oink

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Tag: Breakfast (page 1 of 3)

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)

Ingredients
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

Methods
-        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 … Perth! City Farm cafe

For as long as I know The Food Pornographer (TFP), she has always been taunting me with pictures of muffins, sandwiches from City Farm cafe. And it doesn’t help when you are hungry in the train, and reading her tweets. So for this trip to Perth, City Farm cafe was on top of my list.

I made a date with TFP and her sister, Juji (who is the genius behind Juji Chews) for breakfast at City Farm cafe. The cafe is located in East Perth which was easily accessible via the Yellow Cat bus from the city. It was a wet and cold morning and I cannot wait to tuck into breakfast.

How do you know it’s TFP’s brekkie? Bacon!

Both TFP and Juji ordered the scrambled eggs which came with two slices of sourdough toast. And of course TFP could not resist ordering a side of bacon. For me, I got myself the scrambled egg with aged cheddar and chives.

My plate of happiness

As some of you might know, I am not a big fan of egg. But the Tasmanian Mersey Valley’s aged cheddar in the scrambled egg was so delicious – it was creamy and savoury. I liked to have the egg with the sourdough toast (and butter) – it gave a bit of crunch and also cut through the richness of the cheddar. The coffee at City Farm was fabulous too. My flat white was aromatic and not too bitter (I usually have my coffee without sugar).

While we were having breakfast and chatting, I cannot help but notice that the staff started to bring out the muffins and sweets. There were spinach feta muffin, brownies, cookies. I want them all.

City Farm cafe is a delightful joint and I can totally understand why TFP patronised the cafe so often. I would too.

City Farm Cafe
1 City Farm Place East Perth WA 6004 Australia
(Accessible via Claisebrook train station or City Yellow Cat bus)
Opening hours: 7.00am-3.00pm (Mon-Fri), 8.00am-12.00pm (Sat) (closed on Sun)

oink’s guide to … Perth! A bed and a simple toast.

A few weeks before I started my new job, I decided to take a last minute trip to Perth. As much as I like to take a couple of weeks to travel, however work commitment and budget means I can only afford a one-week holiday. In the end, I chose Perth. I haven’t been back there for seven years and I was very excited about the trip.

I knew this trip back to Perth was going to be awesome. The day I want to purchase the air ticket, for whatever reason I decided to postpone it. A few days later, Qantas had a sales and I managed to save S$100. Even for the hotel, I managed to score some cheap deal.

Love the decor

So happy to see the bed at 7am

View from the window

Pensione’s Hotel (used to be known as Aaron’s Hotel) is my go-to hotel in Perth. I absolutely love the location. It is only a mere five minutes walk to the city. Opposite the hotel, there is a small Miss Maud’s cafe where you can get coffee and pastry for breakfast. Recently Aaron’s was bought over by the 8Hotels Group (hence the rename) and went through a far bit of refurbishment. I have stayed in 8Hotels Group’s hotel (Cosmopolitan, Melbourne) and I know the room will be reasonably priced and everything will be spanking new and pretty. I was right. They have a weekend special. I had some problems booking the room online and I wrote to the hotel. The staff responded to my email pretty fast and they even offered to extend the weekend special for the duration of my stay.

I arrived in Perth around 5am and reached the hotel around 7am. I was all prepared to leave my luggage at the hotel and roam the streets of Perth. To my pleasant surprise, they allowed me to do an early check-in, and I managed to sneak in a couple of hours of sleep before meeting my friends.

Once I woke up, I was really hungry, yet I do not want to spoil my appetite for lunch. I popped over to one of my favourite cafes in Perth – Merchant Tea and Coffee – for some light brunch. Oh before I forget, the weather in Perth was awesome! It was 22oC, it was cool (not freezing cold), and I can finally wear scarf without feeling pretentious.

