Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// reusing a discontinued plastic membership card into a bookmark, absolutely no step-by-step instructions required.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// a plastic-free vegetable peeler.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// mini-adventure : a bus ride to nowhere.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// while giving away some children’s toys stashed away in the store room, we get reunited with a long forgotten one.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// simple 10-inch sponge cake sans buttercream fillings and chocolate icing, adapted from 2 x 8-inch recipe here.




Napa Cabbage Rice

Napa Cabbage Fried Rice // Mono + Co

These long beans are wilting fast in my fridge drawer, so I decided to chop them up finely to cook meatless cabbage rice that is rather vaguely adapted from this recipe.  The cooking method is very similar, but the ingredients varied a lot.  I cooked with napa cabbage instead of the Taiwanese cabbage that is traditionally used for this popular Hokkien one-pot-meal.  Long beans, on the other hand, are not usually required for this dish.

Another great challenge lies in my choice to omit dried shrimps and dried scallops to turn this dish suitable for vegetarians.  Whatever umami that is lost from dried shrimp and dried scallops, I tried to compensate with more dried shitake mushrooms.  I also added my favorite vegetarian XO/BBQ sauce.  To me, this is the closest I can get to imitate the fragrance of dried scallops and shrimps.  Lastly, I topped the rice with some preserved olive vegetables (橄榄菜) before adding water to cook, and now I don’t know whether my cabbage rice is anything close to the original cabbage rice.  I don’t really think so, but after all my adaptations, this is certainly still tasty!

What other ingredients do you use to add umami to your vegetarian cooking?

Napa Cabbage Fried Rice // Mono + Co Napa Cabbage Fried Rice // Mono + Co


vaguely adapted from & inspired by here

2 rice cups jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
15 small dried shiitake mushrooms **
2 tablespoon cooking oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced ***
5 leaves of napa cabbage, sliced
5 strings of long beans, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon vegetarian XO/BBQ sauce
1 heaping teaspoon of preserved olive vegetables
1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce

** Rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms in 1.5 rice cups of room temperature water for about 2 hours.  Reserve the water used to soak the mushrooms, these are full of flavor and great for cooking.  Sieve this liquid before using to get rid of dust and particles.  Slice the mushrooms and set aside.

*** Can be replaced with a knob of ginger, julienned.

I cooked and served this in a 22cm Le Creuset Marmite Pot.  This can also be cooked in a rice cooker, after stir frying everything in a wok first.

In a heated pot/wok, add cooking oil, and add minced garlic/julienned ginger and fry till aromatic/golden brown.

Quickly add sliced shiitake mushrooms to bring down the oil temperature so that the garlic/ginger don’t get burnt.  Stir fry to cook the mushrooms, they will become more fragrant after frying with oil.

Next, add the chopped long beans, once they are coated with oil, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved mushroom liquid to “steam-fry” the beans so that they get cooked faster.  Once the liquid added gets evaporated, add vegetarian XO/BBQ sauce and preserved olive vegetables.  Stir around to mix.

Add the cabbage, and stir-fry until the leaves turn soft.

Pour in all the rice and stir with a spoon to coat rice with oil/ingredients in the pot/wok.

Option 1. If cooking with a rice cooker, now is the time to transfer the rice into the rice cooker.  Add mushroom liquid, light soy sauce and top up with more water enough to cook 2 cups of rice and set the cooker to cook mode.

Option 2. If cooking over the stove, measure 2 cups of water with the mushroom liquid, light soy sauce and water, add these into the pot, stir to mix well, especially at the bottom, taking care not to let any ingredients get stuck or they will be burnt, then cover with the lid to cook.  Once the liquid starts to boil, turn down the fire to let it simmer, it takes the rice around 10 minutes to cook.  I usually listen out for a crackling sound, a sign that the all the liquid has dried up and the bottom layer of rice is charring.  Then I will turn off the fire and let the pot of rice sit undisturbed with its lid covered for another 10 minutes before serving.




Banana Cinnamon Muffins

Banana Cinnamon Muffins // Mono+Co

The kitchen was filled with the scent of cinnamon, butter and banana this morning.  But these arrived too late for breakfast, so we had them for brunch, as dessert after lunch and again with afternoon tea.  I think I have found my favourite moist and fluffy muffin recipe , all thanks to the 2 large bananas that I left on the counter intentionally to ripe.

Banana Cinnamon Muffins // Mono+Co

My FB and IG posts have been hashtagged with lots of #uglyfoodisthenewgood and #happyplatesg.  Just trying my best to send a truck of fresh food to households who need them most, I hope I can tag enough to send a truckload by end of November!

