Cooking the Perfect Steak!

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Cooking the Perfect Steak!

There’s nothing more impressive than being able to cook a mouth-watering and juicy steak for your sweet valentine! Cooking an elegant piece of beef steak can be quite daunting for a beginner, especially when just a difference of a minute can determine whether your meat will come out rare, medium-rare or well-done.

Fret not, we’ve got you covered with this guide! So beat the queues this coming Valentine’s Day with a romantic home-cooked dinner with your special someone.

1. Selecting the Prize

With many different parts, it can be challenging trying to recall the differences between each type of cut. As a general guideline, you should keep these pointers in mind no matter what you are buying:

  • The meat should be in good colour (not pale) and appear moist but not wet.
  • The edges of the meat should be evenly cut instead of ragged.
  • If it’s pre-packaged, avoid those with tears or with liquids at the bottom of the tray.
  • It should also feel firm and cold to the touch.

If you’re looking for a quick cheat-sheet on what are the best cuts, here’s a summary:

Most Tender:

The Beef tenderloin (aka Filet Mignon) is your top choice. This is cut from the mid-loin of the cow and while it is not the most flavourful, it is undisputedly the part that is most tender.

Special Occasions:

If you don’t mind breaking your wallet a little, the Top Sirloin (the most premium cut amongst the loin), the T-Bone and the Ribeye are amongst the richest, most opulent steaks you can buy.

Grilling/Out-Door:

Beef steaks are awesome for the grill! Not only are all the above-mentioned meats great for grilling, the flank, skirt and tri-tip cuts are also good (marinate them beforehand for best results.)

2. Don’t immediately cook the steak!

When you first take a steak out from the fridge, the inside of the meat tends to be much colder than the outside. This means that any cooking done will be uneven as the outer layers of the meat will cook much faster with the interior being undercooked.

A good way to make sure that the steak is of even temperature before cooking is to let it sit on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes. This will bring the steak up to room temperature and will allow you to cook it with more precision! Finally, before you throw your steak onto the grill, remember to dap them with paper towels to get rid of excess moisture.

3. War Preparations

First off is to choose the right tool for the job. Ideally, you’ll want a cast iron pan or skillet. This is because they are naturally non-stick, great at retaining heat and the materials give a better sear than stainless steel pans.

Don’t have a cast iron pan yet? Check out the LAVA Cast Iron Grill Pan with Handle at our Redmart store!

Next off, instead of using oil, we prefer to add a knob of butter onto a hot pan. Yes, remember to ensure that you heat the pan till it’s very hot before you cook the steak too! Next up, sprinkle salt, black pepper or your favourite go-to seasoning right before you place the steak on the pan.

 The timing of this is crucial as salt will suck out the moisture of the meat if you add it too early.

4. Onwards, to the great sear!

Now add the steak to the pan, make sure there’s a loud sizzling noise else it means the pan is not hot enough and you should immediately remove the steak and heat the pan higher and longer.

While steaks of different thickness have different cooking times, on average, a 2cm-thick piece of steak should be cooked 2 – 3 minutes each side for rare, 3 – 4 minutes each side for medium-rare to medium and 5 – 6 minutes each side for medium-well to well-done.

Remember, turn the steak only once as the steak will dry out if you keep flipping your prized meat. Always use a tong so that you don’t pierce the meat and let the juices escape.

A trick to find out if your meat is currently at the right doneness is to touch the beef with your finger. The texture of the meat can be compared to the same texture of touching the area of skin below your thumb, at the different tension points as illustrated below.

Illustration courtesy of lifehacker.com

5. The spoils of war

Always rest your steak before serving! This isn’t because your steak is tired but it’s to make sure it’s as JUICY as possible!

Rest it on a plate for the same amount of time you’ve cooked it, giving it ample time for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat like a sponge. If you had to make some adjustments to the cooking time for whatever reason and can’t remember how long you’ve cooked it, 10 minutes is a good benchmark.

