Goodbye world! Also, Gwen and Dimitri made us zuccanoes…

Blogging, Cooking with Friends, Life

Dear friends,

This is going to be last blog post for maybe a little while, maybe a lot while, or maybe forever.

I have loved writing this blog and I have loved sharing my life and loves with my readers but it’s now time for me to retreat back into my shell.

I recently realized I was increasingly feeling like this blog was a burden rather than a boon and that planning, photographing and writing these posts felt like it was taking me out of my life, rather than enhancing it. I also felt like I didn’t want to share so much of myself anymore. Weird coming from me, the most extroverted person I know – minus one very boisterous friend I shall not name. And finally if I’m going to do something I want to do it right and I’m not doing this blog right. Snatching moments to write posts, coming up with ideas on the fly – that’s just not giving it my all and I know it.

SO it is time to say farewell!

Dimitri and Gwen <3

Dimitri and Gwen ❤

But before I go here are some pictures and a recipe of the food served at a dinner party I held at home with the most charming couple in the world – Gwen and Dimitri. This was supposed to be posted under my cooking with friends series and the party was so much fun that I realized I didn’t want to be taking pictures of the dinner. I just wanted to spend time with the people there.

Gwen is my colleague and friend and Dimitri is her lovely husband. For your reference Gwen is American and Dimitri is French (so you can imagine the accents, in your head). A little bit about this charming couple’s charming story – don’t worry I won’t give it all away – they met in a random Southeast Asian country where they were both on holiday.  There was some picture-taking, some well-timed rain, some huddling under the umbrella which obviously led to true love.

Listening to the story is one thing but getting to know them has been another. Let’s just say I have a people crush on them and how kind, sharp and charming that these two are – apart and together.

When I put out the call for people to cook with Gwen (a) volunteered to cook, (b) came up with the dish she was going to cook and (c) brought her nice camera along to take pictures of the food for my blog. FYI, this is how to be a good friend.

Gwen and Dimitri decided to make zuccanoes, which is this stuffed zucchini crazy-delicious-ness that is one of her favorite recipes from a while ago.

Artistic mise en place - with a frenchman at the helm - would you expect any less?

Artistic mise en place – with a frenchman at the helm – would you expect any less?

ALL THE COLORS!

ALL THE COLORS!

You start with hollowed out zucchinis... (by the way hollowing them out is SUPER hard - this is when I discovered that Gwen has super-human strength)

You start with hollowed out zucchinis… (by the way hollowing them out is SUPER hard – this is when I discovered that Gwen has super-human strength)

A recipe that puts you to work - mid way through the million steps needed to make this happen.

A recipe that puts you to work – mid way through the million steps needed to make this happen.

More work

More work

Work SO MUCH WORK

Work SO MUCH WORK

My lovely dinner mates

My lovely dinner mates

Bartender for the night

Bartender for the night

I decided to make dark chocolate mousse with a gingersnap base for dessert because DAYAMN. Wouldn’t you too?

#ourstomachsbroke

#ourstomachsbroke

Recipes for the food above can be found here:
Zuccanoes – Mollie Katzen
Dark chocolate pudding with gingersnap crumbs – The Sugar Hit
Espresso Martini – The Telegraph

Happy me with my pudding. ALL MY PUDDING.

Happy, blurry me with my pudding. ALL MY PUDDING.

***

It’s been a blast my friends – I’m going to miss all the positive feedback and love!

See you in the real world!

Leftover Gochujang Paste Salad

Cooking, Thoughts, Work

Forgive the fuzziness - look at the pearly keeeen wahhh

Forgive the fuzziness – look at the pearly keeeen wahhh

Friends, my blogging has been patchy and I apologize for that. Work has become all-consuming, and funnily enough I’m happy about it.

My Dad, who worked as the head of HR in a very prominent international bank for many years, once told me that he used to tell his staff that if they liked 30% of their job – they were lucky. I like close to 80 to 90% of my job. So I must be very lucky.

It’s not often that you get paid to “sell” or in my case “communicate” a product that you believe in, so very much.

These past few weeks, as things have gotten busier at work, I have found myself getting more tied to my organisation. Each task I had to do, each press release I had to write and each project I had to manage somehow made me more invested in the outcome of how we were being presented in the public. And it’s not because it’s a KPI or goal I have to meet. It’s because I am so proud of the work we are doing.

Science Comms you know? The researchers are passionate geniuses and I’m lucky to be along for the ride.

