Dec 17, 2012

Nutella Breakfast Crepes

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My 5-year old son, Lucas who turns 6 at the end of the month knows a thing or two about life.  A hard-wired perfectionist, he's an earnest student, a sincerely loving big brother (not too good as a younger one though), an avid gardener, a strong boxer and an ultra-fine hug machine, to me at least! He's not much of an eater though so he knows that whenever he does ask for food, that mom WILL indulge! Even if it meant Nutella crepes for breakfast!

So anyway, you have him to thank for this post. It's nice being back here and back in the kitchen! Well, sort of...

Regarding crepes, you will find, that after you've done this twice, that no other dessert will compare in simplicity and speed. The recipe is undemanding and easily memorized and a non-stick skillet does the trick! No need for special equipment. 

I daresay, with a little practice, you can have your first crepe out within ten minutes of the first thought of having crepes! And just like sandwiches, the fillings are endless from savory to sweet.


Nutella Crepes
Makes 5 14-inch crepes

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup Fresh Milk
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour, sifted
  • 1/2 T White Sugar
  • 1 T Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 3 T Unsalted Butter, for the skillet
  • Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
  • Confectioner's Sugar
  • Fruit (optional)

- Three things are essential to achieve good crepes: a smooth batter with no lumps, a hot skillet and just the right amount of butter which really shouldn't be much.
-In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and flour. Sifting the flour through a sieve helps and so with steady whisking until all traces of flour are incorporated.
-You can opt to add the sugar to the batter at this point or a pinch of salt if you want to make savory crepes. Either way, it's no deal breaker whether you decide to do so or not.
-I also like to add around a tablespoon of butter which I melt using the non-stick skillet for the crepes themselves so I get to butter the bottom of that and get to pre-heat it at the same time.
-Okay, onto the most delicate part of the operation, the mounting and dismounting of the crepe!
-Heat a 12-14 inch skillet on medium high heat till sizzling hot. Add around half a tablespoon of butter to the pan and smear across the bottom.
-Using your left hand, lift the skillet out of the fire and with your right, ladle in around 1/4 cup of batter in the center, while evenly swaying the skillet to let the batter swirl round and round until it covers the bottom of the pan. If you're crepe has holes or doesn't reach the edges of the bottom of the pan, don't worry! You can still patch it up by adding more to the empty spots.
-Give your crepe around 30 seconds to 1 minute on one side before flipping it over. This is where familiarity with the heat of your stove top and the thickness of your skillet will be important. Too hot and your crepe will stick. Too much butter and it steams. So find the balance between those two.
-That said, it is universally known that the first crepe, just like the first pancake of the day, usually goes to the dogs.
-Loosen the edges of the crepe with a flat non-stick spatula and make your way to the center. When you've got most of the crepe on, swiftly flip over onto its other side. If it goes on crumpled, again, do not worry, you can simply push and prod to get it into place. 
-I like mine toasty and slightly burnt on the edges so I cook my crepes a little longer...especially good with a simple sugar and lemon crepe! 
-When you're happy with the doneness of your crepe, you can now proceed to fold it in half, and then fold that half into a fourth. I like flipping and cooking each side a little more to make sure the crepe's nice and tight.
-Now comes the fun part for the kids: Smearing all the Nutella on the top and then dusting with confectioner's sugar!
-You may choose to add a fruit at this point. Banana or strawberry or mango. It's all up to you...
-I guarantee, plates will be licked with this one! Either yours, your kids or your dog's!

Oct 14, 2012

P.S Cafe, I love you, Singapore

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Whenever in Singapore, my husband and I find ourselves in  P.S Cafe one way or another.


Whether for coffee or lunch, and lately I've learned, for drinks...P.S Cafe delivers. 


With a few branches all over Singapore, there's many to choose from. The one in Paragon Mall being the most accessible to most weary shoppers. My favorite however is the one on Harding Rd. in Dempsey Hill.


The quaint stand alone space makes one feel instantly at home. 


With it's tall ceiling and windows perfectly framing lush greenery outside, you know you'll most likely forget about time here. And with the homey wooden floorboards and the comfortable retro furniture, brunch will most definitely linger on and on...


And why not? The food and the sweets are just as gorgey as the interiors and more!


Drop dead Truffle Shoestring Fries! I don't know what it is, but they make their french fries just right!



The All Day Breakfast Sandwich prettily skewered. Made with toasted turkish bread with bacon, fried egg, roasted tomato and asparagus, mixed greens, herb mayo and smoked gouda. That's a lot!



Ever reliable Spaghetti Bolognase...approved by my  kids as well! It's really good.


P.S Cafe Burger made with pan-seared Wagyu and US Chuck patties no less! Served with BBQ-spiced potato wedges and a curry flavored aioli. Looks can be deceiving. This can be shared by two diners watching their waistlines.



