Twenty-nine Days Later

Hello, lovelies!

I’m not sure if it’s just me; but boy, did 29 days pass us by just like that?!

Having had my heart filled with so much family love & stomach filled with so much glorious food (oh HI caloriesssss, we meet again!), I could never imagine a better 1st Syawal! I hope yours was just as great, no matter where you may be.

With that, I’d like to wish all Muslim brothers & sisters:

Also, I’d like to announce that I’ll be on a hiatus for a month and will not be updating this space. I’d like to soak myself in all of the Eid’s joyousness and to focus on my Pursuit of Academic Happyness lol.

Meantime…….. after a few days of Eid, I know some might not be able to look at another ketupat or stomach another piece of Beef Rendang. Take charge of the kitchen, pick a recipe from CP at Home and get busy!

PS: You can still reach me on my Instagram, email or Twitter.

With generous dollops of Eid-lovin’, Su


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Strong Bones 1

Everyone knows how important Calcium is for strong bones. A glass of milk or a slice of cheese a day, yada yada. You know the drill. But me being me, and holding true to this:

Kindly note that diets & low-fat whatevers are not in the menu.

do you actually think I’m gonna share about a boring ole glass of plain milk and a plastic-tasting slice of cheddar?

There are 1001 recipes that feature these calcium-laden ingredients, except that they’re presented in a slightly more appetising manner. I’ll be posting a couple in these series: Strong Bones.

Now, for the 1st instalment and going a little easy:

Flourless Cheese Fritters for a start?

1 cup grated Mild Cheddar

1/2 cup Breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Dried Chilli Flakes

1/2 tsp White Pepper

1/2 tsp Dried Oregano

1/2 beaten Egg (or less)

Olive oil

The preparation is pretty simple – Combine all the ingredients (cheese, breadcrumbs, paprika, chilli flakes, pepper & oregano) in a bowl. You could vary the herbs according to preference though.

Add just enough egg to glue these together. The mixture should be semi-dry, making it easier to fry.

Yes, you read right. FRY.

Whip out your non-stick weapons now, lovelies cos We be fryin cheeeeeeeeze!

Frying cheddar can be a little tricky, and it takes some care. Drizzle a little olive oil and heat the pan a little before dropping a tablespoon of cheese mixture each. The cheese will melt (ermz duh.), then it’ll turn slightly brown, and then it’ll almost immediately form a crust. Once you reach this stage, then flip it. Flipping it while all that yellow goo is melting spells disaster – speaking from experience of course!

I don’t know if this is of any consolation; but I made mine in one of those tiny frying pans that’s barely the size of an egg, you could easily hunt at Daiso that I’m sure you’d go “Awww so cute!! But who will buy and use that?” Lol, me? They’re certainly neat to have – holds all that misbehavin’ cheese in a perfect round form. Enjoy!

Till, the next instalment of Strong Bones!

P.S.: Fazdli, YES there’s more. Time to throw that healthy diet out the window!

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Worth Every Cent

If you’ve followed me on Instagram, you’d realise that I tried to subconsciously influence you to go for the Ramadhan buffet at a quaint place in the vicinity of Arab St lol. This time, I’m gonna be more blatant about it.

So, about 4 days ago, was the usual weekday Iftar date with my favourite fireboy. I have been aching to get my hands on some decent Nasi Sambal Goreng from Kandahar St; only to be greeted by a zombietown of a bazaar. Yup, serves me right for choosing to go on a Wednesday evening.

Dragged my feet browsing through a few open ones like this busy mini-vadai stall

and

my yearly must-have lemang fix stall (yesssssahh!).

My Nasi Sambal Goreng disappointment was short-lived when we aimlessly walked through Bussorah Street and discovered a much better deal at Bushra Cafe.

One that costed $9.50.

