Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Category Archives: Recipes

WWF Sustainable Seafood Festival 2014 – Pick The Right Catch Cooking Class

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All the cooking I’ve done recently has consisted of either slapping some steak onto a pan or tossing together fridge food to be microwaved – which is to say not much cooking at all. Things have changed, among which newly developed food intolerances, but that’s a story for another day.

It was hence a pleasure being invited down to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) “Pick The Right Catch” Cooking Workshop at TOTT to get my elbows dirty in cooking grease again. This week, from 8 – 15 June, the WWF is celebrating Singapore’s first sustainable seafood festival by encouraging responsible seafood consumption.

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Considering how Singaporeans eat over 140 million kilogrammes of seafood a year, simply choosing Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified seafood will certainly have a massive impact on the world’s oceans. To make shopping decisions for home cooks easier, the WWF has even created a free and printable Singapore Seafood Guide in English and Mandarin. Just purchase seafood on the green list and we’ll all be doing our part in supporting sustainable seafood.

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We had Executive Chef Lucas Glanville from Grand Hyatt Singapore bring us through three recipes he’d created that features sustainably-farmed seafood. I’d been paired up with Victoria from HungryGoWhere and were secretly high-fiving each other when we saw that all the ingredients had already been prepped in neat plastic containers. And washing up? What washing up?

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Browned Butter Cinnamon Sugar Bombs

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I’ve created a monster. Well, mini monsters, fun-sized gremlins on crack.

I must admit, the only reason I’m actually punching out a recipe post after ages of my last one is because I need to quickly gush about this while I’m still high off cinnamon sugar. This is coming out now as I lick my fingers clean.

I don’t think this needs further introduction. It’s all in the name, and it’s everything that it sounds like, except better. There will be no sugar-coating (har har) in this post, because I want to get right into the crux of the batter, I mean matter.

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This.

I must have burnt the tips of my fingers a little, handling these bumpkins the moment they were birthed from the oven, dunking them into nutty browned butter, and rolling them in cinnamon sugar. After a handful of attempts at making cinnamon buns, I’m almost ashamed to say that I think I’d give that up and settle for this instead.

This is one of those situations in which I don’t know what I did right, can only speculate, but am more than content to indulge in its spoils anyway. I couldn’t be bothered with buttermilk so I threw in a couple of tablespoons of tangy Greek yoghurt as a substitute and must have stumbled upon some wonder of alchemy in the process. The result is a springy, tender inside perfumed with a hint of nutmeg, and a crusty top. That’s it. Oh, and I almost forgot – the browned butter did all the rest.

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Browned Butter Cinnamon Sugar Bombs

Adapted from Smittenkitchen

The browned butter makes all the difference, as I have come to learn from any recipe that calls to melt butter. It’s a drastic change in flavour and aroma from butter that has only been melted, and requires only a couple of minutes longer atop the stove.

Yield: 8-10 medium muffin-sized bombs

Ingredients:

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing muffin cups
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup full-fat milk
3 tbs Greek yoghurt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Butter or oil 10 medium muffin cups.

2. Prepare topping. In a small pan, melt 6 tablespoons butter and cook till the surface starts to brown a little and the butter smells nutty. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, mix and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

4. Combine the milk and yoghurt in a cup.

5. In another medium bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together until pale and light. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix till the mixture thickens.

6. Add in 1/2 the flour mixture, stirring gently, and then 1/2 of the milk mixture. Repeat for the remaining flour and milk mixtures. Fold until just combined, taking care not to beat the mixture.

7. Scoop the batter into the cups 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15 minutes till golden brown.

8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the cups (or you can keep them on) and dipping the tops and sides lightly in the browned butter, and then the cinnamon sugar. Try not to press down into the butter or sugar to prevent uneven bits from sticking.

Dark Rye 35% with Raisins and Walnuts

It’s been far too long since anyone here has heard of anything popping out of my oven. The friends I meet during the week don’t count since they happily keep mum with all the bread I’ve been chucking at them.

