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.
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?!”
My wife S and I used to entertain a lot. In the old days, before we had our first child, we had no problem dedicating several days (or nights) preparing to wow our friends with an amazing multi-course feast. But these days, time is scarce. We need recipes that can either be thrown together pretty quickly the evening of, or whose components can be prepped way in advance, ready to be combined à la minute. Recently, I’ve come across a really delicious, quick and easy dessert that I simply adore. A little artful plating and this dish of honey-roasted pineapple with pistachios and yogurt looks like something you’d get in a fancy restaurant. Which is perfect for capping off an evening of entertaining.
Over the years, my gorgeous and svelte wife S has continuously pressured me to make lighter and healthier pasta dishes. You see, my default, when it comes to pasta, has always been rich and creamy. That’s just the way I like’m. But as I’ve aged and the pounds have become harder and harder to keep off, I have to admit that I’m finally seeing the wisdom in my beloved’s request. My favourite non-creamy, light, but still flavour-packed pasta recipe right now is a crab tagliatelle with an aromatic shellfish broth.
I didn’t attempt to make my own yoghurt until I had our son, T. We always had some in our fridge, but I guess it never occurred to me that it would be worth the effort to make my own. Prompted by a desire to minimize T’s exposure to additives as he started on his first solids, I tried a recipe I found in a baby food cookbook that was unfortunately a dismal failure. But Google, combined with a mother’s obsessive compulsion can be a powerful thing. The outcome: the unearthing of a recipe from Harold McGee—master of culinary science and precision. A version of it (see below) now resides in my mobile phone.
Since T has come along, I spend significantly less time in the kitchen. The elaborate, time-consuming recipes requiring a fully sentient being to execute have taken a backseat. In fact, I have a roster of quick recipes I keep on my mobile phone that I keep returning to. Some of them are just notes or lists of ingredients that help remind me of what I usually put into a dish; others are full recipes replete with my tweaks and adaptations. Having them always on hand makes it easier for me to throw something together when my head is stuck in a cloud of sleep deprivation. This granola recipe based on Molly’s adaptation of Nekisia Davis’ is one of them.
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