For less than ten bucks each, we got to choose a main dish from a choice of 10 types of Fried Rice or Noodles and a filled-to-the-brim table buffet of fresh greens, hot finger snacks, traditional Malay kuehs, tantalising dessert, ice-cream and a free-flow of hot and cold drinks. I’ll be quick to defend that the choices weren’t plenty, but the food tasted exactly as they looked.

Authentic and spot-on quality.

Costed a little more than the intended simple fix, but the food was a whole lot more than what my stomach had expected.

Some days later, my fellow Instagrammer friend @_raz decided to give this place a try. I swear I almost died from the responsibility I felt for recommending the place but this is what she had to say (taken off her IG):

“…I was so full till I got no room for ice-cream. Food was nice.. I love the kuih-kuihs the best! Worth every cent!..”

With slightly more than a week left of Ramadhan, this entry may come a little late but it’s definitely worth your every cent. Besides, this majestic beauty welcomes you for some heart & soul indulgence right after, only 20 steps away.

Bushra Cafe

Ramadhan Buffet: $9.5o/adult and $6.00/child

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Sweet Little Thing

I can’t really say I’ve been an advocate of healthy eating; having stuffed my face with starch, fats and sugar endlessly. Well, healthy eating aside, let’s move on to a delish dessert that you can prepare at home for Iftar…

… Hold it! Stop counting the calories off this sweet little thing, will ya?

The ingredients in the Banana & Granola Parfait needs no introduction about the great things they will do to your body. The best part is, they are common and inexpensive items that most would already have in the fridge or pantry.

A good foundation is to buildings what a good granola mix is to parfaits. I’m guilty of spending an insane amount on organic granola (for days when I feel like eating healthy hehe) off the supermarket shelves, until I stumbled upon a recipe book by the famed Rachel Allen, host of Bake! As I looked through the lengthy list of ingredients, I realise that I’ve been cheating my own moolah for buying something that I could make because all of those were readily available at home.

This simple recipe can be switched around any way you like, following your preference of grains, nuts and dried fruit. I’ll run you through the list for my homemade Granola Mix. It makes a small jar that would last me a whole week and it keeps pretty well.

2 tbsp Cashew nuts

2 tbsp Almonds

2 tbsp Walnuts

1 cup Rolled oats

4 tbsp Honey

2 1/2 tbsp Soft Butter

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

1 tsp Cinnamon powder

1 tsp Salt

2 tbsp Dried Cranberries

2 tbsp Pitted Medjoul Dates

1) Toast the nuts – cashew nuts, almonds and walnuts – in the oven at 150°C for 8 minutes.

Once theyre slightly cooled, you can either cut them into smaller bits or toss them in a Ziploc bag, seal it and crush them with a pestle or a rolling pin.

2) In a cup, mix honey and butter with vanilla, cinnamon and salt. It should be of a viscous consistency and pretty easy to work with.

3) In a baking tray that’s lined with a baking sheet, pour in the rolled oats and nuts mixture and then the butter-honey mixture joins the party!

4) Mix the ingredients well and pop it into the oven at 160°C for 30 minutes. Every 5 minutes, pull out the tray and toss them about. This process is important because the grains and nuts at the rims of your tray will burn fairly quickly. Once that’s done, pour them out on a cooling rack and pepper your granola mix with cranberries and dates.

There you go, your very own granola mix. I toldja it’s simple!

You could have it with breakfast cereal and milk, as an ice cream topping or in your crumble pies and cobblers or you could use it in a Banana & Granola Parfait:

2 tbsp Granola mix

4 tbsp Greek Yoghurt

1 tbsp Strawberry Jam

1/2 Banana

1 tbsp Butterscotch Sauce* (recipe here)

* You can replace this with Honey, Maple Syrup or Golden Syrup

1) In a small cup or a transparent wine glass if you must, start to layer all the ingredients: Yoghurt goes right at the bottom,

followed by jam,

sprinkle the granola mix,

arrange the banana slices and add a good dollop of butterscotch sauce.

