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New beginnings

Hi there.

Eight years ago I started this blog as a teenager. It was at a not-so-easy time in my life when I was struggling to keep my grades up in school. It’s funny how counterintuitive that sounds. I’m not sure how I thought creating another distraction would be helpful for my failing report card, but I guess back then there wasn’t much thought to it. I just started writing, taking pictures and posting about all the food I ate, recipes I was creating, cooking, and a whole bunch of things in between. Looking back now, Smitten Glutton was undoubtedly catharsis for me, an awkward 17-year-old trying to find a bit of comfort, amid the pain of calculus.

In the span that this website was most active, I was really glad to have an outlet to share my love for food and hone my creative chops, in writing and photography. Right now I work as a professional photographer and editor, but for those who don’t know, it was through this blog that I started taking my first “proper” pictures and falling in love with creating visual and written content.

Now that you’re here, in case it wasn’t obvious, I’d taken a really long break from Smitten Glutton. This was with the excuse that I had other more important things to focus on. To be fair, I did, in fact get a number of things done since I was last here: I graduated from university, fell in (and out of) love, travelled across Europe, moved houses, worked overseas for the first time, started freelancing, and then some. So many things to do, so little time, I said.

Pinning down the actual reason for my extended hiatus has taken me far longer than I care to admit: being busy was just a convenient, but poor cover for what was really a lack of self-motivation. I was somehow convinced if I couldn’t make something perfect, that I should stop trying.

(Also I was very conscious about how being a “blogger” tends to gets a bad rap, especially in Singapore, where often by extension, it means “influencer”. Not sure about you but this still sounds terribly uncool and not okay for me. Haha)

In all likelihood, the concept of blogging is probably dated right now especially compared to more dynamic, engaging content like Youtube, or Instagram stories, whether for food or other topics. But I still follow some of these blogs for I find there’s a sort of romance to the personal touch from someone’s journal, whatever it is they write about, and I admire that kind of openness and dedication.

While it’s been five years since anyone has heard from me here – yes, I’m glad WordPress still exists – my love for food has not changed a bit. I’m still cooking every other day when I can find the time for it, and I’m probably still the greediest person within any square mile.

If you’ve made it to this point, thank you for bothering with my rambles. I’m not exactly sure how this little corner I created on the web will look like years, or even months from now. But if it’s any indication of what’s to come, I’ll be learning to face my failed goals and embrace partial successes.

And, like half the world on lockdown, I’ve been baking sourdough bread – so there’s that.

Categories
Brunch Burgers East Hawker Food

Ballistic Meatballs @ The Bedok Marketplace

Simpang Bedok has always been synonymous to Spize and the other restaurants serving great halal food till late. However, an extra 2-minute venture from the popular supper spot will take you to The Bedok Marketplace, a lesser known treasure chest of good eats and great chill vibes.

Formerly Simpang Bedok Food Centre, the refurbished marketplace retains (or rather, recreates) the traditional shophouse exterior for a tinge of nostalgia while also sporting a lively new look to attract the younger crowd. Its line-up of stalls includes old time favourites that remained on since renovation and new contenders with a modern twist to hawker cuisine.

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One of the new joints here is Ballistic Meatballs set up by 30 year-old owner and chef Ryan Chuang. No prizes for guessing that this spiffy, cafe-like stall specializes in freshly made meatballs — on top of their repertoire of other mainly western-type dishes.

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Signature Ballistic Meatballs (S$5.90/5pc). These ground beef balls house a nugget of melty mozzarella cheese while boasting a crispy, yet light sesame batter on the outside to lock in the juices.

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My personal favorite though were the Crispy Crab Balls (S$10.50/4pc). The crabmeat was fresh and light with additional clam chunks for a boost of texture. The punchy chilli crab sauce they were served in was in fact quite authentic and had an adequate spiciness that made it something to remember. These are also served with a side of deep-fried mantou buns for you to lap up every last bit of the sauce. Loved it.

