Category Archives: brunch

Quiche Lorraine

I cheat and use store-bought shortcrust pastry with my quiches. If you have the time to wait for the dough to rest, and don’t mind clearing up the mess (which I always seem to make tons of whenever making pastry) go right ahead.

Quiche Lorraine reminds me of growing up in the suburbs in Sydney and having a slice of quiche with a salad on the side. You can’t really not like it – salty bacon and sweet sauteed onions enveloped in a warm eggy pillow – with pastry. It’s pretty easy, too – just make sure you blind bake your base properly, or it will end up soggy instead of crispy and short, giving you good contrasting textures with each bite.

Ingredients

  1. 1 -2 sheets ready made shortcrust pastry
  2. 1 large onion, diced
  3. 6 rashers (or more if you want) bacon, diced
  4. 200ml heavy cream
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 1 cup grated gruyere or cheddar cheese
  7. salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/390F
  2. Line the base and sides of a loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry
  3. Prick the base, line with baking paper and add pie weights/rice/beans before blind baking in the oven for 15 minutes
  4. Remove the baking paper and pie weights and put back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned
  5. While the base is baking, make your filling
  6. Sautee the bacon on medium-high heat until brown and crispy and remove from frying pan to cool
  7. Reduce the heat to low and cook onions until soft and translucent
  8. Mix cream, eggs, cheese together in a jug.
  9. Season with salt and pepper – remember not to oversalt as the bacon and cheese will provide additional seasoning
  10. Once the base is ready, sprinkle your bacon and onion on the base, and pour in the eggy/cheese mix over
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/320F and bake quiche for 30 minutes or the middle is just wobbly (it will continue to cook a little more once out of the oven)
  12. Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes before removing quiche from the tin
  13. Enjoy hot or cold as leftovers the next day 😉

 

 


Salmon and brown rice pie

All I wanted to do was to change the name of my blog, including the URL. It seemed simple enough at the time but WordPress won’t let me delete the old one, so until I figure it all, out I’m duplicating my posts on both URLs, so apologies if you are receiving notifications twice – I promise I’m looking in to it !

Back to food though, it rained most of yesterday in Singapore – very odd, as usually the tropical storms here are torrential, but last, at most, 30 minutes, then the clouds seem to magically disappear, exposing the warm blue sky again. I’ve been here for five years now yet I’m still surprised that it can be grey and wet outside and still 30C/86F. But while I am cool and dry in my apartment, it makes me feel like it’s winter, and I feel the  need to eat some warm comfort food.

So I decided to make a salmon and brown rice pie. Feel free to substitute with tuna, white rice, even pasta – this is a very versatile recipe.

Ingredients makes enough to feed six hungry people

  1. 3/4 cup brown rice, rinsed
  2. 1/4 cup quinoea, rinsed
  3. 2 cups water
  4. 450g tinned salmon (I had red but you could also use pink)
  5. 1 tbs grain mustard
  6. 1 red onion, finely diced
  7. 1 cup plain yoghurt
  8. 1/2 cup sour cream
  9. 1/4 cup milk
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
  11. 1 cup grated cheddar cheese plus another 1/2 cup for topping
  12. 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Method

  1. Cook the rice first. Add the water to the brown rice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 25 minutes
  2. Add the quinoea, give a quick stir, and cook for a further 20 minutes
  3. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  4. Mix the cooked rice with the the rest of the ingredients except the cheese for topping and breadcrumbs
  5. Line a deep, 11″ pie dish with the salmon/rice mix and press down lightly
  6. Mix the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs together and scatter over the salmon/rice mix
  7. Add a couple of blobs of butter on top to help it all brown
  8. Cook in preheated oven for 30 minutes until golden brown
  9. Let cool slightly before slicing up into wedges and serve warm with a fresh green salad
  10. It’s filling, but don’t despair – you can eat it the next day – it’s still yummy cold from the fridge

Hoorah – I’ve found the best dim sum in Singapore!

Roasted belly pork

I have been on an ongoing quest to find the best dim sum in Singapore since I arrived here five years ago. And for sure, there are plenty that I haven’t visited, but I don’t think I need to look much farther than Lei Garden on Orchard Road.

Prawn rice rolls 

The quality of the food there is exceptional. With dim sum, there always has been a few things which showcase the true skill of the chef. One is the dumpling skin/rice rolls. These are made by hand – I’ve watched chefs do this and the speed in which they roll out individual dumpling skins (and if you think that they can serve up to 700 of just one type of dumpling in one seating) is a delight to watch. So to be fair, anything they can produce like that is amazing, but we are spoiled creatures of choice, so thick, doughy dumplings are indicative of a lack of true skill. The rice rolls at Lei Garden are thin and smooth and so slippery you could almost swallow each mouthful without chewing.

In fact, everything they do with flour – be it rice or wheat, is light and airy and just makes you want to order more (which is exactly what we did).

Their char siu buns were fluffy pillows of soft, steamed buns filled with sweet barbequed pork. And they really select the best pork – their roast pork is probably the best I’ve had in Singapore. The belly pork has the fat thinly and evenly layered and the skin is divinely crisp.

Pan-fried radish cake

Their radish cake – finely shredded radish and rice flour, cut into squares and pan-fried was not oily, but crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth soft inside.

I’d suggest making a reservation because it was full by midday on a Saturday and it’s not a huge restaurant. The quest is never over, but for now, I’m absolutely thrilled that I can get the same quality of dim sum that I have missed so much from Sydney.

Lei Garden Orchard
#03-00 Orchard Shopping Centre
321 Orchard Road
Singapore
Tel: 6734 3988

Open for lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm
Dinner: 6pm – 11.00pm


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


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 Рa garlic chickpea pur̩e 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


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 !


Nerbone at Mercato Centrale, Florence

I’m excited that this is my first post with a video ! I really think the video captures the entire experience, which is waiting for the slightly Soup Nazi guy behind the counter to slice super tender bollito – boiled beef – or lampredotto – tripe/the fourth stomach of the cow – before piling it on to crusty roll along with a fresh green salsa and fiery red sauce.

The place is mobbed with hungry locals and tourists. No-one tells the tourists that there is no queue system here. You order and pay at a separate counter, then it’s like being in a bar – shuffle your way (using elbows if you must) and try to make eye contact with the man who will give you what you want. You can see how soft the meat is as he slices and chops it, and before he adds the meat to the crusty roll, he dips the roll into the beef’s own juices. It adds just the right amount of juiciness to the roll, which is probably why they have been around since the market opened in 1874.

My topped up panini being assembled

D and I ordered one roll of each. I love tripe, but even for me, an entire roll full of tripe was a bit much, so I went back and ordered a half portion more of the bollito and “topped up” my roll.

Both beef and lampredotto were meltingly tender and so full of flavour. We stuffed our faces while watching him make roll after roll for other hungry customers.

If you are in Florence and love simple food, you absolutely must go to the Mercato Centrale (which is awesome in itself for the produce you can get there) and visit Nerbone.

You can also get roast meat sandwiches, which also looked awesome, but you need to prioritise your precious stomach space because they are only open from 7am – 2pm.

Nerbone
Inside Mercato Centrale, entrance on Via dell’Ariento, stand no. 292 (ground floor)
Near San Lorenzo & the Mercato Centrale


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