2) The parfait is done,

but if you (like me) are a little greedy hehe, repeat the layers till you reach the brim of the glass.

I have been eating parfait everyday for the last 15 days of Iftar, at the start of my meal. And it has been bowel-friendly, no matter what I gorge on right after. Sure, you might be thinking:

“Aiya… Where got time to prepare this every day one?

Very busy you know?”

I’m aware of the vast majority who might not have time on their hands to neatly layer yoghurt, granola and fruits everyday, but it suffices to pack about 2 tbsp of the homemade Granola mix in your handbag, grab a small tub of yoghurt at any convenience store, and have em together.

Now, who said healthy desserts had to taste like hay? Taking a teeny step towards healthy eating this Ramadhan is a great way to start. This recipe’s a definite keeper well after the month ends; granola parfaits make a great lazy weekend afternoon dessert and doubles up on hectic weekdays as a great morning booster!

This post was written for Muzlimbuzz (Travel&Food):

Ramadan Recipe: Banana & Granola Parfait

Muzlimbuzz is an e-magazine that caters to the modern, active, socially-engaged and spiritual Muslim. We aim to document and articulate the Muslim experience, particularly of those in Singapore and in the region.Apart from News and opinion pieces, we have daily columns that cover a wide array of topics from Health to Marriage, Spirituality to Technology, Travel & Photo Essays. In a nutshell, there’s bound to be something that would interest you here at Muzlimbuzz.

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Golf Ball-Sized Cakes?

Unbeknownst to me, my Dad has been following my blog. Lol, as if it is not already enough of a shocker that I have guy friends reading about recipes (whot?!), I discovered my Dad does too. This is how I found out today:

4.30pm in the living room while watching Food Network Asia

Dad: Dah lama tak buat kueh yang coklat Hershey’s tu eh.

[It’s been a while since you made a kueh with Hershey’s chocolate.]

Me: Kueh apa sey pakai Hershey’s? Kek eh?

[Which kueh uses Hershey’s? Cake, you mean?]

Dad: Macam kek tapi yang bulat kecik, size golf ball. Yg hari tu buat, tapi dalam ade apple dengan kacang.

[It’s similar to a cake but golf ball sized. You made some the other day, but with apples and nuts.]

Me: *ponders and recalls the Apple Almond Muffins I made earlier this week* Oooohhh Muffin eh?!

[Oooohhh Muffins, you mean?]

Dad: A’ah buatkan Abah untuk buka boleh? Dah buat boleh share recipe kat your website masak-masak tu.

[Yeah, could you bake some for me? Then, you can share it on your cooking website.]

WHOT!?

Can I just say that I have the most awesome Dad in the world? LOL! I found myself giggling in the kitchen while preparing these Oatmeal & Chocolate Muffins for Iftar today.

Well, anyway, this muffin recipe is one that I stumbled upon a few years ago in a book for which I have no recollection of the title nor the author. But I’m indeed grateful for it, because I’ve stopped my seemingly endless hunt for the perfect muffin recipe.

Believe me when I say, when done right, it makes;

The most moist and softest muffins evuh.

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup Quick-cooking Oats

1 cup Buttermilk

1/3 cup Vegetable Oil

2/3 cup Brown Sugar

1 Egg

3/4 cup Flour

2 tsp Hot Chocolate Powder

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Powder

½ tsp Baking Soda

1 cup Hershey’s Semi-sweet Chocolate chips*

* You can add a few broken pieces of Hershey’s Dark Chocolate if you’re a chocoholic. A few more tiny bits of choc wouldn’t hurt right?

Mix oats and buttermilk in a bowl. Let it sit for about 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine oil, brown sugar and egg. Stir with a fork till the sugar dissolves. Add em to the oat & buttermilk mixture.

Lastly, sift all the dry ingredients in (flour, hot chocolate powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda). Fold the dry into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the chocolate chips just before carefully spooning dollops of batter into muffin cups.