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These Beef Quesadillas (S$7.90/half, S$13.90/whole) may not look the part, but were chock full of flavor. Beef ball chunks, coriander, red chilli peppers and mozzarella stuffed in a toasted tortilla made for a party in the mouth.

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Ballistic Meatballs also serve an array of various pasta dishes, including this Crabmeat Linguine (S$9.50). T’was more brothy than your average aglio olio, but retained the garlicky goodness we all love from the traditional one. Cooked to al dente perfection.

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Perhaps my least favorite of the lot were these Truffle Crispy Wild Mushrooms (S$6.90). They were crispy alright, but severely lacked seasoning and the truffle taste it promised in its name. Would probably go better with some beer and a loud crowd of soccer fans at night.

Other dishes to try are the chunky Roasted Tomato Soup (S$3.5), which was tangy with a pronounced sweetness from the caramelized tomatoes and the vegetarian Plain Jane Meatballs (S$4/5pc) which were stuffed with sweet potatoes, carrots and deep fried to golden perfection. End off your meal with a slice of Homemade Cheesecake (S$5) before heading for a beer next door.

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What I love about Ballistic Meatballs is that they have captured the essence of creating food with sincerity. Every dish seems to have been well-thought out and experimented, and it feels to me like a thoughtful and well-executed attempt to stand out from the crowd. Definitely be bringing friends back for a chill night out along with some drinks on the side.

BALLISTIC MEATBALLS
#02-02/03 Bedok Market Place
348 Bedok Road,
Simpang Bedok
Singapore 469560

Opening Hours:
11.30am — 10pm daily

https://www.facebook.com/ballisticmeatballs

**This was an invited Media Tasting.**

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Uncategorized

Full-Day Johor Bahru Food Trail!

The past semester at school has been absolutely insane and it was no fun getting bogged down by deadlines and back-to-back midterms. While I haven’t been updating this blog, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that the eating never stops.

To begin, I went on a mini food trail to Johor Bahru a couple of weeks ago (and also posted tons of pictures on Instagram!), first with a few friends, and then family. Most of the places we visited this time were sought out by using Johor Kaki as a planning guide. In terms of both breadth and depth, Johor Kaki’s a really great resource as it’s got plenty of areas in JB covered, along with comprehensive and interesting reviews. Highly recommending it to anyone looking to cross the Causeway for good eats.

For your reference as well as my own in future, here are pictures and the locations of the food joints I visited in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Read till the end for more details about getting around.

Nyonya Kueh Kiosk @ City Square Mall
106-108, 3rd Floor, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Located outside Uniqlo and right next to the escalator, you won’t miss it as you exit Customs and enter the mall. Really juicy kueh dadar, quite easily the best one I’ve had yet.

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Restoran Kin Wah 锦华茶餐室
8, Jalan Trus, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Great for: Traditional kopi, half-boiled kampung eggs, soft bun, 3-way (peanut butter, nutella, kaya) toast.

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Uncle Koh Wanton Mee 許记云吞面
106, Jalan Pahlawan 2, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah (TUTA), Skudai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Springy, al dente egg noodles tossed in oh-so-glorious lard. Not quite diggin’ the dry char siew, but that’s about it. Everything else was done well. And the soup? It was BOMB.

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Restoran Wah Cai 華仔三合一招牌炸年糕
86, Jalan Pahlawan 2, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah (TUTA), Skudai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Good for: Cempedak, durian, and their signature 3-in-1 (consisting of yam, new year cake i.e. 年糕, sweet potato) fritter. Deep-fried to golden perfection, what a treat.

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Restoran Lai Kee 来记西刀鱼丸
90, Jalan Pahlawan 2, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah (TUTA), Skudai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Best for their homemade BOUNCY AS FUCK fish balls and thick fish cakes. Also, you have your choice of noodles tossed in chilli and lard. What could possibly go wrong? You tell me.

