Monthly Archives: December 2011

Happy New Year !

As the end of 2011 ticks closer and closer, I’d like to thank all of you for sharing your lives with me and allowing me to share mine with you.

Here’s to a sparkling 2012 filled with fun and most importantly, more great food adventures !

I leave you with a photograph of my hometown Sydney and their fireworks spectacular over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. It’s a cheat photo from a previous year but I do wish was there with my family.

HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!

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Merry Messy Christmas !

A wonderful way to celebrate anything

I love a Sunday champagne brunch. Add it being Christmas so that someone else cooks you an enormous array of food with none of the stress of having to cook, and more importantly, none of the washing up, and that makes a pretty good way to spend any afternoon in my books.

D and I were family-less in Singapore this year, so we were adopted out to a friend’s family who were visiting from the UK, and we decided to celebrate Christmas with them at the gorgeous Fullerton Hotel.

Roasted turkey with Yorkshire pudding and gravy

The hotel extended their usual brunch area to include the other restaurants and half of the lobby so we were literally surrounded by happy, festive people, and a lot food.

The essentials for Christmas – roast turkey, ham, beef and lamb were on offer with all the trimmings, in addition to the standard brunch fare of cold seafood, Asian roast meats (char siew, roast pork and duck), breakfast station, and the appetiser station. And of course let’s not forget the sweets, for which the Fullerton outdid itself this year. I think I counted three dessert tables that included a chocolate fountain and so much cheese I found it hard to find my favourites.

Selection of appetisers – foie gras on a fig compote, champagne truffle risotto and roasted pumpkin ravioli

And with a glass of Moet champagne that was attentively never less than half full throughout the four hours we were there and we had a very, very, merry (and messy) Christmas ! I hope everyone had a wonderful festive weekend with family and friends as well !


the Disgruntled Chef

Signature crispy lamb short ribs

Tucked away in Dempsey Hill near PS Cafe lies the Disgruntled Chef, where Daniel Sia (formerly of the White Rabbit) has designed a menu that is meant for sharing. Small appetisers, tapas-style, followed by a few main course dishes. Absolutely perfect for D and I who want to try everything on offer.

The friendly staff go through the menu with you, highlighting the signature dishes of the house, of which we picked the crispy lamb short ribs, the crab cakes and the serrano ham, and then D spied the “snack menu” which had thick cut truffle fries and brioche with cheese and truffles. It sounded so much like the truffle sandwich from Procacci in Florence we simply had to try them as well.

The lamb short ribs are pretty awesome – they must be slow-braised so they are tender and then fried till crispy, and come served with a generous dusting of crushed chilli, cumin and coriander seeds, served on dollops of yoghurt. I don’t eat lamb (my family didn’t eat it so I never grew up with it and I don’t like the strong smell and taste it has) but even I had to try some.  The chef really nailed this dish – a true balance of textures and flavours and not “too lamby” at all (although for those who like lamb, that might be a downside).

Warm brioche with cheese and truffles

And the humble brioche with cheese and truffles ? Turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening. The brioche is not too sweet and comes as a flat bun filled in the middle with cheese and truffles, which is then warmed to release the aroma of those truffles. Absolutely delicious.

Crackling suckling pig with crudites and clove and honey dip

For mains D and I tried the crackling suckling pig. I think having the word “crackling” in the description really does set very high expectations, and I think had they not done this, the dish would have been perfectly acceptable. Lovely tender meat with crispy skin that comes with a clove and honey dressing which had some acidity that helped to cut through the richness of the meat.

Would I rush back there again in a hurry ? I’m not really sure. There are just so many new casual dining restaurants springing up in Singapore that you really need to knock my socks off to lure me back again, but if you’ve not been, then make sure you try the lamb and the brioche.

