Meeting friends in Singapore.

 

I have been in Singapore for the last 3 days and in those three days I have had lots of fun exploring this wonderful city and all it has to offer. One of the great things about traveling is that at times the universe throws something out at you and you are happy to catch it.  To my surprise I had friends spending time in Singapore for business.  My friend Aarti Sequeira the star of the Food Network Show Aarti Parti and film maker Brendan McNamara were in town at the same time I was in Singapore.  What are the chances!  We had a quick bite at the Marina Sands Bay hotel.  We chatted and caught up about what was happening is our lives as we enjoyed Western and Asian breakfast foods.

It was just for an hour but it was great to catch up with them.

As a gift Brendan gave me a pin from his last film, “The Light of Love” and even got a pin from Brendan’s next film coming out later this year.

I don’t know the name but all I know is that it is about 7 parties,  2 friends, 1 year, 0 love.

Singapore in 36 hours Part 1

I had the opportunity to visit Singapore recently.  It is an amazing city to eat and shop. It is pristine, safe, and boy do those people know how to cook.  The first day I arrived I headed out to do some touristy activities instead of starting to visit restaurants and chefs.

I towed my camera in my bag and I went to the Marina Bay area.  You can get there by bus or subway.  In the Marina Bay area they have the world’s largest Ferris wheel called the Singapore flyer.  It reaches 42 stories high, about 541 ft.  It is 16 ft taller than the Star of Nanchang and 98 ft taller than the London Eye.  It took $33.00 and the ride takes about a half an hour from start to finish.  It was worth it.  I went during theday but I have been told that the view is amazing in the evening.

After you are done enjoying the Singapore Flyer, follow the signs and walk across the bridge and visit the bar called Ku DÉ TA.  It is a bar perched on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino.  It doesn’t cost anything to go up to the bar but I recommend that you purchase a cocktail or two and take in the sweeping views of the city.  While you are there  you can see the infinity pool that seems to float above Singapore.

During the day, it is acceptable for your attire to be shorts and t-shirts to enjoy the bar.  If you go the bar after 6:00 p.m. there is a strict dress code, no shorts, t-shirts, and they suggest what they call “casual chic.”  For information purposes only, there is a Sky Park on one side of the building but you have to pay

$20 admission but it is only an observation deck and you can get a better view of the city if you take that $20 and buy a cocktail at Ku DÉ TA.

You will not be able to enjoy the pool unless you are a guest in the hotel.

When leave the bar you will take the elevator down and you will arrive in the lobby of the Marina Sands Hotel.  Ask the attendants if they can direct you to the Gardens by the bay.

There is a pedestrian bridge that will take you to the gardens in the middle of the hotel.

You can walk around the Gardens by the bay without having to pay an admission fee but if you want to enter some of the  conservatories the prices vary.

My favorite was the Supertree Grove.

 

If you stay in the area and decide to explore the mall that is in the hotel you are in for a treat! You will spend hours shopping.  If you decide  to have dinner at a restaurant that evening, Guy Savoy, Daniel Boulud and Mario Batali have outposts there as well as many other celebrity chefs.  In fact one of the top 50 restaurants in Asia is in the mall and it is called Waku Ghin.

 

Singapore Flyer

Address:  30 Raffles Avenue Singapore 039803

The Gardens by the bay

Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive
Singapore 018953

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Address: 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956

KU DE TA at Marina Bay Sands North Tower

Address: 1 Bayfront Avenue Singapore 018971

 

Taking a detour might be a good idea

 

 

 

 

I am on my way home to Atlanta from a weekend at my farm.  It is always dreamy there for me.  The fog rolls in unannounced many times but I accept it as normal.  I sat on the porch and watched the fog meander into the valley while sipping some very needed Kentucky Bourbon.  I needed to get away to a place which always stays the same, constant and is relaxing.  This farm is that place.  There is nothing pretentious about the farm.  I feel that the farm has its own personality and I at times personify it. It’s just a place where you go and just be.  I reconnect with myself by disconnecting with my Iphone and I also reconnect with nature.

On my way home, I decided to take a detour off my regular route to visit this town that I have seen signs for many times on my travels from the farm to Atlanta.

I stopped in this small town called Bell Buckle.  I was interested in investigating the historical downtown.

 

 

A lovely line of antique stores populated the down town strip as well as small restaurants.  I found my way to a store called Blue Bird Antiques.  My surprise when I entered the store was that it not only had great antiques but it also had a grocery store, they sold ice cream, home made fudge and made fresh to order waffle cones.

I decided to have some ice cream since the woman behind the counter was making fresh waffle cones.

I ordered a raspberry jam and chocolate vanilla ice cream.  It is their most popular and I agreed that it was delicious.  The jam mixed in the ice cream did give me some ideas of my own when I make ice cream at my own kitchen.  The store not only sold antiques but they sold moon pies in all types of flavors. It was run by two older married couple. They were very southern and very sweet and they convinced me to stay and chat for a while – and I did.

