Saturday, December 6, 2014

Edible Gift: Homemade Limoncello

Each year I make small, homemade gifts for Anthony's and my colleagues. One favourite is homemade limoncello, a simple lemon liquor. It was extremely easy to make, though it has to rest for a week, so if you want to make it, get started soon! All you need is lemons (organic, preferably), vodka, and sugar.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Born Round by Frank Bruni [book review] & Italian Creamed Onions

I just finished reading Born Round: A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite by Frank Bruni, a memoir by the former New York Times restaurant critic. It was very engaging to read about his American-Italian childhood. I was enraptured by the stories of the feasts his grandmother, aunts, and mother created for family events. Having a huge bounty of food was a sign of love in his family. Special occasions always merited a massive spread of food for the whole extended family. His grandmother even had two kitchens in her house, one in the basement for creating the plethora of dishes, and one upstairs for guests to marvel at how she cooked it all without leaving the kitchen in a disastrous mess. One of the dishes I made after reading about it was creamed onions.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Shredded Salad with Dukkah Dressing

Dukkah is an Egyptian blend of nuts, seeds, and spices. It is usually used in Egypt with a bowl of olive oil for dipping hunks of bread. The dukkah mixture is made from toasted hazelnuts and sesame seeds, and the flavouring comes from cumin and coriander, also toasted.

Cumin and coriander seeds are "more likely to be found together than apart" in Middle Eastern cooking, according to The Flavour Thesaurus by Nikki Segnit (see my review of this astoundingly useful book). The brightness of coriander seeds offsets the dustiness of the cumin. Together with the nuts and seeds, they make an interesting and versatile mixture. I haven't been to Egypt yet, so I'm happy that this dukkah let me pretend for a while.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend Links #38

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every month. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--This guest post on Eating Rules identifies one way in which thinking mathematically about our food can help (or hinder) us making healthy decisions: Math and Food: A Thought Experiment.
--How to help the world by not eating local, from Casual Kitchen. I follow Daniel for consistently quality posts like this one. (Related: This post about how food miles don't make up the most important part of environmental impact of food, from Farming Futures.)

recipe links:
--Flaxseed focaccia bread (from Healthful Pursuit); not only is it grain-free but it's got very few ingredients and they are all "ordinary" ones.
--Some vegetarian burgers that are made with cauliflower and chickpeas, hence they are called cauliflower hummus burgers. How great does that sound? From Oh My Veggies.
--Some people still don't know that cauliflower can be amazingly tasty. For this person, there is cocoa roasted cauliflower, from The Taste Space.
--I have made this pumpkin spice latte (from The Nourishing Gourmet) at home a few times for my autumn fix, since Starbucks here in Singapore doesn't sell it. In fact, in October they were already serving their Christmas drinks. Pfffft.
--Chocolate pecan pie, from Elana's Pantry. Holiday food!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Everything (grain-free)

Our favourite cookie just got better! We love chocolate chip cookies with everything--moist and chewy, with chocolate, nuts, coconut, and raisins. In fact, this flexible recipe can take all the add-ins you desire. I published the original version years ago when this blog was first getting going five years ago: recipe here and photo here.

On that note, this blog now has 501 posts! Wow! This blogging thing started as a casual hobby. It's still a hobby since the blog is ad-free and I've never made any money from it, but 500 posts means it's no longer a casual endeavour. I love writing here and sharing recipe ideas. Blogging has been personally valuable since my cooking and photography have improved. But also blogging has been rewarding as others have been able to use and share ideas here, too. I would love to hear about any ideas from Simply Cooked that have been valuable to you.

I have been wheat-free and mostly grain-free for the last two years and this has influenced the things you see here on Simply Cooked. This doesn't mean that I can't enjoy baking, though. Here are some usually grain-filled items that I have tackled and transformed into grain-free versions:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spicy Quinoa and Sweet Potato Soup

I've got a bad cold and so I'm craving spicy food. When I can't smell much, the heat of chilli seems to cut through the fog a little. Plus spicy food makes my nose run and cleans it out! (Too much information?) Thankfully I made some of this soup a few weeks ago and had several portions in the freezer.

Before freezing (as pictured above) this was a thick, chunky soup. After thawing and reheating, it was more like a warm salad - all the liquid had been soaked up or evaporated. It was delicious both ways.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ask Sarah: Nine Grain-Free Quiche Crusts

Ask Sarah is an occasional series answering readers' questions. This time it's actually a question from my sister-in-law! It's a question I have been pondering for some time, so I've shared it here as well.

