An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Meatless Monday: Cucumber & Cheese Toasty

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Before you roll your eyes and go -” WHAT?! I don’t need a recipe for making a sandwich!! This post is a waste of my time!”, let me first explain that I didn’t set out to teach people how to cook and this isn’t really a food blog. I just want to point out that there are various ways you can go meat-free on Mondays without thinking that it’s just salad or rabbit food. Maybe in the next post, I’ll tell you to go have milk and cereal for breakfast because it’s meatless (and hence tah dah… one meat-free meal in the day, two more to go!).

So anyway, I wanted to actually call this Cucumber Sandwich #1 and then go on to show you how many yummy different ways you can put thin crunchy slices of cool cucumber between the bread of your choice and eat a cucumber sandwich everyday for 5 days in a row without being sick. But to begin with I thought I’d just be a little more explicit in the title – this “recipe” has cucumber and cheese and toasted slices of bread. Maybe in the comments you’ll share with me your method for making the yummiest cucumber sandwiches YOU have ever eaten, so I don’t have to put up another one.

But before anything else, I would like to dedicate this post to 3 special people I love so much – Gina Ang who made some really yummy cucumber sandwiches so that this vegetarian was catered at Mylene Fong’s house party; Pearlyn Yong who was genuinely quite sad for me because I only had veggies in my sandwich after I quit the flesh and stopped eating yummy lunch meat we used to share; and my darling T who thinks that anything with cucumber in it “naturally tastes healthier”.

There are many ways to make a good cucumber sandwich – invariably though, there are 3 golden rules:

  1. Always cut off the crusts of the bread
  2. Always skin the cucumber and cut into 0.5cm or slightly thinner.
  3. Always use butter

I have no idea why but it’s true. You can add mint and cream cheese, you can use white bread, you can skip toasting the bread, but the 3 golden rules make for the best cucumber sandwiches.

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Cucumber & Cheese Toasty
Serves 1. Preparation Time: 3 minutes. Cook time: 2 minutes.
Cucumber
4 slices of bread
Salted butter
Low-fat mayonaise
2 slices cheddar cheese
Method:
1. Toast your bread lightly and trim off crust.
2. Peel off the skin of your cucumber and slice thinly at an angle.
3. Spread mayo over your toast and put cheese on top of that slice.
4. Put cucumber slices next to the buttered side of another slice of toast. (Cucumber must always be next to the butter.)
5. Cut into triangles and serve.
And that’s how you make a very simple meat-free meal for breakfast or tea! It doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be complicated.


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Meatless Monday: Tofu Omelette

This is a power protein dish – to me.

20130918-092443.jpgIt’s not everyday that I feed T so much for breakfast – we usually have soy milk, cereal and yoghurt. But because I was giving him less for lunch on this particular day, I thought I should help him load up a little bit more. Also, we had a conversation a few days ago about vegetarians getting enough protein fuel through different foods. He’s a big guy and he thinks he hasn’t been eating enough protein for his weight.

So anyway, if you don’t eat meat, what are your sources of vegetarian protein? Not all protein need to be from animal flesh. Did you know that whole grains like quinoa, whole grain bread and brown rice are great for protein. Also, beans, nuts, soy, nuts and eggs!

This high protein recipe for tofu omelette is quick and easy to make. I served it with a side of steamed spinach and a grilled cheese sandwich for a power-packed breakfast! You can eat it any time of the day too!

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Tofu Omelette

Serves 1. Prep Time: 2 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes.

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons worth of chopped spring onions

1 tablespoon of vegetarian oyster sauce (mushroom flavoured)

1 cup of mashed silken tofu (about half a normal brick and mashed crudely with a fork)

1 tablespoon of cooking oil (or a small pat of butter)

Method:

1. Mix oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons of chopped spring onions and 2 large eggs in a bowl.

2. Heat up cooking oil in pan.

3. Pour egg mixture into pan and turn heat up on high.

4. Spread the mashed tofu over the egg mixture immediately.

5. Take a lid and cover your pan. Then turn heat down to medium for 30 seconds.

6. When the edges cook and become firm (you can test by trying to lift the omelette), fold the omelette in half (some of the tofu will spill but it doesn’t matter).

7. Turn off the heat and cover your pan with a lid for 1 minute.

8. Serve hot with a sprinkle of the remaining chopped spring onions.

TAH DAH!!! Easy peasy!!!

If you only eat egg whites (that’s where most of the protein come from anyway), then instead of 2 large eggs, use 3 egg whites. Feel free to add pepper to taste but I don’t think salt is necessary as the oyster sauce is quite salty as it is.


