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On Sunday I woke up from an early afternoon nap with a seasonal itch to bake cookies.

Now, at any given moment I carry around in my brain a list of recently acquired, exciting ingredients I want to use, and in my half-slumber I started to review them. Jumping to the forefront were the broken walnuts I'd gotten for a good price at the organic store -- if you're going to chop them, why buy whole kernels? -- and a handsome bag of grated chocolate from Alain Ducasse's bean-to-bar manufacture*, which I'd been sneaking a spoonful of here and there while trying to think of a more respectable use for it.

Chocolate walnut cookies; that's what I was going to make.

I wanted a simple, one-bowl cookie base that would get me from start to finish in under an hour, and I wanted something reasonably nutritious so I could share with my toddler without triggering a surprise inspection from the bad parent police. The recipe for these walnut and date cookies, which I've been making regularly for the past three years, fit the bill perfectly.
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- Chocolate Walnut Cookies

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 Starbucks Plans to Break Own Record of 2 Million Holiday Gift Alerter l'administrateur Recommander à un ami Lien de l'article 

starbucks card

Do you often turn to Starbucks gift cards as last-minute presents? So does everyone else, apparently. According to the New York Daily News, Starbucks sold 2 million gift cards on the Thursday before Christmas last year. And this year the coffee chain says it thinks that it will surpass its own record on that same Thursday. "One in every 10 American adults received a Starbucks Card last holiday season, and we're on track for another record performance," stated Adam Brotman, Starbucks' chief digital officer. In the 12 years since Starbucks has offered the gift cards, more than $16 million has been added to 450 million cards in 27 countries. 

  Lire le commentaire | Ecrire un nouveau commentaire Posté le 09-01-2014 à 02h40

 Orange Ginger Chicken Alerter l'administrateur Recommander à un ami Lien de l'article 

As summer rolls around, we all look for ways to escape the steamy city fug.  Sometimes that means jetting off to one of our 7,000 (plus, plus) islands to lie on white beaches, sip chilled fruit drinks, and marvel at glorious sunsets tom ford sunglasses.  Other times it means packing a whole host of toys and snacks into our car and driving to the suburbs – to one of our friends who are lucky enough to have both a garden and a pool – for a much needed break from the heat that our concrete jungle so skillfully traps within its walls.

The other week, with city-escape in mind, we were at friends' house for swimming and barbecue.  They have a wonderful home with spacious garden where the kids can run around, a pool where everyone can cool off, and a grill that looks like a little space pod.  They also have a mango tree that produces the best Indian mangoes that are absolute magic with bagoong (shrimp paste).  It is usually while lazing on a lounge chair under that tree, eating those mangoes with the aforementioned shrimp paste, listening to the birds we do not hear in our city flat, that C and I dream and wonder, for one glorious minute (or two), about packing it all in and moving to the suburbs.

Anyway.  It was during that barbecue that I met this lovely girl.  We sat beside each other for lunch and chatted away about food and kids and dancing and the possibilities of a zumba class in my future.  We talked about feeding our kids healthy stuff, and homemade food that was quick and easy.  With a friend, she had written a cookbook about that very subject!  And shyly offered me a copy…would I like one?  Um, yes please and thank you :)

Here's one of the recipes…

Orange Ginger Chicken
(adapted from Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids by Katrina Ripoll and Lara Saunders)

    6 pieces chicken thighs
    1/2 cup orange marmalade
    3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
    1 tablespoon water
    2 garlic cloves, very finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
    A dash of sesame oil
    Optional: a dash of chili oil


- In a bowl, mix together the marmalade, soy sauce, ginger, water, garlic, sesame oil, and chili oil if using.
- Pat your chicken pieces with a paper towel until very dry.  Place in one layer in a baking tray or pyrex dish.  Pour about 2/3 of the marmalade mixture on top and save the rest for basting.  Rub the marmalade mixture all over the chicken Cloud Provider.
- Place the chicken in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 45 minutes – 1 hour or until chicken is done (when there's no pink in the juices when pierced), basting with the reserved sauce and pan juices about 2-3 times throughout.
- When the chicken is done, transfer pieces to a platter.  Transfer all the juices and sauce from the baking dish into a pan, together with any remaining sauce that you used for basting.  Simmer rapidly for a couple of minutes or until slightly reduced.  Serve alongside the chicken.

The original recipe uses chicken breast fillets and pan fries them, and then adds the sauce to the pan, letting it bubble away for a bit.  I didn't have any breast fillets, but I always have chicken thighs hanging around so I used those.  And because I prefer cooking in the oven rather than on the hob (because ultimately I am lazy) I decided to bake them.  I'll give myself plus points though because I used homemade marmalade (here's the recipe).

