Read. Do. Make. Eat. 25.9.2015

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Read.

The new Mindy Kaling book, Why Not Me? This book has been responsible for all the scream-laughs coming from my bedroom this past week.

Do.

Go Christmas/whatever shopping at Public Garden! This month it is weirdly enough in the Suntec Convention Centre but maybe that’s good because #haze.

Make.

Some blueberry inspired things, like that crumble pictured above or these Clinton St. Baking Co’s blueberry pancakes.

Eat.

Speaking of, there’s a Clinton St. Baking Company in Singapore now. It’s apparently expensive and very hip.

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The Bakehouse

What: A newly-opened whimsical cafe housed, somewhat unceremoniously, at the base of the Park Hotel and next to Ikea.

Pros: The staff are fantastic, the decor is charming and for the most part I really liked my food (coffee, ham and cheese croissant and the choc tart get full marks).

Cons: It’s small so it may be tough to get a seat and I didn’t really like their lemon tart – it was all curd and too light to pack a punch.

Verdict: Oh I loved it! I want to go back and eat ALL THE THINGS.

Details:
The Bakehouse by Carpenter and Cook

321 Alexandra Road #01-14
Singapore 159971
6250 0040

On friends and cheese

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I’ve been meaning to share these wonderful pictures of my birthday spread taken by flatmate and friend, Melissa.

But life got in the way and then procrastination got in the way and then my mood got in the way and yet these pretty pictures remained in my mind and in my blog storage.

The desire to host a wine and cheese night for my birthday came from Pinterest. Specifically here and here. I found that I ultimately had too much cheese (problem) and too much wine (not a problem) but it was a success. A tiring one.

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I’m going to, I think, pare down my entertaining to smaller groups and maybe even the number of people I hang out with, at any given point.

Which is going to be tough because, well… I have always been the kind of person who has multiple groups of friends. You can call it being a social butterfly, but I think I evolved into this creature as a result of social survival. Moving around and meant having to say goodbye and hello and having to fit in. Whenever I settle in a place I start making friends like it’s my job and I don’t ever really stop.

I think it might be my form of insurance, like well, if my group of Masters desi friends decide to move on to greener pastures at least I’ll have my group of permanent NRI desis to hang out with or my newly scavenged Singaporean friends (FYI you guys need to learn how to make friends with randoms better).

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But I’ve been wondering, is having more friends better than having a few? Even if it means keenly feeling their loss when and if they do leave? Making time for all these people I admire and enjoy spending time with is great but it takes away from “me” time and just general processing time. As much as I consider myself to be an extrovert, social burnout might be a possible problem.

And then there’s the other harder reality to face – I feel close to most of my friends and yet can they fill the void that a family/significant other are supposed to fill? According to social convention anyway.

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I shall ponder this and excessive cheese this weekend. Have a good one folks!

Old-fashioned banana bread

 
Recently I’ve been thinking about the food I make, for myself and others. 

When it comes to my everyday food, it’s all imported spinach and beets and peppers and lemons. When I go to parties I make these blondies with, again, imported chocolate chips and people love them.

Then when I’m at work or even at home with my family in Malaysia- no one can relate to the food I cook. I come across as the brat who eats weird, expensive shit. And my baking – well let’s just say they find it heavy and not suited to their palate.

So I started thinking – maybe I’m the one who’s out of touch and maybe I could try cooking with some ingredients that can be sourced locally. I might even save some money.

Banana cake is made everywhere but the recipes on the internet all called for butter. I started to think – for the Asian palate and for this Asian weather. Vegetable oil might be the better decision.

Guess what? It was amazing and exactly like what I remember eating as a kid. Except better. The batter comes together in 10 minutes and the baking time is 45-55 minutes. Definitely make it with those extra mouldy bananas you’ve got lying around :p

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup castor/ fine granulated white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk
4 medium sized bananas, mashed

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.

Butter a loaf pan, then line it with parchment/ wax paper, butter it again.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together. This is my lazy version of sifting.

In a separate bowl, cream the oil and sugar. Add the eggs and beat together. Add the milk and vanilla and stir -then finally add the mashed bananas.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture (honestly – there’s no better way to say this) and mix till well combined.

Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-55 minutes or till a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the batter/tin. 

Your Asians relatives/ colleagues are gon be allllll over this.

Bottura

From the bottom to teh top :P: Polenta lasagne (SGD18), Arancini with ragù and tomato sauce (SGD8) and Egg and squid ink tagliolini with shrimp and zucchini (SGD18)
From the bottom to the top :P: Polenta lasagne (SGD18), Arancini with ragù and tomato sauce (SGD8) and Egg and squid ink tagliolini with shrimp and zucchini (SGD18)

What: A casual Italian restaurant located in a very quiet part of Suntec.

Pros: The food is good, fresh and reasonable. I enjoyed my polenta lasagne and Yuka thoroughly enjoyed her tagliolini (the squid ink abomination, above). Also, the wait staff are polite, knowledgeable and helpful.

Cons: It’s like on a second floor in Suntec – where NOTHING is open. Ambience is negligible and lighting is fluorescent mall lighting. #justsayin

Verdict: I’m itching to go back and try their degustation menu (Six pastas and a glass of wine for SGD26 – what?!), their desserts and their gelato so clearly, I say go.

