About orionstar

Easily amused, easily interested, easily bored. Always looking out for new experiences..The world is so vast...

Panna Cotta with Wildberry Compote

I’ll be turning 38 in a few hours time. Another year older, hopefully, wiser. Sigh, every year I would say that to myself but don’t think that’s happening in reality. Oh well…

Instead of a birthday cake (had made myself a devil’s cake last year), I’d decided to go with something easy this year. Was thinking along the lines of a fudgy brownie (just mix it up and bake) or jelly. Then I had a lovely panna cotta for dessert on Fri night and *ding ding ding*, I know what I’m making.

Panna cotta is one of my favourite dessert. I love it but never thought about making it. Not sure why but I’d always assumed it’s too much work but in actual fact, it is one of the easiest and fastest (exclude the chilling part) dessert to make.

You’d just need the following ingredients:

Panna cotta

  • 1 litre of heavy cream or whipping cream (which turned out ok for me)
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 to 1.5 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tbsp gelatine powder
  • 3 tbsp water

Wildberry compote

  • 250g of frozen berries (I’d bought a 1kg pack of frozen wildberries from Phoon Huat. You can use other types of berries (strawberries, raspberries etc) per your preference
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar (can be reduced to 1/4 cup if you like it less sweet)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)

1. Bloom the gelatine by sprinkling the powder on the surface of the water. Let it sit for around 5 mins. Do not attempt to dissolve the gelatine at this point.

2. Heat up the cream and the sugar in a saucepan. While the mixture is simmering, stir in the vanilla bean.

3. Remove saucepan from the heat. Stir in the gelatine. By now, the gelatine would look like coagulated gel. Ensure that the gelatine is well-mixed and had dissolved in th warm cream mixture.

4. Pour the mixture into jelly moulds or little clear glasses/cups. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or longer.

For the wildberry compote, simmer the frozen berries and the sugar in a pan until the sugar had dissolved. Stir the berries until the juices are released. Pour the compote into a jar or container, and let it cool down before chilling in the fridge.

Once the panna cotta had set, remove the panna cotta from the mould onto a serving dish. Spread a dollop of the compote on the surface of the panna cotta. Enjoy!!

It’s Da Time of Da Year Again!!

Oh yes! How time flies, yet again! It’s that time of the year again where the hubby had to fulfil my wish for a home-cooked birthday meal. This is the only time of the year where he has to cook a full meal. Those grilled toast or anything microwaved do not count. We are talking about slicing, dicing, marinating, stir-frying/steaming/roasting/sauteing and finally, serving to Her Highness here.. Wahahaha!!

A couple of days ago in the supermarket, the hubby had asked me where can he get bay leaves and parsley. Instantly, I had guessed what he’s gonna cook, and advised  that parsley is unnecessary. It’s nice as a garnish but I don’t eat them so if he’s cooking what I had guess it is, I told him to skip the parsley. After the meal today, he revealed that he had tried to conceal the “oh shit, she had hit jackpot” look that day. LOL!! Aiya, 没关系 lah, 我是想帮你省一点钱 lah…

What’s the menu for this year’s advanced birthday dinner?

YUM!! All my favourite dishes!!

There’s a steamed Pomfret with ginger and plums, clams stewed in beer and butter with bay leaves and parsley (yup, had guessed that right) and stir-fried xiao bai cai with garlic and caramelised shallots. The couscous with shrimps was made by me. Had a sudden craving for couscous. Had cooked extra so the leftover couscous would be for tomorrow’s lunch.

Funny thing.. The hubby had assumed we’d still have some Hua Diao Jiu (chinese cooking wine) which he plans to add into the clam stew but he was shocked that there are none left in the bottle. Luckily, we have some beer in the fridge and had used that. In fact, beers are great for clams and mussels, and I had requested he add the whole bottle in. But the hubby said, nope, the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup, and then expressed regret that he should have listen to me when he realised there’s so little sauce after he had dished out the clams onto a serving plate. Hahaha…

The dinner was great. For someone who doesn’t cook, this is quite a feat. I am very impressed and feeling very blessed. Well, the hubby is also very impressed with himself. Was lavishing self-praises at each bite of his creations. Oh goodness…

As time passes, birthdays are really simple fares spent with loved ones and good friends. 这样简简单单的过生日也是一种幸福哦.

