Home Cooking, Baking Disasters & Simple Dinners
What do foodies do when they’re not eating out? Well… they actually cook at home!
Here’s a collection of simple dishes and home cooking projects that my friends and I have been up to for the past month or so. We’re not accomplished cooks by any means, but I thought it might just be nice to share the blunders, mischiefs and lessons learnt in our kitchens. For the wicked amongst you readers, you will probably find the baking disasters section of this quite entertaining. ;)
In My Kitchen
I followed Ashley’s footsteps and have started making a lot of healthy smoothies this winter. My earlier concoctions were quite disastrous… spinach + yoghurt + peanut butter + banana anyone? But after more experimentation, I seemed to have fallen in love with the simple (almost vegetarian) combination of avocado and beetroot. How brunchy!
Being lazy, I used precooked baby beets, put everything into a blender with a bit of milk… and blitzed it. No sugar is required. The resulting smoothie comes out creamy, gently sweet with that light-rooted touch of earthiness from the beetroot. Delicious.
I’ve also been hit with the therapeutic itch to bake this year. When I feel moody, I find that baking calms the spirit. Here’s a banana olive oil cake that I made after a tiring 11 hour day at work. I learnt that while baking with olive oil is healthy, you don’t really taste the olive oil’s fruitiness in the end product.
The cold month of July also saw me trying two new things. Rhubarb’s an ingredient that I love eating, but never really knew how to cook it, so it was time to try using rhubarb in my kitchen! I bought myself a bundle of rhubarb to bake with.
This winter, I’ve been overeating and not exercising nearly enough, so I followed Ms I-Hua’s footsteps and made cauliflower rice, you can read her recipe here. This low calorie substitute for rice actually worked very well for me and I enjoyed having my homecooked curry chicken with it.
I also made lamb shank stew… rich, tomatoey, and augmented with herbs from the balcony garden. To be honest, this year, the Asian in me didn’t really warm up to this hearty Western dish. I would’ve preferred a spicy winter curry, Korean kimchi stew, Japanese sukiyaki, or sup kambing(mutton soup).
Baking and cooking more also meant that I can partake in food swaps with my friends. Here’s a slice of my rhubarb clafoutis that I gave in exchange for Fakegf’s delicious truffled macaroni and cheese, complete with shavings of real truffle!
A few weeks later, I once again swapped with Fakegf. Here’s her moist moist chickpea brownies (kudos to Ashley for the recipe). In exchange, I passed her some of my (bastardised) Chinese vegetarian stir-fry. It’s interesting how I’ve been having strange cravings to eat vegetarian food for the past month or so.
I wonder if this is just an accidental phase, or if my food journey is taking a rather big change in direction?
Actually, the food swapping between Fakegf and I has been quite prolific. Last Sunday, I passed her some homemade Thai green curry. Pictured left was an odd ingredient in the curry paste recipe that I used – coriander root! In exchange, Fakegf passed me her yummy homebaked custard puffs a few days later.
This is probably the section you’re
gleefully looking forward to. I used to censor my cooking and baking disasters, but these days, I’m leaning towards thinking: “what the heck! Why not share with everyone the crappy CRAPPY dishes I’ve made??”.
The funniest disaster was my attempt at making cupcakes/muffins. This is what happens when you don’t follow the recipe and decide to substitute self raising flour with plain flour. *boom tish*! It didn’t even rise a single millimeter… ha ha ha!!
Housemate Nha was making egg curry from scratch at home and she tried to make naan bread to go with it. The resulting ‘flat bread’ turned out looking more like a dense, lumpy wife cake. She admitted that it probably needed a lot more kneading before being put into the oven.
I tried to replicate Fakegf’s spectacular cherry clafoutis. Unfortunately, my clafoutis looked more like a fugly, pock-marked teenage disaster and the middle of it did not cook through. It tasted awful… ha ha!
What My Friends Have Cooked
Fakegf’s partner (The Angmoh) planned to make BBQ roast duck one evening, and I shamelessly muscled myself into that dinner affair. He used Billy Law’s recipe… it was delicious.
The Angmoh also made homemade pizzas and they drove over to pass me a slice… how sweet of them. And pictured right is Nha’s homemade Goan-style yellow egg curry… it was beautiful. It involved chopping fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger and lots of lovely spices. I would like to replicate that dish.
Nha has really flexed her muscles in the kitchen and I’m lucky that I get to sample many of her dishes. On the left is a gentle vegetarian pilaf and on the right is a delightfully piquant fettuccine puttanesca.
Finally, Winston, Fakegf, The Angmoh and myself have been having the occasional dinner potluck, where we each would cook a simple dish and get together for dinner on a week night.
Winston hosted this meal at his place… he made food from his home in Borneo. Wok-fried oily veggies, a naturally sweet beetroot soup…
…and his dad’s signature grilled chicken wings (with rose wine and five spice). I loved all of his dishes, they’re different from the dishes that my own home in Singapore would cook, but I could taste how comforting the dishes are to him… and to myself.
On my side, I brought over a simple serve of roast charsiu (BBQ pork)…
…while The Angmoh cooked a pretty authentic (and spicy) mapo tofu, and Fakegf made dessert – a pineapple upside down cake.
It was a very good meal and I hope we get to do these simple dinners together more. Winston made me laugh… we were teasing him about spending so much time taking photos of (and Instagramming) his food, his response was “my camera has to eat also!”.
This post is a bit of an inside glimpse into what my friends and I have been up to in our kitchens. In fact, you might’ve already noticed that I tend to append a little titbit of home cooking at the end of my blog posts. Sharing my thoughts about restaurants is one thing, but it’s also nice to show you what foods we eat at home. It isn’t fancy fare and it tells you that we’re just ordinary people with a passion for food, and our share of cooking disasters. Still, we try our best to have fun in our little kitchens. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!