Hot chocolate #2

While I was ordering my breakfast, I was sad to find out that my favourite vanilla tea is off the menu. I was stunned for a couple seconds and simply ordered a hot chocolate (it was my second hot chocolate of the day). I don’t know what’s in Australia’s chocolate and milk, it tasted so delicious. Especially on a cool day, a cup of hot chocolate was perfect for my sleepy head.

Fruit toast

I also ordered some fruit toast. In Singapore, I would not pay A$5 for fruit toast. Though I found it expensive, these were really good toast – slightly charred on the edges, evenly browned, crispy on the outside and chewy inside. With butter, it was the perfect food for me. So far, Perth was treating me well.

Pensione’s Hotel
70 Pier Street, CBD Perth, WA
+61-8-9325-2133

Merchant Tea and Coffee
183 Murray Street, Perth, WA
+61-8-9221-1323

St John’s afternoon buns

A couple of days ago, my friend Betti asked me if I could share with her my favourite bread recipe. Of course I said yes.

Hello dough!

Over the years, my favourite bread recipe kind of changes according to my mood and the time I have. There was a period of time I was madly in love with this recipe. And then another recipe came along – started well but the more I made, the worse it became (don’t ask me why. I have zero clues). If I wanted something more decadent (read: arteries clogging), I would opt for a brioche. However this year, St John’s afternoon buns just stole my heart.

These afternoon buns are served at the famed St John’s Hotel, London during tea time. They have three different flavoured buns – anchovies, prune and chocolate. However I made them plain and discovered they were absolutely delicious.

St John’s afternoon bun

The plain buns also became my “multi-purpose” buns. I served them with oeuf en cocotte. I stuffed them with tuna, anchovies, olives and capers. I even used them as hamburger buns. So I think it is safe to say these babies are my favourites for the year.

St John’s Afternoon Buns
(Barely adapted from Jamie, Issue 27, March/ April 2012)

Makes 24 buns

Ingredients
1)      600g strong white flour or bread flour
2)      2 teaspoon salt
3)      40g caster sugar
4)      330ml water (I like to use lukewarm water, temperature around 46oC)
5)      10g dried yeast or instant yeast
6)      1 large egg
7)      50g butter, cubed and softened
8)      Egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with milk) for brushing

Chocolate Filling
1)      8 squares of 70% cocoa chocolate
2)      Cocoa Powder for dusting

Prune Filling
1)      8 prunes

Anchovy Filling
1)      3 garlic cloves
2)      25g tinned anchovies in oil, drained
3)      1-2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4)      1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Methods
-        Combine the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and egg (excluding the egg wash’s egg) in the bowl of the stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on a medium speed. Slowly add in the water and continue mixing for about 6-8 minutes, or until the dough is coming away from the sides. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
-        Start the mixer up again on a medium speed and slowly add in the cubed butter bit by bit to the dough. You might need to scrap the side to ensure all the butter is incorporated into the dough.
-        Once incorporated, increase the speed to high and mix for another minute. At the end, you should be able to get a smooth and shiny dough. I like to “pull and fold” my dough before I let it rest. I think it looks pretty (like a baby butt) and helps to make the rise smoother.
-        Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave the mix to relax for 10 minutes. At this stage, you can leave the dough to relax for up to an hour. There are times I do forget to check on my dough.
-        Line a baking sheet with parchment (or using a non-stick baking tray). Turn the dough out on a work surface, and divide into 24 pieces. What I would usually do is weigh the dough and divide the weight accordingly. In this way, I am guaranteed to have equal size buns.
-        You can roll the dough into balls. Or I prefer the “pull and fold” method. I pull the sides of the dough and fold it in.
-        For the chocolate and prune buns, push a piece of the chocolate/ prune into the centre of each ball, pulling the dough around it so that it is completely enclosed, and reshape the dough into a ball.
-        Move all the buns to the baking tray, leaving room for them to spread and ensuring you know which is which.
-        Using a spray bottle (or pastry brush), lightly spray a thin layer of water and leave them in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size*. What I like to is I would warm up the oven at 100oC for 15 minutes and switched it off and I will leave the tray of dough inside. And 10 minutes before baking time, I will remove them from the oven.
-        Meanwhile, you can start on the anchovy filling. Blend the garlic and a pinch of black pepper to a fine puree in a food processor or with a pestle and mortar. Add the anchovies and blend/ bash until they break down. Gradually add enough oil to make a thick paste, then stir in the vinegar. Check seasoning and set aside.
-        10 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 200oC. Because this is a bread recipe, it is very important to make sure the oven is hot enough. This is why I always stick an oven thermometer to check on the temperature.
-        Brush the egg wash over the buns. Dust the chocolate buns with cocoa powder as well. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
-        Slice the anchovy (or plain) buns in half while warm, spread with the filling and sandwich together. Eat warm.
-        These buns will keep for 2 days in an airtight container.

