Review: Paddy Hills

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Another day, another café. I’ve done a little review on Paddy Hills before, but I could not pass up the chance to visit again to sample a few items on their new menu. When I stepped through the entrance doors, I was reminded why, when I first visited more than a year ago, I kept telling myself, ‘come back, you gotta come back’. I haven’t done a review in aeons, but this place deserves one, and more to come.

Having been to many a ‘hip’ café before, safe to say that Paddy Hills lives up to its hyped name. A little off the beaten track at South Buona Vista, interior brimming with rustic majesty, flooded with wood and light. Tiles, the most beautiful navy wall, smiles. A close friend and I sat down excitedly, and were first served drinks.

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Iced Matcha. Creamy, thick, rich. This reminded me of Haagen Dazs’ green tea ice cream blended with a little milk. Perhaps just a little too sweet for a sustained sip, but refreshing nonetheless.

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Bubbly Yuzu. This fared well for the both of us. The bubbles added a lovely flair, but it was the perfect ratio of sparkle to sweet of the drink itself, combined with the textural difference of plum and grape jello, that really made this a special, whimsical drink.

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Berry Muffcakes! Complete with vanilla bean ice cream cubes, magic mango balls, a garden of berries, chocolate sauce and chocolate crumble. OK, these are not part of their new or limited-time-only menu, but I just have to throw these in because… I mean, can you not see the pictures above. It’s just ridiculous. After trying these the first time a while ago, I immediately started writing about them because I was so enamoured by its spot-on texture and toppings. I’ve had my fair share of hotcakes and this was by far the best I’ve tried. Friends, I do not joke. Crispy, robust edges, fluffy, pale yellow cakey belly, a firm, browned bottom. Not too sweet, either. There’s nothing more you can ask for.

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Winter Truffle Fries. Golden fries, shaved pecorino, and shaved black truffle. Some truffle aioli on the side, because what’s lush without sin? Truffle fries have a bit of a confusing rep because it’s true you can’t actually taste truffle; its expensive scent enhances the whole fry-eating experience. For a limited time only, I implore you all to get your hands on these absurdly crisp, golden strings of heaven. If you’re like me and enjoy crispy-only fries, as if they were fried through and through and then fried just once more, then get your foodie selves down to Paddy Hills stat (yeah, they definitely beat PS Café’s).

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Truffle Breakfast. House-cured salmon, soft scrambled eggs and shaved truffle on a bagel, with house-cured bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and arugula.

I don’t consume much meat, but I daresay the few bites I took were tender like none. The bagel was crisp and chewy; eggs silky, creamy and buttery without being cloying or gloopy. The milky, more earthy flavours of truffled egg and mushroom complemented the cured meats which cut through with a blaze trail of umami. A king-sized, well-balanced dish.

As the meal came to an end, it started to darken outside. The light all at once was harsh, then subdued. The sky gradient followed the rise and defeat of our appetites, as we looked despondently at our leftovers. Full, happy, done.

 

Paddy Hills

38 South Buona Vista Road

Weekdays:  10 30am-5pm, 6-10pm
Weekends: 9am-5pm, 6-10pm

6479 0800

 

 

Black Sesame Cinnamon Rolls (easy, eggless)

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I never expected a single public holiday to represent such freedom. Quite loving this mind shift, this change of tide, in the sense that I now savour small things like this. Like a short breather in between a long-range marathon. After all this time, I still get excited about writing blog posts for you guys, and creating different, easy-to-make (usually) recipes on all things breakfast and sweets. So it feels good to finally getting round to blabbering a little bit more in the morning. Indeed, I wouldn’t mind some pipette work in the lab, mind to matter, but days away from its calming sterility call for things I love most– drawn-out bouts of journalling, reading, watching, feeling, thinking, loving. With lots of coffee and tea, of course.

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Back in my first term at college, I modified a recipe for eggless cinnamon rolls out of pure circumstance. I didn’t wish to make them specifically for a vegan friend, though these turn out to be quite the treat if you do wish to make it vegan (simply change the milk and butter you use), and one wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anyway. The crunch of the black sesame pressed into a cinnamon-sugary-sweet filling is heaven in this one. The dough itself is satin and fluff, easy to tear and almost melt-in-your-mouth.

Black sesame cinnamon rolls, stuffed with a cinnamon sugar sesame filling, topped with a classic cream cheese frosting. 

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I’ve talked about these already in my first post on the recipe, so do go check it out, especially for some side profile sass and another cute flavour approach. The black sesame in this one elevates the humble bun’s sophistication, and adds several health benefits to something that’s not exactly the most healthful breakfast (ha). Rich in iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins, just a sprinkling of the seeds lends quite a boost to your day’s nutritional profile. I’m not trying to deceive myself or any of you into thinking these are actually good for you, but hey, the sprinkle is still something, and it’s intriguing and fun to think about, at least to me.

