Monthly Archives: September 2010

Blueberriest Muffins

Great recipe.  ‘Nuff said.

Makes 1 dozen muffins – via cookstr

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Line 12 large muffin cups with paper liners and spray the top part of the pan lightly with vegetable oil spray.

3. Combine or sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

4. Whisk together the butter, eggs, milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a separate bowl until well combined.

5. Place 1 cup of the blueberries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse several times until coarsely chopped. Stir the chopped berries into the egg mixture.

6. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist and blended. Do not overmix. Fold in the remaining whole blueberries. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan with a large ice cream scoop (1/3-cup scoop). The batter will come to the top of the paper liner or pan.

7. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

8. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Turn the muffins out of the pan and enjoy !

9. Taste great toasted in the morning for breakfast !

Variations: Substitute raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries for some of the blueberries for a mixed-berry muffin.

If using frozen blueberries, use them while they are still frozen; it helps hold the shape of the muffin (otherwise, the batter will become too watery).

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What would I do without my Nespresso ?

Apart from the genius ads they have starring George Clooney (my favourite pictured here), I can honestly say that Nespresso has changed my coffee-drinking life.

Coming from Sydney – the city which has a pretty damn good coffee in almost every street corner (see my previous post on my local favourites when I used to live there) – I have struggled to find a good coffee close to home now that I live in Singapore.  We inherited a Nespresso machine from my parents when mum needed a more streamlined version to fit into her new kitchen and ever since then, I have had the wonderful benefit of a McDonalds-type coffee, any time I want, in the comfort of my own home.  Seriously, because the coffee comes in individually vacuum-sealed capsules, you are guaranteed the same great coffee, EVERY TIME.  No need to store the coffee in airtight containers in the freezer, no need to worry how much water to put in the percolator, just consistently terrific coffee that needs nothing added – no milk, no sugar – to be enjoyed.

I have to admit, the name “Nespresso” to me, came initially with a good dose of skepticism, with its association with awful instant coffee, but I have learned my lesson and it is NOT bitter heehee.

And I’ve been to the Nespresso boutique in Ion on Orchard Road to buy more coffee capsules, and there, you can try new roasts or just enjoy your favourite cup of coffee.

I also appreciate the no service required AND the no-mess cleanup – you simply bin the empty capsules.  No messing about with wet ground coffee beans.

I swear I think every home should have one.  And every workplace too !  I’m sure it would guarantee an alert team of employees who would also be happy at not having to pay $6 for a cup of dishwashing water from Starbucks.

Nespresso boutique in Singapore
ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn , #01-14
238801 Singapore


Attempt only if you have a dishwasher: spinach and ricotta cannelloni

I love cooking, and every now and then I like to cook really fidlly and involved dishes – although perhaps choosing to cook spinach and ricotta cannelloni on a Thursday night was a mistake.  I should have left it for the weekend where time was on my side.

It’s got all the makings of what should be delicious – healthy spinach (I’m still on a detox high), creamy ricotta, bechamel sauce, topped with napolitana sauce and then more cheese – but what a messy and time consuming dish it is !  Thing is, nothing every made me think otherwise, and I’m just about to take it out of the oven so I might change my mind after I’ve got a full belly, but man oh man I think I used up every pot and dish I had in the kitchen (and believe me, I have a LOT).

I followed the BBC food recipe (here) if you’re interested 🙂  I made a few changes – 60g butter and flour instead to make a creamier bechamel sauce, and wilted 300g of fresh spinach in a pan (I feel like you keep in the nutrients and flavour more than using boiled spinach)


All this good food leads to a good detox

Once or twice a year I find myself feeling sluggish, and that, to me, is my body telling me it’s time to give my liver a break and detox.  I have been doing a once or twice a year detox now for about ten years, and for me, it seems to “reset” my digestive system.  When I started I went truly hard core for two weeks, and I have to admit, it was the toughest two weeks where all I could think about was “bad” food.  I realise now after years of tweaking with new recipes and ideas, that everyone needs to plan their own detox programme according to their own lives – you need to factor in that ideally some of the detox recipes will end up working their way into your normal eating habits.