Ack – just went off on a tangent about work when I’m clearly supposed to be talking about gochujang and food!

So, since I’ve been working hard, it’s left little time for cooking. Or less, anyway.

One weeknight I wanted a fresh healthy salad, but didn’t want my protein to be that regular grilled chicken with garlic and lemon I eat ALLTHEDAMNTIME. I realized I had gochujang in the fridge (leftover from my last bibimbap-making frenzy). Why does that matter you ask? WELL, gochujang is a fabulous marinade for chicken.

So that same night, after a hard day’s work, I slathered two tablespoons of gochujang on one chicken thigh and stuck it in the fridge to marinade while I ran my 5K.

When I came back – I popped it in the oven for 30 mins (flipping it once in the middle) at 200 degrees and it was gorgeous. I served it with cooked quinoa, chopped cucumber, diced red peppers and mixed salad leaves drizzled with this Asian-y salad dressing.

This baby can keep you going strong for all them working hours. Like it did me 🙂

Sesame Basil Noodles and Mondays

Cooking, Thoughts
Coming together now

Coming together now

Mondays, Mondays, Mondays – whether you like it or not, they’re a bit of a work-fail even if you’ve got that to do list in front of you.

It’s difficult to light your ass on fire when all you want to do with said ass is crawl back into bed.

And apart from being generally demotivated, I feel like I’m moving through Jello. Tasks that take me 5 minutes on a Tuesday are taking me 10, today.

Like, for example, it’s just REALLY hard to write an email sometimes, ok?

But what can you do? Mondays are slow starters and we have the rest of the week to kick-ass, including our own.

So when you get home today, instead of crapping out why don’t you make these super tasty pasta noodles masquerading as some quasi-Thai dish?

Individual component

Individual components

I know, nothing can beat real Thai food.

But real Thai food involves skill and more oil than I’m willing to ingest.

SO. This is why, I recommend making healthy western food with an Asian inspired dressing. It keeps the Asian in you happy AND it keeps your body happy.

Like look at this baby – it’s fettuccine, sauteed bean sprouts + carrots + mushrooms, grilled chicken, basil + spring onions tossed with a tahini-ginger dressing that was crazy good. Oh – and topped with peanuts and sesame seeds.

At the end of the eating it, I felt light and energized and satiated.

I think when your body feels good, even directly after a meal, that’s a pretty good sign.

*Recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

Super Simple Roast Chicken and Spaghettini Aglio Olio

Entertaining

Chicken done right!

Chicken done right!

This past weekend and week – I two dinner parties (with my attendees help) and they both went really well. The first was a Taco Salad Bar with my girlfriends. Just prepped the ingredients and let each girl fix their own bowl.

The second was a lovely dinner in with Alex and Avi – my best bros. The challenge? Pulling this off on weeknight.

The reason for this not-so-convenient timing was that Alex was due to fly back to Kabul and we all wanted to spend some quality time together.

What could I whip up that was:
A) yummy
B) boys would eat it
C) easy + fast

And remember – boys had to eat it, so I couldn’t just like, serve them a salad.

Then I suddenly remembered Hoi serving me the best roast chicken I’ve had in my life for Christmas.

Whipped out my phone and texted – “Hoiii can you send me the recipe for your roast chicken that you made for Christmas???”

“Sure.”

And then I had it.

What about carbs?

I had some conveniently gifted spaghettini which would make this dish… FREE… if I used it. Hmmm…

A short Google search later led me to a efficient use of ALLTHEINGREDIENTS I already had in my pantry. Good thing parmesan was optional coz I don’t eat cheese/I’m cheap.

But what about greens?

The boys might not want them but my digestive system did. Too much info? WHATEVER.

I decided some chopped romaine and a simple lemon dressing would perk up the menu.

I was back home by 6:45pm, after buying groceries, prepped the chicken, popped it in the oven.

Alex came over and started on his apple crumble flambe.

Avi mixed them some Cuba Libres while I made the salad dressing.

Once Alex was done – I quickly prepped the spaghettini and Avi chopped the salad.

My (not-so) pretty plate

My (not-so) pretty plate

Dinner was served by 8:30pm. Not bad I would say.

The crumble baked while we ate. Alex then insisted we needed San Pedros to go with it. That is basically vanilla ice-cream and rum. Blended.

The food was humble, delicious and very satisfying. And totes doable on a weekend.

Also, I have literally never seen Avi that much – in my life.

