Barley Risotto with Brussel Sprouts, Goat Cheese, and Basil
A rainy Sunday morning found me wandering around in circles at Whole Foods Market, where I had come to buy yogurt and fruit but couldn’t resist browsing through everything else in the store. I was actually surprised to run into one of my classmates who was studying in the café area - something I could never do since I would probably just take “study breaks” every 15 minutes to get cheese samples or something. Anyway, I came across brussel sprouts during this glorious 1.5 hour long grocery shopping trip and remembered that Rice’s beloved Baker Servery used to serve these occasionally. Since I’d never cooked anything with brussel sprouts before, I did what any hip Whole Foods customer would do: whipped out my iPhone to search for recipes on the spot and ultimately found this one. It’s somewhat time-taking (about 1.5 hours total of prep time and cooking) but is worth the effort!
Post-exam experimental cooking is totally my new hobby (and so therapeutic too).
1 cup pearl barley
2 cups vegetable (or chicken/beef) broth
2-3 cups brussel sprouts, halved
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped (next time I would add even more, maybe 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
First sauté the brussel sprouts in vegetable oil, lightly salted, until they’re tender and browned (should take 5-6 min) and set aside. You could also try roasting them in an oven to make them more tender and uniformly cooked.
In a separate pot, mix the broth with an equal volume of water and heat it on low flame, just to keep it hot until it’s added to the risotto.
Sauté the onions and garlic until brown, add the barley, and cook for 2-3 min. Then mix in the basil.
Add 1 cup of broth, then the rest in 1/2 cup increments, waiting until the barley is almost dry before adding the next 1/2 cup of broth. This allows the risotto to stay at a stew-like consistency throughout. On medium heat, it took me about 25 min total to finish adding all of the broth.
After the last 1/2 cup of broth, mix in the sautéd brussel sprouts and reduce heat to low. Cook for 3-5 min before mixing in the goat cheese.
Ever since learning what an affogato was a year ago in the McMurtry college class Coffee Culture, I’ve been on a mission to find a café that makes these. Today, I can finally say mission accomplished. Affogato, meaning “drowned” in Italian, is simply a scoop of ice cream or gelato “drowned” in a shot of espresso. At Paciugo - Italian for “messy concoction” - you get 3 scoops of gelato of any flavor with either espresso or hot chocolate (of course, any coffee lover like me would go for the espresso). After an arduous decision-making process involving multiple free gelato samples, I chose hazelnut mocha swirl, chocolate hazelnut, and French vanilla bean for my first ever affogato. Drizzled with freshly brewed espresso, this trio of flavors makes for a truly beautiful mess of a concoction. You can’t waste too much time gawking or taking pictures because the espresso turns cold pretty quickly and the different gelato flavors meld together. Hot meets cold, and instantly the dessert starts melting into something that is greater than the sum of its parts - sweet, bitter, decadent. Love at first sight for a foodie.
Affogato is easy to make using servery ingredients. Although the serveries don’t have espresso machines, you can just pour roughly 1/3 cup of coffee onto a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy! Not the same as gelato with espresso, obviously, but it still tastes great.
Last summer, I had the pleasure meeting a Singaporean, Jessica Wee from my firm, and she wrote up a long list of places that I needed to check out in Singapore before I left. Granted, I had limited time, but I am hoping that all of y’all can try out her suggestions.if you try these things, please let us know!!
She includes her own suggestions and insights, written in the cutest, Singaporean way possible:
1. two fat men, east coast road
it’s a bar that sells western-thai food. quite a chill-out place to go, if you stay nearby. and they have very nice fried rice! reasonably priced too.
2. everything with fries, joo chiat road
this coffee chain is getting very popular, they also have brunches at orchard central and holland village. fries are the main attraction, you can choose fries with different flavouring like seaweed, curry, garlic etc. sandwiches are not bad, i always have the ham and cheese. reasonably priced too. BUT. you should really try the desserts.
what’s good: NUTELLA TART! it’s awesome. very good. if you go to the joochiat branch, you should walk down to awfully chocolate, which is under the same company as everything with fries.
the awfully chocolate chain is a dessert chain with many stores in sg, but the joo chiat branch is where they also have joojoo ( jap yakitori food which is so-so ) and mooshi bakes ( pretty nice bakery ) and they are all under the same company.
but what’s good at awfully chocolate:
HEI ICE CREAM. u must try this! WHITE CHOCOLATE BUTTERSCOTCH ROLL. really good.
the choc rum and cherry cake is good but you need to buy one whole cake though. cupcakes are so-so superstacked chocolate cake is.. so-so for me, but my friends love it. COLD POACHED CHOCOALTE is surprisingly quite nice too.
and it’s not very .. jelat ( singlish for.. oversaturating.. like if you eat too much creamy stuff like carbonara pasta you get this very.. full and oversaturated feeling ) i ordered the ice cream, butterscotch roll, superstacked choc cake, cold poached choc all in one sitting and we were still fine after that.
