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Category Archives: Desserts

Kobi’s Top Picks for Singapore Local Food and Where to Eat Them


(I’ve just updated this old post from 2012)
I‘ve been asked so many times by people about the best local food to try on their upcoming visit to Singapore that I’ve decided to make a post about it, so I don’t have to keep repeating myself. I’m even going to go the extra mile and say specifically where you should eat the top 10 Singapore foods, taking into account how hard it is for a tourist to find certain places. This is not the kind of thing I intended for Kobi’s Kitchen, but since I’m writing it all down, I might as well let everyone see it. It’s a long post, don’t read it for entertainment, save it for when you are going to Singapore.

As an introduction let me say that Singapore is a great destination for travelers who are into discovering exciting new foreign flavours and foods. Originally a small fishing village, modern Singapore was created through a steady influx of immigrants over a century or so under British rule. Unlike most other countries which have a cuisine culture defined by the surrounding local ingredients, Singapore had no preexisting  predominant cooking style. Immigrants from the Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese and Hainanese speaking parts of China, the Southern parts of India, the Middle East and other parts of Malaya brought recipes from their homeland with them and these were adapted to make best use of the wide selection of ingredients brought in by trading ships from far and wide. Besides being modified, recipes were also hybridized. Singapore was a cultural melting pot and new dishes were created by combining the cuisines from its various sub-populations. This explosive culinary evolution of new foods left the small city-state with a disproportionately large cornucopia of uniquely Singaporean dishes.

In no particular order…

1. Pepper Crabcrab-900
Pepper Crab something unique to Singapore. It is made from giant Sri Lankan crabs which aren’t all that common outside the sub-continent. The crab is chopped up and then has its shell cracked before it is wok fried to let flavour penetrate right into the meat, which stays nice and firm. When the Pepper Crab arrives at the table, you will enjoy piping hot chunks of crab thoroughly infused with butter and pepper.

The dish was invented at the Long Beach restaurant and that’s where you should go to eat it. The original restaurant is along the east coast where all the seafood restaurants in Singapore used to congregate but today I think the best outlet to go to is Long Beach@Dempsey. It is a newer branch in Dempsy Hill, a former military base (that I worked in once upon a time ) now converted into a lifestyle district full of restaurants, bars and fine grocery stores. Other dishes to try at Long Beach include the Chili Crab and Australian Lobster in Butter and Crispy Cereal.

2. Bak Chor Mee Noodle Stall
While Asians traditionally serve noodles stir-fried or in soup, Singaporeans have a unique style of eating their noodles tossed in sauce. This is the closest thing in Chinese cuisine to Italian pasta. Bak Chor Mee was originally specific to the Teochew Chinese but has since become a national favourite. Egg noodles are boiled and then tossed with oil, vinegar, mushrooms and minced pork, meat balls and other ingredients. The soup that the noodles originally came in is served separately and you are supposed to drink it by itself. After you order some Bak Chor Mee the whole dish will be cooked on the spot right before your eyes.  You’ll be asked what kind of noodles you like and I recommend the type called mee pok, its like fettuccine. You’ll also be asked if want chili and you have to say yes or it won’t come out nice. If you don’t like spicy food, ask for ‘less chili’. bcm-440‘No chili’ will land you with a yucky children’s version using ketchup.

You can find Bak Chor Mee at the hundreds of locations around Singapore but the place I’d recommend to try it is the food court in the basement of Terminal 3 of Changi Airport. It’s the stall that sells Fishball Noodles. They offer a few different variety of tossed noodles and its the item numbered as 1 (note: for some strange reason it is not the leftmost item on the masthead menu). If it is at all possible, schedule eating this delicacy into your itinerary ahead of time; plan to have it either when you arrive in or when you leave Singapore. If your flight is at a different terminal, just take the free sky train linking all the terminals.

3. Seafood Hor Fun hor-fun-1100
I have to eat this every time I go to Singapore. It is basically flat rice noodles fried under high heat to impart texture and a caramelized flavour and then stir-fried with slices of fish, egg white, pork lard and miscellaneous sauces. It doesn’t sound all that fantastic, but believe me when I say it is. Many cooked food stalls and hotel coffee shops will serve this dish but undisputedly, the best place to try this is Ka-Soh Fish Head Noodle. ‘Ka-Soh’ is Cantonese for what the family matriarch calls her daughter-in-law so everything here is cooked in the traditional way passed down from generation to generation. You would think that best Cantonese food should only be found in Hong Kong, but this is clearly a case of an exception to the rule.