The mixture makes about 12 standard-sized muffins, but today I made only half a portion. Bake them at 180°C for 20 minutes and then sit patiently in front of the oven. Trust me, you’d want to.

Frankly, baking anything Hershey’s transports you into a Willy Wonka-like chocolate-infused fantasy. Needless for an elaboration but… oh, the heavenly aroma and that first bite: oh-oh omg the chocolate is still warm mmMmmm.

In other news, there’s only 1 and a half muffin left in my tray, where there once was 6. Oh, the plight of competing with other Hershey’s-crazed chocoholics in the house.

PS: Dad, if you’re reading this, HI ABAH!! I LOVE YOU!! xx

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The Problem

I have a problem.

One that’s going to haunt me well into my fifties and sixties, I reckon. One that’s probably going to lead into unwanted health boo-boos later on in my life. One that’s gotten my Mum nagging at 2am, about how I should be in bed already.

The problem: Late night sweet-toothed indulgence.

As much as I know the dire consequences, late-night baking to me is extremely therapeutical. Apart from baking already being my sole source of stress relief, the thought of getting caught in the act narrating my own cooking show in the kitchen to an imaginary audience and trying to keep whisking at its quietest in a deafeningly soulless house is just too exciting!

Here is a recipe that I’ve made over and over again, for its simplicity of accessing ingredients and for the simple fact that all you need is a bowl, a hand whisk (no bulky, noisy electric mixer yeay!), a grater, a few cups for measurement and a rectangular ramekin. This one; I call the omg-my-Mum-is-up-and-I-thought-she-was-gonna-nag-but-she-too-is-having-a-slice-with-me-at-2am Orange Walnut Teacake. Haha yes she LOVES this!

90 g Butter

2 tbsp Butterscotch Sauce*

1 cup loosely-packed Brown sugar

2 Whole Eggs

2 Egg Yolks

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Pinch of Salt

3/4 cup Plain Flour + 1 tsp Baking Powder

1 Orange (Zest, Juice and Pulp)

10 pcs Walnuts

* I have not tried substituting it with anything else. But I guess you could swap Caramel / Toffee Sauce for this.

In a microwaveable bowl, add butter and butterscotch sauce. Pop it in the microwave on High for 30 secs. From this point on, your whisking starts. Quick but quiet strokes if you’re baking this at ungodly hours like me!

Whisk one at a time, in this exact order: brown sugar, eggs, egg yolks, orange zest, vanilla and salt. Fold in the flour and baking powder gently with your whisk. Lastly, squeeze the orange with your hands, scraping out all the pulp into your cake batter. Give it a final brief stir.

Pour in half of the citrus-scented batter in a greased ramekin. Arrange 8 pcs of whole walnuts in 2 neat rows, before pouring in the rest. Top it with the last 2 pcs of walnuts, broken into generous bits on the teacake. Add a dash of orange zest and in the oven, this baby goes!

Bake at 180°C for 12 minutes. The centre will be slightly gooey – I like it that way, but if your baking insecurities kick in, extend the baking time for another 5 minutes at a slightly lower temperature and leave it in the oven.

Let it cool for a bit, before inverting it onto a plate and thick slices please, people!

It ought to be a crime not to have this immediately, with a cuppa hot tea to boot.

To my new Instagram friends, @rumaisa and @nbucket, this is for you babes! You could bake this simple teacake for Iftar or the coming Aidilfitri, or you could enrol in the Late Night support group with me?

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Soaked

One of the reasons how Countless Plates came to being was because there aren’t many sources for traditional Malay recipes online. I’m an avid foodblog reader and though it’s easy to google French and Italian fare, it just doesn’t make any sense to perpetually feed my family (with sambal belacan & petai palate) lasagnes, aglio olios, pizzas, stews and raviolis right?

Well, here’s a dish that I guess everyone with the same traditional taste can relate to: Nasi Rawon.

