Friday, August 18, 2017

Spicy Smoked Duck, Chinese Mushrooms, Black Fungus Asian Thin Crust Pizza

As my friend Shannon says, "anything with smoked duck breast rocks!!" Yup, I fully agree and was happy to add it when I made another Asia-inspired pizza with my Mission Foods Pizza Crust - Spicy Smoked Duck Breast, Chinese Mushrooms, Black Fungus Asian Thin Crust Pizza.

It was as Singaporeans like to say, "Super Shiok!!" i.e. finger-licking, awesomely delicious hahaha.. (*^▽^*) The blend of Hoisin and Sweet Plum sauce makes for an interesting base and the duck fat formed a nice glaze over the pizza so even though I put it in the oven a little longer to make it extra-crispy, it wasn't too dry at all.


Prep time:
40 mins

Ingredients:
1 piece Mission Wholemeal Pizza Crust 10"
9 pieces of smoked duck breast {black-pepper}
3-4 pieces of small dried Chinese mushrooms
1 piece of large dried black fungus
3 pieces of dried Chinese chilli
1 tbs of Hoisin sauce
1 tbs of Sweet Plum sauce

Directions:
  1. Soak the Chinese mushrooms and black fungus for about 20 minutes, or until they become tender.  
  2. Remove the mushrooms and black fungus from the water and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
  3. Preheat the oven to 210°C.
  4. Slice the smoked duck breast and Chinese mushrooms into thick slices.
  5. Cut the black fungus and dried Chinese chilli into small pieces.
  6. Spread the pizza base evenly with Hoisin and Sweet Plum sauce, leaving about 2cm of pizza crust clear/
  7. Top with smoked duck breast, Chinese mushrooms, black fungus and dried Chinese chilli.
  8. Cook pizza in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes.
  9. Serve hot.
Giant and Fairprice supermarkets has promotions now and then for vacuum-packed, ready-to-eat smoked duck breast meat. They are pretty good value-for-money {2 boxes for S$8 if I remember correctly} to get them then I reckon and I usually have a few boxes in my fridge to add to my salads and home-cooked meals.

Kinda fatty, no doubt, but sometimes you just have to trade in calories for such succulent, mouthwatering goodness haha..

And oh, I was at Cold Storage yesterday and saw that they were having promotion for the Mission Food Wraps and Pizza Crusts too. From now until 31 Aug 2017, if you buy 2 packets of the Wraps or Pizza Crusts, you also get a free recipe book by Chef Wan, the Singapore-born Malaysian celebrity chef. 

Do check out my other Asian pizza recipe using Roast Pork, Chives and Cashews if you want a twist on the usual pizza recipes!

Seriously, that's the fun in making your own pizzas at home right?? You get to experiment and come up with your own fun mixes and flavours! °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Roast Pork, Chives & Cashews Asian Thin Crust Pizza

Last weekend, our home was filled with delicious smell of freshly baked pizza... oh bliss! It was a rather impromptu decision as I suddenly had a pizza-craving haha and didn't have many of my usual ingredients at home.

But luckily I had a few packets of the new Mission Foods Pizza Crust {which are thin-crusts.. yay!} and I made my own Roast Pork, Chives & Cashews Asian Thin Crust Pizza with some stuff I found in my fridge. Honestly, I wasn't sure how it'd turn out but surprisingly, it tasted reaaaaally good! ( ᐛ )و The fatty roast pork gave a rich, full flavour that worked well with the crunchy cashews and Hoisin sauce base.

Even Lil Pumpkin gobbled up half the pizza! I wasn't intending to feed it to her because I thought she wouldn't like the strange combination but once she smelt the aromatic pizza cooking, she asked to have it for lunch and devoured the pizza slices I gave her. And even asked for seconds #winning


Prep time:
30 mins

Ingredients:
1 piece Mission Wholemeal Pizza Crust 10"
5-6 pieces of roast pork {燒肉}
1/4 medium yellow capsicum
20 pieces of raw, unsalted cashews
1 stalk of chives
2 tbs of Hoisin sauce {I use Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce}

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 210°C.
  2. Chop the roast pork and capsicum to small chunks.
  3. Slice the chives, refresh in iced water and dry on paper towels.
  4. Spread the pizza base evenly with Hoisin sauce, leaving about 2cm of pizza crust clear/
  5. Top with roast pork, capsicum, and cashews.
  6. Cook pizza in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Scatter with chives and serve hot.
Errrm I actually cooked the chives with the rest of the ingredients but think it's better if it's added after the pizza is cooked so put it in the recipe above as such hehe. Also, do remember to check your pizza.