While the campaign is aiming at raising awareness on food waste in Singapore, this year, the effort is narrowed down to reducing waste from “ugly food”; fruits and vegetables that are not pretty enough to make it into the shoppers’ carts and discarded.  But I don’t think these “ugly food” ever made it to the shop shelves, when I step into the market, all I see are glistening fruits and perky vegetables.  I think my vegetables in the chillers after 3 days are “uglier” than the ugliest one you can find in the shops.  For the purpose of taking part in this campaign, I even stretched out the shelf life of my stock of vegetables and fruits just to label them as ugly.  Just like these bananas.  But bananas are sweeter when really ripe, turning them into perfect ingredients for cakes and muffins, so I really don’t mind waiting a while more.

Banana Cinnamon Muffins // Mono+Co Banana Cinnamon Muffins // Mono+Co


Banana Muffins

adapted from here

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
210g wholemeal flour

In a large mixer bowl, beat melted butter and honey with a paddle attachment until they are well mixed.

Add eggs, beat again, then add milk and mashed bananas, beat to mix well.   Next, add baking soda, vanilla extract, salt and ground cinnamon, beat again.

Remove the bowl from mixer, fold the flour into the batter.

Divide batter to fill a 12-muffin pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 160C for 25 minutes, or until a test skewer comes out clean.

Place the muffin pan on a rack to cool.






Simple Small Batch Carrot Cake Loaf

Simple Small Batch Carrot Cake Loaf // Mono +Co

You will like this recipe if you prefer small batch baking.

Simple Small Batch Carrot Cake Loaf // Mono +Co

I am sometimes surprised by the amount of cream cheese frosting I ended up with when I tried out some carrot cake recipes.  Too much. Too sweet. Actually, I like carrot cake for the cake, not a big fan of frostings.  Most recipes bake the carrot cake into two layers, with more frosting in between cakes upon assembly.  Then come the guessing game of how long to cook the cake in the oven if I bake the recipe as one whole cake.  So I ended up halving most recipes and bake them into a loaf, increase the baking time by another 10-15 minutes if required after checking with a test skewer.

Actually, I like carrot cakes for the cake, not a big fan of frostings.  Most recipes bake the carrot cake into two layers, with more frostings in between cakes upon assembly.  This lead to a guessing game of how long to cook the cake in the oven if I bake the recipe as one whole cake.  So I ended up halving most recipes and bake them into a loaf, increase the baking time by another 10-15 minutes if required after checking with a test skewer.

I like how this recipe , according to the author, “is good enough to eat on its own”.  The cake is moist and imparts just a nice level of sweetness from cinnamon and raisins.  I will gladly save my calories from the frosting for a bigger slice of this carrot cake.  I also like that the recipe uses wholemeal flour.

As usual, I halved the recipe and at the same time opted out the grated nutmeg, orange zest, pecans, but kept the amount of ground cinnamon intact.  I also substituted melted butter with coconut oil . You may use melted butter or any neutral flavor cooking oil if you don’t have coconut oil.

Simple Small Batch Carrot Cake Loaf // Mono +Co Simple Small Batch Carrot Cake Loaf // Mono +Co Simple Small Batch Carrot Cake Loaf // Mono +Co

Is it a must for your carrot cake to be frosted with cream cheese frosting?  If not, care to share your plain carrot cake recipe with me?


adapted from here

75g melted coconut oil
75g raw sugar
2 small eggs**
100g wholemeal flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100g grated carrots
50g raisins

** I used eggs that weigh 60g each with shell.

In a mixer bowl, combine coconut oil, raw sugar and eggs, and whisk on high speed (KA 8) for 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix wholemeal flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together to form a uniform mixture of flour.

Add the flour mixture to the batter in the mixer bowl and stir to mix well with a hand whisk.

Stir in grated carrots, then raisins.

Pour batter into a small loaf pan (mine’s around 19cmx9cmx6cm) and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 40 minutes, or until a test skewer inserted comes out clean.

When done, cool the carrot cake in the pan on a rack before slicing and serving.





A Very Versatile Recipe : Cocoa Brownies

A Very Versatile Recipe : Cocoa Brownies // Mono + Co A Very Versatile Recipe : Cocoa Brownies // Mono + Co

I have been baking brownies with Alice Medrich’s recipe for the longest time.  I love fast and simple recipes, so this one that requires just cocoa powder means that I don’t have to stock up on baking chocolate AND cocoa powder to satisfy that sudden urge for homebaked chewy brownies.  I bake more at home with cocoa powder anyway.

A Very Versatile Recipe : Cocoa Brownies // Mono + Co

Most brownie recipes are very versatile.  Versatile in the sense that I can alter the ingredients slightly, and the brownie will still come out pretty, maybe a little bit less chewy, more spongy etc, but always edible.  If you have tried adjusting a cake recipe, you will understand why I appreciate a versatile recipe.

