Recipes from a Singapore kitchen

Sour Cream Biscuits

March 15th, 2012 | Posted by yvonne in Shophouse Bakery - (1 Comments)

sour cream biscuits

These breakfast biscuits have a serious history with me. It started long ago (way long ago) when I worked as a counter girl at the Pastry Garden bakery in Poughkeepsie, NY. After my first bite of one of these fresh from the oven, I was immediately obsessed. Slightly crisp on the outside, and moist, buttery, sweet, and slightly tangy on the inside. I knew I’d never get the recipe from them so I vowed that I would figure it out myself somehow. I experimented a few times at home and then gave up. It was easier to just buy ‘em.

Years later when I opened my own bakery, these were the first item that I added to the menu. After many more attempts at playing detective in the kitchen, I finally perfected a version that made me happy. And it made my customers happy. Really happy. While I owned Desserticus, these were hands down the most popular pastry that I sold. I carried countless pans of these biscuits, hot from the oven, up the stairs from my basement kitchen, and into the pastry case. Especially when they’re warm it’s impossible not to gobble it down and then ask for another. For years, I’ve had numerous requests for the recipe-so here it is!

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the mixer. Mix for 10 seconds on medium-low speed to combine the dry ingredients. Add the cubes of cold unsalted butter (if you only have salted butter on hand then omit the salt in the recipe). Mix on medium-low speed until there aren’t any more visible lumps of butter and the mixture looks like grated Parmesan cheese. Don’t overmix and let the dough clump up.

Proper consistency of mixture after butter has been added

Now add the sour cream and egg yolk, and mix just until it comes together and there aren’t any streaks of sour cream. The dough may look craggy–that’s okay. It shouldn’t be completely smooth. Roll it out into a slab on a floured surface to about 1-inch thick.

Roll out to 1-inch thick

Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter (or a glass like I did) and stamp out 8 biscuits. Gently re-roll scraps if you need to. Place on a parchment paper lined pan, equally spaced from each other. Brush with cream and sprinkle with Demerara sugar or Sugar in the Raw to give the biscuits a nice crunchy top. Regular sugar can be substituted, if that’s what you have on hand. The result will be sugary and crackly, not crunchy.

Brush biscuits with cream

Sprinkle with Sugar in the Raw

Bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven. After they bake, cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool another 5 to 10 minutes (if you can wait that long!). Fresh baked, they are super tender and light, tangy from the sour cream, and with just a touch of sweetness. They taste awesome plain as they are, or can be served with jam or butter. The next day you can re-crisp them in the oven.

biscuits after baking

biscuits with jam

Sour Cream Biscuits

Makes 8 3-inch biscuits


1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup cold full fat sour cream

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon heavy cream

2 tablespoons Demerara sugar, or Sugar in the Raw

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on medium-low speed to combine, about 10 seconds.
  3. Add butter cubes and continue to mix until no lumps of butter remain and the mixture resembles grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Add sour cream and yolk, and mix until dough comes together and no streaks of sour cream remain.
  5. Roll out onto a floured surface to 1-inch thick. Stamp out 8 biscuits with a floured 2 1/2-inch cutter (or glass). Space evenly apart on prepared baking sheet.
  6. Brush with cream and sprinkle with Demerara sugar. Bake until light golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool biscuits on pan 5 minutes, then remove biscuits to cool on wire rack.







March 13th, 2012 | Posted by yvonne in 1000 Days - (0 Comments)


Vietnam street food--crisp wafer cookies

We just got back home to Singapore from 8 days in Saigon and Dalat last week and figured I should post some pics before they wind up just sitting in iPhoto. The trip was truly amazing. When I moved to Singapore I had never stepped foot in Asia before. My husband jokes that Singapore is like “my first Asia” and he’s right. It’s an easy move from a Western country. Singapore is clean, safe and most everyone speaks English. Outside of visiting Malacca and Tioman Island in Malaysia (which is right next door to Singapore), Vietnam was a giant leap forward.The first thing that hits you is all the motorbikes. Thousands of them! And because there aren’t many street lights, the only way to cross the street is to hold your bags close and just jump right in. If you go slow and steady they’ll miraculously avoid you. If you stop in the middle of the street you’ll have a good chance of getting hit!

Alley for the Diep Anh Hotel

Streets of Saigon

One reason to go is the delicious Vietnamese coffee. It’s super strong and sweetened with condensed milk (if you don’t already know). Towards the end of the trip I slurped up an unfortunate fly in the straw of my ice coffee. I surprisingly got over it fast, reasoning that it was the first time ever, and that I’m surprised it hadn’t happened sooner. Anyway, I didn’t swallow it at least.