The Ka-Soh restaurant is in the Alumni Medical Centre on the fringes of Singapore General Hospital at 2 College Road, not easy to find or get to if you are a tourist. This is the outlet that was recognized by the 2016 Michelin Guide as a quality restaurant that doesn’t charge an arm and a leg. However I suggest you go to their sister restaurant downtown at 96 Amoy Street, called Swee Kee(Ka-soh). This is actually the older restaurant of the two. You’ll find the walls plastered with the pictures of movie stars and celebrities who have come over from HK to eat there over the years. The other thing to try while you are there is of course is the restaurant’s eponym, the fish head noodle, a milky fish-head broth served with thick vermicelli. I also recommend their fried chicken marinated in prawn paste.

4. Char Kway Teow gkfkt-1000
This is a very, very delicious fried noodle dish that is synonymous with Singapore. Char Kway Teow is also made from Hor Fun but because this dish hails from to a different dialect group (Hokkien), the noodles are called by a different name, Kway Teow. Anyway that is where the similarities end. Char Kway Teow is served dry (i.e. oily), not in a sauce. A combination of flat rice noodles and round egg noodles are fried with soya sauce, egg, cockles, Chinese sausage and bean sprouts to give you a semi-sweet noodle dish to die for.

Char Kway Teow is notoriously hard to fry well and a hundred things can go wrong with it. The quality varies from place to place depending on the cook and ingredients. There are of course many famous Char Kway Teow stalls tucked away deep in suburban housing estates which are difficult to find for non-locals. The place I’d suggest to try is Guan Kee Fried Kway Teow (Char means Fried). Their stall is located in the Ghim Mo Market a few minutes walk from the Buona Vista MRT station. It also happens to be 4 stalls away from the Chicken Rice stall highlighted below in No.8 so you can kill 2 birds with one stone. I would suggest not going at lunch time unless you are prepared to queue for a long time.

5. Islamic Curry
There are many types of curry in cosmopolitan Singapore and one more special type is made by Indian Muslims. One of the oldest, if not the oldest shops serving this type of curry is the Islamic Restaurant at 745 North Bridge Road. This was my dad’s favourite and he used to tell me stories of how the restaurant gave free food to starving Chinese during the Japanese occupation. The restaurant has down-sized somewhat in recent times and sadly, many of the more traditional curries and drinks are no longer served. However, you can still pick your curry visually at the counter instead of ordering from a menu just like in the old days. You should still be able to order a drink called Bandung, which is rose hip syrup in milk. It’s perfect for cancelling the burning effect of chili effect if you are not used to spicy curry. Make sure to order the in-bone mutton leg and also the chili eggs. Forget about Nann, eat your curry with Briyani Rice.

If the restaurant is full, you can also try the equally famous Zam Zam and Victory, both of which are just a few shops down the road.

6. Kaya Toast 
This is a breakfast item, which is eaten also during morning tea break or afternoon tea. Kaya is a Hainanese egg custard made into a jam, a speciality of Singapore. You normally spread it on toast, typically with a slab of butter. Kaya toast is the Singapore equivalent of waffles with maple syrup, so people eat it any time of the day they like.

For the best Kaya Toast I recommend a place called the Killiney Kopitiam. In case you were wondering, it’s not an Irish pub; the shop is named thus because it is located on Killiney Road and has been there since before World War II. If you can’t make the trip to the original shop, Killiney has one kopitiam at each of all three terminals of Changi Airport. Another thing to try at Killiney is the kopi, which is a bitter shop-roasted Robusta Sumatran blend served with sweet condensed milk at the bottom of a glass mug. You stir the cup just enough to attain the sweetness you like. Leave the last mouthful of the coffee and remaining condensed milk at the bottom. A larger rival kaya toast chain to Killiney is Ya Kun. Their are famous for their pandan flavoured Kaya, which is green instead of brown. There’s no need to provide an address as they have over 40 outlets all over town. To find out more about Kaya, you can refer to my post about Kaya.