I have halved the sugar in the recipe and it still works, albeit producing a less moist and thus a less luxurious texture for me.  The sweet spot so far is 190g for me.

I have also topped this brownie with marshmallows, walnuts, almond slices, M&Ms, salt flakes but they are just as enjoyable when baked plain.

I have stirred in a shot of espresso, and tasted not much difference.

I have also tried with 80g eggs and 55g eggs, depending on which egg seller I buy from, the end result is a difference in how high the brownie gets leavened.  A more spongy cake-like brownie is achieved with a wetter batter, i.e. bigger eggs.

In other words, this recipe has never failed me.

A Very Versatile Recipe : Cocoa Brownies // Mono + Co

What will I try next?  Peanut butter, Nutella spread, Speculoos, toasted coconut, white chocolate buttons, cherry liquor…  I am surprised that I have not bake more variations over the years.  To me having it plain is the best way for a satisfying chocolate fix, that is why this is often touted as the best cocoa brownies to bake.

After baking this for years, I have adapted the original recipe and threw in a few tricks to shorten the preparation time required or vary the ingredients to use what I have at home.  Check them out, annotated with asterisks.  I hope they help!  Have fun baking and eating!

Have fun baking and eating!


adapted from here and here

140G unsalted butter, softened ** (1)
190g raw sugar
65g unsweetened cocoa powder ** (2)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold eggs ** (3)
65g cake flour ** (4)

** Tip 1 : Soften the butter beforehand to save time on melting the butter over steaming water.  1 hour prior to start baking, I will weigh the butter, then leave it to soften in a 16cm saucepan that I always use to mix this brownie batter.  The long handle makes it easier for me to mix the batter “vigorously”,  which I am often required to do so according to the original recipe.

** Tip 2 : Natural or Dutch processed cocoa powder are both fine to be used according to the recipe, but I have been baking with dutch processed version from Van Houten.  Use what you normally keep at home to bake with.

** Tip 3 : Original recipe asked for large eggs.  I used relatively small eggs that weigh about 55g with shells for this bake.  The brownie did not rise as much compared to brownies that I baked with 70-80g eggs, which could rise so much that the surface crack, the brownie would then sink back slightly after cooling down, but the difference in the thickness of the brownie is pretty obvious with the choice of egg size.

**Tip 4 : The original recipe stated all purpose flour, I have also used cake flour and top flour which produced finer texture brownies with former being my favorite if I have it at home.  Use what you have at home.

To prep, line 8×8 in baking pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 160C.

In a sauce pan/ heatproof mixer bowl, place softened butter, raw sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt, and place this over a pot/ wide skillet with barely simmering water (** Tip 5 : use boiled water from electric pot to save time) on lowest fire to melt the butter.  Make sure the base of the saucepan / mixer bowl does not touch the water in the pot/skillet.

Stir with a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and warm enough to melt the sugar, and dipping finger without scalding it (be careful!).

Set the mixture aside to cool it down enough before adding vanilla extract and the eggs, one by one, stirring vigorously with the wooden spoon after each addition.

Add in the flour, and stir until you no longer see any white specks flour.  Then beat vigorously with the spoon for at least 40 strokes.

Pour the batter into the lined pan and level the surface with the back of the spoon.  Bake in a preheated oven for 25-28 minutes at 160C.

Cool completely before cutting it into 16 pieces.  Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.





Soft Taro White Loaf

Soft Taro White Bread // Mono + Co

I like adding taro to bread recipes as it gives the bread a milky white shade.  I add quite a bit of butter (20-40g depending) to my bread doughs, so the end bake usually ends up with a slight tinge of yellow.  But not bread with taro added.  The texture will also appear more cottony soft because of its white crumbs.  The bread is definitely soft, of course, like all other bread baked with root vegetables added.  I had to cool the bread on its side which has the largest surface area, as the bread was collapsing under its own weight.  By the time it completely cools down, I realised that rack marks have been made on its side!

Soft Taro White Bread // Mono + Co

To buy a whole taro for my small family will be too much.  Only a 100g is needed for this recipe, so I usually ask the grocer to sell me a third or half of a big taro, that’s why I love buying my supplies from the wet markets, everything is negotiable! I will then steam the whole thing, use 100g of it to bake bread, chop the remaining into large chunks so that they fit into my  airtight container and keep in the fridge, to be used up within a week.

Soft Taro White Bread // Mono + Co Soft Taro White Bread // Mono + Co

I adapted from this taro bun recipe that is baked in an 8-inch round pan.  My Pullman tin is smaller, so I used 200g of bread flour instead of 230g.

