Monthly Archives: March 2012

Chocolate brownies

A simple recipe from Bill Granger that will fill your home with the wonderful aroma of molten chocolate. You should always have all the ingredients already in your pantry. Which actually means you could (or should) always make brownies. Crispy on the top and soft and almost gooey in the centre, this basic recipe is also very adaptable (check out Rufus’ food and spirit guide to make them alcoholic).

Ingredients makes 16 squares

  1. 2 1/2 cups Caster sugar – I actually use half a cup less because I like them less sweet (and to make them healthier??)
  2. 2/3 cup Cocoa powder (no sugar just pure cocoa powder)
  3. 1/2 cup plain flour
  4. 1 tsp baking powder
  5. 4 eggs, beaten
  6. 200g butter, melted
  7. Generous pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter, small pinch if using salted butter. I am a firm believer that everything sweet tastes better with salt.
  8. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  9. 200g dark chocolate buttons
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 160C (315F)
  2. Stir the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl
  3. Add the eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract and mix until combined
  4. Mix in the chocolate buttons
  5. Pour into a lined 22cm square tin and bake for 80 – 90 minutes. Stick a skewer or a raw stick of pasta in to the middle and if it comes out clean, it’s ready.
  6. While the block is still warm, cut into 16 pieces
  7. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream
Advertisements

Soupe au pistou

Inspired by Bliss Travel’s suggestion of using my basil pesto to make soupe au pistou, I raided my fridge for what vegetables I had on hand and et voila ! A delicious vegetable soup made even more delicious with the addition of the fragrant pesto. I spooned the pesto on top of my bowl before serving and let it slowly melt over the vegetables and into the soup to keep the flavour as fresh as possible. Alternatively you can add some to the soup and warm through before serving. Use my recipe below as a guide only – vegetable soup should be made from whatever is in season or, whatever is in your fridge.

Ingredients

  1. Smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
  2. 1 onion, roughly chopped
  3. 2 sticks of celery, sliced
  4. 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  5. 1 large leek, trimmed, washed and sliced
  6. handful of cherry tomatoes
  7. 1 cup dried puy lentils
  8. handful spinach leaves

Method

  1. Fry bacon lardons over high heat in a large saucepan until crispy
  2. Reduce heat to medium and throw in onions, celery and carrot and stir so that all the vegetables are coated with the rendered fat from the bacon
  3. Gently fry for 5 minutes
  4. Add leeks and tomatoes and repeat steps 2-3
  5. Add lentils and repeat again
  6. Add enough water (or stock if you want but remember the pesto will add flavour to the soup) to cover the vegetables.
  7. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes
  8. Season at this stage but again remember there will be additional salt from the pesto
  9. Throw in the spinach leaves just before you are serving
  10. Ladle into soup bowl and top with a generous spoon of basil pesto

Takumi Tokyo

Sashimi plate at Takumi Tokyo

A friend of mine lives at Keppel Marina and one evening we decided to go local and have dinner at Takumi Tokyo. It’s a lovely space, with a great view of the marina, and I was surprised there was so few people dining on a Friday night (we later found out people around the area like to drink vs eat, and Privé, the bar downstairs was absolutely mobbed).

There are three areas to sit, matching types of Japanese cuisine – teppanyaki, robotayaki and à la carte. I always love to sit at the counter, so we chose the teppanyaki counter and ordered from that menu, along with a few from the à la carte menu.

The quality of the seafood at Takumi is fantastic, and overall the food is great but I’d stick to the basics – sashimi, momotaro – fresh fruit tomato, although we also had fried conga eel bones which were a deliciously crunchy snack that went well with the Hakata sake we were drinking.

Uni and scallops with a paprika sauce cooked on the teppan

We ordered two dishes from the teppan – butter salmon which was good – simply prepared teppan fried salmon in butter, and then we made an error and got fancy – scallops with sea urchin and paprika sauce. Not sure what I was really expecting but sea urchin disintegrates when cooked and I think the scallops on their own would have been better. I am so used to fresh sea urchin and that fresh sweet flavour of the uni was completely lost.  The paprika sauce seemed to overpower the delicate flavour of the scallops as well.

I am not complaining – I don’t have access to fabulous sashimi a stone’s throw away from me and I’d be keen to try their robotayaki counter next time. Or perhaps relive my Kyoto teppanyaki experience with wagyu steak.