If you’re planning to sign up for cooking or baking classes, we’ve got you covered here as well 😉

Planning on preparing the perfect candlelight dinner? Be sure to check out our Valentine’s Day sale below!

Be the Greatest Potluck Host – 6 Items That Make Any Potluck a Breeze!

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Be the Greatest Potluck Host –

6 Items That Make Any Potluck a Breeze!!

A potluck is a great way to catch up with your friends and family. While it can be quite challenging to cook up the perfect dish given our hectic schedules, here are 6 items we recommend that will ensure you are able to prepare hassle-free delicious meals for your loved ones!

1. Casserole

What’s a potluck without some piping hot casserole? Whether you’re planning a pasta or meaty dish, having a good Casserole pot is paramount in transporting and displaying your dish! We recommend a cast iron casserole as its tough, durable and helps preserve the heat for a longer period of time.

Recommended Kitchenware: Lava Cast Iron Round Casserole (Available at ToTT Store)

2. Sous Vide Controller

Struggling to find time to cook with the perfect temperature? Look no further! With a Sous Vide controller, you can simply plug and play with your existing rice/slow cookers. Not only will you achieve precision in temperature control; you can simply set the timer and go about your daily activities, returning home to a nice evenly-cooked gourmet meal! So if you are thinking or cooking up a storm, this nifty gadget is a definite must have in your kitchen!

Recommended Appliance: Grant Uno – Sous Vide Controller

3. Ice Cream Maker

A potluck is never complete without some tasty desserts to tempt everyone’s sweet tooth. With the warm weather in Singapore; what better way to end off your potluck than with some ice-cold ice cream, gelato, sorbet or even yoghurt? It may be daunting at first to think at how long one might need to freeze the necessary ingredients, but with an ice cream maker, you can do it in just 20 minutes or less! Simply throw in the ingredients, switch on the maker and the machine does the rest!

Recommended Appliance: Cuisinart Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker

4. Cake Stand

Part of the fun of a potluck is laying out everyone’s favourite dishes on the table; and a good cake stand goes a long way in displaying prop a decadent birthday cake or even smaller pastries like cupcakes and brownies! We recommend this chic and beautifully hand-painted stand from Jamie Oliver to help up your show-casing game to another level.

Recommended Kitchenware: Jamie Oliver Embossed Cake Stand

5. Bartending Tools

What’s a party without some Gin & Tonic or Sangria! With Quench’s first ever 10-in-1 bartending tool, you no longer need to be a pro mixologist in order to mix up your favourite cocktails. This affordable set of tools come with a muddler, knife, reamer, stirrer, channel knife, corkscrew, jigger, strainer, zester and bottle opener. Looks like having a margarita at the next potluck won’t be so far off after all!

Recommended Tool: Quench Bar10der (Available at ToTT Store)

6. Cheese Board

From Cheddar to Mozzarella; cheese lovers would be absolutely delighted to see it at a potluck! A bona-fide cheese board is not only a great way to lay out your cheeses; it’s also made from carefully selected wood that ensures undesirable flavours from permeating into the cheese. Aside from cheeses, you can even use it to display appetisers or petite pastries on it!

Recommended Tool: Boska Geneva Cheese Board

Now that you’re equipped with these tools, you’ll suddenly find yourself on-top of any potluck! If you’re looking for even more items to complete your arsenal, you can visit us online at Redmart, Lazada or simply just come down to our stores at Century Square & Suntec City to take a look around!

 

5 Essential Kitchen Tools for Every Cook

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5 Essential Kitchen Tools for Every Cook

If you’re new to cooking, or looking to improve your culinary game, using inadequate kitchen tools can be unnecessarily frustrating. Quality tools perform better and seldom need replacing: think stainless-steel measuring cups, wooden cutting boards, cast iron cookware and forged knives. Choose wisely now, and more than likely, you will have also chosen well for later. We have a chat with Chef Andrea Lim, F&B Director of 5 Senses Bistro at ToTT, and he shares with us his absolute must-have tools in the kitchen. Let’s get started!

