I sometimes truly think that in this scientific age of ours, we analyse too much. I am guilty as charged. We whine at the calories counter, fearing that we will get fat and become unattractive. I have seen health freaks grimace at the sight of oil and salt, preferring instead to partake in bland and parched food.Also spotted were parents who would deprive their toddlers of the tiniest grain of sugar, for reasons that I am still unclear about.
Just a couple of days ago, the headline of an article in the papers caught my eye... Bad Breakfast Breed Dumb Kids. It went on to recount how we Singaporeans or for that matter, Asians in general would eat and feed their children all kinds of food for breakfast. 5 kinds of food were identified as being especially bad for a child's breakfast :
1. Left over food from the previous night - because aged food will produce sodium nitrate which can be carcinogenic.
2. Fried dough with soya milk. (a popular breakfast choice for most Chinese in China and Taiwan) - because it is too oily.
3. Biscuits and snacks - because these are too dry.
4. Continental breakfast like sausage or bacon - because they tend to be too oily and contain little nutrient.
5. Eating on the go, in a hurry - the poor child will not be able to digest his food properly.
I rolled my eyes and wondered if the whole Asian community has bred hoards of dumb people because of the type breakfast we typically eat.
I have never liked eating cereals and bread for breakfast because they are too bland and unflavourful for me. My favourite breakfast includes Wonton Noodle, Nasi Lemak (coconut rice) , Fried Carrot Cake and congee with fried dough... In Asia, breakfast is always colourful and can get very diverse. My colleagues in America have learnt to look forward to mouth watering hotel breakfast buffet spread when they travel to Asia. They marvel at how our buffet breakfast could double up as a very good lunch spread...An average 4-5 star hotel in Asia will normally, in addition to the boring continental spread, offer fried noodles, fried rice, congee, miso soup with rice and some meat or fish dishes.
By contrast, whenever we Asians, travel to the US / Europe, we feel gravely deprived at breakfast. What we normally get are bread, pastries (muffins, danish) and cereal. One would be lucky if the hotel has a hot food station where you can get your eggs and bacon/ham.
It is very rare that I would enjoy a Western/Intercontinental style breakfast when I travel. I eat it because I need to. The only exception so far, is possibly Sydney where I found it thrilling to sit on the bench outside Bourke Street Bakery with my cup of coffee and a tart or sausage roll.
Equally satisfying was sitting at the communal table in Bills, celebrated Australian chef, Bill Granger's hip neighbourbood restaurant, savouring his famous breakfast menu which includes the popular corn fritters with bacon, the to-die-for (according to my distributor) ricotta hotcakes and what I see alot, the simple scrambled eggs on sourdough toast.
Will these breed smarter kids? I have no idea and am not interested to find out. The photos in Bill Granger's Bills Sydney Food look so tentalising and accessible that I feel compelled to give some of them a go.
I chose to try out these Crumpets with Blueberry Butter (Blackberry Butter in the cookbook) because I was suitably curious about what Bill Granger meant by :
"The difference between store-bought and home-made crumpets has to be experienced at least once. "
In addition, I had also wanted to try a berry butter...
For those who are wondering, the crumpet is really a sweet or savoury bread snack made with flour and yeast. The texture, unlike fluffy pancakes, is half spongy and half chewy. Characterised by the numerous pore structure throughout the little bread, this is best eaten while it is hot, with a generous slather of butter.
This is the first time I have tried a fruit flavoured butter and I must say, eaten together with the slightly salty crumpet, the combination was quite delightful. Serve this on pretty bone china with English tea and you would have a lovely breakfast fit for a Queen... but I doubt that children's food police would approve.... and if you would, pray share - what is your favourite breakfast item?
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp sugar
7g sachet dried yeast
375g plan flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat until just warm. Remove from heat. Add yeast and sugar and allow to sit for 10mins until milk starts to froth.
2. Sift flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the middle.Gradually add the milk to the flour and beat with electric beaters until completely smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at a warm place for 2 hours, until double in volume and full of air bubbles.
3. Mix the baking soda with 200ml of water and using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine water with dough.
4. In a griddle pan oiled with melted butter, place a lightly oiled metal ring/s . Scoop 3 tbsp of batter into metal ring and cook over very low heat until big bubbles appear on the surface and a skin is formed.
5. Dislodge ring carefully and turn over to cook the other side.
6. Serve the crumpets fresh or toasted, spread with lashings of blueberry butter.
1 cup blueberries
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup(115g) butter
1. Place berries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over high heat and heat until boiling.
2. Lower heat and simmer for 5 mins or until syrupy. Cool down completely.
3. Place butter in a bowl and whip with a wooden spoon until light. Fold in berries to create ripple effect. Spoon butter into a ramekin and refrigerate.