Not convinced? Well then go for a night cap at least!



Because P.S Cafe glows just as prettily at night, with it's al fresco deck seating.



And I haven't even told you about the gorgeous drinks!



From left to right: A mojito, a sangria, a dirty martini and up front, a gin tonic. Now tell me, what's not to love?

Sep 20, 2012

Celebrity Chefs at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

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After over two months I finally find a day to myself and this blog! The problem is, life moves much quicker than I am able to write, so unless I find a way to add another day to my week, these sporadic inputs is all that I can manage. 

Anyway. Since I was last here, I've had two trips to Singapore, so despite more features on Italy that I've unexpectedly shelved but will hope to get to, ready or not, we're jumping to the good eats I've had of late, much closer to home!


It may be an Asian thing that we like things conveniently located inside climate controlled shopping malls, but despite the humdrum commercial locations of Mario Batali's Pizzeria Mozza and Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne at the Marina Bay Sands, they managed to pull of charming restaurants nonetheless (which for my taste would look more interesting street side--I'm just saying) with excellent food as to be expected. 


When at Pizzeria Mozza, you have to have the roasted Bone Marrow al Forno that comes with roasted garlic cloves that you smash and spread on grilled bread (with olive oil and some salt I suspect) before topping off with a generous spread of the marrow. The little greens are baby oregano though I'm suddenly not too sure now...could it be baby watercress? Still and all, this one's delicious! It seems that bone marrow's the new foie gras is it not?



I've never had this before at Mozza, but it turned out to be quite the revelation. Meet Chicken Wings alla Diavolo, Batali's take on spicy chicken wings with lemongrass, black pepper and chili oil. Eat with a generous squeeze of lemon and you're all set. Simple yet satisfying.



It goes without saying that you ought to have pizza here. I've been here three times and may have ordered the prosciutto and arugula pizza each time! I tend to be habitual that way but will aim to break it next time! 

While the pizza crust is tops, being crisp and chewy, it's far from knocking anyone's socks off. I've had similar in other places so surprisingly, Batali isn't too far ahead of the curve with this one. That said, I'm always happy after a meal here so it's definitely a worthwhile experience!

Being a pizzeria, you won't find pasta and other dishes on the menu. For a more extensive menu of main courses, go down the opposite side of the entrance, to Batali's higher end, Osteria Mozza.


Right next door to Pizzeria Mozza is Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne. It feels wrong to place the photo of this Lobster Salad above in the middle of this post because truth be told, I'd frame this for being the best salad in the world if it weren't too bizarre! Crunchy frisee, endive and radicchio tossed in a lemony vinaigrette, topped with tomatoes, yellow capsicum  and creamy lobsters, avocados and artichokes dressed with a lobster mayonnaise and drizzled with pesto oil. Oh. My. God. Enough said.


Next for hubby came a petite and pretty looking burger and fries. Wish I got the chance to sink my teeth into this but I had bigger poultry to tackle. He says it was good, a 9 out of 10 though our very own Manila Peninsula's burger is still better. Now I'm curious!


I on the other hand ordered a perfectly crisp Duck Confit. Golden brown and juicy, the meat didn't fall off the bone but held on rather gently giving way delicately to fork and knife. Underneath all this duck fat heaven lay a bed of thick slices of potatoes sauteed in duck fat no less, some garlic, onions, mushrooms and an unusual addition of chinese cabbage! I'm a fan of pechay so I'm happy to have seen the day it reached this saucy level! To counter balance the richness, this dish had a third element; a bright and fresh frisee salad topped with chopped chives. The brown drizzle is some mustard sauce if I remember right. I'd have to have this a second time to know for sure and jot it down this time!

Apart from not remembering that brown sauce, another hiccup... We were way too full for dessert from all our previous meals on the trip! (defeated sigh!) 

Daniel you're a star! And you owe us dessert next time!

Jul 15, 2012

Da Sostanza, Florence

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I first heard of Trattoria Da Sostanza from a friend who featured the place on her blog, The Hungry Ballerina and who adamantly insisted I tried the butter chicken at this famous hole in the wall bistro.


Da Sostanza has been on the same street since 1869 and in the exact spot and space since around 1932 after having been forced to move due to either a fire or a flood... I forget which exactly. Either way, I don't think I've eaten in a place that's been around this long! 


What I find remarkable is that despite its success and longevity, Da Sostanza has stayed put in a space that fits no more than 45 people. Unlike most of the world, with our capitalist inclinations, it's in small European cities that one finds gems like these that don't heed the pressure of going bigger and reaching further.


Therefore, obviously you'll need a reservation, obviously you'll need to bring cash and obviously you can't expect them to be open on Sundays! Or is it weekends? Charming like a 143 year old I say.