Family Day at the S.E.A Aquarium

The theme for this year’s family day “We Are Awesome” is totally befitting for that feeling of having the official right to hang out anywhere else except the office and doing anything else except work stuff on a work day. Ain’t that awesome!

For each family day, a division would be assigned to organise the event. Although it is a 1-day event, a lot of work and preparation was involved, and that’s on top of the division’s day-to-day work load.

The venue for this year’s family day is the S.E.A Aquarium and Adventure Cove Waterpark. Think the waterpark will appeal to kids and the younger colleagues. I’d chose to be non-adventurous and visit the aquarium instead. Actually, waterparks don’t appeal to me. Unless I am in a beach resort during a vacation, I don’t like to get wet and the hassle of changing out of the wet clothes, and then getting onto the public transport with hair that looks like an Afghan Hound after a shower.

Although I had been to the S.E.A Aquarium twice, and the most recent was during the airshow early this year, I can never get tired of watching these marine fish and corals. Seeing these underwater scenes reminds me of my snorkeling trips in a recent vacation in the Maldives.

Watching this school of fish is akin to watching the kinetic rain display at Changi Airport T1. The rhythmic manner, which these fish had streamed from one end to the other, occasionally gliding up near the surface and then down again, without breaking away from each other, has a rather hypnotic effect.

That pale pinkish white furry looking thing is a fish. Have no idea what it’s called. Guess it’s not erm, furry fish?

Starfish are so cute. I love the bright orange-red one that I’d decided to use this picture as my latest blog header. The one in the second half of the picture is also a starfish. Instead of the usual star-shape, it had decided to do a little stretching, I think. LOL!

Aww.. who doesn’t love these orange and white little fellas? The name “anemonfish” might be unfamiliar to some but I think everyone knows Nemo. There were 2 kids who had hollered “Nemo!” when they spotted these fish.

There is something eerily fascinating about jellyfish, their translucent bodies which are largely (95%) water, and the slow-mo way they move.

Another sea creature that fascinates me is the manta ray with their flat large bodies, long tails and the graceful way which they glide around like a bat, except they don’t look as vile. Recently, the news had reported that 2 manta rays had died in this aquarium. Maybe they are unable to acclimatize?

Yikes… the moray eels with their wide-eyes and wider mouths. Scary…

The last part of the aquarium would be the shark enclosure… Saw a couple of reef sharks, nurse sharks and hammerheads.

Our attempt to take a selfie with these sharks. It’s so damn hard to capture a clear image of a shark, any shark. Obviously, they aren’t gonna stay still and pose for ya. After several attempts, this is the best we can get. Haha.

Oh hey! There’s one co-operative nurse shark relaxing at one corner. We had to do half squats (argh!) just to fit ourselves in the same frame as this dude.

Alrighty… we had come to the end of the aquarium visit and in a way, the end of the event for us since we won’t be checking out the waterpark.

It’s time for lunch!! Each of us were given a $10 voucher that can be used at the Malaysian Food Street, the aquarium and the waterpark. Our plan was to use up the $10 and if lunch is still unfulfilling, we would have a round 2 at Vivo City. 2 of our vouchers together ($20) had got us some Penang Ngoh Hiang, Chai Tow Kway, Char Kway Teow and Kaya toast. Think we can scrape round 2 cos we were pretty stuffed after that. I would say the Chai Tow Kway is not bad. The rest of the dishes is just ok.

Heh, there’s always room for dessert! Ok, we had a very heavy and greasy lunch so dessert had to be shared. We had settled at St Marc Cafe with a matcha ice-cream and vanilla soft-serve ice-cream accompanied with matcha pudding (nice!) and azuki.

