Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Rolls Royce of Chocolate Chip Cookies

Honestly. Do not even bother with any other recipe. It’s apparently all about the resting of the dough for at least 24 hours that makes this cookie magical. Add the use of Valrhona chocolate discs, French butter and a sprinkle of Maldon salt on the top of the cookie and how on earth can you go wrong ?

This recipe (adapted from the NY Times – my recipe below uses less sugar and butter) makes a mountain of dough and I like smaller cookies, but just make it once and freeze individual scoops in freezer bags for warm cookies with a big mug of tea any time you want.

Time: 45 minutes plus at least 24 hours for resting dough

Ingredients (makes about 30 3-inch cookies – see freezing tip above)

  1. 2 cups cake flour
  2. 1 2/3 cups bread flour
  3. 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  6. 250g unsalted butter
  7. 1 cup light brown sugar
  8. 1 cup granulated sugar
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  11. 500g bittersweet chocolate – broken, chopped if not in discs.  Buy the best you can and at least 60 percent cocoa content
  12. Sea salt flakes

Method

  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds
  5. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them
  6. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  7. Take out dough about 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake and preheat oven to 180C (350F)
  8. Scoop mounds of dough (the size of golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie
  9. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft – about 18 minutes
  10. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes
  11. Enjoy warm !
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Salt Grill by Luke Mangan

Foie gras parfait with toasted brioche, fig and pickled onion

Another bright sunny day in Singapore, and D and I decided to visit Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill on level 55 at ION Orchard. I love clear blue skies, sans the horrific heat and humidity of Singapore – I still miss Sydney weather dearly, especially during winter where you get almost unreal azure blue skies married with a cool, crisp air. Salt Grill is all glass that lets in tons and tons of filtered light that makes the panoramic view of Singapore all that more breathtaking. Reminded me a lot of Kong in Paris (which has the slightly more historic view of Pont Neuf).

Charcuterie plate with bresaola, jamon iberico, saucison and cornichons

The meal started off wonderfully. The charcuterie plate had just four things on it – bresaola, Jamon Iberico, saucison and cornichons, each one of them full of their unique, strong flavours, and the foie gras parfait was light and airy but had the strong punchy flavour of the foie gras – and the pickled onion was delicious. Absolutely genius start to the meal, such clean and simple flavours served in clean and simple “Luke” plateware. Absolute perfection in Modern Australian fare.

Barramundi fillet with wasabi mayonnaise

A shame the mains were disappointing. To be fair, the Barramundi was actually good – very very crispy batter, served with shoestring rosemary fries, but the wasabi mayonnaise was too rich and the tomato sauce I asked for was served with the explanation “our tomato sauce is homemade, so you will find it tastes more like barbeque sauce than tomato”, which I thought really odd.  Homemade tomato sauce is great, but shouldn’t it taste of tomato sauce and not barbeque?

The burger that D ordered was served on a brioche bun that had the sauce swirled onto, but which made the rest of the burger, which was a beef patty, a single leaf of lettuce and thinly sliced beetroot, very dry and quite plain.

Of course there are plenty of other dishes we could have ordered, but a steak for lunch seemed a little heavy, and there seems to be no lunch menu on weekends (there is a lunch set during the week).  I think the ambiance of the place will bring me back to try other dishes, and this would be another place that will be transformed during the night. Otherwise, this is the perfect place for a lunch with the girls. Just stick to the starters and appetisers and keep the wine coming!

Salt Grill by Luke Mangan
Level 55 on ION Orchard. Lift entry is on Level 4
Tel: 6592 5118


Roasted rolled pork belly – it’s all about the crackling

I bought an enormous pork belly from the supermarket yesterday morning. Like, huge – I think it was over 2 kilos (and remember there’s just the two of us). In my mind the thinness of the cut justified a larger piece but clearly it doesn’t work that way.

