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Delicious weekend: Savour 2013 (part two)

On the second trip to Savour, we got the dinner tickets and the weather was slightly improved. The most important was Biona, Collin and I were joined by more friends – Clariss and Kat. This can only mean more deliciousness in our bellies.

Like the first trip, we started off with the Gourmet Village. It was there where we met the charmer of the year – Chef Bart de Pooter of De Pastorale. He was trying to persuade us to give his dishes a try, telling us he had flown in specially for the event. Biona couldn’t say no to the chef and tried his wild salmon served with mountain vegetables and ginger mayonnaise. The wild salmon, which we suspect was cooked via sous-vide (where food is sealed in airtight plastic bag and gently cooked in a water bath over a low temperature) was moist and tender yet the fish maintained its firmness.

I went onto getting Arbutus’ deconstructed slow cooked 1824 beef “cottage pie” with hot smoked potato. 1824 beef is an award winning beef brand from the Australian Agricultural Company – the cattles are raised both grass-fed and grain-fed thus making their meat tender and flavourful. And the meat was melting in my mouth. The potato was a really light mousse that complemented the beef. And let’s not forget about the gravy – I had to maintain my lady-like manner and stop myself from licking the cup.

Biona and Collin were off to support Chef Sam Leong and came back with two dishes of the day – cold wagyu la mian with a hot and sour broth, and braised baby abalone with chicken glutinous rice. Though I did not have a taste of the abalone, the glutinous rice was jammed packed with flavour – it was sticky and the minced chicken was beautifully cooked. However the winner for us was the cold wagyu la mian. The cold la mian was thin yet maintained a bite. Though the broth looked plain, it was refreshing with a tiny kick at the end.

As the Gourmet Village is getting crowded, I walked aimlessly, thinking what I should get next. In the end I settled for Gattopardo’s risone cooked with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow. This was my surprise of the day. The dish itself looked ordinary and brown but every component was well-cooked. I especially liked the little nuggets of octopus –it was like digging for treasure – when you get bits of it, it was delightful and delicious.

We ended our walk around Gourmet Village with a visit to Bo’s Innovation. I chose one of their signature dishes – molecular “xiao long bao” and Biona got the Bo’s chicken rice. The “xiao long bao” came in the form of a small yellow ball but do not underestimate its power. It encapsulated this thick, rich broth which had a hint of vinegar. This dish was made much more enjoyable for me as the broth was not porky (people who know me, knows how much I “love” pork). The tiny red strip of ginger didn’t do much for me as I could barely taste it. We also bumped into our biggest disappointment of the night – Bo’s chicken rice which was made with yellow chicken stock and topped with abalone jelly. The flavour of the abalone jelly was rather mild, bordering to tasteless. The rice was a tad too al-dente and overloaded with chicken stock – the flavour was so strong that it almost felt like eating cheap chicken stock. After the high from the “xiao long bao”, we were quite bumped about the chicken rice.

Once we were done with the Gourmet Village, we walked over to the Gourmet Market. We couldn’t resist stopping by Windowsill Pies especially when Clariss and Kat haven’t try their pies. They both got the banana almond brittle and salted caramel chocolate pies. Both fared so much better compared to the lime, vodka, coconut pie. To go with our pie, we got free cups of Nespresso’s coffee and Gryphon’s tea.

After our pies, we took another break at our favourite beer vendor – Tuckshop.sg. Though there was no free beer, they were having a 1-for-1 deal which Biona and Collin took. And I settled for a Kopparberg pear cider. While we were having our drink, a handsome dude came over and offered us some healthy expired black bean tortilla chips. And we would never reject free food. Though the chips were a few days off, they were perfectly fine (the guy even came to check on us to see if we were alright).

Savour 2013 was a wonderful experience for me especially when it was shared with friends. This event was a great opportunity to try out food from Michelin Star restaurant without paying the high price, and in casual wear. At the same time, it was a chance for me to road-test some of the local restaurants that I have been dying to try and knowing I can go ahead and book a table with no fear. If you are a foodie, I would say give Savour a shot (but do get the pre-event ticket) and remember to wear your eating pants.

Delicious weekend: Savour 2013 (part one)

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Savour 2013 not just for a day but for two days. My friends Biona and Collin invited me to join them at Savour, and I am happy to report that my belly was very happy.

