Singapore’s Top Chefs Share Their Favourite Recipes from Mum and Grandma
Chefs are often inspired towards their careers because of their memories of cooking with mum or grandma in the kitchen. So we’ve asked top chefs to share with us the recipes of their favourite dishes from mum and grandma — but with a twist.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Chef-owner Emmanuel Stroobant, Saint Pierre
This recipe was inspired by chef Stroobant’s grandma’s flourless Belgian chocolate cake, which would always make an appearance in their family gatherings. When he opened his first restaurant in Belgium, he asked her to share the recipe, but refused and opted to take the bus to deliver her freshly-baked cakes. When he left Belgium and moved overseas, that was when she finally relented. Now, her Belgian chocolate cake is available in Saint Pierre Market at Ngee Ann City.
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
9 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
500g unsweetened or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
230g unsweetened or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Lightly sweetened whipped cream
1. For cake: Preheat oven to 180 deg Celcius.
2. Butter a 26cm diameter spring-form pan. Line bottom of pan with round parchment; butter parchment.
3. Wrap three layers of heavy-duty foil around outside of pan, folding the foil at top of rim.
4. Combine 1 cup water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk sugar syrup into chocolate; cool slightly.
6. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan.
7. Bake cake until centre no longer moves when pan is gently shaken, about 50 mins. Remove from water bath; transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan.
8. For ganache: Bring whipping cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat.
9. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cake while still in pan.
10. Gently shake pan to distribute ganache evenly over top of cake.
11. Refrigerate cake in pan for about 2 hrs until ganache has set.
12. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release sides. Cut cake into wedges and serve with whipped cream.
Sardinian Culurgiones with Bottarga
Chef de Cuisine Luca Piras, Alba 1836
Chef Piras still remembers his childhood days, when his mum would wake up early in the morning to go to the market and prepare food for family. She would often try to accommodate everyone’s favourite dishes, event if it meant labouring in the kitchen for hours. One of the family’s favourites is the Sardinian ravioli called Culurgiones, which she made from scratch.
For the pasta
400g Semolina flour
200g 00 flour
For the filling
1kg potatoes (Kipfler)
30g garlic (6 cloves), minced
30 mint leaves, finely chopped
200g pecorino sardo, grated
20g sea salt
10g ground pepper
For the sauce
200g salted butter
25g Bottarga (alternative: freshly chopped tomatoes)
1. For pasta: Mix flour with semolina. Make a well, add water and salt, then combine ingredients to make a thick dough and knead with your palm.
2. When dough is elastic and smooth, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hr.
3. For filling: Cook unpeeled potatoes in hot, salted water until very tender. Once cooked, peel and mash, then leave aside to cool slightly.
4. Add pecorino, garlic cloves and mint leaves to potatoes. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
5. Using one quarter of pasta dough, slowly roll out pasta to 2mm thick and cut long strips, 15cm wide (use a pasta maker if you have one). Cut round discs, about 10cm in diameter.
6. For culurgiones: Using a teaspoon, place filling on pasta disc. Place disc between your thumb and index finger, and fold disc to create half-moon shapes. Fold and pinch one end, then take edge and fold in towards stuffing.
7. Continue to fold and pinch pasta to achieve a seal.
8. For sauce: Melt butter. When it starts to foam, add bottarga and turn down heat. Once cooked, add culurgiones which have been cooked for six minutes in boiling salted water. Coat with bottarga butter sauce. Serve warm.
Fileja Alla Calabrese
Chef Marco Guccio, Zafferano
When he was a child, his mum and grandma would often cook fresh pasta for him; and one of his favourites until now is the Fileja Alla Cabrese. Whenever he visits his home country of Italy, this is the dish his family prepares. It’s a collaborative effort that involves the whole family: His grandma prepares the dough, he shapes the pasta, mum cooks the sauce and grandpa does the quality control.
600ml room temperature water
8 leaves of fresh basil
3 cloves garlic
500g fresh tomato
200g tomato sauce
Extra virgin olive oil
100g grated parmesan cheese
1. For dough: On work surface, add water to flour and combine to form a dough. (Note: Add water if dough is too stiff)
2. Knead until smooth, cover dough with tea towel and set aside for 30mins.
3. After 30mins, knead dough again for a few minutes.
4. Pinch off a marble size of dough and make a short rope about 5 to 7cm long and about 3mm in diameter.
5. Wrap each ‘rope’ around a skewer or knitting needle to form the fileja.
6. Slide pasta from skewer and allow to rest for 30mins.
7. For sauce: Add extra virgin olive oil into pan along with sliced garlic until lightly brown.
8. Add fresh tomatoes with a pinch of salt and pepper and tear basil leaves into pan.
9. Add tomato sauce and allow to cook for a few minutes. If needed adjust with salt and pepper.
1. Bring pot of water to a boil, adding a pinch of salt for taste.
2. Add pasta and cook for 4 to 5mins.
3. Once ready, strain and add to sauce along with a handful of parmesan cheese. Stir until pasta has absorbed mixture.
4. Sauté pasta in pan, finishing with a touch of extra virgin olive oil, chopped fresh basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.