It was a fantastic night that had us all laughing and me thinking about how crazy it was that these two friends of mine, who I met separately at very different parts in my life (high school vs masters), click so well. I mean the dudes both watch Hannibal, drink too much alcohol and can’t stand it when women use silence as show of anger.

Go figure.

Apple crumble flambeeeee

Apple crumble flambeeeee

Food links:
Roast Chicken
Spaghettini Aglio Olio
Lemon Vinaigrette
Cuba Libre

Apple Crumble Flamble – Ask Alex – coz it’s a family recipe!

Happy Friday everyone!

I make ugly food & it TASTES SO GOOD: Vol III

Baking, Cooking, Recipes, Thoughts

Hi friends! I’m back with the third installment of ugly food I cook and for some reason, you can’t get enough of!

I cook a couple of times a week and many times I look to the Internet Gods for guidance, advice and of course – recipes.

This installment is the longest I’ve ever done and features heavily on desserts… Clearly I need to stop pretending I live in a cold country and need sustenance in the form of sweet treats.

Because I live in Singapore and my ass needs sustenance in the form of raw green things. And some lean protein. But you know #details

SO. This time around I changed up the format. See the pretty pictures first and the ugly AND REAL pictures later.

You guys like reality? Right?

Classic Lemon Bars – Joy The Baker

This dessert, like so many others, was born out of a frenzy of denying my body sugar for days. Actually it might have been 24 hours. But as they say, same-to-same. I found the lemons in my fridge, stole my flatmate’s flour and baked these babies up. They might look questionable but I can actually say I pretty much ate ALL of this, by myself.

Healthy Quinoa Chicken Curry Bowls – Pinch of Yum

I always REALLY regret making Indian-fusion food or anything with the word curry in it. Why? It’s always insipid and then I crave my Mom’s food and then I crawl into a fetal position and cry. True story.

Ginger Walnut Chocolate Blondies – Joy the Baker

I have featured these babies before here, but before the editing and amateur “food styling” I attempted, they looked like this. They tasted friggin AMAZING though.

Goat Cheese and Blackberry Jam Grilled Sandwiches – Aamupalalla

I saw this grilled cheese, I had some left-over goat cheese, Hoi had just given me a mini-pot of strawberry jam – and I knew, it was meant to be. Stinky, cheesy and yummy, this baby was intense. Would I make it again? No. But do I regret it? No.

Chicken Shwarma Nachos – My Name is Yeh

I made these nachos for a girlie dinner and it went down like a hit. Looking back at these pictures makes me realize though that man – I have got to learn how to style food! Or accept that having a food blog might mean not eating the food you present on the blog. ANYWAY, this was very tasty and Molly Yeh’s original post on it is beautiful. I recommend taking a look.

Oatmeal raisin cookie baked oatmeal – Two Red Bowls

I saved the best, err ugliest, for last. A questionable textured breakfast that tasted pretty yummy, this baked oatmeal looked like the stuff of breakfast dreams, but in actuality looked CRAZY TERRIBLE. UGH.

I swear my food tastes good.

I make ugly food & it TASTES SO GOOD: Vol II

Baking, Cooking, Recipes, Thoughts

My first ugly food post is actually the most popular post on my blog EVER. It got 105 views which let’s face it is, pretty paltry and in all honesty it only got there because Shutterbean linked to me. THANK GOD FOR HER.

In a bid to replicate my early success in a time of complete creative drought (I find that I’m mostly really concerned about what lipstick color I should buy) that I thought I would copy an old post.

Like always, I’ve been cooking up a storm and it’s been good, but it really hasn’t looked good. AKA I haven’t bothered styling it.

Here’s what I’ve been cooking and enjoying these past two weeks! Bon Appétit!

Bonkers Awesome Mushroom and Onion Shells and Cheese Joy The Baker

The minute I saw this recipe on Joy’s blog I had to make it. However the amount of cheese and butter held me back knowing that really eating this could in no way be classified as healthy or good for you. Still I made it (Sans Gruyere – which I will use next time) and not only was it an awesome dinner, it was an awesome lunch to take into work. Too bad it really looks nothing like the original.