We chatted about the store and how long they were married as I enjoyed my home-made ice cream and hand crafted waffle cone.  I think at times in your life you need to leave the common path you walk and take a detour and see where it leads – for me it led to a hand crafted ice cream and home-made waffle cone and wonderful conversation with wonderful country folk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled corn with spicy lime butter

 

During the hot summer months when corn is at its peak in flavor, I like to make this lazy side dish.  Everyone at gatherings enjoys this dish and even the most inexperienced cook make this and look like a rock star.  I make the Spicy lime butter the day before and who doesn’t like to “do ahead” recipes.

For the original post where this recipe came from please click here.

 

6-8 ears of corn with husks on

1/2 lb of unsalted butter (2 sticks)  at room temperature

3  teaspoons of chili powder

1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 1/2 -2 limes zested

1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

1/4 cup of olive oil

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together except the corn and set aside.

Pre-heat your grill on medium high.  Take some olive oil and rub it over the corn.  Place the corn on the grill and cook them for 25 -35 minutes.  When the corn is done.  Serve the corn with the spicy lime butter.

 

 

 

How to make mini Lasagna

Last year I went to Old Time Pottery and I purchased these colorful crocks. They were $1.50 each.  I bought 40 of them since they would be great for friend and family gatherings.

 

This weekend I am having my family over for dinner and I wanted to make these ahead and pop them in the oven right before we are about to eat.  That way I can enjoy them and not be tied up in the kitchen.

First I made the ricotta filling which I like to add a little sour cream, mozzarella and an egg or two to bind the ricotta. If you don’t want to use ricotta you can use cottage cheese. Just give it a few pulses in the food processor.  For color I added a fresh chiffonade of basil.  It adds a great green color but you can use dried basil too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I first start with cooking the onions and one they soften I add the tomato sauce and the cinnamon.  Then you add the raw beef right into the tomato sauce.  People like to brown the meat first but my Cuban father who has made ground beef in a dish called picadillo for 55 years has never browned the meat.  He cooks the meat in the sauce and the flavor he gets is amazing. Remember the principal of interchangeability.  You don’t have to add ground beef, you can also add turkey or Italian sausage.  This whole process is pretty easy and should not take you more than 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you are making lasagna the first step always is to set up everything up on a table so you have everything you need to make the dish.

First ladle the sauce into the container the lasagna will be cooked in, if not the pasta will burn.  After you ladle the sauce, you will break a piece of the Barilla no-boil lasagna noodle.  The pieces will not fit perfectly and it is ok if they overlap.

 

 

 

 

 

Mini lasagna

 

 

 

 

 

The next layer is ricotta cheese mixture then add the sauce on top then the lasagna noodle.  You continue this process until the container is full remembering that the last layer should be ricotta filling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The noodles I usually use are from Barilla.  The no-boil lasagna noodles.  They are thin and look like the noodles are home made. Tightly wrapped in plastic they last 3 months in the freezer.

For the mini lasagna recipe click here.

 

Quick easy make ahead lasagna

 

This is a make ahead recipe that you can have in the freezer for 2 months.  Make sure the lasagna is tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and when you are ready to enjoy it…pull it out of the freezer and throw it into the oven. You can use smaller container like I did which controls the portions or you can make it in a 9 x 13 size pan.  To read the original blog post click here.

Chef Alexis quick & easy lasagna

1 1/2 lb of Italian sausage removed from their casings

3 garlic coves

4 oz of milk

1 cup of chopped onion (about 1 small onion)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

3 tablespoon of olive oil

25 oz jar of store bought marinara sauce

16 oz of ricotta

2 tablespoons of dried basil

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

1 large egg

1 tablespoon of kosher salt

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

1 box of no boil lasagna noodles like Barilla brand

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the olive oil, cinnamon and the onions  for 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for addition one minute.  Add the store-bought marinara sauce to the pan.  Bring to a boil then add the sausage, milk and the soy sauce.  Lower the heat to medium and with a fork break apart the sausage and cook for 30 minutes.

 

Mean while take a bowl and add the egg and whisk it.  Add to it the ricotta , mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper, basil and combine the mixture well.

Take 9 x 13 pan and spread the sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Then take the no boil lasagna noodles and create one layer.  Take the ricotta mixture and create another layer.  Do this until you use all the product and the last layer is the Ricotta mixture. If using the dish right away place in a 400 F oven and cook for 30 minutes. 

If freezing the lasagna, once the lasagna has cooled, cover tightly with plastic and place in the freezer for up to 2 months.  When ready to serve, pull lasagna out of the freezer and let stand at room temperature for one hour.  Place in a 400F oven and cook for 30-45 minutes or until the lasagna is warm all the way through.

 

For the original blog post, please click here.