Thursday, January 31, 2013

Goodbye Extra Virgin Chef, Hello Kerby!

Hi Friends,

When I started this blog 330 posts ago, I never imagined it would be so fulfilling and nourishing. Extra Virgin Chef not only gave me a platform to share my culinary learning journey and rock the boats for some hesitant career switchers, but also connected me with people from more than 50 countries. Plus, childhood friends, ex-colleagues and acquaintances - reconnected through food. How wonderful is that.

But it's time to close this particular chapter now. No, I'm not disappearing. In fact, I'm about to embark on my most ambitious project ever, and it needs my focus, time and energy. Are you ready to hear what it is? 

I am building Asia's first gourmet food truck with a heart. Yes, a food truck, fully equipped like a professional commercial kitchen set-up. 

We will register it as a social enterprise to fulfil its aspiration to feed the hungry and underprivileged. Head on down to our newly constructed (read: work-in-progress) website to read all about Kerby. Get into social conversations through facebook, and track the truck here in twitter when Kerby hits the streets of Singapore in the first quarter of 2013. 

Thanks everyone for your support of my little blog over the past two years. This has got to be one of my personal favourite projects and I will leave it up here so it can continue to be a resource for anyone who wants to cross the kitchen chasm. 

Catch you by the kerbside and if you see my truck plying the streets, remember to wave a big hello!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Banana Bread - My Go-to Recipe now

Photo credit to my friend CP
If you've been following my blog, you may know I've been silent for a while. There was a particular day when I couldn't hold back my enthusiasm and did reveal I had something up my sleeve. Well, I really can't wait to tell you more. My new business idea has kept me very busy the past 2 months. I feel like starting an Extra Virgin Entrepreneur page as I have so much to share!

Anyway, so many of you asked about my banana bread post on my facebook page and I'm so sorry I took so long to get back to you but here it is finally! I have tested this simple recipe numerous times now and it is definitely my go-to recipe for moist, fluffy banana bread. My sister who is fussy about how she likes her banana bread, said, Finally, you got it right!

Adapted from my new friend CP

220g all-purpose flour
110g castor sugar (original 150g)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
115g, unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 overripe large bananas, mashed (original 3 bananas. The more overripe, the sweeter - which is why I could cut down the sugar)
1 vanilla pod (or you can use 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
1 cup of Nuts, assorted and toasted (almond flakes, pine, whatever you fancy, even raisins and cranberry and chocolate chips!)

Garnish: a few slices of banana on top of batter


1. Preheat oven to 160C (you have to test your own oven performance. If you find the top browning or burning too quickly while the rest is still uncooked, reduce the temperature)
2. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9x3 inch loaf pan. (Mine didn't exactly measure up but it's fine. I've since tried different shapes and sizes for variety and it's been fun!)
3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Set aside.
4. In a medium size bowl, combine the wet ingredients - mashed bananas, lightly beaten eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. Don't overmix or you will lose the fluffiness. 
5. Scrape the batter into prepared pan and place slices of banana on top for garnish (optional). 
6. Bake till golden brown and a stick inserted into the bread comes out clean, about 60 minutes. 
7. Place on a wire rack to cool, then remove bread from the pan. 
8. It's lovely served warm. If you intend to serve it on another day, let it cool completely then double cling-wrap tightly to preserve moisture. 

Very simple - so please do try it. Your family members will certainly benefit from your effort! Have fun monkeying around.

See my very first attempt at banana bread some 2 years back.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fast food versus slow food, or convenience versus flavour

For fast-acting relief, try slowing down!
In this day and age of rushing from one place to another, and never having enough time to finish everything you set out to do, there is little room left for slow-cooked food. You do know that slow food is healthier than fast food? You may want to read about the Slow Food Movement started as a resistance to a McDonald's opening, and which aim to educate consumers on the risks of fast food.

Fast food can never taste as good as slow food. Is convenience preferred over flavour? Sometimes. But not always. I looked back at some of the slowest food I've done in this blog and would like to share it with you here.

My personal record is a slow, slow cooked beef cheeks that took 72 hours. Yes, 3 full days. This blogpost was also featured on Asian Food Channel Official Facebook Page.

Coming in second place is my take on Heston Blumenthal's 36-hour Sous Vide Pork Belly. This has now become my most popular post since it keeps popping up on Google search page. By the way, you know that animal fat is good for you, right?!

In third place is a non-sous vide recipe of Duck Leg Confit, which requires a 24-36 hour overnight marinade, followed by a 2-2.5 hour slow bake in the oven, and finished off with a 5-minute pan sear for crispy skin.

Too much of a hassle, and just no time and patience to make these slow food? Look out for the next post on healthy fast food whipped up in minutes!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Perfect Egg - Sous Vide Eggs!

Picture-perfect of a sous-vide egg - 45 minutes at precisely 64.5 degrees Celsius. In this state, the egg white denatures and unfolds to form a custardy-like texture, while the yolk forms a tender gel. Photo credit to my friend Jude who recently succumbed to sous vide.

Amazing how clean the shells are when I broke the SV egg.

I did wonder, why bother to spend 45 minutes on something that's gobbled up in 45 seconds. But I found SV addictive and in fact can't wait to get my hands on another batch. There are hardcore SV food bloggers who SV one whole batch of eggs for the week and simply warm them up every morning for breakfast.

See how you can do this at home without a SV machine.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Duck Leg Confit Salad

It took 5 whole minutes to put this together -

3 minutes to pan fry the duck legs (left at room temperature for about 30 minutes from the fridge)
1 minute to prepare the salad dressing
30 secs to segment the orange
30 secs to shred the duck legs and plate up

The duck leg confit that I have been 'confitting' the past 10 weeks met with its destiny on my dinner table tonight. Here's how I prepared it.

I love food with bright colours on the dinner plate, and I stare rudely at them for a long time.

Salad dressing recipe (I liked it but hubster found it too sweet)

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle of coarsely crushed olives
Sprinkle of citrus dust
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper