Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A time to eat and a time to move..

Swiss Rosti with salmon @ Marche

YES, I know it has been far too long since I wrote  here. But  I'm back!  The food scene here in Singapore is buzzing  and this is mostly because no one has the time to cook and enjoy the process. A lot of people are too "stressed out" and prefer to eat at the hawker centres with their dubious whole chickens which are left hanging the whole day. This had led to a population who knows their food and where to get the best of the Kway Teo or Ayam Penyet. The cuisine here is a a fusion of Chinese, Indian and Malay resulting in Parantha bomb or Nasi biryani. Neither of which I have come across in India!

I was so happy the other day when I chose to eat at a street coffee shop and ended up saving 15 dollars cos I did not eat at a cafe!
The food was simple and delicious. Hot lemon tea, toast with two generous slices of butter and soft boiled eggs. The eggs were so runny that I had to practically drink them from the bowl as she had given me a tea spoon to eat them with! How on earth is the yolk supposed to survive the journey from the bowl to your mouth without breaking?
Still me with my childhood aversion to all gooey soft dishes ate all my egg!
This may have been due to my workout just ten minutes ago without which I am sure to resemble a baby hippo with a bad hair day!

Kopitiam breakfast!

The picture below is one of the best Indonesian meals I have eaten since I got here. We had Gado Gado along with the grilled chicken which was a mixture of sprouts and other veggies with a delicious peanut sauce.

Ayam Bakham

I borrowed this documentary on Julia Child from the library and was so impressed by her food philosophy and the effect that her TV series had on an entire generation of cooks. She had become famous at the time when companies were trying to push their ready to eat canned products. Julia made the women realise that is was incredibly rewarding to produce a good meal and do other things. Her enthusiasm on the show is infectious and she never gor flustered when she made a mistake. In fact audiences watched to see how she would recover or cover them up!

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” 
― Julia Child


“If you're afraid of butter, use cream.” 
― Julia Child

Bon appetit!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why I want to be a Pastry chef...

As a child I have grown up in a family of agriculturists, eaters and travellers which has led me to have a broad horizon. The women in my family have always been fantastic cooks and baking was seen as a way of bringing the family together. Be it birthdays or just tea time there always was a chocolate cake or decadent dessert to mark the event. My grandmother actually made 16 cakes for her own wedding by baking them in a trench lined with burning wood!
I believe that the food people eat is a very important aspect of history and culture. Two years ago I represented India as an ‘International Farm Youth Exchange’ delegate for two weeks and presented a paper on the agricultural standing of our country. Because all the participants were from South Asian countries it was fascinating to see the many similarities and inherent differences in food and eating habits.
My two years of high school study at a J. Krishnamurthy Institute taught me to be open minded and to accept the world around me while questioning the reasons behind it. This enabled me to pursue my hobbies and to consider a life outside the regular professions. During my undergraduate studies, I did a certificate course in Baking and Confectionary which fascinated me with the sheer variety of dishes which can be produced from a few simple ingredients.
My hobbies include reading voraciously, experimenting with different cuisines and dancing. Two years ago my friends and I started a cooking club called the “Gastronauts” which translates into food explorers. We try meeting once a month to cook dishes from a specific country and to discuss the various processes that were involved in making the feast. I also go to cooking classes and watching Masterchef to learn new techniques and ideas.
I want to pursue a career in the food industry as I know this is something that I can excel at and which I thoroughly enjoy doing.
This May, a friend and I set up a baking stall at a local festival called” Kitsch Mandi”. We spent a whole month planning the menu and the logistics. Our stall was so popular that we sold out in just three hours! The sheer satisfaction of dealing with customers and having them want to eat my food was heart-warming. I have been baking since I was ten but this occasion sealed the deal that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
I want to be a chef as I enjoy baking and seeing the enjoyment on a person’s face when they eat and appreciate something that I have made. I also love the way food appeals to all the senses, be it the smell of freshly baked bread, the sight of a beautifully plated dessert, the heat of a hot oven, the crunch of a brandy snap and of course the taste of a chocolate ├ęclair! 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Food heaven

The Baking Bug has moved to Singapore!! A cosmopolitan city with food from all corners of the globe, from duck necks to Atlatic salmon to Vietnamese fish sauce...
SO my journey has just expanded leaving room for a new dish at every meal starting from Kaya toast which is a type of coconut jam to Black Pepper crab by the sea.