The skin was not as dry as I would have liked (dry skin=good crackling) so I salted it liberally and then popped it in the fridge in the hope that it would help to dry in the few hours I had before it needed to go into the oven. When I took it out later, it still wasn’t dry enough, so I decided to improvise and roll the cut to help get the best crackling possible.

I had nothing suitable for me to roll the pork with – it would have been lovely with some chopped dates or even just some fresh thyme. Luckily the cut has those lovely layers of fat that help to keep the roast tender and juicy. It’s also the first time I’ve rolled pork myself – usually the butcher does it for me. And to be totally honest, I made enough of a mess without addditional help from trying to add stuffing. We had so much left over we had pulled pork sandwiches for lunch and have a roast pork dinner again tonight (sans crackling boo).

Roasting was quite daunting for me at the beginning, but I have found over the years that if you follow some basic rules you can’t really go wrong – it’s very forgiving, unlike a pastry, for example.

My usual gauge for roasting pork (I almost always use pork belly because I love the layers of fat) is to simply season with salt and pepper, then pop into a preheated oven at 220C for 30-40 mins to get the crackling going, and then either 1 hour for every kilo of meat at 180C or 2 hours for every kilo of meat at 160C. This has worked for me every time, but you can also always use a thermometer – the last thing you want is to have to your apartment (or house) smelling of that delicious roast and then carve it only to find it needs more time in the oven. I couldn’t bear to delay the gratification!  Let the meat rest for a good 20-30 minutes before you carve it up.

I serve my roast pork with roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, leeks, onions and garlic (which goes all mellow and sweet after you roast for an hour).

Oh, and if the crackling is still not up to crispy par, then once you take the meat out, carefully take a knife and cut the skin off, and while the meat is resting, pop the crackling back in the oven on high or even grill it, although I find the oven gives better results – it seems to go puffy when you grill it.  Watch the crackling like a hawk, particularly when grilling – you don’t want any burned bits because they are uneatable.  And who can take that risk when crackling is such a premium??


Chicken and leek pie

I really do like pies. There’s something special about being able to peek under the edge of a crisp pastry lid to let the aroma of the flavours that have been cooking away in there, escape in wispy tendrils to your nose.
I found some gorgeous leeks in the supermarket so decided to make chicken and leek pie (my supermarket also had fresh thyme – bonus! It always seems that the herb I want is always the one herb they didn’t stock that day).

Ingredients makes one large pie

  1. 4 rashers of streaky bacon, diced
  2. 1 double chicken breast, skin removed and cut into bite sized pieces
  3. 1 large or 2 small leeks, washed and sliced
  4. 1 glass dry white wine
  5. 1 tbls flour
  6. 1 cup hot chicken stock
  7. fresh thyme
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. 1 sheet short crust pastry
  10. 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Fry the bacon in a large pan until crispy, remove from pan and set aside – keep the bacon fat in the pan
  3. Brown the chicken pieces in the bacon fat, remove from pan and set aside
  4. Lower the heat and gently sweat the leeks until soft
  5. Turn up the heat, add the chicken and bacon and sprinkle the flour over, coating all the ingredients and cook for about 3 minutes
  6. Add the white wine and bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring out any lumps of flour
  7. Add enough stock to just cover everything and add the thyme (you can just put the whole sticks in and then remove them later, or pick off the leaves, which I prefer)
  8. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes – the stock should have reduced and become a nice gravy
  9. Pour the mix into pie dish and cover with the sheet of short crust pastry, pressing down the edges with a fork
  10. Slash a few cuts into the pastry to help the steam escape while it’s cooking and to prevent the pastry from going soggy
  11. Brush beaten egg over the top
  12. Put into preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
  13. Serve hot

My version of chilli (for today)

Chilli seems to be one of those dishes that I cook that never seems to come out the same twice.Understandably, because there are so many different ingredients you can include/exclude and also time makes a big difference as well. This is the version I made and D said it’s the best yet (although given I cooked it every dish should be the best yet ;))

