Money has been really tight of late (we’re talking single-digit unwithdrawable bank balances), so we’ve had to really watch our spending. Since we’ve always shied away from luxury experiences (restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, entertainment etc), and can’t cut down any further on the bare necessities (from toiletries to transport), the only area we’ve been trying to tighten our purse strings in is FOOD. (OMG, FOOD!)
Luckily for us, Singapore offers an array of cheap makan (eating) options, with coffee shops, hawker centres and food courts in abundance. But being the “Western food” lovers we are, there are days where you feel like you just can’t stomach another chicken rice or bakchor mee, and you realise you can’t deceive yourself anymore with a plate of sub-quality steak and call it good grub.
Those are the days you crave tastes and textures that are much more elevated (to borrow a MasterChef word), much more otherworldly. You yearn for food you can call scrumptious, lavish, delectable, exquisite, you know, all those words you don’t just want to see in a thesaurus, but rather, want to express upon biting down on yummy food.
We know. We’re there. So we try to recreate restaurant quality dishes (you can tell we’re fans of MasterChef) that wow and amaze ourselves. This week we made a bruschetta (pronounced brusketta, by the way) that left us so mind-blown, we literally felt a sadness wash over us when the last crumb was cleaned from the plate.
So for everyone out there who loves a good bruschetta but can’t afford $15 a plate in a fancy cafe, we hope this recipe will help you attain ambrosia at just $3.50 per person (not including kitchen staples). Buon appetito!
Our Bruschetta Recipe
- Walnut bread ($3.20 a loaf)
- Tomatoes ($0.70 for 3)
- Cream cheese ($3 worth used for this recipe)
- Bacon bits (optional)
- Herbs like thyme and basil
- Seasoning ingredients like salt and pepper
Bread: We love it with a good walnut loaf, you know, the kind with seeds and grains and nuts on the outside as well as on the inside. The nutty flavour really does come through, so yes, it’s worth getting a bread that’s not just plain old baguette. If you have a grill or grill pan, try grilling your bread slices. Unfortunately we don’t, so we opt for toasting them in a little oven toaster without the tray, just straight on the rack. Remember to turn the rack around and flip the slices to get evenly toasted toast.
Tomatoes: It’s best to buy fresh tomatoes from the store rather than get some out of the fridge. Apparently fresh non-refrigerated tomatoes are just more tomatoey. Don’t ask why! About three good-sized tomatoes work for the both of us – that makes about 12 slices of bruschetta. Of course, if you want to heap more on, go ahead! The sky’s your limit (or the size of your mouth)! First core the tomato (slice out a window down the middle and pop out the core), then chop them up into little pieces. Always remember, you don’t want to end up fighting with your food, so chop them so they’re easy to work with!
Garlic: Prepare about two cloves, peeled and chop off the head a little so its raring to go. Rub this on the bread after its freshly grilled or toasted, while its still warm. This is apparently not only the most authentic way of making bruschetta, but also the best way to infuse that aromatic garlicky goodness into the bread. Get another clove or two (this is all up to personal preference, some people shy away from garlic like traditional vampires – though, even for non-traditional ones, if Edward Cullen ate a lot of garlic, he probably wouldn’t have gotten the girl, I mean, halitosis just isn’t sexy the way being really white and sparkly is) and mince them up really fine.
Here’s the fun part. Toss the chopped up tomatoes with olive oil, the minced garlic, black pepper (I use both grounded Sarawak pepper and Jamie Oliver’s tellicherry black pepper), salt, some thyme (or other italian herbs you like), a little white pepper just because we like the flavour white pepper brings to a dish, I add just a dash of soy sauce but that’s optional, and maybe even some chili flakes (just a little, you don’t want this to become a spicy dish). I also add a little garlic bread spice blend if I have it, I think it just adds a little extra something something. But don’t worry, it totally works without it as well. Just something to note: Tomatoes are very “absorbable”, so you might have to add more seasoning than you expect. Just keep tasting your food (enough with the MasterChef references, I know).
Okay, toss it all together, and then let it sit for a while, say at least five minutes. The sitting part is where the infusion and absorption magic takes place, and you really want the tomatoes to soak in as much of that flavour as possible. Also, they release some juices while sitting, and this makes for really awesome stuff later – you’ll see (literally, like in the next paragraph). Don’t lick it all away!
Now it’s time to put it all together. Spread a thick layer of cream cheese (we use good old Philadelphia, but any works) on the toast, spoon some tomato bits on it, sprinkle some totally optional bacon bits (store bought or better still, freshly sizzled bacon bits mmmmm!), and top it all off with a splash of the yummy tomato juices left sitting in the bowl, and a pinch of basil right on top.
And there you go! Tuck into the most heavenly, most divine bruschetta we’ve ever had (and we’ve tried a lot)!