On the first day, it was a blazing hot Saturday afternoon (I was sunburnt). Despite the heat, there was a steady stream of crowd. Savour 2013 is divided into two main sections – the Gourmet Village and the Gourmet Market. You are better off getting the ticket early as there is quite a bit of price difference (compared to getting it at the door). The tickets that we have received allowed us to have access to the two main sections (the Savour Pass allows you to gain access to the Gourmet Market only). Armed with our Savour dollars (which you will need to change to purchase food or products), we walked around the Gourmet Village, deciding what we wanted to eat.

My first stop was at Gunther and I ordered their signature cold angel hair pasta with truffle and Oscietra caviar (S$18). This was one of my favourite dishes that I tasted at Savour. The pasta was a much needed relief from the scorching heat – it was cold yet tender. The truffle was fragrant but not overpowering, and the caviar was briny and firm. Everyone at the table loved this dish and we were happily “burping truffle”.

Biona went off to Pollen Street Social and brought back the slow cooked Angus ox cheek (S$14) which was braised in Burgundy and served with horseradish and potato puree, roasted carrot and topped with bone marrow crumb. I am a fan of Jason Atherton. I have dined in both Pollen and Esquina, and have yet to be disappointed. And this dish was delicious. The savoury ox cheek just melted in my mouth.  Though I could not taste the horseradish, the puree was smooth and creamy. The bone marrow crumb was a surprise – it was crispy and salty – giving the dish the much needed “crunch”.

The next dish that I got was L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon’s La Caille – free-range quail with mashed potatoes (S$18). I got this dish because I want to try Robuchon’s famous mashed potatoes. It was pure happiness. Unlike most puree or mashed potatoes I have tasted, it was not really buttery but the texture was velvety and it literally just disappeared when I popped it into my mouth. It did not need any jus or sauce, I can eat a bucket of the mashed potatoes. The quail was perfectly cooked but it was the mashed potatoes that stole my heart.

The prettiest plate of the day was Mirazur’s quinoa risotto, served with bacon, fried Jerusalem artichoke skin and parsley sponge (S$12). It was a beautiful garden on a plate. We almost couldn’t bear to eat this dish. The quinoa was beautifully cooked and seasoned. I was a big fan of the parsley sponge – it was salty and pungent.

After our little feast at the Gourmet Village, we went off to the Gourmet Market where more deliciousness awaits us (and we really needed the air-conditioning). At the market, it was further sub-divided to wine, baking, lifestyle and gourmet. At both lifestyle and gourmet sections, it featured some of our local restaurants like Oso, Balzac. We also each got a cup of free beer (thanks Tuckshop.sg) and we couldn’t resist bagging Cirio tomato sauce and Barilla pasta that were on sales.

At the baking section, Biona and I found our favourite pie shop – Windowsill Pies. We tried their lime with vodka jelly and coconut cream pie which was a new flavour and made its debut at Savour. To go with our pie, the generous owner gave us a sample of Gryphon Tea Company’s Gold Muscato white tea which we love. As for the pie, unfortunately it was not a hit with us. The lime flavour reminded us of cordial and we couldn’t taste much of the vodka. That said Windowsill Pies still have other awesome pies which everyone should try.

After we were done with the pie, we went to the Jasons pop-up store. There were tomatoes, potatoes, jams, chutney and juice for all to sample. Almost half the store was dedicated to cheese. And guess who went around sampling all the cheeses? One of our favourites was Beemester’s classic cheese which was aged for 18 months. Originated from Netherlands, the cheese had a marmite-umami quality, making me wanting more.

We finally ended our day by sharing one dozen of Pacific oysters among the three of us. The guy who shucked our oysters was not very skilled. But the fresh, sweet, briny oysters just made us smile and ended our day beautifully.

oink’s guide to … Copenhagen! Conditori La Glace has the best tasting Danish pastries

While I was in Copenhagen, I told myself that I must stuff my face with lots of Danish pastries. I love Danish pastries, and I also had my fair share of disappointment. Especially in Singapore, no one does really good Danish pastries – they are usually commercially made and they don’t taste very nice.

I braved the morning rain and after walking in circles for almost half an hour, I finally managed to locate Conditori La Glace – the oldest confectionary in Denmark. Opened its door in 1870, Conditori La Glace has been serving delicious cakes and pastries. This historical café is beautiful, laced with history. I got there really early (I was their second customer) hence there was a limited pastries and cakes on display. And unfortunate for me, the staff at the counter did not really speak English so I did the “look what’s nice, point and order”.

