Gingersnaps

Some dreams are made of these
Hi, how have you been? I know it's been a while. I've been so disconnected from blogging and photography that I didn't know how or where to start. Then came a big kid and a small boy that had to be satisfied with gold fish crackers that did it for me. I baked, photographed and blogging now in the same breath, as thrilled as the first day of Christmas ripping open presents like there's no tomorrow! 

These gingersnaps (or rather ginger buttons) are for my work mates, as with last year's Christmas tradition. They are wonderfully crisp around the edges but soft inside. The dough is incredibly soft (even after refrigeration) so you can't really roll it out, instead shape them in balls and press it down with the edge of your palm. If you prefer the traditional large, soft cookies to mould fancy shapes, try this instead.

Thank you Robin and Andrea for always reminding me of my passion. And thank you Peggy for the lovely enamel plates (and everything else wonderful you've done in between) :)

Merry Christmas!

Sesame-Coated Pumpkin Pancakes

Sticky and chewy
Following the pumpkin butter cake, my next project on the kabocha (smaller Japanese breed of pumpkin with slightly more yellowish flesh) I consciously pick a gluten-free pumpkin recipe for Peggy :) Though it's not about health (it's in all yummy deep-fried galore!) but more to living with an allergy that I think everyone should be aware of. Oh the sesame seeds are for me, black ones help (apparently) in keeping my hair shiny :)

Gluten is composed of sticky proteins found in wheat and sensitive intestines are unable to breakdown the structure hence causing inflammation and great discomfort, until it passes out from the system (which invariably can take days). Read more about it here

Since we discovered that Peggy is gluten intolerant, we realised the myriad of food that are no longer accessible, including everyday pasta and bread but also sneaky soy sauce (yep it contains wheat for a smoother texture! not just made of soy beans). It's still possible to live deliciously :) But it clearly has its own set of challenges on substitute and knowing every ingredient in the dish (especially in restaurants and street food). 

I hope more people are aware of it because this is a very real allergy though it doesn't cause immediate death, it shouldn't be taken lightly! With greater awareness, the wider public can help people like Peggy in lessening the risks of ingesting gluten or even better, by making more yummy dishes! Gluten-free blogs that I love and admire are Scandi Foodie, The Intolerant Chef and probably the pioneer, Gluten Free Girl.
Eat more sesame seeds :)

Weekend Herb Blogging #281


This week's round up is the most delicious :) It makes a complete 5-course meal with 12 recipes to choose from, ah decisions decisions! From starters, appetizers to mains and all the way to dessert. On that note I shall arrange it according to the sequence of it being served :)

Pumpkin Butter Cake

Buttery and velvety
I've decided to tackle a pumpkin this long weekend, in the form of 3 recipes, mainly due to the size (but only 1.5 kg that is) and each recipe requires pretty much only a quarter or more. The first portion was without a doubt awarded to the recipe that I've bookmarked the moment Ann teased us on her Facebook! It's exactly the way it's described, smooth and dense with a perfect velvety bite :)

But wait, there was clearly a large problem before that! Being a pumpkin-noob, I took a look at my blunt cleaver and back at the pumpkin, a moment of pure intimidation and panic loomed -- what-have-I-just-carried home! But the story obviously ended well since I managed to produced this lovely cake :) I merely adapted sheer force with the edge of the cleaver to break into the flesh, with the other end (not the knife) flying across the kitchen!

No prize for guessing which piece hit the floor ;)

Chunky Purple Majesty Potatoes

Gorgeous in purple, blue and hints of fuchsia :)
Oh did you watch the royal wedding yesterday? It was just stunning and even the dreary clouds parted for the sun to shine at the very moment Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge!) arrive at Westminster Abbey! Peggy was lucky to be at Hyde Park celebrating with the rest of Britain ;)

I didn't time this post to be up the day after, it is after all just a humble tuber with a majestic name and with like, only 10 times the level of antioxidants relative to its white cousin! Surely that makes it a royal of the potatoes :)

I first made this side to accompany Duck and Orange Gastrique but this recipe calls for an encore any day with any meat dish

Duck with Orange Gastrique

I passed by an unfamiliar butchery on a work errand downtown this week and it was such a great find! It's quite rare to find a butchery in Singapore that sells slabs of duck breast (whole duck is much more common) that I just had to pick up two pieces. Even though it meant that I had to carry the fresh meat to a work studio after and borrowed a little space in their fridge, with raised eyebrows from my colleagues no less! Heheh...