Another reason is the food, which if not amazing all of the time, is 100% authentic. Take pho bo, the beef noodle soup that’s synonymous with Vietnamese cuisine. I slurped it 5 or 6 times while I was there–in pho restaurants, rustic rest stop restaurants on the side of the road, and side alley pho. For the most part these phos were just okay-the beef was kind of scrappy and tough, the broth a bit watered down, and the side plate of greens mostly lettuce leaves instead of sprouts and basil. — The side alley pho that I had in Dalat was the best-the broth was beefy and sweet, with chunks of tender brisket and a big plate of greens (mostly lettuce). I still think Boston makes a damn good pho. The broth is rich with lots of rare, tender beef, and the side plates are piled high with sprouts and basil.

Pho at Pho Quyen, Saigon


BBQ wild boar--vagely porkish and very chewy


Tram Chim, Saigon


Pho in Dalat

Late night Banh Mi

We bummed around Saigon for a few days, drinking lots of 50 cent beer, accidentally finding ourselves in a sort of Vietnamese version of “Hooters” (I was drawn in by the whole baby pig on the bbq), and visiting the war remnants museum (it was interesting to see how the Vietnam war is represented in Vietnam). And I can’t forget the late night Banh Mi after drinking loads of the ridiculously cheap alcohol. The heat, humidity, and mopeds were a little draining, so we set off for the cooler temperatures of Dalat, a mountain town just north of Saigon. The  8 hour bus ride which was tortuous for me because I had a really bad cough that week, and I’m sure all the people on the bus wish I had a face mask with all my hacking. We stayed 3 days, soaking up the crisp dryish air, sipping a $2 bottle of an almost undrinkable and sherry-like Dalat wine, drinking some awesome coconut custard dessert drinks at a night sidewalk cafe, sampling street food, and taking a bike trip through the local mountain side to check out a coffee plantation, silkworm factory. The most awkward part of the bike trip was visiting a “minority village”. The people who live there are super friendly but extremely poor, and it was unclear whether we were supposed to give them money or not.

Easy rider bike tour

Dalat street food

Dalat street food


Dalat produce

Dalat produce


The highlight in Dalat was the night time sidewalk dessert cafe:

Pots of custardy dessert drinks flavored with pandan and coconut

night time sidewalk dessert cafe


After getting back to Saigon, we stayed again in the terrific Diep Anh Hotel. And even after sitting on the bus for another 8 hours, I immediately booked a day trip to the Mekong Delta the very next day. Mostly bus, but part boat ride, highlights were visiting a rice paper factory and seeing the floating markets. You can tell what the boat is selling by whatever they’ve stuck to the end of a long pole.


Pulling the moist rice paper crepe from the steamer


Laying the rice paper out to dry

Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta


Mekong Delta

By far the strangest thing that I saw that day were the women selling meat in an open air market in the Delta. They were either sitting right on top of the counter with the meat, or perched in a hammock directly overhead.

Resting in hammock

We’d been on a search for a great Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancake) and finally found it on our last day in what looked like the Japanese quarter of Saigon. We can’t wait to go back to try more food!

Banh Xeo


Vietnamese pancake


Yummy ham for the Banh Mi


Jambon Banh Mi


Lemon Cordial

March 6th, 2012 | Posted by yvonne in Drinks - (0 Comments)

Lemonade by the glass

This is one of the most refreshing drinks that you can make. Tangy lemon cordial is a concentrated lemonade syrup that allows you to stir up a glass at a time without having to take up a ton of space in the fridge! This makes around 1 1/2 pints total and the ratio is a snap to remember: equal parts sugar, water, lemon juice.  It’s easy to make (especially if you get your little helpers to squeeze lemons for you) and it keeps for weeks in the fridge.

To start, squeeze 1 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice. It took about 10-12 lemons to achieve this. You can also substitute lime juice for all or part of the lemon juice.

squeeze 1 1/2 cups juice

Next, heat 1 1/2 cups water with 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons citric acid, stirring gently, until it comes to a simmer and the sugar is dissolved. Citric acid adds a really nice zingy tang to the cordial. It’s the powdered form of a natural acid that’s found in citrus fruits. You can find it in the supermarket, baking supply store, or online.