Ingredients serves 6

  1. 1 large onion, finely diced
  2. 600g lean minced beef
  3. 880g tinned tomatoes (2 small tins or 1 large) – I found Italian cherry tomatoes (skin on) in tomato juice on the shelves
  4. 2 cubes beef stock
  5. 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, ground (or you can just use ready-ground)
  6. 1 tsp chilli powder
  7. Cayenne pepper to taste (probably 1/2 – 1 tsp depending on how much heat you like)
  8. 1 can pinto beans – rinsed
  9. Salt and pepper
  10. Grated cheddar and sour cream to serve

Method

  1. Sweat the onions with some olive oil in a large pot over low heat and cook until transparent
  2. Turn up the heat and brown the mince in batches – don’t overcrowd the pot or you’ll end up boiling the mince rather than browning it
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes, stock cubes, cumin, chilli powder and cayenne pepper (my suggestion is to add in half the cayenne pepper you want – you can always add more if there’s not enough heat) and taste taste taste
  4. Simmer for as long as you have patience – minimum an hour, stirring occassionally
  5. Add the pinto beans about 15 minutes before you want to serve, stirring to heat them through and season to taste
  6. Serve with grated cheddar and a dollop of sour cream

Pea and ham soup

I love pea and ham soup. I find it so hearty and comforting and I love the vibrant green colour with the pink specks of ham (which really shouldn’t work as food) and was always a traditional post Christmas dish from the left over ham. I don’t have a proper butcher near me so I don’t have easy access to ham on the bone, but I have found a substitute which works well. Bacon bones can easily be found at Cold Storage and I use these as well as supplement with normal shaved/sliced ham.

Ingredients to make 6 -8 servings (make lots and freeze the leftovers for a quick dinner or snack later)

  1. 1 onion, diced
  2. 200g bacon bones
  3. 100 g finely sliced ham
  4. 200g split green peas (I’ve also used yellow when I couldn’t find green)
  5. 2 bay leaves

Method

  1. Sweat the onion over low heat until translucent
  2. Turn the heat to medium and fry the bacon bones, stirring occasionally for 10 mins
  3. Add the peas and bay leaves and enough water to just cover the peas
  4. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours
  5. Take out the bacon and let cool before shredding/slicing
  6. Remove the bay leaves and discard
  7. Blend the pea soup (without the bacon) until it’s the consistency you’d like.  Add more water if it’s too thick
  8. Add the bacon and the ham to the pureed soup and season if necessary

Home made sausage rolls from scratch

Homemade sausage rolls in puff and shortcrust pastry

I knew there was something odd about my shop in the supermarket that day – asking for that much minced pork struck me as strange. On auto-pilot, I carried on, paid and got home only to realise that I was trying to make sausage rolls with just minced pork and not sausage meat. Feeling a tad dusty from a few too many drinks the night before, the last thing I wanted to do was head back to the supermarket again, so I did a bit of research online hoping that I would have everything I needed already in the pantry or fridge.

I also found that night that I had just one sheet of puff pastry and decided to do half the mix with puff and the other with shortcrust pastry, thinking it might be just as good.  Final verdict – stick to puff – it had a better texture and flavour that worked better – with my sausage meat, anyway.

Essentially anything goes with sausages in terms of flavouring, but you need to ensure that you have sufficient fat in the sausage – apparently a minimum of 10%, to ensure that the sausage meat stays moist (I’d go for more, around 25%).

Here’s the recipe – measurements are estimated, my suggestion is that you fry a small pattie of the mix to check for flavour/seasoning before you commit to wrapping the entire lot in pastry.  But just have fun with what you have available and/or what you think will work together !

