of breakfasts, and a hot whole-grain cereal porridge

it’s coming to nearly ten months now that I’ve left london – and I try very hard not to think about it: there were fantastic memories during fantastic years, with people who’ve made a big difference in my life. I came across this photo – below – in my archives, taken during one of my visits to le pain quotidien (my absolute favourite breakfast hangout in london) and it made me think very hard.

breakfast is my favourite meal – it dictates how the rest of the day is going to go – and though I head out to brunch regularly with friends, it’s my day-to-day breakfast of hot grain that helps remind me of the times in that glorious city. I’ve had this same breakfast every day since coming back, with variations in grain and stir-ins, but the recipe, and the idea is built upon mornings – and anytime, really – of hot oatmeal in gloomy (but so lovely) london.

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whole meyer lemon cake

I used the last of my lovely meyer lemons in this cake – a damp, hearty but fluffy cake of almond meal barely bound together. it’s a simple, fragrant cake – and good for tea time. you whizz up meyer lemons with a bit of egg and almond, throw it all into a pan – and bare moments later, there’s a delicious waft of citrus in the kitchen.

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thai layered coconut jelly dessert (ta ko)

ta ko is a thai dessert that used to be pretty popular in singapore – we used to get it all the time in restaurants, but now it seems like its popularity is waning in the light of sweets like red ruby and mango-sticky-rice. this is still one of my favourites though – the slightly salty coconut layer and crisp kernels of corn in a soft jelly.

it’s not too difficult to make, but I find that as with other asian desserts, much of the recipe is about approximations such as how long you should cook a mixture for, and what result you have to get – not so great for an obsessive a detail-oriented chef.

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whole meyer lemon tart

let’s start with a little baking: I managed to buy meyer lemons – and they were on offer! – and I cannot tell you how pleased I was. I must have seemed a little fanatic in the supermarket when I found these, and it was serendipitous for I had already decided on baking a whole lemon tart, and resigned myself to using typical lemons (apparently known as eurekas). these smell lovely, genuinely a mix between mandarins and lemons, and I couldn’t stop going around getting everyone to rejoice with me in their sheer loveliness.

and of course, they worked a treat in the whole lemon tart. thin-skinned and more complexly fragrant, they baked up into a buttery and very tasty lemon tart that I was happy to bring to a party with friends. this is a one-bowl smitten recipe, which really tells you all you need to know – punchy lemon flavour, easy enough to make, and impressive in result.

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butter cake-muffins

cute little butter muffins using my favourite ikea DRÖMMAR pan – very tasty and fluffy ones too. I really like baking in muffin tins, and these ones have high straight sides which encourage good rising and brown sides – especially welcome in my family (my parents fight over who gets the corner of cakes for maximum browned-cake-area). I’ve made goodness-only-knows-how many butter cakes now, and I’ve started to lose track of them all – but these ones are very good, fragrantly buttery and fluffy cakes.

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chocolate sesame cookies

these are some pretty good and rather interesting – not in the negative-euphemism sort of way – soft cookies, rather a sort of asian-western amalgamation. sesame seeds are very seldom used in european/american cooking, and usually only as toppings (on buns) or lost in the beauty that is hummus (as tahini), and it’s really nice to see a non-asian recipe that uses them as a focal point, much like this cake I made a while back.

they baked up large and flat – the sesame seeds providing good texture in the soft give of the cookie, and luscious dark and milk chocolate (yes, I do think milk chocolate has its place sometimes – don’t judge) in every bite. easy to make, and made further interesting by the inclusion of soy sauce – which gives just the right amount of savoury earthiness – these were some good cookies, though I likely will try to make them a little firmer and crunchier next time.

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liebster award, no. 2


the awesome grub blog was kind enough to give me my second liebster award (thank you!) and here goes:

liebster award rules and requirements

post eleven facts about yourself.
answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create eleven questions for people you’ve nominated.
choose eleven people (with fewer than 200 followers) to give this award to and link them in your post.
go to their page and tell them.
remember, no tag backs.

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tau sar piah, the making

this is such a long post – and so many photos! – but see those tau sar piah up in the first photo? they might be gorgeous to look at and perfectly-sized for rapid consumption – but they take a crazy amount of preparation and time, so much so that you start to wonder in between if it’s worth it. I’m really happy I went through with it though – it taught me new techniques, came out really much prettier than I’d expected, and was just the thing for a relaxing (entire) day’s project.

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tau sar piah (flaky pastry and a mung bean filling)

tau sar piah are traditional chinese bean pastries, with a cooked split mung bean filling surrounded by a layer of flaky pastry. these pastries are sold in those old neighborhood bakeries, or brought back in boxes from malaysia – the malaysian ones are supposedly tastier because they they still do things the old way and aren’t shy about using lard. I never thought I’d want to make these for myself since I don’t much eat them anymore now, though that sweet-savoury bean filling is rather addictive once you start.

these were my first attempt, and I made them slightly different with a filling that used the entire green mung bean – as opposed to just the skinless yellow split mung bean – and though there is room for improvement, I was pretty stoked with how they turned out. asian recipes are really difficult to master actually – and very tedious to complete. I have complete admiration for cooks that churn these pastries out regularly, but it also reminds you that it’s the very same reason our old cornerstone bakeries are starting to close.

recipe and steps in the next post! that last photo is a sort of fantasy of mine – I’m not sure I’ll want to be selling these particular pastries, but there is a sense of satisfaction in even just printing out that first box.

lime meringue layer cake

a truly nigella cake – which for me means that it both tastes and looks impressive, but is so simple it feels almost like a cheat. full disclosure means I have to tell you I made this twice – but it’s not through any fault of hers: I was a little too anxious and took it out of the oven too early ): but I thankfully had enough ingredients and time to make it again.

this is a simple, rustic-looking layer cake, with sponge and meringue baked together and a smattering of curd between. it’s the first time I’ve made a cake like this, but it almost definitely won’t be the last time – it opens up a world of delightful permutations: chocolate sponge and mint meringue, a pistachio sponge and chocolate meringue and chocolate ganache (sort of like a cake I made a long time ago with a dense chocolate base and a nutty meringue).

the recipe is fancy-looking without needing fancy techniques or equipment, which really is what I love about nigella’s recipes. it went down very well at the lunch-party I brought it too, the tangy curd providing intensity to the textured layers, and was spectacular with a mug of hot tea.

p.s. you’ll see that my peaks didn’t hold up, but that didn’t bother me much – the cake was lovely all the same!

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