Saturday morning, 7 May 2011, marks a significant day in Singapore politics. It is the country’s polling day, a day that comes once every five years. More importantly, it is the first time many Singaporeans actually get to cast their vote.
Sunday morning, 8 May 2011, marks the dawning of a new era – a watershed in Singapore’s history – a full GRC (Group Representative Constituency) is won by an opposition party; 6 parliamentary seats were awarded to the Workers Party instead of the incumbent, the most number of seats won by the opposition since Singapore’s independence. I’m both proud and pleased with the progress that Singapore has made. GE 2011 has opened the floodgates of interest and concern in Singapore politics. Our people have spoken and we now have a voice like never before.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this milestone than a day in the kitchen.
Starting off the warm afternoon with a simple refreshing salad with a mix of baby spinach, kalamanta olives, sun-dried tomatoes and slices of beet…
Coupled with grilled zucchini that were mandolined lengthwise and tossed with cherry tomatoes. The red-and-green combination reminds me of my favourite holiday season – Christmas.
Oh and I prepared a salmon gravalax inspired by Jamie Oliver that has been sitting in the fridge for over two nights. This afternoon, all I had to do was to reap the bounty of my efforts. The cured salmon revealed a deep hue of blushing red fading away to flushing orange. How that reminds me of the sunset!
The exciting bit is always left to the last – torching the swirls of the italian meringues. I like playing with fire, every once in a while. Torching the Italian meringues makes me feel naughty like a destroyer; it gives me a weird perverse pleasure when I get to burn things. Ha!
Curiously, burning sugar seems like the one thing that would reward you handsomely. Sometimes that makes me wonder about the concept of creating/destroying.
Armed with these goodies in hand, we headed to Fort Canning Park to enjoy a wonderful evening with Macbeth and the stars, not forgetting the almost unbearable sweltering heat.
150g Unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
90g Icing sugar, sifted
250g Plain flour
30g Ground almond meal
1 whole egg
a few drops of vanilla extract
200g Unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
125g Caster sugar
125ml Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
80g Egg white
160g Caster sugar
1. Rub in method: Rub together the butter and sugar. Then add in the other dry ingredients. Do not overwork the dough.
2. Add just enough egg for the mixture to bind. Roll out into a flat disk and cling wrap it before leaving it in the refrigerator to rest for at least half an hour. Check out my previous entry for detailed method on pate sable.
3. Bake the tartlettes in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celcius for about 15 minutes.
1. Put the lemon juice, caster sugar, and eggs into a stainless steel bowl. Whisk them over a bain-marie.
2. At first, the mixture will go frothy and bubbly. Continue whisking until it thickens until a ribbon stage. This means that as you lift the whisk from the mixture, it will fall back upon itself but should leave a trail or ‘ribbon’ across the surface. This ribbon will not immediately sink back in on itself but will hold firm.This will take a while so be patient.
3. Take the thickened mixture off heat and add in the cubed butter and whisk until incorporated. Cool slightly before filling in baked tart shells.
1. Put in the water and caster sugar into a clean, grease-free pot. Do not stir mixture to prevent crystalisation of sugar. Cook to a soft-ball stage or until 118 degrees celcius. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar as it boils.
2. Start whisking the egg whites until soft peak stage only when the thermometer shows that syrup is at 100 degrees celcius.
3. Once the sugar syrup reaches 118 degrees celcius, take it off the heat and allow the syrup to stop bubbling so rapidly before pouring into the egg whites. Turn the speed of the mixer to max speed while you pour the sugar syrup in a slow and steady stream. Continue to whisk the egg whites at maximum speed until stiff peaks. Then turn down to a low-medium speed and whisk until meringue is cool before using.
4. Fill a piping bag with the italian meringue and pipe over the lemon curd. Using a blow-torch, glaze the meringues.