Thursday, February 23, 2012

My little garden

I have been growing plants at home for a while now. It started with just a pot of Dracena at the balcony. Over time, I added few other hardy plants in the restrooms and starting this year, I started my little herbs corner.

Some of the herbs were given by CJ and the rest I started them from seeds bought from the nursery but it was not so easy for the seeds to germinate.

An interesting plant at my balcony is the water pennywort. In some part of the world, this is considered aquatic weed and in some others they are used as herbs or even salad leaves. Its growth rate is amazing and lately I have to remove most of it and gave them away.

Everyday morning before getting out of the house and evening after work, I will be at my mini garden watering and appreciating the plants and their growth, fertilizing them every other week. I used to think that gardening is one of those hobbies for the old age, maybe age is really catching up with me.


A profusion of leaves and stems - characteristic of water pennyworts

My little herb garden experiment

The pot of rosemary bought from the nursery has been a constant source of herb for my cooking lately

On the Left: The original Dracena and the Frangipani branch from CJ

The hardy pots in the restroom

Monday, February 20, 2012

14 hours Sous Vide Oxtail

I like beef stew. The slow cooking will reward you with a rich, unctuous dish that's full of deep flavour. The most common cuts of beef sold as stewing steak include chuck, skirt, leg and flank – all hardworking muscles that are tough and need long, slow cooking. For this stew dish, I used the gelatinous oxtail for its collagen and marrow.

I found this interesting recipe from the British Larder site using sous vide method instead of the traditional stewing over stove or slow cooker. You can sous vide and keep the cooked meat in the fridge for days. On the actual day, preparation and cooking time will be just 30 minutes. Neat, easy and tasty.


Sous Vide Oxtail

2 kg oxtail, cut in pieces
8 whole onions
1 whole bulb of garlic
150g Sugar
500ml white wine
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C and preheat the water bath to 82°C.

Wash the whole onions and garlic; do not peel. Place them on a lined baking tray in the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Remove the garlic and return the onions for a further 35 minutes.

Let the onions cool for 15 minutes before squeezing the roasted garlic pulp and onion pulp from the skins in to a small saucepan.

Add the sugar, wine and seasoning to the roasted onion and garlic pulp.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, puree the onions until smooth. Let the onion puree cool.

Place the oxtail and the cold onion puree in a vacuum bag, seal on full vacuum.

Place the bag in the preheated water bath and cook for 14hours.

Once the oxtail is cooked remove the oxtail from the vacuum pouch, pass the liquid through a sieve and set aside, once it cooled it will set in to a jelly.

Flake the meat from the bones while still warm, remove as much of the fat as possible, and set aside (Or pack and seal the meat in vacuum bags and keep in fridge if you are not serving on the same day).

 Roasting the onions and garlic in the oven gives the dish a full rounded flavour packed with natural sweetness

With a gentle squeeze, the garlic pulp and onion pulp come off easily from the skins after roasting in oven 

Add wine and the seasoning.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes

Puree the onions until smooth and let it cool

Fresh Oxtail

Place the oxtail and the cold onion puree in vacuum bags, seal on full vacuum. Sous Vide for 14 hours.

Flake the meat from the bones while still warm, remove as much of the fat as possible


50g unsalted butter
1 onion sliced
salt and pepper
6 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
3 potatoes, peeled and cut in 2cm dice
Cooking liquid from the oxtail
Cooled flaked oxtail meat


In a large saucepan melt the butter and sauté the onions with seasoning, cloves and the bay leaf until golden.

Add the diced potato and sauté for a further two minutes until the potato starts to brown.

Add the flaked oxtail and the cooking jelly.

Turn to a gentle simmer, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bacon wrapped Cream Cheese Roll

This is an extremely easy recipe and very popular at parties as finger food and snacks. I made this to go with the sous vide egg for the recent Valentine's dinner.


3 slices white square sandwich bread
1/2 tub cream cheese
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary chopped (or any fresh herbs)
6 slices bacon


Mix and blend well the cream cheese, garlic, herbs and pepper together.

Cut the crusts off the bread, and spread each slice generously and evenly with cream cheese.

Roll up each slice of bread and cut each roll into 2. Wrap each roll with a slice of bacon.

Bake at 190 Degree Celsius for 15-20 minutes until the bacon is crisp. Drain on paper towels for about 5 minutes to cool a bit, and serve.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day Dinner

Wife and I do not have the tradition of celebrating Valentine's Day since our courtship days. We do not buy each other gifts or eat out at fanciful restaurants. To us, love can be celebrated everyday. Valentine's Day is just another gimmick and opportunity for florists, retailers and restaurants to rip off innocent loving couples.

Maybe I am not a romantic. Maybe not.

I took leave this Valentine's Day to prepare a simple 3-course dinner for wife and the kids. No gift exchanges or big surprises but we had a wonderful evening with Daddy's dinner, Mummy's music and the wine. This shall be our tradition going forward.

63-degree egg with truffle oil served with bacon and herbal cream cheese roll

14-hours sous vide Oxtail

Pear tartin

Our very own Restaurant 2706

Wine pairing - Trimbach Gewurztraminer for the starter

The oxtail was paired with Two Hands Shiraz from Barossa Valley

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thai Themed Party @ 1ETL

Absolutely Thai styled dishes served in a cosy setting with sumptuous interior. No, I am not talking about having a fine Thai dining experience at Jim Thomson @ Dempsey Hill heritage venue but our latest gathering at CJ and Jazz's cozy home at 1-ETL.

The wine-kakis met up last Sunday for a Thai-themed potluck lunch. Sunday afternoon seems to be a better time slot now for most of the families as the kids have lesser or no classes. We can have a long wine session and still have the night to "recover" before working week starts the next day.

Good food and nice wine on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I like.

Thai Pomelo Salad - My contribution

Jazz's Roast Duck Red Curry

My 2nd contribution - Prawn Vermicelli Claypot 

Eeleen's Crispy Rice Cracker with Prawn/Pork Topping

Tom Yum Goong, also by Eeleen

The wine for the afternoon in order (L to R):
Siblings Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Leeuwin Estate, Australia, 2010,
Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah,  Colchagua Valley, Chile, 2008,
First Press Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA, 2009,
Fifth Leg Shiraz Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Australia, 2008
Zagara Moscato d'Asti, Barolo, Italia

Open Door Policy @ Tiong Bahru

Wife grew up in the Tiong Bahru area. We love the hawker food at the famous Tiong Bahru Market food center, its close proximity to town and amenities and most importantly the old-world charm and serenity of the area.

Few years ago, we moved here to be near to the kids' school in addition to all the reasons stated above. During this period, we had witnessed an influx of designer home offices, creative small businesses and retail outfits with artsy facades in the area.

One of them is ODP (Open Door Policy). The latest bistro concept aims to offer great food, gourmet coffee & unique wines with an institution like ambience in the nostalgic neighborhood of Tiong Bahru.

I have heard great reviews about the new joint but never got the chance to check it out although we are just a stone's throw away from the restaurant. We decided to give the restaurant a try last Saturday evening and were pleasantly surprised to get a table for the family without any reservation although we were told to finish our dinner by 815pm for another reservation.

The staff was friendly and the service was prompt, too prompt - the food was served minutes after we placed our order. Maybe it has a very efficient team in the kitchen but it gave me the feeling that we were rushed to finish our meal for the next reservation.

Food quality was good (except the chicken wings which I thought was very average) but the serving portion was small. It was like paying for starters at main courses price. We finished the dinner within an hour and left half-hungry.

Will I return? Probably but not in the near future.

Open Door Policy

19 Yong Siak Street
(Yong Siak View)
Singapore 168650

Tel: +65 6221 9307

Operating Hours:

Lunch: 12 to 3:30pm
(last order 3pm)

Dinner: 6pm to 11pm
(last order 10:30pm)

Brunch: 11am to 3pm
(Saturday and Sunday only)

Closed on Tuesdays

Fri and Sat – bar open till
12 midnight.

Long narrow dining hall with interesting wooden and laid-back interior

Crispy chicken wings with curry, yoghurt, and cucumber salad

48 hour cooked braised beef cheek with mochi potatoes, carrot puree and snow pea tendrils

Roast pork belly with black chorizo cassoulet

Wild mushroom risotto with truffle crumbs

Chocolate and pistachio souffle, cream anglaise

I like the Latte - Strong, thick with a long finish.

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