Anna asked: "Hello lovely! I'm looking at quiche pie crust recipes so that I can make and freeze quiche now for Christmas. I know that you are restricting your wheat-flour intake, and I'm wondering if you've found a savoury pie crust recipe that I might use. ;) Let your Pinterest finger wander!"

Ah, Pinterest! It is so addictive. But actually a great way to save and organise great ideas. "Creative vegetables" is my favourite board to pin. Recently I have started whole separate boards for kitchen design and for home office ideas. Do you use Pinterest?

And quiche! How wonderful that we can look forward to some at Christmas. Since going grain-free I have seen numerous good ideas for quiche that avoid wheat flour crusts. (Some are bizarre.) Which of these would you eat?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Anything that Moves by Dana Goodyear [book review]

Warning: I am going to talk about something you may find a little disgusting.

I'm part of a food-related book club called The Kitchen Reader. (Actually, I'm its facilitator, too.) Our October book is Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture by Dana Goodyear, chosen by Melissa of Melos Bookshelf. Modern Western eating patterns are so different from other cultures and times. This book chronicles some of the fringe eating that is emerging (or re-emerging) in America.

While the book has lots to say about eating organ meats, raw milk, live seafood, and so on, an issue that caught my eye was about insects. Eating insects is a polarizing issue, but probably shouldn't be.

A quarter of the world regularly eats insects, did you know? I learned that from a recent National Geographic print magazine. (Two of the pictures in this post are snaps of the September 2014 issue.) In fact, please go watch National Geographic's short animated video called Edible Insects. It's less than two minutes long. Go on, it's quite educational!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thai Basil and Cashew Stir-Fry

Sometimes my body just craves a big pile of vegetables. One of these days was last week during my half term holidays. After ten weeks at school my body was run down and seeking nutrients. What I needed was more sleep, less stress, and some highly healthy food.

In the past I have arrived at my half term break on the verge of illness. Many years I have made it to the Saturday after school ends and succumbed to a cold or the flu. I have laid on the couch and dribbled away my holiday.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Quinoa, Broccoli, and Bacon Fritters

You might not know this about me: I am obsessed with correct punctuation. It began as a young child. Thanks to my book-loving parents, I owned more than 200 books by the time I was nine, and they were alphabetised and organised on my bookshelf.

My father took a break from his work to do a PhD when I was ten, and he moved our family to Scotland to complete it over five years at the University of Aberdeen. It involved a huge thesis and he talked about it constantly with our family. I was old enough to understand a little of the subject matter. His thesis later became a 380 page book called Attributes and Atonement: The Holy Love of God in the Theology of PT Forsyth.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

French Onion Soup

Onions are a thing of beauty, aren't they? No? You think they are too mundane to be beautiful? They have such a humble exterior, hiding away those lovely, thin layers.

In a passage I found so memorable in the book The Supper of the Lamb, Robert Farrar Capon writes about how to meditate on an onion. "Take one of the onion (preferably the best looking),... and sit down at the kitchen table.... To do it justice, you should arrange to have sixty minutes or so free for this part of the exercise. Admittedly, spending an hour in the society of an onion may be something you have never done before.... Onions are excellent company."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Molecular Gastronomy by Herve This [book review]

This month I have been dipping into Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor by Herve This as part of the Kitchen Reader book club. It is a guidebook about the chemistry and physics behind cooking processes. It reports on cooking experiments from a scientific and analytical standpoint.

There are 101 chapters! Each one concerns a discrete cooking question. What difference does it make to salt meat before or after adding it to a hot pan? What is the effect of resting the meat after boiling or frying it? What makes a souffle rise? What kind of wine makes the best marinades? What are the preferred cheeses for fondue?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Caramelised Cherry Tomatoes

Caramelised cherry tomatoes, otherwise known as my new easiest side dish. I have started a new job and I am working much longer hours than before. I have to admit that I gave up on cooking for a while. I bought fast food from the train station and enlisted the nearby delivery restaurants to keep us fed for a month. But too much food cooked outside my own kitchen starts to taste strange after a while. Enter: this laughably easy dish.

