m really upset at how my finger ruined the photo), taken after brunch at the Red Baron one morning
Random photos on walks. I don’t remember where the photo on the right was taken, but it was a beautiful day. Evidently.
Left: Jalan Besar in the evening, on the way to Swee Choon for dinner with the guys
Right: Bras Basah Complex, when I went to buy copic markers for an art thing I’m trying to do
Along Clemenceau Avenue, just before River Valley, // Fort Canning Hotel
both taken on the way to yoga class one day
Left: Spruce @ the Old Fire Station
Right: A Challenge. We were walking, and chanced upon a little stream of water flowing and you said, “a professional photographer would be able to capture the exact flow of the water”, and i decided to try taking a photograph of it myself. I’d like to think that it came out pretty well, especially for an amateur like me.
Left: Food Center in Mountbatten
Right: Dakota Crescent (where Tian Kee and Co is located), which will be completely redeveloped in 2016
I’m really glad that I managed to capture the picture on the right as I managed to get a picture of (one part of) this old estate before it gets torn down, and another condominium (or whatever new thing) takes its place. I have very mixed feelings about development. On one hand, it’s good that we’re always trying to move forward and progress towards the future, right? Especially given the continued rise in population and constant need to supply housing for people.
But on the other hand… It feels like we’re losing such part of our history. And history is important, although I dropped the subject after Sec 2. It’s important to retain bits and pieces of heritage, of the ‘old Singapore’, of what used to be.
But it’s so hard to make a judgment on what should be done. We can’t put numerical values on such things, in the sense that you can’t quantify the value of the past vs the potential gain from the future, because they both add value, but in different ways.
Zouk in the day (LOL)
Left: Botanic Gardens MRT, on a random morning
Right: Just outside the Plaza, along Beach Road (taken pre-interview, while I was lying down)
Left: On the way to Assembly, where the flower shop is
Right: Fire station at Marymount on the way to the MRT
The Day My Photos Turned Out Really Well.
Left: Kallang River, Right: Along Nicoll Highway
I’m ending off this series of photographs with two that I really love. In fact, they’re my favourites in the whole album, but I like the one taken along Nicoll Highway best. On the left side of the picture, you can see the CBD, all the tall, metallic structures, in darker hues. But on the right, you see a glimpse of somewhat “older” Singapore; a different side of it: HDB estates, mostly painted in white. And they are somewhat divided by that tall Black and White structure in the middle, The Concourse. It’s an interesting contrast, and I like it very much – standing in the middle of it all, a changing landscape.
I’ve been craving ice cream lately… And when I crave something, I mean intense, i-need-this-now-or-i-feel-like-my-life-will-be-over kind of cravings. Sure, I can’t get everything I want when I want it all the time, and a lot of the time I just ~ride it out~ or try to sleep it off and the craving will subside. But it’s not a foolproof method.
I still wake up imagining the taste of said craving in my mouth, the smell, the flavours dancing in my mouth… It’s painful, sometimes. The other day, I went downstairs to the minimart just to buy a tub of ice cream because I was craving it that badly. It was a tub of red velvet ben and jerry’s, which by the way, is better in Singapore than in the US?? I don’t know why but I remember excitedly buying a tub in San Francisco before they brought red velvet to Singapore and I was so underwhelmed by it. In fact, I distinctly remember it tasting like raspberries, whereas the one here actually tastes of red velvet. It’s even got chunks of red velvet cake inside!
Unfortunately, I can’t eat ice cream everyday (well, I could, but) – it isn’t advisable to; everything in moderation right? So with that, I thought of this alternative that I’ve been seeing around on the internet quite a bit – nice cream!
Touted as a “vegan”, healthier version of ice cream, nice cream is basically frozen bananas that has been blended or put through the food processor until it reaches a creamy consistency. It’s quick, simple, and actually healthy!
As you can (probably) see, I didn’t blend my nice cream very fully and this has resulted in me having some frozen banana chunks in it, but I think I like it that way c: To top it off, I also blended in some frozen raspberries and strawberries to turn it into a berry nice cream! It’s berry nice, trust me.
