Saturday, March 7, 2015

Prima taste laksa review and tips

Have you tried Prima Taste Laksa La Mian? (Please be assured that this is not a sponsored post by Prima Taste...) 
When I saw the noodles in an Asian grocer in Cincinnati, this is how I described them to my husband: 

"Sweetie!!! These laksa noodles are really authentic!!! The best laksa I have ever eaten!!! Even better than the ones from any hawker centre!!"

He raised his eyebrows in response to my superfluous claims and said that he'd like to try them...

So that's the story of how we ended up paying ten (well spent!!) dollars on instant noodles...

So the instructions on the packet says to add both the paste and powder into hot water and then the noodles and simmer for seven minutes (yes, the noodles will be extremely tough if you cook them for two minutes like other instant noodles..I know cos I tried....)

How would I improve on the instructions? 
First, in light of my, ahem, previous profession as a dietitian, I would like to highlight that one serving of these noodles is 350 calories BUT there are TWO servings in one if you just have this packet of noodles without any other ingredients, it will be 700 calories...(context: wanton noodles is about 440 and chicken rice is about 600...and an average Asian woman's daily energy requirement is about 1500-1800kcal...I need to stop rambling..!) 
So! What we ended up doing is to share one packet between the two of us and adding ingredients like hard boil eggs, tau pok, eggplant and zucchini...(if given a choice, I'd get fish cake, bean sprouts and shredded chicken..) 

Back to the instructions..! 

Laksa for two using one packet of Prima Taste Laksa 

1. Add the laksa paste to 750ml hot water/ stock. 
2. Add noodles, vegetables and tau pok and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Dissolve the coconut powder in 2 tablespoons of warm water or stock and add to the pot. Simmer for two more minutes.
4. Dissolve 1 tablespoon corn starch in 2 tablespoons water and add to the pot.
5. Divide noodles and stock into two bowls.
6. Top with shredded chicken and hard boiled egg. Enjoy!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Strawberry Hearts Crème Brûlée

I didn't think my husband would enjoy desserts so much but that delighted expression on his face whenever I make sweets gives it all away. Today, as part of breakfast we had strawberry Creme brûlée, which he insisted on torching..I was content to just have the creamy custard...
This is the recipe, modified from Alton Brown's version and Hummingbird's High..slightly lower in sugar and calories but still very smooth and satisfying..(I didn't cut the sugar for health's mainly cos I prefer a less sweet taste...and the egg yolk? I just didn't think it was needed...and disliked the idea of having 5 leftover egg whites.....the 4 leftover egg whites were turned into egg white omelette for breakfast the very next morning...there are some fantastic ideas on this page for leftover egg whites if omelettes are not your thing..) 

Strawberry Crème Brûlée

Serves 6 / 6 four oz ramekins 


  • 500ml heavy whipping cream 
  • 4 egg yolks 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 6 teaspoons for caramelization
  • 3 strawberries


1. Put the cream in a microwave proof dish (I used a 2 cup capacity Pyrex glass measuring cup) and then microwave till just below boiling. In my 1200 watt microwave, this took about 3.5 minutes- I took it out every minute to give it a good stir to spread the heat more evenly. How do you know it's done? There's steam rising from the surface of the cream and it looks like it's just about to bubble. Add vanilla essence. 
Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. (the following steps should at least 15 minutes....) 

2. Preheat oven to 325F. 

3. Prepare strawberries. Cut from top down, in 4 slices per strawberry and then make a V cut in the middle and trim the sides to make it look like a heart. 

2. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and egg yolks and whisk till pale yellow and creamy. (On my handheld electric whisk, this took about five minutes.) 

4. Pour the cooled cream into the egg yolk sugar mixture slowly, stirring all the time with a spoon. 

5. Pour into the ramekins and place the ramekins into a baking dish. Carefully place a few slices of strawberries into each ramekin. Pour boiling hot water into the baking dish up to half the height of the ramekins like so.

6. Bake in a 325F degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Start checking at 20 minutes. It should look firm but still jiggle. It's better to be underdone rather than over..

7. Cool on wire racks. When completely cooled, cover with cling flim and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours up to 3 days. (Yes, this is a make in advance dessert.)

8. When ready to serve, sprinkle 1 teaspoon castor sugar and caramelise the sugar with a blow torch. 

9. Enjoy!!! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Meal planning 101

The system that has worked well for the Ison Bistro is planning for meals a week ahead...usually that's on my to-do list on Friday...I have a working document in Google docs which my husband has access to (so that he knows what's on the menu..) and I have different themes for each day of the week just to make sure we have a variety (otherwise I'm liable to just cook chicken all the time!) of foods and cooking styles...for this season, we have: Meatless Mondays, Turkey Tuesdays, Wet n Wild Wednesdays, Terrific Three Thursday (Pork, Lamb, Beef), Fishy Fridays, Stir Fry Saturdays  (was previously Soups, Salads and Stews but that didn't work too well..) and Slow Cooker Sundays...