I bought some white fish to pan fry since that's a fast main dish. Then I added this Donna Hay recipe for caramelised cherry tomatoes. The idea is really that you pan fry some chicken or fish and remove it. Then deglaze the pan for two minutes with balsamic vinegar and halved cherry tomatoes. Then serve. That is all! Cooking the tomatoes add only two minutes to the overall time of making dinner. I served it on some courgette noodles (they were raw, and the balsamic juices warmed them a bit). That's the kind of fast food I need right now.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee [book review]

Our August Kitchen Reader book was Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America by Thomas J Craughwell. It's a history book that covers Jefferson's time in France before he was president of the USA. He was appointed minister to France for almost five years. This book shows that Jefferson was not only a diplomat, politician, founding father of the US and intellectual, he was also a gourmand.

When Jefferson went to France he took his slave, James Hemings. He made an arrangement with Hemings that if he learned French cookery and then returned to the USA with Jefferson to teach someone else, Jefferson would grant his freedom. The book promises to elaborate on the five years Hemings spent in Paris becoming a French chef in order to bring French cuisine back to America.

Sadly, the book is not really focused on Heming's cooking at all. Instead, it is an interesting book about Jefferson's public life in France and what he learned there. I suppose there is not much evidence remaining about Heming's life in Paris. The book is obviously well researched, but there is virtually nothing about the courses Hemings took, what he thought of Paris, and what he learned to cook. Overall, I was disappointed by this book, though if it had been presented as a book about Jefferson's love of food and his time in France it would have lived up to expectations.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Balsamic Chicken

My favourite camera lens is broken right now. I discovered this just after I plated this balsamic chicken and was ready to take pictures. My friend, Jess, was coming over to eat with Anthony and I; I had finished cooking about ten minutes early in order to snap some pictures. But after one shot, the camera showed an error message: "Communication between the camera and lens is faulty". Oh no!

I switched the camera off and on again (the universal fix for technology?). I was able to take one more picture (which is above) before the error message popped up again. However, the light meter and auto focus both didn't work, hence the courgettes are in focus and the chicken is not. In the end I decided that I really like this picture.... It's hugely overexposed but we'll just call that a "feature" and leave it at that!

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender [book review]

Each July in our food book club, The Kitchen Reader, we read a novel with a food-themed plot. This year we chose The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. It's about Rose, a girl who one day discovers that she can taste her mother's sadness in the food that she prepares for the family. Then she realises that in any food she can taste the emotions of whoever made it. It's a bit of a shock to her to discover things about her mother and others that were previously hidden. As Rose matures she learns a lot about herself and others.

As it turns out, this is a novel less about food than the title suggests. It is mostly a book that explores family relationships and growing up. Rose's ability to taste emotions makes explicit how confusing young people find it to see adult things for the first time. It is hard work growing up and navigating friendships, romantic feelings, a complicated family. And there are some food-related gems as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Roasted Carrot and Garlic Dip

Carrots are my favourite vegetable and I even contemplated photographing this carrot dip with carrot sticks for dipping. Because that is indeed one of the ways I ate it! But for this photo, I made cucumber dippers. My friend Michael showed me how to cut cucumber on a steep diagonal to make perfect chip-sized dippers. I am always looking for more ways to make vegetables feel like a natural part of fun eating. Cucumber dippers and carrot dip are great examples of fun vegetables!

And so there is no need for chips and salsa at your next snack attack or movie night. If you are searching for ways to eat more vegetables, try this easy carrot dip with veggie dippers. It's also good with sweet pepper strips, celery sticks, or even rectangles of the ribs of Chinese cabbage. (I have tried this and it was superb!)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Weekend Links #37

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every month. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--A long article I have been reading about fueling a marathon while eating paleo (from Ben Greenfield Fitness). And here's another take from Mark's Daily Apple.
--While we're on the topic of sports nutrition, I was reading about a couple who are rowing from California to Hawaii without sugar or "junk carbohydrates" (from Diet Doctor).
--A great post from A Veggie Venture that answers the question, "What is a tomatillo?" plus everything you need to know about them.
--Just before our three weeks away from home I was freezing everything left in the fridge and discovered you can even freeze quiche and tortilla chips (from The Kitchn).

recipe links:
--Macaroni and cheese made with Guinness, heavy cream, lots of cheese, and some crunchy barley (from Mutineer Magazine). What a combination!
--Ginger and chocolate ice cream (from Blogging Over Thyme). I love everything ginger, and pairing it with dark chocolate is perfect.
--I was investigating grain-free Yorkshire pudding recently and found a recipe (from The Saffron Girl) that looks like it is worth trying.
--The flaxseed crust on these mini quiches is a useful recipe to have on standby (from The Kitchn). Plus, mini quiches are good for breakfasts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sweet Potato Laksa

Singaporeans are food crazy. I would say that the two national pastimes here are shopping and eating. Locally born Singaporeans are called Peranakan; they are descendants of Chinese or Indian male immigrants who married Malay women in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries. Laksa is a traditional Peranakan curried soup, served over rice noodles.