1. Cast Iron Skillet

Just about anything you want to do—searing, sautéing, baking, frying, braising—performs best in cast iron cookware. A reliable cast iron skillet works wonders in the oven or on top of the stove. From delicious Steak with Herb Butter to a decadent Nutella Skillet Cookie, your cast iron skillet is the true workhorse of the kitchen. Contrary to popular belief, taking care of a cast iron is not that diii

Contrary to what many people say, taking care of a cast iron pan is not all that difficult. Once you’ve cooked with it, rinse it under hot water while scrubbing with a brush. Soap isn’t necessary, unless you really feel the need to. Most importantly – never, ever leave your cookware to soak in the sink! Instead, dry it immediately, then put it on the stove to let any moisture evaporate. Once it’s fully dry, add a few drops of oil (use one with a high smoking point) and massage the oil in with a towel until you’ve rubbed all excess oil off the pan.

Chef Andrea recommends: Lava Cast Iron Round Skillet, available at ToTT Store
(Usual Price $57.40 – $113.40, Now $45.90 – $90.70*)

2. Non-Stick Frying Pan

A non-stick coated frying pan is definitely a useful tool to have on hand for perfect eggs, pancakes, frittatas and the likes – basically, dishes you don’t want to get stuck to the pan halfway through that chef-like flip of the pan! Unlike your cast iron skillet, a non-stick pan should never be heated up till it’s smoking hot or your risk the non-stick finish vaporising. And it goes without saying that you shouldn’t use metal utensils on non-stick surfaces 😉 Ready to try out some recipes with your non-stick frying pan? This Dutch Baby Pancake will make for a perfect breakfast!

Chef Andrea recommends: De Buyer Aluminium Non-Stick Frying Pans, available at ToTT Store
(Usual Price $33.40 – $95.50, Now $26.70 – $76.40*)

3. Wooden Cutting Board

Along with a good set of knives, a good cutting board is one of the most essential and most often used tool in your kitchen. While it may seem straight-forward, there is a lot that goes into the making of a quality cutting board.  Since you will be using your board almost every single time you cook, take time to research and invest in a durable, high-quality cutting board that will last for years to come. Check out our quick guide to cutting boards to make an informed decision.

Chef Andrea recommends: Epicurean Wood Fibre Cutting Board (3 layers), Serving Series, available at ToTT Store
(Usual Price $51.90, Now $41.50*)

4. Chinese Wok

Whether you’re stir-frying or not, a wok is one of the most versatile cookware you can own in the kitchen. It is probably the best vessel for deep-frying – its wide shape and ability to hole large volumes make it easy to do a big batch of deep fried food with minimal contact and oil use. The wok’s larger surface area also helps to produce that deep, smoky wok hei flavour that we are all so familiar with!

Chef Andrea recommends: Zebra 5-Ply Stainless Steel Chinese Wok with Lid & Steamer, available at ToTT Store (Usual Price $215.50 – $325.50, Now $172.40 – $260.40*)

5. A Large Casserole

A casserole is meant for both cooking, baking and serving straight to the dinner table – hence it should be both functional and aesthetically-pleasing. A good casserole (or large baking dish) will heat foods evenly, and store that heat so that your food stays warm throughout dinner. A high-quality glazed ceramic will also make it easier to clean up!

Chef Andrea recommends: Lava Cast Iron Round Casserole available at ToTT Store (Usual Price $133.60 – $179.60, Now $106.80 to $143.60*)

*The above promotional prices are only valid from 8 – 17 September 2017, at ToTT @ Dunearn & ToTT @ Suntec.

