Sunday, September 24, 2017

Recipe of the month: Longan, Ginger and Tender Coconut Juice with Nata de Coco


I have a unique and refreshing drink for you today 😊  I never planned on blogging this recipe but it ended up being a happy accident that I just had to preserve for the future! I haven't followed any recipe for this drink - it entirely came out of my head so if there is a similar recipe out there somewhere in the Universe, let me honestly say that (at this point at least) I am unaware of it!

So, let us talk Longan today. These exotic and translucent little fruits are also called euphoria fruit. It is one of the better-known tropical members of the soapberry family which include lychee and rambutan. Longan fruit can be found growing throughout Southeast Asia and are quite well known in this part of the world. A few years ago when I was in Bangalore (India), I was surprised to see them at the supermarket near my in-laws residence because growing up, I had never seen them and my first tasting was the fruit was only after coming to Singapore way back in 2006. Since then, I have been religiously buying it (mainly) to take back to India because my mother-in-law really likes the fruit 😊

In traditional Chinese medicine, this sweet, juicy and succulent fruit is used as a tonic for the heart, to improve eye function, relieve stress and give the skin a glow. As for standard nutritional qualifications, longan fruit has got that too: iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium can be found in the fruit, as well as vitamins A and C. Recent studies have also identified gallic acid, corilagin and ellagic acid in the fruit, which may bolster the fruit’s reputation as a health-boosting superfruit. It isn't a very good source of antioxidants and isn't considered diabetic-friendly but it still sounds pretty good to me!

The scent of this fruit is extremely subtle yet unique. As a food, it may be an acquired taste for you because of the distinct musky aftertaste. But hey, my picky toddlers absolutely love it so I’m guessing if you have never tried it before, it shouldn't be so hard for you to get accustomed to. 

I paired the flavour of longan with fresh ginger and tender coconut water which I felt would go together. Unfortunately, I don't have easy access to tender coconuts here so I had to make use with store-bought tender coconut water. 


I love chewy bits in my drinks so I added Nata de Coco. I however realized that some people may not fancy Nata de Coco because of its texture. You can always use Aloe Vera instead (everyone likes that stuff right?). However, if you are lucky enough to actually get your hands on a tender coconut then use the water for the juice and chop up the soft edible white flesh and use it instead of the Nata de Coco. Nothing could be better I swear!


If you like longan and if it is easily available where you live then you HAVE to try making this juice. It is a tropical delight - sweet, refreshing and something different for a change. It can be made in under 10 minutes too. My husband gave it the thumbs up and I'm sure whoever you make it for will too  πŸ™Œ

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Family Beach Vacation @ Club Med Bintan Island





This post has taken so much longer to complete than I anticipated. I'm going to blame it on blogger and the recurring problems with saving the post and preview failing to load which are absolute rubbish. And don't even get me started on the formatting inconsistencies I had to encounter. Anyone from the blogger camp listening? I'm not even sure if I have successfully rectified all the issues that propped up so forgive me if anything appears wonky. Seriously, the whole ordeal with this post made me feel like tearing my hair out (which I've lost so much of anyway πŸ˜’ ). 

Now that I am done with my petty little rant, let's move on to something more pleasant.

So, we were recently on a family holiday to Club Med at Bintan, Indonesia. My in-laws were in Singapore on a visit and we wanted to spend some quality time together away from the mundaneness of the daily grind. 

Club Med has been diffusing stress since 1950 by adopting an all-inclusive package that includes all the necessary ingredients for a dream vacation. Transportation, transfers, accommodation, delicious meals, beverages and drinks, activities, entertainment and a complete range of personalised services for adults and children. 

Being no stranger to Club Med and having experienced the perks of the all-inclusive package that the French company offers on a previous holiday, we didn't think twice before confirming our booking. The icing on the cake being the Club Med philosophy of being a family and child-friendly resort. 