7. Laksa
Laksa is another of those hybrid Chinese dishes with its roots in a subgroup of Chinese intermarried with Malays, called the Nonya. The Chinese part of Laksa is the noodles and slices of fish cake, and the Malay part of it is the rich coconut curry broth the noodles are cooked in. Laksa has a unique flavour to it because of the addition of Laksa leaves and cockles in the broth. The noodles used in Laksa are very slippery and hard to eat with chopsticks and so an innovation called the Katong Laksa in an area of Singapore called… you guessed it, Katong, came about. It is different from normal Laksa only in that the noodles are chopped up so you can eat it easily with a spoon.

Nowadays there is no need to go all the way to Katong to try this. There is a Katong Laksa stall in the trendy Holland Village and that’s the one I usually go to. Its not in the Holland Village Market Food Centre at Lorong Mambong but in a row of shop houses at 31 Lorong Liput. Look for a sign that says 363 Katong Laksa. If you really want to try the original shop (and again this one will be plastered with the photos of movie stars eating their laksa) its at the corner of Ceylon Road and East Coast Road. In either case, don’t forget to ask to add ‘otak’ to your laksa. It is a special kind of fish cake BBQed in banana leaves.

8. Hainan Chicken Rice  tff-1000
This is a dish that is also universally associated with Singapore, in spite of the fact that it is called Hainan Chicken Rice. In the old days, one group of migrants from China came from the island of Hainan and they were known for their cooking (and laundry) skills. One of the dishes they invented or modified from their hometown recipes, I’m not too sure which it is, was the Chicken Rice. I won’t go into the details of cooking it but the chicken is simmered briefly in stock and then cooled immediately in cold water. Some of the stock together with garlic, pandan leaves is used to cook the rice component. The entire dish is eaten with a fixed set of sauces and condiments without which it is still not Hainan Chicken Rice.

Tourists are often directed to the Mandarin Hotel for chicken rice but it is mega expensive and its Chicken Rice is pretty average. The best chicken rice is made by Tong Fong Fatt. Besides having the most tender and succulent chicken, it differentiates itself by selling its chicken deboned and drenched in a special tasty marinade. Their stall is at the Ghim Mo Market a few minutes walk from the Buona Vista MRT station, the same food centre where you can find the Char Kway Teow stall mentioned in No.4 above. If you want to have Chicken Rice comfortably in a proper restaurant, then may I suggest Boon Tong Kee at 399 Balestier Road. This restaurant is open late into the night. If you have enough people, you can order a whole chicken. There are several other outlets besides this original shop, including one in River Valley Road.

9. Dai Pau 
Dai’ means big in Cantonese and a ‘Pau’ is a Chinese steamed bun filled. The Dai Pau can be made with savoury chicken or pork filling and will contain a chunk of a boiled egg as well. Dai Pau is dying out in Hong Kong although it is still served in a few banquet restaurants. The Singapore version on the other hand is sold everywhere (even convenience stores and gas stations). Reason: Hong Kong Dai Pau are 70% bun and 30% filling, Singapore Dai Pau are the opposite, 70% filling and 30% bun. Its thinner skin has given the Singapore Dai Pau enduring appeal to young and old alike. You will find the meat filling delightfully juicy, tender and flavoured with various herbs and spices, and slightly sweet. As the name implies, it is large compared to other types of steamed buns like the more common charsiew pau.

For the best Dai Pau, I recommend Teck Kee Tanglin Pau, a trusted name that has been in business since 1948. They make the variety of dai pau associated with the Tanglin district, which is the agglomeration of all the residential areas that rich people have their homes past and present. At Teck Kee, you can also find many near extinct dim sum like the Coconut Tart. You can also try the Fan Choy (ask for 2 Siew Mai to go with it). They have a shop at 83 Killiney Road (pictured) near where the original Koek Road shop used to be and a second one at 180 Bukit Timah Road if you happen to be going to the Newton Food Centre.

A famous rival to the Tanglin Dai Pau is the Tiong Bharu Dai Pau. The Tanglin Pau uses a light colour filling but the Tiong Bharu versions are made with a dark filling (i.e. dark soya sauce marinated). That’s how you can most easily tell the two apart. These can be found in, you guessed it, the Tiong Bharu area. I usually patronize the Tiong Bahru Pau & Snacks at 237 Outram Road (pictured) but I understand there is also a popular store selling the Dai Pau at the nearby Tiong Bharu Market Food Centre on Seng Poh Road.

10. Bak Chang
This is a rice dumpling normally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival by Chinese across the globe but in Singapore they are available all year round. An assortment of goodies (depending on which part of China the original recipe is from) are packed into a pyramid of glutinous rice, wrapped in bamboo leaves and then steamed.