While I was waiting for my pastries and tea to be served to me, I stared at the walls of Conditiori La Glace. It was decorated with family pictures from different generations. Every picture is telling a story about this café. At the same time, I started to notice all the cakes are rolling out to the display counter. I could only wish for a bigger stomach to have a taste of all the cakes.

When my pastries were at the table, I noticed I ordered two similar looking bakes. Still I was excited to sink my teeth in them. Though the pastries were not warm up, the moment I bit into them, the puff pastry just shattered. I love the custard centre which was creamy and not too sweet. And to my surprise, I don’t mind the marzipan icing. I personally detest almond-based product but the icing was pretty good and it complimented the puff pastry.

I enjoyed my breakfast at Conditiori La Glace so much that I returned a couple days later for afternoon tea. Despite the rain, there was a long queue and it was impossible to go in. This left me quite sad, as Conditiori La Glace really made the best Danish pastries I ever tasted.

Conditori La Glace
Skoubogade 3, 1158 København K
+45-3314-4646 (No reservations)
Opening hours: 8.30am to 5.00pm (daily)

I got a cast-iron skillet pan so I must make Dutch baby pancake

After thinking for a very long time (a few years to be exact), I decided to invest on a cast-iron skillet pan. I went off to my favourite vintage cookware store (sorry, ain’t going to reveal the name and location of the store) and picked up a 9” Le Creuset skillet pan.

I brought along my friend, Biona who knows quite a far bit about cast-iron cookware and advised me to get one either with a satin finish or an enamel finish. These finishing will save me pain when washing. I have chosen a 9” skillet pan as it is the preferred size in most recipes. In the end, I went home with a vintage, (lime) green satin finish skillet pan.

I can think of a lot of recipes that I want to test with my new pan – tarte tatin, skillet cake – but first I got to season the pan. Seasoning the pan is rather easy (if you got an enamel finish pan, there is no need to season it). Once the pan is seasoned, it may smell a bit rancid, and feel sticky but this is part and parcel of owning a cast-iron.

The first dish that I made with my cast-iron skillet pan is Dutch baby pancake. You can of course use any oven-proof dish/ pan or muffin tray. But there is something rustic and homey about using a cast-iron for this dish. Vanity aside, there is some science behind on why sometimes it is better to cook or bake with a cast-iron. Cast-iron pan retains heat very well hence allowing even cooking over the stove or in an oven. And because of this benefit, you want to gently warm up the pan. If you heat the pan aggressively, and lower the fire at a later stage, the cast-iron still retained the high heat and whatever you are cooking might get burned.

The Dutch baby pancake is like a puffed up soufflé pancake which is eggy and airy. It is pretty amazing to see it blossom in the oven. Because the pancake is rather sweet, you do not really need to dose it with maple syrup. I had it simply with salted butter and a squirt of lemon juice. It makes a beautiful breakfast or lunch or dinner.

Dutch baby pancake
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

1)      30g unsalted butter, room temperature
2)      3 large eggs
3)      188ml (¾ cup) whole milk
4)      60g all-purpose flour
5)      ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (table salt is fine)
6)      ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
7)      40g granulated sugar

-        Preheat the oven to 220oC.
-        Using a 9” cast-iron skillet (or any similar size oven-proof pan), add in the butter and melt it over medium heat. If the pan you are using cannot be used over open flame, just put the pan in the preheated oven and let the butter melt. Once the butter is melted, remove the pan from the oven (if you continue to leave the melted butter in the oven, it might split and burn).
-        Using a whisk or an immersion blender or a blender, mix the eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla extract and sugar until the mixture is foamy. This will take around 1-2 minutes.
-        Pour the batter into the skillet and bake until the pancake is puffed and lightly browned. I preferred my pancake to be gooey in the middle so I do tend to under-bake. This usually takes around 15 minutes. If you prefer your pancake to be more well-done, leave it in for another 5 minutes.
-        Once done, remove the skillet from the oven and serve the pancake immediately. Do not be surprised that the pancake will almost immediately collapse once removed from the oven.
-        To serve, sprinkle icing sugar with butter and wedges of lemon.

oink’s guide to … Copenhagen! I was not prepared for the gloomy wet weather

After a few days in Norway and Evie back to work, I travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark. The reason why I chose to go to Denmark was because later the week, Evie and I would be going to Legoland. So yes it was about convenience.