I suppose things as simple as this don’t really require a recipe, as a lot of it is about trusting your instincts and adding more or less of stuff as you wish. But here are some tips to help you get started:
This place is a gem. Not so much hidden, because it’s hard to miss a bright red shack like this in the middle of the sleepy Gillman Barracks – but a gem, no doubt. If it were a gemstone, I’m sure that it would be a ruby – a beautiful red, but nothing too outlandish – much like the place itself.
I love how quiet and peaceful the place is in the day. Not too sure about nightfall, though, when the cafe turns into a bar. But I like the serenity found here in the day. I’ve come to realise that I’m more of a morning person – I always have been, but it kind of feels like I lost myself in the last few months.
The first two times I visited this cafe, I had their french toast – a glorious hybrid of local flavours and brunch food. Topped with bananas, gula melaka sauce and a generous sprinkling of coconut shavings, you are also given the option of adding a scoop of coconut or vanilla ice cream on the side to make it all the more decadent.
I have two special mentions to give out here.
One, is to the crust of the toast. I honestly wonder how this crust is able to retain its lovely, crisp texture despite us being able to taste the egginess of the whole thing. I love how the toast is soaked all the way through by the egg mixture, but holds up a beautiful crisp/soggy contrast. The second special mention is to the gula melaka sauce! I’m not usually a fan of gula melaka, as I find that many of the offerings around are thin and watery, and taste way too much like coconut. This gula melaka doesn’t have that overpowering coconut taste; and I appreciate it for that. The sauce here is thick, rich, caramelly and pairs so well with the french toast-and-bananas combination.
I came here with my whole family on my third visit as it was Mother’s Day! And my mom wanted to visit a nice, quiet little cafe with good coffee, and Red Baron was the perfect choice. We had a lovely and peaceful morning, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The best part about visiting a cafe in a large group (well, my family is relatively big) is that you get to try more things. We ordered six mains for five people :x
This garlic prawn pasta was surprisingly delicious. The prawns were fresh, pasta cooked al-dente, and a sprinkling of parmesan around the plate gave the dish an added element of savoury goodness. My sister and dad shared this, and they ordered another one as they were still feeling peckish, and had enjoyed this one a lot.
Eggs on Toast, served with roasted vegetables. My mom and I went for poached eggs, while my sister went for scrambled. The eggs were well-poached (when I say this I basically mean that they fulfil my criteria for poached eggs), albeit a little watery around the edges – they could have been better drained, I guess. Multigrain and sourdough are my two favourite types of bread to be eaten on a regular basis, but I have a thing for the sunflower seeds that are often found inside multigrain toast. And this multigrain toast was so good! I couldn’t get enough. Neither could my sister (who can be decently picky with her food at times), who finished her two slices of toast with her scrambled eggs. Which she enjoyed so much, that she forgot to take a picture of it until she was done. But I guess that’s a good thing!
Bad edit (apologies) but I finally got to try the beefy ploughman on this visit! I was debating between this and the french toast on my second visit, but they were out of beef after the Labour Day weekend, and their supplier had yet to arrive that day. This was the last dish to come, and by then we were already quite stuffed… But I managed to make some space to try this! It was quite worth the price, though I wish that there were more caramelised onions. Overall though, everything in the sandwich went pretty well together. I love the combination of beef and cheese, and I liked the fluffy interior of the bread.
One thing I like about the Red Baron is how fresh the ingredients are. The menu is relatively small, consisting of simple breakfast dishes, pastas and sandwiches. But the mark of a good cafe (or at least, one mark) is the ability to elevate the simplest of dishes into something truly delicious and worth your money. Red Baron pulls this off tremendously well, and consistently, at that.
Coffee is Liberty’s Speakeasy blend – one of the most reliable blends around. Wholesome, consistent stuff. The piccolos here are ace, my mom and I always have two each when we go.
