Sixteenth

Hello lovelies!

How has your Ramadhan been so far? I’m hoping it’s been good for you and your loved ones. Personally, I’ve been noticing myself to be a little less sickly and much less sloth-like. I will now reluctantly try to believe the saying “You are what you eat.” I’m clearly in denial gorging shamelessly on em calories!

My Ramadhan has been great! My bunch of friends are mostly Chinese, and they’d wait till 7.20pm to munch on dinner together. On rides home, they’d inquisitively ask about Sahur, Iftar and other phenomenons related to the fasting month. And they in turn, would share their bits on the Hungry Ghost festival. Blessed. Back at home, there hasn’t been any dip in food supply. I have a couple of Muslim neighbours, and it’s been barter trade these few days! Mad love! Totally basking in the spirit of the holy month. =)

I’ll be posting a traditional recipe up soon! Like really soon. And I’ll prolly start my little cookie factory this week because I’m expecting a wave of hectic days in the coming weeks. So, cookie recipes too, yes?

Anyhoo, you have a good week ahead! Be good ok?

PS: I’ve been an Instagram addict the past weeks. If you got here from my IG, HELLO YOU! If you do have IG on your Iphone, add me up: suhaila_08. I’ve been browsing through a daily stream of food porn in there!

With love, Su

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Parchment-baked Pasta

If there’s any staple food that deserves the title of Most Versatile, it would be pasta. C’mon, pasta types count to the hundreds and pasta dishes in the thousands. In fact, did you know that in the 1800, there are already 260 types of pasta? 211 years later, imagine the pasta population!

Whether it be sautéed, or in a soup, or served with stew, or baked in a tray, or fried in a frittata; one thing remains – it’s an all-time favourite that’s here to stay for another century. I’m an ardent fan of quick-fix pasta recipes, because when I crave for it, I just wanna whip it up in a jiffy to hush the aching crave.

That said, here’s a fuss-free, cook-while-you’re-busy-with-chores recipe that I’d like to share: Parchment-baked Linguine with Prawns.

This one serves 2 (or 1 of me), so do increase the proportions of you’re cooking for more:

Linguine

Salt & Black Pepper

1 tbsp Butter

1/2 diced Yellow Onion

4 crushed Garlic Cloves

10 shelled Prawns

1/4 cup Pasta Water*

1 tbsp dried Italian Herbs

1/2 cup canned Mushroom Soup mix

1 tsp grated Parmesan Cheese

1 tsp dried Oregano leaves

1) Bring a pot of liberally salt-&-peppered water to a boil and cook the linguine to al dente. Drain it and add a dollop of butter and toss it about to coat each strand.

Here are a few simple good-to-know tips about boiling pasta:

Bring the water to a rolling boil before sliding in the linguine. Putting it in while the water is still cold results in al dente cooked pasta on the outer layer, whereas the centre of the pasta is solid white. By the time you wait for the whole string to cook, the outer layer would have already been mush.

For string pastas, hold the bunch in the middle of your pot before letting them all disperse into the water. This ensures that it does not clump. If it does clump, just use a fork and swirl about in the water. Easy peasy!

Salting the water liberally adds taste to the otherwise bland linguine. Also, after draining your al dente pasta, keep aside about a cup or less of the pasta water* to thin your sauce. There’s really no magic in it; it had been claimed to thicken or add flavour to your sauce of choice but plainly put, it’s just handy to have rather than fetching a cup from your kettle.

2) In a cup, mix the italian herbs, mushroom soup mix and parmesan cheese with pasta water. Once it thickens, tumble the prawns, garlic and onion in the concoction. You might want to substitute prawns with calamari rings or cubed chicken, or all of it if you’d like. It’s really a one-size-fits-all type of recipe!

3) Lay a tray with parchment paper (also known as baking sheet). Plonk your pile of linguine and top it off with the marinated prawns and dust some dried oregano over it. Now, wrap the dish in the parchment paper like a tootsie roll. The aim is to ensure that they get maximum coverage, without having the insides unglamorously spilling out in the oven.

