Tag Archives: cheese

A Simple Snack

Sometimes the simplest things are often the best

I’d run out of the night before’s roast beef to make beef fajitas, and with just a single wrap and a few slices of Monterey Jack cheese, I decided to go simple.

I think the ratio of cheese to wrap was possibly swaying towards the cheese, and it made a molten mess as it melted and oozed out the edges and into the frying in the pan.

The cheese, which I think has a wonderful texture suited to fajitas, but not too much taste when in the fajita, somehow becomes very intensely…cheesy…for want of a better word, when it fries. It also gets all crispy, giving each mouthful an extra satisfying crunch.

Any suggestions on why the change in flavour is so great ? Or am I just late to the game in realising everything does indeed taste better when fried ?

 


The Farmer’s Markets @ Loewen Gardens

We’ve been hankering to go wandering around a farmer’s market for while now. Living in Singapore – a small island where there are effectively no farms and everything is imported – it was always going to be a challenge to find true farmer’s markets.

The Farmer’s Markets at Loewen Gardens certainly has the same feel as a traditional farmer’s market (albeit a lot warmer) – with small, specialty importers bringing in produce from France, Italy and New Zealand – at least the ones we bought from.

Dinner tonight ? Oven-baked Mont D’Or with slices of French Baguette from Gourmet Shop. This seasonal cheese, which is only available from September to April, is matured in its box, giving it a uniquely woody aroma, as well as conveniently being able to stick the entire cheese, box and all, into the oven.

Just 20 minutes in a hot oven (22C/400F) from room temperature, and you have yourself a sweet, molten and quite frankly magical cheese, to smear on slices of baguette. I had roasted a head of garlic to have with the cheese, but honestly – nothing is required except a glass of wine, and a big appetite.

The Farmer’s Market @ Loewen Gardens
75E Loewen Road
Singapore

Open the first and third Saturday of every month


Pesto Alfredo

After recently watching chefs travel through Italy making various pasta dishes, I woke up this morning with pasta on my mind.  I’d recently had a delicious penne alfredo at Il Lido, and decided to try to recreate that dish for lunch – firm tubes of pasta coated in a silky cheesy cream sauce.  I also added some thin strips of ham (mainly because that was what I had in the fridge).  It would also go well with peas or mushrooms.

Ingredients (for two hungry people for lunch)

  1. 1/2 onion, minced
  2. 60g cup butter
  3. 2 tbl plain flour
  4. 1 cup hot milk
  5. 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  6. handful thin strips of ham
  7. 200g penne pasta

Method

  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water while you make the sauce
  2. Melt butter over low heat and gently fry onions until translucent
  3. Add flour and cook to make a roux
  4. Slowly incorporate the milk in batches until you have a thin bechamel sauce
  5. Add the ham and cheese and stir till cheese melts
  6. Drain cooked pasta, add to the sauce  – add a few spoonfuls of the salted pasta water to help thin the sauce so that it just coats the pasta
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste – I make sure this is done only at the end because the butter I use is already generously salted and also you add salted pasta water
  8. Serve immediately

Le Carillon de L’Angelus

Camembert/blue cheese and cold cut platters

A charming place to have a relaxed lunch or after work drinks.  I find it hard to go past the cheese and cold meat platters, but the escargot are all garlicky buttery goodness, especially mopped up with Le Carillon’s fresh bread rolls that are baked on the premises.

Doesn’t hurt that their wine list is pretty awesome as well.

Le Carillon de L’Angelus
24 Ann Siang Road
+65 6423 0353


Brunch @ the Greenhouse @ the Ritz Carlton

Caprioskas waiting to be mixed

I’m going to attempt writing this post while trying to sober up from a food and cocktail coma from 3 hours of indulgence at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. There for a friend’s birthday, the festive atmosphere was surely enhanced with freeflow champagne and a choice of mojitos, caipirinhas, Bloody Marys and caprioskas (most of which were doubles). Aside from the drinks, the choice of food we had available was impressive.

“Buffet hack” – chawanmushi with caviar

The best thing about buffets is that you can have a little bit of a lot.  The ability to sample as many dishes as you can want appeals to someone like me who has difficulty making her mind up on what to order and often ends up with food envy for my friends and their choices.  The birthday girl added more choice with her “buffet hacks”, my favourite was her topping chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg) with some caviar from one of the cold starters – perfect.

We all started with cold seafood.  I was focused on oysters, trying the eight varieties of freshly shucked oysters from France and New Zealand and then I spotted a tray of jamon de iberico, of which a small pile made an appearance on every plate I brought back to the table the entire meal.

The awesome roast pork with crackling

My favourite little things at the buffet were a four cheese tart with fig and walnut, the wagyu roast with the best Yorkshire puddings and gravy, the roast pork (mainly for the super good crackling I have to admit) and the very tart lemon meringue dessert.

Four cheese tart with fig and walnut

The four cheese tart came in a pastry shell that was just firm enough to not crumble and was a terrific contrast to the creamy cheese filling, which was the perfect partner to the sweet fresh fig on top.

Yorkshire pudding with wagyu roast

The wagyu roast was so tender – no matter if you sampled a more well done slice from the edge, or an almost blue slice from the middle – and the Yorkshire puddings were the perfect “mop” for the puddles of gravy that were generously ladled over them.