 

Guide to Place Setting for a Formal Dinner

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Guide to Place Setting for a Formal Dinner

Formal dining settings are usually done with such opulence and grandeur that few would dare try at home; the thought of setting up an entire formal dinner at home without professionals can be quite daunting if you don’t know where to begin! Fret not, setting for a formal dinner can be done easily with the right cutlery and fine china. Knowledge of the correct position of all the flatware would also ease the process of setting the table right. Here are some tips on how to host the perfect formal dinner at home effortlessly!

Table Setting
This will set the tone for your guests, so it is important that the details are immaculately cared for. Firstly, continental flatware is commonly used for formal dining. There are numerous themes of flatware including artistic, modern or classic which can be a reflection of the host. Choose the theme which matches the ambience you intend to portray to your guests to enhance their entire experience. Keep in mind that your menu will also affect the kind of flatware. For example, if seafood is on the menu, specialized flatware should be present in your setting.

Here is a basic illustration of how a formal table setting for dinner should look like:

*All items featured above can be found at ToTT Store.

Napkin: Can be folded at the side or creatively folded on the dinner plate. Napkin rings can be used as well.

Forks: The fork that is used for the earliest course should be placed furthest from the dinner plate. All flatware should be positioned one inch from the edge of the table.

Spoons and Knives: Positioned similarly to the forks, the outermost ones are for starters and guests will work their way in as the courses proceed.

Charger or Service Plate: This plate is only for decorative purposes and the actual dinner/dining plates will be served on this plate.

Wine glasses: All drinking glasses to be used for the meal should be set before the dinner starts. The water goblet should be placed right above the knife, and the wine glasses should be lined in order in which they will be used.

Maintenance of Flatware 
After acquiring all the items you need for your formal dinner, it is important that your flatware are polished and glassware pristine. For convenience, get all your cutlery and glasses with a dishwashing friendly logo. Even after washing, double check to see for any minute stains before presenting on the table. Aside from flatware, fresh and ironed linens are important as well.

Menu
The key to a perfect formal dinner lies in its simplicity and elegance. While it is easy to come up with extravagant ways of cooking, do take into consideration the capacity of your kitchen while planning how to execute the menu. For example, if you have one oven, it might be better to prepare only one dish that requires the use of the oven.  Refrain from focusing on only one type of cooking method as this will allow you to continue cooking the other dishes smoothly and not be bottlenecked by one piece of equipment. Cooking methods such as sautéing, steaming and double-boiling can produce plenty of creative dishes! Countertop spaces in most kitchens are limited – do plan your prep time for all dishes accordingly and avoid cluttering precious space.

We hope these tips will help you in your next formal dinner party! Most importantly, remember to enjoy your guests’ company and relax after putting in all that hard work!

6 Magical Things Your Food Processor Can Do

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6 Magical Things Your Food Processor Can Do

The humble food processor is one of the most magical and versatile appliance you can own in the kitchen. Unlike a blender, it doesn’t require any liquid to chop up its contents, which means you can grate up pretty much anything! If you don’t have a food processor already, try the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus Processor. From the main course to healthy desserts, it’s incredible how much one appliance can do! You’ll definitely want one once you see the 6 amazing ways you can use it below!

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1. Perfect Buttery Pie Crust

Need to cut butter into flour to make that pie crust? Let your food processor do the work! Even, flaky, buttery crusts in half the time! Here’s a Chicken Pot Pie recipe that will be a dream to make!

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2. Smooth & Creamy Pesto 

Say goodbye to over-priced, mediocre store-bought pesto!  Believe us – you’ll never be reaching for those again. All you need is a handful of ingredients, throw them all in your trusty food processor, and blitz them all up! Here’s a quick and easy recipe that we like to use:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 4 cloves Garlic (more if you like it garlicky!)
  • 4 tbsp Pine Nuts
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

 Add all ingredients (except olive oil and salt & pepper) into your food processor. With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified to your desired consistency. Season to taste!

Toss your pesto into pasta, or serve it with steak, like this Grilled Steak with Pesto!

