Tag Archives: lunch

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
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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 Jamón Ibérico was “draped” over figs and manchego cheese with some Frisé. 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


A Saturday of French – starting with Cocotte

Cream of cauliflower soup with garlic cream

In the middle of nowhere, on Dixon Road in Little India is Wanderlust – a cute, hip boutique hotel where you can dine at Cocotte. Cocotte is centred around communal dining (dishes can be ordered a la carte or for two, four or six people) where they serve rustic French cuisine in a charming dining area that makes you feel like you have walked into a villa in Provence.

We struggled to choose between some of their signature dishes like fried tripe or poulet roti and their specials and we ended up with a good combination of both.

frisée salad with bacon lardons and poached egg

For me, a cream of cauliflower soup and the fried tripe, and for D a frisée salad and venison. My cauliflower soup was silky and creamy and came with a drizzle of garlic infused cream. Just a hint of garlic in the cream meant that it that didn’t overpower the intense flavour of the cauliflower.

D’s starter was what he called a “healthy fry-up” – bacon lardons and a perfectly poached egg on a bed of crisp frisée lettuce dressed lightly in a vinaigrette.

Signature fried tripe with tomato salsa

My main course – Cocotte’s signature fried tripe – was slow-cooked until tender, and then crumbed and fried so it was super crispy outside. Served with a wedge of lemon and a fresh tomato salsa, I have to say that although I enjoyed it, I think it was mainly because of the crumbed deep-fried goodness. The flavour of the tripe was delicate and not too strong and the paprika in the crumb mixture added some lovely spice to the dish.

Bacon wrapped venison tenderloin with buttered peas

D’s venison tenderloin came wrapped in bacon, seared so that it was almost crispy on the outside but perfectly pink in the middle, with a citrus jus with a garlic purée and buttered peas and peral onions.

Cocotte is a wonderful retreat from the heat and chaos outside in Little India (which has its own appeal) and I’d be really interested to see how the place feels at night. The food is impressive – enough for us to want to return to see what else they have on offer, which is a big thing in Singapore, where there seems to be an abundance of new places opening recently.

Cocotte (ground floor of Wanderlust)
2 Dixon Road
Singapore
Tel: +65 6298 1188

Opening hours (closed Sundays)
Lunch:
Mondays to Saturdays 1200hrs – 1430hrs
Sundays 1200hrs – 1500hrs

Dinner:
Mondays to Thursdays 1830hrs – 2230hrs
Fridays to Saturdays 1830hrs – 2300hrs


Mag’s Wine Kitchen

Pan-fried beef tenderloin with veal jus

From many of the cooking shows on TV, there seems to be a few basic principles of running a successful restaurant. Keep the menu limited, and do what you do well, use only the best ingredients, don’t forget your front of house and love your what you do.

Mag’s Wine Kitchen ticks all these boxes – with a smiley stamp and a gold star on each of them for good measure. Which is probably why it’s still around 15 years after it first opened its doors in 1996.

Creamy artichoke soup

Nestled in the quieter part of bustling Boat Quay, you walk in to this charming French bistro and are greeted by either Mag  herself, who has an uncanny knack of remembering faces and names, or Seth, her maitre d who has been there since Mag’s opened.

The kitchen is open for all to see, the menu small and focused on using the best seasonal ingredients that Mag travels to acquire – we once visited to have fresh umi – Japanese sea urchin that she had just purchased from a trip there, on top of chawanmushi – steamed egg custard – delicious.

Kurobuta pork chop with pineapple salsa

D and I visited during the Christmas period for a quiet lunch and had the two course set from the menu of the day. I had the artichoke soup and the beef tenderloin with a veal jus and D had the beef carpaccio and the kurobuta pork chop with a pineapple salsa.

The soup was fresh and light while creamy and warming at the same time, and the beef – oh my goodness – the most tender and tasty piece of meat I’ve had in a long time, perfectly cooked medium rare, perfectly seasoned and accompanied with velvety mash and roasted vegetables.

Wagyu beef carpaccio

D’s wagyu carpaccio came served wafer thin, with parmesan shavings and rocket and the kurobuta pork came with what tasted like a hoisin glaze and the meat was tender and moist – not an easy task for such a large cut of pork.

Mag’s also has an terrific wine selection to complement all her food, or if you just want to go in for a drink. What more could you ask for ?

Mag’s Wine Kitchen
86 Circular Road
Singapore
Tel: 64383836

Open:
Lunch Monday to Friday – 12noon to 2pm
Dinner Monday to Friday – 6pm to 10pm

Saturday 6pm to 10pm only (Closed for lunch)
Closed on Sunday