I make ugly food & it TASTES SO GOOD: Vol III

Baking, Cooking, Recipes, Thoughts

Hi friends! I’m back with the third installment of ugly food I cook and for some reason, you can’t get enough of!

I cook a couple of times a week and many times I look to the Internet Gods for guidance, advice and of course – recipes.

This installment is the longest I’ve ever done and features heavily on desserts… Clearly I need to stop pretending I live in a cold country and need sustenance in the form of sweet treats.

Because I live in Singapore and my ass needs sustenance in the form of raw green things. And some lean protein. But you know #details

SO. This time around I changed up the format. See the pretty pictures first and the ugly AND REAL pictures later.

You guys like reality? Right?

Classic Lemon Bars – Joy The Baker

This dessert, like so many others, was born out of a frenzy of denying my body sugar for days. Actually it might have been 24 hours. But as they say, same-to-same. I found the lemons in my fridge, stole my flatmate’s flour and baked these babies up. They might look questionable but I can actually say I pretty much ate ALL of this, by myself.

Healthy Quinoa Chicken Curry Bowls – Pinch of Yum

I always REALLY regret making Indian-fusion food or anything with the word curry in it. Why? It’s always insipid and then I crave my Mom’s food and then I crawl into a fetal position and cry. True story.

Ginger Walnut Chocolate Blondies – Joy the Baker

I have featured these babies before here, but before the editing and amateur “food styling” I attempted, they looked like this. They tasted friggin AMAZING though.

Goat Cheese and Blackberry Jam Grilled Sandwiches – Aamupalalla

I saw this grilled cheese, I had some left-over goat cheese, Hoi had just given me a mini-pot of strawberry jam – and I knew, it was meant to be. Stinky, cheesy and yummy, this baby was intense. Would I make it again? No. But do I regret it? No.

Chicken Shwarma Nachos – My Name is Yeh

I made these nachos for a girlie dinner and it went down like a hit. Looking back at these pictures makes me realize though that man – I have got to learn how to style food! Or accept that having a food blog might mean not eating the food you present on the blog. ANYWAY, this was very tasty and Molly Yeh’s original post on it is beautiful. I recommend taking a look.

Oatmeal raisin cookie baked oatmeal – Two Red Bowls

I saved the best, err ugliest, for last. A questionable textured breakfast that tasted pretty yummy, this baked oatmeal looked like the stuff of breakfast dreams, but in actuality looked CRAZY TERRIBLE. UGH.

I swear my food tastes good.

Wild Honey at Scotts Square

Eating Out, Restaurant Review

Ahh, Wild Honey.

The enclave of yuppies, tai-tais and expats in Singapore since 2010.

When my girlfriends and I were planning a long overdue catch-up and wanted it to be in an indulgent setting (because we’re worth it), we decided to do it at Wild Honey. It’s convenient location meant we could launch directly into a completely unnecessary shopping spree right after in ALL THE MALLS on Orchard Road.

So we, ok fine, I prepped myself by wearing a the uniform of the female Singapore weekender. The maxi dress. Just the right degree of chic and what, this old thing?

English

English

Wild Honey serves breakfast all day, err day and it’s expensive. Like over 20 bucks per dish (for the most part, at least).

The breakfasts are named after the countries they are supposedly served in and the portions are not huge, but large enough to make you regret you eating the whole thing.

This time around I went for the “English,” which I regretted because really I had my eye on the “Santa Fe” as soon as I saw the menu. Word of advice, if you ask for your server’s recommendation, you generally have to take it or you look like an asshole. So don’t ask for their recommendation.

The “English” was hearty but ordinary – and I found myself craving my homemade version of Ayam brand baked beans, chicken sausages and regular sliced bread.

Californian

Californian

Mel had the very photogenic “Californian” which was eggs scrambled with tofu/veggies and I wanna say, ciabatta.

Ham and Brie Sandwich

Ham and Brie Sandwich

Hoi opted to go the sandwich route and hers was a delicious ham and cheese ciabatta thingy.