It is usually at this point I would post a picture of the exterior or the design of the place… But I don’t have any. So I’ll leave you to go and find out what it looks like for yourself (or, you can simply google). Bring a book, a companion, even your laptop to watch shows on – I re-watched the first two Harry Potter movies with a friend there, and the atmosphere was perfect. The natural light here is my best friend. So is the peace and quiet.
Given how good this place is, I fear it may not be peaceful and quiet for long. But good things are meant to be shared, I guess.
Life is full of hits and misses and sometimes, you have to take a shot in the dark.
And you never really know how those turn out. It’s a lot of risk-taking and finger-crossing and internal prayer-saying – and if you’re lucky, you get a hit. Hopefully in your life you have more hits than misses, but if anything, I’d hope the hits are always worth the misses.
I had a hit today!!
Oh, happy day. I had initially planned to go for a run at 730 and then come home, make some pancakes and do some work. But how often do plans turn out the way you want them to, anyway. I woke up at 10 and went out for coffee with my mommy instead, at Dutch Colony – a favourite haunt of ours. I love our morning coffee runs, and a jolt of caffeine is one of my favourite ways to kickstart the day. Gets my mind going, brain cells working. A buzz of energy. Also, time spent with mommy is always time well-spent. Good mornings, indeed.
By the time I got back, it was time for brunch… Lunch… Whatever. I’m sitting at the dining table typing this out as my parents are eating their lunch (traditional “popiah”) and eating… Pancakes. Pancakes all day, everyday, no?
Gonna blog the recipe down, so I know where to find it in the future. I hope it hits you as well as it did me. The original recipe calls for low-fat milk, but I substituted this for buttermilk so that I would have fluffier pancakes, pancakes with a little more rise. Also, a shoutout to my friend who bought me a lovely bottle of maple syrup from Canada – thanks to him, I’ve got the real deal. (It’s amazing, by the way!)
Banana Buttermilk Pancakes
recipe adapted from here
P.S. I got a Townske account, and I’m currently working on a few guides for Singapore – most of which have to do with food and cafes, do check it out sometime! You can check it out here:
P.P.S I just watched Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood music video, and I am in LOVE.
Today, I quit my job.
I had been working there sine January this year, after IB results came out, in a bid to gain some experience of what it’s like working in f&b and to do something productive with my time. It was at one of my favourite cafes, doing the usual service stuff – taking orders, serving coffee, and lots (and lots) of washing.
I guess it was a decision based on various situations and things that have been bugging me for a while. I mean, this job had its fun moments, and I have met a lot of really great people along the way. People that were fun to work with, who looked out for each other and really showed me what it meant to work in a team. It also showed me how much work goes into the day-to-day running of a cafe and especially some of the workings on the back end. Things aren’t always as perfect as they seem to be, but I guess that’s usually the case for anywhere and anything. I think I was talking to someone once, or I read this from somewhere – passion is actually derived from the word pasi, a latin word that means “suffering”, or “enduring”. I guess passion and hard work should really go hand in hand, and if you truly have a passion for something, you won’t mind going through shit for it. For me, I guess I drew a line as to how much shit I was willing to take. Quitting won’t always be a viable option, especially when I enter the workforce upon graduating University, but I shall exercise this freedom while I can.
After talking to a number of baristas and cafe owners for The Local Barista (a website thing I’m working on), I realised how important passion is, but also priorities. I have so much respect for all these people whom I’ve talked to, because the amount of dedication they have and the amount of effort & hard work put in is simply astounding. To me, they really embody what it means to truly have a passion for something as they didn’t just sit on their butts and wait for success to come to them, or for other people to get it for them – they worked to get to where they are today, and they keep going. Honestly, it’s awfully inspiring.
With the (somewhat) extra time I have now (or one less commitment), I am going to make the best of all the time I have left! One of my May resolutions was to bake and blog more, so here I am trying to keep to it. The one thing I fear, however, is baking merely for the sake of baking. I remain thankful for the random bursts of inspiration once in a while, or for the baking feels that hit me ever so often, little things that keep me going.
