Category Archives: breakfast

Dark orange marmalade

Scraping the bottom of the jar to get out the last of my marmalade, I decided this weekend to make my own. (I think subliminally I have also been reading a lot of jam recipes, presumably to preserve the last of the summer fruits in the Northern hemisphere). I used Delia Smith’s recipe for traditional Seville orange marmalade with a few brave changes – using 50% brown and 50% white sugar and also a whole lot less sugar than her recipe calls for, which was still a terrifying large amount.

I’d seen/read/heard that the worse thing that can happen to jam is that it doesn’t set, so I also added some extra peel from some oranges I ate, and while I think the sugar part worked out just fine, the extra peel added so much pectin to my mix that the consistency was too firm. The brown sugar makes a dark marmalade with a strong molasses flavour – perhaps that’s why I could get away with using less – but I think maybe 50/50 was too strong and next time I’ll try 25% brown 75% white.

The good thing is that making your own jam is straightforward and fun enough to want to try it again, and guess what friends and family will be getting as gifts soon?

Ingredients

  1. 900g oranges – Seville would be perfect for their intensely sharp flavour but I made it with naval and that turned out fine
  2. 1 lemon
  3. 500g soft brown sugar
  4. 500g white sugar

You will also need:

  1. A large, heavy-based saucepan
  2. Cheesecloth
  3. 6 x 350g jam jars

Method

  1. Add the juice of the oranges and lemon to 2.25l water
  2. Scrape out the insides of the cut fruit and add the pips, the pith and everything else into the centre of the cheesecloth. Leave nothing behind – the pith and pips contain all the precious pectin that will help the jam to set
  3. Cut the remaining peel into thin strips and add to the juice and water. Don’t worry about the excess pith on the rind, it will boil off
  4. Tie up the cheesecloth tightly and pop that into the pot
  5. Bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours
  6. In the meantime chill some saucers in the fridge
  7. Once the peel is soft, remove the cheesecloth bag and allow to cool. Make sure the peel is soft enough so you can rub it to nothing between your fingers and before you add the sugar. Adding sugar arrests the softening of the peel and you don’t want tough rind in your marmalade
  8. Add the sugar to the pan and stir gently over low heat to ensure all the crystals have dissolved
  9. Once the bag is cool enough to squeeze, turn the heat to high and squeeze the contents in the cheesecloth bag. You can do this with two saucers if it’s still too hot. This part is messy, sticky and intensely satisfying as you watch the almost jelly-like goo that contains the pectin ooze out
  10. Stir into the mixture
  11. Once the mixture comes to a rapid, rolling boil, start timing. 15 minutes to start. After 15 minutes spoon a little of the marmalade on to one of the cold saucers from the fridge, and let it cool back in the fridge. Once it has cooled, you can see if your marmalade has ‘set’ by pushing the mixture with your little finger: if it has a really crinkly skin, it is set. If not, continue to boil the marmalade and give it the same test at about 10-minute intervals until it does set.
  12. After that remove the pan from the heat (if there’s a lot of scum, most of it can be dispersed by stirring in half a teaspoon of butter, and the rest can be spooned off)
  13. Leave the marmalade to settle for 20 minutes. This will allow any floating rind to settle
  14. In the meantime, the jars should be sterilised – washed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes
  15. Pour the marmalade, with the aid of a funnel or a ladle, into the jars, cover with waxed discs and seal while still hot
  16. Label when cold and store in a dry, cool, dark place

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.

LeVeL33 @ Marina Bay Financial Centre

Roast fillet of salmon in puff pastry with asparagus spears and hollandaise sauce

The Marina Bay area is simply buzzing with bars and restaurants all eager to take advantage of the views of the Bay. Admittedly, it’s pretty spectacular, and it’s nice to see slight variations of the view from the different locations.

LeVeL33 is a microbrewery on the 33rd floor of the Marina Bay Financial Centre, that is full of natural light that brings the dark timber interior to life. Add chilled beats piped throughout and the nice ambient buzz of other diners as they enjoy their meals with friends and it’s a lovely place to be on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  You can also choose to eat al fresco next to the balcony, closer to the view – although to be avoided for those with vertigo. On the menu was an all-day breakfast, three types of roasts, along with some bigger portions for sharing.