4) Bake it in the oven at 220°C for 15-20 minutes. Take extra care while eagerly opening up the sheet and take a whiff of all that goodness! Like a steam facial, only better. What cooking in the oven under wraps actually does is, it creates a sauna-like environment; you could say you have steamed’ your pasta dish, melted the onions and garlic down, whilst having all the wonderful flavours absorbed fully into the linguine. It works the same if you’d like to experiment with marinara sauce and with other pasta types.

5) Give it a little toss, and serve it hot. Quick, easy, and yet oddly satisfying!


This one’s perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons, or you could bookmark it as an iftar menu in the month of Ramadhan. Just pop it in the oven say, about 30 minutes before azan and voila, ready for chow down!

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

Ramadan Recipe: Parchment-baked Linguine 

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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Carnivore’s Dream

It all started with a Whatsapp message from my mister some weeks ago, it read:

“BBBBBB, CHECK OUT MEATWORKS! OMG WE HAVE TO GO TRY IT PLS. LOOK AT THE MENU ON THEIR SITE!”

Yes, in caps, no less.

My almost immediate reaction after checking out their menu? The carnivore in me exclaimed “What time do they close tonight?

Wanna know why?

Let me just begin with delectable starters served at MeatWorks.

Beef Carpaccio

This starter is cleverly-crafted to combine the fresh flavours of greens and mushrooms, sitting pretty on finely-sliced tenderloin, drizzled with wasabi emulsion and sparingly topped with shaved gran padano.

Definitely a yes-please as an appetiser.

I personally love having a little of everything on my fork!

Avocado & Mushroom Salad

I’ve always fancied the creamy texture of avocado in salads, so quite naturally, this one appeased my palate.

It resembled the yu sheng (Teochew-style raw fish salad served during Chinese New Year); only this platter was filled with greens, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and avocado; finished off with a slight tang of vinaigrette.

My mister has a hate-hate relationship with greens so these 2 starters were 90% mine! So there I was, grazing like a cow before I got the cow on my plate lol! Ok, now let’s move on to the real deal.

MeatWorks Burger

If you, like me, enjoy watching American or British cooking shows on tv, you’d have watched chef after chef preparing a homemade patty with ground meat and spices, leaving you salivating for one right after.

The MeatWorks burger is exactly that.

Humongous grilled succulent beef patty, topped with fresh salad and finished generously with mayonnaise-based dressing. And you have got to believe me, the patty was the size of my hand! I had mine with foccacia, but you can choose what you’d like the patty to be sandwiched in.

Hanging Tender

So I’ve read that this cut of beef comes from the cow’s diaphragm and is not conventionally served as a dish or main course; but I applaud MeatWorks for taking the road less travelled. The dish embodies its name and is truly tender to the mighty carnivore’s bite.

We had ordered it well-done (I’ve got a bad case of bloodophobia hehe), and to my amazement, it was neither dry nor tough which was usually the case if you insisted your meat well-done.

This one’s a definite timeless classic of deliciousness.

Wagyu D Rump

Drumroll please while I introduce my favourite main course to date (I say to date, because without a doubt, I will sit on those red seats again & diggin in on a Bronto.) Wagyu, the tenderest of steaks, owes its form to the marbling of the meat. According to Steve (our well-informed & thoughtful waiter), the cows were fed the finest of grains and basically had a great life before they became steak.

As the plate descends on the table before me, I could already steal whiffs of char-grilled goodness!

Oh gosh, the steak was a gorgeous mass of latticed brown crust with a slight glisten of pink that lies beneath.

The phenomenal piece of meat on my plate was a breeze to cut due to its delicate marbled pink structure and it being succulent with aromatic juices.

Well done indeed.

I had mine accompanied with Bearnaise sauce (sans any traces of wine) and what a pair they were! If I go on to describe the Wagyu D Rump, I could well use some expletives to tell you just how &%$!-ing good it was.

Just try it, you’ll thank me later!

Now, what’s a happy meal without sweet treats?

Desserts

Twice, my Mister had the Tiramisu.

The first time was fate, I’d say, having had the waitress come to us twice saying that his dessert choices were unavailable. But now, I’m pretty certain that it’s his ultimate choice at MeatWorks.

The little shot of Tiramisu, had the right balance of sweet, creamy and coffee decadence.