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3. Homemade Nut Butter

 What can we say? Nut butter is too easy not to make your own at home. Customise it to your heart’s contents and you will never have a dull breakfast! With a simple jar of nut butter, you can spread it on toasts, turn it into peanut sauce, and even use it in salad dressings! The possibilities are really endless. You can also mix and match – if you have a few handfuls of different nuts, try blitzing them together to see how they taste! Here’s how: Add your nuts into your food processor, along with a good pinch of salt and any flavours or sweeteners if you’d like. Shredded coconut or maple syrup maybe? Pulse to combine, taste and season to your liking!

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4. Gluten-free Flour

On a quest to healthier baking and eating? Try substituting plain flour with oat flour. Not only are they more filling, but they’re high in fibre and protein! A great alternative to highly processed flours you get from store-bought flours.  We recommend using this oat flour in pancakes and muffins. Since it’s gluten-free, bear in mind that it will not have the same binding ability that white flour provides in baked goods such as bread and cakes.

To make your very own homemade oat flour, simply pulse your steel-cut/traditional rolled oats into your trusty food processor till the oats resemble fine crumbs/flour. Try it with our Blueberry Pancakes recipe this weekend!

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5. Fresh, Homemade Baby Food

Using a food processor to make baby food at home allows you to control the quality of food your baby eats. In addition to having the ability to guarantee the freshness of your child’s meals, you can also save money by eliminating the extra costs of buying pre-packaged foods. Start by steaming your fruits or vegetables of your choice. Separate the liquid that the foods produce during the cooking process. Begin pureeing the fruits and vegetables in your food processor and add in the liquid that you set aside to your desired consistency!

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6. Cookie Crumble

You can now have your own cookie crumble in a matter of seconds! Use it as a foundation for a delicious pie, or sprinkle over ice cream, froyo or your other favourite desserts! Simply add your favourite cookies into your food processer, hit pulse and you’re done! Try using your cookie crumble with our recipe for a delicious No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake!

About the Cuisinart Mini-Prep® Plus Food Processor:

The Mini-Prep® Plus is the perfect little helper for small food preparation, from chopping herbs or bread crumbs, to finely grinding hard cheese. Its versatility lies in the special Auto Reversing Smart Blade™, which makes it easier to process both soft and hard foods. Designed in Italy, the Mini-Prep Plus’ sleek touch pad controls afford easy cleaning and an elegant look.

FEATURES

  • 250-watt food processor with 3-cup plastic work bowl
  • Chops and grinds with patented reversible stainless-steel blade
  • Simple push-button control panel; durable, yet lightweight plastic body
  • Dishwasher-safe bowl and lid for quick cleanup; spatula included

Get yours now at ToTT Store!

Featured Interview with Sake Sommelier Takayoshi Aoki

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Featured Interview with Sake Sommelier Takayoshi Aoki

Q: Have you ever experienced Japanese sake and food pairing? Which pairing of sake and food do you like?

A: Similar to wine, sake can be paired with food according to certain rules. If you would like to know more, I recommend you to join me at ToTT’s Sake Paring Dinner on Friday, 29 April at Sumiya Suntec City. This Japanese restaurant is managed by International Sake Sommelier Naoki Tsuzuki, who is also the master chef of the award-winning fine dining restaurant, Kuriya Dining.

At this sake-pairing dinner, each of Master Chef Tsuzuki’s creative dishes will be paired with his choice of sake. All sake brands used for this event have distinctive characteristics, two of which are rare premium sake that are available exclusively at Sumiya.

Sake pairing works just like wine does. The key to pairing sake and food is simple – typically, lighter dishes are paired with light and smooth sake and rich foods with rich-flavoured and full-bodied sake. For example, a light dish such as whitefish sashimi goes well with mild-flavoured Ginjo-shu and Dai Ginjo-shu while grilled fatty winter fish is best paired with aromatic and full-bodied Junmai-shu.