3. ISLAND CREAMERY serene centre.
i like their ice cream, esp the pulut hitam, teh tarik reverso flavour. you must try the pulut hitam! it’s the only one i think is the best in singapore. pulut hitam is a traditional hot desert, which is black glutinous rice with coconut milk. and you cn take photos and print them out at this cafe too.
4. SEVENTH HEAVEN, raeburn park.
this is pretty deep in, near tanjong pagar. ice cream stall that serves good alcoholic and chocolate ice cream! check the opening hours too k.
5. tom’s palette, shaw towers.
this is the same place as caramel cafe, near our work place. what makes them different is that they have very funny and interesting flavours, like
longan red tea, salted egg etc. what’s good is the granny’s favourite. i love it.
6. udders ice cream, opposite united square and siglap, upper east coast road.
go for their alcoholic flavours and the durian! hard to get a seat though!
7. ice cream chefs, east coast road.
i like that this is pretty small and quiet, not as noisy or crowded as the other ice cream stores. but what they do is that they specialise in ice cream with mix-ins.. and you can bring anything you want to mix into your ice cream. i know some people who brought hashbrown ( weird right?! ) and other strange stuff too. but i like the kaya pandan flavour.. but do take note that they rotate flavours and it’s pretty limited though.
8. rich and good cake shop, kandahar street, near haji lane.
this shop sells swiss rolls that are nice! esp the pandan kaya and the durian one. BUT the owner’s kinda… grouchy and also the rolls, esp the durian ones, sell out quite fast.
9. YOU MUST TRY THIS NOODLE CALLED BAK CHOR MEE
which literally means minced pork noodle. cause it’s very. singaporean to me.
there’re 2 versions, the dry and the soup. the dry one is more common, esp in many food courts, but they all taste the same. it’s basically dry noodles ( choice of meepok, which is like.. fettucine, meekia, like…linguine but rounder, meesua, which is like beehoon but more chewy ) with some special sauce.
the good dry ones i’ve had so far are at:
- ta hua bak chor mee, crawford lane. one of the earliest and traditional ones, with a queue but it’s pretty fast. it’s really good. order the 4 dollars one ( although it doesnt come with dumplings ) cause i find the 5 bucks one (regular) to be pretty jelat after a while.
-seng kee bak chor mee, changi road. i love their soup. and the guy who cooks the noodle will toss it into the air if he’s in the mood while he’s cooking.. try the fish maw soup! it’s good.
the best soup one:
feng shan food centre, bedok block 85 YOU MUST COME TO THIS HAWKER!
the food is awesome.
it is one of the original and the very few places where you can find authentic bak chor mee soup. it’s very comforting. tables are hard to find.. if you cant get one, just approach the drink store uncle and ask him if he can get a table for you but you have to order from his stall. this kinda food centres are very rare in sg cause it’s the very rare few where it’s so popular there are not enough seats in the centre ( partly also cause ventilation sucks there) and people just eat in the open.
there are 2 stalls, but order the one nearer to the drink store. the one that only sells the soup version and not the dry one. but you’ll have to wait cause it’s very popular. IT’S ONLY OPEN AT NIGHT TOO! and when the noodle comes, it’s preferable to mix the soup and the bak chor ( minced pork ) a bit first to ensure that…. it’s well cooked.. but it’s perfectly safe so dont worry!
and when you are at bedok 85. you need to try the stingray from WANG WANG you wil never miss it. the guy wears a purple shirt and he’s always shouting wang wang tie ban shao and it’s along the same row as the bak chor mee stall. THE STINGRAY IS DAMN AWESOME!
and you can also try the haepia, or prawn cracker, which i personally like but can be quite an acquired taste but it’s worth a try! it’s like yong tau foo where you pick out the stuff, just that everything is deep fried. they have spring rolls and NGOH HIANG. which is a kinda of chinese spring roll with spices and i think you should try it!
but it’s best to only order 1 haepia cause their haepia is huge.
10. best chicken rice: tian tian chicken rice at maxwell hawker.
that is really the best i’ve taken so far. superb. but long queue.
if you are there, you can also try the ham chim peng, which is like fried salted bun, but you can fry it yourself there! quite nice too.
