Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Mia Bakes: Nian Gao Mochi Balls

Finally, it's Lunar New Year! How's everyone's CNY celebrations so far? Mine has been a #cheatdayeverday since CNY eve till date, so I'll probably have ALOT catching up to do after my CNY break is over (starting tomorrow). 

Other than stuffing myself silly with the usual CNY goodies like fried hae bee hiam (especially so this year, somehow), pineapple tarts and kueh bangkit, there's always one particular CNY goodies that I absolutely MUST eat every year. 


Nian Gao (directly translated as Year's Cake) is actually a sweeten rice cake the Chinese usually eats during our Lunar New Year. It's either eaten freshly steamed, or sliced and deep fried in normal flour batter or sandwiched between thinly sliced yam or sweet potato, battered and then deep fried. 
Loads of refined sugar, carbs, and fats! What a glorious yummy snack! 
Yes, #fatedieme I know. Don't rub it in.

This year, I've decided to at least cut down on some of the fats and bake my nian gao instead, by marrying it with another of my favourite snack, MOCHI!

First, let's start by cutting the nian gao into roughly 1.5cm small cubes. Make sure you've refrigerated them so that they're harden up. They're a horror to slice if they're all fresh and soft. 

For the mochi bun/shell, you'll need: 
(recipe adapted from gingybite, makes 30 small mochi balls in total) 

180g glutinous rice flour
20g tapioca starch
1.5 tsp cinnamon powder 
(omit and replace with milk powder if you do not like cinnamon taste)
1 egg
60ml vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
100ml water + 20ml milk 
(120ml water if you're replacing cinnamon with milk powder)

Making the mochi dough is super easy, just dump ALL the ingredients into a big bowl and mix until it comes together into a soft dough. It should be soft, yet not liquidy, slightly sticky on your hands but still pliable. 

Divide the mochi dough into small balls of roughly 15 to 16g each and wrap a nian gao cube into each mochi dough to form small ping pong sized mochi-nian gao balls. Make sure there's no obvious exposure of the nian gao or else you'll just end up with nian gao-volcano mochi balls in the end. 

The mochi balls will not spread (at all) during baking, so feel free to space them closer together on your baking sheet. For crispier surface, brush the mochi balls with some water before sending them into the oven to bake at 180 degree Celsius for about 25 minutes, or until you see (some of) your mochi balls cracking open and lava nian gao bubbling through. 

Be sure to let it cool slightly before biting into one because it'll burn your tongue. But try not to wait until they turn completely cold as well, for the lava nian gao inside would have harden back up.

As the mochi shell is not sweeten at all, the sweetness of this snack totally depends on how sweet your nian gao is. And since the nian gao is store-bought, it also means you can't control how sweet this will get, unless you make your own nian gao as well. 
But who cares if it ends too sweet or not sweet enough? The texture of the crispy outer shell of the mochi paired up with the gooey chewy molten nian gao is more than enough to worth all the hassle of baking this cute little CNY treats!

Till then,
Mia Foo

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Food Tasting Invite: Don't Tell Mama

Don't Tell Mama (DTMM) is a Korean-Mexican fusion bistro & bar under the same F&B management group that has brought to us Chicken Up. Located along Tanjong Pagar Road (beside Chicken up), DTMM brings to us an exquisite pairing of Mexican and Korean dishes, infused with creativity and flair. The bar boasts of classic, novel and fun cocktails.

The bistro/bar has an interesting decor concept that's industrialistic from the rustic pipe lights and raw concrete finishing and yet modern and cute with hanging mason jar lights and colourful lightbulbs. 

The handcrafted pallet tables are complemented by recycled plastic crates alongside oil drums and tire tables. 

And of course, beers on taps!

And let's move on to the yums yums for the night, shall we?

Frozen Cocktail + Upturned Soju (Sojurita) - $25
From left: Parcharita (Passionfruit, Mango & Tequila), Strawberrita (Strawberry & Tequila) & Lycherita (Lychee & Tequila)

The rest of the ladies seems to rate Lycherita as the best of the lot but I'll very much prefer Parcharita. Love the tangy, citrus flavour of the passionfruit when it paired up with the soju. I couldn't taste much of the alcohol (tequila) in the frozen cocktail itself though. As long as you don't disturn the upturned soju bottle too much, most of the soju remains in the bottle until you finished about 90% of the drink, only then the soju will start rushing out of the bottle due to lost in the pressure. So you can easily control how alcoholic you want your drink to be!
Cool, right? 

Lightbulb Sodas - $5
From left: Strawberry Soda, Blue Lemon Soda

Yes, those mini lightbulbs hanging from the top of the big lightbulb FLASHES. They just look super-duper adorable and were welcomed with excited squeals from all of us as the staff brought them to our table. 
The strawberry flavour can be a little light, and most of us preferred the tangy blue lemon. 
They also do alcoholic cocktail versions of these lightbulb drinks, so guys... if you want to bring your girlfriend out for a drink. You know where to go now. 