Contrary to popular belief, sake can also be enjoyed with a wine glass. When poured into the glass, sake comes into contact with oxygen and this oxidization will improve the distinctive aroma of sake. By using a wine glass, the sake’s rising aroma will allow you to fully enjoy  its elegant fragrance.  If you cannot finish drinking an entire bottle, do be adventurous and enjoy the remainder with a wine glass on the next day. You might make a new discovery of the sake!

Please take this opportunity to experience the wonderful world of Master Chef Tsuzuki’s fine Japanese cuisine and its premium and seasonal sake.

Prior to this event on the same day, I will conduct a sake cocktail-making demonstration at ToTT @ Suntec. There, I will introduce two kinds of sake cocktails which can be made easily with your leftover sake. I will also introduce useful utensils to make sake cocktails.

Master Chef Tsuzuki and I look forward to welcoming you at the Sumiya Sake-Pairing Dinner. Thank you.

Takayoshi Aoki
International Wine & Sake Sommelier

Notes:
Sake is classified according to the proportion of the rice grain that remains after polishing. If the rice polishing ratio is 60% or lower (meaning that 40% or more of the grain is removed), the sake produced with it is referred to as Ginjo-shu or Junmai Ginjo-shu. When the rice polishing ratio is 50% or lower (meaning that 50% or more of the grain is removed), the sake is referred to as Daiginjo-shu or Junmai Daiginjo-shu.

The term Junmai-shu refers to sake made with nothing other than rice, water, and kōji (mould culture for converting rice starch to sugar). When Junmai-shu is made with rice of a lower rice polishing ratio, it is referred to as Junmai Ginjo-shu or Junmai Daiginjo-shu.
(Source: http://j-tradition.com/en/sake/shurui/ginjou.html)

9 Tips to Hosting a Perfect Dinner Party

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9 Tips to Hosting a Perfect Dinner Party

Hosting a large party is always fun, but there’s something special about a more intimate, grown-up gathering. Inviting friends over for a dinner gathering or hosting that annual dinner party with your colleagues?  This is the perfect guide for you. We’ve prepared a list of pointers to keep in mind when throwing your next dinner party!

1. Invitation list

When hosting an intimate dinner party, it’s essential to have an accurate guest count. We recommend sending out invitations at least two weeks in advance and requesting guests to RSVP no later than a week before the event. Grocery shopping becomes much easier when you have ample time to prep, plan your menu and portions!

2. Setting the right mood

A beautifully-set table is the canvas for a sumptuous meal. Fresh flowers make for a lovely centrepiece but for a more durable feature that also doubles as a conversation starter, try arranging an assortment of the Luminara Flameless Pillar Candles. The attractive realistic flameless candle will brighten your dining table instantly without the worry or risks associated with real candles.

Dine without the worry of food and wine stains on your table cloth when you use Garnier Thiebaut’s 100% two-ply twisted cotton as the linen for all your dishes. Made in France, the fine damask fabric is made with a special Green Sweet stain-resistant technology to protect the cotton from stains and make your life happier! The classy and bespoke designs available also add an instant touch of elegance to your dining table.

3. Dining utensils

As a general rule of thumb, no matter the formality of the event, set the silverware on the table in the order that it will be used, from the outside in. Dessert utensils should always be placed horizontally above the plate, or brought in later together with the dessert.

For cutlery that is functional enough for everyday use and also elegant enough for an intimate dinner gathering, the Safico Harlan series will do a perfect job. The simplest table setting will be transformed by the sleek elegance of the Harlan series from Safico to impress even the more particular connoisseurs! The high gloss polished finish features a simple and sleek design that will also mix well with your existing flatware pieces. A full range of coordinating Harlan pieces is also available if you are inclined!

4. Shop smart

Always be ready to improvise your menu. Whenever you are doing your grocery shopping, be on the look-out for products that are on markdown or promotion – you never know what you might find!

