Heading to a potluck dinner later armed with this salad — a medley of roast portobello mushrooms, pasta spirals, rocket, cherry tomatoes, olives and crumbled feta. I pretty much follow a standard green + red + black + white/yellow colour formula when it comes to salads, and top everything off with olive oil, basil and lemon juice.
Feta fort, pre-crumble stage.
I wanted to keep it healthy and opted not to use butter on the mushrooms, so I compensated for the flavour by roasting the mushrooms with slices of lemon peel. The oils in the lemon peel lent a subtle, zesty kick which tasted very nice and clean.
Had a bowl of the goods for lunch for a taste-test, and I liked it! I’m not very good at scaling up ingredients though, so I’m worried that the large bowl I’ve packed will be too dry. Packed some extra lemon wedges and feta crumbles to go, just in case!
Couldn’t wait to share this amazing video by Bruton Stroube Studios — i’ve never seen a more beautiful mess! After you’re done checking that out, there’s a cute behind-the-scenes video here. What did you have for breakfast today? I slept through the morning and well past noon, thanks to a bout of insomnia, but I’d willingly wake up early for a delicious spread and bowls of dark berries!
We made chicken pot pies for dinner today and I love how they turned out! These are essentially a ridiculously easy version of savoury pies, with the warm filling spooned into a ramekin or bowl before puff pastry is draped over the top and tucked into the rims. For the filling, my mum made a great stew with chicken, diced potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and peas, with knobs of butter and condensed mushroom soup to thicken the gravy. For an extra touch of decadence, every filled ramekin got a halved hard-boiled egg on top before being covered with pastry.
If you’re not fussy about using store-bought puff pastry, this makes great, light comfort food for students on a tight time schedule and budget. The filling can also be anything you like, from ground beef to a hearty bowl of chowder! Extra dough is also always super fun to play with — Alexandra topped one with an extra round of dough, making it a pie-disguised-as-giant-cupcake, and I made a ‘T’ on another for a family initial! Thank goodness we made extra, because I think we’re all about to go for seconds!
1. I protest! What about tea drinkers? 2. Excellent lattes + egg sandwich for veg man 3. Salami Ciabatta with a really good sweet chili relish 4. Darling’s Eggs 5. Snow Ice, thing of beauty!
Monday: a nice brunch at The Plain, and lots of walking from Duxton to Ann Siang Hill to Chinatown. In between there was mango snow ice and green tea snow ice with azuki to be had, and we eventually settled down for coffee, citrus tea, and a mediterranean puff at Far East Square. During the afternoon we talk about the thesis I seem to be running away from, and also hear lots of baby stories about W’s new niece. Privately, I think about how much I have missed being at school with these friends, and how it feels nice to be honest with people about fears that don’t seem so scary once shared.
Some conversations have become so polite lately — how was school? what internship are you taking? how much is he making, wow we are so old, aren’t we? It makes me sad. Seeing faces from years ago makes me feel as if time has stopped and we’re the same kids trying to conquer love and run away from P.E. class. Suddenly, grown-up words come out of our mouths and the illusion is shattered, and I feel older than ever. I picture a dystopian future of silently comparing HDB flats, successes, and CARS (god forbid!), a future I will firmly reject. Then again, there are people who ask those same how-are-you questions with so much warmth and honesty, I cannot help but be humbled by the size of their hearts. In a time of material change, these steadfast souls are pure gold.
Daytime jaunts to Sacramento from Davis were one of the best things ever, just like this lovely little French cafe in downtown Sacramento on 8th street. Late night supper pangs made me think of the simple, but superb lunch I had here with Anna – warm brie and prosciutto, and french garlic sausage sandwiches, with a creme brulee each. Yes, each. We’re talking pure calorie luxury here, people!
In an attempt to bring back some taste memories, I googled it, but found that La Bonne Soupe Cafe has closed its doors!! The owner and only chef, Daniel Pont, cited health reasons. That day, he kindly let us stay on past closing time, and we are so lucky to have have been able to sample his famous sandwiches! To me, they were the exact definition of what good food should be: gentle flavours that melded together for a real taste symphony, a wholesome bite, perfectly warm and completely humble. I’m also a firm believer that the best food is also eaten with the hands, crumbs and all!
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The question on everyone’s minds + homemade brown sugar granola
Coming back to Singapore felt like waking up from a lucid dream. Since then I’ve been waiting to feel like things are going back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is now), but life has only grown increasingly unreal. This week saw me spending more time in the kitchen (bee hoon dinner for the family, granola and french onion soup), editing my resumé, and scanning old magazine pages to reclaim the few public, printed words I have to my name. At the same time, the home that I know outside the walls of my apartment is changing. The only words I have to describe the political atmosphere are: immense and intense. Everybody has an opinion now, and it’s hard to read the @stcom headlines without scoffing.