A 45 minute drive to the Tanah Merah ferry terminal, a 50 minute ferry to Bintan and a 20 minute shuttle bus ride later, we reached our destination. With two toddlers who are notorious for motion sickness, I was almost holding my breath the entire journey! But the gods were kind and the travel turned out to be uneventful....double phew!






As is the Club Med tradition, we were welcomed exuberantly by a group of Gentil Organisateurs (GOs) as we alighted the bus and stepped into the inviting lobby. 

This was a shot I took from the lobby soon after getting off the bus. Looks so alluring doesn't it? A welcome drink and a short briefing later, we were whisked away for a late breakfast. 


This was my first glimpse of the beach. Although it is open to public, it can only be accessed from the resort so it almost does feel like a private beach. Calm, serene and quiet were the three words that came to mind. We were fortunate that it was a gloriously sunny day and water looked clear and a demure shade of blue. 



We settled our growling stomachs at the intimate Terrasse restaurant located at the water's edge. It took considerable effort shooing away the cheeky monkeys who were desperately after our food! After that, we spent some time admiring the lovely views of the South China sea from the restaurant. 

Check-in wasn't till 2pm so exploring the manicured grounds helped kill time.





i

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Baker's Corner: Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I can't believe it is September already! Time is just whizzing by innit? 

Last month was a mixed bag for me. Good because I had a chance to meet up with two really good friends from college on two separate occasions and bad because both kids took turns catching a nasty bug and it was a harrowing time getting them to bounce back to health. Aside from that, I've been busier than usual lately with my in-laws who are here for a few weeks. We just got back from a fun-filled family holiday and I am in the midst of battling a mild case of post-holiday blues πŸ˜› I am expecting two more visits from extended family members within the next couple of weeks which means that I will have plenty to look forward to 😊

If you have gotten to know me through my blog, you would know that I am more of a savoury rather than a sweet tooth gal. But having said that, I obviously won't say no if someone plonks a dessert in front of me. I do have a 'dessert stomach' and something (mildly) sweet is something I don't mind at the end of a meal. I do enjoy baking but it is mostly for others with only a few nibbles reserved for myself. I hadn't baked anything sweet in a while and considering my kids really love when I bake them a rare special treat, I picked this dessert for my next recipe post. 

I like cookies and when it comes to cookies, I am an all-out fan of the soft and chewy kind. Sure I don't mind a crispy edge but the rest of the cookie HAS to be thick and chewy. If you feel the same way, you have to try The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on my blog because all modesty aside, it is pretty darn fantastic! A little shameless self-promotion every now and then is okay right? 😝

The recipe I have for you today is for these yummy Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Let me be upfront and say that the only time I eat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies is when I am at Subway πŸ˜€  Not because I love these cookies any less. It is just that I haven't had much opportunity to try them elsewhere. Nevertheless, I do love the giant Oatmeal Raisin cookies at Subway and I have always wanted to try to make them at home. So stoked that I finally got down to it! 

These cookies use simple, easy to find ingredients and are so easy to make. I didn't have to leave my home to buy anything and 40 minutes later, the smell of freshly baked cookies was wafting through my kitchen. Serve it warm with a chilled glass of milk on the side and you will win any popularity contest πŸ˜„  This recipe has butter, sugar and flour so don't kid yourself into thinking it is health food just because of the addition of rolled oats. But as with everything else, homemade baked goods made with good quality ingredients will any day be far better than anything you buy outside. The chewy texture of the oats, the plump raisins, the buttery aroma of the cookies and the added perfume from the spices will make anyone's heart sing (just please don't tell me you don't like raisins or cinnamon or both! πŸ˜‘ ). 