Takumi Tokyo
2 Keppel Bay Vista, #02-01
Marina at Keppel Bay
Singapore 098382
Tel: +65 6271 7414

Open:
Monday – Sunday
12:00pm – 2:30pm
6:00pm – 10:30pm


Artichoke Cafe and Bar

Pan-fried hamoumi with mushrooms and avocado on toast

Tucked away behind Sculpture Square on Middle Road lies a quaint courtyard where Artichoke starts. On a Sunday morning, the small cafe was busy and bustling with groups of friends catching up over cups of coffee and brunch.

The menu is Middle Eastern inspired, and I ordered the haloumi with mushrooms and avocado on toast, and the toasted sourdough was barely visible under a mountain of rocket, shitake mushrooms and pan-fried hamouli. I do have a bit of an issue with shitake mushrooms in non-Asian cuisine, preferring plain old button mushroom with my toast – I think shitake have a slippery texture that I’m unused to, at least for breakfast. I ordered a side of scrambled eggs which was equally enormous, and cooked absolutely perfectly, creamy and just cooked through so their still wobbly, again, reminding me a lot of Bill Granger’s famous scrambled eggs.

I think the service lets this charming cafe down – there’s plenty of staff, they just didn’t seem to be well connected to the kitchen. One order, and three different waiters came to tell us at different times that the sausages, apple juice and fries were not available that morning.

Given that Artichoke is a stone’s throw away from my home, I think that it could be a regular weekend breakfast/brunch destination. The only problem is it’s popularity. Walk-in diners on that Sunday morning were basically turned away as the place was fully booked. So plan ahead and book if you want a seat. I’ve heard the dinner menu is pretty awesome as well.

Artichoke Cafe and Bar
161 Middle Road
Inside Sculpture Square (beside NAFA)
Tel: 6336 6949

Open:
Brunch: Sat & Sun 11.30am – 4.00pm (last orders at 2.45)
Dinner: Tues – Sat 6.30pm – 11.00pm (last orders at 9.45pm)
Closed Mondays


Basil pesto

A wonderfully fresh and versatile sauce that you can simply toss through some pasta, or add a touch of cream to tszuj up pan-fried chicken. One jar will keep in the fridge for two weeks. Easy-peasy as pie to make as well.

Ingredients makes enough to fill a jam-sized jar

  1. 60g basil leaves
  2. 60g toasted pine nuts
  3. 60g grated fresh parmesan
  4. 1-2 garlic cloves
  5. 1/2 – 3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
  6. Generous pinch of salt

Method

  1. Pop the basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan and garlic into a food processor and slowly add the olive oil to help loosen the mix until you have a thick sauce consistency
  2. Season to taste with salt
  3. Store in a airtight jar in the fridge or freeze portions so you always have something fresh and green when you want

Pappardelle with braised pork belly

A slight variation on my usual pork belly in red wine, this just takes a few hours on the stove. I finished the sauce with a few nobs of butter to give it a silky texture that coats the pappardelle.

Ingredients for two

  1. 200g pork belly
  2. 1 onion, finely diced
  3. 1 small carrot, finely diced
  4. 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  5. 1 tomato, roughly diced
  6. 2 glasses red wine
  7. 2 cups chicken stock
  8. fresh thyme
  9. 1 bay leaf
  10. couple of nobs butter
  11. Pappardelle pasta

Method

  1. Brown all edges of the pork belly in a hot pan. You want to get the natural sugars in the meat caramelising. Remove from pan and set aside
  2. In the same pan, add some oil and gently sweat the onions, carrots and celery until they are tender
  3. Add the pork belly back into the pan along with the wine, tomato, herbs and enough chicken stock to just cover the meat
  4. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the temperature to a simmer. Let lightly bubble away for 2 hours. The liquid will reduce a bit so you may need to check now and then that the pork is still covered. I started to shred the pork after about an hour so that every bit of the pork gets to release its flavour, and also  take on the flavours in the pan. Season to taste
  5. After a couple of hours the liquid in the pan should have reduced by about a half and the pork tender enough to shred into meaty chunks.
  6. Cook pappardelle until just cooked in salted water. Reserve some of the cooking water before you drain the pasta – that starchy salty water helps to make the sauce loose and helps the pasta from sticking
  7. While the pasta is cooking, add a few nobs of cold butter to the sauce. It really gives another dimension to the sauce, making it silky and helping to coat the pasta
  8. Pop the pasta into the pan with the sauce, adding a few tablespoons of the cooking water to help the sauce really coat each ribbon of pasta
  9. Serve hot with a good handful of freshly grated parmesan