Roast beef with roasted vegetables and Yorkshire pudding

Portions are enormous and I guess that’s them trying to justify the cost of $40 for a roast lunch. Having said that, the food there is good, hearty fare. The roast beef came thickly sliced, piled on top of roasted vegetables, with a yorkshire pudding and lashings of gravy over the entire plate.

My dish was a lovely and light choice – salmon fillet, wrapped in puff pastry on thick asparagus spears with hollandaise sauce.

We’re keen to check out what the menu is like when there’s more choice, apparently the dinner menu is more extensive, and I’d like to see how they transform into a funky bar at night as well.

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


The Dempsey Brasserie

Fish and chips with truffle fries

Dempsey Hill continues to sprout new and exciting places to eat and drink. Less than a week since its opening, we went to the Dempsey Brasserie for lunch on Sunday.

The place is buzzing with activity and the sound of people chatting over their coffees and food.  With its high ceilings, tons of natural light and industrial decor, it appealed to me to “come on in, join us, this is a happy place to be”.  The entire place reflected this, right down to the friendly and helpful staff.

Caesar salad with prawns

On our table we ordered a caesar salad with prawns – crisp romaine lettuce and ciabatta croutons in a light caesar dressing, topped with a coddled egg and prawns and covered with parmesan shavings.  This dish sounded good on the menu, and, according to my friends, tasted fantastic (I had to make a difficult choice on a lazy Sunday afternoon). I would have liked to see the prawns chargrilled to add some colour contrast to the salad but I love how the dressing didn’t weigh down the lettuce and kept the entire dish light and fresh.

I ordered the fish and chips and asked for truffle fries instead of plain shoestring chips.  The fish came served in small portions with a nice crisp batter that still had softness to it inside, and the fish was beautifully steamed rather than heavy and oily.  The small pieces of fish made the meal so much more palatable, to me, anyway, rather than having to tackle a huge fillet of fish, and the portion was just right for lunch.  And the truffle fries were so wonderfully…truffly.

The coffee…well….ok, coming from Sydney my standards are very high, and I would say that the coffee is acceptable for Singapore standards, but they need to train their staff not to heat the milk so that it burns the coffee (making it bitter).  It also doesn’t keep those of us in need of their weekend caffeine hit waiting. Admittedly, I did have a busy weekend of entertaining visiting friends, so I might have been a bit less tolerant than normal 🙂

The Dempsey Brasserie is a great new place for those who want a leisurely meal in a lively environment.  They are also open for dinner, and later in the evening it transforms into a bar.  It will be interesting to see how they work with the space to change the ambience from day to night.  A good enough reason for me to want to go and visit again!

The Dempsey Brasserie
Blk 7 Dempsey Road, #01-03 Singapore
Tel: +65 6473 4500

Opening Hours
Mon–Fri: 5pm – 1am
Sat–Sun: 10.30am – 1am


Dim Sum @ Victoria Peak

Quail’s egg and pig’s trotters stewed with black vinegar and ginger 

Orchard Central is a really odd shopping centre. In a city where shopping is a heritage and a true pastime, you would think that whoever is going to develop a shopping centre on prime location at Orchard Road, would be in tune with the psychology of shopping – make it easy for shoppers to spend. Mind you, Ion just down the road is also a similarly horrendous labyrinth of shops and that’s always packed, but perhaps it’s the type of stores they have there (for example, flagship stores of high-end brands) that draws the crowds.

Char siew pork steamed rice rolls

Anyway, I digress. On the difficult-to-get-to-if-you-don’t-know-that-the-lifts-to-level-11-are-only-on-some-of-the-floors (phew!) is Victoria Peak, presumably named after the famous mountain of the same name in Hong Kong.

Steamed BBQ pork buns

Recommended by a friend, we went today and we were impressed that at not only the range of the food available was, but also the quality. Restaurants that serve dim sum here in Singapore usually also have a la carte items available, and the actual dim sum menu is fairly limited. Victoria Peak is no different, but the range of dishes available on their dim sum menu was broader than the usual three types of dumplings, one rice roll and steamed BBQ pork buns.  Having said that, this is  dim sum, after all, so we did order the three types of dumplings, two types of rice rolls (ooh!) and the steamed BBQ pork buns 🙂  We also ordered some specialities like quail’s eggs and pig’s trotters stewed in black vinegar, soy and ginger, and fried salmon skin, which I have only ever had at one other dim sum.  The overall quality of the food was excellent.