11. seng kee, changi road.
this is opposite the seng kee bak chor mee, opens only at night, closes at around 3am?
pig organ soup is nice. and herbal… crab bee hoon is good too. hae chor is nice! ( it’s prawn spring roll with chest nuts )
12. thaipan, changi village and mandarin gardens, east coast.
this is the place with the BEST BUTTER SQUID EVER! it’s not like deep fried squid, but squid that is fried, with butter sauce. really good. and cheap too. they have this pork floss tofu which i think you can try?
13. ramen: NOODLE HOUSE KEN, near cuppage plaza
i like their ramen.. small place, but has a very japanese feel to it? cold ramen is nice.
14. for salted egg york bun
(the one they always order at the victor’s kitchen at sunshine plaza, with the salted egg yolk sauce flowing out)
the best is at the cathay.
i like it cause the bun is of the right thickness and the sauce is just.. awesome. and they have bits of salted egg yolk which you can chew on too. so it has that texture to it. it’s also one of the first to introduce the salted egg york trend in sg.
15. for the good old traditional kaya-toast breakfast, you should try TONG YA, at keong saik road.
kaya toast is good, coffee ( the singaporean style ) is nice and comforting.
16. frozen yoghurt: YOGURU. raffles city
it’s one of my favourites. more tart, yoghurt is not runny, toppings are very simple.
17. gong cha,
which is every where, has pretty good bubble tea too. i love the bubble tea with white pearl, which is made of seaweed. sounds strange but it’s better than the koi pearl.
18. if you love choc ice blended drinks, you can try the ones at godiva. they have milk, dark and white ice blended, complete with the choc chunks. very sinful and rich and it gave me a sore throat after drinking it. but worth a try if you are a choc fan.
19. decent tirumisu is at da paolo.
you can buy it take away at their take away stores, at holland village, great world city. 7 for a small, and 20 for a big tub.
20. XIAOLONGBAO BUFFET.
this is worth going. xiao long bao buffet at crystal jade, holland village. 27 bucks for unlimited xiao long bao and steam boat, and other side dishes. it’s worth it cause the xiaolong baos are good. and of standard. i think students get a discount too?
21. if you guys have time or a longer lunch break, you can walk to jalan besar for laksa. it’s called sungei road laksa, quite hard to find, near hdb flats. it’s one of the most value for money,at $@ and one of the most original laksas around.
22. for nice bak kut teh, you can try ah hua bak kut teh at keppel or havelock road. it is pork bone soup, which was like the one we had in malaysia? just that the singapore version is lighter, clearer and more herbal… which i prefer.
you can go for the lean meat version, or the pork kidney etc.. and you can have it with mee sua noodles ( mian xian ) the peanuts are pretty nice there too.
i like this cause i’ve been taking it since young. but there’s another store which is very famous and popular too. it’s called founder bak kut teh, at balestier. and top stars like jay chou always eat there whenever they are in singapore. but the queue is crazy.
23. nice chee kuay: it’s rice cake with.. salted veg.. sounds strange but it’s worth a try. you can try it at the coffeeshop below our office [waterloo office], but the tiong bahru market one has very good ones. it’s called jian bo shui kueh. it is very good!
24. char kuay teow. which is fried guo tiao. the best one i’ve ever had is at hong lim food centre. only 2.50! and worth trying. it’s at hong lim food centre
West Servery, Lunch/Dinner, Level: medium, Time: 5-8 min
You’ve probably had salads containing strawberries, mandarin oranges, or other types of fruit. Put simply, this recipe takes such a salad and places it between two slices of bread. The end result is a perfect combination of sweet and savory, a sandwich that simply screams scraps to scrumptious (and inspires alliteration, apparently). You’ll need the following ingredients: bread, mixed field greens, red onion, pepper jack cheese, bleu cheese crumbles, and strawberries. You’ll also be using a toaster and microwave so be prepared to spend some time in the servery.
First, lightly toast the bread (I used honey 7 grain). If you don’t toast it, the bread has a tendency to get too soft and soggy by the end of the process. Although West servery doesn’t have a panini press, if you were at North you could probably assemble the entire sandwich first and then toast it in the panini press at the end.
On top of the toasted bread, add the field greens, pepper jack cheese, and red onions. Then microwave it for 20-30 sec, enough to melt the cheese.
On a separate plate, slice the strawberries and add them to the sandwich. Sprinkle the bleu cheese crumbles on top and add the other bread slice.
I suggest squishing the whole sandwich together tightly to avoid spillage. Hopefully you enjoy the taste of this sandwich (or panini, depending on how you decide to make it) just as much as I did!
I found this online, and I thought it was mind-blowing! An advocate of repurposing infrastructure for alternative needs, I love this idea of melding infrastructure and growing mushrooms. Check out the link. Ingenious!