Chinese Peranakan cooking blends Chinese ingredients with Malay sauces and spices. Peranakan food features shallots, chillies, preserved soybeans, prawn paste, and thick coconut milk. My favourite Paranakan dish is laksa. I like the tangy spice of the curry that is calmed (a little) by the coconut milk.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Banana Nut Porridge (grain-free)

I love sweet breakfast foods like pancakes, muffins, and porridge with fruit. But I am trying to eat less sugar and I have been mostly grain-free for about a year. As a result, I now have a good arsenal of low sugar (or sugar-free) and grain-free breakfast recipes. They still satisfy my sweetish tooth and give me the fat and protein I need at breakfast.

Here are some of my sweet breakfast ideas:
  • this banana nut porridge (pictured above, recipe below) has a whole egg whisked in the near the end of cooking, plus it is grain-free and has no sugar added
  • these banana coconut flour pancakes, the recipe for which is given as a formula based on how many ripe bananas you have on hand
  • these pumpkin and cranberry muffins, which are made with fresh or frozen cranberries and coconut flour, with pumpkin puree for moisture
  • this apple and cinnamon mini cake, which is made in the microwave and takes about five minutes including the preparation
  • this mango, banana, and coconut loaf, which introduced me to the idea of sugar-free eating (not grain-free)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Courgette and Ricotta Frittata

The last time I made a frittata, it tasted wonderful but it was a textural disaster. (Read all about it here: ginger and shiitake omelette.) This courgette (zucchini) and ricotta frittata was on the roster for our Wednesday with Donna Hay blogging group, and I was determined to improve upon my earlier attempt. As a result, I completely changed the procedure for making this frittata.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Frozen Grapes: a Refreshing Snack or a Tasty Drink Cooler

When it's hot outside, what's better than a icy snack? Or at the end of a hot day, do you like to enjoy a nice cool glass of white white as the sun goes down? I've discovered that freezing grapes makes them perfect for snacking and for keeping drinks cool.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pea and Mint Soup

File this one under "food that looks ugly but tastes good". It's a blended soup made with green peas (fresh or frozen), two small potatoes, and a big handful of fresh mint. My tongue was amazed at the vibrant flavour considering how dull-looking the soup was. The fresh mint was foremost and made me feel as though I was eating summer in a warm bowl. The peas jumped out at me next, with the smooth cream bringing up the rear.

Part of the reason the soup looked so terrible: I left on the skins of the potatoes. They were brown and made the resulting soup have a brownish tinge. I suppose that shows that I care more about the nutrition of my food than the beauty of the pictures. And I definitely care about taste!

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Moveable Feast [book review]

This month's Kitchen Reader book is A Moveable Feast, a collection of short pieces about food and travel. These are two topics that belong together. Travelling is often about trying new foods or enjoying a familiar food in a new context. These 38 little essays tell about small moments or big events; each one focuses on a particular place and the tastes that go with it.

The book is basically an encouragement to try local foods when you travel. As one writer puts it, "Every traveller's mantra is (or should be): Eat what your hosts eat, and then you'll understand them a lot better." The book is published by Lonely Planet; they know a thing or two about travelling and eating well.

The story that stuck with me the most was a very funny piece called "Long Live the King" by John T Newman. The writer is an American who was visiting the tiny Banda Islands, part of Indonesia (here's a map). They were previously known as the Spice Islands. While there he learned about the "queen of fruits" and the "king of fruits".

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage [book review]

I read most of our Kitchen Reader books on my Kindle. When I finish, I write my reviews by looking back over my highlights--usually about twenty passages that struck me while reading. I mark them so I can remember them later. While reading A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage I highlighted 78 passages! (And I still have two chapters out of twelve left to read!) This is a hugely informative book that I found fascinating. The main idea is that world history can be charted with the history of the six drinks that have been consumed by humans the most: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola.

