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Carpenter and Cook

Thanks to Rachel, I knew of Carpenter and Cook before it opened.

The concept was intriguing and especially alluring to me: a cafe and vintage shop rolled into one. Sheer, utter perfection.

And so, last week saw me heading to this lovely nook three times. The first time was on the shop’s opening day, which was packed with friends and family members of the three lady bosses. Then, the Squirt mentioned that she was keen to check it out so I hopped onto a cab and met her, as well as Miss Ene and her bff there. Last Saturday, we were off dropping stuff into the donation boxes of Praisehaven when the very astute husband asked if I wanted to go back.

I married the right man, I really did.

What I loved: the whimsical, mismatched interiors, the fact that everything you sit on/drink/eat from can be purchased, the lovingly made savoury treats and that charming trip down memory lane. What’s more, I think it’s amazing that this shop is the shared dream of three young ladies, who worked hard to turn it into reality. How many of us can say that we fulfilled our dreams?

I am not exaggerating when I say that I want to buy up everything from the shop. I love, LOVE vintage.

Love.

Maybe a typewriter for our wedding anniversary, oh wonderful, delightful, loving husband of mine?

Carpenter and Cook

Interior of Carpenter and Cook

Latte and passionfruit meringue tart from Carpenter and Cook

Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate tart from Carpenter and Cook

Lemon Cream Tart from Carpenter and Cook

And no writeup is complete these days without a photo of our little man. Oh heck, let’s make it two photos.

Aidan approves of Carpenter and Cook

Aidan at Carpenter and Cook

Mr A clearly likes Carpenter and Cook too, like his mama.

Oh and that chair that he is sitting on in the second picture? Costs a cool $1,200.

Carpenter & Cook
19 Lorong Kilat #01-06
Tel: 6463 3648

Smitten by Smitten

I am a boring person. Once I find something that I like, I keep going back to it over and over again.

The same books. The same magazines. The same dishes. The same hair stylist. The same brands of clothes.

And once I discovered Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar – thanks to the recommendation of Yuling – I find myself wanting to go back there again. And again.

I like the unpretentious vibe of the place. The cosy and intimate set up. The friendly people running the joint. The good coffee. The delicious cupcakes from Plain Vanilla Bakery (hazelnut is my choice of poison). The fact that I can sit there for hours, and feel comfortable and at ease.

Is it any wonder why it’s the first place I think of when I am craving a good cup of java?

Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar
The Quayside
60 Robertson Quay #01-11
t: 98762347

Happy meal #35: Baked cod fillet

Thanks to the generosity of my mother-in-law, our freezer has been stocked full of cod and salmon in recent weeks. The only problem was that I was either too tired or in too much pain from the posterior pelvic pain to actually prepare a home-cooked meal. And so the fish stacked up higher and higher in the freezer.

Last week, I came across a ridiculously simple recipe for baked cod and decided to try it. Holy cow! It was GOOD and I ain’t blowing my own trumpet. I modified the recipe a little and made it three times (yes, we do have that many pieces of cod in the freezer). And it tasted pretty damn good every single time. Even the carnivore in my home approved.

For those of you who are looking for fuss-free dishes that can be cooked up on weekdays, look no further.

(It doesn’t look very pretty – OKAY it’s the PHOTOGRAPHER – but it tasted better than it looked.)

Baked Cod Fillet
(Serves one)

What you’ll need:

  • A cod steak or filet
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Japanese mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs or panko
  • 1 tsp melted butter
  • Dash of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Sprinkling of paprika

How to make:

  • Preheat the oven to 220 degree Celsius. Place cod in a lightly greased pan or plate
  • Combine lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt and pepper in a bowl, and spread it over the cod
  • Sprinkle paprika on top of the mixture
  • Cover the surface with the breadcrumbs and then drizzle the melted butter over
  • Bake in oven for about 25 minutes
  • THAT’S IT!

Thomas Keller’s Favourite Simple Roast Chicken

We had some friends over for dinner on Christmas eve and while I was thrilled to be cooking up a storm in the kitchen, I was also aware that I wouldn’t be able to spend too much time there, thanks to the nugget. If I am up too long on my feet, the back starts to creak and the calves begin to protest.

Pfft! There goes all my idealistic notions of being mobile right to the day I deliver.

To keep things simple for myself, I decided to roast up a chicken since you can’t really go wrong with that. And since I have had my ad hoc at home cookbook for a while now and haven’t really been utilizing it, I decided that we would have a Thomas Keller meal for the evening.