Bulgogi Quesadilla - $14
Authentic Korean bulgogi stuffed in baked tortillas and topped with melted mozzarella cheese, served with guacamole and sour cream. 

Not a beef eater, hence skipped this. From the reactions from the rest of the ladies, I've obviously missed out.... big time. 

Prawn Burrito - $12
Prawn Burrito topped with freshly chopped onions, jalapeno and salsa roja. 

This obviously is not your usual burrito as it has a lot more going on on the outside (all those cheese and toppings) as compared to a traditional burrito. 
I guess if one day, Mr. Burrito and Ms. Pizza fell in love, this shall be their baby. HAHAHA!
Not sure if it's the distinctive taste of salsa roja or not, but it has a characteristic "Indian dish" taste of strong spices to it. It was also one of the first few dishes to be served, but also one of the last dishes we've tasted. Might have done a lot better if it was still warm and not significantly harden up. 

Fried Chicken Gizzard - $8

This is the very first time in my life that I've eaten a gizzard, or an internal organ of any sorts of an animal, and it was surprisingly tasty! Extremely chewy, this should go perfectly well with a mug of nice cold beer. But it might also be a little too spicy if you do not take spicy food very well. 
I love the spiciness though. Yum yum!

Spicy Lollipops - $8

These are actually chicken drumlets made to look like 'lollipops' and slathered with spicy korean sauce, which I believe is the yangnyum sauce (both sweet and spicy). The meat is tender and well flavoured, and it's extremely easy to eat as compared to a conventional drumlet as the meat somehow comes off the bone much easier.

Fried Chicken Wings - $8

Fried till crisp on the outside, well flavoured and tender, you cannot go wrong with this fried chicken wings. Just do not expect yourself to look all dainty and glamorous while eating this. 
No, not happening. 

Kimchi Fries - $18
Sauteed kimchi, soy-seasoned chicken on crispy french fries with kimchi sauce and sour cream.

Okay, I'm kimchi-bias, I admit. Put kimchi in anything (except beef) and I'll love it. But come on, french fries, with shredded chicken and kimchi? How can anyone not love this? 

Onion Bomb -$12

Actually, I HATE onions. But this, I ate it, and quite a bit. 
Other than looking ridiculously pretty, the batter also has a yummy, peppery flavour which complements the sweetness of the onion really well. 

DTMM is currently have a Beer for a Dollar Deal, whereby you can get a 330ml beer for only $1 with a purchase of any DTMM entree from Mondays to Thursdays, 5 - 7pm. 

From next month (February 2017) onwards, enjoy BOTTOMLESS beer or margarita for only $30++ (for ladies) or $40++ (for gentlemen), from 7-10pm daily for the whole month of February. 

Like DTMM facebook page and follow them on Instagram for more details of their current & upcoming promos.

Don't Tell Mama is located at 
52 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088473
Opens daily from 5pm - 12am
6221 2007
For event enquiries, email drink@dtmm.sg

Till then,
Mia Foo

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Mia Bakes: Cornflakes Crunchy Butter Cookies

Well, guess what? I'm supposed to be putting up a food review but I decided to let this recipe post jump queue. CNY is around the corner and I've been baking more often than usual (aside from my weekly breadmaking) to test out new recipes for my CNY cookies. 

My mum has been bugging me to bake those honey cornflakes cups, but I'll very much prefer butter cookies. So I reckon, why not mix the two up? 

So let's get over the ingredients so we can get started. 
You'll need:

100g salted butter 
(Golden Churn is preferred)
75g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
150g Top flour (or cake flour)
30g potato starch
(you may use corn flour, but I personally feel PS gives more crunchy cookies while CF makes it more tender)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
30g cornflakes, lightly crushed with hands.
More crushed cornflakes (to roll your cookie dough in)

Instructions are simple. First, cream your butter and sugar until it turns pale and fluffy. Then, add in your beaten egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Sift in your flours and fold until just combined, before folding in the crushed cornflakes. 
The dough should be easy to work with, and shouldn't be sticking to your hands. 
I used a weighing scale to portion my cookie dough into 13g each (my first scoop was a 13g hence I decided to go with it) and then rolled the dough into more crushed cornflakes before putting them onto a baking sheet, spaced a few cms apart.
You need not space them out too much as these cookies do not puff up much, nor spread a lot. I didn't even need to chill the dough before baking. 

Bake the cookies at 175 degree Celsius for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the surface turns slightly browned. 

These cookies are full of buttery fragrance (do remember to use good quality butter if not your cookies will not taste as good) and crunchy from all the cornflakes bits. 
If you'll prefer a more crumbly and tender butter cookies, just cut down the baking time and not let your cookies turn too brown. 

Till then,
Mia Foo

Friday, 6 January 2017

Mia Bakes: Castella Paw Cakes

Well hello people! It's a brand new year, and I've taken the plunge (end of last year) and bought a new oven off taobao.com (along with some cute cake molds). 
So, here's my first baking post for the year of 2017, and hopefully many more to come! 

Upon seeing this cake mold, I just carted it without any 2nd thought. Fretting over which cake to bake comes only after the mold got delivered. HAHA!

