I know that I have not been particularly prompt with updates ever since I started work (come 1 August it would be the start of my 2nd year working) but do catch me on my instagram (@unpastiche) if you have not already done so. I post quite regularly there, mostly of my daily food-scapades as well as my weekly bakes.
For those who don’t follow me on instagram, well, here’s an update of what I’ve been doing lately. I guess I’ve been embracing the motto “YOLO” quite a bit recently. YOLO, if you don’t already know, means “you only live once”. And I do believe I have pushing and going beyond my perceived boundaries. How so? Well, I’m not much of a cook, as you probably have gathered based on the posts on this blog. My mom cooks, and since my mom is such a brilliant cook, I hardly ever need to cook food for myself, unless it’s something new and exotic which my mom isn’t too keen to try. Take for instance the baked eggs and wholewheat naan I made for the family the weekend ago.
So, I must say it was quite daring of me to sign up for a cooking competition, and not just any cooking competition but one that was organized by Appetite Singapore. I was pretty sure that competition would have been stiff as only foodies would read Appetite. We had to be in teams of two, but my mom was not too keen to participate because of her ‘cowardliness’ (she gets nervous when in novel situations), so I dragged about my bestest bud, who again like me, is not much of a cook. We were informed that the competition was very much like a Masterchef mystery box challenge, where you get a cut of meat and some ingredients to cook with, which scared the beejeezus out of me. The day before the competition, I read up on recipes involving beef and chicken, thinking that pork wouldn’t be the meat because of muslim participants, if any. Well, who knew, the meat WAS pork and there were no Muslim participants. We got a difficult cut in my opinion, pork loin with prime ribs, and we had to make use of both parts. I have only cooked with a few parts of pork – the neck or belly or wuhua part for char siew, and pork chops for well, pork chops. Furthermore, the choice of ingredients weren’t too great – we only had the usual dried herbs, salt & pepper, white wine vinegar and red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white/red wine, eggs, honey, sugar, butter and cream, together with garlic and shallots. But what they were missing in my opinion, was important stuff like soy sauce and chili flakes (or sauce). Actually on listing the ingredients, it does seem like a lot. But it’s not trust me.
My friend and I decided to make a herb-crusted pork ribs together with herbed pork medallions. For our side dish (which was compulsory), we decided to make a creamy polenta. There were several options – there were potatoes, arborio rice, polenta, couscous, spaghetti and rice, but since there were no mushrooms and I didn’t think pork went well with risotto, we decided on polenta. I must say that there were some delicious sides made by the other participants which I was impressed by – someone made pavlova and sprinkled it with rosemary. This might seem odd but the flavours went pretty well together! There was also a basil fried rice which was delicious.
Onto our own dish, the pork medallions were a major fail because we had no cooking string, and we instead used toothpicks but the pork completely burst out of its thin seams. The herb-crusted pork ribs were pretty good, but the judges commented on the “needles” – the thyme needles which, due to our inexperience, we did not mince into finer pieces. So lesson learnt, remember to mince up your herbs fine and nice! I must applaud myself however, for getting the pork ribs cooked and seasoned well. I saw that 2 other teams who had the same pork part as us did not manage to cook their ribs well enough – the insides were pink which is a major no-no for pork because pork, unlike beef, should be completely cooked. The winning recipe was a siew yoke (roasted pork belly), which I figured I would have done if I had gotten pork belly (hrmph) and the second prize went to a pair making pork chops with crumbed polenta.
Our polenta was also our saving grace. The judges commented that the polenta was smooth and yummy (yay!) and although I would have loved adding parmesan and mushrooms to it, I didn’t have any. I basically used chicken stock and water, together with a splash of wine, and thereafter lots of cream and butter. On hindsight, instead of just making a balsamic sauce for the pork medallions, I think we should have made a balsamic coated pork rib with loin, a recipe which I had tried earlier in Australia and which I thought was really delicious. WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT? I guess I was too distracted by the herbs to think of anything else. Well, at least they didn’t make us cook pork trotters or chicken feet, recipes which I had actually asked my mom to briefly teach me the night before for fear that they would challenge us with difficult parts to cook.
So all in all, it was a wonderful experience and even though we didn’t win, my friend and I agreed that this took our friendship to a whole different level and we might just be ready for Amazing Race in the future! Heh. Sorry the photo looks really ugly. We definitely need to work on our plating skills =X
The next YOLO event / thing I am attempting is my own baking demonstration this coming weekend! For those of you who live in the East or those of who who are keen to score cheap deals from Mayer, do hop on by to the Expo from Friday to Sunday (12-14 July 2013). I will be demonstrating how to make my winning (rather, 3rd place winning) tart crusts using the Kitchenaid multi food processor. There will be several hands-on workshops, as you can see from the flyer above.
I am told that Kitchenaid Artisan Mixers will be sold at a great discount during the event (it typically retails at $988 and this is basically a controlled price everywhere in Singapore if there is no sale), and what I think is the best deal is that the KitchenAid Professional Mixer (ie the huge ass Kitchenaid that comes only in 2 colours), will be sold at a HUGE discount of $799 as long as you participate in the hands-on workshop. Is that a great deal or what? I reckon if you do lots of heavy duty baking, you should definitely get your hands on the professional mixer.
There are also other attractive promotions, but I’m not too sure what they are, so you gotta head down to Expo. Please drop by to say hi to me if you do attend alright! I will be making a bunch of tarts (and yes you can try and eat and give me criticism) from about 10am to noon. I will probably be making fruit tartlets (a la Delifrance), passionfruit tartlets with the optional meringue topping, as well as chocolate tarts with optional caramel innards. I might also try to demo the blueberry cream cheese tarts or some other recipes if I have the time. There will be lots to try, so do pop by for a free sample! All these recipes are found on my blog btw. Just key in “tartlets” in the search box on the top right corner and you will get them. If not, I will be posting them on the blog soon :]
The second prize winner Lorraine, will be demonstrating how to make her apple cake! By the end in case you are wondering, I am not being paid for this demonstration (although I am given a tiny budget to pay for my ingredients), but who can boast that they have done a baking demonstration before a live audience? Well, I can after this weekend! =D
So that basically sums up the two most YOLO things I’m attempting this month – all in the space of 2 weeks! I did try out other less daring things, like going on the Atkins diet to eliminate wheat, sugar and other bad stuff from my diet (short-lived as it might be), and make my own bran flakes (like corn flakes but made with bran), but those are stories for another day :]