Recipe: polenta quiche (or pie)

I remember my first experience with polenta was at Riders’ Cafe – I was having brunch with my ex-colleagues and the dish I ordered had polenta instead of hash. I loved it. It was soft and creamy and reminded me of mashed potatoes. It took me a long while before I researched on it and realized that I can make it at home too. Sadly, not everyone at home shares my love for mushy food (haha!). So one packet of polenta will last quite long.

I drew inspiration from a recipe I saw online, and winged it my way.

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Serves 3

  • 1/2 cup instant polenta
  • 1 3/4 cup stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 100g zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 150g fresh button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cubes frozen spinach, defrosted and drained of water
  • 3 tablespoons bacon bits
  • 3 eggs
  • herbs of your choice (I used basil and oregano)

In a pot, heat the stock to a boil and whisk in the polenta in a small, steady stream. Stir frequently to prevent lumps in the polenta. Reduce heat and stir till the polenta pulls away from the sides. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly and pour the polenta into a pie pan or brownie pan. Press the polenta slightly up the sides to form a crust. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees C for about 15-20 minutes.

In a hot frying pan, add in the bacon bits and render the fat out. When bacon is crisp, add in the onions and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add in zucchini, mushrooms and spinach. Add a pinch of salt and cook till the moisture has evaporated. Add herbs, salt & pepper to taste.

Place the vegetable mix into the polenta crust. Beat eggs and pour over the vegetables. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the egg has set.

Savings, rebates, investments, HUH??

Ever since we started planning for the wedding, I’ve been doing desk research for credit cards and saving accounts regularly. Things are so expensive in Singapore… every bit we save counts. I have not been reviewing my finances recently, ever since the wedding, because frankly, it takes up quite a bit of time and effort to really go into details. Joyce asked me for advice last night for “good credit cards for young married couples”, and so I decided to check out and compare what credit cards are available now.

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Staycation @ The Scarlet Hotel

Do you get excited over staycations? I know I do! Of course, I would love myself a full-blown holiday, but staycations ain’t half bad when I’m strapped for time and cash. We got a 3 day weekend a couple of weekends ago, and I was desperate to have a ‘holiday’ with ZH but we couldn’t go anywhere because our passports was at the embassy, pending visa application. And anyway, ZH was in ICT until the day before the long weekend. I planned a surprise staycation for him while he was away. I started by planning the meals, then the hotels around the meals. Heh. What’s new from me right? I wanted a Korean dinner on Saturday, so I planned to have dinner at Chinatown, and then hop over to The Scarlet Hotel. TSH is also near my German school, so it was great for me because I can check in after class, and head home to pretend like we are only going out for dinner later (no overnight bags)! IMG_8423
I read from some online reviews that this back scratcher is for yours to keep?? I’m not sure, but I didn’t take it. This tantalizing ‘toy’ is part of the boudoir decor that TSH has used for the hotel. Sexy… for some. A back scratcher just reminds me of my ah ma. LOL~ I booked us a premium room (because I wanted a bathtub). I checked in a little earlier (around 1.30pm because it only took me 5 minutes to walk over from class) and my original room on the 2nd level was not ready yet, so the front desk arranged me another room on the ground level. “a room with skylight” I was told.

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Upon entering, I was awed by it. It didn’t have any view to boast of, in fact the sky light was small (look near the curtain – that little bright space on the top), but it was fine. The room was warm and inviting, the decorations suited the theme of the hotel. Very nice. So many hotels nowadays have the same modern theme, so this was a nice change. The furniture were also well maintained, no holes in the chair, no stains on the carpet etc.

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The washroom was bright and spacious, bathtub separated from the shower stall. The hotel had thoughtfully included a bag of bath salts for us to enjoy.

So after dinner at Jang Won, I lied to the husband, saying that I heard of a nice dessert shop behind Chinatown, slowly leading him to Erskine Road. By chance, we came across Tong Heng and so we bought 2 egg tarts ‘for breakfast tomorrow’. Then as we approached TSH, he asked “are you sure? This is a hotel leh… are you sure there’s dessert??” I told him that the dessert shop is within the hotel, and led him inside. Our room was on the ground level, and also towards the hotel gym (called Flaunt), which he thought was the name of the dessert shop. HAHA! He was a little bewildered when I suddenly took out my key card to open one of the room doors. Like HUH? LOL~ Surprise!