And with a husband who's rather easy going and eats almost everything, I'm free to pick whatever recipes that catch my fancy and choose 7 main dishes within the different themes...I usually cook for 4 husband and I have that meal for dinner and pack the rest for lunch the next effectively I only need to cook once a day...'leftovers' sound my mind, there're not 'leftovers' if I planned to cook and eat them! They are 'just nice'!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

First things first..

so why do I write this blog? A combination of records for myself, a place to jot down recipes that I have tried and also hope to share these recipes with friends who would like to cook more... but I am aware what worked for me might not work for everyone (thought I'm tempted to think so!)...

So I guess maybe let me just chart down the things I have done when starting out? 

Getting the equipment sorted out...after reading about how harmful non stick cookware is, I wanted it out of the kitchen and my husband got a whole set of lodge cast iron cookware in varying sizes including a dutch oven...I must say that while I'm touched that he got them..I'm not particularly delighted with them for the following reasons... 

1. The strong iron smell 
2. The need to season the pans after every use
3. They are not pretty 
4. Tomatoes are a no-no in cast iron
5. They are heavy

My awesome husband did get me a enameled cast iron dutch oven for Christmas...and that is cleaner, prettier and yes, does not require any seasoning after use but has a tendency to burn....but I'm not sure if I am doing something wrong...perhaps the temperatures I'm using is too high....and in conclusion, enameled cast iron cookware would be my top choice....but I do miss my telfon pans...they were so easy to use...! 

Knives...we are currently using a couple of knives that my husband's chef friend got him...again, I'm not particularly enamoured and I think knives are very have to be comfortable with the weight of the blade and the balance and a high price tag does not signify a better utensil..I think I would get my mom to send me a chef's knife...maybe I just miss the one she has and am most comfortable using that....she uses one big chopper for almost everything.... 

we also got a lovely set of flatware from the in-laws for christmas...why is that essential? It's just something that I like and I believe that it's worth the investment for something which will last a good 25 years or so... 

as for's corelle hands down, lightweight and almost the stuff!

and finally, stocking up the of the first things I did was to collect a map from the supermarket so that I knew what they carried and where to get them...and also to build up all my 'Asian essentials' soy sauce, oyster sauce, corn starch, fish sauce and various herbs and spices... 

if you are looking to build up your essentials, I would say that it's things that you know you'd use on a regular basis...if you are not sure, just get a small sized version first....

and oh, this is the rest of the equipment we have in the kitchen: 

1. Fridge and freezer (would appreciate a larger freezer for the next one..) 
2. Conventional oven with grill 
3. Electric stove with 2 working burners (going to replace it soon with gas..) 
4. dish washer (which we hardly use)
5. Microwave (again, a gift from the very thoughtful in-laws)
6. toaster 
7. Coffee grinder
8. Coffee maker
9. Blender
10. Food processor
11. Sous Vide cooker!! (very excited about this new toy but haven't really cooked much with it..)
12. Slow cooker 
13. Blow Torch
14. Oven toaster 
15. Dehydrator 
16. Bread machine 
17. Aeropress..technically not a machine but something that we use everyday..I like it much more than the French press cos it's not sour... 
18. Wok (we got this one from Amazon...again, having to season after every use is a pain...oh, can someone come up with a safe non-stick alternative soon...?) 

It does seem like quite a lot huh... 

oh..and tools that I love? 

1. Microplane (makes such pretty shavings with hard cheeses and chocolate! And it's so easy to use!! So MUCH better than box graters!!) 

the other 'essential' tools are whisks (did you know that the best way to dry them to prevent rust is whisk side down?), metal mixing bowls, nesting glass mixing bowls, spatulas (a large and a medium..a small one would be good too..), tongs (big, medium and small)... 

If you're just starting out, just start slowly, get the stuff over time and don't be in a hurry to get everything all at once...and get to know the equipment cos there's no point in having alot of stuff and not knowing how to use them... :D 

My two cents for now... 

next post, I'll write about how I plan meals and how I cook... 

Friday, January 9, 2015

An introduction..

So Ison bistro is a bistro which usually serves all of one guest most days and up to three guests once a week... it is mostly a labour of love by a dietitian turned homemaker who hopes to serves up both delicious and healthy fare to her family and friends...

what's a good first post?

Maybe the husband's favourite dish so far...

Creamy chicken pie!

The recipe is from my uni days..