Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Guinness lamb shanks

Our weekend evenings had been somewhat ordinary. The Hongkongboy is studying for his finance paper and I’ve got really busy with the day job. Our weekend dinners resonates on convenience and ease; thriving on really low maintenance-ish forgettable dinners.

I left the restaurant later than usual. Before leaving, I rang up the Hongkongboy hoping he had made dinner and kept some for me. He told me to grab something home to share.

As inevitable as gravity to cook. The hungry aimless drive home took me to the supermarket (so glad it’s 24 hours) to find something quick and easy to put together for supper. Once in the vicinity of colourful vegetables, I thought about grand meals, I ditch the frozen meal section and piled up my basket with carrots, celery, tomatoes and hauled some fat lamb shanks as well. And of course the Hongkongboy s favourite ice-cream.
The Hongkongboy sprung up from the sofa to help me with the loot as I walked in. He asked if I’ve bought any food home? Steeping into the anger zone, I consoled myself thinking that maybe he needed a break from the books. But at the back of my head, I felt disappointment brewing up - why didn’t he made dinner. He was home early and I am sure he fed himself. Spitefully, I told him "I did bring food home. But it’s for tomorrow.”. I fish out the tub of ice-cream from the shopping bags hastily handed over to him expecting him to noticed my blackened face. He gleely retreated back into the sofa with a big spoon. I retreated back into the kitchen just to keep my mouth shut.
Making stew at such hour cleared my mind somehow. You feel a little bit better knowing there’s a lovely meal the next day. It’s not hard job that calls for precise measurements or cutting. The carrots and celery comprises of a few rough stress relieving hacks plus the few minutes of browning the shanks. Onions are left whole and garlic in bulbs. Topple everything into a slow cooker, pour in the stout and after many hours, the meal comes together by itself. A happy return in the morning.

Just before bed, I told him about our little fête for Sunday night. His face beamed into a wide smile and I knew that’s all it requires. I could have fight him and still live happily with frozen dinners or convenience takeaways the next day. Those meals will be easily forgotten. He wouldn’t eagerly ask me for recipes to share with his family and friends. And most importantly we wouldn’t have these precious few hours sipping wine over a good meal connecting with each other. Many times in a relationship, we forget to compromise along the way. It’s the return to norm that matters most. A ritual that is delicious–both complex and comforting.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Old Fashion Fruit Salad


You must have wondered. Yes, I am still around. Still cooking, Still crazily snapping food photos. Still talking about food and eating (which my waistline didn’t approve). There was some travelling in between. Work got into an mentally-draining state leaving me on a constant battery-low mode. I’ve got a formidable stack of new cookbooks piling up from Amazon (got to make good use of the free shipping) but no more can I read another word. I prefer looking at food pictures on the bed and soon became drawn into a picturesque world of Instagram. Until, most nights, my eyes gave way into the darken iPhone screen. At least I’m glad that I’ve made many new friends along the way.  
Weekends were left for recuperating the week’s toil (the downside of being thirty-five), allowing my brain to go blank just like the blog page or anything else that requires some processing. You’ll ask me what I did? Little trivial things - letting my mind wonder off with hours dozing off on the sofa until it’s time to make dinner. Some afternoon are spent fixating on television. I am sure all of you had been there, it some kind of a self-impose cocoon - the utter euphoric sense of contentment these simple indulgences bring upon to you. It’s okay to treat yourself with doing nothing. 

Yup, I did fell into the Korean drama trap along the way. 

Today, finally, I’ve made up my mind to come out of my hermit cave and do some serious writing.  Tomorrow, I’ll attack the two thousand photos on the SD card which I kept procrastinating to sort out. One thing at a time. I promise another “Hello” soon.
Old School Shrimp Fruit Salad

This salad recipe had been with my family for decades. It's embarrassingly effect less and always a star dish to bring along to any barbecue or potluck. Kids love it too! In summer, with fruits in abundance, it’s up to you to use any combination. You can also swap shrimps with lobster if you are feeling more luxurious.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Today I turn 35.

