Burma or officially Myanmar is on my travel list for the longest time. Unfortunately, it will be a while before I can make a trip there. In the meantime, I savour bits of Burma via their food. Recently, I was bestowed with Naomi Duguid’s Burma. I have yet to finish reading the (cook)book but I am quite taken by the pictures and the recipes. As Burma shares her border with China, India, Thailand and Bangladesh, Burmese cooking involves ingredients such as shallots, fish sauce, and limes that are familiar to those of us in Singapore. However, the preparation for some of the dishes is unique to Burma.
When I first started cooking, I would follow recipes to a tee. I would make sure I have all the ingredients, measure them carefully and read the cooking steps over and over again. Over time, as I gained confidence (and laziness) in the kitchen, I almost never use the exact ingredients and steps stated in a recipe.
I have a little black book. No, it does not contain any deep, dark secrets. Rather, in this notebook, I have written down recipes that I wanted to try. And one that has been staring at my face for the longest time was a quick bread recipe–Bill Granger’s coconut bread.
I have been contributing to Chubby Hubby for almost a year. During this time, I have been secretly and subtly trying to introduce the wonderful world of vegetables to you. And I really thought no one would notice. Recently I met up with Charmaine, our incredible editor at Chubby Hubby and she mentioned that almost all the recipes that I contributed are vegetarian or vegan. Busted.
During my recent trip to Norway and Denmark, I discover the Scandinavians consume a lot of open-faced sandwiches for their lunches. One of the Danish cafés, Aamanns, that I visited specialises in open-faced sandwiches or what the Danish called smørrebrød. They simply take a plain piece of rye bread and pimp it up by topping it with seasonal produce and make it delicious. The combination of the fillings is genius yet uncomplicated.
As a home cook who cooks almost every day, thinking about what to prepare for lunch or dinner can sometimes be a tiresome affair. Though I have a mini repertoire of dishes that I have on rotation, I know that sooner or later, I will get bored, frustrated and give up cooking (okay, maybe not that serious).
If you manage to get hold of a bag of Meyer lemons, you will know how precious they are. That is why I fully utilise these lemons inside out and top to bottom. While making the Meyer lemon cream, I needed to use an extra lemon for the juice. Before I juiced the fruit, I saved the zest and kept it in the freezer for later use.
Whenever I plan a meal, I will usually look at what happens to be available in my fridge or pantry, and cook up the meal from what’s already there. I rarely buy a truckload of ingredients to make that one dish. However, if I happen to chance upon an ingredient that I have been dying to try, I will make that effort. This time, I got my hands on a stinky French cheese, Reblochon* and I am certainly super excited about using it.
My current food obsession is “burning” fruit and vegetables. I bet you are scratching your head and wondering what is wrong with me and why I’m destroying perfectly good food. Actually, by exposing certain fruit and vegetables to open fire or high heat can actually intensify the taste or change the flavour profile. So next time, when you roast a chicken, put in some halved lemons. After roasting, you will realise the juice has transformed from one that is high in acidity to a mild sweet-sour liquid (which you can use to dress salad or squeeze over the roasted chicken).
A couple of years ago, my friend Lynda gifted me with a canvas tote bag that had a quirky and beautifully illustrated print. It was a gorgeous print of a loaf of bread with its Chinese name enclosed in dotted boxes. I thought the design was pretty ingenious. If you were in primary school back in the 1980s (yes, you can start figuring out my age), the bag will bring back memories of writing Chinese characters within the dotted boxes and figuring out the correct hanyu pinyin (汉语拼音). Another huge reason why I love this bag is because it features one of my favourite things to bake – bread. This is one foodie gift I greatly enjoy carrying around.