But while surfing the net for the roast chicken recipe found in the book at work one day, I chanced upon another Thomas Keller recipe that was even more alluring: the chicken needed no marinating and would require only salt and pepper for its flavour.

Say what? Sold!

On the day itself, I let the chicken sit in the open for a good two hours before drying it thoroughly with paper towels. I then trussed the bird for the first time in my life. Yes, I is noob cook who thought trussing was difficult but it really wasn’t at all!

When the oven dinged and I took the bird out, I was impressed. For one, the colour of the chicken was simply perfect. Secondly, the meat fell off the bone oh so easily. And when we dug in, everyone was amazed that I had used nothing but salt and pepper because it tasted that awesome. The breast meat was juicy and tender while the skin was nicely crisp. I thought we would have enough leftovers for chicken sandwiches for the next week but it was devoured completely.

Absolutely a winner!

Thomas Keller’s Favourite Simple Roast Chicken

What you’ll need

  • 1.3kg farm-raised chicken
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp minced thyme (optional – I didn’t use it)
  • Unsalted butter to taste
  • Dijon mustard to taste (I didn’t use this either)

How to make:

Preheat the oven to 230 degree Celsius. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird.

Now, salt the chicken – try raining the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a saute pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone – I don’t baste it, I don’t add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip – until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be super elegant.

Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it’s so good.

Happy meal #34: Moist lemon cake

After months of not venturing into the kitchen – partly because the tyrannical Tiny Human was making me feel nauseous at EVERY SINGLE THING – I finally scratched that cooking/baking itch and made something.

I’ve forgotten how much fun it is to bake! Okay, so the washing up is a major PITA but it’s always so exciting when the warm smells waft out from the oven and your brains are going YUMMY YUMMY NOM NOM NOM. Plus, I love to use husband as my guinea pig and see his face go dinggggg when something tastes awfully nice.

Speaking of awful, I have come to realize that baking for me is not about making it look gorgeous. Unlike Rachel, Lady J and Sherie, I have neither the patience nor the ability to prettify my food and style it. Once I am done baking, I just want to eat it and then share it with others. In fact, it gives me joy to share my baking goodies with friends and family. It’s like therapy for me.

Maybe one day, I might fulfill my dream of opening up that cafe named Ugly Foods, where the cakes look a bit rough at the edges and the cupcakes have splotchy frosting. Hee.

Here’s the moist lemon cake that I baked over the Deepavali holiday. It combines two of my favorites: cake and lemon. And it’s super duper easy to make. What’s there not to love?

Easy Moist lemon cake
Adapted from Cakes (Page One)

What you’ll need:
CAKE

  • 225g all-purpose flour
  • 150g sugar (I used slightly less than that, about 125g)
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 90ml low fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

LEMON FROSTING

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice

How to make

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius. Lightly grease a 9-inch square pan (I used a round tin instead because I don’t have a square one)
  • To prepare the cake, beat the flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, lemon zest, baking powder and salt with an electric mixer at low speed until well blended. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until pale and thick, 3-4 minutes. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan
  • Bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack
  • To prepare the frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Beat in enough lemon juice to make a spreadable frosting. Spread the cake with the frosting and tuck in!

The ingredients used for the frosting is only half of that listed in the book. I decided to reduce it because based on past experience, using the full amount will yield me an extra portion of unhealthy frosting. Which I will then proceed to eat STRAIGHT. FROM. THE. BOWL.

(PS Doncha love my new cake stand! Been meaning to get one for the longest time and scored this beauty at the Robinson’s Expo Sale for merely $25. Yay! Oops. Did I just show off my aunty-ness?)

We love Loysel’s Toy

After months of inaction and lazing like pigs on weekends, we finally mustered up the energy to go explore our little red dot of a city and check out new places to hang out at.

This means that we finally got to have a cup of coffee at Loysel’s Toy!

Yes, months after everyone’s raved about it. We are a bit slow. What to do, this is what you get what you are dealing with old farts like us.

Anyway, the verdict is: we love that place! The coffee is excellent and none too pricey, the desserts are yummy, the little cafe is cosy and warm. The only problem is that it is ALWAYS full when we are there on Sunday afternoons. And because it is so COSY! and so WARM!, people tend to chill out there and not leave.

And because the caffeine fix is so brilliantly fragrant and smooth, I don’t think I can ever get myself a cup of Starbucks coffee again. Shudders.

Neither of us brought our cameras – silly cows – and so we shot with the best camera available: our iPhones.

Waiting for our coffee

Flat white at Loysel's Toy

Lemon tart at Loysel's Toy

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