The store I’d like to recommend is called Hoo Kee Rice Dumpling and it can be found at the Amoy Street Food Centre #01-18, within walking distance from the Seafood Hor Fun shop mention in No.3. Choose the variety of dumplings that are stuffed with pork, chestnuts and salted egg yolk, they are simply the best. Get there before lunch time for they are often sold out before the lunch hour is over. Another famous place for Bak Chang is Eastern Rice Dumpling at 300 Balestier Road. This is reasonably near the Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice mentioned in No.8. They have a variety of nice dumplings but one I’d like to highlight is the Nonya Bak Chang. The Nonya are early Chinese settlers of the Malay British Straits Settlements who studied in English schools and adopted many of the local Malay cooking practices. Nonya Bak Chang is therefore quite unique, nothing like any traditional Chinese varieties; as its filling expect a mixture of pork belly, mushroom and candied winter melon flavoured with five spice and pepper. They are traditionally wrapped in pandan instead of bamboo leaves.

Three Bonus Snacks (I know that makes it 13 actually)

A. Old Chang Kee Chicken WingsWings
Old Chang Kee was a famous stall selling curry puffs next to Rex Cinema in the 1950s which has grown to become a large chain of fast food outlets selling curry puffs. The Old Chang Kee Wings are HUGE and more importantly they are the best fried chicken wings in the world, something to do with the secret marinade they use on the chicken and/or the batter. There are outlets are in many shopping malls so there’s no point singling out one for you. As a local I patronize the outlet at the Barker Road Caltex petrol station next to ACS (where I went to school) and when the lady asks how many wings do you want? The reply is usually “all of them”. OK, while you buying the wings don’t forget to try the curry puffs as well. They are quite nice or Old Chang Kee would not have thrived all these years, plus it is somewhat unique to Singapore. The original puff is called the Curry-O and you should try that first and then if your stomach still has any space left you can think about the other flavours.

B. Cold Ching Teng
Its pronounced Ching Terng and it means clear soup which is a misnomer because it is not a soup, and neither is it clear. Ching Teng was originally a hot long-an(a fruit) soup back in the old days in China but in Singapore it had evolved into a cold dessert served with shaved ice. There are bits and pieces of all kinds of things in it like pearl barley, dried persimmon, ginko nuts, lotus seeds and of course rehydrated dried long-an. It’s perfect for quenching the thirst on a hot day (basically every other day in Singapore) or as a dessert after eating curry or food with chili. One famous place serving this is Shan Ren Cold and Hot Dessert at the Newton Food Center, its stall no. 88. There’ll be dozens of other desserts pictured on the store front so you can try a few other desserts while you are there. If you like something with more shaved ice, try Ice Kachang, another Singaporean specialty.

C. Bak Kwa
Bak Kwa is the local name for barbecued pork jerky. Unlike western beef jerky, Bak Kwa is not tough. The meat is vacuum treated to tenderize it and then it is barbecued with sugar and spices and all things nice. The leading brand Bee Cheng Hiang has shops everywhere so you no longer have to go to Chinatown to buy it. Check their website for a convenient location. I recommend the Golden Coin or Minced Pork type Bak Kwa if you like a really tender piece of jerky. They also sell pork floss if you are into something drier.

Other Contenders for the Top 10
Many of these are just as good but I didn’t want my list to expand to a top 20 list, its already long enough. Try them, especially if you are on an extended visit.

    1. Fried Carrot Cake
    2. Hokkien Prawn Noodles
    3. Chinese Pork Satay
    4. Oyster Omelette
    5. London Duck (Four Seasons Restaurant at Capitol)
    6. Ngoh Hiang
    7. Poh Piah
    8. Roti Prata
    9. Kweh Lapis
    10. Pineapple Tarts
 

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What is Kaya?


 

         1. Hainanese Kaya        2. Nonya Kaya(Home)      3. Nonya Kaya(Store)        4. Hybrid Kaya

Kaya is a custard made with coconut milk that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia. Like regular jam, it is most often used as a bread spread (its technically not a jam since it is not made from fruit) at breakfast and afternoon tea. Because of its sweet taste, Kaya is also used as an ingredient is various local desserts in Southeast Asia from Thailand to Indonesian. If you are from outside the region, think of it as something like creme brulee in a bottle. 

