Have you ever come across those brownie recipes that require you to melt chocolate and butter over a pot of simmering water? Where you have to whisk the mixture continuously for what seems like eternity til they become melted and smooth?
I have, and this recipe is not one of them.
In this recipe, all the equipment you need are: a large mixing bowl, a ladle and a lined 8 x 8 baking pan. Promise. And the recipe goes like this: Dump, stir, pour, bake. That’s it.
No need for simmering water, an electric mixer, a whisk.. not even chocolate.
I used good quality cocoa powder in this recipe, plus 2 teaspoons of instant coffee mix to bring out the chocolate flavour even more. With the addition of coffee, the brownie is now richer, and the chocolate notes more pronounced. The interior is fudgy and not at all cakey, and the bananas add another dimension to the flavour.
When cutting brownies, be sure to use a PLASTIC KNIFE. I promise you that your brownie squares will cut cleanly. Also line your baking pan with aluminium foil with the sides hanging out, for easy removal after baking. I don’t bother greasing the pan and I don’t have to cross my fingers.
I want to add though, that if making brownies from scratch is not your thing, you can grab a box of brownie mix and add in the bananas and oreo cookies yourself. Yeah I said that. I’ve made loads of delicious brownies from Betty Crocker, and if it saves you time and money I say go ahead and make that brownie from a box!
Today I have chosen to make these from scratch. Read on for the recipe!
Are these easy to make or what? I don’t even bother about the sequence of adding the ingredients. I just add everything together in a large bowl, mix and bake. They’re the easiest brownies I’ve ever made (not counting the boxed versions, of course!), and they’re incredibly yummy. I have also made these with vegetable oil in place of butter and they taste great too. With the basic brownie batter, you can add in marshmallows, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and whatever tickles your fancy.
I love these, and I hope you try them!
I love fried chicken, but I love it even more when it is eaten with curry.
I discovered Fu Xiang Kitchen’s “Chicken Biscuit Curry Rice” when they still had an outlet at West Mall’s Koufu foodcourt. By the way, to digress a bit, does anyone else have a gripe with Koufu and its cleanliness? The trays are almost always wet (and smelly!), and the cleaners use a wet cloth to wipe the wet tray and everything stays wet. And these are the trays that we use to hold our food! I used to eat at Changi City Point’s Koufu everyday (Yong Tau Foo soup, vegetables only, no carbs! E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y!), and it drove me soo crazy that I wrote in to feedback (the marketing executive who answered my email was “Zoe Tay”, no joke). The situation improved for a few weeks but the trays went back to being wet and smelly after that. In contrast, the trays at Bagus foodcourt at the basement are always clean and dry.
I wouldn’t eat at Koufu if I had a choice.
So back to the fried chicken curry rice. Fu Xiang Kitchen’s stall at West Mall closed down after a while and it was only when Star Vista opened that I had a chance to eat this again. They started off as a hawker stall in a coffeeshop at Bishan bus interchange in the 1990s, and are pretty famous for their curry chicken. The secret to Fu Xiang Kitchen’s “award-winning” curry is in its specialty chili paste, which is made from more than eight different types of spices and takes more than five hours to prepare.
Apart from Chicken Biscuit Curry Rice, they also serve Curry Chicken (of course!), Curry Fried Fish, Sambal Fried Chicken, Sambal Sotong and even Spring Onion Black Pomfret. I have to confess I’ve never tried the other dishes. I mean, how not to eat fried chicken curry rice, right?
Fu Xiang Kitchen is also awarded the “Star Award For The Fine Culinary Skill“. This award makes me cringe everytime I see it at food stalls. What “Fine Culinary Skill”? “THE” Fine Culinary Skill la! I wonder who came up with this and who approved it.