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Min Corner 民
110, Jalan Pahlawan 2, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah (TUTA), Skudai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

A small bakery-cafeteria specializing in Chinese pastries and snacks. This was where I had literally the best png kueh (glutinous rice cake) of my life. So fragrant, so moist, and stuffed to the brim with a gorgeous mushroom and meat filling. Also, there’s a decent selection of hot and iced desserts to wash down all the greasy goodness from lunch!

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Art52 Coffee
52, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

A hole in the wall situated above this humble art gallery. Simply put, the coffee was fantastic, vibes were chill, and the barista-owner is young, talented and very friendly. Really the kind of place you’d want to hide from the rain in for hours (which was exactly what we did).

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Restoran Ah Piaw 阿標雲吞面
Jalan Kelewang, Taman Sri Tebrau, 80050 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

A routine dinner stop for me. Great for their dry abalone noodles tossed in signature Malaysian black sauce and chilli, sambal lala (clams) and deep-fried loklok (skewers). The lard-laden wanton noodles (you should have guessed by now!) are pretty dope too.

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Following this guide, you want to be entering JB pretty early at around 9 – 9.30am to enjoy a slow breakfast of coffee, toast and eggs at Kin Wah, which is a short 5 to 10 minute walk from the Custom & Immigration Quarantine (CIQ) Complex aka Checkpoint. It’s worth taking note that Google Maps works even without data access. One trick I like to use though, is searching for directions beforehand and taking a screenshot of the map route to conserve phone battery on the road. With that said, navigate on!

After breakfast, you can continue exploring the area which is chock full of hipster cafes and eateries. If you are keen,  Hiap Joo Bakery and Biscuit Factory, which constantly boasts a long queue of people eager to get their hands on the famous banana cake is situated just across the small road from Kin Wah!

Moving on to brunch, most of the eateries mentioned in this post are located along a single stretch called Jalan Palahwan 2, in Taman Tungku Tun Aminah, Skudai. From the breakfast place recommended, a cab ride to TUTA would cost around 24 to 25 Ringgit (less than SGD10), and is about a 15-minute drive up. Sensibly, you could start off with the savory stuff like wanton mee at Uncle Koh’s, and Lai Kee’s fish ball noodles, before moving on to the sweet treats of Wah Chye’s fried durian and cempedak. Finally, wash all the goodness down with a sweet drink and iced dessert at Min Corner, which has a pretty awesome cendol to settle that for ya.

At this point in the early afternoon (1pm), we were absolutely stuffed to the brim from our brunch. For those of you who have room to stomach more food, this food street is perfect for you to explore more dishes! From here we took a taxi back to City Square Mall to work off all that food and make space for later on! City Square is awesome for many things, like shopping and half-priced Traditional Thai massage (if you compare it with Singapore of course). If you’re here with a bunch of friends and family, I definitely recommend going for laser tag at Laser Battle located on the 4th level of the mall’s new wing. Art52 is just a short walk away from City Square Mall if you’re looking for a nice post lunch perk-me-up.

Finally, cab down to Restoran Ah Piaw to eat their abalone noodles and loklok for dinner (6pm). If it’s still early, you can even take a 15-minute walk to KSL Shopping Center and shop at Tesco, or go to the basement of the mall to buy some (amazing) baked kaya puffs back home.

From either the dinner spot or KSL, take a short 10 minute cab ride back to CIQ, and you’re ready to return to Singapore with full bellies and a happy heart. If you visited every pitch stop in this guide, you’ll probably be back around 9pm, and even earlier if you skipped the shopping after dinner.

. . .

And there you have it, folks — a full day food trail planned out with timings and localities taken into consideration. Most of the places mentioned above are located not too far off from the Checkpoint, so it’s not so intimidating when it comes to getting around. I’m looking to explore more food joints on my next visit to Johor and update the blog with more details when I do. Till then, equip yourself with this guide and get ready to eat your heart out in JB! Peace out!

Categories
Asian Dessert Japanese Pastries Snacks Tea Western

From the Chocolatory: Orange Cocktail Kit Kat Review

IMG_2122I’ve always found it interesting how Kit Kat originated in the UK, yet Japan’s the one that comes up with the most innovative flavours. From wasabi to rum raisin, apple and even cream cheese – you name it, Japan’s probably thought of it.

