Homemade Yogurt Breakfast

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I had a teeny bit of time one Saturday morning, so I made this healthy yet very satisfying breakfast. There was mango and pear in the fridge, and some greek yoghurt too. I wasn’t quite content with just fruit and yogurt, so I rummaged in the freezer for some rolled oats, toasted it and then drizzled over some Manuka honey. I think the combination of nutty toasted oats and herby honey really lifted the yogurt to a higher level. Not to mention, the mango was nice and fragrant, making it something yummy to look forward to again soon.

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There’s no real need for a recipe, but here goes if you must.

Ingredients:

1 small mango, skinned, seeded and cubed
1 pear, cored and cubed
1 cup thick greek yogurt
1 handful rolled oats
1 tbsp Manuka honey

Method:

  1. Prepare the fruit, lay in a shallow dish and spoon over the yogurt.
  2. Spread the oats in a thin layer in a toaster oven and toast for about 2 minutes or till just brown.
  3. Scatter the oats over the fruit and yogurt, then drizzle over the honey.
  4. Stir and enjoy.

Serves 1.

Heavenly and Incredibly Easy Poached Pears in Red Wine

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Pear poached in red wine is one of those chi-chi restaurant desserts that’s actually quite a no-brainer to make at home. It’s so much easier yet somehow more impressive than baking a cake. I made some the other night and it was such a revelation!

Here’s where all the leftover red wine stashed in the freezer comes in useful. Or you could just use any cheap not-too-sweet red. Use as many or as few of the spices as you like. I think the poaching liquid ends up like mulled wine with all the spices!

For dessert, I reduced some poaching liquid to make a sauce.  I left the pears soaking in the rest of the poaching liquid overnight. The next morning the pears deepened to the darkest purple ever. This time, I didn’t bother with a reduction and just had them cold as a fancy fruit compote with my thick yogurt. Both were very yummy.

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Ingredients:
½ bottle red wine
4 black peppercorns
4 green cardamom pods
½ stick cinnamon
1 star anise
4 cloves
lemon peel from ½ lemon
½ cup sugar
2 pears

Method:

  1. Combine wine with spices, lemon peel and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer on low heat.
  2. Get on with peeling and coring the pears. Cut each pear into eight.
  3. By now the poaching liquid should be at least warm. Lower pears into poaching liquid and keep on a low simmer for 20 minutes or till pears are soft.
  4. For serving immediately, fish out the pears and boil the poaching liquid till the resulting syrup coats the back of a spoon. Drizzle the sauce over the pears and serve with Greek yogurt, crème fraîche or ice cream.
  5. Alternatively, leave the pears in the poaching liquid overnight to steep. Eat with yogurt for a decadent breakfast.

Serves 2-4.

A Rather Healthy and Slightly Sinful Lunch

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I ran out of gas yesterday. Even though the new cylinder came very promptly, I challenged myself to make lunch without using the gas stove. I had a rather odd bunch of stuff in the house. First, there was some potato to finish before they started sprouting. There was some defrosted chicken thigh, skin on. In the veg department, there was some curly red lettuce crying out to be used, mint leaves, laksa leaves and some leftover celery. I also had some pear and leftover lemon wedges in the fridge.

It all came together in the form of roast potato in laksa and mint salsa verde, baked chicken and a green salad with celeary and pear. It was light yet satisfying and great for fine sunny weather that threatened to turn cloudy. Try this all together or take it apart to assemble your own version.

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Roast Potato in Laksa and Mint Salsa Verde and Baked Chicken with Skin

Ingredients:
1 russet potato
1 handful laksa leaves
1 handful mint leaves
1 tbsp oil
sea salt

1 chicken thigh with skin

Method:

  1. Scrub the potato thoroughly and slice thickly. Peel the potato if you like but I never bother. Grill the slices on both sides till slightly browned. Remove and then preheat oven to 150ºC.
  2. Chop the mint and laksa leaves finely, add a good pinch of sea salt and then mix with the oil. Smear generously onto potato slices. Put into the oven together with the chicken (and skin) and bake for 15 minutes till the chicken is cooked and the skin crispy.
  3. Serve with the salad.