The Tunisian (SGD24?)

The Tunisian (SGD24?)

Amy, the last girlfriend standing, chose the “Tunisian” which was shaksuka.

Coffee was generally great and the ambiance was comfortably snobby.

All in all, Wild Honey is what I call a black hole of brunch. A somewhat unnecessary experience you keep getting sucked into.

Wild Honey at Scotts Square
333A Orchard Rd
238897
6235 3900

Croute

Eating Out, Flash Restaurant Review
The Sardouuuu (20 bucks ish?)

The Sardouuuu (20 bucks ish?)

What:A lovely, lazy Western-ish brunch place in the middle of a not very beautiful mall.

Pros: The coffee is GREAT and their vibe, along with their very friendly and accommodating staff.

Cons: The food is actually a hit or miss, sometimes very good and sometimes very average. The sardou, pictured above, was a bit of both. As in amazing mushrooms/artichoke combo but kinda jelat spinach cream? But I’ve had better luck with their sandwiches and salads.

Verdict: Go alone and just get like a pastry/sandwich and a coffee and read one of the magazines they have laying around. It’s an amazing hangout place. But maybe bring your earphones. There are many children. MANY CHILDREN.

Details:
Croute
491 River Valley Road
#01-11/12
Valley Point Shopping Centre
Singapore 248371

Spinach Salad with ALL THE ROASTED VEGGIES

Recipes
The original spinach salad + all the veggies

The original spinach salad + all the veggies

I have fallen back in love.

With eating salad!

I don’t know what happened but after I stopped trying to make eating salad a chore and devoted a bit more TLC to the process – I’ve started loving it. I’m literally just super excited to go home and eat dinner right now.

I put on some music.

Slipped into something comfortable.

Roasted some vegetables ahead of time.

Ok I didn’t do any of the above – but I did roast the vegetables.

And I was wearing my trademark too-ugly-to-be-seen-by-the-world-ever “home clothes.” You don’t want to know.

But I mean seriously – look, look, LOOK AT THIS

Veggies ready to be roasted - ALL the colors

Veggies ready to be grilled – ALL the colors

That happened yesterday afternoon. I roasted these beautiful babies and then I made some quinoa and the chicken and I just patted myself on the back.

Because that is the best Sunday my friends.

It seriously is.

My dinner prep for the week #winning

My dinner prep for the week #winning

Lemon and Red Wine Vinegar Kick-ASS Dressing – adapted from Martha Stewart
1 minced garlic pod

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
a few twists of freshly ground black pepper
few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 Tbsps red-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

Salad – you can decide the amounts you want, the chicken should work for about 2 servings
Baby Spinach
Broccoli / Pumpkin / Red Peppers / Carrots / Red Beets > any and all of these would be GREAT – also roast these the night before or earlier, just earlier, you need like 40 minutes
2 – 4 Tbsps Olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Grilled Chicken Thigh
1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

First, preheat the oven to 175C/350C.

Cut whatever veggies you intend to roast into similar sized pieces.

Place on a tray and toss with olive oil, you decide the amount!

Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking/browning/whatever.

Measure all the dressing ingredients into an old jam/mustard/whatever jar, as long as it’s glass. Shake vigorously.

Toss salad ingredients with the dressing.

It’s so good guys and the salad dressing = BEST.

My dinner tonight - yummm

My dinner tonight – yummm

Working on Weekends

Thoughts, Work

I don't got time to WORK over the weekend!

I don’t got time to WORK over the weekend!

I’ve got this friend, Gina, who loves her work. She loves what she does and sometimes works on weekends.

I’m guessing she does this because:
A) She has stuff she can’t get done during the week.
B) She works in theater related stuff so performances are sometimes on weekends = no choice.
C) See the first paragraph above.

I do NOT work on weekends. I really don’t like to do it and it makes me feel like I’m giving up my precious free time.

This is not because I hate my work. I love the work I do. I don’t know it has to do a bit with how I like to really switch off on weekends on go into this whole other WEEKENDDINI mode.

