Blueberry Oat Breakfast Crumble

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The forgotten satisfaction of a textural orchestra first thing in the morning.

A crisp blueberry oat breakfast crumble. A warm middle, roasted and earthy, bleeding with blueberries, crying golden, glistening. 

Different mornings must heed to different needs. It’s like lunchtimes away from the office, discovering the magical brilliance about the combination of eggplant (qie zi), lotus root (lian ou), overcooked white rice, tofu (dou fu) and broccoli (xi lan hua). But mornings are the best. Sometimes it’s a dripping bowl of warm oats with a cold splash of almond milk. Other times it must be crunch-and-cream action, like crispy brown toast dipped into thick coconut yoghurt, opaque and lustful. Just this morning I indulged in the simple pleasure of crispy brown toast topped with tahini and marmalade. Nowadays I’ve tended to be more inclined to a scene of willing sogginess, dipping toast into coffee or letting my cereal and granola soak for a little too long in milk, sugars seeping out to sheen the white pool.

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It bubbles and glistens. This crumble offers it all. There is no need for time to drag crunch to sog like in the case of morning cereal.

As I dug into the gooey bottomed crumbled with a crisp, sugared top, creamy coconut yoghurt glazing all edges of my spoon and crumble, it occurred to me once again how much I adore the solitude and satisfaction of breakfast.

When I know breakfasts like these are good for me and the planet, there is simply no loss. It’s good to be a little aware, you know, of what you put inside yourself and how you feel about every bite. I used to think it so stupid and time-wasting to care so much. But you only start to care when you question. Which is more eco-friendly– the paper towel or blast dryer? These are actually very important questions.

I therefore take no shame in vaunting this one.

Blueberry Oat Breakfast Crumble (makes one or two small servings)

Ingredients 

3.5 tbsp coconut/oat/plain flour

3.5 tbsp whole rolled oats

pinch salt

1.5 tbsp maple syrup

120ml plant milk of choice (almond/rice/coconut/hemp etc, I used almond!)

handful of fresh blueberries

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C. In a large ramekin (or two smaller ones), mix all the crumble ingredients together with a fork. Bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes. Once out let cool a while before digging in with some coconut yoghurt or ice cream!!

Kaya Mochi

A few of you have asked me previously about my diet, and why I blog about breakfast and dessert specifically. I must say, I have recently made a minor, albeit profound change. To sum it up, I adopt a mostly plant-based, whole foods diet. The main reasons for this are:

Eating Animals

Forks over Knives

The China Study

Why the deprivation? Meat tastes the best!! I modified my About and FAQ’ page to cover a few points, but the above links are what induced a fixated curiosity on our warped nutritional conventions in the 21st century. So go ahead, click click click. On all the links.

Despite everything I say on adopting this diet, part of me feels a little sad because I do still eat a little meat, rendering my conviction less extreme, less concrete. It’s cultural convention to eat meat prepared for you, say, by your genius cook of a grandmother. This is why I still eat meat, albeit much less, replacing most of it with more starch and vegetables. And you know what? I haven’t felt better. Since the difficulty is justified, for reasons both ethical and environmental, ‘plant-based’ no longer carries the weight of ‘deprivation’ anymore. It really doesn’t. And I’ve finally come to realise that this is the right thing to do. If any of you have a similar experience with this, I’d love for you to share.

The second bit on why I choose to blog about breakfast and dessert specifically is also in the FAQ. I mean, my sweet tooth obviously deserves a bit of criticism. So check out the page for all that jazz as well.

Ok. Let’s talk about mochi!

Actually, I don’t know why that elicited an exclamation, because truth be told, I never was the biggest fan of mochi. I honestly just felt like trying something a little different. Increased exposure and this experiment indeed reversed my dislike.

Mochi is a delicate Japanese dessert, its name being derived from the type of flour used to make it– mochiko (rice) flour. Plus points for anyone who would potentially benefit: rice flour is gluten-free, with a substantial amount of niacin and B6. Amazing how it still yields such a chewy texture after being combined with the other ingredients. Typically stuffed with this divine, sticky red bean paste, but I changed it up just a little, deciding instead to fill it with homemade kaya (pandan spread). Weaved nostalgic taste into a minor innovative tweak. Each bite was sticky, slightly chewy, and bursting with the earthy, coconutty goodness of kaya.

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Kaya Mochi (makes around 10 depending on how big you like them, mochi dough recipe)

Ingredients

160g mochiko (rice) flour

180g icing sugar

300ml (1.25 cups) water

cornstarch for dusting

8-12 tsp kaya

Directions

Ready a large bowl full of cornstarch for dusting your hands and the mochi.