The Disgruntled Chef
26B Dempsey Road
Singapore 247693
Tel: +65 6476 5305
E: BOOKINGS@DISGRUNTLEDCHEF.COM

Open
Tues – Thurs – lunch 12pm – 2.30pm /dinner 6pm – 10.30pm
Friday & Saturday – lunch 12pm – 2.30pm/dinner 6pm – 11.30pm
Sunday brunch – 12pm – 4.30pm/dinner 6pm – 10.30pm
(closed Mondays)


Merry Christmas !

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, MERRY CHRISTMAS ! Hope your day is full of wonderful food enjoyed in the company of family and friends.


Pork sausage and puy lentil casserole

As I didn’t get to finish my main course from Latteria Mozzarella Bar, I thought I would make something from the leftovers/doggy bag the following night. I had bought some lovely puy lentils which my supermarket just started stocking, and adding them to a casserole with my sausages made perfect sense.

I also had leeks and swiss brown mushrooms in my fridge, so in to the casserole they also went, to make a good earthy, warming meal.

You can just as easily use fresh sausages for this dish, but I would then add a garlic to the casserole (see recipe below).

Ingredients for 2 servings

  1. 4 good quality pork sausages
  2. 1 glass dry white wine
  3. 4 cloves garlic (optional, see note above)
  4. 1 large onion, sliced
  5. 1 cup swiss brown mushrooms, halved
  6. 2 large leeks, rinsed and sliced
  7. 1 cup puy lentils, rinsed
  8. 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  9. 2-3 sage leaves, chopped if fresh, or 1 tsp dried sage
  10. 1-2 bay leaves

Method

  1. In a heavy-based saucepan, heat some oil and brown the sausages – they don’t need to be cooked through at this point if you’re using fresh sausages. Remove from pan and set aside. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1” slices
  2. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, pour into a jug, set aside
  3. Heat more oil in the pan and gently sweat the onions until translucent
  4. Add garlic next if you are using them
  5. Add leeks and mushrooms and fry until soft
  6. Add the sausages and white wine
  7. Add lentils and sage and bay leaves and enough stock to cover all ingredients and bring to a boil
  8. Lower heat and gently simmer for 1 1/2 hours till lentils are cooked through
  9. Serve with crusty bread

Latteria Mozzarella Bar

Burrata with tomatoes and basil on a bed of rocket

I still haven’t come down from my Italian food high/obsession following on from our recent trip to Italy although I do think we’re a bit poorer now for all the white truffles we’ve had since we’ve been back. Lucky they are seasonal !

What isn’t seasonal though, and what is increasingly more popular and appearing in menus across Singapore, is fresh mozzarella, and in particular, burrata.

So we were more than happy to visit our friend Beppe De Vito’s new venture in Duxton Hill, Latteria Mozzarella Bar.

The menu features eleven types of fresh mozzarella that Beppe imports twice weekly from Italy.  D and I tried the knotted mozzarella from Puglia, and burrata, which we asked for served simply with tomatoes and basil. The Puglia cheese was lovely but paled into comparison with the wonderfully creamy burrata.

Rolled pork sausage 

For my main I ordered the rolled pork sausage, and this came as three garlicky, porky snail-shaped sausages with flecks of sweet peppers, on a bed of sauteed mushrooms and a black olive tapenade. Great, earthy flavours combined on a plate.

I ended up doggy-bagging a lot of my main, firstly because the cheese starters were so filling, and I wanted to save space for dessert.  We ordered one to share, and thank goodness because the tira misu is huge.

Add a bottle of prosecco and you have a wonderful and most civilised way to end a Monday. You could just as easily simply work your way through the menu of gorgeous mozzarella.

Latteria Mozzarella Bar
40 Duxton Hill
Tel: 68661988

Opening Hours (closed Sundays)
Mon–Thu: 12pm–2.30pm, 6pm–11pm
Fri: 12pm–2.30pm, 6pm–1am
Sat: 5pm–1am


Delicate Shortbread Christmas Cookies

I’ve made shortbread with rice flour before, and this time I substituted half a cup of plain flour with cornflour to make the shortbread melt in your mouth (rather than have the crispy texture you get with rice flour). Use the best quality butter you can find because you can really taste it in shortbread. I also use a vanilla bean paste but you can use pure vanilla extract. Just don’t use anything labeled “imitation” – apart from being made in a lab, it leaves a bitter aftertaste.

