Addendum: Eat Pray Love Part IIA

Seems like yesterday I posted the second 'installment' in Eat Pray Love Part II. Even then I knew that I hadn't really shared all that I wanted to say... Anyway, last night I made the most delicious Butternut Squash soup. ( Which I will share at the end.) Scooping the baked squash into a red plastic bowl, my mind wandered back to eating in Asia....AGAIN! Thus this addendum: only this time we visit a special cooking school in Singapore.  There will be some cooking tips along the way, so if you like to eat, cook or just see photos of food follow along.

This is Samia Ahad owner of the Coriander Leaf restaurant and cooking school in Singapore. Sarah (my adventuresome daughter-in-law) arranged for us to take a one day cooking class. Samia's classes fill quickly, but there were two spots left. So LUCKY!! The classroom is set up adjacent to the restaurant and is perfect for watching Samia and her chefs prepare one amazing dish after another.

Students are seated at a large table attached to the cooking station. We are served beautifully presented dishes immediately after food is prepared. Looking back at this photo, I don't recall everyone BEING so SERIOUS!  Hey, cooking and eating are FUN FUN FUN , especially when someone else does it for you! 

This is the cooking station that has EVERYTHING any cook could wish for, including prepped ingredients. (You know like Martha Stewart.)  A fortunate woman  from our group was invited to participate, she is wearing  the plastic apron.  I preferred to eat and watch, thank you.  I would probably drop my knife on the floor, or worse yet, by virtue of habit, stick my finger into something yummy and tasted it!  GROSS!!

Talk about GROSS. My seat was directly adjacent to the cooking counter and this valiant crab. Poor creature was being prepared for Singapore's very famous dish,  Singapore Chili Crab.  It was for sure a CHILLY day when it was plucked from an aquarium of frantic fish.

Cooking tip:  to have succulent, shredded or diced chicken for a dish, first rub the chicken with salt and soy sauce and marinate for 30 minutes. Stuff the body cavity with garlic and ginger. Fold the legs in so the garlic and ginger do not tumble out. In a DEEP pot bring water to a boil over high heat.  Place the chicken into the pot, then immediately reduce the heat to a very low simmer. Weigh down the chicken so it is completely immersed in the water. Poach for one hour, turning chicken to cook evenly.  Carefully remove cooked chicken and dunk into ice bath, transfer to a dish. To keep the skin moist, rub with canola oil.

Want to cook a chicken breast, do the same thing, put into the boiling water/weigh down. Turn heat off and let stand in the hot water for 8 minutes with no additional heat. 

Cooking tip: Do you ever question when your pan, wok or grill is hot enough to put food in?  Turn heat to high, add oil wait a few minutes. The temperature is perfect if you can hold your hand above the hot oil for ten seconds.  My tip: You can also hold a wooden chop stick in the oil and when lots of little bubbles form around the chop stick it is hot enough to saute/fry.

Six dishes were prepared in front of our wondering eyes. All of our senses were totally rived up!  Asian food cooks quickly, it is the preparation that takes the time. Samia, like Martha or Rachel, has lots of help in the prep department.

A few photos of the food that was prepared and consumed with gusto by class participants. Presentation, serving plates, garnishes are part of the total Asian eating experience.

And after all the tasting during class,  we had a sit down meal......roll us home after this show of gluttony!  for the curious epicure.  Look for their class schedule, choose a class, book a flight and have an adventure of a life time!!

At the start of this writing, I mentioned that squash soup is what started me thinking about this Singaporean cooking adventure. Seems so ordinary now, but nevertheless best Sharon's Butternut soup yet!! 

GENERAL DIRECTIONS: (I don't write cookbooks, sorry.)

1 medium  butternut squash.  Wash well, cut into pieces. Line baking sheet with tinfoil. Lay the squash cut side up. Sprinkle liberally with salt, ground pepper and nutmeg.  Bake until very tender, this takes awhile. When cooled scoop the soft squash into a bowl (no squash skin please) and mash slightly. Meanwhile, saute a chopped small/medium onion until caramelized and sweet. To the cooked squash add the sweet onions, about 10 ounces of chicken broth and 1/2 can of well shaken coconut milk.  Puree in batches until very smooth. Adjust thickness and sweetness with more or less broth/coconut milk.  Heat gently. The thicker the soup, the more flavorful, no thin canned soup texture. Place in bowls, dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of nutmeg or your favorite fall spice. Yum this is delicious with crusty hot bread.


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Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you take to say hello. Warmly, Sharon