*The original recipe actually suggested covering the dough with a damp tea towel. When I did that, the dough raised and stuck onto the towel. Hence I decided to use a spray bottle so that the dough will not dry out.

Rachel Khoo’s oeuf en cocotte

I rarely like female host for cooking shows. However recently I made an exception for Rachel Khoo. I started watching The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo a couple of weeks ago and got addicted to the show. Now, I want to cook all things French.

The concept of The Little Paris Kitchen is to demystify and simplify French cooking. What I really like about the show is Rachel used a few quality ingredients and managed to whip up all these delicious looking dishes in her tiny (and almost non-existence) kitchen. That is a pretty amazing feat.

Breakfast fit for champion!

There are a few recipes that I wanted to try. So baby steps – I chose to make oeuf en cocotte (egg in a pot). Yes, yes I am not a fan of eggs. But when mixed with other ingredients which helped to mask the “yolky” taste, that is when I will eat eggs.

Oeuf en cocotte is a really simple dish to make. And it is also a recipe that is (almost) impossible to mess up. The best part about this dish is that you can even use any leftover in your fridge – that little knob of sausage, the half cut bell peppers – and put them in that little pot with crème fraiche and egg.

In my case, I kept my oeuf en cocotte simple – in my ramekin (sidetrack: I bought these awesome vintage T.G. Green ramekins long ago, so I was super duper happy that I can use them in this recipe), I only put in crème fraiche, egg and some seasoning. To serve, I had it with tuna mixed with this wonderful jar of Waitrose Puttanesca Mix(which has olives, capers and anchovies) and homemade buns. You can have it as afternoon tea or like me, had it for breakfast.

Oeuf en cocotte

Oeuf en Cocotte
(Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen)

Serve 1

Ingredients
1)      1 egg
2)      2 tablespoon of crème fraiche
3)      Seasoning – salt and black pepper. In my case, I also used my favourite Korean chilli powder.
4)      Herbs – Rachel’s original recipe calls for dills. As I don’t have that readily available, I used parsley and spring onion.

Methods
-        Preheat the oven at 180oC
-        Put 1 tablespoon of crème fraiche at the bottom of a ramekin. Season it accordingly. The original recipe calls for salt, black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. In my case, instead of the nutmeg, I used Korean chilli powder.
-        If you want to add in any vegetables or sausages, you will need to cook them first and add in after the dollop of crème fraiche is placed at the bottom of ramekin. You might not need to season the crème fraiche if you have seasoned your vegetables/ sausages.
-        Crack an egg on top. If you are not a confident “egg cracker”, you can crack the egg in a separate bowl and put it on top of the seasoned crème fraiche.
-        Put the last tablespoon of crème fraiche on top and season accordingly.
-        Place the ramekin in a baking dish and pour enough lukewarm water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekin. This will ensure the content in the pot cooks evenly.
-        Bake for around 15 – 18 minutes depending on how you like your egg.
-        To finish, sprinkle some herbs on top. You can use parsley, dills, or even thyme.
-        This dish is best eaten warm with crusty baguette or good bread rolls.

