Saturday, July 30, 2005

Recipe: Mango and Green Tea Sorbet

IMBB #17: Mango and Green Tea Sorbet

Top View

When I learned that A La Cuisine! was hosting this month's IMBB and that the theme was TasteTea, I certainly had my doubts, because a la cuisine! is one of the most formidably beautiful food blogs around, and because I had no idea what to make with tea.

Inspiration came, however, in a recent episode of The Naked Chef in which Jamie Oliver made a passion fruit sorbet. A quick Google turned up some recipes for Mango and Green Tea sorbet, which sounded interesting enough to reproduce.

Ingredients (Serves 6 - 8)
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup green tea leaves (7 tea bags)
1 mango
Juice of 1 lemon

Mango Tea Sorbet Meez

If you're using a ripe, sweet mango, perhaps the amount of sugar used could be reduced slightly, but otherwise this recipe works just fine.

Steeping Tea

Dump the tea leaves and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. If you ask me, it's a lot easier to boil the water first, but all the recipes seemed adamant that the tea leaves and water had to boil together.


It's really not much to look at, being a rather putrid shade of green. Thankfully you won't be using it as is.

Strained Tea

Strain the tea into a separate saucepan/container containing the sugar. Be sure to use a fine sieve, as those little tea leaves have a habit of slipping through the coarser ones. The heat of the tea should be sufficient to dissolve the sugar with a little stirring.

Allow the tea to cool to about room temperature by either leaving it out on the open or using an ice bath. While the tea is cooling, prepare the mango puree thusly.


Scoop the flesh from the mango and place it in a blender/food processor. Be sure to get as much from it as possible.

Mango Blended

Puree the mango till you get a mango paste. If you think this is messy, wait till you see what comes next.

Mango Tea Blended

Pour the cooled tea into the blender and blend along with the mango puree, till you get something that resembles a mango shake.

Sorbet 1

Pour the liquid into a suitable dish and freeze for a few hours. Depending on how much you're making, freeze the sorbet and check back in 1 - 3 hours. It should just have set and should be semi-frozen, semi-liquid.

Sorbet 3

Stick a fork into it - most of the sorbet should be frozen, but the bottom will probably still be liquid. There should be enough air in the sorbet to prevent it from becoming a total block of ice. The idea now is to introduce even more air, so that the sorbet refreezes smoothly and evenly, and the end result should be soft and airy.

Sorbet 4

Just mash up the sorbet with the fork, reaching all corners of the dish and breaking up any ice lumps. The sorbet should be all slushy by the time you're through with it. Now, simply refreeze and take it out to enjoy once frozen.

Sorbet Shot

Use a melon scoop to scoop out the sorbet and serve it in dainty glasses as an intermezzo or dessert. Lovely.

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Review: No Signboard Seafood

My boss (technically, ex-boss now that I've switched sections) was nice enough to buy us dinner yesterday. The venue? The charmingly-named No Signboard Seafood restaurant, which is just slightly pretentious enough to qualify an entry here.

Don't knock me about if this review isn't very good because a) I was sick, so I couldn't fully appreciate the food; b) I didn't pay so I don't know how much dishes cost; and c) I'm not much of a seafood person.

Location, location, location. You just can't run away from it. There's no escaping the fact that the restaurant is in Geylang. So if you don't drive, and you're not a nightstalker, you might want to seriously reconsider your options.

About ambience - there's just no point going to a seafood place if it's upmarket. It's got to be rowdy, at least partially open air, with few to no frills. It's all part of the experience. Luckily No Signboard fulfills all the above requirements, plus it's got no signboard. What more could you ask for?

The service here is only good when they're not crowded. Once the place reaches critical mass though, waiters and waitresses are swamped with work and you can't even get your glass refilled.

No Signboard

So this is what you see when you walk into the restaurant itself. As you can plainly observe, it has no signboard.

Smiley Guy

This guy must've thought I was taking a picture of him. No Signboard is quite big; this shot was taken from inside the air-conditioned area, which seats about forty people, and the outdoors area can probably accommodate two to three times that number.

Lobster Salad

Our first dish was a lobster salad, which involved assorted starters. They were mostly of the spring roll variety, a savoury meat filling coated in different batters and fried.

Deep Fried Prawns

Next we had a dish of deep fried prawns. The prawns were deep fried with some sort of oats or cereal till they were crispy enough to eat, shells and all. Eating the shells still proved to be somewhat unpleasant, though.

Abalone Vegetables

We had a vegetable course too, since vegetables keep you healthy. Oyster sauce and abalone accompanied this dish, and it doesn't get more chinese than this.

Hot Plate

We were served a hot plate of assorted vegetables and something that looked like sea fungus or sea cucumber. I have a policy of not eating things unless I know what they are, so I didn't try this.

Hokkien Noodles

I think these are Hokkien Noodles, but of the rather spicy variety. And when I say rather spicy, I mean pretty freaking hot. My throat and respiratory system were giving me trouble, and I limited myself to a small bowl of the stuff.