I loved how this turned out.  Firstly, let me just say I could drink this sauce.  Just from the first lick I knew I would like the finished product.  It's sweet, savory, sticky, and if you use the chili oil, can also have a bit of a kick.  Basically all that I gravitate towards in a sauce.  So, at that point, I was already sold.  Added to that, it's a breeze to make and quite thrifty too if you consider chicken being one of the most affordable meats here.  This is definitely going to be made again…along with other variations: maybe with prawns next time (not so thrifty but we all deserve a splurge sometimes right??).

There are more dishes I've bookmarked to try, like the World Cup Chilean Chicken and the Sunny Mango Sponge cake.  What I like about this cookbook is its relaxed and approachable vibe.  It focuses on the basic concepts of healthy eating without being too stringent about it, especially important and appealing I think for moms who, between work and family, have hardly a moment to cook.  I also secretly like that it's written by two Filipino moms – I love seeing more Filipinos out there, being published and sharing their great ideas with the world iPhone 4 casing!


Maybe I'll be making one of these recipes for our next suburban potluck…let's see!  Until then, we are getting our sunnies on, whipping out the flip flops, and trying to stay cool!  Hope you are all having a fantastic weekend!

  Lire le commentaire | Ecrire un nouveau commentaire Posté le 19-03-2014 à 02h35

 From Tanzania to Peru to Texas (or lunch at your place) Cookbooks Alerter l'administrateur Recommander à un ami Lien de l'article 

Any fans of Lisa Fain’s first cookbook, Homesick Texan or her blog, Homesick Texan, will surely enjoy Homesick Texan's Family Table, her latest cookbook of recipes inspired by family favorites. Fain always manages to put her own twist on the recipes, updating them, making them even better than you might remember and her stories of growing up in Texas will charm even those who have never been to the Lone Star state. There are plenty of guilty pleasure recipes like Bacon and Chipotle Corn Pudding, Stacked Jalapeño Cheese Enchiladas and Potato Chorizo Breakfast Tacos, but also more modern fare like Blueberry Granola, Turkey Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Chipotle Sauce and Tuna with Avocado and Red Pepper Baked in Parchment.

I tend to shy away from self-published books, but I was intrigued by Taste of Tanzania Modern Swahili Recipes for the West. I’ve not seen very many African cookbooks and even fewer designed for a Western audience. There are many indigenous ingredients that you won’t be able to find, and author Miriam Kinunda has made substations and focused on recipes that are more practical. The recipes show a wide range of influences, Persian, Portuguese, Indian and also some Asian and European and has a lot of soup, stew and vegetable dishes. Some particularly appealing recipes include Swahili Beans, red beans cooked with coconut milk, onions, ginger, tomatoes and cilantro, Fish in Peanut Sauce and Ginger Tea.

With the title “Ceviche” you might be inclined to think this is a cookbook of ceviche recipes. But it’s actually Ceviche Peruvian Cuisine is a cookbook of recipes from a Peruvian restaurant in London named “Ceviche.” Ok, now that we have that out of the way, this is a really cool book. It’s all about Peruvian cuisine which is a pretty interesting thanks to influences from Spain, Italy, Africa, China and Japan and of course indigenous ingredients (think quinoa, potatoes and pisco). The cooking techniques are different too, like the staple Huancaina sauce with onion, garlic, amarilla chile paste, fresh cheese, evaporated milk all bound together with crushed cream crackers. There are actually recipes for ceviche, and plenty of other seafood, as well as vegetable dishes like avocado and rice fritters, potato based “causas,” a kind of mashed potato cake, Andean pork and potato casserole and classics like lomo saltado, a Pervuican style beef stir dry. There is also a section on cocktails. Some ingredients like rocoto, goldenberries and chulpe corn may be unfamiliar, this is a cuisine worth getting to know and the book is a great place to start.


I love the idea behind Lunch at the Shop  which is to cook a mid day meal at your office. The photographs and styling by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton is lovely, unfortunately I found the recipes to be more like a mishmash of ideas that generally involved a lot of the same ingredients—beans, pasta, and avocado. Also many of the recipes require cooking something at home, then basically reheating it at the office. One recipe suggests stretching store-bought sushi with a salad of bibb lettuce and some orange and avocado. I get it. Be creative and use what's at your disposal. But I didn’t find the recipes (such as that one) worthy of book status. Nor do I believe, despite what the author says, that spaghetti and clams is a good dish to reheat and serve at work.

  Aucun commentaire | Ecrire un nouveau commentaire Posté le 08-07-2014 à 05h09

 Andouille and Beef Burgers with Spicy Mayo and Caramelized Onions Alerter l'administrateur Recommander à un ami Lien de l'article 

Prolific cookbook author James McNair has been chief judge of Sutter Home Winery's burger cook-off since it began in Napa in 1990. One of his books, Build a Better Burger, includes every winning recipe. Some past winners — and McNair's Louisiana roots — inspired the burger here hong kong heritage cycling tour.

 For mayonnaise:
Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Cover and chill.

Do ahead: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For burgers:
Toss first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Add beef; blend gently. Shape mixture into six 1/2-inch-thick patties. Transfer patties to small baking sheet.

Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

For onions:
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Toss onions and next 3 ingredients in large skillet. Place skillet on grill; cook until onions are golden, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Remove from grill; season with salt and pepper reenex好唔好.

Brush grill rack with olive oil. Grill buns, cut side down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer buns to work surface. Grill burgers until brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn over; sprinkle with cheese. Grill until burgers are cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium. Place some onions, then burger, on each bun bottom. Top each with okra and watercress. Spread mayonnaise on cut side of bun tops; place on burgers. Serve with remaining mayonnaise company registration hong kong.

*Shopping tip: Look for pickled okra where the pickles and relishes are displayed. 

  Aucun commentaire | Ecrire un nouveau commentaire Posté le 20-08-2014 à 20h12

 Pea & Bacon Soup (with bacon bits and garlic croutons) Alerter l'administrateur Recommander à un ami Lien de l'article 

We are beset by rains once again.  It's typhoon season and another big one has just hit us.  Actually, more than big, she was strong...and ravenous.  She flew in Wednesday morning and left havoc and debris in her insolent wake.  I feel lucky that we have a roof over our heads, a safe place to hunker down during these times.  We watched the wind whip the trees and the rain come down in slanted sheets while we were in our pajamas, dry behind our windows EGF.  Little C's eyes were round saucers as typhoons are very much new to her 4-year-old consciousness.

It wasn't just the trees that bore the brunt though.  The storm brought our electricity down as well.  Some of my friends have yet to get their power back.  Some even lost water.  And those of us whose lights are back still experience scheduled rotational power outages.  This is not even to mention those that have had homes and property damaged.  Once again we find ourselves with the task of rebuilding, picking up after yet another storm.

I am grateful our area remained relatively unscathed save for some battered trees and broken branches, and that we haven't lost power for too long.  We don't have a hoard of emergency supplies reenex, but we do have our flashlights, extra batteries, water, and a few go-to pantry staples.  Some of which go into this dish.  Here's a little something for a "rainy day".

Pea & Bacon Soup (with bacon bits and garlic croutons)

    Olive oil
    1 white onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, finely chopped + 1 clove finely minced
    150 grams + 100 grams slab bacon, chopped
    500 grams frozen peas
    3-4 cups water (750 ml – 1 liter)
    Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
    3-4 slices day old bread, chopped


- Heat a pot over medium high heat.  Add the oil and when this is hot add the onions and the 4 cloves chopped garlic.  Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, taking care not to brown the garlic.
-  Add the 150 grams bacon and let this fry, stirring occasionally, until some of the bacon fat has rendered, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the peas and toss, just until it loses its frozen appearance.  Add 3 cups water (to start) and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.  Take this off the heat and let it cool a bit.
-  When the soup has had a chance to cool slightly transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to process until smooth.  Place the soup back on the heat and season with the salt and pepper to taste.  If it is too thick for your liking then add more water.
- While your soup is cooking, or while it is cooling, you can make your bacon bits and croutons: Heat a skillet over high heat.  When hot, add the 100 grams chopped bacon and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is starting to brown and crisp at some edges.  Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the rendered fat behind still on the heat.  Into the hot fat add your bread and the 1 clove minced garlic.  Fry, tossing, until the bread is crisp and golden.  Remove from pan and set aside.
- Serve the soup with the bacon bits and croutons to go over each serving.

I call this rainy day food for two reasons: firstly because who doesn't like hot soup when it is gloomy and wet outside?  And secondly because it is made with ingredients I usually always have stashed away reenex…which is really all you have left to use when a howling tropical cyclone is keeping you from going anywhere.  Frozen peas and bacon are fixtures in my freezer.  Bacon is a savior in so many situations…especially when you need to perk up a blah dish.  Frozen peas ensures that you always have a vegetable at the ready, even if you haven't had time to buy fresh from the market.  I need to mention though that there is a third reason: I absolutely love both!

On the same note as these "freezer staples", I guess I should mention here the bread for the croutons.  I never throw bread out…even the straggling last slices, or hardened ends.  I toss everything into a bag and keep them in the freezer (actually I freeze all my bread…they stay fresher that way).  If you have old bread in the freezer you will always have a way to make croutons and breadcrumbs.  Fight food waste!

This soup is good on its own but is really extra special with the bacon bits and croutons so try to have them together.  If it's a stormy day then you won't have much else to do.  This is also excellent with some truffle oil drizzled on top, if you happen to have some around.

I hope you are ok wherever you are…that your power is up, the pieces picked up, the house dry, and that you have something warm and sustaining on your table.  Wishing you all a restful weekend!


P.S.  Due to all that's been happening, and power being down for so many, I'll be extending the deadline for entries for my Singapore Cooking cookbook giveaway to next week.  You still have a chance to win!  Just leave a comment on this post…that's it!

  Aucun commentaire | Ecrire un nouveau commentaire Posté le 10-10-2014 à 08h12


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