Singapore Chilli Crab

Will be pursuing a career in Pastry and Bakery Arts and this seems just the city to do it in!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

In the kitchen of the singing chefs..

It’s been awhile I know!! Far too long and so much has happened!

I have been training in a bakery at Hotel X just in order to a perspective of life in a commercial kitchen. Been used to baking at my own pace and in my own kitchen that I realised that if I am going to pursue this as a career I need to know what I am getting into!

And so started the 10 hour shifts, aching feet and muscle pain. Along with all of that came the experience of seeing things being done in bulk. At first I was so shocked by the vast quantities of butter going into the mixer but now I’ve become a pro at flipping half kg chunks into the mixer to be creamed into cookies.

My days have been revolving around rolling cookies, melting chocolate, arranging garnishes and pulling things out of the cold room. On occasion I do get to garnish the desserts that go out for the buffet.

One of the Negative aspects is that all the instructions I get are in tamil! Which as you can imagine leads to a constant state of bewilderment on my side. Thus everything has to be repeated and numbers have to be shown on fingers, which mean I’m not much of a help when everything is under pressure and deadlines are to be met. It’s amazing how the chefs lose their tempers so easily and just yell at everything in sight and then two minutes they are back to singing and joking around.

I know I’ve learnt a lot and I can see myself doing this in the future. As long as I’ve got a song on my lips and my languages in place I know I’ll be fine!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Time for Plan B

The last month has been full of ups and downs. The major low was not getting into any of the colleges I had applied to for Marine Biology as I did not have the "profile" they were looking for. There is no way that we here in India can do such a variety of subjects at the undergrad level!
But the truth is I was strangely not too affected by the rejections. So maybe my destiny had been leading me to other directions! The direction of Baking and Pastry arts and this blog should have been an indicator of that..

So.... on the first of May, 2011 a friend and I are having a baking stall at a local Kitsch Mela and the menu includes:

  • brownies
  • chocolate muffins with a chocolate ganache topping
  • chocolate crinkle cookies
  • pumpkin cake
  • banana cake
  • chocolate tarts
As you can see that is a lot of sweet and chocolate so we are going to balance it out with assorted canap├ęs with the following fillings:

  • corn with creamy spinach 
  • tomato and basil
  • mushroom and caramelized onions
I hope we can sell all that we make!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New ventures..

A pie crust and the Baking Bug

Many months ago in the passion of a cooking frenzy I had
promised a beloved old friend of mine a fancy home
cooked meal. So it was only recently after some minor emotional
blackmailing I finally got down to it. The menu was impressive:
A potato and spinach salad with a hung curd dressing,
An orange and carrot stir fry,
Hot Sesame noodles,
A broccoli and cauliflower tart and...
A Verry Berrry Pavlova!

I later learnt a few things about my friends- they have
extremely small appetites and that one of them thought carrots
would make her "die". She is the first person I've heard
who cant stand carrots. Okra I can understand but carrots??

Ingredients for a Pavlova
Amazing how these seemingly insignificant ingredients turn
into something so beautiful..

Pavlovas baking!

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It is referred as "pav", which is a cake similar to meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner.
The dessert is believed to have been created to honour the dancer during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.
The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and is frequently served during celebratory or holiday meals such as Christmas lunch.
The pavlova a crisp crunchy shell, while the interior remains soft and moist. The pavlova's internal consistency is thus completely different from that normally associated with meringue, having more of a soft marshmallow texture. This difference is due to the addition of cornstarch, the use of which is the defining feature of a pavlova recipe.

Very Berry Pavlova

It was so easy to make! And came out so beautifully the first time!
A crisp shell with a chewy center..
Now to start making variations of it and to find friends
who will willingly eat all this sugar!

Kalua cake

Since we were getting a fruity cake for my mum's surprise birthday party I decided to make her a chocolate sponge cake with Kalua syrup and a buttercream icing. The icing had 250 gms of butter in it which made it the richest thing I have made by far!! We also went a bit overboard with the decoration so as you can see there is piping, flowers. stars and a comb design!
March has been a rather interesting month. I seem to be learning new things each day. Silly things which I should have known automatically or by instinct. Like labeling a order so that my client would know what they were getting!

Chocolate eclairs

Another first attempt. And another east recipe. My mum got a book on how to make the perfect pastry. So guess who is using it now! The eclairs puffed up so beautifully in just 20 mins.