The thin crusts cook very fast and I like mine extra crispy so I left it in a little longer. If you don't want yours as hard, take it out earlier once the crust is cooked {recommended cooking time is 10 minutes}. 

Thin crust pizza bases are perfect for pizza lovers who prefer to taste more of the sauce and other toppings and don't want to be filled up too quickly. Not to mention, they also have lower calories than usual thick-crust pizzas. I love mine as thin and as crispy as possible.

Somehow, I find that some ready-made thin crust pizza bases are still just too thick while others break easily under the pressure of my favourite toppings! Pretty pleased with the Mission Foods Pizza Crusts as they are very convenient to use, cook fast and turn out cracker-crispy tasty! (*^▽^*) Available in two flavours - Plain and Wholemeal, each pack comes with two 10" shelf-stable {unfrozen} untopped pizza crusts.

I used the other pizza crust to make another Asian-inspired pizza using smoked duck, Chinese mushrooms and black fungue hehe.. I dare say it tasted amazing too so I will share it on the blog later this week as well. Look out for it! (´∇ノ`*)ノ

P.S. Speaking of "crazy experimental cooking", check out the Wriggly Monster Nuttella & Fruits Dessert Tortilla Wraps I made with Lil Pumpkin previously!


Friday, August 11, 2017

Benefits from Drinking Filtered Water + {Promo}

Living in Singapore, we're really lucky that our water is safe for consumption straight from the tap. According to PUB, our national water agency, Singapore's water is well within international guidelines set by the World Health Organisation, as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water standards.

However, that's not to say that it is totally safe harmful bacteria.

I mean, even if the water is safe to drink, the pipes that it travels through isn't always clean, right? I've never been totally convinced to drink directly from taps and have always filtered or boiled our water before drinking.

Water filtering can clear out many safety concerns like bacteria, heavy metals and pesticides. Some types of filters can do nearly everything. Others are specific to certain contaminants.

There are many benefits of drinking filtered water and if you're ever considering getting a home water filter system, these are some benefits that I read up about, 
  1. Water filters provide better tasting and better smelling drinking water by removing chlorine and bacterial contaminants. There really is a difference!
  2. Water filters provide clean, healthy water for cooking, drinking, cleaning etc. at the convenience of tap water.
  3. Compared to water purifiers, water filters remove the worst contaminants from your source water without removing the naturally occurring minerals, which are critical for optimal health.
  4. Save money as home filters result in a source of clean, healthy water that costs much less than bottled water.
  5. Save time from boiling water
My friend's home has a filter attached directly to her kitchen tap and the first time I saw it, I thought that it was really very useful!! Suaku me always used water filter pitchers and I didn't know there were devices like that haha...

We got for our home the Filtra Plus FWF 177 – Tap Water Filter from Filtech Singapore, which is a local company that specialises in providing affordable home water filter and purifiers of all variations ranging from faucets, pitchers, shower heads etc.

Designed in Japan, it has a 2-step Ultra Filtration system. As the water passes through,

Step 1: Uses activated carbon filtering for removal of residual chlorine and up to 99% of bacteria and impurities. This step also deodorizes, improves colour and taste of water.
Step 2: Uses a fine fibre micro-porous membrane to remove futher impurities while preserving necessary minerals.

We like that the FWF 177 – Tap Water Filter is compact, and comes with various sizes of tap adapters making it suitable for all kinds of faucets / taps so that we can move it around, if need be.

The boy also mentioned that installation is quick and simple, taking only around 10 mins? You can see the video above for instructions on how to install or this pictorial guide.

The FWF 177 – Tap Water Filter has a 3 mode-switch for Filtered, Unfiltered Shower and Unfiltered Stream.

I actually like to use the Unfiltered Shower mode when washing hands or dishes now as the water spray is softer {less splashing} and has a wider coverage.

One thing I think can be improved on the FWF 177 – Tap Water Filter is to have printed markings on the device to show which mode it is in. There's nothing to show which mode the filter is turned to and unless you've been using it for a while, you'll be none the wiser.

The FWF 177 – Tap Water Filter {S$39.90, U.P. S$59.90} comes with 1 filter unit, which should last approximately 4 months before you need to change it. Do note that it is very important to change your water filters regularly, as over time the filters will become clogged with sediments / contaminants and will not clean your water efficiently.

In the worst case scenario, bacteria may also breed with the dirty filters and you end up drinking even dirtier water!

FWF 177 – Tap Water Filter Replacement units are sold individually at S$14.90 {U.P. S$19.90}. Some filters come with indicators to note when you last changed your filter, but this one doesn't. You might just want to stick a washi tape on it with the date you changed the filter to serve as a little reminder. 

