Category Archives: Nibbles

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives

the view from Blu’s cocktail bar

Spoil yourself one day and make that trip to the Maldives. And if you want somewhere to stay where all the staff – from manager to bell boy – ove working there (happy staff = happy place), and where every detail is covered, stay at the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru. I simply cannot recommend this place highly enough.

Next couple of posts are of a few of the restaurants we ate at while we were there and our favourite was the aptly named Blu, an Italian restaurant, which has a sand bar and where we watched many sunsets while having pre-dinner drinks.

The cocktails are strong and it’s pretty magical being able to enjoy them that stunning backdrop.

Spiced nuts, olives, pickles, onions and breadsticks with rucola dip

Every night we were served some nibbles with our cocktails, with a wonderful rucola dip for the bread sticks. A simple blend of rocket leaves, cream and a dash of mayonnaise. It may sound odd, but try it, the pepperiness of the rocket is mellowed by the cream but it still gives a refreshing zing to the dip.

Stay tuned for more feasting in paradise 🙂

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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 purĂ©e 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

Pamplemousse Bistro + Bar

 Jamón Ibérico with figs and manchego cheese

Surely Singapore is reaching its saturation point for new places to eat with its tiny population ? The Dempsey Hill area alone seems to be continually expanding with new restaurants, bistros and bars, with Pamplemousse being one of the newer residents (it’s been open just over a year now).

My friend M and I went there to catch up a few weeks ago and decided to forgo the set lunch menu, instead opting for a few appetisers from their a la carte menu and a bottle of champagne. To be fair, in this instance the bubbles were more of a priority than the food.

We ordered the  Jamón Ibérico, homemade fresh goats cheese and the beef carpaccio.

The JamĂłn IbĂ©rico was “draped” over figs and manchego cheese with some FrisĂ©. I think they tried to get the same effect as using prosciutto but because this type of ham has been cured for longer it simply doesn’t drape as well, so in this instance rather than looking like the slices magically fell on to the plate, it ended up making the dish look quite sparse. Having said that, the ham was delicious with that uniquely intense saltiness that seems to get more intense as it melts in your mouth as you chew.

Fresh home made goat’s cheese with sliced beetroot

The goats cheese was a surprise for me.  I’m not a huge fan of goats cheese. That twanginess that makes it so appealing to most is the thing that I dislike about it. Pamplemousse serves their fresh homemade goats cheese with thin slices of fresh beetroot and there is only a subtle hint of that twang. That, for me, made it palateable but I would think someone who likes goats cheese might want something to taste a bit stronger ? Having said that, it was a light and fresh dish and was refreshing with the strips of beetroot, especially in the hot Singapore humidity.

Beef carpaccio with Chinese pears, quail’s egg yolk with a yuzu and sesame oil dressing

The beef carpaccio was served with dehydrated Chinese pears, a quail egg yolk (which my friend and I ate around) and a mesclun salad with a yuzu and sesame oil dressing. This dish to me captures what Pamplemousse tries to do – European dishes with an Asian twist. I like the idea, but I found their dishes to be a bit confused and instead of being a perfect fusion of east and west, ended up being a bit schizophrenic.

It’s not that Pamplemousse is not good, it’s just that there are so many places out there, that competition is fierce, and I need that wow factor to make me want to go back again.

Pamplemousse Bistro + Bar
7 Dempsey Road #01-04
Singapore
Tel: +65 6475 0080


Delicate piped shortbread cookies

I have had a bit of an obsession with shortbread since I made Christmas cookies, and I have found a recipe that makes a cookie lighter than air and that literally dissolves on your tongue.

Ingredients (makes about 25 cookies)

  1. 125g butter at room temperature – get the best you can buy because you can really taste it
  2. 35g icing sugar
  3. 50g cornflour
  4. 90g plain flour
  5. Good pinch of salt if using unsalted butter

Method

  1. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy
  2. Add the flours and mix on low speed till you get a soft dough
  3. Pipe shapes on to a cookie tray lines with parchment paper
  4. Put into the fridge for 30 minutes to help them keep their shape while they bake
  5. Heat oven to 180C while cookies are in the fridge and bake straight from the fridge for 20 minutes until golden brown

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

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.

Triple Chocolate Tea Cake

Triple Chocolate Tea Cake

I have been wanting to bake something for a while now. I’ve missed the smell of the flat as the cake cooks, and for something sweet to have with my afternoon cup of tea or coffee.

But what to make ? I have recently taken to making cupcakes and cookies just because it means that you can have small portions and also not make so much that D and I are forced to eat it all *wink*.

D’s immediate response when I asked him what he felt like ? CHOCOLATE.

So I decided on making the most chocolatey thing I could think of – a simple chocolate cake with chocolate buttons and chocolate butter icing.

I went searching for a recipe for a moist, light cake – nothing too heavy – and I found one that ticked the boxes, with the additional benefit of being able to be made in the same pan that you baked it in. I found this on the trusty joyofbaking site and then used a separate recipe for chocolate butter icing.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (195g) plain flour
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed), sifted
  • 1/2 cup (50g) dark chocolate drops/buttons
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (250ml) warm water
  • 1 tbs lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 6 tbs butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbs milk

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and place rack in centre of the oven
  • In an ungreased 20cm (8 inch) square cake pan, stir together the flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, chocolate drops, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • Add the melted butter, water, lemon juice/vinegar and vanilla extract
  • With a fork, mis all the ingredients together until well blended
  • Bake in preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick (or raw stick of spaghetti) inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
  • Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool
  • Once the cake is cool, ice with chocolate icing. You can even cut the cake in half horizontally and add an extra layer of icing in the middle for that extra chocolate hit
  • For the icing, beat the butter and salt together until light and creamy
  • Slowly beat in the icing sugar
  • Add 1 tbs milk at a time and beat well to get a softer consistency




Sausage rolls – with added newness !

Sausage rolls with onion, sage and chestnut stuffing

I made two small changes to my standard sausage roll recipe today. First, I added chopped cooked chestnuts, which I can luckily find in my supermarket in vacuum-sealed packs, and used the puff pastry that comes in blocks rather than sheets. It means that there is a touch of sweetness in the sausage mix, and you can control the thickness of the pastry. I think the pastry:sausage ratio with thicker pastry = the best sausage rolls I’ve made. Our maths lesson for today is brought to you by my Mother in law’s awesome sausage rolls she always bakes loads of when we visit.

Ingredients

  1. 6 good quality pork sausages (or about 350g sausage meat from the butcher)
  2. 1 large onion, finely diced
  3. 1 handful sage leaves, chopped
  4. 150g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
  5. 1 block puff pastry, thawed at room temperature
  6. 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/390F
  2. Combine the sausage meat, onion, sage and chestnuts together in a large bowl
  3. Roll out the pastry to about 1/4 inch thick
  4. Place lines of the sausage meat along the length of the pastry, roll over and seal edges lightly
  5. Cut into 2 inch thick slices and place on to a wire rack over a oven-proof tray and brush with the beaten egg
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown

Ribollita

The famous Tuscan soup, ribollita

Tuscan fare is almost absurdly good. I love that many dishes often have peasant roots, utilising inexpensive, bountiful (in season) ingredients that all come together to make delicious rustic meals.

Ribollita is a perfect example of this. A hearty soup made with leftover bread, cannellini beans and stock vegetables.  Ribollita translates to “reboiled” and was originally made by reheating leftover vegetable soup from the previous day.

It’s deceptively filling, probably because of the bread, but is such a delicious way to start a meal that every dinner I had to order it.