food

Avocado, cream cheese, tomato and alfalfa sprout sandwich

So this is my favourite sandwich to make at the moment. Avocado, cream cheese, tomato and alfalfa sprouts. I love the creaminess of the avocado (and cream cheese, of course), the sweetness of the tomatoes, with the crunchiness of the alfalfa sprouts. Being a big meat eater, it's hard to believe that it could be so yummy.

Surprisingly, it's also quite filling. But I'd happily eat one of them even if you woke me up at 3am and randomly passed me a sandwich. Just saying.

Alfalfa sprouts + avocado = an awesome sandwich

I've also been adding them to tuna sandwiches and egg sandwiches, which also taste great. What can I say, the crunchiness adds a new dimension to your sandwich and somehow makes it more satisfying to eat.

Cooking Stories

Before I left Jordan, I had this project in mind that I really wanted to do. I wanted to make videos of Arab women, telling their stories and cooking a traditional Arab dish. I had some trouble finding willing participants and fitting it around my studies. But I'm grateful that I managed to film two Arab women, one of them - my Arabic teacher who went above and beyond to help me film this, and the other, the sister of another amazing Arabic teacher who taught me. I really hope I get the chance to create more of these videos and explore deeper into the stories and find more personalities, in Jordan or perhaps another country.

Marmalade making

I made marmalade for the first time this year. I wanted to make it last year, but missed the Seville season. This year, armed with a copy of Salt Sugar Smoke, a bunch of Seville oranges, blood oranges and grapefruit, I finally made my first batch of marmalade. I struggled a fair bit trying to get it to set properly, I think I might not have scraped off enough pectin from the muslin bag. Strangely enough, it seems to be fairly set in my flat, but when I bring it in to the office, it starts to melt. Probably because it is considerably warmer in the office kitchen.

Regardless, it seems to be quite popular, with the jars lasting only a day or 2 when I remember to bring them in. And amazingly, it seems to convert marmalade haters too. So if you want try possibly the best marmalade in the world, check out this recipe by Nick Selby of Melrose & Morgan.

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Peach chiffon cake

Oh my god. This cake. I can’t even begin to.. It’s so good, I could have eaten the whole thing myself. But I didn’t. I had one tiny slice and then put it in a cake tin to give to someone, so I did good there.

I got the cake recipe from here and modified the filling. Instead of buttercream, I filled it with whipped cream mixed with peach puree and then I topped off each layer with thin slices of fresh peaches. I also made it into a three layer cake, as my layers were quite short and I wanted more height.

Portuguese egg tarts

So I've not been cooking or baking that much for the past 2 and a half months, mainly because I was crashing at friend's living room while looking for a flat of my own and then I was fasting for Ramadan and didn't feel like making lots of food I won't be able to eat. But Ramadan is over and I'm a bit more settled in my new flat, so hopefully baking and food photography should slowly come back into my life once more.

I made these tarts to celebrate Eid and also because someone at work asked me to make them. They are sweet, eggy, fluffy and pretty addictive. If you use readymade puff pastry, they're a breeze to make.

Ingredients (makes 24 tarts):
6 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
4 tbsp cornflour
800ml full cream milk
1 vanilla pod/3 tsp vanilla extract
2 sheets of puff pastry

1. Grease 2 shallow muffin trays and preheat oven to 200C.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornflour in a pan until well combined. Slowly add in the milk and mix well with no lumps. If using vanilla pod, scrape the seeds and add to the mixture now.
3. Place the pan over a medium heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Let it simmer for 2-3 mins, then remove from heat. If using vanilla extract, add now and mix until incorporated.
4. Transfer the custard to a bowl, cover, and let it cool.
5. Roll the thawed pastry sheets up like a Swiss roll and cut each roll into twelve discs.

6. Flatten each disc into a rough circle and press into the muffin tray, fill the tarts with custard till about ¾ full and bake for about 20-25 mins.

And then enjoy! They're best served piping hot (well as long as you don't burn your tongue). :)

Epok-epok sardin / Sardine-filled curry puffs

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I guess one of the things about living in the UK and so far away from Singapore is that you end up missing the food a lot. Sure, there are Singaporean/Malaysian restaurants that you can go to, but whenever I go to these places, I just end up comparing how much more I could get for the same price back home.

Recently, I had a hankering to make some curry puffs or epok-epok as we call them in Malay. I remember when I first came to this country and seeing my first Cornish pasty and immediately associating it with the more familiar curry puff, albeit it looking more like a giant-sized curry puff. It's probably more closely-related to an empanada actually.

Some of the normal fillings are:
1. Curried chicken and potatoes
2. Sardines
3. Vegetables such as bean sprouts, carrots and sengkuang (yam bean)

I decide to go for sardines for this one. Spicy sardines, yum!

Filling ingredients:
400g of tinned sardines in tomato sauce
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
5 green chillies, chopped
5 red chillies, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp curry powder
½ tsp cumin powder
juice of ½ a lime
salt and pepper, to taste

Pastry:
300g plain flour
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp ghee
½ tsp salt
170ml hot water

Heat 4 tablespoons oil and fry onions and chillies until fragrant and beginning to brown. Add sardines with the tomato sauce and stir for 2 – 3 minutes.

Break up the sardine and mash them into the onion mixture. Sprinkle over the curry powder and cumin and stir over moderate heat for about 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add salt, sugar and lime juice and stir well. Turn off heat and set aside until cold, while you make the pastry.

For the pastry, combine the flour, oil, ghee and salt and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then add the water and mix (careful not to overwork it) until you get a soft dough. Leave it to rest for 15-30 minutes.

When the dough is ready to be worked with, divide it into 20 small balls. Flatten each ball into a circle and put 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold into half/semi-circles and crimp the edges.

Deep-fry until golden brown and drain on kitchen towel paper. Then enjoy!