Ingredients – makes about 8 individual sausage rolls about 10cm in length

  • 400g minced pork – don’t pick the lean pork mince if you have a choice
  • 100g fat – pork fat if you can get it, I had duck fat which I used and it added a nice gamey flavour to my sausage meat
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbls dried sage (or handful of fresh if you have it)
  • 2 tbls maple syrup
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Combine pork, fat, sage, maple syrup, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl and mix well with your hands.  You can test for flavour and seasoning by frying off small patties
  3. Shape into 4 round logs about 5cm in diameter and about 1 cm short of the length of the pastry (this allows some space for the meat to expand as it cooks)
  4. Place on the pastry about 3cm from one side and roll the pastry over the sausage meat, cut the pastry so that you have an overlap of about 2-3cm
  5. Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges and seal
  6. Continue until you finish all the sausage meat, you should have four long sausage rolls.  You can leave it there or I cut each in half to make them a bit more manageable to eat
  7. Arrange on a roasting rack over a tray and brush the rest of the beaten egg over the pastry
  8. Bake in oven for 20 – 25 mins or until golden brown

Osteria Mozza @ MBS

Burrata with bacon, marinated escarole and caramelised shallots

An impromptu decision to have dinner on a Friday night after drinks with friends, we called Osteria Mozza to find out that they had a table for us at 9.30 – Perfect. We were just at the Oyster Bar at Customs House so we took a walk around the harbour to find Mozza, both Osteria and the Pizzeria next door, packed. Thank goodness we didn’t just chance it.

We were quickly shown to our table by efficient and friendly waiters. The ambiance in there struck us as very New York – dimly lit (which makes for poor photos – sorry), dark wood, activity everywhere. From a few places I’ve been to where wooden floors meant terrible acoustics as sound bounced off the hard surfaces, they got it right here. Just the perfect amount of noise without you having to strain to hear your friends speak.

Ricotta and egg ravioli in browned butter

Of course we had to have the home made burrata – we chose burrata with bacon, grilled sardines, crispy pigs trotter ricotta and egg ravioli.
My only other experience of burrata has been at L’Operetta, which serves a much more traditional burrata. The burrata at Mozza lacks the “skin” which, when you slice it, allows the thickened cream to flow out – it’s more like a soft pillowy mound of creamy mozarella. Mozza served theirs on top of toasted sourdough, with crispy bacon and with a generous serving of marinated escarole and caramelised shallots. The escarole and shallots added a sharp zing to the dish which I assume is intended to cut through the richness of the burrata and bacon, but they overpowered the dish and we ended up just eating the burrata and bacon on the sourdough (which was delicious). The sardines were beautifully done and were served with fagioli misti – mixed beans although I just had chick peas with balsamic vinegar on my plate, that again overpowered the dish.

Crispy pigs trotter with frisée apple and mustard salad

The crispy pig’s trotter looked disappointing when served – a single deep fried disc of something crumbed with a frisée, apple and mustard salad – but the trotter inside was soft and tasty and the contrast in texture with the crispy exterior worked wonderfully well together. The ravioli was also not the most beautifully presented – a single, largely mounded ravioli in what looked like a sauce that had been burned with bits in it, but when cut in half, revealed a ricotta-encased soft boiled egg that flowed out into the browned butter sauce. Bold and delicate flavours married perfectly.

For mains we ordered the grilled wagyu beef tagliata and the brasata al barolo – braised short ribs. The first mouthful of each of these was full of oohs and aahs, but strangely by the end of the dishes neither really impressed.  The wagyu was tender and served classically with rucola and parmesan but there was just so much of the rucola and parmesan that it almost hid the beef, and the parmesan was completely unnecessary on a plate with such tasty meat. The braised short ribs were soft but a bit stringy but worked fantastically well with the soft polenta and freshly grated horseradish and gremolata.

I would definitely go back to Mozza for their starters and pasta or perhaps visit the pizzeria next door.  A great addition to Singapore’s dining scene but they need to work on presentation and please take it easy on the vinegar. Perhaps it was just the dishes we ordered but at this calibre, you’d think they’d have nailed that.

Osteria Mozza
Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore
Tel: +65 6688 8868