The recipe for making kaya varies from household to household but typically involves cooking a mixture of 10 eggs, 500g of sugar and 500 ml of coconut milk over a double boiler, stirring frequently. Its pretty much the same as making a sabayon or custard, except you stand there cooking and stirring for a very, very long time.

There are two main types of Kaya. The more original variety is Hainanese Kaya (bottle No.1), Hainan being a large island of China. Many Hainanese ventured into Southeast Asia during the hey day of the British Empire. A lot of them worked as cooks (and tailors) in commonwealth cities and aboard British merchant ships where they encounted a thing called jam on toast. Over time, they invented their own ‘jam’, which became Kaya. That’s the reason you won’t find Kaya (or Hainanese Chicken Rice or Hainanese Pork Chop to name a few more examples) anywhere in Hainan today, they were invented by overseas Hainanese. The term Kaya was probably coined by the Malays, who refer to it as Seri Kaya. Hainanese Kaya is made with brown sugar which results in its distinct orangy colour. Some modern commercial formulations use honey instead.

There is another version of Kaya that is green; this is called Nonya Kaya (bottle No.2). How did this originate? Its another complicated story, also related to the Chinese migrants. When early Chinese migrants inter-married with the locals in Malaysia, they formed a sub-community called the Nonya. The Nonya add pandan leaves to a lot of their cuisine and when they learnt to make Kaya, they also added pandan to that. Their varierty of Kaya uses white sugar, but compensates for the loss of the caramelized taste by adding the juice from pandan leaves. This gives Nonya Kaya its unique flavour and fragrance. Commercially, food dye is added to Nonya Kaya (bottle No.3) to give it a darker green colour. Nowadays you can also get a hybrid Kaya (bottle No.4) that is made with both brown sugar and pandan leaves.

Besides spreading it on toast, how else can Kaya be used? Being very sweet, Kaya goes very well with salted butter and you can use it in place of syrup or icing sugar on pancakes, waffles and french toast. Kaya also works well as a filling in a Danish type pastry (for example you could replace the sesame paste of my Sesame Swirl Puffs with Kaya). Finally you can experiment with Kaya in those savoury dishes that require a touch of sweetness, such as in pan fried foie gras.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Desserts, Ingredients, Oriental

 

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Candied Yam in Ginger Syrup


(serves 2-3)
Candied Yam in Ginger Syrup. This is a East meets West fusion dessert inspired by the rustic Chinese dessert ‘Sweet Potato Sugar Soup’ that pairs the spicy bite of ginger with the texture and sweetness of yam. The beauty of my recipe is there are no timing issues, as the yam and syrup are cooked seperately. Thus the yam will be exactly as soft as it should be, the ginger flavoured syrup will be as thick and as sweet as it needs. Pretty much this is a recipe that can’t go wrong.   
 

Ingredients Candied Yam with Ice Cream

  1. Yam (300g)
  2. Ginger (50g)
  3. Butter (10g)
  4. Muscovado Sugar (4T)
  5. Cinnamon Powder
  6. Rum
  7. Vanilla Ice Cream

Preparation 

  1. Peel 300g of yam and cut them into half inch cubes. At the same time peel 50g of ginger and cut this into thin long slices easily distinguishable from the yam cubes. For this recipe, the older the ginger the better.
  2. Place the yam and ginger into a pot and add water till everything is submerged. Simmer covered for half an hour (start counting from when the water boils).
  3. Pour out the yam stock into a container. Pick out the ginger pieces and discard them. Arrange the yam cubes onto the tray of a toaster oven.
  4. Cut several thin slices of butter and plop these over the yam cubes. Toast the yam cubes for 15 minutes. You should end up with buttery yam cubes which are firm on the outside, but still moist and soft on the inside.
  5. While the yam is toasting, pour the yam stock back into the pot. Add 5T of muscovado sugar, 2T of rum and boil the stock down til it is a thin runny syrup (remember it will thicken further when it cools).  Recombine the yam with the syrup and refrigerate before serving.
  6. Dust each serving generously with cinnamon powder. I would normally add a scoop of mascarpone or vanilla ice cream with each serving.  