But lately I’ve been feeling that when I get back to work on Monday I’m disoriented, unprepared and just not ready for the week – both in terms of being organized and just being mentally there.

So two weekends ago I came home with two work tasks. The first was to transcribe an interview and the second was to finish a draft of the press release.

First one got done – second one DID not.

Last weekend, I had all these good intentions, I had been working on a press release that was just not there and I HAD to finish it.

But when the weekend came, I just didn’t want to do it.

I knew I could get it done at work.

Then I thought, maybe I’m approaching it the wrong way.

Maybe instead of doing work over the weekend, I could prepare myself for the work-week ahead.

Whatever was bothering me the week before or that I had difficulties with, I could address it.

I decided to try keeping 3 mantras or resolutions in mind for the week ahead. So that I could have a bit of a guide for the next week.

For example they could be:
1. Proofread everything by reading it out loud
2. Give 100% at work
3. Smile more at people in the hallways

WHATEVER.

And so, I had my 3 mantra-lutions, not the ones above because mine are personal, and I found the week better. Monday didn’t seem so blue and I was more able to deal better, with everything that came my way.

I’m hoping this is the start of something positive but man, maybe that’s really all the work I need to do over a weekend.

Druggists

Eating Out, Flash Restaurant Review

Not actually my beer (I can't drink the dark stuff) but this a preview of the pretty glasses they serve them in!

Not actually my beer (I can’t drink the dark stuff) but this a preview of the pretty glasses they serve them in!

What: A craft beer joint (23 different types!) housed in what used to be an old school chinese pharmacy. See: hipster.

Pros: The beers (prices range from SGD8-15-ish), which are plentiful and DELICIOUS and the staff who are helpful and charming.

Cons: Food is not their strongest suit – especially the coffee ribs – don’t order them, they be bitter. Also, where are the nuts man? I need me some nuts with my beer!

Verdict: It’s a great place to start the night, especially if you’re a beer drinker. My recommendation – tuck in a dosa, or two, at nearby Little India, and walk over for some beer to settle those carbs.

Details:
Druggists
119 Tyrwhitt Road

Grub

Eating Out, Flash Restaurant Review

Crispy fish burgerrr (SGD14) with friesss (SGD9) - in the back

Crispy fish burgerrr (SGD14) with friesss (SGD9) – in the back

What: An ethical Jap/Western fusion-ish restaurant in the middle of NOWHERE.

Pros: Really, REALLY good fries. They were soft AND crisp and the mentaiko mayo dip was addictive. Also, the setting is beeyootiful.

Cons: Ok I know I ordered a fried fish burger and fries (to share ok?!) but everything felt really heavy and oily – and my eating mate had the same opinion when it came to her pasta.

Verdict: Go if you’re feeling like a beer with fried food. Also, please try the churros and tell me how they are. Thanksss.

Details:
Grub
510 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1

Lazy Woman’s Chocolate Chip Cookies AKA Blondies

Baking, Recipes
Tower of delicious-ness

Tower of delicious-ness

I know y’all, it’s Salad Mondays, I promised you a nutritious recipe of salad goodness that would inspire you to take on the world and your week.

But ALAS. It’s not to be because although I have a salad to present to you… it looks like this:

2015-01-31 14.26.22

In case you actually want to know what this is, it’s leftover chopped romaine, baked salmon with a simple lemon-garlic-oil dressing. Actually its crazy tasty. Just not very photogenic.

This past weekend I went to a barbecue and of course I had to take something because I have a food blog. If I didn’t take anything that would make me A) lose credibility and B) an asshole.

But I really didn’t want to take a potato salad, which is basically the easiest thing you can make for a group, and I didn’t want to make brownies because I recently have had some bad luck baking brownies. They’ve just been underdone and potentially salmonella causing.

What I really wanted was chocolate chip cookies.

What I really didn’t want was to spend my Saturday watching my oven.