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Black Sesame Cinnamon Rolls (makes 9 mini rolls)

Ingredients

For the dough:

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

1 cup (240ml) milk– I used a mix of almond and whole

45g (3.5 tbsp) butter

250g (around 1 3/4 cups) plain flour, plus more for sprinkling on counter before kneading

3 tbsp black sesame powder, which you can usually buy from your local oriental store

pinch of salt+1 tbsp sugar

Vegan version: use a plant-based milk (almond/rice/soy) in place of regular milk, and vegan butter (Earth Balance)

 

For the filling:

45g (3.5 tbsp) butter, softened to room temperature

3 tbsp black sesame powder

large handful black sesame seeds

7 tbsp sugar mixed with 2 tbsp ground cinnamon

 

For the glaze:

50g icing sugar, sifted

25g cream cheese, softened

2-3 tbsp cream

 

Directions

Dough: In a microwave-safe bowl or in a saucepan over low heat, heat together the milk and butter until the butter has melted and the mix is warm (not scalding) to touch. Pour the mix into a larger bowl, then sprinkle on the yeast on one side of the bowl, and the salt and sugar on the opposite side. Wait 5 minutes, then add a half cup of flour at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon between each addition, followed by the black sesame powder. Once the dough is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured counter and knead for 2 minutes. The final result should be a smooth, rather taut ball of dough, so you may need slightly more or less than the aforementioned quantity of flour. Briefly grease the same bowl, pop the ball of dough in and let it rise until it doubles in size–around an hour. At this point, preheat your oven to 176C (350F) and liberally grease an 8×8-inch pan.

After the dough has risen, lightly flour your counter again and turn the dough out onto the counter. Roll it out into a half-inch thick rectangle. Brush on (I just used my hands here) the butter that’s softened to room temperature, then sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mix, black sesame powder and black sesame seeds. Tightly roll the dough from the long end, so you end up with a long, pale tube of dough. Place the roll seam side down, and using a serrated knife, cut your tube into 8-9 rolls, each around 1.5 inches thick. Place them into the greased square pan. Cover the pan with foil to avoid over-browning and place inside your preheated oven. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes.

While they’re baking, mix together the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl. Once the rolls have finished baking, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then go ahead and glaze the heck out of them. Sprinkle on some black sesame seeds to top. These rolls are best eaten immediately or at least the day they’re made, however you can keep them for the next day and microwave them to revive a bit of tenderness.

Orange Miso Buttermilk Bundt Cake

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A little twist never hurt anyone.

Here we have an orange miso buttermilk bundt cake, brushed with warm marmalade, tiger-striped with an orange miso buttermilk icing. Sunday respite indeed, friends. 

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‘Miso? That’s weird. But cool.’

My hesitant sister picked at the top of the cake (which is actually the bottom) in wonder. I pinched a bit off myself and heaved a sigh of relief. At both the final crumb, and the flavours present. One would think pairing two tangy ingredients wouldn’t do much for either of the two star flavours here, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. . In each bite, you get the fragrant tang of orange, and the more sharply, savoury-dish-salty punch of miso. The ultimate hit of umami, only partially disguised by the sweet, light background of fluff. On a side note, I only recently discovered that miso is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a peculiar-sounding fungus (Aspergillus oryzae). Soy has taken a backseat in my experimental repertoire, but it’s making a furious comeback, and one that I welcome, at that.

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It’s more of a pound cake than anything. Dense yet fluffy, which I attribute to the cake flour used. I did debate using normal all-purpose flour, and you can go ahead and try substituting that for the cake flour here, but it does make all the difference in producing a fairytale crumb. The best bit, in my humble opinion, is the outer crust, which is both robust and partially caramelised. The crust sings strength, so much so that I needn’t have to bother with cutting the top, for the firm bottom meant it could rest flat on the cake stand without unduly collapsing. The rise from the oven did produce some cracks, air pushing through a firm golden canvas, but these only helped the penetration of marmalade when it was warmed through and brushed on post-bake. What I was most happy with was that glaze– of stronger miso flavour than the cake itself, adding a bite that would otherwise be too pronounced in just the cake. The marmalade glaze is optional, but it added to the citrus theme, and the slivers of rind looked a picture on top of the crumbs and brown.

Just now I sat down to a thin sliver of the stuff, and discovered the burst of savoury flavour enveloped in a smooth, sweet body of cake goes perfectly with a simple scoop of plain vanilla ice cream. Family helped mop it all up. Yesterday I made a cake, and it was simple, and so so good. Not much else (aside from a very well-written paper or book or walk) makes me just as happy and satisfied.