Had reached home in early afternoon and took a 3-hr nap! That’s really unlike me as I hardly take naps. I blame it on the afternoon heat and the after-lunch feeling. The nap had left me refreshed for the next event of the day! Back to Vivo City to meet my bff!!

I must say, it’s truly an AWESOME Friday!

Ooh… Truffle Fries.. Super Nice!

Sigh…Another weakness of mine… Truffle fries

Essentially, it’s fries tossed in truffle oil, shaved Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and sometimes other ingredients. I know… truffle oil is just olive oil mixed with some chemical compound extracted from truffles so it’s not exactly the real deal but when added to fries (and pasta, risotto, scrambled eggs, just to name some), the aroma and taste is just…ooohhh…

As much as I love truffle fries, I am not on some truffle fries-eating marathon at places , quite a number of them actually, that serve these fries. The first time I had truffle fries was at PS Cafe some years ago and I’d find them pretty good. Since then, I had tried some here and there. I’d usually fulfil my craving by making them at home where I can be rather free-handed with the truffle oil. Hee…

Anyway, I would like to share with you 2 of my favourite truffle fries’ restaurants. Will definitely add more if I ever do try at some of those places which are commonly featured and recommended in food blogs.

1) Addictions Cafe (Marina Square)

At $10 for a rather large portion of truffle fries, enough to be shared among 3 to even 4 people, this is not a bad deal. I had been here a couple of times and the quality can be inconsistent. Sometimes, the amount of truffle oil tossed in these fries is reasonable; sometimes not so whereby the truffle flavour might not have reached the bottom layer of fries. But for the price and if you had visited on a good day, I think they are still quite decent.

2) Platypus Kitchen (Bugis Junction)

Before I go into a crazy rave over these fries, did you see the amount of sliced summer truffles scattered over the fries? Although summer truffles are largely considered as  “cheap truffles” over other varieties but how many places serve their truffle fries this way? Maybe in slivers or diced but hardly sliced up like this? Correct me if I am wrong.

Is it ironic or strange that I’d find truffle oil more aromatic and able to enhance the flavour of the fries better than these sliced truffles? To be honest, these truffles aren’t very tasty and are quite bitter actually. It’s just that they make these truffle fries look like truffle fries. And there is also truffle cream served as a dip, if you can’t get enough of the “truffle” flavour.

At $6.50, this is good for sharing between 2 people. I like the cut of these fries and that some parts are not totally peeled off with a hint of potato skin. Love potato skin! Whenever there’s baked potato served on the side, I will go for the skin, not so much the potato.

If you do encounter places with good truffle fries, let me know ya. But please, no preaching about how fries are unhealthy, fattening and all that, I know… Hmm..

Cycling in the Rain is no Fun!

After being inspired (I guess) by my 30-km cycling effort last week, the hubby had decided (finally) to get his arse up and accompany me on the same route today. As we were nearing Changi Beach Park, the tiny droplets and the grey skies had hinted that an oncoming massive downpour. So we had pedaled as hard as we can to reach Changi Village.  The idea was to catch a break at a cafe and hopefully wish it is nothing more than just a passing rain, though it was obvious that the odds were against our hope.

We had some drinks and nachos at “Chockfull of Beans”. Was tempted to get the ice chocolate but had caved in to the more refreshing rose grapefruit iced-tea instead. Didn’t regret my choice as the blend of tangy and just a bit of bitter flavour of the grapefruit with the, thankfully, only mild floral hint of rose, was an excellent cool-down drink after a work-out. The nachos were, unfortunately, a disappointment as we had preferred them covered with melted cheese with some chopped jalapeno and salsa instead of just chips with a melted cheese dip.

After some 30-mins, we left the cafe and braced ourselves for the next 8km or so ride back.

Retro alert!!!

The last time I had seen such a shoe shop was during the 80s, where the shoes would be displayed in these glass cabinets unlike the open concept today where you can just pick them off the shelves. Wow! 好怀旧哦!