Once I landed in Copenhagen, it was quick a train ride to my hotel. I have chosen to stay in WakeUp Copenhagen as it was apparently a 15-minute walk from Copenhagen Central Station. All I can tell you is whoever timed the walk did not have to pull a large suitcase. As I arrived really early, I couldn’t check-in. I was told that if I upgrade my room, I could get an immediate check-in. I was tired and cold so I forked out the extra dough for a two-hour nap.

When I awake, it was nearly noon. My first stop was the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek museum. Before I view the exhibits, I needed to fill my stomach. Located in the Winter Garden, the museum’s café served up hearty Danish fare. When I arrived at 1.30pm, the café was almost fully packed. After studying the menu, I chose a dish which comprised of two types of herring, boiled egg, onion and capers (DKK98/ S$21). This was accompanied by traditional Danish dark rye bread.

I never had herring before so I didn’t have much expectations and I was unsure if I would even like the dish. In the end, I love it. The herring was pickled hence it was not fishy yet the structure of the fish remained and did not disintegrate. When I saw the rye bread (which was another first for me), it looked cardboard dry. But it was not. With a smear of butter, the bread was chewy and flavourful. I topped the bread with a bit of herring, onion, capers and egg, it was absolutely delicious. I never thought I would like pickled fish that much. The plate did not look like a lot, but I was stuffed. A great start to my Copenhagen trip.

After lunch, I wasted no time and started going around the museum. Established in 1888, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek museum is an art museum founded by brewer Carl Jacobsen (his father is responsible for Carlsberg beer). The museum houses a wide collection of Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman arts. They are also noted for French impressionists and Danish Golden Age paintings. If you are a fan of the arts, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek museum is worth checking out.

Once I am done with my little art trip, I did a random walking tour around the city. As I strolled, the rain started, and it was quite difficult and slippery to walk on cobblestone, I seek refuge at a chained Danish pastry shop – Lagkagehuset (which also happened to be on my eating list).

At Lagkagehuset, you will be swarmed by the choices. There are so many delicious looking pastries. To order, you will first need to get a queue number from the machine. The server will call out your number and you will then tell him or her what you want. After changing my mind several times, I settled for a strawberry tart. The tart was made up of a chocolate shortcrust pastry, filled with pastry cream and topped with fresh strawberry and almond. When you are wet, unprepared for the gloomy wet weather, this strawberry tart cheered me up (and my cup of hot latte too). That said, the long wet walk back to the hotel was horrible. I need more tarts.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek
Dantes Plads 7, 1556 København
Opening hours: 11.00am – 5.00pm (Tue-Sun)
Adult: DKK75/ S$16/ US$13Lagkagehuset
DK-1450 København K
(They have quite a few outlets in the city. This particular one that I went is the nearest to the town hall and my hotel)
Opening hours: 7.30am – 7.00pm (Mon-Fri), S7.30am – 6.00pm (Sat-Sun)

Bite-size treats: pâte à choux

Ever since I conquered my fear of making choux pastry, I bravely moved forward and made my first attempt at pâte à choux aka cream puff. I adore cream puffs – they are like little nuggets that are simple in flavour yet every bit delicious. And whatever sizes they come in, I love them all – the smaller ones, you can pop them in your mouth like tic-tac while the bigger ones will tend to leave cream all over my mouth (which I don’t see it as a bad thing).

Another reason that I dragged making cream puff is the pastry cream (that is needed to fill the pâte à choux). This is the time where knowledge does not work to my advantage. After hearing horror kitchen stories, watching enough food channels, I uncovered how easy it was to burn/ overcook the pastry cream. With this fear, my pastry cream always turns out to be runny. And piping runny pastry cream into pâte à choux is a nightmare. Oh yah, I hate piping too. I never know how much cream to pipe into each puff.

To banish this nightmare, I eliminate piping the cream into the puff. Instead I sliced the top of the puff and spoon in the cream. In this way, no matter what state my pastry cream is, I know it will make it into the puff.

Pâte à Choux
(Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert)
The key to making pâte à choux without any drama or panic is to get all your ingredients in place (mise-en-place) and measured in precision. This also means getting your baking tray lined and spoon ready to scoop the batter. In this way, making cream puff will be more an assembling job.