Each time I prepare this dish at home, I always see beaming faces eager to dig in. Yes, albeit at 5am. Why?

Steaming hot white rice – check!

Warm Rawon gravy – check!

Empeng Bilis – check!

Serunding – check!

Sambal Belacan – check!

Nasi Rawon has every element to appease almost every Melayu palate lol. It looks pretty straightforward but oh boy, the preparation is lengthy. But if it makes my family happy, it’s gotta be worth it!

Let’s begin with the basic Rawon gravy. This recipe makes a huge pot, and might I add, the flavours get more intense after about 2-3 days of reheating. So it’d be a great idea to save half the pot in the freezer for later.

For Broth:

1/2kg Beef Tripe

1/2kg Beef Brisket

2 litres Water

2 inch Ginger

1 large Onion

2 tsp Salt

For sautéeing:

3 tbsp Coriander Seeds

1 1/2 tbsp Fennel Seeds

1 tbsp Black Peppercorns

10 Shallots

2 Red onions

1 handful Buah Keluak meat

6 tbsp dried Chilli Paste

2 stalks Lemongrass

3 inch Galangal

4 Salam Leaves

4 Kaffir Lime Leaves

1 or 2 Dried Tamarind Sheets

In a huge pot, boil all the ingredients for the broth, till the meats are tender.

As for the sautéed spices, the procedure is similar to Ayam Korma’ – Toast and grind the coriander, fennel and black pepper seeds. Shallots, onions, buah keluak and dried chilli paste goes into the blender to form a smooth paste. You can toss your ground spices in as well.

Heat oil in a flat pan and pour the paste in. Be extra careful – it might splatter (most of the time it does). This process will take between 30-45 minutes. I’m risking sounding like a broken record but repeat after me, ensure that you see the oil seeping through the spices (naik bau/terbit minyak). Pound the lemongrass and galangal, loosely tear salam, kaffir lime leaves and tamarind sheets; they too, join the spicefest in the pan.

Keep the heat on. The aroma will intensify and most of the time, it makes me go a little weak in the knees! Pour all of your pan’s contents into the pot of broth. Stir and let it simmer for under an hour, and then you’re good to go!

Serve this Indonesian beef stew with some hot white rice.

Personally, I like my rice soaked in all that glorious goodness for a couple of minutes before lapping it up with all the sides that were mentioned in the checklist above. It goes well too, with a range of other sinful sides; from Fried Tempeh (fermented soy beans), Bagedil (mashed potatoes with spring onions and beef), Paru (beef lung) to Sambal Sotong (cured squid in chilli paste).

And just cos Ramadhan is partly about sharing, I’ll be a little generous with the recipe-sharing. I’m sure you’ve noticed the Empeng Bilis at the side?

Here are the few ingredients that go into it:

200g Silverfish*

4 chopped Garlic Cloves

2 thinly-sliced Large Onions

2 tbsp chopped Spring Onions

1 tbsp Dried Chilli Flakes

2 sliced Green Chillies

1 beaten Egg

3/4 cup Fritter Flour**

Water

*Silverfish are available in the supermarket’s fresh clingwrapped section. You know the refrigerated sections where the salmon are? Silverfish are slightly meatier than the usual anchovy and less salty too.

** I use Adabi’s Tepung Goreng Pisang for this but any kind of fritter flour is fine. Shortcut alert: If you don’t have it, use the same amount of plain flour and rice flour with 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Add just enough water so the mixture combines. Too much moisture will cause the fritters to be a little flat and it’ll splatter in the oil. Heat your pan with oil, and fry a tablespoon of batter each. Ensure your oil’s hot enough or the Empeng Bilis will end up soggy. Not pretty!

I made Nasi Rawon for Sahur as my family’s the kind that can’t get our engines revved up the next day without rice in our tummies. But I do have friends who do the opposite (have their rice meals during Iftar), so whatever rocks your boat really. Enjoy, lovelies! =)

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