The Desperate Gourmet Presents “Toad in a Hole”

From Singapore on Foot

Let’s face it- breakfast, touted as the most important meal of the day, can be pretty boring. If you’ve had enough Meuslix and yogurt for a while and have a little time on your hands try this. Toad in a Hole, Egg in a Hole, Egg in a basket… Well you get the idea. Perfect weekend treat. Nice visual.  If you are all alone you’ll find this little exercise fun and fulfilling. If cooking for others, they’ll think you slaved away for hours, will shower you with praise and gratitude; once again leaving you- yes, fulfilled. I was only cooking for myself in Singapore but the little voices inside my head were ecstatic.

Now go fIx your “Me Time” beverage of choice. Put (original) Top Gear or Dr. Who on the TV to set the mood- or just play your favorite music. You work too hard during the week, anyway. Carve out that little piece of solitude you so rightly deserve and enjoy a little personal zen. Bonus points if you thumb your nose at convention and wear slippers and a bathrobe.

My twist on this classic is the use of thin and dense sunflower or flax seed bread.  For reasons not clear to me, even in my middle aged “maturity”, I have an aversion to ordinary bread (I blame the submarine sandwich shop I worked at and the big, fluffy bread we used 35 years ago). I don’t think of myself as a bread snob, it is just that any kind of flat bread, tortillas and biscuits just pique my interest more. To each their own.

  • Flax seed, sunflower seed or other hearty bread
  • Egg

Using a sharp knife, or a tablespoon in a pinch, cut a large whole out of the center of the bread slice. Lightly lubricate a small, heated skillet with cooking oil or unsalted creamery butter. Toast both sides of your bread. Crack open an egg into a small dish or tea cup, remove shell fragments if you are clumsy like me, and carefully pour egg into the toast hole. Rather than try to flip the toast, try to cover the pan briefly at the end to set/solidify the egg. Depending on what you have to work with. I have used a spare pan, hot tea kettle bottom, even an actual lid…


Shown below with potato pancakes

  • Boiled, chopped and cold small potatoes and carrots (leftovers from fridge)
  • Sliced and seeded local chile peppers (wash those hands and keep away from your eyes! Don’t ask…)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • White or black ground pepper
  • Safflower oil
  • Chopped scallion, chive, green onion, sprouts or cilantro
  • Rhubarb flavored yogurt (or sour cream)

Using a fork, mash cold potatoes in a bowl with a teaspoon of oil, two or three teaspoons of yogurt and balance of ingredients. Preheat a pan with cooking oil or unsalted creamery butter. Form small balls of potato mixture in your palm and add to pan. Arrange with enough space between so that you can now flatten with a spatula or wooden spoon. Flatten, brown to suit on both sides and garnish with coarse salt, a dollop of yogurt (or sour cream) and minced greens.

Pictured below is all of the above, along with pan-withered Chinese broccoli and a hot cup of Milo. Enjoy!


The Desperate Gourmet presents: A Simple Healthy Soup

From Singapore on footimg_5977

A simple healthy soup: 

Adjust the quantity of ingredients to suit your taste and whatever you have available. Having made this several times, each time with a slightly different (but tasty) result- my best advice for LARGE quantities would be to prepare and keep noodles or rice separately and add to heated broth before serving. Once I made a large pot of this soup with rice and stored in the fridge. After a few days my creation resembled porridge (or patching plaster). 

 Try adding thinly sliced ginger or seeded and sliced chile pepper if you get bored. 

  • Enoki mushrooms
  • Chinese broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Packaged chicken broth (or prepared from boullion)

Thinly slice and Carmelize garlic in oil. Add water and bring to a boil again.
Add cabbage and broccoli leaves plus thin wafers of stalk. Add remainder of veg.
When boiling, turn down to simmer. Add previously cooked spiral whole wheat pasta or rice.

The Desperate Gourmet presents: Tomato-Sprout Salad

From Singapore on Foot

Simple recipe from my solo extended stay in Singapore, where I was fortunate enough to live in a furnished apartment over a Japanese grocery store. Magical time of solitude, reflection, long daily walks, light fare and ninety percent humidity. Singapore is an amazing destination. A true cultural melting pot; an overused phrase that actually means something there. In two months I only purchased one meal (a tasty pork bun from a street vender). Everything else I crafted in my little kitchen, with the goal of eating healthy, losing weight and flexing my creativity. 

The availability of reasonably prices ingredients, steep hills and oppressive heat allowed me to lose a ton of weight in short order. The positive energy, the people, the architecture, all that shopping and history make Singapore one of my favorite destinations. Though my employer was apologetic for “stranding” me over there, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. Enjoy. 

Tomato-sprout salad:

  • Thinly slice cherry tomatoes and fan around small salad dish. 
  • Immediately before serving, toss clover sprouts (or radish sprouts) in bowl with sweet rice vinegar, pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. 
  • Arrange sprouts atop dish and serve. 
  • Chopsticks, of course!

Remember- Presentation is everything! At risk being seen as an overly emo/spiritual nut bag, I believe that the time you spend making food “pretty” is actually spent celebrating the food,  appreciating what you have and being in the moment.