Maison Kayser

If anyone asks me what is the best cure for Monday blues, I would say, go get a MC (medical certificate) and skip work for the day. Well, one can only use that excuse sparingly. I guess the next best thing would be to start the day with an awesome breakfast.

Maison Kayser, the celebrated French bakery has finally made it ways to our tiny shore. And I have been hearing nothing but praises for this bakery. So on a Monday morning, I trotted my way to the newly open chi-chi Scotts Square and was amazed there was a queue at 9am.

Once I was near the display counter, I don’t know what I should have. I looked left, right and everywhere. There were so many choices – pastries, bread, cakes. In the end, I settled for the classic croissant and a cappuccino.

We all need to start our morning this way

Why are you not warm up?

When I tear up the croissant, I was surprised that it was not warm, and I was slightly disappointed. The croissant itself was buttery and fluffy, but I really wanted it warm*, hearing that shattering sound when I bite into it.

Financier

The cappuccino that I ordered came with a small financier (which they also sell them in bags). The plain almond financier was very sweet but it went very well with the dark rich cappuccino. While I was checking my receipt, I realised how reasonably priced was the croissant. It was only S$2.60 but the coffee was the shocker – S$6. It has been awhile since I pay that much for coffee.

Of course, I cannot leave the place with just having a croissant. I bought quite a bit of pastries home too – chocolate éclair, citron tart, pain au chocolat and pain au fromage.

I love the chocolate éclair. The choux pastry was not “eggy” or light like the ones I usually would have. Rather it was dense, chewy and almost pie crust like and I really quite enjoyed it. Maison Kayser was also very generous with the chocolate filling – which was rich and sweet.

Chocolate eclair and citron tart

The pastry I most look forward to was the citron tart. I have this affinity for all things sour and lemon. However this tart was very sour. For someone who loves sour things, this tart was unbearably sour. It took me quite some time to finish it.

For the pain au chocolat and pain au fromage which I had a couple days later for breakfast**, they were equally delicious. I especially enjoyed the pain au chocolate – warm, crispy and the melting chocolat. Délicieux!

These days, it is becoming near impossible for me to go Maison Kayser and not get anything. For a city bakery, the prices are very reasonable (except for the coffee, in my opinion) and almost everything is delicious. And yes I am thoroughly addicted the smell of fresh bakes.

*A couple days later, I went back to Maison Kayser and brought home some of the croissants. The next day, I defrosted and toasted the croissant – it was divine! Pastries must always serve warm.

**If you plan to buy the pastries and keep them for breakfast, I would strongly recommend to put them in the freezer, even if you are having them the next day. Putting in the fridge or leaving them at room temperature, I feel, will deteriorate the texture and taste of the pastries.

Maison Kayser
6 Scotts Road, Scotts Square, #B1-09
+65-6636-3672
Opening hours: 8.00am-8.00pm (daily)

Joy the Baker’s pretzel dogs

Some of you might know that I have recently discovered Joy the Baker (which by the way is a treasure). I was reading some of her older entries and one that I was extremely drawn to was pretzel dogs.

All dough up

Egg washed, salt and pepper

So here’s the thing – I love hotdogs. There is something magical about this simple fare. So what if it’s mystery meat, it’s delicious meat. And I can never leave Ikea without chowing down one of those S$1 hotdogs.

When I saw Joy’s recipe for pretzel dogs, I knew I hit the jackpot. I love chewy, soft pretzels and to pair with my favourite mystery meat – it was freaking match made in heaven.

The finished product

Don’t be fooled by the lengthy instruction – making pretzel dogs is not that difficult and Joy even has pictures for each major step. The only mistake (which is not major) I made was I overcrowded my baking tray. I didn’t expect the pretzel to expand that much hence some of the dogs were sticking to each other and didn’t get browned on the side.