Thankfully, the Chicken Biscuit Curry Rice ($5.90) is as good as I remember it. The fried chicken is crispy and light, and the gravy not tooo heavy to go with rice. The aunty will even ask if you want extra curry gravy (at no charge) or if you want an omelette to go along with it ($0.50). Of course I said “Yes!” to the gravy! The “set” also comes with a bowl of clear soup. Veryy satisfying if you are carbs-deprived!
Fu Xiang Kitchen
The Star Vista
1 Vista Exchange Green #02-25/26
Buona Vista, Singapore 138617
I’ve never baked bread. No, really, not even in a breadmaker. I was also skeptical, or even fearful of yeast- yes I am strange like that. I kinda remember reading a children’s book about children baking, and the little girl added so much yeast that the dough kept rising, and rising, and rising, until eventually it exploded through the roof.
I am also squeamish about using yeast because it reminds me of fungus, bacteria, and infection. I imagine the yeast multiplying once in contact with your hands, and it will stay on your skin and continue to multiply and spread, and eventually your whole body will be covered with yeast. Don’t ask me how or why I am screwed up like that.
So you have to know that it took me ALOT of courage to want to bake something that isn’t cookies or cupcakes, and resembles bread. I decided to go with pretzels because bread seems so challenging, and I like to take small steps. I googled pretzel recipes and did a few trials, and came up with this version which I really prefer- the pretzel is soft, isn’t too chewy, isn’t overwhelmed with butter (what am I saying?) and crispy at the edges. And as usual, I tried 2 methods- one with a regular oven, the other in the airfryer. I also made mini versions:
For a basic pretzel, you only need 5 ingredients: Flour, yeast, sugar, salt and butter for brushing. You’ll also need to dip your pretzels in hot water with baking soda to fully achieve the slightly chewy texture, aroma and deep brown colour of a pretzel. For the science behind it, go to this page. Julie explains in a simple way. You may, of course, skip this step, but then you would be getting pretzel-shaped bread instead of pretzels. Still edible, but not pretzels.
Experiment with fillings and toppings! As someone who loves variety, you wouldn’t think I’d make an entire batch of sea-salt pretzels, would you? I made four versions: chocolate chip, raisin, cinnamon sugar and garlic onion. I like everything except the raisin.
With the chocolate chip and raisin: Knead them into the dough as you’re rolling them out.
For the garlic onion: Knead a little garlic onion flakes/ seasoning into the dough as you’re rolling them out, but after they’re baked, you brush on melted butter and sprinkle somemore garlic onion seasoning on top.
For cinnamon sugar: Simply roll the dough out, bake, brush with melted butter, then sprinkle on cinnamon sugar.
I am going to give you a basic butter recipe. You can make your own variations as above. Ready for the recipe? Here we go!
Are these amazing or what? You probably have all these ingredients in your pantry, and you will realise that a basic butter pretzel costs what, $0.20 a piece? And that is for regular size? I don’t think you’re going to pay $3 a piece at Auntie Anne’s from now on. I know I won’t!
Remember the 水饺面 / Dumpling Noodle that I made recently? I cooked it again for Sunday brunch!
This time, I decided to make an airfried version on top of the regular boiled one. I added more water chestnuts and a teaspoon of fish sauce to the marinade, and the filling was even more delicious than the previous version. Jason was beyond happy:
We shared the portion la, although he is getting more gluttony these days, I wasn’t about to overfeed him. Does this happen to anyone of you? You know, your husband never gets full?
I airfried these in my Philips Airfryer for just 7 minutes at 180 degrees. I kept opening the basket to check cos I know dumpling skins get golden reallyy quick. I was kinda worried that the meat wouldn’t get cooked, but these turned out very well.
Have fun, and enjoy making these airfried dumplings! They’re great as a snack and remind me of dim sum.
It wasn’t until late last week that I finally tried “My Kuali” Penang White Curry Noodle.
This is the instant noodle that has taken the foodie world by storm after being reviewed by The Ramen Rater, who not only ranked it #7 Spiciest Instant Noodles of All Time 2013, but also declared it as “one of the best curry instant noodles I’ve ever had”, giving it 5 out of 5 stars!
