Sables aux frommage et tomatoes

Sables et Frommage Tomatoes

Sables aux frommage et tomatoes. Or cheese and tomato buttery biscuit. I was looking for something quick to do while G had his afternoon nap and was enthused by the ’20 mins to make’ headline on Rachel Khoo’s recipe page. It’s my first time baking this savoury ‘sable’ french buttery biscuit. It’s a straightforward recipe although I should have sliced the biscuits thinner. I also didn’t have any strongly flavored hard cheese so just used grated mature cheddar. Good recipe! Smells heavenly in oven and gets the tummy rumbling 🙂 Very delish, very easy to put together and definitely a staple for tea.

From Rachel Khoo- Mix together 150g plain white flour with 125g grated mature hard cheese (eg Tomme), with 125g cold butter (cubed). Rub together till a sandy texture and then roll into a sausage and chill in fridge for at least 30 mins. Cut into 3mm rounds and then place half a cherry tomato on top of each biscuit. Garnish with oregano (I used rosemary as I used a softer cheese so it resonated well together ).

Pea Fritters

It doesn’t quite seem to be the blog thing to cook something and then write how awful it is.

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But there always is a first time. Pea fritters is what I like to call “Pinterest food” – good to look at, widely hailed as yummy, with exhortations all over the internet that you have.to.try.it.NAO.

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So I did, because I read a Baby-Led Weaning recipe version of it.

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There are various versions of the Pea Fritter. None stray very far from peas, flour (you can also use wholewheat), eggs, spring onions, lemon zest, and baking powder. For more depth of flavour, you can add salt, herbs, and cheese.

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I’m not seriously convinced salt and/or cheese would make this fritter anymore interesting, but I do believe eating it together with a Yoghurt dip would make it more refreshing.

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I ate my fritters with Tomato Cheese Fusili as I had no dips in my fridge to speak of. I remain puzzled about Pea Fritters. The internet keeps saying it’s ‘a healthy recipe”, but seriously how healthy can it be when it’s fried? And yes you do need to add that much vegetable oil otherwise the fritters stick and burn. I originally planned to give a fritter to the Bubba to try, but decided against it in the end. Thoroughly disappointed and so I’m giving this Pea Fritter food fad a big fat 0!

Edna Lewis’s Deep Fried Chicken

There’s nothing quite like that twinge of yearning in your stomach when someone mentions deep fried chicken.

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The smell of fried chicken stirs memories of primary school recess time, lazy afternoons with two cats meowing at my feet, and huddling up on Friday nights watching a B grade thriller DVD.

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Therein lies the almost universal appeal of fried chicken (if you eat meat). It’s everyone’s best friend, comfort food, emotional clutch. Can be eaten either hot or cold. Immediate, greasy, delicious, satisfying.

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Edna Lewis’s deep fried chicken recipe calls for an overnight soak in brine, followed by an 8 hour dip in buttermilk. You then fry the chicken in lard, butter, and country ham. I’ve done this recipe both with the overnight soak and a shorter stint (about 3 hours) in buttermilk as some chefs claim the second step is not as necessary as the first. I, however, find that Edna’s 8 hour soak in buttermilk does make a more flavorful meat.

I skipped using lard as it isnt easily obtainable in my local supermarket. I also used back bacon instead of ham. The results are nonetheless stunning. Chicken being deep fried in ounces and ounces of golden butter is a smell that can drive ants crazy.

Good things come to those who wait. And this holds true for this recipe. Try it. Colonel Sanders will be out of business from you.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake on a Saturday evening

I’ve been meaning to try the Grapefruit Olive Oil cake by Casa Yellow for the longest time. I finally got to do so last weekend with some close and very treasured friends who collectively brought champagne, a brunello and a 1998 bordeaux to go along with dinner. We were all very happy by the time dessert came around, but I do remember more than a few sighs of contentment.

The recipe can be found here. Do note, however, that oven temperature should be 350 F not degrees. I have never been a fan of grapefruit and have probably only consumed it twice in my life. But I have an open mind when it comes to transforming key ingredients into something unexpected and thoroughly delightful. Like this cake. wpid-20150516_152054.jpg

It’s very, very straightforward cake to bake and rose perfectly in the oven. I know there are some die-hard bakers out there who will balk at using olive oil with cake, but I’m a progressive when it comes to cake baking having encountered so many soggy bottoms with traditional recipes like the tipsy cake.

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As I baked this in the afternoon way before dinner, there was no temptation to rush to put on the glaze and so I managed to tilt it out perfectly without any crumbly bits falling out.