Lil Pumpkin and I are still very much used to water pitchers as we like our water cold {and are sometimes too lazy to get ice haha} so I got the Mitsu PWF 227 – Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher for our fridge too.

It's a fuss-free, hard plastic filter pitcher with a total capacity of 2.5L, out of which 1.3L filtered water can be stored. The instant refill blue lid allows for quick and convenient way of refilling water without the hassle of removing the whole cover, and the water seeps through the filter pretty quickly.

It uses a 3-step water filtration system that's different from the FWF 177 – Tap Water Filter:

Step 1: Water is purified and decontaminated through to remove heavy metal like copper and lead. While removing these heavy metal, innocuous ions are replaced by potassium and sodium ions. These ions carry electrolytes which are beneficial to our nervous system.
Step 2: Activated carbon will then remove chlorine and other sediments while at the same time clearing away bad odor and improving taste.
Step 3: Antioxidants remove contaminants from the water and it also creates strong antioxidants which create alkaline ionized water.

It's very convenient and easy enough for kids like Lil Pumpkin to use. Sometimes when she sees that it's almost empty, she will also help to fill it up.

The Mitsu PWF 227 – Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher {S$44.90, U.P. S$64.90} also comes with 1 filter unit, which should last approximately 3 months before you need to change it. Replacement filters are also sold individually at S$19.90.

Filtech Singapore also sells water filter show heads that removes impurities and bad odour from the water you use to shower to promote metabolism and reduce fatigue. The boy already bought a set from another shop so we didn't get it from them. Filtech Singapore is selling it pretty cheap though, from as low as S$9.90.

As you can see above, they are also currently having discounts on their other water filter products, and coupled with my promo code below for extra savings, you get a pretty good deal if you want to set up your own home water filter system. Check out Filtech Singapore website for more product variety and information!

Promo: Quote "Sakura10" for 10% OFF all Filtech Singapore water filter products. No validity end date. Free delivery for orders above S$50.

*Disclosure: This is a review for Filtech Singapore. All opinions are my own.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Go Local :: Raffles Hotel Singapore's "A Last, Lingering Look at an Icon" Tour

On Monday night, Lil Pumpkin and I went down to Raffles Hotel Singapore to take "A Last, Lingering Look at an Icon" before it closes completely for restoration at the end of the year.

It was preview for a newly-launched guided tour by National Heritage Board {NHB} and Raffles Hotel Singapore. Held from Aug 1 to 12 daily, visitors can trace the footsteps of many VIPs that have entered the doors of the hotel that once faced the sea before the hotel starts Phase 2 of its restoration works on the main hotel building and Lobby, as well as a portion of the hotel suites.

Following that, Raffles Hotel Singapore will close for the final phase near the end of 2017 before a grand reopening in the second quarter of 2018.

{Raffles Hotel in present day}
I personally find it very important that Lil Pumpkin experiences and learns more about Singapore's colourful culture and heritage as much as she can.. I mean, living in a young country like Singapore that is constantly striving to progress and develop, things change very fast.

At the blink of an eye, places disappear, buildings get torn down, landscapes transform.. a lot of times, if we don't make an effort to go out and catch a glimpse or experience something for ourselves, what we have or see now will most likely be relegated to our history books in the future.

{Raffles Hotel in 1950s}
It was a real treat to enter and walk around Raffles Hotel Singapore and explore spaces that are rarely opened to the public...

While the public are free to roam the Raffles Hotel Shopping Arcade and its dining facilities like the Long Bar or Tiffin Room, inside the main building of the hotel and the Lobby are exclusive to hotel guests and their visitors.

Unless you've a reason to be there e.g. to stay, attend a wedding, meet someone who is a hotel guest, attend a tour etc., you won't have the privilege to enter at will and enjoy the ambiance, the service, the charm and the heritage of the hotel.

{Long Bar in late 1970s}
Opened in 1887, Raffles Singapore is one of the few remaining great 19th century hotels in the world. Till today, its architecture is perfectly preserved both inside and out, giving it an intoxicating blend of luxury, history and classic colonial design. Within its walls are 103 expansive suites, framed by polished teak verandas and white marble colonnades, clustered around lush tropical gardens.

In 1987, a hundred years after its founding, Raffles Hotel was gazetted as a National Monument and has undergone changes and additions to its original building over the years, as part of its upgrading.

We started off by visiting a recreation of the room where one of Raffles Hotel Singapore's famous guests - writer and Nobel Laureate, Rudyard Kipling, stayed in 1889.. just 2 years after the hotel opened.