Truth is, I haven’t had much inspiration for the stove. Life has been dull and uneventful, and I feared my food will turn out far from pretty. But see, I need my bread every day, even if I have to resort to spree-ing at Paul (post on that soon) so that I may have breakfast the next few days. I haven’t been home long enough to bake my favourite carbohydrate, let alone harbour thoughts of it. But finally, inevitably, tasting some of the loaves that Paul had to offer was the very reason why I got fed up and threw together a pre-ferment for home-made bread the next day.

Meet my Dark Rye version 3.0.

The first post I did on my Dark Rye was a 55% loaf (percentage of dark rye flour to total bread flour), was more earthy, tacky, dense, and took 40 minutes in the oven. I decided to give it multiple facelifts, finally refining it into what I think is the best dark rye loaf anyone could ask for: light, more nutty than earthy, studded with crunchy walnuts and sweet raisins, a killer crust, and took only 25 minutes to bake.

Of course, here’s the mandatory crumb shot:

I usually bake more than my family can finish in a week and give a couple of loaves away. But this, I’m not sharing. Unless you make a pilgrimage to my place where I’ll be smearing toasty slices with salted butter and sipping a good ol’ cup of coffee.

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Wholemeal Sourdough

Wholemeal Sourdough

I have bad news.

While this piece of news may not exactly bother much of anyone, it bothers me on a very emotional, fundamental, devastating level.

Someone threw away my 8-month-old sourdough starter from the fridge.

This wasn’t so much a proper sourdough starter since I used the Old Dough method of acquiring sourdough – I add this piece of dough to every batch of sourdough I make, cut off a piece from the main bulk of dough, keep it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and let it sit in the fridge until I make a new batch where the process repeats again.

It’s not quite as exciting as the conventional way of creating sourdough, since I hear that intimately naming a newborn sourdough starter is just one of the thousand of loony things bread fanatics do from time to time for their sourdough starters.

Wholemeal Sourdough

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Dark Rye Bread with Raisins

Dark Rye Bread with Raisins

My first introduction to rye breads came in the form of pumpernickel bread, those dark brown, unimaginably dense bricks (not loaves) of bread made with coarsely ground rye grains and rye berries. I hardly think of them as bread. In fact, I placed my mug of iced tea on a slice lying on the table thinking that it was a coaster, and it was only after my mom picked up another hefty slice to slap me away – I suffered oblong bruises – that I realised I just ruined her snack.

I didn’t take to pumpernickel very well. The musky earthiness, sweet-sour tang, grainy bits and coarse texture made me feel like I was gnawing on rabbit food. Suffice to say, dark rye breads didn’t get much of my attention as well.

And then I started getting my bread geek on, and all of a sudden, I saw how unearthly beautiful the dark rye fissures in a misty blanket of white looked on the loaves I saw occasionally in Cold Storage or Carrefour. I wanted them. I wanted to craft those crevices.

And then, I couldn’t find dark rye flour (because what demented person would want to bake artisanal breads at home? I mean, sheesh!).

Dark fissures.

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Caramelized Onions and Bacon Pasta

Caramelized Onions and Bacon Pasta

I’ve been having something of a writer’s block lately. It’s crippling. There’s nothing worse than a backlog of posts and pictures to share of what I’ve been gorging myself with the past couple of weeks to remind me just how bad things can get when my muse runs out the door. But nevermind that, because here’s what I gorged myself with for lunch on Tuesday.

Eggggg.

Old as it may sound, the fancy meals I sometimes (ahem..rarely) whip up are because there’s some kind of complaint in the household. I don’t cook for myself, in fact, you don’t want to know the kinds of things I eat if I’m left to fend for myself for a meal. So it’s only when there’s some potential disharmony brewing under the roof, you know, things like “Why are we having boring steamed chicken again?”, “Can have some else or not ahhhhhhh”, or perhaps “I want pasta but I don’t want this kind of pasta” (and one is supposed to practice some form of divination to figure out what pasta the brother wants, or better yet, what he doesn’t know he wants but will like) But no matter. If there’s anything that will always be a crowd pleaser, it’s the coupling of caramelized onions and crisp bacon. ‘Nuf said.  Read more of this post

Homemade Naan

Homemade Naan

Following up on my impassioned spiel about fluffy Middle Eastern flatbread: No, I have not gotten the chance to revisit Sofra to bully and harangue the chefs into handing over a recipe, or better yet, their oven.