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I mixed in a little too much muscovado sugar for the glaze, but altogether, this made a unique cake with bittersweet undertones on the palette that’s quite unlike the usual vanilla, chocolate, or uber-trendy salted caramel base. I would make this again, but perhaps experiment with combining an herbal-based liquid gel like Basil for a summer dinner party 🙂

Dreaming of Tomatada

My cooking journey started when I was in primary school on weekends when my brother and I were enlisted in the kitchen to help with peeling and chopping of what then seemed like interminable mounds of garlic, onions and potatoes. There was some pounding with the pestle and mortar, and of course, stirring whatever was in the pot on the stove.

Lisboan Canape

This canape reminds me of those days. It was served as a complimentary canape at a restaurant in Lisbon during a blisteringly hot summer afternoon and it was the perfect way to wind down and settle in for lunch. Tomatada on bread dipped in olive oil. It’s commonly served in both Portugal and Spain, and I suppose the Iberian Peninsula’s answer to India’s Tomato chutney.

There are many variations of Tomatada, and, as in all peasant cuisines, there is no one right way to make this lovely sauce. Some recipes call for herbs, onions, peppers etc. In my version, I skin, core and de-seed 2 tomatoes, and blend it with 2 or 3 cloves of garlic. I then boil the mixture down for about half an hour. Serve chilled on a baguette with a drizzle of olive oil.

I used to make this for Friday evenings when William would knock off work a little earlier. We used to live in Canary Wharf back then, and the celebratory Friday mood would be everywhere with bars filled up by 5pm. I would shop at Waitrose for the ingredients after lunch, and round about 3pm, start making this together with the baguette. It altogether made an elegant start to the weekend with a glass of Shiraz.

Environmentalism and a Baby in a Garden City

“Sustainable development means more than environmental concern. What are the links between social policy and sustainable development?”
Ah, exam questions. Don’t you just love the anticipation, the adrenaline, the rush, the fear…and then the sheer physical and mental pain of scrawling and scratching away with a pen for the next 2 or 3 hours trying to argue your way as concisely as your head and handwriting will allow? I found an old exam paper from my MSc days chucked away at the corner of my cupboard as I was yet again, battling to find more space for Boop’s books and toys. Back when I was attending lectures for this module, I tried going vegetarian at least 3 times a week and downloaded several apps in an attempt to reduce my carbon footprint in other ways. Sustainable development and environmentalist philosophy is fascinating in the UK and US with dedicated activists expanding Transition Town networks across countries, as well as other localised trading systems or alternatives like time banks that use the exchange of time to forge stronger social capital in neighbourhood communities. And of course there is the Green Party and their key policy demands of a “Citizen’s Income” for all.
In Singapore, we are green, green garden city. We are, in fact, beautifully green with Gardens by the Bay. Who can forget the 50-meter-high solar-powered “supertrees” and climate-controlled biomes after a visit? They were the superb vision and sheer energy of Lee Kuan Yew, who sowed the first seedlings in Singapore – “I sent them on missions all along the Equator and the tropical, subtropical zones, looking for new types of trees, plants, creepers and so on. From Africa, the Caribbean, Latin, Middle, Central America, we’ve come back with new plants. It’s a very small sum. But if you get the place greened up, if you get all those creepers up, you take away the heat, you’ll have a different city”.
And of course, dotted around the island, there are troves of recycling bins, or just bins lest you get the infamous fine for littering. National policy aside, there are NGOs like the Edible Garden City that champions the “Grow Your Own Food” movement in land-scarce and import-dependent Singapore. This infectious group of Singapore farmpreneurs not only help corporates with foodscaping, but also seed the knowledge of food growing in schools. The Growell Pop Up, as its name suggests, is a pop up that hosts community based workshops on food sustainability. So there is stuff going on, just not perhaps on the scale where a discernible, ground-up narrative can be articulated. Back in LSE, the ideal was touted as a narrative that led to the emergence of a newly empowered ‘welfare citizen’ with ecological citizenship (Fitzpatrick), and this required a certain degree of self-actualisation and change in lifestyle expectations and values.
So anyway, since coming across that exam paper, I have been thinking again about my carbon footprint,over-consumption, and really, how to live simply. It’s trickier now, with a baby as much of what I do revolves around his schedule. Well, we did our weekly sensory play activity and did it on a shoestring budget of $5. I used sago and brown rice, as well as some pasta. The most expensive item at $.250 was shaving foam. wpid-20150401_134513.jpgBoop was a little puzzled when I first handed the bag to him but once he realised how fun it was to squish foam with green sago seeds and rice he played with it on his own for the next 10 minutes, and then on and off for the rest of the day.
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Food-wise, well, ha. My efforts to be healthy just went out the window…. partially because it’s just easier to grab ingredients you have in your fridge rather than run across to Giant when you have a baby. So I ended up roasting pork belly, which came out with unexpectedly fantastic crackling. Im not too sure if this was because I bought the unfrozen slices on the racks rather than the whole belly from the butcher, but I roasted it at 180dc for 45 minutes, and then turned it up to 200dc for about 5-10 minutes. No fancy ingredients other than olive oil, salt and thyme.
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I figured that with one sinful eat, why not make it two? 😉
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This blueberry cheesecake was an amalgamation of no-bake cheesecakes found online, consisting of cream cheese, sugar, double cream and blueberries. Digestive biscuits and butter for the base. It wasn’t the best cheesecake, but it did satisfy my cake craving which sort of sprang up suddenly at night after Boop fell asleep.
As for Boop, he loves his vegetables! So at least one person in the house was both healthy and environmentally friendly! So I’m not too sure I reduced my carbon footprint at all. But I guess it’s about recognising our limitations, both circumstantially as well as personally,while still making a daily effort at it in our own small way.