You can't go to a seafood restaurant and not have fish, so our fish course arrived in the form of a steamed fish. The restaurant steams its fish four different ways (Hokkien, Teochew, Hong Kong and Bean Paste), and I've no idea what style this was. I'm not much of a fish person anyway.

Chilli Crab

Of course, no one actually goes to a seafood place for just its fish and prawns. A seafood place is all about crabs. Not just any crab either, because any seafood restaurant worth its salt (no pun intended) lives and dies by its chilli crab. As it's a speciality here, the crab really was quite good, but the one thing that detracted greatly from the experience was that instead of giving us the traditional mantou, or fried Chinese buns, No Signboard instead provided little squares of white bread. That's kind of like having really great sex with a paraplegic.

Crab 2

We didn't have just one crab, we also had a ginger and spring onion crab, which, interesting as it sounded, I didn't have, because I was really starting to feel ill by the end of the meal.


The good thing about No Signboard is that they're very efficient about the food. You can see here that at any given time, the lazy susan is full of dishes.

Food Gone

You can also see here that at any given time, food placed in front of a bunch of hungry army boys isn't going to last very long.


No Signboard is incredibly popular, so if you're planning on going there, it's probably a good idea to go very early, or to make a reservation.

No Signboard Seafood (Casual, Seafood)
414 Geylang Road
Tel: 6842 3415
Open 3pm - 2am
Location: 1/5
Service: 2/5
Ambience: 3.5/5
Food: 3.5/5
Overall: If you really like seafood

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Recipe: Sauce Duxelles

It has been said that one of the great triumphs of French cuisine is the sauces. There is a huge variety of sauces to accompany just about any dish. The problem with authentic French sauces, though, is that they are not exactly the easiest things to make. Not only do they require lots of wine and stock, occasionally they need rather specialised ingredients like truffles, port and milk. Okay, so milk isn't specialised, but who has so much milk to spare!

Anyway, I decided to try a different sauce for the Roast Rack of Lamb; instead of a red wine sauce, I'd try a Sauce Duxelles, or mushroom sauce. Once again, it's Julia to the rescue.


1 cup finely miced fresh mushrooms
2 Tb shallots or green onions
1 Tb butter
1/2 Tb oil
1/2 cup dry white wine or 1/3 cup dry white vermouth
1½ brown sauce (or brown stock)
1½ tomato paste
1 to 3 Tb softened butter


Instead of white wine, I decided to use Verjuice, this rather strange non-alcoholic white wine. I mean, isn't that grape juice? Anyway, I was intrigued by EatzyBitzy's use of it, so I thought I'd give it a try.


Saute the mushrooms with the shallots or onions in the hot butter and oil for 4 to 5 minutes. The mushrooms should produce copious amounts of fluids.

House Pour

Add the wine, or verjuice, as the case may be.

Bubble bubble

Boil down rapidly until the wine has almost reduced completely. I believe the idea of this is to boil off the alcohol, leaving the residual taste of the wine, but with verjuice, what are you boiling off?

Brown sauce

Stir in the brown sauce and tomato paste and simmer for 5 minutes. Correct seasoning. The sauce is likely to be rather salty, so you'll need to be liberal with the sugar. If you're using stock rather than sauce, you'll need to simmer it for much longer than 5 minutes, but the downside is that then it really gets salty.

Sauce Duxelles

This is what I landed up with eventually. A good sauce, but I'm not sure if using Verjuice made any difference.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Review: CafeBiz

We were supposed to go to the Chocolate Buffet at the Esplanade on Friday, since none of us had ever been there and we were all craving chocolate (at least, I was), but unfortunately it turned out to be fully booked. So resourceful Keith managed to find us a reservation at CafeBiz at Traders' Hotel, where apparently they have a chocolate fountain, in addition to a buffet dinner ($42).


CafeBiz is a pretty relaxing place to eat, especially if you get to sit next to the waterfall. The layout is like most buffets; with different stations serving different types of food, from Chinese to Western. Lighting and arrangement is used to good effect though, everything looks very ergonomic, even the palette-shaped plates that are cunningly hidden beneath the stations.

Twilight Zone

Talk about ambience. The funky violet light behind the bar counter changes colour ever few minutes. Good thing the light's pretty muted, so the effect works well, else the place'd look like a disco.

I'm too lazy to blog about each counter in detail, so I'll just be posting pictures with short commentaries.

Salad Bar

Bread Bar

The salads and breads are placed together in one bar. There wasn't much I really liked here, as I'm not much of a salad person. I did try the tomato and mozarella salad, but that didn't really do it for me.

Sushi Bar

And here we see the sushi and crustacean bar. Funnily enough, I'm not a sushi or crustacean fan either, so the only thing I had from here was the California Maki, which Keith scoffed at.


Now this was undoubtedly the oddest station in the buffet. Initially I thought it was a satay bar, but it turned out to be lots of raw food skewered together. What the hell, I thought. This must violate at least five AVA regulations right there.