These rich, tender cookies go perfectly with a nice hot cup of tea.

Ingredients makes about 40 stars

  1. 250g unsalted butter at room temperature
  2. 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  3. 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt (I think every sweet thing needs salt for balance, so it might be a bit heavy for some, adjust to your own taste)
  5. 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  6. 1/2 cup cornflour

Method

  1. Cream the butter till light and creamy (about 1 minute)
  2. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating for another 2 minutes
  3. Stir flours into the butter/sugar mix until just combined
  4. Put the dough onto a large piece of clingfilm, shaping into a rectangle as you go, wrap/cover and let rest in the fridge for an hour
  5. Preheat oven to 180C (350F)
  6. Roll the delicate dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch and cut out whatever shapes you want. Dip the cutter into a bowl of flour before you cut each cookie to help you get the dough out of the cutter
  7. Place on a baking paper-lined tray and decorate with any sugar or silver cachous you want
  8. Bake for 10 minutes till lightly brown
  9. Let cool for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely
  10. You can decorate with any icing once cooled if you fancy

Hokkien soya sauce braised pork belly

I have no idea how I ended up cooking this for dinner tonight, but gosh I’m glad I did. This dish (in hokkien is called tau yew bak – literally translated, soya sauce pork) is one I haven’t had for maybe 20 years and the cool thing is eating it took me right back to when I was a little girl and my mum made it for me.

I think I just fancied some comfort food, and this dish, which is essentially pork belly that is stewed for 2 hours in a combination of soya sauce and spices like cinnamon and star anise, is warmingly melt-in-your mouth tender and is yummy served simply with rice.

Living in Singapore, I also tend not to cook Chinese food because access to top notch Chinese food is so easy here. And there is also the variety of different Chinese cuisines, from Hokkien or Peranakan (which is my heritage) to Cantonese (which is what I grew up with in Sydney), to Hakka, Peking, Hainanese…you name it.

The problem with eating out is that it’s tough to get brown rice unless it’s at some organic, vegetarian, peace-loving-type restaurant, and the most authentic food is just not served in places like this. My palate has been trained to like white rice with Chinese dishes, so my recipe below might be ridiculously simple, but it was a way for me to enjoy eating rice, with a 50% good component with the mix of brown rice. I just had to get over one of the basics of cooking rice – not to stir it around, ending up in mushy rice – and working out the logistics of different water and time ratios of cooking the two types together.

The recipe below is my rough guide on measurement – it’s a forgiving dish and doesn’t need to be precise so add more or less to taste

Ingredients makes enough to serve 4

  1. 300-400g pork belly, cut into 2cm strips
  2. 4-6 cloves garlic
  3. 1 stick of cinnamon
  4. 1 star anise
  5. 1 tsp black peppercorns
  6. 1 tbl Chinese five spice powder
  7. 1/4 cup dark soya sauce
  8. 2 tbl light soya sauce
  9. 2 tbl sugar (or to taste)
  10. 1-2 cups water
  11.  1-2 hard boiled eggs

Method

  1. Blanch pork in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes to remove any impurities. Drain well. Discard the water
  2. In a claypot or a saucepan, heat up some oil and add the pork, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns and five spice and fry until fragrant and the pork has browned
  3. Add the soya sauces and sugar and bring to boil for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens and the sugar begins to caramelise
  4. Add the water, bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to a gentle simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Again the amount of sauce is personal. Some like it sticky and almost dry (me), some like it with quite a lot of sauce
  5. About 30 minutes before serving, add the boiled eggs
  6. Serve with rice and vegetables
  7. For my mix of 50/50 white/brown rice, add 2 cups boiling water to 1/2 cup of brown rice and simmer for 25 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup of rinsed white rice, stir, cover and simmer for an additional 20 minutes

Tomato and onion jam

This year I have branched out in my lead-up-to-Christmas cooking. In addition to cookies, I made a tomato and onion jam over the weekend.

