Saturday, April 18, 2015

An Omelette and a Glass of Wine by Elizabeth David [book review]

Elizabeth David was an English food writer after the Second World War who revolutionized food writing in the UK. She was highly opinionated and very judgemental of the British food of her time. She spent a lot of time in Europe and praised the ingredients and preparation of regular restaurants there as being far superior to that of the UK. She lauded the "peasant" food of the Mediterranean, and paid vast sums to have fresh produce imported from Europe; this wasn't a luxury available to ordinary British families. David was not interested in reaching ordinary families, though; she was focused on middle-class and upper middle-class audiences and was content being considered a snob.

For the Kitchen Reader book club in March, we were tasked with reading any work by or about Elizabeth David and I chose a collection of her published essays called An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. I was prepared to be entertained and to learn a lot about good, fresh food.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Simple Kale Salad

Kale is a luxury good in Singapore. The only kind I can buy is organic kale imported from the USA, with a commensurate price tag. Because it is not very wallet- or earth-friendly, I buy it rarely. But the urge struck and so I wanted to make something that let the kale stand as the star of the dish.

This is a simple massaged kale salad. It's so simple you don't need a recipe for it. Chop up some kale leaves (ribs removed). Mix a vinaigrette with equal parts oil and vinegar. I used white whine vinegar this time. Then massage the kale with the dressing in a large bowl for about a minute by rubbing it in handfuls in your hands. Add some garnishes, like raisins plumped in hot water and toasted sunflower seeds. Voila, a simple kale salad that showcases the leafy green in all its glory.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Zucchini Noodles with Rocket, Lemon, and Capers

People are always asking me how I eat so many vegetables. Today I am going to share with you one of my tricks. I adapted this pasta recipe from a published Donna Hay recipe. Regular readers already know one trick that I used: I replaced the spaghetti with zucchini (courgette) noodles. But today I want to talk about another trick.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pork Banh Mi Lettuce Cups

Anthony and I spent a weekend in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam a couple of years ago. Today's Eating with Ellie recipe is Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi sandwiches, and it brought back memories of our trip.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Courgette, Corn, and Tomato Sautee

Fresh corn looses its sweet flavour soon after harvesting. I read (in The Vegetable Bible) that corn is past its best only a few hours after it is picked. I guess this explains why frozen corn often tastes so good. It is frozen immediately after harvest, thus preserving both nutrition and taste.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cauliflower Gratin

Roasted cauliflower is just so deep, delicious, and nutty. If you grew up with wet, limp, boiled cualiflower, then roasting cauliflower will feel like a whole new vegetable. And to make it even more revelatory, add some caramelised onion, cream, and Gruyere cheese for a gorgeous cauliflower gratin.

This is a recipe from a magazine which said to mix store-bought caramelised onion relish with cauliflower florets, then top it with a mixture of cream and cheese. Since I couldn't find any store-bought relish, so I just made some caramelised onions the day before I wanted to make the gratin.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Seaweed, Ginger, and Carrot Salad

After a recent knee injury, I have started taking swimming lessons. Until last October, I was a keen long-distance runner. Then I had quite a bad injury that put me on crutches for eight weeks. (I wrote about my first social outing with crutches here.) I'm still not able to run, though I have managed to cycle three times in the last few months.

On my physiotherapist's advice, I needed to take up a sport that has a lower impact on my knees. I never learned to swim as a child, so I have just started a series of lessons.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Breakfast Parfait with Grain-Free Muesli

Let’s talk about your first name. Do you like it? Have you ever fantasized about changing it? My parents have often told me that they couldn't agree on my first name. My mother wanted to call me Juliana and my dad wanted Elizabeth. In the end they called me Sarah.

Sometimes I have imagined myself with Juliana or Elizabeth as my name. I think as Juliana I might be more of a romantic--it has a fairy tale ring to it. Elizabeth, meanwhile, sounds regal. I think it might fit with my slightly stoic personality. I would never have been a Lizzie, though, that seems too casual for my sincere side.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tandoori Chicken Wraps

Think about the sensory perception involved in eating tandoori chicken wraps. You smell the spices and the ripe tomatoes. You can see the many colours and the steam coming off the chicken. You hear the lettuce rustling when you put your fingers in for a handful. And you feel the filling inside the flexible wrap when you're eating it. You taste the many flavours one at a time as you munch your dinner.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Easy Grain-Free Blueberry Muffins

I have noticed that the food I make myself just seems to taste better. I know this is a very selfish thing to say. In fact, this kind of selfishness is quite common. We humans overvalue the things we make for ourselves. For example, that Ikea furniture that we put together. It's not the greatest furniture ever but assembling it adds to its value for us.

I was reading about this in Dan Ariely's book The Upside of Irrationality. "Pride of creation and ownership runs deep in human beings." Ariely says that creating food is a good example of this. Even semi-homemade items taste better to us: steps such as adding some herbs to a bottled pasta sauce, mixing curry paste with chicken pieces, or adding eggs to a cake mix. These at-home adjustments give us a feeling of agency over our food, and hence the food tastes better to us.

But often homemade really does taste better, right? It's not just psychology that fresh from the oven muffins taste better than store bought. Adding fresh chopped parsley to a bottled sauce does, indeed, make it taste more fresh. (Although there is a line beyond which I don't think this is true; adding eggs to a cake mix may not actually taste better than a not-at-all homemade factory cake.)


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