The recreation is based on Kipling's recorded remarks of his stay in his travel log that he kept. It looked like a scene from when he just got out of bed, with fresh bread and coffee for breakfast, and a pot of curry from last night's dinner on his bedside table.

I was pretty surprised that the food props are all fresh, real food and Lil Pumpkin even commented that they smelt delicious haha...

In the adjoining room, we saw some of Kipling's works and some old photographs of the beach scenes he might have seen when he looked out of his room window as well, in case you didn't know, Raffles Hotel was originally a 10-room beach-front bungalow and the beach actually reached up to where the current South Beach Club {former SAF NCO clubhouse - where I first started to train for competitive swimming!!} is.

After that we stepped next door and learnt more about the history of Raffles Hotel, and its surrounding areas, through the crockery and food served at the Coronation of King George VI, and many others.

The elaborate menus of the events held at Raffles Hotel over the years offered a glimpse into the signature of these events.

One special dish mentioned was the "Turtle Soup" which is very different from the Asian version that we are so used to in Singapore.. but just as exotic and delicious apparently and was popular with the British royalty. It was made from a 100lb turtle and served during the Silver Jubilee dinner of King George V in 1935.

When you go for the tour, don't miss a replica of the late Lee Kuan Yew's wedding cake, minus the famous "Stikfas" {his glue company during WWII} logo sticker hehe. He had his wedding there on 30 Sep 1950

The second part of the tour was led by Mr Roslee, one of the hotel's resident historian who has worked there for the past 15 years.

You know a hotel has legit heritage when they have their own team of resident historians haha.

I really liked this part as we got to see the grand Sarkies Suite {named after the founders}, one of the hotel's presidential suites where even Prince William and his wife Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton stayed during their 2012 visit.

As we walked through, we were told that while the hotel's architecture and exterior will remain the same after the restoration due to its status as a National Monument, the interior and furniture would likely change.

For example, the handwoven Persian rugs and some of the antique furniture that we saw in the Sarkies Suite will no longer be present after the restoration..

These 2 weeks are the last time we would see and appreciate the interior of Raffles Hotel Singapore as it is now.

Upon hearing that, it really brought some pangs to my heart as I'm reminded once again that change is inevitable, and time stands still for no man...

After that we went to the Hall of Fame to see some of the many famous celebrities and personalities that the hotel has played host to - Queen Elizabeth II, George Lucas, Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Elizabeth Taylor, Karl Lagerfeld, just to name a few.. 

I'm glad that Lil Pumpkin was very engaged with the tour, listened to the guide and kept asking questions...

The tour might not be suitable for younger children though as space is limited, the group moves at a fast pace and most of the exhibits are not interactive and kids being kids.. well, it's hard to keep their tiny hands from trying to touch everything!  

"A Last, Lingering Look at an Icon" exhibition and tour is curated by the Preservation of Sites and Monuments in NHB and guided by its volunteers. Tickets are priced at S$12 and include a delectable kaya souvenir.

Unfortunately, even at the time of the preview, all the tours were booked out due to overwhelming response. I doubt that there will be additional tours added, but do visit Raffles Hotel Singapore website to keep up to dates with news on its restoration works, and grand opening in 2018.

I'm sure that there would be new and interesting tours then, which you definitely don't want to miss! See more photos from  "A Last, Lingering Look at an Icon" exhibition and tour in the video above or on my YouTube channel if it isn't playing well.


Have you seen Hasbro's FIRST ever animated digital series HANAZUKI Full of Treasures yet? ✨Available free on YouTube, the story revolves around an adorable Moonflower, Hanazuki, who discovers herself through her courageous adventures of saving the entire galaxy with the magical powers of her various moods. @lovelilpumpkin insisted on bringing out her new Little Dreamer plushie {one of the main characters in Hanazuki} out with us tonight haha.. She's also wearing the Hanazuki Moongleam Wearable wristband that lights up! You can attach the matching "treasures" {comes with 2, or buy blind packs to collect more} to make the wristband glow in the colour matching tt treasure! 💫 Very pretty and we can even connect it to the downloadable Hanazuki app via Bluetooth, and explore various light displays & in-app surprises 👍🏻 Saw online that there's many more cute Hanazuki toys available & I hope they bring them all in to SG soon! 💕🌸 #sakuraharuka #hanazuki #kidstoys @hasbrosingapore @hasbro
A post shared by Ai Sakura  (@aisakuraharuka) on
P.S. If you were wondering about the doll Lil Pumpkin was carrying around that night, it's from Hanazuki, a new anime series from Hasbro haha..

*Disclosure: Unless otherwise stated, images belong to Raffles Hotel Singapore. All opinions are my own.