There’s something that I find intensely comforting about cooking, especially when I have the luxury of time (ie not for a Monday night dinner). I had the flat to myself for a few hours, so I amped up the volume on my favourite playlist and got chopping, chopping, chopping.

This recipe is another one of those that is incredibly easy and just needs time for all the flavours to intensify, and is a really versatile jam that can be used with chicken or pork, and also works spectacularly well with a sharp cheddar (or any cheese for that matter). Oh and it’s based on another famous recipe from my mum-in-law 🙂

I made a monster amount of this jam – I figured I’d spend the time once to make a big batch, put in sterilised jars and share with friends. If you don’t have a large enough pan, feel free to cut down the amount you make to suit your needs.

Ingredients (makes enough to fit 6 x 250ml jam jars)

  1. 3 kilos of tomatoes – I used a mix of vine ripened, roma and cherry – roughly chopped
  2. 2-3 medium red onions, sliced
  3. 1/2 cup golden raisins
  4. 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  5. 1 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1/2 cup malt vinegar (I’ve also made this with red wine vinegar)
  7. Juice of 2 lemons
  8. 2 tsp salt
  9. 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  10. 1/2 tsp ground coriander

Method

  1. It’s a pretty mammoth task to chop 3 kilos of tomatoes and in a perfect world you should discard the skins and seeds, so feel free to, but I didn’t de-skin mine and just didn’t add any seeds that were on the board when I was chopping
  2. Add all the ingredients together in a pot that’s big enough to fit everything in, and stir well to combine
  3. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to a gentle simmer
  4. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid evaporates and you’re left with a sticky jam – this can take anything from 3-8 hours. I should have taken a photo of what it looks like when ready but you can use the above as a photo as a guide. When I made smaller batches it only took 3, yesterday’s took 8, so the time you have available is something also to consider
  5. If you are going to jar the jam, then you should sterilise your jars to help prevent contamination and also so they keep for longer. After washing the jars well in hot soapy water, you can either put them in the dishwasher (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or do what I do and put the clean jars on a paper lined tray in an oven at about 160C (320F) – remove any rubber seals if your jars have them – 30 minutes before you think your jam is done. After 30 minutes, carefully remove and put the hot ham in the jars while they are hot so that you minimise bacteria/mould growth and once slightly cooled, pop them in the fridge.

Warm quinoa salad

Trying to fully recover from this flu I’ve had for over two weeks now, I am putting a bit more effort in to preparing meals that are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants to help my body fight off the bad guys.

This quinoa salad I made for lunch was super easy, delicious, and full of goodness. I love quinoa – you cook and eat it as a grain, but it has a very high protein content (unlike wheat or rice) and is also gluten-free (for those of you who are intolerant).

Any suggestions on new and inventive ways to include quinoa in my diet ?

Ingredients (makes 2-4 lunch-sized portions)

  1. 1 cup quinoa – rinsed if not already pre-rinsed to remove the bitter outer coating
  2. 2 cups boiling water
  3. 2 cups of any vegetables you have in your fridge, diced: this time for me I had capsicum, cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, red onions and mushrooms
  4. juice of 1 lemon (or to taste)
  5. extra-virgin olive oil
  6. salt and pepper
  7. optional – add nuts for more super goodness – toast some raw almonds or pinenuts
  8. another option – crumble tangy salty feta cheese on top

Method

  1. Add the quinoa to the boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. The cooked grain should have a tiny curl that has separated from the seed, and have a nice bite to it (like al dente pasta)
  2. Transfer to a large salad bowl and fluff with a fork (as you would with couscous)
  3. Add the vegetables and mix
  4. Dress with the lemon juice, a good glug of the olive oil and salt and pepper