I am embarrassed to admit that I have hardly been interested in the state of governance. The only election memories I own are of walkover non-events, and once, watching my mother walk towards polling booths from behind the window of a car. The thing is, I don’t think I’m alone. But judging by the countless RTs and facebook notes, my generation (if not the whole country!) is experiencing a political awakening, watching rallies, asking important questions. That alone is a triumph! I can only hope that come 7th May, we’re all making an educated decision, marking a cross somewhere that matters.
Chinese American food, pfft. When my family and I arrived in Davis for the first time, we found ourselves in a little chinese restaurant and had crab rangoons – fried crab meat and cream cheese dumplings – for appetizers. The idea of crab and cheese in Chinese food was pretty weird to me, and didn’t feel right on our tongues. Last sunday though, my housemate Anna changed my mind! She is a genius, and whipped up a batch to serve at the hotpot lunch party on sunday. So good! The crab helps bring down the richness of the cream cheese, and biting into these hot little pockets of smooth filling is immensely satisfying. Homemade is really always better. We had some leftovers so we had a scaled-down hotpot dinner of our own and all stood around the stove feeling very happy. Anna’s crab rangoons were the star of the night! My tummy and I are both very happy that this girl is living in the room across the hall.
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It’s been one of those weeks. Being on exchange doesn’t save me from midterm blowout, and after a week of struggling with assignments and writing in stifling academic journal science-speak, I was ready for two things: a luxurious long nap, and a treat for my taste buds.
The thing is though, by the time you’re done worrying about work, no one really has the energy or time to be stirring caramel custards for thirty minutes straight, or washing up buttered pots, pans and baking trays. This recipe is best for those moments. A warm, rustic dessert that is comforting, easy, and so nourishing for the soul. It only took me ten minutes (prep time included, not that there is very much prep to begin with!) to make a large batch of the crumble topping. Now there is a handy box of it sitting in my freezer, so I can have a pick-me-up whenever some healing is required. You can even bake single portions of this in a toaster oven, which is what I do when I’m at home in Singapore. Humble ingredients, pre-made components, fast, delicious, and no guilt involved — my idea of a perfect dessert!
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Tartine Bakery & Cafe / 600 Guerrero St, San Francisco.
Highlight of the trip, nay, my entire life’s worth of dessert-demolishing experience!! This is the banana cream tart ($6.50) from Tartine bakery in The Mission district of San Francisco. It’s made up of a four inch flaky pastry cup that’s lined with thin layers of solid chocolate and caramel on the inside. Thick, plentiful banana slices are housed in pastry cream and a light, sweet banana custard, which are sloppily, but artfully piled onto the pastry base. Unapologetic chocolate shavings finish it off. The ingredients are pretty humble, but this is perfection. Fresh, fresh, perfection. The pastry is buttery and just firm enough to break into chunks instead of crumbling into flakes, and the chocolate on the inside of the tart helps to hold it together. The banana slices are the right size for eating whole, the cream is the most heavenly cream I’ve ever tasted. Everything hangs in a beautiful, fragile balance.
One thing I’ve come to appreciate is that truly good food is never in-your-face. The day before hitting Tartine, Andrea and I shared a Reese’s Peanut Butter cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory in San José. That cake was a masterpiece, layers of fudge cake, cheesecake, and peanut butter – sweet, salty and rich all at once – but all clamouring for room on your tongue. Whether it was this banana cream tart, or the cheese and pear sandwich from Cowgirl Creamery during my last visit, they all hit the spot because the satisfaction grows with every bite. You slowly realise that chefs are complete masters of the art of temptation. Their MO is to gently charm you with subtle but novel tastes, coaxing you into a second, third bite and beyond. Your fork keeps scooping up more, you want to replicate the same flavour burst you had in your previous mouthful, and you succeed because the food never disappoints. Reluctantly you put your fork down when it’s all gone and your legs carry you away from the table, but you know your tongue and heart have been smitten. That sweetness will be on your mind for a while.
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As we drove into San Francisco, my heart did a happy jiggle for two reasons: finally, a visual reunion with skyscrapers, and with the city I fell in love with in 2003 for it’s colorful, pretty streets. This time, I wanted to revisit old loves and have a more intimate experience with San Francisco. It started the moment we got off the amtrak service bus, felt the buzz and breeze, and jumped around in excitement. Definitely not an expert, but most of the places I hit this time are slightly more off the tourist track, and I loved my relaxed weekend there. Did my homework for this trip, hopefully this will be useful for any other explorers waiting for their own SF love affair. Picture heavy and long!!
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