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Meatless Monday: Painless Potato Au Gratin

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How are your Mondays coming along? It’s so easy to go meat-free even if you can’t give up your steaks, fried chicken or bacon. Today’s recipe is another one using potato because it’s one of T’s favourite things to eat. He’s quite easy to cook for but strangely enough, he’s not a salad-loving vegetarian, so I have to find interesting ways to pair veggies with his meals to ensure he gets enough fresh greens in his diet. Anyway, this is a new recipe. I usually make a cheat Au Gratin with mashed potato instead and when he was in New York, he mentioned that his Aunt’s Potato Au Gratin was possibly the best he’s eaten… so I thought I’d try my hand at making one. I found 3 different recipes and I combined them through a combination of – what the heck do I have in my kitchen and what method is the fastest to make? It worked!!

This Painless Potato Au Gratin recipe serves up a really crispy hard shell top of cheese; a gooey cheesy middle mixed with the natural sweetness of the onions; ending right at the bottom with flaky and fluffy potato slices. I love food with different textures. Maybe you would too?

Painless Potato Au Gratin

Serves 4 (or 2 very greedy people). Prep Time: 10 minutes. Cooking Time: 1 hour.

3 large baking potatoes

1/2 cup diced onion

2 1/2 tablespoon butter

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

1 cup bread crumbs

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400degF.

2. Scrub potatoes well and rinse. Do not peel.

3. Cut potatoes into 1/4 thick slices (I can never get them even but who cares).

4. Layer 1 1/2 potatoes worth of the slices in the baking pan.

5. Pour 1 cup of milk over the potatoes already in the pan.

6. Melt about 1/2 tablespoon of butter and brown the diced onions.

7. Sprinkle the browned diced onions over the first layer of the potatoes.

8. Layer the rest of the potato slices and spread 2 tablespoons of butter over them (you can just drop dollops all over).

9. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the potatoes, then the breadcrumbs and lastly the cheddar. Make sure to cover the surface well.

10. Put the baking pan in the middle rack and bake for 45 minutes.

11. Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes before serving!
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Meatless Monday: Easy Rustic Corn Cakes

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I love the taste of meat so much and I crave junk food all the time. I miss chicken nuggets, I miss bacon, I miss deep fried chicken wings and the bad stuff. I would care less about them being unhealthy (broiled chicken breasts are not my thing ever) if they weren’t made of animal. Sometimes I do think that someday I might just cave in and give in to my meat cravings. For now, food like these thai-style corn cakes fill the void and hits the spot. I swear it’s just the grease and texture I miss – what is chicken nuggets made of anyway (okay, let’s not go there… yith!).

This recipe is something I modified from what I observed from my father’s sister, Auntie Mary. I can’t remember what she was battering but the essence of the method can be applied to anything you want to deep-fry. I was so impressed with how she whipped it all up in a matter of minutes that I secretly vowed to be the kind of hostess who has a fully stocked pantry where I can easily pick ingredients and whip up a snack or meal for surprise guests.

If I can do it, so can you!

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Easy Rustic Corn Cakes

Serves 4. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes.

450g whole corn kernels

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 large egg

Cooking oil

Method:

1. Heat your deep fryer or frying pan with enough cooking oil for deep frying – the amount of oil obviously depends on the type or size of vessel you’re using.

2. Mix flour, egg, salt, pepper, basil, curry powder and corn kernels together in a large mixing bowl. Be sure to mix, flip, turn, fold – do whatever you need to mix it up real well.

3. Once oil is hot, scoop a tablespoonful of the corn mixture and drop it gently into the vat of hot oil. You can and should do several simultaneously if there’s enough space in your cooking vessel.

4. Turn over the corn cake when it starts to turn light brown.

5. Remove each corn cake quickly and allow to cool/drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

6. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.

7. Serve with sweet Thai chili sauce, ketchup or salsa! TAH DAH!

There is enough in this recipe for 4 people as a side dish or snack (I strongly recommend this… oh yum!). And it’d also be perfect for 2 when served with steamed jasmine rice!

ENJOY!!

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Meatless Monday: Easy Roasted Potatoes

20130830-192509.jpgI love potatoes but T loves them even more than I do. I have been trying to create different ways of cooking potato at home. I love that they are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, potassium, manganese and dietary fibre. Unfortunately, potatoes have a bad rep for being fattening and unhealthy because the most popular ways of eating them are usually in the form of french fries and chips. My Roasted Potatoes recipe, I feel, is healthy and possibly low calorie, as long as you don’t load it up with fattening condiments like sour cream or bacon bits.