In some cases, the history of these six drinks is a reflection of what was going on in human history in different periods. But in other ways, I have come to learn, history was made by these drinks. Many more world events than I realised were tied up with these six beverages.

I feel a little unequal to the task of summarising what I have read, thanks to those 78 highlights. So let me just try to say one or two things about each drink.

Beer, first consumed by ancient Middle Eastern peoples, made water safe to drink and also was a way of preserving grain. It rose to popularity with organised agriculture.

Wine was made by ancient Greeks and Italians and it played a key role in their rational ideas of civilised society and learning.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Weekend Links #36

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every month. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--Saveur's Best Food Blogs Awards highlight some incredible blogs. There are plenty of new-to-me reads here as well as many old favourites.

recipe links:
--How ingenious is this? A porridge recipe that has a blended egg whisked in during cooking. That sounds like a great way to add protein to your breakfast (from Natural Kitchen Adventures).
--I like the idea of a corn and parmesan cheese creme brûlée (from Tasty Kitchen).
--You can make your own electrolyte energy cubes for endurance sports like long distance running (from Healthful Pursuit).
--My friend at work made fermented ginger ale (from Wellness Mama). I want to make some too. I also really want to buy some nice flip-top bottles; hee hee!
--Also on my list of fermented foods to make: easy peasy probiotic pickles (from Sarah Ramsden).
--And finally, I should go back to making yogurt at home (pictured above).

books I'm reading:
--Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H Pink
--A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Baba Ghanoush

The Joy of Cooking taught me a lot about food; I have the 1953 version. But one piece of advice The Joy of Cooking gave no longer applies--there is no need to salt eggplants (aubergines) before cooking. New varieties of eggplant are much less bitter than in our grandmothers' days.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Pastrami Wraps with Cherry Tomato Salsa

This is a simple dinner or appetizer. I used soft but crunchy butterhead lettuce for the wraps, but you could use pitta bread or flatbread. The pastrami and cherry tomato salsa would also make an intriguing sandwich filling.

But I encourage you to try these pastrami wraps without the bread. I feel passionately about helping people eat more vegetables. This is the perfect time to try it! Since you're going to eat with your hands anyway, get in there and make some lettuce wraps. If your lettuce leaves are pretty small like mine, you will end up making about twice as many lettuce wraps as you would with bigger bread wraps.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin [book review]

This month's Kitchen Reader book is From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin (chosen by Pech of Pechluck’s Food Adventures). First, a confession: I have barely ever watched the Food Network. But that didn't stop me from reading about it and reporting back to you!

The book is a lengthy chronicle of the Food Network from before its birth until 2013. It's fascinating to read about the interplay of characters who shaped what it was and is. Even for me, with little background knowledge, the book was written in a way that allowed me to understand and enjoy the ups and downs.

I've decided to take a different format for this review. I'm going to share some quotations from the book and tell you what they made me think. I found that since I don't know much about the Food Network, I was always reading with a focus on how people reacted to food media as a whole. I found that a lot of the comments could be connected to food blogging (and food writing, magazines, and food entertainment as a whole). All my thoughts revolve around the question: What makes a good food-related story or TV idea?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shiitake Mushroom and Ginger Omelette

I was reminded this week that cooking is more an art than a science. I was making this mushroom omelette using a Donna Hay recipe online. It turned out very nice looking and it tasted great. But it was totally stuck to the pan. How frustrating.

The omelette was finished in the oven, as per the recipe. For this reason, you can't use a non-stick pan or any pan with a plastic handle. I don't own a cast iron pan, just the stainless steel one you see pictured. It's actually a great quality wedding gift with copper in the base, etc, etc. But sadly, there's no use touting its quality when half the egg is falling out of the pan in large, jagged bits and the rest is still stuck inside. Sigh.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tahini, Cumin, and Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Thighs

I am relatively new to chicken thighs. But now I have realised that they are beautifully moist and tender. In fact, I think they taste like real chicken in a way chicken breast never will.

Tahini is one of my long time favourite ingredients. I love its nutty taste and I find it is quite versatile. When you start throwing it in things, you realise that it can make a nice saucy texture to a finished dish, or give some depth to a dressing, or add bulk to a dip. It's a key ingredient in hummus and baba ghanoush.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Earth Day 2014

Earth Day is coming up on Tuesday, 22 April! Have you decided how you will mark the occasion? I have a few ideas for you!

My friend and colleague, Michael Broadhead, publishes a cookbook which is updated with a new edition each Earth Day. I urge you to go download a free copy from his website.