I wonder how is this shop able to survive till today. Is business good? Guess it must be good enough for them to still be in business. Firstly, the shop is located in a rather obscure part of Singapore with only a couple of blocks nearby to make up the so-call “neighbourhood” so it would be assumed that the market base of local residents isn’t huge, even with the weekend crowd of cyclists, Changi Beach-goers, foodies etc. Also, I don’t think the rather dated designs of these footwear would appeal much to the crowd of Generation X-es and younger. Ok, there are some that are just ok (i.e. if I am desperate for shoes at that point for some reason) but when they are all displayed in such old-school style, it just gives an overall archaic vibe of everything.

Oh shite! The rain is getting heavier…

This is the first time I had cycled in the rain and I don’t like it at all. It is a damn miserable feeling of racing against a torrent of rain pelting against your face, in your eyes, on your arms. You are just feeling wet and cold while cycling, and then when you stop at the traffic light and the wind isn’t blowing as hard on you as when you are on the move, you realise that you are actually perspiring and feeling clammy and warm. And when you pedal off, the cold feeling is back. Overall, it is a f-up feeling.

Taking a warm shower right after we reached home plus a bowl of warm herbal soup is really comforting. Ahhh…

Gosh, having a bit of headache now and with some achy thighs and joints there… Urgh… Think I’m gonna go to bed soon… Yaawwwnn….

One Full Loop- East Coast Beach, Coastal Road, Changi Beach and Loyang

Today I’d accomplished my longest cycling distance- 30.45km!! Although my joints are little achy now but it’s worth it and I’d felt like I’d climbed Mount Everest. Haha.. Ok, that’s a million billion times way off in comparison but you know what I mean. LOL!

As you can also see from the image, my handphone battery, at 10%, is about to die on me. Thankfully, I had reached home before it had really dried out.

Having much feasting this weekend- company D&D on Fri evening and a night of good food and drinks with my bff last night- I am in serious need to burn some of that grease. It had rained in the early afternoon and I was crossing my fingers that the rain would stop. It did at around 3.30pm and the sun was out, and blazing on full strength. Sigh, it’s gonna be hot…

I haven’t figured out my cycling route today. Had done Bedok Reservoir last Sun so I should take a different route today. Maybe I’ll do East Coast Beach. Let me cycle towards the Bedok camp area and I’ll decide then.

After I’d crossed the underpass leading towards the East Coast Beach, I’d thought, why not do the entire Coastal Road stretch. And so I’d turned left after I had reached the beach from the underpass.

I’d really love the area that is between somewhat part of East Coast Beach and the Coastal Road. It’s usually not as crowded as the middle part of the beach, and the rustling of the delicate leaves and branches of the Casuarina trees against the sea breeze has a rather soothing effect as I cruise along the path. It’s really lovely during the day and bet it’s spooky as hell in the night.

After some 11km or so, I had reached Coastal Road. Let’s see, it’s 6pm. I guess I can cycle till the ferry terminal area and then turned back. As I watched the planes take-off, I can’t help thinking about our vacation in 3 weeks time. *excited*

Despite the burning ache along my lower back and thighs, I’d made it to the Changi Beach Park. At this point, I could have turned back and take the same route back home, but I am feeling a little adventurous and still high on energy. So I’d decided to move forward and try to connect to Loyang PCN and then back home. On hindsight, if I am ever in the mood to figure my way out when I am not familiar with the routing, I should have chosen an earlier time of the day to do that and not when the sky’s about to turn dark. Will talk about that later.

As I cycle along Changi Beach, I’d passed by the “Airport Logistics Park” (ALPS) on my left. Not exactly next to the place but I can still see the checkpoint between the tall trees.

Gonna start my nostalgic shit now… Give me a moment now…

A decade ago, my ex-ex-company had moved into ALPS from Changi South, Back then, Changi South wasn’t the happening place like today where there’s a mall, a mega supermarket, lots of food choices and all. It was, what I would describe, as a dull half-ass business park. It had sure come a long way.

Then my company moved from boringville to a brand-new ghost-town called ALPS. At that time, only a few companies had set their base in ALPS. There were no amenities like a canteen or public transportation. Don’t think they have the latter even till today. I recalled taking the company bus which would pick us up really early so we’ll always reach the office 15 mins before the official start time.