Notes

  • If you don’thave muscovado sugar, you can substitute demerara sugar. Don’t use those brown crystal sugars which are nothing more than refined white sugar dyed brown, or you won’t get the taste of caramel. 
  • If you like your desserts less sweet, use 3T of sugar, but be forewarned, you will end up with less syrup. If you like things sweet, using 5T of sugar is no problem.
  • This recipe is perfectly scalable; you you can just double or triple the quantities. If you are scaling up or if you don’t have a toaster oven, simply roast the yam in your oven.
 
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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Desserts, Recipe

 

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Crepe Layer Cake


(serves 8-12)
If you are without an oven, this is the cake for you. Strictly speaking, the Crepe Layer Cake is not a real cake. It matters not, since it looks and tastes like a cake. We achieve the cake effect by sandwiching layers of cream and apple glazing between crepes that are stacked. This particular recipe is only a starting recipe and it uses only very basic flavours, but the the Crepe Layer Cake is versatile animal and you can easily modify it to taste of almost anything you like. 

Ingredients

  1. Crepes (16)
  2. Whipping Cream (200ml)
  3. Raisins (1 cup)
  4. Apple Juice (1/2 cup)
  5. Brandy
  6. Corn Starch
  7. Corn Syrup
  8. Golden Syrup
  9. Cinnamon

For this recipe, you will require 2 batches of the crepes made according to my bouncy crepe recipe. Make the crepes first, up to a day ahead in time.

Preparation – Apple Glazing 

  1. Soak a cup of raisins in 1/4 cup of brandy. Use a shallow container or only the raisins at the bottom will get soaked.
  2. Boil 1/2 cup of apple juice in a small pot and dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar in it.
  3. Fully dissolve 1T cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold water and stir this into the boiling juice. When the mixture begins to thicken, stir in 1T of corn syrup and turn off the heat.
  4. The glazing will thicken as it cools and should have the consistency of syrup when it is at room temperature.
  5. You should do all this at least an hour ahead of time. The raisins need time to soak in the brandy and the glazing needs time to cool.

Preparation – Cake

  1. Beat 200ml of cream till you get stiff peaks. Stir in 3T of golden syrup into the cream.
  2. Find a plate that is about an inch smaller in diameter than your crepes. Use a pointed knife to trim off the the parts of each crepes not covered by the plate. This will make them all identical in size.
  3. You should have 16 crepes to start off with. Find the crepe with the best looking pattern and reserve this as the top layer.
  4. Place one crepe on a wax or foil base and apply a thin layer of cream on the crepe. Place a second crepe over the first one and brush on a layer of the apple flavoured glazing. Simply put, apply cream on odd number crepes and glazing on even numbered crepes as you stack up the cake. This will keep each crepe (except the bottom one) in contact with both cream and glazing.
  5. Don’t worry about keeping the edges neat when applying the cream. The center of your cake will have a tendency to bulge if you apply less cream to the periphery.
  6. On crepes 3,7 and 11 arrange 1/3 of the soaked raisins after you apply the cream, and on crepes 5, and 13 sprinkle on a layer of powdered cinnamon on the cream.
  7. When you have placed the last crepe on, press down on the cake in the middle and then use a butter knife to scrape off all the excess cream along the side of the cake. Paint the entire cake, top and sides with glazing to seal the moisture in. You can decorate the top of the cake with some left over cream if you have a piping syringe but this is optional.
  8. The crepes will still be able to slide over each other at this stage so place the cake in the fridge to allow it to set. This will also give the crepes time to absorb moisture and flavour from the sandwich layers.    

Notes

  • For variety: You can experiment with canned, pureed or cooked fruit in place of the raisins. You can use chocolate or another type of sauce in the cream. Or you can use custard instead of cream. You can use different juices for the glazing. You can sprinkle nutmeg, chocolate rice, green tea powder in place of the cinnamon. Your options are endless.
  • If you intend to drizzle syrup over cut pieces of your cake like in the first photo, you might want to reduce the golden syrup in the cream to 2T.
  • Don’t be stingy and pick a plate that is too big. The edges of crepes tend to be thinner, you want to make sure those parts are trimmed off, as shown here.
 
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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in Desserts, French, Japanese, Recipe

 

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Crepe Suzette


(makes 4 crepes, ideal for 2 people)
Crepe Suzette is without a doubt in my mind the best way to serve crepes. This classic french dessert is the perfect way to end a cosy dinner for 2 or 4 people. It is everything you would want in a hot dessert; its sweet, tangy and buttery at the same time.  Once you have tasted Crepe Suzette, you won’t forget the miracle of how the butter flavoured orange sauce is thoroughly soaked into the crepes without making them soggy. 
 