I passed some of the pretzel dogs to my friend Biona who loved them so much, that she went to make her own a few days later. So the only thing I can tell you is get along and start making pretzel dogs (yes, yes, once you have the first bite, rainbow and unicorns will appear).

Smitten Kitchen’s cheddar, beer and mustard bread

The moment Deb posted the recipe for Cheddar, Beer and Mustard bread, I knew I have to bake it. How not to? This bread has everything I love.

Yes, the aftermath

Finally managed to stuff everything in the pan

While reading through her instructions, I knew this was going to be a tough one. Well, I didn’t exactly expect a war to happen in my kitchen (this was especially not good considering Mdm Tan mopped the kitchen in the morning). While mixing the dough, I noticed it was wetter than the usual bread dough, still I did not follow my instinct, and let the dough rest and rise. When it was time to assemble all the ingredients, the dough was so soft, I could not even roll it out with my pin.

In the end, I spread the dough with my bare hands (don’t worry, I washed my hands). And here came mistake number two. I decided to sprinkle the cheddar cheese on the ENTIRE piece of dough (as per instructed, I should cut and pile). As the dough was really soft, it was impossible for me to pile the dough without spilling the grated cheese. So I gave up trying to pile the dough (bye bye pull-apart bread). I just tried my best and piled all the pieces of dough together and ensuring equal distribution of cheddar cheese.

See the crack? Courtesy of the spatula

And you think everything ends here right? NO. Once the bread was baked, I struggled to get it out of the pan. Despite I have oiled the pan thoroughly, the cheese melted and stuck to the pan. Armed with my spatula, I managed to get the bread out without major damage.

The finished product

Cheezzzz-ball

Though the journey was tough, the end result was delicious. My friend, Lynda, described the bread as cheez-ball (which sadly Planters has discontinued) bread. I just love how rich and cheesy it was, and you also get the sudden hit of mustard which was savoury and pungent.

That said, it’s safe to say I won’t try to reprise this recipe soon. I think I want to my kitchen clean for awhile.

Breakfast of the week

I don’t really eat breakfast. Between sleep and food, I rather choose sleep. My morning is always a rush. If I can gulp down a cup of coffee, I am in luck.

When I got back from the States, I was suffering from pretty bad jet lag. I was waking up at 4am. So when you can’t sleep, what can you do? Eat! And I have some personal breakfast favourites.

Fried beehoon with fish cake

Fried beehoon. I remembered when I was a kid, I have this obsession with fried beehoon – I would have it every day for a year! It was just plain old fried beehoon with a few pathetic bean sprouts and I was happy. Of course when you get older, you get a little fancy. You can have otah, fish cake, chicken wing, egg – everything just goes with fried beehoon.

Roti prata with curry

Fluffy cloud of dough

I am also a sucker for roti prata. Its almost like fried dough – you get a nice, crispy skin, and inside the roti prata is warm, fluffy and chewy. Curry. Come on, who can say no to curry? And curry can be eaten morning, noon and night. When you put roti prata and curry together, they are unstoppable! I will always snigger at those who only have one piece of roti prata. How can you stop at one? It’s not possible.  And I have two very essential beverages to go with roti prata. If I am having roti prata as breakfast, my choice of drink will be teh halia (ginger milk tea) – its warm, soothing and comforting. If the meal takes place in the afternoon, the drink has to be homemade (not those canned stuff) iced lemon tea – refreshing and thirst quenching.

Teh halia

Homemade iced lemon tea

I will never be able to resist mee siam. Each sip of the assam broth, you get fireworks in your mouth – sweet, savoury, spicy and sour – there are so many layers of flavours in this simple dish. It is not a fancy dish – beehoon, beancurd and an egg. That’s all. Yet it is delicious and satisfying.

Mee siam

The great thing about staying in an Asia country is you have so many breakfast choices and every day you can try something new. And best of all, a lot of these breakfast items are available morning, noon and night. Which is great news for me as I will always choose sleep over food.

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