Add 1 1/2 cups sugar and 2 teaspoons citric acid to 1 1/2 cups water

I found this in my local bakery supply store

After the mixture has just come to a simmer and the sugar is dissolved, let it cool for about 10 minutes and then stir in the lemon juice.

Stir in the lemon juice

Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then use a funnel to pour into a clean bottle. I found that a 750ml bottle of Jack Daniels fits the door of my fridge perfectly. Store the bottle in the fridge.

Use a funnel to pour into clean bottle

To serve, I use about 1/4 cup of cordial to 8 ounces of water, but you can adjust the ratio to you your liking. Sometimes I’m in the mood for just a hint of flavor in my glass of water. Enjoy!



1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons citric acid

1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice


1. Heat water with sugar and citric acid until mixture just comes to simmer and sugar is dissolved, stirring gently. Let cool 10 minutes.

2. Stir in lemon juice and cool to room temperature.

3. Pour into clean, dry bottle and store in refrigerator.







Soy Sauce Eggs

December 8th, 2011 | Posted by yvonne in Food - (1 Comments)

the ultimate umami egg

Anyone who knows me knows about my obsession with eggs. I will happily eat eggs every day whether it’s morning, day, or night (sometimes in succession), so I felt it fitting that the first recipe for this blog would feature the egg. When I moved to Singapore I was quite happy to find that Singaporeans also share my obsession. Almost every hawker stand sells them in some form or another: in carrot cake omelettes, char kway teow, a simple fried egg as an added touch to a dish, or a quartered century old egg on the top of a big steaming bowl of pork congee (so far I’ve been too afraid to try the century old egg).

At the moment though, the egg that has me completely enamored is the soy egg. I tried it for the first time a few weeks ago in a bowl of Japanese ramen. Also called a “seasoned egg”, this hard-boiled egg is just about completely brown from being marinated in soy sauce. I’ve been completely addicted to these eggs ever since. This is the ultimate umami egg.

To make a soy egg, you  just have to hard boil an egg, peel it and marinate it. The egg will get saltier the longer it sits in the soy, so I’d advise only making what you think you’ll eat over the course of a few days. This recipe is for 4 eggs.

Place the eggs in a medium saucepan and just cover them with cold water. Heat on medium-high until the water just comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let them sit for about 9 minutes. I like my hard boiled eggs a bit on the undercooked side, but if you want them fully cooked, let them sit for another minute (10 minutes total).

Submerge the eggs in an ice bath for another 10 minutes. Shocking the eggs in ice water stops the cooking and helps the eggs peel easier.

After the eggs are peeled, place them in a jar. A pint jar worked for 4 eggs. Pour the soy sauce, water, and sesame oil over the top. The first time that I tried to make these, I used straight soy sauce, but this made the eggs way to salty by the time they had browned through. I found that 1 part water to 3 parts soy is the way to go. I also really like the flavor that a small amount of sesame oil adds. You can add any number of ingredients to this such as ginger, pepper, some brown sugar, scallions, etc… but I like the purity of the soy and sesame.

Put the lid on the jar and gently turn the jar upside down to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate the eggs for 1 to 3 days. Especially if you use a larger jar, you’ll find that the eggs will float and won’t be completely covered in the marinade. Just give the jar a turn every time you remember it, to move the eggs around.

After 24 hours, the eggs will be beginning to turn brown, and can be eaten at this point, though they won’t be completely flavored. I think they hit their peak flavor between 2 and 3 days. The white firms up slightly from sitting in the salty soy. These pics are of a 3 day egg.  You can also see how the yolk is a little bit undercooked here. I find it a little bit creamier and less pasty than a fully cooked hard boiled egg.

If you want to enjoy them in ramen, leave them whole and let them sit in the hot soup a few minutes so that they warm through and soften slightly. You could also slice and eat them in a salad, but to be honest they really don’t need anything at all–they’re great for snacking  just on their own.


Soy Sauce Eggs


4 large eggs

3/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil


  1. Place eggs in medium saucepan and cover by 1/2 an inch with water. Heat over medium-high heat until it just comes to full boil. Turn off heat and let sit 9 minutes for just undercooked hard boiled egg/10 minutes for fully cooked hard boiled egg.
  2. Submerge eggs in ice water bath and let sit 10 more minutes.
  3. Peel and rinse eggs, and place in jar.
  4. Pour soy sauce, water, and sesame oil over eggs and screw on lid. Turn jar over once or twice to distribute marinade.
  5. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 days, turning jar occasionally so eggs are marinated evenly. Serve.