Saturday, March 11, 2006

Bread & Butter

Ah, simple joys. While I love my foie gras, oysters and unctuous roasts and stews, often times it is the really simple food that arouses a gratified and sated sigh.

I’ve noticed that the weather in Singapore prohibits the leaving out of bread. Any bread left out at room temperature quickly develops a fuzzy layer of greenish-blue mould in just two days. I swear one particularly garrulous mould once tried to converse with me. Perhaps being half pissed and breathing in the fumes from the mould is a bad idea. Anyway ... placing bread in the fridge is the only safe option. It’s probably a good thing that the fridge is so small, it inhibits the amount of bread I buy. Otherwise, given the choice, I would be consuming bread by the truckloads.

Remember how as a child, you were constantly threatened with being sent to bed with just bread and butter instead of a proper supper? No? Oh … OK … well, I was.

I always thought that was a strange threat as I simply adore bread and butter. I could literally eat just bread … and butter. And nothing else. OK, maybe a glass of cold milk but that’s it. A nice thick slice of fluffy, toasted whole wheat bread with thick slathers of creamy, slightly salty butter. Heaven!

The glorious fragrance emanating from the bread as it is being toasted. The wonderful crisp crunch of the toasted crust. The slight yeasty sweetness that perks up the taste buds in preparation for the cold but swiftly melting, velvety creaminess of the butter.

Somewhere between the residual heat and carbonisation of the toast, the buttery flow oozing into the pinhole crevices and the compression of these two elements, a magical metamorphosis occurs. Two seemingly simple ingredients suddenly amalgamate into a fabulous treat that literally gives me the warm fuzzies.

It took my mother a while to register my beaming face as I meekly received my punishment. But once she did, she began to ration my intake. This was before I learnt how to use the skillet to toast my bread and hack giant chunks of butter with the butter knife. I was four years old, I think. I know this because my uncle took an incriminating photo of me at that age with a massacred bar of butter and my face and hands coated with the slippery stuff while I sported a “Waaaassup? And this is not what it looks like” expression of complete innocence.

I was making a simple dinner of pasta today when the smell of the frying sausages created such a sudden, cavernous hunger that I had to stop for a wee snack. A thickly buttered (with my favourite butter in Singapore - Kerrygold) toast was my favoured solution to stave off the hunger pangs. Unfortunately, I liked it so much, I had another. And another. By the time I finished the third slice, I was too full for dinner. Which worked out well as that gave me time to take leisurely photos for the blog!

Simple Sausages & Sage Pasta
1 ½ cup of tri-coloured vegeroni pasta spirals
you can use fusilli or penne or bow-ties as well; I just liked the colour and the durum wheat used in mine

3 mixed sausages, chopped into huge, rustic chunks
½ onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup leftover stir-fried vegetables
- I had some from the previous night which was made up of broccoli, sweet young corn, julienned carrots, julienned ginger, chopped garlic, sugar snap peas, soy sauce & orange zest
½ cup diced carrots
1 tbsp leeks, sliced
- I had these left over
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbsp dried sage leaves
- I had dried my own but you can use the bottled ones too
½ tsp dried Italian herbs
2 tbsp of sour cream
½ crumbled chicken stock cube
Duck fat
- again, a leftover from my Eight Treasure Duck

Ground black pepper

1. Bring a pot of water with some salt to boil and cook your pasta in it. Mine required about 8 minutes’ cooking time so I had enough time to prepare the sauce.

2. Heat about 1 tsp of the duck fat in your pan and add the garlic and onions to sauté till fragrant and just starting to soften

3. Add the sausages and sauté briskly till just cooked and starting to caramelise

4. Add the diced carrots and leeks and sauté for about 1 minute

5. Add the leftover vegetables and tomatoes and stir well, cooking till the tomatoes soften and start to melt into the sauce

6. Add the sour cream, chicken stock cube and sprinkle Italian herbs and shred the sage into the sauce

7. Add a knob of butter to thicken the sauce and give it more depth. Season to taste. Add more sour cream if you think the sauce is too dry.

8. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with some of its cooking liquid. Check to see if you need to adjust the seasoning. Shred some sage leaves and sprinkle on top and give it a quick stir again to mix.

9. Serve hot with grated Parmesan

I was too full to eat my pasta but the small bowl I tasted was wonderfully flavoursome and hearty. Too hearty. I had to pack it away for a late supper. My mother was right. Eating before dinner will ruin my appetite. I wonder if she would have punished me by consigning me to a bread and butter dinner?

I give my bread & butter snack a 10/10 for pure indulgent satisfaction and a 6/10 for health – you did not see how much butter I slathered on it! My pasta was a much healthier option despite the sour cream, butter and duck fat as I was fairly restrained with these. The duck fat with its 5-spiced aroma washed the pasta with its wonderful fragrance and rich flavour. The sausages were deliciously meaty and the slight citrus undercurrent imparted by the leftover vegetables was an odd yet pleasant surprise.

I rather enjoyed my pasta but wished I had not gorged myself on bread and butter. I can only hope that it will hold up upon reheating. So, I give my simple pasta 8/10 on the taste scale and a 7.75/10 for health.

Categories - Meat Me For Dinner, Call Me Others


Blogger ejm said...

But really, sometimes bread and butter is the most wonderful thing!

I know what you mean about bread going moldy quickly when the weather is humid and warm (which I'm assuming it is in Singapore). One thing we've noticed though is that since we've been baking our bread, we have less trouble with it going moldy - and not because we're eating it too quickly! (heehee)

It seems strange when one considers the preservatives that go into commercially made bread. We think that our bread's mold resistance may be partially due to the long slow rising of the dough.

Incidentally, for some reason, storing bread in the fridge causes it to go stale faster. Do you have a freezer? If so, store your bread there.


P.S. That sausage and sage pasta looks delicious!

10:44 pm  
Blogger ejm said...

oops... I just read about your "hour or less" rule for food preparation... This could be a bit of a problem with bread making. Not that it takes that long to do the actual work for bread making. And you could set it to rise in the fridge so that you don't have to worry about bizarre science experiments on your counter.


10:47 pm  
Blogger Passionate Eater said...

I love your artistic arrangement of the photos! And WOW! You dried your own sage leaves? You sound like the Singaporean version of Martha Stewart!

9:04 am  
Blogger Marianne said...

When I was small and went through a picky phase, my dad would always make me bread and butter before bed because he was worried I wasn't eating enough! Lovely pictures.

12:43 pm  
Blogger MM said...

I think it will be a while before I attempt bread here. Oh well ... but yeah, my fridge is uber cold so everything gets frozen.

And nah, I'm that rigid about the 1 hour rule. Many of my recipes take longer than 1 hour.

Hey Passionate Eater, thanks for the compliment! And welcome!

Mrs C - Thanks so much!

11:55 pm  

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