Strawberry and Spinach Salad with Quinoa and Goat CheeseCookie and Kate

I don’t really impulse food shop because I have a set amount of things I eat in a day and at certain times (5 o’clock apple – everyday!).* So when I do buy something out of the ordinary it generally causes a lot of panic and my mind immediately tries to slot it into my routine. This is what happened when I recently bought some cheap strawberries. I don’t have the calorie bandwith or time to eat strawberries but I had to eat dinner, so I made this salad and added some grilled chicken and was good to go! Was it good? Ish.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup – All Recipes

Honestly, All Recipes? I know, how very 2000 of me. But seriously this recipe, which I stumbled across after typing in “sweet potato” and “coconut milk” into Google, was actually AMAZING. Make it and dunk in some udon, veggies and some silken tofu and you’ve got A MEAL my friends.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola – Averie Cooks

I make granola from time and time and it’s always vaguely healthy. This time I didn’t want to do healthy – I wanted to do chock full, can’t even pretend this is good for you granola. Because sometimes you want to. Sometimes you want to be bad – and then feel good – and then feel obese. Because really this is what happened when I made this granola. And honestly – check out the photography in the original post and drool because it is oh-so-good.

*If you think this is strange and weird and you are still my friend then you obviously think this is a charming quirk of mine and we need not discuss this further.

Braised Chicken with Olives and Red Wine

Cooking

2014-05-01 19.59.08

So, this recipe is for anyone who is A) lazy/aka smart and B) makes their wine choices based on what’s on sale at Cold Storage.

A) Lazy/aka smart because it’s minimal effort for a rich and fancy(ish) meal.

B) Well this takes more time to explain. You know who you are, you’re that person every Friday who hits up the wine section at the grocery store and you’re all “Oh yes, I’m going to get a nice bottle of vino for the night.”

Please imagine this voice with a conspicuous British accent. (Optional: Hint of original Asian accent from wherever you’re REALLY from)

“Oh look the cheapest merlot here is 13.90 – well that can’t be good! It’s just so CHEAP. Oh wait here’s englishsoundingname estate wine discounted from 21.45 to 15.90. Well that’s an AMAZING value. I must buy it and drink it and laugh at my ingenuity at making prudent life choices.”

Then you get home and open the wine bottle. You smell that intense wine-y smell and you try and lie to yourself that it’s not that bad. Then it hits your tongue and you know you can’t have more. Because you’re just not drunk enough. You will never be drunk enough.

But then there’s this: You’re just too cheap to throw it away.

This is when this recipe comes in. Use up that crappy crappy wine you cheap-o. And it might almost make your bad decision seem like a good one.

2 Tbsps olive oil
2 boneless chicken thighs
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp Herbs de Provence dried herbs mix (rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc, etc)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup red wine (preferably shiraz but really anything should do)
4 sundried tomatoes in oil
1 can (160 gm) of tomato puree
1/4 cup sliced black olives

In non-stick pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame.

Place the chicken into the pan, browning them for about 4 minutes on one side.

Turn the chicken over, and move the pieces to one side of the skillet. On the other side of the skillet, sautee the onion and Herbs de Provence for about five minutes, until the onions are softened and a little bit browned. Add the garlic and sautee for 1 minute.

Add the wine, tomato puree, olives and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan.

Stir everything around, increase heat until it boils/simmers.

Turn the heat down to low and cover. Let simmer for an hour. It’s really that easy.

Serve over rice/pasta/some form of carb.

*Adapted from Opera Girl Cooks.
**Photography by Hoi Yee (paper_shins).

Shepherd’s Pie with Garam Masala

Cooking

IMG_2316You know what you should do this weekend? You should totes make Shepherd’s Pie and then freeze it in individual portions (see above – I know that frozen condensation is so appetizing) and then have it for the rest of the week for dinner. You will thank your past self when Monday comes and your realize you have NO resolve to cook anything and yet don’t want to spend money on eating out. Yeah, you know what I’m sayin’.

This time I took pictures of the process. Enjoy!

IMG_2269Mash bit.

IMG_2270Ground meat and onions bit.

IMG_2271Ground meat and onions post masala inclusion.

IMG_2273AND done.

Mashed potato topping
800 gm potatoes
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg

Minced lamb bottom layer
2 tablespoons canola/vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
600 gm ground lamb
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsps meat curry powder*
1 Tbsp chili powder*
1/2 Tbsp jeera/cumin powder*
1/4 Tbsp garam masala*
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen peas

Clean the potatoes and cut into four pieces. Boil until tender and remove skin.

While the potatoes are still hot put the butter in it so it melts, add the whipping cream, salt and pepper and mash until smooth. Stir in egg until well combined (Confession: I didn’t realize it was supposed to be just the egg yolk until I started typing up this post)

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Put the canola oil in a pan over medium high heat. Once the oil simmers, add the onion and brown. Add the ginger-garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes.