I did a quick google for “Authentic Penang White Curry Mee”, and was led to Annna’s page, where she introduced original white curry mee from “Hot Bowl Nyonya Delight”, Lorong Abu Siti, Penang. Apparently, this stall has been around for more than 20 years and the curry mee, when served, comes with cuttlefish, cockles, tofu, beansprouts, and is really white. It only becomes “curry” when chilli paste is added to the milky broth.
My Kuali’s Penang White Curry Mee is fiery red as the chilli paste is added to the pot at the same time as the seasoning and creamer.
Let’s take a look at the noodles.
The packaging, dissected.
The noodles came with a sachet of soup seasoning, non-dairy creamer and some gloriously fiery sambal chilli paste.
The noodle block.
The seasoning packet which included salt, MSG, sugar, and fish & seafood seasoning powder.
Non-dairy creamer to thicken up the curry base.
The unbelievably fragrant sambal chilli paste. Ingredients include onion, garlic, shrimp paste, chilli powder, curry powder, among others. See the full list a few photos down.
A closer look at this magic.
Step-by-step instructions. Remember not to add too much water. I used a measuring jug to ensure I followed the instructions to a T. 380ml of water is really all you need.
The ingredients. I spot MSG in both the seasoning packet and chilli paste.
Nutritional facts. As a comparison, the popular Myojo Char Mee 100 has 360 calories, 1040mg of sodium and 1.2g of saturated fat per packet. Prima Taste Curry La Mian (ranked #2 of Ramen Rater’s Top 10 Instant Noodles of All Time 2013) packs a whopping 720 calories, 1900mg of sodium and 24g of saturated fat per packet. This is insane. The Health Promotion Board recommends no more than 20g of saturated fat intake per day for a healthy adult, and you’re going to blow it on instant noodles?
Ok sorry I digressed. Back to the noodles. More pictures!
So.. how is the taste? What I can say is, these noodles are absolutely delicious! The garlic, onion and crustacean flavours of the chilli paste impart a lovely hint of sweetness to the rich and creamy broth. Transfer these to a claypot, add some prawns, dory fish and tau pok, and these could pass off as seafood curry claypot noodles. The noodles are also nicely balanced- soft enough to soak up the curry while springy enough to still maintain a firm bite. Be warned though.. the spiciness level is 8.5/10 and this is the spiciest instant noodles I’ve ever tried. These noodles are worth the hype AND the calories! My entire kitchen was filled with the aroma of curry mee when I was cooking!
I can’t help but compare this to Prima Taste’s Curry La Mian, which is also one of my favourite instant noodles of all time. But now if I had to choose, I will pick My Kuali’s Penang White Curry Mee anytime. The satisfaction level is comparable.. even a notch higher than Prima Taste.. I prefer the texture of the noodles.. it is less than half the price of Prima Taste’s.. the saturated fat is less than half of Prima Taste’s (9.2g vs 24g my goodness) and the calories are also (almost) half of Prima Taste’s (474 kcal vs 720 kcal). My Kuali wins.
I imagine home-sick students and travellers lugging packets of this overseas. I imagine me doing the same thing, really.
The only thing now is to wait for this to be available for sale at regular prices in Singapore. I heard rumours of it hitting the shelves of Cold Storage and Giant sometime soon.
I love these noodles. If you’ve tried this before, did you like it too?
This year’s Valentine’s Day fell on the same day as 元宵节, the last day of Chinese New Year. We always have 元宵节 dinner together with the family, so Jason decided to surprise me with a home-cooked Valentine’s Day lunch the next day. On the menu: Chicken chop with mushroom sauce, “Jack’s Place” baked potatoes and garlic prawns and brocolli. With Pink Moscato!
The busy chef at work:
Can you believe the last time this guy cooked was 15 years ago? This just looks amazing!