Though we were in Chinatown, we didn’t really do much outside the room, choosing to bond over TV (CSI Season 15!) since he was away in camp for a week. *we are both really sad that Nick Stokes is leaving the team… Why… *

Recipe: otah seafood pasta

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I ‘created’ this dish because I was craving for some spicy otah, but I didn’t want to go through the hassle of cooking a Chinese meal (rice, vegetables, meat, soup). Google is always my best friend when it comes to situations like this, and I freestyled a recipe I found online and added my own twist. I added tofu into the recipe as it makes the sauce creamy and mellows out the spice.

Serves 6

  • 2 packs frozen otah, defrosted (each pack is 180g)
  • 200g squid, skinned and sliced into rings
  • 200g large grey prawns, deshelled
  • 1 pack pasta (of your choice)
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pack soft tofu, drained
  • 1 clove garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • laksa leaves for garnish, shredded (optional)

In a large pot, boil water and add salt and some olive oil. Cook pasta as instructed on the pack.

Separately, blend tofu, 1 clove of garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil until smooth.

In a frying pan over low heat, add some olive oil and saute the otah till fragrant. Add 2 teaspoon minced garlic, squid and prawns and cook through. Stir in the blended tofu and heat through. Add salt & pepper to taste.

To serve, plate up the pasta, and add 2 scoops of sauce and seafood. Garnish with laksa leaves if desired. (I didn’t have laksa leaves on hand, so I used spring onion in my picture).

If you like spicy food, seafood, and Asian flavors, be sure to give the recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Recipe: okara ‘potato’ salad

I’m really excited to share this recipe because 1) it’s low carb, 2) it tastes really good, 3) it’s sustainable (in a way).

I found a recipe for okara ‘potato’ salad and made it my way. The end product was a light salad, that really resembled Japanese potato salad.
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Serves 1 as a main, or 3 as appetizers

  • 1.5 cup okara
  • 1 cup diced vegetables of your choice* (I try to go for vegetables with some crunch to increase the textures)
  • Ham or sausage meat (optional)
  • 3 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise**
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • White pepper to taste

Gently cook the okara in a pan over medium heat to take out the moisture, about 5 minutes. Put the okara out in a flat tray (or big bowl) to cool it down.

Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. If they need to be cooked (for example, carrots and asparagus), boil them till soft but not mushy. If they’re hardy vegetables such as cucumbers and onions, pickle them slightly by adding salt to extract the water content (and thus making the vegetables even crunchier/crispier). Once the vegetables are done, add them to the cooled okara.

If you’re using ham, dice it to the same bite-sized pieces as your vegetables. Or if you’re using sausage meat, dry-fry them and break them up into smaller pieces. Add to the okara/veggie mix.

Add in the Japanese mayo, salt and pepper to taste. Mix it up really well. If the mixture is a little dry, you may add in a bit more mayonnaise, or some (soy) milk to moisten it a little. The final salad should resemble a Japanese potato salad but a little fluffier/lighter than the original version.

*You can use any vegetables you like/have in your pantry! I would use carrots, cucumbers, corn, asparagus, (a bit of) green onions, onions. Though not a vegetable, I sometimes add a chopped boiled egg into the salad as well.

**Japanese mayonnaise is key to the final taste of the product. Normal Western mayonnaise does not have the tangy-ness of Japanese versions.

What is okara?

I recently posted a recipe for okara ‘potato’ salad, and some of you may wonder what is okara. To put it in simple words, it’s the soybean pulp that remains after you have extracted soymilk. Okara contains a lot of fibre and protein, and it can actually be eaten.

When I make soy milk at home, I’m often left with the soybean pulp. Sometimes, I mix the pulp with minced meat to make lighter and healthier meat patties, but when you use 1 cup of soybeans, you have A LOT of pulp leftover. I usually throw it away because it’s just too much. I wanted to be more sustainable and reduce the amount of food waste I generate, so I scoured the internet for ideas.

Below you will find my contribution for okara recipes.

Okara potato salad