You can pretty much roast other vegetables with the same seasoning and method too! Think carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, brussel sprouts, cauliflower…

Easy Roasted Potatoes

Serves 2. Prep time: 15 min. Cooking time: 60 mins (most of which you can relax)

3 medium-sized potatoes

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Method:

1. Peel potatoes then parboil for 10 minutes in boiling water (add salt to water). (This step makes it crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside)

2. Set aside to cool.

3. Preheat oven to 400f.

3. Cut cooled potatoes into quarters.

4. Place in mixing bowl and toss with garlic, rosemary, pepper, brown sugar and olive oil.

5. Transfer to sheet pan and spread them out.

6. Roast for 45 minutes to 1hour. Flip twice during cooking to ensure you get more browned crispy bits.

6. Remove from oven and serve hot.

20130830-192520.jpgI served mine as a side dish to the stir-fried green beans (from last week’s recipe) and rice. For some reason, T didn’t quite believe that I made up the recipe myself from the ingredients I found in the pantry. He said he loved them as much as those store-bought, pre-seasoned ones he got for more than twice the price of what we paid for the ingredients. I still think it’s a fluke and with me, my cooking is still a hit and miss. I’m sharing this recipe because it’s a hit with T and I hope it will be with you too!

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Dinner at AquaMarine – Marina Mandarin

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It wasn’t quite Christmas yet and we still have just under 6 months to go but it’s always great to meet my Christmas boys. My friends and I went to AquaMarine (Level 4, Marina Mandarin Hotel) for dinner on Sunday 14 July 2013 to celebrate Glenn’s birthday. It’s been a while since I last saw them and as usual, I love our random conversation topics, sometimes bordering on scandalous. I’ve known most of them for possibly for 15 years or more. These days, we often reminisce about our foolhardy ways of yore where we struggle to remember how we made it to graduate with our degrees when we used to drink ourselves silly and go to the clubs several times a week despite being student poor.

And I digressed, so back to dinner… I read several negative reviews about this Halal buffet restaurant but I didn’t think it was as bad. The spread had variety and it’s basically a seafood lover’s dream. Crabs, mussels, prawns, oysters, sashimi and other creatures of the sea were served. There was a small Japanese section though not authentic in my opinion. Lots of desserts – cakes, ice cream, pralines, nonya kueh; a small selection of cheeses that included Brie and Camembert; Indian food with curries and briyani rice; other local Singaporean staples like Chinese stir-fries, satay, fried rice, kueh pie tee etc; and possibly many other stations I didn’t explore.

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A vegetarian could easily fill up here but I didn’t feel like it was worth what we paid per head. After a credit card discount (I think 15%), we still ended up paying about S$69 each. The company though was great, so I enjoyed myself. There were large tables that easily accommodated big groups of 8 (like ours) or more. The seating was generous and spacious so sitting around and chatting for an extended period was comfortable unlike some places where they try to hurry you to finish within 2 hours or gets so noisy you can’t hear each other without raising your voice.

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My verdict: 6.5/10 for variety, comfort, and accessible location.

And here are my friends’ opinions:

Kai – 8/10 “because of the crabs”

Felix – 7/10 “There’s no pork or bread pudding! And the ice cream is horrible.”

Daniel – 6.5/10 “Although it seems like a wide selection, there’s no one dish that really stands out”

Markie – 6.5/10 “the crayfish was powdery and there is no pork!”

Glenn – 7/10 “there’s variety but no quality for the price”


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A Vintage Tea Party – HOUSE @ Dempsey

My SPArty pals and I went to HOUSE @ Dempsey yesterday for their Vintage Tea Party which happens every Thursday and Friday, 3 to 5.30pm. Dempsey is one of those areas in Singapore I don’t visit often. Too inconvenient for me if I’m not driving. I love the company of my friends and especially my gal pals, so exploring new eateries is always fun when you have the right company.

When we were there, it seemed like many others had the same idea too. It was practically full and the buffet line was constantly crowded. The patrons were a diverse lot. Some were like us – gal pals gathering and gossiping (but a wide age range as there were groups of older ladies in their 50s-60s and some younger girls who looked like they were in their early to mid-20s), there were also couples, at least 2 tables with push-prams and babies, as well as some smaller all-male tables too.

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There was good spread of savouries and sweets. I would have loved to have a few more savoury vegetarian options though the truffle mushrooms and cheese platter were yummy. Good thing for me, I love sweets – chocolate cupcakes, cookies, puddings, cheesecakes – bring them all on! For S$22++ per person, I’d say it’s pretty good. I give it a 7.5/10 for ambience, comfort and the tasty options!

Verdict from my friends:

Pixiedub 8/10 “Everything I ate was really yummy! From the burgers to the cakes…”

Cherry 8/10 “I wish there was a wider variety of teas.”

Linda 9/10 “I just wish there was better service.”

Lil Nat 9/10 (actually secretly 10/10 but she didn’t want to look too enthusiastic) “I LOVE CHEEEEESE!”

HOUSE

8D Dempsey Road

Singapore 249672

Call: 64757787 for reservations! MUST book as they get really full!