For one person. Easily scaled up.

Celery, Pear and Mint Salad

Ingredients:
1 stick celery
½ pear
3 small bunches red curly lettuce or other lettuce
1 handful mint
¼ lemon
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Cut the celery into long, fine diagonals and the pear into fine matchsticks. Tear the lettuce into small pieces.
  2. Put celery, pear, lettuce and mint into a large bowl. Squeeze over half of the lemon, then pour over the oil and add a good pinch of salt and a generous grinding of pepper.
  3. Using clean hands (use spoons if you’re squeamish), toss the salad until mixed well. Taste and add a bit more lemon juice or salt and pepper if necessary.
  4. Serve.

For one greedy person or 2-3 non-salady people.

An Accidental Lunch at the Moomba

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I suggested going to the Moomba for lunch with friend, thinking that it was a place for wraps and fancy sandwiches.  I’d mixed it up with its sister establishment, the Moomba Tuckshop. When I got to Circular Road, I realised my mistake. It’s a modern Australian restaurant, more fine dining than fancy sandwich. Luckily, my friend was happy to play along and, having no preconceived notions of what the food should be, we had an unexpectedly good lunch at the place.

The restaurant was pretty expensive, with appetisers going from $24 up, mains $25 up and desserts $12 up.  Since neither of us were big eaters, we decided to share an appetiser, two mains and a dessert. Swift mental calculations told me that the best deal was the 3-course lunch offer ($42) plus an a la carte main.

The appetiser was three Hokkaido scallops on a bed of watercress salad ($24). Each scallop was lovingly seared so it had a smoky crust giving way to the juicy still-raw interior. The seafood freshness really hit the spot. The accompanying salad was well executed as the spiciness of watercress was well balanced by incredibly sweet cherry tomatoes. The chef evidently chooses his produce very carefully.

The mushroom risotto ($25) was another winner. The risotto itself was studded with mushroom bits and perfumed with just enough truffle oil to tantalise. Covering half the risotto was a giant portobello mushroom, grilled to meaty perfection. Point to note: this dish was served at the edge of al dente, so you need to get to it fast before the rice grains go soft. We made the fatal mistake of chatting for too long before coming to our senses. Then we fell upon it and polished it off to the last grain.

Grilled kangaroo ($36) came next. It was surprisingly good medium done and could easily pass off as beef. Tasting somewhat like a cross between beef and venison, it was slightly more gamey than beef and had less of an iron tang than venison. The kangaroo was set on a pile of what looked like asparagus stems and had a few coins of purple sweet potato on the side. It was all faultless, so we could just focus on enjoying the food and the conversation.

Being on an adventurous streak, we went for the poached pear with blue cheese ice cream ($13). The ice cream tasted at first like baked cheesecake, with the accompanying mouthfeel. The only difference was that it had an extra savoury aftertaste.  It took another few spoonfuls before the blue cheese flavour came through. It was odd but somehow worked. Good for those who don’t like their desserts too sweet. The poached pear in red wine was too sweet for my liking. Having the pear and ice cream together, we felt that there was too much going on at the same time: soft grainy pear, sweetness, a hint of red wine, cold unctuous cheese and the salty pungency of blue cheese all together was  too overwhelming. While I’m unlikely to order it again, it was a fun experiment and I’m glad to have tried it.

Final notes: This place, like most chi-chi establishments, checks if you want still or sparkling water. They’ll pour  you tap water from pretty herb-sprigged bottles if you ask. Service was generally good: unobtrusive and attentive. One thing they need to work on is the pricing of their set menu. We expected to be charged a la carte prices for the cheaper mushrom risotto and pay for the kangaroo as part of the set, but the bill came otherwise. They were good enough to make the change in our favour, so kudos to them for saving us $20!

I’d definitely come back here again for its inventive food. The set lunch is good value since you get to choose anything from the a la carte menu, the produce is fresh and of good quality, and the cooking is top notch.

The Moomba
52 Circular Road
Tel: 6438 0141

P.S. Apologies for the lack of photos. It was a happy accident that I got to eat here so didn’t bring my camera.