No surprise about the Kit Kat Chocolatory in Ikebukuro, Tokyo then, which is a boutique offering limited edition, premium versions of this sweet wafer treat. One such flavour you can get is the Orange Cocktail which comes in a fancy little box that’s so special, this ish even has the word ‘special’ on it. Heh.

IMG_2137I’ve not had a whole ton of novelty Kit Kats to call myself a connoisseur, but orange cocktail sounded promising and I was excited to try it out.

Alas, I opened it.

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IMG_2165It looked like any ol’ Kit Kat with just a light whiff of orange. No trace of liqueur in the wafer itself, and the scent of it was barely even detectable.

Chocolate and orange have always been thought of as a perfect match, but this was quite disappointing to say the least. I wasn’t even expecting Cointreau or Grand Marnier to be oozing out, but Kit Kat could definitely afford to be much bolder in terms of flavour for a stronger impact and a greater kick.

Taste: 2
Scent: 2
Flavour Accuracy: 1.5
Creativity: 2

Categories
Asian Dessert Snacks Tea

GOOD GIRTH!!! Matcha Midi Pocky Review

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Alongside Wang Wang crackers and gem biscuits, Pocky is something we grew up with and it’s always been one of my favourite treats along the snack aisle!

Not till recently, I’ve noticed interesting Pocky variants being offered in Singapore and one of those happen to be the Midi series. These feature a midi-sized Pocky biscuit stick that has a DOUBLE COATING of chocolate cream – for double the satisfaction.

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Much much thicker coating on the midi Pocky (right) as compared to the regular one (left)!
Much much thicker coating on the midi Pocky (right) as compared to the regular one (left)!

They come in a box of 12 pieces separated into three individual packets, awesome for when you might not want to finish everything at one go (which for me is a real struggle). I got this from a friend who went to Japan, but they also retail in Cheers Singapore at $4.50.

Each Midi Pocky is a little under four inches long (far shorter than the usual ones) but the biscuit is also thicker for a greater crunch. I thought this went well with the extra generous coating that is smooth, rich and creamy.

Taste-wise, there were subtle hints of matcha but the flavour is just that not strong – a bit like a green tea latte that you might get from coffeehouse chains (i.e Starbucks), but less cloying and not overly sweet, which is always a good thing.

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Taste: 3.5
Scent: 3
Flavour Accuracy: 2.5
Creativity: 3

Categories
Brunch Central Dessert North Western

Sweet Treats in Toa Payoh: CREAMIER ICE CREAM!!!

IMG_1963Ice cream is one of those things I just can’t say no to, which is little wonder when the weather in Singapore calls for it all the time. Despite the burgeoning number of dessert joints (cafes, restaurants and just everything food-related for the matter) Creamier has remained as my favourite ice cream store in town, and for good reason.

IMG_1964 IMG_1965Since a couple of years back, Creamier has become Toa Payoh’s open secret as the go-to place for good ol’ fashioned, freshly-churned ice cream. The joint is nicely tucked under a HDB block, and offers a ton of ice cream flavours – ranging from the usual suspects of chocolate, rum raisin and tahitian vanilla, to their signature earl grey lavender, Horlicks chocolate chip and sea salt gula melaka (SO GOOD).

So to order, you sample as many flavours as you want and have your ice cream with a choice of waffles, cone or simply in a cup on its own. Hardest part for me is always choosing the ice cream because 1. I always struggle to resist ordering the same old flavours and 2. Everything else sounds so good. Top it off with sprinkles and marshmallows if you so wish, but I always enjoy mine as is with their Belgian waffles and a light drizzle of maple syrup and chocolate sauce on the side.

The texture of the ice cream is smooth, rich and creamy, not at all grainy or icy. Of course it was the perfect accompaniment to their well-loved waffles, which was dense and fluffy, but I still have a soft spot for the light and crisp ones from Assembly Coffee and Wimbly Lu. Head down before they sell out their waffles, which can be as early as 8.30 to 9pm!