Having always enjoyed crème brulee, there was no question what I was going to order after catching a glimpse at the dessert menu. And this one, peeeeerfect. Just the right amount of not-too-sweet but oh-so-creamy custard, under a veneer of crystallised caramel which glimmered under the chandeliers.


Oh gawd, this was heaven, I thought.

Downside though, frankly, who was I kidding – one ramekin is enough for a crème brulee fan like me? I’d have 6 if I had my way!

Mocktails and Smoothies

With quirky names like C&M, Cape Sunrise, L&P and Very Berry, I know that you’d be quite skeptical to even pick any. But really, their mocktails and smoothies rocked my socks! If I had to pick one though, it’d be the C&M Smoothie, over and over again. I’ll give you 4 reasons why – Caramel, Macadamia, Orange juice and Yoghurt.

Enough reasons?

MeatWorks is perfect for special occasions, like anniversaries or birthdays, or days when you think Hey I’ve done great for myself and I deserve a treat! And my sincerest thanks to Ms Wahida from MeatWorks@ION Orchard for listening to our beef-starved voices and for making our dining experience simply flawless.

Till my next Brontosaurus Steak indulgence,

xoxo T-Rex

MeatWorks Restaurant

#04-12, 27 to 32, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn

Ramadhan buffet: $38++/adult & $19++/child

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Twenty-nine Days

This evening, in the midst of the usual family dinner, we gathered by the radio to hear that tomorrow would officially be the arrival of a blessed month that every Muslim look forward to each year: Ramadhan. It is a month where one ideally detoxifies their mind, body, heart and soul.

Personally, in Ramadhan – food, ironically, seem to be in exceptional abundance (we are such blessed creatures, y’know?) and it truly warms the heart to share them with neighbours, family and friends.

And just for you, lovelies, I’d planned out a few things to share throughout these 29 days:

Sahur Recipes

For sahur or pre-dawn meal, my family traditionally needs just about anything as long as it came with rice; to store up energy for the day. So, I figure I’ll share a few recipes that you can prepare the night before, and heat up just before dawn.

Iftar Recipes – Desserts / One-dish Meals

Iftar, or more commonly known as breaking of fast, would usually be take-aways with the exception of occasional one-dish home-cooked meals. Most of the time, I like to prepare desserts because I’ve got a sweet tooth by nature. Ain’t no surprise that everyone else in my family does too!

Iftar Venues

It’s quite commonplace here in Singapore to have restaurants and food joints fully-booked during the Ramadhan evenings between 7-7.30pm. I’m quite guilty of choking up the bookings too, because there is just something about sharing a hearty meal outside with family or friends after a long day of abstinence.

FOTD

I’ll be posting a few on Countless Plates Gallery. I hope it’ll help you decide where or what to have for iftar with your loved ones.

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Familiar Flavour

As a child, my brother and I frequented our granny’s place when both our parents headed off to their 9-to-5. Lunch & dinner were usually prepared lovingly by her and she never failed to note our favourites, cook them and watch us both lap up our plates with glee.

Apart from the simple but satisfying combination of rice-butter-sunny-side up-&-dark-soy-sauce (Still my ultimate fave!), I fondly remember her preparing Ayam Korma’ at least twice a week, because it was a familiar flavour that topped my favourites list. I was already a foodie back when I was 7 lol!

Now, each time I prepare this dish, my mind forms a vivid recollection of her feeding me amid my rambling about events in school. Oh alright, sentimental memories and granny stories aside; here are the ingredients you’ll need for Ayam Korma’ as prepared by the wise ole lady herself – I have em all at my fingertips cos it’s a household staple!

For Spices mix:

3 tsp Coriander Seeds

1 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds

1 tsp White Peppercorn

1/2 Nutmeg

1 tbsp Korma’ spice powder

4 cloves Garlic (blend)

2 large Red Onions (blend)

2 stalks Lemongrass

1 inch Galangal

2 Kaffir Lime Leaves

1 Whole Chicken

1 cup (or less) Coconut Milk

For Garnish:

Coriander Leaves

Fried Shallots

Toast the 4 spices in a pan over a medium heat, to intensify the aroma. Roll them around so they don’t get burnt.