And today I cross over the mid-life point. They say thirty-five is the start of middle age. It's a strange period. Too young to start talking nagging like your mom. Too old to pull a when-you-are-young-and-reckless late night or do something frivolous. Trust me, you'll regret badly the next day. Hangover make you look worst than leopard tights. Nothing planned are good plans - my kind of ideal nights tend to be on the sofa in front of the television. I run and still feel fat. My Facebook friends are all about the baby pictures. Family tends to come first now. You'll I'll take a day off to bake a cake for yourself.
As much as I’ve crave this extraordinary adventure in life. There are undoubtedly times in one’s life that call for a hunk piece of chocolate cake. Whether you are happy, sad, depressed or stressed. This chocolate cake is exactly what you need. Especially more so for birthdays. Today, I just want my chocolate birthday cake with a candle.

Now that I am thirty-five, being thirty-five didn't matter anymore. I am thankful I woke up to another day with the person I one. I've arrived on this day with many lessons learned and ready to fill my future me with many more years of laughters, tears, optimism and contemptment . Life will only gets better. It does with time.

Happy Birthday to me.

This recipe is foolproof, mix and pour type batter. For this cake to taste extra luxurious, use the best quality chocolate you can find. I use Valrhona with 70% cocoa.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Kueh lapis legit - Spekkoek

Our family have a secret. Every Chinese New Year, we have tons of baking to filled up every non-working hours. Our kitchen turned into underground production house. During these few weeks prior to the big lunar day one, Nobody is allowed to cook because bags of flour and sugar took up every available counter space. The refrigerator is filled with dozens of eggs and butter. There's no space for other food. No one is allowed to eat at the dining table too! We use the table for packaging the cookies into their container. Naming and tagging them for delivery.

Oh yeah! It's all hard work. Rolling, cutting, egg washing every single cookie. We lose sleep over them. We got fat with them (Let's talk about QC, we taste every batch!). We baked churning trays after trays, hundreds and thousands of new year goodies. Last year, we had a successful our Charity Bake Sale raising a hefty sum for Club Rainbow - committed to help children suffering for chronic and life threatening illnesses. This year, although there's no cookies sale (Thank you peeps for sending me enquiries this year), to put things into action, I've signed up to be a volunteer with Club Rainbow. I am sure you all will agree. Nothing is more fullfilling than seeing a smile on an ill child's face. I like to be part of that.

Back to the Kueh Lapis. My grand aunt used to hold to realm to this particular recipe. Year after year, she will bake this laborious cake for everyone. Her kueh lapis is highly praised by everyone. Soon, she had a stream of fans that will knock on her door to buy this cake (Along with her addictive almond cookies, recipe here). After offering to help her with the baking a few years ago, she handed me a piece of hand-written recipe (that's exactly what I was after). Sadly, the recipe don't tell much details but luckily I've remembered every unwritten part of it. So, here you go, enjoy the recipe and happy baking! I promise you. This recipe is very good.

This fascinating Kueh lapis is not difficult to make, but you do need lots of patience. Be prepared to hover next to the oven for a couple of hours grilling each layer of batter. The cake is served in very small, thin slices as it is so rich and fragrant.

Since you are here, also check out the buttery pineapple tart recipe, almond cookies, Danish cookies for Chinese New Year.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Green bean omelette

The holiday season is always magical in many ways - a time to take a little break from the year to share meals, conversations and laughters with people you love most. Looking back upon the year, the uncountable meals shared together made us closer and very much stronger. To celebrate the last few days of 2013. We went home. Hong Kong, in a way, was going home for both of us, more for Michael because he was from there. Less for me because I lived there once.
We didn't dine at fancy restaurants or spent romantic candle twinkling evenings over wine. Instead our holiday drifted down memory lane. We took slow trams watching the city goes by. We dined at old-style Hong Kong cafés. He told me that I must make up my mind quick when we ordered or the servers will give me a crude scolding for being slow to order. I know, I know… don't hurry me! I whispered. If only I can read Chinese as fast as him, I wouldn't miss out on so many good local food when I live here! You see, I don't patronize these local gems, not that me and my expat friends are snobbish but because we had issues with Chinese characters. I still can't read them fast enough.
We walked up the narrow roads, visited his high school (He pointed out the principle office where he visited so often)and roamed his university where he said is the best time of his life. The days were spent strolling through the neighborhood he once grew up in, telling me his stories of favorite hang out joints after school and the pranks the boys played on other classmates. I told him he's a big bully. Over the afternoon, we sat at the café in the university campus and over a slow cup of coffee, He revealed cheekily how he would pick girls up at the library on the next building. Oh, I must say, his open liner was lame. I had laugh hardly imagining how the girl would roll her eyes at this annoying boy.