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Of the flavours I tried so far, I loved Creamier’s Thai milk tea, green tea and roasted pistachio. My all-time favourite goes to their sea salt gula melaka – which was not too sweet and had just enough salt to bring out the unique gula melaka flavour which in itself tasted of buttery, toasted brown sugar. Mmm.

Their standard ice cream goes for $2.90/$4.90 (single/double scoop) and premium flavours for $3.90/$6.50. Creamier also offers takeaways in pints and 1.2L tubs.

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CREAMIER

Blk 128, Toa Payoh Lor 1, #01-835
Tel: 6250 1476
Opening hours:
Tue-Thurs 12pm-9pm
Sat 10am-10pm
Sun 10am-9pm
Closed on Mondays

 

Categories
Dessert Tea Western

Bite-Sized Sweet Treats – Handcrafted by Loaf!

Just when I was having a terribly slow week at school with what seemed like a million submissions due, I received a parcel in the mail last weekend.

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The kind people at Loaf Limited had sent me some of their sweet treats to sample! (I have to say that the lovely packaging is a winner in itself :))

I had never heard of Loaf before this – but it turns out that they’re a New Zealand-based bakery that only recently expanded their market to Singapore. Halal-certified, Loaf also promises the use of only natural flavours and ingredients. Their current sweet range consists of a variety of cakes and mini-bites, just like the ones they sent to me which came in the flavours of Brownie, Rocky Road and Cranberry Pistachio (muesli bars).

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The Brownie Bites were moist and fluffy on the inside with a crunchy (think cookie-crunch) exterior – exactly the kind of texture I love in a great brownie. The sweetness was just right without being cloying, though I think I would have liked if they offered a dark chocolate version of this. Nonetheless for something store-bought, these brownies had bit of a home-made quality to them. Maybe you could even try heating them up to serve with vanilla ice-cream!

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Loaf also offers a 100% gluten-free Rocky Road chocolate treat. Think of it as a soft chocolate bar studded with marshmallows, fruit gummies and toasted nuts. This was quite interesting, but for someone like me who’s not the biggest sweet tooth anyone might know, I might have to (reluctantly) give this a pass. 😦

IMG_1822Here we have the Cranberry Pistachio muesli bites, sweetened with honey for a healthier snacking option. It might just be the honey, but I found this to be the sweetest of the lot (good for you sugar guzzlers). For a dense muesli snack, there was quite a generous portion, so you can definitely share this with friends or have it when you’re looking for something healthy to keep you full.

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My only gripe about these is how they don’t come in a resealable package, such that I can have them over the course of a day or two. Other than that, the next time you see these on the shelves, don’t be afraid to give these snacks from down under a try.

Loaf’s treats are currently available in most Cold Storage, NTUC Fairprice and Market Place outlets around Singapore.

www.loaf.co.nz

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Asian Dessert Pastries

MOONCAKE GLUTTON: Peony Jade Traditional & Snowskin Mooncakes!

Mooncakes are all the rage as we approach the upcoming Mid-Autumn festival (which falls on 8 Sept this year), and it is little wonder why Mooncake Festival is the alternative name for this celebration! They’re yummy, pretty to look at and come in so many different varieties as of late – don’t know about you but I absolutely cannot resist them.

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You could probably picture the excitement on my face when my dad came home with a coupla boxes of mooncakes generously gifted by Peony Jade. The packaging for them was simply lovely – the snowskin mooncakes came in a Tiffany blue box while the traditional ones came in oriental red.

Despite the many adventurous options like bak kwa or even foie gras mooncakes, my very favourite flavour is and has always been the traditional Cantonese mooncakes with lotus paste (and of course salted egg yolk, for good measure!).

