Toddler Food: Barley Grits Porridge

Toddler Food

Like many Chinese children, I grew up eating plenty of porridge (which, in the Chinese context, is savoury and usually made with white rice). It’s the sort of dish I still find comfort in when I’m feeling under the weather. But it’s not the one dish I’d pick if I had to eat only one thing for the rest of my life. Continue Reading →

Cashew Nut Pesto

Pesto at its best is fresh, piquant, zingy, creamy, and surprisingly luxurious. It’s comforting for me to know I always have a jar of it in the fridge because it’s not only incredibly tasty and versatile, it also helps me put meals together instantly. To fuel my pesto obsession, I currently have fifteen basil plants growing in my garden. Yet I still use them up too quickly! Pesto effortlessly jazzes up roasted new potatoes, steamed broccoli/french beans/asparagus and it’s utterly delicious paired with mozzarella or avocado in a toastie. Continue Reading →

Classic British Flapjacks

I have a thing for British food personalities. Maybe I’m drawn to their accent, the way they speak with their hands and how easy they make cooking seem. Or it could just be because familiarity breeds liking; they get tonnes of airtime on TV, and their countless glossy cookbooks dominate the food section in bookstores. For whatever the reason, these guys first got me hooked on cooking and eating when I was in my teens, and today, a lot of what I do in the kitchen is still inspired by them. Continue Reading →

Family Food: Easy Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

If you’ve been put off by bland tasting quinoa salads (as I have), this recipe for roasted vegetable and quinoa salad may just change your mind. For the longest time, I put the blame on quinoa itself. Despite that fact that quinoa is a complete protein high in fibre, iron and magnesium—an all-round superfood—I’d avoided it like the plague for many years because the first time I’d eaten quinoa, I felt like I was being punished. It tasted like damp cardboard someone had forgotten to season. Continue Reading →

A delicious and nutritious roasted vegetables tray bake

A bowlful of roasted spuds would qualify as comfort food for most. My perfect potato nugget is crisp on the outside, creamy and fluffy on the inside, cooked in olive oil, and seasoned generously with sea salt and black pepper. My cheeky son, A, doesn’t quite fancy white potatoes, but absolutely adores sweet potatoes. Roasting intensifies their sweetness, turning them super caramelised and downright addictive. He prefers sweet potato fries/nuggets to steamed rice anytime, and requests for them about once a week. I’m always happy to oblige, considering how nutritious they are.

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Haru Cooking Class: A lesson in Japanese home cooking in Kyoto

Japanese Home Cooking Class

Japanese home cooking may be pretty simple, but if you haven’t had the chance to witness the actual practice of preparing the dishes, there are always nuances that are lost when you just follow a recipe. This is often exacerbated by the inevitable inaccuracies of translation. How you work out what kind of starch is used to dust tofu for frying, gauge whether oil has been heated to the right temperature for deep frying tempura or whether you’ve wrapped your gyoza correctly is made so much clearer when an expert shows you how to do it and talks you through the process as you try your hand at it. It’s doubly useful when the person guiding you speaks the same language that you do. This is why Haru Cooking Class in Kyoto is such a gem of a find. Continue Reading →

Pantry Basics: Roll Cake (ロールケーキ)

Japanese roll cake

When my toddler, T, had his first taste of this roll cake his wee face broke into a wide smile that lit up his eyes and entire face. Like him, I can’t seem to get enough of this light-as-a-feather roll cake. Asian incarnations of the Swiss roll are decidedly lighter than their European forebear. The Japanese, in particular, have catapulted the roll cake (ロールケーキ or ro-ru keiki) into another stratosphere. Their roll cakes tend to be lightly, rather than assertively sweetened. And they have a soft, delicate texture and moist, fine crumb I absolutely love. I was heartbroken when the Arinco stall in the basement of Ion where I had indulged in many a salted caramel roll cake air-flown from Japan closed down. Continue Reading →

Power Breakfasts: Basic Whole Wheat Waffles

On lazy weekends or holiday mornings, I like to make my family a more indulgent breakfast. Something they don’t get to enjoy everyday, but a recipe that’s still quick and easy to put together. When my cheeky son, A, gets a choice, he very often asks for waffles. Continue Reading →

One to share: buttery Broyé du Poitou biscuit

My French family is full of ancestral tradition, and when I visit they always seem to pull out an old recipe that to them seems the epitome of simplicity, and to me seems exquisite and mysterious. The Broyé du Poitou – an old, old recipe for a buttery biscuit coming from the Poitou region of western France – is one such little treasure. Continue Reading →

Family Food: Steamed Savoury Custard Master Recipe

zheng shui dan

Whether I’m making chawanmushi (茶碗蒸しwhich broadly means ‘steamed in a teacup’ but specifically refers to Japanese steamed savoury custard), zheng shui dan (蒸水蛋 or steamed eggs), egg tofu or a savoury custard of my own invention, my base ratio for the custard ingredients is 1 egg to 100ml liquid. With this master recipe, the custard consistently retains a meltingly delicate quiver that possibly accounts for its comforting, nursery-food like qualities. And it takes just 20 minutes to steam. Continue Reading →

Getting the kids to eat fish: broccoli mash with white fish crumble

When I was pregnant, people were constantly asking me to imagine what kind of child I was going to have. “What if he doesn’t have all of his limbs?” my fellow pregnant friends would worry. “What if he is ugly?” others would wonder. But for me, the most troublesome and scary thought of all was: “what if he doesn’t like food?!”

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