As it turns out, right next door was this station with lots of vats of boiling water, for the sole purpose of boiling the bejeezus out of your skewered meats. So basically, your meat goes from this:

Red Meat

To this:

Cooked Meat

Unfortunately, this steamboat method does seem to result in rather bland food. Even the sauces they provided didn't do much to improve the taste. Strangely enough they give you satay sauce even though there aren't any satays.

It's beginning to sound like there isn't much that's good to eat, which is unfortunately the case at most buffets. CafeBiz has spread itself too thinly, and most of the food has stayed out for too long, leaving them somewhat less than fresh.

Indian food

What was good was the Indian food. The garlic naan, vegetable dhal and tandoori chicken were pretty wholesome, and prepared on the spot, which certainly helped, but in entirely too small portions.


What really took the cake, pun intended, was the dessert bar. Not only was the presentation fantastic (just look at all those petit fours on those chinese spoons!), some of the stuff was really very good. The mousses, in particular, were delectable. The white chocolate mousse was absolutely smashing, and I'm definitely making it my dessert when I next cook.

The chocolate fountain was pretty good as well, but somewhat wasted on the cheap fruits they served. It's surprising how much difference an unripe strawberry makes to chocolate.

In terms of location, Trader's Hotel is right on the outskirts of Orchard Road, so there shouldn't be any problems getting there.

Service doesn't really come into play, since it is, after all, a buffet.

CafeBiz (Buffet)
1A Cuscaden Road
Tel: 6381 4374
Location: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 4.5/5
Food: 2.5/5
Overall: It's a buffet, after all

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Recipe: Pork Stew

Busy busy busy. I have been busy. The problem with having a car and being able to drive is that you suddenly find many more things to do, and consequently you find that much of your time is not your own, paradoxical though that may be.

I've been so busy I've even had to miss the recent SG Bloggers' Con, and the upcoming Floggers' Lunch. Actually I missed the former because I was reading Harry Potter, and I'll be missing the latter because of work, but it's the same thing.

At least I managed to do some cooking over the weekend.

Since I had been instructed to bring something that I had personally prepared for my class gathering on Sunday, I racked my brains to think of a suitable contribution. My first thought was a tiramisu, but where would that leave you, my dear readers? Ploughing through something you're already intimately familiar with.

So, feeling inspired by June's stew, I decided to try a stew of my own.

Like her, stews are one of my comfort foods. Slow cooking appeals to me as the lazy man's way of cooking. Like soups, stews need minimal attention and produce prodigious amounts of delectable aromas that waft through your entire house. Perhaps it was all the cartoons I watched in my salad days, with the evil witch chopping up assorted vegetables into the big cauldron, waiting to catch Bugs Bunny and have a lovely rabbit stew for lunch.

This stew appears to be a family recipe, and is somewhat fusion in character, but very Western in appearance. Goes well with bread or rice.

Pork Stew (Serves 5)

1½ kg or about 20 pieces of pork ribs
2 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 onions, sliced
1 medium-sized turnip, chopped into chunks
4 bay leaves
1 Tbsp cornflour
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp dried thyme (or fresh)
½ tsp dried rosemary (or fresh, chopped)
350ml red wine

5 Tbsp cornflour
5 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water or stock, plus more to cover
2 Tbsp tomato ketchup
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp pasta sauce
1 Tbsp light soya sauce

Pork Stew meez

I know this seems like a formidable list of ingredients, but once you've chucked them all in they'll sort themselves out. You can also add your favourite vegetables, legumes and funghi if you wish.


Marinate the meat, vegetables, cornflour and herbs in the wine for 3 – 4 hours, or overnight.

With Vegetables

Make sure you've mixed them all up, otherwise only your meat will get the benefit of the wine treatment. Marinating softens up your meat and vegetables, so it's worth the effort.


Remove the meat and dry thoroughly. This helps the browning process later, but if you're in a hurry, it's not really essential. Remove the vegetables, dry thoroughly and reserve separately. Keep the marinade for later use.


Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and brown meat on all sides, working in batches. If you're not health-conscious or only have a few more days to live, use regular cooking oil which improves the flavour of the pork.


Once each batch has been decently browned, remove the ribs to a large pot or casserole. Please make sure your pot is big enough to accommodate all the ingredients, or you'll just have something extra to wash.

Brown Vegetables

In the same fat (or add more oil if you've run low), brown the vegetables and add them to the pot.

Dump Marinade

Try and mix the meat and the vegetables so that they're more or less evenly distributed. Pour in the red wine marinade, and enough water or stock to nearly cover the meat and vegetables. Personally I'd go for water, as the stew is flavourful enough as is.


Add the tomato ketchup, oyster sauce, pasta sauce and soya sauce and mix into the liquid. Doesn't it look like the little piggies are bleeding something awful?


Bring to a boil, and either simmer, covered, for 2½ hours, or continue boiling, covered, for 45 minutes, whichever suits your patience levels. For those of you who don't have a clock in your kitchen, or simply can't be bothered to keep track of the time, cook till the pork ribs are soft and tender but not disintegrating. This is a stew, not bloody Bovril.


This is a complete meal in itself, plus it refrigerates well, plus it tastes even better the next day.

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