Soft Taro White Loaf

200g bread flour
1/2 tablespoon instant dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons raw sugar
100g steamed taro, mashed
1 large egg **
30g water
30g cold butter, cubed

** I use a large egg weighing 70g.

In mixer bowl, combine bread flour, yeast, salt, and sugar well with a hand whisk.  After the dry ingredients are mixed, add cooled mashed taro, beaten egg and half of the water.  Start the mixer and knead on its lowest speed (KA 1) .  If the ingredients do not come together into a ball, slowly add more water, spoon by spoon, once a ball dough starts to form, stop.  Let the dough sit for 15 minutes.  If your kitchen is windy, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel.

After 15 minutes, start the mixer again and knead for 1 minute before adding cubed butter, one by one.  Knead this until the dough reaches window pane stage; when the dough becomes very smooth and elastic.  Remove bowl from mixer and bulk rise this for 1 hour.  It will rise to double its original volume.

Punch the dough down and transfer it to a clean work top.  Flatten dough with a rolling pin to push out gas inside the dough.  Shape the loaf and place in greased bread tin, seams side facing downwards.  Let it rise in a draft-free place for 50-60 mins.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 30 minutes.  Once done, invert pan carefully and remove bread from the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.

Store in an airtight container.





Walnut Palm Sugar Butter Cake


I like to experiment with a variety of sugar for cooking and baking, so a stash of sugar starts to build up inside my fridge.  Today, I decided to clear remaining 75g of granulated palm sugar, something I bought to add to my morning coffee, but I switched to Ceylon tea lately, and honey is a better sweetener for it.


The original recipe from here bakes in a 6 inch round pan, but I used a loaf pan measuring 8″ x 3.5″ x 3″.  I also altered the sugar type (from white sugar to palm sugar), milk (to soy milk), and  amount of walnuts as I have only 50g left at home, instead of the 60g in the recipe and omitted another 30g as topping.

walnut-butter-cake-002  walnut-butter-cake-004 walnut-butter-cake-005


adapted from here

125g salted butter, softened
75g granulated palm sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs (approx 80g ea)
110g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon soy milk
50g walnuts

To prep : process walnuts in a processor till fine and set aside.  Line a cake pan with parchment paper. Combine cake flour and baking powder, sift this mixture once.

In a mixer bowl, cream softened butter, granulated palm sugar and vanilla extract till fluffy with a paddle attachment.  I alternate between KA speed 2 and 4, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down mixture from the side to the center of the bowl to make sure the mixture gets beaten evenly.  Palm sugar are dark brown in color, so it is kind of tricky to know if the butter has been beaten properly to “pale color”.  The original recipe stated 4 minutes at speed 2 with a hand mixer, I followed closely to this time, and observed that the color of the batter has turned slightly to a lighter shade.

Next, add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure that the egg gets incorporated into the mixture before the next egg is added.  The mixture will appear curdled at this point, fold in the flour and baking powder mixture, soy milk, and ground walnuts.

Pour batter into lined cake pan, and bake at 170C for 35 – 40 minutes.  When done, cool on a rack before serving.





Simple Pleasures


// unplanned sand play, because school holidays are coming.


// freebie picked up on the way home.


// packaging instructions + magazine articles in japanese language translated.


// sauce dish with the right size modified for a favourite tea cup, because I like my drinks warm.


// handy-woman repaired sliding door all by herself.




Vegan Tuna Sashimi

Vegan Tuna Sashimi // Mono + Co

This tuna sashimi is meatless, vegan, but can you guess what it is made of?  I was surprised myself when I heard that this common fruit can be turned into vegan tuna sashimi.

Vegan Tuna Sashimi // Mono + Co

Doesn’t it look fresh, succulent and fatty?  Even the grains look so real, like those on fish steaks.  Still got no clue?

Vegan Tuna Sashimi // Mono + Co

Hint : spot the tiny seeds?
Answer : I made vegan tuna sashimi out of …. watermelon!

Vegan Tuna Sashimi // Mono + CoVegan Tuna Sashimi // Mono + Co

The texture is very close to the real thing.  The key is to bake it for  a long time to cook the watermelon so that it turns pliable.

But I need to work on the marinating sauce.  The recipe I followed added rice vinegar, tamari sauce, and oil, so I ended up with a salty slab.  I would try with nori sheet or nori seasoning next time to see if I can add another dimension to the vegan sashimi.

Vegan Tuna Sashimi // Mono + Co

I won’t put up the recipe here since I have not tweak it to the taste I prefer, but I am listing the links that inspired my attempt if you like to try :

+ this served in taco

+ this lady made them look so good on sushi rice

+ after I perfect the marinate, I want to make vegan ahi poke!

+ another watermelon tuna poke bowl here!