Last night, I felt like baking a tart. I’ve seen frangipane things going around before, but I was always somewhat confused because frangipane doesn’t involve frangipanis (the flower), but it is actually an almond cream! I decided to top it with pears because well, I like the sound of a pear frangipane tart and the other option that I thought of was berries, but I had none at home.
Ah, pears. An all-time favourite fruit of mine.
Tart-making seems so simple, but it feels like there are so many steps that could go wrong along the way. I was so afraid that my pie crust would rise awkwardly as I didn’t have the beans to hold them down. I also had to hand-press the pie crust in as I had made the dough the night before, and when I wanted to roll it out the next morning it was solid and taking way too long to thaw. So, I broke little chunks off with my hands and just pressed them in, bit by bit. I was also afraid of the frangipane tasting a bit weird, as I put the cream in the fridge to set a little after making it but every time I checked on it, there seemed to be a little bit of unmixed egg yolk. I would then mix it in and it would all look fine, until I checked on it the next time! Thankfully it baked up alright and more importantly, tasted good!
I’m in a bit of a tart-making mood lately so do hit me up if you’re willing to be a tester of tarts :-)
Pear Frangipane Tart
For the crust, recipe adapted from here
(note: on hindsight i feel like i should have added some sugar (because i substituted the icing sugar in this recipe for almond flour), so do feel free to add that in.)
For the pears, recipe from here
For the frangipane, recipe from here
Take your pre-baked pie crust out of the oven, and let it cool for a while. About 5 minutes before baking, take your frangipane out of the fridge while you take the pears out of the syrup. Spread the frangipane in an even layer atop the crust, and arrange the pears above that however you like the look of it. Bake for approximately 55 minutes, and let cool.
Happy Mothers’ Day to all the moms out there!!
This Mothers’ Day, I decided to bake croissants for my dear mommy who just flew back from the USA this morning! She’s always flying there for business trips, which kind of sucks because I miss her quite a bit when she’s gone, but I know that she does this so that she can provide for us. I’m just really thankful for her. I’m also very lucky in the sense that she’s always been very supportive of my sisters and I, and she trusts us a lot and gives us a lot of freedom. She lets us grow and learn from our own mistakes, but will step in when things get too much for us to handle. She can also tell when something’s wrong without us having to say anything, and she will always be there for us no matter how busy she is. Mother truly knows best; mother truly is the best. She also has this amazing habit of reading people and being able to tell the good eggs from the rotten ones. Which has led to her giving me tons of great (and 90% spot on) advice, about people and all the other little things in life. Ok I could go on and on about my mom but I’ll stop before this post gets insanely long.
Okay so, croissants.
Here as some lesser-known facts about croissant-making:
The recipe I used is from topwithcinnamon, which I used primarily because of her amazingly helpful gifs! Her gif-making skills are terrific, and they were a good guide as to what to do at each step. They really made this seemingly-impossible task a lot more doable. Instead of making chocolate croissants, I decided to make Nutella ones as my mom is a fan of the chocolate hazelnut spread. I also halved the total recipe as I was afraid that it might turn out badly, and I wasn’t very keen on wasting an entire bag of flour on a failed recipe.
BUT! In my application to Yale-NUS, I remember a question that went along the lines of “What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?”, and I wrote that I would make croissants, or something to that effect. Well, I finally did and I wouldn’t say that these are fantastic, but they are not a failure!
Bless. I’m definitely going to make these again, some time in the near future (before I start school!) and when I do I’ll probably make a huge batch of dough to freeze and use when the croissantspiration strikes! You see, they weren’t kidding when they said that croissants are a labour of love and in a few months, I’ll have the love but not much time to labour…
I’m not going to post the recipe here as I normally do due to the very minimal changes I made to it. In fact, the main difference between this and Izy’s croissants is that instead of the 1 tbsp of chocolate chips, I used 1 tsp of Nutella instead. Anyway, I’m sure the gifs accompanying the recipe will be a lot more comprehensive than anything I could write, so here’s the link to the recipe:
I bought a disposable film camera last month. I’m no professional photographer or an expert with film – my first and only experience with film was last year, when I bought the same camera to document the last few days of school.