Add the spices: meat curry powder, chili powder, jeera powder and garam masala and cook for like a minute.

Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and chicken broth and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the peas to the lamb mixture and cook for another minute.

I spread the lamb mixture evenly into an 8 by 8 baking dish – you should choose a bigger one because mine totally spilled over and made everything greasetastic.

Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula.

Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown.

Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

*This amount can be doubled for a spicier pie.
**Adapted from Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie.

I make ugly food & it TASTES SO GOOD

Baking, Cooking, Recipes, Thoughts

The food I make is partly inspired by my Mom’s cooking, partly inspired by the contents of my refrigerator and sometimes inspired by THE INTERNET. Here’s a rundown of some dishes I’ve cooked from recipes found on some of my favorite food blogs and websites. I’ve also included the pictures and links to the originals JUST so you can see how desperately I need a new camera. Mine are first. Obviously.

Nutty Cranberry GranolaShutterbean

granola

This actually turned out really well except that the oats got a bit too overdone. But honestly, they taste kickass with any kind of milk and are super filling and good for breakfast.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pancakes (Vegan)Top With Cinnamon

pancakes Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-Pancakes-049-18

This recipe make super heavy pancakes but they’re quite good and you feel weirdly healthy when you eat them. What the recipe doesn’t tell you is that it sticks to the pan like crazy if you use normal vegetable oil. So you know that’s cool if you don’t mind destroyed pancakes. Or you could use coconut oil which is recommended.

Pineapple Upside Down CakeNigella

pineapple cake

This cake is a classic. It is easy and always turns out good. Mine looks a little different because I don’t do maraschino cherries and it also tasted different because I used pineapple slices in syrup. Don’t do it. Get pineapple juice and use that instead.

Green Chili ChickenSingapore Shiok

green chilli chicken

Okay this was ugly and it didn’t taste so good. Was it something I did? Personally I think it wasn’t a very good recipe.

The Reset Button SaladShutterbean

salad

I HAD to make this salad when I saw it. Unfortunately my version didn’t have spring onions because Fairprice decided to run out. Wow the contrast of how bad my salad looks next to the original is shocking. But it tasted awesome!

So get cooking this weekend and make some ugly, tasty food!

Easy Vegetarian Lasagna

Baking

I have to say I’m feeling good. You know why? Coz I made lasagna. And not only that I did it without my usual OCD way of following a recipe so closely that I have a breakdown anytime something doesn’t go exactly, according to plan.

Veggie Lasagna

I have been jonesing for lasagna for awhile but was also feeling like I didn’t want to eat dairy OR meat (no idea why – I call it “temporary veganism”) so when I came across this dairy free pasta recipe at the Minimalist Baker I was like hells yes. But then I couldn’t find the oversized shells the recipe called for and that’s how the idea of a lasagna version of this pasta was born. It’s also why I was forced to actually change a recipe. *Breathe in*

8 sheets of no precooking lasagna sheets (I used Barilla but I bought them before I found out about certain homophobic comments their CEO recently made – so I helpfully suggest you choose another brand)
1 1/2 block of tau kwa/tofu
2 Tbsp basil based pesto
2 pearl eggplants cut into 1/4 inch rounds
olive oil
2 cups of spaghetti sauce (I bought Prego Traditional Spaghetti Sauce)

Sprinkle eggplant rounds with sea salt and rub with olive oil. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 20 minutes (turn over after 10 minutes) until brown on both sides. Set aside.

Combine the tofu and pesto in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. In this recipe the tofu acts as the cheese.

Using an 8 by 8 inch pan, generously ladle like half a cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom. Put two sheets of lasagna on top – then top with a layer of the tofu/pesto mixture and then top with some eggplant. I suggest using about a third of the mixture and eggplants since that’s the number of layers you’re gonna do.

Ladle some of the spaghetti sauce on top of the topping. I have no idea exactly how much BECAUSE I DIDN’T MEASURE. So use your judgment and be generous since these no pre-cook lasagna sheets need a decent amount of liquid.

Repeat with the lasagna sheets – tofu/pesto mixture – eggplant until done. After putting on the two sheets on top with spaghetti sauce and not the mixture and eggplant because you should have finished it by now.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before eating.

*This lasagna isn’t SUPER tasty since it’s a little bland. But it hits the spot and it’s somewhat healthy. And it’s vegetarian! YAAY!