Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: butter

New York City 2012: Four & Twenty Blackbirds

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I was just talking to a friend about pies the other day, about how there seems to be a dearth in places selling traditional hand-made pies – pies the kind your grandmother would make (if she was American). Good ol’ crusty, buttery, rustic pies, crimped unevenly at the edges with quick fingers and filled to the brim with filling. Grandma would roll out supple pastry sheets speckled with butter, tuck the edges into a snug pie pan, layer yet another sheet on top to sandwich it all, and then slip everything into a toasty oven to brown and to perfume the home with the heady scent of Pie.

I think it’s about time we all got American grandmothers of our own.

DSC_0558Of course, I thought of Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a cafe in the Gowanus neighbourhood of Brooklyn that specialises in double-crusted, wholesome pies that I popped into during one of my rare Me-times. I’d heard about it, and about the two-sister team that courageously decided to move their tiny pie-baking business out of their apartment and into a proper bustling cafe. They have been selling out their pies faster than they could make them ever since.

I remember taking a step inside the cafe and getting cocooned by a gentle commingling of warm aromas. It smelt like home.

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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

Choupinette

Choupinette

I’ve never been a brunch person.

At least not intentionally because, I mean, can I be blamed if I sleep in and have breakfast at 10-11am? I still consider that breakfast, by the way. Feel free to contend with me on what you’d like to call a meal at that time. I thrive on confrontation.

Meals, to me, are the fundamental three: Breakfast, Lunch and then Dinner.

Anything else in between is subject to preferential labeling. Brunch, tea, lunchner, dinch (you know, since breakfast + lunch = brunch. Therefore lunch + dinner = lunchner/ dinch), dinper, supner. Whatever.

I don’t care what time I’m eating something at, because regardless of how school life has been granting me only lunchners and supners, the only and important fact to me remains: I’m eating.

‘Nuff said.

Yet this was a planned brunch. Afternoon classes make certain of that. And have I mentioned how there should be more weekday French brunch places to cater for the increasingly prominent crowd of late-rising tertiary zombies? Oh any kind of brunch place is fine. But I’ll be a regular at any French cafe. Give me a piping hot croissant anytime and you’ll seal the deal. Read more of this post

Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes

 

I’m not one for fancy breakfasts. 

More often than not, breakfast for me is just a small bowl of cereal or muesli with unsweetened soy milk, and some days it’ll be a slice of bread smeared with light Laughing Cow cheese and a sprinkle of cracked black pepper. Other times I wake up just in time for lunch and there’s no breakfast to speak of – something that I’m sure most of you would be familiar with. 

This is not to say, however, that I cannot make fancy breakfasts. I just don’t do them for myself. I get lazy, like most people, and all I want to do when I wake up is to grab a bite and collapse on the sofa to watch Ellen dance on the telly. That’s my idea of a therapeutic morning. 

Also, there’s no demand for pancakes in my home. No one gets excited or requests or even wakes up in time the days that I make some and I’m not letting anyone eat cold pancakes. Gross. 

But when I have a greedy girl staying the night at my place for an emergency before-school-slumber-party, she must be fed till she stops being all pout-y and puppy-eyed and tugging on my arm for food. Even then, I still got a solid kick during the night. Such are the agonies of friendships. Read more of this post

Bistro Du Vin

Bistro Du Vin

I love surprises. 

I really do! 

Especially if you say you’re going to surprise me with food. 

But – and I know you’ve been expecting a ‘but’ – here’s where I stop getting giddy and giggly and springy and skippy, and where I show you that I am fully capable of doing a one-eighty and turn homicidal in the blink of an eye. 

I very much appreciate the quaint French bistro decor, charming and homey with deep-red walls covered with framed pictures, low-hanging cafe lights above marbled table tops with jet black finishing, handsome wine bottles reclining comfortably on racks… 

Which is when it hit me that it’s French and there isn’t such a thing as cheap French food anywhere, and heaven forbid it actually, since any native French wouldn’t hesitate to try to bring the place down if it’s the last thing he’ll do just to uphold the integrity of French food. Even the tiny things are pricey (that is not to say that they aren’t worth the price though). When was the last time you bought a croissant? Hmm? Which is probably the reason why everyone just heads for Breadtalk now anyway. 

Ok, so I’m joking about turning homicidal. 

I’ve wanted to try French for the longest time but haven’t because of the hefty price tag that comes with it. 

This, in hindsight, was truly a surprise and certainly didn’t warrant my pouting and whining about how a main starts from $22 onwards. I apologise, Oliver. But it was either French, or the Italian to its left, or the mysterious looking Japanese to the right with no view of the restaurant from the outside and just a door curtained by heavy cloth leading into the darkness… 

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Ciabatta!

 

Ciabatta

 

During Chinese New Year, I fed my cousin a couple of slices of toasted home-made bread with smoked ham, gouda cheese and a squirt of honey mustard. He complained that it was too holey and light – hardly filling at all. It was good, he said, but the lobangs were too big. And that’s all the feedback I got, not that I expected or wanted any.

You would probably infer then, that I don’t take feedback well.

If anything, I would seem to do the exact opposite with unrestrained vigor, refusing to consider kind advice, or perhaps intentionally mocking constructive criticism.

I see you frowning in confusion. Let’s clear up some things shall we?

1. I respond well to feedback.

2. While I absolutely adore feedback, I don’t care what you say, and I sure won’t give a flying rat’s ass if you tell me you don’t like your bread to resemble the remnants of a thoroughly pilfered, eroded excavation site.

You want holes the size of single-celled organisms? Grab the loaf of Gardenia from the supermarket next time.

Anyone who eats my bread will observe, with deep reverence, the First Commandment of Christine’s Home-made Bread:

Honour the lobangs of thy holey bread, for it is them which contain heavenly reservoirs of salted butter, melted cheese, golden olive oil and smoky ham, and you will receive the gift of gastronomic paradise.

End satire.

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You have no idea how thrilled I was when I sliced the loaves open. *Squeeee!!* Read more of this post