Good English Food. Really.


Dorset apple cake, from the Engine Room in Poundbury, Dorset.

Last month’s trip back to the UK was lovely, not least because of all the wonderful food we had. I know “good English food” is an oxymoron in most people’s minds, who tend to think it as stodgy fish and chips, 1970’s prawn cocktails and boiled cauliflower  (I know I did before I went to uni). But there’s lots of good eating to be done there, honestly.

I know of someone who hates food blogs which only talk about food made by other people, instead of food made by the blogger him/herself. Sorry F, but this is really just an exception! Normal recipe service will resume shortly.

More delicious highlights after the jump!

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beef parcels vertical

beef parcels

We had a cookout at our monthly book club meeting yesterday. I paired up with Pauline and our secret ingredients (assigned by P, who was also the host) were “beef” and “dumpling”. Dumpling? She clarified later that she meant wonton skins. So we decided to make small parcels and put mini meatballs and chunks of roasted sweet potato in them, topped with wasabi mayonnaise, torn Thai basil, and shichimi togarashi (Japanese red pepper seasoning).

And they turned out pretty good 🙂 I would recommend them as a nice hor d’oeuvre dish for a party. Five or six of them would be enough as a light meal too.

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101 Chin Chai Meals

Yet another quick post: the Observer Food Monthly has come up with a fantastic list of easy, 10 minute summer meals. Those 10 minutes don’t include cooking time for pasta, rice, etc, and a lot of the recipes require good fresh produce, some of which are probably expensive to buy in Singapore, but there are still many recipes which should be cheap and easy to reproduce within half an hour.

Some faves: prawns in beer, baked mustard mackerel, and ‘almost merguez’ (lamb burgers). I think I’m going to start working my way down the list this week!


A quick gripe: you would think that accuracy would be essential for a cookbook, but while surfing around Nigella’s site I came across the ‘Changes’ page buried somewhere, which lists some 20-odd mistakes in her various books. Some of them are guaranteed to ruin your creations: 3 tablespoons of yeast instead of 3 teaspoons for a pizza recipe, using half of a fruit mixture for a cake instead of the whole thing, 50g golden syrup instead of 150g syrup.

I really can’t understand how she didn’t doublecheck her recipes, and how the printing process can be so loose that so many mistakes could be introduced along the way. What’s worse is that Nigella also gave some half-baked advice about sterilising jars in microwaves and using clingfilm to line pans, and the site now retracts such statements because “it can be hazardous”. No shit sherlock.

Just goes to show that you can’t put all your trust in what cookbooks sometimes tell you, domestic goddess or not!



cupcake quartet

Mmm. Cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. White and dark chocolate cupcakes with vanilla or raspberry buttercream frosting. You can never go wrong with that.

I found a cheap pastry decorating kit at Carrefour (only $4.95, with 6 different nozzles!) and had lots of fun making proper cupcake icing for the cakes I made for Peishan’s book club last Sunday. They were a hit with the girls. Yay!

For the recipe, I basically used the one for the Magnolia Chocolate cupcakes. For the white choc ones, I replaced the dark choc with Cadbury white chocolate and cut down the sugar by half a cup.

As for the buttercream frosting, here’s the recipe:

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basil pork noodles with sliced red peppers

I’ve realised that so far none of the recipes I’ve posted here are actually really chinchai, so I thought I’d share one of my simple ones today. Today I made a variation of Chubby Hubby’s Simple Pork Noodles (which itself was a variation of dan dan mian). By adding basil and red peppers, I gave the dish a nice sweet and fragrant kick, as well as something crunchy as a counterpoint to the soft udon and tasty chewy pork.

basil pork closeup

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s really easy and fast. It probably took me 15 minutes from prep to plating, so it’s perfect when you’re tired from a long day at work and just want a quick and nice meal. Why eat instant noodles when you can make something healthier like this for just a bit more effort and time?

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red velvet cupcakes

red velvet close up red velvet others
L to R: Closeup of cupcake; and my rejected decoration designs, one of which is Nippletastic!

I first encountered red velvet cupcakes at Johanna’s 30th birthday party in New York two years ago. Instead of a birthday cake, she opted for red velvet cupcakes from a famous bakery (I forget which one, but it wasn’t Magnolia). One bite and I was hooked!

red velvet cross-section
Mmm, orgastastic!

As its name suggests, the red velvet cupcake has a lovely deep red colour which you can see better in this cross-section picture. It was a bit scary making the batter, which reminded me of Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Marsyas (which in turn was inspired by flayed skin. Eee.).

That aside, the cupcakes turned out well, with a rich velvety, unbelievably soft texture that’s not oily at all. One thing I like about them is that they’re not too sweet, which is made up for by the frosting.

Recipe after the jump!
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