Makes about 25-30 pastries

1)      1 cup water (250ml)
2)      115g unsalted butter, cubed
3)      2 teaspoon granulated sugar
4)      ½ teaspoon (kosher) salt (table salt is fine)
5)      140g all-purpose flour
6)      4 large eggs (the egg should weigh 54g-56g without shell)

-        Preheat the oven to 220oC and line a baking tray with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
-        In a medium-sized saucepan, add in the water, butter, sugar and salt. At this point, place the flour near the stove as you will need to add it in once the mixture comes to a boil. On a medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring it occasionally with a spatula to help the butter to melt.
-        Once the butter is melted and the mixture begins to boil, quickly add in the all-purpose flour and stir rapidly with the spatula. Keep stirring until the mixture forms a smooth and thick paste and begins to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
-        Remove the saucepan from the heat. Using the same spatula, you can pat down and spread the paste to help it cool faster – do this a few times for 2 minutes.
-        Using a spatula, vigorously beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding in the next one. You can use a stand-mixer (with a paddle attachment) for this step but I think it is unnecessary as you are just loading more things to wash. Unless you are doubling the recipe, you can easily accomplish this step by hand.
-        Using a levered ice-cream/ cookie scoop (mine is a 2 teaspoons scoop), place the paste on the lined baking tray – each puff needs to be 3” apart. You need to give sufficient space in between each puff as they will triple in size once they are in the oven.
-        Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes (depending on the size of your puff) or until they are golden brown. You can rotate your tray after 15 minutes to ensure the puffs are browned on top and sides.
-        Once baked, remove the tray from the oven. Using a paring knife, gently poke one side of the puff to release its steam and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
-        Once cooled, you can fill the puff with pastry cream* or whipped cream.
-        To fill in the pastry cream, slice the top of the puff horizontally (I usually use a serrated knife). Do not slice all the way through so that you have a “lid”. Using a teaspoon, scoop in 2 teaspoons of pastry cream/ whipped cream into the puff – the amount of cream should be in proportion with the size of the puff. You also need to be careful and not overfill the puff with cream as it might make it soggy.
-        Before serving, if you bother, sieve some icing sugar on top of the puff.

*If you are using the King Arthur Flour’s pastry cream recipe, you need to double the recipe.

oink’s guide to … Perth! Jus Burgers’ onion rings are to-die-for

During my trip to Perth last May (yes, time flies), on one of the nights I needed to stay in and finish some work. My buddies from university saved me from hunger and brought me dinner from Jus Burgers. I had a classic cheeseburger (with blue cheese) (A$12.50) which was juicy and delicious. But what blew me away was their onion rings (A$6.00). They were the good onion rings – they were crisp, sweet and heavily salted. If I stayed in Perth, these would be my go-to snacks (thank god I don’t stay in Australia).

Jus Burgers
Shop 11/189 William St Northbridge, 6003 Perth
Opening hours: 11.30am – 10.00pm (Daily except Mon and Sun, they close at 9.00pm)

Balzac Brasserie

Since opening its door last February, I am unsure how many times I have been to Balzac Brasserie. Located at the newly renovated Rendezvous Grand Hotel, this quaint bistro has been serving out delicious comforting French classics at a very reasonable price.

Each meal at Balzac will start with a bread basket. At every visit, a different variety of bread is offered to me and most importantly, they are always piping warm. Each basket is usually accompanied by herbed butter and salmon rillettes (the latter was changed when I was there recently). I had to show some restraint and not fill my stomach with bread.

One of the must-have for me is their Dubois’ lobster bisque (S$16). This rich broth is served with a small bowl of mini black Qwehli prawns which are salty and provide crunch when eat together with the soup. I would usually share the soup with a friend – I know that if I have this alone, I won’t have any space for my main (yes, it is that rich).

Every time I am at Balzac, I would attempt to order a different main. I have tried Entrecot (steak frites), roasted French quail, seabream en papillote – among these, my favourite remains the beef cheeks a la cuillere (S$26). The waygu beef cheek is braised for 48 hours and served with a smooth buttery mashed potato. This dish is a delight – the braised cheek is tender and melt in your mouth. A friend who had a funny expression when she heard beef cheek was turned and love this dish.

The desserts at Balzac could be their weakest link. They are not terrible – they are actually pretty decent. However when you compare to their starters and mains, they don’t blow your socks off. To leave my meal with a sweet note, I will opt for the riz au lait (rice pudding) (S$9) and Valrohna chocolate moelleux (S$12).