There were a couple of ways to settle lunch. The lunch kakis (or “buddies”) would either buy our lunches on the way to work in the morning (it’s sad when what’s supposed to be breakfast is actually your lunch) or order from this “caterer” which sells really greasy mixed vegetable rice or hitch a ride in some sale folk’s car to Changi village or Loyang. Oh, I recalled there was a mobile food truck but it got canned (or it just stopped coming by) after a few months. Yeah, lunch time wasn’t all exciting like the Raffles Place office crowd.

So glad I had managed to get myself out of there after some 3 years…

Ok.. snap out of nostalgic mode… Moving along…

This was where I got lost… I found myself right smack in Changi Village. Had even bought the humongous 叶子楣 bao from the Johor Bahru Bao shop.

Oh shit, where do I go from here? I’d stopped a couple to ask for directions. The guy just pointed in the direction towards the Coastal Settlement area and said, just keep going there but there are some small roads and this and that… Man, I am confused. Nevermind, I’ll just go along what he says and try to figure it out as I move along.

I got a little lost near the Changi Beach Club area. The sky is totally dark by then, and that area is just dark and there’s nobody else except me and some cars on the road. Urgh.. bad idea to explore places. Should have left home earlier but who would have thought I would be heading towards Changi Village and Loyang?

At this point, I am so tempted to just flag a cab and call it a day. But NO, I cannot be defeated by this! I’d just need to get myself along Loyang Avenue. And plus, there are no cabs around. Where are all these cabs when you need them?!!

After 2 wrong turns, I had finally found myself along Loyang Avenue. Ok, now how do I get to Pasir Ris Park? Wait, should I even go to Pasir Ris cos that seem like a longer way? I recalled taking Bus no 9 along Loyang Avenue and if I’d just keep heading straight, I would reach Tampines and then Simei.

Screw the PCN.. I am gonna just go straight… It’s getting late… I am starting to feel hungry… My handphone battery is on the verge of dehydration…

You have no idea how happy I was when I’d reached Simei Road…

My shirt was totally drenched in my perspiration when I’d reached home… My legs felt like jelly and just collapsing on the sofa had never felt so good!!! Ah home sweet home (and sofa)…

Next time, I shall leave home earlier if I’m ever doing the same route again. Heee…

After the 7th Lunar Month…

It had poured the night before so the air feels crisp and cool, and the grass looks greener this morning. While waiting for the elevator, I noticed 2 cleaners busy clearing the tons of offerings placed on the ground to “appease” the “brothers and sisters” on the last day of the 7th lunar month (aka the “Hungry Ghost Month or Festival”). Also the last day which these spirits can freely roam among the living before returning to the underworld.

These cleaners have tons to clear. One of our neighbours, staying above us, had prepared a lavish spread and a lot of offerings including items, like toys, candies, little milk bottles, meant for the “little ones”. Those 2 bins can barely hold their humongous pile of burning incense paper, hell notes and such. Our little humble stash of a standard pack of incense papers and offerings are just a small fraction of theirs.

I didn’t know about the “Hungry Ghost Month” until primary school. Think there was a passage in the English textbook, or one of those comprehension passages, that mentioned about this festival. My malleable mind at that time began to conjure images of famished ghosts who would gobble up everything in their path. I mean, they are hungry ghosts right?

It’s only when I’m much older that I understand it is not that extreme. But there are still a couple of “don’ts”. The usual, like do not stay out too late, do not step on offerings, do not whistle at night, try not to wear black or dark colours, or even red, and do not swim or travel etc. Ok, I had flouted the last one. Had visited Maldives and even swam in the sea.

Anyway, I am usually mindful of such things. The hubby would sometimes expressed his disbelief in how a modern person like me be so superstitious. Well, like what they say,  宁可信其有,不可信其无.

Now that the 7th month is over, night cycling to resume! Yay!! For the past month, my regular night cycling was replaced by not-so-regular stationary bike cycling. Not that fun. How I miss the cool breeze and the serenity of the night!