In a saucepan, whisk together the flour and water. Turn the stove heat to medium, add the sugar, and use a wooden spoon to continue stirring. Cook the mixture until it starts to look almost gelatinous, around 7-10 minutes. You will see the mixture thicken, and look slightly glassy on top. Leave to cool for another 10 minutes before touching and fiddling. Dust your hands with cornstarch, then scoop a bit of the mixture with a teaspoon. This bit onwards is a slightly sticky ride, but it’ll be worth it! Roll between your palms until you get a smooth, white ball. Use your fingers to flatten it a little, and place a tiny dollop of kaya in the middle. Gently pull the sides over the ball, and gently roll the mochi again to get an even sphere.

Dust with a mix of cornstarch and icing sugar before eating. Store in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days.

Classic Pancakes

Currently (sadly) alternating between periods of intense revision and:

  • wondering what Leonardo da Vinci’s Snapchats would be like
  • researching the nutrition of scallops and uni, in other words my two current favourite types of seafood
  • embarking on The Kitchn’s baking school program, which is definitely one of the most interesting and exciting things I’ve started in a long time.

Busyness aside, there will always be time for a good settle-down in the kitchen. Like a good breakfast. Something like this:

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thin, tender, lacey (English) pancakes (here topped with fresh ripe banana, drizzled with almond butter and salted caramel walnuts+melted matcha chocolate I saved all the way from Japan)

For creativity and mood’s sake, I gave in to the whole almond-matcha theme the first time round. It’s one of those things I’ve done before, loved, and you can check it out right here. Admittedly, the day after, I reheated a couple of extra pancakes and went for the classic, ever-loved combo of freshly-squeezed lemon juice and sugar. Deliciousness= lemon and sugar soaking into thin pancake flesh, into every crevice of the crumpled carpet. That being said, there’s also something magical about the combination of a fresh, warm pancake with a creamy slather of almond butter. The melted matcha chocolate hits everything with a sweet and slightly bitter kick.

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Sorry– trypophobics beware.

Having made plenty of American pancakes, the sort which fluff up and bounce and you top with butter and maple syrup, I thought it fitting to try something else. That’s when I came across Nigella Lawson’s recipe for classic crepes. And so another question popped up:

  • what’s the difference between a crepe and a pancake?

After trying out the recipe and doing the research, I had a hard time deliberating whether the final result was more akin to one or the other. The nuances of the recipe made this more a pancake than crepe, so pancakes it was. The main difference lies in waiting time, so calling it a crepe wouldn’t be sacrilege.

These pancakes are a real treat any morning. Very thin, lacey, and have a light brown, crispy underside. The great bit? You can put them together in a pinch and any leftovers can be chucked in the fridge and reheated the next morning/ whenever you want.

Took a while for me to get these pancakes as thin and lacey as possible, but a few good tricks to have up your sleeve are:

  • when putting melted butter into the pan before ladling of the pancake batter, do not use a paper towel to remove excess butter– add a generous amount of butter, let melt and swirl around. This will promote excellent browning and crispiness at the edges.
  • I repeat– generous amount of butter.
  • use medium-high heat– should hear a mild sizzle when batter hits the pan and a heavier-bodies sizzle when batter is ladled into pan.
  • After ladling, lift the pan off the heat to swirl it around evenly. This prevents any batter that’s already been ladled from cooking too fast and lets you swirl everything nicely and thinly.

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Classic pancakes (makes 8–10 medium pancakes; adapted from Nigella’s crepes recipe)

Ingredients

150g plain, all-purpose flour

2 tbsp white sugar

pinch salt

28g (2 tbsp) melted, unsalted butter, plus more for the pan during cooking

1 large egg

340ml milk of choice (I used both whole and almond milk on 2 occasions and both worked perfectly)

Directions

Preheat your pan or crepe pan on medium-high heat and ready some butter for cooking. In a large bowl, tip in the flour, salt, sugar, milk, egg and butter, in that order, and whisk everything together. Continue whisking until no lumps remain, and the batter is pale and silky. Use a small ladle to ladle in a little batter and immediately swirl in a circle formation to spread the batter evenly in the pan. As mentioned earlier in the post, you should hear a heavy-bodied sizzle upon the application of melted butter to the pan, and a mild batter when the batter actually hits the pan and starts cooking.

Your first and second pancakes might be a little dodgy, but it gets better as you go along (promise). Once the edges of the pancakes crisp up and brown, slide your spatula underneath and flip. Cook for up to 45 seconds on this side, then remove from the pan and place on a paper towel. When cooking the pancakes/crepes, layer paper towels between each to absorb the condensation.

Serve warm with more butter and honey/maple syrup, or lemon juice and sugar. Try out the combination in the picture above too– does wonders for your tastebuds, friends.