When I first visited Balzac, the service was rather shaky. My friends and I had a hard time getting the attention of the waiter, the food is served before our drinks. Over time, the service has definitely improved tremendously. During my recent trip, there was a miscommunications and my friend’s order was not registered. Our server, Wenna, was bent on finding out what happened and even sent over a tarte au citron to apologise.

If you are looking for a delicious rustic French fare, give Balzac a try. Oh and remember to order the lobster bisque.

Balzac Brasserie
Rendezvous Grand Hotel, 9 Bras Basah Road
Opening hours: 11.30am to 10.30pm (Daily except Fri and Sat, it closes at midnight)

Eat your fruits: apple crumble

I don’t like to eat “common” fruits. I am not trying to be a difficult eater. My theory is that there are so many different types of fruits, why are we restricting ourselves to just apples, pears and oranges (my definition of common fruits in my part of the world). In addition, my parents fed me with these fruits for a good decade – I am sick of them.

However on a rare occasion, I will hit jackpot and discover a variety of apples or oranges that I have yet to try. I was shopping for the ingredients for my apple crumble that I uncovered Italian Modi® apples*.

I almost gave this apple a miss as it looks exactly like a Red Delicious (which by the way is the worst apple on Earth). I gave the apple a sniff and it smell good. While some people pinch and poke fruits to test its freshness, for me is smell. If the fruit exudes a strong fruity smell, I know it will be good. Modi apples are a cross breed between Liberty and Gala apples. Hence they are sweet, crisp and juicy which are the traits of Liberty and Gala. The flesh of Modi apple startled me – it is yellow. I always associate yellow flesh with mushiness. But it was not mushy at all. And I quite like the sweet and subtle tart flavour. I thought this will be a great addition to my apple crumble.

For my apple crumble, I like to use a combination of eating and cooking (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious) apples. In this way, you get bits of soft fruits yet with a bite.  Furthermore cooking apples tend to be really sharp so adding apples like Modi helps to counter-balance the tartness. The beauty of the crumble is that you can use any leftover fruits (aka the forgotten fruits in that dark corner of your fridge), and you can prep the ingredients and bake when it is time to serve.

The end result is you will get juicy plump fruits topped with crisp crumble. Depending on the fruits you used, you will also a hint of sourness to cut through the richness of the brown sugar caramel. Making apple crumble is also a great way to get kids or adults who don’t like fruits to include them in their diets.

Apple crumble
I like to add nuts like walnuts, pecans in my crumble for crunch and flavour. If you have nuts allergic, you can easily omit them. It will not impact the flavour greatly.

Serves 4 people

Apple filling
1)      450g-488g apples (This is about 3 apples. I used the ratio of 2:1 – 2 Granny Smith apples to 1 Modi apple; you can use Golden Delicious but I find them at times mushy and expensive.)
2)      1 tablespoon lemon juice (slightly less than half a lemon)
3)      30ml apple cider/ apple juice (2 tablespoons)
4)      15g unsalted butter, melted
5)      20g all-purpose flour
6)      30g brown sugar
7)      ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
8)      A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
9)      A pinch of (kosher) salt (table salt is fine)

1)      60g old fashioned rolled oats (not the quick cooking ones)
2)      40g walnuts or pecans, roasted and chopped (¼ cup)
3)      30g all-purpose flour
4)      ¼ teaspoon (kosher) salt (table salt is fine)
5)      ¼ baking powder
6)      30g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
7)      30g brown sugar

Apple filling
-        In a medium-sized bowl, mix in the dry ingredients – flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg (if using) and salt, and set aside.
-        In a large bowl, pour in the lemon juice and set aside.
-        Prep the apples – peel, core, quarter and halve each quarter in wedges. Chopped the wedges into 0.5” chunks. Put the chunks of apple into the bowl of lemon juice. This will prevent the oxidation of the apples.
-        Add in the melted butter, apple cider (or apple juice) and the dry ingredients mix in the large bowl of chopped apples, and mix well. Make sure every piece of the chopped apple is coated with the thick brown sugar syrup. Once this is done, cover it with a tea towel or cling film, and put the bowl in the fridge to rest while you prepare the crumble.

-        Preheat the oven to 180oC.
-        In a large bowl, except the butter, add in all the ingredients and mix well. Once mixed, add in the butter.
-        Using either your fingers (make sure they are clean and dry) or pastry blender, rub the butter in the dry ingredients. I like to use my fingers as I can break down any lumps by rubbing it against both hands. It is important not to overwork the mix as it may clump up especially when the butter starts to soften.
-        Once the butter is rubbed in, set the crumble aside. Don’t be overly concern if you have small bits of lumps.