Attentive waiters, an impressive selection of fine wines, should you fancy it (maybe at dinner time rather than with dim sum), completed the circle of good. Just remember how you got there or you might struggle to get out on to street level again.

Victoria Peak
Level 11, 181 Orchard Road
Orchard Central
Tel: +65 6238 7666

Opening Hours
Mon–Sat:11.30am–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm
Sun & PH:11am–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm

Banana Bread

I bought some bananas last week that I didn’t get around to eating, and so decided to keep them till they were really ripe (ie black) and make banana bread.

I’ve made banana breads before using various recipes and the last one I made had so much butter in it that when I toasted a slice, to my horror, you could hear it sizzling. Needless to say that loaf went into the bin, and so this time I went in search of a healthier version that was still moist without so much butter, and also tasty.  I found one on joy of baking and it uses oil instead of butter and yoghurt to keep the bread moist.  I also cut down the sugar because the super ripe bananas give added natural sweetness.

You can add walnuts for added good fats as well as a nice nutty flavour that works well with bananas, and a slice with a cup of tea would be a great healthy way to start the day.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas – the blacker the better)
  2. 1 tsp baking soda
  3. 1/2 cup low fat yoghurt
  4. 1/4 olive oil
  5. 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  6. 1 large egg
  7. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (you can substitute 1/2 cup wholemeal flour or add wheat germ for added fibre and nutrients)
  9. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  10. 1 tsp baking powder
  11. pinch salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Line a 20cm x 10cm loaf pan with baking paper
  3. In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas with the baking soda and yoghurt.  Allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the batter
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg and vanilla
  5. In another large bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt
  6. Combine the banana mixture with the oil mixture and then add to the flour mixture.
  7. Stir until all ingredients are just combined.  This is important so you don’t release the gluten in the flour which will make your bread heavy.  You want to keep it light so that it will rise.
  8. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 mins until the top is golden brown and a toothpick (or uncooked spaghetti stick) comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.

Strawberry Coulis

With my homemade yoghurt needing something sweet to enjoy it with, I decided to make strawberry coulis.  Couldn’t be easier and is the perfect balance of sweet and tart that works brilliantly with plain yoghurt.

Ingredients:

  1. large punnet of strawberries
  2. 2 tbls sugar
  3. juice of half a lemon

My homemade yoghurt with strawberry coulis

Method:

  1. Hull the strawberries and halve and quarter them so that the pieces are roughly the same size
  2. Combine strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil
  3. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occassionally
  4. Cool and enjoy over yoghurt or would be nice over a meringue or steel cut oats
  5. Store covered in the fridge for up to a week

Home-made yoghurt

I have an ongoing obsession with yoghurt. I love the tangy, twangyiness of it, but I miss the creamy versions that I used to be able to get from the food courts back in Sydney.  There, you get thick dollops of creamy yoghurt, topped with a variety of fruit/pulp of your choice – passionfruit, blueberries, fruit salad – you name it.  You can get semi-decent store-bought yoghurt here, but the ones that aren’t full of sugar or that use organic ingredients can be a bit pricey.

A recent visit to Blu Kouzina inspired me to make my own yoghurt (to make tzatziki).  Their tzatziki was thick and creamy and just the right side of sour.  Worked so well with their home-made pita bread.

I did go out an buy a yoghurt maker just because it makes keeping a steady warm temperature easier, but if you go online there are ways of doing this in your oven etc.

For me, all I had to do was to bring a litre of milk up to 85C.  This process kills off the bad bacteria that makes milk go bad. If you don’t want to burn your milk, you can do this over a double boiler – otherwise, keep stirring the milk in the pan.

Once that’s done, take the pan off the heat, and place into a water bath to bring the temperature to 25C.  I have a thermometer so this makes it easy.  Be patient, it can take some time.

Take a small amount of the cooled milk and either add 5g of yoghurt starter culture (bought from a health food store) or you can take a small portion of ready made yoghurt, mix well, and add back to the rest of the milk.

Pour the milk into the jars, cover, and place undisturbed in the yoghurt maker.  I used starter culture and followed the instructions on the packet and left it overnight for 12 hours.  It was like magic – milk goes in, and when I woke up, the jars had yoghurt !