Stuffing them was a whole other ball game. The ganache was still a bit hard and trying to force it out of the piping gun was a test of my strength and precision skills. Pushpi was there to hold the eclairs for me while I pipes the ganache out. They looked and tasted fantastic after I was done. And they were polished off that evening itself!

Boston Banoffee Pie
A recipe which called for loads of butter. The sliced banana
helped to cut out the sweetness.

Broccoli and cheese soup

An experimental soup which was made with pure luck!

Panna cotta with a strawberry coulis

One of the most delicious desserts I have ever made. Completely
inspired by Master Chef and their fancy plating! A very fresh taste
with the creaminess of the panna cotta. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

love bytes?? I don't think so!

So much for all the candy, hearts and romance! Its been a slow boring month with only a few goodies made by me.. Surprising how I cant eat my own things. Which is a good thing as none of them are flattering for the waistline!

So here goes:

Chocolate walnut tarts

The person I really enjoy cooking for is "K" he'll eat anything and come back for seconds. SO I try to make something new each time i know he is coming home! But on the downside i do not get true feedback!!

Experimental cake

Coral reef inspired cake!

A the same cake on the inside:

Half gone!!

As you can see I'm not in the mood to write tonight so more later!!

Friday, February 4, 2011


Last night in the midst of a cookie baking frenzy my mum remembered some brandy snaps that she had made when she in college..
They seemed ridiculously easy to make with hardly any ingredients so I convinced her to let me have a go.. Armed with a youtube video and a easy recipe we feverishly measured out the butter and sugar and grated the ginger.

FYI: Brandy snaps are a common dessert food in the UK , Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. They are edible, tubular, brittle, sweet, baked casings that are typically 10 cm long and 2 cm in diameter. They are usually served filled with whipped cream.
They are made from a mixture of golden syrup, flour, ginger, cream, sugar and butter and are baked briefly as a flat disc that is then rolled while still hot and soft.
Sounds so simple right?? But NOO they were not!!
Our first attempt was a disaster, in our state of excitement we tried rolling them when they were still hot which resulted in a gooey, buttery mess which was stuck to the baking parchment!
Then after watching a Gujrathi chef make the snaps we tried again and cooked them for longer till the bubbled up beautifully and formed the lattice.Upon cooling we tried to roll them, but the most we could manage was a taco shell look alike!
And the next morning they had softened into mulchy piles of butter..
Sniff!! If only my mother had the original recipe!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Baking madness to combat the weekend blues..

I'm back!!
Been caught up with work and classes and Grey's. So on saturday since i was finally at home for a long span i wanted to bake.. and bake a lot!! to make up for all the days i'v been caught up with sitting in front of the computer! So maybe it was just pure laziness that kept me away..

Had five things that i wanted to bake but after making the spiced wine i decided to stop and keep q few recipes for an actual occasion. Right now there is no one at home to eat these decadent goodies.. so S, my lucky friend gets to sample them all!

The cookies turned out surprisingly good and did not dry out too much. Hardly ten mins in the oven and they were all ready! Nice chewy centers and a crunchy sugar crust!
Peppermint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
 The brownies looked a bit cracked and sad but just a sprinkling of icing sugar with some forks placed on them really made them pretty.

Cocoa Brownies
Kasutera:Japanese Honey Cake
The Honey cake did not have any vanilla in it so it came out smelling very eggy. But after it cooled you could get a rich honey aroma and the cake itself was light and fluffy..

All in all a very successful and satisfying day.My cousins polished off the brownies and my aunt even ordered a batch! Life is good again!! 

chocolate brownie is a flat, baked square or bar introduced in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century and popularized in both the U.S. and Canada during the first half of the twentieth century. The brownie is sliced from a type of dense, rich chocolate cake, which is, in texture, like a cross between a cake and a cookie.[1] Brownies come in a variety of forms. They are either fudgy or cakey, depending on their density, and they may include nuts, frosting,whipped creamchocolate chips, or other ingredients. A variation that is made with brown sugar and no chocolate is called a blondie.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy Holidays!!

A week back i got my first ever order to make 40 muffins which seemed quite daunting at first but i just had to do two batches and voila!!!

Ganache icing!

40 beautiful muffins all packed away into boxes!

 The left over icing was used to dip fresh strawberries and peanut butter!!