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Orange Miso Buttermilk Bundt Cake (makes one standard bundt cake)

Ingredients

For the cake:

226g (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

330g (3 cups) cake flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 heaping tbsp white miso

560g (2 1/2 cups) white caster sugar

4 eggs

zest+ juice of 1 orange, reserve 1 tsp orange juice for the icing later

1/4 cup marmalade (optional)

120ml buttermilk, homemade or store-bought (to make: add a tbsp of white vinegar to your measuring cup or beaker, then fill to the 120ml mark with milk, and let sit for 5 minutes to let the acidity work its magic)

 

For the icing:

135g icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp buttermilk

1 tsp orange juice (from the one orange you juiced earlier for the cake)

1 tsp white miso

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F (177C) and grease a bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, rub the zest into the sugar. Add the softened butter, and use an electrical whisk to cream the butter and sugar mixture until light, white and fluffy, about a minute. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour, buttermilk and orange juice, and beat until you get a uniform, pale mixture. It should have a thick, dropping consistency. Finally, beat in the miso. Pour into the greased bundt pan and bake for 60-65 minutes. Mine was done at the hour-mark.

While it is baking, whisk together the ingredients for the icing and set aside. Once the cake is done, poke a few holes in the top, then brush the surface with marmalade that’s been warmed in the microwave. Leave the cake to cool for half an hour, before turning it over onto a cake stand, and drizzling (however you like) with the glaze.

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.

Date Custard Tart with a Pistachio Crust

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In spite of all the pre-planning in the world, my usual baking endeavours still entail some degree of dilly-dallying beforehand. Well, not this time. I was standing in the kitchen, and knew I wanted a tart. A good tart with a finely baked crisp crust, and some sort of fudgy, gooey middle. Something with depth and exuberance and sin all round.

Put simply: I’ve been sooo into dates recently. Nothing really beats a huge, gooey medjool date. Peel one open and you get an untidy split down the middle, unveiling a thin seed and bountiful, sweet, sticky flesh. Yum. So… Date, custard, pistachios? A combination you would perhaps find in a specialty baking store, and a combination I almost haphazardly threw together. A combination that works.

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Little Maddie was all too keen on having her nose pressed up against the side of the tart shell. I look at her differently now, especially after finishing Eating Animals by Foer. I personally hold many strong views on meat-eating now, but that’s a whole other story that deserves its own section or post.

The crust itself is made of just a few things, and is completely eggless– roasted pistachios, flour, butter, sugar and salt. Et Voila. All you really need is a food processor, otherwise you could really just buy ground pistachios and mix the rest in by hand. And the custard? Another story of ease.

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Dates smushed in the middle of a dense custard, offering perfect contrast to the hard exterior. The crust is buttery and flaky, holding little resistance to any give, thanks to the lack of eggs. What I like is that you can eat this tart alone hot or cold, or with ice cream/ cold whipped cream. I had a thin slice straight out the oven with a scoop of plain vanilla ice cream, which was absolute heaven. The next day, I tried it cold as I put the remains in the fridge, and that was equally sublime. The custard was more set, but if you prefer it a little more warm and watery, all you have to do is microwave it for a couple of minutes.

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Date Custard Tart with a Pistachio Crust (makes 2 9-inch round tarts, or one 9-inch round and one 4×11-inch rectangular, adapted from here)

 

Ingredients:

For the crust:

290g (around 10oz or 2 cups) roasted, de-shelled pistachios (salted/unsalted)

260g (2 cups) plain flour

225g (1 cup) white sugar

pinch salt (not needed if you’re using salted pistachios)

250g (2 sticks+13g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

 

For the filling:

9 medjool dates

300ml heavy cream

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, or 2 tsp vanilla extract

2 heaping tbsp greek yoghurt (can substitute with more heavy cream or sour cream)

4 egg yolks

3 tbsp sugar

 

Directions:

In a food processor, grind your pistachios until you get a coarse meal. Chuck in the flour, sugar and salt, and pulse until everything is well incorporated. Tip the mixture into a large bowl and whisk (or mix with a wooden spoon) everything, making sure the pistachio meal is evenly distributed in the dry mix. Add the softened butter, get your hands in and mix everything together. This shouldn’t take too long. The dough will be easy to break apart, yet dense and moist. Put the bowl containing the dough into the fridge for 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).

After 20 minutes, take the dough out and ready your tart tins. Greasing isn’t necessary because all the butter in the dough does just the job, but if your tart molds are old and not very trustworthy, then go ahead and give them a light greasing. Break your dough in half (or store half in the freezer if you’re just making one tart) and press into your tart mold, making sure to have a thick enough layer on the bottom and sides. Bake the tart for 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar for 5 minutes straight, or until visibly light, runny and fluffy. Whisk in the cream, yoghurt and vanilla. Once the tart crust is half-baked, remove from the oven and press in you (de-seeded) dates as shown in the picture above. The heat of the oven will soften them even more, making the insides even gooier, if such a word could exist. Pour the custard on your tart(s), then put back carefully in the oven and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Check the tart at 10 minutes– the top might have some soft brown, caramelised patches. The tart should still hold a little wobble when nudged at the side.

Remove from the oven and set on a heatproof mat or stand to let cool for a while before cutting. Eat hot with ice cream, or store in the fridge for a while, before tucking into it cold.