He told me he “went to a blog” to check out the chicken chop recipe. I asked him, “A blog? Is it budgetpantry?” He laughed and said YES. Haha! I thought his version was tastier than mine, for some reason! He marinated and airfried the chicken the way I did, but reduced the sugar and forgot the oyster sauce. For the gravy, he sautéed some yellow onions and button mushrooms, emptied a can of mushroom soup, added some water, hp sauce and sugar, and ladled it over the chicken. It was really good!
He used my trusty Philips Airfryer to prepare the chicken chop and the meat- as always!- turned out super moist and flavourful.
The broccoli and prawn were too salty- he added TWO teaspoons of salt- but that doesn’t matter at all BECAUSE THE BAKED POTATO WAS DA BOMB! The potato was fluffy and creamy, baked for 50 minutes to just the right texture.. and the skin was rustic and lovely. The sour cream, spring onions and crisp bacon accompanied the baked potato brilliantly.
I love the effort he took in preparing the meal and the entire experience was indescribable. I’ve always been the one cooking and feeding my family and have never had a guy cook for me before, so I really appreciate this meal very much. I felt soooo touched and loved. If this is the feeling you feel whenever you eat something I cook, I will gladly cook for you everyday! Thank you dear husband!
And now, Jason’s recipe for our favourite “Jack’s Place” baked potato! We call it “Jack’s Place” potato because this is exactly the way baked potato is served at “Jack’s Place“, a long-standing family-style restaurant here. We kinda grew up with it. The difference is that the baked potato costs $4 a piece, and I am sooo glad I don’t ever have to pay that sort of price again.
Now that I know how to make my own baked potato (or have a husband who knows how to make it for me!), I swear I will never eat another baked potato outside again!
Who loves big, fat, juicy dumplings? Me, that’s for sure!
Many of my overseas friends have asked me, “What’s the difference between Wonton (云吞) and Sui Gow (水饺)?” They go by the same name in English for simplicity’s sake- dumplings (just like there’s “Aunt” and “姑母”，”姑妈”，”姑姐”，”姨母”，”姨妈”，etc which all mean “Aunt”)- but are indeed pretty different. Wontons are much smaller, and its primary ingredient- depending on where you’re from- could either be a whole prawn or just little morsels of minced pork. Dumplings, on the other hand, are larger, chockful of ingredients like minced pork, prawns, water chestnuts, mushrooms, black fungus (wood ear), carrots, etc added for crunchiness. Some recipes even add bamboo shoots.
And then there’s the noodles. In this recipe, I’m going to essentially refer to the noodles as “Wonton Mee” as the way the noodles are prepared is the same. Malaysian-style Wonton Mee is very generous with black sauce, and I can see how people love that version. Singapore-style Wonton Mee usually have some ketchup added, and I love, love, love ketchup in my noodles. I can’t stand how people like to proclaim that a version is superior to the other.. it all boils down to having different tastebuds. I love the noodles that I grew up with, but the Malaysian version is delicious, too. Don’t be childish ok？ No food is “superior” to the other.
Don’t the dumplings look simply lovely? The fried beancurd skin is an add-on, prepared in my airfryer. This recipe makes 20 dumplings, actually enough for 6 people if you portion 3 dumplings per person- they’re huge! Only $1.40 per serving for 6, or $1.95 per serving for 4 with extras. With half a packet of sui gow wrappers left over, you can be sure I’ll be making another round of these veryy soon!
Just in time before the end of Chinese New Year!
I’ve been seeing deep fried crab sticks disguised as Chinese New Year goodies these couple of years and am intrigued by the ingenuity of the sellers. I mean, this is such a simple thing to prepare and takes no effort, and you’re selling it at the same price as pineapple tarts? No way am I gonna fork out $16-$18 for a bottle of this! I decided to make my own this CNY.. 3 heaped plates of the above for $1.70? My wallet (and principle) says “Yes!”
And this is it! Super easy to make and it turned out crispy and fragrant. I didn’t even pat them dry nor do anything extra. My aunt even said these taste better than prawn crackers. I haven’t tried other brands of crab sticks. If you have, let me know if they are any good!