Then I had a brainwave. Ages ago, when I was attempting to win host-of-the-year with my bruschetta bar themed brunch, I made this crazy easy batch of blondies for dessert. They took 5 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to bake and my guests kept raving about them like no other. I, on the other hand, was on the fence about them. They seemed so normal.

BUT they had chocolate chips and were easy so I thought – why not?

This time I decided to kick it up a notch. I started with browned butter and added some crystallized ginger for some kick (I’m totally lying, I have a bag of leftover crystallized ginger that I bought, like, 3 months ago that I can’t finish).

It turned out so amazing and so soft that they were demolished at the barbecue.

The next morning I woke up wanting more and made a whole new batch, sans ginger and with coffee stirred into the batter.

My body protested these bad decisions but my mouth did not. Coz DAYAMN.

1/2 cup / 113 grams butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or bittersweet is fine)

Add-ins (optional):
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped + 1/4 tsp ground ginger OR 1/2 Tbsp ground coffee

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.

Generously butter an 8 by 8 square baking tin.

Cut the butter into even pieces and melt in a small saucepan over a medium fire. I suggest you whisk it so that it melts evenly.

Do this until the butter is light brown and smells nutty. This didn’t actually happen with me, but this is what the internet told me would happen. Mine just got very dark yellow and smelled quite good and coz I was scared of burning it, I stopped.

Wait for butter to cool till warm. Beat in the sugar until smooth.

Beat in the egg and vanilla. At this point, if using coffee, this is when you stir it in.

Stir in the flour and salt.

Stir in the chocolate chips and, if using crystallized ginger, this is when you stir it in.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. I personally prefer 25 because otherwise I find the middle is a tad runny.

It’s SO good guys. I’m like swooning just writing this.

*Adapted from smitten kitchen.

Ginger version

Ginger version

llaollao

Eating Out, Flash Restaurant Review
I recommend choosing your own concoctions - priced from SGD4.90 to SGD6.90

I recommend choosing your own concoctions – priced from SGD4.90 to SGD6.90 – also sorry random lady!

What: A Spanish frozen yogurt franchise that’s hit Singapore’s dessert scene with a bang. The evidence for their success? The crazy-ass long lines. Also it’s pronounced yao-yao. Blame the Iberians.

Pros: Yummy frozen yogurt (apparently the process starts with greek yogurt) with especially yummy jam based toppings.

Cons: The wait – 20 mins minimum. And really if you think about it, how different can frozen yogurt really be?

Verdict: I like it, but I would say go with a group of friends to pass the long wait time and/or it’s a really hot day.

Details:
llaollao – many outlets but I visited
68 Orchard Road
#01-22A, Plaza Singapura
Singapore 229239

No-Inspiration Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing

Recipes
Doesn't look too bad eh?

Doesn’t look too bad eh?

Recently I have been feeling extremely uninspired by all the food I’ve been eating.

That’s really weird for me.

I’m that person who plans my meals two days ahead of time. I literally hum and do a chair dance when I’m eating something I like.

But these days I’ve just been feeling like – whatever man, I’ll eat it for energy but who cares what IT is.

I don’t know what’s happened.

I’m sleeping well and I’m not crying randomly – so it can’t be depression.

Maybe I just want my mom’s cooking?

I really don’t know.

So last week when I had to make my Monday dinner I was all BLAH, I don’t want to eat this salad I’ve already planned, BLAH, everything SUCKS! BLAH, I HATE MY LIFE, BLAH!!!!

So then I basically chopped up all the vegetables I had left and a stray baked chicken thigh. Added some leftover quinoa. And had a pretty decent salad.

What’s a girl gotta do to stay discontent around here??

Serves 1 hungry girl

Salad
Handful of mixed salad leaves
9 cherry tomatoes, half
1/2 Japanese cucumber, chopped
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 grilled chicken thigh, cubed
handful of roasted almonds
1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Honey Dijon Dressing (Recipe courtesy Alton Brown) – this is for two servings
2.5 Tbsps honey
1.5 Tbsps Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Serve as a dressing or a dip.

Toss salad ingredients with the dressing.

Enjoy. BLAH.