So let's get to  the meat of this. Once you get over how long this spartan and straight forward place has been around and how long they've been cooking the same thing in this tiny kitchen and stove, you'll soon appreciate what generations of Florentines and tourists have been coming back for.


Firstly, the WARM, SOFT rolls. I don't know about you but coming from a land of pillowy pandesals, this was a welcome break from the hard and crusty rolls that we've been having all week. I thought warming the bread was a thoughtful touch that no one else in the area bothered to do.


Then of course next we had some Fegatini ... not the best in the city but I forgive them.


And of course had to have a carafe of wine to wash things down properly. Their house wine was good enough so no need to spend extra for a better bottle!


Here are two pasta dishes, satisfying and perfectly done in its simplicity... a penne ragu and a buttery tortellini. Classic.



We've had a bit much of Florentine Steak at this point in the trip and so opted to have its famous side instead... the Tortino Carciofi simply known as artichoke omelet. This was a revelation. We ordered another one bubbling and fresh off the pan. Heavenly with the warmed bread.



But the dish of the hour, or more appropriately, the century, is the Petti di Pollo al Burro, plainly put, butter fried chicken! What can I say, anything that swims in butter is bound to be good!


The friendly cook and waitstaff allowed me to watch lunch being cooked. Here are a pair of boneless, skin on chicken breasts frying in frothy butter! I'm not big on chicken breasts but this was simply amazing. Nutty and surprisingly juicy and tender, I COULD have this often, except of course for the calorie issue. Sigh!


And then there was dessert. A huge slice of meringue and chocolate shavings with tiny and tart local strawberries. I don't recall if the cream was lemony or not, all the same, I polished off my slice effortlessly. I wish someone made this in Manila.


Undisputedly one of the better meals I had in Florence, I expect Trattoria Da Sostanza to last another hundred years easily! Perhaps by then they'd consider accepting credit cards.


Trattoria Da Sostanza
Via Porcellana, 25r, Florence, Italy
+ 39 055 212691

Jun 24, 2012

Obika Mozarella Bar, Florence

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I spent my birthday this year with my girlfriends in Florence, Italy. Right smack in the middle of our two-week trip in Tuscany, my good friend Nicole couldn't have picked a better restaurant for me to celebrate in!




Clean, modern and furthest away from the rustic, family-run restaurants that fill up Florence's dining scene, Obika was a refreshing break for the palate and the eye! My eye at least.



Here I found a familiar friend, the Tolix Marais chair designed in 1936 (believe it or not!), and which we also have at the office but in perforated mint green. Sweet!


And here is my jacket on a Sciangai clothing stand, designed in 1973 with its classic and simple design that folds up like an umbrella when not in use. Nifty!


Located inside the historic Palazzo Tornabuoni, sharing a street with high-end fashion neighbors, Obika sits next to Tod's and the gem of a wine bar, Procacci, which by the way is high on the list of aperitivo places to go to!



Upon entering the slightly miss-able entrance which I didn't notice until the time we went looking for it, the first thing that greets you is a courtyard with Obika's al fresco dining area.



It was pretty much love at first sight. And with the restaurant buzzing with people, it was safe to assume that the good taste in interiors carried over to the food as well!



More western in presentation and preparation, Obika proudly displays their food stations.


As the name implies, the stellar ingredient featured at the restaurant is the Mozarella di Buffala Campana. Above you find the different varieties submerged in its preserving liquid and below they seemed to have been rolled with other fresh ingredients...didn't get to try this though.



I did get to try the mozarella sampler however. On the right most side is the smoked version. The most unique of the three for sure!


They also have cutting boards of prosciutto, salami, mortadella etc to go with the mozarella. 


Thankfully, all this richness, saltiness and fat can be enjoyed with their wide range of wines.



And that's just for starters. What really got us loving this place were the pizzas! A rarity during our steak trip at Florence!



The waiter said, they let the pizza dough rise for 48 hours and then cook them on stone. I didn't spy a wood-brick oven unless it was hidden somewhere inside so I don't know how they bake these or what oven they use.




Hot from the oven, thin Neopolitan style crusts are topped with a generous helping of cheese, prosciutto and arugula!



Grilled pork medallions with watercress. A friend's attempt at eating healthy for a change!


Handmade Ricotta and spinach ravioli with butter and sage. Beguilingly simple and luscious!


If you're ever in Florence and need a break from the traditional, or have a hankering for the pizza you thought you should be having in Italy, then Obika should be top on your list! 


That said, Obika can also be found in other cities not only in Italy but also in London, New York, Los Angeles and even Tokyo! Lucky people...

Obika Mozarella Bar


Palazzo Tornabuoni 
Via del Tornabuoni 16
Tel: + 39 055 2773526
Email: firenze@obika.it