5. Hors D’oeuvres (Party appetizers)

When your guests start streaming in, don’t stress yourself if not all your dishes are complete. Having Hors D’oeuvres set out when guests arrive will give you some time to wrap up your cooking while they mingle and snack. An easy but delectable one would be to set a cheese platter with crackers and wine for guests to dive in before the actual dinner; even better if you have a visually appealing cheeseboard that could double as a beautiful centrepiece! If possible, place the platters at different spots around your living room/lounge area to prevent guests from crowding in one corner of the room.

6. Dinner

Before planning your dinner menu, ensure that you have checked with all your guests if they have any dietary restrictions or food allergies to prevent anyone from going hungry at dinnertime! To be on the safer side, it would also be best to prepare dishes that you’ve made before; i.e. tried and tested to minimize any hiccups on the actual day of cooking! Need some inspiration? Browse our recipe page for tons of ideas. Here are some of our favourites appetizers and main course:

Appetizers: Scallops in Buerr Blanc Sauce, Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Lemongrass and Coconut , Albondigas (Mealballs)
Main courses: Stuffed SousVide Boneless Chicken Leg, Crusted Herb Rack of Lamb

7. Sweet endings

End the night on a delightful, sweet note with the perfect dessert. If you would like to keep it simple, having beautifully decorated cupcakes or a sinful chocolate cake presented on a lovely cake stand would do the trick. Check out our dessert recipes for classics such as Chocolate Mocha Bundt Cake or a fancy individual Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate Tartlets!

8. Drinks

Keep things simple and classy by going for wine and one signature cocktail. The Magisso Champagne Cooler will ensure that your drinks will be kept cool and chilled through-out your dinner. You can even write or design a personal message on the side of the ceramics with a chalk! The award-winning range of Magisso products can be found here.

9. Relax and have fun!

Last but not least, remember to relax and enjoy yourself with your guests! Enjoy their company, the atmosphere and the spread that you’ve put all the effort into preparing. It’s time to kick back and fun!

So, what’s on the menu of your next dinner party?

Be the Hari Raya Hostess (or Host!) with the Mostest

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Be the Hari Raya Hostess (or Host!) with the Mostest

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri! In this week’s guide, we share 7 useful hosting tips for this festive season.

1. Prepare ingredients in advance

Everyone knows food prep is one of the most tedious things to deal with, no matter how skilled you are as a home chef. Do your shopping and preparation 2 days in advance and make it a family affair! Be the boss of your kitchen and delegate tasks to spouses and siblings while children do simpler things like peel vegetables.

2. Accommodate dietary restrictions

When planning your menu, remember to include at least one child-friendly and vegetarian dish for your guests. Also, not everyone has a belly of fire like you do, so make sure you have a non-spicy dish in your arsenal. ToTT loves this recipe for pizza – just replace pepperoni with a halal option like chopped beef dendeng and you’re good to go. We also recommend getting your pizza done with Theo & Co.’s Pizza Perfector. You can thank us later.

3. Serve dishes in cookware

Instead of dishing out culinary creations on serving plates, why not serve them straight from the pan? You won’t just be saving time doing the dishes – pans keep food warm for longer and you’ll just have to place it back on the stove whenever you wish to reheat!

4. Beat the Heat with Detox Water

Chock full of vitamins, detox water makes a refreshing and colourful beverage that is sure to be a hit with your guests. Simply toss some slices of citrus fruit and cucumbers into filtered water and leave overnight.

5. Try a Chalkboard Menu

Chalkboard menus are an easy and inexpensive way of jazzing up potluck style feasts. Also, they save you from having to explain dishes over and over again to curious guests.

6. Label Cups

Here at ToTT, we’re all about doing our part for the environment. If you have to use disposable cups, use those made out of bioplastics and provide guests with a marker to label their cups. That way, you save the earth and your cups.

7. Kiddy Corner

Create a child-friendly corner of your house with toys and electronic gaming devices to keep the young ones busy.