Ingredients

  1. Crepes (4)
  2. Oranges (3)
  3. Butter (50g)
  4. Cointreau
  5. Brandy
  6. Ice Cream (optional)

For this recipe, you will require 4 of the 8 crepes made according to my bouncy crepe recipe. Make the crepes first, up to a day ahead in time.

Preparation 

  1. Grate 1 flat t of orange zest. Don’t grate over the same part of the orange twice to avoid going too deep into the rind.
  2. Squeeze the juice from the 3 oranges using a manual orange juicer to extract as much of the pulp as you can. Break up big pieces of pulp with your fingers. You should end up with about 1 cup of juice.
  3. Melt 50g of salted butter in a pan over a slow flame and add 4T of sugar. Stir occasionally till the sugar has melted into the butter.
  4. Pour in the orange juice, add the zest and then turn up the heat. Reduce till half in volume.
  5. Bring the heat down again. Fold the crepes into quadrants and place them into the pan without overlapping each other – as shown below.
  6. As you are not flipping the crepes, every 15 seconds or so use a spoon to drench the orange sauce over the crepes to ensure each one is thoroughly soaked. If you find it difficult to reach the sauce with your spoon, tilt the pan.
  7. When the sauce begins to thicken, after about a minute, sprinkle on 3T Cointreau and 3T Brandy. Cook for a further 30 seconds and your Crepe Suzette is ready.   

Notes

  • To make this dish extra scrumptious, serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I haven’t shown this as it is difficult to photograph ice cream on hot crepes before it melts.
  • If you are cooking more than 4 crepes, use a second pan. You can’t stack the crepes in the pan.
  • If you want to make crispy decorative orange slices, cut out 2 thin circular slices after you halve the oranges but before your juice them. Sprinkle on 1 t of sugar on each and grill under a low flame for about 25 minutes.
  • The proper Crepe Suzette would of course use Grand Marnier, but I like Cointreau becuase it is drier.
  • If you wish to serve the crepes flambe style, heat the Cointreau and brandy in a metal ladel over an open flame. When the mixture is hot, tilt the ladel just enough for the liquor to catch fire. Pour this over the crepes at the dining table.
 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Desserts, French, Recipe

 

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Plain Bouncy Crepes


(makes 8 x 8-inch crepes)
Crepes are one of the most basic components of french cuisine used in both sweet and savoury recipes. Every crepes recipe has the same ingredients: flour, milk, eggs, butter plus a bit of sugar and a pinch of salt. What makes these crepes especially bouncy is the extra egg yolk, plus a secret ingredient – water to bring the batter back down to the right consistency. You’ll find it makes these crepes bouncy to the bite and soft, yet resistant to tearing. 
 

Ingredients

  1. Plain Flour (3/4 cup)
  2. Milk (2/3 cup)
  3. Eggs (3)
  4. Butter (50g)

Preparation 

  1. Heat 20g of butter in the microwave for 15 seconds to melt it.
  2. Place in a mixing bowl 3/4 cups of plain flour plus 1t of sugar and 1/3 t of salt. Skip the sugar if you are using the crepes for a savoury dish.
  3. Lightly beat the white of 2 eggs and the yolk of 3 eggs and add this to the flour.
  4. Dilute 2/3 cups of milk with 1/3 cup of cold water and add this to the mixing bowl. Finally, pour in the melted butter.
  5. Beat the mixture till it is smooth. Place covered in the fridge for half an hour.
  6. Melt a small knob of butter in a pan on low heat. Keep the fire low throughout. Use a spatula to spread a thin film of melted butter evenly over the pan. Next, pour a medium sized (1/3 cup) ladel of batter into the pan in a circular pattern, leaving a hole in the center. Quickly, tilt and rotate the pan so the batter covers the entire pan before it solidifies.
  7. Cook for 1 min 15 second on one side, flip and cook for a further 45 seconds. Take the pan off the fire and then move the crepe to a dish to cool. I prefer my crepes to be browned slightly, you can reduce the cooking time a bit if you want all white crepes. 
  8. Put a second knob of butter in the pan and after it melts, place the pan back over the fire. If the butter browns immediately, your pan is too hot, give it more time to cool (and repalce the butter). Make a second crepe and stack it on top of the first. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
  9. Wrap the crepes, including the plate, in a damp (thoroughly wet but wrung dry) cloth to stop the crepes from drying and hardening. You can keep the crepes overnigh in the fridge this way.