-        Butter a 7” baking loaf pan** – in my case, I used a 7” oval-shaped casserole dish. You can use any oven proof pan – you just need to make sure it can contain the apple crumble and fill it to the brim.
-        Remove the apple filling from the fridge and give it a good mix. Add the apple filling into the casserole dish, make sure to pack the apples as tightly as you can. Remember to add in any remaining syrup in the bowl into the casserole dish.
-        Once the apple filling is added in, sprinkle the crumble evenly on top of the apple filling. If you spot any gaps in between the apples, fill it with the crumble. Make sure the crumble is packed tightly – you may want to gently pat it down. An important note – you need to ensure the sides of the casserole dish are sealed with crumble – this is to prevent any liquid from bubbling to the surface and leave you with a soggy crumble.
-        Place the casserole dish in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes – the crumble should be golden brown and crisp.
-        Once done, remove from the oven to cool slightly. Serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or custard.

*Modi apple is pretty pricey. When I bought it from Cold Storage, it was $0.95 an apple. This apple is only available from September to May, so go grab some.
**A little trick – I used my casserole dish to melt the butter needed for the apple filling (in the oven over the low temperature of 100oC). After you have poured the melted butter in the filling, there is always a bit of leftover in the dish. Using a paper towel or hand (make sure the dish is cooled), wipe the leftover melted butter all over the dish. In this way, you do not need to wash an additional pan and you get to butter your dish.

oink’s guide to … Oslo! A hop on the bus and an accidental discovery (part two)

After our lunch at Café Hemma Hos, we trekked our way to the Kon-Tiki Museum. Note that I used the word “trek”. My friend Evie confidently told me that the museum is just 5 minutes away and a left turn from the café. It was a bluff. It was a good 20 minutes walk uphill, during which you must trust your tour guide and your gut that you are on the right track (and there are barely any signages).

The Kon-Tiki museum houses the raft and related materials (such as camera, maps) from the Kon-Tiki expedition. In 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl believed that South American could have settled in Polynesia in pre-Columbia time. Together with six crew members (and a pet parrot), they built a raft and sailed across the Pacific Ocean for 101 days to test this theory.

What impressed me the most was how well the raft and all the supplies, maps were maintained, especially when they are half a century old and have been exposed to rough sea. At the museum, besides staring at the giant raft, there are documentaries illustrating the adventure and also the history of Polynesia. If you are an adventure buff, this is the place for you.

After the Kon-Tiki museum, while waiting for our bus, I spotted a little stall selling snacks and ice-cream, I decided I needed an ice-cream. Evie told me that if I ever want an ice-cream in Norway, it must be a Hennig Olsen – a family-owned Norwegian ice-cream company. Among the selection, I was drawn to this “salt and sweet” ice-cream. Similar to a Magnum, it has a crunchy milk chocolate coating (sweet). In the coating, they added cornflakes for crunch and of course, saltiness. Unlike the Magnum, the vanilla ice-cream was creamy and not overly sweet. For a commercial product, I was truly impressed by the taste and the quality.

The next stop for us was Vigeland Sculpture. Resides in Frogner Park, the Vigeland Sculpture features 212 bronze and granite sculptures by the famed Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland (who also designed the Nobel Peace Prize medal). As you walk along the park, you will see human sculptures running, hugging, wrestling and so on. Personally, because the park was part of the tour, if not I don’t think I will purposely make the trip. It was alright for me, nothing that I particularly in awe with.

At the end of the day, I quite enjoy the bus ride around the city. It is hassle-free (unless like me, you bumped into Oslo Marathon), and you can plan the sights in accordance to your own schedule.

Kon-Tiki Museum
(The museum is currently undergoing renovation, it will be partially open from February to March 2013)
Bygdøynesveien 36 – 0286 Oslo
Open daily except 24, 25, 31 of December, 1 January and 17 May
Opening hours: January, February, November, December: 10am – 4pm; March, April, September, October: 10am – 5pm; June, July: 9.30am – 6pm
Adult: 80NOK/S$18/US$14Vigeland Sculpture
Nobels Gate 32, N-0268 Oslo
Open daily, 24 hours
Free admission

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