I saved a few jars to have as breakfast – I am going to stew some strawberries with sugar to top the yoghurt with.

The rest I strained in a clean teatowel over a bowl for 3 hours and I have the thickest, creamiest yoghurt with which to make my tzatziki with.

I even used half a cup of my freshly made yoghurt to make healthy banana bread.

Call me odd but this has just made my Sunday !


Overeasy

Blueberry and banana pancakes

Celebrating a very late birthday with a friend, last Friday we went to Overeasy at One Fullerton.  That place has really got it right.  The entire strip of restaurants and bars along there barely has any customers, and Overeasy – an American restaurant – is mobbed.  Then again, Overeasy is run by the same people who also brought Singapore the likes of Loof, White Rabbit and the insanely popular Butter Factory.

The vibe there is excellent.  Great tunes keep feet tapping and the food keeps the tummy lined so the patrons there can drink more and be merry.

And how could you not be – the staff do well considering it was a mobbed Friday night (are my standards lowering from being in Singapore for four years now I wonder), the aforementioned music old skool cool and you get a fantastice view of Marina Bay Sands.

Add to that the pancakes which my friend was determined to have that night.  I seem to be on an unintentional pancake mission of late. Nevermind – I’m more than happy to sample pancakes because I love them. And these were really very oddly great.  Odd because it’s strange to be eating pancakes in an outdoor bar at 10 in the evening (Overeasy serves all-day breakfasts), great because they are well, great. And I think the odd surroundings and timing make them seem even more good.  Three small pancakes, fluffy and perfectly cooked, covered in strawberries or a blueberry/banana topping.

We also tried the chicken wings which were a little greasy for my liking – might sound strange saying that about deep fried wings but Que Pasa/No 5 manages to make them perfectly crunchy without the additional grease, and the battered fish which were more batter than fish.

I’d not go there specifically for the food, but I’d definitely try the pancakes if you’re there.  Add a “giant laser” show (it’s not really, I just wanted to write that haha) off Marina Bay Sands and it all makes for an easy way to spend a Friday night.

Overeasy
One Fullerton
1 Fullerton Road, 049213
Tel: 6423 0701

Open Mon-Thu 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-3am; also open Sun

Bathers’ Pavilion Cafe

Picture perfect morning at Bathers’ Pavilion Cafe

It’s really very difficult to beat a perfect day in Sydney in Autumn or Spring. The weather just makes everything look like it’s been colour enhanced with its azure blue skies and there’s a breeze that gives a hint of cool respite from the sun.

This morning was one of those perfect days and we decided to take advantage of it and grab breakfast down at the Bathers’ Pavilion Cafe at Balmoral Beach.

Mid-way through my breakfast fry-up – scrambled eggs on toast with bacon, sausage, portabello mushroom, roasted tomato and potato rosti

Bathers’ is a Sydney institution – one of those iconic restaurants that have been around for as long as I can remember, making indoor beachside dining even more sunny than outside.  In addition to the spectacular views this place has, the rest of the dining experience is just spot on, starting from the friendly and efficient staff who are ever attentive and seem to magically appear when you are ready to order, but you never noticed prior to that moment.  It’s also comforting to know that it’s also had the same chef for the last 12 years, with chef/owner Serge Dansereau still at the helm.

I stuck to my standard big breakfast – scrambled eggs on toast with roasted tomatoes, bacon, pork sausage, portabello mushroom and potato rosti.  It turned up shortly after I ordered, the eggs perfectly cooked juuust on the right side of runny, the bacon cooked to salty perfection – it all looked so appealing that I immediately tucked into the food before I remembered to take a photo.

Blueberry pancakes

My sister ordered the blueberry pancakes.  I had buttermilk pancakes from Pancakes at the Rocks earlier this week, and found them very doughy and not at all what I remembered.  The ones at Bathers’, on the other hand, were amazingly light and fluffy, not too sweet, with fresh blueberries cooked into the pancake like little treats with each mouthful.

A stroll along the beach after makes for an absolutely perfect Sydney morning.

Bathers’ Pavilion Cafe
4 The Esplanade, Balmoral, Sydney
Tel: (612) 9969 5050