Earth Day gives us a chance to think about how what we do affects the earth and what we can do to be better stewards of our world. One key way to do this is to eat less meat. Or no meat at all. I want to encourage you to try a meatless month or week. Many people do a once-a-week meatless day on "Meatless Mondays". Another idea is to restrict animal products to one meal or item a day. One popular version of this is often called "Vegan before 6pm".

This year I was honoured to be the first guest recipe contributor to Michael's recipe book! I have a page on which I share a delicious vegan recipe for frozen banana cream pie. But my recipe is not the reason you should download Michael's book. Here are the recipes that caught my eye that I'm sure you will like.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thai Red Curry with Beef and Pumpkin

Cooking = Ingredients + Execution

In the case of this Thai red curry, the execution is very simple. Use only one big pot or pan and add things one at a time until it is all cooked.

As for ingredients, use a prepared red curry paste to make things both simple and authentic in taste. Add ingredients you have around the kitchen like beef (or another meat or protein) and vegetables (such as pumpkin or another root vegetable). Some sweet basil leaves and kaffir lime leaves (optional) add a nice little touch of differentiation from last night's easy dinner.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Art in the Kitchen

There are a few items of art in my kitchen. Out of the three things I am going to show you, two are food-themed and one is not.

The postcards above are from Ikea and have appeared on this blog before: three years ago when I gave you a tour of my Hong Kong kitchen. (The postcards were brought along when we moved to Singapore last year.) I love these postcards; I had them laminated so they would last longer in the kitchen.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Grain-Free Banana Pancakes

People are always asking me how I eat without grains. I have stopped eating any wheat, rice, oats or other grains. It was an experiment last year that really paid off in terms of my digestive health and energy levels. I'm not intolerant to any of these items, but I have come to believe that my body (and most others) are not designed to handle grains.

I get asked especially about breakfast. Breakfast food is full of grains: cereal, toast, pancakes, waffles, and muffins. Lots of times I avoid grains at breakfast by avoiding these foods. Instead I eat a lot of eggs and vegetables. Scrambled eggs with some green beans on the side. A salad with a hard boiled egg. Two fried eggs plus the leftover broccoli from last night.

But I also make grain-free versions of all our favourite breakfast items.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Baked Pear Custard

Aren't these little pears beautiful? I found them recently at our grocery store. They are called Honey Belles, from New Zealand. They are in season now in New Zealand.

Here in Singapore, we are half a degree above the equator, so there are no seasons. How can I eat seasonally? Is it even worth it?

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining by Colleen Rush

Our March Kitchen Reader book is The Mere Mortal’s Guide to Fine Dining: From Salad Forks to Sommeliers, How to Eat and Drink in Style Without Fear of Faux Pas by Colleen Rush. It is a book in the style of "for Dummies" books, with info boxes, side bars, and simple language. It's highly readable and amusing, and will likely teach you something. It touches on wine, menus, styles of restaurants, and etiquette. But let me sum up the whole book in just three points.

In any fine dining situation, whether you want to avoid missteps or enjoy the best meal of your year, all you need to do is:

1. Be polite with the staff.
2. Ask questions when you want to know something. Do so politely.
3. Express your gratitude for their service with your words and a tip.

And if you want to become a regular in an upscale restaurant and get the perks a regular gets, just add:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mexican Tomato and Garlic Soup

Sometimes I feel as though I don't have a particularly innovative food item to share, but I just want to remind myself and others that it is OK to eat simply. This is one of those dishes that is stupendously easy. It feels strange to revel in its simplicity. But this soup is both simple and outstanding.

There were four of us eating on a plain, calm Saturday. We were just enjoying being together and having a good old chat. This soup and a salad were the lunch we sat down to together. And it fit perfectly into our ordinary day, while amazing all four of us with its richness of flavour. This soup's motto is "store cupboard staples turned to sunshine." It is made with ingredients you probably already have in the pantry and it will bring a warming dose of Mexican sun to the table.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Portrait With Your Favourite Food

I'm going to assume that since you read food blogs, you take pictures of food. Do you take pictures of yourself with food? Yes, all food lovers do, don't we? I certainly do!

These giant peaches were on the side of the road in Cromwall, New Zealand. We were travelling along the highway and I pulled over with a screech to take these pictures. My husband, Anthony, has learned to indulge these kinds of things!


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