We finished the meal with a generous sample of the 50 cheeses on offer.  I have to admit, after a good camembert and brie, and a wonderfully tangy roquefort, the rest of the cheeses on my plate were there more for the fact that I could actually have that many varieties on one plate.

Lemon meringue

For a five-star establishment, the design and decor of the Greenhouse gives it a slight feel of a buffet in a cheap Caribbean resort – not helped by the live band playing songs like “Guantanamera” – and I think that detracts from the appeal of the whole experience, which is a slight shame, because the food is really very very good.  Perhaps I’m spoiled by the Raffles Hotel Bar & Billiard Room’s more personal serving of their food, along with the more sedate ambiance, but after all those cocktails, I’m sure no-one cared much, and also, for our boisterous birthday table, perhaps it was the best place to celebrate after all.  Happy birthday Chrissy !

The Greenhouse @ the Ritz Carlton Hotel
7 Raffles Ave
Singapore
Tel: 6337 8888

Sunday brunch: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m


Lasagna

Lasagna for me is pure molten meaty cheesy goodness on my plate.

There are probably thousands of different recipes out there for this but here is mine – it does take some time, because you essentially have to cook it twice, but you can always freeze cooked or uncooked portions and enjoy again later.

For the bolognaise sauce:

  • 600g minced beef
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 stick fresh rosemary
  • 800g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tin tomato paste
  • 2 glasses red wine
  • Lasagna sheets
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  1. In a large saucepan, sweat the onions, then add the celery, carrots and garlic and fry over a gentle heat till soft
  2. In the meantime, brown the mince (you can do them in batches – make sure you don’t overcrowd the frying pan or you will end up boiling the mince instead of actually browning the meat and creating that lovely caramelisation)
  3. Add the mince to the vegetables
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, rosemary and red wine and bring to the boil
  5. Simmer gently for anywhere between 1-4 hours

For the bechamel sauce:

  • 600ml milk, heated till scalding
  • 60g butter
  • 60g flour
  • pinch nutmeg
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  1. Melt the butter and add the flour, stirring constantly so you have a roux
  2. Slowly incorporate the milk on high heat, adding in small amounts and stirring constantly (the roux will suck up the milk and it will start with an almost play-doh consistency, hang in there, it turn out right in the end)
  3. Lower to the lowest flame and cook for 6-8 minutes
  4. Season with salt/pepper/nutmeg

To make the lasagna:

  1. Oil an oval or rectangular lasagna dish (you can also use a baking tin) and place lasagna sheets on the bottom
  2. Cover completely with a third of the bolognaise sauce
  3. Top the bolognaise with a third of the bechamel sauce
  4. Add another layer of pasta and repeat twice more
  5. Cover the top liberally with cheddar cheese
  6. Put into an 180C oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling

For the love of cheese.

Who doesn’t love cheese ?  Well I definitely know the six people around my dining table last night sure did.

It’s a bit of a throwback to the 70s, and every time I do a cheese fondue I wonder to myself why I don’t do it more often.  Then I have think a bit more about exactly what we’re consuming, and then I think it’s time to stop thinking, and just enjoy the molten cheesy goodness.

Certainly not for the fainthearted (or those who are watching their weight), I was lucky enough to work with a Swiss who shared his own recipe with me – according to him, where in Australia the BBQ is the man’s domain, in Switzerland, because the weather is too cold to be outdoors, it is the fondue – it’s apparently all about the fire.  Very caveman.  Anyway, every Swiss man has his own recipe, and this is the one he shared with me.

I have a proper cheese fondue set and I would actually highly recommend it just because of the fact that it’s made of heavy cast-iron that is super easy to clean at the end of the night – the cheese simply wipes off (or if you’re lucky, the crust of cheese from the end of the night just comes off in one cheesy biscuit).

Ingredients:
1 clove garlic
1 glass dry white wine
1 tsp lemon juice
50/50 mix of gruyere and raclette/appenzeller cheese grated (250g per boy 200g per girl)
1/4 cup brandy
2 tbls cornflour
nutmeg, white pepper, paprika

Method:

  1. Smash the clove of garlic and rub on the inside of the fondue bowl.  Discard.
  2. Place the bowl on a stove on medium.  Add the wine and lemon juice.  When the wine is bubbling around the edges, slowly incorporate the cheese, stirring constantly.
  3. Once all the cheese is melted, add the cornflour mixed with brandy and stir for 2 minutes.  The mixture will thicken.
  4. Season with pepper, nutmeg and paprika.
  5. Serve with cubes of chewy bread (sourdough works well), cauliflower florets and boiled waxy potatoes.
  6. I also like serving it with parma ham and salami.
  7. To cut through all that cheese, I also serve with cornichons, pickled onions, fresh tomatoes and slices of red and yellow capsicum and also apple slices.
  8. An optional addition to cut through the heaviness is kirsch (if you can’t get that, we substitute with vodka or limoncello).
  9. At the end of the evening, the cheese that is left (if there is any) should be crispy and apparently should be shared amongst guests as a delicacy !

Thanks Reto !