One Blog Cooking


This blog has friends whose palates are amongst the most discerning you can ever find. I shit you not, when these people – who are unimpressed with Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse and even Ferran Adria at their restaurants – come for dinner, you wish you’d just go to the nearest tze char.

This year, I am shifting focus, more or less, to Chinese cooking but before I move on, let’s take a quick look at what I’ve done, warts and all, recently.

My Biggest Disaster So Far


I pretty good with beef – this blog states without an ounce of shame – but not so with lamb. My first attempt at lamb turned out disastrously tough because I was torn between medium rare and well-done. Indecision is not a good thing when you have guests arriving in an hour.

TTC was surprised at the gravy (I used my favorite Riesling) but I still have bad flashbacks of Florence’s lamb sailing through the air as she gamely tried to cut through it. You know you are amongst good friends when they lie to you on how good your cooking is. 🙂

Lesson learnt: never attempt a first-time dish when you have guests coming over.


Chicken Perfumed With Grappa


According to one of the largest Italian wine distributors here, I am the largest private Grappa collector in Singapore. So it’s only natural that I should attempt something using Grappa; more so because I’ve finally received my shipment of Grappa di Amarone, one of the most flavorful Grappas you can find.

Grappa is the very soul and essence of the fruit. The taste characteristics of Grappa Bianca (white Grappa) are Jasmine, Honeysuckle (like Honey, only less so) and Lemon; this means it will go good with a light meat like fish or chicken. I choose chicken thighs because they are simply more flavorful and I like a crisp skin.

Rather than do a flambe and waste all that subtle flavor, I did a cream sauce by leeching out the sage flavors with butter and the Grappa di Amarone and some Nutmeg also known as the French MSG.

The only mistake was that I forgot to clean out the frying pan (after frying a steak) and I was too lazy to filter so the cream sauce came out filthy but the taste was definitely divine.

Next experiment: Gin; them juniper berries taste good too.

The Sauce Was Over-done and Unfiltered

I Was Invited To A Brunch So I Made Chilli


This was in December last year when there was promise of a Bagel and Rugelach brunch. These are no ordinary Bagels and Rugelach, they are handmade in the traditional New York City Bakery tradition by a New York Jew. If you do not know what Rugelach is, you’re seriously missing out on a good thing. Oh yes, we had Salmon smoked from wood used in the barreling of Glenfiddich whisky; awesome.

Anyway, I’ve been talking about doing a Chili Con Carne for a long time, so I thought some homemade Chili would go great with them homemade baked products. The process is simple, in fact it is exactly like making a stew where you slowly, carefully build the flavors from scratch and leave everything overnight to fermen stabilize and harmonize.

The only conscious choice was to decide on whether to use Guinness Stout or the Dark Wheat Beer from Erdinger. I choose Erdinger because it’s less overpowering and it’s Florence’s favorite beer.

Thankfully, everyone loved it. I was really happy to see a lot of people going for seconds and thirds. I won’t tell them I forgot to add the kidney beans if you won’t. 🙂

My Homemade Chilli With Dark Wheat Beer

I Found A Duck Breast In My Freezer


I have a habit of buying meats that look very good and think of a recipe to cook them with later. So it was with great delight that I found a duck breast in my freezer. I had developed a special wet rub that I use for strong meats like lamb and duck (goes well with pork too), but I’ve never been able to use it for duck breast because I usually can’t find one handy.

I’m not sure if duck can be served rare so I went a little deep and got a medium. It was a little chewy (you can slice it thinly like the restaurants do to conceal that) I think the duck tasted awesome because the rub works well with a fatty, strong tasting meat like duck. It looks black because the main component is dark soya sauce.

Slightly Over-done

Chinese New Year Prime Rib And Roasted Veg Lunch


This year I hosted a Chinese New Year Lunch for my cousins because they’ve been curious about how I cook beef. It is always cheaper to do a home-cooked roast but you don’t get the restaurant experience.

Oh yes, I love my new blue place mats from Ikea. The new design makes cleaning much easier as particles and stains don’t get stuck in the grooves unlike the old design.

Anyway, it was a simple affair but I decided to juice it up a little by doing a gravy. I had some consultation with Joone! and TTC regarding the use of a Balsamic Vinegar reduction as a gravy for beef. Personally, I like it as it has a slightly sweet-sourish tang that simply whets the appetite but since I’ve only done it for myself, I wasn’t quite sure if it was acceptable to others. Joone! thought it was OK and TTC suggested adding some Dijon mustard to the Balsamic Vinegar reduction.

I used grainy mustard instead because the Balsamic Vinegar (reduced with the beef drippings and stock) gravy turned out a little too sharp which would have been overwhelmingly intensified by Dijon (I tested that in a small batch). There was some puckering at the table, but it was quickly lapped up. Actually, because the beef was slow-roasted, it remained moist which made the gravy a little redundant, but the sharp tangy-ness made the boring old roast prime rib a little jazzier.

I went a little deep with the meat because I wasn’t sure how my cousins would take to beef done rare, so I used a slightly higher temperature so that they get a roast with varying degrees of doneness to choose from. There were none left. Yay!

The main surprise for me was the roasted root vegetables. I managed to find Goose fat this time and I think duck fat gives the roasted veg a sweeter taste. The biggest surprise was when one cousin confessed that this was the first time he put a clove of garlic in his mouth. He was amazed at the taste. I am happy.


I Was Invited To A Pot-Luck So I Baked (Sort-of)

I Layered Parma Ham On Short Crust Pastry

This was a last-minute invite and the host was someone with an impeccable palate (both food and wine) and is an accomplished cook (her pasta is simply peerless), so what you gonna do?

The last thing I baked was brownies and while it turned out well received (I basically pushed it on people), it was a long time ago. So in desperation, I decided to do a Parma Ham Swirl.

Fortunately, I had one night to practice the concept which was basically sound (I’ve yet to meet someone who hates Parma Ham with Parmigiano-Reggiano) except for the fact that I set the oven to “stun “Grill” instead of “Bake”. This beta version turned out OK and was well received by my colleagues. On the whole I think grilling the swirl made more savory but the subtle sweetness of the Parma Ham was burned out; it tasted more like bacon instead.

The baked version (final release) was much better because I paid enough attention to set the oven to “Bake”. This time I could taste the actual Parma Ham. I went strong on the black pepper which went over well with everyone. Ai Ling loved the pepperiness, Florence was amazed, Jeremy nodded and said he liked it, Tony said that it was a “credible effort for a first timer” and mine host enjoyed it so much that she saved some for breakfast the next day and loved it, so yay!

One final word was that I consulted with Joone! on whether I should use a egg wash or butter on the short crust pastry, she’s not a baker so she guessed egg wash. The beta version had a egg wash and the final version had a brushing of Olive oil because I forgot to get eggs, fortunately both seemed to work.

Final Production Set (Sans Rock Melon)

Posted on 13th Mar 2009 in Food and Drink, Fun, Makankaki, Recipes


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