And anway, for my 1st try at my own paw cake, I decided to try out a Castella (kasutera) cake, which is a Japanese honey sponge cake.

The ingredients you need are few and simple:
2 eggs
50g AP flour 
(you can use bread flour for new chewy texture)
50g Caster Sugar 
(I used 30g sugar + 20g stevia sugar replacement)
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp unsweeten cocoa powder
**Handheld Mixer is preferable

First up, crack your eggs into a clean, heat-safe bowl and beat with a mixer on high until the egg mixture turns frothy, then add in your sugar in 3 additions, beating in between each addition. Then, place your egg mixture over a pot of simmering water and continue beating on high. Remove the egg mixture from heat when it has warmed up to our body temperature and continue beating on high until the mixture thickens, double in volume and turns into a pale yellow colour, which is the ribbon stage. Check if your batter is ready by lifting up the batter and letting it drop back into the bowl. It should drip down SLOWLY like a ribbon and the ribbon pattern doesn't disappear back into the bowl immedaitely. 
It should take at least 10 minutes for you to reach the ribbon stage, so just whisk away!

While beating your eggs into ribbon stage, warm up your milk (I just stick the milk bowl into the hot water after I removed my egg bowl) and dissolve the honey into the milk. Drizzle the honey-milk mixture into the egg mixture and beat on low until just combined. 

Sift in 1/3 of the flour and mix until just combined. Continue with sifting in the remaining flour and FOLD until just combined. If you're not confident of your folding skills, I highly recommend folding using a hand whisk instead of a spatula as it allows for a more even mixing, hence you're less likely to over-fold your batter. 

Then, take out about 3 tbsp of the batter into a smaller bowl and add in 1 tsp of unsweeten cocoa powder. Mix until just combined and pour into a small piping bag. 

Pipe the chocolate batter into the depression in the mold that makes out the "fingers" of the paw and bang the mold lightly on the counter. If it doesn't spread well or you've messed up, do not worry. Just go in with a toothpick to even out the batter or clean up any mess.

Spoon about 1.5 tbsp of the white batter into each paw, on top of the chocolate batter and tap your mold against the counter for a few times to remove any air bubbles. 

Bake at 170 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes or until the top of your cake has turned brown. 


As it's my first bake with this oven, I couldn't really grasp the temperature and baking time very well and mine ended up slightly overbaked and they tasted more like Kueh Bahulu. 

Till then,
Mia Foo

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Food Tasting: Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Many thanks to Chris and Spicy Thai, we got invited back to the restaurant again for another food tasting session for their latest addition to their menu!
You can read my past reviews of their yummy thai dishes HERE and HERE.

So, let's cut the chase and get straight to what matters the most. 
Deep Fried Sea Bass with Thai Turmeric Sauce - Seasonal Price

Thai Sambal Sea Bass - Seasonal Price

If you're asking me to choose between the two sea bass dishes, I'll definitely go for the thai sambal for that spicy kick! Well, put chili on anything and I'll love it! And also because the sambal chili is a lot less watery compared to the thai turmeric sauce (taste somewhat similar to braised sauce), the deep fried sea bass retained much more of its crispiness as well.

Kaeng Som Cha Om (Spicy Thai style soup with vegetables and fried egg) - $18

Imagine tom yum soup with slightly less sourness, filled with flavourful fried omelette with dill and fresh vegetables. A seemingly humble dish that packs a punch! You really cannot go wrong with fried eggs, yes?

Cold Tofu with Special Thai Seafood Sauce - $15

A very Chinese zichar style of dish, but with a Thai twist. I do love tofu, but I would very much prefer them served hot. But the sauce was yummy though, savoury and flavourful, and complements the soft silken tofu very well.
If only it's warm.... 

And now for the vegetables....
Stir-Fry Broccoli with Scallops - $20

Stir-Fry Cabbage with Thai Sweet Fish Sauce - $10

Stir-Fry Garlic Baby Sweet Potato Leaves - $10

Out of the 3 vegetable dishes, I would probably choose the cabbage as my favourite of the lot while the sweet potato leaves was a little... mehhh.
Not a fan of the distinctive mushy texture of the sweet potato leaves (but that's how it's supposed to be) and they were a little more on the bland side.

Jade Noodles with Meatballs - $12

Consisting of spinach noodles stirfry with meatballs, I know the word 'spinach' and the colour of the noodles is kind of daunting, but this is pretty good! The noodles are cooked to al-dente and the overall taste is savoury and yet, quite light. It would be a decent choice of carbohydrates (in place of white rice) to pair up with other flavourful dishes for a good meal. 

Claypot Coconut Tom Yum Soup - $18 (small) / $28 (big)

This is one of the 'old' food-tasting dishes, but somehow I have missed it. Lovely sourness with a strong spicy kick and tinge of sweetness from the coconut flesh, this is definitely a must try for all tom yum soup lovers out there.

Spicy Thai - Thai Cafe is located at
Blk 115 Aljunied Ave 2, #01-35

For more information, visit their facebook page HERE

Till then,
Mia Foo
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