Here are some quick tips on dried spices:

When you’re cooking with spices like cumin, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and the likes, get the right proportions. Under-adding spices will result in a less aromatic dish, yet over-adding spices will overpower other ingredients and may even cause the dish to be bitter! Yikes!

Toasting spices helps to release their aroma. It is however, important to not burn it. Burning your spices too will result in a bitter dish, so do keep it under close watch.

In a mortar, grind the toasted spices with Korma’ spice powder. Once it’s well-grounded, mix it to the blended garlic cloves and onions. This fragrant mix is the foundation of the Ayam Korma’. Now, give yourself a pat on the back! =)

In a large pot, heat the oil before sautéeing the mixture. Pound the lemongrass stalks and galangal, and toss them into the pot. Remember the tip I mentioned in the Mee Bandung recipe? Ensure that you see the oil seeping through the spices, or “naik bau/terbit minyak” before proceeding to the next step. Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, your chicken is ready to dive right in! Rip the lime leaves and add it to the pot while you’re at it.

Here’s a useful rule that I abide by:

Avoid adding water when you add meat to sautéed spices. This will ensure that the meat will retain all the lovely flavours of your spice mix. Meat, especially beef and chicken, will release their juices into the spices as they cook, and forms the gravy. You’ll get tender meat and gravy that’s bursting with flavour and aroma, I promise!

Pour in half a cup of coconut milk, stir, cover the pot and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Intermittently add the rest of your coconut milk later. Give it a few minutes to simmer a little more. Once your poultry is cooked, sprinkle coriander leaves and fried shallots; cover the pot, get it off the fire and let it rest.

Serve with piping hot white rice, or if you can’t live a day without bread, why not? This is a great dish to serve during Aidilfitri too, alongside ketupat or lontong (traditional Malay rice cakes).

I wouldn’t say it’s a quick & easy recipe – let’s just say, you just have to constantly remind yourself that cooking is a labour of love (speaking from experience!). If you have a soft spot for familiar Malay home-cooked flavours, you’d know that Ayam Korma’ is undeniably good.

You’d also know that this recipe is definitely worth a try or two, yes?

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ChocOrange Toast

The past week has been merciless mugging for me. With one exam down just yesterday, another one is drawing closer by the day. Barely had time to update this space but I’m seeing new visitors on Countless Plates, so a big HEY and a warm welcome to you!

I’ll make this update a really quick one – as quick as I fixed this Chocolate Orange French Toast for my study break. Here’s what you need:

For Egg Mixture:
2 Eggs
1 tbsp Heavy Cream
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Orange Zest
Pinch of salt

2 slices halved White Bread

Handful of Chocolate Buttons
1 tbsp Butter
Orange Zest

In a plate, beat all the ingredients for the egg mixture. Make sure they’re well mixed, before letting the bread to sponge it all in. Let it sit about 30 secs on both sides.

Prepare a slightly hot pan & baste it with enough butter to fry the toast. Rescue them from the heat once they turn golden brown on both sides.

In a small bowl, drop a handful of Marks&Spencer’s chocolate buttons (I replenished my inventory yesterday yeay!) with a teaspoon of butter and pop it in the microwave, on high for about half a minute.

Stack your golden toast in a plate, add the rest of your butter and pour the melted chocolate over em. Grate orange zest over that beautiful mess and eat it right away! Right away!

Steal whiffs of citrus as you bite into the irresistibly warm french toast, and mmm… glazed with melted chocolate topped with zest.

I trust you’ll be sneaking into your kitchen now as I head back to my books?

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My Food Porn Addiction – CP Gallery

So the saying goes: A picture is worth a thousand words.

If that is really true, then Countless Plates Gallery might be worth a 20,000-word encyclopedia of my personal favourites. I’m no professional photographer, but hell, I enjoy capturing food on photos just as much. Practice makes perfect, so really, this is something I believe everyone is capable of. Thus, I’ve created this gallery of mouthwatering dishes, snacks, desserts and pretty much everything I would pop into my mouth a thousand times over.

If it made you salivate, then why, you’re most welcome! =)

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