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Low-Sugar Baked Mooncake with Premium Mother of Pearl Lotus Paste and Single Yolk. Uncomplicated and simply what it is. No worries about the fact that it’s low-sugar, because the taste is absolutely not compromised. In fact you probably wouldn’t even notice because the level of sweetness is quite spot-on! How perfect with a cup of Chinese tea 🙂

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Flaky Teochew Orh Ni With Golden Pumpkin And Single Yolk. Being a true blue Teochew nang, this really hit the spot for me. The yam filling was delicious without being cloying, and the ring of pumpkin paste on the outside was a welcome surprise! The flaky baked skin was reaaaal good, but I would have preferred this without the yolk so there would be more yam filling. 😀

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Black Thorn Durian Nyonya Mooncake in Coconut Snowskin (Mini). I don’t particularly go for snowskin mooncakes, but that might have changed since trying these. This was pretty much 90% fresh Black Thorn durian flesh – sweet with a slight tinge of bitterness, incredibly fragrant and comforting. The rest of it was made up of a really beautiful blue-white coconut snowskin that came through despite the durian filling. SO GOOD.

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Mini Snowskin Mango Philadelphia Cheese Mooncake. One of Peony Jade’s Fruitti Selections, the filling here was luscious and silky with bits of mango. The taste of cream cheese was not very pronounced, so this was rather light and fruity.

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Mini Snowskin Chocolate Salted Caramel Glaze Banana and Walnuts Mooncake. Of all the mooncakes, I thought this looked the most luxe because of the really cool gold glitter! It actually really looks like some chocolate lava cake here because I didn’t freeze it for long enough. Taste-wise it was pretty interesting, but I personally didn’t quite like the salted caramel because I wanted to taste more of the banana with chocolate. Walnuts added a nice texture though!

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Mini Snowskin Fragrant Honey Williams Pears, Organic Apricot and Raspberry Mooncake. Of all the snowskin mooncakes, I thought this sounded the most enticing! Also, it was so pretty with the bright pink raspberry centre when I cut into it. This particular mooncake tasted light and refreshing, a bit like a sorbet/ice-cream after being frozen. Though the apricot taste was not pronounced, I really liked the pop of tartness from the raspberry as well as the bits of pear inside.

To purchase these lovely mooncakes, you can either order them online at their website http://www.pjmooncakes.com/ and arrange for a pickup, or head on down to their various outlets to get them personally. Finally, major thanks to Peony Jade for pampering me with these sweet treats! Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 🙂

 

Categories
Breakfast Brunch Homecooked Western

The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

Hangover cure, guilty pleasure, junk food – call it whatever you want, but an amazing grilled cheese sandwich is, for me, the temporary solution to any problem. Think rich, melty savoury cheese sandwiched between two slices of impeccably buttery fragrant toast. Yes. And if you’re in the mood, throw in a slice of crispy prosciutto, sautéed spinach, sunny side-up or even shrimp (f’yeah!) to take things up a notch. Stupid good.

What makes an amazing grilled cheese sandwich, you say? Like the answer to nearly all the world’s culinary questions: BUTTER. Make sure you butter and toast both sides of both slices of bread. Salted butter makes it easier, but most of us stash unsalted at home (and that’s what I use all the time anyway) and that’s totally okay. Just crack a little salt into the pan as you melt the butter and you’re good to go.

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Melt about half a tablespoon of salted butter in a non-stick pan over low heat. Place a slice of bread on the pan and increase to medium heat. Use a spatula to weigh the bread down/move it around occasionally.

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Before flipping the slice of bread, add another knob of butter – then do the same to the other side. Let the bread toast till golden brown, which takes about a minute per side. Remove from heat and repeat for a second slice of bread.

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Sandwich cheese between toasts and return to pan.

I used Pizza Plus, a mix of parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella which melted beautifully. I think I would recommend sliced instead of grated cheese though, as it melts more evenly. Don’t use a dry cheese that doesn’t melt!

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Weigh down your sandwich with a cooking brick/spatula as you return it to the pan! When the cheese within is almost fully melted, it’s ready to go!

Also, this video is the shizzle. That is all.

http://instagram.com/p/rVoK38urfF/?modal=true