8. Seal the meal

Got any leftovers or half-finished snacks from the day? Keep food fresh by sealing it in air-tight containers like the Large Pop-Top Storage Jar by Jamie Oliver, or Lexliving’s Silicone Flip Tight Lid Storage Box.

7 Foods You’re Reheating Wrongly

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7 Foods You’re Reheating Wrongly

Contrary to popular belief, reheating food isn’t idiot proof. Remember the times you popped leftovers in the microwave, only to realise your reheated meal was a pale shadow of yesterday’s dinner? Today, ToTT reveals the top 7 foods you’ve been reheating wrongly, and how you ought to be doing it.

1. Bread, Buns and Pastries

Microwaving baked goods removes their moisture, leaving your buns doughy and pastries stiff as steak. Instead, microwave bread and buns together with a cup of water for 30 seconds on medium heat, then pop them in the toaster for a few more minutes. Pastries can go directly in the toaster, but keep the heat in check!

2. Eggs

Reheating eggs is always a messy affair, and the results hardly ever taste good. Cook your eggs fresh only when you crave them, and your tastebuds will thank you for it.

3. Pasta

Firstly, store leftover pasta and sauce separately in the fridge so that the pasta doesn’t go soggy. When you wish to eat it, toss the pasta and sauce together in a pan and heat it with a little olive oil. That way, the flavour and texture of the original sauce is retained.

4. Rice

Rice can be reheated over the stove or in the microwave oven, and the method involved is fairly similar for both methods. Add a splash of water onto the rice before reheating, and give it a good fluff after 3-5 minutes.

5. Soup

Like rice, soup can be reheated conveniently in the microwave or on the stove. Just make sure to cover the bowl or pot with a lid so that the soup doesn’t dry up!

6. Meat, Poultry and Fish

Avoid heating any of these in the microwave oven. For meats, sauté on medium-high heat for 2 minutes with a drizzle of oil. Poultry and fish are better off shredded or flaked and eaten cold with salads.

7. Vegetables

If you’ve ever tried reheating vegetables in the microwave, you’ll know that leaves shrivel up and turn yellow while brightly coloured veggies lose their colour. Instead, sauté lightly on the stovetop, removing immediately when just heated.

Summer Picnic Must Haves

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Summer Picnic Must Haves

Salad, Sand and Sea

Whether you’re hitting the park or the beach, keep things super fresh with this handy salad container set. Westmark’s Salad Butler has a practical carrying handle, along with 4 clip locks and integrated transport container for the safe and clean carrying of your greens topped with your favourite dressing. With Salad Butler, take your salad from kitchen to coast with no fuss at all.

1. Kueh Dadar

A Sink your teeth in a local Peranakan delicacy made from pandan flavoured crepes with shredded Gula Melaka coconut filling.This sweet coconut stuffed pancake roll is usually served as a snack at tea time that goes wonderfully well with coffee or tea!

Recommended equipment: Nordic Ware Traditional French Steel Crepe Pan

Pack It and Bag It

Pack light with Lexngo’s Silicone Collapsible Lunch Box. Made of food-safe silicone, this lunch box is perfect for transporting healthy meals or for food storage. It has two compartments which allow for separate food management of fruits, salads, and your main course. The unique 3-in-1 spork utensil conveniently stores inside the airtight cover. For space-saving storage simply collapse the flexible silicone container to 1/2 the size.

Super Sandwiches 

Ditch your usual plastic sandwich bags for a greener and healthier option. These Paper Snack and Sandwich Bags by If You Care are made in Sweden from the unbleached pulp of Scandinavian spruce trees – a natural, renewable resource. If You Care Snack and Sandwich Bags are also greaseproof, and provide a natural barrier which prevents grease or fat from penetrating.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Finally, wash down your scrumptious picnic spread with ice-cold lemonade in these Toot Sweet Blue Party Cups by Meri Meri. Each packet contains a dozen 266ml hot or cold cups. The blue striped pattern is perfect for parties and picnics, so grab a stack for your picnic basket today! Also available in pink.