 

Make This Oatmeal Now (updated recipe with a twist)

I thought I had it all figured out, given the number of times I’ve made oatmeal in my life. Overnight, hot, cold, lukewarm (ew), apple-pied, black sesame-ed, peanut buttered, I’ve done it all. I even wrote a post about it here exactly a year ago, yet I only just discovered what I think is the perfect method for making the thickest, creamiest oatmeal ever. Trial and error does pay off sometimes. It’s more reliable, oats coming out perfect every time. Mind you, this method is preferable is you like the super thick and gloopy sort, but even if you don’t, you just have to take your oats out of the microwave a little earlier.

Catch– it involves the microwave. I can hear the disappointed sighs. They’re boring into the screen already, reaching me, slaps in the making.

I get it, I do. I used to think the only way to achieve the perfect, creamy consistency for oats is to do it the proper and old-fashioned stovetop way. The whole process just makes more sense, it wants you to feel like you’re doing it the better way, doesn’t it?

Funnily enough, this microwave method not only yielded the most desirable consistency, it also seemed to enhanced the flavour of mashed banana, the one ingredient I always put in before cooking my oats for added sweetness and creaminess.

No wait. Just do.

Directions 

The night before, mix together a half cup of rolled oats, half cup of water, half a mashed banana, and a half cup of milk of choice (I always use a mix of whole and almond) in a relatively large, microwave-safe bowl (because this mixture will se. Leave this in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, put your bowl in the microwave and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Take a spoon and mix, then put in the microwave for another minute. At this point, your oatmeal should be noticeably more voluminous and thickened, depending on the power setting of your microwave. Microwave in 30-second increments until you have oatmeal that seems to have more than doubled in volume. Just check your oatmeal every 30 seconds, mixing well between each spurt of heating. Err on the side of caution here.

And you’re done! At this point, you can add whatever you want. My standard toppings are more banana, a heaping tablespoon of almond butter (cashew/peanut/almond), blueberries for a nice tang to cut through the sweet goop, and plenty of honey or maple syrup. Once the oatmeal is a little cooler, I also add a dash of cold, whole milk.

BUT. In this case, I highly recommend trying out this kaya and coconut twist. It’s the sort of combination I’ll be coming back to again and again, for the flavours are close to my heart and it’s a nice break from your typical snack of kaya and butter toast!

The Twist

You should now have a thick, creamy, voluminous mass in your hands. Take the other half or a whole banana and slice it down the middle. Butter a hot pan and fry the banana on both sides. Place the caramelised banana on top of the oats, then add a heaping tablespoon each of almond butter and kaya (I love Breadtalk or Yakun, and my grandma makes a mean one too), a generous drizzle of maple syrup, coconut flakes and a dash of whole milk. Mix everything together, admire the glorious mess, then tuck in happily.

Avocado Yin Yang Mousse

Black and white. OK, green and white. It’s balance, it’s harmony, it’s almost meant to be.

I’m all for avocado and all the variations it can take on. This will be a short one, because I’m aching to get the directions out; it’s ridiculously easy and delicious. Plop everything into your blender or food processor and you’re in the groove. Chocolate avocado mousse has been done before, aka the wholesome take on a classic chocolate pudding. Look, I love the green stuff, but I still think a good chocolate pudding deserves to be just that– sinfully chocolatey, donned in cream and your normal sugar. But wait! Let’s think thick, rich, glorious breakfast toast spreads here. Maybe a snack, or something along those lines. With dark chocolate done, why not experiment with white? This one here incorporates both dark and white chocolate, with a few different ingredients thrown in here and there to enhance the chocolate theme, simultaneously complementing the natural richness and creaminess of avocado.

I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of the white chocolate variant in particular. The incorporation of the special ingredient –tahini– is what made it lush, thick and deliciously spreadable. No graininess, nothing. Just ease. Smoothness, a slight hint of salt, the childlike sweetness from melted white chocolate. That’s what I love about white chocolate. It appears to lack dimension and sophistication, but it’s the perfect medium for so many other things.

Avocado Yin Yang Mousse

Ingredients

For the dark chocolate take:

half an avocado

2 tbsp cocoa/cacao powder

1 tbsp honey/ maple syrup

1 tsp milk of choice

pinch salt

For the white chocolate take:

half an avocado

30g white chocolate, melted in the microwave

2 tbsp milk of choice

1 tbsp tahini (optional, but highly, highly recommended)

pinch salt

Directions

Blend the ingredients for the respective versions together in a food processor or blender. If you wish to make both (of course!), start with the white chocolate take first so that you won’t have to wash out your blender or processor after dealing with the cocoa/cacao powder. Spread on toast or eat on its own, maybe with a couple of dark chocolate truffles, mmm. This will keep for a week in the fridge.