These cookies were family-approved and even my picky toddlers have been demanding one cookie every day so trust me, you don't need any more convincing. Go make! Like, right now!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Recipe of the month: Ricotta, Mushroom and Spinach Ravioli in a Tomato Cream Sauce

This has got to be the most elaborate and photo-heavy savoury recipe post on the blog so far! Phew! πŸ˜…

This has been a long time coming. Finally I can cross it off my culinary bucket list! Italian cuisine is a compendium of crowd-pleasing comfort food and like most of the world, it has enslaved my tastebuds for as long as I can remember. Pasta makes an appearance on our dinner table at least once or sometimes twice a week. If I am dining out, 70% chances are it will be an Italian restaurant. I experiment with different Italian dishes frequently and I don't see that changing any time soon! Recognizing my love affair with pasta, my husband bought me the pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid stand mixer ages ago and it had been sitting in the pantry unopened and gathering dust. Every time would I tell myself to open it and at least glance at the instruction manual but I would end up procrastinating. Not to mention, making fresh pasta at home had always seemed like such a daunting task that my hesitation was compounded by a sense of intimidation.

It so happened that one weekend, me and the husband were watching Master of None on Netflix. Anyone familiar with the series knows that Dev, the main protagonist, is a big foodie and completely obsessed with pasta. The inspiration to finally bring out the pasta attachment came after I watched the episode shot in Modena where he enrolls in a pasta-making course in a quaint little shop under the watchful eye of an Italian nonna. After that, there was no way I could put it off any longer!

Who says watching tv is bad when it motivates you to do something unprecedented and totally cool, right? 😁

Turns out, making pasta from scratch isn't really difficult. It is time consuming, sure, but it really isn't that big a deal. The experience brought me to the realization of how different fresh pasta is compared to those mass-produced packets of dried pasta you buy at the grocery store. The silky-smooth texture, the tenderness and the ability for it to be the star of the dish is unparalleled. Not to forget, the cooking time which is drastically reduced. For delicate, creamy, dairy-based sauces, it is THE pasta you should use. So, now, if anyone asks me why I take the "trouble" of going through all that work, I think I need to make them this ravioli dish or else a fettuccine with an alfredo or carbonara to make them understand the difference! 😜

I must also add that making pasta at home is quite addictive. The very first time I tried it, I was hooked! My intention was always to make ravioli which to my sheer luck turned out great on my pasta-making debut. With the scraps of the pasta dough, I decided to make fettuccine and was delighted when the kids relished it like none other! The first time I made them fettuccine in a pumpkin cream-based sauce which they polished off within minutes. After that I whipped up a basil-walnut pesto and that was devoured with equal gusto. Next on my agenda is spaghetti which I am sure the troops will enjoy!


I found a recipe for a ricotta spinach ravioli in a tomato cream sauce on the internet. I followed it and it was appreciated by everyone who tasted it. What I liked most about it was how well balanced the sauce turned out. I am not a fan of intensely tangy tomato sauces because it registers too sharp for my taste buds. On the other hand, overindulgent and creamy sauces tend to be heavy and gluggy at times. This one strikes a perfect balance between the two. I tweaked the original recipe a tiny bit and the result is what you see here. I like my ravioli to be smothered in a fair bit of sauce and so that is how I prepared and plated it. Delicate ravioli stuffed with homemade creamy ricotta, mushrooms and spinach and dunked in this mildly tangy and creamy sauce perfumed with basil is a posh, moreish and hearty dish that is bound to please your family and friends.

I have tried to make this recipe post as simple and easy to understand as possible. I took my time to make this dish, precisely jotting down measurements and taking a gazillion photos in the process. At the end of it, the kitchen was a colossal mess, my hair was in disarray, beads of sweat had started to form on my forehead, I was dusted and streaked in flour and there were bits of dough clinging to my clothes. Yet I was as happy as I could possibly be! Ravioli is a labour of love and so worth it 😊

This happened to be the third time I made fresh pasta within a span of 3 months so I can say that I am reaping the culinary rewards on a pretty regular basis! I hope I have inspired you to do the same if you haven't yet. Be sure to let me know how it goes you guys πŸ™Œ