Details:
Bottura
Suntec City Mall Tower 1
#02-472/473/474
3 Temasek Boulevard 038983
6238 7527

*Forgive the messy plate.

Cooking with… PZ – Saatenbrot

I have been sitting on these brunch with PZ pictures for what… months now? And I don’t know why, I think part of it might have to do with what can you say when you have a friend who comes to your house with a freshly baked loaf of super seedy bread and then helps you prepare brunch except #blessed?

But more seriously, I take my brunch very seriously.

Just this past weekend as I was stumbling out the door on Saturday morning for a waffles and ice-cream brunch, Mel, my apartment mate was all:

Mel: Do you brunch every weekend?
Me: *pause* Yes?
Mel: That’s cool.
Me: *in my head* That’s expensive.

Which is why, when the Singapore Martha Stewart (I need a shortform of this nickname) volunteered to bake bread to anchor Sunday brunch at my place, I + my flatmates + one (one of their boyfriends, that is) were enthusiastic about a) being cheap and b) eating some high quality stuff.

Here is PZ actually arranging the smoked salmon in a pleasing way, so as to enhance the taste.

We, the barbarians that we are, were happy to eat it off the foil it came on. But you know, this was cool too.

PZ aims to not buy bread in the shops anymore and instead wants to shift to only consuming the bread that she makes. I’m not sure why she wants to do this. Could it be because the bread we buy from the shops is full of weird additives that are giving us cancer? Possibly. Could it be because the bread she bakes is ludicrously tasty? More probably.

I prepared a creme fraiche lemon dill dip which you see here and eggs en cocotte. And of course we had lots of coffee and fresh blueberries. These pictures solely exist to torment you.

And remind me of a lazy Sunday that I want to get back to.

Oh! PZ kindly shared the recipe for the bread that she made (adapted from here):

Makes 1 loaf

Soaker
48g whole wheat flour
28g dark rye flour
100g water
1g of salt
64g flaxseed

Starter
7g rye mother starter (100% hydration)
71g dark rye flour
71g water

Final
43g dark rye flour
48g bread flour
62g water
2g instant yeast
4g salt
64g toasted sesame seeds
1 egg white (for the egg wash)
14g of mixed sesame seeds and flaxseeds, for the topping

Prep the soaker and starter a day before you bake the bread.

Day 1
In the morning, stir the soaker ingredients, cover and let it sit at room temperature till evening. Repeat with the starter ingredients in a separate bowl.

In the evening, mix the soaker and starter together with the final dough’s ingredients.

Knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Knead more vigorously for 4 minutes, and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Knead 1 more minute, and the dough should be somewhat sticky.

Place it in an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and keep it in the fridge overnight.

Day 2
Take out the dough and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

Stretch and fold the dough to shape it, and place the dough seam-side down.

Brush the exterior with egg white and roll the dough in the mixed seeds for topping.

Transfer the dough into the loaf pan and spray some olive oil on it. Cover and let it proof for 45 to 60 minutes, till it’s 150% in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 240C.

Place a ramekin of water on the bottom of the oven and position the rack in the middle.

When the dough is ready after proofing, bake at 240C for 10 minutes, then 220C for another 10 minutes, and 180C for the last 10 minutes. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

*Not pictured: An impromptu blueberry crisp we made out of leftover blueberries which we served with vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice-cream. The pictures were too ugly to share and I didn’t really want to mess with the beauty above.

Just eat the goddamn pudding

Bread pudding!
Bread pudding!
I have what you can call an interesting relationship with food.

As a kid I basically ate everything which meant I was a little soft around the edges.

This meant A LOT of teasing in primary school and as I grew older, I grew heavier. Finally, in high school there came a year where I ate very little and exercised very much.

That year changed my relationship with food – it became an enemy and something to fear. Weirdly enough I also started thinking about it a whole lot more – despite not consuming very much.

Fifteen years later I still have a very intense relationship with food but don’t think I will ever fall back into the pit of unhealthy deprivation. I eat specific things that I think are healthy and nutritious and give me a lot of energy. I also make sure I have an allotment of chocolate everyday for, you know, #health.

Still sometimes, when I want to make and eat a desert all these old feelings of trepidation rush back – is this is a good idea, will there be too much, do I really need these extra calories, but I CAN’T BE EATING CAKE FOR BREAKFAST FOR FIVE DAYS!!!!

This past weekend all these confusing feelings and thoughts flooded my brain after I decided I had to make bread pudding (I mean I had a leftover baguette, what’s a girl to do?). That was when I had a bit of a “check yourself, before you wreck yourself,” moment.

Eating a bit of bread pudding is not going to kill me. It might even make me happy (in that moment, I know food is not the solution to all things). And while I don’t advocate eating cake and bread pudding and generous mouthfuls of refined white sugar everyday, it’s important to let myself eat the things I want and love, sometimes.

It’s irritating, but also true, that moderation might be the only way to approach food and also life.

*The bread pudding I linked to is the recipe I used and it was GORGEOUS. Skip the sauce though – eat with maple syrup/honey instead!