I did, however, throw together Pita dough the next day, you know, for Pita bread. And Pita bread isn’t Pita bread without its ability to turn into a handy semi-circular pocket with which to stuff all things chunky and drippy and tasty, like so.

No, this is not a mistake. And no, I did set out to make pita. I can differentiate Pita from Naan, thank you very much.

So what in Hummus’ name happened?

Well, they didn’t puff.

And so they went the way of all disobedient Pitas and became Naan.

Very, very yummy Naan at that.  Read more of this post

Earl Grey and Lemon Cake

Earl Grey and Lemon Cake

It’s been raining, and as you’re reading this, you probably rolled your eyes because chances are, it’s still raining.

It rained continuously for 16 odd hours on Sunday, and I’m not counting in Saturday because it was a start-and-stop thing as if the sky thought it would be funny to sprinkle a little of this and that every now and then like Tinkerbell on crack. I spent the entire day frolicking around in the now severely eroded and muddied wreck that is Fort Canning Green at the Laneway Music Festival. I can’t imagine what it looks like now.

And since the sky didn’t look like it was going to let up (and it didn’t. Surprise!) I had to busy myself with other activities that didn’t involve my snuggly microfleece Uniqlo jacket, the blanket and the bed.

So I made a pot of tea, a delicately floral French Earl Grey, and I thought something was missing.

And so I made cake.

Not just cake to have with tea, but cake with tea, like tea in cake, because just cake and tea is boring. Read more of this post

Simmered Kobocha Squash

Simmered Kobocha Squash

 

 

I’ve been toying with the idea of bringing bentos to school for lunch.

That’s right, bentos.

Those Japanese-type of colourful boxed lunches (with some special containers that come with a slot for your pair of chopsticks and a compartment for an ice pack to keep your lunch cool even by the time you eat it) that take packed lunch to a whole new dimension altogether. It’s only recently that this bento craze has been circulating the far reaches of the blogosphere thanks to Just Bento (such a lovely site and a good read), and in between gawking at Mickey Mouse-shaped slices of carrot and getting completely mind-boggled at seaweed cut-outs of Barrack Obama, I must admit that I thought these people utterly crazy.

Well obviously it’s time-consuming.

Planning meals, buying ingredients, cooking ingredients, stocking up on rice and other foodstuffs that can be frozen or refrigerated, preparing that boxed lunch every day…

That’s like telling me to go grow wheat and make my own corn flakes.

But hey, who knew that throwing together a few liquids and cubes of pumpkin, letting it blip away on the stove while you go grow your wheat plantation would taste so darn good?!

And this recipe’s completely bento-friendly, nomnom-ish yummy out of the fridge – especially out of the fridge – and so easy you’d begin to get curious about the other possible, quick-fix dishes that the Bento Realm has come up with while you were chowing on listless, dull kopitiam food. Read more of this post

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

I take my tarts very seriously. It ain’t a tart if the crust ain’t the least bit crunchy. What is that anyway?!

My memories and impressions of tarts date all the way back to when I was a little tyke, throwing tantrums when I didn’t get my strawberry and custard tart from Delifrance (that and a ham and cheese quiche – which I also take very seriously, but that’s another story for another day). There was something in that tart crust, a particular taste, besides being crunchy and hard. I still don’t know what that is, but I’ll find out eventually. The flaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth sorts are good too, oh definitely, but it’s one that has crunch that really leaves a deep impression on me.

And yes, I’ve found the answer to that.  Read more of this post

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