Crab-crazy

Dry-style salted egg crab 

Strange heading but we do like our crab in Asia, and especially so in my household. After the delicious salt-egg sauce crab at Mastercrab, I wanted to try to find a dry-style salt egg crab and we recently went to Seafood Paradise at the Singapore Flyer for this.

One thing that makes Seafood Paradise unique is that they offer to deshell your crab for you. You can look at this two ways. I recall many years ago in Malaysia, driving for an hour to get to a steamed crab “hut” (because that’s all it was, just an outdoor space that served steamed crabs), where you sat down at a table with cheap plastic stools, were served whole steamed crabs on a wooden board, and were given a plastic bib and a hammer – and told to go nuts. And boy did we – with gusto. The whole experience of being able to make as much mess as possible brought out the child in us all, and it was one of the most messy and fun experiences I recall.

Eating that same crab in a fancy restaurant requires much more restraint and skill, often still ending up with bits of crab flying everywhere or slipping out of your hands onto your (or someone else’s) lap. So the offer of the restaurant deshelling the crab, and serving the meat served in the shell was too good an offer to refuse. How posh and spoiled we felt !

The impressively deshelled crab in white pepper sauce

Having said that, I have to say that once it was presented to us, flesh neatly contained in the shell of the crab, much to my own surprise, I found out that part of the enjoyment (for me, anyway) of eating crab is dealing with getting the fiddly bits of delicious crab meat out of the frustrating shell. Who’d have thought ? (We still ate it all – there is a surprising heat from the white pepper sauce that goes well with the fresh spring onions)

Luckily the main reason for our visit, the dry-style salted egg crab, came in the shell. The waiter actually recommended that we enjoyed the crab in the shell, as this style is about enjoying the combination of the lip-smackingly salted egg yolk baked on to the shell, with the sweet crab meat inside. It’s one of those dishes that’s rich to the point where you can’t eat too much but really wish you could.

Either way, I’d totally recommend this place if you’re looking to enjoy crab – in any of the many styles they offer. Afterwards, you can take a leisurely stroll around the Singapore Flyer to walk off your dinner, and as a bonus even ON TO the F1 track near the pit stop area.

Seafood Paradise @ the Singapore Flyer
30 Raffles Ave
#01-01 Singapore Flyer
Singapore 039803
Tel: 6336 5101

Opening Hours:
Mon – Fri: 11.30am – 3.00pm / 6.00pm – 11.00pm
Sat, Sun & PH: 11.30am – 11.00pm


South African Style ‘(Mel)ktert’…

My first guest post! I love guest posts because I get to share with my friends and fellow bloggers the delicious food that I get to experience with and from other friends and fellow bloggers.

I get so excited when I meet people who are as passionate about food as me, and it always amazes me how many different personalities of “foodies” there are out there. My friend, Melody, is a new resident of Singapore from her native South Africa, and I am always learning something new about South African cuisine and wines from her. She is one of those amazing cooks that loves to experiment and mix things up and I get so inspired by her. The photo below (that I took in harsh halogen lighting) does the milk tarts absolutely no justice. They are gorgeous – cute and delicate and creamy and simply moor-ish. I might have to raid her fridge for the bigger tart she made. She is also an awesome mum with a brutally honest and always entertaining blog about children, food and life in Singapore, melonearth. Please read on for the delectable details from Melody!

Individual traditional South African milk tarts

We’ve all been dying to get together for a catch up, good old board games and a ‘night in’…and of course something yum for the tum.  I woke up on Friday feeling like baking, so instead of my original offering of bringing along a cheese board, I opted for a typical South African delight that’s not too heavy on the gut before we headed into chaos with the board games…even though I used half the sugar, I’m not sure if it was the ‘milk tarts’ or the delicious red (and special bottle of white I brought along) that gave us the sugar rush to carry on till 1am, either way, we had a blast.