Notes

  • Keeping the heat low will allow you better control of the cooking process. It may take a bit longer, but the results speak for themselves.
  • If you add the batter to the pan in the middle, you will end up with crepes where the center is thicker than the edges. Adding the batter in a circle lets it flow both inwards and outwards in the short amount of time you have.
  • If you don’t take the pan off the fire between crepes, the pan will get too hot, resulting in crepes which are burnt before they are cooked.
  • I usually use a hand held electric blender at low power for 30 seconds in the tall container that comes with the blender. This is much easier than beating the batter by hand.
  • Its ok if your crepes are not perfectly round, you will be folding them anyway and no one will notice.
 
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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Appetizers, Desserts, French, Recipe

 

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Bread and Butter Pudding


(serves 10)
One of my absolute favourites, buttered bread soaked and then baked in custard. In a contest between Bread and Butter Pudding and French Toast, we see one of the rare instances where British cuisine triumphs. A great dessert made from simple ingredients, that can be made before hand, that can be made in large quantities with little effort, that can be eaten hot or cold; What more could anyone ask for?      

Ingredients

  1. Milk (800ml)
  2. Eggs (6)
  3. Butter (80g)
  4. Bread (1 loaf)
  5. Raisins (1/2 cup)
  6. Sugar (1/2 cup)
  7. Nutmeg
  8. Cinnamon
  9. Rum

Pre-preparation 

  1. A day before, slice your loaf into 3/4 inch slices. You can’t use pre-sliced bread as the slices are too thin.
  2. Next we do the ‘test fit’. Pick a shallow pyrex dish than can hold at least 10 cups. Arrange the slices once in the bakeware so you know exactly how many slices you’ll be needing. Overlap the slices like a stack of fallen dominoes and use a left right arrangement, as shown in the photo below. 
  3. Leave the bread in the fridge to dry out the bread, with or without the dish.
  4. Soak 1/2 cup of raisins in 3T of rum.

Preparation

  1. Its now one day later; spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Use salted butter as a bit savoury taste is essential. Sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon on the buttered side of the bread. Be generous with the butter, nutmeg and cinnamon as they are what gives flavour to the pudding.
  2. Arrange the buttered bread in the pyrex, the same way as before. Scatter 3/4 of the raisins between the slices of bread.
  3. Lightly beat 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks with half a cup of sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in 800ml of milk and any of the rum not soaked up by the raisins. Put the whole mixture through a fine strainer to remove strands of albumin.
  4. Pour the strained mixture into the pyrex. The bread will float even when its wet (ever feed swans in a pond?) but their arrangement will make sure only a small amount of each piece sticks out. If you ignored me and arranged them like a brick wall, some pieces will be completely free floating now. If you ignored me and used a deep baking dish, all the bread will gather at the top now.
  5. Let the bread soak for half an hour. You will need to gently push the bread (with your palm) down once in a while so they become totally submerged. Even though they float, the idea is to make sure the portions above the custard are soaked as well. If you ignored me and used thin pre-sliced bread, the bread will begin to fall apart now.
  6. Preheat your oven to 150oC (300oF).
  7. After the soaking is done, sprinkle the remaining raisins and 1T of sugar on the surface. Place uncovered into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.
  8. The bread will eventually be seen to puff up and this is a sign the pudding is close to being done. Wait a while more and the bread should begin to brown nicely, that is when the pudding can come out. Allow the pudding to stand for a few hours before serving.

Notes

  • Glazing the pudding is a nice extra touch and a chance to add an extra layer of flavour. When the bread puffs, this is the signal for you to brush on a layer of golden syrup, mapel syrup, marmalade etc. Place back into the oven after brushing on the glazing of course.
  • The best bread to use is supposedly brioche, i.e. a bread with a high egg and milk content. If you are unsure, this just means any bread that is yellow. Any bread that is tough or is made from whole grain will not work.
  • If you wish to serve the pudding warm, you still need to allow it to cool before you reheat it. I would normally serve warm B&B pudding with a vanilla custard sauce (made easily from custard powder). 
  • Some people swear that panettone, left over from christmas, is the best bread to use but i have never tried this. It helps of course that panettone conveniently has soaked raisins embedded in it to start with.
 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Desserts, English, Recipe

 

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