After my first attempt at roasting a whole duck , I think I deserve something easier :) Gastrique is not really anything fancy, it just means reduction of vinegar and sugar. And what could possibly go better with duck than orange (think Julia Child)! So easy is in and Julia Child is out of the question, instead I found this duck and orange recipe by Martha Stewart with just 4 ingredients yet produces maximum flavour. And you can't deny the chic factor in this dish right ;)

Pasta with Smoked Salmon

As promised, I found the most fitting recipe to go with my home-cured Gravlax. Imagine this being the only dish on my mind for the past two days. Boy am I hungry today! Quickly unbagged the salmon slices and drain away the briny juice. Did you remember to turn it every 12-hours? Well I did only once! With the over-flow of brine I honestly think it shouldn't make too big a difference ;)

The trick to savour Gravlax is to slice it as thin as possible. This way, you don't feel that it's too salty or too fishy. Feel free to also clear away the dill and crushed white peppercorn if it's cramping your style :)

Actually, the full title of this post should be Angel Hair Pasta with Smoked Salmon (Gravlax), Rocket, Lemon and Capers in Spicy Oil. There. I couldn't possibly think of how to fit it in the title space hence my poor summary of this dish that does absolutely no justice to describe how flavourful (hence perfect!) it is :) In fact this will be the only dish for the rest of the week, well until we run out Gravlax that is...

Gravlax (Dill-cured Salmon)

Happy long weekend :) I've been so busy this week that I'm totally disengaged from the blogsphere. I apologise for not visiting  many of your blogs or responded to any comments. I hope it'll ease off a little before the ultimate crunch time in June and July! 

Haalo has invited me to host this coming Weekend Herb Blogging and I'm thrilled to be hostess to the mostess :) So send in your dish today onwards (photo width 300px) to whb@honestvanilla.com and I'll round it up after May 1. 

To kick start this event, I've cured (or rather still curing in my fridge) salmon to make the infamous Gravlax. Yep that's the same dish popularised by Ikea. The main ingredient is a wonderful herb called dill. It has green wispy leaves with a soft, sweet taste. It's also a flavourful way to help prevent bone loss! 

Pan-seared Scallops with White Wine and Lemon

My dear friend Huei has a few upgrade in life recently, including moving into a new apartment and a brand new car to swish around Leeds in style :) In order to help her celebrate her new pad, I'm preparing a simple recipe with an old favourite of hers, scallops!

I'll admit that the Scallop with Celery Root Puree might just require a tad too much work on the first night in a shiny new place. So here's another scallop recipe that's much easier to start off without breaking a sweat! What I like most about this recipe is that the white wine is readily there to be enjoyed after cooking :)

Chewy Green Tea Chip Cookies

Oh Kermit, it's so awesome being Green!
I love all things green tea! As long as it's green tea, I'm game to try, good or bad (well nothing bad so far). I always stop for a piece of green tea glazed Paris-Brest on the way to my regular bakery supply store, always. Sometimes I even make up excuses just to buy, let's say plain flour? Which I can honestly get from the local grocery.  

It's utterly inconvenient to make a detour (or excuses) all the time and I'm resolute to put the addiction to a stop (or at least try)! I figure the only way is to have a regular supply of green tea goodies. So here comes the chewy green tea chip cookies. It's soft chewy cookies except with pipe-your-own green tea chips! Yes really! And it's easier than you think :)

Bouillabaisse (Mediterranean Fish Stew)

On a seafood streak ;)
When I was in university, I had a close shave with a little town call La Rochelle. It's a seaport in western France, approximately 3 hours away from Paris. I seriously contemplated pursuing a Masters degree with the local university having met the professors and fellow students, but it was not to be as I wasn't willing to step away from my comfort zone.

Bouillabaisse reminds me very much of La Rochelle, though it's originated from Marseille, the largest seaport in France. Just like any fishing community, there's always a staple stew filled with catch of the day that wins every one's heart. As with this recipe, the seafood used are flexible and the ones listed are what I have from the fresh market today. Oh and you must try making the rouille too, the stew will not be complete without it :) In fact, I love rouille so much that it'll be my condiment for bread dip and salad for the rest of the week!

I wonder what and where would I be if I had enough courage and had chosen La Rochelle instead. Will I even be blogging today? :)

Miso Clams

Some days are simple and quiet...
I took Friday off to run some errands but mostly just to enjoy a little time off. I think lunch should reflect exactly how I feel today, quiet in ingredients with clams and dashes of green yet robust in taste accentuated by a dip of chili, spring onion and thyme. Like what Jon said about his new cooking philosophy, let the food do the talking. It definitely holds true for this recipe. I don't think I've had a better day in a while :)