I love boiled vegetables. I can eat broccoli, carrots, spinach, cauliflower, kailan, and most other vegetables simply boiled or steamed, without any other seasonings. The rest of my family think I am crazy- you know the Chinese, they gotta stir fry their vegetables, even lettuce- and insist that I am “doing this” because I am trying to lose weight, but no.. I really, really enjoy eating vegetables plain. I am super low maintenance like that.
So I was in the mood for some crunchy kailan stems the other day. Much as I would love to serve blanched kailan (because it is delicious) to the two old ladies at home, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t want to risk them worrying if I was so broke that I could only put boiled veggies on the table. I ended up doing a garlic sambal prawn and kailan stir-fry. You know, prawn= expensive= she-can-still-afford-it so they can sleep at night. They also finished up a huge bowl of rice each and kept telling me, “好吃，好吃。” (“yummy, yummy.”) I’m sure I wouldn’t have heard that if it had just been plain kailan.
This dish works better if you use medium to large-sized prawns as they match with kailan better. I didn’t have those but I had a huge packet of smaller prawns in my freezer (very handy to add to noodle dishes!) so I used those. One tip to not over spend when preparing meals is to work with what you already have in your kitchen. You can also use more sambal according to your tastebuds. I am an advocate of bottled pastes and sauces because they save me so much time. If you’re someone who’s into pounding and frying your own sambal, will you send some my way?
I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about my family, nor myself, nor what matters to me, very much on this blog. Apart from posting my recipes and reviews and bits and pieces of “my life” which don’t even make up 1% of who I really am, I am pretty much silent. And to friends who know me and past-readers of Pink-Pink!! who have managed to find budgetpantry, this is not me.
Yes, my ex-blog had a name, Pink-Pink!!, complete with a hyphen and two exclamation marks. I came up with this name together with someone dear to me in the Xanga circle when I just started blogging. He was one of my first readers, the first person to leave me comments, the one person who made me realise, hey, someone cares about what I’m writing. He was my motivator and friend. He passed away recently- it always seems recent- and I still have his blog link in my saved bookmarks. I can’t read the blog now that Xanga is no more, but I still click on that link sometimes, hoping maybe, that the internet might surprise me one day.
I love to write. Not just blog, but write. I am whimsical and a bit strange, and as much as I try to assume other identities like a “housewife” or “auntie”, I feel incomplete without writing. My favourite book is “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon, written in the perspective of a 15-year-old boy assumingly with Asperger Syndrome. Yet the book is not about any specific “condition”.. it is about being different, looking at things as an outsider, while feeling right at home, like truth.
I was a literature student who constantly failed mathematics. I hated “X”- he always went missing- and loved Macbeth. I went on to do a mass communications diploma because I liked bits of the stuff. I like some parts of TV production, radio, coming up with creatives, writing media releases. I loved the Chinese language, as I do English.. I loved speech writing and presentations, and feature and news writing. And although I was good at it if I had to, I didn’t like to deal with people. Just like now, sometimes I like talking to you, sometimes I don’t. It depends on how real you are, and I can tell, all the time.
I was such a closet introvert, I fooled myself all these years growing up that I was an extrovert who loves talking to people. Ok actually I do, to people I genuinely like. I just can’t do and don’t believe in small talk.
I then went on to do a degree which up-ed my paycheck but that’s that. I made strange “career” choices nothing to do with my education, and I still wonder why sometimes. But I was genuinely happy during my time at the airport, and met my husband at my second job. So who’s to say there should be a “should be”, and I “should not” have “wasted my degree”?
I hope you enjoyed this “About Me”. This year, I hope to remember how much I loved connecting, and forget that I’m writing for someone who might be reading.
Next up: A glimpse of what goes on in our household every Chinese New Year + a post on my family. This CNY, I think it is time to introduce them to the world.