The start to the evening was a tad annoying as I refused to glad wrap my tarts for fear of squashing them, so instead, I ended up dropping one…then our dear ‘Uncle’ taxi man had NO idea where we were going and took us on a joy ride around Singapore.  Finally arriving, we made our way up to a homely, beautiful welcome and an instant happy place where dear friend Carol insisted I do a guest post…I am honoured, but admittedly, I was a little scared, as I am by no means a foodie like Carol, I’m just a babbling masterchef wannabe…so here goes!

For the pastry:

2 Cups of flour

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

2tsp Baking powder

125g butter

pinch of salt

Cream butter and sugar together, add egg and all other ingredients till it’s a soft, stiff dough.

It makes a lot of dough, so you can do 2 dishes with this or as I did, 1 full tart and 12 cupcake size tarts.

Bake at 180 degrees until light brown.

For the Filling:

4 1/2 Cups Milk (1.125l)

21/2 Tbsp cornflour

3/4 Cup Sugar (I used brown, raw sugar)

2 1/2 Tbsp flour

Dash vanilla essence

blob of butter

1. Bring milk to the boil slowly, make sure it does not boil over

2. Beat eggs, sugar, flour, cornflour well together and pour into the boiled milk.  Mix well

3. Allow mixture to thicken, then add in the butter and vanilla essence and continue stirring.  The mixture should resemble a porridge consistency.

4. Remove from heat and pour into the shells

5. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes, sprinkle with cinnamon and refrigerate until ready to serve

Enjoy, I know we did (and I still am with the extra full sized tart in my fridge…).

xx


Lovely place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon

Garlic chickpea purée with truffle oil, olive oil and pomegranate molasses and beetroot tapenade

We’d been to LeVel33 before for their Sunday roast, and this time round we didn’t have the stomach to handle that amount of food again, so we thought we would sample dishes from their beer dining menu – essentially their snack menu.

Tender cubes of tenderloin beef worked surprisingly well with a wasabi and soy dipping sauce. Two of the three dips that accompanied a herbed focaccia and crusty olive bread were delicious – a garlic chickpea purée with truffle oil and a vibrant beetroot tapenade. The third, an olive oil with pomegranate molasses was packed with such a sweet tangy punch that was even stronger than an aged balsamic vinegar, a little too strong for me. I like tasting the olive oil and the molasses overpowered the oil completely.

Awesome cold cut platter

The crispy whitebait came out a little over battered and were a touch greasy, which was disappointing given it’s now pretty much a standard gastropub dish, but luckily the last dish to arrive – the cold cuts – saved the day. Various thinly sliced salamis were delicate and soft with a subtle heat from flecks of chilli..

Pair these nibbles with the brewed- on-premise beers and a good range of wines with that spectacular view and LeVel33 makes a pretty great place to spend a long lady Sunday afternoon with friends.

LeVeL33
8 Marina Boulevard #33-01
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1
Singapore
Tel: +65 6834 3133

Open 12pm – 12am daily, 12pm – 2am Fridays, Saturdays and eve of public holidays


Chicken quesadillas

Chicken quesadillas with jalapeno peppers and Monterey Jack cheese

Quesadillas are so quick and simple. You can even use leftover chicken or  beef for these, which makes them even easier, and of course add whatever you want or have in the fridge. I would have added in slices of red capsicum and avocado but my fridge is bare and it’s late.

Ingredients for one serving (one quesadilla)

  1. 2 wraps or similar round flatbread – I use wholemeal
  2. 1 single chicken breast
  3. sliced jalapenos
  4. Moneterey Jack cheese slices
  5. salt and pepper

Method

  1. Butterfly the chicken breast at the thickest part so that it’s an even thickness, season well on both sides and pan-fry till cooked through and golden brown
  2. Slice and arrange on one of the wraps, along with the jalapenos and any other fillings you fancy
  3. Top with a few slices of cheese
  4. Cover with the second wrap
  5. Heat up a skillet on high
  6. Pop the wrap sandwich into the middle of the pan and cook for about 2 minutes – you want to get the cheese melting
  7. Flip over with the help of a flexible spatula and toast the wrap on the other side for 1-2 minutes until the wraps are crispy and golden
  8. Slice and enjoy while still warm so the cheese is still gooey