There are tons of detox programmes out there – the one I use follows these basic principles:
1) No meat – red or white
2) No processed food – white sugars, breads, cakes, biscuits etc
3) No alcohol
4) No caffeine
5) No dairy

What you can eat:
1) Any fruit, vegetable, legume etc (you know, the healthy stuff) – go for brightly coloured vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, peppers and avocados etc and you can’t really go wrong
2) Brown rice, whole grain breads, brown rice/corn/buckwheat/quinoa pastas, steel cut oats (if you can’t get these then try normal oats, just don’t ever eat the instant oats as they have been so processed that all the goodness of the oats is stripped away)
3) Raw nuts (the good fats in nuts can go rancid once they are cooked) like almonds and cashews and macadamias
4) Tofu and soy milk – look for non GMO products
5) small portions of fish if you want
6) Herbal teas – peppermint, dandelion, fennel
7) Start each day upon rising with a big mug of warm water with a good squeeze of lemon. This really helps to kickstart your metabolism.
8)You need to take two spoons of psyllium husk three times a day to really flush out your system and drink lots of water.  Try for 2L a day

Now ideally you’re meant to be on this programme for 2 weeks, but I have found that that is simply too long for someone who loves food so much – to the point where detoxing becomes a real chore and I’m likely to cheat, or quit and start hoovering steaks and cakes and guzzling bottles of wine.  I find that a week is enough to get to the point where you are just enjoying eating clean, healthy food, and you can feel a difference.  Stick to the basic principles as much as you can, my best advice is to plan plan plan – your social life, your grocery shopping, your meals.  At the end of the week, you should feel energised (not in need of a coffee to start the day), less bloated…overall, just healthier.  A plus is you might even feel some weight dropping off – basically it’s not the healthy food so much as you tend to simply consume less calories, but hey, can’t hurt.

I thought I’d share some ideas for meals below.  Good luck, try your best and just enjoy eating healthily for a week.

Homemade hummus:
1 can chickpeas (you can cook from the dried beans if you have the time – soak 100g overnight and simmer until tender)
100g sesame seeds – lightly dry toast them and finely grind in the food processor
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
Chuck them all in the food processor until smooth – you need to add enough lemon juice so that you can taste it but it doesn’t overpower the dip.  Serve with a sprinkling of paprika and chick peas and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Use as a dip with crudites as a snack, or use as a spread in sandwiches, on top of whole grain crackers with tomatoes and avocado or if you’re feeling very healthy, alfalfa sprouts.

Vegetable soup
Gently fry onions until soft
Add chopped carrots and celery and fry until coated
Add vegetable stock
Simmer 20 mins
Add a bay leaf  and harder vegetables (like beans) and simmer for 10 more mins
Add softer vegetables like chopped spinach, zuccini just before you take off the heat.
You can also add some quinoa for some texture and protein.

Some other great simple soup ideas:
Carrot and ginger
Pumpkin
Broccoli
Watercress (you can thicken with a potato if you want)
Potato and Leek

Wakame Salad
Soak dried wakame until soft, add to lettuce leaves, cucumber, tomato and silken tofu.
Make dressing with some tamari (or soya sauce if you can’t get tamari), sesame oil, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Other salad ideas:
Quinoa salad – cook quinoa and fluff, add chopped cucumber, red onion and red capsiscum.  Dress with mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts olive oil (basically a couscous salad)
Tuna nicoise salad (minus the egg) – add tuna on top of bed of lettuce and french beans, dress with olive oil and lemon juice

PASTA
You can get dried organic brown rice pastas from health food stores and make all sorts of vegetable sauces:
eggplant and tomato with basil
spinach
spaghetti aglio e olio
broccoli
pesto


Lip tingling crab at Jumbo Seafood

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Jumbo Seafood at Riverside Point, near Clarke Quay.  Used to be that this was the standard place to bring visitors to Singapore to eat their famous Singapore chilli crab, but since the whole esplanade area has been built up, No Signboard has been a much more scenic  and frenetic location.

A friend visiting organised dinner at Jumbo – it doesn’t seem like the esplanade has taken any of its business away, with incredibly three seatings.  We stuck to the standards – Singapore chilli crab, black pepper crab, homemade tofu and fried rice.  I have to say I’d forgotten just how sweet their chilli crab sauce was – but even that amount of sweetness couldn’t take away the heat of the chilli.  We were warned that the black pepper crab would be spicier still, with the pepper this time adding the heat instead of the chilli, and they were right – by the end of the meal, I could barely feel my lips.

I actually love spicy food, but when the heat takes over all other flavours, it takes away a lot of the enjoyment of eating the food for me.  I missed the delicate sweetness of the crab in both dishes, and was left disappointed.  My favourite dish of the evening was their fried rice, which was surprisingly great!

Not sure I’ll be back there in a hurry.

Jumbo Riverside Point
30 Merchant Road # 01-01/02 Riverside Point
Singapore 058282
Tel: 6532-3435