Cooking and Eating with Baby G

 

 

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Baby G is in his second month of weaning, and so far we’ve been cooking with recipes from Annabel Karmel and Emily Dupuche. We’re not averse to store bought baby food, and he has enjoyed pouches from Cow & Gate and Ella’s Kitchen when we were 2 weeks in London, as well as Geber and Heinz over here. His absolute favorite food, whether home cooked or store bought, is Cauliflower Cheese. He allows me to vary this by adding Broccoli and in general, can wolf down a whole portion within 10 minutes. He seems to have more of a savoury tooth for now; with an expressed preference for vegetable trios like carrots, peas and sweet potato, over apple purees. He hates bananas.

Anyway the point of this post was really about me wanting to ‘walk to the talk’. If I have every intention of encouraging my child to eat healthily and if I’m going to steam or boil everything in sight for him, then so should I for myself! So for today, it’s sweet potatoes and peas for Baby G, and a litre of celery, broccoli and apple juice for myself.

We each probably know someone in our social circles who is into healthy living, or even perhaps alternative food movements.I remember I first heard of raw foodism on Season 6 of Sex and the City, when Samantha was trying to get into bed with Jason Lewis’s character. I’ve never been to a raw food restaurant, and probably never will. I confess I have tried coffee enemas during my occasional ‘clean living’ resolutions that usually come about when I need to squeeze into an unforgiving cheongsam for a social event or function. I have, however, over the years, been quite persuaded by the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” by Joe Cross. The documentary is available on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mS0YA465ts. Cross has also made a follow-up documentary at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kLSs4OhS0o. Both are fascinating explorations into food ethnography and ethical eating.

I have no ethical objection to eating meat. My Facebook friends will know my love for cooking and eating through my album “Adventures with my Tefal”. Moral philosopher Peter Singer has argued that meat consumption is not necessary to the health and survival of most people living in developed countries. But eating meat has been a significant component of human evolution and is synergistic with what makes us human. From an animal consciousness perspective, I love animals but I love the taste of meat even more and much of my food obsession flows around mounds of pork belly, duck breast, and roast chicken. I acknowledge cognitive dissonance here.

Health-wise, Nobel Laureate Professor Harald zur Hausen has suggested that high red meat consumption is linked to both colorectal and breast cancers, highlighting the low incidence of both cancers in India where beef is not consumed for religious reasons. Some epidemiological studies also suggest a link between certain cooking processes e.g. grilling, and the production of carcinogens. A 2012 Harvard study showed evidence that regular consumption of red meat was linked to an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality. However, the study also underlined that choosing more healthful sources of protein over red meat, conferred significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality. I do like beef, but I am not a regular consumer of red meat – beef is not regularly available at my local Giant and NTUC. Also, you cant really for the love of God find a restaurant in Singapore that serves a good steak (London has spoilt me).

But I consume chicken and pork regularly – you cannot really get by southeast asian cuisine iwithout! I do like my vegetables, but don’t eat them often enough. I therefore choose to juice as it sort of helps cram and compress these huge quantities of vegetables in one go, and is vastly more pleasant than actually eating vegetables. I have been doing this on an ad-hoc basis, so i’m making a resolution to make a litre of fruit and veg juice for myself while I cook Baby G’s portions every morning. I also hope to steam and poach more than fry, and for a start, will dedicate steaming to Monday, poaching to Wednesday, and Friday to boiling.

Poached salmon for tomorrow then? 🙂