The places that we went were familiar to me. I always said I might have already met him 10 years ago along one of these streets or perhaps we had bumped into each other cramping together to share a table for a quick meal. I hoped he was one those those I've elbowed with my umbrella on a rainy day. After all, his playground was one long winding round away from Soho. If our path did cross, I know definitely I would snare at this irritating and smelly boy with his stinky friends.

When we came back to Singapore. I cooked him a simple omelette. Green bean omelette is an old favorite of mine. Spilling my side of childhood stories and the numerous time having this omelette over porridge after school. This omelette is home to me.

With the new year, I look forth to many more getaways. I always feel so incredibly lucky to have so many trips together. The trips and meals we shared made us very much stronger. And now, home is wherever we are together.

Green bean omelette is best to go with meatball porridge.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Meatball porridge

Happy 2014! I hope you get to spend the holidays around a table full of good food, lots of champagne and most importantly with people you adore. I had a week full of good things - celebrations, traveling and gatherings with plenty of food. Everyday was a jolly bellies and I am still recovering from all the holiday indulgence (and festive toasts). It's day 3 of the new year now and I am still heavy and reluctant to get back the usual routine. I am sure many of you, are too.

One of my goals for this new week of the year is to eat as light as possible to lose some of the belly space before the Chinese New Year season. It's another two week long of feasting for all Chinese where we unite from where ever we are to have a meal together. And for the first meal of 2014, what more do you crave than comfort food, especially after almost a month-ful of big merry meals. What's your to-go-to comfort food?

Meatball porridge is a nostalgic favorite of mine. A dish that I've grown up with. Memories of the many many uncountable bowls of meatball porridge as a kid and in college where I had made huge pots to last for many winter meals. A cup of rice goes a long way. It's warming, filling and feels like home.

Meatball porridge is part soup and part meal somewhat filling enough to fuel your day. It is deliciously warming and comforting. Especially so if you are still suffering from the festive hangover. Your tummies will be grateful.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Mint chocolate chip ice cream

Christmas is here in just a few days and there's nothing that beats the magic of this holiday. The key to this jolly season is all about indulgence. If you're anything like me, I am indulging more than I should. We can worry about the extra pound later. It goes on the New Year's resolution list every year anyway. Doesn't it always? And we have another 12 months ahead to resolve that extra pound issue.

As we rush off to bake the last batch of cookies and endless hours of prepping in the kitchen. Prepping for the big meal can be sometimes overwhelming but for now, what matters most are the priceless laughters and joy of sharing meals over the dinner table. My table is a happy place and I like it that way.
Words will be few here. Just stopping by to write you this mint chocolate chip ice cream for the dinner dessert before hitting back into the kitchen again. And also to wish you all a wonderful Merry Christmas! See you all again next year.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sticky maple gingerbread cake

I think you are going to love this cake. Sticky maple gingerbread cake is like the king of winter cakes. Goodnessly sticky, dark, moist and deliciously spicy. Humm…there is something just so comforting about it. 

Actually, I did not intend to do any baking this Christmas but since I am running around the kitchen past midnight making slumber tea. And since I've already started on Gingersnap cookies last week, it counts as already having one foot in the Christmas baking bonanza. I thought, what the heck, I might as well use up the molasses and spices. Frankly speaking, my spices are from last Christmas and I am not sure if they can hold up for another year.

I turn to oven dial to preheat.
It's kind of nice to bake at midnight, sliding around the kitchen floor with fluffy slippers. The quiet charm of midnight baking is rather relaxing with no rush in the world. When you pull out cake or cookie pan from the oven, there's this overwhelming sense of accomplishment almost like a runner's 'high' after a 5 mile run so to speak. Is there 'baking endorphin fix'? This feeling can be addictive. 

The scent of gingery spices bringing warmth. To me, it smells of Christmas and with that lingering in my hair and pyjamas when I go to bed, I feel like I might even meet Santa.
This sticky maple gingerbread cake is so easy. Easy as there's no mixing bowl to wash up. Basically, it's just melt, mix and bake; except for the icing bit. Well, that can wait until the morning I suppose.


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