I’m trying to make it a point to buy a camera once a month, at least in the short term. With it I hope to be able to document how I’m spending this break of mine, and also to capture the beauty of our little country. Singapore is actually quite beautiful, but we often overlook this beauty and take it for granted. Which is a pity actually, because we go to other countries and to us, these places are “the most beautiful place on Earth” but we can’t even appreciate our own home.
Taken during one of my breaks from work while I was interning in a law firm in the CBD
Hong Lim Complex, Chinatown
South Buona Vista Road (Paddy Hills!!)
(I don’t even remember where the above photo was taken but I like it anyway)
Ghim Moh / Flock Cafe
Tiong Bahru / Plain Vanilla / Forty Hands
Botanic Gardens on a Sunday
Potato Head Folk // Chinatown
Artistry x SAM in film
On the way to Hoopla (the flowers along the road were really pretty)
National Museum of Singapore in evening
Bloomsbury Bakers / Haji Lane (which came out blurry sob)
Chun Tin Road / The Bravery (detox day)
Most of these photos came out underexposed. I think it’s because I pretty much didn’t use the flash at all in this roll of film, so that’s something to take note of for May’s camera. It’s quite a pity because I took some night shots with this camera, and they came out completely dark. That being said, this camera works wonders in bright light! Hopefully the next roll of film will be better : ) It’s such an exciting journey!
There is a cinnamon spectrum, I find, in which there are two extremes: the group of people who really, really like cinnamon, and the group that really, really doesn’t like cinnamon. Unfortunately, most people in my family fall in the latter category, and it is for that reason I grew up with a childhood that was pretty much deprived of cinnamon rolls and cinnamon-sugar toast.
I’m trying to make up for it now, though. Catching up on all the cinnamon that my blood sugar lacked in my first fifteen years of life.
I think my first (proper) encounter with cinnamon that I can remember is thepioneerwoman’s cinnamon sugar toast – the one in which she introduces the best way of making cinnamon toast, and why the other three methods just don’t measure up. I’ve been making cinnamon toast her way ever since, and I remember many mornings when I would have that for breakfast before school.
I’ve found that people these days have a tendency to overhype things. Be it llao llao or superga (disclaimer: i have nothing against those things!!!), everything nowadays is so great that you don’t quite know what is or isn’t worth investing the emotional effort into anymore. It’s getting hard to distinguish between the good, and the really good. The kind of good that is worth the extra effort for. So everything becomes good.
But let me assure you: these rolls are worth the extra effort. Every little bit of it. Although they’re actually really simple to make and not worth very much effort but they’re definitely worth any bit of effort you put into it. The only painful part about this recipe is the stickiness of the dough. Stephanie, from iamafoodblog says that this is due to the 69% hydration of the dough and that it is a necessary evil.
I guess it is possible for evil to turn good, though – the resultant bun is incredibly soft and pillowy, just how I like my buns. As a number of my family members are not part of the cinnamon-loving-fan-club, I made some Nutella rolls instead; substituting the cinnamon-sugar mixture for a few dollops of the well-loved chocolate hazelnut spread.
This is just one of the many things I love about this recipe, or just rolls in general. They are just so versatile! As I was saying to a friend of mine earlier this evening, all you need is a base recipe and from there, whatever you make is only limited by your imagination.
Initially, I had wanted to make citrus rolls. I even bought the oranges and tried making marmalade with them. Halfway through cooking, I added earl grey tea leaves due to a sudden burst of inspiration, hoping that this would be one of those magical experiments that resulted in a beautiful mess. Alas, it was only a mess.
So, cinnamon rolls and nutella rolls it was. I made this recipe more than once, just to assure myself that this recipe is just that good, which it is!
adapted from here
for the dough:
for the filling: